Rost: 2 Seahawks who can have a big game in Week 3

Sep 20, 2023, 10:33 AM

Seattle Seahawks Kenneth Walker III...

Kenneth Walker III of the Seattle Seahawks against the Detroit Lions on Sept. 17, 2023. (Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

(Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

What a difference a week makes. After an ugly loss to start the season, the Seattle Seahawks are 1-1 and heading back to Lumen Field for a game against an 0-2 Carolina Panthers team.

Seattle Seahawks’ TEs showed why they can be key to offense

Two Seahawks in particular have a chance to take off against Carolina.

RB Kenneth Walker III

One of last year’s nominees for Offensive Rookie of the Year has been involved plenty to start the season, but hasn’t quite had a chance to take off.

Walker had 12 carries for 64 yards in a Week 1 loss, but with no production (as was the case with everyone on offense) in the second half. He rushed for a pair of touchdowns in Week 2 against the Lions, but also finished with 43 yards and 2.53 yards per carry. It’s nothing to look down your nose at, but it’s also not the explosive play Walker is certainly capable of.

For Michael Bumpus, there’s a reason for this slower start for the run game.

“Some of his exciting runs were the ones where he’s bouncing outside and making guys miss and picking up and extra four or five yards,” Bumpus said during Tuesday’s Bump and Stacy. “I’m looking at the guard play. Because most of those runs are zone. So all zone is, look at that offensive line, let’s say it’s zone right, everybody is stepping right. Say the 1-tech, the guy who’s in between the center and the right guard, is there. The center downblocks him, the right guard puts his hand on the shoulder, he climbs up to the next level, and then you attack the second level.

“The Hawks aren’t doing a good enough job getting to that second level. Those are the linebackers. Those are the guys who are paid to make these tackles. So that’s why when you’re running that zone you’re seeing Ken Walker get into the B gap where he’s supposed to be pressing, and there’s nothing there, and now he has to bounce it. It means one of two things: the defensive coordinator is figuring something out and calling a slant right to the run, or the guards just aren’t doing a good enough job getting to the linebackers and slowing these guards down.”

Seattle has an opportunity to take advantaged of a weakened linebacker group with Carolina. The Panthers — who have been banged up to start the season — placed another player on the injured reserve this week: linebacker Shaq Thompson, who will miss the remainder of the season after having surgery to repair a broken fibula.

The Panthers have allowed at least 130 rushing yards in each of their first two games. It doesn’t make them one of the league’s worst rushing defenses (though next week’s Giants are) and they haven’t yet allowed a 100-yard game from a running back, but they did allow a combined 131 yards and 5.2 yards per carry from the Falcons in Week 1 and another 75 yards from Taysom Hill in Week 2.

They’re certainly not the league’s worst defense, but they have suffered some key injuries early, so there’s opportunity for a good day from several offensive starters against a defense short a veteran linebacker and top corner.

Pete Carroll is intent on opening up the run game moving forward.

“We were not consistent,” Carroll said Monday of the team’s run game in Week 2. “We have to clear things up and get him downhill.”

CB Devon Witherspoon

This could really be a number of defensive players. Seattle’s defense has been one of the worst units against the pass to start the season — rest assured Panthers fans are viewing this week as an opportunity of their own — but the Seahawks have a chance to take advantage of a rookie quarterback.

Young is completing 59% of pass attempts this season with 2 touchdown and a pair of interceptions. Going with a veteran like Quandre Diggs to get a pick of Young or with a defensive lineman to wake up the pass rush might be a wiser pick here than a fellow rookie, but Witherspoon showed enough promise in his debut that the fun choice wins out here.

More on the Seattle Seahawks

• Seahawks’ Carroll ‘really proud’ of DK Metcalf’s Week 2 showing
• Seahawks Injury Updates: Carroll on Woolen, DK, Adams, more
• Rost: What’s sticking with us the morning after Hawks’ OT win
• How did Seattle Seahawks CBs Witherspoon, Tre Brown do in Week 2?

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