Should The Seahawks Undervalue Offensive Linemen?

It’s something I brought up in yesterday’s post, that got to gnawing at me a little bit today.  Value over quality.  Instead of keeping your offensive line intact for a long period of time – by handing out contract extensions once their rookie deals lapse – just reloading with fresh, young rookies and hoping for the best.

Is that the best way to go?

Obviously, this gets back to the realm of Can’t Pay Everybody.  Would you rather have quality linemen at most or all of the offensive line spots?  Or, would you rather have a franchise quarterback, All Pros/Pro Bowlers at Safety, Cornerback, Linebacker, Defensive End, and so on?  Something’s gotta give, and the Seahawks have decided that something is the O-Line, the running back position, the interior defensive line, and to a lesser extent the wide receivers.

Well, to figure out the right way to build a roster, it’s kind of simple, actually.  Just factor in that position at a Pro Bowl level and compare it to a “replacement level” player.

If you start at quarterback, it’s clear as day.  Look around the league, at the teams making the playoffs every year.  The best teams generally have a top-level quarterback.  The mediocre teams and the bad teams are generally employing (or are forced to use, due to injuries) replacement level quarterbacks.  Nobodies.  The Brian Hoyers of the world.

Going down the line, what’s the difference between Earl Thomas and Brian Russell?  Pretty huge difference there, right?  What’s the difference between Ricahrd Sherman and Kelly Jennings?  Again, pretty huge.  Bobby Wagner vs. David Hawthorne?  Michael Bennett vs. Grant Wistrom?  I could go on and on, just comparing quality Seahawks on the roster now vs. mediocre ex-Seahawks who brought this franchise to its knees with their bumbling.

Now, what’s the difference between Marshawn Lynch and Thomas Rawls?  I know we’re talking about a REALLY small sample size, but as a rookie the Seahawks were able to find a player in Rawls who averaged 5.6 yards per attempt.  This wasn’t just a third down back hitting on some big runs; this is a guy who got significant action, in a starting role, before that ankle injury cut short his season.

What’s the difference between Doug Baldwin and someone like Alshon Jeffery (random example, I know).  Jeffery is considered to be a significant upgrade in talent – a true #1 receiver who’s able to win a lot of jump balls and really be a force on offense.  But, their career yards per catch are within a yard of one another, and Jeffery never had a season where he caught 14 touchdowns like Baldwin did last year, under a relatively modest salary.  A guy like Jeffery on the open market would command top dollar; a guy like Baldwin might still be had for a bargain, considering his overall production value.  Should the Seahawks break the bank on a guy like Jeffery, or should they extend a guy like Baldwin for a modest sum and get just as good production, if not better in certain areas?

If I may slide around to the point of the post:  what’s the difference between Russell Okung and Garry Gilliam?  I have no idea.  Based on his play at right tackle last year, you could argue Gilliam is a big dropoff.  But, the left side is his more natural side, and he’s had a whole offseason to bulk up and work on technique, so you’d hope there will be some improvement gained by health and experience alone.  If Gilliam can be a league-average left tackle, that’s not so much of a drop-off from Okung.

If you compare the rest of our offensive line to, say, the Cowboys (who are touted as doing it “the right way”, by investing heavily at all spots along the offensive line), what is the drop-off?  Well, let’s look at the 2015 regular season.

  • In rushing, the Seahawks were third in the league, with 2,268 yards; Dallas was ninth with 1,890.
  • In pass protection, the Seahawks gave up 46 sacks, good for 6th-worst in the NFL; Dallas gave up 33, tied for 11th-best.
  • In QB hits, it’s even worse.  The Seahawks gave up 114 hits, 3rd-worst in the NFL; Dallas gave up only 67, 5th-best.

So, yeah, the pass protection half of the O-Line’s duties is pretty dire.  If we’re unable to get those numbers way down to at least league average, it’s only a matter of time before Russell Wilson gets injured and we lose a season to backup quarterback play.  But, it is only half the battle, as the Seahawks play it pretty close to 50/50 in the run/pass department.  We’re getting good run production, which is a big help, compared to teams throwing the ball 2/3 of the time and increasing the risk to their quarterbacks that way.

The thing that everyone talks about regarding offensive line play is continuity.  You need your linemen to be healthy, and you ideally want them playing together for a long time.  It’s why a Seahawks line as bad as it was in Week 1 last year can improve the way it did, to where it WAS a league-average unit by Week 17.  Those same five guys, for the most part, played together every week, and experienced a bump in productivity as a result.  Imagine what that would look like if you could have the same line playing together over the course of YEARS!

Well, you don’t have to think too hard, because you can look at those O-Lines we had in Seattle during Holmgren’s peak years.  Doesn’t hurt that those lines had a hall of famer in Walter Jones, but they were also veterans who had played together a bunch (until it was unceremoniously broken up in the Poison Pill fiasco).

