The Seahawks are something between what we saw in their sloppy loss to New Orleans in Week 3 and their fairly easy win against the developing Cardinals at Arizona on Sunday.
One game made them look worse than they are and the other made them look better.
We know they are somewhere in the NFC’s upper tier — with New Orleans, Dallas, L.A., San Francisco and Green Bay. Exactly where they rank should become clear Thursday when they host the Rams (3-1) in the first NFC West battle royale in what appears to be a three-way round robin with the 49ers (3-0).
In between the New Orleans fiasco and the L.A. grudge match, the Hawks (3-1) were lucky to get a game against a struggling team like Arizona (0-3-1) — just to give some of their guys a confidence builder. The players who took most advantage were embattled Chris Carson and new pass rushers Jadeveon Clowney and Ziggy Ansah.
Carson, who lost three fumbles in the first three games, played with incredible focus and confidence and put together easily his best game of the season. He held onto the ball, got the easy yards the line set up and the hard yards he created himself, and he went over 100 for the first time in 2019.
“He ran really tough all day long, didn’t change his style at all,” Pete Carroll said. “If anything, he ran as hard as he’s run all year. Just fired up for him because we need Chris running like that.”
The offense was determined to start fast and came out like it, throwing passes on seven of 10 plays on the first drive, which ended in a field goal after a couple of misses to D.K. Metcalf.
“It felt like we were rock-solid throughout the game,” said Russell Wilson, who completed 22 of 28 passes for 240 yards and a touchdown. “To be honest, we could have been better. There were some things we felt like we left out there.”
That’s true. Wilson and Metcalf were not in sync; Metcalf caught just one of four passes. The Hawks did almost nothing in the second half, punting three times before scoring on their final possession. And they were just 2 of 8 on third downs until that final touchdown drive, when they converted twice.
The lack of touchdowns in this game aside, Wilson is off to the best four-game start of his career: highest pass percentage (72.9), most yards (1,142), tied for most TD passes (eight), fewest interceptions (none), highest yards per attempt (8.6).
The defense is still a work in progress, so it was good for it to face a rookie quarterback (although, as Carroll said, Kyler Murray is going to be a “pain” in future games).
Clowney started it with an early interception for a touchdown (his first pick-six in the NFL), and Ansah put the punctuation mark on it with a sack to end the game. But both were very active in between those big plays; Clowney opened up plays for other guys, and Ansah had five tackles, one for loss, and two QB hits.
Carroll called Ansah and Clowney “so young in their football for this particular season. Everything’s kind of a first-time experience for this year.” That jibes with Cliff Avril’s estimation that it will take around six games for them to find their stride.
The Seahawks, who had tallied one sack in the past two games, got four at Arizona — including one by Rasheem Green and two by Mychal Kendricks.
Green is off to a nice start this season. He had a sack and forced fumble in the opener, a couple of tackles in each of the next two games, and the sack, a tackle for loss and a QB hit at Arizona.
Green, a third-round pick in 2018, told King-5 TV the game is indeed slowing down for him: “I feel like I’m doing a good job on the small things like my keys, hand placement and just knowing where the play is going. I’m doing a better job of film study this year.”
Clowney said the line is still figuring out how to play together. Remember, only a couple of these guys — Quinton Jefferson and Branden Jackson — have played more than one season (plus these four games) with Seattle.
“We’re still getting a feel for each other and playing off each other,” Clowney told Q13, adding they are compensating for lack of cohesiveness by “coming with energy and effort.”
Bobby Wagner thinks the whole defense is coming along: “We’re getting really, really close to putting together a complete game.”
They will need it Thursday against the Rams — a game they obviously are already stoked for (even if everyone agrees Thursday NFL games are a dumb idea). Their collective eyes were glued to the end of the Bucs’ 55-40 upset of the Rams, the locker room reportedly erupting when Ndamukong Suh returned a fumble for the clinching touchdown.
The Rams had not looked like world beaters in their 3-0 start, and they basically gave Tampa Bay the win the way Seattle gave New Orleans the win last week — with turnovers and other mistakes. But the Rams, who won two shootouts against Seattle last season on the way to the Super Bowl, are still the team to beat in the NFC West.
The Seahawks didn’t prove anything by beating Arizona, but they can by knocking off the Rams on Thursday.