As we look ahead to the Seahawks' Week 2 matchup with the Packers, here are five thoughts/observations after having reviewed the Rams' game. Statistics are courtesy of ESPN Stats & Information, unless otherwise noted.
1. Asked about Russell Wilson's Week 1 performance, Pete Carroll noted: "When you complete almost 80 percent of the passes, that’s pretty good, but there’s things to be done better."
Yes, there are. And one of them is getting the ball down field.
The Seahawks were in a tough spot in the opener. The offensive line was playing together for the first time. The Rams have a great front four and are aggressive in their blitz calls. So it made sense that Seattle focused on a quick passing game. But still, Wilson completed just one pass all game that traveled more than 10 yards past the line of scrimmage.
Overall, Wilson averaged just 4.65 yards per dropback, which ranked 28th of the 32 starting quarterbacks in Week 1. Spinning it forward to Week 2, will the Seahawks continue with the quick passing game and try to keep the ball out of Aaron Rodgers' hands? Or will they take more shots down field knowing they're going to need to put up points to stay competitive?
2. Carroll said earlier this week that the Seahawks' issues in pass defense were more on the linebackers than the safeties, and the film bears that out. Seattle had giant voids in its zone coverages all game long. Tight end Jared Cook got behind K.J. Wright and Bobby Wagner for what was a pretty easy 22-yard completion early. Later, Wright and Cary Williams had what looked like a pretty clear miscommunication, and Cook got free down the right sideline for a 20-yard gain.
The linebackers and Dion Bailey bit hard on play-action all game long, creating relatively easy throws downfield for Nick Foles. Per Pro Football Focus, the Rams used play-action on 35.5 percent of their passes, the second most of any team in Week 1. Foles was 6-for-8 for 122 yards off play-action. Don't be surprised to see the Packers go to that early on to take some shots downfield.
3. In some ways, I think the criticism of the offensive line is a bit over the top. These guys barely played with each other all preseason and then were asked to face one of the best fronts in the league. What was everyone expecting?
In the run game, Marshawn Lynch averaged 2.17 yards before contact, which ranked 28th among running backs. Last year, though, he averaged 2.14, so that number was almost identical.
After contact in Week 1, Lynch averaged 1.89 yards, compared to 2.53 last season. In other words, the Rams did a good job of wrapping him up near the line of scrimmage. A matchup with the Packers could be just what the Seahawks need. Matt Forte ran for 141 yards and averaged. 5.9 YPC against them in Week 1.
4. Granted, it's a small sample size, but the Seahawks' most effective personnel grouping Sunday was with Lynch, Doug Baldwin, Jermaine Kearse, Tyler Lockett and Jimmy Graham. Wilson was 18-of-20 for 194 yards with that group on the field. The Seahawks also ran it better out of 11 (one RB, one TE) personnel, averaging 4.79 YPC on 14 attempts.
The second most popular personnel grouping was Lynch, Baldwin, Kearse, Luke Willson and Graham. But with those guys on the field, the Seahawks averaged 2.67 YPC on six attempts, and Wilson was 2-of-7.
Again, it was only one game, but the offense was better with 11 personnel than 12 (one RB, two TEs). Given that Lockett and Graham were two bright spots, it'll be interesting to see if the Seahawks try to get them on the field together more.
5. The Seahawks manufactured a big play on a blitz when Williams sacked Foles, scooped the fumble up and took it to the house. But overall, the Rams handled Kris Richard's blitz. When Seattle sent five defenders or more, Foles was 5-of-6 for 53 yards.
Given the stress that blitzing puts on the secondary, I'd be surprised if Richard got overly aggressive in Week 2 against Rodgers.