The Seattle Seahawks 31-21 win over the Arizona Cardinals put them in the driver’s seat of one of the most frustrating divisions in the NFL to break down. After trading Russell Wilson away to the Denver Broncos for a bushel of draft picks, it was easy to surmise that the Seahawks were waiting to truly compete until next year.
The Seattle Seahawks Handled the Offseason Perfectly
But the Seahawks were smart – and perhaps lucky – in their offseason acquisition strategy, trading for Drew Lock and re-signing Geno Smith to the roster and holding a genuinely open competition, reminiscent of the open competition in 2012 between rookie third-round pick Russell Wilson and highly-paid free agent Matt Flynn.
They also pulled in an all-time draft class, one that could compete with the Saints 2017 class or the Vikings 2015 class in terms of impact and well-roundedness. Running back Kenneth Walker is competing with Houston running back Dameon Pierce for Offensive Rookie of the Year, and Seattle just saw an outstanding performance from cornerback Coby Bryant. Opposite Bryant is Tariq Woolen, who just brought home the Defensive Rookie of the Month award for October, complementing Walker’s offensive recognition for the same month.
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That’s nothing to say of the starting pair of offensive tackles, first-round pick Charles Cross and third-round pick Abraham Lucas, both of whom are already playing at an above-average level for the position. Throw in the occasional flash from second-round pick Boye Mafe, and you have the makings of a franchise-defining class.
With the development of young players like Uchenna Nwosu and Jordyn Brooks, Seattle seems set for years to come, especially if they can get more out of players like Dee Eskridge, Darrell Taylor, and Colby Parkinson – they’re already getting more out of cornerback Mike Jackson.
The Seahawks Are in the Driver’s Seat
That was on display against the Cardinals, a team constantly hoping to get over the hump and turn their exciting quarterback into more than a .500 season in the NFL standings. Arizona has their own corps of dynamic players, with DeAndre Hopkins, JJ Watt, Budda Baker, and Zaven Collins all featuring as stars or soon-to-be stars throughout the season.
It wasn’t a dominant showing by Seattle, and they were nearly down at halftime were it not for a 15-second possession sparked by a Ryan Neal forced fumble, but they have a better core squad and were able to dig themselves out of the hole to emerge with a double-digit lead by the end of the game, able to shut down the more obvious tendencies of the Cardinals passing game and capable of running through the center of their defense with Walker.
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They’re now a game and a half ahead of the 49ers in the division, an important lead given that the 49ers currently hold the tiebreaker over them. That could change in Week 15 when the Seahawks and 49ers play each other again, this time in Seattle.
The Cardinals Are Stuck With Many Questions
As for the Cardinals, there are a lot of questions to ask about Kliff Kingsbury’s viability as a head coach or even Kyler Murray’s status as a franchise quarterback. The Cardinals had no issue jumping out to a lead but had trouble sustaining it. By the end of the game, the return of Hopkins to the roster meant little; he was held to just 36 receiving yards, and Murray was forced to distribute the ball elsewhere.
Murray also happened to be the Cardinals’ rushing offense, leading his team in rushing yards with 60 on eight attempts. They did get some fantastic individual plays from players like Collins, Isaiah Simmons, and Baker, but they couldn’t corral all that talent into consistently competitive play – an issue they’ve had all season with or without Hopkins.
The Cardinals are dead in the water while the Seahawks are on a four-game winning streak, led not just by unlikely quarterback Geno Smith but by an incredible draft class that should let them remain competitive for years. This game was a perfect example of the opposite direction these franchises seem to be headed in.