While Schneider refreshed the team’s roster, the second-year offensive coordinator Shane Waldron overhauled the Seahawks’ playbook. No longer obligated to tailor game plans around Wilson’s strengths, weaknesses and preferences, Waldron designed an unpredictable offense built around unorthodox formations. The Seahawks sometimes deploy three tight ends at the same time or align three teammates with Smith in a “diamond” backfield.
Such formations provide extra blocking on running plays and confound the opponent’s coverage schemes, setting up big-play opportunities for the team’s only remaining veteran stars: receivers Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf.
Smith, 32, an uncontested starter for the first time since his tumultuous tenure with the Jets ended in 2014, has been accurate and decisive in Waldron’s system. Smith leads the league in completion percentage (72.7), ranks third with a 107.2 efficiency rating, and is tied for fifth with 13 passing touchdowns.
The resourceful, still-elusive Smith may be on pace to join Brad Johnson, Rich Gannon, Jeff Hostetler and a handful of other quarterbacks who nearly washed out of the league before blossoming in their mid-30s.
For his part, Seahawks Coach Pete Carroll eschewed any off-season talk about “rebuilding” and the lowered expectations which come with it. One of the N.F.L.’s most upbeat coaching personalities, his attitude appears to have rubbed off on the team’s youngsters and castoffs.
Carroll is still officially atop the franchise’s organizational chart, but long ago gave Schneider the autonomy to draft players, and has given Waldron the freedom to run the offense. The Seahawks’ defense — Carroll’s calling card — started the season shakily, but it has allowed just 45 total points in the team’s last three games, victories over the Cardinals, Chargers and Giants.
With fresh faces, funky formations and can-do spirit, the 2022 Seahawks look nothing like their dour counterparts of the recent past. Those teams failed and failed again to replicate the success of the 2013 season (when the team won the Super Bowl) and 2014 (a narrow loss to the New England Patriots in that season’s Super Bowl).