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Behind Enemy Lines: Division-rival Seahawks prepare to visit Cardinals

Seattle Seahawks free safety Earl Thomas runs with the ball after intercepting a pass intended for Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Michael Gallup during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 23, 2018, in Seattle. (AP Photo/John Froschauer)

Beginning with the Seattle Seahawks at home on Sunday and ending with the San Francisco 49ers in Week 5, the Arizona Cardinals begin a critical two-week stretch against division rivals as they look to flip the script from their 0-3 start.

The Seahawks are coming off their first win of the season last Sunday, a 24-13 triumph over the Dallas Cowboys, and hope to keep pace with NFC Wildcard contenders looking to even their 1-2 record to .500 after the first quarter of the season.

Seattle used a punishing ground game chewing up 32:44 of game clock behind running back Chris Carson’s 102 rushing yards on 32 carries, including one touchdown. However, the Cowboys outgained the Seahawks in total yards 303-295.

David Johnson and the Cardinals might have an opportunity model what Ezekiel Elliott and the Cowboys produced against Seattle as the Cowboy running back blasted the Seahawks’ front-seven for 127 yards on 16 carries.

The Seahawks run defense ranks No. 30 in the NFL giving up 132.7 yards per game through three games this season. Their offense hasn’t fared much better averaging 292.3 total yards per game, ranking No. 27 in the NFL.

Not without their own problems, here’s what’s happening in the Pacific Northwest leading to kickoff, it’s Behind Enemy Lines.


Saturday, September 29

• Seattle Seahawks vs. Arizona Cardinals: Week 4 national media predictions (Seattle Times)

The Seahawks are back on road in Week 4 for their first divisional matchup of the season. They’re 3-point favorites in Arizona against the Cardinals and rookie QB Josh Rosen. Can Seattle get back to 2-2 after its 0-2 start?

What version of the Seattle Seahawks’ O-line will we see vs. Cardinals? Look at the run game (Seattle Post-Intelligencer)

After the first two games this season, the criticism surrounding the Seahawks’ offensive line was amplified.

The team appeared on the brink of major adjustments upfront, as pass protection woes of the last couple years lingered. Quarterback Russell Wilson was sacked an NFL-high 12 times through two weeks, and three-and-outs defined an inconsistent Seattle offense — a rocky start for first-year offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer.

• Seahawks wide receiver Jaron Brown returns to Arizona with plenty left to prove (Seattle Times)

After going undrafted out of Clemson in 2013, the 6-foot-3, 204-pound wide receiver carved out a role in Arizona. In five seasons with the Cardinals, he caught 92 passes for 1,245 yards and 10 touchdowns. His crescendo came in 2017, when Brown delivered career-highs in catches (31), receiving yards (477) and touchdowns (4).

• Despite wins over Cardinals, Arizona has been a house of horrors for the Seahawks (Seattle Times)

It’s now called State Farm Stadium (something even less memorable apparently not available) rather than University of Phoenix Stadium (OK, so it has a history of unfortunate names).

And maybe it makes sense that the Arizona Cardinals’ field in Glendale has had a makeover in name since the Seahawks were last there as the Seahawks themselves have had a pretty significant facelift since their visit there last November.

That was one of two times the Seahawks entered what was then called University of Phoenix Stadium and left forever transformed in ways they could hardly have imagined at the time.

• For young QBs like Josh Rosen, Russell Wilson preaches ‘relentless consistency’ (Seahawks Wire)

The Arizona Cardinals will be starting a rookie quarterback Sunday afternoon when they face the Seattle Seahawks. Cardinals coach Steve Wilks gave Josh Rosen the go-ahead for Week 4 after he replaced Sam Bradford during the final minutes of Arizona’s loss to the Bears.

Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, a proven veteran now in his sixth year in the league, can recall when he got his first NFL start, also in his rookie season. It all came down to preparation.

• 5 questions with Cards Wire before a critical Week 4 game (Seahawks Wire)

Both the Seattle Seahawks and the Arizona Cardinals enter Week 4 in must-win situations, or very close to it, but for different reasons.

The Seahawks are trying to show they belong at the top of a suddenly muddled NFC, while the Cardinals want to prove their rookie quarterback and rookie coach belong in the NFL at all.


Friday, September 28

You can’t judge the Seahawks’ offense until Doug Baldwin returns (Seattle Times)

Maligned as Seattle’s offense has been this season — with critics questioning the efficiency of the run game, pass protection and some of Russell Wilson’s decisions — the truth is this: The team hasn’t had its best receiver.

O’Neil: Seahawks have should-win, not must-win, game Sunday — and that test is even more important (710 ESPN Seattle)

The Seahawks should win this game and not just because the Cardinals are one of three winless teams in the league. The Seahawks should win this game because the Cardinals are a winless team rolling out a rookie quarterback for his first NFL start after what is an unimaginably awful start for their offense.

• Seven things to watch as the Seahawks try to get win No. 2 against Cardinals (Seattle Times)

The Seahawks and Cardinals renew what has been a rather odd series of late — the home team has not won a game since 2014. The Seahawks are obviously going to hope that trend continues in what looms as one of the most winnable games remaining on their schedule.

