The 7th Most Important Seahawks Player After Russell Wilson: Chris Carson

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You can’t really have this list for the Seahawks without throwing a running back on there. I mean, we like to run! It’s what we gotta do!

I’ll be really interested in how this season goes with respect to our running back rotation. Chris Carson is still the unquestioned #1 back – at least in my mind – but by all accounts Rashaad Penny will be more than just a traditional #2.

Penny was a disappointment in so many ways during his rookie season, not the least of which because he was selected in the first round of the draft, when most people would argue against taking a running back earlier than the 4th round. Teams can and do find great running backs all up and down the draft (Carson himself was a 7th round pick), so it seems silly to waste a first rounder when there might be a more capable starter or prospect on the board.

Then, Penny injured his hand and missed a bunch of the pre-season. Then, he didn’t really play all that well when he got in games, finishing third on the team in rushing behind veteran Mike Davis (less than 50 yards ahead of our quarterback). Penny had 2 rushing TDs and only one 100-yard game. He did flash his big-play potential a small handful of times, but clearly that’s not what you expect from a running back you deem to be good enough to be selected in the first round. When it came out recently that Penny was out of shape, and didn’t really take things all that seriously in his first year in the pros, that was sort of the final nail in the coffin. He’s largely been written off as a bust really before his career has even gotten started.

To his credit, he appears to have rededicated himself. Now that he knows what it takes, he’s eating better and working smarter. Whether that translates to increased production on the field is something we’ll have to wait to see. Either way, with Davis now playing for the Bears, there’s no one standing in his way from increased playing time.

This is a post about Carson, and I’ve spent most of the time talking about his backup; let’s fix that.

The hand injury, being a rookie, being out of shape, none of it really would’ve mattered because the main reason why Penny didn’t play as much as we expected is because Carson was clearly the best running back on this team. Indeed, I would argue he was one of the most dynamic and impactful running backs in the league. His knock has always been – dating back to his college days – staying healthy.

Carson, unfortunately, saw his rookie year in 2017 cut short due to injury, and the team ultimately never recovered. With such a nadir, the Seahawks almost had no choice but to target the running back position high in last year’s draft, if for nothing else than to reasonably ensure we’d have healthy bodies available. Thankfully, we saw a MOSTLY healthy season out of Carson, and reaped the benefits accordingly. 1,151 yards, 4.7 yards per carry average, and 9 TDs in 14 games. If you offered me that right now for 2019, I’d gladly accept. I feel like his ceiling COULD be higher, but ultimately I don’t think I’ll ever trust him to be healthy for a full 16-game season (and, for that reason, he’d be the last person I’d ever give a second contract to).

I also don’t believe the Seahawks are actively looking to take his ceiling much higher than what he did in 2018. Oh sure, they’d gladly have him healthy for the full slate, but if both he and Penny avoid injury, I really do see 2019 as being a 50/50 timeshare.

So, why didn’t I list both of these guys in the subject of this post? Because when it’s all said and done, whereas I have more trust in Penny staying healthy, I have more trust in Carson as an every-down back WHEN he’s healthy, and I have more belief in his big-play ability. When he’s on the field and doing his thing, this offense is completely energized in a way that the other running backs couldn’t possibly approach. If we’re talking about a Seahawks team that’s going to legitimately contend for a Super Bowl in 2019, we’re talking about a team with an MVP quarterback, with some emerging stars coming from out of nowhere on defense … and Chris Carson doing his best Beastmode impression.

Getting through the 2018 season without a huge injury to rehab might be the best thing for 2019 Chris Carson’s chances. Here’s hoping that he was able to build himself up to endure for the long haul.

The 8th Most Important Seahawks Player After Russell Wilson: Rasheem Green

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I’m going out on a limb here, considering you probably have a good idea of where I’m gonna go with my top 7, if you give it just a tiny bit of thought. There were a lot of ways I could’ve taken this one, but ultimately too many of the players are akin to lottery picks. If this rookie blows up, then of course he enters into the discussion. Or, if that fringe roster guy lives up to his potential, then here we go!

As I noted when I wrote about Jacob Martin, this team is on the hunt for the player (or more likely, players) who will replace Frank Clark. Martin belongs on this list because he’s headed into his second season, and at three sacks in limited snaps, he showed solid promise for a rookie 6th round pick.

