Seahawks Death Week: Guys To Keep Around & Holes To Fill

Yesterday, I talked about the guys who need to go; today I’ll get into the guys who should stay!

In that post, you’ll find my thoughts on Carlos Dunlap and Duane Brown. My thoughts on them haven’t really changed; long story short: I think the Seahawks need to keep them, but will probably have to restructure their contracts by extending them to make the money work.

The good news is, assuming both are back, there really aren’t THAT many glaring holes on this roster. Which is awesome, because in addition to how strapped we are from a salary cap standpoint (as, again, I discussed in yesterday’s post), we also currently have only four draft picks in the 2021 NFL Draft:

  • Second Round
  • Fourth Round
  • Fifth Round
  • Seventh Round

There apparently might be a chance we get another seventh rounder back, but I’m not holding my breath. Obviously, the first and third round picks belong to the Jets from the Jamal Adams trade, so let’s start there.

Jamal Adams currently counts nearly $10 million against our 2021 salary cap. That’s actually good news! He is, of course, going to demand a contract extension that makes him one of the (if not THE) highest paid safeties in the NFL. As a player with his unique skillset (read: 9.5 sacks in 2020; 21.5 sacks in his 4-year career to date), he deserves to be paid as such. He was the best, most impactful player on our defense last season, and we gave up a bundle to acquire him; we NEED him here and happy. Thankfully, as I’ve mentioned repeatedly, the first year of a new deal is always relatively cheap. So, if we tear up his 2021 portion, sign him to a 5-year contract and spread his bonus over the life of it (with fully guaranteed years in 2022 and 2023), that should make the money work and still allow us to have room to maneuver. We could also leave his 2021 as is, and just add onto it with an extension, which would have a similar effect (not saving us as much now, but also not making it so onerous in the future). It’ll be interesting to see where we go with him.

Benson Mayowa only counted a little over $3 million against us in 2020; I’d love to see him back at around that same number. When he was healthy – and not tasked to be this team’s every-down defensive end – he was extremely productive! I know we have a number of young guys along our defensive line, but it’s always a rotation of guys, and Mayowa plays a unique role that’s well-suited to him and our scheme.

Carlos Hyde earned a little under $3 million. If we let Carson walk, we’re going to need to pair SOMEONE with Rashaad Penny. Hyde was good-not-great. I would argue we could bring him back for the same or even less money; odds are he’d return in this scenario given the amount of playing time he could be looking at.

Given the news that Bruce Irvin just had to have a second surgery for his knee injury, you’d be shocked to see him on this list! But, he earned less than $5 million in 2020, and obviously he would be on the hook for significantly less money in 2021. I would bring him back on a minimum deal, with his salary tied to games played, and hope he can return by mid-season to give the defense a boost. What harm could it do? If he makes it back to form, that’s a fine addition to our linebacker/pass rush units.

Similarly, I think the Seahawks should re-sign Josh Gordon, hope he somehow gets his shit together (read: stops doing drugs, allegedly), and is allowed by the league to play again. He would also sign for the minimum, with his contract tied to games played, and would be a HUGE boost to our offense if things break right.

Cedric Ogbuehi earned a little over $2 million as a backup right tackle for us. He had a rough go when he first filled in for Brandon Shell, but improved as the weeks went on (including a nice game against the fearsome pass rush of the Washington Football Team). You can’t have enough quality backup linemen on a team (especially if my prediction for a Duane Brown injury comes true); so I’d bring Ogbuehi back on a similar deal.

***

If this more-or-less comes to pass (along with the outgoing guys I outlined yesterday), as I said up top, there aren’t a lot of holes to fill. Mike Iupati was already mostly replaced by Jordan Simmons in 2020, so we could just give Simmons the starting job out of Training Camp in 2021. We have other young linemen to fill in our depth. It’s just a matter of filling the center job (which, if I’m being honest, will probably be Ethan Pocic on a cheap extension).

I do think one of the draft picks will probably have to go to a running back, if the right guy falls to us. I’m not sure if Penny will ever return to form, and I’m not even sure if he’s the guy for our offensive scheme. At some point, he’s a sunk cost and we’ll have to move on; that being said, I don’t think Travis Homer or DeeJay Dallas are the answer either. That’s a BIG hole to fill, especially if we let Hyde walk.

I think we can get by with cheap receivers and tight ends behind the guys I’ve already talked about. And, sure, bring back Geno Smith to be our second string quarterback if you must.

Defensively, we’re pretty strong at all levels. The young linemen should only improve as we head into next season. We have plenty of linebacker depth. And, we still have three decent-to-good cornerbacks and three good-to-great safeties. It’s all depth from there.

So, again, I think running back will be our biggest hole, but I also think that’s the hole easiest to fill. I’m sure – as a team that prefers to draft 8-11 times per year – we’ll look to trade down and accumulate more picks in the later rounds. If we can come away with a running back, a center, a strong-side linebacker, and maybe another offensive tackle project (a Left Tackle Of The Future, if one exists), I’ll be thrilled. We won’t have the money to make any big outside free agent splashes, so hitting on these guys in the draft will be VITAL.

The Seahawks Beat The 49ers, Stayed In The Three-Seed

I’m the kind of guy who’s more than happy to celebrate a divisional victory and a home game in the first round of the playoffs. But, there’s a part of me that can’t help but harp on the fact that had the Seahawks simply beaten the shithole Giants, we’d be 13-3 right now, with the top seed in the NFC and a BYE next week. The more I think about it, the more my blood boils; hence why I try to NOT think about it.

Of course, it seems counterintuitive because as a football fan and a Seahawks fan specifically, you’d think I’d be HAPPY that there are potentially more Seahawks games to watch. But, I’m me, and all I can focus on is the fact that there are potentially more opportunities for the Seahawks to lose.

If you assumed it’s a waking nightmare to live in my head, congratulations! Your suspicions are CON-FIRMED!

Yesterday’s game was enjoyable enough, I guess. But, at no point was I ever seriously tempted by the other two games going on concurrently. The Panthers tied the Saints in the first quarter at 7-7, but New Orleans would go on to win 33-7. The Bears were actually leading the Packers 10-7 partway through the second quarter; but the Packers went up by 8 at halftime and ultimately won 35-16. Indeed, had the Seahawks’ game not been going as quickly as it was, they might’ve realized much earlier that it was meaningless and started pulling some starters early.

This game was a snooze through the first half, with both teams trading field goals and punts. There was more of the same in the third quarter, as the 49ers took a 9-6 lead into the final frame. Then, once they mounted an 11-play touchdown drive to go up 16-6, this game officially became infuriating. Russell Wilson and the offense couldn’t do a damn thing! The running game was getting stuffed left and right, the pass rush bottled Wilson up pretty good, and apparently the coverage in the secondary was off the charts, as we had to throw the ball away countless times.

But, if you hung in there that long, you were rewarded by the Seahawks taking over in the fourth quarter with three unanswered touchdown drives to go up 26-16. The 49ers had a meaningless back-door cover to make it 26-23, but otherwise it was a fine Seahawks victory to wrap up a relatively successful 12-4 regular season. We’ve had two seasons at 13-3 (both years where we went to the Super Bowl), and two other seasons were we finished with 12 wins, making this one of the five most successful regular seasons in franchise history. Not too bad!

Russell Wilson finished with a mediocre 181 yards and 2 touchdowns, but again he had zero turnovers, and helped limit the 49ers to just 2 sacks. The running game ultimately got it going in the fourth quarter; as a team we finished with 121 yards on 27 carries, with an Alex Collins touchdown late. Tyler Lockett had a monster game with 12 catches for 90 yards and 2 touchdowns.

We saw history in this one! Tyler Lockett became the first Seahawks receiver EVER to catch 100 passes in a season! The previous high in receptions was 94 (by Bobby Engram in 2007 and Doug Baldwin in 2016). He finished with exactly 100 for 1,054 yards and 10 TDs. This was the second time Lockett has gone over 1,000 yards, with his 1,057 last year. The other bit of history was D.K. Metcalf breaking Steve Largent’s single-season receiving yards record! Largent had 1,287 in 1985; Metcalf ended 2020 with 1,303 (on 83 receptions, with 10 TDs of his own). This is hands down the best season by a receiving duo in Seahawks history, which is pretty impressive.

Once again, the defense showed up in a big way in this game. The only reason why the 49ers had as much success in the second half of this one is simply because the Seahawks’ offense couldn’t do ANYTHING. We had three sacks, including 2 by Benson Mayowa, to give him 6 on the year. Last year, Rasheem Green led the Seahawks with 4 sacks; this year we had FIVE guys either match or surpass that number! As a team, we finished with 46 sacks on the season, which was good for seventh in the league; if you had the Seahawks anywhere near the top twenty at the beginning of the season, you are a liar!

Of course, we did give up the 11th-most total yards, and the 2nd-most passing yards in all of football; the late-season turnaround wasn’t enough to make up for that abysmal first half.

Anyway, we didn’t get out of this game unscathed. Jamal Adams hurt his shoulder. Apparently it’s NOT the shoulder he hurt earlier this season, which means he now has two bum shoulders. I don’t know what the outlook is for him playing this upcoming Saturday, but I guess we’ll find out later today.

We’re set to host the Rams in the afternoon, which isn’t ideal, but is pretty much in line with what I was expecting. I’m sure I’ll have more later in the week, but for now we close the book on the regular season and get to the part that REALLY matters!

Breaking my heart in the most wrenching fashion possible.

Looking At Some Of The Impactful 2020 Seahawks Additions

Football teams have a number of players who carry over from year to year – you always try to do whatever you can to keep your very best players at your most important positions – but for the most part teams are constantly evolving. You need an influx of fresh blood every season if your goal is to improve; rare is the team that just tries to hold onto the players they’ve already got (even then, that only lasts about a year or so before the salary cap constraints force you to start the inevitable churn). So much of a team’s success depends on the quality of those incoming players (and the relative health of your best guys), that it can be easy to overlook their accomplishments.

