By John Boyle Herald Columnist
RENTON — It’s a strange question to be asking of a 2-0 team, one that has earned one victory three time zones away, and another in convincing fashion over the defending NFC champs, but people are asking anyway.
What’s going on with the Seahawks offense?
Sure, the Seahawks are 2-0, and they did just finish beating up their bitter rivals, but this hardly looks like the explosive offense we saw running over teams late last year, averaging 32.4 points per game in the second half of the season and the playoffs.
Against Carolina, the running game did next to nothing, but Russell Wilson was good enough, along with a strong performance by the defense, to get the job done. Then against the 49ers, the running game got on track, but Wilson was uncharacteristically inaccurate at times, and again the victory had a lot more to do with the play of the defense.
“I was just a little bit off,” Wilson conceded of his performance against San Francisco that saw him complete 42.1 percent of his passes while throwing for 142 yards.
In their two victories, the Seahawks are averaging 330 yards per game, which ranks 23rd in the NFL, and 20.5 points (tied-18th). In nine trips to the red zone, the Seahawks have managed three touchdowns. None of those numbers are particularly awful, they’re just not what people were expecting, given the way the offense finished the 2012 season.
“I’m not real happy with … the overall (play) on offense right now,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said.
Of course the biggest issue for the Seahawks has been penalties more than a lack of execution. The Seahawks have been penalized 19 times for 183 yards in two games, with many of those being flags on the offense that cause drives to stall out before they can really get going.
“We continue to put ourselves behind the sticks so much that we have not been able to get the kind of rhythm that we hopefully will get,” Carroll said. “I think somewhere middle of the season last year, we just stayed on schedule so much more so and we are not there right now.
“I really see it as it’s the penalties issue as much as anything. We just got to stay out of our own way. We’re trying to really clean everything up. … We’re trying to get things right and I’m just going to hold (on) until we see a couple of more games and see where we’re going before I make a big evaluation.”
Carroll’s wait-and-see approach is the right one. No, things haven’t been great for Seattle’s offense, but it’s far too soon to worry that the Seahawks have taken a step back on that side of the ball. For starters, Seattle has faced two very good defensive fronts, which made establishing the run difficult and meant more pressure on Wilson. And while the penalties are a problem, they were also a big concern early last season and much less of an issue as the year went on.
Seattle’s offense certainly needs to improve for this to be a championship-caliber team. No matter how good Seattle’s defense is — and it is really, really good — the offense will have to carry the team at some point to get all the way to the Super Bowl. But it would be silly to assume this early on that the offense won’t be drastically better than it has been so far.
“There’s so much improving we can do,” receiver Golden Tate said. “The thing about it is, we won, what, 29-3? And we didn’t really pass the ball well. Once we get rolling and get everything going, we’re going to be dangerous. We’re still getting settled in, it’s a long season, we have time. We’re not discouraged at all, we’re excited about this year and we’ll keep working until we get it right. … We’re not discouraged at all. We’re 2-0 still.”
So no, it’s not time to wonder if Wilson is headed for a sophomore slump or if the offense won’t get on track. The opposing defense won’t always be as good as the ones the Seahawks have faced, and with a few less penalties, fewer drives will stall out before they ever get going. More than anything, this scrutiny is just what happens to a team in the midst of a season of unprecedented expectations. Even at 2-0, even after a blowout over the 49ers, every potential negative will be dissected, both inside the locker room and out of it.
“We have a lot of areas we have to improve in,” Carroll said. “We hurt ourselves too much in the first couple of games. We need to get out of our way and see if we can clean up our football. … There’s a lot of football that can be improved and that’s where we are hoping to continue to get better as we go through the schedule here.”
Herald Writer John Boyle: firstname.lastname@example.org.