JOHN CLAYTON

Clayton: Why banged-up, struggling Seahawks have a shot vs Steelers

Oct 15, 2021, 2:37 PM | Updated: 5:15 pm
Seahawks Alex Collins...
Alex Collins of the Seattle Seahawks celebrates with Duane Brown and Colby Parkinson after running for a touchdown against the San Francisco 49ers on Oct. 3. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
(Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

First of all, everyone knows the Seahawks’ Sunday night game is going to be tough because Russell Wilson won’t be able to play due to his fractured middle finger.

Two Takes: The most important Seahawks while Wilson is out

Geno Smith can do a good job at quarterback like he did last week, but he doesn’t come close to the skillset of Wilson. Wilson is one of the best quarterbacks in the league, and anytime any team goes to a backup quarterback there is going to be a dropoff.

Things got worse Friday when the Seahawks learned halfback Chris Carson won’t be able to play because of his sore neck. They also found out Cedric Ogbuehi will be a scratch with a biceps injury. That means they go into the game without their best running back and backup swing tackle. If any tackle goes down in the game, they are in that much more trouble.

Related: Why the Seahawks’ running game is especially critical now

Everyone knows that the key to this game is for the defense to play well. We don’t know if the defense has figured out how to fix its problems over the past week. The biggest issue is how the defensive backs aren’t meshing with the linebackers. That leaves the team wide open for crossing patterns and relatively easy throws in the middle of the field.

The Seahawks will face Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger, who he gets rid of the ball quickly and take advantage of plays in the middle of the field. Roethlisberger got off to a slow start. In three of his first four games, he threw for less than six yards per attempt. But against the Denver Broncos last week, he opened the game with 23- and 50-yard completions on the first drive as Pittsburgh went on to win 24-7 over the Denver Broncos.

It appears this is Roethlisberger’s last year in the league. He’s 39 and showing his age. Injuries continue to creep into his game. Before the season he had an honest meeting with the front office and ownership. He said he felt that if he wasn’t ready to try to take this team to the playoffs or the Super Bowl, he would retire. They wanted him to return. He even took a paycut to $25 million.

But the most interesting thing about this season is “Big Ben” isn’t allowed to be “Big Ben.” Matt Canada is the Steelers’ new offensive coordinator, and he’s not allowing Roethlisberger to call audibles or go no-huddle. Roethlisberger’s best success has been being creative in a no-huddle offense and using his entire playbook with audibles.

It will be interesting to see how the Seahawks’ defensive line will do against the Steelers’ young offensive line. Usually Roethlisberger has played behind a line that has had as many as three Pro Bowlers. Now he has a completely revamped line that has two rookies and no big names. One thing the Steelers have is Najee Harris, though, and he’s a beast at running back.

Geno Smith will be going against the Steelers’ defense that is very good, but it’s not been great and will be without Stephon Tuitt and Tyson Alualu because of injuries. Those are key defensive ends to their three-man defensive line. Linebacker T.J. Watt is the highest-paid defensive player in the NFL but he hasn’t been good the past 2 1/2 games because of a leg injury. Devin Bush is a great young inside linebacker but has been on and off the field because of a groin injury. That’s why the Steelers haven’t been getting the sacks they usually expect.

Still, with the state of the Seahawks, this is going to be a tough one.

Salk: Big answers about Seahawks are coming with Russell Wilson sidelined

The John Clayton Memorial Fund

Benefitting the Multiple Sclerosis Society

The Professor's Notes

John Clayton hosts a daily video breaking down the NFL

John Clayton

John Clayton Memorial Fund...
No Author

John Clayton Memorial Fund benefiting the Multiple Sclerosis Society

Seattle Sports and Bonneville International are honored to announce the “John Clayton Memorial Fund.” The John Clayton Memorial Fund will benefit the Multiple Sclerosis Society.
9 months ago
Seahawks Russell Wilson, DK Metcalf...
John Clayton

Clayton: What’s next for Seahawks after kicking off ‘major’ rebuild

After some major moves, John Clayton breaks down what the next things to watch for with the Seahawks are heading into the new league year.
9 months ago
Seahawks Russell Wilson...
John Clayton

Clayton: Won’t be easy for Seahawks to replace Wilson after surprising trade

After a surprising trade he never thought would happen, John Clayton shares his immediate reaction to the Seahawks' trade of Russell Wilson.
9 months ago
Seahawks Action Green...
John Clayton

Clayton: Why you shouldn’t worry about salary cap with Seahawks this offseason

Seahawks fans and followers are worried about how they can re-sign players and stay under the salary cap. John Clayton says they shouldn't be.
9 months ago
Seahawks Russell Wilson, Pete Carroll...
John Clayton

Clayton: The big news from Seahawks, NFC West as combine begins

Wednesday was a big news day for the Seahawks and the NFC West. John Clayton breaks down what's going on in Seattle's division.
9 months ago
Seahawks Rashaad Penny Russell Wilson Chris Carson...
John Clayton

Clayton: How RBs in NFL Draft should help Seahawks this offseason

The Seahawks should be looking to bring Rashaad Penny back, but a loaded class of running backs is likely to help them in a few ways.
9 months ago
Clayton: Why banged-up, struggling Seahawks have a shot vs Steelers