The Seahawks are 1-0 after a convincing, 38-25, road win against an immensely talented Atlanta Falcons team.
The victory featured a number promising storylines that, if maintained throughout the season, could indicate that Seattle is in store for a special season. There were also a few potentially troubling elements to the game as well. I touched on all of it in this week’s mailbag.
Thanks, as always, to those who participated and sent in questions.
There wasn’t a whole lot that surprised me on Sunday. The writing was on the wall for the Seahawks to be more pass-heavy given Russell Wilson’s vocal pleas for a philosophy shift. Marquise Blair received enough hype during camp to indicate that the Seahawks would use their nickel package more frequently than in 2019. Jamal Adams was everywhere, as expected. I also anticipated a healthy rotation at running back.
But while the game plan wasn’t out of the blue, Seattle’s execution on both sides of the football was really impressive. Outside of a few early sacks and a brief second-quarter lull, the offense was dominant throughout. The defense came up clutch in big moments, holding the Falcons to 0-4 on fourth down. I’ll touch on a few of the areas that need improvement in a second, but the Seahawks looked about as good as fans could have hoped for in the opener.
Jordyn Brooks is in a bit of a no-win situation here. He will be fairly compared to Patrick Queen throughout his career. That comes with the territory of being drafted ahead of the Ravens linebacker, especially when Queen was the more highly-touted prospect. But Queen getting off to a hot start (8 tackles, a sack and a force fumble in Week 1) shouldn’t be used as an indictment against Brooks.
Queen was penciled into the Ravens starting lineup the moment he was drafted while Brooks was always going to have a hard time taking K.J. Wright's spot out of the gate. The Seahawks worked Brooks in for seven snaps against the Falcons, and they’ll likely continue to gradually increase his workload.
Until he’s an every down starter, though, there’s no sense in sprinting for the “B” word (bust), regardless of what Queen does in the meantime.
I think it’s possible, but unlikely. I think the Seahawks are going to save as much cap space as possible to roll into 2021 in order to pay for Jamal Adams, Shaquill Griffin and others. I think it would take an injury to change that course of action.
Russell Wilson was under siege far too frequently in Week 1. He was sacked three times and hit 10 times. Takk McKinley had six QB hits all by himself. Given it was the group’s first game together and Damien Lewis’ first-career start, I’ll wait to see what happens in Week 2 before officially sounding the alarm. The protection came together much better in the second half of the Falcons game and provided reason for optimism moving forward. Between McKinley, Grady Jarrett and Dante Fowler, it’s not like Atlanta was rushing the passer with a collection of scrubs, either.
Seattle made it clear that Quinton Dunbar is their guy at right cornerback. He played 68-of-79 defensive snaps while Tre Flowers played just 10. As Dunbar continues to get into shape, I doubt we’ll even see a rotation at that spot.
Sunday wasn’t Shaquill Griffin’s best day, nor was it Dunbar’s. However, I’m going to chalk up most of their struggles to the fact that they were going up against one of the best offenses in the NFL. Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley are truly elite players capable of giving any corner fits. A ton of Atlanta’s production came in the fourth quarter with the Falcons down multiple scores. Both players also had critical PBUs in the fourth quarter. Let’s wait to see what happens in Week 2 before we hit the panic button on two corners who have proven to be quality players.
Phil Haynes was having a strong training camp until he got hurt. His health continues to be his biggest roadblock. He’s eligible to come off IR after Week 3, but there’s no guarantee he’ll be brought back to the active roster immediately. It might take an injury or two for him to find the field at this point this season, even if he does get his body right at some point.
I think Sunday was an indicator that Carson has a lower floor this season from a game-to-game basis in regard to his workload. He’ll certainly have busier days, but the rotation in Seattle’s backfield is very real. Carlos Hyde and either Travis Homer or DeeJay Dallas will continue to have a role. Carson usage is a sign of things to come. More of an indicator that a floor exists. Will certainly have busier days.
Similar to the previous response, the combination of the Falcons suspect secondary and the advantages of playing indoors lent itself to Seattle’s aerial assault in Week 1. There will be games where Carson and the running game are more heavily featured as Pete Carroll indicated on Monday. However, I do think there has been a philosophy shift that is here to stay.
When all is said and done, Seattle will have a higher pass rate in neutral situations than it did in 2019. The Seahawks were around 75% in that department against the Falcons, up 14% from last year. Also look for Seattle to remain aggressive on fourth downs. That will be another indicator that the Seahawks have fully embraced the “Let Russ Cook” movement.
Pete Carroll said both DeeJay Dallas and Alton Robinson are on the cusp of being included on the active gameday roster. My guess is that if they end up being active in Week 2, Dallas would take Luke Willson’s spot and Robinson would take Damontre Moore’s. Both rookies showed enough in camp to warrant an opportunity.