K.J. Wright’s offseason Seahawks observations: Trenches, Geno Smith

Feb 23, 2023, 11:56 AM
Seahawks Geno Smitjh...
Geno Smith of the Seattle Seahawks throws a pass against the New Orleans Saints at Caesars Superdome on October 09, 2022. (Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
(Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

It wasn’t the K.J. Wright Show, but the legendary former Seahawks linebacker hit the Seattle Sports airwaves on Wednesday for an afternoon visit with Wyman and Bob.

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As you’d expect, a lot of the conversation centered around what the Seahawks did last season and what they need to do this offseason to be better in 2023.

Here’s a look at some of what Wright had to say.

Seahawks’ 3-4 defense

Wright played 11 seasons in the NFL, with 10 coming in Seattle. During his time with the Seahawks, Wright played outside linebacker in a 4-3 system. But in 2022, the Seahawks moved to a 3-4 front on defense under first-year defensive coordinator Clint Hurtt.

In 2022, the Hawks were 26th in total yards allowed, 30th in rushing yards allowed and 25th in points allowed.

“Just looking at the personnel that we had on the football field this past season, in particular with the linebackers and the interior defensive line, it was not pretty,” Wright said. “It was not pretty at all watching those guys get pushed around, just watching the linebackers get suffocated by blocks and not being able to find their way to make their plays.”

So what do the Seahawks need to do to help shore up the defense?

“I want more big boys up front. If you want to go 3-4, let’s get some big guys up there, some big Al Woods (type of players) at all three spots – the nose (tackle) and the two three-techniques,” Wright said. “… The interior guys, it’s not sitting well with me at all. I do believe (general manager John Schneider) understands that clearly (and knows) what he has to bring in to this football team, but he has got to address that if he wants to bring this defense to life. You have got to stop the run. That’s where it always starts. Stop the run … I don’t necessarily love the scheme, but I believe if we get bigger up front, then we can do better against the run.”

The Seahawks’ interior offensive line

Not only did the interior of Seattle’s defensive line not impress Wright, but the interior of Seattle’s offensive line faces some big questions heading into the offseason.

Left guard Damien Lewis is back for his fourth NFL season and the Seahawks re-signed rotational right guard Phil Haynes this week, but center Austin Blythe is a free agent and veteran right guard Gabe Jackson is potentially a cap casualty as he played less snaps than Haynes in 2022.

“We’ll see if he comes back or not,” Wright said of Jackson, his former college teammate at Mississippi State. “You’ve got to address that (spot), you’ve got to get more depth because I saw a few times where Gabe was rotating in and out throughout the game. We can’t be doing that. We’ve got to have our three guys in the interior and these guys have got to execute.”

Wright is a big fan of tackles Charles Cross and Abraham Lucas, who were rookies in 2022, and he liked how they grew throughout the year. But the interior of the offensive line “has got to be solid” if you’re going to be a winning franchise, Wright said.

“This was a rebuild year. I know we made the playoffs, but it still was a rebuild year,” he said. “To do it winning nine games is pretty cool. Let’s just keep adding more pieces to the puzzle, get bigger, get stronger on the inside, and let’s just flourish after that.”

The Seahawks’ QB question

Geno Smith was a Pro Bowler in 2022 after setting numerous Seahawks franchise passing records, and now all eyes are on if the veteran quarterback returns to Seattle and if so, for how much.

Earlier in the offseason, Wright wasn’t sure if Smith should be paid $30 million annually. Now, he thinks Smith will likely get at least $30 million per year over a two- or three-year deal.

That being said, Wright shared his reservations on paying any quarterback big money.

“When I sign a quarterback to my team, this is the guy, he is the guy. And the goal is, can this quarterback bring me a Super Bowl? Can he bring me a championship, yes or no?” Wright said. “… And if I don’t feel like this quarterback can bring me a Lombardi Trophy, my mindset should be let me add more pieces to the puzzle (at other positions).”

Wright noted that when you pay big money at quarterback, it does “shrink” the amount of money you can spend on other areas of need.

“So let me pay guys that I know that can do it, that I can trust to do it, versus putting all these eggs in one basket,” he said, pointing to the San Francisco 49ers and the talent they surrounded their quarterbacks with in 2022. ” … If I don’t necessarily believe in this guy, if I don’t necessarily think that he can get me to the promised land, I don’t want to just put all of this into this (one) position and limit myself in other moves.”

Is Smith that guy who can lead the Seahawks or another team to “the promised land” of a Super Bowl title?

“Yes. Yes, I think so,” Wright said. “With the help of other pieces. But here’s the thing with Geno and this team – there’s other pieces that need to be added to this team. There’s a lot of pieces that need to be added. So they need to see like, ‘Do we go this route? Or do we add other pieces to this puzzle?’ So there’s holes that they have to plug in with this football team.”

Listen to the full interview with Wright at this link or in the audio player near the top of this story.

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