Clayton’s Observations: Seahawks see what Clowney-Ansah combo can do
The Curse of Glendale might be over for the Seattle Seahawks.
Even though the Seahawks haven’t lost a game at the Arizona Cardinals’ stadium in several years, they’ve lost a lot on those trips. The Legion of Boom negatively exploded in Glendale, Ariz., three years ago: Richard Sherman suffered a torn ACL and Kam Chancellor’s neck buckled there. Earl Thomas played his final Seahawks game last year there when he broke his leg. Will Dissly also blew out his patellar tendon last year.
Maybe it’s fitting the Cardinals play in what is now called State Farm Stadium – the Seahawks needed insurance policies for their players participating against Arizona.
Well, the Seahawks ended the injury curse on Sunday. They came out of the 27-10 win without any injuries. Dissly in particular showed no signs of problems against the Cardinals, as he has certainly put the knee injury behind him. He caught seven passes for 57 yards and a touchdown.
More than anything, the Seahawks displayed the team they expect to be on offense, defense and special teams in Sunday’s win.
Let’s get to some observations.
• One of the positives from last year’s Seahawks win in Arizona was how they established the run, which set the tone for their playoff season. While the numbers might not have been gaudy Sunday, the running game worked again for Seattle against the Cardinals.
The Seahawks had a balanced attack, running the ball on 28 of 59 offensive plays. The Seahawks established their punch-you-in-the-mouth blocking scheme, rushing for 115 yards on 28 carries, an average of 4.3 yards per carry. Seattle relied on their running backs, too, as Russell Wilson only had to run two times in the game.
• Chris Carson fixed his fumbling problem. Concentrating on trying to put two arms around the football, Carson prevented defenders from knocking the ball out of his hands. He had the ball stripped from him in each of the first three games, holding the ball in one arm and leaving it open for stripping as he was heading to the ground. Using two arms didn’t limit his ability to break tackles after contact, and he finished with 22 carries for 104 yards.
• The pass rush is starting to show. Jadeveon Clowney had his first interception return for a touchdown of his career. Ziggy Ansah had his best game with five tackles, one sack, two quarterback hits and good pressure. Rasheem Green is showing signs of coming on. And the Seahawks sacked Kyler Murray four times and had five hits on the quarterback.
The big news is that Clowney had 42 plays while Ansah had 39. The Seahawks’ Pro Bowl defensive end combo is now taking control.
• The Seahawks were able to stay in their base defense most of the game. Sure, it helped that the Cardinals only had five active receivers Sunday. In Arizona’s first three games, it was in five-receiver sets 130 of 209 plays. They used more three- and four-receiver sets and mixed in more tight end play than they had so far in head coach Kliff Kingsbury’s debut season.
Linebacker Mychal Kendricks was on the field for 84 percent of the plays while Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright played every defensive snap. Kendricks had his best game as a Seahawk with six tackles, two sacks, two tackles for a loss and two quarterback hits.
The base defense idea is working. The Seahawks only gave up 10 points.
• It was interesting to see Tedric Thompson take back the starting free safety position. Lano Hill started while Thompson was recovering from injury, but Thompson returned Sunday and had 57 plays to Hill’s six. Having Thompson at free safety allowed Bradley McDougald to play his more favored spot of strong safety.
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