The Titans return home from Jacksonville tied atop the AFC South with a 1-1 record. Waiting for them in Nashville is a perennial Super Bowl contender in the Seattle Seahawks.
This is a huge game for the Titans, who failed their first test against a playoff team in Week 1. Seattle brings with them one of the league’s toughest defenses and an offense that seems to always find ways to make plays.
The Seahawks will be a very good measuring stick for the Titans. We wrote back in July about how important the first four weeks are for Tennessee. A win over the Seahawks would put them in prime position to start 3-1.
Heading into the matchup, we tapped our friends at the Seahawks Wire and Dean Smith-Richard was kind enough to answer a few questions.
Titans Wire: The Seahawks are 2-10 in September road games under Pete Carroll and haven’t won one since 2013. What do you think the reason is for this trend?
Dean Smith-Richard: The Seahawks have long been a second half team — second half of games, second half of the season. This could be due to a few factors — one is the otherworldly home record they have. Seattle rarely loses at home, only dropping two at home in a season twice in the Pete Carroll era, so having seven or eight wins in your pocket like that may lead to taking their foot off the gas on the road early. I never really buy too much into the time change, but that seems to be a factor as well, because they simply don’t play as well in games with a 10 a.m PST start time.
TW: Seattle’s offense is struggling again this season. Besides the offensive line play, are there any other issues you can point to?
DSR: There are certainly more factors at work than just the line, for sure. Russell Wilson is taking an increasing amount of flak, and most of it is justified. There were a couple sacks against the 49ers that were 100 percent on him – which doesn’t help the line’s reputation, even though they protected well on those plays. He has also displayed a troubling tendency to sail balls in certain situations. He has missed a wide-open Tyler Lockett twice so far, and only the 49ers defense being terrible saved him from having two interceptions on his stat line. And despite question No. 4 down there, Marshawn Lynch isn’t here, and the offense is still adapting to that. Carroll alluded to possible changes this week, which I think is slightly overdue, as they need to get to a more balanced style of play. There are plenty of weapons on offense, they just need to be used. Four receptions for nine yards is not why you give up a first-round pick and pay $8 million a year for Jimmy Graham.
TW: Pretend age doesn’t exist. Are you taking Seattle’s secondary or Seattle’s pass rush to start a team with?
DSR: This is a seriously hard question. Both are playing incredible football right now. The secondary includes two players who should be Hall of Famers by the time all is said and done (Earl Thomas and Richard Sherman), and an argument could be made for Kam Chancellor. But the defensive line, if I were a GM and would have it for five to 10 years, would be next to impossible to pass up. It’s easy to forget right now that Malik McDowell is on the shelf right now, and he fits right into the center of that line. While I love the secondary with all my heart and soul (and think Shaq Griffin is the next great Seattle corner), the depth on that D-line and ability to disrupt every facet of the game makes it my choice. Like the saying goes: You can’t build from the outside.
TW: Chris Carson looks like the real deal. Is he going to be the feature back on Sunday, or will we see a running back by committee?
DSR: As much as Seattle has one, yes. Even in the Marshawn Lynch heyday, he would often get the whole third quarter off. Expect 20 to 25 carries from Carson, 10 or so for Eddie Lacy/Thomas Rawls and a few miscellaneous carries to C.J. Prosise.
TW: If you could put one player from the Titans on the Seahawks, who would it be and why?
DSR: [Closes eyes. Throws dart at offensive line depth chart.] In seriousness, this is an easy one — left tackle Taylor Lewan. Are there issues besides the offensive line? You bet. Would a lot of them pretty much go away with a Pro Bowler at tackle? Absolutely.