With real football upon us once again, we’re back partnering with our fellow SB Nation sites to provide you with some hope (or delusion) ahead of every week’s contest. This week we talked with Mookie Alexander of Field Gulls to get his 3 reasons why he thinks the Colts are going to beat the Seahawks in this season opener. Here’s what he had to say about their fatal flaws.
Check out Field Gulls here to see my corresponding piece.
Defensive question marks, especially at cornerback
Let me preface this by saying I don’t think the safeties are the problem despite Jamal Adams’ less than stellar reputation as a cover guy. Quandre Diggs is one of the most underrated DBs in the NFL and is really good at just about everything.
It’s the corners that are a major, potentially season-crashing concern.
Shaquill Griffin left the Seahawks in free agency to sign with the Jaguars, so logically Ahkello Witherspoon figured to be his replacement when he was signed in free agency. He didn’t cut it in preseason and got traded to Pittsburgh. In fact if this offseason and preseason was an audition for anyone other than D.J. Reed and Tre Flowers to justify more playing time or a starting spot, it failed miserably. Everyone got traded or cut except rookie Tre Brown, who is on IR with a knee sprain. There’s a reason why they traded for Sidney Jones from Jacksonville.
Reed will move to left cornerback aka the spot Richard Sherman used to occupy. He was the right cornerback midway through last season and performed admirably, especially considering he was brought in as a slot guy. The right cornerback job once again belongs to Tre Flowers, whom Reed replaced when he went down with injury. Flowers has been inconsistent at best and ruinous at his very worst. He was one of the reasons Seattle had a historically poor pass defense to start 2020.
The Seahawks’ best corner is Reed but he’s also 5’9” and if he’s got to go up against Michael Pittman Jr frequently that will leave me with an uneasy feeling. Total size mismatch.
I’m hardly convinced Carson Wentz will be particularly good for the Colts, but I am pretty sold on the idea of Frank Reich as a quality offensive mind who can exploit weaknesses regardless of who’s under center. The Seahawks’ cornerback situation is not good and it may come back to bite them. And I haven’t even acknowledged the potential for Jonathan Taylor to run wild against an otherwise pretty sturdy run defense, which can ease the pressure off of Wentz. Keep in mind that much of the Seahawks’ 2nd half defensive revival last season came against really horrible offenses so I am skeptical that this roster will be above-average throughout 2021.
New offensive coordinator = Early season struggles
Russell Wilson has had only three offensive coordinators in his NFL career. His debut in the league under Darrell Bevell saw him struggle the way you’d expect a rookie to struggle and the Seahawks only scored 16 points in a road loss to what proved to be a horrible Arizona team. It took Wilson more than half the season to really emerge as a consistently effective passer.
When Brian Schottenheimer was hired in 2018, the Seahawks scored 24 points against the Broncos but the offense had 3 turnovers (2 Wilson interceptions and a Chris Carson fumble) and a season-low 13 first downs. It was a pretty poor showing outside of a handful of plays and the Seahawks didn’t really hit their offensive stride until mid-November.
Shane Waldron has had a lot of hype through his Sean McVay connections and everyone from Pete Carroll to Russell Wilson to the wide receivers and running backs have praised Waldron tremendously this offseason. But training camp drills and actual in-game execution are obviously very different things. Supposedly this is a more complex offense than the previous OCs installed and you might see some miscommunications, blown assignments, and general confusion a quality Colts defense can capitalize on.
The offensive line isn’t a massive concern except at one position: center. Kyle Fuller (no, not the cornerback) is the starting C for now and there’s not been a whole lot of reason to think he’s actually good. If you’re a PFF believer his grades are nasty. Colts fans obviously know a thing or two about the value of a great center but this is Seattle’s weak spot and it might be one of the ways the offense ends up sputtering out of the gate.
Those pesky road openers
The last two years the Seahawks have won their road opener and Wilson in particular had outstanding games against the Steelers in 2019 and the Falcons in 2020. In other words, a Steelers team that played Mason Rudolph most of the way and would miss the playoffs, and a Falcons team that was unserious from the start even by Falcons standards. Under Pete Carroll and Russell Wilson the Seahawks are 3-6 in road openers and have more often than not played well offensively.
Don’t confuse this with the idea that the Seahawks are a bad road team, though. They are 21-11 in regular season road games since 2017, which is the 3rd best record in the entire NFL. But they’re 4-4 in September and all four wins were against eventual non-playoff teams and three of the four losses were versus eventual playoff teams. I didn’t pick Indy to make the postseason but I do believe they’ll be in the playoff hunt, so Indianapolis getting an opening day W wouldn’t surprise me. They have a defense that was top-10 in DVOA last year that can give Seattle’s offense fits and I’ve outlined my main worries already about the Seahawks defense. There’s a good chance this game is close and while Seattle thrives off of close game chaos, it doesn’t always go their way.
Thanks to Mookie Alexander for taking the time to give us a deeper look at the Seahawks!