Tag Archives: Aaron Donald

Rams/Seahawks Preview

26 Dec
rams preview 2015 #2

Photo Credit: Seahawks.com

Matchup: St. Louis Rams at Seattle Seahawks

Site: CenturyLink Field (Seattle, Washington)

Kickoff: 1:25pm

The Seahawks wrap up the home portion of their 2015 season on Sunday against a familiar December opponent. Seattle concludes their home slate against the division rival St. Louis Rams for the fifth time in the last six years. The Seahawks are 9-5 and have a playoff berth already wrapped up. The Rams are at the tail end of yet another mediocre season under head coach Jeff Fisher with a record of 6-8. Seattle leads the all-time series 21-14 but the Rams bested the Seahawks in week one, coming back to defeat the Kam Chancellor-less squad in overtime 34-31. 15 weeks later the Seahawks are a completely different team and the Rams have added a dynamic force on their offensive unit. Here is what I will be watching out for on Sunday.

Look for the Seahawks offense to try to mirror what it accomplished last week against Cleveland. Christine Michael will likely be the lead back and will see anywhere from 15 to 20 carries. The talk of the town has been the phenomenal play of quarterback Russell Wilson and wide receiver Doug Baldwin. If Wilson can continue to avoid turning the ball over I believe our offense will put the team in good position to win. On defense my number one focus will be to watch how well our starters match the speed of the Rams offense. On the ground the combo of Todd Gurley and Tavon Austin has combined for 1,413 yards and 13 touchdowns. St. Louis likes to use Austin in the backfield and on end arounds so the Seahawks must be quick on the outside. The presence of Kenny Britt at receiver also equips St. Louis with an explosive downfield threat. Richard Sherman will likely cover Britt on Sunday. If the Seahawks can hold the Rams to under 300 yards of total offense it will be a successful day.

As I previously mentioned, the Rams have a weapon on the offensive side of the ball that was not available when these two teams faced off back in September. He is the guy I will keep my focus on more than any other Rams offensive player. Since his debut in week 3, running back Todd Gurley is on pace for 1,200 yards, has been named to the Pro Bowl, and is the front runner to win offensive rookie of the year. He is the closest thing to Marshawn Lynch that has come into the league in recent years and he has the talent to make even the toughest run defenses look silly. I believe Gurley will see at least 20 carries and if the Rams find success in the running game they will continue to feed him the ball. Getting solid production out of Gurley in this game will take a ton of pressure off of quarterback Case Keenum.

The mystery of the St. Louis Rams comes from their defense. Over the past few seasons the Rams have been hyped to be potential contenders for the NFC West crown. I believe a lot of this hype comes from the talent they possess on the defensive side of the ball. Yet somehow the pool of talent cannot seem to band together to help the team win football games. They remind me of the pre-Jim Harbaugh San Francisco 49ers; they have the talent but it is not being utilized correctly. The Rams defense will be represented in the Pro Bowl by defensive tackle/interior pass rusher Aaron Donald who leads the team with 11 sacks and also has the fourth most tackles on the defense with 64. The middle of the defense is anchored by veteran James Laurinaitis but the secondary is what I will have my eye on. Safety Mark Barron leads the team in tackles and cornerback Janoris Jenkins has recorded 14 passes defensed. The Rams other starting cornerback also has 14 passes defensed but has also done more on the stat sheet. My X-Factor Player to Watch for the St. Louis Rams is cornerback Trumaine Johnson. In just his fourth season, Johnson has emerged as one of the Rams best players. This season he has already shattered his personal best for interceptions in a single season with 6. He has intercepted a pass in each of his last three games and one of his interceptions occurred against the Seahawks in week one. Johnson will likely shadow the red-hot Doug Baldwin and with the trust Russell Wilson has had going to Baldwin over the past 5 weeks, particularly on third down, Johnson will absolutely see opportunities to make an impact in this game.

Random Thoughts: College navy jerseys and pants for the Seahawks. The Rams will wear white jerseys and will likely wear navy pants… Chris Myers and Ronde Barber will lead the broadcast on FOX… The referee for this week’s game is John Hussey… The gameday theme is fan appreciation which means the Seahawks will be giving away a wide array of prizes to the fans in attendance. In all the years I’ve been a season ticket holder I’ve only won something on fan appreciation day once; a 12 car flag in 2008… The Steve Largent Award will also be presented during pregame festivities. Russell Wilson won it last year and it is possible he could win it again… It’s disappointing this final regular season home game will be a goodbye to everyone I sit around until August of next year. I’ve been so used to having home playoff games to look forward to the past couple of years that this year feels slightly abnormal… If the Seahawks win they will have reached the 10-win mark. If that’s the case the Seahawks will have won at least 10 games in four consecutive seasons. What an amazing feat that would be.

