Giving Them The Boot: Seahawks Call Off Their Kicking Competitions

The Seahawks have been putting the “foot” in football, as fans have been all atwitter about what they’re doing with the team’s special teams.

They traded up in the fifth round to draft Michael Dickson, which obviously put Jon Ryan’s standing with the team in jeopardy.  After the game on Saturday – where Dickson had the Chargers on their heels all day – the team and Ryan agreed to part ways, with the hope that the MVP will hook up with another team.  It was moderately surprising, I guess, but the Seahawks love nothing else than to keep us all on our toes.

More shocking was the early end to the placekicker battle, as the team stomped on the hopes and dreams of youngster Jason Myers.  My thinking was – all things being even – the team would opt to keep the cheaper guy with more contract control, but either Janikowski was the pick all along – and he just needed to prove his health for the team to keep trotting him out there game-in and game-out – or it really wasn’t even as it looked in the two pre-season games, and Myers wasn’t as reliable during practice.  Hard to blame them if that’s the case, as the season from hell that was the Blair Walsh Experiment might give anyone PTSD when it comes to the kicking game.

Not surprisingly, I suppose, is that the Seahawks really have no interest in kicking competitions, and probably hated wasting two extra roster spots when they knew all along what they wanted to do.  Those are two spots that can go to a 9th DB or an 11th wide receiver or some such nonsense.  For what it’s worth, I have no problem with their choices.  Obviously, I was ready to move on at the punter spot, as the new guy is cheaper, younger, and significantly better; he could be an All Pro punter for a decade, starting with year one!  As for kicker, I guess we’ll have to wait and see.  There’s a little nagging doubt about giving up on Myers so soon; I’d hate to see him catch on somewhere else and be fabulous for a long time.  I mean, good kickers have to come from somewhere, and it’s not insane for a guy to bounce around a few different organizations before figuring it out.  Of course, the odds are in our favor, and he’s truly going to be a bust, but I guess I wish him well or whatever.

Just … just get the job done, Janikowski.  That’s all I ask.  Make the ones you’re supposed to make, and surprise us with a handful of 50-yarders.  I don’t want to have to think about the kicker when there’s so many other things to worry about with this team.

Not Winners & Losers Of The Seahawks’ Second Pre-Season Game 2018

The Seahawks had the rare Saturday night pre-season game over the weekend, a 24-14 loss to the Chargers down in Los Angeles.  We saw our starters through the entire first half, watching many a promising drive end in futility, with a late comeback attempt for naught.  The only injury was to D.J. Fluker’s finger, which is a good sign.  Without further ado, let’s get into it.

What I’m Geeked Out About After Two Meaningless Pre-Season Games

Russell Wilson and Chris Carson look absolutely phenomenal.  Unfortunately, due to mistakes around them, we haven’t seen the fruits of their labor translating into a ton of touchdowns, but words can’t express how excited I’ll be when we finally get to see full games out of these guys.  This offense has the potential to really be something, and a lot of that production is going to fall to these two guys.

I think the receiving corps is in good shape.  We haven’t even seen Doug Baldwin yet, and as long as his injury isn’t worse than expected, we’ll get him back for the regular season (you know, when the games actually matter).  Tyler Lockett was given this game off, but he looks fast and ready to break out this year.  The real question marks come when you look beyond our top two guys, and it’s there that I’m really happy.  Jaron Brown had a couple of really nice catches for 74 yards, and David Moore had a couple of his own, for 71 yards.  With Brandon Marshall drawing the attention he draws (and as a weapon in the red zone), I think these five guys should all make the opening day roster, and I think they should all prove to be pretty productive (Moore in particular, as his role could expand even further after this season, if Lockett signs elsewhere).

Also, how do you not freak the fuck out about Rasheem Green?  One week after he netted 1.5 sacks and a tackle for loss against the Colts, he came back with 1.5 sacks and 2 tackles for loss against the Chargers!  Requisite grain of salt and all that, this is a guy who without question can play in this league and be productive for this team right out of the gate.  Never a better sight for these sore eyes have I seen in quite some time.

Other Things That Caught My Eye (In A Good Way)

Quinton Jefferson looks like the real deal (and just in the knick of time, too).  He might never be a Pro Bowler, but just being a viable member of a D-Line rotation is all I’m looking for.

Naz Jones, however, may indeed one day be a Pro Bowler!  He needs to stay healthy first, and if he does, watch out NFL!  He could be one of the surprises of this season.

C.J. Prosise wasn’t especially effective, but he played most of the second half of this game and didn’t have to leave due to injury.  That’s something!  Now, we don’t know how his body responded – I’m still holding my breath, in case you couldn’t tell – but all signs point to him being okay.  Let’s keep this going!

Finally, while still raw-looking, Alex McGough looked better.  He had a nifty little touchdown drive late in the game, with a nice touch pass to the back of the endzone.  Still more checkdowns than you’d like to see in a game if it actually mattered, but as far as a rookie backup quarterback is concerned, as long as he’s avoiding mistakes, he’s okay in my book.

Let’s Talk About Competitions

It’s time for the punter competition to end.  John Schneider needs to take Old Yeller Jon Ryan out back behind the barn and put him out of his misery.  It’s been a good run, MVP, but it’s time to go in another direction.  Michael Dickson is the future, and by God, might indeed be the next Seahawks jersey I end up buying!

The kicker competition is still alive and well, and honestly probably too close to call.  They both made some pretty short-range kicks, and no one attempted a PAT due to the score being what it was.  It’s unfortunate that the #2 and #3 offenses are so fucking inept, as it’s seemingly impossible for these guys to get us into scoring position at all!  Heading to Minnesota this week, obviously, isn’t a great opportunity to allow the offense to bust out, as that’s one of the deeper teams in the league.

Finally, as I alluded to, a pretty mixed bag when it comes to the QB2 spot.  Austin Davis had two drives and went nowhere.  He sucks.  That having been said, I don’t know if I’m willing to throw this competition away just yet and hand the keys to McGough.  Obviously, the team is pretty confident that they know what they’ve got in Davis, so they’re giving the bulk of the free time to McGough to gauge his development.  As he is a 7th rounder, you know the team isn’t expecting a lot from him, hence the rumors about the Seahawks offering a 2nd rounder to acquire Indy’s backup.  That’s obviously a terrible idea – as why would you give up something so valuable just for a guy who ideally will never see the field in the regular season? – especially when you consider we don’t even have another 2nd round pick until 2020!  I think that rumor ended up being false, but nevertheless I wouldn’t be shocked to see the Seahawks in the market for a new backup as teams start cutting guys later this month.

Other Things That Caught My Eye (In A Bad Way)

This section could also be called, “God Damn It Germain Ifedi”.

What the fuck is wrong with this guy?  Seriously!?  I mean, it’s pretty plain to see that we’re not going to get even a minimal amount of improvement out of him compared to a season ago, which is just a disaster.  Hell, at this point I can’t even promise he won’t get WORSE!  His play, in EVERY facet of the game (but in particular his pass protection), is just the fucking worst.  Now, obviously, the other four starting linemen look pretty okay, so if Russell Wilson just has to avoid one free rusher per play (as opposed to the usual 4 or 5 we’d let run wild in prior seasons) we should still be able to move the ball.  But, this nevertheless puts our most important player in a precarious spot, and the odds of Wilson suffering an injury because of Ifedi’s ineptitude increases tenfold.  We may look back on the right tackle injuries in that Indy game as a serious turning point in our season, on par with the George Fant injury a year ago.

Obviously, you have to hate that Will Dissly penalty, and you just hope it’s something he’ll correct going forward.  This team can’t afford mental errors, as it’s less able to overcome them than in years past when we had more star players.

Ditto the Chris Carson fumble at the goalline.  We need touchdowns, not field goals; and we need points, not turnovers.

Predictably, Philip Rivers carved us up early in the game.  I thought the defense did a better job of settling down after that first drive, but the run defense was as sorry as I’ve ever seen it.  There’s a slight chance this team’s pass rush will be better than I expected, but there’s a very good chance this team’s run defense will be much worse.  What worries me is if the pass rush is indeed terrible, and so is the run defense.  Could be a LONG season for that side of the ball.

I’m also going to bemoan the lack of turnovers the Seahawks generated, because I still think this team will need them to thrive.  The secondary in particular looked far from impressive.  Just a lot for this defense to work on, and not a lot of time left to do it.

Rashaad Penny Broke A Finger

On the one hand, I love a pre-season game on a Saturday because I don’t have to worry about work the next day and being tired from staying up until all hours of the night; but on the other hand, WAITING UNTIL SATURDAY just feels obscene to me.  I WANT FOOTBALL RIGHT NOW GOD DAMMIT!

So, we had a good-news/bad-news situation this week.  The bad news, obviously, is that our first round pick Rashaad Penny broke his finger in practice and had to have surgery this week to repair it.  This means that he’s going to miss essentially the rest of the pre-season, which is prime development time for a rookie who we all figured would have a significant role in this offense right out of the gate.

Now, the good news is that assuming there are no setbacks, he should be ready for week 1 (or, at the very least, the first month of the season), but I dunno.  I feel like the bad outweighs the good in this case.  He’s not going to get this time back!  Sure, he can keep his conditioning on point, and he can shove his nose in the playbook and do all that, but the best way to develop as a player in the NFL is through reps on the field.

On top of that, this injury re-opens my concern about the depth at this position.  A position of tremendous need, I might add, and one where this team struggled heavily in the last couple seasons.  Heading into training camp, running back was one of the positions I was most confident in on this team.  That’s because we had Chris Carson back to full health and looking like a beast, and that’s because we had a bona fide first round talent in Rashaad Penny, who had never really shown a proclivity to being injured in college.  Beyond those two guys, we had a winner-takes-all grudge match among the 3rd down backs, as well as a guy in Mike Davis who’s probably the most reliable, dependable workhorse of the bunch (whose spot was far from guaranteed until this injury cropped up).

When you take out one of the top two guys, things get a lot more tenuous.  Chris Carson was already the leader of the pack heading into the second game of the pre-season, but now his importance is amplified tenfold.  He’s also someone – based exclusively on what happened in his rookie season a year ago – I have very little confidence in staying healthy.  That could’ve been just a freak injury, or it could’ve been a sign of things to come; we have no idea, and that unknown is what scares me the most.  Beyond him, C.J. Prosise is obviously a walking injury bug waiting to strike, so even though he might have the talent to be an every-down back (should the unthinkable happen ahead of him on the depth chart), there’s no WAY I’d be confident in him being available.  And J.D. McKissic is a good player, but he’s not my idea of someone who would succeed with runs inside the tackles.

That leaves, again, Mike Davis.  At this point, I think he’s a guy you HAVE to keep on the 53-man roster, when we get to the cut-downs.  I don’t think he has the dynamic play-making ability of the guys ahead of him in the position room, but behind what’s looking like an improved offensive line, I think he’s good enough to be a 1,000-yard back in this offense, which is all I’m asking for at this point.

So, all in all, kind of a bummer of a week, but not as bad as it could’ve been.  In all likelihood, Penny will make a full recovery and he’ll start out as this team’s backup to start the season.  If he can stay healthy from here on out, he should have plenty of time to catch back up during the regular season.  At least it’s not a knee, or a quad, or a hamstring, or a shoulder, or a head, or a toe, or literally any other body part.  Fingers heal.  Broken fingers can still be played with.  This is fine, everything is fine, I’m fine.  Let’s all go about our business and enjoy our Friday.

Did The Mariners Save Their Season With Yesterday’s 12-Inning Victory?

I dunno, maybe more like delayed the inevitable, but you have to admit that a 2.5-game deficit is much more tenable than a 4.5-game deficit.

Yesterday’s was my favorite type of baseball game.  Just a clean, scoreless bout through 11 innings until the Mariners busted through with a 2-spot in the 12th.  LOVE me some pitcher’s duels!  With the Seattle offense still mired in a ridiculous slump, they needed every bit of Mike Leake’s 8 innings of shutout ball (2 hits, 1 walk, 6 strikeouts); it’s just too bad I had to work and couldn’t see any of it.

I did catch the entirety of the extra innings portion of the game in my car ride home, which was fun, if a little odd.  The Seattle to Tacoma slog down I-5 usually takes anywhere from 60-90 minutes depending on the severity of traffic (there’s always a backup in Fife, for instance, but if that backup extends all the way up into Renton and beyond, good fucking luck), so to make it all the way home (in time to catch the 12th inning on TV) was a bit of a miracle.

I mean, these are the A’s!  They’ve been winning games in remarkable fashion for a while now.  How Khris Davis or Jed Lowrie didn’t walk it off is beyond my mortal comprehension.

Following Leake’s stunning performance – which saw his ERA drop under 4 for the first time since early April – Colome got 4 outs (including Davis to lead off the 10th before being pulled for a lefty), Zach Duke did diddly squat, Nick Vincent got 4 outs, and James Pazos got a critical strikeout of – YOU GUESSED IT – Khris Davis!

If all of that wasn’t amazing enough, the fact that we witnessed a Mike Zunino walk, followed by a Dee Gordon 2-run home run, takes this game right into fantasyland (although, the Gordon homer was certainly a wall scraper in every sense of the phrase).  From there, it was Edwin Diaz with a single and 3 strikeouts to get his 47th save, one shy of the Mariners’ single season record (with 40 games left to play).

That wrapped up a 20-games-in-20-days stretch of baseball for the Mariners that saw them go 9-11, which obviously isn’t going to cut it.  And while there won’t be a stretch of games that daunting the rest of the way (the most they face in a row is 10 games in 10 days to close out the regular season), the opposition doesn’t get a whole helluva lot easier.

Up next, we’ve got a weekend series against the very good Dodgers, followed by three more at home against the Astros.  Then, it’s back on the road against the division-leading Diamondbacks.  Looking ahead, we play Oakland 7 more times, the Yankees 3 times, the Angels 4 times, the Astros 3 more times in September, and the Rangers 7 more times (which, yeah, they have a terrible record, but they also ravaged the M’s just a week ago).

If you’re looking for soft landings the rest of the way, we have 4 games against the bottom-feeding Padres and 3 games at home against the hapless Orioles.  That’s 7 out of 40 of what you could call push-overs.  Against everyone else?  The Mariners are going to have to continue to scratch and claw.  I can’t say that I have a lot of hope, but maybe they’ll surprise me.

No, I Don’t Think The Mariners Will Make The Playoffs This Year

I don’t respond to every single comment – however rare they find their way into my posts on this blog – but I thought I’d answer a question someone left in my most recent entry.

For what it’s worth, I USED to think the Mariners would make the playoffs this year.  I thought they were a shoo-in!  Then, they had a 10-13 month of July (not to mention a 6-8 month of August), while the Oakland Athletics went from 34-36 on June 15th, to now being 72-48 heading into August 15th (a record of 38-12 in two months’ time) and now we’re talking about the M’s being 3.5 games behind the A’s, with 8 more games against them the rest of the year.

I might have held out a little hope heading into this 3-game set against the A’s – coming off of that 4-game sweep down in Houston – but losing the first two games has really dampened my spirits.  Not just that, but obviously the WAY the Mariners have lost.

