Bumpus: Biggest surprises on offense and defense for Seahawks
Jan 6, 2023, 3:49 PM
(Lindsey Wasson/Getty Images)
The Seahawks entered the 2022 season with very little expectations, but entering the final week of the regular season, Seattle has a very realistic shot at making the playoffs.
During this past offseason, the Seahawks traded quarterback Russell Wilson to the Denver Broncos for a hefty package involving draft draft picks and later parted ways with perennial All-Pro linebacker Bobby Wagner. Those two moves in particular seemed to signal that Seattle was unlikely to contend for a playoff spot in 2022.
But thanks to a number of surprise players on both sides of the ball, the Seahawks got into a groove during the middle of the season and despite some struggles over the last two months find themselves knocking on the door of a Wild Card berth in the NFC.
The “easy answer,” Bumpus said, is Geno Smith, the Seahawks’ new starting quarterback who made the Pro Bowl roster for his play this season.
“Geno has clearly been the biggest surprise … Finally going into a Pro Bowl, fourth when it comes to passing yards, No. 1 in completion percentage, 29 touchdowns – he had 28 in four years with the Jets,” Bumpus said. “That’s easy and I understand if you pick that. I probably should pick that.”
All that being said, Bumpus is going with two picks: rookie tackles Charles Cross and Abraham Lucas.
Cross, Seattle’s left tackle, was the No. 9 pick in last April’s draft while Lucas was taken in the third round out of WSU.
“Because to play those positions as rookies and to go through all the D-ends and edge rushers they’ve to face this year, it’s been fun to watch,” Bumpus said. ” … It’s always nice when your No. 9 pick overall comes through and performs like a guy who was the No. 9 pick and has potential, and then you grab an offensive tackle in the later rounds and he performs at a high level.”
Additionally, the Seahawks have had a lot of issues solidyfing the offensive line in recent years, so getting both Cross and Lucas in the same draft and seeing them succeed right away is a big deal.
“Can they add a guy or two on that line? For sure. But you’re starting off on the right foot with these young tackles on the outside,” Bumpus said. “I look on offense and I say yes, Geno is easily the guy you should pick, but I’m just going to exclude Geno because we’ve given him all his flowers this year. I’m looking at these young tackles and saying they’ve had a tall task. They go up against, in my opinion, the most athletic football players on the field at any time. Those are those edge rushers … I love the progress that this offensive line has made. I look at Abe, I look at Charles Cross and I say those are my guys.”
Like on offense, there’s an “easy pick” for the biggest surprise on defense, Bumpus said. That would be rookie cornerback Tariq Woolen, a fifth-round pick who has started every game for the Seahawks this season and is tied for the NFL lead in interceptions. He, like Smith, made the Pro Bowl.
So why isn’t Woolen Bumpus’ actual pick here?
“The reason why I’m not giving it to Tariq Woolen is because by like Week 5 of 6, we knew. We’re like, ‘Alright, this guy is something special, he’s overachieving, he’s going to be the starter for years to come at this point,'” he said.
Instead, Bumpus showed some love to Woolen’s counterpart at cornerback, Michael Jackson.
Jackson, a fourth-year pro, has started every game at outside cornerback for the Seahawks opposite Woolen. He hasn’t been as flashy as the rookie this year, but Jackson has broken up 11 passes in 2022 and recorded his first career interception last week in a win over the New York Jets.
“He beat out Tre Brown. (Brown has) been active and they’re like, ‘Look, now we’re still going to roll with our guy Mike Jackson. He’s been doing well,” Bumpus said. “And then he kept Coby in the slot. Coby Bryant was supposed to be an outside guy. I think with the way that Mike Jackson was performing at that corner spot, they felt more comfortable putting Coby into the slot and saying alright, we’ve got a guy on the outside to hold it down for now until guys get healthy. But guess what? Guys got healthy and Mike Jackson kept his spot.”
Listen to the full second hour of Thursday’s bump and Stacy at this link or in the player below.