3 Questions: With Jamal Adams back, are Seahawks up to the task to stop Buffalo QB Josh Allen?
The Seahawks are heading to Buffalo for an early game Sunday against the AFC East’s top team. Seattle’s defense had its best performance of the season against a banged-up 49ers team. The Bills present a tougher challenge – but with the return of Jamal Adams and the debut of Carlos Dunlap, Seattle looks up for the task.
Here are three questions regarding the Seahawks going into Sunday.
Can the Seahawks’ defense limit big plays from Josh Allen?
For the first four weeks of the season, Josh Allen was in the MVP conversation right alongside Russell Wilson. He was completing over 70 percent of his passes, leading the league in passing yards, and had 12 touchdowns and just one interception. He had two back-to-back four-touchdown games, with an additional three rushing touchdowns. The Bills were undefeated.
Then came the Titans.
Tennessee’s Malcolm Butler intercepted a deflected pass from Allen on the Bills’ first drive. Allen finished with a pair of interceptions and a pair of touchdowns. It wasn’t the worst performance, but it wasn’t good enough. Worse still, it kicked off a stretch of games that weren’t as stellar as September. He completed just over 50 percent of his passes in a loss against Kansas City the next week and hasn’t thrown a touchdown pass over the last two games.
It would be a mistake to think he’s not a serious threat, though. Allen is a mobile quarterback with a big arm and talented receivers. Marcel Louis-Jacques, a Buffalo Bills reporter for ESPN, joined 710 ESPN Seattle’s The Huddle this week to explain what the Titans were able to do so effectively against Allen.
“I don’t know if it’s something that’s happened with him specifically as much as it is teams kind of figured out the strength of this offense,“ Louis-Jacques said of Allen’s last four games. “It more or less started when Tennessee sold out to limit the downfield passing, limit the big plays. And Josh Allen struggled through the first two games of that – being patient and trying not to do too much and be that guy that he was the first four games.
“He really had to remind himself to be patient and take those underneath routes and take whatever the defense gives him and eventually it’ll open things up for the downfield passes… But I think this is a game, especially considering Seattle’s pass defense, where we see more of an aerial attack than we’ve seen in weeks past.”
He’s not wrong. The Seahawks’ defense has faced more pass attempts than any other team for good reason: they’re giving up the most passing yards per game in the league. They’ll be without starting cornerback Shaquill Griffin (hamstring/concussion) this Sunday, but they will be seeing the return of All-Pro safety Jamal Adams and the debut of pass rusher Carlos Dunlap.
So, a defense coming off its bests performance of the season – and adding in a few reinforcements – will face an offense with a dangerous downfield threat and the league’s best third-down conversion rate. It’s a tough task. It’s one I think Seattle is up for, particularly with a good day from the secondary.
One thing is certain: If the defense can limit Allen and the Bills’ offense and have another solid outing, Seattle suddenly looks like one of the league’s most dangerous teams – even when Russell Wilson is off the field.
How much of an impact can Jamal Adams, Carlos Dunlap, and Rasheem Green have Sunday?
The Hawks are getting two defensive players back this week: Adams and Rasheem Green. Adams hasn’t played since being injured in Week 3, but Pete Carroll told reporters Friday that he won’t be limited at all. In the first two weeks of the season he looked like one of the best players on the field, so it’s hard to feel like even a rusty Adams can’t contribute immediately.
There are also some changes on the defensive line. With defensive end Benson Mayowa (ankle) out, Dunlap could see more snaps than expected in his debut.
Can the Seahawks’ offense have another great day without its top two running backs?
The Seahawks effectively played with one running back last week. Chris Carson (foot) and Carlos Hyde (hamstring) were out. Travis Homer was active but mostly as an emergency option since he was still recovering from a knee contusion. COVID protocol kept Seattle from adding help from free agency in time for the game against San Francisco, so it fell to rookie DeeJay Dallas to provide a boost from the backfield.
Turns out that didn’t matter to the NFL’s top-scoring offense. Wilson threw for four touchdowns while Dallas finished with two (one receiving, one rushing).
The Hawks are once again entering a week without Carson and Hyde. Homer will be healthier this time around. They also activated Alex Collins from the practice squad on Saturday, but the lack of running back depth would make any fan nervous.
If there’s one thing going in the Seahawks’ favor, it’s Buffalo’s struggling run defense. Opposing rushers are gaining an average of 130 yards per game against the Bills. A strength of Buffalo’s offense – third down conversions – is coincidentally a weakness of its offense. The Bills are allowing teams to convert on over 50 percent of attempts, which bodes well for a short-handed Seahawks offense.
• First score: Seahawks
• Last score: Bills
• First turnover: Seahawks
• Allows more yards: Bills (a bold choice, I know)
• Final score: Seahawks 30, Bills 17