Good morning. Today’s weather forecast calls for clouds, 65 degrees and rain later on this evening, so weather should not be a factor today.
Here are five keys for Seattle as the take on the Falcons this afternoon.
Tackle Turner: Yes, the Falcons have some explosive playmakers on the perimeter, but at their core they still are a running team. So you have to deal with bruising running back Michael Turner. Defensive coordinator Gus Bradley said his unit has a tackling plan for the 5-11, 247-pound bruiser, who rushed for 82 yards against the Hawks last year.
Spread it around: Last week, Tarvaris Jackson completed eight passes for 106 yards to Sidney Rice, and just 10 passes for 62 yards to the rest of his receivers. Seattle needs more balance than that in the passing game, so expect them to spread it around more today, and to get guys like Mike Williams, Golden Tate and Zach Miller more involved.
Score early: The Seahawks have yet to score any points off of their opening drives in the first three games, but today it will be important to jump on a talented Atlanta team early to try and control tempo. Maybe they even go no-huddle to start the game, which worked so well for them in the second half against Arizona last week.
Bring pressure: Atlanta’s offensive line has allowed Matt Ryan to be sacked 13 times and hit 21 times. The Seahawks know that, and will pin back their ears and bring heat off the edge against struggling left tackle Sam Baker and the rest of the Falcons’ offense line. I also expect them to dial up more than their share of blitzes.
Convert third downs: The Seahawks are 30 percent on third down conversions, 26th overall in the league. That doesn’t give them enough plays to control the game offensively, so Seattle has to do a better job of getting positive yards on first and second down so the offense is in manageable third down situations. Don’t get behind the sticks.
Dave Boling of The News Tribune writes that Seattle’s makeover to a much younger team began with the team’s fall to the Falcons last year. The Atlanta game also was where Matt Hasselbeck hit rock bottom, with three straight turnovers that allowed the Falcons pull away, and chants of “Charlie, Charlie!” coming from the crowd. Hasselbeck was replaced by Charlie Whitehurst in the fourth quarter.
My story this morning focuses on Seattle dialing up some blitzes to create pressure on Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan. Defensive coordinator Gus Bradley says he will mix it up against the Falcons, similar to what Seattle did against Arizona last week.
Clare Farnsworth of Seahawks.com previews the game here.
Christian Caple of Seattlepi.com provides five things to watch for in today’s game.
Danny O’Neil of the Seattle Times gives us his keys to the game.
John Boyle of the Everett Herald has the unenviable task of writing a profile on defensive end Chris Clemons without a comment from Seattle’s defensive end; he refused multiple requests to talk to the media this week, a regular occurrence.
ESPN’s Mike Sando provides snap counts for Seattle receivers through the first three games. It shows that the Seahawks have put a lot of trust in rookie undrafted free agent Doug Baldwin.
Matt Bowen of the National Football Post says Michael Turner’s run production is one of five things he’ll be watching today.
John Czarnecki of Fox Sports sets the table for today’s game, including some thoughts on the Hawks-Falcons contest.
D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution offers three key matchups to watch for in today’s game.