Seahawks' second-half offensive slumps helping create NFC West hole

MINNEAPOLIS -- There are several questions coming out of Sunday's loss that the Seattle Seahawks would prefer to not have to answer.

Can they rebound from consecutive defeats and keep their 1-2 start from spiraling into a 1-4 hole with critical NFC West matchups against the San Francisco 49ers and Los Angeles Rams over the next 11 days?

Will Sidney Jones IV provide a spark, assuming the Seahawks give him a chance at corner in place of either of their struggling starters, Tre Flowers or D.J. Reed?

Will their pass rush be more consistent than it's been over the past two games, even if Kerry Hyder Jr. has to miss time with a concussion?

And what in the names of Shane Waldron and Russell Wilson has been the issue with Seattle's offense after halftime?

As bad as Seattle's defense was in a 30-17 loss to the Minnesota Vikings, the Seahawks didn't score a point over the final 41-plus minutes, continuing a bizarre trend of their offense slumping -- if not disappearing entirely -- following strong starts.

"We were really on it the way we needed to be," coach Pete Carroll said. "Just missed our chances, and then all of a sudden, the game gets away."

That was the case in their season-opening win over the Indianapolis Colts (21 points in the first half, seven in the second), last week in their overtime loss to the Tennessee Titans (24 points in the first half, six in the second and OT) and again Sunday at U.S. Bank Stadium, where they were shut out after jumping out to a 17-7 lead early in the second quarter.

"It starts with everybody winning their matchups," tight end Gerald Everett said. "We have to treat every drive ... the same. We were moving the ball pretty effectively in the first half. But the Vikings made some halftime adjustments, and then we just stalled a bit. So, we will go back to the drawing board tomorrow."

Asked about their lack of offense in the second half, Wilson (23-of-32 passing, 298 yards, one touchdown) pointed to their limited time of possession as a factor. Minnesota opened up the third quarter with a 16-play drive that kept the Seahawks from getting the ball until the 6½-minute mark, and they only had three possessions after that.

That also was an issue in the first two games. The Seahawks have averaged only 10:21 of possession in the second half and overtime this season, according to ESPN Stats & Information research. That's partly a product of their defense not getting off the field and partly a product of their offense not sustaining drives. Among the missed chances in the fourth quarter on Sunday were a rushed Wilson overthrow to an open Freddie Swain on third-and-7 and a fourth-down heave into the end zone that fell incomplete to Penny Hart, when officials might have missed pass interference.

So while their offense isn't entirely to blame, the Seahawks have scored a league-low 13 points after halftime through three games and not a single point in the third quarter. Conversely, their 62 first-half points are the most of any team, per ESPN Stats & Info data. It's a 180 from so many recent seasons, when the Seahawks' offense would routinely slog its way through the starts of games then eventually catch fire, even if didn't happen until Wilson worked his magic at the end.

No one expected their offense to be perfect early this season. How could it be when they're breaking in a mostly new scheme under a first-time coordinator in Waldron and after they sat most of their starters in a shortened preseason? There figured to be growing pains, just not exactly like this.

"Everything you do that is new, you have to get out the wrinkles and the kinks," Everett said. "That's what we are doing. We felt good in fall camp, preseason and Week 1. But Minnesota is a good team, and they were coming off a couple tough weeks. But we should have had this one."

The jury is still out on how much the Seahawks' offensive line has improved since last season. It allowed two sacks, five QB hits and pressure on nearly half of Wilson's dropbacks Sunday while playing with its second and third options at right tackle. But even with that question mark up front, the Seahawks have the personnel to be one of the league's best offenses.

They obviously have the quarterback in Wilson. He looked flawless on Seattle's opening drive (4-of-5, 60 yards, touchdown), and he has begun the season with seven TDs and no interceptions.

They have more than enough weapons in the passing game. After Tyler Lockett got off to the best two-game start of any receiver in Seahawks history, DK Metcalf took his turn against Minnesota (six catches, 107 yards, TD). Lockett, meanwhile, appears to have escaped a serious injury, returning after twisting his knee. Everett and Will Dissly (who combined for 93 receiving yards on Sunday) are a formidable duo at tight end.

And while they could have used more from their run game against Tennessee to salt away their second-half lead, Chris Carson is good enough to again threaten 1,000 yards, if he can stay on the field. His 30-yard touchdown run on Sunday put Seattle ahead 17-7.

That came on a hurry-up drive and on a play that Wilson audibled at the line of scrimmage. The increased tempo and the freedom it gives him is something he likes about Waldron's system.

"We've been rolling," Everett said of their offense in the first half. "We've been explosive to Tyler, DK and the tight ends. Chris has been running like a bull. Each week is different. We can’t talk about last week or next week. We have to focus on what we can fix from tonight for next week."

The Seahawks will play the 49ers (2-1) at Levi's Stadium on Sunday, then they face another tough defense when they host the Rams (3-0) four days later on Thursday Night Football. With the Arizona Cardinals (3-0) also off to a fast start, this feels like an early-season crossroads.

"I just think that we got to stay the course," Wilson said. "We got a challenge ahead of us, and that's really where our head is at."