Another sluggish Seahawks opener brings up old questions

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Bettina Hansen/TNS Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers recovers his own fumble in the first half against the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday, Sept. 10, 2017 at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis.

RENTON, Wash. (AP) — It took just a few minutes of the season opener against Green Bay for preseason fears about the Seattle Seahawks’ offensive line and its ability to protect quarterback Russell Wilson to re-emerge as legitimate concerns.

There wasn’t much that Seattle’s offensive line dealt with well in the 17-9 loss to the Packers. It continued a trend of lackluster season-opening performances in recent seasons, although not all of them have been losses. Seattle is 3-3 in its past six season openers and has scored 16 points or less in four of those.

But Sunday’s loss to the Packers revived all the concerns about the offensive line that Seattle had tried to downplay. Tackles Rees Odhiambo and Germain Ifedi struggled to keep pressure off Wilson from the edges, while Green Bay’s Mike Daniels was a problem for the interior of the line.

Wilson was sacked three times, hit seven times and only when Seattle went with its hurry-up offense did the Seahawks find a rhythm. Seattle finished with 225 total yards and was 3 of 12 on third downs.

“Right out of the chutes we missed a couple of opportunities to do things and made a couple of mistakes, errors that we had,” Seattle coach Pete Carroll said Monday. “And then also I would give it to Daniels, he played a heck of a football game and gave us some problems. We didn’t deal with him as well as we thought we would.”

Carroll was far from panicking. But he clearly wasn’t pleased with the performance.

“I’m disappointed that we are talking about that today,” Carroll said. “I thought that we were moving in the right direction. I’ve seen us move in the right direction, but in this game we weren’t as sharp.”

The offensive line wasn’t the only unit struggling on that side of the ball.

Wilson missed a few open throws and tight end Jimmy Graham had an underwhelming performance. Graham was targeted seven times but made just three catches for 8 yards and had a critical third-down drop early in the fourth quarter.

“It wasn’t his best game. He’ll do better. He was really disappointed on the ball that got away from him on the sideline,” Carroll said.

While Carroll spent part of Monday trying to figure out ways to help the underperforming offense, he was also having conversations with the league about what led to the ejection of Jeremy Lane in the first quarter after he was deemed to have thrown a punch. No television replays showed a punch being thrown but rather Lane putting his arm on Davante Adams’ facemask after the pair tussled.

Carroll said he agreed with the analysis from the TV broadcast that the punishment was harsh.

“We have talked with the league and ... I agree with the way the guys on television saw it,” he said.

The opener also proved that Seattle’s defense should be every bit as good as expected.

The Packers were held scoreless in the first half and one of the two touchdowns the Seahawks allowed came after Wilson fumbled at his own 6-yard line.

Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers threw for 311 yards, but Seattle was able to sack him four times. Newcomer Sheldon Richardson provided the kind of disruption Seattle hoped for from the interior of the defensive line and rookie Shaq Griffin played well after being thrust into a more prominent role after Lane’s ejection.

“To hold that group down and not really let them take the ball down the field and score ... they did a good job running, and hitting and covered well,” Carroll said.

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