Hi, My name is Andy! hope you enjoy this work, and feel free to contact me if you have any thoughts, questions or comments. Introduction Sports fans everywhere know of the San Antonio Legend Tim Duncan. A name so synonymous with the getting the basics right that when you look up ‘big fundamental’ you see the one they sometimes call Groundhog Day. While unlike Duncan, Olsen is almost universally loved, for his philanthropic work, genuine nature and rapping ability. [Citation NOT needed] however his on-field style and execution, with such consistency and fundamental excellence, garners the same sort of respect as Duncan. At least it damn well should. I watched every target, touch, and turnover that involved Greg Olsen in 2019 and I want to talk about what I saw: FAQ So the first thing I want to clear is some things that have been said about Olsen and say to what degree they are true or false. Age. This one is certainly a Concern. Greg Olsen will be 35 in less than a month, but with a one-year contract without much likelihood of an extension, there is not much to worry about with this in itself but instead, its byproducts. Speed. Some people have been lamenting the 21st Century NFL, saying it’s a speed-based game. In the film I watched, he could be chased down, but nobody was running circles around him, and his great awareness and sublime body control block the speed demons from jumping every route. Fragility. This is the largest deal-breaker for many people. Olsen Played 14 games in 2019, registering at least 2 catches in 13 of those. In his only catch-less performance, he was on the field for 98% of snaps and was very active in the run game. Even missing 2 entire games, he played 71% of all offensive snaps, which was only accomplished by 12 Seahawks on the team (offense or defense) this season. Pass Protection. People tout his pass protection as being a major appeal as a free agent, and I would say that’s mostly correct! Certainly, he is not the best pass protection guy out there, but I would say he is very difficult to beat as a Jack of all trades. Run Blocking. His run blocking is very good. He does the essentials first, then looks to see what he can improve upon. I would say he is the best Run-blocking Tight End Seattle now has available. Catching Ability. Some people say it’s unbelievable, some people say it could be better. My verdict is that he will not make a terrible pass great, not a great pass terrible, but rather if a ball is put fairly within his range, there is a strong chance of a catch. Ball Security Issues. Putting this in for completeness after seeing a comment about it. My film suggests he is incredibly strong at protecting the ball, both at the point of catch and also after as a runner. Any concern of a fumbling issue I would say is, in 2019, totally unfounded. Analysis Now, I think it’s important to talk about why I only did 2019. While the obvious reason of “it’s much easier than doing his whole career” was branded in my mind through the early hours of this morning as I watched film, I deliberately avoided using any highlights of any older footage in order to evaluate as best I could the type of player the Seahawks are actually getting. And this is where I came upon the realization that perhaps Olsen is one of the NFL’s Premier (football) Fundamentalists. His stats are in a much sorrier state than they should be due to some very unfortunate quarterbacking misfortunes that have plagued the Carolina Panthers all year. See my other post about his interceptions for more on that. His usage within the system changed dramatically often. His first three touches were a TE screen, an RPO and a throw very close to the flats. His first-week production was decent, with 3 catches for 30+ yards. It would be one of 2 weeks with Cam at the helm, with inaccurate and underthrown balls smattered throughout the film. The other, Olsen’s usage was radically changed, with a 33 and 41-yard completions, notably with Olsen sinking downfield in his routes to try to maximize yardage. While this and the previous week had mixings of each style, the change between the weeks was very noticeable. For example, take a look at this play. While looking very ordinary it leaped out on film for me when I went back to it. Notice how towards the end of the route, he is still drifting downfield to try to maximize the catch yardage. This opens up an underneath area, allowing the defender to undercut the route and break up the play. This is very typical of a speed receiver attempting to turn one loose, but for Greg Olsen, this was an anomaly. With Kyle Allen, and as the season got on, Greg Olsen slowly became settled into the big fundamental role. That is to say, the top priority was the catch. He became so useful I charted that he completed at least one catch for each of these routes. He was successful across the entire route tree. Here is a look at a drag in the mid/late section of the year: Despite a perfect YAC opportunity, and many speedy WRs (like Deebo Samuel (SF), or Tyreek Hill (KC)) often scan the field during the catching process to maximize the YAC opportunities. However, in this and all situations, the catching and possession was the primary focus of Olsen. This possession style lent itself to the shorter game, especially favoring a few short field combos, such as Tare or Curl-Flats. The idea that Olsen started to be more conservative with the catch did not mean that he was limited within his routes, he just ran each of those routes with his own style. Here is a deep speed out, sometimes called a Banana, where Olsen prioritizes the catch over YAC within a big play. Instead of reaching out with 1 hand to attempt to stay up, Olsen smartly dives to ensure a good catch. This GIF may make you think ‘so what? That was simple’ and this is why he is such a good Fundamental player. He makes it a simple operation by looking back early instead of pushing for additional room. He manages his body well in case anybody is blazing down on him from a deep position, it’s a perfect shield over the ball. It looks incredibly routine but routine yardage gaining is a godsend in today’s NFL. Now what separates Olsen from serviceable is that once