And away we go with the 46th season in Seahawks history.
It’s the continuation of a journey that started exactly 45 years ago — Sept. 12, 1976.
And who could have imagined all that would follow on that bicentennial year day when Seattle hosted a team that has long since changed locations (the St. Louis Cardinals) in a stadium that no longer exists (the Kingdome) and took an opponent that would go on to win 10 games down to the final play in a 30-24 defeat?
Will this be another season to remember (I think we could all use another 2013 right about now)? Or one to forget (and take heart — there’s almost no way anything could ever be as bad as 1992)?
The story begins to unfold at 10 a.m. Sunday against the Colts in Indianapolis.
Here’s a closer look at Seattle’s season opener.
Matchup to watch
Seahawks front seven vs. Indy’s running game.
The Colts have some injury issues at receiver (T.Y. Hilton is on injured reserve), and it’s unclear exactly how healthy quarterback Carson Wentz will be and whether his recent foot surgery might curtail some of his usual mobility. That means the Colts might lean more on their ground game, featuring two players with 1,000-yard seasons under their belts (Jonathan Taylor with 1,169 last year as a rookie and Marlon Mack with 1,091 in 2019). Nyheim Hines also is a threat both running and receiving, capping a trio that Pro Football Focus recently rated as the second-best running back corps in the NFL heading into the season. It’ll be a stern test for Seattle’s remade linebacking group right off the bat. And it might mean a lot of snaps for veteran tackle Al Woods, signed in March to replace Jarran Reed.
Player to watch
Seattle QB Russell Wilson.
True, when isn’t Wilson a player to watch? But given the offseason Wilson-inspired kerfuffle, the change in offensive coordinators even after a year when Wilson threw a career-high 40 touchdowns, and the national speculation about his long-term future, Wilson’s every move — and Seattle’s every play call — figures to be scrutinized more than ever. A hot start for Wilson and the Seattle offense would be much welcomed in the upper-level offices of the VMAC.
Coaching decision to watch
Just how much up-tempo offense the Seahawks use.
The first thing almost every Seahawk mentions when asked how the offense might differ under new coordinator Shane Waldron is a faster tempo. That includes use of the no-huddle, which gives more freedom to Wilson to call the offense, and simply working more quickly overall. Wilson has often been at his best when the Seahawks go up-tempo. But that’s usually been in small doses and in end-of-game or other unique circumstances. One big question is how committed Pete Carroll will be to it when the offense lulls, which is inevitable during the course of a 17-game season.
10 a.m. starts.
But this might not be an X-factor in the way that you think. Where Seahawks fans once tuned into early games with dread, Seattle has long since turned that trend around. Seattle is 19-7 in its past 26 10 a.m. Pacific time starts and has won 11 of the last 12 since 2018. That includes a 3-1 mark last year, with wins at Atlanta, Miami and Washington and a loss at Buffalo. It almost makes you wish they had more than two 10 a.m. starts this year, the other coming in December at Houston.
Player who could surprise
Tight end Gerald Everett.
OK so maybe a player making $6 million this season — the most of any outside free agent signed by the team in the offseason — isn’t really one whose contribution should be considered a surprise. But since he played just 12 snaps in the preseason, exactly how the team plans to use him remains an unknown. Everett has a skill set that will allow him to be split out often if the Seahawks want, with Will Dissly likely to get more of the snaps as the inline tight end. Seattle could also use Everett as an H-back.
That’s Seattle’s road record since 2013. And while much is rightfully made of Seattle’s success at home, the Seahawks have been almost as good on the road in recent years. Seattle’s 63.3% road-win rate is second in the NFL the past eight years only to Kansas City, which is 44-20, 68.8%. Of Seattle’s seven most successful seasons on the road, six have come since 2013. Seattle also is 12-4 on the road the past two years, better than Seattle’s 11-5 home record in that time. The Seahawks should feel right at home Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium.
The Final Word
Seahawks 24, Colts 20.
Nothing figures to come easy against a Colts team that went 11-5 in 2020 and features a stout running game and dangerous players on the defensive front in tackle DeForest Buckner and weakside linebacker Darius Leonard. But Seattle has the edge at the most important position — quarterback — especially with it unclear just how healthy Wentz is.