In 2022, tight end Will Dissly recorded career-highs in receptions and receiving yards before suffering a knee-injury to close out the season. After returning to the field without surgery, Dissly reflects on forming a three-headed tight end unit with Noah Fant and Colby Parkinson, overcoming injury and looking ahead to Year 6 in Seattle.
With pick No. 120 in the 2018 draft, Seattle selected the Washington alum to bolster the tight end room with his versatility in blocking and receiving. The Bozeman, Montana native began his University of Washington career as a defensive end, but later switched to the offensive side of the ball, catching 25 passes as an upperclassman. The former Husky commented on his alma mater’s recent departure from the historic Pac-12 Conference, as the college football world goes through major realignment.
"It's interesting," said Dissly. "The college landscape, we knew it was going to change with NIL stuff. Hopefully, there will be some re-branding. I'm kind of sick of guessing what the Big 10 and Big 12 is, like if they could just change their names so I know which one is which. I think it's good, I think the world is getting so much smaller with technology, with the ability to travel faster. I don't see travel being a big problem and giving guys a chance to go out and compete against different players is awesome. Let's go play some big-time games against some big-time teams and go win a Natty for U-Dub."
The 2022 season was Dissly's most productive yet, catching a career-high 34 passes for 349 yards and three touchdowns over 15 games played. A Week 16 knee injury against the Kansas City Chiefs sidelined Dissly towards the end of the 2022 season, but he used the offseason to bounce back while avoiding surgery.
"It was just in the Kansas City game," said Dissly. "I tried to fight through it and realized it wasn't the right thing to do and kind of just shut me down for the rest of the year."
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said after the season that they did not know if Dissly would need surgery or not, but fortunately he was able to avoid that fate and quickly return to full health in time for offseason workouts.
"First minor injury I've had in a while I guess," said Dissly. "It was good. Obviously, I was bummed to not be able to finish out the year last year, but it was a good opportunity for Colby (Parkinson) to step up and get some playing time and Noah (Fant) to do his thing. They picked up the flag and ran with it and I was happy to see that. Happy to be back. I'm feeling good, feeling strong, feeling fast, and making plays again. It's awesome."
In 2022, Seattle's tight end group of Dissly, Noah Fant, Colby Parkinson and Tyler Mabry combined for 110 receptions, 1,164 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns, totals that ranked third, third and fourth, respectively, among tight end groups in the NFL. Primarily known as a blocking tight end coming into the league, Dissly has continued to defy the odds and grow as a pass-catcher, while Parkinson and Fant become better blockers with his assistance. Dissly commented on the trio's 2022 efforts, and improving as a unit going forward.
"We're just going to keep doing what we do," said Dissly. "Shane (Waldron) asked a lot of us and we all have a lot to offer with our own respects. Kind of like I said to the rookies, just go out and make this team better. That's really what we are trying to do, it's not one guy. It's you trying to be your best on that play and go help us get a lot of wins."
Dissly's job isn't just to catch the ball or block on any given play, he's a major orchestrator in Seattle's offense from the huddle through the whistle. Making sure he's in position pre-play is just the start - it's Dissly's job to make sure his teammates are in-position to succeed as well.
"We're asked to do pass pro, we are asked to do run game, were asked to run routes, and help get guys aligned," he said. "I like to think of myself as the secondary quarterback, whatever the pass protection is I know what's going on, and whatever the run game is going on I know what's going on. So, I'm trying to be out there and help fixing, and if there's a problem and I see it I'm going to try and help. We got all the smart guys, Colby (Parkinson) obviously went to Pac-12 Stanford, what are they going to do I don't know. Then Noah (Fant) is right there with a veteran mind, and we can all go out there and help other guys get aligned and play fast."
The 27-year-old comes into his sixth season as one of the longest-tenured Seahawks in the building. In addition to helping those in his position group get adjusted to the pros, he's gotten to watch the growth of his teammates at every position. Dissly discussed the progress 2022 tackle selections Charles Cross and Abraham Lucas have made since arriving in Seattle last offseason.
"I'll say they're a lot more aggressive," said Dissly. "Last year they were kind of letting the game come to them and I kind of was ok with that. Just be in the right spot at the right time and let the game come to you. Now that they know what's going on they can play that much faster, that much more physical and it's really going to translate."
The 9-8 Seahawks finished last season by winning their final-two games and earning an NFC Wild Card appearance. But following a 41-23 loss to division-rival San Francisco 49ers, the Seahawks are back with some major offseason acquisitions and a team hungry to prove itself, and they're preparing for the upcoming season as a team motivated to improve upon last year's results.
"I think we're having a lot of fun," said Dissly. "I think the competitive spirit is back even in walkthrough, guys are getting after it and I think that's a good thing. I think that's what Pete wants this program to be about. It's all about competition, right? So let's not be afraid of it wherever it presents itself."
On Thursday, Seattle kicks off its 2023 preseason schedule against the Minnesota Vikings. After being sidelined for the Seahawks season finale and the playoffs, Dissly is focused on getting himself and his teammates prepared to go to battle and kick off a new year.
"I can't wait," said Dissly. "I can't wait to put it on tape. These guys are ready and we're just excited man. I can't wait."
Dissly continued, stressing the importance of getting his teammates to understand every game counts on their journey to be successful in the league.
"I try to do that here every time," said Dissly. "You're trying to make this team, trying to make this team better, trying to make yourself better, and when you go out in a preseason game you are not just competing to make this team, but you're trying to compete to make any team. So if you're a young guy and you get an opportunity to go out there and make plays, take the most of it and just remember that you put on an NFL uniform today and be proud of yourself."
After half a decade in the league, Dissly continues to evolve as a player and leader. In the pursuit of his first championship, Dissly's devotion to growing not only his game but making his teammates better is evident.
Here is the initial 53-man roster for the 2023 Seahawks.