he has completed the fundamentals, he isn’t done. Take a look at this great effort for first down After a solid 5 yard hitch, he covers up and works hard to get the first down, while constantly securing the ball well and having great awareness about where the first down is. a really nice athletic play and after being spun around initially it would’ve been easy to give himself up on the 2nd hit, as some last year veterans tend to. In terms of his other skills, more specifically blocking, here what I saw. This was an example of a good play by Olsen, and demonstrates his fundamental first, flashy next style. The assignment here is to seal off the edge, with Thomas outside to set that edge. It creates a D-Gap run. Olsen does this well, but having created the seal he then deftly moves to the other side and widens the hole further to block the linebacker who has flowed to the ball. This concept is designed to create a 1v1 in the hole, but after Greg completes his assignment, he moves over to eliminate this and have the first contact as the ball is breaking the plane of the goal-line. A great heads up play by Greg. In this play, Olsen is assigned to LB Kamalei Correa. Olsen is very effective at setting the edge, opening his inside shoulder to set a trap as Allen rolls out. After the block has been completed, Olsen makes sure not to over commit and commit a foul, instead leaking out and becoming a target. He helps create time and then options for Allen. This one was pulled back because of a penalty by a different player but it demonstrates a great versatility, especially within the mobility to get in and out of blocks well. The work after the catch is pretty good, and I fell he maximized the yards he could get while not compromising security. In this instance it’s a DE, but Olsen acquits himself nicely, with a nice wide base and good flexibility so he doesn’t get pushed over by the bull rush, once again showing his inside shoulder and making sure to neither give up outside leverage, nor tip off a rollout with an aggressive move outside. In addition to running every route under the sun and creating catching opportunities with all of them, Olsen was very capable in different positions too. He was used a lot in the Y position, at the end of the line, typically where you would find a TE But he was also very proficient in the Y-Flex, where he is in a 2 point stance, and a few yards away from the end of the line. I also saw some appearances as the top member of a stack combo throughout the year, as well as a full on wide out for a couple of red zone plays. Here is the spreadsheet of every attempt by Olsen, and my thoughts on all of them And here is an imgur Album with all the gifs in this Article, along with my other one. What does this mean for Seattle? For 7 Million a year, Seattle has managed to get an amazing locker room presence, and a fundamentally great Tight End. Some may believe he has Health issues but in 2019 it didn’t seem to affect him too much, converting 34 of his 52 touches for first downs. Now I would say there are multiple players on the Seahawks that are big play masters, like Tyler Lockett. Greg Olsen is not that player, and you might not see his influence on highlights or box scores all that much but for getting the ball to favorable situations, like 2nd & 5 / 3rd & 1 / 2nd & 3, Greg Olsen will be invaluable. He will add value in the running game, by creating lanes effectively. He will add value in the pass protection using heavy chips, or protecting rollouts He will add value in the short passing game as a good reliable pair of hands to pick up yardage to create favourable situations He will add value in the long passing game as a player that can run any route effectively. He will add value as a valued locker room member and veteran leader of a young TE and receiver corps I would say Olsen will be used effectively in much the same way as Luke Willson or Jacob Hollister, with nitty gritty pass protection mixed with short routes to keep ahead of the chains, with the occasional utilization in the deeper game. Seahawks fans should be very happy about this signing.
Seahawks at Eagles: A Wildcard Recap, Short Preview for Packers Happy Winning Week, 12s! Everyone should be elated that the Seahawks were able to continue their road warrior hot streak, extending their season for another playoff game in Green Bay. Before we touch on that, we will take a look at the good and the bad of this last game against Philadelphia. The Good. Defense. I tweeted this out from the @CascadiaSN account but I’ll say it again: Say what you want about the defense, but they showed up and did their job. They were able to tally seven sacks—Carson Wentz was taken down for a sack while Josh McCown was taken down the additional six times. The 40-year old McCown replaced Wentz in the first quarter when Wentz took a controversial helmet to the head by Jadeveon Clowney. The Seahawks defense also limited Eagles to nine points while keeping them out of the end zone. The Seahawks stymied the Eagles on third down, only allowing them to convert 3 for 11 (27%). The Eagles were also stopped on fourth down twice, turning the ball back over to Seattle. Passing. Offensively, Russell Wilson threw for over 300 yards (325) for the fourth time this season. He was the rushing leader putting up 45 yards with his legs. Russ was able to complete 18 of 35 passing attempts, targeting D.K. Metcalf nine times and Tyler Lockett eight times. Metcalf racked up 160 yards and a touchdown while Lockett had 62 yards. Marshawn Lynch was able to channel his vintage Beastmode, muscling and churning for a 5-yard rushing score with 1:11 left in the first half. With that touchdown, he is the sixth player in history to score 10+ postseason touchdowns for a single team. Third down conversions. The Seahawks were 8-15 (53%) on third down. While that might not seem very great, they were able to do this without establishing a rushing game at all. The Bad. Penalties. The Seahawks were penalized 11 times for 114 yards. Bradley McDougald was flagged for holding twice (10 Yards). Germain Ifedi jumped too soon (5 yards). Jacob Hollister pushed off a defender for OPI (10 yards) and