Previewing & Predicting The 2013 Seattle Seahawks

Last year, I got to my predictions column late.  Past week 1 late.  It was kind of a sorry development, but what are you gonna do?  The season was already started by this time last year.  Anyway, I didn’t think very highly of the Seahawks heading into the 2012 season.  I didn’t think very lowly of them either, which is how you get to an 8-8 record.  Honestly, I would’ve predicted 9-7, but since I got to my post a week late – and the Seahawks crapped the bed in Arizona that first week – I downgraded to 8-8.

The Seahawks, as everyone knows, finished 11-5, going 7-1 over the second half of the season, and 1-1 in the post-season, ending up in the Divisional Round of the playoffs.  Those last 10 games were as epic of a run as you can get without actually making it to the Super Bowl.

But, enough about last year.  That was damn near a year ago, for Christ’s sake!

This year, the sky is the limit.  At worst, the Seahawks will be 11-5.  At best, I’m sorry, but at best you’ve gotta say 16-0.

Before we get into official predictions, let’s take a look at the make-up of this team:

Part 1 – Roster

How do the Seahawks differ from this time last year?  Well, for starters, our backup quarterback is new (or old, I can never tell).  Tarvar takes over for Matt Flynn, and to be honest with you, it’s probably a downgrade.  Obviously, we don’t know how good Flynn can really be (and, reports indicate that he can’t even win the fucking starting job on the RAIDERS of all teams), but I guess that’s the point.  We know what Tarvar is – he’s a near-.500 quarterback – and we don’t know what Flynn is.  Flynn could be great in small doses, Flynn could be great in large doses, or he could be terrible no matter the serving size.  If you’re a salary cap-head, then you like Tarvar because he saves you money.  So, maybe in the long run this is an upgrade?  Whatever, who cares, moving on.

At running back, Lynch and Turbin return, ostensibly in the same roles they occupied as last year.  Christine Michael replaces Leon Washington, which is an improvement at our #3 running back spot, but hurts us in the return game, as Michael is not a returner.  Derrick Coleman takes over for Michael Robinson, which is a soul-crushing blow.  But, on the flipside, he’s younger, cheaper, and under team control for longer.  Considering Robinson only played somewhere around 30% of our offensive snaps in 2012, I can’t imagine this one little move at fullback is going to make that much of a difference.  Finally, Spencer Ware is either going to be a special teams replacement for Robinson, or he’s going to spend the bulk of the season on the Inactive List on gameday.  We’ll see.

Rice, Tate, Baldwin, and Kearse are all hold-overs from last year.  Kearse, of course, spent most of 2012 on the Practice Squad, but came on late in a special teams capacity.  I wouldn’t expect a TON out of him, but then again he is going to be our starting kick returner, so buttons.  He did, after all, return that one kick in the pre-season for a touchdown.  If he turns out to be a monster in that aspect of the game, I might cream in my pants.  Harvin starts out the season on the PUP list and will hopefully return sometime in November.  Stephen Williams – the pre-season phenom – is holding his seat for the time being.  It’s hard to see this team keep five active receivers going every game (remember, you can only play 45 of your 53 guys every gameday), but then again, can you really keep this guy off the field?  I’d like to see the Seahawks throw one long bomb jump ball to him every half; I bet he comes down with half of them, and in so doing earns his weekly paycheck.

This year, we’re only keeping the two tight ends, instead of last year’s three.  The lone holdover is the uber-talented Zach Miller.  He’s our starter and our muse (our flame).  Anthony McCoy, as you’ll recall, is lost for the season on IR.  Evan Moore, thankfully, is no more.  In his place, we actually have a guy worth a damn in Luke Willson.  Even though Willson is a rookie, he looks like the real deal and the future at the position we’ve been trying so hard for so long to draft.

Our starting O-Line remains intact, which is probably the most important thing outside of quarterback you want to remain intact.  Okung, McQuistan, Unger, Sweezy, and Giacomini are the guys, with James Carpenter getting worked in (over time, to be the full-time replacement at left guard).  Lemuel Jean-Pierre returns as our backup center, Mike Person returns as our backup … something.  Michael Bowie and Alvin Bailey are a couple of rookie projects who came on strong this pre-season.  Gone is John Moffitt, traded to Denver for being not worth the time or effort.

On the D-Line, Clemons, Bryant, and Mebane all return.  Clemons avoided the PUP list, as he is a specimen of the gods and will hopefully start practicing within the next couple weeks.  Everyone else is brand new.  Avril & Bennett are our two big free agent splashes.  Both are kinda hurt, but both should be okay to play out of the gate (if not, then expect one or both to be Inactive right along with Clemons for Week 1).  Tony McDaniel is a less-heralded signing, but his impact will be just as important as he will be our starting 3-technique defensive tackle.  Jordan Hill is a rookie who survived pre-season mostly healthy.  He’ll get regular playing time in the defensive tackle rotation.  Jesse Williams, unfortunately yet predictably, landed on IR with his bum knee.  O’Brien Schofield and D’Anthony Smith are cast-offs from other teams who we know little about.  Schofield spent most of the pre-season in Seattle and was fine, I guess.  Smith came over after the cut-downs to 53 and has been injured most of his career.  Questionable move to say the least, but obviously John Schneider and Pete Carroll know something we do not.  Rounding out the group, we have Benson Mayowa, an undrafted rookie out of Idaho who led the team in sacks in the pre-season.  He looks like he’s got some real moves, but unless injuries deplete this team early, it’s hard to see him getting a lot of playing time.

