STACY ROST

Rost: What issues for Seahawks’ offense need to be fixed?

Oct 17, 2023, 9:46 AM | Updated: 9:48 am

Seattle Seahawks Geno Smith...

Seattle Seahawks QB Geno Smith looks to pass against Cincinnati on Oct. 15, 2023. (Dylan Buell/Getty Images)

(Dylan Buell/Getty Images)

The Cincinnati Bengals did what they could to gift the Seattle Seahawks a win in Week 6, but unfortunately Geno Smith and Seattle’s offense didn’t take them up on the offer.

Seahawks’ Carroll: What went right on defense, wrong on offense

Forty-eight hours removed from the loss, perhaps your anger and frustrated has dissipated – or maybe not. But most fans are probably still left with a big question (is Geno the guy?) and a request (just tell me this offense is going to be OK).

This season has so far seen one of Smith’s best performances with the Seahawks as well as one of his worst, the latter coming in Sunday’s 17-13 loss to Cincinnati. Seattle totaled just 10 points from five visits to the red zone against the Bengals, with their only touchdown coming on their first trip.

Now, there are no gimmes in football — saying Cincinnati tried to gift Seattle a win is a tongue-in-cheek nod to the number of scoring opportunities the Seahawks had inside the 20, not a measure of how easy a win should have been. The Bengals rank 24th in opponent yards allowed, but they’re also fourth in sacks (19). Seattle’s banged-up offensive line felt that pressure in key moments Sunday, including on those final two red zone visits.

“The focus goes to Geno because he’s got the ball in his hands, but he’s got a lot of stuff going on with the pressure coming and all,” Pete Carroll told Seattle Sports’ Brock and Salk on Monday morning. “We just didn’t hold up the way we needed to to function right at the end.”

It’s not an excuse, but rather a reminder that there’s more than one issue when an offense flounders.

It would be silly to assume quarterback isn’t the most important component here. Seahawks fans aren’t the only ones wondering whether their team has the right answer under center, but Smith isn’t the only quarterback to come off a bad Week 6 (your reminder that the Eagles, 49ers and Chargers lost). All we really know right now is that Seattle can win with the best version of Smith; their surprise run to the playoffs last season wasn’t in spite of him, but in large part because of a passing offense that ranked in the top 10 league-wide in scoring. We’ve seen that version this season.

There were, and are, lingering concerns about whether he can deliver when the offense needs him most. Moments like that from a passer can be the difference between an early playoff exit or a trip to a Super Bowl. The potential for a touchdown to an open Jaxon Smith-Njigba? Even under pressure, that’s a missed opportunity — one Carroll and Smith are well aware of.

However, health up front and consistency on the ground are huge parts of those improvements, too. A patchwork offensive line has held up through the first month of the season, but the absence of key starters was felt more against a Bengals defense that has been able to get to opposing quarterbacks (Seattle has an opponent looming in Week 9, the Baltimore Ravens, that is tied for first in sacks). An inconsistent showing on the ground also stalled drives. Kenneth Walker III had 19 carries for 62 yards, but without his longest play of the day — a 21-yard gain — he had 41 yards on 18 carries (2.3 average).

What gets better in Week 7?

The hope is the return of guard Damien Lewis, for starters, and a healthier Phil Haynes. Carroll admitted that the calf injury to Haynes, who is another guard, lingered into Sunday’s matchup. Also hurting is right tackle Jake Curhan (ankle), already filling in for an injured Abraham Lucas.

Carroll told Brock and Salk that Lucas isn’t ready to return just yet, meaning Seattle will turn to Curhan to start again, or potentially to veteran Jason Peters, who has been on the practice squad and was close to making his Seahawks debut Sunday.

There are improvements to be made in the run, and Seattle is likely to explore more opportunities there.

“I would love to see Zach (Charbonnet) get in there,” Carroll said of the rookie running back getting more carries in the red zone. “He does come downhill, it might’ve been a difference, I don’t know if it would have. (But) if you can run the ball in the red zone, it makes it a whole lot easier.”

More on the Seattle Seahawks

Seattle Sports’ Instant Reaction: What happened in Hawks’ loss to Bengals?
Seahawks lament wasted chances in red zone in loss to Bengals
Seahawks’ offense spoils big day by defense in loss to Bengals
The Big Plays: Video highlights from Seahawks loss in Cincy
Recap: Bengals’ D shuts down Seattle Seahawks late to seal 17-13 win

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