Curtis Allen’s week seven watch points (vs Saints)

Note: This is a guest post by Curtis Allen and the latest piece in a weekly series. Curtis looks at the Seahawks and their opponents and discusses key factors…

Sean Peyton has always excelled at helping his team through stretches of games when Saints’ star players get hurt but this year he has outdone himself.

The team has been without Michael Thomas, Kwon Alexander, Marcus Davenport, Will Lutz and Brian Poole due to injury and David Onyemata to a suspension.

This after losing Drew Brees, Jared Cook, Latavius Murray, Emmanuel Sanders, Alex Anzalone and Sheldon Rankins in the offseason.

A hurricane chased them from their practice facilities and their own stadium for their home opener.

The fact that Peyton has them at 3-2 and a favourite to beat the Seahawks in Seattle on Monday night stands as a sparkling testament to the job he has done this year so far. He has the Saints playing extremely clean football, with the fifth fewest penalties and the fifth best turnover differential in the league.

Meanwhile, the Seahawks are drifting at 2-4 and are fighting off questions about alarm bells ringing and the season being in the balance. The team has back-to-back primetime games – something considered unfathomable in years past – and looking at a potential third in a row with Russell Wilson still on injured reserve.

The season is quickly slipping into a very difficult place.

Pete Carroll knows this is the case and his language is starting to get more desperate six games in.  Monday he said this:

“As it is always the case, postponing judgement is a powerful tool if you have it and that’s what we have to do,” Carroll said. “We gotta take it one game at a time just like we know how to do, but we have to really stay focused and postpone what the story is going to be. We know that’s the truth but it’s hard to do, and so that’s what we are going to go about doing. So it’s a challenge, I gotta lead the charge, and I’m gonna kick ass on that.”

The defense made commendable progress last week against Pittsburgh but it was not enough to secure a win.

The offense had good stretches but seemed handcuffed by the play-calling at times.

A 3-4 record looks so much better than 2-5, particularly in this division. The Seahawks must find a way to win on Monday in order to get back into the playoff picture.

How can the Seahawks get there?

Contain Alvin Kamara

This has been the priority when attempting to defend against the Saints offense in recent times.

But this season, with Drew Brees gone and several top players injured, the Saints are leaning on Kamara like never before.

He is responsible for an incredible 48% of the team’s total touches. Even when Kamara is not getting the ball, Peyton smartly has him as a decoy in play action or as a swing pass safety valve to draw a defender out to him and open up the middle.

Kamara has 109 touches so far in 2021. The Saints player with the next most touches? Running Back Tony Jones with only 23.

So, when we say if you stop Kamara, you will greatly hinder the Saints offense, we are saying it in the most literal way possible.

The primary way to contain him? 

Tackle him on the first try. Alvin Kamara is the king of broken tackles. Since 2018, he has 113 broken tackles, easily the most of any player in the NFL. Nick Chubb is a distant second with 96. 

(Chris Carson is fourth with 82)

Of course, that is easier said than done. Kamara has legendary balance and agility and the scheme Peyton puts him in contributes to him having good angles in order to present a slim target to tacklers.

The Seahawks got a front row seat to the show in Week 3 of 2019. Kamara had a stunning eight broken tackles in that game alone. How did he do it? His skill was absolutely a factor but look at the tape and count how many Seahawk tacklers tried to just knock him over or otherwise arm tackle him high, rather than follow the ‘rugby style’ form of tackling at the waist that Pete Carroll has preached so heavily:

Kamara ended up with 161 total yards and two touchdowns in that game. More importantly, he had 50 yards after contact in the rushing game and 102 yards after the catch in the receiving game.

The vast majority of Kamara’s yards came after the catch or after first contact. Inexcusable.

The linebackers had a terrible day and the poor tackling was noted by Pete Carroll in his opening comments after the game. Mychal Kendricks was particularly bad but the highlight clip shows bad tackling attempts by K.J. Wright and Bobby Wagner as well.

