2020 Could Be More Of A Disaster For The Mariners Than We Originally Expected

The obvious discussion around this year’s Mariners squad has been: WHO CARES how the Major League club does, because it’s all about the prospects in the minor leagues developing into future stars! But, what happens if there are no minor league games this year?

SIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIGGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

That’s the rumor, anyway, and I find it pretty credible. The Major Leagues, of course, are also at risk of not having a season – if the teams and the players’ union can’t get on the same page regarding compensation – but with various TV deals, combined with players probably wanting to make SOME money in 2020, I find it hard to believe we won’t see professional baseball this year. But, the minors don’t have TV deals. They rely on ticket sales, among presumably other things (including money from the parent club, I’m assuming). And, if fans aren’t allowed to congregate in minor league stadia, then what’s the financial incentive for minor league organizations to field teams?

It already wasn’t going to be an ideal situation, considering at the very least we would be talking about a drastic reduction in games played; so the Mariners already won’t be getting the usual complement of time for their prospects to develop. The best way to develop, of course, is playing actual baseball games; they can throw scrimmages and whatnot in extended spring training, I suppose, but without that juice of real competition, I just don’t see what teams will be able to glean from this.

Even if – in some alternate universe – this baseball season had gone according to plan, we’d still be talking about the major sports franchise in North America with the longest playoff drought being – AT BEST – two years away from legitimately competing for a playoff spot (regardless of whatever rules changes are implemented to increase our chances). Now, go ahead and throw away a year’s worth of development, tack on however many years on top of that as minor league players get rusty without game action from this lay-off and need to readjust to playing again (and getting back into game shape, and recover from whatever injuries they develop as they TRY to get back into game shape, as well as whatever variables I’m incapable of seeing at the moment), and what do we have? 2024 or 2025 as the first seasons this Mariners rebuild MIGHT be playoff ready?

This post-season drought will probably be able to rent an automobile by the time the Mariners see the playoffs again!

What’s worse than any of it is the fact that we’ll be losing a season’s worth of team control for all these guys. For an organization that’s always been at least medium-tight fisted with their money, that’s not nothing! Of course, having our prospects develop into superstars who command big-money contracts is a good problem to have, but it obviously hampers us in filling in the roster around those guys with veteran free agents/trade acquisitions, as the Mariners don’t have the flexibility that the Yankees, Red Sox, or Dodgers choose to have (by being more willing to spend tons more money).

Things, of course, have to go about as perfectly as possible when you’re talking about teams competing for a World Series title. But, some teams are able to overcome a few misfires in personnel, whereas the Mariners straddle a fine line by never REALLY giving it their 100% all when it comes to pushing to be a championship-winning ballclub. So, things like not having a minor league season hurts us more than most.

I know Rays and A’s fans aren’t feeling too sorry for us, but at least they’ve had the benefit of rooting for organizations who don’t have their heads completely up their own asses when it comes to drafting and developing players! At least they’ve had a WHIFF of success at the Major League level a few times in the last 20+ years!

The Seahawks Signed Carlos Hyde Instead

I wrote about not wanting the Seahawks to sign Devonta Freeman last week, so you could say this one-year deal for Carlos Hyde is a good thing. Forgetting money for a moment, practically speaking, signing Freeman probably would’ve been a disaster. After two very productive seasons in 2015 and 2016, it looks pretty clearly like Freeman is breaking down. He hasn’t been able to play in more than 14 games in any single season since then (with a 2-game campaign in 2018 really crushing his value), and last year he averaged a career-worst 3.6 yards per carry. It’s hard not to like his dual-threat capabilites as a pass-catcher out of the backfield – when he’s healthy – but once you start seeing this type of slide in a running back’s career, it’s pretty rare that they ever turn it around in any sort of significant way.

When you’re looking at the Seahawks, they have certain needs at the running back position that Freeman just doesn’t fit in his current condition. Chris Carson – as I’ve mentioned repeatedly – is our #1 running back. He’s set to earn the lion’s share of carries as an elite-level back in the league. But, he and our previous #2 – Rashaad Penny – are both injury-prone. The man we brought in to fill out the running back room needs to NOT be injury-prone; that, quite frankly, rules out Freeman.

Now, obviously, Carlos Hyde isn’t ideal here either. He’s missed some games. He’s also a lower-ceiling guy compared to Freeman. In a vacuum, when both players are in peak physical condition, Freeman is the better back. But, I see Hyde as the more-reliable, more-durable player. Hyde can play through injury and be more productive doing so. It’s a long season, guys get banged up and have to withstand nagging bruises and strains and whatnot. Hyde seems like a guy who will still give you everything he’s got; Freeman seems like more of a diva who’s more likely to sit out or otherwise dog it on the field if the conditions aren’t perfect.

Hyde also, not for nothing, has a similar hard-nosed running style to Carson, so if our starter goes down, I don’t expect we’ll miss a beat at all.

I’ve always really liked Hyde. I don’t think he’s gotten a fair shake in this league. The 49ers, for some reason, never seemed to want to commit to him, opting to bring in a bevy of mediocre running backs. They often tried to feature those mediocre guys when Hyde was clearly out-playing them, which made no sense to me! It’s even more mind-boggling to me that he’s bounced around so much; the Seahawks will be his fourth team in three seasons. He’s such a Seahawky-type of guy it’s unbelievable we didn’t bring him in sooner!

I don’t know all the contract details, but it sounds like a 1-year contract that will be worth UP TO $4 million. Which means, there’s likely a base deal between $2-3 million, with incentives that would elevate it based on playing time and production. That’s probably a fair deal for a guy like Hyde. You don’t necessarily WANT him to see all of those incentives reached – because that probably means Carson will have gotten hurt again – but it’s comforting to know he’s here just in case.

