The 2017 Seahawks Have A Schedule

You know I love talking about the schedule months and months before the games are played and rosters are finalized!  Without further ado:

  • Week 1 – @ Green Bay
  • Week 2 – San Francisco
  • Week 3 – @ Tennessee
  • Week 4 – Indianapolis (Sunday Night)
  • Week 5 – @ L.A. Rams
  • Week 6 – BYE
  • Week 7 – @ N.Y. Giants
  • Week 8 – Houston
  • Week 9 – Washington
  • Week 10 – @ Arizona (Thursday Night)
  • Week 11 – Atlanta (Monday Night)
  • Week 12 – @ San Francisco
  • Week 13 – Philadelphia (Sunday Night)
  • Week 14 – @ Jacksonville (10am)
  • Week 15 – L.A. Rams
  • Week 16 – @ Dallas
  • Week 17 – Arizona

All times are in the afternoon time slot, unless otherwise posted.

Just to get it out of the way, I don’t care for the Week 6 BYE week.  I read that the NFL did away with BYEs in Week 4, which is nice, because GTFO with that shit.  I still think there should be one designated BYE week for everyone, smack dab in the middle of the season, so it’s fair for everyone, but obviously that’ll never happen, so you won’t hear from me on the topic again until this time next year, when I make the same exact argument.

Truth be told, I like A LOT about this schedule.  The things that stand out include only one 10am start, against Jacksonville, in December, which is a good time to get out of Seattle anyway.  I like that there are no back-to-back road games (or the dreaded 3-game road trip), as our only back-to-backers have the BYE week in between.  And, on top of all of that, three of our four primetime games are at home!  All in all, this might be the best Seahawks schedule I’ve ever seen (at least, this early in the year).

I’m seeing the strength of schedule is pretty easy, but that means nothing.  Comparing a schedule to how the teams finished the year before is pretty asinine, so I don’t take a lot out of that.  Here are my two cents, game by game (my official Game By Game prediction post comes at the end of the pre-season, so come back in early September for that).

Leading off with Green Bay isn’t the worst thing in the world.  Considering we knew we were going to have to go there at some point in the year, it beats playing them on the Frozen Tundra, in the middle of December.  Considering the Packers are always really good, there’s never a “good” time to play them, but I’ll settle for Week 1.  The best part of this is not having to face a crazy-tough D-Line.  The last two years, we had to face the Dolphins’ front four and the Rams’ front four, which is a lot to ask of a young O-Line in the first week of the season.  I won’t say we get a soft landing here, but it’s definitely a step down from those two teams.  We’ll just have to hope our defense comes to play, as the biggest downside is catching Aaron Rodgers at a point where our secondary is likely to be a little unsettled (even more terrifying if the team trades Richard Sherman, and we’re left with Jeremy Lane and a couple rookies filling the void).  Hard to see that as a win for the Seahawks, but we’ll see how I officially feel later this year.

Week 2 home opener against the 49ers?  Yes please!  That has the feel of the annual Washington Huskies/Portland State Fuckwads football game.

I know I’m supposed to get all hard for some of these marquee matchups (SEA @ GB, SEA v IND, SEA v WA, SEA v ATL, SEA v PHI, SEA @ DAL), but honestly?  The game that catches my eye right now is this Week 3 game in Tennessee.  The Titans were 9-7 last year, just a game out of winning that division, and I think they’re a team very much on the rise, and very much on nobody’s radar.  You’ll hear it here first:  don’t be shocked if the Seahawks lose this game.  I like their running game, I love their O-Line, I think Mariota has the goods, and I think their defense is poised for a big improvement.  Depending on how their draft shakes out, I could see them finally overtaking the Texans and dominating that division for years to come.

Week 4, Sunday Night, home vs. Indy.  Wilson vs. Luck, two great offenses, two very different teams in how they’ve been constructed.  I’m looking forward to Collinsworth’s analysis more than anything in this game.

We don’t have to play the Rams until Week 5; that feels like a victory in and of itself!  If it takes longer than a month for our O-Line to gel into some semblance of a working unit, then I give up.

Coming out of the BYE week, we go on the road to face the Giants.  This is actually, lowkey, a pretty brutal stretch of games the Seahawks have to open up with.  Aside from the 49ers, and maybe Indy, I see nothing but difficult matchups.  The Giants were one of the teams we managed to dodge in last year’s playoffs, and I was going to go into how they posed a difficult matchup for the Seahawks.  Their D-Line is vastly improved after last year’s spending spree.  But, Eli is still Eli, so if our defense is able to hold it together, I don’t see why the Seahawks couldn’t take this one.

Back-to-back home games against Houston and Washington.  I don’t see Houston being much of a problem, unless they somehow fix their quarterback quandary, which I don’t see happening.  Washington is a little more interesting, but they’ve never struck me as all that interested in bolstering their defense.  With their two primary receivers (from 2016) playing elsewhere, I’m curious to see how their passing attack looks.  I’m pretty high on Cousins, so I could definitely see him keeping them in the game.

Thursday in Arizona in early November:  who knows?  Once again, we don’t see them until the second half of the season, so there’s REALLY no predicting where this one will go.  Will Carson Palmer still be playing at this point?  Will their defense be able to thoroughly shut us down like they did in that 6-6 game last year?  Will the short week throw us off like it usually does when we have to go on the road in our Thursday game?

Then, we come upon perhaps the biggest or second biggest game on our non-divisional schedule:  Monday Night, home against the defending NFC Champion Atlanta Falcons.  This game was one of the best ones we played in 2016, and at least on paper looks to be no different in 2017.  I’m REALLY interested in how Atlanta is going to rebound this year.  Super Bowl collapse, offensive coordinator takes a head coaching job, target nevertheless squarely on their backs each and every week, will they be like the Panthers of last year?  Or the Seahawks of the year before.  I’ll be thoroughly impressed if they’re able to make the playoffs again after a year like that.

On the Sunday after Thanksgiving, we’re on the road in San Francisco.  Again, they should be pushovers.

Then, it’s right back in primetime with a home game against the Eagles.  I don’t totally understand why this game is on the schedule, to be honest.  Rather, I don’t understand why it’s in primetime.  I have some serious doubts about Carson Wentz and that coaching staff in general, and I don’t think that team stands a chance in that division, with how good the Cowboys, Giants, and Redskins look.  Look, just don’t be shocked when the NFL flexes this game out of primetime in favor of, oh I dunno, Giants at Raiders, Panthers at Saints, Bucs at Packers, or even Pats at Bills if they just want an excuse to play the Patriots in primetime yet again.

In Week 14, we finally come upon our lone 10am game.  GOD I LOVE IT!  From the looks of things, the other teams in our division got jobbed on the 10am game thing, but you know what?  I think we deserve it.  With the way we have to travel from Seattle, the Seahawks are constantly doing the most travelling in the league, so it’s better to reward us with those late afternoon road games.

Home vs. the Rams in mid-December?  No thank you.  Again, it’s the Rams, so expect the unexpected (but usually pretty terrible, for Seahawks fans).

Christmas Eve afternoon in Dallas?  Woof.  If it’s anything like last year’s Christmas Eve game against the Cardinals, I shan’t be happy.  But, all eyes will be on us, almost like it’s a Thanksgiving Day game, in which case that should be an interesting build-up (also, this game would’ve been much more appropriate as a primetime game, but what are you gonna do?).

Then, we close out on New Year’s Eve at home against the Cardinals.  We’ll either be fighting for our playoff lives, fighting for a division title, or hopefully fighting for a top spot in the NFC, so I would bank on this game actually meaning something.  In which case, either smart planning by the NFL, or they got really lucky.  Either way, should be a good one.

If you had to pin me down to a prediction, I don’t know what to tell you.  The rest of the NFC West doesn’t look all that impressive.  The Seahawks SHOULD go undefeated against the likes of the Rams and 49ers, but you know that won’t happen.  Let’s say 4-2 in the division, 3-1 against the AFC, bringing us to 7-3 with six more games against the NFC.  I gotta tell you, this conference schedule LOOKS tough.  GB, NYG, and Dallas on the road; ATL, Philly, and WA at home.  I see 1-2 in the road games and 2-1 in the home games, which would put us at 10-6 on the year.  That looks like it could be enough to win the division, but certainly not enough to get anything more than a 3 or (more likely) 4 seed in the playoffs.

The road to getting the top seed – and getting back to the Super Bowl – is simple.  First, the Seahawks need to stay remarkably healthy.  ESPECIALLY on defense, where I still see depth as being our primary issue (regardless of what happens in the draft).  Second, the Seahawks absolutely need to take care of business in the division.  That means going a perfect 6-0, no excuses!  The 49ers are terrible, the Rams are still rebuilding, and the Cards are on the cusp of collapse and a rebuild of their own.  This should be a down year for all three of those teams, and the Seahawks need to stop fucking around with them, playing down to their levels, and take advantage of the weak division in front of them.

If you give me 6-0 in division, with 3-1 against the AFC (which, if the Seahawks stayed as healthy as they need to, you’d think they’d go 4-0 against the AFC, but there’s always one of those weird outcomes seemingly out of our control every year against some random AFC team on the road), that’s 9-1 heading into the rest of the NFC slate.  Figure you can’t lose more than 2 of those games to be safe, which means probably running the table on those home games against the Falcons, Redskins, and Eagles, and then making sure you steal a tie-breaker game on the road.  Which is tough, because it looks like the Cowboys and Packers will be our primary competition for the top seed in the NFC.  Indeed, that game in Dallas in Week 16 very well could be a showdown for the top spot, should everything break right for the Seahawks.

Probably the best thing about the schedule is that there’s really not a huge cluster of tough games back-to-back-to-back.  Like I alluded to earlier, there’s 3 road games out of 4 (with a BYE mixed in) where we go @TEN, IND, @LAR, @ NYG.  The Seahawks SHOULD win all of those games, or at least 3 of 4, but I could also see all of those games going sideways for a variety of reasons.  Other than that, you have to say the toughest stretch would be WA, @ AZ, ATL right in the middle there, or LAR, @ DAL, AZ at the end, but both of those stretches have 2/3 games at home.

All in all, a lot to like.  And a lot to work one’s self into a lather about, if given half a chance.

Predicting The 2016 NFL Season

Still my favorite post of the year!  Still don’t care how wrong I am!  Still got love for the streets, repping 253!  Still not loving police!  And so on and so forth …

Last year, I had the Seahawks over the Colts in the Super Bowl.  I got something like 2 division winners right, and maybe only half of the playoff participants.  And I had some MIND-BOGGLING picks, like the Rams & Lions & Dolphins in the Wild Card, and the Chiefs over the Broncos and Ravens over the Bengals as division winners.  In short, it was all bad; so let’s try to do better.  As usual, I’ll refrain from predicting actual records, and just list the teams in order of where they’ll finish in the standings in their respective divisions.

NFC East

Washington
NY Giants
Dallas
Philadelphia

I got the Redskins on a big ol’ come-up!  Mostly because I think Scot McCloughan is a roster genius and has turned around every franchise he’s put his hands on.  Their offense improved greatly over the course of the 2015 season and should play well going forward as long as Cousins stays healthy.  I think they’ll find just enough on defense to stay in games.  And, I think the Cowboys and ESPECIALLY the Eagles will be pretty bad this year.  Gods and clods in this division, as I have the Giants taking the next step and returning to the playoffs as a wild card.  I figure 9-7 should be good enough in this NFC to nab a 6th seed.

