Passing grade: Seahawks new offense looks great in opener
RENTON, Wash. (AP) — Of all the uncertainty that followed the Seattle Seahawks this offseason, the biggest unknown was left unanswered until Week 1.
What would that new offense brought by Shane Waldron look like with Russell Wilson in command?
For one week, and against a pretty good opponent, that new offense looked dangerous with Wilson posting one of the most efficient games of his career, throwing four touchdowns in the 28-16 win over Indianapolis.
“I just think we were really sharp first time out,” Seattle coach Pete Carroll said. “A lot of guys contributed and there’s a lot more there. It was a really efficient, good first ballgame.”
Wilson was great, completing 18 of 23 passes with a mix of big plays and smart, short throws that highlighted the versatility of Waldron’s new system.
But not to be ignored was a defense that seemed to pick up where it left off at the end of last season. Seattle kept Jonathan Taylor from popping in the running game, holding him to 56 yards on 17 carries and when Carson Wentz dropped back to throw, the Seahawks were able to create pressure without risky blitzes.
The Seahawks had three sacks and 10 quarterback hits, all of them coming from defensive linemen or edge rushers.
One of the constant images throughout Wilson’s career has been the quarterback spinning and scrambling away from pressure and making some type of desperation throw that somehow lands in the hands of his intended target.
That didn’t happen in the opener.
Wilson seemed completely under control and in a change appeared to have easy throws built into the system, whether it was hitting receivers on crossing routes or checking down to running backs out of the backfield. It allowed him to get the ball away quickly and Seattle’s offensive line did an adequate job of giving Wilson the time to let routes develop.
“There’s so much that we can do. We have a lot more that we can do, to be really precise on everything we wanted to do,” Wilson said. “The guys were hitting all their details. Just the small details of what we wanted to do. Guys really taking the coaching points and kind of feeling what I’m seeing, and this is why we have to do it this way right here because it’s going to, boom, there it is.”
WHAT NEEDS HELP
There wasn’t much to nitpick from the opener, but Indianapolis did have a nearly 11-minute advantage in time of possession. Seattle also punted on four of six second-half possessions and fumbled on another.
As a collective, the defensive line was one of the areas with most depth for the Seahawks going into the season and it showed up against the Colts. Seattle received contributions from nearly everyone on its line, from tackle Bryan Mone (five tackles), to defensive end Rasheem Green (one sack, two pass breakups) to pass rushers Benson Mayowa (one sack) and Darrell Taylor (one sack, two QB hits).
Seven different linemen saw snaps in the opener, with Green leading the way with 53 defensive plays.
At some point, running back Rashaad Penny has to show an ability to stay healthy. Penny’s status as the backup to Chris Carson was in question heading into the season after a strong preseason by Alex Collins. Penny remained the No. 2 option, but that’s again an unknown after Penny left Sunday’s game with a calf injury in the first half.
It’s a contract year for Penny and beginning with another injury is not a good start.
Along with Penny’s calf injury, the Seahawks saw wide receivers Penny Hart and Dee Eskridge leave with concussions and offensive lineman Ethan Pocic suffer a sprained knee. Seattle’s injury report was spotless last week. That won’t be the case this week.
19-0 — Wilson posted a 152.3 passer rating in the opener, the second highest of his career. The Seahawks are 19-0 in regular-season games in Wilson’s career when he posted a passer rating of 133 or higher.
The conversation about Seattle’s cornerbacks will get ramped up this week as a bigger test in the passing game will arrive with a visit from Tennessee. Seattle allowed just 10 of 25 completions by Wentz to wide receivers. With A.J. Brown and Julio Jones coming to town, that likely will not be the case against the Titans.
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