My Top 25 All Time Favorite Seattle Seahawks

With Beastmode’s retirement this week, I thought I’d take stock and reflect upon where he lands among my all time favorite Seattle Seahawks.  While he’s my favorite over the last quarter century, he comes up just short of my all time fave.

I should probably point out that my knowledge of the Seahawks prior to the 1990s is pretty limited (I was born in 1981).  As such, you won’t find many of the old-timers.  Indeed, only 5 of my 25 played prior to 1990, and none of those five are named Dave Krieg, Jim Zorn, or Curt Warner.  Zorn was a guy I never saw play, Warner was always hurt when I started watching football, and the years I watched Dave Krieg were those loser years where he heavily contributed to his standing as one of the most fumble-prone quarterbacks in NFL history.  If I never again see Dave Krieg raise his arm back to pass, only to watch in horror as the ball gets flung backwards thanks to his criminally under-sized hands, it’ll be too soon.

Among the actual Honorable Mentions are the following:

Ricky Watters – a guy who reminds me a lot of Beastmode, but unfortunately didn’t play with us quite long enough to merit breaking through; Chris Warren – very underrated back, who unfortunately was saddled by a lot of mediocre Seahawks teams; Eugene Robinson – solid safety for some solid defenses; Michael Sinclair – second on Seattle’s all-time sacks list; Cliff Avril – who could potentially climb into the Top 25 one day, if he continues to produce the way he has; Red Bryant – mostly a fan favorite type, who I was happy to see find a role in the early Pete Carroll years; Robbie Tobeck – helped solidify the greatest offensive line in team history during the Holmgren years; Steve Hutchinson – who gets a bad rap even though it was Tim Ruskell who dicked him over first; Rocky Bernard – an underrated interior defensive lineman who this team would kill to have right now; Sam Adams – someone who blossomed after he left the Seahawks (and someone who I randomly have a signed jersey from); Bobby Engram – who was Doug Baldwin before Doug Baldwin; Chad Brown – who gets overlooked a little bit because he came from the Steelers, but still played quality football for his Seahawks tenure; Rufus Porter – a speed rusher off the edge and another fan favorite type; Zach Miller – who I’ll always respect for his toughness even though he got injured a lot; and Joe Nash – who would be my #26 if this list went that long, because he was an awesome nose tackle for this team who played here FOREVER.

Anyway, without further ado, My Top 25 All Time Favorite Seattle Seahawks:

1.  Steve Largent – He was this team’s first Hall of Famer, and when he retired, he had most – if not all – of the wide receiver records before they were broken.  When I started getting into football in the late 80s, there was every reason to be a fan of some other team in some other city, as those Seahawks teams were okay, but nothing special.  The 49ers had Joe Montana and Jerry Rice, the Raiders (who were a particular favorite among my elementary school classmates) had Bo Jackson (’nuff said), the Redskins, Oilers, Dolphins, and Bengals were all loaded with talent.  I don’t totally remember my thinking on this one, but I’m certainly convinced now that I would never have become a Seahawks fan if it weren’t for Steve Largent.  I mean, yeah, they’re the local team, so it’s easy to say I’d just stick with that as the reason, but throughout the 1990s, I used to mock this team relentlessly, and would frequently bet my family members that the Seahawks would lose (and won quite a bit of cash in the process, for a kid in the 1990s anyway).  But, I could always hang my hat that at one point, Steve Largent played for the Seahawks and was the best player at his position.  Also, didn’t hurt that I got to meet him at an autograph signing at the Tacoma Mall.  It was many hours of waiting in line, but it was worth it.

2.  Marshawn Lynch – Unlike many of the guys on this list, who were either career Seahawks, or played many more years here, Lynch became a favorite of mine in a little over 5 and a half seasons.  His bruising style of play, all the highlight runs, and his abilities as a receiver and blocker make him not only the most complete running back in franchise history, but one of the very best overall players we’ve ever seen in a Seahawks uniform, including the other Hall of Famers coming up next on this list.

3.  Cortez Kennedy – It’s hard to pick one over the other when it comes to Tez and Big Walt; both are consummate bad asses.  While you could make the argument that Walter Jones was the best player at his position in NFL history (which I do), I don’t think I’d necessarily put Cortez Kennedy as the best defensive tackle in NFL history (though, to be fair, I haven’t tried ranking them all, so who knows?).  What I will say is that what won me over in Tez’s favor is his Defensive Player of the Year Award in 1992.  First of all, it’s hard as fuck for a DT to win that award (there have only been two other players since 1992 at that position to win that award – Dana Stubblefield & Warren Sapp).  Secondly, no player at any position has ever won the award while playing on a shittier team (the Seahawks were 2-14 that year).  But, such is the fierce brutality that was Cortez Kennedy (who ranks 4th all time in franchise history for sacks); he finished that season with 14 sacks, 4 forced fumbles, and a whopping 92 tackles.  Let me repeat:  92 tackles!!!  There are linebackers who don’t get that many tackles, and here we are, looking at a DT who got 92 tackles.  Just insane!  To compare, Stubblefield in 1997 had 15 sacks, 3 forced fumbles, and only 48 tackles; Sapp in 1999 had 12.5 sacks, 4 forced fumbles, and only 27 tackles (that wasn’t even Sapp’s best season, but regardless, he never surpassed 50 tackles in a season, so that point is moot).  Tez frequently battled double- and triple-teams throughout his career, and was still a God damn hurricane to deal with in the middle.  It’s just too bad he couldn’t be rewarded with more playoff appearances.

4.  Walter Jones – If you went pound for pound, you’re probably talking about the very best player the Seahawks have ever had.  With Bad-Assery being a theme, they don’t get much more bad-ass than this guy.  He was repeatedly franchise tagged, repeatedly held out in training camp and in the pre-season, then showed up right before the regular season started not only in tremendous shape, but ready to start from Game 1.  Then, when you tack on his training regimen of him pulling Cadillacs to get ready for the season, and I think I need to go lie down for a while because I just got winded writing that statement.

5.  Matt Hasselbeck – This is probably where things start to get a little more fluid.  In five years, I would anticipate someone like Russell Wilson will have surpassed someone like Matt Hasselbeck.  Indeed, many fans might disagree with me, but I gotta admit I’m still a pretty big Hasselbeck fan.  He led this team to its first Super Bowl appearance, which is always going to be huge, even if the result isn’t what we wanted.  Where his talent may be lacking compared to a guy like Wilson, his personality and charm in the media more than makes up for it.  It’s always WAY more entertaining to hear a Hasselbeck interview than a Wilson interview.  I know, that means little compared to on-field accomplishments, and as I mentioned above, Wilson will probably pass him in a few short years.  But, for now, I hold Hasselbeck in higher esteem.

6.  Richard Sherman – This future Hall of Famer has nowhere to go but up on this list.  Pretty unlikely leader in the clubhouse of Legion of Boom participants, but Sherm has been the most consistently elite through the 2015 season.

7.  Shaun Alexander – He gets a bad rap for not being Marshawn Lynch, but I think a lot of fans forget just how great he really was.  If he didn’t start breaking down towards the end, he was well on his way towards getting into the Hall of Fame.  As it stands, he was one of the best two or three running backs in the NFL for a good five-year period.  He should be a shoo-in for the Ring of Honor, if the Seahawks ever get around to putting more people in there.

8.  Brandon Mebane – Love this dude.  He won’t be a Hall of Famer, he won’t have his number retired, he might not even make the Ring of Honor when it’s all said and done.  But, he was one of the better Tim Ruskell draft picks.  As a third rounder, he got on the field right away and has been a staple for this defensive line ever since.  Nine years in, he looks as good as ever, and I hope the team retains him so he can retire as a Seahawk.

9.  Kenny Easley – He’s the only player on this list who I don’t really remember watching play live.  So, I’m really basing his ranking on highlights and on testimonials from players around the league who talk about this guy with some of the highest reverence I’ve ever seen.  If his career wasn’t shortened by kidney disease, he’d be in the Hall of Fame right now.  Compared to Ronnie Lott, he’s the only other Seahawk to win the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year award, in 1984, when he had 10 interceptions (2 returned for touchdown).  As it stands, he’s a Ring of Honor guy, and the best safety in franchise history (eventually to be surpassed by the next guy on this list).

10.  Earl Thomas – He’s our Ed Reed.  Our Troy Polamalu.  Our All Pro Machine striving to be the best this game has ever seen.  The only thing that could cut him short on his quest is if he succumbs to injuries.  His dedication to the game and being the best puts him in my Top 10.

11.  Russell Wilson – Seems criminally low, I know.  I don’t think it’ll be too much longer before he’s in my Top 10.  Maybe even one more season.  The way he’s playing right now, and with Lynch’s retirement, this will be HIS offense.  If he manages to carry this team to unknown levels of awesomeness, I think he’s destined to skyrocket up my list.

12.  Jacob Green – He was an absolute monster throughout the 80s, racking up the most sacks in franchise history with 97.5 (and that doesn’t even include his first two seasons, when the NFL didn’t record sacks as an official stat).  Certainly one of the more underrated defensive ends of the 80s.

13.  Joey Galloway – Probably another controversial pick – especially this high in the rankings – but I don’t care.  He only really played 4 seasons for the Seahawks before holding out for 8 games in his fifth year before forcing Holmgren’s hand, but those four years were outstanding!  He was an elite return man from the get-go, and a big play machine on offense as well.  If we only could have paired him with a competent quarterback (he was saddled with Rick Mirer, John Friesz, and Jon Kitna before we were able to get Warren Moon in here for a couple of injury-plagued years towards the end of his career) he might have been even better, for as crazy as that sounds.  Still, even the way he left things wasn’t so bad, as we ended up getting two first round draft picks (one of which we used to nab Shaun Alexander, with the other being traded for multiple picks so we could get Koren Robinson, Heath Evans, and some backup offensive lineman I’ve never heard of).

14.  Doug Baldwin – Another player whose ranking could go way up on my list if we manage to keep him on the team beyond his current contract.  He’s proven to be a clutch possession receiver, as well as a guy capable of making bigger plays downfield, and as of 2015, a touchdown monster.  To think an undrafted receiver who has started since his rookie year could still be getting better in his fifth season is pretty amazing.  I want to see the Wilson to Baldwin connection continue for at least the next half decade, if not longer.

15.  Golden Tate – Maybe another controversial pick, but I like who I like, and I like me some Golden Tate.  I kind of dismissed him when he left for Detroit, as we still had Percy Harvin, after all.  But, when Harvin proved to be a huge chump, I’ve longed for Tate’s big play ability ever since.  His loss is now mitigated by the drafting of Tyler Lockett, but there’s still a lot to like about a guy like Tate who was another outsize personality on a team full of ’em.  A guy who got under the skin of opposing defenders (like the fucking Rams, for instance).  And a guy who played bigger than his size.  Not extending him, in favor of bringing in Harvin, is a move this team continues to regret.

16.  Brian Blades – The wide receiver parade marches on, with Blades, who played significant minutes for a rookie under Chuck Knox, and who eventually went on to replace a legend in Steve Largent as this team’s #1.  He was never super flashy, and only made one Pro Bowl in his career, but he’s this team’s second-leading career pass catcher.  He has the team’s second-most receiving yards, and is fifth in touchdowns.

17.  K.J. Wright – He cracks this in large part due to recency bias.  He’s been here for five years, has played all three linebacker spots, has only missed a small handful of games, and should be in the Top 10 in franchise history in tackles by this time next year.  I love his smarts, his professionalism, his toughness, and the fact that on a defense full of superstars, he just quietly goes about his business of being consistently great.  He’s never been to a Pro Bowl, and probably never will, but when it’s all said and done, he’ll go down as one of the best linebackers in Seahawks history.

18.  Marcus Trufant – He was rarely flashy, but he was a first round pick and a starter from day 1.  He made a Pro Bowl in 2007 when he had 7 picks, and it doesn’t hurt that he was a local kid who made good.  And, not for nothing, but we went to the same high school and played on the same Freshman football team (he was the superstar, I was the third string right tackle who never ACTUALLY got to share a field with him on gameday, because I was terrible).

19.  Michael Bennett – In three short years, Bennett is already #10 on Seattle’s all time sacks list.  Of course, he’s so much more than sacks, but that’s still pretty impressive.  With his ability to play both inside and outside, against the run and against the pass, he’s probably the most talented defensive lineman in franchise history (just behind Tez, that is).  If we can keep him happy and playing through the end of this contract – or onto another if he keeps producing – he could easily shoot up this list as well.

20.  Kam Chancellor – He took a bit of a hit this year with his holdout.  I don’t mind a guy who holds out of training camp and/or the pre-season, but I tend to draw the line when a guy starts missing regular season games (and starts costing us those games with his absence).  Truth be told, his 2015 was far from ideal; but, that doesn’t wash away the previous four years of amazingness.  If we can make him happy again and keep him around a few more years, he’ll return to his rightful place among the Top 15 or Top 10 on this list.  For now, it’s sort of Wait & See mode, for fans and the franchise alike.

21.  Lofa Tatupu – His career was relatively brief, but man did he shine bright!  In only six years (one of them severely injury-marred), he made three Pro Bowls, one first team All Pro, and cracked the top 10 in tackles in Seahawks history.  THIS is the best draft pick of Ruskell’s tenure, and a big reason why this team made the Super Bowl during the 2005 season.

