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.

Revising My All-Time Seahawks Greats

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

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

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  But, it’s CLEARLY out of date now.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

Quarterback

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

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

Running Back

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

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

Wide Receiver

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

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

Tight End

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

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

Fullback

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

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

Offensive Line

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

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

Defensive End

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

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

Defensive Tackle

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

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

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

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

Linebacker

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

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

Cornerback

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

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

Safety

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

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

Special Teams

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

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

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

Who Should Return Punts For The Seattle Seahawks?

In 24:  Live Another Day, you’ve got another of the ol’ tropes alive and well.  When they take you out of the field RIGHT BEFORE a big assignment where they’re going to go somewhere with guns to attack some bad guys, possibly with more guns, it ALWAYS means that assignment is going to be a huge, explosive failure.  In this case, Cute Blonde C.I.A. agent gets shackled to the office while the C.I.A. head Benjamin Bratt and his lead officer both go out to supposedly bring in the main terrorist lady.  Except, in this case, SURPRISE!  They’re at the wrong house, and there’s a bomb, and EXPLOSION, and now some are dead and some are not.  All in a day’s work in the world of 24.  With some bigtime cast members either killed or knocked out for the rest of the day, it’s only a matter of time before Jack Bauer is reinstated and put out into the field with Cute Blonde.  For sexy times and ass-kickery, just break glass …

File this under:  Slow News Week.

Yesterday, the local media just about crapped their pants when they heard Pete Carroll tell everyone that Earl Thomas would be the starting punt returner if the season started today.

This is news??? has turned into THIS IS NEWS!!! because it’s the end of May and absolutely nothing important is going on in the world of local sports.  And because I’m no different, here’s my two cents.

For the last couple of years, Golden Tate returned punts.  He was good at it.  Prior to that, Leon Washington returned punts.  He was really good at it.  As far back as I can remember, from Bobby Engram to Joey Galloway, it seems like the Seahawks have always had quality punt returners.

I tend to like the more conservative, veteran guys, who lean towards fair catching a punt, because the worst case scenario with any return is muffing it and letting the other team recover.  I’d rather just secure the possession, because really, what are the odds you’re going to break a punt return for a TD?  What’s the average punt return anyway?  I bet it’s less than 10 yards.  Is it worth it to gamble the health of a valuable part of your offense or defense just to see if you can improve on a very small number?

Yes, I loved having Golden Tate back there returning punts, even though he took what some deemed foolish risks.  And yes, Golden Tate was also a very valuable member of our offense – at wide receiver, where we weren’t necessarily the deepest.  And, of course, on any play, anyone – even your most important player – can be injured.  Hell, Russell Wilson could be standing on the sideline talking to a teammate during a kickoff return when someone rolls up on him suddenly, without him expecting it!  That’s the football equivalent of walking out of your home and getting hit by a bus.  If you sit around waiting for the worst to happen, what kind of a way is that to live?

Fast forward to 2014:  Golden Tate is a Detroit Lion.  Apparently, the only other person who ever returned a punt for the Seahawks in 2013 is Richard Sherman, who had one return for -6 yards, and I’ll be damned if I remember when THAT happened.  No one on the 2014 squad really has any significant punt returning experience, so someone will have to step up.

The obvious choice is Percy Harvin – who is slated to return kickoffs for us.  He’s an experienced kickoff returner, and an elite one, so how much harder could it be for him to take in punts?

Other options include Earl Thomas and the aforementioned Richard Sherman.  I’m less interested in Richard Sherman returning punts, because I think there’s no chance in Hell he wins that job.  My hunch is, he’s throwing his hat into the ring because he heard Patrick Peterson talk all of his shit about being the more complete player and wants to show him that it doesn’t take much to be a punt returner in this league (which it doesn’t, for the record).

I’m more interested in Earl Thomas, especially because he’s the supposed front-runner.

Earl Thomas has elite speed.  He just LOOKS like the kind of guy who would thrive in the punt returning job.  Elusive, able to cut on a dime, able to get around the edge while also running right over you.  If he wasn’t so integral to the defense, I’d put my 100% stamp of approval on this move right now and move on with my life.

But, you can’t remove risk/reward from the situation.  Yes, as stated above, there’s risk on any football play.  There’s risk in every second of your everyday life!  But, not all moments are created equal.  Earl Thomas, flying around in the field, playing free safety, trying to remove the torsos from the bodies of ball-handlers is not the same thing as one man, isolated, with 11 snarling beasts bearing down on him while 10 of his teammates backpedal in a hopeless attempt to prevent bodily harm.

In one scenario, Earl Thomas is the aggressor:  he chooses where he’s going to hit and how hard that impact is going to be.  In the other scenario, Earl Thomas is on the defensive:  he could get smashed head-on, or he could get rolled up from behind.  Or, any other injury in-between.  It’s a vulnerable position being the punt returner, just as it is being the kick returner.  Why do you think they’ve been talking about all these rule changes with kickoffs?  They moved the kickoff line once and almost did it again!  They want to eliminate kickoffs because they’re so dangerous.  As are punt returns.

You could argue that Golden Tate was pretty important, but he was nowhere NEAR the level of Earl Thomas.  Without Thomas, our defense changes drastically.  Without Tate, it would’ve been tough, but our offense would’ve essentially continued as it did, with just the next man up replacing him.

I know Bryan Walters is being tossed around as an option, but I wouldn’t make him the punt returner unless he’s also a clear winner of a roster spot as just a wide receiver.  I see no point in keeping a guy on the team to JUST return punts.

What about Terrelle Pryor?  This team seems hell-bent on keeping him as a quarterback, which is a damn shame, because I’d LOVE to see what he could do returning punts.

I also wouldn’t mind seeing Doug Baldwin back there, but it doesn’t sound like the team is considering it.

If the Seahawks really want to go dynamic, why not use Paul Richardson?  As a rookie, you don’t expect a whole lot out of him on offense, so it’d be nice to get some value out of him in special teams.  Of course, with any rookie, you have to worry about inopportune fumbles in such a role.  Probably not something the team would be comfortable with (especially considering I’m not so sure he has any experience in that role).

If you ask me, I’d say we just go with Jermaine Kearse.  He has proved to be reliable with the ball in his hands, elusive-enough in open space, and tough enough to endure the types of hits he’d have to endure.  With his role looking to be diminished with the additions of rookies Richardson and Kevin Norwood, it might be a good way to establish some more value, especially if the team decides they don’t want to extend him beyond whenever his contract ends.

Either that, or just stick with Percy Harvin and have him return both kickoffs and punts.  If we’re already risking his health in one arena (or, I guess two arenas, if you count the actual offense), then why not go full bore?  He’s obviously the best candidate, and he’s NOT as important as Earl Thomas.

Previewing & Predicting The 2013 Seattle Seahawks

Last year, I got to my predictions column late.  Past week 1 late.  It was kind of a sorry development, but what are you gonna do?  The season was already started by this time last year.  Anyway, I didn’t think very highly of the Seahawks heading into the 2012 season.  I didn’t think very lowly of them either, which is how you get to an 8-8 record.  Honestly, I would’ve predicted 9-7, but since I got to my post a week late – and the Seahawks crapped the bed in Arizona that first week – I downgraded to 8-8.

The Seahawks, as everyone knows, finished 11-5, going 7-1 over the second half of the season, and 1-1 in the post-season, ending up in the Divisional Round of the playoffs.  Those last 10 games were as epic of a run as you can get without actually making it to the Super Bowl.

But, enough about last year.  That was damn near a year ago, for Christ’s sake!

This year, the sky is the limit.  At worst, the Seahawks will be 11-5.  At best, I’m sorry, but at best you’ve gotta say 16-0.

Before we get into official predictions, let’s take a look at the make-up of this team:

Part 1 – Roster

How do the Seahawks differ from this time last year?  Well, for starters, our backup quarterback is new (or old, I can never tell).  Tarvar takes over for Matt Flynn, and to be honest with you, it’s probably a downgrade.  Obviously, we don’t know how good Flynn can really be (and, reports indicate that he can’t even win the fucking starting job on the RAIDERS of all teams), but I guess that’s the point.  We know what Tarvar is – he’s a near-.500 quarterback – and we don’t know what Flynn is.  Flynn could be great in small doses, Flynn could be great in large doses, or he could be terrible no matter the serving size.  If you’re a salary cap-head, then you like Tarvar because he saves you money.  So, maybe in the long run this is an upgrade?  Whatever, who cares, moving on.

At running back, Lynch and Turbin return, ostensibly in the same roles they occupied as last year.  Christine Michael replaces Leon Washington, which is an improvement at our #3 running back spot, but hurts us in the return game, as Michael is not a returner.  Derrick Coleman takes over for Michael Robinson, which is a soul-crushing blow.  But, on the flipside, he’s younger, cheaper, and under team control for longer.  Considering Robinson only played somewhere around 30% of our offensive snaps in 2012, I can’t imagine this one little move at fullback is going to make that much of a difference.  Finally, Spencer Ware is either going to be a special teams replacement for Robinson, or he’s going to spend the bulk of the season on the Inactive List on gameday.  We’ll see.

Rice, Tate, Baldwin, and Kearse are all hold-overs from last year.  Kearse, of course, spent most of 2012 on the Practice Squad, but came on late in a special teams capacity.  I wouldn’t expect a TON out of him, but then again he is going to be our starting kick returner, so buttons.  He did, after all, return that one kick in the pre-season for a touchdown.  If he turns out to be a monster in that aspect of the game, I might cream in my pants.  Harvin starts out the season on the PUP list and will hopefully return sometime in November.  Stephen Williams – the pre-season phenom – is holding his seat for the time being.  It’s hard to see this team keep five active receivers going every game (remember, you can only play 45 of your 53 guys every gameday), but then again, can you really keep this guy off the field?  I’d like to see the Seahawks throw one long bomb jump ball to him every half; I bet he comes down with half of them, and in so doing earns his weekly paycheck.

This year, we’re only keeping the two tight ends, instead of last year’s three.  The lone holdover is the uber-talented Zach Miller.  He’s our starter and our muse (our flame).  Anthony McCoy, as you’ll recall, is lost for the season on IR.  Evan Moore, thankfully, is no more.  In his place, we actually have a guy worth a damn in Luke Willson.  Even though Willson is a rookie, he looks like the real deal and the future at the position we’ve been trying so hard for so long to draft.

Our starting O-Line remains intact, which is probably the most important thing outside of quarterback you want to remain intact.  Okung, McQuistan, Unger, Sweezy, and Giacomini are the guys, with James Carpenter getting worked in (over time, to be the full-time replacement at left guard).  Lemuel Jean-Pierre returns as our backup center, Mike Person returns as our backup … something.  Michael Bowie and Alvin Bailey are a couple of rookie projects who came on strong this pre-season.  Gone is John Moffitt, traded to Denver for being not worth the time or effort.

On the D-Line, Clemons, Bryant, and Mebane all return.  Clemons avoided the PUP list, as he is a specimen of the gods and will hopefully start practicing within the next couple weeks.  Everyone else is brand new.  Avril & Bennett are our two big free agent splashes.  Both are kinda hurt, but both should be okay to play out of the gate (if not, then expect one or both to be Inactive right along with Clemons for Week 1).  Tony McDaniel is a less-heralded signing, but his impact will be just as important as he will be our starting 3-technique defensive tackle.  Jordan Hill is a rookie who survived pre-season mostly healthy.  He’ll get regular playing time in the defensive tackle rotation.  Jesse Williams, unfortunately yet predictably, landed on IR with his bum knee.  O’Brien Schofield and D’Anthony Smith are cast-offs from other teams who we know little about.  Schofield spent most of the pre-season in Seattle and was fine, I guess.  Smith came over after the cut-downs to 53 and has been injured most of his career.  Questionable move to say the least, but obviously John Schneider and Pete Carroll know something we do not.  Rounding out the group, we have Benson Mayowa, an undrafted rookie out of Idaho who led the team in sacks in the pre-season.  He looks like he’s got some real moves, but unless injuries deplete this team early, it’s hard to see him getting a lot of playing time.

At Linebacker, K.J. Wright and Bobby Wagner return, ready to kick some more ass.  Malcolm Smith also returns and figures to get some playing time at the strong-side spot.  Bruce Irvin has converted to the strong side, but of course he’s suspended for the first four games.  It’ll be interesting to see – A. whose spot he takes upon returning in week 5, and B. how he fares as a pass-rushing linebacker.  The team found room for special teams lord & savior Heath Farwell, so look for that unit to continue demolishing other teams.  Allen Bradford was around last year, but never played.  Now, he’s our backup middle linebacker and might find a way to work himself into a rotation if he keeps up the good work.  Rounding it out, we have John Lotulelei, who will probably never play unless he stands out on special teams.

In the secondary, Marcus Trufant has been replaced by Walter Thurmond, who was injured for most of his career.  Antoine Winfield was let go because our younger guys were just plain better.  Jeremy Lane and Byron Maxwell could be starters for other teams, which is what makes this unit the best in football.  At safety, Winston Guy was let go.  He was kinda flashy, and he blitzed a lot last year, but he didn’t really do a whole lot and shouldn’t be missed.  Chris Maragos is super fast, so he shouldn’t be too much of a step back if Earl Thomas can’t play.  Kam Chancellor and Jeron Johnson round out the group of safeties; Brandon Browner and Richard Sherman complete the set.

Kicker, punter, and long snapper all return.

Part 2 – Analyzing The Roster

Working our way backward, the Special Teams looks as good as it ever has.  Steven Hauschka, as I’ve mentioned before, has been a man possessed this pre-season.  Jon Ryan is Jon Ryan, putting in consistent MVP-quality work.  Clint Gresham hasn’t botched any snaps that I can recall, so bully for him.

In the secondary, you can’t help but be excited for Walter Thurmond.  He’s finally healthy and finally able to show what he can do for this team.  He’s a HUGE upgrade over an aging Marcus Trufant, and that’s important because nickel corner was one of our main areas of concern going into 2013.  To be fair, this team could play a Dime package all day every day and I wouldn’t lose sleep.  Maxwell looks like he could make the Pro Bowl THIS year if he was given a chance to start.

At linebacker, you have to believe this team also improved.  Leroy Hill is gone and they’ve done some shuffling.  K.J. Wright moves to his old spot at the weak-side, so that’s great.  You always want more speed, especially at the linebacker position.  Wagner, with a year under his belt and a chip on his shoulder to prove he doesn’t belong in Luke Kuechly’s shadow, also looked like a man possessed this pre-season.  I expect a huge jump in his play in 2013, rivalling the jump Richard Sherman made from his rookie to his second year.  On the strong side, replacing Wright, we’ve got the combo of Malcolm Smith and eventually Bruce Irvin.  It looks like the team wants the strong side ‘backer to be more of a pass-rush threat, hence the Irvin move.  I love the idea.  Any way this team can get more pressure on the QB that isn’t just sending a safety on a blitz that takes forever to materialize, I’m all for it.  The depth at this position is infinitely better than it was last year too.  Bradford could start on almost any other team, and Lotulelei looks like he could develop into a force if given the chance.

Along the D-Line, you have to have concern, I’m not gonna lie.  Can McDaniel and Hill make up for the loss of Alan Branch and Jason Jones?  When he was healthy, Jones was fairly effective.  And Branch was a starter for the past couple years.  If they can just maintain and not take a step back, I’d be happy.  Also, how long will Mebane be able to stay healthy?  He’s no spring chicken.  Depth at tackle is also a concern.  The Seahawks gave away a couple of decent depth guys in Jaye Howard and Clinton McDonald.  In their place, we have newcomer D’Anthony Smith, and Michael Bennett on passing downs.  Bennett should be solid, but I just don’t know.

On the ends of the line, it’s just as concerning.  Red Bryant returns, and he looks as healthy as ever, so that’s good.  But, he’s still a mountain of a man, and those guys don’t tend to stay healthy for very long.  Clemons we’ve talked about, but it’s still encouraging that he’ll be back soon.  Avril is a little less encouraging, as he hasn’t played at all in pre-season.  The Seahawks robbed Peter to pay Paul a little bit by moving Irvin out of the LEO end spot.  Unless Clemons and/or Avril return soon, this could be a real weakness for the team.  Remember, Greg Scruggs could play both inside and outside, and he’s gone for the year too.  Unless Schofield or Mike Morgan (who I failed to mention above in the roster section) step up in a big way, I think this team is going to be hurting for sacks.  Then again, the first two games are against Carolina and San Francisco, so we should probably worry less about sacks and more about contain.  Either way, it could be rocky for this unit early.

I’m not worried about the O-Line.  If there’s anything I’m rock solid on this year, it’s that.  Even the injury bug doesn’t concern me, because the depth looks good, and Tom Cable is a wizard.

Seeing Luke Willson perform the way he did in the pre-season makes me a LOT more comfortable about the tight end position.  Let’s see if Zach Miller has what it takes to stay on the field for the full go.  If not, then I’m probably going to spend the rest of the season hyperventilating.

I absolutely LOVE what we’ve done with the wide receivers on this team.  Braylon Edwards was never going to be a player worth having.  I’d take Stephen Williams over him any day.  Ben Obomanu was solid on special teams, but he’s worse than Jermaine Kearse.  And when Harvin returns, he’s like a million billion times better than Charly Martin.  Most improved lineup on the team by FAR.

I just kinda like what they did with the running backs.  In a perfect world, football teams would keep 54 players and Michael Robinson would still be on this one.  But, you know, you’ve gotta move on.  Hopefully Derrick Coleman is the next Michael Robinson.  If that’s the case, then we truly are the king of kings.  Also, look for Christine Michael to supplant Turbin before season’s end.  And in a couple years, when Michael is our starting back and Ware is our big tough guy backup, we’ll continue to suck the dicks of John Schneider and Pete Carroll for their foresight and vision.

Russell Wilson.  All you gotta say about the quarterback position.  Stud.  Winner.  Champion.

Part 3 – The Schedule

Week 1 – @ Carolina, 10am:  This is where it pays off having played Russell Wilson the full season last year.  He (along with some shaky late-game defense) cost us that first game in Arizona.  This year, with that in mind, count on Wilson not letting us lose in week 1.  Honestly, I don’t think this will even be close.  Maybe the offense starts out sluggish early, but I think the defense comes to play and we lean on them all game long.

Week 2 – vs. San Francisco, 5:30pm:  Home opener, Sunday Night Football on NBC, the crowd absolutely fucking INSANE … this is where the Seahawks show the 49ers what power football is all about.  Another one I don’t think is all that close.

Week 3 – vs. Jacksonville, 1pm:  Can you say 3-0?  Anyone who has the Seahawks defense in fantasy football can bank on scoring anywhere from 30-60 points, depending on how you score it in your league.  This is the reason why we all drafted them at least three rounds too early.

Week 4 – @ Houston, 10am
Week 5 – @ Indianapolis, 10am:  I’m lumping these together because I’m a coward.  The Seahawks will go 1-1 in these two games, but I just can’t figure out which they’ll win and which they’ll lose.  If you look at it objectively, Houston has a great running game and an okay passing game.  When you figure that our defense is great against the pass, but only so-so against the run, you have to look at that game and figure it’s the loss, right?  Meanwhile, Indy can’t run for shit and they pass 50 times a game.  Nevertheless, my gut is telling me we beat the Texans and lose to the Colts.  Luck is a gamer, he gets better as the game goes on, and I could see this being one of those games like we had against the Lions last season.  High scoring, little defense, and Indy pulls it out at the end with a late TD.  Meanwhile, the Seahawks win ugly in Houston, something like 14-10.

Week 6 – vs. Tennessee, 1pm:  Another easy win.  This will be the game I attend this year, because tickets were reasonably easy to get, weren’t prohibitively expensive, and honestly I don’t care if I go to any games, so what does the opponent matter?  No reason to expect Russell Wilson to play beyond the 3rd quarter in this one.

Week 7 – @ Arizona, 5pm:  Thursday night game, the bane of my existence.  But, I promise to not bitch about them as much this year (unless the games are so ugly and boring, the NFL forces my hand).  Normally, I’d be concerned, but not this year.  Carson Palmer will spend more time on his back than he will on his feet (if he’s even still healthy at this point in the year).  The Seahawks win ugly, but they win, and the defense scores another touchdown.

Week 8 – @ St. Louis, 5:30pm:  Monday Night Football!  Why does the league even schedule the Seahawks to play on the road on nationally televised games?  It’s like they’re tired of showing the rest of the world what real fans look like.  I guess St. Louis could pose a challenge, but I just don’t see it.  Look for something like 24-19, with the Rams scoring late (missing the 2-point conversion) to make it semi-close.

Week 9 – vs. Tampa Bay, 1pm:  I think Tampa looks good this year, but I think they look bad in this game.  Think of it as something like the game vs. Minnesota last year and you’ll be on the right track.  The Bucs are going somewhere, but they’re not contenders.

Week 10 – @ Atlanta, 10am:  Revenge Game!  Still, at this point the Seahawks will be 8-1 coming in.  And Atlanta (and Matt Ryan) just don’t lose at home.  I could honestly see something of a carbon copy of last year’s game, with Atlanta pulling it out at the end.

Week 11 – vs. Minnesota, 1pm:  Total destruction.  No contest.  YOU think YOU can get soup?  Please!  You’re wasting everyone’s time!

Week 12 – BYE:  finally.

Week 13 – vs. New Orleans, 5:30pm:  Monday Night Football #2!  This one is a little scary.  You can’t shut down Drew Brees forever.  Then again, he does take a lot of unnecessary risks, and his receivers really don’t scare anybody.  I think we all get a little nervous for this one, but I think the Seahawks handle them pretty easily.  33-13.

Week 14 – @ San Francisco, 1pm:  Man, what a showdown THIS game will be.  Last year, the Seahawks caught the 49ers at home late.  This year, the tables are turned.  Everyone and their grandmothers are giving this game away to the 49ers, forgetting that the Seahawks last year – in San Francisco – nearly came away victorious.  There were mistakes in the first half that I just don’t think this team makes again.  I think it’s a slug-fest, but I think the Seahawks take the season series and effectively clinch the division right here.  At this point, the 49ers won’t be mathematically eliminated, but they’ll be a couple games back and they’ll have lost the tie-breaker.  Week 14 is where the Super Bowl berth is earned, because week 14 is where the Seahawks make their statement that the #1 seed won’t be denied.

Week 15 – @ New York Giants, 10am:  Another east-coast trip, another 10am start.  Coming after the insane high that was the victory in San Francisco, I see this as a total let-down game.  The Seahawks get off to a slow start and the Giants pull too far ahead.  Russell Wilson tries to engineer a comeback, but too many turnovers seal our fate.

Week 16 – vs. Arizona, 1pm:  At this point, the Seahawks will be 11-3 going into this game.  The #1 seed won’t yet be won, but we’ll have the inside track, at least a game up and also with tie-breaker advantages.  This is a TCB type of game.  It won’t be a massive 58-0 obliteration like last year, but it’ll be comfortable.  We won’t worry for one second about losing this game.

Week 17 – vs. St. Louis, 1pm:  I’d like to say that this has a chance to be flexed, but at this point, with nothing to play for, I just don’t see it.  Russell Wilson will play for a quarter, maybe a half, but then Tarvar will come in and finish it off.  He’s no Charlie Whitehurst, but he’ll do.

Part 4 – Conclusion

13-3.  Number 1 seed in the NFC, with home field all the way to the Super Bowl.  It’s not the easiest schedule in the world, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned it’s that you don’t necessarily WANT an easy path to the Super Bowl.  The 2005 Seahawks had one of the easier paths to Super Bowl XL and look at what happened when a team finally posed a challenge.  You want a little trial by fire in this league.  If a schedule is too difficult, that means your team wasn’t good enough.  Bottom line.  Don’t fear this schedule.  A famous writer said that the strongest steel is forged by the fires of Hell.  That’s what we’ll be come playoff time, and that’s what we’ll be in the Super Bowl.

Seahawks’ Backups Better Than Chargers’ Backups

The Seahawks, under Pete Carroll, have moved to 8-5 all-time in Pre-Season games.  And, if you think that’s a dumb statistic, then congratulations, you understand the very importance of Pre-Season games!

Of course, as with any exhibition game, there were a number of stand-out players last night.  Tarvar looked like one of the most elite quarterbacks in the NFL, which just goes to show you:  the Seahawks have the greatest third-string quarterback in all of football!  YEAH!

And, if you think I’m going to relent on this Tarvar-bashing, you’re insane.  The moment I let my guard down, that’s the moment Russell Wilson breaks a femur and we’re stuck with Tarvar for the rest of the year (and, consequently, I’m out $700).  I’m guess I’m not 100% behind my previous statement that I’d rather have Brady Quinn, but what does it matter?  The death knell for Brady Quinn happened when he came off the bench as the second quarterback in this game.  Remember last year when Matt Flynn kept playing before Russell Wilson, then it turned out this team was giving Russell Wilson every opportunity to win the job?  That’s what they’re doing with Tarvar right now.  Let Quinn fluster about against tougher second-string defenses while Tarvar cleans up against future waiver wire guys.  Everyone’s panties get all moist over Tarvar’s perfect passer rating, and BOOM, he’s the second string guy and Quinn is out on his ass.  Meanwhile, Quinn gets lulled into a false sense of security because he thinks he’s got the upper hand by playing in the second-string role.  Little does he know, the unforgiving sword of doom dangles just overhead.

I thought Christine Michael looked good, as a running back.  You’ll notice he bobbled the first San Diego kickoff to us; I don’t know if that was nerves or what, but a rookie return man is pretty much my worst nightmare.  Is it too late to toss the Patriots a 7th round pick for the rights to take back Leon Washington?

Also, speaking of Michael, I said it on Twitter last night and I’m saying it again here:  the Seahawks will release Guns Turbin.  That’s my hunch.  It’s a tough decision, but what are you going to do?  Keep five running backs (Lynch, Robinson, Michael, Ware, & Turbin)?  What’s the point?  Michael is CLEARLY this team’s future.  Turbin might also be its future, but he’ll end up being its Future Maurice Morris.  I’ll ask it again:  why would you go to all the trouble to keep a future backup running back, when you’ve already got one in Ware?  In a year or two from now, when Lynch is gone, this team will be led by Michael and backed up by Ware.  It might even produce a sour spot for fantasy owners as I can envision Ware getting the bulk of the goalline carries.  What I can’t envision is Turbin somehow wrangling that starting running back position.  Michael does everything Turbin does, only he does it faster, with more explosiveness and more grit & determination.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you.  There are too many important bubble guys at other positions that our rivals will be all too willing to poach.  Let them have Turbin; I guarantee that does not ever come back to bite us in the ass.

Stephen Williams had a sick game, with two 40+ yard receptions and a touchdown.  People are already handing him the keys to his very own 53-man roster spot, to which I say, “Slow down, Skippy!”  It’s one meaningless game.  I know he has looked good in practice, but let’s see him consistently do it throughout the rest of this month before we go overboard.

As for the rest of the offense, I didn’t watch closely enough to have anyone make much of an impression.  That first play by Russell Wilson looked good (play-action roll out pass to Kearse), but other than that it appeared he needed to shake out the cobwebs.  You really don’t want to read too much into his first two possessions of the season, so let’s not go nuts.  I’ll just say that I expect him to look better next week and leave it at that.

The defense didn’t show me much of anything on that first drive, as San Diego sliced and diced their way through us like Ginsu Terminators.  Saying we played “vanilla defense” is one thing, but at some point your talent needs to step up there and shut down their talent mano a mano.  Our starting 11 on defense should be able to stand still pre-snap, rush four, play in a soft zone, and STILL be able to shut down the San Diego Chargers.  But, again, I’m not going to make too big a deal out of the first drive of the season.  Still, you’ve got to figure that’s the most jacked-up those guys have felt about playing football since the 2012 season ended.  I kind of expected frothing at the mouth intensity and instead I saw a lot of sloppy play and penalties.

Mike Morgan got the start at the Leo defensive end and showed me absolutely nothing.  I know the Chargers kept it simple with a lot of short drops and quick throws, but still.  His technique left a lot to be desired (and left me hoping for a speedier recovery for Chris Clemons).

Walter Thurmond sure got tossed around like a ragdoll, didn’t he?  I was having Marcus Trufant circa 2012 flashbacks last night.  Always a step slow and a step behind his man.  That’s no way to throw yourself into the conversation for starting nickel corner.

Byron Maxwell with the pick – and the almost-second pick – sure looks good out there.  He’s one of those bubble guys I’m talking about.  Do we want to keep Guns Turbin and let Maxwell sign with the 49ers?  Or, do we want to toss a backup, mid-round running back out into the world to sign for somebody’s minimum and probably hardly play any snaps (while keeping Maxwell and using him for either insurance, or trade bait for future draft picks)?

After all that, my night was pretty much lost to Coors Light, thoughts of my fantasy football draft, and losing scratch tickets.  There were some bubble linemen who made an impression and that’s great; again, I’ll say, “What can you do for me next week, and the week after that?”

All in all, it was an enjoyable win.  One thing is for certain:  even Brady Quinn is a better quarterback than Charlie Whitehurst.  Kinda makes you wonder about those Seahawks fans who were calling for him to be a starter over Hasselbeck that one year … WHITEHURST IS GOING TO BE BEAT-OUT BY A ROOKIE FROM SOUTHERN UTAH!

The 2013 Seattle Seahawks Drafted 11 All Pros

OK, I’ll bite.  Or rather suck.  The dicks.  Of the Seahawks executives in charge of this wonderful marvel of a team.  The following 11 draft picks are going to be just the depth, special teamers, and future starters we need to continue being the greatest team in the history of the National Football League.  19-0 is on the table.  Hell, why not 38-0?

57-0?

Unbridled enthusiasm aside, I don’t know how these draft picks are going to turn out, you don’t know how these draft picks are going to turn out, so let’s cut the shit.  There are any number of ways the careers of these 11 guys can go.  At the very bottom of the spectrum, they can be terrible busts and cut before we play meaningful games.  They could be terrible, but raw and/or coachable, showing something that the coaches think might be built up while playing on the practice squad.  They could be decent, but subjected to a numbers game, tried to pass through to the practice squad only to be snatched up by another team.  They could be good, make the 53-man roster, but spend the bulk of the regular season games on the Inactive List.  They could be good, make the 53-man roster, and play on special teams.  They could be good, play on special teams, and play occasionally on offense and/or defense.  They could play regularly on offense and/or defense.  Or, they could start.

Those are just some of the plethora of options.  So, I’ll give my semi-informed thoughts, which are based on the semi-informed thoughts of others (because obviously I’ve never seen any of these people play in real life).

Second Round – Christine Michael, RB

You think this guy hated substitute teachers growing up, butchering his name while taking attendance?  You think he was picked on just a LITTLE bit?  Right off the bat, you gotta like the Boy Named Sue potential of this kid.

Kill me, I like this pick.  I feel like, at this point, if you’re not saying, “What the fuck are they thinking?” when talking about the Seahawks and their first pick of the draft, then they’re not doing their jobs.  Did we NEED to make this pick?  Hell no!  I’ve got it in my head that we’ve easily got two more good years out of Marshawn Lynch, then we’ve got Turbin in the wings ready to take his place.  We could’ve held out, just drafted a run-of-the-mill running back in the later rounds, and had our running game of the future by way of far less premium draft slots.

But, this kid sounds like the real deal Holyfield.  Which leads me to wonder a couple things:

  1. How much longer does Lynch have with this team?
  2. How much does the team like Turbin?

Marshawn Lynch has carried the ball 600 times the past two years.  In his tenure with the Seahawks, he has played behind some dreadful lines.  Granted, for the last season and a half, they picked up their games, but he has taken QUITE the beating.  And that’s on top of the fact that he self-inflicts a lot of his beatings by being a bad-ass motherfucker who won’t take Go Out-of-Bounds for an answer.  He’s also been suffering from back spasms & other back-related issues (it’s difficult carrying a whole entire offense at one time) which leads me to wonder if this team isn’t worried about his durability for the next two seasons.

When running backs hit a wall, they hit it hard and they never come back the same.  Lynch is so tough, he could probably play through it and extend his career an extra five years like a Thomas Jones or a Curtis Martin.  Then again, it’s not like those guys were All Pros in their waning years.  Do you really want to risk being stuck with Turbin starting and some fifth rounder backing him up?

Which leads us into my other question:  do you even want Turbin starting at all?

It’s valid to ask.  Yeah, he averaged 4.4 yards per carry last year, but that was on limited duty.  Limited duty in between poundings with Marshawn Lynch Beastmoding the hell out of a defense.  Do we think Turbin can average 4.4 yards per carry over 300 carries in a season (as opposed to just the 80 carries he had as a rookie)?

Sight unseen, I’m going to go out on a limb and say I’d trust the second round pick with a first round valuation (Christine Michael) over the fourth round pick from a non-BCS school (Guns Turbin).  I wouldn’t be surprised if we see Michael as your change-of-pace, give-Beastmode-a-break back, while we see Turbin in that third down, pass-catching, 2-minute offense role we all assumed would naturally go to Leon Washington more often last season.

Third Round – Jordan Hill, DT

Of all the guys drafted, I think this is the guy with the best odds to get immediate playing time.  He most likely won’t start, but he COULD.  He will have a place in this defensive line’s rotation because he’s big, he’s athletic, and he can rush the passer from the interior.  If Michael Bennett doesn’t re-sign with us after this season, we could be safe knowing that Hill will be able to take his spot.

Fourth Round – Chris Harper, WR

Fairly tall (6’1), fairly big (231 pounds), decent speed, great strength.  If he puts in the work, he could be the next Michael Irvin.  Or, you know, he could be nothing special.

Wide receiver is one of the hardest positions to predict.  Really, it comes down to:  Either He’s Got It Or He Doesn’t.  You can’t know until you see it in a game.  Even practice can be deceiving.  What makes an undrafted guy like Doug Baldwin a major player in a team’s offense while a fourth round draft pick in Kris Durham a total and complete washout?  Either you have it or you don’t.

I, for one, really REALLY hope that he does.  It would make things going into 2014 a whole lot easier.  If we hit with Harper, then we can lose either Tate or Rice and not miss much of a beat.  It’s going to be crucial to start replacing some of these over-priced guys like Rice with quality young players making their rookie wages so we can pay for the studs like Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas (saying nothing of Russell Wilson who will be many arms and legs worth of salary).  So, let’s all root super hard on Harper being that replacement.  It helps that he has a good “wide receiver name”.  Doesn’t “Chris Harper” sound like a 10-year veteran with a handful of Pro Bowls under his belt?

Fifth Round – Jesse Williams, DT

It would be just like me to sit here and believe a fifth round wide-body from Australia is going to be the best player in this draft class.  Here’s my hunch, and pray to whatever god you choose that I’m wrong:  he WILL be the best and most-talented player in our draft class; but he’s also going to suffer from injury after injury and be out of the league in three years.

I’m not even saying that because he has the knee issue that caused his draft stock to fall all the way from a possible late-first round pick to the fifth round.  It’s just a feeling that I have.  And if it’s true, it would be SO a Seattle thing to have happen.

You gotta like what you read about the kid, though.  320 pounds, 6’4, and by all accounts – since he’s relatively new to this whole American Football thing – he has only gotten better and should CONTINUE to get better.

He can bench 600 pounds!  That’s, like, TWO offensive linemen!  If he’s able to reach his potential, we’re talking about not just a starter, not just an All Pro, but a Hall of Famer.  He could be that good.  I just hope his body holds out.