NFC North

Green Bay
Minnesota
Detroit
Chicago

You hate to put all your hopes on the likes of Teddy Bridgewater, but that’s essentially what I’m doing with the Vikings this year.  Granted, I don’t think he’s great, but I think he is good at limiting mistakes and playing within the flow of the offense.  With the team around him, I think he’s worth an extra 1-2 wins over his counterparts (in this case, Shaun Hill and Sam Bradford).  I just think Hill is doomed to get hurt at some point, and Bradford has the misfortune of not having practiced with the team all offseason.  Both guys are clear steps down compared to Bridgewater, which I think relegates this team to 7 or 8 wins at most.  That puts Green Bay in the driver’s seat by default, and a real contender for the top two spots in the NFC.  I like Detroit to play good offense and poor defense, and I like Chicago to play good defense and poor offense.

NFC South

Carolina
Tampa Bay
New Orleans
Atlanta

This feels remarkably easy, but Carolina is simply the most complete team in the division, period.  I think the Bucs take a big step forward this year – especially on offense – and I think they contend for that 6th seed, but I think they ultimately fall short on tie-breakers.  I don’t expect much out of Atlanta’s offense again this year, and I think their defense is considerably worse.  I think the Saints do enough on offense to win some games they should lose, but ultimately they need to do too much on defense to be competitive this year.  Maybe 2017.

NFC West

Seattle
Arizona
San Francisco
Los Angeles

This is the homer coming out in me.  By all rights, the Cardinals should repeat as division champs – they’re just as good as they were last year, if not better in certain areas, AND they have the easier schedule, by dodging Tom Brady and playing the Vikings instead of the Packers – but I just think the Seahawks are hungrier.  I also think the Seahawks are going to get off to a really hot start this year.  Combine that with the fact that Palmer is due for another devastating injury (with the outside chance that his psyche never recovers from that playoff dismantling by the Panthers last year), and let’s just say I’m hedging my bets by having the Cards make the wild card at something like 10-6.

Not for nothing, but I also think the Rams take a HUGE step back this year.  I think the 49ers shock some people – as they have the most negative hype I’ve seen in recent memory – and I think the Rams do so poorly that they have no choice but to fire Jeff Fisher and company (in spite of his recent contract extension).  I just think they can’t afford to waste Goff’s prime on a nothing coaching staff and will look to shake things up by bringing in the hottest offensive coordinator on the market this upcoming offseason (whoever that may be).

AFC East

New England
Buffalo
NY Jets
Miami

Keep picking the Pats until the end of time!  You want a shocker (and the clubhouse leader for the pick I’m likeliest to get wrong)?  I got Buffalo FINALLY breaking their streak as the team with the longest playoff drought!  I like Tyrod Taylor a lot, I like a desperate Rex Ryan, and I like how nobody’s giving this team a shot.  I think 9-7 (with tiebreakers) does it.  I don’t think Fitzpatrick has another year like 2015 in him, and he proves why paying guys like him $12 million per year is a fool’s errand.  I think Tannehill improves with Adam Gase as his head coach, but I don’t think it’s enough, as this team is pretty weak and unimpressive in most areas outside of the D-Line.

AFC North

Pittsburgh
Cincinnati
Baltimore
Cleveland

I like Roethlisberger to stay mostly healthy and put up huge numbers again.  I like the defense to do just enough, but the offense to ultimately carry them.  I think Andy Dalton takes a step back without Hue Jackson holding his hand.  I think Baltimore improves, but only to the 7 or 8-win range.  And, I think Cleveland gets another Top 5 draft pick to throw onto the pile.  Ultimately, I think the Bengals fall short of making the playoffs, with potential coaching casualties following.

AFC South

Houston
Jacksonville
Indianapolis
Tennessee

I think Brock Osweiler is a VAST improvement over all the QBs Houston had on their roster last year, and with the talent around him (particularly Lamar Miller’s breakout year), and that defense behind him, is enough to get them to 10 or 11 wins.  The key for Osweiler is to limit turnovers.  If he can do that (the way Hoyer & Co. could not), the sky is the limit for this team.  I like Jacksonville to take a big step forward and really contend for a wild card spot, but I think they’re probably another year away.  I’m also concerned about Bortles regressing, but I’ll avoid that conversation for now, as I’m counting on him in Fantasy to lead me to glory this year and beyond.  I think Indy is a trainwreck, and no amount of Andrew Luck will be able to carry this team to the playoffs, in what is a vastly improved division.  I think the Titans give the Colts a run for their money, but ultimately fall just short (because the Titans have garbage coaching, and no weapons on offense outside of TE).

AFC West

Kansas City
Oakland
Denver
San Diego

I like the Chiefs for 12 wins and one of the top 2 seeds.  I like Oakland to be the team to make the jump into the other Wild Card spot.  I like Denver for about 8 wins (never thought their defense alone would be enough to carry them back into the post-season).  And, I like the Chargers to be playing in a city outside of San Diego in 2017.

NFC Playoffs

  1. Seattle
  2. Green Bay
  3. Washington
  4. Carolina
  5. Arizona
  6. NY Giants

AFC Playoffs

  1. New England
  2. Kansas City
  3. Houston
  4. Pittsburgh
  5. Oakland
  6. Buffalo

I like the Seahawks because I’m a homer, and I like the Packers over the other three teams because I think they have the most favorable schedule (AFC South & NFC East are the divisions they have to play, while catching Seattle, Houston, Indy, and the Giants at home, and playing garbage Atlanta thanks to their 2nd place divisional schedule).

I like New England because they’re New England.  I like the Chiefs because I think they’re balanced and poised to take that next step.

Wild Card Round

Washington over NY Giants
Carolina over Arizona
Houston over Buffalo
Oakland over Pittsburgh

Divisional Round

Seattle over Carolina
Green Bay over Washington
New England over Oakland
Kansas City over Houston

Championship Round

Seattle over Green Bay
Kansas City over New England

Super Bowl

Seattle over Kansas City

What can I say?  I like me some Seahawks, and I like me some Super Bowls against AFC West opponents!

Seattle Seahawks 2016 Draft Spectacular!

I watched all of the first round, while in my apartment, reading from Twitter, and sending out the occasional text.  I had the draft on in the background for rounds two & three as I visited with my dad and brother, occasionally muting the commercials so I could listen to the local coverage on KJR AM, until I ultimately lost interest as we started drinking and playing Yahtzee.  I missed most of the last four rounds entirely, as I was helping friends move some stuff, then ate lunch at The Eleven Eleven in Tacoma, before catching the tail end of the draft.  It was a fun-filled weekend of sun and laughs that I shall cherish for always.

The Seattle Seahawks picked up some new guys in the process.  These are those guys:

  • First Round (31st overall) – Germain Ifedi, RT
  • Second Round (49th overall) – Jarran Reed, DT
  • Third Round (90th overall) – C.J. Prosise, RB
  • Third Round (94th overall) – Nick Vannett, TE
  • Third Round (97th overall) – Rees Odhiambo, G
  • Fifth Round (147th overall) – Quinton Jefferson, DT
  • Fifth Round (171st overall) – Alex Collins, RB
  • Sixth Round (215th overall) – Joey Hunt, C
  • Seventh Round (243rd overall) – Kenny Lawler, WR
  • Seventh Round (247th overall) – Zac Brooks, RB

Some potentially interesting undrafted guys include:

  • Steve Longa, LB
  • Tre Madden, RB
  • Trevone Boykin, QB
  • Tyvis Powell, S
  • Vernon Adams, QB (tryout basis)

I dunno, there could be other interesting guys, but that’s what I’ve gleaned from Twitter and various websites.  Anyone who I didn’t list is either an oversight, or is merely camp fodder.

Among the guys I like to produce for the Seahawks right away include Ifedi (who I talked about last week as a guy who should most certainly win a spot somewhere on the offensive line), Reed (who projects to be Brandon Mebane’s replacement), Prosise (who looks to have the inside track for that 3rd down running back job), and Vannett (who looks to be pushing Cooper Helfet out of Seattle, barring injury somewhere else).  Since we’re looking at those four players as having the best chance to make the team better, let’s talk about them first (as I just mentioned, you can read about Ifedi in the link above).

Jarran Reed was noted to be the best run-stuffing tackle in the draft.  One of 25 players invited to sit in at the draft live, he was the 25th of those man taken as he slid into the middle of the second round.  The Seahawks talked about him as being among the guys they considered in the first round at pick #31, so it’s certainly awesome to see the Seahawks technically got two first round-graded players.  When you think about why a player this good might have slipped into the second round, I think you can look no further than how the NFL has devalued the running game.  Running backs aren’t being given the huge contracts they once were, they’re not being taken as high as they once were (even though the Cowboys went rogue and took one with the 4th overall pick), and more and more often you’re seeing rookies step right in and produce, for pennies on the dollar.  A byproduct of this line of thinking is that stopping the run has also become devalued.  Most offenses don’t feature the run like we do.  As such, most teams don’t feel the need to put a large amount of resources into stopping the run, when there are bigger fish to fry in the secondary and in the pass rush.  The Seahawks, by their nature, feature an elite secondary and a pretty great pass rush.  Other teams know that and might think they could run on us as a result, but that’s why – unlike most teams – the Seahawks don’t neglect stopping the run.  They coach it, and they put resources into it.  Up until this year, they’ve had Brandon Mebane under contract and filling that void.  With Mebane off to sunny San Diego, the Seahawks had another void to fill, and Reed figures to be it.  That’s no knock to Sealver Siliga – he’ll definitely be great to have around as depth, and as a veteran presence, not to mention any goalline packages against jumbo offensive sets – but he’s on a 1-year deal.  Reed is our nose tackle of the future, and we got him at a second round discount.

I know it’s not sexy, I know he probably won’t make any Pro Bowls (because, again, the elite run stuffers never get the attention they deserve; it’s all about sacks at the defensive tackle position that make them stand out), but Reed is a starter, plain and simple.  The Seahawks just drafted a quality 4-year starter who should help us maintain our dominance in stopping the run defensively.

You want to know what IS sexy?  Running backs!  Running backs are sexy as hell!  C.J. Prosise is a DB that was converted to a linebacker for a short period that was converted to a wide receiver that was THEN converted to a running back.  The kid’s got hands, he can run the entire route tree, but he’s also big enough (6′, 220 lbs), that he could theoretically run up inside and one day possibly be an every-down back for this team.  I don’t know if I want to project all of that upon him right now, but I LOVE his third down potential for this team.  I love thinking about the 1-back shotgun sets we like to run (zone read, play action, and so on), and I love thinking about the no-back/5-wides shotgun sets we like to run.  Normally, I HATE it when we go empty backfield, because I have these visions of Russell Wilson being chased around by bad men out to harm him.  And, while Marshawn Lynch had pretty good hands for a running back, he was never someone I was 100% confident in (but, maybe that’s more on me than a reflection of his abilities), but either way, he’s gone now, and there’s a void to fill there too.  When you look at someone like Thomas Rawls, you see a guy who really struggled in the pass-catching part of the game, which is pretty huge.  Wilson’s not a guy who likes to check the ball down to the running back often, but when he does it’s either because he has no other choice and he’s about to be flattened, or it’s because he sees potential for the running back to get a lot of yards, with a ton of green field around him.  So, losing those modest and potentially huge gains because the running back has stone hands is something that may ultimately hurt Rawls in the long run, and lead to an opening for Prosise to take over the job on an every-down basis.

Right now, the only thing standing in Prosise’s way is his ability to hold up in pass protection.  Regardless of how talented, or athletic, or fast you are; you could have game-breaking ability and be seen as The Next Fill-in-the-Blank-Superstar, but if you can’t pick up the blitz, you’re not even going to SNIFF the field.  Don’t believe me?  Ask Christine Michael how his professional career has gone so far, after being a highly-coveted second round pick and potential Marshawn Lynch replacement.  If Prosise has that in him, or at least the want-to to learn how to do it, then he’s light years ahead already.

Nick Vannett is a guy I find REALLY interesting.  Depth at the tight end position has been seriously lacking since Pete Carroll and John Schneider took over.  Usually, we have one good one, and then a huge drop-off.  Zach Miller was the guy initially, and he was great when he was healthy.  He helped out tremendously when this offensive line was in its infancy, as an extra blocker to try to reduce some of the pressure on the quarterback.  He also did just enough in the passing game to keep defenses honest, as his soft hands made up for his inability to really run away from defenders down the seam.  The Seahawks went and drafted Luke Willson in 2013, but he was always more of a project.  The speed was there, and his height made him a nice little weapon in the passing game, but he’s never been known for his blocking ability.  Make no mistake, he’s made great strides in that area, as he’s been a hard worker for the Seahawks.  But, he is and always will be more known for his offense.  Plus, let’s be honest, he’s really more of a nice #2 option, which is why the Seahawks went out and got Jimmy Graham.  But, again, you’re talking about more of a wide receiver than a tight end.  No matter what he says, no matter how hard he tries, he’s never going to be a good blocker.  It doesn’t mean he doesn’t have value, but there are going to be times where he’s in there, and the Seahawks run the ball, and they don’t get anything out of it because Graham messed up on his assignment.  That’s just the way it’s going to be.

Now, though, we’ve got this Vannett guy, who right away comes with visions of Zach Miller.  Not in that he’s just a “blocking tight end”, but that he’s an “all-around tight end”.  Something this team has been lacking since Miller’s injuries finally forced him out of the league.  And, not for nothing, but Vannett’s confidence in interviews makes me think he’s got just the type of personality that’s going to thrive on a team of alpha dogs.  He’s 6’6, so there’s the height you look for; it doesn’t sound like he has great speed, so he’s not going to be a guy who burns it up the seams either.  But, by some accounts, he has some of the best pass-catching hands in the draft, which leads me to believe this guy is going to be super reliable and a secret weapon.  I mean, think about it, on a team with the wide receivers we’ve got, with Jimmy Graham, and with Luke Willson both as more like tall wide receivers than tight ends, someone like Nick Vannett isn’t going to attract the team’s best defender.  He’s going to get some slow linebacker or maybe even a defensive end on him, which means you should just throw to an area and be able to hit Vannett for a nice gain.  He’ll never be this team’s number 1 option or anything, but with other guys potentially covered, I like the potential this guy has to be a nice outlet for Wilson.  Plus, he should figure to be a quality option in the red zone too (assuming the team uses him properly, which is always a questionmark).

***

That brings us to the project half of the draft.  Guys who are interesting, but whose spots on this team are by no means guaranteed.

Let’s keep going down the line with Rees Odhiambo, a guy whose name I’m going to need to look up to remember how to spell for the first couple years at least.  He was a starting left tackle in college, but his frame suggests he’s going to be a guard in the NFL.  Which, when you think about it, most guards in the NFL are converted tackles anyway, who were only playing on the outside in college because that’s where teams put their best linemen.  With the shorter arms, and less athletic ability, you get bumped inside.  Odhiambo does have good size, though (6’4, 314 lbs), which suggests he may one day compete for the left guard spot (where Cable likes his bigger guards, compared to on the right side, where he likes them lighter and more athletic).  Considering Odhiambo was taken at the end of the third round (probably projected as more of a fourth or early fifth rounder, except the Seahawks had traded away their fourth rounder to move up in the second round), you figure he’s going to need a year to develop.  Depending on his skill-level right now, that either means the team stashes him on the practice squad (if he’s more raw in his skills) or is forced to carry him on the 53-man roster, and make him inactive every week (if he projects to be a future starter; see:  Mark Glowinski last year).

When you figure the Seahawks needed to upgrade along the offensive line, and needed to boost the level of competition among our reserves (with Alvin Bailey moving on), grabbing Ifedi and now Odhiambo gives us a couple of up-and-coming young players who may one day share jobs on the same O-Line.  Odhiambo, with his experience as a left tackle, should be more technically sound in the pass protection game, but we’ll see how he does in camp before we pass any judgment (good or bad) his way.

Let me go ahead and skip over a few guys, as I keep with the offensive line theme.  In the sixth round, the Seahawks took Joey Hunt, a center out of TCU.  As you may know, I (along with most everyone else) really wanted to see Ryan Kelly fall to the Seahawks.  Instead, the Colts took him with the 18th pick, to pair him with Andrew Luck for the next decade; can’t say I blame them.  Seeing a center go that high is beyond rare; you’ve got to be a special, once-in-a-generation type of talent (which is pretty sad, since he’s the Andrew Luck of centers, and he only went as high as 18th in the draft).  With three picks in the third round, you figured the Seahawks would grab one of the better ones there, but there was a little mini-run on centers earlier in the third round, so the position never really felt appropriate for the Seahawks to pick until the sixth.

Hunt was a guy in college who was an elite pass protector, which is something this team desperately needs in the middle.  If, indeed, we’re going with the types of guards Tom Cable likes to employ, they’re more maulers than they are protectors.  The Seattle Seahawks like to run the ball a lot, often to the detriment of the passing game, when it comes to the offensive line.  If we could manage to sneak just ONE elite pass protector in there, in a guy like Hunt, I think it would help out a great deal.  Now, he’s a bit under-sized, at anywhere from 295-299 lbs, which means there’s a chance he could get bullied in the running game.  But, when you look at centers, oftentimes they’re there to help double team with one of the guards.  As such, I don’t know if you expect a lot of 1 on 1 blocking out of your center.  What you NEED is a guy who is smart, who can call out the protections and assignments, and keep everything and everyone around him running smoothly (with the occasional burst up field to knock out linebackers at the second level).  I think Hunt can very much be that guy.  He may need some seasoning.  He may need a year to bulk up a little bit, to ensure he’s ready for the rigors of playing 16 games plus playoffs.  Which is why we have Patrick Lewis on board for one more year.  Let Lewis run the show in 2016, with an eye towards Hunt in 2017 and beyond.  Could be a GREAT value pick for the Seahawks if it pans out the way I’ve decided it should.

On the other side of the ball, the Seahawks took a second defensive tackle, this one with more of an eye towards rushing the passer.  Quinton Jefferson, whom the Seahawks traded up in the fifth round to get (giving up a 4th rounder in the 2017 draft in the process, but we should be getting a compensatory pick there, so it’s not all bad).  With Jordan Hill going into the final year of his rookie deal, you may be looking at his replacement right here.  Probably unreasonable to expect much out of him as a rookie, you nevertheless like the potential for him to slide into that rotation in pass rushing downs.  There’s going to be a significant numbers game going on with the D-Line this year, though, so we’ll see if he makes the cut.  Considering the Seahawks did trade up to get him, you think they’ll do everything they can to ensure he sticks with the team through the year.

Towards the end of the draft, the Seahawks picked up Kenny Lawler, a 6’2 wide receiver out of Cal, to throw onto the pile.  That gives us 12 officially on the roster, with, I’m sure, another few coming via tryouts and whatnot.  This is a stacked position, with Baldwin, Kearse, Lockett, and Richardson all figuring to be locks to make the team.  Then, you’ve got experienced guys in Kevin Smith and Kasen Williams back in the fold, and other guys from our ghost roster who are familiar with the system and our training camps.  By all accounts, Lawler has great hands, and is superb in the endzone, but he’s a seventh round pick for a reason.  He’s probably not all that fast, and in the NFL, he’s going to have to make his mark by winning the 50/50 balls.  Not dropping anything in sight is a great way to get your name remembered, but making highlight reel catches in practice will get you on the team in some capacity.  If he doesn’t have that in him, he might be practice squad fodder, or among the legion in our ghost roster, at the ready when the team needs someone off the streets.

I saved the other running backs for last, because I find it so fascinating that the team went with the Ball So Hard route at this position.  With Marshawn Lynch retired, the team has a serious void, and is apparently not fucking around.  Thomas Rawls returns, and has the inside track on the starting position, but he’s also returning from a serious injury, and the team doesn’t want to be left holding its collective dick if he has a relapse, or is otherwise not ready for the regular season.  Christine Michael is back on a 1-year deal, but that’s by no means guaranteed.  You figure he’s going to need to REALLY explode in camp if he’s going to stick around.  I think, more than anything, the team has put him on notice with the three draft picks it’s used, not to mention the undrafted guy from USC who’s coming in.

Alex Collins, the fifth rounder, looks to be a bigger, bruising type of back.  He shouldn’t be a threat to Prosise for the third down job whatsoever, but could theoretically knock Michael out of the game.  Zac Brooks, on the other hand, is a smaller guy, who should come in to compete for the scat-back type of role.  Given the resources the team has devoted to the position, I think it’s safe to say they didn’t draft all of these guys with the intention of keeping each and every one of them.  With Rawls pretty much guaranteed a spot, I suppose you could theoretically keep four non-fullback type running backs (if, indeed, the team cuts Michael as we head into the regular season), but I don’t know if I believe that’s a given.  I think it’s entirely possible that Michael beats out one of these two late round backs to be that third or fourth back (with Rawls the projected starter, and Prosise the projected #2).  Whoever proves to be more essential to special teams (either Collins or Brooks) could make that the tie-breaker in who wins a spot on the 53-man roster.  In that sense, I wonder if Alex Collins is the next Spencer Ware (i.e. squeezed out in a numbers game, doing it for the Kansas City Chiefs in a couple years).

All in all, this is a draft I really like for the Seahawks.  Could be the best one we’ve seen since 2012.  I see lots of starting and reserve potential for most of these guys.  I could also see some of these guys getting cut and immediately snapped up by other teams around the league.  Who knows?  In five years, I might be writing about how this is another one of those drafts where most of the guys got paid big money in their second contracts.  I can see the compensatory picks from here!

Why Russell Wilson Is One Of The Four Best Quarterbacks In The NFL Right Now

This post is going to be COMPLETELY subjective and COMPLETELY drenched in my homerizzm, but I don’t care.

I think Russell Wilson is pretty great at football.  If you’re a Seahawks fan, you probably agree.  I also think we’re just scratching the surface of Russell Wilson’s greatness.  Based on the second half of his 2015 season, if you’re a Seahawks fan, you probably also agree.

Why do I think Russell Wilson is one of the four best quarterbacks in the NFL?  It’s quite simple:  I can’t think of more than three quarterbacks in the league for whom I’d be willing to trade our franchise guy.  For the sake of this exercise, I should point out that I’m including age and experience in this thing, but I’m not really all that focused on the size of the contract or anything like that.  This is a simple one-for-one swap:  would I rather have Russell Wilson for however many remaining years of his career (probably well over 10 more years, if everything goes well health-wise), or would I rather have Player X?  It’s not as simple as:  you have one year, who is your starting quarterback?  It’s also not as simple as:  who had the best 2015 season?  This is, going forward, who would you be willing to have start for your team in place of Russell Wilson?

