The Eagles Hired Former Seahawks DC Clint Hurtt

As the Seahawks continue to mull over their choices for who’s going to be the next head coach (spoiler alert, it won’t be offensive coordinators Ben Johnson or Bobby Slowik), NFL teams around the league have been rounding out their staffs. It’s fair to wonder who’s going to be left when the Seahawks finally get off the pot, but one name we know who WON’T be available is Clint Hurtt.

I’m not a big Eagles fan or anything, but I really like what they’ve done so far this offseason. I don’t know why there was such fervor to fire their head coach, but the dude JUST took them to a Super Bowl last season. I’m glad he’s getting another shot. Clearly, the team was affected by losing both coordinators following their Super Bowl run, and as it turned out, the replacements weren’t quite up to snuff. Seems reasonable; you wait until after the Super Bowl to fill vacant coordinator positions, you’re bound to end up with some clunkers (*cough* *cough* Seahawks).

So, they’re gone, and in their place we have Kellen Moore (who I generally like as a play-caller) and Vic Fangio (someone I was BEGGING the Seahawks to hire the last time we were in the market for a DC). Instead, we opted for an in-house nobody in Clint Hurtt, who allegedly was supposed to bring us a Vic Fangio-style defense. What we got was more of the crap we’ve had to endure the last almost-decade. Part of me will always believe Hurtt is one of the big reasons why Pete Carroll was let go; if his defenses played better, the Seahawks would’ve made the playoffs this season and I have to imagine Carroll would’ve gotten at least another year.

There was always a nagging concern that – as long as he didn’t have a job – Clint Hurtt might talk his way into staying with the Seahawks in some capacity. That’s in spite of the fact that he has been just awful at his job from the very beginning. Before being promoted to DC, he was our defensive line coach from 2017-2021; what about those defensive lines made anyone believe he’d be competent running an entire defense?

Well, now he’s Philadelphia’s problem, having been hired to coach the defensive line there under Fangio. Apparently, they both had success together in Chicago back in the day, so maybe this will be a harmonious reunion. They seem to have a lot of talent at that position group, so maybe they’ll make him look better.

As for the Seahawks, it’s deliberation time. I would expect a head coaching hire any time. I’ll just tell you this right now, if it ends up being Mike Kafka, I think Seahawks fans are going to lose their minds. I know I will!

The Mariners Traded For Jorge Polanco

Going to Minnesota, we have reliever Justin Topa, starter What’sHisButtFromTheGiants Anthony DeSclafani, outfield prospect Gabriel Gonzalez, and pitching prospect Darren Bowen.

Going to Seattle, we have Jorge Polanco, a 30 year old starting infielder (pegged to be our everyday second baseman) with one year left on his contract (and a club option for 2025).

DeSclafani is no big loss. I’m honestly relieved that I don’t have to watch him pitch for the Mariners. Seems like a guy better suited to be a back-of-the-rotation starter and NOT a long reliever like the M’s were going to use him as. I’m going to go out on a limb and say neither prospect will amount to much at the Major League level (because if either one of them do, then this trade absolutely murders the Mariners).

I would say the part that hurts the most is losing Justin Topa, who is going into the first of three arbitration years, and is earning just a million and a quarter dollars this season. He figured to be our third-best reliever behind Brash and Munoz, but I would argue – on the whole – he was more consistent and less blowup-prone than anyone in the pen in 2023. The Mariners were already in need of a pick-me-up or two out of the bullpen (as we’ve talked about ad nauseam, they’ve yet to even replace Paul Sewald, and now we’re talking about replacing Topa too), and now that job is even more important.

Quite frankly, the Mariners’ stance on this – that they can pick up any ol’ scrub off the scrap heap and turn them into ace relievers – is bordering on irresponsible hubris. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Mariners’ biggest weakness in 2024 IS the bullpen (and we all know how little I think of the starting lineup, so that’s really saying something).

All that being said, it doesn’t feel like the worst deal I’ve ever seen. The money pretty much evens out (I think it was reported the M’s are sending money to the Twins to make it so). They get a couple of scratch-off lottery tickets to provide some longterm hope, and they get a valuable reliever to add to what I’m told is a strength for them. Plus, you know, the starter could be okay for them in that division (where the hitting is less fearsome than it is in the West). In turn, the Mariners get a VAST improvement over the likes of Josh Rojas, Dylan Moore, Sam Haggerty, et al, when it comes to plugging one of their infield holes.

We already knew going into the season that second and third base would suck for this team. Now, what this deal presupposes is … maybe only one of those spots will suck?

I’m willing to go out on that limb that Jorge Polanco will be a valuable hitter for this team when he’s healthy. One guy I’ve never met on Formerly Twitter telling me so is good enough for me! But, there’s that caveat again, right? Polanco hasn’t played a full season since 2021. The last two years, it’s been knee and ankle injuries. Something like five or six stints on the IL. Sure as shit reminds me of one Mitch Haniger; how could it not? It was pretty much the first point bandied about in the analysis of this deal for the M’s.

If I choose to see the positive in this, it’s nice to see us fill a hole with a bona fide Major Leaguer, and not just another Quad-A nobody. If I choose to see the negative in this, then it’s just another coin flip with the usual questions we have when we bring in ANY new hitter:

  • Can he stay healthy?
  • Can he hit in Seattle, or will his bat be swallowed up in the marine layer?
  • Can he withstand the pressure of playing for a new team?
  • Will he enjoy living here, which is presumably very far away from wherever he considers home?
  • How close is he to falling off of an age-related production cliff?

You can plug those questions in about ANY of the guys we brought in this offseason – Mitch Garver, Luke Raley, Mitch Haniger, Luis Urias, Seby Zavala – as well as any of the guys we’ve brought in over the last few years, and get a wide variety of answers. Inevitably, some will hack it okay, some will become total garbage. And it’s not necessarily always the ones you think. I keep coming back to guys like Jesse Winker and Kolten Wong; we were supposed to be getting – at the very least – solid veterans who could give you professional at bats. What we got, was nothing.

