The Seattle Seahawks are 8-2 going into their Week 11 bye and have it all to play for over the final six games of 2019. Monday’s win against the San Francisco 49ers put them in the driver’s seat to win the NFC West. The victory also put a first-round bye and potentially home field advantage well within reach.
In order for that to happen, the defense is going to have to show that Monday’s primetime showing wasn’t an aberration. A few lineup tweaks on that side of the football is the focus of this week’s mailbag. Thanks, as always, to those who asked questions.
I think it’s safe to say that the Seahawks are going to phase out Ziggy Ansah, if not simply remove him from the lineup all together. Pete Carroll said last week that Ansah was 10 pounds away from where he needed to be and that he still hadn’t regained all the strength in his shoulder.
So it wasn’t a huge surprise to see Shaquem Griffin play his first defensive snaps of the season (13 to be exact) because, let’s face it, he truly couldn’t have been worse than Ansah. I’d still temper expectations from what Griffin can do as a pass rusher. He’s vastly undersized at just 227 pounds, but the benefit of Griffin is that you get his motor. His work rate is far superior to Ansah’s, and he's also better in coverage. That counts for something.
Seattle tried to rotate the two on Monday, but Ansah was quickly pulled out of the game after an egregious offsides penalty on San Francisco’s final drive of regulation.
“It’s really clear, more than it has been, that we might be able to build a role that could be a factor,” Carroll said of Griffin on Tuesday. “We have to work at that more so just to use his speed. He’s instinctively a good rusher. He’s just not very big. You have to do special things with him. We’ll put that together and see if we can make that a good complement to what we’re doing.”
Griffin is a smart football player, and it will be interesting to see what he does with the opportunity that appears to be before him.
Pete Carroll called the safety play against the 49ers the best it’s been for Seattle all season. He added that Quandre Diggs provided the “settling presence of a veteran.” I can’t imagine Carroll will tinker with the pairing of Diggs and Bradley McDougald given those comments. And there’s no need to. The Seahawks defense played its best game by far on Monday night. The trust in Diggs enabled Seattle to play more single-high, which is pretty much all it ran when Earl Thomas was patrolling the back end of the secondary.
Blair will only be used in dime situations. So far, the Cleveland game was the only time Seattle utilized dime packages on a consistent basis.
I’m more curious whether or not Ugo Amadi is still getting work at nickel. Jamar Taylor didn’t play well against the 49ers and was given a meager 36.6 coverage grade from Pro Football Focus. There’s room for improvement at nickel, but don’t expect to see Diggs move away from free safety.
This is a great question and one I asked Jadeveon Clowney after Monday’s win. He noted once again that sacks come in bunches and attributed the improvement to the group’s overall energy level. Clowney said they talked all week leading up to the game about maintaining their energy through all four quarters.
I’m a bit skeptical of that rationale because its either a cliché, or it’s an admission that the pass rush hadn’t been playing with such energy in its previous nine games.
My stance is that you had one superstar (Clowney), who was sick of hearing about Nick Bosa all week, and made it a point to dominate. He then went out and feasted on a pair of tackles who were clearly rusty as they made their respective returns from injury.
The more important question is whether or not that type of production is here to stay. I’d like to see it again in Philadelphia before I declare that the Seahawks pass rush is back.
Shaquill Griffin is Seattle’s most improved player and it’s probably not close. His pass breakup deep down the right sideline against Deebo Samuel was one of the biggest plays of the game and arguably his best play of the season. Samuel had a step on Griffin, but the third-year corner was able to make up ground and break up the pass at the last second anyway.
That illustrated a) supreme athleticism in order to play the position at a high level and b) the calmness of a veteran to make the play without panicking and interfering with the receiver.
But while Griffin is trending toward being a No. 1 corner, I don’t anticipate him following a team’s No. 1 receiver. It’s just not how Seattle operates. The Seahawks rarely, if ever, did it with Richard Sherman. I don’t see them changing that tendency for Griffin.
Someone will have to be cut in order to activate Ed Dickson (unless Luke Willson’s hamstring is bad enough that he gets placed on Injured Reserve). Seattle doesn’t need seven receivers on its roster. Josh Gordon looks to have assumed Jaron Brown’s role as Brown was inactive on Monday night. He’d be the likely odd man out. I don’t see the Seahawks cutting another rookie receiver. They already parted ways with Gary Jennings. I’d be shocked if they let go of John Ursua as well.
I’m a big juicy IPA guy. My favorite IPA, though, is Deschutes chainbreaker White IPA.