- Russell Wilson is off to a fantastic start to the season, completing 73.1% of his passes with 12 touchdowns to 0 interceptions. His quarterback rating of 126.3 leads the NFL. Not only that, but he makes opposing defenses pay with his legs with 120 rushing yards and 2 more touchdowns. He is still sackable, as he’s been brought down 13 times this season. But even with a decent rush, he still often finds time to make magic happen:
- Baker Mayfield has a lot he needs to improve upon, but the struggles offensively are a team issue, not solely a quarterbacking issue. To beat a dead horse, there needs to be a lot more quick, short passes to receivers and running backs. These guys are very skilled with the ball in their hands; let them show it early and often. Those short passes, combined with the run game and read-option, will set up those longer passes that the team seems to be overly obsessed with hitting on. Offensive coordinator Todd Monken said it was his goal for the offense, so why aren’t we seeing it so much?
“It would be to run the football, play action, get the ball out of his hands quickly and be able to move the chains. Still, we want to be able to be explosive.”
- The Seahawks’ starting running back is Chris Carson, who has 94 rushes for 380 yards (4.0 YPC) and 1 touchdown. Fumbles were an issue to begin the season for Carson, who had one in each of the first 3 games. He’s also caught 15 passes for 105 yards and 2 touchdowns, which is way more involved in the passing game than he was a year ago. Backup Rashaad Penny has 22 carries for 98 yards (4.5 YPC).
- Even against a tough run defense last week in the 49ers, Nick Chubb averaged 5.4 YPC. Seattle’s run defense is only allowing 80 rushing yards per game, which is 4th best in the NFL. However, they are allowed 4.26 yards per carry, which is 14th best. Seattle’s linebackers have some coverage issues, so it might be interesting to run some packages with both Chubb and Dontrell Hilliard on the field.
Wide Receiver / Tight End
- The Seahawks’ top two receivers are Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf. Lockett has 30 catches for 379 yards and 3 touchdowns; he had the incredible catch last week for a touchdown, but his big day came in Week 3, when he had 11 catches for 154 yards. Metcalf, one of the team’s second-round picks, has 12 catches for 267 yards and 2 touchdowns. He is 6-4, 229 lbs. and is a downfield threat with catches of 42, 54, and 40 yards this season. The breakout player for Seattle has been tight end Will Dissley, who has 23 catches for 262 yards and 4 touchdowns.
- Talk this week centered on the Browns trying to get Odell Backham some more catches, so no matter how his day goes, it’ll be a big talking point after the game. It’s been frustrating talking about how Rashard Higgins might return, only for him to be held out. However, the Browns specifically said that Higgins is “healthy enough to play this week,” so hopefully that’s true.
- The Seahawks’ starting offensive line will be in a bit of disarray this week. Starting left tackle Duane Brown and starting right guard D.J. Fluker are both doubtful. The team’s most versatile backup lineman is out too. George Fant will start at left tackle and Jamarco Jones at right guard. Jones, a 5th round pick in 2018, never played guard until last week when he substituted in for Fluker. Jones had a pretty solid day against the Rams, according to PFF; and you can see some of his highlights here:
RG - Jamarco Jones v Rams 1/3 pic.twitter.com/1fBBOJq7lU— Tony Blakeley (@Cyoplasm) October 10, 2019
- I don’t think the Browns will make the change this week, but during the bye, they should have another competition at right guard to see if Wyatt Teller is ready to replace Eric Kush. Even if it isn’t a huge difference, considering what the Browns traded to get Teller, it would be worth a try. Cleveland’s offensive line will be very relieved to be facing anyone other than the 49ers’ front four this week. The Browns get the edge due to continuity in Week 6.
Defensive Line / Linebacker
- The Seahawks run a 4-3 defense. DE Jadeveon Clowney, DT Al Woods, NT Poona Ford, and LEO Ziggy Ansah. Clowney was a big acquisition for the defense, and although he only has one sack, he is a good run defender and has been having an impact in the pass rushing department through hurries and improved performance by his teammates.
- It’s a similar story for Ansah — he only has one sack, but has been improving week by week as he and Clowney both fall into a groove in their first year away from Detroit and Houston, respectively. DT Quinton Jefferson and DE Rasheem Green will also see significant snaps as part of the defensive line rotation.
- The last time the Browns faced a mobile quarterback in Lamar Jackson, Myles Garrett purposely played it safe as not to overpursue Jackson and create running lanes for him. This week, against a backup left tackle, Garrett plans on going after Russell Wilson. I like that approach, because while Jackson is still a bit of a run-first quarterback, Wilson’s eyes remain downfield.
