Defensive issues concerning for Seahawks


Defensive issues concerning for Seahawks

RENTON, Wash. (AP) What started out as a mild concern for the Seattle Seahawks became a full-blown issue after losing to Detroit.

For all the success Seattle has enjoyed this season on the defensive side - being ranked No. 1 in the NFL in total defense just a couple of weeks ago - the ability to make stops on third down has been a nagging problem.

After watching Detroit convert 12 of 16 third downs and six of them 8 yards or longer in Sunday's 28-24 win over the Seahawks, it's moved beyond just a problem for Pete Carroll's crew.

``It's disturbing. I'd like to be how we are in the rest of our game,'' Carroll said on Monday. ``We'll try and take a turn here. We've had some deep discussions about it and see if we can get it fixed right away.''

The attention and accolades that Seattle's defense has received at various times this season was earned. They did hold Aaron Rodgers and Green Bay to just 12 points. They did shut down Tony Romo and the Cowboys. And they did keep Tom Brady and the Patriots in check long enough for Seattle's offense to rally.

But the loss to Detroit was the second time this season that Seattle's defense had a chance to make a game-saving stop and couldn't get the job accomplished. In the season opener at Arizona, Kevin Kolb came off the bench and led the Cardinals' final drive for a winning touchdown.

On Sunday, it was Matthew Stafford marching the Lions 80 yards in 16 plays, capped by Titus Young's 1-yard TD catch on third-and-goal with 20 seconds left. Detroit converted three third downs on the final drive.

``Our ineffectiveness on third down allowed them to move the ball throughout the game when they did, but in particular the last drive they just out-executed us going down the field,'' Carroll said. ``We were there and we mixed our calls, we tried everything and we weren't able to catch up with them. They made the plays and won the game.''

According to STATS Inc., the Seahawks now rank last in the NFL in allowing conversions on third-and-6 or more, giving up first downs 39 percent of the time. The issues aren't necessarily at 6, 7 or 8 yards, where Seattle is allowing just 9 conversions in 31 attempts, but surprisingly start at 9 and 10 yards or more.

Seattle has allowed 16 conversions in 37 plays of third-and-10 or more - 43 percent. No other team in the NFL has allowed more than nine. The Lions' were 3 of 5 on third downs of 10 yards or more on Sunday, including two conversions of 11 yards and one of 10.

Carroll said some of the problems lie with the youth of his defense and making sure communication is correct. Stafford also surprised Seattle with his patience in coming off his main reads and throwing underneath, giving his backs and receivers on shorter routes the opportunity to run after the catch.

Stafford was 34 of 49 for 352 yards with only three completions going to star receiver Calvin Johnson. Nineteen of Stafford's completions went to running backs or tight ends.

``It would be easy if we had gotten beaten in man coverage the whole time or the zone stuff or the pressures,'' Carroll said. ``We did make some mistakes that they took advantage of, some real little technical things ... they took advantage of every one of them and were so efficient down the stretch. Just shows you that was a really good quarterback that we played and he was able to carry it out throughout the game and get the win.''

On top of the defensive problems, Seattle is now thin at wide receiver. Carroll said Doug Baldwin was a longshot to make it back this week from a high ankle sprain suffered against San Francisco. Ben Obomanu and fullback Michael Robinson were at a specialist Monday having their injured wrists examined, while Braylon Edwards was getting an MRI after his knee unexpectedly swelled and forced him to miss Sunday's game. Golden Tate also tweaked an ankle in the loss, but Carroll said he was fine.

As of now, Seattle's only healthy receivers on the active roster are Sidney Rice and Charly Martin.

``We've got to find out what's the deal with (Obomanu) and we're not going to know about Doug and the likelihood is not great for Doug so we're looking at our options here,'' Carroll said.


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Redskins draft countdown: Georgia RB Sony Michel

Redskins draft countdown: Georgia RB Sony Michel

Redskins draft countdown

Sony Michel

Running back

Sony Michel is a solid north-south runner who also can bounce outside and pick up yardage. He shared playing time with Nick Chubb last year and still ran for 1,277 yards, averaging 7.9 yards per carry, and scored 16 touchdowns against SEC competition. Michel also showed his bona fides in the passing game, catching 64 career passes and showing that he can handle pass protection. 

Height: 5-11
Weight: 220
40-yard dash:4.54

Projected draft round:2

How he fits the Redskins: The Redskins have made no secret of their desire to draft an upgrade at running back. They would prefer one who can catch passes out of the backfield and gain yardage between the tackles. Sony Michel can do both as well as pop for yardage on the outside. There is a good chance that he will be on the board when the Redskins draft in the second round. Since they don’t have a third-round pick, this may be the last chance to get an upgrade in this draft. 

