Had Doug Baldwin been in the stands of CenturyLink Field instead of playing on it last weekend, he may have joined in the booing early on.
No, the Seahawks’ No. 1 receiver wasn’t exactly fooled by his team’s blowout of the bumbling Bears. And Baldwin isn’t quite thrilled with his offense entering Monday night’s game against another winless visitor, Detroit.
"We’re not as efficient as we need to be," he said after reviewing game field with the team Tuesday, two days after Seattle’s first win of the season, 26-0 over winless, threat-less Chicago. "We are not moving the ball consistently. We have a lot of mental errors and mental mistakes that we need to correct. And we’re awful on third down right now."
Other than that, things are just dandy on the Seahawks’ offense according to the team’s go-to guy on third downs for years.
"We’re last in the league in third and 3 to 6 right now," Baldwin continued. "And we didn’t do too well … we had two mistakes on third and short (against Chicago) that we should’ve gotten."
Seattle was an almost inexplicable 1 for 3 on third down and 1 on Sunday against the Bears, who have allowed more points than anyone in the league through three games.
Through the losses at St. Louis and Green Bay and the win over Chicago – in which Seattle scored just one offensive touchdown – the Seahawks have converted just 1 of 6 third-and-3 situations. They are 0 for 5 on third and 4.
They are just 4 for 16 when it’s been third and 3, 4, 5 or 6 yards to gain for the first down.
Overall on third downs, the Seahawks are 16 for 44 (36 percent) this season. That’s tied for 24th in the 32-team league – and is not the way into the postseason.
"We’re still kind of finding out where we are this year with it, and it will take us some time before we really zero in on it," coach Pete Carroll said. "We’re counting on being good there, so we're going to keep going after it."
They have almost as many reasons as failures.
The offensive line has starters in three new positions and a center, Drew Nowak, who just started his third career game after being a defensive tackle in college. Communication and pass protection for quarterback Russell Wilson have been big problems. And in the first half of both the Chicago and Green Bay games the line failed to get much push along the line of scrimmage for running plays. That’s a bad recipe for third-down conversions.
It’s also a poor way to succeed in the red zone. Seattle traded two-time Pro Bowl center Max Unger and a first-round draft choice to New Orleans in March to get 6-foot-7 tight end extraordinaire Jimmy Graham to catch touchdown passes inside the 20. But with the offense failing to establish the rushing plan early in games and then often failing to give Wilson enough time to wait for Graham to run longer patterns down the field, the Seahawks have touchdowns on just three of eight trips into the red zone. That 37.5-percent TD rate is tied for 28th in the league (with Jacksonville).
Seattle’s third-down numbers would be worse if Baldwin hadn’t caught a 22-yard pass from Wilson in the third quarter against the Bears. That set up Seattle’s only offensive touchdown, Wilson’s 30-yard pass down the middle to Jimmy Graham on third and 5.
Those are two of the nine first downs Seattle has achieved on 26 third-down passes by Wilson this season.
Asked if this third-down problem was an assignment issue, an issue of execution, the practice music blaring too loudly, Baldwin turned coy.
"Nothing that I can discuss with you guys," he said.
That lack of sustaining drives is why Seattle has the league’s 27th-ranked pass offense and have scored touchdowns on just four of 31 drives this season (13 percent). The Seahawks’ four offensive TDs through three games is tied with St. Louis and, you guessed it, Chicago for last in the NFL.
Since Baldwin has been Wilson’s go-to guy on third downs for years – they connected three times on those plays for first downs against the Bears – does he take the Seahawks’ troubles so far this season on third downs personally?
"Passing the football is personal to me," he said. "So whether it’s third down, first down, second down, or fourth down, I take it personal."
Want to know why the defending two-time NFC champions were slogging through a 6-0 game at halftime with the malfunctioning Bears in their home opener on Sunday? Check out these third downs in the first half:
*Third and 4 in the red zone in the first quarter: Wilson took off up the middle quickly after sensing more in a season full of pass-rush pressure so far. The sack made Seattle settle for a one of Steven Hauschka’s four field goals last weekend and eight through three games.
*Third and 1 from the Seattle 48 late in the opening quarter, five plays after lead runner Marshawn Lynch entered for the first time late after getting injury treatment in the locker room past kickoff. Lynch tried to run behind left tackle Russell Okung and left guard Justin Britt. He slammed into blitzing, unaccounted-for Bears cornerbacks Alan Ball and Kyle Fuller for a loss of a yard instead. Seattle punted.
*Third and 1 from the Chicago 27, late second quarter. Lynch gets stopped for no gain up the middle by defensive linemen Jared Allen and Jarvis Jenkins. Daunted by those last two third and ones – and after failed third and shorts and Lynch getting stuffed on fourth and 1 in overtime to end the opener at St. Louis – the Seahawks convert on fourth and 1 by lining Lynch up at fullback in front of tailback Baldwin, then motioning Lynch to left wing and Wilson completing a short pass to him in the left flat.
Of course, befitting Seattle’s woes converting this season, Lynch hurt his hamstring on that catch and run and his status for the Lions game and beyond remains uncertain.
And that drive ended in yet another field goal when Wilson didn’t throw high enough into the end zone to prevent Chicago’s 6-foot-2 Ball from leaping with Graham and knocking the ball away from behind with his left arm, even though he is five inches shorter and 75 pounds lighter than the Seahawks’ tight end.
"We just want to be more consistent," Baldwin said. "I think that’s the general message that we’re all preaching and receiving right now, is that we need to be more consistent."