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This is not how I wanted to reconnect with y’all. After a long, seemingly fortuitous offseason, I expected to bring this column back to you draped in garlands and riding on an elephant-borne throne. The vibes for the last six, seven months have been immaculate and today should have been the first step towards a coronation of sorts. At the very least, a move towards Mecca. A reloaded Seahawks team coming off a heralded draft, ready to take the next step against a battered Rams roster in throes of a directionless rebuild.
Instead, the Seahawks peacocked their way through a fun first half, only to wilt like a plucked rose on a summer side road over the final two quarters. Then that rose got driven over by a garbage truck and pissed on by a blacked-out frat boy.
For almost the entirety of the Pete Carrol era, the Seahawks have been a defense-forward team, famously leading the NFL in fewest points allowed for four straight seasons during their peak. But now, this is a team loaded with offensive talent, perhaps moreso than any iteration in franchise history. At least in theory. So it was fitting that they started this game with the football, and started with a score.
They came out throwing, with full-throated confidence in Geno Smith, who completed his first two throws to Tyler Lockett and offset them with effective runs by Ken Walker. On their first third down, needing only one yard, they put onus on their resurgent QB who found Lockett for a first down. On their next 3rd & short, he hit DK Metcalf for 28. On their third third down, a pass interference call kept things moving and by the time they finally hit the wall, they were in chip-shot range for Jason Myers. 3-0 Seahawks, and the vibrations were, for the moment, effervescent.
Then the Rams took the field, and they mimicked the Seahawks first drive to perfection, converting three straight third downs; then they took it up a notch. Despite a redzone penalty creating a 1st & forever, Matthew Stafford and the Sean McVay Rams sliced their way to an excruciating 16-play scoring drive, punctuated by a Kyren Williams touchdown plunge. 7-3 Rams and the first quarter was over with only two offensive drives. Absolutely maddening, and a PTSD flashback possession for a Seahawks defense that struggled to get off the field last season.
No matter, Geno’s got this, right? He spent the next drive dotting up his receivers, keeping the chains moving with his arm=, setting up Walker to do the same with his legs. The former Doak Walker Award winner and runner up for Offensive Rookie of the Year ran decisively behind his blockers, bouncing outside only when the opportunity presented itself— a refreshing contrast to last year.
Walker had two carries for 18 yards and two catches for 10 more on Seattle’s second drive, while Smith went 7/8 for 50 yards. All of that set up a scintillating double-move from Metcalf isolated on the left side, allowing him to comfortably corral Geno’s lob for the Seahawks’ first touchdown of the season. Along the way, uber-rookie Jaxson Smith-Njigba logged his first two catches of his career for 12 yards and a first down.
The Metcalf tuddy made it 10-7 Seattle, a score that held up after Seattle forced a Rams punt, and the home team proceeded to add three more after another effective drive. At that point it was 13-7 Seattle and by the time Jarran Reed blocked Brett Maher’s million-yard field goal attempt on the next possession, it felt like it was wheels-up for the ‘Hawks.
Seattle followed that stop with another extended possession but Jason Myers, who was the Seahawks’ most underrated asset last year, doinked a 39-yard chippie to send the team to the locker room at 13-7 instead of 16-7. The miss felt innocuous at the time, but the Rams converted three consecutive third downs on the first possession of the second half, including Tutu Atwell absolutely losing Tre Brown for 44 yards on a 3rd & 8. Williams compounded that letdown with his second touchdown run and just like that, the Rams had a 14-13 lead. Just missed opportunity after missed opportunity, and nothing from the defense— not pressure, not coverage, not nothing— gave Seahawks fans anything to feel good about on that side of the ball.
This is the point in the story where I usually say BUT... except this time the but had an extra t at the end of it. The only notable moments from Seattle were the parade of penalties adorning the relentless third-down conversions from the Rams.
A blow-by-blow of the final two quarters is sadism beyond even my limits. What I can tell you is that the Seahawks were literally out-gained by a 90:1 ratio in the second half, gaining a total of three yards and netting just a solitary first down while the Rams essentially ran a walk-through on the Seahawks in their home stadium. They outscored their hosts 17-0, doing whatever they damn well pleased en route to one of the most embarrassing losses since Carroll took over.
By the time the clock ran out in a rapidly emptying Lumen Field, the Rams had won 30-13, mushroom-stamping their NFC West rivals and forcing a tortuous week of self-doubt and over-reaction upon Seahawks fans. To say more would be unnecessarily belaboring a point we’d all just as soon forget.
The Seattle Seahawks fucking sucked today. I don’t think they’ll suck overall. If nothing else, the leadership of this franchise has earned the right to turn this around before we turn on them. It’s one (admittedly putrid) game out of 17. 6% of the season. Flush it, and prove to us that our hope was not misplaced.
