The Seahawks Will Lose To The Rams This Week

I feel like this one is going to hurt a little bit. Last week, I expected a loss, but it’s the Bills so who cares, right? This one is going to sting. Even though I can see it coming – and therefore am able to brace myself for impact a little bit better – there’s something about losing to the Rams that gets to me. Kind of like the Mariners with the Astros. In both cases, I would argue the Seahawks spent many years squandering opportunities to really bury the Rams when they were bad-to-mediocre (the Jeff Fisher years), just as the Mariners failed to take advantage of a historically bad Astros team in the years leading up to their dominant (and cheating) run. Losses to these teams now wouldn’t hit so hard if we’d beaten them when we were supposed to, because these things in sports are always cyclical. BUT, if you lose to teams within your division when they’re bad, and then continue to lose to them when they’re good, it’s not cyclical, it’s a trend. It gets in our heads. We start feeling a little more anxious and a little more desperate. We feel that as fans, and I would argue the team feels it a little bit.

Any win against the Rams feels like a fluke (like last year’s last-second victory in Seattle, on Thursday night, when their usually-reliable kicker – especially against us – missed a 44-yarder by … inches?) and any loss to the Rams feels appropriate (like last year’s 28-12 defeat down in Los Angeles, when the offense couldn’t do ANYTHING and the only touchdown we scored was a pick-six early in the second half). Every time I’ve written about the Seahawks/Rams matchups, I feel like I’m the same broken record: for the Seahawks to win, they’re going to have to prevail in a shootout. It’s going to be close throughout, and we will either need to score late or prevent a score late; something like 38-35 feels appropriate.

If you thought the defense looked bad against the Bills last week, just wait and see what the Rams’ offense has in store! Jared Goff has a weakness: he succumbs to pressure in his face. He’s not particularly fleet-of-foot, so if we can win some matchups along the defensive line – or send some well-timed blitzes – we should be able to get him down relatively easy. But, of course, that’s always a big IF! Because they’re so smart, the Rams are constantly looking to get the ball out of his hands as quickly as possible. And, as we’ve all seen from this Seahawks secondary, they can’t cover a dying sea turtle who’s been kicked onto its back and into a pile of wet cement (for some reason, Tre Flowers is STILL giving the dying sea turtle 15 yards of cushion!).

You remember the Grinch, when he’s imagining the Whos with their jing-tinglers and floofloovers and tartookas? How it’s all swirling around in his Grinchy brain, driving him mad? Well, for me, this Rams game is giving me Grinchy visions of crossing routes, with Robert Woods wide open 10 yards down field, and Cooper Kupp with dozens of unmolested yards-after-catch. Playing against this Snuggle Bear-soft defense must be like Christmas for these Rams receivers!

Isn’t the Seahawks’ defense cute, you guys?!

So, yeah, this feels very much like the Grinch strolling on down to Whoville. And, like the Grinch, I don’t think we’ll have the heart to steal Christmas from the Rams this week.

If every victory feels like pulling teeth, every defeat feels preordained. You know how the Rams beat the Seahawks? By living in Russell Wilson’s lap for four quarters. Aaron Donald and his cronies are always able to make quick work of our offensive line. To be fair, Aaron Donald is the most athletically-gifted football player alive today, so he makes MANY offensive lines look like they’re playing Tiddlywinks, but I’m starting to take it personally at how many levels he raises his game whenever he plays against the Seahawks. This is, of course, made all the more dire by the fact that Ethan Pocic got concussed in last week’s game and almost certainly won’t play this week (he has yet to practice, so even if he does get cleared before gametime, lack of practice is far from ideal as well). New, untested center, combined with rookie Damien Lewis at right guard and the revolving door that’s been playing left guard? Smells like a recipe for Aaron Donald to EAT, Hungry Hungry Hippos-style. Russell Wilson is the marbles. And someone is tipping the board to one side.

That having been said, I think that 28-12 loss was a fluke in its own right. I don’t remember what happened, but the Seahawks’ offense isn’t USUALLY that inept. Even when we lose to the Rams, it’s usually a higher-scoring affair. I think it’s much more likely that continues this weekend. But, I won’t throw out a Rams blowout victory with the bathwater; I think that’s very much on the table, as well as the close (and high-scoring) victories by either the Rams or Seahawks. I think there is almost a zero-percent chance the Seahawks blow out the Rams. If that happened, I think I’d be over the moon and on the hunt for Super Bowl tickets the following morning! How is Tampa in February? COVID-free, I would presume …

My hope for this game is that it took a week for our defense (at least, the guys who joined/re-joined the team) to mesh, and with a second week of practice, they’ll figure out a way to make it work and get some stops before we dig too deep a hole for ourselves. Snacks Harrison is joining the squad this week – after needing about a month to get in shape (both shape-shape and football-shape) – so hopefully he provides a little boost to our run defense (and maybe frees up Jarran Reed to be more disruptive in pass rush). I also hope that whatever breakdowns in communication we had last week have been fixed among the secondary, so guys aren’t running QUITE so wide open all over the motherfucking field.

On the flipside, I do expect the offense to be at least a little more careful with the football, compared to last week. I wouldn’t expect quite so many turnovers. I think we will score some points. But, I can’t help but envision us being down by two scores at some point, and scrambling to come back late in the game. We’re probably looking at a game where we pull it to within one score very late, needing an onside kick recovery that won’t be bouncing our way.

And, by falling to 6-3, that puts us in a VERY dangerous position of being in third place in our own division (assuming the Cards beat the Bills at home). At that point, Seattle is going to be officially renamed Panic City. But, I’m here to say things ARE bound to improve. We follow this Rams game up with a Thursday Night home game against the Cardinals, which will be a Must Win, and one I think we’ll get. From there, it’s the aforementioned 4-spot against the Eagles, Giants, Jets, and Washington; win all those games and we go from 6-3 to 11-3. Then, there’s a Rams home game in late December that will probably be another Must Win (if we want to take the division and the NFC’s top seed). If we can find a way to get that one, and win down in San Francisco in the final week of the season, we’re looking at a 13-3 finish (on the back of a 7-game winning streak). I think that is ABSOLUTELY a reasonable outcome to expect for this season.

It’s always darkest before the dawn, people! I’m pretty sure that guy from that one Batman movie originally said that, so you know it’s true. We just have to get through this rough patch and then it’s still choppy smooth sailing from here on out! I still believe the Seahawks are a championship-calibre team.

I just don’t think they’re going to look like one this week.

Nobody Wants To Hear About My Fantasy Team 2020: Tua The Window, Tua The Wall!!!

SKEET SKEET MOTHERFUCKERS!!! I am ROCK-HARD right now! All praise to Tua (and Sloane N Steady for waiving him, and the rest of the league for leaving him to me to pick up). My fuckin’ fantasy quarterback troubles are over (well, half over; damn Wentz). I don’t even care that I won! Not really, anyway (okay, I do care); I’m just happy Tua got me 27.9 points and looked good on the road against a frisky Cardinals defense. It’s not even that great of a performance, but it shows we’re scratching the surface of his potential, and THAT is what’s got my loins ablaze at the moment with the intensity of a thousand suns. Fuckin’ Tua, y’all! Let’s get this!

