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Seahawks-Broncos preview: Seattle looking to reverse trend of terrible road openers

Seattle Seahawks v Denver Broncos Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

The Seattle Seahawks begin the 2018 NFL season with two straight road games, and the first one is at the Denver Broncos, who are ridiculously hard to beat in September home games.

Of the many things that went wrong for Seattle last year, winning on the road was not one of them. They finished 5-3 away from CenturyLink Field, which is ordinarily great if you’re a dominant home team, but the Seahawks were just 4-4 at home, and that’s obviously not good. Granted, one of those road losses happened to be the season opener against the Green Bay Packers, in which they were held out of the end zone and looked close to toothless on offense.

The Seahawks have been really bad in their road openers — to clarify, this would be the team’s first road game, not necessarily a Week 1 road game — in the Pete Carroll era. They have one win to their name, and that just so happened to be the year they won the Super Bowl.

Compare Pete’s record with that of Mike Holmgren, who was a very respectable 5-5 in road openers in this ten seasons as Seahawks head coach.

The main problem with the Carroll-era Seahawks in their road debuts has largely been the offense. If you removed defense and special teams touchdowns, the Seahawks offense has churned out a grand total of ten touchdowns, and none over the past two seasons.

Ouch. That 2014 game against the Chargers also comes with the asterisk that Percy Harvin’s 51-yard touchdown should have never counted because he clearly stepped out of bounds, but even ignoring that, Seattle held the ball for all of 40 offensive snaps and 17:45 in time of possession against a Chargers defense that eventually finished 25th in DVOA. It was notably hot that day, so I guess that’s the main excuse.

Going through the other games, Matt Hasselbeck threw three interceptions and the Seahawks were out of it by the 3rd quarter. In 2011, Tarvaris Jackson was sacked five times in his Seattle debut against that fearsome 49ers pass rush. The following year saw rookie Russell Wilson come up just short of a game-winning drive, but the Seahawks’ 16 points came on drives that traveled a combined 57 yards. If you look at that lone win against the Carolina Panthers, Russell Wilson crafted his first-ever regular season 300-yard passing performance, but the Seahawks run game was held to just 70 yards on 26 attempts against a stout Panthers defense. The 2015 side scored just 17 points (1 TD, 1 2PC, 3 field goals) as Wilson was sacked six times and threw just 219 net yards passing on 41 attempts. We know what happened in 2016 and 2017, and it was ugly.

Defensively, the 2010 Seahawks got blasted by the mighty Kyle Orton-led Denver Broncos, giving up 31 points along the way. The 2011 squad actually held up pretty well by allowing just 19 points, but the special teams gave up two Ted Ginn touchdowns that put the San Francisco 49ers’ final total at 33. When the Russell Wilson era began in 2012, the Arizona Cardinals scored 20 points, with Kevin Kolb coming off the bench to engineer the winning touchdown, but Arizona’s offense only finished with 253 yards and a pair of turnovers. The Chargers loss was undoubtedly a bad day at the office for the defense. In 2015 against the Rams, Nick Foles threw for nearly 300 yards and the overtime-forcing touchdown, but the Seahawks also generated three turnovers and a Cary Williams scoop-and-score off of a strip-sack. Seattle’s defense held the Rams to just 9 points in 2016, but that was all for naught. By the way, teams who’ve scored no more than 9 points have a record of 14-482-2 since 2008. As for Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers, they are now 3-10 since 2008 when scoring no more than 17 at home.

Between Seattle’s slow-starting offense and Denver’s historically dominant September home record, the odds are very much stacked against the Seahawks coming out of this opening weekend with a 1-0 record. If they are to reverse trends and get off to a winning start to 2018, it’s almost certainly going to have to be Russell Wilson and the offense leading the charge, especially given how disastrous the previous two road openers were. Even a terrible Broncos team last year still ranked 10th in defensive DVOA, and now they have Bradley Chubb to accompany Von Miller on the pass-rushing front, so Brian Schottenheimer and Mike Solari better make one hell of a first impression on September 9th.