What we do and don’t know about Seahawks through 2 games
Sep 18, 2022, 4:37 PM | Updated: 5:08 pm
(Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
The Seahawks came down to earth after last Monday’s exciting win over the Denver Broncos as they were beaten resoundingly by the San Francisco 49ers in Week 2, falling 27-7 in the NFC West clash.
Fast Facts from Seahawks’ loss to Niners | Instant Reaction
We’re just two games in to this new-look Seahawks team. It’s unclear where they’re heading and how they’ll finish. There’s a lot we still don’t know about the 2022 Seahawks. But there are a couple things we do know. Let’s dive into what we do and don’t know about the Seahawks after Week 2.
What We Know
• Nwosu looks like a rare free-agent hit
As we’ve discussed on our station and on this site for many years, the Seahawks prefer quantity over quality in free agency.
We’ve seen many years where, for example, top-end offensive linemen are available on the market but Seattle instead signs multiple veterans to cheaper deals and lets them duke it out in practice for playing time. That’s happened at other positions, as well.
The Seahawks didn’t break the bank this offseason for any one player outside of extending receiver DK Metcalf, but they did spend a pretty penny for the services of outside linebacker Uchenna Nwosu, giving him roughly $20 million for two years after he recorded 15 total sacks in four years with the Los Angeles Chargers.
So far, that’s looking like money well spent and a fairly rare free-agent win for the Seahawks.
Nwosu had about as good of a Seahawks debut as he could have had last week when he tallied seven tackles, a sack, a pass deflection and two QB hits in a win over Wilson and his Broncos, earning NFC Defensive Player of the Week honors as a result.
While the Seahawks were unable to come away with a win in Week 2, Nwosu’s play again was a bright spot on defense with the fifth-year pro recording four tackles, three QB hits and a pass deflection.
Seattle has overall put together consecutive poor outings as far as team defense numbers are concerned (more on that later), but Nwosu appears to be a key component of the defense, especially the pass rush opposite third-year rusher Darrell Taylor, who had 6.5 sacks last season.
• Lockett can still be a safety blanket
There wasn’t much to write home about with Seattle’s offense against the 49ers, but if anyone deserves some love, it’s veteran receiver Tyler Lockett.
The bulk of the Seahawks’ passing offense in Week 1 came in the first half, with the tight ends and Metcalf the main beneficiaries. Lockett caught just three passes for 28 yards and was a bit of an afterthought in the game. But Lockett put together a pretty vintage game on Sunday, catching 9 of 11 targets for 107 yards as he was the lone Seattle player to help move the chains on a semi-regular basis.
When Wilson was traded and it was clear Geno Smith was going to be the starting quarterback, some thought Metcalf would be Smith’s go-to target as he shined with Smith under center last year, scoring five touchdowns when Wilson was hurt. Lockett, meanwhile, had one big game with Smith at quarterback but didn’t get quite the same attention as Metcalf.
Lockett’s chemistry with Wilson was undeniable, as he regularly was a threat both as a deep target as well as on scramble/broken plays where Wilson thrived. Smith’s a much different quarterback both in terms of the deep ball as well as ability to extend plays.
Week 1 didn’t offer much in the way of Smith-Lockett chemistry, but Week 2 was a good showing for that duo, standing out even more due to the overall lack of movement and rhythm on offense.
If the Seahawks are to compete this season, Lockett needs to be a big part of the offense like he was in Santa Clara.
What We Don’t Know
• Can they sort out the run game?
This goes out to both sides of the ball, but with an emphasis on the defense.
Starting on offense, Seattle was fine in Week 1 with Rashaad Penny rushing for 60 yards on 12 carries and Smith adding 14 yards, as well. But the Hawks leaned on the passing game in the first half and struggled to sustain drives in the second half.
In Week 2, it seemed like there would be more of an emphasis on the ground game as coach Pete Carroll said he wished Penny had gotten more touches against Denver. Plus, the Seahawks were getting highly-touted second-round running back Ken Walker III in the mix after he returned from injury.
But Seattle backs combined for just 11 carries for 29 yards. They also threw a head-scratching interception.
