The Seahawks Held On To Beat The Cowboys In Preseason Game #2

I thought there were a good amount of positives to take away from this game, but I also find myself – the closer we get to the regular season – feeling less confident about how it’s all going to turn out in 2023.

As for the game itself, I was happy to see Geno Smith get some snaps. I thought he looked fine. I also thought there was some rust to be shaken off. I thought Drew Lock looked pretty impressive, though I was disappointed to see his outing cut short due to a hit at his knee. Luckily, it looks like he’ll be okay and able to play in the preseason finale. I was delighted to see our third stringer, Holton Ahlers get such an extended run! He’s got wheels, he had some decent touch on a few of the deeper passes (even if they weren’t completed), but he’s clearly a project and far and away the third best QB on the team. More than anything, I thought he belonged. He needs a lot of work, but I wouldn’t mind having him around in case the shit hits the fan at some point this season. He looked a lot better than the reports I was hearing, which mostly consisted of the Seahawks needing to refill that third QB spot at some point.

I was also happy to see Zach Charbonnet get some run. What I wasn’t happy with was the fact that he hardly played at all. I sort of get it, he was coming off of a minor injury and we want to make sure he’s fresh for the regular season. His roster spot isn’t in question whatsoever. But, he’s still a rookie! You’re telling me even rookies don’t need to play in the preseason?! I don’t know if I buy that. Not with all the limitations teams are under when it comes to contact in training camp and practices. We’re giving all these fringe running backs the lion’s share of the playing time, and I doubt very many of them will be here when the games actually matter.

On the flipside, I’m excited to see what’s shaping up in the wide receiver room. I don’t need Metcalf or Lockett to have ANY preseason snaps. I could also be done with Jaxon Smith-Njigba. We look to be VERY strong at this position. Jake Bobo was making plays, Tyjon Lindsey had a good game and looks super fast (both as a receiver, and especially as a returner), Cody Thompson had a big offensive play. John Hall and Dareke Young both had huge special teams contributions. This is going to be a tough one to nail down when we reduce rosters to 53 players; I expect a good number of these guys to make some noise on the practice squad.

On defense, I saw what you all saw: Boye Mafe and Tyreke Smith led the way with STRONG efforts. Tre Brown had a pick and looked like the higher-upside player over Mike Jackson. Jarran Reed, Derick Hall, and Myles Adams each had sacks. I think this whole side of the ball looks deeper than we expected, and I’m looking forward to what these guys bring to the table in September and beyond.

Now, for the bad things, I’m starting with the offensive line. Particularly, the rush offense. We are getting blown up off the ball on these run plays more often than not. Sure, there were a couple of runs that we broke for long gains, but for the most part, we were stifled. That’s two games in a row for the O-Line. Again, largely played by backups, but that brings me no comfort when it comes to the depth of this unit. We’re still relying largely on unproven guys, and we’re going to need this run game to perform at a high level if we want to – at the very least – replicate what we did last year on offense.

The other half of that coin is the rush defense. It’s not inspiring a ton of confidence. The numbers reflected a bit of improvement this week over last, but we still have no idea what it’s going to look like at full strength. And the tackling has looked pretty mediocre.

My dwindling regard for the Seahawks’ chances lies squarely on those lines. I’m more or less coming around on our pass rush being good enough, if not the elite, game-wrecking type of unit we had in 2012-2014. I still think the younger guys (Mafe, Hill, Smith) will have their growing pains, and get swallowed up for entire games. But, we should have enough with guys like Nwosu, Taylor, Reed, and Dre’Mont Jones to be fine.

But, what are we going to do against the likes of the 49ers? That’s the bottom line. I don’t see them taking a huge step back this year; they’re rock solid throughout their roster, and should get enough from the quarterback position to contend for the #1 seed in the conference. They’re not our only concern, when it comes to facing punishing defensive lines, and elite rushing attacks. We still see Aaron Donald twice a year. The Giants, Bengals, Ravens, Cowboys, Eagles, and Steelers all have varying degrees of tough D-Lines. And the way things are going, I don’t even need to bother listing the teams who might run it down our throats, because just show a picture of the entire schedule!

Going game-by-game before the season has even started always looks more dismal than it actually ends up being. My feel, heading into the final preseason game, is that the Seahawks should beat the teams we’re supposed to beat. But, I don’t know if we have what it takes to defeat the cream of the crop. When you combine that with the annoying losses we’ll probably face against lesser opponents, and I think it’s a recipe for another 9-8 season. Which is fine; it’s all a process, and hopefully enough of the younger guys will prosper to the point where we’re in a position to take over the NFC in 2024. But, it’s hard to get it up for NEXT year when THIS year hasn’t even started yet.

I’ll also say this: it’s a stone cold bummer that so many of our rookies have been hurt. No Devon Witherspoon. Hardly any Charbonnet. No Cameron Young. Mike Morris missed this last game. Oluwatimi also missed this last game. And no Kenny McIntosh to be seen. The first two guys will probably be okay, but can you even think about starting Witherspoon the first week of the season if he hasn’t done anything? As for the rest of those guys, missing the preseason is a great way for them to be completely anonymous in the regular season. How many times do we see these rookies get hurt in Training Camp, only to go on and do nothing their entire first year? All the time. Every fucking time. It sets them back a whole year, then you’re left wondering in year two if they’ve got anything at all, or if we need to look to replace them in the subsequent draft.

The Seahawks Have A Linebacker Problem

Now, to be fair, the Seahawks probably have more than one problem. They probably have more than one problem on the defensive side of the ball. But, I’m beginning to wonder if their biggest problem isn’t the interior of the defensive line – or even the D-Line as a whole – but the linebacking corps.

You always have to qualify these things nowadays, between interior and outside linebackers. Pass rushers and pass defenders. Sam and Will and Mike. Fuck those guys. Anyway, I’m saying across the board, it’s not looking great.

Starting with the outside, the Seahawks have Uchenna Nwosu and … we’ll see. There’s been a number of years now where we’ve looked to fill this position in the draft, with middling-at-best results. Alton Robinson is a name we’ve become familiar with, since he was taken in the fifth round in 2020. Well, he was cut early on in camp. Darrell Taylor – taken in that same draft, in the second round – figures to be the one playing opposite Nwosu, but he might just be a pass rush specialist, and not necessarily an every-down guy (due to his inability to set an edge and stop the run).