Also, for the sake of argument, let’s forget about all the growing pains of bringing in a new guy, having him learn the system, having him build a rapport with the players, and so on.  Let’s just assume, whoever you trade for, will know our system and will get along with the players as well as Wilson has.

To fulfill the “experience” and “quality” requirements, I chopped off over half of the league’s starters from last year.  None of the 2016 rookies interest me whatsoever when compared to Wilson.  Guys like Bortles, Mariota, and Winston are all very interesting, but they’re obviously not at the level of quality or experience that Wilson has.  Tyrod Taylor is another interesting name, but I’m going to need more than 14 games started before I can take you seriously as a Wilson replacement.  Osweiler is yet another interesting name, who’s had many years backing up a hall of famer, but only in 2015 was given the opportunity to start real, regular season games.  Carr, with the Raiders, is the last of the young’uns I left off of my list.  He looks every part the gunslinger that team has desperately needed for ages, but I just can’t quite put trust in any belief that his ceiling is higher than Wilson’s until I’ve seen it first.

The next group of candidates have the experience, but are lacking in the quality department, and have been left off for what I feel are obvious reasons.  Foles, Kaepernick/Gabbert, Cutler, Stafford, Bradford, Alex Smith, Dalton, Flacco, Tannehill, Fitzpatrick, and anyone else I didn’t list above, who deserve to remain nameless because they suck.  I may get blowback on guys like Dalton, Stafford, and maybe even Cutler, but those guys have showed me absolutely nothing outside of a season here and there.  They can’t consistently stay out of their own way and they tend to shit the bed when it matters most.  To be honest, Joe Flacco is probably my favorite of this bunch; I think he’d fit in quite well with what the Seahawks like to do on offense (run the ball, play action deep passes), but there’s no way in hell I’m trading Wilson for him.

That brings me to the realistic candidates.  Quarterbacks who have the ability to play at an elite level, but for various reasons I’d rather not give up Wilson for them.  Let’s start with Tom Brady, because that’s obviously the name everyone puts at or near the top of any list of the world’s best quarterbacks.  Yes, obviously, if I had one season and I wanted to win a championship, I’d consider trading Wilson for Brady.  But, Brady is going to be 39 years old this August.  While he’s still playing at an elite level this deep into his career, how many more years can you reasonably expect him to squeeze out, let alone at that aforementioned elite level?  Two?  MAYBE three?  Remember, at age 37, Peyton Manning had the greatest season of any quarterback in the history of the game.  Two seasons later, it looks like he’s played his last down.  I’m not trading upwards of a decade or more of Russell Wilson for 1-2 more quality Brady years, sorry-not-sorry (people still say that, right?).

Same story for Brees.  He’s got a lot of mileage and I’m not wasting a guy in his prime for a guy who will be out of the league soon.

Next up, I’m going to lump in guys like Carson Palmer, Tony Romo, and Ben Roethlisberger.  Of all the quarterbacks playing today, Roethlisberger might be playing at the highest level (doesn’t hurt he’s got the weapons he’s got).  But, all three of these guys are injury risks, which makes them older – in an NFL sense – than their actual ages.  All are quality passers, but I just don’t think I’d ever trade Wilson for them.

Then, there’s Eli.  He’s started every single game for the Giants since the start of the 2005 season; no injury concerns there.  He’s going into his age 35 season, so you figure if things continue to go as well as they have, he’s probably got another good 5 years or so.  I just don’t think, as a quarterback, he’s as good as Wilson (and that’s not even taking into account my opinion that Wilson will only get better as these next few years go on).  Matt Ryan is another guy who’s been pretty durable, and when he’s got a good team around him, he’s shown he’s a franchise guy.  But, like Eli, I don’t think Ryan is nearly the calibre of passer as Wilson.  I mean, let’s face it, Wilson has done a lot of good with what’s been a pretty poor pass-protection unit.  Ryan falls apart at the first instance of pressure!  No thank you.

Philip Rivers is the last guy in this section, and he’s one I honestly sort of agonized over.  He’s been on some pretty terrible and injury-riddled teams of late.  One wonders what he’d be able to do on a legitimately great team like the Seahawks.  He can go out and win you a shoot-out if need be.  He can slow it down and play the high-percentage, short passing game.  He’s not that mobile, but he’s lightning-quick in his decision-making.  My only knock against him is that he tends to be a little too reckless with the football.  Not as bad as Cutler, or some of these other guys lower on the list, but it’s still a concern.  He’ll also be 35 years old by season’s end this year, so there’s fewer seasons to look forward to with him, compared to Wilson.

Of the players I feel are of equal or greater value to Wilson, I can count only three.

Andrew Luck is a guy I think, when it’s all said and done, will be a Hall of Famer.  He needs to learn to get hit less on his scrambles, but it would also help if he had a better offensive line (Indy’s line makes Seattle’s look like the Hogs from the 80s).  I still see a long and fruitful career for Luck; don’t forget, he’s largely been carrying that team with not a lot of talent around him.  Imagine what he’d do on a stacked Seahawks team!  Right now, I’d probably rank Wilson ahead of Luck, but I wouldn’t be totally devastated if they were swapped straight up.

Next up, obviously, when you talk about the world’s greatest quarterbacks, you’re talking about Aaron Rodgers.  A-Rod will be 33 years old by season’s end, but who gives a shit?  He’s another Hall of Famer, and another guy who should play into his 40s when all is said and done.  I think, until Wilson really starts to pour it on (i.e. turns the second half of his 2015 season into many multiple FULL seasons in the future), you have to rank A-Rod ahead of him.  Even though I think he’s a collosal douche, I’d trade Wilson for him straight up.

Finally, there’s Cam.  No one wants to hear it, because everyone outside of Carolina hates Cam (and/or spends way too much time defending him when he acts like an immature little crybaby), but the dude is a straight-up baller, and not just with his legs (although, it doesn’t hurt that he’s so good running with the football).  One wonders how his body will handle all the hits long-term, but I think his running ability will last a lot longer than Wilson’s (who I feel will slide into more of a pocket passer role the more he gets comfortable reading pre-snap defenses).  Like Luck, I don’t know if Cam is necessarily BETTER than Wilson, but he’s certainly on par, and he’s young enough, and he’s carried sub-par teams to winning records/playoff appearances for multiple seasons.  From a fan standpoint, I’d probably prefer Luck to Cam, but from strictly a player standpoint, I think I could be talked into taking Cam over Luck.  Talk to me again in a year or two and that statement might look batshit crazier than it already does, but that’s how I feel right now, so put that in your pipe and smoke it.

In conclusion, I’d like to reiterate (if it wasn’t already clear) that I think Russell Wilson is great and I don’t necessarily want to trade him for anyone in the league.  But, if I HAD to, I’d only accept A-Rod, Cam, or Luck, in that order.  Anyone else, I feel, would be beneath what Russell Wilson has to offer over the course of the rest of his career in this league.

What The Seahawks Should Do At Backup Quarterback

Recent news indicates that Tarvaris Jackson is likely to test the free agent waters this year, in hopes of getting into a situation that either pays him more money and/or gives him a chance to compete for a starting job/puts him behind a quarterback who might be a little more injury-prone than Russell Wilson.  Your guess is as good as mine as to what Tarvar has been doing in recent offseasons.  This story makes it sound like he’s been settling for being Seattle’s backup because it’s comfortable and familiar.  My guess is that Seattle has indeed been giving him the best possible deal, as I can’t imagine the market is too hard-up for a guy who’s proven he’s a backup in this league and nothing more.

Granted, he’s one of the better backups across the league, but a backup he remains.

Still, if you’re Tarvar, you’re looking around at some of these teams in 2015 – struggles in Dallas, Philly, St. Louis, Frisco, Cleveland, Baltimore, and Houston – and you’ve got to be thinking that you’re better than the backups for those teams who were forced into action (Dallas and Baltimore, particularly) and in other cases, better than who they’re running out as starters (Cleveland, Houston, St. Louis and the rest).  So, yeah, it makes sense – if you want to give it a go as a real live NFL quarterback (and not just a seat-warmer on the bench) – to put yourself out there as a veteran alternative for some of these teams who don’t land their Quarterback of the Future in the NFL Draft or free agency.  At the very least, he’d be likelier to see the field playing behind someone a little less durable than Russell Wilson (boy, am I putting the whammy on our boy with this sentiment).

So, what we’re talking about is, for the first time in years, looking for a non-Tarvar backup.

All else being equal, I’d like to have Tarvar back again.  That’s going to mean many multiple teams pass him over for other alternatives, leaving him with a pretty bruised ego, but so be it.  If, however, for the sake of argument we’re talking about a Tarvar-less future, then there are two obvious routes you can take:  bring in a veteran, or draft/sign a rookie.

Seattle’s in a wonderful position in this regard, because we have Russell Wilson.  He’s a solid, franchise quarterback, still in the early-prime of his career.  We don’t necessarily NEED to bring in another starting candidate to push him.  Which means, obviously, backup quarterback is a position that you can save some money on (which is important, considering how much money Wilson is taking in).  Therefore, you won’t see the Seahawks using a high draft pick, and you won’t see them blowing out the bank on free agents like Cousins, Fitzpatrick, Osweiler, or Bradford (who will all be looking for opportunities to start somewhere anyway).

That puts us in the range of a low-round draft pick (maybe 5th or lower), an undrafted rookie, or one of the other veteran options out there on the market.

In looking at those veteran options … woof!  What a bunch of dogs!  When you think of a backup quarterback in our kind of situation (i.e. someone who is a clear backup and has no chance to be this team’s starter when all players are healthy), your BEST CASE scenario is a guy who will fill in for a few weeks and somehow manage to keep the team in/around .500.  A guy like Seneca Wallace back in the day is a perfect example of this.  We were lucky to have drafted him to play behind Hasselbeck, so he was cheap for many years.  If we can somehow do that again, that’s probably the most realistic ideal situation.  Looking at veteran options, someone like … Matt Hasselbeck last year with Indy.  He was able to fill in for a few games and led them to some quality wins!  Then, as the season dragged on, as Luck was unable to return and the games piled up, Hasselbeck was less and less effective.  Old guys getting hit a lot tend to break down, shocking I know.

This post by Field Gulls has a nice little list of free agent quarterbacks.  If you remove Tarvar (for the sake of argument), and you remove the four starting candidates (Bradford, Cousins, Fitzpatrick, and Osweiler), you’re left with the crap of the crap (obviously, it’s still really early in the offseason, and a lot of cuts/trades are out there to be made; this post won’t include guys likely to be released/already under contract).  Among guys with significant starting experience, you’re talking about:

  • Cassel
  • Clausen
  • Gradkowski
  • RGIII
  • Hasselbeck
  • Henne
  • Lindley
  • McCown
  • McCoy
  • Moore
  • Schaub
  • Stanton
  • Vick
  • Weeden
  • Whitehurst
  • Yates

Cassel is old and grossly over-valued.  I have zero confidence in his abilities to guide a team to a .500 record in the absence of this team’s starter (see:  his stint in Dallas last year).  Clausen is horrible; Gradkowski hasn’t had significant starting experience in half a decade; Lindley & Stanton are who we think they are; Vick is as done as done can be; the best thing Whitehurst has ever done is somehow trick Jewel into going out with him (aside from tricking multiple teams into giving him multiple millions of dollars, including the Seahawks, and now this is making me even more upset); and Yates apparently only has value to the Houston Texans, so that’s a stay-away in my book.

