Eye on the Enemy: Seattle Seahawks
TEMPE, Ariz. – It’s hard to repeat as Super Bowl champions, as the Seattle Seahawks are finding out this season.
If you ask head coach Pete Carroll, things really haven’t changed much since becoming world champions.
“No, I kind of have been through this, being all hyped up and everybody’s coming after you and all that,” Carroll said. “That’s what you get when you win a championship, and it’s really what should be expected.”
“I don’t think we’ve been surprised by any of it,” Carroll said. “We’ve really had a lot of teams look like they’re playing good football against us, and unfortunately, we haven’t been able to get a couple of these wins out of the way that were close and we had them, so we’re up against it a little bit.”
Despite everything that’s gone on personnel wise and injury wise with the Seahawks, they still have their heads above water and they’re still relevant at 6-4.
“We’ve demonstrated extraordinary character to get to the places where we are right now,” Carroll said. “It’s been years of building a team and putting it together and guys joining forces, and I think it’s really clear that nothing has changed in that regard at all.”
“We have terrific guys and a competitive team [and] guys that will fight every step of the way and that’s the way it’s been all along. Nothing’s changed,” Carroll said.
Seattle is up against it, being three games behind the Arizona Cardinals, who invade CenturyLink Field on Sunday sporting a league best record of 9-1.
One of the big things that jumps out to Carroll about the Cardinals is the secondary and how opportunistic they’ve been this season.
“They have been talented for some time, but I think the way that Patrick [Peterson] plays now and the years of experience coming to the front and Antonio [Cromartie] – those guys are really playing good ball,” Carroll said. “The safeties are active. It’s a really good group. You can see that they benefit from the pressure, and they play very aggressive coverage to matchup with that, so it’s a really good style. I think they are as good as you can get.”
Quarterback Russell Wilson sees more to the Cardinals defense than their vaunted secondary. Arizona’s defense has caught fire, with 10 sacks over its last two games. Wilson’s seen a come up in the Cardinals’ pass rush.
“I think that they’re finally hitting home, they’re finally getting there. They were always close. They’re playing great football,” Wilson said. “Obviously they’re 9-1, so you think about all the things that their defense is doing and how they’re playing at such a high level. It’s everybody; it’s a collective effort. It’s the guys up front, it’s the linebackers, it’s the DBs [defensive backs] that step up into the game and play great football.”
You can’t look at this game and not reflect back to last December, when the Cardinals snatched a 17-10 victory from Seattle in their own house, and ending their 14-game home winning streak in the process. Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians says that win was the springboard that put them in the position they’re in today, at 9-1.
“I thought that was an extraordinary game for them, given that the ball got turned over a bunch of times [four for Arizona] and they still hung in there, hung tough, stuck to it with the running game and found a way to have a chance to win at the end,” Carroll said.
“I would think, because we had gone quite a while winning a lot of games at home, it was a marker for anybody in the division to get that first one and all that. I can understand how it would have been significant to them,” Carroll said.
Arizona has the No. 3 rushing defense in the NFL, giving up 80.5 yards per game. It will be tested against the league’s No. 1 ranked running attack, led by ‘Beast Mode,’ running back Marshawn Lynch.
In the last two games versus the New York Giants and Kansas City Chiefs, Lynch and the Seahawks ran for 554 yards – a franchise high for rushing yards in consecutive games.
Lynch is like a Mack truck. Once he gets revved up, it’s darn near impossible to stop him.
“Oh, there’s no doubt, Marshawn [Lynch] is rolling, and you have to tackle him, and it’s not just one guy, you have to get a lot of hats on him,” Arians said.
Defensive end Calais Campbell will be one of the guys up front that’ll be responsible for putting a hat on Lynch, as difficult as that may be to do. Campbell says Lynch can be slowed down with the right number of bodies working together to make it so.
“He [Lynch] is human, so we’ll have opportunities to get him down,” Campbell said. “We’re staying true to our game plan, stopping the run and being the best team that we can be and I think we’ll put ourselves in position to win it.”
Stopping Lynch is paramount to slowing down the Seahawks on offense, but if that happens, it then gives Wilson more of an opportunity to beat you with his arm and his legs – especially his legs.
Wilson is second behind Lynch in rushing yardage. He’s averaging nearly eight yards a pop on the ground, so he’s a threat to break one every time he steps outside of the pocket.
The Cardinals haven’t a quarterback with Wilson’s type of mobility since Colin Kaepernick and the 49ers came to Glendale, Ariz., in Week Three. It’s tough preparing for a player of Wilson’s caliber and talent level if you don’t see him or someone like him frequently.
“Oh yeah it is, because there are so many different things,” Arians said. “It’s like back in college getting ready for a wishbone team. It’s a read-option team, and you don’t see these plays very often, so you have different assignments and you really have to hone it up quickly.”
“This is a unique offense, and he [Wilson] presents unique challenges,” Arians said.
Arians says on defense it’s simple: they have to tackle well in order to take Wilson, Lynch and the rest of Seattle’s weapons out of commission.
“Russell [Wilson], you cannot let him out because he’s going to hurt you with his legs,” Arians said. “It’s a dual threat back there, and their receivers are really good running after the catch. That’s why I say tackling is going to be the biggest part of the game for us.”
That would take care of the offense for Seattle. Any casual football fan knows the Seahawks are more than just that. Their defense is just as dangerous and disruptive. It’s hard to run and pass on them, with the ‘Legion of Boom’ roaming around.
Arizona quarterback Drew Stanton is used to seeing one of the best defenses in the league every day in practice. What he’s seen on film from Seattle’s defense is very similar to what his defense brings.
“They’re an attacking defense, but you see at every position they’re getting up the field,” Stanton said. “The D-line, and the D-ends, and those backers are downhill players, so you have to be really aware of where you want to go with the ball and the ball has to come out quickly.”
“The best thing about this team is we’re not worried about that stuff,” Stanton said when referring to the Seahawks secondary. “You respect them, but at the same time you go out there and handle your business and hope everything takes care of itself.”
What can help Stanton deal with the firestorm that will head his way is a strong ground game, led by running back Andre Ellington. The run game has been lukewarm this season to say the least, but the faucet has to be running hot on Sunday to keep the Cardinals offense from becoming stagnant.
“I think that every person talks about it on offense every single week. The offense thrives on trying to get the running game going,” Stanton said. “Every offense wants to run the football. It’s trying to find ways of being creative or even maybe simplifying some things so we can get a running game going.”
Stanton has never started a game, nor played in a game in Seattle, so this will be an experience he’ll never forget having to deal with the sonic booms that will resonate throughout CenturyLink Field on Sunday.
“My voice will probably be about gone by the time we’re done,” Stanton said. “You have to deal with it, you have to find a way to overcome that, and we’ll be creative with what we try and do and try to keep them off balance as much as possible as well.”
The Seahawks will do whatever’s necessary to send the Cardinals home losers on Sunday. Cornerback Patrick Peterson knows that and is ready for it.
“We know we’re gonna get their best shot, period,” Peterson said. “These guys want to try and embarrass you each and every opportunity they get, that’s just their mentality and that’s the way they play football.”
“On the road, we have to make sure we match their intensity, make sure we’re as physical as those guys are [and] as a defense make sure we go out and outplay their defense and put our offense in great field position to score points,” Peterson said.
Tags andre ellingtonantonio cromartiearizona cardinalsbruce arianscalais campbellcenturylink fieldcolin kaepernickdrew stantonkansas city chiefsmarshawn lynchnew york giantsNFLpatrick petersonpete carrollrussell wilsonsan francisco 49ersseattle seahawks
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