The 2022 NFL Season is underway, and the Los Angeles Rams are in last place in the NFC West, currently sporting the worst record in the NFL. Meanwhile, the Seattle Seahawks sit tied for first place in the division, with an opportunity to move into sole possession of first place before ever taking the field on Monday against the Denver Broncos, should both the Arizona Cardinals and San Francisco 49ers falter on Sunday.
In any case, as is the norm during the regular season, Field Gulls sent five questions over to Mile High Report, and Ian St. Clair took the time to provide five answer. So, without wasting any further time, here the responses:
1. Russell Wilson is obviously the best quarterback the Broncos have had since Peyton Manning, but has his arrival led fans to perhaps set their expectations too high?
It’s been a long six years in Broncos Country since Peyton Manning retired. So the fact a quarterback like Wilson seemingly fell out of the sky has no doubt breathed life back into the fanbase but also the Broncos organization. As for the expectations, former owner Pat Bowlen expected his franchise to compete and win Super Bowls. The arrival of Wilson brings that back. And in those six seasons, we’ve heard repeatedly “Denver is just a QB away.” While the Super Bowl might be a skosh lofty, expect nothing less.
2. The focus of the Wilson trade is, obviously, Wilson himself. But in making the trade to acquire Wilson, the Broncos also gave up Shelby Harris and Noah Fant. How big of an impact on the team will the loss of those two have? And what can Seattle fans expect from them in 2022?
Of the two, Shelby Harris is the “biggest” loss. He always finds ways to make an impact on a game but he’s also a great leader. Whether it’s pass deflections, disrupting the running game or interior pressure on the QB, if the Seattle defense needs a big play, Harris will likely deliver. The addition of DJ Jones for the Broncos will look to attempt to lessen Harris’s departure. As for Fant, he was a massive disappointment in his time with the Broncos. He had flashes, but they were just that. Fant was inconsistent as a playmaker and nonexistent as a blocker. Maybe a change of scenery will help him out. The likely starting tight end now for Denver is Albert Okwuegbunam and the story is still out on what impact he’ll make this season.
3. We know all the big names - Wilson, Jeudy, Gordon, etc. Who is the player Seahawks fans may not be familiar with who could have an impact on the outcome of the game?
If the start of the game goes how I envision it will, Seahawks fans will discover KJ Hamler right away. Some have compared the speedy receiver to Tyler Lockett. Talk about high expectations, but Hamler is definitely capable of being the speed threat in this offense. He has yet to do much of anything in the NFL; he tore his ACL last year and went through some serious off-the-field struggles where he even contemplated suicide. But Hamler is definitely a player to keep an eye out for. I’ll add one more: Rookie receiver Montrell Washington. He’s another speed receiver who will make his presence felt as the Broncos returner.
4. After a string of coaches that have been defense first, what is the feeling so far among fans regarding Nate Hackett?
For most in Broncos Country, it’s excitement. For some, it’s a wait-and-see approach. After all, Hackett is a first-year head coach and there are bound to be hiccups. But the fact he brings an offense to Denver that fans know all too well, a branch of the Mike Shanahan offense, fans are eager to see what the marriage of Hackett and Wilson produces. Hackett brings an offense to the Broncos that just produced the back-to-back MVP. On its face, Hackett seems like he gets “it.” He’s a natural leader and trusts his coordinators/assistants to do their job.
5. What’s your prediction for the score?
Broncos 34, Seahawks 10. I have a feeling Wilson wants to send a message and Hackett will help him deliver it. I look for Hackett to call up some deep passes early to Hamler to put the Seattle defense on its toes. The Denver defense will also relish finally having a QB.
And that’s it. Now fans just have to wait until Monday evening to enjoy meaningful Seahawks football and to see what all the changes mean on the field for 2022.
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