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From 0-17 to 17-0: Previewing the spectrum of Seahawks 2022 season outcomes
From getting the number one pick for the first time in franchise history to shocking the world
Nobody knows what the Seattle Seahawks are going to look like next season. It’s probably safe to say that they’ll run more than most teams, they’ll punt more than most teams, and they’ll peek over at the Denver Broncos more often than most teams.
But I would say that most likely, the Seahawks aren’t going to get dramatically better or worse than how the roster, division, and schedule make them look right now, and that feels something like “5-12 to 7-10” to me. However, there are 14 other possibilities… not including ties.
If you haven’t had a chance yet, read Friday morning’s free agent targets on DEFENSE for the Seattle Seahawks. It’s a ‘Regular Joes’ premium post and it’s worth a full read.
What it means: The Seahawks become the first team to lose 17 games, after having let the bottom fall out after a winless two months to start the season. Seattle likely started tearing down the roster early on, having accepted that 2022 would be a lost cause, but then it got out of hand…
When teams are this bad and the regime is on the hot seat, it’s hard to sell that it was an intentional tank. Because regimes don’t survive being this bad. Pete and John want to win more than they want to lose; but they might accept losing more games than they win, if it sets them up with a great quarterback in 2023.
However, if they lose too many games, Jody Allen will have no choice.
Of the 13 teams to lose 15+ games since 1980, eight fired their head coach during or after the season. Of the five who did not, TWO of the seasons belonged to Hue Jackson’s 2016-2017 Browns (Jackson was fired in the middle of 2018), and the other three (Jimmy Johnson, Mike Riley, Steve Spagnuolo) were also in the beginning of their careers. Only Johnson survived for more than two more seasons.
Being this bad, you’d have to think that Jacob Eason, or someone like him, started multiple games at quarterback. Drew Lock becomes the next Dan Orlovsky. The Seahawks trade or release veterans like Carlos Dunlap, Tyler Lockett, giving them a chance to disassociate with being on the “the worst team of all time.” As fun as it is to say that you could “enjoy the dumpster fire,” in reality fans would stop watching en masse and Seattle would be the hardest team to watch in the NFL. No passing, no offense, no defense… welcome to Michael Dickson’s team. Finally.
2023 outlook: New head coach, new general manager, the number one pick in the draft, and whatever first round pick the Broncos will be sending over.
This is why it is imperative that the Seahawks draft an offensive lineman with their first pick in the draft, as well as considering drafting two in the top-50 picks overall. Seattle can’t go into the 2023 NFL Draft knowing it must draft a QB before it has set the table for a QB. Young or Stroud’s careers could be forever damaged if they go to a team that is incapable of supporting and protecting them. I know the Seahawks might not be bad enough to draft either, but how can Seattle go wrong with picking a tackle?
I’ve been calling 2022 “The Year of the Tank” in the NFL for about the last two months. Young and Stroud are two big reasons for it, but hardly the only reasons. Another will be that the Bengals went 2-14 only two years ago. Being on the bottom is not the same as being on the outs. The Seahawks could crawl back from this… the “Joe Burrow” is waiting in 2023… but Seattle has to make all the right choices from here to the 2023 NFL Draft for that to happen.
(The Bengals drafted an OT in the first round the year before they drafted Burrow.)
What it means: There’s not much nuance between winless and one-less, but it’s a fun thought experiment to wonder if it’s better to start 1-0 and then lose 16 straight, to start 0-16 and then avoid a goose egg in the final week, or the random midseason win. Imagine how excited Seahawks fans* would be if Seattle started 0-16, then beat the 49ers in the season finale? A fully-loaded 49ers, not a sitting starters 49ers.
You’re still 1-16 though.
*Seahawks fan? I remember how empty Seahawks bars were getting a few weeks into the 2009 or 2010 seasons.
If the Seahawks end up being as bad as any of these terrible records, most likely the offensive line’s been a mess too. It wouldn’t bode well for the development of Phil Haynes, Stone Forsythe, Jake Curhan. The Austin Blythe signing did nothing. Gabe Jackson was traded. Etc.
2023 outlook: New regime, still get the number one pick in the draft, sell fans that there’s “momentum” with that lone win
What it means: The 2013 Houston Texans started 2-0, finished 2-14. That’s just what I think about when I think about teams winning two games in a season.
That Houston team started 2-6 with Matt Schaub (including a Week 4 OT loss to the Seahawks that you probably, definitely remember from the 2013 season) and finished out 0-8 with Case Keenum. I wouldn’t put it past Keenum, “Baker Mayfield”’s backup in Cleveland right now, to go 0-8 for a bottom-out Seahawks franchise.
Is 2-15 getting Pete and John any closer to keeping their jobs? Maybe John. Not Pete. In fact, Pete Carroll would probably need to step away on his own if Seattle gets this bad next season.
2023 outlook: Seahawks would now start to be in danger of not getting that first overall pick. Which teams look like they could be 2-15 or worse next season? I would NEVER put it past the Jaguars, Jets, Browns, Texans, Lions, Panthers, or Giants to find this low.
I did not think that Justin Fields was a “first round quarterback” in 2021 and a lot of people think that skepticism of Fields must be related to playing at Ohio State. One, it is valid to question how much a supporting cast/system/schedule help a quarterback. But two, find me criticizing C.J. Stroud, I dare you. I have no qualms about C.J. Stroud, who had six touchdowns against Utah in the Rose Bowl.
Young or Stroud? Who’s got your vote?
What it means: This would tie 1992 for Seattle’s most losses in a single season. Surprisingly, the Seahawks have only been worse than 4-12 one time in franchise history. And Cortez Kennedy won Defensive Player of the Year that season.
But at 3-14, I could see the possibility for optimism… For example: What if it turned out that Seattle went 0-11 with Lock as the starter, but 3-3 with a rookie quarterback like Desmond Ridder? What if the Seahawks won three of their last four? What if Seattle lost nine games by less than a touchdown?
This would still be really bad and make it hard for the Seahawks to do much recruiting for free agents in the short-term. Another reason Seattle must get DK Metcalf extended for the long-term.
2023 outlook: The Jaguars went 3-14 last season and that was enough for the number one pick. If they had gone 4-13, then the Lions would be picking first at 3-13-1—and the Jags could have fallen as far as picking fifth. One win, one loss, or one tie is all you need to be the difference from 1st to 5th sometimes.
For the team that wants to draft Young, Stroud, or maybe Florida’s Anthony Richardson (and there’s a host of candidates to be the next Zach Wilson—including OF COURSE, Grayson McCall), that top-two or top-three pick is absolutely necessary. I know that a lot of prospects drop year-to-year in the draft, but Young and Stroud seem close to deadlocked for 1-2.
I’ll be ahead of the 2022 and 2023 NFL Drafts more than anybody, or you can flick me in the nose, so please flick this first:
What it means: When you’ve profiled what the Seahawks could look like at 0-17, then all of a sudden 4-13 starts to look pretty good.
Who could be some players on the team that might ‘survive’ a 4-13 season by having great individual seasons and setting themselves up as cornerstones? I would look at TE Noah Fant, WR Dee Eskridge, G Phil Haynes, LB Cody Barton, and CB Tre Brown.
But let’s not get it twisted either: 4-13 is really bad. It would be the second-worst record in Seahawks history! Look at the teams that went 4-13 or worse last year and try to find players who had ‘good’ seasons. There aren’t many. Trevor Lawrence and Zach Wilson sucked. Daniel Jones, Davis Mills. That hurts receivers. That hurts offensive linemen. It hurts everyone.
At 4-13, Drew Lock+Whoever had very bad seasons and that could be very bad for DK and Lockett.
It’s just not as bad as 2-15.
2023 outlook: Could be picking first, more likely picking in the 3-6 range.
If Pete is fired, who do the Seahawks go after next? Let’s say Seattle knows they’re in position to draft a quarterback, then traditionally we might expect a “QBs coach” such as recent Vikings hire Kevin O’Connell. But last year, the Jets hired Robert Saleh before drafting Wilson, so it’s not a one-to-one.
If you or any of your favorite Seahawks writers try to predict the next head coach, that’s fine, but fruitless. Impossible to guess. You’d have to know Jody.
What it means: Pete… saved? This is getting into the territory of a Seahawks record we should be expecting in 2022, if Seattle makes no more dramatic improvements of note. If I had to pick the under of 5-12 with Lock as a starting quarterback, I would choose the under or Push.
Oops, sorry, DK.
If we’re sticking up for Lock, then let’s say this: in his lone chance to be the Broncos full season starter, Courtland Sutton was on IR, Jerry Jeudy was a rookie who DROPPED 9-percent of his targets, Tim Patrick was his best WR, and Lloyd Cushenberry was the NFL’s worst starting center.
Can Lock be better if he’s given better? Probably. My concern would definitely fall under the category of “Do the Seahawks give him better?”
2023 outlook: If Pete isn’t fired, it would cause an uproar. But at this moment, I don’t know how any fan couldn’t see 5-12 as a very real possibility, so what’s he being fired for? It’s essentially saying he’s being fired for going 12-22 over two years, which doesn’t make sense to me either. It’s like saying that 2022 is just a ‘dummy season’ for Pete and firing is an inevitability, because I don’t know how the Seahawks are going to improve after going from Russell Wilson to anyone-who-they-could-get-right-now.
