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Seattle enters a pivotal early season matchup against the Tennessee Titans with major questions on offense. They have inarguably been one of the worst offenses in the NFL through two weeks, and will need to take a significant step forward against an efficient Titans offense that will be difficult to hold down playing in front of their home crowd.

The way this works: Each offense will be pitted against the opposing defense and compared on an array of key statistical attributes based on their respective rank in the NFL. The tables that follow show the rank of each unit for each of these categories. 

This series is sponsored by Sarah Heath, a huge Seahawks fan and Hawk Blogger patron. Please thank her by checking out her site and consider working with her on your next home purchase or sale in the Seattle area. She will donate an additional $500 to Ben’s Fund for every closed transaction!

Seahawks Offense vs Titans Defense

The numbers are ugly almost across the board for the Seahawks. Only four teams have scored fewer points so far. Only six teams have fewer yards. This nastiness has caused Pete Carroll to consider some lineup changes. He mentioned it this week on Monday, and the assumption is he means Oday Aboushi will get his first start in place of Mark Glowinski. At least some of the challenges for the offensive line have been communication problems and mental mistakes. Glowinksi was caught going the wrong direction on one play and blocked his own teammate. Not helpful.

Aboushi has started a number of games in his career, and the hope would be that his experience will help reduce those errors. Glowinski is one of the strongest members of that line, so the team may surrender some push in the run game as part of this exchange.

Jimmy Graham may also miss time due to injury. If that happens, look for the Seahawks to be even more committed to the run game than usual. The Seahawks believe they have found something in pounding the rock with Chris Carson. They have been tentative about relying too much on the run game the last year or so, but that might be changing.

Tennessee is suspect on defense. They are neither elite or awful. Their defensive weapons are largely dull blades, but the Seahawks offense has made a habit of making the harmless look deadly of late.

 

Titans key advantages on defense

Jurrell Casey has been a home-wrecking defensive tackle for years. He has not been playing as well to start this season, but he is exactly the type of player who gives the Seahawks line fits. Look for the Titans to match him up with Luke Joeckel wherever possible. The two did not match up last year when Joeckel played guard for the Jaguars, but Casey should be able to give him fits.

 

 

Titans Run Defense by Direction. Source: Sharpfootballstats.com

The Titans have done a good job defending the edges in the run game on wide plays. Seattle will need to attack them head-on.

Seahawks key advantages on offense

Tennessee has a subpar secondary. They have struggled particularly on first downs. They have surrendered an average of 6.6 yards per play on first down, 29th in the NFL. Pass plays have been the primary culprit. Take a look at the passer rating of their opponents by pass distance and by down.

 

Titans Opponent Passer Rating by Down and Depth of Throw. Source: sharpfootballstats.com

If you want to get the Titans, the place to do it is on first down. Seattle will probably come out a little conservative both because they will want to make life a little easier on their offensive line and because they believe Carson is their best offensive option at the moment. Even if they do not succeed with early runs, it could open up some nice play-action opportunities later in the game.

Carson is averaging an astounding 5.1 yards per carry in spite of the line play in front of him. He is among the league leaders in broken tackles. The Titans are a middling run defense. All signs pointing to the Seahawks doing the Armadillo attack with heavier reliance on the run to protect themselves and their quarterback, with some strategically timed shots down field.

 

Titans Offense vs Seahawks Defense

Tennessee has a nice young offense. Their quarterback is smart and athletic. Both of their primary running backs are talented and tough. The offensive line has two good tackles, and good guard play. Delanie Walker is a tough tight end who is a great blocker and receiver. Their one minus is at receiver, where they lack game-breaking talent.

The Seahawks defense fears no one. They started down Aaron Rodger in Green Bay two weeks ago and might have kept them out of the end zone if not for the offense giving it away. The Titans bring a different type of attack into this game, and will test a Seahawks run defense that had a few breakdowns last week. It should be a fascinating matchup.

 

Titans key advantages on offense

 

There is not a lot the Titans offense does not do well. It all starts with their rushing attack, which features DeMarco Murray, Derrick Henry, and fleet-footed Marcus Mariota. Murray may not play due to injury, but that will not have much of an impact. Mariota looks like a star in the making.

Jameis Winston tends to get more attention down in Tampa Bay, but Mariota has shown far better judgment, both on and off the field. He manages to create big plays without putting the ball in harm’s way. He threw 26 touchdowns last season with only 9 interceptions. He has yet to throw a pick in the red zone.

The Seahawks likely need at least one turnover in this game to help their scuffling offense score the necessary points to win. That will be tough against a Titans team that does not give the ball away very often.

Seattle had some uncharacteristic mistakes in the run game against San Francisco. I would not expect that to happen again, but their tackling and gap discipline will be tested against this group.

