A Fresh Start: 2017 Outlook and Week 1 Prediction
Updated: Oct 29, 2018
That is StackeD with a capital 'D' for Defense.
The Seahawks solidified their 53-man roster with some surprising moves and big acquisitions. None larger than the trade of Jermaine Kearse for Sheldon Richardson.
With the addition of Richardson, the Seahawks now have 8 former Pro Bowlers part of their starting 11 defensive players. That's insane! That is a mini Pro Bowl defense.
During the 2013 Super Bowl campaign, the Seahawks had 8 members of their defensive line that totaled a minimum snap count of 45%.
Ever since 2013, only 4 players on the defensive line played in excess of 45%. That means during the 2013 season, the Seahawks had a heavy rotation upfront keeping their guys fresh and attacking. This year, it seems the Seahawks are looking to do implement a heavy rotation with: Bennett, Avril, Richardson, Clark, Reed, Jones, Bass and Smith
Good luck trying to game plan against this front.
The other big shocker of the roster moves was the waiving of preseason stud Kasen Williams. The former practice squad member seemed to be coming into his own, making some of best plays of the preseason. Most fans and even Kasen's former teammates were shocked and disappointed .
So what exactly was the deciding factor between Kasen Williams and Tanner McEvoy? In my opinion, it was versatility. Kasen and Tanner could both play special teams. However, Tanner McEvoy can also play TE/H-Back in a pinch and JD McKissic can play slot, Z, and tailback. Case and point, if you look at this roster, you see many players that are versatile. Bennett, Richardson, and Jones can play 3 and 5 technique. Most members on the offensive line can play Guard or Tackle. Most of the defensive backs can play safety or cornerback in a pinch. Pete Carroll loves versatility.
It may not be pleasing to most fans that a preseason fan-favorite like Kasen got waived, but for Kasen's sake, he may be in a better position to be a contributor to the Browns offense than just being a special teamer here in Seattle. I wish Kasen all the best for a successful career.
The Seahawks offensive line are a constant target of criticism in the NFL and even the Seahawks fan base. But have things gotten better? In the first game against the Chargers, things did not look very promising. Germain Ifedi's debut at Right Tackle against the Chargers was less that spectacular. In his first game at Right Tackle, Ifedi further reinforced the negative habits and mistakes of last season - mistiming his punches while being out of position in pass protection, and just seeming lost on his blocking assignments at times.
The basics of zone blocking includes two factors:
-Identify the play-side
- Determine whether you are covered or uncovered.
These factors will determine the blocking assignment and running lane on the given play. On the play showcased below, both Ifedi and Aboushi fail at their assignment. At the start of the play, Aboushi is uncovered meaning he has no man on him, therefore, Aboushi's first step should be play-side toward the B gap between himself and Ifedi. Ifedi is covered (man on) which means, the man over (Ingram) is his assignment. If correctly executed, Aboushi and Ifedi would have a combo block on Ingram with Ifedi progressing to the second level once Aboushi secures the block. Even with Ingram penetrating the line, Ifedi should be aware that Ingram would then become Reece's man and that he should be moving to the next level putting a block on #57 Jatavis Brown. However, he does the exact opposite, chasing Ingram and leaving #57 Brown unblocked and open to put the initial hit on Rawls.
On the very next play (below), we see how Ifedi gets out of position in his pass protection and allows the pass rush to get inside. One would figure that given Ifedi's arm length (36") that he would simply anchor his inside leg and force guys to get around his arm radius. In the following quarter, we see Ifedi get out of position yet again, not mention doing some sort of weird head feint action at the beginning of his pass set.
Shown below, we see Ifedi totally whiff on a backside cut block.
For those that don't know, a backside cut block is a coached technique under Alex Gibbs and Tom Cable's zone blocking system. It's a coached technique and strategy. Did Ifedi's execution have any direct impact in the play? No. However, it just shows the laziness and poor decisions he has at times.
In this case, I would rather have seen Ifedi move up into the linebackers rather than attempt to double team the defensive tackle. Glowinski had already secured the block, so Ifedi could have easily progressed to the next level.
Tom Cable must have chewed Ifedi's ass during the Chargers film session after the game because Ifedi looked like a changed man in the next few weeks. Against the Vikings and Chiefs, Ifedi's pass protection improved and he looked strong and athletic in his run blocking as shown below - showing proper run leverage and flipping his hips to seal the blocks inside.
It was frustrating to watch Ifedi against the Chargers but I felt better about Ifedi as the pre-season went on. As long as he stays on this path and does not regress to his bad habits, Ifedi will be a valuable piece to this offensive line.
The position I am most concerned about is the Left Tackle position. Odhimabo was thrust into the lineup against the Vikings after George Fant suffered his season-ending knee injury. Below we see how Odhiambo does not play with proper leverage and allows his man to gain the inside rush.
It wasn't all bad for Odhiambo, however, expect him to get exposed against more savvy and quick pass-rushers. The fact that the Seahawks picked up Matt Tobin and Isaiah Battle, both who played at Left Tackle during the pre-season may be an indicator that Odhiambo may not be set as the starter and that the musical chairs at Left Tackle - that was seen last season -may continue this season if Odhiambo can't improve.
The bright spot for the Seahawks was the run offense which averaged 128 yds/game during the pre-season. This is where the offense can succeed and will alleviate some of the weaknesses in passing game. I expect the Seahawks to use a lot of 'chipping' by the Running Backs and/or Tight Ends to give the Tackles some help.
Is the offensive line still a weak point? Yes. But it's in a better place that this time last year and this squad actually has potential to improve greatly as the season progresses.
There have been a wide ranging list of predictions going into the 2017 Regular Season. Some posts have the Seahawks winning it all in Super Bowl 52, while others not being so optimistic. According to an article posted on Sports Betting Dime, the Seahawks are rated to go Under 10.5 games. Cool story bro, but, no. The article specified a 'daunting schedule,' against teams like Green Bay, Dallas, Tennessee and Jacksonville, and a poor offensive line as the reasons for the Seahawks not going over 11 games. Needless to say, I wholeheartedly disagree with Sports Betting Dime. According to VegasInsider.com, the Seahawks current Super Bowl odds are 8 to 1, only behind the New England Patriots at 13 to 4. In addition, the Seahawks have one of the easiest schedules in the NFL. Add in the increased depth on defense and offense, the addition of Sheldon Richardson, and a healthy Russell Wilson and Jimmy Graham, the Seahawks are geared up to make a run far better than 10.5 games as reported on Sports Betting Dime.
As far as my prediction for Week 1 - my biased side says the Seahawks take this game, 17-13. However, my objective analyst side says 16-13 Packers. Hawks fans, hear me out.The Seahawks have not won at Lambeau since November 1, 1999. It's just a REALLY hard placed to win at.
With Martellus Bennett in the mix along with Cobb, Nelson and Adams, their offense will get just enough done to squeak past our stingy defense. I anticipate the Packers having Bennett in the slot to clear Kam Chancellor away from the box to open up the running game for Montgomery. Rodgers will test our young rookie cornerback, Griffin. As far as the Packers defense, I expect delayed nickel blitzes when Seahawks are in shotgun with 11 personnel and stunts to confuse our young Tackles. Either way, I see an offensive struggle on both sides
Week 1 prediction (and I hope I'm seriously wrong) Seahawks fall 16-13 against the Packers.