Pete Carroll says Sebastian Janikowski is ‘having a blast’ (Seahawks Wire)

Janikowski is a perfect 8-for-8 on extra points this season, and is 3-for-4 on field goals. That includes a 56-yarder, which ties his season-high from each of the last two seasons.

Seahawks looking for rare (and much-needed) September road win (SB Nation)

If you stretch it all the way back to 2008, the Seahawks are 2-15 in September road games … which is dead-last among all NFL teams … including the Cleveland Browns.

Baldwin to play for Seattle Seahawks vs. Cardinals, game-time decision for Carson (Seattle Post-Intelligencer)

Head coach Pete Carroll confirmed Friday that Doug Baldwin, who missed the last two games with an MCL sprain, will play Sunday vs. the Arizona Cardinals. Carroll said the two-time Pro Bowler  had a “great week” in his return to practice.

Consistency and composure helping Nick Vannett succeed (Seahawks Wire)

Without Jimmy Graham or Luke Willson, and with Ed Dickson on the IR, tight end Nick Vannett has stepped into a much bigger role this season.

Seahawks on tape: Schottenheimer’s Tight Formation Spacing (SB Nation)

Offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer has received some early criticism this season. But what impressed and stood out as something that Seattle should do more of was the way Schottenheimer deployed tight receiver splits in formations.

Seahawks rule K.J. Wright, Rasheem Green out for Sunday, Doug Baldwin will play, Earl Thomas has ‘excellent’ week of practice (Seattle Times)

If Chris Carson has any issues playing then the Seahawks’ running back depth could be tested if Prosise were also to miss the game. Seattle has only two other tailbacks on the 53-man roster — Rashaad Penny and Mike Davis.


Thursday, September 27

Seahawks’ Brown to return to Arizona, face Cardinals: ‘It’s kind of a weird feeling going back’ (Seattle Post-Intelligencer)

On Sunday, Jaron Brown will be in a familiar setting doing different things.

He’ll walk into the visitors’ locker room at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Ariz. — not the home one. Come game time, on the field, he won’t stand on the sidelines with the Arizona Cardinals, as he did the first five years of his career. Instead he’ll be on the opposite end, donning the blue and green of his former division rival, the team he used to hate: the Seattle Seahawks.

Seahawks prepare to face Cardinals rookie QB Rosen (Seattle Post-Intelligencer)

“With so many young quarterbacks that have just had startling entries into the league and done so many things, we’re going to count on Josh (Rosen) being on it and whipping the ball around like he can,” head coach Pete Carroll said.

Seahawks WR Doug Baldwin ‘ready to go’ after knee injury (ESPN)

Doug Baldwin insists he’s “ready to go” now that he’s sufficiently healed from the knee injury that sidelined — and frustrated — him for the past two weeks.

Analysis: Can Seahawks truly revive their rushing attack without Russell Wilson running? (Seattle Times)

In three games this season, Wilson has just 21 yards on seven carries. He has never had so few carries in a three-game stretch in his Seattle career. None have come off what was once a Seahawks bread-and-butter play: The zone read.

Seahawks Film Room: Chris Carson deserves more credit for his 100-yard performance (The Athletic)

In this game, Chris Carson was the lead back, carrying the ball 32 times for 103 rushing yards, the first time a Seahawks running back broke the 100-yard mark in 23 regular-season games.

Is running back Chris Carson’s recent production sustainable? (Seahawks Wire)

After just 13 combined touches the first two games of the season, Seattle Seahawks running back Chris Carson carried the ball 32 times for 102 yards against the Dallas Cowboys in Week 3.

• Seattle Seahawks ‘fired up’ by D.J. Fluker’s return to offensive line (AL.com)

With Fluker at right guard, Seattle had one more rushing attempt in Sunday’s game than it had in its first two games combined. The 39 rushing attempts helped the Seahawks earn a 5:28 advantage in time of possession after they’d had a 19:04 deficit in their first two games. Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson was sacked twice on Sunday after going down 12 times in the first two games. The Seahawks didn’t lose a turnover either, after coughing up five in the first two games.

How long can the Seahawks and Pete Carroll keep ‘working through stuff’ with Earl Thomas? (Seattle Times)

The popular wisdom has been that they need an “either-or” exit strategy from the Earl drama – pay him or trade him. But Carroll is trying to exist, and thrive, in the netherworld where they do neither.


Wednesday, September 26

J.R. Sweezy played so well at left guard last week that the Seahawks are keeping him there … for now (Seattle Times)

In his first game ever at that position after playing his previous 75 NFL career games at right guard, Sweezy kept finding himself going to the right side of the huddle during the early moments of Seattle’s eventual 24-13 win.

Five things Seahawks DC Ken Norton Jr. said Wednesday (Seattle Times)

The Seattle defense will have another appetizing opportunity Sunday, on the road against an Arizona offense that ranks dead last in the NFL in scoring offense (6.7 points per game)

Will the Seahawks have Doug Baldwin, Mychal Kendricks and K.J. Wright against Arizona? Pete Carroll has updates for you (Seattle Times)

Doug Baldwin practiced Wednesday. Earl Thomas did not.

