Despite the fact that they will bring many of the same coaches and players as they have for the last few years, the Seattle Seahawks could be a much different team than the one that the LA Rams have faced recently when the two sides meet this Thursday night at Lumen Field.
The Seahawks that you remember could be the one that has a perennial MVP at quarterback and a formidable defense led by future Hall of Fame linebacker Bobby Wagner.
The Seahawks who’ve shown up over the first four weeks of the season have a quarterback whose numbers should only make us question everything we’ve come to believe about passing statistics, paired with a defense that ranks 32nd in total yards allowed. And ‘dead last’ seems generous.
Sean McVay has overseen a 6-3 record against Seattle, while Aaron Donald has helped master a 10-5 record against the Seahawks since he was drafted in 2014. The current iteration of LA’s division rivals is one that stands at 2-2 following a 28-21 victory over the San Francisco 49ers in Week 4, but perhaps this is the lowest that Seattle’s morale could possibly be after a win. The Seahawks were offered a reprieve by San Francisco’s need to turn the offense over to rookie Trey Lance in the second half and they were able to manage just enough to come out of Santa Clara with a victory.
Can they turn around and host the 3-1 Rams four days later and expect to hold Matthew Stafford and Cooper Kupp down to the same degree as Jimmy Garoppolo and Lance, or are the Seahawks the exact rebound opportunity that Los Angeles is looking for?
This is everything you need to know with Thursday’s contest practically at our doorstep.
2020 record: 12-4
Playoffs: Wild card loss to the LA Rams, 30-20
Head coach: Pete Carroll (114-65-1 with Seahawks, overall 147-96-1 in 16 career seasons)
Offensive Philosophy: “Copy Sean McVay, but with Russell Wilson at QB”
OC: Shane Waldron
Changes on Offense from 2020:
Replace OC Brian Schottenheimer with OC Shane Waldron (Rams)
Replace LG Mike Iupati with LG Damien Lewis
Replace RG Damien Lewis with RG Gabe Jackson
Replace C Ethan Pocic with C Kyle Fuller
Replace WR3 David Moore with WR3 Freddie Swain/Dee Eskridge
Replace TE2 Jacob Hollister/Greg Olsen with TE2 Gerald Everett
Replace RB2 Carlos Hyde with RB2 Alex Collins
IR / Hurt - RT Brandon Shell, Everett (COVID), RB Rashaad Penny
What to expect from Seattle’s offense:
Changes start with Shane-ges
The Seahawks were the top-scoring offense in the NFL over the first half of the 2020 season, but then the wheels fell off and Seattle lost four of their next nine, including the wild card game to the Rams. Much of that had to do with an inept offense that didn’t score more than 28 points against any team after early November, with the exception being the 2-14 Jets.
Seattle managed only 11 first downs and 278 total yards of offense against LA in the playoffs, and weeks later, quarterback Russell Wilson was asking “Why not me?” after Matthew Stafford was traded to the Rams.
To try and spark optimism with Wilson and the Seahawks fanbase, Pete Carroll fired offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer, hired Waldron away from McVay’s offense, and re-tooled his offensive line by trading for guard Gabe Jackson from the Raiders.
The result so far is a team that has yet to turn the ball over, but is also ranked dead last in Time of Possession and 30th in plays per drive. While rate stats would seem to imply improvement by the Seahawks offense (fewest turnovers, fourth in net yards per pass attempt, first in yards per pass attempt, eighth in yards per carry), the reality of their situation is that Seattle stinks and can’t move the ball when they actually need to.
The Rams just faced Kyler Murray, the evolution that comes 10 years after a player like Wilson, and right now it would seem as though the bigger test at quarterback this week has already happened.
Who is good then?
Receiver Tyler Lockett has caught 20 of 25 attempts for 333 yards with three touchdowns, so he’s not a player who Taylor Rapp and David Long, Jr. can lose sight of, especially if Jalen Ramsey is spending the day around DK Metcalf. Seattle’s other receiver hasn’t been especially productive over the last 10 or so games and he has caught 20 passes for 285 yards with three touchdowns in 2021.
That seems pretty good for four games and Metcalf remains young and mostly full of potential, but talented teams have not managed to struggle immensely against him.
Metcalf has also been contained in most of his matchups against Jalen Ramsey.
Running backs Chris Carson and Alex Collins have been a decent duo, relative to the backfield situations for most NFL teams, but it’s not the west coast version of Chubb-Hunt or anything.
What’s new in Everett, Washington?
Former Rams tight end Gerald Everett signed a free agent deal with Seattle and he had caught eight of nine targets for 77 yards and a touchdown in the first three games. Everett was inactive in Week 4 because he was on the Covid-19 list and we will need to monitor his progress this week to see if he’ll be able to face his old team.
The Seahawks still probably favor tight end Will Dissly, though Dissly has only seen six targets so far this season. A third tight end option, Colby Parkinson, just returned from injured reserve.
2021 offensive ranks
Pass attempts: 29th
Rushing attempts: 25th
Net yards per pass attempt: 4th
Passing touchdowns: 5th
Rushing yards: 17th
Yards per carry: 8th
Rushing touchdowns: 6th
Points per drive: 13th
Time of Possession: 32nd
DVOA: TBD (released Tuesday)
Offensive “strength of schedule”: TBD (But it was 29th prior to Week 4)
*Essentially, FootballOutsiders is saying that last season the Seahawks have faced an “easy” schedule of defenses in the NFL by average DVOA.
