By: Peter Vandeventer | @PeteVandeventer
This is Football. There is no ‘meta’ to winning games. You can set out to go into the season with goals but the second the pads start to pop, your plans go out the window. You can’t rely on anything from your opponents, so you have to focus on what you can control. The end goal is winning and if Seattle can control and flourish in the following areas then this season could really be special:
Let Russ Cook
It goes without saying that Seattle will run the ball well this season. Carlos Hyde already adding to a productive ‘19 squad that has Chris Carson, Rashaad Penny (PUP), and Travis Homer returning. All three showed that they can produce on any given night, the latter of which had to carry the rock down the stretch after both Penny and Carson’s seasons were cut short. Along with Carlos Hyde, the Seahawks added Travis Homer’s college teammate--DeeJay Dallas--who likely had the best camp out of any Seahawk who isn’t a household name already. Combined, the current Seahawks backfield ran for 2,784 yards last year. But that is to be expected.
The pushback of the Seahawks 2019 offense was the lack of confidence in Russ to throw the ball earlier in games. Ideally, you should be giving your franchise QB earlier opportunities to push the ball down the field and put added stress on defenses while also having the productive run game to compliment.
This manifests in the passing game when they’re in situations that they can afford to aggressive. Trusting in Russ and his talented receiving corps is the start but it all depends on how the gameplan is set situationally, week-to-week.
If the Seahawks want to see an even greater level of offensive production then they know where that has to be. I went further in-depth about this topic in my previous article about the Seahawks offense.
Actually Defend the Run
The Seahawks defense gave up 4.9 yards per carry last year (tied for 5th worst) while giving up the 3rd most rushing TDs. If you want to point a finger at one group for that poor performance then you should look no further than the defensive line.
This issue didn't get resolved this year after Jadeveon Clowney and Al Woods left as free agents. Clowney is regarded as one of the best run defenders in the NFL and even when on the field, he wasn’t able to provide much help to the line with many holes. Woods logged roughly 500 snaps last season and proved to be one of the most undervalued players during his time in Seattle.
This year, Seattle will have to look at some familiar faces to help shore up that issue. Both Bruce Irvin (SAM) and Benson Mayowa (LEO) are going to be called upon to take a lot of snaps and should be serviceable replacements. The DT position is lacking a bit of depth right now with only three active which is somewhat of a concern as both Jarran Reed and Poona Ford missed camp time with injuries. This will have to be a collective effort to shore up woes in the run defense but with an improved secondary, Seattle has a shot at putting another body at or near the box anyways.
Just eat blocks and clear lanes for K.J. Wright and Bobby Wagner to go ‘headhunting’ (not really, of course).
It’s a bit of a theme defensively, success is solely based on if the line can hold their weight or become too much of a weak spot.
Seahawks invested more attention to the defensive line this offseason but nothing of which will turn heads. Spending a 2nd and 5th to bring in Darrell Taylor (INJ) and Alton Robinson added an infusion of youth but they’ll only be depth pieces for the time being. Benson Mayowa and Bruce Irvin both have some experience as rotation pieces around the league.
A name that I’ve somehow been able to go this whole time without mentioning is Jamal Adams. No other player has received as much praise from coaches during training camp than he has. He’s the piece that has tied the defense together and during his time in NY, Adams did any and everything for Gang Green.
Now now. That’s not something you can expect from the disciplined Seahawks defense but you will however see Adams get after the QB a little bit. His 6.5 sacks last season shows just how much he has a knack for the ball, whether in the air or the backfield. Without production from a playmaker (i.e. Jadeveon Clowney), you’ll have to design and draw up blitz packages that can manufacture pressure. Can’t say I’m confident in Pete or KNJ to adapt but it’s 2020, expect the unexpected.
Limit Coaching Blips
If there’s anything that sports have learned during this pandemic (other than to stay clean, wash hands, and limit contact), it’s that time is uber precious.
Hopefully, that translates into the season when Pete and the coaching staff decide when they should (and shouldn’t) take timeouts. Nice segway huh.
Clock management might not always come into play but in close games, the winner comes down to two things: Special teams and clock management. A few too many times last season it felt the Seahawks were fighting both the clock and the opponents due to some costly mental errors.
If you can steal an FG at the end of the first half or play the clock to your advantage, you put yourself in a good position to win close ballgames.
I’ll be checking in on these keys at years end...hopefully, all is well.