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Know Your Enemy: 5 questions with Revenge of the Birds

Jeff Gross

The Seahawks play again on Thursday. The short week is weird. Both teams have some injury issues to worry about, but both teams know their opponents well. To preview tomorrow's matchup between the Seahawks and Cardinals, I swapped some scouting reports with Revenge of the Birds' Jess Root. Here's what he had to say about Arizona, and big thanks to Jess for taking the time to provide the scouting report!

My questions in bold, his replies follow.

1. How has Carson Palmer looked this season? What are some of his strengths and what have been some of the things he hasn't done well?

Well, the best word would be inconsistent. As evidenced by the 11 interceptions on the season, clearly he has been bad. He also has been very good at times. The way his season has gone, he is bad for a quarter or a half and then quite good. Part of it is the offensive line, part is having receivers not in the right spot and part is his not knowing where the receiver should be. The transition under Bruce Arians and his complex offense has been tough. He has not been effective down the field at all yet.

However, he has the perfect demeanor. He will get to a point in a game and then everything clicks. Then he plays great. He doesn't get frustrated. He just keeps plugging away.

2. What is the story with the Cardinals' run game? I haven't heard a ton about Rashad Mendenhall, but Andre Ellington has been making some noise. Is Arizona having success running the ball?

Mendy has been unremarkable, but is not playing badly. Ellington, though, has become the talk of the town. He is averaging seven yards per carry and 10 yards a catch. He just makes big plays every game. He lines out wide and in the backfield. Bruce Arians compares him to Darren Sproles.

Fans want him to be the main guy, but Arians feels he is good for about 30-35 plays a game.

Mendenhall is the workhorse in the running game. He gets most of the touches. He is averaging a paltry 3.3 YPC, but he has been a little banged up. What he has been good at is avoiding negative yards. He will manage to get two yards even on his worst carry.

Overall, at 3.8 YPC as a team, it is not great. However, when they commit to running the ball, they do it well and score points. They just don't do it enough.

3. What have been some of the differences on the defensive side of the ball now that Ray Horton is gone? What is Todd Bowles' style?

They look similar. They run a base 3-4 and love to blitz. Heading into the game vs San Fran, they had blitzed on roughly 48 percent of all opponent drop-backs. They mix in a few four-man lines and they are showing less nickel on passing downs, going with six defensive backs.

Bowles is aggressive. He puts his players in good positions to make plays. They have been very good against the run, which is something new. Opponents have had more success in the air, but mostly shorter gains. The one bugaboo has been big plays from opposing tight ends. They kill us -- Jared Cook, Jimmy Graham, Vernon Davis. They had HUGE games against Arizona. Patrick Peterson has been able to mostly eliminate one receiver a game. It is a good defense.

4. What is the likely status of Larry Fitzgerald and Calais Campbell this week? I know both have been limited by injuries.

Fitz has a sore hammy, but I think it would be shocking if he didn't play. Campbell is unknown, but he has been participating in practice. As long as he still isn't suffering numbness, I would bet he will be in the lineup as well. Fitz all but said on Tuesday that he will play. He said that a Thursday night game against a division team means "no excuses."

5. Who are a few unheralded guys on offense and defense that Seattle fans should be looking for?

You already mentioned Ellington, who has been probably the team's best offensive player. Outside of Ellington, most of the other guys have some name recognition, but have been unspectacular. Tight end Jim Dray has been a quiet contributor.

On defense, they have the name. However, with his age, Karlos Dansby has been all over the field. He and Daryl Washington have been dynamic playmakers together. He will get his hands on balls, make tackles all over the place and get pressure on the quarterback. The other guy who is not so unheralded is Tyrann Mathieu. He makes impactful plays on a weekly basis. On Thursday, he will either start at safety if Rashad Johnson is not ready for a full load again after his severed fingertip, or he will get significant time as the nickel corner.


Again, huge thanks to Jess for taking the time to provide a report on the state of things in the desert. Head over to Revenge of the Birds and follow Jess on Twitter.