The Seahawks are 2-2 a quarter of the way into the 2022 season—OK, with a 17-game season, there's no true quarter/half/third quarter break in the schedule, but we're going with this week—and just as their record might suggest, there's been plenty of good through four games, as well as some stuff that needs to be cleaned up if the Seahawks are going to be a playoff-contenting team.
With the second quarter of the season starting this week—or, technically, after the first quarter of Sunday's game in New Orleans—it's time to take a look back at some of the top players and plays from the first four games of the season:
Offensive MVP: QB Geno Smith
One of the biggest bright spots this season so far has been the play of Smith, who in his first season as a starter since 2014, hasn't just been a serviceable starter, he has by just about any measure been one of the better quarterbacks in the NFL.
Smith, the NFC Offensive Player of the Week for Week 4, leads the NFL in completion percentage with a 77.3 mark that is the best in league history through a quarterback's first four games (minimum 125 attempts), his 108.0 passer rating ranks third, and by ESPN's QBR measure, he ranks fifth at 72.4. Smith is also the top rated quarterback in the NFL this season by Pro Football Focus with a grade of 84.5.
Coming into the season one of the biggest question marks about the Seahawks was quarterback play considering the team had traded away Pro-Bowl quarterback Russell Wilson. Instead, four games into the season, Smith has turned quarterback play, and the offense as a whole, into one of the team's biggest strengths.
"Geno is off to a fantastic start," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. "… I'm so proud of his start and fired up for him."
Also deserving of a mention are receivers DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett, tight end Will Dissly, who has a team-leading three touchdown catches, and running back Rashaad Penny, who is coming off a 151-yard, two-touchdown performance.
Defensive MVP: LB Uchenna Nwosu
Uchenna Nwosu was hardly a household name when the Seahawks signed him as a free agent last spring, but the outside linebacker has been a fantastic signing so far this season. After winning NFC Defensive Player of the Week honors for recording a sack and a goal-line forced fumble, Nwosu has continued his strong play over the past three games as well.
In addition to his team-high two sacks, Nwosu also leads the team with seven quarterback hits, tied for eighth most in the NFL, and he also has three passes defensed, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.
"He's been our top guy," Carroll said. "He's been the most consistently active. He had an interception in his hands (Sunday) too that got away from him. He's been terrific on the run. He's been a consistent rusher. He's been a tough guy throughout. He made some great plays, remember the goal line a few weeks back. He made some great stops down there against Denver, We love him, gets along with everybody, and just a tough guy and a terrific competitor. He's playing really good ball."
In addition to Nwosu, captains Quandre Diggs and Al Woods have both provided strong play and good leadership, linebacker Jordyn Brooks has once again been a tackling machine, and rookie corner Tariq Woolen has shown a ton of upside (more on him later).
Special Teams MVP: K Jason Myers
If Michael Dickson, who has been his usual great self this year, got a chance to actually punt on Sunday, he might be the winner, but thanks to a strong offense, his opportunities to show off his big leg have been limited this year.
Instead, first-quarter honors go to Jason Myers, who has been nearly perfect this year, making six of seven field goals, including a 56 yarder on Sunday, and all 11 extra points. Even Myers' one miss, which occurred Sunday, appeared to be at least partially the result of a high snap. Myers has also been very good with kickoff placement, kicking deep when needed—standout Falcons returners Cordarrelle Patterson didn't get a single return two weeks ago—or high and short when the Seahawks want to let their outstanding coverage team try to pin opponents deep.
Best Rookie, Offense: OTs Abraham Lucas and Charles Cross
The Seahawks opened their season with two rookies starting at tackle, something that has only happened twice before since the 1970 merger, according to ESPN Stats & Info. And through four games, left tackle Charles Cross and right tackle Abraham Lucas haven't just survived being thrown into action, they've thrived, playing a big role in Seattle's overall offensive success, and in particular in keeping Smith, who has been sacked only six times through four games, upright so he can put up all the aforementioned big numbers. It hasn't been perfect—both have had a couple of costly penalties—but overall, the emergence of Cross and Lucas has been big both for the team's current success and also for team's future.
The Seahawks are hoping that as the season goes along, running back Kenneth Walker III will also be making big contributions. A hernia and subsequent procedure was a bit of a setback and kept Walker from playing in the opener, but in limited touches he has looked very explosive, and it only seems a matter of time before he breaks out.
