When will Seattle begin to gain league-wide respect as a serious contender in the NFC? I would argue now is the perfect time.
The Seattle Seahawks, enlightened by stud young rookies and the Geno Smith resurgence, now have sole possession of the NFC West. The unit is coming off a three game winning streak in which at the time they beat the 2-3 Cardinals, the 4-2 Chargers, and the 6-1 Giants. Not only did they beat these teams, but they did so in dominating fashion, winning each game by multiple scores.
There is something serious brewing in Seattle, and of course, it all starts with Geno Smith. Smith, now seven games into the season, leads the NFL in completion percentage and has tallied together an impressive 1,924 yards throwing for 13 touchdowns and only three interceptions. Initially, concerns around Smith’s ability to sustain a high level of play began to surface, yet he’s proven week after week there is nothing fluke-like about his play style. But everyone knows this. Enough has been said about the resurgence of Geno Smith. Not enough is being said of the rest of the team.
Tyler Lockett put it best after Sundays win against the Giants: “It’s amazing what we can accomplish when no one cares who gets the credit”. The Seahawks are loaded with performers across the team, so where does one start?
After a miserable start on the defensive side of things, Seattle has been quick to flip the script. Just three weeks ago, Seattle’s defense ranked 31st in total DVOA. Currently, they sit at 12th overall and in the last three weeks they’ve been leading the league. Rookie corners Tariq Woolen and Coby Bryant have been critical components to this turnaround. Woolen has bolstered himself as a serious defensive rookie of the year candidate with his league-leading four interceptions. He’s shown the ability to run stride for stride with any receiver in the league, and effectively blanket a quarterbacks number one option despite having such raw cover skills.
But it’s not only the corners playing well, the units play as a whole has been critical to the turnaround. Seattle’s pass rush has come to life after their slow start. They had five sacks against the Giants and have had over three sacks in each of their last three games. The unit collectively only had one such game in the first five weeks. Their run defense has been stout too, and they held the Giants number one rushing attack in the league to only 2.8 yards per carry. Not to mention Carroll and company expect to get Alton Robinson and Tre Brown back in the coming weeks.
On the offensive side, Marquise Goodwin has stepped into the wide receiver three role that Carroll and Schneider have so desperately been searching for over the past three seasons. He has eight receptions for 100 yards and two touchdowns in their last two games. And then there’s the explosion of Kenneth Walker who has not allowed the Seahawks run game to miss a beat after Rashaad Penny went down with a season ending injury.
I’ve said all this about the offense without mentioning perhaps the most crucial key to the picture: the outstanding play they’ve gotten from both rookie tackles Abe Lucas and Charles Cross. The two have proven to be stout anchors to the passing pocket, a problem that has extended in Seattle since the day Russell Wilson was initially drafted.
While January is quite far away and anything can happen between now and then, this team is preparing itself to be a nightmare for any team in the playoffs. Should they be able to win the NFC West, opposing teams will have to travel to the Pacific Northwest for at least one wild card game. Going against that fleecing defense and having to guard those offensive weapons will be quite the task for any team, let alone the cold weather and deafening crowd.
The Seahawks are more than just a Geno Smith feel good story. This team is a serious contender in the league, and they’ve got the stats to back it up. There’s no telling how far they will go, but if Pete Carroll continues to preach team ball and complimentary football, things could get very real very fast for the rest of the league.