22.  Darrell Jackson – Fourth in franchise history in receptions, second in touchdown receptions, and the number 1 receiver for most of Matt Hasselbeck’s time here.  His reputation was somewhat tainted by drops early in his career, but I feel he more than made up for it from 2003 through 2006.  Another guy who never made a Pro Bowl, and will probably never make the Ring of Honor, but he’s a big part of those Holmgren teams that brought the Seahawks to a level of respectability we’d never seen to that point.

23.  John L. Williams – Listed as a fullback, but he was really a do-it-all type of back.  He had hands like a receiver (3rd all time in receptions, 6th all time in receiving yards in Seahawks history), had quicks like a running back (fifth all time in rushing yards in Seahawks history, 9th in rushing touchdowns), and the size of a bruising fullback (5’11, 231 lbs), he could really do it all.  In an era that pre-dates these types of specialty backs who are equally as good at catching as rushing (LaDainian Tomlinson, Marshall Faulk, etc.), John L. Williams was truly a trailblazer.  He’s securely third place in franchise history in total yards from scrimmage (behind bellcow back Shaun Alexander with 10,940 total yards, and Hall of Fame receiver Steve Largent, who had a total of 13,172 yards), ahead of other, more notable, running backs like Curt Warner, Marshawn Lynch, and Chris Warren.  John L. played largely a reserve role, as a third or fourth option for this offense for most of his tenure here, but he played that role splendidly.

24.  Bobby Wagner – He’s been great since his rookie year, I only expect further greatness going forward.  He’s another who could easily skyrocket up this list, the longer he remains the quarterback of the greatest defense we’ve ever seen.

25.  Jermaine Kearse – What can I say?  He’s another local kid, another undrafted free agent, who worked his way through the practice squad into being this team’s #2 receiver.  Doesn’t hurt that he’s a Husky.  Also doesn’t hurt that he’s made some of the biggest catches in franchise history, including the 4th down touchdown against the 49ers in the NFC Championship Game, and the game-winning touchdown against the Packers the very next year in the NFCCG (not to mention the super-human TD catch in Super Bowl XLVIII, and the beyond-human bobbling/diving catch in Super Bowl XLIX).  He might have played his last down in a Seahawks uniform, and if so, I’ll be sad.  But, I’ll also be happy for a guy who started at the bottom and worked his way into a contract that was too big for the Seahawks to match.

Revising My All-Time Seahawks Greats

The last time I did something like this, we were in the middle of the offseason in 2011.  In all likelihood, I was looking for some way to fill space in the dreadful month of March when all the other local sports are effectively shut down and you can only say so much about Spring Training.

You may recall at the time that we were just coming off Pete Carroll’s first year with the team.  We made the playoffs at 7-9 and upset the reigning champion Saints in the Beastquake Game.  It was all very fun, but built on a house of cards.  The roster was aging, as leftovers from the Holmgren Era clung for dear life.  We drafted some promising rookies before the 2010 season – including Russell Okung, Earl Thomas, Golden Tate, Walter Thurmond, and Kam Chancellor – which may go down as the all-time greatest draft class in franchise history (and, indeed, probably ranks pretty high in NFL history as well).

To be fair, my list of the greatest Seahawks of all time was pretty solid for what it was.  But, it’s CLEARLY out of date now.  So, I thought I’d go back and compare what my list would be today vs. what it was nearly four full years ago.  Let’s go to town:

Quarterback

2011:  Matt Hasselbeck, Dave Krieg, Jim Zorn
2014:  Russell Wilson, Matt Hasselbeck, Dave Krieg

You’re going to see a pattern here as we go forward:  better players from the current era will be pushing down players from previous eras.  It’s difficult to compare someone like Wilson – who is working on his third year in the pros – against someone like Hasselbeck who played for us for so much longer.  But, in this case, I’m going to keep it nice and simple:  Russell Wilson led us to three playoff appearances, two division titles, two #1 seeds, and one Super Bowl title (pending what happens in this year’s playoffs).  Wilson is a winner, and he’s the guy who’s starting for me in my hypothetical Greatest Seahawks Team Of All Time.

Running Back

2011:  Shaun Alexander, Curt Warner, Ricky Watters
2014:  Marshawn Lynch, Shaun Alexander, Curt Warner

I opted to throw out the numbers here.  If I went strictly by numbers, Shaun Alexander would still be the clear starter for this team.  9,429 yards and 100 TDs with the Seahawks for Alexander against 5,930 yards and 54 TDs with the Seahawks for Lynch.  The numbers say it’s a no-brainer.  But, I’m going with my heart on this one, and my heart says BEASTMODE!

Wide Receiver

2011:  Steve Largent, Brian Blades, Bobby Engram, Darrell Jackson, Joey Galloway, Paul Skansi
2014:  Steve Largent, Brian Blades, Bobby Engram, Darrell Jackson, Joey Galloway, Golden Tate, Doug Baldwin

So, the thing is, it’s going to be VERY difficult to overtake the top three (and damn near impossible to overtake the top receiver on my list, because Largent is my favorite), what with how this offense is constructed and executed.  Furthermore, I realize Skansi was a reach, but I’m not sure I had a whole lot to work with.  Also, with Golden Tate playing for the Lions now, he’s obviously stuck where he is, with no chance for advancement unless he – by some miracle – returns to the Seahawks.  Doug Baldwin, on the other hand, if he sticks it out long term, could be a quick riser.  We’ll see where we are in another 3-4 years.  I could see someone like Baldwin topping out in the top 2 or 3.

Tight End

2011:  Itula Mili, John Carlson, Christian Fauria
2014:  Zach Miller, Itula Mili, John Carlson

The tight end position for the Seahawks throughout history is a vast wasteland of sadness.  Numbers might say that Jerramy Stevens deserves to be in the top 3, but numbers can suck my dick because Jerramy Stevens can suck my dick.  Zach Miller is a lynchpin for this offense who’s equal parts offensive lineman and soft-hands-pass-catcher.  He’s adorbs and I hope he gets well soon and sticks around another couple years.  I also hope someone like Luke Willson improves his catching ability, because I could see him being a fast riser here too.  It’s pretty sad that someone like Carlson is still hanging around on this list, what with how short his time was with us.

Fullback

2011:  Mack Strong, John L. Williams
2014:  Mack Strong, John L. Williams

While the fullback position is going the way of the dodo bird, I still got love!  And, while I think the world of Michael Robinson as a leader, a special teams stalwart, and a powerful lead blocker for Beastmode in previous seasons (before being forced into retirement and a new career in the media), there’s just no way his impact surpassed what Mack Strong and John L. Williams were able to do.  And, not for nothing, but I think those two names are going to be 1 & 2 on this fullback list for the duration of my lifetime.

Offensive Line

2011:  Walter Jones, Steve Hutchinson, Robbie Tobeck, Bryan Millard, Howard Ballard
2014:  Walter Jones, Steve Hutchinson, Robbie Tobeck, Bryan Millard, Howard Ballard

So, the thing here is:  I’ve made a conscious decision to list a man for every spot along the line (as opposed to, say, listing the five best linemen regardless of where they played along the line).  That having been said, if I felt like cheating (or, if I had the power of some sort of god), I’d probably look to put Russell Okung in at right tackle (because, let’s face it, he nor anyone else will be supplanting hall of famer Walter Jones).  Max Unger is a curious omission, but quite frankly, he’s been too injured in his stint as this team’s starting center to get serious consideration.  An interesting case will be J.R. Sweezy.  If he sticks around and continues his trajectory of improvement, we could be looking at a switch at right guard.  But, for now, Sweezy’s a little too loose in pass protection to take over that spot.

Defensive End

2011:  Jacob Green, Michael Sinclair / Jeff Bryant, Phillip Daniels
2014:  Jacob Green, Michael Sinclair / Jeff Bryant, Michael Bennett

Chris Clemons gets an honorable mention here.  I’ve split these up by first and second team.  Green & Sinclair are the clear 1 & 2 in Seahawks history and will be for the foreseeable future.  Michael Bennett jumps up into the second team because he’s been a force since his return and can pretty much do it all.  I opted to put him in with the ends because, to be honest, there are too many good defensive tackles, which you will see shortly.

Defensive Tackle

2011:  Cortez Kennedy, Joe Nash / Rocky Bernard, Sam Adams, John Randle
2014:  Cortez Kennedy, Brandon Mebane / Joe Nash, Rocky Bernard

The only reason Mebane was left off of my 2011 list is because he hadn’t quite played long enough, and because there was a question about whether he’d be sticking around long term.  Luckily for us, Carroll & Schneider saw fit to extend him, which has been a boon to our line.  You get a great sense of his value with him out of the lineup, as there are many things we just can’t do without him.  It has taken a rotation of 3-4 guys to try to make up for Mebane’s absence, which is about as impressive as it gets.

Also, can you IMAGINE what a defensive line would look like with a healthy Mebane in at nose tackle and an in-his-prime Cortez playing right alongside him?  Partner those two up with literally any of the defensive ends I’ve listed above and you’re talking about a powerhouse line on par with some of the best in the history of the NFL!

And, for the record, I understand going with a 3-man second team in 2011 was a total cop out.  Glad Mebane is here on this list to clean up my mess.

Linebacker

2011:  Chad Brown, Lofa Tutupu, Rufus Porter
2014:  Chad Brown, Bobby Wagner, K.J. Wright

So, yeah.  In my hypothetical defense here, I’m sticking with just the lone middle linebacker, but I’ve opted to essentially interchange who plays at outside linebacker.  In other words, I haven’t differentiated between strongside and weakside.  K.J. Wright’s primary position is weakside, but I THINK that’s where Brown played as well.  What puts Wright ahead of most other linebackers in Seahawks history is his versatility.  He can play all three spots, he’s been a stud since he joined the team, and he was just extended long term.  For the record, if I was picking linebackers regardless of position, Lofa certainly makes this list.  But, Bobby Wagner is lethal and should be for many more years than Tatupu.

Cornerback

2011:  Dave Brown, Marcus Trufant, Shawn Springs
2014:  Richard Sherman, Dave Brown, Marcus Trufant

This one is kind of irritating.  Right off the bat, Richard Sherman is the greatest cornerback we’ve ever had, full stop.  Dave Brown is a Ring Of Honor member and a VERY good corner in his own right.  Before Sherm came along, it was Dave Brown and everyone else a distant second.  Now, if I’m going by any cornerback who has ever put on a Seahawks uniform, then I’m looking at either Brandon Browner or Byron Maxwell over Trufant in a heartbeat (gun to my head:  I probably pick Maxwell because he can play inside and outside corner spots).  BUT, Trufant had a Ring Of Honor career in his own right, and Maxwell will only have a year and change as a starter before he moves on to another team (as the Seahawks surely won’t be able to afford to extend him).  And, not for nothing, but Trufant in his prime was as good as any other corner, so I don’t feel SO bad putting him third on this list.  Nevertheless, if the Seahawks do somehow find a way to squeeze blood from a stone and extend Maxwell, I’m coming back to this page and revising it immediately!

Safety

2011:  Kenny Easley, Eugene Robinson
2014:  Earl Thomas, Kenny Easley, Kam Chancellor

If I’m being 100% honest, I’m probably not splitting up Earl & Kam if I’m starting up this team.  But, I know I’m not the only one who wonders just what it would look like if Earl played alongside Kenny in his prime.  SICK!

Special Teams

2011:  Norm Johnson (Kicker), Rick Tuten (Punter), Steve Broussard (KR), Nate Burleson (PR)
2014:  Steven Hauschka (Kicker), Jon Ryan (Punter), Leon Washington (KR), Nate Burlson (PR)

I hope I’m not totally jinxing things, but I’m taking Hauschka as my all-time kicker.  Jon Ryan is sort of a no-brainer (he is, after all, the MVP of our hearts).  Leon Washington, while short in his time with us, made a HUGE impact (plus, let’s face it, the Seahawks don’t have a long and storied history with kickoff returners; also, Percy Harvin can suck it).  And the challengers to Nate Burleson’s throne never quite did enough (in this case, Joey Galloway – who didn’t last long as a return man – and Golden Tate – who was awesome, but is no longer with us, and wasn’t quite as dynamic).

So, there you have it.  A blog post for Thursday.  Giddyup.

Exorcising The Demons Of Our Super Bowl XL Defeat

February 5, 2006.  We’re coming up on the 8th anniversary of that fateful day in Seahawks history.  Do you remember what you were doing?  Because, I remember what I was doing.  I was in my house in West Seattle, with my roommates and some other friends.  Pretty small gathering.  I was in my rocking chair, with a fridge full of Miller High Life at my disposal.

I drank 18 beers that day.  I want to say that’s a personal high, but then again I’ve never really sat there and counted.  This total was unmistakable though, as I found them the next morning, in a semi-straight line next to the chair I had sat in throughout the entire afternoon.

According to the day-after notes I took, on my old LiveJournal account, I started drinking around noon and was most likely passed out by 8pm.  I had one of the worst hangovers the next day that I’ve ever endured.  How I made it through even PART of a work day is mind-boggling to me now.  In 2006, I would turn 25, so maybe that explains it a little bit.  Couldn’t do that today, that’s for damn sure (which is why I have requested the Monday after this upcoming Super Bowl off of work).

I don’t remember a lot about the experience of actually watching the game, though.  Obviously, I remember seething with hatred.  At the refs, at Jerramy Stevens.  At the Pittsburgh Steelers.  I remember being with friends who weren’t nearly as rabid in their Seahawks fandom as myself (but, then again, I have a real problem, so don’t consider that comment in any way detrimental to their character) and I vaguely remember feeling some of their eyes on me, as if to say, “Who is this crazy person I’ve chosen to make my friend?”

I remember, in an important situation, when the Seahawks were in need of a big play, a long bomb to Jerramy Stevens.  At first, the announcers called it a catch.  It LOOKED like a catch, if only for a moment, because he had his back to the camera when he fell.  In my excitement, I jumped up out of my chair, with a fist raised to the air, unleashing a raucous cheer … and in the process, my fist collided with the ceiling and punched a hole through it.  A moment later, it was revealed that Stevens, in fact, dropped the ball.  Not only did that drive stall, but now I had a hole in the ceiling that would come out of my share of the deposit (the house was a rental).

I remember after the game, when all was said and done, not saying one word to anyone else at our little gathering.  I left the room, called a friend of mine (who happens to be a Steelers fan) to grudgingly congratulate him, and that’s it.  That’s all that I remember.

***

After Super Bowl XL, I avoided any and all highlights of that game.  If it popped up on television, I’d change the channel.  If they talked about it on the radio, I’d turn the fucking thing off.  I also avoided any and all Internet articles on the subject.  I tried my damnedest to pretend the whole fucking thing never existed.  And, aside from a few drunken debates among friends, I did my best to never bring it up.

As a kid, I remember watching TV after a major sports championship and seeing those Sports Illustrated commercials.  You know, they offer a year’s subscription to their magazine, and if you bought RIGHT NOW, you’d get this deluxe, embossed keepsake of whichever sports team just won their respective championship.  I remember watching those commercials and thinking, “One day, a Seattle team is going to win a championship, and I’m going to be the first one to call that number and order that subscription so I can get that keepsake.”  I thought it might happen for me in the mid-90s with one of those Sonics teams.  Then, I thought it might happen for me at the turn of the century, with one of those Mariners teams.  Then, I thought SURELY I’ll get my chance with the Seahawks after Super Bowl XL!  And, every year of my life, I’ve been denied this opportunity.

Just once, I’d like to have that keepsake in my home.  I’d like to buy that DVD of the championship game.  I’d like to be able to reflect back upon just ONE season with joy in my heart.  And not a sense of loss.

I don’t know if there are Seahawks fans out there who bought that Sports Illustrated subscription after the Steelers beat us, just to have something saying that we WENT to the Super Bowl, but I know there are fans out there who are just happy to be involved.  Who would like to see the Seahawks win it all, but are just as satisfied with “having a good season”.  Those people – while maybe they’re not psychotic about sports like I am – make me sick.

It has taken me nearly 8 years to get to the point where I was able to re-watch Super Bowl XL.  Honestly, I’m only just now capable of this feat because my Seahawks have finally made it back.  I figure, if I’m ever going to be able to let this thing go, I’m going to have to sit there, watch the whole thing, and try to keep an open mind.  Maybe not ALL of the calls by the refs were horrid.  Maybe it wasn’t so much the Seahawks making mistakes as the Steelers just out-playing us.  MAYBE, the Steelers actually did deserve to win that game.

So, over the last week, in two separate sittings, I sat there and watched this game.  For the record, the first half was so brutal, I had to give myself a few days before I could come back and watch the second half.  I originally intended to do some sort of Sports Guy Running Diary of this thing, but that flew out the window pretty quick.  Instead, I took copious amounts of notes, which I’ll get into right now.

***

For starters, I pulled this video from the Internet.  It had the ABC video feed, but they dubbed it over with the Pittsburgh Steelers radio announcers.  Right off the bat, I was annoyed.

Before I get into the actual notes of the thing, if you wanted to perfectly sum up Super Bowl XL, I don’t think I can say it any better than this:

To score points in an average football game, normally you have to punch the ball into the endzone (for a touchdown), kick the ball over the goal post (for a field goal), or tackle the quarterback/running back in his own endzone (for a safety).  However, if you scored Super Bowl points based on your effectiveness of driving the football between the 30’s and then failing miserably, the Seahawks of Super Bowl XL would be the greatest Super Bowl team known to mankind.

So, let’s just get into this.  The Seahawks got the ball first and, if you remember anything about Mike Holmgren-coached teams, you remember that he likes to script his first 15 or so plays to start the game.  I don’t know why.  I don’t remember it working predominantly more than it failed; I feel like it’s a 50/50 endeavor.  If you succeed on that first drive, then it’s because you prepared really hard?  But, if you fail, then what?  I don’t understand the rationale behind it either.  Essentially, you’re saying, “We’re going to run these 15 plays in order, regardless of the situation or the defense in front of us.”  Yet, if it works so well, why wouldn’t you script the first 30 or 45 plays?

Whatever.  Anyway, in the first couple minutes of the game, Seattle moved the ball down the field with authority.  Quick passes, quick huddles, quick snaps.  Everything quick, everything in a nice little rhythm.  We got to midfield and on 2nd & 9, Matt Hasselbeck overthrew Darrell Jackson – who was wide open at the 35 yard line of Pittsburgh – which would have given us a first down and a lot more.  We got sacked on third down and that was that.  Tom Rouen punted the ball into the endzone.

As I go along, I’m going to track all the Seattle Mistakes, as well as all the times the Seahawks were screwed over.  In the first drive, we had two big mistakes:

  • Hasselbeck overthrew a wide-open Jackson
  • Rouen punted the ball into the endzone

On Pittsburgh’s first drive, our defense was strong, holding them to a 3 & Out and one net yard gained.

Possession #2 – Started at our own 36 and we quickly moved into Pittsburgh territory.  Again, very quick pace.  It’s startling to watch, after these last two years of the Seahawks slowing things down to a turtle’s pace.  Darrell Jackson caught a ball that would have put us into field goal range, but there was a holding call on Chris Gray.  On a repeated viewing, this looked to be a legit call.  He got there late on a stunting linebacker on the right edge.  This led to 3rd & 16 and a poor throw by Hasselbeck into massive coverage (which should have been picked off).  This was followed by another fucking punt into the endzone.  Seattle fuckups:

  • Legit holding call on Chris Gray
  • Punt #2 into the endzone

On Pittsburgh’s second possession, they ran the ball twice and threw an incompletion for another 3 & Out.  Roethlisberger had all day, but just made a bad throw.

Possession #3 – Booming punt was returned to the 49 yard line by Peter Warrick.  Remember that guy?  I sure as shit didn’t.  Anyway, two plays into the drive and we were in field goal range.  Darrell Jackson was REALLY having a day, tying a then-Super Bowl record of 5 catches in the first quarter.

Next play:  offensive pass interference on Darrell Jackson, which would have been his sixth catch of the quarter AND a touchdown.  If I’m going to be honest with you:  it’s a bullshit call.  WHO calls that?  Did Jackson stick his arm out?  Yes.  Did he push off with that arm?  No fucking way.  Did he gain an unfair advantage by putting that arm out there?  No fucking way.  The Steeler who he supposedly interfered with (known as #28 because I don’t care to learn the man’s name) was in a TERRIBLE position to make a play.  28 got caught standing in the back of the endzone looking into the backfield.  Also:  the ref didn’t even begin to throw the flag until Jackson had secured the ball and 28 started complaining like a bitch.  If the ref sees a foul, fine, throw the flag.  But, don’t let the emotions of the game lead you to throw the flag late.  Either you saw something that should have been penalized, or you didn’t.  If you did, then throw it IMMEDIATELY!

I don’t think that flag gets thrown today.  Even the Steelers radio guys thought that was a ticky-tack call!  I’m not even shitting you!

Nevertheless, we still had 1st and 20.  We were still more or less in field goal range.  There were ample opportunities to get that yardage back and have a reasonable chance at a touchdown.  So, what did we do?  TWO SLOW-DEVELOPING STRETCH RUNNING PLAYS IN A ROW!!!

I like Mike Holmgren.  I think he did more for this city and this franchise than any other head coach, maybe with the exception of Lou Piniella.  But, I’ll be God fucking damned if Holmgren didn’t make some BAFFLING play-calling decisions in his career.  Are you fucking SHITTING ME?  I know our offensive line was good and everything, but why do you run practically the same play twice when it didn’t work the first time AND YOU NEED 20 FUCKING YARDS FOR THE FIRST DOWN???

I’m telling you, that actually makes me more infuriated than the bogus pass interference call.  3rd & 23 (so we LOST three yards on those two runs).  In this situation, there are two things you can do:  go conservative to try to better your position for a field goal, or go for the knockout.  I love me some Matt Hasselbeck, and the next play is exactly why:  fade pass into the right corner of the endzone.  D.J. Hackett actually had two fucking hands on the ball, but couldn’t come down with the catch.  There was incidental contact by the Pittsburgh defender, but he was facing the direction of the throw, so probably a good no-call.  Either way, we ended this drive up 3-0 when we should have been up 7-0.  Seattle fuckups:

  • Holmgren’s play-calling on 1st & 20
  • D.J. Hackett dropping a touchdown

Referee fuckup:

#1.  Lame offensive pass interference on Jackson that should have been a no-call.

Pittsburgh’s third possession ended the first quarter with a third straight 3 & Out.  I’m trembling with rage at this point, considering we ONLY had a 3-0 lead.  Feels like it should have been 21-0, but every drive has seen us shoot ourselves in the foot.

Possession #4 – Another booming punt by the Steelers, which Warrick returned into Steelers territory.  Except … you guessed it.  Holding penalty on #35 brought it back.  This was probably the weakest holding penalty I’ve ever seen, as repeated viewings show he hardly put a hand on the guy.  Cost us a good 30 yards of field position.

Still, Hasselbeck was on point, quickly getting us up near midfield.  Shaun Alexander ripped off a couple of nice runs that got us to 3rd & short.  For some reason, we took Alexander off the field, but that really doesn’t matter, because Matt Hasselbeck was dropping dimes.  He made an excellent throw to Jerramy Stevens about 20 yards down field, who caught it, but got hit immediately and had the ball pop out.  He absolutely should have come up with that play.  Professionals make that catch!  He had it in both hands, tucked it into his right arm, and that’s when the hit came & knocked it out.  It was very nearly a completion and a fumble, but he never made a “football move” in my opinion.  This drive finished with a third punt into the endzone.  Seattle fuckups:

  • Jerramy Stevens Drop #1
  • Tom Rouen Shitty Punt #3

Referee fuckup:

#2 – Phantom holding call on the Seahawks’ punt return.

The Steelers finally got their first first down of the game at 11:15 to go in the second quarter, on a completion on 3rd & 8 with fabulous coverage by the Sehawks.  Considering to this point, the Seahawks have had the ball four times, moved the ball fairly well each time, and only came away with 3 points is more than a little disconcerting.

We ended up biting on an end-around to Hines Ward for 25 yards to put the Steelers around midfield, and on the play Marquand Manuel was injured.  That’s something to keep in mind, because we were already thin as it was in the secondary, and because Manuel would not return to the game.

On the very next play, however, a deep ball by Roethlisberger was badly underthrown and picked off by Michael Boulware.

Possession #5 – 3 & Out.  We were short of converting that by mere inches.  And, of course, when we NEED a big, booming punt out of Tom Rouen, he kicks a low, short line drive.  Fuck me?  No, fuck YOU, sir!

On Pittsburgh’s next drive, we had them in third & long, but somehow lost Hines Ward, who caught a shovel pass and converted.  From there, Roethlisberger hit a seam pass deep into Seattle territory.  Marcus Trufant was lined up a MILE in front of the guy, to allow him to make an easy catch for a big gain.  Remember, this was our BEST cornerback at the time.  If the 2013 Seahawks played corner that poorly, I’d have a fucking heart attack.

Next up, Hines Ward dropped what would have been a highlight-worthy catch at the right sideline of the endzone.  At this point, the second-year Roethlisberger was looking more and more comfortable.  This was a lucky break for the Seahawks, because Hines definitely had a chance to make the catch.  Offensive pass interference followed (didn’t see it, they never showed a replay), followed by a sack back at the 40 yard line.

This led to 3rd & 28.  They were out of field goal range, so we were probably expecting some sort of 10-yard checkdown.  The line flushed Ben out of the pocket to his left, then he unloaded a ball all the way down to the Seahawks’ 3 yard line, which was miraculously caught by Hines Ward for the first down.  MOTHER OF GOD!  What the Hell is going on here???  There were three Seahawks around him, yet not one of them could make a play.  There are no words.

A steady diet of The Bus followed, netting 1.5 yards and running the clock down to the 2-minute warning.  This led to yet another fuck up by the refs:  bootleg by Roethlisberger (designed run) for a touchdown.

