Listening to the national media this week, you would have thought the Seattle Seahawks were entering this weekend’s game against the St. Louis Rams at 0-5. Don’t kid yourself, the Seahawks enter the game at 3-2 and have shown their warts on both sides of the ball. The team simply needs to have the right game plan in place and get out of their own way.
Angry Doug Baldwin returned after this past Sunday’s loss to the Dallas Cowboys, calling out everyone in the locker room, “We have to quit BS’ing ourselves … we’ve got to actually pay attention to things and not blow smoke up our tails”. The fiery Wide Receiver is right, there seems to be a level of complacency on the field with the Seahawks in their first five games. The offensive line is playing below average and getting flagged far too many times for pre-snap penalties. Darrell Bevell is relying too heavily on gimmick plays vs. handing the ball off to Marshawn Lynch (and Robert Turbin/Christine Michael) and letting everything else fall into place from there. Lynch only carried the ball 10 times last week against Dallas. If those ten carries netted under twenty yards, it would be one thing. However, Lynch ran for 61 yards and Bevell decided to abandon the run for some reason.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Seahawks simply aren’t making the plays that they have made in the past. They aren’t creating turnovers and more importantly, they are giving up yards in big chunks and not falling on the ball or dropping interceptions when the opportunities are presented to themselves.
Perhaps more important than any one item above is the Seahawks are starting to rack up a few key injuries and their depth will be challenged over the next couple of weeks. Offensive Tackle Russell Okung is playing with a torn labrum. Linebacker Bobby Wagner and Cornerback Byron Maxwell both left last Sunday’s game with injuries and will be closely monitored, with Wagner already announced as “out” for this weekend’s game, along with Center Max Unger and Tight End Zach Miller. Safety Kam Chancellor is dealing with a nagging hip injury as well. The team can’t afford to lose anyone this weekend in St. Louis.
The Rams will come into Sunday’s game off of a short week, having lost to the San Francisco 49ers on Monday Night Football. The loss dropped the Rams to 1-4 on the season and it looks like the season is already over for Jeff Fisher’s club. Quarterback Sam Bradford is once again out for the season with the reigns handed over to Austin Davis. While that certainly doesn’t help the cause, the changes that have occurred in the NFL over the past decade seem to have left Jeff Fisher behind. He struggled during the past few seasons in Tennessee and has not been able to get things turned around in St. Louis.
Let’s dig a little deeper into this week’s matchup and have a peek at what to expect when each team has the ball:
When the Seahawks are on offense
As referenced above, Darrell Bevell must commit to the run twice over this weekend. The Rams have the 26th ranked rush defense in the NFL, allowing just under 140 yards per game on the ground. The Seahawks need to feed the ball to Lynch, Turbin, and/or unleash Michael for the first time this season.
Look for this to be a focal point all day long for the Seahawks and then build in some play action passing for Russell Wilson to take advantage of an over pursuing defense. Aside from giving up all of those yards rushing, the Rams have also struggled to get to the Quarterback, having notched just one sack thus far this season.
Advantage: Seahawks (but there is a lot of concern here)
When the Rams are on offense
Rams Quarterback Austin Davis isn’t going to scare anyone on the field, but he has had a respectable season to this point. He’s completed 64% of his passes, thrown for 1,365 yards with seven touchdowns and four interceptions, leading to a Passer Rating of 89.6. St. Louis will likely try to feature their running game to slow the game down a bit. On limited duty and splitting time with others, Zac Stacy leads the Rams with 240 rushing yards on the season with just 61 attempts.
The Seahawks defense must use this weekend to get back some of the glitz and glamour that was established over the past two years. They must find the means of creating at least one or two turnovers and take the crowd out of the game. When Linebacker Bobby Wagner left last Sunday’s game, the team defense looked a bit lost, giving up too many big plays to DeMarco Murray, Tony Romo and the Cowboys and failing to get off the field on third down (Dallas was 10-17 last Sunday on third down).
If there has been one bright spot for the Seahawks so far this season it has been in their Special Teams play. Jon Ryan is consistently putting the Seahawks defense in a good position when the team is forced to punt. The only Seahawks-related highlights from the Cowboys game was a blocked punt by Doug Baldwin, which was picked up and returned for a touchdown by Linebacker Mike Morgan. Look for the Seahawks to continue their dominance on the third aspect in football.
Final Score Prediction: Seahawks 27, Rams 13
Despite this being a 1pm EST / 10am PST road game for the Seahawks, expect an element of revenge for last weekend’s home loss. The Seahawks know they can’t afford to fall too far behind the Cardinals and 49ers with those four games still far away in the horizon.