Seahawks Death Week: Ranking The Holes To Fill

It’s not all sunshine and puppydog noses in Seahawksland after an unexpected playoff berth in 2018. True, the floor was not as far down as we all thought coming off a disappointing 2017, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty of work to do. Here’s my ranking of the holes the Seahawks need to fill heading into the 2019 season, from most important to least.

#1 – Safety

Bradley McDougald is locked up through 2020, at a relative bargain for what he brought to the table when he was healthy the last couple years. The best part about B McD is he can play either strong or free safety, which is crucial because I’m making this position not only the most important to shore up in the offseason, but the biggest priority for the upcoming NFL Draft. That doesn’t NECESSARILY mean I need the Seahawks to use a first round pick on one; but I need for whoever they do end up drafting to hit and hit big for this defense to work. Ideally, we’d find a more capable Earl Thomas replacement at free safety, and slide McDougald over to strong safety, where he’s probably better suited to play. Sure, keep Tedric Thompson and Delano Hill around as depth/competition, but we can’t be counting on them longterm, not with what little improvement we saw over the course of the 2018 season.

#2 – Defensive End 2

DE 1 is obviously Frank Clark, and he’s coming back one way or another (either via a longterm extension, or a franchise tag). The real need is at that end spot opposite Clark. I like Jacob Martin an awful lot based on what he was able to do as a rookie, but at this point in his career he’s more of a rotational guy, and this team needs veteran stability at the other pass rusher spot. Ideally, there will be a stud free agent or two out on the open market, like in 2013 when we were able to sign Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett. I don’t know who the 2018 equivalent is, but that’s my idea.

#3 – Guards

This is most easily remedied by re-signing Fluker & Sweezy. I could see one of them maybe moving on, but losing both feels unrealistic. Behind them, we have Pocic and Simmons, a bust and an injury waiting to happen. I like Pocic and Simmons as depth right now more than I like handing them the job out of Training Camp, even though both are younger and with higher ceilings. Could the Seahawks get by with those two? Sure, but I don’t want to know what kind of growing pains this offense needs to go through to make it happen. Just bring back Fluker & Sweezy.

#4 – Weakside Linebacker

K.J. Wright is as good as gone, so this spot could certainly use some shoring up. At this point, we don’t know if Kendricks slots better at this spot or the strong side, but that’s certainly an option. Austin Calitro, I thought, acquitted himself well in his fill-in duty. The draft could also be an option, though obviously not with a high pick. Regardless, there’s going to be an immediate drop-off from the longtime quality we got from Wright; the idea is to not fall too far off his level.

#5 – Kicker

It’s time to do it up right. Ideally, we would’ve solved this puzzle in 2018 with Jason Myers, but we opted to go for the old man, which was fine for the short term, but a disaster overall. Kicker is a tricky thing to fix, as they’re so varied from year to year. Is there an elite leg coming out of college like Michael Dickson last year? God, I hope so.

#6 – Defensive Tackle 2 (or 3)

Jarran Reed has distinguished himself as a bona fide every-down DT in this league. Given his pass rush ability, he has certainly proven he’s more than just a widebody nose tackle. And, with the emergence of Poona Ford as a run stopping machine (and ostensibly the only one on the entire line), you could easily slide him into the starting nose tackle spot, meaning we need a third guy who can sort of do both, stop the run and maybe rush the passer a little. Really, we’re looking for a cheap, veteran, Tony McDaniel type, but GOD DAMMIT we need to fix the run defense from day 1!

#7 – Wide Receiver 3 (or 4)

David Moore could assert himself into this role, but he really disappeared toward the end of 2018 after a delightful start, so everything is up in the air with him right now. Jaron Brown picked things up in his place, but honestly he finished the year with 14 receptions on 19 targets, and his cap hit goes up to nearly $4 million in 2019, which is too much for what he’s bringing to the table. Better to get out from under that and bring in someone cheaper and better if we can.

#8 – Strongside Linebacker

Barkevious Mingo is signed through 2019, at a cap hit of $4.4 million, which isn’t outrageous, but he was another guy who disappeared toward the end of the season. I feel like his spot could be better filled by someone younger and cheaper, probably in the draft.