Once again, it helped my chances to have my opponent vastly underperform his projections, but a win is a win and I’ve been on the other side of this PLENTY of times in my storied fantasy football career. That being said, my 168.00 points is nothing to sneeze at! It’s on the higher side of average (and plenty to beat Beasts’ 138.50). It’s actually my second-highest output this season, which is sort of alarming (I don’t see any 200-point games in my future this year), but makes sense if you’ve been following along.

On top of Tua’s remarkable performance, Kirk Cousins was even better with 29! On top of that, my starting receivers – Jerry Jeudy and A.J. Brown – scored 25.5 and 20.1 respectively (Brown did indeed continue his streak of scoring at least one touchdown!). There wasn’t really a dud in the bunch, though my 3-headed running back hydra all scored in the 11-14 range which is just so-so. I didn’t get enough of a boost from the Washington defense to really make them worth picking up in the first place (somehow, the Giants and Daniel Jones managed to NOT turn the ball over for the first time all season, the one week I needed them to of course), but in the end it didn’t matter.

Speaking of Jerry Jeudy, I’m finding him to be a really interesting mid-season find for my roster, not just as a potential keeper, but as a potential Starting Wide Receiver alongside A.J. Brown. As a rookie, Jeudy clearly had the best game of his career this past week, which is giving me pause, as I had intended him to be a one-game plug-and-play. I wouldn’t have even picked him up at all if Brandon Aiyuk wasn’t placed on the COVID list! But, Jeudy has 24 targets in his last two games. Now, the downside is, obviously, Denver’s quarterback situation. It’s not good. But, Drew Lock is CLEARLY better than his backups, and they can somewhat move the ball when he’s in there. I can’t tell if Lock is good yet (as I absolutely refuse to watch Broncos games because they’re so boring), but he might be. And I think Jeudy has the potential to be this year’s A.J. Brown (who, down the stretch LAST year as a rookie, really dominated for a lot of really good fantasy teams). So, I think I’m going to hang onto Jeudy and start him for a while, because his matchups the rest of the way are pretty solid. And, if he kills it, my wide receiver spot is locked cold!

Beasts got a huge boost from the return of Christian McCaffery (37.1), but Russell Wilson obviously had a tough game, and Justin Herbert was the only other player on his team to hit double-digits. Everyone else was under 10.

Before the weekend was finished, I made a roster move, picking up Dallas Goedert, who is healthy and the primary tight end (at the moment) for Carson Wentz and the Eagles. Noah Fant is not so reliable for me; he keeps getting injured (missing some snaps this past week after an early big gainer, never really picking things up from there) and he’s on an offense (again with the Broncos) that can struggle to move the ball. Goedert is a legitimate Top 10 tight end when healthy, on an offense that LOVES to throw to its tight ends (especially in the red zone). As long as Zach Ertz is out, Goedert is a phenomenal pick-up for me.

To make room, I officially had to abandon the Daniel Jones experiment. He went from keeper (and hopeful fantasy franchise quarterback), to on the waiver wire in half a season. What a disgrace! Both for him and for me! But, I mean, you can’t keep banging your head against the wall when something isn’t working. I have Cousins now and he’s a much more reliable third QB. Tua is the future! Dimes was a mistake.

More roster moves needed to be made, as it appeared I had two wide receivers coming off of the IR in Brandon Aiyuk and Deebo Samuel. My first drop went to the Washington defense. I had three on my roster last week and that’s about two too many (but I’ll never drop the Rams’ defense, as they’ve got solid matchups coming up this season).

As of press time, I haven’t officially made the other move I need to make, because I still have up until Sunday morning. You never know who’s going to get tagged with a COVID designation for the week, so I don’t want to go dropping anyone before I have to. If I do end up needing to drop someone, it’s going to be Noah Fant. I have no use for two tight ends on my roster and if Goedert ends up getting hurt again, I’ll just pick up someone else. Fant isn’t even a top ten tight end – though he’s been a relatively consistent high-floor/low-ceiling guy – so I don’t mind streaming tight ends the rest of the year if I need to.

My concern is: my kicker is on a BYE this week. Harrison Butker hasn’t been the world-beater I expected (I REALLY regret taking him over Justin Tucker two rounds before the final round, where most people draft their kickers); he’s ranked 14th in our league this season. The Chiefs predominantly score touchdowns because they have an elite offense, which was to be expected, but he hasn’t been hitting as many 50+ yarders as I thought he would, and he’s annoyingly missed the most PATs in football, that have taken points AWAY from his total! But, I don’t want to just fucking lose him for nothing, because I know as soon as I drop him, he’s going to go off for some games in the high teens. So, I’ll be waiting until the last minute to pick up a replacement kicker; the guy I end up dropping to do THAT will be TBD.

This week, I go up against Crazy N8’s Prostates, the guy I improbably defeated in Week 1, as well as the guy who just traded for Drew Brees and Julio Jones. He’s currently 4th in the standings, yet has far-and-away scored the most points. Here’s what Nobody Beats The Wiz is looking at starting:

  • Tua Tagovailoa (QB) vs. LAC
  • Carson Wentz (QB) @ NYG
  • A.J. Brown (WR) vs. IND
  • Jerry Jeudy (WR) @ LV
  • Josh Jacobs (RB) vs. DEN
  • Chase Edmonds (RB) vs. BUF
  • Dallas Goedert (TE) @ NYG
  • Brandon Aiyuk (WR) @ NO
  • TBD (K) vs. TBD
  • Indianapolis (DEF) @ TEN

Pretty easy choice with the quarterbacks, as Kirk Cousins is playing a stout Bears defense on Monday Night Football. I expect that game to be low scoring, and it wouldn’t shock me to see Cousins turn the ball over a lot. Also a no-brainer for my starting wide receivers, as Brown is a Must Start and Jeudy might be heading that way. It’s a no-brainer for my running backs as well, because Ezekiel Elliott and Clyde Edwards-Helaire are both on BYEs. My FLEX spot is still up in the air, as there’s a rumor that Deebo Samuel might be healthy this week. If he is, he’s my guy over Aiyuk. However, with the 49ers scheduled to have a BYE next week, it wouldn’t surprise me to see them rest Deebo one more week before bringing him back super fresh. As for my defense, I don’t love the matchup, but I can’t play the Rams against my Seahawks, even if Aaron Donald alone will probably get three sacks and they could have a field day if Wilson continues to turn the ball over like he’s been doing.

I’m catching some more good BYE-week luck with Crazy N8’s Prostates, as both Julio Jones and Travis Kelce are out this week. As you’ll see, though, he has replacements more than capable of filling their shoes:

  • Josh Allen (QB) @ ARI
  • Drew Brees (QB) vs. SF
  • Allen Robinson (WR) vs. MIN
  • Robert Woods (WR) vs. SEA
  • James Conner (RB) vs. CIN
  • Aaron Jones (RB) vs. JAX
  • Eric Ebron (TE) vs. CIN
  • Keenan Allen (WR) @ MIA
  • Justin Tucker (K) @ NE
  • Green Bay (DEF) vs. JAX

He has some of the SICKEST matchups this week. I mean, Robert Woods alone – against our inept Seahawks defense – is just a nightmare. But, all his receivers should do great, his running backs might score three TDs apiece, his quarterbacks will certainly be fine, and I bet Baltimore kicks a lot of field goals against the Patriots on the road. He’s even got an elite defensive matchup (I should know, I picked up the Packers this week in my other league, where I should reiterate I am CRUSHING it).

Nobody Beats The Wiz is going to need to WILDLY outscore projections. This would be, probably, the most perfect time to net my first 200-point week of the season.

