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Tom Wassell’s Seahawks Awards: The best of the 2019 regular season

Russell Wilson's TD throw to Tyler Lockett vs. the Rams is the Seahawks play of the year. (Getty)

Before the playoffs get started, let’s take a few minutes to reflect on what was a terrific season for the Seattle Seahawks. Their 11-5 finish capped off what was an incredible decade of success, highlighted by two Super Bowl appearances, including a championship.

Seahawks have key advantage with quarterback experience over Eagles

Here are my picks for some awards from the 2019 Seahawks season, plus a bonus music highlight for me from this year.

Best player: Russell Wilson, quarterback

The only two candidates I could consider for this award were Russell Wilson and Chris Carson. It goes to Seattle’s quarterback because he played at an MVP level for three quarters of the season. He made plays when they needed him, as usual. His passing numbers were way up from the last two seasons (4,110 yards) and he managed to keep the ball out of harm’s way while finding the end zone at his normal clip (31 touchdowns to just five interceptions). The offense may be run-oriented, and Carson had a phenomenal year, but without Russell, they’re nowhere.

Best rookie: DK Metcalf, wide receiver

Sometimes we’re told not to expect much from a rookie wide receiver because it takes a little while to adjust to the pro game, but that was not the case for this second-round pick out of Mississippi. He clocked in with 58 receptions for 900 yards and seven touchdowns, many of them at key times. With Doug Baldwin retired, this team was in desperate need of another play-making receiver, and alongside Tyler Lockett, Metcalf delivered in every conceivable way. The future is nothing but bright for the 6-foot-4 pass-catcher.

Best play: Tyler Lockett’s toe-tapper vs. Rams, Oct. 3

This game had so many incredible plays that it’s tough to pick just one from it, let alone the entire season. The chemistry between Wilson and Lockett is so locked in that we’re almost coming to expect catches like these, but when you go back and watch this play, you’ll still be left scratching your head. For Russell to make the decision to throw that ball is unbelievable in and of itself. For Lockett to haul it in with no room in the back corner of the end zone with great coverage – I’m not sure what else to say.

Best game: Seahawks 27, 49ers 24 (OT), Nov. 11

The choice came down to this game and the Week 5 win over the Rams at CenturyLink Field. I went with this Monday Night thriller because it was a game that few thought the Seattle could win, especially on the road. The big, bad 49ers hadn’t lost a game yet and the Seahawks were winning every game by the skin of their teeth up to that point. It wasn’t the most well-played game (turnovers galore), and things looked bleak late in the game when the Seattle was driving deep into San Francisco territory and Wilson threw one of the worst picks of his career. Thankfully, the Seahawks got the ball back and were able to kick a field goal in overtime to win the game. The Seahawks showed that if they could make big plays here and there, both on offense and defense, they’d be able to withstand mistakes – even against a great team. That may seem like a shaky formula, but here we are in the playoffs once again.

Biggest acquisition: Quandre Diggs, safety

Before the season started, this award was supposed to go to Ziggy Ansah. After Frank Clark was traded, Ansah was brought in to fill the pass-rushing void. Simple, right? Wrong. Ansah’s been hurt all year. Jadaveon Clowney is the other player that could get this award, and while he’s had a sustained presence in the backfield, making life difficult for opposing quarterbacks, he didn’t quite fill up the stat sheet like many of us had hoped. Three sacks for the year just isn’t all that impressive. Quandre Diggs, on the other hand, has proven to be a game-changer for the defense since he debuted in Week 10 after being acquired on Oct. 22. When he’s healthy, the Seahawks are just a different team. Having that safety who’s willing to lay in a big hit and prevent the big play from happening behind him is something this team just doesn’t have anywhere else on the roster. Lano Hill and Tedric Thompson couldn’t get the job done. Rookie Marquise Blair has shown promise, but Pete Carroll doesn’t quite trust him yet for some reason. With three interceptions in five games, Diggs is essential.

Biggest surprise: Joey Hunt, center

Center Justin Britt has been a pillar of the offensive line for a few years now and typically an injury at that position can be catastrophi, especially for a group that’s already unstable. Britt went down with a season-ending ACL injury in a Week 8 win over Atlanta, and the team’s only option to replace him was Hunt. When asked about the diminutive center, Pete Carroll said on more than one occasion how “smart” a player he was. I took that to mean that he’s smart but not that good. Ever since Hunt’s insertion into the role, however, we haven’t heard a peep about him. That’s a good thing. While he may not be turning in an All-Pro performance, he hasn’t been manhandled by opposing D-linemen either, even at 6-2. I guess being 300 pounds probably helps. Plus, he’s really smart.

Most improved: Shaquill Griffin, cornerback

In his 2017 rookie campaign, Griffin showed a ton of promise opposite Richard Sherman. There were bumps (think of that home loss to Washington), but it appeared that Carroll and general manager John Schneider had struck gold in the secondary once again. Then in 2018, he showed next to no growth. We interviewed Griffin before this season began and when asked what grade he would give his 2018 effort, his response was a D or D+. This season has been different. While he hasn’t risen to the rank of shut-down corner, he has been dependable and has come up with huge plays at critical points. Just the other night against San Francisco, his tackle prevented the 49ers from gaining a first down and allowed Seattle to get one last possession on offense. Let’s just hope those interception numbers can rise from zero next year.

Best Phish Show: July 14, Alpine Valley (East Troy, Wisc.)

To the non-fan, a 38-minute improvisational exploration may seem cringeworthy, but to those of us who “get it,” it was one of the musical and spiritual highlights of our lives. Set 1 included crisp versions of many songs that hadn’t been performed in years, but in set 2, the band leaped into a standard version of “Ruby Waves.” Instead of ending the song after the usual five or so minutes, they continued on for half an hour without stopping, exploring countless musical themes and styles, taking the 35,000 of us in attendance up, down, out and around, pushing their own musical boundaries beyond where they had ever been before. If I say anymore, I’ll ruin it. The footage is on YouTube, but the experience is in my memory.

Follow 710 ESPN Seattle’s Tom Wassell on Twitter.

Related: 710 ESPN Seattle’s top 10 Seattle sports stories of 2019

Jake & Stacy