The Washington Commanders are heading to Seattle to take on the Seahawks for a pivotal Week 10 matchup. Here are five things to know about their next opponent.
1. The Seahawks just returned home after a tough loss on the East Coast.
Last week, the Washington Commanders headed north to Massachusetts and came home with a 20-17 win over the New England Patriots. And while they were finding their way off a two-game losing streak, the Seahawks were in Baltimore struggling to build offensive momentum in a 37-3 loss to the Ravens.
It was ugly from the start for the Seahawks. They punted the ball on their first three drives of the day and gave the ball back to Baltimore off an interception from Geno Smith. Meanwhile, the Ravens jumped out to a 17-3 lead thanks to a pair of scores from Gus Edwards.
It got worse for the Seahawks from there. They scored on fourth of their five possessions in the second half, including a 40-yard run from Keaton Mitchell, who paced the team with 138 yards on nine carries.
Although neither side of the ball looked efficient, the score should not be interpreted as the Seahawks lacking talent. They're still a talented football team with dynamic weapons, and they will be motivated to get back on track in front of a raucous crowd.
2. An inability to convert on third down.
It's no doubt that in any game, and especially a close matchup, it is imperative for teams to convert third downs. Without them, any chance of scoring is tanked, and the rhythm a team needs to get into a scoring pattern is quickly halted. Lucky for Washington, it's something Seattle needs help to get right.
In Seattle's loss to Baltimore, they had an 8.33% third-down conversion rate, getting just one of 12 attempts in Week 9. But this wasn't just a problem for them against the Ravens, as they rank 30th in the league on their ability to execute on the most important down in the game.
"We have to convert on third downs, which is everybody," Seattle's head coach Pete Carroll said. "We got rushed pretty good. They rushed us and mixed their stuff well. It was hard like they've been on everybody. We just have to find out ways to make first downs. I think we were 1-for-12 on third down. You can't play offense like that and expect anything. It's as hard as it gets."
Despite the team's winning record of 5-3, they know that without converting on third downs, they're giving teams an opportunity to stay competitive. Two of Seattle's wins fell within the range of six points or less.
This is a positive sign for Washington, which has struggled at times to get opposing offenses off the field.
After taking down the New England Patriots in Week 9, the Washington Commanders have begun preparing for their cross country matchup with the Seattle Seahawks.
3. On Geno Smith's draft day, Sam Howell was twelve years old.
On Smith's 2013 draft day, Sam Howell was finishing up the eighth grade.
Washington and Seattle's quarterback situations are in stark contrast of each other. Howell, who had just one NFL start before this season, is still figuring out how to play the position at the professional level, although he has shown . And for the Seahawks is 33-year-old Geno Smith- a veteran player who has played with the New York Jets, New York Giants, and Los Angeles Chargers before going to Seattle in 2021.
The once 39th overall draft pick has yet to deliver much to the table for his career until last season when Smith broke into the game, breaking a franchise record last season for single-season passing yards.
But now, Smith is again raising questions about what he can bring to an NFL offense.
In Seattle's game against Baltimore, Smith relentlessly failed to get the offense moving or create moves that would lead to a touchdown. He's averaging 5.6 yards per attempt and repeatedly failed to get consistent movement for offense.
When comparing quarterbacks on both sides of the ball, Sam Howell outperforms Smith in every category where it matters. But still, Smith's eleven years of experience could be what Seattle needs to guide them through a win they desperately need after being blown out in Baltimore.
4. Their offensive success is majorly on explosive plays.
While Seattle's offense does have stretches of inconsistency, it does have a knack for hitting explosive plays.
This should be a concern for the Commanders, who are among the worst in the NFL at allowing explosive plays. During his Thursday press conference, defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio said the inability to prevent such plays is what has undermined the unit all season.
The explosive plays in both Eagles games resulted in the Commanders going 0-2 against the division opponent. And last week against the Patriots, the Commanders seemed to correct some of this and limit this frequency, but they still gave up a 64-yard run that resulted in a touchdown.
5. An unsteady defense with solid pieces.
While the Seahawks showed early season promise with defensive coordinator Clint Hurtt's defensive strategy, it has slipped away for them and left them scrambling to recover after giving up 37 points last week. Regardless, that doesn't necessarily mean Washington should underestimate the potential for a quality game, as the Commander's offensive line is still a young and growing group.
Seattle's Bobby Wagner has been solid in the linebacker spot as he has been for the last 11 years of his career, but more than that, he brings a sense of leadership that Washington needs to look out for as the game gets tough. And on the outside edge is rookie cornerback Devon Witherspoon.
Witherspoon is 13th among all cornerbacks this season with an overall grade of 80.2, according to Pro Football Focus. He's been targeted 39 times but only allowed a catch rate of 46.2%. Quarterback don't normally fare well when throwing in his direction, as he's allowed an average passer rating of 56.7.
Washington should have the offensive firepower to have an answer for Witherspoon, but the pressure will be on Howell deliver accurate passes to limit the possibility of a game-changing turnover.