We’re back again with the next segment in the Interview with the Enemy series. This week, Kenneth Arthur of Field Gulls answers 5 quick questions before the Week 3 matchup pitting the New Orleans Saints in Seattle to face Russell Wilson and the Seahawks.
How healthy are the Seahawks coming into Week 3?
Kinda healthy actually. The Seahawks expect Ezekiel Ansah to make his 2019 debut after missing most of the last month or so with his shoulder injury. They also didn’t have Poona Ford, their starting defensive tackle who everyone is super high on, because of a calf injury and Pete Carroll thinks he could return too. There’s also a chance that receiver David Moore, who at one point was pegged as the number two next to Tyler Lockett until D.K. Metcalf happened, will make his season debut after breaking his arm a few weeks ago. (Yeah, a few weeks ago, but obviously it wasn’t a huge break. I’m not a doctor, so not sure if “huge breaks” are even a thing.) They got first round pick L.J. Collier back last week too, as well as starting left guard Mike Iupati. All told, the Saints are catching Seattle at maybe their healthiest of the season when it’s all said and done. They may be without special teams ace Neiko Thorpe or safety Tedric Thompson, who I’d signal as the most important players that could be out, but special teams has been fine and the safety spot seems about the same with or without Tedric.
If you were Sean Payton, how would you gameplan to attack the Seattle defense?
Man, I can’t even imagine being in Sean Payton’s head. Who could? If I was Sean Payton I would know a hell of a lot more of what to do about this than I currently do. Man, that guy knows what the hell he’s doing. It should be fun since Pete Carroll knows what the hell he’s doing too. It’s always a great offensive-defensive standoff between these teams, isn’t it? I wish I was Payton but since I’m not and I’m sure I’ll get this wrong, I’d say to ... God strike me down, I guess ... establish the run. If run defense is Carroll’s biggest concern, and it seems that it is, then I imagine it really gets him peeved when Seattle is bad at it. The Seahawks spent this offseason trying to fix a run defense that was formerly top-5 and had fallen to the middle of the pack, by re-signing linebackers Mychal Kendricks and KJ Wright, signing defensive tackle Al Woods, establishing Poona as a starter, and trading for defensive end Jadeveon Clowney. The results through two weeks are that Joe Mixon, Gio Bernard, and James Conner ran a combined 24 times and gained 64 yards. Carroll’s gonna hate it if Kamara has 10 carries for 81 yards at the half and Latavius Murray’s picking up 3-5 yard chunks unchallenged. I mean, I don’t know how you do that -- Payton probably has a good idea -- but without Brees and knowing that Bridgewater’s gonna probably be playing it a bit safer, it’d be great for New Orleans to open up and explode through running lanes to start the game. I’m sure that’ll make it harder to drape two players on Thomas or to keep track of Jared Cook. Kamara’s an exceptional player, I don’t put it past him.
Who’s one player on the Seahawks that Saints fans might not be familiar with who you think will make a big impact in the game?
I’ll give you three: Poona Ford, Al Woods, and Quinton Jefferson. These are the guys not named Jadeveon Clowney, Ezekiel Ansah, and Jarran Reed and they’ve done an amazing job picking up the slack of those three players. Not that Clowney’s been bad, he’s just getting acclimated to the situation and he’s not been his dominant self (except sometimes he has) but these three other players are fantastic in their own respect. Jefferson was a star in Week 1 with two sacks and two batted passes. Woods has won battle after battle in the run game. Ford missed last week but he’s a 2018 undrafted free agent out of Texas who’s also the shortest defensive lineman in the NFL but he’s just a monster sometimes and can be really disruptive. It’s going to be really interesting to see what a full rotation of defensive linemen looks like for Seattle and now that Ziggy is expected to play, it gets even more entertaining. (For us.) Ford has a calf injury though so he may not be able to. Undrafted free agent Bryan Mone started last week because of that.
Finish this sentence: If the Seahawks want to win this game, they must _____.
Force Teddy to beat them. I think they want to see Bridgewater throw the ball at least 35 times. If they can make Kamara look useless as a runner and force Bridgewater to come in there and make big time throws after fours off from being a regular starting quarterback, then I think that’s their best chance for him to make the 3-5 mistakes that they need him to make. (A mistake can be a bad throw or decision on third down, an interception, a fumble, a missed read, a bad audible -- I mean, I’m sure Wilson makes 3-5 mistakes on many of his good days, same with Brees -- so 3-5 is not even a lot.) If they have to account for Kamara on every play because he’s just killing them, then that’s the defense’s biggest concern to keep the Saints under 20-25 points. Offensively, I think the Seahawks gotta protect Wilson from Cam Jordan and company, and they gotta execute on their big plays. Offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer’s going to have some big plays dialed up and last week they executed on nearly every single one of them. Metcalf looked way beyond his years. They need to execute those big plays. Overall, I think these are a couple general things to keep in mind. Make Teddy beat you and help Russell beat them.
What is your prediction for the game? Who wins? Final score?
I have to say that after his first two seasons in Minnesota, I was not nearly as high on Teddy Bridgewater as everybody else. In fact, I kinda wondered if he should even be the starter the following season and then he blew out his knee. I have not seen enough of Bridgewater to believe that he’s a starting caliber quarterback and now that’s compounded with four years of sitting on a doctor’s table or a bench. I was surprised to see he had so much value in the trade market and to the Saints but clearly they see stuff that I don’t. And they should! They know way more about this crap than I do. I can’t get in Sean Payton’s freakin’ head. But to me, Teddy’s a backup and whether it’s him or Gardner Minshew or Luke Falk or Kyle Allen, a backup is often just a backup. They’re there to get you through it because somebody has to but we all know that this is a monumental moment for a franchise that has relied on one elite (in my opinion, the GOAT has to be either him or Brady) quarterback for the last 13 seasons and now has to have that offense run by somebody else. Teddy was prepared for this as much as any backup could be but a backup is still a backup. That also doesn’t mean that the Saints will be bad or even worse! The Eagles won the Super Bowl with Nick Foles! And you know what Nick Foles is in my mind? A backup. The Jaguars might literally be better of with Minshew than Foles because we don’t even know what Minshew is yet. He was a backup by default because there was never a tes... sorry, this is not a preview of the Jaguars. My point is that I have no damn idea what the Saints offense will look like with Bridgewater. Maybe it’s great! Payton’s got a smart offensive mind. Kamara is amazing. Thomas is amazing. The offensive line is amazing. Do that many amazing things make for an amazing quarterback or did an amazing quarterback heighten all of those things? It’s a tough call. I think the main advantage here for Seattle is that they are at home and that Bridgewater’s unknown future, while potentially great, is also potentially the same or worse version of what I had seen from him with the Vikings. I don’t know how good or bad he’ll be and people who predict stuff like that are maybe insecure but I know that Russell Wilson is great. That’s why I’ll pick the home team with the more established QB and a roster that is potentially very healthy. Seahawks 27, Saints 17
Thank-you, Kenneth, for taking the time to answer our questions. Saints fans, make sure you check out Kenneth and the work his guys are doing over at Field Gulls. You can follow Kenneth on Twitter @KennethArthuRS, Field Gulls @FieldGulls, and of course you can follow me @dunnellz.