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Newsflash: Seahawks expected offensive stars off to extremely slow starts

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

Before the season, the expectation of a 1-1 start for the Seattle Seahawks was totally reasonable. A win over the Packers in Lambeau Field would’ve been a minor shock, and a loss to the San Francisco 49ers at home would’ve been a major one. Most of also figured that the Seahawks defense would be outstanding — it is — while the offense should at least be average, even in the face of an offensive line that every defense can’t wait to face.

It is not.

Though the offensive line is bad, can it carry the blame for all of this:

  • Russell Wilson is completing just 56.1% of his attempts for 356 yards, one touchdown, no interception, 5.4 Y/A, and a rating of 76.3. Wilson has been under duress for almost half of his dropbacks already, but we’ve also seen him overthrow targets, a reminder that even when Wilson is on top of his game he has a tendency to do that. When he’s at the bottom of the game, the overthrows just exacerbate the issue. Wilson often gets off to slow starts to begin the year, but 5.4 Y/A is easily his worst; even as a rookie he opened with 5.63 Y/A and a rating of 81.1. It’s not that much better, but Wilson is now going into his sixth NFL season and his 2017 weapons should easily surpass what he was working with in 2012. But even those guys can’t really claim that they are better weapons right now.
  • Jimmy Graham has been targeted 10 times, which you’d like to see be a much higher number if not for the fact that he’s averaging less than one yard per target. Graham has caught four of the passes thrown his way for just nine yards. They don’t just need to throw to him more, they need to figure out how, why, and when to throw to him to gain more than nine yards per 10 targets; he should be getting more than nine yards per target for a player of his caliber.
  • Eddie Lacy carried it five times and gained three yards in the season opener in Green Bay, a stadium in which no Seahawks player is more familiar. In Week 2, Lacy was inactive and replaced by Thomas Rawls, who missed Week 1 with a sore ankle. Rawls responded by also getting five carries, and outdoing Lacy by gaining ... four yards. That’s 10 carries and seven yards combined from Lacy and Rawls. There is now a non-zero chance that Lacy doesn’t stay on the roster into November, while Rawls seems like a much different player than the one we saw in 2015, pre-broken ankle. The expected third-most reliable back, C.J. Prosise, has four carries for 11 yards and three catches for 22 yards, but any value those numbers bring is easily negated by his drops so far. On the bright side, Chris Carson got 20 carries and seems like a player who should be featured from now on, but relying on the 249th pick can only go so far in a league where running backs are only as healthy as their last carry allows them to be. Seattle needs to be able to run the ball successfully in order to be successful overall, and nobody outside of Carson seems capable of doing that right now. That’s worrisome.
  • The Seahawks number one receiver, Doug Baldwin, has caught 10 of 13 targets for 107 yards and no touchdowns. His 10.7 Y/Catch is well below his career-low for a season of 12.0, and he’s yet to be the scoring threat that he has been over the last two years. Well, nobody has been a scoring threat on Seattle so far, to be fair. Baldwin is not the problem, but the inability to find Baldwin or Graham in a consistent, valuable way has been.
  • The 49ers defense gave up 23 points to the Carolina Panthers in Week 1, with Cam Newton throwing two touchdowns; In Week 2 vs the Buffalo Bills, Cam and the Panthers offense was held out of the end zone. The Packers defense held the Seahawks to nine points, and then on Sunday night allowed 34 points to the Falcons; Atlanta scored just 23 a week earlier against the Chicago Bears.
  • Through nearly two weeks (four teams have yet to play two games), Seattle ranks 30th in yards per play, 30th in net yards/pass attempt, 16th in yards/carry, has the seventh-most offensive penalties, and 28th in points scored. Part of that goes into execution; Prosise dropped a touchdown, Tanner McEvoy dropped a touchdown, Graham may have been interfered with on a potential touchdown, Nazair Jones would’ve had some defensive points if not for a lack of competent refereeing in the Packers game. That being said, a lack of execution is bad. The inclination to throw to McEvoy in the red zone — apparently getting rid of Jermaine Kearse didn’t get rid of the Jermaine Kearse problem — is bad. Things are bad, offensively speaking.

Next week, the Seahawks travel to Tennessee to play the Titans, a defense that has so far been decent against the run (3.9 YPC allowed) and against the pass (88.3 rating allowed) while playing a great offense (the Raiders) and a terrible one (the Jaguars). The good news about the Seattle offense is that Wilson is historically good at protecting the football, having yet to throw an interception (though he’s gotten away with a couple) and fumbling once, which led to one of only two touchdowns allowed through eight quarters. In Tennessee, their offense could be/should be good enough to keep up with the Titans, if they don’t turn the ball over. The Seahawks defense is more than capable of keeping the score low and giving the offense an opportunity to win a big game on the road.

But not even the Seattle defense should be expected to keep every team out of the end zone. How much longer can the Seahawks expect to compete with the big boys in the NFC, if their offensive line, running backs, top tight end, receivers, and star quarterback are keeping Seattle out of the end zone too?