Three trends continued in New Orleans – one really pleasant one and two supremely disappointing ones.
Geno Smith once again played very well, continuing to prove wrong all of us who thought he could not be an NFL starter. Far from being the weak link on this team, he has been a steady, competent leader and one of the top passers in the NFL in 2022.
But the dysfunctional defense continues to make it hard for Smith to win games. With even an average unit, the Hawks could be 4-1 and leading the division. Smith has played that well — the top-rated QB in the league. But the defense has been that bad — on pace yet again to be the worst in franchise history.
Meanwhile, Rashaad Penny unfortunately — and unsurprisingly — suffered another season-ending injury (broken leg). His Seahawks career is very likely over – he will have missed 40 of 82 possible games since being overdrafted in the first round in 2018. This is why the Seahawks signed him to just a one-year, prove-it deal even after his hot finish to 2021.
It’s also why they drafted Kenneth Walker III in the second round. As Walker quickly showed with his 69-yard TD run against the Saints, he is ready to be RB1 for Seattle.
But it won’t matter how well Walker and Smith play if the Seahawks keep giving away touchdowns like they did in New Orleans.
The Saints were down to just two offensive weapons after Chris Olave left with a concussion, but that was more than enough as Taysom Hill accounted for four touchdowns (three rushing and one throwing) and Alvin Kamara joined Hill in rushing for over 100 yards.
The Hawks unbelievably could not stop Hill, even though they knew he was going to run every time he had the ball. The only time he threw the ball, it was for a touchdown, too.
“We did not stop him, and our plan for the Wildcat did not work,” Pete Carroll said. “He ran for over 100 yards on the day. That was truly the difference for them. … In a lot of crucial situations, he came through in a big way for them. It wasn’t new. They had done it. The things we tried to do we couldn’t get it done.”
On top of the horrible defense, the Seahawks made way too many mistakes. Michael Dickson inexplicably let himself get tackled to set up Hill for an easy score, DK Metcalf dropped a TD pass and also set up a Saints TD with an unlucky fumble, and Charles Cross committed a hold that wiped out a long TD to a wide-open Metcalf.
Smith rallied the Seahawks from a 31-19 deficit with a beautiful 40-yard pass to Tyler Lockett, and Walker followed that with his long TD dash. But, after Hill scored on a 59-yard run through a missed tackle by Quandre Diggs, Smith could not summon anymore.
Diggs and the defense were terrible against a Saints offense that was missing its top two receivers and lost Olave, their first-rounder, to a concussion on a play on which review gave him a TD after Coby Bryant had appeared to strip the ball before he completed the catch.
That was one of several big calls that went the Saints’ way and even had Lockett lamenting the unevenly officiated game.
As Lockett said, though, the fix for refs who meddle too much is simply to play so well that it doesn’t matter.
Right now, with this wayward defense, that is not possible.