Continuing our series of offseason opponent breakdowns following the 2022 schedule release, theRams.com examines Los Angeles' Week 13 home opponent and Week 18 road opponent, the Seattle Seahawks (Week 13 – Dec. 4, 1:05 p.m. PT, FOX; Week 18 – Jan. 7/8, kickoff time and network still TBD).
The Seahawks opened the first four weeks of the season going 2-2. Then everything changed in Week 5.
Facing the Los Angeles Rams at home, Seattle saw quarterback Russell Wilson sustain a finger injury that would require surgery and sideline him for the next three games. In that same game, running back Chris Carson – the Seahawks' leading rusher each of the previous three seasons – suffered a neck injury that would require surgery and ultimately sidelined him for the rest of the season.
Seattle fell to L.A. 26-17, the first of three straight losses before rebounding with a 31-7 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars for a 3-5 record at their Week 9 bye. However, the struggles would continue, with another three-game losing streak coming out of the bye week. That 3-8 record was ultimately too much to overcome, and the Seahawks would finish 7-10 overall.
If there was one bright spot to the season, it was the late emergence of running back and 2018 first-round pick Rashaad Penny. The San Diego State product eventually took advantage of Carson's absence and broke out with 16 carries for 137 yards and two rushing touchdowns against the Texans in Week 14. Overall, he amassed 671 of his 749 rushing yards and all six of his rushing touchdowns on the season across the final five weeks of the season.
The two biggest were moving on from franchise pillars in Wilson and linebacker Bobby Wagner.
On March 12, the Seahawks released Wagner, parting ways with a steady and calming presence in the middle of their defense over the last 10 seasons.
Four days later, Wilson was traded to the Broncos in exchange for tight end Noah Fant, quarterback Drew Lock, defensive end Shelby Harris, 2022 and 2023 first-round picks, 2022 and 2023 second-round picks and a 2022 fifth-round pick.
The coaching staff also underwent adjustments, with longtime defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. and defensive passing game coordinator Andre Curtis and offensive line coach Mike Solari being relieved of their duties. Seattle went internal to find Norton and Solari's replacements, promoting defensive line coach Clint Hurtt and run game coordinator Andy Dickerson respectively. It hired former Vikings defensive backs coach Karl Scott Sean as defensive passing game coordinator and defensive backs coach to replace Curtis.
Meanwhile, the Seahawks brought on Sean Desai, a former longtime member of the Bears defensive coaching staff, as associate head coach-defense.
Pete Carroll enters his 13th season as head coach of the Seahawks, compiling a 119-73-1 regular season record and 10-8 playoff record (won Super Bowl XLVIII) through his first 12 years.
What to watch for
Whoever succeeds Wilson at quarterback, and a new defensive philosophy
Will it be Lock or returnee Geno Smith?
Right now, those are the two players competing to be the Seahawks' next starting quarterback.
It's going to be much different from what the Rams defense has been accustomed to preparing for, with Wilson under center for Seattle over the last 10 seasons.
A second-round draft pick in 2019, Lock lost the battle for the Broncos' starting job to Teddy Bridgewater last season and now gets a fresh start heading into the 2022 season, his fourth in the NFL overall. Meanwhile, Smith gets a crack at starting again for the first time since his first and second NFL seasons with the Jets.
Both players can move well in the pocket and are capable of escaping it to make off-schedule plays. Neither have been shy about tucking the ball and running to pick up extra yards – Smith has 158 carries for 701 yards and eight rushing touchdowns through eight seasons, Lock 72 for 285 and five.
One of them will be starting Week 1, but as seen throughout NFL history, that's no guarantee they will also be the starter in Week 13 or Week 18, with performance and health factoring into that.
The Seahawks still have wide receivers DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett in the fold, but it will be a new-look passing attack otherwise with Wilson no longer helming their offense.
On the other side of the ball, the defensive coaching staff changes also coincide with a philosophical shift for that unit that will have the Rams offense preparing for a new Seahawks defensive scheme compared to previous years.