Seattle Seahawks

Analysis: Seahawks two-minute defense desperately needs to improve

Analysis: Seahawks two-minute defense desperately needs to improve

Pete Carroll isn’t a fan of the phrase “bend but don’t break.” He prefers boxing jargon as a way to describe his defense that ranks 26th in passing yards allowed through five games.

“I think I refer to it as a ‘rope-a-dope,’ which is a favorable phrase of mine,” Carroll said on Friday. “We don’t want to bend but don’t break. That’s not what we’re looking at. We’re trying to keep them from scoring fast, first off, and then we’d like to control the line of scrimmage and keep the running game in control and play really good on third down.

“With all that happening, if we can get the football, now we’ve got a chance. ‘Bend but don’t break’ is a nice way of saying they put up a lot of yards but you still won.”
But that’s exactly what happened against the Rams. Los Angeles gashed the Seahawks for 477 total yards. The Rams had swift touchdown drives of eight plays for 62 yards, six plays for 75 yards and five plays for 75 yards. All three possessions lasted 2:53 or less. Los Angeles also made its final 10-play, 77-yard drive at the end of the game look easy to set up what would have been a game-winning field goal for Greg Zuerlein had he made it.

The Rams utilized their two-minute offense in each of those instances.

“We’re really disappointed in the last drive of that game in particular,” Carroll said.

The problem is that it wasn’t just the Rams game where Seattle’s defense struggled to defend a two-minute offense. The Seahawks have allowed a touchdown in the final minute of the first half in all three home games this season: a 55-yard pass to John Ross in Week 1, a 29-yard pass to Alvin Kamara in Week 3 and a 9-yard pass to Cooper Kupp in Week 5.

Seattle even allowed the Steelers to march down the field on a 12-play, 75-yard touchdown drive to keep themselves within reach in the fourth quarter of Week 2. The game would have been tied at 21 had Pittsburgh converted on its two-point try. A comfortable win against the Cardinals in Week 4 has been the lone game where the Seahawks haven’t been burned when their opponent was desperate for points.

“We’ve just got to do better,” Carroll said in regards to Seattle’s two-minute defense. “There are things that we’re working on to make sure we’re more aggressive in those situations so we can keep them from moving the football.”

Seattle’s offense has two statement drives so far this season: a 12-play, 51-yard drive that salted away the final 5:34 against the Steelers and a 15-play, 81-yard touchdown drive that lasted 8:08 to ice the game against the Cardinals. The Seahawks defense has one: Tedric Thompson’s fourth-quarter interception against the Rams, something that would have gone for naught had Zuerlein made the 44-yard field goal attempt.

The Seahawks have a habit of letting teams hang around longer than they should. Seattle is a better team than the Cleveland Browns, the next opponent on its schedule. If and when the Seahawks establish a lead in the game, there will come a point where the Browns will be in a must-score situation.

We’ll all get to find out if Seattle’s defense has made the necessary adjustments in order to keep that from happening.

Talkin' Seahawks: Behind Enemy Lines with NBCS Eagles Insider Dave Zangaro

Talkin' Seahawks: Behind Enemy Lines with NBCS Eagles Insider Dave Zangaro

The bye week has come and gone for the Seattle Seahawks. Up next, they’ll have a tough test against the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 12. 

To preview this week’s matchup, Seahawks Insider Joe Fann is joined by Eagles Insider Dave Zangaro.

Listen to the full podcast below:

More on the Seahawks: 

Rapid regret? DK Metcalf can make Eagles rue the day they passed on him

Jadeveon Clowney mum on his future, has Super Bowl aspirations with Seahawks 

How Shaquem Griffin can be a mismatch despite not being prototype edge rusher

It appears to be Ugo Amadi time for the Seahawks 

Jadeveon Clowney gets 'off-campus treatment,' will meet Seahawks in Philadelphia

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Jadeveon Clowney gets 'off-campus treatment,' will meet Seahawks in Philadelphia

Jadeveon Clowney is not currently with the Seahawks as he's getting an "off-campus treatment" to deal with a hip injury, Pete Carroll told reporters on Friday. Clowney picked up the ailment in Seattle's Week 10 win against the 49ers, and he's officially listed as questionable in Week 12 vs. the Eagles.

Pete Carroll didn't divulge any additional specifics about the treatment or Clowney's exact whereabouts. All we know is that the star pass rusher will meet the team in Philadelphia ahead of Sunday's matchup and be a game-time decision.

