Moore: With 2-0 start, this Seahawks season feels different
I might have underestimated the Seahawks this season, thinking they could win the NFC West after adding Jadeveon Clowney two weeks ago. After watching them beat the Steelers 28-26, haven’t they gone from playoff contenders to Super Bowl contenders?
I suppose you can say that all of the playoff contenders have a decent shot at making it to the Super Bowl, but as we’ve seen, it’s a lot easier to get there with a bye and two playoff games at home. That’s the route the Seahawks took in their three Super Bowl appearances.
This year they certainly look comparable to those Seattle Super Bowl teams from the past – so far anyway, especially when you consider that 2013 was the last time the Seahawks started out 2-0, and they won the Super Bowl that season. I guess you can water down the expectations by saying that they didn’t play very well in a 21-20 win over a Bengals team that was throttled by the 49ers on Sunday. And you could argue that the Steelers played the second half with a backup quarterback seeing his first meaningful playing time.
I’d give you the Bengals argument, but Mason Rudolph looked better than Ben Roethlisberger, and it was a gritty road win that came as a result of the Seahawks improvising on the fly. In the first 23 minutes, Russell Wilson was sacked four times Changing to a quick passing game, he wasn’t sacked the rest of the way, completing 29 of 35 passes for 300 yards and three touchdowns.
After his fourth sack, if you’d told me he was going to complete 83 percent of his passes, I would have thought you were nuts. So give some credit to offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer for changing the game plan. I hope that the Seahawks use this same plan the rest of the season because, let’s face it, as good as the offensive line is at run blocking, they’re below average when it comes to protecting their quarterback.
Wilson’s on a pace to be sacked 64 times this year after going down 51 times last year. It still baffles me that the Seahawks’ O-line can’t do a better job than that.
But this flaw and others – like a so-so secondary and Chris Carson’s fumbling – don’t seem to matter as much as they might on another team. I also thought that Seattle’s receivers would be a weakness, but that doesn’t appear to be the case with the emergence of rookie D.K. Metcalf and return of Tyler Lockett, who had 10 receptions against the Steelers after having only one against the Bengals.
Even if Jaron Brown continues his disappearing act, David Moore looks like he’ll be coming back soon from a broken arm, and maybe John Ursua will give the receiving corps a lift too. And even if that doesn’t happen, Wilson has other solid targets in tight end Will Dissly, who had two touchdowns Sunday, and Carson out of the backfield. The No. 4 receiver, Malik Turner, also offered more than a glimpse of his potential with three catches for 54 yards in Pittsburgh.
The defense looks better than I thought it would. Well, last week I wouldn’t have said that after Andy Dalton threw for more than 400 yards. But the defense played well Sunday, and it’s bound to improve when Ziggy Ansah plays his first game against the Saints on Sunday. And think about the D-line after Jarran Reed returns from his six-game suspension and first-round draft choice. L.J. Collier gets into the swing of things after seeing his first action on a limited basis this week.
It also appeared to be an upgrade at safety with Lano Hill replacing the injured Tedric Thompson, and one would guess that Hill will stay on the field even after Thompson recovers from his pulled hamstring.
But I don’t care who the other 21 players on both sides of the ball are, as long as you have Wilson at quarterback, you’re going to be in the playoff hunt. That’s what a franchise quarterback of his caliber gives you. And you might as well make an addendum to that — that’s what a future Hall of Fame quarterback gives you.
It’s hard to picture him improving, and yet he has. At the age of 30, he is in the sweet spot of his career at his position. Out of all the stats Sunday, the ones that amazed me the most were Wilson’s. It was fun to see him run again in the fourth quarter, putting the Seahawks in position to go for it on 4th-and-1 and convert with Carson pushing the pile for a 2-yard gain, closing it out.
There’s now a chance that the Seahawks and Rams could both be 4-0 when they meet Oct. 3 in a Thursday Night Football game that could go a long way in determining the division winner. The Seahawks face the Saints without Drew Brees on Sunday before traveling to Glendale to face a Cardinals team that might win five games this year and is 0-1-1 right now. The Rams face the Browns Sunday and the Buccaneers next week.
Throw in the fact that the Seahawks have one of the best punters in the league in Michael Dickson and could have one of the best kickers in Jason Myers.
The only thing holding the Seahawks back — and the Rams for that matter — is a schedule that features two games against each other and two against the 49ers, who are also 2-0. They could knock each other off all year long, and by season’s end, an 11-5 or 10-6 record might be good enough to win the NFC West but not a first-round bye. Yet if the Seahawks find themselves in that position, I would still think they’d be at least as good or better than a 13-3 team in another division.
In so many of Carroll’s seasons here, it seems like we watch the Seahawks rally from slow starts, scraping and clawing their way into the postseason picture. This year is different. And if it ends up like 2013, it will be strikingly similar in the best possible way.