Setting the Stage:
We're #32! (At least according to USA Today).
Cards received numerous gifts from the Bears, Sunday, but handed them all back, letting an early 14-pt lead dissipate as they went on to lose 16 - 14. Like the Cards, the Seahawks also bore the burden of carrying a 0 & 2 record into Game #3, but managed to upset Dallas on the road. Seattle's offseason moves (which involved the release of several talented but high paid players) earned them the tag of a "Rebuilding Team." But regardless of the patchwork status up and down their roster, they still have QB Russell Wilson (who still looks and plays like a Superhero) and a pretty good group of receivers for Wllson to throw to. (And on defense, Bobby Wagner and Earl Thomas aren't exactly chopped liver either).
This game marks the starting debut of rookie QB Josh Rosen. He's got accuracy, zip and surprising poise for a rookie. He also reacts to pressure llke a rookie so we can expect the good along with the bad as he settles in as a starter. If the Cardinals had played better to this point in the early season, we'd consider this a "trap game." The good news is that, from a Cardinal standpoint, it's winnable. (The talent is there; but - at 0 & 3 - how about the motivation)?
Seattle's Last Game
They beat Dallas 24 -13, building an early lead and hanging on to it win by 11. Seahawks outplayed the Cowboys in all the areas that determine winning or losing. They led big-time in 3rd down conversions, sacks and turnover-advantage. Russell Wilson threw for 3 TD's, Seattle was +3 in turnovers and outsacked the Cowboys 5 - 2.
Cowboys received and returned the KO to their own 34. 3 & out. Punt fair caught at the Seattle 7. They moved across the mid-field stripe in 11 plays before their punt rolled out of bounds at the Dallas 15. 'Pokes gained +7 and +18 yds on the next 2 downs but Prescott's throw for Gallup was intercepted by Earl Thomas.
Seattle took over on their own 49 but promptly went 3 & out. Punt was downed at the Dallas 7. Pokes reached their own 21 in 6 plays before having to punt. Punt returned to Seatte 31. Seattle once again was held to 3 & out. Punt rolled out of bounds at the Dallas 20 as the quarter ended.
First Quarter Score: Dallas 0 - Seattle 0.
On the first play of the quarter, Mingo sacked Prescott for minus-10 yds to set the stage for a Dallas 3 & out. Punt returned to the Dallas 36. Seattle moved to the Dalas 16 in 6 plays to set up a 16-yd TD pass from Wilson to Ja Brown.( Other Key Plays: Wilson to C+Vannett for + 12. Wilson to Carson for +19). Seattle 7 - Dallas 0.
KO returned to Dallas 21. 'Pokes moved to Seattle 31 before settling for a 50-yd Maher FG. (Other Key Plays: Elliott around LE for +19 yds. Prescott to Beasley for +18 yds. Prescott to Hurns for +10 yds). Seattle 7 - Dallas 3.
KO returned to Seattle 25. On the 7th play of the series, Wilson hit Lockett for a 52-yd TD. (Other Key Play: Wilson to Lockett for +10 yds). Seattle 14 - Dallas 3.
1:52 till the half. TB on KO. After Reed sacked Prescott for minus-7 yds, Dallas went 3 & out. Punt returned to the Seattle 42. A roughness penalty on Gregory set up a Janikowski 47 yarder with 0:04 on the clock. Seattle 17 - Dallas 3.
Second Quarter Score: Seattle 17 - Dallas 3.
Seattle received. The two teams exchanged 3 & outs and Seattle went 3 & out a second time. Punt fair caught on Dallas 29.Dallas got as far as the Seattle 17 before settling for a 35-yd FG.(Key Plays: Elliott off RT for +21 yds., Prescott to Swairn for +11 yds). Seattle 17 - Dallas 6.
KO returned to Seattle 28. A Wislon to Marshall +27-yarder helped Seattle drive to the Dallas 18 in 6 plays to end the quarter.
Third Quarter Score: Seattle 17 - Dallas 6.
Four plays later, Carson rambled up the middle for 5 yds and a TD. Seattle 24 - Dallas 6.