The Eagles will be without right tackle Lane Johnson, which would be a nice matchup for the Seahawks should Clowney play. He'd obviously be a huge loss if he can't go. Clowney dominated the 49ers with 10 pressures, five quarterback hits, a sack, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery and a touchdown all by himself. The Seahawks had 10 quarterback hits and five sacks in total. It's hard to imagine Seattle's pass rush having a similar impact if Clowney is out.

If that is indeed the case, L.J. Collier would be active and likely see some playing time. Branden Jackson, Rasheem Green, Ziggy Ansah and Shaquem Griffin would also have bigger roles coming off the edge.

5 teams Seahawks fans should be rooting for in Week 12

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5 teams Seahawks fans should be rooting for in Week 12

The Seahawks are back in action on Sunday as they travel to Philadelphia to take on the Eagles. The Week 12 matchup has major playoff implications for both teams.

But, there are other contests around the league this weekend that could help Seattle’s playoff chances, both within the division and in the NFC, at large. According to Football Outsiders, the Seahawks have 87.4% odds to make the postseason, including a 38.0% chance of winning the NFC West and a 25.7% chance at a first-round bye.

Here are five teams Seahawks fans should be rooting for.

1. Carolina Panthers (at New Orleans Saints)

This one would be huge. At 5-5, Carolina’s playoff hopes are dead in the water, but they can still play spoiler against their NFC South division rival. At 8-2, with a win against the Seahawks and an upcoming matchup against the 49ers, New Orleans has a prime opportunity at claiming the No. 1 overall seed in the NFC. New Orleans winning the head-to-head tiebreaker means the Seahawks must finish one game above the Saints. Seattle obviously needs some help to get there.

2. New England Patriots (vs. Dallas Cowboys)

Dallas winning or losing should be inconsequential for the Seahawks unless things go really poorly for Seattle down the stretch. That said, it can’t hurt for the Cowboys (6-4) to drop another.

3. Baltimore Ravens (at Los Angeles Rams)

Los Angeles is still in the hunt at 6-4, and they feel like a team who could still get hot over the final six weeks of the season. The Rams still have games against the 49ers and Seahawks which means their playoff hopes are still very much alive. Again, as long as the Seahawks handle their own business, this game shouldn’t matter, but better safe than sorry. Seattle will be pulling hard for Baltimore on Monday night, especially if the Seahawks drop their game in Philadelphia on Sunday.

4. Green Bay Packers (at San Francisco 49ers)

This one is pretty self-explanatory as Seattle is still a game back of San Francisco (9-1). Packers and Seahawks wins on Sunday would put Seattle on top of the NFC West as it owns the tiebreaker. Green Bay winning would also give the Seahawks the relief of being able to lose one game (not against the 49ers) and still control their own destiny in the division.

5. San Francisco 49ers (vs. Green Bay Packers)

Some of you are probably thinking, “C’mon, Joe, why on earth would we root for the 49ers, especially since you just told us to pull for the Packers?” It’s a fair question, and it ultimately depends on your level of optimism.

The Seahawks don’t play Green Bay (8-2). So to avoid tiebreakers, Seattle would have to finish one game ahead of the Packers. And if you’re someone who feels ultra-confident that the Seahawks are going to run the table, then it’s irrelevant whether or not San Francisco loses any games before Week 17. This obviously changes completely if Seattle loses to Philadelphia on Sunday with San Francisco and Green Bay playing Sunday night.

Russell Wilson not worried about MVP, but 'great to be in the conversation'

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Russell Wilson not worried about MVP, but 'great to be in the conversation'

As it stands right now, Russell Wilson is in a three-man race for the NFL’s MVP award along with quarterbacks Lamar Jackson and Dak Prescott. All three have a strong case with six games left to play, but here’s a brief overview of their numbers this season.

Wilson – 2,737 yards, 23 touchdowns, two interceptions and a QB rating of 114.9 with an 8-2 record. He’s added 256 rushing yards and three rushing scores.

Jackson – 2,258 yards, 19 touchdowns, five interceptions and a QB rating of 106.3 with an 8-2 record. He’s added 781 rushing yards and six rushing scores.

Prescott – 3,221 yards, 21 touchdowns, nine interceptions and a QB rating of 104.1 with a 6-4 record. He’s added 193 rushing yards and three rushing scores.

Wilson, unsurprisingly, said he isn’t concerned about where he stands among the three.

“No, I don’t pay attention to it. I’ve got to pay attention to who we’re playing this week,” Wilson said on Thursday. “I don’t think about the outside stuff. The reality is what helps is winning. What helps is finding a way to win in tough moments and everything else and I look forward to that opportunity just to play one game at a time, one moment at a time and just embrace it all. It’s a great thing.”

But for as robotic as Wilson can be – impressively so, I might add – the quarterback did concede it means something to him to be considered one of the league’s best players.

“I think it’s great to be in the conversation,” he said. “At the end of the day, when I come into this season, I’m trying to be the best player in the National Football League every time I step on the field, every time I get a chance to play. I think that’s just the reality.”

Wilson doesn’t discuss the chip on his shoulder as much as other athletes, but it's certainly there. He’ll forever be the 5-foot-11 QB who slipped to the third round because there was just no possible way he’d be able to thrive as a pocket passer.

He remembers his humble beginnings in Richmond, Va., and all the people who told him he wouldn’t make it. Those slights last forever, even for someone as level-headed and pragmatic as Wilson.

“It means a lot just to be able to play and have this opportunity to play the game,” he said. “I take every opportunity as much as I can and really try to cherish it and really try to take advantage of it. I’m just grateful every day. That’s really what I love doing is just playing with the guys and working the preparation part of it. That’s the fun part of this process and hopefully by the end of the year, hopefully we can win a Super Bowl.”

A road to the Super Bowl would be far easier if it went through Seattle. In order to do so, the Seahawks will need to beat the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 12 in order to keep pace with the Packers, Saints and 49ers. Wilson is 3-0 all time against Philadelphia with 762 yards, six touchdowns and no picks.

Rapid regret? DK Metcalf can make Eagles rue the day they passed on him

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Rapid regret? DK Metcalf can make Eagles rue the day they passed on him

There were eight wide receivers taken ahead of DK Metcalf in the 2019 NFL Draft. Among them was JJ Arcega-Whiteside, who was selected by the Philadelphia Eagles with the 57th overall pick. Metcalf went to the Seahawks seven picks later at No. 64.

Who knows how this story will end, but the early returns indicate that Philadelphia made a grave mistake passing on Metcalf.

Seattle’s rookie wideout has 35 receptions for 595 yards and five touchdowns through 10 games. Meanwhile, Arcega-Whiteside has just three catches for 43 yards and zero scores. And it’s not just that Arcega-Whiteside hasn’t been productive, it’s that he hasn’t been able to get on the field. He still doesn’t have a solidified role in Philadelphia’s offense.

“I think the coaching staff should want to see him more,” Eagles insider Dave Zangaro said on the latest Talkin’ Seahawks Podcast. “What they’re getting is next-to-nothing production. You can’t tell me that he can’t be a little better than that.”

Zangaro explained that Arcega-Whiteside was supposed to be Alshon Jeffrey’s backup. Well, Jeffery sat out the Eagles Week 11 contest against the Patriots with an ankle injury and the rookie still managed just 19 snaps (26%).

Instead it was journeyman wideout Jordan Matthews who assumed a lion’s share of the workload in Jeffery’s absence with 62 snaps. That’s somewhat of a red flag given that Matthews had just rejoined the Eagles that week after being cut by the 49ers earlier in the year. As an Eagles fan, you’d hope that Arcega-Whiteside would be able to earn those reps.

“In Philadelphia, it’s really hard to not look at Seattle and see Metcalf; to look in Washington and see (Terry) McLaurin – players who were drafted Arcega-Whiteside who have come in and played immediately and given their teams some really important productions,” Zangary said.

What’s more alarming is that Zangaro called Arcega-Whiteside a “plodding receiver who does well with contested catches,” which isn’t helpful for a passing game desperate for explosive plays. Arcega-Whiteside ran a 4.49 40-yard dash at Stanford’s pro day. Metcalf ran a 4.31-second 40 at the NFL Combine.

“Speed is the one element they’re desperately missing in their offense without DeSean Jackson,” Zangaro said.

Philadelphia will get a first-hand look at Metcalf on Sunday when the Seahawks come to town in Week 12. The rookie has 12 receptions for 193 yards and a touchdown over his last two games. He’ll look to stay hot against one of the eight teams who decided he wasn’t the best receiver in last year’s draft.

Headstrong: Russell Wilson understands the importance of staying in the moment

Headstrong: Russell Wilson understands the importance of staying in the moment

Over the course of the month of November, NBC Sports has been releasing videos featuring various male sports superstars discussing the importance of mental health as well as how they approach the subject.

NBC Sports has released a documentary titled “Headstrong” in conjunction with men’s health month. Among the athletes who participated in the nationwide project was Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson.

Wilson covered several topics in his sit-down with NBC Sports Northwest, including the importance of positive self-talk and staying in the moment.

The 2019 MVP candidate shared his two tactics for accomplishing the latter. The first is to actively remind himself of where he is, what he’s doing and how much work it took to get there.