There is no excuse for not playing technically sound football at this level. Here’s hoping the Seahawks put a special emphasis on it this week in practice.

Kamara is going to his touches and his yards. That is just a fact beyond the Seahawks’ control. What they can control, is how many yards he gets after he encounters a defender.

If they can keep him in check, they will have a terrific chance at winning this game.

The defensive line must step up

This is not a key that is particular to this game against the Saints. It’s just something the Seahawks badly need to improve upon as quickly as possible.

The defensive line, once touted by many as a deep reservoir of talent that could really be a team strength in 2021, has proven to be a liability so far this season overall.

The Seahawks have recorded ten sacks, good for a tie at 26th overall in the NFL so far this season.

Two of those sacks belong to linebackers (Bobby Wagner and Jordyn Brooks).

That is an optimistic position right now. Why? Two of the teams behind them in total sacks have only played five games to the Seahawks’ six games so far. The Seahawks have a full extra game of non-productive play added to their total.

They are also 30th in rushing defense — giving up an average of 140.8 yards per game. They have yet to hold an opponent under 100 yards rushing in a game this year.

What was once thought of as a middling defensive line has been one of the NFL’s worst so far this season. Have a look at this simple chart:

Other than Darrell Taylor’s production efficiency, there is not much to like.

Alton Robinson seems to be held back despite some very solid play so far. He got one snap on defense against the Steelers and Pete Carroll confirmed it was not due to injury. He gave a bland answer when asked why.

Something has got to give at this point. Either the team must scheme better, coach better, redistribute their snaps to the young talent and live with the occasional blown play, or acquire some new talent if they want to compete.

It might benefit the team in the short term to start heavily blitzing again. They cannot get pressure and their TFL numbers indicate they are not getting into the opponents’ backfield very much.

The defense seems to be passively waiting for the opposing offense to make their move and then reacting to it. And rather badly, at that.

When you are playing Sean Peyton, that strategy is an open invitation to be picked apart. He is a master of finding space for his players and letting them display their skillsets.

You just know that Peyton has seen the Seahawks deploying Benson Mayowa and Carlos Dunlap against running backs in coverage. That is a massive mismatch when Alvin Kamara is on the field.

Blitzing early and often disrupts those potential plays and does not allow Peyton to build a theme or rhythm. If he does, he can connect some further wrinkles later in the game to take advantage of the patterns he has built.

What’s more, Jameis Winston is not good at all against the blitz. So far this year, he has an 85-quarterback rating off a 55% completion rate when blitzed.

Note the disparity in Winston’s numbers when under pressure:

As you can see, he still panics and misses wide open receivers when under pressure.

Give him time and he can be very effective.

Just like last week, the Seahawks are facing a team with a middling quarterback and a potent rushing attack. The defense could have won the game for them last week. They can this week as well. They must be better in order to do so.

Play your game on offense

The Saints have been getting some shine in the press for their defense so far this year. It is not as good as it is made out to be. The Seahawks need to understand this in their game planning.

The New Orleans rush defense is #2 in the NFL with 79 yards per game allowed.

Let’s give that number a little perspective.

In Week One against the Packers they were able to jump out to a big lead, forcing the Packers to abandon the running game. Aaron Jones, one of the game’s best running backs, only got five rushing attempts. As a team they only ran the ball 15 times.

In Week Two against the Panthers and Week 4 against the Giants, those teams used the run with their feature backs to set up the pass. Christian McCaffrey burned them for 65 yards on 5 catches and Saquon Barkley got 74 yards on 5 catches and a touchdown. He also ran right up the gut for six yards in overtime for the winning touchdown.

In Week 3 the Patriots only ran the ball 17 times.

The sample size, quality of opponent, game strategy and results in other areas are beefing up the Saints’ run defense numbers.

The Seahawks can run on them. It should not be curtailed in this week’s game plan out of fear of their tremendous defense.

How about in pass defense? They are 23rd in the NFL in passing yards allowed at 275 yards per game.

