Will the Seahawks again be in NFL’s toughest division in 2020?
If 2020 ends up anything like 2019, the Seahawks will again face a tough task in six of their 16 games, as the NFC West was widely regarded this season as the toughest division in the NFL.
Signs point to that being the case again next season.
The San Francisco 49ers won the division with a 13-3 record, were the No. 1 seed in the NFC and are in the upcoming Super Bowl, with one of the best defenses in the league and a roster loaded with youth and depth.
The Seahawks won 11 games and went to the playoffs, winning a game before dropping a close one to the Green Bay Packers. They have one of the best, if not the best, quarterbacks in the NFL in Russell Wilson, and return a 1,200-yard rusher in Chris Carson. Linebacker Bobby Wagner led the league in tackles, was a first-team All Pro and will be back to lead the Seattle defense.
The Los Angeles Rams were in the playoff picture for most of the season, going 9-7 a year after making the Super Bowl. Most of their players from that Super Bowl team are still on the roster, including star defensive tackle Aaron Donald, and they also acquired Jalen Ramsey, who many regard as the best cornerback in the NFL.
The Arizona Cardinals, who had the No. 1 pick in the last NFL draft, went 5-10-1 and won in Seattle in Week 16. Quarterback Kyler Murray, who was the first overall pick last year, is likely the Offensive Rookie of the Year. They also have Chandler Jones, who led the NFL in sacks in 2019, and safety Budda Baker, a University of Washington product who fourth in the NFL in tackles. Arizona also handed the Seahawks a 27-13 loss in Week 16.
Add it all up, and the NFC West was the only division in football with three teams to win nine or more games, and the last-place team is on the rise.
“I think the Rams are going to continue to take a step back … I think the Cardinals step up,” Bob Stelton said. “The 49ers look like they’re going to be good for a bit. You expect to see the Seahawks to be (good).”
Stelton said he thinks the Rams will finish in last place in the division next season, just two seasons after winning the NFC Championship.
Bumpus said the Rams’ struggles were largely due to a struggling rushing attack.
“I think for the Rams to get back on track, they’ve got to figure out Todd Gurley and that run game,” Bumpus said.
He also thinks the Cardinals are a better team than people give them credit for.
“You look at Kyler Murray and the Cardinals, they felt a lot better than (their record indicates), especially when you come into Seattle and smack the Hawks like they did,” he said.
The Seahawks will remain in the thick of things going forward, Bumpus said, but they do need to add more pieces even though the foundational guys are already there.
“As long as you have Russell Wilson, a solid run game and Bobby Wagner (they’ll be fine),” Bumpus said, noting the team found ways to win when things were seemingly stacked against them, like injuries and halftime deficits.
Dave Wyman thinks the defense, which was among the worst in the league in 2019, is closer to being good than people think. Wyman thinks they need a pass rush, but the secondary and linebackers are pretty much set.
“If (cornerback Tre Flowers) takes the same step (Pro Bowl cornerback) Shaquill Griffin did, you’ll be happy with corner,” Wyman said.
Wyman added that while Flowers ended the season with struggles, he led the team in interceptions and played well the first 12 games of the year. The secondary will also likely have a full year of free safety Quandre Diggs playing next to either Bradley McDougald or Marquise Blair.
“I think (the Seahawks) are pretty close,” Wyman said.
Wyman, like Stelton, thinks the Rams are in trouble going forward.
“I don’t believe in (quarterback) Jared Goff,” he said. “I think Jared Goff might be one of those guys that drops off significantly.”
Making things trickier for the Rams is that they don’t have a first-round draft pick until 2022 and are currently have the ninth-fewest cap space heading into the 2020 offseason.
With the 49ers, Wyman thinks due to their youth and depth, they’re here to stay. Despite that, the Seahawks have shown they match up well with the NFC champions.
“That style and the way they run and the things that they do, the Seahawks played them very, very tight and some teams just got killed,” Wyman said.
Listen to the discussion at this link or in the player below at roughly the 36:05 mark.