Russell Wilson, Seahawks Cook Falcons in Convincing Week 1 Victory
Historically, under Pete Carroll, the Seahawks have been notoriously slow starters, particularly when opening the season on the road. In fact, they hadn't won in Week 1 at another team's stadium since an ugly win against the Panthers way back in 2013.
But Seattle put those past struggles to bed to kick off the 2020 season, roaring out to a 14-3 lead in the first quarter and using another third quarter surge to put away the Falcons for a convincing 31-25 season-opening win.
Five quick takeaways from the Seahawks rousing Week 1 victory:
The Russell Wilson MVP tour is off to a roaring start...
All offseason long, fans have been longing for the Seahawks to allow Wilson to put on his chef hat and cook. For at least one afternoon, Carroll and offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer let him do just that, as the All-Pro quarterback came out throwing quickly and diced up the Falcons by completing 31 of 35 passes for 322 yards and four touchdowns. Two of those went to Chris Carson out of the backfield, while Greg Olsen found the end zone for the first time in the second half as the Seahawks pulled away. Whether in the pocket or off platform escaping rushers off the edge, Atlanta simply had no answer for him, and he looked every bit like an MVP front-runner as Seattle scored the most points in a road opener since 2003.
And so may the Jamal Adams DPOY tour as well...
For anyone still wondering if Adams was worth the price tag of two first-round picks, maybe the Seahawks should send over a third after his spectacular debut. Finishing with a team-best 12 tackles, two quarterback hits, two tackles for loss and a sack, the stats don't even paint a picture of how impactful the former LSU star was on Sunday. He seemed to be in on every play and his presence as a dynamic chess piece playing all over the formation dramatically altered what the Falcons were able to do offensively. If he bottles that up and plays at that level throughout the season, he will be in the running for Defensive Player of the Year honors.
Fourth downs proved to be a huge story line in this contest.
If there's one stat that could have altered the final outcome of this lopsided game, it would be the fourth down success for each respective team. The Falcons failed on all four of their fourth down attempts, starting with Benson Mayowa swatting away a pass from Matt Ryan at the line of scrimmage. Later on their third attempt, Mayowa ran down Ryan from behind for his first sack of the season and the quarterback misfired on a fourth quarter attempt to Calvin Ridley. Those misses may have cost Atlanta at least nine points, if not more, and gave the Seahawks great field position to start drives. Then on a fake punt attempt, Sharrod Neasman fumbled after getting hit by Marquise Blair and the Seahawks recovered, setting up another score. Meanwhile, on the flip side, Wilson found DK Metcalf for a 38-yard touchdown on a fourth-and-5 attempt in the third quarter, helping blow the game open.
As expected, Seattle's offensive line and secondary remain works in progress.
With the way the Seahawks were humming offensively, a handful of penalties against the offensive line and three sacks surrendered are forgivable. But the group definitely has a ways to go, particularly on the right side as Brandon Shell had his share of struggles in pass protection and the Falcons found success with stunt games to that side with Grady Jarrett and Takk McKinley. As for the secondary, while Adams had a fantastic day, he did run into Shaquill Griffin on a man coverage assignment, allowing Ridley to be wide open in the end zone for a touchdown. Quinton Dunbar endured his own struggles in coverage, allowing several first down receptions and dropping a gimme interception in the second half. After allowing Julio Jones and Ridley to surpass 100 receiving yards on the afternoon, the unit should continue to get better as they get more snaps together under their belts.
While the pass rush must find consistency, there were flashes at key moments.
For much of the game, Ryan had time in the pocket to find open receivers, allowing those questions about whether the Seattle front four will be able to create pressure to persist. But there were some encouraging developments in the opener, starting with L.J. Collier. The second-year defensive end hit Ryan on the opening drive as the Falcons were threatening, leading to an intentional grounding penalty that forced the home team to settle for a field goal. He recorded another key pressure later in the game, while Mayowa impressed in his first game back with Seattle with the two key fourth down plays. Finding consistency remains imperative for the defensive line, but Carroll's group does have something to build off of moving forward.