Through five games the Seattle Seahawks are 2-3, but the real surprise has been how the team stayed competitive in every game except Week 2 against the San Francisco 49ers.
Several significant storylines have not developed anywhere near preseason expectations, and already the definition of “success” this year has changed.
Here are the three best outcomes for the Seahawks this season, now the goalposts have shifted slightly through the first quarter of the season.
Geno Smith wins Comeback Player of the Year
I don’t mean for the emphasis to be on the actual award, but on the consistency it would reflect. It’s rare to go from a true backup to a true starter, let alone a weekly league-leader, let alone at the quarterback position.
If the Rashaad Penny contract can serve as a fair example, a half-season of elite play following three seasons of disappointment didn’t generate elite hype around the league. To be sure it could be very different with Geno Smith, but NFL teams are weird in free agency with proven commodities, far less so with the unproven.
Smith is at an age where it’s still prudent to draft a quarterback eventually, but Seattle is suddenly in the unforeseen fortuitous position of being able to draft for development. The most frequent reason Pete Carroll cited for Smith being ahead of Drew Lock in the offseason competition was that Geno knew the system. There is no home better for Smith next season than Seattle, and he knows that. If there’s a way that Smith shows this is who he truly is at quarterback, and the risk/reward element falls just right for the Hawks, then keeping Smith for any number of years is the best outcome. They might not only have a stopgap, but a competitive, proven team guy, with all the flexibility in the world to find the next quarterback unhurried.
Draft Picks (or if you’re going through hell, chances are you could give Seattle a top-10 selection)
I would have thought it intellectual incoherence to even consider leaving a home NFL game with time expiring and the game tied.
And then I saw the Denver Broncos.
Man this team is so bad. The kind of bad that costs rich people an unhealthy amount of sleep, gets a bunch of people fired eventually, provokes really weird responses from Pete Prisco, and several circuits of Hard Knocks.
this has to be the first positive thing prisco has ever tweeted about the seahawks ever https://t.co/BGa9UtVpx5— Tyler Alsin (@TylerjAlsin) October 7, 2022
Denver has a losing record, and hasn’t even played the Kansas City Chiefs yet. They’re staring at some terrible road games (Chargers, Ravens, Rams) and have the offensive cohesion of a Pac-12 team. High-end playoff hopes have turned into high-round draft pick probability.
On the flip side, the Seattle defense is so bad that it will prevent what looks like a truly incredible offense from taking off. This is annoying, infuriating and get-wrenching, but is not bad. Next year is the year. The Seahawks have clearly made strides forward in a couple of areas over last season, and may end up drafting in a nearly identical position next year. This is good.
The Fearsome Five or Spectacular Six
Tariq Woolen, Abraham Lucas, Charles Cross, Boye Mafe, Kenneth Walker, Coby Bryant - in that order.
The fearsome five title is in there because I was toying around with this before the New Orleans Saints game. Originally, Bryant wasn’t on the list. He’s still got a long way to go, but has now calmed down enough in the system to display a pretty impressive knack for playmaking.
Here’s the reality of this draft, something the Seahawks haven’t been able to say under John Schneider since....maybe ever?
They’re starting six rookies, and absolutely none of them are the reason the team has lost the three games they have. One looks to be phenomenal, the two tackles are already plus starters, and the final three are just getting going.
We’ve beaten this to death on Field Gulls, but the Seahawks have grown accustomed to limping from year to year, dragging on average two starting-caliber draft picks with them. They’re starting 0 from last year and the three “good” ones from 2020 have all been outplayed by Colby “wow he’s still on the team” Parkinson.*
*Jordyn Brooks has not, but please be a tiny bit more aggressive
It’s the perfect year and perfect depth chart for every single one of these guys to get maximum development in their rookie years. Woolen, Lucas and Cross will get virtually every snap. Darrell Taylor has evaporated and Mafe gets meaningful time. Rashaad Penny and Tre Brown injuries mean real experience for Walker and Bryant. Couldn’t ask for a better path to a starting job for any of these guys. They’re playing for a team that’s getting beat without the Jacksonville Jaguars experience of getting blown out every week.
The record this season is irrelevant, and while the defense makes us want to douse the TV in gasoline every week, much of this team’s process has far exceeded expectations.