Rost: Seahawks a far cry from what they want to be in Week 2 loss

Sep 19, 2022, 9:46 AM

Seahawks 49ers Deebo Samuel...

Deebo Samuel of the 49ers runs with the ball against Seahawks safety Josh Jones on Sept. 18. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

(Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

One team on the field Sunday knew its identity was to have a balanced attack on offense, establish a powerful run game, and play stellar defense. Problem is, that team wasn’t the Seahawks.

Seahawks Instant Reaction: Seattle Sports on loss to 49ers

The Seahawks’ loss to the San Francisco 49ers might not have been a shock to audiences in August, but it certainly felt like a letdown days after an emotional Monday night upset over the Denver Broncos in primetime. Expectations had changed; while only the most optimistic levied for a deep playoff push, a large swath of Seattle fans (and NFL fans) watched the Seahawks win Monday and thought perhaps this team full of question marks could still surprise.

Instead, they were treated to a lackluster 27-7 loss in which Seattle converted just two of its third down attempts, had just 36 yards on the ground, allowed nearly 200 rushing yards from their opponent, and failed to find the end zone on offense.

Speaking of being a surprise, it would be a little unfair to say that’s what this Week 2 performance was. Not when Seattle had struggled with missed tackling in the preseason. Not when a Geno Smith-led preseason offense failed to record a passing touchdown. And certainly not when this team entered the 2022 season with rookies at a handful of starting spots, and with second- and third-year players assuming new leadership.

“It’s different guys,” head coach Pete Carroll said when asked whether the fact that missed tackling carried over from the preseason was a concern (as a note from this writer, it’s hard to tell whether that’s good or bad news).

“We’ve gotta do better. We need more guys around the ball so guys don’t get stuck in the one on ones so much. We’ve just got to do better.”

There weren’t many highlights, but among the bright spots was a blocked field goal by rookie cornerback Tariq Woolen, a play that resulted in an 86-yard scoop-and-score touchdown from fellow corner Michael Jackson.

On offense, a phenomenal catch by DK Metcalf on a 49-yard pass from Geno Smith briefly provided a spark (though it was negated by a penalty on rookie tackle Abraham Lucas).

Holding calls and defensive pass interference penalties, even ticky-tacky flags, are to be expected with rookie players. But Seattle’s bigger problem is that it’s far from the youngest team in the league. Further, it’s a team that for more than a decade has known – at least under Carroll – exactly what it wants to be. And Sunday felt like a far cry from that.

It’s easy to look at the offense’s six consecutive quarters without a touchdown and point to Smith, but the Seahawks’ issues in the Bay were in the 10 penalties they committed – six of which allowed a first down for San Francisco – and the 189 rushing yards it allowed.

There’s always a chance Seattle finds its rhythm late. Back in 2018, the team committed in the offseason to the run though found little success on the ground through the first two weeks. That was until Chris Carson took off with 102 yards and a touchdown on 32 carries in a Week 3 win over the Cowboys. Seattle went on an eight-game streak of 100 or more rushing yards and finished the season leading the league in rushing yards per game.

Full disclosure: I don’t expect a quick turnaround for this squad. They’ll get a chance when they return home to face the Atlanta Falcons next Sunday, but real improvement from Seattle may be a slower burn. The 2018 version of this team had Frank Clark and Jarran Reed combining for 23 sacks, and importantly had a younger Russell Wilson and Bobby Wagner. This year’s iteration brings a first-time defensive coordinator, a second-year offensive coordinator, a quarterback who hasn’t been a full-time starter since 2014, and rookies at tackle, corner and running back.

Week 3 of 2018 was a jolt of electricity to bring this team’s offensive identity back to life, and that may very well be what next week brings for Seattle. But keep open the possibility that their next test is less of a jolt and more the chisel of stone – a metaphor more fitting for a team that’s trying to find out who it is, and who it can be, without some of the biggest names from its past.

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