Quinton Jefferson said something that was supposed to come off as a positive. After his team lost 27-23 to the previously winless Falcons, the Seahawks defensive end noted that “we got a lot of football left.”
The idea was that there was ample time for improvement — several weeks in which the Seahawks could fine-tune their offense, clean up their defense and contend for a playoff spot. But a suffering fan watching this club devolve into a product unseen for over a decade likely had a different reaction — even if their words were exactly the same.
“(Sigh), we got a lot of football left.”
Safety Quandre Diggs emphasized the need to be honest while talking to reporters Sunday. So consider this Quandre-inspired candor: This season feels close to over for the Seahawks. Yes, feels over is different than is over, but consider the three-game sample size.
In Week 1, they escaped with a 17-16 win over Denver thanks to two Broncos fumbles at the goal line and a bizarre decision by coach Nathaniel Hackett to call for a 64-yard field goal near game’s end. In Week 2, they were a blade of grass compared to the lawnmower that was the 49ers, who won 27-7 while outgaining Seattle 373 yards to 216. And Sunday, on their famously advantageous home field, playing against one of the two teams sportsbooks predicted would win fewer games than them this season, the Seahawks went MIA against ATL and fell to 1-2.
Thirteen days earlier, the Lumen Field crowd rained boos down on their former quarterback as he walked onto the field. Sunday, boos again rained down, but this time they were directed at the Seahawks as they walked off it.
Diggs understood why. The defense put up all the resistance of a 1-mph breeze.
“They did whatever they wanted today. They threw the ball and they ran the ball, and we didn’t stop either,” Diggs said. “They came out and kicked our tail — that’s what it is.”
If the Seahawks were 1-2 the way they were in, say, 2015 or 2018 — when a group of future Hall of Famers helped spur them to a 10-6 record — optimism would be understandable. But this 1-2 team is composed largely of newbies with little winning track record.
Before Sunday, their youth displayed itself most saliently on the offensive line, which allowed opponents to barrage the backfield and keep Seattle’s “O” out of the end zone for six straight quarters. Against the Falcons, however, it was the defense that looked greenest, as an otherwise suspect Atlanta team moved the ball at will.
The Falcons (1-2) scored on each of their first three possessions, tallying 17 points in the process. The first was a seven-play, 75-yard drive highlighted by two short Marcus Mariota passes that turned into 21-yard and 22-yard gains, respectively. The second was a nine-play drive that got them as close as Seattle’s 7 before a sack and holding penalty forced a field goal. The third was a nine-play, 89-yard drive that culminated in a 17-yard scoring run by Cordarrelle Patterson.
Three weeks ago, the primary concern for the Seahawks was starting a seven-year backup at quarterback in Geno Smith. Now, Smith seems to be the least of their problems. In fact, without Geno’s passing prowess (he went 32 of 44 for 325 yards and two touchdowns before throwing an interception on a fourth-and-18 at the end of the game), Seattle wouldn’t have stood a chance.
Perhaps Seahawks coach Pete Carroll’s biggest mishap on the day was taking the ball out of Smith’s hands and opting for a field goal on fourth-and-two from Atlanta’s 7 late in the third quarter. The kick put Seattle ahead 23-20, but as a press-box wag said upon the decision, “The Falcons are going to score a touchdown in 90 seconds!”
Actually, it was 156 seconds.
Runs of 40 and 17 yards by Patterson, followed by a 14-yard TD pass from Mariota to Drake London gave the Falcons the lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
After the game, the ever forthright Diggs continued to vent.
“[The offense] played a hell of a game, but we stunk it up on defense,” Diggs said. “I know people got mad at me for my comments last week, but if you don’t want to hear the truth, then don’t ask me questions.”
Your comments that you guys “obviously aren’t that. good?“
“Yeah, what I’m saying is that we’re obviously not that good to take days off,” Diggs continued. “If we were the team we were two years ago, we could take days off. We were 12-4, you feel me? We’re not there yet.”
The word “yet” puts a rosy outlook on an otherwise sour situation. The Seahawks simply aren’t there, period.
Maybe they will be one day. But it’s looking less and less like it will be this season.