Projected by most experts to finish in last place in the NFC West and vie for a top-five pick, the Seahawks blew all expectations out of the water in 2022, finishing with a 9-8 record and earning the NFC’s final wild card berth.
Along the way, Seattle received impressive contributions from unsung veterans and upstart rookies alike. Four players, including safety Quandre Diggs and quarterback Geno Smith, earned Pro Bowl recognition, while Ken Walker III and Tariq Woolen both emerged as finalists for Defensive Rookie of the Year honors.
Looking back on a successful season that culminated with a wild card loss to San Francisco, here are my picks for Seahawks MVP, defensive player of the year, and other awards for 2022:
MVP: Geno Smith
2022 Stats: 4,282 passing yards, 30 touchdowns, 69.8 percent completion rate
Coming out of nowhere to earn his first Pro Bowl nod in his 10th NFL season, Smith emerged as a top-10 quarterback replacing Russell Wilson under center. Taking full advantage of his second chance to be a starter in Seattle, he led the league in completion percentage, finished as one of only four players with 30 or more touchdown passes, and ended the season fifth overall in passer rating. Even in advanced metrics, Smith fared well compared to his peers, ranking first in NFL Next Gen’s completion percentage above expectation (CPAE) and deep touchdown passes (13). For good measure, he also ran for 366 yards and a touchdown, providing a spark with his underrated rushing ability. While his performance dipped some in the second half with an uptick in turnovers, that shouldn’t take away from a remarkable breakout season that ended with several franchise single-season records and the Seahawks wouldn’t have come close to sniffing the playoffs without him .
Honorable Mention: Uchenna Nwosu
Offensive Player of the Year: Tyler Lockett
2022 Stats: 84 receptions, 1,033 yards, nine touchdowns
Playing without Wilson for the first time, Lockett didn’t miss a beat catching passes from Smith and posted one of his most impressive seasons yet. Finishing in the top 20 in receptions and receiving yards as well as the top 10 in touchdowns, he caught over 70 percent of his targets and amassed those numbers while dealing with multiple injuries over the course of the year. After missing only one game following surgery to repair a broken bone in his hand, he returned for the final two weeks and capped off another 1,000-yard season with a long touchdown catch to put away the Rams in Week 18, helping the Seahawks make the postseason. In doing so, he joined Steve Largent as only the second receiver in franchise history to hit the century mark four consecutive seasons, illustrating his elite consistency and reliability.
Honorable Mention: DK Metcalf, Ken Walker III
Defensive Player of the Year: Uchenna Nwosu
2022 Stats: 66 tackles, 9.5 sacks, 12 tackles for loss, three forced fumbles
Already one of the best free agent signings made by general manager John Schneider, Nwosu wasted little time endearing himself to the fan base, registering a sack and a forced fumble to help defeat Russell Wilson and the Broncos in the season opener. Seattle’s most consistent pass rusher from the outset, he racked up a career-best 9.5 sacks, 26 quarterback hits, and four swatted passes while also ranking 13th among edge defenders with 62 pressures according to Pro Football Focus. Nwosu also proved himself to be disruptive defending the run, racking up double-digit tackles for loss and finishing the season on an emphatic note with a trio of tackles for loss against the 49ers in the wild card round. A dominant force from day one, he was a clear bright spot for a defense that endured plenty of struggles.
Honorable Mention: Tariq Woolen, Ryan Neal
Lineman of the Year: Damien Lewis
2022 Stats: Three sacks allowed, 19 total pressures allowed, four penalties
The most consistent performer week-to-week for a young offensive line, Lewis rebounded from an injury-plagued sophomore season to turn in a respectable third year in a Seahawks uniform. Finishing with the 11th best grade among 50 qualified guards per Pro Football Focus, he was one of 21 players at the position to allow fewer than 20 quarterback pressures and surrendered a total of three hits on Smith all season long. According to Sports Info Solutions, he had a career-low nine blown blocks in pass protection. While he wasn’t necessarily dominant in the run game, he was easily Seattle’s best lineman in that category, receiving a team-best 66.7 grade from PFF. He also showed improvements in the penalty department, drawing only four flags in 16 starts.
Honorable Mention: Abraham Lucas
Rookie of the Year: Ken Walker III, Tariq Woolen
Walker’s 2022 Stats: 228 carries, 1,050 yards, nine touchdowns
Woolen’s 2022 Stats: 63 tackles, six interceptions, one defensive touchdown, 10 pass breakups
Awards aren’t meant to be shared in the NFL, but with the Seahawks having such a dynamic, impactful rookie class, it’s impossible to pick only one player. Taking over for an injured Rashaad Penny, Walker quickly emerged as one of the most dangerous backfield threats in football, eventually joining Curt Warner as only the second rookie in franchise history to hit 1,000 rushing yards in his first season. Along with being incredibly explosive – he finished fifth in designed runs of 15 or more yards per PFF – the ex-Michigan State star also finished in the top 10 in missed tackles forced and 11th in yards after contact. As for Woolen, while he likely will miss out on Defensive Rookie of the Year due to the presence of Jets rising star Sauce Gardner, he led all cornerbacks with six interceptions as a rookie and produced nine total turnovers. ‘Riq the Freak also blocked a field goal that was returned for a touchdown in a loss to the 49ers, coming through with clutch plays throughout the season.