In an ideal world, of course, Hyde wouldn’t be here at all. You’d roll with Carson, Homer, and Dallas and utilize those salary cap savings elsewhere. For as much as the Seahawks love to get young players involved early, they seem to be hyper-cautious about trusting young running backs. I thought Homer looked pretty good in limited playing time last year as a rookie. From what it sounds like, Dallas is supposedly the best blocking running back in this year’s draft. Rashaad Penny is SUPPOSED to return from injury at some point during the regular season, so there’s another set of fresh legs to help us in the stretch run!

But, that’s a lot of if’s. At this point, no one should count on Carson playing in every single game. Homer probably tops out as a backup running back in any prospect projection. And, Dallas is a rookie; unless he’s taken in the top 15, I don’t know if I’d EVER trust a rookie completely. Plus, Penny’s injury is very serious, and a lot of times guys returning from ACL tears don’t look the same the next season (it often takes two years to return to normal again), with a high rate of re-injury to that or another body part in their rush to return to game action.

So, figure Hyde is a $4 million insurance policy. With the added bonus of being someone who can step onto the field at any point this season and help this offense move the ball. He’s a veteran who will be another positive leader for the younger guys to emulate, but he’s not so old that it feels like a novelty (which, let’s face it, is what Marshawn Lynch would be at this point).

Plus, I mean, it’s not like Lynch is going anywhere. If he continues to stay in shape, there’s nothing stopping us – at any point during the regular season – from re-signing him and throwing him back into the fire like we did in 2019.

How Many Starters Have The Seahawks Drafted In The Previous Ten Years?

On the Brock & Salk podcast this week, they were talking to Daniel Jeremiah who made an interesting point about the NFL Draft. He said that every team’s goal should be to select three starters in every draft, ideally with one of those players being true blue chippers. You can define “starter” and “blue chipper” in any number of ways; I think as you’ll see, I’m pretty generous.

For example, I would count Nickel Corner among the “starters” because they play such a high percentage of snaps (usually). I would also count #2 tight ends, because the Seahawks value that position so highly (I would not, however, count #2 running backs, oddly enough; so you won’t see Robert Turbin on here). I’m also not counting players the Seahawks drafted who would go on to have more successful careers elsewhere (so, no Mark Glowinski or Spencer Ware among my picks); if they weren’t starters for the Seahawks, then I’m not interested. I don’t care about “hit rate” unless it applies to the team I love.

The discussion, of course, centers around how GREAT the Seahawks were at drafting from 2010-2012, contrasted with how TERRIBLE they’ve been from 2013 onward. So, without further ado, let’s a-DO this!

2010-2012: The Good Years

2010

  • Russell Okung (LT)
  • Earl Thomas (FS)
  • Golden Tate (WR)
  • Walter Thurmond (CB)
  • Kam Chancellor (SS)

2011

  • James Carpenter (LG)
  • K.J. Wright (LB)
  • Richard Sherman (CB)
  • Byron Maxwell (CB)
  • Malcolm Smith (LB)

2012

  • Bruce Irvin (DE/LB)
  • Bobby Wagner (LB)
  • Russell Wilson (QB)
  • Jeremy Lane (CB)
  • J.R. Sweezy (RG)

What a murderer’s row! That’s not even factoring in such quality starters/blue chippers as undrafted free agents Doug Baldwin, DeShawn Shead, and Jermaine Kearse! You can see why this team went to back-to-back Super Bowls; those are three drafts that produced 15 starters, with 8 of them being real blue chippers (Okung, Earl, Tate, Kam, K.J., Sherm, BWagz, and Russ) on top of, again, blue chipper Doug and two more starting-calibre players.

Now, you can nitpick, of course. Malcolm Smith might be the biggest stretch, but in base defense as a strongside linebacker he made some impact plays (and, of course, was MVP of the Super Bowl, so give me a break!). Lane and Thurmond were both nickel corners. And, some of these guys took a couple years before they developed into starters. Nevertheless, all of these guys made significant impacts on the Seahawks’ success for our glory years.

2013-2016: The Bad Years

2013

  • Luke Willson (TE)

2014

  • Justin Britt (C)

2015

  • Frank Clark (DE)
  • Tyler Lockett (WR)

2016

  • Germain Ifedi (RT)
  • Jarran Reed (DT)

That’s truly NOT GREAT! Frank Clark is arguably the best player on this list, and he’s not even on the team anymore because we didn’t see him as worthy of a contract at the top of the market. Lockett is probably the guy who panned out the best for us, given that we were able to extend him to a reasonable second contract (that he continues to out-play every time he steps on the field). Luke Willson is a HUGE stretch, because he’s only been a de facto #1 tight end when the guys ahead of him got injured; otherwise he’s at-best a #2. Britt and Ifedi you could argue were overpaid busts. Reed is still around, but obviously wasn’t able to capitalize on his one great year due to being suspended for domestic violence.

2017-2019: The We’ll See Years

2017

  • Shaquill Griffin (CB)
  • Chris Carson (RB)

2018

  • Will Dissly (TE)
  • Tre Flowers (CB)
  • Michael Dickson (P)

2019

  • D.K. Metcalf

Before we talk about these guys, I have one holdover from the 2016 draft – Joey Hunt – who became a starter for a large chunk of the 2019 season, but I’m hesitant to want to elevate him on my list unless he wins the center job out of camp in 2020. That might make the 2016 draft look marginally better, but still I don’t know if anyone expects Hunt to be here long-term.