The 2019 Seahawks were a pleasant surprise that made the playoffs, but they were never really serious contenders for the Super Bowl. The 2020 Seahawks have been a pleasant surprise that has already locked up the NFC West; it’s debatable if this team can contend for a Super Bowl, but it’s inarguable that these Seahawks are better than the ones from a season ago. So, let’s take a look at – and try to rank in order of their impact – the new guys who have pushed us a little further over the hump.

In honor of the 12’s, let’s talk about the Top 12 most impactful newcomers. As you’ll see, they’re not all technically new to the team, but I’m also including guys who were holdovers who hardly played at all before this year. Before we get to the Top 12, here are a few honorable mentions:

Snacks Harrison was a guy a lot of people talked about in the run-up to the season, as a potential free agent signee. But, run defense has never really been our problem, and that’s what he does best as a run-stuffing defensive tackle. Yet, we got him back into shape midseason, and he played quite well in Bryan Mone’s absence. With Mone back, Snacks sadly asked for his release; it’s a shame there wasn’t room for him in the rotaton. Freddie Swain is a rookie 6th round wide receiver I had ZERO expectations for, but he’s had a quietly nice season (13 catches, 159 yards, and 2 TDs). As a fourth receiver new to the NFL, I’ll take it. Greg Olsen is an overpaid veteran tight end who has nevertheless been a contributor. He’s still not worth the money it cost to get him here, and he did miss a few games with a foot injury, but he worked his way back for the playoff run, and has had some nice catches on third downs to keep the chains moving (24 for 239 on the season, with 1 TD). Finally, Ugo Amadi just misses the cut. He was a rookie last year, but he wasn’t trusted with much playing time on defense. He’s stepped into a nickel cornerback role we all figured he’d be well-suited for, and he’s been great! With two more years of team control on his rookie deal, Amadi is looking like a real find for us.

12 – Ryan Neal

If I wanted to pull a cop-out move, I would’ve had Amadi and Neal tied for 12th, but then that would’ve made this a Top 13 list, and that’s just … unlucky! I put Neal just inches higher than Amadi because he REALLY came from out of nowhere to help this team out when we were in a real jam! Allegedly, Neal was on the Seahawks in 2019, but I couldn’t tell you a single thing about what he accomplished. I think he was either a practice squad guy, or one of the very lowest men on the totem pole, and that continued into the 2020 season. But, then Marquise Blair and Lano Hill – our #3 and #4 safeties – went out with injury early this season. That bumped Neal up to #3 on the depth chart, which ultimately thrust him into a starting role when Jamal Adams (spoiler alert, he ranks VERY high on this list) was out for his own injuries for a few weeks. Neal not only held his own, but he has made huge impactful plays nearly every game he’s stepped onto the field! He had picks in back-to-back games and has had lots of huge hits. It’s comforting knowing he’s around to fill in as needed.

11 – Alton Robinson

Speaking of another rookie I didn’t expect ANYTHING out of, let me introduce you to our 5th round defensive end. Remember how everyone thought Darrell Taylor (our 2nd rounder) would be the guy from this draft class to step in immediately to make an impact? Well, Taylor has yet to get healthy enough to play (and almost certainly will be held out for the entirety of his rookie season); meanwhile, Robinson has been thrust into a reserve pass rush role and has 4 sacks on the season! That’s great! Not for nothing, but our leading sacker in 2019 also had 4 sacks, which gives you an idea of what we thought of our pass rush heading into this year.

10 – L.J. Collier

Here’s another holdover who did nothing as a rookie last year. Collier has gotten plenty of snaps at both defensive end and tackle, and while he hasn’t flashed as you’d hope a first round draft pick might, he has 3 sacks on the year and a number of other impactful plays along the line of scrimmage, to be significantly better than the bust I was ready to label him as. I can’t say the sky is the limit, but getting even just competent play out of him is better than nothing.

9 – Carlos Hyde

With Rashaad Penny starting the year on the PUP list, and with Chris Carson as our injury-prone starting running back, the Seahawks were in need of a quality backup. Hyde was on the market and got a fair market value. I don’t know if he’s exceeded expectations – because he’s always been a pretty good and underrated running back – but he’s met them, and that’s enough. 356 rushing yards (4.4 average), plus another 93 receiving yards on 16 receptions (and 4 touchdowns) is everything I wanted out of him, especially since he was solid while Carson was out with his annual injury.

8 – Ethan Pocic

Here’s another guy who hadn’t done ANYTHING with the Seahawks since we drafted him in the 2nd round in 2017. Finally healthy, and finally playing his strongest position – center – he was a surprise winner of the job over incoming free agent B.J. Finney. Not only has he taken the job and ran with it, but he afforded the Seahawks an opportunity to trade Finney away for even more talent (coming up later in this post).

7 – Jordyn Brooks

Our top draft pick this year was a surprise to many. No one thought the Seahawks needed a weakside linebacker, especially considering we’ve had one of the best in K.J. Wright since the 2011 season. Nevertheless, Wright is getting up there and is in one of his final seasons. In spite of that, the first round seems kinda high to draft a linebacker, but Brooks has quietly been one of the best rookie linebackers in the league, and he’s really thrived of late now that he’s starting. On top of which, he’s allowed the team to move Wright to the strongside linebacker spot, where he has been KILLING IT! That’s been vital since Bruce Irvin – brought in to fill that role – has been lost for the season. Brooks looks like a solid starter for us for years to come, which is very encouraging to see as a rookie.

6 – Benson Mayowa

He would be higher if he hadn’t missed those games with his injury, but he has 4 sacks on the year and as part of this MUCH improved pass rushing rotation, his pressure rate is off the charts. When he was forced to play a high percentage of defensive snaps early in the season, he was far less effective, but with the emergence of those around him, they’ve afforded the Seahawks the opportunity to keep Mayowa to his part time role where he’s best suited.

5 – D.J. Reed

He would also be much higher if he hadn’t missed so many weeks with his offseason injury. But, the Seahawks are INCREDIBLY lucky to have him, and if we were basing these rankings off of the last month alone, he’d probably be second overall. Reed was a castoff from the 49ers whose season almost ended before it began. We claimed him, kept him on the NFI list, and worked him back slowly as he recovered. His return coincided with injuries to both Quinton Dunbar and Tre Flowers (as well as Shaquill Griffin, briefly); Reed has taken over that right cornerback spot and is absolutely DOMINATING! He’s the best RCB we’ve had since Byron Maxwell in his prime; on top of which, Reed can return punts! What a godsend!

4 – Carlos Dunlap

He’d be higher on this list if we had him to start the season. But, it took a rebuilding Bengals squad to take their veteran for granted, and a nifty little mid-season trade to get him here, and he has single-handedly made everyone around him on that side of the ball better. Our pass rush went from one of the very worst in all of football to 7th in the league in sacks! Even with nagging injuries slowing him down, he’s helped transform the defense as we head into the playoffs, into a unit that can actually win us games, instead of holding us back. He’s also accumulated 5 sacks in 7 games, which is phenomenal; imagine what he could do if he was fully healthy!

3 – Brandon Shell

We’ve seen what he means to the right side of this offensive line, both via the improvement over Germain Ifedi from last year, as well as via the dropoff from the guys filling in for him while he deals with his ankle sprain. This offense was never better than when we had all five of our offensive linemen fully healthy; the offense (and Russell Wilson specifically) has struggled as guys have gone down. But, Shell should be back for the playoffs, and we’re all hoping that makes all the difference.

2 – Damien Lewis

This was the rookie we were all banking on as being our biggest contributor, and he HAS exceeded expectations! I think we all expected a lot more growing pains with Lewis, but he’s stayed mostly healthy throughout the year and there have been very few breakdowns in protection where he’s concerned. And, unless I’m mistaken, I think he’s been rated quite high in the offensive line rankings on PFF (I haven’t checked myself, but I see glimpses on Twitter every once in a while). Either way, getting a starting lineman who’s actually worth a damn as a rookie is pretty rare for this team, and I’m giving him props accordingly.

1 – Jamal Adams

As if there could be any doubt. The dude is leading the team in sacks from the safety position with 9.5! He’s a generational talent and the catalyst for this defense being as special as it’s been. Yes, we gave up a ton to get him here, and we’ll have to pay him a ton to keep him here, but the dude is special. Now, if only he would start catching some of these interceptions that keep hitting him in the hands (granted, he is playing with multiple broken fingers, but still), we’d be looking even better with this guy!

That Seahawks Game Was Harder Than It Needed To Be

What a HORRIFIC back-door cover!

Look, you never feel confident when you have money on the Seahawks. They should be killing a lot of these teams – and really, this is dating back to the glory years of 2012-2014 – but all too frustratingly often, they play down to the level of their competition. It means, of course, that they’re never out of any game, even against the best of opponents. But, it also means you get games like the one last night, where we beat an inept Eagles squad by 6 points.

The line ended up at the Seahawks being favored by 6.5. If you caught it early in the week, or even as late as Thanksgiving morning, you would’ve had the Seahawks -5 and all would’ve been golden. But, if you dilly-dallied and waited until the last minute, you missed out on a lot of money being bet on the Seahawks, driving that line up to where it ended. And, if you’re one of those poor souls, I’M SO SORRY! You must feel like putting a gun in your mouth, or at least in the mouths of all your enemies, starting with whoever made the decision for the Eagles to needlessly go for two when they scored their meaningless TD to give the game its final score of 23-17.

This was a hard game to watch from the very beginning, unless you’re into stout defenses mucking it up. The entire first quarter was scoreless, if that does anything for you (pity the poor saps who bet the OVER in this one). But, the Seahawks put up back-to-back scoring drives in the second quarter to go up 14-0. We would’ve been on easy street – as we forced Carson Wentz into an obvious Intentional Grounding penalty on the next drive (that would’ve allowed the Seahawks ample time to score again to go up 21-0, which I’m convinced would’ve happened, as our offense was really humming at that point), except the refs fucking blew it.