Seahawks coach Pete Carroll talked about that and more during his Wednesday press conference.

WR Doug Baldwin returns to practice for Seattle Seahawks: ‘He looks very confident’ (Seattle Post-Intelligencer)

“He looks very confident that he can have a chance to play this week, so we’ll see how that goes,” Carroll said. “I’m really hopeful that he can do that. He’s really determined. It’s been a frustrating process for him and he’s dying to get back out there, so hopefully he can pull that together.”

Pete Carroll: Seattle in ‘good place’ with Earl Thomas despite absences (ESPN.com)

Coach Pete Carroll said he thinks the Seattle Seahawks and Earl Thomas are in “a good place” and that he’s not concerned about lingering drama after the All-Pro free safety said he sat out of practice last week in order to protect himself as he seeks a new contract.

• Inside the numbers: With Bradley McDougald, Seahawks again have star safety duo (The Athletic)

Seahawks safety Bradley McDougald is looking impressive so far this season alongside fellow safety Earl Thomas. The Athletic has the breakdown of his performance last week against the Cowboys.

Shaquill Griffin ‘just getting started’ as Richard Sherman’s replacement (ESPN)

Seattle Cornerback Griffin is starting to show that he can do what former Pro Bowler Richard Sherman did so well and so often during his seven seasons which is take the ball away.


Tuesday, September 25

8 big takeaways from Seattle Seahawks’ Week 3 win over Cowboys (Seattle Post-Intelligencer)

All the problems Seattle had in the first couple games — pass protection, a run game, an active pass rush — were non-existent against the Cowboys. Returning home to CenturyLink seemed to have done wonders for the team.

Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said Monday that disgruntled free safety Earl Thomas will face “consequences” for skipping a pair of practices last week, but he didn’t detail what the punishment would be and said he sympathizes with Thomas’ situation.

Clayton’s Observations: 5 things that worked for Seahawks in Week 3 win (710 ESPN Seattle)

Entering the game against Dallas, the situation was dire. The team was down a Pro Bowl receiver (Doug Baldwin), a Pro Bowl linebacker (K.J. Wright) and two starting offensive linemen (center Justin Britt and left guard Ethan Pocic). They were also 0-2 and underdogs at home.

Even though it wasn’t perfect, the Seahawks went on to beat the Cowboys 24-13. Let’s see what worked right.

Weekly wrap-up: Pete Carroll, Earl Thomas tap-dancing around uncertain future (The Athletic)

The 29-year-old free safety wants a new contract, and Seattle is seemingly uninterested in giving him one. Recognizing this, Thomas is willing to exert any ounce of leverage he has to eventually get what he wants.

That has led to Seattle’s best player publicly stating his refusal to practice if he feels even the slightest ailment during the week – expect him to feel some ailments. Thomas is willing to accept any financial consequences for this action. Carroll, speaking on KIRO-AM Monday morning, affirmed there would be consequences, though he wouldn’t elaborate, exercising his right to hide specific details.

Take a bow because Earl Thomas and Seattle face a dilemma (ESPN.com)

When Earl Thomas spoke publicly for the first time upon returning from his holdout, he said all he can do is put the best version of himself on display and “protect myself until I do get paid.”

Carroll: Thomas will face consequences for missing practice (Seattle Post-Intelligencer)

Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said Monday that disgruntled free safety Earl Thomas will face “consequences” for skipping a pair of practices last week, but he didn’t detail what the punishment would be and said he sympathizes with Thomas’ situation.

Seahawks announce Chuck Arnold replacing Peter McLoughlin as team president (710 ESPN Seattle)

In a mutual split, Peter McLoughlin’s expiring contract as team president will not be renewed and Chuck Arnold, the team’s previous COO will take McLoughlin’s role as president.

Arnold has been with the Seahawks for 25 years and his responsibilities will now include overseeing the Seahawks business operations and management of CenturyLink Field, among others.

McLoughlin was named the 2018 Executive of the Year by Seattle Business magazine and helped lead the Seahawks to consecutive trips to the Super Bowl in 2013 and 2014.

Earl Thomas is forcing the Seahawks or another team to pay him what he’s worth (SB Nation)

The Seahawks secondary is transitioning from the famed Legion of Boom to just some sort of legion before all goes boom.

Among the original members cornerback Richard Sherman is with San Francisco, safety Kam Chancellor announced intentions to retire due a severe neck injury and cornerback Brandon Browner was released in August of 2017.

That leaves unhappy safety Earl Thomas as the final remaining original member of the LOB.

Thomas is in the middle of an ugly contract dispute with Seattle and has been missing practice and sitting out of practice drills at his own convenience.

Seahawks center Justin Britt should be ready for Arizona (Seahawks Wire)

Center Justin Britt lined up for just four snaps against the Dallas Cowboys in Week 3. He was listed as questionable coming into the game after suffering a shoulder injury against the Bears in Week 2.

If Britt can’t go, Joey Hunt will be the likely replacement as the backup center saw the majority of the playing time in Week 3.

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