We need to talk about the Seattle Seahawks.

When everyone else in the NFC West was zigging, Pete Carroll and the Seahawks decided to zag. 

That zag has Seattle in first place in a division where they were the only team to not make the playoffs last year, sitting at 4-3 despite Las Vegas having their preseason win total odds at 5.5.

Outside of the Giants and Jets, the Seahawks have been this year’s biggest surprise. 

So how did they make that happen? Let’s get into it.

A few years ago, the LA Rams decided that the salary cap was imaginary and that future assets were better as current commodities. They dealt off second round picks for Sammy Watkins and Marcus Peters. They turned three first round picks into Brandin Cooks and Jalen Ramsay. 

And finally, they offloaded Jared Goff, their first three picks in this year’s draft, and next year’s first rounder for Matthew Stafford and Von Miller. 

The strategy to mortgage their future for a shot at glory in the present paid off, as Sean McVay got Los Angeles a Super Bowl Ring.

Now, we all know it’s a copycat league. Even before the Rams traded all their picks for Pro Bowl talent, it was clear that the rest of the NFL was obsessed with trying to find young, energetic coaches that either had worked with Sean McVay, or could be considered Dollar Store versions of him. 

But teams in the NFC West went beyond mimicking McVay’s coaching brand… in a league where trades are relatively rare, the 49ers and Cardinals began to engage in an arms race to keep up with the Rams.

In the last three years, Kyle Shanahan and the 49ers gave up picks for Trent Williams, traded off a bunch of assets for the ability to move up and draft Trey Lance, and just sent four picks to the Carolina Panthers in exchange for Christian McCaffrey.

Not to be outdone, the Arizona Cardinals committed felony armed robbery against the Houston Texans when they acquired Deandre Hopkins, and since then, they haven’t been shy about wheeling and dealing to try and shore up weaknesses. They added Pro Bowlers Zach Ertz and Rodney Hudson, and grabbed two more receivers in Hollywood Brown and Robbie Anderson.

Meanwhile, while the rest of the NFC West is out here putting everything on credit, the elder statesman Pete Carroll, who is the oldest coach in the division by 28 years, is holding two middle fingers up to the Millennials and their “instant gratification” by stockpiling assets for the future.

The Seattle Seahawks pulled the plug on the Russell Wilson era during the offseason, and in their trade with the Broncos, added what might be a franchise left tackle in 2022 #9 overall pick Charles Cross, had 10 total picks in the 2022 draft including Kenneth Walker, who looks like a star, and have almost as many picks in the first five rounds of next years’ draft (7) as the other three teams combined (9).

In free agency, the Seahawks didn’t overextend themselves. They rewarded some of the top performers on last year’s team, like Rashaad Penny, Al Woods, and Quandre Diggs, and they improved their pass rush by stealing Uchenna Nwosu from the Chargers. 

And despite wide receivers all over the league using Christian Kirk’s contract to price them out of a spot on their current roster, the Seahawks stood by DK Metcalf and gave him a long term deal. Things like that can go a long way in galvanizing a locker room.

Maybe the most important thing that Pete Carroll and Seattle did was to give an experienced starter that had been serving in a backup role for the last two years a shot at the starting quarterback job. 

Seven weeks into the season, Geno Smith is top-7 in Completions, Yards, and Touchdowns, and he’s having the third-best season in the history of the NFL when it comes to completion percentage. And if you think that it’s because Pete Carroll scaled way back on pass attempts since trading Russell Wilson to Denver, you’d be wrong. The Seahawks are actually airing it out more- they’re just not addicted to the deep ball. 

It remains to be seen if Seattle will be able to keep up their early season momentum. Injuries are piling up, and a look at their remaining schedule reveals two games left against the Super Bowl champion Rams, a trip to Kansas City, and games against the other two teams I mentioned earlier on- the Giants and Jets. If they can manage to play .500 football the rest of the way, they’ll shock the NFC by stealing a playoff spot, and potentially be in play for first place in an NFC West division that has sent a representative to the Super Bowl six out of the last 10 seasons. 

And even if they fall off, they’ll be sitting on the most draft picks while having more cap space in 2023 than the Rams, 49ers and Cardinals combined.

Let that sink in.

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