The key to the whole thing is just getting a league average unit.  If the Seahawks can do that by paying guys peanuts, I believe it’s entirely worth their while.  Because you can get by with league average offensive line play; whereas you can’t get by with league average quarterbacks, or league average secondaries, or a league average pass rush.

Yeah, continuity is great, and pumping a lot of resources into the O-Line is fantastic if you can afford it.  But, no team is immune from the injury bug.  And just one or two injuries to key offensive linemen can completely dismantle the whole thing, leaving you not only over-paying for a position that’s on the IR, but stuck with replacement players anyway who are thrust into starting spots they’re not ready for.

In my book, with the right coaching, some smart drafting, and a little luck, you can skimp on the O-Line – like you can at running back, defensive tackle, and so on – and still get good-enough value to make your team a championship contender.

I’m not worried about the Seahawks’ O-Line.  Then again, I haven’t seen them play, so check back with me again in August.

The 2012 Seahawks’ Draft Class Is Very Wealthy

I’ll never EVER get tired of mocking this Bleacher Report post that gave the Seahawks an F grade for their 2012 draft class.  Let’s overlook, for a moment, the fact that grading a draft class the day of, or the next day, or even in the first year, is pretty ridiculous.  You don’t know how good or bad players are going to be!  All you know is what the Mel Kipers of the world have been blathering on about, and they don’t know anything either!  Grading a draft class based on pre-draft projections and predictions is pretty silly.

But, there are some real juicy pull-quotes from that Bleacher Report link.  They called Bruce Irvin, “one of the worst picks in the first round I can ever remember,” before going on to say that the Seahawks, “didn’t draft any positions of need or draft for the future.”  Let’s run down those draft picks really quick:

  • Bruce Irvin, DE/OLB, 1st round, 15th overall
  • Bobby Wagner, MLB, 2nd round, 47th overall
  • Russell Wilson, QB, 3rd round, 75th overall
  • Robert Turbin, RB, 4th round, 106th overall
  • Jaye Howard, DT, 4th round, 114th overall
  • Korey Toomer, LB, 5th round, 154th overall
  • Jeremy Lane, CB, 6th round, 172nd overall
  • Winston Guy, S, 6th round, 181st overall
  • J.R. Sweezy, RG, 7th round, 225th overall
  • Gregg Scruggs, DE, 7th round, 232nd overall
  • Jermaine Kearse, WR, undrafted free agent
  • DeShawn Shead, CB/S, undrafted free agent

I tacked on those key undrafted guys to bolster my argument, but also because they’re still significant players in the NFL.  But, let’s look at this for a moment.  I’m sure I’m not the first to rail into Bleacher Report on this very topic, but they mentioned the Seahawks didn’t draft any positions of need.  Didn’t they?  Let’s look at the 2011 Seahawks for a bit.

Regarding pass rush – which they addressed in the first round with Bruce Irvin – the 2011 Seahawks were in the bottom third of the league, with 33 sacks.  They were essentially Chris Clemons and that’s it.  Looks like a position of need to me.

Regarding the middle linebacker spot – which they addressed in the second round with Bobby Wagner – the 2011 Seahawks were rolling with the aging and injury-prone David Hawthorne.  Lofa Tatupu was gone, K.J. Wright might have gotten a look there, but he’s better suited as an outside linebacker.  And, let’s not forget Aaron Curry on the other side; no help there!  I’d say middle linebacker was a HUGE area of need!

Then, there’s quarterback.  I’ll forgive Bleacher Report if they didn’t believe that the short, running quarterback could hold up in the NFL.  But, to say that quarterback wasn’t an area of need for this team – this team that was trotting out Tarvaris Jackson and Charlie Whitehurst the year before – is insanity.  And, don’t give me Matt “2 starts in the NFL” Flynn, because he was never going to be a sure thing.  In their analysis, Bleacher Report went on to say that Wilson, “doesn’t fit their offense at all,” and was “by far the worst move of the draft.”  Even in the infancy of Wilson’s professional career, while I might understand some doubt, I can’t even remotely understand how drafting him in the third round would be one of the two worst moves in the entire draft (with Irvin being the other one).  By all accounts at the time, if Wilson were only 2 inches taller, he would’ve been a first round, maybe even Top 10 draft pick.  He had all the tools, all the intangibles, everything going for him but those two inches.  The WORST pick?  Seems like hyperbole got the better of Bleacher Report here.  But, either way, what’s that about “fitting the offense”?  What offense?  You mean the one that likes to run the ball a lot?  You mean the one where Tarvaris Jackson was under pressure on a near-constant basis?  Seems to me a running quarterback – behind that suspect offensive line – was EXACTLY the right fit for our offense.

Anyway, I could go on and on.  But, I didn’t really intend on this being a Kill Bleacher Report post.  They’ve been killed enough, by a plethora of other writers out there.  What I want to look at is just how great this class really was.

