The Seahawks not only showed life Sunday in L.A., but they also stayed alive in the NFC West and the playoff hunt in the NFC with their 27-23 win over the Rams.
Did Geno Smith again show that he should be the quarterback of the present and the future? And is Seattle’s running back position now a concern?
Seattle Times beat writers Bob Condotta and Adam Jude address those questions and more in this week’s Four Downs.
1. Is there any doubt now that the Seahawks should sign Geno Smith to a contract extension? What’s the hold up in those negotiations?
Jude: The Seahawks should give Geno whatever he wants. Sign him today. Right now. Get it done. Don’t waste another minute wondering if his breakthrough is real. It’s real, all right, and every day the Seahawks delay increases the chances of him leaving in free agency after the season. The Seahawks are gambling when they don’t need to. Their wait-and-see inclination was understandable two months ago. They wanted more proof before committing a massive extension to Geno. Well, what more could they want now? Why take the risk that another team could swoop in and woo him away in the offseason? A new deal makes sense, and a three-year, $100 million extension feels like a win-win.
Condotta: Sunday was Smith’s signature moment, and at this point, it’s hard to argue that the team shouldn’t give him whatever he wants. And what a revelation he has been! Did Pete Carroll know how to handle a quarterback all along? Or was Smith really just a hidden gem for all those years? That said, the Seahawks will likely wait until the offseason to approach Smith about an extension — assuming they stick with their usual timeline for contracts. But yes, as Adam said, at this point, give Smith whatever he wants. He turned 32 in October, so age is not really an issue — not with the way Smith plays, with careful running and precision passing. Go ahead and open the checkbook.
2. How concerning are the Seahawks’ running back injuries?
Jude: With Nick Bellore around, why would anyone worry? We kid, we kid. With all due respect to Bellore — the emergency running back/fullback/linebacker/do-it-all-special teams captain — the Seahawks probably aren’t making the playoffs if he’s their best option in the backfield in December. Pete Carroll did make it sound like Kenneth Walker III’s foot/ankle injury won’t be a long-term issue, but it’s unclear if he might miss a game or two — which could prove critical for a Seahawks team that will play three (current) playoff teams in the 49ers, Chiefs and Jets down the stretch.
Condotta: Carroll said Monday that Walker’s ankle injury is not one that could imperil his season and that he could play Sunday against Carolina. So, assuming that’s true, maybe the Seahawks will be OK with their running backs. That said, this is a team that needs its running backs to survive, and with injury issues to Walker, DeeJay Dallas (who dealt with an ankle injury throughout the game) and Travis Homer (who was out with knee/illness issues), the Seahawks might need to at least look at the waiver wire. That said, maybe it’s time for Seattle to elevate Darwin Thompson — who played 11 snaps in Kansas City’s Super Bowl win over the 49ers in 2019 — off the practice squad for a game or two.
3. The run defense struggled again against the Rams. Is there any hope for a turnaround there?
Jude: The Seahawks’ run defense remains a serious issue. Sure, the Rams had to use a lot of trickery and misdirection to run for 171 yards Sunday — their season high — but the Seahawks still weren’t able to stop the run, even late in the game. It’s a problem, and one opponents have clearly identified. At this point, it’s fair to wonder how the heck the Seahawks are going to slow down Christian McCaffrey and the 49ers run game in a pivotal Thursday night showdown next week.
Condotta: So, yes, the run defense is again a real issue. Seattle has now allowed 161, 283 and 171 yards on the ground the last three games. And as noted, only Smith’s heroics prevented Sunday’s game from being one of the more disappointing losses in recent team history — with the run defense at the top of the list for the reasons why. The Seahawks now rank 31st in the NFL in run defense at 155.3 yards per game, ahead of only Houston at 169.1, and are allowing 4.9 yards per rush, 28th in the NFL, and more than a yard per carry more than the 3.8 that Seattle allowed last year when the Seahawks ranked second in the NFL. While it might feel hard to figure out what is the issue with the run defense — is the line not playing well? Is the secondary not holding up its end of the bargain? — the reality is that it feels like a huge stretch for the Seahawks to make much of this season without becoming a lot stingier against the run.
4. Need a prediction: Will the Seahawks make the playoffs?
Jude: It’s not going to be easy. The Seahawks should take care of business against the Carolina Panthers at home Sunday, and they probably need to get to 10 wins to assure a playoff berth. You certainly can’t count the Seahawks out — especially if Smith, DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett continue to play like they did Sunday — and it’s looking more and more like the playoff spot will come down to the final game of the season, with the Rams coming to Seattle on Jan. 8. That, no doubt, could be a lot of fun, and I like the Seahawks’ chances.
Condotta: Yes. Sunday’s win felt huge, improving Seattle’s odds of making the playoffs to 79% via FiveThirtyEight.com. And with Jimmy Garoppolo now out for the season with a foot injury, maybe the NFC West is still in play. The Seahawks are 7-5 and will likely be favored in at least three more games — home games against Carolina, the Jets and the Rams. That would get Seattle to 10 wins if the Seahawks take care of business. And that would almost certainly get the Seahawks in the playoffs. So, yes, call this a prediction that Seattle will still be playing in mid-January.
The opinions expressed in reader comments are those of the author only and do not reflect the opinions of The Seattle Times.