Seahawks deserve credit for offseason quarterback decisions
Seaside Joe 1301: Seattle is not committed to any quarterback beyond 2022 and that's a good thing
If the Seaside Joe newsletter has a fair and honest reaction to every Seahawks game this season—and we will—there’s a good chance that this place will begin to feel negative and pessimistic about the Seattle franchise. And maybe some pessimism is fair if the team ends up with a top-five draft pick because I have never thought that tanking (intentionally or by force of the universe) is a good idea.
We have seen the version of the Seahawks that was terrible. The recovery was a nightmare that lasted more than a decade: After a 2-14 finish in 1992, it took Seattle seven years to post a winning record, 11 years to win at least 10 games, and 13 years to win a playoff game.
It might feel like, “Well, the league is different now.” And maybe that is true. The Rams recovered from having the worst record in 2015 to reaching the Super Bowl in 2018 and winning it in 2021; the Bengals had the worst record in 2019 and reached the Super Bowl in 2021; the Jaguars are the Jaguars and yet Trevor Lawrence has them as the favorite to win the AFC South in only his second season.
However, more bountiful are the examples of teams that reach the playoffs on a consistent basis: the Chiefs, the Ravens, the Packers, and until recently, the Seahawks, for examples. Maybe one bad season does luck a franchise into the right quarterback. However, it can also lead a team into the wrong quarterback and one terrible season begets another and another and another—
The Chiefs, the Bills, the Packers, and the Ravens all have quarterbacks who were drafted outside of the top-five, and three of those teams had good records before trading up to get those quarterbacks; Green Bay also had a good record and Brett Favre, they just didn’t need to trade up for Aaron Rodgers.
So it would be just as good to me if the Seahawks went 9-8 this year than if they finish 3-14. However, I do think that 3-14 seems more plausible than 9-8 (although a friendly reminder that the 2011 team started 2-6 but finished 7-9) and I am certainly not against Seattle drafting Bryce Young*.
*”But Seaside Joe, don’t you think Young is too (x), (y), (z), and that (This other prospect) is better?!?” Fill in the blank with whichever QB makes you happiest!
Want to follow the top QBs in the 2023 draft? Play QB Survivor 2023! Meet the Underdog Tribe right here.
In response to the likelihood that the Seahawks will lose more games than they win, potentially to the degree of matching the 4 and 5-win teams that preceded the hiring of Pete Carroll in 2010, I think it will be important to have consistent content that is optimistic, positive, and reminiscent of the same message that I sent out week after week following the Russell Wilson trade:
The Seahawks had a GREAT offseason!
Every Tuesday, Seaside Joe will reflect something positive about the Seattle Seahawks. There’s plenty to be optimistic about, even if the Seahawks could post their worst record in over a decade. As we’ve known for a long time now, the 2022 season is a predetermined hiccup towards a better future for the franchise.
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And today’s topic is a reminder that Seattle played a very specific hand with regards to the quarterback position during the offseason and it is paying off handsomely early in the season, even if the offensive results are not enthralling.
The Seahawks were never meant to have the same type of explosive offenses that the Chiefs, Bills, and Ravens might have, or even the Eagles. However, despite being the worst second half team in the NFL thus far, Seattle’s passing offense is actually much more efficient than I expected it to be and the Seahawks are getting a lot more with a lot less compared to other teams.
A bad franchise would have made a trade or signed a more expensive quarterback and been in deeper, hotter water than the Seahawks are currently wading in.
It would be both true and false at the same time to say that the Seattle Seahawks are one of the cheapest teams at quarterback in the entire NFL this season:
Only $5.3 million is being spent on the current quarterbacks on the roster. The Eagles and Texans are the only teams spending less.
However, Seattle is also paying off a $26 million debt in dead money to Wilson.
The combined sum of $31 million would have the Seahawks ranked as the sixth-spendiest team at quarterback in the NFL for 2022, although I’m not accounting for other teams that also have dead money cap hits for former quarterbacks; The Texans are paying a $16 million dead money cap hit for Deshaun Watson and the Falcons are eating $40 million because of Matt Ryan.
Next year, there are only two teams that have $0 committed to quarterbacks:
The Seahawks. The Ravens.
One of those teams is going to pay up for a quarterback currently on the roster and it is not Seattle.
The Seahawks traded Wilson (fantastic news, one of the best moves in franchise history and perfectly timed) and then didn’t overreact in finding a replacement. Drew Lock was an adequate choice to play the role of “young competitor” and Geno Smith was the cheapest quarterback on the free agent market who had a little bit of starting experience. To have had the experience with this team as recently as last year, it gave Smith an edge up that no other quarterback could meet.
Now look at the teams that did overreact at quarterback:
1-2 Steelers: Signed Mitchell Trubisky to a two-year, $14 million contract and used a first round pick on Kenny Pickett. Trubisky should be benched, but Pickett isn’t ready to start, if he ever will be.
1-1-1 Colts: Traded a third round pick for Matt Ryan, moved money on his contract to guarantee him $53 million over two years, and the Colts are dead last in scoring through three weeks
1-2 Commanders: Essentially traded two day two picks for Carson Wentz, the most-sacked QB through three games. Wentz has a $28 million cap hit this year.
1-2 Saints: Gave Jameis Winston a $15 million signing bonus. Winston has thrown five interceptions in the last two games. Their Week 1 win was miraculous.
1-2 Falcons: Signed Marcus Mariota to a two-year contract and drafted Desmond Ridder. The one win came over Seattle and Mariota starting for the Falcons beyond 2022 would be surprising—he has a $14.5 million cap hit in 2023. Falcons are 31st in pass attempts.
1-2 Panthers: Traded for Baker Mayfield and most are calling for him to be benched already.
So would you rather be 1-2 with Geno Smith or one of these other 1-2 teams?
Through three games, I admit that I am stunned by how efficient Seattle’s passing offense has been in the first half of games. The Seahawks rank first in completion percentage by a wide margin even though their Y/A is around the league average. It’s not all dinking and dunking, though that strategy does have its place in the NFL today.
Geno Smith took 11 deep shots (15 or more yards downfield) against the Falcons after not taking more than two in the first two games. That didn’t result in much honestly, the five completions were helpful and scored points. The interception and the incompletions were not all good decisions or execution. And as I said, the second half offense is the worst in the league.
In the second half, Smith is 30-of-41 for 219 yards with 0 TD, 1 INT, averaging 5.3 Y/A and getting sacked six times. Five of those sacks are in the fourth quarter.
Compare to the first half: 49-of-61, 498 yards, 4 TD, 1 INT, 8.2 Y/A, and no sacks.
Smith is also 17-of-18 for 146 yards out of play action, he’s 21-of-22 with three touchdowns when throwing to tight ends, and he’s completing over 82% of his attempts when he throws the ball in less than 2.5 seconds, meaning that Shane Waldron’s designed pass plays are likely working to near perfection. Especially given how low the expectations were for Geno Smith.
As I said after Week 3’s loss in the stock report, I have seen a lot worse QBs this year than Geno Smith. And my commentary about Waldron coaching for his job had everything to do with franchise habits during a switch at Franchise QB and very little to do with results. The results are pretty good, considering.
Considering two rookie tackles. Considering a career backup at quarterback. Considering that Seattle made no effort to upgrade the quarterback position beyond two backups. The second half offense has been atrocious and is the reason for the Seahawks being 1-2 instead of a plausible 3-0. However, that 3-0 would feel a little empty and miragian, especially given a second half schedule that includes Tom Brady, Matthew Stafford twice, Patrick Mahomes, and the 49ers.
Perhaps Seattle can still pull out another five or six wins on the schedule, finishing 6-11 or better. The defense has to show a lot of improvement. The penalties have to stop. Ken Walker III needs to be more involved. But the Seahawks do not have to accept a 3-14 record just yet.
If Geno Smith can be efficient, even for a half per game, then surely Seahawks optimism knows no bounds.