It might be weird to hear after an ugly home loss against one of the worst teams in the NFL, but there is still a small bit of hope to be found for the Seahawks in what is shaping up to be a tough season.
That glimmer of hope is thanks to the Seahawks’ offense, which gave the team a chance all the way to the final minutes of Sunday’s 27-23 home loss to the Atlanta Falcons.
Quarterback Geno Smith put up yet another solid performance, going 32 for 44 for 325 yards and two passing touchdowns, while hitting Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf a combined 14 times for 140 yards.
In the rushing game, Seattle finished with a season-high 112 yards as Rashaad Penny ran for 66 on 14 carries.
The Seahawks’ highlight of the day on offense came in the second quarter, when Metcalf made a spectacular catch in the end zone to tie the score at 17 with just under four minutes to go in the first half.
Whether it be the run game, the quarterback, the receivers, or the offensive line, there was plenty to be happy about in Sunday’s game on the offensive side of the ball. It was a welcome development for Seattle after last week’s poor showing against the San Francisco 49ers, where the Seahawks ran 47 offensive plays and managed a mere 216 total yards and 14 first downs.
Seattle ran 69 plays against Atlanta, while tallying 420 offensive yards and 23 total first downs. Despite the disappointing loss to the lowly Falcons, it was by far Seattle’s best offensive game of the season.
“I think we did a great job,” Lockett said. “I think we took advantage of what they gave us, the run game was real dominant, and the pass game was pretty dominant. They played a lot of zone so it was great being able to run, find the open holes, and be able to keep the drives alive.”
A big change that Seattle made to its offense was its increased use of the tempo offense. Coming into Week 3, the Seahawks had run just 10 no-huddle plays. Against Atlanta, Seattle ran 25 no-huddle plays.
According to Smith, the emphasis on running the no-huddle offense allowed the Seahawks to put pressure on an Atlanta defense that came into the game ranked 27th in the NFL in points allowed and 22nd in total yardage.
“Playing fast, I think that helped us out a bunch,” Smith said. “Guys were really in tune with the play calls and all the checks and stuff we made at the line of scrimmage. All the guys were locked in. When you have guys that we have who are extremely talented, but are also equally as smart, it allows for you to do that.”
Much of Smith’s success, along with the success of a Seahawks run game, had to do with improvements from the young offensive line.
Last week, Smith was hit nine times by the 49ers defense, including a pair of sacks by San Francisco defensive star Nick Bosa. On Sunday, the offensive line kept Smith clean until the final drive, when he was sacked twice before throwing a desperation heave interception on fourth-and-18 to seal the game for the Falcons.
Before that drive, the line had allowed three quarterback hits in the game.
“I feel like the line played a tremendous game,” Smith said. “I think they played outstanding all game long. At one point I kept telling myself, we have to hit you up in the pocket. I was just standing back there because I have so much time and great protection. I think they did a great job again, and they’re going to continue to get better, but I really was impressed with what they did today.”
Coming into the season, there were plenty of questions surrounding Smith’s abilities as he took over the starting quarterback job from Russell Wilson after eight seasons as a backup. But so far, Smith has been the least of Seattle’s problems.
Through three weeks, Smith leads qualified passers with a 77.4% completion rate, and ranks seventh in the NFL with a passer rating of 100.8 among qualified passers. It is clear Smith has the trust of coach Pete Carroll since beating out Drew Lock for the starting job in the preseason.
“I thought he played really, really well,” Carroll said. “… He can do things right. He understands what’s going on. He is in command of it. He has the arm to throw all of the throws that we’re asking him to do. He is really poised about it. That’s a heck of a football game today he threw. He is doing his part.”