3 Seahawks Questions: Can Wilson stop the turnovers against Arizona?
The Seahawks are on a slide after holding the best record in the NFC. Their biggest issue has been the most unexpected: turnovers from Russell Wilson. Wilson has a chance to bounce back – along with the rest of this offense – in a rematch against the Arizona Cardinals this Thursday.
Here are the three most important questions:
Will Wilson ditch the turnover bug?
We know Russell Wilson isn’t a careless and mistake-prone quarterback. In fact, we know – with plenty of evidence over the better part of the last 10 years – that’s he’s one of the best quarterbacks in football. But he’s struggled with turnovers through the last four weeks and this team can’t afford those mistakes. As poor as this defense has been against the pass, Wilson’s four turnovers against Buffalo and three turnovers against Los Angeles were the biggest contributing factors to Seattle’s losses.
The upside? Wilson is often the driving force behind a win, particularly this season. He’ll have a chance to bounce back against a Cardinals defense that is not as talented as the Rams’ stifling pass defense. Yes, he threw three picks against the Cardinals in their first meeting. But there’s an important adjustment this time around, according to offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer.
“We completely trust Russ,” Schottenheimer said Tuesday. “Russ will get through this. I really believe that. But the one thing we did talk about was just simplify your thinking. There’s a lot of things going through quarterbacks’ minds. That’s why you see these unbelievable performers have good games and bad games. And you see a Russell Wilson throw a couple interceptions, a Tom Brady, a Drew Brees, they come out and they have bad games. So, simplifying your thought process. Simplifying your thought process of your progressions, simplifying your thought process of ‘OK, if this happens and I go to break and there’s a chance for me to go run and make a bunch of yards, do that.”
(On Wilson’s end zone interception against the Rams, there were several defenders streaming to the left corner of the end zone and a swath of empty field to his right. Wilson afterward said he should have ran it.)
Will Pete Carroll be tempted to run it more?
In light of Wilson’s turnovers, fans have wondered whether Carroll will want to see more incorporation of the run game. Seattle’s head coach has always valued physicality and a deep focus on protecting the ball, and as such he’s been open about his desire to get Chris Carson and Carlos Hyde more involved. But both players have missed the last few weeks and Hyde will play Thursday while Carson is questionable and is a game-time decision. Hyde (hamstring) was a full participant in practice and Carson (foot) was limited.
It’s an interesting conundrum that would be far more interesting with a worse quarterback. Getting Carson and Hyde more involved makes the offense less one dimensional, but it’s hard to argue that turning away from your greatest strength – your pass offense – is a winning formula. That said, it’s probably too cynical to assume that’s what Carroll wants to do. Adding an extra weapon in the backfield and another element of your game? That’s another story. This offense is more dynamic with Carson on the field not only because he’s a phenomenal talent, but also because it lifts some of the burden off Wilson.
Will the newest defenders make a difference this time around?
Containing Kyler Murray and limiting DeAndre Hopkins will be the biggest keys for the Seahawks’ defense Thursday night.
Last time around, this defense didn’t have Jamal Adams or Carlos Dunlap. The team has seen a boost in sack totals and pressure with the two of them, which is good, but there hasn’t been much improvement in the pass defense as a whole. Granted, the absence of two starting cornerbacks isn’t helping anything. To make matters worse, both Shaquill Griffin (hamstring) and Quinton Dunbar (knee) sat out practice Tuesday and were ruled out on Wednesday.
If there’s reason for optimism, it’s that Adams has had a chance to shake off rust from his first game in a month, and Dunlap has two games with his new team under his belt.