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Vision Board: Seahawks-Lions
Ken Walker, Zach Charbonnet "drive" back to Michigan: Seaside Joe 1659
Last week’s vision board against the Los Angeles Rams was very hurtful. It was like a great first date followed up by a restraining order.
I envisioned that DK Metcalf would have a dominant performance with 150 yards and two scores, which looked prescient following an early 47 yards with a score. But then DK was completely shutout in the second half, so frustrated that he took the k.o. out of Ahkello and left him in ‘a hell’.
My special teams vision was soaring in the stratosphere with a Michael Dickson punt in the first half—blocked field goal, good punt return, Dickson leads all NFL punters with a 59 yard average and a long of 73—but then Jason Myers had a miss that would have given the Seahawks a two score lead at halftime and Seattle allowed two touchbacks that could have pinned L.A. deep.
And then I wrote that the Seahawks would sack Matthew Stafford eight times, which I know is a lot to ask for and I probably could have cut that in half and it still would have been great. If I had said four sacks, then Seattle would have only been four shy instead of eight shy.
It was foolish of me to think that the $96 million invested in Uchenna Nwosu and Dre’Mont Jones or the second round picks invested in Boye Mafe, Darrell Taylor, and Derick Hall, might give the Seahawks an advantage over an offensive line essentially starting four players who had never opened a season as a starter before.
Vision Score: 0.50/3.00
Special teams and DK were working early, but ultimately I couldn’t earn more than half-a-point for my visions in Week 1.
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Last week, we worked with famous movie scenes to fuel our visions. This week, the Seahawks head to the motor city, so let’s watch some famous movie car scenes as we envision three things that will work for Seattle against the Detroit Lions.
Ken Walker III shoots through defense like a Bullitt
Debate topic: Who is the coolest male actor in movie history?
Not “Who is the best actor?” but who exudes more coolness than his counterparts, which doesn’t necessarily have to be mutually exclusive with being a great actor. Some names that come to mind include Paul Newman, Marlon Brando, Charles Bronson, and if forced to pick someone recent, maybe Ryan Gosling.
This is probably also closely associated with stoicness, appearing fearless in the most dire of situations, which I think actors like Newman and Gosling have highlighted by combining certain character choices with some really good movies like Cool Hand Luke and Drive.
But “coolest” actor? If Hollywood were high school and I was forced to hand out that superlative, I think it would be hard to vote against Steve McQueen.
Like a great running back, McQueen has not one but many skills that set him apart from the crowd. Not only is 1968’s Bullitt considered to have the greatest car chase scene of all-time, but McQueen, an avid race car driver in real life, did many of the chase scenes himself. He also raced off-road motorcycles, flew planes, and was branded as the “King of Cool”.
Well, the Seahawks are going to need Ken Walker III to make a great escape through the clutches of Lions defenders and burst like a Bullitt at the first sign of any open lanes on Sunday, if Seattle is going to have a chance of winning this week.
Playing 100 miles from Detroit during his lone season at Michigan State, Walker had a dominant junior season for the Spartans with 1,636 yards, 18 touchdowns, 6.2 YPC, and four games with at least 170. The Seahawks would love to see his big-game, big-run abilities on display in Week 2. Walker did have runs of 13 yards and 15 yards in the second quarter of the loss to the Rams, plays we tend to forget about when a team loses, but the Lions defense is ripe for bigger mistakes than that.
Here he is putting Aaron Donald on a slip-and-slide:
Last season, Rashaad Penny rushed for 151 yards on only 17 carries, including a long of 41, against Detroit. The year before, he had 170 yards on 25 carries with a long of 37. That’s 42 carries and 321 yards in two games against the Lions, both contests coming against defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn, who is still at the helm for Dan Campbell.
Comparing Walker to Penny is maybe like comparing Leonardo DiCaprio to Brad Pitt: Different skills and better to complement them (like in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood) than compare them, but I think your project is going to be a success either way if the script is great.
Speaking of complement, Walker isn’t the only Seahawks running back who played some of his college football in the state of Michigan, and I have no problem transferring some, any, or a lot of this production to Zach Charbonnet. Seattle could use his receiving skills this week, as I wrote in a recent bonus article.
The Vision: Ken Walker has 120 rushing yards and a long of 40.
The Lions had a bottom three run defense in 2022 and I don’t see what they did exactly to dramatically improve that part of their team. Our only sample from this season is against the Chiefs, not a team known for rushing, and their two lead backs had 14 carries for 45 yards against Detroit. If the Seahawks don’t have a reason to abandon the run in the second half, I see Walker and Charbonnet (and potentially DeeJay Dallas) getting well over the 100 mark in Week 2.