For any NFL referees who need the rules explained to them, here’s a quick overview on Intentional Grounding: regardless of whether or not the quarterback is out of the pocket, when he’s throwing the ball away, it needs to go beyond the line of scrimmage. Carson Wentz, in this case, threw the ball out of bounds. The assistant who was standing there caught the ball, EASILY a good three yards behind the line of scrimmage. If he just stood there holding the ball, waving it in his arms and pointing to the line of scrimmage, he could have easily shown the refs how badly they bungled the play, giving them an opportunity to drop a flag. Instead, none of that happened, and the ref – who was a good 30 yards back, where Wentz was about to get swallowed up – decided not to seek anyone else’s help in making the correct call.

Of course, the Eagles went on to score on that drive, pulling the game to 14-6 at halftime.

The Eagles were thoroughly energized after that. We could’ve put them away in the first half, and their defense would’ve given up – seeing how ineptly, once again, their offense was performing – but the refs fucked us, and so the ugly game continued on.

The Seahawks were only able to put up three field goal drives in the second half, but with the defense absolutely overwhelming the Eagles, it was more than enough. The lead peaked at 23-9 with just over a minute to go in the game. With the differential being a full 14 points, you had to figure even if they did get a garbage touchdown (which, of course they did), there would be ZERO point in going for two in that scenario. You kick the PAT, fuck up the onside kick, and bingo-bango-bongo the game is over!

I’ll pour one out for the degenerates out there, though. That’s as bad – and unnecessary – of a beat as I’ve ever seen.

Getting back to the game itself, that was a tremendous effort from the defense! The Eagles punted five times in the first half alone (and, again, it should’ve been six!). We held them on downs twice in the second half, and caught the biggest gift of an interception in the history of football (because 2020 Carson Wentz is clearly as broken as we all are in this year of chaos). Not only that, but we sacked him six times! And, if you were wondering, that gives us 31 on the year (already more than we had in all of 2019, with five more games to play), which puts us tied for 7th in the NFL, just a month or so after being at or near the bottom. What a turnaround!

Russell Wilson had a nothing game, 230 yards and just the one TD (though it was as pretty of a goalline fade to David Moore as you’ll ever see), but he didn’t turn the ball over, and in a game like this, that means everything.

D.K. Metcalf was the star in this one, catching 10 balls for 177 yards, and absolutely ABUSING Darius Slay (who was matched up against him almost all night). On top of that, he forced the Eagles into a couple of Unsportsmanlike Conduct penalties by being overly aggressive in blocking for his teammates, which I always love to see.

It was great having Chris Carson back, though clearly the Seahawks were taking it easy with him. Carson ran the ball only 8 times for 41 yards, and the manliest of manly-man touchdowns you’ll see this year. Carlos Hyde got the bulk of the carries – 15 for 22 yards – but clearly no one is as effective as Carson (especially against a stout D-Line like what the Eagles have).

The Eagles’ defense as a whole made life pretty difficult for the Seahawks, though I would argue the right tackle did us very few favors. Cedric Ogbuehi is a HUGE drop-off compared to Brandon Shell, and it was noticeable throughout the game. He didn’t get better as the night went on, I’ll tell you that much; there’s a reason why he’s a backup tackle (and why he deserves to stay that way).

But, again, this night was all about the Seahawks’ defense. Jamal Adams, Rasheem Green, K.J. Wright, Poona Ford, and Benson Mayowa all had one sack each (Carlos Dunlap & Jarran Reed combined for a sack as well). They knocked down five balls and hit Wentz a whopping 12 times; he never really looked comfortable, not even when they were driving down for that final score of the night. That’s a Seahawks defensive performance reminiscent of old, and it was great to see.

The lone downer of the evening is Carlos Dunlap suffering a sprained foot and/or ankle. We don’t yet know how serious it is, but clearly that’s a huge blow. Thankfully, the next three games should look a lot like this one, and we probably don’t TOTALLY need him to win them. As long as he’s back for the final two, I promise I won’t freak out (very much).

It feels great that the Seahawks will be home for the next two, against the lowly New York teams. Time to take care of business.

The Seahawks Have Overcome A Lot Of Injuries To Get Here

File this under: No Shit, Everyone’s Got Injuries, Sherlock.

Still, not everyone is 7-3 and tied for the lead in their division, with a reasonable path to getting the #1 seed in their conference. If you take a step back and see what the Seahawks have been able to accomplish with all that’s gone against them, there’s reason to be amazed, as well as encouraged (if guys return and play well the rest of the way).

Let’s start with the guys who are lost for the season; pour one out for what could’ve been:

  • Bruce Irvin (LB/DE)
  • Marquise Blair (S)
  • Lano Hill (S)
  • Neiko Thorpe (CB)
  • Greg Olsen (TE)

I know there are teams who have lost bigger stars for the season, but I would argue these are pretty significant hits for the Seahawks. Given what we did in the offseason, this represents a pretty large portion of our free agent dollars (dollars that were – and still continue to be – in very short supply). Irvin accounted for over $5 million on a 1-year deal, and Olsen was another $7 million on a 1-year deal. Four our trouble, we got 10 games out of Olsen (he’s our 4th leading receiver at the moment, with just one touchdown), and only 2 games out of Irvin (he was supposed to be one of our top pass rushers, and ended up getting zero sacks). Money poorly spent, I’d say (the caveat being, if we make it deep into the playoffs, Olsen might be able to return, but I won’t be counting on that).

A big shame when it comes to the Olsen injury is the fact that we recently waived Luke Willson, who was picked up by the Ravens. It sounds like he’s on their practice squad – so we COULD get him back if we wanted to – but I don’t know if he’d want to return and continue to get jerked around (since it’s clear he’s our first option when we have someone we need to cut).

The team had also carved out a decent role for Blair to be a nickel corner against bigger receivers/tight ends. The second year pro (drafted in the second round) has a lot of talent and promise, so it was heartbreaking to see him also go down in the second game of the season. We’ll never know what we would’ve had in him this year, but given the secondary’s struggles overall (and the injury issues, which we’ll get more into below), Blair’s presence would’ve been a very welcome addition to the team.

Hill and Thorpe are lesser losses, but Hill looked better than he’s ever been in his two games this season. One has to wonder if he turned a corner in his young career. As for Thorpe, he’s been a Special Teams captain and mainstay for YEARS, but this just seems to be the end of the line for him. He hasn’t been able to stay on the field for even double-digit games since 2018 (when he still missed a good month’s worth of games), and I would argue our Special Teams have been fine without him.

Next, let’s look at the short list of players who’ve yet to play a single down:

  • Rashaad Penny (RB)
  • Darrell Taylor (DE)
  • Phillip Dorsett (WR)
  • Josh Gordon (WR) *

Of the four, the odds of Dorsett ever playing for this team seems pretty remote. Foot injuries are never good. Foot injuries for wide receivers are especially damaging. And, foot injuries for wide receivers whose primary weapon is their straight-line speed … well, three strikes and you’re out, I guess. As for Gordon, he gets the asterisk because he’s not actually injured, but rather on an indefinite suspension. But, he’s signed to the team and has yet to contribute, and given the talent of both of these players, I’d say the losses hurt regardless! Gordon especially, as he has #1 receiver-type talent; add him to the elite duo of D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett and you’ve really got something! The absence of these two also meant the Seahawks briefly flirted with the idea of signing Antonio Brown, and the jury is still out as to whether that would’ve been a smart idea or not.

Since the Seahawks, as is, are so strong at wide receiver, it’s hard to make a huge deal out of Dorsett & Gordon not being here. If you had to rank this group based on who we needed most, it’s a toss-up between Penny and Taylor. I’m leaning towards Penny because he’s a proven commodity, and there were a few games there where we REALLY stunk at running back, starting the likes of DeeJay Dallas and Alex Collins. As we saw last week with the return of Carlos Hyde, talent at running back is still important in this league, and Penny is probably the second-most talented running back on this team. It does look like he’ll return soon, which could be a boost (if nothing else, to our depth, but I bet they carve out a role on third downs for him, to get his feet wet).

As for Taylor, you could argue that – until recently – defensive end/pass rush was our biggest issue. But, as a rookie, I don’t know what’s reasonable to expect from a guy (especially when he hasn’t participated in any sort of Training Camp, let alone practices or games). I’m still not holding my breath that he actually returns – based on the number of setbacks he’s had – but the team is saying he’s close, which I find encouraging. Mostly, it’s encouraging that they haven’t yet written him off entirely and shut him down in favor of returning strong next year. Either way, I’ll believe in him when I see him in an actual game.

Next, let’s take a look at the players who have missed games:

  • Jamal Adams (S)
  • Shaquill Griffin (CB)
  • Quinton Dunbar (CB)
  • Ugo Amadi (CB)
  • D.J. Reed (CB)
  • Benson Mayowa (DE)
  • Chris Carson (RB)
  • Carlos Hyde (RB)
  • Travis Homer (RB)
  • Bryan Mone (DT)
  • Rasheem Green (DE)
  • Jordyn Brooks (LB)
  • Mike Iupati (G)
  • Jordan Simmons (G)
  • Ethan Pocic (C)

This obviously isn’t a comprehensive list (I probably should’ve said that at the top, but whatever). Let’s start with the secondary: we have YET to play with our full corps of DB’s at full strength. Griffin has been out the last few weeks with a concussion and a hamstring injury; he just returned to practice this week, but it’s up in the air as to whether he can return for Monday night’s game or not. Dunbar and Adams have both missed games AND played through injuries, with middling results. Obviously Adams leads the team in sacks and is a great weapon as a blitzer, but his coverage skills were never his strongest suit, and I would argue they’ve been further hampered by whatever he’s trying to gut his way through. Dunbar has a bad knee that was never able to fully get right. He tried to step up – particularly in Griffin’s absence – but has been abused by opposing quarterbacks the entire season. He’s finally landed on the IR, in hopes that we can get him back to 100% for the stretch run, so we’ll see. Amadi’s loss was a bad blow in the wake of Blair’s season-ending injury, as Amadi was one of our other nickel corners. Thankfully, D.J. Reed returned right around the same time, to give our secondary a boost (as he missed the start of the season thanks to an offseason injury when we claimed him).

