STACY ROST

Rost: Seahawks’ season a big success whether or not they make playoffs

Jan 6, 2023, 9:38 AM
Seahawks Pete Carroll...
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll reacts after a touchdown against the Cardinals on Nov. 6, 2022. (Chris Coduto/Getty Images)
(Chris Coduto/Getty Images)

We don’t yet know whether the Seahawks will be playing in the postseason. In fact, even if they beat the Los Angeles Rams in Week 18, we won’t know their fate until the close of Sunday Night Football.

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Here’s what we know: the Seahawks are 8-8 heading into their matchup this weekend. They’ll either finish with a winning record and a chance to make the playoffs with a Packers loss, or they’ll be left with a losing record and be on the outside looking in for a second consecutive season.

Now for something we feel: Regardless of a win or loss Sunday, it’s hard to call this Seahawks’ season anything but a success.

Seattle’s players would probably disagree. So would Pete Carroll. The expectation was and always will be a trip to a Super Bowl. And considering some of the disappointments they’ve had – fielding a pretty abysmal run defense for much of the year and being swept by the NFC South – perhaps this feels like unnecessary fluff.

But it’s hard not to think of where this team started. Those lofty expectations were hardly felt outside of Seattle. For that matter, they were hardly felt outside of team headquarters. They traded away their franchise quarterback, released their best defensive player, and were coming off an already disappointing 2021 season. But there was reason for hope; they had a strong finish to the season from Rashaad Penny and a new defensive coaching staff tasked with making the most of Jamal Adams.

Heading into the final week of the regular season, this team doesn’t have either player. But they’re fighting for a shot at the playoffs – rather than looking to play spoiler – because of contributions from unexpected places. Geno Smith, who’d been a backup for years, became a Pro Bowler and the only quarterback not named Russell Wilson to throw for 4,000 yards in a season for the Seahawks. Tariq Woolen, a fifth round pick considered a project in training camp, became one of just two rookie pro bowlers, a defensive player of the year candidate, and set a franchise record for interceptions by a rookie in a single season. Rookie Ken Walker has a shot to hit 1,000 yards on the season during Sunday’s game. They had solid play from both rookie tackles and are still staring at a top-five pick in the draft.

The Seahawks had success in the absence of expectations. But in a challenge fitting for this team, success in turn breeds expectation – so forget a feel-good story, because 2023 will be about meeting them.

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