Pete Carroll, the Seahawks are silencing the critics.  Running dolphins?

Pete Carroll, the Seahawks are silencing the critics. Running dolphins?

The 32-year-old Smith is the beneficiary of that environment today and is easily the league’s most improved player. He primarily functions as a game manager, but Sunday proved he can do it at a high level when necessary. Smith had two potential touchdown passes thrown by his receivers against New York before hitting Tyler Lockett on a flawless 33-yard toss that gave Seattle a 20-13 lead. Smith is now in the midst of his best pro season ever, completing 72.7 percent of his passes for 13 touchdowns and three interceptions.

More importantly, Smith helps this offense make the late plays that allow them to close out strong games. “Everybody is locked in and focused on finishing,” Smith said. “It was the same thing last year, but things didn’t go our way. We just have to continue to stay locked in and stay focused in those moments. There are moments in the game where you can go and win the game for your team and that’s what you want.”

When asked about Smith, Carroll added, “He’s the real deal. There’s no mystery here or (the possibility) of him running out of gas. He knows exactly what he’s doing and he shows it every week, pitch after pitch.”

Smith actually embodies the identity of the entire team. He played for three other teams in his nine-year career before arriving in Seattle in 2019 to be Wilson’s backup. There was no excitement about taking him over, even after he played well in place of the injured Wilson last year and then defeated Drew Lock in a training camp battle. That also never became an issue for Smith’s confidence, as he continued to believe he could give this team more than most expected.

The same goes for Seattle’s rookie class, which easily ranks with the Jets’ first-year team as the best in the league. The Seahawks landed two reliable offensive tackles in the draft (Charles Cross Abraham Lucas), a blossoming star running back (Kenneth Walker III) and a cornerback who should contend for Defensive Rookie of the Year honors (Tarik Woolen). As Lockett said, “Our rookie class probably hasn’t said 500 words since they’ve been here. They just put their heads down and work, literally. They listen, they do whatever you want them to do and they go out there and shine every week. .”

Seattle hasn’t been this excited about a group of young players since Carroll was drafted early in his tenure with the Seahawks, which began in 2010. Back then, he found several future stars — players like Wilson, Earl Thomas , Richard Sherman, Cam Chancellor and Bobby Wagner — all of whom became foundational members of an eventual Super Bowl champion. The popular thinking among some fans and observers was that Carroll, whose first NFL coaching job came in 1984, was long past the days when he could recreate that kind of magic. Seattle’s 7-10 finish last season prompted more skepticism in that area.

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