Heading into the offseason, I really thought this season would look a lot like 2011. But scratch that. This season we’re going to party like it’s 2012 because that’s what the on-field product is going to look like.
You may recall that heading into the season 10 years ago, there was just a little bit of room for optimism. QB Matt Hasselbeck was in Tennessee, leaving Tarvaris Jackson and Charlie Whitehurst to battle for the most critical role on the team. RB Marshawn Lynch was the only established star on offense, and he was searching for any kind of help he could get. The defense was just starting to gel as the “Legion of Boom” entered the season as the starters in the secondary, but they needed help up front and at LB.
Sometimes teams hit on their draft picks right when they need to, and that was the case for the Seahawks in the first three rounds of the 2012 draft. They selected LB Bruce Irvin in round one, LB Bobby Wagner in the second round, and Russell Wilson in the third. Even though they paid a high price to lure free agent QB Matt Flynn to the Emerald City, he never started a game as Wilson outplayed him in the preseason, earning the starting spot.
Their first three picks would become starters for the season, and they would help lead the team back to the playoffs, where they would win their first playoff game in two years as well as their first playoff victory on the road in three decades. A year later, they won the first Super Bowl in team history. Not a bad ending to such humble beginnings.
Fast forward to this year, and Seattle has the chance to start down a winning path yet again. With major needs in pass protection, rushing the passer, and running back, Seattle chose tackle Charles Cross in round one, adding DE Boye Mafe and RB Kenneth Walker III in the second round. With Wagner and Wilson departing this offseason, Chris Carson retiring, and Rashaad Penny’s injury history, it opens the door for their next wave of starters to take over for the future.
Why do I think this team will do well? First, Drew Lock is a nice little QB. He has a big arm and hasn’t played behind a talented offensive line before, and he definitely hasn’t played with receivers like DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett. If Lock can avoid being the problem, he could instead be a big reason why this offense just works. Wilson didn’t need to make a lot of big plays his first couple of years; he just needed to avoid mistakes and take what defenses gave him – his primary job was to hand off to Lynch and not throw interceptions when he kept the ball. Lock won’t have a much different role as he eases into the system.
It’s kind of backward from ten years ago when the defense was up and coming, but the offense was a bunch of question marks. The starting receivers in 2012 were an unproven Doug Baldwin and Golden Tate, rookie Jermaine Kearse, and an aging Sidney Rice. Yet somehow, they made it work and won eleven games, won a playoff game, and nearly found a way to win another. This year the offense has the advantage early on, but the defense has a chance to prove it’s underrated.
We’re just about three weeks away from Seattle’s first game of the season, which comes on Monday Night Football on September 12th. They will be hosting the Denver Broncos, the former team of QB Drew Lock, TE Noah Fant, and DE Shelby Harris.
It doesn’t take a lot of delusions to consider Seattle the favorite in that game. Wilson won’t have the advantage of knowing where his receivers will be when (not if) he extends the play by scrambling, so he will probably throw some passes that won’t find a receiver or, worse – will find a defender’s hands. Seattle has a more than decent front seven, so they will be able to get after him, and for once, there won’t be anyone asking them to stop once they get near Wilson. I won’t be surprised if Wilson comes out and scores quickly, but I also won’t be surprised if he starts slow and makes some crucial mistakes. We’ve seen both from him, so no one knows what to expect yet.
It’s going to be emotional for Wilson to be back at Lumen Field in the opposing team’s jersey without any time to get used to that idea. There won’t be a few games to get his head on straight, and this is not the kind of situation where you just want to rip off the bandaid; humans have feelings, and he’s going to be feeling a lot of things when he lines up across from his former teammates. It’s not clear to most people how or why the trade that sent Wilson to Denver took place or who requested it, but it is clear that he’s on the wrong side of the tracks now, and Seattle is a freight train waiting for him.
Did Wilson want out and force the issue? One could certainly make that claim after his play in the second half of the 2021 season – he didn’t look like a guy that wanted to be here, and his claim in the offseason that he wanted to win multiple Super Bowls, but the team would have to prove to him it had a championship roster made a lot of folks wonder if he was really interested in sticking around. Or did Pete want to start over with a roster that wasn’t bogged down by one player’s mega salary? One could certainly make that argument after the way the last couple of years have gone and what Seattle has had to do to make their roster look right with limited funds.
With many new faces on both sides of the ball, there is plenty of reason for optimism in Seattle. They are not breaking in a rookie QB, just a kid that hasn’t proven if he can play consistently in the NFL. To some, that’s better than a rookie; you don’t have to worry about the speed of the game getting to them. On defense, they have quality players at all positions and could have an improved secondary, which wouldn’t be saying much after their performances the last two years. Darrell Taylor is a force when he gets after the QB, Quandre Diggs is one of the best safeties in the league, and Jordyn Brooks is one of the best young LBs in the league.
On offense, Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf are two of the best receivers in the game, Rashaad Penny proved last year that he could be a lead back when healthy, and Noah Fant gives this team the field stretching TE they have needed for some time. They had a small taste of what their offense can look like with an athletic player at that spot last year with Gerald Everett, but Fant is a superior player and has a bigger body for Lock to find when he’s in a hurry. Lock and Fant came from Denver together, so they won’t have to spend any time getting in a rhythm.
It’s easy to point out the reasons why they will fail, but there’s plenty of room to be optimistic about the talent on this team. They won seven games last year; I can easily see them winning ten this year. They aren’t some disaster of scrubs and cast-offs; these are young and hungry athletes that want to prove themselves – and I think they’re going to surprise many people.