Steelers Scouting Report: What to Expect From the Seattle Seahawks
As we head into Week 6 of the NFL season, the sun is shining a little brighter for Steelers fans. After a rough three losses in a row, the Steelers pulled it together at home last weekend in a victory over the Denver Broncos. However, this is a new week and they will look to keep their momentum going in a big primetime matchup Sunday night.
Pittsburgh will host the Seattle Seahawks who will be looking to bounce back from a tough Week 5 loss to the Los Angeles Rams as they are trying to stay in the picture in the loaded NFC West division. With that being said, let’s take a deeper look at this week’s opponent.
At this point in the season, Seattle has a few very big injuries to take into consideration when discussing this game.
To start off, they suffered a huge loss as starting quarterback Russell Wilson dislocated his finger last week. He will miss this Sunday’s game and is expected to be out until at least Week 10.
On the other side of the ball, the leader of their defense, linebacker Bobby Wagner, is listed as questionable with a knee injury. They will already be without defensive backs Nigel Warrior and Tre Brown who are on the IR with knee injuries. Lineback Ben Burr-Kirven was placed on the IR earlier this season with an ACL injury.
How Will Seattle’s Offense Look Without Wilson?
As I just mentioned, the Seahawks took a huge hit with the injury to Russell Wilson. With him being out for an extended period of time, backup quarterback Geno Smith will be handed the keys to the offense. Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin had this to say about Smith in Tuesday’s press conference:
…Obviously they’re playing without Russell Wilson. They probably have a better understanding of the impact of that than I do, but I’ll say this. Geno [Smith] is no pup. He’s been in this League for an extended period of time now. He’s got experience in this system. He’s been in Seattle a number of years. He was with the coordinator for the Chargers before he and the coordinator went to Seattle, and so he’s got some understanding about how that system of football is built. He’s 31 years old, he’s been in this League now a long time.
I would imagine he’s in place there because he gives them an opportunity to function in a very similar manner, at least schematically, in terms of their personality. That’s what we’re anticipating. We’ve got a lot of respect for Geno. We’ve played against him in the past. We’ve got a lot of respect for their system of football and how they spread the ball around to a bunch of dangerous eligibles.
Smith showed some decent ability last week in relief, almost bringing Seattle back from behind as he threw for 131 yards with a touchdown and an interception. This week, he will get a full week to prepare with the starters and luckily has one of the best wide receiver duos in the league in Tyler Lockett and D.K. Metcalf.
Both of these receivers have just under 400 receiving yards on the season while Metcalf has five touchdowns compared to Lockett’s three scores.
Smith will be throwing against a Steelers secondary that is 19th in the league in passing defense, allowing 260.6 yards per game and ten passing touchdowns while forcing two interceptions.
What will make things difficult on Smith is the fact that Pittsburgh has one of the scariest pass rush groups in the league. They have combined for 11 sacks on the year led by five from T.J. Watt.
Seattle will hope to get some help from the run game this week and that will start by hopefully getting running back Chris Carson back from a neck injury. When healthy, Carson is a dynamic running back. On the season, he has 54 carries for 232 yards and three touchdowns. In his absence, Alex Collins has stepped into his role carrying the ball 28 times for 124 yards and a touchdown on the season.
If Carson is able to return, he will not be coming into an easy game. This Pittsburgh front seven has been stout, as expected, against the run this season. They currently rank ninth in the league in rushing defense, allowing 100.4 rushing yards per game. This group is led by captain Cameron Heyward who is off to an outstanding start to his season, and has also only given up one touchdown on the ground.
Seattle Must Get Something Out of Their Defense
One thing that seems certain about this Seattle team is that they have lost their identity as a defensive football team. The “Legion of Boom” days are over as the Seahawks rank dead last in the league in total defense. They have given up 450.8 total yards per game and 25.2 points per game this year.
To be honest, they really don’t have a true strength to their defense as they have struggled in all aspects. They are currently 31st in the league against the run, giving up 145.2 rushing yards per game and five total rushing touchdowns.
Their secondary isn’t much better as they rank 30th against the pass, allowing 305.6 yards per game and nine passing touchdowns while only coming away with two interceptions.
In front of them, the defensive line will consist of Poona Ford at nose and Al Woods at tackle with Rasheem Green and Kerry Hyder, Jr. on the ends. Former Bengal Carlos Dunlap II, along with Robert Nkemdiche and L.J. Collier will round out the defensive line rotation.
They will be up against a Steelers offense that has looked out of sorts for the most part this season but seemed to show some life last week.
Rookie running back Najee Harris has improved week by week and will continue to show his star potential if the offensive line continues to move forward like they did last week.
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger also played a lot better in the victory but will unfortunately be without JuJu Smith-Schuster who is out with a shoulder injury for the remainder of the season. With him being out, it will be interesting to see how wide receiver James Washington does in an expanded role.
This game looked a lot more exciting when the schedule came out. Unfortunately, that is no longer the case as much, especially with the injury to Wilson. However, this is a huge game for both teams as they are both looking to keep their seasons alive.
Offensively, Smith might be able to make a few plays here and there, but I believe he will struggle for the most part.
I also don’t see their defense being able to stop the Steelers offense, even with their early struggles. This might be a close game for about a half or so but that is about it. I have the Steelers pulling away to win this one 35-18.