Coming off of a disappointing Week 1 loss to the Rams, the Seattle Seahawks overtime win against the Detroit Lions in Week 2 was extremely important. The Seahawks offense was much more competent than against the Rams. This was the case despite Seattle missing their starting offensive tackles, Abraham Lucas and Charles Cross.
Seattle offensive coordinator Shane Waldron adjusted well to this, coming out in heavy tight-end sets to help chip Detroit's star edge rusher, Aiden Hutchinson. This led to mostly clean pockets for Geno Smith which would give him the opportunity to carve up the Lions secondary. Smith saw his opportunity and ran with it, throwing 32/41, 328 passing yards, and 2 touchdowns.
This was a huge momentum swing for the Seahawks and their season, and showed that it's not time to give up on Seattle yet. But the question they'll have to answer this week is can they sustain it? This week they'll face edge rusher Brian Burns and the 0-2 Carolina Panthers, who'll be missing their rookie quarterback and number 1 overall draft pick, Bryce Young, due to an ankle injury.
Seattle Seahawks priorities in Week 3 versus the Carolina Panthers
Priority No. 1 - Seattle must slow down Carolina's run game
Although you wouldn't think of them as one of the premier running games in the league, the Panthers are a top 10 rushing offense in the NFL through two weeks, averaging 127 rushing yards a game.
This was a problem for the Seahawks in their last meeting with Carolina in 2022. Seattle would drop a crucial late-season game to them after the Panthers would have 328 yards of total offense - 223 of those yards coming on the ground. They're going to be physical up front all game, just as they were last season. Especially now that it seems Bryce Young won't be available for them.
This shouldn't be too unfamiliar to Seattle, who played a very talented offensive line in Detroit and held their own. So if they're able to play similarly this week against the run, that'll be a huge first step in the right direction. Slowing down the run is just the first part, priority number two may perhaps be the most important one though.
Priority No. 2 - Seahawks D needs to get off the field on third down
This has been a lingering issue for the Seahawks for quite some time now, some would say since the Legion of Boom days even. Seattle just hasn't had the edge rushers nor the secondary play to do it somewhat consistently since then.
But this goes hand and hand with slowing down the run game. If Seattle can get it to 3rd and medium or more, and make Andy Dalton throw past the sticks, it would give them a huge boost. Dalton's a well-respected quarterback who's started a lot of games in the NFL. The "Red Rocket" played for the Bengals for nine years out of his 12 in the NFL, leading them to the playoffs five years in a row during that stretch.
But that was Dalton from a few years ago, at the end of the day, the Bengals decided to move on for a reason. Same with the 3 other teams he'd go on to play for after his release from Cincinnati, including the Bears, Cowboys, and Saints. In Dalton's last appearance as a starter for New Orleans last year, he played solid but was very limited. He couldn't create out of structure and needed weapons around him, and he had that in Chris Olave, Juwan Johnson, and Alvin Kamara. But this Panthers team doesn't offer the same support, as they'll be rolling out Miles Sanders, Adam Thielen, and Hayden Hurst. So the Seattle secondary should be able to match up well.
Priority No. 3 - Seahawks must slow down Brian Burns
We've seen what happens already this season when teams don't account for Brian Burns. In Week 1, he had two sacks and one forced fumble against the Falcons, showing he dominant he can be.
The former first round pick in 2019 has been a fantastic player for the Panthers up to this season. He's coming off a career year in 2022 in which he had 12.5 sacks, and is already on pace for 17 this season. Burns cemented himslef firmly into that 2nd tier of edge rushers, that features guys like Danielle Hunter, Hassan Reddick, and Rashan Gary.
Seattle has to be locked in on him offensively, especially with it seeming like Charles Cross isn't gonna be ready by Sunday. Stone Forsyth and Jake Curhan played solidly last week against Aiden Hutchinson and company so that success will have to continue Sunday if they want to have an effective game plan offensively. They'll likely look to help these tackles by chipping Burns or just straight-up double-teaming him, which will help neutralize the ascending edge rusher.