Seahawks Playoff Outlook: The Arizona Cardinals clinched the NFC West last week, meaning at best the Seahawks can be the #5 seed. With a win over the Rams the Seahawks will maintain their position as the #5 seed. The Seahawks can clinch the #5 seed with a win and a Minnesota Vikings loss. The Seahawks will fall to the #6 seed if they lose and the Vikings win. Here are this week’s other games with NFC playoff implications. Teams to note are bolded.

Washington (7-7) at Philadelphia (6-8) (Game to be played Saturday night)

Green Bay (10-4) at Arizona (12-2)

New York Giants (6-8) at Minnesota (9-5)

Prediction: The Rams have not won in Seattle since my 15th birthday. That draught will continue on Sunday. The game will be tied at halftime due to a strong first half by Todd Gurley but Russell Wilson will come out of the intermission on fire, throwing for touchdowns on our first two second half possessions. The Seahawks will get to 10-5 and will send the 12’s home happy one last time this season.

Seahawks 27, Rams 16

Advertisements

Review: Rams 28, Seahawks 26

20 Oct
Photo Credit: stlouisrams.com

Photo Credit: stlouisrams.com

No matter how good or bad the Seattle Seahawks are, we always struggle against the St. Louis Rams in St. Louis. That is exactly what happened on Sunday. Thanks in large part to special teams, the Rams defeated the Seahawks 28-26 in a game that was frustrating to watch due to both the Seahawks play and the officials. The Seahawks fall to 3-3 on the season while the Rams improve to 2-4. Here are my thoughts on Sunday’s disappointing loss.

Offense, and Getting Wilson Involved: The Seahawks offense struggled to put points on the board in the first half this week and I personally questioned the play-calling of offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell throughout the game. I was happy about the way running back Marshawn Lynch was used even though his production was not ideal, as he ran 18 times for 52 yards. What upset me were the first down pass plays and the second down run plays, which set the Seahawks up for third down and long multiple times this week. I think Bevell dropped the ball in this regard and if the Seahawks were able to stick to a running attack in the first half, the Seahawks would have come away with more than 6 points in the first 30 minutes. At halftime I called upon the Seahawks to make the necessary adjustments to get quarterback Russell Wilson more involved in the running game which is exactly what happened. In the second half Wilson ran for 82 yards and a touchdown. In addition Wilson took more shots down the field in the second half which helped the Seahawks score 20 second half points. On offense we need to avoid slow starts moving forward. If we can play a full game like how we played in the second half this week we can fix this problem and become more consistent.

Defensive Struggles: The primary struggle the Seahawks are facing is putting pressure on the opposing quarterback, which in effect is allowing opposing offenses to easily convert on third down. After sacking Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo only once last week, the Seahawks struggled once again to put pressure on Rams quarterback Austin Davis. Davis was not sacked on Sunday and on third down plays the Seahawks did not send more than 4 rushers until the very end of the game. I never thought I would miss the presence of Chris Clemons so much. I am not saying Clemons alone makes the difference in last year’s defense compared to this year’s defense but on the whole the Seahawks defense has struggled mightily this season thus far. Including this loss the Seahawks have allowed 25 points in their first three road games this season. We are 1-2 in these games. Last season the Seahawks allowed an average of 20 points through their first 3 road games and went 2-1. If the Seahawks can improve the pass rush, pressure will be taken off the linebackers and the Legion of Boom and we will have a chance to be comfortably ahead in our games.

Thoughts on the Rams Front Seven: Coming into this game the St. Louis Rams had only recorded one sack on the season. Today the Rams sacked Russell Wilson 3 times. I warned about the potential of the Rams defense penetrating our offensive line to get to Wilson and my fears became reality. Robert Quinn, Aaron Donald and Eugene Sims among others bullied the depleted Seahawks offensive line all day long and Russell Wilson rarely had a clean pocket to throw from. I thought that it was only a matter of time before the Rams defense had a breakthrough performance and that is exactly what happened on Sunday. This unit is one of the best in the National Football League. As a Seahawks fan I just wish we had a healthy Max Unger and a fully healthy Russell Okung. If we had our entire starting offensive line, perhaps our offense would have been more effective and we would have been able to tame the Rams defense easier.