Anyway, it’s pretty early to make definitive proclamations about the 2017-2019 drafts, but it’s encouraging that I’ve listed the same number of players here that I did for the FOUR drafts preceeding them. Griffin and Dickson have already made Pro Bowls (though, Dickson almost feels like cheating since he’s a punter). Dissly looks as good as any tight end in football when he’s healthy, as does Carson among running backs. And, D.K. really broke out as a rookie last year, looking like a stud for many years to come.

You can probably close the book on the rest of the 2017 draft; none of the guys I left off look like they’ll be anything of note for the Seahawks. There’s marginal hope for a couple others from 2018. Rasheem Green has the highest upside, and figures to get a lot of playing time this year along the defensive line. He’s sort of a default starter for the Seahawks; we’ll see if he’s able to do anything with the opportunity. Tre Flowers – while it looks like he’ll lose his starting job to newcomer Quinton Dunbar (assuming he’s formally acquitted of robbery charges, AND isn’t suspended by the team/league) – still figures to be well involved in the defense. Also, if he can stay healthy and play well, Jamarco Jones has a higher ceiling than we might’ve originally expected.

As for 2019, there are a lot of hopefuls. L.J. Collier will get a long look this season. Marquise Blair hopes to win one of the starting safety jobs (and could also figure in the Big Nickel package, against the more difficult tight ends on our schedule). Cody Barton could eventually start at one of the outside linebacker spots if he plays his cards right (looking less likely, of course, with who the Seahawks drafted last month). Phil Haynes might win a starting spot on the offensive line in his second season. And, with a VERY outside chance, who knows? Maybe John Ursua takes over as this offense’s primary slot receiver!

As for the 2020 draft, all we can do is speculate. Jordyn Brooks figures to be a starter one day soon. Damien Lewis might be a starter from day one. And, everyone hopes Darrell Taylor gets a lot of play early at defensive end. Also, Colby Parkinson will have every opportunity to be this team’s #2 tight end as early as 2021.

So, it’s been a real rollercoaster over the last decade! Here’s hoping things are finally trending back in the right direction over the last 3-4 drafts. The one thing that worries me is the lack of blue chippers since 2013. From The Bad Years, I count only two from those four drafts (Clark & Lockett). From The We’ll See Years … again, we’ll see. D.K. seems like the safest bet. Griffin, I guess, you have to put in there (though, compared to blue chippers of seasons past, he doesn’t quite live up). Dickson, again, feels like cheating, but okay he counts. Carson and Dissly are definite blue chippers when healthy, but they both feel like incompletes.

The argument from 2013-2016 was that the Seahawks had so many great players from the previous three years that it was exceedingly difficult for younger guys to break through. That has, decidedly, not been as much of a problem over the last three seasons, particularly on defense where it’s been trending downward for half a decade. 2020 will be VERY interesting, because I don’t see too many sacred cows on this roster (again, particularly on defense). What I think is interesting is that the Seahawks don’t seem to be NEARLY as concerned with the defensive line as the fans are, which leads me to wonder what they know that we don’t. We have lots of stats and anecdotal information at our disposal, but they’re obviously embedded with these players fairly intimately. They get to see what these guys are capable of in practice, as well as talk to them and get into their heads.

Long story short: the team almost always knows more than the fans and “experts” do. So, maybe they’ll be right. Maybe we don’t need someone like Clowney because guys like Green, Collier, and Taylor will take huge steps forward! I remember fans being similarly up in arms in the early years of this regime, when a lot of the younger guys in the secondary won their jobs over established veterans. We were freaking out, but the Legion Of Boom proved us all to be pretty foolish. I hope we’re in for something like that again!

Seahawks, Please DO NOT Sign Devonta Freeman

I’ll say it: at ANY price!

Look, I get it (I guess). Rashaad Penny is injured and likely to start the season on the PUP list. Our current running back room looks like: Chris Carson, Travis Homer, DeeJay Dallas, and the rest. Carson, obviously, has never met a football season that didn’t kick him in the testicles with some injury or another. Homer is heading into his second season and in a brief tryout late in 2019 as the starter, didn’t appear to be anything special. Dallas is obviously an incoming rookie without the aid of a Training Camp to get any sort of look at him within the confines of our offensive scheme. We (sort of) need a veteran backup to plug in there, just in case Carson goes down.

Marshawn Lynch’s name was bandied about recently (which is always fun, because Beastmode rules), and he would certainly fit what we (the fans) are looking for: cool dude, inexpensive, great in goalline situations, good teammate, and willing to play backup to someone like Carson who – at this point in their respective careers – is clearly the better of the two. I don’t see ONE good reason not to go with Lynch and call it a day.

But, this is the Seahawks we’re talking about. They’re incapable of not turning over every single stone in hopes of trying to find the perfect fit.

I’ll be the first to admit I don’t know the names of all the free agent running backs out there, but I’m assuming there are a lot of them. Carlos Hyde was another name referenced yesterday, and again, GREAT! He was a 1,000-yard rusher last year, averaged 4.4 yards per attempt with the Texans, will be heading into his age-30 season, and most importantly doesn’t figure to cost a FUCKING arm and a leg!

To be fair, I could be wrong on that score. Maybe he is looking for upwards of $4-5 million like Devonta Freeman. If so, I’m sorry, but no.

Freeman – of the titular Devonta Freeman from this blog post – is even younger than Hyde. He’s also been significantly worse than Hyde the last three years; he hasn’t had a 1,000-yard season since 2016! Injuries have decimated his value, so the fact that he’s looking for a $5 million deal is hilarious to me. NO! Do NOT do this!

Let me just say this for the record: none of the free agent running backs on the market at the time of this writing are worth ANYTHING over $2 million dollars. You want to know the bar? Chris Carson is set to earn $2.133 million in the final year of his deal this season. He deserves to be the highest-paid running back on this team, because he’ll be the starter heading in and is – when healthy – one of the most talented running backs in football. Veteran or not, none of these other guys deserve to earn one cent more than Carson, period.

