Sunday’s loss to the Rams left lots of questions in its wake.
So let’s get to them.
A: I wouldn’t be too alarmed yet.
This always looked like the toughest part of the schedule — Sunday’s trek to Charlotte to play the Panthers concludes a stretch of four out of five games on the road. And the 49ers, Eagles, Vikings and Rams all have defenses that rank in the top half in the NFL.
The offense looked a little disjointed from the start Sunday but also had to get out of its plan a bit when the Rams grabbed the early lead.
Seattle ran the ball OK but it didn’t feel like the running game made a real impact — Chris Carson getting stuffed on a third-and-one on the second series of the game was a pretty big play in retrospect.
There were Malik Turner and Jacob Hollister’s drops on fourth down and third down that stopped first-half drives.
Three of Wilson’s five sacks came in the second half when the Rams knew they could be aggressive, though coach Pete Carroll said later Wilson at times needed to get the ball out quicker.
Still, you’re correct that Wilson hasn’t looked as sharp overall of late. He has a passer rating of 89.62 in his last four games, and has had ratings below 100 in each one. He hadn’t gone four straight games with a rating below 100 since the 2016 season when he was battling injuries.
That Tyler Lockett has been battling illness and injury hasn’t helped. The loss of Will Dissly has been tough, especially with Luke Willson also out the last three games.
And Rashaad Penny is also now out for the season.
Injuries happen to everyone so those can be used as only so much of an explanation.
But it all plays a role and takes a toll.
Carolina feels like a good place to get the offense back on track.
A: The good news remains that Seattle’s odds of making the playoffs are really good. Fivethirtyeight.com says the Seahawks have a 98% chance to make the postseason, and Seattle can actually clinch a spot this week.
Via the NFL, here are the four ways Seattle can clinch this week:
1. A win over Carolina and a Rams loss or tie against Dallas;
2. A win and a Minnesota loss at the Chargers;
3. A win and a Green Bay loss to Chicago plus a Minnesota tie;
4. A tie and a Rams loss.
If you play around with the Fivethirtyeight.com playoff calculator you can find one scenario where Seattle would miss the playoffs — losses in all three games while the Vikings and Rams win all three while Green Bay gets at least one more win or tie.
So could Seattle miss the playoffs? Lloyd Christmas would say there’s a chance.
But I don’t think I’d worry about it yet.
A: Yes, I think he will. With Penny out for the season, Seattle has only Homer and C.J. Prosise backing up Chris Carson. The Seahawks went to Prosise Sunday I think in part because of his experience.
But now they know they will be without Penny, I’d expect the Seahawks to get Homer more work in practice and get him in the game plan.
But Carroll on Monday said that Prosise will be the primary backup entering the week.
“C.J. will step into that role and Homer will help out,’’ Carroll said. “We’ll see how those guys can do. We expect them to do well. C.J. has always done well when you give him a chance. Now, he’ll know he’s in the game plan and all of that. I’m hoping he’ll contribute in a big way.”
A: Carroll was actually asked that exact question Monday comparing Prosise to Penny.
Here’s what he said: “He’s got his own style to him. He’s big. He’s over 220 pounds. He’s fast and they’re about the same speed and all that. C.J. has the background as a receiver. That makes him a little bit different type of threat that we’ve always used when we have him in the game plans. We look forward to him contributing in that way. We know he’s a big-play guy. He’s already had a couple big plays earlier in the year. We’re going to count on him to really just pick up where Rashaad left off.”
Prosise, recall, was a receiver early in his career at Notre Dame and his receiving ability was among the reasons the Seahawks liked him coming out of the draft. He’s had a few big receptions in his Seattle career, such as a 46-yard reception against Tennessee in 2017, a play that showed the talent that has always intrigued the Seahawks even if they just haven’t been able to see it much on the field with Prosise battling injuries throughout — Prosise has played just 23 of a possible 61 games with Seattle.
A: It will be interesting to see how it plays out now that Ethan Pocic comes off IR — a move the team is expected to make this week — and if he competes with Joey Hunt for the center spot.
Pocic has 16 starts in his career; none have come at center, but Pocic played center at LSU (27 starts) and has worked there often in practices for Seattle.
Pocic has been getting substantial work at center the past three weeks in practices with the team knowing it needs depth at that spot with Justin Britt out. Rookie Phil Haynes has also been used some at center in practices.
Carroll and Wilson have spoken highly of the play of Hunt. But there were obvious issues up front Sunday night and the Seahawks could at least explore the idea of going with Pocic at center.
A: I agree with you on that and I actually theorized that in my story following the game.
Players and coaches, though, never want to admit that kind of thing — every NFL team has a similar turnaround at some point in the season — and I didn’t hear anyone making that case following the game.
“I’m not going to that,’’ Carroll said Monday when asked if the thought the short week impacted anything. “I don’t think so.”
But, it is logical to think it mattered somewhat. Seattle had a really tough week heading into the Minnesota game with the flu bug and some key players battling some injuries.
It sort of felt like a sluggish game was inevitable at some point, especially on the road.