But of course Pete could get fired for 5-12. The Seahawks would likely be picking in the 4-8 range. The extra first round pick from Denver might be enough for Seattle to trade up for a quarterback; if a team like the Jags, Jets, Bears, or a franchise that drafts a QB in 2022 ends up with a top-2 pick, they could be willing to trade down.
For a bounty.
What it means: Last season’s only 6-11 team was the Bears. Coincidentally, if the Seahawks made the poor decision to draft Malik Willis with their top pick, this is a probable outcome for the 2022 season. It doesn’t mean Willis is a bad player, it just means that Seattle is sticking their foot into a situation where the media is going to practically force them to make a change at QB during the season that I would not advise.
Having lost Allen Robinson to the Rams on Thursday, are there any teams who have fallen harder in the last 12 months than the Bears? Traded the 2022 first round pick for Fields; traded Khalil Mack; lost Robinson in FA; cut Akiem Hicks; fired head coach/GM; probably surpassed by Lions for third-best team in division.
When the Bears traded up for Fields, I called my shot: Nagy would be fired, worst team in the NFL in 2022, and Fields would ask for a trade by 2023. Let’s see.
That’s Chicago. What’s Seattle going to do? I think 6-11 will feel a lot better on the Seahawks if they stick with a boring choice at quarterback, develop their other positions, and follow Pete’s direction to be a run-first/defense-forward football team.
2023 outlook: I think 6-11 is fine for this team, so long as they’re developing the right pieces. Pete should be given a pass with a 6-11 or better record. If Seattle holds picks 8 and 26 in the 2023 NFL Draft, that’s a great chance to draft a QB and a WR in the first round. Just wait ONE year.
What it means: He did it… again! In Pete’s three losing seasons as a Seahawks head coach, he’s always won seven games.
But really, when you look at Seattle’s 2022 opponents, I think seven wins would be IMPRESSIVE for this roster. Maybe even really impressive: the AFC West, the NFC West, the NFC South are all on the docket. That’s 10 games against West division opponents… can Seahawks do better than 3-7 against that slate?
Then they have the Saints, Falcons (one of those teams will have Deshaun Watson?), Bucs, Panthers, Jets, Giants, and Lions. If Seattle went 4-0 against those last four teams, and 3-10 against the other 13, is that ‘good enough’ for you?
2023 outlook: The Seahawks 7-10 record last season resulted in pick 10, same range they are in right now. Next season’s QB class could be the type that actually does have good QB prospects outside of the top-three. This QB class has zero top-three prospects, maybe not even first round.
What it means: Improvement! If you’re wondering how you might ‘sense’ being 8-9: the Browns, Ravens, and Vikings went 8-9. Do you think one or all of those franchises are in a good place? Maybe! Baltimore was 8-3 before losing their final six, so not every 8-9 record is necessarily built the same. Could Pete survive losing his last six?
Do you think you would be ‘HAPPY’ with 8-9 given where the Seahawks are at as we speak? Given the difficult schedule? Or is a losing record never acceptable? Tell me!
2023 outlook: Picking in the middle of the first round, the Seahawks could still pull a “49ers/Lance” trade and use their two firsts and a 2024 first round pick to shoot up to the top for a QB. It wouldn’t necessarily hurt Seattle’s chances to land a premium QB prospect if they go 8-9 instead of 5-12, so I think it’s fair for fans to root for a good record without giving up their hope for an awesome QB draft pick.
What it means: Holy f-c-i-g winning record, Hawkman! I think if you could tell people today that Pete Carroll will go 9-8 the season after trading Russell Wilson, you might start talking ‘extension’ before ‘hot seat’. Is it possible?
It would have to mean that Lock, or someone else, was the “Jimmy Garoppolo” of the gang. He did just enough to get the offense by and not enough damage to ruin all hope. I think it’s really telling that Denver’s 2020 season around Drew Lock was such a disaster, so maybe if everything goes perfect for Pete’s non-QB offensive positions, Seattle might surprise some people.
Defensively, I’d like to think that Jamal Adams won some people over again and that Darrell Taylor has the 12-sack breakout season that Carroll is expecting. Six teams went 9-8 or 9-7-1 last season, with the Eagles and Steelers making the playoffs. I would not be surprised if a 9-8 or 8-9 team won a wild card spot in the NFC next season.
2023 outlook: A two-win improvement after going from Wilson to Lock. I’m stunned. I’m more stunned than I thought I could be when I started this! Thank you for THOUGHT EXPERIMENTS!
