The Seahawks will need more than Russell Wilson to beat Atlanta in the 2020 opener. Keep your eye on these five players Sunday to key the Seattle win.
Yes, we all know as Russell Wilson goes, so goes Seattle. The Seahawks have never had a losing season with him under center, and only missed the playoffs once. You know how you miss the playoffs? You lose an All-Pro safety, an All-Pro corner, and your starting running back, that’s how. That cursed season of 2017 pointed out that it takes 53 men to win in the NFL, no matter how great your quarterback is. I see these five players as keys to getting Seattle off to a great start for 2020.
Jamal Adams. Let’s not be coy here. The Seahawks gave up a lot to land their new strong safety. Was it too much? In a word, no. Adams made the Pro Bowl twice on a team that won just 11 games over the past two seasons. When’s the last time you heard of a strong safety getting half a dozen sacks? In his three years in the league, Adams has broken up 25 passes and still managed to record 12 sacks. Listen, I really wish we’d been able to get Jadeveon Clowney back; his game was much more than just sacks. But he had half the sacks Adams did last season. No, I don’t expect our new strong safety to make a living in the other team’s backfield every week – but he can. Adams is a force.
Marquis Blair. That’s right, I’m staying on defense; after all, that’s always been the calling card of Pete Carroll’s Seahawks. Blair is going to help re-establish that performance. Our own head coach here at 12thManRising, Lee Vowell, laid out the case for Blair’s rise at nickel just a couple of weeks ago. Both K.J. Wright and Shaquill Griffin made it clear that Seattle’s defense is better with the second-year player on the field. The Hawks certainly need stability covering the slot; Blair will do that, and provide more than an occasional spectacular play as well.
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Carlos Hyde. Listen, it isn’t always about the defense. No, I’m not suggesting for a moment that Hyde will displace Chris Carson as the lead back. He’ll turn 30 when the Patriots come to town next week, after all. That being said, Hyde has plenty of tread left, as he ripped off over 1,000 yards for the Texans last year. Here’s the key stat: he caught 59 passes for the Whiners in 2017. Carson has plenty of help in the backfield this year, that’s for sure. I expect Hyde will let the Falcon’s D know he’s still in the game.
Ethan Pocic. Okay, okay, I hear you. Who watches the center? In 2020, 12s will be watching the Seahawks center, that’s who. We’ve written earlier that the Hawks were in for a big change at the position. I’ll admit I also wrote that I didn’t think Pocic would get the starting nod, and yet, here we are. A gentle reminder: the fourth-year player has zero starts at center with the big boys, despite snapping the ball for LSU. Seattle has two new starters on the right side of the line this year, so it is absolutely critical that Pocic not only holds his own, but makes all the right calls for adjustments on the line. If you care about the health of Number 3, you care about Pocic’s performance.
L.J. Collier. It would be difficult to have a less auspicious rookie season than 2019’s first-round draft pick. While he did get into 11 games, a stat line of three combined tackles isn’t what the Seahawks pictured when they signed the Michael Bennett clone. Here’s the thing; I fully expect Collier to fulfill that promise this year; well, minus the penalties. Collier never got a chance to get started as a rookie as he battled injuries all through camp. As I wrote earlier, Collier can definitely turn in the kind of performance we saw from Bennett at his best. His career really starts Sunday.
With the exception of Adams, there are no big names here. But after Sunday’s big win over Atlanta – and it will be a big win – fans all around the league will be watching to see what these Seahawks do next.