Their pass rush has been truly awful – even worse than the Seahawks’.  They have only nine sacks and 55 pressures so far this season.

Geno Smith will have time in the pocket to make his reads.

Daniel Jones had enough time in the pocket to burn them for 402 yards with an amazing twelve explosive pass plays.

Their starting defensive backfield averaged a 115-quarterback rating in that game. Star corner Marcus Lattimore surrendered a 149 passer rating in coverage.

The Saints have yet to face a group as formidable as the Seahawk receivers and tight ends.

So while the Saints should get some credit for their good numbers so far, a closer look shows that this defense is not as formidable as it appears.

Win in the red zone

Two stunning stats:

The Saints are #1 in the NFL on offense in the red zone, scoring a touchdown a fantastic 92.86% of their times in the red zone.

They are also #1 in the NFL on defense in the red zone, only allowing a touchdown on 35.71% of opponent trips in the end zone.

The Seahawks actually match up very well. They are #4 on offense and #7 on defense.

It is very likely the winner in the red zone wins the game.

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  1. L80

    How much more do we as fans have to hold onto, “they should be playing this player more”?

    Robinson is young and should be out there 70%. Unbelievable that these absolute TURKEYS don’t play him. Hell, they can’t even activate their #1 draft picks for DL.

    This front office is a nightmare. The coaching staff is a JOKE if they can’t even figure it out. The Hawks are now brown bag,….Blech

    • Rob Staton

      Carroll’s ‘yeah whoops we should’ve played him more… my bad’ answer on Alton Robinson was embarrassing.

      • cha

        That was bad, but what really underlines it to me is how many times Carroll has said ‘Robinson should get more playing time.’

        He said it a couple times during the season, said it a few times in the offseason (yeah, after getting a sack in only 17 snaps or so a couple times down the stretch…brilliant), he said it again after getting Robinson only 18 snaps in the Tennessee game (in which he got a strip sack to deliver 7 easy points), and has said it a couple times since.

        Something is clearly going on. And it stinks.

        • Big Mike

          Carroll stinks

        • BobbyK

          He’s been pretty stupid about pass rushers like that throughout his career. Remember when Frank Clark was a rookie and at the end of the season press conference, Carroll said he wished they’d have played Frank more? Then the following year when he was coming into his own, Carroll said again what a mistake it was not to play him more as a rookie. Then Carroll did the same thing recently with Darrell Taylor (he should be playing more snaps), yet it’s a bum like Mayowa out there more often than someone with actual pass rush skills (Taylor), never mind a young talent like Robinson not getting hardly any PT.

          I’ll still never forget a washed up Truant getting hurt and WTIII taking over for him and it was obvious WTIII was better than Truant. Then WTIII got hurt and third stringer Richard Sherman took over and never looked back. How does Pete not know who the better football players are?

          I can see why Pete would have a bum like Mayowa on the field in early downs because he’s a better assignment sound player, but when you need to pin your ears back and go get the QB on 3rd downs – it is criminal to have a guy like Mayowa on the field when a guy like Taylor is on the bench watching the action.

          • Rob Staton

            Pete also said they should’ve played Bennett more in 2013.

            He’s been saying they should play a good pass rusher more often for basically his entire time in Seattle

            • BobbyK


          • Tallyhawk

            Pete said after the playoff loss in 12 when Clem was hurt he’d never be short of pass rushers again. They got lucky with a soft market that offseason and added Bennett and Avril which turned that D into an all time great. They’ve been negligent ever since. They took a lot of heat drafting Clark only to refuse to pay him when the time came.

            • L80

              Then they gave up a 2nd for Richardson who had no contract so when he saw WTF was going on he got the hell out. Same with Clowney. Supposedly he and pete/John were close and respected each other….In the end both of them bolted afted seeing what is going on here.

              It’s beyond the time for a regime change here, and we’re in a weird spot with Paul not here. We as fans are just more in limbo than they are.