Here’s the thing:  like the pass interference call on Jackson earlier, if you see something, CALL IT IMMEDIATELY!  You know what I saw on this play?  I saw the line judge raise one hand in the air, as if to signal fourth down.  As he ran down the line towards the pile, he switched his call and put both hands in the air signifying touchdown.  Do you know what happened in these seconds between the 4th down call and the touchdown call?  Roethlisberger – who landed with the ball in his gut, while half of his torso was over the line – discreetly moved the ball over the goalline.  You can see on the reverse view that shows the ball, the ref ran into the shot, and he only had one arm in the air until Roethlisberger moved that ball.

Of course, in reality, it was as close as a play gets.  I could look at that play 50 times and flip-flop back and forth as to whether that ball crossed the line or not, but that’s not the point.  The point is:  if the ref calls it 4th down, they won’t overturn it on replay.  If the ref calls it a touchdown, they won’t overturn it on replay.  There’s no concrete evidence either way, so that initial call is CRUCIAL.  And that particular ref didn’t stick with what he saw initially.  He pussed out and called it a touchdown after Ben moved the ball.  From how he landed, if you just saw his body and nothing else, you’d think, “Surely he scored on that run.”  Except, when the Seahawks defender stopped him, his helmet knocked the ball down around Ben’s gut.  The ball wasn’t positioned on his body like it normally would have been.  The ref was fooled, he fucked up, and that’s that.

Seattle fuckups:

  • Allowing Pittsburgh to convert 3rd and 28

Referee fuckup:

#3 – Switching his call halfway down the line after Ben moves the ball across the goalline a la Vinny Testaverde.

Possession #6 – 2-minute offense, just after the 2-minute warning.  Pittsburgh squib-kicked and we returned it to the 40 yard line.  But, of course, they called holding.  On #57.  He didn’t hold anyone.  How do I know that?  Because he didn’t BLOCK ANYONE.  I don’t know if anyone else held on that play, but 57 sure as shit didn’t.

Almost immediately, we got the yards back and drove up near midfield.  Our offensive line was holding up well against their blitzes as we moved into Steelers territory.  There was a deep ball up the right sideline to Jackson that would have been a touchdown, but Jackson was careless with his footwork and was rightly called out of bounds.  He got his left foot down, his knee grazed the pylon, but his right foot landed totally out of bounds.

Then, for some insane reason, we opted to run the ball up the gut for four yards with 40 seconds left.  AND THEN WE LET THE CLOCK RUN DOWN TO 13 SECONDS BEFORE PITTSBURGH CALLED A TIME OUT???  What the tap-dancing FUCK?

Part of that is on Hasselbeck totally not giving a shit about the clock winding down as he’s changing the play at the line, but most of that is on another Holmgren play-calling brain fart.  Seriously?  It’s a 2-minute offense and you’re running the ball up the gut?  And then you DON’T call a time out when Hasselbeck is clearly freaking out about something he’s seeing from Pittsburgh’s defense?  Bad Holmgren.  Bad.

Once again, we aired it out to Jackson down the right sideline, but the pass was offline and led him out of bounds.  Probably not the best decision by Hasselbeck, when just getting ten yards would have been more helpful.  But, what do you expect him to do when his coach doesn’t put the team in a position to succeed by running the fucking ball with 40 seconds to go on the clock?

That led to a 54-yard field goal that Josh Brown pushed wide right.  Seattle fuckups:

  • Some of the worst clock management I’ve ever seen
  • Poor footwork on Jackson’s part on that first deep pass
  • Poor decision on Hasselbeck’s part to not check down for some extra yards for the field goal

Referee fuckup:

#4 – Phantom holding call on the kick return.

Halftime.  7-3 Pittsburgh.  Legitimately, the Seahawks missed out on 10 more points in that half (4 for the bullshit P.I. call on Jackson, 3 on the Jerramy Stevens drop that would have put us in field goal range, and 3 on that drive before half).  Should have been 13-7.  Should have been a lot of things.

Pittsburgh got the ball after halftime and on second down, Willie Parker ran up the gut for 75 yards and a touchdown.  14-3, Pittsburgh.  Seattle fuckups:

  • Linebackers were swallowed whole
  • Safety (Manuel’s replacement) bit ridiculously hard on a cut inside before Parker bounced it out into the clearing
  • Overall shit defense from A to Z on that play

Possession #7 – Good first drive out of the half by the offense.  There was another deep ball to Jerramy Stevens who dropped it again.  This one would have made it first and goal.  The fucking thing hit him right in the chest.

Still, we drove it into field goal range.  On 3rd & 5, Hasselbeck was pressured into throwing quickly, took a shot down field, and it landed incomplete.  Josh Brown, this time, pulled the field goal wide left.  He was 1 for 3 at this point.  Seattle fuckups:

  • Jerramy Stevens Drop #2
  • Poorly kicked field goal

On Pittsburgh’s next possession, on 3rd & 4, Hines Ward totally shoved a defender in the face to get open.  No flag, first down.  They got deep into Seattle territory – 3rd & 7 inside our 10 yard line – and Roethlisberger made the worst throw I’ve ever seen, on a short out route to the right side.  #31 for the Seahawks jumped it and ran it all the way back to Pittsburgh’s 20 yard line.

Referee fuckup:

#5 – No offensive pass interference on Hines Ward on a third down conversion

Possession #8 – We gained four yards on the first two plays, then on 3rd & 6 from the 16, Hasselbeck hit a wide open Jerramy Stevens for a touchdown.  14-10, Pittsburgh.

Pittsburgh’s next possession was a 3 & Out, where they ended up running all three times.  Looked like they wanted to protect Roethlisberger’s ego there instead of giving him a chance to atone for his mistakes.

Possession #9 – First play would have been at least 10 yards if not more, but of course, Jerramy Stevens dropped it again.  This drive ended up as a 3 & Out and Rouen had another short, shitty punt.  Seattle fuckups:

  • Jerramy Stevens Drop #3
  • Tom Rouen Shitty Punt #AllOfThem

Pittsburgh came back with another 3 & Out as Roethlisberger overthrew an open Hines Ward.  Seriously, does ANYONE want to take control of this shitty game?

Possession #10 – Peter Warrick let the punt bounce at the 20 yard line, where it rolled all the way down to our 2.  What’s it like to have a good punter?

It’s really nice to have the best left side of an offensive line in the history of the NFL, though, because the 2 yard line became the 7 yard line on one play.  Ryan Hannam was now in at tight end, because JESUS CHRIST JERRAMY STEVENS SUCK A DICK.  We got all the way back to midfield on some more quality throws.  Then, a third down conversion to Engram took it down to the 30 yard line, followed by a couple of solid Alexander runs taking it inside the 20.

And, like clockwork, after the Seahawks did so well to move the ball down the field, they started shooting themselves in the foot.  This time, the edge rusher for Pittsburgh got an INSANE jump, moving into the neutral zone just as the ball was being snapped.  He happened to be rushing on Sean Locklear’s side, who had no choice but to hold or let Hasselbeck get killed.  The refs saw the hold and called it.  Where this hurt, of course, is that on the pass, Hasselbeck actually completed a ball to Jerramy Stevens down to the 3 yard line.  Instead of first and goal, with Alexander running it in all but certain, it was 1st & 20 at around the 30 yard line.

Next play:  Tobeck got abused and Hasselbeck got sacked.  2nd & 25, we ran a draw play that gained a good 9 yards or so.  Alexander would have had a lot more, actually, but the Pittsburgh defender horsecollar tackled him.  Refs missed it, but the Pittsburgh broadcasters sure didn’t, and wondered why a flag wasn’t thrown.

On 3rd & long, Hasselbeck threw deep again, and this time was bit for it, getting picked off.  He was eventually called for a “low block” on the return, even though he was trying to make a tackle on the play, and even though he hit THE GUY WITH THE FUCKING BALL and not any other Steeler.  #Refs.  Seattle fuckups:

  • Warrick letting punt go down to 2 yard line
  • Holding that negated a 1st & goal
  • Interception, throwing into heavy coverage, not allowing your team a chance for the field goal

Referee fuckups:

#6 – Did not call the horsecollar tackle
#7 – Penalizing Hasselbeck for a low block on an interception return when he went in to make a tackle.

On the Steelers’ next possession, they converted on third and short just past midfield.  Then, they ran an end-around pass from Randle-El to Hines Ward for a 43-yard touchdown.  Seattle fuckups:

  • Safety bit hard on the play-action
  • Linemen didn’t keep contain on the end-around
  • Allowed a fucking WIDE RECEIVER to throw the ball to another fucking wide receiver!

Possession #11 – It’s 21-10 with 9 minutes to go.  We once again got the ball quickly to midfield, then the drive stalled with Hasselbeck taking a sack on third down by an unblocked cornerback.  We opted to punt the ball with 6:30 to go in the game (obviously – AND I MEAN OBVIOUSLY – the punt was kicked into the endzone).  Seattle fuckups:

  • Letting an unblocked cornerback sack your quarterback
  • Punting when you’re down by 11 points with 6 and a half minutes to go in the game

Pittsburgh’s next possession had a real chance to be over with a 3 & Out.  On 3rd & 6, the refs missed a delay of game penalty, opting to give Pittsburgh the time out, even though Roethlisberger didn’t call the time out until the clock had already reached zero.  They converted that on a wide receiver screen and bled more clock.

The Bus ran it down to a 3rd & 2, as the Seahawks were using their time outs, then we fell for another quarterback bootleg keeper for the first down.  The Steelers ended up running the clock down to the 2-minute warning before they had to punt.

Referee fuckup:

#8 – Not calling Delay of Game on 3rd & 6, which would have made the next play much more difficult.

Possession #12 – The Seahawks got the ball into Pittsburgh territory on a couple of plays before clocking it with 1:00 to go.  Hasselbeck missed Engram, who was open down the sideline, for a would-be big gainer.  Not that it matters, but after that Hasselbeck was throwing short outs for some reason.

The final Seahawks play of the game:  a deep ball, near the goalline, which was dropped by Jerramy Stevens.  Because what more fitting way to end this game, except for maybe another shitty Tom Rouen punt?

By my count, here’s the happy totals:

  • 23 total mistakes by the Seahawks
  • 8 bullshit calls/non-calls by the refs
  • 5 of the worst punts you’ve ever seen
  • 4 legitimate, should-have-had-them drops by Jerramy Stevens
  • 3 legitimately huge plays by the Steelers (3rd & 28, 75-yard TD run, 43-yard WR-to-WR TD pass)
  • 3 bonehead coaching decisions by Mike Holmgren
  • 2 critical offensive holding penalties that were good calls by the refs and drive-killers for us
  • 2 missed field goals by the supposed “most clutch kicker in Seahawks history”
  • 1 interception deep in the opposition territory to cost us at least three points

Add it all up, and you’ve got one of the worst Super Bowl performances in the history of the game.

Make no mistake, the Steelers were NOT the better team on this day.  They had a bunch of 3 & Outs, Roethlisberger had some baffling throws, and for this supposedly-vaunted defense, they sure as shit let the Seahawks move the ball up and down the field at will.  We had nearly 400 yards!  Their wide receivers had more touchdown passes than their quarterback!  This was NOT a good Steelers performance.  For as great as they were in the three AFC playoff games leading up to this, they looked like they were lost and overwhelmed in the Super Bowl.

Had the Seahawks capitalized – like they should have – the Steelers would have lost this game, and Bill Cowher would have been The Coach Who Chokes In Super Bowls.  And I’m not even saying the Seahawks needed to play a perfect game!  Just take back a small fraction of those mistakes, and a small fraction of those bullshit referee decisions, and you’re looking at a comfortable win for the Good Guys.  Just about EVERYTHING had to go against us at critical times for us to blow this game.

In the end, there’s not one person or entity to blame.  The refs are to blame as much as Jerramy Stevens, Mike Holmgren, and our own offensive line.  This was truly the perfect storm, and a nasty way to introduce Seahawks fans to participation in the NFL’s greatest spectacle.

So, did you hate reading this as much as I hated researching it and writing it?  Good.  Let’s keep this game in mind as we head into Sunday:  we CANNOT have a repeat of this performance.

Comparing The 2005 Seahawks To The 2013 Seahawks

Last week, we more or less giddily looked forward to the “Big Game” on February 2nd.  This week, I’ve decided to take a step back and review the last time the Seahawks were in a position to give all of our lives meaning.

The 2005 Seahawks didn’t come out of nowhere, per se, but they also didn’t look like a team that would be bound for the Super Bowl.  In 2003, the Seahawks finished second in the NFC West (to the Rams), and lost in the Wild Card round to Green Bay (take the ball, score, all of that nonsense you wish you could forget).  In 2004, the Seahawks won the NFC West, but lost again in the Wild Card round, this time to the Rams (who, sadly, managed to beat us three times that season).

Suffice it to say, these Seahawks were starting to remind everyone of the early George Karl Sonics teams (good enough to win divisions and make the playoffs, but ALWAYS with the first round exits).  In a way, 2005 was a make-or-break year for Mike Holmgren.  Obviously, he had already lost his General Managing duties by this point, but if there was another underperforming finish to this season, you had to wonder how hot his seat would’ve been.  2005 was his seventh season in Seattle.  He had made the playoffs three times in those seven years, and each time he lost in the first round.