T̶h̶e̶ ̶B̶a̶y̶ Pick City
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— San Francisco 49ers (@49ers) September 18, 2022
Yes, part of that was game script with Seattle falling behind early, but when those backs – and blockers – got chances to show something in the run game, it was less than impressive.
Now, to the defense.
The Seahawks won in Week 1 thanks largely to some timely turnovers at the goal line and a questionable decision on Denver’s part to try a 64-yard field goal at the end of the game.
While the defense forced two turnovers against the run, that group also surrendered over 100 yards on the ground on just 19 carries by Broncos running backs, or 5.8 yards per carry. It seemed like every time a Broncos back got a touch – aside from at the goal line – they were getting big gains.
But Denver opted instead to pass over 40 times instead of leaning on the run game. That could also be how the Seahawks justified their Week 1 run D as they were more focused on stopping the pass.
That was Week 1 vs. Denver, though, and the 49ers under head coach Kyle Shanahan want to run the ball. A lot.
Their starting quarterback, Trey Lance (who got hurt early), is a major threat in the run game. San Francisco seemingly picks running backs off trees who can thrive in the team’s system. Heck, the 49ers’ top offensive weapon is a wide receiver who had 365 yards and eight touchdowns in the run game last year (Deebo Samuel).
So, was the Hawks’ Week 1 performance in the run game just based on their opponent? Turns out, no.
The 49ers rushed 45 times for 189 yards and two scores, including a 52-yard burst by Samuel early in the game.
While the Seahawks’ pass defense struggled the last few years, the run defense was typically solid, especially in terms of yards per carry. It’s unclear if this team is just outright poor against the run or if they’re struggling to adapt due to a new 3-4 system.
Either way, the Seahawks can’t afford to lack in the run game, especially as they’re currently rolling out two rookies in the secondary and have a backup at strong safety for the rest of the season due to Jamal Adams’ injury.
• Is Bryant a viable nickel option?
There was some decent hype around fourth-round cornerback Coby Bryant after the draft as he was named the 2021 Jim Thorpe Award winner as the best defensive back in the country.
He started initially at outside cornerback during training camp and in the Hawks’ first preseason game, but he was shifted inside to the nickel spot late in camp and now has seen regular season action there for two weeks in a row.
Last week was especially rough as the rookie played just two snaps and allowed a long touchdown. But in Week 1, the Seahawks had Justin Coleman to turn to, with the veteran defender logging 77% of Seattle’s defensive snaps vs. the Broncos.
The Seahawks didn’t have that luxury in Week 2, however, as Coleman was out with a calf injury. That meant Bryant saw a lot of action against the 49ers.
The rookie had a few more rookie moments at that spot that, again, he’s only been playing for about a month. Bryant did nearly come away with an interception, but he was tagged for multiple penalties and missed a few tackles.
After two weeks, it’s worth asking if Bryant is indeed an NFL nickel corner or if he’d be better off on the perimeter like he played in college. And if he sticks at nickel, it will be interesting to see how many snaps – if any – he gets over Coleman once the veteran is healthy.
• Is there more to this offense?
Smith has completed over 80% of his passing attempts this season, but he’s thrown for under 400 combined yards through the season’s first two weeks.
The Seahawks’ offense cooked in the first half of Week 1 with Smith leading the charge, but it’s scuffled mightily since. Seattle’s offense didn’t produce any points in Week 2 with the lone Hawks score coming via a blocked field goal.
It looks like Smith’s been tasked with running a quick, high-percentage passing game. But is that enough for the Seahawks to be competitive, especially if the run game disappears like it did in Week 2?
Seattle has been known for deep and explosive passing plays in recent years, but so far that’s been hard to find for Smith outside of his two touchdowns to tight ends last week.
Smith can run the offense he’s being provided, but perhaps the Seahawks need to open things up more, even at the expense of Smith’s absurdly high completion percentage, which doesn’t mean much given the lack of yards and big passing plays.
The good news for Smith and the Seahawks is they return home and face an Atlanta Falcons team that’s considered to be among the NFL’s worst this year and fields a defense that has struggled to stop the pass in their first two games.
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