Back from South Africa and Paris, a rare two-week vacation during football season, let’s catch up with some thoughts after the Seahawks improved to 7-2 while we were gone …
While we were watching lions (not the Detroit guys) devour baby buffalo (not the Bills) in the South Africa bush, the Seahawks held off Atlanta and beat Tampa Bay in overtime (we followed that one on Twitter from Nelspruit, S.A., which was fun).
Seattle also put Tedric Thompson and Justin Britt on IR, reportedly dangled Rashaad Penny, once again considered signing Antonio Brown and claimed Josh Gordon. And Quandre Diggs still has not played for them.
PASS RUSH STILL ABSENT
The Seahawks have had no continuity on their defensive line, which is why they are not getting much pressure (29th in sack percentage).
Jadeveon Clowney ranks fifth among outside rushers in pass-rush win rate, per ESPN, but the Hawks have not been very effective overall.
Ken Norton said, “It’s an area that we need to improve. That’s all I can say. We’d like to be more productive, and that’s something that we’re constantly working on.”
It doesn’t help that Clowney is “kind of banged up,” per Pete Carroll. “A couple different injuries. Just little things.”
Ziggy Ansah, the other guy the Hawks were counting on, is still not himself.
“He’s still battling physically to get back to right,” Carroll said. “He still hasn’t gained all his weight yet back. He’s still in the 250s (rather than the ideal 270). He is on a regimen to continue to get stronger and to keep working to get back to full go. The offseason took a big toll on him not being able to use his shoulder and not be able to run and do stuff that he needed to do. He’s still developing. It’s still a developmental campaign to get him back to full go. He plays really hard. He’s smart and he does things right. I think that the production should show. … We’ll stay after it.”
Carroll thinks first-rounder L.J. Collier, who missed a lot of camp, is “going to help us before the end of the year.”
As for the entire unit, Carroll agreed with Norton: “We haven’t made enough progress here yet. We’ll just keep going. I’m really happy that the linebackers are contributing and their helping us get our pressure. However we have to generate it, we’ll do it.”
Carroll has repeatedly referred to the safety spot as “competitive,” which is Carroll lingo for “We don’t have our starters nailed down yet.”
“We’ll see what happens,” he said. “It’s obvious that we’ve got a really competitive situation there. … Competition is a beautiful motivator.”
With Thompson surprisingly out for the season, Marquise Blair is getting his chance to develop. He and Diggs, the recent trade acquisition, could be the guys in 2020.
Diggs apparently will play in the big Monday night game against San Francisco. Carroll said, “He’s had three weeks of preparation and he’s been in on everything. He’s been around with all the walk-throughs and all that stuff. He studies really well. Football totally makes sense to him. It’s not a mystery at all. He’s ready to play. We will not be restricting him in any way.”
GAGA OVER GORDON
Fortunately, the Hawks eschewed Brown (despite Russell Wilson’s misguided lobbying to sign the troubled receiver). They instead claimed Gordon, to much hullabaloo. Carroll and John Schneider love headcase receivers, don’t they?
As for bringing in Gordon, who has had well-documented substance-abuse issues and NFL suspensions, Carroll said: “We’ve done our work. Whatever a guy brings to us, we’re going to try and investigate it. I can’t tell you we’ve done a perfect job of it, but we’re trying. We’re trying to figure it out. We want to complement the support system that all of our guys have. We’re trying to do that in any way we can. We’re trying to help our guys be the best they can possibly be. That’s all part of that process.”
Everyone is excited to see what Gordon does, but we will caution all to be conservative in expectations. It would be no surprise at all if Gordon were gone in a few weeks (or less).
PENNY FOR YOUR SECOND-ROUNDER?
So the Hawks dangled Penny for a second-rounder, eh? That’s an admission of what we all already knew: They botched that 2018 first-round pick. Schneider should have taken the trade offer he said he got right after drafting Penny.
For now, Penny (when healthy) is a good backup to Chris Carson. We’ll see whether he ends up back on the trade market after the season.
The Hawks have taken some hits on the O-line, with Britt joining Ethan Pocic on IR and Duane Brown playing through injuries all season. But they got some reinforcements when they added rookie Phil Haynes (6-4, 322) from PUP.
“We’ve been really excited about Phil playing the guard spot for us because he’s a big, strong guy. He’s a really powerful man,” Carroll said. “(If he has to step in,) we don’t feel like we’re going to lose the physicality that we really cherish. He’s doing a really good job. He could use more work, though. He’s missed so much time. He’ll continue obviously to improve. At this point, he’s given himself a chance to get really close to playing.”
Carroll said the rookie is working at center, too. Joey Hunt is starting there now, with Jordan Roos listed as the backup.
BIG GAME IN SAN FRAN
The Richard Sherman Revenge Game is far bigger than last year’s pair, with the 49ers at 8-0 ahead of the Monday night meeting.
Sherman is still playing very well, according to the Seahawks.
“Sherm looks like classic Sherm,” Wilson said. “He’s smart as can be. Always going up against him is a tough challenge.
“I know not to go over there too much. He’s as good as it gets over there. Got a lot of respect for Sherman and how he plays the game. He really understands things and sees things well. You’ve got to be really smart when you go over there.”
The 49ers will be without George Kittle, so the teams are even at tight end (Seattle has been without Will Dissly for several games now). The 49ers did add Emmanuel Sanders at the deadline, and he has scored in both games (he went 7-112 against Arizona last week).
The Hawks obviously have to beat the 49ers if they want to have a shot at the division. If they lose, they would drop 2.5 games behind and drop back into an NFC wild-card mix that includes Green Bay, Minnesota, Carolina and L.A.