              I’m writing off the excuses now. They draft players that are perenially injured, they trade for players that dont fit their scheme, they use whatever draft capital on players that are fringe at best. They don’t adhere to the coaching principles and the way they build a team…

              I mean, how many more ways can you fuck something up?….Wait, there’s more…..

  2. Ashish

    Hats off Cha, writing an article for upcoming game during this depressing time. After 1st game nothing is going in Hawks favor including Russ getting injured and missing game first time.

    Thank you Cha, really appreciate it.

    • cha

      You’re very welcome

  3. Big Mike

    Appreciate your efforts as always cha. I got a bad feeling about Jameis and Kamara lighting up the Seahawks D this week. And how many “tackles” by the peacock is Alvin gonna break. Over/under is 5.

  4. AlaskaHawk

    I like your write ups Cha. I misread your first statement as stop Kamara by tackling him immediately. Forget the play – just tackle him. Might be a game winning strategy!!!

    Just looking at the defensive stats, seems like Poona Ford and Al Woods are earning their money. Someone has to hold the middle of the line. I agree we need more playing time from Taylor. The guy I am wondering about is Kerry Hyder. 290 pounds and 6′ 2- 1/2″, he’s a big defensive end. Some how I missed that he was playing for the Seahawks.

    My big question revolves around Collins and Penny. We need Collins for his running power. I think we would have beat the Steelers if he hadn’t got hurt. I would like to think that a healthy Penny would be really good, but it is his first game back so this could go either way. Maybe he is rusty, maybe he gets hurt, maybe he runs well and makes a lot of yards. Lots of question marks.

    Or maybe Geno Smith and the receivers have a good day. That would be a nice change.

  5. Kurt Frederick ZUMDIECK


    Great job pointing out ways that the Seahawks could win,… but they won’t. Lack of playmakers – dawgs. This passivity tells me that they are in the throes of a just-give-up-on-the-old-coach and do the minimum to not get cut.

    Said for awhile that the locker room has given up on PC. There are a lot of ways that plays out, but one way is for the veterans to take a play off here and there, show the high priced guys what they are really worth, not much more than them.

    Another way is to run a play as the coaches want, knowing from the film that YOU watched, that the other guys have tendency to do something else. Your gut tells you what is coming, but you do it the way its diagrammed up and it ends in a big play for them.

    May explain why a rookie like Tre Brown is out there balling out. He hasn’t got the memo. Somebody will have a talk with the ‘rook here soon.

    • cha

      I’m not sure I buy your premise that the players have given up on Pete.

      The first quarter of the Niners game was about as bad as it could get. They rallied.

      Russell Wilson busts a finger against the Rams. They rally.

      They look pretty lackluster against the Steelers in the first half. They come right out of the locker room and mow them down with the running game and force OT.

      Pete does a lot of questionable, frustrating things. But I’m not sure he’s lost the locker room.

  6. Ashish

    Seahawks season is in jeopardy, trying to divert my attention to T20 cricket world cup. Rob are you planning to follow?

  7. Paul Cook

    Huskies win tonight. Barely eke out a win against possibly the worst team in the power 5 conferences. Talking about putting lipstick on a pig. Zero points at the half. Geez…what a long fall this program has taken in such a short amount of time.

    • Rob Staton

      Need a clean sweep of staff too

      • Paul Cook

        It might have to be so. The thing is it might go even higher than head coach Lake and his staff. This is calling into question Jen Cohen, UW’s athletic director. She hired Lake without even doing a national search. So there’s that. But she also hired the head basketball coach, and Hopkins, though he had a good first few seasons, now has them cemented near last place in the conference. There’s nothing more important than the football program recognition and revenue wise, but the basketball program is still above all the other athletic programs.

        If the AD position is truly up in the air, then that has to be settled first. I have no idea how much pressure is on the AD now amongst the people who decide such things. But if it’s high now, then the sweep is even more profound, and gigantic question marks reside all over the place. All I know is that Husky nation, and that includes big time alumni and the donor class, is full of disquiet and concern, to say the least.

    • McZ

      Their former QB, who left when Lane came in, flourishes at Fresno state.
      The only thing you need to know.

