Can the Seahawks defense continue to improve with another critical test in week 7? Seattle’s defense will certainly have their work cut out against the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday. As they look to build off a solid week 6 performance where they held the Cardinals to nine points in a crucial 19-9 victory.
The Seahawks have been an early season surprise led by QB Geno Smith who ranks fourth in the NFL in QBR with 1,502 yards passing, 9 TD and 2 INT. Geno has played well enough to be on a 4-2 team. Heck, I bet the Broncos wish they had him this season instead of the current quarterback.
Seahawks must protect Geno Smith
The Chargers have one of the toughest pass-rushing defenses in the NFL tied for 10th in the NFL with 15 sacks. They sacked Russell Wilson four times in week 6, two by Drue Tranquill, one by Khalil Mack, and one by Derwin James Jr. Which means it will be critical for Geno Smith to know when to change the play calls at the line of scrimmage and call out blitzes.
The Seahawks also need to mix up the protections and run the ball well with Kenneth Walker III to take the pressure off Geno. Seattle did catch a break this week with Chargers star edge rusher Joey Bosa on IR with a groin injury, but they will still have to find a way to stop Khalil Mack.
Three keys to victory for the Seahawks in Week 7
Seahawks need to play with balanced offensive approach
The Seahawks will need to not only run the ball with Walker, but they will also need to take shots down the field to put points on the board. Where they decide to throw the ball deep to DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett will be important to keep pace with the Chargers offense. However, they also cannot abandon the run game because the Seahawks will be up against a tough pass rush.
To counter the Chargers pass rush on deep pass plays, Seattle can run play-action passes to keep the defense on their toes, while continuing to run the football. They should also call some quick screens and short passes, so Geno does not need to hang on to the ball too long in the pocket.
Seahawks must prevent explosive plays and stop screens on defense
LA loves to run screen passes with their running back Austin Ekler when defenses play two-deep coverage. This helps set the table for their downfield passing game because it forces the defense to creep up closer to the line of scrimmage to defend the short screens. Jordyn Brooks, Cody Barton, and Darrell Taylor will need to call out screens and blow them up, so the Seahawks young secondary can cover the rest of the field.
The Chargers threw the ball for a total of 57 attempts for 224 yards on Monday night against the Broncos. While they ran the ball just 24 times for 74 yards. The Chargers offense operates similarly to the Cardinals in that they rely on explosive plays and aggressive play-calling to score. The Seahawks defense will need to prevent the big play and stiffen in the red zone to be successful.
The Seahawks come into this game as the underdogs, as they have been in most of their games this season. However, if they follow a similar blueprint on defense they used in last week’s victory and play smart offensively they can win.