At Linebacker, K.J. Wright and Bobby Wagner return, ready to kick some more ass.  Malcolm Smith also returns and figures to get some playing time at the strong-side spot.  Bruce Irvin has converted to the strong side, but of course he’s suspended for the first four games.  It’ll be interesting to see – A. whose spot he takes upon returning in week 5, and B. how he fares as a pass-rushing linebacker.  The team found room for special teams lord & savior Heath Farwell, so look for that unit to continue demolishing other teams.  Allen Bradford was around last year, but never played.  Now, he’s our backup middle linebacker and might find a way to work himself into a rotation if he keeps up the good work.  Rounding it out, we have John Lotulelei, who will probably never play unless he stands out on special teams.

In the secondary, Marcus Trufant has been replaced by Walter Thurmond, who was injured for most of his career.  Antoine Winfield was let go because our younger guys were just plain better.  Jeremy Lane and Byron Maxwell could be starters for other teams, which is what makes this unit the best in football.  At safety, Winston Guy was let go.  He was kinda flashy, and he blitzed a lot last year, but he didn’t really do a whole lot and shouldn’t be missed.  Chris Maragos is super fast, so he shouldn’t be too much of a step back if Earl Thomas can’t play.  Kam Chancellor and Jeron Johnson round out the group of safeties; Brandon Browner and Richard Sherman complete the set.

Kicker, punter, and long snapper all return.

Part 2 – Analyzing The Roster

Working our way backward, the Special Teams looks as good as it ever has.  Steven Hauschka, as I’ve mentioned before, has been a man possessed this pre-season.  Jon Ryan is Jon Ryan, putting in consistent MVP-quality work.  Clint Gresham hasn’t botched any snaps that I can recall, so bully for him.

In the secondary, you can’t help but be excited for Walter Thurmond.  He’s finally healthy and finally able to show what he can do for this team.  He’s a HUGE upgrade over an aging Marcus Trufant, and that’s important because nickel corner was one of our main areas of concern going into 2013.  To be fair, this team could play a Dime package all day every day and I wouldn’t lose sleep.  Maxwell looks like he could make the Pro Bowl THIS year if he was given a chance to start.

At linebacker, you have to believe this team also improved.  Leroy Hill is gone and they’ve done some shuffling.  K.J. Wright moves to his old spot at the weak-side, so that’s great.  You always want more speed, especially at the linebacker position.  Wagner, with a year under his belt and a chip on his shoulder to prove he doesn’t belong in Luke Kuechly’s shadow, also looked like a man possessed this pre-season.  I expect a huge jump in his play in 2013, rivalling the jump Richard Sherman made from his rookie to his second year.  On the strong side, replacing Wright, we’ve got the combo of Malcolm Smith and eventually Bruce Irvin.  It looks like the team wants the strong side ‘backer to be more of a pass-rush threat, hence the Irvin move.  I love the idea.  Any way this team can get more pressure on the QB that isn’t just sending a safety on a blitz that takes forever to materialize, I’m all for it.  The depth at this position is infinitely better than it was last year too.  Bradford could start on almost any other team, and Lotulelei looks like he could develop into a force if given the chance.

Along the D-Line, you have to have concern, I’m not gonna lie.  Can McDaniel and Hill make up for the loss of Alan Branch and Jason Jones?  When he was healthy, Jones was fairly effective.  And Branch was a starter for the past couple years.  If they can just maintain and not take a step back, I’d be happy.  Also, how long will Mebane be able to stay healthy?  He’s no spring chicken.  Depth at tackle is also a concern.  The Seahawks gave away a couple of decent depth guys in Jaye Howard and Clinton McDonald.  In their place, we have newcomer D’Anthony Smith, and Michael Bennett on passing downs.  Bennett should be solid, but I just don’t know.

On the ends of the line, it’s just as concerning.  Red Bryant returns, and he looks as healthy as ever, so that’s good.  But, he’s still a mountain of a man, and those guys don’t tend to stay healthy for very long.  Clemons we’ve talked about, but it’s still encouraging that he’ll be back soon.  Avril is a little less encouraging, as he hasn’t played at all in pre-season.  The Seahawks robbed Peter to pay Paul a little bit by moving Irvin out of the LEO end spot.  Unless Clemons and/or Avril return soon, this could be a real weakness for the team.  Remember, Greg Scruggs could play both inside and outside, and he’s gone for the year too.  Unless Schofield or Mike Morgan (who I failed to mention above in the roster section) step up in a big way, I think this team is going to be hurting for sacks.  Then again, the first two games are against Carolina and San Francisco, so we should probably worry less about sacks and more about contain.  Either way, it could be rocky for this unit early.

I’m not worried about the O-Line.  If there’s anything I’m rock solid on this year, it’s that.  Even the injury bug doesn’t concern me, because the depth looks good, and Tom Cable is a wizard.

Seeing Luke Willson perform the way he did in the pre-season makes me a LOT more comfortable about the tight end position.  Let’s see if Zach Miller has what it takes to stay on the field for the full go.  If not, then I’m probably going to spend the rest of the season hyperventilating.

I absolutely LOVE what we’ve done with the wide receivers on this team.  Braylon Edwards was never going to be a player worth having.  I’d take Stephen Williams over him any day.  Ben Obomanu was solid on special teams, but he’s worse than Jermaine Kearse.  And when Harvin returns, he’s like a million billion times better than Charly Martin.  Most improved lineup on the team by FAR.

I just kinda like what they did with the running backs.  In a perfect world, football teams would keep 54 players and Michael Robinson would still be on this one.  But, you know, you’ve gotta move on.  Hopefully Derrick Coleman is the next Michael Robinson.  If that’s the case, then we truly are the king of kings.  Also, look for Christine Michael to supplant Turbin before season’s end.  And in a couple years, when Michael is our starting back and Ware is our big tough guy backup, we’ll continue to suck the dicks of John Schneider and Pete Carroll for their foresight and vision.