At 4-5, I’m in 7th place in the league, JUST on the outside-looking-in at the playoffs. I now have the third-fewest total points, having leapfrogged Korky Butchek for the honor. Now that everyone has played everyone once, we officially have a season that will count in the record books; if COVID officially ruins everything … well, I won’t have my name on the trophy, that’s for damn sure.

That having been said, I don’t expect the season to ever shut down completely. I have four weeks to make up ground. If I get lucky, my final two regular season games could be against my direct competition for the 6th and final spot in the playoffs. I technically have control of my own destiny; if I win out, I will definitely make the post-season. But, come on, let’s not go overboard here.

One week at a time. Let’s go 2-0 against Crazy N8! Wouldn’t that be something?

The BYE-Week Seahawks Keep On Winning!

For the risk-averse, there’s nothing better than a BYE week. Your team can’t lose! There shouldn’t be any new injuries! You hope there aren’t any DUIs or bar fights, but the odds of that happening are mighty low! I guess you can worry about COVID now, but I’m not going to let that keep me up at night.

Being 5-0 during a BYE week is that much better, because you get to enjoy the high of perfection for one more week, with the possibility of other teams around you taking one on the chin. In this regard, the Seahawks had a pretty ideal weekend.

Heading into yesterday, there was one other undefeated team in the NFC. The Green Bay Packers were 4-0, heading to Tampa Bay to take on Tom Brady and the Bucs. They were only favored by 1 or 2 points (depending on where you looked) and it seemed like a foregone conclusion that the Packers would win, that the line was too low, and anyone betting certain family farms on them might come away pretty happy!

Well, when the Packers went up 10-0, it sure as shit seemed that way! Then, the Bucs scored 38 unanswered to really boring up that one. BUT, what’s bad for the Packers (and my poor, mistreated family farm) is good for the Seahawks, who are now the ONLY unbeaten team in the NFC (the AFC has the Titans and Steelers, but they don’t factor into our getting the #1 seed, so bully for them).

Considering we won’t see the Packers in the regular season, that’s a pretty significant loss. We’re a game up now! More importantly, I think, is the fact that they appear to be mortal again. The Packers had put up 30+ in all of their games before yesterday; Aaron Rodgers looked like a man possessed until the second quarter onward against the Bucs. Now, they look beatable. Of course, it took an outstanding defensive performance to slow them down; I don’t know if the Seahawks have that in them. But, that won’t matter until we get to the playoffs anyway.

In the meantime, the Packers have a lot of tough defensive matchups headed their way. They play at the 49ers in early November (when they should be relatively healthy again), they play at Indy, they host the Titans, and they have two games against the Bears in the final six weeks of the season. It’s entirely possible that the Packers get beaten up a little bit. Whereas, I’ll remind you again that the Seahawks have a relatively soft landing the rest of the way, particularly outside of our divisional games.

Speaking of the division, we got some help there too! Last night, the 49ers toppled the Rams in convincing fashion to hand them their second defeat. That is SO HUGE! I might be one of the few big Rams believers out there, but I can certainly see why you might be skeptical. At 4-2, the Rams’ four wins have all come against the putrid NFC East. Some of those games were close, with the Rams not looking particularly great to boot. Now they’ve lost to Buffalo and the 49ers, two common opponents (which plays into tiebreaker scenarios we’ll get to later in the season).

It’s interesting, because I think the Rams really got the unlucky end of the stick here when it came to their schedule. As the third place team in the NFC West last year, the two games that placement decides are against the third place teams in the South and North from last year. Which just so happens to be the Bucs and Bears, respectively (the two teams currently LEADING their respective divisions). I don’t expect the Rams will lose both of those games, but they COULD; regardless, I expect them to be properly tenderized, as going up against those defenses will be a considerable challenge.

It’s nice to have this cushion against the Rams, because I still see them as the second best team in the division. So, having a 2-game lead should make all the difference in the world, as I don’t think they’re finished losing for the season.

What I’m just a LITTLE curious about is this 49ers team. At 3-3, they’ve been effectively left for dead, but we’ve all seen those Halloween movies; don’t turn your back on Michael Myers! What I want to know is: what will this team look like when it gets back to full strength? Obviously, that will never truly happen this season, as a couple of key components along their defensive line are out until 2021. But, what about all the guys who will return? They’re already starting to get some guys back, and as you can see they looked pretty good last night. Odds are, this is their season from hell and they’ll continue to see guys go down periodically. But, regardless, the times we go up against them will still be dogfights, just as the games against the Rams and Cardinals will be.

I was massively impressed with the 49ers’ offensive line, holding the Rams to zero sacks, and keeping Aaron Donald in check. That will literally NEVER happen when the Seahawks go up against them, but boy is that ever fun to dream about!

The only other NFC teams to worry about are the aforementioned Bucs and Bears, who both prevailed and looked good doing it yesterday. But, they’re not on my radar at all. They might end up with good records, but I don’t think Tom Brady or Nick Foles are quarterbacks who will do anything special at their ages, and on these particular offenses. The defenses for these teams will ensure they make the playoffs; one or both might even win their divisions. But, I don’t think either will be in line for the #1 seed. It would just be nice if these teams continued to help us out by beating the teams I’m legitimately scared of: the Packers, and everyone in the NFC West.

Tonight, the Cardinals play in Dallas. I think the Cards will prevail, but that’s no sure thing. The Cowboys could help us out A LOT by getting a win. Do it for Dak! Do it for America! Do it for the Seattle Seahawks!

Chicken Or Egg: Can A Dominant Secondary Prop Up A Middling Pass Rush?

The consensus opinion is that the most important aspect of a dominant defense is its pass rush. Boiling it down to its root: the goal of a defense is to give the ball back to its offense without allowing the other team to score. The best way to do that is to force a turnover; otherwise, forcing them to punt or turn it over on downs will suffice. When it comes to defending the pass, harassing the quarterback seems to be the best way to either generate turnovers or put opposing offenses behind the chains, usually resulting in punts. The sack is obviously ideal; it’s a negative play for the offense that can sometimes result in fumbles. But, just getting in the quarterback’s face – forcing him “off his spot” or otherwise messing with his timing – can lead to interceptions, incompletions, or harmless check-downs that gain little-to-no yards on that play.

The Seahawks – as has been the lament all off-season – are projected to have one of the worst – if not THE worst – pass rushes in the NFL. This is a travesty because as it stood in 2019, the defense was already pretty mediocre; this is also a travesty because we have Russell Wilson in his prime and we seem to be wasting those years by losing in the Wild Card or Divisional rounds of the playoffs.

But, the thing is, the Seahawks clearly haven’t done NOTHING. They’ve tried to mitigate the loss of Jadeveon Clowney by picking up multiple lesser individuals – in free agency and the draft – and they’re hoping that young holdovers from previous seasons make a leap in their development. They’ve also done a remarkable job shoring things up at the linebacker and secondary levels over the last two years, picking up multiple speedy linebackers in the draft, as well as trading for two phenomenal safeties and one troubled-but-excellent cornerback. We’ll see if it plays out as such, but an argument could be made that the Seahawks have the best secondary and the best group of linebackers from top to bottom in the entire league. They certainly have the highest-rated linebacker in Bobby Wagner, and a total superstar in Jamal Adams.

So, my question is: can all of that compensate for a sub-par (or even flat-out BAD) pass rush?

