The Andy Dalton-led Carolina Panthers are set to take on the 1-1 Seattle Seahawks in Seattle this Sunday afternoon. Bryce Young’s ankle injury looms large over the contest, but the problems that plagued him (playcalling, receivers) will also be on Dalton’s plate. I spoke with John Gilbert of Field Gulls this week to get a better sense of the 2023 Seahawks and see how these teams might match up. Read on to find out about Seattle’s woes at offensive tackle, their vulnerable pass defense, and more.
The Panthers are likely starting backup quarterback Andy Dalton this week, who has had some success against the Seahawks in the past. The Seahawk’s pass defense left a lot to be desired against the Detroit Lions last week. What is your prediction for how the passing game will balance out this week?
The Seattle secondary is chocked full of talent and upside potential, from Pro Bowl safety Quandre Diggs to fifth overall pick Devon Witherspoon and 2022 defensive rookie of the year contender Riq Woolen. Unfortunately, between an offseason injury to Woolen, a training camp injury to Witherspoon and various other factors, the group simply has not had enough practice time together in order to come together and perform as a single unit, rather than as five (or six when Artie Burns comes in as the sixth defensive back in dime packages) individuals. I expect them to gel and improve as the season goes along, but in reality likely the biggest factor playing into their performance this week will be the level of competition faced in the Panthers receiving group.
Seattle’s offensive tackles have been struggling to get on the field this season. What’s the expected starting lineup for the Seahawks this week and is Brian Burns going to be happy about it?
Right tackle Abe Lucas is on injured reserve, so Jake Curhan is certain to start at right tackle. On the left side starter Charles Cross has yet to practice this week, so it would seem likely that Stone Forsythe will get the third start of his career after performing very well in Week 2 against the Lions. One of the biggest factors that helped the tackles in Week 2 was that the Seahawks went away from constantly looking to hit the deep ball, with the longest completion to a wide receiver going for just 18 yards. It would be shocking if Shane Waldron and the offense did not try to replicate that strategy in Week 3 against the Panthers.
With DK Metcalf limited and possibly out this weekend, who is catching passes opposite Tyler Lockett? Geno Smith will need to get the ball out quickly against the Panthers pass rush, does that play to the strengths of the remainder of Seattle’s receiving corps?
DK has developed a reputation as a hothead and lacking maturity, but there is zero questioning his toughness and it would be a surprise if he is not on the field. First round pick Jaxon Smith-Njigba seemed far more comfortable in Week 2 after surgery to repair a broken bone in his wrist during training camp, and the tight ends remain threats to pick apart zones, particularly Noah Fant and Colby Parkinson who have the speed to do damage after making the catch. In short, there is no shortage of available receiving targets, and the bigger issue could be whether there is a shortage of time for Geno Smith to get the ball to his targets, as both starting guards, Damien Lewis and Phil Haynes, did not practice due to injuries on Thursday. That, in addition to the aforementioned health issues at tackle could be exacerbated by injury issues on the interior of the line as well.
Every question so far has been about an injury on either the Panthers or the Seahawks. What a stellar season we’re both having. Are there any other relevant storylines in Seattle this year that Panthers fans should know about?
Injuries have certainly been the big storyline early in the season, but one of the big things fans have been paying attention to is whether Geno Smith would continue to perform as he did in 2022. Week 1 had a lot of fans screaming that signing him to a three year contract had been a mistake and it was time to see what Drew Lock could do, while Week 2 certainly brought about the end of the majority of those calls for the backup. I don’t expect that to change much over the course of the season, especially if the defense continues to struggle and the team doesn’t put up the results fans want to see.
DraftKings Sportsbook has Seattle as touchdown favorites over the Panthers and Seahawks players make up the top three and five of the top seven odds on the Anytime TD Scorer prop. Basically, everybody expects this game to be all Seattle all the time. Do you agree with that sentiment?
Week 2 saw the offense get back on track after derailing in the second half of the opener against the Rams. The performance in the second half against Detroit on both sides of the ball was inspiring, and while there will certainly be struggles on defense as players continue to learn to play as a unit, playing against an offense that is less explosive than that of the Lions should certainly help. Add in what should be a very fired up crowd there to celebrate the 2013 Super Bowl championship team that is being honored at the game this weekend, and I will be somewhat surprised if the Seahawks don’t win in impressive fashion. Of course, Andy Dalton has performed very well against the Hawks in the past, including with the Saints in 2022 and the Bengals in 2015, but it just feels like the Panthers do not have the offensive weapons to hang with Seattle.