We are now a few days before Seattle travels on the road to Philadelphia, and I thought it would be a great time to reflect on this team and ponder what might lay ahead for them down the final stretch run. Here are a lot of the things I have been thinking about lately.
Are the Seahawks a Legitimate 2019 Super Bowl Contender?
Before the season began, I predicted that the Seahawks would be a playoff team with a likely 11-5 record. While the team is sitting fairly comfortably at 8-2, a big part of me wants to stick to that. During this final six game run, Seattle will be playing four teams that will be desperate in their play hopes with the Eagles, Vikings, Panthers, and Rams. They will only play one of those teams at home. They will also be playing a home rematch against the 49ers for potentially the division title, and they will play the Cardinals team that will likely want to play spoiler. From this perspective, that appears to be a potentially tough stretch, and should Seattle split, that would put them directly at a 11-5, and a likely wildcard playoff team. If all this happens, I will look much smarter than I actually am.
However, all that said, I can also easily see Seattle getting really hot down that stretch, especially if their defense continues to trend upwards, and in that, I can even see the potential for Seattle winning out. Outside of the 49ers and maybe the Vikings, none of the remaining teams left on the schedule feel like true contenders, and should Russell Wilson continue is MVP campaign, and if the defense starts to really come together, Seattle could morph into a very dangerous club.
If that happens, that December 29th home game against the 49ers will be gigantic. It could not only decide the division, it could decide home field advantage throughout the playoffs, and should Seattle come out on top, a Super Bowl appearance then becomes very possible.
Will Russell Wilson win MVP?
Be prepared for this to become the topic being constantly talked about over these final six games, especially if Seattle stays hot. Right now it feels like a two way battle between Wilson and Baltimore’s Lamar Jackson.
I think it is fair to say that Jackson has the edge simply because his team has beaten Wilson’s and they have won more decisively in most of their matches. However, should Seattle catch fire coming out of their bye week, and start compiling more impressive wins, this could be the year Wilson finally wins it.
For me, I don’t greatly care whether Wilson wins MVP, or not. It would be exciting for the team if he did because that would means that they finished with a strong record, but I already know Wilson’s value. He is one of the very best quarterbacks in the league, and I am incredibly grateful he is quarterbacking my team. Every game is practically must see television largely because of his play, and it’s been an exiting year watching him elevate his level of play.
In my mind, he already is MVP. Whether the league votes him as that or not, won’t change that opinion.
Which players have the most to gain down this final stretch run?
This is a question that I’ve been asking myself a lot lately because I feel it has a carryover effect into 2020. So, I thought now would be a great time to start looking at this
We know what we have in such players as Russell Wilson, Tyler Lockett, Duane Brown, Chris Carson, Jadeveon Clowney, Jarran Reed, Bobby Wagner, and Shaquill Griffin. These are impact players on both sides of the ball, and probably players that the team will continue building around (yes, I fully expect Seattle to re-sign both Clowney and Reed). What we really would like to see down this stretch is younger players and other veterans stepping up and making the kind of impact that might lay foundational pieces going into next season.
Right now, the player that jumps out the most is obviously wide receiver DK Metcalf. I feel like sometimes his play as a rookie gets down played just a bit. Personally, I think every fan should be looking at his potential and they should be getting pretty darn excited. Through ten games, he has shown the makings of a generational talent, in my opinion, but really, we need other youngsters to also step up.
I think the other two youngsters that are also standing out are tight end Jacob Hollister, and rookie free safety Marquise Blair. Barring injury, I suspect we are going to see both of these players trend upwards during these pivotal games, and that could be really exciting moving forward.
Blair seems like a classic Pete Carroll defensive back, instinctive and aggressive. I don’t expect him to necessarily start, but I do think he plays a lot in nickle packages, and I think with Quandre Diggs and Bradley McDougald playing with him, fans are going to feel a lot better about the secondary by the end of the season than they have at any point up to now.
