Clayton: Seahawks need to find their pass rush vs Raiders
The biggest thing about playing or covering an NFL game in London is adapting.
For writers, you have to use a special adapter to fit the plug in the wall. The voltage is twice what we have in the United States. Players have to adjust to an eight-hour time change. What will be a 10 a.m. start in Seattle is going to be at 6 p.m. at Wembley Stadium.
With rain expected, both the Seahawks and the Raiders have to adapt to what might some tough field conditions. The field is built for soccer, not football. Players have to adapt to the right type of shoes to make sure they don’t slip on the grass. (Pete Carroll, in fact, said he’s made a special effort to make sure the players have the right shoes.)
Here are some things to keep in mind when these two teams meet Sunday:
• Clearly, the biggest headline is going to be seeing Marshawn Lynch going against the Seahawks defense. Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner said he knows Lynch will be doing some friendly trash talking. Doug Baldwin joked that Lynch might try to come into the Seahawks locker room to say a few words.
Regardless, it should be fun and interesting. Lynch is doing well. He has 331 yards on 77 carries and a strong 4.3 yards per carry average. One of the strange plays last week was when the Raiders had a play from the opponents’ 1 yard line. Head coach Jon Gruden called a pass, which was was intercepted. Since 2014, that’s now four times Lynch has been in a similar situation, and each time it has been a pass. Two times, the pass was intercepted — that includes the Seahawks’ Super Bowl XLIX loss to New England, which no fan will soon forget.
• The Seahawks need to find a second or third edge pass rusher to step up and give Derek Carr some pressure problems on passing downs. According to Pro Football Focus, the Seahawks have only been able to pressure on the quarterback 30.4 percent of time, getting 56 pressures on 184 dropbacks. The number might be a little tainted because the Seahawks are coming off a St. Louis Rams game in which Jared Goff was rarely pressured.
• Maybe Seahawks fans shouldn’t worry about Russell Wilson’s ability to execute play-action passes. According to ESPN Stats and Information, Wilson has a league best 156.9 quarterback rating in those situations. Now, it’s just a matter of maintaining the running attack.
You noticed the Seahawks rushed for 190 yards against the Los Angeles Rams, and Wilson was able to get play-action passes to David Moore and Tyler Lockett. On the flip side, Derek Carr of the Raiders has the fifth-worst play-action pass quarterback rating at 70.8.
• Wilson should have time to throw against the Raiders. The Raiders have only six sacks this season, three by former Seahawk Bruce Irvin, who moved from linebacker to defensive end. As a team, the Raiders are giving up 6.8 yard a play. Opponents have a 103.4 quarterback rating against them.
If the Seahawks run the ball well, they should create a game in which Wilson could come away clean for hits and pressures and sacks.
• This is a game in which the Seahawks should win the turnover battle. Carr has thrown eight interceptions, including a league-high five on first downs. With a powerful back such as Lynch, that number is surprising.
• Here is another surprising stat: The Seahawks are the second-best team stopping third-and-short situations. Those would be plays involving third-and-1 and third-and 2. The Carolina Panthers lead the league with 25 percent. The Seahawks are next best at 45.5, according to ESPN Stats and Information.
• Remember when the Raiders were loaded along the offensive line? They had four starters making a combined $40 million a year. Now they have problem. Tackle Donald Penn is on the injured reserve. Guard Osemele Kelechi won’t play because of a knee injury. The Raiders are now starting two rookies at tackle: first-rounder Kolton Miller at left and third-rounder Brandon Parker at right. Miller gave up 3.5 sacks in this first five games, while Parker is getting beat for a sack a game.