Coming off a much-needed win over divisional opponent, Los Angeles Rams, the Seattle Seahawks are still searching for answers to their problems. Yes, Geno Smith checked off yet another box leading a comeback victory with the scoring drive in under 2 minutes. But, they almost lost a game to an opponent far inferior to them because of their flaws.
In the NFL, nearly every team is flawed. What makes teams capable of winning championships is their ability to win in spite of said flaws. Our beloved Seattle Seahawks adjusted early on in the season after struggling in the trenches on the defensive side. During their 4 game-winning streak, they played complementary football and it felt as if they truly addressed the defensive woes.
However, in these past two weeks, the run defense has reverted to the way it was playing in the first quarter of the season. The Raiders were able to complete a comeback on the road in Seattle because of their dominant run game. Los Angeles almost pulled off the upset last week because Cam Akers was resurrected on the team he doesn’t even want to play for. That’s how big the holes are for these running backs.
Against Carolina in Week 14, the Seahawks must adjust before the game even starts. Pete Carroll has been great at halftime adjustments, but they cannot allow teams to get early points because of their run game. One player, in particular, can leave his imprint on this game.
Seattle Seahawks: X-Factor that can lead them to victory in Week 14
As Seahawks fans, we should know how much value the run game can have on the impact of a game. When you can establish the run, you control the clock, give your defense rest, and most importantly, allow your offense to truly open up.
The common theme over this three-week stretch has been to not overlook your opponent. Yes, the Carolina Panthers are currently in the middle of a rebuild. They fired their coach earlier in the season and are on their third starting quarterback in Sam Darnold. Nonetheless, one of their bright spots is their offensive line. They open up the lanes for the running backs and when Donta Foreman gets going, the Panthers are capable of winning games.
The Carolina Panthers are a middle of the pact rushing offense. A key to victory for Seattle is making Sam Darnold beat them with his arm. Last week against the Rams, when John Wolford was forced to pass, the Seahawks were able to force punts or turnovers. This week, Al Woods, our interior leader, must set the tone early. Negative plays or minimal gains is the goal. If Carolina can stay ahead of schedule, they will prolong their offensive drives, putting more pressure on Seattle’s offense.
We must also keep in mind that the Panthers can get after the ball on defense. Brian Burns is an elite edge rusher and will be going up against a rookie tackle. But, back to the defense. The objective is to limit explosive plays. Shelby Harris and Bryan Mone have been doing a good job of being disruptors. I expect Carolina to work in the jet sweeps or even some screens to their explosive wideouts. On the jet sweeps, our edge guys – Uchenna Nwosu, Darrell Taylor, Boye Mafe, and Burce Irvin – must set the edge and not allow these guys to work their way to the second level.
Ever since Steve Wilks has taken over as interim head coach, the Panthers have committed to running the football. Just look at their last game against a really solid Broncos defense. They passed the ball 19 times and rushed it 46. They are a physical downhill running team that can find success against Seattle. As we get closer to the playoffs, we need to see improvement from this rushing defense. It all starts with Al Woods up front.