So, it was more than a little disconcerting to see us go into Jacksonville – where we expected to be the better team, given the Jags’ questions at quarterback – and lose to kick off the season.  Granted, those Jags would end up 12-4, but we had no idea they’d be that good going in.  The Seahawks bounced back with a couple of home wins over a couple of mediocre teams (Falcons & Cardinals), before losing on the road once again (this time to the Redskins).

By this point, it was the same boring storyline:  the Seahawks can’t win on the road (and they especially can’t win on the road at 10am Pacific time).  The very next week would, once again, put this theory to the test, as we faced off against our most bitter rival (at the time), the St. Louis Rams.  After they’d beaten us three times the previous year, we knew there was a dragon left to be slain.  Having it on the road, in the morning, made it all the sweeter when we won 37-31.

This kicked off an 11-game winning streak that was only broken in Week 17 when we rested many of our starters (as we’d locked up the #1 seed).

Looking back on it, the NFC was VERY weak in 2005.  The Rams & Packers were both in the midst of down seasons.  The Bears had a great defense, but were led by Kyle Orton and Rex Grossman of all people.  The Seahawks drew the Redskins in the Divisional Round, with the aging Mark Brunell, and easily dispatched them.  That led to an NFC Championship Game against the Carolina Panthers.  We made mincemeat of Jake Delhomme (probably the beginning of the end of his career, with three interceptions against only one touchdown) and Steve Smith (at the height of his powers, held to a trivial 5 catches for 33 yards).  These were not teams to fear.

For sure, all the talent was in the AFC in 2005.  The 14-2 Colts were the best team in football.  The 13-3 Broncos were surprisingly effective with Jake Plummer at the helm and the 3rd ranked defense by points scored.  The 10-6 Patriots were still, more or less, the same team that had won three of the last four Super Bowls.  The 11-5 Bengals were a surprising division winner, with Carson Palmer looking to really make his mark on this league.  The 12-4 Jaguars were one of the better 5-seeds in the history of the league to that point (boxed out by the aforementioned 14-2 Colts).  Leaving the 11-5 Steelers, in the 6-seed.

Had things gone according to plan (or according to the 2013 blueprint), the Seahawks would have played Peyton Manning and his Colts in the Super Bowl.  Of course, nothing goes the way you want it to.

The Steelers started out their playoff run by killing Carson Palmer’s career.  He thew one pass for 66 yards.  On his next attempt, he was hit at the knees by a defensive lineman and was out for the game (Palmer would make it back, but he was never as good as he was in 2005).  A promising Bengals team was defeated, with Jon Kitna at the helm.  The Steelers continued their run by going into Indy and playing the top team in the league.  They came away with a 3-point victory.  That led to them going into Denver to play the Broncos (who somehow managed to defeat the Patriots), where they won easily.

To be honest, the run couldn’t have gone more perfectly for the 6-seeded Steelers.  It was a harrowing feat to say the least.  You want to talk about steel sharpening steel?  Compare that run of three straight road games to the charmed life the Seahawks had, with one of the easiest conference regular seasons in recent memory, followed by two home games where we enjoy the best Home Field Advantage in the world.  Pretty much, the Seahawks were flying first class to the Super Bowl, while the Steelers had to survive a death march over steaming hot coals.

In any other year, against any other team, I would have been cheering on the Steelers like nobody’s business.  Instead, I came out of Super Bowl XL with the Steelers as one of my most hated teams of all time

***

I’ll have more on Super Bowl XL tomorrow.  Right now, let’s take a look at those 2005 Seahawks, and how they compare to the 2013 version.

As a general overview, the 2005 Seahawks were (unsurprisingly) quite successful on offense and not so much on defense.  In fact, they led the league in points scored and were second in yards gained.  However, on defense, they weren’t quite the trainwreck I seem to remember.  They were 7th-best in points allowed and 16th in yards given up.  Of course, I would contend their schedule had something to do with that, but the point is, we’re not talking about the 2012 Saints or anything.

The 2005 Seahawks had the MVP of the league in Shaun Alexander.  He scored 27 rushing touchdowns which, at the time, was the NFL record.  It would be beaten by LaDainian Tomlinson the very next season, but it was still an amazing achievement.  Alexander also ran for 1,880 yards, which was a career high for him.  You can say what you want about his running style, but the man got the job done for us and should be appreciated as the greatest running back in Seahawks history.

The 2005 Seahawks were led by Matt Hasselbeck.  He was in his seventh year in the league, fifth year with the Seahawks, and third year as the Seahawks’ unquestioned starter at the quarterback position.  Remember, when he first got here, we were jerking him around with Trent Dilfer on the roster.  As if winning that Super Bowl with the Ravens (and the greatest defense of all time) somehow made Dilfer competent at the quarterback position or something.  Anyway, I made the point at the time (and stand behind it to this day) that the 2005 Seahawks were as good as they were because they had Matt Hasselbeck at quarterback.  Shaun Alexander might have been the league’s MVP, but Hasselbeck was the team’s MVP.  Had we played that season with a replacement-level quarterback (or, Seneca Wallace, as he’s formally known), we would have had replacement-level results, no matter how many yards and touchdowns Alexander ran for.

Then again, the heart and soul of the 2005 Seahawks resided along the offensive line.  It was EASILY the best in football and EASILY the best line we’ve ever seen in Seattle.  It also probably rivals some of the best offensive lines in the history of the league, but I’ll leave that argument for people smarter than me to make.  All I know is:  with Walter Jones & Steve Hutchinson on the left side of that line, the rest of the offense’s job was made a lot easier.

So, let’s start there.  Let’s make the rest of this post a position-by-position breakdown, starting with the offensive line.  For the record, I’m going to try to pick the player who played the most games at his given position (or, who is known as that team’s “starter”).  The better player is highlighted in blue.

Left Tackle
2005 – Walter Jones
2013 – Russell Okung

Left Guard
2005 – Steve Hutchinson
2013 – James Carpenter / Paul McQuistan

Center
2005 – Robbie Tobeck
2013 – Max Unger

Right Guard
2005 – Chris Gray
2013 – J.R. Sweezy

Right Tackle
2005 – Sean Locklear
2013 – Breno Giacomini

Overall, when you consider the offensive line as a whole, you give the overwhelming nod to the 2005 Seahawks.  The 2013 Seahawks have no one NEAR the calibre of Walter Jones & Steve Hutchinson of 2005.  Max Unger gets a marginal nod over Tobeck.  Chris Gray was like 2005’s version of Paul McQuistan (savvy veteran, able to play multiple positions along the line, helps more than he hurts).  I never did like Sean Locklear.

Quarterback
2005 – Matt Hasselbeck
2013 – Russell Wilson

I’m not gonna lie to you, before I looked at the stats, just going off of memory, I REALLY wanted to pick Hasselbeck over Wilson.  I just thought, given the style of offense (West-Coast, heavy on the passing and the completion percentage), the Seahawks would have required more out of Hasselbeck than they do out of Wilson now.  But, look at these numbers!

Hasselbeck:  294/449 (65.5%), 3,459 yards, 24 TDs, 9 INTs, rating of 98.2
Wilson:  257/407 (63.1%), 3,357, 26 TDs, 9 INTs, rating of 101.2

First of all, I thought Hasselbeck would have attempted WAY more passes than Wilson, but it turned out to only be 42 more passes (or a little over two and a half passes per game).  As it turns out, Wilson was the more efficient quarterback, who still managed to best Hasselbeck in touchdowns thrown.  When you tack on Wilson’s rushing yards, it’s pretty clear who’s the better quarterback.  It’s NOT Year 7 Hasselbeck; it’s Year 2 Wilson.  Soak that in as you daydream about the next dozen years with Wilson at the helm.

Running Back
2005 – Shaun Alexander
2013 – Marshawn Lynch

Listen to me, now.  I know how much you love Beastmode.  Hell, I love myself some Beastmode as much as anybody!  I wouldn’t trade his hard-nosed, rugged running style for anything.  It isn’t even really a question of who would you rather have.  I’m not posing the notion of putting 2005 Alexander with 2013’s offensive line to see who would be the better guy.  Let’s face it, 2005 Alexander WITH 2005’s offensive line is just a better running back than 2013 Lynch with 2013’s line.  I’ll kindly refer you to the numbers:

Alexander:  370 attempts, 1,880 yards, 5.1 yards per carry, 27 touchdowns
Lynch:  301 attempts, 1,257 yards, 4.2 yards per carry, 12 touchdowns

Let’s face it, 2005 Alexander’s numbers are Looney Tunes!  You just don’t see running backs like this very much anymore.  They’re a dying breed.  Alexander was 28 when he had this season.  Lynch is 27, but considering the pounding his body takes, you’d have to think he’s in a similar boat.  When Alexander hit 30, he fell off the cliff.  I would expect nothing less out of Lynch.

Also, 2005 Alexander had 69 more attempts!  In what is supposed to be a pass-oriented offense.  Now, granted, those Seahawks won a lot of games and leaned on teams late with that rushing attack.  But, the 2013 Seahawks ALSO won a lot of games, but weren’t putting up numbers like this.

It boils down to those 2005 Seahawks being a fast-paced offense vs. the 2013 Seahawks slowing the game down.  Of course you’re going to get better offensive numbers if you’re going to be running so many more plays.

Wide Receiver 1
2005 – Darrell Jackson
2013 – Golden Tate

The numbers don’t bear out that Jackson was the team’s #1 receiver – because he missed a good ten games in the middle of the season before returning for the playoff run – but it’s pretty obvious who the team’s top target was.  Jackson’s early career was mired by drops, but he managed to get his shit together starting in 2005.  And, in that playoff run (where he caught 20 balls for 268 yards in three games – and it would have been more in the Super Bowl had things gone a little differently), Jackson really took a step forward.

Nevertheless, Golden Tate gets the nod.  He draws the lion’s share of the coverage (usually with the other team’s best cover corner), and still managed to catch 64 balls for 898 yards.  What puts Tate over the top is his talent, his versatility, and his ability in the punt return game.

Wide Receiver 2
2005 – Joe Jurevicius
2013 – Sidney Rice / Jermaine Kearse

I resisted the urge to put Doug Baldwin here, mainly because I want to save him so I can compare him to Bobby Engram.  In his stead, I put the duo of Rice & Kearse.  Rice was obviously this team’s #2 receiver when he was healthy, but of course, he went down after 8 games and Kearse picked up some of the slack.  You’ve got to ding Rice for not being reliable with his health.  But, aside from all that, Jurevicius was rock solid in 2005.

He caught 55 balls for 694 yards and a whopping 10 touchdowns!  He was the type of big body that Pete Carroll has been spending his entire Seahawks career trying to bring in.

Wide Receiver 3
2005 – Bobby Engram
2013 – Doug Baldwin

Bobby Engram was Doug Baldwin before Doug Baldwin was even a twinkle in the Seahawks’ eye!  Engram was Hasselbeck’s 3rd Down security blanket just as Baldwin is that for Wilson today.  And, when other receivers went down – as they seemingly always did – Engram was able to pick up the slack, just like Baldwin has this year after Rice went down.

I’m giving the nod to Baldwin for a couple reason.  Even though Engram caught 17 more passes, they caught the same exact number of yards:  778.  Doug Baldwin is the more explosive receiver.  He can go downfield and make a big play FAR more regularly than Engram ever could.  While he may play in the slot, Baldwin isn’t just a traditional slot receiver like Engram was.  Baldwin can play all over, yet still be that security blanket on third down who finds the hole in the zone or makes the diving sideline grab.

Tight End
2005 – Jerramy Stevens
2013 – Zach Miller

I probably shouldn’t let my emotions get the better of me, but in this case I can’t help it.  2005 Jerramy Stevens’ numbers absolutely dwarf Zach Miller’s, and if he even REMOTELY lived up to the hype coming into his pro career, Jerramy Stevens would be a beloved individual around these parts.  Instead, he sucked dick, and is beloved in Pittsburgh for handing them the Super Bowl.  So, Zach Miller gets the nod (plus, Miller is actually a true tight end who blocks well and does the whole thing; Stevens was a glorified, overweight wide receiver and not a very good one at that).

So, if you add it up for both sides, 2005 gets the edge on Offensive Line, Running Back (an extension of the offensive line), and one of the three wide receivers.  2013 wins on Quarterback play, Tight End, and 2/3 of the wide receivers.  If I’m weighting things as I should, it’s pretty neck and neck.  Offensive line is the most important part of any football team, so they factor in pretty heavily.  QB comes next.  And, I figure the receivers and tight end equal out the Shaun Alexander MVP factor.  I’m calling it a wash across the board.  But, you can’t just call it a tie, so let’s go to the numbers:

2005:  452 points, 5,915 yards, 1,020 total plays, 5.8 yards per play, 17 turnovers
2013:  417 points, 5,424 yards, 973 total plays, 5.6 yards per play, 19 turnovers

Look, by the slimmest of margins, I’m giving 2005 the nod over 2013 on offense.  There are pieces there to cobble together the greatest offense of all time (2005 O-Line with 2013’s skill position players), but if you want the truth, I’m going to go with the offense that scored more points.  It’s kind of as simple as that.

***

Let’s hop right into the defenses.

