The Arizona Cardinals take on the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday and we had to catch up with John Gilbert of Field Gulls once again in order to get his insight into the first place Seahawks.
Yup, even he can’t believe it.
1. Are you buying the Seahawks as the best team in the NFC West?
I’m certainly bought into the fact that they can compete in the NFC West, but I’m holding off calling them the best team in the division for the moment. Yes, they are in first place, but the 49ers absolutely stomped them in Week 2, so unless they open up a multiple game lead in the division between now and the Week 15 rematch against San Francisco, I’ll likely consider them as among the best teams in the division, but not necessarily the best.
2. The Cardinals seemed to be the catalyst to an impressive three game defensive run... Is this the new Seahawks defense or has it been a combination of improvement and poor offenses?
As tends to be the case, it’s likely a combination of multiple things that all seemed to come together at once in order to allow the group’s on field performance to thrive. One of the biggest differences has simply been the cornerbacks getting experience. Between the outside corners and the nickel spot, Tariq Woolen, Mike Jackson and Coby Bryant entered the season with a combined total of 29 snaps of NFL experience, and all three have been absolutely flying up the learning curve.
In addition, the game against the Cardinals signaled a bit of a shift defensively, as over the past three weeks they have used significantly more nickel and dime packages compared to earlier in the season. At the same time they have let their defensive linemen get loose, and that’s helped to apply pressure to opposing quarterbacks, while also not letting the front seven get pushed around nearly as much as it did through the first four weeks of the season.
3. Is Geno Smith’s protecting the football sustainable or is he getting away with mistakes?
Absolutely. He’s not making a ton of risky throws and getting away with them or sliding out of the pocket and narrowly avoiding fumbles or strip sacks. He’s playing very smart, fundamentally sound football and setting himself up for a potentially massive payday in the offseason.
Now, with that in mind, the challenge over the back half of the season will be to see how he is able to handle defenses working to exploit tendencies and weaknesses they are able to identify, but Smith’s performance in the first half has been the real deal.
4. The Arizona Cardinals come into this game as -2 point favorites according to Draftkings Sportsbook, are you surprised by this and are you taking the Seahawks and the points?
I’d love to see the Hawks head down to Arizona and absolutely crush the Cards, but the reality is that that stadium seems to bring up nothing but bad memories. Whether it’s the Thursday Night Football game that marked the end of the Seattle careers of both Kam Chancellor and Richard Sherman, the miscommunication between Shaun Alexander and Matt Hasselbeck in Week 2 of 2007 that likely cost the Hawks the game, Super Bowl XLIX or the 6-6 tie, I just hate games played in that stadium.
And, the Seahawks have been winning every week while I bet against them, so I’m going to continue to bet against them so they can continue to prove me wrong by continuing to win.
5. Have your expectations for the season changed and what are they now?
My expectations have absolutely changed given the level of quarterback play we have seen from Smith. Now, the back half of the schedule is set up to be the more difficult portion, but between the way the NFC is shaping up and how easy it might be to make the playoffs this season, I’m certainly far more optimistic that they can sneak into the postseason at this point than I was even just three weeks ago.