In a lot of ways, the Seahawks’ opener was everything we thought it would be: on-the-job training for young defenders, a de facto preseason game for Earl Thomas, a stress test for the offensive line, a big game for Michael Dickson — and a close loss.
Among all of the negatives in the 27-24 loss in Denver — 329 yards and three TDs by Case Keenum, Shaquem Griffin and Tre Flowers over their heads in their NFL debuts, Von Miller tallying three sacks and two forced fumbles — the biggest was the disappointing play of Russell Wilson in a scheme that looked like it had not changed a bit.
Wilson, now in his seventh season, looked like a rookie throughout much of this game as he dropped to 1-4 in road season openers. He knew he was going against the NFL’s top pass rusher in Miller, and yet he continually held the ball for too long. He said he was responsible for three of Denver’s six sacks, but it was more than three — and he caused his offense trouble in other ways.
Against a good pass-rushing defense, it is incumbent on the quarterback to get the ball out quickly — whether it’s hitting short passes or just throwing it away. But Wilson, as he often tends to do, held the ball in hopes of finding something he liked. And it led to big losses as he ran backward and ruined drives.
Wilson said it was encouraging that the Hawks scored 24 points “when we weren’t at our best.” But two of the touchdowns came off short field (15 and 41 yards) after interceptions by Thomas and Bradley McDougald. Wilson led just two long scoring drives — and one of them ended in a field goal after he and Brandon Marshall both made big mistakes in the red zone (Wilson failing to see a wide-open Marshall and then Marshall pushing off before catching a TD pass that did not count thanks to his penalty).
Let’s not put this all on Wilson, though. Brian Schottenheimer did very little to help the QB. Few rollouts and bootlegs or misdirection plays. The only good thing on offense was Will Dissly, who came out of nowhere to lead the team with 105 yards and a TD on three catches.
Chris Carson averaged 7.3 yards per carry (and hurdled a guy), but his 44-yard gain on a screen was called back for holding and he also let Miller steal the ball from him. Carson got just seven carries in a close game and the Hawks ran just 14 times; first-rounder Rashaad Penny had a forgettable debut with just eight yards on seven totes. Probably not what Pete Carroll had in mind when he said he wanted to focus on the running game again.
Schottenheimer’s offense looked a lot like Darrell Bevell’s, including the horrible screen game (both running backs and receivers). And all of his touted coaching up of Wilson did nothing to change some of the QB’s bad habits (holding the ball, running backward).
It was only the first game, though, and we expect Wilson and Schottenheimer to be much better in Week 2 and beyond.
Doug Baldwin could miss 2-6 weeks if his sprained MCL is more than very mild. He was to have an MRI on Monday to determine the severity. Tyler Lockett hobbled through such an injury in 2016, but it’s hard to see Baldwin playing with two bum knees.
Thomas said he returned to the team so he wouldn’t forfeit his $500,000 weekly salary. He said he would like to stay in Seattle if the Hawks want him (i.e., if they want to pay him).
Michael Dickson did everything he could to help the defense, averaging 59 yards (a whopping 57.5 net) and landing four of his six punts inside the 20. Too bad the Hawks couldn’t take advantage.
Sebastian Janikowski got off to a bad start. He missed 2 of 3 kicks, although only one of the misses counted; after he was wide left on a 51-yarder, a penalty gave him a shot from 46, which he also sliced left. Those were a big three points, obviously. The Seahawks wanted a veteran kicker; but, if he can’t hit from over 45 yards in the thin air of Mile High, what good is he?
Many lamented the lack of pressure from the pass rush. While Denver notched six sacks and 11 hits, Seattle recorded 1/5. The team deactivated Nazair Jones, who is probably a better all-around tackle than Shamar Stephen. And Dion Jordan should offer more as he gets into game shape — assuming he stays healthy. Barky Mingo and Jacob Martin didn’t seem to be involved much, either. We’ll reserve judgment on the pass rush until after a couple more games.
McDougald picked off two passes and was one of the very few bright spots in the game — alongside Thomas, Dissly and Dickson. McDougald apparently was hobbled by tendinitis in his patellar tendon.