The Chicago Bears are in full freefall and the Sam Hurd news that broke on Thursday is the cherry on top but there is still a football game to be played on Sunday. The Seattle Seahawks come in, winners of four of their last five games. If they can beat the Bears on Sunday, they would move ahead of them in the chase for the final Wild Card spot.
To help us prepare for the home finale, we’ve enlisted the help of Keith Myers, editor of 12th Man Rising, the fine Seattle Seahawks blog, to help us out with our weekly 5 Questions segment. Here are my questions and Keith’s answers:
1. Before we get to the game, there’s a lot of speculation that Bears GM Jerry Angelo may retire at the end of the season, which would clear the way for Tim Ruskell to take over as the Bears GM. What can you tell Bears fans about Ruskell? Are we going out of the frying pan into the fryer?
Your fans wont want to read what those around the Seahawks have to say about Ruskell. He is genuinely hated in Seattle, and for good reason. He mismanaged the roster and systematically eroded the talent on the team to a point where it had to be blown up and rebuild from scratch.
I can tell you that Ruskell tends to like football players over athletes. He looks for smart, high football IQ players who tend to not have the draft combine measurables coveted by more NFL teams. His approach worked great in his first year in Seattle, when he replaced half of the defense and got Seattle into the superbowl. The problem is that, as more and more of the roster was replaced with that type of player, the Seahawks weren’t able to avoid getting pushed around on both sides of the ball.
Ruskell is also fairly poor at managing the roster construction. He once kept 2 kickers on the roster all season. He also went his entire tenure in Seattle with only drafting 2 offensive lineman, while in the same time span, he drafted 4 fullbacks. His draft plan was to avoid busts (his only real bust was Aaron Curry) but he also never drafted any pro-bowlers either.
2. The Seahawks come in as one of the hotter teams in the NFL, going 4-1 in the last 5 games. What is the sense around Seattle, do you have a shot at the playoffs? Is there any buzz around this team?
I think there’s a bit of cautious optimism surrounding the Seahawks. They are capable of winning their last 3 games and getting into the playoffs, but they’re also capable of losing to a much inferior team like they did against Cleveland and DC. While I think fans want to believe, they also understand that this is a young team that makes the mistakes that young teams tend to make.
3. Tell me a little bit about Beast Mode. Do you think Marshawn Lynch can rack up big yardage against this Chicago Bears defense? Who is an under the radar Seahawks offensive player that the Bears defense should be focused on stopping?
Lynch is really running strong right now, even behind the Seahawks patchwork offensive line that has 3 starters in IR. It will be tough for any team to stop him at this point. Lynch was able to run on Baltimore’s defense a few weeks ago, so I don’t think any defense scares Lynch and the running game right now. That said, the Bears have one of most talented front 7 in the entire NFL, and the Seahawks line is full of holes, so I think it will be tough going for most of the game for Lynch. Just dont be surprised when at the end of the day he has 80+ yards and a TD to his credit.
As for an under the radar player, I don’t think Doug Baldwin counts as under the radar any more. The undrafted rookie’s season seems to have been noticed by most people who cover the NFL. Instead, I’m going to say receiver Golden Tate. Tate started the season buried on the depth chart, but has stepped up and proven to be a dynamic playmaker after Sydney Rice was placed on IR.
4. It’s no secret that the Bears offense has been struggling without Jay Cutler and Matt Forte. Will Caleb Hanie and the Bears offense do anything against the Seahawks defense?
I can’t imagine that they will. The Seahawks have a really stout defense against the run. (Opposing teams are averaging just 3.7 yds/carry against them, 4th best in the league.) Combine that with a good young secondary that’s really improved as the season has progressed, and you have what could be a long day for Hanie. Seattle has had trouble generating a pass rush at time, so there is hope for the Bears. Chicago just can’t let Seattle get out in front early. If that happens, Chris Clemons will be able to pin his ears back and really come after Hanie.
5. What’s your prediction for Sunday, including a score please?
Without Cutler, the Bears offense just hasn’t been good enough to win. Even if Forte returns, he’ll be running against one of the league’s top rushing defenses. I just don’t see the Bears scoring enough points to win this one.
Seahawks 23 – 13 Bears
Be sure to head over to 12th Man Rising to see my answers to Keith’s questions.