The Seattle Seahawks are not just above .500 for the first time since opening day, they are tops in the NFC West thanks to their 37-23 win over the Los Angeles Chargers, coupled with the San Francisco 49ers’ loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. Not too many could’ve seen this coming when preseason predictions were made!
And the Denver Broncos lost, so it’s like the Seahawks keep double winning with the draft pick improvements. I don’t know about you, but I enjoy this more than flagrant tanking.
Let’s get to Winners and Losers!
Kenneth Walker III
You will NOT turn this post into a 100-deep comment subthread about draft positional value of taking running backs in the second round. We can give it a rest on days like today. You WILL be hyped that Walker looks like an elite running back already. Walker had 168 yards on 23 carries and a couple of touchdowns, including the dagger in the 4th quarter for 74 yards. He’s fast, he’s powerful (just ask Kenneth Murray, who was his personal backpack on a 12-yard play), his vision and shiftiness work so well together, and those are the hallmarks of a running back poised to be one of the best in the NFL.
Walker was magnificent once again.
Four catches for 67 yards and a pair of touchdowns for the king of the victory formation backflip. Goodwin stepped up big time on a day when DK Metcalf was lost to injury and Tyler Lockett was not playing at 100%. That’s great both for him personally and for Geno Smith to find chemistry with a wide receiver outside of the top two on the depth chart.
All four of his catches (for 45 yards) gained first downs. He’s the ideal security blanket for any quarterback.
This is another week in which I think Smith got away with a few bad throws that could’ve been picked, but overall he was a net positive. The two touchdowns to Goodwin were fantastic and Seattle was much improved on 3rd down. There are scant few times I can recall this season where Smith has looked totally frazzled, and that he still led sustained drives with DK Metcalf out and Lockett playing on a bad hamstring is yet another checkmark in his favor. Other than a comeback win — I’d rather not be trailing — what more do you want out of Geno that he hasn’t already shown?
For my money he was the defensive MVP. Neal intercepted Justin Herbert and had four passes defensed, all while playing tight coverage and making several open-field and clean-up tackles. If the dropoff from Jamal Adams to Josh Jones was gigantic, the improvement from Jones to Neal is a major ascent back up the mountain.
All of Taylor’s sacks have been forced fumbles. Unlike the previous two sacks, this one was a sack, fumble, and fumble recovery for Taylor. He’s had to take his lumps for early season struggles but it’s great watching him get sacks in consecutive games and start to look a little bit like he did last year.
Defensive Line, with a shoutout to Shelby Harris
The run defense held up again but the Chargers barely have a rushing attack, so let’s focus on their impact in the passing game. Justin Herbert had four passes batted down at the line of scrimmage — two by Shelby Harris, one by Poona Ford, and one by Myles Adams that turned into a completion of -8 yards for Herbert. Quinton Jefferson and Al Woods each had a sack, and both Harris and Adams had a QB hit. Harris was my standout on the d-line and he’s looking like one of the best parts of the Russell Wilson trade.
Back-to-back weeks where Brooks has played well. He had an early forced fumble on Austin Ekeler, a QB hit on Herbert, and his tackles were more of the “minimal gain” variety as opposed to mop-up duty well down the field.
Seven kicks attempted (three field goals, four PATs), seven converted. Myers has been money this year and that’s a relief after his difficult 2021 made him someone that I’d considered a potential cap casualty before the start of this season.
I don’t recall giving Dickerson a Winners shoutout, but this offensive line is one of the biggest positives of this season. Two rookie tackles, a revolving door at right guard with Gabe Jackson, Phil Haynes, and Jake Curhan all getting snaps, and yet they have a potent rushing attack and a pass blocking unit that has allowed just three sacks on 1st and 2nd down all season. The offensive line coach of the Seahawks has been one of the unsung heroes of the 2022 season.
That this is a top-10 offense with Geno at QB is automatically going to make Waldron a head coach candidate.
I get that the Chargers offense is not dynamic, but this is two weeks in a row of quality defensive play from the front to the back. LAC was limited to just 5/15 on 3rd down and only managed one long touchdown drive before garbage time. It looks as if Hurtt has figured something out but we’ll see if this holds up over the next three weeks before the bye.
