Curtis Allen: Questions answered by the Seahawks

November 25th, 2022 | Written by Rob Staton

With a bye week to catch our breath this season I thought we could discuss some answers to the questions I posed to the offense and defense back in July. 

Questions for the Defense 

Questions for the Offense 

As you can imagine, the answers reveal a mix of good and bad, some pleasant surprises and some same-old, same-old to this Seahawks team.  

They also give us an early read on some of the issues the team will face this offseason as they build their roster for 2023.

Can the coaching staff avoid a sluggish start on defense for the third season in a row?

Answer:  No

This might be the most baffling issue of the modern Seahawks era.  Once again in 2022, the defense started out horribly.  The line – which the Seahawks bolstered with several offseason signings – was barely functioning apart from Al Woods and Uchenna Nowsu.  The linebackers were not kept clean.  Players did not appear to understand their assignments.  Quarterbacks had time, runners had holes and linebackers and safeties were not in position to make routine tackles.  The results were predictable.

Just think:  if the Seahawks were slightly better on defense those first few weeks, they prevent or minimize the defensive breakdowns in the Atlanta and New Orleans games and sit at 8-2 right now.  Pete Carroll would have a real claim to Coach of the Year votes.

What is the problem?  The real truth may never come to light, as we will not be privy to the internal conversations at Seahawks Headquarters.

From Week One however, outside analysts and former players were pointing out that the team acquired players with a certain skillset, and then actively decided to scheme against that skillset.

The public comments by Pete Carroll and Clint Hurtt failed to shed any light on the situation.  Asked if there is a link to the slow defensive starts in recent seasons, Pete feigned ignorance.  One thing we do know:  A Clint Hurtt promotion and a Sean Desai hiring did not stop the trend.

Very rarely does any NFL team start perfectly in tune.  Adjustments after a few weeks are always part of the game.  However, the degree to which the Seahawks need adjusting is too high to be just shrugged off by the fact that they inevitably did make the needed adjustments and are now playing well.

This will remain a major issue for the 2023 season.  Particularly if the Seahawks nail their offseason and stand ready to be a serious contender.  Another ugly start on defense could put a real dent in those hopes.

Can this team get a reasonable return on their investments at the safety position?

Answer:  No — but Ryan Neal blossoming sure eases the sting

Quandre Diggs has not been good this season.  A 62 PFF rating, no heat-seeking-missile like tackles to give his teammates a charge, and so far, he is allowing a career-worst 137 QB rating when targeted.

It is so much more than that though.  It is the missed tackles and his nonchalant attitude on the field that does not match up with his words to the press.  His year does not seem to have improved with the sudden emergence of the pass rush the last few weeks.

There needs to be a real discussion this offseason about whether Diggs is on this team in 2023.  His cap number is $18.1 million.  What are the options? 

He has $8.2 million in signing bonus money that will need to be accrued for on the cap.  They can swallow all of that as a 2023 dead cap and reap $9.9 million of cap room immediately or designate him a post-June 1 cut and split the dead cap between 2023 and 2024 and pick up $14.1 million of room after June 1.

Question for offseason consideration:  Is having $9.9m in March and a clean cap with no dead money for Diggs in 2024 worth eating all $8.2 million of the dead money in 2023?  It very well might be.  

That might heavily depend on what the Seahawks plan to do with his battery mate…

On Jamal Adams, not much else needs to be said.  He has had serious injuries three seasons in a row.  His trade value is shot until he has a sustainable stretch of good, healthy play again.

One salary cap note to be aware of though:  Both Spotrac and OTC are reporting that the Seahawks will pick up $11 million of cap room if they choose to designate him a post-June 1 cut.  Unfortunately, it is a little less than that.  Adams’ contract has a clause that guarantees $2.56 million of his 2023 salary if he is on the roster February 4.  It is guaranteed for injury, which Adams obviously is.  So that $11 million savings is actually $8.44 million that would come available after June 1.

The Seahawks need to either cut Adams or approach him about reworking his contract and easing that massive cap hit.  Going forward with that contract in place is not an option.

