Every fan of every team would love to kick their season off with the win, perhaps even more so on the road, but this particular road victory left a bad taste in my mouth.
I wish I could point to one thing specifically, but it wasn't just one thing. Seattle may have won this game, but this was not a performance indicative of a Super Bowl hopeful. The mental mistakes and boneheaded penalties from the preseason carried over into this game. They were able to hang in there and overcome those things to get the win-- which was great to see, especially on the road. However, if you're going to hold your team to championship standards, you can't be content with the way the Seahawks played altogether.
First and foremost-- the offensive line played horribly. They couldn't open any lanes for Marshawn Lynch and they left Russell Wilson scrambling for his life throughout the game. James Carpenter looked awful in particular and I expected so much more given the fact that there were no rookies starting up front for the first time in years. Carolina played well up front, but Seattle should not have been overwhelmed by this group as much as they were. Tom Cable needs to get this group right before the home opener when they'll face an elite defensive front.
Lynch only carried the ball 17 times for 43 yards yesterday as it seemed Carroll has turned away from the run-first mentality that we all assumed this team would live by this season. Robert Turbin had a great change-of-direction run for 15 yards late in the game but Seattle by in large put the game on Wilson's right arm.
Dan Quinn's defense looked soft. In his debut, taking over for Gus Bradley as the defensive coordinator, Seattle had little pass rush and gave up the middle of the field to Carolina for most of the game. They did manage to hold Cam Newton to a paltry 125 yards passing but part of that can be attributed to the Panthers applying the brakes once they had the lead. Despite getting Brandon Mebane and Tony McDaniel back, Seattle still gave up 125 yards rushing to the Panthers.
Still, there were some bright spots worth noting. I thought Wilson and the receiver group played tremendously. Doug Baldwin played with the reliability of Bobby Engram, coming up just nine yards short of a 100 yard game, grabbing 7 catches. Jermaine Kearse continued the spectacular playmaking we saw in the preseason, making an incredible 43 yard grab for Seattle's only touchdown-- the first touchdown of his career.
Russell Wilson was brilliant despite the deficiencies of his line and run game. Wilson completed 75% of his passes en route to his first regular season 300+ yard performance of his young career. The Panthers knocked Wilson around all game but he still managed to keep a cool head. If not for a sack fumble just before the half-- Wilson would've played mistake free.
Much like last season's match up in Carolina, Seattle's defense played stout when the game was on the line. Carolina had a chance to win the game at the end but Earl Thomas and Richard Sherman were able to separate the ball from DeAngelo Williams in the red zone, effectively sealing the victory.
Seattle needed this win to get their season off to the start that their expectations demand. They absolutely need to shore up these problems before they take the field this Sunday for their home opener against the defending NFC Champions. The 12th Man will certainly lend a hand but this team needs to establish a significantly more dominant rushing attack and do a much better job keeping their quarterback protected.