To contrast, Rasheem Green was unquestionably a disappointment as a rookie 3rd round pick (the second player we took in the draft, after another disappointment in Rashaad Penny). He played in only 10 games, recording just a single sack (one that I had completely forgotten about, against the Packers on Thursday Night), and overall not making much of an impact whatsoever. At no point did he appear to see his playing time increase, or make any strides at all in his development. So, why do I have him on this list at all?

Well, for starters, I know he’s going to be here. Barring injury, he’ll be part of the D-Line rotation, and with Clark gone (and others with question marks about their availability) there will be plenty of opportunity for him to show what he can do. There’s no better substitute for developing as a player than actual game reps, and this year he should have his fair share.

Also, I’m not gonna lie, that 3rd round status (#79 overall) really has my interest piqued. If you get drafted in the top three rounds, either you’re ready to play right away, or you’re a promising-enough development prospect to be given plenty of chances to succeed. From the moment he was selected (“way-too-early” per most pundits, naturally), Green was deemed to be more of a project. He left USC after his Junior year. He JUST turned 22 years old a couple months ago. I mean, you could argue he hadn’t even continued growing into his adult body! He certainly hadn’t developed into his ideal NFL body. Just getting through his rookie season alive, while getting a small slice of playing time in the process, is probably all we should’ve expected. Now that he’s had his rookie year and knows what it takes to be a professional – combined with the opportunity presented by the Seahawks’ roster construction – I fully expect a jump in his level of production.

His floor should be as a rotational player – sliding inside & outside – with a small handful of sacks. His ceiling is pretty tough to project, because if everything breaks right and he’s as good as everyone in the organization thought he could be when they reached for picked him, we could be talking about The Next Frank Clark. Maybe the power won’t necessarily be there in Year 2, but his ability to play anywhere on the line and being effective both against the run and pass, could bring shades of Early Frank Clark.

Jacob Martin is just a speed guy on the edge. Rasheem Green – if he pans out – could be so much more. That’s why he’s so important to the Seahawks in 2019.

As I’ve said before, the Seahawks have no guarantees heading into the season with regards to their pass rush. So, instead, they’re throwing as many promising young players into the mix as possible, just hoping that one or two of them hit it big.

Also, not for nothing, but Rasheem Green was a BEAST in the pre-season last year. 7 tackles, 1.5 sacks, and 3 QB hits against Indy; 6 tackles, 1.5 sacks, and 4 QB hits against the Chargers. I know, I know, pre-season success is NO precursor to regular season production, but it’s better than nothing. He at least showed up against the backups on a couple of playoff teams, and that’s as a 21 year old who some said could’ve been a high first round pick this year had he returned for his Senior year of college.

The 9th Most Important Seahawks Player After Russell Wilson: Jason Myers

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Look, I hate to do this to you on a Friday, but we’re talking about kickers.

Listen, kickers score points, and that’s the name of the game, right? Well, football is the name of the game, but the OBJECTIVE in that game is to score points. Last year, kickers accounted for 22 of the top 24 overall scorers in the NFL (see if you can guess the two non-kickers without looking; I’ll have the answer at the bottom of this post). Jason Myers was 7th on that list with 129 points. Kickers generally score anywhere from a quarter to a third of a team’s total points. So, you know, you can’t say they’re not important.

I would also point you to Exhibit B: the Seattle Seahawks. You know, the team we all love, for better or for worse? The team that loves to slow the game down, run the ball, and grind out victories? Last year, all but 5 of our games (including the playoffs) were one-score games (and those 5 games were all blowout victories by the Seahawks). Meaning, obviously, all of our losses were one-score games at the end. 8 of those games (including the playoffs) were by 3 points or less.

Now, I don’t remember offhand how many of those losses we could’ve blamed on the kicker, but I feel safe in saying the Seahawks did have a mediocre one in Sebastian Janikowski. He wasn’t terrible, but we definitely could’ve used an upgrade.

Of course, we can’t talk about the Jason Myers signing – 4 years, nearly $15.5 million, with $7 million guaranteed – without mentioning that the Seahawks had him in camp LAST year, on a much more team-friendly deal, and cut him in favor of the veteran. That doesn’t necessarily amount to a hill of beans, as that deal was still of the 1-year variety, so if he did just as good last year, we very well may have had to pay him a mint to keep him anyway. But, it does speak to the organization realizing their mistake and not compounding it with more bad decisions.

