Clayton’s Observations: Seahawks shaping up for home stretch
The Seahawks are coming off their bye week, and a bye week gives a team a chance to refresh the body and refresh the minds.
Where the Seahawks are fortunate is that they had one of the last bye weeks of the season in Week 11. A November bye is very valuable. Those who get bye weeks in the fourth week of the season can wear down trying to play their final 13 games without a break.
For teams with a later bye week like Seattle, teams can recharge and be fresher for the final six games. You could tell fatigue was a factor for the Seahawks in the Monday night win in San Francisco. The Seahawks, particularly some of the older starters, fought through injuries and the wear and tear of 10 games that included two overtimes. That’s a lot of football.
This three-game stretch of playing the Philadelphia Eagles, Minnesota Vikings and Los Angeles Rams will define whether the Seahawks can catch the San Francisco 49ers for the NFC West crown.
Let’s study what might come out after the bye week.
• Coming out of the bye, I was expecting the Seahawks to take a look at Ugo Amadi as the nickel cornerback. On Wednesday, that opportunity opened when the Seahawks cut cornerback Jamar Taylor. Cutting Taylor wasn’t a surprise.
Taylor has struggled in coverage of late. Receivers seem to go at him, and Taylor has been slow in responding. Change was coming. Amadi had two years of experience in the nickel in college.
• For the next couple games, don’t be surprised if the Seahawks stick to a more veteran defense, not trying to put too many rookies out there. The Seahawks love the play and the potential of Amadi, Marquise Blair and Cody Barton, but these next three games are against good quarterbacks and good offensive play-callers.
Putting two or three rookies out there could lead to mistakes that could cause the defense to allow big plays. While Amadi might get a chance to do his thing in the slot, he might not be out there when Blair is at free safety.
• Quandre Diggs gives the Seahawks defense a chance to get back to its Cover Three scheme. Diggs has great range and speed. While he’s not going to be Earl Thomas, Diggs gives the Seahawks defense the ability to play the way they did back when Thomas was on the team.
Putting Diggs and fellow safety Bradley McDougald on the field at the same time gives the Seahawks two play-makers and two players who were Pro Bowl alternates last year.
Diggs was a team captain in Detroit. He was a team leader and a great communicator.
• Defensive tackle Jarran Reed is going to be one of the keys to success over the next couple of weeks. In his fourth game coming off the suspension, Reed had one-and-a-half sacks against the 49ers. That allowed the Seahawks to rush four defensive linemen successfully and drop seven into coverage, particularly in Cover Three.
• The Eagles game will be fun for linebacker Mychal Kendricks. The Eagles drafted him in 2012 in the second round. Kendricks ended up getting a nice second contract with the Eagles and was a starter on the Super Bowl team that beat the New England Patriots.
With the Eagles likely to play more out of two tight end sets on offense, Kendricks will be on the field most of the game because the Seahawks will most likely play in their base defense of three linebackers.
• The Seahawks like what they see out of Josh Gordon, who caught two key third down plays in the 49ers victory. Gordon should get more playing time in this game as the No. 3 receiver. The offense is also helped by the return of tight end Ed Dickson from injured reserve. Tight end Luke Willson is questionable with a hamstring injury.
At tight end, Dickson gives the Seahawks a good blocking tight end. They also will continue to use George Fant as a sixth blocker. Dickson is a decent pass-catcher along with a very good blocker. Jacob Hollister has been great of late catching passes at tight end.
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