  8. McZ

    Great write-up, as usual. Thanks, cha!

    Slight disagreement…

    With Cam Jordan in the Saints DL, Geno will not have ample time. When you watch the Saints games, QBs playing them were quick in getting the ball out. So, while numbers are important, they don’t tell the whole story.

    • cha

      Your point isn’t without merit. Cam Jordan is a good player and the Seahawks will have to keep an eye on him for sure.

      But Jordan is having a Dunlap-like year so far with very little effect. Personally I think it is due to the Saints’ DL depth taking a hit with Davenport and Onyemata not being available and Rankins being gone.

      However, watching the Giants game tape was troubling for me. Jordan recorded 2 pressures and one QB knock down, but he consistently seemed to be handled by RT Nate Solder, he of the 49 PFF grade so far this season.

      The Giants at times used Evan Engram to block him one and one, and Engram came off victorious more often than not.

      As the game progressed the Saints tried moving him to the other side against Andrew Thomas. Nothing.

      They tried stunting him. Nothing.

      Daniel Jones just kept burning the defense with deep passes.

      I’m not saying Jordan is washed, but he’s definitely not having the season we have come to expect from him so far this year.

  9. Mick

    Nicely done Cha. I don’t think I would have managed to write about the Seahawks in these bleak times.

    The equation of the game is so easy that even KNJ can figure it out: we place the best player in the nation against Alvin Kamara and we stop their entire O.

  10. cha

    The timeline of Russell Wilson’s impending return is becoming clearer as the Seahawks quarterback begins to heal.

    Wilson is having the pin removed from his middle finger within the next week and there’s a shot at an immediate return from injured reserve, NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo reported Saturday on Good Morning Football Weekend. Wilson is eligible for a return in Week 10.

  11. UkAlex6674

    Great write up as usual. This game is winnable.

  12. Paul Cook

    College football schedule this week not as strong or exciting as weeks in the past.

  13. DriveByPoster

    After the points-fests of the last couple of weeks, I am enjoying Illinois v Penn State. 10 – 10 in the fourth. Illinois seem to have a game plan. Out of 330 yards of Offence, 292 is rushing! 😀

  14. Paul Cook

    I’ve got to say it again this week. Caleb Williams is the best QB in the country right now as a true freshman. He would probably be the #1 pick in the draft (unless that team already had their QB) if the rules permitted it.

    That 4th quarter 4th down and 1 yard play where the RB was stopped and he ripped it out of his own RB’s arms, turned around, and ran for the 1st down showed astounding presence of mind. This guy has it all.

    • BobbyK

      If they deal Wilson, we may very well end up with the No. 1 overall pick in a few years.

      • Paul Cook

        I already think this guy would be the #1 pick next spring if he could be, excepting a team like Jacksonville that had their Trevor Lawrence and went for their Thibodeaux. If I had to bet, I think this guy is going to be in the Andre Luck category of QB’s coming out in the 2024 draft, that can’t miss QB.

        So yeah, if we trade RW, I’d probably go for a #1 pick in 2024 and buy a lottery ticket on this guy, or at least have a chance at the next wave of quality QB’s. It might not be till 2024 for all we know right now.

        This guy’s just got it all, arm talent, decision making, leadership, body measurables, and a huge “it factor”, much more so than even Trevor Lawrence, as utterly talented as he is.

  15. BoiseSeahawk

    Even without the 1st rounder, you still feel rich doing a mock draft compared to last year:

    44. Spencer Rattler, QB, Oklahoma
    76. Jermaine Johnson, EDGE/LB, FSU
    106. Bubba Bolden, S, Miami
    114. Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson, CB, TCU
    154. Abraham Lucas, OT, WSU
    191. Jake Ferguson, TE, UW
    226. Xavier Thomas, EDGE, Clemson

    Especially before players are accurately ranked.
    Let the obsessive compulsive mock drafting begin!

  16. Rob Staton

    I could’ve played QB for Ole Miss today.

