The Seahawks are 3-1 following Sunday's win at Arizona, their best four-game start since the 2016 season, and the first time they've won their first two road games since 2013. While is hasn't been a perfect start—too many miscues in a Week 3 loss to New Orleans prevented that—the Seahawks still feel very good about the direction this team is headed in a quarter of the way through the season.
"It's a solid start," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. "It's a solid start. There are a lot of teams in the same position we're in. We aren't separated from anybody, which is hard to do anyway at this time. It's a good solid start with one lousy outing the week we gave the game away, to a really good team as we see. I like where we are at this point and with this chance. I like this matchup right now kicking into the second quarter of the season and here we go. We'll see what happens."
With the first quarter of the season now completed, it's time to take a look at the players, moments and trends that stood out in Seattle's first four games.
Offensive MVP: Quarterback Russell Wilson
While plenty of players have helped Seattle's offense get off to a good start, including the offensive line, receivers Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf, tight end Will Dissly and running back Chris Carson, the obvious choice here is Wilson, who is playing at a level that will put him in the MVP conversation if he keeps it up and the Seahawks keep winning.
Through four games, Wilson has the league's second-best passer rating (118.7), the league's highest completion percentage (72.9), and has thrown eight touchdowns without an interception. He's also averaging 8.6 yards per attempt, which would be a career-high, along with the passer rating and completion percentage, if he were to maintain his current pace.
"I think he's off to his best start ever," Carroll said. "I don't know what it looks like, numbers wise, but I think it is. I don't think he's ever been more accurate than he's been, and more consistent, and in command of everything. I think he's off to a great start. I don't care how big the numbers are, I'm not talking about how many yards or whatever, just his play has been really, really sharp."
Defensive MVP: Linebacker Bobby Wagner
Jadeveon Clowney's pick-six and his overall disruptive play on the line make him a good option here, but we'll give the nod to the man who has been at the center of Seattle's defense, both literally and figuratively, since 2012.
Wagner, who had a franchise and career-high 19 tackles in Week 3, leads the team with 45 tackles through four games, which is about the least-surprising development of the year, and he's also providing valuable leadership on a defense that has undergone a pretty significant amount of change, particularly up front.
"He's doing great," Carroll said. "He's leading the whole crew, and everything is going fine… I think he's doing great."
Along with fellow linebackers K.J. Wright and Mychal Kendricks, Wagner is part of a linebacker trio that is one of the team's biggest strengths, one of the main reasons why Seattle has played so much base defense this year compared to previous years when they spent more time in their nickel defense.
Special Teams MVP: Kicker Jason Myers
Seattle's red-zone efficiency has limited Myers' chances on field goals, but he has gotten off to a strong start this year nonetheless. A free-agent addition this offseason, the 2018 Pro-Bowler attempted just one field goal in the first three games, a 58-yarder that just missed, because the Seahawks were 8 for 9 in the red zone in those games. Myers finally got a look at some more makeable kicks in Week 4 and made field goals of 33 and 24 yards. Myers is also 13 for 13 on extra points, and has had 15 of his 19 kickoffs go for touchbacks, contributing to Seattle allowing only 60 total kick return yards.
Also worth a mention on special teams are a couple of rookies who have made big contributions in coverage—Ugo Amadi, who has been outstanding as a gunner on the punt team, causing several fair catches while also making two tackles, and Ben Burr-Kirven, who has a pair of special teams tackles as well as a forced fumble on punt coverage.
Best Rookie: Receiver DK Metcalf
Metcalf, a second-round pick out of Mississippi, made his presence felt from the get-go, catching four passes for 89 yards in Seattle's opener, the most yards by a Seahawks rookie receiver in his debut since Steve Largent in 1976. Metcalf had 61 yards and scored his first touchdown the following week, had 67 more in Week 3, and despite a quiet day against the Cardinals, he is currently second on the team in receiving yards with 223, and is averaging an impressive 22.3 yards per catch.
Best Newcomer: Defensive End Jadeveon Clowney
Clowney, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2014 draft, arrived via trade just a week before the season opener, and the former Houston Texan made an immediate impact with his new team, recording a sack, a pass defensed and drawing a holding penalty. And while his overall numbers don't jump off the page just yet, he's affecting the way teams block against the Seahawks, creating opportunities for his teammates.
