The Seattle Seahawks are set to attempt to return to the formula that led them to their best period in franchise history when they take the field in 2022, allowing the run game to ride on the back of a high level defense. Throughout the decade of greatness that began with the arrival of Russell Wilson as a third round draft pick in 2012, the Hawks seemed to consistently outperform expectations when it came to winning late.
Specifically, Wilson led 24 fourth quarter comebacks and 31 game winning drives during the first nine years of that decade. However, between the finger injury that led to him missing the first three starts of his career and needing to shake off the rust when he did return, Wilson led no fourth quarter comebacks and is credited with just one game winning drive in 2021. Those late game results, or rather lack thereof, made its way from the stat sheet through to the record of the Hawks, with the team finishing 7-10 on the year and finishing 0-5 for the season in games decided by three points or less or which finish regulation tied and went to overtime.
Wilson was, of course, at the helm for three of those five close losses, which were the:
- Week 2 loss to the Tennessee Titans 33-30 in overtime
- Week 12 loss to the Washington Football Team 17-15 and
- Week 16 loss to the Chicago Bears 24-25.
However, two of the five games in which the Hawks lost by 3 or less or in overtime came during the three games started by Geno Smith. Whether it was a product of the new offense, or a function of the lack of talent surrounding them, neither Smith nor Wilson were able to lead the Seahawks to victory when crunch time arrived in close games during 2021.
That could be an important fact to keep in mind as the Seahawks prepare to play the 2022 season with either Smith or Drew Lock under center, as neither has ever displayed a significant ability to lead a team back late in the game. Smith appeared in four games for Seattle during the 2021 season, taking the field down by a single score or tied in the fourth quarter or overtime in three of those four games.
The Seahawks dropped all four games.
For those who want most of the gory details, here they are drive by drive:
- Drive 1: Week 5 against the Los Angeles Rams: 1 play, 0 yards (interception)
- Drive 2: Week 6 against the Pittsburgh Steelers: 3 plays, -4 yards (punt)
- Drive 3: Week 6 against the Pittsburgh Steelers: 3 plays, -2 yards (punt)
- Drive 4: Week 6 against the Pittsburgh Steelers: 8 plays, 50 yards (field goal)
- Drive 5: Week 6 against the Pittsburgh Steelers: 1 play, 0 yards (fumble)
- Drive 6: Week 7 against the New Orleans Saints: 10 plays, 45 yards (missed field goal)
- Drive 7: Week 7 against the New Orleans Saints: 4 plays, -18 yards (turnover on downs)
It is, quite frankly, not a pretty picture. It’s a total of 30 offensive plays yielding 71 yards and a total of three points in seven drives. Certainly Jason Myers takes most of the blame for missing a field goal late in the game against the Saints in Week 7, but Geno certainly didn’t need to take an 11 yard sack on 3rd & 11 to transform a 42 yard attempt into a 53 yarder.
So, when it’s all said and done, when the Seahawks take to the field with a strategy built on keeping the game close with the run and playing solid defense, they’ll need to be able to execute in the fourth quarter in order to be competitive. And that’s something they were not able to do during the time Smith was under center during 2021.