JOHN CLAYTON

Clayton: Seahawks can’t afford to ‘Let Russ Cook’ against Washington

Dec 18, 2020, 4:02 PM
Seahawks QB Russell Wilson...
John Clayton thinks the Seahawks need to avoid too any passing attempts against WFT. (Getty)
(Getty)

What was supposed to be an easy month on the schedule, there were plenty of surprises for the Seahawks.

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The NFC East, which is one of the worst divisions in NFL history, gave the Seahawks plenty of surprises. The Philadelphia Eagles’ defense gave the Seahawks problems. The New York Giants stunned the Seahawks with their defense in a 17-12 upset. The New York Jets gave them a week to get things right. On Sunday, the Seahawks have an early game against the Washington Football Team that has become a hot team.

One theme has emerged in the past two month that came as a big surprise. Starting with the games against the Los Angeles Rams and Arizona Cardinals, the Seahawks are in a stretch in which they face five of six teams with defenses that currently rank in the top 14. The Rams are No. 1, Washington No. 4, the Giants No. 11, the Cardinals No. 12 and the Eagles No. 14. When they faced the Eagles and the Giants, they were each No. 10 entering those weeks.

That partially explains for the Seahawks recent offensive problems. Heading into the game against the Giants, it was hard to tell how good they were on defense. They hadn’t faced a lot of top-flight quarterbacks. As it turns out, they are good. They had great coverage in the secondary. They had a good push on the defensive line.

The same can be said for Washington, but you can’t argue about their defensive line. They invested five recent first-round picks on defensive linemen. They have Chase Young, who should win Defensive Rookie of the Year. They have a great pass rush and are pretty good stopping the run.

Danny O’Neil came up with a good number for this game. He said if the Seahawks score 20 or more points they should win. The reason for that is the Washington offense isn’t great and got worse when the team found out starting quarterback Alex Smith and running back Antonio Gibson won’t play. With Smith and Gibson, Washington ranks 30th on offense. They rush for 101.2 yards a game. For the season, Washington quarterbacks are averaging only 5.74 yards an attempt. You need 6.4 to be average.

The Seahawks’ defense has been getting better during this recent stretch. It appears Carlos Dunlap will return. He sparked a big change in the pass rush rushing from the Leo position. After getting only sacks in the first nine games, the Seahawks are up to 36 sacks. Jamal Adams has 8.5 sacks in the nine games he’s played. It should also help the defense to have Quintin Dunbar back at cornerback. Tre Flowers is healthy. The Seahawks finally getting healthy in the secondary.

Dwayne Haskins will start and that help the defense. Head coach Ron Rivera pulled Haskins as a started after a 1-3 start. He felt he could have lost the locker room if he stayed with Haskins. He’s 3-8 in his career as a starter. This year he’s averaged only 17.5 points a start. His completion percentage in starts has been 60.9. He has two touchdowns, three interceptions and 13 sacks.

The key for the Seahawks is to not let Russell Wilson cook too much. There is no way the Seahawks can stay away from turnovers if he passes the ball 40 times.

For his career, Wilson is 4-13-1 during the regular season when he throws 40 or more passes. The Seahawks need a running back and a game plan similar to what they had last week against the Jets. Washington will play a lot of two-man zone. Russell needs to take advantage of the checkdowns and screen passes. If the running game is there, he’ll be able to get play-action pass success.

This won’t be an easy game, but it is winnable.

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