NFL Team Report - Seattle Seahawks - INSIDE SLANT
Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll knows the best way to show that his team is past the chaos of last week is to win Sunday at Carolina.
As the team prepares for its third trip in three years to Carolina, Carroll insists that the Percy Harvin trade is now in the past, leaving no mess behind that still has to be cleaned up.
"We already have made that move," Carroll said "We're moving on."
Many will wonder, though, until the Seahawks again look like themselves, something they have not done the last two weeks in falling to 3-3 with losses to Dallas and at St. Louis.
Carroll points out Seattle could have won both games with just the change of a play here or a play there.
"The margin of where we are vs. where we could be is so slight that the hope is very strong," Carroll said.
In fact, Seattle had one of its best statistical showings of the season in the loss to St. Louis, outgaining the Rams 463-267, losing largely thanks to three big special teams play by the Rams.
Some wanted to read a Harvin Hangover into the defeat, but Carroll pointed to the way Seattle play much of the game -- including 303 yards of offense in the second half --- as proof that the loss was simply the result of the ball bouncing the wrong way a time or two.
"To see the big improvement on the offense was really encouraging and exciting," Carroll said.
That, in fact, has been a theme all week, that the Harvin-less offense looked like its old self again, based more on the running of Marshawn Lynch and the running and passing of Russell Wilson.
Expect that transition to continue at Carolina against a Panthers team unexpectedly struggling on defense, ranked 27th in total defense, allowing 388 yards per game.
Carolina ranked second in the NFL in defense last year behind only Seattle, and when the schedules were released in the spring, this figured to again be a matchup of two of the best defenses in the NFL.
Instead, it's a matchup of two teams uncharacteristically struggling -- Seattle is ranked eighth in total defense at 324 per game and has given up 23.5 points per game, 19th in the NFL.
Seattle's big edge comes on the ground as the Seahawks are second in the NFL in rushing at 153.3 per game while the Panthers are 27th at 89.9.
Much of that yardage of late has come from Wilson, who has rushed for 100 or more yards in two of the last three games.
Wilson also threw for 313 against the Rams becoming the first quarterback in NFL history to run for 100 and throw for 300 in the same game.
Defensively, Seattle will have to stop the dual-threat of Carolina quarterback Cam Newton. The Seahawks have gotten that done the last two years in wins at Carolina, holding the Panthers to a combined 20 points. But middle linebacker Bobby Wagner, a key part of the effort to contain Newton in those games, will be out with a foot injury.
"Whenever you're playing Cam Newton you have your hands full," Carroll said. "He's done a ton of stuff last few weeks. He's run the ball a lot more than he had, which just adds to the problem of stopping these guys."
It adds up to a key battle in a really key game for the Seahawks, who are already two games behind Arizona in the NFC West. Seattle returns home for two games in which it will be a big favorite - against Oakland and New York - after playing Carolina. So the Seahawks know that with a win Sunday they can get well in a hurry. If not, well. ...
SERIES HISTORY: 7th regular-season meeting. Seahawks lead series, 4-2. Seattle has won the last three, all at Carolina, including a 12-7 victory last season in the opening game of the year, clinched when the Seahawks recovered a fumble at the 8-yard-line in the final minutes. The Seahawks also beat Carolina 34-14 in the NFC Championship game in 2006.
NFL Team Report - Seattle Seahawks - NOTES, QUOTES
--Seattle will get back tight end Luke Willson, who sat out the Rams game with a groin issue, will return this week and should start with regular Zach Miller still out. Miller remains sidelined after having ankle surgery following the Denver game Sept. 21. He will make the trip with the team to Carolina to see noted foot specialist Robert Anderson.
--Cornerback Tharold Simon practiced Wednesday and should also play Sunday. He sat out the second half of the St. Louis game with a sprained ankle.
--Safety Kam Chancellor is again struggling with a sore ankle. He considered having surgery earlier in the year but hoped some changes in footwear would solve the issue. He did not practice Wednesday due to the ankle.
BY THE NUMBERS: 5 - The number of interceptions Seattle is on pace for this season after picking off 28 passes last season.
QUOTE TO NOTE:"I think the intensity is fine. I think obviously in games like we've had these last couple of weeks, it's just a few plays here and there. I think all games are lost off a few plays and I think that anyone that knows football will tell you the same. I think that the effort was fine-I think obviously some of the execution could have been better on both sides of the ball. I think at the end of the day, we had a shot to win in and we didn't make the plays that we needed to do at the end to get the win," cornerback Richard Sherman on if the intensity of the team waned last week.
NFL Team Report - Seattle Seahawks - STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
--C Max Unger, who strained his foot against Washington and missed the last two games, is unlikely to play. He will again be replaced by Stephen Schilling.
--MLB Bobby Wagner, who suffered a turf toe injury against Dallas, remains out and will again be replaced by K.J. Wright.
--CB Byron Maxwell, who suffered a calf strain against Dallas and did not play against the Rams, could be back this week.
--DL Jordan Hill, who missed the St. Louis game with a sprained ankle, is again out.
GAME PLAN: Seattle's offensive philosophy shifted widely Sunday after the shocking trade two days earlier of Percy Harvin. Gone was the package of fly and jet sweeps installed specifically for Harvin, with Seattle instead returning to its bread-and-butter of a steady diet of Marshawn Lynch runs and plays that allow Russell Wilson to create havoc with his legs. Seattle had three touchdown drives of 80 yards or longer in the second half at St. Louis with Wilson throwing for 313 yards and running for 106. Expect everything to revolve around Wilson and Lynch the rest of the season.
Defensively, Seattle has to find a way to put some pressure on Cam Newton. Seattle has just seven sacks this season after making 44 last year. Coach Pete Carroll said this week the team will try some new things to try to get more pressure, which many in Seattle took as the team possibly blitzing more -- Seattle typically blitzes less than most teams, having been able to get pressure with just a four-man rush. But that has not worked this season as opponents have a passer rating of more than 103 against the Seahawks. Seattle has to get Newton off his game while also making sure to contain his running.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH
--Seahawks RB Marshawn Lynch vs. Panthers MLB Luke Kuechly.
The Panthers have not been a good team against the run, allowing 137.6 yards per game, which ranks 26th in the NFL. Lynch has not put up big numbers the last two weeks, a combined 114 yards on 26 carries. But with Percy Harvin gone, he should continue to get a heavy workload and this could be an opportune spot for the Seattle running game to look like its old self, especially if the team can find a way to neutralize Kuechly.
--Seahawks LBs vs. Panthers TE Greg Olsen.
Seattle has given up an astonishing eight passing touchdowns this year to tight ends. Olsen, meanwhile, is having one of the best years of any tight end with 41 catches for 493 yards and five touchdowns. Olsen will get his catches against Seattle but the Seahawks have to keep him out of the end zone.
--Seahawks vs. themselves.
On paper, this is a game Seattle should win. But this is the first real piece of adversity for the Seahawks, who have suffered two straight losses for the first time since 2012 as well as enduring the Percy Harvin trade and its aftermath. Now comes another long trip and a game in what could be a sleepy setting against a struggling 3-3-1 team. How Seattle comes out for this game will tell a lot about its mental state and where the season is headed.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun