It simultaneously felt like the Seahawks were lucky to prevail, while at the same time the Bengals were lucky they weren’t down by two scores for much of the game.
I thought the Seahawks had a good plan, but their execution left a lot to be desired. Be it penalties or other offensive line mistakes leading to shortened drives, it certainly harkened back to the dark days of 2017 (or, you know, week 1 against Denver last year). I don’t know what I expected from Cincinnati’s defense, but I never imagined having as much trouble with their front seven as we did. Nevertheless, I like how we stuck to our gameplan and did what we could with the rushing attack. My whole thing was: just play it safe and wait for the Bengals to shoot themselves in the foot.
The only problem is, they never did. Not really. Even their fumble early in the second half only led to the Seahawks going 3 & Out. But, I kept waiting for the Andy Dalton meltdown that never showed up. He passed for 418 yards on a very respectable 8.2 yards per attempt average, as the Seahawks sold out 100% to stop the run. The fact that our defense succeeded in that respect is pretty encouraging. The fact that we generated 4 sacks – without Ziggy Ansah, who was held out as a precaution – and a number of other pressures also signals good things yet to come.
But, the secondary play left a lot to be desired. I’ll say this, Shaquill Griffin finally showed up! He was magnificent, and I hope it continues. But, Tre Flowers was a bit of a mixed bag (he STILL hasn’t learned you can’t wrap your off arm around the defender when making a play on the ball and expect PI won’t be called) and Tedric Thompson was outright dreadful. I said this on Twitter, but it bears repeating: this defense just doesn’t work without Earl Thomas. Not like it’s supposed to. We can get by for now, but something needs to change at the safety position, because T2 is bringing nothing to the table. I mean, he should’ve been benched on the spot for giving up that TD to John Ross at the end of the first half. I don’t care if he’s the fastest guy in the NFL or not, the fact that he got behind Thompson in the first place is the true crime in this scenario!
I’ll also say this: I worry about our nickel defense in general. I like that the Seahawks have realized where their strengths lie – the linebacker position – but staying in base for so long and allowing these mismatches with Kendricks or Wright covering a wide receiver is just going to lead to trouble in the long term. I dunno, maybe I’m wrong, and the Seahawks are exposing a market inefficiency, but I doubt it. It feels more like this is going to bite us in the ass and we’ll have a hard decision to make regarding who to sit in lieu of getting another true defensive back out there.
Boy, I sure hope we don’t have to go on the road against an elite quarterback who was just embarrassed on Sunday Night Football!
In the end, life is short, so I’ll close on the bright side. Chris Carson looked in top form, rumbling for a couple of touchdowns (including one through the air, as he caught 6 balls for 35 yards). It was also awesome to see D.K. Metcalf make such a big impact in his rookie debut (4 for 89 yards, and at least one PI call in the endzone to set up a TD). We also got to see Jadeveon Clowney’s Seahawks debut, and he looked like a force for us in the early going.
The player of the game, though, has to be Quinton Jefferson, who is locking down that 5-tech spot on the line. He had 6 tackles (3 for loss), 2 sacks (3 QB hits), and a couple of passes batted down, as he was all over Andy Dalton like a cheap suit. Kudos, though, to John Ross, who really had a breakout game after a couple tough years to start his career (7 catches for 158 yards and 2 TDs, as he looked like his old Husky self out there, despite a couple of tough drops that could’ve swung the game to the Bengals if things broke differently).