A Look Back at the Impressive Draft History of the John Schneider Era

With the draft coming up in a couple days, it’s always fun to look back at all the success the Seahawks have had in their current regime, overhauling a franchise in the toilet and propping it up as world champions.  You don’t get this good, this fast, without some remarkable drafting and some remarkable coaching.  Who can say if all of these guys would have been just as good under the tutelage of lesser men?  What we know is that a lot of these guys panned out in a big way, thanks to the system we have in place.

To give the full picture, you actually have to go back to the 2009 draft, when we had Jim Mora Jr. as our head coach and Tim Ruskell calling the shots on the personnel side.

Like all of Ruskell’s drafts after his first one back in 2005 – where he nabbed Lofa Tatupu and Leroy Hill, to solidify the middle of our defense – his 2009 class was a huge disaster.  The Seahawks had the #4 pick and wasted it on a bust of a player in Aaron Curry.  Given the downward trajectory of the franchise at that point, you had to wonder where Ruskell found his erroneous sense of job security, as he traded away Seattle’s second round pick (37th overall) to the Denver Broncos for a 2010 first round pick (to further confuse matters, the Seahawks ended up trading 3rd & 4th rounders to get back into the second round – 49th overall – to select Max Unger, the last bit of good from the Ruskell regime).

With that 2010 first round pick, however, the Seahawks would build their dynasty.  As we’re all well aware, the 2009 Seahawks ended up being a trainwreck just like the 2008 variety, leading the franchise to earn the #6 draft pick in 2010.  The 2009 Broncos did their part by going 8-8 and failing to make the playoffs, which meant that their first round draft pick (which was now ours) was 14th overall.

While the 2010 draft wasn’t quite up to the elite level of the 2012 class, it seriously jumpstarted things in a big way.

  • First Round, #6 – Russell Okung (LT)
  • First Round, #14 – Earl Thomas (S)
  • Second Round, #60 – Golden Tate (WR)
  • Fourth Round, #111 – Walter Thurmond (CB)
  • Fourth Round, #127 – E.J. Wilson (DE)
  • Fifth Round, #133 – Kam Chancellor (S)
  • Sixth Round, #185 – Anthony McCoy (TE)
  • Seventh Round, #236 – Dexter Davis (DE)
  • Seventh Round, #245 – Jameson Konz (WR/TE/DE/FB)

Of note is that the Seahawks were originally slated to draft much earlier in the second round, but ended up swapping picks with San Diego (along with giving them a third rounder in 2011) to trade for Charlie Whitehurst.  So, you can’t tell me there weren’t some roadblocks in the early going of the John Schneider era.

Also, it wasn’t all peaches and cream out of Tim Ruskell in the 2009 draft, as he sold off our 2010 third round pick to get Deon Butler in that 2009 class.  The Seahawks also ended up trading back in the 4th & 6th rounds with Tennessee to grab LenDale White and Kevin Vickerson.  Vickerson proved to be an adequate defensive tackle; White never made the roster.

In a much happier deal, the Seahawks acquired their extra fourth round pick (which they used on E.J. Wilson, who didn’t pan out) and managed to get Chris Clemons from the Eagles (who very much DID pan out), and all we had to give up was Darryl Tapp.

More deals to come.  The Seahawks traded away their original fifth round pick to the Jets for Leon Washington and the Jets’ 7th round pick.  But, the Seahawks got back into the fifth round (ahead of their original pick) in a deal with Detroit where we also received some defensive end, where we only gave up Rob Sims (a guard who was never all that good with the Seahawks) and a seventh round pick.  The Seahawks would use that pick to draft Kam Chancellor, locking down their two starting safeties in the same class.

As far as I can tell, the Seahawks didn’t really get much from the undrafted free agent class of 2010, though Lemuel Jeanpierre and Breno Giacomini were both brought in that year.  And, obviously, the Seahawks would bring in Marshawn Lynch via trade during the season.  But, when you look at that draft class, you’ve got 6 key contributors, including 4 starters (Okung, Thomas, Tate, and Chancellor) and great ones at that.

That brings us to 2011, or the mule of the John Schneider draft classes.  It gets a lot of flack for being mediocre, but upon further review was pretty underrated.

To kick things off, the 7-9 Seahawks of 2010 were stupidly allowed into the playoffs by way of winning one of the worst divisions in recorded NFL history.  Even though that team had literally no chance of winning the Super Bowl, it still made some noise with the Beastquake run and the unlikely upset of the previous year’s Super Bowl champion Saints.  Of course, the Seahawks would go on to lose the very next week in Chicago, meaning that for all the hubbub, the Seahawks would end up picking 25th overall in the 2011 draft.

If you were like me, you saw this as a sign of doom.  The 2010 Seahawks were not good.  Not by a longshot.  And, to be hampered with drafting so low in the first round (and in subsequent rounds) would only set things back that much further.  Apparently unable to find a partner with which to trade back, the Seahawks made that selection James Carpenter, who started as our right tackle before getting bumped inside to guard.  Everyone thought this was a reach, and history has proven this to be true; Carpenter was adequate at best, but not a true impact player you’d hope to get in the first round.  Nevertheless, he was a starter all four years, so he wasn’t quite the crime against humanity everyone makes him out to be (indeed, his current salary with the Jets would speak to how other teams have come to value his strong run blocking abilities).

  • First Round, #25 – James Carpenter (OL)
  • Third Round, #75 – John Moffitt (G)
  • Fourth Round, #99 – K.J. Wright (LB)
  • Fourth Round, #107 – Kris Durham (WR)
  • Fifth Round, #154 – Richard Sherman (CB)
  • Fifth Round, #156 – Mark LeGree (S)
  • Sixth Round, #173 – Byron Maxwell (CB)
  • Seventh Round, #205 – Lazarius Levingston (DE)
  • Seventh Round, #242 – Malcolm Smith (LB)

The Seahawks ended up trading away their second round pick to the Lions to pick up an extra third & fourth round picks (used on Moffitt and Durham).  Recall they gave away their original third round pick in 2010 to get Charlie Whitehurst.  All in all, nothing too impressive with any of these moves, as Whitehurst was a bust, Moffitt ended up getting traded to Denver after a mediocre rookie season, and Durham never panned out with Seattle.  In that same Lions trade, the Seahawks moved up in the fifth and seventh rounds, which they used to grab Richard Sherman (GREAT!) and Lazarius Levingston (WHO?).

The Seahawks gave up their original fourth round pick in the Marshawn Lynch trade (as well as a conditional 2012 pick that ended up being a fifth rounder).  However, the Seahawks got back into the fourth round by trading Deion Branch back to the Patriots.  Branch was a turd sandwich in Seattle, and we used the pick we got from the Pats to grab K.J. Wright, who has been a stalwart for our linebacking corps.

That above trade wasn’t the last time we’d deal with the Lions.  In a spectacular move, the Seahawks traded away former bust under the Ruskell regime, Lawrence Jackson, to get the Lions’ sixth round pick, which we used to grab Byron Maxwell, a huge part of our success in his final two years here (and a great special teamer and backup overall).  That made up for giving away our original sixth round pick to the 49ers for Kentwan Balmer, who would go on to be cut prior to the 2011 season.

To wrap things up, the Seahawks traded their original seventh rounder to Philly for an offensive lineman who did nothing.  However, the Seahawks were granted a compensatory pick, which we used on Super Bowl MVP Malcolm Smith.

Among the 2011 undrafted free agents, we have Doug Baldwin (WR), Ricardo Lockette (WR), Jeron Johnson (S), and Mike Morgan (LB).  This would also be the year the Seahawks took a flyer on Brandon Browner from the CFL, among many other free agent acquisitions.

When you look at the haul of just the rookies, though, you’re talking about 10 contributors, including 5 starters (Carpenter, Wright, Sherman, Maxwell (eventually), and Baldwin).

That brings us to 2012, or one of the greatest draft classes you’ll ever see.  The 2011 were again 7-9, but thankfully weren’t saddled with a futile playoff appearance.  As such, they were granted the 12th overall selection, which they promptly traded to Philly to move back to 15.  The Seahawks were granted picks in the fourth (Jaye Howard, DT) and sixth round (Jeremy Lane, CB), and away we go!

  • First Round, #15 – Bruce Irvin (DE/LB)
  • Second Round, #47 – Bobby Wagner (LB)
  • Third Round, #75 – Russell Wilson (QB)
  • Fourth Round, #106 – Robert Turbin (RB)
  • Fourth Round, #114 – Jaye Howard (DT)
  • Fifth Round, #154 – Korey Toomer (LB)
  • Sixth Round, #172 – Jeremy Lane (CB)
  • Sixth Round, #181 – Winston Guy (S)
  • Seventh Round, #225 – J.R. Sweezy (G)
  • Seventh Round, #232 – Greg Scruggs (DE)

Not to be stopped, the Seahawks traded back in the second round as well, this time with the Jets.  We would pick up extra picks in the fifth and seventh rounds (Toomer & Scruggs, respectively).  That one didn’t totally pan out, though I would argue injuries to both players hampered their ability to make a significant impact early in their careers.  Nevertheless, you can sense a theme:  the Seahawks wanted as many picks in this draft as possible, as it was laden with talent.

No more trades until the seventh round, where the Seahawks got the pick they’d use to nab Sweezy from the Raiders, in addition to a conditional 2013 pick (which ended up being in the fifth round) for the privilege of jettisoning Aaron Curry (who would only last with the Raiders for a little over a year before being waived).  The Seahawks did trade away their original seventh rounder for Tyler Polumbus (from the Lions), who was a starter here, but wasn’t any good.

The Seahawks also got Jermaine Kearse (WR) and DeShawn Shead (CB) from the ranks of the undrafted free agents.  All told, this class netted the Seahawks 9 contributors, with 5 starters (Irvin, Wagner, Wilson, Sweezy, and Kearse), with Lane expected to start this year, given the big money he made this offseason to re-sign with the Seahawks.

Obviously, the 2012 squad made a huge leap, thanks to the Seahawks’ tremendous draft success.  In those three classes alone, you’re talking about 14 starters, and 25 contributors overall.  The 11-5 record, and first round victory against the Redskins, meant the Seahawks would draft 25th again in the first round in 2013 (as they did back in 2011).  In something of a stunner of a move, the Seahawks would trade away this pick, as well as its seventh rounder, and a 2014 third rounder, for the right to get Percy Harvin and sign him to an ill-advised huge free agent deal.

  • Second Round, #62 – Christine Michael (RB)
  • Third Round, #87 – Jordan Hill (DT)
  • Fourth Round, #123 – Chris Harper (WR)
  • Fifth Round, #137 – Jesse Williams (DT)
  • Fifth Round, #138 – Tharold Simon (CB)
  • Fifth Round, #158 – Luke Willson (TE)
  • Sixth Round, #194 – Spencer Ware (RB)
  • Seventh Round, #220 – Ryan Seymour (OL)
  • Seventh Round, #231 – Ty Powell (DE)
  • Seventh Round, #241 – Jared Smith (OL)
  • Seventh Round, #242 – Michael Bowie (OL)

The 2013 draft has proven to be the real dog of the John Schneider classes.  Nevertheless, let’s run through the moves that got it to where it was.  As a volume drafter, Schneider found multiple ways to recoup draft picks after spending so much on Percy Harvin.

To start, the Seahawks moved back in the second round, from 56 to 62, and received from the Ravens a fifth and a sixth (165 & 199).  As you can see from above, the Seahawks didn’t draft at either of those positions.  That’s because the Seahawks traded both of those picks to the Lions to get pick #137 (Williams) at the top of the fifth round.  The very next selection came from the Raiders in the Aaron Curry deal, which we used on Simon (who has been good, but has never been healthy).

The flurry of seventh rounders (none of whom were worth a damn) came from the Saints (pick 220, for some linebacker we gave them), and a couple of compensatory picks (#241 & #242).

Alvin Bailey was the only notable undrafted free agent in this class; he was a quality reserve along the offensive line, but nothing more.  All told, the Seahawks only managed to get one eventual starter in this class (Luke Willson, who has only been a starter thanks to injuries to Zach Miller and Jimmy Graham), and three other contributors (Michael, Hill, and Simon), though Spencer Ware got a crack at a job with the Chiefs and seems to be pretty good.

We all know what happened with that 2013 team, built on a rock solid foundation of draft picks.  Following that year, the team started to get picked apart a little bit, with free agents going to other teams.  With the 2013 class already looking like a bummer, the pressure was on John Schneider to right the ship with a banner 2014 draft.  He started it off by trading away our first round pick to the Vikings for a second straight year.  The Vikings would select Teddy Bridgewater with the 32nd pick in the class; the Seahawks would get Minnesota’s second and fourth round selections (40 & 108 overall).

Before Seattle could make a pick, we traded back again, this time with the Lions.  The Lions picked at 40, and also received our fifth round pick at 146 (which we got from the Raiders for Matt Flynn) in exchange for second, fourth, and seventh rounders from Detroit (45, 111, & 227).  At 45, the Seahawks finally made their first pick, selecting Paul Richardson.

  • Second Round, #45 – Paul Richardson (WR)
  • Second Round, #64 – Justin Britt (OL)
  • Fourth Round, #108 – Cassius Marsh (DE)
  • Fourth Round, #123 – Kevin Norwood (WR)
  • Fourth Round, #132 – Kevin Pierre-Louis (LB)
  • Fifth Round, #172 – Jimmy Staten (DT)
  • Sixth Round, #199 – Garrett Scott (OL)
  • Sixth Round, #208 – Eric Pinkins (DB/LB)
  • Seventh Round, #227 – Kiero Small (FB)

To make up for the loss of our third rounder (to the Vikings, in the Harvin deal the previous year), you can see why the Seahawks wanted to trade back so many times to start the draft.  They were able to pick up two extra fourth rounders.  That pick we got from the Vikings would go to Marsh, who has been a quality reserve and special teamer.  The Seahawks would use that 111th pick to trade with the Bengals to get pick 123 (Norwood) and an extra sixth rounder (Scott, who never made the team due to health concerns).  That seventh rounder from Detroit ended up being Kiero Small, who also didn’t make the team (the Seahawks would trade away their original seventh round pick to the Raiders for Terrelle Pryor, who never amounted to much of anything).

Among the undrafted free agents, we grabbed Garry Gilliam (OL), Brock Coyle (LB), and Dion Bailey (S).  At first glance, this class doesn’t look any more impressive than the 2013 class, but there are a number of under-the-radar players in there.  Right now, we’re looking at 2 starters (Britt and Gilliam), with four other contributors (Richardson, Marsh, KPL, and Coyle).  Depth guys, special teams guys, people to round out the roster.  When you figure so many of this team’s starters were already on the team ahead of this class, it’s not like you’re talking about a huge number of available openings.  Granted, a lot of this class hinges on Britt and Gilliam improving, and Richardson remaining healthy for a full season.  Should they fail, then you could make an argument that THIS is indeed the worst class of the John Schneider era.  But, until another couple years pass, it’s still TBD.

A second Super Bowl appearance for the 2014 squad meant that the 2015 Seahawks would be drafting quite low again.  With the obvious disaster of the Harvin trade looming over the franchise, the Seahawks opted to take another swing for the fences, trading away their first rounder (along with Max Unger) to the Saints for Jimmy Graham (and their fourth round pick, #112 overall).  We kick off the 2015 draft DEEP into the second round, with a controversial pick in Frank Clark (with domestic abuse allegations swirling around him, yet with an obvious cliff after him with regards to pass rushers in this draft class).

  • Second Round, #63 – Frank Clark (DE)
  • Third Round, #69 – Tyler Lockett (WR)
  • Fourth Round, #130 – Terry Poole (OL)
  • Fourth Round, #134 – Mark Glowinski (G)
  • Fifth Round, #170 – Tye Smith (CB)
  • Sixth Round, #209 – Obum Gwacham (DE)
  • Sixth Round, #214 – Kristjan Sokoli (OL)
  • Seventh Round, #248 – Ryan Murphy (DB)

The Seahawks had a ton of extra picks in this draft, which I’ll get to below.  They used a package of third (95), fourth (112), fifth (167), and sixth (181) round picks to move up to #69 from the Redskins.  That pick at 95 was our original third rounder.  That fourth rounder at 112 came from the Saints in the Jimmy Graham deal.  That fifth rounder at 167 was our original fifth rounder.  And that sixth rounder at 181 came from the Jets when we gave them Percy Harvin.  So, obviously, we sent away two picks that we got in deals, and two original picks.  We were more than happy to do so because 1) Tyler Lockett is a special player, and 2) we had extra picks throughout.

Poole was from our original fourth round pick; Glowinski was from a compensatory pick.  Tye Smith was also a compensatory pick, as were both of our sixth round guys (Gwacham and Sokoli).  That’s what you get when you don’t over-pay to keep your own players who aren’t necessarily worth big-money deals.

The only notable undrafted free agent from 2015 was Thomas Rawls, who very well may be our starting running back in 2016.  Combine him with Lockett (a Pro Bowl returner, and #3 wide receiver), Clark (valued rotation guy on the D-Line), Glowinski (projected starter at right guard in 2016), and Tye Smith (someone who will battle for minutes this pre-season) and you’ve got the makings of a very good draft class, that could be great if some of these players turn into elite starters.

With the 2016 draft class supposedly dripping with talent throughout, it wouldn’t be crazy to see the best Seahawks draft class since 2012.  Obviously, we’re drafting pretty low again, this year at #26, but with compenatory selections, the Seahawks already have 9 picks to select from, with a real opportunity to trade down in the first round to pick up some more (and gain some flexibility within the draft, in case we want to move up later).

I’m pretty excited for this year’s draft.  I’m sure I won’t know who these players are when I hear their names, but over the ensuing months, I look forward to getting to know them.

An Appreciation of Sidney Rice

There are rumblings that Sidney Rice will be waived very soon.  This comes as zero surprise.  There’s a $7.3 million boost to the salary cap that comes with this move.  To show you how not-surprising this move is, literally every single time I’ve ever sat down to write about the Seahawks’ impending salary cap situation for 2014 and beyond, the very first thing I’ve done every time is go to Google and type “Sidney Rice overthecap” and hit “I’m Feeling Lucky”.

Ever wondered who uses the “I’m Feeling Lucky” button?  I’m your man!

I have a difficult time bad-mouthing anything the Seahawks have ever done in the Pete Carroll/John Schneider regime, since they went and won us a championship and everything.  But, I have a feeling that people are going to look at the career of Sidney Rice in a Seahawks’ uniform and say, “Well, that was a move that totally backfired!”

The Seahawks signed Sidney Rice coming into the 2011 season.  We were coming off of a 7-9 campaign that resulted in a division championship, a wild playoff victory over the Saints, and a predictable playoff defeat against the Bears.  He signed for 5 years and $41 million, with a $6 million signing bonus.  In his three years with the Seahawks, Sidney Rice earned $23.5 million of his $41 million deal; not too shabby for three years’ work.

The 2010 Seahawks were led in receptions and yards by Big Mike Williams (65 for 751 and 2 TDs), followed by Deon Butler, Ben Obomanu, John Carlson, and Brandon Stokley (all ranging between 30-36 receptions and 318-494 yards).  Suffice it to say, the Seahawks could use some help in their receiving corps.  Golden Tate was on the roster, but he was still a rookie in 2010, and two years away from starting to break out.

There were plenty of holes on that Seahawks team, and thanks to an unlikely Divisional Round playoff appearance, we were rewarded with a low first round draft pick.  Not only that, but the 2011 season came on the heels of the Lockout, so the time to sign players and get them ready for the season was ridiculously short.

And, I don’t know if you remember anything about the free agents in 2011, but here’s a smattering of names that were available:  Mike Sims-Walker, Antwaan Randle-El, Terrell Owens, Randy Moss, T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Torry Holt, Braylon Edwards, Jerricho Cotchery, Chris Chambers, Plaxico Burress, and Steve Breaston (and those are just the names I recognize).  We had our pick of a bunch of nobodies, and a bunch of those aforementioned, over-the-hill losers.

Truth be told, Sidney Rice was the pick of the litter.  Granted, they probably should have just drowned that litter and started over, but that’s neither here nor there.

An interesting name being floated around at the time was Vincent Jackson.  He was franchised by the Chargers in 2011 and was looking to get the hell out of there.  He was a disgruntled, super-talented receiver looking for greener grass, and the Seahawks had their eyes on him.  Of course, he would have cost us a buttload of draft picks on top of what would eventually be a 5-year $55 million deal (that he would go on to sign in Tampa the very next year), and at that point it wouldn’t make a whole lot of sense for that Seahawks team (with that many holes they needed to fill through the draft) to give up draft capital just to bring in a superstar receiver.

So, the Seahawks got Sidney Rice.  And they got Zach Miller.  And those two moves sort of paid dividends, except Rice was injured through most of his first year here and ended up only playing in 9 games.  I would argue that his full participation in 2011 wouldn’t have made much of a difference, because we still weren’t that great of a football team, so I’m willing to overlook all of that.

Rice came back in 2012 and played in all 16 games, leading the team in receptions and yards.  Granted, they weren’t the greatest numbers in the world (50 for 748 and 7 TDs), but on that team, with how much we wanted to run the ball, those were indeed #1 receiver numbers.  I’d say in 2012 we got our money’s worth.