With Hollister, I see a sneaky diamond in the rough type. I think he could end up being one of the most interesting story lines the 2019 Seattle Seahawk season. He’s a really athletic player with naturally soft hands, but what I find most interesting about him is his former quarterback background. I think it helps him feel the game the way Russell Wilson wants him to, and I think the combination of him on the field with Tyler Lockett, DK Metcalf and Josh Gordon is really interesting stuff. If his game continues to trend upwards, he could be a legit X factor in this offense heading into the post season. The more I peal things back, the more excited I am about this guy, and his future in Seattle.
I would also give honorable mentions to center Joey Hunt, and defensive tackles Poona Ford and Quinton Jefferson.
Poona is a youngster finally starting to emerge as after a low start to the season. He was heavily hyped heading into the season, but I think we are finally starting to see why. He has a really interesting knack for making plays in the backfield.
Hunt and Jefferson are different stories, however. Both players are in contract years, and both are being heavily relied on in ways that they haven’t experienced to this point. This team needs both of these guys to play great ball, if they want a title, and they are in great positions to make cases for themselves as to why Seattle should look to re-sign them.
Jefferson, especially, considering how well he looked at the beginning of the season before he got injured, and how he came back and played against the 49ers. If he continues his solid play, I can see the potential of a 2020 Seattle defensive line featuring Clowney, Reed, Poona, and Jefferson and I’d actually feel pretty good about that. I think Jefferson is a really underrated player.
Can the defense realistically catch up to the offense?
As of right now, the Seattle defense is 26th in total defense. They are 24th in points allowed (meh), 29th in sacks (which is pretty bad), but they are 5th in the league for creating turnovers (which is actually pretty darn good).
The realist in me says that this defense won’t suddenly become dominant, but the optimist in me says that they can get A LOT better during these final six game, and if that happens, this team probably is a legitimate Super Bowl contender this year.
The reason why I am optimistic is that, I suspect the coaches have finally figured out how to use Clowney while mixing in with Jefferson and Reed in the pass rush department. Chemistry takes time to build on a defensive line and Seattle was dealt with having to insert a lot of new pieces to it last minute this year. As that chemistry grows, it is also going to help the linebackers a lot.
I also think that they finally got the safety situation figured out adding Quandre Diggs in with Bradley McDougald, and frankly, that is huge. With Clowney, Reed, Jefferson, Bobby Wagner, KJ Wright, Mychal Kendricks and Diggs and McDougald all on the field together, Pete Carroll finally has quality veteran experience at all three levels of the defense to help down the stretch. I know they probably want to mix in the youngsters like Blair, and maybe a couple other rookies, but I think these are a players Carroll wants to lean into. These are the guys who can properly adjust as the game goes on, these are the guys who are going to really understand the opponent’s tendencies, and these are the guys who can help translate that all to the younger players.
I get the philosophy that it is good to get younger on defense, but you have to be smart about it. If Seattle’s defense trends upwards, it will because of the veterans finally gelling together more so than rookies taking charge.
Do I honestly think that the Seahawks could win the Super Bowl this year?
Honestly, I think they could, but I also think, for that to happen, A LOT of things have got to go right. They can’t lose too many key players because depth is an issue across the board. Young players are going to have to continue to step forward. Russell Wilson is going to have to continue playing at an MVP level. Chris Carson and Rashaad Penny are going to have to stop fumbling. The coaches are going to have to continue making the right adjustments.
Simply put, this team is capable of winning a title, but they are no way near as talented and deep as the team that won it playing the 2013 season. That roster was ridiculously deep and that team could afford making mistakes because they had the talent to overcome them. This team can’t really do that.
I will say this, though; if this team does win the whole damn thing this year, it will be more impressive than in 2013. The prime reason for that is because, in my eyes, they will have done it with less talent, and they will have done it by really coming together down the stretch. They might not be the more talented Seattle Super Bowl winning team, but they might be the better Seattle Super Bowl winning one, if that makes sense.
I think it does.