Rare Special Teams Gaffs Kill Seahawks: There were three huge special teams plays this week that cost the Seahawks points and could have cost us the game. First, Benny Cunningham of the Rams returned a first quarter kickoff 75 yards to instantly put St. Louis into Seahawks territory and into scoring range. The drive resulted in 6-yard touchdown run by running back Tre Mason. The second mistake came on a second quarter punt. Jon Ryan punted to Rams return man Stedman Bailey who returned the punt 90 yards for a touchdown. The only problem was that the St. Louis special teams unit tricked the Seahawks special teams unit into covering decoy return man Tavon Austin. This gave Bailey a wide open field and he was easily able to return it for a touchdown. 14 points in the first half came on special teams breakdowns and in hindsight could have made the difference between the Seahawks winning and losing. The cherry on top of the cake was a fake punt pass from Rams punter Johnny Hekker to Cunningham on 4th down deep in Rams territory. The play had to be executed perfectly, as a screw up would have resulted in a turnover, Seahawks ball deep in St. Louis territory down by 2 points, and an easy opportunity for Seattle to re-take the lead. Instead the Rams executed the fake punt flawlessly and the Rams were able to run out the clock to preserve the victory. Of all these mistakes the fake punt irritates me the most, simply because the Rams have had recent history of fooling the Seahawks on special teams. Two years ago Rams head coach Jeff Fisher called for a fake field goal deep in Seahawks territory. Hekker found an uncovered and completely wide open Danny Amendola for a touchdown. It is this play that should have had Pete Carroll and special teams coordinator Brian Schneider’s attention this time around. I believe the Seahawks should have been more aware of the potential of St. Louis trickery, and the Rams caught us off guard and capitalized once again.

The Fumble: Let me make this last point short and sweet. Regardless of whether or not the Seahawks recovered that fumble at the end of the game, the fact that there was no booth review to confirm who had possession of the ball infuriates me. With as close of a call that was in as close of a game that was, there should have been a booth review. I personally believe Richard Sherman fell on the fumble but there was no 100 percent conclusive evidence to overturn the call on the field. After a full game of questionable officiating this play put it over the top. I am not blaming the referees by any means necessary; the Seahawks put themselves in this position and lost the game. However the fact that no booth review was called on this crucial play is enough to make every Seahawks fan mad.

Random Thoughts: The Seahawks need to retire the white jersey/wolf grey pant combination. Since the Seahawks updated their uniforms in 2012 the Seahawks are 0-3 in this uniform combo. I hope we do not see it on the road for the rest of the season and definitely not in the postseason… I liked the Rams helmet logo on the 50-yard line. It looked slick… I am not a fan of referee Brad Allen. For that being his first Seahawks game as a head referee he did not make a good impression from a Seahawks fans perspective… We always struggle in St. Louis. Period… It is hard to think of random thoughts for a 10am road game when you watch on television from home. I guess I’ll stop here.

Thanks for reading everyone, even in defeat. Check back next week when I preview the Seahawks week 8 matchup with the Carolina Panthers. Go Hawks!

Seahawks/Rams Preview

18 Oct
Photo Credit: seahawks.com

Photo Credit: seahawks.com

Matchup: Seattle Seahawks at St. Louis Rams

Site: Edward Jones Dome (St. Louis, Missouri)

Kickoff: 10:00am

Even though we are the defending world champions and even though we are playing one of the toughest schedules in the National Football League, for the first time in a long time the 12th Man is feeling a bit uncertain moving forward. After falling at home to the Dallas Cowboys last week, the Seahawks now face two straight road games that are now even more important to win. This stretch starts on Sunday when the Seahawks take on the St. Louis Rams in our first NFC West game of the season. The Seahawks are 3-2 on the season and with the loss last week we currently sit in 3rd place in the division. The Rams are 1-4 and are in last place in the NFC West. The Seahawks lead the all-time series with the Rams 20-12 and in their last meeting the Seahawks defeated St. Louis in Seattle by a score of 27-9. Here is what to watch for in this week’s game.

This week there is one over-arching question that must be asked on both sides of the ball. How will injuries to core players affect our play? On the offensive side of the ball I am focusing on the Seahawks offensive line. The Seahawks will be without Max Unger for the second consecutive week. Russell Okung is likely to play but he is still has a labrum injury lingering in his shoulder. It will be crucial for the offensive line to create running room for Marshawn Lynch and to give Russell Wilson a clean pocket to throw from. The Rams have a lot of talent along their defensive line and historically they have given Seattle problems when playing in St. Louis. Although the Seahawks only allowed two sacks of Russell Wilson last week, the talent the Rams will send his way is much better in my opinion than what the Dallas Cowboys had to offer. The running game must be effective for us to have any chance in winning this game. It starts with Marshawn Lynch. After only 10 carries in a losing effort last week, expect his workload to be dramatically higher this week. Even if Lynch struggles to get going early, I expect offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell to not shy away from calling Lynch’s number especially after the criticism he was faced with after last week’s game.