#9 – Cornerback 3 (or 4)

You’d think I’d have this higher, since I’m essentially begging the team to re-sign Justin Coleman. But, the Seahawks always seem to find a way to get by with whoever they put over there. Ideally, Coleman is extended while they also draft (late) his future replacement. Akeem King should be back too, which gives us nice depth, as I thought he played pretty well down the stretch.

#10 – Running Back 3

Figure Carson is your RB 1 and Penny will elevate to RB 2, this is your Mike Davis spot, only probably younger and cheaper.

#11 – Quarterback 2

Don’t go breaking the bank on Brett Hundley, that’s all I’m saying. Really, don’t break the bank on anyone. In any scenario where Russell Wilson goes down, it’s tank-city.

#12 – Tight End

Vannett is still on his rookie deal through 2019 and he’s fine. Dissly should be back to 100% by Training Camp, so he’s also fine. Ed Dickson, however, sees his cap hit triple over the next two years. He’s ostensibly TE 1, but he had only 12 catches on 13 targets, so I’m not convinced that’s worthy of over $4 million per year, regardless of what he brings to the table with his blocking. Seems like we could get by with the other two and bring in another cheap vet.

Seahawks Death Week: What Did We Figure Out?

Heading into 2018, there were question marks across the board with the Seahawks. Could we develop a running game outside of Russell Wilson? Could we develop a pass rush? Would our secondary hold together? How would our new coordinators fit in? Could we develop enough young talent to push this team in the right direction for 2019 and beyond?

It felt like at least a 2-year project before we’d see the playoffs again, so to make it back in Year 1 feels like playing with house money at this point. So, let’s take a look at what went right, in no particular order:

Running Backs

In 2018, infamously the leading running back for this team was Russell Wilson with 586 yards. The next-closest back was Mike Davis with 240. The only player to run for a touchdown not named Russell Wilson was J.D. McKissic, who had 1 all year. So, you can understand why the Seahawks put so much into re-emphasizing this part of the game.

In 2019, Russell Wilson was 4th on this team in rushing yards, much more in line with where he SHOULD be. We used a first round draft pick – after trading down to acquire more picks – on Rashaad Penny, who had an underwhelming rookie season with only 419 yards (3rd on the team), but he also had the third-most attempts and actually led the group in yards per carry with 4.9. Penny didn’t come out of the gates guns blazing, as there was more of a learning curve for him as he adjusted to the NFL, but he did show flashes of brilliance and that big-play ability we brought him in here for. I don’t know if he’ll ever be a Pro Bowler, or just a nice role player, but his Sophomore campaign should tell quite a bit about where his pro career is headed.

Returning as this team’s #2 running back was Mike Davis, who showed his usual reliability and professionalism. This is a rock-solid #2 guy that I’d never have any qualms about making the occasional spot start for an injured player; he’s a huge upgrade over Robert Turbin, for instance. He ended up with 514 yards on a 4.6 average. It appears Davis will be a Free Agent next year, so hopefully we can bring him back at the right price. Though, I guess we’ll see; with the money we have in Penny, we might want to spend the minimum at a spot where there’s a 3-headed monster.

Chris Carson returned from an injury in 2018 and should really be in the running for Comeback Player of the Year. He led the Seahawks with 1,151 yards on a 4.7 yard average with a whopping 9 touchdowns. He’s the first 1,000-yard rusher for the Seahawks since Beastmode in 2014, and let me tell you, he looked A LOT like our future Ring of Honor stud. We were a different team with Carson on the field, as he bowled and jumped over opposing players with regularity.

Overall, I’d say the position is set for 2019, though it’ll be ultra-set if we bring back Davis.

Pass Rush

The Seahawks were tied for 13th in 2017 with 39.0 sacks (league-leading Pittsburgh had 56.0), which was okay, but obviously not great. We improved to being tied for 11th in 2018 with 43.0 sacks (league-leading Pittsburgh & Kansas City had 52.0) which is a step in the right direction, though we could always be better.