What the contract looks like, in reality, is a 2-year deal for $8.1 million and $2 million in dead money, as he’ll be set to earn $3.35 million and $4 million respectively in 2021 & 2022. A lot can happen in the next two seasons, but if he manages to earn that money through his elite play, then ranking him as the 9th most important Seahawk after Russell Wilson might be too LOW!

Also, if I may show you Exhibit C: Blair Walsh. You want to know what happens when you undervalue and underestimate the importance of a kicker? You get a mentally defective head case who actively costs you enough games to keep you out of the playoffs.

Now, I can’t really guarantee you Myers will be great. But, compared to the rest of the league, it’s not like the Seahawks are OVER paying this guy. Indeed, if he turns out to be one of the best in the league, then his contract is a bargain (you could even say we’d be playing with Hausch Money!!!). But, his career has been a little rocky to date. You might argue the Jags gave up on him too soon after some misses in 2017, as his first two seasons prior to that were pretty solid. He followed that up with a Pro Bowl 2018 with the Jets, where he made 33/36 field goals (including 16/18 from 40 yards or more) and 30/33 extra points. You could sign me up for that RIGHT NOW and I would gladly accept!

I love the fact that he’s got a booming leg and he’s fairly accurate from 50+. You know how conservative the Seahawks can get at the end of a game, when we just need a field goal to win it (or put it into overtime). It seems like once we get to midfield with 60-90 seconds left, we’re doing everything in our power to get into “field goal range”. As an aside, you know what’s also in field goal range? THE ENDZONE!

Anyway, while I can’t guarantee he’ll be great, I CAN guarantee that he’ll be important. Whether that’s “Bad Important” or “Good Important” is all up to him.

(also, in case you were playing along, the two non-kickers were Todd Gurley (5th in total points with 132) and Alvin Kamara (tied for 13th in total points with 114).)

The 10th Most Important Seahawks Player After Russell Wilson: David Moore

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With the retirement of Doug Baldwin, it’s pretty obvious who this team’s #1 receiver is going to be. But, every good offense needs a quality #2, and that’s where I believe David Moore comes in.

There are certainly other candidates on this roster right now. Some people might point to the promising offseason Jaron Brown has had. With a year under his belt in this system, and a few strong performances last year, he’s certainly a candidate to make a big leap in 2019. But, he’s a veteran and there’s money to be saved on his contract if we cut him, so I can’t very well have a bubble player on my list of the most important Seahawks after Russell Wilson!

I know a lot of fans have their eyes squarely on D.K. Metcalf, and I don’t blame you one bit! I’ll be eagerly awaiting his debut in the pre-season as much as anyone. But, he’s a rookie. While rookies certainly have their roles in this Brave New NFL World, by and large most rookies fall short of expectations, especially when you’re talking about those taken after the first half of the first round. Every year, there are a small handful of star rookies, a bigger selection of starters who have to endure growing pains, and a vast majority of role players who make their hay on Special Teams, or in various sub packages on offense or defense. Since I don’t really see Metcalf as anything more than a #4 receiver who will get in on various offensive sub packages, he definitely falls under that Role Player category.

That leaves us with David Moore, a 7th round pick in 2017 who didn’t really play at all his rookie season. That made his play through November of last year all the more impressive, when he brought down 22 catches for 413 yards and all 5 of his touchdowns. What’s given a lot of fans pause is his December, when he caught 4 balls on 16 targets, for 32 yards across 5 games.

Was it a fluke? Did the league figure him out? Did he tire in his first full active season in the NFL? Is he not as good as we thought he’d be? Was he injured?

I don’t know if I have answers for any of those questions, but I believe his career is still on its upward trajectory, and his overall 2018 production is just a start. He ended up finishing third in receiving on this team with 445 yards, and it wouldn’t shock me in the slightest to see him approach 800-900 yards and 8-11 touchdowns. Lockett will still get the overwhelming majority of attention from Russell Wilson, but he’ll also see opposing teams’ best cornerbacks. That should leave some pretty cushy opportunities for Moore to step right in as another big play receiver on a team that likes to push the ball deep down field.

With Baldwin gone, there are a ton of targets up for grabs. In his third professional season, David Moore figures to be in a prime position to gobble them up.

The 11th Most Important Seahawks Player After Russell Wilson: Jacob Martin

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You’re going to see a good number of defensive linemen on this list, because I’m trying to cast a wide net here. It’s a Numbers Game, bro! God willing, one or two of these guys will hit.

