Seattle Seahawks Progress Report: Where Do Things Stand Heading into Week 10?
A return trip home to the Pacific Northwest was all it took for head coach Pete Carroll and the Seattle Seahawks. Their two-game losing streak is now a thing of the past, as they have gotten back in the win column for the first time since Week 6.
A strong, balanced offensive attack led by Russell Wilson proved to be the difference-maker.
Let's be honest, the Seahawks' run defense didn't do anyone any favors considering it gave up 243 yards on the ground. The last time Seattle allowed 200 yards on the ground was Week 16 of the 2010 season.
The Seahawks are now 2-24 all time when they allow an opponent to rush for 200-plus yards. The odds weren't really in their favor on Sunday, yet they totally erased the Vikings' passing attack by only allowing 44 yards through the air. When an offense becomes one-dimensional, it's hard to move the ball with any type of consistency.
With another upcoming home game this weekend, let's take a look at just where this team stands heading into Week 10.
With Gus Bradley's defense taking a step back in recent weeks, there has only been one consistent unit—the Seahawks' run game. For the third week in a row, Marshawn Lynch eclipsed the century mark and he now leads the NFL with five 100-yard games.
According to Pro Football Focus, he is currently third in yards after contact. Only Adrian Peterson and Doug Martin have more and average more yards than him after contact. 513 of his 886 yards rushing have come after contact, which means he averages 2.8 yards per attempt after contact. Not to mention he has also forced 32 missed tackles—the third-highest number in the league.
However, all of Lynch's success couldn't be had without the help of Tom Cable's dominant offensive line.
Against the Vikings, center Max Unger and left guard John Moffitt really impressed with the way they moved Minnesota's defensive line with ease. They continued a trend that opposing offenses had started a couple weeks prior.
When "beast mode" ran between the left-side A gap, he averaged 8.8 yards per carry on four carries. He also had his longest run of the day running between Unger and Moffitt. Of his 60 yards after contact, he picked up 17 of them through that hole alone.
Things weren't as good yardage-wise when he ran right off of Moffitt's backside, yet he did score his only touchdown of the day with the second-year guard ushering him into the end zone. Week 9 was Moffitt's first start at left guard since his senior season at Wisconsin.
With the New York Jets coming to CenturyLink Field in Week 10, expect another heavy dose of No. 24. Right now, the Jets sport the 29th-worst run defense in the NFL. They are allowing 141.4 yards per game on the ground.
As you all know, the breakdown forthcoming is quite obvious—the Seahawks' run defense has been downright pitiful the last three weeks.
Through the first six games of the season, Bradley's defense allowed 420 yards rushing. Compare that to Weeks 7, 8 and 9 and it's easy to see there is a problem. 502 yards over the course of three games is absolutely unacceptable.
I realize Frank Gore and Adrian Peterson are top-tier backs, but come on. So, what is exactly wrong Seattle's run defense? Well, not much according to Coach Carroll. At yesterday's day-after presser, he only mentioned gap discipline as the potential culprit (per Curtis Crabtree of KJR).
Even though he doesn't go into specifics, I place the blame on the linebackers. After re-watching the game, PFF confirmed that I wasn't blind. The site had four Seahawk linebackers down for negative grades. Leroy Hill and Michael Morgan proved to be the worst of the bunch. Hill had a negative-1.7 run grade and Morgan was equally as bad with a negative-1.3 grade.
I'm sure Seattle is hoping the concussed K.J. Wright can heal up and get back in the lineup. Outside of Bobby Wagner, Wright is their best run-stuffing linebacker.
Having Morgan in the game another week could prove to be awfully costly. He knows Carroll's system from USC, but his talent doesn't match that of Wright.
Even though the Jets defense hasn't shown the ability to stop the run, offensive coordinator Tony Sparano has been able to install the ground-and-pound attack once again in New York. The Jets are averaging 109.8 yards per game on the ground.
If the Seahawks don't fix their gap discipline problems, Shonn Greene could be headed towards his second 100-yard game of the season.
Rising: Russell Wilson
As the season rolls on, Wilson keeps getting better and better. On PFF's list of quarterback performances through nine weeks of the season, he currently ranks 10th. He is ahead of guys like Tony Romo, Phillip Rivers, Matthew Stafford and Andrew Luck.
Who says the best quarterback in this year's draft class has to be a first-round pick?
Falling: Doug Baldwin
Doug Baldwin returned to the lineup after missing the Detroit game, but he had little to no impact against Minnesota. He had one key third-down catch, yet outside of that, he only was targeted two other times. The two other balls thrown his way resulted in an incomplete pass and a drop.
Wilson needs more out of Baldwin, especially on third down.
Rising: Bruce Irvin
Even though the rookie defensive end only logged 13 pass-rushing snaps, Bruce Irvin managed to make the most of his opportunities by recording one quarterback sack and one quarterback hit.
On the season, Irvin now has seven quarterback sacks, five quarterback hits and 13 hurries. He's inching closer and closer to double-digit sack numbers.
Falling: Earl Thomas
Earl Thomas held up just fine in pass coverage, but I think that can be said about every member of the Seahawks secondary.
Unfortunately, when taking AP head on, he didn't fare so well. By game's end, Thomas led the team in missed tackles with three. And I have to ask, why was he chirping with Peterson after he got run over on that 10-yard run?
The Outlook Heading Into Week 10
Currently, Seattle is 4-0 at home and primed to make that 5-0 come Sunday. The 'Hawks are the clear favorite against New York as long as they keep their foot on the gas offensively.
As I mentioned above, the run game is thriving and Wilson just keeps getting better and better.
From a head-to-head perspective, the Seahawks lead the all-time series 9-8. Coach Carroll is 2-4 against the Jets in his career. He and Rex Ryan have never squared off against one another, but the last time New York played at CenturyLink Field, it lost 13-3.
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