BRANDON GUSTAFSON

Big day for Seahawks’ defense spoiled by low point for offense

Dec 24, 2022, 1:31 PM | Updated: 1:52 pm
Seahawks...
George Karlaftis of the Kansas City Chiefs sacks Geno Smith of the Seattle Seahawks on December 24, 2022. (Jason Hanna/Getty Images)
(Jason Hanna/Getty Images)

If you can walk away from Saturday’s game being happy about any one thing for the Seahawks, it’s that we saw one of the better defensive performances of the season by Seattle. Unfortunately, it coincided with one of the team’s worst offensive showings of the year as the Kansas City Chiefs won 24-10 on Christmas Eve.

And that final score is somewhat misleading when it comes to the defense.

Chiefs 24, Seahawks 10: Lefko’s Instant Reaction | Recap | Box score

The defense had allowed just 17 points heading into the fourth quarter, and the Chiefs scored their final touchdown after Seattle’s offense had an interception in the end zone on a promising drive that would have made it a one-score game.

Kansas City then used a pair of big passing plays from likely MVP quarterback Patrick Mahomes to star tight end Travis Kelce to get into the red zone before Mahomes rushed for a score on third down.

The Chiefs have the best offense in football. That’s not just praise for that team – the numbers back it up. Kansas City entered Saturday with the No. 1 scoring, total and passing offense in football. But the Seahawks – who have the 29th-ranked scoring and total defense in the NFL – largely held the Chiefs in check, especially when it comes to Kansas City’s standards.

Overall, the Chiefs had 24 points, less than the 29.6 points per game they’ve averaged. The Hawks also held them to 297 yards of offense, well below the 429.6 yards per game they’ve had in 2022. Mahomes also had 220 yards through the air and he’s the only quarterback in the NFL averaging over 300 passing yards per game this season.

That’s all a huge win for a Seahawks defense that has received most of the blame for the team dropping four of its last five heading into this weekend.

But the Seahawks’ offense couldn’t capitalize on the defense’s performance on Saturday, spoiling that unit’s day by hitting arguably its lowest point of the year.

Last week against the San Francisco 49ers, you could at least say of Seattle’s offensive performance that, ‘Hey, the Niners have the best defense in football, so it stands to reason that the Hawks would be held to 13 points.’ And hey, back in Week 2 when the Seahawks didn’t score a single point against San Francisco, again, the 49ers have the best defense in the league, and that also was before Smith and Co. really got rolling offensively.

But this week, the Hawks faced a Chiefs defense that can be had and is largely in the middle of the pack compared to others around the NFL. And while the Seahawks’ offense has seen its rankings dip over the last month or so thanks to some bad outings, it’s still been a pretty competent unit overall.

Geno Smith didn’t have a great game, though, and was under duress against an aggressive Chiefs front. The run game showed flashes in the second half, but rookie back Kenneth Walker III had just 10 yards on eight rushes in the first half.

And boy was it apparent that the Seahawks missed standout receiver Tyler Lockett, who was out for just the third game of his NFL career as he underwent hand surgery a week ago.

DK Metcalf played well in the first half, catching six of seven targets for 71 yards. He got just two targets in the second half, catching one for an additional 10 yards. But the Seahawks needed a second option to show up in the passing game – especially after some early running game struggles – and that didn’t come to fruition.

All receivers, tight ends and running backs not named Metcalf combined for 18 catches and 134 yards on the day. We saw many drops, we saw Marquise Goodwin and Smith not be on the same page on Smith’s fourth quarter interception, and we saw just how desperately the Hawks need a consistent third receiving threat behind Metcalf and Lockett on the depth chart.

Due both to the team’s recent struggles and the Broncos’ standing as one of the league’s worst teams (the Seahawks hold Denver’s first- and second-round picks), many Seattle fans are looking ahead to the draft. That should especially be the case as the Hawks (7-8) are now under .500 for the first time since a Week 5 loss to the New Orleans Saints.

Many mock drafts have the Hawks addressing the defensive line with their first pick, and for good reason. As noted, the defense has been bad this year and Seattle needs help both against the run as well as to pressure opposing quarterbacks. Georgia’s Jalen Carter and Alabama’s Will Anderson are likely the two names you’ll see heading to the Seahawks if you were to pull up a mock draft.

But the Seahawks’ recent struggles show they need some help offensively, too.

The interior of Seattle’s offensive line has really had its issues of late, and that’s a big reason why the Seahawks have largely struggled to run the ball over the last month-plus. Damien Lewis hasn’t looked the same since moving from right guard to left guard, Austin Blythe has gotten bullied at the center spot at times and is a pending free agent, and veteran right guard Gabe Jackson is alternating snaps with Phil Haynes. Needless to say, Seattle could use some help there.

This game in particular also showed the need for more playmakers on offense in the passing game.

Yes, the Hawks tried to address the No. 3 receiver spot in the 2021 draft with second-rounder Dee Eskridge, but that’s obviously been a disaster to date. With two first-rounders and two second-rounders, shoring up that No. 3 receiver spot to give Smith a reliable third option heading into 2023 should definitely be a priority for the Seahawks. Just pull up the tape from Saturday and you’ll see why.

There’s still hope for a playoff berth this season for the Seahawks. They have back-to-back home games to close out the year against a New York Jets team without an answer at quarterback, and a Los Angeles Rams team ready to turn the page to 2023. The Seahawks also own tiebreakers over the New York Giants and Detroit Lions, both of which are fighting with Seattle and others for a wild card berth in the NFC.

It’s going to be tough for the Hawks as they need some help in a bad way over these final two weeks. Hopefully this is a turning point for their defense and a low point for Smith and the offense.

Seahawks’ Smith, Woolen, Diggs and Myers earn Pro Bowl nods

Brandon Gustafson

Seahawks 49ers...
Brandon Gustafson

Surprising Seahawks’ weak points exposed in season-ending loss

The Seahawks made a surprise run to the playoffs, but their weaknesses were frar too much to overcome against the 49ers on Saturday.
18 days ago
Seahawks Geno Smith...
Brandon Gustafson

Playoff-bound: What Seahawks said after dramatic OT win in Week 18

The Seahawks did their part, then got the help they needed to make the postseason. Brandon Gustafson on what the Seahawks said Sunday.
24 days ago
Seahawks Tyler Mabry...
Brandon Gustafson

Takeaways: How Seahawks impressed vs Jets in must-win game

The Seahawks snapped a three-game losing streak in a big way, beating the Jets 23-6 in a must-win game Sunday. Brandon Gustafson breaks what stands out.
1 month ago
Mariners Teoscar Hernández...
Brandon Gustafson

A Closer Look: The good and bad of Mariners’ offseason so far

Brandon Gustafson takes a closer look at what the Mariners have and haven't done this offseason, and what's good and bad about it.
1 month ago
Seahawks Panthers...
Brandon Gustafson

Seahawks need to ‘get our act together’ as run D struggles continue

The Seahawks continue to struggle mightily against the run on defense, with the Carolina Panthers rushing for over 200 yards in Week 14.
2 months ago
Seahawks...
Brandon Gustafson

What feels good and what doesn’t from Seahawks’ win over Rams

The Seahawks came away with a much-needed win over the Rams, and Brandon Gustafson details what was and wasn't good from the game.
2 months ago
Big day for Seahawks’ defense spoiled by low point for offense