A Seahawks Vs Dolphins Preview: Be The Orca Not The Shark

Be the Orca, Russ. Be the Orca.

The great white shark is the most terrifying creature in the ocean. In a land full of division, very few of us would argue against this assertion. It can grow to the length of twenty feet, and it has jaws and teeth that can bite a human swimmer in half. Further more, it often strikes not from swimming on the surface where you can easily see it’s massive dorsal fin, but by torpedoing itself upwards from lower depths, grabbing hold of it’s prey with it’s massive jaws, going airborne with its victim only to come crashing down onto the surface of the water in a violent barrel roll, thus leaving bloody mess for other sharks to be envious of.

Terrifying. Anyone who laughs at my reluctance to swim in ocean waters simply have not watched any of the Shark Week stuff on Discovery, let alone the classic motion picture Jaws. Simply put, it’s funny to laugh at this sort of fear until it’s not funny, and when it is not funny, it’s bloody gruesome.

The dolphins, on the other hand, are probably the most beloved creatures that swim in the sea. They are arguably as intelligent as humans, they are social, and playful, and stories have been told for centuries about how they have saved ship wrecked sailors and whatnot. They are our allies in the waters, and we love them. Menacing they are not.

Yet, at the same time, while they probably rank as one of the least intimidating swimmers with a dorsal fin, they are cunning hunters, and they particularly know how to defend themselves well against a massive apex predator such as the white shark. They can out swim the beast and then, with enough numbers, ram with their pointed snout so sharply into the gills of the predator with enough force that they can actually kill the big dumb animal.

The Ryan Fitzpatrick led Miami Dolphins very much resemble these creatures that they are nicknamed after, and when the superior Seattle Seahawks play these Dolphins this Sunday in sunny South Florida, they need not be the Great White. They need to play smart, and be the Orca Whale, who is the true monarch of the sea. They must play smart, powerful, in sync with each other, and they must decimate these cutesy sea mammals with the ease that they are capable of.

Here are my keys to the game.

Be Smart Offensively

Russell Wilson has been historically sensational through these first three games of the 2020 NFL season. He has been the best quarterback in the game, and very few reasonable minds would argue against that. He has been generally on point with his quick passes, and he has been incredible with his deep ball, and he has found his spots to beat you with his legs.

If there is a trap in this game, it might be Seattle getting caught chasing too often the deep pass off of play action. They have been hugely success with this play against Atlanta, New England, and Dallas. It would be easy to expect the same against a statistically soft Miami defense in this game.

Miami head coach Brian Flores is a smart football mind. He has coached football on both sides of the ball for the Super Bowl winning Patriot dynasty for years. I think it is likely that he will have looked at Seattle’s tape and will have installed a game plan on defense that has his defenders not biting on the play action, and he will have his safeties play extra deep.

Russell loves the deep pass. It’s become his signature play, and there are times when he gets caught up chasing it when it is not there, and the result is often eating sacks on early downs. This is the result that Seattle needs to avoid. Just take what the Miami defenders are giving.

Miami has not shown to be a great pass rushing team, and they have been generally a bad team against the run. Further more, they have done a poor job defending in the red zone. Even if Chris Carson doesn’t play, Seattle can still be a reasonably strong running team with led by Carlos Hyde, and they are top of the league at scoring in the red zone. Therefore, Russell and the offensive simply need to be patient, and just take what Miami is giving them, and that is likely going to be opportunities to run the ball, and opportunities to perhaps pick them apart a bit with short to intermediate passes, especially if Flores has his safeties playing extra soft.

If Seattle does this, it could mean a big day for the running backs not only carrying, but catching out of the backfield. This could be an interesting story line in the game as Seattle roster carries two backs from the University of Miami, Travis Homer and DeeJay Dallas. Both backs are noted as quality pass catchers, and if Chris Carson does rest during this match, both would likely see certain action.

Be Cautious and Wait For Opportunity Defensively

It has been well documented how often Seattle’s defense has been beat deep through the first three games of the season. It’s has been historically bad. It has gotten well under the skin of head coach Pete Carroll. His cardinal rule on defense is to not get beat deep. They have blitzed more often this season to help generate pressure, and that has left their coverage exposed. I suspect adjustments are coming.

Carroll might have his defense start to mimic a bit more of what it did last year and that is offer up the short passing game between the twenty yard lines before it tightens up in the red zone. It may not be fun to watch, but one thing about that defense last year was, while it gave up a lot of yards with little sack production, it tightened up and played well once opposing offenses got to the red zone. Essentially, Seattle was able to use the shrunken field and the back of the end zone like an extra defender. Looking at Miami’s offensive production, there are reasons to feel that Seattle could apply this approach.

For one thing, Miami’s offense has not generated a lot of yards through the air or the ground. Ryan Fitzpatrick is a smart veteran quarterback who will be looking at the way Seattle has been blitzing and giving up big pass plays, and he will likely be licking his fingers in anticipation for the big plays that he can take advantage of. He will be looking to use Seattle’s aggression against them just like Matt Ryan, Cam Newton, and Dak Prescott were able to do. The big difference here is that Fitzpatrick is not at the level of talent that these quarterbacks are at. So, Seattle might have opportunities to play a little safer game of rope a dope with him.