Frank Clark led the way with 14.0 sacks; he’s also set to be a free agent in 2019. The Seahawks are saying all the right things about bringing him back on a long-term extension, though they’re also looking to re-up Wilson and a few others, so they’ve got their work cut out for them. Regardless, the franchise tag is in our pocket, and Clark’s already on record as saying he’d welcome the challenge of playing on the tag, thereby having his value skyrocket if he stays healthy and performs as he did this year. He also could, theoretically, still improve, particularly with better pieces around him, so we may just be scratching the surface with him. Either way, this was a HUGE step forward for a guy a lot of people wondered about. I don’t know if I ever expected him to perform at this level, so it’s great to see!

Even more shocking was what Jarran Reed was able to do in his third season as an interior lineman. He went from 1.5 sacks in each of his first two years to a whopping 10.5 sacks in 2018, which is just an astronomical leap! That’s Cortez Kennedy-level ball-busting! He’s another guy this team needs to keep around for the long term.

After those two, it drops off considerably. The next-highest guy was Quinton Jefferson with 3, and he’s just a rotation guy at best. Rookie Jacob Martin also had 3 sacks, which is encouraging for a high-motor guy still developing his NFL body. It’ll be interesting to see what strides he’s able to make between Year 1 and Year 2.

Rasheem Green was the other highly-touted rookie who had only 1 sack this year, and often found himself as a healthy scratch by season’s end. He was always going to be something of a project, so it’s not surprising, but it is a little disappointing. He was never going to have as much opportunity as 2018, considering you have to figure the Seahawks are planning on pouring big money into the area for next year.

Overall, we’ve got two studs, one maybe, and a lot of filler. While this area was better than I expected heading into the year – as I expected this team to totally fall off the cliff – our stars stayed healthy and produced. Now, it’s just a matter of filling in with better talent around those stars.

Secondary

This was always going to be a challenge, with Kam essentially forced into retirement, with Earl holding out, then playing disgruntled, then being lost for the year to injury. And, of course, the Seahawks waived Richard Sherman, which pushed Shaquill Griffin over to his side of the field as the team’s primary cornerback. For all the grief I gave him about that playoff game, I thought Griffin was fine. At times he was a solid tackler, but he also appeared to be out of position every so often, and took bad angles on tackles. He also finished with only 2 interceptions, which is pretty weak for the team’s primary corner. He’s not going anywhere in 2019, so let’s hope he makes a major jump in his performance in Year 3.

The other cornerback spot appeared to change hands multiple times heading into the 2018 season. Byron Maxwell looked to have the inside track, but he came in injured and never made the team. Other veterans were vetted, but the job ended up in the hands of rookie Tre Flowers, who took it and ran with it. There were the expected growing pains, but he really picked it up over the second half of the season, and looks to be a solid cog in this secondary. He didn’t get any picks, but you have to figure those will come with experience.

With both of our starting safeties out, Bradley McDougald really held this whole thing together. He’s a solid veteran who was playing at a Pro Bowl level for a while, but appeared to break down by season’s end. With him, Tedric Thompson and Delano Hill got their chances to make their marks on this team in their second seasons, but both of them were pretty hit or miss. You have to think the experience was nothing but a positive for them, but they’ll still have to parlay it into 2019 and make significant jumps if they want to be here long term.

I have to think the Seahawks will be looking in the draft for another primo safety. While we’re not set yet, it’s good to see the secondary playing as well as they did this season. They might not have showed out with the turnovers as the L.O.B. did when they hit the scene, but they limited big plays and kept this team in ballgames, which is all you can ask for. I’d also like to see the team extend Justin Coleman long-term, as he’s still one of the better nickel corners in this league.

Tight End

Jimmy Graham was thankfully sent packing, and in his place the team actually improved. Who knew?

Oh yeah, we all knew.

Will Dissly made a HUGE impact in Week 1, then got hurt and was lost for the season. Considering he was the best blocking tight end in the draft last year, and with his offense being better than anticipated, he looks like he’ll be an awesome weapon next year, assuming he returns from injury okay.

Nick Vannett really stepped up in his absence, in his 3rd season in the NFL. He had career highs in receptions, yards, and touchdowns. They weren’t super-amazing or anything (29, 269, 3), but this team doesn’t NEED a Jimmy Graham-like tight end to be effective offensively. I am perfectly happy with those numbers from our 2016 third round draft pick.

Ed Dickson was a free agent signee, and he didn’t make a huge impact either – actually finishing with fewer yards than Dissly, thanks to his own injury issues to start the season – but he had some big plays here and there, and still chipped in 3 TDs of his own. Combined, the TE position had 8 touchdowns on the season (51 catches for 600 yards, if you count George Fant, which I absolutely do!), which is perfectly fine for what little resources we’ve pumped into the position. You don’t need superstars at tight end to have a winning offense.

Tight end is set, assuming Dissly is back to 100%.

Offensive Line

The O-Line was the biggest question mark heading into the season, and thankfully it eventually turned into one of this team’s biggest strengths. Duane Brown was a Second Team All Pro at left tackle, Justin Britt brought his usual solidness at the center position, and Germain Ifedi made a big leap in his third year to finally become a passable right tackle. There were some growing pains at the guard spots – arguably the most important spots on the entire O-Line for a team with a Russell Wilson at quarterback – but after the second game, when J.R. Sweezy took over on the left side and D.J. Fluker took over on the right, they finally morphed into a cohesive, solid unit.

The downside is both Sweezy and Fluker are free agents heading into 2019. They’re also getting up there in age, and seemingly always face a litany of injuries. While that should theoretically keep their costs down, it’s hard to ignore the strides this team made when both of them were healthy. As such, you have to figure they’re in store for raises over the $1.5 million each of them made in 2018.

Beyond those two, Ethan Pocic was a disaster. He started those first two games we lost (when couldn’t do a damn thing offensively), and every time he took the field late in the season, the offense took an immediate step back. I don’t know if he’s undersized, incompetent, or both, but he’s got A LOT of work to do if he’s aiming to return to the starting five. As a second round pick already in his second year, with plenty of experience under his belt already, this is NOT trending well.

Jordan Simmons, however, was a revelation when he stepped in for Fluker! He’s a big ol’ mauler in Fluker’s image, but his season ended prematurely with injury. Combine that with the fact that he spent most of his college career injured, and I don’t think he’s someone we can count on long term. As a fill-in, backup type guy, though, it’s nice to know he’s around.

Joey Hunt is heading into free agency; he’s not someone I’d mind if we kept around or not. He looks undersized, and at this point Pocic might only be able to salvage his career if he backs up Britt at center, so Hunt is probably a luxury this team doesn’t need. He could still develop into a quality starter somewhere, but probably not here.

Finally, the aforementioned George Fant had quite a bit of playing time. He was often a sixth lineman this team implemented when we wanted to pound the rock, and once in a while found himself running routes (with his lone catch being a highlight of the season). He filled in for Ifedi late in the year – with Ifedi sliding over to guard for an injured Fluker – and that didn’t go so great. But, I would still expect him back, as I can’t imagine there’s going to be a huge bidding war for Fant.

Conclusion

With an elite quarterback, an elite middle linebacker, two elite wide receivers, and some nice pieces noted above, this is a team that’s heading in the right direction for another playoff run in 2019. How they spend their money in free agency will ultimately determine if this team’s going to contend for a division title. There are still quite a bit of holes left to fill, so it should be interesting.

Not Winners & Losers Of The Seahawks’ Game Against The Chiefs

Thanks to the Redskins losing on Saturday, the Seahawks clinched a wild card spot with their win over the Chiefs Sunday night. It was a 38-31 thriller that saw the Seahawks play as efficiently on offense as they have all season, with just enough in the tank defensively to keep the Chiefs at bay. There’s a lot of praise to throw around, so let’s get to it!

What I’m Geeked Out About After Fifteen Games

I don’t know if you’re going to find a better example of how elite the Seahawks’ passing game can be than in this one. Again, as usual, the numbers aren’t mind-blowing. Russell Wilson threw for only 271 yards, but that’s also on only 18 completions and 29 attempts (for a 9.3 yard average). There were too many deep throws to count, and seemingly everything was with the precision of an all-time great. Wilson was absolutely phenomenal, and that game was yet another showcase of why he deserves to be in the MVP discussion. Also, Doug Baldwin was a man possessed! And Tyler Lockett continues to be one of the most underrated receivers in the league, both with his big plays, but also his ability to draw flags that help move the chains. The Seahawks were 7/14 on third down, and so much of that had to do with the passing game coming up HUGE on some long-distance third downs.

