PFF Preview: Seahawks @ Panthers, Week 8
Is it time to panic yet? At 3-3, the defending Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks now find themselves third in the NFC West following back-to-back losses against Dallas and St. Louis. If there’s a silver lining, it’s that the Seahawks have already played four teams that are likely to make the playoffs, but they still must face both Arizona and San Francisco twice in a brutal six-week stretch to end the year.
The Seahawks defense has declined from the incredible heights of last year thanks in part to the loss of several contributors. While it’s still good, the stars haven’t been able to mask that this defense is lacking the depth it previously enjoyed. The pass rush has been a chief culprit for the slip, but they’ll be facing a Panther offensive line that made an average Packer pass rush last week look like superstars.
Defensive decline isn’t exclusive to the Seahawks in this game, though. After fielding one of 2013’s stingiest defenses, Carolina lost the better part of their secondary in addition to Greg Hardy, and the results have disastrous. Charles Johnson isn’t having the impact he was paid to have, and while both Luke Kuechly and Thomas Davis have played well, they haven’t been able to cover for the poor play behind them like they did last year. Having allowed 37 or more points in four of their last five, the Panthers’ defense is in free-fall as they’ve been forced to give significant playing time to numerous rookies.
In their early-season matchup last year these teams combined to score just 19 points, but with struggling defenses, this contest could turn out drastically different.
Michael Bennett – Playing mostly on the left side but still rushing about one third of the time from the left, this could be a field day for Bennett. Despite the lack of sacks this year, his Pass Rushing Productivity (11.3) is third, and he’ll be facing a pair of tackles near the bottom of our Pass Blocking Efficiency ratings.
Kam Chancellor – Known as a hard-hitting strong safety, Chancellor has missed more tackles (10) than all but two other defensive backs. Interestingly enough, his 19 defensive stops leads all defensive backs.
Marshawn Lynch – He has the tenth-most carries this year, but only three running backs have forced more missed tackles on the ground than Lynch’s 23.
Greg Olsen – Now leading all tight ends with 493 yards, the former Bear has recorded at least five catches and 60 yards receiving in all but one game this year. His Yards per Route Run figure of 2.09 is sixth best among 39 tight ends.
Byron Bell – Only two tackles have allowed more pressure than Bell’s 25 total pressures this year. Should Bell’s elbow injury keep him out on Sunday, David Foucault has looked even worse, allowing a sack and three hurries on just 27 pass blocking snaps this season.
Kawaan Short – The defense may have declined, but Short has not. He has the third-highest grade of all defensive tackles (+14.9), with positive grades both as a pass rusher and as a run defender.
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