Clayton: Seahawks will be tested by injuries, suspensions against Cardinals
The Seahawks’ plan down the final month of the season was not to be too young on defense.
Plenty of things changed that plan for Seattle. In last week’s win over Carolina, the Seahawks were down six starters on defense and ended up playing 10 players who were 24 years or younger.
Sunday’s game against the Arizona Cardinals might have the same challenges. Defensive tackle Al Woods received a four-game suspension Friday for PEDs. Defensive end Jadeveon Clowney and safety Quandre Diggs likely won’t play. Linebacker Mychal Kendricks and cornerback Shaquill Griffin will be game-time decisions.
Let’s take a look at the challenge of playing the Cardinals.
• If the Seahawks have to go very young on defense, there could be questions about communication and there could be holes in the defense that the Cardinals could exploit. Lano Hill will get the start at free safety and work with Bradley McDougald.
Getting Griffin back would be huge because the Seahawks wouldn’t have to use Ugo Amadi as the slot cornerback. Instead, 27-year-old Akeem King could handle the slot if Griffin is back.
The Seahawks were so young at defensive end last Sunday that they put in a waiver claim for Terrell Suggs. When they didn’t get him, they signed defensive end Dekoda Watson, a move made before they knew that Clowney could be able to play this Sunday.
The best news for the Seahawks defense is that linebacker Bobby Wagner will play despite an ankle injury.
• Pete Carroll’s biggest news Friday was Ziggy Ansah will play and apparently has been able to play and is at his heaviest and strongest. Ansah hasn’t been able to lift much after recovering from shoulder surgery. He got down to 258 a couple weeks ago. He plays his best at 270.
Ansah missed the past couple games not because he was hurt but because he wasn’t strong enough. With Clowney out, the Seahawks need a good game from Ansah.
• Like they did against Carolina, the Seahawks need to take advantage of the Cardinals problems on defense. Since mid-season, the Panthers were the worst team in football stopping the run. With that in mind, the Seahawks came out running and put together three touchdowns drives to start the game.
They need to try to repeat that against the Cardinals. The Cardinals went to the 3-4 defense after the one-year failure of Steve Wilks in a 4-3. Talentwise, the Cardinals don’t have enough good defenders for either scheme. They got a little bit weaker in the past couple weeks after releasing Suggs and cornerback Tramaine Brock.
The Cardinals are giving up 413.1 yards a game and 6.12 yards per play. They give up 122.7 yards a game rushing and 290.4 yards a game passing. The defense creates very few turnovers and gives up too many big plays.
• Kyler Murray will be a problem for the Seahawks. He’s grown immensely since the first meeting against the Seahawks. He’s better with leadership. He’s completing 65 percent of his passes. He makes big plays.
Holding him to 10 points in the first game was good, but there is a chance he could get more points in this game.
• With Josh Gordon suspended, the Seahawks will have continue rotating their No. 3 receiver to create different plays in packages. David Moore will probably be the No. 3 receiver. Jaron Brown could get a little more action and get a chance to catch some passes against his former Cardinals teammates. Malik Turner is an interesting target because he comes in on certain plays and makes big plays.
• It will be interesting to see what the Seahawks do at backup running back. C.J. Prosise is supposed to be the backup now that Rashaad Penny is out for the season, but his fumble last week opened the door for rookie Travis Homer to get some carries and he made some nice runs. Prosise is expected to be the first back off the bench, but he might not be the full-time backup.
- Tune in to 710 ESPN Seattle weekdays at 10am for John Clayton's show.
The Professor’s Notes
John Clayton hosts a daily video breaking down the latest NFL news.