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The Seahawks’ Offensive Line Intimidates No One

And if they don’t find a fix, the unit will sink a Super Bowl contender before its season gets off the ground

NFL: San Francisco 49ers at Seattle Seahawks Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

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It took over seven quarters for Seattle to score a touchdown this season. The Seahawks didn’t get one until the clock showed just 7:06 left in the fourth quarter of Week 2—and they missed the extra point, a fitting result for what has become a floundering offense.

The Seahawks beat the 49ers 12-9 on Sunday, but a 3-point victory over a team that had the second-worst record in football last year is a flat out failure for a team with Super Bowl aspirations.

It’s the second week in a row Seattle has looked inept on offense. In Week 1, Packers defensive tackle Mike Daniels and the rest of the Green Bay defensive line manhandled the Seahawks offensive line, and Seattle lost, 17-9. You’d think Seattle could improve on that against the lowly 49ers, but this game looked like a matchup between two of the worst offenses in football.

Seattle eventually got its first TD of the season, but even that play required Russell Wilson dodging potential sacks from three different players before finding receiver Paul Richardson in the end zone. (According to head coach Pete Carroll, Richardson suffered a compound fracture in his finger earlier in the game that was sewn up before re-entering in time for the game-winning touchdown, so props to him.)

Everywhere else in the league, a quarterback Houdini-ing out of the pocket is a broken play. In Seattle, it’s the game plan. When Wilson isn’t using his legs to scramble and extend the play, the offense is absolutely rudderless. Toss in some crushing drops from his receivers and Wilson frequently overthrowing guys as he runs for his life, and the plays where Wilson, the offensive line, and the receivers all come into sync feel as rare as a solar eclipse—don’t look away, because you might not see it again until 2024.

Despite the abysmal blocking, there were some bright spots for the offense. The Seahawks didn’t turn the ball over, which is promising in a game where one turnover could have been enough to lose to the rebuilding 49ers (maybe that’s not so bright after all). Rookie running back Chris Carson out of Oklahoma State seized the lead running back role on Sunday, rushing for 93 yards on 20 carries, dwarfing Thomas Rawls’s five carries for a paltry 4 yards. (Eddie Lacy, who was brought in this offseason, was inactive.) Carson looked nimble as he turned a lot of nothing runs into something runs with quick cuts and a good burst. In a backfield with a lot of uninspiring options, Carson maximized what his offensive line offered him and appears to have won the job for now.

After Carson, the Seahawks best runner was Wilson, who rushed 12 times for 34 yards while completing 23 of 39 for 198 yards and the touchdown. But the 49ers punished Wilson, sacking him thrice and hitting him 10 times, a few of which just looked painful. The Seahawks offense depends on Wilson’s mobility, and if he continues to absorb double-digit hits every game, he’s risking an injury that could sap his elusiveness. In 2016, Wilson injured his ankle in Week 1, and his lack of mobility seemed to hamper the offense for the entire season. The team is at risk of something similar happening this year, as there’s no way for Seattle to consistently string drives together without Wilson putting his body on the line.

Seattle is one of the many teams this season suffering from terrible offensive line play, but it’s one of the few where every piece outside of its offensive line is good enough to win the Super Bowl. (I’m looking at you, Giants.) Russell Wilson is great at scrambling, but he can’t outrun Seattle’s problems forever.