Then, last year, we took Boye Mafe (2nd) and Tyreke Smith (5th) in the hopes of growing into that spot. For good measure, before we signed Nwosu to a big money extension, we drafted Derick Hall in the 2nd round this year. Effectively, we’ve got five guys for two spots, or rather, we’ve got four guys for one spot (since Nwosu figures to have his locked down). Taylor’s only effective in obvious passing situations, Smith spent most of last year injured, Mafe was a so-so presence in limited duty, and Hall is a rookie. Yeesh.

That brings us to the inside linebacker spots. Bobby Wagner came back. Jordyn Brooks is coming off of a massive knee injury and will need some extended time recovering. BBK made a triumphant return to the Seahawks following his own injury, but he’s always been a Special Teamer at best. We took a flyer on Devin Bush, but who knows what he’s got left in the tank; his longterm health is iffy at best, especially considering we’re only on his fifth year and he already needs regular veteran rest days. Nick Bellore is everything you would ever expect of a fullback-turned-linebacker (he’s a Special Teams ace, and nothing more). And that leaves backup Jon Rhattigan, who is this generation’s Isaiah Kacyvenski.

Best case scenario: Bobby Wagner gives you what he gave the Rams last year, and Jordyn Brooks makes a full recovery to play alongside. My expectations are that Brooks never fully recovers, that he eventually gets back on the field, but isn’t nearly the player he was before, and often finds himself with new and old maladies preventing him from really making an impact. In other words, I don’t expect Brooks to be his old self until the 2024 season, if he’s ever his old self again.

As for Bobby, I have no reason to think he won’t be as good as he was last year, but he was also playing behind Aaron Donald for a good chunk of those games; we don’t have that kind of talent here. I think the lack of a superior D-Line, along with a suspect scheme, and a second year defensive coordinator calling plays, might render Wagner’s impact lesser than we want. He could also have lost another step in the last year. The cliff comes for every NFL player, and no one really sees it coming until they’ve already fallen over it. He’s one massive injury away from his career ending. If it happens early enough in the season, that’s going to mean instant death for this defense’s ability to keep us in games.

I’m not going into this year counting on Bush at all. I think whatever positive impact he gives us is gravy, but I also think those moments will be few and far between.

The more we see of Rhattigan, the worse all of our experiences will be in watching this team.

There’s a wildcard in all of this, and his name is Jamal Adams. I know, I know, “but he’s a safety.” The more I hear talk about this team, if and when he returns from injury, he figures to play more of a linebacker role than a deep safety role. We’re not going to count on him in deep pass coverage (where he’s not as effective); instead, we’re going to keep him close to the line of scrimmage, to help with run duties, to rush the passer, and to cover running backs and tight ends off the line. Honestly, I think this is a brilliant move. But, like Bush, I’m not going into this season expecting anything from Adams. If he makes it a full game, he’ll have already outperformed his 2022 season. Nevertheless, limiting his reps and utilizing him where he fits best is the only way to maximize/salvage what we’ve invested in Adams. Having a deep-enough secondary is the only way we can afford to do this. I hope it pays off; the Seahawks could use a win after so many L’s on this guy.

There’s a lot riding on this ragtag group of players. If the first preseason game was any indication of things to come … then we wouldn’t be talking about the preseason, because those games don’t mean shit!

What this team needs – if we want to be just a middle-of-the-road defense – is for one of Mafe, Hall, or Smith to be an effective early-down outside linebacker. Then, we put Taylor out there on passing downs, and we’re set. We need Wagner to be the glue guy to hold things together up front. We need Bush or Adams to make the occasional impact play. But, more than anything, we need guys to be assignment sound and just stop the fucking run! Let’s knock a yard per carry off of last year’s per-rush average! Can we do that one small thing?!

I’m not holding my breath. This defense has been swirling down the toilet bowl for almost a decade now. Why should 2023 be any different?

What If The Seahawks Draft Jalen Carter?

I don’t involve myself with a lot of mock drafts and whatnot. It’s fine if that’s your thing, but it’s just not my thing. I don’t like to devote a lot of brain power to what college players the Seahawks might bring in, because 99.99999% of them won’t actually ever be Seahawks and/or worth a damn (figure is approximate).

Even if we just limit discussion to who the Seahawks could take at #5, I don’t really have much to say. I want Will Anderson more than I want any other player in this draft. Either the Seahawks get him – because the top four picks were all quarterbacks, or otherwise someone went off-script – and I’ll be elated, or we won’t, and I’ll be disappointed. But, I won’t be shocked if he goes to another team before we pick.

I will be shocked if he goes to another team before we pick … because we traded down, but I’ll also be irate and looking for the nearest oven to stick my head in. But, that’s neither here nor there.

I don’t think we’ll take a quarterback, but if we did, it would probably be Anthony Richardson. I’d be fine with that. I’d be excited, because that means the Seahawks REALLY believe he’s the next great superstar, and because we have the coaches and players to put around him to really foster that kind of development. I would also be justifiably nervous, because quarterbacks are always a gamble, and one picked so high would be given every opportunity (for good or for ill) to become our next Franchise Quarterback. But, I’m not holding out much hope for that, and really think the chances are slim-to-none that he’s even available anyway.

The guy I think we’re going to get is Tyree Wilson. I think that’s because – again – Will Anderson is already off the board, and the Seahawks don’t believe in any of the remaining QBs. I’ll talk myself into Wilson, because he’s a high-level prospect with incredible upside, but ultimately it’ll be a disappointment, because part of me will be convinced we could’ve traded down a few spots and still gotten him, but also because he’ll be kind of a Bruce Irvin type. Someone who’s good, but not an elite, perennial All Pro you hope to get with the #5 pick. He’ll get you around 10 sacks on a good year, but otherwise isn’t someone opposing offenses really have to gameplan too much around. Someone between an Aaron Curry and a Bruce Irvin, I guess. Either a bust, or a fine athlete who needs other, better players around him to shine.

I also think we’re going to get Tyree Wilson because we’re going to pass on Jalen Carter.

This, in spite of the fact that most projections have Carter going to the Seahawks. That’s part of the reason I’m writing about him today. The other part is the fact that there’s so much to discuss around what’s going on with Carter.

