Pay Jamal Adams right now, and give Brian Schottenheimer a gold star.
In his first game, Adams showed he was definitely worth the 13th overall pick and Schotty made the “Let Russ Cook” crowd happy by coming out throwing.
Apparently Russell Wilson has finally earned more pull in the organization, because the Hawks took his advice and stunned us all by coming out firing in Atlanta. They ended up scoring more points than in any season opener in Pete Carroll’s 11 seasons.
Our two big complaints on offense have long been the lack of early urgency and not using enough misdirection to help Wilson. But they came out throwing on first downs, even if it was just short passes and screens, and used a lot of movement. The result: They scored touchdowns on their first two drives for the first time in Wilson’s career – and scored a TD on the season’s first drive for the first time.
They struggled for the rest of the half but came alive again in the second half, adding 24 more points for a 38-25 win. For Carroll’s season openers, that topped the 36-16 home blowout of Green Bay in 2014 (the post-Super Bowl win, Percy Harvin Jet Sweep game).
They threw on six of their first eight first downs. The two runs were a 4-yard gain by Carson and a keeper by Wilson that gained 28 yards. Wilson rarely keeps the ball intentionally, but that was a pitch option that he planned to keep the whole way – another sign he wants to be more aggressive early in games.
Wilson was 31 of 35 for 322 yards and four TDs – easily the best opening-day performance in his nine seasons.
The Hawks ran the ball on first down on their next three possessions – and punted every time. They ran it to start the fourth possession, too, and ended up with a fourth down – but they went for it from the 38 and Wilson hit DK Metcalf for a touchdown. More aggressiveness.
Metcalf, who supposedly is ready to break out in Year 2, had an up-and-down opener. All four of Wilson’s incompletions came on targets to Metcalf, who dropped two of them. But Metcalf also made a nice first down and scored that TD. He simply needs to become more consistent.
The “Let Russ Cook” crowd was pleased as punch to see the Hawks wing the ball around. But it wasn’t just the number of throws; it was the way they were mixed and the misdirection that often was used. That is what we always want to see.
Just throwing the ball is not necessarily effective. The Hawks are just 16-18 when Wilson throws it 35 times (2-6 in 2018-19); this was just the fourth time Wilson’s Seahawks had thrown 35-plus times and run 20 or less, and it was the first win in such games.
It’s about dictating tempo early rather than having to rally late. Wilson has been hammering that to Carroll and Schotty, and it appears as though they finally are listening. This bodes well for the playoffs.
On defense, Adams was everywhere, leading the Hawks in tackles and making plays behind the scrimmage line. He showed to be every bit of the All-Pro the Hawks thought they were getting in that July blockbuster with the Jets.
John Schneider might as well pay him that $15 million a year right now, because he is going to be worth it. (Of course, Schneider will not pay him until next offseason, but the point is the GM had better not try to nickel-and-dime the star safety.)
Bobby Wagner played a stellar game, too, but the rest of the defense showed it has a lot of work to do. They gave up 450 passing yards to Matt Ryan and made some dumb mistakes, including one where Shaquill Griffin ran into Adams and left Calvin Ridley open for a touchdown.
Ridley scored twice, and the Falcons had three 100-yard receivers as Ridley, Julio Jones and Russell Gage each caught nine passes. The pass rush was no help. Even in the fourth quarter, with the Hawks up double digits and Atlanta needing to throw, the Hawks could not get pressure on Ryan.
Carroll waved off the big yardage total as a product of a big lead that meant the Falcons were going to throw a lot. Sure, there was some of that, but the corners had a rough day and the pass rush was pretty much what we thought it would be: almost non-existent.
The Seahawks are going to get big plays from their safeties this season, and it started in the first game: In addition to Adams’ all-around play, Marquise Blair forced a fumble on a fake punt that led to a TD and Quandre Diggs picked off a Hail Mary pass in the end zone (he stole it from Adams, who was right there for yet another big play).
The offensive line was OK. Carroll praised Ethan Pocic for his communication, which the coach said is why he won the job over B.J. Finney. Pocic is not a great anchor though, and the Hawks had trouble with some of Atlanta’s stunts. Rookie RG Damien Lewis had an inconsistent game, drawing a couple of holding penalties and helping surrender a sack. Carroll said he needs to use his hands better but he also had “some dominant blocks.”
Schotty really needs to use his tight ends more. Greg Olsen, Will Dissly and Jacob Hollister were a perfect 7 of 7 on their targets, but we didn’t see any 1-3 personnel and not a lot of 1-2 even. The tight ends are the best position group on offense, and Schotty should use them in combination more. It would help both the running game and the passing attack.