A disappointing safety situation has been softened by the emergence of Ryan Neal.  A few weeks ago, I wrote about the need for the Seahawks to get him on the field:

“Ryan Neal has been a great utility player at the defensive back position and on special teams for the Seahawks.  They now have 13 games to see what he can do at the starting strong safety spot.  He is a Restricted Free Agent in 2023, so the team has control of him.   

If they want to retain him, they may have to offer him enough money to scare other teams off.  Therefore, they need to determine right now if he can be worth it as more than a rotational player.”

The Seahawks have put him in and he has absolutely delivered.  In seven games (six as a full-time player) Neal has an 80.4 PFF grade, a sack, a QB hit, a forced fumble, three tackles for loss and six passes defensed.

Neal is more than numbers though.  He is beginning to emerge as a leader on the defense.  He is regularly making pregame speeches and is giving the press great quotes about a hard-nosed defensive attitude.  He is bringing some of that undrafted-dog-off-the-street mentality that made the early Pete Carroll Seahawks so tough.

He will be a Restricted Free Agent in 2023, so the Seahawks will have control of his rights.  According to OTC they will need to tender him at a number of at least $2.69 million to control his rights.  They could easily tender him at the second-round level, or just buy out the RFA year by signing him to an extension early, like they did with Bryan Mone this last offseason.

Can the team distribute the defensive snaps in a more effective way in 2022?

Answer:  Absolutely yes

I opined on a years-long Pete Carroll gripe of mine:  After building one of the greatest defenses in NFL history on the back of giving young players snaps to develop and trusting in their skill, work ethic and instincts, Carroll has reversed course the past few years and blocked young players with expensive, past-their-prime veterans with very little to show for it.  Thankfully Carroll has bucked that trend this year.

At the cornerback spot I wrote:

“The Seahawks have collected an impressive group of talented young cornerbacks. They also wisely covered themselves with veteran free agent signings to assure depth and experience is provided at the position. But will we witness Carroll once again opting for the comfort of experience and mediocre yet predictable play over the unknown of youth and talent at the position?”

The Seahawks answered that question emphatically.  Tariq Woolen has been a revelation, Mike Jackson has been very solid, and Coby Bryant has had more game-changing plays than any nickel in recent Seahawks memory.

Veterans Artie Burns and Justin Coleman have been relegated to the bench.  Sidney Jones was inactive for several games, and with Tre Brown close to coming back, ended up being caught in a numbers game and waived off the roster (to the Seahawks’ credit, they tried and tried and tried to get a team to pick up a chunk of his $2.2 million hit.  They offered him in the trade market, they specifically waived him instead of cutting him, hoping some team would claim him and take his salary off their books, but in the end, they only picked up $480k of roster bonus money and ate the rest as dead cap).

All of this was made possible by Pete Carroll returning to his competitive roots.  And now, the Seahawks reap a fantastic benefit:  They will have Tariq Woolen, Coby Bryant, Tre Brown and (likely) Mike Jackson all entering 2023 with real NFL experience for a grand total of about $5.5 million if they tender Jackson.

$5.5 million.  For your top four corners.  It really illustrates how profitable acquiring and developing young talent can be!

On the defensive line, the Seahawks have not been able to maximize their value as much, with Tyreke Smith and Alton Robinson injured.  Boye Mafe has gotten a healthy share of the snaps, and the Seahawks had to bring in Bruce Irvin to make sure Mafe is not overloaded too quickly and to balance out Uchenna Nwosu’s heavy workload.

I asked if Nwosu was this year’s Benson Mayowa.  A part-timer who will wilt under the pressure of a bigger role and take vital snaps from younger players.  He, thankfully, is not.  He has been an absolute gem of a free-agent find for the Seahawks.

What does the offense look like without Russell Wilson?

Answer:  More complete

I wrote:

“Will the absence of Russell Wilson force them to rely more on the running game? To use the tight ends more and employ more short passing and fly sweep type options that work well with a reformed offensive line?

Being forced into these postures might actually be a good thing, a true ‘necessity is the mother of invention’ moment for the team. As well, with the team free of a quarterback with very strong views about how the offense is run, it might actually help them move away from their ‘all or nothing’ identity on offense.

Time will tell.”

Yes, Past Curtis, time has indeed told.

