Rost: Seahawks’ struggles on D aren’t surprising, but offense masking that is
That the Seahawks’ defense has struggled to start the season isn’t news. That the offense has been good enough to distract everyone from that is a surprise, though.
Because they haven’t just been passable or serviceable. On Sunday, the offense was really, truly great.
Yes – even against the Lions.
Seattle put up 555 yards of offense against a Lions defense that had struggled, though not quite as badly as they did against the Seahawks. Prior to Sunday the Philadelphia Eagles put up the most yards against Detroit (455), a total Seattle surpassed by 100. The Seahawks converted on nine of 12 third-down attempts and had eight plays of 20 or more yards. They were a back-breaking offense; four of their longest plays were on second- or third-down, including a 36-yard rushing touchdown to convert third-and-16. They didn’t turn the ball over on offense. They didn’t even punt.
“Geno (Smith) played spectacular football,” head coach Pete Carroll told reporters after the game. “Spectacular football. Not just the throwing and the catching, but the command of the game and running the whole show.”
Smith, who already boasts the league’s highest completion percentage (77.3%) through four weeks, continued being just as efficient against Detroit. He completed 23-of-30 for 320 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He had another 49 yards on the ground and a rushing score.
Better still, Seattle finally got its run game going. Former first-round pick Rashaad Penny had a season-high 151 yards and two touchdowns on 17 carries.
All of this may fairly be followed with a qualifier: against Detroit. And that’s fair; the Lions defense has given up the third-most total yards in the NFL. But even then, Seattle’s offense still exceeded the production of other offenses to have faced the Lions.
Here’s the other half of that: they needed to.
Carroll’s right. Smith and the rest of the Seahawks offense was spectacular. But asking for spectacular play every week is an impossible task even for the most talented units, and few defenses will surrender as many points as the Lions. It’s also true that few teams will score as much (Detroit ranks third in points per game). But a banged-up Lions offense without their top running back or top wide receiver still put up 45 points against a Seahawks defense that was at mostly full strength, barring a season-ending injury to Jamal Adams.
Perhaps understandably, given the win and Seattle’s offensive production, Carroll spent comparatively less time delving into the biggest issues on that side of the ball. But away from the mics and off of the podium, Seattle’s head coach will need to work out a problem that’s quickly surpassing any shadow cast by the absence of Russell Wilson.