If the Seahawks seemed to have all the answers in their Week 1 victory at Indianapolis, they did nothing but raise more questions in their Week 2 loss against Tennessee on Sunday, a stunning 33-30 overtime defeat after leading by 14 in the fourth quarter.
As always, Seahawks beat writers Adam Jude and Bob Condotta are here to debate some of the key issues from the game.
1. Well, is it time to panic?
Jude: No. Not yet, anyway. To quote Jamal Adams: “You know, sometimes (expletive) just happens, man. You know what I mean? Sometimes it just happens that way. That’s a phenomenal group (from Tennessee). I mean, you talk about their offense on paper — Julio (Jones), Derrick Henry, A.J. Brown, (Ryan) Tannehill. I mean, the list goes on and on of great, phenomenal players on that side. So let’s not act like we’re not playing a good offense. They executed. We didn’t.”
He’s mostly right. This is the NFL, and if you woke up Monday morning and scanned the standings around the league you see a lot of really good 1-1 teams — among them, Kansas City, Buffalo, Baltimore, New England and Cleveland. And Tennessee too. But here’s where there is some cause for early-season concern for the Seahawks: They play in the toughest division in the NFL and can’t afford to continue to give games away the way they did Sunday.
Condotta: I’ll agree with Adam that obviously it’s far too early for worry — two of Seattle’s three Super Bowl teams started 1-1. But, if you hoped that Shane Waldron’s hire fixed every offensive issue and the defense would forever play the way it had the end of last season and then again in the opener against the Colts, then yes, the game Sunday was at least a little foreboding.
The inconsistent offense leading to the wearing down of the defense and a team that overall lacked in discipline and smarts is something we’ve seen a bit too often at critical times through the years. And if you want to play the schedule game, Seattle’s schedule now gets tough with three of the next four on the road. The Seahawks need to clean things up quickly.
2. What happened to the pass rush?
Jude: The pass rush was one of the bright spots in the season opener against the Colts, when it looked like they had 10 guys capable of getting to the quarterback on any given play. So it was fair to expect more of the same against the Titans, and fair to wonder afterward what happened to the likes of Carlos Dunlap and Darrell Taylor. In reality, the Titans presented a different matchup, which required a different game plan for Seattle’s defense. A running back as talented as Henry will do that.
The Seahawks didn’t blitz much Sunday, and they stayed in their base formation for most of the game. More than anything, they didn’t put the Titans in many third-and-long situations after halftime — so there just weren’t many chances for the likes of Dunlap or Taylor to get on the field. I will say I still think the pass rush will end up being the strength of this defense, but that certainly wasn’t the case Sunday.
Condotta: To expand on what Adam wrote, Dunlap and Taylor played only a combined 49 snaps with neither contributing an official defensive stat, though Taylor was credited with one hurry by Pro Football Focus. Seattle finished with just three sacks but only one after halftime. And it wasn’t like the Titans stopped throwing — Tannehill had 26 pass attempts after halftime. Tennessee was without starting left tackle Taylor Lewan, who was injured in pregame warm-ups. So yes, there should have been more.
It’s not like Seattle didn’t try some things — Adams was used as a rusher nine times but had no sacks, hits or hurries. And his blitzes often were detrimental as the Titans seemed to run when they saw him coming, notably on the 60-yard Henry touchdown that swung the game. Once Henry turned the corner, there was only one guy left to beat.
3. Does the offense’s second-half sputtering portend any larger trends to worry about?
Jude: No. The offense is not the problem. It’s that simple. Russell Wilson leads the NFL in passer rating (146.9) and the offense has scored 58 points in two games. Sure, there were missed opportunities in the second half and overtime Sunday — Pete Carroll specifically called out Wilson’s incomplete pass to Tyler Lockett on the Seahawks’ first offensive snap of overtime — but you can point to those sorts of things in every game.
The Seahawks had possession for only 22 minutes, 42 seconds in total Sunday. That’s absurd for a game that went into overtime. Yes, the Seahawks need to run the ball more efficiently, and Wilson needs to settle for the easy check-down throws when they’re there (as Tannehill so often did in the second half). But the bottom line is Seattle’s defense needs to do more to get the ball back to Wilson and the offense. The Seahawks have just two takeaways and that’s not enough for the style of defense they play.
Condotta: I’m going to disagree a little here. To me it was a little foreboding that the offense in the second half looked too much like the second half of last season when too often Seattle was either getting big plays or nothing at all. It was hoped the hiring of Waldron would fix that, giving Seattle more options. That was there against the Colts in Week 1 but mysteriously not against the Titans despite playing a statistically worse defense. Seattle had only two targets to the tight ends and only two to running backs, and two of those four came on the futile, final drive of regulation.
One culprit was the running game — Chris Carson had just 10 yards on four carries in the second half and just one carry for 2 yards in the fourth quarter on one of Seattle’s two three-and-outs. Seattle didn’t even try to run the ball in overtime when it needed only a field goal to win the game, instead throwing low percentage passes on first and second down before a sack on third down and finishing with a 31-18 pass-to-run ratio. You have to figure Carroll is going to want to even that out next week.
4. Just how good is Tyler Lockett?
Jude: We always talk about how underrated Lockett is — and yet he’s still somehow so underrated. Is it going too far to suggest the chemistry between Wilson and Lockett is reminiscent of Montana and Rice? Because it feels like the Seahawks duo has entered that kind of stratosphere, and it’s a lot of fun to watch.
That said, there were key components missing from Seattle’s passing attack Sunday — DK Metcalf and the tight ends. Metcalf’s situation, in particular, is obviously worth monitoring closely this week after he was spotted hobbling off the field on multiple occasions late in the game. For as good as Wilson-to-Lockett has been early on, we know how good this offense is when Wilson has Lockett and Metcalf each in peak form.
Condotta: Well, here’s one easy way to answer that question — Lockett is off to the best start in team history as his 278 yards broke Steve Largent’s record of 215 for the first two games in a season, according to ESPN. He also tied Largent’s team record with his fourth career 150-yard receiving game. Lockett is second in the NFL in receiving yards (Deebo Samuel of the 49ers is first with 282), is tied for second in receiving touchdowns with three and is fourth in yards per reception at 23.2. We could go on, but you should get the point by now, as should the rest of the NFL.