1. Does it look like Geno Smith will play on Sunday? How much better is the offense with Smtih vs. with Drew Lock?
As of right now it looks like Smith should play. The Seahawks didn’t have a full practice Wednesday after playing Monday night, but Geno was listed as a full participant. More importantly, he was a full participant in practice Thursday. That said, the thing I’ll be watching is whether or not he gets a Questionable designation on the Friday report. My guess is he’ll play, but we’ll see.
As for how the offense is better with Geno under center really comes down to the offensive line. Smith is phenomenal when he’s provided protection, but between injuries and inexperience, the line has struggled mightily at times this season. That has particularly been the case in definite passing situations, and third down and late game situations have been the Achilles heel of the Seattle offense all season. Opponents have waited until the Hawks were in third and long and then blitzed or used stunts to generate pressure and bring about the end of drives. In contrast, in the pair of games Drew Lock started, the defenses brought less pressure and sat back, apparently hoping that Lock would make a mistake.
2. Pete Carroll has been there a long time and has had a lot of success. Is the fanbase still happy with him as the head coach?
This is one of those hot button questions that has those who argue their case strongly on either side. Some are convinced he’s past his prime and it’s time to move on as the team has just a single postseason victory in the past six seasons. Others are more content to let him continue working with a roster that is well stocked with youth and upside compared to seasons past. Of course, it also depends on recent results. At 5-2, he was a motivational genius who is able to foster an atmosphere unlike any other in the league where players want to be. Fast forward six weeks and that atmosphere took a lot of blame for the team losing five of six games. The win over the Eagles has quieted the discontented portion of the fanbase for now, but there are still three games left in the season for things to go sideways.
3. What is the best way to attack the Seattle defense for an opposing offense?
Either by running the ball or throwing the ball. That is, of course, jokingly stated, but the defense has truly struggled to stop opponents either on the ground or through the air at times this season. To begin the year the run defense was, statistically, among the best in the league, but they had trouble stopping opponents through the air as youth and miscommunications in the secondary led to a lot of blown coverages. Then, as things improved in the secondary, opponents figured out how to attack the reworked defensive front, and gashed the defense in the run game.
What it comes down to is the personnel that will be on the field for the game. Bobby Wagner has been phenomenal against the run, but has struggled in coverage. That means that when Jamal Adams has been on the field, opposing offenses can work matchups to try and take advantage of either Adams or Wagner. In the past two months the Seahawks have only held two opponents to less than twenty points, with the Rams scoring 17 in Week 11 and the Eagles scoring 17 in Week 15. In the other six games they’ve played in that stretch, the defense has allowed an average of 30.5 points per game. Interestingly, Adams missed both Week 11 and Week 15 due to issues with his surgically rebuilt knee.
4. Give us a player we have never heard of that will have an impact on this game.
I don’t know if Michael Jackson is a name Titans fans will recognize or not, but he was a starter at outside cornerback for all of 2022 for the Seahawks who lost his starting role in a training camp competition this season. Jackson has earned more playing time recently as the defense has struggled, and has three of his highest snap counts in the last four weeks while going largely unnoticed because opponents have thrown the ball elsewhere. Given how well he has performed against high level competition, it won’t be a surprise if he gets the start again this week.
On the offensive side of the ball it’s likely to be Anthony Bradford, though as the Titans are in SEC country, many fans might be familiar with the rookie out of LSU. He’s battled injury issues through the year and has certainly struggled in pass protection at times, but he has been an absolute road grader in the run game. If the Seahawks run the ball successfully a lot to the right side, it will be because of Bradford and right tackle Abe Lucas.
5. The Seahawks are currently a 3.5-point favorite and the total sits at 41.5 at DraftKings Sportsbook. What is your favorite bet in this game? How do you see it playing out?
The Titans are the first team the Seahawks will have played in six weeks that isn’t currently sitting in a playoff spot, and for the first time in a month the opponent isn’t battling for the top overall seed in the conference. With that in mind, while I do have some concerns about a letdown, I think they’ll cover in a game that is closer and tighter than a lot of fans would prefer. I expect Seattle will rely more on the running game than they have so far this season in order to avoid exposing Smith’s injured groin to unnecessary risk, and that will combine with the questions at quarterback for the Titans to lead to low enough scoring that I don’t think the over will hit. My guess is things end with something like a 23-16 score with a whole lot of field goals.
A huge thanks to John for taking the time to answer the questions. Head over to Field Gulls to see his questions with my answers.