~Geno Smith was great in the first half and, like the rest of the team, laughable in the second.He finished 16 of 26 for 112 yards, a TD, and no interceptions, throwing a grand total of eight second half passes, most of which were under extreme duress. He was vbisbibly frustrated and rightfully so, burdened as he was by injuries to both starting tackles and arguably his best receiver. I’m not here to defend how Smith played today, but I’m also not entirely sure how much higher the expectation of his performance should be given his circumstances. I expect much better nest week.
~For all the talk about Zach Charbonnet, who I think will be very good, this is still Ken Walker’s backfield. Before the game script stripped him of his role, Walker was essential to Seattle’s first-half production, logging 64 yards on 12 carries while hauling in four receptions. Charbonnet and Deejay Dallas served change-of-pace roles, combining for five carries and 15 yards, but their contributions were strictly complimentary.
Walker eschewed the fancy-dancy runs that hindered him as a rookie, striding decisively behind his blocks and taking every yard available. He also sprung a couple of fun runs as a reminder of his game-breaking ability and was well on his way to 100+ scrimmage yards before the planet collapsed beneath his feet. In a non-diarrhetic game from his teammates, Walker’s performance would’ve been quite noteworthy
~I’ve spent the months between the draft and now swimming upstream on the DK Metcalf projections. With the rest of the world talking about how Jaxson Smith-Njigba was going to siphon his workload, I’ve been championing the way JSN is going to open things up for Metcalf. And, if I can toot my own horn (too motherfuckin’ toot), that’s exactly what happened— in the first half, at least. DK snagged three of his first four targets for 47 yards and Seattle’s only touchdown— a play on which his double-move showcased a Doug Baldwin route in Calvin Johnson’s body.
After that it was just bad penalties and frustration, but we got a glimpse of how dominant he can be when Seattle’s newfound personnel forces single coverage on him.
Tyler Lockett lit the candle in the first quarter as the target of Smith’s first three throws but a possible concussion truncated his afternoon after just two catches for 10 yards.
Man, the stage was set for Jaxson Smith-Njigba and we got a peek at what he’s capable of when he shook coverage on a crosser for an 11-yard gain in the second quarter. Unfortunately, his other two grabs went for one yard apiece leaving him with a forgettable 3-13-0 line in his pro debut.
The tight ends that were such weapons for this team last year amounted to naught more than an afterthought this afternoon. Noah Fant (0-0-0), Will Dissly (2-17-0), and Colby Parkinson (1-8-0) accumulated a grand total of 25 yards on four targets. Not much else to say here.
~The offensive line portended to be a standout unit this year, leveraging the impressive rookie seasons of Charles Cross and Abe Lucas with the addition of Evan Brown to Damien Lewis and Phil Haynes on the interior. Instead, both Cross and Lucas went down midway through the game and Seattle’s backups were no match for actual NFL pass rushers. A refreshingly effective first-half offense cratered in the wake of those injuries. I don’t know how serious their maladies are but the expectations for this team go out the rolled-down window on the interstate if they can’t play.
~What’s there to say about this defense? Gifted the absence of one of the best receivers on the planet in Cooper Kupp, the team still allowed 334 passing yards and three rushing touchdowns without recording a single sack. they looked positively toothless against one of the most woebegone offensive rosters they’ll face all year. The Rams were 11-17 on third downs, converting 8 of 10 while the outcome was still in doubt. It was embarrassing on every level and amplifies every question we’ve had about this unit heading into the season. Prayers up for those boys against the Lions next week if major improvements don’t somehow take place over the next six days.
It is so tempting to extrapolate the results of the first game over the entirety of the season, but the NFL doesn’t work like that. I’d feel the same way if the Seahawks had won 30-13 instead of losing by that score, though I’d be less likely to admit it. The 49ers lost to the worst team in football in Week 1 last year and made the NFC Championship. The Bengals were one play away from winning the Super Bowl two years ago and one play away from getting back there last season. They got their chode stomped by the Browns today. This was not a referendum on the the Seahawks 2023 season.
It was, however, a knife-to-the-throat reminder of how tough wins are in the NFL and how you can’t bank a single victory in the offseason. Losses like this one can go two ways: they can sink a season, or they can wake you the fuck up. Here’s to it being the latter. I’ll see you next week.
I kicked off the season with a Le Bijou from My father, courtesy of Seattle Cigar Concierge. It’s one of my favorite cigars and I’m pissed it was wasted on such a shitty game. That said, it’s smooth draw and nearly inimitable flavor profile did help soothe the rising rage and helpless resignation I felt throughout the second half of that game. Smoked old fashioned courtesy of the Pivat Cigar Lounge in Palm Springs further calmed your boy’s irritation.
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