Of the guys I didn’t list in that paragraph, Hasselbeck is obviously the most interesting.  Who knows if he’s even in the market to continue his career after the thrashing he took in Luck’s absence last year?  Odds are, since Wilson does a better job of avoiding contact, he probably doesn’t suffer the same lacerated spleen or whatever the hell it was that Luck had.  Then again, if you’re Hasselbeck, would you ever expect a tough hoss like Luck to get injured in the first place?

RGIII might be another someone looking to compete for a starting job.  In fact, I’m almost sure of it, so I don’t know why I kept him here.  Obviously, I worry about injuries with him.  I also worry about his mindset.  By all accounts, he was a quality teammate last year and didn’t cause any trouble in the lockerroom.  But, for a guy drafted as high as he was, who still has a lot of the skills that made him so highly sought after (minus the legs, obviously), he’d make an ideal backup candidate.  BUT, maybe not for the Seahawks.  I just have my doubts as to his willingness to come in and be the clear #2.

If I’m being honest, I don’t totally hate the idea of Chad Henne as this team’s backup.  When he first got a crack to be a team’s starter, it was in Miami in 2009 & 2010.  Those weren’t great teams, but they were sort of middle-of-the-road, .500-ish teams, and he led them to .500-ish records accordingly.  His career started to go down the shitter when he went to Jacksonville, playing on some truly horrendous teams.  On the right team (i.e. on THIS team, the Seahawks), I think Henne could be a .500-ish quarterback again.  He’s going to complete upwards of 57-60% of his passes, and if you instruct him to refrain from taking too many chances, you might be able to coax his interception percentage down to reasonable levels.  He is getting on in age, though, so he’s probably not all that mobile, which obviously is going to be an issue for most of these veterans we’re looking at.

Luke McCown had 1 start in 2015, and played brilliantly in a losing effort.  Against Carolina, he completed 31 of 38 passes for 310 yards and a pick.  Before that, he hasn’t started a game since 2011, so I don’t know what you’d expect here.  That one start for New Orleans really skews his career numbers, but he could be an interesting buy-low candidate with some semblance of upside as a backup.

Colt McCoy might honestly be the best of the bunch.  Drafted by Cleveland, I tend to discount whatever anyone does in Cleveland, as they’ve been a trainwreck ever since the NFL let them back into the league (and for many years before they went to Baltimore to boot).  In 2014, McCoy had a string of games with the Redskins that showed everyone why he was thought of so highly coming out of college, as well as why he’s now exclusively a backup.  He had two and a half really good games (including an impressive Monday night victory over the eventual division champion Cowboys), and a couple of real stinkers (albeit, I believe that last game he was injured and had to leave the game early).  He’s definitely not going to blow anyone away or win any shootouts, but I think he could manage a game effectively well.  What more can you ask for?

Matt Moore has been backing up Tannehill these last few years, and honestly I don’t know how he can stand it.  Moore, in his starting efforts early in his career, was the epitome of a .500 quarterback.  Hovering around 59% completions, with slightly more touchdowns than interceptions.  He strikes me as another semi-ideal candidate.  Like Henne, he’s getting on in years, so I don’t know how mobile he is, and he hasn’t started a game since 2011, so that’s tough.  Maybe he’s like another Whitehurst, who loves being a backup and living in a tropical climate!  If that’s the case, I wonder if Seattle is the right spot for him.

Matt Schaub scares me.  A lot like Vick, I think he’s done.  A lot like Cassel, I think he’s over-valued.  He strikes me as a guy who, personality-wise, wouldn’t fit in on a team with this many alpha dogs.

Brandon Weeden is probably the last interesting name on the list.  He’s young enough to where you don’t totally worry about his durability (even though, let’s be honest, he’s like a tree back there in the pocket).  And, in spite of his Cleveland roots, I think it’s probably set in by this point that he’s going to be a career backup.  Last year was interesting for him, as he was the next man up after Romo went down for Dallas.  He proved to be underwhelming at best, leading to the Cowboys to over-pay for Matt Cassel (who managed to play even worse).  Weeden landed in Houston, where he ran circles around Cassel in his two appearances (though, he ended up relinquishing the job to Brian Hoyer for the playoffs, so make of that what you will).

So, in conclusion, I’ll rank my favorite options for the Seahawks’ backup quarterback:

  1. Talk Tarvaris Jackson into returning for another year
  2. Colt McCoy
  3. Matt Hasselbeck
  4. Rookie QB (either low round pick, undrafted free agent, or guy already on a futures contract)
  5. Brandon Weeden
  6. Henne/Moore (tie)
  7. Luke McCown
  8. Fuck it, give the job to Jon Ryan (also, make sure to re-sign Jon Ryan)
  9. No one/all Wildcat all the time
  10. Schaub
  11. Cassel
  12. Fan (open tryouts every week for a local Seahawks fan)

The Seahawks Are One Of The Best Franchises In Football

When you think of the best teams – and the best-run organizations – in the NFL, you think of New England, Pittsburgh, Green Bay; but Seattle doesn’t immediately come to mind.  If you’re in my age range (mid-30s), you probably still have the moniker of “America’s Team” seared into your consciousness when you think of the Dallas Cowboys.  You’d also probably liken the 49ers, Giants, and various others among the greats.  But the Seahawks?  Nah.  Tucked all the way up here?  Out of the limelight, what with East Coast Bias and whatnot, the Seahawks are middle-of-the-road at best.

Living with this team in the 1990s, “middle-of-the-road” was something to aspire to!  An 8-8 season was considered a success!  But, I think it’s time to come around a little bit.  I did some research (i.e. wasted a bunch of time working on a spreadsheet), and it turns out the Seahawks have been pretty damn great; not just recently, but dating back the last 13 seasons.

I know, it’s a VERY arbitrary starting point.  But, this is a Seattle-centric blog, and the 2003 season is quite significant for this franchise.

Mike Holmgren’s first season with the Seahawks was 1999; he’s generally credited (and rightfully so) with turning around this moribund franchise.  All the old-timers can cling to the mid-80s glory of the Seahawks, but let’s face it, by the time Holmgren was brought on, this team was a laughingstock, or at the very least a non-entity.  This little slice of nothingness up in the Pacific Northwest you didn’t really have an opinion about if you didn’t have to play us regularly (and even then, even teams within our own division had MUCH bigger rivalries with teams other than the Seahawks).  Even though Holmgren led the Seahawks to a division title and a playoff appearance in his first year, I’m reluctant to include that year, or the subsequent three seasons, as he was still mired with a lot of the previous regime’s players.

In 2003, though, everything started to come together.  Matt Hasselbeck was a proven, quality quarterback.  And, the rest of the team was talented enough to push us into perennial division-winner status, as we ripped off five straight NFC West titles.  The Holmgren era, by and large, gets short shrift when compared to the Pete Carroll era, for good reason.  These Seahawks teams, since 2012, have been VASTLY superior, and have had much more success than those Holmgren teams (especially in the playoffs, where it counts more).  But, if you lump these two eras together, you get a good look at what a quality franchise really looks like.

You’ll notice a theme when you look at the great franchises:  they tend to be defined by the head coaches.  The Holmgren Era, the Carroll Era, and so on.  But, really, what we’re talking about is quarterback eras.  The Hasselbeck Era, the Wilson Era.  As you can see from a lot of the crappy teams, quarterbacking is everything in the NFL.  Teams are lucky if they get ONE franchise quarterback in a generation; the Seahawks have had two, and that’s the biggest reason why the Seahawks have been among the greatest teams over the last 13 years.  It’s also why the Seahawks will continue to be great, as long as Russell Wilson sticks around.

From 2003 through 2015, the Seahawks have been the sixth-most successful franchise in the NFL, behind New England, Indianapolis, Pittsburgh, Green Bay, and Denver.  In that Google Spreadsheet I linked to, the left side divides the teams by division; the right side is listed by way of regular season record.  This is some PHENOMENAL company the Seahawks are keeping!  And, when you go down the list, you can see why these teams have had the success they’ve had.  Tom Brady & Bill Belichick; Peyton Manning to Andrew Luck (Indy hitting the lottery twice with those #1 overall picks); Ben Roethlisberger; a seamless transition from Favre to Rodgers.  The only semi-outlier is Denver, who has been blessed in recent seasons by the signing of Manning, and had some other playoff years with Jake Plummer of all people; but, the one thing I would point to is organizational stability.  They had Mike Shanahan for a bunch of those years, and John Elway has been a force as an executive since he took over.

I don’t really have a point beyond touting that the Seahawks are pretty great.  I often come across as a bit of a Debbie Downer, as a result of my sports upbringing and having all success ripped away from me as a fan.  I just think it’s time to appreciate how good this team has been for the majority of my adult life.  When you take it in across the big picture, the Seahawks are fucking awesome, and it’s about time the rest of the nation recognized.

With news of Ken Griffey Jr. being inducted into the Hall of Fame (with a record-setting percentage of votes), it’s given Mariners fans yet another opportunity to reflect on our mid-90s success.  You look at those teams and smile, especially given how bereft we’ve been of baseball prowess in recent years.  You can also look at those teams – with two hall of famers (Griffey and Randy), a should-be hall of famer in Edgar, and another should-be hall of famer in Sweet Lou – and smack yourself as hard as you can on the forehead:  HOW DID WE NOT WIN A WORLD SERIES WITH THOSE GUYS???

But, that’s baseball.  Really, that’s just sports.  Success is fleeting, championships are fucking hard, and the world is a meaningless flat circle.

With the thought of those Mariners teams in your mind, now think of these Seahawks.  From the Holmgren Era, we had a hall of famer in Walter Jones, who anchored one of the best O-Lines in recorded history.  From the Carroll Era, we’re looking at how many possible/probable hall of famers?  Let’s list them off:

  • Earl Thomas
  • Richard Sherman
  • Russell Wilson
  • Marshawn Lynch?
  • Bobby Wagner?
  • Kam Chancellor?
  • Doug Baldwin???

It’s getting a little lean down there at the bottom; I don’t know if any of those last three guys have a legitimate shot at the HOF (they’d probably have to have REALLY extended careers, which I don’t think is necessarily in the cards with the way big hitters like Wagner and Kam play the game; and I just don’t think Baldwin will have the raw receptions/yards numbers compared to other receivers – it’s just hard as a receiver in general in this pass-wacky day and age to crack the hall), but just having three Hall of Famers on your squad is remarkable in its own right (for what it’s worth, I do think all three of Earl, Richard, and Russell will end up making it, assuming their careers aren’t cut short in a hail of concussions).

We’re really fortunate, is what I’m getting at, to be fans of the Seahawks right now.  That’s not to say I’m satisfied, or ready to settle for what we’ve got.  As a fan, you always want more; it’s the nature of the beast.  But, as we head into Wild Card weekend, it’s cool to look back and reflect upon all the greatness we’ve seen.  Here’s to another 13 remarkable years!