Jacob Martin is interesting to me for a number of reasons. For starters, there doesn’t appear to be anyone on the team quite like him; he’s a consummate ‘tweener. At 6’2, 242 pounds, he’s undersized when compared to guys like Collier, Ansah, and Green, but he’s slightly bigger than Shaquem Griffin and Barkevious Mingo, who are being tried out as rush ends from the linebacker position. Martin figures to be this team’s one true LEO end and I’m interested to see how often he’s deployed at that spot.

I think on paper, the starting D-Line in our base defense is supposed to feature Ansah, Reed, Ford, and Collier, with Collier being that Michael Bennett-type end on one side, and Ansah essentially being our Cliff Avril replacement. But, who knows if Collier will be ready for that much responsibility? Maybe someone like Rasheem Green takes that spot. Or, maybe Martin earns the lion’s share of playing time at LEO and that bumps Ansah to the other side of the line.

Martin was the better of the two rookie defensive ends last year, which is promising to me as we head into year two. 3 sacks as a rookie and a number of pressures, in what was essentially a part-time role, is a great foundation to build on. There’s a ton of opportunity here with Frank Clark playing in Kansas City, and aside from Ansah, the team hasn’t done much to replace him. That means the Seahawks are looking to do what they can to promote from within. So, at a minimum, I’d like to see Martin double his number of sacks. Anything approaching double digits will be gravy.

Now, the concern is that he’s a one-dimensional pass rusher. Can he hold his own against the run? And, does he have anything in his arsenal besides speed? Not that that’s a bad thing, but the more he plays, the more he’ll be exposed on tape. So, if he’s just got one or two moves, he’ll be easy to neutralize.

I’ll tell you what, though. With some sort of NASCAR package that features Martin, Reed, Green/Collier, and Ansah on the other side, I like the potential to wreak some havoc. Bottom line, without knowing Ansah’s injury status, there are going to be guys stepping into bigger roles on this team. There will be production coming from unforeseen areas. And I think Martin is as good a candidate as anyone to really pop in 2019.

The (Tied For) 12th Most Important Seahawks After Russell Wilson: Shaquill Griffin & Tre Flowers

Yeah, it’s a copout, but what are you gonna do?

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I can’t really rank one of these guys above the other, and I don’t want to bump anyone else out of my “top 12”, so this is the compromise (for what it’s worth, L.J. Collier is next in my Also Receiving Votes list, but I couldn’t justify putting any rookies on here, as my expectations are pretty low for this class, when it comes to just the 2019 season).

From a talent and production standpoint, I thought Griffin & Flowers were pretty even in 2018. While Flowers was a rookie – with Griffin in his second season – I believe that spells good things for Flowers going forward, as he could ultimately find himself as the superior player when it’s all said and done. Not knowing what we have in store, however, I have to rank these two equally and just see what happens.

The Seahawks need to see improvement from these guys. I would argue they were just okay last year, and given their ages that’s fine. But, that also (ideally) means there’s room for growth. The Greats will show a spike from their first year to the next. If we don’t start reading about some awesome things from these two in Training Camp, I’ll start to be worried. If they’re already as good as they’re gonna get, then this defense is in some trouble.

Scheme can only take you so far. The way the Seahawks play defense will always mitigate a lot of risk and hide the trouble spots. Preventing big plays, forcing teams to dink and dunk down the field, is a great way to keep your team in the game and give your offense time to get back into it. But, with no more Earl Thomas, and with the pass rush what it’s devolved into, there’s going to be more pressure on these corners to do their jobs. If a repeat of last year is what we’ve got in store, then I’m concerned about our chances to compete for a playoff spot.

The good news is, again, they’re young. On top of that, 2018 was Griffin’s first year on the left side of the field in our scheme, so hopefully there were some growing pains to get over. Regardless, he sounds pretty motivated to take his game to another level, which I guess beats the alternative.

The bad news is, we’re pretty lean at the cornerback spot after these two guys. Akeem King seems to be the next man up, and after that I don’t know. There’s a lot left to shake out, depthwise, but none of it is all that inspiring if Griffin or Flowers get hurt.

The 12 Most Important Seahawks (After Russell Wilson)

With the Mariners being who they are, it’s not easy to want to write about sports in Seattle during these lean summer months. So, here’s a contrived excuse to write about the Seahawks! You’ve seen these everywhere else, and now I’m doing it as well: let’s rank the most important Seahawks as we head into the 2019 season!

