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Arrow still points up for Seahawks, but offensive line must be better

RENTON, Wash. -- The Seattle Seahawks hung with one of the NFL's toughest teams in one of its toughest places to play on Sunday.

They kept an all-time great quarterback scoreless through two quarters, and did so despite losing a starting cornerback after eight plays. They lost by eight points in a game in which they had a touchdown called back on one of a few questionable calls that didn't go their way.

And they're back home next week to host a 49ers team coming off a two-win season and a 20-point defeat in its opener.

As far as 0-1 starts go, the Seahawks could be in a much worse shape. They've got plenty to feel good about even after losing 17-9 to Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field.

But about that offensive line ...

"I'm disappointed in that," coach Pete Carroll said Monday. "I'm disappointed we're talking about that today. I thought we were moving in the right direction. I've seen us move in the right direction, but in this game, we weren't as sharp."

That qualifies as putting it kindly given the way Seattle's offensive line struggled in Green Bay.

Russell Wilson faced pressure on nearly half of his dropbacks -- 44 percent, according to ESPN Stats & Information. That is well above the NFL average of 27 percent in 2016 and Seattle's average of 37 percent over the past five seasons. That left Wilson unsettled in the pocket and kept the passing game from finding any rhythm save for when Seattle pushed the tempo. The Seahawks had to use tight ends and running backs to help out in pass protection, sometimes leaving more defenders to cover fewer targets. It was a surprise that Wilson was only sacked three times, but one of them resulted in a game-changing play when the Packers forced and recovered a fumble to set up their first touchdown.

It wasn't much better in the running game. Of Seattle's 90 rushing yards, 29 came via a Wilson scramble. Eddie Lacy, Chris Carson and C.J. Prosise never had much room to operate.

There were some fingers to be pointed elsewhere, to be sure, but the issues with an offense that produced only 12 first downs and 225 yards started up front. And it came against a Green Bay defensive front that -- as dominant as Mike Daniels looked Sunday -- isn't as good as those from the Rams and Cardinals that have previously given Seattle fits. That's one reason Carroll said he was surprised to see Seattle's offensive line struggle.

"We read something wrong on a protection and we missed a couple little communication things here that made a difference," Carroll said. "They were kind of magnified at the time. It's just stuff that happens and things that we've done right and things that we've been good at, we just missed it in the game and we were disappointed on a couple targets and things like that on the offensive side. Things that we worked on and all, they just didn't come out and didn't hit right at game time."

So what now?

If the Seahawks were to make a switch in the starting lineup -- that's a big if -- the most likely spot right now would be at right guard with Mark Glowinski, who held off veteran free-agent addition Oday Aboushi in a competition that went all the way up to the final week of the preseason. The Seahawks don't seem married to Glowinski at right guard or 2016 first-round pick Germain Ifedi at right tackle, where rookie Ethan Pocic briefly got some run during training camp. But the Seahawks were excited about both of those players returning to their more familiar college positions this season, so making a move after one week would be a pretty quick hook.

"Ethan's right there," Carroll said. "He's there looking for his opportunity. He's done well, as has Oday. Both of those guys are right there."

The more likely play, it would seem, is to give the current five at least another week to find its footing and clean up the mistakes from Green Bay. But that assumes those were errors in assignment more so than a sign that some of Seattle's offensive linemen are overmatched.

Seattle's arrow still points up.

Look around the NFC West at what it could be like. The Cardinals lost their opener and they might have lost their best offensive weapon, All-Pro running back David Johnson, for a extended time because of a wrist injury. The 49ers are rebuilding and haven't won at CenturyLink Field since 2011. The Rams are the only team in the division with a victory.

Everything is still in front of the Seahawks, but their offense will only go as far as its line will allow it to go.

On Sunday in Green Bay, that wasn't very far.