2013 was, once again, a disappointment, as Rice was only able to play in 8 games before tearing his ACL and losing out on our Super Bowl run.  Even in those 8 games, it’s hard to say he was living up to what was expected, as his numbers were WAY down compared to 2012.  That’s essentially while he was playing with the same receiving corps (Harvin and Rice never once played a down together at the same time last season).

If I’m sitting here objectively, looking at his totals over the last three seasons (97 receptions, 1,463 yards, 12 TDs, 33 of a possible 48 regular season games played), then no, there’s no way that type of production was worth $23.5 million.  97/1,463/12 are the type of numbers you’d expect out of a legitimate #1 receiver in a single season, not spread out over three.  And make no mistake, Sidney Rice was getting paid #1 receiver money.

But, here’s the thing:  what else were the Seahawks supposed to do?  Sidney Rice was the best-available option in a free agent class that could best be described as “slim pickin’s”.  We needed offensive firepower, because the previous regime left this team bereft.  And yes, Sidney Rice had injury concerns coming in (which turned out to be valid, given the number of games he missed with the Seahawks), but you have to figure that’s the cost of doing business.

Sidney Rice was never a bona fide #1 receiver for the Seahawks, but he was incredibly valuable in that 2012 run.  Likewise, once we lost him in 2013, our offense suffered tremendously.  Had the Seahawks lost in the playoffs, instead of all this joy in my heart, I would have written endlessly about how losing Sidney Rice was an underrated aspect in this past season falling apart.  Sidney Rice might have never been a true #1, but he made some catches that left my jaw on the floor.  And without him, I don’t think we would have seen near the progress in this offense from Russell Wilson’s first snaps onward.

It all boils down to football being a business.  Some fans feel a little jaded because this team paid all this money to a guy who did relatively little, but as I said before, it’s the price of doing business.  When you’re a bad team looking for a quick fix via free agency, that’s the price you have to pay to bring in talent.  Conversely, some players get upset because teams never honor their contracts.  The price of doing business:  if you’re over-compensated, you’re going to get the ax when your contract becomes too prohibitive.  Had Sidney Rice lived up to his #1 billing, then paying him a little under $20 million for the next two years would have been a relative bargain (or, at least commensurate to what he’s capable of producing).  Since he didn’t live up to his end, he’s gone.  So it goes.

Sidney Rice won’t go down as one of the greatest Seahawks wide receivers of all time, but that’s okay, because in the end we got our championship.  While he didn’t catch any game-winning touchdowns down the stretch, he was still a part of this team.  He was a part of turning around a franchise, from the lowest of lows to the highest of highs.  For that, he’ll always be remembered fondly, at least in my book.

And, with this cap savings, you could say Sidney Rice is the gift that keeps on giving.  With this $7.3 million (not to mention the base salary of $9 million we won’t have to pay next year), we’ll be able to re-sign Michael Bennett.  Or extend Earl Thomas or Richard Sherman.  His sacrifice enables our greater good.  So, don’t kick the man on his way out of town.  Thank him for his hard work and wish him well in his next endeavor.  There’s no sense in being resentful when your team is getting fitted for championship rings as we speak.

Pre-Season Analysis 2012: Seahawks vs. Raiders

There’s going to be a lot of warnings today.  REMEMBER 2009!

Yes, the Seahawks were 4-0 in the pre-season in 2009.  Yes, the Seahawks were 5-11 in 2009.  Yes, bad teams can be perfect in the pre-season and then go on to stumble in the regular season.  Yes, good teams can go 0-4 and end up winning the Super Bowl.

A 4-0 pre-season is nothing to hang your hat on, believe me, I get it.  But, I don’t think this is your run-of-the-mill 4-0 pre-season.

I think it’s funny that anti-Seahawks fans can only point out that we essentially over-paid for a backup quarterback.  Really?  That’s all you got to make fun of us for?  I know you’re big Pete Carroll haters, SURELY you can come up with something better than that!

Yes, Matt Flynn is making whatever he’s making, and yes that’s a lot for a backup quarterback.  But, it’s peanuts for a starting quarterback!  No one would be saying a got-damn word about his salary if he were starting.  And, make no mistake, he’s good enough TO be starting.  In this case, he was just out-played by someone with a higher ceiling.  It happens.  If you take their combined salaries, the Seahawks really aren’t paying their quarterbacks all that much compared to the rest of the league.

I’m getting off track from my bigger point here, which is that this team isn’t quite flawless, but it’s damn near.

I’m not totally sold on any of the quarterbacks we have on our roster, but that’s just because I’ve yet to see them play in the regular season.  I would feel the same sense of unease regardless of who we brought in; until they do it in a Seahawks uniform, there’s no feeling of comfort.  But, that doesn’t mean I don’t have faith.  I think Russell Wilson can be a great – even an elite – quarterback.  And he’s got to start somewhere.  Might as well be as a rookie.  Might as well get the growing pains out of the way early.

This post is starting to quickly turn into a Regular Season Preview, so let me stop any and all analysis of that kind here and take a step back.

The Seahawks killed this pre-season.  They killed it because they’re deep at just about every position, except wide receiver I guess.  And, this 4-0 isn’t like the last 4-0 we saw ’round these parts, because that 4-0 was largely won in the second halves of games, by reserves who wouldn’t see the light of day in the regular season.  THIS pre-season saw dominance in all quarters, by all players, and that’s encouraging.

The Raiders, yesterday, never stood a chance.  They may not stand a chance in the regular season, but let’s face it, last night they ran into a buzzsaw.  This defense has been ready for primetime since the moment they stepped onto a training camp field.  This defense is legit.  And with Arizona having QB troubles, and with Arizona having offensive line troubles, and with Arizona having only one good receiver … they’re just asking for a beatdown.  I think we can leave the offense at home in week 1 and still come away with a W.

But, that’s me getting ahead of myself again.

Can you blame me?

I thought Flynn looked okay, but again he didn’t really wow anyone, and that’s why he’s not starting in week 1.  I’m not going to say that he’s the white second-coming of Tarvar, because I still think he’s a better decision-maker.  I think if we had this Flynn on our team last year starting games, we would’ve had a winning record and an outside shot at the playoffs.  But, you can clearly see the difference between him and Wilson.  I’ll get more into this a little later, but let’s just say Flynn looks like he’s afraid to make a mistake, while Wilson is damn near fearless.

I thought all of our running backs looked good, but then again, I always think that because Tom Cable.

I thought the receivers didn’t really do much to save themselves, and I have an itching suspicion that Obomanu, Lockette, and Butler have all played their final games as Seahawks.  I could easily see the receivers shaking out like this:  Rice, Edwards, Baldwin, Tate, and Charly Martin.  Yeah, five, not six.  Because there are so many good tight ends on this roster, I think you consider Kellen Winslow as a sixth receiver in a sense.

Winslow and Miller are locks.  McCoy has had a strong pre-season.  And Sean McGrath and Cooper Helfet have both made cases for their remaining on this team.  This might be the strongest position on the entire offense (and one that no one is talking about).

As for everything else, ahh fuck it, it’s pre-season.  And pre-season is over (FINALLY).  Bring on the games!  I wish to be entertained, feeble peasants!

Conspiracy Alert: Russell Wilson Is The Seahawks’ Starting Quarterback

So, I guess not much happened this weekend, did it?  Man, I fucking knew I should have stuck around!

Uhh, so hey, should I keep going on with my 30 Most Important Seahawks series?  I’ve got six names to go and one very conspicuous flaw.  When you think you see it, go ahead and let me hear it.

Did I predict Matt Flynn would be the starting quarterback in week 1?  Of course I did.  I’m pretty sure the breakdown among fans and media alike went like this when we were told of Pete Carroll’s intention to have a 3-man competition:

  • 49.5% believed Tarvar would be the week 1 starter
  • 49.5% believed Flynn would be the week 1 starter
  • the looney tunes, batshit crazy 1% believed Star Wars would be the week 1 starter

In other words, no one in his right mind could imagine a way in which Wilson would be the starter.  Unless … this wasn’t really a 3-man competition, was it?

Of course it wasn’t!  I’ve got some oceanfront property in Kansas for you if you believe that!  This was a 2-man competition with Tarvar sitting there as injury insurance.  Tarvar was either going to be the #2 QB (with either Flynn or Wilson suffering a serious injury), or he was going to be off the team.  You wouldn’t keep him to be a #3 because you just don’t pay #3 quarterbacks $4 million; and you wouldn’t keep him as the #2 with Wilson as the #3 because obviously if Flynn failed or got injured, you’d want to see how this exciting, smart rookie could handle the fire of being thrown into the NFL his first season.

So, in reality, we’re talking about a 2-way competition.  And, if I were a man who believed in a good conspiracy (and I do), I’d say there are some REAL tell-tale signs that this thing was rigged from the get-go to give Wilson the best chance to “win” the job by the third pre-season game.

For starters, look at the schedule.  Titans, Broncos, then Chiefs.  The Titans and Broncos have MUCH better first-unit defenders – especially in the secondary – than the Chiefs, with the Broncos probably the best of the bunch.  Conventional wisdom would have dictated that Flynn would start against the Titans and Wilson would have started against the Broncos.  What did Carroll do?  He flipped conventional wisdom on its ass and started Flynn against the best defense we would see all pre-season (aside from our own, in practice).  That’s fishy any way you slice it, but not TOO fishy.  You want to see how Flynn looks against a really good defense like Denver’s, but you also want to shelter Wilson a little bit as well.  Cunning strategy, Pete, but I’m on to your tricks!

So, Flynn gets some treacherous road to hoe and Wilson gets to flash his talents against inferior players:  Advantage Wilson, albeit by a small margin, because quality of opponent.  How can we make Flynn’s job all the more difficult?

I know!  Let’s take away all his weapons and replace them with a guy who hasn’t played in over a year!

Sidney Rice was barred from even participating in practice for the first half of Training Camp (if you consider this time where we’re playing games a part of Training Camp, which I do).  Rice was wearing a red jersey and was only allowed to run routes but never participate in 11-on-11 drills.  Then, Baldwin went down mysteriously and Lockette went M.I.A. as well.  To compensate, the team went out and signed T.O. and gave heavy playing time to Deon Butler – two guys almost guaranteed to not make this team (one definitely guaranteed, now that we know what we know).  T.O. went out there in Denver – his first action after a long layoff – and pretty much did everything he could to let Flynn down.  I don’t think T.O. did it on purpose, because I think he was doing everything in his power to try to win a spot on the team and make some money, but I DO think the team forced Flynn into targeting T.O. as much as possible.  Maybe it was to see what T.O. had left in the tank … or maybe it was because they knew T.O. wouldn’t be ready and would make Flynn look all the more foolish.

If they really wanted to see what T.O. had left, wouldn’t they have left him in the game in the second half in Denver to have Wilson throw some balls his way?  Just throwing that out there, because I didn’t see T.O. at all after the first half except on the sideline.

And now, right before the third pre-season game – where Carroll has finally decided to give Wilson a shot with the starters (again, against the worst defense we’d see all pre-season) – Flynn came down with this mysterious “dead arm”.  Interesting.  It’s also interesting that the Seahawks have a policy where the media is forbidden to speak with injured players.  Not that I think Flynn would say anything, even if he WAS forced to lay low with a fake injury, but all these little pieces start to add up.

Also, surprise!  Sidney Rice is finally okay to go out and play with the first unit this week!  Would you look at that!  Only a small percentage of targets to T.O., nearly a full contingent of receivers at his disposal, the terrible Chiefs defense … who wouldn’t look like a starting quarterback in this scenario, with all of these outside factors working against your only other competition in this so-called 3-man race?

Pete Carroll is a gunslinger.  He’s also a shit-slinger, but he’s a gunslinger in the sense that he’s not afraid to take risks.  To go for the hail mary, high-risk/high-reward type of gambit over the safe choice.  I believe he and John Schneider went after Flynn believing that he was genuinely better than Tarvar and would come in to win a job accordingly.  But, once they saw Russell Wilson was still on the board in the third round of the draft, I think they saw their wild card.  Their ace in the hole.  They saw a guy they can build a team around.  A guy who could one day take this team to a Super Bowl and be a sensation in this league.  As people have been saying all along, if Wilson was only a couple inches taller, he would have been a Top 10 pick.  I’m beginning to see why.

Look, a lot of that up there that I just wrote, a lot of that is probably nonsense.  But, it’s hard to avoid the fact that things went down a little odd in this whole competition for the starting quarterback job.  Whether it was the team consciously trying to sabotage Flynn’s chances and make Wilson look better in the process, or if it was just blind, freak-ass luck that cost Flynn his starting gig, any way you look at it you have to admit one thing:  Wilson won this job.  Did he win it fair and square?  We’ll never know.  The only way we could possibly know is if both he and Flynn each played against the other team’s first-unit defenses.  Since this parallel universe thing probably doesn’t exist, we won’t know who actually deserves this job.

Maybe Wilson would have looked like shit had he started against the Titans and Broncos.  OR, maybe Wilson would have looked just as good as he did against the Chiefs.  Don’t throw that out with the bathwater either.

Is it risky to start a rookie in the NFL?  Of course, but look at all the rookies recently who have had huge impacts.  Andy Dalton last year, Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco a few years ago, hell, even Mark Sanchez guided his team into the playoffs as a rookie!  With improved scouting comes improved game play on the field.  You trust the Seahawks when it comes to just about every other position on the field; in a few short years they’ve reloaded this team and made it a contender.  Now, they’ve found a rookie they love, who looks legit, and they’ve got the pieces around him to give him a soft landing in this league.  This team is good enough to win 8 or 9 games regardless of who is playing quarterback.  Charlie Whitehurst could start with this team and get us to 8-8!  There’s no doubt in my mind that if Wilson can stay healthy, he can be one of those special rookies who sneaks this team into the playoffs as a Wild Card.

From there, the sky is the limit.

Pre-Season Analysis 2012: Seahawks vs. Titans

The Seahawks beat the Titans 27-17.  Since that’s not important, let’s get that out of the way at the top.

The thing on everyone’s mind is:  how did Matt Flynn look?  On the surface, I think you’d look at his numbers and say they look okay:  11 for 13, 71 yards, 0 TDs, 1 INT.  But, I mean, come on.  Look at the yardage.  The INT was a tough one because the linebacker kind of came out of nowhere to drop back and snatch a slightly under-thrown ball he was trying to get to an open receiver.  His best completed pass of the night was a 14-yarder to Zach Miller.  Unfortunately, while the pass was zipped in there pretty good, Flynn led Miller right into a hit that left him with a concussion and will likely cost him some practice time this week.  All the other passes were of the short, check-down variety.