moved too early twice (10 yards). DJ Fluker got a hand full of a defender’s jersey (10 yards). Delay of Game (5 yards). Jadeveon Clowney jumped the gun (5 yards). Tre Flowers had a rough game and was flagged for DPI twice (59 yards). The Eagles were flagged seven times for only 45 yards. Rushing. Seattle’s running backs rushed for 19 yards. I honestly cannot remember when Seahawks running backs, regardless of injuries, rushed for under 20 yards. They did implement pitches and screens, but really could not get anything going from the backfield otherwise. Seattle rushed the ball 26 times for 64 yards. Five rush plays resulted in a loss of yardage resulting in 11 total yards lost. Injuries. Ziggy Ansah left the game after re-aggravating his stinger injury. Mychal Kendricks and Mike Iupati were out of the game Sunday with injuries. Jadeveon Clowney is also not 100% with a core muscle injury (hernia) that will likely require off-season surgery. I do not expect Ansah to be active against Green Bay, but I expect the full power of the defense to play through injuries this upcoming week as they play the Packers. Looking ahead. The Seahawks will get in a week of practice before heading northeast to Green Bay. Sunday’s weather looks chilly with a high of 29°. The Packers had a bye week to rest, watch, and study the Seahawks game, which is part of why SBD’s NFL odds page opened with Green Bay as four-point favorites this weekend. Looking at the NFL’s team statistics page, the Packers are NOT even in the offensive or defensive top-5 for total yards, passing, or rushing. Here are some quick rankings: Offense: YPG: Seahawks 8th (374.4), Packers 18th (345.5). Passing YPG: Seahawks 14th (236.9), Packers 17th (233.3) Rushing YPG: Seahawks 4th (137.5), Packers 15th (112.2) Defense: YPG Allow: Seahawks 26th (381.6), Packers 18th (352.6) Passing YPG Allow: Seahawks 27th (263.9), Packers 14th (232.9) Rushing YPG Allow: Seahawks 22nd (117.7), Packers 23rd (120.1) Sacks Total: Seahawks 29th (28), Green Bay 15th (41) I’m not going to analyze or look too much into these numbers and rankings. I mean, the Seahawks are definitely no longer a top-10 rushing team, but have shifted their focus to passing. The defense is still banged up, but Quandre Diggs is back, while not 100%. Aaron Rodgers will air it out as he always does. I’m looking at Jimmy Graham as being a serious threat to the Seattle defense. It’s cliché, but true: The Seahawks struggle against TE screens and slot passes. On the other side, the Packers are generous with total yards and passing. I’m thinking Russell Wilson will use Metcalf and Lockett early and often. They might toss in a few screen passes to the running backs once the passing game is established. This matchup is highly anticipated and I (nervously) look forward to this game! Seattle has been very good on the road this season. I hope this success continues.
What a difference a week can make, right? Happy Holidays and Happy Blue Friday, 12s, it’s that time of the week where we take a look at what the Seahawks are up against this week. Typically, I would dig into statistics, try to analyze what the game should look like, but I really don’t see much of a point due to the injuries the Seahawks have sustained. None of the numbers will reflect what the current roster is producing, at least from a ground game perspective. Last week, the Seahawks lost two running backs: Chris Carson and C.J. Prosise. Carson suffered a hip injury that put him on the injured reserve for the remainder of whatever happens this season. Prosise suffered a broken arm, which too, ended his season and most likely his injury-plagued tenure with the Seahawks. Surprise, the @Seahawks have signed @Turbo and @MoneyLynch. #GoHawks https://t.co/h6DQ7Me47U — Seahawks PR (@seahawksPR) December 24, 2019 The front office did make some interesting moves this week by bringing back two veteran running backs and former Seahawks who haven’t played a single snap this season: Robert Turbin and Marshawn Lynch. Honestly, I dusted off the 2013 internal memories and got hyped for a little while but then reality set in. I have zero ideas how they will fare against a tough defensive front of San Francisco, especially with a banged-up O-Line coupled with the fact these guys haven’t played in a game. The odds are not in their favor, but hopefully, the emotional aspect will drive the line, fans, and backs to another higher level of performance. In addition to the injuries to the running backs, Duane Brown is now out for the remainder of the season due to nagging injuries that required surgery. Al Woods and Josh Gordon are suspended, Quandre Diggs is nursing an ankle sprain, and Mike Iupati is dealing with a stinger. We do have some good news: Jadeveon Clowney said, “There is no way I’m missing this game.” Mychal Kendricks and Shaquill Griffin were full participants in practice Thursday. Therefore, the defense is healthier than they were a week ago to make that final push into a reasonable playoff position. Speaking of playoffs, here is what needs to happen for seeding: Seattle can clinch the NFC west with a win. They can clinch a first round bye with a win and Green Bay loss. Seattle can clinch home-field advantage (you know, since they’ve played so well at home this season) with a win plus a Green Bay and New Orleans loss. San Francisco can clinch the NFC West, first round bye, and home-field advantage with a win. They could also tie, but would need Green Bay and New Orleans to lose to obtain the latter two. So, you better believe the Niners are going to come out guns blazing. Losing last week to the Cardinals put the Seahawks in a tough position, but at the same time, we have to remember they’re going to the postseason. Fans of 20 other NFL teams will watch the last game of the season on Sunday—Seahawks fans aren’t one of them. I honestly don’t know what to think of this upcoming matchup. There is a lot on the line for both teams as I just mentioned. I know Russell Wilson will have to have an excellent game under center. Last week I noticed he wasn’t scrambling like he usually does and took way too long to throw the ball. Ultimately, he was sacked multiple times, which stopped any sort of momentum moving forward. The San Fran secondary is pretty elite so errant passes cannot be made. Defensively, the Seahawks are in a lot better shape than last. Jadeveon Clowney had one heck of a game against the last meeting of these two teams. Rasheem Green, Ziggy Ansah, and Clowney could be the momentum shift this team needs to get through this week. Jimmy Garappolo, when under duress, made some mistakes I think the Seahawks must capitalize on. The Seahawks have fallen victim to screens, sweeps, and TE check-downs this season. If SF begins this game plan, like the Rams, it will be tough to come back from. They must stop the 49ers on third down. Conversely, the 49ers have one of the lowest defensive third-down conversion allowances. So, expect that not to change against Seattle who is about average league-wide on third down. I’m not expecting a high scoring game. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if this is a kicker shootout. I’m not saying that’s going to happen, but, you know…I wouldn’t be surprised.
The Seahawks flew to the East Coast to take on the reeling Carolina Panthers and secure a 30-24 victory. This win was also Pete Caroll’s 100th as the Seahawks’ Head Coach. However, while the Seahawks are now 11-3, it came at a cost of a couple of key defensive players. Seattle was successful during their first three drives of the ballgame. After the kickoff, Chris Carson was able to pound the ball downfield, fueled by a 23-yard run, to get the score. Jason Myers missed the PAT to give the Seahawks a 6-0 lead after an 8-play, 74-yard drive. The Panthers’ first drive resulted in a punt to give the ball back to the Seahawks. Tyler Lockett was able to find his groove and caught a 44-yard reception from Russell Wilson, who was dialed in throughout the ballgame. Wilson was able to connect with D.K. Metcalf for a 14-yard touchdown. After a successful PAT, the Seahawks were up 13-0 on the 8-play, 84-yard drive. With that touchdown reception, D.K. passed Doug Baldwin for second-most receiving yards by a rookie in Seattle history. The Panthers found some life using the screen pass and jet sweep. Christian McCaffrey, who I believe is undoubtedly the best running back in the league, was able to pound the ball in for a touchdown – completing a 12-play, 75-yard drive. In the second quarter, the Seahawks were facing second down and 18 at their own 17-yard line. Wilson connected on another deep pass to Josh Gordon for a whopping 58 yards. After a few penalties, Wilson connected with Tyler Lockett in the end zone for a 19-yard touchdown, ending the 6-play, 80-yard drive. The second half was not as explosive offensively for the Seahawks. They were only able to score another touchdown on a beast of a run by Chris Carson, plus an additional field goal by Jason Myers. The defense took some hits to injuries which allowed the Panthers to capitalize. They scored 17 unanswered points after the Carson touchdown. At one point in the fourth quarter, the Seahawks had SIX non-starters on the field playing. Pete Caroll commented after the game that “It was a great statement to walk out with a win with those guys playing.” As for the injuries, Caroll mentioned that “[Bobby] Wagner sprained his ankle a little bit. Quandre Diggs sprained his ankle also, but worse than Bobby.” Therefore, time will tell after more tests, more to follow later this week. When asked about players’ status for next week, Pete mentioned that “Ziggy Ansah, Luke Willson, and Mychal Kendricks all have a good chance to be back on the field next week–Luke for sure.” Thrice Picked. Seattle’s linebackers Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright collected all three Kyle Allen interceptions today. Wagner had one, Wright had two. Not a runaway. With a banged-up defensive front, the Seahawks were able to limit Christian McCaffrey’s rushing attempts to only 19 carriers for 87 yards. However, they didn’t have an answer to the screens and sweeps. D.J. Moore had 113 receiving yards while McCaffrey collected an additional 88 yards. Christian is the 7th player in history to have 1,200+ rushing and 750+ receiving yards in a season. Seahawks defense tallied three tackles for loss plus a sack on the day. On of the offensive side of the ball for the Seahawks, Wilson was 20 for 26 with two touchdowns. Lockett broke out of his slump and had 120 receiving yards with a touchdown. This is his fourth game with over 100 receiving yards this season. On the ground, Chris Carson had another 100+ yard game, rushing for 133 yards and two touchdowns. The game got close in the fourth quarter when the Panthers were trying to make a comeback, but couldn’t stop Chris Carson’s running game who ultimately sealed the game. Looking ahead, the Seahawks head back home to take on the Arizona Cardinals. Injuries are a factor here, but it might be a good week to let those who are not 100% to rest an additional week before the final regular-season game at home against the 49ers.
Happy Blue Friday, 12s. This week we have a great matchup between the Seattle Seahawks visiting the Carolina Panthers. More on that, but first I want to talk about playoff scenarios. The Seahawks are coming off a loss at Los Angeles (I was there, *eye roll emoji*) where the offense was nowhere to be found/not on the same page/case of the dropsies. The defense could not figure out how to stop Jared Goff from throwing on the run, primarily to tight ends. Defensively, Quandre Diggs came away with a pick-six and an additional interception, but it was not enough. The loss comes as a wakeup call to the Seahawks who are in a fight to the playoffs, even though they have a 99% chance, according to Cynthia Frelund. Additionally, the Seahawks can clinch a playoff berth this weekend with the following scenarios: Seahawks win and a Rams loss or tie. Seahawks win and Vikings loss. Seahawks win, Packers loss, and Vikings tie. Seattle tie, and a Rams loss. The Rams (8-5) are taking on the Cowboys (6-7) in Dallas so this week is a good week to root for the Cowboys. The Vikings (9-4) are traveling to Los Angeles to take on the Chargers (5-8). Therefore, this will likely be a home game 2.0 for the Vikings