Rost: What do Seahawks need to accomplish most vs Commanders?

Nov 10, 2023, 3:33 PM

Seattle Seahawks Geno Smith offensive line...

Geno Smith of the Seattle Seahawks throws a pass against the Detroit Lions on Sept. 17, 2023. (Nic Antaya/Getty Images)

(Nic Antaya/Getty Images)

The Seattle Seahawks know what they need to do Sunday when they host the Washington Commanders (4-5).

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They need to be better on third down, where they currently rank 30th after going 1-for-12 last week against Baltimore. They’d like to establish the run, something Pete Carroll made clear in press conferences over the last few weeks (they’re 23rd there, averaging about 97 yards per game on the ground). They need to stop the run, which shouldn’t be an especially difficult task against a Washington team that throws the ball 67% of the time, most in the NFL.

But this is about what they need to accomplish Sunday, and that’s far more simple: Look like a playoff team.

The Seahawks need quarterback Geno Smith to avoid turnovers and look like a solid, veteran starter. They need to look more like the defense that had improved from 30th against the run to a top-10 team before the last two weeks. They need to look like a team that made a midseason trade to acquire more talent on their defensive line to remain competitive in a wide-open NFC.

On Friday, ESPN’s Brady Henderson, filling in for Brock Huard, put it bluntly: they need to get a bad taste out of their mouths.

This Seahawks team isn’t tanking for a top-5 pick (the Giants, the Bears, holding the Panthers pick, and the Cardinals may already be running away with that one). There’s no turning back for an organization that’s been to the postseason in nine of the past 11 seasons.

Getting Smith back on track isn’t a one-man job, nor is winning football games.

“We struggled across the board on offense,” Carroll told reporters Monday. “Everybody had some difficulties in this game and it just added up to where the quarterback is in the middle of that as well. We have to do a lot better. We have to protect. We had some communication things that we can clean up. I think Geno’s consistent accountability is a strength of his and it helps the guys around him, but we have to help him. We have to make sure we’re doing our part.”

A look at Sunday’s loss to Baltimore – if you can stomach revisiting it – reveals all of those issues: An offensive line that’s struggling to buy time against a creative and suffocating Baltimore defensive front, a miscommunication issue on an interception, and a run game that can’t get going. At the center of it are struggles on third down – you’re not going to see many carries when you’re behind and facing third-and-long.

But fans don’t want excuses – why would anyone? – and players want to win now.

So, on Sunday, when they face a Commanders team that has little to love outside of their promising young quarterback, Seattle must meet the moment.

Washington is allowing the second-most points per game; according to ESPN’s John Keim, their kryptonite has been explosive plays. Seattle has a chance to get to a quarterback that’s been sacked 44 times this season (most in the NFL) and carve up a defense giving up the third-most fantasy points to wide receivers.

With basic stats – whether yards, interceptions, turnover differential or points per game – these two teams are more similar than different. But one is potentially facing a new regime after a single playoff loss under head coach Ron Rivera and hoping they’ve finally struck gold on a franchise passer. The other entered the year with playoff aspirations, and needs to look the part after one of the worst losses in Carroll’s tenure.

More on the Seattle Seahawks

Carroll: How Seattle Seahawks are bouncing back from blowout loss
New DL Leonard Williams on trade, how his game fits with Seahawks
• Huard: Seahawks’ Geno Smith ‘totally different’ on play-action vs dropbacks
• Huard: Which college QBs could be in play for Seahawks in draft?
• Bump’s Video Breakdown: What happened to Seahawks’ offense?
• Huard: Why has Seahawks’ Riq Woolen disappointed in Year 2?

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