“They wrote me off; I ain’t write back though.”
That was Geno Smith after winning his first opening-game start in eight years, against Russell Wilson’s Broncos on Monday Night Football.
It also could be the entire Seahawks team, which felt a measure of vindication after beating the highly favored Broncos and Wilson, Seattle’s longtime franchise QB.
Smith was nearly perfect in the first half and then fizzled in the second thanks to DK Metcalf’s fumble and the Broncos owning the ball for over 20 minutes. But the defense rose up and showed how improved it already is — and signs of how very good it may become as this season goes on.
The defense gave up a lot of yards – Wilson threw for 340 and the Broncos rushed for 103 – but Seattle came up with three huge stops. Two were goal-line stands in the second half where the Hawks got the ball on fumbles at the 1, and the last was the final drive as Denver decided to try a 64-yard field goal on fourth down.
We have said it before: Seattle will win if it claims the turnover battle consistently and runs the ball productively. The first part of that equation was there with impeccable timing against Denver.
This defense has the look of a unit that will become extremely good by midseason. Yeah, the rookie corners took their lumps (Coby Bryant gave up a 67-yard TD and Tariq Woolen drew a couple of flags), but they also looked every bit as promising as they had in the preseason.
Michael Jackson is a ballhawk: He recovered both fumbles at the 1-yard line to stop the Broncos. He also had four tackles, one for a loss and a pass defensed as he continued to show the stellar play he displayed in the preseason.
The pass rush showed up just enough in the first game and should get better as it goes. Uchenna Nwosu had an impactful debut, with seven tackles, two QB hits, a sack, a forced fumble and a pass deflection. Nwosu credited the crazy volume produced by Seattle’s super-hyped fans.
Pete Carroll credited the fans as well: “The fans were ridiculous; the 12s were so good tonight.”
Shelby Harris was very effective, too, and had a lot to say afterward about beating his former team.
Smith made great use of his tight ends, hitting Will Dissly and Colby Parkinson for touchdowns. He said that was the plan coming in – and it certainly worked well. Dissly, Parkinson and Noah Fant combined for eight catches for 102 yards – showing that Seattle’s lack of a dependable No. 3 receiver might not be a very big deal.
DK Metcalf led the Hawks with seven catches, but he averaged just 5.1 yards. Tyler Lockett caught three for 28 yards. So the stars were the short-field decoys while the tight ends did the deep work (Dissly scored from 38 and Parkinson from 25).
Jamal Adams’ bad luck continued as he suffered a knee/quad injury. Carroll made it sound like Adams is out for the season, with surgery coming shortly. “It just breaks your heart. … We’re going to miss him so much.”
But the Hawks have both Josh Jones and Ryan Neal, so they will be fine there. Quandre Diggs dropped a pick in the end zone but also forced a big fumble on the goal line; he will lead that young unit well.
If Adams is out for the season, he will have missed 25 games (50%) in three years in Seattle. You have to feel bad for the guy. John Schneider’s desperate trade for Adams in 2020 was a big gamble at the time, and that bet has not paid off. The Hawks can’t get out of Adams’ deal until after 2023, but it sure looks like he may end up being every bit as big a busted trade acquisition as Percy Harvin was.
We had the Seahawks winning this game and starting 3-1 on the way to 8-9 by the end. If they can pull another upset in San Francisco this week, though, that would tip them over .500 in our projection. Smith won’t play any better than he did against Denver (his 119.5 rating was the second-best of his career), but the defense should continue to improve and the running game should factor more heavily, especially with Ken Walker now available.