On defense the Seahawks will be without at least one starter and possibly without one other starter. Bobby Wagner is suffering from turf toe and has been ruled out of this week’s game. Seattle will play the linebacker shuffle this week, moving K.J. Wright to middle linebacker with Malcolm Smith taking Wright’s spot as the starting “Will” linebacker. The Seahawks may also be without starting cornerback Byron Maxwell, who has not practiced all week while recovering from a calf strain. After Wagner exited last week’s game it felt as though our defense fell apart. The Seahawks defense allowed 23 points once Wagner departed in the second quarter. The tackling in the middle of the field worsened in the second half and the Cowboys skill position players found lots of room in the open field. It will be important for Wright to be an anchor in the middle of the field and make clean, fundamental tackles. Last week Rams quarterback Austin Davis was able to make clean throws to receivers Kenny Britt and Austin Pettis among others in the middle of the field against a banged up San Francisco defense. This week look for Davis to use these receivers and speedster Tavon Austin out wide to test the Legion of Boom especially if Maxwell is inactive. Marcus Burley will likely start for the Seahawks if Maxwell cannot go and it is very possible to think that Davis will look in the direction of a raw inexperienced starter rather than to throw in the direction of all-pro Richard Sherman.

This season the St. Louis Rams defense is not putting up the numbers like they did a season ago but they are still an intimidating bunch, especially the front seven. Last season Rams defensive end Robert Quinn ranked second in the NFL in sacks with 19. That dominant performance earned him a new contract but so far Quinn has not earned his newfound money. Quinn has only 12 tackles so far this season with no sacks. The only sack the Rams have recorded this season belongs to my X-Factor player to watch, defensive tackle Aaron Donald. Donald, from the University of Pittsburgh, was a first-round pick of the Rams back in May. He along with Michael Brockers form one of the best up-and-coming defensive tackle combinations in all of football. Just like Robert Quinn, Donald has also recorded 12 tackles including 4 tackles for loss. I loved Donald coming out of college because of his potential as an interior pass rusher and with Max Unger out this could be the perfect opportunity for Donald to show what all the hype was about back before the draft. Donald vs. Seahawks center Stephen Schilling is a matchup to keep an eye on this week. If Donald is successful in getting through the middle of the Seahawks offensive line it could be a frustrating day once again for Marshawn Lynch, Russell Wilson, and the rest of the Seattle offense.

Random Thoughts: The Seahawks have confirmed via their Twitter that they will wear white jerseys and wolf grey pants this week… The Rams will wear navy blue jerseys with either white or navy blue pants… Kenny Albert, Daryl “Moose” Johnston, and Tony Siragusa have the call for FOX this week… Brad Allen is this week’s referee. Allen is one of 4 rookie referees in the NFL this season… I was hoping the St. Louis Cardinals would extend the National League Championship Series into Sunday. It would have been great for the entire city of St. Louis to be infatuated with playoff baseball, virtually making this week’s Rams game an afterthought. That will not be the case however, after the Cardinals season came to an end on Thursday night… In the Pete Carroll era the Seahawks are 2-2 playing the Rams at the Edward Jones Dome… St. Louis would have been an interesting road trip to do. Game tickets are dirt cheap but round-trip airfare to St. Louis is a bit on the pricey side. I have given some thought into doing a spontaneous short-notice weekend trip to St. Louis for the game this year and in previous years but have never done it… I have been to every NFC West for a Seahawks game except for St. Louis… I am not in panic mode yet but if the Seahawks lose this game I am sure this entire city will be panicking. My word of encouragement: Never lose faith in this team.

Prediction: I could see this game going down to the wire, much like some of our previous games played in St. Louis. I think it will be incredibly difficult for the Seahawks running game to get going once again this week and it will be up to Russell Wilson to extend Seahawks drives. The only Seahawks touchdown will belong to Wilson on a scramble from inside the redzone. The Seahawks defense will play a much more sound game this week, including three sacks of Austin Davis. The Rams will win the turnover battle however and that could cost the Seahawks a chance to win the game late. Of course I hope I am wrong, but I believe the Rams will win a tight, physical game and the Seahawks will lose back-to-back games for the first time since weeks 7 and 8 of the 2012 season.

Rams 17, Seahawks 16

Check back on Sunday night for my review of this game. Go Hawks!