On Monday, we lost 7-6, but it was 7-1 heading into the 8th inning.  You can take that two ways; you can laud the late comeback against a pretty formidable bullpen, or you can lament another poor pitching performance.  Marco Gonzales has been pretty remarkable this season, but his last two outings have been terrible.  He followed up a 5-inning, 7-run performance down in Texas with a 5-inning, 4-run performance in Oakland.  Everyone’s saying he’s tired, that 140 innings is by far the most he’s thrown in the Majors, but come on man, this is his JOB!  He’s a Major League starting pitcher for Christ’s sake!  I don’t want to be Get Off My Lawn guy, but it really feels like coddling if we have to give him a rest in the middle of a fucking playoff chase.

Also, I don’t know what the opposite of Pouring One Out is – maybe Pissing On The Grave? – but piss one out for Casey Lawrence, who is (I’ll say it) the WORST long reliever I’ve ever fucking seen.  Any time you ask this guy to go more than a single inning, he falls apart.  The point of a long reliever is to come in, eat up innings, and keep your team in the ballgame, in the off-chance that the offense gets its shit together and jumps back into the game.  Well, if Lawrence had done his JOB on Monday, we might’ve seen a remarkable come-from-behind victory against the very team we’re chasing for that wild card spot!  Instead, he added more gas to the dumpster fire, and here we are, one run short of a comeback.  Sending his dumb ass down to Tacoma was the best thing the Mariners have done all week.

Of course, if that wasn’t bad enough, last night James Paxton took a line drive off his forearm, and is poised to hit the DL for a start or two (or more?).  Luckily, we still had King Felix stretched out, so he was able to go 5.2 innings of 2-run ball to keep us in it (FANCY THAT, A LONG RELIEVER WHO DOESN’T SUCK!).  He’ll slide right into Paxton’s spot in the rotation until he’s able to come back, at which point it’ll probably be September and we’ll be able to expand our roster beyond the 25 guys we have now.  Maybe, if Felix can hold it down, we go to a 6-man rotation, to give everyone a little break and ease Paxton into the home stretch.

Or, maybe we’ll go right back to seeing the Felix that struggles, at which point we’ve swapped out our best starter for our worst starter, and our odds of making the playoffs got that much worse.  If I’m betting the Taylor Family Farm, I’m betting on the latter, as sad as it is to say.

I guess the only bit of good news is Robinson Cano returned last night.  He started at first base and got a hit while batting second in the order.  Seems unnecessary to move him off of his regular spot in the order (if you’re doing it to punish him, then bat him 5th or 6th), but I guess if you’re going to move him all over the field, then why not move him all around the batting order?

I just ultimately don’t think the boost we’ll get from Cano will be enough.  Too many bats are struggling – Seager, Zunino, Gordon, even Segura has significantly cooled off since the All Star Break – and with the pitching staff looking as iffy as we all expected it to be coming into this season, it all adds up to a total and complete collapse in the second half of this season.

So, no, no playoffs for the Mariners again in 2018.  The real question is:  how long will the neverending streak of losing Mariners teams continue?

The Mariners Messed With Some Of Texas

The last time I wrote about the Mariners, they just lost a demoralizing “home” series against the Blue Jays and were setting out on a 10-games-in-10-days road trip through the teeth of the American League West, starting with 7 down in the state of Texas.  So, let’s get into it.

Well, it feels like a million years ago, but last Monday we got a much-needed 12th inning win to open up the series against the Rangers.  Wade LeBlanc pitched exceedingly well, but was pulled with one out in the 7th after giving up just 2 hits all day on 82 pitches.  Newcomers Adam Warren and Zach Duke continued their Sucking For The Seattle Mariners campaign, giving up the tying runs, but the rest of the bullpen was good enough to keep it scoreless the rest of the way.  In the 12th, the M’s manufactured the go-ahead run, and Edwin Diaz came in to lock down his 42nd save.

Well, it feels like we’ve talked about it a million times, but last Tuesday was Felix’s last turn in the Mariners’ rotation for a while.  He got off to a great start, keeping it scoreless through two innings, then he (and the defense, thanks Kyle Seager) just fell apart.  Since our bullpen was so wiped out from the previous evening’s game, Felix had to wear it, giving up 11 runs (7 earned) in 6 innings.  I wish I could’ve seen the game where we had a clean defensive effort, because even though Felix was giving up hard contact, it was right at guys (Seager) who should’ve made those plays.  I know you can’t assume double plays (which is why he gave up as many earned runs as he did), but if we did assume some of those double plays, I think Felix would’ve looked a lot more competitive.  But, it is what it is, and you don’t yank a legend from the rotation based on one start alone.  He was essentially going start-by-start, and might’ve indeed been on borrowed time based on his prior outings.  You know how I feel about it; it makes me sad and I never would’ve pulled him from the rotation no matter how he pitched, but I’m in the obvious minority and it has no basis in reality or rooting for this team to succeed.  In almost every situation, I’m a fan of the team first and the player second; in this case I’m a Felix Hernandez fan first, and a Mariners fan, like, 10th.

In spite of that effort, the M’s had a chance to at least win the series, with the reliable Marco Gonzales on the mound, but it wasn’t meant to be.  He just didn’t have it – giving up 7 runs in 5 innings – and while the Mariners were able to put up 7 runs of our own, that wasn’t enough to power through these new bullpen arms.  Zach Duke gave up 4 runs on 4 hits in the 7th inning while only getting 2 outs, and there’s your ballgame.  What a fucking disaster of an addition.

