My Favorite Seahawks Move So Far This Offseason

This blog post on Field Gulls popped up late last week at just around the same time I had a similar idea for my own blog. Of course, they posted first, so credit where it’s due for getting the job done ahead of me. But, that’s still not going to stop me from voicing my own take!

As I’ve talked about, it’s been a very Seahawky offseason so far. No real big outside free agent splash signings; we kept our own highest-priority free agent, we shuffled off some money in the form of overpaid cap casualties, and we brought in a bevy of bridge guys on short-term, inexpensive deals to fill out the roster around our core. So, when you look at that list of players on the Field Gulls link, it’s not going to knock you out.

On the whole, I would say I like what the Seahawks have done. I can’t say I’m totally in love with it, but then again, I don’t know what I can really expect. We were in pretty bad shape the last few years, both from a salary cap standpoint, as well as an underperforming veterans standpoint. It really says something when the Seahawks have exactly one player from their 2020 draft class on their roster, and that’s only because Darrell Taylor lost a year of eligibility due to coming into the league with an injury (at this point, based on what we’ve seen from him through three seasons, it would be a longshot to see him getting a proper second contract with the Seahawks).

My point is, it’s not like the Seahawks could afford to spend lavishly in free agency. And, with our stupid 9-8 record – and the fact that we traded away a second round pick for Leonard Williams last year (which was only necessary BECAUSE our salary cap situation was so shitty) – it’s not like we have a solid cache of draft picks to fall back on. So again, what did I really expect? We came into this offseason with one hand tied behind our back, we used what cap casualties we could to loosen that binding, but ultimately there’s only so much money to go around, and a lot of roster spots needed to field a team.

If I’m being honest, the Seahawks move that got me the most excited is the hiring of Mike Macdonald. My second-favorite move is hiring Ryan Grubb. My third-favorite is firing Clint Hurtt. But, that doesn’t seem to be in the spirit of the exercise.

My favorite player move, then, has to be Leonard Williams. Simply because he’s the best player we signed, period. He’s either the best or second-best player on our defense, and I’d put him probably in the top five most impactful players on the entire team. Dude is a stud, on a team that’s kind of in short supply of them.

But, I dunno, that signing doesn’t feel like it’s in the spirit of the exercise either. Just as similar favorites – cutting Jamal Adams, not overpaying for Bobby Wagner, and not REALLY overpaying for Damien Lewis – are also not in the spirit. In my mind, the question posed in the title of this post has to do with NEW players. What’s my favorite incoming Seahawks move?

If it feels like slim pickin’s, that’s because it is. Two incoming free agents on 2-year deals, everyone else is on a 1-year deal. The most money – SURPRISE – is going to a safety. I want to say Rayshawn Jenkins – or one of the two middle linebackers – is my favorite move, but to be honest, I don’t know those guys from Adam. I’m sure one or more of them will make a great impact, but right now, they’re all J.A.G.’s to me.

I can’t bring myself to put Sam Howell in this category, even though I like him. I do think he has potential. Sure, he’s most likely in the range of Drew Lock to Baker Mayfield, which isn’t tremendous. I mean, before last season’s resurgence with the Bucs, we were talking about Baker being an injury-prone bust for crying out loud! But, with the right development, and a little luck, maybe Howell turns into something more? Maybe he’s a Rich Gannon or a Jeff Garcia type. Someone who’s better than a Game Manager, but obviously well short of a Hall of Famer. Someone who – on the right team – can lead you to a Super Bowl, but is going to need a lot of help to push you over the edge.

My biggest beef with the Sam Howell deal is that we traded for him to be a backup. I mean, maybe that’s what he deserves to be, after leading the league in interceptions and sacks endured; it’s probably not the worst idea in the world to let him sit and learn a little more. But, if the whole point is to bring in a young player on a cap-friendly contract, you’re not exactly extracting any value from that deal by sitting him for one of the two remaining years before he’s a free agent. I think the odds are long that he comes in and blows everyone away in Training Camp. With a new team and a new offensive coordinator, he’s not going to overtake a dependable – if uninspiring – veteran in Geno Smith. The only way Howell plays extensively is if Geno REALLY shits the bed, or succumbs to injury, which, we’ll see.

So, if I’m being honest, I think my favorite move is bringing back George Fant!

The Seahawks clearly struggled last year on the O-Line. Abe Lucas apparently has a chronic knee issue that’s always going to limit him in one way or another (if it’s not practice reps, then it’ll be games played), and he’s coming off of some sort of clean-up procedure done this offseason. The hope was to get two more years of competent tackle play from Lucas and Charles Cross, but I don’t know if you can count on that. When you factor in needing to replace all three interior linemen spots, it’s pretty demoralizing knowing that one of your tackle spots is also unreliable.

I think we’re all of the mindset that the Seahawks are going to draft guard with their first pick (probably after they trade down a time or two). My guess is, we won’t stop at just one draft pick; there will be multiple interior linemen drafted. That’s a lot of youth up front – especially when you add last year’s picks of Anthony Bradford and Olu Oluwatimi – so it’s nice to have someone like George Fant on the roster. Someone who can capably slide into either tackle spot in a pinch, as well as someone who can mentor the younger players. Lord knows we’re not getting either quality from Stone Forsythe!

It’s not the sexiest move the Seahawks have ever made, but George Fant is 100% my favorite incoming player on this team.

But, taking the question a little more abstractly, I think my favorite “move” of all is the fact that the Seahawks are eating all of Jamal Adams’ dead money this year, and the fact that we seem to be cleaning house financially, so as to be in a position next year to really make some headway on this rebuild. It’s not a tank job; I’m sure we’re still well-positioned for another 9-8 season in 2024. But, there’s bound to be plenty of money for next year to go out and have some fun. Maybe we’ll get a party boat!

Frank Clark Returns As The Seahawks Take On The Browns

There’s no discounting the loss of Uchenna Nwosu for this Seahawks defense. He was unquestionably our best defensive player last year, he earned a relatively big-money contract extension this past offseason, and even though the numbers aren’t eye-popping this season, the eye-test and the ancillary numbers point to Nwosu being our best outside linebacker/pass rusher. While it’s wonderful that Boye Mafe has taken the next step to be a super-productive second banana, after the loss of Nwosu, the drop-off is pretty considerable.

You may be saying to me, “Don’t forget about Darrell Taylor!” But I think it’s clear at this point that he’s pretty one-dimensional. There are a lot of reasons why the Seahawks have so drastically improved in their run defense – Bobby Wagner, Jarran Reed, Dre’Mont Jones, Devon Witherspoon, no more Cody Barton – but I think a big key is the reduced role Taylor plays on rushing downs. He’s a solid-to-good pass rusher in obvious passing situations, but other than that, I don’t really trust him as an all-around outside linebacker. That doesn’t mean Taylor doesn’t have value, or isn’t important to this team’s success. But, I take a less-is-more approach with him.

And, as for Derick Hall, I think there’s a lot of promise there, but he reminds me a bit of Boye Mafe as a rookie last year. Maybe a bigger, beefier version, but someone who probably is a year or two away, if he’s going to hit at all.

Seahawks fans have been focused on the impending trade deadline on October 31st for good reason. While the defense has been extraordinary – especially compared to expectations – you can always use a little more. With the way we like to rotate guys in and out, you can never have enough weapons at your disposal. Then, when you factor in the inevitable injuries that will crop up – starting with Nwosu last week – it’s all the more imperative to keep reloading on that side of the ball, not just with bodies, but competent ones.

It’s funny that some people automatically dismissed the Frank Clark option. Maybe they had a good reason; I guess we’ll find out. His numbers with Kansas City for those four seasons certainly weren’t explosive. It’s hard to say he justified the contract he was given; when you sign someone to a deal worth over $20 million per season, you expect more than an ordinary defensive end. He averaged just under 6 sacks per (regular) season, though he added 10.5 sacks in 12 post-season games with the Chiefs. Certainly, whenever I watched the Chiefs (which, yeah, a lot of those games were probably in the playoffs), it seemed like they were getting their money’s worth. But, they clearly felt he was expendable when they cut him this past offseason.

