On Sunday, the Cleveland Browns’ square off against the Seattle Seahawks. To help preview a few topics from the Seahawks’ perspective, we reached out to Kenneth Arthur from Field Gulls and exchanged five questions with him. Enjoy!
Chris: “The Seahawks have allowed some pretty big passing days this season. What is the biggest area of weakness regarding coverage for Seattle -- the linebackers? The secondary? Everyone?”
Kenneth: “Overall I’d say the Seahawks pass defense is average. They rank 19th in DVOA, 19th in net yards per pass attempt allowed. Yardage doesn’t mean anything to me. Jared Goff put up 517 yards in a big loss to the Buccaneers, then came out with 395 yards on Thursday in a loss to Seattle. I didn’t notice him playing “great” either of those weeks, but he got yards. Why? Because the Rams have apparently abandoned the running game/Todd Gurley more than expected, the defense isn’t spectacular, they just know how to dink it off 40-60 times per game and so the Seahawks are more than willing to let teams do that. Why? Honestly, this isn’t much different than how I’ve seen Pete Carroll coach defense in the previous nine years, other than the fact that the “talent” has shifted from the back four to the front-seven and specifically the biggest change is at the third linebacker spot.
Seattle’s gone from a team with a base nickel defense to one that keeps Bobby Wagner, K.J. Wright, and Mychal Kendricks on the field at the same time. I think Carroll just saw that after losing slot corner Justin Coleman to the Lions in free agency, his best bet was to re-sign Wright and Kendricks and be better at linebacker than any other team. When Jadeveon Clowney became available in trade at a low cost, GM John Schneider jumped at it and so even more resources were poured into pressuring the QB & stopping the run over having the Legion of Boom secondary.
In the absence of Earl Thomas, Richard Sherman, and Kam Chancellor, a few other players have stepped up. Strong safety Bradley McDougald is the best player in the secondary, allowing a passer rating under 25 so far this season; only Harrison Smith has a better mark among safeties. Cornerback Shaquill Griffin has grown into a very solid number one corner in his own right. I don’t think either would be compared 1:1 with Thomas and Sherman, or Kam and Sherman, but they’re having good seasons. The weaker spots may be at free safety with Tedric Thompson and the other corner spot with Tre Flowers, but I don’t consider either to be horrifically weak. They’re just not perceived as being that good right now. Tedric had a great pick vs the Rams last Thursday, Tre is young and only playing cornerback for the second year of his life right now.
To go back to your original question, Andy Dalton managed to gain a lot through the air with John Ross, Teddy Bridgewater dunked the Saints to victory by many successful doinks to Alvin Kamara, Mason Rudolph played pretty well himself in Week 2 also. The pass defense isn’t exceptional, but Seattle’s hope is that with more time for the Clowney-Zeke Ansah pass rush to gel, and the talent of the linebackers, with a strong strong safety, that it’s going to get better as the season goes on. Overall, I’d say that the pass defense is average with potential to be better. It’s not “good” yet. I just don’t think the yardage is any indication of that.”
Chris: “Russell Wilson is having another extremely efficient season. Through 5 games, he’s completed 73% of his passes for 12 touchdowns and 0 interceptions. He is also the team’s second-leading rusher. Despite all of that success by Wilson, I’m always curious where the weakness of an offensive line is, if something were to go wrong for the offense?”
Kenneth: “Most Seahawks fans would agree that the weakness on the line is right tackle Germain Ifedi. The 2016 first rounder has played below most expectations, though I think late first round picks are at best 50/50 and Ifedi is going to complete four years as a starter for Seattle. Four good years? Not exactly. But he’s been serviceable.
The team may also be without right guard D.J. Fluker, though backup Jamarco Jones, a fifth rounder in 2018 who had never played guard before in his life, came in and kind of dominated the Rams defensive line, including Aaron Donald. I’m not saying that’s expected to be normal, but a lot of people are anxious to see Jones get a full game after a full week of practice with the 1s. The offensive line is not a strength, but maybe not as weak as it once was. It’s better thanks to Duane Brown at left tackle mostly.
Justin Britt at center is fine, Mike Iupati at left guard has been around the block. It’s all fine, but sometimes it still looks quite bad. With days like the one from Jones though, maybe better days are ahead? I know many want to see Ifedi replaced, maybe by Jones or backup/6th OL George Fant at some point. Part of what makes Wilson fantastic though is seeing him make nothing out of those broken down plays. He’s a great pocket passer too though, and we’d like to see all clean pockets preferably.”
Chris: “It seems like first-round pick DE L.J. Collier has hardly played this season, while second-round pick WR DK Metcalf has made some plays for Seattle’s offense. Tell us about each of the rookies, and what roles they might play on gameday.”
