Ed: Some Giants fans still don’t understand why the team lost Julian Love in free agency. How is Love doing for the Seahawks?
John: My best guess is that the Giants simply had too many other moving pieces while trying to fit everyone they wanted to keep. Not that Joe Schoen couldn’t have come up with a way to fit Love in, just that there is only so much time in the day and between Daniel Jones and Saquon Barkley there was no shortage of other, bigger names that likely were higher priority. With that in mind, we’re very happy to have him in Seattle, even if some fans were not completely pleased with his performance Sunday against the Carolina Panthers. He carried a Questionable designation on the Friday injury report due to a hamstring injury, and it definitely seemed like that showed in his on field performance. Even with him hobbled, though, the coaching staff still apparently felt he was still the best option, which one can interpret either regarding Love’s talents or as a sign they may not trust the depth at safety, so take your pick.
As for what Love has been doing on the field, he’s done a perfectly adequate job filling in for strong safety Jamal Adams as Adams has continued to work his way back from the torn quadriceps tendon he suffered in the season opener against the Denver Broncos. With Adams set to return in Week 4 against the Giants, exactly where Love plays on defense will certainly be closely watched by Seahawks fans, and my guess is that we see him as the fifth defensive back, primarily covering the slot.
Ed: What will the return of Jamal Adams mean to Seattle’s defense?
John: This is one of those great unknowns heading into the game. There is no doubt that Adams will be fired up and bring a level of energy that the defense has been lacking at times, but the Hawks defense is 29th in points allowed, and that is in large part because they have been shredded through the air. The Seahawks defense is currently tied with the Los Angeles Chargers for the most pass plays of 20+ yards allowed, and the Chargers at least have the excuse of having faced the Miami Dolphins. Through the first three weeks each of the opponents the Seahawks have faced have registered their season high in points against Seattle, though I’m hoping that trend does not continue given that the Giants scored 31 against the Cardinals a couple weeks ago.
When it comes to actual on field performance, secondary play in the NFL requires everyone in the back seven to be on the same page and to have rapport with one another. The simple fact that Adams has less than two full weeks of practice with the rest of the secondary, combined with a rookie at one cornerback spot and injuries leaving a question mark about who will be starting at corner on the opposite side, give Daniel Jones and the Giants a chance for a get right game offensively.
Ed: If you could take one player off the Giants’ roster and put him into Seattle’s starting lineup, who would it be? Why?
John: If the Giants would be so kind as to send Leonard Williams to the visiting locker room Monday afternoon to suit up, I don’t think any Seahawks fans would take issue with that. Jarran Reed has been outstanding the first three weeks of the season, but between a groin injury and a complete lack of depth on the defensive interior, it’s a position of strength that could very quickly become a liability, and Williams would certainly help in that regard.
Ed: There were some who thought the Giants might move up in the draft to get Jaxon Smith-Njigba. How is Smith-Njigba doing? Was he worth the 20th overall pick?
John: Just like with almost all rookies, especially early picks, fan expectations were likely too high for JSN to begin with, and then he broke a bone in his wrist in the preseason opener and missed some time during camp after having it surgically repaired. The injury led into a role that wasn’t as developed as many fans had hoped for right out of the gate, and even though he played through it, it was possible to see him protecting the injured arm at times, especially when being tackled. Add in playing behind two Pro Bowl receivers and injuries to multiple starters on the offensive line leading Seattle to change up how they approach the passing game, and it’s been a slower start than many anticipated.
On the positive side, even though he has just nine catches for 57 yards through the first three games, that’s more catches for more yards than Tyler Lockett had through his first three games in the NFL. Lockett certainly wasn’t a first round pick, but he also wasn’t playing through a broken wrist. With Seattle using so much quick game due to the injuries to the offensive line, it’s really limited JSN’s production, and in particular many fans (and fantasy football players) are extremely concerned about the fact that JSN’s aDOT is the lowest of any qualifying receiver in the NFL. As the Seahawks offensive line regains its health and Geno Smith is able to attack defenses deep with Lockett and DK Metcalf, that should open up the intermediate and underneath for JSN to be involved in the offense and accumulate more production. Until that time, though, JSN will be stuck in a situation where he’s behind two Pro Bowlers on an offense that frequently uses multiple tight end sets to give extra help to the inexperienced tackles.
Ed: This looks like a ’50-50’ game. What do you think will be the deciding factors? Care to make a prediction?
John: I think the game will be close, and think that even with the injury issues on the offensive line the Seahawks offense will just be too potent for the Giants to handle. I know Seattle is technically a 1-point underdog, but they’ve put 37 points on the board in each of the last two games, and I expect the offense to again score a significant number of points. Given the aforementioned issues of the Seahawks defense, I expect New York to also be able to put some points on the board, and my best guess is something like 30-24 Seahawks in a game that starts slow, with both offenses heating up as the game goes along.