It’s all subjective, so take my rankings with a grain of salt. The idea is: I’m not ranking them by who’s BEST, but rather who needs to be healthy and on top of his game for this team to exceed expectations. Obviously, if I were simply ranking the best Seahawks, Bobby Wagner would be listed in the top 2, instead of where he ended up (spoiler alert: the Seahawks are more stacked at the linebacker position than any other, so it’s not necessarily a must that he be in there at all times, though obviously I would never wish ill on our defensive captain).

And, since I’m doing this as a countdown, there would be no suspense whatsoever if I didn’t get Russell Wilson out of the way from the jump. We all know what the quarterback means to the game of football, and we all know how much Russ in particular means to the success of this team.

But, in case you didn’t, I’ll get into it here.

Russell Wilson isn’t just the most important Seahawks player, but he might be more important to our team than any player is to his respective team in the entire league. I know that wouldn’t make a lot of sense to fans outside of our Seattle bubble, when you factor in how little he actually throws the ball. But, as we ’round these parts know, that makes Wilson’s accuracy and big play ability all the more vital. If he weren’t as efficient as he is, this offense would be a total disaster!

Now, once you take into account the holes on this roster – primarily in the pass rush – I’m firmly of the belief that the offense will need to carry a bigger share of the burden. And, while we’re still talking about a run-first game plan, Wilson will still be the one running the show. After all, we’re going to need SOMEONE to convert all those third downs after we run it on first & second down!

We, as Seahawks fans, have some hard truths to swallow as we head into the 2019 season. First and foremost, the fact that this isn’t a championship team. Even in our best case scenario, we’re probably a year away (at least). I just feel like there’s too much to overcome, which really isn’t what we’re supposed to be thinking. After 2017 was such a disaster (relatively speaking), the Seahawks overcame expectations to make it back to the playoffs last year; as such, you’d think things are trending in the right direction! But, there are lots of arguments indicating the Seahawks overachieved last year, and if regression rears its ugly head, we could be looking at somewhat of a step back. I don’t think this team is any worse than 8-8, but I also worry that a 9-7 or even a 10-6 team might get blocked out of a Wild Card berth with a pretty stacked NFC.

It’s with that frame of mind that I return to the subject of Russell Wilson. For this team to remain good, we’ll need all the magic he’s got. And, who knows? Maybe the Seahawks will shock me again and really take a huge step forward! I mean, we never saw that stretch run in 2012 coming, until all of a sudden we were blessed with the best team in football for about 5-6 weeks. If Wilson plays at an MVP level, then I do think there’s an outside shot at this team vying for another Super Bowl appearance. He’s just that good, and he makes those around him that much better.

So, going forward, I’ll have 12 more posts about the 12 Most Important Seahawks After Russell Wilson. Except, it’s a total cop-out, because I have two players tied for 12th, which means – including Russell Wilson – I’ll have written about the 14 Most Important Seahawks. But, 14 has no relevance whatsoever to our Seahawks fandom (unless you’re a big Rick Tuten fan), so you get what you get. Feel free to bookmark this page, as I’ll update it with links below as those posts are written:

  1. Chris Carson
  2. Rasheem Green
  3. Jason Myers
  4. David Moore
  5. Jacob Martin
  6. Shaquill Griffin & Tre Flowers (tied)

As We All Expected Heading Into This Season, Daniel Vogelbach Is The Mariners’ All Star Representative

What a crazy year, huh? I mean, seriously, who saw THIS coming? Knowing what we knew about Vogey heading into the season, I’ll just say this: I don’t think I ever anticipated affectionately calling him Vogey! I didn’t think I’d be affectionately calling him ANYTHING!

Even if you saw this team being terrible, and even if you predicted that we’d already ship off our veteran bats by now, there were still plenty of other candidates ahead of Vogey heading into the season, with Mitch Haniger at the very top of the list. He was, after all, an All Star last year. Plus, “outfield” is the biggest position on the team, so it would’ve been easy to sneak him on as a reserve. Much harder to make it as a quote/unquote first baseman (which is where Vogey’s listed, per the MLB website).

I’ll be honest, I didn’t really give it much thought up until now, mostly because I never REALLY cared. If I had to guess at what I would’ve guessed heading into the season, I probably would’ve just banked on some pitcher coming from out of nowhere to have super low numbers and ultimately never making it into the actual All Star Game.

This is MUCH more interesting! Now, invite Vogey to participate in the Home Run Derby and I might actually watch the fucking thing!