Film review: vs. Notre Dame, vs. Alabama

—The first thing to say here is that the Bulldogs had a quality run-blocking offensive line. Michel frequently had big holes to run through. For his part, Michel maximized his gains when he had a big opening, hitting it quickly and working north-south. 

—He also can pick up yards through just a small crease, again by hitting it with urgency and gaining momentum to drive for the final few yards. 

—Michel didn’t do a whole lot of pass protection in the plays I watched, but he was solid when he did. On one play against Notre Dame, he put a blitzing defensive back on the ground. Against Alabama, he got in the way of likely first-round pick Da’Ron Payne long enough to allow the quarterback to get off a deep pass. To be sure, he didn’t blow Payne away but his block was effective.

—Besides the O-line, Michel also got quality blocking from his receivers. Again, he took advantage, reading the blocks and maximizing the gain. 

—He also can get it done without much help. On third and 20 against the vaunted Alabama defense, he headed up the middle and quickly went outside when he saw no running room. He headed to the sideline with four Alabama defenders and no blockers in sight. Michel found another gear and accelerated down the sideline to convert the third and long.  

—He later converted a third and 10 on a draw play, quickly getting up to speed and zipping through traffic to move the sticks. 

Potential issues: Although he has decent speed, he’s not the home run threat you might want in a back taken in the second round. And Michel isn’t really a power back either, although he can fight for extra yards. 

Despite his limitations, there is chatter that Michel might be drafted early in the second round or perhaps even late in the first. It’s hard to separate the smoke and speculation from reality as we sit a week before the draft starts. But he’s a talented back and if Derrius Guice goes off the board earlier than most expect, a run on runners could include Michel. 

Bottom line: Saquon Barkley is the obvious top running back and he surely will be gone when the Redskins pick in the first round. After that, the Redskins have plenty of options. They like Guice but 13 may be too high for him and he is likely to be gone when their pick in the second is on the clock. Michel is one of a few possibilities there, a group that also would include Michel’s former teammate Nick Chubb, Ronald Jones of USC and others. Without a peek at the draft board in Ashburn, we will just have to wait and see. 

Redskins draft countdown

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.


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Ty Lawson is playing a bigger role than anyone could have predicted for Wizards vs. Raptors

Ty Lawson is playing a bigger role than anyone could have predicted for Wizards vs. Raptors

The biggest surprise of the Wizards-Raptors series through two games, at least from Washington's perspective, has to be the fact Ty Lawson has very quickly earned a prominent role in Scott Brooks' playoff rotation.

Lawson, 30, was signed the day after the regular season and after he played much of 2017-18 in China with the Shandong Golden Stars. He did not appear in one game with the Wizards or any other NBA team during the regular season, yet he was the first point guard off the bench in Game 2.

When John Wall picked up two quick fouls, it was Lawson who got the nod, not Tomas Satoransky. Lawson ended up playing 31 minutes, more than Satoransky and fellow backup point guard Tim Frazier have earned combined through two games.

Though the Wizards had three point guards on their bench behind Wall before Lawson even signed, he has apparently surpassed them all on the depth chart. Satoransky is the most surprising, given he played quite well during the regular season.

Satoransky averaged 7.2 points, 3.9 assists and shot a team-best 46.5 percent from three. He had the highest offensive rating (124) on the team.

Lawson, though, played quite well in Game 2. He put up 14 points, eight assists and three rebounds while shooting 4-for-5 from three.

Lawson outscored four of the Wizards' five starters. Not bad for his first game.

"He did everything I knew he was capable of doing," Brooks said. "I’ve seen him do it for many, many years. He’s tough, he’s a competitor. He competes and pushes the pace. He plays defense. I liked the spirit."

Lawson provided a noticeable spark. He is still quick and aggressive with the ball, not afraid to look for his own shot, and played physical defense against the Raptors. Lawson ended the night plus-8 in the box score in a game the Wizards lost by 11.

"It’s good to see him get into a game and be able to produce for us," guard Bradley Beal said.

Given the Wizards lost Game 2 and face an 0-2 deficit in their series, it is likely that Brooks continues to alter his rotation in the coming games. He could go back to Satoransky more often, knowing he had some solid games against Toronto in the regular season, including on March 2 when he had 10 points, eight assists and six rebounds.

Satoransky could see more time at shooting guard or small forward and could play alongside Lawson. That might be Satoransky's best bet because Lawson did nothing in Game 2 to squander the opportunity.

For a team whose effort has been questioned by their head coach, Lawson's energy and urgency was noteworthy. He brought the edge of a guy playing for his NBA career, knowing a good playoff series could earn him a contract next season. 

Clearly, the way Lawson played was refreshing for Brooks given how long he kept him out on the floor. He may have come out of nowhere, but it looks like Lawson is here to stay.




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