Countdown to kickoff: Seahawks vs Jaguars

Posted Sep 22, 2013

The 2-0 Seahawks host the 0-2 Jacksonville Jaguars at CenturyLink Field on Sunday afternoon in a mismatch of a matchup that evokes memories of some sage advice from former coach Chuck Knox.

Greetings from a currently sunny CenturyLink Field, where the 2-0 Seahawks are hosting the 0-2 Jacksonville Jaguars this afternoon on the first day of fall, and looking to avoid falling from grace.

This is the kind of game the Seahawks should win, against the kind of team that they should dominate. But we all know that lofty expectations can often produce a lofty letdown, and that’s why – as former Seahawks head coach Chuck Knox always used to say – they play the games.

The warning label that Knox would wrap around games like this also included a humorous explanation about how the game would be decided by the players, rather than by rolling two wheelbarrows heaped with statistics onto the field and dumping the contents at the 50-yard line to determine the outcome.

If that scenario was the case today, this one would be over before the wheelbarrows could reach midfield.

The Seahawks feature the No. 1-ranked defense in the NFL, a unit that also has allowed 10 points in two games. The Jaguars have the 32nd-ranked offense, and didn’t score their first touchdown – their only touchdown – until late in the fourth quarter of last week’s loss to the Raiders in Oakland.

The Seahawks lead the league in turnovers (seven) and also turnover differential (plus-5), while the Jaguars have forced only one turnover in two games.

The Seahawks rushing offense ranks No. 7 in the league, and Marshawn Lynch is coming off a 98-yard, two-touchdown rushing performance against a very good San Francisco 49ers defense last Sunday night. The Jaguars are allowing the second-highest average rushing yards in the league, and yielded 226 to the Raiders last week.

And so on, and so on. Statistically, this one is a definite mismatch.

But there’s more to this game than stats and stuff. There’s the fact that the Jaguars are coached by Gus Bradley, who was the Seahawks’ defensive coordinator the past four seasons (2009-12). He knows the Seahawks’ offense and defense better than any opposing coach in the league, many of the Seahawks’ players still like and respect him and knocking off the Seahawks on their home field would make his first season in Jacksonville.

There’s also human nature at play on a day when Mother Nature could play a part in this game. The Seahawks just smoked the 49ers in their highly anticipated home opener. They’re looking at back-to-back road trips the next two weeks to Houston and Indianapolis to play Texans and Colts teams that advanced to the playoffs last season and ran the Seahawks out of their stadiums the last time they played there – 34-7 at Indy and 34-7 at Houston, both in 2009, the season before head coach Pete Carroll arrived.

The Seahawks also have spent the week being reminded just how good they are by the same pundits who were reminded last week just how good this team can be.

This is where Carroll’s “every game is a championship game” philosophy will be tested. It served the Seahawks well in not overlooking the Carolina Panthers in their season opener on the road with the 49ers’ matchup looming on national TV. It also served them well in not being swept away by the hype leading into last week’s home opener against the defending NFC Champions.

It must serve them again this afternoon, against a team everyone is expecting the Seahawks to dispatch in impressive fashion.

“The message does stay exactly the same,” Carroll said early in the week, offering one variation on a theme that would be repeated throughout the week. “The highly hyped game is long gone already. That one is behind us. The message is, for us, to be disciplined about the way we prepare. It isn’t about who you’re playing, it’s about how we prepare. It’s been that way going on four years now, talking this way and getting these guys convinced how powerful that is and how that gives you the best opportunity to be highly consistent.

“We do not want our play to vary based on who we’re playing.”

With that said, enjoy the game – this latest championship opportunity for the Seahawks – with kickoff and televised coverage on CBS (KIRO/7 in Seattle) set for 1:25 p.m. PT.