Pete Carroll and John Schneider
I’ve been very critical of these two for years, and I do lump Schneider in no matter how much control Carroll has. There are a lot of articles and tweets I’ve made where I have been extremely skeptical about the way they’ve handled player personnel in particular and whether they can be entrusted with building another contender. I still believe criticisms of some of their past draft choices, trades, and free agent decisions were valid and undoubtedly had an impact on the sour ends to the past few seasons. But they have hit a freaking home run with this 2022 Draft class and they have reignited my belief in them. I was wrong. Wrong wrong wrong wrong wrong.
This team has badly needed a draft class that yields multiple potential top-tier players regardless of where they were taken. Charles Cross, Abe Lucas, Kenneth Walker III, Coby Bryant, and Tariq Woolen are not only playing, they’re playing damn well. That’s the type of franchise-changing class that raises the overall talent level of the roster. They’re not just the future of the Seahawks, they’re the present. Carroll and Schneider made the big gamble to trade Russell Wilson, and so far it’s paying off to the point where they’re re-earning the reputations they established early on in Seattle.
After a productive day against the Arizona Cardinals, Eskridge responded with a horrible drop/fumble (that gets charged to Geno Smith) on a pitch play to him, and he committed offensive pass interference that wiped out a 21-yard catch-and-run by Marquise Goodwin on a screen. He also finished the day with no catches and just a four-yard run on a jet sweep. I will credit him for the massive block he had on Walker’s second TD, but given that Eskridge might be tasked with a bigger role depending on DK Metcalf’s injury severity, I’m not enthused about those possibilities.
Just one catch for seven yards on three targets, of which one was a perfect throw by Smith that Fant was unable to hang onto. He also had a holding penalty which wiped out a Kenneth Walker first down run. I’m sure he’s making some good plays blocking but as an actual offensive threat I’m underwhelmed.
Pete Carroll’s challenge flag
He’s 0-for-3 on these challenges and I’m pretty sure none of them has been close. Hopefully those stay confined to the 1st half when timeouts are less valuable.
Land Clark and his officiating crew
This was not a well-officiated game, so it makes sense that Clark was a longtime Pac-12 official. Geno’s interception should’ve been a defensive pass interference call, Uchenna Nwosu got away with a face mask penalty on Justin Herbert, Austin Blythe got called for some made-up false start on what should’ve been an offsides penalty, and Will Dissly looked like he got a little grabby on the second Walker touchdown. I’m also pretty sure Geno Smith got roughed by Jerry Tillery and they didn’t call it either. They were bad both ways, is what I’m saying.
- I just hope DK Metcalf is alright. There were tons of injuries to both teams (Nick Bellore and Phil Haynes were concussed on the Seahawks’ side), but Metcalf is the biggest name and losing him would be a big hit to this wide receiver group.
- BRUUUUUUUUUUUUUCE was in on a run stop and I think he got a QB pressure. Good to see Irvin back on the field.
- Tariq Woolen finally gave up a touchdown but he otherwise played well and still had a pass defensed. He’d have had another PBU (plus Coby Bryant would’ve had an interception) if not for Uchenna Nwosu’s offside penalty.
- DeeJay Dallas had some hard running that included the game-sealing 8-yard run on 3rd down in the closing two minutes. The Chargers had waved the white flag already but that made sure there wouldn’t be some nervy finish.
- Michael Jackson had two passes he could’ve picked! He had his best game of the season in my view.
- Tyler Lockett got 7 catches for just 45 yards, but he still made some timely grabs that kept the chains moving.
- Austin Blythe, Damien Lewis, and Jake Curhan all had ugly reps. Blythe was wrecked on the safety, Lewis basically got pushed into Geno’s lap on a sack, and Curhan got beaten badly for a sack. Other than that not too much to complain about when the OL shuts down Khalil Mack.
- Quandre Diggs jarring Gerald Everett in the back to prevent a potential 3rd down conversion (or a 4th down attempt if Everett was short of the line to gain) was the first glimpse of vintage Diggs I’ve seen all year.
- First place! FIRST PLACE! If they can beat the 6-1 (!!!) New York Giants next week the belief in this team will only rise. Their ceiling is a lot higher than I believe most had imagined for this season.