Kenneth: “I won’t have time to tell you about all of the rookies because the Seahawks drafted 11 players and kept all of them on the roster. Two of them are on PUP. The only one to actually contribute significantly on offense or defense so far is Metcalf. He’s the best rookie receiver they’ve had since Doug Baldwin and he’s always a threat for a 30-50 yard completion. As of right now, that’s about the only threat he poses. He’s good. He’s big. He’s fast. He’s just not at that point of getting more than 3-4 targets, and that’s on a heavy workload kinda day.
Collier got injured in August, missed some time, and has been a healthy scratch a couple of times. Second round safety Marquise Blair is in a similar boat to Collier. Guys like Ben Burr-Kirven and Travis Homer are active on special teams. Cody Barton is another linebacker that the team is very excited about, he just has nowhere to play on defense until one of the other guys can’t go, so I expect his breakout in 2020 at the soonest. (We hope, at least.) Fourth round receiver Gary Jennings was nearly cut, he probably won’t factor in, nor will seventh round receiver John Ursua. If all goes to plan, Metcalf’s the only one you’ll hear from this week, unless it’s a big special teams play.”
Chris: “Seattle has an impressive 4-1 record to start the season, and I always support the statement that “a win is a win.” With that said, Seattle only beat the Bengals and Steelers by a combined three points in the first two weeks of the season, and those teams now hold a combined record of 1-9. What did Seattle struggle with in those games?”
Kenneth: “Hey, we can’t all be so lucky as to get the Patriots schedule. (Dolphins, Jets, Washington, Steelers, Bills.) But the Seahawks have certainly been fortunate to finish 4-1, just like and 4-1 or 5-0 team. It takes some luck going your way. The Browns could have easily won 10-12 games last season with just a few more plays going their way.
I think the Bengals had an advantage in that nobody knew who or what Zac Taylor is or was. (Take that philosophy majors.) I think Week 1 is funky for everyone. The pass rush was even worse off as Clowney just arrived, Ansah was OUT, and Jarran Reed is serving a six-game suspension. (Browns game is the last one he has to miss.) The offense wasn’t very good that day either. Things didn’t quite come together. The Steelers was still a road game vs the Steelers. Nobody had planned for Mason Rudolph. Ben Roethlisberger was injured and nobody knew what to make of Rudolph. The Seahawks outgained them 426 to 261 in yardage (hypocrite warning) and the big difference was maybe two fumbles lost.
This theme continued as a fumble by Chris Carson was the biggest pain in Seattle’s side in their Week 3 loss to Bridgewater’s Saints. The Seahawks are 4-1. They could be 1-4. They could also be 3-2 or 2-3. Or somethin’ else. I think this is probably true of a lot of teams right now. I’d not say they look dominant at the moment, but we see teams swing in huge directions during the season. In fact, look at Cleveland’s schedule (as I’m sure you have) and I see how 2-3 could turn into 10-6 or better regardless of the outcome this Sunday. The biggest issue is mistakes, fumbles, missed opportunities. Otherwise, Seattle’s outplayed most of their competition. They can’t make 2-3 huge mistakes vs the Browns, that’s for sure.”
Chris: “Tell us about one player on offense and one player on defense who Browns fans might not be familiar with, but who could make a nice contribution for this week’s game.”
Kenneth: “I mean, tight end Will Dissly is the guy right now. I’m sure fantasy players know about him (I don’t personally care about fantasy) because he leads tight ends in touchdowns, but this guy is no fluke. He’s the real deal. He played this way to open 2018 as a rookie and tore his patellar tendon. Many can’t even come back from that injury but he didn’t miss a beat. Pardon me for gushing but Dissly looks like he could really hit that upper echelon of tight ends and fast. He can block super well, he can catch anything, he’s been open like nobody’s business or he’ll get a contested grab if he has to. The Seahawks are working with Tyler Lockett and Dissly a lot as their top two options and it’s hard to find any around the league as good as these two, though the Browns have an argument of their own there.
Defensively, I’ve shouted out McDougald, Shaquill, Kendricks already. But I’ll say that defensive tackle Al Woods has been the best low-key signing of the offseason. A modest one year deal, the vet has been outstanding on defense against the run but he’s also just one of Carroll’s favorite players almost immediately. There’s no way I see Woods leaving in free agency in 2020, this is the type of guy they lock up immediately -- he’s 32 but seems to have the energy of a rookie. I’m not sure how many times you’ll hear his name called (maybe zero) but he’ll have an impact. I’d also shout out Rasheem Green, a second year defensive end out of USC who has quietly been coming on a little bit more each week and he’s still only 22.”
Thanks again to Kenneth for taking the time to answer my questions.