Opponent Scouting Report: For Seattle it’s all on the line

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  1. Da-news-now

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By BOB McGINN

    When the Green Bay Packers’ defensive front dominated the 
Seattle Seahawks’ offensive line, the Packers won.

    When the Packers defensive front didn’t, the Seahawks won.

    Obviously, that’s oversimplifying the five-game rivalry between Green Bay’s Mike McCarthy and Seattle’s Pete Carroll. The home team also has won each time in the series that Carroll leads, 3-2.

    When the teams meet Sunday at Lambeau Field, it’ll also be Aaron Rodgers vs. Russell Wilson, Jordy Nelson vs. Richard Sherman and possibly Bryan Bulaga vs. Michael Bennett.

    As usual, however, Seattle’s deficiencies on the offensive line run so deep that Green Bay’s easiest and possibly most likely path to victory will be to control the line of scrimmage. McCarthy cited exactly that last Dec. 11 when the Packers annihilated the Seahawks, 38-10, in Green Bay.

    “Seattle’s offensive line is awful,” an executive in personnel said Tuesday. “Both their tackles are very, very bad. If the quarterback couldn’t move they would be in big trouble.

    “They’re going to have to win games with Russell Wilson making spectacular plays and with their defensive line. I’d bet on the Packers.”

    That scout called it for Green Bay, 24-14. Another personnel man had Green Bay winning, 24-21.

“I think Seattle’s offensive line still stinks,” he said.

    The Seahawks, a 3-point underdog, were a 27-21 pick by another personnel executive.

    “It’s a battle of who’s got the better defense and whose offensive line can hold up better,” the scout said. “Seattle will run the ball better than Green Bay and create two turnovers for the win. Seattle 27, Green Bay 21.”

    In last year’s meeting Mike Daniels finished with 5 ½ pressures while linebackers Julius Peppers, Datone Jones and Jayrone Elliott combined for 11. Dom Capers needed to blitz just 12.5% as his stiff four-man rush harassed Wilson into a career-high five interceptions.

    On the other hand, the Packers’ offensive line shackled pass rushers Cliff Avril, Frank Clark and Bennett. They combined for a mere one pressure.

    Seattle’s rush became even more formidable Friday with the acquisition of defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson from the New York Jets. Now the Seahawks have a premier inside rusher to go with all their outside ones.

    “With Richardson, it’s like adding gasoline to the fire,” said one scout. “He’s a madman, too. You never know if he’s going to implode or explode. Put him there with Bennett and that defense could be crazy.

    “Two or three games down the road, when they get that chemistry all together, they’re going to be a little more effective than maybe this first game unless Green Bay’s offensive line is out of sync.”

    On passing downs, Carroll can put Bennett inside with Richardson and play Avril and Clark at end.

    “The key is they have four guys that can actually rush the passer,” one personnel man said. “You don’t want to get into a third-and-long situation against them.

    “I can see why they made that trade for Sheldon Richardson because, inside, they were not good. The two guys they had (Ahtyba Rubin, Jarran Reed) just stood up and watched the game. Neither one of them was a pass rusher.”

    Billed by the NFL as its 98th season, the opener in the league’s smallest city kicks off at 3:25 p.m.

    OFFENSIVE SCHEME

    Coordinator – Darrell Bevell (seventh year).

    Key assistant coaches – Tom Cable, assistant head coach/offensive line; Carl Smith, quarterbacks.

    Notes: Bevell, a Green Bay assistant from 2000-’05, will be calling the plays for the seventh straight year. He’s unpredictable in his calls, and the scheme is among the league’s most diverse. Opponents must prepare for multiple tight-end sets, the zone run game, screens, the read option, bunch sets of receivers and play-action pass. The Seahawks ranked 12th in yards (357.2) and tied for 18th in points (354) last season. In their 4-0 exhibition season, the Seahawks led the NFL in yards (408.8).

    What scouts said: “It’s a zone run game. The key to their offense is Russell Wilson.” … “Bevell has been in the same system with the same quarterback for a number of years. It has been beneficial to both those guys. Bevell was relatively conservative early. Only thing that would slow him down now is that inexperienced offensive line protecting his quarterback. If he’s confident in the protection you’ll see him do a lot more stuff. Or maybe the reason they kept all those running backs is so they can just kind of run it and let Russell do his thing off of that. Like the boots and the play-action. Make it that kind of offense because they have such an elite defense. If they don’t screw it up they’re always going to be in the game. Then the offense just has to put together a couple drives to win the game.”

    WIDE RECEIVERS

    Starters – Doug Baldwin (5-9 ½, 189, 40-yard time of 4.48 pre-draft); Paul Richardson (6-0, 175, 4.39).