There’s clearly a reason why these guys are still available. No one else wants them! So, why would you negotiate against yourselves? It’s a complete waste of money, when – AGAIN – we still need to fill out our roster along the defensive line! HELLO?!?! Is ANYBODY listening?!

I’m gonna go ahead and post this now, before I’m disappointed later to discover that Freeman is the newest member of the Seahawks and I have to start talking myself into why this is a good idea. God help us all.

How Many Titles Can We Expect From The Seahawks & Russell Wilson?

The NBA has obviously been on a lot of minds recently, with the Michael Jordan documentary (still haven’t seen it, still probably won’t see it) coming to a conclusion. When you think about the greatest players in NBA history – Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Tim Duncan, Shaq – you’re talking about guys with multiple championships (somehow, of the guys on that list, Bird has the fewest titles with three). One guy in the NBA can change things SO DRAMATICALLY for a franchise; you look at these players with their careers spanning 13-20 years and it would be fascinating to go back in time and be able to tell those fanbases: with this guy, you’re going to witness anywhere from 3-6 championships during his career.

It obviously doesn’t work that way in the NFL. The most important player is obviously the quarterback, and of the best all-time (since the merger in 1970), there have only been four NFL quarterbacks who’ve won more than 2 titles: Tom Brady (6), Joe Montana (4), Terry Bradshaw (4), and Troy Aikman (3) (I don’t count Steve Young here, because he was only the starter for one of his three championships).

For what it’s worth, you see A LOT of guys with 2: Peyton Manning, John Elway, Roger Staubach, Ben Roethlisberger; A LOT of guys with 1: Brett Favre, Kurt Warner, Ken Stabler, Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees; and A LOT of guys with 0: Fran Tarkenton, Dan Marino, Dan Fouts, Jim Kelly, Warren Moon, Philip Rivers.

In the middle of all of that, we have Russell Wilson with his one championship (the same number as Patrick Mahomes, probably the only quarterback most people would take over Russell Wilson if they had to start a franchise right now and could pick any player). Wilson is smack dab in the middle of his prime; he was the best he’s ever been in 2019, and we can expect right around that level of effectiveness for the next few years at least. He still hasn’t even surpassed 10 years in the league yet! And quarterbacks nowadays can play 20+ years.

But, it’s SO. FUCKING. HARD to win a championship in the NFL. Even for the very best players in the league! So much harder than it is for the very best NBA players. Which makes it reasonable to ask: how many more championships can we expect from Russell Wilson while he’s still in a Seahawks uniform? If Future Steven were to come back in time from 15 years down the line, how many Super Bowl titles would he be able to tell me I have to look forward to?

Odds are that number is ZERO! Odds are, I’ll have up to 15 more years with Russell Wilson (at the MOST; probably closer to only 10 more years) and I will see zero more championships for the Seattle Seahawks in that span. That feels just so damned demoralizing to think about, but that’s the nature of the beast. The Tom Bradys of the world are a once-in-a-generation breed. Wilson has played eight seasons; by this point in Brady’s career, he’d already won three championships. Montana had won twice. Bradshaw had also won twice and Aikman had nabbed all three of his. Wilson, again, just the one (and we’re all super-impressed that he’s already been to the Super Bowl a second time, but that fakakta play-call at the goalline obviously screwed the pooch).

I’m a firm believer that Russell Wilson will – when it’s all said and done – have a Hall of Fame career under his belt. That’s why I’m talking about him among these other all-time greats. I’m almost assuredly biased, but I think Wilson is a better player than all of those QBs I mentioned above who have one or fewer championships. I would like to think Wilson is among the elite level that Manning and Elway reached, which means I would HOPE he has at least one more title in him before he hangs ’em up.

If I’m right, then I think it’s reasonable to expect another Seahawks championship at some point in the next decade. Obviously, it’s unfair to put all of that on one guy; this is the NFL after all, there are 50+ other players on the team that need to pitch in to make this thing work. But, make no mistake, the quarterback gets all the credit and all the blame for a reason. The all-time greats find a way to come up big in the biggest moments. If Russell Wilson aims to be lumped in that category, then he’s going to need to find a way to take this team on his back and will them to victory.

I’ll say this: he’s on the right track. You can complain about play-calling and how the coaching staff is hamstringing him, but this is the organization we’ve got, and they’ve proven they can win in this league with their system. We’re not the Kansas City Chiefs, we’re not the New England Patriots; we’re the Seattle Fucking Seahawks, and Russell Wilson is being put in situations to succeed nearly every year. And, quite frankly, we haven’t been able to get it done in recent seasons. We haven’t been able to win enough regular season games to take the NFC West and lock down one of the top seeds in the conference, and we haven’t played our best on the road in these playoff games. At some point, we have to talk about Russell Wilson the way we talk about all of the other all-time greats, and stop making excuses. As everyone else needs to be better, so does Russell Wilson. Yes, he’s the best thing going for the Seahawks right now, but that doesn’t mean he can’t be better!

All I know is, I don’t want to wake up this time in 2030 and see the same number of championships next to Russell Wilson’s name. The clock is ticking. Yes, the Seahawks need to take advantage of Wilson’s prime, but you know who else does? Russell Wilson.

The Pac-12 Can’t Afford To Not Play Football

These are obviously uncertain times and as such, things can change at a moment’s notice. It’s not even Memorial Day yet, but with all the COVID Times fun we’re enduring, we’re already starting to talk about the fall sports landscape even though spring and summer sports are still on indefinite hiatus.

