Clayton: Seahawks are finding out the cost of losing an elite QB

Oct 26, 2021, 3:20 PM | Updated: 3:28 pm
Seahawks Russell Wilson Geno Smith...
Russell Wilson congratulates Geno Smith after a TD pass on Monday. It was Seattle's only TD. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)
(Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

Monday night’s 13-10 Seahawks loss to the Saints is the classic example of what happens when you go from an elite quarterback to a backup.

Pete Carroll Show: Seahawks’ D ‘turned a corner,’ injury updates

Pete Carroll said it Tuesday morning: the Seahawks miss Russell Wilson’s late-game magic. And after playing well for a couple weeks, Geno Smith struggled against the New Orleans Saints.

He opened the game with a great 84-yard touchdown pass to D.K. Metcalf. After that, there wasn’t much from the passing game. It vanished.

Smith finished with 12 completions on 22 attempts for only 167 yards. He was sacked five times for 38 yards. That means there were only 129 net passing yards, and only 45 if you subtract the Metcalf touchdown.

Since taking over for Wilson, Smith has struggled to get the ball to Metcalf and Tyler Lockett. In the Saints game, for example, Metcalf had only two catches for 96 yards. He was targeted only five times. Lockett, meanwhile, was targeted three times and had only two catches for 12 yards.

If you go through history, the drop-off from an elite quarterback to a backup translates to big struggles. A couple years ago, Aaron Rodgers missed a good portion of the season and the Green Bay Packers won only seven games. Dak Prescott got hurt last year, and the Dallas Cowboys won only six.

It was expected Russell Wilson was going to have the pins removed from his injured right middle finger soon, yet on ESPN’s Monday Night Football broadcast he told Lisa Salters he’s not sure when the pins will come out. He told her that he is trying to get back as quick as he can.

The Seahawks get a break this week. The Jacksonville Jaguars (1-5) come to Seattle on Sunday, and they are perhaps the least talented defense in football. Smith should be able to put up some decent numbers on them. Then the Seahawks go into a bye week.

The hope is Wilson will come out of the bye week and be ready to play the Packers on Nov. 14.

What was on display by Smith on Monday night was how much he struggled to get the ball downfield except for the Metcalf play. He did get a 28-yard completion to Freddie Swain but for the game he had only three completions that were 10 yards or longer.

So often Smith scrambled out of the pocket and found little success finding someone open. Carroll said he’s counting on Smith to keep the offense intact.

As expected, the Saints concentrated on stopping the run. The Seahawks had 90 yards on 28 carries, a 3.2-yard average. Not good. Smith had three runs himself for 12 yards.

Despite the offensive woes, the Seahawks still had a chance to win. It didn’t help that kicker Jason Myers missed two field goals.

Defensively, the Seahawks did a lot of good things. Coverages were better. They were able to get some pressure on the quarterback. The Saints just let Alvin Kamara carry the team, though. He had 179 combined yards and touched the ball 30 times, including 10 catches for 128 yards.

So now the Seahawks are 2-5 and in deep trouble. There are still enough winnable games over the rest of their 17-game schedule to get them to maybe nine wins, but they have to start winning.

That’s the price of losing an elite quarterback.

More Seahawks coverage from

Heaps: Seahawks’ offensive issues aren’t on Shane Waldron
Rost: Why did the 2-5 Seahawks’ latest loss feel so ugly?
Seahawks Takeaways: What went wrong in sloppy loss to Saints
710 ESPN Seattle reacts to Monday’s Hawks defeat
What Brock Huard wants to see the Hawks do to get offense going

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