Seahawks keys to victory vs Eagles: Air it out and pressure Carson Wentz
The Seahawks travel out east to play the Philadelphia Eagles Sunday at 10 a.m on 710 ESPN Seattle and KIRO Radio 97.3 FM.
While it won’t be a Sunday night primetime matchup like initially scheduled, it does pit two teams with playoff hopes against each other at a critical point of the season.
The Seahawks are 8-2 and are coming off the team’s bye week. They sit one game behind the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC West race. The Seahawks currently hold a Wild Card spot but could end the season with both the divisional lead and a first-round bye – maybe even homefield advantage in the playoffs as the NFC’s No. 1 seed.
For the 5-5 Eagles, the team sits one game behind the Dallas Cowboys in the NFC East race and are coming off a disappointing 17-10 home loss to the New England Patriots.
So, what do the Seahawks need to do to win on Sunday?
Jake Heaps of Tom, Jake and Stacy thinks it’s simple: The Seahawks’ offense needs to be pass-oriented and the defense needs to put pressure on the quarterback like they did in Week 10 against the San Francisco 49ers.
“That’s what it needs to be,” Heaps said of being a pass-first offense on Sunday. “Because you have the Eagles that are the fourth-ranked rushing defense and they are very good in that area and then on top of that they have the 19th-ranked passing defense.”
The Seahawks have historically been a run-first team since Pete Carroll became head coach in 2009, but this year, quarterback Russell Wilson is playing his best football and is a front-runner for the NFL’s MVP award. Wilson leads the league in passing touchdowns with 23, is near the top in completion percentage at 68.5 percent and has thrown just two interceptions.
Running back Chris Carson has good numbers this year, but his season has been up and down. Carson is seventh in the NFL in rushing yards with 853 yards, has four rushing scores and is averaging 4.3 yards per carry, but he also has fumbled six times, four of which have been lost. He is second in the league in carries per game with 20.
While the Seahawks would love to be run-first on offense this weekend, Heaps thinks the numbers show the passing attack needs to lead the way.
“This is another clear advantage for the Seahawks in terms of where the strengths and weaknesses are for the Eagles,” he said.
On the other side of the ball, Heaps said the Eagles’ offense is lacking in healthy skill position players and that their offensive line could be without its best player in right tackle Lane Johnson. Running back Jordan Howard and wide receiver Alshon Jeffrey both missed last Sunday’s contest and the team will be without running back Darren Sproles and receiver DeSean Jackson for the rest of the season due to injuries.
If the Seahawks can pressure quarterback Carson Wentz like how they pressured San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, it would make a Seahawks victory that much more obtainable.
“If you can get after Carson Wentz and pressure him, you’re going to force him into making major errors and making him inaccurate,” Heaps said.
Wentz was under duress against the Patriots and was sacked five times. Wentz completed just 50 percent of his passes against New England and had a QBR rating of 38.2 out of 100. His passer rating was just 74.4.
Seattle’s pass rush entered last Monday with just 15 sacks on the year, but Jadeveon Clowney and company left with five more as well as several quarterback hits and pressures. The defensive line also forced two fumbles, recovering both, one of which Clowney ran back for a touchdown.
Listen to the segment at this link or in the player below at the 17:39 mark.