Seahawks floor and ceiling for 2023

The Seattle Seahawks were one of the biggest surprises in 2022, finishing 9-8 and capturing a playoff berth after trading longtime franchise quarterback Russell Wilson. Was it a fluke performance or a sign of things to come? 

Here’s our best guess at the best- and worst-case scenarios for the Seahawks in 2023. 

Ceiling: 11-6

The success or failure of the 2023 Seahawks will come down to two factors. For one, can starting quarterback Geno Smith, a 32-year-old longtime backup, replicate what he did in 2022, when he threw for 4,282 yards and 30 TDs with a 69.8 completion percentage? Last season, Smith clearly outplayed Wilson, who turned in a stinker of a first season with the Broncos.

Last season was also the only time in his career that Smith has played at that elite level, leaving  Seahawks to hope he is the modern version of Rich Gannon, who also blossomed late in his career after bouncing around the league. The Seahawks gave Smith a lot of help by drafting Jaxon Smith-Njigba, the former Ohio State star, to complement D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett in what could be a dynamic wide receiver corps. 

The second factor will be the improvement or regression of a defense that was one of the worst in the NFL in 2022 (23.6 PPG). The Seahawks made two significant draft additions on defense: cornerback Devon Witherspoon (fifth overall pick) and defensive end Derick Hall (37th overall). In free agency, the Seahawks signed linebackers Bobby Wagner — the former Seahawks star — and Devin Bush, who flamed out in Pittsburgh.

Floor: 6-11

The concern for the Seahawks is if Smith reverts to his pre-2022 form and leaves the team with a huge question at quarterback. From 2015-2021, he threw 196 passes total and only nine TD passes and was considered no more than a backup. There is always some risk in expecting a player well into his 30s who had never played at a top level before to repeat that same performance. 

In 2013 and 2014 with the Jets, Smith never had a completion percentage over 60. If he regresses and the Seahawks do not get significant improvement from their defense, the season could turn downward rapidly. 

Seattle has a brutal stretch in Weeks 12-15 when it plays four games — 49ers (twice), Chiefs and Eagles — against teams that had a combined record of 41-10 in the regular season in 2022. Those games could make or break the Seahawks (full schedule analysis here).

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