Rost: The good, bad and ugly from Seahawks’ 31-7 win over Jags

Oct 31, 2021, 9:07 PM | Updated: 9:08 pm

Seahawks Geno Smith...

Seahawks QB Geno Smith gestures as he heads off the field after Sunday's win over the Jaguars. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

(AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

The Seahawks are heading into their bye week at 3-5 after a much-needed win over the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday.

Seahawks beat Jaguars: Takeaways | Instant Reaction | Fast Facts

There was plenty of good from the 31-7 victory – including a defense that shut out its opponent through most of four quarters – but also some lingering question marks. Here’s the good, the bad, and the ugly from Week 7.

The good

The Seahawks’ offense made a massive improvement from Week 7.

DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett combined for four receptions last week in a game where the offense couldn’t get going, but there were far more opportunities this time around as the pair finished with a combined 18 catches against a porous Jaguars defense. They were also incredibly efficient: Metcalf was perfect on his six targets, making six catches for 43 yards and a pair of touchdowns, while Lockett had 12 receptions on 13 targets for 142 yards. That was his third game of 100 or more receiving yards this season.

Seattle didn’t open up the entirety of its receiving arsenal since Metcalf and Lockett accounted for the bulk of Geno Smith’s 195 passing yards (185) and all but three receptions. No one’s complaining here, though. The Hawks stuck with a trusted adage on this one: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Smith, meanwhile, was incredibly precise, completing 20 of 24 pass attempts for 195 yards, a pair of touchdowns, and a 128.3 quarterback rating, the third-highest mark of his career.

Quandre Diggs reaches a milestone.

When he picked off a Trevor Lawrence pass on a heads-up play in the second quarter, safety Quandre Diggs became the only player in the NFL to have at least three interceptions in each of his last five seasons.

“People can say he threw it to me, but I actually jumped the route. That’s just the IQ I play with,” Diggs said postgame.

Diggs, who is the team leader in interceptions this season, also led the Seahawks with a career-high five picks in 2020. With nine games to go this season, he’s got a good shot to surpass that total.

The Seahawks’ defense continues to improve.

A unit that’s held opponents to the lowest third-down conversion rate league-wide over the last three games (24.3%) held Jacksonville to 5 of 14 (35.7%) on third down. Notably, though, the Seahawks also stopped the Jags on three of four fourth-down attempts and kept them out of the end zone until the final two minutes of the game.

It’s hard to measure whether strong showings against the Saints’ 31st-ranked passing offense and a Jaguars offense that ranks 27th in points per game are indicative of true growth. How will this group play on the road against Aaron Rodgers and the Packers at Lambeau Field in two weeks? Will they be able to hold off the NFC West-leading Arizona Cardinals the week after that? Those questions are fair, but until then, the improvement so far is at least notable.

For all their faults, the Saints have the best red zone offense in the league (they’ve scored on 92% of all possessions from inside the 20-yard line) and yet they were held to 25% in Seattle. The Jaguars are 1-6 but have at least put up 13 or more points against every opponent this year, with the lone exception now being Seattle. And while the Seahawks added just one sack Sunday to their season total, they notched seven quarterback hits.

The bad

With few exceptions, the Seahawks continue to struggle with the run.

Seattle’s offensive effort was markedly improved from Week 7, but if there was one pattern that remained, it was its struggle to effectively establish a run game. Seattle had just 69 total rushing yards, and there were three carries from the 1-yard line in the first quarter that went nowhere. Smith ultimately picked up the touchdown himself by extending his arms out to leap over the goal line, but Alex Collins and Rashaad Penny couldn’t get it done early.

The ugly

The state of the Seahawks running backs.

Speaking of Penny, Seattle’s former first-round pick continued to struggle in his second game back. The 25-year-old running back averaged just a yard per carry (seven yards on seven attempts), which was actually fewer than the 1.5 yards per carry he averaged in the first half (five yards on three attempts). The larger picture isn’t much better: Penny is averaging a career-low 2.1 yards per attempt this season. It’s a troubling start for the former San Diego State star, who – while talented and full of potential – has had a disappointing and injury-riddled three-year career in Seattle.

Here’s where it gets uglier: either Penny or Collins is going to need to step up over the next few weeks because it’s looking like a possibility that starting running back Chris Carson (neck) may not return for some time. Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said Friday he’s not ready to rule Carson out for the season, but he’ll need to “make a turn” – meaning show some improvement with his pain and discomfort – to return to practice.

“No updates about him coming back at any time that we can predict at this moment,” Carroll said. “So, we’ve just got to wait it out.”

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