That’s all that’s left to look forward to in my book. He’s tied for 17th in all of baseball with 20 homers, which is enough. Not all of those players are in the game in the first place, so that really whittles things down. But, I would argue (mostly sight unseen) that Vogey has had a higher rate of impact with his dingers. It always seems like he’s hitting these bombs late in games to pull the team back into it (if only for the bullpen to gag it away again). It’s that hardly-quantifiable clutchness factor that, I believe, sets him apart.

Also: Big Man Hit Ball Really Hard. For entertainment’s sake, let’s get this man a slot in the Derby!

If I had to project his chances – should they invite him in – I’d say Vogey will either wilt quietly in the first round, hitting lots of disappointing liners and pop ups … or he’ll make it all the way to the finals and (perhaps) win the whole fuckin’ thing. If I were a betting man (and you know that I am), I’d put a good chunk of cash on Vogey coming out he victor.

Of Course The Mariners Can’t Even Tank Properly!

I returned from my big Clusterfest weekend dismayed to find the Mariners have gone on a little run of late, winning 5 of 6, including 3 of 4 against the very worst team in baseball, the Baltimore Orioles.

The Mariners are 36-47, which is still hilarious when you factor in our infamous 13-2 start to the season. But, it’s also ridiculously close to .500, particularly when you consider how bad this team has looked for the majority of this season. The Orioles – on the other hand – are a whopping 22-57! They’re doing everything within their power to lose and lose often; the Mariners, on the other hand, still seem to be straddling the fence.

Always and forever on the fence.

I guess it should be noted that there’s no one way to (re)build a franchise, but I think I can take a stab at it, based on who’s currently leading the way in the standings in 2019. Up in the top half of the league, we’re talking about a bunch of teams who were bad for a spell, drafted well, developed their stars, and when it was time to compete, beefed up their team salary with free agents and/or trade acquisitions to put them over the top. That’s not a tried & true formula for every single team; I don’t remember the Yankees or Red Sox really bottoming out, and likewise I don’t recall the Rays or Athletics ever spending ANY money ever. But, the point is, you never see teams middling their way to the top, which is what the Mariners are trying to do and it’s what they’ve done since their inception back in the 70’s.

Once the Mariners got REALLY bad in 2004, they should’ve immediately reversed course, dumped everyone, and gone for a full rebuild. Instead, heading into the 2005 season, the Mariners dropped huge gobs of money into the pockets of Richie Sexson and Adrian Beltre (massive overpays for both, as Beltre never approached his 2004 season with the Dodgers, and Sexson was a gigantic drain for this franchise by the time his contract expired in 2008) and the rest is history.

The Mariners have been really unlucky in the last two decades to boot. In years where they were supposed to be bad, they competed out of nowhere; in years where they were supposed to be competitive, they’ve generally flatlined. It’s hard to want to stick to a plan when expectations are defied so often. I mean, what do you do when you resign yourself to sucking, only to find yourself in the thick of breaking a generational playoff-less streak?

But, it’s that very mode of thinking that’s torpedoed this franchise. Not having the wherewithal and the guts to stick with a plan. It’s why this team has churned through managers like a rabid dog with a T-bone steak. It’s why general managers have made panic move after panic move, forever in a reactive position based seemingly on emotions and the whims of an erratic ownership group.

If you look at the top half of baseball, there are the usual suspects, but then there are teams like the Twins, Astros, Indians, Braves, Cubs, Rangers, Brewers, Phillies, and Rockies. Teams clearly trending in the right direction, and teams who underwent massive rebuilds in recent years. Those teams used to be DREADFUL, and now they’re among the best. You don’t HAVE to be the Red Sox or Yankees or Dodgers to compete at a high level; you just need to be smart and have a plan and GOD DAMMIT STICK TO THAT PLAN.

Okay. So, let’s say the Mariners finally have a plan. Let’s say 2019 is the first true rebuild in God knows how long. It’s still not the kind of rebuild I believe this team needs, nor is it even a rebuild that makes any sense. “Stepping back” in 2019 to be in contention by (hopefully) 2021 just isn’t realistic. Not when you’re talking about needing to fill 10/12 spots on a Major League pitching staff, including 100% of the bullpen. Not when you’re talking about a dearth of quality pitching in the high minors. Not when you JUST spent an inordinate amount of draft picks this year on replenishing your pitching (when those guys won’t be ready for the Bigs until 2022 at the VERY earliest).

