Note: I haven’t been commenting much on the Seattle Seahawks so far this season. With the year ending injuries to key defensive stars Cliff Avril, Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor, plus the problems with the offensive line and the running game, I have been, more or less, in “wait and see” mode as regards this […]Read the Rest →
Three games into this young season our Seattle Seahawks are 3-0 and lead the entire NFL in total defense, passing defense and scoring defense. It’s a good thing. The team the Hawks are playing this Sunday, the Houston Texans, are the number two NFL team in total defense and passing defense. They are also the NFL’s seventh best team in total offense with the Hawks right behind them at number eight. Based on the stats this Sunday’s match at Houston looks to be a toss up and the last betting line I heard reflects this, favoring the Hawks by three points.
Looking at the game a little closer, however, reveals a number of facts that seem to favor the Texans. First, it’s another road game with a 10 AM Seattle start time and so brings into play the traditional Hawk weakness of playing with malfunctioning body clocks. In the Pete Carroll era Seattle is 9-16 on the road in the regular season, a record blamed by many on the league’s worst travel situation in terms of number of miles and the number of time zones involved, which supposedly messes with the players’ sense of when they should be ready to play a game. To combat this Carroll has been conducting 10 AM practices all preseason but it remains to be seen if Seahawk players have at last vanquished this tendency to falter in 10 AM starts. The next two weeks should provide a definitive answer. After the game against the Texans Seattle has another 10 AM start the next week against the Andrew Luck led Colts in Indianapolis.
Second, the Seahawk offensive line may well be without its starting Pro Bowl center Max Unger and starting right tackle Breno Giacomini who both suffered injuries against Jacksonville and are game time decisions as to playing on Sunday. If they don’t play they will join Hawk All Pro left tackle Russell Okung on the sidelines and the team will be sans three of their starting offensive lineman for the Texan game. Facing the Texans and their All Pro and NFL Defensive Player of the Year defensive lineman J.J. Watt, that situation is a potential “disaster waiting to happen” for the Seahawks. Watt is likely the best defensive player in the league and for sure the best defensive lineman. Last year, on the way to his All Pro and Defensive Player of the Year season, he recorded 20.5 sacks, 39 tackles for loss and defended 16 passes; for a defensive lineman an unheard of figure. If Watt senses he cannot sack the quarterback he will stop his pass rush and sort of mill around while eyeing the quarterback and trying to time his throw in order to swat the ball away. As seen from his stats he has been uncannily successful at doing just that.
Lastly, should Unger and Giacomini be unable to play, their positions at center and right tackle would be taken by two untried and untested players, Lemuel Jeanpierre at center and Michael Bowie at Giacomini’s right tackle spot. You can be excused for having never heard of Jeanpierre. Apparently not much of the NFL had either when the Seahawks signed him as an undrafted free agent in 2011. But Carroll and Seahawk GM John Schneider have a habit of finding good players overlooked by everyone else and if he has to play on Sunday they are hoping Jeanpierre is one of those.
As for Bowie, he made the team out of training camp despite being a late 7th round pick from a small school in Oklahoma called Northeastern University. The school may be small but not so Bowie, who is 6-foot-4 and 332 lbs. Last week against Jacksonville he and another rookie lineman named Alvin Bailey got in the game for 30 snaps or so and according to offensive line coach Tom Cable, who should know about these things, both performed very well:
“(We saw) some really cool stuff,” Cable said. “I’m really excited about their future, our future. I thought both those kids went in there and knocked people off the ball, protected really well. They got comfortable really quick.”
In assessing the two rookie linemen Carroll echoed Cable’s sentiments:
“Both guys came off the ball really well. They did fine in pass protection, a little raggedy at times in a couple of their sets in things, some of the small things. But they show that they have the ability to play and that’s all they’ve shown us throughout the preseason.”
Though in J.J. Watt and the rest of the Houston defense Bowie, should he have to play, will be facing a stern test, he doesn’t appear to be intimidated by it.
“I’m ready to go,” he says. “I live for moments like this…”
It’s good that he does because the Seahawks just may be relying on him come Sunday in Houston.
With all of this drama on offense, this game looks to me like one the Seahawk defense will need to win. The task will be daunting as the Texans have Pro Bowl caliber players in running back Arian Foster and receiver Andre Johnson. In addition, quarterback Matt Schaub is an upper tier NFL signal caller and a very accurate passer.
As good as this Seahawk defense is, with all of the factors above stacked against them, the Legion of Boom and company will have to bring their “A” game to Houston if the Hawks are to win this game.
That said, I think they will.
Copyright © 2013
By Mark Arnold
All Rights Reserved