If you thought 2019 was an odd season for your Seattle Seahawks, get ready to be thrown in a blender for 2020.
As if this year couldn’t get stranger, we present to you NFL football in the middle of a global pandemic. There will be limited or no fans in the stands, reduced rosters all around the league, and new faces in new places. And without a normal training camp and preseason, new players and rookies are in for a rude awakening when the season kicks off this Sunday.
It’s not all doom and gloom, though. Seattle is embarking on their 2020 campaign coming off an admirable 2019 season, where they went 11-5 and were one very strange series to end the 4th quarter in their regular season finale away from winning the NFC West and earning a first-round bye with the chance to host a playoff game. A delay of game penalty on the goal line followed by a gut-wrenching tackle on the one-yard line ended their season short of 12 wins and sent them to the wildcard round where they won on the road in Philadelphia before narrowly coming up short in Green Bay in the divisional round.
In 2020, they can not only expand on what they accomplished in 2019 but could get even further if they play to their potential. Seattle had a below-average passing defense in 2019, and with the addition of Jamal Adams at safety, they could be among the best in the league. Adams will be paired with 2019 acquisition Quandre Diggs, with Shaquill Griffin and either Quinton Dunbar or Tre Flowers starting at corner, and great depth from Ugo Amadi, Neiko Thorpe, and Marquise Blair.
The secondary will be solid or better, and you’ll also see and get high quality play from linebackers Bobby Wagner, KJ Wright, and Bruce Irvin. The defensive line will be the greatest cause for concern, as last season’s leading pass rusher Jadeveon Clowney signed with Tennessee, LJ Collier didn’t get much playing time as a rookie, and Ezekiel Ansah is currently a free agent. So you may see a lot of Collier and Rasheem Green, but we don’t really know what that will look like. If Seattle’s pass rush performs the way they did in 2019 as one of the least productive groups in the league, it might not matter who is covering receivers in the secondary, as very few players can cover routes for more than a few seconds.
Additions on offense were most notably WR Philip Dorsett (who doesn’t add much other than running go-routes), re-signing WR Josh Gordon (an extremely talented player who hasn’t played a full 16 games since his rookie year in 2012) and TE Greg Olsen, who is in his 13th NFL season and has had trouble staying healthy in recent years, missing seven games in 2019 and another nine in 2018. When healthy and on the field, few TEs are as capable and talented as Olsen. If you need a veteran TE and you couldn’t or didn’t want to land Jimmy Graham or Rob Gronkowski, Olsen is the guy you go after and will be a quality security blanket for Russell Wilson. With Jacob Hollister breaking out last season, the Seahawks could run a lot more two tight end sets and run or pass the ball without bringing a third receiver onto the field. Nothing confuses defenses more than being able to run a high volume of effective and diverse plays out of the same formation. If Will Dissly is truly able to stay healthy, the Seahawks could have an embarrassment of riches in the passing game.
The offensive line could be a question mark for what seems like the upteenth year since Seattle’s last Super Bowl run. LT Duane Brown is as good a pass blocker as there is, but he has had injury issues since coming over from Houston. Mike Iupati is still a quality guard, but his best days appear to be behind him. Center Ethan Pocic has never started in the NFL at center (he has started at guard previously), and has had trouble staying healthy. Rookie right guard Damien Lewis is talented and the Seahawks have high hopes for him, but first-year linemen tend to struggle with pro pass rushers and opening running lanes. Right tackle Brandon Shell spent the last three years with the Jets, before signing with the Seahawks in March. So you once again have a group of blockers for Wilson who have never seen the field together, and we’ll have to see how quickly they can gel and protect their QB open up running lanes.
At running back, Seattle has one of the most dependable names in the game. While he can struggle with health concerns, Chris Carson is anything but a gamble when he’s on the field. Consecutive 1000-yard campaigns with at least seven rushing touchdowns is exactly what you want from your workhorse running back. The team signed Carlos Hyde as a backup and still has surprise UDFA Travis Homer to spell them on passing downs. When Rashaad Penny is healthy, this team could have at least two starting-quality running backs, with two very talented backups. It will be tough to beat that combo, and that will only help open up the passing game through play action.
The roster overall is not a problem. Even if any of the new faces struggle, you’ll have Wilson, Carson, and receivers Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf to lead the way. This team should put up points, they just might have to find a way to stop the opposing side if the defensive line is not a good fit out of the gate.
The schedule is also not likely to be a problem. Based on 2019 records, Seattle is tied for the 13th-toughest schedule, but that might take an even bigger dip when you look at the amount of non-playoff teams they will be facing. That’s not to say non-playoff teams do not present a threat, it just means they aren’t looked at as elite competition if they failed to produce a season that makes them a top-6 team (out of 16) in their conference. For the record, Seattle’s 2020 opponents won just four more games than they lost. So Seattle gets a .500 (or thereabout) schedule for 2020. Not bad, pretty good even.