The hope for this defense was that the secondary could prop everyone else up until we figured out the pass rush situation (with guys either improving naturally, or with outside players coming in to contribute), but that sadly hasn’t been the case. It’s been made more difficult by losing guys along the already-shorthanded defensive line. Along with Irvin and Taylor, the line has also missed Benson Mayowa (our OTHER big free agent signing along the D-Line) and Rasheem Green (last year’s leading sacker) for multiple games. Bryan Mone, to his credit, has been stout in the interior of the line, and it looks like it’ll be a while before he’s able to return.

The running backs, as I mentioned, took a serious hit. I won’t dwell on them too much, but thankfully Hyde is now back and Carson is practicing again. Here’s hoping they can stay on the field the rest of the way!

Jordyn Brooks didn’t miss too much time, but as our top rookie draft pick this year, missing ANY time is a disaster for someone learning the defense and learning how to be a professional. He has yet to make too much of an impact (possibly related to missing time early on, possibly not), but it does look like he’s starting to get more comfortable with his role on this team.

Finally, it’s time to talk about the offensive line. As Seahawks fans, we KNOW how important this unit is to the success of the offense. And, for the most part, we’ve been pretty blessed with this unit being as healthy as it’s been. Mike Iupati was a question mark from the start – given his age and the way his body has been breaking down in recent seasons – but we have good depth at guard. That depth was thrown into disarray when Simmons went down, as he’s the best backup guard on the roster. Then, with Ethan Pocic going down with a concussion (after having traded away B.J. Finney to the Bengals in part for Carlos Dunlap), we had to move our rock of a right guard, Damien Lewis, over to center for a game. He made it through okay (because he’s clearly Seattle’s 2020 Rookie MVP), but there were some struggles. Thankfully, it looks like all three are back (or very close to being back), so I don’t foresee any of them missing time long term.

To wrap things up, how about a few words on guys we all suspect are playing through (or HAVE played through) injuries:

  • Brandon Shell (RT)
  • Duane Brown (LT)
  • Tyler Lockett (WR)
  • Russell Wilson (QB)?

Duane Brown is an old man, but he’s also far-and-away our best offensive lineman, at a critical position along the line. He gets regular rest days in practice throughout the season to make sure he lasts, but I cringe EVERY TIME he goes down awkwardly or gets hit down around the knees. I think he’s missed a snap here and there, but so far has yet to miss any actual games (knock on wood); I hope it stays that way. Brandon Shell has proven to be our best right tackle by a VERY large margin. He suffered an ankle injury against the Cardinals, and I still have no idea how bad it is. If it’s a high ankle sprain, he could miss a month or more (which would be a disaster for this line). If it’s just a regular ankle sprain, he could be back as early as Monday night. I’m hoping it’ll be okay.

Lockett hasn’t missed any time that I can recall, but we all remember when he was tackled poorly by the Rams (I want to say?) and D.K. Metcalf almost started a riot in defense of his teammate. That was the second time he’s been nearly-injured, and he’s a little guy as it is! This offense is elite because it has Russell Wilson and TWO top-flight receivers. If you take away one of those receivers, it becomes exponentially easier to defend this team. So, take care Tyler Lockett!

As for Wilson, I don’t think he was ever actually injured, but I do think it’s funny that fans have this rumor that he was concussed and that’s why he struggled in our three losses. It’s the same as saying there’s widespread election fraud happening in America (but, of course, only in the swing states, and really only in the swing states that the president lost … how convenient). Never underestimate humanity’s ability to believe what it wants to believe!

In all seriousness, though, this season will go straight down the shitter if Wilson ever gets seriously injured. He HAS taken a lot of bad-looking hits, so I think it’s wise to incorporate more running (with the running backs) into the gameplan. Let’s get through these next four games with a 4-0 record and then we can start flying by the seat of our pants again!

I’m As Excited As I’ll Probably Ever Be For A Seahawks/Bills Matchup

My all-time favorite memory of the Seahawks playing the Bills is from 2012, when we went into Buffalo Toronto and stomped them into the ground by a score of 50-17. Obviously, that was Russell Wilson’s rookie season, and the real Seahawks fans remember this period as the beginning of the Great Seahawks Renaissance.

My memories of this period have to be akin to what it feels like for fathers remembering the days of their children’s births; I feel such PRIDE! And a longing to return to those sweet and innocent times!

Two weeks prior, the 2012 Seahawks were 6-5 and coming off of a disappointing loss to the Dolphins. They needed a spark. They needed their rookie quarterback to take a big leap forward in his development. And, he did just that in an overtime victory in Chicago. From there, the Seahawks dismantled the Cardinals 58-0. In combination with the aforementioned Bills victory, and the subsequent throttling of the eventual Super Bowl losers (the 49ers) by a score of 42-13, you still won’t find a more dominant three-game stretch in all of Seahawks history. In those three victories, we won by a combined score of 150-30; those are insane college football numbers!

That was also in the middle of a 5-game winning streak to close out the season. The damage had been done – we had to settle for a Wild Card spot, as the 49ers took the division that year by half a game – but in spite of our loss to the Falcons in the Divisional Round, hopes were never higher for Seahawks fans. Had we managed to nail our comeback in Atlanta, I think we’re all in agreement that we would’ve taken the 49ers out in the NFC Championship Game, with a victory against the Ravens in the Super Bowl all but assured.

While it’s a stretch to say the 2012 Seahawks were better than the 2013 version that DID manage to win it all, I seem to remember there being advanced metrics out there that showed those Seahawks were quite the force to be reckoned with.

These 2020 Seahawks aren’t the same (clearly), so I’ll temper my expectations accordingly. Nevertheless, through seven games, these 2020 Seahawks are still legitimate Super Bowl contenders. And, as chance would have it, we have another road date against the Bills on the schedule (this time in their actual hometown).

I’m weirdly excited for this game! When you factor in divisional/playoff tie-breakers, this game – a road contest against an opposite-conference opponent – is among the least important. But, since there are only 16 regular season games, that’s a relative statement, because ALL games are important in football!

And, sure, I’m excited because the Bills are a quality opponent (we are 1-1 against teams with winning records, with the lone victory being against a rebuilding Dolphins team), but the opponent is irrelevant. I’m mostly excited because we’re starting to get healthy again!

Jamal Adams and Benson Mayowa both figure to return this week. And sure, we’re down Shaquill Griffin, but D.J. Reed returned last week and looked phenomenal! Jordyn Brooks made it through unscathed. AND, we get to see Carlos Dunlap for the first time since we traded for him!

I’ll be honest, 75% of my hype is devoted to Dunlap. I am SO READY for a competent defensive end to grace us with his presence! I would put my feelings on par with how I felt about Jadeveon Clowney last year. In a vacuum, I’d prefer 2019 Clowney to 2020 Dunlap, but considering just how atrocious our pass rush has been this year, I feel like I’m even MORE starving for … ANYTHING! The fact that he took a pay cut to come here – converting $3 million of what he was owed into a roster bonus next season (meaning, if we cut him before then, he gets none of it, but immediately becomes a free agent; or if we keep him, we likely look to extend him an extra year or two beyond 2021) means he might be the most motivated player on this roster right now! I LOVE that!

I need to be ready to be underwhelmed, of course, but this feeling is more than just about this one game. The Seahawks as a whole are getting healthier. Shaquill Griffin will eventually return to full strength. Rasheem Green is on his way back from his stinger. Alton Robinson is already blowing away expectations as a rookie defensive end. We’ll actually have a defensive line ROTATION for once, where we can keep everyone fresh and hopefully maximize their effectiveness (rather than running the same two guys into the ground as they continue to get stonewalled).

The defense will be a work in progress all year. BUT, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t expect to see improvement if we can get these guys healthy and (more importantly) keep our key guys healthy. And, hopefully, it won’t require us to blitz over 50% of the rest of our snaps to do it.

Now, all of that being said, just because I’m excited for this game doesn’t mean I actually believe the Seahawks will win. This isn’t just one of those deals where Steven Isn’t Allowed To Have Nice Things In His Life, but it’s a weird fucking thing about the Seahawks and AFC games (particularly against the better AFC opponents we face, usually on the road).

Since 2012, the Seahawks – I think we can all agree – have been pretty good-to-great. And yet, we’ve managed to stumble against at least one AFC opponent in every season except one (randomly, in 2016, when we also played against the AFC East). We’ve lost an AFC road game at least once in six of those eight seasons. It’s not even that we get blown out or look particularly bad; weird shit just seems to happen when we least suspect it!

Now, the saving grace here is the fact that most of us – when we were going through the schedule when it was initially released – marked this game down as a likely defeat. Until the Seahawks got off to this remarkable start, most of us kind of wrote this game off. The Bills were projected to be a very good team this season, and low and behold – at 6-2 – they are! I would argue, however, even that hasn’t gone according to plan. Josh Allen looks much better than any of us expected (particularly in engineering a comeback victory over the Rams back in Week 3), but also the Bills’ defense looks much worse than any of us expected (when many projected them to be at least in the Top 3 in the NFL). The Bills have given up 26 or more points in half of their games (including a whopping 42 in a loss to the Titans). Fantasy owners are dropping the Bills’ defense left and right, and for good reason!

