Kam Chancellor will miss this Sunday's game in Green Bay as he continues his holdout, reports both Ian Rapoport and Bob Condotta.
"A source has confirmed other reports that there is no change in the stalemate between the Seahawks and Chancellor and that he will not be at practice Wednesday, which means he won't play against the Packers in Green Bay Sunday night."
With Chancellor holding firm to his stance, another $267,000 and change will go up in smoke, putting his fines and lost wages in excess of $2 million. The last reports we've seen had the Seahawks and Chancellor about $900,000 apart, with the important stipulation that the Seahawks waive the fines incurred from missing training camp. Seattle is unwilling to do this for Chancellor.
What does this mean for the Seahawks? Well, it means they'll head to Green Bay to face off against the best quarterback in the world, missing a key piece of their defense. It's obviously disconcerting to everyone involved considering the Seahawks gave up 297 yards passing to Nick Foles and the Rams in Week 1 without Chancellor, including eight passes of over 20 yards.
"I think that was one of the differences in the game that was significant...," said Pete Carroll after the game. "That's out of the norm for us. They did a nice job of getting the ball in behind us, did well on some screens and some one-on-one situations, and they picked us and made some extra yards. They did a good job with it, and when you allow that, that's the field position changes that changes the productive of the time of possession. They didn't need the ball as much because they covered more ground with their plays."
Carroll didn't say it, but it's clear that the Seahawks were missing their All Pro safety. Chancellor is very good at breaking up screen plays and is a strong presence in zone schemes that the Seahawks play.
As ESPN's Matt Bowen (a former NFL safety) wrote this week, "Scheme recognition against the run is vital to Seattle when the strong safety drops into the box. Instead of reading his keys and attacking, Bailey would hesitate, take a false step or round his angle to the ball. He often got stuck with his eyes in the backfield and lacked awareness in underneath zones. Instead of dropping to the "curl" or "hook" in Seattle's core Cover 3 and getting his feet set, Bailey would drift or have his eyes in the wrong spot. He doesn't have the feel that we see with Kam to get depth (with speed), read the QB and go."
Of course, the miscues weren't just on Kam's replacement in Dion Bailey -- Seattle's linebackers struggled in their zone drops as well.
"Reading the action of the pass and dropping and getting in our areas," was an issue, said Carroll. "Stuff kind of snuck in on us that usually doesn't happen, and we played some of those plays in the game fine, and some of them got away. So when I talk about this, in this game there were just more plays that got away from us than normal, for various reasons. There's no one thing, it's not that easy ever."
Whatever the issue was -- Seattle's defense didn't look normal, and there are things they'll have to clean up going forward without Kam -- execution- and scheme-wise.
"It was a little bit of everything," said Carroll, when asked what the Rams did to beat Seattle through the air. "They didn't get after us outside and deep on deep balls. They didn't get behind Earl [Thomas]. They kind of just got in between us and around us, and they did a nice job of it. That's just how it happens."
It's always a little difficult to evaluate deep safety play -- particularly with Earl Thomas -- because one of his main responsibilities is to make sure opposing teams don't throw it over the top deep. Thomas has been one of the best -- no, the best -- at this in the NFL over the past three years, and he continued to excel in that role. The Rams dropped stuff in over the heads of linebackers but didn't get anything over Thomas in the deep middle. Overall, said Carroll, Thomas played well.
"He played very well. Earl was all over the place, did a nice job on all the stuff they tried to get up top," he said. "They had a number of big shots they looked to take and he was there for them, and I thought that that could happen in this game, they'd just check him out, which they should and they did, and he did a very nice job. He tackled pretty well, and I think he found his confidence as he went through the game. He needed to play and get going, he felt enthused by ‘I'm back, I'm ready' and all that after the game."
"In my mind, it made me a little bit sharper," said Earl, referring to preparing to play without Chancellor. "I depended on Kam to say, 'You need to get on this side or that side.' It put me in my playbook a little bit more. I rely on instinct, and Kam was more the mental guy."
Seahawks defensive coordinator Kris Richard echoed this, saying, "That's been the biggest part of Earl's development over his years, the development of his mental game. The time that he's had away early in camp, during the preseason games, him just standing and watching from afar has really helped develop the mental side of his game. He saw the game from a different angle, and he's been out there in the fire, so the opportunity for him to sit on the sideline, take a look, take a step back, take a deep breath and see how everything developed, I think it helped him a lot."
That said, it's clear that Kam's ability to communicate was missed. Said Bowen in that great ESPN column:
"A scout I spoke with made a great point on this one. Kam's voice is missing. Communication in the secondary is crucial to production as a unit. Go to Nick Foles' 1-yard touchdown run. Bailey looked confused, chased the corner route (which turned into a double team with linebacker) and had his back to the ball as Foles strolled in for an easy score. Yikes. This stuff takes time to develop."
As Kam's holdout continues, it will be interesting to see how Earl plays this week, and if he can start to pick up some of the slack created by Chancellor's lack of presence. Earl may be a fiery emotional leader of the defense, but he may now have to become the technical, "get everyone in place" type of leader as well. That's a big part of what Chancellor brings.
I expected that it might take Thomas a week or three to re-adjust to game-speed after missing all of training camp and preseason rehabbing his shoulder, but he didn't appear tentative to my eye, and he even caused a fumble, which was recovered by Bruce Irvin. Seattle will need a great game from their secondary this week, so it all starts with Earl.
The best news coming out of Week 1 was that his shoulder felt fine. Another week preparing with Dion Bailey should help things in the Seattle secondary, and should only help tighten up communication between the two. We shall see.