Honorable Mention: Abraham Lucas, Charles Cross
Specialist of the Year: Jason Myers
2022 Stats: 34-37 field goals, 41-42 extra points
Earning a much-deserved four-year extension, Myers booted 25 consecutive field goals through the uprights from Week 4 to Week 17, making a valiant run at his own franchise record. As accurate as any kicker in the league in 2022, he was especially automatic from long distance, tying Stephen Hauschka’s franchise-high converting on all six of his attempts from 50 yards or more. He also overcame past issues making extra points while missing only one of his 42 attempts. Ending the season with a bang, he nailed a 56-yard field goal in rainy, windy conditions against the 49ers in the wild card, tying the longest field goal ever made at Levis Stadium in the process.
Honorable Mention: Michael Dickson, Dareke Young
Most Improved: Ryan Neal
2022 Stats: 66 tackles, one interception, one sack, seven pass breakups
After filling in admirably for Jamal Adams in each of the past two seasons, Neal took the next step in his progression towards a legitimate starter after jumping back into the lineup in Week 5. Flying all over the field to make plays against the run and the pass, few defenders in the league were better over the next five weeks, as he amassed 25 tackles, two forced fumbles, three pass breakups, and a sack. Even after missing the final three games of the regular season due to a knee injury, he finished as PFF’s highest-graded safety and led all players at his position in pass breakups. As a sign of respect earned through his efforts, he received 12 points during All-Pro voting earlier this month.
Honorable Mention: Colby Parkinson, Cody Barton
Comeback Player of the Year: Geno Smith
2022 Stats: 4,282 passing yards, 30 touchdowns, 69.8 percent completion rate
While some may argue that this award should be reserved for players coming back from injury, Smith’s unlikely resurgence after seven seasons as a backup can’t be overlooked because of the historical significance. Prior to this season, Rich Gannon of the Raiders was the only quarterback in NFL history to earn his first Pro Bowl nod in the 10th season or later of his career. Now, Smith has joined him in that exclusive club after successfully climbing out of quarterback purgatory. That’s an improbable comeback worth celebrating.
Honorable Mention: Marquise Goodwin
Biggest Surprise: Mike Jackson
2022 Stats: 75 tackles, one interception, 11 pass breakups, one special teams touchdown
Prior to this season, Jackson had bounced around with multiple teams since being selected by the Cowboys in the fifth round of the 2019 NFL Draft, playing a grand total of four games in his first three NFL seasons. But the Seahawks saw something in him late in the 2021 season and after veterans Artie Burns and Sidney Jones suffered injuries in training camp, he seized his opportunity to win the starting left cornerback job across from Woolen. Although there were bumps in the road, his first season as a starter was largely a success. In coverage, he posted double-digit pass breakups and his first career interception, while his run defense was solid most of the year with the exception of a few missed tackles. He also recovered two fumbles in the season opener and provided fireworks returning a blocked kick for a touchdown on special teams the following week.
Honorable Mention: Ryan Neal, Myles Adams
Offensive Play of the Year: Ken Walker III’s 74-Yard Touchdown vs. Chargers
While a number of Geno Smith bombs could have been penciled in for this one, Walker’s long touchdown run to put away the Chargers on the road deserves the honor. After the snap, guard Jake Curhan sealed a defender inside and tight end Will Dissly executed an impressive block off the edge, allowing Walker to rocket towards the sideline. With only one defender left to beat, tight end Colby Parkinson washed cornerback Asante Samuel Jr. out to the sideline, creating the crease necessary for the back to turn on the jets and put the dagger in the opponent midway through the fourth quarter in one of Seattle’s most impressive victories.
Honorable Mention: Either one of Geno Smith’s long touchdown passes to Tyler Lockett against the Saints in Week 5.
Defensive Play of the Year: Pair of Goal Line Fumbles Forced vs. Broncos
Helping send Wilson back to the Mile High City with a loss in his Broncos debut, the Seahawks came up with two critical turnovers in the shadow of their own goal post in the second half to hang on for a one-point win. In the first instance, safety Quandre Diggs and linebacker Uchenna Nwosu teamed up to force a fumble by running back Melvin Gordon and cornerback Mike Jackson recovered it in the end zone for a touchback. Later in the half, in a near-identical situation, Nwosu shot into the backfield and punched the ball out of Javonte Williams’ hands and Jackson recovered the fumble, again turning Denver away with no points to the delight of the Lumen Field crowd. Two legendary goal line stops in the opener stand head and shoulders above any other highlights made by the defense over the final 16 games.
Honorable Mention: Tariq Woolen’s pick six against the Lions in Week 4
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