    Top backups – Tyler Lockett (5-10, 182, 4.35), Tanner McEvoy (6-6, 223, NA), Amara Darboh (6-1 ½, 215, 4.47).

    Notes: Jermaine Kearse, a starter since 2014, was traded to the Jets Friday as part of the Sheldon Richardson deal … Richardson, a second-round pick in 2014, has missed 21 of 55 games due to injury … Lockett, who broke the tibia and fibula in his right leg Dec. 24, didn’t play in an exhibition game but hasn’t been ruled out of the opener … Darboh, a third-round pick in April, hasn’t done much.

    What scouts said: “I really like Baldwin. He’s smart. He runs good routes. He can run after the catch. I thought Richardson was just a guy. They’re all small. They’re looking for guys that can run quick routes and get open. Outside of Baldwin, I was not impressed with their receivers.” … “McEvoy was the quarterback and safety at Wisconsin. He made an excellent catch on a fade for a touchdown (28 yards) in the Chiefs game (Aug. 25). He’s a big-time athlete, and he’s big. He’s their fourth receiver and he’s going to be their red-zone power guy.” … “(Jermaine) Kearse was a little bit of a descending player. He wasn’t a blazer. I just think they’re trying to get faster. The other guys were more steady. He was a bigger target who could make great catches but also drop easy balls. His best days were behind him.” … “Richardson is a little guy, Lockett’s a little guy, Doug is kind of a little guy as well. Lockett is a blazer and a playmaker. Richardson is just straight fast. They’re tiny, thin-framed guys that have gotten hurt every year. McEvoy is an interesting guy, a jack of all trades and master of none.”

    TIGHT ENDS

    Starter – Jimmy Graham (6-6 ½, 260, 4.53).

    Top backups – Luke Willson (6-5 ½, 250, 4.54), Nick Vannett (6-6, 257, 4.87).

    Notes: Graham weighs 260, down from 280 last year. Seattle acquired him and a fourth-round pick from New Orleans on March 10, 2015 for a first-round pick and C Max Unger.

    What scouts said: “Graham is their No. 2 receiver but Graham has slowed down. He’s not the same Graham at Miami and the Saints but he can still run routes and catch, and he tries to block. He still gets downfield well but I don’t think he’s a threat. He doesn’t have the same explosion. As a blocker he just gets in the way.” … “Willson is an H-back. Vannett just looks like a guy. He doesn’t look fast or quick. He’s not any special blocker.” … “I’m going to guess those guys will be Russell’s best friends controlling the ball and then taking their shots with the other guys. They (wide receivers) will do the deep crossers and verticals and the tight ends will work the inside.” … “They brought Vannett along slowly a year ago. He has some talent. It will be interesting to see how they get him in the mix.”

    OFFENSIVE LINE

    Starters – LT Rees Odhiambo (6-4, 314, 5.25), LG Luke Joeckel (6-6, 306, 5.30), C Justin Britt (6-6, 325, 5.10), RG Mark Glowinski (6-4 ½, 307, 5.16) or Oday Aboushi (6-5 ½, 308, 5.45), RT Germain Ifedi (6-5 ½, 324, 5.20).

    Notes: George Fant started the last 12 games at LT in 2016 as a rookie free agent. His season ended Aug. 18 when he suffered a torn ACL … In came Odhiambo, a third-round pick in ’16 who played just 33 snaps at guard as a rookie. He scored 27 on the Wonderlic intelligence test. His arms are 33 ¼ inches, his hands 9 5/8 inches. His career at Boise State was interrupted by two major ankle injuries, compartment syndrome and a major calf injury … In a surprisingly rich deal, Joeckel signed a one-year contract March 9 for $8 million, including $7M guaranteed … Aboushi was an 18-game starter at guard for the Jets and Texans from 2013-’16. Seattle gave him $200,000 guaranteed in March … Ifedi was the 31st player selected in ’16. His 13 starts as a rookie came at RG.

    What scouts said: “Fant looked like he might be their best offensive lineman and he went on injured reserve (knee). Odhiambo has good feet and movement but he is just confused out there. He has no confidence in himself. Not physical. That’s going to be a struggle. It’s just going to take some time.” … “I don’t know what Ifedi is trying to do. He’s all over the place with his technique. Odhiambo is a better athlete than Ifedi but Ifedi’s stronger.” … “The center is an above-average player. Joeckel, who was the second pick in the (2013) draft, is just awful. They just push him around like he wasn’t there in the two games I watched. They have alternated at right guard and neither of those guys looked good at all. I would say the center is the only one that looks like a National Football League player at this point.” … “I’m not all fired up about Odhiambo just from a technique standpoint. That’s where he struggles. He seems to have gotten overwhelmed when people were running stunts and twists.” … “Joeckel started out as a left tackle and wasn’t athletic enough there.” … “The right side is pretty solid. Britt started off as the right tackle (as a rookie in 2014) but inside is more natural for him. Glowinski has come along. He’s not a talented guy but he brings toughness. Ifedi is a true right tackle, just a big mauler without great feet. He should be solid as a right tackle. He has that really aggressive mentality. Cable will do a nice job getting them to be more sound in their roles.”

