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O’Neil: Seahawks’ offense not potent enough to deal with Rams

The Rams sacked Seahawks QB Russell Wilson seven times in a game last December. (AP)

They’ve got to deal with us.

That was the motto of the Seahawks defense not all that long ago. Back when Seattle was at its peak. A mantra that was confident bordering on cocky and one that reflected the reality that the Seahawks weren’t going to change what they did on defense.

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They’ve got to deal with us.

And so many times, the league’s top offenses stood toe-to-toe with that Seahawks defense and blinked. The Saints certainly did on that Monday night loss in 2013. So did the Broncos in the Super Bowl that season and again in Week 3 the following September.

Seattle didn’t just deal with the league’s best offenses, it neutered them. But that was another era for this franchise. A different team for all intents and purposes. That was hammered home last December when the Los Angeles Rams came into CenturyLink Field and scored three times before the Seahawks gained a first down. Los Angeles scored on six of seven first-half possessions, laying a 42-7 drubbing on Seattle that still stings almost 10 months later.

The Rams come back to town on Sunday with the league’s leading offense, and the Seahawks are facing the stark reality that they’re going to need to score at least 30 points to win.

They’ve got to deal with us? That’s the only the way the Seahawks are going to deal with them.

Through four games this season, Seattle’s defense has been better than many would have expected. Not great. The Seahawks have given up significant rushing yards in the second half of two different games this season, but they’ve forced nine turnovers, held two of four opponents to fewer than 20 points and rank 10th out of the league’s 32 teams in points allowed.

That’s pretty good when you consider that Seattle lost six of its starters from last season, five of whom were former Pro Bowlers.

Pretty good is one thing. The Rams show the distinct possibility of being a truly great offense, having scored more than 30 points in every game this season.

There was a time when Seattle could look at that kind of production and shrug, confident that its defense would change that. That time, however, was five years ago, and if the Seahawks are going to upset the Rams on Sunday it will be because the Seahawks offense goes from struggling, to competent, to being outright potent.

That will depend largely upon Russell Wilson because for all the talk about establishing the run and finding balance, the quarterback of this team is the only who’s capable of conjuring up the points the Seahawks are going to need if they’re going to win this game.

We’ve seen him do it before. Last year against Houston when he threw for 452 yards. Or back in 2015 against the Pittsburgh Steelers when he threw five touchdown passes.

Entering this season, quarterback was the one advantage the Seahawks seemed to have over the Rams. The Seahawks had Wilson, who’d proven himself to be one of the league’s very best. The Rams had Jared Goff, who was the NFL’s most improved player in 2017 largely because he had been so awful as a rookie.

Well, through four games, Goff has thrown 11 touchdown passes while being intercepted twice and he’s looking unflappable at the helm of the league’s top offense while Wilson has been white-knuckling the steering wheel of a hooptie that’s having trouble getting out of first gear.

They’ve got to deal with us? Nope. The Seahawks don’t have a potent enough offense to deal with them. Not yet at least. Rams 33, Seahawks 23.