It's a different week but a similar story for the Seattle Seahawks.
Seattle fell to 0-2 in Chicago on Monday night with a 24-17 loss to the Bears. A defense riddled with injuries did an admirable job, holding the Bears to just 17 offensive points despite missing Bobby Wagner, K.J. Wright, Tre Flowers and Tom Johnson (who was cut in a roster crunch on Saturday).
And yet, the offense, which was only missing Doug Baldwin and D.J. Fluker in the starting lineup, appeared at times as though they'd never even practiced together. Russell Wilson was sacked six times and Seattle was limited to just 80 yards of offense through the first three quarters of the game.
As was the case in the latter stages of last season when Wagner, Wright, Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor and Cliff Avril were either missing or limited due to injuries, the onus was put on the offense to step up.
They fell flat on their face in Chicago.
Here are the takeaways from Seattle's 24-17 loss to the Bears:
1. Russell Wilson isn't playing to his standards.
Wilson has said he wants to be one of the best to ever play the game at quarterback. It's a phrase we keep bringing up here because it's the standard Wilson holds himself to first and foremost.
The way Wilson is playing right now is not good enough for this current iteration of the Seahawks to succeed.
Wilson was sacked six times for the second consecutive week. While it's difficult to truly ascertain from the TV broadcast the circumstances of all six of those sacks, the recurring theme is that Wilson is just not throwing the football on time. He's holding the ball too long and it's putting his offensive line in difficult positions at times, particularly when Von Miller and Khalil Mack are on the other team.
Wilson made a couple really nice throws to Tyler Lockett on their first drive of the fourth quarter. A floating pass to Lockett on a crosser when moving toward the line of scrimmage was textbook Wilson. His 19-yard touchdown to Lockett was a tremendous throw as well to the back corner of the end zone.
But Seattle's offense has struggled to get things rolling early in games for much longer than just the first two games of this season. Wilson led the league with 34 touchdowns last year, but 26 of those touchdowns came in the second half with 19 coming in the fourth quarter. Both of Wilson's touchdowns in Chicago Monday night were fourth quarter throws with the team trailing by two touchdowns.
Wilson - and the offense as a whole - is just not producing enough, particularly early in games. This was a unit that was mostly intact outside of the obviously important absence of Baldwin. But Wilson is too good of a quarterback for the offense to look as broken as it did for a substantial portion of Monday night's game.
Just to be clear, the problem with Seattle's offense isn't Russell Wilson. It's a collective shortcoming. However, Wilson is part of the problems. He's not just a passenger along for the ride.
2. So much for the commitment to the run idea.
At some point, Pete Carroll and the Seahawks need to walk the walk when discussing the running game.
For two seasons running now, Seattle has talked about how they need to get back to running the ball and how important it is to them to be able to run the ball effectively. And yet, the running game just disappears all too often. Monday night was just another example.
After running the ball just 14 times on 55 offensive plays against Denver in Week 1, Seattle ran just 19 run plays with its running backs on 64 offensive plays Monday night. Chris Carson carried on each of the first three plays of the game as well, meaning Seattle ran in just 16 times on the remaining 61 plays of the night. Between the 8:11 mark in the second quarter when Rashaad Penny ran for no gain and the 14:15 mark of the fourth quarter, the Seahawks ran 14 consecutive passing plays before getting a 10-yard rush from Penny on their first offensive play of the fourth quarter.
Carroll said "not good enough" last week when asked about only running the ball 14 times against Denver. He cited the fact they were just 2 of 12 on third downs and the offense's inability to stay on the field as a big reason why. Seattle was just 5 of 13 on third down against Chicago, so that narrative probably carries over a bit as well.
But at some point, the coaches can call any play they want at any time. They had 17 first downs tonight, giving them a chance to make whatever call they want (with clock playing a factor late in each half). And yet, the commitment to the run they stressed all offseason just isn't showing up for one reason or another.
3. Shaquill Griffin is starting to become a very good cornerback.
Griffin started the game Monday night despite a hamstring issue that kept him limited in practice last week. But despite the issue, Griffin looked like a top-tier cornerback against Chicago.
Griffin intercepted Mitchell Trubisky twice on the night. He had just one interception as a rookie last season. And while the interceptions were big plays, they weren't the only reason to be excited about Griffin's outing.
He had tight coverage throughout the night and was a sure tackler in situations where a receiver did make a catch in front of him.
Griffin made a leaping pick on a ball underthrown by Trubisky toward Allen Robinson and then picked off a deflected pass at the line of scrimmage by Bradley McDougald that caromed into the sky with Griffin getting his hands underneath the falling ball.
Given the turnover in Seattle's defense and the uncertain future of Earl Thomas with the team, Griffin emerging as a top flight cornerback could be a big revelation for the Seahawks this season.
4. Seahawks defense did its job all things considered.
Speaking of that defense, it handled it's business more than adequately Monday night.
They forced two turnovers, limited the Bears to just 17 offensive points and managed to do it without some of its best players on the field.
Austin Calitro was making his first start at middle linebacker. Mychal Kendricks was signed just a handful of days ago and started at weakside linebacker. Akeem King was starting in place of Tre Flowers. And yet, the Bears gained just 271 yards of offense and only 86 yards rushing on the night - most of which came on scrambles by Trubisky.
While no one is going to confuse the Bears' offense with the 2007 New England Patriots or 2013 Denver Broncos, the defense did its part to give the Seahawks a chance to win. And they did so at far from full strength. The offense didn't hold up its end of the bargain.
5. The Chris Carson disappearing act in the second half was beyond puzzling.
This goes in conjunction with the earlier point about the lack of the rushing attack. For Chris Carson to only get six carries in the game - with none in the second half - is a major headscratcher.
Oh, and all six of those carries came in the first 18 minutes of the game. He didn't get a carry after the 11:51 mark of the second quarter.
Carson was perhaps the team's most impressive offensive player during the preseason. He looked the part in practices and games and drew frequent praise from Carroll and his teammates for the job he was doing. He only has 13 carries through two weeks of the NFL season. It doesn't seem to make sense.
"He was a little gassed from working on special teams and helping us," Carroll said. "We had some guys that were out so he had to kind of double dip, and we really wanted to see how we could do with Rashaad and get him some playing time and get him out there."
While Carroll is correct that Carson did play a couple snaps of punt coverage, it seems unlikely those two plays would have impacted him so heavily. By my count, Carson played just 19 (maybe 20) snaps in total during the entire game. That includes the couple plays of special teams. That's total plays.
Carson didn't get a single snap in the fourth quarter of Rashaad Penny, Mike Davis and C.J. Prosise got the reps instead.
It doesn't seem that 20 plays of an NFL game would be enough to completely deplete the energy stores of the type of athlete Carson is. Especially since he wasn't getting a large workload of carries where he's fighting at full speed against opposing defenders.
Carroll said there was nothing about Carson's play that kept him off the field.
"There was nothing about his play that kept him out of there," Carroll said. "We just didn't get enough chances and I wanted to get Rashaad going a little bit and see where he is and see where he is in his development."
The explanation doesn't seem to line up with the situation as it unfolded on Monday night. He's gained 75 yards on 13 carries through two games and is averaging 5.8 yards per carry. He's been Seattle's most effective running back. To not touch the ball in the entire second half seems quite strange.
Photo Credit: CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 17: Quarterback Russell Wilson #3 of the Seattle Seahawks carries the football in the first half against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field on September 17, 2018 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images)