 

Seahawks key advantages on defense

 

Tennessee has not faced a secondary like Seattle’s so far this season. Few, if any, teams in the league have a defense as solid at all levels as the Seahawks. Should the Seahawks be able to slow the Titans run game on early downs, they have a chance to make life difficult for Mariota on longer 3rd downs.

Seattle also has an advantage in the red zone. Keeping the Titans to field goals will be big in this game.

Special Teams

Seahawks kicking vs Titans returning

 

 

Titans kicking vs Seahawks returning

Neiko Thorpe is likely out for this game with an ankle injury, and the Titans punt return game has been explosive so far. That could be an underrated factor in the outcome of this game.

 

 

 

Thanks to Sarah Heath and Chris Rood for sponsoring this series!

7 Responses

  1. dave

    Interesting comment…. This nastiness has caused Pete Carroll to consider some lineup changes.”. Unfortunately changing players isnt the solution, the last 3 years they have changed too many players, & the result is worse every year. It s time to change some coaches, starting with the offensive line coach. Tom Cable is obviously not a good evaluator of talent, his draft choices have for the most part been busts, Ifedi being the latest example. Hawks should look for a new OC as well, the play calling is predictible & does not take into account team strengths or weaknesses, for example, so many 7 step dropbacks when the o line cant protect. Looking at the defense, its hard to believe the hawks D ranks so bad, 15th in yards allowed & yards per play allowed, 29th in yards/ rush. Both GB & SF completed short passes in the middle frecuently, Sf imposed their will on seattle in the run game. Changing players on the D will not help, we have the best D in the league talent wise, but ever since Dan Quinn left the Hawks D has been performing worse & worse to the point where last year Carroll & Richards were using injuries as excuses. Dan Quinn led the Falcons to SB 51, should have won, & the falcons look like the favourite to represent the nfc again this year, which leads us to the big question: who was really the key element in the hawks sb championship. Obviously the D controlled the game, so i would have to give the credit to Quinn, & taking into account the decline of the hawks coupled with the ascent of the falcons it is becoming increasingly obvious that Quinn is a much better head coach than Carroll. In other words, in order for the Hawks to become a dominant team again, the change has to start with the HC.

    • Esteban

      Amen, especially with regards to Cable.

      Why he is so widely respected as a good OL coach is beyond me; as you say, year in, year out the hawks rank last or pretty near to last on most OL play metrics. And this despite spending considerable draft capital on the OL.

      Pete used to say “Always compete”, but this seemingly applies only to the players, not the OC and OL coach. Too bad.

  2. Uncle Bob

    We’ve worked over the systemic issues of the team in the comments for the latest “Morning After” following the SF game. The repetition of behavior, game tactics, and repetitive short comings of, mainly the offense, but to a degree the defense, haven’t changed much for a few seasons.

    The defense looks to still be susceptible to torture by effective tight ends, the offense impotent in the red zone, weak at third down conversions, and not very wise at counter plays to befuddle a well coached defense. Coupled with far less predictable dropped passes and it doesn’t look good for a game against a rising team. Add in that the Seahawks road game record in the Carroll era is positively awful and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Hawks lose this one by 10 points easily. I take no joy in that view…………..actually it sucks.

    • Doug

      The Seahawks road record in the RW era (2012 -16) is 4th in the league and well above the league average (there is a good post on the Fieldgulls site about it, by Mookie Alexander). I think this “Tale of the Tape” underestimates the Seahawks on D–those two plays by Hyde skew the early-season run D which has been overall great.

      The question really is, can the Seahawks get things figured out on Offense? The line was improved last week but the execution was worse (key drops by McAvoy and Prosise; overthrows by Wilson). The Seahawks are discovering what works and what doesn’t right now, and we may see this sputtering continue until the bye week, but my bet is we see more RO runs (and more designed runs by Wilson) especially early to keep the Titan’s DL under control, and more of the up-tempo pace that Wilson seems to do well with.

      • Dug

        Just to back up what Doug said here, I feel that Football Outsiders does a pretty good job of ranking offensive lines.

        Their final 2016 ranking of the Seahawk’s offensive line was 26th in run blocking, and 25th in pass protection.

        This year after only two games, and with four new faces at five starting positions, they have the Seahawk’s offensive line ranked 25th in run blocking (better by one), and 20th in pass protection (better by five). Fingers crossed, there is hope guys!

      • Uncle Bob

        Shame on me for not being very thorough justifying my commentary. You’re correct about their overall record, when I typed that statement I had the 2 – 10 September record in mind. In that context I stand by my comment. It all goes to the earlier commentary elsewhere about how they are consistently slow starters. I suspect we’re all hopeful that they can pick it up as the season progresses……as they most often do.

  3. dave

    Just watched the rams put up a 40 burger on the 49ers, carolina scored 29 if i remember correctly, hawks 12… we are definitely offensively challenged. Hopefully the coaches can come up with a game plan against the titans which takes the pressure off the O line