Thoughts on Seattle @ Washington
All week the Seahawks have been praised, promoted and respected. It’s now time to prove the hype is justified.
I’ve never seen so many members of the media fall over themselves to declare the Seahawks as Super Bowl contenders. They’re a great ‘on paper’ team. Statistically they rank well in all three facets of the game. They have key positions filled with talented players. There’s the quarterback, running back, shutdown corner, left tackle, passer rusher with double digit sacks. There’s a lot of balance on the roster. And they play a style of football that traditionally does well in the playoffs.
None of this means much. Because the people who watch the Seahawks every week know the deal. This is a young team still growing into its trousers. There are issues that flare up every now and again. Third down defense, pass rush on early downs, pass protection against certain schemes, run defense. There are also a ton of positives too, but this isn’t a flawless team. And they’ll have to play a great game to beat the Washington Redskins.
For me it’s all about establishing an early lead and chipping away. I don’t think it’ll be a high scoring game. It could play out a little like the Bears game. But getting a lead and keeping the Redskins at arms length will be crucial. Alfred Morris and the Shanahan ZBS can beat the Seahawks. They’ll be able to run to the left side and have some success there.
Seattle has to try and minimise the threat and make the Redskins chase. If Washington gets in front, they’ll run it and let Robert Griffin III manage the situation. He isn’t turning the ball over and he won’t make mistakes if he’s protecting a lead. He might make mistakes if he has to force things. The run is less of a factor if the Redskins have to chase the game. Starting fast is always important, but it may be more so tomorrow.
I think Jim Haslett will blitz a lot, just like he did against Dallas. Russell Wilson is more mobile than Tony Romo, but Romo has always had a knack of extending plays. Not against Washington last week. H looked like Ryan Mallett in the pocket last weekend, struggling to find time and exploit a shaky Redskins secondary. The St. Louis Rams gave Haslett a blue print on how to rush against the Seahawks, so there could be some issues in the first half again.
Seattle needs the offensive line to step up again. They’d played very well in recent weeks until that half against the Rams. It might be best to play max-protect early and rely on the receivers, knowing that Rice, Tate or Baldwin are likely to match up well against DeAngelo Hall and co. Washington’s pass rush isn’t quite as emphatic as St. Louis’ and it’s a different scheme. The Seahawks handled San Francisco’s 3-4 handily. Getting the read-option going will help and Washington didn’t do a great job against Cam Newton and the Panthers in week nine.
I think it’s the greatest review of Seattle’s quarterback situation and how it’s changed that I don’t have any concerns about Russell Wilson going into this game. I feel pretty confident he’ll do his job well. And if the Seahawks lose, it won’t be on the quarterback. Imagine that. Just a few months ago this team had no hope at quarterback. Now they have one of the best young signal callers in the league. For a third round pick.
For a couple of weeks people have talked about Seattle being the team nobody wanted to face in the playoffs. Now it’s time to back that up. Even though I’d say it’s a coin-toss type of game, it’ll also be very disappointing if a season of such promise ended with a first round playoff defeat. If there’s one thing worse than nobody talking about you, it’s being called a fraud. The Seahawks are getting praise. Time to prove it’s worthy.
DeAndre Hopkins tape vs five teams
Thanks to JMPasq for putting this together. We’ve talked a lot about DeAndre Hopkins on the blog this week and even mocked him to Seattle in round one. Here’s a compilation of his performances against Florida State, South Carolina, Georgia Tech, Boston College and NC State.
Will Sutton vs Navy
This was a pretty odd performance. For most of the game he did very little, often getting pushed around at the line of scrimmage and failing to have an impact. Then right at the end, he exploded into action. Sutton was only credited with 2.5 sacks according to ESPN, but it looks more like four to me. Either way he ends the year with 13 sacks which is very impressive for an interior pass rusher.
Is he stout enough against the run to be an early down lineman? That’s the big question. Without doubt he has a spark as a pass rusher. But if he’s getting blown up more often than he’s penetrating into the backfield, he’ll be a liability. As a mid-round option though he’s incredibly intriguing. I wish he had a similar kind of mean streak to Sheldon Richardson. I wish he was a little bigger. He’s still one to monitor.