And, also clearly, he didn’t mesh with what the Broncos were trying to do. He signed with them for 2023, at a little under $5.5 million, and got cut after playing in only 2 games. They even went so far as to make him a healthy scratch and put him on the trade block – in addition to reworking his deal to lower the cap hit – but found no takers. Then, he just sat there as a free agent for a couple/few weeks, until the Seahawks came calling.

Now, of course, there are a lot of caveats to all of this. For starters, the Chiefs are – as most teams – up against the salary cap. They have a lot of stars who they’re paying truckloads of money, and they just can’t afford to keep everyone. Maybe they felt he was slipping; maybe they would’ve welcomed him back at the veteran minimum. Clark chose to get what he could with the Broncos; that’s fine. Once the Chiefs gave a little cookie to Chris Jones after his holdout, I’m sure they’re even further pressed against the cap, making in-season moves quite difficult. That could explain why Clark didn’t go back to KC (or, again, maybe they think he’s cooked). But, I don’t know if I’m ready to write Clark off simply because the Broncos cut him. That team is in shambles for a second straight season; it sure looks like they’re getting ready to clean house this upcoming offseason. If they’re indeed looking to covertly tank, getting rid of Clark is an easy way to ensure you’re not getting unwanted production on that side of the ball. Or, you know, maybe that makes two teams who believe Clark isn’t the player he once was.

Then, there’s the obvious argument that Clark and Nwosu really don’t play the same position. Clark is 6’3, 272 pounds; Nwosu is 6’2, 251 pounds. Clark is much closer in body type to Mario Edwards than he is to Nwosu or Mafe. Not for nothing, Clark is much closer in age (30) to Edwards (29) than he is to Nwosu (26) or Mafe (24). I love Clark as an edge-setter and a run defender, I still like him as a pass rush threat, but I don’t know if I love the idea of Clark trying to defend a skill position player in space. Maybe that, ultimately, is the reason why a certain segment of the Seahawks-following public dismissed the notion of a Clark return.

But, he’s here now. And I think this could be a perfect fit. What I’m not necessarily buying is that he knows the system. He was last here in 2018; that was Norton’s first season as DC. Maybe defense is defense; maybe this whole 3-4/4-3 thing is muddier than I think it is. But, I wouldn’t say the defense is exactly the same.

What I will say is that as part of a rotation, this could be the marriage we need. Keep Clark in there for rushing downs, then slide Taylor in there for obvious passing downs. Make that a platoon of sorts. Mafe can take over for Nwosu’s percentage of snaps, and we can use Hall to spell him. Also, I love the idea of a front four consisting of Clark, Reed, Jones, and Mafe if we’re in a jam and need to create pressure with a 4-man front. Throw Taylor into that mix on a blitz? *Chef’s Kiss*.

I would say I’m a little more on the positive end of the spectrum on this move. Very low risk, we didn’t give up a draft pick to get him, he’s getting the veteran pro-rated minimum, he’s at least familiar with the coaching staff and the city. He’s still young enough to where – if he plays well – he can keep getting boatloads of money thrown his way. Quality defensive linemen who can rush the passer can play well into their 30’s, so it’s not like he’s a running back or a receiver or something. It’s a high value position, an area of need, and we have an immediate opening. The downside is: maybe he’s finished, he’s nothing more than a body, and he’ll be out of the league in a year or two. That’s what we have to find out. But, he’s not blocking anyone, he shouldn’t command an inordinate percentage of snaps (unless we have more injuries), and if it doesn’t work out, that’s fine, Nwosu will be back in 2024 anyway.

That brings us to the Cleveland Browns this Sunday. I found it extremely intriguing that Pete Carroll was already talking about him playing this weekend, even though he hadn’t shown up yet. That tells me Clark must be in pretty good shape. I can’t wait to watch this game and see what he has in the tank.

I also can’t wait to watch this game because we’re FINALLY bringing back the throwback jerseys! It’s so stupid that it’s taken this long to get here, but it’ll be so great to see them on the field again. Never has it felt more like me rooting for clothing than it will on Sunday.

This game also features the return of D.K. Metcalf, who had some interesting things to say at his weekly press conference (namely that he wasn’t allowed to talk about injuries). More and more, it’s looking like last week was a suspension, hidden behind the cloud of his nagging pain complaints. Regardless, we’ll need him; I just hope he’s got his head in the game, and this isn’t the beginning of an irreparable rift with the team.

I am NOT super confident about this one. The Browns’ defense is one of the true elites in the league this year. Considering we’re coming off back-to-back sub-par outings by our offense, the last thing I wanted to see is Myles Garrett making mincemeat of our O-Line. Injuries are still killing us up front – with Bradford looking to be out, possibly being replaced by Jason Peters, who is more of a tackle than a guard – and we’d be crazy if we don’t chip him with a tight end or a running back on every play.

Then, it came out that Kenneth Walker hasn’t practiced for the last two days. He took on the full load of running back production last weekend – with Charbonnet out – and it looks like he’s paying the price. Charbonnet is on track to return this week, but it might be in time to make his first NFL start. I’ve adjusted my fantasy team accordingly, to pick him up as a replacement, just in case.

On the flipside, Deshaun Watson is out this week. He tried to come back last week, was ineffective, and it was clear that he wasn’t ready. So, P.J. Walker gets the start in his place. The Browns are also banged up at running back, and aside from Amari Cooper (who looks diminished in his old age) and Njoku, I don’t know who their pass catchers are.

This game is just screaming Low Scoring Grudgematch. I think it’s going to be extremely close throughout, and if either team goes up by two scores in the second half, I think it’s over. I worry about the Seahawks here, because while I think this is a game we should win – even if it’s in an ugly fashion like last week’s 20-10 victory over the Cards – I could also see our offense completely bottoming out. If it’s 10-0 late in the third quarter, I don’t believe we have the horses to come back against that ferocious pass rush.

What sucks is that we’re two weeks away from a potential Get Right game for our offense. That means we have to figure out some way to put points on the board against elite defenses, because the Browns aren’t the first, and they won’t be the last.

I think this will be, like, a 16-12 Seahawks victory. Ugly as all get-out, but as long as we can hold the Browns to field goals, we should be in good shape.

The Seahawks Blew It In Cincinnati

I was right: the Bengals beat the Seahawks. But, they didn’t quite do it as I expected.

As I noted on Friday, I was at the Taylor Swift movie experience – surprisingly, they did NOT cut away occasionally to Travis Kelce cheering along in the luxury suites – so I didn’t get to see this game. As such, this will be a post with more questions than answers. I’ll tell you this much, I didn’t project this as a 17-13 slugfest.

I have two main takeaways coming out of this game. First and foremost – the reason why we lost this one – has to lay at the feet of the offense. Geno Smith had one truly atrocious pick, and another where D.K. apparently gave up on the route. The team as a whole was only 5/12 on third down, and critically 0 for 2 on fourth down (both near the goalline in the fourth quarter, where we had a chance to take the lead or even win the game). Penalties were costly in setting us behind the sticks. And the Bengals were able to pressure us more than we’ve been pressured all season.

I’d love to know what the gameplan was coming into this game. We got Charles Cross back from his injury, but were still saddled with Jake Curhan at right tackle (with some interior shuffling, moving Haynes to left guard, and starting Bradford at right). Did we leave them on more islands than we had the previous few games, opting to go with more 3 wide receiver sets and fewer jumbo packages? Or, was it pretty comparable, and we just got manhandled by a superior front seven? I would hope the coaching staff would have more sense than that, but you can’t rule it out until we see the snap counts. Regardless, it didn’t seem like a well-called game by Waldron. Nor was it a very efficient game from Geno and the rest of our skill players.

My other big takeaway, however, has to do with the defense, and how promising this unit looks going forward.

The Bengals had back-to-back touchdown-scoring drives to open this game, which initially led me to believe my prognostication would be accurate: that we wouldn’t touch Burrow, and they’d carve us up and down the field accordingly. But, we ended up tightening things up the rest of the way, giving up just 3 points after the 12:20 mark in the second quarter. We forced 6 punts and got an interception. We sacked Burrow 3 times in the game, hit him 5 times, got 4 tackles for loss, and knocked down 6 passes. We held Burrow to a paltry 185 yards passing (5.3 yards per attempt) and held their running game to 46 yards on 15 carries. Coming on the heels of that Giants massacre, there were a lot of questions about whether or not we could keep that going against a competent offense. The Seahawks’ defense came through this one with flying colors. They absolutely did enough to win us this game, which hasn’t been something we’ve been able to say very often the last 5+ years.

I can’t sit here and get too down on this team after one game. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t feel very strongly the other way either; I’m not telling you everything is wonderful. It probably helps that I didn’t actually sit through this game for 3 hours; I’m sure in the moment I would’ve been miserable for damn near every minute. Part of me wants to say people are too quick to write off Geno Smith (and they’re damn near insane if they’re calling for Drew Lock to start for this team!), but there’s another part of me that saw Geno finish 3-6 last year (including playoffs), and knows he’s still getting credit for some of those early-2022 performances. He’s good against bad defenses, he’s pretty miserable against good-to-great defenses, and we still don’t have a lot of those late-game heroics that we regularly saw during Russell Wilson’s prime.

I’ll also say that we’ve given Wilson a lot of crap – especially since he’s gone to Denver and stunk up the joint – for poor performances on 3rd down and with taking brutal sacks, but that hasn’t really let up a whole lot with Geno under center. Especially in the biggest games. I don’t know what that says about the team as a whole, other than it’s really hard to be great at quarterback in the NFL, and I ultimately don’t think Geno Smith is great. I think he’s fine. He’s much closer to Ryan Tannehill in his prime than Russell Wilson in his prime.

But, I think we’re going to need to see this season as a whole before we can totally rule him out. There are more opportunities for Geno to turn it around. In a couple weeks, we have back-to-back games against the Browns and Ravens, two good-to-great defenses that he’ll need to be the best version of himself if we expect to win either of those games.

Ultimately, it’s a loss to an AFC team, which means very little in the grand scheme of things. Thankfully, we were bailed out by the Browns – who took care of business against the 49ers – so we haven’t lost any ground. But, that makes next week’s game against the Cards all the more important.

Good on Kenneth Walker for continuing to look like a stud. Good on Tyler Lockett for having another big game. Good on Jaxon Smith-Njigba for being involved, and good on Jake Bobo for making a couple of hard-nosed catches.

Devon Witherspoon had a quieter game than the one in New York, but still broke up 3 passes. Jamal Adams stayed healthy throughout. Dre’Mont Jones, Jarran Reed, and Boye Mafe each had sacks. Tre Brown returned from injury and had a bigtime pick (the combo of him, Witherspoon, and Woolen look dominant together). And look at Jason Myers being perfect (and hitting a 55 yard field goal)!

I will say that I was disappointed in Pete Carroll. If there was ever a game we needed him to be the conservative version of himself, this was it. The defense was rolling by the fourth quarter. We were down 4 points, we had the ball near the goalline. We failed to get it in due to offensive incompetence. There was still over 2 minutes to go, we had two time outs, and he opted to keep the offense out there on 4th & goal at the 6. Kick the field goal! Then, you’re down 1, you have a chance to get the ball back (which we did), and drive it down for the game-winner. It’s mind-boggling when Pete decides to be hyper-aggressive, and when he decides to turtle up. He’ll punt from the opposing 40 yard line in one drive (when we’ve proven capable of moving the football), then he’ll go for it near the goalline (when we’ve looked like ass trying to score in the red zone). Just be consistent! He’s standing on a 16 against a dealer’s 10, then he’s hitting on a 14 when the dealer has a 5, just because he has a feeling or whatever.

The Seahawks Had A Dominant Defensive Performance Against An Inept Offensive Giants Team

In retrospect, BOY are the Giants bad! I was not prepared for that level of ineptitude. I keep coming back to how they JUST gave Danny Dimes a huge contract extension (he’s going to have a $47 million cap hit in 2024!); what a disaster!

The Seahawks now head into the BYE week with a 3-1 record, firmly in second place in the NFC West, and among the wild card contenders one month in. It’s probably the best we could’ve hoped for heading into the season, so all things considered, I’m pretty happy with where this team is at.

While I readily acknowledge that it’s less impressive knowing Saquon Barkley was out for this game, I think it’s undeniable that the Seahawks’ run defense is vastly improved over last year. Daniel Jones scrambled for 66 yards on 10 carries, but everyone else only managed 46 yards on 19. Not that I want to allow opposing quarterbacks to run all over us, but few of those were actually designed runs, so in a sense they feel like flukier yards.

This game will forever stand out as the one where the Seahawks defense got 11 sacks. 2 from Wagner, 2 from Brooks, 2 from Devon Witherspoon (who also had a 97-yard pick six, to go along with 7 tackles), 2 from Nwosu, and 1 apiece from Mafe, Myles Adams, and Mario Edwards (who forced a fumble on his that was recovered by Brooks). Now THAT’S how you win a game 24-3!

It was, truly, an awesome defensive performance. But, at the same time, the Giants might have the worst offensive line in the league. They’ve got the aforementioned mediocre Danny Dimes. They’ve still not yet improved their wide receiver room. And they were without Barkley. There were pieces here and there on defense that stood out – Kayvon Thibodeaux had 2 sacks and looked like the monster we all expected coming out of college – but by and large the Giants don’t look like a good football team, at all. Don’t forget the Cardinals blew a 21-point second half lead to them, otherwise the Giants would be 0-4!

This might’ve been, all things considered, our easiest opponent (yes, even easier than the Panthers). And yet, good lord, did we suffer a massive amount of injuries in this one!

By the end, our O-Line looked like this: Forsythe, Brown, Oluwatimi, Bradford, Curhan. We lost both guards in this one (Lewis and Haynes) and had to do some shuffling. We also lost Geno Smith for part of the second quarter, after he was rolled-up on out of bounds unnecessarily. Jarran Reed missed the tail end of the game. There has to be some other guys I’m missing …

Oh yeah, Jamal Adams. The Hype Train was in all of its full-throated glory this week as The Return Of Jamal Adams was in effect.

I don’t know whether to make a joke or throw my laptop across the room. It is, indeed, comical how insufferably injury-prone he’s become since donning a Seahawks uniform. Are we, like, his kryptonite? Is someone secretly poisoning him with very low doses over a long period of time? Did he have all his bones replaced with wafer and his muscles replaced with nougat?

It’s particularly exasperating because you can CLEARLY see the impact of a healthy Jamal Adams. He was in there for, what, a drive or two? Yet, he was flying all over the place and had a couple crunching tackles. Unfortunately, his second tackle was made with his head, and he left with an obvious concussion (in spite of him berating the health professional who confirmed his disability).

But, you know, we were all prepared for this, right? Not to expect too much out of Adams. Whatever we get from him is a bonus and all that. That’s why we signed Julian Love, who – not surprisingly – had his best game in a Seahawks uniform, going up against his old team.

Forget Adams, what I was most excited to see in this game was the combo of Witherspoon and Woolen out there. I think you have to like what you saw in this one (again, the caveat being our level of opponent). The longest reception by a receiver was 12 yards. We held their best offensive weapon – Darren Waller – to 3 catches for 21 yards. I’m not ready to plant my flag on this being LOB 2.0, but the pass defense was the best it’s been this season, and I think having these two guys healthy has a lot to do with it. You get to slot the secondary behind them where they deserve to be, and you see these amazing results (including a late pick by Quandre Diggs, who should be able to make more plays as a roaming free safety).

