Once more the Seahawks place their trust in the youth and the results appear promising


Once more the Seahawks place their trust in the youth and the results appear promising

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Seattle boasts a 3-1 record as they head into their bye week

Credit By ca.sports.yahoo.com

In the opening quarter of an NFL football matchup on Monday, October 2, 2023, in East Rutherford, New Jersey, New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones (8) faced a sack from Seattle Seahawks cornerback Devon Witherspoon (21). The play was captured by AP photographer Adam Hunger.

RENTON — Pete Carroll has always had a fondness for emerging NFL talents, especially those just embarking on their journeys in the league.

Over a decade ago, the cornerstone of Seattle’s Super Bowl-winning team was laid with young, burgeoning players.

A year ago, it became evident that Carroll and the Seahawks were intent on recreating that blueprint. Following the trade of Russell Wilson to Denver, the NFL’s most senior head coach doubled down on youth.

And thus far, the results have been promising. After a season that saw Seattle finish 9-8 and secure a playoff berth, the team is off to a strong 3-1 start this year. Their roster is now dotted with first- and second-year players who are making substantial contributions.

Despite stumbling in their season opener against the Los Angeles Rams, the Seahawks have rallied with three consecutive victories leading up to their bye week, culminating in a convincing 24-3 triumph over the New York Giants last Monday.

The latest rising star in Seattle’s ranks is none other than rookie Devon Witherspoon, who earned recognition as the NFC’s Defensive Player of the Week for his standout performance during Monday night’s game. With seven tackles, two sacks, and a remarkable 97-yard interception return for a touchdown, Witherspoon’s impact was undeniable.

This is precisely the impact Seattle had envisioned when they selected Witherspoon as the No. 5 overall pick, marking the highest-ever selection for the tandem of head coach Carroll and general manager John Schneider.

He has brought a spark to this defense and exudes confidence. It’s not often you see rookies with that level of self-assuredness,” remarked Seattle safety Julian Love. “He came in, albeit missing the first game due to rehabilitation, and despite a significant chunk of missed camp time, he has already made a positive impact on this defense. This is monumental, and we hope he continues to progress.”

However, Witherspoon is not the sole young talent with a pivotal role on the Seahawks’ roster.

At the onset of the season, Seattle boasted the largest contingent of rookies, with 15 on their 53-man roster, surpassing any other team in the league. Among the current 53 players, 22 are either in their first or second NFL seasons.

While some of this youth infusion is strategic, driven by the undeniable talent of these players, others like running back Kenneth Walker III, edge rusher Boye Mafe, or cornerback Riq Woolen, all part of the 2022 draft class for the Seahawks, have become integral contributors to the team’s success. Seattle still leans on veterans in key positions such as quarterback Geno Smith, linebacker Bobby Wagner, and safety Quandre Diggs, but the substantial contributions from their youthful core are impossible to ignore.

Some of these developments have arisen out of necessity, driven by injuries that have struck crucial positions and compelled these young talents into more prominent roles. For instance, rookie guard Anthony Bradford and rookie center Olu Oluwatimi were suddenly thrust into action during Monday night’s game due to injuries, which left the Seahawks without four of the five offensive linemen who started their season opener.

Regardless of the circumstances, the strategy appears to be yielding positive results. Coach Carroll views the timing of the bye week as an excellent opportunity for reflection.

This is an ideal moment for us,” Carroll explained. “It provides a fresh perspective for our young players, allowing us to revisit their achievements and the progress they’ve made. In my opinion, there’s a great deal of focus on these individuals and their potential contributions as we move forward. I believe this break serves as an excellent checkpoint for us in that respect.”

Among this year’s rookie class in Seattle, Witherspoon’s standout performance against the Giants was the most eye-catching. Running back Zach Charbonnet has been averaging over 5 yards per carry in the last two games, despite receiving limited carries as a complement to Walker’s running style. Edge rusher Derick Hall has been on the field for 35% of the defensive snaps. Bradford and Oluwatimi may only grab attention when something goes amiss, but they play vital roles. Even undrafted wide receiver Jake Bobo left his mark with a touchdown reception in Week 3.

However, one rookie is still eagerly anticipated to deliver a breakout performance—first-rounder Jaxon Smith-Njigba. Initially expected to be the No. 3 option in Seattle’s passing game, Smith-Njigba has accumulated 12 receptions but for a total of just 62 yards, with nine of those catches covering 7 yards or less.

If Seattle can tap into Smith-Njigba’s full potential, the impact of rookie contributions could see a significant upswing.

We’re still in the process of getting to know each other, and it’s a matter of time. There’s no need for him or anyone else to overanalyze it,” Smith emphasized. “He’s an exceptional player, a valuable asset to this offense, and he’s destined to deliver numerous game-changing plays for us. It’s just a matter of when, not if.





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