Keeping up with all the latest announcements feels pretty futile when there’s no teeth to anything. California is already talking about their universities teaching exclusively online this fall, but who knows what will happen in the next three months? There’s so much time between now and then that it feels pointless to get all up in arms about anything anyone says today.

Nevertheless, there’s enough chatter about the potential for football NOT coming back this fall, that it’s starting to bug me a little bit. There’s even word that – while the SEC and presumably other major football conferences are Full Steam Ahead on football being played in 2020 – the Pac-12 might sit out this year. And with that, all sorts of consequences that will only damage the conference for years – maybe even decades – to come.

The Pac-12 didn’t need this or any other coronavirus to reveal how much of a disadvantage it’s at when compared to the other major college football conferences (especially the SEC). The Pac-12 has been trending steadily and precipitously downward every year for AT LEAST the last decade, if not the last 20 years, in both football AND basketball (the two biggest money-making sports in all of college athletics). The western United States has been out-played, out-coached, and out-recruited by schools east of the Rocky Mountains for the longest time now, and there was really no end in sight before all this started. But, if the Pac-12 decides to forego football, forget it! It’s all over! You might as well lump us in with the Sun Belt and get it over with!

If every other major college football conference opts to proceed with live games, I don’t see any way where we’ll be able to hold our recruits to their scholarships. Of course, if there’s no sports, would the schools even be able to afford to honor those scholarships? We know they could, because these universities are loaded; but WILL they? That’s uncertain. Regardless, we’re talking about a conference that’s already recruiting at a lower level, now losing what quality players they had left over from SEC and Big 10 schools that didn’t necessarily want them. We’re talking about four years’ worth of eligibility from the best guys we could get, potentially never playing for the Pac-12 schools that landed them. How do you replace that?

Furthermore, how do you replace the lack of experience and improvement that can only come with game play, among the players who stick around? Maybe it’ll be a negligible difference, but not in the eyes of voters who determine poll rankings, and ultimately College Football Playoff rankings. Again, these are voters who ALREADY had diminishing opinions of Pac-12 programs before all of this started.

Then, there’s the loss of television revenue. Presumably schools would have to pay that money back. That’s an already-inferior amount compared to the other major conferences – again, like the SEC – who have better packages, better timeslots with higher national visibility. We’re talking about a conference in the Pac-12 that was already behind the 8-ball, now falling further and further behind in the financial arms race that is major college football.

It all adds up to a disaster scenario that I don’t know if the Pac-12 would ever be able to recover from. Will we ever legitimately compete for a National Championship again? Hell, will we ever even make the playoffs again? Unless they expand the field, and guarantee every major conference gets at least one entrant, I think that’s a valid concern!

You know how a lot of companies who were already struggling in the pre-COVID Times are now filing for bankruptcy or otherwise going out of business because all the problems they faced before have been accelerated by the pandemic? You could make the argument that the Pac-12 is in the same boat as JC Penney, Neiman Marcus, J. Crew, and a number of other prominent corporations who are failing at a rapid pace.

So, for the love of God, don’t make it even EASIER for the rest of college football! Do what you have to do! Play in empty stadia! Pay for increased testing and other safety precautions! Whatever it takes, just make sure there’s football on Saturdays this fall!

I say that selfishly – because I love the Huskies more than life itself, and desperately want to have football in my life this fall – and I say that as a fan, generally, of Pac-12 football, who only wants this conference to succeed and return to its past glories in every decade through the early 2000’s.

Geno Smith Is Returning To The Seahawks & That’s The ONLY Thing That Happened Yesterday. Yep. Slow News Day Otherwise …

Were you worried about the Seahawks’ quarterback room after All Pro Russell Wilson? Worried that maybe Anthony Gordon – an undrafted rookie out of Washington State – might not be up to the challenge if the worst happened and he had to be thrown to the wolves? Well, you’re in luck because mediocre backup Geno Smith figures to lug around the clipboard in another action-packed season as the Seahawks’ #2!

Oh, and the starting cornerback we got in trade from the Redskins who’s supposed to take over for Tre Flowers and seriously bolster our secondary – Quinton Dunbar – had an arrest warrent put on him for armed robbery at a houseparty a couple days ago in Florida … BUT HEY, HOW ABOUT THIS GENO SMITH GUY HUH?! FUN G.D. TIMES AND WHATNOT!

Clearly, I wasn’t born to have nice things. (why, in these COVID-19 times, was there a party happening in the first place?). Clearly, I wasn’t meant for happiness. (these are two players in the National Football League, earning millions of dollars!). Clearly, I’m doomed to walk the Earth in a perpetual state of tire-spinning, frustratingly taking two steps back every time I take two steps forward. (I mean, I know the shit they robbed was worth a lot, but these are young up-and-comers who’d be worth even MORE millions of dollars in a few years!). I’m not a bad guy; I’m reasonably well-liked; I try to do the right things when I can. (did they think they weren’t going to get caught? why didn’t they at least wear masks that covered their ENTIRE faces?). WHY DOES EVERYTHING BAD ALWAYS HAPPEN TO ME?!?!

I need a hug.

I’ve been racking my brain trying to find the bright side here, and I think I’ve got something. It’s not much, but it’s all I’ve got. Now, assuming this isn’t as bad as it looks, that maybe he won’t go to prison and only misses a small handful of games due to suspension, but he’s otherwise a rehabilitated and dedicated football player from this day forward (as hard as that seems, given he fucking – allegedly – committed armed robbery), and in the games he DOES play in, he makes a huge impact and helps lead the Seahawks to a successful season with his clutch plays – to the point where the Seahawks would want to keep him around beyond this season, with his contract coming up – MAYBE an incident like this drives down his value to the point where he’s not necessarily so expensive to re-sign for 2021 and possibly beyond.

I told you it wasn’t much. A lot of clauses and caveats in that scenario there.

