By: Peter Vandeventer | @PeteVandeventer
This Sunday Night, the Seahawks will host the Tom Brady-less Patriots in what will definitely be the strangest meeting between the two squads. No fans in the stands but the excitement and energy will be felt for two of the winningest franchises of the last 10 years.
Cedric Ogbuehi | T | Pectoral
Rasheem Green | DE | Neck
Phillip Dorsett | WR | Foot
Josh Uche | LB | Ankle
Adam Butler | DT| Shoulder
Brandon Copeland | LB | Knee
Julian Edelman | WR | Knee
N’Keal Harry | WR | Shoulder
Dalton Kenne | TE | Neck
Matthew Slater | WR | Knee
Patriot Secondary vs Russ
Easily the deepest and most loaded group for the Patriots is their secondary. With DPOY Stephon Gilmore, the McCourty twins, Adrian Philips, and plenty of upside with Kyle Dugger and Joejuan Williams. They aren’t just names either as they collected three interceptions without giving up a TD last Sunday. Albeit it was against Ryan Fitzpatrick who by no means considered an elite playmaker. However, Fitzmagic is not the first (nor last) QB this defense will have seeing ghosts and Russ will have to be on his best game if he wants to attack them.
Seattle played a very uncharacteristic game against the Falcons, letting Russ air it out early and often. The hope is that this isn’t a fluke but rather the Seahawks finally putting the ball in one of the league’s best playmakers. We will know for sure if Seattle is transitioning to a passing team or not depending on how this matchup goes. I’m going to assume it won't be a walk in the park and Russ likely won’t put in a performance similar to week 1, but if Seattle trusts Russ then they won’t be afraid to stick to him.
The defense that gave up the least TDs and had the most interceptions a year ago will be facing one of the most precise signal callers that this league has seen. Should be fun to watch how it plays out.
Patriot Run Game vs Seahawks Run Defense
The Patriots put up 217 yards on the ground last week and that came from a plethora of different looks. Cam Newton, Sony Michel, Rex Burkhead, JJ Taylor, and James White all got touches so you know they will rotate and keep their backs fresh. But expect the back with the hot hand will take the brunt of the touches this week.
Seahawks gave up 4 yards per play to Falcons backs for a total of ~50 yards, most of which came in the 1st half of the game. It was promising to see Seattle tighten up in the second half only giving up 5 yards on four carries, a small sample size but that’s something that brought early success to the Falcons. The first game overall is a sign of improvement despite spending most of the game in nickel as opposed to their base defense and you can thank Jamal Adams for that. It’ll be interesting to see how the Patriots will line up to move Prez away from the LOS or to make it easier for them to scheme a blocker on him.
The Patriots will run several new looks this year and it’s crucial that the Seahawks DL and LBs play sound football and don’t let Cam perform as he did during his 2015 MVP campaign… something he is still very capable of doing.
I don’t know about anyone else but I love talking special teams.
Since 2010, the Seahawks have had Brian Schneider as their Special Teams Coordinator. That was the case until last week when Schneider suddenly announced that he would be stepping down from that position. In his place, Larry Izzo stepped in and his squad did a pretty good job. The only flaw on the day was giving up a garbage time onside kick that just looked out of place from the start.
Jason Myers and Michael Dickson are bringing stability to special teams while the Patriots are going through a slight shift of their own.
Patriots officially signed Nick Folk from their practice squad to their active squad after play vs Miami (due to new PS squad rules) after going 3/3 in XPA and 0/1 in FG attempts. Special teams have been a bit of a mystery in Foxborough since neither Folk nor Rohrwasser made the initial roster, instead, they landed on the practice squad. But it appears Folk survived the battle since suiting up against Miami and ultimately being called up to the active roster.
Players to Watch
Out of necessity, I was gonna put Jamal Adams here but he catches everyone’s eye regardless of a spotlight or not so I’m gonna go with the one player that has the coaches have raved about: Marquise Blair.
Logging most of his snaps at Nickel, Blair brings more physicality to the secondary coupled with his size can provide enough help in coverage on TEs as opposed to Ugo Amadi.
Blair brings a bit of the energy that Adams brings and was in on several huge plays Sunday, including forcing a fumble on the Falcons fake punt early in the 3rd quarter.
Lockett is reliable and Dorsett might be playing against his former team but the X-factor in the group will always be Metcalf. Very few players in the league have the speed or size to go against him, let alone both. Metcalf’s 900 yards and 8 TDs coupled with his 15 yards per attempt last year is only scratching the surface of how much of a mismatch he’ll become down the road.
Metcalf had a productive week 1 as he caught 4 passes for 95 yards and a TD. Despite that success, Metcalf did have some trouble with drops which could hamper his production going forward if he can’t be relied on. But Russ and Metcalf have connected well since being drafted and their work together is blossoming into trust when it matters. A big game for Metcalf would spell bad things for the Patriots stout secondary.
Due to the offense’s early success last week, the Falcons had to abandon their run game to stay in striking distance. But the Falcons had planned well and were able to get the ball moving off tackle. A lot of that is due to a weak edge pressure and containment. This can’t be the case this week with Isaiah Wynn starting at LT for the Patriots. Wynn, who’s coming off a great first game and has a good combination of athleticism/power, when he can stay healthy.
His adversary will be 2019 1st round pick, L.J. Collier. Collier had a pretty forgettable rookie year that was spent going from being a healthy scratch to buried down in the depth chart. But this year with a full healthy training camp, it appears Collier made the jump the coaching staff wanted.
Rasheem Green got hurt last week which left Collier to be pushed into a more prominent role than initially anticipated. Sunday Night, with Green being doubtful, Collier (and Damontre Moore) will fill in for the team leader in sacks a year ago as well as one of the team’s best-run defenders. Seattle is going to need Collier to live up to expectations and bring out the player everyone saw when he was playing at TCU.
The keys for L.J. are to set the edge, hold containment, and eat blocks to prevent blockers from getting to the second level so players like Wagner and Wright can shoot gaps and shut down the run game.
How to Win
Simple as that... I wish.
Cam Newton may not have had the greatest end to his career in Carolina but that is all in his past. But Cam is a new man--or at least NE is allowing him to be himself once more--and it might be early to say but it appears he’s going through a career renaissance.
As one of the original true dual-threat QBs, you can have to try and make him one dimensional and commit to stopping a part of his game. Due to their success running the game, Seattle will have to spy Cam with someone like Bobby Wagner or Marquise Blair. Either way, it’ll be a team effort and requires sound football on all levels.
Lucky for Seattle, Russ is similarly difficult to play against and that defense has to see him every day. The same zone-reads and RPOs they regularly practice against will be helpful. But that’ll only go so far; Cam is built more like a running back and you’ll see him run midline reads (and plays of that nature) which you’ll probably never see from Russ. Regardless, Seattle will have to be ready for Cam to try and stretch them, trying to feast on miscommunications, misalignments, and manufacture energy for his team.
Score prediction: SEA 28-24