The Husky Basketball Team Probably Is Who We Thought It Was

Look, I was pretty wiped out last night after that Bills/Chiefs game (not because of that, but just to give you a sense of approximately when I ended up packing it in and calling it a day), and I had zero interest in watching the Huskies play the Ducks in basketball.

For starters, who schedules a college basketball game at 7pm on a Sunday night? Does Eugene even have an airport? What time are the Huskies returning to Seattle? Do they spend the night in Oregon and return during the day today? What a dumb, idiotic, stupid conference we participate in.

Anyway, I kinda figured the Huskies would lose. I had an inkling that I might record it on DVR and watch it today, but I didn’t even bother, and I’m glad I didn’t. The Huskies lost 84-56, and it wasn’t even THAT close.

My good friend sent me the halftime stats while I was sleeping, and they’re pretty appalling: we were losing 48-13, we hit only 4/27 shots (1/12 from three-point), and Oregon had a 12-0 assist advantage. On the flipside, the Ducks were hitting an unsustainable 65.5% of their shots (8/12 from three-point), but that’s just about as bad as it gets in college. The Washington Generals had better-looking halves of basketball against the Harlem Globetrotters, for Christ’s sake!

It’s not uncommon for the complementary players on this team to have a bad night collectively; we actually see it regularly-enough to know this is why the Huskies – in spite of how they can look at times – are not a capital-T Tournament team. But, what we haven’t seen until now is what the Huskies look like when the complementary players AND Terrell Brown are having a bad night in tandem. Make no mistake, even if he was on fire and playing at his best, there’s no way Brown could’ve elevated this team to victory. But, for the first time I can remember all year, Brown really laid an egg (3/16 from the floor for 14 points, with 6 turnovers). The guy’s a stud, so we’ll all forgive him a bad game. But, clearly, he’s the glue holding this team together, and without him, we’d be among the worst teams in the country.

In retrospect, this is one of those games I could’ve seen myself getting really excited about. The Huskies were on a roll, they were getting better every month, and they were just coming off of an impressive victory against the Beavers. A win on the road against the Ducks could’ve been monumental in propelling this team the rest of the way. Instead, it’s a Falling Back To Earth moment, and it won’t be the last.

I guess credit is due to the Huskies for playing hard in the second half. We didn’t just roll over and die; we beat them 43-36 over that frame. You could chock it up to a flukey first half and still make an argument that the Huskies could theoretically hang with the Ducks. That’s probably true. But, it would’ve been more encouraging for me – as a fan of this team – to see everyone else rally around Terrell Brown when he’s having an off-night, pick him up, and find a way to lead this team to an unlikely road victory. Instead, everyone came out flat and we looked like the bad version of this team from non-conference play, with lots of hero ball and zero offensive creativity.

The good news is, a new week is upon us, and we have two winnable games at home against Colorado and Utah. The even-better news for me is that the last taste in my mouth is from our victory against the Beavers, so I get to pretend our loss to the Ducks didn’t even happen!

The Husky Basketball Team Has Won Four Of Their Last Five

I’m telling you, this is a fun team to watch! I still don’t know if they’re any good – they’ve certainly got their flaws, particularly on offense – but more often than not, they’ll give you an entertaining couple of hours when they’re playing.

The problem with that is, if you lean towards the Huskies being a good basketball team, then you have to admit they’ve been playing down to the level of their opponents consistently. Last night, for instance, they were on the road playing the Oregon State Beavers. The Huskies improved to 4-2 in conference with their 82-72 victory, while the Beavs fell to 1-6. A 10-point victory on the road is nothing to sneeze at, but the game was super close throughout; it was still a 5-point game with two minutes to go, before a Husky three-pointer with 80 seconds remaining shut the door. If he would’ve missed that shot, there’s a good chance the Beavers could’ve completed the comeback.

The point is, the Beavers aren’t good. The Stanford Cardinal – who we beat at home last week – is 3-3, and we won that game by only 3 points. The Cal Bears are 2-5 (we beat them last week as well). And the Utes – who we beat on the road – are the worst team in the conference at 1-8. The team we lost to in that span – Colorado Buffaloes – are 4-3, and look to be pretty solid. We weren’t even competitive in that loss.

I don’t want to be too down on the Dawgs, because there’s a lot of good about this team. The defense has been flat-out dominant at times, and is regularly pretty good. If we had any consistent offense besides Terrell Brown (who continues to crush it at both ends of the court), we’d be among the best teams in the conference.

But, I’ll say this about the offense: it’s getting better. Little by little. Guys are starting to hit a higher percentage of 3-point shots, they’re VASTLY improved at moving without the basketball and generating assists, and they’ve always been pretty consistent at initiating fast breaks, drawing fouls, and getting to the free throw line.

It’s what you want to see. You want to see a team get better as the season goes along. As it stands now, the Huskies’ resume very definitively lacks any impressive victories that might propel them into the March Madness discussion. But, there are still enough conference games left on the schedule to make some noise. I ultimately don’t believe we’ll be good enough to go on the kind of run that would be required of us to make it to the Big Dance, but if we keep chipping away and winning the games we’re supposed to win, and finish inside the top five or six in the Pac-12, that should be good enough to get us into the N.I.T. It’s nothing spectacular, but I’ll take it after the last couple of underwhelming seasons.

Getting back to last night’s game, what a blast! Brown led the way with 27 points. Emmitt Matthews had 16, Jamal Bey had 10, P.J. Fuller had 11 off the bench. Daejon Davis had a limited scoring night, but added 7 assists, 2 steals, and a block to fill up the stat sheet. Most everyone you’d expect contributed, which is the way this team is going to succeed. They need guys to continue stepping up around the stars on this team; it HAS to be a full team effort if we’re going to win enough to get where we want to go.

The game on Sunday against Oregon will be pretty huge. Road victories are as hard as they come, but they’re going to be necessary given the hole we’re in. A 9-7 overall record is pretty sorry. But, everything is still in front of us when it comes to the Pac-12 slate. We control our destiny; that’s all you can really ask for at this point in the season.

The MLB Lockout Is Dampening Excitement For The 2022 Season

I don’t know what you’re supposed to write about when the NFL is winding down, you’ve exhausted all Seahawks post-mortem talk, and the Kraken are far worse than you would’ve expected. We’re in a real dead zone, and the MLB is doing us no favors by not getting a new collective bargaining agreement finalized.

Admittedly, I haven’t been following along very closely to all the back-and-forth between the league and the players’ union. What’s to learn? The players want more money overall and an opportunity to start earning that money earlier in their playing careers; the owners want to keep more money overall and limit some of the runaway spending we started seeing in the 1990s (that ballooned exponentially over the next couple decades before finally getting reined in a little bit with this last CBA). Beyond the money issues, there are other minor nits to pick – still tangentially related to money in some way – that will be hashed out, but they’re obviously of less import.

