Seahawks expect 2 key players to return vs. Bengals
Seahawks getting closer to 'normal' just as Bengals get closer to normal: Seaside Joe 1684
Jamal Adams cleared concussion protocol and was back at practice on Wednesday, setting up his second return from injury in as many games. In re-watching Seattle’s 24-3 win over the Giants this week, Adams managed to standout despite only playing in nine snaps; he nearly had a sack of Daniel Jones (which would have made 12 for the Seahawks as a team), finished with two tackles (including the one against Jones in which he was bonked), and a notable blow-up to stop Parris Campbell for a gain of only two yards.
I would call Adams the standout of Seattle’s first defensive drive, so it is exciting to think of him having more than nine snaps against the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday.
Another key player who was back at practice on Wednesday, a starter who has missed all but the first 38 snaps of the season, was left tackle Charles Cross.
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It appears that the decision to not put Cross on injured reserve will pay off because if the Seahawks had done that, they would not be able to play him against the Bengals this week. Cross would have been forced to miss another game, just as Abe Lucas is currently going through, with the hope that Seattle will get their right tackle back the following week against the Arizona Cardinals.
When I mention that Jake Curhan has given up several bad sacks in his starts, which I certainly noticed by getting beaten inside by Kayvon Thibodeaux twice in Week 4 to allow a sack both times (get beat outside if you’ll get beat anywhere), I don’t intend to start any debates of who is the better or worse between the Seahawks two backup offensive tackles: Him or Stone Forsythe.
The expectation for both is that they are the backups, so getting beaten by top-5 picks is going to happen. But how the return of Cross impacts Seattle’s starting five will be something to keep an eye on, although I would assume that Curhan holds onto the job for another week and that Jason Peters could actually be on standby this time as a practice squad elevation.
Another offensive lineman who looks good to go is right guard Phil Haynes, also a participant in practice after being hurt in Week 4. Haynes played in just 5 of the 55 snaps against the Giants with the other 50 going to rookie Anthony Bradford. It’s been a good opportunity for Bradford to gain experience during victories over the Panthers and Giants, but would be nicer to keep him on the bench for now.
An injury to Damien Lewis gave Olusegun Oluwatimi a chance to get 38 snaps at center against the Giants. Lewis did not practice on Wednesday, so it remains to be seen if he or Evan Brown will start at left guard, or if he will and Brown will move back to center.
Pete Carroll and practice reports didn’t have as much to say about Artie Burns or Coby Bryant other than “they’re trying to get their way back.”
The matchup for Devon Witherspoon against Ja’Marr Chase will be one of the most highlighted of the week and is reminiscent of when Richard Sherman made his first career start when he called out A.J. Green against the Bengals in 2011. Sherman won the day (four catches on 10 targets, 63 yards and a touchdown) but the Bengals won the game (34-12, the last blowout of Seattle for a very long time).
Chase is coming off of a career-high in catches (15) against the Cardinals to go with 192 yards and three touchdowns. Witherspoon was dominant against the Giants with the caveat that New York doesn’t have anyone like Tyler Boyd or Tee Higgins, let alone like Chase. Part of the reason for Chase’s big day is that quarterback Joe Burrow was playing like his old self after weeks of questions of if he should play on his bum calf or not, and Sunday will be Burrow’s second opportunity to “prove” that he’s back to normal.
Cincinnati head coach Zac Taylor called Higgins and cornerback Chidobe Awuzie “day to day” with injuries, the two notable ones to watch for the Bengals.
With regards to their offense, I watched a Bengals podcast this week because I like to hear from the people who cover the team directly rather than national narratives and their feelings were that the pass protection is not as bad as people say, that the real problem is the running game and if backs Joe Mixon and Trayveon Williams are good enough to get the job done.
The Bengals rank 31st in rushing yards, 25th in yards per carry, 29th in rushing attempts, and have scored just one rushing touchdown.
Mixon, who gets practically all of the snaps, presumably because Taylor doesn’t trust anyone else, ranks 24th in success rate (47.6%), 26th in YPC (3.9), and is 37th out of 44 qualified players in attempts per broken tackle (Mixon has two broken tackles on 84 attempts).
The only players who are worse are two QBs (Jalen Hurts, Daniel Jones), plus Zach Moss, Kyren Williams, Josh Jacobs, Ezekiel Elliott, and Alexander Mattison.
The run blocking doesn’t appear to be good (29th in yards before contact) and the runner himself isn’t very good. The Seahawks defense ranks first in yards per carry allowed (3.2) and 6th in EPA added by the run defense (brought down by allowing five rushing touchdowns).
So if the Seahawks can force the Bengals to throw in situations when it may not be so obvious when it’s going to be a pass or run by stopping the run, if Witherspoon and Riq Woolen can lock down two of Cincinnati’s three receiver weapons (not sure if Higgins will even play), it could give Seattle’s pass rush more time and opportunities to get to Burrow.
It may not result in 11 sacks again, but half of that many would still be a lot.
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