What to know about Seahawks’ matchup with Tom Brady and Buccaneers

Nov 11, 2022, 9:45 AM
Kenneth Walker III of the Seattle Seahawks reacts with teammates after scoring a touchdown against the Arizona Cardinals on November 06, 2022. (Chris Coduto/Getty Images)
(Chris Coduto/Getty Images)

The Seahawks are in Munich to take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. A win gives Seattle a 7-3 record heading into the bye, but it won’t come easy, even against a Tampa team that’s underperformed to expectation.

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During The Huddle this week we spoke with someone who knows the team well to figure out why Tampa has a losing record despite being solid in the pass and on defense. Later we spoke with a young Seahawk about being starstruck in the NFL — a moment that could happen for any rookie lining up against one of the greatest players ever.

Here’s what you need to know:

(A lack of) Trust in Tampa

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have a great defense. While perhaps not as stout a unit as they were during their Super Bowl run, it’s still a defense that ranks fifth against the pass and is limiting opposing offenses to just 18 points per game. The offense is top-five in the pass and Tom Brady is second in the league in total passing yards through nine weeks. They have a positive turnover differential and more sacks and interceptions than Seattle.

So why then are they staring at a losing record?

The answer to that question starts earlier this summer when the team lost starting center Ryan Jensen to injury. Jensen was a leader on the offensive line and a player who is close with Brady. In his place they’re starting a second year player with no experience. They also saw fellow lineman Ali Marpet retire.

The result? A rushing offense that ranks 32nd in the league and a quarterback who doesn’t seem to trust his protection, at least according to someone who knows the team well.

Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times joined The Huddle on Seattle Sports Station this week for a preview of Week 10’s matchup in Munich.

“He’s getting rid of the ball quicker than he ever has because he doesn’t trust his protection,” Stroud said. “And I think that’s a big part of this whole scenario. They’ve become very easy to defend… Even though it’s the same offense in theory that Bruce Arians ran, they clearly are not attacking the field vertically. I just don’t think Tom is interested in turning his back to the defense with play action and throwing it down the field. They’ve got some of the fewest play action passes in the league, although they’ve been very successful when they do it.”

Brady is still Brady; last week he took over with less than a minute remaining and marched the offense down the field against the Rams for a go-ahead score. But Tampa’s offense isn’t a powerhouse and at its worst this season has been stubbornly one-dimensional. It brings opportunity for Seattle’s defenders — so long as they can keep the ball out of Brady’s hands late in a close game.

The Brady Effect

Imagine lining up before the ball is snapped, looking across a wall of offensive lineman and seeing a player you’ve watched for most of your life hunched over, ready to pick your defense apart.

That’s Brady’s plan anyway, and that feeling is one the league’s youngest players feel every year. Whether it’s Brady or another star, adjusting to the NFL also means a few moments where you remind yourself that you are, truly, playing in the league.

“We just play Budda Baker. That’s someone that I’ve been watching since I was in college,” rookie wide receiver Dareke Young said during The Huddle. “He’s one of the best safeties in the league. I’ve definitely had that feeling with Tom Brady, who’s been playing since I was in elementary school.”

As a receiver, Young won’t be playing opposite Brady, but rookie cornerback Tariq Woolen will, and he’ll have a chance to snag another interception to add to his impressive tally this season. Brady’s thrown just one this season, but Woolen (4 interceptions) has plenty of season left to set a franchise record for picks by a Seahawks rookie (6).

But back to Young for a moment. Seahawks offensive coordinator Shane Waldron will be challenged with adapting his offense as the season progresses and leaning into the versatility of his players gives him more options. Young is a receiver the Seahawks often use as a blocker, but the rookie knows there could be opportunity down the road because of that look.

“Lately I’ve been used as a blocking receiver and I’m OK with that,” Young said. “Shane is scheming up some plays for me in the blocking game. And I’m pretty sure that’s going to open up to me getting the ball with passes. Because when teams see me run out onto the field they automatically think run. So I definitely think later on that’ll open up more for me.”

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