Then, off to the side, there’s the Major League Baseball fan. You can’t even say we’re caught in the middle, because we are of no consequence whatsoever. No matter what ends up being agreed to, ultimately we’ll be the ones footing the bill in some way, shape, or form. So, to take sides in this argument is really stupid and pointless. No one feels for the owners in this situation – though most of us do side with the teams they run – but I also have a hard time feeling too much for the players. Either they’re multi-millionaires who are set for life, because they’re superstars playing a child’s game; or they’re regular millionaires grinding out a living playing a child’s game; or they’re fringe guys eking out a living playing a child’s game. If anything, I feel for the minor leaguers who get the shaft in all of this – those players making a shitty living, playing a child’s game under much shittier conditions, who deserve to be taken care of by the organizations who exploit them and churn through them with reckless abandon – but the CBA isn’t really there to protect those guys. The CBA is for the successful, established Major Leaguers, and getting theirs while the getting’s good.

I try to mostly stay out of being informed on these issues, because they almost always get worked out eventually. Every time a CBA ends and a new one needs to be forged, there’s always consternation and lots of arguing through the media, but in the end no one wants to miss actual regular season games. That’s where the money’s made! Quibbling over a few dollars here and there isn’t worth the millions and billions potentially lost by a prolonged lockout/strike.

So, I fully expect when March 31st rolls around, we will see the full complement of MLB games taking place as scheduled. But, where things stand now, it’s looking a little dicey when it comes to getting the i’s dotted and t’s crossed by mid-February, when pitchers and catchers are supposed to report for Spring Training. Will they start Spring Training on time? I highly doubt it. Will we miss Spring Training games? Probably. But, I guaran-fucking-tee the regular season starts as planned.

Which means there will be a shitload of personnel moves that need to be made in a very tight window. On top of which, any new players signed or traded for will be arriving late to the party, and given a very narrow timeframe with which to acclimate to their new teams and prepare their bodies for the rigors of the regular season. Will that mean there’s even more early-season injuries than normal? Maybe. At the very least, I imagine game play will be more ragged and disjointed than usual for the first month or so.

Considering a team like the Mariners, I think this bodes very poorly. The M’s are a team very much in flux; a few moves have been made prior to the current lockout we’re in, but I think we all expect more moves yet to come. This very much is not the final product as it sits now. Thankfully, we’re not breaking in new leadership within management – so there’s a good amount of continuity there – but there are significant holes to fill on the Major League roster. How well will those new players acclimate to our team?

I could see the Mariners getting off to a poor start as a result, which will likely snowball into a poor season if we’re not careful. The expectations for 2022 are Playoffs Or Bust. But, last year we were a fringey team that ended up winning 90 games; a lot needed to go right for that to happen. A lot will need to go right this year as well, if we’re determined to break the post-season drought to end all post-season droughts. There’s a lot for this organization to overcome, without bringing a bad start to the regular season into the mix.

It’s just a bummer, as a fan, because this is the most excited I’ve been heading into a new season in probably two decades. Most years, when a season ends, I’m relieved, and in desperate need of a break from this team. But, as last season concluded, I couldn’t wait for 2022 to start! The 2021 Mariners were a pretty fun team to follow, and a lot of those reasons are still here for 2022 (with some new reasons for excitement joining the festivities). Delaying even just the pre-season for a couple weeks is the last thing I want. Especially coming off of two really crappy football seasons (from the Seahawks and Huskies), not to mention any of the other local sports teams, who have been underwhelming to say the least.

The Mariners are all we have to look forward to, which is a unique position for them to be in. So, it figures we have this CBA nonsense getting in the way of our good time. We are, as always, not allowed to have anything nice around here. It’s all so fucking stupid, I can’t even stand it.

The Seahawks Are In The Market For A New Defensive Coordinator

The most pressing move of this offseason – non-player edition – was the fact that the Seahawks needed to fire Ken Norton Jr. and bring in a replacement defensive coordinator who’s actually worth a damn. According to recent reports, it looks like we’re halfway there.

It’s hard to get excited at a time like this, for a couple of reasons. For starters, it’s a little ghoulish to cheer for someone getting fired. But, as a former player and a longtime coach – who should have no trouble finding another job, at the very least, as a linebackers coach (his specialty) – I don’t think Ken Norton is hurting for money. If anything, it’s probably a little embarrassing and disappointing for him to be dismissed – especially when you can argue this is his second time failing as a defensive coordinator, meaning that there probably won’t be a third opportunity in his future, nor any opportunities for promotions to head coach in the NFL one day – but as a football coach, you have to get used to the idea of moving around and changing jobs every few years. That’s just the way it works the vast majority of the time.

Knowing that Ken Norton will be fine and will land on his feet, I would say it’s also hard to get excited right now because the great unknown is: who will be his replacement?

Initial reports are pointing to Ed Donatell – the Broncos’ most recent DC under Vic Fangio – and our very own defensive line coach, Clint Hurtt. As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t understand why Hurtt is still employed here. What has he done to bolster the defensive line one iota since being hired in 2017? You’d think you’d have to master one smaller job before being promoted to overseeing the entire big job of defensive coordinator!

As for Donatell, he was infamously the DC at Washington when the Huskies went 0-12 in 2008. He has relatively extensive experience at the position – 11 years, across 4 different stops – and I remember his Denver defenses being pretty good (I’m sure a Broncos fan might tell me something different). If I had to choose between the two, I guess I’d go with Donatell.

But, the Seahawks don’t have to choose between just those two! They could have the pick of the litter if they really wanted! Why are we going after the defensive coordinator under Vic Fangio, when we could go after Vic Fangio himself?! He’s been pretty good-to-great everywhere he’s been as a DC. And he’s also pretty old school in his mindset, which would lead me to believe he and Pete Carroll would get along well enough.

The last two DCs we’ve had are Norton and Kris Richard. Norton with the Seahawks was in his second career stint as a DC (previously with the Raiders), Richard was in his first (after skyrocketing through the organization since Carroll first arrived). I would prefer the Seahawks go away from untested coordinators and bring in a salty veteran who knows what he’s doing.

It’s fair to question the roster at this point, and how much it could conceivably improve over this offseason. If you put great players out there – like we had in the L.O.B. era – you can hire pretty much anyone to be your DC and get great production. But, we’ve largely had mediocre defenses in the years post-Dan Quinn (who is not an option at this point, since he’s already a DC in Dallas). Failing that, you want a coordinator who is going to maximize the talent he does have; Richard and Norton failed to bring anything extra to the table. The fact that the Seahawks’ defenses have declined under their watch has a lot to do with the talent they had to work with, but I would contend they did even less with that talent than someone more qualified might’ve done.

Assuming we don’t immediately find all the weapons we need, then I’m saying we need a proper DC to come in here and coach the hell out of these guys.

The worry, of course, is that it’s really Pete Carroll’s defense, and whoever he hires is a caretaker at best, or a puppet at worst. Not that Pete is calling plays or anything, but he’s a heavy influence in scheme and how plays are called. That didn’t seem to prevent Gus Bradley or Dan Quinn from being wildly successful and getting hired elsewhere to be head coaches. I don’t see why someone like Fangio – or an up-and-coming successful position coach with eyes towards being a head coach one day – would want to avoid Seattle when we have a track record of success on the defensive side of the ball under Carroll.

Hell, even over the last two years – when our defenses fell on their faces to start their respective seasons – we were able to turn things around and become a respectable unit by the ends of those seasons. One would argue Pete Carroll’s experience and expertise is a huge benefit to this team on the defensive side of the ball; any DC would be lucky to work under Carroll!