since the Chargers cannot seem to sell tickets to their own fans. Regardless, it would be a great week for the Chargers to actually play four full quarters and Phillip Rivers to not throw as many interceptions as he has children. For the Seahawks to clinch the division, the San Francisco 49ers need to lose when the Seahawks win. However, the division will likely come down to Week 17 when the 49ers are in Seattle. The schedule for both teams is “winnable games” until the clash of the two at the season finale in Seattle. Okay, on to the Panthers matchup. The Panthers are coming off a blowout loss against the reeling Falcons. They managed to put up 20 but gave up 40. QB Kyle Allen threw for 293 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions. Allen also rushed for a score, while fumbling twice, and was sacked five times. Christian McCaffrey had 11 carries for 53 yards and 11 receptions for 82 yards but did not find the end zone. On the defensive side, Carolina only sacked Matt Ryan once, allowing him to throw for 313 yards and two touchdowns. Devonta Freeman and Brian Hill combined for 146 yards and two touchdowns on the ground. However, the moral of the story is that Carolina gave up 300+ yards in the air. This is something the Seahawks and Russell Wilson should take into consideration. A couple of other notes: The Panthers are 3-12 in November and December over the last two seasons and the Panthers have allowed 24 rushing touchdowns this season—, which is the most in the NFL. Time to dig into some statistics. I added a column from last week to show the difference between the previous two weeks’ averages. Let’s just say, last week’s game was not helpful in the stat column. First, we will start with the offense: The Seahawks still rank top-5 when it comes to total offense. Unfortunately, they also rank high on the fumble counts. The Seahawks are able to obtain first downs and have a median 40% third-down conversion rate. The Panthers, however, do not have a powerful offense. They have Christian McCaffrey and that is about it. They rank low on total offense, fumble rate (just behind the Seahawks), and third-down percentage. Defensively, the Seahawks and Panthers are fairly generous to opponents when it comes to total yards and first downs. They both rank near the bottom of the league in the total yards allowed per game. The Seahawks have forced 22 fumbles on defense, which puts them in the top of the league. For first downs and third-down percentages, both teams are somewhat equal. I expect the Seahawks to push the ball downfield and score via the rush. As mentioned, the Panthers are charitable in both of those categories. For the Panthers, I expect McCaffrey to have a busy day carrying and receiving. If they can limit him, they can mitigate scoring opportunities for Carolina. Rushing: The Seahawks still are one of the premier rushing teams, however, that might slow with the injury to Rashaad Penny, who was just placed on the Injured Reserve to make room for Ethan Pocic. I do not expect Chris Carson to take the full workload, but I expect it to increase from the already heavy load. I am excited to see Travis Homer get some action this weekend. He was my preseason favorite to back up Carson. On Wednesday, the Seahawks signed Xavier Turner, a rookie out of Incarnate Word (Texas). The Seahawks are top-3 concerning rushing yards per game and attempts per game. Again, fumbles are an issue. Carolina is in the top half of the league with rushing yards, and Christian McCaffrey ranks third with 1220 rushing yards on the season. McCaffrey is only 61 yards short of being the top rusher in the league. He has tallied 12 rushing touchdowns and 4 receiving touchdowns this season thus far. Additionally, Christian has 726 receiving yards so far so he could reach the 1,000 rushing / 1,000 receiving yards running back this season. He could be the first player since Marshall Faulk in 1999 to accomplish this feat and the third player in history to do so (Roger Craig, SF, 1985). On the defensive side of the ball, the Panthers are near the bottom of the league in terms of rushing yards per game. The Seahawks are stingy to running backs, ranking in the top-10 for rush attempts allowed. Opponents know the defensive front of Seattle is stout and will likely exploit the passing woes the Seahawks have. While Diggs has made a difference in the secondary, short passes and screens still haunt the Seahawks for yards after the catch. I expect McCaffrey to be busy doing both. My guess is that McCaffrey is going to have under 100 rushing yards from scrimmage, but will surpass the century mark receiving (screens and check-downs). This is a good Segway to my final category of passing and receiving. Passing/Receiving: There is a lot to unfold right here, so I’m going to do it as briefly as I possibly can. Here is what I notice and is likely the key takeaway is that on offense, Carolina’s QBs have thrown a lot of interceptions as well have gotten sacked 50 TIMES! Defensively, Carolina is the second-best in the sack column, racking up 47 this season. They are tied with the Seahawks with third-best in total interceptions. I expect Russell Wilson will be under a lot of pressure. He has a knack for holding on to the ball and scrambling which will likely work out in the Panthers’ favor. Conversely, so will Kyle Allen. Fortunately, Allen makes mistakes with fumbles and interceptions where Wilson just loses yardage. This will be a defensive game. Both teams are decent on that side of the ball, but Wilson has the definite edge under center. Seattle has the rushing edge, even though McCaffrey is on his way to a career season. I expect Chris Carson to have a massive game on the ground. I also expect Seattle to be quiet on the passing front. Also on Wednesday, they placed Neiko Thorpe on the IR and promoted CB Ryan Neal, a rookie out of Southern Illinois, as his replacement. Jadeveon Clowney and Mychal Kendricks did not participate in practice on Thursday and has officially been declared OUT against the Panthers. With Ziggy Ansah and Al Woods coming back this week, it should not be too concerning considering how many times Carolina’s QBs have been