That’s why I think lots of Seahawks fans are predicting a Seahawks victory this week. Our defense just produced its best game of the season last week, we’re getting a lot of key additions to that side of the ball, AND the Bills have shown they’re weaker than their record might suggest.

To me, that puts me back on edge, coming around full circle to think that we WILL lose this game, as unexpectedly as we have in years past. If and when that does happen, it shouldn’t reduce our excitement for the rest of this season!

It might take a week or two for these new/returning stars to gel. The team might be looking ahead to our date in L.A. against the Rams next week (which will be a HUGE showdown for NFC West supremacy). Or the Bills just might be better on this particular given Sunday! I’m not going to sweat the outcome of this one, even though it would be fantastic to win and keep our cushion against the rest of the division for one more week.

I expect the Seahawks’ defense won’t look as good as it did a week ago. I expect a lot of Bills yards through the air. I expect the Seahawks on offense will need to rack up lots of points like it has all season. And … I expect weird, freaky mistakes might prevent us from accomplishing what we want to accomplish.

But, it won’t be the end of the world (even though it’ll be infuriating in the moment). I’m mentally preparing to be 6-2 at this time on Monday morning. I’m also already ready to flush this game and move on to the next one as soon as humanly possible. The Rams are on a BYE this week, meaning they’ve got two weeks to prepare for a home date against us that will be our biggest game of the season (so far). My mind is already in Los Angeles.

Well, technically, my mind is in Vegas for our early December trip, but close enough.

The Seahawks Needed A Win Like That

When the best thing the Seahawks have going for them in the run-up to a game is my gut telling me the other team is bound to be victorious, it’s never really a great sign. And yet, my gut has literally never failed me (by, ironically enough, always being wrong)!

I don’t really know how you see a game like that coming, though. I know a 37-27 victory doesn’t LOOK like the defense was worth a damn, but 20 of those points happened in the fourth quarter when Nick Mullens came in for Jimmy G and ate up a good amount of garbage-time yards and points. For the first three quarters of that game, the Seahawks’ defense properly dominated – taking a 27-7 lead into the final frame – and while giving up 20 points and however many hundreds of yards at the end doesn’t look great, if you gave me a 20-point lead heading into every single fourth quarter, I would gladly accept no questions asked.

I read somewhere that the Seahawks blitzed on over 50% of their plays in this one, which is pretty crazy for anyone, but especially for this team! Given that Jimmy G is a little hobbled, it made sense, as he really wasn’t going to get away from us. That translated to three sacks, an interception, eight quarterback hits, and somehow 6.5 tackles for loss (how do you end up with a fractional tackle for loss? Your guess is as good as mine).

Bobby Wagner was a man possessed in this one, and that’s saying something (that he’s the lead story for this game) considering Russell Wilson threw four touchdown passes. He led the game in tackles (11, 3 for loss) and had two of our sacks (while hitting the quarterback two more times). This was, honestly, the first time Wagner really flashed in a game this season, and was his single-greatest performance in YEARS. I dunno, that could be an exaggeration; for all I know he could’ve had a similar game in 2019 sometime. But, nothing really stands out to me; these games have been the exception, not the rule, in recent seasons. And, when you factor in all the injuries (Benson Mayowa, our best defensive line pass rusher, was out; Jamal Adams couldn’t make it back; Shaquill Griffin and Ugo Amadi also had to sit), that made it all the more impressive. We’ve been lamenting the lack of talent around Bobby Wagner as the main reason for his decline, but this game showed he still has some of the good stuff left in him (and we needed every bit of it).

The injury bug didn’t stop there, as our top two running backs couldn’t make it back either; Chris Carson is week-to-week with a foot injury, and Carlos Hyde apparently pulled something while celebrating last week? Jesus Christ. That meant that DeeJay Dallas got the lion’s share of the carries; he did what he could, but the 49ers seemed to be particularly stout against our inside rushing game in this one (he finished with 41 yards on 18 carries, but did score two TDs, including one through the air while catching 5 balls for 17 more yards).

As such, this game was always destined to be a Russell Wilson-heavy affair, and he didn’t disappoint. 27/37 for 261 and 4 touchdowns. This one didn’t have a ton of razzle dazzle, but the MVP Hype Train is chugging full steam ahead.

The offense struggled a bit in the first half, as we could only muster a 13-7 halftime lead. But, we really put the game away in the third quarter, and I was impressed by how we attacked them in the fourth when they were mounting their futile comeback attempt. The 49ers pulled it to 30-20 with just over four minutes left, and that could’ve been a drive where we just ran it three times and bled their time outs. Past Seahawks teams might’ve won this game 30-27, needing a stop at the end to prevent a disaster, with no one really coming away feeling good about what transpired. But, we got the ball back near midfield (after a failed onside kick attempt) and proceeded to resume throwing the ball, scoring that back-breaking touchdown while ALSO bleeding their time outs. That’s what championship-calibre teams do.

The fact that I’ve gone this long without mentioning D.K. Metcalf is utter lunacy. He caught 12 balls for 161 yards and 2 touchdowns, and it looked EASY. The 49ers couldn’t do a damn thing with him, and if Wilson had pressed the issue, Metcalf could’ve accounted for the entirety of our offense. Whoever was defending him looked like a 10 year old boy trying to cover a full-grown man. If Wilson hadn’t been just a bit short with one of his deep balls, there would’ve been a third touchdown and closer to 200 yards receiving. Just an all-around dominant performance from one of the most dominant receivers in the game today.

As such, it was a relatively quiet day for everyone else on the offense. On defense, the return of D.J. Reed was a sight to behold! He came up with the interception, plus two passes defended and six tackles. We picked him up this past offseason from the 49ers (who waived him as he was injured at the time) and this was his first game back; the timing couldn’t have been more perfect! It looks like he’ll start taking snaps from Ugo Amadi, but at some point we’ll have to think about him taking snaps from Tre Flowers (who, to his credit, played a pretty strong game from what I saw, though I didn’t see how many of those yards in the fourth quarter he might have given up). Also, it was nice to see Alton Robinson return with a sack. And, look at that! Tight end Stephen Sullivan got some run on the defensive line and had that half-a-tackle-for-loss!

It’s hard to know what this game means in the grand scheme of things. We looked great against the 49ers starters, but then their quarterback, running back, and all-world tight end all got injured and they ran up 20 points against our prevent defense. While I’m sure we were playing it safe there towards the end, you also KNOW we really wanted to keep the score down and crow about this being the start of something big. As it stands, I think we should feel very good about what we did in this game as a whole. But, obviously, it’s not as great a day as it should have been.

Ultimately, it was nice to see no hangover whatsoever from that Arizona game. At 6-1, we’ve taken back our spot as the top team in the NFC (thanks to a Packers loss, everyone else has at least two defeats). Now we get to look forward to as meaningless of a regular season game as it gets when we go to Buffalo next week.

The Seahawks Beat The Viking, Are Taking Years Off Of My Life

The fucking rain.

It’s like we’re the Wicked Witch of the West whenever a few droplets hit our jerseys! There was about a 2-minute period in the third quarter of this game where the rain stopped, and I honestly don’t think it’s a coincidence that those are the two minutes where the Seahawks exploded for 21 unanswered points!

There’s so much to discuss about this game.

Here are the broad strokes: the Seahawks won 27-26. The Seahawks converted exactly 0 of 7 third down opportunities. The Seahawks held the ball for just under 21 minutes of game time. The Seahawks allowed the Vikings to rush for 201 yards. The Seahawks allowed the Vikings to run 83 plays and convert 31 first downs. EVERYTHING about this game screamed not only a Vikings victory, but a Vikings BLOWOUT victory! And yet, somehow, here we are, with a 5-0 record heading into our BYE week (the first of multiple, maybe, depending on how these COVID outbreaks keep shaking out).

I can’t begin to tell you how bad the Seahawks looked in the first half. The Vikings jumped right out to a 7-0 lead on the first drive of the game and it wasn’t even all that difficult. This looked to be a modified version of our performance against the Dolphins last week – where we kept plays in front of us and forced them to dink and dunk down the field – but the difference was the fact that Dalvin Cook is maybe the best running back in all of football, and Kirk Cousins finds a way to elevate his game when he goes up against the Seahawks (not every time, but sometimes).

Ultimately, we did slow the bleeding – even forcing the Vikings to punt once in the first half – and it felt lucky that we were only down 13-0 at the break. It was pretty appalling how badly the offense was sputtering. There were breakdowns along the offensive line, there were bad throws by Wilson, and guys weren’t able to get open. But, more than anything, I think the Vikings out-schemed us. They took away anything and everything deep, and for at least a half we fed right into that. It seemed like we were looking to chuck it 40 yards on every passing play, but with nothing open, that meant Wilson was stuck back there getting clobbered by a fairly feisty pass rush.

We’ve seen these games before from the Seahawks. This felt like the most “normal” game for us in this brand new Let Russ Cook era: fall into a deep first half hole, spend the second half clawing our way back into contention. The main difference here is: the Let Russ Cook Seahawks are able to come back almost immediately! A 13-0 deficit morphed into a 21-13 lead less than halfway into the third quarter! Not only did it look like the score we expected all along, but it looked like we were going to run away with it!

It honestly seemed like the Vikings got away from their gameplan on offense – which was: pound the rock – and put the ball in Kirk Cousins’ hands. So, the fumble and BAFFLING interception on back-to-back drives certainly gave us all the confidence we needed in watching our Seahawks come back. He settled down, of course, and ultimately put the Vikings into a position to steal one. But, he’s not Russell Wilson!

In that two-minute stretch, Dalvin Cook looked like he pulled a groin, went to the locker room, and returned for one play only to sit out the remainder of the game. It didn’t matter, as his backup – Alexander Mattison – was running like a total beast. This was not the Seahawks rush defense I signed up for, nor the one I promised last week! There were glimpses of dominance – especially from Jarran Reed, who was all over the place in the interior line – but instead of giving up on it, the Vikings doubled down. The Seahawks linebackers not named K.J. Wright had a pretty awful game. They would come up big late in the fourth quarter, but Cody Barton especially looked overmatched, and reminded us why this team drafted Jordyn Brooks in the first round (hopefully he’ll return to action after the BYE week).