The right person could make all the difference. The personnel department still needs to do their jobs and fill in where they can, but I would be greatly encouraged by a quality hire. Here’s hoping that DC isn’t among the names I’ve already seen listed on Twitter.

The Top 20 Seahawks Of 2021

The theme of this offseason – which I alluded to last Friday, but don’t think I properly answered – is: How Quick Can The Seahawks Get Back To Contending For Championships? Turning things around can be a little nebulous; if by “turning around” you mean getting back to the playoffs, as I’ve said before, we can pretty much run the same team back and hope variance takes care of everything else (on top of a second year with the same coordinator, and a little better injury luck). But, I don’t think very many of us are satisfied with “just making the playoffs”. We’ve been “just making the playoffs” pretty much the entire time Russell Wilson has been in the league! After getting a taste of back-to-back Super Bowls, I think the more hardcore fans are now rabid animals, desperate to get back no matter the cost.

The 2021 Seahawks were a collosal disappointment, no doubt about it. We started the season 3-8, it doesn’t get a whole lot worse than that. We lost to a lot of teams we had no business losing to (the Titans, the Vikings, the Steelers, the Saints, the Football Team, the Bears). Flip half of those games and we’re at 10 wins and in the playoffs. It’s not like we were TERRIBLE though. We finished 7-10 – a record we absolutely deserved – but we’re not in such bad shape that the roster MUST be completely turned over.

I have a list of 20 Seahawks from the 2021 team. I’ve split them into three categories: young rising stars, good guys who would find regular work on other teams, and the cream of the crop established superstars. So, let’s go in that order.

Young, Rising Stars

  • Jake Curhan (RT)
  • Tre Brown (CB)

Most every year, you stumble upon at least a guy or two who comes out of nowhere to really make an impact. Tre Brown was the first one this past season. As a 4th round draft pick, I didn’t expect a whole lot – if anything – from Tre Brown, as a rookie, or really throughout his career. The odds are stacked so far against you as a Day 3 draft pick. You could argue the Seahawks have had a lot of success drafting DBs late, but you could also argue we haven’t done so since 2012 (unless you’re a big Ugo Amadi fan; he’s okay, I guess, but I wouldn’t call him a rousing success). Tre Flowers, Tedric Thompson, Michael Tyson, Tye Smith, etc. are all the Day 3 busts we’ve accumulated since the L.O.B. heyday; I think we’ve proven that we’re not capable of just throwing any ol’ draft pick out there and turning them into studs.

So, yes, Tre Brown was a breath of fresh air! He was aggressive, without being reckless. He fit into the system without giving up huge cushions of yardage pre-snap. And, most importantly, he supplanted Tre Flowers once and for all, allowing us to cut him when he finally ran out of chances to make it in this defense. Which made his injury in November that much more demoralizing, because Brown looked like he’d be a 4-year starter with this team right away. Now, he’s gotta recover from knee surgery, and who knows how long it’ll be until he returns to form, if ever? I’m still holding out hope, though not for a 2022 return.

Jake Curhan, on the other hand, looks like he’s here to stay. He was an undrafted rookie in 2021 who slipped in the draft due to medicals. Those medicals don’t project to be as serious as once thought, and it appears he’ll be able to have a long and fruitful NFL career. He was able to slide into the right tackle spot when Brandon Shell went down with injury, and he really impressed! His pass protection isn’t quite there yet, but it’s not as dire from a tackle as it is with a guard; Russ was able to work with it and get away from a lot of the pressure coming from that side. Curhan’s run blocking proved to be top notch though, so at least he does SOMETHING well! That’s more than we could say for the revolving door that’s been the right tackle spot since Breno Giacomini manned the position. Making it through his rookie season injury-free gives me even more hope as we head into 2022, when he’ll project to take a step forward in his development.

Better Than Replacement-Level Players

  • Gerald Everett (TE) *
  • Damien Lewis (G)
  • Alton Robinson (DE)
  • Poona Ford (DT)
  • Al Woods (DT) *
  • Carlos Dunlap (DE)
  • Bobby Wagner (LB)
  • Sidney Jones (CB) *
  • D.J. Reed (CB) *
  • Rasheem Green (DE) *

I didn’t put these in any particular order, but if I’m being honest, D.J. Reed was the one I was most on the fence about; he might be an elite player, I’d just like to see more than 2 interceptions a year out of an elite corner.

These are all guys who aren’t quite studs, but if we cut them (or they’re free agents, which is what the * represents), I would expect all of these guys to find jobs on other teams. Anyone I didn’t list here, or in the upcoming elite category, are guys who may or may not find work elsewhere, but don’t have a ton of value to an NFL team outside of depth.

These guys, however, are productive enough, but I could probably take ’em or leave ’em. They all have flaws. Everett is a weird headcase who cost us too many yards in stupid fucking penalties (not to mention all the drops). Lewis has run into a string of injuries and doesn’t feel quite as irreplaceable as he was as a promising rookie. Robinson just didn’t take that next step in his second year, finishing with a disappointing number of sacks. Poona and Woods are run-stuffing tackles, there’s a ceiling for what those guys are (and it’s in this category). Dunlap has only showed up for half-a-season in each of his two years here. Wagner’s just flat out lost a step and doesn’t make the same number of impact plays as he did as a young buck. Jones and Reed need to generate more turnovers. And Green is taking his sweet-ass time to really bust out as a force in this league.

Elite Seahawks Studs

  • Russell Wilson (QB)
  • Rashaad Penny (RB) *
  • D.K. Metcalf (WR)
  • Tyler Lockett (WR)
  • Darrell Taylor (LB/DE)
  • Jordyn Brooks (LB)
  • Jamal Adams (S)
  • Quandre Diggs (S) *

Again, no particular order, but Brooks is the one I was most on the fence about. He might just be another guy. But, he led the team in tackles in his second season (his first as a starter), and all the smart football wonks have been praising his play since he started getting in there. There haven’t been a ton of impact plays, but he’s making all the regular ones, and he’s another guy who should continue to improve over the next year or two.

Diggs and Penny both feel like guys who need to be re-signed. It’s tantalizing to envision a scenario where Penny can stay healthy and dominate the league (I’ll be FASCINATED to see where he goes on fantasy football draft boards heading into next year).

Seeing the offensive players on this list, it’s all the more frustrating that we weren’t able to move the football and score as much as we’d like. So many NFL teams would KILL for the type of talent we have at the skill positions. Let’s hope – if things do carry over into 2022 – that it was just an adjustment period to the new offensive coordinator, and we’re now over the hump.

As for the defense, those were some nice players for us (particularly encouraging to see Taylor here, considering this was his first full year, after being injured his entire rookie season), but in order for Taylor to remain on this list, he’s going to have to really turn it up in 2022, and be a kind of Von Miller-like talent off the edge. The Seahawks have been in dire need of that kind of pass rushing monster for years now; if they don’t get it this offseason, then I’d expect more of the same middling finishes for years to come.

We’re not bereft of talent, but obviously you’d like to see more than 8 players in that elite category. I don’t know what it’s going to take to get there, but that feels like a tall ask to do in one offseason.