2005 Defensive Line
Bryce Fisher (DE)
Grant Wistrom (DE)
Rocky Bernard (DT)
Marcus Tubbs (DT)
Chuck Darby (DT)

2013 Defensive Line
Red Bryant (DE)
Chris Clemons (DE)
Brandon Mebane (DT)
Cliff Avril (DE)
Michael Bennett (DE/DT)
Tony McDaniel (DT)
Clinton McDonald (DT)

This goes without question.  I mean, LOOK at that rotation!  The 2013 Seahawks can come up with any number of fronts, whereas the 2005 version pretty much ran out the same four guys play-in and play-out.  I would argue that Mebane was just as disruptive up the middle as Tubbs.  Michael Bennett can do just as much as Rocky Bernard on the inside (as far as pass rush is concerned), as well as have the ability to slide outside and rush on the edge.  Grant Wistrom was less of a joke than a nightmare I’m still trying to wake up from.  No contest.  Next song.

2005 Linebackers
Leroy Hill
D.D. Lewis
Lofa Tatupu

2013 Linebackers
K.J. Wright
Malcolm Smith
Bobby Wagner
Bruce Irvin

In 2005, you had Leroy Hill and Lofa Tatupu as rookies, and therefore at the height of their powers and physicality.  But, Tatupu was never good enough to hold Bobby Wagner’s jock, and the combination of Wright & Smith is WAY more versatile than Leroy Hill ever was.  Hill was great at run-stuffing, and he managed 7.5 sacks in his rookie campaign, but there’s more to linebacker than simply running forward.  You’ve got to run laterally, and backward.  You’ve got to play in coverage, and that’s where the 2013 crew has it all over the 2005 crew.  Which is odd, because those Holmgren defenses were known for their speed.  Here’s the thing:  2013 HAS that speed, but they’ve also got size and versatility.  Again, no contest.  Next song.

2005 Secondary
Marcus Trufant
Kelly Herndon
Michael Boulware
Marquand Manuel
Jordan Babineaux
Ken Hamlin
Etric Pruitt

2013 Secondary
Richard Sherman
Byron Maxwell
Earl Thomas
Kam Chancellor
Brandon Browner
Walter Thurmond
Jeremy Lane

I could have stopped after just Richard Sherman – with he alone covering all of the other team’s receivers – and he would have beaten out the 2005 secondary.  I was going to split them up by cornerbacks and safeties, but what’s the point?  It’s laughable how terrible that 2005 secondary was.  Luckily for the 2005 team, they were frequently playing with a lead.  It’s a lot easier to play defense with a lead than it is from behind.

On the whole, it’s not even close.  2013 defense in a landslide.  In fact, I don’t know if there are any guys on that 2005 team would would even PLAY on the 2013 version!  I don’t think anyone turns down a 2005 Rocky Bernard.  And I know 2005 Bryce Fisher had 9.0 sacks, but does he have the ability to stuff the run like Chris Clemons does?  I mean, maybe Fisher cracks the defensive end rotation, but most of those 2005 guys are backups at best on the 2013 team.  I’ll tell you this much:  I’m starting Byron Maxwell over Marcus Trufant every day of the week.

***

In conclusion, the 2013 Seahawks are the better team.  You pit them against the 2005 Seahawks, one game, winner takes all, it’s the 2013 team by a comfortable margin.  2013’s defensive line might struggle to get pressure on the quarterback, and it’s 50/50 whether or not the 2005 team runs the ball well.  But, there’s no way 2005 is throwing all that well against 2013’s secondary.

For the record, nothing would bring me greater joy than to see Kam Chancellor knock the shit out of Jerramy Stevens.  I don’t even mean in any hypothetical matchup between these two teams.  I mean in real life.  Kam Chancellor hunts Jerramy Stevens down, wherever he’s living, and he fucks his shit up.  For real.

Should NFL Teams Trade For Wide Receivers?

There have been countless trades for wide receivers in the NFL.  Countless in the sense that I refuse to try and count them all.  I’m sure the information is out there, but I’m not in the business of compiling a complete list.

I do have AH list, though.  It’s a not-insignificant list, dating back a little over a decade.  Without further ado:

February 12, 2000 – Seattle Seahawks trade Joey Galloway to Dallas Cowboys for 2000 & 2001 first round picks

From the day Joey Galloway stepped onto a football field in 1995, he was a super-stud.  Per season, through 1999, he averaged 57 receptions for 891 yards and 7 touchdowns, with a 15.7 yards per catch average.  He topped 1,000 yards receiving in three of his five seasons, with his only down year taking place in 1999 when he held out for 8 games, hoping to push newly acquired Mike Holmgren around into giving him a new contract.  On top of that, Galloway was a massive success in the punt return game, returning four for touchdowns in his first four seasons.  When Holmgren came to Seattle, everyone thought two things:  that we would FINALLY have a franchise quarterback very soon, and that Joey Galloway would flourish in the West Coast Offense.  However, much like the new inmate who stabs his cell-mate on his first day, Mike Holmgren was looking to show everyone that he was nobody’s bitch.

So, he flipped Joey Galloway for two first rounders, one of the greatest fleecings in NFL trade history!  Galloway promptly tore his ACL in his first game in a Cowboys uniform and was never the same.  He was okay, but no longer the elite burner he had been with the Seahawks.  Didn’t prevent him from having a long, lasting career, which ended after the 2010 season, but he certainly didn’t live up to the cost in Dallas.

Meanwhile, the Seahawks turned those draft picks into Shaun Alexander (pick #19 in 2000), Koren Robinson (pick #9 in 2001), Heath Evans (pick #82 in 2001) and some dumb skank in the seventh round, thanks to trading that Dallas pick (#7 overall) to let San Francisco move up two spots.  Not a bad haul, and the first of many cautionary tales of trading for wide receivers in the NFL.

March 7, 2003 – Buffalo Bills trade Peerless Price to Atlanta Falcons for 2003 first round pick

And birthed about a billion “Price Was Right For Buffalo Bills” jokes and headlines.

You know, I had completely blocked out of my memory that Drew Bledsoe played quarterback for the Bills.  But, it’s true!  It happened!  From 2002 through 2004, he kept a mediocre franchise wallowing in mediocrity.  His last truly great season was 2002 when he threw for 4,359 yards and led the Bills to an 8-8 record.  On that team, he had two primary targets:  Eric Moulds (very underrated wideout), who caught 100 balls for 1,292 yards and 10 touchdowns; and one Peerless Price (very overrated wideout), who caught 94 balls for 1,252 yards and 9 touchdowns.

Price came into the league in 1999 and for the most part underwhelmed.  However, he parlayed a career year in 2002 into a Franchise Tag designation.  The Bills eventually traded him to the Falcons for that aforementioned first round pick, which was turned into Willis McGahee.  The Falcons, meanwhile, finally decided to put some receiving talent around Michael Vick.

Except, Price was pretty awful (to be fair, so was Vick, who was more runner than thrower back then) and was released after two sub-par seasons.  Hefty PRICE to pay indeed …

March 2, 2005 – Minnesota Vikings trade Randy Moss to Oakland Raiders for Napoleon Harris & 2005 first & seventh round picks

April 29, 2007 – Oakland Raiders trade Randy Moss to New England Patriots for 2007 fourth round pick

October 6, 2010 – New England Patriots trade Randy Moss to Minnesota Vikings for 2011 third round pick

Good God, Lemon!

I’m still trying to wrap my head around why Minnesota traded Randy Moss in the first place; probably because he was a real Grade-A prick to deal with, but that’s neither here nor there.  The bounty Oakland gave up is the closest thing approaching what Seattle just gave up for Percy Harvin, except it was for a first, a seventh, and a player instead of a third round pick.  Oakland’s first round pick ended up being the #7 overall choice, which the Vikings used ostensibly to draft his replacement – Troy Williamson (a real dud), but that’s also neither here nor there, because what Oakland gave up doesn’t even come CLOSE to how this trade ultimately backfired for them.

Granted, Minnesota didn’t really benefit from Moss’s departure (as Harris didn’t have much of an impact either), but Oakland got royally hosed.  Moss showed up, caught just a touch over 1,000 yards in 2005, then completely tanked it in 2006, which forced the Raiders to rid themselves of this pain in the ass once and for all.  They essentially gave him away to the Patriots for a 4th round pick, and SURPRISE, Moss magically returned to form.

Randy Moss was the best player alive in 2007 as the Patriots’ record-setting offense saw them go undefeated up until the Super Bowl, where they lost by mere inches as Tom Brady overthrew a streaking Moss in the waning seconds for a potential 80+ yard touchdown bomb.  Moss continued to be top-notch through 2009, until things got real cancerous in 2010, whereupon Moss was traded BACK to the Vikings for a third round pick.

Yeah, you read that right.  New England traded away a fourth rounder, got three amazing years out of a potential Hall of Famer, then traded him away for an even BETTER draft pick in the 2011 draft.  Holy Frijoles!

April 29, 2006 – Green Bay Packers trade Javon Walker to Denver Broncos for 2006 second round pick

Walker had one good season in Green Bay, in 2004, going for nearly 1,400 yards and 12 touchdowns with Brett Favre throwing him the ball.  This was after a couple of so-so seasons to start his career.  With one Pro Bowl under his belt, OF COURSE it was time to stick it to the man for a huge pay raise!  Because the Green Bay Packers have built up their dynasty on the foundation of over-paying for flashes in the pan.

Walker hired Drew Rosenhaus, talked a whole truckload of shit in the offseason, threatened to hold out and/or retire in 2005 if he wasn’t granted a trade or release, and finally came to his senses.  This led to him playing in Game 1, tearing an ACL, and being placed on injured reserve (I guess that’s one way to accrue a year’s service time).

Somehow, there was a market for this trainwreck, with the highest bidder being the Denver Broncos.  They not only gave away a second round draft pick, but they signed him to a HUGE 5-year deal.  Again, a guy coming off of an ACL injury, who lost a full season, and who had serious getting-along-with-others issues.  With Jake Plummer and a rookie Jay Cutler at the helm, Walker bounced back in 2006 to catch 69 balls for 1,084 yards and 8 touchdowns.  But, he faltered hard in 2007, became untradeable, and was ultimately released.  Oakland picked him up for the 2008 & 2009 seasons (after the Randy Moss experiment failed), but they got nothing from him and he never played a down thereafter.

September 11, 2006 – New England Patriots trade Deion Branch to Seattle Seahawks for 2007 first round pick

See this post for full details.

March 5, 2007 – Miami Dolphins trade Wes Welker to New England Patriots for 2007 second & seventh round picks

If this article teaches you anything, it’s that the Patriots should be the ONLY team allowed to participate in trades of wide receivers.

Essentially, Miami got nothing out of this deal.  New England got six years of a guy who caught over 100 passes and over 1,000 yards in five of those six seasons.  He has, in short, been a total and complete stud out of the slot.  Even though things appear to be ending acrimoniously, it’s pretty safe to say the Patriots dominated this trade.

April 28, 2007 – Detroit Lions trade Mike Williams and Josh McCown to Oakland Raiders for 2007 fourth round pick

This was how desperate the Lions were to trade erstwhile first rounder Mike Williams (out of USC).  They packaged him with a journeyman backup quarterback and STILL could only get a fourth round pick back from Oakland.  Williams was released after 6 games with the Raiders, played 2 more games with the Titans that season, then didn’t return to the NFL until 2010 with the Seahawks.  All the promise in the world, gone to waste.

April 29, 2007 – Seattle Seahawks trade Darrell Jackson to San Francisco 49ers for 2007 fourth round pick

Jackson put in seven seasons with the Seahawks of varying quality.  He was here for our rise and our best extended run of football.  But, he was constantly battling nagging injuries and was pretty much unable to practice by the time his run in Seattle ended.  So, the Seahawks opted to trade him for whatever they could get, to save a little cap and save themselves another season-ending injury.

I wouldn’t say anyone really “won” this trade – he caught less than 50 passes in his lone season with San Francisco for less than 500 yards before moving on with his career – because the Seahawks didn’t exactly make the best use of their fourth round pick (Mansfield Wrotto, because Tim Ruskell, obvs).  I would say expectations were higher for the 49ers; they were likely expecting a quality starter who would push them over the top in 2007.  What they got was a guy nearing the end of his run.  Too bad, because I always thought Jackson was a good guy.

October 16, 2007 – Miami Dolphins trade Chris Chambers to San Diego Chargers for 2008 second round pick

Chambers was always a super-talented receiver who, for whatever reason, couldn’t kick it up that notch to elite status.  In his first six seasons with the Dolphins, he only surpassed 1,000 yards one time (though he was over 650 yards in each of those seasons).  He made the Pro Bowl in 2005 and everyone thought he had turned a corner.  Except, in 2006, he took a giant step back.  In the middle of 2007, he was traded, which is the ultimate cautionary tale:  you never trade for a wide receiver in the middle of a season.

It’s bad news!  If I had the time, I would devote a post just to this, because it’s absolutely asinine.  You 100% need that time in the offseason and pre-season to get acquainted with your quarterback.  Learn his tendencies, anticipate where he wants you to go when a play breaks down.  San Diego had none of that, so of course the rest of his 2007 season was a lost cause.