We always talk about how great pass rushes make up for mediocre secondaries; guys don’t have to cover wide receivers as long, because the quarterback has to make his decisions much quicker. But, whenever we talk about the opposite – great secondaries blanketing receivers, allowing the D-Line time to get home – we just dismiss it as a “coverage sack”. As if, A) they don’t count as much as a regular sack, and B) it’s some sort of fluke that never happens. I’d love to know the numbers, but I would argue if coverage sacks are so rare, maybe that’s because teams spend all their resources focused so much on the D-Line and hardly any of their resources on their secondaries.

Around Seattle, we love to talk about the Legion of Boom, and for good reason. That collection of individuals was freaky talented, and from top to bottom the best I’ve ever seen. The Seahawks went to back-to-back Super Bowls with that group leading the way, winning one. Yes, that group also had a pretty great D-Line – helmed by Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril – but they were VASTLY overshadowed by the L.O.B. And, not for nothing, but the main reason why we lost that second Super Bowl isn’t because Russell Wilson tried to throw a slant in heavy traffic at the goalline, but rather because the ENTIRE Legion of Boom suffered catastrophic injuries either in the lead-up to or in the middle of that game. Don’t forget the Seahawks had a 10-point lead heading into the fourth quarter, before Tom Brady & Co. marched up and down the field at will. Had we rushed Marshawn Lynch and scored a touchdown on that second down play, they still would’ve had somewhere around 20 seconds or so to get into field goal range (which, the way the Patriots were moving, seemed inevitable).

Which leads me to ask: where was our supposedly-dominant pass rush THEN?! Why weren’t they able to pick up the slack when the L.O.B. was out of commission?!

Now, obviously it’s a stretch to say this seconary is as good as the L.O.B. But, for this incarnation of the NFL, it’s pretty fucking elite. With a couple of lockdown cornerbacks, and a couple of playmaking safeties, I think the Seahawks can provide enough pressure on the back-end of the defense to allow the front-line workers an opportunity to get in the quarterback’s face and do some real damage, regardless of who we’ve got up there.

I don’t know how to do a lot of this research, so a lot of what I’m about to say is pretty anecdotal. But, how many passing plays result in a sack? Not a very high percentage, I’d say. How many plays result in pressure on the quarterback? Obviously, a little higher, but there’s a lot of variables at play: how good is the O-Line? How good is the quarterback? How quick can the quarterback make a decision to get rid of the football? Is the offense set up for the quarterback to make quick, short throws, rendering even the BEST defensive lines inadequate? There’s a reason why more offenses are turning into some version of the college spread offense, and it’s to neutralize the opposing pass rush! Aaron Donald is the best defensive lineman since Reggie White; he’ll be an automatic first-ballot hall of famer. And yet, it’s not like he’s getting to the quarterback on every single play, no matter how it may seem (especially as a Seahawks fan, watching this miserable offensive line over the years).

The Seahawks, in the early days of this era, were lauded for zagging while the rest of the league zigged. We targeted tall, bruising players in the secondary before everyone else, essentially starting that trend by proving the tactic is viable. We opted to hand the offense to a short quarterback who runs a lot when the VAST majority of teams still thought they had to be 6’5 white statues in the Peyton Manning/Tom Brady mold. We’ve featured a punishing running game when the league was clearly going towards a pass-first model, and have won the second-most games in all of football, behind only the New England Patriots.

So, why are we automatically dismissive of the Seahawks zagging once again?

If the rest of football is moving towards a quick passing game to neutralize the pass rush aspect, then doesn’t it make sense to bolster your secondary, so you can get up on those receivers, and force the quarterback to hold onto the ball longer? Everyone talks about how difficult that is, and how much strain it puts on a coverage to follow those receivers around, but it also puts a lot of strain on an offensive line! I don’t care how great you are, it’s hard to block ANY defensive line for 5+ seconds per play!

And even if you discount the quick-passing game, the very best quarterbacks – those same guys you see year-in and year-out in the playoffs – are almost always able to get rid of the football and make plays in the face of even the very best stampeding pass rush. BUT, if you show those guys a mediocre defensive front, they might relax a bit more, and in trying to wait out a hole appearing in the secondary, and that’s when guys like Benson Mayowa and Bruce Irvin are able to shine. Because, they’ll get there eventually. They might not take over games like Clowney or Donald, but they’re not so incompetent that they’re totally worthless.

There’s no single blueprint to build a champion. Often, it’s the teams doing things a little differently who manage to make the leap, leading a very reactionary NFL to follow their example, instead of setting out on their own courses. Yes, it’s a copycat league, but those ALWAYS come with diminishing returns. Because, while everyone is trying to copy the hot, new trend, everyone ELSE is trying to figure out how to stifle that hot new trend! First it was offenses throwing more than rushing, which led to the meteoric rise in bolstering pass rush as a counter-measure. Then, offenses morphed into throwing quick, short passes, and getting the ball out to playmakers in space, hoping they make plays. I would argue the only natural counter to this method is to have VERY fast linebackers and VERY elite secondary players, to limit that open space as much as possible. This should lead to either the quarterback holding the ball longer than intended, or following through on their game plans, with those plays resulting in short gains or incompletions.

I’m ready to believe in this tactic. If it works, the Seahawks might once again be at the forefront of a new trend the rest of the league chooses to copy in 2021 and beyond.

Of course, if it doesn’t work, everyone will get to say, “I told you so,” and the Seahawks will be made to look the FOOLS! You know what? We’re all just trying to do our best with what we have, and I’m okay with that.

The Seahawks Signed Benson Mayowa

We can’t wait around forever for Clowney to make up his G.D. mind! The Seahawks have places to go, people to see, and motherfuckin’ ASSES to kick!

You know, assuming we’re ever allowed to kick asses again (thanks Obama corona).

Benson Mayowa was signed to a 1-year, $3 million deal (with incentives possibly taking it up another mil). You might remember him as the last man on the defensive line depth chart in 2013, when he played in just 2 games and generated all of 2 tackles. He’s bounced around from Oakland to Dallas to Arizona and back to Oakland again in his career, playing mostly part-time roles in pass rushing situations.

He’s not, what you would call, a particularly sexy signing (you get what you pay for, of course), but HONESTLY? I mean, he had 7.0 sacks last year in 302 total snaps for the Raiders; by comparison, Bruce Irvin had 8.5 sacks in 608 total snaps. So, you know, do the math (please do the math, I was an English major; my brain isn’t equipped to handle such complex equations).

This is a depth piece.

We hope.

PLEASE GOD LET THIS BE A DEPTH PIECE AS OPPOSED TO THE WHOLE FUCKING ENCHILADA!

No, it’s fine. We’re all fine. He’ll be good.

Real talk though, as it stands, our starting four (if the season started this morning) would be Irvin, Jarran Reed, Poona Ford, and Mayowa. If that sounds UNDERWHELMING AF, then I warn you: don’t look at the depth chart behind those guys.

Are you ready? Don’t say I didn’t warn you:

  • Rasheem Green (5 sacks in 2 years)
  • Branden Jackson (3.5 sacks in 4 years)
  • L.J. Collier (0.0 sacks in 1 year)
  • Bryan Mone (0.0 sacks in 1 year)

I dunno, there might be more under futures contracts or whatever, but you get the idea.

I read in the Seattle Times this morning that there are reports the Seahawks are offering somewhere in the $13-$15 million per year range to Clowney, who has since lowered his asking price (from over $20 million per year) to the $17-$18 million range. He previously stated that he wanted to play for a contender, but it looks like only the shitbird teams are interested in paying him what he’s looking for.

