JOE FANN

Fann: Why Seahawks are versatile enough to sustain success

Nov 8, 2022, 11:12 AM
Seahawks Kenneth Walker III...
Seahawks RB Kenneth Walker III runs for a touchdown against Arizona on Nov. 6, 2022. (Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images)
(Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images)

The Seahawks are now 6-3 through Week 9 of the NFL season and winners of four straight games, and we’re running out of reasons to question the sustainability of this run.

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Seattle has shown to be versatile enough to be a problem for anybody without exhibiting an obvious Achilles heel that would suggest this roster is about to turn into a pumpkin. That multiplicity on both sides of the football should theoretically allow the Seahawks to remain competitive and endure potential week-to-week regression in any specific area.

Let’s start with the offense, where Seattle has been one of the most efficient teams in the NFL in both the run and pass games. The Seahawks rank fourth in points scored, 11th in total yards, seventh in net yards per pass attempt and third in net yards per rush attempt. The offensive line has been stellar as well despite being anchored by a pair of rookie tackles. Seattle ranks fourth in ESPN’s pass block win rate model.

Geno Smith gets a ton of credit for playing like a legit MVP candidate midway through the season. Smith ranks sixth in passing yards (2,199), fifth in passing touchdowns (15), first in completion percentage (73.1%), third in QB rating (107.2) and fourth in QBR (68.0). He and offensive coordinator Shane Waldron have been in lockstep since Week 1.

Smith also has a deep and varying cast of skill players surrounding him. DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett are one of the most dependable wide receiver duos in the NFL. The same could be said for tight ends Noah Fant and Will Dissly, with a little bit of Colby Parkinson sprinkled in.

Sunday’s win in Arizona was a tremendous showcase of Seattle’s versatility on offense. While Lockett and Metcalf each found the end zone, it was the tight ends who gave the Cardinals defense fits. Waldron continued to utilize the underneath tight end crosser off play-action, and Arizona repeatedly had no answer. Fant posted five catches for 96 yards while Dissly and Parkinson chipped in for a combined five catches for 30 yards.

Rookie running back Kenneth Walker III needs to be mentioned as Seattle’s closer. The Seahawks have been able to dominate on the ground in the fourth quarter despite being in obvious running situations. Seattle has won four straight games by double digits, and Walker has a fourth quarter touchdown run in all four. Walker has amassed 424 yards and six touchdowns during the winning streak.

Seattle’s defense has been even more impressive. Overall, the Seahawks are tied for fourth in sacks (27) and tied for fifth in quarterback hits (54). That’s due in large part to Uchenna Nwosu, who has been a home run free agent signing. He leads the team with seven sacks with Darrell Taylor (three), Quinton Jefferson (three), Cody Barton (two), Boye Mafe (two), Al Woods (two), Shelby Harris (two) and Poona Ford (two) all contributing multiple sacks.

The secondary, powered by the emergence of Ryan Neal, Tariq Woolen and Coby Bryant, has allowed just four touchdown passes over the last four weeks, one of which was a garbage time score from Justin Herbert in Seattle’s dominant Week 7 win against the Chargers. Over the last two weeks, the Seahawks have allowed just 62 total yards to Saquon Barkley and 36 receiving yards to DeAndre Hopkins.

Seattle’s defensive turnaround has been nothing short of astonishing. Even when you include the horrific five-week start, the Seahawks’ defense still ranks 12th in full-season DVOA, 14th in PFF grade and 16th in net yards allowed per pass attempt.

The Seahawks also rank fifth in total DVOA, one spot ahead of the Chiefs, and sixth in total PFF grade, two spots ahead of the Cowboys.

So, yes, I do think Seattle’s success is sustainable, and I’d argue that the team’s versatility will make them a problem for even the NFL’s top Super Bowl contenders. The Seahawks will have a chance to prove me right this Sunday against the Buccaneers as neutral-site underdogs and again in Weeks 15 and 16 against the 49ers and Chiefs, respectively.

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