Salk on Seahawks: What we’re most confident and least confident in

Sep 6, 2022, 9:05 AM | Updated: 9:14 am

Seahawks Rashaad Penny...

Rashaad Penny runs for a touchdown in a Seahawks game against the Detroit Lions on Jan. 2, 2022. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

(Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

A transitional season for head coach Pete Carroll’s Seattle Seahawks is officially just days away. With several big changes to the team since the end of the 2021 season, there is a lot to digest.

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Geno Smith will take over at quarterback after beating Drew Lock in the competition to be Russell Wilson’s replacement. The offense in general will shift to more of an emphasis on the running game than it had with Wilson in recent seasons. And on the other side of the ball, there’s a new defensive coordinator (Clint Hurtt), several new coaches and a new 3-4 scheme up front.

Last week, Mike Salk of Seattle Sports’ Brock and Salk looked over this Seahawks team to share what he’s most confident and least confident about them heading into the 2022 season. He also added what he finds to be the biggest unknown about the Hawks.

Here’s a look at what he had to say.

Most confident in the Seahawks’ running game

Even with (second-round running back Ken Walker III injured), I am most confident in the running game. This offensive line is built for the running game. It’s got the right offensive line coach now (Andy Dickerson). They have running backs who I think are the ultimate strength of this roster. I think Rashaad Penny showed at the end of last year what he can do. He looked fantastic at the beginning of training camp.

There is a question mark or two here, of course: the rookie tackles (Charles Cross and Abraham Lucas), whether they can rise to the occasion right off the bat and move people, but we’ve seen no evidence yet that that’s going to be a problem for them. And I guess the only real question mark I have with the running game is whether they can throw the ball just well enough to be able to keep other teams from stacking the box against them. That’s the concern – are other teams gonna be like, ‘Yeah, alright. You throw it all you want, let Geno do whatever he needs to do – you’re not gonna run against us.’

So they’re gonna have to be able to at least complete a few passes a game to be able to take some of the pressure off the running game, but I think Rashaad Penny is one of the most talented guys on the team when healthy, and Ken Walker’s a really interesting young player, so I am most confident I would say in their running game.

Least confident in the QBs’ ability to win close games late

Well, it’s the quarterback situation (that I’m least confident in), but let me be more specific than that. It’s specifically the ability of either of these two quarterbacks – but starting with Geno – to pull out victories in close games, to lead the last two-minute drive necessary to win football games. This is the NFL. Games come down to the final few minutes all the time. Even for mismatched teams, it often comes down to what you can execute in the final drive or two of the game.

Obviously with Drew I have some major concerns about his ability to hang onto the football and not give it to the other team. I don’t feel that as much about Geno – I’m a little worried about his ability to move the ball consistently up and down the field. If they can just hold onto it enough, though, score a couple points a game, not turn it over too often, use the running game, he throws a couple of good balls, then I think the offense can be serviceable throughout the game. And I have some level of confidence that this new defense will be better than it showed in the preseason once they start scheming and doing all the things that make a defense real.

My fear, though, is you get into these close games, you’re down 24-21 late and you get the ball at your own 15-yard line down three with a minute and a half left, and Geno can’t do anything with it. For the last decade we’ve seen Russell Wilson in those situations stay calm, stay neutral, take the ball, drive down the field, use his legs, make a throw that he hasn’t made all year, improvise something – it’s just been different. So I am least confident in their ability to pull out the close games with an important last-minute drive. I think Geno can survive for the first 58 minutes, but NFL games come down to those final drives, and that’s not who he is.

Biggest unknown is the defense in general

I really still don’t feel like I have a clue what this defense is going to be. I don’t think we got to see a fair shot of it in preseason. The two star safeties (Jamal Adams and Quandre Diggs) didn’t play. The corners looked totally different. We barely saw the inside linebackers in there, certainly Jordyn Brooks. There was no real scheming done, and all of the things that they’ve been working on, all the new stuff with two or three new coordinators and coaches on defense that are supposed to completely change the tenor of what they do, we haven’t seen any of it. So that’s the most up in the air to me.

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Salk on Seahawks: What we’re most confident and least confident in