Happy Saturday morning one and all.
We chatted with John Gilbert of Field Gulls to discuss all things Seahawks to help us get ready.
1. Geno Smith has been getting yardage still, isn’t making a ton of mistakes, but there seems to be a segment not happy with his play. Is that simply because the lack of scoring production from the passing game, or has he been that erratic?
Smith hasn’t performed at the level that he did in 2022 in terms of producing points, but that’s in large part because he’s being pressured at a far higher rate than he was last season. The Seattle offense has moved the ball between the twenties without much trouble, but once they make it into the red zone the injuries along the offensive line have really limited the ability of the team to put the ball in the end zone both through the air and on the ground.
Both starting tackles (Charles Cross and Abe Lucas) went down during Week 1, and since then the Seahawks have seen both starting guards miss time as well. That has led to a lot of playing time for a lot of very inexperienced offensive linemen, and inexperienced offensive linemen tend to struggle. In particular, those struggles have allowed opponents to pressure Smith on 40.7% of his dropbacks, which is the fifth highest rate in the entire NFL. When he’s been afforded protection, he’s performed very well, but teams have looked to put the Seahawks into passing situations, and then unleashed stunts and blitzes on an offensive line that simply lacks the experience to properly handle them. Add on to that the fact that quarterback is a position that is learned through experience, and Geno is a relatively inexperienced quarterback in terms of actual on-field playing time. Just for comparison, Kyler Murray has played 3,770 regular season snaps, while Geno enters Week 7 having played 3,621 regular season snaps in his career.
2. Speaking of production, the Seahawks are getting most of their scoring running the ball, but their rushing yardage hasn’t been what was expected. Has that just been a byproduct of how the games are going?
The offensive line issues noted in my answer to the first question have also had a significant impact on the ability of the team to move the ball on the ground. Ken Walker obviously ran for more than a thousand yards as a rookie, but with defenses able to pressure Geno Smith in the passing game, the Hawks haven’t been throwing deep nearly as often. That has led to defenses not respecting the deep ball, and keeping more defenders near the line of scrimmage relative to last season. Add in Walker’s propensity to try and bounce plays to the outside for the big game, and the yardage has come in chunks when he has been able to make the corner. However, teams now have more than a season of tape of Walker trying to bounce plays rather than following the blocking of the play design, and defenses seem better prepared for it.
Putting everything together, it has really simply felt like once the Seahawks get the ball inside the five yard line, they seem to prefer to just give it to Walker and see if he can punch it in for the score. Sometimes it has worked and sometimes it has not, but the Hawks could have four of the five regular starters on the offensive line healthy against the Cardinals, which could give them a chance to move the ball on the ground much better than they have in recent weeks.
3. Speaking of running games, the Seahawks boast the top rushing defense in the NFL in yards per carry and are fifth in yards allowed. What do you attribute that to after being one of the worst run defenses in the NFL last year?
There were basically two changes made during the offseason that has allowed the run defense to flourish. The first of those was tweaking the scheme to match up better against the blocking schemes that were routinely gashing the Seattle run defense. However, on top of the scheme changes, much of the personnel in the defensive front was completely overhauled. The top five defensive linemen in terms of snaps played for the Seahawks in 2022 were Poona Ford (642), Quinton Jefferson (565), Shelby Harris (562), Al Woods (375) and Bryan Mone (270). Those five have combined to play zero snaps for the Hawks this season, because the first four are no longer on the roster and Mone is on the PUP list. Add in replacing Cody Barton with Bobby Wagner, and the difference in stopping the run has been night and day from last year to this season.
4. Give me a name to know on offense or defense that Arizona Cardinals fans may not know?
On the defensive side of the ball, the secondary is full of big names that have garnered all kinds of attention, including Jamal Adams, Quandre Diggs, Devon Witherspoon, Riq Woolen and Julian Love, and yet multiple times this season cornerback Tre Brown has come up with big plays to turn the tide of a game. That includes a sack and a pick six against the Lions, and he had an interception of Joe Burrow that kept the Seahawks in the game against the Bengals, even if they wound up on the losing end of things.
On offensive side of the ball Jake Bobo is the name to know. He hasn’t been overly productive as a receiver during the season, but when he’s been targeted, it’s been in key moments and he’s delivered. A 25 year old undrafted free agent rookie, and there’s a huge contingent of the fanbase that is ready to induct him and his 51 career receiving yards into the Hall of Fame. Certainly needs to work on the resume a little before that becomes reality, but it won’t be a surprise at all if he comes up with a key third down catch or makes a key block to spring a run play for big yards.
5. DraftKings Sportsbook has a weekly special of Metcalf and Lockett combining for over 160 receiving yards at +175. Seems like the way the Cardinals have defended the last several weeks this is easy money, but I thought the same last week and the Rams came up 11 yards short. The Seahawks are getting this... right?
They should, at least as long as Metcalf plays. He got walloped against the Detroit Lions in Week 2 and is still nursing a rib injury suffered that is still on the injury report, and then hurt his hip in Week 6 against the Cincinnati Bengals. He’s a gamer, so he’s been playing through the rib injury, but both could combine to potentially be enough that he might sit, or at least play a more limited role, against Arizona. He’s listed as questionable on the final injury report, but I expect he’ll do everything he can to convince the coaching staff to let him play.
Of course, in Week 7 of the 2020 season Lockett went for 200 yards himself against the Cardinals, meaning that even if Metcalf doesn’t play, it’s not entirely out of the question.