As soon as we took that 21-13 lead, the offense went right back into hibernation mode. 21-13 became 21-19, which then became 26-21 Vikings halfway through the fourth quarter. More long, clock-churning drives. And THEN, one of the worst interceptions I’d ever seen from Russell Wilson!

That gave the Vikings the ball back at midfield, with just under six minutes in the game. They drove it all the way (eventually) inside the Seahawks 10 yard line at the two minute warning, for the play of the game. 4th down & 1 at the Seattle 6 yard line. Kick a field goal, and the Vikings would lead by 8 points, necessitating the Seahawks to drive approximately 75 yards for a touchdown (and a two-point conversion) in just under two minutes with only 1 time out. OR, go for it and seal the victory by getting a single yard. For a team that averaged 4.9 yards per carry on the day, it seemed like a no-brainer. As a Seahawks fan, I was dreading them going for it, which should tell you all you need to know about their decision being a smart one. The fact that my aggressive ways agree with what the math tells you is just a bonus; every once in a while I find myself on the right side of history, and I agree, it feels weird. Of course, with the Vikings ultimately NOT converting 4th & 1, and losing the game, in retrospect makes the choice to kick a field goal there more enticing. But, I’d like to think I wouldn’t be furious with my team if I were a Vikings fan right now.

I’d LIKE to think that, but, you know me …

The Seahawks still needed to score a touchdown to win it, and that was no sure thing! Not with the way we’d been trying to move the ball for all but two minutes of the game! Indeed, we were on our own 23 yard line, 4th & 10, with the game on the line and I was convinced it was over. I just couldn’t believe how badly Wilson was missing the mark on some of his patented deep throws! It seems impossible for him to over-shoot these guys when he puts so much arc on them, but there were a number of opportunities that shot well over the intended mark (I don’t know HOW you over-throw D.K. Metcalf, but he found away!). Anyway, thank Christ for Metcalf, who caught a lob ball down the left sideline to convert that 4th down; just a beauty of a 39-yard play! From there, the game-winning TD felt inevitable, and my main concern was not scoring TOO fast, to leave the Vikings time to go down and kick a field goal!

And yet, there we were, 4th & Goal at the 6-yard line with 20 seconds left. I guess that’s the third “Play of the Game” in this one? Once again, who does Wilson go to but D.K. Metcalf coming across the middle of the endzone?! With 15 seconds to go in the game, the Vikings converted one short pass and fumbled on the final play of the game to end it.

Not the best game in the world for Wilson – 217 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT – but his rating was still over 100. The rushing attack probably could’ve been leaned on more as Wilson, Carson, and Homer combined for 124 yards on only 16 carries (for a 7.8 average). D.K. was obviously the receiving star, with 6 catches for 93 yards and 2 touchdowns.

Defensively, K.J. Wright was phenomenal (including a 1-handed interception after dropping so many last week!). Shaquill Griffin had a strong coverage game. Ryan Neal continues to make plays at safety in lieu of Jamal Adams. Jarran Reed came up huge a number of times. Benson Mayowa looked good (the line combined for 3 sacks, which isn’t terrible). And, honestly, the best performance on either team might’ve come from our punter, Michael Dickson, who dropped 4 of 5 punts inside the 20 yard line, including two that landed inside the 2-yard line! The fact that our defense couldn’t make them pay for such poor field position is quite concerning.

The BYE week – as I’ve been saying for a while now – couldn’t come at a better time for this team. We’ve had a ton of guys show up on the injury report in recent weeks; most of them should be healthy as we head into our Week 7 matchup down in Arizona. More importantly, I hope to see some of the defensive issues cleaned up in these next two weeks, before we take on a potent-looking Cardinals offense.

For now, we get to take a deep breath and relax. The rest of the NFL is a COVID nightmare, but we’re 5-0 and alone in first place in the NFC (for the time being). Part of me knows it might not get any better than this, but I’m a romantic at heart, and I want so desperately to believe the best is yet to come! I think the Seahawks have what it takes.

But, just in case, let’s build a giant bubble to put over them so that nasty ol’ rain doesn’t interfere!

The Seahawks Beat The Falcons Convincingly, Making Me Exceedingly Happy

I don’t know if it was a matter of Pete Carroll and Brian Schottenheimer “letting” Russell cook, or if Wilson barged into the kitchen, shoved everyone else out, barricaded the doors in a huff with tables and chairs and whatever else he could get his hands on, and started whipping up soufflés and quiches and gumbos like a man possessed! Is this anarchy? Do we have a mutiny on our hands? God save the queen, I could not care less! That performance was a sight to behold, and I’ll take fifteen more of those if he’s got ’em in ‘im!

31/35 (with at least two pretty awful D.K. Metcalf drops that I can recall, which would’ve made his performance even more special) for 322 yards, 4 touchdowns, and 0 interceptions. I will say this, if I may nitpick a tad: there seemed to be a high percentage of high-percentage short throws; wide receiver “bubble” screens, actual honest-to-goodness regular ol’ running back screens, and some iffy designed dump-offs to the tight ends when it looked like he still had time to find something better. But, I mean, listen, this is me at my most pedantic here (and, you know, we’ve been clamoring for the running back screen game to return to Seattle since 2012!), and there’s a very good reason for this sort of game plan in this situation.

This was the first game of the season in a year with no pre-season and very little in the way of a Training Camp (as has been stated, ad nauseam, for the last month or more). On top of which, we were breaking in a new offensive line from center to right tackle, and clearly that was an issue. The running backs – Chris Carson, Carlos Hyde, and Travis Homer – combined for 43 yards on 16 carries (an average of 2.7 yards per carry). Imagine ten more frustrating carries tacked onto that total – at the expense of Wilson’s passing attempts – and it’s clear the Seahawks wouldn’t have scored nearly as many points, and very well could’ve lost the game. On top of which, the line surrendered 3 sacks for 23 yards, which doesn’t sound like a lot, but could’ve been much worse if Wilson wasn’t as mobile as he was. So, getting the ball out of his hands quickly – even if there might’ve been time to find something better down field – was certainly advisable. As it was, I thought Wilson took more hits than normal, which comes with the territory of allowing Wilson to explore his inner Boyardee. I do think the line showed some promise – Pocic seemed to stay out of trouble, Lewis had a couple penalties but was otherwise fine, Shell might be a problem, but we’ll wait and see on him – but obviously there will be growing pains through the first few weeks.

While this was a convincing 38-25 victory for the Seahawks, it wasn’t total domination. The first touchdown drive required a pass interference penalty on 3rd & 23 to prevent us from opening the game with a punt. And the defense was the epitome of Bend, Don’t Break all day.

Atlanta’s run game was held in check by the simple fact that the Seahawks were so far ahead in the second half – making the score 28-12 midway through the third quarter – that they simply didn’t have time to run the ball anymore. While the team average doesn’t look great, I thought Todd Gurley looked pretty close to his usual self from when he played for the Rams. There were large, gaping holes to run through that the Seahawks will need to clean up in a hurry.

Also, maybe it comes with the territory of going up against the likes of Matt Ryan and Julio Jones, but I didn’t think the secondary looked too elite in this one. That wasn’t all due to the garbage-time yards and points the Falcons racked up. I thought Quinton Dunbar looked pretty rusty (at least, I’m hoping it’s rust, and not just an ill fit with this defensive scheme), and I don’t know if Shaquill Griffin was at a Pro Bowl level in this one (though, his PI penalty was pretty ticky-tacky). The Falcons had three 100-yard receivers in this one; that’s probably two too many.

As for the dreaded pass rush … I’m going to give them an “incomplete”. With Matt Ryan dropping back a whopping 54 times, you would THINK the Seahawks should be able to muster more than a measly two sacks (one from an actual member of the front seven), but for now I’m going to chalk it up to Ryan being a veteran who knows how to get rid of the football quickly. We did manage to hit him eight times, which is better than nothing.

Benson Mayowa got the defensive line’s only sack, and at the best possible time: on fourth down, right after we’d just taken that 28-12 lead. I thought L.J. Collier looked pretty impressive – at least, compared to his non-existent rookie season – and I thought Bruce Irvin looked pretty spry (though, both of them disappeared for long stretches in this one, getting swallowed up by Atlanta’s O-Line).

The real stars of this game on defense were, shockingly enough, our two best players on defense: Jamal Adams and Bobby Wagner. I mean, get ready to read a shit-ton about these guys, because they figure to be pretty important every single week! Adams led the team with 12 tackles and was ALL OVER THE PLACE in this one. My goodness! If you were worried the Seahawks wouldn’t blitz him as much as the Jets did, rest assured, I saw him crashing down the line repeatedly all day. Which came in handy when you consider Adams had our other sack, as well as 2.5 tackles for loss and 2 hits on the quarterback. He was simply amazing, there’s no other way to describe it. He’s like if Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas had a baby who was possessed by the devil, but then that baby was slimed with that pink ooze from Ghostbusters II while uplifting soul music was playing from the loudspeakers, leading to his good side shining through and … you know what? This explanation is getting too unwieldy. Jamal Adams = Great.

Also Great = Bobby Wagner. He added seven tackles (one for loss) and had two big pass breakups. I noticed Wagner was doing a little bit of everything – including a healthy chunk of pass rushing – which is really what we were all hoping for. Adams is freeing Wagner up to not have to do EVERYTHING, which in turn should see a spike in some of those really special numbers, like sacks, interceptions, forced fumbles, and the like.

