The Seahawks came to earth after last Monday’s thrilling win over the Denver Broncos when they were beaten 27-7 by the San Francisco 49ers in the Week 2 NFC West duel.
Fast facts on the Seahawks loss to Niners | Instant Response
We’re only two games on this new-look Seahawks team. It is unclear where they are going and how they will end. There’s a lot we don’t yet know about the 2022 Seahawks. But there are a few things we do know. Let’s dive into what we do and don’t know about the Seahawks after Week 2.
what we know
• Nwosu looks like a rare free agent hit
As we’ve discussed on our station and on this site for many years, the Seahawks at large prefer quantity over quality.
We’ve seen many years where top-notch offensive linemen are available on the market, for example, but Seattle instead signs several veterans on cheaper deals and lets them practically fight for the game time. This has also happened in other positions.
The Seahawks haven’t broken the bank on a single player other than DK Metcalf this offseason, but they did spend a pretty penny on the services of outside linebacker Uchenna Nwosu, giving him roughly $20 million for two years after he recorded 15 overall had sacks in four years with the Los Angeles Chargers.
So far, it looks like money well spent and a fairly rare free-agent win for the Seahawks.
Nwosu had as good a Seahawks debut as he could have had last week, recording seven tackles, a sack, a pass deflection and two QB hits in a win over Wilson and his Broncos and the NFC Defensive Player of the Week honors got a result.
While the Seahawks failed to secure a win in Week 2, Nwosu’s game was another bright spot on defense as the pro recorded four tackles, three QB hits and a pass deflection in his fifth year.
As far as team defense numbers go, Seattle has put together back-to-back bad games overall (more on that later), but Nwosu appears to be a key component of defense, particularly the pass rush against sophomore Darrell Taylor, who had 6.5 sacks last season.
• Lockett can still be a security blanket
There wasn’t much to report on Seattle’s offense against the 49ers, but if anyone deserves some love, it’s veteran receiver Tyler Lockett.
The majority of the Seahawks’ passing offense in Week 1 came in the first half, with the tight ends and Metcalf being the primary beneficiaries. Lockett only caught three passes for 28 yards and was a bit of an afterthought. But Lockett put together a pretty vintage game on Sunday, catching 9 of 11 goals for 107 yards as he was the only Seattle player to help move the chains with any degree of regularity.
When Wilson was traded and it was clear that Geno Smith would be the starting quarterback, some thought Metcalf would be Smith’s target when he excelled with Smith under center last year and scored five touchdowns when Wilson was injured. Lockett, meanwhile, had a big game with Smith at quarterback but didn’t get quite the same attention as Metcalf.
Lockett’s chemistry with Wilson was undeniable as he was a regular threat, both as a deep target and on scramble/broken plays where Wilson thrived. Smith is a very different quarterback, both in terms of deep ball and ability to extend plays.
Week 1 didn’t offer much Smith-Lockett chemistry, but Week 2 was a good performance for this duo, who stood out even more for an overall lack of movement and rhythm on offense.
If the Seahawks are to compete this season, Lockett needs to be a big part of offense like he was in Santa Clara.
What we don’t know
• Can they clear the running game?
This one goes wide on both sides of the ball, but with an emphasis on defence.
Seattle started on offense and was fine in Week 1 as Rashaad Penny ran for 60 yards on 12 carries and Smith also added 14 yards. But the Hawks relied on passing in the first half and struggled to maintain drives in the second half.
In Week 2, it seemed like there would be more emphasis on the ground game as coach Pete Carroll said he wished Penny had gotten more touches against Denver. Also, the Seahawks got highly touted second-round running back Ken Walker III into the mix after he returned from an injury.
But Seattle Backs combined for just 11 carries for 29 yards. They also threw a head-scratching interception.
T̶h̶e̶ ̶B̶a̶y̶ Select city
— San Francisco 49ers (@49ers) September 18, 2022
Yes, part of that was the game script, which saw Seattle fall behind early, but when those backs — and blockers — got a chance to show something in the running game, it was less than impressive.