I like that the Seahawks are sticking to their guns here. He’s got an injury history, and while he can certainly be disruptive – even world-wrecking at times – he just doesn’t have the sack numbers to make it enticing for teams to want to re-set the defensive end market with him. He’s not Khalil Mack. He’s not Von Miller. He’s not Aaron Donald. He’s GOOD, don’t get me wrong; he would easily be the best defensive lineman on the Seahawks by a million miles! But, there is simply too much risk in guaranteeing him an insane amount of money, when I’ve kinda sorta been saying all along that I think we can get similar production from a collection of 2-3 mid-tier guys for the same amount of money.

And, that’s the whole point of the Mayowa signing. It’s in Clowney’s best interests to wait out this market – wait out this virus – and hopefully show out for interested teams in a tryout of sorts. But, that is in direct conflict with the Seahawks’ needs. We can’t wait for him to ultimately settle for whatever deal comes in at the last minute; we need to fill in this roster around him. Waiting for him to maximize his value will only serve in the rest of the league taking all of the other next-best options off the table.

At this point, I say just get Everson Griffen signed, maybe another mid-tier guy, and call it a day until the draft. If Clowney wants to play ball for a winner, he knows where to find us.

For Real This Time: We’ve Come To The End Of The Road For The 2019 Seahawks

Every year, after the Seahawks’ season ends – meaning they either get knocked out of the playoffs, they fail to make those playoffs, or that one time they won it all and the NFL season came to its conclusion – I run a week’s worth of posts under the banner “Seahawks Death Week”. Sort of an In Memoriam, as it really does have a funereal feel whenever the NFL season comes to a close. Without the NBA in my life – and still a year away from the NHL – what do I have to look forward to for the next 9 months? Baseball? The Mariners?! Stick a gun in my mouth right now …

Anyway, ever the trooper, I’ve already gotten a jumpstart on Seahawks Death Week, outlining the set of posts that will drop in the coming days. There’s the traditional final game recap, an always-unsatisfying “What Went Right” piece (to try to bring a little hope into the following season), a raging “What Went Wrong” screed, and my favorite exercise: What The Seahawks Should Do Next (because the NFL season never really ends, when you can obsess about the draft and free agency).

In case you couldn’t tell, I believe this is where the Seahawks’ season ends. I’ve said that all along, as soon as we blew it against the Cardinals and 49ers at the end of the season, and we officially got saddled with the Wild Card. Indeed, I’ve harped on this for years: it’s not enough just to get INTO the playoffs, you’ve got to get one of those top two seeds or you’re just deluding yourself.

As I wrote about yesterday, it’s very difficult to win on the road in the Divisional Round of the playoffs; the Seahawks are 0 for their last 8 in this situation. It’s not just a Seattle problem; in the previous 10 seasons (because I really didn’t want to go back further and work on this forever), only 10 teams who played on Wild Card weekend advanced beyond the Divisional Round. And, of those 10, only 4 were actual Wild Card teams who had to go on the road for the duration of the playoffs. The last time an actual Wild Card team advanced to its respective conference championship game was – oddly enough – the 49ers from 2013, when we beat them with The Tip. Not for nothing, but the last time a Wild Card team won it all was Green Bay back in the 2010 season (as a 6-seed, no less).

So, in the last 40 Divisional Round games, 4 teams went on the road in the Wild Card round, won, and then went on the road again and won the very next week. How can you not love those odds?!

Part of me tried to talk myself into believing this week, simply for the fact that we haven’t seen the Packers yet this year (or, more importantly, they haven’t seen us). We last played them on a Thursday Night game in 2018, when they sucked and eventually fired their head coach. I never totally understood that team; sure their defense was so-so, but that’s always been their weakness. But, the fact that their offense struggled so much – with Aaron Rodgers at the helm – really spoke volumes towards why they needed to make a change. Anyway, I tend to like our chances more when a team hasn’t had to face us in the regular season. I don’t have a ton of evidence to back this up, but here are four recent examples to try to bolster my flawed theory:

  • 2018 – Beat Dallas in the regular season; lost in the Wild Card round
  • 2016 – Beat Atlanta in the regular season; lost in the Divisional Round
  • 2015 – Lost to Carolina in the regular season & Divisional Round
  • 2010 – Beat Chicago in the regular season; lost in the Divisional Round

It’s more of a feeling or a generality than a hard and true fact, but it just seems like most teams – when they get a crack at taking on a good team a second (or, if you’re in the same division, third) time, it’s not like it was before. I don’t know if that Eagles game last week would’ve ended remarkably different had Wentz not gone out, but it’s not difficult to fathom the Seahawks ultimately losing (surely Wentz would’ve been better in the red zone in the fourth quarter than McCown, you have to give me that).

***

Anyway, let’s get back to this week’s opponent. This year, the Packers have been much more balanced. I don’t know if I ever feel great about playing Green Bay; with Rodgers, you know they always have a chance, regardless of the talent level around him (this HAS to be what opposing fan bases think about the Seahawks and Russell Wilson). I especially don’t feel great about playing Green Bay when they’ve got a quality running game and a better-than-you-think defense. In the NFL, you’re never without flaws, but this is a Packers team that lacks a real GLARING weakness.

On the flipside, you could also argue that the Packers also aren’t particularly elite at any one aspect either. Honestly, for how balanced they’ve been on offense, I would’ve expected them to be running up the score on some of these crappy teams they’ve played. Instead, they’ve done just enough, and sometimes have played down to the level of their competition (sound familiar?).

Their two real embarrassing losses both came on the road, at the Chargers and 49ers. The loss in L.A. feels wrong in retrospect; I don’t really have a great reason for that happening (other than me believing they’d cover the spread, since I’m apparently the world’s worst football gambler).

They’re actually kind of middle-of-the-road in a lot of key areas. They’re not especially dominant at getting sacks or preventing sacks. That having been said, I don’t figure we’ll be able to get Rodgers on his ass all that much in this one, and with our O-Line as banged up as it is, I fully expect Russell Wilson to be running for his life like last week. They’re also weirdly not great at converting third downs, which I wouldn’t have expected. My hunch is that maybe they went overly conservative in the regular season, with their easy schedule and whatnot. If you’re almost always in it and/or leading, you don’t need to take as many chances on converting third downs.

The keys, as usual, will be those third downs, as well as turnovers and big plays. I wouldn’t expect too many interceptions in this one, as both quarterbacks have had fantastic seasons not giving the ball away; but you just can’t predict fumbles (when they’re going to happen, or whether or not you’re going to lose out on them). Bad fumble luck will make an already-difficult situation pretty much impossible.

I never know what to expect from this Seahawks defense when it comes to giving up big plays. It seems like we can’t help but give up a few – especially between the 20’s – but obviously the emergence of Quandre Diggs has helped curtail that a little. The thing about not playing Green Bay earlier this season kind of gets thrown out the window when you consider how many times Aaron Rodgers has gone up against our defense in the Pete Carroll era; they’re practically a divisional opponent and one of our biggest rivals at this point!

I feel like our biggest liability in this one will be third downs. Rodgers is more than happy to dink and dunk it around our linebackers, picking up good chunks of yardage. This is, of course, a byproduct of our lack of pass rush, which I think will return with a vengeance this week after a season-high 7 sacks last week in Philly (this point is nailed home by the fact that the Packers’ O-Line is fully healthy for the first time in a while). Rodgers knows how to beat this team at this point; there’s nothing we can throw at him that will be a surprise.