Oh, and then there was the play he made in Sunday's win at Arizona, a 27-yard interception return for a touchdown that showed off the athleticism that made him a No. 1 pick. Clowney has been impressive already, but most encouraging is the fact that both he and Carroll feel like he's just getting going having sat out training camp and the preseason with Houston.
Most Improved: Defensive Lineman Quinton Jefferson
Jefferson started 12 games last season, so it's hardly like he came into the year unknown, but his start to the 2019 season shows that the fourth-year defensive lineman has taken his game to another level. Showing the versatility to play on the edge and in the interior line, Jefferson already has 11 tackles—he had 25 in 16 games last season, two sacks and two passes defensed.
The Seahawks and their fans are right to be excited about the additions of Clowney and Ziggy Ansah, but the improved play of Jefferson has been equally important to Seattle's defense early this season.
Comeback Player: Tight End Will Dissly
Dissly tore his patellar tendon one year ago today, a serious enough injury to make it anything but a given he would be ready for the season opener, let alone capable of playing like he did last year. But Dissly didn't just make it back for Week 1, he was even ready for part of training camp and the preseason, and he has played this season as if that injury is completely behind him.
Dissly has 19 catches for 181 yards and four touchdowns this year, giving him six career touchdowns in only eight games.
"I love the way he's playing. He and Russ are hooking up at crucial times, tough catches," Carroll said after Dissly had seven catches for 57 yards and a touchdown against the Cardinals. "He's gotten hammered a few times on tackles and bounced right back up. He's a tremendous Seahawk. He just does everything so beautifully. It's great to have him."
Best Play, Offense: Russell Wilson To Tyler Lockett For A 44-Yard TD
Tyler Lockett had only one catch in Seattle's first game, but it was a big one. The Cincinnati Bengals did a good job scheming to keep the ball away from Seattle's top receiver, but when the Seahawks needed a little magic early in the fourth quarter of a game they were trailing by three points, offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer and the Seahawks offense had the right play ready.
With Wilson lined up in a shotgun formation next to running back Rashaad Penny, Wilson faked a handoff to Penny, which, combined with a shallow crossing route by DK Metcalf, took Cincinnati's free safety out of the play, vacating the deep middle portion of the field. That, combined with a good route by Lockett, left him wide open for a 44-yard touchdown that put the Seahawks ahead for good.
Best Play, Defense: Jadeveon Clowney's Pick-Six
Through his first three games as a Seahawk, Clowney was already proving to be a difference maker for Seattle's defense, but he hadn't yet had the true "wow" play that fully demonstrated the type of athlete he is. That moment came early in Sunday's win at Arizona, with Clowney reading a screen pass, then sticking his big left hand up to bat the ball to himself. The interception alone would have been impressive enough, but Clowney also showed off his speed by racing down the left sideline 27 yards for a touchdown.
Trend To Continue: Limiting Big Plays
One of the issues from last season that Carroll wanted to see his team improve upon was the amount of big plays his defense allowed. The Seahawks gave up 126 explosive plays (runs of 12 or more yards, passes of 16 or more), a total that was tied for 10th most allowed in the NFL and the highest total allowed by a Seahawks defense since Carroll and general manager John Schneider took over in 2010.
Through four games, the Seahawks have allowed only 21 explosives, tied for fourth fewest among teams that have played four games (San Francisco, which had a Week 4 bye, has allowed only 11 explosives in three games).
Trend To Clean Up: Turnovers
OK, so this is really a three-game trend the Seahawks hope to have stopped in Week 4. After turning the ball over a league-low 11 times all of last season, including eight games without a turnover, the Seahawks opened 2019 by turning the ball over four times in their first three games, including one Chris Carson fumble that was returned for a touchdown in a Week 3 loss to New Orleans, and two other fumbles that led to touchdowns in a Week 2 win at Pittsburgh.
In Sunday's win over the Cardinals, however, the Seahawks were turnover free, and it's also worth noting that five of those 11 turnovers in 2018 happened in the first two games, so some early struggles in that area don't necessarily portend season-long struggles.