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NFL Draft

Seattle Seahawks’ 2020 Season Will Be Successful If…

  • The Draft Network
  • June 25, 2020
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The Seattle Seahawks went to the Super Bowl following the 2013 season and won; they went to the Super Bowl again the next year and, well, you know how that ended.

While the Super Bowl or bust tag will likely result in a bust for most teams, most teams don’t have Russell Wilson under center and the tenacity of coach Pete Carroll—when he isn’t doing something mind-numbingly frustrating. The Seahawks have had eight consecutive winning seasons since Wilson entered the league in 2012, but since 2015, they have failed to make it past the divisional round of the playoffs—and missed the postseason altogether in 2017.

Seattle’s rise and fall is more maddening when it underutilizes Wilson and resorts to its old, comfortable ways of winning that worked with the 2013-14 roster but not its current team. What will mark a successful season for the Seahawks in 2020? They need to punch their ticket back to the Super Bowl, which starts with truly trusting Wilson.

There’s been steady turnover in key positions since that disastrous ending in Super Bowl 49, but at their core, the Seahawks still have Carroll, Wilson, and defensive star Bobby Wagner, who is putting together a Hall of Fame resume in the heart of that unit; the linebacker room—with Wagner, K.J. Wright, and once again Bruce Irvin, who was part of the Super Bowl 48-winning team—is undoubtedly the strongest position group in Seattle and across the league. 

The Seahawks have continued to win at the most basic level and still give us shock and awe on the big regular-season stages. Last year, the Seahawks snapped the San Francisco 49ers’ undefeated streak in primetime in Week 10, and in another Monday Night Football game bested the Minnesota Vikings to jump atop the NFC in Week 13. But as quickly as the team’s success was building, particularly in 2019 with the 49ers contending all season on their way to Super Bowl 54, it spiraled.

Seattle was hit with injuries and a tough final stretch where it lost three of its last four games including the NFC West title game against San Francisco, again, on the goal line. One of the problems here, and what’s halted the Seahawks’ ability to return to the Super Bowl, is they try desperately to hold on to a fading identity rather than trusting Wilson sooner. 

Wilson was given a top-end contract for a reason. The veteran passer priced out at an NFL-high $140 million through the 2023 season and has done everything—sans winning another Super Bowl—to earn it. In the last three seasons, Wilson has thrown at least 31 touchdown passes, including a league-leading 34 in 2017, and fewer interceptions during that span, hitting a career-low five in 2019. But, Carroll and company are still late to the party. 

Wilson is known for his late-game heroics, carrying the Seahawks on his back while he weaves his way past defenders and then makes one of his glorious deep passes down the field. It happens over and over and over again. In order for Seattle to reach its goal—the aforementioned Super Bowl trip—it needs to step away from its tired approach of establishing the run and unleash Wilson well before the fourth quarter.

In 2017, when Wilson led the NFL in touchdowns, the Seahawks passed 59.38% of the time; in turn, they rushed on 40.62% of their plays. The result was a 9-7 season, second place in the NFC West, and no playoff appearance. However, Seattle looks different now than it did then and it looked different in 2013-14 when it topped the charts for the highest rushing play percentage than it did in 2017. The run-by-committee approach can help spread the offense and Rashaad Penny is poised for a breakout season in Year 3 when healthy, but it cannot carry this team to a championship—heck, when Seattle was there again after the 2014 season, it couldn’t trust Marshawn Lynch with the ball.

If Wilson is the one thing that has continuously worked, then everything around him must start working better as well. There’s a similar argument to be made for paying other quarterbacks record-setting contracts, for example, Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys and Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs (after the 2020 season); it’s the responsibility of the team’s brass to surround an elite passer with what they need to win. The Seahawks have been in need of an offensive line overhaul after finishing last season in the bottom third of the league, according to Pro Football Focus, which pointed out the overwhelming amount of pressure Wilson has faced since 2012.

“He has faced pressure on 42% of his dropbacks since entering the NFL, and he is the only qualifying quarterback since 2012 with a rate over 40%.”

Seattle addressed this need by signing a number of players—Brandon Shell, B.J. Finney, Cedric Ogbuehi, and Chance Warmack—it hopes to piece together on the offensive front with Duane Brown and rookie Damien Lewis. Wilson has the reliable Tyler Lockett and exciting, young D.K. Metcalf featured in the receiving corps and tight end Will Dissly, if healthy, can have a big impact with the direction of veteran Greg Olsen. Last season, Seattle scored 26 or more points in 10 games and had the most yards per game (381.6) in the Carroll era. However, the Seahawks need to figure out a way to make sense of Jadeveon Clowney’s offseason or quickly find his replacement and shore up their secondary, whose play has declined since the days of the Legion of Boom. 

Things look different in Seattle, but with its core intact, another Super Bowl appearance isn’t out of reach. Whether the Seahawks want to adapt to meet that goal is a different story.

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