Russell Wilson.  All you gotta say about the quarterback position.  Stud.  Winner.  Champion.

Part 3 – The Schedule

Week 1 – @ Carolina, 10am:  This is where it pays off having played Russell Wilson the full season last year.  He (along with some shaky late-game defense) cost us that first game in Arizona.  This year, with that in mind, count on Wilson not letting us lose in week 1.  Honestly, I don’t think this will even be close.  Maybe the offense starts out sluggish early, but I think the defense comes to play and we lean on them all game long.

Week 2 – vs. San Francisco, 5:30pm:  Home opener, Sunday Night Football on NBC, the crowd absolutely fucking INSANE … this is where the Seahawks show the 49ers what power football is all about.  Another one I don’t think is all that close.

Week 3 – vs. Jacksonville, 1pm:  Can you say 3-0?  Anyone who has the Seahawks defense in fantasy football can bank on scoring anywhere from 30-60 points, depending on how you score it in your league.  This is the reason why we all drafted them at least three rounds too early.

Week 4 – @ Houston, 10am
Week 5 – @ Indianapolis, 10am:  I’m lumping these together because I’m a coward.  The Seahawks will go 1-1 in these two games, but I just can’t figure out which they’ll win and which they’ll lose.  If you look at it objectively, Houston has a great running game and an okay passing game.  When you figure that our defense is great against the pass, but only so-so against the run, you have to look at that game and figure it’s the loss, right?  Meanwhile, Indy can’t run for shit and they pass 50 times a game.  Nevertheless, my gut is telling me we beat the Texans and lose to the Colts.  Luck is a gamer, he gets better as the game goes on, and I could see this being one of those games like we had against the Lions last season.  High scoring, little defense, and Indy pulls it out at the end with a late TD.  Meanwhile, the Seahawks win ugly in Houston, something like 14-10.

Week 6 – vs. Tennessee, 1pm:  Another easy win.  This will be the game I attend this year, because tickets were reasonably easy to get, weren’t prohibitively expensive, and honestly I don’t care if I go to any games, so what does the opponent matter?  No reason to expect Russell Wilson to play beyond the 3rd quarter in this one.

Week 7 – @ Arizona, 5pm:  Thursday night game, the bane of my existence.  But, I promise to not bitch about them as much this year (unless the games are so ugly and boring, the NFL forces my hand).  Normally, I’d be concerned, but not this year.  Carson Palmer will spend more time on his back than he will on his feet (if he’s even still healthy at this point in the year).  The Seahawks win ugly, but they win, and the defense scores another touchdown.

Week 8 – @ St. Louis, 5:30pm:  Monday Night Football!  Why does the league even schedule the Seahawks to play on the road on nationally televised games?  It’s like they’re tired of showing the rest of the world what real fans look like.  I guess St. Louis could pose a challenge, but I just don’t see it.  Look for something like 24-19, with the Rams scoring late (missing the 2-point conversion) to make it semi-close.

Week 9 – vs. Tampa Bay, 1pm:  I think Tampa looks good this year, but I think they look bad in this game.  Think of it as something like the game vs. Minnesota last year and you’ll be on the right track.  The Bucs are going somewhere, but they’re not contenders.

Week 10 – @ Atlanta, 10am:  Revenge Game!  Still, at this point the Seahawks will be 8-1 coming in.  And Atlanta (and Matt Ryan) just don’t lose at home.  I could honestly see something of a carbon copy of last year’s game, with Atlanta pulling it out at the end.

Week 11 – vs. Minnesota, 1pm:  Total destruction.  No contest.  YOU think YOU can get soup?  Please!  You’re wasting everyone’s time!

Week 12 – BYE:  finally.

Week 13 – vs. New Orleans, 5:30pm:  Monday Night Football #2!  This one is a little scary.  You can’t shut down Drew Brees forever.  Then again, he does take a lot of unnecessary risks, and his receivers really don’t scare anybody.  I think we all get a little nervous for this one, but I think the Seahawks handle them pretty easily.  33-13.

Week 14 – @ San Francisco, 1pm:  Man, what a showdown THIS game will be.  Last year, the Seahawks caught the 49ers at home late.  This year, the tables are turned.  Everyone and their grandmothers are giving this game away to the 49ers, forgetting that the Seahawks last year – in San Francisco – nearly came away victorious.  There were mistakes in the first half that I just don’t think this team makes again.  I think it’s a slug-fest, but I think the Seahawks take the season series and effectively clinch the division right here.  At this point, the 49ers won’t be mathematically eliminated, but they’ll be a couple games back and they’ll have lost the tie-breaker.  Week 14 is where the Super Bowl berth is earned, because week 14 is where the Seahawks make their statement that the #1 seed won’t be denied.

Week 15 – @ New York Giants, 10am:  Another east-coast trip, another 10am start.  Coming after the insane high that was the victory in San Francisco, I see this as a total let-down game.  The Seahawks get off to a slow start and the Giants pull too far ahead.  Russell Wilson tries to engineer a comeback, but too many turnovers seal our fate.

Week 16 – vs. Arizona, 1pm:  At this point, the Seahawks will be 11-3 going into this game.  The #1 seed won’t yet be won, but we’ll have the inside track, at least a game up and also with tie-breaker advantages.  This is a TCB type of game.  It won’t be a massive 58-0 obliteration like last year, but it’ll be comfortable.  We won’t worry for one second about losing this game.

