SEATTLE -- No sudden movements.
Because, like a baby bird, this Seahawks season is JUST ready to step out of the nest and fly.
After a hand-wringing 0-2 start, the Seahawks returned to form last week with a 26-0 win over the Chicago Bears. Under the warm September sun, the Hawks pummeled the Bears in the second half, with first-year defensive coordinator Kris Richard leading the team to its first shutout under his regime.
With a single win, the 1-2 Seahawks kicked the 2015 season it into high gear. The defense seemed in sync with the return of Kam Chancellor. The offense came together as the line begins to gel.
But even the most homer of fan recognizes that the Seahawks "high-gear" looks tentative right now. Oh, oh, so tentative. Injuries, a slow-starting offense and the competent arm of a visiting quarterback threaten to knock this train off the track before it ever really gets going.
For the sake of the season, the Seahawks need to secure a win Monday night at CenturyLink Field against the Detroit Lions. Because the week after, the Seahawks head to Cincinnati to take on the undefeated Bengals. The week after that, the undefeated Carolina Panthers come to town, likely looking for blood after last year's playoff loss to the Hawks.
So the next couple off weeks could be considered rough air ahead for this baby bird just beginning to fly.
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3 things to watch for in Monday's Lions vs. Seahawks game--
3. Shake off the slow starts -- The Seahawks are known to shine in prime time games under head coach Pete Carroll. Under his reign, the Hawks are 13-2 in prime time, and have won their last nine Monday night games.
Tonight, the team looks to continue their nighttime dominance, and shake off the slow starts that have plagued the offense lately. In the Seahawks last six regular season games, dating back to Thanksgiving Day of last year, the Hawks have failed to score an offensive touchdown in the first quarter. This slow start, very often paired with a deficit, is putting the team in a big hole early on. Sure, that works fine against a backup quarterback and beleaguered outfit in the Bears, but perhaps not against Matthew Stafford and the quick-throwing Lions. If the Hawks fall behind 14-0 early, it might be a hole they can't climb out of.
2. Matthew Stafford and Megatron -- Lions Quarterback Matthew Stafford and Megatron Calvin Johnson have long been juggernauts in an era of gun-slinging QBs and tough, fast receivers. In each of the past four years, Stafford passed for more than 4,000 yards each year, with Johnson catching more than one quarter of those yards.
This year's start for the Lions has been slow for sure, but the duo can break out of a funk anytime. And without the pass rush of Brandon Mebane (out with injury) and Bruce Irvin -- listed as questionable -- Stafford could have more time in the pocket Monday to hit his favorite target. The Legion of Boom needs to step up in order to stop an onslaught.
1. Thomas Rawls -- Undrafted free agent Thomas Rawls stands to be the surprise breakout of the season. In a career game against the Bears, Rawls rushed for 104 yards on 16 carries, averaging more than 6 yards a carry.
Monday, the importance of Rawls' success will be laid clear. He's filling in for an injured Marshawn Lynch, out with a nagging hamstring issue. The Hawks need him to get going early and often, hopefully helping overcome their slow starts. The spotlight of Monday Night Lights comes down on all players, but it will shine on Rawls brightest of all.