The Seahawks are 10-2 three quarters of the way through the season and in first place in the NFC West. Despite their strong start—the only team in franchise history to start better was the 2013 team that started 11-1, and only two other teams, 2005 and 1984, started 10-2—the Seahawks know they need to finish strong to make this season a success.
"It's a nice spot for this time," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said after Monday's win over the Vikings. "We kick it into the fourth quarter, and now it's finish time, now we have to do our jobs."
The Seahawks are excited about what lies ahead not just because of how well positioned they are after 12 games, but because they don't feel like they've played their best football yet. For much of the first-half of the season, it was the offense and the MVP-caliber play of Russell Wilson that helped the Seahawks to their victories, but of late the defense has been on fire. If those two units can peak at the same time, the Seahawks know they can be very dangerous.
"I think we're playing great football," Wilson said before adding, "I think we can play better."
Before the Seahawks kick off the closing stretch of the season, it's time to look back on the players, plays and trends that stood out over the past four games:
Offensive MVP: Quarterback Russell Wilson
Wilson has cooled off a bit from his torrid start to the season—and recent opponents featuring talented defenses like San Francisco, Philadelphia and Minnesota deserve credit for making things tough on Seattle's offense—but he is still a massive part of the Seahawks' success every week. And Wilson, who now leads the NFL in touchdown passes with 26, has hardly struggled of late even if his numbers aren't quite as crazy as they were in the first half of the season. Yes, three of his four interceptions in 2019 have come in the third quarter of the season, but he has also thrown for 1,050 yards and nine touchdowns over that span while averaging 7.9 yards per attempt. Wilson has also rushed for 102 yards in the past four games on just 14 carries.
Defensive MVP: Defensive End Jadeveon Clowney
If you're talking about overall impact, from playmaking ability to leadership to the way he helps put the defense in the right position play after play, Bobby Wagner is probably the right answer here every time. But since Wagner is a good teammate, and because he was both the first-quarter and midseason defensive MVP, we're hoping he won't mind if we spread the love and acknowledge the impact that Clowney has had on the defense, especially of late. Even having missed one of the past four games due to injury, it's hard to overstate just how good Clowney has been. Sometimes that shows up in obvious ways, such as his NFC Defensive Player of the Week-winning performance against the 49ers when he was a dominant force in a road win over one of the league's best teams. But Clowney's impact goes beyond his production to the effect he has had on the entire defensive line. With teams regularly double-teaming Clowney, other linemen are getting opportunities to make plays, and of late they've been making a lot of them, with the Seahawks recording 10 sacks in the past four games, including eight against the 49ers and Eagles.
Also worth mentioning here are Wagner, who had a team-high 40 tackles over the past four games, K.J. Wright, who is right behind Wagner with 36, and everyone in the play-making secondary of Shaquill Griffin, Tre Flowers, Quandre Diggs and Bradley McDougald.
Special Teams MVPs: Ugo Amadi & Travis Homer
Amadi, a rookie out of Oregon, has been one of Seattle's best special teams players all season, and that only continued over the past four games. Amadi's team-high eight special teams tackles included a great open-field tackle last week that likely saved a long kick return, but as big as some of those tackles have been, they don't tell the entire story of his impact, especially as a gunner on punt coverage. For every tackle Amadi has made on punt coverage, he has caused many more fair catches by being on top of the punt returner by the time the ball arrives. He has also shown a real knack for downing punts near the goal line, as was evident in Philadelphia when he corralled punts at the 1 and 2-yard lines.
Homer has been one of Seattle's best special teamers all season as well, but he has also taken on a more visible role the past two weeks after taking on kick-return duty. Last week, Homer also had a 29-yard run on a fake punt, and he recovered a fumble caused by Malik Turner on a kickoff to help clinch a victory over the Vikings.
Best Rookie: Receiver DK Metcalf
Metcalf, who ranks second on the team behind Tyler Lockett in catches, receiving yards and touchdowns (44-705-5), has been one of the league's best rookie receivers all season, including in recent weeks. Over his past four games, Metcalf has 21 catches for 303 yards and a touchdown, and the second-round pick out of Mississippi has also been a good blocker in the running game. It hasn't been a perfect season for Metcalf, who lost two fumbles in the past three games, but he has become one of Wilson's go-to targets and has been a big part of Seattle's offensive success.
Top Newcomer Not Named Jadeveon Clowney: Safety Quandre Diggs
The Seahawks acquired Diggs for the bargain price of a fifth-round pick, and even got a seventh-rounder back from Detroit in the deal, and through three starts Diggs has been a game-changer in Seattle's secondary. In addition to delivering big hits every week, Diggs also has an interception, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery, and his veteran presence along with Bradley McDougald's own experience has helped the entire secondary improve its play of late.
Best Play, Offense: Razzle Dazzle in Philly
On a day that was challenging for both offenses, in part because of wet, windy conditions, the Seahawks turned to a trick play to get their first touchdown in their Week 12 win over the Eagles. Lined up in a heavy look that indicated a running play—George Fant was in as an extra tight end and Malik turner was the only receiver on the field—Wilson tossed a pitch to Chris Carson, but instead of running with the ball, Carson stopped and threw back to Wilson, who then launched a perfect deep ball to Turner for a 33-yard score. From the protection that gave Wilson time to make the throw, to the perfect throw itself into a stiff wind, to Turner's catch in the back of the end zone, it was a nearly flawless play in terms of execution and design.
Best Play, Defense: Clowney Scoop & Score
One of the most significant developments of the third quarter of the season has been Seattle's defensive improvement and the turnovers that have come with it, and no play better illustrates that than Clowney's second defensive touchdown of the season, a fumble recovery caused by a Jarran Reed strip sack. That play was a crucial moment in a big road win over the 49ers, and illustrated what has made Seattle's defense so dangerous over the past month.
Trend to Continue: Takeaways on Defense
Seattle's defense has improved in so many ways over the past few games, none of which have been more significant than the number of turnovers it has forced. In no small part because of an improved pass rush, the Seahawks have 11 takeaways in their past three games, and have had three or more in five of their past seven games.
Trend to Clean Up: Fumbles on Offense
As a coach who constantly preaches an "it's all about the ball" philosophy, Carroll loves what he has been seeing out of his defense of late with all of the aforementioned takeaways. But that philosophy goes both ways, so Carroll doesn't love what his offense has been doing when it comes to ball security. After having a league-low 11 turnovers all of last season, the Seahawks have 17 this season through just 12 games, including nine in their past four games. Wilson has thrown only four interceptions this season, which means the other 13 turnovers have been fumbles. The good news is that the Seahawks have won in spite of that problem, but Carroll knows that trend won't continue of the Seahawks don't take better care of the ball.
During week 14 of the NFL season our some of our players, coaches, front office staff, and legends will wear custom designed cleats and shoes supporting causes they feel passionate about.