Week 17 – vs. St. Louis, 1pm:  I’d like to say that this has a chance to be flexed, but at this point, with nothing to play for, I just don’t see it.  Russell Wilson will play for a quarter, maybe a half, but then Tarvar will come in and finish it off.  He’s no Charlie Whitehurst, but he’ll do.

Part 4 – Conclusion

13-3.  Number 1 seed in the NFC, with home field all the way to the Super Bowl.  It’s not the easiest schedule in the world, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned it’s that you don’t necessarily WANT an easy path to the Super Bowl.  The 2005 Seahawks had one of the easier paths to Super Bowl XL and look at what happened when a team finally posed a challenge.  You want a little trial by fire in this league.  If a schedule is too difficult, that means your team wasn’t good enough.  Bottom line.  Don’t fear this schedule.  A famous writer said that the strongest steel is forged by the fires of Hell.  That’s what we’ll be come playoff time, and that’s what we’ll be in the Super Bowl.

#21 – Antoine Winfield

To see the full list of the 30 most important Seahawks in 2013, click here.

So, remember all that stuff I was talking about yesterday regarding the Best Team On Paper In The NFL being the Seahawks?  Well, that doesn’t necessarily mean that we have the best players at every single position.  There are better quarterbacks than Russell Wilson.  There’s at least one better running back than Marshawn Lynch; plays in Minnesota, you might have heard of him.  There are better offensive line units, defensive line units, and so on.  But, there is no better secondary in the NFL than the one that plays its home games in CenturyLink Field.  (Obviously, the point of that statement was:  taken as a hole, the Seahawks are the best team, because they lack obvious weaknesses; but that’s neither here nor there).

The Seahawks are blessed with the best cornerback in football (Richard Sherman) and the best safety in football (Earl Thomas).  Brandon Browner & Kam Chancellor aren’t far behind, but that’s not necessarily what makes this unit as special as it is.

It’s the depth.  Not only is this secondary the best, but it’s the deepest.  We have guys who we’re going to release that are better than some other teams’ starters.  We have guys who might not do anything but play on Special Teams for us in 2013 who are better than some other teams’ starters.  And we’ve got nickel corners who are better than MOST teams’ starters.

This team didn’t miss a step when we lost Browner for four games last year.  If the Seahawks absolutely HAD to suffer a serious injury or two, then I’d probably be the most comfortable losing a cornerback than any other position on this team; I’m that confident in this group as a whole.

Antoine Winfield is yet another ex-Viking we have poached.  I can’t say that our track record is all that amazing (Burleson, Tarvar, Rice, Harvin, and now Winfield) and truth be told I think Winfield might be the most productive of the bunch.

This team has done quite a bit in this offseason to address some real weaknesses.  The defensive line got the bulk of the recognition in this regard, but I would argue the Winfield signing is of utmost importance.  What he’s able to do in that nickel corner spot is something I don’t think we’ve ever had in the city of Seattle.  He can clamp down on a slot receiver – which, in this day & age, is quickly becoming a valuable source of production on offense – and he can muck it up with the big boys while stuffing the run.  In short, he’s a specialist of sorts who can play up on the line of scrimmage.  Not only that, but he’s a veteran in a group full of relative infants, so he’s sure to have some tricks of the trade to spread around to our all stars in the group.

He’s not the sexiest newcomer we brought in this year, but he might be the most quietly effective.  He’s a real difference-maker in a secondary full of difference-makers.  And he should single-handedly improve our third down defense in ways we never imagined possible.

#23 – Walter Thurmond

To see the full list of the 30 most important Seahawks in 2013, click here.

The Seahawks were pretty good on defense last year, so I don’t want to sit here and rip them too much.  But, as with anything in life, they could stand to be better in certain areas.  Pass rush is probably at the top of that list, with their nickel defense a distant second.

Bottom line:  the Seahawks need to get stops.  It’s funny, because you don’t want to be known as the defense that gives up a bunch of big plays to opposing offenses.  You do that, and your record is going to reflect poorly upon you.  But, there’s something to be said for not being that “Bend/Don’t Break” defense, which the Seahawks seemingly were at times last season.  Truth be told, I don’t know what’s more demoralizing:  giving up a 2-play, 70-yard touchdown drive; or holding an opposing team on first and second down, only to give up a third & long conversion to keep a drive alive.  Too many times last year, it seemed like we only forced a punt because of an offensive mistake rather than something great that we were able to do.  It would be nice to lead the league – or at least be AMONG the leaders – in Three & Outs.

And, as I alluded to above, pass rush would be a big part of that.  But, also, simple great coverage on opposing teams’ slot receivers & tight ends would do the trick too.  That’s where Walter Thurmond comes in.

People tell me he’s one of the best pure cover-corners on this team.  They tell me he’s got the wingspan of a much taller man.  He’s got some of the best recovery speed on the team.  And, truth be told, if he had been able to stay healthy, he would probably be one of this team’s starting cornerbacks.

He’s good.  He’s damned good.  He’s another one of those guys you can’t necessarily count on – and you’ll be kicking yourself if you keep him over someone else and he promptly goes out and gets himself an ouchie in the first week of the season – but he’s a guy that can dramatically help this defense in its quest to go from “pretty good” to Elite with a capital E.

It appears he’s at a disadvantage to start, as Antoine Winfield is the “starting” nickel cornerback, but I think it’s only a matter of time before he supplants the aging wonder (last Thursday’s sub-par pre-season game notwithstanding).  Either way, it’s plain to see we’re looking at the greatest secondary in the NFL, and a big piece of that has to do with our depth.  If this team continues to struggle to get to the quarterback, we’re going to have to rely on this secondary even more this year.  And that means we’re going to be asking for perfection from not only guys like Sherman & Browner, but guys like Winfield & Thurmond.  It’s a testament to how good these guys are that I don’t think perfection is out of the question.

