BALTIMORE – The Seahawks put their own spin on the famous quote by the legendary late coach Dennis Green here Sunday.
In a 37-3 loss to the Baltimore Ravens that was as dominant as that score indicates, they found out they are not quite what they thought they were.
“Quiet,” receiver Tyler Lockett said of the mood in the locker room after a game that the team viewed as something of a litmus test for how they stack up against the elite teams in the NFL.
“Like people not really talking, people just trying to figure out what happened. It wasn’t a good showing at all for us, and I think it’s just one of those things where it was just unexpected.”
The good news is Seattle is still 5-3, still tied with the 49ers in the NFC West (technically in second due to tiebreakers).
The bad is that it was the second blowout loss this season that made one question just how realistic it is to think this is a team capable of a long playoff run.
And with that, on to the grades.
Quarterbacks are always the obvious target for blame when a team loses, and Geno Smith did not have a good day with another two turnovers, giving him eight in the last four games – six interceptions and two fumbles. His 49.3 passer rating was the worst of his Seahawks career, far below what had been his worst – 65.7 in the overtime win against the Rams to end last regular season. But he also had little help, under duress from Baltimore’s pass rush all game and without any reliable running game to lean on.
This feels like not the game to make any rash decisions on the QB spot given how overmatched Seattle was at basically every position on the field. That doesn’t absolve Smith, who has to play better all around, but on Sunday, he didn’t feel like the biggest problem, either.
It’s impossible to judge the two backs who played – Kenneth Walker III and Zach Charbonnet – given that neither had any real room to run. But this was the kind of game that Seattle surely hoped it could rely on a 1-2 punch it spent second-round picks the last two years to assemble. Instead, the two combined for just 24 yards on 13 carries. The 28 rushing yards total was the second fewest of the Pete Carroll era and came on the heels of a spotty outing against the Browns (just 13 carries by the running backs). That’s not what they had in mind when they made that big of a commitment to the running game.
The struggles up front make it hard to judge this group too harshly. But things got off to a bad start when Jaxon Smith-Njigba dropped a third-down pass that would have gotten a first on the initial series of the game. Carroll said later that Tyler Lockett maybe could have contested more the pass that turned into an interception in the second quarter. It was somewhat heartening to see Smith-Njigba make a few plays late.
Just one catch for 6 yards on three targets for this group – by Colby Parkinson. Given the way the running game flailed and Baltimore’s pass rush dominated, it’s hard to figure they’ll grade out too well blocking.
Here’s the almost weekly caveat for this group – the starting five Seattle used Sunday was the seventh different starting offensive line the Seahawks have had to use in eight games this season. That said, a theme of the week was that all the moving parts had maybe benefited Seattle by giving a lot of players experience at different spots, making the overall group better. Sunday, though, the front just looked overmatched from the start. Smith was sacked four times but was hurried a number of others. The running game was nonexistent.
And there were some key penalties, notably a false start on right tackle Jason Peters when Seattle had a second-and-6 at the Ravens’ 49 when it was still a scoreless game in the first quarter, and a hold on a sack. Charles Cross also had a false start and Evan Brown a hold. Seattle again rotated Peters in at right tackle along with Stone Forsythe. It seemed to work last week against Cleveland. Nothing worked Sunday, and it’ll be interesting to see if the Seahawks want to stick with that.
So much for the optimism of seeing Leonard Williams play his first game with the Seahawks. Williams started in Seattle’s three-man interior line along with Jarran Reed and Dre’Mont Jones (consigning Mario Edwards to a rotational role). That didn’t matter much as no one up front seemed to play well. Seattle’s DL had no quarterback hits and only one tackle for a loss while the Ravens rushed for 298 yards, fourth most in history against the Seahawks. And Jones had a bad penalty, called for a neutral zone infraction on a fourth-and-1 in the third quarter.
There were at least a few good plays from some of the guys in this group, notably Boye Mafe’s strip sack and fumble recovery in the second quarter when it was just 7-0. Mafe tied a team record with a sack in six straight games. Bobby Wagner recovered an Odell Beckham fumble forced by Tre Brown later in the quarter. Jordyn Brooks turned in some decent pass coverage a few times. But that was about it as everyone on defense shared in the misery of Baltimore’s 515 yards, the eighth-most allowed in the Carroll era.
A secondary that in the last few weeks had begun to look like one of the best in the NFL looked like one of the worst Sunday. The hope will be it was a one-game blip. The Seahawks secondary had no pass defenses against Lamar Jackson, and there were missed tackles galore in the back end with few plays made of any real consequence. Both Quandre Diggs and Jamal Adams had missed tackles on key plays and the Ravens also seemed to pick some on Riq Woolen. Brown’s tackle and forced fumble by Beckham was about the only highlight.
The kicking was fine – Jason Myers made a 33-yard field goal and Michael Dickson downed three of seven punts inside the 20, one at the 4 in the early going when the game was still scoreless. But the Seahawks allowed a 24-yard punt return that helped set up a Ravens field goal. And while the game was long gone by the fourth quarter, Dee Eskridge managing just 9 yards on a fourth-quarter kickoff return seemed to symbolize the day.
The Seahawks came out with a plan to establish the run, which made sense. But they couldn’t do it. It felt like more of a talent issue than a scheme one on the surface, but maybe the Seahawks also have to figure out some things with what they are doing running the ball since it feels like it hasn’t made the same kind of consistent impact as it did last season. Nothing worked with the defensive plan. And whatever adjustments Seattle tried to make at the half also didn’t work as the Seahawks were outscored 20-0 in the second half.