“I always remind myself that ‘I’m here,’ Wilson said. “It reminds me that God brought me this far, and he’s not going to lead me astray now. All of that preparation, all the things I’ve done all week, all year, all offseason, my whole life – I’m here. Being in the moment, being right there, right now – this is it. Being grateful for that moment.”

The second is to find a spot in each stadium the Seahawks play in. That spot serves as a trigger for the thoughts Wilson outlined in the quote above.

“That reminds me to get back to ground zero,” Wilson said. “The reality is it’s this moment right here or this play right here. You’re here for a reason so go do your thing. That gives me great clarity.”

It’s important for Wilson to be familiar with every venue in the NFL, so much so that he will use Google images to scout stadiums he hasn’t been to before. That’s what he did ahead of a Week 6 road game against the Cleveland Browns at FirstEngergy Stadium.

Wilson didn’t go too deep down the rabbit hole, but he did share one of his “spots.” During the Super Bowl against the Denver Broncos, he picked out the word “Life” in the MetLife Stadium signage.

“It reminds me to have a grateful heart,” Wilson said. “I’m grateful to God every day that he’s given me an opportunity to do what I get to do.”

Wilson’s Seahawks are currently 8-2 and going into a Week 12 road game against the Philadelphia Eagles. They’re just one game back of the NFC West-leading 49ers and still have a shot at the No. 1 seed in the NFC.

The quarterback is one of three legit NFL MVP candidates (Lamar Jackson and Dak Prescott being the other two) and leads the league with 23 touchdown passes and a 114.9 passer rating. He’s got obvious God-given talent, but he’d assuredly attribute much of his continued success (especially in moments when the pressure is highest) on his daily focus on his own mental health.

Jadeveon Clowney mum on his future, has Super Bowl aspirations with Seahawks

Jadeveon Clowney mum on his future, has Super Bowl aspirations with Seahawks

Jadeveon Clowney has been down this road before – one where at season’s end, there’s no telling where it leads next. He was in that position in 2018, playing out his fifth-year option with the Houston Texans.

He faces similar uncertainty this year as he’s expected to become an unrestricted free agent in March. But while the contemplations of “what’s next” consumed him in Houston, he’s not letting such thoughts cloud his mind this time around.

“I haven’t even thought about it,” Clowney said on Wednesday.

That’s because his Seattle Seahawks are 8-2, and he’s hellbent on enjoying the ride. With six games left in 2019, Seattle has it all in front of them, including the potential No. 1 seed in the NFC. Clowney is all-in, believing the Seahawks are capable of making a Super Bowl run.

“We can do something special here, and I’m not looking past it,” he said.

Part of the growing optimism in Seattle has to do with the five-sack outburst from the Seahawks pass rush in Week 10 against the 49ers. The pass rush, or lack thereof, had been Seattle’s most glaring deficiency through nine games.

Clowney had five quarterback hits, a sack, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery and a touchdown in a game he dominated from start to finish. He said he’s been that dominant “a few times” in his career, but it was a performance that the Seahawks needed in the worst way.

He ignited the rest of the team’s slumbering defensive line. Jarran Reed had 1.5 sacks. Al Woods, Poona Ford and Quinton Jefferson also played well. Clowney called the pass rush “a work in progress,” but he believes that things are beginning to click.

“We’re just trying to figure each other out – spending time with each other, and it’s starting to help and it’s starting to pay off in the games,” he said.

“Energy” was Clowney’s operative word against the 49ers. Maintaining that energy will be crucial over Seattle’s final six games.

“Run around and have a good time and good things happen,” he explained. “That’s what we did last game – we tried to have a good time. You could see us excited about it, running around, enjoying playing with each other, and everything was good coming our way.”

Clowney has been Seattle’s best defensive lineman by far, even if the sack numbers don’t show it (he’s got just three this season). But turn on the tape of any Seahawks game and you’ll notice that Clowney is the only player who has consistently generated pressure.

He’s not worried about his own numbers, but he knows the group as a whole needs to replicate its production vs. the 49ers.

“I don’t care who gets (the sack) or when it happens, just get (the quarterback),” Clowney said. “We hadn’t had them in so long, and we needed some.”

He explained his two-plus months in Seattle have been nothing but positive since the Seahawks acquired him just days before the regular season on Aug. 31. Clowney credited defensive line coach Clint Hurtt with teaching him to use his hands more as well as the importance of pass rush angles.

He’s mentioned multiple times in the past that Seattle’s weather is an adjustment, but it doesn’t seem like life in the Pacific Northwest has truly set in for him.

“It’s been wild – this whole experience; this whole year has just been mind-blowing for me,” Clowney said.

Seattle isn’t able to re-sign the star edge rusher until after the season, but contract talks haven’t even begun according to Clowney. All we know is that the Seahawks agreed not to use the franchise tag on him.

