Typing with one hand sucks. I’m after a little sympathy; so what? Just a personal, making-eye-contact message to you: NEVER look away when cutting an onion (or anything for that matter) with a very sharp knife. Seriously. Don’t make me send you pictures. Because I will.
The big story in Seattle this week is the offense. Shocker. Before the season started, the story was Tarvaris Jackson, the inexperienced o-line, a new offensive coordinator and no offseason to practice. Here we are two weeks into the season and 17 offensive points later, and what are the stories? Tarvaris Jackson, the inexperienced o-line, a new offensive coordinator and no offseason to practice. So why the vitriol? This shouldn’t surprise anyone.
I’m not trying to make excuses; I’m just as disappointed as the next guy. But I understand and embrace the Seahawks’ current situation: the roster is radically changed, the offensive coaching staff is new, there was no preseason to practice and perfect schemes, and frankly: Tarvaris Jackson has never been a very good quarterback. Even on a very good Minnesota offense.
So what does it all mean for Sunday?
1. The Cardinals defense is pretty awful. After week 1, the Cardinals ranked 26th in overall (defensive) DVOA and in week 2 they leapfrogged to 25th. Heh. They rank 25th against the pass and 23rd against the run. Pretty consistently awful. And this is after playing the Panthers and the Redskins, respectively. Neither field particularly experienced or talented offenses. Add to that an injury that kept starting inside linebacker Daryl Washington out of practice for almost the entire week. He could play, but it’s a long shot; and if he does, it’s unlikely that he’s 100%. The Seahawks offense has looked pretty bad, yes. But both San Francisco and Steelers field above average defenses. If Tarvaris could throw two touchdowns against the 49ers, he should be able to do that or better against a terrible Cardinals defense.
2. The Seahawks defense has been impressive. After facing elite backs like Frank Gore and Rashard Mendenhall, the Seahawks are 9th in league in rushing defensive DVOA. They’ve allowed 209 yards in 70 total rushing plays over two games – a 2.98 yard average. The Cardinals rush offense, especially after a Thursday tweaking of Beanie Wells’ hamstring, should be completely toothless.
The Seattle pass defense hasn’t been great. But I attribute that to allowing nearly 300 yards to Pittsburgh; the Brandon Browner on Mike Wallace matchup was a complete nightmare. All 10 passes to Wallace were complete for 124 yards and a touchdown. But to be fair, Browner is tall and powerful; he’s not built to match up against elite speed receivers like Mike Wallace. Pete Carroll played the unbalanced matchup to scout Browner, not because he believed it was the best matchup. My hunch.
This upcoming game, Carroll himself said in a mid-week press conference that Browner would be matched up against Larry Fitzgerald: a tall, powerful receiver that excels in winning physical matchups. This is sink or swim time for Browner; he’s proven he can’t compete with elite speed receivers. Not a surprise. But if he can’t competently match up with a receiver that matches his strengths, I’ll say it right now: the Brandon Browner experiment (a good, worthwhile experiment) will be over; and so will his NFL career.
3. The injury situation favors the Seahawks. The Seahawks are likely to be minus special team studs Byron Maxwell and Michael Robinson, as well as veteran guard Robert Gallery. Gallery was a highly touted signed I was never excited for. He was never good in pass protection and he hasn’t stayed healthy in the past few seasons, being over 30 years of age. Both have held true now as a Seahawk. He’ll be out for at least four weeks. Paul McQuistan won’t likely be as much of a downgrade.
On the flip side, linebacker Matt McCoy will be back (good on special teams and has played very well on 3rd downs) and all signs point to Sidney Rice returning after two full practices without setbacks. Rice’s impact will be felt; it’ll be tough for the Cardinals to gameplan for a set of wide receivers that have yet to take the field this season, especially one that includes one as talented and explosive as Rice.
As I mentioned before, Cardinals linebacker Daryl Washington and running back Beanie Wells may not play due to injury; both were limited on Thursday and are likely to be game-time decision on Sunday. If they do play, it’s unlikely they are full strength or effective. Both are impactful, talented starters for that team.
In sum, the Seahawks should smash the Cardinals. I didn’t even mention the home field advantage. To be honest, It won’t matter: the Cardinals’ rush offense will do nothing and the Hawks’ defense will smash Kevin Kolb. It’ll end up be closer than it should, because mistakes will be made on a team as young as the Seahawks, but make no mistake: the Seahawks’ win number one will come week three.