In solidarity with Russell Wilson, I decided not to sleep much last night and was oddly drawn into watching a replay of the Seahawks latest nauseating loss to the Rams from last year. It’s funny how memories work (or don’t) when it comes to football. My recollection was that the Rams defensive line manhandled the Seahawks offensive line, and that was the major story of the game. It certainly was a big part of how things unfolded, but what struck me even more was how different the personnel is going to be that faces the Rams this Sunday.
1. Alvin Bailey was the starting left tackle
The oft-injured Russell Okung was out with a calf injury that forced Alvin Bailey to be in at left tackle. Bailey was whistled for a false start early that backed the Seahawks into their own end zone, and was challenged much of the day at left tackle. Bradley Sowell will be the left tackle this weekend. That may not exactly allow Seahawks fans to breathe easy, he is a more competent left tackle than Bailey.
2. Kam Chancellor was out
Kelcie McCray started in Chancellor’s place. That played at least some role in Todd Gurley having modest success running the football.
3. Patrick Lewis was a disaster at center
This was Lewis’ worst game last season. He hiked a ball straight up in the air that miraculously landed in Christine Michael’s hands, or it would have been a turnover. He was targeted by Aaron Donald and Michael Brockers throughout. This game more than any other explains why Seahawks coaches felt like they needed to explore alternative at the center position. Lewis was physically overmatched. No amount of coaching would have changed that. Justin Britt should be a far better matchup, especially for a power player like Brockers.
4. Tyler Lockett left early
The wunderkind rookie missed much of the first half due to going through the concussion protocol. He eventually returned, but missed a number of series.
5. Doug Baldwin played with a serious hamstring injury
There was legitimate concerns about Baldwin’s availability going into this game. They made the decision to let him play after he went through warmups, but he was not anywhere near 100% health. He still torched the Rams secondary for 8 catches, 118 yards and a 1 touchdown.
6. Michael Bennett was a game-time decision
Bennett was having serious issues with his toe and missed most of practice that week. He played despite being what he described as “75% or so.”
7. Bryce Brown split carries with Christine Michael
It was striking to see just how different the running back situation looked. Even Michael, who is still here, was a different player at that time. He had not yet gained the Seahawks confidence and was alternating with Bryce Brown at running back. Brown was the definition of JAG (Just A Guy). Thomas Rawls did not face the Rams last year, as Marshawn Lynch was the starter in the first week of the season and he was injured for the second game. The trio of Rawls, Michael and C.J. Prosise looks far more promising than what Seattle ran out there last time.
8. Jimmy Graham and Anthony McCoy were out, Luke Willson left injured
It may seem silly to put both of those names in the same sentence, but McCoy was injured the week prior and left the Seahawks with just Luke Willson and Cooper Helfet at tight end. Then Willson went down with a concussion in the first half, leaving Helfet as the lone tight end available. There were times when Helfet was asked to block Rams DE William Hayes one-on-one, and the results were predictably terrible. The Seahawks enter this game with a healthy Willson, and also Jimmy Graham ready to increase his snaps. The new face in the mix is Brandon Williams, who is the best blocker of the bunch and a big upgrade for a game like this compared to a finesse player in Helfet.
9. Kevin Smith was the fourth receiver
Ricardo Lockette had been lost due to injury, which also impacted special teams. Kevin Smith was filling in. Paul Richardson was out with an injury in that game. This was the team that Richardson injured his knee against as a rookie after piling up 5 catches in 7 targets for 60 yards, including a 32 yard strike. Seattle enters this game considerably deeper at the receiver spot.
10. Frank Clark was a role player
The Seahawks rookie pass rusher barely sniffed the field in the last game, getting only 11 snaps, per FootballOutsiders.com. Clark got 29 snaps last week, and should see at least that many this week. The Rams have not really seen the pass rush since Clark has been added to it. Cassius Marsh, who also had a sack in week one, is also a new wrinkle for Los Angeles to be aware of.