Eagles-Seahawks Preview Q&A With Bob Condotta

Discussing Russell Wilson's health, life after Marshawn Lynch and who will win.

Russell Wilson and Vinny Curry. (USA Today Sports)

Russell Wilson and Vinny Curry. (USA Today Sports)

In this week’s installment of Opposition Research, we talked to Seattle Times Seahawks beat reporter Bob Condotta. We discussed Russell Wilson’s health, why Seattle’s run game has struggled after Marshawn Lynch’s retirement and who will win on Sunday, among a few other topics.

What are the Seahawks’ strengths this year?

“Well, it’s hard to ignore the obvious — the defense has played pretty well. Some of the stats aren’t quite where they’ve been in the past in terms of yards and stuff like that because they played an entire extra quarter against Arizona, but when everybody’s healthy and they’re there, this is still an elite defensive team. Defensive end Cliff Avril is having a monster year; he probably should make his first Pro Bowl this year. Defensive end Frank Clark has come on and really helped full the void because Michael Bennett has been out for a few weeks. But the defense is largely the same guys who have been out there for five years now. They’ve led the NFL four straight years in fewest points allowed, and that’s something they’d like to try to do again.

“And Russell Wilson being healthy has changed things a lot. When he’s healthy, the receiving corps is probably better in terms of making big plays down the field with Tyler Lockett, Doug Baldwin and Jimmy Graham.”

What are the Seahawks’ weaknesses this year?

“The offensive line has really been a work in progress; that was something they weren’t shy about being a little bit of a challenge putting together. In the last few years, they’ve made decisions and some veterans didn’t return, so basically every single offensive lineman from the Super Bowl team is not there anymore. A lot of them just got away in free agency and were guys they weren’t worried about bringing back. It’s really just been piecing together the offensive line, and trying to get the running game going. They feel like it’s starting to come together, but for a lot of the season that has been a struggle.”

What’s been the problem with the offensive line?

“It’s really young. They’re starting two rookies [left tackle George Fant and right guard Germain Ifedi] and a second-year guy (left guard Mark Glowinski) who only started one game last year, so they’re essentially starting three first-year players. The guy who has been the best is center Justin Britt; he’s probably the one guy you’d say from Week 1 has been really consistent and has played pretty well. I think the other four spots have been works in progress. George Fant playing at left tackle — he’s played three games now and he went from never starting a game in college at all to suddenly he’s the starting left tackle for the Seattle Seahawks. Germain Ifedi was their first-round pick and he had a really good preseason, but then he got hurt right before the season so it took him a while to get back into it.”

What’s life been like post-Marshawn Lynch for Seattle?

“They haven’t changed their running style because of Marshawn Lynch, but it’s looked different this year because Russell hasn’t been healthy. They haven’t really been doing the zone-read stuff because that doesn’t fool a team if they know Russell can’t run. They’ve really been trying to figure out week to week what Russell can do health-wise, and tailor their game plan that way. Their post-Marshawn Lynch plan was to have Thomas Rawls, but then he got hurt in Week 2. They drafted C.J. Prosise in the third round, and he got hurt in the first week of the season. It’s really been injuries as much as anything that has stalled their running game, but it’s certainly been noticeable that they’ve had trouble with consistent production at tailback.”

Are the Seahawks battling any notable injuries or suspensions heading into this game? Is Russell Wilson 100 percent yet?

“Michael Bennett isn’t going to play again; that’s the biggest one. He had arthroscopic surgery a couple of weeks ago. Otherwise, this should be as healthy as they’ve been in quite a while. Tight end Luke Willson should be back this week, so that’ll give them another receiving target after he was out for about a month. And I think Russell looked pretty good Sunday. It’s always difficult saying a guy is 100 percent 10 games into an NFL season when he’s had three notable injuries, so I don’t know he’ll be 100 percent any time during the season, but if he can continue to play the way he did against New England, that’s doing all of the things the Seahawks need him to do. I imagine as the season wears on they would hope he can get to a point where he feels more comfortable running; I think they’re still trying to not have him do much running beyond the line of scrimmage.”

Who do you think will on Sunday?

“I’ll pick the Seahawks. They’ve been a really good team for quite a while, they’re leading the division and their defense is generally really hard to score against. They don’t give up a lot of big plays; they make you hunt and peck your way down the field. The offense is getting healthier and they’ve played a lot better with Russell being able to move around more.”