Considering they do it so often, the Seattle Seahawks know that losing to the Rams isn’t the end of the world.
It’s not even the end of the season.
It’s only Week 2, and the entire NFC West division is knotted at 1-1.
So another loss to the Rams on Sunday wasn’t a shocker in itself. It was how the 9-3 score meant that the Seahawks’ offense has now managed a single touchdown in 22 possessions this season, totaling 15 points in two games.
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This was a such great opportunity to gain ground on the division and conference, and it was wasted mostly by ineffective offensive play — particularly by the offensive line.
Coach Pete Carroll said the line wasn’t the limiting factor. I’ll respectfully debate that issue.
And I’d go a step further to say it’s a problem rooted in their roster-building philosophy. In the laudable (in fact, remarkable) process of contractually locking up so many core stars, the offensive line has been treated like the poor cousins who have to sit in the kitchen at Thanksgiving.
At least at the start of the season, it was the lowest-paid line in the league. And you get what you pay for.
None of the guys up front — except maybe J’Marcus Webb, who was brought in as a free agent — is playing below their skimpy pay grade.
But if you’re paying them like the worst line in the NFL, maybe what happens is you average 2.8 yards per carry against the Rams, and you never get a significant run push, and you keep your quarterback in a state of peril.
Yes, the high-priced defense has been stellar. But the team is 1-1.
The Rams treat quarterback Russell Wilson like a piñata a couple times every season as it is, but with a sprained ankle, he was unable to buy those second chances or scramble.
The Seahawks can’t be faulted for their effort. That’s never an issue. It’s not as if they overlook the Rams or aren’t trying to bring their “A” game, especially on defense.
But the lesson of last season should have been in recognizing the fallacy of the “it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish” philosophy.
Yes, it’s great to believe you’re never out of a game, but it was a slow start last season that sent this team on the road in the playoffs, and the way this schedule is back-loaded, early losses can be even more costly this time around.
The biggest cause of the slow start last year was the gradual jelling of the offensive line. And this year, there was even less stability, as every starter was in a new position.
Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald is one of the best players in the NFL, but there were times when some of the Seahawks’ linemen didn’t even touch him as he raced past. Every one of those guys had breakdowns at points in this game.
Most of them were being physically defeated by a great athlete.
But if the offensive staff had devised ways to minimize Donald with the scheme, they were neither apparent nor effective.
Remember, this Rams team was horrid in a 28-0 loss to San Francisco in their opener.
None of the Seahawks is panicking. Nor should they.
Rookie guard Germain Ifedi should be back in a week or two, and that will help. And if last season is an indicator, the unit should grow together and take steps.
But that narrative is getting old.
The Seahawks really are a team of high competitive character, and uncommon unity.
“You don’t want to start the blame game,” defensive end Michael Bennett said when asked if they were concerned about the offense. “That’s the media’s job.”
Michael, really, I don’t enjoy that. But if you insist it’s my job:
The Seahawks have the talent to go all the way again this season.
But if the offensive line doesn’t improve pretty soon, it’s going to make reaching that full potential extremely difficult.