Blogging The Boys: Every time I watch the Seahawks, Russell Wilson is running around like a madman. Is it because of poor line play, the receivers not getting open, or how much of it is a built-in feature of the offense? Describe what is happening back there, and how Wilson is so deadly when he leaves the pocket.
Field Gulls: I definitely think that it's important to note how often Wilson runs around like a madman because he can't help it. I don't know how many QB hurries Wilson is himself responsible for this year, but I'd wager that he leads all QBs in that category. Sometimes I think his second read is always "run around in concentric circles for 3 seconds" because he seems to tuck and juke even when the protection seems to be holding up. The other issue is that the offensive line has had significant weaknesses at guard all season long and didn't add Duane Brown until midseason. I'd say with Brown in the fold, the Seahawks are at least an average pass blocking team. The receivers not getting open probably plays a factor as well, but I'm not sure to what degree; sometimes Wilson overlooks a wide open Paul Richardson or Jimmy Graham for a touchdown, sometimes there are no options other than Wilson trying to run for a first. I think against Dallas you'll see Wilson run around a lot, but maybe not getting under pressure 61% of the time like he was against the Rams defensive line. Expect pressures being assigned to Luke Joeckel, Ethan Pocic, and Wilson more than any other players.
BTB: The Seahawks defense, especially the secondary, has been decimated. How is the defense performing now with so many injuries? Anybody really stepping up their game on that side of the ball?
FG: Bradley McDougald has been a really nice substitute for Kam Chancellor. The Seahawks drafted a pair of safeties -- Delano Hill and Tedric Thompson -- but they'd be in a lot of trouble if not for the presence of McDougald, who could probably start at strong safety next year if Kam is too hurt to continue playing. Shaquill Griffin has had a bit more pressure on him since the loss of Richard Sherman and handled himself well, but Byron Maxwell -- who they signed after Sherman's torn Achilles -- is not capable of really doing close to what Sherman can do in coverage. He's had some pretty awful moments in coverage. I think the biggest injury showed up in the form of not having KJ Wright on Sunday and Bobby Wagner being limited against the Rams. Wright is supposed to return and Wagner has another weak to get close to 100%, so that gives them a bit more hope against Ezekiel Elliott. Without them, I'd have a hard time seeing them not allow 200 yards on the ground. Without Sherman, Chancellor, Cliff Avril, the defense is good, I'd say. Without Wagner and Wright in addition to that, and it's hard to watch.
BTB: Some media heads have been suggesting that it could be the end of an era in Seattle. Do you believe that? Is the team in for a downturn, or is it possible with some changes to just re-load and be back at the top of the NFC?
FG: Unless Pete Carroll is leaving and Russell Wilson is being traded, no I don't believe that. The era around these Seahawks mostly sticks with the career of Wilson. They aren't getting rid of Wilson, he'll be the franchise's quarterback from now until the mid-2020s or so and I'd put him there with some of those other quarterbacks who've had success for more than a decade -- Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger, and Drew Brees -- all guys competing for the Super Bowl right now in their late-30s and at 40. The stats and the historical data supports that idea for a quarterback with Wilson's track record in his 20s. The other good reason to believe that is that Wagner and Thomas are young, great, and under contract. Doug Baldwin has plenty of years left. Sherman is under contract for another year and I think they'll extend him. There are definitely some positions they need to turn over, some work they need to do to build up the young players they've drafted recently who aren't doing much yet; they need to rebuild a couple of positions, not the entire team. It's the same situation in Dallas in my opinion -- You've got Dak Prescott, you've got a chance to compete for years.
BTB: Given what has happened with the Seahawks the past couple of weeks, what do you expect to see on Sunday? How will the Seahawks attack the Cowboys on offense and defense?
FG: Well, the Seahawks haven't lost like that in years. They lost to the Packers 38-10 last year, their only blowout since 2011, but that was in Lambeau against Aaron Rodgers. This was at home against Jared Goff. So nobody knows what to expect because that certainly was not what I expected. I definitely thought they could lose to the Rams, but not like that. So basically any outcome in Dallas would not surprise me. I'm hopeful that Wilson can have a productive day against the Cowboys defense, possibly chipping away with Jimmy Graham and J.D. McKissic in the passing game. Then defensively, just trying to take advantage of a weakened offensive line if Tyron Smith is out, and pressuring the quarterback, which they failed to do last week and most of this season. The run defense was great up until last week, so I'm also not sure how much of that was the linebacker injuries and how much of it will rebound this week. I'm sure Elliott will get his, but hopefully the defense gets theirs too. I'll take a close game with no injuries that the Seahawks play well enough to win in -- even if they lose and miss the playoffs, at least it'll help take the taste of last week out of our mouths.
Thanks for the knowledge, Field Gulls.