Seahawks Death Week: How Close Are We To A Turnaround?

Yesterday, we talked about all the pending cuts and free agents who might walk. Now, let’s see what needs to be done to right the ship.

It would be the peak of unsatisfying insanity if the Seahawks chalked up 2021 to an injured Russell Wilson fluke and tried to run back the exact same roster (more or less; it’ll never be 100% retention), in hopes of returning to our 2020 level of success. As we saw – in 2020 – that level of success was still underwhelming, in spite of the division title. Knowing how much money the Seahawks have in salary cap room heading into 2022, it’s conceivable that we could keep all the guys under contract now, while using that money to bring back Quandre Diggs, Duane Brown, D.J. Reed, Sidney Jones, Rasheem Green, Al Woods, Gerald Everett, Rashaad Penny, Ethan Pocic, and Will Dissly. But, what’s that going to get us? The ceiling is 2020, the floor is 2021 (or worse, if Wilson leaves and we’re stuck with a replacement-level quarterback).

But that is, technically, one option. Run it back for a third year in a row, and see if we can luck our way in one-score games into another divisional title. That option has the possibility of a turnaround from 2021, though that seems unlikely to me. Both that it happens at all, and that it leads to improvement. Stagnancy begets stagnancy.

As you’ll recall, the Seahawks punted the 2021 NFL Draft, making only three selections, by far the fewest in the Pete Carroll/John Schnedier Era, and easily the fewest in franchise history. This had everything to do with trading away so many of those draft picks for veteran players. We’re in a similar boat in 2022 – most aggravatingly missing our 10th overall pick in the first round – but we do have six picks on the books so far. Our first pick is the 10th overall in the second round, which SHOULD net us a player who can contribute right away, but we’ll see (regardless, he probably won’t be a high impact player as a rookie, if ever).

The point is, in spite of our poor 2021 performance, I wouldn’t expect a ton of help to come from the 2022 draft. Figure it’ll be more depth pieces to throw onto the pile we already have.

I suppose trades are a possibility, but if we’re not talking about trading Russell Wilson, I don’t see where we have anything anyone else would want. So help me if we continue trading future first round picks, banking on being good again next season.

There simply has to be a hugely impactful free agent or two that comes in, if we want to turn this thing around.

Priority #1 – Left Tackle

I won’t take Duane Brown or Stone Forsythe for an answer. We squeezed all we could out of Brown this late into his career, but it would be damn near criminal to keep bringing him back on one-year contracts without a viable backup plan in place. But, we also can’t count on the 2021 rookie to step in there, when he looked pretty bad in the limited duty he got this past season (and was already a pretty low-rated draft pick). There has to be someone on the free agent market that we can bring in on a long-term deal. I don’t know who it is, but I know he’s out there. Find him.

Priority #2 – Draft A Middle Linebacker

Get the top guy available at Pick 42, bingo bango bongo. Ideally, he’s someone fast and smart that you can pair with Jordyn Brooks and let them both go off for the next however many years (similarly to how K.J. Wright and Bobby Wagner were once the two young studs in the middle). If the rookie needs some time, then by all means, go with Cody Barton for a few games until the rookie gets his feet wet. But, this needs to be the move 100%, with Bobby Wagner’s salary going elsewhere.

Priority #3 – Pass Rush

Either sign one guy at near top of the market prices, or sign two guys for mid-level money, but either way we need to stop dumpster diving this critical part of the team. Then, we can base our cuts around the guys we bring in (Benson Mayowa can probably go, hopefully we can find someone younger and better to also replace Carlos Dunlap, since he’s incapable of giving us a full season’s worth of production).

Priority #4 – Secondary

IF the Seahawks cut Wagner and bring in a rookie middle linebacker to take over, then I think I’m comfortable using that money to extend Quandre Diggs. There might also be some semblance of a discount at play given his leg injury, though I kind of doubt it. The more you read about Diggs, the more it seems like he’s truly indispensable to this team with his play and leadership. I would also throw money at both D.J. Reed and Sidney Jones; let’s run the entire secondary back! I liked Tre Brown as much as the next guy, but we don’t know how he’s going to recover from his injury. 2022 might be a lost year for him. It would be nice to have Reed on a long-term deal and Jones on a shorter-term deal to carry us over.

Priority #5 – Draft A Running Back

I would make this the third round pick (ideally) or one of the fourth rounders. There will still be quality running backs at that level. This will be our Chris Carson replacement. I’m going into this year assuming we’ll find a way to bring Rashaad Penny back (because his final five games of 2021 were too enticing to just let walk for nothing), but it would be idiotic to expect him to all of a sudden be an every-down, every-game running back. I want a rookie with a higher ceiling than either Homer or Dallas. He doesn’t necessarily have to be the best blocker in college, nor does he have to be a return man of some sort. He just needs to have incredible running back skills, vision, ability to hit the hole and make cuts, break tackles, all of it. Let him develop into a pass catcher or a blocker when he gets into the NFL. Ideally, Penny will continue to be amazing and we won’t need the rookie. But, if and when Penny gets injured, throw the rookie in there, because hopefully by that point he’s had a chance to learn and grow from the bench.

Priority #6 – Draft A Tight End

Make this one of the fourth rounders. I’m assuming the Seahawks make a play on bringing back Will Dissly for a few more years, and making Colby Parkinson more of an offensive priority. He was starting to see more action towards the end of the season, especially down around the red zone; I think his role will only continue to grow given his size. With Dissly back, we can afford to go grab another offensive weapon in the fourth round, to make this room entirely young and homegrown.

Priority #7 – Extend D.K. Metcalf

The Seahawks are at a crossroads here. If Wilson forces his way out, then I think the Seahawks would be dumb to not trade Metcalf when his value is at its highest (he still has one year left on his rookie deal; after that, he’ll be too costly to be valuable). But, if Wilson stays, then I think we have to extend Metcalf now, both to keep him happy and to keep his next contract relatively cost-contained. We don’t want to play the Franchise Tag game with him.

Priority #8 – Bring In A Rookie Kicker

I’m not saying draft one, but definitely bring in a college guy – maybe one of those studs from the Alabama/Georgia game – as an undrafted rookie to compete with Jason Myers. Myers is on the final year of his deal in 2022. I don’t know if cutting him is the answer; he was so good in 2020, I’m more inclined to think his struggles in 2021 were just random kicker variance. But, you also shouldn’t take any chances that I’m correct on this issue. Bring in someone to compete; we’ll get to see how Myers handles that kind of adversity. Either the rookie struggles and we keep Myers anyway (the likeliest scenario, unless we’re really up against it with the salary cap and need to save $4 million), or the rookie is good but Myers is better (and we find a way to keep the rookie on the practice squad until a time comes when we can no longer trust Myers), or the rookie out-performs Myers and it’s win-win when we cut Myers before the regular season starts.

Priority #9 – Center

I don’t know if this is done through the draft or free agency, or by converting one of the guards we’ve got on our roster now, but I think this needs to happen. Maybe, if it’s a rookie, we sign Pocic to a one-year deal and let the rookie learn. Or, maybe we go with a veteran and stop fucking around for once. But, I’d like some real beef at center, to help us keep our quarterback upright.

