5 Questions: Seahawks vs Rams Preview

As the Seattle Seahawks first game approaches, there are still several questions to which this team must find answers in an attempt to get to the Super Bowl for the third straight season. Playing in the Super Bowl is the current expectation by Seattle fans, as it should be, based on past performance and the Seahawks talent on the 2015 roster. Anything less than playing in February should be considered a disappointment. Still, those bloody questions remain. Here are five of them and how they may play out in Sunday’s game against the Rams in St. Louis.

Can the Seahawks Win Without Kam Chancellor?

The Seahawks can beat the Rams without Chancellor. Whether Seattle can win long-term is another question, but the Rams do not present the offensive challenges that many other good teams do. The Rams, like Seattle, have offensive line questions. The Seahawks should be able to control the line of scrimmage with their front four, while the linebackers should offer more run support than pass defense. The Rams will be playing without running back Todd Gurley as well, unless a miracle happens, but are still a team that wants to establish the running game. Chancellor is usually excellent in support, but Dion Bailey – the player most tasked with replacing Chancellor – has shown this preseason that he can do that as well. The issue with Bailey might be pass coverage, but the Rams are limited in the passing game, and so any liabilities he has might be minimized this week. However, if Cary Williams falters, Bailey might be needed to do more. But we will cross that bridge when we get there…

carroll week 3

What if Cary Williams Falters?

The Seahawks produce good defensive backs. They grow from a young age and then strike out on their own, searching for their own identity and money. Players like Walter Thurmond and Byron Maxwell have earned decent paychecks by signing with other teams in the last couple of years. Seattle did not feel as if they had a young defensive back ready to play opposite cornerback Richard Sherman on the roster, so they signed free agent Cary Williams this offseason. Williams was not good in the first half of last season while he was playing for the Philadelphia Eagles. With Sherman not getting many balls thrown his way, Williams will need to be better if the Seahawks want to make a deep playoff run again. This preseason, Williams was just eh. Against the Rams, he might see a lot of Tavon Austin. Williams’ issue is that he is not fast. Austin is. This matchup may not be enough for the Rams to beat the Seahawks – how St. Louis can defeat Seattle is a different question – but it might at least give Seahawks fans enough indication to let them know whether they will have a season-long worry about the position or not. If Williams plays poorly, Tharold Simon could take his place. But Simon has not yet proven he can be a consistently good player, either.

How Will the Seahawks Offense Look?

Seattle has been pretty darn successful the last few years, most would agree. They run the ball really well. In fact, running the ball has been part of Pete Carroll’s head coaching philosophy for decades. He was extremely successful at the college level at USC with running backs like LenDale White and Reggie Bush. The point is, of course, Seattle is going to keep running the ball. They may run it slightly less, though, this year. The evidence for this theory is that they traded for tight end Jimmy Graham and recently signed running back Fred Jackson. Jackson will be the backup to Marshawn Lynch, but when he does play it would be foolish not to use his skills as a receiver. He had 66 receptions last year with the Buffalo Bills. In Graham, Seattle got a playmaker at receiver that they have not had in years. Graham should make all the receivers better because will have to focus more on him. Plus, Seattle drafted wide receiver Tyler Lockett who looks as if he will fit into the passing game sooner than most thought. Now, if only the offensive line can pass-block well enough to give quarterback Russell Wilson time to throw to his targets…

jeff fisher

How Well Will the Offensive Line Play?

Seattle fans keep hearing from Carroll and offensive line coach Tom Cable that the current position group has the potential to be as good as any group they have had. The first preseason game, the line looked terrible. They did seemingly improve over the four games of the preseason, however. Cable is a very good coach, and his units seem to get better as a season goes on. The lines he has had, though, have run-blocked much better than pass protection. If the Seahawks do want to open up the offense a bit this season, the line will need to keep Wilson from being sacked as much as he has (moreover, he was pressured more than any other quarterback on his drop backs last year, according to Pro Football Focus). In week one the biggest advantage the Rams will have is the St. Louis defensive line is better than the Seahawks offensive line.

Who Wins Week One, Rams or Seahawks?

St. Louis has been a tough place for Seattle. The Rams barely lost in 2013 in a really ugly football game, 14-9. Last season St. Louis defeated Seattle in a game that saw the Rams fake a field goal, pull a trick play on a punt and basically just be weird. But it worked. This year in the first of two contests between the teams, St. Louis may not need all that. Rams head coach Jeff Fisher is excellent at his job and has had months to plan for this specific game. He has a defensive line that can slow the Seahawks run game and an offense that might be able to do just enough. Tyler Lockett could be the difference in this game, if he can continue the special teams brilliance he showed in the preseason. One issue for the Rams is that because team owner Stan Kroenke is thinking of moving the team to Los Angeles, there may be no Rams fans who care enough anymore to watch the game. The pick: Rams 17 Seahawks 14.