Seattle Seahawks: 9 wins – 8 losses, 7th in the NFC
No one expected them at this level. With the departures of two historic franchise leaders, Russell Wilson and Bobby Wagner, many thought they would see a very complicated 2023 season for the Seahawks. However, to everyone’s surprise, Pete Carroll’s men had a season beyond their expectations, with qualification for the playoffs on the wire. Nevertheless, the task promises to be difficult against better armed opponents.
How did they get there?
From the first meeting of the season, the Seahawks surprised the whole league by beating the new team of their former quarterback, Russell Wilson, yet much better armed. The start of a season full of surprises, during which Seattle will have alternated between the very good, like the victory on the field of the Chargers, and the most complicated, with five defeats in six games between weeks 10 and 16, for arrive in week 18 with a balance sheet, 8-8.
In a three-way race for the last jump seat for the NFC playoffs with the Packers and the Lions, the Seahawks had to win against the Rams and hope for a victory for Detroit in Green Bay. If they fulfilled their part of the contract, not without difficulty, their hopes rested on the Lions that they had just eliminated by winning. Luckily for Seattle, Detroit have, as they have all season, stuck to the game by prevailing over their division rivals despite the disappointment, qualifying Pete Carroll’s men in the process.
The key player: Geno Smith
When asked, “Which quarterback finished the 2023 season with the highest pass completion percentage in the entire league?” no one could even imagine for a second that the answer would be Geno Smith. For his first season as a starter since 2014 and his Jets years, Smith surprised his world. He who was to be a transition quarterback before the arrival, why not, of a player from the draft, finally revealed himself as an extremely solid pitcher. 4,282 yards, 30 touchdowns and 11 interceptions at 69.8%, Geno Smith simply broke all his career records this year, earning a place in the Pro Bowl at the same time.
At 32, he will discover the playoffs in the shoes of a holder. A first for the one who before this season was seen as a “bust”. An early elimination would in no way affect his resurrection, as the presence of the Seahawks at this stage is unexpected. From the very first, facing the best defense in the league, Geno Smith still hopes to continue to create surprise.
Why are they going to go all the way?
Despite the low expectations around this team, the workforce is still provided with talented players. Geno Smith is coming off a great season, DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett form a very dangerous receiver duo, and the defense has several playmakers, including Quandre Diggs, author of the decisive interception against the Rams. But it is above all the rookies who have established themselves in their first season as the centerpieces of the Seahawks. Tariq Woolen, drafted in the 5th round, is now recognized as a top cornerback in the league, Coby Bryant is coming off a great season as a nickelback, tackles Charles Cross and Abraham Lucas are very solid and runner Kenneth Walker has shown himself to be his advantage as the number 1 running back.
With so many talented young players, and surprise status, the Seahawks are moving forward with no pressure. The fact of being present in the playoffs is already an achievement in itself, and a defeat in the first round would only be the logic respected. Thus, any victory will be seen as a bonus to an already successful 2022 financial year.
However, Seattle still has, as a competitor, the desire to win. A rage to win that is personified in Pete Carroll. In the offseason opposition between the 71-year-old coach and Russell Wilson, it now seems obvious that the Seahawks executives made the right choice. Carroll has shown he’s still a big name coach, and his playoff experience will be a plus for this young squad.
Why won’t they go?
If Pete Carroll is used to this kind of meeting, this is not the case for the overwhelming majority of the workforce. Many of the holders are rookies, and Geno Smith, the quarterback, has never played at this level of competition despite his 32 years. Faced with more experienced opponents at these deadlines, the Seahawks’ inexperience could weigh heavily in the balance.
The Seahawks offense ranked in the middle of the basket in 2022. This is not the case for the defense which, if it is made up of good players, remains too weak for the playoffs level. 26th in yards conceded per game, 25th in points conceded, it is especially on the running game that the bottom hurts. Indeed, this defense ranks 30th in yards conceded on the ground per game. A huge flaw in the playoffs.
Finally, the Seahawks still seem overall much weaker than the rest of the NFC teams. They qualified on the gong, unlike all their potential opponents, guaranteed to participate in the playoffs before the last match. Seattle couldn’t let up for a moment, and that could count in the decisive moments.
Like many NFL teams, Seattle has not been spared injury. In the first meeting of the season, they lost their safety Jamal Adams following a tear in the quadriceps. His absence was felt enormously, especially on the run stop. A few weeks later, it was running back Rashaad Penny’s turn to break his leg. Finally, during the penultimate week of competition, linebacker Jordyn Brooks broke his cruciate ligaments in his knee. These three players will be the main absentees from Seattle for the playoffs.
Several duty players will also be missing, such as Will Dissly, Josh Jones or Marquise Goodwin. Receiver D’Wayne Eskridge, meanwhile, could return after recently returning to practice.
If they were not expected at this level, the Seahawks land in the playoffs with the status of little thumb and no pressure on their shoulders. If this kind of unexpected team can occasionally create a surprise, Seattle still seems to lack the weapons to worry its opponents. The mission already seems almost impossible at the opening against the 49ers in full swing and who beat them twice in the regular season. If by some miracle they win, they will once again go from a distance against the Eagles, and so on. Never in these playoffs the Seahawks will be favorites, and they will have to chain exploits on exploits in order to glimpse the Super Bowl. Nonetheless, as we’ve seen time and time again, nothing is impossible in the NFL.