Shout out to Marquise Blair, who got considerable playing time as advertised. He showed solid coverage, also netting seven tackles, and he had a critical forced fumble on a fake punt in the second half that was otherwise going to be converted for a first down had we not recovered the ball. There were smashing hits all day, and that’s exactly the sort of impact this team needs to change its reputation on defense from the softest of cheeses into something more akin to the outer crust of a stale loaf of sourdough.

Of course, it might not matter if the offense keeps wheeling and dealing the way it did in this one. Chris Carson didn’t have a lot on the ground, but he caught six passes for 45 yards and two touchdowns. Tyler Lockett led the team in receptions with 8/8 for 92 yards, and D.K. Metcalf had an up-and-down affair with 4 catches on 8 targets, for 95 yards and a VERY impressive 38-yard touchdown on 4th & 5 to start the second half on the right foot. Newcomer Greg Olsen also showed up with 4 receptions for 24 yards and a touchdown to round things out.

This is rather new territory for us as Seahawks fans. It seems like every other year in the Russell Wilson era, our first game out of the box is some ugly 16-12 slugfest with lots of sacks, turnovers, and penalties. I’ve NEVER seen the offense come out of the gates looking this elite! Usually it takes about three months to get going, but here we go! This is what we’ve been waiting for! Sure, last year the offense clearly outplayed the defense, but this year, it seems like the offense is finally ready to take over games.

As for the Falcons, it’s hard to say. They might be bad, but they could’ve also just run into the buzzsaw that is the Seattle Seahawks. I highly doubt they schemed for us to be as pass-happy as we were, so in that sense maybe they got bitten by it being the first week. If there was ever a good year to unleash a brand new offensive attack, this would be the perfect time!

There’s going to be a lot of talk about, “Do We REALLY Need A Pre-Season?” Honestly, I’m finding it a little difficult to say we do. Obviously, I didn’t watch every single game, but I watched a lot of football yesterday, and by all accounts the games weren’t as ugly as we expected. Penalties didn’t seem to be any more of an issue than in any other season. It looked like a regular week of football (aside from the lack of fans in the stands, and the players being pretty gassed). I do think the pre-season serves a purpose, in that it allows teams to get a better look at their younger guys. But, at the same time, with the increased practice squads, and the fact that other teams don’t have tape on your young guys, you’re able to retain more of your draft picks who aren’t quite good enough to make the 53-man roster, but still have potential in the next year or two to take the next step in your program. So, I dunno. I can go either way with having pre-seasons. Maybe, as has been discussed, split the dif: just take it down to one or two games from now on.

Regardless, if the Seahawks are going to play this well on offense the rest of the season, it won’t matter who we play nor how well our defense performs. I just hope it’s a sign of better things to come, and not a one-week anomaly.

Hindsight Is … The Seahawks Season Preview Extravaganza!

I write about the Seahawks on here pretty extensively, so you probably know my thoughts on the matter already. This is more or less just a one-stop-shop for all of my thoughts as we head into the 2020 regular season.

As I alluded to last week, I’m cautiously optimistic. Earlier in the offseason, I think I was rather too optimistic, so it’s probably smart to ratchet those expectations down a tick or two. In general, I want to say that I think the Seahawks’ offense will be better than it was in 2019, and that the defense will be about the same. There is, however, a very legitimate chance that the offense is about the same and the defense is worse. So, let’s start there as a jumping-off point.

As always, the good news for this team is Russell Wilson. He’s the best quarterback in the NFC and one of the top two or three in the entire NFL; the only guy I would RATHER have over Wilson is Patrick Mahomes, so in my mind he’s right there at #2 (honestly, and not for nothing, Lamar Jackson is probably #4 or #5, behind the likes of Deshaun Watson and probably Dak Prescott, if we’re talking about quarterbacks I’d choose to build my franchise around today). Wilson is currently in the window known as his “prime” and should remain there for another few more years, which means he’s at his peak of being able to carry this team on his back into the playoffs. Of course, even the best quarterbacks need talent around them to succeed (in spite of the fact that the very best quarterbacks will always make that talent around them better).

Wilson’s weapons – as a collective – are better than they were in 2019. Tyler Lockett and D.K. Metcalf are back as this team’s top two receivers; and while Lockett is squarely in his own prime as an elite (and vastly underrated) threat both downfield and in the intermediate game, the Seahawks should see a signifiant boost in Metcalf’s production now that he’s entering his second season in the pros. Metcalf was already one of the very best rookie wideouts a year ago, and he’s done nothing but work on his body and his craft this offseason; if he stays healthy, I fully expect him to make the leap as one of the NFL’s brightest stars. To complement these two, the Seahawks brought in Phillip Dorsett (a guy who’s also quite fast and can compete for deep balls), and they brought back guys like Josh Gordon (a stud when he’s not suspended for doing drugs) and David Moore (who is in a contract year and should be motivated to produce at a high level for his own livelihood in this league). All of these guys seem to be in tremendous shape and should be great assets for Wilson to chuck the ball to.

Then, there’s the tight end room. We get another crack at guys like Dissly (one of the best in football, when he’s able to stay healthy), Hollister (a wide receiver in a tight end’s body) and Luke Willson (an everyman who can help in a variety of ways). Plus, we added a likely future hall of famer in Greg Olsen. And, if the group is decimated with injuries like it was last year, the Seahawks brought in some promising young guys on the NFI list and the Practice Squad to fill in around the margins should the need arise.

Then, there’s the running backs. Chris Carson still figures to be the bellcow. Carlos Hyde will provide solid veteran production behind him. Rashaad Penny should be back halfway through the season (he looks good in the limited video footage that’s been released to the Internet of him running sprints following his ACL surgery) as a possible boost to this group. DeeJay Dallas already sounds like the real deal as a rookie. And, Travis Homer was fine last year in his limited snaps at the end of the season when everyone else was injured. I have the utmost confidence in all of these guys to be able to do what this team needs to do.

All of that sounds great! Why aren’t I 100% confident in the Seahawks’ offense improving over last year?

Well, the offensive line, of course! I’ll say this: I’m relatively optimistic about the O-Line at least being AS good as last year, if not actually better. But, I mean, let’s face it: there’s a lot of question marks. Duane Brown is old and his legs could give out at any time. Mike Iupati is also old and his everything could give out at any time. Ethan Pocic has been injured throughout his brief NFL career and has never started at center in the pros. Damien Lewis is a rookie, and a rookie who hasn’t even played in a pre-season game yet! Also, he’s essentially “won” his job as this team’s starting right guard by facing off against this team’s interior defensive linemen, who aren’t really a who’s who of outstanding stud-muffins when compared to the rest of the NFL; I mean, I’m pretty sure I could win a starting O-Line job if all I had to do was block this inept D-Line! And, while reports indicate Brandon Shell has been great as this team’s big right tackle free agent acquisition, the statheads who’ve monitored his career up to this point have indicated that he SUCKED at his job previously. So, you know, again take what he’s done in Training Camp against this Seahawks D-Line with a grain of salt.

The lack of a pre-season is the most concerning aspect, because offensive lines need continuity and actual game reps to get used to working together as a unit. As such, I would expect this first month’s worth of games to be a little rough to watch. It’ll be nice that they won’t have to deal with real-life crowd noise when we play in Atlanta this week (the packed stands would be significantly louder than the decibels the NFL is allowing teams to pump into their stadia), but I’m more concerned with our actual opponents, and how quickly they’re able to snuff out Russell Wilson’s pocket passing and scrambling.

The bright side is, if Duane Brown stays healthy, he’s a Pro Bowler. Mike Iupati – same deal – is at least a viable starter, if not a Pro Bowler. Pocic won the center’s job for a reason, he played the position in college, so maybe he’s turned a corner in his career. Lewis was an absolute mauler in college and it’s a great sign that the coaches are already confident in his ability to start at this level in game one. And, at least Shell isn’t Germain Ifedi (YOU get a silver lining, and YOU get a silver lining, and YOU get a silver lining!).

My hunch is, the O-Line will be fine, after a while. I just hope the rest of the offense is able to overcome these first few games on the schedule; I don’t like our chances if we start the season in a big hole respective to the rest of our division. But, if the O-Line turns out to be … *gulp* legitimately good? The sky will be the limit for this offense, even as conservative as it is!

***

The defense is significantly better in the secondary than it was to start the 2019 season. The defense is marginally better in the linebacker corps than it was in 2019.

And, the defensive line is the biggest question mark on this team, though I think it’s safe to say we all believe it’ll be significantly worse than it was in 2019 (which, itself, was already pretty bad).

So, the question is: can the vastly improved secondary make up for everything else? I think there’s a chance!

The 2019 Seahawks famously played somewhere over 60% base defense, which means having all three linebackers on the field. In a league that increasingly uses nickel defense (a fifth man in the secondary, to replace one of the linebackers, thus providing better coverage for offenses who trend toward using more 3- and 4-wide receiver sets), that was an unsustainable anomaly for the Seahawks to continue into 2020. That brings us to Quinton Dunbar – the troubled youth from the Florida area who was arrested, then ultimately not charged, and now rumors are swirling that he may still be in trouble for that house party robbery – taking over for Tre Flowers (who has struggled mightily in one-on-one coverage in his two-year career), who could slide inside to play that nickel role. That also brings us to Marquise Blair – the safety we drafted last year, who hardly played, even though he seemed to be more gifted than the duds we were rolling with – who has flashed during Training Camp as a bigger nickel corner that this team can use against slower/bigger receivers and tight ends. That also brings us to Ugo Amadi – another rookie corner/safety from last year – who has another year’s experience exclusively in the nickel corner role. All of these guys combined with our Pro Bowl corner in Shaquill Griffin, and our two stud safeties in Jamal Adams and Quandre Diggs, make it almost impossible for the Seahawks to not constantly run out the nickel defense we were so bad at a year ago!

