4 things to watch: Seahawks vs. Cardinals
The Seahawks played their worst game of the season last week and lost to Washington at Centurylink Field, the first loss at home this season.
They go from their worst game of the year right into their shortest week of the year as they travel to Arizona for their annual appearance on Thursday Night Football. Under Pete Carroll, the Seahawks are 6-1 on Thursday night since 2010.
It's a divisional game for both teams, the Seahawks at 5-3, are currently sitting 2nd in the NFC West behind the Rams and the Cardinals aren't too far back sitting at 4-4.
The Cardinals are coming off a win last weekend over the 49ers, but their wins aren't impressive. All four victories for Arizona came against teams that are a combined 5-30. Meanwhile all of Arizona's losses have been by 11 points or more.
How a salty Seahawks team responds to last week's loss to Washington against a Cardinals team that has nothing to lose will be fun to see.
Here are four things to watch Thursday night as the Seahawks take on the Cardinals in Glendale, Ariz.
16 penalties last week against Washintgton for 138 yards. It was undisciplined football for the Seahawks and a big reason why the Seahawks lost against a Washington team that snuck out of Seattle with a win.
Penalties were the backbreaker last week and Pete Carroll was surprised his team was still struggling to get things right in the eigth game of the season. Carroll's frustration on the subject of his team's penalties boiled over earlier this week..
"I am surprised somewhat, that we aren't father along in these areas that we are talking about right now," Carroll said on Monday. "Because these are things that we really can control. We have a chance to be good. We have been putting up a ton of yards, moving the football like crazy for a while now. We have a chance to have a good season and we got to get at it. We can't let any slippage in here, but the season is wide open for everybody at this point. We are at the halfway point. A lot of things that can happen."
The Seahawks didn't have any hard, physical practices this week because they only have three days between games, but you can bet the subject of penalties and trying to play a clean brand of Seahawks football came up in practice after practice and meeting after meeting.
Carroll affirmed a focus on minimizing penalties would be taking place all week leading right up to kickoff with the Cardinals.
"We think it is a group thing obviously when you have a bunch like this, but it comes down to individual choices and making good decisions and doing things right. So we are going to jump all over it with another emphasis today," he said.
2. THOMAS RAWLS
The Seahawks need a running game that doesn't revolve around their quarterback. Running the football was a priority coming into this season for the Seahawks and after eight games they are still searching for what has been an elusive ability to have their runningbacks move the football.
Eddie Lacy is out this week with a groin issue, that means the main runningback role will belong to Thomas Rawls.
Rawls doesn't have eye opening numbers, actually he barely has any numbers. He's played six games this season and has a total of 98 rushing yards and that's a career low average of two and a half yards a carry. Rawls showed some of those old familiar bursts last week against Washington and he is capable of having a big day, he just needs some help from his offensive line.
In his short NFL career, Rawls has had some of his biggest games late in the season. He's hoping for a big game tonight against the Cardinals as the second half of the season begins.
"The train tracks start moving, the game starts to get clearer and just more opportunities," Rawls said Tuesday. "I feel the more opportunities i get, I can put us in a better position offensively."
3. DUANE BROWN
There are so many things to watch and keep track of during a football game. Last week I enjoyed watching Duane Brown on a number of plays against Washington. He's the best left tackle in a Seahawks uniform since Walter Jones and he's given instant stability to the left side of the line.
Pete Carroll felt the same when he was asked to comment on Brown's first game as a Seahawk.
"He did really well. He played really well. Very consistent. Really solid in the running and the passing game. He did just what we had hoped he would do. He did a very good job. He and Ethan Pocic played well together too. They did a nice job there," Carroll said Monday.
Brown was whistled for one false start on a penalty-filled day but honestly, in his first game with the Seahawks and his second game this season, overall to come away with only one penalty, that's outstanding.
The hope this week is that Brown has become more comfortable with his teammates and the locker room that the 10-year pro can start to influence the rest of the offensive line and have them elevate their play to his level.
In his introductory press conference Brown said his goal is to, "keep Russell Wilson upright and clean."
Brown did a great job of doing that in his first game with the Seahawks, expect more of the same tonight.
4. RUSSELL WILSON
Wilson was off last week throwing two interceptions against Washington and failing to consistently connect with his receivers, especially through the first three quarters.
The Seahawks converted only once on third down heading into the 4th quarter. They finally got it together and scored twice in the final quarter, both scores were touchdown passes from Wilson.
Wilson is the epicenter of the Seahawks offense. Whether he runs or passes, Wilson finding a rhythm early with his teammates is important when it comes to scoring points early in a game, rather than waiting until the 4th quarter. Some early scores tonight against Arizona will help set the tone for the Seahawks.
If the Seahawks offense is going to be successful,l Wilson needs to run. He doesn't need to be the only one running the football, but Wilson on the run keeps the opposing defense off balance and will spread things out for rest of the offense and allow more receivers to get open.
In 2013 and 2014, the two years the Seahawks went to the Super Bowl, Wilson had 539 yards rushing and 849 rushing respectively.
A running Russell is a potent weapon for the Seahawks offense, Darrell Bevell needs to not only use him more but use him more effectively.
Wilson tends to shine on the national stage in prime time. Look for him to have a big night and the Seahawks to come back to Seattle feeling pretty good about the game they put together in the desert.