Much ado is being made about Russell Wilson’s return to Seattle, but if we can look beyond the obvious (if admittedly compelling…) drama that feeds into this narrative, reality starts to set in; the Seattle Seahawks are getting ready to take on an exceptionally talented quarterback and his corps of capable and highly-drafted receivers, and they are doing so with a largely rebuilt defensive roster, especially at the corner position.
The Denver Broncos, on the other hand, have spent several seasons amassing a group of versatile wide receivers who all have the potential to be matchup nightmares on any given Monday. Meanwhile, the Seahawks are looking to send out an almost entirely rebuilt position group that may see veteran Mike Jackson and rookie Tariq Woolen getting the call as starters, with preseason dud Justin Coleman in line as their primary Nickel. Sidney Jones is a big x-factor here, as his status is trending upwards ahead of Monday night, though still highly uncertain.
Seahawks didn’t practice fully today–only a walk-through, weird week. But if they had this is their report. Notable that all signs continue to point to CB Sidney Jones starting Monday night vs Denver, RB Ken Walker missing the opener. pic.twitter.com/6MIcWbEvIU
Sidney Jones or no, this has the potential to generate some terrifying matchups for what basically amounts to an entirely new defense, given the shakeups on both the roster and the coaching staff. But getting back to the opposing team, who are these fiery and feisty pass catchers?
Jeudy has had ups and downs as a pro so far, but his talent is undeniable. After being limited to 10 games in his second season due to injury, Jeudy is looking to get back on track with the best quarterback situation he has had since his days with the Alabama Crimson Tide. He can move around, having played primarily in the slot in 2021 with KJ Hamler missing some time; but with Tim Patrick out for the season due to injury, Jeudy and Courtland Sutton are listed atop the Denver Broncos official depth chart as their primary outside guys. And Jeudy can absolutely light people up on the outside.
Filthy route here by Jerry Jeudy. pic.twitter.com/yxffH3buHt
The former 2nd round pick out of SMU, Courtland Sutton is only a few years removed from his first and only 1,000 yard campaign, which came in 2019 (somewhat ironically, this was Drew Lock’s rookie season, where the Broncos split duties between Lock, Joe Flacco, and Brandon Allen). He doesn’t have the literal size and speed of DK Metcalf, but at 6’3” and 218 lbs, he is the big-bodied wideout with enough speed and route running prowess to be a legitimate red zone threat. And from what I recall, Russell Wilson likes big-bodied red zone threats.
I can’t wait for the Russell Wilson/Courtland Sutton duo
This third year player and former Penn State Nittany Lion wants to be Russell Wilson’s new Tyler Lockett, reportedly. While Hamler’s career has been de-railed by injuries in his first couple seasons, he is massively talented and is likely to be facing a favorable matchup against one Justin Coleman…
KJ Hamler has the best matchup of any Denver WR…
He’ll face Justin Coleman in the slot:
Coleman was outside the Top-90 cornerbacks in coverage last year.
And Seattle has 4 other corners on the injury report.
Second year running back Javonte Williams was featured as a pass catcher frequently during his rookie season, receiving more than 50 targets as a route runner while hauling in 43 receptions and a trio of touchdowns. Williams may represent a bit of an x-factor on this offense; he will be splitting time with Melvin Gordon, and it is entirely possible that both talented backs will see the field together. Example:
Javonte Williams has the potential to be a tough matchup for the Seahawks with so many injuries and unproven depth in their linebacker corps and secondary. https://t.co/p9qj8Onl2A
The Denver Broncos shipped Noah Fant over to the west side as part of the Russell Wilson blockbuster trade, which means that they will likely be looking towards their pair of largely unproven tight ends in Albert Okwuegbunam and Greg Dulcich. Consider this to be the one area that I am not overly concerned about heading into this matchup (now, go add these guys to your fantasy football lineup, because I am literally always wrong when I say something like this).
Let’s backtrack a minute and go back to the inaugural game of the 2022 NFL season; putting it bluntly, Jalen Ramsey looked awful in the Los Angeles Rams’ dismantling at the hands of the Buffalo Bills on Thursday Night Football. He wasn’t alone, as the defending Super Bowl champs generally looked overwhelmed on both sides of the ball, but given his status as a perennial All-Pro/Pro Bowler, Ramsey looked particularly lost on his way to surrendering two touchdowns and a perfect passer rating to Josh Allen and the Bills’ pass catchers. He still led the team’s corners in the snap count, as he played 100% of their defensive snaps according to Pro Football Focus, and he led the team in snaps covering the slot.
Now, I bring this up for the following reason: the Seahawks don’t currently have a defensive back who has demonstrated the ability to be a game changing player the way that Ramsey has been since coming to Los Angeles; and, as optimistic as I try to be, Seattle can’t expect to have a defense that approximates the overall talent of that of their aforementioned NFC West rivals in 2022. Forgive me for saying this, but anything that Jalen Ramsey did on Thursday, Justin Coleman could do worse on Monday. Sure, Sidney Jones led the team with 10 pass breakups last season (tied with DJ Reed), Tariq Woolen is exciting, and Mike Jackson looked great in the preseason. But even in the best-case-scenario situation, these guys are going to need to lean heavily on support from their veteran safeties if they want to have any chance of limiting this potentially high-powered passing attack.
The Denver Broncos, on the other hand, have an offense that may actually approximate that of the Bills; they have a mobile quarterback who likes to throw it deep, a multi-talented running back group, and a bunch of pass catchers with the ability to get open anywhere on the field. This is not to say that they will end up looking anywhere near as good as Sean McDermott’s squad did last week, but they probably don’t need to; the Broncos could stumble and still head home with a victory. If the Seahawks want to walk away from this game with a “W,” however, they are going to need to get some lights-out performances out of their untested and unproven cornerback group. Needless to say, I will be interested to see how Clint Hurtt manages these defensive deficiencies in what could arguably be described as the NFL’s most anticipated game of Week 1.
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