It’s hard to imagine Clowney passing up an opportunity to hit the open market, but that’s a different conversation for a different day as far as he’s concerned. Clowney has played in three-career playoff games – none bigger than the AFC divisional round. He’s hoping that changes this season with Seattle.

How Shaquem Griffin can be a mismatch despite not being prototype edge rusher

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How Shaquem Griffin can be a mismatch despite not being prototype edge rusher

Given the madness of the Seattle Seahawks overtime win against the San Francisco 49ers, it was pretty easy to gloss over a notable lineup change.

Shaquem Griffin was given his first defensive reps of the season – 13 to be exact. That’s the same number of snaps Ziggy Ansah played in what was a 50/50 timeshare. However, that could turn into a complete changing of the guard moving forward.

“He’s active,” Pete Carroll said of Griffin following the primetime win. “We’re going to find ways to utilize him. It’s really clear, more than it has been, that we might be able to build a role that could be a factor 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.”

Ansah has been a non-factor this season. He’s posted just one sack in seven games – a garbage takedown of Kyler Murray on the last play of the game in Seattle’s Week 4 win over the Cardinals. He’s been borderline invisible beyond that play.

Conversely, Griffin has clearly made enough progress to take advantage of Ansah’s series of underwhelming performances. He explained that his hard work in practice had paid off and that he was put into the defensive gameplan prior to the matchup against the 49ers.

“It just felt good (to be back out there),” Griffin said. “I know what I’m doing out there. Me having that feeling, it kind of just slowed the entire game down.”

Griffin was active albeit unproductive in his limited action. However, his motor and work rate alone are an upgrade over what Ansah had provided. He shared that some of his mistakes came from second-guessing his rushes. Coaches told Griffin that he needs to commit and be decisive.

“It’s all preparation and making sure that I’m ready," Griffin said. "The coaches aren’t going to put you in a situation where they feel like you can’t have success at.”

As Carroll mentioned, Griffin (6-foot, 227 pounds) is gravely undersized by edge rusher standards. By comparison, Carroll recently told reporters a few weeks ago that he wanted to see Ansah at 270 pounds.

Griffin, who knows he’s not a prototype edge player, would rather focus on his strengths – his speed (Griffin ran a 4.38 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine) chief among them.

“I can go fast – the offensive lineman can’t. I can bend – the offensive lineman can’t,” he said. “You’ve got to be able to utilize the things they can’t do well and be able to work it the whole week. If they don’t like bending, make them bend. If they don’t like running, let’s make them tired.”

His goal will be to make offensive linemen rush their mechanics and force them to get to their spot quicker than normal.

“Once you make them feel uncomfortable out there, that’s when things open up,” Griffin said.

Seattle’s pass rush came alive against the 49ers with five sacks. Jadeveon Clowney dominated the entire game, but he could still use more help on the opposite edge. That’s what Griffin, who is still looking for his first-career sack, hopes to provide against the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 12.

It appears to be Ugo Amadi time for the Seahawks

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It appears to be Ugo Amadi time for the Seahawks

On Monday, Pete Carroll explained that starting nickel cornerback Jamar Taylor was in a "competitive situation."

Less than 48 hours later, Taylor has been waived by the Seattle Seahawks in order to make room for Ed Dickson. The veteran tight end was activated from Injured Reserve on Wednesday morning.

Dickson's return is notable given Luke Willson's hamstring injury, but the bigger story here is that Seattle will have a new starting nickel cornerback moving forward.

Ugo Amadi is the obvious name that comes to mind. The rookie fourth-round pick started Week 1 at nickel but had been replaced by Taylor since. It now appears that he's made enough progress to win the job back.

“He’s doing really well,” Carroll said of Amadi on Monday. “He’s been a playmaker on special teams throughout. His opportunities will continue to come about because he’s been so consistent in everything he’s doing. He hasn’t done anything that isn’t good.

“I’m anxious for him to contribute more. He’s been with us long enough that it’s time for him to get some more opportunities.”

Amadi has been practicing primarily at nickel while getting a few reps at safety as well, according to Carroll. Given that Taylor struggled in recent weeks, most notably against the 49ers in Week 10, it makes sense for this move to be made now.

Seattle goes on the road in Week 12 to play the Philadelphia Eagles, a team that lacks standout receivers with DeSean Jackson on IR and Alshon Jeffery nursing an ankle injury. On paper, it's a nice matchup for Amadi to get his feet wet and knock the rust off as he gets back into the swing of things. Depending on the matchup, Akeem King may also see some time at nickel against bigger slot receivers a la Larry Fitzgerald.