With no sign of the stalemate ending, here’s a couple of quick thoughts on the situation. Having gone this far it really doesn’t benefit Chancellor to report for the first two games unless the Seahawks make an attractive offer. St. Louis and Green Bay on the road — two tough games — have the potential to strengthen his position. An 0-2 Seahawks team would be under pressure to end the holdout. Alternatively, if they win both or go 1-1, Chancellor won’t have much to gain by holding out any further heading into a stretch of winnable games.
How key would Chancellor be in weeks 1-2?
The Rams are traditionally slow starters. They’re 1-7 in season openers over the last eight years, with many of those games at home. They lost 34-6 to the Vikings at home last season. Their win came in 2013 — a tight victory against Arizona. They’re also 2-1 in home games against the Seahawks in the last three years — and that probably should be 3-0. Seattle really struggled in their 2013 victory and were lucky to escape with a win.
Many will focus on the battle between St. Louis’ fearsome defensive line and Seattle’s inexperienced O-line. It could be a red-herring. The Seahawks won in St. Louis in 2013 with Paul McQuistan and Michael Bowie playing tackle. Last year Russell Wilson was reasonably well protected and made several big plays. Seattle often plays sloppy in St. Louis and that might be the greater key to winning the game. They’ve allowed momentum-shifting big plays and too many special teams gaffes. Cut those out and they have a good chance to win the opener.
The Rams used a dink-and-dunk passing game to great effect last year against the Seahawks. Kam Chancellor played but was far from 100% healthy. It’s harder to run endless crossing routes with a big imposing strong safety ready to deliver a hit over the middle. Even so, it’s hard to imagine the difference between a win and a loss being Chancellor’s presence in the secondary. It really comes down to the Seahawks playing a much cleaner game in St. Louis.
Green Bay are the type of opponent where you just want everyone available because they’re a really good team. It’s hard enough to win in Lambeau without any avoidable absentee’s. However, there’s one big key for the Seahawks that doesn’t involve Chancellor.
Jim Harbaugh’s 49ers were kryptonite to the Packers. Dom Capers’ defense is well organised but very orthodox. Despite many attempts they never got to grips with Colin Kaepernick running the read-option. San Francisco and Harbaugh went 4-0 against this Packers team:
2013 playoffs — 49ers win 23-20 @ Lambeau
2013 regular season — 49ers win 34-28 @ Candlestick
2012 playoffs — 49ers win 45-31 @ Candlestick
2012 regular season — 49ers win 30-22 @ Lambeau
In the 2012 playoff game, Kaepernick passed for 263 yards and ran for 181. In the 2013 playoff game he passed for 227 and ran for 98 yards. He passed for 412 yards in the 2013 regular season game.
The Packers had no answer.
In fairness they didn’t have much answer for Seattle’s trickery in week one last year either. In the NFC Championship game — without Percy Harvin and with an unusually low-key game plan — Green Bay found a way to impact Seattle’s offense. The Seahawks didn’t run the ball and Wilson was under constant duress working from the pocket. If they learn from that experience, they’ll use a lot more of the Lynch-Wilson combo with the read-option. They need to be somewhat creative. Capers’ defense isn’t the best when adapting to the unknown.
Aaron Rodgers will still score points in the game and while you’d rather have Chancellor play — again it probably isn’t the deciding factor. Seattle’s ability to limit the damage on defense and keep scoring on offense will be important. In 2012 they sacked Rodgers eight times in a half and shut down the Packers offense. This could be a night for the newly dangerous D-line rather than anyone in the secondary.
For those reasons it might be worth the Seahawks maintaining their position a little while longer. Admittedly that doesn’t account for the loss of leadership. Chancellor is clearly more than just an imposing strong safety — he’s a vital part of the locker room and his return would no doubt provide the entire team with a huge lift. That’s a loss the Seahawks will have to suffer if they maintain their understandable hardline stance on the hold out.
Both parties can make a case for waiting until after week two to assess their options. If the Seahawks go 2-0 with two tough road wins minus Chancellor, what leverage does he have? If they go 0-2, there will be intense pressure to get Chancellor back on the field with a heavier wallet.