What a transformation.  The Seahawks have traded the thrill ride of backyard football pyrotechnics from the quarterback for breathtaking runs from their explosive running backs, a decidedly more scheduled offense that does not consistently put strains the defense while still including the fabulously talented wide receiver corps in the mix.

All this while integrating rookie tackles into the offensive line from Week One.

It is worth saying again:  Nobody could have drawn this up in their wildest dreams.  The Seahawks are currently living in the best timeline after years of being seemingly condemned to the dark reaches of utter strangeness and frustration.

Can the Seahawks finally solve the Tight End riddle?

Answer:  Emphatically Yes

The Seahawks as a team are:

Third in the NFL in tight end targets

-Second in the NFL in tight end catches

-Third in the NFL in tight end receiving yards

-Tied for fourth in the NFL in tight end touchdown catches (they’d have more if Ken Walker would quit breaking off 70 yard touchdown runs)

For years, the Seahawk defense has had a particularly play they know is coming and still cannot stop it.  Now finally, the offense has one.

What will the running game look like?

Answer:  Very, very good

Rashaad Penny took a while to get up to speed coming out of the gate.  He had several runs that were ‘thisclose’ to breaking and kept Ken Walker from getting in the game in the early going.

Then the Detroit game happened.  Since then – other than a hard-fought game against the Bucs in Germany – the running game has delivered this year.  Defenses have to constantly be on the watch for explosive runs.

Penny got hurt and Walker stepped in and immediately exploded.  The debate quickly flipped from ‘how can the Seahawks split the reps between their two talented runners?’ to ‘Do the Seahawks even bother to bring Penny back next season?’

There are several good to great running backs eligible for the draft this year.  The discussion about if the Seahawks draft another running back with a high pick is a worthy one.  Particularly if one of the highly-touted players begins to slip down the board due to positional value.

In a way, this year perfectly illustrates the wisdom and potential pitfalls of selecting a running back early.

The very talented Ken Walker struggled to get reps in the offense while Penny was starting.  He then easily took the starting job and produced the minute Penny was hurt.

So, both arguments have merit.

It will be very interesting to see how the NFL and the Seahawks view the running backs in this draft.  

A wildcard:  Would Damien Pierce’s early success as a fourth-round pick push players like Zach Charbonnet and Kenny McIntosh up the board a little?

Can the Seahawks develop this offensive line for 2023 and beyond?

Answer:  Yes — and Damien Lewis has re-entered the future conversation

You know about Lucas and Cross.  The Seahawks have their bookend tackles for the next few years.  Both have that perfect intersection of talent and production right now and room to get so much better in the very near future.

Damien Lewis has started to break through at left guard as well.

I wrote:

“This is a critical season for Lewis. What seemed like a slam-dunk “we’re set at Right Guard for the next 10 years” career track now carries as many question marks as answers. Can he earn that level of confidence at Left Guard? Or has that move stunted his development too much?”

The early part of the year did nothing to answer those questions.  Lately however, Lewis appears settled at left guard.  He currently leads the Seahawk offensive line in PFF score with 71.6 and won his fair share of trench battles with Vita Vea last week.  With 7 games to play, he seems to be on his way toward having his name in the conversation next to Lucas and Cross as the future of the offensive line.

Gabe Jackson appears all but gone, whether it is this year or in the offseason.  Austin Blythe has brought attitude and leadership to the line but not great play.  So, they have questions to address this offseason.  But neither of those questions are at the tackle position.  The Seahawks are set there.

40 Responses to “Curtis Allen: Questions answered by the Seahawks”

  1. clbradley17 says:

    Best Of Seahawks Mic’d Up Through 10 Games | 2022 Seahawks
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y1sn6u3zhgA&t=43s

    2 great articles back to back Cha! This team seems to be having much more fun this year too, as seen in the Mic’d Up video above. I don’t think they thought they were going to be this successful with all the rookies and losing Russ. If the D would’ve played even a little better early on, we could/should be 8-2.

    So many of the rookies, TEs, Uwosu, and Geno have far exceeded expectations. As you pointed out yesterday, Geno has a great situation here set up to succeed, and it would be beneficial to come back to all these weapons, even if it’s for a slightly lower price.