***

Offensively, for the Seahawks, if we’re able to move the ball, we should be in it at least. Thankfully, the Packers don’t figure to be nearly as talented at stopping the run as the Eagles. We should get a good, honest look at what the Seahawks have in Homer and Lynch; are they okay? Or are we fucked because one is a Day Three Rookie and the other is over the hill?

Containing Green Bay’s pressure will be important, as they have a couple of outside linebackers with 13.5 and 12 sacks respectively (Za’Darius & Preston Smith). The only real interior threat looks to be nose tackle Kenny Clark, who returned to practice this week after battling an injury. Of all the quality defenders they have, the thought of Clark clogging up the middle probably scares me the most. If we’ve got two maniacs coming from the edges, I want to be able to take comfort in Russell Wilson maybe escaping through the middle. It sounds like with Clark, that window just closed.

The games where we struggle the most are when opposing defenses are able to overly-pressure Russell Wilson with a 4 or 5-man front. Granted, he sees a lot of pressure on a regular basis, but when we look REALLY bad on offense – the recent Cardinals & Rams games come immediately to mind – there’s usually at least one man wreaking total havoc on our protection on an every-down basis. The key will be – if we’re unable to keep a clean pocket – allowing Wilson outlets to escape, scramble around, and either get yards with his legs or throw on the run for gains down field. Even though Cox last week was one of those Aaron Donald-type monsters, Wilson was still able to get around him and keep the chains moving. It’s those games where the pocket gets quickly squeezed, where Wilson does his thing where he dances around, ducks down, and meekly succumbs to the chaos around him, that this offense truly suffers. If the Packers are in his face all day, this will be a hard game to watch.

As long as our targets stay healthy, I don’t think passing will be too much of a chore. The Packers are better at pass defense than rush defense, but that’s never really been an issue for us so long as Wilson can avoid sacks. I don’t know if we can count on a repeat performance out of D.K. Metcalf, but I also wouldn’t expect him to revert back to his dropping and fumbling tendencies either. If anything, I would expect a concerted effort by Green Bay’s defense to put their best cornerback on him, thereby hopefully freeing up Lockett to do damage down field. We’re fucked if they’re able to totally lock down Metcalf with one-on-ones, while they double-team Lockett on the other side. At that point, it’ll be asking a lot to generate explosives and keep the chains moving on a consistent basis.

***

Defensively for the Seahawks, we HAVE to stay healthy to stay in it. The drop-off from our studs – Diggs, Wagner (especially with Kendricks on IR) and Clowney – would be too much to overcome against this offense. Also, Davante Adams is a beast, and if he’s going up against Tre Flowers all day, I’d expect a lot of flags on our dude. I also heard Adams has been making some hay in the slot, which is scary. There’s been talk about Shaquill Griffin following him around the field. I don’t normally like taking our guys out of their comfort zones, but in this case it might be warranted, especially if the Packers get off to a hot start.

And, since I don’t expect a whole lot out of our pass rush, we’ve got to figure out a way to keep Aaron Jones from taking over. He’s a great running back who had been criminally underused in Green Bay until this season, and his emergence has really paid dividends for this offense as a whole. They may not blow teams out like they used to, but with a Top 5 QB like Rodgers, and a Top 5 or Top 10 running back like Jones, that’s the type of combo all teams dream of.

***

My ultimate prediction in this one consists of the Packers not really punting a whole lot (if at all), scoring more touchdowns than field goals, and generally making life miserable for the Seahawks to keep it close. I would anticipate being down by double-digits in the first half, scrambling like crazy to close the gap in the second half, but ultimately falling well short, probably by two scores. Green Bay -4 honestly feels like the easiest money of the weekend (I like the Chiefs over the Texans a little more, but 9.5 points are a lot to cover for any team).

I just can’t help but envision the Seahawks dropping like flies. I see guys leaving with concussions, ankle strains, you name it. And, lacking the depth to pick up the slack, on top of being on the road, in Lambeau, and all the rest, I think it’ll just be too much.

While I think GB -4 is a mortal lock, I could also easily see us up late, needing to prevent the Packers from scoring on a last-second field goal or something. Anything and everything is on the table; there are countless ways for the Seahawks to blow it, leaving us all – on Monday morning – bemoaning the fact that once again we let a viable opportunity slip through our fingers.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: even if we won in the Wild Card round (which we did), we were never making it to the NFC Championship Game. It’s too hard, too much of the deck is stacked against us, and as I’ve said countless times, the Seahawks just aren’t good enough. If you took an honest assessment of this team, you’d agree that on eye test alone (if nothing else), these Seahawks aren’t championship-calibre. I’ve come to terms with that since I saw we were destined to play in the Wild Card round. Soon enough, everyone else will come to terms with it too.

Battening Down The Hatches For The Seahawks This Weekend

Last week, my gut prevailed over my brain for once, as I thought the Seahawks might prevail over the Rams, but didn’t really have a good reason why (as opposed to the litany of reasons for why the Seahawks might lose). This week, that same gut reaction came to me: don’t be at all surprised if the Seahawks lose to the Browns this week.

I’ll come into this with the usual spiel: I believe the Seahawks SHOULD win this one. Of course, I said the same thing before the Saints game, and look at what happened.

Then, you come back to tell me that the Saints are actually a good football team, whereas the Browns are trash. I can’t argue with that. Not even a little bit. The 49ers made them look like a college team. The Browns handled a bad Jets team, and got one over on division rival Baltimore (who itself might not be as good as they looked earlier this season); they also got smashed by Tennessee and the Rams. The offense is a mess, the O-Line stinks, and Baker Mayfield is running for his life (and not handling it very well).

Suffice it to say, I don’t have a GREAT argument here, other than I’ve watched a lot of Seahawks football in my life, and I know when I’m being suckered.

The Seahawks have had 10 days off; the Browns just played on Monday Night and had to fly all the way back from San Francisco. The Seahawks have the best player in the game in Russell Wilson; the Browns have nothing but hype. The line originally had the Browns favored by a few points, but that’s swung completely in Seattle’s direction. The Browns are reeling – and are probably being led by a head coach who isn’t too terribly long for his job – while the Seahawks are soaring, with visions of divisional championships dancing in their heads.

Look, it’s the perfect storm, is what I’m getting at. Yeah, the Seahawks have had a few extra days off, and they’ve certainly been spending those days reading all the press written about them. Meanwhile, the Browns are backed into a corner, desperate to claw their way back into the thick of things in the AFC. They just need an impressive win over an impressive opponent to get this monkey off of their backs.

Also, given how Seattle looks, I foresee a lot of matchup problems. First and foremost, what are we going to do with Myles Garrett? He quietly has 7 sacks on the season, but he might be the most impressive defensive end in the league today; he’s certainly on par with the kind of trouble Aaron Donald poses. The over/under is 2.5 sacks for Garrett in this one, and I’m betting on the over. I think he’ll make Ifedi look like Ifedi usually looks (terrible), and I also think he can make Duane Brown look his age (34 years, oof). I think this pass rush in general is going to completely annihilate us from the moment we step out onto that field and put us into a huge hole.

