It was shocking.
That’s the best way to describe the 2023 season opener for the Seattle Seahawks – a game in which the Los Angeles Rams came into Lumen Field on Sunday and lit up the Hawks 30-13.
Of the 16 games during the first week of the NFL schedule, this game shocked me the most.
The Seahawks came into the season with a lot of promise.
An offense led by Geno Smith and featuring the likes of Kenneth Walker, D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett would put points on the scoreboard. A defense that would feature a strong secondary, and with linebacker Bobby Wagner returning, a hopefully improved front seven to deal with the running game.
Unfortunately, none of that was on display against the Rams unless you want to call holding the visitors to 92 yards rushing on 40 carries a highlight.
So where do we start?
How about an offense that moved the ball in the first half scoring on their first three possessions and missing a field goal on their fourth then turning into a hot mess for the rest of the game?
The Seahawks had five possessions in the second half – four of which resulted in punts. The other ‘possession’ was a run by Zach Charbonnet on the final play of the game.
The end result was 12 total yards of offence and one first down (which came via penalty) in the last 30 minutes of play.
The defense wasn’t much better in the final two quarters.
The Seahawks actually held a 13-7 half-time lead but saw that lead evaporate in the second half as the Rams scored on all of five of their possessions to leave with the win.
Now the Seahawks have to travel to Detroit to take on a Lions team that is coming off a dramatic 21-20 win in Kansas City.
Drop to 0-2 and the math says your season is pretty much done.
Since 2007, 125 teams started their season by losing their first two games. Only 13 of those have rebounded to make the playoffs – including last year’s version of the Cincinnati Bengals. For those “Twelves” that have Super Bowl aspirations, only three teams in the history of the NFL have gone 0-2 and won a Super Bowl – the 1993 Dallas Cowboys, the 2001 New England Patriots and the 2007 New York Giants.
So if you think this Sunday’s matchup at Ford Field is a big one, you are correct.
The question that looms over the Emerald City is can the Seahawks fix what ails them?
“We’ve got to get our act together. That wasn’t a good performance in any way, as the whole game showed. It ain’t going away. We have to respond and we’ve got an extremely difficult challenge this week coming up with Detroit, high flying and all of that. But it ain’t about them, it’s going to be about us and we got to play all the way throughout,” Seattle Head Coach Pete Carroll told Seattle Sports during his weekly radio show the day after the game.
On offense, it was not a coincidence that once the Seahawks lost right tackle Abraham Lucas (knee) and left tackle Charles Cross (toe) that the unit became ineffective. Seattle needs both of these linemen to be ready to go for the Detroit game and their status will be one of the big storylines in Seattle this week.
There is enough concern that one or both might not be available to play this upcoming Sunday that the football club is bringing in 41-year-old free agent tackle Jason Peters for a workout this week.
Defensively, the Hawks had no pass rush whatsoever as Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford had all day to pick apart the Hawks secondary. Stafford must have thought he was running a 7-on-7 drill due to the fact that he wasn’t sacked and was only hit twice during the course of the game.
The lack of pass rush showed itself in the passing numbers as the Seahawks couldn’t cover the likes Tutu Atwell and Puka Nacua, who combined for 16 receptions and 238 yards in making injured-receiver Cooper Kupp’s absence look like an afterthought.
In the second half, the Rams ran 51 plays – only 14 of which were 2nd or 3rd down of five or more yards.
The Seahawks were horrible on third downs on both side of the ball as they went 2-for-9 on third down conversions while the Rams were 11-for-17.
If you asked me at the start of the year what the recipe for success would be for the Seahawks would be, it would be that their offense could score more than enough points to make opposing teams one-dimensional as they abandon their running game.
That would minimize Seattle’s inability to stop the run and play into their supposed strength (the secondary) but the bigger concern that I have now is the pass rush.
If you can’t get to the quarterback, it doesn’t matter who you have in coverage.
A wildcard for the Seahawks in this regard is safety Jamal Adams, who is rehabbing from off-season quad tendon surgery and is supposedly close to returning.
A capable blitzer, Adams’ presence could provide the pass rush with a boost but there are a lot of question marks surrounding him – namely health, effectiveness and deployment.
It’s only a week in but if the Seahawks are to live up to their pre-season hype, they need to find a way to fix some major issues and fix them fast.
Veteran B.C. sports personality Bob “the Moj” Marjanovich writes twice weekly for Black Press Media. And check out his weekly podcast every Monday at Today in B.C. or your local Black Press Media website.