So, yeah, heading into a 4-game series with the Astros, it was looking pretty grim.  On top of it, the Astros apparently shuffled their rotation so we had to run the gauntlet.

Game 1 – Paxton vs. Verlander.  The M’s knocked Verlander out after 2 innings (giving up 6 runs in the process), and we were able to hold on for an 8-6 win (Diaz got his 43rd save).

Game 2 – Leake vs. Cole.  Cole pitched into the 8th inning, but we were able to touch him up to the tune of 4 runs.  Leake went 6, giving up 2, and the bullpen held on for a comfortable 5-2 victory (Diaz got his 44th save).

Game 3 – LeBlanc vs. Morton.  Again, the M’s were able to get to their starter a little bit, as Morton went 6, giving up 3; and again, the Mariners’ starter held his own (LeBlanc went 5, giving up 2).  Both bullpens were clean in this one, and we won a nailbiter, this time 3-2 (Diaz got his 45th save).

Game 4 – Ramirez vs. Keuchel.  Erasmo Ramirez took Felix’s spot in the rotation, coming back from the DL.  Ramirez didn’t look great in the minors, but the M’s didn’t need great, they just needed reliable.  He gave us all more than we ever could’ve expected, going 5 shutout innings before giving way to the bullpen.  Alex Colome had pitched the three days prior, so he was out.  That left everyone else in play, which equates to Diaz (for a 4th game in a row) and a bunch of twits.  We were able to get 2 runs off of Keuchel, in his 7 innings of work, but we couldn’t hold that 2-0 lead for long.  Pazos and Vincent were the turds in this one, giving up 3 runs in the bottom of the 8th.  Shockingly, Warren and Duke were real heroes, putting up zeroes in multiple innings of work for each of them (by multiple innings, I mean 4 outs apiece).  The Mariners were able to spoil a save opportunity in the 9th, with a homer by Ryon Healy to tie it; and we took a 1-run lead in the 10th on a double by Haniger (with Dee Gordon running on the pitch from first base).  That was all we needed, as Diaz got his 46th save on the year (so close to an emaculate inning).

So yeah, that’s an interesting week of baseball to say the least!

The good news is, obviously, we picked up 4 games on the Astros when we absolutely needed them.  The bad news is we’re still 4 games back in the division.  We go to Oakland for a 3-game set (1.5 games out of the second wild card), almost certainly without the services of Edwin Diaz at least for Monday’s game.

It feels unfathomable – even with all of Houston’s injuries – that the Mariners should win ANY games down there, let alone sweep all four.  They’re going to need that impossible magic to continue if we hope to chip away against the A’s.

Not Winners & Losers Of The Seahawks’ First Pre-Season Game 2018

Winners & Losers posts are fucking played out, so fuck it, I’m doing something different (that’s really sort of the same, but whatever).

Last night, the Seahawks played in their first pre-season game of the year and lost to the Colts 19-17.  The game was efficiently played through the first half, we saw a ton of different guys get out there and mix it up, and then the second half was a slog of mistakes, penalties, and absolute tom-fuckery that ended with a 3rd & 1 play just before the 2-minute warning.  The Seahawks used their final time out in an attempt to get the ball back for a come-from-behind opportunity.  The Colts ran the ball up the middle, Delano Hill (I believe) had a chance to stuff the running back for no gain, but he ultimately missed the tackle, leading to an Indy first down and a victory formation coming out of the 2-minute break.  So, let’s get to the premise of this post.

What I’m Geeked Out About After One Meaningless Pre-Season Game

Okay, so first of all, caveats galore:  it’s pre-season, it’s the first game of the pre-season, it’s against an Indy defense that probably isn’t all that good and probably wasn’t playing all their best players and probably wasn’t running anything but a vanilla scheme.

That having been said, I’m pretty fucking geeked out about the Seahawks’ #1 offense.  All of it!  Russell Wilson was on point!  The running game looked strong!  The offensive line gave Wilson all day to throw and opened up huge holes!  Receivers and tight ends got open!  The offense was crisp and efficient and was even able to overcome a penalty or two!  It culminated in a touchdown pass to Nick Vannett and the major players were done for the night.

Why am I so geeked out about all this, with all those caveats I mentioned?  Because this is what’s SUPPOSED to happen.  This is how your #1 offense is SUPPOSED to look against the dregs of the league in the first pre-season game of the year.  And yet, all too often in years past, under Darrell Bevell & Co., it’s been a fucking SLOG!  Much like in regular season games, this offense tended to take a while to get going even in the pre-season.  So, it was FUCKING refreshing to finally see these guys come out right away and ram it down the other team’s throat.

As always:  Fuck You Very Much Darrell Bevell & Tom Cable.

Other Things That Caught My Eye (In A Good Way)

Even though Vannett had a drop (that, on replay, might’ve been a tad thrown behind him, but still, something you should catch), I liked what he brought to the table.  Any sort of production we get from the tight ends should be gravy (so long as they’re doing their jobs blocking), but if he can be a real weapon offensively, that’d be HUGE for our passing game.

There was a nice catch by Stringfellow and a couple good catches by Moore for the back-end of the receiving corps.  All in all, I thought our targets looked good.