Seahawks put bad offense in reverse - Double first downs
The art of the “driving backwards” car chase scene has been done many times, with one of my personal favorites coming from Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation in 2015.
The Seahawks went completely backwards in Week 1, going from a team that ranked ninth in points, 10th in passing efficiency, and seventh in yards per carry last season to scoring 13 points, 29th in passing efficiency, and abandoning the run against the Rams.
Seattle achieved only 13 first downs, which is worse than ANY GAME they had in 2022, including their disastrous Week 2 loss to the 49ers, when they had 14. I’m envisioning that the Seahawks can double their first down total from last week against the Lions on Sunday.
Ryan Gosling’s reverse chase in Drive:
The Seahawks had 27 first downs against the Lions in 2022, tying their season-best with the other game being the 31-21 win over the Cardinals in Week 9. Seattle went 4-0 when they had at least 24 first downs last season, and that’s even in spite of giving up 27 first downs to Detroit; that tied for their worst defensive effort of the season, the other being the 40-34 OT loss to the Raiders.
Flip to the Lions side of it, Detroit actually showed no correlation between first downs on offense and winning in 2022: They actually went 4-2 in their six worst such games of last season and 3-3 in their six best.
But DEFENSIVELY, the Detroit Lions went 0-6 when they gave up over 25 first downs and 9-2 when they didn’t.
Tenet took “driving backwards” to a new level in 2020:
The Vision: 26+ first downs
The Seahawks had 13 first downs last week, their worst such game since they had 13 against the Rams on a TUESDAY in 2021. The last time Seattle had fewer than 13 was 10 first downs in a loss to Washington on Monday Night Football a few weeks earlier.
The Detroit Lions have an awesome offensive line (but left tackle Taylor Decker is doubtful), a great offensive coordinator, dangerous weapons, and we should expect the Seahawks to lose some battles and drives when their defense is on the field. But their defense was bad—really bad—and upgrades this offseason were minor.
No more excuses for the offense, Seattle needs to score at least 30 points, something the Seahawks have only done six times in Geno Smith’s 22 starts with the team. That’s not good enough. It’s not nearly good enough and it needs to be flipped in reverse immediately.
Achieve 26 first downs and keeping pace with the Lions should not be an issue.
Slow down Lions rushing offense
Sometimes you have a car chase…other times you get a car crawl.
If Pete Carroll had a brand like Steve McQueen, he’d probably want to be called The King of Run Defense. Lately though, that would be one hell of a misnomer.
I guess McQueen wasn’t cool in every movie.
The Seahawks ranked 30th in rushing yards allowed last season and they were bottom five in YPC allowed in 2018 and 2019 under Ken Norton, Jr..
I know not everyone is a fan of the “Team Record When Rushing/Allowing XXX Number of Rushing Yards” statistic because it can be correlated to having the lead or not having the lead. That makes perfect sense! But if the Seahawks were able to stop the run in the second half of games that they’re trailing in, or run the ball effectively when they have the lead, then they would have a better shot of winning the game, no?
That was the Marshawn Lynch effect on offense for several years, never better served than in a win over the Ravens in 2011, when Lynch helped Seattle run off the final six minutes of the game in 22-17 victory.
How you play the run in the fourth quarter of the game IS important, whether you’re winning or losing at the time. The Seahawks need to put the Lions in check this time, like Austin Powers in a narrow corridor.
Seattle was 1-8 last season (including playoffs) when they allowed over 150 rushing yards. The Seahawks were 8-1 when they held teams under 150 rushing yards.
That even includes the Lions, as Detroit had 145 rushing yards in their 48-45 loss to Seattle.
The Vision: Hold the Lions to under 150 rushing yards
It really shouldn’t be that hard, right? I didn’t say 50, I said 150, and I’m talking to the King of Run Defense.
The Lions only had four games last season with over 150 rushing yards, they went 3-1 in those contests. The Seahawks only gave up 92 rushing yards in Week 1, holding Cam Akers to 26 yards on 22 carries, but they got bullied near the end zone by the offensive line and Kyren Williams so it didn’t matter as much.
Detroit swapped out running back Jamaal Williams for David Montgomery in the offseason and (oh no, get mad analytics!) drafted Jahmyr Gibbs in the first round, so they could be a threat on the ground. Especially if Gibbs is utilized more often than he is in Week 1. But if the Seahawks run defense shows up to slow the pace, maybe the other phases of the game will show up too.
If the Seahawks don’t get off the line this week, when will they decide to join the race?
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