    LSU’s defense playing like Seattle’s

  17. cha

    PC alludes to Collins playing Monday, Taylor very positive but won’t commit to him playing, Damien Lewis gametime decision.

    Nothing new on Eskridge or Carson yet.

    PC calls the report about RW’s pin removal a ‘good guess’ and does his ‘there’s a chance’ thing again.

    Jacob Eason not ready to play this week, and PC is cagey about whether Luton will get practice squad elevated. Not cute, Pete.

    • cha

      Taysom Hill ruled out for Monday with a concussion

    • Big Mike

      Gut feeling, nothing else says Collins misses Monday night.

  18. Paul Cook

    Clemson about to go to 4-3. Is this a temporary interregnum till they return to the uber elite? Or are they going to slip a bit from the Alabama/Ohio State exclusive club and become a more mortal program?

    There’s more parity in the 2nd tier of contenders this year.

  19. Rob Staton

    Well… this doesn’t sound good

    • Big Mike

      Let’s hope he has a continued impact next year as Taylor has this year because it’s looking more and more like a lost season for him similar to Taylor last season. It’s definitely early still but……….

    • bmseattle

      Really a shame.
      The play he was injured on didn’t look super bad, either.
      Obviously, you never can tell with head injuries, but it’s very concerning that he still hasn’t recovered after all this time.

  20. Palatypus

    Maryland today got an illegal procedure penalty for having two players on the field with #99. Which player is assessed with that penalty?

    • Big Mike

      Happened to Oregon State last night too. They had two number 8s. Cost them a (2nd) blocked punt and the ball at the Utah 10.

      • Big Mike

        And your question was funny 🙂

  21. Rob Staton

    A quick note to say I was — and still am — delighted the Niners took Trey Lance:

    • Matt

      Best thing Lance did to enhance his draft stock was to date Cowherds’ daughter. He would have been a worthy pick between 20-40…but trading multiple 1s to take him at #3…yikes.

    • bmseattle

      Nice to know that the 49ers may be more screwed by the Lance trade-up than we are with the Adams trade.

  22. KD

    Rob, how many legit 1st round graded players do you see so far? As of now, I see maybe 5. Not good

    • Rob Staton

      At the moment I’d say between 3-6

  23. Paul Cook

    On an off topic note, it’s great watching the Seattle Kraken’s inaugural game at the spanking new ans illustrious Climate Pledge Arena. Pretty cool.

    • Rob Staton

      I refuse to call it that

      I prefer ‘Amazon PR job arena’

      Or ‘Bezos Arena’

      Or ‘Ignore all the bad stuff we do as a major corporation because see… we care about the climate Arena’

      Go Canucks!

      • 206

        Better than a normal arena!

        • Rob Staton

          Looks pretty normal to me 😂

          With the biggest corporation in the world greenwashing at an elite level

          • 206

            Yeah, you right. I’ll take anything sustainable we can get though. And let’s be real, it’s the electric and fossil fuel companies where major progress needs to be made.

            • Rob Staton

              It’s places like China and India. But then good luck telling them they can’t have the kind of industrial progress we’ve enjoyed in the west and the prosperity that comes with it.

              And FWIW — I’m not some climate denier or anything. I just think big companies using causes like this to promote themselves are a bit rich.

          • STTBM

            Right on, Rob!

    • cha

      Very nice opening. Impressed with the Arena.

      The food kiosks were fantastic – your standard hot dog, burger and chicken strips (and beers) were in self-serve kiosks that make it super quick. No waiting 20 minutes to place your order and another 10 minutes to get your food like at CenturyLink.

      They had bars with a Kraken Rum/ginger beer drink right on tap and they didn’t disappoint.

      DK and Bobby were there. Russ and Ciara too.

      Comfortable seats with a great view – I don’t think there are many bad seats in the house.

      I don’t understand why they haven’t unveiled a mascot. Seems odd that a team has worked hard to roll out all the PR and fan experience stuff hasn’t gotten that done.

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