Now, there are things we don’t know, obviously.  How vanilla was the offensive gameplan, for instance?  Flynn noted in his in-game interview with Curt Menefee and Warren Moon that he was just taking what the defense gave him.  If that’s the case, then I guess the defense was in a cover-2 zone all first half.  You’ll note, if you watched, that the offense seemed to really open up in the second half.  I’m thinking adjustments were made as they wanted to see what the rookie could handle.

I’m sure the local beat writers are going to play up the quarterback competition battle as being fierce right now, but I’m here to tell you all Russell Wilson’s play showed us yesterday is that we might be one step closer to Tarvar’s release.  After that, I mean, come on, let’s get real here.  He was largely playing against the Titans’ third string defensive unit.  Of COURSE he was going to go 12 for 16 with 124 yards, 1 TD and 1 INT (with another rushing TD at the end to clinch it).

The TD pass was a thing of beauty.  On the first possession of the second half, with 2nd & 5 at the Titans’ 39 yard line, Wilson launched the ball high and a couple yards short of the endzone.  Braylon Edwards had to stop, come back a little bit, get around the defender playing him one-on-one, and jump high in the air.  He caught the ball flawlessly and fell down into the endzone for the touch.  To be truthful, it wasn’t a reckless decision by Wilson as he did have one-on-one coverage and his target was an athletic Braylon Edwards.  But, really, this was a feat of sheer beauty by the receiver.  One, as I’ve mentioned before, that will get your hopes sky-high only to be dashed during a big moment of a big game in the regular season.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

After that, not a whole lot of great work by Wilson, short of a couple of really nice scrambles.  Wilson ran for 59 yards on the night, 32 of which came on a naked bootleg against the perfect defense (or lack thereof) for our final TD.  When you combine the wheels, the smarts, and the arm strength, you can see why a lot of people really like this kid.  But, let’s not start sucking each other’s dicks quite yet.  He’s still a rookie playing against a third string defense.

That all having been said, I’m not ready to name a starter just yet either.  It’ll be interesting to see how the Seahawks go next week.  Will they give Tarvar a shot to show what he can do?  Or, will they give Flynn the nod to see how he bounces back?  Will we actually get to see Flynn attempt a pass longer than 20 yards?  Will they put even MORE on Wilson’s plate by giving him the start and see what he can do against a very fearsome starting defensive unit in Denver?  I honestly couldn’t be more intrigued.

As for other players, I guess the … Turbinator (*sigh*) had an all right debut.  Nothing special about his 24 yards on 10 attempts.  It was interesting to note that Leon Washington was given some carries on that first drive; he looked damned impressive averaging over 5 yards per carry.  Hopefully Guns will get more of a chance to run behind the starting line before he gets eaten alive next week.

As far as the receivers are concerned, the only guy who really helped his cause was Braylon Edwards.  He caught just the 2 balls, but he was easily our best receiver of the night.  Granted, I don’t remember him playing much (if at all) in the first half, so take from that what you will.  Golden Tate had 2 grabs for 13 yards, Deon Butler had 1 for 10.  Obomanu and Kris Durham both had 0 catches and only 1 target apiece.  But, like I noted, not a whole lot of receiving yards period in this game.

On the defensive side of the ball, you saw a WHOLE lot of vanilla.  Of course, that vanilla was still good enough to shut down their running game for most of the first half.  It looked like our starters were in there for the entire first quarter, which was nice.  On the first play of the game, you saw a very opportunistic interception by Browner returned for a touchdown thanks to a crazy bobble by the receiver as he was falling to the ground.  At first, it was tough to tell if the ball hit the ground or not, but replays made it look obvious.  Seek that play out online, it’s worth your time.

Not a lot of sacks or pressure, but as I said before, this was a vanilla gameplan.  There weren’t a whole lot of blitzes or weird schemes being thrown the Titans’ way.  I thought rookie middle linebacker Bobby Wagner looked really good, active, and around the play at all times.  I thought Irvin had a so-so effort.  He’s got some get-off, he just didn’t have a whole lot of opportunities to make any plays.  Still, you could see him a few times getting in the QB’s face, causing him to get rid of the ball before he was ready.  He should be a menace for QBs for years to come.

As for the Titans, Hasselbeck didn’t look great.  He played just into the 2nd quarter and had 45 yards passing with 2 interceptions.  One, on the opening play, and one on his very final play, which served as a defacto punt deep in Seahawks’ territory.

Jake Locker looked much better, but then again he didn’t have to deal so much with the rabidness of the fans (who got progressively quieter as the game went on), nor the Seahawks’ number 1 defense.  Still, I was shocked to find out he wasn’t still playing in the 3rd quarter.  Made the second half of this game much less enjoyable.

If I had to guess, I’d say that Locker ends up winning this job by the time the season starts.  He was strong, decisive, and looked to throw first rather than tuck and run.  He was bitten by some drops, but I don’t think they’ll hold that against him.

As for the Seahawks, more questions than answers.  None of the receivers on the bubble really helped their cause.  None of the QBs really hurt their cause.  We’ll see what happens next week.

Seahawks vs. Titans, Pregame

I am irrationally excited about this game tonight.  You’re not supposed to look THIS forward to a pre-season game.  But, this game has it all!  Jake Locker, Matt Flynn, Matt Hasselbeck, Russell Wilson.  And, most importantly, no Tarvar!

You know who I’m most looking forward to seeing?  Bruce Irvin.  All I’ve been hearing about is how fast this kid is; if he comes out in his first pre-season game and throws down a couple sacks, I may just lose my shit.  If there was ever going to be a current Seahawks jersey I was going to buy, it just might be a rookie defensive end who gets a billion sacks.

Other than that, I’m going to have all eyes on our wide receivers.  It doesn’t sound like T.O. is going to play.  I heard Lockette and Baldwin might be out too.  And, of course, Sidney Rice won’t be anywhere NEAR this field.  So, this is the time for Obomanu, Butler, Tate, Durham, Edwards, and all those undrafted guys to get a crack at possibly making this team.  Jobs could be on the line!  When do you ever say that about a first pre-season game?

The Bud Light is going to be flowing like wine at the Taylor household tonight.  Look for me blowing Twitter’s shit up starting at 7pm Pacific.

Terrell Owens, the Seattle Seahawks, and the Revolting Receiving Problem

When teams bring in these aging egotistical troublemakers – and in this case, I’m talking about guys like Braylon Edwards and Terrell Owens – I usually have the same thought:  “Damn, those teams must be TERRIBLE at wide receiver!”

I don’t necessarily think that the Seahawks are terrible at wide receiver, but that’s probably because I’m too close to the situation.  When I look at other teams – the 49ers, the Bengals, the Jets, the Bills – who have employed guys like Edwards & T.O., I see the dregs of the dregs.  Teams so depleted, they’re practically FORCED to try these guys out.  I mean, I can see no other reason to surround your team with these perpetual headaches.

Which is why I have to take a step away from the Seahawks for a moment and REALLY look long and hard at this team:  how bad ARE they at receiver?

