From Pretty & Pristine to Rough & Rugged
If the Seahawks and the Colts were to have met a decade ago, you would expect an air-it-out showdown between two high-powered offenses.
Or even if you were to look at the personnel on both sidelines, you may expect to see the same.
But in reality, these two teams have one identity. Run the ball, control the clock, and use your quarterback’s ability when needed.
No longer are these teams reliant on the air, but find themselves battling in the trenches for victory.
Once again, Seattle will be traveling back to the east side for a 10:00 am showdown.
What to watch for!
Since the arrival of Pete Carroll, the Seahawks‘ identity has completely transformed. From an offensive, precise and well-timed air-raid through Mike Holmgren – to a grind it out, bullying rushing attack with an over-sized, physical defense to carry the load.
This new identity has been incredibly effective as of late, and the Indianapolis Colts have adapted the idea.
The Colts have gone from the number 7 passing team in the league (258 yards per game) in 2012 to the 24th (223 yards per game) thus far. They also went from 22nd in the league in rushing (104.4 yards per game) in 2012 to 4th (150. 2 yards per game).
Meanwhile the Seahawks have remained true to their identity, standing firm at 5th in the league in rushing (144.2 yards per game) and 25th in passing (208 yards per game).
For those of you who are counting, that has Indy at 4th and Seattle at 5th in rushing, and Indy at 24th and Seattle at 25th in passing. Granted these stats are from the small sample size of 4 games, but they still show how similar both teams have suddenly become.
Seattle is known for their defense and rushing attack, and both play hand-in-hand in their scheme.
They are technically the slowest offense in the NFL – averaging 29.88 seconds per play. This is purely strategic, controlling the clock and allowing that primitive defense to rest on the sideline. Salivating.
Indy attempts to do the same. Whoever wins the push in the clock battle will likely come out on top in this one.
Bringin’ Back Bruce
Following his 4-game suspension, Bruce Irvin is making his return to the Seattle defense. Adding – yet another – dynamic playmaker and pass rusher to this already stout defensive unit.
The Seattle D currently stands 2nd in the league in scoring defense with 11.8 points allowed per game, 5th in yards allowed with 300.2 (4th in pass defense and 18th in rush defense) and 14th in sacks with 11.
All areas would seem to improve with Bruce returning to the lineup.
He is likely going to replace linebacker Malcolm Smith for the majority of his snaps – regardless of Smith’s solid season thus far.
We know Irvin’s potential in the passing game when rushing the passer – but dropping back in coverage will be a whole new ballgame.
He is used to lining up on the line, but the decision to move him to linebacker opens up his playmaking ability to a plethora of options. Let’s just see if he can answer the call.
Robert Mathis vs O-Line
Last week our battered offensive line got all the experience they could handle against JJ Watt. And he made his mark on the Hawks, disrupting each and every play while recording 8 total tackles and 0.5 sacks – blood running down his face the entire way, mind you.
Well unfortunately, we aren’t out of the woods yet.
Indy’s veteran defensive end Robert Mathis is off to a blazing hot start with already 7.5 sacks in 4 games.
And don’t expect the pressure to let up from the league’s 7th ranked pass defense. Hopefully Max Unger steps back in on Sunday.
Russell Wilson vs Pressure
The Seahawks may be 4-0, but we still have a lot to improve on. While that is exciting, it also makes me a little uneasy.
One year under his belt, and it appears Russell has made little progress since last season. Yes, he is playing behind a tissue paper offensive line for the moment.
But his struggles under pressure have occurred even with a healthy offensive front – he is currently 31st in the league while under pressure with a 44.8 completion percentage.
It doesn’t help that our offensive line is 30th in the league in blocking efficiency, but it is clearly an issue for Russell to find open receivers with pressure in his face, at his height.
Oddly enough, Indy is 28th in blocking efficiency and Andrew Luck is 26th under pressure with a 53.3%. Eerie, ain’t it?
Now this does not mean that I have lost any faith in our quarterback, and I still believe he is the guy to lead us to a Super Bowl. I just know how hard the guy works – and with a little help from the o-line – I’m sure he will improve in this area.
Russell came into the league much lower on the draft board compared to RG III and Luck, yet he is constantly compared to them because of his success. He has already defeated Griffin. Now it looks like Luck is up to bat.
Luck vs The Legion of Boom
Finally, we get to the star of the Colts – Andrew Luck.
The first overall pick from last season has come into the league and lived up to his mile-high ceiling. He is everything you can ask for in a QB – huge, smart, athletic, poised and has great leadership qualities.
I think Luck will be a great NFL quarterback. But there is one thing that jumps out at you from this guy, and that is his efficiency. And it doesn’t exactly jump out in a good way.
Luck had a QB rating of only 76.5 in his rookie season, throwing for 23 touchdowns but also 18 interceptions. That compared to Russell’s 100.0 is quite the gap.
Now he WAS 5th in the league in pass attempts with 627 last season, so the Colts rode his arm more than any other rookie. But it still jumps out at you, that the guy makes mistakes.
And if there is any group that capitalizes on mistakes, it’s the LOB.
These guys are hungry for the ball, starving even. Like Earl Thomas said, they’re “piranhas.”
Luck can do a lot of things, including turn the ball over. Look for Earl, Sherm, Kam, B.B. and co. to be right there waiting for him.