The 30 Most Important Seahawks In 2013

You might remember this very same series from last year.  You might remember that it was kind of a mess when all was said and done because it’s impossible to predict what the Seahawks are going to do at any given time.

Anyway, the list is pretty self-explanatory:  these are the 30 Seahawks ranked in order of importance.  We need THESE players to do well if we want the team to do well.  Likewise, we can’t LOSE these players for any extended period of time, or it’s going to cut into our overall chances for success (“success” = Super Bowl Or Bust).

Like last year, I’m going to try to do a post a day throughout the Pre-Season – explaining my reasoning behind where I ranked each player – leading up to the September 8th first game against Carolina.  I may have to adjust on the fly, depending on the circumstances, but for now here is the list as I see it:

  1. Russell Wilson
  2. Golden Tate
  3. Earl Thomas
  4. Richard Sherman
  5. Russell Okung
  6. Zach Miller
  7. Michael Bennett
  8. Marshawn Lynch
  9. Percy Harvin Sidney Rice
  10. Cliff Avril
  11. Max Unger
  12. Brandon Browner
  13. Red Bryant
  14. Breno Giacomini
  15. Bruce Irvin
  16. Sidney Rice Doug Baldwin
  17. Bobby Wagner
  18. Kam Chancellor
  19. Brandon Mebane
  20. K.J. Wright
  21. Antoine Winfield**Released/Retired?**
  22. James Carpenter
  23. Walter Thurmond
  24. Chris Clemons
  25. Doug Baldwin Percy Harvin
  26. Paul McQuistan
  27. Tony McDaniel
  28. J.R. Sweezy
  29. Luke Willson
  30. John Moffitt — **Traded**

Also Considered:

  • “Backup Quarterback”.  I’m usually pretty big on the importance of a backup quarterback, but with the dregs we’ve got this year, I’m just going to close my eyes and pray Russell Wilson takes every snap (that isn’t in a game where we are blowing the other team out).  Tarvaris Jackson looks to be the guy in this role.  I’m willing to grudgingly agree that he’s the man for the job when compared to Brady Quinn, and I suppose the Seahawks COULD be okay if he had to start a game or two.  But, even then, it really depends on the opponent.  Tarvar isn’t going to step into this lineup and beat the 49ers in Week 2.  But, he could probably handle himself against the Jags or Titans (please not the Titans, I’m actually going to be attending that game and want to see a GOOD quarterback).
  • Michael Robinson.  I always like a good fullback, but the fact of the matter is, this team just doesn’t utilize the fullback like many other teams.  Robinson does, however, hold a lot of importance in Special Teams, and he’s an overall likeable dude, so I hope he makes the team.
  • Jermaine Kearse.  By all early accounts, Kearse has taken a huge step up.  Which is important if he hopes to make the team, considering they just drafted Chris Harper in the 4th round.  Kearse is also a quality Special Teamer, so that’s another notch in the belt.  I wouldn’t burn too many brain cells on any of the wide receivers after the top 6, because they won’t be around for too much longer.
  • Jordan Hill & Jesse Williams.  Two rookie interior linemen looking to make a big impression on this team.  Odds are, they will survive, but that doesn’t mean they will remain healthy or stick in the rotation.  I’m casting a wary glance at these two until I hear otherwise.  Still, if we hit on these two, it could be very big for our future.
  • Malcolm Smith.  He’s looking to take over the Leroy Hill spot among our linebackers, but that doesn’t really tell the whole story.  From what I’m reading, Smith might just be a part-timer, especially considering the team is looking to move Bruce Irvin to his linebacking position as well.  Irvin will be more of a pass-rusher in a Nickel package while Smith will be more of a coverage guy in the base defense.  Considering this defense did pretty well with a slowed-by-age Leroy Hill last season, I think we’ll manage if we don’t have Malcolm Smith’s best.
  • Special Teams.  I’m just going to lump Kicker, Punter, and Long-Snapper in this category and call this post a day.  All are important in the sense that if you have a bad kicker, punter, or long-snapper, bad things (like losses) can happen.  But, really, who gives a shit?  You can only expend so many words on these guys before you drive yourself crazy.

**Updated 8/19/13** – Well, we have our first casualty to my increasingly irrelevant list.  John Moffitt, we hardly … no, wait, we knew ye.  We knew more than we ever needed to know about ye …

**Updated 9/2/13** – And down goes Antoine Winfield.  I guess that means you can move Walter Thurmond up a couple spots on my list and throw Byron Maxwell into the #23 slot.  Maxwell looks like the real motherfucking deal and ultimately this move – along with cutting Michael Robinson – saves us plenty of cash that we can carry over to the 2014 cap.

Things That Interest & Don’t Interest Me About The Seahawks’ OTAs

That title is awkward, but this is Don’t Give A Care Friday and it’s time to be moving on.

You can’t always focus on the negatives without at least acknowledging some of the positives.  Like, for instance, Red Bryant is fully healthy for the first time in a year.  He had plantar fasciitis last year that REALLY cut into his being productive.  Yes, he played in all the games, but more often than not he was just taking up space as opposed to wreaking havoc like he was in 2011.  I’m also told that with the hire of Dan Quinn as D-Coordinator, they’re going to shift Red back to a role that’ll have him in the backfield more, disrupting running plays and all-around getting in the quarterback’s face.  It’s all very technical, and I don’t want to go back and research the specifics, but he’ll be lined up in a different gap than he was in 2012 and therefore – with his newfound foot health – he should kick more ass.  I’m amazing with words, I know.

