Never shall it be uttered that the Seahawks want this Rams game as much as gravity wants down.
“No difference this week as we approach this one coming up quick,” ho-hummed Shane Waldron, who wants it bad, because he wants to justify the job promotion he won after helping stoke the rivalry in January.
“The playoff game, we didn’t play clean, across the board,” said Russell Wilson, who threw a pick-six and had one of his worst playoff games in the 30-20 loss to the Rams. He hates being unclean.
“They were a standard last year. We’ll see how it goes,” said Pete Carroll, referring to the Los Angeles defense that was in 2020 similar to what his was a few years ago — dominant like no other.
The Seahawks have worn that game for 10 months like burlap underwear. They won’t say it. But it’s true.
It’s fair to expect to see all the play action, misdirection and change of pace that Waldron, the offensive coordinator, flashed as Rams coach Sean McVay’s No. 1 assistant.
It’s fair to expect that Wilson, back to his “A” game in the final 35 minutes against San Francisco Sunday, will seek to re-ignite on the Thursday night national TV stage the MVP talk he stirred early last season when #LetRussCook was a thing.
It’s fair to expect that Carroll’s debatable personnel decisions on hiring expensive veterans, such as SS Jamal Adams, in the absence of good drafts, will get a full chance to justify themselves in an all-in 2021 season — much as the Rams did when they sold out a chunk of their future to get 33-year-old gunslinger Matthew Stafford to run their show in the manner of Wilson.
If the Seahawks pull off a second NFC West win in five days, some hefty credit figures to go to what Waldron shared about the Rams players, not so much the plays, that remain on the defense from a year ago.
Wilson engaged in a modest bit of candor this week when he explained what Waldron offered.
“Having Shane around is great because you really get to know their players,” he said. “We have played them so much over the years. But he has a great understanding of who they are, and the kind of players they are; their strengths and weaknesses, if any. They have a lot of great players on that side of the ball.
“In a short week, you have enough time to focus on what you are trying to install. We have a great understanding of what they are trying to do defensively. It will be a great challenge, in a good way.”
Once Waldron finished demurring about his old team, he allowed as to how he recognized on film from this season’s four games much of what he learned scheming against the group in Rams practices.
“I’ve seen a lot of similarities, a lot of carry-over,” he said. “Similarities doesn’t mean easy, because they do a great job of blurring the defense and disguising a lot of looks.
“They like to work their games (line stunts) and create havoc up front. Just understanding what they’re doing. Knowing what we can expect, having a plan, and being ready to counter them.”
Knowing and doing are, of course, two different things.
The Rams still have DT Aaron Donald, who seems to have been in the league — and Wilson’s head — since The Big Bang, which may have been named after him. The Seahawks have gone into every Rams game with a plan to counter Donald. Nearly every time, it has failed. He even sat out the second half of the playoff game with an injury, and Wilson still played as if chased by his ghost.
Wilson said nothing this week to inspire more intense haunting from Donald.
“Aaron Donald is arguably the best I’ve ever played against, in terms of all of the things that he can do,” he said. “He’s a three-technique that can get to the quarterback. You don’t see that very often. He’s a guy that causes havoc in the run and pass game. You can measure someone’s greatness by their consistency throughout their career. His consistency has been remarkable. At such a high level, you can’t argue that he’s probably the best I’ve played.
“He’s definitely one of those guys I’ll tell my kids about when I’m old and in a rocking chair.”
Donald already has provided Wilson the rocking part — in 15 games including the playoff game, Donald has sacked Wilson 15 times and hit him 40 times.
It likely will be up to Waldron to scheme Wilson out of harm’s way. Now that the Seahawks have a divisional road win with some sustained drives, Waldron suggested this week his changes are taking hold.
“As the season goes on, our players get more and more comfortable each week,” he said. “Whether it’s (opponent) injuries, or whether it’s different schemes that we’re going against, different guys might be more viable options, or might present different ways that they can help us on offense.”
October seems early to be all in. It’s not.