He, obviously, was involved in that alleged street racing incident where the opposing vehicle crashed, killing a teammate and team associate. There was obviously the unfortunate timing of his arrest warrent coming down while the NFL Combine was happening. Of course, he didn’t really participate in the Combine – other than maybe some interviews – which is never a good sign. Then, he had his pro day, where he didn’t participate in everything, and couldn’t finish that which he tried to do (he was also something like 9 pounds heavier than he was at the Combine, speaking to his level of conditioning).

For some people, the legal issues are enough to write him off. For others, the final nail in the coffin was his being so out of shape at an all-important pre-draft event like his pro day (when, again, he refused to do anything athletic at the NFL Combine). Is he a suspension waiting to happen, for off-field shenanigans? Does he care about his body and being in shape? Does he care about the game of football and what it takes to be among the best in the world? And also, what does that say about his decision-making? Not just the road racing incident (which, come on, is more of a Boys Will Be Boys sort of thing; who hasn’t driven fast and raced around in their cars when they were younger?), but going against the wishes of his representatives who allegedly cautioned against him having his pro day so soon after all of those legal things came to light. He should’ve waited, until that was behind him, and he could devote his time full-boar to working out.

And then there’s the whispers. The rumors swirling around. He doesn’t practice hard; he only shows up for games. He takes plays off. For whatever reason, he was largely hidden from the media during his entire college tenure. And, of course, he played for a bigtime SEC program, and therefore is both mostly a finished product, and probably a beaten down one given the way they play and the number of games in which they participate (including playoffs and whatnot). He seems like just a guy who has gotten by on his natural ability his whole life, who has been Yes Manned to death and been handed everything he could’ve ever wanted thanks to those natural abilities, and once he gets to the NFL, he’s going to have a serious wake-up call. Everyone in the league has natural ability, but they also have the drive to want to be the best, and work at it day-in and day-out.

If Jalen Carter doesn’t have that drive, then he’s not just some so-so outside linebacker who might end up being a so-so pro; he could range from being that perennial All Pro DT, all the way down to a fucking disaster of a bust that sets your team back another five years (the way Malik McDowell did, only times a million because of where you selected Carter vs. McDowell being a second rounder).

All that being said, you have to consider it, because he does have that upside. What if the rumors are blown up out of proportion? What if those rumors only exist because NFL teams want him to fall in the draft? Or, what if this whole last half year has been a huge wake-up call for Carter? What if he’s more susceptible to coaching, and if he’s in the right system, with the right coaches and players around him, we’re able to unlock his fullest potential?

What if he’s the next Aaron Donald?

Aaron Donald had a great college career and everything, but he wasn’t yet AARON DONALD. He was the 13th overall pick. Defensive tackles don’t usually go in the top five unless they’re REALLY special. The fact that Jalen Carter was once considered to be the best and most elite defensive prospect in this draft is something you can’t ignore. Even with all these issues we’ve talked about ad nauseam, he’s still a consensus second or third defensive player off the board after those other two guys I referenced. What does that tell you about Jalen Carter, the football player? What does that tell you about the man after he puts on pads and you get him on the field with the clock running?

That tells me he’s a fucking monster. And, yeah, there’s a risk. There’s a risk with literally everyone. There’s injuries, there’s ineffectiveness, there’s being mishandled, there’s being in the wrong scheme, or with the wrong set of coaches, or just random bad luck and you fall off a fucking ATV without wearing a helmet.

You might tell me Tyree Wilson has untapped potential he was never going to realize in college. That he has a frame he can grow into, to be an elite player both inside and outside, both on the line and off the ball. But, the way I see it now, Jalen Carter has the highest upside in this draft. And if we can’t get Will Anderson, I would gladly take Carter, and just cross my fingers and hope for the best.

Nothing changes your defense like having a super-human at defensive tackle. Those guys wreck games all by themselves. Those guys have to be reckoned with by opposing offenses. Those guys open up things for everyone else, either next to him on the line, or behind him at linebacker and safety.

If you’re like me and you’re DESPERATE for the Seahawks to be elite on defense, I think the quickest way to that end is either Will Anderson or Jalen Carter, full stop. Anyone else – either in this draft, or in free agency – is going to be a colossal disappointment.

The Seahawks Signed Dre’Mont Jones & Jarran Reed

We have exciting news! I can’t remember the last time the Seahawks were involved with a major signing on the first day of free agency. Not for an outside player anyway. The Seahawks are an organization that likes to draft and develop, they’re an organization that likes to take care of their own guys. Other than that – and the occasional big splash trade – we usually buy low and test the waters on an older veteran, or a lesser name coming off his rookie contract.

It’s a smart way to do things, but it can also be infuriating. What happens to those teams who “win” free agency? They’re often coming from a real dark point; that’s why they have so much money to spend in the first place. And, you’re not getting the proper value out of guys on bigtime second or third contracts, compared to those on rookie deals especially, but also compared to past-their-prime veterans who might have a little something left in the tank. So, you don’t often see a lot of future success from those teams who “win” free agency. Once in a while, a team will get everything right, but that’s pretty rare. More often than not, if you’re not just as inept (remember that Philly “Dream Team” they compiled some years back), then you’re mortgaging the future like the Rams did. Which is great, they won a Super Bowl. But, now they’re set to be one of the worst teams in football, and that’s gotta be tough to swallow as a fan.

Conversely, as you can see, it’s not like the Seahawks’ way has paid dividends either. All too often, we’ve eschewed one impact signing in an attempt to scattershot a lot of minimum deals. Instead of signing one impact offensive linemen, we’d sign three mediocre duds. Instead of going for one impact pass rusher, we’d overpay defensive tackles (Poona, Mone) who can’t get to the quarterback, and then sign whoever else was left on the scrap heap (Quinton Jefferson, Al Woods).

Everyone likes to point to Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril as the last time the Seahawks got it right in free agency. That was EONS ago! The last outside free agent who actually made a positive impact was Uchenna Nwosu; before him, there was nobody.

Seemingly every year, we head into free agency with a decent amount of money to spend, and seemingly every year, we walk away shaking our heads at the moves the Seahawks have done.

