The big caveat? It’s just the preseason.
The big everything else? The Seahawks’ 27-11 preseason loss to the Bears Thursday was about as bleak a night as there has been at Lumen Field — or any of its other names — since the Seahawks started playing there in 2002.
“Man, there just seems to be so many lessons for us right here,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. “We’ve got 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 remaining 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’ve got some really good players that aren’t out there right now,” Carroll said.
But then, the same was true of the Bears, who played only two of their starting offensive linemen and starting QB Justin Fields for just the first series.
So, in what was largely a battle of the backups, it was the Bears 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 from the Saturday-to-Thursday turnaround — the Bears had the same short week, beating Kansas City at home Saturday and then having to travel.
The Seahawks could, maybe, blame a weird week.
Geno Smith got the start at quarterback after the Seahawks found out on Tuesday that Drew Lock tested positive for COVID-19. Lock had been scheduled to start to get his shot to make an impression in his battle with Smith for the starting job to succeed Russell Wilson and had taken all the snaps with the first team in practice on Tuesday before testing positive.
That thrust Smith back into the starting job.
While Smith wasn’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 kept playing if needed.
“We were thinking about him coming back and playing in the third quarter to get some more plays, but it just wasn’t the right thing to do,” Carroll said.
Unclear is what happens to the QB competition now. Carroll said Lock is still “really sick” from COVID-19. The earliest he could return is Sunday.
Carroll again was vague on what Seattle will do at quarterback for the preseason finale at 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.
Special teams nightmare
This was simply a really bad game for Seattle’s special teams with Carroll not even bothering to sugar coat it.
“It’s really hard to win when you play like that,” Carroll said of a special teams unit whose miscues directly contributed to 17 points.
Seattle allowed a punt return of 48 yards that led to one touchdown, muffed a punt at the 5 (by Cade Johnson) that led to another and also allowed kickoff returns of 58 and 31. Putting some sour icing on the cake, Jason Myers, coming off a shaky year but still the team’s prospective kicker, 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 just three for 38 for the Bears. And Carroll didn’t try to sugar coat that either saying “you can’t play football like that. It’s bad.”
While some were committed by young players who may not be around long, five were committed 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 as the game got 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 talked at length after the game and that each penalty “had its own little storyline.” In general, he said the flags had to do with Cross “being comfortable and assessing the cadences and adjustments and things that we have to do. It’s just an experience. So this is not going to be something that bothers him forever. We’ve just got to get it cleaned up and settle him in and make sure each situation he makes the right assessment and does the right job.”
Offense needs to make plays
As Carroll noted, even without its big stars, the defense did OK, allowing just 3.5 yards per play, with the caveat that the Bears played without their regulars after the first series.
But the offense struggled throughout.
Without Metcalf and Lockett, there was little done in the downfield 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, a positive last week with 159 yards on 26 carries against the Steelers, was a little bit hit but mostly missed against the Bears with 96 yards on 19 carries.
“It never really got going,” Carroll said.
And 49 of those yards came on two carries — a 33-yarder from 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 the crowd came to life) 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, so will the likes of Metcalf and Lockett play.
As Carroll noted, Smith threw a perfect pass for a possible first down on a third down on Seattle’s first series with the ball instead being dropped by Freddie Swain.
“We have to catch the ball better in general,” Carroll said. “The guys who are trying to make this club have got to catch the ball and make the plays for us.”
But the line also didn’t seem to play as well as a week ago — an early ankle injury to guard Damien Lewis that thankfully doesn’t appear serious didn’t help. But as Cross’ penalties made clear, it wasn’t a great day all around for anyone on offense.