CARSON, Calif. — Looking to build off of an encouraging single possession in last week's preseason opener, the Seahawks' No. 1 offense took the field at the StubHub Center Saturday night and immediately looked like a unit that was again poised to march down the field and score an opening touchdown.
On the first play, a well-protected Russell Wilson dropped back and hit Jaron Brown for a 29-yard gain, a play that moved Seattle all the way to the Los Angeles 31-yard line after a penalty on a Chargers defender for lowering his head to initiate contact. Chris Carson scampered for 8 yards on the next play, and three plays into the drive, Carson broke a tackle and ran into the end zone for an apparent 23-yard score. That play came back, however, thanks to a block-in-the-back call on Will Dissly, and following that penalty, the Seahawks were unable to gain another first down and had to settle for a 33-yard Jason Myers field goal.
In a lot of ways, that drive was a microcosm of the evening for Seattle's starting offense in an eventual 24-14 preseason loss to the Chargers. Wilson and the No. 1 offense moved the ball well on each of its first three possessions, but only came away with six points after settling for field goals on two drives, then having Carson fumble at the goal line on the other possession.
"The lessons are so obvious," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. "We got down in the red zone, we take a couple field goals when we're right down the field, then we give the ball up inside the 1, which is a horrible thing to do. Then they wind up with the ball at the 20, it couldn't be worse. So the opportunities to score are just totally there. I loved way we moved the ball with the first group in the first half. They were confident and playing fast and doing things like we want them to do, guys were catching balls and making plays. We saw some guys really jump off the film, Jaron Brown had a couple nice plays, David Moore had a couple beautiful plays. Chris ran the ball really well, but it gets clouded because he gave the ball up inside of the 1. Guys up front did a nice job, so there's a lot of good things. But when you don't knock the ball in, it's hard. These guys happened to be a year ago the best red-zone defense in the NFL, and you can see why; they were hard. They do a nice job down there, and they kept us out just kind of like they were hoping to."
Red zone struggles notwithstanding, there were things to like, including another strong showing by Wilson, more big plays by receivers, and mostly solid pass protection, minus some trouble containing Pro-Bowl defensive end Melvin Ingram. Carson also showed more good things outside of that costly turnover. Overall, the starting offense produced five explosive plays in the first two quarters.
"I thought we moved the ball really, really well from the get-go," Wilson said. "The first play we had a big play—Jaron had a great game, he looked really good. Second play, we did pretty good there, then third play of the game we scored, but we had the penalty, which we can't have. In the red zone we've got to stay on schedule, that's the lesson learned from tonight. But the great thing is, really the score should have been 21-7 the first three drives. We had three touchdown opportunities. That's what we look forward to, we go to the truth of what we did and where we can get better, and I think how our tempo was really good. After that, we were backed up a little bit, we were fighting the down and distance a little bit there."
While Wilson obviously wishes he and the offense had actually made it 21-7 instead of being a couple of plays away from that, Saturday only reinforced what he has seen overall from the offense under new coordinator Brian Schottenheimer and offensive line coach Mike Solari.
"I really, really like what we're doing," Wilson said. "I think coach Mike Solari is doing a great job with the offensive line, and I think coach Schottenheimer is dialing up the play—you guys saw how fast we were moving the ball up and down the field. You're talking about one play here, one play there and the score is 21-7 against a really good football team… I feel really confident about who we have and what we're doing."
There were plenty of positives, but in the end, the Seahawks lost in part because of missed opportunities in the red zone, something they know they have to clean up.
"We go back to work," Carroll said. "We've got to keep learning the lessons, and we've got to cash in. Really both games have been similar. We got the ball down there and we needed those touchdowns. We need to get better there."
Game action photos from the Seahawks' second preseason game of 2018 against the Chargers in Los Angeles.