Best Rookie, Defense: CB Tariq Woolen
A former receiver and a fifth-round pick, Tariq Woolen came to Seattle as an incredibly athletic prospect who most figured would need time to develop into an NFL cornerback. Instead, Woolen won a starting job out of training camp, and has been outstanding early in his rookie season. In addition to being strong in coverage overall—opposing QBs have just a 40.4 passer rating when targeting Woolen this season—he has also shown a ton of big-play ability. In Seattle's Week 2 loss to the 49ers, Woolen used his speed and length to block a field goal that Mike Jackson returned for a touchdown. A week later Woolen recorded his first interception, then in Week 4 he added another pick, this time returning it for a touchdown.
And Woolen hasn't been Seattle's only playmaking rookie on defense. Since taking the nickel role over for an injured Justin Coleman, Coby Bryant has recorded a sack and a forced fumble, while outside linebacker Boye Mafe continues to see his role grow on a weekly basis.
Best Play, Offense: Geno Smith scrambles and hits Will Dissly for the first score of the year
There have been plenty of big plays on offense, including two long touchdown runs by Rashaad Penny last week, but we're giving the edge to Seattle's first touchdown of the season. Smith's scramble and toss to Dissly an impressive play, regardless of the circumstances, but it felt even bigger because it came so early in the opener, giving a first glimpse of what has so far been some outstanding quarterback play from Smith.
Best Play, Defense: Tariq Woolen's pick-six against Detroit
Throughout training camp and into the season, Carroll has marveled at how Woolen uses his speed to chase down receivers from behind and get to balls that other cornerbacks can't, and on Sunday he showed that ability in a game, flashing in front of tight end T.J. Hockenson, who a moment earlier looked to be pretty open, to snag an interception he retuned for a touchdown.
Honorable mention here goes to Seattle's two goal-line stands against Denver that helped preserve that win.
Best play, Special teams: Woolen's FG block and Mike Jackson's return for a TD
It didn't end up being enough to turn the tide, but in a Week 2 game in which the Seahawks needed a spark, Seattle's starting cornerbacks provided them with a play on special teams. Woolen used both his speed and 6-foot-4 frame to come flying off the edge and block a field goal attempt, and Jackson was able to scoop up the loose ball and return it for what wound up being Seattle's only score of the game.
Biggest Reason For Optimism: The Early Returns From The Rookie Class
As we've already highlighted, the Seahawks have gotten a lot of strong play from several members of their 2022 draft class, with Lucas, Cross and Woolen all playing every-down roles, and with Mafe, Bryant and Walker all contributing as well. Those players are helping the Seahawks win games right now, but they also are giving fans a lot to be excited about in the future.
"It's a fantastic class, it really is," Carroll said. "This is a great sign as we move forward. These guys are going to get better. They are going to get better in the next three to four weeks, they are going to make improvements in the next three to four weeks as they go. They put three weeks behind them and they got another one and another one and you just keep adding."
Trend to Continue: Passing Game Efficiency
We covered all the numbers above with Geno Smith, but if the Seahawks can keep playing like that in the passing game, they have a chance to win a lot more games this season presuming the defense makes some of its usual in-season improvements. It isn't just that Smith has been accurate, he has also had great command of the offense—he made several checks and the line of scrimmage to get the Seahawks into successful plays last week—and over the past two games he has been pushing the ball downfield more often with good results.
Add to that a running game that continues to improve, and Seattle's offense looks like it can be a legitimate strength of the team all season long.
Thing to Improve: Big Plays Allowed on Defense
The Seahawks were planning on changes to the coaching staff, scheme and personnel would lead to improvements on defense, and long-term they're still expecting that to happen, but four games into the season there have been some growing pains. There's still a lot of optimism among coaches and players that the defense will get on track—and the Seahawks have shown the ability to improve significantly as the year goes along each of the past two seasons—but for now at least the Seahawks rank 31st in the league both in terms of yards allowed and points given up. And by far the biggest issue when it comes to those defensive struggles has been the way opponents are able to move the ball in big chunks. Take last week's game, for example, with the Lions staying in the game in large part because of an 81-yard catch that set up a score, and a 51-yard touchdown run.
"We have to get better at our stuff, we have to get more consistent because what's happening is that the explosive plays are affecting drives as they always do," Carroll said. "If you have an explosive play, the odds of scoring goes way up. That's the big concern right now. We came out OK on our third-down numbers—we didn't do well on fourth down, we did OK on third down—but the explosive plays are giving them all kind of opportunities that we can't give up. Those are one thing or another, it's not any one thing. It's not the coverage that we are playing, or the style of stuff, or any of that. We just have to execute better and not give up the yardage that we are giving up."
The Seahawks face the Saints for Week 5 of the 2022 season at the Caesars Superdome in New Orleans. Take a look back at photos from the past games between the two teams.