Doug Baldwin’s return will allow Seahawks offense to bounce back

The Seattle Seahawks are among the worst offenses in the NFL in yards per game and first downs per game, but their woes could be solved with the return of star wide receiver Doug Baldwin.

In the Seattle Seahawks Week 1 loss to the Denver Broncos, No. 1 wide receiver Doug Baldwin suffered a Grade 2 partial MCL tear while blocking. Baldwin left the game, never returned, and wasn’t able to play in the Seahawks Week 2 loss to the Chicago Bears or their Week 3 win over the Dallas Cowboys.

The Seahawks offense wasn’t exactly impressive against Denver without their star receiver, and they were even less effective against Chicago and Dallas. Seattle failed to amass 300 yards of total offense in either of those outings, and if Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott weren’t in the middle of a slump, they probably would be 0-3 right now.

On the bright side, Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said, as per Seahawks reporter John Boyle, that he is “excited” to announce that Baldwin will be healthy enough to play in Seattle’s Week 4 rivalry game against the Arizona Cardinals.

Although the Cardinals’ start to the 2018 season has been even worse than Seattle’s, they could be trending upwards if rookie quarterback Josh Rosen plays well after joining the starting lineup during last week’s loss to the Bears. It’s too early to call games “must-win”, but this is a critical division battle for both of these teams.

Therefore, there couldn’t have been a better time for Baldwin to return from his knee injury. Given that Russell Wilson couldn’t hit 200 passing yards in Week 3 against the Cowboys, Baldwin could be the solution to Seattle’s biggest issues on offense. He won’t solve the inconsistent running game, but his presence on the perimeter and in the slot could end up taking linebackers out of the box, allowing Chris Carson to face less onerous fronts. Furthermore, Baldwin is a tenacious blocking receiver, which often goes underrated.

The Seahawks are 22nd in the NFL in both passing yards and net yards per pass attempt. Outside of Tyler Lockett, nobody has stood out as a consistent pass-catching threat for the Seahawks offense. Will Dissly has made some big plays at tight end for Seattle, but he only has seven catches this year. He’s not someone they can rely on to produce on a given set of downs.

Meanwhile, Brandon Marshall looks old with a meager 50% catch rate, and while effective in limited snaps, Jaron Brown has seen just three targets per game this year.

Baldwin means so much to this offense, as he’s caught at least 75 passes in each of the past three seasons, including 94 receptions in 2016. Few receivers are as efficient as Baldwin, who had an average of 9.3 yards per target from 2015-2017.

Against a Cardinals defense that is 25th in yards allowed and gives up 7.5 net yards per pass attempt, Baldwin can feast. Wilson hooked up with Lockett for a couple of big plays in Weeks 2 and 3, but he just doesn’t have the same rapport with Lockett (or anyone else on the Seahawks offense, for that matter) as he does with Baldwin. He sorely missed his top target, and Baldwin will alleviate the pressure on players like Marshall, in addition to being a versatile star who can line up anywhere on the field.

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The Seahawks need to improve their inefficiency in the passing game to blossom as an offense (or at least return to their “normal”), and that starts with getting their best skill position player back. Baldwin can do wonders for Wilson and this passing game, and it will be interesting to see how he affects the Seahawks post-Marshawn Lynch woes at running back.

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