For starters, all of the guys listed above – each and every person drafted, plus those two undrafted cats – are still in the league four years later.  That’s pretty big, when you think about it.  How many busts have we seen get drafted and are out of the league a few months later?

Now, obviously, not all of these guys are still with the Seahawks.  But, that just goes to show you how strong this class really was:  we couldn’t afford to keep them all!  Hell, at the moment we only have 5 out of 12 of those guys, and Shead’s on the last year of his deal!  Nevertheless, everyone but Shead has seen a second deal, and Shead is all but guaranteed to join the party after the 2016 season, given his versatility.

On top of that, five of those guys have pretty wealthy second deals that they’ve recently signed, with another couple more making some serious money too.  Below, I’ve re-listed all those guys, with how much money they earned on their rookie deals, as well as their general current contract terms next to it.

  • Irvin – $9 million earned / 4 years, $37 million, $19 million guaranteed
  • Wagner – $3.3 million earned / 4 years, $43 million, $22 million guaranteed
  • Wilson – $2.2 million earned / 4 years, $87.6 million, $61.5 million guaranteed
  • Turbin – $2.5 million earned / 1 year, $760K in 2016
  • Howard – $2.5 million earned / 2 years, $10 million, $8.3 million guaranteed
  • Toomer – $1 million earned / 1 year, $600K in 2016
  • Lane – $2.3 million earned / 4 years, $23 million, $11 million guaranteed
  • Guy – $1.8 million earned / 2 years, $1.42 million
  • Sweezy – $3.4 million earned / 5 years, $32.5 million, $14.5 million guaranteed
  • Scruggs – $1.6 million earned / 2 years, $1.3 million
  • Kearse – $3.8 million earned / 3 years, $13.5 million, $6.3 million guaranteed
  • Shead – $2.2 million earned / 1 year, $760K in 2016

All told, that’s $35.6 million earned, with another potential $251.4 million in their current contracts (with Shead’s second deal to come next year) and $142.6 million in guaranteed money.  If you ask me, that’s a pretty nasty draft class.  2012 is the type of draft you only dream about.  It not only sets you up to win now, but to win for many years down the line.  We’re talking about 7 starters, 5 more reserve/rotation guys, with an All Pro and a Pro Bowler in the mix.  Outstanding!

#6 – Bobby Wagner

To see the full list of the 20 best Seahawks in 2012, click here.

Man, February is the WORST for sports blogging.  The NBA can’t get back to Seattle quick enough for me …

Bobby Wagner is just another in a long line of impressive draft picks from the brain trust at Seattle Seahawks Incorporated.  I mean, I REALLY can’t stress enough how mind-blowing it is to have all these guys who are not only home-grown, but who are QUALITY home-grown!  The Seattle Mariners are totes jelly right now.

Let’s start with the secondary and work our way forward:  Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor, K.J. Wright, Bobby Wagner, Brandon Mebane, Red Bryant, Bruce Irvin:  all defensive starters or would-be defensive starters, all drafted by the Seahawks, all under the age of 30.  That’s potentially 8 of 11 starters going into 2013!  And, realistically, you’ve got enough drafted depth behind those guys to fill in the rest of the holes and not lose much of a step.

On the offense, we’re looking at a situation where free agency and trades have made more of an impact, but you’ve still got Russell Wilson, Russell Okung, Max Unger, Pancakes Carpenter, and Golden Tate who are all starters, all drafted by Seattle, and all under 30.  So, 5 of 11 (with Lynch, Miller, McQuistan, Giacomini, Robinson, and Rice rounding out the rest of the group), but plenty of drafted depth with the likes of Turbin, McCoy, Baldwin, Moffitt, and Sweezy to round things out.

Granted, there are a couple of IFs along the offensive line.  For instance, can two of the following – Carpenter, Moffitt, and Sweezy – lock down the offensive guard positions?  If that happens, then you’ve got 4/5 of your offensive line as Seahawks draft picks.  When you play Baldwin instead of Robinson (in 3-WR sets), you’re looking at 7 of 11 offensive players.  Essentially, as a team, that puts the Seahawks at 15 regulars/starters out of a possible 22 who were Seahawks draft picks.  Incredible!

At this point, thanks to the production of guys like Bobby Wagner, we can go into the 2013 season and just ASSUME that the Seahawks will not only draft a linebacking replacement to Leroy Hill, but that he will also step right in and be a productive member of this defense.  And, Hell, if that rookie comes in and can’t hack it, well guess what:  Malcolm Smith stepped in for Hill towards the end of 2012 and did just fine in limited duty spelling the veteran.  We’ve ALREADY got a Seahawks-drafted guy under 30 on our roster to step into the starting lineup!

