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The Seahawks’ historical Week 1 struggles are primarily on the offense

NFL: Cincinnati Bengals at Seattle Seahawks Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

The Seattle Seahawks are known for not storming out of the gates on opening day and indeed the first few games of the regular season. In Pete Carroll’s tenure, the Seahawks are a middling 5-5 in Week 1, although all five of those losses came on the road.

One thing that has been consistently mediocre at best on opening day is Seattle’s offense. These are their expected points added (EPA) every year under Carroll:

2019 vs. Bengals: -5.43
2018 at Broncos: -1.88
2017 at Packers: -10.07
2016 vs. Dolphins: -5.68
2015 at Rams: -0.42
2014 vs. Packers: 18.24
2013 at Panthers: 2.56
2012 at Cardinals: -9.49
2011 at 49ers: -12.83
2010 vs. 49ers: 2.30

And yes, the defense was clearly better in EPA and none of their negatives was worse than -3.41. Cumulatively it’s a net positive.

In terms of actual scoring, the Seahawks averaged 21.7 points per game over these ten season openers, but the three D/ST touchdowns scored during that span would drive the actual offensive totals below 20. Seattle’s best showing was the 2014 win over Green Bay on opening night, but everything else has been very underwhelming. It’s also worth noting that the running game has generated negative EPA in all of those games except 2014 and somehow 2015. Seven of Seattle’s ten Week 1 games under Carroll have seen the team rush for under four yards per attempt (including scrambles which inflate the numbers).

Isolating the stats just to the Wilson years, the Seahawks have been held to under the league average of 5.5 yards per play five times in eight seasons, while Wilson has averaged just 5.6 net yards per pass attempt.

The running joke with the Seahawks offense is that they use Week 1 to “gather information” and perhaps this year may be extra reason to “gather information” when there are no preseason games or anything to work off of. Usually it’s led to a mediocre running game, a mostly conservative passing attack, and lots of sacks. By the end of the season, the Seahawks typically have a great running game, an aggressive and efficient passing attack, and lots of sacks.

So if Week 1 looks ugly, don’t fret because this is just the way Seattle rolls. If they actually turn in a performance akin to the 2014 stomping of Green Bay, then we can all celebrate while remaining physically distanced.