Rost’s Seahawks Q&A: Adams’ impact, Eagles comparison, more

Jul 4, 2023, 10:50 AM

Seattle Seahawks Pete Carroll Quandre Diggs Jamal Adams...

Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll talks to safeties Quandre Diggs and Jamal Adams. (Jane Gershovich/Getty Images)

(Jane Gershovich/Getty Images)

Seattle Seahawks training camp is less than a month away. Before we jump back into the NFL season – something I know many of you can’t wait to do – let’s first take a look at where this team stands this summer.

Rost: Three goals for the Seattle Seahawks’ offense in 2023

Here are a few of your top listener questions submitted via Twitter. Keep an eye out for Part 2, coming out next week.

Seattle Seahawks Q&A

Question: Is Dee Eskridge going to finally break out?

I’ve found that the sentiment around Eskridge, a 2021 second-round wide receiver, reminds me of how some fans felt about former Seahawks running back C.J. Prosise.

Like Prosise, Eskridge is a player who’s barely seen time due to injury and may find his role shrink, or even fall away altogether, as a result. It’s hard for me to be too tough on players who miss time when they get hurt, especially with concussions. It’s a traumatic brain injury that’s oft misunderstood and affects different players in different ways. What might cause one player to miss two weeks could keep another sideline for half a season. Eskridge has found himself the latter (remember, his was so severe that it caused him to seek out the help of a vision specialist).

One interesting contrast between Eskridge and Prosise, though, is the necessity of their role. Prosise was yet another banged-up running back in a group of banged-up running backs (a unit that, as a whole, has been snakebitten in Seattle), while Eskridge was a potential No. 3 behind two healthy and consistent 1,000-yard receivers. More bluntly, Seattle’s been lucky enough to not need him in quite the same way. Indeed, the real gut punch with Eskridge is not that Seattle has been lacking receiver talent but rather that he’s one of just three draft picks from 2021.

Any chance Eskridge had to prove himself as a No. 3 receiver dwindled this year with the addition of first-round pick Jaxon Smith-Njigba. This is a team that’s looking for more pass catchers and improvement on third down overall, so there’s still an open competition. He’ll need to prove himself a reliable target with a firm grasp of the playbook, who can contribute on special teams. I don’t know that I’ve seen enough from Eskridge to predict a breakout season, but there’s enough unproven talent behind DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett for him to compete for a spot. His best bet is to flash some of the speed that initially intrigued Seattle enough to reach for him. A couple big gains from the slot in the preseason could be enough to secure a spot.

Question: How can you be good with 30th-ranked front-seven talent?

The Seattle Seahawks ranked 30th against the run last year but underwent a facelift this offseason. I’d say the Seahawks upgraded with talent, though will need to prove it during the season.

Nose tackle remains their biggest question, as does depth at inside linebacker, but bringing in Bobby Wagner wasn’t just a cool storyline. He was one of the Rams’ better defenders last season and exceled against the run. Denver reportedly wanted to keep Dre Jones, but the Seahawks swayed him with what appeared to be more serious interest, and I think he makes them better. Jarran Reed returns to the city where he had his best season as a pro. This isn’t the stacked unit on paper that Philadelphia’s rolling out this season, but it’s hard not to at least feel optimistic about real growth.

• Question: Is Jamal Adams going to contribute in any capacity this season?

Yes, I think so. But his injury is very unique and does complicate things.

Adams remains one of the most fascinating players on this roster. There’s the draft capital invested that adds to the story (is this whole thing going to be the biggest bust for general manager John Schneider?), but there’s also very real talent. Adams is a phenomenal player. Don’t let his time missed convince you that he’s not talented. That whole “availability is the best ability” phrase isn’t wrong, until you consider that being able to record nine sacks and a couple interceptions is indeed a pretty amazing ability. I can guarantee you that this front office would rather have Adams at full strength for 13 games than have an average to below-average safety for 17.

Can he be full strength for a good chunk of the season, though? That’s the question for 2023, and his injury makes things tricky. ACL tears and strained hamstrings and broken legs are things this team has seen before. It doesn’t make it easier to come back but you get a pretty good understanding of the timeline. A fully torn quadriceps tendon isn’t quite as common, and I think it’s part of the reason head coach Pete Carroll has been vague about Adams’ timeline.

It’s fair to wonder whether Adams will be able to start the season. For the record, Carroll has remained optimistic about his chances and has not said Adams will start on the PUP list. The only update he’s given was a few weeks ago when he said we’d know more by training camp.