    QUARTERBACKS

    Starter – Russell Wilson (5-10 ½, 206, 4.54).

    Backup – Austin Davis (6-1 ½, 221, 4.73).

    Notes: Wilson played hurt almost all of last season (ankle, knee). His regular-season record of 56-23-1 (.706) ranks third among active QBs behind Dallas’ Dak Prescott and New England’s Tom Brady. His career passer rating is 99.6 … Trevone Boykin was signed to the practice squad after losing the No. 2 job to Davis, who started eight games for the Rams in 2014 and two for the Browns in ’15. His career rating is 80.8 and his record is 3-7.

    What scouts said: “Last year Russell got hurt early with the ankle and the knee. If he can stay in the pocket and do his thing and just run out of necessity that’s a much better deal for him. When he feels like he has to run and make plays all the time it’ll be crazy.” … “Davis is one of those guys that learns it and is dependable. Boykin was obviously more talented and very similar to (Wilson) but he was such a loose cannon on and off the field.” … “Not only is Wilson a good athlete but he’s an accurate passer. He’s excellent both in the pocket and outside the pocket. I’d try to keep him in the pocket if I was the Packers because of his height. He’s really good. He is a dropback passer. His mechanics are excellent. The guy outside the pocket he kind of reminds me of is Steve Young.” … “Boykin was just awful. Davis is an accurate short-route guy. He’s just a guy.”

    RUNNING BACKS

    Starters – RB Thomas Rawls (5-9, 220, 4.50), FB Tre Madden (6-0, 236, 4.56).

    Top backups – Eddie Lacy (5-11, 255, 4.59), CJ Prosise (6-0 ½, 219, 4.46), Chris Carson (6-0, 216, 4.59), RB-WR JD McKissic (5-10, 190, 4.56).

    Notes: Listed as the starter, Rawls carried just twice in exhibition games because of an ankle injury. He’s iffy for Sunday … Lacy carried 14 times for 51 yards (3.6) and caught one pass for three. His one-year, $4.25 million deal included $2.865M guaranteed … Prosise, a third-round pick in ’16, also has been held back by injury and carried just four times this summer. He had 153 total yards against the Patriots last year … Carson, a seventh-round pick in April, carried 24 times for 102 yards. He is a tremendous athlete … McKissic, an undrafted rookie from Arkansas State last year, was acquired off Falcons’ waivers in December. He was a WR in college.

    What scouts said: “I saw Lacy take a couple big hits because he runs upright. He also has a lot of power, some quickness and a little burst. Weight obviously was a big issue there (Green Bay) but he had an incentive in Seattle. If he can just keep his weight under control he’s got a chance to fit in nicely. Pete (Carroll) is never going to hammer on him. They kind of let guys be themselves. They gave Marshawn (Lynch) kind of carte blanche. Just as long as you read the guard’s tail and you got the hole and your blitz pickup is good then they kind of let you do your thing. They’ll ask him to be that four-minute back when they want to pound it. I’ll say he’s around 265. I think he’s still huge. I think the incentive package was he had to show up at a certain weight. I think they wanted it around 250. From there I got a feeling he kind of got it done and had a Big Mac or two. Those guys can put on weight pretty quickly.” … “Lacy is still overweight. He’s got no explosion. Their backs are power backs. They run well between the tackles. They’re not going to beat you with long runs or get outside.” … “The most explosive guy is JD McKissic. He’s really quick.”

    DEFENSIVE SCHEME

    Coordinator – Kris Richard (third year).

    Key assistant coaches – Michael Barrow, assistant head coach/linebackers; Travis Jones, senior assistant.

    Notes: Richard, 38, followed in the footsteps of coordinators Gus Bradley and Dan Quinn. He coached the Seahawks’ secondary from 2010-’14. Last year, Seattle ranked fifth in yards allowed (318.7) and was third in points (292).