This post hasn’t really had that much to do with Wagner up to this point, so let’s talk numbers.  Wagner, as a rookie, came in here and led the team in tackles with 140.  That number, mind you, was 7th in the league and 2nd among all rookies (which is why he didn’t win Defensive Rookie of the Year, though he was clearly in the running).  Wagner also tacked on 2 sacks and 3 interceptions to round out just an amazing rookie campaign.  He easily made us forget guys like David Hawthorne and Lofa Tatupu, which was a pretty tall order to be sure.

In a lot of ways, Wagner was kind of an overlooked figure on the 2012 Seahawks.  When you’ve got guys like Wilson, Sherman, Lynch, and Thomas taking the bulk of the glory, Wagner just went out there, did his job, and did it at an elite level.  Before too long, he’ll be going to Pro Bowls and earning a huge amount of money.  But, for now, he’s our 2nd-year leader of this defense that’s hopefully going to bring us a Super Bowl championship.

#8 – Bobby Wagner

To see the full list of the 30 most important Seahawks in 2012, click here.

The Seahawks just traded Barrett Ruud for a conditional (read:  7th round) draft pick to the New Orleans Saints because it looks like The Heater is lost for the season and they’re short on depth at Middle Linebacker.

Another way to read that would be:  the New Orleans Saints gave a bunch of money to a guy with injury concerns, then traded for another guy with injury concerns because the first guy with injury concerns got injured; meanwhile, the Seahawks are high on the hog with draft pick after draft pick that has hit big.  In fact, the Seahawks are so confident with the young players they’ve got, they’re willing to toss aside any and all veteran loose ends for whatever crappy draft picks you’re willing to offer.

This is what it feels like to have a front office that knows what it’s doing.  Treasure it.

The Seahawks have a 4th round draft pick playing outside linebacker and now they’ve got a 2nd round draft pick playing middle linebacker.  For good measure, they’ve got a 3rd rounder in Leroy Hill as well.  Good teams develop their own talent; they don’t try to poach from other teams when players have already passed their primes.

I was a little wary of spending such a high draft pick on something as easy to plug as linebacker, but I suppose you have to spend a little more capital when you’re talking about the middle linebacker position in a 4-3 defense.  You need a guy with smarts, with instincts, with hard-hitting ability.  And, it appears we have that with Bobby Wagner.

Thus far, after two pre-season games, I have yet to hear a bad thing about Wagner.  He doesn’t have any turnovers or anything massive; but he makes the tackles he’s supposed to make and that’s all I really care about right now with a rookie middle linebacker.  Be in the spot you’re supposed to be in and make the plays when they come to you.

The Seahawks have had a number of high-profile middle linebackers over the years; some (Lofa) better than others (The Boz).  Wagner doesn’t strike me as the kind of guy who’s going to be going to a million Pro Bowls (unless this defense really does make the leap to #1 in the NFL, in which case just about everyone will be going to Pro Bowls).  But, he does strike me as a solid, dependable guy.  Someone who won’t make all the flashy plays, but will make most of the regular plays to be effective.

What he can’t be is a total and complete dud.  We’ve handed him the starting job as a rookie to be the quarterback of this defense.  I know it’s not all on his shoulders; K.J. Wright is going to help with the calls.  But, what we don’t need is another Aaron Curry debacle.  We may have enough depth to jettison a guy like Ruud, but that doesn’t mean I’m all that thrilled about the prospects of a Heath Farwell as our starting MLB.

#16 – Kam Chancellor

To see the full list of the 30 most important Seahawks in 2012, click here.

A Pro Bowl safety in his second full season, his first full season as a starter.  One of two Pro Bowl safeties on this team.  And one of three Pro Bowl players in this team’s secondary.  This is the reason why I believe the Seahawks are no stronger at any position (or group of positions) than they are in their secondary.

Kam Chancellor (who really needs a good nickname at this point), was third on the Seahawks last season in tackles with 97.  That two of their top three players in tackles were both safeties kind of says something about this defense.  On the downside, you could say that they’re weak at linebacker (especially considering the team’s leading tackler – David Hawthorne – is gone).  On the upside, you could say that this team was so good at stopping the run that most teams predominantly threw against us.  I think you know by now, I like to focus on the positives on this site, so let’s go with the latter explanation.

Chancellor was tied for second on the team in interceptions last season with four.  Earl Thomas could only muster two.  He also had 13 passes defended to Thomas’ 7, and 3 forced fumbles to Thomas’ 1.  You might think me an idiot, therefore, to rank Chancellor at #16 while Thomas is ranked #5.  After all, Chancellor is a fifth round pick who has been out-performing a highly-touted first rounder!