Priority #10 – Bring Back Al Woods

I’ll be honest, I loved everything the defensive tackle room did this year, but especially Al Woods being a huge presence in the middle. That dude deserves some stability; give him a 2-year deal and let’s fucking go!

Seahawks Death Week: Who Might Be Leaving In 2022?

Around this time of year, I like to peruse Spotrac to see what the salary cap looks like for the next season. Take the accuracy with a grain of salt, of course; football wonks tend to prefer other sources for their salary cap info. Kill me, I like Spotrac.

Heading into 2022, they say we have around $53 million to play around with, minus money to be held onto for additional dead cap, practice squad, IR replacements, etc. I don’t want to get in the weeds here; $53 million sounds pretty good to me for a team that could also save over $16 million by cutting Bobby Wagner, and another $11 million if Russell Wilson forces a trade.

Those are, obviously, the two biggest questions heading into this offseason. Much has been made of Wilson and his will he/won’t he demand a trade; sadly, we’re going to be talking about this all damn year. And, if he happens to stay, then we’re going to be talking about him all damn year NEXT year when it comes to another contract extension. Ye gods. But, Bobby is much more interesting to me. I don’t think there’s any question that he’s lost a step compared to his peak. He makes fewer real impact plays, but he’s as smart and steady as they come, and the unquestioned leader on this defense (if not the entire team). It’s not that he’s bad, it’s just that he’s drastically overpaid. You could find a replacement in the draft, or on the scrap heap, and get at least 80% of his production for pennies on the Wagner Dollar. That’s almost certainly money that could be better used elsewhere on the defense.

For the life of me, I can’t see this organization cutting him cold turkey, not with Pete and John in the spots they’re in. Assuming they stay, I think Bobby stays. Now, it’s more likely the team comes to him and works out another extension at a lower overall value – knowing that he’s not going to get anything NEAR what he’s making now on the open market – in hopes that he’ll retire a Seahawk, but that puts the ball in his court: will he take a reasonable cut in salary (and still probably be overpaid to some degree) or will he walk and try to find more money elsewhere?

I’ll be very VERY disappointed if he’s still a $20+ million cap hit in 2022, let’s put it that way.

Moving on, there are some big Seahawks names who were on the final year of their deals in 2021! The biggest being Duane Brown and Quandre Diggs. I’m pretty happy to see us get out from under Duane Brown at this point. I suppose it’s possible he re-signs after testing the market and finding it lacking, but at some point we have to think about his replacement. Maybe there’s a better free agent ready to hit the market we could bring in on a long-term deal! Considering we have no first round draft pick, that seems to be our best hope for 2022 and beyond. As for Diggs, I’ve talked about him a lot this year: he’s one of the best free safeties in football and he’s going to want to be paid as such (even with his current injury; he should make a full recovery no problem). Considering we have Adams at one of the highest numbers for a safety as well, to bring him back would mean pouring a crazy amount of money into the safety position. Seems like bad team-building.

More offensive players who could be moving on include Ethan Pocic, Gerald Everett, Brandon Shell, and Rashaad Penny. All of them are fine, but I don’t think any of them would be missed. There should be better center options available, who won’t be injured all the time like Pocic. Everett was good this year, but is he worth $6+ million? I dunno. I think we’ve already found our replacement for Shell in Jake Curhan, so no big loss there. And, as mentioned before, I’d be okay with Penny returning on an incentive-laden deal, but we also need to bring in running backs who will stay reasonably healthy!

On the defensive side, D.J. Reed and Sidney Jones were both quality cornerbacks for us. Certainly leaps and bounds better than Tre Flowers, even if they’re not bona fide superstars. Without them, the only cornerbacks of note on the roster in 2022 are Ugo Amadi (a nickel guy) and Tre Brown (who suffered a serious, season-ending injury as a rookie this year). Reed is the priority over Jones, but I wouldn’t mind having both of them return (that, again, becomes more difficult if you’re paying Diggs and Adams top-of-the-market safety money).

Along the D-Line, we’re looking at losing Rasheem Green and Al Woods. There’s also the question of keeping guys like Carlos Dunlap, Benson Mayowa, Kerry Hyder, and L.J. Collier (who will all be free agents after the 2022 season, but could all be cut for salary cap relief beforehand). You even have to worry about Poona Ford (also a free agent after 2022), since his cap hit is so high; remember the team tried to re-work Jarran Reed’s deal before cutting him when he refused. The only linemen who feel even remotely safe for 2022 are Darrell Taylor (technically a linebacker/defensive end hybrid), Alton Robinson, and Bryan Mone (a restricted free agent who almost certainly will be retained). I can’t envision a scenario where the Seahawks totally and completely clean house, so I have to believe some of the guys on the final years of their deal in 2022 will stick around, at least to compete in Training Camp. I also believe they’d love to bring back Woods on another 1-2 year deal, since he was such a force in 2021. Green is a big question mark, but he’s still pretty young and you’d like to believe he could be had at a reasonable cost. It might be nice to give him another year or two and see if he can put it all together; at the very least, it should be a low-risk gamble.

Some miscellaneous pending free agents include Will Dissly, Alex Collins, Jamarco Jones, and Geno Smith. I don’t know if any of them will be missed, though I have to believe Dissly will be something of a priority, considering he does so much blocking for us (and therefore, between that and his injury history, should be a relatively cheap re-sign).

The only other significant player I see still under contract for 2022 that could possibly be cut is Chris Carson. Given the fact that he needed season-ending neck surgery this year, it seems unlikely that he’ll ever play meaningful football again. I know they talked about it possibly not being career-ending, but let’s be real: he’s one bad hit away from it all being over. I don’t see any responsible way we can bring him back, especially if we opt to re-sign Penny as well. One of those two guys has to go, and in their place, we need to draft a running back of the future. Someone who’s tougher than DeeJay Dallas, but faster and more explosive than Travis Homer (neither of whom – without significant physique changes – are considered to be every-down backs). At this point, even though we don’t save a ton of money cutting Carson, I’d still choose Penny over him (although, the smartest move might be to let both of them go and just hand the keys over to an up-and-coming rookie).

What we’re looking at, of course, is a lot of holes on this roster to fill, with potentially even more on the horizon than we anticipated (not counting the possible loss of Carroll or Schneider). So, tomorrow, let’s look at those holes, and how close we are to a potential turnaround.

Seahawks Death Week: Talking About The Elephants In The Room

Russell Wilson, Pete Carroll, and John Schneider are those elephants. Jody Allen & Co. have some decisions to make. As I see it, the options are as follows:

  • Keep Everybody
  • Keep Pete Carroll and John Schneider, Trade Russell Wilson
  • Keep Pete and Russ, Fire John
  • Keep John and Russ, Fire Pete
  • Keep Russell Wilson, Fire Pete Carroll and John Schneider
  • Keep John Schneider, Fire Pete Carroll, Trade Russell Wilson
  • Keep Pete Carroll, Fire John Schneider, Trade Russell Wilson
  • Trade/Fire Everybody

Does that look right? It’s absurd how long it took me to figure out that 3-way quagmire. Anyway, one of those eight scenarios is bound to happen.

