Rost: What NFL analysts told Jake & Stacy about Super Bowl, Seahawks
It was a jam-packed week of guests this week on Jake and Stacy, with several ESPN analysts calling in from Anaheim and Los Angeles to preview this year’s Super Bowl. Mina Kimes, Marcus Spears, Keyshawn Johnson and Pablo Torre all took questions on the Seahawks and the big game this weekend, plus we were joined by former Seahawk Lofa Tatupu to talk about where the Seahawks can take a step forward in 2022.
Here’s the week’s highlights:
Mina Kimes, writer and analyst for ESPN
Question: Should the Seahawks be as aggressive in team building as the Rams? Or will they be more like Cincinnati and go out to find a few contributors in free agency?
“I’m not sure Seattle will have the appetite for the Rams level of aggression after their trade – the Jamal Adams trade, which is basically the equivalent of the Jalen Ramsey trade, I think we can all agree that the Ramsey one has worked out better for the Rams – and it would be hard for me to imagine them using that level of draft capital again. So, I think, to your point, their approach would be a little more like the Bengals in trying to identify some key role players, particularly on defense. We can talk about strategy, but you have to find the right players, and that’s going to be incumbent upon Pete Carroll and John Schneider this offseason.”
Question: Pick one free agent to bring back for 2022: Duane Brown, Quandre Diggs, or Rashaad Penny?
“Oh golly… it’s always hard to choose without knowing what their market is. I love Quandre Diggs and I really think they need to bring him back, and we’ll see what kind of deal they can get Penny on, but it’s hard for me to see them moving on from Duane Brown because I simply don’t know what the answer for them would be at left tackle.”
Marcus Spears, former DE and current ESPN analyst
Question: Let’s talk Super Bowl. Everyone’s talking about the offensive line mismatch for the Bengals against the Rams defensive line. What’s the key battle here?
“I think (the Rams defensive line) has the potential to take over the game, but so did the Tennessee Titans… this is going to be about Zac Taylor’s ability to adjust and figure out ways to get the ball out of Joe Burrow’s hand and find matchups you can win quick on.
“But we’re beating a dead horse if we come into this game talking about how the Cincinatti Bengals offensive line is not good. They haven’t been good all year. So it speaks to the coaching staff and obviously Joe Burrow and these skill position guys that win. They win a lot. And I think the most intriguing matchup is going to be between the secondary for the Los Angeles Rams and obviously the talent that the Bengals have (in the receiving game) and even the running backs, even Samaje (Perine), even Joe Mixon in space. Trying to get them matched up on linebackers. And figuring out what you do with Jalen Ramsey: do you shadow Ja’Marr Chase or do you double Ja’Marr Chase and let Jalen Ramsey try to take away Tee Higgins? There are so many nuances. The reason we’re so excited is because all of the things that tell you about what teams are supposed to be in the Super Bowl, Cincinnati doesn’t come up. But it’s because they are so prolific offensively. It’s because they do have a quarterback that thinks about the game in possessions as opposed to how many points he’s down or up. It’s because defensively they’ve adjusted as well as anybody in the NFL at what you need to do get things stopped in adjustments at halftime. This is not going to be a situation – in my heart of hearts, if we’re talking about it I know Zac Taylor and this coaching staff talked about it – if we see the Los Angeles Rams defensive line dominate and just go out and put the lights out on Cincinnati it’ll be because they are too good as individuals from a defensive standpoint. It’ll be because guys are getting beat. It’ll be because receivers aren’t getting open and they’re getting held up at the line of scrimmage. I just don’t see it that way, and I’m going to give this (Bengals) coaching staff, who I’ve seen do a tremendous job of getting this team prepared before games and even at halftime, that they’ll have a plan for that.”
(Spears also had a really insightful answer about his takeaways from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s press conference, specifically Goodell’s answers to questions about the league’s issues with diversity at the highest levels of coaching.)
Lofa Tatupu, former Seahawks LB, co-host of the “BLeave in Seahawks” podcast
What are you hoping to see for the Seahawks defense in 2022?
