The Seattle Seahawks (8-2) are off to one of the best starts in franchise history. They’re 5-0 on the road for the first time ever and 8-2 for just the fifth time (1984, 1999, 2005 and 2013).
All of Seattle is riding high following Monday night’s dramatic, 27-24, overtime win over the San Francisco 49ers. The victory not only kept the Seahawks' divisional hopes alive but put them in the driver’s seat. They still trail the 49ers by a game in the loss column. However, San Francisco has a brutal stretch coming up against the Packers (home), Ravens (away) and Saints (away) in Weeks 12-14.
It’s very likely that the Week 17 contest in Seattle between the 49ers and Seahawks will not only be for the NFC West title, but a first-round bye as well.
With Seattle having the weekend off before what should be a wild month and a half to close the season, let’s assign grades to each position group and assess how the Seahawks got to 8-2.
This is the automatic grade you get when you carry the team in seven of its eight wins and are the front-runner for the league’s MVP award. That’s where Russell Wilson is at through 10 weeks. He’s been phenomenal this season with 26 total touchdowns to just four turnovers. He currently leads the NFL in passing touchdowns (23), touchdown percentage (7.0%) and quarterback rating (114.9).
Running Back: B
This grade would be an “A” if not for the fumbles. Chris Carson ranks fourth in the NFL with 853 rushing yards. He’s posted four 100-yard games, and he’s scored six total touchdowns. However, he’s fumbled six times and lost four of them. C.J. Prosise and Rashaad Penny have also lost a fumble. Pete Carroll knows that coughing up the football at that rate will cost Seattle dearly if it continues the rest of the season.
Wide Receiver: A-
Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf are each at an “A+” by themselves. They’ve been fantastic. Lockett is having a career year while maintaining supreme efficiency. He’s caught 62-of-76 targets for 793 yards and six touchdowns. Metcalf has been much more consistent of late. He’s at 35 receptions for 595 yards and five touchdowns in what has been a terrific rookie campaign. Where the wide receivers’ overall grade dips is when you factor in how little David Moore and Jaron Brown have contributed. Neither have proven to be a consistent, dependable option in the passing game. The addition of Josh Gordon provides some additional optimism over the final six games.
Offensive Line: C+
Football outsiders has Seattle’s offensive line ranked 20th. However, the group gets a significant boost in my grade given how many injuries its dealt with through 10 games. Apart from one ugly play against D.J. Jones, Joey Hunt has filled in admirably for Justin Britt. Jamarco Jones and George Fant kept the ship afloat without D.J. Fluker and Duane Brown. Germain Ifedi still has a lot of room for improvement. Wilson also masks some of the group’s deficiencies. But all in all, I think the offensive line has been able to avoid being a complete liability.
Tight End: B+
Will Dissly’s injury was massive, and it took Seattle a few weeks to adjust to life without him. He was off to a scorching start through five games. But when you factor in Jacob Hollister’s production the last two weeks, Seattle has gotten quite a bit of production out of the tight end position. Dissly and Hollister have a combined 40 receptions for 399 yards and seven touchdowns.
Defensive Line: C-
This would have been an “F” had it not been for Monday night’s performance. Seattle entered Week 10 with just nine combined sacks from defensive linemen through nine games. But then Monday happened, and Jadeveon Clowney dominated the 49ers offensive line for a full 70 minutes. He generated 11 pressures all by himself, a sack, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery and a touchdown.
The Seahawks sacked Jimmy Garoppolo five times, four of which came from defensive linemen. Jarran Reed finally looked to have shaken off the rust of his six-game suspension. Quinton Jefferson’s return looked to provide a huge boost.
Most importantly, Seattle showed it didn’t need Ziggy Ansah in order to generate a consistent pass rush. I still need to see more than one performance like this in order to believe Monday night wasn’t an aberration. That said, it was a huge step in the right direction and important to know the group was capable of such a performance.
The play of Mychal Kendricks, Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright has been steady overall, but the tackling has been spotty at times. Wagner (50.0), Wright (57.7) and Kendricks (66.1) have all been exploited some in pass coverage as well. The trio has combined for five sacks, 13 tackles for loss, two forced fumbles and two interceptions – solid but unspectacular numbers. I would have expected more game-changing plays from these three, especially given how frequently Seattle has stayed in its base defense.
Outside of Shaquill Griffin, who’s enjoying a breakout season, the secondary has been vastly underwhelming and inconsistent. The safety play has been a liability on Seattle’s defense until Quandre Diggs’ debut in Week 10. He may have been the x-factor that brings stability to the entire secondary.
But I still think the Seahawks could use an upgrade at nickel. Jamar Taylor continues to struggle. He was targeted early and often against the 49ers and was given just a 36.6 coverage grade. It will be interesting to see if Ugo Amadi has made enough progress to earn some reps at that spot over the final six games of the regular season.