    What scouts said: “The scheme will be fairly consistent. That’s what Pete (Carroll) brings to the table. Whether it was Gus (Bradley) or Dan Quinn and now Kris Richard running it, it’s similar. Kris played for Pete at USC and worked with him there. He’s a sharp guy. He was under the right guy to develop. Pete had his back. He’ll be a lot more confident calling it and making adjustments now than he was early on.” … “They’ll disguise the Cover 3 a little bit with ‘quarters’ and man-free but they are pretty basic. Pete likes keeping it relatively simple and letting those guys play fast and hard.” … “It’s a get-after-the-passer scheme. That’s the key.”

    DEFENSIVE LINE

    Starters – LE Michael Bennett (6-3 ½, 274, 5.01), 3-tech Sheldon Richardson (6-2 ½, 294, 4.94), NT Jarran Reed (6-3, 307, 5.16), RE Cliff Avril (6-3, 260, 4.59).

    Top backups – DE Frank Clark (6-3, 270, 4.71), DT Nazair Jones (6-5, 304, 5.11), DE David Bass (6-4, 262, 4.79).

    Notes: In the trade, the Seahawks picked up the final year of Richardson’s contract at $8.069 million. He has long arms (34 ½), large hands (10 ½), a 32-inch vertical jump and a score of 9 on the Wonderlic … Reed started six games as a rookie after the Seahawks traded up to select him in the second round … Seattle cut NT Ahtyba Rubin, a two-year starter, on Saturday … Avril, 31, has 80 sacks in nine seasons … Jones was drafted in the third round in April. His arms (34 5/8) and hands (10 7/8) were the biggest of any DT in the draft … Rookie DT Malik McDowell, the third player selected in the second round, remains out with injuries suffered in an ATV accident in July.

    What scouts said: “When Richardson wants to play he can be as dominant a pass rusher as anybody. He also has enough girth to sit in there as a run stopper. He will fit in well. Geno Atkins is a good comparison. Before he had the knee Atkins was tough to block one-on-one. Richardson is stronger and more physical. He’s got a nasty type mentality as well. Geno is probably a better foot athlete.” … “Clark had some off-the-field issues at Michigan but he’s physical and plays hard and plays fast.” … “This defensive front can get after it pretty good. It’ll be tough to double any one of them. You’d love to double Avril or Michael Bennett.” … “Reed didn’t have as much impact coming out of Alabama as I thought he’d have. Those guys have a way of getting after it their second year. That’s what’s going to happen with him.” … “They’ll bring Jones along the right way and give him reps here and there. Next year he’ll be ready to go fetch a little bit. That D-line is impressive.” … ”Jones is strong but he is not a pass rusher.” … “They’re asking the two inside guys to two-gap and control the line of scrimmage because they get such a good rush from the outside.” … “Reed can take on blockers. He can control things. But he doesn’t get off blocks. Jones and Reed don’t push the pocket. Richardson does.” … “Bennett is a good football player. He uses his hands. Knows how to shed. On passing downs he moves inside.” … “Avril is still good but he’s not a real tough guy. He is explosive. Clark gets up field. He really has an explosive first step.” … “Bass is a good player. They have four ends that can rush the passer. He has good takeoff.”

    LINEBACKERS

    Starters – SLB K.J. Wright (6-3 ½, 246, 4.75), MLB Bobby Wagner (6-0 ½, 241, 4.46), Terence Garvin (6-2, 221, 4.69).

    Top backups – OLB Dewey McDonald (5-11 ½, 220, 4.49), OLB-DE Marcus Smith (6-3 ½, 251, 4.68).

    Notes: Wagner, a second-round pick in ’12, has been a Pro Bowl starter the past three years … Wright is a seven-year starter … With ex-49er Michael Wilhoite out (calf), Garvin is to make just the second start of his five-year career.

    What scouts said: “Garvin was a good teams player in Pittsburgh with good size and toughness. Now he’s getting a chance to be a regular down player. The other two are Pro Bowl linebackers. They and Kam Chancellor will really run that defense and keep everybody on the right page, even Bennett.” … “McDonald is kind of a tweener, a safety-slash-linebacker type. Runs better than most linebackers and doesn’t run as well as most safeties. But he’s tough and physical, and probably will play pretty good underneath in passing situations.” … “Wagner is their most physical backer. They blitz him at times. Wright and Garvin are more space players. Wright can cover a tight end and a back. Garvin can move in space.”

    SECONDARY

    Starters – LC Richard Sherman (6-2 ½, 195, 4.57), RC Jeremy Lane (5-11 ½, 180, 4.49) or Shaquill Griffin (6-0, 194, 4.37), SS Kam Chancellor (6-3, 232, 4.65), FS Earl Thomas (5-10 ½, 202, 4.45).

    Top backup – SS Brad McDougald (6-0, 214, 4.62).

