Over the past two seasons, the Los Angeles Rams have dominated the NFC West. With just two losses over the past two seasons, including a Week 17 meeting against the San Francisco 49ers in which the Rams rested their starters, Los Angeles has set the standard of the NFC West.
The Seattle Seahawks, Arizona Cardinals, and 49ers are all playing catchup and making moves that will hopefully close the gap.
Week 1 – at Carolina, 1 p.m. ET – Opponent Preview
Week 2 – vs. New Orleans, 4:25 ET – Opponent Preview
Week 3 – at Cleveland, 8:20 p.m. ET (SNF) – Opponent Preview
Week 4 – vs. Tampa Bay, 4:25 p.m. ET – Opponent Preview
Week 5 – at Seattle, 8:20 p.m. ET (TNF)
The Seattle Seahawks missed the playoffs for the second time under head coach Pete Carroll and the first time since 2011 in 2017. For a team that had won a Super Bowl just four years prior and was three years removed from a Super Bowl appearance, they headed into 2018 with a new purpose and new identity.
Still, the team started 0-2 with back-to-back road losses to the Denver Broncos and Chicago Bears. Finally, with a, 28-14, win over the Detroit Lions in week eight, the Seahawks were able to get above .500 at 4-3.
A third straight loss to the Rams would put their record at 4-5 and their playoff hopes for a second consecutive year in doubt. However, they would lose just one game the rest of the way.
The Seahawks trailed heading into the fourth quarter the next two weeks against the Green Bay Packers and Carolina Panthers but would find a way to win in both games. Wins against the 49ers and Minnesota Vikings extended the win streak to four before a shocking overtime loss to the same 49ers they had beaten 43-16 just weeks prior ended it.
With a win against Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs, the Seahawks clinched a playoff birth.
The Seahawks traveled to Dallas to take on the Cowboys on wild-card weekend and would head into the fourth quarter leading 14-10. The Cowboys would score 14 unanswered points to take the lead. Russell Wilson attempted one of his classic late comeback attempts but fell just short.
Biggest Offseason Gains/Losses
Added: EDGE Ziggy Ansah, G Mike Iupati, DE Cassius Marsh, DT Al Woods, QB Paxton Lynch, QB Geno Smith, K Jason Myers
Losses: S Earl Thomas, WR Doug Baldwin, S Kam Chancellor, DE Frank Clark, G J.R. Sweezy, RB Mike Davis, CB Justin Coleman, DT Shamar Stephen, S Maurice Alexander, QB Brett Hundley
The Seahawks continue to lose the players that helped create their identity during the Legion of Boom. After he left on a cart flipping off the Seahawks sideline, it was a given that Thomas would leave. Doug Baldwin and Kam Chancellor each suffered injuries that cut their careers short. The Seahawks also lose the threat of Frank Clark off the edge.
The offseason in Seattle wasn’t about bringing in new pieces; it was about retaining their new core. The Seahawks retained Neiko Thorpe who was a top special teams player, linebackers, Mychal Kendricks and K.J. Wright, guard D.J. Fluker and retained a dozen restricted free agents.
The Seahawks lost some key pieces, but they kept some in place as well.
A Look at The Draft
The Seahawks graded well in the draft, restocking what they had lost. The team drafted TCU’s L.J. Collier in the first round on day one and then picked up a hard-hitting safety Marquise Blair and a physical specimen in wide receiver DK Metcalf headlined day two.
With three fourth-round picks, the Seahawks added another wide receiver in Gary Jennings and stocked up on secondary and offensive line depth. The Seahawks continued adding depth that could develop into starters, which is precisely what you’re looking for on day three.
It was an overall successful draft for the Los Angeles Rams’ division rival. Getting DK Metcalf in the second round was a steal.
Biggest on Field Question
Who is going to step up?
The Seattle Seahawks have lost a lot of leadership, and it’s that leadership that helped build a perennial championship contender. With no Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor, Doug Baldwin, or Frank Clark, somebody is going to need to step up?
Is that Tyler Lockett? Is it Bradley McDougald? Is it David Moore?
At this point, the Seahawks are missing those leaders, and if they don’t find them, they could take a step back in 2019.
Depth Chart Analysis
Quarterback: This will be Russell Wilson‘s spot until he retires, but after him, the Seahawks have good depth with Paxton Lynch and Geno Smith.
Running Back: Chris Carson is coming off of an injury and 2018 first-round pick Rashaad Penny disappointed in his rookie season. JD McKissic adds a pass-catching threat while Travis Homer brings good depth as well.
Wide Receiver: The Seahawks were never able to fully take advantage of Doug Baldwin’s skill set. Due to their run-first scheme, the receiver only recorded 2-1,000 yard seasons. Tyler Lockett took strides while David Moore looks to take that next step. DK Metcalf will give Wilson a weapon he’s never had before.
Tight End: Nick Vannett and WIll Dissly are an excellent 1-2 punch at tight end. Then when you add a player like Ed Dickson behind them, this becomes a real strong position in Seattle.
Right Tackle: Germain Ifedi continues to improve gradually, and George Fant adds depth, but this is still one of the weaker sides on the Seahawks offensive line.
Left Tackle: For years, Robert Quinn and co. beat up on Russell Okung. The Seahawks brought in Duane Brown last year for a first round pick, and it has only helped Russell Wilson.
Left Guard: Mike Iupati will attempt to solidify things inside for the Seahawks. He’s been down the last two years, but for the price in which the Seahawks signed him, they may have a bargain here. The team drafted Phil Haynes and will be solid depth behind him.
Right Guard: The Seahawks brought back DJ Fluker, and behind him, they have young potential in Ethan Pocic.
Center: Justin Britt has been the player defenses have attacked in the past. Hopefully, by adding Iupati inside as well as keeping Fluker, his play improves, but his 17 pressures allowed last season were the most he’s given up in the last three years.
Defensive End: LJ Collier brings some young talent in for the departed Frank Clark. Ziggy Ansah will play the other side with Cassius Marsh coming in on a rotational basis.
Defensive Tackle: Jarran Reed had a career-high 10.5 sacks last season while Poona Ford was one of the best run defenders in the league.
Linebacker: This might be the best linebacker group that the Seahawks have had under Pete Carroll. Bobby Wager, K.J. Wright, and Mychal Kendricks lead the charge. Shaquem Griffin and Cody Barton bring young depth.
Defensive Backs: McDougald and Tedrick Thompson are slotted to start at safety, but don’t rule out Blair who the team took in the second round. At cornerback, Shaquill Griffin and Tre Flowers bring a physical presence on the outside. This isn’t your 2014 Legion of Boom, but they still have the boom.
The Seattle Seahawks will look to continue to push the Los Angeles Rams for the division, but a realistic goal should be to make a repeat run in the postseason. This is a team that has dealt with a lot of turnover, and while not rebuilding, they are restocking, and that still takes time.
With Russell Wilson, the Seahawks are always going to have a shot. A run at the playoffs and maybe a playoff-win seem like a realistic expectation.