“Just trying to find out what exactly we’re going to excel at. Whether a suffocating run game, or dropping more people into coverage and making sure we don’t give up that immediate hook area that’s been happening – that’s been a really tough spot that last year and a half or so, I would venture to say since K.J. Wright left the team. And you guys know how I feel about him. We really ran the same scheme but we were just minus him. And he was a guy who was a veteran who helped in the communication that Bobby (Wagner) was tasked to deal with by himself (in 2021) especially when Jamal (Adams) went out after, it was just Bobby and (Quandre) Diggs. And I thought Diggs had a phenomenal year. But let’s let everybody do what they do best. Darrell Taylor, I want to see him going downhill. If Bobby’s back I want to see him blitzing more because he’s one of the most effective blitzers I’ve ever seen from the middle linebacker spot. So just let everybody do what they do best and we can turn this around.”
What’s the best way to use Jamal Adams? What would you like to see this team do with him?
“He has to be in the box going downhill. I think we’re wasting him when he’s back deep. You could do that a couple times, because Diggs is phenomenal – he can play anywhere, he can play man, he can play zone, he can play in the hook or in the flat, he really has a good understanding of the game – but with Jamal you want to let him go downhill and go get it. Whether it’s a run blitz, whether it’s a pass, just let him dictate the terms and go get it. There were times you left him in the hook or left him in the flat and he’s not lost like people think, but he is such a ballhawk that he is going wherever the ball goes and sometimes that’s to his detriment or to the defense’s detriment. You’ve got to cut him loose and let him go… this is a guy that’s going to get eight to 10 sacks a year if you just let him go downhill and do it. And then if he’s not going, maybe play a little more man. We do have the talent to play man defense. I know it’s not something we’ve majored in in the past, but the guys are there to play.”
Keyshawn Johnson, ESPN analyst, co-host of “Keyshawn, JWill and Max”
Question: Are the Seahawks close to being a Super Bowl team?
“I think they can be a team competitive again, but they’ve got to start by one: every other year you can’t keep replacing the coordinator on either side of the ball. Now, all of a sudden Ken Norton’s gone. And I know I didn’t think Ken Norton did a very good job in my opinion as the coordinating went on, (but) I thought Kris Richard did a pretty good job at times when he was the coordinator. I think Pete needs to be more involved if that’s what he is basing his team on. But they need to find that solid running game and that running back like they had with Marshawn Lynch. I know that Rashaad Penny they drafted… reached for him in the first round. But you still want to run the football. They did a good job in finding DK Metcalf and allowing him to be the player he is, and obviously Tyler Lockett. But if you go back to championship run type years, the Doug Baldwins of the world were significant. Doug Baldwin wasn’t a Hall of Fame wide receiver, but what he was was a very dependable playmaking wide receiver, with a young Tyler Lockett, and they were able to be very successful. They didn’t need a 1,500 yard receiver; 900 yards was plenty good. So, when you start to look at that sort of stuff, they need to go back and look at what they were successful at and rebuild that team exactly like that.”
Pablo Torre, host of ESPN Daily
Question: You won’t hurt our feelings here, but how do you see the Seahawks from an outsider’s perspective?
“I look at it as one of those households where a very angsty teenager is constantly stomping on the floor being like, ‘I’m gonna leave! I’m moving out! If you don’t give me what I want I’m leaving!’ and then you stomp your feet and stomp your feet and then Russell Wilson doesn’t actually leave. And you’re like, could we just do this more explicitly at some point? Like, you come up with four teams last offseason: here’s where I would prefer to be traded if I preferred to be traded. Let’s just stop the feet dragging and stomping and noise-making and actually just get to the brass tax of Russell Wilson needs to leave your Seattle Seahawks… I don’t know how at peace you are with that concept, but from the outside as a national media gasbag, I’m just rooting for actual verbal clarity on this so that it can actually finally happen.”
Question: Alright, time for some Super Bowl talk. You just interviewed a guest about the Bengals’ road to the Super Bowl. Did it change your mind about which team you think will win?
“I’ll be honest with you guys: I cannot relate to the confidence of Joe Burrow. And for that reason, I am entranced by him. There’s this question that gets asked every presidential election: Who do you want answering the phone at 3 a.m. when everyone is terrified and panicked and it’s chaos and no one’s ready? I want Joe Burrow. I mean, not literally for president, though I guess at this rate that’s sort of the trajectory. I mean that in the sense of I did not expect that out of this crowded field of candidates at quarterback that the guy I would be most obsessed with at this point in this season would be that dude, would be Joe Burrow… he’s just managing to win every big game that he has played dating back to college. And that mythology taking over within a matter of weeks basically – I wasn’t saying this at all before the playoffs, but now here I am talking to you guys about it – I just find that really hard to deny or bet against, honestly.”
Bengals it is.