The likeliest three – in some order – are “Keep Everybody”, “Keep Pete & John (trade Russ)”, or “Keep Russ (fire Pete & John)”. The virtual lock that absolutely won’t happen is that everybody is gone.

Considering the news over the last couple days – and the fact that no change has been made as of yet – I’d say Pete and John are here to stay. I suppose – since we don’t have a traditional ownership set-up – they could be taking their time and might wait a little bit before making a move, but that seems like a disasterous scenario to me (considering all the teams who did their shit-canning on Black Monday would have a head start on us by now). It makes sense though, from a financial perspective. Pete and John were just extended to big money deals through the 2025 season (Pete) and 2027 draft (John); that’s fully guaranteed money. I know, in the grand scheme of things, a billionaire owner wouldn’t flinch at throwing away that kind of money if they felt it was necessary to make a move, but I would also argue the recency of these signings indicates they’re all on the same page with how this team should be run.

As for Russell Wilson, that’s anyone’s guess.

Do you put more stock in the rosy feeling of the Seahawks dominating their final two regular season games (and winning 4 of 6 overall)? Or, do you put more stock in Russell Wilson’s media campaign following the 2020 season, and how he nudge-nudge, wink-wink, wouldn’t mind being traded to a certain four teams? Everyone’s careful to state it wasn’t a trade demand, but following a 7-10 season, maybe whatever it was turns into one now.

Predicting this feels like a coin flip. I’m leaning towards Russell Wilson wanting out. I think there’s a lot of evidence to back it up. I would say, for starters, professional athletes (and coaches, and front office people, and just about everyone else) are notorious liars. So, when Wilson talks about wanting to be in Seattle, I’d put a big ol’ Maury Povich meme up next to that.

Wilson obviously wants to be in an offense that caters to his need to be the best quarterback in football. He wants everything to run through him, he wants to pass the ball significantly more than he hands it off. He wants an MVP award. He wants to be the main reason (by leaps and bounds) why his team wins football games. And he wants to win multiple Super Bowls. Ultimately, he wants to be a Hall of Famer. Because, again, he wants to go down as the best to ever play the position (or, failing that, the best after Tom Brady).

Yet, whenever Russell Wilson has tried to bite off more than he can chew in Seattle, he’s almost always struggled. The last two years of this Let Russ Cook nonsense is a prime example. It’s not ALL his fault, because obviously there’s a tug o’ war going on with Pete Carroll, who does stick his nose in and limits his rampant passing whenever the offense struggles and/or turns the ball over too much. It’s also not his fault that this offensive line largely struggles in pass protection (specifically for someone like Wilson, who likes to move around a lot and will run himself into opposing linemen; it’s hard to know where Wilson will be at any given moment as a play breaks down). It’s also not his fault that we continue to waste time with inferior linemen in general, when there are better options available (why it took so long for Phil Haynes to get an opportunity is anybody’s guess; why Pocic sat for so long after he returned from his injury is, again, a mystery).

But, I think we’ve also seen enough from Wilson to know where he’s limited, and where he’s sabotaging things. He’s not good at the intermediate passing game. He’s not smart about checking down when the deep pass isn’t there. He too often tries to twirl out of trouble or run backwards, exacerbating sacks that don’t need to be so devastating. He’s, frankly, not a good third down quarterback. And he chooses not to run as often as he should, to keep defenses honest; even if he’s lost a step, he’s still capable of running when he wants to.

Then there are, of course, all the non-football reasons why Wilson might want to leave. Seattle is a middling media market. Ciara is an international music star. Russ wants to be a Business, man. I think they would prefer he play for a team in New York, L.A., Miami, Chicago, Dallas, D.C., or Vegas. For football reasons, throw New Orleans, Atlanta, Indy, Denver, Cleveland, or Minnesota into the mix. There’s lots of options, any number of them would be more attractive for someone looking for a change of scenery than Seattle.

If we assume Pete and John are here to stay for the foreseeable future, then Russ has to decide if this is the place he wants to be. And, if he chooses to stay, then he needs to buy in 100% to the way this offense needs to be operated. We need to rely on our running game to bring the defense closer to the line of scrimmage; it’s the best way for Wilson to take advantage of what he does best: exploiting the defense over the top for explosive chunk gains.

Meanwhile, John needs to shore up talent along the offensive line, and have a better plan when it comes to bringing in quality running backs. And Pete and his coaching staff need to determine who the best players are earlier in the season, so we don’t keep blowing games early.

But, as I said before, gun to my head, I think Russ forces a trade. Now, is that something I want?

It’s hard. I know I’ve talked about how I’ve soured on Wilson after last year’s media blitz, but I’ve seen how this team can perform at its best. When everyone is on the same page, and everything is clicking, the Seahawks’ offense can do some real damage. And I do NOT believe Wilson has fallen off a cliff. Sure, he’s on the downside of his career, but he’s still close enough to his peak to easily be a Top 10 quarterback in this league, with a shot at being a Top 5 guy if everything goes according to plan. I still believe he’s destined to be a Hall of Famer; even the best all-time QBs have had down years during their careers.

Beating the Lions and Cardinals the way they did to close out the season shows me this team’s potential. That’s the closest I’ve seen to our late-2012 run since it happened. Sure, we’ve ended seasons on fire before, but not imposing our will the way we did in those two games. Again, the last 50-point game we put up was in 2012; that’s extremely difficult to do in the NFL!

But, do I want to be sucked in by our most recent two performances, one of which happened against one of the two worst teams in football (ignoring all the games that came before it, both this season and some of the more infuriating games we’ve bungled over the last half-decade)? Do I ultimately believe that this is a team – with Russell Wilson at the helm – that won’t just contend for playoff spots, but win a motherfucking championship?

Not really.

I think we, as Seahawks fans, have to face up to some hard truths. One of which is: Russell Wilson absolutely needs a quality running game and defense to win championships. Simply having “Russell Wilson: Top 5 Quarterback” isn’t sufficient. He’s good enough to make up for a lot of illnesses across this roster, but he’s only one man. Without proper support in those two key areas, all is lost.

I don’t believe those Seahawks teams from 2012-2015 would’ve been nearly as dominant without Russell Wilson; I certainly don’t think they would’ve made the Super Bowl in back-to-back years with someone like Andy Dalton (or some other replacement-level quarterback). That being said, it’s clear why those teams were so successful: the defense and Marshawn Lynch.

The defense, more or less since 2015, has declined severely as the key guys from that Legion of Boom era have all retired, gotten older/slower, or moved on to other teams. We’ve been massively unsuccessful in replacing those guys through the draft, trades, or free agency. And, as our coaching staff kept getting poached of its best and brightest, we’re left with mediocre leadership who continue to fail to get the most out of their players.

Meanwhile, we’ve tried countless times to find the successor to Marshawn Lynch. Most have been mediocre. Chris Carson was a worthy follow up, but he’s been too injured too often to come close to living up. Beastmode has so many elite and wonderful qualities – from his rough-house style of play, to his infectious personality – but one of the more underrated aspects to his greatness was his availability. He showed up, game-in and game-out.

