The big caveat? It’s just the preseason.
The big everything else? The Seahawks’ 27-11 preseason loss to the Bears on Thursday was about as dismal a night as there has been at Lumen Field — or any of its other names — since the Seahawks began playing there in 2002.
“Man, there seems to be so many lessons for us here,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. “We have a big list.”
And worse than the final score was that there was little for the Seahawks to feel good about along the way — the Seahawks didn’t score a touchdown until there was 2:08 left in the game.
As Carroll noted, receivers DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett played only three games of the first series, and defensive standouts Jamal Adams, Quandre Diggs and Jordyn Brooks did not play at all.
“We have some really good players that aren’t there right now,” Carroll said,
But then, the same was true of the Bruins, who played only two of their starting offensive linemen and starting QB Justin Fields for just the first series.
So, in what was mostly a battle of the backups, it was the Bruins 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.
The Seahawks also couldn’t really blame the short week on the Saturday-to-Thursday turnaround – the Bruins had the same short week, beating Kansas City at home Saturday and then having to travel.
The Seahawks could possibly blame a weird week.
Geno Smith started at quarterback after the Seahawks found out Tuesday that Drew Lock had tested positive for COVID-19. Lock was scheduled to start getting his shot to make an impression in his battle with Smith for the starting job to succeed Russell Wilson and took all the snaps with the first team in practice on Tuesday before testing positive.
That pushed Smith back into the starting job.
While Smith isn’t 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 bruised his knee in the first quarter when he landed hard on it following a scramble. Smith stayed in until halftime, and Carroll said he could have continued to play if needed.
“We thought about him coming back and playing in the third quarter to get more games, but it just wasn’t the right thing to do,” Carroll said.
Not clear what happens to the QB competition now. Carroll said Lock is still “really sick” with COVID-19. The earliest he could return is Sunday.
Carroll was again vague about what Seattle will do at quarterback for the preseason finale in Dallas next Friday, but if Lock is OK, the Seahawks may be forced to give him a start and see what happens.
But Thursday showed the Seahawks have some other problems.
Here are three other things that stood out:
A special teams nightmare
This was just a really bad game for Seattle’s special teams with Carroll not even bothering to sugar coat it.
“It’s really hard to score when you play like that,” Carroll said of a special teams unit whose fouls directly contributed to 17 points.
Seattle allowed a punt return of 48 yards that led to one touchdown, fumbled a punt at the 5 (by Cade Johnson) that led to another and also allowed kickoff returns of 58 and 31. Putting some icing on the cake, Jason Myers, coming off a shaky year but still the eventual kicker of the equipment, missed a 47-yarder early in the second quarter when the score was 10-0.
Carroll noted that many young players, and many who may not make the team, were on the field for the returns and said “there will be some changes and we will make those decisions as we go.”
Penalties, penalties, penalties
The Seahawks had 13 flags for 92 yards to only three for 38 for the Bears. And Carroll didn’t try to sugarcoat it either by saying “you can’t play football like that. It’s bad.”
While some were made by young players who might not be around for long, five were made by one the team hopes will be around for a long time — rookie left tackle Charles Cross.
Cross, Seattle’s first pick in the draft at No. 9 overall and graded out well in the opener against Pittsburgh, was flagged five times.
Four came in the first half when the game went away, three for false starts and another for holding. He had another for a false start in the second half.
Carroll said he and Cross had a long talk after the game and that each penalty “had its own little plot.” Overall, he said the flags are related to Cruz “being comfortable and evaluating the cadences and adjustments and things we have to do. It’s just an experience. So this won’t be something that bothers him forever. We just have to clean up it and housing him and making sure that every situation he makes the right assessment and does the right job.”
Offense has to make plays
As Carroll noted, even without its big stars, the defense did well, allowing just 3.5 yards per play, with the caveat that the Bruins were playing without their regulars after the first series.
But the offense struggled throughout.
Without Metcalf and Lockett, there has been little done in the passing game with Seattle averaging just 4.1 yards per pass play (Wilson has a career average of 7.8 per pass play).
And the running game, positive last week with 159 yards on 26 carries against the Steelers, was a little hit but mostly miss against the Bruins with 96 yards on 19 carries.
“It never really took off,” Carroll said.
And 49 of those yards came on two carries — a 33-yarder by 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 when the crowd came alive) in the third. with little consistency beyond that.
The return of Rashaad Penny and Ken Walker III will obviously help.
And within the passing game, just like Metcalf and Lockett play.
As Carroll noted, Smith threw a perfect pass for a potential first down on third down on Seattle’s first series with the ball instead dropped by Freddie Swain.
“We’ve got to catch the ball better in general,” Carroll said. “The guys who are trying to make this club have to catch the ball and make the plays for us.”
But the line also didn’t seem to play as well as it did a week ago – an early ankle injury to guard Damien Lewis, which thankfully doesn’t appear to be serious, didn’t help. But as Cross’ penalties made clear, it wasn’t a great day all around for anyone on offense.