“Pressure changes everything. Some people, you squeeze ’em, they focus. Others fold.”
So said Al Pacino’s fiendish lawyer John Milton in 1997’s The Devil’s Advocate, a film whose creators knew just a little too much about the true nature and identity of evil. That’s a story for another day, though.
Pressure is the focus of this story – and there are more than a few Seattle Seahawks players who will be feeling plenty of it this coming season. In the absence of former franchise quarterback Russell Wilson and legendary middle linebacker Bobby Wagner a new chapter has begun in Seattle and new characters will have to emerge to fill that void in leadership.
Here are six players on the roster who are under the most pressure to perform during the 2022 season.
It may not be fair, but it’s a fact of life playing kicker in the NFL: you’re only as good as your last game. That’s bad news for Myers, who is coming off a brutal 2021 season that saw him connect on less than 75% of his field goal attempts. He was literally perfect the year before, but that may as well have been a lifetime ago in this business. If Myers picks up where he left off in 2021 he likely won’t make it to the end of this coming season.
The one Seahawks defender with the biggest cleats to fill is their new starting middle linebacker Cody Barton. He looked sharp in the final two games of last season with Wagner sidelined by a knee injury. However, it’s a different animal entirely playing a whole year against opponents who have more film to utilize to exploit your tendencies – especially in a division with Sean McVay and Kyle Shanahan, who excel at attacking linebackers in coverage. Expect Barton to be under a microscope all year.
Everything that’s true of Barton going into 2022 can also be applied to Jordyn Brooks. Pete Carroll says he will be taking over Wagner’s former role as the team’s defensive play-caller. In addition to that new burden of leadership, Brooks will have to continue to build on the improvement he showed last season compared to his rookie year – especially in coverage. Identifying and shutting down screens should be at the top of the list.
On the other side of the ball the Seahawks have made some major changes to the book-ends of their offensive line. At left tackle, rookie Charles Cross is replacing Duane Brown, who will likely be a Hall of Famer some day. While Abe Lucas has competition to start on the other side, the blindside is practically Cross’ job to lose. While that’s a relief during the offseason it’ll also put tremendous pressure on him once the games begin. Cross has to improve his power and his stance, or he’ll likely have a lot of welcome-to-the-NFL-rookie moments early on.
Injuries and inconsistency have plagued Rashaad Penny ever since he was drafted. Odds are he wouldn’t have been re-signed for this year if he hadn’t absolutely exploded in the final five games of the 2021 season. Now, Penny has to try to maintain that high level of production and stay healthy for a whole 17-game season. If he doesn’t, Seattle has a younger and more athletic running back ready to take his place in Ken Walker.
No player on the Seahawks roster has more to gain or lose this year than their 25-year old QB Drew Lock, who came over from the Broncos as part of the Russell Wilson trade. Lock shined down the stretch of the 2019 season but has had difficulty reaching that level ever since. First, he’ll have to beat out Geno Smith for the QB1 job. Then, he needs to prove he can cut down on his turnovers and build on the things he does well on the field. If Lock thrives he could be Seattle’s new franchise QB. If he bombs, he may never get another chance to start in the NFL.