STACY ROST

The Morning After: Should Seahawks fans hit panic button?

Nov 6, 2023, 9:14 AM

Seattle Seahawks Geno Smith...

Seattle Seahawks QB Geno Smith reacts during a game against Baltimore on Nov. 5, 2023. (Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

(Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

Let’s go back to last Monday. The Seattle Seahawks, coming off a win against the Cleveland Browns and holding onto first place in the NFC West, made the biggest move of the day. Giants defensive lineman Leonard Williams was acquired via trade, and with that Seattle made one thing clear: the Seahawks see themselves as contenders.

What They Said: Seattle Seahawks on blowout defeat in Baltimore

A week later, another truth was made clear: Contenders have tiers, and the Seahawks aren’t at the top.

The Seahawks were throttled by the AFC North-leading Baltimore Ravens 37-3 in what’s now the worst loss for this team since a humiliating 42-7 defeat at the hands of the Rams in 2017. The Ravens entered the game on a three-game win streak. They were the top defense in points allowed and a top-three rushing offense. It was going to be a tough fight, but beat the best to be the best — right?

Here’s the panic-meter on the two biggest questions to come from an ugly Week 9.

• Run defense

Seattle’s defensive turnaround has been one of the brightest spots of a solid season, but fans had flashbacks to last year’s 30th-ranked rushing defense watching Baltimore run all over this unit.

The Ravens’ 298 rushing yards are the most allowed by Seattle in 23 years. It’s a gut punch for a team that spent an entire offseason figuring out how to improve there and, prior to Week 9, had taken a huge step forward.

Ruling: There’s been enough defensive improvement to avoid hitting the panic button just yet, but the hand is hovering over it. Baltimore has been exceptional with the run. Seattle’s run defense will still need to be sharp with a remaining schedule that includes four games against three of the top seven teams on the ground.

The missed tackling here is the biggest concern. It was glaringly obvious on a 42-yard run from Gus Edwards to open the second half, but popped up throughout the contest.

• Geno Smith

There’s still a gap here between the concern level of fans and the concern level of the coaching staff.

“I don’t think this is about Geno at all,” coach Pete Carroll told reporters postgame when asked about his quarterback’s performance. “I think this is about our football team not answering the bell here. We couldn’t get it done. We came in here to slug it out and they did a better job than we did with all of this. When they’re rushing the passer, that’s not Geno. This is not on one guy.”

Looking at the quarterback first is a natural reaction, and the measure of being a great passer can be an impossibly high bar. Wondering about the potential of untapped talent — which is what backup Drew Lock is now — can also be tempting.

Ruling: Also not pressing the panic button yet. At least not on Geno himself. But I am pressing it when it comes to third downs for the offense (and if I thought putting Lock in under center would make this group a top five offense there, I’d be calling for it.)

That panic button isn’t getting pressed, but the pressure is mounting. Smith doesn’t have to be Patrick Mahomes for this team to win, but he simply cannot turn the ball over at the rate he has been and he needs to find ways (and this is a task for offensive coordinator Shane Waldron, too) to get into manageable third downs. Six interceptions in four games for Smith and six total first downs for the offense on Sunday isn’t the marker of an exceptional offense, and this group has the talent to be better there.

More on the Seattle Seahawks

Recap: Ravens rout Seahawks 37-3 behind Mitchell’s big day
Instant Reaction: Why were Seahawks decimated by Ravens 37-3?
Seattle Seahawks GM shares his perspective on landing Leonard Williams

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The Morning After: Should Seahawks fans hit panic button?