KO returned to the Dallas 30. On the 5th play of the drive, Elliott broke off LT for +26 yards, but McDougald forced a fumble. Coleman recovered. Seattle ball on its own 13 with 10:46 to play. Seattle held to three & out.
Punt returned to the Dallas 43 with 8:43 left. On the 5th play of the Dallas possession (After Elliott ran off RG for +19 and Prescott scrambled around LE for +10) Prescott hit Austin for a 3-yd TD. Seattle 24 - Dallas 13.
(7:11 left) TB on KO. Seattle held to 3 & out. Punt returned to the Dallas 20. 8 plays later (with 3:17 left) Prescott's pass fpr Jarwin was intercepted by Earl Thomas. Seattle took over on its own 8 yard line with 3:09 left to play. Seattle stayed on the ground and its punt was returned to the Seattle 44 with 1:05 left. Two Dallas runs went nowhere, and Prescott was sacked by Reed for minus-12 yards, followed by one final 4th down incompletion and a Seattle knee.
Final Score: Seattle 24 - Dallas 13.
Last Game Stats
Passing - R Wilson was 16 for 26, 192 yds, 2 TD's and no interceptions.
Receiving - Lockett (4) and Vanett (4) led Seattle in receptions.
Rushing - Carson gained 102 yards on 32 carries. Longest gain was for 13 yards. He scored one TD.
Fumbles - Seattle recovered one fumble (Elliott) and lost none.
Net Punting Yds - Seattle 41.3; Dallas 43.0
Tackles - Wagner and Thomas led with 7 apiece followed by Flowers and Kendricks with 6 each.
Third Down Efficiency - Seattle: (7 of 16). 43%. Dallas (3 of 13) 23%
Net Yards Rushing: Bears 86 (Seattle: 74).
Sacked - Seattle defenders netted 5 sacks (Reed: 2, Kendricks, Clark and Mingo one apiece. Wilson was s sacked twice.
Run to Pass Ratio: Seattle: 39/26 - Dallas 19/34
Turnover Ratio Seattle: +3; (2 - 0 in interceptions; 1-0 in Fumbles Recovered
Seattle in a Thumbnail
Post-game write-ups indicate that Coach Carroll was very happy with the way Seattle dominated all aspects of the game you need to win (3rd down conversions, turnovers, sacks, passing TD's) - the inference being: "If we keep doing what we're doing, we're going to win a lot of games.
Based on Dallas game results, their team thumbnail seems to be: Efficient, not exactly an offensive juggernaut (most passes caught by a player: 4), but wins the ground-yardage, turnover, 3rd down conversion and sack wars.
TEAM STATISTICS TO DATE
Total First Downs .....48 62
Rushing ..................13 22
Passing ..................30 34
Penalty .... ....5 06
3rd Down Conversions 14/41 12/37
4th Down Conversions 0/0 2/3
Total Offensive Yards 967 1095
Rushing Yards 251 398
Rushing YPC 3.3 5.1
Passing Yards 716 697
Comp/Att/Int 57/95/3 ...69/107/7
Sacked 14 8
FG 34 5/5
TD’s 1 1
Avg Time of Possession ......23:12..................36:48
Turnover Ratio ........+3
Wilson: 57 of 95 for 716 (60.0%) YPA: 7.54...TD: 7...Int: 3...Sacked: 14
Carson: 45 of 177...YPA: 3.93
Penny: 20 of 43...YPA: 2.15
R Wilson: 7 of 21...YPA: 3.0
Lockett: Rec: 12...Yds: 196...YPR: 16.33...TD: 3
Marshal: Rec: 9...Yds: 120...YPR: 13.33...TD: 1
Vannett: Rec: 8...Yds: 61...YPR: 7.63..TD: 0
Dissly: Rec 7...Yds: 151...YPR: 21.57....TD: 2
Ja Brown: Rec: 6...Yds: 68...YPR: 11.33...TD 1
Carson: Rec 5...Yds: 50...YPR: 10.00...TD: 0
E Thomas: 13
Shql Griffin: 12
E Thomas: 3
Shqll Griffin: 2
QB ..03 R Wilson...07 Hundley
RB.....32 Carson...20 R Penny...22 Prosise...27 Davis
WR1....89 Baldwin...15 Marshall...83 Moore
