For the first time since 2013, the Seattle Seahawks have claimed a 1-0 start to the season with a road opener to kick off the year. Seattle traveled south to Atlanta and torched the Dirty Birds to the tune of 38-25 in front of a raucous crowd of artificially generated fan noise.
The game was never really as close as the final score might have indicated, as the Falcons earned a few garbage scores late with the Seahawks shifting into cruise control. Quarterback Matt Ryan had over 400 yards passing, but it was not enough to overcome a Seahawks team firing on all cylinders.
Seattle improves to a 3-2 record when playing in Atlanta in the Pete Carroll/Russell Wilson era, and as such, here are 4 Studs and only 1 Dud from the Seahawks’ hot start.
No. 1 Stud – Russell Wilson
Russell Wilson started his MVP candidacy early with a white-hot season debut. Wilson began the game 11/11 passing with two touchdown passes to give the Seahawks a 14-3 lead they would not relinquish.
When it was all said and done, Wilson was a crisp 31/35 with 322 yards passing and four touchdowns, becoming the first Seattle quarterback with four touchdown passes in a season opener.
More importantly, Wilson improved to an incomprehensible 58-0 when the Seahawks lead at halftime. After an offseason of fans chirping #LetRussCook on social media, it appears Seattle is letting its master chef get to business.
No. 2 Stud – Jamal Adams
Welcome to Seattle, Jamal Adams! It was quite the debut for Seattle’s prized offseason acquisition, as the star safety finished the game with a team-leading 12 tackles – two of which went for a loss – two quarterback hits, and a sack.
Adams made his presence known early with Chancellor-esque bone-crushing hits. However, Adams’ impact wasn’t just reflected in the box score.
His infectious energy was palpable from the start and was reflected by a Seahawks defense playing with a ferocity not often seen in recent years. With Adams emerging as the clear leader in the secondary, the new-look Legion of Boom is off to a decent start.
No. 3 Stud – Seahawks 4th down defense
Atlanta may have finished with 25 points, but the Falcons offense did not capitalize in the moments where it actually mattered. Primarily, the Falcons faced four crucial fourth-down situations which could have drastically altered the course of the game.
The Falcons went 0-4.
Three of the attempts came up short well within Seattle territory, with one drive stalling on the Seahawks 11-yard line.
Technically, the Falcons did manage to pick up a first down on one attempt, but it was fumbled and recovered by the Seahawks, killing any momentum. Five plays later, Wilson found Greg Olsen for a score to go up 28-12 and effectively putting the game out of reach.
Overall it was a solid showing from an improved Seahawks defense, although there was one area in dire need of improvement . . .
No. 1 Dud – Pass rush
You guessed it, the Seahawks pass rush is still highly suspect. In fairness, Matt Ryan, Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley are a lethal trio for any defense, but it doesn’t help when the front seven isn’t able to generate any semblance of consistent pressure.
Benson Mayowa – a free agent signing this offseason – and Jamal Adams, did record a sack each, but they were the only sacks of the afternoon. It is also concerning if your safety is producing half the games’ sack total.
There is considerable work to be done, as the pass rush will continue to be Seattle’s biggest liability.
No. 4 Stud – Aggressive coaching
No one wants to end on a bad note, so let’s take some time to praise a noticeable shift in Seattle’s coaching. Much to the chagrin of the 12th Man, Pete Carroll is notoriously conservative, leading many to demand online for the Seahawks to #LetRussCook.
Well, on Sunday, the Seahawks did just that. Seattle started aggressively with seven passes compared to only two runs, a major improvement from a team that was in the bottom three of first-quarter pass attempts last season. The result was an opening drive touchdown.
Another instance of aggression was the first drive of the third quarter. Facing a 4th-and-5, the Seahawks elected to go for in instead of attempting a more conventional 55-yard field goal. Once more, Seattle was rewarded with a 38-yard touchdown from Wilson to DK Metcalf.
There is a time and a place for conservative play-calling, but it was refreshing to see the Seahawks hit the ground running from the get-go.