Early Struggles Push Seahawks to 0-2, but Now Isn't the Time to Panic

Curt Popejoy@@nfldraftboardContributor ISeptember 21, 2015

GREEN BAY, WI - SEPTEMBER 20:  Head coach Pete Carroll of the Seattle Seahawks looks on during the second half against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field on September 20, 2015 in Green Bay, Wisconsin.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

For most teams, falling to 0-2 to start an NFL season is a death wish for the playoffs. However, even after the Seattle Seahawks' 27-17 loss to the Green Bay Packers Sunday night, this is not the time to panic. Right now, things are at about DEFCON 4, so everyone just calm down. 

Sunday night’s game was the perfect storm for a Seahawks loss. It was clear this team was still physically and emotionally recovering from its Week 1 overtime loss to the St. Louis Rams. All you had to do was watch the Rams play Sunday and see the toll it took on them as well in a 24-10 loss to the Redskins. Following that loss up with a trip into a hostile environment like Lambeau Field was a recipe for doom.

However, losing two close, hard-fought games like this is far from the end of the world. As quarterback Russell Wilson said after the loss, you learn from these sorts of games and get better. 

Wilson: "Learning how to win these close games is what championship football is all about." #SEAvsGB #SNF

— Seattle Seahawks (@Seahawks) September 21, 2015

Nevertheless, there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic. Let’s break them down a bit, shall we?

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It’s the NFC West

Yes, the Arizona Cardinals are off to a 2-0 start, but the rest of the division is floundering. They pose no real long-term threat to Seattle even after the Seahawks' loss to the Rams. Struggles at quarterback and on the offensive line look to haunt that team all season.

The San Francisco 49ers look like the Jekyll and Hyde of the division, as they punished the Minnesota Vikings the first week of the season only to get blown out by the Pittsburgh Steelers the next. Assuming the Cardinals wane at some point in the season, this division still belongs to the team that has won it four of the last five years.

 

Jimmy Graham on a milk carton 

One of the most exciting acquisitions of the 2015 offseason was the addition of tight end Jimmy Graham. After all, the Seahawks had essentially won in spite of the talent at wide receiver and tight end, so an upgrade was needed.

And in getting Graham, quarterback Russell Wilson would have a truly elite target in the passing game. Graham had at least 85 receptions in each of the past four seasons with the New Orleans Saints. 

So it makes perfect sense that two games into his tenure in Seattle, he only has seven receptions. Sunday night, Graham had one. This is completely inexcusable. Graham is every bit the matchup nightmare any other player is in this league.

However, he’s never had to do as much run blocking as he’s being asked to in Seattle, nor has he had to make so many route adjustments to account for a scrambling quarterback.

However, all is not lost. At some point, head coach Pete Carroll will recognize what is obvious and make adjustments. No, he can’t make Wilson a pocket quarterback, but creating packages that play to the strengths of Graham is just good business. Former Washington quarterback Connor Halliday shared some insight on Twitter during Sunday night’s game.

I'm always apologetic towards players and coaches, but when you have Jimmy Graham on the team you need to at least try to get him the ball

— Connor Halliday (@c_halliday12) September 21, 2015

Still no Kam 

Mark me down as one who doesn’t buy into the notion that Seattle’s early struggles will force the hand of the franchise when it comes to offering safety Kam Chancellor a new contract. The situation is far from ideal, but this defense is deep.

I don’t expect any panic out of Seattle, but there’s no doubt this defense is better when Chancellor is on the field. And soon enough he will be. When Chancellor gets back, the Legion of Boom will be back in place, terrifying opposing offenses.

What will bring Chancellor back? When he gets tired of this happening, per Spotrac:

Kam Chancellor forfeits another $267,647 by holding out for the #Seahawks Week 2 game; 62% of Dion Bailey’s entire 2015 salary.

— Spotrac (@spotrac) September 21, 2015

Speaking of defense 

It is also worth noting that Seattle has a new defensive coordinator. And while Kris Richard isn’t new to the organization, he is new to the role of running an entire defense, so there will be some growing pains. Richard was the team’s defensive backs coach the past three seasons.

While no one should look for sweeping changes, even an internal move like this can create a learning curve. Once the defense and Richard are all on the same page, things will improve greatly.

So in the final analysis, there’s no reason to hit that panic button yet. In his postgame press conference, Carroll really played off the importance of this game and focused on how winnable the first two games were.

So while they were losses, it doesn't diminish the potential of this team. Carroll said, "We gotta get out of our own way," which tells me he feels like no matter what team the Seahawks are playing, if they don't beat themselves, they can win. That's exactly right.

An 0-3 start might be a different story. However, the Seahawks catch a break, as it is quite possible that when they take on the Chicago Bears at home next week, it will be Jimmy Clausen under center rather than Jay Cutler. A 1-2 record going into a Week 4 home game with the Detroit Lions lines up for a solid chance to finish the first quarter of the season at .500.