The Mariners believe they currently roster – at the Major League level – players who will be part of the “Next Great Mariners Team”. Guys like Haniger, Gonzales, and Kikuchi. Maybe guys like Vogelbach, Santana, Narvaez, Mallex Smith, and J.P. Crawford. I’ll tell you right now, every single one of those guys have considerable flaws to their games, so you tell me: will the Mariners be competitive by 2021 or 2022? If so, how many of those players will still be on this roster?

The M’s are still the 6th worst team in baseball at the time of this writing, but there are at least 5 teams just ahead of them that will be vying for a Top 10 draft pick by season’s end. At this point, the Orioles, Royals, Tigers, Blue Jays, and Marlins all look like locks to make the Bottom 5 (our only hope is that the Orioles/Jays & Royals/Tigers are in the same divisions, so they play one another 19 times this year). Meanwhile, with how well the hitting has been at times, I could easily see the Mariners slide outside of the Top 10, at which point winning is doing more harm than good.

Then again, it’s not necessarily where you draft, but rather how you develop. That’s the biggest key to success in baseball, over everything else. Based on that, I’m just wasting my words on this team, because the Mariners have to rank among the worst in the game at development. You can hang bad luck on a few players, but the overwhelming majority of Mariners prospects have been just plain bad.

Is Russell Wilson The Greatest Dual-Threat Quarterback Of All Time?

The first thing we have to ask is: what constitutes a true Dual-Threat Quarterback? I think it’s pretty easy to whittle things down on the Eye Test alone. For starters, we’re talking about quarterbacks who can also run with the football. So, we’re not talking about the greatest Running Quarterback, because if you looked at just the 2018 season, you’d have to say Lamar Jackson was the best Running Quarterback in the league. But, Dual-Threat means he can beat you with his legs AND his arm, and it’s pretty safe to say Jackson hasn’t built up that arm half of his game just yet.

So, I went into Pro Football Reference and played around with the numbers. First, I separated all the quarterbacks into a list of those who’ve run for 1,000 yards in their careers. But, that’s not quite good enough, because Tom Brady has 1,003 rushing yards in his career, and he is NOBODY’S idea of a Dual-Threat. So, I went ahead and bumped it up to 1,500 career rushing yards (mostly to knock him the hell off of a GOAT list, because he has enough GOATs in his life).

When you list them by rushing yards, you’ll find someone by the name of Tom Matte, who is listed as a quarterback and a running back. Among all quote-unquote Quarterbacks in NFL history, Matte has the 4th highest rushing yards total with 4,646. But, he only threw for 246 yards, so he’s obviously got to go. To be considered as the Greatest Dual-Threat Quarterback Of All Time, I figure at a minimum you need 20,000 passing yards. That drops our total from 53 to 38, which is a number I can get behind.

Such a list includes favorites like Jim Zorn, Andrew Luck, Joe Montana, Warren Moon, Archie Manning, and even Ryan Fitzpatrick! But, it also includes such stiffs as Vinny Testaverde, Boomer Esiason, Jay Cutler, Johnny Unitas, and Brett Favre. While they’re all pretty good-to-great, I don’t think you’d ever fear for your life if they were running with the football. Those guys mostly just hung around long enough to qualify for my arbitrary cutting-off point.

So, to whittle it down further, I had to put a limit on Yards Per Game. Yards Per Attempt isn’t worth a damn for a quarterback, because most guys scramble once or twice per game, and with the defense not expecting it, they tend to rack up a lot of garbage yards in the process. We need to focus on guys opposing defenses are specifically game-planning for. Setting it at 10 yards per game gets us down to 30 guys, and just barely keeps Jim Zorn on the list. But, it also keeps Jay Cutler on the list, and I just can’t have that. So, I increased it to a minimum of 13 yards per game, which also managed to cut off Joe Theismann, Ken Anderson, and Mark Brunell (who had 12.5 yards per game). While I like Brunell an awful lot, I don’t mind lopping him off because I don’t think he belongs in the conversation.

1,500 career rushing yards, 20,000 career passing yards, and 13 rushing yards per game put us at 25 quarterbacks. But, a couple of names still bothered me, because mediocre quarterbacks like Jeff Blake and Aaron Brooks were still hanging around. So, I made the cutoff 22,000 passing yards, and we’re left with a Top 23. This fits better with my idea of a Dual-Threat Quarterback.

