3 Seahawks Takes: Young players who must make an impact vs Cardinals
After dropping two of their last three games, the Seahawks suddenly find themselves at 6-3 after a 5-0 start to 2020 and now, they have a quick turnaround for Thursday Night Football where they face a tough Arizona Cardinals team who beat them just four weeks ago.
Seattle, Arizona and the Los Angeles Rams all enter Week 11 at 6-3, but as the Seahawks lost to those two teams in recent weeks, they are in third place in the NFC West and hold the NFC’s seventh seed, which is the lowest-remaining playoff spot.
Needless to say, if the Seahawks want to win the NFC West and possibly compete for the conference’s top seed, they can’t afford to be swept by the Cardinals in the season series.
Of course, players like quarterback Russell Wilson, linebacker Bobby Wagner, safety Jamal Adams and receivers DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett need to step up for Seattle to be successful on Thursday, but who are some lesser names who need to contribute as well?
Bob Stelton and former NFL linebacker Dave Wyman of 710 ESPN Seattle’s Wyman and Bob were joined by former WSU and NFL receiver Michael Bumpus on Tuesday and each selected a young player who they feel needs to make an impact in the divisional matchup. Here’s what that trio had to say.
Dave Wyman: TE Will Dissly
Heading into the 2020 season, the Seahawks’ tight end group was seen as one of the strengths of their offense with Greg Olsen, Will Dissly and Jacob Hollister all capable threats in the passing game. Through nine games, though, the tight ends have been solid, but not really gamechangers.
Wyman wants to see that change starting with Will Dissly this Thursday against the Cardinals.
“Will Dissly, I’d like to see him more involved, I’d like to see more targets,” he said. “Maybe it’s because he’s not getting open, but that would be a guy I’d like to see not necessarily step up because I think he plays with good effort and everything, but it’s more about him getting more opportunities and being the receiver I think he can be.”
Dissly, in his third NFL season, has battled serious injuries his first two seasons that caused him to play in just 10 games entering 2020. He’s been healthy this year nearly doubled his career games played. But that hasn’t meant he’s kept up the level of production he had in his first two seasons.
In his first 10 games across 2018 and 2019, Dissly caught 31 passes for 418 yards and 10 touchdowns. So far in 2020, he has 13 catches for 153 yards and one score.
Bob Stelton: DE L.J. Collier
After battling injuries and not playing much as a rookie last year, L.J. Collier, a defensive end from TCU, has started every game for the Seahawks so far in 2020. That hasn’t necessarily equated to many big plays from the 2019 first-round pick, much to the disappointment of Stelton.
“L.J. Collier is just a guy I have expectations (for),” he said. “He’s a guy, to me, in order to see some successes this year you have to really focus on him and I feel like man, if a guy is really having an impact out there you don’t need to look that hard, he just pops on the screen.”
Collier’s biggest moment came when he and backup safety Lano Hill helped stop New England Patriots quarterback Cam Newton on the last play of the Seahawks’ Week 2 win near the goal line. Collier later got his first NFL sack, but he hasn’t added much in the stat sheet. Through nine games, Collier has 12 tackles, three tackles for loss and four QB hits.
Stelton thinks that for someone who was drafted in the first round last year and was quickly seen as a bust because of his lackluster first season, the jump in the second season hasn’t been enough.
“We understand he was dealing with injuries last year and he talked in the offseason about really coming in with something to prove, he didn’t like the criticisms that he had heard and read about his rookie season and then so far this year yeah, he’s had a couple plays here and there, but is he a consistent presence?” Stelton said. “Is he a consistent element on that defense where you hear his name called? It doesn’t even have to be a sack, just be disruptive. Just show me some disruption on somewhat of a consistent basis. And to this point through nine games, I don’t think you’ve seen that from him.”
Michael Bumpus: DE Alton Robinson
Bumpus also went with a young defensive lineman, but he chose a rookie in fifth-round pick Alton Robinson.
After being inactive for the first two games of the season, Robinson quickly emerged as a capable member of Seattle’s defense. In his first NFL game against the Dallas Cowboys in Week 3, Robinson had a sack, two tackles for loss and a QB hit in just 30 defensive snaps. He also added a sack in the Seahawks’ Week 8 win over the San Francisco 49ers.
But Bumpus isn’t seeing the same level of play from the Syracuse alum that he was early in the season.
“I feel like he’s hitting that rookie kind of slump,” Bumpus said. “You play a full season and you come out fresh, you come out eager and excited. And I think he’s still a good ball player and he can still get things done, but he’s kind of hitting that slump where things are a little tougher, like the same move isn’t working the way it used to work and you’re taking the bait and you’re biting inside every now and then.”
Bumpus doesn’t think Robinson, who has four total tackles for loss and two QB hits to go along with his two sacks this season, has many head-scratching plays, but he does think the rookie, now that he’s shown flashes, needs to be more consistent.
“You’ve shown you can do it, I still think it’s in there, now it’s all about getting through the tough part of the season,” he said. “In two or three weeks, he would have played a full college season and this is where the body starts to break down a bit more.”
Listen to the second hour of Tuesday’s Wyman and Bob at this link or in the player below.