The victory against the Philadelphia Eagles was huge for the Seattle Seahawks, but they were brought back to reality when they visited Jacksonville.
The Jacksonville Jaguars looked more talented at almost every position besides quarterback, and they were more physical than the Seahawks which took a toll on them.
In the first half against the Jaguars, Seattle’s defensive performance was similar to their play against the Eagles. They let Jacksonville move the ball on them, and gave up some critical third down conversions, and they bent, but they did not break. The Jaguars’ drives stalled when they passed midfield and only amassed a field goal at half time.
Then the glue that had held the Seahawks defense together all season despite the injuries left the game with a hamstring injury of his own. When Defensive Player of the Year candidate and Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner went to the locker room, the Jaguars proceeded to score touchdowns on three consecutive offensive plays.
Wagner is so special because of his instincts and tackling ability, which is critical to the Seahawks defense because Seattle’s light defensive line relies on linebackers to help stop the run. Unsurprisingly, the Jaguars ran the ball down the Seahawks’ throat when Wagner left the game.
To make matters worse, later in the second half the Seahawks had even more misfortune as one of the lone remaining starters on the defense, linebacker K.J. Wright left the game with a concussion. The defense was already being exposed when Wagner left, but when Wright exited the game as well, this defense, which was once one of the best in the NFL, looked incapable of stopping a collegiate offense.
Up until the Jacksonville game, the Seahawks proved that they were still an above average defense without cornerback Richard Sherman and safety Kam Chancellor, not dominant, but a decent defense. However, if you take away Wagner and Wright as well, I believe this defense ranks near the bottom of the NFL.
With gaps at the linebacker and secondary positions, the defensive line should be the most dominant unit on their defense, but they have underperformed for most of the season. Against the Jaguars for example, they only had one quarterback pressure against Blake Bortles. Put simply, there are no longer any strengths on this defense without Wright and Wagner.
Heading into the matchup against the Los Angeles Rams, it sounds like there is some optimism surrounding Wright’s concussion, but unfortunately for Seahawks fans, head coach Pete Carroll did not sound as hopeful regarding Wagner’s availability for the upcoming game.
If Wagner is unable to suit up, the Seahawks barely have any chance of winning this game. The Rams have made a remarkable turnaround this year, and this is largely due to their high-powered offense. If the Seahawks cannot stop the Jaguars without Wagner, they are going to struggle mightily against a Los Angeles offense that poses huge threats on the ground and through the air.
In year’s past, it would ease Seahawks fans minds knowing that this game is at home, but the Seahawks have been vulnerable at home this year even with some of their star defenders. CenturyLink Field is not having the same impact it typically does, and the Rams will be looking for revenge after their loss to Seattle earlier in the year.
Luckily for Seahawks fans, they still have their healthy, do-it-all quarterback Russell Wilson. Throughout his career, Wilson has had trouble figuring out the Rams defense, but this has largely been due to a struggling offensive line.
Lost in all of the drama surrounding the injuries for Seattle, has been the play of their offensive line. Since left tackle Duane Brown arrived, the Seahawks offensive line has played very well relative to their performances over the last few years. If the Seahawks want to miraculously win this game, the offensive line must somehow effectively block Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald, which is a very tall task. It is a lot to ask of the offensive line, but the Seahawks offense and their offensive line must play almost flawlessly and produce at least 30 points to escape this weekend with a victory.
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