Seattle might sit back in coverage a bit more, and dare him with short passes, and once they get a bit more of an understanding of how he is attacking, then they might send the blitz with the knowledge of where Fitz is likely to go with the ball. This is what they did a lot of last year and it worked well against teams like Philadelphia who were a bit thinned out on offense.

It might not look pretty at first, you might be pulling your hair out at various times in the first half, but opportunities for plays on the ball and sacks may come as the game wears on, and if Seattle is scoring touchdowns where the Dolphins are settling for field goals, that is likely the only stat that will matter to Pete Carroll. He will consider that a good day for his struggling defense.

Seattle Must Avoid Abundance of Further Injuries

We all know that injuries are a part of the game, but last week against Dallas was particularly rough. It is highly unlikely that Seattle will be playing with Jamal Adams at safety, and he has been their most dynamic player on a troubled defense. If his backup Lano Hill, who has been nursing a sore back, also cannot go, who really knows what they will roll out with at safety?

It is possible that they will move Quandre Diggs to strong safety and have nickel corner Ugo Amadi play at free safety, which he did in college at Oregon. It is also very possible that Ryan Neal will make his first professional start at safety after coming up with the game winning interception last week against Dallas. There is also a chance they activate former Green Bay safety Damarious Randall off the practice squad, who they signed two days ago, if they feel that he has picked up enough of the defense and is in enough shape to play. Needless to say, whatever they do at safety, they probably cannot afford another injury there, especially if that injury happens to involve Quandre Diggs.

Also still concerning on defense is depth at edge rush. Benson Mayowa and rookie end Alton Robinson are the only true Leo rush ends on the defense, as LJ Collier is a five technique, Damontre Moore is kind of a ‘tweener, and Shaquem Griffin is purely pass rushing linebacker. Any injury to Mayowa or Robinson could have this defense in trouble yet again.

Things are generally less concerning on the offensive side, however, should Chris Carson not play in this game, and should Carlos Hyde get banged up, that could prove unfortunate for Seattle as, again, the Dolphin defense is one that you can run on, and Seattle would then be forced to lean into second year player Travis Homer, who is not proven to be an every down back, and rookie DeeJay Dallas, who has not yet played a down in this league. If Carson is good enough to go, I would be tempted to use him in this match, and maybe spell him a bit more with Hyde. That’s risky, though. Ideally, Seattle should be able to take care of business against this defense by not playing him, and getting him ready for next Sunday night against the Vikings.

How Seattle Might Loose This Game

Simply put, too many injuries occurring to an already banged up team, especially on defense. If this occurs, Russell Wilson is still talented enough to pull off enough magic to get the win, but they would be really tempting fate.

The Dolphins are a beatable team, but they are not completely terrible. While Fitzpatrick is a journeyman passer, he is a crafty one. Former Husky running back Miles Gaskin has played really well for the Dolphins this year, and has been a bright spot both as a runner and pass catcher. The Dolphins also have talent at tight end, and historically, tight ends have given Pete Carroll defenses problems, even in the Legion of Boom era. Devante Parker is also a really talented receiver that Seattle’s corners have to contend with, and they have had plenty of troubles covering talented receivers this season.

Even if Seattle does not sustain much in the way of injury, Miami has enough weapons on offense where Seattle cannot continue to play with poor execution in the secondary, and expect to win comfortably. They cannot be a Great White coming into Miami expecting to throw their weight around with gnashing teeth and poor fundamentals. They have to be the Orca in this one. They have to play dominant both physically and mentally, showing proper patience and execution. If they do this, they should get out with a win fairly handily. They have yet to show that they can this with consistency on defense this year, but the season is early, and I still trust Carroll will eventually fix this. Against Miami would be a good point in the season to start this process.

My Prediction

Seattle wins this one fairly handily, 34 to 26.

The Dolphins will be competitive in this game, but Russell Wilson will not allow himself to be beaten by Ryan Fitzpatrick in a shootout. I think Flores is likely going to preach that his safeties stay deep and his linebackers don’t bite on play action. This is going to spark a little bit more of a chess match, but Russell Wilson will ultimately take what is given. He might not throw for as many touchdowns as in previous weeks, but that might mean that they pound it into the end zone a bit more with their backs, should that unit stay fairly healthy. Miami has been terrible against the run in the end zone.

Defensively, I see Seattle giving up yards, but I can also see them forcing Miami into field goals, and maybe a few turnovers once the field has shrunk enough that Fitzpatrick is forced to throw into tighter windows. Miami has been a relatively decent red zone scoring team though when they’ve gotten there, so this is the area of the field where Seattle has to play fairly well on defense. Seattle did that last year, so there is reason to think that they can accomplish this in this game with a little rope a dope.

This might be a game where Russell cools down a bit, but the cooling down might be more to do with what is available for Seattle’s running game, and this could be the type of game with Pete Carroll reverts back to a mentality to just do what is safely needed to get the win so that they can get ready for the Sunday Night Football match up next week against the Vikings where may he lets Russell get back to more cooking.

This is how I see it unfold. A bit less of a barn burner, more of a safe win with a final score that makes the game look closer than it actually was. Dolphins get a late field goal to bring the score within eight points, they don’t win the onside kick and Seattle drains out the clock. Something like that, anyways.

Go Hawks.


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