Seattle Sports Hell’s Quarterly Power Rankings, Part Deux

A lotta movers and shakers in these rankings over the last 5 weeks!  And, a lotta stayers and stillers in these rankings, particularly at the very top and bottom.  We just finished week 9, so every team has played at least 8 games, and as such is either at or has surpassed the midpoint of the season.  As we head into Week 10, it’s a big, pivotal moment, both for the playoff hopefuls and the bottom-feeders looking to snag that #1 overall draft pick.

It’s also a big week for myself and a few buddies of mine.  We have a 3-year run of Tahoe trips for the first weekend of March Madness that should and hopefully will continue for the duration of our lives, until there is only one (last man standing has to move to Tahoe permanently, and gamble away his 401K in all of our honors … I haven’t discussed this with the rest of the fellas yet, but I’m sure they’ll be on board).  Well, this year, a few of us have opted to shoe-horn in a second Tahoe trip during the NFL season.  Why?  Because none of us know squat about betting on college basketball (the March trip is more a reason to get together and drink our brains out and lose large quantities of money … or hopefully shuffle money through the casinos and come home pretty close to even), but we DO have a pretty good handle on the NFL (or, at least we THINK we do).  As such, we opted for Week 10 to fly back down there.  Leave Friday in the evening, spend all day Saturday watching college football, drinking, and putting the finishing touches on all of our NFL bets, and then spend all day Sunday crying out in anguish as each and every one of our parlays goes down the toilet because Green Bay can’t cover a GOD DAMN SPREAD!

Pardon me.  I’m just trying to harden myself for the worst possible scenario.

Anyway, like I’ve said all along, if we lose big in the afternoon, we’ll just put all of our remaining cash on the Seahawks to beat the shit out of the Cardinals.  TALLY-HO!

  • New England:  8-0, last quarter’s rank: #1
  • Cincinnati:  8-0, #3
  • Arizona:  6-2, #7
  • Denver:  7-1, #4
  • Carolina:  8-0, #11
  • Green Bay:  6-2, #2
  • Minnesota:  6-2, #13
  • St. Louis:  4-4, #12

No question who the top two teams are.  I don’t know how you can’t be on board with Cincy’s legitimacy at this point; Andy Dalton has taken it up another notch, they’re loaded with talent on both sides of the ball, and they’ve beaten enough good teams in tough situations (at Oakland and at Pittsburgh particularly) to eliminate any doubt.  Arizona gets a bump up to #3 simply because I feel if they were to play any of the teams below them on a neutral field, they’d most likely win.  Denver has flaws (particularly with a noodle-armed little so-and-so), Carolina gets a little disrespect here because Cam Newton is careless with the football and that offense is bound to be exposed by a quality defense, and Green Bay’s receivers have been exposed as guys who can’t get open with great regularity (not to mention their defense is who we thought they were).  Minnesota and St. Louis take the big leaps for having outstanding defenses and running games, with suspect quarterback play.  Those teams will make the playoffs IF their quarterbacks can eliminate mistakes.  We’ll see if they’ve got what it takes.

  • Seattle:  4-4, #6
  • Pittsburgh:  5-4, #19
  • Oakland:  4-4, #17
  • New York Jets:  5-3, #8
  • New York Giants:  5-4, #9
  • Buffalo:  4-4, #10
  • Indianapolis:  4-5, #20
  • New Orleans:  4-5, #22

Seattle gets bumped out of the Top 8 for blowing two more huge leads against the Bengals and Panthers, and for looking like respectable garbage in Dallas.  Time for them to shit or get off the pot; if they lose to the Cards, it’s going to be a grim finish.  Pittsburgh can’t seem to keep their quarterback or running backs on the field, but it looks like Ben Roethlisberger won’t be out for too long (if the Seahawks could avoid him in three weeks, that’d be amazing).  Oakland feels like they deserve to be higher, because their offense is a lot of fun.  But, their defense kinda stinks and the only quality win they have on their schedule is a home game against the Jets, where Geno Smith played the majority of the game.  Speaking of the Jets, still like their defense, but they’ve got holes.  If Ryan Fitzpatrick doesn’t stay healthy, it’s all over for them.  The Giants’ only quality win (if you can call it that) is a road win in Buffalo; plus their defense allowed 52 against Drew Brees a couple weeks ago.  Those Bills look pretty great when they play bad teams and Tyrod Taylor’s healthy; otherwise they look pretty mediocre.  Indy spent the whole season getting smashed by better teams until an impressive home win against the Broncos; Andrew Luck started looking like his old self again.  With a BYE week this week, his health should only continue to improve that’s just one less game the team will see him miss as he has a fucking LACERATED KIDNEY.  With a VERY soft schedule going forward, Indy’s playoff chances seem all but assured Indy’s playoff chances rest on Matt Hasselbeck’s very capable 40 year old hands.  The Saints are all offense and no defense.  As such, probably count them out of the playoffs (but they make for some very entertaining games nevertheless).

  • Atlanta:  6-3, #5
  • Philadelphia:  4-4, #25
  • Kansas City:  3-5, #14
  • Washington:  3-5, #16
  • Miami:  3-5, #24
  • Chicago:  3-5, #27
  • San Francisco:  3-6, #26
  • Dallas:  2-6, #23

Atlanta is your biggest dropper, as they’ve laid nothing but turds since the first quarter.  Good for the Seahawks (if we’re stuck rooting for a Wild Card), but bad for their playoff chances.  The best team the Falcons beat all year was the Giants; and they’ve lost two straight against the Bucs & 49ers with Blaine Gabbert.  So … that’s where they are.  The Eagles have a quarterback who can’t challenge you deep, so they’re pretty easy to stop (and ugly to watch); their best win was against the Jets.  The Chiefs had a brutal early schedule, and failed to take full advantage of the gooey middle.  Doesn’t get a whole lot easier the rest of the way; look for the Chiefs to finish right around .500.  Washington is a garbage team and it always surprises me when they ever win.  Miami got their head coach fired, then beat a couple duds, then got demolished on the road in New England and Buffalo.  They’re not going anywhere.  The Bears have looked a little spry lately, but their only impressive win was at home against the Raiders.  The 49ers have given up on Colin Kaepernick, and therefore their season.  Dallas is still waiting for Romo to return in week 11; they’ve gotten exactly zero help from their backup quarterbacks since he’s been gone.

  • Baltimore:  2-6, #18
  • San Diego:  2-7, #15
  • Cleveland:  2-7, #28
  • Detroit:  1-7, #21
  • Tampa Bay:  3-5, #32
  • Houston:  3-5, #29
  • Tennessee:  2-6, #31
  • Jacksonville:  2-6, #30

Baltimore’s defense is terrible and their best wide receiver is out for the year.  On the plus side, they have smart management and will make quality use of their Top 10 draft pick.  The Chargers’ defense is even worse, and their whole team is banged up.  The Browns are just bad, and don’t realize they should probably take the rest of the season to see what they have in Johnny Manziel.  The Lions are even worse somehow and will be cleaning house at season’s end.  The Bucs look a little better, but still lack a quality win, and their defense will always hold them back.  The Texans have as much of a right to be ranked #32 as anyone with their level of quarterback play this year.  Just when Brian Hoyer starts to suck me back in, he crushes all hope in south Texas.  The Titans just won a shootout against the Saints to get out of the bottom spot, but maybe that’s not such a huge feat given the crap quality of the Saints’ defense?  Also, the Titans got their head coach fired.  Finally, I’m putting the Jags back down in a familiar spot where they belong, as the worst team in the league.  I’d have to say it’s unfair, as the Bort has looked better this year, and they’ve been within one score in all but two games (Patriots and Panthers).  But, then again, no one ever said I was smart at this football thing.

Why am I going to Tahoe again?

Predicting The 2015 NFL Season

I love doing this post, I don’t care how wrong I am.  Last year, I was pretty far off in a lot of ways.  Detroit winning their division, Green Bay out of the playoffs entirely, New Orleans as the clear-cut second-best team in the NFC (and maybe NFL), Tampa and Atlanta both sneaking in as wild cards (essentially, I was high on everyone in what would be the worst division of all time – the 2014 NFC South – except the actual division winner).  And, of course, I made the mistake of picking a repeat Super Bowl matchup, which is about the dumbest thing you can possibly do.

I did have this little nugget of wisdom heading into the 2014 season, and if you replace all the Denver parts with New England parts, it rings eerily true:

My thing is – and I’ll deny it to my grave if I’m wrong – I have a SERIOUS nagging worry that the Seahawks and Denver will both make it back to the Super Bowl, but it’ll be the Broncos hoisting the Lombardi trophy while we sit and watch, devastated.

Of course, my official pick was a repeat Super Bowl championship, and we all know how that turned out.

So, let’s turn the page to 2015.  Here are my picks, in all their glory:

NFC East

Dallas
NY Giants
Philadelphia
Washington

Seemingly every year, I find the NFC East to be a crapshoot, where the hottest team in December ultimately wins the division.  That USUALLY means the Cowboys are on the outside looking in, but in 2014, they finally put it all together.  For 2015, I don’t see a whole lotta drop-off.  They still have that offensive line, so their running game should be all right, which means their offense should continue to be the strength.  Do just enough on defense, and I think they’ll take it.

Coming into this month, I would’ve had the Giants as my pick.  I like the way they finished last year; and a full season of Eli to ODB should be gangbusters.  But, I hear too much bad stuff about their defense for comfort (then again, that same bad stuff was said about the Cowboys’ defense last year, and they turned out okay).  I have a hard time trying to peg Philly.  I think they could be as good as a top 2 seed in the NFC, or they could be last in their division with 4 wins.  I choose to believe that Sam Bradford will at some point be lost for the year.  I also believe their defense got lucky on a lot of return TDs last year, and DeMarco Murray is another injury waiting to happen.  Ultimately, all the tinkering will have made them worse.  As for Washington, the less said about them, the better (though, I do believe with their new GM – Scot McCloughan – they have a chance to turn it around in a hurry; so long as Dan Snyder doesn’t fuck things up first).

NFC North

Green Bay
Detroit
Minnesota
Chicago

Well, if I’m going to put the stink on anyone, it might as well be the Packers.  I’ve got them as the biggest challenge to the Seahawks making it to a third straight Super Bowl, and right now, in fact, I have them with the edge for that #1 seed (by way of them hosting us in week 2, and by way of their incredibly easy schedule for a first place team).  The loss of Jordy Nelson for the year isn’t great, but with James Jones back in the fold, they should have enough receivers to get through the year just fine.  One of the strongest Packers teams I’ve seen since they went 15-1.

I still like Detroit – indeed, I like them as a Wild Card pick – and think they’ll have no trouble winning 10 games, even with the losses they’ve suffered on defense.  I like Minnesota to take a step forward, as Teddy Bridgewater gets more comfortable as a passer.  And, I like Chicago to be one of the very worst teams in the entire NFC (and therefore, the world).

NFC South

Carolina
Atlanta
New Orleans
Tampa Bay

I still find this division to be pretty pathetic, and I still doubt the winner of this division will have more than 9 wins.  I don’t like Carolina much, but I like the teams I’ve ranked below them even less.  Atlanta is still far from solid on defense, and they’ve got exactly two good players on offense (Matt Ryan & Julio Jones).  That’s it.  In games it wins, I’m sure the Ryan to Jones connection will be on point.  But, good teams will be able to shut that option down, and thereby shutting down the entire offense.  They don’t have a running game at all, Roddy White is very near retirement, and they’re STILL trying to figure out a way to replace Tony Gonzalez (will the mummy Antonio Gates be a free agent anytime soon?).

