After posting a 7-9 record last season the Jets will have seven games against 2019 playoff teams and the 2020 schedule strength is .533. With training camp on the horizon and September not too far off in the distance, NewYorkJets.com is examining each of the Green & White's matchups. We continue our series with Seahawks Insider for NBC Sports Northwest Joe Fann as the Jets will travel to Seattle in Week 14.
The Seahawks were inches away from clinching both the NFC West and the No. 1 seed in the NFC last season as TE Jacob Hollister was stopped one yard short of the goal line on fourth-and-goal. The 49ers escaped Seattle with a 26-21 victory in Week 17 and the 11-5 Seahawks entered postseason play as the No. 5 seed. The engine of the Seahawks car is QB Russell Wilson, who completed 66% of his passes and threw for 4,110 yards, 31 touchdowns and 5 interceptions last season en route to his seventh Pro Bowl.
"When you have a franchise quarterback and one like Russell Wilson, who, in my opinion, is a top-three quarterback in this league, your floor is higher than most other teams right off the bat," Fann said. "You kind of start at 8-8 because he's able to win you so many games on his own and you saw that last year with how many one-score games they played where it's just Russell Wilson magic in the fourth quarter. He almost did it in Week 17 to win the division against the Niners and again in the second half of the divisional round against the Packers. This guy is a special talent."
Seattle hasn't had a lot of departures, but it seems likely free agent edge rusher Jadeveon Clowney will not return after one year with the Hawks. The Seahawks have addressed the position both in free agency and the draft as they finished with 28 sacks last season, which tied for second fewest in the NFL.
"They signed Bruce Irvin, they signed Benson Mayowa who had a combined 15.5 sacks last year, which sounds really good on paper, but can they replace Clowney?" Fann said. "They used a second-round pick on Darrell Taylor out of Tennessee. What's he going to look like as a rookie coming out of the gate? They have names that are intriguing as part of a rotation, but I think by and large, when you look at the pass rush, you look for that one guy who can go get you 8-10 sacks."
Matchups to Watch
Like any game against Seattle, the most important matchup is the defense against Wilson. Fann has questions regarding the Seahawks offensive line, but even if defenses get to Wilson, he's arguably at his best when plays break down. Fann said defenses have yet to figure out a way to stop the ninth-year veteran, who's thrown for a career 29,743 yards, 227 touchdowns and 68 interceptions.
To have a chance at CenturyLink Field, the Jets need to exploit the Seahawks defense that finished 26th in the NFL last season. It's a much different unit than the Legion of Boom days except ILB Bobby Wagner is still there, but he took on more of a coverage role in 2019.
"When you look at the tape last year, you just don't see the aggressiveness, you don't see the speed, the ability to get to the football, close and make plays to the degree you saw the year before to where it was a bend-but-don't-break defense," Fann said. "Pete Carroll called it numerous times a 'rope-a-dope-type defense' where you make just enough plays to squeak out and that's what they did last year."
Why It's Important
This game is the first of back-to-back West Coast trips and is the beginning of a three-of-four slate on the road in the final quarter of the season. When these teams square off, the Jets could be in the hunt for a playoff berth and Seattle is a difficult place to play.