6 questions I have: Seahawks-Lions
Jamal Adams, Devon Witherspoon are practicing again, will they be able to make a difference this week? Plus other Questions! 9/13/2023
When I was a kid, I would clean my room (sparingly) and then proudly declare to my mom that I was finished and ready for a trip to Blockbuster Video, as per our arrangement. Then she would come over, take one look at the space, and say, “It’s a good start.”
That feels like the 2023 Seattle Seahawks right now.
From the Russell Wilson trade to the end of the latest training camp, the vibes of a reborn Seahawks franchise with so many upgraded pieces now in place, it felt like maybe the team was close to its just rewards. Then Sean McVay and Matthew Stafford came to Seattle on Sunday and said with a smirk, “It’s a good start.”
I have some questions about the Seahawks in between Week 1’s loss to the Rams and Week 2’s plausibly more difficult matchup in Detroit against the Lions.
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Here are six of those questions, including topics on Geno Smith, Ken Walker/Zach Charbonnet, Shane Waldron vs. Ben Johnson, the return of two key secondary players, the pass rush against a better offensive line, and when will the blue chips arrive?
Is this game a litmus test for Geno Smith?
When he faced the Lions last season, Geno went 23-of-30 for 320 yards with two touchdowns, plus he rushed for a touchdown. It was the only game of the season in which Geno wasn’t sacked and Seattle scored a season-best 48 points. If not for an even more efficient passing performance in a loss to the Saints the following week, the Lions game would have been Geno’s best statistical performance of 2022.
Geno was a top-five MVP candidate over the first five games and he stretched into “good enough” through a Week 9 win over the Cardinals, at which point the Seahawks were 6-3.
But the typical Geno performance since the middle of last season has been below the standard needed to win football games and while you can make excuses like “Oh, but the 49ers are really good” and “Oh, but the Rams always give the Seahawks trouble”, when does the quarterback run out of excuses?
It might be when the quarterback faces the Detroit Lions.
The Seahawks have scored 99 points against the Lions in their last two meetings and Seattle needs to at least start touching 30 points if they want to have any chance of being a playoff contender; in the Seahawks last 10 games, they’ve reached 30 points once and that was a 40-34 overtime loss to the Raiders.
There aren’t many acceptable reasons for a team being that offensively inept in the modern game except:
“We don’t have a quarterback”
“We don’t have an offensive line”
“We are very young”
“We have a new coaching staff”
The Seahawks had some issues with their tackles last week but have almost always had the offensive line they’ve wanted in the most recent 10 games. They aren’t that young. They don’t have a new coaching staff. They’ve had a couple of difficult matchups, but aren’t significantly better against worse opponents.
At some point, the fingers have to point back at the quarterback.
That’s why the Lions game is a litmus test. You can wipe the slate completely clean for Geno and say, “That was the past, we’re going to look ahead, show us what you’ve got”. That’s great, now comes the second part: Show us what you’ve got. If not against the Lions, when?
Will Ken Walker get going?
Walker was good against the Rams in Week 1 and if the Seahawks weren’t so far behind in the second half, he could have easily rushed for 100 yards. The main problem being that he only had three second half carries, two of which went for at least five yards.
Unfortunately, pre-draft concerns that Walker would not be a dual threat have not yet been disproven and in his last eight games he has caught 14 passes for only 68 yards. That makes it imperative for Walker to hit at least a handful of explosive runs per game in order to have above-average value, a tall ask for any running back. But Walker is capable: He had three runs over 45 yards (all over 60 yards, actually), which was three more than Nick Chubb, another one-dimensional back.
If there is any chance of Walker wiggling through the defense in the first quarter to help Seattle get a lead by running the football, that will open downfield passing opportunities and keep the ball in his hands for the second half.
The other half of the question is Zach Charbonnet: