The Devastatingly-Injured Seattle Sports Hell Power Rankings

Well, as exciting as it sounds, it looks like we’re barrelling towards a New England vs. Whoever Super Bowl.  Hooray.

Somehow, the Patriots not only get saddled with the world’s worst divisional opponents, but they get to represent the lesser of two conferences as well.  Meanwhile, the NFC churns on its own entrails until some poor battered and broken team is unfortunate enough to be force-fed Tom Brady’s cock.  Just once, I’d like to see what it’s like for the Patriots to have to go through what every other team in every other conference has to go through, but that almost certainly will never happen until Brady & Belichick retire, so I guess they get to have the last laugh and we all get to fucking choke on it.

  • Philadelphia (8-1)
  • New England (7-2)
  • L.A. Rams (7-2)
  • New Orleans (7-2)
  • Pittsburgh (7-2)
  • Kansas City (6-3)
  • Carolina (7-3)
  • Minnesota (7-2)

A matchup of Philly and New England could be fun, I suppose.  It sure feels like the rest of the season is a formality and that’s our final destination.  The Eagles have just enough defense, Carson Wentz has taken a huge leap forward, and they’ve got plenty of stars on offense to score in bunches.  I haven’t followed them super closely, but my only question would be:  how does Wentz look when the chips are down and he’s got to bring his team back by a couple scores?  We know what Brady and the Patriots can do, but are the Eagles just a bunch of front-runners?  As for the rest in the top 8, it’s the usual suspects.  I had Carolina take a big leap forward because they legitimately look pretty great.  Shame to see, if I’m being honest.

  • Seattle (6-3)
  • Detroit (5-4)
  • Dallas (5-4)
  • Tennessee (6-3)
  • Jacksonville (6-3)
  • Washington (4-5)
  • Atlanta (5-4)
  • Buffalo (5-4)

It’s amazing how far the drop-off is between these top two groups.  Seattle’s too inconsistent, and has feasted on a shitty schedule.  The Lions suddenly can’t win games with late 4th quarter comebacks anymore (it’s like their previous pace was unsustainable or something!).  It appears the Cowboys are only as good as their offensive line allows.  The Titans are pretty balanced, but unimpressive; the Jags are great on defense, but unimpressive.  And the last three deserve to be in the next grouping down, but I gotta keep going with this bit of having four 8-team groups.

  • Oakland (4-5)
  • N.Y. Jets (4-6)
  • L.A. Chargers (3-6)
  • Baltimore (4-5)
  • Denver (3-6)
  • Miami (4-5)
  • Arizona (4-5)
  • Green Bay (5-4)

It’s getting harder and harder to believe that any of these teams are going to make the leap into the upper half, but unless the Bills right the ship, you gotta figure the final AFC Wild Card team is in this section, and it could literally be any of these teams.  Even the Chargers!  I’m looking at an 8-8 team making the playoffs out of the AFC, so it’s wide open here.  If you’re an NFC team in this section, however, you’re playing for next year.

  • Indianapolis (3-7)
  • Tampa Bay (3-6)
  • Chicago (3-6)
  • Houston (3-6)
  • Cincinnati (3-6)
  • San Francisco (1-9)
  • N.Y. Giants (1-8)
  • Cleveland (0-9)

I’ve never been more certain about a ranking than I am about these 8 teams.  Hoo boy are they terrible!  Don’t feel too bad for the 49ers or Texans though; I’ve already got them pegged for huge turnarounds in 2018.  Next year, Houston makes the playoffs and probably wins their division.  I think for the 49ers, they’ll make the post-season in 2019.  Count the Bucs as dark horses when they ditch this coaching staff.  The Colts, Bengals, and Giants probably need to make wholesale changes.  And the Browns are always and forever gonna Browns.

Seahawks Host The Texans This Weekend

I don’t have a super great handle on how this game is going to go on Sunday.  I’ll say this:  I’m glad we’re home; if this game was being played in Texas, I don’t think we’d stand much of a chance.

Ordinarily, if you told me an okay, .500 team was coming into Seattle with a rookie quarterback, I’d tell you to pack your bags because we’re going to Flavor Country!  That’s a recipe for a slam dunk if I’ve ever seen one!  Except, here’s the deal, Deshaun Watson isn’t an ordinary rookie.  He’s almost certainly the top rookie QB of his class, and maybe one of the best rookie QBs of all time!

To recap his progression, he started the season as the team’s backup to Tom Savage.  Tom Savage played in exactly one half of football, in the first game of the season, against the Jacksonville Jaguars.  In that half of football, the Texans punted 4 times, Savage fumbled twice (one returned for a touchdown), and their final drive ended the half without a score.

Watson struggled in the second half of that unwinnable game, was marginally better in a 13-9 victory over the Bengals on a Thursday night.  And, ever since he’s actually had a full week to prepare for a game, he’s been off-the-charts great.  His first Sunday start was a narrow 36-33 defeat to the defending champion Patriots, where he threw for a career-high 301 yards and 2 TDs.  He followed that up with a 4-TD game against the Titans, and a 5-TD game against the Chiefs.  Last week was only a 3-TD affair in an easy victory over the Browns.  All told, he’s 3-2 on the season, with those two defeats against the two best teams in the AFC:  the Pats & Chiefs.

Now, obviously, it’s not all on him, so I don’t want to make this a post about QB Wins.  I’d say, more than anything, their defense has been a bigger letdown than he has been a pleasant surprise.  I think a lot of us expected the Houston defense to be the biggest strength of this team; I certainly expected a lot more of those 13-9 type games than I have all these shootouts, but it is what it is.

The Texans have the potential to really sling that ball all around the yard.  They also have the potential to unleash the beast, as it were, when it comes to the Seahawks’ offense.

I’m not going to say that New England has anything resembling a formidable home field advantage when it comes to their fans.  A LOTTA frontrunners in those stands, who will get awfully quiet if the Pats get punched in the mouth.  Nevertheless, it’s more than a little intimidating to go up against Tom Brady and Bill Belichick, and Watson didn’t blink.  This kid has stones, and I don’t think a little Seattle noise is going to make him shrink in this game.  So, if you were counting on going to the game this weekend and expecting him to roll over at your full-throated screams, I’d think again if I were you.

So, yeah, I’d be shocked if Watson came out and stunk up the joint.  But, I’d also be shocked if he totally dominated.  He strikes me as a guy who likes to push the ball up the field, and if he brings that mess in this game, he might be in for a rude awakening.  Teams with quarterbacks who exhibit a great deal of patience tend to give the Seahawks fits.  Teams with quarterbacks who aren’t afraid to check down, who will settle for the underneath route, and most importantly, who are accurate and poised enough to convert those short third downs; THOSE are the teams that beat the Seahawks.  And, judging from my perch as a fantasy owner of Lamar Miller, I’ll tell you this:  Deshaun Watson does NOT settle for the running back checkdown very often.

What he does do is utilize his two excellent wide receivers in DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller, who will go up and get a ball with the best of ’em, and who can also burn past you with the best of ’em.  I would expect Richard Sherman won’t be ignored in this one.  Any way you slice it, he’s going up against a top notch receiver, so he could be key in this one.

I’ll also say this:  safety play is going to be paramount.  I have to imagine there will be at least one interception between Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor in this game.

What I can’t see is Houston bringing its running game.  Lamar Miller is not to be trusted in MOST circumstances, but I have to imagine he’s going to be pretty well shut down in this game.  Likewise, I wouldn’t expect D’Onta Foreman will have much running room.  If Watson isn’t the Texans’ leading rusher, I’ll be shocked.

Defensively, obviously the big news is how they lost J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus for the year.  Those are two HUGE hits to their pass rush.  This week, they’re also dealing with injuries in their linebacker corps which should also limit them.  Even with those losses, they still have a lot of firepower, led by Jadeveon Clowney.  We have to keep what’s left of their pass rush – and double team Clowney to keep him off of Wilson’s ass – or it could be a really long day.

I think the Seahawks can manage.  And, if they do, I could see the Seahawks scoring over 30 points in this one.

There are plenty of reasons why the Seahawks could lose, but I still think they should probably win.  Like I said up top, they’re at home, and even if Watson comes in and does okay, it’s still better than the alternative of him being at home.  Assuming we keep them one-dimensional on offense, and shut down their deep passing attack, I would expect a victory in the 34-24 range, with the Seahawks scoring a touchdown late to put the game away.

The Seahawks Played A Fourth Pre-Season Game and I Drafted A Fantasy Football Team

What do you want from me?  It was a meaningless fourth pre-season game where most of the starters didn’t even play a single snap.  The Seahawks beat the Raiders 17-13 thanks to a final TD-drive by Austin Davis in the fourth quarter against scrubs.  The backup quarterback controversy is in full effect, and I couldn’t care less.

On top of that, I didn’t even get to see the vast majority of it, because my primary fantasy football league held its draft at the same time.  So, instead of pouring over the stats from the game, and speculating on who will get cut and who might get traded (Kearse, Lane, Collins?), I’m going to tell you about my fantasy football draft.

I know no one gives a shit about anyone else’s fantasy football team but their own, but this is my blog and I’ll rosterbate if I want to!

For starters, you should know that it’s a 2-keeper league that’s set up to expand to a 3-keeper league in 2018.  Meaning, we have to keep 2 players from last year’s roster, with the knowledge going into this draft that we’ll have to keep 3 players next year.

Next up, you should know that it’s a 10-team league, head-to-head, with a 6-team playoff system (top 2 teams get first round BYEs).  The bottom four teams play in a Consolation Bracket whereupon the winner of said bracket gets to draft first overall, and the rest of the draft order goes backwards from there.  Since I lost in the championship of the Consolation Bracket, I drafted second overall.

As you might surmise, my 2016 team wasn’t very good.  I spent the entire year obsessing over the simple fact of just getting two quality keepers on my team, because my 2015 team was just as bad.  It’s been a vicious cycle of mediocrity for many years now.  Instead of investing in my future, by drafting the likes of Andrew Luck or Russell Wilson in their rookie seasons, I’ve been forging my own path full of veterans with disasterous results.  So, last year, I said, “NO MORE!”  And yet, somehow the best I could muster was keeping Carson Wentz and Brandin Cooks.

Don’t get me wrong, I like Wentz.  I mostly like him because people in the know, scouts and whatnot, keep telling me he’s going to be one of the good ones.  I read stories about how he’s a football junkie and is working out all the time and so on and so forth and it gives me hope that maybe in a year or two he’ll be Andrew Luck or Russell Wilson, and that I’ll have gotten in on the ground floor of a keeper I can enjoy for many years to come!

As for Cooks, he was the best of the rest on my roster last year.  I like him a lot too, especially because he was traded to New England, and hearing stories about him and Brady hitting it off on the practice field gave me cause to jump for joy.

But, you know, it’s not like we’re talking about Aaron Rodgers and LeVeon Bell here.  These aren’t superstars, and there are very valid concerns about them producing in the future.

Also, you should know about our league:  it’s a 2-QB system.  Gameday rosters look like this:  QB, QB, RB, RB, WR, WR, TE, RB/WR/TE Flex, K, DEF, with 5 bench spots.  It’s a PPR league (1 point per reception), with any and all TDs worth 6 points, and it heavily skews in favor of the quarterback (unlike standard leagues, where top RBs are king, in our league, if you don’t have two good QBs, you might as well fucking kill yourself).  So, in that sense, it’s like the real NFL, except we doubled up on QBs per team because it’s only a 10-team league and it’s insane to have viable starting QBs on the waiver wire during BYE weeks.

So, that sets the stage.  Long story short:  my keepers are kinda sucky, I’m drafting #2 overall, and I need to be in a position to keep 3 guys next year.

Now, a little wrinkle!  I worked out a pre-draft trade with the guy who kept Ezekiel Elliott!  What with his 6-game suspension looming to start the season, and my friend ostensibly holding out hope for a championship this year, he accepted a straight-up swap of Cooks for Elliott.  With Julian Edelman going on IR in subsequent days, it looked like he was going to get a lot more value out of the deal.  However, with it appearing like Elliott might shake this whole suspension thing (from 6 games to 0, thanks to the NFL’s bungling), I might have the steal of the draft on my hands!

Of course, going forward, I have to worry about Elliott’s character concerns, while Cooks is by all accounts a model citizen on a championship team, but that’s neither here nor there.

So, instead of Wentz & Cooks, it’s Wentz & Elliott.  I can work with that!

I don’t want to list out everyone else’s keepers, so hopefully you’ll glean from context who was kept (lots of QBs, most of the tip-top skill-position players).  Going into the first two picks, I surmised the best two players available (for our particular league and no one else’s) were LeVeon Bell and Dak Prescott (the guy who had Bell last year opted to keep his stud QBs; he was obviously league champion).  I was pretty sure the #1 pick overall was going to take a QB, and I was pretty sure that QB was going to be Dak.  But, the day of the draft, he texted me that he was going with Marcus Mariota, another young, up-and-coming fantasy points hog.

That left me with the choice of Bell or Dak.  Understanding that there really weren’t any other young stud QBs left in the draft, only veterans and injury risks (Roethlisberger, Rivers, Stafford, Eli, Palmer, Cutler, and so on and so forth), I went with Dak.  I think he’s a superstar in the making and I’m not buying for one second this notion of a sophomore slump.  His TD/INT ratio this year might not be as crazy as last year, but I think we’ll see a spike in his overall TDs and yards thrown to MORE than make up for the regression.

As we snaked our way through the next round and a half, it dawned upon me that a lot of those veteran/injury risk QBs I listed above were flying off the board, to my shock and awe.  My hope, heading into this draft, was to get Dak and wrap around at pick 19 and snag Roethlisberger.  That way, I could bench Wentz and save him for when Roethlisberger ultimately gets injured (and hope that by that time Wentz would have asserted himself as a full-fledged fantasy starter in this league).  No such luck.  In fact, as the draft would shake out, I was completely and totally unable to pick up a backup QB.

At the tail end of the second round, after it was clear I wouldn’t get my rock of a backup QB, I was hoping to land Dez Bryant and have the Dallas Cowboys trifecta, but he was snagged 3 picks before me.  Michael Thomas, from New Orleans, fell WAY farther than I would’ve thought (I’m VERY high on Thomas this year and going forward), but was taken 2 picks before me.  There were a lot of options left, but I went with Leonard Fournette, in the hopes that he’ll become Ezekiel Elliott 2.0 (minus the domestic abuse charges).  The fact that he plays for the Jags scares me, as does the fact that he’s a rookie with a terrible QB in front of him, so much so that I might not even start him in Week 1 (such is my mania).  But, the instant he gets me a 20-point game for my bench, he’ll be locked into my starting lineup going forward.

I wrapped around and took Gronk in the third round.  A sure thing from a fantasy persepctive, and one of the very biggest question-marks from an injury perspective.  Either way, there weren’t a lot of good receivers left, so I took Best Player Available.

At this point, my team is Wentz, Dak, Elliott, Fournette, and Gronk.  Still no actual wide receivers.

By the time the draft got back to me, a lot more good receivers went off the board, so in keeping with my Best Player Available strategy, I took Carlos Hyde, RB of the 49ers.  I think he’s going to have a monster year as the best offensive weapon on that team.  Wrapping around, still without an amazing receiver option, I took Lamar Miller of the Texans.  So, now I’ve got 2 QBs, 4 RBs, 0 WRs, and 1 TE.

At my next pick, I knew I had to take a receiver, regardless of what was left out there.  For me, it came down to Emmanuel Sanders of DEN and Jamison Crowder of WAS.  Thankfully, the decision was made for me by the guy drafting right before me as he took Sanders.  Crowder it was.  Wrapping around, I was sure I was going to take Stefon Diggs of the Vikings, and ultimately this might be the pick I end up regretting the most.  See, with Yahoo’s rankings (yeah, we play on Yahoo, sue us), I saw an opportunity for another young, up-and-coming running back in Derrick Henry (the way the rankings were set, I doubt he would’ve been there for me nearly 20 picks later).  I had him all last year, and all last year he was decidedly behind DeMarco Murray on the depth chart.  I waited ALL YEAR for Murray to get hurt, and not only did he stay healthy, but he was in the top 3 of all backs in rushing attempts!  And this was in spite of the fact that whenever Henry did get the ball, he looked really fucking good (and, of course, he was a high draft pick for the Titans last year).

So, I’m rolling the dice on Year 2 of Derrick Henry.  If Murray gets injured, I’ve got a Top 5 running back to throw onto the pile (or use as trade bait for a stud receiver).  But, if Murray plays like he did last year, then I’ll have missed out on Diggs, or any number of receivers selected after him.  Roster status:  2 QBs, 5 RBs, 1 WR, 1 TE.

With my next two picks, I went receiver happy to compensate.  Unfortunately, by this time, the cupboards were pretty bare.  One of my new lines of thinking on receivers is:  taking the best ones from bad teams.  There are a couple of Browns receivers I really like, the Chargers guys are interesting, but I went with Pierre Garcon of the 49ers.  Yeah, he’s getting up there, but have you SEEN their depth chart?  And, I know, Brian Hoyer is their QB, but he’s still going to complete SOME passes, and he’s going to have to throw them to SOMEONE.  Garcon is most likely to get the lion’s share of the targets and touches that don’t go to Carlos Hyde (yes, I know, having not one but two 49ers on my team is just asking for trouble).  If he stays healthy, he could be a nice little steal for me.  Then, I wrapped around and picked up Willie Snead.  I’ve always liked him as a #2 option in New Orleans, but he seems to have REALLY fallen out of favor this pre-season (at least, according to reports), as the Saints have Michael Thomas as their clear #1, and the newly-signed Ted Ginn as a guy competing for #2 reps.  I dunno, I’ve always thought Sneed had good ball skills in the red zone, so I went with him over Ginn (secretly hoping I could snag Ginn the next time the draft got back to me, where I could keep the best one and waive the loser, but it wasn’t to be).

At that point, I had 2 QBs, 5 RBs, 3 WRs, and 1 TE.  I could officially field a full offense plus a flex spot, plus have enough RBs left over to compensate for a possible Elliott suspension.  I had to go get a Defense the next time up, because all the best ones were flying off the board.

I wanted Houston’s defense really bad, but he went 5 spots ahead of me, so I settled on Minnesota’s D.  We’ll see.  On the wrap-around, I picked up Eric Decker of the Titans.  He’s a touchdown machine, but he’s older and coming off injury, so it wouldn’t shock me if he isn’t long for my team.

Heading into the last two picks of the draft, a few Kickers had already been taken, but Stephen Gostkowski was still there for me so I somehow have New England’s kicker free of charge.  With my final pick, I took Rishard Matthews (a guy my friend wanted, but he accidentally took Jordan Matthews instead, a few picks before me).  I think Rishard is awfully underrated as a guy who had a pretty solid season for the Titans last year.  Neither he, nor Decker, figure to start for me out of the gate.  But, I’ll monitor both of them and keep the guy who’s more reliable.

Final Roster looks like this:

  • QB – Dak Prescott
  • QB – Carson Wentz
  • RB – Ezekiel Elliott
  • RB – Carlos Hyde
  • WR – Jamison Crowder
  • WR – Pierre Garcon
  • TE – Rob Gronkowski
  • Flex – (RB) Lamar Miller
  • K – Stephen Gostkowski
  • DEF – Minnesota

With my bench looking like this:

  • RB – Leonard Fournette
  • RB – Derrick Henry
  • WR – Willie Sneed
  • WR – Eric Decker
  • WR – Rishard Matthews

Look, I don’t love it, all right!  I’m not boasting here!  I love my running back situation, of course, but I have far-and-away the worst set of wide receivers in the entire league.  I’ve got a top-flight kicker, a good-enough defense, and the best tight end in the game (when healthy).  As for my quarterbacks, they’re young.  One was great last year (Dak), one got a lot of experience and took his lumps (Wentz).  The picking’s are pretty slim on the waiver wire, as far as QBs are concerned.  Most of the rookies are there, alongside a few of the very worst starters this league has to offer.  So, if Wentz can’t get it going early, I might be stuck with a Hoyer or a Kizer.

On the plus side, I think regardless of what happens, I should have 3 viable keepers heading into 2018, and that’s all I can really ask for.  If Wentz pans out, I’ll keep my two QBs and Elliott.  If Wentz doesn’t look good, or if Fournette really busts out, I might go with Dak and the two RBs.

Here goes nothing.

Seahawks Death Week: Where Have All The Flowers Gone?

We were pretty spoiled the last few months, with the greatest local football season in recent memory.  When you factor in the Seahawks winning their division and getting into the second week of the playoffs, combined with the Huskies winning the Pac-12 for the first time in forever and making the College Football Playoffs for the first time PERIOD, it’s been pretty great talking about football the last few months.  And, the best part is we all get to look forward to next year, with the potential for both teams to be even BETTER!

But now, today, January 20, 2016, there’s no more football.  Alabama got nipped by Clemson (leaving us all to wonder what if, had Clemson been the 4-seed and the Huskies the 3-seed) and the conference championship games this weekend feature the nausea-inducing triad of Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, and Ben Roethlisberger.  Ultimately, when Atlanta gets beaten, I’ll have yet another Super Bowl with no one to root for, because I fucking hate Green Bay, New England, and Pittsburgh.  Boycott the Super Bowl you say?  Lady Gaga is the halftime performer anyway, so it’s not like I’ll be missing all that much?  I’m not gonna lie to you, it’s on the table.

Even worse, with no professional basketball in Seattle right now (and, for that matter, no professional hockey, but that’s neither here nor there), all I’m left with are the Washington Huskies men’s basketball team, embroiled in what’s looking like Romar’s worst season since he was hired, with the likelihood that he’ll be fired by season’s end, depriving us of what’s looking like a potentially world-beating 2017 recruiting class.  That’s a post for another day, but I’m looking at the rest of this regular season and I don’t see more than 2 wins for the Huskies!  What a collosal shitshow.

Just because it’s college basketball season, though, I wouldn’t expect an influx of posts on the Huskies.  There might be a disgruntled game recap here and there, but everything’s going to feel like beating a dead horse.  I’m sure there will be the occasional Seahawks post, as news would warrant, but what this really means for the ol’ blog is turning the page towards the 2017 Mariners season.

Sigh.

I mean, yeah, this MIGHT be the best Mariners team we’ve seen since the Pat Gillick years, but it also might be Year 2 of the pitching staff dragging this team down to mediocrity.  Sure, we MIGHT get some bounce-back years from our ace and our bullpen, but I can’t help but wonder where the other shoe is going to drop.  Is this the year we’re decimated by injuries?  Are we going to continue our terrible luck in 1-run games and in extra innings?

The worst part of any baseball season is that it’s such a God damned slog.  Six months’ worth of regular season, another month of Spring Training, another few weeks of training camp before that; then you’ve got another month and a half of yet another post-season we won’t get to experience.  It feels like baseball season JUST ENDED; and to those of you who are already longing for its slobbery, awkward embrace, you’re fucking sick!  You’re demented and you’re suffering from Stockholm syndrome at the hands of the MLB taking your brains hostage!

In football season, everything zooms by!  You know how easy it is to crank out 5 posts a week during football season?  Two Seahawks, 1 Huskies, and a couple of miscellaneous depending on how the news goes down in any given week.  There’s always SOMETHING to write about.  In August, it starts ramping up, and in January it’s over.  Bingo, bango, bongo.  Then, you’re left with most of a fucking calendar year focusing on baseball.  Yuk.

As usual, I’ll try my damnedest, but it’s gonna be pretty bleak around here until at least March.  I mean, how many fucking Opening Day roster projections can one man create before he goes insane and starts chopping off arms and legs?

This is what I’m like when the Seahawks’ season ends.  It’s like a reverse butterfly situation.  The beautiful Seahawks crawl into their cocoon, then they come out as an ugly baseball-playing caterpillar.  If you need me, I’ll be counting down the days until NFL Free Agency starts.

Seahawks Death Week: The “2016 The Year” Of Football Seasons

There’s just nothing to like about that season by the Seattle Seahawks.  Not a damn bit of good came from it.  That’s two years in a row of spinning our tires in the mud, with not a lot to show for it.  All we got was another year older.  Instead of being the next great dynasty, we’re just another good team.  One Super Bowl win, with the hope that we’re able to squeeze another one out of Russell Wilson before he moves on.  More and more, it’s looking like instead of a Brady/Manning/Roethlisberger situation, we’ve got a Drew Brees situation.  Maybe one title is all this group gets.  Maybe we spend the rest of our time with this core just slowly getting worse, until it’s just Wilson and Carroll, and a bunch of stiffs, regularly finishing in 3rd and 4th place in the NFC West.

The worst part is, I don’t even know how to define this season.  Yeah, the O-Line stunk, but they didn’t stink in every single game.  Yeah, we lost Earl Thomas, but there were plenty of times where this defense looked inept with Thomas in there.  If you go game by game, it’s a pretty frustrating exercise.

***

The Seahawks barely beat the Dolphins at home in week 1; the offensive line was definitely our primary fault in that one.  Wilson’s ankle got rolled up on, and that was the genesis of Hobbled Russell Wilson.

The Seahawks lost on the road to the Rams in week 2; again, the O-Line was crushed.  We lost three field goals to one, in the second game where the offense was totally out of sorts.

The 49ers were some home cooking in week 3; but, then Wilson got rolled up on again, this time injuring his knee, sending him to work with a brace for the rest of the regular season.  No fun there.

The Jets on the road were supposed to be a big test in week 4; they ended up being 5-11 on the year and one of the worst teams in the NFL.  The Seahawks, with Hobbled Russell Wilson, won by 10 points and settled into a much-needed BYE week.

The Seahawks were able to squeak by the Falcons in week 6; I think we all know enough of that game.  One bright spot was that, even in spite of a disastrous third quarter, we were able to fend off a last-minute drive, like we weren’t able to do in 2015.  The defense, when most everyone was healthy, was certainly better in 2016 than 2015; but the defense was rarely healthy.

Just when we were hoping to build on some momentum of a 3-game winning streak, we went and tied the Cardinals in week 7.  The third game out of six for the Seahawks where the offense was absolutely manhandled.  Of course, had Hauschka not been a ninny, this would’ve been a win.

The Seahawks followed that up with a road trip to New Orleans, and a baffling defeat in week 8; but, a defeat very similar to ones we have every year.  Not a good look for our defense, but the fact that our offense was held to 13 points (the other 7 attributed to an Earl Thomas fumble return for TD) against that defense is unconscionable.  Four games out of seven where the offense was a fucking trainwreck.

The Seahawks played the Bills on Monday Night Football in week 9; turns out Rex & Rob Ryan are the cures for what ails this offense.  It was less encouraging for our defense to give up 25, but they were able to foil a 2-minute drive at the end of the game to lock it up (again, shades of this not being the 2015 season).

In a game everyone expected the Seahawks to lose, they went into New England on Sunday night and upset the Pats 31-24.  Even with Michael Bennett on the shelf, this was a watershed game for our defense, as Kam returned and locked down Gronk in New England’s final series.  This was also a coming out party for C.J. Prosise, showing what this offense can do when it has a healthy, dynamic running back.

The Seahawks followed this up with a dominating performance over a then-contending Eagles team at home in week 11.  Prosise had another big impact in this game, with a 72-yard touchdown run, before leaving injured and not returning for the rest of the season.  Not a ton of people talking about the loss of Prosise as the 2016 Seahawks’ downfall, but let’s just say if we’d had him healthy for the full season, things might’ve gone a lot differently for this offense.

On the heels of another 3-game winning streak – and probably the best 3-game stretch for this team in the 2016 season – the Seahawks went to Tampa in week 12 and had their fifth terrible offensive game of the season.  This one is all on the O-Line, but one could argue things might have gone differently had Britt been healthy.  Either way, after going down 14-0 in the first quarter, and giving up no points the rest of the way, that was a real missed opportunity for the Seahawks, allowing the Bucs to hang around in contention for a while longer.

Injured guys started trickling back for the next game, at home, against the Panthers in week 13.  Britt was back, Bennett was back, Rawls had worked his way back to being a workhorse, Wilson was on the mend.  For the first time in a long time, things were FINALLY looking up for the Seahawks.  We crushed the Panthers, 40-7, and this was around the same time where we always go on our late-season runs of dominance.  But, because 2016 is the fucking worst, this was the same game where Earl Thomas broke his leg and was lost for the season.  Hashtag WeCantHaveNiceThings.

It was hard not to be deflated over the Thomas injury, but I refused to believe things would fall apart just because he was out.  We still had Kam after all!  Well, week 14’s game in Green Bay should’ve been our first clue that the rest of this year would just be a formality.  Aaron Rodgers did Aaron Rodgers things and the Seahawks were blown out for the first time since 2011.  Also, this was the sixth terrible offensive game, but mostly due to Russell Wilson’s interceptions.

In week 15, we handled the Rams on Thursday Night Football, in the game where Richard Sherman put Darrell Bevell on blast.  He would go on to put most everyone else on blast the rest of the year, in what should’ve been our second clue that the rest of this year would just be a formality.  The Seahawks don’t lose their cool.  Even when they lose their cool, it’s for a reason.  There wasn’t much of a reason for this.

In spite of the Seahawks being an up-and-down team, they held their fate in their hands.  All they needed to do was beat an underwhelming Cardinals team at home, then finish off the 49ers on the road.  Simple, right?  Win those two games, lock down the 2-seed.  Lock down the 2-seed, get the first round BYE.  Get the first round BYE, then host the Falcons in the Divisional Round instead of the other way around, and maybe our crowd does enough damage to their offense to allow the Seahawks to win and host the NFC Championship Game for the third time in four seasons.  But, the defense gave up 34 points to the Cardinals in week 16, and all of that was washed away.  The third and final clue that the rest of this year would just be a formality:  now we’d be a 3-seed, be forced to play in the Wild Card round, and have to go on the road to the Falcons, where we would go on to lose.

The Seahawks were able to take down the 49ers in week 17, but it was a lot closer than it should’ve been.  Was it us taking it easy, knowing the Falcons would lock up the 2-seed in a matter of hours?  Was it the defense continuing to struggle without Earl Thomas?

Then, the big Wild Card win at home.  The last hurrah, over a pretty inept and banged up Lions team.  Not a lot to learn from that, and ultimately the next game would look nothing like this one.

***

I mean, how do you wrap your head around a season like that?

To start, you can’t say a damn thing about it without getting into the offensive line issues.  This was the second year in a row that the Seahawks went with a bullshit, makeshift O-Line, instead of ponying up the money for proper blockers.  Justin Britt had his position moved for the third time in three seasons, and that was the ONLY move that worked.  He’ll go into the final year of his rookie deal in 2017 as our starting center; that makes me happy.  You can take the other four guys and throw them in a fucking volcano for all I care.

The Seahawks, in their prime, 2012-2014, always got by with Just Okay offensive lines.  Adequate, middle-of-the-road, doing just enough to let Marshawn Lynch run by them, and to let Russell Wilson run around them.  Then, slowly but surely, all the good parts were stripped away:  Unger traded away; Giacomini, Carpenter, and Sweezy allowed to hit free agency; Russell Okung – probably the most talented of the bunch – also allowed to hit free agency and sign a terrible deal in Denver.  Ending up with two rookies, a second-year player getting his first starting action, a third-year player switching positions for the third time, and Garry Gilliam, the only guy starting in the same spot from the year before.  Oh, and don’t forget the two free agents – Sowell and Webb – who were terrible, lost their starting jobs, and won’t be around beyond this season.

And, I get it.  I understand what the Seahawks were doing.  There’s only so much money to go around, and they preferred to give that money to their star players at the skill positions.  Wilson, Baldwin, Graham, Bennett, Avril, Wagner, Wright, Thomas, Sherman, Chancellor.  Those guys take up a lot of money.  Where can we save?  The O-Line!  Hell, we’ve got Tom Cable, surely he can build them up to be respectable by season’s end!

They damn near did it in 2015.  It looked like, once Patrick Lewis took over at center, things settled down for that unit.  Then, we got into the Divisional Round, against the Panthers and their ferocious interior linemen, and that unit was reduced to rubble.

But, without much of a choice, they did the same thing again in 2016.  As I mentioned, Britt was moved to center and that worked.  Glowinski was drafted in 2015 to be a guard of the future for this team, so why not let him work on his craft in actual games?  Germain Ifedi came at the price of a first round draft pick in 2016, so there was no way he wasn’t starting.  They made it through the season mostly unscathed, and you can ALMOST see a future with those guys in those spots, but they’ve got a lot of work to do.

And, while the guards made PLENTY of mistakes, and were often the worst parts of this unit, in my book they’re taking a back seat to the tackles, who were God-fucking-awful.  George Fant was a tight end in college, and here he was as our starting left tackle.  He was almost constantly over-matched, when we weren’t chipping defensive ends with our tight ends and running backs to give him a little help.  Gilliam was a little better – particularly later in the season, when he essentially had his manhood questioned by the coaching staff – but he too was often overmatched.  Together, neither of them are starting talents in the NFL.  Gilliam is a guy who might be a swing tackle for a good team, a 6th guy on the line who can start for you in a pinch.  But, he has no business being in there everyday.  Fant should’ve had this year to just develop in the background, but since this organization did absolutely nothing to replace Okung – aside from signing Sowell, who is a known commodity as one of the worst tackles in football – Fant was put in a position he had no business being in.  And, in that sense, he did all right.  He could be another guy who is a quality swing tackle, but he probably shouldn’t be a starter either.

This team needs, at a minimum, two new offensive tackles.  Ideally, one high in the draft and one as a free agent.  Luckily, we’ve weathered the storm of our salary cap being up against it, and should have enough extra money to make some moves, as 2017’s cap looks to be up to $170 million or more.  Not so luckily, we draft 26th again, and no quality offensive tackles will be there waiting for us.  I don’t know what the free agent market is going to be like, but things are going to get REALLY salty in Seattle if this team sits back and does nothing.

***

Aside from that, it’s a lot to do with what I was talking about yesterday:  our shoddy depth.  Starting with the 2013 draft, let’s look at who panned out:

  • Luke Willson – backup tight end
  • Spencer Ware – quality running back who we waived; he’s playing well for the Chiefs
  • Paul Richardson – 4th receiver, started coming on in this year’s playoffs with Lockett injured
  • Justin Britt – starting center, with 2016 being his first good year
  • Cassius Marsh – backup pass rusher & special teamer, 3 career sacks
  • Frank Clark – quality defensive lineman
  • Tyler Lockett – quality receiver & returner
  • Mark Glowinski – guard, started in 2016
  • Germain Ifedi – guard, started in 2016
  • Jarran Reed – quality run-stuffing defensive tackle
  • C.J. Prosise – quality running back who can’t stay healthy

That’s it, and I’m really stretching the definition of “panned out” with some of these guys.  The quality guys who we still have on this team include:  Britt, Clark, Lockett, Reed, and Prosise.  Beyond that, when you talk about this team’s depth, it’s a lot of young guys who haven’t really gotten a chance to start – because they’ve been boxed out by all the studs we’ve got starting on this team – but these same guys also aren’t making the most of their opportunities when they do find themselves on the field.  That means the coaches are failing them, or that they’re just not working very hard, but I don’t think this coaching staff or this team would sit by and let a bunch of slackers fuck around in practice.

Also, not for nothing, but when I talk about depth, I’m mostly looking at the secondary.  The depth on the O-Line is, I’m sure, a real problem, but so are the starters, so why beat that dead horse?  There’s solid depth at receiver – as shown by how P-Rich stepped his game up in the playoffs this year like a fucking CHAMP!  PROUD of you, boy! – and at tight end.  There’s also good-enough depth at D-Line and in the linebackers’ room to get by.  Where this team – and particularly this defense – struggles is when we get into the depth in the secondary.  When Kam Chancellor goes down (as he seems to do every year now), and when Earl Thomas goes down.  When, inevitably, Richard Sherman goes down (because he’s such a monster tackler; I can’t imagine those shoulders will hold up forever).  Or, like in this last game, where Shead went down with what looks like an ACL.  We thought Jeremy Lane would be enough – and I think he did okay, I’m not in this big hurry to run him off the team – but this team needs more back there.  It’s a shame too, because that’s supposed to be Pete Carroll’s specialty.  He should be ashamed of the depth we had back there in the secondary – particularly at safety – and he should be looking to shore that up in a major way in the upcoming draft.

No team stays healthy for a full year, but you’ve got to have guys to come in there and pick up the slack.  We weren’t able to do that this year.  That, and our O-Line troubles, doomed us for two years in a row.

It sounds insane to be this disgruntled about a team that hasn’t been to a Super Bowl in the last two years, but that’s what comes with success.  We’re not very far from those teams, in terms of talent and in terms of years, but we’re also trending in the absolute opposite direction.

Reasons To Be Optimistic About The Seahawks

My last Seahawks post wasn’t a joke, I really don’t have much confidence in the Seahawks doing much of anything in these playoffs.  My brother and I already have a Pizza Party bet going.  He says the Seahawks will beat the Falcons (i.e. implying that the Seahawks will get there by beating the Lions this weekend) and I say they absolutely will not.  So, as I told him before, it’ll either be the sweetest pizza I’ve ever eaten (if I’m wrong and we beat them) or the easiest free pizza I’ve ever won (when I’m right and we lose tomorrow or next Saturday).

But, as Seattle sports fans, we’re nothing if not dreamers.  All you gotta do is get in the post-season tournament, then anything can happen.  Hell, Joe Flacco won a Super Bowl in 2012 (after closing out the regular season on a 1-4 streak), while throwing 11 touchdowns and 0 interceptions in his 4 playoff games!  If that doesn’t scream “on any given Sunday”, I don’t know what does.

There are plenty of reasons to be down about the Seahawks right now.  Earl Thomas is out and our pass defense has collapsed as a result.  Tyler Lockett is out and we’re reduced to signing Devin Hester off the scrap heap (which, I suppose, beats having Richard Sherman back there and risking him to injury; but Hester also fumbled a bunch earlier this year, which is why he was free to sign with us in the first place; he’s also 34 years old).  And we’ve absolutely run out of time on this offensive line.  There are no more practice games where we can say, “Maybe they’ll pull it together and gel for the stretch run.”  We’re fucking IN the stretch run!  And they haven’t gelled for shit!  Remember last year, when our O-Line really DID gel in the second half of the season (or, at least, we thought they did)?  Remember what happened in the first half of that Carolina playoff game, where their D-Line was in our backfield so often it felt like it was Week 1 against the Rams all over again?  Well, the Lions nor the Falcons are on par with what the Panthers had going last year, but with how much worse the Seahawks are this year, they might as well be the fucking ’85 Bears.

But … I’m supposed to be optimistic here.  Reasons for optimism.  Think think think.

Well, truth be told, the Lions are probably the best possible draw in the NFC.  We don’t have the luxury of being in the AFC with half the teams missing their starting quarterbacks, so we’ll take what we can get.  The problem is, if the Lions are the 6th team out of 6 in the NFC, the Seahawks are probably 5th.  One could argue there’s some low-level blogger in Detroit writing about his Lions right now, thrilled (relatively speaking) that they caught a break and only have to play the very-beatable Seahawks this week, as opposed to Green Bay or the Giants.

Also on the plus side is that, while it’s no BYE week, we still get the game at home.  We’re 7-1 at home this season, and while we’ve been far from dominant, we’ve at least played better here than on the road.  It’s a night game, on a Saturday, so I’m sure the crowd will be in a drunken lather.  In an ideal scenario, the Seahawks will come out on fire and take a double-digit lead, thereby allowing our pass rush to tee off.  In the likeliest real world scenario, Matthew Stafford will dink and dunk us to death, taking out the crowd but good.

If you want to get down to it, the biggest reason for optimism is the fact that we have Russell Wilson and his two best receiving targets in Baldwin and Graham.  Between the two of them, you’d think we’d be able to get at least one of them going!  Also, by the looks of the 49ers game, it looked like Wilson was more aggressive in the zone read, pulling the ball and running with it.  Considering our O-Line can’t open up any holes for our running backs, we might need about 80 yards or so on the ground from our quarterback.

We’re not going to keep the Lions off the scoreboard, so it’s going to come down to our offense probably winning in some sort of a shootout.  The Lions’ defense doesn’t strike me as all that impressive; they seemed to beat up on the crappy teams (holding the Titans, Bears, Redskins, Vikings, Jags, Vikings, Saints, Bears, and Giants under 20 points; I suppose that performance against the Giants is somewhat impressive, but Eli is still Eli), but they’ve been gashed pretty good by the likes of the Packers twice, the Cowboys, the Colts (all over 30 points) and even the Rams (28 points).  I’d say 30 is the magic number.  I have a tough time seeing the Seahawks losing this game if we can put up 30 or more.

Going forward, if you want reasons for optimism in these playoffs, here’s a juicy one:  the Seahawks will either be playing at home or in a covered (domed) stadium from here on out.  Yeah, I know the Falcons and Cowboys are really good, but if we end up playing both of them on the road, at least there won’t be any field conditions to worry about.  At least if we’re ever faced with any sort of bitter coldness, it’ll be in front of our home fans (should either the Giants or Packers go into Dallas and beat them, which is entirely possible, while we go into Atlanta and win, which … could theoretically happen I suppose).

I would also say, regarding the remaining four NFC teams (Falcons, Cowboys, Giants, Packers), that none of them are really dominant on defense.  Each team has a player here and there you have to worry about.  But, nothing like the Vikings or Panthers were able to throw at us last year, or even the Cardinals or Bucs this year (at least, when you talk about D-Lines).

What the Seahawks need to do, if they expect to make another run at the championship, is have the offense put on its big boy pants and get to work.  For too long, they’ve leaned on the defense like a crutch.  Well, now the defense is struggling.  It’s banged up and thin.  So, now it’s time for the offense to finally pick up the defense.

I’ve been saying for years that I think Russell Wilson is an elite quarterback, and if you give him a chance to carry this team, he’ll prove he’s just as good as the likes of Brady, Brees, and Roethlisberger.  Well, I don’t see a running game anywhere, do you?  This is it!  The time is now!  Russell Wilson is all we’ve got!  And, to be quite honest, he hasn’t been good enough.  After last season’s breathtaking second half blitzkrieg, we all thought that the switch had been flipped and we’d be witnessing a Top 3 quarterback in the prime of his life.  While he’s managed career highs in completions, attempts, and total yards, his completion percentage is down from last year, his average yards per pass attempt is among the lowest of his career, and he’s thrown 13 fewer touchdowns than his career high last year!  While surpassing his career high in interceptions thrown.  Suffice it to say, he’s seen career lows in both QBR and passer rating.  I know he had those nasty knee and ankle injuries earlier in the season, and we were lucky to even get him in all 16 regular season games, let alone starting them all and playing the lion’s share of snaps.  But, he’s had some of his very worst games in the second half of this season – ostensibly when he was feeling as good as he had since before the injuries – and he’s consistently been missing receivers and turning the ball over too much to be effective.

I would never want my quarterback to be more like Joe Flacco – because he’s terrible – but if the Seahawks are going to do anything this year, they’re going to need Russell Wilson to channel some of that Joe Flacco 2012 post-season magic.  It’s the only way.

It’s Difficult To Win In Green Bay In December For Some Reason

I guess Green Bay is on some crazy-long winning streak at home in the month of December, and in games started by Aaron Rodgers it’s even crazier and longer?  I dunno.  I suppose that’s some comment on how difficult it is to win in freezing cold weather, unless you’re “used to it” like the Packers ostensibly would be.  But, doesn’t that feel like one of those stats that has more to do with the organization?  The Packers have been pretty damn good for a long time, and they’ve been particularly good with Rodgers at the helm, so it would stand to reason that an anomalous winning streak such as this might be in the cards.

If the Cleveland Browns played all their home games in Green Bay for the last decade, I’m certain we would not be having this same conversation.

So, I’m not going to put a ton of credence into this winning streak, because like all streaks, they come to an end eventually.  And since 2016 is literally the worst year in the history of years, it would stand to reason that some hardships are coming Green Bay’s way.

The Packers are 6-6 coming into this game, and they’ve looked decidedly unremarkable this whole year.  Their offense, which is supposed to be their strength, is ranked 13th in total yards, just two spots ahead of the Seahawks.  Their running game is particularly terrible, averaging less than 100 yards per game, ranked 24th overall (the Seahawks are only ranked 20th, but remember we’ve been dealing with another brand new O-Line and the struggles of Christine Michael for most of the year).  Most galling of all might be that the Packers are only ranked 10th in passing, behind teams like Arizona, Cincinnati, San Diego, and New England (and don’t forget Brady missed 4 games!).  Maybe most importantly of all, the Packers only rank 11th in points scored, behind teams like Buffalo and Tennessee.

It’s been a problem this year, because while their defense is rarely a strength, it’s even less disruptive this year.  They’re pretty middle-of-the-road in sacks, and now they’ll be missing their sack leader in Nick Perry.  They’re already down a couple of inside linebackers, and if Clay Matthews can’t go, you might as well stick a fork in their defense.  Ha Ha Clinton-Dix can’t be everywhere at once!

As was shown in the Tampa Bay game, though, it doesn’t necessarily take an elite front four to get pressure on the Seahawks.  Unlike that game, we’re healthy across the O-Line, and Garry Gilliam has effectively been benched for stopgap improvement Bradley Sowell.  I don’t know how you lose a right tackle job to Sowell, but Gilliam must’ve been awfully bad.  On the plus side, Britt is playing like a quasi-Pro Bowler at center, and Glowinski and Ifedi have looked better as the season has gone on.  Regardless, you have to be concerned for whoever’s trying to block Julius Peppers, but if that’s all they’ve got for their pass rush, I don’t feel too worried.

On the flipside, we’ve got a secondary that’s down Earl Thomas for the rest of the year.  I don’t anticipate we’re just going to completely fall apart in his absence, but there’s obviously a steep drop-off from him to Steven Terrell.  That doesn’t change the overall makeup of the defense though.  We’re still going to do everything we can to funnel everything into the underneath routes.  And, let’s be honest here, MUCH worse secondaries have been able to hold the Packers’ passing game in check this season.  Since we don’t really have a run game to worry about, it might make sense to regularly alternate between blitz-heavy packages and dropping extra guys into coverage.  I wouldn’t stick in a zone too much though, as the Packers seem to really struggle against man coverage.

In a vacuum, the Seahawks should have little trouble moving the ball and putting up points, as well as holding the Packers’ offense in check.  But, we’re looking at a game in sub-freezing temperatures, with a likelihood of snowfall.  In other words, crazy shit can happen.  The ball will be extra tough to kick, as well as – I’m sure – not ideal for throwing.  I want to say the team that runs the ball best will prevail, which puts the odds of winning severely in Seattle’s favor.

I mean, come on, tell me a Seahawks fan who isn’t looking forward to Christine Michael getting a lot of reps with the Packers!  On that playing surface?  He’ll be slipping and falling like CRAZY!

I ultimately think the Seahawks will win this game, but for some reason I keep coming back to these nagging doubts.  Is it the weather?  The haunting specter of almost losing to the Vikings in the playoffs last year?  The fact that I still hold Aaron Rodgers in the highest of esteem even though he’s not quite at the all-world level we’ve seen him at in recent seasons?  Or, is it that damned December winning streak in Lambeau Field?

More than anything, I just think it’s this NFL season.  I can’t remember the last time I’ve struggled this hard at picking NFL winners.  It seems like when I give the home team the edge in a 50/50 matchup, it backfires.  Then, when I pick the quote-unquote best team, regardless of location, it backfires some more!  No matter who I pick in this game, that team will most certainly lose.  So, I might as well pick the Packers and at least do the Seahawks a solid.

Or, has my saying that effectively reversed the reverse-jinx?  God, I hate me sports.

The Seahawks Released The Kraken (Is That Still A Thing?) All Over The Patriots

I’d handed the keys to the Monday post on this site to the Huskies this season, but the less remembered or said about the game on Saturday, the better.  I’ll get to Husky football later in the week, when I’m better able to handle such rejection.  In the meantime, I’ll kick things off on a much more pleasant note:  a weekend-salvaging victory for the city of Seattle that took place in New England.

I didn’t really give the Seahawks much of a chance to win this game, along with most of the football-watching public, for all the usual reasons:  we were coming off of a short week, they were coming off of a BYE; we were flying across the country, they’d only left the greater northeastern portion of the country one time after week 1; we’re dealing with injuries at many key positions, they’ve enjoyed relative good health for the most part.  And, let’s face it, you never feel comfortable going up against a coach like Bill Belichick, but you ESPECIALLY never feel comfortable when he’s got two weeks to prepare for you.  They’re the best team in the AFC and one of the best teams in all of football, and as such, you not only had the vast majority of America predicting a Patriots victory, but a blowout victory to boot!

To my very minimal credit, I told you that line was too high.  As I mentioned, the Seahawks have only lost twice by more than 7 points since the start of the 2012 season; WE. DON’T. GET. BLOWN. OUT.  If you were smart with your money, you would’ve written that down, pinned it to your shirt, and at the very least bet the Seahawks to cover.  If you would’ve been truly ballsy and bet the Seahawks on the money line, I heard it got as high as +290, which is an absurdly tempting bet when you’re talking about a team like the Seahawks.  Even if I didn’t think they’d win outright, +290 is too good not to at least throw a hundo on!

The Seahawks had a couple things going for them that made all the difference in the world.  First, we got Kam Chancellor back for the first time since we had our BYE week; and second, we finally came to terms with the fact that Christine Michael isn’t a starting-calibre running back in this league.  Well, maybe that’s not fair, but he’s certainly not starting-calibre in this system that we run under Tom Cable.  He might very well thrive under a different scheme, but we’ll never realize that with him in a Seahawks uniform.

The difference between Michael and C.J. Prosise is drastic!  I never really picked up on it until I finally got an extended look at Prosise – like most of the rest of the world – in last night’s game.  Prosise seems to know where the plays are supposed to go.  He seems to hit the appropriate hole more often than not.  When he gets the ball in his hands, I’m not sitting there worried about him running himself into a 3-yard loss.  Michael has a lot of talent in open space, and it often feels like he’s THIIIIIIS close to breaking one for 60+ yards.  But, more often than not, he misses his opportunity to get a decent gain by trying for the home run.

Prosise also avoids a couple of annoying Christine Michael traits that have been driving me crazy this whole year:  1) he doesn’t slip and fall with no one near him, and 2) he doesn’t try to avoid contact by running out of bounds.  The slip & fall thing I just don’t get.  Either Michael isn’t wearing the proper cleats, or he’s literally a fucking character on the old Scooby Doo cartoons whose legs are running faster than the rest of his body.  But, again, last night he found himself on the turf before a defender was anywhere near him, and that shit just needs to stop!  As for the avoiding contact thing, I don’t get that either.  I mean, Marshawn Lynch was JUST HERE last year!  Michael’s been working under Lynch since he came into the league in 2013!  How does NONE of Lynch’s toughness rub off on him?  Has he not been paying attention to how the rest of the team reacts and feeds off of our running backs when they seek out contact instead of running away from it?  Let’s face it, that’s not who we are.  We don’t run away from anything; we get after it!  (unless you play quarterback, and then you do the sensible fucking thing, because we don’t need you missing games).

It’s cool to have last night sort of be the coming out party for a guy like Prosise.  I scoffed quite a bit when – after we drafted him – a few people who were familiar with him in college broached the idea that he could be an every-down type of back.  I still think that’s a little far-fetched, mostly because I have serious doubts about his ability to stay healthy in ANY role, let alone one as a feature running back in this system.  But, I think it’s very reasonable to point out that the Seahawks have added a valuable weapon to our offensive arsenal.  When you think about the Seahawks on offense, you rightly start with Wilson, Graham, and Baldwin; then, if you’re feeling generous, you tack on Tyler Lockett, Thomas Rawls when he’s healthy, and Jermaine Kearse as a bigger, possession-type receiver who’s also capable of going down field and making a big play.  Well, I think you very much have to throw Prosise’s name into that mix, and a lot higher on the list than you might’ve thought coming into the year.  Just imagine what this offense will look like when Rawls comes back in a week or two.

There were a lot of huge plays in this game.  Baldwin’s three touchdowns were all impressive, there was a pretty dime to Lockett early on to jumpstart things, and I seem to remember at least one really important conversion to Jimmy Graham to keep a drive alive (was it at the end of the first half, maybe?).  But, do you want to know what my favorite play was in that game last night?  I should really say “plays”, because the Seahawks went to this well more than once, to almost universal positive results; and, quite frankly, it was something I don’t remember the Seahawks running all that much to this point in the season.  It’s that play where the Seahawks allow the opposing rusher to run free at the quarterback off the edge, and as he runs past a running back (mostly Prosise) who spills out into an open flat, Wilson lobs the ball over the rusher to the wide open running back for an easy gainer.  The Patriots defended that play correctly only once all game, but the Seahawks gashed ’em repeatedly, as they kept forgetting to have a backup defender peel out on the running back.  These weren’t just checkdowns, either.  This was something they likely saw on tape as a way to beat this defense, and it almost always worked for either first downs or big yards.  And, the thing about it is, it’s easy to defend, so I’m sure other teams will take note and try to take that away from us, but you know what happens then?  It re-opens the middle of the field for Jimmy Graham to take over.  WE GOT YOU ASSHOLES COMING AND GOING!!!

And, make no mistake, New England’s #1 gameplan was to Stop Jimmy Graham.  To their credit, they did the job.  Graham only had 48 yards on 4 receptions and no TDs.  You know what you’re going to get with a team like New England:  they’re going to take away what you do best, and you’ve got to find other ways to beat them.  To Russell Wilson’s credit, he didn’t try to force the issue by targeting Graham unnecessarily (if anything, he probably targeted Kearse too much, especially in the early going, but it’s not necessarily his fault that Kearse’s stone hands have returned).

Russell Wilson really played a fantastic game.  He was far from perfect – he missed repeatedly on the goalline when we were trying to turn some of those field goals into touchdowns, often overthrowing guys too far to the outside in what looked like an effort to be extra-cautious and not have his routes jumped – but even in a game where he left some throws on the field, he showed he was the best offensive player in that game.  Oh yes!  Even better than Mr. Tom Brady himself!  To be fair, Brady had a pretty good game in his own right, but his interception was VERY uncharacteristic, and he was held without a TD pass (which really screwed over a lot of fantasy teams like mine, I’m sure).  I actually thought he was going to beat us on yet another quarterback sneak, as that play might be the most deadly play in football.  But, he went up against a very talented and very fired up defense, who got the better of him in the end.

