BY Art Thiel 06:53PM 09/25/2020

Thiel: Brooks, Robinson filling Seahawks’ holes

Injuries abound in the NFL, including among Seahawks and Cowboys, meeting Sunday at the Clink. Two draftees, Jordyn Brooks and Alton Robinson, get their shots.

Rookie DE Alton Robinson will see his first game action. / Rod Mar, Seattle Seahawks

It’s a time of unrelenting uncertainty. Why should the NFL be different? Yes, it has a chance to pull off a whole sports season in one piece. But rarely has a season started with so many broken pieces.

The amount and prominence of the Week 2 injuries was the talk of the league. The national media barely noticed that the Seahawks, too, are out two starters for the season — DE/LB Bruce Irvin and nickel CB Marquise Blair, both to ACLs torn Sunday in the win over New England.

And the Seahawks are better off than Dallas Cowboys (1-1), who come to the empty Clink Sunday (1:25 p.m, FOX). They are missing their two starting offensive tackles (La’el Collins and likely Tyron Smith) and two starting cornerbacks (Chidobe Awuzie and Anthony Brown), among others.

Such early attrition seems rare, and easily attributed to the lack of conditioning and practice time from the restrictions due to the coronavirus. Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said Monday he asked team researchers to look into whether the rate is up year over past years.

“There’s not real solid answer yet,” he said, “but for sure, the numbers are up. What we’re really curious about is what happens this week — does it continue or was (Week 2) kind of a fluke.”

If the disturbance persists, a lot of youngsters are going to grow up quickly.

That starts Sunday for two 2020 Seattle draftees, first-rounder LB Jordyn Brooks and fifth-rounder DE Alton Robinson.

Brooks played 15 snaps total in the first two games, and will replace Irvin, at 32 a senior eminence. Robinson was on the inactive list for both games, and will fill in behind DE L.J. Collier for Rasheem Green, who was put on the injured reserve list Friday with a neck stinger, meaning he’ll miss at least three games. Another young guy, 2019 fourth-rounder Ugo Amadi, will step in at slot corner. The starts for Brooks and Amadi are career firsts, and Collier is in his third start.

Two more veteran starters, DE Benson Mayowa (groin) and CB Quinton Dunbar (knee). were listed as questionable on Friday’s injury report, as well as special teams ace CB Neiko Thorpe (hip).

That’s a lot of damaged personnel for a defense that in the first two games has given up nearly as much land as did the Russians in 1867 when they sold Alaska to the U.S.

Nearly as vulnerable is the Cowboys defense, which has been burdened by the installation of a more complex scheme under new coach Mike McCarthy, late of Green Bay. In splitting two games, the Cowboys have given up 59 points and 802 yards.

McCarthy told reporters in Dallas Thursday that his defense made “way too many” mental errors in the harrowing 40-39 triumph over Atlanta Sunday that the Falcons basically gave away.

He plans to simplify the defense against Seattle and its radiator-hot quarterback, Russell Wilson.

“I think that’s Page 32 of the Head Coach 101 manual,” McCarthy said. “When your team has too many mental errors, you cut the volume back. It’s definitely part of the conversations you have as a staff.”

Carroll just has to throw his kids in the deep end.

“We’re really excited for Jordan to get more playing time, for all of the right reasons,” Carroll said. “He’s ready to go. He won’t be perfect, but he’ll be at it. He’s a bright football player. Hopefully we can position him at some good spots to do some good things for him.”

Of Robinson, Carroll said, “He’s real strong with a natural kind of package of moves. We’re not hesitant to play him in any situation. He has the understanding of the playbook, so we’re going in with confidence he’ll do a good job.”

As the top pick, Brooks is under some pressure to justify the choice that numerous draft experts said was an over-reach by Seattle at No. 27. He was ready to do so at the opener in Atlanta, but the Seahawks held him to a meager 15 snaps combined in the first two games.

“Fifteen snaps wasn’t what I wanted, but it was enough to get my feet wet a little bit,” he said Friday. “It’s definitely exciting moment for me. This is the goal coming in.”

As a kid born in Dallas who starred at Texas Tech, to start against the Cowboys is   a splendid deal.

“That was always my team growing up,” he said. “This would be a great week for me to get my first start. I can’t wait.”

Learning curves Sunday will be prominent for both teams, at least on defense. The offenses know what they are doing. No reason to think either quarterback will do anything but feast. Seahawks 41, Cowboys 34.


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YourThoughts

  • Alan Harrison

    I can’t be the only person who read your headline and wondered how a Hall of Fame 3rd baseman was going to help the Seahawks somehow, but, you know, it’s been a weird effing year.

    • wabubba67

      Commas are important.

      • woofer

        The pandemic has put us all into a comma.

        • Husky73

          Well done.

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        • art thiel

          +1

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      • art thiel

        A panda eats shoots and leaves.

        A panda eats, shoots and leaves.

        • Husky73

          “Down dooby doo, down down, comma comma…” (Neil Sedaka)

    • art thiel

      Glad you noticed. He played great D.

  • Husky73

    Brooks Robinson?….he’s so versatile.

  • jafabian

    The Hawks have more depth this season than they’ve had the past three seasons. Hopefully they can stay healthy the rest of the way. The Niners have been hit hard with injuries so the NFC title is up for grabs. IMO it’s between them and Arizona.

    • Topcatone

      Lots of young people, but next few years Hawks will be a very strong team again.

      • jafabian

        No reason that time can’t be today. But their success will depend on their health and matchups.

    • art thiel

      Rams are better than advertised.

      • Husky73

        So are the Bills.

  • Topcatone

    Key to Cowboys is “two starting cornerbacks (Chidobe Awuzie and Anthony Brown)”. Wilson will eat up the Cowboy’s secondary. But of course, Hawk’s secondary is vulnerable as well (talent, but not much time together yet), mainly since we have no pass rush whatsoever now. Going to have to blitz more and hope secondary can cover for a short period of time. We HAVE to trade for a pass rusher.

    • art thiel

      Cowboys D is vulnerable. Best CB is a rookie.

  • Stephen Pitell

    I wish we could have given Robinson some looks before this, and I hate that only injuries have given him this opportunity. It is a way more valuable use of rookies if you discover they are solid in their first year in the league rather than the 2nd or 3rd. I am hoping Robinson (after some seasoning) will become a better player than Mayowa or Green.

    • art thiel

      They wanted the vets’ experience above all else. This is a go-for-it year.

  • 1coolguy

    It is SO bogus there are no fans allowed. I have gone grocery shopping (been to a Home Depot, Costco or Safeway lately?), restaurants that allow customers, etc and everyone is wearing masks and when in line or eating, are maintaining distancing.
    The NFL can make every third seat open, and put the “stand here” stickers at the concessions and bathrooms, etc. This seasons’ seats would be sold online only, with season ticket holders given priority.
    So, what’s the big deal?
    If the Huskies open for fans (which they won’t because it’s not PC), I’ll buy a ticket ASAP.

    • jafabian

      Grocery stores and retail typically have anywhere from 50-200 people in their space at any given moment. A small crowd at CenturyLink would be 15,000. Big difference.

      • art thiel

        If county infection rates continue going down, there’s a way to spread out 15,000 in a 70,000 seat stadium.

    • art thiel

      Seahawks have agreed with King County to hold off for the first three home games to abide by Phase 2 rules until infection rates fall, which they are doing. If the county goes to Phase 3, some fans will be admitted.