The Seahawks offense gets somewhat of an Incomplete grade on this one. Geno Smith, I thought, looked fine, though he was definitely hampered in the second half with what I presume was a downturn related to his ankle injury. He’ll be fine. Drew Lock got some play in this one and did okay, hitting Fant for what turned out to be a 51-yard gain that led to Kenneth Walker’s TD. Walker finished with a respectable 79 yards on 17 carries; Charbonnet also looked solid as his backup, hitting open holes and gashing them for 31 yards on only 5 carries.

The offensive line depth really showed up in this one. Granted, we did a lot to help them out with our protection schemes, but this offense is talented enough to afford us this luxury of playing multiple tight ends. We can withstand keeping extra blockers for those extreme blitzing defenses, thanks to how elite our receivers are. Shoutout to Walker for his protection as well; he looked fantastic picking up blitzers up the middle.

This game was unquestionably sloppy throughout, with lots of penalties on both teams, but a win is a win. On the road, against an NFC opponent, on Monday night: I’ll take it.

Shoutout to Michael Dickson for some fantastic punts to flip field position. A reverse shoutout to Myers for missing a long field goal pretty miserably.

Now, we get our BYE week. People have been saying – given our injury issues thus far – it might be at the exact right time. I would say, with the punishment we suffered in this one, it’s even more important. Then, we go right back out on the road to play an underachieving Bengals team in a couple weeks. Either we’re catching them at the exact right time, or they’re going to be furiously trying to save their season.

My biggest takeaway through four weeks is how good our rookie class looks once again. Witherspoon, obviously, has DROY potential. Bradford has looked just fine at right guard. Oluwatimi got some playing time at center. Jerrick Reed, if nothing else, looks like an elite special teamer. Cameron Young had a couple impactful tackles up the middle. Hall and Charbonnet look like excellent role players thus far at important positions. Really, the only guy who has yet to stand out has been JSN, and I don’t think anyone is worried about the top overall receiver eventually finding his footing. I will say that maybe we can try sending him on routes that AREN’T just around the line of scrimmage.

Let’s Talk About The Seahawks’ 53-Man Roster 2023

The Seahawks cut their roster down to 53 players yesterday, following the end of the pre-season. That’s always mildly interesting to talk about, right?

We should probably get the big caveat out of the way now: this isn’t the be-all, end-all of the Seahawks roster. As early as later today, we should start seeing changes. Guys hitting the IR (because if they went on the IR prior to roster cutdown, they’d be lost for the season; whereas after, they only miss a few games), guys getting cut for other players we claim off of waivers or whatnot, possible trades for back-end draft picks/roster spots. Mildly interesting. Let’s get to it.

Quarterback

  • Geno Smith
  • Drew Lock

High floor, medium ceiling. There are certainly worse backups to have than Lock, but you can argue there are plenty of better starters than Geno. We’ll see, though. I would argue Geno’s in that 10-15 range among NFL quarterbacks; for him to take it to a higher level, he’s going to need improved offensive line play.

Running Back

  • Kenneth Walker
  • Zach Charbonnet
  • DeeJay Dallas
  • Kenny McIntosh

Strong group, if they can stay healthy. I get the feeling Walker is being criminally overlooked, and I’m not sure I totally understand why. He’s got big play potential, he’s shifty, he can break tackles, he has a nose for the endzone, he’s not bad with his hands; he seems like the whole package. Yet, we draft Charbonnet in the second round, and everyone’s already On To The Next. I’m not sold on Charbonnet; I think he’s a solid #2, but I don’t know if he’s necessarily a starting-calibre, workhorse-type back. Dallas is the perfect #3/passing down back, good blocker, great hands, good route runner. McIntosh – if he isn’t already placed on the IR – figures to be inactive until the need arises for him to be called up.

Wide Receiver

  • D.K. Metcalf
  • Tyler Lockett
  • Jaxon Smith-Njigba
  • Jake Bobo
  • Cody Thompson
  • Dareke Young

Elite! I think Smith-Njigba – right now – would be the very best receiver on a good number of teams, and at worse most teams’ #2. That’s as a rookie, and WITH the broken wrist! The fact that he’s our #3? It’s crazy. Also, count me in on the Bobo Hype Train 100%! All four of these guys are so different, so skilled, and bring something unique to the table, it’s going to be impossible for someone to not be open on every play. The last two guys are special teamers and/or injured, so we’ll see how that shakes out in the coming hours/days.

Tight End

  • Noah Fant
  • Will Dissly
  • Colby Parkinson

How cool is this? Two home grown guys on reasonable contracts, building their way up in this league, in this system. And Noah Fant – the big player prize in the Russell Wilson deal – who might get overlooked more than anyone on this team. Just solid studs who are good-to-great blockers, and valuable contributors in the receiving game. This is my ideal tight end room; lots of talent, with not a lot of dollars spent. Just some grinders putting in the work.

Offensive Line

  • Charles Cross (LT)
  • Damien Lewis (LG)
  • Evan Brown (C)
  • Phil Haynes (RG)
  • Abe Lucas (RT)
  • Stone Forsythe (T)
  • Jake Curhan (G/T)
  • Olu Oluwatimi (C)
  • Anthony Bradford (G)

Also, probably my ideal offensive line group. Everyone except for Brown is a homegrown guy, and he’s kind of a solid, cheap free agent center. We have the bookend tackles with the potential to be great in the years ahead, solid guards on the last year of their respective deals (so you know they’re looking to show out and get paid), and the two rookies who are ready to start pushing for playing time as early as this season. There are definitely questions about how good this group is right now, but I’m hopeful we’ll see some growth if not this year, then in the years ahead. Just, you know, let’s not see any injuries on the outside if we can avoid it.

Defensive Line

  • Dre’Mont Jones
  • Jarran Reed
  • Mario Edwards
  • Mike Morris
  • Myles Adams
  • Cameron Young

This, uhh, looks less than impressive when you list them all together. We’re REALLY relying on Jones and Reed to carry the mail in this group. Edwards is just a guy. Adams is just a guy. Morris and Young are both rookies, but also injured I think? I don’t know WHAT we’re getting from this group, but it doesn’t look amazing. I, for one, can’t wait for Bryan Mone to come back.

Outside Linebacker

  • Uchenna Nwosu
  • Darrell Taylor
  • Boye Mafe
  • Derick Hall
  • Tyreke Smith

This feels a little more impressive, but also maybe a little top-heavy. We know what we’ve got with Nwosu. We think we know what we’ve got with Taylor. The rest still have to prove it on the football field, in regular season games, against opposing #1 offenses. Now, I think we’re all very high on Mafe and Hall, based on their bodies and what we’ve heard said about them in training camp and what we’ve seen in pre-season games. But, we all know how that goes. Whatever happened to Alton Robinson and Nick Reed?

Inside Linebacker

  • Bobby Wagner
  • Jordyn Brooks
  • Devin Bush
  • Jon Rhattigan

This looks 1,000% better with Brooks back and playing. Is he fully healthy? We’ll find out. But, that takes pressure off of Bush to be superman, and that relieves all of us of watching Rhattigan make ankle tackles all game long. None of these units I’ve listed on the defensive side of the ball – by themselves – look all that great. But, with Bobby Wagner’s leadership and ability, he might be the glue that holds everything together and wills this group to great things. It’s our only hope, if I’m being honest!

Safety

  • Quandre Diggs
  • Julian Love
  • Jamal Adams
  • Jerrick Reed
  • Coby Bryant

Lots of versatility in this group; might be the most versatile we’ve ever seen. Adams figures to play more linebacker than actual safety. Bryant has shown an adeptness at both safety and nickel corner. I get the feeling that Love can play down in the box, but also isn’t a slouch in coverage. And Reed looked MIGHTY impressive in the pre-season; I’m happy with this group as a whole.

Cornerback

  • Riq Woolen
  • Devon Witherspoon
  • Michael Jackson
  • Tre Brown
  • Artie Burns

Pound for pound, maybe the most talented group on the team. Still, I can’t help but question Jackson’s level of play in the last two pre-season games. I thought Tre Brown looked much flashier, with bigger play potential. And you could do A LOT worse than either Burns or Bryant as your fifth corner. Teams have to be jealous of this unit.

Special Teams

  • Michael Dickson (P)
  • Jason Myers (K)
  • Chris Stoll (LS)
  • Nick Bellore

I’m tired of listing Bellore as a linebacker; he’s just a special teamer! He sure as shit isn’t a fullback; we never use one! Stoll is an undrafted rookie, so we’ll see how long he lasts. Otherwise, good group, solid all around.

No One’s Really Talking About The Seahawks’ Offensive Line

The consensus biggest cause for concern when it comes to the Seahawks is the rush defense. For good reason. We were terrible at stopping the run last year. It cost us at least three very winnable games last year (vs. Tampa in Germany, vs. Vegas in an overtime shootout, and mystifyingly at home against a mediocre Panthers team). You also can’t help but wonder how we lost to the likes of the Falcons and Saints, but the rush defense deficiencies really presented itself as the season wore on, and the Bucs exposed us as a team entirely ill-equipped to prevent yards on the ground.

Rush defense is also the biggest cause for concern because I think a lot of fans question whether the Seahawks did enough to address this area of need. That remains to be seen, but I feel like it’ll be better than we expect, even if it’s far from ideal.

A lowkey potential problem lies in the offensive line though, and I don’t think anyone is giving it the attention it deserves.

I think, for the most part, people were happy with the Seahawks’ offense in general last year. We got to be pleasantly surprised; that’s always fun. Geno Smith rose from the ashes to become a competent starting quarterback in this league. The top receivers both had 1,000-yard seasons. The running backs – led by Kenneth Walker – were electric and impactful. And, the play-calling was better than we’ve seen in ages.

But, there were still a number of games where the offense really struggled. Not just against the 49ers, though those three games definitely stand out (including our first round exit in the playoffs). And I think Geno largely gets a pass even though his numbers declined as the season wore on.

The O-Line gets a pass too, though I would argue a lot of his challenges were a direct result of protection problems.

If you had to critique Geno’s performance as a whole in 2022, what would you say were his biggest areas in need of improvement? Third downs, and late game production. Even though he eventually did lead us to a few come-from-behind victories, or otherwise winning us games late, it seems like in most of our losses we had opportunities to snatch a victory, but fell short.

Shockingly, I don’t have the numbers, but what I saw indicated a team that was really lacking in protection on third downs in obvious passing situations. How many times did we see Geno take a back-breaking sack on third and long? Some of that might be on him, holding the ball too long, or not finding the open man (if there was a man open), but a good chunk of that was a total failure by the line to give him any time whatsoever. I never felt confident that we’d convert a third & long, in any situation, but especially late in games. They just crumbled under the increased pressure, and as a result too many drives ended in a whimper.

Now, obviously, the Seahawks have certain advantages with their O-Line that many teams don’t get to enjoy. On the whole, the line is fine. To me, it’s middle-of-the-road. It’s not like some of those offensive lines during the lesser Russell Wilson years. Sure, both were relatively inexpensive, but this one is actually seeing results, whereas those older ones were legitimate liabilities (and deserved to be considered among this team’s chief problem areas). We’re getting by with bookend tackles on rookie contracts. Our guards are home-grown. And the center carousel keeps turning, but at least this year we have a viable rookie to push the retread free agent we signed in the offseason. To get middle-of-the-road production from a unit so underpaid is a blessing! It allows us to field a competent offense while bolstering other areas of the team into real strengths.

But, now we’re talking about a team that wants to play with the big dogs. We’re talking about a team coming off of a surprising playoff run, that’s looking to take the next step into potentially winning the division and contending for the conference title. I don’t know if any reasonable fan or pundit would rank the Seahawks as highly as the Eagles or 49ers, but A LOT of them are picking the Seahawks as either a dark horse or a frisky contender (largely based on the perceived weakness of the NFC, but still).

I am of the belief that the Seahawks can’t simply replicate their 2022 offense and all of a sudden win 2-3 more games. I think most of us are of the opinion that the 2023 defense will be improved over their 2022 counterparts. But, we’re going to need the offense to take a similar step forward if we really want to compete with the likes of the 49ers. Since the skill guys are largely the same, that means we’re going to need a boost from the O-Line, and that’s what has me worried here today.

There’s a lot of talk about a sophomore slump vs. a sophomore boost (or whatever, I don’t remember the exact phrasing Pete Carroll used) when it comes to the likes of Charles Cross and Abe Lucas. Again, we’re thrilled they were rookies last year and played a full season, but they WILL need to step it up if we’re going to be better. I don’t 100% buy into those PFF grades, as I’ve heard they’re inherently flawed, but I’m still not encouraged by their regular low grades in both pass and run blocking. The PFF grades aren’t good for nothing, and I’d like to see them start to show out for the nerds.

I don’t get the sense that Damien Lewis is a problem, necessarily, but I also don’t know that he’s a huge benefit either. He’s never mentioned among the top guards in football. It’s nice that he’s a gamer, and he’s on a rookie deal as a third rounder who’s started since his first year. But, he kinda feels like Just A Guy. On the other side, there’s no question that Phil Haynes outplayed Gabe Jackson last year in a time-share situation; with Jackson gone, you’d think that’s an upgrade. But, there’s a reason why Haynes has largely been a fringe player in this league. He was a fourth round rookie and a backup in 2019 (after being injured for most of that season), on the IR in 2020, waived and on our practice squad for most of 2021, until finally last year he got an opportunity. Any team could’ve had him, and chose to let him remain a Seahawk. He’s on a cheap 1-year deal this year, because again, no one else wanted him. And now you figure he’s going to be pushed by Anthony Bradford, another fourth round rookie. Was Haynes as good as he was last year because he only played about half the time? Can he sustain for a full season as the starter at right guard?

Then, there’s the center. Evan Brown, in a long line of journeymen centers we’ve brought over here in the wake of the mistake that was trading Max Unger for Jimmy Graham way back in the day. He’s a guy who played guard and center for the Lions last year, and to his credit was much better as a center. That being said, you’re talking about a guy making less than $3 million on a 1-year deal. A guy, like Haynes, who it appears nobody else wanted. Someone who – like the rest of our interior line – is a JAG who may be better than some of the previous centers we’ve employed here, but that’s not saying much.

And then there’s our depth. Ye gods!

I’ve been killing these backups all month for the pisspoor performances we’ve seen from them in the first two preseason games. Again, for good reason! They’ve stunk! The running game can’t get going, the quarterback can’t get into a rhythm, and for whatever reason (maybe because we’ve won both games) people have just ignored this unit entirely! Sure, they’re backups, but they’re also going up against backups, and I can’t help but be alarmed by how inept our guys have been.

You could replace Stone Forsythe with a statue and get comparable results; he’s terrible. Granted, he’s a sixth round pick in our nadir draft of 2021 (where we only had three picks), but I can’t even say he’s a decent backup. He’s a liability! And if either of our tackles goes down, we’re super fucked!

I really liked Jake Curhan as an undrafted rookie; I thought he showed real potential and was going to be a steal for us. But, he’s had some injury issues, and we’ve tried to cross-train him at guard as well as right tackle, and I don’t know if that’s as successful as the team thinks it is. He’s looked a little rough out there, though I don’t think he’s as dire as Forsythe.

I will say that I am encouraged by the rookies Olu Oluwatimi and Anthony Bradford. But, Olu has been dealing with a nagging elbow injury that held him out of the most recent preseason game, and figures to be his undoing in this center battle (until he’s fully healthy again). All things being equal, I’d rather have Olu over Evan Brown, but not an injured Olu. As for Bradford, it’s pretty clear he’s behind Haynes. Seems like he’s more of a project, though a very promising one from what I’ve seen from him in the two preseason games. He might not be a finished product, but I can’t wait to see what that ultimately looks like, because I feel like – if he can stay healthy – he might be a monster.

Beyond that, your guess is as good as mine as far as backups go. I think the Seahawks usually only keep 9 on the 53-man roster, so that might be it.

In the early going of this season, it’s going to hinge on the improvement (or lack thereof) of Cross and Lucas. If they’re better, that’s an immediate boost. I think, with the interior, those guys are who they are, and we’re unlikely to see ANY improvement this season.

BUT, if Olu and/or Bradford ultimately work to steal jobs, we could be looking at a situation where this unit is playing better by season’s end than it is at the beginning. That doesn’t give me a lot of hope for winning the division, because a slow start is sure to torpedo us in that area; but, if we can go on a nice little run to close out the season, then who knows?

We’ll see though. For the most part, I think the Seahawks’ defense will be fine. It won’t be close to top 10, but it shouldn’t be bottom 10 either. No, this season is going to come down to the offensive line. If they can take a step foward, we’re looking at a top 5 offense.

But, if they tread water, we could be in for another .500-ish finish.

Seahawks Backups Won Their First Preseason Game

I enjoy the preseason, to a point. I’m not going crazy, I’m not living and dying with every play like in the regular season. But, I get a little giddy for that first one. I enjoy seeing our players in uniform. I look forward to who is actually going to play, and lament who’s too hurt to get these valuable reps. I also mostly don’t care when veterans sit these games out, though I would hardly call second-year offensive tackles “veterans”, and wonder why they’re not at least playing a quarter.

I’ve also learned to stop taking these games so seriously. There’s nothing for the average fan like me to learn. It’s all meaningless. Guys who look great in these games might not even play in the regular season. I don’t know what I’m supposed to glean from these things, so I just let it wash over me and try to have a good time.

On a whole, I didn’t think the Seahawks looked very good in their 24-13 victory at home over the Vikings last night. I thought the run defense got gashed up pretty good; I thought a lot of our pressure failed to get home, or have any impact until very late in the game, when we were facing their third-stringers; and I thought our offense – especially our rushing offense – largely stunk up the joint.

But, again, take it all with a grain of salt. Bobby Wagner didn’t play. Jarran Reed and Uchenna Nwosu didn’t play. Darrell Taylor wasn’t out there. Then again, doesn’t that even further prove our lack of depth? We’re going to need at least SOME of these young guys to step up and stop the run, if Wagner is banged up, or we lose Reed, etc. So, I guess, I hope the good players don’t get hurt ever!

I will say that the pass rush wasn’t a total disaster. But, I saw what few blitzes we sent get swallowed up pretty pathetically. But, I’m not as worried about that.

As for the rush offense, yeesh! As I mentioned up top, neither of our starting offensive tackes played – replaced by Stone Forsythe and Jake Curhan, respectively – and while we got both of our center candidates some action, I don’t know who was in there at guard. Nevertheless, it was eye-opening how bad we were at running the ball. There were no holes whatsoever! Either that means the Vikings were selling out to stop the run, or they just flat out dominated us mano a mano.

If they did sell out, it didn’t translate much into receivers being open down field. I don’t have a great sense of the talent on the Vikings’ defense; I know they had a good team last year (record-wise, at least), but I thought that was propelled by the offense. Maybe they’re good! Or maybe our backups need a lot of improvement.

Outside of one terrible interception, I thought Drew Lock was fine. He largely played it safe and checked down. It took him a while to get going, but eventually he started hitting some deeper stuff (not too deep though; none of those long bombs we like). And his first touchdown was rifled in through heavy coverage and was a thing of beauty.

I was VERY excited to see Jaxon Smith-Njigba get a lot of play! He looked awesome! So did Jake Bobo, and the other receiver who caught that first amazing TD (Easop Winston Jr.). It feels like Bobo has a legitimate shot at making it as a 5th or 6th receiver (especially with Dee Eskridge’s impending suspension, and the way other guys are getting hurt), and I thought Winston looked like a prime practice squad candidate.

Getting back to the defense, I thought there were exciting flashes. I thought Boye Mafe and Derick Hall looked good. Mike Morris got some early pressure. Devin Bush had some flash plays, which were encouraging to say the least! And guys all over the secondary were flying around. Mike Jackson, Tre Brown, Coby Bryant, even rookie Jerrick Reed had a pass breakup.

Can’t say a whole lot about the rest of the defense though. Jon Rhattigan led the team in tackles with 9. He should probably make this team as a backup/Special Teamer. Jason Myers made all his kicks. I didn’t notice any issues with the long snapper. And, you know what they say, it’s also the preseason for the punter.

Also, Dee Eskridge got hurt on the opening kickoff (of course). Cade Johnson left the game with a serious concussion (requiring him to go to the hospital at halftime). On the flipside, rookie guard Anthony Bradford had a fucking rad pancake block, so he’s already on the shortlist for my favorite player on the team.

I’m probably going to miss the next two preseason games, but we’ll see if I can find a way to watch on delay.

Have The Seahawks Done Enough To Overtake The 49ers?

That’s the question we’re asking ourselves all offseason. It’s really the only relevant question to the 2023 season from a Seahawks perspective.

The 49ers were 13-4 last year, and very clearly the second-best team in the NFC. They were the #2 seed in the playoffs, they met Philly in the NFC Championship Game (the #1 seed, naturally), and they got pounded into submission.

The 49ers had one of the best and deepest rosters in the NFL, on both sides of the ball. They’re well-coached, and they have a quality offensive system that allows them to plug & play literally any quarterback (including Brock Purdy, a rookie last year who was taken with the literal final pick in the NFL Draft), and they’re STACKED where it counts. They have one of the best running backs (when healthy) in Christian McCaffrey. They have one of the best wide receivers (when healthy) in Deebo Samuel. They have one of the best tight ends (when healthy) in George Kittle. They have one of the best defensive linemen (when healthy) in Nick Bosa. They have one of the best middle linebackers (who’s always healthy) in Fred Warner. Now, the fact that almost all of these guys have had major injuries recently – yet were all healthy in 2022 – tells me the 49ers were exceedingly lucky last year. One has to wonder if that’s going to carry over; perhaps that’s a feather in our cap.

Where the 49ers are most in flux is at quarterback. Jimmy G is gone. Brock Purdy got injured at season’s end and is no sure thing to return by the start of this regular season. Trey Lance got hurt early on and was lost for most of 2022; he’ll be back, but now there are questions about his viability as a starter going forward. And their big hedge in all this is Sam Darnold, I guess?

Here’s the deal: talking about injuries, or pontificating on who the quarterback is going to be, leaves a lot of variables in play. I’m not interested in “What Ifs” when it comes to the 49ers. I think Brock Purdy will come back and play again; I believe he’ll be in the majority of the games this season. I also believe – as noted up top – they can roll with anyone (including Sam Darnold) and be fine on offense. They have enough talent at the skill spots to move the chains, and they have a deep enough defense to not need a lot of points to win games. Now, they didn’t have much of an opportunity to fill things out in the draft – and eventually the chickens will come home to roost for this franchise – but I’m going into 2023 believing the 49ers will be pretty much as good as they were in 2022. Without even looking at their schedule, I’ll pencil them in for 11-13 wins right now.

I want to focus on the Seahawks more than the 49ers, for obvious reasons. I follow the Seahawks more closely. This is a Seattle-centric blog. And the onus is on the Seahawks to have done enough to bridge the gap.

The 2022 Seahawks were also in the playoffs, as a wild card team, with a 9-8 record. For our hard work, we were rewarded by playing the 49ers in the first round. We got obliterated. Indeed, we lost three games to the 49ers last year, and none of them were particularly close. We couldn’t move the ball! That’s the long and the short of it; we couldn’t move the ball until we were already getting killed, and by that point it didn’t matter. None of the games were competitive, and that’s hard to do when both teams are playoff teams, who are in the same division. We know the 49ers! There were no surprises. They just beat our fucking asses, mano a mano.

This post isn’t just about beating the 49ers this year. It’s about overtaking them for the NFC West title. Any team on any given Sunday and all that; we could fuck around and luck into a win. But, I’m more interested in going toe-to-toe with the 49ers over the long haul. So, what have the Seahawks done?

  • We signed Jason Myers to an extension. He’s great every other year, so I’m a little worried about what 2023 has in store. That being said, the 49ers just drafted a kicker, so I’d be more concerned if I were them.
  • We signed Geno Smith to an extension. Obviously, this is much bigger news than a kicker. His contract is pretty well tied up with his performance; if he does even a fraction of a percent better than he did last year, he’ll get PAID. If he fails to live up to what he did last year, he’ll still get paid, but considerably less.
  • We signed Dre’Mont Jones and Jarran Reed to plug the middle of our defensive line. They both feature vast improvements in pass rush ability, with moderate improvements in run stuffing.
  • We filled out our offensive line with trusted veterans (on short-term deals) and exciting rookies (on long-term deals). Gabe Jackson is no more, but Phil Haynes returns (and figures to get first crack at one of the guard spots opposite Damien Lewis). Evan Brown was brought in to compete at center; he replaces Austin Blythe (who was a detriment for us last year) and figures to be much more competent. We also drafted a couple of thrilling prospects in Anthony Bradford (humongous guard taken in the 4th round) and Olu Oluwatimi (a savvy 5th round pick who many project to become our starting center as early as game 1).
  • We signed Devin Bush and Julian Love at inside linebacker and safety, respectively. Bush is a potential reclamation project who – at the very least – should be a slight improvement over Cody Barton. Love is much more interesting, as he figures to be a major hedge against the inevitable Jamal Adams injury. Love essentially cost us Ryan Neal, but it still feels like a solid upgrade at the position.
  • We brought back Bobby Wagner, which was vitally important, considering how mediocre we were at linebacker last year (again, see: Cody Barton), as well as factoring in the Jordyn Brooks injury (who figures to start this year on the PUP list, and might not be back to normal again until 2024). This improves our run defense, our communication on defense, and gives us another brilliant mind on this side of the ball to ensure players are in the right spots and doing what they’re supposed to be doing.
  • Then, we went out and drafted the best cornerback and wide receiver in the class. We also brought in a couple of very promising running backs (to replace Penny and Homer), a few defensive linemen to fill out our depth, and even another safety who is getting all kinds of kudos (Jerrick Reed won’t be a starter – or even much of a defensive participant – in year one, but he figures to cut his teeth on Special Teams, and could eventually develop into a Quandre Diggs replacement down the road). It appears to be the second consecutive elite draft class by the Seahawks – with a major emphasis on Best Player Available – and as we all know, there’s no better way to quickly turn around your franchise than to draft the way we did from 2010-2012.

And that’s the rub, isn’t it? The previous iteration of a championship-level Seahawks squad took three drafts to reach. So far, this one has only had (MAYBE) the two. Granted, finding even ONE elite draft class is a stretch, for any organization. But, if we want to keep up with the Joneses, we gotta be on the ball. I will say – in comparison to the L.O.B. squad – that we are starting from a MUCH better spot compared to what the Seahawks were from 2009 to 2010 (when Pete Carroll and John Schneider took over). So, an optimist might say that we only NEED the two elite draft classes.

What do I like? Let’s start there.

I’m absolutely enamored with the non-quarterback skill guys on offense. D.K., Tyler, and JSN are all incredible; here’s hoping JSN gets healthy and stays there (it’s disconcerting that he’s still dealing with an injury he suffered in college). Kenneth Walker returns (along with DeeJay Dallas, I guess), and gets paired with a couple of rookies who look tremendous. The tight ends are fine Seahawks tight ends.

I like the potential of this offensive line. Our two hotshot tackles had a full (healthy) year to experience everything the NFL had to offer; the hope is they take a big step forward in year two. The interior should be solid, if not improved over the dead weight we jettisoned this offseason. Any amount of extra time we can give Geno Smith is only going to help him when it comes to finding all his weapons.

Speaking of, I don’t hate the Geno signing, but I especially love how incentivized it is. He’s hungry, he proved he’s at least a capable starter in this league, now we’ll see if – with all this talent around him – he can take his game to another level.

And, how do you not like the secondary? Tariq Woolen as a rookie showed he’s capable of being a top cover guy. Coby Bryant as a rookie showed he’s capable of being a quality nickel guy. We still have Quandre Diggs playing at a high level (as another veteran leader to keep guys in line). We still have Jamal Adams (who is dynamic when he’s on the field). We still have promising depth in Tre Brown and Mike Jackson. Then, you add the consensus best cornerback in this draft class, to go opposite Woolen. That makes the whole room CONSIDERABLY better. Then, you add one of the top free agent safety acquisitions in Love. Then, you add another rookie safety to the mix who looks like a valuable depth piece. The secondary is fucking LOADED. It might eventually be better than it ever was, and that’s saying something.

What don’t I like?

I’m going to single out the linebackers here, but specifically I’m talking about the inside linebackers. We were already one of the worst units last year; we might be worse this year. Bobby Wagner gets a lot of credit for what he did with the Rams last year, especially with everything crumbling around him thanks to injuries and the team losing. But, how good was he really? I think a lot of Seahawks fans saw what he did in those two games against Seattle – where he was hyper-motivated to rub it in our faces – but are ignoring the rest. And are ignoring how he’s looked the last few seasons, when he’s been in unquestionable decline compared to his prime. Eventually, it’s going to come crashing down for Bobby; maybe that’s 2023. But, for the sake of argument, let’s pretend we get his exact 2022 production; is that better than what a healthy Jordyn Brooks gave us? I dunno. There’s also a lot of doubt about Bush, and some second thoughts about Cody Barton (especially with Barton getting a multi-year deal with the erstwhile Washington Football Team). If Bobby’s worse than Brooks, and Bush is worse than Barton, YE GODS! That’s a nightmare scenario.

Then, there’s just the blanket Defensive Line, but it’s really broken down into Pass Rush and Run Defense.

I thought the pass rush last year was good, not great. It took a while before the team understood how to properly utilize Darrell Taylor (he’s not an every-down outside linebacker/defensive end; he’s more strictly a guy you want to save for obvious pass rushing situations). Uchenna Nwosu was our best performer all year. Boye Mafe was just okay as a rookie, but I’m not expecting much from him ever. Derick Hall gets the honor of being this year’s Boye Mafe – and he’s getting rave reviews so far in OTAs – but I’m not expecting anything here either. Mario Edwards was just signed as a low-priced veteran defensive end, but he’s never done much in pass rush in his career.

What should we expect from our pass rush? At best, probably what we saw last year. Dre’Mont Jones is a wild card here; if he can consistently blow things up in the middle, that’s going to make everyone’s jobs on the outside a lot easier. But, I wouldn’t hold my breath. At worst, the pass rush takes a step back, and this is still our #1 priority next offseason (just like it was this offseason).

I thought – as does literally everyone – the run defense last year was total and complete shit. We lopped off a lot of dead weight: gone are Al Woods, Poona Ford, Shelby Harris, Quinton Jefferson, and L.J. Collier, among others. And we brought in Jones, Reed, Edwards, and rookies Cameron Young and Mike Morris. We retained Bryan Mone, but he’s injured and it’s not clear when he’s going to be ready to play again. We could’ve had Jalen Carter, so that’ll forever be a major What If. We also could’ve held onto Al Woods for not much more money than what his dead cap figure amounts to, but we’re up against the salary cap and already had to convert some Tyler Lockett money into signing bonus proration, just to sign our rookies.