I’ve got New Orleans in the 3-hole, but I could easily see them as dead last.  Who are Brees’ options?  Are they REALLY going to devote their offense more to the run?  Do they even HAVE a defense?  I could see this year going sour in a hurry.  Tampa actually has some upside, and if their #1 QB gets the hang of this game, they could approach 6-8 wins.

NFC West

Seattle
St. Louis
Arizona
San Francisco

I’ll get to the Seahawks throughout the week in a series of previews, but suffice it to say, with all the turnover, I still feel the Seahawks are one of the best two or three teams in the NFL.  In a little more shocking news, I finally like the Rams to get over the hump and into the playoffs.  I think this is the year their defense puts it all together.  I don’t like Nick Foles a ton, but he is a starting quarterback in this league, and I’d much rather have him than someone like Cutler, Dalton, Fitzpatrick, Bradford, Cousins, Hoyer, and QB Browns.  Furthermore, I don’t think they’ll have to do much at all on offense to win games this year; I foresee a lot of 16-13 wins, as teams struggle to move the ball.  The schedule doesn’t help them out much early (3 of first 5 on the road, with games vs. SEA, vs. PIT, @ AZ, and @ GB), but after their week 6 BYE, they have a stretch where they play 6 of 9 at home, featuring (vs. CLE, vs. SF, @ MIN, vs. CHI, @ BAL, @ CIN, vs. AZ, vs. DET, vs TB).  I see them winning 7 of those games alone, and with a couple of unmentioned road games against the 49ers and Redskins, it’s not impossible to see this as a 10-win team.

I don’t like Arizona at all.  I think they got incredibly lucky in 2014 (which is a ridiculous statement, considering how unlucky they were with injuries, specifically with the quarterback position) and were not as good of a team as their record.  Carson Palmer is back, but I can’t imagine he has much left in the tank.  They’ve lost a bunch of guys on both sides of the line, and they still don’t have a running game at all.  They might get off to a good start early (home games against the Saints, 49ers, and Rams in the first four weeks, with the only road game being at Chicago), but look for the wheels to come off as that stretch is followed by the following (@ DET, @ PIT, vs. BAL, @ CLE, BYE, @ SEA, vs. CIN, @ SF, @ StL).  I could easily see them losing 6 of those games, and that doesn’t factor in a tough stretch of mostly home games to close out the season (vs. MIN, @ PHI, vs. GB, vs. SEA).  With Palmer surely injured by this point, I could see them losing out and having at least 10-11 losses this year.

And with all of that said, I STILL think the 49ers will be worse!  My hope is that they’re terrible, but not so terrible that they get a Top 5 pick.  Is that possible?  Well, considering all their good people are either retired or playing/coaching elsewhere, we might actually be looking at the future #1 overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft.  Not quite my worst nightmare, but it’s close.  The only things they have going for them is a Week 10 BYE and they get to host us on a Thursday (#ShortWeek).

AFC East

New England
Miami
Buffalo
NY Jets

With Tom Brady embiggened emboldened by the overturning of his 4-game suspension, I fully expect him to lay to waste any defense that comes across his path.  The thing with that is, teams aren’t just going to roll over and die (well, MOST teams; I fully expect the Steelers on Thursday to roll over like the good doggies they are, as I’m playing against my friend in Fantasy Football who’s starting Brady this week).  The Dolphins, Bills, and Jets all have pretty tough defenses.  I don’t expect them to beat the Pats a whole lot, but I’d LIKE to see them knock Brady around, to wipe that smug fucking smirk off his face.  They also face the defenses of Houston, Denver, and Dallas who should all be pretty tough as well.  How they managed to dodge playing the Ravens in the regular season is a crime against NFL scheduling (though, I obviously understand how NFL scheduling works, wouldn’t the hype for that game – which would invariably be played on either a Sunday or Monday night – be deliciously over the top?).

Elsewhere, like the Rams, I think this is the year the Dolphins finally make it over the hump.  Mike Wallace is gone, so that’s addition by subtraction.  I think they have the weapons in both the passing game and the running game to be a consistent force on offense.  With the addition of Suh on defense, that gives their run defense instant credibility, forcing other teams to be one dimensional.  That formula (combined with playing the NFC East and AFC South) should be more than enough to get them to 10 wins and a wild card.  I like Buffalo for approximately 7-8 wins (mostly due to their very-strong defense and lack of a quarterback), and I like the Jets for even less than that (mostly due to their less-strong defense and even BIGGER lack of a quarterback).

AFC North

Baltimore
Pittsburgh
Cincinnati
Cleveland

The Ravens won the Super Bowl in the 2012 season, then suffered an immediate setback thanks to the Joe Flacco contract.  They shed older players, reloaded through the draft, and now they’re back once again, ready to contend for more championships.  You know I love me some Seahawks front office, but I have only the utmost respect for the Ravens’.  And, not to get off on a tangent here, but I like the Ravens’ front office even more than the Patriots’.  Yeah, the Pats may have been more successful over the last decade and a half, but they’ve also been cheating throughout, and most importantly, they’ve EASILY had the lowest level of divisional competition by a fucking thousand miles.  If you swapped the Ravens and Patriots (so the Ravens were in the AFC LEast and the Pats were in the AFC North), I can make a pretty easy argument for the Ravens being the last great dynasty in the NFL, and the Pats still being pretty good, but nowhere near 6 Super Bowl appearances in 15 years.

Like the Giants, if you’d asked me to rank the divisions a month ago, I probably would’ve put Pittsburgh on top.  Again, you gotta like the way their offense played down the stretch.  But, that defense is clearly rebuilding, and they’re unlikely to remain as lucky with injuries as they were in 2014 (their center is already out for at least half the year, being put on the IR-designated to return).  If I had to predict the 2016 division champions, I’d probably tell you the Steelers will finally be ready.  But, as it stands now, I think they win no more than 9-10 games, and I think that’s still not good enough to crack the Wild Card.  I like Cincy to fall below .500 for the first time since Andy Dalton came into the league.  I also think Andy Dalton’s stranglehold on the starting QB job is in jeopardy and he starts losing some snaps to A.J. McCarron (Wave of the Future!).  Finally, I think Cleveland is a mess and that’s the end of that analysis.

AFC South

Indianapolis
Houston
Jacksonville
Tennessee

Indy is quickly taking over the reign of Worst Divisional Opponents In The NFL from New England, which is pretty easy to do when you’re good and the rest of the teams in your division don’t have any quarterbacks.  I think Hoyer and that Texans defense will be good enough to get to around 8 wins.  I think Jacksonville will make some strides towards .500 this year, but I don’t believe in Bortles as far as I can throw him; he’ll be another bust.  And the Titans are too young to do much of anything.  Mariota being Jake Locker 2.0 is probably their worst nightmare.

AFC West

Kansas City
Denver
San Diego
Oakland

I think we’re reaching the end of the line for Peyton Manning.  I like them to sneak into a wild card spot, but I’m not even really high on that, to be honest.  This is sort of a hedge pick; if Manning stays healthy, and the defense keeps up their end of the bargain, the Broncos could be divisional winners.  If Manning gets hurt, I think they could fall as far as last place in the division.  So, I decided to meet in the middle – maybe Manning misses a bunch of games in the middle of the season and they get him back for a hot stretch run in December.  Either way, I feel pretty good about the Chiefs grabbing control of the division.  Most people blame Alex Smith for their offensive woes last year; I blame their sub-pedestrian receivers (led by the corpse of Dwayne Bowe).  With a REAL number one receiver in Jeremy Maclin, I think this offense hums along like those old Andy Reid Philly teams.  And, considering their defense is pretty fearsome, I wouldn’t be shocked if this team won 12 games and a BYE in the first round of the playoffs.

I could see the Chargers sneaking past the Broncos for that final wild card spot, but I dunno.  The Chargers seem to be a team that always has all the promise in the world, but ultimately falters to a .500 finish.  I’m going to say their defense isn’t up to the charge (!), their running game isn’t where it needs to be, and Rivers doesn’t quite have the receiving weapons to get the job done.  As for the Raiders, it all hinges on Derek Carr.  That’s a scary proposition.

NFC Playoffs

  1. Seattle
  2. Green Bay
  3. Dallas
  4. Carolina
  5. St. Louis
  6. Detroit

AFC Playoffs

  1. New England
  2. Indianapolis
  3. Kansas City
  4. Baltimore
  5. Denver
  6. Miami

Wild Card Round

Dallas over Detroit
St. Louis over Carolina
Kansas City over Miami
Baltimore over Denver

Divisional Round

Seattle over St. Louis
Dallas over Green Bay
New England over Baltimore
Indianapolis over Kansas City

Championship Round

Seattle over Dallas
Indianapolis over New England

Super Bowl

Seattle over Indianapolis

In 2012, the Colts – with rookie Andrew Luck – won 11 games, made the playoffs, and lost in the first round to the Ravens.  In 2013, the Colts won 11 games again, made the playoffs again, beat the Chiefs in the Wild Card round, and lost to the Patriots in the Divisional round.  In 2014, the Colts won 11 games one more time, made the playoffs, beat the Bengals in the Wild Card round, beat the Broncos in the Divisional round, and lost to the Patriots in the AFC Championship Game.  My point being:  the Colts have gotten better every single year under Andrew Luck.  Their first year was just seeing what they had – and what they had was the next Peyton Manning.  The next year was seeing if the first year wasn’t a fluke.  Last year was taking that next step towards being elite.  THIS year is where they put it all together.

They’ve got Andre Johnson to go with T.Y. Hilton, which is a vast improvement over Reggie Wayne towards the end of his career.  They’ve got the steady presence of Frank Gore who’s been nothing if not healthy and is dying for a chance to win a ring.  And, FINALLY, I think they’ve made real strides to toughen up that defense.  I think this is the year they finally get over the hump of the Patriots running the ball down their throats.  I think they’ve got the complete package – even an elite shutdown corner in Vontae Davis (if he can stay healthy) – and I think this is the year they make their reemergence into the Super Bowl.

And, with all that being said, I think they’re going to get beat by the Seahawks.  You could argue that the first 10 games of the 2014 season saw the Seahawks wrapped up in a long term Super Bowl Hangover.  I think there’s no such hangover this year.  Everyone has their eyes on that prize and they’re going to do anything and everything to make people forget about The Play Call That Shall Not Be Named.

I have no such doubts about this year like I did going into last year.  I’m not QUITE as confident as I was going into the 2013 season (where I knew as soon as the 2012 playoffs ended that we’d be the team to beat), but that team was as complete as can be on both sides of the ball.  This team is almost there, but I worry about a few growing pains early.  If we beat the Rams and Packers in the first two weeks, all doubt will be washed away going forward.

The course for a Seahawks Dynasty is still very much on track.

Russell Wilson Signed His Contract Extension

So, now we can all relax a little bit.  You know, until we get more rumors and conjecture about Bobby Wagner’s negotiations.  Or until the next guy threatens to hold out or otherwise demands a new contract.  Or until we start hearing about guys in the locker room being disgruntled about the deals other people are getting around them.

