The Seattle Seahawks have had a rough go of it so far in 2021. Two overtime losses and a few weeks without Russell Wilson have sent them to a 3-5 start, and they’re arguably just now heading into the tougher portion of their schedule.
That’s not to say the Seahawks haven’t been competitive this year. Three of their five losses have been by just a field goal, and one of the other two was the game in which Wilson was injured.
So who are the real Seahawks and how will they attack the Packers? We turned to John Gilbert of Field Gulls to find out.
Acme Packing Company: Russell Wilson announced via a pretty unique video that he’s going to be back in action on Sunday. How have the Seahawks looked without him, and what do you expect he’ll be like now that he’s back on the field?
John Gilbert: I certainly expect it to appear as though there is some rust, but how much of that will be his surgically repaired finger being used in a game for the first time and how much will be the weather impacting him in an offensive system in which he has limited game experience will obviously be up for debate.
As for how the Seahawks looked without him, things were ugly. Pete Carroll appeared to turn to the ground game in each of the first two games that Geno Smith started, and that led to a pair of losses. They came out throwing a bit more against the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 8, but obviously, we have no idea how much of that was a result of what happened the prior to weeks and how much of that was simply looking to let DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett take advantage of a less than impressive Jags secondary.
APC: Tyler Lockett and D.K. Metcalf are about as good of a wide receiver duo as you’re going to find anywhere. What do they each bring to the Seahawks, and how would a team go about slowing them down?
JG: Lockett and Metcalf are the most dangerous weapons the Seattle offense possesses, and each has the ability to score on any play when the ball is in their hands. Thus, the best way to slow down the pair is to show the Seattle offense a light box and entice them to use a run game that averages 4.2 yards per carry as opposed to letting a quarterback sporting 8.00 net yards per attempt.
When Seattle has thrown the ball, teams have found success by bracketing Lockett and Metcalf in coverage, which makes a third target in the passing game crucial for success. A lot of fans were excited about the potential of Gerald Everett at tight end in Shane Waldron’s offense, but his 14 receptions for 135 yards and a touchdown have been less than many had hoped for. Rookie wideout Dee Eskridge brings a speed element to the third receiver spot that the Hawks could look to take advantage of, and could be that third weapon in his first game action since suffering a severe concussion in a Week 1 win over the Indianapolis Colts.
As for actually stopping Lockett and Metcalf if the gameplan calls for a heavy dose of those two, it really comes down to how well the Packers' defensive backs can match up against the pair. As a Seattle fan, I’d love to see a lot of Kevin King one-on-one in coverage against either of them, but I’m not sure how much a recipe for success that would actually be for the Packers, and thus not really much of an answer to the question.
APC: Despite a high-end QB and elite receiver talent, Pete Carroll seems to always be trying to get the Seahawks to run the ball more. How does that go over with Seahawks fans? Are you on Carroll’s side, or would you prefer to #LetRussCook?
JG: Probably about to date myself here and give away some clues regarding my age. That said, the answer I always give to this question is that it’s a lot like the scene in the 1996 Vince Vaughn film Swingers where Vaught is talking about picking up women using an analogy of a bear trying to figure out how to kill a bunny with its giant claws and fangs. It’s like Pete Carroll is out there saying, “How am I supposed to score points, how am I supposed to score points? I don’t know how to score points with this elite, future Hall of Fame quarterback and these top-tier receivers”
Football is simple and winning is the result of scoring more points than the opponent. The best way to score is to move the ball well, and that means making use of the best weapons the offense has, which happens to involve Seattle opening up the offense for Russ.
APC: The Legion of Boom is becoming an increasingly distant memory (much to the rest of the league’s relief) and Bobby Wagner is pretty much the only holdover from that era of dominant defense. Who’s making plays for the Seahawks on that side of the ball these days?
JG: Outside of Wagner, Jamal Adams is obviously the big name that most will recognize after the Hawks shipped two firsts and a third to the New York Jets to acquire Adams. Beyond that pair, most of the bigger names are young guys who have played well so far this season, but need to continue to perform on the field before they’re considered anywhere near what the Legion of Boom was able to do in its heyday.
The names Green Bay fans are most likely to curse Sunday are likely edge rusher Darrell Taylor and the pair of young corners Seattle is likely to start in Tre Brown and D.J. Reed. The starter at left cornerback, Brown, is a 24-year-old rookie fourth-round pick from Oklahoma, and while he’s only played in three games so far following a knee injury that delayed his start of the season. On the opposite side of the Hawks defense is D.J. Reed, who just turned 25 on Thursday, but who was a fifth-round pick of the San Francisco 49ers in 2018 and is playing out the final season of his rookie contract after performing well for the Seahawks during the second half of the 2020 season after coming off the nonfootball injury list.
APC: What’s your prediction for Sunday?
JG: As much as I’d love for the Seahawks to finally end their losing streak in Lambeau, I have a feeling that the return of Aaron Rodgers after a Week 9 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs combined with the weather could make for a rough outing as a Seattle fan. At least the temperature at kickoff is supposed to be warmer than the “We want the ball and we’re gonna score” game, but I’m expecting a lower scoring game where both teams spend more time waiting for the other to make a mistake rather than to make something happen. With that in mind, my guess is that Rodgers and Davante Adams will be able to force multiple mistakes, much like in the 2019 Divisional Round game when Adams went off for 8 catches, 160 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
Prediction: Packers 23, Seahawks 16