Rasheem Green is probably the talk of the day defensively.  This pass rush looks as pathetic as I’ve ever seen it, and I’m sure he did most of his damage against backups, but nevertheless even THIS was more than I was expecting out of Green as a rookie.  I kinda expected him to look lost and overwhelmed even in the pre-season, so to see him really stand out as the best pass rusher on this team last night is an encouraging sign for his first season in the league.

Also promising:  Shaquem Griffin.  He didn’t make every single play, but boy was he all over the place!  He led the game with 9 tackles and had a tackle for loss mixed in as well.

I thought Akeem King really showed out in getting some extended playing time.  He had a nice pass breakup, showed some really good coverage overall, and even though he had that helmet penalty on special teams, I really don’t think it was totally his fault!  You could see on replay, he tried moving his head out of the way and leading with his shoulder, but the offensive guy lowered HIS head and yet it’s the defensive guy’s fault.  I think that’s a collosal load of bullshit and something the NFL really needs to adjust.  I’m with you 100% when it comes to getting rid of helmet-to-helmet hits and avoiding hitting guys in the head overall, but when it’s the offensive guy putting himself in harm’s way, I mean, how is the defender supposed to avoid it?  We’re teaching all these defensive guys to see the play and keep his head up and all of that; why aren’t we teaching the offensive guys the same thing?  I feel like a high percentage of these hits are the fault of the offense, and no one’s doing a damn thing about it.

Let’s Talk About Competitions

You know I love me a good punter competition!  Of course, the main downside is that you’ve got to see the incumbent half the time (to keep up appearances, I suppose) and give him the first opportunity (because he is the veteran and whatnot).  The other big downside is that you kind of have to root for your offense to totally suck, which obviously makes for boring football to watch.

I thought, you know, Jon Ryan was fine.  I wish him well and I hope another team snaps him up and he punts in this league for many more years to come.  But, I’m ready to just hand the keys over to Michael Dickson right now, because he was phenomenal!  He’s got that ball BOOMING and it doesn’t even look like he’s trying all that hard!  I feel like he could punt it the entire length of the football field, and at some point, when we’re backed way up in our own endzone, I want to see him unleash a furious hellscape of a punt that makes us all simultaneously cream in our pants.

As for the kickers, way too early to tell.  I want this battle to go to the bitter end.  Janikowski made both of his extra points; Myers made his 43-yard field goal.

Finally, I’m just going to bypass all the more interesting competitions (I thought all the RBs looked good, except of course for C.J. Prosise who – SUR-PRISE SUR-PRISE SUR-PRISE – missed the game with an injury) and talk about the backup QBs.  Austin Davis is almost certainly going to win that #2 job, and he moved the ball pretty well on his first drive of the game, but GOD DAMN did that interception in the endzone leave a bitter taste in my mouth.  I was thrilled to see him on the sidelines coming out of halftime.

As for Alex McGough, he was definitely Captain Checkdown, but what do you expect from a 7th round QB playing in his first NFL game?  I thought the backup offensive line did him no favors.  He showed good mobility, but all too often I found myself SCREAMING at him, “THROW IT AWAY!”  He ultimately took two too many sacks when he had clear opportunities to throw it out of bounds and live to fight another day, and that’s ultimately on him.

He also had that one scramble play that went for a HUGE gain to Stringfellow (who was erroneously flagged for offensive PI – which, I guess you have to say it was pre-season for the refs too, because they looked pretty bad on occasion), which goes to show you this kid has moxie and a lot of potential to be maybe a Doug Flutie type of player.  I still think Davis has the clear lead, but I’m not TOTALLY going to write off Mr. McGough.

Other Things That Caught My Eye (In A Bad Way)

I was disappointed in something I thought would be a strength for this team:  its depth.  Coming out of the draft, I thought – even though our top-flight talent wasn’t what it was in this team’s prime – we at least had much better guys on this roster from players 54-90.  But, that proved to be wishful thinking on my part.

Obviously, a number of starters were out injured (notably Frank Clark, Dion Jordan, Byron Maxwell, and Doug Baldwin), but I pegged this as a team that would dominate the 4th quarters of pre-season games (i.e. our third stringers are better than your third stringers), and that just wasn’t the case last night.

I thought the pass defense was a little lacking, for good reason.  Tre Flowers was the starter opposite Shaquill Griffin, and he had predictable rookie mistakes.  He showed some promise, but he was also getting picked on pretty regularly.  The good thing is, he’ll likely have ample opportunities to grow through some of these pains the next three weeks.

I saw a ball get completed in front of Shaquill Griffin that I can guarantee you Richard Sherman (if healthy) would’ve broken up.  Look, right or wrong, I’m going to be comparing every play that goes his way to Sherm in his prime; I’m sorry, that’s just what happens when you replace a legend.  What’s His Name had to replace Dan Marino when he retired, and look at where he is now!  (forgotten).  Other than that one catch, I thought Griffin looked fine, but it’s something I’m going to monitor very closely.

I thought our linebackers looked pretty terrible in that first quarter, as you saw the Colts throwing to WIDE OPEN running backs on the regular.  K.J. Wright got beat, Bobby Wagner got beat; guys looked like they were out of position; and quite frankly guys looked like they were ill-prepared for a quarterback coming off of a year-plus out of football for a shoulder injury.  I mean, what did you expect?  Andrew Luck to sling the ball 50 yards down field?  OF COURSE he was going to throw quick, short passes!  We should’ve been on top of that.

