The Seahawks play the Chargers in San Diego on Saturday, so to give you a quick preview of some things to watch, I talked to one of my favorite fellow SB Nation writers, Kyle Posey (@The_KP_Show) of Bolts from the Blue. Here's what Kyle had to say.
My questions in bold, his replies follow.
1. Which Chargers offensive player are you most excited to watch, and why?
Posey: Think it's D.J. Fluker. Interested to see how he's coming along with playing a new position (Fluker switched from right tackle to right guard). Specifically, when the Chargers spread it out and he faces one of the better pass rushers in the league when it comes to using their hands in Michael Bennett. Fluker will have his hands full, but I'm excited for the matchup.
2. Which Chargers defensive player are you most excited to watch, and why?
Posey: Tough question because I love the way Jason Verrett plays at cornerback, and Jahleel Addae at safety seems to get better with every rep. But I'll go rookie with 5th round pick OLB Kyle Emanuel.
Baemanuel has been one of the most productive defenders early on here when it comes to beating his man. He would've had three tackles for loss last week but just couldn't finish the play. Love the energy he brings and like the fact that he just does his job.
3. What are the two biggest questions for the Chargers heading into this game?
Posey: I'll give one on both sides of the ball. Defensively, the team is still inconsistent at stopping the run up the middle. Whether it's the interior defensive linemen getting blown off the ball, or the linebackers not aggressively filling, both never seem to be on the same page. Same goes for the pass rush, while there has been plenty of pressure created from the edge, not much to speak of up the middle.
Offensively we've only seen Philip Rivers for one drive. So it's hard to be too critical. I guess I would say the lack of explosive plays. With running back Melvin Gordon ready to roll, hopefully he can add an element that has been lacking. There hasn't been really any chunk plays and against a defense like Seattle you can't consistently expect to march down the field methodically.
4. What is the general fan expectation and outlook for the Chargers this year? Can they win the AFC West? Is the defense good enough, and is Phil Rivers still a top-tier QB?
Posey: I think fans are expecting anywhere between 8-11 wins. The AFC West isn't completely out of the question, the Chargers just don't have much margin for error if they want to be the division champs. I'm not sure how improved the defense is just yet. It's all about sacks and turnovers and that's just something that they haven't been able to do much of the past few years. They were 27th in adjusted sack rate last year. That has to get better this year.
The reason that I can't go below 8 wins, and why the division and 11 wins are in sight, is because of Rivers. He's awesome, man. So, so good. No question in my mind that he's a top tier QB. Now that he has five competent offensive linemen, I can't wait until the articles you see this year about how he's "back." He makes plays in the pocket with guys around him that a lot of good QBs can't make.
(DK Note: Seahawks fans know this -- just look at some of the absurd throws Rivers made for touchdowns last year when San Diego beat Seattle).
5. What are the main differences between this year's team and last year's squad? Big additions and subtractions?
Posey: The offensive line. First it was addition by subtraction with Chad Rinehart not coming back, then they completely overhauled the guys up front. King Dunlap remains at LT, but the team signed Orlando Franklin, have Chris Watt healthy, Fluker at guard, and Joe Barksdale, who Seahawks fans should be familiar with, at right tackle. For the first time in what feels like a decade, the team has five capable offensive linemen and don't have to hide anyone or send extra help to. Hopefully this leads to more explosive plays, sustained drives, and points in general.
On defense it's really about health. Can Melvin Ingram and Jerry Attaochu stay healthy on the outside? Can Jason Verrett hold up for a whole season? The team signed Patrick Robinson as their nickel corner, but if the other three players can't stay healthy, then it will be another long season for the defense.