Of course, with Chambers, a full offseason probably wouldn’t have done a lick of good.  My guess:  he dogged it and got too lazy to keep up in the rigorous NFL.  Either way, his 2008 was absolutely piss-poor, and he was released 7 games into 2009.  He finished his miserable career in Kansas City, where he belonged.

October 14, 2008 – Detroit Lions trade Roy Williams & 2010 seventh round pick to Dallas Cowboys for 2009 first, third, and sixth round picks

Man, don’t speak Roy Williams’ name around Cowboys fans; they might murder you!

Roy Williams was another decent-to-good receiver on a bad team traded in the middle of a season.  Dallas obviously didn’t learn its lesson from the Joey Galloway debacle and were rewarded thusly:  two and a half seasons of drops, fumbles, and all-around crappy play.  I don’t think anyone could have foreseen him stinking as badly as he did – especially when you consider he was surrounded by a talented quarterback and some talented receivers in Miles Austin and Jason Witten, but there you go.

April 11, 2010 – Pittsburgh Steelers trade Santonio Holmes to New York Jets for 2010 fifth round pick

After Roy Williams and Deion Branch, I thought it was safe to say we’d seen the last of teams trading first round draft picks for wide receivers.  Still, it was pretty shocking to see what little the Steelers actually got in return for a fairly productive fourth-year veteran.  You’d think with the Jets’ dearth of talent on offense, they could’ve squeezed a second or third rounder out of ’em.  But, considering what Holmes has become – injured and only so-so performance-wise – maybe a fifth rounder was OVER-paying.

April 14, 2010 – Denver Broncos trade Brandon Marshall to Miami Dolphins for 2010 & 2011 second round picks

March 13, 2012 – Miami Dolphins trade Brandon Marshall to Chicago Bears for 2012 & 2013 third round picks

Miami!  Did anyone ever tell you you’re THE WORST at dealing wide receivers?

Marshall was a pain in Denver’s God-foresaken ass pretty much from day 1, when it was apparent that he would be a stud and a diva at the same time.  When Jay Cutler officially took over as the starter in Denver – in Marshall’s second season – Marshall was the primary beneficiary.  Three consecutive seasons, from 2007-2009, Marshall caught over 100 passes.  But, since the Broncos were tired of his bullshit, they took the best offer they could get and they ran with it:  two second rounders.

The Dolphins hoped, by bringing in Marshall, they’d provide Chad Henne with the elite receiver to boost their overall passing game.  Unfortunately, they backed the wrong horse, as Chad Henne continued to suck dick in the endless Dolphins parade of dick-sucking at quarterback since Dan Marino retired.  When the Dolphins realized they sucked at life, they decided to trade a guy who caught back-to-back seasons of 80-plus passes for them to the Bears for considerably LESS than what they paid to bring him there in the first place.

The Bears, with Cutler en tow, enjoyed Marshall’s return to form, catching over 100 passes for over 1,500 yards in his best-ever season stats-wise.  The Dolphins, conversely, just overpaid for Mike Wallace so he can try to catch balls from Ryan Tannehill (see:  endless dick-sucking parade from before).

March 5, 2010 – Arizona Cardinals trade Anquan Boldin & 2010 fifth round pick to Baltimore Ravens for 2010 third & fourth round picks

March 12, 2013 – Baltimore Ravens trade Anquan Boldin to San Francisco 49ers for 2013 sixth round pick

The Cardinals were looking ahead in their attempt to pay Larry Fitzgerald insane gobs of money to keep him there (even though they trick-fucked him by letting Kurt Warner retire and not having a proper heir to replace him set up and ready to go) and knew they couldn’t afford to keep both him and Boldin, so there you go.  They got what they could from Baltimore and let the Ravens give him a big-money deal.  The Ravens were rewarded with three adequate, sub-1,000 yard seasons (as an offense that wasn’t really all that high-scoring anyway) and a Super Bowl victory this past February.  I’d say:  not too bad of a deal for the Ravens.  And, it’s hard to blame the Cardinals too much for this particular move.  I mean, when you compare it to literally EVERY OTHER MOVE they’ve made since losing that Super Bowl to the Steelers, trading away Boldin for a couple of mid-draft picks is pretty not-bad by comparison.

The Ravens are in a similar boat right now, having just signed Joe Flacco to the biggest deal in the history of ever.  Boldin was counting too much against the cap, so he had to go.  It’s pretty disingenuous of Flacco to publicly root for the Ravens to keep their other stars when he selfishly signed such a crippling contract, but I guess he got the “respect” he was looking for (money, respect = money).

And this is an AMAZING deal for a 49ers team still in their prime and looking to make it back to the Super Bowl.  I’m sure Boldin is licking his chops at the chance to go to back-to-back Super Bowls, only this time with the team he just beat LAST season.

March 12, 2013 – Minnesota Vikings trade Percy Harvin to Seattle Seahawks for 2013 first & seventh round picks & 2014 third round pick

I’m not going to get into some of the other guys I had jotted down (Brandon Lloyd, Mike Thomas, etc.) because this post is long enough as it is and I’ve got other shit to do.

I’m also not going to get too deep into this whole Harvin deal, because I’ve spent the whole fucking week talking about it.  I will say that the Seahawks are the first team to pony up a first rounder since the Cowboys did so for Roy Williams.  In fact, if you’ve been paying attention to this post, you’ll notice that not one single team got the value they were looking for when they gave away first round pick(s) to get wide receivers.  They all THOUGHT they were getting something amazing.  But, one way or another, they all got fucked.

So, something to look forward to.  Don’t necessarily buy into the gambler’s fallacy; just because the last ten flips of the coin were tails doesn’t necessarily mean this flip is destined to be heads.  Just put your money down and hope, that’s all you can do as a Seahawks fan.

***

There have been some miserable failures on this list, to be sure.  But, let us not forget one of the greatest success stories of all time.  A reason for hope!  Probably the greatest/most-lopsided trade in the history of the NFL:

August 26, 1976 – Houston Oilers trade Steve Largent to Seattle Seahawks for 1977 eighth round pick

That’s right.  The greatest Seahawk who ever lived, the first-ever Hall of Famer in franchise history, and the guy who retired with almost every wide receiving record in NFL history (before Art Monk, and later Jerry Rice blew right on past him) was drafted by the Houston Oilers and traded for a draft pick who never played a down of regular season NFL football.

So, you know, trading for a wide receiver isn’t ALL bad …

Percy Harvin vs. Deion Branch: Which Trade Was Better?

Similarities!  We’ve got ’em!

The 2005 Seattle Seahawks went 13-3, won two playoff games, and went to the Super Bowl.  Their top wide receivers were a whole bunch of nobodies (respectively, when compared to the rest of the National Football League).  Bobby Engram had the most receptions:  67 for 778 yards and 3 touchdowns.  Joe Jurevicius was a veteran on a 1-year deal who was thrust into a starting role when Darrell Jackson went down with injury for the bulk of the season from October thru December (coming back a couple games before the playoffs started).  Jurevicius caught 55 balls for 694 yards and 10 TDs.  The aforementioned Jackson was a non-factor for the most part, though he would bounce back with a quality 2006 season.  Meanwhile, Jurevicius would end up leaving in free agency to play in Cleveland for a couple of years before retiring.

The 2006 Seahawks could have opted to improve their team in a number of ways.  A sane, rational human being might have focused on an immediate upgrade along the offensive line (like, for instance, not dicking around with Steve Hutchinson and just paying the man what he was worth) or in the secondary.  Instead, Tim Ruskell thought it would be a good idea to trade our first round pick in the 2007 NFL draft – #24 overall – for a wide receiver named Deion Branch.

Branch, if you will recall, was holding out in New England for a new deal.  Like Harvin, Branch was a 4-year veteran in the final season of his rookie deal.  Unlike Harvin, Branch came over in September (9/11/2006:  never forget).  By holding out, he ended up missing the first two games of the season.  Seattle, essentially, had zero time to acclimate him to our offensive scheme.

As I stated above, Darrell Jackson bounced back to have a nice 2006 season.  Bobby Engram, however, caught the injury bug and missed over half the games.  That opened things up for a quasi-talented Deion Branch to step into our #2 receiver role.  He caught 53 balls for 725 yards and 4 touchdowns in that first season.  Not EXACTLY what we thought we’d be getting for our first round draft pick, but at least we made the playoffs and kind of stuck it to the Patriots a little bit by losing in the Divisional Round to Rex Grossman and the Chicago Bears (a day that will live in drunken infamy).

The Seahawks had one more playoff season in them, in 2007, and then everything fell to shit.  Branch stuck around until 2010 when, after four games, he was traded back to New England for a 4th round pick in the 2011 draft.  That pick ended up being K.J. Wright, so we mitigated some of that loss, but still.

With New England, Deion Branch was a quality contributer.  He returned kicks throughout his rookie season, and returned a handful of punts as well.  He was also just as injury prone as Percy Harvin (playing in 53 games over 4 seasons vs. Harvin’s 54 games over 4 seasons).  Branch’s average per-season line amounted to 53 receptions for 686 yards and 4 touchdowns.  Harvin’s average per-season line with the Vikings these past four years amoutned to 70 receptions for 826 yards and 5 touchdowns.  When you tack on Harvin’s rushing totals, though, his yards per scrimmage per season averages out to almost 1,000, with an extra touchdown tacked on.

The 2012 Seahawks went 11-5, won one playoff game, and was half a minute from going to the NFC Championship Game.  Their top receivers, again, were a bunch of nobodies (respective to the rest of the NFL).  Leading receiver Sidney Rice caught only 50 balls.  Golden Tate caught only 45.  Essentially, though, that’s where the similarities end for these two teams.

The 2005 Seahawks were at their peak.  By 2008, they were a broken down old fool of a team that needed a complete overhaul.  The 2012 Seahawks, by contrast, are only just beginning their dynasty.  They are a few small pieces away from going all the way.  The 2006 Seahawks fucked up in a multitude of ways.  The 2006 Seahawks also couldn’t get out of their own way when they drafted players.  The 2013 Seahawks have almost nothing BUT drafted players, with a large handful of new picks in the coming draft to play around with.

Deion Branch was never going to solve all of our ills.  He wasn’t the one piece we needed to go over the top.  Percy Harvin isn’t that one piece either; but I think it’s safe to say he’s a BETTER piece now than Branch was then.  I also think that his is a piece we should be able to utilize more effectively.  Because A. he’s familiar with our system, having worked under Darrell Bevell before; and B. we will have a full offseason with which to work him into our offense (as opposed to a few mid-week practices right at the start of the regular season).

So, no, this isn’t EXACTLY the Deion Branch trade.  But, then again, the cost for Percy Harvin was a lot greater.  Both in terms of money and draft picks.  Branch went for the #24 overall pick.  Harvin went for the #25 pick, a seventh rounder, and a third rounder NEXT year.  Branch signed a 6-year, $39 million deal.  Harvin has agreed to a 6-year, $67 million deal.  Ultimately, the question remains:  will Harvin live up to all this cost?

In his first four full seasons (if we count 2006 as a “full” season) with the Seattle Seahawks, Deion Branch averaged 44 receptions for 559 yards and 4 touchdowns per year.  He also never played a full 16-game season with the Seahawks, suffering injuries in every season from 2007-2009.  To say he was a bust is an understatement.  He was a final Fuck You from the Tim Ruskell regime that left us with no cap space and a shit-ton of terrible, old players.

It would take just about nothing for Percy Harvin to be a better return of investment than Deion Branch, but we can’t exactly compare them as apples to apples.  Percy Harvin has to live up to an even BIGGER investment.  With just as high of stakes:  going back to and ultimately WINNING a Super Bowl.

Obviously, it’s not all on Harvin to get us a championship, and it likely wouldn’t be his fault if we failed to reach that goal.  But, if this team starts to sputter, if he comes down with a series of nagging injuries every year, or if he forgets how to catch a football when he’s in the game, then people are going to look at Harvin, and at this deal to bring him here, as a major reason why we failed.

So, let’s not let it come to that, right?  Right.

All-Time Seahawks Greats Part I

So, for your information, I’m robbing this idea from Seahawks.com.  I thought a fan-voted poll was interesting and was curious how spot-on they were.  I also wanted to see if I could pick a Blue & Green Dream Second Team … but eventually lost interest in trying to find the NEXT five best offensive linemen.

Also, for your information, I’m getting all forthcoming stats and information from this site.  Right or wrong, LEROY JENKINS!

Starting with Quarterback, Matt Hasselbeck is obviously the Number 1 choice.  He’s got Dave Krieg beat in Total Yards, Games Played, Completion Percentage, and Yards Per Game.  Surprisingly, Krieg has 21 more touchdown passes (even more surprisingly when you consider he played under Ground Chuck), but Krieg also has 20 more interceptions, so I guess that somewhat evens out.

Know what’s really sad?  After Hasselbeck, Krieg, and Zorn, you know who our 4th and 5th best all-time quarterbacks were?  Try Jon Kitna and Rick Mirer (in PROBABLY that order, though Mirer did throw about 1,500 more yards while in a Seahawk uni).  Fun fact:  if you went by total yards, Charlie Whitehurst is already our 17th best QB (and a mere 160 yards behind our 16th best QB, Brock Huard).

