SEATTLE – In the face of all the doomsday predictions, Seahawks fans might find themselves opting to take a redshirt year and just sitting this one out.
While blind faith is at the root of fandom, 2022 will be challenging for even the most resolute, and those staying on-board should quickly embrace the beauty of lowered expectations. And, face it, you’ve made it through worse.
You have no difficulty pinpointing the nadir moment, of course. So breathe a little easier, there is virtually no chance this year’s Seahawks will lose the Super Bowl on a goal-line interception.
With that saving grace in mind, here’s a suggested Survival Guide to Seahawks 2022.
• Regardless what anybody says, understand that this is a total rebuild year. Maybe it’s the first 17 steps toward a promising revival, or it’s the final days of a crumbling regime. Either way, it feels like a tipping point. Things will change.
If you’re in the camp that sees Pete Carroll’s coaching approach as arcane, and suspects that John Schneider exhausted his collection of magical insight on drafts in the early teens, much will be proven by January.
From another perspective, you might well recognize this season’s similarities to the underdog ethos in which the Seahawks flourished in the first Carroll/Schneider rebuild, leading up to the day when they won Super Bowl XLVIII with the youngest roster to claim a title in recent years.
• Even with the departure of Hall of Fame-level stars Russell Wilson and Bobby Wagner, a few vets remain worth watching. Receivers Tyler Lockett and D.K. Metcalf are proven, bankable and exciting; on the defensive side, linebacker Jordyn Brooks finished second in the NFL in tackles in just his second season, and safety Quandre Diggs is coming off a Pro Bowl season.
With a late-season string of 100-plus-yard rushing games, Rashaad Penny proved in 2021 that, when healthy, he can be major producer – perhaps even among the league leaders.
Can a few guys make it worth the effort to slog through possible weak performances? Consider that even in the Seahawks’ worst season (1992, 2-14), rookie defensive tackle Cortez Kennedy was such a dominating force he won the league’s Defensive Player of the Year Award. A memorable achievement.
• Youth movement. Charles Cross and Abe Lucas look like the best brace of young offensive tackles the Hawks have had. Drafted defenders Tariq Woolen and Coby Bryant in the secondary, and Boye Mafe on the edge, will see enough action to prove themselves early. That’s enough prospective talent to serve as a solid core for years. Given proper development.
• Despite all the inherent drama of Russell Wilson’s return in the Monday Night opener against the Broncos, don’t consider that game as a complete referendum on the massive Wilson trade. That trade was based on the Futures Market, with the Seahawks’ payoff coming next spring when they have two No. 1 and two No. 2 draft picks, while Denver copes with the risky benefit/cost calculus of paying an average of $49 million per annum for a quarterback aging toward his late 30s.
• In your spare time this fall, you might start checking out some of the top college quarterbacks and decide which one you’ll want to lead the Seahawks into the next stages of rebuilding.
They got it right when they drafted Wilson. Who’s next?
Those most often mentioned at this point are Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud, Alabama’s Bryce Young (a Wilson comparable at 5-11), and Kentucky’s Will Levis. With the number of high picks facilitating upward movement, the Hawks shouldn’t have to worry about losing their way into the higher spots to get a top quarterback.
So, tanking will not be necessary, besides, it would be hard to imagine Pete “Always Compete” Carroll succumbing to the temptation to engage in strategic losing.
• Aside from the theatrics of Wilson’s return, the opener should be an immediate barometer of 2022 prospects. Both teams finished 7-10 last season. A Seattle win would indicate the possibility that the Hawks could at least compete against those handful of teams on the schedule who also are fighting to get up toward the middle of the pack.
They’ve got four games against teams coming off worse seasons: Lions, Giants, Jets and Panthers. And two more against teams who also finished 7-10 last year: Broncos and Falcons. That appears to be at least six games against teams expected to be somewhere near their weight-class.
If the opener is a total face-plant, though, brace yourself for a long, long season.
Follow Dave Boling on Twitter at @DaveBoling.