The Seahawks offense looked absolutely pedestrian against the Panthers on Sunday. But was this performance a worrisome sign of things to come, or just an aberration?
The lone bright spot for Seattle was 2nd-year quarterback Russell Wilson, who turned in a 25-33, 320 yard, 1 TD and 0 INT performance. This is all the more remarkable considering how, well, unremarkable his receiving corps is.
Sidney Rice, Golden Tate, Doug Baldwin, Jermaine Curse & Zach Miller – these are the weapons that Russell Wilson has to throw to. They aren’t an especially speedy bunch, and they showed very little ability to create separation against any type of coverage on Sunday.
The Panthers predominantly matched up to Seattle with zone coverage (Lots of cover 2 and 2-shell variations). This is something Wilson will see often given his running ability. Even against zone coverage, receivers must be able to create separation. Defenders in zone often match up to whoever enters their area of the field and lock on to them, something the Panthers did a fair amount of on Sunday. Seattle’s receivers just couldn’t get open in this instance either.
Carolina did play some man coverage, and with the exception of Russell Wilson’s game-winning TD pass to Jermaine Kearse, Seattle receivers again couldn’t create any space.
There is a reason Wilson was able to put up such good numbers despite the lack of points. Most of Seattle’s big plays vs the Panthers came on broken plays – scrambles and great physical throws by Wilson. While these might make for great highlights on Sportscenter, they aren’t conducive to consistency on offense, as the Seahawks’ 12 points would seem to suggest.
If Seattle’s receiving corps can’t create more separation and the Seahawks can’t move the ball with more consistency, they’ll have to rely on a dominant defense to win the NFC West. That alone might not be enough.