    Looking at your assessment above, seems like we’re a couple OL, DL + 2-3 other players to get in the draft or FA away from being a Super Bowl contender. And we’ll have 4 picks in the top 55 or so, 3 in the top 35-40. What a great year to be a Seahawks fan with the most informative draft blog on the internet!

  2. Romeo A57 says:

    Thanks, this is a good look at the current state of the Seahawks by comparing expectations to the results on the field. Some of my thoughts before this season.

    I thought Geno being named the Starter before the Preseason was a joke. Very wrong.

    I didn’t love paying DK elite money because isn’t an elite WR. The Seahawks desperately need his production but he will never be elite. I am absolutely correct on this.

    PC and JS have been doing a poor job of roster building and management for years so the 2022 Seahawks will be one of the worst teams this year. This team has way exceeded expectations.

    • AlaskaHawk says:

      I’m not convinced DK Metcalf is living up to his contract either but I’m still hoping he will improve by the end of the season. I wonder if they are making DK work with the jug machine? He should practice high pointing the ball every day.

      Part of the reason he got a big contract (other than teasing us with his athleticism) is that the Seahawks haven’t shown any consistency in drafting wide receivers. Where is our number 3? If not for Dk we would need two more wide receivers.

      I’m hoping DK Metcalf improves and that the Seahawks draft better at that position. If they can do it with tight ends they should be able to find them at wide receiver. This draft has some good mid round choices.

      • Romeo A57 says:

        Watch Justin Jefferson or Devanta Adams. DK is not in their class. The Seahawks could not afford to lose DK so I understood the large contract. I am just nervous about having too many players underperforming with large contracts. You are already stuck with JA and Diggs.

        • AJW says:

          DK has improved at attacking the ball this year and it has shown up. They just haven’t all been receptions or counted. He is also being paid for his leadership and mentality on the field. He is a tone setter one of the best run blockers at the position in the league.

  3. Big Mike says:

    Outstanding as always cha. Man, 8-2. Wouldn’t that be something? 6-4 is still beyond my wildest fantasies prior to the season starting tho. Hell, I sure would like a win in one of those losses to Atl and NO for 7-3. But the past is just that and I want to see them win the games they should win from here on out, i.e. Rams BOTH TIMES, Carolina, Raiders. Learning to beat inferior opponents is a skill young teams can struggle with. Get it done and it’ll be playoffs Hawks.

  4. Elmer says:

    It seems to me that WR3 is a place to look at strengthening in the draft. Lockett isn’t getting younger and it’s not clear at this point how far Eskridge is going to develop.

    • Blitzy the Clown says:

      Curtis Crabtree

      @Curtis_Crabtree
      Seahawks’ Dee Eskridge ruled out with broken bone in right hand. #FOX13

      3:11 PM · Nov 25, 2022

      So, who you like for WR3?

      • Big Mike says:

        Unquestionably for me it’s Goodwin assuming he’s healthy.

        • Big Mike says:

          But if you meant draft, I’ll leave that to Rob and others that study the college players.

        • bmseattle says:

          Pretty sad that Eskridge being out doesn’t really change anything.
          Goodwin is clearly better than him, and I hope he *is* healthy enough to contribute.
          But I agree with the comments about about needing another young receiver to develop going forward.
          I shudder to think about this offense if one or both of DK and Tyler are hurt for any length of time.

  5. Stuart says:

    Excellent write up on BOTH your articles. This site is one of a kind AWESOME!

  6. AlaskaHawk says:

    Richardson showing off his arm with a perfectly placed 52 yard pass. First time I’ve been able to watch him.

    • AlaskaHawk says:

      Any other seniors I should be watching in Florida vs Florida State game?

    • KD says:

      Dude, he’s thrown 3 passes and has 2 TDs!

      • Peter says:

        Russ has sucked and Hackett is way out of his depth…but we really need that defense to pack it in and Houston and Carolina to get ther sh– together or we are going to be miles away from Richardson in the draft even at the third spot.

    • AlaskaHawk says:

      I also like Florida State jr QB Travis, has a lot of energy and drive. His big receiver Johnny Wilson, a ‘s sophomore.

      Who’s the big defensive tackle on Florida line? he is a good run stopper.

  7. Jon W. says:

    Curtis the last 2 articles were incredible! The value that you provide for 12s is off the charts. This blog is insanely good.