Offensive Depth Chart
DC: Ken Norton, Jr.
Strategy/scheme: It’s called...”Be friends with Pete Carroll since 1995.”
Also: 4-3 base system
Changes on Defense:
Replace OLB KJ Wright with OLB Jordyn Brooks
Replace CB Shaquill Griffin with Tre Flowers then with CB Sidney Jones
Replace DT Jarran Reed with DT Al Woods
Replace DE L.J. Collier with DE Rasheem Green
What to expect from Seattle’s defense:
Expect a lot of opportunities
The Seahawks were one of the top scoring defenses in the entire NFL in the second half of the 2020 season, despite the fact that they were one of the worst in the first half. Well, they also played the likes of Wentz, Daniel Jones, Sam Darnold’s Jets, WFT, and C.J. Beathard in that time.
It wasn’t hard to connect the dots between improved results and forgiving opponents.
Well, Seattle’s efforts to improve on that side of the ball in the offseason have thus far been met with resounding “Uh-uhs” in the first four weeks.
Better pass defense? Uh-uh. The Seahawks rank 28th in passing yards allowed, 23rd in yards per attempt allowed, and QBs have a passer rating of 105.1 against them so far.
Better run defense? Uh-uh. The Seahawks rank 31st in rushing yards and rushing attempts against, 25th in yards per carry allowed.
A defense that can get off the field? Uh-uh. The Seahawks rank 32nd in time of possession and 31st in plays per drive allowed.
All you need to know is that Seattle’s “big move” at cornerback in the offseason was signing Ahkello Witherspoon, and then they traded him to the Steelers before the 2021 season even started. The Seahawks then acquired Sidney Jones from the Jaguars, starting him in Week 4 against the 49ers, and one thing is for sure: he will be tested heavily until further notice.
One such test resulted in a 76-yard touchdown to Deebo Samuel on Sunday in which nobody decided to cover San Francisco’s best wide receiver. The Seahawks tried everything they thought they could do to get better on defense this year, and after 16 quarters and an overtime, it only appears to have gotten worse.
Pete Carroll refuses to say whether or not Sidney Jones or Jamal Adams misplayed long touchdown to Deebo Samuel. Says he doesn't need to answer who was supposed to cover wheel route from slot.— Corbin K. Smith (@CorbinSmithNFL) October 4, 2021
Players to “worry” about?
Bobby Wagner remains one of the best defensive players to ever reach the NFL. He doesn’t have a lot of help.
The jury is out on whether or not safety Jamal Adams was a good acquisition, but the price of two first round picks makes that a high bar and thus far Adams’ presence is sort of abstract as there won’t be a lot of evidence on paper.
Linebacker Darrell Taylor missed all of his rookie season but the 2020 second round pick has three sacks in four games and might be the edge player Carroll has been struggling to find since trading Frank Clark.
2020 first round linebacker Jordyn Brooks is ridiculously fast but Matthew Stafford will likely throw in his direction all day long, if he chooses to win that way.
Safety Quandre Diggs had an interception in Week 4 and is a generally good “ball hawk” at the position.
But if you thought that LA played poor defensively against the Cardinals, I think Seattle would offer even bigger concerns than what to do around Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey. The Seahawks seem to have fewer elite talents and fewer starting talents on defense than the Rams do.
2021 Defensive Ranks
Points Allowed: 20th
Yards Allowed: 32nd
Turnovers Forced: 14th
Net Yards per Pass Attempt Allowed: 23rd
Passing Touchdowns Allowed: 22nd
Rushing Yards Allowed: 31st
Yards Per Carry Allowed: 25th
Rushing Touchdowns Allowed: 13th
Points Per Drive Allowed: 25th
TOP allowed: 32nd
Defensive “strength of schedule” rank: TBD (20th prior to Week 4)
K - Jason Myers had made many field goals in a row prior to a miss in Week 3. Overall, he’s one of the NFL’s most reliable kickers
P - Michael Dickson is a one-time all-pro who is one of the top punters in the NFL
PR - Freddie Swain had a fumble on a return in Week 4
Other - Nick Bellore is a fascinating player. He’s been a fullback in the NFL. A linebacker in the NFL. And he’s probably Seattle’s best special teams player. Bellore is almost exclusively a special teams player but Carroll has left open the possibility of him getting out there more on defense.
What happened this season?
The Seahawks beat the Colts 28-16 in Week 1, though it was the first start for Carson Wentz after also missing most of training camp with a broken foot. Seattle also upended the 49ers in Week 4, after Jimmy Garoppolo left at halftime and was replaced by rookie Trey Lance in his first extensive action.
The Seahawks lost in Week 2 to the Titans, blowing a 15-point halftime lead at home and falling 33-30 in overtime. Seattle couldn’t do a thing to slow down Derrick Henry and it cost them a win. They were even less competitive during a 30-17 loss to the Minnesota Vikings in Week 3, allowing 453 total yards and 28 first downs.
The Seahawks are 2-2.