These are their 2020 opponents, and they should have plenty of games against average teams –
2019 non playoff teams
At Atlanta (week 1)
Dallas (week 3)
At Miami (week 4)
At Arizona (week 7)
At Buffalo (week 9)
At LA Rams (week 10)
Arizona (week 11)
NY Giants (week 13)
NY Jets (week 14)
At Washington (week 15)
LA Rams (week 16)
2019 Playoff teams
New England (week 2)
Minnesota (week 5)
San Francisco (week 8)
At Philadelphia (week 12)
At San Francisco (week 17)
I’ll be honest, most of those teams don’t worry me. You can’t give them twelve circled wins, but this is about the best schedule the team could have hoped for. The 49ers will be their main obstacle, as they are now the team to beat in the NFC West. We’ve seen a revolving door for the NFC West crown however, so don’t hold your breath. The Rams could be better than last year, but they didn’t make any major changes to improve over a 9-7 season a year ago after making the Super Bowl two years ago. Todd Gurley is gone, the offensive line is still in doubt, and the defense is capable of being elite but has not played to that level in the Sean McVay era. Other than Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey, there isn’t much to worry about.
Then there are Cardinals. They drafted QB Kyler Murray last year, traded for WR DeAndre Hopkins this year, but other than that – what do they have? They played well above their ability last year and should make a bigger push this season. But are they ready to compete for the division? Probably not. That doesn’t mean Seattle shouldn’t take them seriously, however.
Seattle will be travelling to Atlanta in week one, then hosting New England in week two, then hosting Dallas in week three. I would say all three of those games are toss ups. The Patriots are down some key players from a year ago, changing players at QB for the first time since 2008, and after last season they have definitely lost their “unbeatable” mystique. Atlanta has an elite offense, but their defense seems to take weeks off – that said they usually play tough at home, and starting your season on the road in a time warp is not ideal. Dallas is a real wildcard this year; they missed the playoffs last year but swapped out their head coach, added a playmaking receiver in the draft to team with the already talented Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup, and improved on defense. Will that matter on the field in week three? Maybe.
Seattle then goes to Miami in week four, which should be very easy to win despite the early game on the east coast. After that, they host the Vikings in a rematch of one of the best primetime games of the year in 2019, then they go on a very early bye in week six. With the final game yet again against San Francisco, which could decide the division – Seattle should be able to start strong and then just hold off coasting down the stretch and enjoy the season. If Seattle struggles early on, at least the meat of their schedule is against teams that didn’t perform to expectations in 2019, and the odds are they won’t make any huge leaps forward this season.
Ten wins most likely gets a wild card berth, 11 or 12 likely wins the division. If Seattle can get at least 3 wins in their first five games, they would be set up to only have to win around eight games after returning from their bye week. If they can do any better than that, it would only put pressure on the other teams in the division (all of which face tougher schedules) to win as many games as possible. Seattle has gone on runs late in the season many times in Russell Wilson’s career, and while it likely won’t be necessary this time around, I can see it happening anyway since they don’t have to face much of an uphill climb if they fall behind.
San Francisco will have to prove they are as good as they were a year ago and can avoid the Super Bowl hangover, which is a very real thing and since the 2010 season has sent all but one team from losing the Super Bowl to either losing in an earlier round the next season or missing the playoffs entirely. The 2017 New England Patriots being the lone outlier who returned to the Super Bowl the following year and also managed to win it all.
2009 runner up lost in wild card round
2010 runner up lost in wild card round
2011 runner up lost conference title game
2012 runner up lost conference title game
2013 runner up lost in divisional round
2014 runner up lost in divisional round
2015 runner up missed playoffs
2016 runner up lost in divisional round
2017 runner up won super bowl
2018 runner up missed playoffs
2019 runner up TBD
Seattle has a quality roster, one of the best coaches, a middle of the road schedule, and a defending division champion that has a lot of pressure to repeat their season from a year ago – that again game down to a fluky series to end the regular season. I can’t tell you what might happen if Seattle makes it to the postseason, but I can tell you this – they will get there. They might even win the division crown along the way. I repeat – the Seahawks will land in the postseason.
I won’t go so far as to to tell you they will make it to the Super Bowl or win it, although that is definitely a possibility. While they have been a dark horse going into the playoffs most years, I could easily see them earning home-field advantage this time and going on a run. And before any of you scoff at that, again, they were one very odd series away from earning a first-round bye a year ago, and they have a more talented roster this season with a schedule that is more or less the same difficulty it was last year.
Good luck to Seattle in 2020, they kic koff their season in Atlanta this Sunday morning at 10am pacific time, with the game broadcast on FOX. Enjoy the game, and enjoy the season.
Welcome back football.