    I especially enjoyed your cap hit analysis on Diggs and Adams.

  8. Hawkcrazy says:

    I agree Curtis you have hit these articles out of the park. This blog is just so incredibly much better than the mainstream media. It is detailed, insightful, and analyses alternatives much as I would hope team management does. This is by far the premier Seahawk site and probably NFL site. When you look at mock drafts here it is not just the Seahawk picks that make sense and have been considered in detail every pick has been considered for every team. This is the place that I develop my crushes on who we can draft, who I hope other teams dont draft and then this site tops it off with such a knowledgeable fan base chipping in with comments. Rob I go to your site pretty well every day and have for years. I don’t believe there is any site that has anyway near the legacy of excellence this site has.

  9. Rob Staton says:

    My god

    Watch the 4th and 2 run by Zach Charbonnet in the video below. Fast forward to 11:47

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qu7YJmaB7Zs

  10. KennyBadger says:

    Bravo cha, I appreciate the flashback for perspective. Geno smith has changed the calculus dramatically from last spring and I think the hawks are closer to serious contention than most thought. Again for karma’s sake I admit to stating geno was the worst football player in the NFL.

    Play their next draft and cap right, then we are in business. I’m conflicted about the peacock though. He’s like the penny of the defense. Obviously talented, always hurt, and is the cost worth the risk to your point. Is there a happy medium with renegotiation- to me that’s ideal. Not sure if peacocks and my idea of ‘ideal’ are similar though…

  11. Blitzy the Clown says:

    That was one hell of a rushing third down conversion by Anderson

  12. KD says:

    Jesus, AR went from being being on absolute fire to colder than a witch’s tits. 5/17 passes at the start of the 4th.

    • Palatypus says:

      At one point they said he threw ten incompletions in a row. Also, he has five wide receivers out with injuries. So, I guess they decided to use him as a fullback, answering the question of what an offense would look like if they decided to use Derrick Henry as a quarterback.

      BTW, with a TD pass in his last game, Henry’s career passing numbers:

      5/6, 83.3%, 23 yards, 3.8 avg, 2 TD, 0 INT, Rate 198.6

      https://www.nfl.com/players/derrick-henry/stats/career

      • AlaskaHawk says:

        I think Travis is outplaying Richardson – but Richardson is missing 5 receivers. Travis is a shifty runner.

        • Palatypus says:

          If the Seahawks were missing five wide receivers the depth chart might look like this.

          Dareke Young, Cade Johnson, Bo Melton, Laquon Treadwell, Easop Winston Jr.

          And we might be calling Odell Beckham Jr.

        • AlaskaHawk says:

          Florida offense team made a number of mistakes for penalties too, that didn’t help. That last drive was pretty exciting. Richardson has some good qualities to build off of. And if he doesn’t work out you can draft Travis the year after. 😁

  13. Jabroni-DC says:

    Well…UCLA beating CAL puts UW’s Pac-12 Title hopes nearly to rest.
    Beat WSU? That’s doable though weird things happen in Pullman.
    OSU over OU isn’t that far fetched.
    Colorado beating Utah? That’s a bridge too far to hope for.

  14. Trevor says:

    The NFLs top QBs (Mahomes, Allen, Herbert, Rodgers) are big, athletic and can improvise. The recent early picks that have struggled have been smaller and less atheltic ( Mayfeild, Zack Wilson etc).

    Based on this alone when I see draft pundits putting Bryce Young as the top pick and Anthony Richardson outside the top 10 it makes question everything else they say as this makes no sense.

  15. Paul says:

    Sluggish starts aren’t that unusual for Pete Carroll’s Seahawks. Typically, the staff makes adjustments in whatever the problem area is.

    2010: 2-1 (7-9)
    2011: 1-2 (7-9)
    2012: 1-2 (11-5)
    2013: 3-0 (13-3)
    2014: 2-1 (12-4)
    2015: 1-2 (10-6)
    2016: 2-1 (10-5-1)
    2017: 1-2 (9-7)
    2018: 1-2 (10-6)
    2019: 2-1 (11-5)
    2020: 3-0 (12-4)
    2021: 1-2 (7-10)

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