The Seahawks' 2019 season ended in the divisional round of the playoffs with a loss in Green Bay earlier this month. It was a disappointing finish to a memorable season that saw the Seahawks go 11-5, miss out on an NFC West title by a manner of inches, then win a road playoff game to advance to the divisional round of the playoffs for the seventh time in 10 seasons under Pete Carroll and John Schneider. But despite not reaching the ultimate goal, the Seahawks came out of the 2019 season proud of what they accomplished and excited about this team's future.
"And I'm so proud of this team," Carroll said after Seattle’s playoff loss in Green Bay. "I mean, this is this team. The fans that follow us and watch us, they know. You've seen us. And I hope at home that as it started happening you could imagine it happening again because we surely did, and I hope that it conveyed to the people that follow us, the 12s and the great following that we have, this I think is the start of this team, and I think this is—it feels like 2012 all over again… This was so similar. I mean, there was not a guy on that sideline that we were connected to that thought we weren't going to win that football game, all the way until we didn't. That is what this thing has felt like the whole time, the whole year, and it's an amazing chemistry, and it's an amazing group, and the leadership and Bobby and K.J. and Russ and Duane Brown, who did an unbelievable thing today to play in this football game. I don't know how he did it. He got operated on three weeks ago. Just the kind of stuff that these guys are made of. So I'm really proud to be a part of it, and I know that they're proud of each other and proud, as well."
With the season now in the rearview mirror, it's time to look back at some of the players, plays and moments that stood out in 2019.
Disclaimer: These honors are the opinions of Seahawks.com, and not official team-issued awards.
Offensive MVP: Quarterback Russell Wilson
Wilson spent much of the 2019 season as a leading candidate for league MVP honors, so he's the pretty easy choice for team honors as well.
Wilson's two playoff games in which he threw for 602 yards while also rushing for a team-leading 109 yards were the perfect illustration of how important he is to the offense, and his 16-game regular-season body of work was also incredibly impressive.
Wilson, who Pro Football Focus named its league MVP for 2019, helped lead the Seahawks to five fourth-quarter comeback wins in 2019 and was a huge reason why the Seahawks were 10-2 in one-score games.
In addition to being clutch late in games and providing leadership as a captain and the team's Steve Largent Award winner, Wilson had one of his best overall seasons from a statistical standpoint, passing for the second most yards in his career (4,110), posting his second-best completion percentage (66.1) and his third-best passer rating (106.3). Wilson's 31 touchdown passes ranked third in the NFL, and 2019 marked the fourth time in five seasons that Wilson has passed for more than 30 touchdowns. Wilson, who earned All-Pro honors for the first time in his career, also posted a career-low five interceptions.
Also worth noting are running back Chris Carson, who rushed for 1,230 yards and seven touchdowns, and caught 37 passes for 266 yards and two more scores; as well as receivers Tyler Lockett, who had career highs with 82 catches for 1,057 yards, and DK Metcalf, who with 58 catches for 900 yards had the second most prolific season by a rookie receiver in franchise history.
Defensive MVP: Linebacker Bobby Wagner
The epitome of consistency, Bobby Wagner earned first-team All-Pro honors for the fifth time in the last six seasons, the most first-team honors in franchise history. Wagner is also the first player in team history to be named first-team All-Pro in four straight seasons.
"He has played sensational football," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. "He has done everything we've asked him to do. He's consistent as anyone could ever be. He's been tough throughout and he's leading the whole crew."
Wagner, the team's 2019 nominee for the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award, led the NFL with 159 tackles, the second-highest total of his career. Wagner, who has more than 100 tackles in each of his eight NFL seasons, also became the Seahawks' all-time leading tackler early in the season.
Other defensive standouts in 2019 included cornerback Shaquill Griffin, who will play in his first Pro Bowl on Sunday, linebacker K.J. Wright, defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, and safety Quandre Diggs, a midseason trade acquisition.
Special Teams MVPs: Ugo Amadi & Nick Bellore
Amadi, a rookie defensive back out of Oregon, won the nickel corner job late in the season, giving him a significant role on defense, but while took him some time to make his mark there, Amadi was a mainstay on special teams all year long, recording a team-high 10 special teams tackles. Amadi was especially effective as a gunner on special teams, not just making tackles in punt coverage, by also downing several Michael Dickson punts near the goal line.
Bellore, a veteran fullback who signed with the Seahawks last offseason, tied for second on the team with seven special teams tackles, but more valuable than his production was the leadership Bellore provided to a special teams unit that relied heavily on rookies such as Amadi, Marquise Blair, Ben Burr-Kirven and Cody Barton.
Also worth noting is the play of Dickson, who early in the season wasn't quite able to live up to his phenomenal rookie season in which he earned All-Pro and Pro Bowl honors, but who finished the year very strong. Dickson tied Jon Ryan and Jeff Feagles for the team record for punts downed inside the 20-yard line with 34, and did so on 74 punts, 10 fewer total punts than Feagles and 21 fewer than Ryan when they set and matched that record.
Best Rookie: Receiver DK Metcalf
The Seahawks got a number of contributions from rookies on special teams, and Blair showed a lot of promise in limited playing time at safety, but no rookie contributed more throughout the season than Metcalf, whose 58 catches and 900 receiving yards were the second most by a rookie pass catcher in franchise history, trailing only Joey Galloway's 1995 season.
Metcalf backed up that standout regular season with a phenomenal game in the wild card round of the playoffs, catching seven passes for 160 yards, including a 53-yard touchdown. That receiving yardage total set a franchise postseason record, and was also the highest postseason total by a rookie in league history.
Best Newcomer: Defensive End Jadeveon Clowney
Clowney, who arrived in a trade with Houston just before the start of the season, recorded 3.0 sacks, seven tackles for loss and a team-high 13 quarterback hits, but his numbers don't begin to tell the story of what he meant to the defense. In addition to scoring a pair of touchdowns, Clowney was a force play-in and play-out despite near constant double teams, and helped create opportunities for his teammates.
Clowney also battled through a core injury since Week 10 that will require offseason surgery, playing through considerable pain so he could be a part of Seattle's playoff run.
Comebacker Player of The Year: Linebacker K.J. Wright
A knee injury limited Wright to just six games, postseason included, in 2018, and he went into free agency last year thinking his time in Seattle might be done. Instead Wright re-signed with the Seahawks and responded with one of the best seasons of his career, recording career-bests in tackles (132), interceptions (3) and passes defensed (11). And most importantly after missing so much time last year, Wright started all 18 games.
"I had a mindset coming into his year like it was my redemption tour," Wright said heading into the playoffs. "I had to prove to myself, prove to everyone who doubted me that I'm still a hell of a football player and I'm going to come out and have an awesome season. It took a lot of help from coaches, training staff, they had a great plan put around me so I could get here and just ball out."
Early in the season it looked like tight end Will Dissly, whose rookie season was cut short by a patellar tendon injury, was an ideal candidate for comeback player of the year, but unfortunately his 2019 campaign ended in Week 5 due to an Achilles injury. Here's hoping we're putting Dissly's name in this spot next year after a healthy 2020.
Best In-Season Acquisition: Safety Quandre Diggs
The Seahawks added Diggs in a midseason trade, then had to wait a bit to get him on the field due to a hamstring injury he brought with him from Detroit. But once Diggs did enter the starting lineup, he proved to be an impact player right away.
In his first four games, Diggs recorded three interceptions, one of which he returned for a touchdown, and forced a fumble that he recovered. Carroll also credited Diggs with helping settle down the entire defense and helping others play better. And in good news for the future, Diggs, who just turned 27, came to Seattle a year after signing a multi-year contract extension, meaning he'll be a part of Seattle's future.
Unsung Hero: Center Joey Hunt
A 2016 sixth-round pick, Hunt had a fairly quiet NFL career before this season, starting three games in three seasons and spending 2017 on the practice squad. But when Justin Britt went down with a knee injury midway through the season, Hunt took over at center and started the final 10 games, playoffs included. Hunt constantly earned praise from coaches and teammates for his play and in particular for his football smarts, and the offense continued to function at a high level even with one of its top linemen on injured reserve.
Then after the season ended it was revealed that Hunt, who had been listed on the injury report for several weeks with a fibula injury, had a stress fracture in his leg but continued to play through it. With Ethan Pocic missing most of the year due to injuries, Hunt's ability to hold things down at center—and to play through a stress fracture—was huge for Seattle's offense.
Most Improved: Defensive End Rasheem Green
Green, a 2018 third-round pick, had a quiet rookie year, in part because of injury and in part because it just took him a while to find his way. In 2019, however, Green started to show what the Seahawks liked so much about him coming out of USC, recording a team-high 4.0 sacks while also forcing three fumbles, recovering one, and blocking two kicks on special teams.
The Seahawks are hoping Green's second season can be the blueprint for 2019 first-round pick L.J. Collier, who played sparingly as a rookie after missing the preseason due to an ankle injury.
"I hope—I already talked to him about it—that (Collier) can make the kind of jump that Rasheem made from year one to year two. I thought Rasheem had a terrific season this year to help us out and start to get his career rolling. Hopefully L.J. will make the same kind of advance."
Unexpected breakout season: Tight end Jacob Hollister
Hollister, who was acquired in a trade before the season, didn't make the initial 53-man roster and spent the first five weeks of the season on the practice squad.
Injuries at tight end—most notably Dissly's season-ending injury—led to Hollister getting promoted to the active roster, and responded in a big way, catching 41 passes for 349 yards and three touchdowns, including the game-winner in Seattle's overtime win over Tampa Bay. Despite spending five weeks on the practice squad, Hollister finished third on the team behind Lockett and Metcalf in both receptions and receiving yards.
Best Play, Offense: Russell Wilson to Tyler Lockett for an (almost) impossible touchdown vs. the Rams.