For what it’s worth, I was going to be more strict with the Rushing Yards Per Game, and set it at 20, to really separate the wheat from the chaff, but that ended up cutting off guys like John Elway, Fran Tarkenton, Roger Staubach, and Aaron Rodgers. While I don’t consider A-Rod to be a “running quarterback” per se, he’s still lumped into that Dual-Threat mold, even though his arm is VASTLY superior to his running ability (I’d put it at somewhere like 90/10, or 80/20 at the very most). And, while Elway certainly slowed down on running in his old age, you just can’t have this conversation without him.

There are a number of ways to go about ranking these guys, but I’m just going to go by Who I Would Most Want On My Football Team, at the beginning of their careers, for the duration of their careers.

I’m also going to split them up even further, because ultimately I have a Top 4 REAL Dual-Threat Quarterbacks.

There’s no perfect way to rank these guys, because all of the ones in the aforementioned Top 23 are much more passers than runners. But, I would argue that the vast majority of them are more “scramblers” than actual threats to run downfield with the football. So, if I had to pick a Top 10, I would definitely include guys like Andrew Luck (10), Donovan McNabb (9), Steve McNair (8), Fran Tarkenton (7), John Elway (6), and Aaron Rodgers (5). Those guys have a ton of rushing yards, pretty solid Yards Per Game averages, and a ton of passing yards. But, to me, they’re not REAL Dual-Threat Quarterbacks in the sense I’m defining here.

Just outside my Top 10, I might add, we have Alex Smith, who I wouldn’t have expected to show up here, except he has over 34,000 passing yards, over 2,600 rushing yards, and averages over 15 rushing yards per game. I’m also leaving out Michael Vick, because his passing game was far too weak to be considered, even though he leads all QBs in total and per game rushing yards.

My Top 4 includes Randall Cunningham (4) and Cam Newton (3). I LOVE me some QB Eagles, and if their careers both ended today, he’d actually rank ahead of Cam. But, given Cam’s age and the fact that he has so much left in the tank, he’s easily the superior option. Even though I don’t love the way he reacts in losing situations, it would be idiotic to keep Newton outside of the Top 3.

My Top 2 should come as no surprise. In some order, it’s Russell Wilson and Steve Young. Young has over 33,000 passing yards, over 4,200 rushing yards, and over 25 yards per game. He’s right in that sweet spot of elite passer and elite runner, and if you just count his prime (from 1991-1998), you’re talking about eight Hall of Fame seasons where he averaged nearly 4,000 passing yards and 28 passing touchdowns, with an average of over 400 rushing yards and 5 rushing touchdowns. I mean, just unstoppable production, and his total career could’ve been so much better if he A) wasn’t saddled behind Joe Montana for so long, and B) didn’t succumb to head injuries (among other maladies) late in his career.

So, if we’re just talking about today, I have Steve Young at #1 and Russell Wilson #2, but it won’t be too much longer before Russell Wilson is the All Time Greatest Dual-Threat Quarterback, with Cam Newton coming in at #2 (in other words, we’re watching the two greatest Dual-Threat Quarterbacks while they’re in their primes, and that’s pretty amazing).

Not for nothing, but if you compare Young’s best 7 years to Wilson’s only 7 years, you can see what I’m talking about:

  • Steve Young 1992-1998: 24,266 passing yards, 178 TDs, 68 INTs, 66.9% completions; 2,450 rushing yards, 29 TDs, 5.8 yards per attempt
  • Russell Wilson 2012-2018: 25,624 passing yards, 196 TDs, 63 INTs, 64.2% completions; 3,651 rushing yards, 16 TDs, 5.7 yards per attempt

As I said, it’s only a matter of time before Wilson surpasses him in all career numbers. And, considering Wilson’s best statistical years might still be ahead of him, it could be sooner than we think.

Finally, I know nobody likes talking about superficial things QB Winzzz or Pro Bowl/Playoff appearances, but I’m sorry, you just can’t have this discussion without bringing those into the mix. Young’s record as a 49ers quarterback was 91-33 over 13 years; Wilson is 75-36-1. Young was in 7 Pro Bowls to Wilson’s 5, and he was on 3 First All Pro Teams to Wilson’s 0. Young has 14 Playoff Games Started to Wilson’s 13, with an 8-6 record to Wilson’s 8-5. Young, of course, has 3 rings to Wilson’s 1, but two of Young’s were as a backup to Montana. Finally, Young has 2 MVPs to Wilson’s 0, and 1 Super Bowl MVP to Wilson’s 0. Wilson is RIGHT THERE in so many areas, but just not quite over the hump.

Not yet, that is.