- The Seahawks’ starting linebackers include SLB Mychal Kendricks, MLB Bobby Wagner, and OLB K.J. Wright. Kendricks’ sentencing for his insider trading is set for November. As Jake Burns pointed out, Seattle is one of the few teams in the NFL sticking with their base defense most of the time, and their linebackers have not fared the best in coverage:
Noteworthy pod discussion w @DannyBKelly .... Seahawks play a TON of base defense. More than almost anyone in the NFL as they don't have a trustworthy nickel corner.— Jake Burns (@jake_burns18) October 10, 2019
Pass coverage totals for their 3 starting LBs according to @PFF: 64 catches on 78 targets for 647 yards and 3 TDs
- The Seahawks’ two starting cornerbacks are Shaquill Griffin and Tre Flowers. Former Browns cornerback Jamar Taylor will come in as the third cornerback. Seattle’s starting safeties are FS Tedric Thompson and SS Bradley McDougald. McDougald has been fantastic in coverage this season, which is sometimes atypical of a strong safety. The rest of the secondary is rather average, with our affiliate listing Flowers and Thompson as the players to attack.
- This should be the final week that Cleveland is without their starting cornerbacks. Damarious Randall will be a key player this week with how Wilson likes to extend plays downfield. I expect Morgan Burnett to resume his role as the everydown strong safety, taking snaps away from Eric Murray.
- Jason Myers is the Seahawks’ kicker. He is 3-of-5 on field goals and 16-of-16 on extra points. Austin Seibert still hasn’t had to attempt any field goals beyond 50 yards, but he’s 8-of-8 in general and 8-of-9 on extra points.
- Michael Dickson is the Seahawks’ punter. A 5th round pick by the Seahawks last year, he showed that drafting a punter can pay off, as he was named to the Pro Bowl. He does boom the ball long enough to allow for some returnable attempts. Jamie Gillan, fresh off his AFC Player of the Month honor, was one of the few outstanding efforts against the 49ers. He had an average of 56.7 yards per punt and a net average of 49.3 yards (despite the team allowing a season-long 32-yard return).
- Tyler Lockett is the Seahawks’ kickoff and punt returner. He has 8 punt returns for 19 yards. The Browns would be better suited not trying to return kickoffs, to avoid penalties. On punt returns, I hope the team sticks with Jarvis Landry. I saw the jitters that Antonio Callaway had last week, so my confidence in him comfortably fielding punts is pretty low.
Here are predictions from multiple staff members at DBN.
Chris Pokorny: “The Browns have been alternating wins and losses, and a couple weeks ago, I changed my mind at the last second and picked the Browns to beat the Ravens. That bold prediction paid off. I could see today turning out a little similar — on paper, the Browns’ defensive line has an opportunity to take over the game against two backup linemen, and Baker Mayfield can beat this pass defense. The X-factor I can’t escape, though, is Russell Wilson, who is off to an MVP-like start.” Seahawks 24, Browns 20.
Matt Wood: “This team plays its best when they are the underdog. After the win over Baltimore everyone loved the Browns and they came out and flopped. I still believe that if Callaway makes the TD catch the 49ers game is different. Browns would have still lost, but it wouldn’t have been a laugher. Why does this matter? Because I think the Browns are better than what they have shown.
The Seahawks are banged up on the OL and I think this is a game in which Myles dominates. Russell Wilson will make some plays but I think the Defensive Line bounces back. On offense I think the walkout of Berea about getting the playmakers is well founded. The Browns should be forcing the ball to Odell and Chubb. And I think they do this week. Browns attack the Seahawks LB’s in coverage with speed and Baker gets on track.” Browns 27, Seahawks 18.
Tom Moore: “For the first time this year I have little confidence in the Browns. They can run the ball but don’t seem to want to. They can pass the ball, sort of. They can rush the passer on occasion. But overall they are not able to do anything consistently well.” Seahawks 28, Browns 10.
Josh Finney: “Browns Don’t have the horses to keep up with the scoring, and until I see Baker looking comfortable in the pocket, I’ll be waiting for his first win against a good team. (Ravens notwithstanding)” Seahawks 34, Browns 20.
BigTownBrown: “It’s the 3rd annual DawgsbyNature official meet up. And you know what that means. Yup, some of you nerds wasted money to travel to Cleveland to watch the Browns get skunked by the Seahawks.” Seahawks 28, Browns 9.
Barry Shuck: “I think as bad as the Browns played Monday Night that this team will come out and have a very good game against a very good Seahawks club. This game is pivotal to the Browns season and the players realize it. ” Browns 27, Seahawks 20.
Who do you think will win, Browns fans? Let us know in the comments section below.