WR2 ...16 Lockett...18 Jar Brown...19 Reynolds
TE......88 Dissly...81 Vannett....87 Daniels
LT.......76 Du Brown,,,74 Fant
LG ..77 Pocic...66 Simmons
OC ..68 Britt...53 Hunt
RG......78 Fluker...64 Sweezy
RT ..65 Ifedi...(74 Fant)
Defensive Interior Line
DE - 44 Golden, 91 Mayowa, xx Z Moore,
DT - 90 Nkemdiche, 72 Pierre, G Smith
NT - 98 Peters, 95 Gunter
DE- 55 C Jones, 96 J Smith
SAM - 43 Reddick, 92 Gardeck
MLB - 57 Bynes, 51 Hodges
WILL - 20 Bucannon, 47 Turner
LCB - 21 Peterson, 26 B Williams, 39 Nichols
RCB - 28 J Taylor, 23 Benwikere
SS - 36 Baker, 30 Ford
FS - 41 Bethea, 38 Boston, 40 Tillman*
Matchup: Seattle Passing Attack vs. Cardinal Pass Defense
R Wilson does what he needs to do to win - he completes the passes he needs to complete and can convert esssential 3rd downs with either his arm or his feet. He's got MArshall, Lockett and Baldwin to connect with (he and Marshall are still learning how to mesh).
One area of concern - Wilson has been sacked 14 times.
Cardinal pass defenders are still getting used to one another - Golden has recently come off IR. Nkemdiche is beginning to find his groove and Chandler Jones seems to improve with every snap. The Cardinal secondary had its moments vs. the Bears last week, but needs to play more consistently. It looks as if Benwikere is making a run at the #2 CB spot opposite Peterson. Baker, Boston and Bethea are anchoring the deep patrol (though Boston is still having problems avoiding flags for helmut-to-helmet infractions.
Because Wilson can beat you with his feet, this may be a game where the Cards give Bucannon and/or Reddick more playing time in "spy" roles. (However, the danger, there is that Seattle might turn Carson loose in the run game to exploit size-mismatches between Carson and the somewhat undersized LB's. Although they try to get the ball to Vanett (4 catches last week), the TE position does not to be a scary Seattle offensive weapon.
Key Matchups: Wilson vs. Bucannon, Marshall vs. Peterson. Baldwin vs, Benwikere. Lockett vs. Baker, Cardinal zone vs. Seattle receiving trio.
Matchup: Seattle Rushing Attack vs. Cardinal Run Defense
Carson gained 102 yardslast week, so we can expect a heavy dose of running plays by Seattle. Card run defenders have shown they can defeat blocks and fill gaps, but their tackling leaves much to be desired (i.e. the hit the runner square-up, but fail to bring him down after initital contact).
Past experience should have taught us that - If you stop the run and contain R Wilson, the Seattle offensive threat tends to melt away. Question remains: Does this current Cardinal defense understand that and can they execute?
Key Matchups: Howard vs. Peters. Wilson vs. Bucannon
03 Rosen, 09 Bradford, 07 Glennon
23 D Johnson, 29 Edmonds, 22 Logan, 32 Coleman
WR - 11 Fitzgerald, 13 Kirk, 16 Sherfield
WR - 16 C Williams, 14 Nelson,
TE1 - 86 Seals-Jones, 85 Holmes, 84 Gresham,
LT- 74 Humphries, 73 Wetzel, (79 Cunningham)
LG - 76 Iupati, 68 Vujnovich,
OC- 64 Cole, 62 Munyer
RG- 67 Pugh, (68 Vujnovich)
RT - 71 A Smith, 75 Clausell, 79 Cunningham
Defensive Interior Line
LDE......99 Jefferson...94 R Green
LDT.....90 Reed...(98 Stephen)...97 P Ford
RDT......98 Stephen...92 N Jones
RDE....55 Clark...95 Jordan
OLB....51 Mingo...59 Martin
MLB...54 Wagner...58 Calitro...56 Kendricks
OLB...50 Wright...49 Sqm Griffin... (58 Calitro)
LCB.....26 Shql Griffin...28 Coleman.