Now, you can run on the Browns, but if we have the kind of trouble blocking Garrett like I’m betting on, then holding penalties and false starts are sure to be sprinkled in liberally. Being behind the sticks constantly is going to take us out of the run game and force us into a lot of 2nd & Longs and 3rd & Longs. That, unfortunately, puts us right where the Browns want us. The Browns are in the Top 10 in sacks, as well as the Top 10 in fewest passing yards allowed per game. Now, maybe that’s a product of them constantly being down in ballgames, and other teams rushing accordingly. But, they’re also getting healthy in their secondary for the first time in a while, which further fuels my Debbie Downer fire.

Safe Prediction Alert: I think Russell Wilson throws at least one pick in this game.

On the flipside, with the way the Seahawks’ defense has played this year, I think the Browns will be able to move the ball at will. Nick Chubb is one of the best running backs in football. Odell Beckham Jr. is as unstoppable as it gets. Jarvis Landry is a target machine. I predict all three of these guys will have huge numbers. Pencil in 100 yards and a TD for ODB, 120 yards and a TD for Chubb, and maybe another 90 yards and a TD for Landry. Our only hope is to get to the quarterback, but the book is out on us: get rid of the ball quickly and enjoy the spoils of the Seahawks missing a billion tackles.

Also, I’m further calling it right now: we’re in the midst of Bobby Wagner’s long decline into mediocrity. I think last year was his peak, I think he’s lost about half a step, and I think it’s only downhill from here. Gone are the days where he can will this defense to respectability on his own. He needs help. And I don’t think the Seahawks have the horses to pull this wagon.

The smart money’s on the Seahawks this weekend, but I’m not a smart man. This one’s going to look like all the other stupid Seahawks losses. With the score somewhere in the realm of 29-21.

The Seahawks Can Certainly Beat The Rams

Of course, just because they can doesn’t mean they will.

I have an inkling that things are going to go Seattle’s way in this one, and I base that on absolutely nothing. Since my gut is usually wrong about 8/10 times, my official prediction is that the Rams prevail. But, these are SLIGHTLY different teams than a year ago.

You remember last year, right? It was Week 5 in fact, just like this season! We were hosting the Rams – this time on a Sunday afternoon – and were 2-2, just coming off of a victory down in Arizona. Déjà vu all over again, right? Well, sort of. Now we’re 3-1, a little bit older, and a little bit wiser.

Last year, I don’t know if there was a non-homer on the planet who believed the Seahawks legitimately had a chance against the Rams. They were THE RAMS! They were undefeated, they’d unlocked something in their offense no one had ever seen before, and surely they’d steamroll the Seahawks!

Then, we did something crazy. We hung around and hung around, kept scoring right along with the Rams, and even had a brief 7-point lead heading into the fourth quarter. A couple of punts in the final frame on our end – and a couple scores on their end – left us with one final opportunity. The Rams had the ball, 4th & 1 at their own 42 yard line, and we just couldn’t get the stop we needed.

The Seahawks did everything they could do this past offseason in response to this game exclusively. We’re a better team than we were a year ago, even though the results on the field don’t really tell that story. The run defense is improved, which is huge. We’re getting moderately better play out of our secondary. Beyond that, the tape is out on the Rams. They haven’t been figured out entirely, but teams are slowing them down some. We know what it takes to beat this team, we just need to go out and execute.

On the offensive side of the ball, Russell Wilson is playing better than he has in his life. We’re starting to figure out how to get our running game where we want it, but I would argue we’re actually better in balancing out the offense to where it needs to be. In 2018, the Seahawks were just a LITTLE too run-heavy after those first couple weeks; I believe we’ve done a better job as a team to incorporate more passing early in games, without entirely losing our identity.

I LIKE that we like to run the ball a lot. I like to zig when other teams zag. Most teams are adept at playing in nickel defense, which means if we go heavy more often than not, other teams are forced to go with their less-effective base unit, or else risk the consequences of Chris Carson busting it down their throats. Then, when we go 3-wides and force teams to go nickel, we can still run it out of these formations for considerable gains.

The Rams’ defense looks beatable. They were gashed awfully hard by the Bucs last week, and maybe that’s because they were looking ahead. I can’t really say. All I know is that this team isn’t the same one it was last year, and that bodes well for a Seahawks victory.

This one will boil down to getting pressure on the quarterback. The Rams punted one time in Seattle last year, and that was the first drive of the game. Jared Goff has proven he’s not the same guy when he’s being pressured (just as he’s shown he’s not the same guy on the road as at home). The Seahawks have shown to not really be too interested in selling out to blitz the quarterback, so that’s going to necessitate a consistent push from our front fours and occasional front fives. If the Seahawks can do what they did to Kyler Murray last week, I think we’ll be just fine (particularly because Goff isn’t anywhere near the runner that Murray is). With how the Rams’ offensive line has played so far this year, I think this is more than do-able.

We finally have a primetime game to look forward to, so I expect the fans to be in a lather. We’re 3-1 and effectively playing for the division lead at this point (no one believes the 49ers are for real), so if I don’t see Rams players putting their hands over their ear holes, then the Seattle fans have truly gone soft and jaded. There is no bigger game than this one tonight, so we better BRING IT!

The biggest concern, again, is pressure on the quarterback, specifically what the Rams are able to do to our O-Line year-in and year-out. Aaron Donald’s winter home is right in Russell Wilson’s face; he’s got a lovely fireplace, a nice den with all his volumes of literature, and even a butler’s quarters where Justin Britt is on-call at all hours of the night to make him a motherfuckin’ sandwich whenever he wants one. Points are still going to be needed to beat the Rams; we’re not going to beat them in a grudgematch. So, keeping Wilson upright and providing running lanes to Carson will be of utmost importance.

If the Seahawks win, it’ll be in a squeaker. Something along the lines of 27-24 (my gut). If the Seahawks lose, probably the same deal, but my hunch is we’d lose somewhere in the 36-33 range (my head). Our defense hasn’t really been tested by an elite offense yet, which isn’t ideal. We’ve sort of held up, but there have also been some considerable lapses in tackling, in coverage, in pass rush, and even in run defense. If anyone is capable of taking advantage of our weaknesses, it’s the Rams. They’ve got the coaching staff, they’ve got the talent, and they’ve got the play-calling to make it happen. Fortunately, it’s a short week, so hopefully that disadvantage will prevent them from finding ALL of our weaknesses.

I’ll say this, I’d expect the Rams to be in no less than 3-wides for 95+% of the game. The Seahawks have shown a desire to stay in base defense, to keep Mychal Kendricks on the field for as long as possible. Part of that is because he’s so good and so versatile (he can cover as well as he rushes the passer, which makes him lethal against most teams), but part of that is also due to the fact that the Seahawks are afraid of being in Nickel too much. We don’t have Justin Coleman anymore, and his replacement is nowhere near his league. So, don’t be surprised if whichever linebacker is out in coverage gets beaten repeatedly by whoever’s in the slot (Woods or Kupp). Again, that points to the importance of getting pressure with just 4 or 5 guys; if Goff has all day to pick apart our defense, he will.

The 6th Most Important Seahawks Player After Russell Wilson: Jarran Reed

Here is the Home Page for this series of posts.

He’s our unquestioned best defensive tackle on the roster. He’s just realizing his potential as an all-purpose force in the middle, both stopping the run and rushing the passer. Indeed, he’s almost certainly the best interior pass rush threat we have on this team. He’s coming off of a 10.5-sack season. His name is Jarran Reed.

