CHICAGO -- When the Seattle Seahawks retooled their star-studded defense this offseason, saying goodbye to a handful of franchise greats, the strength of their team shifted to the other side of the ball.
For the first time in years, the offense -- led by a Super Bowl-winning, MVP-candidate quarterback in Russell Wilson and a rebuilt running game -- was the unit that could keep the team in games the way the Legion of Boom did so well for so many years.
Or so everyone thought.
Hope is far from lost for Wilson and Co. Not after two games. Not in a league where so much can change so quickly. But it isn't as easy to picture this as a group that can carry the Seahawks after its clunker of a performance in a 24-17 loss to the Chicago Bears on Monday night.
Wilson was playing without his top target in receiver Doug Baldwin, out due to an MCL injury. But Baldwin's absence alone hardly explains the ugly totals: 276 yards of total offense, 5 of 13 on third down and another six sacks allowed.
“Gotta watch the film. I don’t know everything that happened,” left tackle Duane Brown said, “but we’re capable of a lot more.”
The loss would have been far more lopsided if not for the Seahawks' defense, especially Shaquill Griffin. The second-year cornerback picked off Mitchell Trubisky on consecutive possessions in the first half. That group resembled one you'd see in August thanks to so many unfamiliar names in starting roles due to injuries. It did about as well as anyone could have expected it to without linebackers Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright -- two of Seattle's best remaining defensive players -- as well as a third starter in cornerback Tre Flowers.
“Those guys did a nice job,” he said. “We [had] a good night on defense and we really gave ourselves a chance with a couple of turnovers.”
But Seattle's offense went three-and-out after both of Griffin's interceptions and finished with all of 79 yards and three points at halftime. It was that kind of night, and it was pretty much over when Wilson threw a pick-six and then lost a fumble on a strip-sack on back-to-back possessions in the fourth quarter.
Seattle’s six sacks allowed brings the two-week total to 12. According to ESPN Stats & Information, Wilson became the first quarterback to be sacked at least 11 times in his first two games since Chad Henne (13) in 2014.
Yes, Seattle's offensive line predictably had its hands full with Khalil Mack and a very good Bears defensive front, but Wilson again held onto the ball too long at times, something he admitted to doing last week when he took the blame for three of Seattle's five sacks.
“We’re not … right yet as well as we need to be," Carroll said of the pass-protection. "We’ve seen some fantastic rushers and we have not been able to keep them from being effective. The last two guys we saw [Mack and Von Miller] might be the two best guys we see all year long. I don’t know, but we’re going to grow from that and get better.”
You don't need to be a football expert to credibly question Seattle's playcalling, specifically the way the Seahawks haven’t made much of an attempt to run the ball through two games even though their stated intention was to revive that part of their offense. Brian Schottenheimer talked this week about needing to do a better job of sticking with the run after he called only 14 plays last week that had Wilson handing off to a tailback. That never materialized. Running backs Chris Carson, Rashaad Penny and Mike Davis combined for 19 carries in all and only eight through three quarters.
The Seahawks are left with serious questions about protecting Wilson, finding playmakers beyond Baldwin and playcalling to go along with their 0-2 start.
Carroll said there’s a good chance Seattle will get Wagner, Wright and cornerback Tre Flowers back for Sunday’s home opener against the Dallas Cowboys, though he sounded less certain about Baldwin.
September is too early for talk of must-win games, but that almost feels like one.
"Very difficult night to take after last week and this week because we ain't used to this,” Carroll said.
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