    Notes: In April, Griffin was selected in the third round from Central Florida. He led all CBs in the draft with an 11-0 broad jump … DeShawn Shead, the starter at RC last season, blew out his knee in the playoffs and remains on the physically unable to perform list … McDougald started 36 games for Tampa Bay from 2013-’16 … Thomas missed Seattle’s 38-10 loss to the Packers at Lambeau Field on Dec. 11 after suffering a broken tibia the week before.

    What scouts said: “When Richard stays off social media he can still be pretty good. He’s involved in every social cause across the globe. Now if he just gets back to football he’s got a chance to still play at a pretty good level.” …“It’s good to get Earl back. We’ll see if he’s close to being the same or if it slows him down a little bit.” … “Kam has always had injuries because he plays such a hard, physical game. They did extend him (Aug. 1, $25 million guaranteed) so he should be happy financially.” … “It will be interesting to see who wins the other corner job. Griffin runs well. At this point he’s more of a tester and an athlete than an accomplished corner. He’ll get targeted. How will he respond to people coming after him? If the mental part of it kills him, and he can’t take getting beat, then you’ll see him kind of fall off. Jeremy Lane really is meant to be a third or fourth corner and a gunner, not a starter. He blew out his knee in that Super Bowl. I have to think his confidence is not what it should be. He was developing nicely as a corner but the injury and the competition has kind of slowed him.” … “McDougald and Kam are similar. They brought McDougald there as security in case they lost Kam once again. He was a starter. Good, solid, dependable, smart guy but he doesn’t run much better than Kam. More of a run defender. Not much different than Kam.” … “Sherman can play press or off. He is just so instinctive and he closes well. Some teams don’t even challenge him. What he does so well is stop and change direction.” … “Looks like Griffin can be a good player. I would think by the end of the season he’ll beat out Lane. Lane isn’t anything special. If I was going to go after somebody it’d be him. The guy who protects Lane is Thomas. He is so instinctive. He has great range. Boy, is he a good tackler. He just really is a top player.” … “Chancellor is a box guy, more of a linebacker than a safety. He’s really tough. Looks like if you can isolate him you can expose him. He is good down in the box.”

    SPECIAL TEAMS

    Coordinator – Brian Schneider (eighth year).

    Kicker – Blair Walsh (5-9, 192).

    Punter – Jon Ryan (6-0, 217).

    Long snapper – Tyler Ott (6-3, 245).

    KO returner – JD McKissic.

    Punt returner – JD McKissic.

    Notes: After deciding not to re-sign Steven Hauschka, their six-year kicker, the Seahawks added Walsh. The Vikings cut Walsh at mid-season after he missed four of 19 extra points and four of 16 field goals. His botched chip shot against Seattle in the 2015 wild-card playoffs won’t soon be forgotten in Minnesota. His one-year, $1.1 million contract contained no guarantees … Ryan punted for the Packers in 2006-’07.

    What scouts said: “They’re not as elite as they have been. Just middle-of-the-road now. Not special. The punter (Ryan) has had a pretty illustrious career there. He still has a strong leg and is athletic. If Lockett’s healthy he’s a heck of a punt returner. He’s as fast as anybody in the league. McDougald and Lane will add from a coverage standpoint.” … “McKissic is a quick, fast, north-south returner. He stood out. Now he dropped a punt against the Vikings (Aug. 18).” … “(Walsh) looked good in the preseason. He has a very strong leg. He kicked off well.” … “Ryan had one blocked against the Chiefs. He had a very low drop. He’s not anything special.”

    The post Opponent Scouting Report: For Seattle it’s all on the line appeared first on Bob McGinn Football.

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  2. TW

    TW Moderator

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    I don't think the pass rush will make the difference. This could end up being a 52-49 game because both teams could fail on defense. I think the difference will be which team comes in with a better offensive game plan, and has players that know how to execute the plan. Bevell is no slouch as an OC in Seattle, and Wilson is a deceptive and a play maker, when called upon to be one. He may not have the credentials of Rodgers or Brady, but he's broken a lot of teams with his ability to scramble around, and make things happen.

    On the other hand, the Packers offense is about as good as McCarthy allows it to be. It all depends on how he utilizes the weapons he has, and deploys them on the field. If he insists on trying to run the ball 50% of the time, we could end up losing miserably. If his game plan respects the run, using it enough to keep them thinking it's there, and relies on Rodgers and his receivers to turn short routes into the equivalency of runs, we end up getting a "W."

    It's amazing how much history, and research McGinn does. He's a true pro at his job. He gives us enough to either agree or disagree with him, but not come away empty.
     
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