With the San Francisco 49ers back and at 8-0 the staff decided it was time to bust out another roundtable.
What’s the way ahead with the TE position? Luke got hurt yesterday. Will Dissly is out for the season. Ed Dickson hasn’t returned, Seahawks traded Vannett. Fant had to play yesterday. We had a practice squad show up with Jacob Hollister. Do they need more depth? The Seahawks were stacked at TE before the season began.
Nate: It appears Luke’s injury is to his rib cartilage. He should be able to power through Monday’s contest if needed or should split time with newcomer Jacob Hollister. The issue is that the Seahawks tend to use their TEs as an extra blocker. Hollister fulfilled a receiver role yesterday, breaking coverages. The Seahawks chose not to activate Ed Dickson before week 9 but must reactivate him this week or he will remain on the IR for the rest of the season. With Willson’s injury, I’d expect him to be activated this upcoming Monday against the 49ers.
Andy: with an epidemic of TE success sweeping the league and many teams notably failing to find an answer for the strength and speed, the bar for success is much lower than other positions like the LT, where only elite is good enough. Serviceable Pass catching big men are a dime a dozen but Luke Willsons blocking ability is rarer for a route running TE, so as long as you have him or Dissly up, you can fill the rest of the corps with single-dimensional players such as Fant and Hollister. If I were Pete I may think about putting a young receiver onto the practice squad and elevating one more TE. just in case.
Kevin: With how injury-prone the position has been this year, yes you are going to need some depth. As pointed out above the Seahawks leave the tight end to block on a lot of packages. That’s a lot of contact and running. There isn’t a whole lot of meat to pick off the free agency bone at the moment. Austin Seferian-Jenkins is the biggest name out there. I suppose they could always bring back Jeremy Stevens.
Which Seahawks players had good performances? (not the same as MVP, hoping people will pick players who had good games from less crucial position groups, whereas MVP obviously everyone knows without Russ we were screwed)
Nate: Germain Ifedi. Only has 6 penalties for 45 yards on the season, 4 for holding and 2 false starts. Considering how much pressure is getting to Wilson, only 4 holds for Germain is outstanding. His last penalty came against Cleveland as he was flagged as an ineligible receiver. He hasn’t committed any 15 yarders this season, which is almost out of character.
Andy: I would like to pick out a wildcard in Mychal Kendricks as a player that had a good performance, but was certainly not a deciding factor. His role in the Run game is to set the edge and turn the run inside. When Kendricks was on the forcing side, the Bucs did not get the ball to the sideline when they were running and often the play was dead on arrival because of good edge protection. Unfortunately, the interior was much less stout in their defending and so a hole would open inside the tackles. In the passing game, he played outside underneath zones and shut down short passing plays across the field, or rush the QB. With 2 tackles for loss, 4 total tackles, it seems like he wasn’t involved but when Taylor came in as nickel, he failed to protect the run effectively and had lapses in the passing game. There’s a reason Seattle plays Base 4-3.
Kevin: Before he got hurt I would have said Dissly who was having an All-Pro type season. At the moment though.. I mean… It’s hard to not say that D.K. Metcalf has played out of his freaking mind so far this season. The dude is a specimen and could end up being another Calvin Johnson type freak of nature that causes nightmares for years to come.
Can Seattle pass SF for the division title? If not, can they win a road playoff wildcard game?
Andy: I have to admit that the 49ers are on the warpath and it may be a pipe dream to think of a division title. If Seattle loses head to head this week I reckon it is over for the #1 spot. However currently, the NFC Wild card spots seem to be a reasonable goal of 4 teams. The East and South both have a 2 win and 1 win team bringing up the rear and the north has 50% of its division sitting at just 3 wins. Seattle sits at 7-2, the strongest 2nd place, and seems to have the possibility of facing the Vikings, Panthers or Eagles. Any of which could go any which way.
Kevin: No. Next question.
Nate: The easy answer is “yes they can.” Nothing is out of the realm of possibilities and anything can happen on any given Sunday (or Monday and Thursday). They just have to execute a perfect game plan against future opponents without committing mental mistakes or defensive miscues. The secondary has been an issue this season. The Seahawks rank 28th in the league when it comes to pass defense giving up nearly 290 yards per game to opposing receivers. With Diggs hopefully springing into action soon, I anticipate that number to come down a little bit. Opposing teams will exploit the defensive holes and the Seahawks should expect that. Now, is it probable the Seahawks pass the 49ers? I’m going to say “no.” The 49ers are on track to be the top team in the NFC. This will be a true test for Seattle.
Should the Seahawks use the same type of offensive game plan against the 49ers?