As with all of this offseason’s moves, I’m not holding my breath. Quite frankly, I’m not moving off of my F grade for the Mariners; I still don’t think we’re any better than we were a year ago. If I’m being generous, the Polanco deal has the potential to now put this offense over the top compared to 2023. But, a shaky bullpen was made all the shakier with the loss of Topa. And now our rotation depth – which was razor thin before – is totally evaporated. Unless our top five starters manage to stay healthy for the full year – on top of key guys like Polanco and Haniger for our lineup – there’s a good chance we’re worse across the board. Hence the failing grade.

I will say that – as with all the other trades this offseason – I mostly felt relief that we didn’t actually trade any of our young starters. But, that still isn’t going to move the needle enough for me to vastly change my outlook on this offseason.

Just once, I’d like to see the Mariners make a move that is universally lauded, rather than coming with a thousand caveats. Something tells me it ain’t gonna happen.

The Seahawks Are One Of The Last Two Teams To Hire A Head Coach

There’s sort of a nebulous beginning to this blog. I’m the kind of guy who would very much be someone to celebrate the “birthday” of a blog he’s poured so many hours of his life into, but I couldn’t for the life of me figure out what that date actually is. If you go backwards to the very first post on Seattle Sports Hell, you’ll see something dated 1/11/2010, but I know for a fact that that particular post was ripped from a previous blog I kept (on LiveJournal of all places). At some point that year, I decided to write a little bit about sports most every day, until the journal got too bogged down in sports content. So, I started a new blog – on WordPress – where this blog in its infancy got its start in August of 2010. At some point not long after that, a friend of mine savvy in the art of website creation talked me into just getting my own URL and running it through WordPress’ dashboard. That old WordPress blog is no longer around, so I can’t pinpoint when the changeover happened. But, let’s just say it was sometime in late August of 2010 (after the 22nd, before the 28th) and call it a day.

This is all a long-winded way of saying: in all the time I’ve had this blog, I’ve never had a Seahawks head coaching hire to write about. Thankfully, I threw up a post on my old LiveJournal, upon the Seahawks hiring Pete Carroll, with this little nugget written near the end:

Is it the right move? Who the fuck knows? Who the fuck EVER knows what the right move is? So much of this damned crapshoot is devoted to luck, it’s pathetic. Draft picks panning out, free agents living up to the money they make before they fall apart due to aging and indifference, avoiding too many costly injuries, fumbles bouncing your way, referees not shitting themselves on the field. X’s and O’s rarely decide the outcome. You’ve got to hit on all those intangibles first before you’ve even got a chance.

from the post entitled: A Team You Hate To Love

I would say, if I’m being perfectly honest, my opinion hasn’t changed much in the last 14 years.

My general assessment at the time is that the Seahawks went after a big name head coach to try to prevent too many fans from giving up their season tickets. It’s funny how little I’ve thought about season tickets in the subsequent 14 years. I did find it funny to be complaining about two down years (2008 and 2009, when we won a combined 9 games) after being so “accustomed to winning” in the Mike Holmgren regime.

My other big point in that post was that Jim Mora Jr. wasn’t working, and he wasn’t going to be the guy to turn things around. As much as it felt shitty to give the guy only one season (with a depleted roster to boot), we all still knew it was time for a change.

And today, as shitty as it is to move on from the greatest head coach in franchise history, we all knew it was time. The hard thing had to be done, in hopes that we can turn this franchise around sooner rather than later.

Other than what’s written in that post, though, I don’t really remember a whole lot about the 2010 coaching search, other than the utter shock that Pete Carroll was the choice. I completely forgot, for instance, that Mora was fired on January 8, 2010, and it was reported the same day that Carroll was the hire. How we managed to get around the Rooney Rule is beyond me, but that’s neither here nor there. I seem to recall there was a quickie sham interview set around that time, though initial outrage was quickly and quietly forgotten (interesting info in this article).

It’s hard to say exactly who the Seahawks have interviewed. We know they saw Ejiro Evero (Panthers DC), Patrick Graham (Raiders DC), Mike Kafka (Giants OC), Raheem Morris (Rams DC, current Falcons HC), and Dan Quinn (Cowboys DC). I’ve also seen Frank Smith (Dolphins OC), Ben Johnson (Lions OC), and Bobby Slowik (Texans OC) listed, with Mike Macdonald (Ravens DC) apparently set to meet with the Seahawks this week for the first time (now that the Ravens have been eliminated). And, various people have alluded to there being interest in Mike Vrabel, though no confirmed meetings have leaked to the press.

I see three people of color in that list (to my knowledge), so it appears we’re doing a better job of adhering to the Rooney Rule. And only one of our interview candidates, so far, has been hired as a head coach (Morris), which means unless the Commanders (the only other open job at the moment) snipe one of them, we’ll have our pick of the litter.

Am I particularly excited about any of these guys? Well, I was interested in Vrabel, but that seems to be a lost cause. I thought Hawk Blogger made an intriguing case for Dan Quinn, enough to at least change my mind to the point where I wouldn’t be crushingly disappointed if we did, in fact, hire him (the best argument is Quinn’s elite-level staff he hired when he was with the Falcons).

While I acknowledge that the head coach position in the NFL is important for setting a culture, I’ll be honest: I’m more invested in who we end up hiring to be our offensive and defensive coordinators. I feel like those guys will have more impact game to game, than the head coach. Considering how late we are in the process, there are upsides and downsides. The upside has to do with getting a chance to hire coaches from deep in their respective playoff runs. The downside, though, has to do with filling out the rest of the coaching staff. How many quality guys are available to be coordinators?

Which makes me think that Quinn or Vrabel probably won’t be the pick. If we were going to go with them, it seems like you’d want to snap them up early, and let them fill out their coaching staff before everyone else. If you go with a Mike Macdonald or a Ben Johnson, then you’ve already got a readymade playcaller for one side of the ball or the other. Half the job of picking your coordinators is already done! Oh sure, you still have to bring in someone and give them the title of coordinator; but, I’m guessing, if you hire a Ben Johnson, you’re hiring him to be the head coach and also call plays for your offense.

It doesn’t seem like the Seahawks are interested in anyone on the Chiefs or 49ers, so I’d be shocked if we don’t hire a head coach at some point this week. They’re scrambling to do their final interviews today and tomorrow, then they’ll probably deliberate for a day or two, with the likely hire happening on Thursday or Friday. So, it shouldn’t be long now.

Am I excited? I dunno, not really. I’m sure I will be when the guy is announced (unless it’s the OC from the Giants; what the fuck is he doing on that list?!). I’m more invested in what the Seahawks are going to do with some of the veteran players. But, I will say that if I had to choose, I’d go after the Ravens’ DC. That guy seems like he’s really on the ball. Whatever we can do to prop up this Seahawks defense, is the right decision in my book. Let’s get that right, and worry about the offense later.

I Don’t See How You Can Give The Mariners Anything But An F Grade For This Offseason

They were talking about this on Brock and Salk this morning, and it’s just absurd to me how they were bending over backwards to try to excuse this team for its actions this offseason.

I’ll just say, flat out, I don’t believe the 2024 Mariners are any better than the 2023 Mariners. Why anyone would believe that is ludicrous. We’ve downgraded in the outfield, we’ve downgraded at third base, we’ve maintained our same shitty level of play at second base and first base; the only spot we’ve upgraded is DH, which as I’ve said repeatedly the team doesn’t deserve credit for because all they’ve done is replace a corpse with a warm body. Literally ANY move at DH would’ve been an improvement.

On the pitching side of things, the rotation is the same. And while you can MAYBE hope for some improvement from the very youngest members of the rotation, I would also argue your depth is drastically reduced. Last year, Bryce Miller and Bryan Woo were your depth. Now, they’re in the rotation, and your depth guys include that dud we got from the Giants, and whoever is sucking up innings for the Rainiers. Emerson Hancock feels like a pipe dream with his litany of injuries, and it doesn’t seem like any other highly-rated prospect is ready to make the leap to the Majors this year. As for the bullpen, we never really did anything to replace Paul Sewald, unless you count the various projects we’ve brought in who we’re hoping will develop under our system. Wish in one hand and shit in the other and let’s see how much better the Mariners’ bullpen is in 2024.

So, where is this improvement coming from? Your guess is as good as mine. They tried to argue that this isn’t like last year’s crop of crap – A.J. Pollock, Tommy La Stella, Kolten Wong – but are we sure? What’s Luis Urias supposed to give us? Competent defense? We were already getting that from Suarez, along with a significant amount of pop (pop that is 100% not there with Urias). We swapped out Kelenic for a probably-worse version of Kelenic; we swapped out Teoscar Hernandez for injury-prone Mitch Haniger. We’re still saddled with the likes of Canzone, Rojas, Dylan Moore, Sam Haggerty, Cade Marlowe, and Taylor Trammell; those guys aren’t anything. Mitch Garver is the only guy who looks plausibly decent, but would it shock anyone to see him come to Seattle and struggle to hit? Also, can he stay healthy?

Now, if you’re going to argue that at least the Mariners aren’t the A’s, then congratu-fucking-lations; you’re not the fucking Cleveland Indians from the movie Major League! Here’s your fucking prize! But, it’s clearly an apples & oranges situation. If you’re happy to not be the A’s, that’s not something that should automatically raise your grade. To me, you’re only graded on yourself, what you did and what you’re capable of doing. You don’t get compared to other teams; we’re not ranking all 30 MLB teams. I would say the Mariners AND the Athletics deserve F’s, albeit for different reasons.

I will say that – given the constraints handed down by ownership – Jerry Dipoto and Co. did okay for themselves. It’s not like they had a ton of options to improve the ballclub. But, we’re not grading them; we’re grading The Mariners. Fans don’t care about how good of a job the GM did; fans care about wins and losses. So, in that sense, maybe it’s too early to give a proper grade. Maybe we have to let the entire season play out and do it all at the end. But, with the information we have now, I can’t imagine the Mariners will be any better. In fact, I’m betting they will be considerably worse.

So, unless they prove me wrong in a big way, they get an F for this offseason. They let us all down, again, and they don’t deserve a single benefit of the doubt.

Re-Examining The Mariners’ Kelenic Trade With The Braves

When I wrote about this trade initially, there was a lot going on. Honestly, it’s a deal that requires multiple posts to really dig in and assess everything.

For instance, we have more information. We knew it was a Salary Dump, but we didn’t necessarily know why it was so. It’s also interesting to see where the players involved ended up, as two of the three Mariners we shipped off were subsequently flipped. To be fair, it really feels like everyone ended up where they were supposed to. Marco Gonzales was traded to Pittsburgh. Evan White was sent to Anaheim. And the guy with the most upside – Jarred Kelenic – remains in Atlanta.

I couldn’t tell you for a million dollars if Pittsburgh will be any good in 2024; they finished 4th in the NL Central last year. If I had to guess – based solely on reputation – I would say they’re a young team with lots of prospects getting chances to play at the Major League level, and were in need of a calm, veteran presence in their rotation to eat innings and be a guiding force for the rest of the pitching staff. I didn’t even need to look it up to know that the Braves would also be sending money to the Pirates to complete the deal, and the least surprising thing of all is that the return is a Player To Be Named Later.

