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How does Andy Dalton change things for the Seahawks in Week 3?

Sep 23, 2023, 9:56 AM

Seattle Seahawks...

Andy Dalton of the Cincinnati Bengals passes against the Seattle Seahawks on Sept. 8, 2019. (Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

(Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

The Seattle Seahawks got the train back on the rails with a win over the Lions in Week 2, but there’s plenty to prove, particularly on defense, against Carolina.

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On Monday night, it looked like the Seahawks would have a chance to pick on a rookie quarterback who was having a rough start to the season. But a week later, they’re instead looking at a visiting Panthers team with a more familiar face under center.

Veteran passer Andy Dalton, starting in place of Young this weekend, has faced the Seahawks four times over his career, both with Cincinnati and New Orleans. Two of those visits were at Lumen Field. He’s 3-1 in those contests with seven touchdowns and four interceptions and a 93.4 passer rating, with his latest performance being a 39-32 victory over Seattle in New Orleans last season.

As far as preparation goes this week, things may not look much different. But given Seattle’s own history with backup quarterbacks, a little anxiety is understandable (more on that later).

“We think the game plan will be the same as far as what they want to do,” linebacker Jordyn Brooks told The Huddle Thursday when asked whether the team had been prepping for both quarterbacks. “Obviously Andy Dalton is a little bit more experienced.”

What’s the game plan look like? According to ESPN’s David Newton, Frank Reich likes to spread the ball around — they just haven’t been able to do much of it yet this season against two stout passing defenses.

“They’ve struggled particularly in the passing game the first two weeks but they played two defenses that have been really good against the pass,” Newton said. “If you look at the quarterback rating against Seattle’s defense, I think it’s over 100 right now. So I think they believe they can make a little hay moving the ball in the air against the Seahawks…

“Andy Dalton likes to throw the ball deep. I think you’ll see him take some shots against this Seattle defense.”

The problem? While they like spreading the ball around, they don’t have a true No. 1 receiver (though Newton says Jonathan Mingo has potential to make big plays). They’ve also been struggling with pass protection; the offensive line has surrendered six sacks and 15 quarterback hits through two games. They couldn’t get much of anything going against the Saints, finishing 4-for-14 on third down.

Still, they have weapons. Tight end Hayden Hurst was a top target in Week 1 could have opportunities over the middle against Seattle. Newton cautioned that Reich will want to get running back Miles Sanders involved as a pass catcher, too. And for as weak as Carolina’s offense has looked so far this season, you can bet Panthers fans are seeing an opportunity against a Seahawks defense that’s allowed a third-worst 325 passing yards per game.

It would be a mistake not to also mention Seattle’s very strange record against backup quarterbacks, with strong performances from Colt McCoy (3-0 against the Hawks) and Nick Mullens.

So, what’ll look different? A few more shots downfield, for one, and a little less skittishness under center. That brings a challenge for a defense that’ll likely be without top corner Riq Woolen.

But Week 3 also brings opportunity; Dalton isn’t a premier starter, the secondary will be handling one of the least experienced receiver groups on their schedule (yes, I know you might’ve thought that with the Cooper Kupp-less Rams), and the pass rush could get involved earlier against an offensive line still finding its footing.

Prediction: Seahawks win in a battle that still feels a little too close for comfort, 24-17.

Big performer prediction: Ken Walker gets a big day against a linebacker group short Shaq Thompson.

More on the Seattle Seahawks

• Pete Carroll reflects on Seahawks’ ‘marvelous’ Super Bowl 48 team
• Bump’s Breakdown: How Fant and Lockett came up big for Seahawks in Detroit
• Huard: ‘So curious’ to see where Seahawks play Jamal Adams
• Rost: 2 Seattle Seahawks who can have a big game in Week 3
• Seahawks’ TEs showed why they can be key to offense
• Seattle Seahawks’ Carroll ‘really proud’ of DK Metcalf’s Week 2 showing

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