The Seattle Seahawks have opened their 2021 season with a 28-16 win on the road over the Indianapolis Colts.
The game couldn't have gone much smoother for the Seahawks. The new offense under offensive coordinator Shane Waldron already looked like a well-oiled machine. Russell Wilson looked supremely comfortable and in charge of the new attack en route to throwing four touchdown passes on the day. The defense also caused plenty of havoc in the backfield for Colts quarterback Carson Wentz as he was under siege from Seattle's defensive line throughout the game.
“We got our ass kicked," Colts linebacker Darius Leonard said.
It wasn't a perfect outing by any stretch, but given how many starters didn't play a single down during the preseason it was a first look at the full team that provided many positives moving forward to the Tennessee Titans next weekend.
Here's a look at the takeaways from the season opening win in Indianapolis:
-- Russell Wilson plays a brilliantly controlled, explosive game.
Given how much the offense struggled at the end of last season and the decision to change offensive coordinator by head coach Pete Carroll, the focus heading into the Colts game was going to be squarely what the new offense looked like with Wilson at the helm and Shane Waldron calling plays.
The first chapter was a roaring success.
Wilson completed 18 of 23 passes for 254 yards and four touchdowns as the offense sliced its way through the Colts defense. Chris Carson was effective on the ground, too, with 91 yards on 16 carries. The passing attack was beautifully diverse with tight end screens, jet sweeps, short throws and deep shots all married together.
"I think what we showed is that it doesn't matter who gets the ball. We're gonna feed whoever and however, based off of what it is that a defense chooses to give us, we're not going to force the ball to anybody," wide receiver Tyler Lockett said.
Lockett caught two touchdowns from Wilson as part of his 100-yard receiving day. Lockett made a tremendous adjustment to find and catch a ball from Wilson for a 23-yard touchdown against an all-out blitz by the Colts. Then late in the first half, Lockett turned around safety Khari Ellis on a corner-post route for a 69-yard touchdown as Seattle took a 21-10 lead into halftime.
DK Metcalf and Gerald Everett each added touchdowns as well. Wilson's 152.3 passer rating in the second-highest performance of his career behind only a 2018 victory over the Detroit Lions where he hit the maximum of 158.3. It marked the 11th time in Wilson's career that he's thrown four touchdowns with no interceptions. That's the most by a player in his first 10 seasons in NFL history, surpassing Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers and Peyton Manning, who all had 10 such games.
"Russell played fantastic football today. He got terrific help from his guys catching the football and the pass protection was really solid as well," head coach Pete Carroll said.
"But really, the day to me really goes to Shane (Waldron). ... Really proud of what he was able to do."
Wilson, Carson, Lockett, Metcalf, Duane Brown and Gabe Jackson all did not play at all during the preseason for Seattle. Sunday's outing in Indianapolis was the first real chance to get a sense for what the offense would look like. And there was an awful lot to like.
-- Seahawks defensive line looks full of potential.
The Seahawks defensive line absolutely bullied the front of the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday.
They were credited with three official sacks, though Carlos Dunlap picked up another on a failed two-point conversion. Wentz dropped to pass 41 times for the Colts on Sunday. He was hit 10 times with four sacks (if you included Dunlap's).
That's a big day of pressure for the Seattle defense.
"I thought we felt our pass rush much more than we have," Carroll said.
Darrell Taylor showed up in his first game for the team after missing all of his rookie season working back from leg surgery. Taylor had two hits on Wentz, including a sack on fourth-and-2 from the Seahawks' 18-yard line with 10 minutes left to play. The sack effectively ended the Colts chances of getting back in the contest.
"He had a number of rushers. You could see. You get him with the 12's, he's going to be the 12's best friend now," Carroll said. "When they can get to roaring on third down, on the passing downs, and give him the chance to get off, you can see how explosive he is coming off the football. He's going to have some big games. He's going to have some big games where it will be really hard for people to match him up. So I'm excited about that. It showed."
Taylor, Rasheem Green, Benson Mayowa, and Dunlap all were able to sack Wentz during the game. Dunlap's doesn't officially count because it just goes as a failed two-point conversion.
The Colts rushing attack produced 113 total yards on the ground. However, both Jonathan Taylor and Nyheim Hines were held under four yards per carry.
Really encouraging start for the defensive line.
-- Offensive line has a very solid first outing.
The offensive line wasn't bad either.
As noted earlier, neither Brown or Jackson played at all during the preseason. And yet, the group came together to give Wilson plenty of time to work and helped pave the way for Carson in the running game.
Wilson was officially sacked four times. However, two of those aren't anything to read into. Wilson took a short sack instead of throwing the ball ahead after breaking outside the pocket. Wilson also took another sack late to keep the clock running. Neither was a reflection on the offensive line.
"The line did a tremendous job giving me enough time to make some throws and some really special things that guys were doing," Wilson said.
Take Wilson's second touchdown pass to Lockett as an example:
The Seahawks rotated Kyle Fuller and Ethan Pocic at center until Pocic sustained a knee sprain in the second half and exited the game. That was one of a couple ongoing position battles Seattle continued on Sunday as Ugo Amadi and Marquise Blair split time at nickel cornerback and Jordyn Brooks and Cody Barton rotated at linebacker.
The Colts were a top 10 defense last season and the Seahawks had no issues protecting Wilson, opening holes for Carson, or finding the end zone.
Strong opening effort.
-- If cornerback is an issue, it didn't get tested much on Sunday.
The state of the cornerback position for the Seahawks should remain a bit uncertain given the sheet amount of moves the team has made to augment the group over the last few weeks.
But if the position group is a problem, it didn't get the chance to show itself on Sunday.
Wentz and the Colts didn't pose much of a threat with their wide receivers in the passing game. Their top two receivers in the game were both running backs as Taylor caught six passes for 60 yards and Hines caught six passes for 48 yards. Their top producing wide receiver was Zach Pascal, who caught four passes for 43 yards with two touchdowns.
T.Y. Hilton didn't play. J.J. Nelson didn't play. Pascal, Parris Campbell, Michael Pittman and Mike Strachan did not present a significant challenge to Seattle's pass coverage units. A.J. Brown, Julio Jones and the Tennessee Titans would seemingly provide a much sterner test next weekend.
The cornerback spot could still be a problem for the Seahawks. It wasn't tested much in Indianapolis.
Photo Credit: INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA - SEPTEMBER 12: Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Tyler Lockett #16 makes a 69 yard touchdown reception against the Indianapolis Colts during the second quarter at Lucas Oil Stadium on September 12, 2021 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images)