sacked this season. Tyler Lockett has been underutilized for the last few weeks, partially due to illness and injury. Hopefully this week he can break out once again. Last week, there were key dropped passes that turned the ball over to the opponent. I want to believe the Seahawks have tuned up their pass-catching abilities to ensure simple, yet critical passes, are not dropped. Injuries for the Seahawks: Those who did not participate on Thursday include DE Jadeveon Clowney, TE Luke Willson, CB Shaquill Griffin, LB Mychal Kendricks. Limited participants were T George Fant, DE Ziggy Ansah, DT Al Woods, and T Duane Brown. As mentioned, with Clowney and Kendricks out, that stings the defense. However, Ansah and Woods were back practicing which is a great sign for both. Russell could use the strength of Brown and Fant to help prevent spending any time on his back this game. A list of actives and non-actives will be posted on Twitter @CascadiaSN when it becomes available—usually Sunday morning. As always, I expect a close game. Both teams are more than capable of beating each other and it seems that Carolina likes to beat up on the Seahawks. However, with Cam Newton out, I’m going to say the Seahawks put up at least 30 this week with at least six of those points coming from the defense. The offensive line needs to hold up against the speedy defensive front of Carolina in order to open up the passing game for Russ. Let us know your thoughts by leaving a comment below! In addition, a special shout out to our new writer and Englishman Andrew Hughes who will be at the game in Carolina!
Introduction The Seattle Seahawks fall to 10-3, miss a chance to clinch the playoffs definitively and relinquish the first seed to the only NFC team with 11 wins, the San Francisco 49ers. Before I talk about this game, I want to talk about the outcome implications a little bit. In terms of playoff-clinching, Seattle now stands at 98% chance of playoff clinch, with a host of likely scenarios occurring in the next week meaning all that is really up for debate is where Seattle will seed. The key fixture for the Seahawks future is Week 17 against the aforementioned 49ers as this will decide the #1 seed. It is okay to be a game behind going in because a victory will even the teams’ record and give the Seahawks the tiebreaker. In the case of a split head to head where the 49ers win, the best divisional record wins, which given the most likely outcomes of all the games, means 49ers will advance as the 1 seed. As long as Seattle wins the next 2 games against sub .500 and falling teams (Carolina and Arizona), it all comes down to the 30th of December at CenturyLink Field. What this means is that this game is not crucial, however, it is worth noting the obvious upside of the win, to keep pace with the 49ers and improve division record. First Half After 6 ½ minutes with 11 plays covering 54 yards, Seattle’s opening drive was ended by a suffocating 3rd down sack. During this opening drive, Rashaad Penny suffered a “significant injury to his knee” according to Coach Pete Carroll. Monday testing will give a clearer picture of the injury. A Field Goal was successfully attempted by Jason Myers, who has 26/32 FGs in 2019, and has hit 8 straight but would end up missing a PAT in heavy winds later in the game. Myers is 33/36 in terms of extra points in 2019 and previous to today had completed 12 of his last 13, with a miss against Tampa Bay. For the Rams’ opening drive, the Seahawks were dedicated to the run-stuffing style. This focus on the run allowed passes of 19, 15 and 33 yards in the drive. There were 4 runs, 4 passes. Seattle’s defense continues to aggressively play the run, after comments of Coach McVay that he will be using Todd Gurley more. However, in the passing game, the cover 3 zone was being exploited with many varied concepts and well-targeted routes. Jet sweeps also were used to attack the tunnel vision on Gurley. Through the first quarter, Jared Goff completed 6 of his 7 passes. Many of these plays are very simple reads, which reduces the stress of Goff, who seemed to struggle in a complicated system designed and previously implemented by McVay. The 2nd quarter begins with the rams making it 14-3 the Seahawks started their 3rd possession. After a stalling drive with another attempted inside zone on 3rd and 2, the Seahawks moved it much further downfield, just outside the red zone, where a contested-catch by Malik Turner goes incomplete on 4th down. The Seahawks were 4 of 7 on 4th down conversions until this point. After only the 13th 3-and-out all year for the Rams and a terrible option play by Russell Wilson the ball goes back to the Rams which allow further gouging of the defense with crossing and horizontal intermediate passing plays, as well as deep passing plays attacking the middle seams that are the weak points of the Seattle cover 3. The Rams cap a 240 yard half with another touchdown to go into the locker room with an 18 point advantage. Halftime Here’s what I wrote as I sat down at halftime. I believe these are the keys to the Rams’ success. A higher emphasis on the run game, which opens up the passing game for Goff. Lack of pressure on Goff in order to allow free throwing motion. Bootlegs, movement and PA instrumental here Great interior run-stuffing to stop inside zone from the shotgun in key situations Good passing defense to consistently contest catches. Good schematic match-ups to exploit deep inside seam routes and crossing routes to exploit the 4-3 scheme Seattle uses. Despite high pressure, the relative success of Gurley in the run game. I am not optimistic about the second half as the main problems for the Seahawks are deep-seated schematic exploits or pure talent problems on both sides of the ball from the rams, as well as great off fieldwork from McVay. Second Half In the first drive, a rare pressure from the Seahawks came from a stunt of Shaquem Griffin, a pressured ball caused an off-target throw, which was intercepted by Quandre Diggs, his 2nd interception (3rd Turnover) of the season since he joined Seattle in week 10. Diggs ran uncontested into the endzone for a Pick 6, but Jason Myers missed the extra