The Seattle Seahawks opened up the 2013 season with a gutsy win over the Carolina Panthers in Charlotte. The headlines this week were mostly about the two Pro Bowl quarterbacks who were facing off in this game, but the real story on Sunday was the two very solid defenses.
It is easy to focus on the positive after a win, and there were plenty of positive in this game. Russell Wilson throwing for 320 yards would be one, and the defense only giving up seven points would be another.
At the same time, the Seahawks were far from perfect in this game. The offensive line really struggled, and the penalty problem that plagued this team in the preseason showed up again. There will be plenty of teaching points for head coach Pete Carroll and his staff to break down once they get a chance to look at the film.
Here's a breakdown of the Seahawks' roster and how it graded out against the Panthers.
Russell Wilson: B
Wilson had a big day with 320 passing yards, but his performance wasn't perfect. A fumble and a bad intentional grounding penalty on two separate trips into the red zone cost the Seahawks points on both occasions.
Marshawn Lynch: B-
It's tough to place the blame for Seattle's struggles on the ground all on Marshawn Lynch. Lynch ran hard, but the offensive line failed to open many running lanes.
Robert Turbin: B+
Robert Turbin was given just five touches in the offense, but he still managed to turn that into 30 yards. He also added some solid blocking in the passing game.
Derrick Coleman: B+
It was a good debut for Seattle's new starting fullback. Derrick Coleman didn't have many opportunities as a lead blocker, but he contributed with three catches for 30 yards out of the backfield.
Sidney Rice: B-
Sidney Rice had a couple of big catches, but spent most of the game on the sideline. The Seahawks need more out of their starting flanker, specially with Percy Harvin on the shelf for most of the year.
Golden Tate: B+
The Seahawks made a point of getting Golden Tate the ball in a variety of ways. He even lined up at FB at one point. Tate just needs to get more than four catches on his seven targets.
Doug Baldwin: A+
Doug Baldwin was probably the offensive player of the game. He led both teams in receptions and receiving yards, and that sideline catch in the third quarter was incredible.
Jermaine Kearse: B
Jermaine Kearse delivered the team's only TD reception and the big play the Seahawks needed to win this game. He also was mostly invisible for the rest of the game even though he received a lot of playing time.
Stephen Williams: C+
The good news is that in limited playing time, he managed to get behind the defense. The bad news is that he couldn't haul the ball in despite a diving effort.
Zach Miller: B
Zach Miller played a solid game on passing downs, but his time on the injured list showed in his run blocking. Miller uncharacteristically struggled to move his man on running plays for most of the game.
Luke Willson: C-
Luke Willson played sparingly after an early penalty, and failed to make an impact on the game.
Offensive Line (cumulative): C-
Overall, the offensive line played poorly in this game. Russell Okung and Max Unger both played relatively well, but neither was immune to mistakes.
The play of the guards was brutally bad at times in this game. Both J.R. Sweezy and Paul McQuistan struggled with pass and run blocking. The blocking at guard was better when James Carpenter was in the game, but he played sparingly as the team tries to get him back into game shape. Carpenter should expect to see more playing time next week.
Breno Giacomini was was inconsistent in blocking but managed to avoid the bad penalties that plagued him a year ago. He also was responsible for getting Carolina defensive end Frank Alexander ejected from the game.
The Seahawks need to rethink the use of Mike Person as a sixth offensive lineman. He had two penalties and struggled in run blocking. With other options on the roster, Person needs to improve or he's going to lose his playing time.
O'Brien Schofield: B
O'Brien Schofield was the best outside pass-rusher for Seattle and got the team's only sack. While he failed to get a lot of pressure on Cam Newton, he did do a good job of keeping Newton from getting outside when plays broke down.
Benson Mayowa: C
Benson Mayowa struggled to get any pressure on Newton. He was also pushed past Newton a few times, meaning he'd lost containment on the mobile QB. This wasn't a bad performance, but Mayowa showed his youth at times.
Red Bryant: B+
Red Bryant is a run-stuffer and not a pass-rusher. His stats are never flashy, but he did a good job of anchoring the line and not getting pushed back, even when double-teamed.
Brandon Mebane: C+
Brandon Mebane did not appear to be at full strength after missing most of the preseason with an injury. Mebane struggled to hold the point of attack against the run and was unable to generate much inside push against the pass. Most troubling was that this was against a pair of backup guards for the Panthers.
D'Anthony Smith: B-
D'Anthony Smith struggled to hold the point of attack early in the game but improved later in the game. Like Mebane, Smith was unable to generate any pressure on Newton, even against backup offensive guards.
Tony McDaniel: B
Tony McDaniel was active and disruptive at times, and he was getting pushed out of position at others. It is also unclear if he was fully healthy for this game. McDaniel gets extra credit for getting downfield to recover the DeAngelo Williams fumble.
K.J. Wright: B
Other than an a questionable penalty for pulling a player off the pile and a couple of receptions while in coverage, K.J. Wright played a fairly solid game. His conversion from the strong side to the weak side was successful.
Bobby Wagner: B+
Bobby Wagner made a number of tackles and looked solid overall. The only problem was that he struggled to get off of his blocks on a couple of plays, leading to some good runs by the Panthers.
Malcolm Smith: B-
It was a decent game overall for Malcolm Smith, but he missed a couple of tackles that the Seahawks needed him to make. Smith needs to make those plays if he's going to continue to get playing time once Chris Clemons and Cliff Avril return from their injuries.
Richard Sherman: A-
It's tough to tell which defensive back is at fault on completions when only using the broadcast camera angle, but it appeared that Richard Sherman had himself a very solid game. The only reason this isn't an A is that he had a potential interception hit him in both hands and he couldn't hold onto it.
Walter Thurmond: B+
With Brandon Browner out, Walter Thurmond stepped in and played a nice game. Nothing flashy, but just good coverage overall.
Byron Maxwell: B+
Byron Maxwell played a good game as the nickel cornerback. Like with Thurmond, he wasn't flashy, but he got the job done.
Earl Thomas: A-
Earl Thomas was all over the field making plays and helped the Seahawks avoid giving up any big plays. This grade would have been higher, but he did appear to miss a couple of tackles.
Kam Chancellor: B-
Kam Chancellor struggled in coverage in the first half, and Panthers tight end Greg Olsen had a number of big receptions. Chancellor played better later in the game, but he still failed to deliver any of his signature big hits.
Steven Hauschka: A+
Steven Hauschka was 2-of-2 on field goals and didn't allow a return on all four kickoffs. It was a perfect effort from the Seahawks kicker.
John Ryan: A
John Ryan had a booming 69-yard punt that didn't need any bounce or roll to get that distance. Throw in dropping one inside the 20 and a 49.5 average and you have a good day at the office for any punter.
Clint Gresham: A
Long snappers never get any respect, but that ends here. His snaps were perfect, which is all we can expect.
Coverage Team: B+
It is hard to grade the coverage teams when there was only two punt returns and no kick returns. They gave up a 10-yard punt return, otherwise this grade would be higher.
Return Team: A
Tate had a good day returning punts, including a 12-yard average on four returns. There was clearly some good blocking going on from the return team.