Dave Wyman’s 3 Patriots players to watch for against the Seahawks
After taking care of business against the Atlanta Falcons in a Week 1 road win, the Seahawks return home and face a much different challenge in the New England Patriots.
The Seahawks and Patriots both enter the Sunday Night Football showdown at 1-0, with New England beating the Miami Dolphins 21-11 in its season opener. Now, the Patriots travel to the Pacific Northwest for the first meeting between these teams since a primetime thriller in Foxboro in 2016, which the Seahawks won 31-24 thanks to a fourth-down stop in the endzone at the end of regulation.
The Patriots are a perennial playoff team and they have a mix of new and impressive faces as well as some key returning players who make life very difficult for their opposition. On Friday, former NFL linebacker Dave Wyman of 710 ESPN Seattle’s Bob, Dave and Moore picked three Patriots players to watch for when they take on the Seahawks on Sunday night.
QB Cam Newton
Gone is legendary quarterback Tom Brady, who is now tossing passes for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and in is former NFL MVP Cam Newton, the longtime Carolina Panthers quarterback.
In his first game with the Patriots, he didn’t do much through the air, completing 15 of 19 passes for 155 yards and no touchdowns, but he made a huge impact with his legs, leading all players with 15 rushes, 75 yards and two touchdowns and helped New England’s run-first offense rush for over 200 yards.
The Seahawks haven’t seen Newton in person in New England’s offense, but they have plenty of familiarity with him from his time in Carolina.
“I went with Cam Newton, of course, just because we’ve faced him so many times … It’s his 10th year and he’s a career 60% passer, so to me, Cam Newton doesn’t necessarily beat you through the air,” Wyman said. “But the reason I brought him up is he has 60 rushing touchdowns now, and the next closest (of all quarterbacks in NFL history) is Steve Young with 43.”
— New England Patriots (@Patriots) September 13, 2020
For his career, Newton has 182 passing touchdowns, 108 interceptions, over 29,000 passing yards and roughly 5,000 rushing yards. In addition to the statistics, he’s just a physical threat.
“The first thing you notice about him, he is flipping huge. Down on the field, he’s just one of those guys who looks 6-foot-7 and 280 pounds in his uniform,” Wyman said.
Newton did a lot of designed runs, including read options, while with the Panthers, but Wyman said he looked different and improved at it last week against the Dolphins.
“I think a couple of the things he’s gotten better at, and that’s what kind of might cause a challenge for the Seahawks, is that it’s almost like he was studying (Baltimore Ravens quarterback and 2019 MVP) Lamar Jackson in the offseason because he runs that read option, which he’s run before … and he was fooling the Miami defense pretty well,” Wyman said. “He looked really good, so that’s going to be something that they’re going to have to really (aware of) … That guy poses a threat.”
CB Stephon Gilmore
On the other side of the ball, Wyman went straight to the Patriots’ best defensive player, cornerback Stephon Gilmore.
“Stephon Gilmore is the other obvious one,” he said. “It’s his ninth year and he was defensive MVP last year.”
The Patriots had a top defense in 2019 and Gilmore was a huge reason why. He picked off six passes, broke up 20 more, gave up no touchdowns in coverage and opposing quarterbacks had a 44.1 passer rating when targeting him. He earned First-Team All-Pro honors for the second year in a row as well.
Gilmore got off to a good start in Week 1, recording an interception and playing well in coverage yet again.
— New England Patriots (@Patriots) September 13, 2020
“He’s just a really good player,” Wyman said. “They make me kind of nervous, this defensive backfield.”
Gilmore, who stands 6-1 and has long arms, is expected to match up with second-year Seahawks receiver DK Metcalf.
CB J.C. Jackson
The third player Wyman talked about (thanks to a tip from show producer Maura Dooley) is far less known than Newton and Gilmore, but is slowly but surely making a name for himself in the NFL, and that’s cornerback J.C. Jackson, who is now in his third NFL season. Simply put, the guy finds the football.
“The guy has played 30 games, had 11 starts, and he’s got nine interceptions,” Wyman said. “… Last week he got an interception and played in 75% of the snaps, but it was basically the interception that sealed the deal against Miami.”
Jackson, an undrafted rookie free agent in 2018, has quietly developed into quite the weapon for head coach Bill Belichick’s defense, and while Gilmore gets most of the love and attention in that secondary along with twin brothers Devin and Jason McCourty, Jackson is impressing many around the league, including his All-Pro teammate.
“The other thing I read about him is Stephon Gilmore – and this is high praise – he says he can cover anybody,” Wyman said. “So check out J.C. Jackson as well. They’ve just got this plethora if you will of defensive backs.”
With Gilmore expected to line up against Metcalf for most of the game, Jackson may wind up defending the Seahawks’ 1,000-yard receiver Tyler Lockett when the teams face off on Sunday.
Listen to the second hour of Friday’s Bob, Dave and Moore at this link or in the player below.