I will counter that by first saying, yes, I like Kam Chancellor.  He is one of the many, MANY reasons why I have so much faith in Pete Carroll and John Schneider.  The fact that they are able to get the kind of production out of guys like Chancellor, Sherman, Browner, Wright, Baldwin – all guys either drafted late or completely undrafted – leads me to believe that they know more than the average bear head coach/GM duo.  I think Chancellor was very deserving of going to the Pro Bowl last year (even if he was in via being an alternate).  But, that having been said, Earl Thomas has the higher upside.  And I think this is the year Earl Thomas goes from being just a good Pro Bowl safety to being the next Ed Reed.

As for Kam Chancellor, I just want him to continue being Kam Chancellor.  A hard-hitting, opportunistic strong safety who solidifies our secondary as one of the best in all of football.  And, hopefully, one of the best All Time.

The Seahawks Need Linebackers!

I don’t use punctuation in my titles often, so you KNOW this is important!

With David Hawthorne signing a long-term deal with the Saints, the Seahawks are – as they say in the business – fucked at linebacker.  K.J. Wright is the only returning starter, and he was a rookie last year.  In fact, all of the linebackers on our roster right now (save special teams standout Heath Farwell) are coming off of rookie seasons.

My Kingdom For An Isaiah Kacyvenski!!!

Of the rookies, Malcolm Smith and Mike Morgan (both USC alums) figure to at least get looks at replacing what we’ve lost this offseason.  I wouldn’t be surprised if they decide to move K.J. Wright to the middle linebacker slot (if memory serves, didn’t he play a game in the middle last season when The Heater was out with injury?).

The most obvious next step for the Seahawks will be through the draft.  Preferably in the middle or late rounds (or, shit, from the ranks of the undrafted).  I think it’s been widely proven of late that teams can get away with linebackers outside the first three rounds of the draft.  Even though Linebacker is a need right now, I don’t want to see this team go and blow its #12 overall draft spot on some guy who won’t be much better than a guy in the 5th round.  I just don’t see this as the type of defense that really needs to over-value the linebacker position.

The other way to go is via Free Agency.  I have a strong feeling the Seahawks will sign at least one veteran type and then bulk up on depth with rookies.  The obvious choice is Leroy Hill; I still say we should bring him back on a 1-year deal.  It’s not like he’s going to do any better elsewhere.  And, as I’ve argued already, he’s an inexpensive alternative who should still be productive in the short term.

If we wanted to look elsewhere, why not someone like Jonathan Goff?  He’s very young, having only played in three seasons for the Giants before missing all of last year with an ACL tear.  Granted, you don’t like anyone coming off of an injury like that, but if the price was right, he could be a diamond in the rough.

People seem to want to tie us to E.J. Henderson, but I’m just not buying it.  As a veteran, it probably wouldn’t take him long to learn the system.  But, really, having watched Pete Carroll and John Schneider thus far, what makes you think they’re going to go out of their way to sign a guy who’s been in the league for a decade?  You can also throw guys like Aaron Maybin and London Fletcher into this mix.  If the Seahawks wouldn’t re-sign Lawyer Milloy – given his productivity in the 2010 season, not to mention his leadership ability – they’re sure as shit not going after some of these aging scraps.

An interesting name, who’s not terribly old, is Brandon Johnson.  He’s played for the Bengals for the last four seasons, and while his numbers aren’t all that impressive, he’s supposed to be stout against the run – something this team preaches in spades.  If the Seahawks do opt for signing a veteran and getting the rest of their linebacking crop through rookies (and if Leroy Hill just HAS to go), then Brandon Johnson might be the safest bet.

Marcus Trufant Is Released As The Great Purge Continues

The following are the players currently under contract who played under Mike Holmgren (who, again, left the team after the 2008 season):

  • Ben Obomanu
  • Brandon Mebane
  • Jon Ryan

For the record, Red Bryant was drafted in Holmgren’s final season, but he isn’t currently under contract.  Ditto John Carlson, who I believe will sign elsewhere.  Ditto Justin Forsett, ditto he’s as good as gone.  Other free agents who once played for Holmgren and are likely gone include:  David Hawthorne and Leroy Hill.

When all is said and done and Red Bryant re-signs, there will be a total of 4 players on this team who were on the team back in 2008.  That’s because Marcus Trufant was released today.

Trufant has played 9 seasons in the NFL after being drafted 11th overall in the 2003 NFL Draft.  We passed on such guys as Troy Polamalu, Nnamdi Asomugha, and Charles Tillman, which doesn’t even mention Dallas Clark, who sure could’ve solved our tight end woes in Super Bowl XL.  But, that’s neither here nor there.  We took Marcus Trufant, and I don’t think that was such a bad thing.

He always got a bad rap for being injured and for not generating turnovers.  Neither one of those accusations I find fair or legitimate.  Yes, it was unfortunate he was injured for the playoffs in the 2006 season, but I would hardly place all the blame on him for us getting beat by the Bears (safety play was abysmal in that game, a testament to the overtime bomb Grossman threw to get in field goal range).  Trufant only really missed significant time in 2009 and 2011, when you could argue his body started breaking down due to wear & tear.

