STACY ROST

Rost: 3 key things the Seattle Seahawks can prove against Ravens

Nov 3, 2023, 9:23 AM

Seattle Seahawks...

Geno Smith of the Seattle Seahawks warms up on Oct. 29, 2023. (Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

(Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

If you were to ask a Seattle Seahawks fan in Week 1 to point to the gauntlet of the schedule, they’d circle a series of four games, two in primetime, from late November into December against the Eagles, Cowboys, and two versus 49ers.

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Make no mistake, that remains Seattle’s toughest stretch. But it turns out the real tests were starting much earlier than that, even: Last week against the Brown’s No. 1 defense, continuing into this week against the AFC North-leading Baltimore Ravens.

The Ravens have been a quietly great team over the last month. They own one of the league’s best passing defenses, are leading the league in sacks, and have won three in a row. Oh, and Lamar Jackson – who at his best looks unstoppable – is third in completion percentage and has thrown just three interceptions.

The Seahawks clearly see themselves as contenders – that much is clear with their mid-season acquisition of Leonard Williams – but the rest of the league should start seeing them that way, too, if they come out of Baltimore 6-2 with a win against a tough, balanced Ravens team.

Why? Because they’ll have to prove (or, at the very least have a chance to prove) three key things:

Good Geno, Bad Geno

It’s the most important position in football, so it’s no wonder the Seahawks will ultimately go as far as quarterback Geno Smith will take them.

A quickly-improving defense can help smooth that road to the playoffs and a healthier offensive line can buy time for Smith to find a bevy of weapons. But a bad version of Smith isn’t going to make a win Sunday easy.

Smith will need to avoid costly turnovers (he’s had five interceptions in the last three games) and red zone errors, but a great game will make for a second consecutive win against one of the league’s stingiest defenses, and that’s still a statement.

Geno will also need to avoid throwing the ball to Geno – Stone, that is.

“Good Geno” here is the best version of Smith, it’s also Seattle’s version of Geno. On the other side of the ball is safety Geno Stone.

You’d love his story if you weren’t rooting against him this weekend. A seventh-round pick in 2020, Stone bounced back and forth between the Ravens practice squad and active roster during his rookie season before being waived. He got another chance with the Ravens in 2021 and, thanks in part to injuries elsewhere, earned chances to start in 2022. This season he’s been starting in place of an injured Marcus Williams … and he has five interceptions in eight games, which leads the NFL. Both safeties pack a punch, and Baltimore has benefitted from their production on the back end.

Running away with it

It’s not easy to run the ball on the Ravens. But they have been more susceptible there, and we also know Pete Carroll would love to see the run game find more opportunities.

After what Carroll called a “spotty” performance on the ground against Cleveland, the head coach was asked how Seattle can find more consistency.

“We need to do it more,” Carroll said, bluntly. “Just more. We can run the football. Our guys are good at carrying the rock. We just need to give them more chances, and to do that you have to get more first downs.”

Seattle converted just four of 12 third-down attempts last week. Not a surprise against a Cleveland defense that had been limiting opposing offenses to 27% on third down, but it did limit the opportunities for Seattle to dig into the run game.

Fans and team alike would love to see more from Walker and their promising rookie, Zach Charbonnet, moving forward. They’ll have a chance to do it against a Baltimore defense that’s given up 129 on the ground in two of their last three games.

Solidify your identity

This is a Seahawks defense that prides itself on physicality, and that’s certainly part of their identity.

In a nice turn of events from 2022, another part of their identity has been stopping the run. They’re currently ninth in the league, limiting opponents to just under 100 yards.

That took a bit of a hit against Cleveland, a team that’s been able to find gains on the ground even without Nick Chubb, and will be tested against the Ravens, who are currently third in rush yards per game (143). Considering that three of the top-seven rushing teams still remain on Seattle’s schedule (Arizona, San Francisco, and Philadelphia), solidifying that aspect of their defense has never felt more important.

More on the Seattle Seahawks

Bumpus: ‘Defense is the identity’ of Seattle Seahawks right now
Williams gets thrown into competition right away with Seahawks
• K.J. Wright: What Seahawks get in adding Leonard Williams, who it helps
• Huard: Why Seahawks gave up more for Williams than 49ers did for Young
• Lefko: Gap closed? How Seahawks, 49ers match up after trade deadline
• Wyman’s Football 101: How will Williams fit into Seattle Seahawks’ defense?

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