Well, not this time! This time, we signed Dre’Mont Jones away from the Denver Broncos, for 3 years and $51 million. He gets a $20 million signing bonus, which puts his 2023 cap hit at around $10 million. Assuming he plays well, his 2024 cap hit is under $20 million. And if he’s a jackpot, we’ll probably extend him before 2025 comes into play.

6’3, 281 pound defensive tackle who has 22 sacks in his 4-year career, 18.5 over the last three seasons (no less than 5.5 per year). But, it’s obviously not just sacks that makes him one of the most sought-after defensive linemen in this free agency class. He can play all over the line, and he’s a menace against both the run and the pass. He’s basically everything we’ve been looking for since Clinton McDonald left, on the low end. On the high end, the sky’s the limit. I dunno, maybe Aaron Donald is the limit; he’s probably not Aaron Donald.

Nevertheless, he’s the best defensive tackle we’ve had in ages. Sam Adams maybe? Rocky Bernard? It goes back a ways. (I don’t count Michael Bennett here, though maybe I should; I always saw him as a defensive end who slid inside on passing downs to give us an extra outside rusher).

Not only is Dre’Mont one of the best and most impactful free agents, but he also fills a VERY huge need on this particular team. Shelby Harris and Quinton Jefferson were both released as cap casualties. Poona Ford is probably moving on (after not really fitting into the new 3-4 scheme), and Bryan Mone might be out with injury all year. So, as much as we all like Al Woods, there’s a lot of work left to do.

And just when I thought we might settle for some guy making the minimum, we bounced right back the next day and brought back Jarran Reed on a 2-year, $10.8 million deal. This isn’t just any old man off the streets. This is someone who has been remarkably healthy and available (other than a stint when he was suspended). He had a stretch with the Seahawks where there was real pass rush ability and potential (surpassing 10 sacks one year), but by and large he’ll give you a little bit of that, while also presenting a stout front in run defense.

What makes all of this truly thrilling is seeing what will come from the #5 overall pick. If Jalen Carter falls to us? And we get to play him, Reed, and Jones side by side by side? With Nwosu on one end and Darrell Taylor or Boye Mafe on the other? Or, we end up with Will Anderson as an end with those guys? We could really have something here!

I’m Sick & Tired Of The Seahawks Having A Mediocre Defensive Line

I never know what to make of seasons like this one. The Seahawks finished with 45 sacks in 2022, which puts them in the top quarter of the league. Indeed, we finished with one more sack than the San Francisco 49ers, who is the epitome of a defensive front seven that I desperately want for the Seahawks!

I don’t have the numbers in front of me, but this year had a very Feast Or Famine sort of feel to the Seahawks’ success on defense. It seems like we feasted on the dregs of society, but then we went totally in the tank in games we lost. Early on in the year, our failure was attributed to the scheme change, so we tweaked things where linemen could single-gap their opponents and be more aggressive in getting up field. That seemed to be the solution, until it wasn’t, and we once again couldn’t get to the quarterback.

As we all know, pass rush isn’t just Sacks. There’s a lot to it. When I look at the Seahawks, I don’t see a top quarter pass rush in the NFL, in spite of their sack totals. Not that sacks aren’t important, but you need to be generating consistent pressure on a regular basis if you want what the 49ers have.

And that comes down to talent. The fact of the matter is: the Seahawks haven’t had a difference-maker along the defensive line since Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril. Which gets back to my biggest pet peeve: always comparing the new guys we bring in to Bennett & Avril. But, that’s going to continue to happen, because we keep drafting guys in later rounds, expecting them to magically transform into Pro Bowlers.

It’s my greatest frustration as a Seahawks fan. After that perfect storm of amazing moves from 2010-2012, we were on top of the world. But, from 2015 onward, all we did was make the playoffs, lose in the playoffs, and draft in the mid-20’s. You know what you can’t find in the mid-20’s? Or, at least, you know what the Seahawks have NEVER been able to find in the mid-20’s? A difference-maker along the defensive line.

There’s L.J. Collier. There’s Lawrence Jackson back in the day. There’s Lamar King going back a little further. And then there’s all those guys we’ve taken in the 2nd-6th rounds, who’ve been kind of speedy and undersized, who we hoped would develop into edge rushers and/or strong-side linebackers. Boye Mafe and Tyreke Smith last year, Darrell Taylor and Alton Robinson in 2020, Rasheem Green and Jacob Martin in 2018. We keep waiting for these guys to really pop, but there’s no consistency from game-to-game.

Sure, Darrell Taylor improved from 6.5 sacks in 2021 to 9.5 sacks in 2022, but where was he for the entire first half of this year? Where’s that consistency? Every time we point to a modicum of success these guys have as a possible jumping-off point for greater success, they come back the next year and underwhelm our increased expectations.

I just want a fucking stud, man. I want a fucking animal on the defensive line that cannot be stopped. I want an Aaron Donald, I want a Myles Garrett, I want a fucking Bosa! I’m tired of trying to cutesy-poo scheme our way to an improved pass rush; I just want a game-wrecker back there, mucking things up and opening up opportunities for everyone else.

Football isn’t as fun to watch if your team sucks on defense. And the way to get good on defense is to bolster that defensive line with legitimate stars, not undersized prospects we hope might one day blossom into some damn thing. Not slow and plodding ‘tweeners who get eaten up by even subpar offensive linemen. But, you can’t get there without drafting in the top 3-5. You can’t get there when you’re overpaying at nonsense positions like off-ball linebackers and safeties.

That’s why I’m going to be harping on the need for the Seahawks to use this 5th overall pick on a defensive lineman. Don’t trade it! Don’t use it for any other fucking position. Lineman. Figure it out. And stop paying for all these damn safeties and linebackers, so the next time a Frank Clark type is ready to hit free agency, you can hang onto your own, rather than going dumpster diving for other team’s bullshit like Jadeveon Clowney and Sheldon Richardson.

The Seahawks Are Somehow Back In The Playoffs

As a Seahawks fan – but really, as a longtime, hardcore fan of most (if not all) Seattle sports – there are a few universal truths. The Mariners are always going to bring in a guy who looks like an amazing fit, only for him to immediately go in the tank (last year it was Jesse Winker, this year it figures to be A.J. Pollock; though never discount the surprise bust). Similarly, the Mariners are always going to give up on someone who goes somewhere else and plays amazing. The Sonics are always going to get screwed over by the NBA (who continually tantalizes us with promises of a new team, with zero follow through) until they’ve crushed the spirit of every last basketball fan in Seattle. The Husky football team is always going to have at least one enraging defeat to a mediocre-to-bad team that prevents them from ever making the playoffs. And for every Seattle-based team, it goes like this: if you need help from someone else to bolster the future of our franchise – whether it’s the near-future, in helping us win a division title in the final week of the season, or the more distant future by giving us an improved draft pick – bet against our interests, because that’s the result you’re going to get.