point, partially due to high winds. The very next drive, the increased pressure was noticeable, with another Quandre Diggs interception, (which obviously makes 3 INTs) and several bad balls from Goff as the defensive line is allowed to pursue the passer as a higher priority than the run. With this focus shift, Gurley is able to generate more production in the run game, such as another run to the edge. The first Seahawks possession of the 2nd half was a 3 and out from inside the Seahawks’ 10-yard line. Gurley’s production continued to increase as the 3rd quarter progressed but the drive results in a blocked field goal, with Rasheem Green making another big play. Seattle was unable to get points in the ensuing drive, and so the 4th quarter begins with an 11 point differential and the rams with the ball. They escape the shadow of their own endzone with a bootleg and flip inside to the tight end. Well balanced plays and a strong physical run by Gurley extended the difference to 19. A long drive by the Seahawks, ending in a 34-yard field goal cut the deficit to 16, and technically a 2 score game, but with 7 minutes to go the chances were slim. A drive-extending first down by D.K. Metcalf was a beautifully executed stop and go. Metcalf tends to run a lot of comebacks and his large frame makes it difficult for defenders to get at the ball, meaning they aggressively attack the turn, and undercut it, leaving a free over the top route for Metcalf. The defense forced a 3 and out (#16 for the Rams all year) to give the ball back to the offense with five minutes to go, who respond with two incomplete passes and a sack. Josh Gordon converts the 4th and 18 for just his 6th catch with the Seahawks. The drive continues past the 2-minute warning until after consecutive holding penalties where Wilson launches a ball into the end-zone to be intercepted, and the clock is run out by LA with a first down. Spotlights Cody Barton made a positive impact several times with a batted ball and a good tackle in the red zone. Starting for the injured Mychal Kendricks. He was unsuccessful in setting the edge as effectively as Kendricks, whom he was replacing. The rookie racked up 4 total tackles was briefly injured but returned. While having a quiet performance in the second half, he was partially at fault for some outside breaking intermediate routes but he was put into the role of a vastly different style of linebacker and overall I would say he was passable as a replacement for Kendricks and could be more valuable if given a role tailored towards his strengths. Shaquem Griffin. After an early-season of mediocre and very limited line-backing play, Shaquem has turned into an impactful pass rusher. Here he has been an absolutely different player. His explosive first step, great ferocity, and good speed allow him to create disruptions and movement in the pocket, but a lack of bulk and technique limits his effectiveness in power situations. He has flashes of power, such as fighting and slipping through a double team, and off-season bulk and training will certainly help. I am a firm believer in Belichick’s philosophy. Focus on what you’ve got, not what you lack. (See D.K Metcalf falling to pick 64 as proof of teams only focusing on drawbacks) he was able to affect Goff multiple times and help force the Pick 6 with his drive. D.K. Metcalf was the most effective Seahawks receiver in both receptions (6/6) and yards (73) as he continues to be the most productive rookie WR coming into the game with 44 targets, 705 Receiving yards and was tied for second for touchdowns with 5. His body control, hands, and speed separate him already as a very impressive receiver, ranking in the top 30 of all wide receivers for yards. As the season develops, not only has he been successful with the “big man’s route tree” of fly’s, slants and comebacks, but he has had success with traditional routes such as digs, outs, and posts as well. Bobby Wagner. Lest you forget that Wagner is the heart of the team, a 14 combined tackles, 11 solo tackle game. A Seahawks performance has not been matched since 2016 when Wagner did it again. David Hawthorne was the last player to do it in 2010. Only eight other times this year has there been an equal or better performance across the year. After a punishing first half, Wagner was central to the much stronger defensive performance in the 3rd and 4th quarters, allowing just 7 points.
Happy Blue Friday, 12s! This week the Seattle Seahawks travel to Los Angeles to take on last year’s divisional champions Rams. I will be attending since I am semi-local due to living in San Diego. Therefore, if you are going to be there, make sure you hit me up on Twitter @BaseballDudeMan to crash my tailgate if the weather allows for it. The Seahawks are facing another pivotal game with seeding implications. Luckily, the 49ers travel to New Orleans to take on a tough team in the Saints. If the 49ers lose and the Seahawks win, it will give Seattle a much-needed cushion in the NFC West. For some reason, I have an unsettling feeling about playing the Rams in Los Angeles. The Seahawks are 4-6 in the last 10 meetings against the Rams dating back to 2014 and have dropped 4 of 5 when traveling to St. Louis / Los Angeles. However, this is football…sports. Anything can happen! I have taken a deep dive into the statistics for both teams. I will make some predictions of what to look out for, especially vulnerabilities for both teams. Offensively, the Seahawks put up an NFL third best 390.2 yards per game, but the Rams are on their heels at nearly 370 per game. Both teams seem to have fumbling problems and the Seahawks are the fourth-worst team. Chris Carson leads all RBs with six and Todd Gurley has three. The Seahawks are above average on third down conversions where the Rams are median in that category. Defensively for the same categories, the Seahawks are generous to opposing offenses. They surrender nearly 369 yards per game and allow around 21 first downs per game. However, they are stingy when it comes to allowing opposing offenses from converting third downs at a rate of 36%. The Rams seem to have the defensive edge, yet they still surrender over 300 yards per game