Strategy And Personnel

The Sports Xchange

December 27, 2018 at 1:43 am.


–RB Rashaad Penny, who sat out two games with a sore knee, was a full participant in Wednesday’s practice and the Seahawks expect him to be ready to suit up on Sunday as long as he makes it through the week without any hitches.

–LG J.R. Sweezy left Sunday’s game with a foot injury. Head coach Pete Carroll simply called him “sore” and didn’t have a timeline for his anticipated return, though if he’s banged up, Seattle may choose to start Ethan Pocic in his place against Arizona.

–RT Germain Ifedi tweaked his groin late last week, but he returned to the practice field on Wednesday and head coach Pete Carroll thinks he should be able to return for the season finale.

–LB K.J. Wright returned from a four-game absence due to a knee injury and played well in his first game back in action, finishing with two tackles and a pass defensed against the Chiefs. The Seahawks will still monitor him day-to-day, but he’s expected to see plenty of snaps against the Cardinals on Sunday.

–CB Akeem King, who was seldom-used early in the season, played 13 snaps as an additional defensive back for Seattle last weekend, performing well in coverage against Chiefs TE Travis Kelce. Head coach Pete Carroll called him a “bright spot,” indicating he’s handled everything the Seahawks have thrown at him this year.

PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: DE Dion Jordan. Seattle re-signed Jordan as a restricted free agent with an original round tender, paying him close to $2 million dollars for the 2018 season. Knee issues have prevented the ex-Oregon star to produce much for the Seahawks this season, but he’s played much better of late, including posting his best performance of the year against the Chiefs last Sunday. Along with recording his first sack of the season, Jordan also forced a fumble against running back Damien Williams, allowing teammate Jarran Reed to recover it and setting the Seahawks up with great field position. Finishing with a season-high five tackles, two quarterback hits, and a sack, Jordan may be hitting his stride just in time for the playoffs.

GAME PLAN: Facing off against a Cardinals defense that ranks dead last in the NFL by surrendering over 150 rushing yards per game, Seattle won’t divert from what has worked all season. Offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer will dial up run plays for Chris Carson, Mike Davis, and Rashaad Penny early and often, keeping Arizona’s talented pass rushers at bay and creating opportunities for Russell Wilson in the play-action passing game. Unlike their previous matchup in Week 4, the Cardinals may also have to deal with a healthy Wilson as a runner, as he was battling through a hamstring injury earlier in the season. With the playoffs rapidly approaching, however, Wilson may be a bit more cautious with how much he tucks and runs in this game.

It remains to be seen who will be under center for the Cardinals, but will it really matter if it’s Josh Rosen or Mike Glennon? Either quarterback will be forced to try to operate behind one of the league’s worst offensive lines in a hostile environment against an improving Seahawks pass rush. Rosen has been a tackling dummy for much of the season, exiting last week’s loss to the Rams after being sacked four more times. Seattle should be able to generate plenty of pressure on whoever plays quarterback for the Cardinals on Sunday, leaving running back David Johnson as the most pressing concern against a run defense that has been suspect at times for the Seahawks. It’s been a challenging season for the former All-Pro runner, but he’s still a capable weapon rushing between the tackles as well as catching the ball out of the backfield.

–Seahawks LB Bobby Wagner vs. Cardinals RB David Johnson. Averaging only 3.6 yards per carry in Arizona’s anemic offense, Johnson hasn’t been able to replicate his phenomenal production from two years ago. But on a team dearth of play-makers, offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich will continue to seek ways to get the football into his hands as a runner and receiver. Wagner hasn’t been shy expressing his respect for Johnson in the past, as the versatile back has given the Seahawks fits in prior seasons. Wagner will once again be tasked with corralling him in the run game while also potentially drawing some assignments against him in coverage.

–Seahawks WR Tyler Lockett vs. Cardinals CB Patrick Peterson. Lockett continued his sensational breakout season by catching four passes for 99 yards in a win over the Chiefs, but he was relatively quiet the first time Seattle played Arizona. Held to 53 yards on five catches and failing to find the end zone, Peterson was matched up against him a fair amount on the outside. Despite Arizona’s dreadful season, the three-time first-team All-Pro selection remains one of the few bright spots on a team full of holes on both sides of the football. Though his overall production pales in comparison to previous years, he’s still a very good cornerback and it’ll be a fun chess match to watch the technician square off against the speedy Lockett.