Sitting at 2-5 and taking on the terrible Jacksonville Jaguars at home, the Seattle Seahawks had to prove that they weren’t done for the year. The 31-7 final score would imply that they had, but it might not be that simple.
The game itself was pretty open-and-shut. Geno Smith ran it in for a one-yard touchdown in the first quarter. Smith passed to DK Metcalf for 16 yards in the second to put them up 14-0. A second Smith-Metcalf touchdown extended the lead to 24-0 heading into the fourth quarter. The Jaguars did score a consolation touchdown in the final 15 minutes, but when they went for an onside kick to regain possession afterwards, Travis Homer returned it for another score. At no point in the game did the Jaguars look like they had a reasonable chance to win.
Smith, still functioning as the quarterback as fans eagerly await Russell Wilson’s return from injury, pulled his weight. He threw the ball very efficiently, going 20/24 including completing his first 14 passes, the longest streak of any quarterback this season so far. His 195 yards were unremarkable but he threw two touchdowns, no interceptions and pulled in a passer rating of 128.3. He added a rushing touchdown on two carries as well.
However, if you peer any deeper than the score and Smith’s performance, Seattle didn’t look particularly good in the win. The running game without Chris Carson is nonexistent. Alex Collins has gotten the bulk of the work in his absence, and he rushed 10 times for a measly 44 yards. Rashaad Penny made his grand return and was not remotely as explosive as he was two years ago. Granted, most people would struggle after multiple consecutive major injuries, but he seemed to be evolving into an excellent back before the injuries came crashing down on him. It’s not necessarily a matter of talent. The new offensive coordinator Shane Waldron (who had been the passing coordinator for the Rams for three prior years) has not been able to successfully utilize the running game. His offensive line, while not great, is at least average. But it has been a trend this year for the offense to run it down the middle twice in a row for no gain and essentially forfeit a drive because of it.
The issues with the run game make Seattle a team that succeeds in the passing game. This works more often than not when they can tout Wilson, one of the best quarterbacks in the game. He’s a dual threat in the air and on the ground, meaning defenses have to consider the run regardless of how poor the running backs are performing. Smith doesn’t necessarily have that same level of threat (although he has looked good on the runs he makes), and while Wilson is out defenses can sell out for the pass and hurt what the team succeeds at. Smith still put out an acceptable performance, although the underlying statistics might hint at a point of worry. 18 of Smith’s 20 completions were to the two star receivers Tyler Lockett and Metcalf, for 185 of his 195 yards. This isn’t inherently a bad thing; not many teams can boast two wide receivers with a combined excellence that Lockett and Metcalf can. But the Seahawks have perfectly serviceable tertiary receiving targets. They acquired Gerald Everett over the offseason. Freddie Swain is fine. Seattle drafted D’Wayne Eskridge in the second round this year and haven’t used him since the opener. Smith threw a singular pass to a running back all game, despite four different ones seeing the field. The inability to spread the ball has often been a point of concern even with Wilson, and if the Seahawks can only scheme for two viable receiving targets, they will get exposed.
All things considered, the defense was fine. How much of that is because they played the Jaguars? That’s for anybody to decide. They held the first overall pick, Trevor Lawrence, to 238 yards in the air. It’s a better mark than Smith, but took place over double the passing attempts. Lawrence finished with a quarterback rating of 68.3 with an interception thanks to Quandre Diggs. The run game never got off the ground (even though they out-ran Seattle 82 yards to 69), but that was in part because James Robinson was sidelined due to an injury for most of the game. The Jaguars still came away with more total yards, more first downs and a higher time of possession than the Seahawks, which is a truly disturbing concern.
Nevertheless, the Seahawks are happy to have entered their bye week on a good note. Wilson will potentially recover from his finger injury by their match against the Packers, and he certainly won’t miss any longer than that. They have glaring concerns, but Wilson is an X-factor that can single-handedly win Seattle football games that they should not. There is still plenty of season remaining.