Could the run defense be worse this year? It was so bad last year, I find that hard to believe, but I guess I have to admit it’s possible. I’m hoping that continuity among the coaching staff will lead to a better understanding of the scheme by the players, as well as a better understanding by the personnel people as to who needs to be on this roster, to fit in with that scheme. Is there a run-plugging diamond in the rough, either among the rookies or the back-of-the-roster holdovers from last year? Poona Ford and Bryan Mone both came from out of nowhere to be major contributors for this team, so anything’s possible.

All told, where does that put us compared to last year?

If we get modest improvements out of the run defense and pass rush, we should see tremendous value from our secondary and enough explosiveness from our offense to be improved over last year. I could see the Seahawks winning anywhere from 9-12 games, as long as we don’t suffer too many major injuries. I’ve got the 49ers at 11-13 wins, so what I’ll say is I think the Seahawks have given themselves a chance. I think we’ve done enough to compete on their level. That doesn’t mean I’m expecting us to blow them out ever; I think we can eke out one victory in the regular season, and be within a game of them by season’s end.

Gun to my head, if I have to make a definitive prediction, I would say the Seahawks finish a game back. Or, maybe tied in record, but losing to them via tiebreakers. Bottom line, I’m still predicting the 49ers win the NFC West; but I do think we’ll have a better wild card spot than we did a year ago, and hopefully that means we won’t have to play them in the first round again.

So, no, I don’t think the Seahawks have done enough to overtake the 49ers in 2023. But, at this rate, 2024 is ON THE TABLE.

The Seahawks Probably Had A Pretty Good 2023 NFL Draft

Look, I’m not going to sit here and pretend I know a lot about these college guys we selected over the weekend. Or how well they’ll develop or fit into our particular scheme. It’s the great unknown! We’ll just have to wait and see.

  • 1st Round (5th overall) – Devon Witherspoon (CB)
  • 1st Round (20th overall) – Jaxon Smith-Njigba (WR)
  • 2nd Round (37th overall) – Derick Hall (OLB)
  • 2nd Round (52nd overall) – Zach Charbonnet (RB)
  • 4th Round (108th overall) – Anthony Bradford (G)
  • 4th Round (123rd overall) – Cameron Young (DT)
  • 5th Round (151st overall) – Mike Morris (DE)
  • 5th Round (154th overall) – Olu Oluwatimi (C)
  • 6th Round (198th overall) – Jerrick Reed (S/CB)
  • 7th Round (237th overall) – Kenny McIntosh (RB)

My overarching opinion of the first round picks is that we got some good (maybe great) players, but neither one are guys who are in the stratosphere of a Sauce Gardner or a Ja’Marr Chase (players who, from day one, were destined for the Hall of Fame). They were considered “best players available” while also being at positions of need, but not the BIGGEST position of need.

That would be the defensive line. Naturally. As always. Where we left off from there is that we’d wait and see what the rest of the draft gave us before rendering judgment. But, that comes with diminishing returns. The further you get away from the first half of the first round, the less likely it is you’ll find truly impactful players. Of course, there’s always the possibility that you hit on someone on the second or third days. But, for every Tyler Lockett or Tariq Woolen, there are hundreds of Demarcus Christmases.

To try and replenish that BIGGEST position of need, we used our top second round pick on Derick Hall out of Auburn. You love the school, you love the conference, but his body frame harkens to a guy we just took last year – Boye Mafe – and countless guys with that frame before him, who we’ve tried to turn into effective pass rushers. Best case scenario, Hall is another Bruce Irvin type who might get you 8-10 sacks, and be somewhat competent against the run. But, this is the type of guy we get every year. As a rookie, I wouldn’t bet on any more than 3-4 sacks, and even that might be too high. The hope is, he’s part of the rotation, but you don’t need to rely on him being the starter (those jobs should still belong to Nwosu and Darrell Taylor). Let him get his feet wet, gain some experience, pop a few times, and hope he develops into a starter in year 2 or 3.

Unfortunately, we used our other second round pick on another running back. By all accounts, Charbonnet is a fine back. People have him rated as high as the second or third best in this class. I don’t know if that says more about him or the quality of this class. I’m not going to get super bent out of shape about this, but if it were up to me – after already taking a running back in the second round the previous year (and having him turn into Kenneth Walker, superstar), I would’ve waited in this draft. From what I was reading, there were quality running backs throughout the draft. See: the guy we took in the seventh round. While I get that we needed to replenish the running back room (after losing Rashaad Penny and Travis Homer in free agency), we didn’t need to use our second round pick on him.

That being said, Kenneth Walker did get banged up as a rookie. Running backs, in general, are pretty injury prone, with all the hits they take. The Seahawks, in particular, not only utilize the running back position more than most, but also seem to suffer an inordinate amount of injuries (see: Rashaad Penny and Chris Carson in recent years). So, if Charbonnet turns into a high-quality player in this league, it would stand to reason he’ll find himself in the starting lineup sooner rather than later.

That was it for Friday, as the Seahawks ended up trading back with their third round pick (with the Denver Broncos of all teams). We got another fourth rounder in return, but also a 2024 third round pick (meaning: we get to root against the Broncos for another year!). It sounds like we got tremendous value in this deal, so I’m not complaining.

We started beefing up our trenches in the fourth round, taking a guard and a defensive tackle. The guard is interesting, and could very well find himself starting for us as early as 2024 (if not sooner, if we suffer injuries, and he finds himself next up on the depth chart). The DT seems like he’s Just A Guy. Don’t expect any sort of pass rush whatsoever, and just hope he’s competent as a rotational run stuffer/guy who can take on blocks while freeing up our linebackers behind him to make plays.

Then, we continued picking for the trenches by taking a couple of Michigan players in the fifth round. The defensive end also seems like he’s Just A Guy, albeit with a fairly interesting body type for the position (6’5, 295 pounds), who could play along the outside or the interior. Does that make him L.J. Collier? Probably, but at least we didn’t waste a high draft pick on him. The center, however, also seems interesting as a potential starter as early as 2024 (if not sooner, again, due to injury and his standing on the depth chart).

I’m not buying the safety we took in the sixth round will remain at safety. For starters, he’ll need to excel at special teams if he wants to make the roster at all. Secondly, he seems a tad undersized, and they’re already talking about him being a nickel or dime corner. Odds are he doesn’t play much at all on defense this year. Odds are also that he doesn’t ascend in year two to be a starter replacing Jamal Adams. For that, we’ll probably look to next year’s draft (and a lot higher than the sixth round).

I’ll believe it when I see it that the seventh round running back also makes the roster. It sounds like he’s a good pass catcher, and also plays special teams, so crazier things have happened. But, that means you’re going into a season with three running backs having 1 or 0 years of experience, and only DeeJay Dallas (so far) as any sort of veteran (heading into his 4th season). My guess is we never see Kenny McIntosh hit the football field, and he suffers a very serious injury before the regular season. Can’t you picture the name “Kenny McIntosh” as someone we never hear from again? Remember Zac Brooks, who we took in the seventh round in 2016? Doesn’t Kenny McIntosh remind you of Zac Brooks?

While last year’s draft felt vital, and rife with quality players throughout, this year’s draft feels like depth replenishment. We boosted some positions into the elite realm (corner, wide receiver, and probably running back), while helping fill out other spots (offensive line and special teams). But, I’m not getting the sense there are any late-round gems in this draft class. Tariq Woolen has been an interesting player since the moment his name was selected. From that point on, he was a tantalizing prospect who – if he put it all together – could be a monster. And, it turns out, he put it all together extremely quickly!

But, who is getting those kinds of comparisons in this draft class? Unless one of those defensive linemen shows flashes in rookie minicamp, I don’t think there’s going to be a third-day stud in the bunch. Hopefully, in time, one (or both) of the interior offensive linemen pan out into capable starters; that might help us save a shekel or two. But, if we’re going to be wowed by this influx of players, it’s going to come from the very top.

We’ll see, though. I’m not going to say it’s going to take 3-5 years for us to figure out if this weekend was a bust. We should know in year 1 whether or not guys project to be impactful in the NFL. So, I can’t wait to hear about how they develop over the next few months!