The Seahawks opening game of the season was awfully similar to the weather it was played in: Unpredictable, sometimes ugly, largely forgettable, but in the end not so bad, as Seattle toppled the Bengals 21-20. There’s a fair amount to talk about following the Seahawks’ victory, whether it’s Tedric Thompson’s continued struggles, defensive breakdowns, Chris Carson’s complete game or Quinton Jefferson’s performance. All are well worth expending energy on—but that’s not what this column is about.
In a new weekly column, this space will be used to go over the eye-catching plays from the week that was in Seattle. It could be a game-winning touchdown, or a simple five-yard gain. (It’s—at least an attempt to be—in the same vein as one-listen album reviews, which are always fun to read. Here’s hoping this is, too.) Let’s get into it:
[CIN 2-10 SEA 48] (12:48) (Shotgun) A.Dalton pass incomplete short left to J. Mixon (J. Clowney)
Jadeveon Clowney was just inches away from beginning his Seahawks career with a house call, one that would’ve surely sent CenturyLink Field plummeting into the ocean. Instead, the ball fell harmlessly to the turf. What isn’t harmless is Jadeveon Clowney. This play is just phenomenal awareness to let off from rushing, get in position, and make an athletic pass breakup.
[CIN 3-10 SEA 48] (12:43) (Shotgun) A. Dalton pass short left to J. Mixon to CIN 49 for -3 yards (B. Wagner)
This is just an outstanding play by Bobby Wagner, and one that led me to being consumed by the idea of watching tape of Wagner’s 2017-2018 (and ‘19?) with a Ken Norton or Pete Carroll, and have them tell me just how many false steps he has taken in that stretch. It’s not an exaggeration to say he literally never puts a foot wrong.
[SEA 1-10 SEA 20] (11:51) (Shotgun) C. Carson left tackle to SEA 21 for 1 yard (S. Hubbard; C. Dunlap)
Ethan Pocic, and the offensive line as a whole, had a tough game on Sunday. But this is a solid rep from Pocic—who helps out on the line before getting the combo block on the linebacker—and something we saw consistently in the preseason. It’s why, in addition to his added mass, he should be seen as a viable option right now, and why it was worth highlighting.
[SEA 3-9 SEA 21] (11:19) (Shotgun) R. Wilson pass short left to DK. Metcalf to SEA 27 for 6 yards (D. Kirkpatrick)
This is Metcalf’s first career target. A lot has been made about how raw he is, but that little jab step up-field made Dre Kirkpatrick hesitate on closing, and helped Metcalf secure the catch. Defenders are going to need to respect him as a downfield threat, and that he is aware of that fact so early on is promising.
[CIN 1-20 CIN 18] (10:01) (Shotgun) A. Dalton pass short middle to J. Ross III to CIN 38 for 20 yards (B. Wagner)
Clowney didn’t get home (rushing against the right tackle), but I’ve never seen a more imposing swim move than that one. He did it with bad intentions, and only a hold stopped him from barreling down on Andy Dalton.
When Roger Brown was traded from the Lions to the Rams in 1967, he said about playing without knowing the defensive signals, “I didn’t have much time to learn the plays, so I invented my own. It was called Number 12, which happened to be the jersey number of the quarterback we were playing. I just kept calling the Number 12 play all day.”
Clowney called his own play, “Number 14,” here—he just didn’t get the chance to finish it off with a sack.
[CIN 2-4 CIN 44] (8:35) J. Mixon right guard to CIN 43 for -1 yards (K. Wright; J. Clowney)
There’s going to be a lot of Clowney in this column, because Jadeveon Clowney is a Seahawk. (Little known fact for you.) The adjustment he makes to get his hands on Mixon in the hole is ridiculous. Clowney is 6-foot-5 and should not be able to turn the way he does here, in a phone booth.
[CIN 3-5 CIN 43] (7:54) (Shotgun) A. Dalton pass incomplete short left to T. Boyd
I can’t wait for a season’s worth of swim moves from Clowney, and the constant “Olé!” they will produce from opposing tackles. We got a great one here, lined up opposite left tackle Andre Smith. Perhaps his cleanest pass rush rep from a week that saw him post the fifth-highest pass rush win rate.
[SEA 1-10 CIN 43] (:40) (Shotgun) R. Wilson pass short left to C. Carson to CIN 35 for 8 yards (C. Dunlap)
Brian Schottenheimer made quite the stir in August when he told reporters he wanted to get Chris Carson 50 targets. The early returns show he was serious: Carson ran 17 routes (on 25 pass plays) and saw seven targets against Cincinnati. We can squabble about the value, or lack thereof, of running backs being targeted—and yes, the percentage of passes that went to Carson is concerning—but this is a great play design. (Hat tip to Pocic for making the key block.) However you can get a dynamic player like Carson into space, you do it. Great design, easy gain, and we all go on with our lives.
