As the Chicago Bears head up to the Pacific Northwest to battle the Seattle Seahawks, we turn to Keith Myers from the Fansided blog 12th Man Rising to give us an inside look at how the defending NFC champions will attack the Bears on Sunday.
You can follow Keith on Twitter @MyersNFL.
Grizzly Detail: No one would have guessed that both the Seahawks and the Bears would be 0-2 when this matchup took place, and yet here we are. What has gone wrong for Seattle this season, and how concerned should Seahawks fans be right now?
A weird as it is to see both of these teams without a win, it was never totally expected from Seattle to be in this position. The schedule was a gauntlet for the first two weeks for the Seahawks.
I'm not sure any team expects to go into Green Bay and beat the Packers right now. That is a really good football team, especially at home.
Drawing the Rams in St. Louis in the opener was also rough. The Rams have the best defensive line the NFL in my opinion. Opening the season with a makeshift offensive line on the road against Aaron Donald, Robert Quinn and company is a recipe for disaster.
Most of us would have been happy to see the team 1-1. They aren't tough, so now they have a lot of ground to make up in the division.
Grizzly Detail: The Seahawks acquiring Jimmy Graham was one of the biggest stories of the offseason, but he has reportedly been unhappy with his role so far. How big of an issue has his lack of production been, and do you think this is the week that he'll finally get more involved in the offense?
It is weird that the narrative is that Graham isn't involved in the offense because in Week 1 he had six catches for 51 yards and a touchdown. He was a major focus of the game plan even if he didn't end up with a ton of yards.
Last week though, he had just 1 reception and only two targets. There is no doubt he is annoyed by that. He should be.
Interestingly, it wasn't like the Seahawks weren't trying to get him the ball. The play-calling included a concerted effort to include Graham, but for multiple reasons Russell Wilson didn't get Graham the ball.
This is actually the topic of my tape study this week, so I can actually show your readers what some of the problems were.
First, pressure lead to some missed opportunities. Graham will break open in the middle of the field on this first example, but by then Wilson is already running for his life because of a missed block by right tackle Gary Gilliam. Wilson is looking right at Graham and wants to go there with the football, but the pocket breaks down too quickly:
The more troubling problem though is Wilson simply not pulling the trigger when the opportunities are there. Wilson has become ultra-conservative with the ball, and he's begun taking check-downs even when he has open players downfield.
This next play is a great example of that. Graham has leverage and a step in the middle of the field and there's no safety help. All Wilson has to do is throw it up to his 6'7" TE and it should be an easy touchdown. Instead, Wilson throws the short pass to Lynch at 10 yard line:
The Seahawks will get this figured out. They have to. They don't have enough playmakers on offense right now for Graham to not get the ball.
Grizzly Detail: Speaking of the offense, I did want to ask about the run game. Marshawn Lynch is known as one of the best backs in the league, but he hasn't looked all that impressive so far for Seattle. Is it something that he's doing wrong, or is the offensive line to blame for the less than stellar numbers?
Much of the rushing game's issues can be blamed on the offensive line. They're missing too many assignment right now, and Lynch is dodging defenders as soon as he gets the ball.
The line cannot be blamed for everything though. Lynch looks a touch slower this season, and he isn't breaking tackles quite like he's done in the past. Marshawn has still been Beast Mode at times, but just not with the same frequency that we've become accustomed to.
Grizzly Detail: Naturally we have to talk about Seattle's defense eventually, and I'm curious to get your thoughts on this. There's been a lot of talk about how Kam Chancellor's absence hurt the team, but do you think that's the biggest issue that's faced them? If not, what is?
The three inevitabilities of life: death, taxes and questions about Kam Chancellor's holdout. That's how that saying goes, right?
His absence absolutely hurt the Seahawks, but probably not as much as you might think. Dion Bailey played well in the opener except on the play where he got his feet tangled and gave up the late touchdown. DeShawn Shead played well in that spot in Week 2. Seattle's depth at defensive back and overall defensive talent have helped mitigate the loss somewhat.
The biggest issue facing the Seahawks is clearly the play of the offensive line. This is a very talented group from a physical standpoint, but it is young and inexperienced. Two of the starters were defensive linemen in college, and they make a lot of technique mistakes still.
That unit has its moments when it looks great, but it also has moments when it is a complete disaster. Right now, we're still seeing more of the disaster version. The hope is that at some time in the near future, the good version will be the norm.
Grizzly Detail: I know a lot of fans in Seattle (and Chicago, frankly) will assume that the Seahawks will bulldoze the Bears, especially with Jimmy Clausen presumably playing quarterback. The one thing I would say here is that Matt Forte has looked really good so far this season, and Seattle wasn't exactly stout against the run Sunday against a back-up running back in Green Bay. How do you think the Seahawks will try to stop Forte this week, especially considering the fact that he's a dual threat in both the run and passing games?
When Eddie Lacy went out of the game last week, so did Seattle's big run stuffers. Both Brandon Mebane and Ahtyba Rubin saw their snaps decrease considerably in favor of pass rushers like Jordan Hill and Cassius Marsh. That move helped the Seahawks slow down Aaron Rodgers, but it left them open to giving up yards on the ground.
This week, I expect we'll see the opposite of that shift. There is a good chance that speed rusher Cliff Avril will come off the field in the base defense to make room for Frank Clark. Clark outweighs Avril by over 30 pounds, and is much tougher to run against.
That isn't to say that Forte won't have success though. Seattle's run defense has not been as stout this season as they were in 2013 or 2014. There are rushing yards to be had against them. The key will be to get enough stops that Clausen will have to throw on third downs in order to try and continue drives. The Seahawks will like their chances if they can do that.