The 2011 regular season finale is upon us. Both the Seattle Seahawks and Arizona Cardinals can finish 8-8 with a victory on Sunday, which is amazing considering the 1-6 start the Cardinals had and the 2-6 start that Seattle had. As we like to do here with our opposing teams' blogs, Danny Kelly, lead guy over at Field Gulls, and I got some questions together to learn more about the other team.
When they have their post up, we'll get a link up so you can chime in as well. As for my questions and Danny's answers...read on after the jump.Marshawn Lynch has had a great year, we all know that. However, Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt said that Beanie Wells has had just as good a season and has missed time (either to talk up up Beanie or bring down Mr. Skittles). What would you say to that?
Well, I certainly don't blame Whisenhunt for talking up Beanie Wells, he's a very good running back and one that I believe is fairly underrated. He's had a very nice year and is definitely looking the part that got him drafted at the end of the first round in '09 now that he's been able to stay more healthy. From what I've watched, he's powerful, keeps his feet churning, and has that home run ability to hit third gear and run away from a defense. I actually think there are some similarities in Lynch and Wells' styles, and their numbers are actually pretty similar as well - Wells has 1,047 yards, 4.3 ypc and 10 TDs in 14 games and Lynch has 1,118 yards, 4.2 ypc, and 12 TDs in 14 games. Either way, not sure what the play was on the part of Whisenhunt, but I'd say both players are pretty damn talented.
Tell Cardinals fans about Lynch and Skittles.
If you're unfamiliar with the story, Marshawn Lynch used to get rewarded with Skittles from him mother when he scored a TD as a youngster, and that's a tradition that was revived this season on national TV. This led to a Marshawn Lynch Skittles sponsorship agreement and has now led to him being showered with the delectable candies every time he scores a touchdown at the CLink. Though it's doubtful Lynch is powered by these magical skittles, if pretty much fits his fun loving, never serious personality to a T and since it's gone viral, Lynch has been thriving. Over the last 8 or 9 weeks, Lynch has been one of, if not the leading rushers in the NFL, and in last week's loss to San Fran, he broke the Niners' 36-game streak of holding opposing backs under 100 yards and scored the first rushing touchdown on them all season. He'll look to keep that going against the Cardinals this weekend.
Both Arizona and Seattle have had remarkable turnarounds. What has been the key for the Seahawks?
Really, I think it comes down to playing experience with each other. The offensive line was awful to begin the season but have gradually gotten better as a unit as the year has gone on. This has led to a better offensive attack through a balanced rushing/passing game and better protection for Tarvaris Jackson. Despite losing three starters on the line, the Seahawks have maintained their effectiveness, more or less, as an offensive line unit.
On defense, it's pretty similar. Growth of a young unit has led to positive results. The Hawks have been able to stop the run moderately well this season and their defensive secondary of Brandon Browner, Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas has gradually improved as well as the year's gone on. Earl Thomas will be starting for the NFC in the Pro Bowl and Kam Chancellor and Brandon Browner are both first alternates to the team. Richard Sherman probably deserves to go to the game as well.
Where does the team stand with their quarterback situation as the season comes to a close?
Tarvaris Jackson looks to have secured his starting spot next year but by no means are the Seahawks satisfied with that situation. They'll likely look into drafting a QB or looking in free agency for someone to come in and challenge for his spot. TJack has performed probably as well as any of us could have hoped for, but isn't likely to improve a whole lot with more playing time. He's become the unquestioned leader of the offense though, and his toughness and resilience has endeared him to fans. That said, he still leaves something to be desired at the position and the quarterback question probably the number one discussed thing at Field Gulls or in Seahawks' fandom.
The last time the two teams met, the Cardinals defensive line had a huge game. How will the offense plan for Darnell Dockett and Calais Campbell?
Well, as I said, early in the season the Seahawks' offensive line struggled mightily, giving up tons of sacks and struggling to get the run game going. That's been a huge improvement since the time the two teams met, but now the Hawks are down to 2/5 of their starting unit. I think the Hawks will have more success protecting Jackson this game, but it's still going to be a very big challenge for 3 backups to perform against two excellent players in Darnell Dockett and Calais Campbell. It's going to be fun to watch - Dockett is a character and I could see both teams getting choppy with each other in what's looking to be a fun rivalry down the road. To answer your question though, the Seahawks have been using a lot of two tight end sets to counter other teams' pass rush, leaving one or both of those guys in to protect. They'll probably look to run some bootlegs and quick swing/screen passes to get the ball out of TJack's hands, and they'll look to counter with Marshawn Lynch early and often to keep Campbell and Dockett on their heels.