The Professor’s 2021 NFL Preview: NFC West – Seattle Seahawks

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TheProfessor_NFL-Preview_Seahawks

Seattle Seahawks

Team Projection

TeamPoints ForPoints AgainstGames FavoredPythagorean Expected Wins
SEA429.04435.0197.87

There was a lot of smoke around quarterback Russell Wilson this offseason, and frankly, the situation is too bizarre for me to try to puzzle out. However, whether or not Wilson wants to be there, the offense is in fairly good shape, though the defense appears to be another matter.

Wilson’s left tackle, Duane Brown, is coming off a terrific season, and while Brandon Shell has never been a difference-maker at right tackle, he turned in his typical steady season in his first year as a Seahawk and is back for another campaign. Damien Lewis showed promise as a rookie right guard, and Ethan Pocic is an adequate center.

To round out the line, the Seahawks acquired guard Gabe Jackson for a modest amount of draft capital, and their starting five now looks to be in the middle of the pack, which should allow Wilson to maximize the weapons around him.

D.K. Metcalf’s standout play in his first two years as a pro has relegated Tyler Lockett, a great receiver in his own right, to second receiver duties. Behind them, the Seahawks have finally moved on from deep-threat David Moore as the third receiver, as he’s moved on to Carolina after weathering seemingly endless challengers for his role over the past few seasons. The Seahawks will look for second-round pick D’Wayne Eskridge to replace his production, if not his specific role.

While Moore stood out for his deep fades and verticals, Eskridge’s draft profile indicated that he is more of a slot player. Seattle also added Gerald Everett, a receiving specialist who operates as a move tight end and will see if they can get Everett to translate his explosive athletic traits into more consistent production than what he posted in Los Angeles. Will Dissly, who had a healthy third season after suffering significant injuries in his first two years, slots in as the inline tight end.

Seattle also has a new offensive coordinator in Shane Waldron, and the Shannahan-style system he will presumably bring from the Rams should be a great fit, particularly if Chris Carson and Rashaad Penny are healthy. If the Seahawks can force defenses into single-high looks and create opportunities for Metcalf and Lockett to use their speed on crossers and vertical routes, this offense should produce a lot of explosive plays.

All things considered, there’s too much talent on this offense not to expect a strong season, and that’s critical because there’s too little talent on the defense to expect an average season.

This unit is a long way from the Legion of Boom defenses of old. Last season’s unit was not particularly good, and they’ve lost key contributors from that group, highlighted by corner Shaquill Griffin, who departed for Jacksonville in free agency, and linebacker K.J. Wright, who had a standout season last year and remains unsigned. There are still several bright spots, highlighted by the elite Bobby Wagner at inside linebacker, who could have a strong new partner beside him if Jordyn Brooks, a 2020 first-round pick, continues to develop. Brooks certainly has the range to be an impact player. The defense also features corner D.J. Reed, who broke out during the 2020 campaign and played solid ball after he claimed a starting outside corner spot, defensive end Carlos Dunlap, who got fresh life after his trade from Cincinnati, and free safety Quandre Diggs. Kerry Hyder, a free-agent signing from the 49ers, is also coming off a breakout season that saw him emerge as a solid rush threat with the size to be a presence against the run at the defensive end.

That said, the players I’ve listed are solid and unlikely to be good enough to cover up the weak spots this team has across the unit. As to safety Jamal Adams, I’ve become progressively less enamored with what he brings to the table. Fans of Adams point to his sack production and claim much of his value lies in his pass rush skills, but Adams picks up his sacks as a schemed blitzer, or coming up from zone coverage to run down quarterbacks once the play breaks. When I think about a difference-maker at pass rusher, I think of a player that can line up as part of a four-man defensive front and get pressure by defeating the offensive lineman in front of him while allowing the back end to have seven in coverage, not a player who is great at hitting home as part of a blitz that leaves the team short-handed in the back end.

Acquiring Adams gutted Seattle’s draft capital, and I would dismiss any argument that Adams brings comparable value to Rams corner Jalen Ramsey, who was acquired for similar draft capital, out of hand. The elite players on this team could elevate this team to contention in the NFC West, and head coach Pete Carroll’s emphasis on competition means they will likely find more contributors along the way, much like D.J. Reed in 2020. There’s too much talent to count this team out of contention, but at the same time, there appears to be very little room for error and a need for a good bit of luck.

QB Passing Projections

PlayerQBRkGPComAttComPercYPAPassYdsPassTDINTPPRAvg
Russell Wilson817366.9524.20.77.934158.335.39.620.51

QB Rushing Projections

PlayerQBRkGPCarriesYPCRushYdsRushTDCarryShareRushTDShrPPRAvg
Russell Wilson81791.45.26481.4218.314.320.51

Skill Projections, Rushing

PlayerPosRkGPCarriesYPCRushYdsRushTDCarShrRushTDShrPPRAvg
Chris CarsonRB1817251.34.621161.57.550.452.813.41
Tyler LockettWR351710.07.0069.80.22.01.812.47
Rashaad PennyRB1671784.64.41372.83.417.023.84.55
Travis HomerRB1931761.05.49334.81.012.27.23.75

Skill Projections, Receiving

PlayerPosRkGPTgtCnvRecYPRRecYdsRecTDTgtShrRecTDShrPPRAvg
Chris CarsonRB181778.842.97.10304.42.510.46.913.41
DK MetcalfWR281762.180.415.561250.09.124.725.712.92
Tyler LockettWR351772.584.712.891092.18.622.324.512.47
D’Wayne EskridgeWR1431768.037.511.41427.65.910.516.75.70
Rashaad PennyRB1671767.214.16.9297.50.54.01.44.55
Will DisslyTE1731778.728.111.39320.54.56.812.74.29
Gerald EverettTE1851766.237.29.18341.32.510.77.03.98
Travis HomerRB1931782.814.76.6698.21.13.43.23.75
Freddie SwainWR3101762.513.29.61127.00.44.01.11.27
DeeJay DallasRB3181786.514.07.1099.60.23.10.71.09

About the author:

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Steven Clinton, better known as "The Professor", is a former D-1 Quality Control Assistant (Northwestern, Toledo) who holds a B.A. in Economics and M.S. in Predictive Analytics from Northwestern University. He maintains an end-to-end NFL game projection model and is a film junkie who breaks down the tape of every NFL game.

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