With the bye week in the books, the Seattle Seahawks will now move forward into the second half of the 2015 NFL regular season.
If Seattle is to have any chance of making the postseason, it will have to play much better in the second half than it did in through the first 8 games. The Seahawks sit at 4-4 with some heartbreaking losses to very good teams, but have also struggled against some of the weaker opponents on their schedule.
Both the division and wild card spots are still in play for the Seahawks, but they likely will have to go at least 6-2 to have a shot. Fortunately, the Seahawks will have an opportunity right out of the bye week when they host the division-leading Arizona Cardinals on Sunday.
A few players will need to step up in the second half in order for Seattle to rally and chase down Arizona.
Paul Richardson, WR
Seattle’s defense appears to have gotten back on track over the past couple of week, but the offense still has a lot of problems to work out. The Seahawks run’ game has been inconsistent apart from the Week 7 win over the San Francisco 49ers, and the team just hasn’t been able to generate the same amount of splash plays down the field than in recent years despite having Jimmy Graham involved.
The latter issue could be improved soon. Wide receiver Paul Richardson should be able to play for the first time this season in Week 10 as he continues to recover from a torn ACL suffered last postseason.
Richardson showed plenty of promise in his rookie season and was really coming on by the end of the year. In particular, Richardson’s blazing speed will give the Seahawks another home run threat on every play.
With Lockett and Richardson on the field at the same time, Seattle should be able to stretch opposing defenses more effectively, which will be necessary to recover in the second half.
Drew Nowak, C
The top concern for the Seahawks in the first half was a porous offensive line that struggled in both pass protection and run blocking. Seattle gave up 31 sacks through its first seven games, which was on pace to easily lead the NFL and challenge some all-time records.
Tom Cable has engineered some midseason turnarounds on the offensive line before, which the Seahawks will need again to challenge Arizona. The unit appears to be headed in the right direction after giving up no sacks to the Dallas Cowboys in Week 8.
For that to continue, center Drew Nowak will have to step up in particular. Nowak was named the starter out of camp despite being unproven and struggled for five weeks before being benched for a week and returning to the lineup for the last two games.
Nowak looked much better in those two games, particularly against San Francisco. It would be a huge boost if Nowak could keep that up, but the Seahawks may have to go to Patrick Lewis or Lemuel Jeanpierre if Nowak reverts back to his previous form.
Cary Williams, CB
The Seahawks secondary has looked much better over the past two games, but its hard to tell how much of that is a product of playing Colin Kaepernick and Matt Cassel. Before that period, Seattle’s usually excellent secondary looked very shaky, particularly closing out games in the fourth quarter.
A lot of the blame has gone to newcomer Cary Williams. After a strong start in the first two weeks, Williams has struggled mightily recently, forcing Seattle to have Richard Sherman shadow the other team’s best receiver, in contrast to what we’ve seen over the past few years.
Even with Sherman covering covering the best target on the field, Seattle’s defense can’t afford to have Williams struggle so much. The Cincinnati Bengals picked on Williams in Week 5, and upcoming offenses like Arizona and Pittsburgh will do the same if he doesn’t improve.
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