Strategy And Personnel

The Sports Xchange

November 08, 2018 at 1:32 am.


–RB Rashaad Penny: The first-round pick continues to be frustrated by his lack of usage, but with Chris Carson potentially out for Sunday’s game, the rookie may finally get an extended opportunity to play. Head coach Pete Carroll believes he’s on the “verge of exploding” and the team has seen enough from him at practice to believe it’s only a matter of time.

–DE Dion Jordan: Seattle has been waiting all season for Jordan to play to his potential as he did late last year, and after a bye in Week 7, he’s been far more disruptive from his defensive end spot. Head coach Pete Carroll thinks he’s got a much higher ceiling than he’s shown through eight games and the Seahawks are counting on a huge second half from him off the edge.

–LB Barkevious Mingo: The return of K.J. Wright has cut into Mingo’s snaps on defense, but he continues to be the “lead dog” for Seattle on special teams. According to Head coach Pete Carroll, the versatile linebacker leads the Seahawks in special teams tackles and has been an outstanding free-agent pickup for the team.

–CB Akeem King: With Neiko Thorpe still on the shelf due to a groin injury, King has been a factor on multiple special teams units for Seattle over the past few games. He recorded three tackles against the Lions in Week 8 and played 16 snaps on special teams against the Chargers last week.

–SS Bradley McDougald: Arguably Seattle’s most valuable player on defense this season, the veteran safety has been hampered by a knee injury and his status for Sunday remains up in the air. Head coach Pete Carroll indicated he would be “held out for a little bit” and there’s a strong possibility he will be a game-time decision.

PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: SS Delano Hill. With Bradley McDougald sidelined most of the second half of Sunday’s loss to the Chargers, Hill earned his first extended action on defense in a regular-season game. The former third-round pick out of Michigan didn’t disappoint, finishing with three tackles and stuffing running back Melvin Gordon behind the line for his first tackle for loss. Seattle doesn’t know if McDougald, who has been dealing with a patellar tendon injury, will be able to suit up against the Rams and the young safety could have another chance to impress in a high-stakes divisional road game as his replacement in the starting lineup.

GAME PLAN: Racking up 190 yards on the ground during their Week 5 matchup with the Rams, the Seahawks will likely try to achieve similar success running the football in the rematch. But it won’t be easy, especially if Chris Carson and/or D.J. Fluker cannot play due to injury. Both players have proven to be irreplaceable for Seattle offensively and their style of play fits the team’s rediscovered identity to perfection. Without them in the fold, it’ll be extremely difficult to control the line of scrimmage against the likes of Aaron Donald and Ndamukong Suh. If the run game can’t find traction early and injuries loom as major factors, Russell Wilson will have to shoulder more of the load, putting the onus on the offensive line to protect him against a front four that became even scarier with the trade for pass rushing end Dante Fowler Jr. The explosive pass plays will be there, but the million-dollar question is – will Wilson have time to throw them?

Well aware of the Rams’ quick-strike passing game, the Seahawks tried to eliminate downfield options for Jared Goff, but he did whatever he wanted in the short-to-intermediate passing game and had all day to throw when he dropped back to pass. Excluding a strip-sack by Frank Clark that wound up not counting because Goff picked it up and threw it away as an incomplete pass, Seattle only hit the third-year quarterback twice and he completed 72 percent of his passes for 321 yards and a touchdown. It seems like a broken record at this stage, but Seattle has no chance to win this football game with a similar performance rushing the passer. If they can’t hit Goff more often, a young Seattle secondary won’t be able to cover Brandin Cooks, Cooper Kupp, and Robert Woods very long before one of them comes open due to the offensive mind of head coach Sean McVay and the group will be exposed once again.

–Seahawks RG D.J. Fluker vs. Rams DT Ndamukong Suh. While Jared Goff and Russell Wilson dueled under center, the marquee bout in the first game between these NFC rivals took place up front between Fluker and Suh. The 355-pound Fluker engaged in trench warfare with the athletic Suh throughout the game, finishing off a few plays by pancaking the perennial All-Pro defender to the delight of the home crowd and helping pave the way for Seattle to rush for 190 yards. On the other hand, Suh dominated in his own right, sacking Wilson once while recording six total tackles and drawing a huge holding penalty against Fluker on Seattle’s final offensive drive of the game that ultimately prevented a chance at a winning field goal by Sebastian Janikowski. It was a see-saw battle that should remain a critical matchup to watch in Sunday’s rematch at the Coliseum.

–Seahawks LB Bobby Wagner vs. Rams RB Todd Gurley II. Though Gurley scored three touchdowns on the ground in the first matchup between these two teams, Wagner and the Seahawks actually did a decent job containing the MVP candidate. After torching Seattle for 157 rushing yards in a 42-7 rout at CenturyLink Field last December, the former Georgia star was held to 77 rushing yards and averaged only 3.5 yards per carry in the Rams’ narrow victory last month. Wagner finished the game with eight tackles and now he’s got his trusted sidekick K.J. Wright back in action to help shore up the middle of Seattle’s defense. Both players will have to do a better job executing run fits than they did last week against the Chargers and it will be imperative for them to keep their eyes on Gurley out of the backfield at all times, as the versatile back has 362 receiving yards and has scored four additional touchdowns as a receiver.