The downside is, obviously, the Seahawks feel compelled to cut him and he never plays a down for us. The next-worst thing is: he goes to prison and/or gets suspended for the entire season and never plays a down for us (how is that not the same thing? because in this situation I believe we’d at least have salary cap relief). Next-worst is: he misses a significant amount of games – a number we’re never really told, that’s just up to the whim of the commissioner’s office – but eventually returns to play, only he sucks because he’s rusty, doesn’t know the defense, and makes no positive impact whatsoever. The fewer games he misses due to suspension, the better it looks, but obviously the Ideal Scenario with Dunbar is never going to see the light of day. Not in 2020. Maybe not ever.

But, at least he won’t hold out for a bigger contract! I think that ship sailed right off the edge of the flat fucking Earth that’s taken over our lives because NOTHING MAKES ANY GOD DAMN SENSE ANYMORE AND WE’RE ALL LIVING IN THE AUTISTIC NIGHTMARE OF SOME SNOWGLOBE-SHAKING CHILD IN BOSTON!

I’m having a really good week, you guys. Honest and for true. I’m not having a nervous breakdown, you’re having a nervous breakdown, he said with cold, dead eyes, in an unsettling monotone while staring off into the middle distance trying to remember if he took his Clozapine today or not …

He probably did. What’s the worst that could happen, huh?

Remember when Earl Thomas’ wife pulled a gun on him for getting caught in bed sharing a woman with his brother? DOES ANYBODY REMEMBER LAUGHTER?!

Getting The New NFL Roster Rule Changes Straight In My Mind

The new CBA was, I guess, ratified earlier this year, and with it came the usual sprinkling of tweaks to the rules. I still don’t have it all straight in my mind – there’s apparently going to be seven teams from each conference making the playoffs (with only the #1 seeds getting a first round BYE), and I guess a 17-game schedule is coming for some reason (greed) – but one of the biggies that flew under my radar is how NFL rosters are going to look for a while.

Truth be told, this post is just for me. I feel like I’ll have a better chance of remembering these fakakta alterations if I write them down. To save yourself some agony, just read Bob Condotta’s article from today’s Seattle Times; he says it better than I ever could.

So, up until now, NFL rosters have maxed out at 53 players, with 46 of those guys active on game days. Why this is a thing, I’ll never understand (greed again), but whatever. It usually doesn’t make a HUGE difference anyway, because you’re talking about the bottom of the roster barrel, plus it’s football: there are usually enough guys with nagging injuries that need to sit out a game here and there anyway (this also probably saves on players getting thrown on Injured Reserve, as long as there aren’t too many other injuries at the same position).

NOW, teams can have up to 55 players on their rosters, with up to 48 active on gameday. The caveats (because OF COURSE there are caveats (because greed, almost assuredly)) are that two of the 55 must come from your practice squad, only to be elevated the day before a game; and at least one of the 48 must be an eighth offensive lineman.

That offensive lineman rule feels like the Seahawks snuck it in as a rider to this huge piece of legislation at the eleventh hour that REALLY only helps our team. Why would the majority of NFL teams need an eighth offensive lineman? What are the odds that you’d have THREE O-Line injuries in the same game? That’s pretty remote, I have to imagine. BUT, the odds increase if – like the Seahawks – you regularly employ the use of a sixth lineman in certain jumbo packages. I mean, you might as well call this the George Fant Provision! It would make more sense if George Fant was still here, and not penciled in to be the starting left tackle for the New York Jets, but you get the idea.

NFL teams usually roster around nine offensive linemen, with only seven being active on gameday. Does this mean most teams will now roster ten? Is that why the Seahawks went H.A.M. in the O-Line free agent market? I’ll go out on a limb and say “Yes”; why not?!

It does make it interesting, however, that the Seahawks put so much effort into refilling their tight end room on top of it. I’m still expecting one or two surprise veteran cuts at some point before the regular season starts, but people have speculated that the other extra roster spot could be devoted to keeping a fourth or even a fifth tight end (particularly if one of those guys – like Stephen Sullivan – straddles the definition between tight end and wide receiver).

We can speculate on that until we’re all blue in the face, so let’s move on.

Things get moderately interesting when we talk about the practice squad. Instead of ten players, it will now have twelve (with, again, two of those players being promoted to the active roster every week). The same rules apply in that if any other team wants to poach one of your practice squad guys, they can do so, as long as they are being signed to that team’s active roster (you can of course, I’m assuming, do the same to prevent those coveted players from fleeing). Two of your practice squad players can have an unlimited number of accrued years under their belts (before, it had to be no more than two years), so if you’re a longtime veteran who’s looking to stay in the league as long as humanly possible (and you don’t mind earning those low, low practice squad wages), then you’re in luck!

I’m, you know … I’m looking at you, Luke Willson.

Getting back to the roster increase from 53 to 55, as I said those two players have to come from that week’s practice squad. The catch is, those two players either have to return to the practice squad the next day, or you have two waive two other guys to keep them on. And, you can only return a player to the practice squad twice per season without exposing them to waivers. After that, every time they’d have to pass through (though, I don’t know if that’s a super big deal, because any team can take any player from your practice squad at any time, if they really want ’em).

Is it a perfect system? Of course not, it never will be. If it were up to me, players on the practice squad would be YOUR guys and would never be subjected to waivers unless you specifically WAIVED them (because you no longer want them). The “practice squad”, in this sense, would be like the minor leagues in baseball, and instead of worrying about your new draft picks being ready to play right away, you could take more chances on prospects/projects, without worrying about losing them through the life of their rookie deals. That seems like a much better solution than subjecting a longtime veteran to the indignity of either taking a practice squad deal or getting dropped from the league entirely.

