Clayton: Timing is off for Seahawks going into Week 2 matchup vs Steelers
Timing is everything, and timing is off for the Seattle Seahawks.
On paper, the Seahawks have the feel of a 10- or 11-win team, particularly after the trade for Jadeveon Clowney. But the Seahawks have made enough changes that it’s going to take time to get everyone working together well on offense and defense.
And when it comes to timing, the Seahawks are having to work through those changes during a tough two-week stretch in which they travel to Pittsburgh then come back home to face Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints. Pete Carroll has his hands full right now sorting out Seattle’s defensive line, safety position, and youth at wide receiver and on the offensive line.
Here is what to look for in Sunday’s game against Pittsburgh.
Seahawks at Steelers preview
• Lano Hill is expected to return to the starting lineup at safety. Tedric Thompson, who struggled last week, is battling a hamstring injury and doubtful for Sunday.
Hill was going to finish last year as the Seahawks’ starting strong safety until he suffered a late-season hip injury. The injury required surgery, forcing Hill to spend three months of the offseason bedridden and unable to do much, so he’s been playing catch-up. He didn’t practice until the final couple weeks of training camp and it took time for him to get his weight back. On Sunday, he should get a chance to test where he is.
• This will be an interesting game for the defensive line. Ziggy Ansah is expected to make his debut. Naturally, he will be under some kind of a snap count in what would not only be his first game with the Seahawks but also his first game since shoulder surgery ended his tenure last year with the Detroit Lions.
Meanwhile, the debut of the Seahawks’ other new defensive end, Jadeveon Clowney, was impressive. He was on the field for 48 snaps and created a lot of havoc at the line of scrimmage. His pressure opened the door for defensive tackle Quinton Jefferson to have a career day after the Bengals started to double team Clowney.
Ansah’s initial impact will give a preview of how good the pass rush will be with two Pro Bowl defensive ends.
• Jamar Taylor is expected to play slot cornerback instead of Ugo Amadi. He just re-signed this week and in this one case the timing for Seattle couldn’t be any better. Amadi has a shoulder injury and is a rookie, while Taylor has 41 NFL starts and knows the Steelers well because of his two years with the Cleveland Browns, who play Pittsburgh twice a year.
• One interesting decision to follow is how much the Seahawks use their nickel defense. Last Sunday, the Seahawks used their three-linebacker set twice as much as they went to nickel packages with Amadi playing the slot. Bobby Wagner, K.J. Wright and Mychal Kendricks are the three best linebackers Carroll has had since coming to Seattle in 2010, and it’s hard to tell how Pete will balance those sets.
• Tyler Lockett needs to have a good game. Seattle’s top wide receiver was only targeted twice in the Bengals game and caught just one pass, though it went for a big gain and ended up being the game-winning touchdown. Lockett ran a lot of crossing routes that the Bengals were able to cover, and it’s worth noting that the Steelers had trouble stopping the Patriots’ quick crossing plays in the middle of the field in Week 1. For the Seahawks to win in Pittsburgh, they need a great game from Lockett.
• Offensive guard Mike Iupati (foot) will make his full Seahawks debut after only briefly appearing in the Week 1 game. The Seahawks’ offensive line struggled against the Bengals’ 5-2 defensive schemes. They couldn’t run. They couldn’t pass block. They only ran 49 plays. Russell Wilson only threw 20 passes, completing 14. But Iupati’s presence gives the Seahawks one of the most physical offensive lines in football.
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