Rost: What to know as Seahawks look to rebound in Detroit

Sep 15, 2023, 11:36 AM

Seattle Seahawks...

Josh Reynolds of the Detroit Lions runs with the ball against Jordyn Brooks of the Seattle Seahawks on Oct. 2, 2022. (Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

(Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

It feels silly to call a Week 2 game a must-win for any team, but if you’re going on vibes alone, the Seattle Seahawks are badly in need of better ones.

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A win won’t come easy. Last season, Seattle traveled to Detroit and won in a shootout. At that point in the year, neither team was facing particularly high expectations.

That’s not the case this time around.

The Lions are one win into a season that could see them win the NFC North for the first time in 30 years (that win coming in what was then the NFC Central division). The Seahawks entered the season as a dark horse to win the NFC West — though doubt and worries are creeping up early after an especially ugly 30-13 loss to the rebuilding Los Angeles Rams.

What should you know ahead of Week 2? On The Huddle, Dave Wyman, Michael Bumpus and Stacy Rost spoke with a Lions team reporter to learn more about Detroit’s improving defense, and spoke with Boye Mafe to hear about what went so wrong on the defensive side of the ball.

Not your 2022 Lions defense

Detroit Lions reporter Dannie Rogers joined The Huddle to talk about the most highly anticipated season in Detroit in years.

“It’s pure chaos with a dose of blue ski masks,” Rogers said, in a nod to Lions’ defensive back C.J. Gardner-Johnson calling for fans to wear blue ski masks to the game. “I love the Seahawks, great organization, I’m a big fan of Pete Carroll, so it hurts me a little bit to know the Seahawks will probably walk into the most hostile environment at Ford Field this entire season because of the build-up of hype.”

Why the excitement? It’s not just a Week 1 win over the Kansas City Chiefs, but also the way they finished the season — winning seven of their last nine and dealing Aaron Rodgers and the Packers a loss to keep rival Green Bay out of the playoffs.

The offense was an underrated strength of the Lions last year. Jared Goff had one of his best seasons as a pro — he still hasn’t thrown an interception since Nov. 6 — and Detroit finished fifth in points and fourth in total yards. But the defense, like Seattle’s, was a liability at times. Despite a stellar season from No. 2 overall pick Aidan Hutchinson (9.5 sacks and three interceptions) the Lions were 28th in points allowed and 32nd in total yards allowed.

Rogers believes that’s changed this season.

“The stats that you read from last season are not (reflective of) this Detroit Lions defense. Like you mentioned, they won seven of their last nine, that became the Lions defensive identity. You’re coming into a defense with a completely new secondary with the additions of Cam Sutton and Emmanuel Mosley, C.J. Gardner-Johnson and rookie Brian Branch.”

Mosely is the only question mark in the Lions secondary heading into this Sunday. He’s coming off a torn ACL suffered last season while with the 49ers and while the Lions kept him on the 53-man roster, rather than on the PUP list, he was inactive in Week 1 and reportedly suffered a setback this week. He was downgraded to out on an estimated practice participation report with a hamstring injury in addition to his knee issue.

“They’re playing really well up front,” Rogers said, noting the performance of Hutchinson as well as a mix of youth and veteran talent. “I’ll tell you they only allowed 2.6 yards per carry against Kansas City last week.”

That total is significantly improved from the 5.2 yards per carry Detroit allowed last season.

Truth and understanding

More than just communication and familiarity were at issue in an ugly Week 1 loss to the Rams, but they were certainly factors worth working on this week.

That’s what outside linebacker Boye Mafe talked about during his interview with The Huddle.

“We’re working on getting back into that groove, that cohesion, and understanding how to play off of each other,” the second-year pass rusher said. “That was our first game. So we’ve got to understand each other. Some people, they play different. So, we’re understanding how to communicate and what works best for everybody.”

Defensive coordinator Clint Hurtt implied communication was also an issue in Sunday’s performance. It was easy enough to assume as much, given the 426 net yards allowed and 11-of-17 third downs converted by the Rams.

“There’s a lot to it,” Hurtt said when asked about the team’s issues in passing off routes in zone coverage. “Obviously guys have got to talk and communicate. For an underneath zone defender, that could be a linebacker, it’s easier if you have a guy that’s playing adjacent to you… but if it’s a guy that’s coming from depth… you have to be really boisterous on the communication.”

The goal remains the same

Guard Phil Haynes didn’t see much time on the field in the second half. The offense ran just 14 plays and accrued only 12 yards, with nine of those coming on the final play of the game. It was an uncharacteristic performance for any offense, but particularly for one who last year was a strength of the team and finished top-10 in points per game.

It’s probably why Haynes looked inward when asked about the goal for Week 2.

“I think our biggest goal is just to be ourselves,” Haynes said. “What we did last week really wasn’t us.

“Just taking advantage of the opportunities we have to play well as a team to go out and win the NFC West. That’s our goal. To be ourselves.”

Being themselves means spreading the ball around on offense and using a balanced attack. They’ll have to do it this time around with their starting tackles, though. Abraham Lucas was placed on injured reserve the week, meaning he’ll miss at least four games. Charles Cross hasn’t been official ruled out, though he didn’t participate in practice this week (toe) and is considered unlikely to play.

More on the Seattle Seahawks

• Huard: What’s a realistic expectation for new Seahawks OT Jason Peters?
•  Rost: Is Seahawks’ biggest concern offense or defense right now?
• Salk: Blaming Pete already? Seahawks coach’s style has tradeoffs
• Bumpus: What should Seahawks do to fix issues on defense?
• Video: Wyman’s Football 101 – Where Seahawks’ pass D went wrong
• Carroll on Seattle Seahawks’ rough opener: ‘We gotta get our act together’

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