The 3 Questions: Will Seahawks let Russell Wilson take over in Week 9?
The Seahawks are 6-2 after winning yet another contest on the road. They’ll return to CenturyLink Field this Sunday for a game against the 2-5 Tampa Bay Buccaneers, a team that presents a unique challenge on defense. Oh, and they’ll also be doing that with a new center.
Here are this week’s biggest questions:
Is Joey Hunt the answer at center?
For now, yes. And honestly, based on comments from head coach Pete Carroll, he’ll probably be the answer for the remainder of the season, because starting center Justin Britt will miss significant time with injury for the first time in his career.
Britt, who has missed just one game since 2014, will have reconstructive surgery on his knee after suffering an ACL tear in Week 8. Backup guard/center Ethan Pocic is also on the injured reserve list, leaving Hunt and the recently-promoted Jordan Roos as the remaining centers.
The loss isn’t just a heartbreaking event for a tenured veteran; it’s also a blow for an offensive line already hampered. Left guard Mike Iupati entered the season nursing an ankle injury and didn’t practice Wednesday due to a knee injury, while left tackle Duane Brown has missed time with a bicep injury. Right guard D.J. Fluker missed two weeks with a hamstring issue and just last week right tackle Germain Ifedi tweaked his knee in a walk-through.
The Seahawks have already had their O-line depth tested. Second-year tackle Jamarco Jones filled in at right guard for two weeks in Fluker’s absence and played so well that Carroll admitted there was renewed competition at the position. George Fant has filled in for Brown, but Carroll seems to prefer him as an extra blocker at tight end. Thankfully for Seattle, Brown was able to return last week, though he was limited in Wednesday’s practice with the same biceps injury.
But just as Seattle saw two starters return, it lost another. Now the team will turn to Hunt, who has three career starts under his belt but also played 90 percent of offensive snaps in Seattle’s win over Atlanta last week. He’ll be tested Sunday against a Tampa Bay defensive line that includes ex-Huskies nose tackle Vita Vea.
“They’re a great defensive front,” Hunt said Wednesday of the Buccaneers. “They’re good against the run. They’re good against the pass. They’re a good defensive front. Looking forward to the challenge we have this week.”
Will Seattle turn the ball over to Russell Wilson in Week 9?
Wilson had just 20 pass attempts last week against one of the league’s worst passing defenses. That could have been for any number of reasons – opportunity (Seattle’s offense barely saw the field in the third quarter), game-planning, a hot start from running back Chris Carson, playing with a big lead, or other factors fans and critics aren’t privy to. A focus on the run is also a core part of Seattle’s offensive identity, and that’s not going to change week to week.
That said, Tampa Bay presents a unique challenge. The Buccaneers are the best run defense in the league, allowing just 68 yards per game, which is 15 yards less than the next-closest team. Meanwhile, their defense has struggled mightily against the pass; they’re 31st overall, allowing an average of 286 yards per game.
Considering Wilson has been at his best in the passing game this season, if ever there was a time to let him loose, this would be it.
Did the Seahawks do enough before the trade deadline?
Tuesday’s deadline was relatively quiet around the league. Don’t forget, the Seahawks did make a move, acquiring safety help in a trade that brought them Quandre Diggs from the Detroit Lions.
Diggs came to Seattle with an existing hamstring injury and missed last week’s game against the Falcons. Carroll said he’s a longshot to play this Sunday, too, meaning fans will likely have to wait at least another week before seeing the newest Seahawk on the field.
The Seahawks needed depth in the secondary, and they got it with that trade – and for relatively little. But while Carroll said the team made a few calls around the deadline, they couldn’t find a deal worth making.
Now, that could also mean the team is satisfied with the pieces they already have. They lost tight end Will Dissly but will see Ed Dickson return to practice this week. And even though they haven’t had the production they anticipated on defense, they’ve got the weapons in Jadeveon Clowney, Jarran Reed, Bobby Wagner, K.J. Wright and Mychal Kendricks. Can they get on the same page in the second half of the season?