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2022 NFL Season: Winners and Losers from Seahawks 19, Cardinals 9

The Seattle Seahawks not only beat the Arizona Cardinals, they did it with defense! After consecutive weeks of shootout football, they prevailed in a 19-9 defensive struggle that was reminiscent of the early years of the Legion of Boom era Seahawks. Not only are the Seahawks a .500 team again, but they are very much in the mix in an underwhelming and very banged up NFC West.

Winners and Losers time!


Winners

Defensive Line, especially Poona Ford and Bryan Mone

The pass rush was fantastic and other than a few Kyler Murray scrambles the run defense was (finally) on point. Murray was repeatedly harassed and sacked six times, including five by outside linebackers or defensive tackles. Poona Ford and Bryan Mone, who have struggled mightily this season, were terrific. After only making two tackles for loss over the previous two weeks combined, the Seahawks defense had a whopping ten! It looked like a completely different group than what we’d seen through the previous five weeks.

Ford, Mone, Shelby Harris, and Quinton Jefferson all stepped up in Al Woods’ absence and deserve tremendous praise.

Tariq Woolen and Coby Bryant

I’m gonna have to keep putting them in this column as a duo, because they are sensational. Bryant had his best game in coverage and recorded a pass defensed, but his big contribution by him was the forced fumble on Kyler Murray that was recovered by Tariq Woolen. Bryant already has four forced fumbles on the year, and Woolen has four interceptions in as many weeks. These are the ballhawks that the Seahawks have been begging for post-Legion of Boom and they are growing up so damn fast.

Woolen in particular scarcely gets targeted and when he does he’s responding with INTs. He already has more interceptions than the entirety of the Seahawks cornerback group from 2021.

Darrell Taylor

Man did he need that. Taylor recorded his second strip-sack of the season and made a big tackle for loss on Rondale Moore for a loss of seven yards. Given his struggles against the run and the inability to generate pressure, this was a welcome sight to see.

Uchenna Nwosu

Another sack for Nwosu gives him three on the year, and he continues to be one of the bright spots on the Seahawks defense. This is a free agent signing that has definitely worked out.

Ryan Neal

He’s so much better than Josh Jones it’s not even funny. Neal got a sack on a well-executed blitz.

Jordyn Brooks

While Cody Barton seemingly had his role reduced (in which case, thanks Clint Hurtt!), Brooks was solid in pass coverage and run pursuit. Brooks led the team in tackles and unlike previous weeks this was not an empty calorie stat.

Kenneth Walker III

The rookie showed out in front of Shaun Alexander and stepped into Rashaad Penny’s starting role superbly. In 23 touches he racked up 110 yards and a touchdown, and that’s with the offensive line not providing too many holes for him to run through. Walker had several electrifying runs that showcased his balance, tackle-breaking abilities, vision, power, and speed.

Hopefully his repeated favoring of his groin was nothing major because the Seahawks rushing attack will need him for weeks to come.

Dee Eskridge

Yes, Dee Eskridge! Three catches for 39 yards, with every catch resulting in a first down. It ties his career-high in receptions, sets a new best mark for yards, and it was badly needed on a day when Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf were held to just four combined receptions.

Jason Myers

Four field goals, four makes for Myers. He had a miss in each of the last two games (one FG and one PAT) but he was flawless today and with points at a premium – all while his opposite kicker wasn’t even trusted to kick from 40 – that’s something we cannot overlook .

Losers

Offensive Line

Damien Lewis in particular appeared to have a terrible day at the office. The Cardinals like to blitz and it felt like the Seahawks didn’t handle that aggressiveness very well. Charles Cross and Abe Lucas had their bad reps and looked physically outmatched. Even a lot of Kenneth Walker’s success was more individual brilliance than excellent blocking. I’m not too upset because they were bound to have one of those games. I believe Arizona’s defense is more talented than their lackluster ranking suggests.

Noah Fant

I know he led the team in receptions (6) and receiving yards (45) but for some reason I am underwhelmed by his play. There’s a drive he practically destroyed by turning what should’ve been a first-down gain into a lame George Kittle possession by pointlessly stopping his momentum instead of driving forward through contact. He also had a drop that eventually led to a punt and he collided into Kenneth Walker on a wham block that wrecked a 3rd down run. It was an up-and-down day for Fant but I’ve been meaning to write about Fant’s performances for a bit and there’s not a lot I’ve seen to be impressed by.

Punt Protection

The Michael Dickson fumble that resulted in a touchdown basically happened because the blocking was so horrible that Dickson was either going to have his punt blocked or he would get tackled in the end zone for a safety. Dickson’s gotta have better ball security than that but he also shouldn’t be put in those horrible situations. Special Teams has cost the Seahawks three turnovers already, and effectively a fourth given the Saints mess last week.

Final Notes

  • Geno Smith is neither a winner nor a loser. There were at least three passes he threw that were risky and could’ve been picked off, and some of those sacks were on him. But on the critical touchdown drive he was sharp, going 5/6 for 65 yards before letting Walker do the rest on the ground. Vance Joseph is creative with his blitzes di lui and I suspect that lui threw the Seahawks (and Geno) off. Big plus was Geno’s mobility, which netted him 48 rush yards.
  • DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett didn’t have much to do, but three of their four catches resulted in first downs so they made the most of their limited opportunities.
  • Quandre Diggs missing another tackle (on the field goal drive) is painful to see. That can’t keep happening.
  • Arizona’s offense is horrible to watch and unlike what I’ve speculated, I’m not sure DeAndre Hopkins is the magic cure-all. Kyler Murray looked rattled and inaccurate, while Kliff Kingsbutry has a dangerous obsession with sideways passing. It’s boring and this team might be on the cusp of collapse.
  • Myles Adams might have saved a touchdown on that overthrow to Zach Ertz. Bump-and-run Myles got onto the field and chipped Ertz mid-route and that might have thrown off the timing.
  • Last week I said the lack of an effective pass rush is why I’m not in favor of Pete Carroll and John Schneider leading this rebuild. Well to counter my own argument, a win like today is what should be a mark in Pete and John’s favor. This 2022 Class looks special in ways that mirror 2010-2012 put together. We are seeing two starting caliber offensive tackles, a potential All-Pro corner, a valuable slot corner, and an exciting rookie running back. We’re still unsure on the pass rush with Boye Mafe but he’s shown some promise. The Seahawks are 3-3 in large part because they’ve finally got a draft class making the type of immediate positive impact that forms future contenders. Seattle had a Super Bowl caliber team in 2012 because Bobby Wagner, Richard Sherman, KJ Wright Russell Wilson, etc. were playing at a high-level in year one or two. They had those guys in abundance and recent Seahawks classes have had too few of them. We’re getting something similar through six weeks from Bryant, Woolen, Cross, Lucas, and Walker already. If we continue to see this type of exciting development (win-loss record be damned) I think even the most hardened pessimist has reason to be hopeful that, yes, post-Russell Wilson won’t be a bleak picture of fading relevance. A win like today’s is how Pete and John can re-earn the reputations they established early on in their Seattle tenures.

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