Will missing such significant time this offseason hamper Adams’ return? Will he have the same explosiveness?

We won’t know until he’s out there, but assuming he looks like his former self, I see no reason to think he can’t contribute. In fact, defensive coordinator Clint Hurtt’s 3-4 defense could be a better fit. They’ll look to that creativity and versatility at safety, and I think Seattle very much likes that it has so many potential contributors.

• Question: What is Seattle’s biggest strength and biggest weakness in a potential NFC championship matchup vs. the Eagles?

The Seattle Seahawks’ greatest strength against any team is going to be its passing offense. They were a top-10 offense last year in points scored and that’s in no small part due to quarterback Geno Smith’s efficiency, and the consistency from DK Metcalf and the criminally-underrated Tyler Lockett. Smith averaged a 106.5 passer rating when targeting Lockett last season, higher than Kirk Cousins’ rating when targeting Justin Jefferson (104) for Minnesota. That’s not to say Lockett is better than Jefferson, perhaps the league’s best wideout, but rather that Lockett is an incredibly reliable target in Seattle’s offense.

Unfortunately for the Seahawks, they’d be going against the league’s best pass rush which led the NFL last year in sacks. That Eagles defensive line and secondary also allowed the fewest passing yards (174) per game.

Seattle’s biggest weakness is, without a doubt, its defensive line. I mentioned they improved there this offseason and I do believe that, but last year’s Eagles averaged 152 rushing yards per game and were fourth in first downs gained on the ground. Can this defensive line stop Jalen Hurts and Philly’s dynamic run game? Until the answer is “yes” or “they can put up a fight”, Seattle’s still looking up.

• Question: If Coach Carroll was to suit up, where would you play him?

He’s got some speed still. I’ve seen him run down the field at training camp. I don’t think he’s got the trash talk or length of a corner, but he’s got the competitive mindset of a safety for sure.

• Question: Did the Seahawks do enough at edge, interior D-line and interior O-line to be a true contender in 2023?

My co-host Michael Bumpus and I talked about this one Thursday on Bump and Stacy. Honestly, my answer is no. But that’s not because I’m not optimistic about this team, nor is it because I don’t think they’re on the path to being a contender.

I still see a gap between Seattle and teams like San Francisco and Philadelphia. That’s largely because of the talent they have in the trenches. Philly had 70 sacks last year and one of the league’s best offensive lines. The 49ers finished with fewer sacks than the Seahawks but were tops in defensive DVOA. They once again proved to be nearly impossible to defend on offense until they had no one left to throw the ball.

Seattle entered the draft with a clear need on its defensive line and chose not to address it until Day 3. That’s OK. They clearly felt one of the top prospects, Jalen Carter, wasn’t a fit, and loved the potential they saw with Devon Witherspoon, the draft’s top corner. Schneider repeatedly told Seattle Sports hosts that Seattle had made mistakes in previous seasons by prioritizing need over talent, and he wanted to steer away from that approach this year.

A benefit is leaving the draft with the best corner and wide receiver in the class, creating the potential to be truly elite at both positions. A drawback is leaving with lingering questions in the front seven. Until those questions are more definitively answered, there’s still a gap. True contenders don’t struggle in quite as many areas as Seattle found itself struggling last year (chief among those were third-down conversions and run defense, along with inconsistent pressure rates).

But after capitalizing on its best draft in 10 years last season, Seattle may have found a few more gems. Witherspoon adds physicality and elite talent opposite last year’s Pro Bowl cornerback, Tariq Woolen. Smith-Njigba provides the first true third option in the passing game for this team in years. Zach Charbonnet brings a dynamic threat to a backfield that already boasts a rookie of the year candidate. And Derick Hall brings more speed to a quickly-growing pass rush rotation.

With a weakened NFC, the Seattle Seahawks can be a playoff team if Geno Smith plays like a Pro Bowler again and their best contributors continue to thrive (that, and if the Rams don’t surprise with a comeback season). But to be a true contender this season, not in 2024 or 2025, they’d need some surprises. A Pro Bowl season from Cam Young? A stellar showing from Evan Brown or Olu Oluwatimi? A return to double-digit sacks for multiple defensive linemen? Those are the things that speed up this return to contention.

Which OLB is Seattle Seahawks’ long-term future opposite Nwosu?

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