Despite winning the NFC West and reaching the playoffs for the eighth time in nine years, the Seahawks endured a long, turbulent offseason revolving around one question: would Russell Wilson be under center in 2021?
Uncharacteristically outspoken in a series of interviews after Seattle’s disappointing early playoff exit, Wilson aired his grievances about poor pass protection, not being involved enough in personnel decisions, and his desire to have a greater voice in the team’s offensive play calling. Trade speculation soon ran rampant and the signal caller’s agent didn’t help matters by revealing four teams his client would be willing to drop his no-trade clause to play for.
Luckily for 12s everywhere, however, the star quarterback wasn’t dealt anywhere and by the time offseason workouts rolled around following the draft, Wilson, coach Pete Carroll, and the front office had smoothed things over. With No. 3 back in the saddle and a talented roster around him, the Seahawks intend to not only be in the mix for another division crown, but to return to the NFC’s elite and push to return to the Super Bowl for the first time since 2014.
Back for his 10th NFL season, Wilson hopes to benefit immensely from the arrival of new offensive coordinator Shane Waldron, who replaced Brian Schottenheimer after Seattle’s offense hit the skids in the second half of the 2020 season. Drawing raving reviews thus far, the new play caller has emphasized tempo throughout training camp as well as the preseason and a more intricate playbook will allow for the quarterback to make more pre-snap reads to keep opposing defenses on their toes.
While it may take time for the offense to click on all cylinders with a new scheme being implemented by Waldron, Wilson should have no shortage of weapons around him and the pieces are in place for a top-three scoring unit. The Seahawks re-signed running back Chris Carson in the offseason, bringing back the bruising ball carrier on a two-year deal to solidify their ground attack. On the outside, 1,000-yard receivers DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett will return for their third season together and the team bolstered the supporting cast around them by signing former Rams tight end Gerald Everett and using a second-round draft choice on speedy wideout Dee Eskridge.
In the trenches, Seattle should be improved along the offensive line as well. While left tackle Duane Brown has missed all of training camp “holding in” seeking a new contract, he’s expected to play in the season opener. Right tackle Brandon Shell will also return after exceeding expectations in his first year as a starter. The arrival of Gabe Jackson, who was acquired in a trade with Las Vegas in March, should give the team one of the best guard tandems in the league playing across from Damien Lewis. The only real question mark is center, as 2020 starter Ethan Pocic missed almost all of camp with a hamstring injury and inexperienced Kyle Fuller could be the starter to open the season.
For the first eight games last season, the Seahawks were on a historic pace defensively, and not the good kind. Dealing with numerous injuries and an anemic pass rush, they were allowing nearly 360 passing yards per game, which would have shattered the Packers' record mark. But after acquiring Carlos Dunlap in a midseason trade with Cincinnati and getting superstar safety Jamal Adams back from a hamstring injury, everything changed in the second half. With both players leading a revived pass rush, Seattle took a dramatic 180-degree turn, allowing just 16 points per game over the final eight games and going 6-2 during that span to lock up an NFC West title.
With the exception of cornerback Shaquill Griffin and defensive tackle Jarran Reed, who departed for the Jaguars and Chiefs this offseason, as well as free agent linebacker K.J. Wright, the Seahawks will welcome back most of that same defense with heightened expectations. Adams signed a record-breaking $70 million contract in August and will once again team up with fellow Pro Bowl safety Quandre Diggs in the secondary. Up front, Dunlap will be complemented by Benson Mayowa, Alton Robinson, L.J. Collier, and newcomer Kerry Hyder to give the team a deep, experienced edge rush. Perennial All-Pro linebacker Bobby Wagner will team up with rising sophomore Jordyn Brooks and Darrell Taylor to form an athletic playmaking trio in the middle.
If there’s a potential Achilles heel for Seattle’s defense, an underwhelming cornerback group may fit the bill. With Griffin now gone, the team has struggled to find his replacement in training camp and most likely will go into the season with D.J. Reed and Tre Flowers as the starters on the outside. After trading away veteran Ahkello Witherspoon, rookie Tre Brown and former Jaguars cornerback Sidney Jones could eventually enter the mix. The team also has legitimate depth concerns at defensive tackle behind starters Poona Ford and Al Woods and may need to sign another proven veteran such as Geno Atkins before the season starts.
Predicted Record: 12-5
Along with playing in the NFL’s toughest division, the Seahawks will face a difficult non-conference slate against the AFC South and have challenging non-division road games against the Packers, Vikings, and Washington Football Team. The schedule is a gauntlet to say the least. Still, Wilson remains the NFC West’s best quarterback and with the talent assembled around him and a new coordinator he helped hand pick on the sidelines, anything less than an 11- or 12-win season would be a disappointment.
Expected Depth Chart
QB: Russell Wilson, Geno Smith
RB: Chris Carson, Rashaad Penny
WR: DK Metcalf, Dee Eskridge
WR: Tyler Lockett, Freddie Swain
TE: Gerald Everett, Will Dissly
LT: Duane Brown, Stone Forsythe
LG: Damien Lewis, Jamarco Jones
C: Kyle Fuller, Ethan Pocic
RG: Gabe Jackson
RT: Brandon Shell, Cedric Ogbuehi
DE: Carlos Dunlap, Alton Robinson
DT: Poona Ford
NT: Al Woods, Bryan Mone
DE: Kerry Hyder, L.J. Collier
MLB: Bobby Wagner, Jordyn Brooks, Cody Barton
OLB: Darrell Taylor, Benson Mayowa
RCB: Tre Flowers, Sidney Jones
LCB: D.J. Reed, Ahkello Witherspoon, Tre Brown
FS: Quandre Diggs, Marquise Blair
SS: Jamal Adams, Ryan Neal
K: Jason Myers
P: Michael Dickson
LS: Tyler Ott