On to Running Back; again, kind of a no-brainer.  Shaun Alexander was on a Hall of Fame track … then he signed a big contract extension after a Super Bowl season in which he ran for 1,880 yards and a league-record (for 1 season) 27 touchdowns.  From there, he turned 30, developed foot problems, struggled for 2 more years and was forced into early retirement after a brief, non-descript stint with the Washington Redskins.  Still, in his time, he eclipsed the next best rushers by nearly 3,000 yards and 45 touchdowns.

As for my Official Second Team Running Back, I’d have to go with Curt Warner.  Though, did you know that Chris Warren beat Warner by a single yard in total yardage?  When you factor in Warner had 10 more TDs while also playing for vastly superior Seahawk teams, I’m giving him the nod.  Honorable mention goes to Ricky ‘Running’ Watters.  He only played with us for 4 seasons, but was forced into retirement while still running at an elite level (and because Alexander was chomping at the bit to take over the reigns).  There’s a lot to like about Watters’ hard-nosed style, though.

Fun fact #2:  Jim Zorn is our 9th best runner, with 1,491 total yards.  Fun fact #3:  Julius Jones is #10.

At Wide Receiver, we have our consensus #1 overall choice, Hall of Famer Steve Largent.  Just putting it out there:  he’s my favorite football player of all time.  And, I gotta say, he doesn’t get NEARLY the credit he’s due, considering he owned just about every single receiving record by the time he retired after the 1989 season.  13,089 yards, 819 receptions, 100 touchdowns, 16.0 yards per catch.  He was with us from the very beginning, made Dave Krieg look like an elite quarterback at times, and it’s too bad he never got a Super Bowl championship to cap off a wonderful career.

After that, on the list we have Brian Blades and Bobby Engram.  Blades ended his career as our Number 2 receiver, picking up the slack after Largent retired; Engram became our 4th best receiver.  Sandwiched between them, and obviously not getting the respect he’s due, is Darrell Jackson.  Jackson had about 1,600 more yards than Engram and was our only semblance of a Number 1 receiver during his tenure.  I can’t fathom why Engram was picked over Jackson, except that he was more of a fan favorite.  Maybe it was Jackson’s drops early in his career.  Maybe it was his contentious relationship with management that soured him on Seahawks fans.  Or, maybe it was all those clutch 3rd down receptions Engram made to extend drives during our best Seahawks seasons in the ’00s.

My Official Second Team, therefore, will lead off with Jackson.  I’m also going to take Joey Galloway, who would’ve been an absolute SUPERSTAR had he not made beef with Holmgren and forced his own ouster (as a plus, it should be noted that we received two first round draft picks from the Cowboys in exchange for his services; he was helping the Seahawks even when he wasn’t playing for ’em).  It’s that third receiver that’s giving me fits, though.  On our all-time receiving yards list, John L. Williams is #6, but he’s obviously NOT a wide receiver.  Discounting other running backs and tight ends, the stats would tell me to pick Koren Robinson, but I’m most certainly NOT going in that direction.  If I were picking an actual team, then I’d have my speed guy (Galloway), I’d have my Number 2 flanker (Jackson), so I’ll need a slot guy to round out the trio.  Here’s where I throw you my curveball:  Paul Skansi.  He was only #14 on our all-time yardage list, but he had one of the most memorable catches in Seahawks history, and I think he’d be an excellent complement to who I have.

Tight End is probably the most questionable choice the fans made:  John Carlson.  Don’t get me wrong, I like the guy.  I think, without question, he WILL be our all-time best tight end when all is said and done.  But, he’s only been here for 3 years!  Granted, in terms of all-time Seahawks tight ends, he’s #3 on the list for total yardage, but that just shows how TERRIBLE we’ve been, as a franchise, at the tight end position (see:  Jerramy Stevens).  Right now, I’ll take Itula Mili over both Carlson and Christian Fauria (#2 in total yards).  He was a steady contributer, an excellent run blocker, and an all-around pro’s pro.

At Full Back, who could argue with Mack Strong?  He was, bar none, our greatest asset in the running game when we were at our best.  Shaun Alexander wouldn’t have had NEAR the success he had without Strong clearing the way.  Plus, that NAME!  That’s just an all-time great NFL name no matter WHAT team you’re on!  For my personal Second Team, I’m going the other way with John L. Williams.  I don’t remember what kind of a blocker he was – he seemed more like an oversized running back than a traditional full back – but he was an asset both rushing and receiving.  I mean hell, you heard me mention him earlier:  he’s our #6 all time receiver in yardage!  Helluva guy, very under-appreciated considering he played for some down teams.  Not for nothin’, but he’s also our 4th best rusher in terms of total yards.

At Offensive Line, like I said earlier, I couldn’t possibly pick a Second 5.  Soon-to-be Hall of Famer Walter Jones anchors our left side along with Probable Hall of Famer Steve Hutchinson.  Rounding it out, we’ve got Robbie Tobeck at center (making that 3/5 of our Super Bowl line).  On the right side, we’ve got Bryan Millard and Howard Ballard.  I don’t remember too much about those guys, except I think Ballard was one of the fattest individuals to ever play the position.  Don’t quote me on that.

In Part II, I’ll look at the defensive side of the ball.  I don’t know how much help I’ll be there, but I’ll give it my best shot.

Player Profile: T.J. Houshmandzadeh

Will the best Seahawks receiver in 2010 be T.J. Houshmandzadeh?

Oh Joy

The best football players are inevitably the ones you draft yourself.  I’m THIS close to just writing off any free agent we sign as Soon-To-Be-Busts, no matter their pedigree coming in.  At best (Patrick Kerney), you’ll get one Pro Bowl-calibre season before all goes to hell in a pile of injuries, ineffectiveness, and discontent.

T.J. Houshmandzadeh is no exception.  Except, I guess he kinda is, since his season last year wasn’t THAT bad.  I’m not prepared to dump all over 79 receptions and 911 yards just yet, and here’s why:

How many 1,000 yard receivers have we had since Hasselbeck’s been the starter?  That’d be Bobby Engram in 2007, Darrell Jackson three times, and Koren Robinson once.  How many 100-catch receivers have we had in that span?  That’d be a big 0.  The highest by far was Engram in 2007 with 94; but if you go back you’ll see a lot of Hasselbeck’s leading receivers in the 60-catch range.  You get what you get with Hasselbeck, and that’s a guy who spreads the ball around as well as anyone in the league.

Of course, you could attribute that to a lack of a real dominant #1 receiver, and I wouldn’t call you a liar.

Now, one of the big disappointments in Housh’s season last year HAD to have been the lack of touchdowns.  I mean, he only caught 3.  Then again, the number 3 was tied for second among our receivers in touchdowns caught, which is a testament to how bad our offense was all around.

Let’s face it, Housh wasn’t responsible for blocking the ever-swarming pass rush that bogged down our quarterbacks last year.  Maybe if we had a few less 3-and-outs, there would’ve been more passes to throw around.  I dunno.

Nevertheless, 79 catches for 911 and 3 TDs isn’t exactly what we were expecting to get when we signed him to the 5-year, $40 million ($15 guaranteed) deal.  I think we were looking for something a little more 90+, 1000+ yards, 10+ TDs.  You know, something a little more in line with his 2006-2008 Cincinnati numbers.  Again, I’m not ready to write him off, but you gotta wonder if 79 and 911 isn’t the beginning of a slow decline.  Apparently he was bothered by a “sports hernia” last year – before even signing with us, as chance would have it – that slowed him down a bit.  Is that a one-time thing that’s been repaired with the offseason’s surgery?  Or is that the first of a string of injuries?

Here’s something he could do to help his cause, if indeed this is the beginning of the end:  shut the hell up.  Let’s face it, this isn’t New York or Dallas (or even Cincinnati); we don’t really think it’s cute when overpaid players mouth off while underproducing.  Our hall of famer is Steve Largent, a pro’s pro.  Our most loathed player is Brian Bosworth, a jackass of the highest order.  Around here, you’re going to want to be more Largent and a lot less Boz if you want those fans chanting “HOOOSH” to not shout “BOOOO”.

In the end, the overwhelming majority of football fans are blue-collar working-stiffs.  While the world advances all around them in new and exciting ways, the blue-collar working-stiff is stuck in the 1950s where men were men and football players simply turned and handed the football to the ref after scoring.  They don’t like it when millionaires bitch and moan about not getting enough balls thrown their way.

And I don’t like it when my team shells out millions of dollars to aging players who never live up to their previous hype.

Player Preview: Matt Hasselbeck

{{In an ongoing series throughout the preseason, I’ll be going over specific players looking to make some impact on the Seahawks this year.}}

So, where better to start than with quarterback Matt Hasselbeck?

The Sexy Beast On The Left

The Sexy Beast On The Left

First and foremost, it should probably be mentioned that our starting quarterback has officially had his name changed for him to, “Matt Hasselbeck, if he stays healthy …”  Which I think is unfair, because you could make that claim about pretty much every team.  Let’s look at it logically, it’s HARD to stay healthy in the NFL for a full 16.  Luck plays a factor for sure, just look at all the fluke injuries out there.  Linemen roll into the legs of quarterbacks all the time; why is it that only certain times they end up costing players their seasons while others are able to limp it off?  Who’s to say the next time you plant your foot in the turf won’t be the time you tear a tendon?  Or, you know, who’s to say the next time you dive towards the endzone and get seriously thumped by Patrick Willis will mean a broken rib or two?  Patrick Willis isn’t out there breaking EVERYONE’S ribs!  Yet, I’m sure he still hits people with the same ferocity.

I’m probably biased though.  I generally like Matt Hasselbeck, and not just because he’s charming as a motherfucker in radio interviews.  He’s also been a quality player for us when they’ve been pretty few and far between (even in a brief history as is ours).  Certainly, he’s the best quarterback in team history; without question he’ll be in the Ring of Honor as soon as he hangs ’em up.  The man just might pass 30,000 yards if he plays his cards right this year.  He’s got a 60% career completion percentage.  He’s led us to our only Super Bowl appearance!

And he’s only 34.  Now, I know that sounds like a lot, but a good quarterback who keeps himself in shape can and generally does play until he’s 40.  In fact, you could say Matt Hasselbeck is in his prime.  I mean, shit, look at all the crapshoots out there getting drafted by all these teams!  What percentage will go on to do even what Hasselbeck has done?  I’m not even calling Matt a hall of famer; I think he’s in that range just below the HOF.  To do what Hasselbeck has done in his career takes a kind of talent and focus and intelligence that most quarterbacks just don’t have.  He might play 6 more seasons; in the NFL 6 years is pretty much forever.

All that having been said, he can’t do it alone.  I don’t know if I see Hasselbeck as the kind of guy who makes a team particularly better.  He’s not a simple game manager; he’s definitely more than that.  But, he’s not exactly one of the elites who takes no-name wide receivers and turns them into multi-millionaire stars.  I think a lot of the wideouts we’ve had over the years (Jackson, Engram, Burleson, etc.) have been totally underrated and have fit the Holmgren scheme perfectly.  I’d say, more than anything, the mounting evidence that a lot of people are touting – that Hasselbeck is a product of the West Coast Offense and can’t necessarily be plugged into any ol’ offensive scheme – is more accurate than most Seahawks fans wish to believe.  I hope that’s not the case.

We can’t necessarily take 2009’s season into account though.  After all, we were playing behind one of the worst offensive line units the team has ever seen.  It was a miracle that Hasselbeck played in as many games as he did!  When you’re harassed as much as he was, as quickly as he was (generally well under 5 seconds), you’ve got no choice but to rush your passes because the last thing you want to do is take a sack.  And, maybe there were too many turnovers due to that fact, and maybe not all of those turnovers were a result of a particularly quick rush, but the fear will ultimately take over.  As the season went on, he probably just assumed that there’d be a rush, because so very often a rush was there anyway.

One knock I’ve had against Hasselbeck that may or may not be fair is that it takes him more time than it should to get used to new receivers.  He seems to develop a trust with people, slowly.  And it doesn’t help when guys get hurt all the time Deion Branch.  Well, this is his second season with T.J. Houshmandzadeh.  And he’s had some time with Deon Butler and Ben Obomanu as well.  John Carlson appears to be a healthy target that Matt likes throwing to.  I expect better in this department in 2010.

Ultimately, his success will depend on the new offensive line (with a rookie and a veteran manning his blind side) and how well they gel and hold up.  If the rookie is as good as is hoped, if the veteran can gut it out, I think we’ll be okay.  But, if that left side goes to pieces, we certainly don’t have the depth for that side to be anywhere near effective.

The line will dictate how the running game does as well.  Matt has almost always enjoyed a supurb running game in his time as a starter.  With Big Walt’s departure, so has that safety net.  In recent seasons, we’ve asked for more of a load to be carried by the quarterback as a byproduct of an ineffective running game.  I’m not saying Matt isn’t game for this challenge; I’m saying that any quarterback would prefer having his load lightened by a workhorse behind him.

So, how will he do in 2010?  Well, Matt Hasselbeck, If He Stays Healthy … should do just fine.  Actually, he’s kinda the least of my worries.  If he gets hurt, then we get to see what this Whitehurst guy is made of.  Of course, no quarterback is a champion overnight (unless your name is Tom Brady).  But, I’m not willing to give up on Hasselbeck just yet.