Also healthy:  James Pancakes Carpenter.  The team is giving this 2011 first round pick every opportunity to win that Left Guard spot and, at least in the early going, it looks like he deserves it.

It would be SO HUGE for our running game if we can keep this guy healthy for a full season.  I mean, if he lives up to his potential, he could be the best run-blocking guard in football!  He’ll be pancaking his way through the NFL like it was an I-Hop all-you-can-eat buffet!  And, not for nothing, but if he can lock down the left guard position, that makes it a 3-man contest for right guard with Sweezy, Moffitt, and McQuistan.  I think each one of those guys has their flaws, but you gotta like our odds if we’re forced to only play ONE of the three as opposed to two of the three.

On the flipside of the ball, we’ve got Walter Thurmond back and better than ever.  They are absolutely RAVING about this guy in the early going of the off-season; some are even saying that he’ll take snaps away from newly-signed nickel corner, Antoine Winfield.  Others are saying that Thurmond could even push Browner for a starting cornerback spot!  Now, I don’t necessarily think that’ll happen, and I think this team would be wise to ease him back into the gameplan when the shit starts getting real – it would be terrible to count on him to play starter’s minutes, then have to lose him for the season in his first or second game.  But, if he IS back, and he CAN stay healthy, then this just boosts our secondary depth tenfold.  Essentially, we will have four quality, starting-calibre cornerbacks on this team to go with two Pro Bowl/All Pro-calibre safeties.  Are you KIDDING me?  Eight years ago, I would have killed for just ONE Pro Bowl/All Pro-calibre member of our secondary!

Thurmond could be a difference-maker.  If he becomes what I think he can become, he could turn into a replacement for Browner when he eventually signs with another team because we can’t afford to pay him the kind of money he’ll be looking for.

The biggest question mark – and area of need – on this team is the pass rush.  Which is why it would be nice for Chris Clemons to make a miraculous comeback from his ACL surgery.  Well, this week, there’s been talk about Clemons being ahead of schedule.  There’s been talk of him possibly being ready to go in Week 1.  Granted, this is what they were saying about Pancakes last season, and look at what eventually happened.  Still, it’s better to hear this than to hear about how he’s behind schedule, or that he’s had a setback, or that doctors are confused as to what’s still wrong.

I refuse to go into this season with the expectation that we’re going to get significant production out of Clemons.  My own personal best-case-scenario bar is set mighty low.  I’d like for him to continue rehabbing while on the PUP list, then I’d like for him to be reintroduced to the game slowly; maybe sit on the Inactive List for a couple of games while he practices with the team.  Then, maybe around week 9 or 10, we get him into some games, playing about 20% of the snaps he played last year.  Finally, over the last six games of the year, we build him back up to being a full-time starter for this team, just as it’s hitting its stride and entering the playoffs as the #1 seed in the NFC.  If I were God, this is how I’d wield my magical powers.  In the Super Bowl, Clemons will come around the edge and blind-side Peyton Manning for the game-clinching fumble with less than two minutes to go in the game.

Finally, this doesn’t have to do with a guy recovering from injury, per se, but it’s injury-related-adjacent.  With Anthony McCoy going down, there’s been grumbling by myself (and maybe others) about our tight end situation.  As Barney from The Simpsons said (in English):

I’m worried about the beer supply.  After this case, and the other case, there’s only one case left!

On the one hand, yeah, we’ve still got a high-quality tight end starting for us in Zach Miller.  But, on the other hand, we’ve got nothing but unproven rookies and near-rookies to carry the load in the event that Miller goes down with a significant injury.

Everyone is tapping the speedy Luke Willson – this year’s tall, athletic rookie project – to supplant McCoy as the backup.  Well, not so fast.  While I’m sure he’ll find a way onto this team, I’m reading about one:  Sean McGrath.  He could be JUST the guy we’re looking for.  Big and bruising, a blocking tight end with the potential and soft hands to make an impact in the red zone.  Keep this guy on your radar.  He looked solid last year in the pre season and he should only get better from there after a year in the league.

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Now, for the things people are talking about where I DON’T give two shits.

Like, for instance, Marshawn Lynch “not being there”.  First of all, WHY do we need him there?  He’s our starting running back!  This has been established!  No running back on this team right now is better than Lynch.  Hell, aside from Adrian Peterson, no running back in the NFL is better than Lynch right now!

He’s not being lazy, he’s working out on his own.  These are VOLUNTARY practices that he’s missing.  This isn’t some hold-out for more money or some message he’s trying to send to the team.  Would we like to have him there?  Sure, fine, whatever.  But, do we NEED him there?  Of course not!  In fact, if you want my opinion, I’d rather he NOT be there.

Think about it, every voluntary practice is another opportunity for the guy to injure himself.  Why is that of my concern?  Because I’m a worrier.  And because his back issues aren’t going away any time soon.  He’s missed a game here and there because of his back, and it would be nice to know that one of these young rushers can pick up the slack.

How are we going to find out if they can handle it unless they get a lot of reps in these practices Lynch is skipping?

Also, not for nothing, but remember how we all lionize Walter Jones for all those pre-seasons where he skipped camp because we Franchise Tagged him?  Remember all those stories about how he was pulling cars to get in shape for pushing around defensive linemen?  Remember how we like all those stories?  Especially when he came back to the team a week before the first game and it was like he was never gone?

How about we stop fussing over who’s not there and trust that he’s going to be just fine when we get to the regular season, mmmkay?

I also don’t give a fuck about all the stories coming out about this team being “out of control”.  Guys getting arrested, guys being suspended, adderall adderall adderall!

