Seattle Seahawks Progress Report: Where Do Things Stand Heading into Week 8?
A short week on the road is never easy. The away team on Thursday Night Football has been at a disadvantage all season long. Week 7 was an all too familiar indicator for every team who has endured those same circumstances.
The Seahawks dropped to 4-3 after a 13-6 defeat to the 49ers. All three of their losses have come on the road as they are 1-3 away from the Link and 3-0 at home. Will Darrell Bevell's poor passing attack rear its ugly head for the second week in a row, or will Seattle's wideouts decide to catch ball?
At this point it's hard to tell what offense will show up on a weekly basis. One week the receivers will catch everything in sight and garner separation with ease. Other weeks, the drop happy mangled passing game decides to take precedent for an entire 60 minutes.
Let's take a look at what kind of progress Pete Carroll's club has made from Week 7 to Week 8.
While there wasn't a whole lot that went right for Seattle in Week 7, running back Marshawn Lynch and the offensive line found daylight against a stiff 49ers run defense. Against New England the 'Hawks rushing attack was never able to get cranked up. They only amassed 85 yards on 26 carries. The teams lowest output of the season.
Even though San Francisco entered the game with a Top 10 run defense that was allowing under a 100 yards a game, Lynch broke through in a big way. By games end, he had piled up 103 yards on only 19 carries. Not to mention rookie running back Robert Turbin rushed for 17 tough yards of his own on four carries.
It was good to see Turbin on the field for at least a dozen snaps. Many had wondered when he would start becoming an integral part of Seattle's game plan. And I finally think we are starting to see that take shape. Every week his snaps are starting to climb. Coach Carroll is starting to find a comfort level with him based on his knowledge of the offense.
After having his worst outing of the season against the Patriots, center Max Unger bounced back against the 49ers. The backfield can single-handedly thank him for opening up a majority of the holes right up the gut. When running off of Unger's backside Seattle averaged 6.55 yards per carry and 60 of its 136 yards rushing were right up the middle.
However, he wasn't the only offensive linemen who had a good game in terms of run blocking. Breno Giacomini also had his best run blocking performance of the season. Just ask No. 24—he averaged an incredible seven yards per carry when rushing outside of Giacomini.
Wilson also had good luck scrambling to the right side of the field. Even though he only scrambled twice, he picked up 11 yards on those two attempts.
Look for the Seahawk's run game to be at the top of their game once again in Week 8. The Lions are allowing 108.8 yards per game on the ground this season.
Despite the strong rushing attack, the defense couldn't do what they normally do best—stop the run. Coming into last week's game, the Seahawks were only allowing 70.8 yards per game on the ground. And now heading into Week 8 they've dropped to 85.0 yards per game. Almost a full 15 yards per game difference.
That's what happens when Frank Gore and company drops 175 yards on your defense. The first backfield to eclipse the century mark against Gus Bradley's stingy defense this season. It was only a matter of time before someone hit the mark, but I never expected this team to allow almost 200 yards on the ground.
The blame doesn't belong to any one defender in particular. Yet, there were a couple of culprits—most notably, Brandon Mebane and Alan Branch. Like San Fran, Seattle was gashed up the middle. The 49ers used inside zone runs and traps like they were going out of style. It was almost like the Seahawks had never seen an inside trap play in their life.
They should have known those types of plays were coming—those plays are staples to the 49ers run game.
Regardless of the move in rank, there's no question this is one of the most talented defensive lines in all of football. Especially against the run. Chris Clemons needs to step up his efforts against the run, his play has done a complete 180. He's still a phenomenal pass rusher, but I feel his play is getting too one-dimensional.
With Detroit being in the bottom half of the league in terms of rush offense, this weeks game will help Bradley's defense get back on track. The Lions also showed they have ball security problems against the Bears, so you know one of the most opportunistic defenses will be looking to take the ball away.
Seattle has already forced 11 fumbles this season.
Rising: Marshawn Lynch
As I mentioned above Lynch had an average game against New England, but he rebounded nicely. Not only did he surpass the century mark, he ran through arm tackles all night long. 61 of his 103 yards came after contact. His 5.4 yards per carry average was his second highest per game average of the season.
Falling: Seahawks Receiving Corp
It was a rough night for anyone who tried to catch a pass from the rookie quarterback. Wilson targeted nine different wideouts and four of those nine rewarded him with a drop. Sidney Rice has every right to be frustrated with the Seahawks offense. But maybe he should give his fellow receivers pointers on how to catch the ball.
Rising: Brandon Browner
Brandon Browner's stock just keeps on rising. After starting the season strong against the run, he finally had his best game in coverage. He only allowed one reception for four yards and he intercepted an Alex Smith pass in the end zone. That interception kept the game within arms reach. Unfortunately, the offense wasn't able to capitalize on the turnover.
Falling: Chris Clemons
Remember, these rising and falling blurbs are week-to-week, but Clemons needs to get better against the run. Pro Football Focus has given him a negative grade every week for his play against the run. I previously noted this his pass rushing ability has been off the charts, but he has to realize that he can just be rushing upfield on every play.
The Outlook Heading Into Week 8
At 2-4 the Lions are reeling right now, so Seattle needs to capitalize and take advantage of that. However, it won't be easy. The 'Hawks haven't shown the ability to consistently win on the road, and if they want to be serious contenders for the NFC West crown they need to start winning away from home right now.
The division crown is well within its reach. They are currently tied for second place in the division with the Arizona Cardinals. It appears as if Arizona has cooled off—it will be a two team race to the top of the West from here on out. Really they can only afford to lose two, maybe three more games if they want to keep pace. San Francisco will keep pushing forward defensively.
Seattle leads the all-time series seven games to four.
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