Instead of trying to pinpoint their greatest attributes and their potential for greatness, let’s look at them for what they really are right now.  And, right off the bat I can tell you that there are no sure things.  Sidney Rice might be, except the only thing you can be sure of with Sidney Rice is that he’s going to be injured and miss time this season.  Doug Baldwin had a nice rookie campaign, especially for someone who came in undrafted, but how much of that is true ability and how much of that is him looking particularly good in comparison to the other duds we’ve got around him?  In other words, if Doug Baldwin was a member of the 1988 Houston Oilers, would he even be their 5th receiver?

There’s quite a drop-off from there.  Ben Obomanu is the Jason Vargas of the Seattle Seahawks.  Un-exciting, un-spectacular, un-sexy.  Deon Butler is the Blake Beavan of the Seattle Seahawks, in that both of them do one thing well and ONLY one thing.  For Beavan, it’s throwing strikes.  For Butler, it’s his speed.  Ricardo Lockette also flashes a lot of speed and a lot of promise with his size, but the fact of the matter is he has only caught 2 balls in his professional career (and I keep reading about how he’s always dropping balls in camp).  And until Golden Tate proves it with a 1,000-yard receiving year, he has yet to prove he’s more worthy of playing time than guys like Edwards and T.O.  Guys who have done it at least once before (and, in the case of T.O., have done it repeatedly throughout a Hall of Fame career).

On the whole, this batch of receivers looks pretty shitty on paper.  I don’t have a great handle on the rest of the NFL and how they stack up at the position, but I would have to bet that the general consensus from fans across the country is that Seattle has the worst, if not one of the top five worst receiving corps in the entire NFL.  So, really, it’s no surprise that the agents for Edwards and T.O. have been pounding on our door.

Why would they want to come to Seattle?  Because no other team would have them.  Pete Carroll has proven to be open-minded about everyone who crosses his path.  He will give everyone a chance, no matter how old, or how long it has been since they’ve played in a live-action football game.  But, even if Seattle ISN’T their only option, I’m sure it’s their best option.  Because they love being in the limelight.  And that limelight will even reach to the farthest corner of the NFL (Seattle), because there is no one else in this market who could POSSIBLY outshine them.

This morning, and for the rest of the day, people will be talking about Seattle because Seattle is talking to T.O.  And, if Seattle signs him to a contract, these same people will continue to bring up Seattle in conversation.  And, if T.O. makes the team for opening day, Seattle will have relevance for as long as he’s healthy and playing regularly.  If you’re trying to “build up a program” as Carroll has so often said, getting the rest of the country to talk about your program is pretty important.  Because it means that you’ve arrived.  And, if you’ve arrived, then that means you’re going places.  And, with teams that are going places, you’ll have players who want to come here.

But, it’s a double-edged sword.  Because these same people will be talking about you whether you win or lose.  And, if you lose with T.O., you’d better be ready for the backlash of second-guessing.  Head coaches can survive the T.O. Experience, even if it fails.  But, if it DOES fail, it will be a fiery, spectacular failure that will be on your permanent record for the rest of your career.

My first impression of T.O. coming to Seattle was a resounding:  NOOOOOOOOO!  But, now I have to wonder:  if we’re so bad that we’re resolving ourselves to trying out 38 year old prima donnas who haven’t played in the league for over a year, are we really as settled at receiver as I once thought?  I mean, if these guys can come in out of nowhere and win starting jobs, then just how fucked ARE we?

Don’t Expect Much Out Of Braylon Edwards

Braylon Edwards is the definition of disappointment a complete fucking waste of perfectly good talent.  He’s Plaxico Burress without the arrest record.  He’s Randy Moss without the Hall of Fame numbers.  He’s Chris Chambers without a chip on his shoulder.

He is every wide receiver you hate:  extremely, freakishly talented and also lazy, soft, and a complete moron.  He is, in short, a douche.

Have you ever taken a flyer on Edwards in one of your fantasy football leagues?  Then you know what I’m talking about.  “Oh, no worries, THIS will be the year Edwards puts it all together!  For an 8th round pick?  I’d be an idiot NOT to draft him!”  And then you start him, and start him, and start him, and he gets you a couple catches for 20 yards, four catches for 50 yards, one catch for 13 yards … then you pick up someone off the free agent scrap heap with the hopes of replacing Edwards in your lineup, but guess what?  Another receiver on your roster just got injured, and this week Edwards is playing against the Lions.  SURELY he’ll have a good week against the Lions.

Zero catches, three drops.

Oh the drops.  OH THE DROPS!!!  “Braylon Edwards, streaking down the sidelines, the quarterback throws it deep … no one to beat … OH, HE DROPPED IT!  A sure touchdown and it fell right through his hands!”  How many times have we heard that?  Too many.

Too many to think that we can count on this guy to be anything but a complete nuisance.  He’s only a reasonable signing if you have him for the pre-season as Sidney Rice insurance.  Except, the Seahawks have made it perfectly clear that they’re willing to keep Rice encased in bubblewrap for the next six weeks, so what’s the point?

Do we need a slow, over-sized, erstwhile superstar who’s going to wear the number 17 and drop a bunch of passes?  We just had a guy who fit that EXACT description!  And I don’t want to hear how good Edwards looks in practice!  Not a game, not a game, not a game!  Not a game where Edwards will be out on the field dropping sure-catches on third down, single-handedly transforming a once-promising drive into a punting or field goal situation.

Show it to me in real life, Edwards.  Show me in a game situation, when the money’s on the line, that you give two shits about the game of football.  That you’re not some prima donna cashing a paycheck because you wasted all the millions of dollars you’ve accrued over the years.  Don’t show me highlight catches in practice.  Because I don’t want to see it.  Because I’ve seen it all before.  Because it’s totally and completely meaningless.

Right now, I would take every single one of the receivers we have on this roster over Braylon Edwards.  Because I know they’re going to try.  I’d rather watch guys TRY and fail than watch some jackass dog it and still fail.

You know who’s better than Braylon Edwards right now, strictly from a talent standpoint?  Sidney Rice, Doug Baldwin, Golden Tate, Ricardo Lockette, Ben Obomanu, and Deon Butler.  Right now, six guys are better than Braylon Edwards.  NFL teams don’t keep any more than six receivers on a roster.  So, fine, bring him in on a one-year deal as pre-season insurance.  But, when all six of those guys are still healthy come Week 1 of the regular season, you say, “Thanks for everything,” and you kick his ass off the team.

A young, rebuilding franchise doesn’t need a guy like Braylon Edwards unless it has absolutely no other choice.  These Seattle Seahawks are riddled with other choices.

Will Mike Williams Make The Team?

As long as we’re speculating wildly about veteran Seahawks without a shred of anything other than hearsay, I might as well look at our Wide Receiver position and take a look at things.

It’s tough to say right now how many guys the Seahawks are going to keep at the position, but I think it’s appropriate to believe six is the magic number.  Field Gulls talks about it a little bit and seems to believe there are already five guys who are as safe as safe can be, considering no formal Training Camp or Preseason has taken place  yet.  They say:

Sidney Rice, Doug Baldwin, Golden Tate, Mike Williams, and Kris Durham should all make the team.

Leaving one spot for three other guys (Obomanu, Butler, and Lockette).