Go ahead, watch the play again. Even three months later, it still doesn't make sense how Wilson and Lockett made this play happen, other than to acknowledge that they're two of the very best at what they do.
Whether it's Wilson's ability to buy time with this legs, or the absurd throw he made running to his left, or Lockett's ridiculous toe-dragging catch in the back of the end zone, there's so much to love about this play that helped the Seahawks to a Week 5 win over the Rams.
Best Play, Defense: Jarran Reed & Jadeveon Clowney team up for a defensive score against the 49ers.
Clowney's one-handed pick-6 against the Cardinals early in the season might have been the most impressive individual play by a Seahawks defender in 2019, but we'll give the nod to his other touchdown, a fumble return of a Jarran Reed sack/forced fumble in Seattle's Week 10 win at San Francisco. That play started due to a great combination pass rush by Reed and Poona Ford that confused the 49ers' interior protection, and Clowney finished things off for a score late in the first half that helped shift the momentum in one of Seattle's most impressive wins of the season.
That play was just part of a dominant day for Clowney, who was named NFC Defensive Player of the Week for his performance in the game.
Best unexpected late-season development to arise from a bad situation: The return of Beast Mode.
The Seahawks lost both Chris Carson and C.J. Prosise to season-ending injuries in Week 16, and by then Rashaad Penny was already on injured reserve, so things were looking pretty bleak at running back.
While those injuries were unambiguously bad news for Seattle's offense, the silver lining that emerged was the return of Marshawn Lynch, who prior to Week 17 hadn't put on a Seahawks uniform since the end of the 2015 season.
In a limited role—the 33-year-old Lynch hadn't played since October of 2018—Lynch didn't light up the world with his numbers, but he did provide some memorable moments by scoring four touchdowns in three games, including a Week 17 touchdown-plunge that caused Skittles to rain down on the CenturyLink Field turf for the first time in four years.
Lynch was also a positive presence in the locker room, helping mentor young players, and rookie running back Travis Homer in particular.
"For Marshawn to come back, it meant a lot to us," Wilson said after Seattle’s playoff loss in Green Bay. "What Marshawn was able to do, to be able to talk to the young guys like Homer, to lift him up and inspire him, to be able to just step in with great leadership and great focus, and a lot of fun too. He did some special things. It was a lot of fun playing with 24 again."
Trends to continue in 2020: Turnover differential, overall offensive efficiency & road success.
Thanks in no small part to the aforementioned season had by Russell Wilson, the Seahawks had a very good offensive season, ranking in the top 10 in total offense, rushing offense and scoring. Great quarterback play and a strong running game helped the Seahawks have the NFL's fifth-best offense according to Football Outsider’s DVOA, an efficiency measure that compares success on every single play to a league average based on situation and opponent.
Another big part of the Seahawks' success, as has almost always been the case under Carroll, was their ability to win the turnover battle. After leading the NFL in turnover differential in 2018, the Seahawks finished plus-12 in 2019, tied for the third best mark in the league. Given Wilson's ability to protect the ball, the Seahawks could have been even better in turnover differential if not for an abnormally high number of fumbles in 2019, with Seattle losing 14 fumbles, tied for third most in the NFL.
Finally, the Seahawks would love to play on the road in 2020 like they did in 2019. The Seahawks went a franchise-best 7-1 on the road during the regular season, including a 5-0 record when traveling east to play in games that kicked off at 10 a.m. PT, then they continued that with a wild card win in Philadelphia.
Things to clean up in 2020: Defensive inconsistency & struggles at home.
The Seahawks defense showed it could play at a very high level on a few different occasions over the course of the season, particularly when the pass rush was on, and their 32 takeaways were the third most in the NFL, so there were definitely some positives about the play of the defense. But over the course of the season, the overall numbers weren't up to par for a Carroll-led defense, with the Seahawks ranking 26th in total defense and 22nd in scoring defense. One issue in particular that Carroll pointed to after the season was the number of big plays Seattle allowed, giving up 130 explosive plays (runs of 12 or more yards and passes of 16 or more), the most allowed by the Seahawks in the Carroll/Schneider era.
"We were not consistent," Carroll said. "Too many explosive plays of various natures. For the most part, we had problems on the edge. We had containment issues. We found that the offenses really put the ball on the perimeter against us a lot. That does challenge us in some ways. You'll see some things be adjusted in the course of the offseason for that. Just the style of offense that we were up against was a little bit different than it's been."
And for as good as the Seahawks were on the road, as mentioned above, they couldn't capture their usual home-field dominance, going just 4-4 at CenturyLink Field. If the Seahawks can get back to winning at home regularly in 2020 and remain strong on the road, that could make the difference between traveling in the playoffs and getting a home game or even a bye.
Photos from the second day of the NFC team practice at the 2020 Pro Bowl in Orlando, Fla., where the Seahawks coaching staff, quarterback Russell Wilson, and cornerback Shaquill Griffin are representing the Seattle Seahawks.