STACY ROST

Rost: What we’re still waiting to see from Seahawks after 12 weeks

Nov 28, 2022, 1:19 AM

Seahawks...

Seahawks coach Pete Carroll reacts after a field goal in the fourth quarter against the Las Vegas Raiders. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

(Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

The Seahawks are two games back in the NFC West, but with six games left to play (including another against the NFC West-leading 49ers) there’s still time to get back into the playoff picture.

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To do that, Seattle will need to figure a few things out first. Here’s what we know about the Seahawks after 12 weeks, and what we’re still waiting to see from them.

What we’re waiting to see on offense

We know the Seahawks offense can put up points against almost anyone. Outside of a struggle in Week 2 against San Francisco, one of the league’s best defenses, Seattle has nearly always found ways to score. Even after a horrendous outing through the first three quarters against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Seahawks found the end zone on back-to-back drives in their efforts to rally from behind. That continued Sunday when the offense dropped 34 points on the Raiders, which was the third-most points from any offense this weekend.

Problem is, 34 points wasn’t enough. Because one of the only other two teams to outscore the Seahawks was their Week 12 opponent, the Raiders.

There’s not much to knock when it comes to the offense. There’s room for improvement on third down (they were 3 for 9 in Week 12 and 1 for 9 in Week 10) and they struggled to get the run game going for a second consecutive game (though their struggles against the Bucs may have also stemmed from field conditions). Instead, what we’re waiting to see is whether Geno Smith can engineer a game-winning drive late.

It’s not fair to put that burden on one player, but the spotlight often falls on the quarterback, and the league’s best have found ways to get it done. It’s not without fail, but it’s also the reason no defense wants to see Patrick Mahomes or Josh Allen with the ball in their hands with a minute remaining. In Smith’s defense, he hasn’t had too many opportunities. But Week 12 brought the first, and — despite an otherwise stellar season — Smith and the offense fell short.

What we’re waiting to see on defense

We know Seattle’s defense has talent. Rookie Tariq Woolen is one interception away from setting a franchise record and is a candidate for Defensive Rookie of the Year. Meanwhile, Jordyn Brooks is third in the league in tackles and one of just three defenders with triple-digit tackles through 12 weeks. Uchenna Nwosu leads the team in sacks with seven, and Quandre Diggs, who had been the team’s interception leader the past two seasons, notched two picks Sunday against Derek Carr.

What we’re waiting to see is whether they can stop the run, which has been an issue more often than not in a few ugly losses. Seattle’s defense allowed 283 yards on the ground to the Raiders, which believe it or not is the third time they’ve allowed more than 200 rushing yards. Fail to defend the run and everything else kind of falls apart, too: Seattle allowed 576 net yards from Vegas and allowed the offense to convert on 57% of third down attempts. Diggs’ two picks, a vital third-down stop in overtime by Shelby Harris, and a turnover on downs after a Seattle fumble were highlights. In fact, the defense as a whole has gotten better with takeaways this year. But the Seahawks will find themselves in trouble more often than not giving up yardage like that.

The defense did manage to shut down Raiders receiver Davante Adams, at least for the most part. Postgame, coach Pete Carroll hinted that efforts to contain the Raiders’ best weapon may have exposed them to the run.

“We did some things that we wanted to do in the game plan on defense to slow down Davante and take him real seriously, and we gave up too much in the run game,” Carroll said. “We did not play the run worth a darn. And we didn’t rush the passer as well as we needed to either.”

Josh Jacobs’ 86-yard rushing touchdown to win the game in overtime felt like a microcosm of Seattle’s biggest problem not just in this game, but all season long.

The challenge for the remaining games: Seattle found a way to cut down on rushing yards allowed in games against Arizona and the New York Giants, the latter being at the time the league’s No. 2 rushing offense. Find a way to tap back into whatever adjustments they made in those contests and they’ll improve their postseason odds.

What we’re waiting to see from the rest of the league

We know the Seahawks are good enough to make the postseason in a weakened NFC. The Packers, Rams, and Bucs — last year’s top teams in the conference — have all struggled. The Saints, Panthers and Falcons are all trailing a five-win Bucs team in the NFC South. Meanwhile, the Bears can hardly give Justin Fields enough weapons (nor keep him healthy) and the Cardinals are still working to find their way with Kyler Murray and Kliff Kingsbury.

What we’re waiting to see is whether the Hawks can actually make it. They were leading the NFC West before consecutive losses, paired with consecutive wins by the 49ers. The Eagles are one of the league’s most balanced teams and haven’t let up on their chase for the No. 1 seed. The 49ers have a ridiculous number of weapons on offense, the Vikings are holding steady atop the NFC North, and the Cowboys are hot on Philly’s tail in the East.

If the season ended today, the Seahawks would be on the outside looking in. Thankfully, there’s six weeks games left to play. But Seattle must not only improve its own record; now, it’ll have to keep close watch on the Commanders (7-5) and Giants (7-4).

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