Now, you can read that and say, “But! But!” And yeah, duh, it’s not literally 100% of the time that these “universal truths” come to fruition, but more often than not. And when it’s not in our favor, BOY does it seem to hurt us bad.

Remember in 2008, when the Mariners were expected to compete for a playoff spot, only to lose over 100 games and be in direct competition for the top overall draft pick? Remember how we won a meaningless series against Oakland at the very end of the year to fall to the #2 spot (whereas the Washington Nationals did their fucking jobs and got to draft a great starting pitcher)? The Mariners got Dustin Ackley and it set us back considerably. Remember in 1992 when the Seahawks had maybe one of the worst offenses in NFL history and finished 2-14? We were in direct competition with the 2-14 Patriots for the top overall pick. Since we beat them, they had the tiebreaker and got to pick first (incidentally, they also had a chance to get a third win in the final week of the season, but lost to the Dolphins in overtime; what’s most galling is that the Pats had a 10-point halftime lead and a 7-point lead heading into the fourth quarter, to say nothing of being in field goal range just before regulation expired, before taking a brutal sack to get knocked back). The Patriots got to draft Drew Bledsoe; the Seahawks were saddled with Rick Mirer.

There are countless examples of the Seattle team getting fucked over at the very end by outside forces compelled to make us all feel bad. It’s the We Can’t Have Nice Things law of nature, and it’s a bitch.

Now, you might also say, “What about the Lions? They just did us a solid by defeating the Packers in Green Bay last night, sending us to the playoffs!”

But, DID they do us a solid? Do we have ANY business being in these playoffs? It took overtime and the total and complete depletion of the Los Angeles Rams by injury (including their three best players: Aaron Donald, Cooper Kupp, and Matthew Stafford, who also rank among the best players in the NFL at their positions) for the Seahawks just to finish 9-8 and in a position to need help last night.

Part of me will accept the answer that you shouldn’t get accustomed to losing. That it’s better to do sort of what the Seahawks did and hover around .500, than it is to be 3-14 and vie for the top overall draft pick. That means the players you have currently on your roster – and in our case, a lot of them are very young, with room to blossom and improve – are pretty good and gained valuable experience while getting better as the season progressed. But, at the same time, this Seahawks team isn’t good enough to win ONE playoff game, let alone enough to get us to Super Bowl. I would say it doesn’t matter who we play – we could go to any of the top four seeds and most definitely lose – but having to face the 49ers (who already DOMINATED us twice, and is probably the best team in the NFC) is just a blowout embarrassment waiting to happen.

You might say, “Well, it’s hard to beat a team three times in the same season. Plus, they’re down to their third quarterback, and if our defense can just keep things close, you never know.” Even if I give you that – and assume, for the sake of argument, that we find a way to prevail next week – you’re telling me then we have to go to Philly, and I’m telling you there is NO FUCKING CHANCE we win that game against a #1 seed that just had a bye week to get healthy. All that does is bump our draft pick to 25th (or even 26th, if the Bucs upset the Cowboys in the first round before succumbing to reality).

You know what I would’ve rather had? The 14th pick, which is what we would’ve gotten if we’d lost to the Rams on Sunday. Failing that, you know what I would’ve rather had? The 17th pick, which is what we would’ve gotten if the Packers defeated the Lions (everything else being the same). Now, as it stands? We have the 20th pick. If everything goes according to plan – we lose to the 49ers, the Bucs lose to the Cowboys – we get the 20th. What’s the one thing that could help us? The Bucs winning next Monday night and the Seahawks losing, which would bump us up one to 19th overall. Will that happen? Please see: the entire beginning to this blog post.

I would argue that just being 8-9 or 9-8 has achieved everything we wanted. It kept the team relevant to the very end, it showed us a lot of the young guys who figure to be stalwarts on this team for the foreseeable future, and it didn’t get anyone on the coaching staff fired, so we can have that continuity going into the 2023 season. We already HAD that, we didn’t need to add a meaningless playoff defeat into the mix! All that does is hurt our potential in next year’s draft.

And, if you think I’m being an overly-dramatic Negative Nelly, I want you to look at some of the OTHER ways the rest of the NFL could’ve helped us … with the Denver draft pick.

We have the 5th pick. If the Chargers had simply tried to beat Denver and succeeded, that would’ve improved to the 3rd pick. Or if the Colts and Cards had won ONCE in the last seven weeks, it would’ve been the 3rd pick. The Colts had the fucking Texans of all teams in week 18, and still managed to bungle it! And the Cardinals the week before blew it at the end against the lowly Falcons.

Then, there would’ve been the ultimate prize, if Denver had lost to the Chargers, and the Bears had won once in the last TEN weeks, that could’ve moved all the way to a 2nd overall pick.

So many fucking possibilities to get into the Top 3. Instead, we’re saddled with 5th. There were chances to get one of the two best defensive line prospects in this draft class. But, looking at it now, it’s going to require teams trading down:

  1. Chicago – probably keeping Justin Fields and taking the best defender available, unless they trade down
  2. Houston – quarterback most likely
  3. Arizona – committed to Kyler Murray for many years, GM situation in flux, probably not trading at all and taking best defender available
  4. Indianapolis – quarterback all but certainly
  5. Seattle – fucked

What’s worse is that if Chicago trades down, they probably don’t want to trade very far, so I’m guessing Indy will be a likely trade partner; that does not help us. We need someone like the Raiders (7th), Panthers (9th) or Titans (11th) to make a big move, since all three are probably in the market for a quarterback upgrade.

It sucks. What does 5 and 20 get us? One stud, hopefully, and maybe the best guard or center in the draft (assuming there’s one worth taking in the first round; quality centers can usually be had in rounds 2 or 3). Otherwise, at 20, you’re looking for a good quarterback who’s fallen (maybe packaging that with our high second rounder to move up into the teens).