Now for the defense.
The Seahawks won in Week 1 thanks largely to some timely turnovers at the goal line and a questionable decision by Denver to attempt a 64-yard field goal late in the game.
While the defense forced two turnovers against the run, this group also gave up over 100 yards on the ground on just 19 carries from Broncos running backs, or 5.8 yards per carry. It seemed like every time a Broncos back got a touch — aside from the goal line — big wins were made.
But Denver instead opted to pass over 40 times instead of relying on the run game. This is also how the Seahawks might justify their Week 1 D run as they were more focused on stopping the pass.
However, that was Week 1 against Denver, and the 49ers under head coach Kyle Shanahan want to run the ball. A lot of.
Their starting quarterback Trey Lance (who was injured early on) is a huge threat in the running game. San Francisco seemingly chooses running backs from trees that can thrive in the team’s system. Heck, the 49ers’ top offensive weapon is a wide receiver who had 365 yards and eight touchdowns in the running game last year (Deebo Samuel).
So was the Hawks’ Week 1 run game performance based solely on their opponent? It turns out no.
The 49ers ran 45 times for 189 yards and two points, including a 52-yard burst by Samuel early in the game.
While the Seahawks’ pass defense has struggled in recent years, run defense has typically been solid, particularly in terms of yards per carry. It’s unclear if this team is simply weak against the run or if they’re struggling to adapt due to a new 3-4 system.
Either way, the Seahawks can’t afford to be absent from the running game, especially as they currently field two rookies in the secondary and have a strong-security backup for the remainder of the season due to Jamal Adams’ injury.
• Is Bryant a viable nickel option?
Post-draft, there was a fair amount of hype surrounding fourth-round cornerback Coby Bryant when he was named the 2021 Jim Thorpe Award winner for the top defenseman in the country.
He initially started at outside cornerback during training camp and the Hawks’ first preseason game, but was moved to the nickel spot late in camp and has now seen regular-season action there for two straight weeks.
Last week was particularly tough as the rookie only played two snaps and conceded a long touchdown. But in Week 1, the Seahawks had Justin Coleman to turn to, with the veteran defenseman recording 77% of Seattle’s defensive snaps against the Broncos.
The Seahawks didn’t have that luxury in Week 2, however, as Coleman was out with a calf injury. That meant Bryant saw plenty of action against the 49ers.
The rookie still had a few rookie moments at this point, which again he’s only been playing for about a month. Bryant almost got away with an interception, but he was flagged for multiple penalties and missed a couple of tackles.
After two weeks, it’s worth asking if Bryant is actually an NFL nickel corner, or if he’d be better off on the fringes than he played in college. And if he stays with Nickel, it’ll be interesting to see how many snaps — if any — he gets of Coleman once the veteran is healthy.
• Is there more to this offense?
Smith has completed over 80% of his passing attempts this season, but he’s threw for fewer than 400 yards in the first two weeks of the season.
The Seahawks’ offense seethed for the first half of week one, with Smith leading the charge, but it’s tussled mightily since then. Seattle’s offense did not score in Week 2 as the only Hawks score came on a blocked field goal.
It looks like Smith has been tasked with running a fast, high-percentage passing game. But is that enough for the Seahawks to be competitive, especially if the run game disappears like in Week 2?
Seattle has been known for deep and explosive passing in recent years, but so far that’s been hard for Smith to find outside of his two touchdowns to tight ends over the past week.
Smith can run whatever offense is placed at his disposal, but perhaps the Seahawks need to open things up more, even at the expense of Smith’s absurdly high completion rate, which doesn’t mean much given the lack of yards and big passing plays.
The good news for Smith and the Seahawks is that they are returning home and facing an Atlanta Falcons team that is considered one of the NFL’s worst this year and is fielding a defense that has struggled in its first two games stop pass.
Shaun Alexander is inducted into the Seahawks’ ring of honor for the 15th time