Reporter Bob Condotta picks MVPs, unsung heroes and offers key questions after Seattle’s 2-2 start.

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RENTON — It was a first quarter of the season that unfolded pretty much like each of the games in it — a slow start followed by an encouraging finish.

“Really good comeback,’’ said Seattle coach Pete Carroll this week when asked to assess the first quarter.

The Seahawks, who have outscored foes just 29-26 in the first half this season, started 0-2, each road games played without holdout strong safety Kam Chancellor. But once Chancellor came back, the Seahawks — who have outscored opponents 58-45 after halftime — won two straight, each at home.

That sets up a potentially rugged second quarter of the season in which the Seahawks play three of four on the road, beginning Sunday at 4-0 Cincinnati. But before they do, here’s a look back, handing out some awards and grades to each of the three phases of the team.


MVP: QB Russell Wilson. Even while at times making a few uncharacteristic mistakes, Wilson has been the most consistent aspect of a wildly uneven offense, completing a career-high 71.7 percent of his passes and with a rating of 100.5 (his career rating is 98.6). His two fumbles lost and 18 sacks, though, are obviously too many.

Unsung hero: WR Doug Baldwin. Baldwin leads the team with 20 receptions in just 24 targets without a drop and has scored two touchdowns.

Key stat: 18 sacks. Seattle, working with an offensive line featuring three positions with new starters from last season, is on a pace to set the team record in sacks allowed, breaking the 67 of the 1992 team that went 2-14.

Key question: Is Jimmy Graham involved enough in the offense? As offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said this week “we want Jimmy to catch balls. I know you’ll probably ask me that every week.’’ Indeed, the subject of Graham’s involvement figures to be heavily monitored all season, or at least until the offense hits full stride. Graham is on pace for 72 catches and 696 yards. He had at least 85 receptions and 889 yards each of his last four years in New Orleans.

Grade: C

With a largely rebuilt offensive line and a less-than-healthy Marshawn Lynch for much of the season, some stumbles were to be expected. Seattle has just five offensive touchdowns, tied with the 49ers for fewest in the NFL (three others have been scored on defense and special teams). A respectable 5.3 yards per play average, though, shows signs of hope.


MVPs: DEs Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett. One could argue that the difference in the team without Chancellor (61 points allowed) and with him (10, seven on a fumble return) would make a case for MVP. We’ll instead give co-honors to Avril and Bennett. Pro Football Focus rates Avril as the best pass-rushing 4-3 defensive end — he’s batted down four passes, tied for the most of any non-defensive back — and Bennett the best against the run.

Unsung hero: DB DeShawn Shead. Shead has played almost 60 percent of snaps, having played strong safety (starting once), cornerback and nickelback, with 12 tackles.

Key stat: The Seahawks have allowed opponents to score touchdowns on just three of eight possessions inside the 20 (37.5 percent), tied for second in the NFL with Washington behind the New York Jets. Also, Seattle has not allowed a touchdown in its last 20 possessions.

Big question: When will the turnovers come? Chancellor’s return largely stabilized the defense — consider Seattle has allowed 6.02 yards per play this year when he was not on the field compared to 3.86 when he has been. What has yet to return to normal is the rate of turnovers forced — Seattle has just four, tied for 19th. All are fumbles, with the Seahawks standing as one of three teams (Washington and New Orleans the others) without an interception.

With Chancellor, it’s more like an A-minus. The Bengals on Sunday, though, will prove more conclusively if the defense is truly back to 2013-14 levels.


MVP: Tyler Lockett. The third-round pick has been everything the team hoped he’d be, returning both a punt and a kickoff for a touchdown by his third game — only the second player in NFL to have returns for TDs of both a punt and kickoff in his first three games.

Unsung hero: PK Steven Hauschka has hit all 10 of his field goals and has already tied a career high with three of 50 yards or more.

Key stat: Two long returns help buffet up the numbers a lot at this point of the season. Still, Seattle’s 15.4 yards per punt return average and 28.6 on kickoff returns are each on pace to set franchise records (13.97 punts, 1999 and 27.14 kickoffs, 2012).

Big question: Can Lockett keep it up? Expect opponents to continue to look for ways to kick around Lockett. He is averaging 7.18 yards per punt return on his 11 attempts other than his 57-yard touchdown, and 20.16 on his 11 kickoff returns aside from his 105-yarder for a touchdown.

Grade: B+

The kicking and return units have been solid. The coverage has been mostly good, though allowing a 75-yard return at St. Louis contributed heavily to the loss there.