Now that I’ve laid it all out here, I realize these changes sounded much more significant when the CBA was first announced. But, these are pretty small potatoes in the grand scheme of football things; I guess that’s why I waited until mid-May to finally learn some of the nuances.

Making Heads Or Tails Of The Latest Seahawks Media Blitz

General Manager John Schneider has been in the news a lot lately, doing interviews and whatnot. Over the years, it’s hard not to have your ears perk up whenever this happens. It’s obviously not a super-busy time in the football year; once the hullabaloo around the draft is over, things are pretty dead until ramping back up again in August. So, what’s with all the chatter?

The sports media landscape is a lot different nowadays. Players and teams are much more savvy with what they let get out into the world (for the most part). If there’s a news item about a player, it’s generally some bit of information that’s been leaked to a trusted reporter – who is always loathe to reveal his “sources” because he wants to maintain that connect for future stories – for a very specific reason. Depending on the tenor of the story, you can tell if it was the player’s camp or a team camp that leaked it. This is usually done in conjunction with negotiations – the team doesn’t want to pay as much, the player wants to squeeze every last dollar out of his value – so little items are thrown out into the world. It’s the cosmic ballet that is professional sports and … it’s really just a distraction, but ultimately not very important.

It’s all about image. No one wants to be the bad guy in this song and dance. It’s all just business; nothing personal!

You can’t help but start to take notice, though, when instead of leaking messages as an anonymous source, the team sends a prominent representative out into the world to show their hand. Teams don’t have to do any more media appearances than is otherwise necessary to drum up interest in fans and sell season tickets. So, that’s why you tend to see the coach and/or GM in the good times: during/immediately after the draft, and upon signing a quality free agent. These are advertisements – infomercials, if you will – for the Seattle Seahawks Football Club: Catch The Excitement! As draft hysteria has drifted back out to sea, however, we’re still seeing John Schneider pop up to talk about the Seahawks’ offseason plan. With good reason, of course.

There are two universal truths we’ve been harping on since the 2019 season ended: the Seahawks’ pass rush stinks, and Jadeveon Clowney is a free agent. After making a number of moves – signing Bruce Irvin and Benson Mayowa, re-signing Jarran Reed, drafting Darrell Taylor and Alton Robinson – the consensus is: the Seahawks’ pass rush still stinks. Again, I can’t stress this enough: it stunk as bad as could possibly be in 2019 and that was WITH Clowney, one of the most effective defensive linemen in the league (when healthy). As it turns out, that health factor is a lot bigger than we anticipated, as Clowney remains unsigned well into the month of May, with no end in sight.

What has caught a lot of eyes is the fact that the Seahawks – according to Over The Cap – have a little over $16 million in salary cap space at the moment. Of course, it should be noted that this figure doesn’t factor in the rookie salaries we’ll have to pay for our draft picks. Then, you have to set aside some money for minimum-salary guys the team brings in when our regulars get hurt and have to go on Injured Reserve. Also, the Seahawks put a lot of incentives into their deals with players that don’t necessarily show up in cap totals until those players hit those incentives. All these hidden figures ultimately detract from that $16 million. Smart fans know this, but most fans aren’t as into the weeds on these things; so they see a player like Clowney – easily the best-available free agent still on the market – and they see their Seahawks with a need at the very position he fills, and they’re wondering, “What gives?”

I mean, if nothing else, you have to figure that’s what Clowney’s agent is saying in negotiations with the Seahawks!

Beat writers and bloggers can bring up these hidden salary cap expenses until they’re blue in the face, but most fans are only going to sit up and take notice when the team tells them something directly. Enter: John Schneider.

There’s been a definite theme in his recent interviews that Schneider has been trying to get across: the importance of in-season moves.

The Seahawks are no stranger to making roster moves all throughout the year. Why, in 2019 alone, we made a deal for Quandre Diggs in the middle of the season that vastly improved our secondary; on top of taking a flier on Josh Gordon, who had at least one big catch in every game he appeared in. Then, with our rash of running back injuries late in the year, we famously brought back Marshawn Lynch to score us a few TDs in December and January! If I wanted to put in the work, I’m sure I could go back and list a bunch of other in-season moves the Seahawks have made through the years, but just trust me when I tell you that this isn’t a new concept for this organization.

And yet, this is the first time I ever remember the team harping on this fact in interviews. It’s obviously for a reason!

The way I see it, this has everything to do with Clowney, and it can be only one of two things. Either the team truly has moved on from Clowney, and the Seahawks are trying to get fans on board with this decision; or the team actually IS willing to bring Clowney back, but they’re going to remain firm in their lowball offer to him, and he either needs to get on board with it or find employment elsewhere.

This has to be hard for fans AND Clowney to reconcile, because as has been noted repeatedly, the Seahawks have a number of moves they can make to free up some extra money. They can cut certain veterans to free up salary cap space; but, this weakens our depth and probably robs Peter to pay Paul. Sure, our defensive line will be stronger with Clowney, but if that means cutting Bradley McDougald, that likely weakens our secondary and could be a wash in the grand scheme of 2020 things. They can also convert base salaries for guys like Russell Wilson or Bobby Wagner – guys you know aren’t going anywhere – into signing bonuses, to further spread out those figures across the remaining lives of their respective contracts; but, that kicks the can down the road and puts your team’s financial flexibility in jeopardy in a few years. Under normal circumstances, you could argue that’s a no-brainer – especially with Russell Wilson, who isn’t going ANYWHERE, hopefully ever – but with this whole COVID-19 pandemic (and the likelihood of games being played without money from ticket sales/concessions coming in for part or all of 2020), the effects on future salary caps could be dire. The NFL salary cap has gone up by around 10% or so every season since the last CBA went into effect in 2010, but there’s a very legitimate chance that it stays flat or even goes DOWN in the next year or two. Considering Wilson – as is – takes up a considerable percentage of the team’s cap number, boosting that by converting his base into bonus just seems like flirting with disaster.