[CIN 3-5 CIN 16] (11:57) (Shotgun) A. Dalton sacked at CIN 10 for -6 yards (Q. Jefferson)
Clowney’s first official sack with Seattle may have been a little anti-climactic, but he deserves a ton of credit here. He beats Andre Smith with ease to force Dalton up, where Jefferson was waiting. (In fairness, Jefferson had a great game, even beyond this sack.)
[SEA 1-10 CIN 48] (11:12) R. Penny left end to CIN 43 for 5 yards (J. Bates III; C. Lawson)
Consider this a plea for more outside runs for Rashaad Penny. He’s so dangerous when he has the field side to run into, and has the chance to put his foot in the ground and explode up field. A handful of these carries every week and he’s bound to give the Seahawks explosive plays on a consistent basis.
[SEA 1-10 CIN 17] (8:13) C. Carson right end to CIN 6 for 11 yards (S. Hubbard, S. Williams)
This is just a kickass way to get both Carson and Penny on the field at the same time—and to get Carson into space. Receiving the ball at full speed in that position, he’ll beat any EDGE around the corner. Great design.
[SEA 1-10 SEA 23] (1:53) (Shotgun) R. Wilson pass short left to C. Carson pushed ob at SEA 30 for 7 yards (D. Kirkpatrick)
In general, pre-snap motion is good. But again, here’s Seattle getting Carson separation into space with creativity. If this is a sign of things to come—and how they’ll help Carson towards 50 targets—it’ll be a positive wrinkle for the offense. As long as they get the other playmakers more involved, too.
[SEA 1-10 SEA 45] (1:44) (Shotgun) R. Wilson pass deep left to DK. Metcalf to CIN 13 for 42 yards (J. Bates III)
One of Metcalf’s less enthralling catches from Sunday produced one of the better moments of promise. Just before the ball arrives, Jessie Bates’ body looks to be almost entirely between Metcalf and the ball. A great concentration catch from Metcalf.
[CIN 4-1 SEA 36] (2:07) (Shotgun) G. Bernard right guard to SEA 36 for no gain (A. Woods)
Pretty much every single year, Carroll and John Schneider add a veteran defensive tackle in free agency, and every year that veteran gives the team valuable snaps as a part of the rotation. Al Woods is exactly that guy this year; he was stout against the run all game, and made one of the biggest plays of the day here on fourth down. A typical signing by the Seahawks, and an invaluable one too.
[SEA 3-5 SEA 41] (:48) (Shotgun) R. Wilson pass deep middle to DK. Metcalf to CIN 34 for 25 yards (J. Bates III; B. Webb)
Everything about this Metcalf catch is great. That’s obvious. But the awareness he shows to turn up-field when Wilson is forced to escape up the pocket is so encouraging. Having that connection with Wilson during the scramble drill is key to being a reliable wide receiver in Seattle’s offense—Sidney Rice, Jermaine Kearse, Doug Baldwin, Tyler Lockett—and for Metcalf to show that in game one is a fantastic development.
[SEA 3-1 SEA 15] (3:13) (Shotgun) G. Fant reported in as eligible. C. Carson left end to SEA 36 for 21 yards (J. Bates III; N. Vigil)
Carson is really a complete runner in every sense. He has the burst through the hole, contact balance and he finishes like a man possessed. He avoided seven tackles in Week 1, with a couple coming on this terrific carry. It will forever be confounding how he lasted until round seven with his athletic profile, too.
[CIN 2-4 CIN 31] (:14) (Shotgun) A. Dalton sacked at CIN 23 for -8 yards (R. Green). FUMBLES (R. Green), RECOVERED by SEA-T. Flowers at CIN 44. T. Flowers to CIN 44 for no gain (J. Ross III)
Rasheem Green’s short area quickness was a big reason why I projected him as a Michael Bennett replacement. His strength and power hasn’t developed to make him a feasible option inside currently, but if he can be a viable LEO, that would be a great result. On the game-clinching sack-fumble, Green swipes away Bobby Hart’s hands before turning the corner, getting to Dalton and calling game.
The Seahawks will look to advance to 2-0 on Sunday, facing the Steelers in Pittsburgh’s home opener. The Steelers, who still boast a dangerous offense with a game-breaking wide receiver, will present a difficult matchup in a game sure to produce even more interesting plays to look at.