I also didn’t love what I saw out of Austin Calitro, backing up Bobby Wagner, but you know, he’s an undrafted rookie playing behind an All Pro, so I won’t get my panties all in a wad.  He has a long way to go; I just pray to the high heavens that Wagner never gets injured.

As I predicted, this team kind of got pushed around on 3rd/4th downs early in the game.  The Colts were ultimately held to field goals most of the time, but nevertheless they were able to put up some pretty sustained drives throughout (especially their starters).  Need to find a way to get off the field.

The backup O-Line looked as miserable as I remember from the last three years.  While the starters looked GREAT, the backups leave a lot to be desired.  It also doesn’t help that our two backup right tackles – Jamarco Jones and Isaiah Battle – left the game with some serious-looking injuries.  One to the knee, one looking to be a high ankle sprain.  These were the two guys pushing Germain Ifedi for that starting right tackle spot, so this is probably the worst news of the night.  Ifedi might be better than he was last year, but I still don’t like the idea of him winning the job by default.

You Couldn’t Pay Me To Go To This Warriors/Kings Game At Key Arena

I went on a little bit of a Twitter rant about this yesterday, and kinda felt like expanding on my thoughts about this game.

In case you haven’t heard, on Friday, October 5th, the Golden State Warriors are “hosting” the Sacramento Kings at Key Arena.  It’s Kevin Durant’s big return to Seattle – after starting his career with the Supersonics – and it’s being billed as the final major event in Key Arena, before the big remodel that’s supposed to result in us getting an NHL team.

I won’t be going to this game.  If you want to go, because you’re a basketball fan, or you just love the Warriors and/or Kevin Durant, or you want to get all decked up in Sonics gear and chant “Save Our Sonics” all game, or whatever your reason, more power to you.  It’s just not my idea of a good time.

For what it’s worth, I don’t think that game will have any trouble selling out.  I mean, the Warriors are like the best team ever assembled, and even if it’s a meaningless pre-season game, you’re still likely to see some of the best basketball players in the world for at least a few minutes.  I’ve heard people make the argument that it’s important for Seattle to show up for this game to prove that we want the NBA back; I’m here to tell you that’s fucking bullshit.

For starters, we never should’ve lost our team in the first place.  We didn’t DESERVE to have our team stolen from us.  We were already some of the best, most loyal, most devoted fans in the entire league; we don’t need to prove FUCK-ALL to the NBA.  If anything, they need to prove they’re worthy and deserving of re-entering the fastest growing city in the United States.

Look, I’ve said it all along, I love the Supersonics.  I’d give anything to have them back.  They’re my second-favorite pro sports team after the Seahawks and if you offered me a trade of the Mariners for the Sonics, I’d make that trade 100 times out of 100.  But, I’ve lived without the NBA since 2008.  I’ve occasionally observed from afar how much the game has changed, and I just don’t know how appealing it is to me anymore.  Maybe if I had the Sonics back, and started watching on a nightly basis, my love affair with the NBA would return.  But, I dunno.  If you told me the NBA is never coming back to Seattle, I probably wouldn’t lose too much sleep over it.

Truth be told, I’ve more or less had the belief that Seattle isn’t getting a team back in my lifetime anyway, so there’s really no point in keeping hope alive.  If it comes, then great, I’m wrong and I get to enjoy professional basketball; if it doesn’t, then whatever, I’ll be dead at some point and nothing really matters.

Seattle deserves a team because we have money.  We have a young base of corporate employees making high salaries and that team would make tons of money here.  We also have that history of 40 years of devoted NBA followship that has certainly waned in the years since our team was stolen, but is still plenty rabid compared to some of the other markets out there WITH professional teams.

But, until we get a team, why should I give this league one fucking cent of my money?  Why should I reward them for being fucking bastards?  Why should I settle for a watered-down, meaningless pre-season game featuring two teams with no history in this market?

Why should I want to watch one of those teams – the Sacramento Kings – who WE TRIED TO POACH a few years back, before the league decided to step in and fuck us in the ass all over again?

NBA, I have three words for you:  GO FUCK YOURSELVES!

Give me the Supersonics back, then I’ll go to a game, and buy your gear, and spend hours upon hours of my life obsessing over your product.  Until then, pretty please, with sugar on top, go fuck yourselves.

The Mariners Are Why Seattle Is Sports Hell

It’s hard for me to believe that the Mariners are just in a slump, because with their run differential (-19), it feels like they’re just playing to expectations at this point, and really this is who they are.  They’re a team that loses 3/4 to the God-awful Toronto Blue Jays, at home, with their Canadian fans totally overwhelming our home fans in attendance.

The annual fucking embarrassment is over, so that’s the good news.  But, we’re living in Hell right now, in case you didn’t know.  Seattle sucks again, and the Mariners are the primary culprit.

On Thursday, Felix did the bare minimum (5 innings, 2 runs) and Juan Nicasio blew it in the 7th, giving up 2 runs in less than an inning.  He’s since been dumped on the DL with a knee issue, and I hope it’s for the rest of the fucking year, because he’s a fucking worthless pile of shit and is actively killing this team.  The final score was 7-3.