This is, frankly, ideal for all involved. Pittsburgh gets a solid vet who will probably be at least a little rejuvenated by pitching in the NL again (even if the pitchers no longer hit, I think it’s safe to say most of the hitting talent resides in the American League). Marco gets a chance to be a starter, after effectively losing his rotation spot in Seattle with his injury last year. It’s low expectations, so he’ll most likely have a longer leash. And, the Mariners don’t have to worry about a potentially-disgruntled presence languishing in the bullpen and costing us games because that role is nowhere near his forte.

As for Evan White, his career could go any number of directions. He could immediately get injured again, and that will just be his destiny until his contract runs out. He could recover and be an okay player (great defensively, not so hot hitting). Or, he could come back stronger than ever, put it all together at the plate, and be an All Star for years to come. In which case, OF COURSE he’s an Angel. OF COURSE they would pick up our scraps and turn him into a weapon we have to face a dozen times a year.

The Angels can easily afford to take this project on. They just lost Ohtani, so it’s not like people are really expecting much out of this team. They can keep him in the minors for at least another year, to let White build himself back up. And I’m sure, as they continue to underwhelm in the standings, White will get a Major League opportunity sooner rather than later. Meanwhile, the Braves got back a useful player while never having to try to work White into their system. And, as for the Mariners, we get to move on from another injury-riddled disappointment, without pouring good money over bad to try to make him a thing here.

The ultimate kick in the ass, though, is likely to be Jarred Kelenic. He stays with the Braves. They, obviously, took on a lot of salary to make this whole thing go, so it’s only fair for them to have the highest-upside share of this deal.

I would say it’s still fair to question Kelenic’s ceiling. The guy has obvious holes in his swing. He strikes out a ton. He has a decent eye at the plate, but that’s not going to prevent him from going chasing more than he should. He’s also a pretty big headcase, and I don’t know if that’s ever going to mature out of his personality. I’m sure if he actually achieved real, sustained success at this level, it would do wonders for his psyche. But, it’s also fair to wonder if that was ever going to happen in a Mariners uniform.

We already knew that Kelenic didn’t like the Mariners organization. They dicked around with him, waiting to call him up until after he got to a point where we’d have another season of team control. They offered him an Evan White-like contract when he was still in the minors, that he saw as a lowball slap to the face, and then effectively held him hostage by telling him he could come up to the Major Leagues sooner, only if he signed the deal. And I don’t know what he thought about his usage when he finally did get the call-up, but immediately putting him in the upper third of the lineup seemed like a mistake, putting immense pressure on him, when he would’ve been better served starting out at the bottom of the order.

If it wasn’t clear he hated the Mariners before, literally every statement and interview he’s given since the deal with the Braves has only cemented the notion.

I don’t see Kelenic as the type of player who’s going to tank his own development just to get out of an organization, but if I had to bet on it, I’d say he was never going to fully blossom with the M’s. With this fresh start, this new team, new ballpark, and new set of eyes coaching him up, I fully expect Kelenic will really take some huge leaps forward. There’s no doubt about it in my mind: the Braves are the superior baseball organization in every facet of the game. If they can’t turn Kelenic into a star, no one can.

There’s still risk, of course. I’m not saying it’s a done deal that he’s going to be an All Star with the Braves. But, the likelihood goes up tenfold with him there over him still being here.

The pressure’s completely and totally off now. He has no choice but to start out near the bottom of the order; they have one of the most stacked lineups in all of baseball. They also have their share of outfielders, so they can even afford to platoon Kelenic if need be.

On the one hand, it’s a bummer, because I did have really high hopes for Kelenic. A potential outfield with an elite Kelenic playing alongside Julio for a decade would’ve been a real treat!

But, on the other hand, I dunno, is Kelenic kind of an asshole? Or, at the very least, so intense that he’s no fun to be around? Is this a situation where, for this team at least, it’s addition by subtraction? The Mariners Roundtable on the Mitch Unfiltered Podcast made an interesting point; when were the Mariners at their very best and hottest last year? In late July and August. Between the time Kelenic went out for kicking a water cooler and the time he returned, the Mariners went 32-16; when he returned, the Mariners went 9-10 overall (5-10 in the games Kelenic appeared in). No one is necessarily saying that Kelenic is the reason we were mediocre – and the absence of Kelenic was the reason we were red-hot – but I’m also not totally ruling it out. He seems like a Dark Cloud walking around on a regular basis; who needs that kind of energy in their lives? Not even a team FULL of Eugenio Suarezes could counterbalance Kelenic’s unrelenting angst!

All that being said, though, as a Mariners fan, you’d like to think we could get more for him. You’d like to think he’s worth more than simply shedding however many millions of dollars from our current and future payrolls. In a good and decent world – where the Mariners aren’t owned by tight-fisted old misers – I would expect, at the very least, a prospect or two we could all be excited about.

There’s no “winning” this trade for the Mariners. At best, I think we have to hope everyone else loses. But, just know that I’m mentally preparing myself for the time when Kelenic becomes a legitimate star in this league. It almost seems destined at this point. And, if Evan White turns his fortunes around, you’re going to see quite a bit of the erstwhile Mariners Future out there performing for other teams, while the Actual Mariners remain in Seattle wasting all of our fucking time.

The Mariners Are Going About This All Wrong

I was scrolling through reels on Instagram a while back and every so often something Mariners-related pops up. Like a video podcast thing. I’m not in the market for more Mariners content on my For You Page, but thankfully I don’t see it a lot. Just the right amount, I would say.

Anyway, someone on this podcast made a great point; I’d love to give him credit, but I don’t remember what the page is called.

