From “Let Russ Cook” to “Russ is cooked” and all the words spilled about the plight of the Seahawks defense in between, we’ve come a long way this season.
So where do the Seahawks stand entering Saturday’s wild-card rubber match with the Rams?
That’s … a good question!
After an embarrassing start, Seattle’s defense is humming at the right time. But the opposite can be said about quarterback Russell Wilson and the offense, even after two late touchdown drives on Sunday.
And though Aaron Donald claims the Rams “wanted” to face the Seahawks again in the postseason, the monstrous defensive lineman will be holding off Wilson while Los Angeles’ offense will likely be led by former AAF (remember that?) quarterback John Wolford.
We do know one thing: Whether the Seahawks’ playoff run lasts one game or four, Seattle fans know they’re in for quite a ride. Here’s what the national media had to say about the Seahawks’ Week 17 win over the 49ers and their playoff future.
NFL.com’s Chase Goodbread had two key take-aways from the Seahawks’ Week 17 win: Their fading offense and worrisome pass protection.
The Seahawks’ seemingly season-long trend of an improving defense but a fading offense was on display for three quarters Sunday, until the offense exploded for three fourth-quarter touchdowns. San Francisco (6-10) led 9-6 entering the fourth quarter, and for the game, Seattle converted just 4-of-12 third downs. Defensively, however, Seattle held the 49ers to 3.6 yards per rush and came up with a critical strip-sack of QB C.J. Beathard by Benson Mayowa. … A week after allowing five sacks of Wilson, Seattle’s pass protection wasn’t much better Sunday. The 49ers’ two sacks weren’t indicative of the heat Wilson was under; he was often chased from the pocket immediately and had to throw away too many balls. If the 12-4 Seahawks hope to make a playoff run, protecting Wilson more effectively should be priority No. 1 in practice this week. Why? How about a first-round playoff date with Aaron Donald and the Los Angeles Rams, who entered Week 17 with the NFL’s No. 1-ranked defense, and ranked second in sacks per game.
NBC Sports’ Peter King predicts a tight game between the Seahawks and Rams on Saturday.
If I’m L.A. defensive coordinator Brandon Staley, I’m honing in on Tyler Lockett, who had a genius game Sunday (one diving end-zone catch of a Wilson laser; one toe-tap side-of-the-end-zone touch pass from Wilson) to beat the Niners. Metcalf is the deep threat, but Lockett has become Wilson’s physical security blanket with great hands, and just finished a 100-catch season. The Rams played it coy after John Wolford struggled throwing it to be Arizona on Sunday, with coach Sean McVay saying “I’m not sure” if Jared Goff’s surgically repaired throwing thumb will be healed enough to play on a short week. McVay would obviously rather have Goff play, but I’m not sure how much of an upgrade Goff is now anyway; Rams scored 24, 20 and 9 in his last three starts.
King also named Jamal Adams as one of the people who defined the NFL in 2020.
Adams demanded a traded from the Jets in June, concerned about what losing was doing to his mental health. He got his wish in July, going to Seattle for two first-round picks and a third-rounder, and responded by setting the NFL record for sacks by a defensive back (9.5) in a season. But the 2020 image of Adams most will remember is from the Thomas/Minter video. Adams stared into his smart phone in his car and taped these words: “We the NFL condemn racism and the systematic oppression of Black people,” followed by a fisted Black power salute. That’s what he couldn’t say or do growing up in Texas, and why 2020 was liberating for Adams and many Black players. “I buried it for a long time,” he told me. “I still remember to this day people who have said racial slurs towards me. Now, before every game, I’m always holding up my fist. Because I am happy to be a Black man. I’m proud that I took that stand.”
CBS Sports’ John Breech previews Seahawks-Rams from a gambling standpoint, with Seattle favored by 4.5 points.
After splitting their season series, the Rams and Seahawks are going to be meeting for a rubber match this week in Seattle. The bad part for the Seahawks is that Sean McVay has had some serious success against them. In the past seven meetings between these two teams, the Rams have gone 5-2 straight up, although the Seahawks did win and cover against the Rams during a 20-9 win back in Week 16. The upside in this game for Seattle is that if Jared Goff does play, he’ll be coming off of thumb surgery and might not be 100%. If Goff can’t go, then the Rams could be forced to turn to John Wolford at quarterback for the second straight week. One thing to like about the Seahawks in this spot is that Russell Wilson is 5-2 straight-up and 6-1 ATS in opening round playoff games. As for the Rams, this is the their first playoff game since their 13-3 loss to the Patriots in Super Bowl LIII. The Rams went 4-2 ATS against teams that made the playoffs this year while the Seahawks went just 1-3.
Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer writes that if John Schneider actually leaves Seattle, “he’d leave that place in good shape.”
Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported that the Lions could make a real run at getting Schneider out of Seattle ahead of the final year of his contract. I think there’s a decent chance it just leads to a raise, and Schneider will remain in place to, eventually, guide the organization into the post-Pete Carroll era. But let’s say he’s serious, and wants a new challenge elsewhere? Where this year’s team is would put him in position to leave feeling like the organization is in a good spot. After an early season mess, the defense rounded into shape, has a nice young foundation, and kept each of its final eight opponents to 23 points or fewer. The offense, meanwhile, has budding young stars like D.K. Metcalf and Will Dissly to surround Russell Wilson with. And the front office has talented guys other teams have considered for GM jobs, like co-directors of player personnel Scott Fitterer and Trent Kirchner, to promote if they see fit. Which isn’t to say, of course, that the whole place is turnkey. But it’s pretty close.
The Seahawks’ offense was one of ESPN’s Brady Henderson’s troubling trends from Sunday’s game.
The Seahawks had the highest-scoring offense over the first nine weeks at 34 points per game. But entering Sunday, they were 16th since then at just over 22 points per game. Seattle had only 108 net yards midway through the third quarter before its offense came alive in the fourth quarter with two Wilson touchdown passes to Tyler Lockett and an Alex Collins rushing TD. Wilson finished 20 of 36 for 181 yards and no turnovers while adding 29 yards in five carries.