And, as for the turnovers, it’s kinda hard to make much of an impact when quarterbacks rarely make an effort to throw in your direction.  He still managed 7 picks in the 2007 season, when he earned his first and only Pro Bowl selection.

Trufant wasn’t the greatest cornerback ever, which might make it seem like a disappointment what with him being an 11th overall draft pick, but going into 9 straight seasons, you knew exactly what you had with Trufant.  You could write him in as a starting cornerback and you didn’t have to worry about whether he could hold his own or not.  He just balled.

The question now is:  Does Marcus Trufant Belong In The Ring Of Honor?

I say yes.  He’s without a doubt the best cornerback that’s ever played for the Seahawks.  He’s a local product and a fan favorite.  And in spite of the fact that he’s being released, he’s still got some gas left in the tank.  I think the Seahawks will do the right thing eventually.  He’ll just have to wait in line behind guys like Walter Jones, Shaun Alexander, and Matt Hasselbeck.

The Seahawks Should Bring Leroy Hill Back

What’s the big fuckin’ deal, bitch???

Everyone is sitting here assuming that Leroy Hill is a goner, and they very well might be right.  After all, we’re talking about a guy who’s on his second incident involving the police and marijuana.  My question is:  why does he HAVE to be gone?

First and foremost, the Seahawks aren’t stupid.  Guys who get in trouble with marijuana RARELY go cold turkey on the shit.  What do we know?  Leroy was arrested in early 2009 when he was caught asleep in a car full of weed.  Leroy was arrested a few days ago when he was caught with a home full of weed.  So, we KNOW he never stopped smoking weed (although it’s a good bet he stopped smoking during the season).

In spite of all that, he came back in 2011, played in every game, and was a cheap, effective alternative at his natural outside linebacker position.

Where is a position of need in 2012?  Why, that would be linebacker!  David Hawthorne is a free agent and is unlikely to come back cheap (we all know the pitfalls of overpaying for a position like linebacker).  Hill is also a linebacker, meaning we’ve only got one guy (last year’s rookie standout K.J. Wright) on roster who was a starter last season.

Why WOULDN’T we want to re-sign Hill?  We know he can still play.  We know he never stopped smoking weed.  Ergo, it’s likely he will be ready when the season starts in 2012, weed-free and ready to bust some heads.

Considering we’re looking at making some big-time purchases this off-season (Beastmode, Bryant, maybe Mario Williams and maybe Matt Flynn), we’ve got to cut costs somewhere.  Linebacker is sure to be it.  So, do the right thing, bring Hill back for another season on the cheap.

Seattle Seahawks Free Agents 2012

Here is my source.

I’m just going to talk about the 18 unrestricted free agents.  In this space, I’m going to rank them thusly:  MUST HAVE; Ehh, Either Way; and Throw The Bum Out.  Up first:

MUST HAVE

  1. Red Bryant – This was a close one, but I gotta say that what Red Bryant brings is more important to his position than what Lynch brings to his.  Let’s face it, with Bryant in at defensive end, we are a completely different defense!  We’re able to shut down running games, make other teams one-dimensional, and free up space for guys like Clemons to get in there and sack the quarterback.  It’s hard to double-team someone like Clemons when you’ve got a beast on the other end requiring two guys to stop him.  And, let’s not forget his absolute dominance along the line defending kicks.  Anytime you can retain a guy who – by himself – can take points away from another team, that’s a guy you pay premium dollars to.
  2. Marshawn Lynch – If the Seahawks aren’t going to go out in the draft and do whatever it takes to end up with Chris Polk, then I say we HAVE to get Beastmode back in the fold.  He’s easily the most marketable guy on the team right now, and he’s producing like no one since Shaun Alexander in 2005.  I would fully anticipate – based on how our offensive line improved over the course of this past season – that Lynch will compete for NFL rushing titles in the coming seasons.
  3. David Hawthorne – Now, I wouldn’t go throwing this guy insane gobs of money, but I think it’s super-important to retain The Heater.  First and foremost, he is a leader and a veteran on that defense.  It’s imperative with K.J. Wright on one side, and with whoever may or may not replace Leroy Hill on the other side (if it’s not Hill, then it’s likely another rookie or first-year starter), to have a veteran presence in the middle who is not only a smart defensive player, but still a DYNAMIC power hitter able to induce fear in opposing offenses.
  4. Michael Robinson – I talked about him before, and I still believe he is one of our four MUST HAVE guys.  A good fullback makes for a great running game.  And just look at how bad we’ve been whenever Robinson has been injured!  Fullbacks tend to get better with age (again, see:  Mack Strong).  So, I would make it a priority to not only re-sign Robinson, but to give him a good 3-year contract to keep him in the fold for a while.