The whole thing with the Mariners cutting payroll has to do with this situation with Comcast putting Root Sports on the premium sports cable package. That comes with an increased cost for Mariners fans, which is especially prohibitive when you consider the amount of M’s fans who aren’t necessarily fans of these other sports channels that are being offered. You could put the onus on these fans to seek out alternatives to get Root Sports without the additional cost, but there are a lot of variables there. We don’t know what cable providers are available to fans. Maybe there IS no way to keep Root while keeping the cost for cable the same. And I have to imagine that there are a lot of older Mariners fans who aren’t as savvy with whatever alternatives are out there. Cable is a dying industry, and a good chunk of its subscribers are aging out right along with it, keeping cable around due to inertia.

The way I see it, there are three types of people within the cable subscription community. There are those who don’t follow sports. Considering the rationale behind Comcast doing this, I have to believe this is the majority of subscribers. Then, there are the hardcore Mariners/sports fans. If they don’t already have the premium sports cable package, then I’m sure they’ll sign up for it soon, to ensure they don’t miss a game. I have to imagine this is the extreme minority of cable subscribers.

Then, the third group is a pretty wide swath, ranging from regular Mariners fans, to fairweather fans, to the occasionally-curious Mariners observers who might tune in simply because everyone is talking about them, and they want to know what the fuss is all about. Maybe they saw a fun highlight on the evening news, maybe people at work were chatting about the team. Regardless, these are the people the Mariners are losing. These are the people who aren’t likely to pony up for the premium sports package, because while they might be fans, while they might have a passing fancy, they’re not interested enough to spend what it costs every month to keep the Mariners in their lives on a daily basis.

Where the Mariners are going about this all wrong is that they’re not even TRYING to retain these people. They’re just giving up. Maybe they know something we don’t. Maybe they’ve done the studies and found out that there’s nothing they could do that will get those middle-of-the-road Mariners fans on board with a price hike. If so, so be it.

But, I’ve seen what this area is like when the Mariners are truly great. I’ve seen fan interest in this team skyrocket. From 1995-2003, this was the hottest ticket in town, especially from 2000-2003, when we were winning 90+ games every year. Seattle buzzes when the Mariners are cooking.

It would stand to reason, then, that if we put in an effort this offseason, if we went out and made some splashy trades or free agent signings, the hype around this team would grow and grow. With that hype, we’d see an increase in subscriptions, because more of those middle-tier fans would want to get in on the excitement.

Do you think Dodgers fans are going to miss a minute of the action this year? Hell, I have no feelings towards them whatsoever and even I’m intrigued!

Instead, the Mariners have done the exact opposite. They’ve so poisoned the well with this team that they’ve dampened hope and expectations. It’s like they’re actively driving fans away! And it’s not like this team has been gutted; they should still be good for at least 80 wins, and probably hang around wild card contention into September. This isn’t a BAD collection of players. But, by giving up so thoroughly and so loudly, it’s making the great players we kept around look less exciting. Julio Rodriguez is a superstar; he should be Must See TV. But, when he’s one of only, like, three competent hitters in the lineup, what’s the point in continually seeing him stranded on the basepaths? George Kirby is one of the best up-and-coming starters in all of baseball; but, what’s the point in watching him lose 1-0 every five days?

It just feels like bad business. The Mariners are not only doing nothing to try to bring in new consumers, but they’re also pushing away the die-hards by giving us nothing to hope for. A .500 ballclub gives us a 50/50 chance of being happy on the rare occasion we go to the games in person. But, it’s nothing I’m particularly interested in watching night-in and night-out on television. You’d think for billionaires, they’d come up with better ideas on how to make money.

You know what makes a lot of money? Teams that win the World Series! Not so much teams that fall a game or two short of the playoffs every year.

The Bears Hired Former Seahawks OC Shane Waldron

For the record, I never thought Shane Waldron was The Problem with the Seahawks the last few years. I don’t know if I was often wildly impressed with his playcalling or his gameplans, but he never stood out so negatively that I felt the urge to run him out on a rail.

We hired him from the Rams ahead of the 2021 season, where he was a, I dunno, Passing Game Coordinator? What even is that? Not someone who calls plays. Not someone who designs an offense. Pretty much: he knows Sean McVay, so maybe he can deploy an offense like Sean McVay. All right. I would say the McVay Coaching Tree isn’t totally bereft; Matt LaFleur is doing well in Green Bay, and Zac Taylor lucked into Joe Burrow in Cincinnati. But, now we’re just plucking any ol’ made up position coach and handing them the keys to an entire side of the football?

I wouldn’t say Waldron had the easiest landing when it came to his biggest promotion to date. He had to endure the final season of Russell Wilson in Seattle (where Wilson missed three games, then played terribly through the next three games thanks to a thumb injury), he had to transition to Geno Smith, and then he had to survive the final season of Pete Carroll in Seattle (where Geno missed some time and Drew Lock had to start actual football games).

In 2021, the Seahawks were 20th in yards per game and 16th in points per game. In 2022, we improved to 13th in yards per game (a 27 yards per game jump) and 9th in points per game (only a 0.7 PPG jump). In 2023, we regressed to 21st in yards per game, and 17th in PPG.

So, some good and some bad. We actually dropped in 2021 (in total yards and total points) compared to 2020 (the last season with Brian Schottenheimer as the OC), but you can see why a first-time signal caller would have some growing pains, especially in the dysfunction that was the 2021 Seahawks. But, as I noted here, the 2023 regression came at the hands of a wildly disappointing rushing attack, and that’s with arguably better talent at the running back position.

I find it interesting that the Bears were all over Shane Waldron. Granted, they’re The Bears, and it’s about as inept of a group as you’ll find in the NFL, especially on the offensive side of the ball. How many OCs is this for Justin Fields, going into just his fourth NFL season? Three. Dating back to 2010, no OC has lasted more than two seasons there. Their head coach, Matt Eberflus, just survived by the hairs on his chinny-chin-chin when it came to retaining his own job. I think it’s fair to say if this team doesn’t miraculously make the playoffs in 2024, we’ll likely see a full blown reconstruction of the coaching staff. And that’s not even factoring in the HUGE decision they have to make: do they take Caleb Williams at #1 overall? Or, do they trade that pick for more picks and roll with Justin Fields in the final year of his rookie deal?