Now, I’ll be the first to admit that back in the day, I used to bash the shit out of the Bengals for all their legal transgressions as an organization out of control.  So, you can either call me a homer (which is your right), or you can say that I’ve grown more wise in the years since.  After all, you don’t really understand something until it happens to you.

In this case, you don’t really understand that – hey, a team can’t control every single person on a football team at all hours of all days.  At this point in the off-season, there are a whopping 90 guys on the team!  I’m sure the coaching staff and the organization as a whole is doing everything it can to stem the tide of bad-boy behavior.  But, sometimes, players are going to do selfish things.  That’s the risk you take.  Don’t like it?  Hire Tim Ruskell and let him build through character over talent.

Of course, my apathy for these topics of discussion doesn’t make the John Moffitt public urination thing any less funny.  It’s just like an episode of Seinfeld!

Projecting The 2013 Seattle Seahawks’ 53-Man Roster

Some guys dig on mock-drafts and look to pump them out on a monthly basis whether there’s any new information or not … and some of us like to do mock-rosters because it’s the baseball season and there’s nothing else to write about.

More or less, this is your average NFL 53-man roster:

9 Offensive Linemen
6 Wide Receivers
3 Tight Ends
2 Quarterbacks
4 Running Backs

9 Defensive linemen
7 Linebackers
10 Corners & Safeties

1 Punter
1 Kicker
1 Long Snapper

24 offense, 26 defense, 3 special teams.  You substitute a player here and there depending on special teams coverage needs, but that’s ultimately what you end up with.

So, with this template in mind, why not look at the Seadderall Seahawks and see where things plug in?

Offensive Line

Right now, we’ve got three starters locked in:  our tackles and our center, Okung, Giacomini, and Unger.  For the guards, take your pick of two among the following four:  McQuistan, Carpenter, Sweezy, Moffitt.  All seven of those players are pretty much locks to make the team, which leaves two more offensive line spots.

McQuistan can also play tackle, so that gives you some flexibility.  Jeanpierre, I believe, has some experience as a center, so he might be good to go as one of those final linemen.  I don’t know enough about the linemen to make a very educated guess on the last guy, so let’s just say Mike Person is someone and leave it at that.  Stick the rookies on the practice squad and call it a day.

Quarterbacks

This is Russell Wilson and Brady Quinn.  Almost certainly.  Portis just got shit-canned for being an idiot, which leaves Jerrod Johnson who has never played a down of NFL football.  I’m going to go out on a huge limb and say Brady Quinn’s job is secure, with no chance of this team keeping a third QB.  Johnson would have to blow everyone away in Training Camp to make the leap, and I’m just not buying it.

Tight Ends

Unless injury strikes, this one’s pretty easy too.  You’ve got your starter, Zach Miller.  You’ve got your blocking tight end/backup, Anthony McCoy.  And you’ve got your pass-catching tight end/backup, Luke Willson.  There, there’s your first rookie to make the team.  Coaches seem high on him, even though he did next-to-nothing in college.

Running Backs

Here’s where I’m going to deviate from the norm just a bit.  I think this team keeps five running backs.  Lynch, Turbin and Michael are all locks (there’s rookie #2).  I don’t think this team can afford to give up Michael Robinson, who is not only the starting fullback but also a standout on special teams.  And, I think the team hangs onto Ware (rookie #3) and grooms him to be a fullback replacement for next year.  For the record, I think Ware and possibly Michael regularly ride the pine on gamedays as inactives.

Wide Receivers

To make up some room for our extra running back, I think this team keeps only five receivers (Rice, Tate, Harvin, Baldwin, & Harper).  That decision is made easier depending on how well guys like Baldwin and rookie Chris Harper (rookie #4) take to special teams.  Jermaine Kearse will be a tough guy to leave off, but I just don’t see how this team can afford a sixth receiver with all the talent we’ve got on defense.

Defensive Line

With Scruggs on IR, Irvin suspended for four games, and Clemons on the PUP list, the defensive line became a whole lot easier to figure out.  You’ve got your starting ends:  Bryant and Avril.  You’ve got Mebane and whoever starts opposite of him at the other tackle position.  Bennett is another lock to make this team as a guy you can slide either inside or outside, so that brings us to four.  I think both rookies Hill and Williams make the team and fight for starting minutes (rookies #5 & #6).  I think free agent McDaniel cracks the squad along with veteran McDonald (played a lot last year in backing up Mebane) and young guy Jaye Howard.  That gives us 9.

Of course, you have to anticipate Irvin and Clemons returning, so some tough decisions will be waiting after the first month of the season.  By that point, you gotta figure there will be an injured guy or two who can slide right onto the IR without being missed.  We’ll see.

Linebacker

Wagner & Wright are your locks.  Malcolm Smith is looking strong to be the third starter.  Instead of the traditional seven, I think this team has to scrimp here and only keep six.  Undrafted free agent Lotulelei (rookie #7) looks like a strong bet to make the team.  Special teams standout Heath Farwell should be a keeper for all he does in that realm.  And, if I had to guess, I’d say the last guy on the team will be Mike Morgan.  The Seahawks have already waived Korey Toomer once before; I can see them doing it again.  Allen Bradford doesn’t strike me as a guy you just HAVE to have (and, let’s face it, good teams tend to drop good players when they make their final cuts).

Safety

Earl and Kam are your guys here.  Since this team only has five safeties on its roster, and since I’ve only heard of four of these guys, I think it’s pretty obvious who the backups will be.  Winston Guy got some valuable experience last year and is as much of a lock as can be.  Jeron Johnson is the other, and he’s proven to be a solid contributor as well.