That should, in turn, leave Bruce Irvin (a hybrid strong-side linebacker/pass rusher) in more situations where he can line up along the line of scrimmage and rush the passer. That should also free up Bobby Wagner to do some more blitzing from his middle linebacker role (a trait he is quite good at, but wasn’t able to do as much of last year, because he was forced into coverage so often with this team always in base defense). The addition of Jordyn Brooks could also free K.J. Wright up to rush from the other linebacker spot, so long as he proves he’s ready to take over at weak-side linebacker. And, of course, there’s Jamal Adams’ ability to blitz from the strong safety spot, where he had 6.5 sacks a year ago.

If you want to know where our pass rush will come from with Jadeveon Clowney now in Tennessee, don’t just look at Benson Mayowa (who is a fine situational rusher, but obviously nowhere NEARLY as talented as Clowney as an every-down defensive end), look at the linebackers who will be freed to run up field more, thanks to the secondary that will finally have everyone’s backs … in the defensive backfield. And, if Jarran Reed from the interior felt like returning to his 2018 level of production (when he had double-digit sacks), all the better.

That’s sort of the best-case scenario from this side of the ball (failing the Seahawks going out and signing one of the free agent veterans (like Clay Matthews) that are sitting out there). How realistic is it that we’ll see it play out the way I’ve described? That’s tough to say. I do believe the secondary will free things up for the rest of the guys, but I have my sincere doubts about the coaching staff’s willingness to blitz more from the linebacker position. We like to get by with our front four on most downs, and with a front five on passing downs. That has proven, in recent years (without the likes of Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril), to be a pretty futile endeavor. I would LIKE to think we’ve refrained from excessive blitzing because we’ve been worried about being beaten deep – and now that we have talent back there to prevent this, the coaches will be more emboldened to take more chances – but I know that this team was reluctant to blitz a ton even when we had the Legion of Boom in its prime.

If my hunch is accurate, then we’re banking on A LOT of unproven young defensive linemen to take significant leaps in their level of production, and I just don’t see that happening. I have no faith in Rasheem Green, L.J. Collier, Alton Robinson, or any of these other guys doing anything in the league outside of being rotational backups. The only guy I DO like – Darrell Taylor – is still working himself back from injury and, without a proper Training Camp or pre-season, likely won’t produce much of anything this year as a rookie.

There’s ultimately two schools of thought: either the secondary will be so good that it’ll give the defensive line enough time to get to the quarterback … or the defensive line will be so bad that eventually the opposing quarterback will find SOMEONE who manages to get open, after he has all day to stand there and survey the field. Undoubtedly, both of those events will be true at various points throughout the season (there will also be the infrequent instances where the secondary just gets beaten, or someone on the D-Line manages to beat his man and gets the opposing QB on his ass), but how good this defense will be depends on which scenario happens more often: the secondary dominating, or the D-Line underwhelming. I’m guessing we end up blaming the D-Line for their ineptitude more than we end up praising the secondary, and we’ll ultimately come to the conclusion that if this mediocre defense didn’t have that secondary, we’d be giving up 35+ points per game. Chances seem remote that this defense creeps up towards the Top Ten; my guess is it lands ultimately in the low twenties.

***

The 2019 Seahawks participated in 14 games that were decided by 8 points or less, including our playoff win and defeat, and the regular season finale that ultimately cost us the NFC West (and forced us to go on the road throughout the post-season). Including the playoffs, the 2019 Seahawks were 11-3 in those games (prior to that, in the Russell Wilson era, I believe we were somewhere around .500 in such games). That has been pointed out by much smarter people than me to be quite an unsustainable winning percentage (most teams, over the long-term, finish around .500 in one-score games).

Given what we know – the offense will be better or the same, the defense will be the same or worse – it’s a VERY safe bet that the 2020 Seahawks will be involved in a high number of one-score games yet again (only in the very unlikely best-case scenario – where both the offense and defense are better than they were last year – would this not be true, because the Seahawks would likely be very nearly undefeated). And, given what we know about regression, I think it’s pretty safe to bet that the Seahawks won’t repeat as winners of nearly 79% of those games.

However, people much smarter than me also love to quote the Gambler’s Fallacy, and I think this applies here as well. Just because the Seahawks won 11/14 one-score games in 2019, doesn’t mean the 2020 Seahawks can’t win a similar amount; what happened in 2019 has little-to-no bearing on what happens in 2020. If anything, you could argue that by participating in so many of those close games – where the importance of executing down the stretch in the fourth quarter and overtime is of the greatest necessity – and by bringing back so many of the players who were involved in those games, this team is uniquely qualified to perform better in these situations given their level of experience.

So, are you an optimist or a pessimist? I probably land somewhere in the middle.

I will say this: much has been made of Letting Russ Cook and whatnot. In effect: allowing Russell Wilson to throw the ball more early in games, rather than forcing the establishment of the run and waiting until we’re down two scores in the second half before we let our All Pro quarterback do his thing. While it’s true, the Seahawks love a balanced offense between the run and pass, it’s not like they’re doing nothing but handing the ball to Carson and handcuffing Wilson in the process; he has PLENTY of first half opportunities to throw the ball. It just so happens – and I don’t mean to alarm you or anything – but he tends to be WILDLY off-target early in games! This is nothing we haven’t seen for YEARS now, yet most fans seem to forget this for some reason! I’ve lost track of the number of times Wilson has overthrown wide open receivers early in games, because he isn’t warmed up or hasn’t gotten into the flow of the game. There are also drives where the Seahawks don’t run the ball at all! Those tend to be of the 3 & Out variety, because again, it’s early and Wilson isn’t quite his usual self.

Russell Wilson is great – I said before, he’s #2 in the league for me, which is a great compliment – but he’s NOT perfect! And, it’s not ALL on the offensive coordinator or Pete Carroll holding him back; some of these wounds are self-inflicted. If Wilson were more on-target from the very first drive of the game, we wouldn’t be having this discussion about always needing to make big plays in the fourth quarter, or otherwise always playing from behind. This isn’t to delegitimize Wilson’s greatness, but it is a knock, and more fans need to recognize it. And, instead of being increasingly vocal about wanting to cook more, Wilson needs to admit that some of this is on him too. Be better in the first quarter, and you’ll have all the cooking opportunities you can handle!

***

Before I go, let me take another quick look at the schedule. It looks … scarier than I remember.

The NFC West is obviously the best division in football from top to bottom; there isn’t an easy game in the bunch. So, right there, that’s six hard-fought grudge matches. The AFC East is no cakewalk in itself. Buffalo (on the road) is an elite team; New England (at home) with Cam Newton shouldn’t drop off too much from the playoff team it was a season ago; Miami (on the road) finished 2019 strong and has a lot of young up-and-comers, with a great coaching staff; the only easy game in the bunch is probably against the Jets (at home). Everyone else in that division is – at best, for the Seahawks – a 50/50 affair.

The NFC East looks less potent, but Dallas (at home) should be strong, the Eagles (on the road) should at least contend for a playoff spot, the Giants (at home) could be frisky if we’re not careful (but we should still win that one pretty easily), and the Washington Football Team (on the road) should be a disaster. Then, there’s the Minnesota Vikings (who I am VERY high on, per my prediction that they’ll win it all this season), and the Atlanta Falcons this upcoming Sunday.

The Falcons are probably a team we should beat, but they’ve got a good offense and a lot of continuity in general. They might not need a whole lot from their defense to keep us in check out of the gate. I’m a firm believer that this will be a true 50/50 game that comes down to some key moments in the fourth quarter. And, honestly, I have my doubts that we can go down to Atlanta and prevail. I think, like many of our games down there in recent years, we’ll come up short in the final minute.

This game could be a real tone-setter for the Seahawks in 2020. Win convincingly, and I think the Seahawks could contend for a division title and more. Win a squeaker, and I think we’re looking at MAYBE contending for a division title, but more likely just a wild card spot and maybe a playoff win before being ousted. Lose a squeaker, and I think the division is probably out of reach by a game or two, with an outside possibility that we’re boxed out of the playoffs entirely. Lose convincingly, and we might be in for an 8-8 type of season, or maybe worse.

I say this because, in looking at our first five games before the BYE week, we go on the road to Atlanta and Miami, and we host three really strong teams in the Pats, Cowboys, and Vikings. Lose to Atlanta, and there’s a very real chance that we could be in a 1-4 hole to start the season (and that’s before we’ve played a single divisional game). When you figure over half our remaining games will be those aforementioned grudge matches, and we’ve also got road games against the Bills and Eagles to contend with, that’s a pretty scary picture. If we start out at 1-4, we have to go 9-2 the rest of the way to get to 10 wins (which you would assume is safe for a wild card spot). I’m not saying that’s impossible; I’m not even saying that’s something we haven’t seen from these Seahawks before. But, how many times do you want to tempt fate like that?

Of course, we’ll know more about the rest of the league after we get a few weeks into the season. Under normal circumstances, I’m far from the best pre-season judge of NFL talent; without any pre-season games or stories to read about, I have even less of a clue! But, I do hear analysts talking about how “easy” of a schedule the Seahawks have this year, and I’d look to shy away from comments like those until we’ve actually seen these teams play ball. Until we’ve seen the Seahawks play ball!

Ultimately, as I said before, I think the Seahawks will be a 7-seed in the NFC. They might win a game in the Wild Card round, but I think that’ll be as far as we go. In that sense, with this being squarely in the window of Russell Wilson’s prime, what I’m telling you is that I’m predicting another disappointing season from the Seattle Seahawks in 2020.

And, since my two biggest concerns are the defensive and offensive lines, what I’m also telling you is that our long-term prospects probably aren’t all that great either. We might end up squandering ALL of Russell Wilson’s prime, before we somehow luck into another legitimate championship run before he closes out his Hall of Fame career.

Has the year 2020 made you insanely unhappy and/or depressed? Well, WELCOME to my Seahawks Season Preview Extravaganza! Abandon all fucking hope!