Technically, the midway point of the 2022 season passed two weeks ago. But with the NFL schedule now featuring an odd number of games, there's not a true midseason point anyway and the Seahawks will enjoy a much-deserved bye week in Week 11 before entering the home stretch of their schedule.
With seven games left to play, how have Seattle's offensive position groups performed amid a surprising 6-4 start that has vaulted the team to first place in the NFC West? Here's my grades for the first 10 weeks of the season:
Excellent, magnificent, outstanding. All of these adjectives can aptly be used to describe Smith's unexpected resurgence as one of the top quarterbacks in the league efficiently orchestrating Seattle's offense with great precision and confidence. Second in the league with a 108.0 passer rating and completing 72.8 percent of his passes, the veteran currently has the fourth-best completion rate through 10 games in NFL history and he hasn't achieved that success to become a legitimate MVP candidate by simply dinking and dunking down the field.
According to NFL Next Gen Stats, Smith ranks first in the league with a 6.8 completion percentage above expectation, nearly double Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. Per Pro Football Focus, he's completed 21 "big time throws," ranking fourth behind only Josh Allen, Aaron Rodgers, and Tom Brady, while posting a superb 17:4 touchdown to interception ratio. He's also been money throwing when pressured, completing a league-high 62.1 percent of his passes for 622 yards, five touchdowns, and only one pick. Putting a cherry on top, while Carroll wants to see him run less, he's been effective using his legs with 218 rushing yards. Not bad for a journeyman who many believed wouldn't even beat out Drew Lock for the starting job in August.
Going into the season, the Seahawks had high expectations for their backfield stable with Rashaad Penny returning on a one-year deal and rookie Ken Walker III arriving as a second-round pick after winning the Doak Walker Award at Michigan State. While Penny unfortunately suffered a season-ending ankle injury in Week 5, the group has met lofty expectations for the most part. Before going down, Penny averaged north of six yards per carry and already had racked up five runs of 20-plus yards, which ranked first in the league at the time of his injury. Per PFF, he also ranked in the top 10 in yards after contact and fourth in breakaway yardage.
Even after Penny landed on injured reserve, Seattle's run game hasn't missed a beat with Walker immediately surfacing as one of the league's premier young running backs. Making his presence quickly felt with a 69-yard touchdown against the Saints as Penny's replacement, the explosive, powerful runner has proven himself to be a master at turning negative runs into positive ones with his elusiveness and underrated tackle-breaking ability. Since Week 5, he ranks third in the NFL in rushing yards, sixth in missed tackles forced, and second in 10-plus yard runs behind only Josh Jacobs. If there's an area for improvement, he has to get better in pass protection, where he's allowed six pressures on 33 pass blocking snaps.
Statistically, DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett aren't having the best seasons of their respective careers. Metcalf's 581 receiving yards and four touchdowns are the lowest totals through 10 games in his four seasons as a Seahawk, while Lockett's 640 receiving yards are his lowest total through 10 games since 2018. With that said, both players still rank in the top 20 in receptions and receiving yards despite battling lower body injuries in recent weeks, remaining quite productive while continuing to build chemistry with Smith. Both stars look poised to finish strong after a much-needed bye week to get closer to 100 percent health.
Away from Metcalf and Lockett performing to their usual excellent standards, Marquise Goodwin has given the Seahawks a shot in the arm as a viable third target. After a sluggish start, the speedy veteran has caught 12 passes for 164 yards and three touchdowns in his past four games, emerging as a trusted target for Smith. If there's a negative at wideout, former second-round pick Dee Eskridge has yet to take the step forward the team hoped he would, catching just seven passes for 58 yards and no touchdowns while suiting up for all 10 games thus far. Receiving any notable production from him in the second half would be a huge plus for the offense.
Throughout training camp and the preseason, Carroll and his players hyped up Seattle's tight end group, with the coach himself calling it the best group they've ever had. Unlike past years where hype didn't translate to production, however, the trio of Noah Fant, Will Dissly, and Colby Parkinson have thrived in Shane Waldron's 12 and 13-heavy scheme. With Smith actively targeting his tight ends in the passing game more than former starter Russell Wilson ever did, the trio has combined to catch 69 receptions for 736 yards and five touchdowns. All three players have brought different strengths to the table, as Fant has excelled creating after the catch, Parkinson has averaged nearly 14 yards per reception as a field-stretching vertical threat, and Dissly has remained ever-so-reliable moving the chains and excelling in the red zone.
What has put this group over the top, however, has been the surprising contributions from Fant and Parkinson as blockers. A former defensive lineman at Washington, Dissly has always been a stout blocker in the trenches, but Fant and Parkinson entered the league as glorified receivers with limited experience or ability as traditional inline tight ends. Taking to coaching to improve technique and hitting the weight room, both players have made major strides this season, helping spring running backs on numerous occasions with key blocks either in the trenches or in space. All three have proven to be capable all-around players, giving Waldron immense formational flexibility.
Breaking in three new starters, including making history starting a pair of rookie tackles from day one, nobody would have been surprised if the Seahawks struggled to protect Smith or open up running lanes for Penny and Walker out of the gate. In fact, that was the consensus expectation for a group that has consistently struggled during the Carroll era. But Charles Cross and Abraham Lucas haven't just looked like capable starting tackles. While they've had rookie lumps, both players have surpassed all expectations anchoring a surprisingly good offensive line, with Lucas ranking 16th and Cross ranking 28th among 56 qualified tackles in pass protection grade per Pro Football Focus. Each has been better than expected as run blockers coming from Air Raid college offenses and should only continue to get better as they gain experience in the final seven weeks.
While line coach Andy Dickerson deserves a ton of credit, the arrival of center Austin Blythe in free agency has given Seattle a much-needed upgrade at the pivot position and his communication skills and knowledge of the offensive scheme have helped Cross and Lucas immensely to kick off their careers. In his own right, Blythe has only allowed 10 pressures in pass protection, though his run blocking has been shaky at times due to his lack of size. Meanwhile, Damien Lewis has rebounded from a series of injuries to turn in a fine third season at left guard, yielding only nine pressures in nine starts and excelling in the run game. A platoon between Gabe Jackson and Phil Haynes at right guard has functioned well in recent weeks, but Haynes has been the better player statistically with Jackson struggling in pass pro most of the season and surrendering 20 pressures on just 219 snaps.
Hey, 12s! Get your Seahawks Tickets from SI Tickets ... HERE!
Want the latest in breaking news and insider information on the Seahawks? Click Here to subscribe to AllSeahawks.com's Newsletter.
Want even more Seattle Seahawks news? Check out the SI.com team page here.