Heaps: The 2 matchups that will determine whether Seahawks beat Titans

Sep 17, 2021, 9:07 AM
Seahawks offense...
Seahawks players celebrate during a touchdown the game against the Indianapolis Colts (Justin Casterline/Getty Images)
(Justin Casterline/Getty Images)

After a thorough 28-16 win over the Indianapolis Colts to start the 2021 season, the Seahawks return home for their first game in Seattle against the Tennessee Titans.

Dissly: Seahawks’ offense started strong but ‘there’s a ton left in the tank’

Like the Colts, the Titans were a playoff team a year ago. And, like the Colts, the Titans are coming off a tough loss to an NFC West team.

While the Seahawks took care of the Colts rather easily in Week 1, the Titans were beaten quite handily by the Arizona Cardinals, falling 38-13.

On Thursday, former NFL quarterback Jake Heaps of 710 ESPN Seattle’s Jake and Stacy chose two matchups that he thinks will determine whether the Seahawks start the year 2-0 or whether the Titans will get their first win of the season. Here’s what he had to say during Four-Down Territory.

Offense: Seahawks skill players vs. Titans secondary

“What I saw on film (was) the Tennessee secondary really struggled to match up with DeAndre Hopkins, with Christian Kirk, with A.J. Green, with their entire skill group that they had out there with the Cardinals,” Heaps said.

Indeed, Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray threw for 289 yards and four touchdowns while Hopkins, Kirk, Green and Rondale Moore accounted for 246 yards and four touchdowns against a Titans secondary who, aside from recording one interception, struggled mightily to contain Arizona’s passing attack.

What’s good news for the Seahawks and bad news for the Titans is Heaps thinks Seattle’s offensive weapons are better than the Cardinals’.

“I believe the Seahawks have an even better crop of skill players than what Arizona brought to the table, so the key matchup to me is whether the Seahawks’ skill players can feast, the passing game can feast, on this Tennessee passing game, which has really struggled not just in Week 1 of the season this year, but also all of last season as well,” Heaps said.

Last week, the Seahawks had 253 yards through the air and four passing touchdowns. Star receivers DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett combined for three scores and 160 yards and quarterback Russell Wilson completed passes to eight different players.

Defense: The trenches

On the other side of the ball, it’s all about the big guys up front.

“Then I look at the defensive side of the ball and it is going to be about the trenches,” Heaps said. “It is all about the trenches in this game for the Seattle Seahawks defense. Pass rush and run-stopping ability.”

That run-stopping ability is especially important as the Titans have Derrick Henry, who led the NFL in rushing yards each of the last two seasons and had over 2,000 yards last year. But Henry was stifled by the Cardinals in Week 1, as Arizona held the big back to just 58 yards on 17 carries.

Keeping Henry bottled up would go a long way in the Seahawks dominating this game, like they did a week ago.

“You cannot let Derrick Henry become an active participant in this game and allow him to take over. You cannot give him free running lanes, you need to clog that thing, you have to make it difficult on Derrick Henry and wrap up and tackle,” Heaps said. “You’ve got to bring your big boy pads to come wrap up Derrick Henry this week. If you can control the line of scrimmage, if you can generate pressure on Ryan Tannehill, this could be another comfortable lead, a comfortable game for the Seattle Seahawks … It may be too much to ask, but if the defensive line can dominate and control the game on Sunday, this is going to be a very, very favorable game for the Seahawks.”

Listen to the second hour of Thursday’s Jake and Stacy at this link or in the player near the top of this story.

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Heaps: The 2 matchups that will determine whether Seahawks beat Titans