If the first two games are any indication, the Seahawks are going to play in a lot of shootouts this season – and probably win most of them.
Russell Wilson is off to his best start ever — with nine TD passes and one interception (thanks, Greg Olsen). Meanwhile, the defense, even with superstar Jamal Adams, is struggling every bit as much as it did in 2019, when almost every week (12 of 16 anyway) involved a thriller.
This 35-30 win over the Patriots was more of that brand – and the same kind of show Pete Carroll and Bill Belichick’s teams always put on when they meet.
Cam Newton impressed the national audience with a better-than-expected passing performance – 30 of 44 for 397 yards and a TD – and his standard couple of rushing TDs.
But Wilson threw five TD passes (to five different players) and improved to 6-1 against Newton in the regular season and 3-0 against the Patriots (in non-Super Bowls). This is the first time Wilson has thrown four or more touchdown passes in consecutive games, and it’s the fourth time he has had five TD passes.
It’s also the first time in Wilson’s career that the Seahawks have scored 35 points in each of the first two games. They have hit 35 in just two games total in each of the last three seasons — and they have never had more than three 35-point games in a season in Wilson’s time.
In other words, this is shaping up to be the best offense Wilson has ever run.
The Hawks (73 points) are the No. 2 scoring team in the NFL, behind Green Bay (85). Baltimore (71) is third. Wilson leads the league in TD passes, completion percentage (82.5) and rating (140).
The balance on offense was perfect vs. New England. They threw it 28 times and ran 30 for 154 yards – so the cooking fans and Pete Carroll both were satisfied. Brian Schottenheimer and Wilson are really in sync, and they mixed the run and pass as well as they have since Schotty arrived in 2018.
The defense still is no better than it was in 2019. It has given up over 800 passing yards in the first two games, and the lack of pass rush is as glaring as we thought it would be. The Hawks have three sacks – two of them by Adams.
When Newton, a pedestrian passer, lights them up with middling receivers and 34-year-old Julian Edelman sets a career best for receiving yards (179), you know your defense stinks. Dallas has a ton of offensive weapons, too, so expect another high-scoring affair next week.
The thing that has saved the Hawks is coming up big at key times. Just as the defense stopped Atlanta on four fourth downs in Week 1, the unit came up big against New England when it absolutely needed to — on the final play of the game from the goal line. Everyone knew Newton was going to run it, and Bobby Wagner told his guys the Patriots were going to their left. Half the defense crashed the backfield, with Lano Hill and L.J. Collier stopping Newton on the keeper.
Adams was excited to beat the Patriots for the first time in seven tries. He was 0-6 with the Jets, who were outscored 101-17 in his last three games with them. Adams said: “I’m hyped, man.”
Adams, playing with an elbow brace from an injury suffered in the opener, led the Hawks with 10 tackles and recorded a sack for the second straight game (he had 6.5 last season). He is off to a hot start, with 22 tackles, two sacks, four QB hits and three tackles for loss. He admitted the Hawks, himself included, have a lot to clean up.
Without Adams, the Hawks would have no pass rush. Carroll admitted they have to do better there: “We’ve got to be more creative, to help those guys out.”
We said it all offseason and will keep repeating it: John Schneider had one priority – adding a stud pass rusher — and he whiffed on it. If Carroll and Schneider do not fix it, it will be the thing that stops them from getting to or winning the Super Bowl.
That weakness is why the Hawks cannot give up points like Olsen did on the first drive – letting an easy ball bounce off his fingertips and into the hands of Devin McCourty, who returned it 43 yards for the opening score. That nearly cost Seattle the game. With Newton scoring for the Patriots, the halftime score was ex-Panthers 14, Seahawks 14.
DK Metcalf vs. Stephon Gilmore (the 2019 NFL defensive player of the year) was a fun matchup. Metcalf did well, catching four passes for 92 yards, including a 54-yard score. That was the first TD Gilmore had given up since 2018. Metcalf said the Patriots’ secondary presented the most physical game he has played in the NFL.
It sounds like Marquise Blair will lose yet another season, after redshirting as a rookie. Too bad since he was expected to play a big role this year. Hill has played a lot better through two games than he had over his first three years.
Quandre Diggs was ejected for a high hit on N’Keal Harry. It was a legit call – Carroll agreed, too. Diggs missed some time in the opener as well. He needs to be available if the Hawks’ secondary is going to improve and stop these QBs from picking them apart. Up next is Dak Prescott, who threw for 450 yards in a 40-39 comeback win against Atlanta on Sunday.
“Unfortunately, (Diggs) had to sit out the game because of the hit, that was I’m sure the right thing to do by the league. But unfortunate and it made a difference,” Carroll said. “He knows that he has to keep his head out of those hits. He was so jacked about the setup that he didn’t quite get it to the side like he needs to, and make a shoulder hit out of it. He’s such a steadying force, and he’s so good on the back end and so good on the deep ball. We got out of whack a few times. We have to clean that up.”
Quinton Dunbar had an interesting game. Newton picked on him early as Dunbar played soft. In the second half, he almost perfectly timed a pick-six, but he dropped the ball. But he later jumped a route for an interception, coming in after Tre Flowers left to get a finger taped up.
David Moore made the best catch of his career, scoring on a 38-yard pass where he had to get his feet down as he ran backward into the left end zone pylon. All of the receivers caught TD passes, including rookie Freddie Swain. “The fact that everybody touched the ball, we keep talking about that,” Moore said. “We talked about that in the third quarter. Everybody was super happy. I just sat there in shock that everybody got a touchdown — all of the receivers. It was cool, it was awesome to see and hopefully we can keep it going.”
We hate the “Let Russ cook” meme, but Moore had a fun quip about it: “It’s kind of like Thanksgiving. You know you’re going to get something good.”
Carroll and Collier were among the Seahawks lamenting having no fans in the stands. Said Collier: “Imagine if we had fans here today. It would still be shaking.”
Carroll said: “For the fans out there, we missed you so much, I can’t tell you. We are so used to this extraordinary following and crowd and energy and juice and all that. I don’t know if you saw our guys, but our guys were trying to fill in for you. I just wish so much that you had been there for the last play of the game. I just think it would have been so crazy for all the fans. I hope you went nuts (at home) and enjoyed the heck out of it.”
Will Dissly: “Man… just thinking of how loud it would have been on that last play if the 12s where there.”
With Wilson off to such a stellar start, the MVP chatter predictably has begun. Wilson has been in the conversation at various points of every year since 2015. That kind of gossip is part of the fun of sports for some people. For us, winning the Super Bowl is the only thing that matters. Wilson knows that and has said it many times, though he also has said he wants to be the best QB ever. He has repeated that goal more emphatically this year – and has come out playing like he means it. After the win, he said, “I put tons of work in this game and I want to be the best in the world.” Here’s what’s important to us: He’s fun to watch, he wins a lot of games and the Hawks are always in the playoffs with him at QB.
Patriots RB James White tragically lost his father in a car accident earlier Sunday (his mother was in critical condition). Russell Wilson, White’s teammate at Wisconsin, had a heartfelt message for White after the game: “My heart’s been heavy all day thinking about him. … This year has been a tough year as a whole for … people going through so much. … James, I’m praying for you, man.”