This week we have done a Q&A exchange with Chris Sullivan of Seahawk Addicts. Below (Read More) are his answers to our questions.
Q1) Our ‘Draft Project’ highlighted a few players, and Seattle seemingly hit on a few of them: Okung and Thomas. We also liked Chancellor and McCoy for value. Our draft experts were deeply divided on Tate. How does your rookie crop look so far?
The rookies have, by and large, looked excellent so far. Russell Okung has been phenomenal for the 6 quarters he’s played in, but we need him to get healthy and playing, or we’ll start to get very concerned. The #1 problem with this team the last three years has been offensive line health. #14 pick Earl Thomas has four interceptions and about 5 or 6 near-picks. In the pre-season, he took one to the house from 89 yards out. He’s looking like a star, but he needs to be more consistent. Second round pick Golden Tate has been a mixed bag. He has shown speed, strength, and elusiveness, but not discipline.He muffed a punt a few weeks back, he’s had a few drops, and he generally still stinks at route running. He looked to be making big strides against Oakland before rolling his ankle in a beautiful catch over Asomugha.
Walter Thurmond – fourth rounder out of Oregon — is looking like our “steal” of the draft. He was a bubble first rounder before tearing his ACL/MCL/PCL last year. We took him and he has steadily seen increased playing time, including a start against Arizona. Admittedly, AZ has no quarterback, but Thurmond still managed to shut down Larry Fitzgerald and registered two Pass Defenses. Kam Chancellor is also seeing increased play time and looks like the successor to Lawyer Milloy at strong safety. Anthony McCoy is not yet ready, he’s been inactive every game this season, but he looked decent in preseason. Needs to want it more, same story as he had at USC. 7th Rounder Dexter Davis has been excellent rushing the QB from our DE/LB hybrid position, but has had trouble staying healthy.
Q2) What is Okung’s status for Sunday? Is it too simplistic to suggest that this rookie is making a big enough difference already for the OL and the fortunes of the team?
It seems unlikely at this time that Okung will play on Sunday. He has suffered two high ankle sprains this year (one per leg). While this one was not as bad, and he may end up practicing on Friday, few expect to see him in there. Okung is definitely the key to this line right now, mostly because he’s the only pure talent who can stay healthy. Chester Pitts could excel at LG if he can stay healthy, but no one is holding their breath for that. Chris Spencer is finally coming into his own as a center, and hasn’t been screwing up for the first time in his five year career. Stacy Andrews is a strange choice at RG and Sean Locklear is probably the worst starting tackle in the NFL. Strangely, at times, the line has played incredibly well together, but it’s been rare. No one in Seattle is counting on them, regardless of whether Okung is in or not, but he sure helps a lot.
Q3) Seattle is 3-0 at home and 1-3 on the road. Anything beyond that nasty Seattle homefield advantage?
Seattle’s homefield advantage is pretty much unparalleled. No team has a bigger win differential over the past decade at home vs. on the road. That’s in part because we dominate at Qwest and in part because we’re absolutely hopeless on the road. No team in the NFL appears more inconsistent.
At home, the Seahawks’ defense gets much more pressure and is more enabled to be more aggressive. That is attributed largely to the sheer volume of the fans. The offense also seems a bit more competent, if not only because they aren’t battling crowd noise (though, occasionally boos). Even on the road though, the defense has been great (the scores have been misleading — the Raiders game was 13-0 until late in the third quarter, at which point the defense had been on the field 33 minutes).
Q4) What is your opinion of Pete Carroll, his staff and his ability to bring a title to Seattle?
I’m in. We love Carroll around these parts, and the fact that he’s taken a team with very little talent (9 wins in two season) and picked up four games already this year gives us hope. More than that though, the defense is playing like a legitimate NFL unit — something we haven’t seen since 2005. Injuries are taking hold now, with 3 of our 4 starting defensive linemen injured (in addition to our 2nd and 3rd CBs), so we may not see the same run-stuffing defense we were falling in love with, but we knoweveryone will keep flying to the ball, and that’s Carroll. On offense, we are still a ways away. As I mentioned earlier, we have two pieces of our long-term offensive line in place (LT and C). We need to find talent that can stay healthy for the other positions. We need a new QB. We’re not far off, but its going to take some time. If Carroll gets that time, the fanbase (and me, personally) are confident that this team can compete for a title in the next half-decade.
Q5) The NYGiants have knocked out 5 QBs in 7 games. What is going to prevent the Giants DL from feasting off of yet another weak OL, other than Okung coming back?
Probably nothing. Charlie Whitehurst will get his first NFL start for the Seahawks this Sunday, and while he will likely hold the ball longer than he should based largely on confusion, he is more mobile than Hasselbeck and is likely to buy a little bit of time on bootlegs and the like. He showed superior pocket presence in the preseason, but that was against backups so what does it really mean? In the first three weeks of the season, the Seahawks essentially grounded the ground game and forced the make-shift OL focus almost solely on pass blocking. I expect to see that again this weekend, with Carroll and OC Jeremy Bates putting the game in the untested (and untaped) Whitehurst’s hands. Consider it a 60-minute trickplay with a few head-jarring hits for the QB in the middle.
Q6) Leon Washington is playing spectacularly. The Giants special teams are horrid. How many TDs does he score this weekend? (I would kick the ball out of bounds and let Seattle’s offense (and defense) beat us.)
Washington has been great this year, but it’s not just him. The special teams unit as a whole has been blocking better than any other unit in the league. It’s becoming the pride of the team (which is seldom a good thing). Washington could well spring one this week, but I never feel comfortable projecting ST touchdowns as they are generally more a scenario where everything goes right than a function of gameplan or scheme. Interestingly, Washington picked up four punt returns last week too, almost taking a couple of those to the house. Golden Tate will continue to take most of our PRs, and he is terrifying in open space too (assuming he catches the ball).
Unfortunately, if they don’t score TDs, our offense has not yet proven they can punch it in for six, more often than not settling for a FG or worse when starting inside our opponents’ territory after turnovers or big ST plays.
Q7) How would you gameplan against the Seattle Seahawks?
Offensively, it would be screen pass, screen pass, long ball, screen pass, screen pass, reverse, screen pass, screen pass, long ball… etc. It remains to be seen how stout our rush defense will be without 330 lb DE Red Bryant or 330 lb DT Colin Cole in there, but the Seahawks signed 350 lb Frank Okam who should be able to hold his own at DT and will line up next to former first rounder Kentwan Balmer getting only his second career start in three years in the league. Still, the Hawks have been just terrible on screens and reverses.
Q8) As long as the Giants don’t beat themselves (see Titans game) with stupid penalties and turnovers, I do not see the Giants losing. What is your prediction?
The two things this Seahawks team seems to do best is win ugly and force mistakes. We’ve made our living this year on stupid penalties and turnovers at home (12 turnovers in 3 home games, vs 4 in 4 road games). It’s a tough game for the Seahawks to win, and I can’t in good conscience “predict” that, but the Qwest Field magic is back this season. I’ll call it a 24-20 victory for the Giants.