The Rams have just seven games remaining to limp their way back into mediocrity with a couple more wins down the stretch. Having dropped their first NFC West game to the Cardinals two weeks ago in disappointing fashion, they picked up their second win in a sloppy contest in Cleveland last weekend.
On Sunday, the Rams will take the home field against the Seattle Seahawks with a chance to pick up their first divisional win in 2011 and instill some inspiration across the team and among the fans.
For some inside intelligence, I spoke to Danny Kelly who manages Field Gulls, the SB Nation community for fans of the Seattle Seahawks.
Flashback to week 17 last year: the Rams and Seahawks decide the NFC West division champions in the last game of the NFL regular season. Since then, the two are 5-13 in regular season play. What's gone wrong for the Seahawks?
The first culprit is probably the offensive line, and their issues there can thankfully be attributed, mostly, to youth and inexperience. The running game took a few months to get going and with protection issues the passing attack was pretty slow to develop as well. On a team where the defense is developing a certain identity for toughness and attitude, the offense lagged behind for much of the first half of the season in developing their chosen identity of a hard nosed running unit.
The Seahawks fell behind early in nearly every game through October, and game-plans were thrown out the window. In the last few weeks, it almost looks like the coaching staff has just said, "screw it, we're going to run our gameplan as we originally wanted to, regardless of the score," and that has translated to more success in time of possession and yardage on the ground. The Seahawks still aren't scoring very much, but they did just upset the Ravens so they must be doing something right up front at this point in the season. Marshawn Lynch has run for 100+ yards the last two games and is the only Seahawks' offensive player to score a touchdown since their Week Six bye.
Of course, all that said - now, in the past week, RG John Moffitt and RT James Carpenter, both rookies and Seahawks starters, have been placed on the injured reserve so the depth on the line is going to be severely tested. Breno Giacomini and Paul McQuistan will fill in at RT and RG, respectively, and between the two of them they have only a few NFL starts under their belts.
The rest of the Q&A after the jump.
You guys opened the post-Hasselbeck (Matt type) era with Tarvaris Jackson and Charlie Whitehurst. Is it fair to say the 2012 NFL Draft will yield a quarterback for Seattle before day 3?
Yes. Pretty much every Seahawks fan expects that the team will choose a quarterback in this year's Draft, and I know a LOT of people will be angry if it's not with their first round pick. Though the initial welcome for Tarvaris Jackson was anything but warm, he's played solidly and I think most expect he'll start at least one more year for the team until the player the Seahawks pick in this year's Draft is groomed and ready to start.
It seems the Charlie Whitehurst experiment failed but the Hawks also signed an undrafted rookie named Josh Portis that some are pretty excited about. To answer your question though, yes, I fully expect the Seahawks to draft a QB in the 2012 Draft, probably on day one.
In three years, the Seahawks have rebuilt their entire offensive line. How has this young unit (save for Gallery who's 31) performed in year one together?
Like I mentioned above, they started out very slowly. They gave up a ton of sacks, couldn't get the running game going whatsoever, and generally looked lost. It should have been expected really, considering this line is the youngest, both in years and experience together, of any NFL line since something like 1992. They have shown progress though in pretty much every game and the Seahawks have rushed for 100+ yards in their last two games. They've improved in pass pro as well. Overall, people are generally optimistic about the line and can accept that it will just take some time. The injuries to Moffitt and Carpenter though have some of us in panic mode.
The defense doesn't seem to jump out at me with any stars, save for perhaps Earl Thomas. Chris Clemons and David Hawthorne are quality starters, and there are multiple solid role players. Is the pass rush the biggest hole on this defense?
The Seahawks don't have a 'star' heavy defense but there are several players worth mentioning. LB Leroy Hill, NT Brandon Mebane, and the players you mentioned make up the core nucleus of the Seahawks defense. Kam Chancellor has had a big season and was mentioned on several national outlets' and sportswriters' midseason All-Pro teams at strong safety (Peter King, for example… not that this means much).
To get to your question though - yes, yes, yes, the pass rush is definitely the biggest issue for this defense. It's something that we've talked about ad nauseam at Field Gulls. The way the base personnel has been built though, stopping the run is the primary function and as a result, there hasn't been much in the pass rush department. The Hawks will use some stunts and blitz packages, but not incessantly. Sam Bradford should be afforded some time in the pocket this week.
It's Pete Carroll's second year as head coach. How would you qualify his tenure thus far?
Pete Carroll's tenure thus far could be characterized by his youth movement - a total upheaval, a a total rebuild. There are something like 10 or 11 players remaining from when he took over. He's jettisoned many of the Seahawks 'legends', including Matt Hasselbeck (who they chose not to re-sign), and Lofa Tatupu (who they tried to renegotiate with and he instead walked) in the process. Carroll and Seahawks' GM John Schneider have built up their roster through the Draft, free agency, and by looking under every rock to find players that fit their system. The jury is still very much out but so far I've liked most of the moves they've made and I appreciate that they appear to have a distinct and specific plan for the roster that they are sticking to.
Thanks again to Danny for the info.