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Winners and losers from the Seahawks’ frustrating loss to the Packers

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NFL: Seattle Seahawks at Green Bay Packers Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

I was fairly (and unusually) optimistic that the Seattle Seahawks would beat the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field. My optimism dropped drastically when Seattle kicked a 21-yard field goal down 7-3. It died after Jimmy Graham’s 3rd down drop at 14-6. The final score ended up being 17-9 in Green Bay’s favor, and there’s a decent argument you can make that this offensive performance was actually worse than the 38-10 embarrassment last year.

We may just have to resign ourselves to the offense being painfully slow starters for as long as the current offensive system is in place. Six years of evidence is enough for me, but I don’t know about anyone else. Let’s take a look at the winners and losers from Seattle’s week 1 defeat.

Winners

Defensive line

How awesome was that? Green Bay’s running backs only mustered 63 yards rushing on 21 carries, Aaron Rodgers was pressured and hit numerous times, including four first-half sacks, and they were never even in field goal position until the huge lost fumble in the 3rd quarter. Sheldon Richardson was as good as fans had hoped he would be. Cliff Avril, Michael Bennett, and Frank Clark all picked up at least a .5 sack. Jarran Reed made his presence felt in run support. I even saw David Bass (or was it Marcus Smith? The jersey number ended in 7.) chase Rodgers down on one play. Just imagine how this d-line will play against much worse opposition like, say, the 49ers.

Earl Thomas

ETIII is back, everybody. There were a couple of short throws respectively targeted at Randall Cobb and Jordy Nelson, and Thomas flew in to prevent either one of them from breaking off a big gain. That’s the best free safety around, folks. It’s a joy to watch him do what he does. Thomas finished with a team-high 11 tackles, nearly intercepted Rodgers on a deep ball intended for (I believe) Davante Adams, and actually picked him off in the 4th quarter but of course it was called back due to offsides on Michael Bennett and holding on Shaquill Griffin. And speaking of Quill...

Shaquill Griffin

Jeremy Lane’s early dismissal meant the rookie had to command much greater responsibility than I imagine the team had originally planned. Griffin finished with 10 tackles, had a pass defensed, and held his own against an elite receiver in Jordy Nelson. I believe the biggest catch he allowed was 13 yards, and that’s with Aaron Rodgers targeting him frequently. I’m already not high on Lane after last season, so Griffin’s impressive debut was really encouraging. He might become the team’s starting RCB sooner than you think, which combined with Richard Sherman’s terrific start to the season, really makes this secondary as strong as its been since 2014.

Chris Carson

Thomas Rawls didn’t play, Eddie Lacy barely played, likewise for C.J. Prosise, so Chris Carson had the highest snap count of any Seahawks RB, with 26. His 30-yard scamper, which showcased his vision and ability to make quick cuts, was the highlight of the best drive of Seattle’s day. He also had Seattle’s first 1st down of the game, catching a 10 yard pass on a play-action rollout. I echo Kenneth’s thoughts: Play him more, Pete.

Special Teams

Tyler Lockett returned the opening kickoff to his own 40, which was great to see. Jon Ryan pinned Green Bay inside their own 20 on four of his six punts, and the other two punts yielded 0 return yards. Neiko Thorpe was responsible for one of those returns going nowhere, as he continues to show his value as a ST gunner. Lastly, Blair Walsh accounted for all of Seattle’s scoring, going 3-for-3 on his field goals.

Losers

Tom Cable’s Offensive Line

Run blocking bad. Pass blocking worse. Rees Odhiambo poor. Luke Joeckel inept. Mark Glowinski awful. At least Germain Ifedi didn’t false start, though! I don’t need to type more words when this pic sums up everything.

Russell Wilson

Before I wrote this, I was going to point out that overthrow to Tyler Lockett in the 2nd quarter as a pivotal miss, but apparently he was held on the play. I’ve not re-watched this game, so I’ll have to check at some point, because I don’t remember that happening. Part of me wonders if some of Wilson’s struggles against the Packers are mental, because there is precisely one game out of six in which he’s played well. It’s also possible that like Tom Brady playing in Denver or against the Ravens defenses of old, Green Bay is a bad matchup for him. Not all of the offensive woes are because of the line. After the Nazair Jones interception, Seattle had 3rd and 2 on Green Bay’s side of the field, and Wilson forced a pass to Tanner McEvoy while Eddie Lacy was incredibly open in the flat for a first down. Wilson never looked Lacy’s way.

Another annoyance of mine with Wilson is his propensity to throw these (already dreadful) bubble screen passes backwards. One of these days it’s going to result in disaster and a turnover, because on the second play from scrimmage, he tossed one out to Doug Baldwin, and this counted as a rush of -3 yards. This has been happening for years and it terrifies me to no end, because if the ball isn’t caught, all hell can break loose.

Yes, Wilson was harassed and under duress almost all game, but there were also misfires on his part that shouldn’t be overlooked. I don’t know what it is about Green Bay, but they give him fits virtually every time. And spoiler alert, Green Bay is on Seattle’s schedule next year, but at CenturyLink Field.

Jimmy Graham

Hey, the Seahawks got the ball to Jimmy Graham! Seven targets was tied with Paul Richardson for a team-high. I could do with something better then three catches for eight yards, though. Graham also dropped a critical pass on 3rd down in the 4th quarter when the game was 14-6. He was unfortunate not to get a pass interference in his favor in the 3rd, but apparently Wilson’s pass (which I honestly think was a throwaway) was deemed uncatchable, so no DPI was given. Consider him a non-factor against Green Bay once again.

Eddie Lacy

The offensive line didn’t do him many favors, but Lacy looked slow and plodding. I think the only good run he managed involved the world’s slowest spin move, which propelled him forward for six yards. His final stat-line in his return to Green Bay was five carries for three yards. With the way this offensive line is performing, I just cannot see Lacy’s style of running being any more effective in future games than it was on Sunday. Hopefully things change against worse opposition. The best hope is that if/when the Seahawks are in a situation where they’re up 31-10 and Lacy can help run out the clock.

Nazair Jones

This isn’t for anything bad he did. He had an otherwise perfectly valid interception return for a touchdown taken away from him due to shoddy officiating. I love Nazair Jones and the only positive out of that mess was that the interception still stands on his record. Kudos to AussieAI for almost calling this perfectly on Thursday.

Offensive gameplanning

Intermediate passing was non-existent and quick passes were scarcely found. Read-option was barely used (if at all). There was a failure to really integrate the running backs into the passing game, but I suppose it is just week 1.

Above all else, I was really excited to see the Seahawks go uptempo in preseason without it being a two-minute drill. This gave me hope we’d see more of that in the regular season, and we may just see that as a product of what happened on Sunday, because the offensive gameplan was dead on arrival. Once they were forced to work uptempo, the offense magically became more productive. They don’t have to be this way all game, but I’m of the opinion that Pete Carroll’s preferred slow-paced, ball-control offense is verging on obsolete, and Russell Wilson himself wants to work in a faster system. I’m not enough of an Xs and Os expert to conclude that this is going to drastically improve the Seahawks offense, but I do want to see the issues with tempo fixed, because when it’s obvious that Wilson isn’t in rhythm, the offense completely falls apart.

Up next, the San Francisco 49ers at CenturyLink Field. San Francisco scored 3 points against the Carolina Panthers, and they will be without Reuben Foster due to a high-ankle sprain. There’s no need to panic over losing to Green Bay, as irritating as it may be, but if this rebuilding 49ers side gets its first win in Seattle since 2011, then that’s enough reason to be concerned.