The Seahawks’ Cade Johnson (right) reaches for the ball after he fumbled on a punt return as the Bears’ Davontae Harris (16) and reaches for the ball during the first half of a preseason game Thursday in Seattle. (AP Photo/Caean Couto)

The Seahawks’ Cade Johnson (right) reaches for the ball after he fumbled on a punt return as the Bears’ Davontae Harris (16) and reaches for the ball during the first half of a preseason game Thursday in Seattle. (AP Photo/Caean Couto)

Seahawks struggle in all phases, thumped by Bears

Seattle is plagued by dropped passes, poor tackling, penalties and special teams mistakes in a 27-11 loss to Chicago.

  • By Bob Condotta The Seattle Times
  • Thursday, August 18, 2022 10:12pm
  • SportsSeahawks

By Bob Condotta / The Seattle Times

SEATTLE — The big caveat? It’s just the preseason.

The big everything else? That was about as bleak a night as there has been at Lumen Field — or any of its other names — since the Seahawks started playing there in 2002.

Worse than the final score of 27-11, which accurately depicted the game, was that there was little for the Seahawks to feel good about along the way.

Sure, many of Seattle’s big stars didn’t play — safeties Jamal Adams and Quandre Diggs sat out and receivers DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett played just a couple snaps.

But then, the same was true of the Bears, who planned to play their starters just 6-10 snaps and appeared to stick to that with some playing none at all.

So, in a battle of the backups, it was the Bears who were bad news for the Seahawks, taking a 17-0 lead at halftime and then a 24-0 lead less than four minutes into the third quarter.

And adding insult to, well, everything else is that while Bears starter Justin Fields played just one series, Seattle prospective starter Geno Smith played the entire, scoreless, first half.

Smith got the start after the Seahawks found out on Tuesday that Drew Lock tested positive for COVID-19. Lock had been scheduled to start to get his shot to make an impression in his battle with Smith for the starting job to succeed Russell Wilson.

While Smith was hardly solely to blame for the scoreless first half — he had three passes dropped — his overall stat line was hardly inspiring as he was 10-for-18 for 112 yards with a 74.3 passer rating.

Smith got 70 of his yards on two completions — of 41 to Penny Hart and 29 to DeeJay Dallas, the latter a short pass that turned into a big gain — but otherwise got little done.

Smith played only the first half, leaving with the Seahawks down 17-0 at halftime before Husky Jacob Eason played the second half.

Smith’s performance won’t convince anyone that the Seahawks shouldn’t still try to find a way to give the start next Friday at Dallas to Lock to see if he might be able to do better and maybe still find a way to take the starting job.

Here are four other things that stood out:

Special teams nightmare

This was simply a really bad game for Seattle’s special teams.

Seattle allowed a punt return of 48 yards and kickoff returns of 58 and 31.

Jason Myers, coming off a shaky year but still the team’s prospective kicker with no one else on the roster, missed a 47-yarder early in the second quarter when the score was 10-0.

And second-year player Cade Johnson fumbled a punt return at the 5-yard line that was recovered at the 1 and led to another TD with 20 seconds left in the first half.

Without all that, maybe the game looks a little better. A little …

Charles Cross penalties

Charles Cross, Seattle’s first pick in the draft, at No. 9 overall, graded out well in the opener against Pittsburgh.

He won’t in this game if for no other reason than being called for five penalties — four came in the first half as the game got away, three for false starts and another for holding. He had another for a false start in the second half

Just as last week didn’t mean that Cross should immediately be anointed as the next Walter Jones, nor should this game mean that Cross is going to be a bust.

But it does mean there is going to be a learning curve for a player who is just 21 years old and started just 22 games at Mississippi State.

Lack of offensive depth

So, while assessing the offense, it’s again worth remembering that Metcalf and Lockett played a little and but the top two running backs, Rashaad Penny and Ken Walker III, didn’t at all.

Still, back when the Seahawks were taking part in Super Bowls, one of their biggest points of pride was strength of the roster from 1-53.

That seemed lacking on Thursday.

There was little done in the downfield passing game. And the running game, a positive last week with 159 yards on 26 carries against the Steelers, was a little bit hit but mostly miss against the Bears with 84 yards on 18 carries.

But 49 yards came on two carries — a 33-yarder from Travis Homer in the second quarter and a 16-yarder by Darwin Thompson (whose leap over a defender was one of the rare times all night the crowd came to life) in the third with little consistency beyond that.

Penny and Walker will obviously help that. But the Seahawks did have much of their possible starting line in the game through the third quarter.

And that line had its struggles.

As one example, rookie Abraham Lucas, who played much of the game at right tackle, was beaten bad for a sack in the fourth quarter by Chicago linebacker Sam Kamara — listed on the fourth team on the depth chart — on a third down play that resulted in a Seahawks punt.

Seattle’s two rookie tackles, who garnered so much praise for their play against the Steelers, simply struggled against the Bears.

An injury to starting left guard Damien Lewis less than a minute into the second quarter surely didn’t help — Lewis left with an ankle injury that appeared serious.

But if Lewis’ injury is serious, this is also the line the Seahawks are going to have to play with going forward, and it did not look good against the Bears, who played their starters sparingly.

Of Seattle’s 16 drives (including two at the end of the halves), 10 ended in a punt.

Cornerback conundrum

With prospective starters Sidney Jones IV and Artie Burns out, the Seahawks went with rookie Tariq Woolen and Michael Jackson at cornerback.

So where was Coby Bryant, the heralded fourth-round pick out of Cincinnati? The answer is that he played only nickel until late in the game, which raises the question of exactly where he stands in things right now.

Justin Coleman played the first half at nickel and for now appears to be the starter there. That could obviously change, but the fact that Bryant mostly played in the second half seemed telling, though he made a nice play in the fourth quarter, breaking up a pass in the end zone from Nathan Peterman to Isaiah Coulter.

Woolen appeared to play fine and at worst for now seems to project as a backup at right corner, if not the starter as he continues to compete with Burns.

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