Just go back and look at those seasons, particularly our Super Bowl runs of 2013 and 2014. Look at how many games where our offense struggled for long stretches and needed the defense to keep us in them, until Wilson led the offense to a late-game victory. Or, those games where the offense got us a lead, and the defense had to hold on to secure it. Now, start thinking about all of those games we haven’t won since 2016. Think about how the defense has struggled. Think about how we’ve needed the offense to be the one to carry this team, and how often they’ve failed in key moments.

The thing is, it’s not one or the other. You need the running game and the defense, but you DO need the quarterback as well. However, there’s only so much money to go around. And there’s only so much a GM can do when you’re drafting so low in the first round most years (that is, when you’re not trading away those picks to try to find elite talent in other ways, since there’s rarely elite talent falling into the 20’s of the NFL draft). Can the Seahawks build that defense when they’re paying Russell Wilson so much money? It’s possible, but it’s very difficult. Can a defense that’s not-quite-elite still win us a title with Wilson at quarterback? It’s possible, but it requires buy-in from the quarterback himself. And, even then, it’s going to need a running game like we saw from Rashaad Penny the last month of the season.

My main line of thinking is that I don’t believe Russell Wilson will ever get with the program. Even if he makes the commitment to stay and buys in to a more balanced philosophy that features more rushing than he’d like, he is who he is. He’s still going to struggle in the intermediate game, finding check-downs, converting third downs, and knowing when he himself needs to run with the football. I also don’t believe we’re ever going to find someone as durable as Marshawn Lynch, and so our running game will continue to be a revolving door from week to week. Finally, I don’t believe this defense – with Ken Norton & Co. in charge – is capable of being consistent enough to sustain even a Top 15 level of production.

At this point, I think it’s probably best for all involved for Wilson to demand a trade. The Seahawks need an infusion of draft picks. They need to bring in a new, young QB while we still have the culture in place to surround him with quality players in order to turn him into a winner. And, they need to use any and all resources – with that quarterback on his rookie deal – to bolster the defense like they did heading into 2013, so that we can take advantage in that brief window where the quarterback isn’t earning an untenable percentage of the overall salary cap.

If it doesn’t happen, and Wilson opts to stick around, I won’t be up in arms or anything. But, I’ll go into every season from here on out knowing there’s a ceiling to the Seahawks’ success, that being the Divisional Round of the playoffs and no further. Until they prove me wrong, that’s what we have to look forward to. And, instead of getting a jumpstart on a rebuild – while there’s enough of a core in place to possibly right the ship in a hurry – we’ll just kick this can down the road another few years, until Pete Carroll has to retire in disgrace, John Schneider returns to Green Bay, and Russell Wilson is wearing another jersey anyway.

Seahawks Death Week: Non-Russell Wilson Reasons The Seahawks Declined In 2021

The Seahawks had five fewer wins in 2021 than in 2020. Last year, we were 12-4 divisional champs; this year, we’re 7-10 divisional basement dwellers. Yesterday – and really, all season – we discussed the Russell Wilson of it all, how his injury and subsequent struggles probably cost us a minimum of three games this season. Flip from 7-10 to 10-7 and this is a wild card team. That doesn’t do much for me, of course, because a 10-7 Seahawks team would probably still lose in the first round (it would certainly lose in round two, otherwise, especially if we had to play in Green Bay), but you’re painting the whole situation with a different brush if that’s the case. If this is just another in a long line of disappointing playoff teams who fail to win a championship, that still looks better than a possibly-dysfunctional team with a losing record who traded away its 10th overall pick to the Jets.

Anyway, as much as I’d like to talk about how Wilson’s performance drove me crazy this year, I’m dedicated to writing about other reasons the Seahawks faltered as well. We’ll see how it goes (so far, it’s going very poorly).

I think a big reason for this season’s decline has to do with the pass rush, which I wrote about last week. That was, of course, written after only 16 of 17 games had been played (you know, like a normal NFL season, before greed forced this additional week on us); at that point, the Seahawks ranked 28th in the NFL with 29 sacks. So, what happened? Well, the Seahawks kicked some ass down in Arizona, racked up 5 additional sacks, and improved their ranking all the way to 22nd in the NFL. Which still isn’t great, but looks a lot better than 28th. Oh what a difference a week can make.

No one stands out more than Carlos Dunlap as far as how an outlook of a season can change in just a few weeks. He had 0.5 sacks heading into December. Then, he had 8 in the final six games to end with 8.5. The way it was looking, Dunlap was the bust of the century; now he looks like the same beast we had on the team last year!

In my post last week, I talked about how Dunlap and Rasheem Green were leading the way with 6.5 sacks. Now, Dunlap is our 2021 team leader with 8.5, Green still has 6.5, but Darrell Taylor also added half a sack to get to 6.5. Everything looks remarkably better with one outstanding performance. Poona Ford added 1.5 sacks to get up to 2 on the season, and Kerry Hyder added a sack to salvage SOMETHING (ending the year with 1.5 sacks).

I would still say pass rush is the biggest concern heading into the 2022 season, as it was one of the biggest drop-offs from the 2020 season. Other than that, though, the defense was roughly the same. In 2020, we gave up 380.6 yards per game; in 2021 it was 379.1 (both figures among the worst in football). Our pass defense improved by roughly 20 yards per game (which passes the eye test, as the secondary appeared to be better than it was in 2020), while our rush defense declined by roughly the same amount (also seeming to pass the eye test, as it was a problem at times all year). We gave up almost 2 fewer points per game in 2021, which is impressive given our injuries and the extra game we played. All in all, the defense was probably better than it had any right to be in 2021, especially given how poor the pass rush played until very late in the season.

The offense, however was atrocious in 2021 compared to 2020. We generated 323.9 yards per game, compared to 369.5 yards last year. Passing yards per game declined (201.9 vs. 246.3), and our rushing yards per game was roughly the same (122.0 this year vs. 123.2 last year), but a lot of that had to do with Rashaad Penny’s bust out in the final few weeks of the season. That translated to a drastic reduction in points per game (23.2 vs. 28.7); just a miserable offensive year.

It’s particularly aggravating to try to analyze, because if you take the eye test out of it, Russell Wilson’s numbers largely align between 2020 and 2021.

  • Completion Percentage: 2020 – 68.8%, 2021 – 64.8%
  • Yards Per Attempt: 2020 – 7.5, 2021 – 7.8
  • Passer Rating: 2020 – 105.1, 2021 – 103.1

Even while his touchdown percentage declined, his interception percentage improved. There’s a lot about his 2021 season that, at least, compared favorably to his career norms. It’s not like Wilson suddenly fell off a cliff. You can always point to his declining rushing production – he had a career-low 3.1 rush attempts per game, after averaging over 2 more per game last year – but that was always to be expected as he got older.

I would say, in general, both years were failures from a running game perspective. Chris Carson led the Seahawks in 2020 with 681 yards; Penny led the Seahawks in 2021 with 749. But, neither player put up anywhere near a full season; if they had, we’d be talking about the Seahawks’ offense in much more glowing terms.

The Seahawks, in both years, struggled to find a third receiver who stood out. What was alarming about 2021 is how D.K. Metcalf’s production declined: 83 catches for 1,303 yards in 2020; 75 for 967 in 2021. There’s some combination of his foot injury and Wilson’s inaccuracy at play there.

