Strategy And Personnel

The Sports Xchange

November 15, 2018 at 12:24 am.


–WR Doug Baldwin: Dealing with multiple knee injuries, Baldwin has slogged through his worst statistical season since 2012, but head coach Pete Carroll believes he’s on “the verge of busting out.” Becoming healthier each week, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him finally produce a 100-yard game in the near future.

–RG D.J. Fluker: Unable to play on Sunday due to a calf injury, the Seahawks expect the 355-pound mauler to be back in the starting lineup against the Packers. Seattle has averaged over 150 rushing yards per game in the six games he has started at right guard this season.

–DE Dion Jordan: After struggling to produce during the first half of the year, Jordan enjoyed his finest performance of the season against the Rams, registering five tackles and half a sack. Head coach Pete Carroll said he was “flying across the field” in pursuit and his freakish athleticism for a 285-pound defensive end was on display all afternoon.

–LB K.J. Wright: When fully healthy, Wright remains one of the best linebackers in football, but he couldn’t finish Sunday’s game due to issues with his surgically-repaired knee. The Seahawks may need to consider sitting him for a week or two in favor of Barkevious Mingo to see if his troublesome knee improves heading into the final month of the season.

–P Michael Dickson: As one of the most consistent performers on the team, head coach Carroll said Dickson had another “great game” punting the football in Los Angeles. The rookie out of Texas averaged 55 yards per attempt and also booted a 68-yard punt at the Coliseum to help pin the Rams deep in their own territory.

PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: G Jordan Simmons. After playing only a handful of games at USC due to injury issues, Simmons entered the league as an undrafted free agent with the Raiders prior to the 2017 season. The Seahawks liked what they saw with minimum game tape and claimed him off waivers in early September, but the team surprised many by opting to start him for an injured D.J. Fluker rather than former second-round pick Ethan Pocic. Head coach Pete Carroll indicated Seattle wanted another big body to fill the void against the Rams’ dominant defensive front and Simmons exceeded all expectations in his first NFL start, helping the Seahawks rush for 273 yards and holding up fairly well in pass protection. If somehow Fluker can’t return on Thursday, Simmons will have another chance to impress against the Packers.

GAME PLAN: Coming off a 273-yard rushing performance against the Rams, the Seahawks should feel confident they can continue to impose their will on the ground against the Packers. Despite possessing a solid front line featuring defensive end Mike Daniels and defensive tackle Kenny Clark as well as a reliable linebacking corps headlined by leading tackler Blake Martinez, Green Bay has given up over 100 yards rushing in six of their nine games this season. If Seattle can keep the rushing attack rolling, Wilson should be under less duress than in recent games against Green Bay, as he’s been sacked six times and consistently harassed in the pocket the past three meetings between the two teams. Ball security will also be crucial, as Wilson has uncharacteristically thrown 12 interceptions in six career games against the Packers.

While running the football will stay a focal point of Seattle’s offense, the Seahawks must shore up their run defense and force the Packers to become one-dimensional. Over the past two weeks, head coach Pete Carroll’s defense has given up 309 yards rushing on only 45 carries, surrendering nearly seven yards per carry to Melvin Gordon and Todd Gurley II in back-to-back losses. As pointed out by Carroll on Monday, inconsistent play at the line of scrimmage up front and poor execution of run fits have hurt the Seahawks, opening up big-play opportunities for opponents in the play-action passing game. Slowing down Aaron Rodgers will be Seattle’s top priority, but holding Aaron Jones at bay will be vital to the team’s chances at snapping a two-game losing streak.

–Seahawks C Justin Britt vs. Packers DT Kenny Clark. Though defensive coordinator Mike Pettine has changed some things compared to his predecessor Dom Capers, the Packers still run a 3-4 defensive scheme with Clark anchoring the defensive line as a nose tackle. The 23-year-old has been a force in the interior for Green Bay, registering 40 combined tackles, a career-best 5.0 sacks, and eight quarterback hits. When he hasn’t been collapsing the pocket and stuffing the run, he’s also been active getting his hands up and swatting away passes, as he’s recorded two passes defensed in the trenches. Less than a week after battling with the likes of Aaron Donald and Ndamukong Suh, Britt’s ability to neutralize Clark will be vital to Seattle’s offensive success on Thursday night.

–Seahawks S Tedric Thompson vs. Packers QB Aaron Rodgers. With 17 touchdowns and only one interception this season, Rodgers remains one of the NFL’s best quarterbacks and the past suggests he’ll test Thompson right out of the gate. Only a few years ago, the Seahawks traveled to Green Bay without Earl Thomas, who fractured his leg against the Panthers and landed on injured reserve. With special teams ace Steven Terrell taking his place at free safety, Rodgers immediately took advantage, hitting receiver Davante Adams down the left sideline for a 66-yard touchdown less than two minutes after the opening kickoff. The Packers wound up routing the Seahawks 38-10, as Rodgers completed 18 of 23 passes for 246 yards and three touchdowns while averaging more than 10 yards per attempt.