If the Seahawks have set their table up without spending capital on a QB in 2022, then this is a PERFECT setup to now acquire a quarterback.
What it means: This is maybe what the Seahawks’ ceiling could have been in 2021. If that happened, then Seattle could have been a wild card team and Wilson maybe doesn’t find himself in Denver right now. But for the long-term success of the franchise, we can never know if 7-10 isn’t actually a more desirable outcome than 10-7 and a wild card loss.
The 49ers went 10-7 last season after recovering from a 2-4 start. They nearly made the Super Bowl and San Francisco is actually a good model to think of with regards to Pete’s vision: don’t upgrade the QB (I know SF made a trade, but did Trey Lance play?), run the ball extremely well, play great defense.
The Bengals also went 10-7.
Pete and John would be safe and fans might start to breathe about things being “OK” in the post-Russ era.
2023 outlook: LFG. Another 10-7 team to look at is the LV Raiders. Now that they’ve hired Josh McDaniels and acquired Davante Adams, Chandler Jones, people have updated their opinions on the Raiders’ chances next season.
What it means: Even though 11-6 now seems so far away, Seattle is only one season removed from 12-4. The Bills and Cardinals both went 11-6 but seem to be in much different places as of March.
An 11-6 Seahawks team, if Pete has his way, leads the NFL in rushing yards. Does Rashaad Penny hold the 2022 rushing title? We might also expect all-pro type seasons from Quandre Diggs, Adams, or even Jordyn Brooks.
2023 outlook: If the Seahawks don’t have a QB and are not picking high enough to draft Young or Stroud, have no fear… it’s a Chanticleer:
What it means:
Seahawks twitter has melted.
Birds are eating cats.
Nick Foles is starting for Seattle and on the verge of his second Super Bowl run.
If the Seahawks go 7-3 or better in their ten hardest games of the schedule, Pete Carroll deserves our sincerest… you know.
2023 outlook: An invigorated Pete Carroll decides to ‘push all-in’ for a quarterback, finally landing the franchise player who fully embraces his NFL vision: Joe Flacco.
No, but seriously, I was going to do “Ryan Tannehill” but then you’d probably think I was being for real. However, it is relevant that Carroll’s “franchise QB” should be adept at handing off the ball and nobody did that more in 2021 than Tannehill.
What it means: That we don’t know jack f-c-i-g shit and we should check ourselves.
For some reason, I’m reminded of the 2008 Titans: second-ranked scoring defense, Kerry Collins went 12-3 as the QB, Chris Johnson in the Pro Bowl. And Jeff Fisher, which is why Tennessee went 8-8 the next season.
A 13-4 record would tie Packers, Bucs for the best of 2021. The Seahawks could be going into the playoffs as the number one seed with a bye, or like the 12-5 Cowboys, “home early” again.
2023 outlook: Avoiding “Jeff Fisher disease,” Seattle would need to lock up their breakout starters like Noah Fant, Darrell Taylor, Sidney Jones, and Damien Lewis to long-term deals. We’re in that territory now where obviously the Seahawks must be really happy with the QB… unless it’s a “Jimmy G” situation.
But not even 17-0 would prevent the Seahawks from looking at QB in next year’s draft if they simply avoid drafting a QB in 2022. DO NOT DRAFT A QB EARLY, PETE.
What it means: Best in the west, best in the NFC, maybe best in the NFL. Could Pete’s BEST CASE SCENARIO come close to this? I might look to the 2015 Carolina Panthers as an example of that: 1st in rushing attempts, 2nd in rushing yards, 27th in pass attempts, 1st in scoring, 6th in defense, easy-ass schedule. Of course, the Panthers had an MVP that season at QB, but not one who was necessarily adept at passing the football. Cam Newton is a free agent, but not the one Seattle needs.
Maybe in a shocking move, Jalen Hurts goes to the Seahawks, rushes for 1,500 yards and 15 touchdowns, and Seattle wins every game by a 20-17 score.
2023 outlook: I still wouldn’t be too high on the long-term outlook of Hurts, but I’d surely be in the minority. Can you sustain an offense for multiple years without a deep passing attack? But hey… 14-3? Better than anyone in 2021.
What it means: The last team to win 15 games and win the Super Bowl? The 1985 Chicago Bears. The last five teams to win 15 or 16 games (98 MIN, 04 PIT, 07 NE, 11 GB, 15 CAR) have fallen short. If the Seahawks go 15-2 or better, obviously they did TOO good.
2023 outlook: Time to rebuild?
What it means: That my work here is almost done.
Birds started eating cats four wins ago. This is beyond my comprehension.
2023 outlook: Picking 31st and 32nd after the Seahawks defeat the Broncos in the Super Bowl (again).
What it means:
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