Matt Calkins: Seahawks show encouraging signs vs. Lions, but defense loaded with concerns

Matt Calkins, The Seattle Times on

Published in Football

Last week at this time, I went all-in with the future Hall of Fame linebacker that the Seahawks’ loss to the Rams was, indeed, “just one game.”

This was Bobby Wagner’s appropriate reaction to the Rams’ Week 1 clobbering of Seattle, in which a 30-13 loss seemed to instantly erase all of the team’s preseason hype.

My initial reaction to the Seahawks’ 37-31 overtime win over Detroit on Sunday was to say that all of that hype was, in fact, justified — that the NFC West should be on alert for a blue-and-green takeover. Upon a deep breath, though, I think I’ll take a similar route as last Monday. This, too, was just one game — because the Seahawks are still dripping with concerns.

The good news for the 12s was that the talent they had come to rely on offensively delivered against the Lions. Quarterback Geno Smith connected on 32 of 41 attempts for 328 yards, two touchdowns, no interceptions and just one (terrible) sack. Such stats were largely abetted by a pair of old dependables — DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett — who combined for 134 receiving yards on 14 receptions, including a pair of touchdown catches from Lockett. And Smith’s winning drive on the first possession of overtime temporarily put to rest that his prowess last season was a fluke after spending seven years as a backup.

Unfortunately for the Seahawks, there was another aspect of Sunday’s win that conjured feelings from last season as well — at least the first half of last season: A defense that can’t stop the pass, can’t stop the run … just can’t stop anything. The Seahawks (1-1) are 31st in the NFL in total defense, having given up 422 yards per game, with the 418 allowed Sunday actually an improvement from the previous week. But between Lions quarterback Jared Goff’s 323 passing yards and the 102 Detroit rushing yards (two sacks took 7 yards from the passing total), Seattle’s deficiencies were well-balanced.

The passing game is most glaring. A week earlier, Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford diced Seattle up for 334 yards. The Seahawks sit at 30th in the league in passing yards allowed, a similar position to where they were last year through the first half of the season, essentially simulating warmup drills for opposing quarterbacks.

Perhaps this is a touch surprising on the surface, but maybe it shouldn’t be. The once vaunted Seahawks secondary, mind you, is not as reliable as it may have seemed. Yes, cornerback Tre Brown made a monster, game-changing play with his fourth-quarter pick-six, but he and his fellow members of the back end remain in doubt.


Rookie Devon Witherspoon had his welcome-to-the-league moment when he bit on a first-quarter flea-flicker that allowed the Lions to tie the score on a 22-yard touchdown pass. And four Lions receivers had catches of at least 22 yards (compared with just one for Seattle). Perhaps safety Jamal Adams will return to the field soon after finally getting some practice reps, but among Witherspoon (the fifth overall pick last spring), cornerback Riq Woolen (Pro Bowler as a rookie last season) and Pro Bowl safety Quandre Diggs, one would expect more stinginess from the secondary. The Seahawks aren’t getting it.

Of course, there is also the matter of Seattle’s relative inability to get to the quarterback. The two sacks they had on Goff on Sunday were an uptick from the previous week, when Stafford never once went down. But the Seahawks’ one sack per game still ranks 29th in the league. That’s discouraging no matter what the situation, but particularly bothersome when you consider the capital they invested into the defensive line this year (see: three-year, $51 million contract for Dre’Mont Jones.)

Having said all that, the Seahawks just got a road win against a Lions team that A) had won nine of its past 11 games and B) opened the season with a road win over the defending Super Bowl champion Chiefs. Additionally, the Rams played tight with division favorite 49ers on Sunday, falling by a touchdown but showing they aren’t likely the pushovers most thought they would be when the season began.

Would you take 1-1 if given that option at this point in the season? Would you be encouraged by a performance from Smith that was on par with just about anything he did last year? Would you take particular satisfaction knowing you still have a rookie cornerback developing and a Pro Bowl safety on his way back soon?

Probably so. Like the previous Sunday, this was just one game. What the Seahawks seemed to show, however, is that they are in every game they play.

©2023 The Seattle Times. Visit Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.


blog comments powered by Disqus