It may be obvious, but there's reason to point out that containing Ravens QB Lamar Jackson may be an especially big challenge for this Seattle Seahawks team. They haven't done particularly well at containing any quarterback's running so far this year. The answer to me seems simple.
Lamar Jackson is a major problem for any team he faces, of course. The Seahawks have only squared off with him once, and that was four years ago. He proved to be a bit more challenging than the previous QB, Jimmy Clausen, as the Ravens came out on top 30-16. Jackson was only 9-20 with 143 yards and no TDs in that game. The problem is he ran 14 times for 116 yards and a score to carry his team to the win.
I'm sure you'll agree the current Seahawks defense is just a bit better than that 2019 unit. The Hawks still have the ageless Bobby Wagner and the resurgent Jarran Reed. But with a few exceptions, Seattle fields a better defense across the board in 2023. Yes, we'd love to have K.J. Wright back, but Jordyn Brooks isn't exactly a downgrade, especially not this season.
Who would you rather have, Marquise Blair and Tedric Thompson, or Jamal Adams and Quandre Diggs? Tre Flowers or Tre Brown? Shaquill Griffin or Riq Woolen? Yes, Jadeveon Clowney was a monster that year, but I'll take Boye Mafe and the rest of the edge players over what was basically a one-man wrecking crew. Mafe's getting pretty close on his own. Not knocking the 2019 players, but this defense is clearly playing better across the board.
The Seattle Seahawks must deploy the Spoon to contain the Ravens QB
Let's get back to my assertion that this defense struggles in one area: shutting down quarterback's runs. That's pretty obvious when you look at the Hawks' stats this year. Seattle has been exceptional at shutting down the run this year. Even though they surrendered 155 yards, they still only allowed 3.9 yards per carry. Overall, the Seahawks rank third in the league in rushing average allowed. That's only going to improve with the addition of Leonard Williams. But Seattle still has one problem in this department: stopping the quarterback running game. Take a look at the stats.
Let's see how the running quarterbacks listed above fared in other games. That focuses on Daniel Jones, Joshua Dobbs, and P.J. Walker. Not that they're all "running" QBs, but they fit the category far better than the rest. Jones averaged just 26 yards on 5.6 carries; Dobbs averaged 27 yards on 5 carries, and Walker had just 4 yards on 3 carries in his other contests. I'd say it's safe to say all three ran more often with more success versus the Seahawks.
It's also safe to say none of them are Lamar Jackson. Jackson has 380 yards rushing on 74 carries with 27 first downs and five touchdowns. That's an average game of 48 yards on 9 carries with 3 first downs. And that's a challenge for Seattle.
Happily, the Hawks have a solution for this problem. Well, they have two, really, but I think Devon Witherspoon should be the main weapon Seattle employs to control Jackson. I mean, he's only the NFC Defensive Rookie of the Month and has been exceptional both in pass rush and stopping the run. Of course, I'm not suggesting that Spoon plays 100 percent of his snaps as the Seahawks spy on Jackson. But disguising coverages and mixing Jamal Adams and even Julian Love into the role should go a long way toward containing Jackson's breakaway threat.
I'm well aware that if it was that easy, I'd be coaching the Seahawks' defense, not just writing about it. But Clint Hurtt has come up with some pretty good solutions this season, and I expect he will in this game as well. Most of all, I like the odds of 2023's number 21 and number 33 keeping Jackson in check a lot more than the 2019 edition's.