The Seattle Seahawks began September slowly with a 1-2 record that gave off the impression that it was a team destined to be as mediocre as predicted after Russell Wilson was traded. Then came October and a sensational 4-1 surge that has seen them take the NFC West lead near the halfway mark of the 2022 NFL regular season. They’re already a win away from exceeding the over/under line set by most oddsmakers, including DraftKings Sportsbook. It’s not just that the Seahawks are 5-3, it’s the fact that they are actually enjoyable to watch again after the tired tedium of 2021.
Usually after every Seahawks game I do a Winners and Losers column, but this season I created a new W&L overview of the entire month. Evidently it was received well enough that I’m giving this another go. Once again, these are assessments based on the whole set of games played and not a week-by-week review.
Biggest winner(s): Pete Carroll and John Schneider
I’ve given them my flowers already but I might as well do it again. A couple of years back when the Jamal Adams trade was made I said it was the type of deal that could undo this front office. Even the Russell Wilson trade felt somewhat tied to the Adams trade as a domino effect in terms of recouping the first-round pick they didn’t have in 2022. Trading Wilson was a gamble, and so far it’s looking like they’ve hit the jackpot, defying the preseason projections of this squad being bottom-five caliber and making ESPN columnist Bill Barnwell very wrong that Seattle had the worst offseason in the NFL.
As critical as I’ve been about some of the draft choices, the processes, the free agent decisions, and a whole lot of other stuff that I believe has factored into the Seahawks’ struggles to even win a playoff game in recent years, 2022 has been a treasure trove of hits. This year’s draft class, not too dissimilar from the 2010-2012 run of classes, is filled with starters who double as ceiling-raisers. Uchenna Nwosu is the young, high-upside signing that has worked wonders for Seattle’s pass rush. Tl;dr they’ve done a lot of great things in such a short period of time and anything less than that would’ve resulted in a very different mood among fans.
Maybe we need to tweak a certain quote to “they wrote us off, we ain’t write back though.”
Shane Waldron, Andy Dickerson, and Clint Hurtt
The three assistants that surely would’ve been under the most scrutiny coming into the season. Waldron’s got this offense humming at a top-10 level by DVOA. Dickerson’s offensive line is looking like an above-average pass-blocking unit. Clint Hurtt’s defense was getting shredded... up until they weren’t.
When we did the Reacts poll at the end of September, about 70% of voters still wanted to see Drew Lock start even with Geno Smith’s solid play to start the season. If by any chance Lock is better than Smith then he’d be a league MVP contender, but he’s probably not. I’m pretty sure we’ll see Lock at some point in garbage time circumstances but I believe Geno’s play has exemplified why the Seahawks named him the starter. Smith is not only producing a highly efficient offense but he’s accurate from all distances and keeping his turnovers to a minimum. The fears that he’d be a low-ceiling, non-dynamic quarterback proved to be unfounded.
His honor as NFC Offensive Player of the Month is well deserved and with each week he’s chipping away at the doubters for what he’s been able to do. Even if this isn’t something we see out of Geno for seasons to come, the fact that he’s revived his career in such fashion makes him the leading candidate for NFL Comeback Player of the Year.
Kenneth Walker III
Unlike Woolen, Charles Cross, and Abe Lucas, Walker wasn’t a Day 1 starter and wasn’t supposed to be considering Rashaad Penny was ahead of him on the depth chart. From the moment Penny’s season unfortunately ended in New Orleans, Walker has been sensational. Already he has two 60+ yard touchdown runs and is only behind Nick Chubb, Jamaal Williams, Derrick Henry, Josh Jacobs, and Jalen Hurts for rushing TDs. He’s got a combination of speed, vision, and power that made him elite at Michigan State and could make him elite in the NFL. Walker already has an Ground Player of the Week and NFL Offensive Rookie of the Month award in just three starts.
Tariq Woolen and Coby Bryant
Bryant wasn’t in last month’s Winners column but I had him and Boye Mafe as on my radar to make the October list. Mafe’s getting closer but Bryant deserves to be on here alongside Woolen, who was the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Month. Bryant had a tough debut against the Broncos but he’s steadily grown into his role as a slot corner who keeps improving in coverage and has developed a knack for forcing fumbles. Three of Bryant’s four forced fumbles occurred in October, and Woolen was on hand to recover two of them.
Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf are known quantities at this point, but with David Moore and Freddie Swain gone, as well as Dee Eskridge not developing all that well, Seattle’s been in need of a WR3. The 31-year-old, ten-year veteran out of Texas has become Seattle’s third option at wide receiver, and against the Chargers he broke through with 4 catches for 67 yards and 2 touchdowns. For the month he caught 10 balls (on 12) targets for 126 yards and those aforementioned pair of touchdowns, and he looks like one of the few good options on the team for yards after catch.
Nwosu recorded four sacks in October, giving him five on the season. He’s the team leader in sacks and QB hits and is the league leader in pressures generated. Nwosu has been excellent and it looks like his best years are yet to come. This is a hell of a lot better than the Ziggy Ansah signing from a few years ago, isn’t it?