This game as a whole was reminiscent of the Super Bowl these two teams played, and not just because NBC made no bones about bringing up that game, and that fateful pass, what felt like every 30 seconds (as was expected going in).  Tom Brady, for the most part, took what the defense gave him, as he did two years ago, and it was successful throughout the game, until the final drive.  It was entertaining as all get-out, to be sure!  Seven lead changes in that game, just hours after another game (Cowboys at Steelers) had seven lead changes of its own (leading to pundits and NFL lackeys to hyperbolically dub yesterday The Day That Saved The NFL).  But, there was one key difference in last night’s game that swung it to the Seahawks:  health, particularly on defense.

See, New England’s defense is garbage, and I didn’t really have any fears about moving the ball on them.  When we started off the game settling for field goals, I was a little nervous.  You can’t be an underdog, on the road, trading field goals for touchdowns against a player like Tom Brady.  So, while I was fairly confident in the Seahawks scoring points in this one, my main concern was:  could we score ENOUGH?  In other words, how big of a hole would our defense dig us into?

Probably an unfair fear on my part.  I mean, I’ve been watching this team and following it pretty closely for a while now.  Years and years and years now.  All I needed to do was go back, reflect on that Super Bowl, and think about how that team differed from this one.  What was the main reason (aside from not handing it off to a certain running back at a certain goalline) the Seahawks lost that game?  A game that, if you’ll recall, we had been leading by two scores going into the fourth quarter.  Why did we blow such a lead?  Because of injuries in our secondary.  Jeremy Lane literally died in the first quarter when he intercepted Brady.  LITERALLY DIED!  Richard Sherman, I’m pretty sure, lost an arm.  He got a bionic one in the offseason though, so he’s fine now.  Kam and Earl contracted leukemia for that game, then cured it organically afterwards through their sheer badassery.  I may be misremembering things here a bit, but rest assured, the entirety of our secondary was dealing with pretty savage injuries in that game, and it reflected in our play on defense when we were trying to hold a lead against a surging Patriots offense led by the eventual MVP.

Last night, not only were our guys healthy, but Kam was making his first appearance in over a month.  And look, I like Kelcie McCray, you like Kelcie McCray, but this defense just isn’t the same with him back there.  Bam Bam is the heart & soul of this defense and this team, but don’t forget he’s also a REALLY fucking good football player!  REALLY good.  Like, I don’t know what this team looks like without Richard Sherman or Earl Thomas, and I hope I never have to know, but from what I’ve seen out of this team without Kam Chancellor back there, I’m starting to wonder if he isn’t the best player on this defense.  Not even joking.  He’s that good.  He’s that much of a difference maker out there.  There’s no other player on this defense like him, and quite frankly, there’s no other player in this LEAGUE like him.

Lots of teams (I’m really just thinking about the Falcons here, with their drafting of Keanu Neal in the first round this year; though, I’m sure every other team feels the same way) are trying to get a Kam Chancellor of their own.  But, there’s a big difference between drafting an over-sized safety who hits hard.  Granted, Kam is that, but he’s also so much more!  He’s technically sound, he’s just as good against the run as he is against the pass, he helps ensure everyone is lined up correctly and that everyone in the secondary knows their assignments, he’s instinctive, he picks up on things and acts upon them that don’t necessarily have to be said to those around him, and he’s probably the only guy in this league who can body up on Rob Gronkowski and not just hold his own, but absolutely make him his bitch.  Yeah, I should say that every team wants to have their very own Kam Chancellor, but the dude is one of a kind, and he’s ours, and you can’t God damn have him!

Which is why I’m always so flabbergasted whenever I see 12’s out there trashing him.  They write to the beat writers on Twitter, asking about trading him for draft picks or cutting him after the season’s over.  ARE YOU INSANE?  Do you just not watch the games when he’s in there?  Do you not see the difference between when he’s in there and when he’s not?  I know the hold-out left a bad taste in our mouths as fans last year, and yeah, he’s been knicked up a little bit the last couple seasons.  He plays football, it’s a violent sport, let’s try to have some understanding here.

I’ll just spell it out so everyone understands my position:  the Seahawks should not, under any circumstances, be looking to rid themselves of Kam Chancellor, now, in the offseason, or ever.  In reality, they need to keep him for the life of his contract, and when the time is right, they need to be looking to see how they can extend him and ensure he retires as a Seahawk.  Kam Chancellor is as important to this team’s ongoing success as Earl Thomas, Richard Sherman, Michael Bennett, Doug Baldwin, Bobby Wagner, and yes, even Russell Wilson.  If you’re looking to get rid of Kam, you’re doing it wrong as a fan.

As this post has gone WAY beyond the realm of decency in its word count, let’s get to the kudos now before it’s too late.

  • That hit by Earl Thomas on Gronk that knocked the wind out of him (and knocked him out of the game for a while), was one of the hardest hits I’ve ever seen.  How he caved in his chest like that on the slow-mo replay is painful just to watch.
  • My favorite play on defense goes to Kam for stripping the ball from Edelman’s hands.  I fucking hate that guy, so any time he fucks up (which led to a TD on Seattle’s subsequent drive) it’s really entertaining in my book.
  • Again, can’t say enough about Prosise.  He led the team in rushing with 66 yards on 17 carries, AND receiving with 87 yards on 7 catches.  He won’t be as featured when Rawls gets back up to speed, but like I said before, that’s quite a weapon to have out of the backfield.  Pencil us in for points on every 2-minute drill when Prosise is in the game.
  • Can’t say the same for Alex Collins, who fumbled on his only carry.  You hate to give up on draft picks too early, particularly when they were so vital in college, but he has a real Spencer Ware vibe for me.  Like a guy who’s destined to be cut next year, who will be picked up by Kansas City to be an every-down player.
  • Frank Clark had a great game, including a 1-handed sack where he grabbed a fistful of Brady jersey and yanked him to the ground while still engaged with the block from the left tackle.  Outstanding!
  • The interior of the line – Reed, McDaniel, Siliga, Rubin, and newcomer Damontre Moore – all had outstanding games!  Granted, LeGarrette Blount ran for three TDs, but those guys combined for 1 sack and 2.5 tackles for loss, as well as held the Pats to under 3 yards per carry, and were critical in stopping them at the goalline at the end of the game.
  • Finally, big ups to Tyler Lockett in the return game.  He ran his only kickoff back 32 yards, and was a big reason why they kicked the ball out of bounds on another, as they were trying to avoid him getting the ball at all costs.

Is It Possible For The Seahawks To Beat The Patriots This Weekend?

As is custom, when the schedules are released, we as fans tend to pour over them like they’re ancient sacred scrolls.  I usually like to take a look at how many primetime games the Seahawks have, followed by any 10am starts, and then I just cruise around for a while looking for anomalies.  3-game road trips, extended homestands, whether the first half or the second half looks tougher on paper.  Then, I’ll bitch about where we have our BYE week for an hour and a half and then go about my day.

I think when most of us saw 2016’s schedule, our eyes were immediately drawn to the matchup you see this weekend.  Seattle at New England, Sunday night, 5:30pm.  There are other big games on the slate, there are DEFINITELY more important games, against divisional opponents and major conference rivals.  But, Seattle at New England is special.  Obviously, because it’s the first time we’ve played one another since the Super Bowl That Shall Not Be Named, but beyond that, you’re talking about the two premiere franchises in the NFL.  The Patriots have been good forever; the Seahawks have been dominant since 2012.  Lots of teams have waxed and waned since 2012.  Most every team, from Denver, to Green Bay, to Carolina, to Pittsburgh, to Baltimore, to Indianapolis to Arizona to the entire NFC East have had up and down seasons in that short span.  Only the Seahawks and Patriots have won at least 1 game in the playoffs every year since 2012.  Any well-run franchise can make the playoffs on a down year, in a down division, but it takes consistent greatness to not only do that, but have some success in the post-season.  Obviously, the Patriots have been doing that for a lot longer than the Seahawks, but they’re the team to aspire to be.  The Seahawks have been the closest thing to a dynasty since these Patriots.  Hence, the two best-run franchises in the NFL.

Regardless of how good you thought the Seahawks would be, when these schedules were released, you probably did what a lot of us do:  you went game by game and ticked off the wins and losses.  And, I’ll bet dollars to donuts, if you’re not some deluded homer, but you ACTUALLY gave this game serious, objective consideration, you probably ticked this game off as a loss for the Seahawks.  Maybe I’m wrong!  Maybe more people have more faith in this team than I realize; or maybe I’ve just become snowblind from all the sugary praise Tom Brady and the Patriots receive from every nook and cranny of this planet.  But, I know what I’ve read from other people, and my hunch is that a lot of people thought the Seahawks would lose this game before the season even started.

And, now that we’re flippin’ 8 games in – at the exact midpoint of our season – in spite of the fact that we’re currently in the 2-seed in the NFC and a VERY respectable 5-2-1, I feel like people are giving the Seahawks even less of a chance than they were before, when hopes were at their highest and we weren’t yet constantly bombarded with injury updates from our favorite, most important players.  Certainly, Vegas gives us no shot; we’re 7.5-point underdogs, which is kinda crazy if you think about it.  If the Seahawks lose on Sunday by more than 7 points, it will only be the third time that’s happened since the start of the 2012 season.  Think about THAT!  I’m as skeptical as anyone that the Seahawks will find a way to pull this out, but if I’m a betting man, and I’m putting my money on this game, I’m ABSOLUTELY putting my money on the Seahawks to cover this spread, and there wouldn’t be a worry in my pretty little head!  Shit, if this line holds, part of me wouldn’t mind flying direct to the nearest sportsbook and putting my life’s savings on black the Seahawks to cover; easiest got-damn $77 I’ve ever made!

But, I’m here, and I’m not going anywhere, so fuck Vegas.  Let’s talk about the game and how the Seahawks can pull one out of their asses.

Now, I’ll admit, it doesn’t look good.  The O-Line hasn’t progressed at all, the running game is worse than I’ve ever seen it (maybe literally of all time, maybe since I was a little boy watching this team; this might be worse than even the Julius Jones years!), Russell Wilson is moving better, but isn’t all the way back yet, the defense has been savagely over-worked, hindering our ability to stop the run and get off the field on third down, and oh yeah, while Kam Chancellor looks like he’ll be back, Michael Bennett is still out.  It’s already tough to get a pass rush going on Tom Brady, because he’s so quick and decisive with the football; now we’re trying to do it without our very best pass rusher, the one guy who can slip through the line and make the other team’s guard/tackle look like a statue.

So, I ask again, is it even possible for the Seahawks to beat this team?

I gotta tell you, it looks grim.  The Pats are coming off a BYE to boot, so they’ve had two weeks to prepare for this game.  I don’t know about you, but I shudder at the thought of Bill Belichick having an extra week to expose our team.  I would think our talent will be enough to force a couple punts here and there, but we should probably gear up for the Pats to hit the endzone at a minimum of 3 times.  My guess is probably in the 4-5 range.  This team can score quick, so I think they’ll have no problem getting into the 30’s in this one.  And that’s with the Seahawks defense playing assignment-perfect football.

What’s going to have to happen here is a good ol’ fashioned shootout.  We were done a solid by the Pats trading away Jamie Collins a couple weeks back, as well as Chandler Jones before the season.  Obviously, it’s not a prerequisite for the other team to have dominant players to be able to get pressure on our quarterback, but it can’t be a bad thing to have those guys playing for other teams this weekend.

While I think the Seahawks might try to buck trends and get a running game going (likely without Christine Michael for the most part), I just don’t think this unit is good enough yet.  As such, I’d look for this one to be on Russell Wilson’s shoulders.

Now, fortunately, he’s looking about as good as he’s looked all year.  Buffalo was a nice warm-up game for us, and for him, but he’s going to have to go above and beyond.  I’m talking a 400-yard passing day, I’m talking about 4 TD passes, and I’m talking about a gut-churning finish like we’re all used to seeing by now.  I have a feeling this game will start out sour early, and it’s going to require a furious comeback in the second half, but in the end I think the Patriots have just enough flaws on defense – and the Seahawks just enough talent on offense – to shock the world and steal a game they have no business winning.

Either that, or the offense will never get going and we’ll lose by 20.  Sunday night has the real possibility of being horrible and embarrassing for us!  WINTER IS COMING, EVERYONE!!!  WE’RE ALL FUCKING DOOMED!!!

Would The Seahawks Have Beaten The Rams With Trevone Boykin?

Short answer:  no, probably not.

Alternate short answer:  what are you, fucking stupid?

You can go ahead and throw that question into the same pile as, “Would the Patriots consider keeping Jimmy Garoppolo as their starter beyond Tom Brady’s 4-week suspension if he plays lights out?” and “Should (insert team with extensive QB injuries here) consider signing Tim Tebow/Johnny Manziel?”  They’re non-starters.  They’re wastes of your time and brain cells.  But, they’re flashy and chock full of #HotTakey goodness that people just can’t resist having an opinion about, even if the obvious answers are, “no, probably not,” and “what are you, fucking stupid?”

But, I’ll tell you this, I bet this was on Seahawks’ fans’ minds last Sunday, as we watched Russell Wilson and this offense struggle to a whopping 3 points.  I know it crossed my mind a time or two, every time Wilson failed to scramble away from pressure, every time the pocket collapsed around him in an instant, every time the running game was completely shut down because no one was buying Wilson as a threat to tuck the ball and keep it on a zone read.

OK, so maybe it crossed my mind a little more than a time or two.

My stance on injuries has always been:  if you’re too hurt to be effective, then it’s time to let someone else have a shot while you get better.  I know everyone in that organization – and probably a good percentage of Seahawks fans – respect the hell out of Russell Wilson’s toughness to play through a high ankle sprain that would render bedridden lesser men for at least a month, if not longer.  And, I suppose I would agree with them, to a point.  But, part of me also REALLY hates the macho bullshit that comes with professional athletes.  It’s one thing if you’re Percy Harvin, and every hangnail puts you on the shelf for 8 weeks; Princess Harvin couldn’t be bothered to go out on the field if he felt even the smallest pea underneath his stack of mattresses the night before.  But, if you’re obviously too injured to function, and your being out on the field is actively hurting our chances of winning, then I’m going to resent your presence.

The tricky part here is:  would the Seahawks have been better with a 100% healthy Boykin, or a 35% healthy Wilson?

On the one hand, the Seahawks scored 3 points; could Boykin have been THAT much worse?

On the other hand, yeah, maybe!

Here’s what we know:  with Boykin in there, you’re guaranteed to see a quarterback who can legitimately run with the football.  That’s not nothing.  That’s probably the biggest (and maybe the ONLY) reason to put him in there over Wilson, particularly when you factor in how good the Rams are along the defensive line.  Our O-Line had no shot against them, so it would make sense to have Boykin out there to run around, avoid sacks, maybe rack up some yards on the ground, and generally be a thorn in that defense’s side.  With Wilson in there, we were painfully one-dimensional, and not even in a good way, because there were precious few opportunities where we could throw deep or on the run outside of the pocket.

But, with a rookie, undrafted quarterback, you take the good with the bad, and in Boykin’s case, you wonder if the bad outweighs the good.  Boykin’s more likely to be turnover prone.  Even if you scale the offensive playbook way back and stress the importance of living to fight another day, it’s reasonable to expect Boykin to be fooled by coverages and by Gregg Williams’ exotic blitzes.

The Seahawks might have scored more than 3 points with Boykin, but there’s also a non-zero chance that the Seahawks could’ve been shut out.  There’s also a better-than-good chance that the Rams would’ve turned Boykin mistakes into more than the 9 points they ended up with.

Yes, it was an embarrassing defeat that never should’ve happened, but in the end, a Russell Wilson at 35% health still had the ball, with 2 minutes left in the game, and was able to drive us pretty far into Rams territory before Christine Michael fumbled to seal our fate.  Had Michael not fumbled, we would’ve had 4th & 2 on the 27 yard line (or thereabouts) with just under a minute to go.  You give that 4th down conversion about a 50/50 chance of succeeding, which puts us inside the 25 yard line with 30-40 seconds to go in the game, needing a touchdown to win it.  I think, at that point, it’s probably 50/50 that the Seahawks get that touchdown.  Making our overall odds of winning the game in this scenario 25%.

So, I’ll ask you, first:  if you had Boykin in that same exact scenario (starting a drive with 2 minutes to go, needing a touchdown), what are the odds the Seahawks win the game?  I think, given the atmosphere, given his experience level, and given his overall talent level, our odds are considerably worse with Boykin in there.

But, now I’ll ask you this:  would the game have been even THAT close had Boykin started the game?  Would we have even had a chance to win it at the end?  I find it pretty doubtful.  Aside from potential turnovers, look at time of possession; with Wilson, we were able to keep it even with the Rams.  With Boykin, you wonder how many more 3 & Outs the Seahawks would’ve had.  Short drives (both in yards gained, and in time of possession) surely would’ve strained the defense that much more than it already was.  Maybe that strain leads to a few more breakdowns, and a few more converted third downs, and maybe a few more points for the bad guys.

And finally, just psychologically speaking, what’s the difference between a 100% healthy Boykin vs. a 35% healthy Wilson?  Wilson’s a known quantity, and a Pro Bowl calibre one at that.  The Rams have to respect his abilities, and while they knew he had the ankle issue, they also knew he never missed a practice.  They had to wonder if Wilson was trying to deke them out.  But, either way, they had to respect Wilson’s arm and his accuracy.  With Boykin in there, I think they just rear back and attack at will.  Moreover, I think their confidence goes through the roof, helping them to play that much better.  On the Seahawks’ side, you have to think our guys were pumped to have Wilson in there.  With Boykin, you wonder if other guys might have tried to do too much, resulting in more mistakes like we saw with Christine Michael at the end of the game.

I think, when you add it all up, the better call was having Wilson in there, sprained ankle and all.  In case there was still any doubt, I just farted out 1,100+ words on the topic to try to put your restless mind at ease.

No, I haven’t been sleeping well since this travesty of a game ended, why do you ask?