This is The Bears we’re talking about, so whatever they choose will be the wrong decision. But, who knows? Crazier things have happened. The Lions are in the NFC Championship Game for crying out loud!

The thing with Shane Waldron is: we don’t really know if he’s good or bad. I get the feeling it’s difficult to be a coordinator under Pete Carroll. I feel like sometimes Pete meddles, and sometimes he’s entirely hands off, but either way it tends to go poorly unless we’re loaded with supremely talented players to make up for coaching deficiencies.

Darrell Bevell is the best offensive coordinator we’ve ever had (who just so happens to have gotten buried under the weight of one terrible call in the Super Bowl). I thought he was relatively creative and adaptive to personnel. He also had Russell Wilson in his magician years, and one of the most underrated receivers of all time in Doug Baldwin, to say nothing of the toughest running back of his era in Marshawn Lynch. In that sense, you’d think pretty much any playcaller would be able to succeed with that collection of talent.

Shane Waldron didn’t have those players. His players were okay, but definitely not on that level. The thing that stands out with Waldron is: there’s no one thing he appears to be elite at. It definitely didn’t feel like we got the Rams’ offense in Seattle. There were times this unit looked unstoppable, but also too many times where they kept getting in their own way and couldn’t do anything but go 3 & Out.

That being said, I didn’t see a lot of absolutely terrible play calls. Nothing out of the ordinary. Nothing that you wouldn’t see from any other offense. Sometimes it seemed like he’d go away from the running game just as it was working, but if that’s your biggest complaint, it’s probably not so bad.

Ultimately, Waldron wasn’t special. He was Just A Guy, in a long line of JAGs. We could do worse, of course. But, the hope is that we’ll end up doing better.

Shane Waldron just so happened to coincide with Clint Hurtt being the DC at the same time during his tenure here. So, in that sense, he lucked out. All the vitriol went to his counterpart, leaving Waldron flying well under the radar.

And apparently, doing a good-enough job for the Bears to hire him at the most critical juncture of their franchise’s history in the last two decades.

The Disappointing Mariners Tenure Of Robbie Ray

Was this always a dumb idea? We sit here and we piss and moan about the Mariners not spending any money on free agents, then when they actually do – to the tune of 5 years and $115 million for Robbie Ray a couple years ago – what happens? He doesn’t quite live up to the hype, then he gets injured and misses a season and a half.

I will say that this Walking Tommy John Surgery Waiting To Happen line is scarily accurate.

In hindsight, of course this was a dumb idea. We got Robbie Ray immediately following his career-best season. We bought stock in him at the absolute peak of his value. He’d never really seriously contended for a Cy Young Award before that; he was always kind of up and down throughout his career. AND we were getting him starting with his Age 30 season, banking that he’d learned whatever trick he needed to learn to be an upper echelon starting pitcher (when, in reality, he just had an inordinate amount of good luck with Toronto in 2021, and it was going to be impossible for him to ever replicate that again).

Ray started his 2022 season with two straight months of mediocrity (a near-5 ERA through the first week of June), before focusing on his 2-seam fastball and jumpstarting a fantastic turnaround. The rest of the way, he was much better, with some pretty notable exceptions.

July of 2022, he had back-to-back starts against the Astros, where he combined for 5.2 innings, 10 runs on 15 hits and 4 walks, with only 4 strikeouts. Fast forward to back-to-back starts in September, against the Braves and Angels, where he combined for 10 innings, 9 runs on 16 hits and a walk.

Then, there were the two disasterous appearances in the playoffs. 4 runs in 3 innings against the Blue Jays (where we miraculously came back to win 10-9), followed by a walk-off, game-losing homer allowed two pitches into a bullpen appearance against the Astros. He ate up two thirds of an inning in that 18-inning marathon loss to the Astros a few days later, but the damage was done.

There was cautious optimism for a rebound in 2023. If anyone was veteran-enough and confident-enough to make it back from such a disastrous finish to a season, it was Ray. He had a tremendous Spring Training, but it was all for naught, as he threw 91 pitches in 3.1 innings of his first start before blowing out his arm and requiring that aforementioned Tommy John surgery. He went on to miss the rest of 2023, and it was announced that the earliest he’d be available is around the All Star Break in 2024. That always bodes poorly, as pitchers are rarely the same after such a substantial layoff. Best case scenario is he’s something close to normal by the start of 2025, but by then he’ll be 33 years old, so that’s asking a lot.

You can’t really rule out a comeback in 2024, but I’m just going to say it’s not very likely. In an ideal world, he’s a boost to your rotation late in the season, and some injury insurance if you can hang around contention for that long. But, I was heading into this year not expecting anything out of Robbie Ray, and willing to be pleasantly surprised if he proved me wrong.

I guess I can’t be shocked, then, that the Mariners decided to trade him. We already got rid of the over-inflated contracts of Marco Gonzales, Evan White, and Eugenio Suarez; part of me wondered if Robbie Ray would be next. Given the M.O. of this ownership group and front office, $23 million is a lot to spend on someone who might not help you out at all this year (or, at the very least, not at all through the first half). According to Mariners Math, we couldn’t afford it (it’s like Girl Math, only MUCH more stingy).

In that case, the return makes sense. Frisco takes our dead money, and we take theirs. Mitch Haniger is a walking oblique strain waiting to happen, and that starter we got from them is nothing more than a J.A.G. But, at least Haniger might give us a third of a season, and the pitcher might give us some sub-par bullpen outings in blowout games. And, in the grand scheme of things, we don’t have to pay Robbie Ray an additional $50 million across 2025 and 2026 (assuming he sticks around on the player option); we just have to pay Haniger $15.5 million in 2025.