It’s 4 years, $87.6 million.  It’s a good thing because it’s a fair deal for both sides, it sets up Wilson to be this team’s quarterback for the bulk of his career, and it also sets him up to be in a position in 2020 to get a spiffy new deal.  Other than that, I don’t really care about how the contract breaks down.  It sounds like Wilson’s getting a lot of that guaranteed, but when you think about it, as long as he stays relatively healthy, the whole fucking thing is going to be guaranteed.  Russell Wilson isn’t going anywhere.  He’ll see every dime of that $87.6 million and then some.  He’s going to be a very wealthy man for the rest of his life.

The greatest thing about this is that it’s finally over.  We don’t have to talk about Russell Wilson’s contract again for another 3-4 years.  We won’t have this looming over the entire season (I honestly don’t know how the people of Baltimore survived that contract season for Joe Flacco; I guess winning the Super Bowl probably helps).  Really, after the excitement of this morning, that’ll be it.  We’ll be on to the issues at hand:  Training Camp, and the upcoming 2015 NFL season.

I like Wilson.  I like having him around.  I think he’s going to be a good one for the duration of his career.  I’m glad his contract isn’t going to hamstring the organization capwise, and I’m glad that he’s probably happy making just a tick under Aaron Rodgers.  I won’t argue with which quarterback deserves the most money or whathaveyou, but it sort of feels right that Rodgers is still the highest-paid QB in the NFL.  Mostly, I’m just glad this deal got done before Andrew Luck did his extension.  I’d hate to see that pissing contest, I’ll tell you that much.

For Whom Might The Seahawks Trade Russell Wilson?

‘Tis the season for rampant speculation on matters we know nothing about!  It’s a glorious time to be alive, what with the Internets and whatnot.

I read this over the weekend from Mike Florio with Pro Football Talk.  It references another option in the Russell Wilson Contract Saga that nobody’s really talking about:  in lieu of signing him, or franchising him, the Seahawks might feel like they need to trade him.

For the record, this is the last thing I want to see happen.  I’m of the school of thought that you do NOT trade your franchise quarterback for anything!  Unless he’s too old and broken down, and even then I’d be pretty sad to see him go.  Nevertheless, I was reading that story and it got me to thinking.  I’m not so much interested in the super-bounty of draft picks, but I am interested in the part where it talks about, “the Seahawks could send Wilson to another team for its starting quarterback.”

So, consider that the premise for this post:  who would the Seahawks realistically get in return for a Russell Wilson?

Before we get started, I agree with Mike Florio in the article:  regardless of what happens, I 100% doubt that the Seahawks are trading Russell Wilson in 2015.  Even if we’re a billion dollars apart in our contract terms, I still think we ride this season out and hope for another ring.  So, what we’re looking at – in this hypothetical world where the endgame is Russell Wilson being traded – is the Seahawks putting one of the franchise tags on him, then sending him away.

So, I’m going to go through all the quarterbacks who are either starting for their teams, or are in some kind of a timeshare/training camp battle because none of them on that particular team are all that good.

Here we have a list of quarterbacks whose teams would never trade them to us:

  • Aaron Rodgers
  • Andrew Luck
  • Joe Flacco
  • Matt Ryan
  • Cam Newton
  • Ryan Tannehill

Rodgers, I feel, is pretty obvious:  he’s the best quarterback in the league and I don’t think Green Bay is in for an over-priced step down.  Luck’s not quite there yet, but he clearly WILL be the best quarterback in the league, and I would wager sooner rather than later.  Joe Flacco is already a Super Bowl-winning quarterback; I don’t see Baltimore giving him up.  You could argue he’s making too much money and looking to shed some salary, but remember in this scenario:  Russell Wilson is looking to be the highest-paid quarterback in the history of the game.  I think Ryan, Newton, and Tannehill are too young, and they’ve just gotten paid.  Plus, I don’t think those teams could afford to take the cap hit that Wilson’s going to bring (especially Miami, what with Ndamukong Suh making all the money he’s making).

Next up, quarterbacks whose teams ALMOST CERTAINLY won’t trade them:

  • Tom Brady
  • Ben Roethlisberger
  • Tony Romo
  • Eli Manning
  • Matthew Stafford

With Brady and Roethlisberger, I just think they’re too tied to their respective teams and cities.  But, those organizations have been known to be ruthless with their veterans, so if they felt like either one might be slipping, and they had a chance to get a young stud QB in return, they MIGHT pounce on him.  I’d put Romo and Manning in the same boat (too tied to their teams & cities), just on a lesser scale because they’re not as good.  Stafford’s interesting because I think he’s right on the edge of being good and being overrated.  Seemingly every year I have a different opinion about him.  Ultimately, I think Detroit feels he’s good enough to get the job done, and likely wouldn’t trade him away for a guy like Wilson.

The Division Rivals:

  • Carson Palmer
  • Nick Foles
  • Colin Kaepernick

The overarching theme of this section is:  under no circumstances do you EVER trade your franchise quarterback to a team in your division.  Putting that aside, I think all three of these teams would trade their starters for Russell Wilson in a heartbeat.  Carson Palmer is obviously too old and too injury prone to be counted upon.  Nick Foles is interesting, but ultimately not worth facing Wilson twice a year (especially with their offensive line and defense overall, I think the Rams would be a total dynasty with Wilson at the helm).  And honestly, Colin Kaepernick might be the best fit in the league for our offense – given his scrambling ability.  I think if you reined him in, forcing him to be a little more conservative with his throws, he wouldn’t be much of a step down at all compared to Wilson.  Hell, under Harbaugh he went to three straight NFC Championship Games; I think he’d do okay here as well.

The Young Ones:

  • E.J. Manuel
  • Geno Smith
  • Johnny Manziel
  • Teddy Bridgewater
  • Jameis Winston
  • Ryan Mallett/Tom Savage
  • Blake Bortles
  • Marcus Mariota
  • Derek Carr

Manuel, Smith, and Manziel are just too bad.  No way the Seahawks take them in return.  I think the Seahawks would think long and hard about Bridgewater and Winston, but if Bridgewater makes steady improvement in 2015, I don’t think the Vikings will want to get rid of him (and if he takes a step back, I don’t think the Seahawks would want him).  The Bucs are just too committed to Winston as part of their rebuild, so I don’t think he’d work out in this scenario.  Mallett and Savage are a couple of unknowns, but ultimately I don’t think they’ll be all that great as starters.  I feel like Bortles and Mariota are a couple of future backups being thrust into roles they’re not good enough for.  I think the Seahawks might take Carr in a heartbeat, but I don’t think the Raiders will give up on him (for the record, I’m pretty high on Carr and think he’s going to have a great second year).

Too Over-The-Hill:

  • Peyton Manning
  • Matt Cassel
  • Josh McCown

Pretty much says it all, if you ask me.  Manning is signed through 2016, but you have to wonder if he’s even going to be around.  He almost opted to retire THIS year.  After getting banged around in Gary Kubiak’s offense (where I FULLY expect to see Manning seriously injured at some point), I’m almost convinced he’ll be done.  Either way, I don’t think you can throw Russell Wilson away on a guy who’s going to be 40 next year, who MIGHT have 1-2 years at the most left in his career.  Cassel and McCown aren’t even worth the words.

Too Terrible:

  • Sam Bradford/Mark Sanchez/Matt Barkley/Tim Tebow
  • RGIII/Kirk Cousins
  • Jay Cutler
  • Brian Hoyer

Speaking of “aren’t even worth the words,” we have the poo-poo platter that the Eagles have in camp this year.  It should go without saying, but Bradford is TOO DAMN INJURY PRONE.  The rest of those guys are the total beans and the Eagles are going to be lucky to win five games this year.  RGIII is also too injury prone, plus he’s a terrible leader who doesn’t follow directions, plus he’s just a bad all around quarterback.  Cousins is Just Another Guy, same as Hoyer.  Jay Cutler seems enticing, but that’s just because of that cannon he’s got for an arm.  Squint a little more closely and you’ll see he’s easily the second coming of Jeff George (not a compliment).

The Definite Possibilities:

  • Drew Brees
  • Philip Rivers
  • Alex Smith
  • Andy Dalton

I know Brees and Rivers feel like those guys up top who are too tied in with their teams and cities (Brees especially).  But, I have my reasons for having these guys down here.  For starters, I think New Orleans is in full on rebuild mode.  Brees isn’t getting any younger, and the Saints are probably five years away from being a championship-type team again.  They MIGHT decide to give Brees a chance to win a title elsewhere.  And, considering we’ve already done that deal for Jimmy Graham, it honestly might be the most perfect fit we could hope for.  On the downside, Brees will be 37 years old next year, and it’ll be the last year of his current deal.  At best, you hope he’s got three more elite years left after 2015, but realistically it might be closer to one or two.  A trade for Brees gives us the best “Win Now” option.  When you consider Pete Carroll’s on the short contract (by design, as he might opt to retire or move to another team), Brees might be the next best thing to just keeping Russell Wilson forever.

Philip Rivers will only be 34 in 2016, so you gotta like your chances with him longer term.  Honestly though, this probably doesn’t work because 2015 is the final year of his deal, and I don’t know if they can franchise tag him or not.  The other variable is whether or not the Chargers are moving to Los Angeles.  Will Rivers want to stay?  If not, maybe they work out a sign & trade with the Seahawks.  The downside to that is, I’ve read reports that should Los Angeles get two teams – which seems to be the way this is going – there’s the possibility of the Chargers moving to the NFC West.  And, as I said above, you do NOT trade Wilson to a team in your own division – even a team that might one day move to your division.

Alex Smith might be the best type of guy we can hope for.  He’ll be 32 next year, and 2018 is the final year of his deal.  He’s not making all that much money – which would allow us to spread the wealth to other positions.  He’s the consummate Game Manager:  doesn’t make mistakes, is decently mobile, is comfortable playing in a run-first offense.  The downside is, obviously, his downfield throwing.  We wouldn’t get those chunk plays that we like to get.  But, with weapons like Jimmy Graham around him, and with the emergence of some of our younger receivers, I think he’d be good enough to get the job done.  He sort of reminds me of a Brad Johnson type.  Brad Johnson won a title with the Bucs, why couldn’t Alex Smith do that with the Seahawks?

Andy Dalton is the guy I most fear the Seahawks pursuing.  He’ll be 28 years old next year, and his deal runs through the 2020 season.  He too isn’t making any serious kind of money (his biggest cap hit is in the final year, and it’s only $17.7 million).  By 2020, that’s going to be peanuts!  He’s shown a propensity to hit on the deep ball, but that’s with the likes of A.J. Green.  More importantly is Dalton’s shoddy decision-making and his inflated sense of self-worth.  He’s one of those guys who thinks he’s better than he really is, which is going to make it difficult when he can’t make all the throws he needs to make.  As it is, he’s had more career meltdown games than you like to see; what’s he going to be like in three years when he’s that much older and beaten down?  Furthermore, playing behind our offensive line, how’s he going to handle the near-constant pressure?  I think Dalton is a guy the Bengals would gladly unload for the chance to sign Wilson (yes, even with how stingy their ownership is; I think they’d feel like Wilson would be worth it).  And, I think, if the Seahawks didn’t get blown away by any other deal they saw, they’d pull the trigger on a Dalton-centric trade.  I just hope like hell this never comes to fruition.