As Injuries Mount, Seahawks Still Poised For A Super Bowl Run

As Injuries Mount, Seahawks Still Poised For A Super Bowl Run

The Seahawks (4-2-1) lost to the Saints 20-25. The Rams (3-4) were on a bye. The Cardinals (3-4) lost to the Panthers.

This Running Game Needs A Pulse

1) Russell Wilson has a step again. Wilson’s three rushes for 11 yards may sound modest, but it represented a huge leap in productivity. (He had rushed for only 33 yards all season). On an early third down in the second half, the play called for Wilson to roll out to find a well-covered Prosise. Wilson turned upfield for the first down. His second rush picked up four yards on the edge, setting up a 3rd and 2. Both drives resulted in a field goal. His final rush kick-started a potential game-winning drive by getting the offense in a 2nd and reasonable situation. Free from his ankle tape, Wilson found a spring in his step. His healing knee did not seriously impede his north/south speed, but when forced to make a cut, he immediately slowed. So long as Wilson only runs north/south and then slides or dives, the offense should continue to open up.

Look at that first step… He’s almost back!

2) It will take more than Wilson. Fullback Will Tukuafu was brought back before week 8 and he did make a big block to get Christine Michael in the end zone, but like Michael, Tukuafu is not a long term solution. This system wants flexibility out of the backfield and neither can provide it.

The offense is first and goal from the five-yard line. Despite Jimmy Graham lining up as a blocker, the Saints have only four rushers at the line of scrimmage and none of their linebackers seem concerned. Why are the Saints not playing the run? Instead of Michael in the backfield, it’s Tukuafu, who is not a threat to run the ball. Why is Tukuafu in the backfield solo? Because Michael is terrible at pass protection. At the snap, the Saints only send four; meanwhile, the Seahawks have six players committed to protecting Wilson, leaving seven defenders to cover four receivers.

Penalties

This recent upsurge in penalties had been particularly damning. Against the Arizona Cardinals, the offense committed a penalty during seven drives and all seven drives ended during the series of downs where the infraction occured. In week eight, the offense generated penalties during five drives and all five drives ended during the series of downs where the infraction occurred. These twelve drives produced six points.

Against the Saints, the defense gave up thirteen points on drives where a penalty was called on third down.

The Defense Soldiers On

Despite completing 77% of his passes, Drew Brees’s 265 yards was his third lowest this season. His 35 pass attempts were the lowest total. His one touchdown pass ties his lowest total. Also, 25 points is the third fewest points the Saints have scored.

While great tackling led to a below-average performance for Brees, the defense gave up a hundred yard rusher for the second consecutive week. No doubt, mounting injuries are primarily to blame. Kam Chancellor’s strength and speed made him a torpedo to opposing running backs. Michael Bennett’s absence put pressure on an already thin defensive line. These losses are complicated by an ailing linebacking core. With Mike Morgan and Kevin Pierre-Louis out, defensive coordinator Kris Richard turned to rarely used linebacker Brock Coyle, who saw significant action in the second half when the Hawks’ nickel and dime packages were sacrificing too much on the ground.

If defenses give up rushing yards, creative plays open up against them.

Richard Sherman gets caught by the flea flicker.

The philosophy going into this season was that the offense would build a lead and the defense would use its bevy of defensive backs to shut down teams passing to catch up. In order for this defense to utilize these nickel and dime packages, and these new blitz looks, the offense needs to build a lead. Until such a time, this defense will continue to do more with less.

Good Work

Is Wilson to Richardson Finding A Groove?

Paul Richardson’s speed and cuts were used effectively for two catches this weekend, but Wilson’s read on those passes is far more exciting. Both plays were similar. During the first play, the offense is in a single back formation with only Richardson as a wide-out. The play is clearly a run, and the Saints are ready for it, with nine men in the box. Wilson takes a peek outside to Richardson and that look alone sends cornerback Ken Crawley–who has struggled this year–backpedaling. Richardson cuts inside, catches the pass, and puts a crossover on Crawley that leaves the rookie twirling like a spinning top.

On an afternoon where the offense was mostly out-of-sync, these two plays to Richardson were highlights.

Thanks for reading!

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In case you missed it…

Week 1, On One Leg | Week 2, The Spread Will Save the Seahawks, Exactly Like It Did Last Year | Week 3, Could Trevone Boykin Be The Future? With Doug Baldwin, He Might. | Week 4, Kam Chancellor’s Modified Role Improves Entire LoB, Takes Defense to New Level | Discombobulated But Still Dangerous, The Cardinals Lie Ahead – Seahawks Bye Week Special | Week 6, Seahawks Defense Comes Up Strong, Team Passes First Test | Week 7, Defense Wins Championships But This Vanilla Offense Needs An Attitude

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