Ehh, Either Way

  1. Atari Bigby – He brings depth, veteran leadership, and another hard-hitter to our secondary.  Plus, I like as many guys with dreads as possible on my defense.
  2. Leroy Hill – He played every game this year, he’s still got the hard-hitting ability, he likely won’t cost a whole lot to retain, and he was 4th on the team in tackles in 2011.  Also, not for nothin’, but he was 2nd on the team in sacks with 4.0.  The guy still has it!  Might as well bring him back, I say.
  3. Anthony Hargrove – I don’t remember a whole lot about this reserve defensive end, but I’m pretty sure I witnessed every one of his 3.0 sacks.  Hard to say if this guy made as much of an impact as I remember – seeing as he’s a journeyman who hasn’t stayed in the same city for more than 2 years at a time – but he could be good depth insurance at a position we will eventually need to address in the draft.
  4. Breno Giacomini, Paul McQuistan, Mike Gibson (tie) – Offensive line depth.  I don’t remember Gibson playing all that much (if at all), but I do vaguely remember someone saying that he’s our backup center.  Or something.  I dunno.  That’s why these guys are in this catagory; it wouldn’t kill me either way if they stayed or left.  But, considering the job the first two guys did in the absence of our injured draft picks, it would probably be ideal to keep them aboard for future insurance at a position that ALWAYS seems to be injury-prone for the Seahawks.
  5. John Carlson – Hard to believe, before this season, seeing him ranked so low on my level of favoritism, but I’ve come to the realization that the Seahawks are NEVER going to have a good tight end, so what’s the point in getting all worked up about it?  Besides, it would seem to be impractical to put a ton of money into this position (considering Zach Miller’s salary) when we’re destined to never get much of a return.  If he’s cheap and wants to stay?  Fantastic!  If he gets a better deal or opportunity elsewhere (and turns out to be an All Pro), then so be it.  It’s probably never meant to be here anyway.
  6. David Vobora, Heath Farwell, Matt McCoy (tie) – All depth.  All special teams guys.  All likely WON’T be re-signed.  If I had to put one ahead of the others, I seem to remember Farwell making a bunch of impact tackles on special teams, so let’s make him a priority over the other two.
  7. Raheem Brock – He took a significant step back this year (9 sacks in 2010, 3 sacks in 2011) and I’m pretty sure he was THIS close to not being re-signed anyway.  Throw in his legal troubles, and I would say he’s toast.  But, if he did come back, I guess I wouldn’t throw a tantrum.
  8. Justin Forsett – If he comes cheap, and he’s good for the clubhouse atmosphere, and he will keep Marshawn Lynch happy, then okay.  But, if any of those three things are untrue, then so long!  We can pick up another undersized 7th round running back!
  9. Jimmy Wilkerson – He was injured all year, so he didn’t record any stats.  He’s a 9-year veteran who hasn’t really done all that much in his 9 years (though he had a career-best 6.0 sacks in 2009), but I suppose we signed him before the 2011 season for a reason.  The fact that he doesn’t have any additional wear & tear on his legs is probably a plus.  The fact that that’s because he injured his knee so bad it put him on the IR in the preseason is most definitely a huge minus.  Ehh, either way though.

Throw The Bum Out

  1. Charlie Whitehurst – Who couldn’t see this ending coming a mile away?  He cost us a couple draft picks, millions of dollars, and all he gave us in return was a victory against St. Louis sandwiched around two abysmal defeats to the Giants (2010) and Browns (2011) where we scored a combined 10 points.  In those other games, where he appeared in reserve roles, he brought nothing to the table.  He was a preseason dandy who reverted to a dud in the regular season.  In a long line of attrocious Seahawks quarterbacks (Kelly Stouffer, Dan McGwire, Stan Gelbaugh, Rick Mirer, John Friesz, Jon Kitna, Trent Dilfer, Seneca Wallace), Charlie Whitehurst might’ve been the very worst.  Then again, Dan McGwire WAS pretty shitty, but did he cost us multiple draft picks and millions of dollars?

Seahawks Death Week: Season 2011 In Review

Let’s face it:  you and I both know that I predicted a 2-14 season out of this team.  I saw our only wins being at home against Cincy and at home against Washington (Spoiler:  we LOST both of those games and still sit at 7-8 today).  If you want to read about how awful I am at predicting anything I think I’m knowledgeable about, click here.  So, yeah, I picked the Jets and San Diego as 1 and 2 in the AFC (both teams are on the outside-looking-in right now) and I picked Dallas and Tampa as 1 and 2 in the NFC (also, HEY, who’s that NOT in the playoffs in my prediction?  Yeah, Green Bay … those terrible, terrible Packers).