In his career to date, Reed has exceeded my expectations. Taken in the second round out of Alabama in 2016, I seem to remember him being touted as one of the (if not THE) best nose tackles in that draft. There were rumblings of potential to be mined in the realm of pass rush, but really if he’d just turned into a run-stuffer that we could plug into the middle of our line from Day 1, that was probably the extent of my expectations. Maybe he averages 1.0 sacks per year, but nothing crazy; he’s just there to take up blockers and create openings for our more athletic ends around him.

And, through his first two seasons, he more or less met expectations. He played in 15 games each year, generating 1.5 sacks apiece. I would argue that any lagging in our run defense was more due to the players around him not quite being as good as they’d been before he got here (and, of course, injuries eating into our depth).

Then, in 2018, Reed exploded with the aforementioned 10.5 sacks. Coming from a nose tackle, that’s something that’ll make you sit up and take notice! He played in all 16 games, and generated at least 0.5 sacks in 8 of them (he had 2 sacks each in 3 games).

You could argue that’s a little flukey, and I guess we’ll see. I understand the reasoning (and I certainly understand why people would have reservations about extending him now, when he’s at the height of his value): he wasn’t the same player he was his first two years in the league. So, who is the real Jarran Reed?

My fear is that Reed comes back with another 10+ sack season which will make him impossible to extend. At that point, we’ll only have the Franchise Tag to threaten him with, and as we saw from Frank Clark, that’s not the deterrent it once was. Players are smarter today (for the most part; I’ve got my eyes on you, Malik McDowell), they understand the risk in playing this game, and their windows being ridiculously short. As long as you don’t live your life in fear (and put money into a sweet insurance policy), playing up to and through the Tag can reap you insane financial rewards.

Of course, my fear is the same fear most bad GMs have. It’s why they throw tons of cash on middle-of-the-road players at the height of their value, chasing the dragon that can’t possibly be caught. 2018 might be the very best year of Reed’s career (like 2004 was for Adrian Beltre … right before the Mariners signed him to a huge contract and never saw him come close to approaching those offensive numbers ever again in Seattle). But, on the flipside, we all lauded the Seahawks’ front office for extending Tyler Lockett when they did. When he had more injury concerns at the time and never really played near the top of the market at his position. Who’s to say Reed couldn’t even IMPROVE on what he did in 2018? If he did, extending him now would be real next-level GM’ing.

I’m like most of you, I just want Reed to be around for the next few years under a reasonable contract. I’m not looking to low-ball him, but I also don’t really want the Seahawks to be suckers. If the team is willing to buy out the final year of his rookie deal, they should get somewhat of a discount. Also, if we do let him play out his contract, and let’s say there’s some regression that comes with it (I’m in the camp that doubts he’s a double-digit-per-year sack guy, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t valuable); even if he finishes 2019 with somewhere around 5-6 sacks, that’s still pretty good for an interior lineman (I mean, shit, we still talk about Clinton McDonald’s 5.5 sacks in 2013 like he was fucking Reggie White in his prime). And he’s ALWAYS going to have that 10.5-sack season to fall back on in negotiations (this time, with the entire league, barring a Franchise Tag). Some team, if it isn’t the Seahawks, will look at those 10.5 sacks and see the potential for a repeat.

Bottom line is he’ll get his money. The Franchise Tag value for a defensive tackle in 2019 is a little over $15 million. That’ll almost certainly go up in 2020, maybe the $16-17 million range. So, even if, as I said, he gets 5-6 sacks, he’s probably going to be worth Tagging, which means it’s only a matter of time before he’s getting a contract at or very close to the top of the market (obviously not Aaron Donald money, but in that next tier down). So, just get it done now. Because I ultimately don’t see the Seahawks being in a position to draft anyone who’s any better (and whoever that replacement might be figures to be considerably worse).

As for the 2019 season, Reed is obviously important for the pass rush factor. We have no idea where it’s going to be coming from, but of anyone currently on the roster, he’s the safest bet. We don’t know about the rookie from this year, or the rookies from last year, or the free agents we brought in; but we know what we’ve got in Reed. Probably. 5-6 sacks would be fine. 10 or more would be better. The better he does, the better this line will look, and the better this defense will perform as a whole. If he truly busts out as one of the best D-Tackles in the game, this team could be really special. If he regresses (as he probably will), then obviously there’s a trickle-down effect that hurts everyone else and the team as a whole.

A Special Seahawks Post About Guards

Earlier this morning, it was reported that the Seahawks are bringing in familiar name Mike Iupati on a 1-year deal. Terms are yet to be disclosed, but given his injury history of late …

  • 12 games in 2013
  • 15 games in 2014
  • 13 games in 2015
  • 15 games in 2016
  • 1 game in 2017
  • 10 games in 2018

… you’d think the guarantees are minimal and the incentives are extensive. Iupati – when he’s healthy – is a tremendous left guard in this league. He’s a 4-time Pro Bowler (from 2012-2015), he’s got experience playing under coach Mike Solari, and he’s EXACTLY what this team looks for in an offensive lineman. More run blocker than pass protector, but I would argue he’s probably better at both than J.R. Sweezy and he’s only 2 years older.

That’s what I like most about this. He’s better than Sweezy and he’s cheaper than Sweezy. The fact that they flip-flop teams (Sweezy to Arizona, Iupati from Arizona) is a nice little bonus. The Cardinals are run by morons, so doing the OPPOSITE of the Cardinals is always a good thing.

My concern after hearing about it was that the Seahawks would stop there. When Sweezy signed with another team, the thought was the Seahawks could still sign Fluker, but they’d likely go young with the other guard spot. Ethan Pocic has a high pedigree as an interior lineman, and while he’s looked like a bust in his first couple years, you never know when someone is going to put it all together. We thought Ifedi should be thrown off a bridge, and look at how much better he got in his third year! Jordan Simmons was obviously the more exciting name for Seahawks fans, as he played tremendously in his couple of starts last year. But, he too has been injury prone in his career dating back through college, so trusting him to be a 16-game starter in 2019 didn’t feel too realistic.

Iupati brings some insurance to this spot. I certainly won’t believe he’s a 16-game starter either, until I see it, but maybe Iupati AND Simmons combined could be that stopgap. Either way, it was looking like a good possibility that we’d still see plenty of Pocic … that is, until later this same morning when it was reported that the Seahawks brought back Fluker on a 2-year deal.

Now, don’t get me wrong, all three of these guys – Fluker, Iupati, and Simmons – have had their share of injuries, so avoiding Pocic is far from guaranteed. But, the DEPTH at this position is staggering!

Guards in the NFL get short shrift compared to tackles, and even centers. But, I would argue they’re pretty vital, especially in a division like the NFC West, which houses so many superstar defensive tackles. Russell Wilson has proven to be pretty elusive in his tenure thus far, but he doesn’t stand a chance when guys are allowed to run free up the middle. He at least stands a chance at avoiding a defensive end – particularly as most teams scheme the Seahawks to keeping him in the pocket, and not over-pursuing around the edge – but the shortest distance between two points is a straight line between wherever Aaron Donald lines up and wherever Russell Wilson lands on his ass. So, stocking this position group is of utmost importance! I’m happy that the Seahawks are taking this as seriously as they are.

With Fant in the fold as a third tackle, the Seahawks are as strong across the offensive line as they’ve ever been. I would argue the Seahawks are as good as any team in the league at this spot! Who would’ve thunk it even a year ago?