I dunno, I guess that’s Future Me’s concern. For now, I have to try to talk myself into a scenario where the Seahawks aren’t blown out of the stadium on Saturday afternoon (always the anticipated Worst Wild Card Round Game). God help us if we find a way to win, and that 20th overall pick falls to where it normally is, in the mid-to-high 20’s. I may lose my God damn mind.

The Seahawks Signed Some More Guys & Lost Some More Guys

It’s time for my usual roundup of what the Seahawks did while I was in Reno. I’m still groggy as hell, but thankfully I was smart enough to take the day off of work. Anyway, I ran through a bunch of the minor comings and goings last week, so let’s get into the ones that happened while I was gone (I hope I don’t miss any).

Uchenna Nwosu: 2 years, $20 million

This might be the most important signing the Seahawks make this offseason. We’ll see. Pass rush is, was, and always will be the most pressing need for the Seahawks and it’s frankly ridiculous that we have to keep having this fucking conversation every God damn year because they haven’t figured their shit out after the heyday that was Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett. Every fucking guy we bring in is compared to those two guys, because we’ve been 100% inept at replacing them. It’s getting old!

Nwosu is young, but also raw and full of potential. Which means he hasn’t done much yet in his four season in the NFL (with the Chargers), but he could be a late bloomer who peaks in the right defense with the right group of guys around him. He’s more of an edge player – who might also play some strong-side linebacker – but in what’s looking more and more like a 3-4 defense we’re installing, I would expect him to be one of our primary pass rush specialists.

Benson Mayowa, Kerry Hyder, & Carlos Dunlap: Released

That’s made all the more clear by these three moves that happened pretty close to one another. I’m surprised, and also I’m not. Mayowa did next-to-nothing last year, but he’s also earning next-to-nothing, so it seemed like he’d be a good candidate for training camp competition. Ditto Hyder. But, maybe we’re just looking to get younger across the board. That would seem to jibe with Dunlap’s release. He was set to earn a chunk of change, but he also seemingly earned it by the way he finished his 2021 season. I think his first half production was too damning though, as he did absolutely nothing for us in the early going.

I’m good with these moves. I like to go with veterans at the defensive end spot, but you can only keep them around as long as they’re consistently producing. These guys seem to be pretty close to out of the league.

Austin Blythe: 1 year, $4 million

Looks like probably our new starting center. He played with the Chiefs last year, but prior to that was with the Rams, so he seems to know our system (with both our O.C. and O-Line coach hailing from their organization). I’m kinda ready to move on from Ethan Pocic, so this is fine. Plus, he has extensive experience practicing against Aaron Donald, so that’s gotta be a plus, right?

Quinton Jefferson: 2 years, $9.5 million

This isn’t super thrilling, but it’s a further indication that we’re moving to more of a 3-4 defense. You want three bigger interior linemen, with a couple of off-ball pass rushers on either end. And, among those bigger interior linemen, ideally one or two of them would be somewhat effective at getting to the quarterback. That’s Jefferson to a T. He’s ranged from 3.0-4.5 sacks per season the last four years. And he plays the run well. I’m fine with it. It’s not flashy, but with Al Woods, Poona Ford, and Bryan Mone, I think we’ve really got something interesting at this group.

Kyle Fuller: 1 year, TBD

I don’t see any contract info on him, but considering the Seahawks non-tendered him, that means it must be pretty damn cheap. This is filler for the center and guard spots, nothing more.

Rashaad Penny: 1 year, $5.75 million

In maybe the biggest news of the long weekend, the Seahawks opted to keep Penny on a prove-it deal. This is fantastic. In my opinion, he hasn’t earned a multi-year extension. Not with his injury history. Not based on a hot final 5-6 games.

It’s those games that make this so tantalizing, though. Without Wilson, with a new O-Line coach, with another offseason from our offensive coordinator to install his scheme, we could be looking at a monster at running back, for a bargain of a price. And, if he flames out or gets injured, then it didn’t set us back financially.

Gerald Everett: Signed With The Chargers

Finally, the Chargers picked up a pretty good tight end to throw into their very good offense. We’ve got Dissly, Fant, and Parkinson, so we didn’t need to sign Everett. Not at $6+ million per year. He was solid, but also suffered from drops and fumbles, and was also kind of a head case with stupid penalites. I don’t think I’m gonna miss him.

OMFG: The Seahawks Traded Russell Wilson To The Broncos

I did not expect to take a shower and return to dozens upon dozens of tweets talking about a Russell Wilson trade. If I’m being honest, I foolishly hoped the MLB had worked out an agreement on a new CBA. This is … decidedly different news.

Earlier today, it was reported Aaron Rodgers was set to sign a 4-year, $200 million deal to stay with the Packers. That immediately got the Seahawks beat writers discussing Wilson; would you pay him upwards of $50 million per year to stick around through his late 30’s?

I would not. Even though Rodgers has also been short on Super Bowl appearances, he’s largely carried that team in ways Wilson hasn’t. Rodgers has done more with worse Packers teams, is my ultimate point. He has multiple MVP awards for a reason. When the Seahawks have tried to model their offense around Wilson’s arm – to the detriment of the running game – he hasn’t been enough all by himself to get us over the hump. And, the way things were headed, it was never going to work long term. He was always going to butt up against the notion that he needs a strong running game and defense to take us back to the Super Bowl. Paying him $50 million a year or more wasn’t going to help us in any way, shape, or form. That’s just going to make it that much more difficult to fill out a proper roster.

Don’t give me this about the Rams and other teams kicking the can down the road. That’s easy to say when your highest paid players are the stars at the most important positions. It’s easy to look at the Rams as a model franchise who can pay the QB position a lot of money and still win it all, when they have Aaron Donald (the best football player alive, regardless of position), Jalen Ramsey (one of the top corners in the game, decidedly a premium position), and quality players all along the defensive line around those guys. The Seahawks are paying a middle linebacker and a safety who can’t cover anyone gobs of money that would be better spent along the DL and at CB.

It’s fair to question, at this point, whether or not we have the right front office in place – with Pete Carroll at the epicenter – to lead the next rebuild, or the search for our next franchise quarterback. Time will tell. But, running it back for the sake of running it back was never going to lead to a championship in 2022, or 2023 in all likelihood.

If we’re not going to win a Super Bowl in the next two years, then what are we clinging to Russell Wilson for?

  • The Broncos get: Russell Wilson & a 4th round pick
  • The Seahawks get: Drew Lock, Noah Fant, Shelby Harris, two 1st rounders, two 2nd rounders, and a 5th rounder

One of the first rounders is the 9th overall pick this year. We also get the Broncos’ original 2nd rounder this year, so that’s something.

It’s easy to look at the players and cringe. Fant is easily the best player the Seahawks are getting in return. He’s a value tight end this year, then would make nearly $7 million next year if we retain him (he’s also young and good enough to warrant an extension, if we’re so inclined, but I would imagine we’d wait until after this season to do so).

Harris is a defensive end who will be 31 this year; he’s just a guy. His season high in sacks is 6.0, which he’s done twice and appears to be his ceiling. The note that he’s a respected veteran holds no water with me. He’s making $7.5 million in base salary this year, and $8.5 million next year (his only guaranteed money is $5 million this year, so we could cut him prior to 2023 for no dead cap hit).

Everyone is going to point to Drew Lock and wail; I can’t blame you. He might be the worst starting quarterback in the league, and I don’t expect that to change anytime soon. He might even be too bad to be anyone’s backup; I can’t imagine Geno Smith being worse, for instance. I won’t sugarcoat how bad Lock is; I don’t expect his play to improve in Seattle. Even if we go HARD to becoming a run-first team, you still have to throw the ball around 50% of the time. He doesn’t have the accuracy or ability to do much of anything in the NFL.

It’s all about the draft picks. It’s also about finding a quarterback who will buy in. It’s about getting rid of an aging, short pocket passer who can’t hit the intermediate-middle route and whose legs’ best days are long behind him. I dread what Wilson will look like in five years.

The Seahawks aren’t the Rams; they’re like most other teams in the NFL. To succeed in this league at a high level, you need to build up your roster and hit on a rookie QB. Teams with good quarterbacks on rookie deals tend to be the best. This at least allows us the opportunity – with some high picks this year (three in the top 41 or so) – to start building up the roster. If we have a down season, then come back with more high picks next year, the rebuild might not take as long as expected.

You can sweat the Seahawks and their draft classes since 2012, but they sure as shit knew what they were doing those first three years, when they were picking relatively high. It’s hard picking in the mid-to-high 20’s. They were also rumored to be taking serious looks at Mahomes and Allen (even, I believe, showing up at their respective Pro Days) when Wilson was firmly entrenched as our franchise quarterback. I don’t know why you do that if you’re not at least sniffing around at a possible replacement. Plus, they obviously hit on Wilson in the third round, so it’s not like these guys have no clue.

As someone who was sick and tired of the Let Russ Cook argument – a failure in execution, 100% – I’m fine with seeing him go. This is the best time to get the most value out of him; we’ve seen him at his best. We had a tremendous decade-long run with him at the helm, including multiple divisional titles, two Super Bowl appearances, and one title. Maybe the Broncos squeeze some more elite passing years out of him, but I don’t know if he’ll win any more championships the rest of the way. And I think his final years in the league will rival some of the biggest drop-offs we’ve ever seen at the position. He finally got hurt in 2021 and had to miss games; you think that’s going to be the last serious injury he ever has? He’s getting older and slower, and he’s not Tom Brady.

It’s never ideal to trade a franchise quarterback in the hand. There’s a VERY good chance the Seahawks squander this deal, that the players we get in return do nothing, and we whiff on the draft picks. In which case, the coach and GM will be gone.

But, I don’t believe they were ever going to win it all again with Wilson either. Since it became clear Pete & John were going nowhere, this was the only way to shake things up and see if we could rejuvenate this franchise. It’s a long shot, but what else did we have to look forward to?

A 2022 season with Wilson might’ve seen the Seahawks reach the playoffs again, but we’re also in one of the most challenging divisions in the league, so a wild card spot was probably our ceiling. Followed by a loss in the first or second round of the playoffs.

Following that, we would’ve looked forward to yet another protracted and annoying battle in the media for Wilson’s next contract extension (if he was even remotely interested in sticking around, which I don’t believe he was). Either that, or another protracted and annoying media campaign where Wilson tries to force another trade anyway. Who wants to endure that?

I’ll take the clean break. I’ll take leaving on reasonably good terms. I’ll take the positive memories we have, over the sour ending we were likely to see.

Seahawks Death Week: What Would 2021 Have Looked Like If Russell Wilson Never Got Injured?

There’s an argument to be made that after finishing with a losing record for the first time in the Russell Wilson era, the Seahawks need to be blown up to some degree. I think that’s where we’re headed, and I think most people are in agreement that it should be where we’re headed. But, there’s a nagging thought that 2021 was just a fluke. Russell Wilson mangled the middle finger of his throwing hand, which took him out in the middle of one game, cost him all of three more, and arguably affected him quite seriously in his first three games back following surgery. What would this season have looked like if he’d never injured the finger in the first place?

Well, for starters, in this alternate universe, that would’ve meant the Seahawks had an offensive line that was worth a damn, and was capable of keeping Aaron Donald away from our star quarterback; so right there you can tell it’s a total fantasy. Also, we know that Wilson at full health – through the first four games of the season – led the Seahawks to a 2-2 record. In the Rams game, we had a 7-3 lead at halftime, but trailed 16-7 heading into the fourth quarter. In that fateful third quarter is when Wilson got injured, but up until that point, the offense had done next to nothing productive (really outside of one touchdown drive in the second quarter, aided by more than half the yards coming on a pass interference penalty). Given the way the game was going while Wilson was healthy, I’m going to go out on a limb and say the Seahawks would’ve lost to the Rams regardless, dropping our record to 2-3.

But, here’s where things get interesting: the Seahawks lost the next two games by three points each; one in Pittsburgh, in overtime, and the other at home against the Saints on Monday night. Both were exclusively Geno Smith games, where the defense managed to step up in a big way (especially against the Saints, holding them to only 13 points). Look, I’m just going to say it: Russell Wilson has to be worth more than three points per game over Geno Smith. I don’t care how ineffective the offense has looked at times (even when he’s been fully healthy). We’ll never know, of course, but I have to believe – given the way the defense stepped up starting with this stretch – that we would have won both of those games, while easily taking care of the Jags the following week (which we did anyway, with Geno, handily).

