It might seem optimistic to expect a magical offensive transformation from the Seahawks like last year’s. But with only two games, no matter how alarming they appear, it’s hardly time to assume the worst.
They’ve done this before.
That is the solace and hope for Seahawks fans to cling to after that mess of an offensive show in Los Angeles, in which yards were scarce, points were nearly non-existent, and frustration was rampant.
They’ve done this before, and they’ve pulled out of it.
Think back to the angst and hand-wringing last year when Russell Wilson seemed under constant siege in the first half of the season, and the offseason appeared perpetually off kilter. Wilson’s decision-making suffered to the point that Seahawks coaches took the unprecedented step of gently calling him out following a particularly rough game against Arizona that dropped Seattle’s record to 4-5.
“There are things he’s got to do better,’’ coach Pete Carroll said back then, and a few days later offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell alluded to some incorrect reads and poor throws by Wilson: “He’s got to be able to make really good decisions. You’ve got to give a guy the opportunity to make a play.”
The backdrop to that game, and that season so far, was erratic play by the offensive line, seemingly dooming the Seahawks to a season of discontent.
You remember what happened, of course: The line coalesced, Wilson thrived behind a quicker passing attack, and the Seahawks offense soared. After having a 10-to-7 touchdown-to-interception ratio, Wilson went through a nearly historic five-game stretch — all wins — with 19 touchdowns and no interceptions. The Seahawks overcame a 2-4 start to make the playoffs.
To expect another magical transformation might seem to be a Pollyannish outlook, considering the Seahawks have been without a touchdown for 119 minutes and 29 seconds of the season’s first 120 minutes.
But this Seahawks team, under this quarterback, has earned a little bit of rope. And two games, no matter how alarming they appear, is hardly time to assume the worst. The Seahawks could, and should, rebound from this malaise and more closely resemble the team that averaged 31 points in the second half of last season.
“We’re not far off by any means,” Wilson told reporters after Sunday’s 9-3 defeat to the Rams. “We’re not far off at all.”
We all know Wilson would say that if his supporting cast was the Sequim Pop Warner team, but there are reasons to believe there’s more truth than wishful thinking to that statement.
Foremost, Wilson’s ankle injury takes away a huge element of the Seahawks’ attack — not just his scrambling and elusiveness but, more important, the threat of it. The Rams knew that and could stymie Seattle’s rushing game, which they did for much of the game. The Seahawks were hit at or behind the line of scrimmage on 62 percent of their designed runs Sunday, according to ESPN research — the second-highest percentage in the Wilson era.
Wilson won’t be hobbled forever (or, at least, the Seahawks had better hope not). As his mobility returns, Seattle’s offense should become more dynamic, though that doesn’t address the issue of an offensive line that once again has looked overmatched too often.
The tackles, Bradley Sowell and Garry Gilliam, have struggled, and the shift of J’Marcus Webb to right guard for the injured Germain Ifedi has been problematic. Though Wilson said the defenses of the Dolphins and Rams presented as much challenge as any they’ll face, the 49ers and Patriots managed to score a combined 59 points against those same two teams.
When Ifedi comes back, which could be Sunday against the 49ers, the line should improve. Sometimes a small tweak can foster major results, as when Patrick Lewis replaced Drew Nowak at center last year and Wilson’s sacks dropped drastically, from 31 in the first seven games to seven in the next six.
The Seahawks also need a major upturn from running back Thomas Rawls, who looks like a guy that didn’t play in training camp and the preseason. He has 19 carries for 25 yards and ominously limped off Sunday after being kicked in the leg. Perhaps it was too much to expect that Rawls would roar into the season with the same energy and production that marked last year, when he averaged 5.6 yards per carry before he was injured.
Both Rawls and tight end Jimmy Graham are coming off major, debilitating injuries, and it will take time for them to ease back to their prior form. Some things you just can’t rush.
“We know we’re better than this,’’ Graham said Sunday. “We need to put it together and figure it out. We’ve got too many playmakers on this side of the ball and we’ve got to put it together.”
They may never get there. That happens in football, too. The Seahawks easily could be 2-0 — did any Seattle fan not think Wilson was going to lead another miracle finish after he hit Tyler Lockett for that 53-yard pass to the Rams’ 35-yard line? — but they just as easily could be 0-2. That opener was there for the Dolphins’ taking.
Offense is a synergistic endeavor, and the Seahawks need all of the elements working together. They are off in too many areas now — but once (or if) Wilson’s ankle heals, Rawls gets back into game form and Tom Cable puts his voodoo on the offensive line, we could having a very different discussion.
On a dark and dreary Monday, that’s something to cling to, at least.