RCB....37 Flowers...23 Thorpe...36 King
SS .....30 McDougald..42 Hill...24 Luani
FS......29 E Thomas...33 Thompson...(42 Hill)
Matchup: Cardinal Passing Attack vs. Bear Pass Defense
Welcome to the NFL, Josh Rosen. A brief look-see suggests he (1) can zip it and (2) is accurate but (3) is prone to make rookie mistakes - especially under pressure. To be fair, we haven't seen what he can do versus starting defenders with the benefit of a full week's game-planning preparation.
For the first time since we can remember, the Cardinal wide receiver room is somewhat devoid of playmakers. Once you get past Larry Fitzgerald and cross your fingers with regard to Christian Kirk, our decent receiving options are kind of thin.
Seattle pass rushers sacked Prescott 5 times last week. (That kind of tells you about Seattle's pass rush). Bobby Wagner leads the defense from his MLB position. S Earl Thomas had 2 picks. LDT Reed had 2 sacks.
Cardinal receivers (however inexperienced) seem to have an advantage over Seattle's CB's, but the presence of Wagner and Thomas should take away the RB and TE matchup with the Seattle MLB and FS. This could open up the passing offense to include deeper throws.
But counter to that above analysis - Bradford's playing style (accurate, heady etc.) suggested a quick-hitting passing attack. While Rosen's QBing style seems somewhat different (i.e. more zip, less accuracy, less poise, lack of experience) there is some reason to believe that the Seattle - Cardinal matchup profile will dictate a continuation of the Cardinal short-pass approach in order to keep Josh from being ripped in two.
Fitz vs Flowers..Kirk vs. Griffin...Gresham vs. Thomas...Johnson vs. Wagner
Matchup: Cardinal Running Attack vs. Redskin Run Defense
S Wilks continues to insist that the Cards will do more to give David Johnson more touches. So far, they haven't. Hopefully, the Cards will continue to try and run the ball - if for no other reason than to keep Seattle defensive rushersfrom targeting Rosen.
D Johnson vs. Wagner or Thomas
Seattle Special Teams
K 11 Janikowski
P 04 Dickson
H 04 Dickson
LS 69 Ott
KR 16 Lockett
PR 69 Ott
Cardinals Special Teams
P - 02 Lee
K- 04 Dawson
H - 02 Lee
LS -46 Brewer
KR - 22 Logan, 14 Nelson
PR - 13 Kirk, 22 Logan
Matchup: Seattle Special Teams vs. Cardinal Special Teams
Former Raider Janikowski still has plenty of leg. Don't know much about Dickson. Lockett is an unobtrusive home-run threat. Lee and Dawson are solid (though Dawson hasn't been given all that much opportunity to prove it this year). Logan and Kirk have home run potential but few opportunities to show it.
Dawson and Lee are fairly even vs. Janikowski and Dickson (though we like Lee over Dickson). Kirk and Logan have breakaway potential (but Lockett has a breakaway track record).
Carroll is a proven winner. We're not sure why they did it, but the Seattle brass cut relationships with a number of Seahawk veteran mainstays; suggesting that 2018 is a rebuilding year. But we can't help but notice that Bobby Wagner, Earl Thomas and other Seattle vets are still on the roster and - partly due to Russell Wilson's leadership and unique skill set - and the Seahawks still remain a formidable pro football team.
The Cards, under Steve Wilks,still seem to be "going through the motions" in the hope that efficient play will catch up with them." Although they showed improvement vs. the Bears last week, the Cardinals - after building an early 14 point lead - reverted to "robot-mode" for the balance of the game, posted zero points during the final 3.5 quarters and let Chicago come back to beat them with a late 4Q FG. That, Boys and Girls, is not winning football.
How to Beat the Seahawks
Stop the run. Throw deep to multiple receivers. Contain Russell Wilson. Play our *sses off and see how things develop.