I will say, though, the potential upside for this deal is all on the Giants’ side. It’s MUCH more likely that Ray turns into a useful starter again, than it is that Haniger will play anything close to a full season over the next two years. Even if we take extra special care of Haniger, give him lots of rest days, and he manages to make it through without an IL stint, I don’t trust that he’s still a good player. His numbers have been in steep decline since 2018, and he’s 33 this year. I’m guessing he’s very close to being done as a Major League player, if he isn’t done already.

I don’t think this is a good deal for the Mariners. It’s also probably not a good deal for the Giants, but I think it has the potential to be a better deal for them than I do for us. The Giants are buying low, so even if he does the bare minimum for them, it’s going to be a better outcome than it would ever have been for us.

All of that being said, I don’t entirely dislike Robbie Ray. He was kind of put in a no-win situation with the M’s. There was never going to be any living up to the contract. But, he did himself no favors by putting up way too many Erik Bedard-like outings. Ultimately, I think he’ll go down as being well-liked by fans, if for no other reason than he was a mentor to guys like George Kirby and Logan Gilbert. That’s cool, I guess. If his teachings made those guys better than they would’ve been otherwise, then I’ll hold him in high esteem.

Who was that old reliever who taught J.J. Putz his forkball? Eddie Guardado? I mean, that was probably his greatest contribution to the Mariners’ organization, and he’s pretty well-liked.

But, in the grand scheme of things, George Kirby was always going to be elite. Robbie Ray was … less than. And, he’ll go down as one of the biggest busts in Mariners history. For what he cost, for what he produced on the field, and for what he got us back in trade.

Is this the end of the Mariners’ cost-cutting trades this offseason? Well, there’s still another month or so before Spring Training. Somebody find Luis Castillo and make sure he’s still on the team!

Would Mike Vrabel Be The Right Guy For The Seahawks?

I don’t particularly love doing these speculative posts on free agents, be they coaches or players. I mean, there’s any number of potential acquisitions out there the Seahawks could bring in to coach this team, and it’s not like I’m going to write a post on all of them!

But, Mike Vrabel is an interesting topic for me. He’s one of the more known head coaching candidates, but also one that’s actually a viable option (unlike Belichick or Harbaugh, who seem destined to land elsewhere). If I had to guess, I’d say it’ll come down to Vrabel and Dan Quinn, with Quinn having a slight betting edge thanks to his history here (and the fact that we know he’s actually interviewed here).

If I had to choose from all available head coaching prospects, I would choose Vrabel. But, does that make him the best option? I’ll admit, this post just SCREAMS “overthinking”. Of course he’s the best option! I was a reasonably big fan of what the Titans were able to accomplish over the last few years, and I believe that had everything to do with Vrabel and his coaching staff getting the most out of a lackluster personnel group (outside of Derrick Henry and three years of A.J. Brown).

In his first year with the Titans, they managed to go 9-7 with a combination of Marcus Mariota and Blaine Gabbert at the helm. Starting in 2019, with a rejuvenated Ryan Tannehill, the Titans made the playoffs three straight years, winning two division titles, with a #1 seed overall in 2021. These were teams built on toughness, a stout defense and strong running game, with just enough flash and sizzle in the passing attack to keep things interesting (that is, until they traded away A.J. Brown and failed to adequately replace him).

That 2019 team was really something, taking a wild card berth and making it all the way to the AFC Championship Game, before losing to Patrick Mahomes’ Chiefs.

Unfortunately, that’s kind of where the good vibes end. The Titans were One & Done in the 2020 and 2021 playoffs. And it’s been a lean couple of seasons after that, going a combined 13-21. They’ve still played hard the last two years – gotta commend them for that – but lack of talent really sapped this coaching staff’s effectiveness.

It’s at this point where things start to get murky. Clearly, the Titans held onto Ryan Tannehill too long. And, in spite of using some relatively high draft picks on quarterbacks in recent years (third rounder for Malik Willis, high second rounder for Will Levis; both guys who dropped in the draft relative to projections), you can’t really say they took the process seriously. Neither quarterback has developed into much of anything, and it’s fair to question – if the Seahawks do what I’d like them to do, and that’s draft a potential QB of the future this year – whether or not Vrabel and his staff are capable of developing a young guy. They had their biggest success with a mostly-veteran team and a retread quarterback. Geno Smith often gets compared to Ryan Tannehill, and it sort of feels like Geno is at the point where Tannehill was in 2019 or 2020. If that’s the case, there likely isn’t a long shelf life left for Geno (with a clear ceiling), and if we don’t get started trying to find his replacement soon, it’s going to start looking really ugly around here.

Was Vrabel pushing to keep the status quo too long? He seems to get the most out of older guys, but can he get the most out of a young core? Or, on the flipside, was it the GM and front office of the Titans who were mostly responsible for that team going to pot? Honestly, that seems more likely, but if both Vrabel and the GM were in lockstep, then a lot of these bad personnel decisions of the last couple years falls on both of them.

I’ll be the first to admit, I thought the Titans were savvy to trade Brown away, get a first rounder for him, and try to rebuild their receiver room through the draft. I’ll also be the first to admit, I was dead wrong about Brown (I pegged him to be increasingly injury-prone over the life of his second contract), and the Titans miserably failed with Treylon Burks and others. One would hope, with John Schneider at the helm, we could get Vrabel more talented guys to play around with.

In the end, I’m not going to overthink this. Mike Vrabel is the best option for the Seahawks. I hope we can get a deal done.

Seahawks Death Week: Obvious Cap Casualties

If you want to see who the obvious salary cap casualties are, look no further than the top 12 salaries on this team. I’ll save the top guy (Geno Smith) for the end to help build some suspense, so let’s get crackin’ with number two.