What we can’t discount is the change in offensive coordinators. For as much as we all hoped – with the established stars on this roster – that there wouldn’t be a drop-off in production as a new scheme and play-caller were installed, I think that was probably inevitable. Time will tell – and probably very soon – whether or not Shane Waldron is the right guy for the job, especially in how he calls plays. But, I don’t think you can render final judgment after one season. It’s unfortunate, though, because we’ve seen guys step in and see immediate improvement in other situations.

There’s also the bad luck factor at play (or regression to the mean, depending on your sports beliefs). The 2020 Seahawks were 8-3 in one-score games; the 2021 Seahawks were 3-5 in those games. These are games where we held our fate in our hands, and failed to rise to the occasion. You pay a quarterback like Russell Wilson big money to pull these games out. I don’t know if he managed to succeed in any of these that we won, so much as maybe the defense perhaps held on in the end a few times.

If there’s one area the Seahawks will need to find a way to improve – if everything else ends up staying the same – it’s the offensive line. I think we’ve stumbled upon our right tackle of the future, but we need to find a better left tackle, as Duane Brown was really starting to show his age at times this season. Also, it wouldn’t hurt to find a stud center to finally lock that part down. Who knows if any of it will matter, though, as long as Russell Wilson keeps doing Russell Wilson things (which used to be amazing, but now has grown seriously infuriating).

So, what’s the TL;DR? I think Russell Wilson’s poor play – inaccurate, lack of clutchness, lack of ability to convert third downs, lack of willingness to take the plays opposing defenses gave him – deserves a healthy chunk of the blame. I think the O-Line not improving one iota is partly to blame. I think gross incompetence in the running game until the final few weeks of the season has a lot to do with it (and the front office re-signing an injury-prone Carson goes to the top of that particular list). The pass rush shares in the burden, as do the defensive coaches in general, who for the second year in a row failed to have this team prepared in the first half of the season, as we stumbled to a historically-inept start yet again.

Some of these we should have seen coming and corrected ahead of time. Others – like Wilson and the pass rush – totally blindsided us. But, no, Russell Wilson wasn’t the only reason why the 2021 Seahawks failed to live up to what the 2020 version achieved. But, he was the highest-profile and most disgruntled reason why they did.

I’ll be honest, his media antics following the 2020 season soured Wilson on me maybe forever. I’ll always appreciate what he did for this organization, but now I think he’s a joke and that it’s time to move on. More on this tomorrow, as we start to look toward the future.

Seahawks Death Week: What Would 2021 Have Looked Like If Russell Wilson Never Got Injured?

There’s an argument to be made that after finishing with a losing record for the first time in the Russell Wilson era, the Seahawks need to be blown up to some degree. I think that’s where we’re headed, and I think most people are in agreement that it should be where we’re headed. But, there’s a nagging thought that 2021 was just a fluke. Russell Wilson mangled the middle finger of his throwing hand, which took him out in the middle of one game, cost him all of three more, and arguably affected him quite seriously in his first three games back following surgery. What would this season have looked like if he’d never injured the finger in the first place?

Well, for starters, in this alternate universe, that would’ve meant the Seahawks had an offensive line that was worth a damn, and was capable of keeping Aaron Donald away from our star quarterback; so right there you can tell it’s a total fantasy. Also, we know that Wilson at full health – through the first four games of the season – led the Seahawks to a 2-2 record. In the Rams game, we had a 7-3 lead at halftime, but trailed 16-7 heading into the fourth quarter. In that fateful third quarter is when Wilson got injured, but up until that point, the offense had done next to nothing productive (really outside of one touchdown drive in the second quarter, aided by more than half the yards coming on a pass interference penalty). Given the way the game was going while Wilson was healthy, I’m going to go out on a limb and say the Seahawks would’ve lost to the Rams regardless, dropping our record to 2-3.

But, here’s where things get interesting: the Seahawks lost the next two games by three points each; one in Pittsburgh, in overtime, and the other at home against the Saints on Monday night. Both were exclusively Geno Smith games, where the defense managed to step up in a big way (especially against the Saints, holding them to only 13 points). Look, I’m just going to say it: Russell Wilson has to be worth more than three points per game over Geno Smith. I don’t care how ineffective the offense has looked at times (even when he’s been fully healthy). We’ll never know, of course, but I have to believe – given the way the defense stepped up starting with this stretch – that we would have won both of those games, while easily taking care of the Jags the following week (which we did anyway, with Geno, handily).

If you give the Seahawks three wins there, that improves our record to 5-3; not a bad way to head into the BYE week.

Then, we have the November swoon. In our reality, Russell Wilson returned for the Green Bay game, but the Seahawks ended up getting shut out. We also lost by 10 to the Cardinals (with Colt McCoy at the helm), and by two points to the Washington Football Team. This is where projecting hypotheticals gets tricky, because how do we quantify where to split up the blame? How much of the blame was on Wilson returning from injury too soon, and not being able to make all the throws he was supposed to make? There’s no question he was more off-target in those games than we’ve ever seen him before, and he’s since admitted that it was bothering him at times during this stretch. But, we also know that he’s Russell Wilson, and he plays the game in such a way as to try to take on more than he should. He holds out for the deep ball more than he should. He gets hit more than he should. If he just checked down and took what the defense gave him, he’d be a better quarterback.

It would be the peak of homerism to say the Seahawks would’ve been 3-0 with a fully healthy Wilson (all other things being the same), but it’s not unreasonable to believe we would’ve been 2-1. At the very least, I think we should’ve been 1-2. A 1-2 record makes us 6-5 after that stretch.

From there, things got back on track against the 49ers and Texans; hypothetically, that would’ve made us 8-5. Another loss to the Rams would’ve dropped us to 8-6, but that still would’ve had us squarely in the hunt heading into the Bears’ game. Conversely, in reality, we were 5-9 heading into the Bears game, and thoroughly knocked out of the playoff picture. You have to wonder if there was some semblance of a collective let-down heading into the Chicago game. I’ll always wonder if things might’ve been different if we had something to actually play for.

But, as mentioned before, this offense has largely been dysfunctional, with or without a healthy Wilson. So, let’s say that loss puts us at 8-7; the Lions victory still would’ve made us 9-7 heading into this past weekend. That would’ve had us squarely in the Wild Card picture over the 49ers (thanks to our season sweep over them), probably in the seventh seed.

And then, lo and behold, a victory over the 11-win Cards! That would’ve been our 10th win of the season – tied with the 49ers, who again, we beat both times we played them this year – putting us in the 6th seed of the playoffs, with a road game in Dallas next week.

Do we win that game in this scenario? Probably not. That Cowboys defense is pretty tremendous. But, I don’t think it’s insane to say that if Wilson had never injured his finger, and everything else had stayed the same, that we would’ve been a playoff team. It’s food for thought.

Obviously, there are countless other hypotheticals that could’ve come true; this is real Butterfly Effect territory we’re getting into. But, we’ve always said that the Seahawks would be screwed if Russell Wilson ever got injured and had to miss games. Well, he got injured, he missed games, and the Seahawks got screwed as a result.

This is what happens when you neglect the backup quarterback spot and give it to any old guy available.