Fifth Round – Tharold Simon, CB

He’s in that mold.  6’2, long arms, big hands, athletic.  They’re talking about him being the replacement for Brandon Browner when we let him go in free agency because we can’t afford to pay EVERY defensive back on our team top dollar.

For the record, I don’t give a shit about his recent arrest.  I don’t give a shit about ANYONE’S arrests, recent or otherwise.  Boys will be boys and all that.  But, I refuse to believe that he fell to the fifth round based on a bogus arrest.  If you’re telling me the NFL is a copy-cat league, and that everyone is looking for the next Sherman/Browner duo in their cornerbacks, then why would a guy with length and speed and all that fall to the fifth round?  I’m sorry, there’s got to be more we’re either not seeing or not hearing about (because it’s ever-so-much-more-juicy to hear about someone being arrested).

Hopefully I’m wrong.  Obviously, the Seahawks aren’t going to hit on all of these guys, but if Simon turns out to be the heir apparent to Richard Sherman, then John Schneider really is a witch and he should probably be burned at the stake before he turns us all into his slaves.

Fifth Round – Luke Willson, TE

OK, honestly?  I’m calling bullshit on this one.  There is NO FUCKING WAY that a backup tight end out of Rice who caught 9 balls as a senior is going to make any sort of positive impact in the NFL.  No way.  Huh uh.  Sorry.

6’5, 251 pounds?  Don’t care.  Ran a 4.46 40-yard dash?  So what.  38-inch vertical?  Hnnn, stop it!  Stop it, I refuse to believe that this guy is going to be the next Aaron Hernandez!  There’s got to be something about this guy!  Stone hands, an inability to block, an inability to run proper routes, an inability to get open (but, if he’s so tall and can jump so high, couldn’t you put 11 guys on him and just let him catch the ball at its highest point?)

NOOOOOOOOOO!  I’m running away from this guy as fast as I can, no matter how much I want to believe he’s going to be the second coming of Christ.  No one who spells Wilson with two L’s can be counted on to make it in the NFL (how do you like THAT for hard-hitting analysis?)

Sixth Round – Spencer Ware, RB/FB

This pick just makes me sad more than anything.  I find it hard to root against a Seahawk succeeding, but I’m reading about the team using this guy almost exclusively at fullback.  And, not for nothing, but no NFL team in its right mind would ever keep two fullbacks on the roster.

And, gosh darn it, I like me some Michael Robinson!  I don’t want to see him as a cap casualty!  I want to see him win a ring with us, THEN be let go in favor of a younger, cheaper option because we have no choice.

How about this, okay?  Go with me on it:  Spencer Ware looks great in Training Camp and in the preseason.  Then, right before final cuts, he goes down with a season-ending injury.  He’ll have surgery, make a full recovery, and be better than ever NEXT year when we need him to start for us at fullback.  Kay?  Kay.

Seventh Round – Ryan Seymour, OL

OK, we can PROBABLY stop worrying about these guys making the team over beloved current Seahawks.  Seventh round is where I really start drawing the line at giving a damn.  Figure this guy probably makes the practice squad and gives things a run going into 2014.

Seventh Round – Ty Powell, OLB/DE

Small school, fast kid, could play multiple positions from linebacker to LEO defensive end.  Considering what this team has done to improve the pass rush thus far this offseason, he’s going to have to make a Herculean effort just to get noticed.  If he makes this team, either something went very well (he’s a sleeper stud) or something went very wrong (a bus crashed into half of our defensive line).

Seventh Round – Jared Smith, G

Oh boy, another pet project for Tom Cable, who thinks he can make every under-sized, useless defensive tackle into a starting offensive guard.  Forgive me if I don’t die from a 96-hour boner.

Seventh Round – Michael Bowie, OL

You know when you’re selecting teams for a pick-up game of some kind?  Basketball, football, soccer, whathaveyou.  And there’s a guy who is obviously head-and-shoulders better than everyone else on the field who is picking for one of the teams.  AND, he makes it a point to pick as many scrubs as he can to show that he can make anyone into a winner?  That’s what Tom Cable is when he’s picking offensive linemen.  Three out of four seventh round picks were chosen exclusively by Cable as if to say, “Go ahead, rest of the NFL, draft your offensive linemen in the upper rounds.  I’m going to pick these losers nobody wants and they’re going to be BETTER than your overpriced thugs!”

I’m going to say the odds are pretty high that at least one of these guys becomes a starter before his career in the NFL ends, just because Tom Cable is a fucking madman.  Which one is anybody’s guess.  Whether or not he plays for the Seahawks is also anybody’s guess.  Teams like poaching from the castoffs of other, winning teams.  Remember, Breno Giacomini was a fifth rounder out of Green Bay and didn’t start a lick until he came to Seattle.

The Seahawks have found some excellent players in their last three draft classes.  Earl Thomas, Russell Okung, Richard Sherman, K.J. Wright, Kam Chancellor, Russell Wilson, Bobby Wagner, Bruce Irvin, among others.  For that reason and that reason alone, draft “experts” didn’t destroy the Seahawks for their 2013 class.

Normally I’m of the wait-and-see approach to anything like this, but can you really expect the Seahawks to be amazing EVERY year at drafting starters and stars?  Isn’t there a blip in there somewhere where we look back and go, “What were they thinking THAT year?”  Couldn’t that blip be this very class?

Fortunately, it’s not like the Seahawks NEED any of these guys to be All Pros.  They could all be released and this would still be an elite football team.  Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.  After all, Seattle has been shit upon enough.  It’s time to start getting greedy.  EVERY draft class will have at least two Pro Bowlers, or else!

Plus, you know, Percy Harvin.  Yeah, don’t forget that guy.

The Last Five Years In Seattle Sports

2008 was the lowest point in Seattle sports.  It was our Absolute Zero.  Rock Bottom.  The total nadir of sports humanity!

It was the primary inspiration for the title of this website.  Take an already-crappy sports city, with practically no history of real success whatsoever, then rain down a million boulders while giving fans only a tiny umbrella to protect themselves.

We did NOT deserve this …

Well, we just finished the 2012 sports year with the 2012/2013 Husky basketball season coming to its conclusion.  As such, I have taken it upon myself to take a look back.  Five years ago, it was 2008; we were just getting started with the worst year ever.  How have things changed with our primary Seattle sports teams?

Seattle Mariners

The Mariners came off of a surprising 2007 campaign that saw them appearing to turn a corner.  Beltre, Ibanez, and Ichiro led the offense.  We hoped that a possible resurrection of Richie Sexson would bring about a further boost.  Two young guns up the middle – Lopez & Betancourt – were proof positive that what we were doing in our farm system wasn’t a complete joke.  Felix was coming into his own.  Losing Weaver & Horacio Ramirez was addition by subtraction.  You figured, with another quality starter, and another bat or two, and we’d be in business!

Well, we know what happened with 2008.  The Erik Bedard trade was a total and complete disaster (though, it went a long way towards the Orioles making their surprising playoff run in 2012).  The Mariners opted to let Jose Guillen walk and replaced him with the corpse of Brad Wilkerson.  Richie Sexson became a local pariah.  And, oh yeah, the other big pitching piece – Carlos Silva – was signed to the single-worst contract in recorded history.  You tack on little things – like J.J. Putz going from the greatest reliever in baseball in 2007, to an injured pile of crap in 2008 – and it all boils down to this team losing 101 games.  The first team with a payroll over $100 million to lose over 100 games.  Everyone was fired; it was brutal.

Enter Jackie Z, who could seemingly do no wrong at first.  He replaced Sexson with Russell Branyan – big upgrade.  He traded Putz for Franklin Gutierrez, who had an amazing season both in the field and at the plate.  We also ended up with Jason Vargas in that Putz deal, who came in and earned his way into the starting rotation.  He brought in Ken Griffey Jr., who wasn’t a total disaster as a DH.  In short, there was an immediate turnaround thanks to God knows what.  Good vibrations?  Luck?  I dunno.  But, this team improved 24 games over 2008 and contended well into the summer.  Everyone thought we’d struck gold!

Then, like some kind of sick fucking plague, every move Jackie Z made to help bolster the 2010 team turned to shit.  Chone Figgins was signed to a 4-year deal and immediately was the worst player in baseball.  Branyan was allowed to walk in favor of Casey Kotchman; Kotchman was terrible and Branyan was brought back in a panic-deal mid-season, because we had the most punch-less lineup in all of baseball history.  Silva was traded for Milton Bradley – which was a move of pure GENIUS until it turned out trading one cancer for another still leaves you on your deathbed.  Griffey was brought back, because HEY!, he hit 19 home runs the year before and it’s not like players suddenly lose all of their ability to swing a bat all at once or anything.

Mind you, just about everything Jackie Z did in anticipation of the 2010 season was believed to be the right thing.  Except for Griffey, but really, if we didn’t make the playoffs that season, it wasn’t going to be exclusively the fault of our elderly DH.  And, to a lesser extent, the Brandon League for Brandon Morrow trade was a bit questionable.  I mean, who trades a bona fide Major League starting prospect for an 8th inning reliever type? Nevertheless, this was a bold move looking to shore up our bullpen.

The cherry on top was the Cliff Lee trade.  We gave a bunch of Bavasi draft rejects to the Phillies for Cliff Lee in his final season.  At best, he’d be the starting pitcher to put us over the top.  At worst, we’d be a losing team and trade him at the deadline to the highest bidder for the best crop of prospects.

Like everything else that happened in 2010, even THIS ended up backfiring.  Cliff Lee came with a built-in contingency plan!  And he was traded for Justin Smoak – a disappointment to date – Blake Beavan – a less-than-adequate starting pitcher – and what has turned into a season’s worth of Michael Morse, a season’s worth of John Jaso, and a season’s worth of Josh Lueke.  There’s still time to turn around our fortunes, but unless Smoak figures out a miracle cure to his sucking ways, this has bust written all over it.

So, what happens when every single offseason (and in-season) move you make backfires?  You lose another 101 games, your franchise icon retires mid-season, your manager gets fired, and your GM is lucky to still have a job.

2010 was a wake-up call, both for fans and for the organization.  The last two times the Mariners had winning records – 2007 and 2009 – they immediately went out the very next offseason and tried to Win Now.  All the moves they made in hopes to Win Now were total disasters, so they had to come up with a new plan.  Either you keep riding this rollercoaster, firing your manager and/or GM every two seasons, or you start over from scratch.

Even though Jackie Z managed to bungle every Major League move known to man, he had still built up the minor leagues a fair amount.  With another high draft pick in his pocket, he put his head down and went to work.

The 2011 season was essentially given over to the kids.  Our major offseason moves included bringing in Miguel Olivo, Jack Cust, Adam Kennedy, Brendan Ryan, and handing over the starting rotation to guys like Michael Pineda, Doug Fister, and Blake Beavan.  In addition, Ackley, Seager, and Carp all got their feet wet; Peguero was given an inordinate amount of playing time for what he was actually bringing to the table.  Others, like Wells, Trayvon Robinson, Saunders, and Halman all got varying amounts of playing time.  2011 was Try-Out central in Seattle.  Throw a bunch of spaghetti noodles into a pot of boiling water, take them out and see which ones would stick to the wall.

2012 took it a step further.  The big free agent pick-ups consisted of Millwood, Iwakuma, and a backup shortstop in Kawasaki.  We traded away Pineda – our best pitching prospect – to bring in Jesus Montero, because we absolutely could not live with the same old offense we’d had the past two seasons.

What did 2011 and 2012 accomplish?  Moderate gains in the win/loss column (+6 wins in 2011, +8 wins in 2012), moderate gains in our offensive production, and a whole lot of salary coming off the books.  The Silva/Bradley money, the Ichiro money, the Olivo money, another season’s worth of the Figgins money.

Now, it’s 2013.  The Mariners brought in some big bats via trade – Morse & Morales for Jaso & Vargas respectively – and some veteran bats via free agency – Ibanez and Bay.  They re-signed Iwakuma (when they realized he’s actually a quality starter), brought in Joe Saunders (who will probably be terrible), and have given the back-end of the rotation over to youth (Maurer and Beavan).  The crown jewel of the 2012/2013 offseason was re-signing Felix through 2019.  That’s huge.  The Mariners may never make the post-season while he’s with us, but God damn it, if they do WATCH OUT.

There is reason for optimism five years after bottoming out in 2008, but we’re still in a Show Me stage.  I’ll believe it when I see it, and all that.  2013 is critical, because if they don’t show some significant improvement, I think a lot of people will be out on their asses again and we’ll be looking at ANOTHER rebuild.

Husky Football

The Huskies ended their 2007 season with a 4-9 record.  Their 2007 schedule was deemed by many to be the toughest schedule in the nation.  Tyrone Willingham was coming off of his third consecutive losing season (going 2-9 in 2005 and 5-7 in 2006), and many believed he should have been fired then and there.  I was one of those simple-minded folks who said we should give him ONE more chance.  Jake Locker had a full season under his belt, why not give Willingham an opportunity to turn things around with the guy he brought in as his quarterback?

Well, we kicked off 2008 by being trounced in Oregon (who would go on to finish 10-3).  Then, we lost by a single point at home to BYU (thanks to the infamous penalty flag thrown on Locker as he ran in for the would-be game-tying touchdown and tossed the ball over his shoulder … thank you Pac-10 referees for being so damn competent) on a missed extra point at the end of the game.  Then, we lost at home to Oklahoma (who would go on to lose to Florida in the BCS National Championship Game).

THEN, we lost our quarterback, our best player, and really our only GOOD player, in the Stanford game.  After that, with the likes of Ronnie Fouch at the helm, we proceeded to lose all the rest of our games (including a pathetic heartbreaker of an Apple Cup, 16-13 in overtime).

0-12.  Doesn’t get any worse than that.  Can only go up from there, right?

Willingham:  gone.  Sarkisian:  in.

The 2009 Huskies improved by 5 games.  There was a signature win at home over the then-#3 USC Trojans, 16-13 on a last-minute field goal.  There was a signature near-win the first game of the season at home against LSU.  Jake Locker took huge strides in his development as a passer.  Everything looked great for the future.

The 2010 Huskies weren’t all that much more improved than the 2009 team, but they managed to win six regular season games (winning out after starting 3-6, thanks to a soft schedule to finish things) and earned a bowl game against Nebraska.  Of course, they got killed by Nebraska, IN Husky Stadium, earlier that season.  But, in the rematch, this Husky team was totally reborn and they took it to the Cornhuskers, stifling them 19-7.

That led to somewhat higher expectations for 2011, but how high could we possibly make them?  Let’s face it, we’d lost our best player and were breaking in a new quarterback.  Our defense was still on the fritz, and we were still in a very tough conference with Oregon, Stanford, and USC.  Not to mention we had to go to Nebraska, where we most certainly got our shit kicked in.

2011 was a disappointment because there was no Signature Win.  In 2009 and 2010, we had victories over USC and Nebraska in the Holiday Bowl.  In 2011, we barely squeaked by Eastern Washington in the first game.  We were absolutely terrorized by the aforementioned heavy hitters (losing the games to USC, Oregon, Stanford, and Nebraska by a combined 190-93).  In spite of losing ALL the games were were technically “supposed” to lose, we were still in line for a 1-game improvement over 2010.  That officially died when A. we went into Oregon State and lost (they ended the season with 3 wins) and B. we faced RGIII and the Baylor Bears and gave up 67 points on 777 yards of offense in losing by 11.

Back-to-back 7-6 seasons left a bitter taste in our mouths.  After storming the field against the Cornhuskers, we bent over and grabbed our ankles against the Bears.  2012 would SURELY be different, though.  We had a full season with Keith Price, he had surpassed our wildest expectations by throwing for over 3,000 yards with 33 touchdowns and only 11 interceptions.  How could 2012 NOT be a huge improvement?  On top of all that, we didn’t wait that extra season to see if Nick Holt could turn things around on defense.  We went out, brought in some heavy hitters at recruiting and defensive coaching, and nabbed some top prospects in the process.

Well, there was improvement.  The 2012 Huskies DID manage some signature wins against the likes of Stanford and Oregon State (both in the top 10 at the time we beat them), but they also fell completely flat against the likes of #3 LSU, #2 Oregon, and #11 USC.  In spite of yet another 3-game losing streak in the middle of the season, these Huskies were looking at possibly winning 8 or 9 games when all was said and done!

They were 7-4 (riding a 4-game winning streak) going into the Apple Cup in Pullman.  They had an 18-point lead going into the final quarter … so of COURSE they ended up blowing the game in overtime.  This ultimately led to the Huskies facing Boise State in the Las Vegas Bowl and ending up – once again – 7-6.

In short, the Huskies went from 0-12 in 2008, to 5-7 in 2009, to 7-6 in 2010, 2011, and 2012.  No 7-6 record is created equal, obviously, but at the end of the day people don’t remember how you got there.  They just see where you were and shake their heads.

Keith Price showed all the promise in the world in 2011.  But, he lost all his major weapons (Kearse and Aguilar at receiver, Chris Polk at running back) and couldn’t recover in 2012.  In the Baylor bowl game, Price accounted for 7 touchdowns on offense and looked like the best quarterback on the field – even better than the Heisman Trophy winner and ultimate #2 overall draft pick.  However, in the Apple Cup and again in the Boise State bowl game, Price ended both with interceptions.  He was going into the 2013 season fighting for his job, but from all accounts he’s got it locked up after Spring Ball.  Nevertheless, I have to imagine he’s on a short leash.  We can’t suffer the kind of downgrade in production again.

At this point in Sark’s tenure, he’s got all his own guys now.  2013 is the year we’re expected to win and win consistently.  The non-conference schedule is relatively easy, and the conference schedule isn’t too bad either.  We’ve got veterans in all the right places, we’ve got some serious talent on defense for the first time since he got here, and Price has had a chance to gel with his offensive weapons.  2013 isn’t a Rose Bowl or Bust, but it’s close.  The Huskies have to at least be in the conversation.

I’m not gonna lie to you, beating the Ducks for the first time in eons would go a long way towards cementing Sark’s status as a legend ’round these parts.

Husky Basketball

The 2007/2008 Huskies were a definite low-point in the Romar era.  They finished the regular season 16-16, losing in the first round of the Pac-10 tournament, and received the #1 seed in the College Basketball Invitational.  You know, that post-season tournament for the teams not even good enough for the N.I.T.

We lost.  To Valparaiso.

In 2008/2009, we brought in Isaiah Thomas and he was a firecracker right from the start.  We enjoyed Brockman’s senior season, and we rode that wave to a 4-seed in the NCAA Tournament and a Round of 32 loss to 5-seed Purdue by two points.  More or less, it was a successful season, but once again it ended prematurely.

In 2009/2010, we had another senior leader taking to the forefront.  This time, it was Q-Pon, who averaged 19 and 7 per game in leading us to a Pac-10 Tournament victory, an 11-seed in the tournament, and upset wins over #6 Marquette (where he hit the clutch game winner) and #3 New Mexico.

Once again, though, the Romar-era Huskies couldn’t get past the Sweet 16.  This time, we lost to West Virginia, thanks to them totally having the length advantage on us.

In 2010/2011, we had our version of a Big 3 with Thomas, MBA, and Holiday.  The last two were seniors and Thomas was playing in what would be his final season.  We rode this squad to another Pac-10 Tournament victory (you all remember COLD BLOODED don’t you?).  This resulted in a 7-seed – our third consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance – and a victory over 10-seed Georgia before losing in the Round of 32 to 2-seeded North Carolina (by only 3 points, but still).

The 2011/2012 season saw the emergence of Tony Wroten and Terrence Ross.  Both were young, extremely talented, and irritatingly inconsistent.  Ross would disappear for minutes at a time.  Wroten had no jump shot whatsoever, so he had to fight for every single basket in the paint.  This team ended up winning the Pac-12 outright, but since the Pac-12 sucked dick that season, and since the Huskies lost in the first round of the Pac-12 Tournament, AND since they had no quality wins over ranked non-conference opponents, the Huskies were denied a fourth consecutive NCAA invite.  Instead, they locked down the #1-overall N.I.T. seeding and ran with it to the Final Four in New York City.  It ended with a loss to Minnesota, who would end up losing to eventual-champion Stanford the very next game.

The less said about the 2012/2013 season, the better.  Wroten and Ross both bolted for the NBA, and absolutely no one came in to replace them.  That’s what happens when you’re a good-not-great recruiter in a good-not-great university for basketball:  sometimes you DON’T bring in a player of quality and you suffer as a result.

Gaddy, Wilcox, Suggs, and N’Diaye were left to pick up the pieces.  This team was pretty solid on defense, but ultimately inept on offense, and now at least three of those guys are gone (with Wilcox having a difficult decision to make regarding his final year of eligibility).  The 2012/2013 Huskies didn’t beat a single ranked team, only beat three teams who ended up going to the NCAAs (Saint Louis, California, and Colorado), and wound up being a 6-seed in the N.I.T., where the subsequently got their shit kicked in at BYU.

What’s in store for 2013/2014?  Well, a solid incoming class with one McDonalds All American at point guard in Nigel Williams-Goss.  If Wilcox comes back, that gives us a veteran scoring presence (for the record, he’s a fool if he leaves; his past season was absolutely dreadful and injury-plagued).  If we can get anything from our young forwards, you could look at a team that surprises a lot of people.  Or, you could be looking at a third-straight N.I.T. bid.  If it’s the latter, I’m not so sure I’d be confident about my job security if I was Romar.

Seattle Supersonics

I won’t go into excruciating detail on this end.  We all know what the last five years have been like for the Sonics.  They went 20-62 in their final season in Seattle (after drafting Kevin Durant and bringing in one of the finest GMs in the game from the San Antonio organization).  They were given away by the city of Seattle, they struggled again the following season, and then they went to the playoffs four straight seasons (losing most recently in the Finals to the beloved Miami Heat).

Now, we’ve got an ownership group and an arena deal in place, and we’re fighting like crazy to steal the Kings from Sacramento.  If all goes according to plan, we will have pro basketball back in Seattle for the 2013/2014 season.  If it doesn’t, then this part of next year’s “Five Years” post is going to be REAL fucking depressing.

Seattle Seahawks

I’m saving the best for last because I can.  Because, honestly, it’s all a little too much and I can hardly believe it myself.  There is cautious optimism for the Mariners and their young core to turn things around.  There’s more confident optimism that the Husky football team will turn some heads this fall.  There’s hope that the Husky basketball team can somehow gel with their new incoming players and make an improbable Tourney run.  There’s delusions that the NBA will be back in Seattle this time next year.

But, that’s nothing.  There is outright SWAGGER for the Seattle Seahawks.  How did we get HERE?

In 2008, we went 4-12.  We had dicked around with Mike Holmgren, we signed on his replacement – Jim Mora Jr. – to be his defensive backs coach, and all the major veterans took a huge dump.  This was coming off of a 2007 season where the Seahawks once again won the division.  But, Shaun Alexander was released at the end, losing out to another injury.  So, Tim Ruskell opted to reload via free agency.  Julius Jones and T.J. Duckett were brought in to liven up the running game, but no dice.  Hasselbeck missed a bunch of games, Walter Jones tried surgery but wasn’t the same and was forced to retire at season’s end … it was just a mess.

In 2009, there was something of a fresh start expected with Mora.  T.J. Houshmandzadeh was brought in on a huge free agent deal, Aaron Curry was signed as our can’t-lose first round draft pick … in short, we were one of the oldest and least-talented teams in the NFL.  When all was said and done, these Seahawks improved by only 1 game and both Mora and Ruskell were fired.

2010 was the REAL fresh start.  Pete Carroll and John Schneider tag-teamed this roster from head to toe.  They traded for Marshawn Lynch, Leon Washington, and Charlie Whitehurst (hey, they can’t all be winners).  They got rid of Housh (taking a healthy bath in the cap hit) and later Deion Branch.  They brought in a rejuvinated Mike Williams who led the team in receiving.  They drafted Russell Okung, Earl Thomas, Golden Tate, Walter Thurmond, and Kam Chancellor.  They made hundreds upon hundreds of free agent moves, giving tryouts to anyone and everyone who they thought might be an upgrade.  They got significantly younger, and thanks to a piss-poor division, ended up making the playoffs with a 7-9 record.

Understand, this wasn’t a legitimate playoff team.  Yes, after two years in the wilderness, they found their way back to civilization, but it was totally phony!  The fact that we beat the defending Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints at Qwest Field is a travesty of common decency (though, it did provide us with the greatest NFL play ever, Beastmode’s Touchdown Scamper).  Our “Cinderella” run ended the following week in Chicago, and you had to wonder how long it would be before the Seahawks made the playoffs again.

The 2011 Seahawks were hamstrung by the NFL Lockout.  They fired their offensive coordinator and hired Darrell Bevell from Minnesota.  Which meant, if they stood any chance of competing in ANY games that season, they’d have to bring some people in who knew Bevell’s system.  This meant Tarvaris Jackson at quarterback.  They let Hasselbeck go with a cordial goodbye and handed the keys to the team over to Tarvar (without so much as a second look at Whitehurst, who was as bad as we all remember him being and then some).

Tarvar proved tough, but ultimately inept when the game was on the line.  Those 2011 Seahawks also finished the regular season 7-9 and weren’t given the benefit of a lousy NFC West to “earn” a home playoff game.

With a full offseason going into 2012, the Seahawks needed to make a change.  They’d drafted well, bringing in guys like Richard Sherman and K.J. Wright.  But, they needed a signal-caller with some zazz!  So, they signed Matt Flynn to a three-year deal, and they went out and drafted Russell Wilson in the third round.

People say if Wilson was just 2-3 inches taller, he would’ve been a Top 10 pick.  But, he’s not, so now he’s ours.

Wilson earned his opportunity to have an Open Competition in Training Camp.  This led to him wowing us in the Pre-Season, which ultimately led to him winning the job and running with it.  The 2012 Seahawks took it easy with him for the first few weeks, but once they knew he could handle himself, they opened things up.  This resulted in the Seahawks being the best team in football over the second half of the season.  Still, their early-season slip-ups meant that the 49ers won the division, relegating us to the fifth seed in the NFC.

We went into Washington and somehow came away with a victory.  Then, we went into Atlanta, gave them a 20-point lead, and somehow led in the game with 30 seconds to go.  That was choked away, but the message was sent.  It wasn’t, “Wait Until Next Year,” the way most fanbases say it, more resigned to their current fate as losers, sorely, bitterly hoping that things will turn around for them in short order.

No, this is, “Just you WAIT until next year, chickenfuckers!”  Because the 2013 Seahawks are a runaway train that has Super Bowl or Bust written all over them!