I was more than a little surprised to see Tyler Lockett as a popular topic of conversation at the end of the season, when reporters mentioned that might’ve been his last game in a Seahawks uniform. On the one hand, it definitely makes sense: he was our #2 receiver last year, but he’s counting almost $28 million against the cap this year (what with his various contract restructures over the years). Still, with a dead cap hit coming in at almost $20 million, it’s not like you’re saving a ton. I know he’s probably not incentivized to do such a thing, but I guess I kinda thought maybe he’d re-work his deal over the final two years and retire as a lifelong Seahawk.

Ultimately, I think the smart move is to cut Lockett, let him join a contender for next year (if he wants to keep playing), or just let him walk away if he’s ready to retire. Even though his abilities are still there, he’s kind of lost a step, and is clearly not a good value for his cost. Saving even $8 million – in spite of the massive dead cap number – is almost certainly worthwhile.

I should point out that I don’t have the bandwidth to get into pre- and post-June cut possibilities with how much we can save in 2024 over 2025; let the smarter nerds get into those weeds.

Number 3 on the list is Jamal Adams; he has to go. He’s similar to Lockett in that there’s both a humongous cap hit (nearly $27 million) and dead cap number (nearly $21 million), but it’s night and day as far as personalities and production on the field. Adams is a waste of a roster space, he’s starting to feel like a cancer to this team, and quite frankly he’s just getting on the fanbase’s nerves at this point. There’s no way he’s going to salvage his career here, and at this point it’s kinder to all involved to let him leave.

Number 4 is D.K. Metcalf and he’s not going anywhere. A) because he’s probably the most talented player on this roster, and B) because his cap hit and dead cap number are nearly the same ($24.5 million vs. $23 million). The bottom line is: he’s giving you $24.5 million worth of production as this team’s #1 receiver, and that’s what matters most.

Number 5 is Quandre Diggs, and his departure feels like a foregone conclusion. He’s got a cap hit over $21 million, with a dead cap number of just over $10 million. Number 6 is an interesting case, because I never would’ve thought Dre’Mont Jones would be a One & Done guy for us, but his contract is structured with an out if we want it. He counts just over $18 million this year, but his dead cap hit is just over $13 million. It’s not a lot, but it’s also not nothing. For what it’s worth, I think Jones will be back.

So, halfway through this exercise, if we get rid of Lockett, Adams, and Diggs, we shore up around $25 million. I should point out that – if we kept every single player under contract in 2024 – we would be right up against the salary cap threshold (technically around $4,000 over the limit). $25 million is a decent chunk of change for three guys who aren’t in our long-term future plans. But, there’s more where that came from.

#7 is Will Dissly, heading into the last year of a crazy deal he signed. His cap hit is $10 million, his dead cap number is around $3 million; no brainer, he gone. #8 is Julian Love (cap hit $8 million, dead cap around $2.5). I don’t think the team will cut Adams, Diggs, AND Love in the same offseason. With Love coming off of a Pro Bowl berth, it would make all the sense in the world to hang onto him, and maybe even extend him at the right price (he’ll only be 26 years old this year). #9 is Uchenna Nwosu, who we JUST extended, and is absolutely cost-prohibitive to cut at this time. And #10 is Devon Witherspoon, who is up there with D.K. Metcalf as one of the best players on this team and isn’t going anywhere.

But, #11 is Jarran Reed, and #12 is Bryan Mone (remember him?). If I’m being honest, it would be idiotic to cut Reed after the season he had. He’s an absolute bargain at nearly $6 million for the final year of his deal. Mone, on the other hand, is making almost the same amount of money, and only costs us half a mil in dead space.

So, with Dissly and Mone, we’re looking at $37 million freed up from five guys who should easily be replaced. After the top 12 guys, the drop-off is pretty significant as far as salary goes.

The key, though, is NOT to just give all of that money back to guys who are outgoing free agents. Leonard Williams is an obvious big-money guy who won’t be cheap. Even at this stage of his career, Bobby Wagner won’t settle for nothing. Drew Lock feels like a waste of $4 million as a backup. Phil Haynes is DEFINITELY a waste of $4 million for someone who can never stay healthy. Devin Bush was overpaid at $3.5 million in 2023. Noah Fant will probably want a significant raise from the just over $3 million he was making this past season. Jordyn Brooks will ABSOLUTELY want a huge raise. Then, there’s guys like Evan Brown, Darrell Taylor, Damien Lewis, Mario Edwards, Colby Parkinson, and DeeJay Dallas. Of the lot of them, I’d probably only want to hang onto Parkinson (mostly because it feels unlikely we’re going to go out and replace the ENTIRE tight end room in one offseason), because he’s got good size and could still figure to be a cheap option as this team’s #1 or #2 TE. I should point out that Taylor is an RFA, so we can hang onto him for a reasonable cost if we still want him. But, everyone else can go.

There’s probably no way we can afford to keep both Wagner AND Brooks; depending on the cost, I’d go with the younger option and stick him in the middle linebacker spot. But, I’m also not super invested in that either. I could let them both walk and feel just fine, if I’m being honest.

This brings us back to Geno Smith. He’s just over $31 million against the cap, with only a $17.4 million dead money hit. That’s almost an additional $14 million – to go along with $37 million freed up above – to give us potentially $51 million in money to spend. Of course, in this scenario, we’d have no quarterbacks, no tight ends, and only one safety with any sort of quality experience. I find it hard to believe that this ALL will happen – that these obvious cuts will indeed be made – but it’s also not difficult to talk yourself into it. What’s stopping us from bringing back Drew Lock on a cheap deal, letting Geno go, and drafting a quarterback in the first round to compete right away? If we get from Lock around 90% of what we got from Geno, at like an eighth of the cost, why don’t we just do THAT, and hope we hit on a rookie that develops for 2025?

I’ll be interested to see how many of these guys end up actually being cut. We won’t have to wait for long for some of them, as they have their salaries guaranteed shortly after the Super Bowl in February (if we don’t cut them first).