This was a mess of a game with a few big positives.
Devon Witherspoon’s crunching hit at the end of the third quarter will be a season highlight. That’s why I love football. That’s what I want to see from a Seahawks defensive player.
— Rob Staton (@robstaton) October 22, 2023
To look this good this early in his career is quite a thing for Witherspoon. He was unlucky not to end the day with an interception and a sack (both called back for penalties by other players). The #5 pick was well spent on this playmaking, sparky defensive talent who is setting a tone in a way few players are able to.
He’s not the only rookie playing well. Jake Bobo continues to be a revelation. He can make the big play, the important play, the crucial block. Every team needs a Bobo and the Seahawks played a blinder adding him as an UDFA. I had him graded at the top of round four on my horizontal board this year and still can’t believe he wasn’t selected.
It was good to see Jaxon Smith-Njigba get his first touchdown and provide more of a contribution. We’re yet to see what I’d say are flashy, ‘special’ qualities from JSN but hopefully this game will give him confidence.
The Cardinals are not a good team and they lack proven quality on offense but I thought this was another good display by the defense. The D-line is playing far better than I expected prior to the season starting. They’ll be tested in the coming weeks by some powerhouse opponents but so far they are aggressive, stout and not as easy to play against as they have been in previous years. Boye Mafe has four sacks in as many games, Jarran Reed continues to shine and things are looking up.
All in all, though, it was a dog’s dinner of a game. Arizona are dreadful and deserve to be 1-6 on this evidence. The ‘fake punt’ they ran summed things up, as did their inability to cash-in on three turnovers (scoring just three points after the interception and two fumbles). They had a few moments of inspiration but otherwise look like a rebuilding team starting from scratch.
The Seahawks should’ve coasted to a victory but conspired to make it closer than it needed to be. I suppose you could say that’s been a Pete Carroll staple over the years but it’s never a justification for a stop-start performance.
For me the biggest concern coming out of the game is the offense. They have too many weapons to look this middling. They are inept in the red-zone so far. Geno Smith’s performance warrants another conversation this week.
I spent a lot of time talking about Smith after the Bengals loss and this game today just further illustrated the point that he should be seen as a bridge only. Smith has good physical tools and can make good passes, move the ball and he’s far from a terrible quarterback. Yet he’s still Geno Smith. He’s still the player who has too many turnover-worthy plays. He still makes too many critical errors. He still has fluctuating halves of football, as we’ve seen in all but the Detroit game this season.
The interception was horrible — hesitating when the throw wasn’t there, then throwing it anyway. He was responsible for the fumble, dropping a simple snap. He could’ve easily had a pick-six in the first half too.
I’m not calling for him to be benched or anything. I think if Drew Lock were better he’d probably already be playing. I do think we need to be realistic about Smith, though. He’s an acceptable starter for now. Yet if this Seahawks team ever wants to take the next step and be a true contender — which is a distinct possibility given the talent acquisition over the last two years — they are probably going to need a better quarterback. The aim has to be great and Championship caliber, not merely be good and content with life.
There’s also the cost factor. What we’ve seen through six games, in my opinion, isn’t worth between $31.1m and $41.1m (Smith’s salary next year). Especially not when Seattle’s estimated effective cap space is now at $4.5m for next year, with a decent collection of pending free agents on the team.
The next few weeks are going to be interesting. They play Myles Garrett’s Browns next week, an enormous test. Then it’s Baltimore (A), Washington (H), LA Rams (A), San Francisco (H), Dallas (A), San Francisco (A), Philadelphia (H). We’re going to find out what this team truly is (or isn’t) very quickly.