The Seahawks had a heck of an October, going 4-1 to leap into first place in the NFC West, and credit has deservedly been shared by many players – Geno Smith, Kenneth Walker III and Tariq Woolen pulled a trifecta of monthly NFC awards.
Clint Hurtt also has gotten a lot of credit for flipping the defense – since Week 6, the Hawks have cut points allowed in half (30.8 to 15), rushing yards almost in half (170 to 92) and passing yards by a quarter (260 to 198) while tripling their sack total (six to 19).
But another guy who should get some credit is Shane Waldron. The second-year OC took some heat early in the season for getting too cute – the worst example coming when he trotted out four RBs against the 49ers and DeeJay Dallas threw an INT at the goal line.
But Waldron has presented a variety of formations and some great concepts that have helped Smith and the offense succeed beyond anyone’s preseason projections. They are the No. 4 scoring offense in the league, at 26.3 ppg – behind only AFC powerhouses Kansas City (31.9) and Buffalo (29) and undefeated Philly (28.1). The Hawks are the No. 7 unit by DVOA.
It helps that Smith has brought some skills that Russell Wilson did not have – meaning the entire field is open to Waldron. He has used his tight ends very well; Noah Fant and Will Dissly have a combined 43 receptions and four TDs.
Waldron has come up with some great plays. Some examples from the 27-13 win over the Giants last Sunday:
- A direct snap to Walker as Smith walked away from center on the first drive
- Tyler Lockett lined up in backfield on fourth-and-1 and caught a quick out for a first down
- Seattle went for it on fourth-and-2, converting on a shovel pass to Dissly up the middle as Walker decoyed to the left
- A red-zone TD to DK Metcalf, who got lost behind two short crossers in the end zone.
- Waldron and Smith are in sync, and it shows.
“I think when we are seeing it through the same lens, I think that is when things are clicking on offense,” Waldron said. “When you get a good feel with the players and the coaching being on the same page, those are some explosive drives.”
When Smith was asked about being named NFC offensive player of the month, he said, “On behalf of myself, Shane Waldron, the offensive line, our offense, I’ll gladly accept that. It just means we’ve been playing well as an offense. And we’ve got to continue that; you’ve got to keep it going.”
Lockett and Metcalf worth their pay
It was apropos to see Lockett and Metcalf alongside Smith at the press podium after the game; both star receivers are earning their money by showing great toughness and leadership for a young team.
Both are playing injured right now, and they still are performing well.
Lockett had a roller coaster game against the Giants, fumbling inside the 5 to set up a TD by the Giants and later dropping an easy TD catch. He also barely missed getting a toe down for another TD. But he atoned with the go-ahead, 33-yard TD reception late in the game.
Metcalf also dropped a pass, but he came up with three great plays later: a 15-yard catch on third-and-14, a wide-open red-zone TD and a fake catch that drew the corner to him and gave Walker room to score the clinching TD.
Despite being a bit hobbled right now, both stars are on pace for 1,000 yards.
Smith defers talk of new contract
There has been much chatter that the Seahawks should extend Smith now, but we have said there is no reason for either side to do that – they should just play the season. Smith agrees.
“I don’t really live my life like that,” Smith said. “I’m always focused on what I’ve got to do today and tomorrow. Those things will come. Time will tell. Time will tell with all that. But for me, I’ve just got to stay focused on what I’m doing in here — and that’s working hard and leading this team and going out there and competing to get wins.”
Other notes & observations
The win over the Giants was special for Pete Carroll, who tied mentor Bud Grant for 18th on the NFL wins list. John Schneider gave Carroll the game ball in a cool locker room moment after the game.
The defense rose up against a big running team, holding the Giants to 78 rushing yards – almost 100 below their average. That was solid confirmation that the Hawks have turned around their run defense.
Corner depth: Sidney Jones was waived because they are so deep with Tre Brown, Artie Burns and Justin Coleman now healthy. Brown, Tariq Woolen and Coby Bryant are the future, and Michael Jackson has been a solid fill-in for Brown. Jackson had a good game vs. New York, and 33 of his 34 tackles have been solo.
Travis Homer and Nick Bellore are the heart of special teams. With Bellore out, Homer caused a game-sealing fumble in his first game back. Will Dissly filled in well for Bellore, causing a fumble and recovering the one Homer forced that set up the clinching TD. Dissly was named NFC special-teams player of the week for his part in those takeaways.
Bruce Irvin has really been a great addition — kind of a makeup for 2020, when he was injured. Against the Giants, he blasted QB Daniel Jones into Saquon Barkley for a loss. Carroll has talked about how Irvin, 35, is the last link to the LOB — and some of those guys (K.J. Wright, Kam Chancellor, Cliff Avril, et al.) are paying attention. Irvin was added to the permanent roster off the practice squad this week, and he sees this youthful defense ascending the same way the LOB did. “We are starting to get that feeling,” Irvin said. “We are starting to get that 2012, 2013, 2014 feeling.”