In five years, the Seahawks have gone from one of the oldest and worst teams in the NFL to one of the youngest and best teams.  In five years, the Seahawks have gone from bottom-feeders to would-be kings.  We fans are cashing in our 401Ks in anticipation of buying Super Bowl tickets in 2014.  It’s never been so clear and so positive in the city of Seattle.  They can single-handedly reverse the fortunes of this desolate sports city.  All they need to do is win.

What’s more, they’re spreading around the positivity.  People are stoked on the Mariners WAY more than they should be thanks to the good will generated by the Seahawks.  Sports fans have something to look forward to and spirits are bright.  This is carrying over to the other sports in hopes that the good vibes will roll on.

We’ll see.  If the Seahawks win it all, the Mariners contend for a playoff spot, the Huskies make a run at the Rose Bowl, the basketball Huskies make a run at the NCAA Tournament, and the Sonics return to Seattle, we could be talking about the greatest 5-year turnaround any sports city has ever seen.  Fingers crossed.

I See No Way That This Can Backfire: Seahawks Trade For Percy Harvin

The reports are in:  the Seahawks are trading their 2013 first round pick, a 2013 seventh round pick, and a 2014 “mid-round” pick to the Minnesota Vikings for Percy Harvin.  One of these days, we’re going to make a deal for an ex-Vikings receiver that actually manages to make them look bad!  Suck it, Hutchinson!

So, what does it all mean?  The Seahawks get a 4-year veteran who has only one season under his belt where he managed to play in all 16 games.  He will be 25 years old when the season starts, so you figure he’s still in that “young” range.  He’s a proven play-maker, out of the slot, out of the backfield, and as a returner.  As long as he stays healthy, the sky is the limit.

He joins a squad that includes Golden Tate, Doug Baldwin, and Sidney Rice.  You’d figure he’s going to be fighting tooth and nail to take as much playing time away from Doug Baldwin as possible, but there’s another way to look at this.  Golden Tate is entering the final year of his rookie deal.  The Seahawks are two years into a big deal with Sidney Rice.  Either one of those guys could be off the roster after 2013 (if Tate gets a better offer elsewhere, or if Rice’s cap number is too high to maintain).  As long as he stays healthy, Percy Harvin is a nice little insurance policy to ensure that Russell Wilson always has at least once quality receiver to throw to.

One of my initial questions involved the future of Leon Washington.  At first, I thought it meant the immediate doom of a fan favorite who is on the wrong side of 30.  But, I would argue it’s smart to hang onto Leon for at least another season.  When you’re talking about a guy who has that “injury prone” label, do you really want to expose him to a bunch of unnecessary hits as a Special Teams returner?  Especially when a major reason that “injury prone” label exists is due to head injuries?  I understand, you can’t live your life worrying about someone getting injured – after all, a bus could fall from space and destroy all the dinosaurs – but there is a reason why the NFL has tailored a lot of rule changes around kickoff returns.  Then again, putting him back there for the occasional punt return could be a nice little asset to have.  As long as he stays healthy, teams will have to think twice about launching 50-yard punts against us.

You can’t talk about this trade without seeing visions of Tim Ruskell trading away a mid-20s first round pick for Deion Branch.  Conventional wisdom told us at the time:  you’re not going to find a better player than Deion Branch so low in the first round, so why not pull the trigger?  I think that’s a bullshit argument, and if you think anything of the talents of John Schneider as a player evaluator, you’d agree.

Yes, the reason why the Seahawks are this good, this soon after bottoming out at the end of the Ruskell regime is because Schneider was able to pull some amazing players out of his ass in the lower rounds of drafts.  But, you can’t just negate the importance of first round draft picks, no matter where they’re located on the number line.  The 49ers were just praised to death for giving away Alex Smith for a high 2nd round pick – which is essentially just a very low 1st round pick.  You can’t flip that and now say a pick in the 20s is meaningless.  Odds are, the player Harvin is now is better than what we’d find at our spot in the draft.  But, the chances are also good that Harvin remains injury prone, misses a bunch of time, and ends up as a huge bust for this team.  As long as he stays healthy, we won’t think twice about the picks we gave up.

But, that’s no reason to blindly praise something that most certainly has a chance of biting us in the ass.  This isn’t just a huge investment in terms of draft picks, but it’s GOING to be a huge investment in terms of dollars.  As long as he stays healthy, and as long as it helps us win a championship, I’ll gladly eat these words of reservation.

In the meantime, I’m going to worry.  Because I’m a fan of Seattle sports teams, and that’s what I’m conditioned to do.

#17 – Leon Washington

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

Leon Washington:  best kickoff returner in the NFC in 2012.  That’s not hyperbole, that’s fact.  His 29-yard per return average was second only to Baltimore’s Jacoby Jones, would-be Super Bowl MVP if the voters didn’t have an eternal boner for white quarterbacks.  His punt return average wasn’t nearly as effective, landing him 20th in the NFL.  But, I would argue when it comes to punt returns, as long as you don’t fumble the ball, you’re way ahead of the game.

Leon Washington lost 1 fumble all year and that was on a kickoff return just after halftime against Carolina – a game the Seahawks would go on to win.  So, right there, you can say confidently that Leon Washington never cost us a game.  With regards to punt returns, I’d be happy if a guy fair catches everything just as long as he never fumbles.  There isn’t much that’s more demoralizing than forcing another team to punt, only to give them the ball right back 40 yards down field.  Except, I guess, fumbling a kickoff right after the other team scored, but as I said in the beginning of this paragraph, that isn’t how Leon lost his one and only fumble.

On the offensive side of the ball, Leon was non-existent.  He rushed the ball for only 83 yards (on 23 attempts, for a 3.6 yards per carry average) and he only caught 4 balls for 31 yards.  He scored as many touchdowns on offense (1) as he did returning kicks all year.  For the record, his percentage of plays on offense was WAY below what I thought it would be going into the season.  I don’t know what to make of that.  Was the team saving him and his aging legs for what he does best – returning kicks?  Were they so infatuated with Guns Turbin that the rookie ended up taking almost all the snaps away from Leon?  Was Leon just simply phased out of this offense?

If you ask me, Leon has the best pass-catching hands of all the team’s running backs.  Why wouldn’t you take advantage of that, especially late in games when you’re in a 2-minute offense?  You got me.

What do I see for next year?  Just about anything, to tell you the truth.  If the Seahawks start spreading money around, they might find an easy way to save a buck would be eliminating Leon’s contract.  He’s making a little over $3 million per year, and all he’s doing is returning kicks.  Who’s to say the team doesn’t go out in the draft, in the 4th or 5th round, and pick up a speedster with no future as a wide receiver but a huge future as a return man?  That’s pennies on the dollar.  The risk, of course, is:  do you trust a rookie?  Everyone likes to downplay special teams … except when they start costing you ballgames.  A return man prone to fumble, a long-snapper prone to hucking it over the punter’s (or holder’s) head, a field goal kicker who can’t seem to split those uprights anymore.

You might downplay Leon’s value now, but let’s talk when the new guy blows it in a big game against the 49ers.

As long as Leon still has that step, I say you hang onto him.  At least one more year.  He was first in the NFC for Christ’s sake!  This wasn’t two or three years ago, this was 2012!  I don’t see any reason why his productivity won’t continue.  But, let’s say it doesn’t.  Let’s say he does lose that step and becomes merely average.  Merely average is still probably good enough, as long as he avoids turnovers.  Suffer through just an “average” return game in 2013, THEN bring in the next big speedster.

The 20 Best Seahawks Of 2012

Anybody remember the soul-sucking failure that was my list of the 30 Most Important Seahawks In 2012?  Because I know I’VE been doing nothing but try to forget!

Anyway, Pitchers and Catchers don’t report for another week, and really, it’s not like there’s a whole lot to talk about until the games start, so let’s take another some more looks back at the NFL season that was!  Because there’s only so much I can write about Husky basketball before I start slitting my wrists …

The title pretty much gives it away, so I won’t go into too much more exposition.  You may feel differently about the order than I do, but ain’t it always the way?  Inevitably, facts are obscured by opinion and personal favorites rate irrationally higher than consensus choices.  But, at least I don’t hide behind a panel of judges.  These are one man’s picks, from 1-20.  Let’s do this thing!

  1. Richard Sherman (CB)
  2. Marshawn Lynch (RB)
  3. Earl Thomas (FS)
  4. Russell Wilson (QB)
  5. Max Unger (C)
  6. Bobby Wagner (MLB)
  7. Russell Okung (OT)
  8. Kam Chancellor (SS)
  9. K.J. Wright (OLB)
  10. Chris Clemons (DE)
  11. Golden Tate (WR)
  12. Brandon Mebane (DT)
  13. Sidney Rice (WR)
  14. Steven Hauschka (K)
  15. Brandon Browner (CB)
  16. Zach Miller (TE)
  17. Leon Washington (KR)
  18. Robert Turbin (RB)
  19. Breno Giacomini (OT)
  20. Bruce Irvin (DE)

Come back to this page often, as I plan to update it with links on all the players listed above.