Cornerbacks

Sherman & Browner are your guys here.  Consider Winfield to be a lock as your nickel corner.  I like Jeremy Lane, Walter Thurmond (if he can stay healthy) and rookie Tharold Simon (rookie #8) to be solid backups.  That already brings us to six, but for the life of me, I can’t see this team throwing Byron Maxwell away.  He’s been on the team for too long and you know if he goes somewhere else he’ll be competing for starting minutes.  I think the team finds a roster spot for Maxwell and keeps a total of 7 corners.

The Rest

That brings us to 50, with Hauschka, Ryan, and long snapper Clint Gresham as your final guys.

I’m sure as I continue following the goings on in this pre-season portion of the season, this roster will change quite a bit.  But for now, this is my opening statement on what the roster will be.  Let’s see how much it resembles the ACTUAL 53-man roster come opening day.

I will say, as one caveat, that I haven’t accounted for injuries (except for the ones that already happened).  I’m sure a major reason why my roster now will differ from the real 53-man roster in September will have most-everything to do with injuries, and how that trickles down when considering need vs. want at all the positions.

Still: Kam Chancellor Is A Seattle Seahawk

There are levels of fanfare with any given sports team transaction.  At the top of the list is signing a superstar, best-at-his-position free agent right at the beginning of his prime.  That’s, you know, if you’re a good team or on the cusp of being a good team already.  Otherwise, you’ll take just a half a notch below that level, which is:  having the #1 pick and drafting the next Peyton Manning.

New players are usually going to trump existing players on the excitement factor.  When people think about the most recent Mariners off-season, they think of Mike Morse, Kendrys Morales, Raul Ibanez, and Jason Bay.  They also think about the ones that got away like Justin Upton, Josh Hamilton, Michael Bourn, Mike Napoli and the like.  Then, after being reminded about it, they remember that one Felix Hernandez was re-signed to a long extension.  He’s the best player on the team!  And his extension is almost an afterthought!

Now, recall that Iwakuma was also signed to an extension.  Mind. Blown.

When you’re a fan of a good team, or just a regular team with good players, you tend to want to lock up your guys.  The guys who make the team good; especially if they’re draft picks.  You’re invested!  You’re invested because Seattle is all they’ve ever known, because you’ve been watching them for a few years, and because you like to rub it in the faces of everyone else.  Oh yeah, WE drafted this Pro Bowler in the 5th round, because we’re smarter than you!  And by the way, YOU can’t have him!

It’s a little more satisfying when you’re talking about Felix Hernandez, and you’re thumbing your nose at the New York Yankees, but there’s not really a New York Yankees equivalent in the NFL.  Nevertheless, these are the good times.  This is a good thing that happened, and it often goes overlooked when taken in the big picture.

When people think about this offseason for the Seahawks, they’re going to think of Percy Harvin, our defensive line free agents, Antoine Winfield, trading away Matt Flynn, and maybe at the end of it all they’ll remember, “That’s right, we also re-signed Kam to a 4-year extension!”

Even though, arguably, this is the most important deal of them all.  Most people would point to Percy Harvin, but I’m not so sure.  Yeah, Harvin’s deal was more costly.  It got more press.  But, in the long run, there’s a lot to like about the Kam deal.

It’s vital to take care of your guys.  We’ve got a SHITLOAD of guys on this team to extend in the next few years.  Locking down Kam at a reasonable rate now not only sets a nice precedent (guys seeing other guys being taken care of, they’re more apt to expect a similar conclusion), but it sets a reasonable rate.  We didn’t just sell the farm to extend Kam; we brought him back for $17 million guaranteed, spread out over the next five years.  Which, I’m sure if worse came to worse, we could restructure in three.

It just feels … right.  Don’t you feel a little more at ease than you did at this time yesterday?  Getting guys extended before they hit the open market is one of my favorite things in sports.  Right up there with building your football team through the offensive and defensive lines.  I’m so satisfied right now, I think I could use a cigarette!

Seahawks Bring In Antoine Winfield

Antoine Winfield has played in the NFL for 14 seasons.  He will be 36 years old by the time the Seahawks play their first regular season game this year.  He signed for a 1-year, $3 million deal.  If he’s not on the week 1 roster, he only receives $1 million.  This is what you call a low-risk move.

It also has the potential to be a very high-reward move.  For starters, he’s not a starter.  Or, rather, he’s not slated to be a starter.  If all things go according to plan, Antoine Winfield will be our #3 cornerback.  He will fill the Marcus Trufant role on this team from last year.  By all accounts, Winfield was very good in this role.  In fact, in some circles, Winfield was rated as the #1 cornerback in football last year.  Of course, a lot of that had to do with his ability to tackle and stop the run – he had 100 tackles last year, as a CORNER – but I say all the better.  We’ve already got the best cover-corner in the NFL in Richard Sherman.  We’ve also got a Top 20 guy in Brandon Browner.  We don’t necessarily NEED Winfield to be the best cover guy.  But, we will need someone to help out against the run, especially when we play teams like San Francisco, Minnesota, Houston, and the Giants.

Now, obviously, everything doesn’t always go according to plan.  Last season, for instance, we lost Browner for four games due to suspension.  No one saw that coming!  And you NEVER see injuries coming (just ask Kobe)!  So, it would be nice to know that while we don’t need Winfield to be a starting, every-down corner, he COULD be a starting, every-down corner if the unthinkable happens.

Of course, all of this will shake out in Training Camp.  Who knows, maybe Winfield won’t even make the team!  I doubt that, but I’ve been surprised before.  Consider him another cog in the Seahawks Super Bowl machine.  We’ve got some of the best starters in the league (especially at quarterback), we’ve got some of the best depth in the league (except at quarterback), and we’re still ten days away from the 2013 NFL Draft.

This year is going to be fun.