An underrated part of the defensive line who does a little bit of everything — run defense, pass rushing, batting balls down at the line of scrimmage. I was a fan of Harris in Denver and so far he’s been a positive contributor in Seattle.
There’s a marked improvement at the safety position with Neal in the game over Josh Jones. I’m not saying Neal is an All-Pro but he’s competent and versatile. The preseason injuries I suspect at the only reason he never was the next man up after Jamal Adams’ injury, because the Seahawks have more than enough evidence of Neal playing well in Adams’ absence.
Myers’ only respective field goal and extra point misses on the season were in October, but his overall performance was fantastic. Over the past three weeks Myers is a perfect 9/9 on field goals and he’s missed none of his eight extra points. Even-Numbered Year Jason Myers is a real force for kicking in this league.
The Seahawks’ 2023 draft picks
The Denver Broncos went 1-4 in October playing a pretty easy slate of opponents. Convince yourself that they’re going to turn their season around when they play the Kansas City Chiefs twice, a resurgent Tennessee Titans squad, and the Baltimore Ravens after their bye week.
Ain’t this better than tanking and trotting out a product that’s insulting to paying fans?
Biggest losers: The Punting Unit (Coverage and Returns)
It’s a good thing that Will Dissly came to the rescue in the Giants game with his involvement in both Richie James Jr fumbles, because this has been the weak spot of Seattle’s special teams. Tyler Lockett lost a fumble against the Lions, then Michael Dickson was victimized on busted protections in back-to-back weeks against the Saints and Cardinals. Officially Dickson has -18 yards rushing and a lost fumble for a touchdown thanks to those disasters. Joey Blount committed a needless fair catch interference penalty against the Chargers, but at least he recovered the first James fumble in the Giants win.
Seattle ranks last in punts returned and have the 2nd fewest punt return yards in the NFL at 31. They’ve just got zilch to offer up on this front. It also tells you a lot about how this month went that they’re the only group I can collectively make a loser.
Our Preconceived Notions
I use “our” even though there was absolutely not unanimity among the fanbase as a whole or the Field Gulls community as to the direction of this franchise. Seattle’s trajectory was going downward and while national media was clowning the team, it wasn’t like some of those sentiments weren’t shared among us. This became Pete vs. Russ and I suppose Vulcan ownership and the Seahawks FO vs. Russ, with people taking sides on the matter. I’m going to give you some of my own whiffs on the 2022 Seahawks:
—In trading away Russell Wilson, Carroll was ready to revert back to a run-heavy, ball control offense. Pete’s got a pass-heavy offense and he’s even been willing to go for it on 4th down a bit more than we’ve seen in years past. Carroll is more flexible than given credit for, and he’s also not nearly as run-obsessed as the 2018 season or his own quotes make him sound.
—The Seahawks weren’t going to draft offensive linemen from pass-heavy offenses. This is a notion I had by extension of the previous bullet; I was way wrong. Charles Cross and Abe Lucas are Seattle’s starting tackles, are they not? Hell, I mock drafted Trevor Penning to Seattle and that was entirely because he was the type of mauler who graded well as a run-blocker.
—Geno Smith wasn’t going to be anything other than mediocre at best, based largely off of his poor stint with the Jets. Smith spent years behind Eli Manning, Philip Rivers, and Russell Wilson on the depth chart so there were not opportunities for him to showcase his talents post-Jets career. Perhaps that was actually better for him personally than signing with and starting on a horrible team. He’s had years of guidance from those three that has helped him improve as a player and a leader. This is a much better situation for Geno to succeed than the remnants of a Jets team that ceased being a contender after their once elite defense started to falter. From our outside perspective, Geno has the support from his teammates and his coaches.
I don’t think this season invalidates past criticisms and past questionable decisions made over the years; perspective is everything and we’ve had way more good than bad with Carroll and Schneider. As recently as a month ago I didn’t believe that rediscovering the good again with those two was in the cards, but I’m not going to be stubborn to my own opinions when I can just accept that my assumptions were misguided.
- Michael Jackson had some up-and-down moments into October and has had to rotate with Sidney Jones and Artie Burns at times. I think he’s played very well the past couple of games and quietly has seven passes defensed on the season. Now that Jones is gone but Tre Brown is returning it’ll be interesting to see if we still see his spot rotated or not, because he’s done nothing to justify losing his place in the starting lineup.
- Jordyn Brooks and Cody Barton have been performing better in recent weeks. Yes, Cody Barton. He’s become the Tre Flowers of the 2022 defense but since that gruesome stretch vs. Detroit and New Orleans he’s been adequate, and Brooks has been very good against the pass and run.
- Quandre Diggs probably would’ve been in the Losers column if not for these past two weeks. I believe it’s taken him a bit to get back into the groove of things after such a catastrophic injury.
- Good gracious I wrote over 2,000 words already? Yeah that wasn’t the plan. Anyway this Saturday is my birthday so it doesn’t take too much thinking to figure out the gift that I want from the Seahawks on Sunday.