We did a podcast together, but Danny Kelly from Field Gulls was willing to participate ion our SB Nation tradition -- five good questions. Here are my questions and his answers. You can find my answers to his questions here.
Danny: Well, the Seahawks have twelve players on their injured reserve - most notably NT Brandon Mebane, TE Zach Miller, FB Derrick Coleman, DT Greg Scruggs, TE Anthony McCoy, C Stephen Schilling, DE Cassius Marsh, DT Jesse Williams, and LB Heath Farwell. That hurts their depth as it is, but this week the Hawks will also be without starting center Max Unger, meaning they'll lean on 3rd stringer Patrick Lewis to start there, or perhaps give some snaps to Lemuel Jeanpierre, who was just signed this week.
Additionally, nickelback Marcus Burley hasn't practiced this week with a hamstring injury so it's doubtful that he'll play, and OLB Kevin Pierre-Louis is new to the injury report this week and didn't practice Wednesday or Thursday.
The good news is that MLB Bobby Wagner has a chance to play for the first time in a few months, and LG James Carpenter looks like he could play as well after missing the last two weeks.
Marshawn Lynch will be on the injured list all week, as he usually is with a back issue, but I'm guessing he'll be good to go on Sunday.
Me. If you are the Cardinals, how would you go about attacking the Seattle defense?
Danny: The Seahawks have been burned this season on designed dumpoffs and check-downs to running backs. Seattle likes to protect deep so that often means there's some space underneath to operate. I'd use Ellington in that way to try and gouge the Seahawks in the screen game - Jamaal Charles did it last week. Additionally, Seattle is susceptible to quick slants and have not been good against opposing tight ends this season in the passing game.
Otherwise, I'd run the football. Seattle is reeling a bit after giving up 190 on the ground to KC last week, so if I'm the Cardinals, I'd see how I do on the ground. I know the Cards ran the ball 40+ times last year when they won at the Clink.
Me: We talked about Wilson's running this year. How much work does he still need as a pocket passer?
Danny: He's definitely still developing. He's not the strongest pocket passer in the world and while he does have the capability and willingness to stand in the pocket and throw, it's my opinion that he doesn't do it enough. He's an amazing scrambler and that's one of his biggest strengths, but he definitely leans on that. Once he breaks the pocket and looks to move around, though, the play that they called is dead and it turns into improvisation mode.
That said, the Seahawks have embraced his style of quarterbacking and designed "scramble rules" for their receivers. So, if Wilson breaks the pocket, depending on the side he runs to, each receiver will have a fall back set of rules to follow that helps Wilson find an open man. It's a part of the reason the Seahawks do so well when Wilson is moving around.
Additionally, the Seahawks offense just doesn't ask him to be a pocket passer as much as your average team. Seattle's run game works in concert with bootlegs and play action passes, so in that sense, Wilson is a fantastic fit. In laymen's terms, the Seahawks like to, say, fake a run to the left side of the field, then bootleg Wilson out to the right after they've hopefully gotten the defense to bite in the direction of the fake. That's simplified, but these concepts -- fitting the run game together with the passing game -- are huge to Seattle's offense.
Me: What are Seattle's "keys to victory" this weekend?
Danny: I think that Wilson needs to hit on a few explosive pass plays. The Seahawks' YPA is down this year and teams are doing a better job of defending the deep passing game that was a huge part of Seatte's offense last year. I think the Seahawks need to try to re-capture that, even if it means taking a few chances down the field.
Otherwise, Seattle would be in good shape if they can run the football. There's no one harder to run the football on than the Cardinals, but right now, there's no better running team than the Seahawks. Something has to give.
Finally, to be frank, Seattle's special teams have been awful over the last month or two - giving up big returns, not getting much in the return game, and being susceptible to fakes and trick plays. If Seattle gives up big plays in special teams, it could be a huge boost for Arizona. The Seahawks need to clean up that part of their game.
Me: How much would you try to run the ball against Arizona if you were Darrell Bevell, knowing how good Arizona is against it?
Danny: Well, like I said, I think I'd try to stubbornly stick with it even if it's not working early on. Seattle's the type of run team that will run for 1, 2, 1, 2, 0, then break out a 15 or 20 yarder. Marshawn Lynch is one of the more explosive running backs in the league, so I'd keep feeding the beast even if the early returns are poor.
Prediction: Seahawks 20, Cardinals 17
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