It was somehow even worse on Friday, as Marco gave up 4 runs in 7 innings, and the offense just did absolute jack shit.  A late-game meltdown was essentially meaningless as we lost 7-2.

And, LOOK AT THAT, it got even worse on Saturday.  Paxton went 7 innings, giving up 3 runs, but we lost 5-1 as it appears no one in our bullpen could get anyone out this series.

We somehow salvaged a win on Sunday even though Sam Gaviglio was going for Toronto and essentially equalled Mike Leake’s production through his rotation turn.  It was 3-3 heading into the bottom of the 7th before Nelson Cruz and Kyle Seager blew it open.  We got the game to Edwin Diaz who was able to shut ’em down for his 41st save in a 6-3 win.

This team is just a garbage fire right now, and it’s about to get a whole lot messier as we head out on a road trip through the A.L. West.  Texas, then 4 in Houston, then Oakland, with no days off (only to come home to the Dodgers and Astros again).

Oh yeah, by the way, we’re now 2.5 games behind Oakland for the second Wild Card spot.  Neat.  They say the best time to visit Sports Hell is in the summer, when the weather is nice, the people are content, and the baseball team is sucking a non-stop train of dicks.

The Seahawks Extended Duane Brown

I’ve been waiting to write about this until I saw the contract details, because really that’s all that hinges on my opinion of this extension.

Duane Brown has been a tremendous left tackle in the NFL for a lot of years.  He came into the league in 2008 with the Houston Texans, was a Pro Bowler for them from 2012-2014, and was first team All Pro in 2012 as well.  The Seahawks traded away a king’s ransom to bring him in halfway through 2017, and in spite of an ankle injury that set him back, he still somehow became a Pro Bowler at the age of 32.  He was heading into the final year of his deal in 2018, until the Seahawks decided to press their luck and see if we can squeeze a few more years out of him.

There’s a tremendous amount of risk when you sign a guy who will be 33 years old at the end of this month to a multi-year extension.  Now, obviously, some players are special, and they can play at a really high level well into their 30’s.  And, while it’s not quarterback or kicker or punter, left tackle is a position where you can see a lot of longevity.  As long as you avoid the dreaded knee injuries, it feels like guys can play forever (then, once that knee buckles the wrong way, it’s curtains almost right away, regardless of how many surgeries you endure).

The point is, I feel a lot better extending someone like Duane Brown than I do someone like Earl Thomas (particularly after seeing what happened to Kam and Avril last year).

But, still, there needs to be some protection for the team.  The last thing the Seahawks need is another albatross; they don’t need another guy making too much money who can’t stay on the field.  Fortunately, it looks like this deal accomplishes this.

Look, there’s risk that comes with every single free agent contract.  All it takes is one bad hit or one wrong step and your career could be over (or, at least, seriously shortened).  So, there was never going to be a way to do this extension completely risk-free.

For instance, obviously Brown was going to get his money in 2018.  On top of that, there’s an $8 million signing bonus that – for cap purposes – gets spread out over the entire four years he’s under contract to be with the Seahawks.  According to Over The Cap, part of his 2019 salary is guaranteed for injury (less than $2 million), so if he goes out and blows his ACL this year, we’re semi-protected going forward.  His 2019 salary is fully guaranteed on the 5th day of the league year (which, I think starts in March?), which also makes sense, because you’d figure AT THE VERY LEAST he’ll be good for this year and next, so long as he remains healthy.

Brown’s 2018 cap number is a little over $8 million; his 2019 cap number is $10.5 million; both very reasonable figures for a top-flight left tackle in this league.  Maybe even a bargain if he continues to play at a high level!  Which I don’t think is out of the question at all.  Brown’s status with the Seahawks gets a little more dicey after 2019, though.

He’s due a $1 million roster bonus on the 5th day of the league year in 2020.  He’s also got built-in bonuses for games played from 2019-2021.  His cap number for 2020 jumps up to $12.5 million which, again, is a bargain if he’s still playing at a high level.  But, if he slips, or the team wants to go in another direction, we can cut him prior to the 2020 league year and only have $4 million in dead money.  His cap number for the final year of the deal jumps again, to $13 million, with only $2 million in dead money at that time.

I’d say it’s a 99.99% guarantee that Brown isn’t here in 2021.  I’d say it’s probably 75% guarantee that he isn’t here in 2020 either.  My hunch is he’ll play through 2019 and that’ll be that.

Overall, it’s a fine deal for all involved.  The player is essentially betting on himself – which he’s smart to do – and it’s not SO prohibitive from a money perspective to consider maybe keeping him for the duration (again, assuming he out-plays his deal and keeps locking down that left side).  It’s not like those crazy balloon deals you see that erroneously inflate the overall total of a contract just to make the agent look better.  Every single team in the league would pay $13 million for a Pro Bowl left tackle, so if he’s still at that level in 2020, it’s not impossible for him to stick around through 2021.  He’d be 36 years old at the time, but guys have played in this league at that age.  It’s rare; they’re special human beings, but it still happens.

I agree with most everyone in the Seahawks orbit (media, fans, players), that it’s just nice to see the team really commit and devote some serious money to improving this offensive line.  Yes, they’ve devoted tons of draft picks to the problem, but rarely have they ponied up the cash.  With Brown and Britt in the fold, this line is shaping up to be – dare I say it – halfway decent?!