postseason. He wa

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postseason. He wa

Messagepar elaine95 » 17 Sep 2018, 05:24

The biggest concern about the Seattle Seahawks' overhauled defense entering the season was probably the pass rush.

The worries proved to be true in the season opener when the Seahawks generated just one sack and very little pressure against a quarterback that mostly sat in the pocket.

The challenge in Week 2 will be different with the Seahawks facing the mobility of second-year Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky Joe Flacco Jersey , but the need to wreak at least some havoc in the backfield remains the same.

"Anytime you play you want to get the quarterback off the spot. Anytime you end up with one sack, everyone would like to have three or four," Seattle defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. said. "It's something certainly we want to get better at. ... No question you want more pressure."

Seattle's pass rush was perhaps a bigger worry going into the season than any of the changes that took place in its secondary. The Seahawks played most of last season without Cliff Avril due to a neck injury but still had Michael Bennett teaming with Frank Clark and finding success. Seattle finished last season 13th in the league with 39 sacks and was in the middle of the pack in the league rankings on the percentage of dropbacks that resulted in a sack. They were decent numbers considering the changes Seattle went through midseason with the loss of one of their top pass rushers.

The overhaul in the offseason left most of the burden on Clark as really the only proven pass rusher on the roster. Avril hasn't completely shut the door on playing again, but it seems unlikely. Bennett was traded to Philadelphia as part of Seattle's changes.

The opener against Denver showed there is still plenty to figure out.

Clark had Seattle's lone sack, but just one of the five quarterback hits on Case Keenum. Seattle rarely brought pressure and the front four was unable to generate enough heat to make Keenum uncomfortable.

"We got stuck on the line of scrimmage on play passes and was really the part that was really disappointing that we didn't respond better to get into our pass-rush mode," Seattle coach Pete Carroll said. "It just happened. That's one phase of it and we would have liked to have got off on the edge a little better than we did. It's just stuff we've got to keep working on."

Getting Dion Jordan on the field more would be a big boost for Seattle. Jordan was limited to just 15 plays in the opener after missing all of training camp with a lower leg injury. Jordan was only activated to from the physically unable to perform list when Seattle made its final cuts, and his inclusion in Week 1 was a bit of a surprise considering the time he missed.

"Not having those reps for a while I was definitely a little rusty but other than that I physically felt really good," Jordan said.

Jordan flashed late last season when he finally was healthy enough to get back on the field. He had four sacks in five games last season and was seen as a major piece of the pass rush moving forward. Jordan said he should be on the field more considering the way he felt coming out of the opener.

"We've got to do a better job this week of sticking to our rush plan, sticking to it, and executing," Jordan said. "Understanding that certain quarterbacks and (offensive coordinators) Jerry Rice Jersey , they're going to try and get the ball out quick and block them up with eight guys in there so we can't get to them. We have to understand that and find a way around it."

NOTES: Carroll didn't have updates on the timelines for three injured players: WR Doug Baldwin (knee), LB K.J. Wright (knee surgery) and G D.J. Fluker (hamstring). None of the three participated in practice Thursday. ... LB Bobby Wagner (groin) and rookie CB Tre Flowers (hamstring) also sat out practice.

Alex Ovechkin finally got to hoist the Stanley Cup. And then he raised the Conn Smythe Trophy as the MVP of the Stanley Cup Final.

Fellow Russian linemate Evgeny Kuznetsov and goaltender Braden Holtby certainly did some heavy lifting of their own.

In helping deliver a championship Washington had wanted for more than 40 years, Kuznetsov was arguably the Capitals‘ most instrumental player. The 26-year-old, fifth-year pro finished with a playoff-leading 32 points, including his 20th assist in Thursday night’s series-clinching 4-3 win over the Vegas Golden Knights in Game 5.

”He was unbelievable,” Ovechkin said of Kuznetsov. ”He makes the magic over there.”

Holtby, overshadowed coming into the Final, bested three-time Stanley Cup champion goalie Marc-Andre Fleury. He not only allowed the Golden Knights just eight goals over the last four games, but won in Vegas twice.

Holtby is now 45-37 in 82 career playoff appearances – all with the Capitals – while compiling a 2.04 goals-against average, .929 save percentage and six shutouts. That is the second-highest save percentage and fifth-best GAA in NHL postseason history among goaltenders with at least 50 outings.

Washington coach Barry Trotz said it took losing the No. 1 role to Philipp Grubauer late in the regular season and the start of the postseason for Holtby to rediscover the foundation of his game he developed in Saskatchewan.

”Just like all great goaltenders, you go through some dry spells in your game where you lose your way a little bit and your foundation Davante Adams Jersey ,” Trotz said. ”We had a conversation and he was very respectful. He understood that he wasn’t going to start in the playoffs. And he said, `If I get a chance to go back in, I’m gonna be really good for you.’ And he was.”

His unbelievable stick save on Alex Tuch to lock up a win in Game 2 will ring forever in Caps history.

”I think any big play is going to be a turning point,” Holtby said humbly. ”It was a big play in the game, but the credit really goes to our guys because we didn’t get complacent. We knew we could do something special and we did.”

With Ovechkin, Kuznetsov and Holtby leading the charge, Washington wasn’t about to blow another 3-1 lead, an unwelcome feature of its postseason past. Prior to this season, the Capitals had lost five series when leading 3-1, the most in the NHL.

After losing Game 1, the Capitals won four straight to win the Cup Justin Coleman Jersey , outscoring the Golden Knights 16-8 along the way. For the series, Kuznetsov scored one goal and assisted on seven others, including Jakub Vrana’s goal that opened the scoring for the Capitals in Game 5.

”Kuz is a great player, he’s a really, really talented player,” Vrana said. ”He can be the difference every game. He’s just unbelievable.”

While Trotz acknowledged Ovechkin’s play and how much he’s meant to the franchise, he said Kuznetsov single-handedly took over games for the Capitals and proved to be just as valuable during their championship run.

So much so, he wasn’t sure who was going to be named MVP of the Final.

”That was a toss-up for me, I thought they were neck and neck if you ask me who gets the Conn Smythe, I thought that’s gonna be a tough choice,” Trotz said. ”You probably have to split that in half for me.”

Trotz said Kuznetsov is just scratching the surface Lorenzo Carter Jersey , and the rest of the league is starting to find just how good he is.

Kuznetsov, who finished the regular season with 27 goals and 56 assists, scored 12 goals and had 20 assists in the postseason. He was instrumental in Washington’s 6-2 demolition of the Golden Knights in Game 4, when he registered four assists to tie a single-game Stanley Cup Final record.

”Since Day 1 of training camp, we really play for each other, we work for each other and we really try to help the young guys, older guys – it doesn’t matter,” Kuznetsov said. ”We just play for your partner and we compete every day.”



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