It’s Week 10 of the 2023 NFL season and the 4-5 Washington Commanders will be facing a 5-3 Seattle Seahawks team in Washington (state).
If Washington hopes to have any chance at the playoffs, a win against the Seahawks this week will be critical. In many respects, the same can be said for the Seahawks, who have a brutal schedule coming up for much of the rest of the season. What’s the secret to rattling Geno Smith? What are their defensive vulnerabilities? Who are their rising stars?
To learn more about these and other issues, I asked John Gilbert of Field Gulls five questions about the state of the Seahawks and what to look for in this game.
1) Geno Smith’s performance last year was one of the most interesting stories of the season. To my mind, it was reminiscent of Rich Gannon’s career turnaround a couple of decades earlier. How is Smith performing this year, compared to last? Is there a belief that he’s a longer term solution in Seattle?
Geno Smith is great when he is well protected in the pocket. Pressure, however, is his kryptonite. Teams figured that out sometime around midseason in 2022, and in 2023 he’s been one of the most pressured quarterbacks in the NFL. When the offensive line has protected him, the Seahawks average nearly 30 points a game on offense. However, in most games he’s been pressured on more than 40% of his dropbacks, and in games where that has been the case, the Seahawks average less than 14 points per game offensively. If the Commanders can pressure Geno in passing situations, it could be another long afternoon for fans wanting to see a lot of scoring.
2) Seattle’s 2022 draft appears to have been incredible, hitting on two offensive linemen - Charles Cross and Abraham Lucas - as well as running back, Kenneth Walker, and cornerback Tariq Woolen. From what I can see, that stands in quite a contrast to the several prior drafts. Did anything change in the Seahawks front office to trigger that success, do you think? How does the 2023 class look?
The 2022 draft performed phenomenally as rookies, but some of the luster has come off as injuries and growing pains have slowed several members of the class. Cross missed three games with a sprained toe, Abe Lucas, Coby Bryant and Dareke Young are all on injured reserve, while Tyreke Smith is on the practice squad and Bo Melton is on the Packers practice squad. Walker hasn’t followed up on his rookie season in quite the way many expected, and Riq Woolen has come back to earth in terms of ability. That all said, Boye Mafe has been absolutely lights out, and Lucas and Young could potentially come off injured reserve later this month, so that would certainly help the group.
So far the 2023 class has been a mixed bag, Devon Witherspoon has been phenomenal, and Jaxon Smith-Njigba has had ups and downs as he continues to work his way into the system after a broken bone in his wrist during training camp required surgery. Second round picks Derrick Hall and Zach Charbonnet have played well when called upon, but both are only averaging a little more than 20 snaps per game. The pair of offensive linemen selected on Day 3, Anthony Bradford and Olu Oluwatimi, have been called upon to fill in for injured starters at times, but neither has been able to displace the starter in front of them just yet. Not a star-studded class yet, but there have been some glimpses of quality, and I expect a lot of the members of the group to see more playing time during the back half of the season.
3) In week 9, the Ravens dominated the Seahawks on both sides of the ball. What did they do well, both on offense and defense, to so thoroughly control the outcome of the game? Are there particularly weaknesses in the Seahawks approach that they were able to take advantage of?
When the Seahawks had the ball, the Ravens simply bullied the young and inexperienced offensive line of the Hawks. There were hopes that Seattle could see some improvement in the ground game and in protecting Geno with four Week 1 starters on the line healthy and playing for the first time since the first half of Week 1. It did not turn out that way. The holes for the running backs were few and far between, and Geno was under pressure all day.
When the Ravens had the ball, they used play action to get their tight ends involved, routinely attacked the empty spaces in the underneath zones and whether it was a matter of the Ravens breaking tackles or the Seahawks just deciding to take the day off from tackling, they struggled to bring ball carriers down all afternoon.
4) Tell us a bit about one player, both on offense and defense, who we might not know about, but who you think we should. Who excites you in terms of their potential?
On the offensive side of the ball, when the tight ends produce, the offense tends to move the ball and score. When defenses take the tight ends out of the game, the Seattle offense struggles. I’m guessing most Commanders fans are familiar with former first round pick Noah Fant, so I’ll name Colby Parkinson as the second leading receiver at tight end for the Hawks who could make an impact. He’s been pretty invisible the last couple of weeks, and I’m guessing Pete Carroll and OC Shane Waldron are going to come in with a ground heavy attack, and eventually that will lead to Parkinson getting open off play action a couple of times during the course of the game with an opportunity to make something happen.
On the defensive side of the ball one of the biggest playmakers for Seattle so far this season has been third year cornerback Tre Brown. Playing in a secondary with first round pick Devon Witherspoon, All Pro Jamal Adams, and Pro Bowlers Quandre Diggs and Riq Woolen, it’s been Brown who has consistently been making impact plays this season when given the opportunity.
5) What are you expecting the final score of the game to be this week? DraftKings Sportsbook has the over/under set at 45.5. How many points do you expect to be scored overall?
I’m expecting a classic Seahawks-Ron Rivera matchup where both teams try to establish the run and establish superior physicality at the line of scrimmage. I really expect it to be a lower scoring affair, and I will be somewhat surprised if both teams score more than 20 points. I’m expecting the Seahawks to win with an ugly score along the lines of 23-13, though it will probably be much closer for most of the game.
Thanks again to Jon for taking time out of his day to answer our questions about the Seahawks. Be sure to check out John’s companion piece over at Field Gulls.
As of right now Vegas has Seattle as 6.5 point favorites. How would you bet?
This poll is closed
Seattle wins by 7 or more points.
Seattle wins by 6 or less, or ties.
As of now, Vegas has the over/under for this game at 44.5. Which would you bet?
This poll is closed
45 or more points are scored.
44 or fewer points are scored.