The Opposite Sideline: Seahawks shaky
Each Thursday morning, Press-Gazette Media will get the lowdown on the Packers' next opponent from a beat writer who covers that team.
Little has gone right for the Seattle Seahawks since their stunning comeback to beat the Green Bay Packers 28-22 in overtime in the NFC championship game last season.
The Seahawks lost Super Bowl XLIX in equally shocking fashion to the New England Patriots, then lost star strong safety Kam Chancellor to a contract holdout. A season-opening, 34-31 overtime loss at the St. Louis Rams means the Seahawks must beat the Packers on the road Sunday night to avoid an 0-2 start.
We asked beat writer Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times to answer a few questions about what the Packers can expect from the Seahawks:
1. What were the main issues for the Seahawks in their loss to the Rams?
BC: "They had a number of them. They were sloppy in some areas, they gave up a 75-yard punt return (to Tavon Austin), the defense looked a little out of sorts … Everyone wants to say it's all Kam Chancellor being gone; it's probably not quite that simple, but certainly that had a little bit of an impact.
"Their pass defense just wasn't that great. They gave up eight passes of more than 20 yards … it was the most average yards per reception (16.5) for an opponent in more than a year (the highest they allowed in 2014 was 14.3). And obviously, the tying touchdown there at the end (with 53 seconds left in regulation).
"This is the third time in four years they've lost (in St. Louis), and the year they won the Super Bowl it went down to a fourth-down play. Their games against the Rams always tend to be tough, physical games there.
"The other big issue obviously is Seattle's offensive line is in flux and has three guys at new positions. So that was an issue. Russell Wilson got sacked six times and was under pressure all game. "
2. How did center (and Green Bay native) Drew Nowak fare in his first start replacing Max Unger?
BC: "He did OK. Everyone's panicking out here, but he's never played center in a regular-season game before, and that's a tough matchup going against (Rams defensive tackle) Aaron Donald. A lot of people are going to struggle against Aaron Donald. He had some struggles. The snaps at times were probably a little inconsistent getting back to Russell; they do an awful lot of shotgun. That definitely was noticeable at times."
3. How are the Seahawks dealing with their stunning loss to the Patriots in the final seconds of the Super Bowl?
BC: "I haven't gotten the sense that the Super Bowl loss is a big deal; guys move on from things like that fairly quickly. That's going to be hanging over their heads, no doubt, until I guess they win another one. That you were that close to winning a second one and didn't get it done."
4. There's a lot of concern about the Packers' run defense. Will the Seahawks try to pound the ball on the ground?
BC: "That's what they do against everybody. They've spent the last couple of years being the NFL leader in run/pass percentage, they run it more than anybody. So that's always their strategy regardless, but certainly if they see a defense that looks vulnerable, I think they'll go in and try to do it even more. It sort of comes down to their offensive line being able to get that done."
5. On defense, how will the Seahawks try to cope with Aaron Rodgers, Eddie Lacy and the Packers' offense?
BC: "The secondary is the big question defensively for the Seahawks right now, without Kam Chancellor being there and then breaking in a new corner in Cary Williams (acquired to replace Byron Maxwell, who signed with the Eagles). … They still feel like they're really strong at corner with Williams and Richard Sherman. (Safety) Earl Thomas, that was his first game since having had surgery after the Super Bowl, he didn't play in the preseason and it might have taken him a little while to get into things against the Rams. They still should be pretty solid back there, but their zone defense, their linebacker coverage wasn't real great, that's what the Rams were able to exploit, the tight ends made some big plays.
"The last couple of games against Rodgers have been in Seattle, so it will be a different sort of dynamic with it being there. Like most teams, they probably rush the passer a bit better at home than they do on the road because of the sound and all that kind of stuff. It'll be interesting to see, if Green Bay gives Rodgers a little more time, what a test that will be for the secondary."
6. How important is this game for the Seahawks, given that they lost their opener? Would an 0-2 start be cause for panic?
BC: "The fans are already panicking. Every fan base panics when they lose a game anymore. From the fans' standpoint, there's already that sense of 'yeah, we really need to avoid going 0-2.' I think the team would be pretty pragmatic about how, the good thing about starting off with two tough road trips is you get them out of the way, everybody's got to play these games eventually. They were 3-3 last year and when they were 6-4 they were three games back in the division and everyone was saying how it was going to be hard to come back and win the division, and they did it. I think the team would draw on that experience and say there's still a lot of season left. But certainly, from a fan standpoint, getting a win here would quiet things down an awful lot."
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