Whew. Time to take a breath and relax the nerves a bit because the bye week is here for the Seattle Seahawks.
While the bye looked too early in the season when the schedule came out back in the spring, it sure seems to be hitting at just the right time. Seattle’s injury list is so long that even ol’ Santa Claus himself would be proud.
The following players have either missed significant snaps or have been limited due to injury over the first four games:
Geno Smith – he’s the starting QB so any snap he misses because of injury is significant
That’s a comically long list, and I left it this way to prove a point. Imagine if I would’ve added players who have played through injuries like Jaxon Smith-Njigba, DK Metcalf, Tyler Lockett, etc. If I had a time machine to show my past self this list and ask him (me) to predict the Seahawks record at the bye week, my former self would first ask why I was such a dipsh— and didn’t utilize that marvelous feat of human engineering for something worthwhile. Then, he (me) would probably say that Seattle might be able to squeak by with a 2-2 record but more than likely would be 1-3.
But, they’re not. Instead, Seattle enters the bye in second place in the NFC West with a 3-1 record. The fact that this Seahawks team has been able to overcome such a lengthy list of injuries to play essentially 14 of 16 quarters of above average to good football is a testament to the depth of the 2023 roster.
There’s no better example than the offensive line in this last game against the New York Giants. Seattle already started without their two bookend tackles, instead turning to reserves Stone Forsythe and Jake Curhan. During the game, the Seahawks lost both of their offensive guards as well, opening the door for rookie Anthony Bradford to slide back in at RG after playing there in Week 3 and forcing starting center Evan Brown over to LG with another rookie, Olu Oluwatimi, taking his place in the middle of the offensive line. That was a case of next, next man up.
Standing across from that patchwork OL was a stout interior DL for the G-Men featuring Dexter Lawrence and Leonard Williams. That sounds like a recipe for disaster. And yet, it wasn’t. The offense was far from explosive, but they were at least capable which is a giant – pun intended – pat on the back for OL coach Andy Dickerson and OC Shane Waldron. The offense was able to move the ball, particularly in the run game towards the end of the contest and help sew up the victory. That’s good talent acquisition along with good coaching/scheming for a unit that could’ve potentially hamstrung the entire offense.
Seattle's run blocking started to turn the corner after halftime. Watch both rookies on this play - Oluwatimi does a solid job against Lawrence, while Bradford cooks up a second level pancake on McFadden. Walker ends up getting 16 yards with some hard running after contact. pic.twitter.com/ApIz6xAiww— Corbin K. Smith (@CorbinSmithNFL) October 4, 2023
You want an analogous example on defense? Look no further than the secondary. What was seen as a major strength heading into the season has seen the most attrition of any unit on defense. It’s a good thing John Schneider didn’t trade some of the depth pieces prior to the season, because almost all of them were needed.
First-round pick Devon Witherspoon missed the first game, so Riq Woolen and Tre Brown started on the outside with Coby Bryant factoring in heavily as the nickel. Spoon was back for the second game and was immediately thrust into the starting lineup opposite Riq…and then Woolen got hurt, bringing Tre Brown back in. Bryant hurt the opposite toe of the one he was nursing in training camp, so Artie Burns took over as the nickel in Week 3. Brown and Spoon started that game, but Brown was injured and replaced by Michael Jackson. Burns injured his hammy prior to Week 4, so Spoon slid inside to play nickel with Jackson and the returning Woolen manning the outside. Jamal Adams also returned and showed glimpses of his playmaking style in his 9 snaps before his horrible injury luck continued, forcing him to miss the rest of the game.
The only real consistency in the defense has been the safety tandem of Quandre Diggs and Julian Love. Much like the situation on the OL, this amount of shuffling usually portends disaster. Continuing the trend shown by the offense, it hasn’t always been pretty, but the defense has gotten through it and consistently shown improvement – especially with the increased playing time of Devon Witherspoon. I gave Dickerson and Waldron their flowers above, so I should probably shout out Karl Scott, Deshawn Shead, Roy Anderson, and Clint Hurtt. It’s a small sample size, but the 2023 version of the Seahawks defense looks much faster and more physical than previous years.
The Seahawks defense was DOMINANT tonight— PFF (@PFF) October 3, 2023
3 points allowed
3.4 yards per play allowed pic.twitter.com/dDBX7Hbfql
The Seattle Seahawks defense has generated 98 total pressures this season (1st in the NFL)— PFF SEA Seahawks (@PFF_Seahawks) October 4, 2023
Through 4 weeks last season, they generated 50 total pressures (29th in the NFL)
So yes, the bye is early, but it is definitely welcome. Hopefully a good chunk of these injured players will be ready to strap it up against the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 6. As the players on both sides of the ball return and get used to playing together, that’s when things could get really fun. The Seahawks also have peace of mind knowing that their depth players will be able to step in – and perform capably – if needed.