SOUND THE ALARM!! Welcome to Red Alert. A new series where Owain Whatley looks at some of the issues and talking points from the week’s game and uses his limited football knowledge and over-confidence to attempt to right the perceived wrongs of professionals who have made this game their life’s work; as is the prerogative of an amateur sports writer.
Danger-russ-ly low levels of protection.
This is nothing new. For a number of years now, Russell Wilson has been running for his life behind an often sub-par and sometimes borderline pointless offensive line. However familiarity with the problem does not make it any less of an issue.
Once again on Sunday, the big guys up front were outclassed by the Broncos front, and in particular Von Miller. Who, as it happens, put up one of the most monstrous first half stat lines I’ve ever seen. Russell seemed hurried on almost every drop back, was flushed out of the pocket with regularity and was sacked no less than 6 times. Now, I’ve seen a lot of negative sound bites on social media insinuating that Russell was at fault for those sacks, and while that could be true, we owe him more than that for putting up with years of poor protection and still being one of the most consistent quarterbacks in the NFL.
I, however, do not believe that Russell was at fault for those sacks, and will not be throwing any shade his way. Ladies and gentlemen, it’s time to get the clubs out and start beating the dead horse. Germain Ifedi at right tackle is just not working. He was consistently rounded by Miller and gave up another false start penalty to add to his burgeoning collection. As I remember, Ifedi was projected as a guard coming out of Texas A&M and I have to question the decision to play him at right tackle when George Fant sits on the bench. Before Fant’s knee injury, there were many reports saying that he was developing into a fine tackle, displaying good athleticism and a vastly filled out frame. Is it now the time to ditch the 2016 first round pick? Or maybe move him back inside to guard?
Either way, this week the Seahawks visit Soldier Field to take on Khalil Mack’s bears. The same Khalil Mack who won defensive player of the year in 2016. The same Khalil Mack who is the only player to be voted first team all pro at two different positions. And the same Bears team who would have sent the Packers back to Lambeau with their tails between their legs were it not for Aaron Rodgers entering GOD MODE in the second half. This is going to be another difficult proposition for our offense. With the likes of Mack and newly acquired rookie Roquan Smith, the bears are holding what many people believe to be a top unit this year. Then, over the next three weeks, we host both the Cowboys, who have last year’s sack leader in Demarcus Lawrence, and the fully loaded Rams. A Rams team complete with Ndamukong Suh, Marcus Peters, Aquib Talib and new member of the $100million club Aaron Donald. If we don’t improve our blocking, we could be staring at a 1-4 or 0-5 start, depending on a result against the admittedly poor Cardinals.
AMBER – Begin stocking up on bread and milk. There is a very real possibility that we could be scraping up pieces of Russell Wilson from the turf at Soldier Field. However, it is only week 1 and there is plenty of scope for improvement on the offensive line. I mean, at least it was only one false start last week?
Take a Knee……
IT’S NOT A POLITICAL PIECE!!!! IT’S NOT!!! I PROMISE!!
I’d rather focus on one knee in particular. That knee belongs to our wonderful, angry, scrappy doo-esque number 89, Doug Baldwin. As you’re probably aware by now, Doug was held out of most of Sunday’s game with a knee injury that he’d been dealing with at least since training camp. The team have relied on Doug’s safe hands for a number of years now, and the undrafted firebrand out of Stanford has developed into one of the NFL’s premier receivers. It doesn’t look like we’ll be able to rely on him until at least after the bye week. This is especially unfortunate for UK fans like myself, as the bye week comes directly after our game against the Raiders in London.
So let’s look at the landscape without number 89 on the field. Our receiving corps would be likely consist of Tyler Lockett, Brandon Marshall, Jaron Brown and David Moore. These will likely be supplemented by new fantasy superstar tight end Will Dissly and Nick Vannett. While I feel that on paper, that list of names doesn’t inspire a huge amount of confidence, there are positives to be drawn.
The offense managed to put 24 points on Denver in spite of poor protection and Baldwin’s absence. When you’re up against Von Miller and Bradley Chubb, supplemented by the likes of Chris Harris Jr. in the backfield, it’s going to be tough to put up points. When you’re facing those guys with a porous offensive line and no clear number one receiver, it’s nigh on impossible to put up a credible amount of points. But those are the sort of odds, that as 12’s, we laugh in the face of.
Brandon Marshall looked good, he’s going to be a valuable contributor this season, and while he may now be in his mid-30s and some might say “past his prime”, he can still catch, and he can still use his big body well enough to beat many defenders to contestable catches on the outside. Tyler Lockett did what he does, returned the ball well from kicks and punts, and caught a downfield bomb for a touchdown. The area where we’ll miss Baldwin most is over the middle and on key short to medium “move-the-chains” type throws. His double move is the best in the league and his route running is up there with the best. Russell will miss his safety blanket.
Enter Will Dissly. I did a short preview on Dissly in my “Rookie Roll Call” series (go and check it out). There I commented on the fact that most scouts and analysts saw him as a blocking tight end, and given his relative inexperience at the position (he was a defensive lineman at Washington for his first two seasons), he would be limited in his ability as a receiver. WELL BALLS TO THAT NOISE!! Dissly looked a natural receiver on Sunday, making some eye catching big plays and grabbing his first NFL touchdown in the process. I think with a bit more time developing chemistry, Dissly could become a new safety blanket for his quarterback, and could well do far better than many (including myself) could have imagined.
YELLOW – Batten down the hatches, we can weather this storm!! Doug will be a huge loss, and I’ll be gutted not to see him on the field in London, but I’d much rather have him healthy for the season’s run in. In his stead, the supporting cast can hopefully take the limelight, bringing to the fore a host of new potential stars.
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