In short, yeah, I’m a moron.  But, how much could you REALLY blame me?  After we signed Tarvar, I was ready with my itchy trigger finger to put this season out of its misery.  Was 2-14 pushing it a little bit?  Yeah, seeing Andrew Luck out there as the major prize of the season, I’m sure I was swayed a little bit.  But, not THAT much.  I legitimately thought Arizona was better than us.  I never saw wins coming in those games against the Giants or Ravens.  I CERTAINLY didn’t think the Rams would be as bad as they were.  And we certainly caught Philly and Chicago at the right time (with both of their QBs out).

I’m just saying, if you trade those Cincy and Washington defeats (two teams who were clearly better than I thought they’d be) for the two wins against the Rams, and look at what you’ve got:  a fluke win in New York, another fluke win against the Ravens, and some seriously lucky injury fortune against the Bears & Eagles.  The truly bad teams, even if they do get lucky once in a while, don’t usually manage those fluke wins.

And they don’t look nearly as good in their defeats as the Seahawks have looked.

Half of our eight defeats have been by 6 points or less.  And the rest (aside from that Week 2 shutout in Pittsburgh) weren’t all THAT bad until the 4th quarters, when the other teams (San Fran, Cincy, and Dallas) simply outplayed us.

So no, the Seahawks in 2011 were not TRULY bad.  They were just kinda bad.

If one thing, I feel vindicated on my initial feelings of Tarvar:  he’s not the quarterback we were looking for.  He will never lead a team to a championship, because unless things are going absolutely perfectly, his little pea brain falls apart.  He holds the ball too long, takes too many dumb sacks when he should just throw the ball away, and if you’re down by a score late in the game, you can’t trust him against the better defenses.

Tarvar’s Advocates might point to the fact that his line play was shoddy early, and his weapons have been injured nearly all season.  You know what?  The GOOD quarterbacks find a way to get the job done!  Tom Brady did it with absolute zeroes before Welker and Moss joined the team.  Those Indy receivers didn’t make Peyton Manning who he was, he made THEM.  Same with Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, etc.  Great quarterbacks can throw for 4,000 yards no matter WHO they’re throwing to.  Tarvar isn’t great; he’s hardly even good.

The main reason why the Seahawks have been better than I predicted is the simple fact that everyone on this team grew.  Our offensive line play went from one of the worst in the league to one of the best.  You can see it in Beastmode’s game log.  He didn’t register a 100-yard rushing game until Week 9 in Dallas.  Before that, he had 263 yards in 6 games (averaging a little less than 44 yards per game).  From Dallas onward, Lynch had 855 yards in 8 games (averaging a little less than 107 yards per game).  You know there wasn’t a difference in effort out of Beastmode.  That was ALL due to the line coming together.  Which is ironic, considering three of our starters were lost for the season in those final 8 games.  Meaning this was REALLY all due to Tom Cable.  When we lose him this offseason, I just might bawl my eyes out.

Other big areas of growth:  the secondary and the linebackers.  Our safeties have been with us the whole way (with Earl Thomas earning a well-deserved Pro Bowl honor) and have truly been leaders on a defense that has kept us in more ballgames than last year (when we went to the playoffs in spite of 9 blowout losses).  Factor in we lost both starting corners (Trufant and Thurmond) and yet somehow managed to IMPROVE is a testament to the eye for talent out of John Schneider and Pete Carroll.  Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner have been revelations; they’ve been EXACTLY what everyone in Seattle has been howling about since the days of Tim Ruskell.  If we had these two in our Super Bowl run, I guarantee you things would’ve ended differently in Super Bowl XL.

And as for our linebackers, we’re rolling out there a 4th round draft pick, an undrafted middle linebacker who supplanted a would-be Seahawks Legend, and a guy everyone in Seattle thought would be forcibly retired.  But Wright, Hawthorne, and Hill have risen to the challenge in a MAJOR way.  In fact, Wright is so good, he will make everyone forget the name Aaron Curry … in a hurry (shoot me now).

I’ve said this for a while now, but it deserves to be repeated:  there is a lot to like about this team, ESPECIALLY this defense.  We’re another good pass-rusher away from really dominating in the NFL.  And on offense, if we can retain Cable for ONE more year, I think it’ll work wonders on all those young linemen we’ve lost thus far.

Maybe then, you know, Zach Miller can actually run routes.  And maybe our next quarterback can air it out to the likes of Sidney Rice (who I’m not giving up on yet, even though he’s been one major injury after another in his career).  Doug Baldwin has been a HUGE asset from the undrafted ranks.  And Golden Tate continues to make strides and show flash with his speed.

2011 went from Doom & Gloom, to Sucking For Luck, to Rage & Frustration (because we didn’t suck ENOUGH for Luck), to legitimate excitement for a team that appears to be on the rise.  Yeah, this 7-9 or (God forbid) 8-8 finish is really going to cramp our style with the draft.  But, our quarterback is out there.  He HAS to be.  And we’ll find him.  In Pete & John We Trust.