First and foremost, the only guy who is ACTUALLY safe to consider a lock for this team is Doug Baldwin.  You gotta figure Sidney Rice is at least a 90-95% lock, but that other 5-10% involves whether or not he can stay healthy.  At some point, you get tired of watching a guy lose half a season to some malady and just cut ties.  I figure Golden Tate is fairly safe, but he’s going to have to take a major step forward or else this will be his last go-around with the team.

As for Kris Durham and Mike Williams, I don’t think they’re safe AT ALL.  Here’s my take on the matter:  why would you want two guys on your 53-man roster who are pretty much the exact same?  Both are tall, relatively slow, and not particularly big leapers.  Essentially, they’re both 6’5 slot receivers, which makes absolutely no sense!  Yeah, they’re going to play one of the flanker positions, but how productive can you expect them to be?

Kris Durham has a slight advantage over Williams in that he’s younger, but the same red flags remain.  He’s a guy who missed most of last season with an injury.  Williams played most of last season, but was seemingly CONSTANTLY battling some nagging thing or another.  To say he had a down season last year would be sugarcoating the obvious:  he was TERRIBLE.  And, for once, we can probably say that Mike Williams had a terrible season unrelated to him dogging it with his physical fitness.  I just think his body is breaking down and he will never again be able to contribute at a high level for a full 16-game season.  Yeah, he’s only 28 years old, but when you’re talking about a guy who has battled weight issues for a long stretch, that’s certainly going to take some years off of your legs.  Last year, Mike Williams played football like a 34 year old would play football:  slow and invisible.

If Durham can figure out a way to make a dent this offseason, I could see the Seahawks just keeping him and dropping Williams.  Then again, if they both come out and struggle, I could easily see the Seahawks waiving both.

Personally, I don’t think the Seahawks would be at all smart to let Ricardo Lockette go.  That guy might have only caught two passes last season, but those were some impressive fucking catches!  With the dearth we have as far as high-end wide receiver speed, the Seahawks can’t afford to let this guy go!  Rice isn’t a speed guy.  Williams and Durham certainly aren’t speed guys.  Obomanu and Baldwin are quick, but I wouldn’t say they have the kind of down-field burning speed we’re looking for.  As far as I can tell, it’s just Lockette and Butler (but who knows if Butler has recovered from his leg fracture?).

If I had to give you the six wide receivers the Seahawks will keep going into the 2012 season, I’d say it looks something like this:

  1. Sidney Rice
  2. Doug Baldwin
  3. Ben Obomanu
  4. Ricardo Lockette
  5. Golden Tate
  6. Kris Durham

But, we’ll see.  Maybe I’ll be surprised by one of these undrafted free agents.  Maybe some other team cuts a guy that we like.  Either way, I don’t think there’s any way in hell Mike Williams makes this team.  He was a nice feel-good story for a while there, but it looks like his time is up.

Last Dance With Golden Tate

I was thinking about the Seahawks’ receivers before I even read this, but I figure I might as well acknowledge it.

The Seahawks are currently set on exactly two receivers for next season’s team:  Sidney Rice & Doug Baldwin.  As was noted all last season, Doug Baldwin is the real deal.  He was easily our best receiver (as an undrafted rookie) with 51 catches for 788 yards.  That’s with Tarvaris Jackson as quarterback!  So, you know with a guy like Flynn, he’s probably capable of double that!

And say what you will about Rice, but when he’s healthy, he’s a force.  Granted, you have to take that health into consideration, which is why I gotta figure the Seahawks will be looking to keep an extra receiver around just for emergencies.

In the middle of the pack, all pretty safely on the team, but still fighting for significant playing time, you’ve got Mike Williams, Ben Obomanu, Kris Durham, and, of course, Golden Tate.

There’s no denying that Big Mike had a down year last year.  A little probably had to do with nagging injury, a lot probably had to do with the lack of a rapport with Tarvar, and a decent-sized amount probably had to do with Big Mike acting like a little bitch when he didn’t get the ball thrown his way.  I don’t mean to single him out, because in general I think all wide receivers are little bitches when it comes to not getting enough targets, but it’s not like that’s something I can ignore when I’m evaluating his season last year.

Obomanu has continued to make this team out of training camp in defiance of his actual on-field talent level.  He’s not big, he’s not fast, he doesn’t have the greatest hands in the world, I guess he runs okay routes, but what does that matter when he’s not that big or fast enough to create separation?  I would expect him to continue to make this team even though there’s no rational reason for that to happen (unless, of course, he’s due a big bonus or all the other receivers on the roster blow him out of the water).

Durham is a draft pick, and he’s got that size Pete Carroll loves.  He missed almost all of last season with injury, so you know Pete’s going to want to see what he’s got.

That just leaves Golden Tate.

Last year, I wrote, “Golden Tate absolutely MUST make strides this year towards being a pro receiver.”  The big question on everyone’s minds is:  did he?

Technically, yes.  He increased his receptions from 21 in 2010 to 35 in 2011 (that’s after learning a new offense AND not having a proper offseason with which to do it).  He increased his yards from 227 to 382 (which, I’ll admit, aren’t exactly mind-blowing numbers in the least).

What’s encouraging is not the season as a whole, but how he finished last season.  In his last 8 games, Golden Tate racked up 286 of his 382 yards (and 24 of his 35 catches).  That coincides with the premature end of Sidney Rice’s season, which means he took advantage of a direct opportunity.  It also shows that the team was comfortable enough with him to significantly increase his playing time.  The increase in overall targets is there, which means he was developing a better chemistry with the quarterback.  These all bode really well for Mr. Tate!

What doesn’t particularly bode well for him is that he and Doug Baldwin are essentially the same player.  With Baldwin’s overall production being through the roof last season, you have to figure he’s ahead of Tate on the depth chart for that slot position.  That doesn’t mean you can’t have two slot receivers on your team, but with this offense, how many times do you expect them to go beyond a 3-WR set?  Not bloody often, considering they love to run the ball and they love the tight end position.

Not the least of Tate’s worries are the guys below him on the depth chart.  Deon Butler is still kicking around on this team (though, you HAVE to figure this is his very final opportunity, and if he doesn’t make the team out of camp, he will be cut).  I’m sure if the Seahawks don’t draft another receiver this year, they’ll at LEAST bring in one or two undrafted guys to compete.

And, let us not forget Ricardo Lockette.  Dude spent most of the season last year not playing a lick of football, but then he finally got an opportunity in the last two games of the season.  Granted, he only caught two passes in those two games, but my GOD what an impression he made with those two receptions!

On the second play of the game, against the 49ers, Tarvar to Lockette for 44 yards from the Seahawks’ 20 yard line to the 49ers’ 36.  The Seahawks would go on to score a touchdown for an early 7-0 lead.

In the fourth quarter of the Arizona game, down by a touchdown with less than 8 minutes to go, the Seahawks forced a 3-and-out and got the ball on their own 39 yard line.  The very first play of the drive saw Tarvar launch a bomb to Lockette for a 61-yard touchdown to tie it up.

Two plays, 105 yards.  What Tate has going for him, with regards to Lockette, is that Lockette is a bit taller (6’2), so in theory if he develops properly, he could be an outside flanker type of speed burner guy.

Nevertheless, there is quite a bit of talent on this team at receiver.  It’s time for Golden Tate to step his game up.  I’m talking over 50 receptions and over 700 yards.  It’s time.  Because I can’t imagine this coaching staff is going to wait around forever.