For the first time since joining the NFL, former all-pro quarterback Russell Wilson finds himself on a new team, and his first game with that new team is against his former team, the Seattle Seahawks on Monday Night Football. This game will also be the first game of new Denver Broncos Head Coach Nathaniel Hackett’s career and the first game under the Walton-Penner ownership group era.
This game is going to be a heated game with fans of both teams hoping to win on Monday. The last time these two teams played was in 2018 and like this year, this will be the game to kick off the season for both teams. The Broncos had pulled off the 27-24 victory at home that year.
Fans should expect the Broncos to pull out the win on Monday. Since trading for Wilson, the Broncos have been eyeing a return to the playoffs and it is very possible the Broncos make it to there for the first time since they won Super Bowl 50. With the Broncos going through massive changes during the offseason which included a new quarterback, coaching staff, and ownership. This will be the first real test for a team with a whole new identity.
Looking back on the 2021 Seattle Seahawks
The Seahawks were known for their four best players, Russell Wilson, Bobby Wagner, Quandre Diggs, and Jamal Adams. Heading into Head Coach Pete Carroll’s 12th season with the Seahawks, they were looking at making the playoffs and possibly improving from their 12-4 record a year prior. With Wilson suffering the first injury of his career and trying to play through it, they would go on to lose to the Los Angles Rams in week 15 and then their following game against the Chicago Bears. Seattle would suffer their first double-digit losing season since 2009. They finished with a record of 7-10.
What exactly went wrong for the Seahawks in the 2021 season? Aside from their franchise quarterback trying to play through an injury, it was their defense that hurt them the most. Through the first five weeks, Seattle ranked dead last in total yards allowed giving up 2,254 yards. At one point, they were on pace to allow the most total yards in NFL history last season.
Listed below is a review of the Seattle Seahawks' recent offseason transactions
Identifying the 2022 Seattle Seahawks
Key additions: OT Charles Cross, OT Abraham Lucas, RB Kenneth Walker III, Edge Boye Mafe, DT Shelby Harris, TE Noah Fant, LB Uchenna Nwosu, DT Al Woods
Key Losses: QB Russell Wilson, LB Bobby Wagner, CB D.J. Reed, TE Gerald Everett, DE Carlos Dunlap, RB Chris Carson
2022 Draft Class: 1st round: (9) OT Charles Cross 2nd Round: (40) LB Boye Mafe, (41) RB Kenneth Walker III, 3rd Round: OT (72) Abraham Lucas, 4th Round: (109) CB Coby Bryant, 5th Round: (153) CB Tariq Woolen, (158) LB Tyreke Smith, 7th Round: (229) WR Bo Melton, (233) WR Dareke Young, Notable UDFAs: S Joey Blount
Note: Tyreke Smith is currently on IR and Bo Melton was cut
Summary: The Seahawks added a lot of players through the draft with all but one making the final 53-man roster. Seattle also added some players to help fill the void in some areas of need on the defense they also had a focus on improving their offensive line in the draft.
Seattle’s cause for concern: The defense
Seattle’s main issue last season was on the defensive side of the ball and losing another all-pro in Bobby Wagner could hurt the defense badly. Coming into the season PFF ranked Seattle’s defensive line at #29th, they will rely heavily on younger players like Mafe, Darrell Taylor, and Alton Robinson.
The secondary will be heavily focused on the duo of Adams and Diggs. Diggs just signed a 4-year extension this offseason after having a really good season and Adams is one of the NFL’s best box safeties. He is a hard hitter and could be used as an extra pass rusher.
The linebacker core will be hurting badly with Wagner leaving for the Rams in free agency, but they are looking towards Jordyn Brooks to have a very good season. He led the NFL last year in tackles with 184 tackles. They will look for the new guys Mafe and Nwosu to be key players in their core of linebackers, but Mafe has yet to play an NFL game yet and Nwosu is an unproven guy as he did not see the field a lot in his four years for the Chargers.
As mentioned, the Seahawks' defense was on pace to have allowed the most total yards in a season in NFL history. Here’s to hoping they trend that way right out of the gates in Week 1.
Tanner’s three keys to victory
1. Let Russ Cook.
Russell Wilson is known around the league for his athleticism and his deep ball. Wilson is widely accepted as a top 10 quarterback in the NFL. He currently holds the second most wins all-time by a quarterback in their first 10 seasons and the second most touchdowns in the first 10 seasons by a quarterback with 292 touchdowns. Another Broncos legend in Peyton Manning leads both all-time with 105 wins and 306 touchdowns. What the Broncos need to do is let Wilson do his thing against his old team. Since Wilson is fully healthy now we can expect great things from him.
2. Stop the Seahawks' weapons.
Last season Carson and Rashaad Penny were a very talented running back duo with both of them combining to rush for 2,074 yards and 18 touchdowns last year. They lost Carson this year, but brought in a running back who is as talented if not even more talented in Walker. He is a very fast and elusive player and could cause an issue for the Broncos' run defense.
In the passing game, Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf combined for 236 targets, almost 50% of all targets. The Broncos’ secondary will have their hands full with both of them and in order to win the Broncos will have to figure out a way to slow them both down. We can expect starting quarterback Geno Smith to target them early and often. Another guy to not forget about will be tight end and former Bronco, Noah Fant. If Metcalf and Lockett are covered, then Fant will most likely be the third option to be targeted in that offense.
3. Be the bully.
Games are won and lost in the trenches. The offensive line is going to have to be the aggressor against the Seahawks' young pass rushers, last year the offensive line gave up 40 sacks while having to deal with injuries and poor performances. This year I believe they will do a lot better. On the flip side on defense, the Broncos’ pass rush will have to be the bullies. Like their defensive line, Seattle’s offensive line is young and inexperienced. They also aren’t very good outside of Cross and Lucas. This is the first full season without star pass rusher Von Miller for the Broncos. It will be up to Bradley Chubb, Randy Gregory, Nik Bonitto, and Baron Browning to pick up the slack. Smith should not have time to sit in the pocket and wait for a guy to get open downfield. The Broncos will have to get into the backfield and bully the offensive line to get to Smith.
What their coaches are saying
“I do have as much information as you can have. I’ve probably never known a player any closer than knowing Russ, his quarterbacking, and his playing and his mentality and all of that. He knows me, too. He knows us. So, we’ll see what happens.” -Pete Carroll Seattle Seahawks Head Coach, on how he will approach the week
“I thought it was awesome,” -Pete Carroll Seattle Seahawks Head Coach, on playing Russell Wilson in week one
What our coaches are saying
“It’s a really interesting game to put right there on Monday night, but I’m glad we’re doing it early. That was going to happen at some point in the season, so let’s attack it. Let’s all get into it and rally around the Broncos, and let’s get ready to go in there in a hostile environment and have a good game.” -Nathaniel Hackett, Broncos Head Coach on week one
“I mean, to open up at Seattle is a great opportunity for our team to test us early. It was really cool just to see it and know that hey, this is the first year in this role.” -Nathaniel Hackett, Denver Broncos Head Coach, on how exciting primetime games are
Tanner’s prediction for Monday Night
I think that the Broncos will get off to a slow start since most of the starters have not played a game since last January, and the rust will show with some mistakes. With the first official game for the rookie head coach Hackett, it may take a while before he finds his groove, but I think that by the second half it will all be fine with the Broncos dominating late. The game should be an exciting one to watch.
I am going to predict a Broncos’ win on Monday Night Football.
Denver 31, Seattle 17.