If you give the Seahawks three wins there, that improves our record to 5-3; not a bad way to head into the BYE week.

Then, we have the November swoon. In our reality, Russell Wilson returned for the Green Bay game, but the Seahawks ended up getting shut out. We also lost by 10 to the Cardinals (with Colt McCoy at the helm), and by two points to the Washington Football Team. This is where projecting hypotheticals gets tricky, because how do we quantify where to split up the blame? How much of the blame was on Wilson returning from injury too soon, and not being able to make all the throws he was supposed to make? There’s no question he was more off-target in those games than we’ve ever seen him before, and he’s since admitted that it was bothering him at times during this stretch. But, we also know that he’s Russell Wilson, and he plays the game in such a way as to try to take on more than he should. He holds out for the deep ball more than he should. He gets hit more than he should. If he just checked down and took what the defense gave him, he’d be a better quarterback.

It would be the peak of homerism to say the Seahawks would’ve been 3-0 with a fully healthy Wilson (all other things being the same), but it’s not unreasonable to believe we would’ve been 2-1. At the very least, I think we should’ve been 1-2. A 1-2 record makes us 6-5 after that stretch.

From there, things got back on track against the 49ers and Texans; hypothetically, that would’ve made us 8-5. Another loss to the Rams would’ve dropped us to 8-6, but that still would’ve had us squarely in the hunt heading into the Bears’ game. Conversely, in reality, we were 5-9 heading into the Bears game, and thoroughly knocked out of the playoff picture. You have to wonder if there was some semblance of a collective let-down heading into the Chicago game. I’ll always wonder if things might’ve been different if we had something to actually play for.

But, as mentioned before, this offense has largely been dysfunctional, with or without a healthy Wilson. So, let’s say that loss puts us at 8-7; the Lions victory still would’ve made us 9-7 heading into this past weekend. That would’ve had us squarely in the Wild Card picture over the 49ers (thanks to our season sweep over them), probably in the seventh seed.

And then, lo and behold, a victory over the 11-win Cards! That would’ve been our 10th win of the season – tied with the 49ers, who again, we beat both times we played them this year – putting us in the 6th seed of the playoffs, with a road game in Dallas next week.

Do we win that game in this scenario? Probably not. That Cowboys defense is pretty tremendous. But, I don’t think it’s insane to say that if Wilson had never injured his finger, and everything else had stayed the same, that we would’ve been a playoff team. It’s food for thought.

Obviously, there are countless other hypotheticals that could’ve come true; this is real Butterfly Effect territory we’re getting into. But, we’ve always said that the Seahawks would be screwed if Russell Wilson ever got injured and had to miss games. Well, he got injured, he missed games, and the Seahawks got screwed as a result.

This is what happens when you neglect the backup quarterback spot and give it to any old guy available.

The Rams To Cover Against The Seahawks Seems Like The Easiest Money I’ve Ever Seen

It sure does seem like the Seahawks have been screwed by the NFL postponing our game against the Rams in L.A. thanks to their rampant outbreak of COVID this past week. The extra two days have allowed the Rams to get back some of their best players – like Jalen Ramsey and Von Miller – while it’s led to the Seahawks losing guys like Tyler Lockett, D.J. Reed, and Bryan Mone (although, I get the argument that a couple of these positive tests came down on Sunday, in time to eliminate them from competition for that day; you wonder if there wouldn’t otherwise be some delayed reporting at play if the game indeed took place as originally scheduled).

Of course, the Rams always had Aaron Donald, Cooper Kupp, and Matthew Stafford available, so it’s probably fair to assume they would’ve roundly defeated the Seahawks anyway. What might’ve been a forfeit for L.A. is now looking like a certain victory, especially considering they have everything to play for (a win would put them in the driver’s seat for the division) while the Seahawks have next-to-nothing to play for.

It’s baffling, then, why the Rams are only favored by 7 points. This is as big of a no-brainer as I’ve ever seen; I would’ve figured the spread would be anywhere from 8-10 points considering the matchup, regardless of what’s been happening with the comings and goings of COVID-tested players the last few days.

Earlier this season, at home, in primetime (when we usually play our best), the Seahawks lost 26-17. Granted, that was the game where Russell Wilson mashed his finger; but that injury happened late enough for the game to already be decided (10 fourth quarter points led by Geno Smith against a prevent defense doesn’t – as Shania Twain once said – impress-ah me much).

Last year, the Seahawks famously went 1-2 against the Rams, losing on the road by a touchdown and at home in the playoffs by 10 points. In 2019, we lost in L.A. by a whopping 16 points. Putting up points has been exceedingly difficult against the Rams in recent seasons, particularly due to the fact that their defensive line owns property in our backfield. Every third down feels impossible, because one or more individuals are right on top of Russell Wilson within a second or two.

It doesn’t matter what year we’re talking about; this dates back for the entirety of the Russell Wilson era in Seattle. Now, focus in on 2021. These 5-8 Seahawks have been pretty atrocious, especially on offense. The O-Line has been a miserable failure, Russell Wilson has yet to adapt to the new scheme, and points have been VERY hard to come by. Who in their right mind would expect this Seahawks team to hang with a 9-4 Rams team playing for the division and a possible top seed in the NFC?

7 points feels like a gift. Even assuming some sort of back-door cover, the worst you should expect is a push. But, this feels like a game where the Rams will get a two-score lead early and coast to victory. I expect something in the 33-13 range, with a minimum of 4 sacks on Russell Wilson, and something like a 20% conversion rate on 3rd/4th downs. It’s required a hostile takeover to get back the Taylor Family Farm, but I’m willing to once again put it all on the line in this one. The Rams will have no trouble whatsoever dismantling the Seahawks later today. Get your bets in now; you can thank me later!

Cooper Kupp against a depleted secondary (missing both Reed and Jamal Adams), the Rams’ running game against our depleted defensive line (losing Mone in the interior is huge towards our ability to stop the run), and, of course, Aaron Donald & Co. will continue beating our asses like the red-headed step-children that we are.

When it’s all over, once and for all we can give up the dream on the 2021 season (if you haven’t already done so). Just in time to lose two of our next three games to close out the year in miserable fashion. Yay football.