Andy: expect a lot less intermediate/deep passes to the tight end next week, as I’m sure that priority number 1 is dealing with Bosa. The easiest way to do this is to chip with the tight end and slow him down. Hollister was a big target down in the endzone so expect less from him or some really quick throws. As for the deeper game, Richard Sherman is the Lynchpin of the secondary, whose largest weakness is cross field tracking. Expect crossers, slants, posts and corners to come into play for whomever Sherman takes. Some will stay the same, such as the diversification of Metcalf’s routes to exploit the stack technique and the play action pass to be vital to success.
Kevin: I think it would be a little too predictable for the Seahawks to come out with the same game plan they used against Tampa. So expect exactly that. I could see them running on first down more and maybe running right at Nick Bosa to try and wear him out (yeah, I know that won’t work). Whatever the game plan is the Hawks are going to have to air it out quite a bit in the second half. I don’t expect this to be a close game, but then again the Seahawks are ridiculous during primetime games.
Nate: I say let’s take a look at some stats. Let’s start with passing and receiving. Defensively, San Francisco ranks first in the league with pass defense only allowing 169 yards per game on average. Offensively, Seattle ranks 9th in the league in passing yards per game and 10th in receiving averaging 278 yards per game. The Seahawks have only faced one top 10 pass defense this season against the Browns, where Russ threw for 275 to 10 different targets. Therefore I would not expect a 250+ yard outing from Russell Wilson against a stout 49ers secondary. However, if Josh Gordon is available, I wonder if this will spread the defense from doubling Tyler Lockett with an additional threat in Gordon. Heck, I’ll even go to say that Hollister is a threat down the seam. Defensively for the Seahawks, as mentioned they rank in the bottom 5 allowing nearly 290 receiving yards per game. Offensively, the 49ers only pass for about 219 yards per game on average.
Let’s look at rushing: Defensively, the Seahawks allow nearly 103 yards rushing per game to opposing teams. Offensively, the 49ers rank second in the league rushing for an average of 171 yards per game. Defensively, San Francisco ranks dead center in league rankings when it comes to rushing defense allowing 103 yards per game. Offensively, Seattle is a top ten rushing team averaging over 130 yards per game. The Seahawks faced off against the top rated rushing defense in Tampa and still managed to put up 145 rushing yards. Before the game, Tampa was allowing an average of 68 rushing yards per game. However, my personal thought is that by opting to throw the ball first, instead of rushing, it opened up the opportunity of rushing against Tampa.
I liked the offensive game plan Seattle played against Tampa. They exploited their weaknesses and capitalized. This San Francisco team doesn’t have too many weaknesses to exploit. I would expect Seattle to go back to their roots of running first. However, San Francisco has sacked quarterbacks 30 times this season, which could inhibit running room. Nick Bosa has 7 sacks, and Arik Armstead and Dee Ford have 5.5 sacks each. I would expect a lot of screen passes this matchup and a few scramble miracles from Russ, otherwise, there will not be a whole lot of offense for Seattle this game. San Francisco’s defensive front will likely be too much for a degraded Seahawks OLine to handle.
There has been a lot of discussions that the Seahawks are worse than their record due to their point differential and strength of schedule. Are they simply playing down to their competition or have they been floated by an easy schedule?
Andy: It is hard to say which necessarily but it is worth noting that the 2 seahawks losses have come at the hands of the 6-2 ravens that just unseated the patriots and the other loss was to the 7-1 Saints. People may claim that the saints had a back-up but Bridgewater won 5 of the 6 games he played this year so that team was still a winner with him. What all this means is that the hawks have come close to losing to far worse teams but haven’t lost a game they should have dominated.
Kevin: 7-2 is 7-2 no matter who you play. It’s not like the Seahawks are playing UW or Wazzu. I don’t think they’re as good as their record is. If it wasn’t for Russ this team might be 1-8 or 2-7. The offensive line isn’t good. Chris Carson isn’t really a first tier back. Tyler Lockett and D.K. Metcalf are All-Pro, but they wouldn’t have anyone to get them the ball and then the defense isn’t even that mediocre.
Nate: Reading the above assessments, I somewhat agree. I will have to counter Mr. Nesgoda and his Chris Carson comment. I believe he is one of the top RBs in the league right now, considering the offensive line and its degradations. However, back to the topic of the Seahawks’ record: The have lost to the Ravens and Saints, all who are winning football games against good teams. The Ravens just exposed the Patriots and the Saints, even without Brees, continued to win ball games. This is a Saints team who should have went to the Super Bowl last year, but the officiating, I’ll admit, ruined that. The key word is TEAM, not Drew Brees. Digressing, the Seahawks lost to two teams that will assuredly be in the postseason. Therefore, they’re playing frustrating but decent football. Folks at the place that is the “worldwide leader in sports” have the Seahawks finishing 10-6. As I mentioned earlier, I expect Josh Gordon and Quandre Diggs to step in and make an impact, specifically Diggs. The secondary needs to clean it up and his leadership will help them figure it out.