Seattle Seahawks

Six players to watch from Seahawks and Drew Brees-less Saints on Sunday in Seattle

The numbers say Russell Wilson is running more in the fourth quarters of games.

He took off on two of his three true runs on the game-winning drive last weekend in Pittsburgh, for 10 yards and a first down then for 15 yards on third and 16. That set up Chris Carson’s first-down dive on fourth and 1. The Seahawks ran off the final 5:34 of a 28-26 win over the Steelers.

Does Wilson think when its tight and late he is going to keep the ball—and game—in his hands?

“No,” he said this week. “I just think about us getting first downs and making plays. Throwing the ball to the right guy at the right time.

“I think it just shows up at times. It’s not intentional, necessarily. It’s just part of the game.”


Wilson just keeps doing it. He is completing 78 percent of his throws through two games, with no interceptions.

He’s thrown just three interceptions in his last 313 passes. That’s one in every 104 throws. Last week he passed some guy named Tom Brady for the fifth-fastest NFL player to 200 touchdown passes. Wilson has 201 TD throws in 114 career games.

And, yes, he showed last week in Pittsburgh he can and will take over games in the fourth quarter with his running.

The Seahawks have a decided advantage at the game’s most important position Sunday at CenturyLink Field. Frankly, it makes this a game Seattle should win to go to 3-0 for the frist time since its Super Bowl-championship season of 2013: at home without having to face a future Hall-of-Fame quarterback, one of the NFL’s best of his generation.

Exquisite quarterback Drew Brees is out for the New Orleans Saints. He had had surgery this week.

So the Saints are turning to Teddy Bridgewater. He has started one game the last four seasons: a throwaway start in last season’s final regular season game when New Orleans had the top playoff seed clinched and Brees rested. Seattle has sacked Bridgewater seven times the last two games he’s played against them, for Minnesota in 2015 then in a playoff game at the end of that season. The Seahawks won both those games.

This won’t be the usual Saints offense without Brees. Expect coach Sean Payton to focus more on the running of Alvin Kamara and Latavius Murray.

Kamara was the 2017 rookie of the year. He has been in the Pro Bowl in each of his first two seasons. He has 142 yards through two games this season. He’s likely to get more than the 13 rushes he’s had in each of the Saints’ first two games. Kamara’s 97 yards led the Saints back to beat Houston in their opener, then he was curiously under-utilized after Brees got hurt in last weekend’s loss at the Rams.

Murray is a 230-pound steamroller. Seattle’s run defense, a problem last season, hasn’t been tested by Cincinnati and Pittsburgh. It should be by New Orleans.

Yes, I’ve said this three straight weeks now, but the Seahawks really, truly expect Ziggy Ansah to make his debut for them this Sunday. Coach Pete Carroll says he’s “counting on it.” Ansah is not on the injury report the Seahawks issued Friday for Sunday’s game.

The coach has said similar things the previous two weeks, but Ansah has been inactive for each of the first two games. Practicing fully for the first time in nine months has made the 30-year-old defensive end sore, and the Seahawks need him for the long haul, not one game.

Watch for the effect on the Saints’ offensive line. Do they give extra attention to both Ansah, the 2015 Pro Bowl pass rusher, and Jadeveon Clowney on each end? Most offenses don’t keep that many into block to double-team two pass rushers.

“I’m hoping that playing with those two guys on the field will benefit everybody. We’re kind of counting on that,” Carroll said. “Those guys should be able to give us a real nice presence outside, and that always helps the collective rush when you’re pressuring and everything.

“We’re just getting started there, too. I can’t tell you what it’s going to be like or what we can do here and there. We have to figure it out a little bit as we go here. It would be great to get Ziggy out there. He’s really champing at the bit finally to get out on the field. We’ll see how it goes.”

Keep an eye on Mychal Kendricks and how much the Saints do what the Bengals and Steelers have: isolate faster wide receivers for mismatches against Seattle’s linebacker.

The Seahawks have used base 4-3 defense far more so far this season, meaning Kendricks is getting dozens of snaps the nickel defensive back had gotten the last few seasons. The Saints are likely to change plays to passes if they see number 56 in blue on the field.

The Seahawks need to balance how much to play him and how much to use new nickel back Jamar Taylor, who did well in his Seattle debut last week against the Steelers.

Seattle may need Taylor at cornerback. Starter Tre Flowers is questionable to play Sunday. Flowers turned his ankle in practice Thursday.

“He turned his ankle...just got it.” Carroll said. “I can’t tell you what’s going to happen. We’re going to take him up to game time on that one.

“It wasn’t severe at all, but something happened that we had to hold him back.”

Gregg Bell is the Seahawks and NFL writer for The News Tribune. In January 2019 he was named the Washington state sportswriter of the year by the National Sports Media Association. He started covering the NFL in 2002 as the Oakland Raiders beat writer for The Sacramento Bee. The Ohio native began covering the Seahawks in their first Super Bowl season of 2005. In a prior life he graduated from West Point and served as a tactical intelligence officer in the U.S. Army, so he may ask you to drop and give him 10.
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