DANNY ONEIL

With Seahawks’ defense leaking, facing Eagles, rookie Carson Wentz at home doesn’t seem as easy

Nov 18, 2016, 9:54 AM | Updated: 10:47 am
seahawks...
Eagles' QB Carson Wentz will be a challenge for the Seahawks' defense Sunday night. (AP)
(AP)

Margin of victory is usually tallied in points, and by that measure Seattle has won its past two games by a combined total of 13.

A more accurate measurement, though, would be 16 yards. That’s all that stood between the Seahawks’ last two opponents and a pair of game-changing touchdowns first against Buffalo and then in New England.

So as tempting as it may be to say that the Seahawks have survived the toughest stretch of their schedule and now return home to face a rookie quarterback whose team is only 1-4 on the road, the reality is not nearly so straightforward. There’s a little bit of doubt gnawing at the edge of this Seahawks defense.

Clayton’s keys: Seahawks must keep improving on ground vs. Eagles

That will happen when a team gives up more than 20 points in four of the last five games as Seattle has. Over the past three weeks, the Seahawks have allowed more opponent touchdowns (eight) than they have forced punts, so we probably shouldn’t just assume that Seattle is going to drop Eagles rookie quarterback Carson Wentz on his head repeatedly this Sunday.

Although, being honest, the Seahawks should very well do just that. After all, they have 29 sacks, which is the second-most of any team in the league. Nine of those belong to Cliff Avril, and in the 15 seasons since Seattle moved into its current stadium, there have only been two rookie quarterbacks to come here and win. Well, two rookies besides Russell Wilson that is, and he doesn’t count because he was playing for the Seahawks.

Andy Dalton is the last opposing quarterback to win in Seattle as a rookie. That was back 2011 when Cincinnati came to town for a game that is memorable in Seattle for exactly one reason: It is the last time Charlie Whitehurst started for the franchise.

Wentz was the No. 2 overall pick this year, and he has been pretty good for the Eagles. For a rookie. He has 2,121 passing yards, which is fewer than the Rams’ Case Keenum, but Wentz has only been picked off five times. The Eagles have been efficient, ranking 10th in the league in points scored despite being a very mediocre 17th in total offense.

But all those respectful qualifiers aside, this is an offense the Seahawks should throttle. At least they should if this defense is really as ruthless as it looked earlier this year when it held two different opponents without a touchdown over the first six games. Now, the Seahawks didn’t win either of those games, but that certainly wasn’t the defense’s fault.

Over the past month, the number of defensive plays have piled up and players have started to go down. First it was strong-side linebacker Mike Morgan, who went on Injured Reserve. Then it was strong safety Kam Chancellor, who only returned last week after missing four games. Defensive end Michael Bennett will miss at least this game against Philadelphia and maybe one more before he’s ready to return.

And for about a month now, Seattle opponents have scored at a rate we’re not used to seeing. Seattle has allowed 24 or more points in each of its past three games. The Seahawks hadn’t allowed three straight opponents to score more than 20 points since December of 2010.

Of course, the Seahawks have had to play some of the game’s best quarterbacks over the past five weeks: Atlanta’s Matt Ryan, New Orleans’ Drew Brees and New England’s Tom Brady. Then again, the Bills came to Seattle and gained 425 yards with an offense that they seemingly borrowed from the Nebraska Cornhuskers of the 1990s.

But now – having survived three road games in the span of four weeks – the Seahawks return home to play a Philadelphia team that’s starting a rookie quarterback. This isn’t a test to see if the Seahawks can handle Wentz so much as it will be a sign of trouble if they can’t.

Rookie quarterbacks facing Seahawks at CenturyLink Field (opened in 2002)
Quarterback Year Result Comp-Att (%) Yards TDs INTs Rating
Derek Carr, OAK 2014 SEA 30, OAK 24 24-41 (58.5%) 194 2 2 66.5
Mike Glennon, TB 2013 SEA 27, TB 24 (OT) 17-23 (73.9%) 168 2 0 123.1
Andy Dalton, CIN 2011 CIN 34, SEA 12 18-29 (62.1%) 168 2 2 72.2
Sam Bradford, STL 2010 SEA 16, STL 6 19-36 (52.8%) 155 0 1 52.4
Jimmy Clausen, CAR 2010 SEA 31, CAR 14 18-34 (52.9%) 169 0 1 54.7
Max Hall, ARI 2010 SEA 22, ARI 10 4-16 (25%) 36 0 1 13.5
Josh Freeman, TB 2009 TB 24, SEA 7 16-26 (61.5%) 205 2 1 95.8
Matt Stafford, DET 2009 SEA 32, DET 20 22-42 (52.4%) 203 2 5 42.2
Troy Smith, BAL 2007 SEA 27, BAL 6 16-33 (48.5%) 199 1 0 77.7
Alex Smith, SF 2005 SEA 41, SF 3 9-22 (40.9%) 77 0 1 31.8

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With Seahawks’ defense leaking, facing Eagles, rookie Carson Wentz at home doesn’t seem as easy