to opponents while allowing just a shade over 20 first downs per game on average. The Seahawks, though, tend to cause opponents to turn over the football, forcing opponents to fumble 22 times this season, which is second-best in the league. Now let’s look at rushing offense and defense for both teams. The Seahawks, unbelievably, are a premier rushing team. They rush early and often. Seattle averages nearly 144 yards per game on the ground while tallying 12 touchdowns—a third-best in the NFL. The Rams score touchdowns using the ground game, but the rushing numbers are lackluster—under the century mark on average. They rank 25th in the league. The 14 touchdowns likely come from goal line touches and QB sneaks. I have not dug too deep but low rushing yards and a high TD rate is indicative of this theory. For the Seahawks, Chris Carson is averaging 81.8 yards per game and his longest run is a 59-yarder. He has five rushing touchdowns to his name this season. He is coming off 102-yard rushing campaign against good Minnesota defensive front. He was also able to put up 105 yards against a very tough Tampa Bay defense in Week 9. I do not expect his rushing to waiver. He will continue to pound the ball forward against any defense. We cannot forget about Rashaad Penny. The sophomore player out of San Diego State has started to establish himself as an elusive running back. The tandem of Carson and Penny is beginning to become one of the best RB duos in the NFL. Penny, in the last two outings, has scored 3 total touchdowns while putting up 129 rushing yards against the Eagles in Week 12 and had 107 total yards and two touchdowns last Monday against the Vikings. I expect him to play a large role this week. The Seahawks have played defenses that are stout against the running game and have had success. The Steelers, Buccaneers, Saints, Eagles, and Ravens were all top-10 rushing defenses and the Seahawks have rushed for 151, 145, 108, 174, and 106 yards respectively. I did some quick math. These five teams average an allowance of 91 YPG. The Seahawks averaged 136.8 yards against these teams. This is a difference of 45.8 yards. Therefore, I will estimate the Seahawks will rush for roughly 145 (+/- 10) yards this weekend against the Rams who give up 104 ground yards per game this season. For the Rams, Todd Gurley averages 58.4 yards per game but has eight touchdowns to his name. His longest run of the season is 25 yards. For Gurley, the low YPG but eight touchdowns cement my theory that they only use him often near the goal line. Therefore, I hope Seattle is able to limit the Rams’ time in the red zone. In two of his last three outings, he averaged over 90 yards on the ground. However, he was limited to only 6 attempts for 22 yards against Baltimore in Week 12. I expect the Seattle defensive front to limit his running game and my guess is that he will rush for roughly 75 yards and a touchdown. Finally, to finish up with statistics, we will look at passing statistics. One thing that is easy to notice is that both teams are top-10 with passing YPG, where Seattle is tied with Baltimore for the most touchdowns through the air. Considering the Seahawks surrender 269.3 passing yards per game, expect the Rams to exploit that. Seattle is in the bottom three in the league in that category. The Rams, however, have a decent secondary led by Jalen Ramsey coupled with a defensive front led by Aaron Donald. The Seahawks have done better in recent weeks with the addition of Quandre Diggs. Tre Flowers and Shaquill Griffin have also stepped up to make impressive plays in the secondary. I do not expect the Seattle defensive front to get to Jared Goff since he seems to elude sacks. On both sides of the ball for Seattle, sacks are an issue. Offensively, Russell Wilson has been sacked 35 times while defensively they have tallied only 23 sacks. The Rams have sacked opposing QBs 38 times where Goff has only been sacked 19. While Russell does not throw as much as Goff, he is more accurate with a 67.4% completion rate. Goff, however, has thrown 13 picks this season and Seattle’s defense has picked off opposing QBs 11 times. I expect this trend to continue on Sunday and the Seahawks should come away with an interception. As for primary receivers, Tyler Lockett has come off a few poor outings, with illness and injury partially to blame. Since he exploded for 152 yards against Tampa in Week 9, he has been limited to only 4 catches with 67 total yards and zero touchdowns since that performance five weeks ago. The same holds true for Cooper Kupp. Since his 220-yard performance in Week 8 against Cincinnati, the Yakima native and Eastern Washington University product has only 38 yards per game and a single touchdown, which came last week against the Cardinals. He coughed up the ball twice against the Bears in Week 11. Overall, I expect another close matchup between these two division rivals. Currently, the Seahawks look and play like the better football team, even though they have only been winning football games by a small margin. Goff has been careless with the football and the running game has not been too successful for the Rams this season. Conversely, the Seahawks have been pushing the ball down the field using both the pass and rush. I am still a little bit on the fence when it comes to Seattle’s secondary. While they have shown significant improvement, they still seem to give up big plays, as they did last week against the Vikings. Goff will air it out so the Seahawks should be able to take advantage of any mistakes he may make. As for injuries, the Seahawks do have T Duane Brown, CB Neiko Thorpe, TE Jacob Hollister, LB Mychal Kendricks who all were limited or did not participate in practice. I expect Brown, Hollister, and Kendricks to play Sunday. A list of players who are out will be posted to @CascadiaSN when it becomes available. I am excited to attend this game this weekend. I hope that the weather holds up and the Seahawks can come away with a much needed W. If you are also coming to the game, let us know on our Twitter @CascadiaSN or by hitting me up @BaseballDudeMan! I will be live Tweeting from the game so make sure to give us both a follow!