The thing is, I do believe the Seahawks are being truthful when they talk about the importance of in-season moves. There are always guys being waived, or otherwise floated in trade offers, and it’s nice to have that flexibility to bring on talented players (or at least prevent those talented players from going to your playoff rivals). I also believe that the Seahawks can’t put all their eggs in the Clowney basket. However small it may feel, there’s a non-zero chance that the Seahawks’ pass rush actually manages to IMPROVE (somehow) without him here. It’s going to take a big leap of faith; guys who have never performed at this level are going to have to step up and take some of the load off of mediocre-looking veterans. It’s not IMPOSSIBLE … but, you know, I’ll believe it when I see it, I guess.

The bottom line is: probably don’t count on Clowney being back. Nevertheless, I’d love to see the Seahawks bring SOMEONE in, that’s an actual name who we can count on to give this pass rush a little more zazz.

The 2020 Seahawks Have A Schedule

This has always been one of my favorite posts to write – along with its companion that usually takes place sometime in August where I go through and predict game-by-game how many the Seahawks will win – but this year is obviously exactly the same as every other year. I can’t think of one single, solitary difference between 2020 and any other year of my life; YAWN Y’ALL!!!

Normally, we’d be a month into yet another losing Mariners campaign, so when the NFL releases its schedule, I’m always RABID for ANYTHING other than baseball to talk about! But, since the M’s are still technically undefeated and we’re all sitting around sportsless, tugging at our peckers, trying to find ways to entertain ourselves throughout the days spent locked in our homes, I’m finding it difficult to get it up for the big schedule reveal. Maybe by writing it out here, inspiration will strike:

  • Week 1 – @ Atlanta, 10am
  • Week 2 – New England, Sunday Night Football
  • Week 3 – Dallas, 1:25pm
  • Week 4 – @ Miami, 10am
  • Week 5 – Minnesota, Sunday Night Football
  • Week 6 – BYE
  • Week 7 – @ Arizona, 1:05pm
  • Week 8 – San Francisco, 1:25pm
  • Week 9 – @ Buffalo, 10am
  • Week 10 – @ L.A. Rams, 1:25pm
  • Week 11 – Arizona, Thursday Night Football
  • Week 12 – @ Philadelphia, Monday Night Football
  • Week 13 – N.Y. Giants, 1:05pm
  • Week 14 – N.Y. Jets, 1:05pm
  • Week 15 – @ Washington, 10am
  • Week 16 – L.A. Rams, 1:05pm
  • Week 17 – @ San Francisco, 1:25pm

There is, apparently, a lot of flexibility built into the schedule, in case the season has to start later than expected. So, I don’t know if there’s much point in bitching about how it’s set up. A week 6 BYE doesn’t strike me as especially egregious – it could always be worse – but I’ll make the same point I make every year: they should make every team either have the SAME week off, or spread it out over a 2-week period (so you can have NFL games on TV every week, but still make it as fair as possible). The NFL never listens to me, in spite of my tireless letter-writing campaign (I really MUST remember to buy stamps this year so I can mail them out), so we’re stuck with the format we’ve got.

It’s cool that we’ve got our two Sunday Night games so early in the season, as those likely can’t be flexed out; but again, with the virus butchering our lives, who knows if this schedule will be the one that ultimately gets played out? I could make that point about everything I talk about today, so let’s just say for the sake of argument this is how it’s going to be. In that case, GREAT! Because I really don’t anticipate the Patriots will be worth much of a damn this year, so catching them early in the season bodes well for us beating them (conceivably, Belichick could have them playing better by season’s end, at which point you probably won’t want to see them in December).

The Seahawks have four 10am starts, and five cross-country trips altogether, which is a little brutal (we’ll be putting in the most mileage travelled this year by a pretty fair margin). I think we actually lucked out in knocking one of them out of the way in Week 1; the team as a whole should be as rested as can be, so I wouldn’t expect it to be as much of a hindrance as it would in any other week. Also, one of those cross-country trips is a Monday Night game a week after our Thursday Night game, so considering how well we usually play on MNF, I consider that a victory in and of itself.

I’m not as high on the Dolphins as some people, but I do think it’s better to face them early as well, when Tua is still pretty green. Dallas and Minnesota both look tough this year, so I don’t know if it’ll matter much WHEN we play them, but getting both at home is nice.

The toughest stretch will be coming out of the BYE, through our MNF game in Philly, where we play 4 out of 6 on the road, including the Bills and Rams in consecutive weeks. Not only that, but we play the Cardinals twice within a month, the second time on a short week after those back-to-back road games.

The season closes relatively cupcakey though, with 3 of our last 5 at home. Both New York teams, as well as the Redskins, all look like they’ll be bad again this year, so that’s nice. It’s not all easy, though, as we play the Rams and 49ers the last two weeks, who are tough regardless of where the games are being held.

All told, if things break right, I could squint and see a 12-4 season. More likely, it’ll be something like 10-6 and another Wild Card appearance.

Honestly, I’m more annoyed by our pre-season schedule; both road games are in the Central time zone! At Houston (week 2) and at Minnesota (week 4)? That last one really grinds my gears, because not only do we play the Vikings again in the regular season (and yeah, I know, our starters likely won’t play in the meaningless one), but we also have to follow that up with a trip to Atlanta the very next week. What the hell, NFL?!

Did you believe it? Did you think I was actually mad? I’m sorry, I tried to raise a fuss, but it’s Friday and, well, you know.