After watching the Seahawks-Cardinals game, I came away thoroughly impressed with the Seahawks’ defense. In my opinion, if you look at the 4 major units that will be on the field Sunday afternoon in Seattle, and we’re talking about the Cowboys offense, the Cowboys defense, the Seahawks offense and the Seahawks defense, the Seahawks defense is clearly the best unit. Unfortunately for the Hawks, their offense is also very clearly the worst unit.
• Let’s start with the defense. Their linebackers were excellent Week 1, particularly against the run. Swarming. Cardinals running backs ran the ball 17 times. They got 27 yards. But I thought the Hawks LBs were equally impressive in pass defense, especially near the goal line. There was one series where the Cardinals had 1st and G from the 2. On 1st down, they lost a yard running the ball. On both 2nd and 3rd and G from the 3, the Seahawks guessed pass and showed the same exact look on two consecutive plays.
Here was their pre-snap look on 2nd down. Note the linebackers and the corners. They are basically just playing a simple 5-across zone, guarding the goal line. Seattle has the perfect personnel to pull off this defense in tight. Their linebackers (KJ Wright, Bobby Wagner, and Leroy Hill), are all athletic, and good in pass coverage, so they can stay in the game in tight like this instead of giving up size by bring in a nickel CB. Meanwhile, on the outside, the Seahawks have 2 CBs with outstanding size in Richard Sherman (6’3) and Brandon Browner (also 6’3). Wanna run a fade? The Seahawks will gladly take their chance there, even against the Fade King, Larry Fitzgerald:
On the play, nothing is there, and Skelton tries to force the ball into Fitzgerald, who is surrounded by 3 defenders, and covered like a blanket by LB Leroy Hill. Frankly, I’m not sure what Skelton sees here. This should have been a throwaway:
On 3rd down, the Cardinals showed a 5 receiver look with an empty backfield. The Hawks didn’t change their look at all:
Skelton actually gets excellent protection on this play, as he waits 3.9 seconds before trying to get a improvisational shovel pass to his RB deep in the end zone (who was open), but the design of the play worked, as Skelton had nothing open for at least 3.5 seconds.
The Cowboys do an excellent job running the draw. Obviously, the Seahawks may gameplan differently in tight against the Cowboys than they did for the Cardinals, but draws can work against this defense. Don’t be surprised to see Garrett go to the draw if they get into a passing situation near the goal line.
• The Seahawks OL isn’t good to begin with, but it is also extremely disorganized. There were a number of assignment breakdowns against the Cardinals last week, and here are two glaring examples:
The first example is a play that I just can’t figure out. I’m not sure if it’s a complete breakdown in blocking assignments, or just a terrible play design. Either way, it’s ugly, and shows a very unpolished offense. The Seahawks run play action to the right, and Russell Wilson is looking to dump it to his tight end in the flat, also to the right, who is covered. He doesn’t get a chance to look anywhere else, because his entire OL blocks 3 Cardinals on the left side, leaving the blitzing LB with a free run at the QB. This just looks comical:
They sure did block the shit out of that 3-man front, but the LB cleans up on the easy sack:
Here’s another complete miscommunication and/or breakdown in blocking assignments. Circled is RG J.R. Sweezy. Lined up directly over him is Darnell Dockett. The Cardinals are in a 2 DL formation defensively, which confuses the Seahawks OL:
At the snap, Sweezy fires out to block LB O’Brien Schofield (#50). So does RT Brino Giocomini. Sweezy thought that C Max Unger had Dockett, and the RB would be responsible for LB Daryl Washington (#58). Nope. Unger is worried about LB Reggie Walker (#56) in the middle of the field, and Dockett gets a free run at Wilson:
Again, awful. Rob Ryan must be salivating watching this OL operate. I suspect it’ll be blitz city on Sunday, with the Cowboys’ front 7 padding the stats.
• The Seahawks’ WRs are not good. Sidney Rice made a nice leaping TD grab at the goal line on a poorly thrown ball by Wilson, and he has some skills, but to me he didn’t look like the guy that used to be able to stretch the field like he was in Minnesota. On the other side, I have no idea how Braylon Edwards is starting in the NFL. This team severely lacks speed on the outside. Should be an easy test for rookie Morris Claiborne.
• Leon Washington is great. He is exactly what you want in a kick returner. He just goes. No dancing, no picking at holes. He just explodes forward, and if there’s a hole he hits it. He had an 84 yard return against the Cards that would eventually result in a TD. Major weapon.
• As I mentioned above, I love this Seahawks defense. Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor may be the best starting safety combo in the NFL, and they have a pair of 6’3 CBs on the outside. The linebackers are fast and swarm to the ball, and the DL is deep with a rotation of Red Bryant, Alan Branch, Brandon Mebane, Chris Clemons, Jason Jones, and Bruce Irvin. That group is going to need to force mistakes to win.
Game prediction: This Seahawks OL is a disorganized mess. I can’t get past that. I think the Seahawk D will do a good job containing the Cowboy offense, but with a Seahawk OL playing this poorly in front of a rookie QB with no real threats in the passing game, I just don’t see how the Seahawks are going to move the ball. Marshawn Lynch will need to be in beast mode, or they have no chance. Good timing for the Cowboys getting this team before it gets its shit together offensively. Cowboys 16, Seahawks 13.