Other Things That Caught My Eye (In A Good Way)

Chris Carson: 27 carries for 116 yards and 2 TDs. Ed Dickson with a TD and an 18-yard reception on third & long to keep the team going. Russell Wilson’s legs, which ran for 57 yards on 8 carries.

Defensively, again, Bobby Wagner was all over the place with 12 tackles. Bradley McDougald stepped up huge with Tedric Thompson on the shelf, while nursing injuries of his own. Dion Jordan flashed on a bunch of plays, coming up with a sack, a forced fumble, 5 tackles (2 for loss), and a couple quarterback hits.

I thought the secondary really stepped up. You’re never going to stop a team like the Chiefs from doing what they want to do, but if you can make it difficult on them, that’s all I can really ask for. Tyreek Hill is such an explosive weapon, so to hold him to 4 catches for 74 yards is pretty great. Even better was holding Travis Kelce to 5 catches and only 54 yards. Sure, Mahomes had 273 yards and 3 TDs, but he had to throw it 40 times to Russell’s 29, while completing 23 to Russell’s 18. The Seahawks are doing more with less, and that’s why we’re so tough to beat.

Other Things That Caught My Eye (In A Bad Way)

It’s Christmas Eve and I shouldn’t have to be at work today, so I’m wrapping this up soon. I’ll say this: the rush defense wasn’t spectacular, and I worry about that in the playoffs. I’m sure I’ll have more to say on that topic another time.

Also, the special teams gave up another monster return, and Janikowski missed a field goal and got hurt on another missed field goal (that was converted to a first down on a roughing the kicker penalty). I hope between now and next week, Janikowski gets ALL the shitty kicks out of his system, so he can have a perfect post-season, otherwise I might lose my fucking mind.

Not Winners & Losers Of The Seahawks’ Game At The 49ers

Welp, you knew we’d see another one of those stupid games from the Seahawks.  They always have a few of them, sprinkled throughout a season, and it was just a matter of When and not If it was going to happen again.  Turns out, it was in Santa Clara, during a soggy, rain-soaked game, where they nipped us 26-23 in overtime.  Sometimes, the better team doesn’t win; that’ll happen when the better team commits the most penalty yardage in franchise history.  Let’s get this over with.

What I’m Geeked Out About After Fourteen Games

Chris Carson had an absolute MONSTER football game, and one I’m afraid is going to be forgotten given the outcome.  With Penny out with injury, and while playing most of the game with our 3rd string right guard, Carson racked up 22 carries for 119 yards and one of the beastliest touchdowns on 4th & goal from the 1 that you’ll ever see!  Everything about this game was sloppy … except for Carson, who was electric and dynamic and fantastic!

Other Things That Caught My Eye (In A Good Way)

It wasn’t a blowout.  There were SOME good things in this game, even if it ended poorly.

Jarran Reed, for instance, had his Coming Out party that no one saw because the rest of the football-watching world was focused on the Steelers/Patriots game on CBS.  He was a man among boys, doing his best Aaron Donald impression, with 3 tackles, 2 sacks, 2 tackles for loss, and 4 hits on the quarterback.  And at VERY key points in the game, where the Seahawks absolutely could NOT give up any more points!  He has 8.5 sacks on the season now, as he’s looking to get PAID.

As expected, the defense buckled down in the second half (after giving up 17 points in the first, and it would’ve been more had it not been for 2 deep over-throws of George Kittle), holding the 49ers to 9 points (including overtime).  So, some shoutouts are in order:  Frank Clark with a sack, Poona Ford being a stud in the middle (third on the team in tackles with 6), and Bradley McDougald (before he got injured and went out for most of the game) with an early forced fumble.

Offensively, a tip of the cap to Doug Baldwin with his 2 TDs, as he was a welcome sight.

Finally, good on Michael Dickson for having an excellent punting day, aside from a couple that found the endzone.

Let’s Talk About Penalties

14 penalties for 148.  Most of them were legit.  Sweezy stunk.  Simmons stunk.  Ifedi had one at a bad point in the game.  #17 had the worst, most pointless block in the back I’ve ever seen on a punt late in the game.  Most of these were legit!  

But, this fucking referee crew had NO FUCKING CLUE what Pass Interference was, and kept throwing flag after flag when a no-call was warranted.  The one late on Shaq Griffin was the most horse-shit call I’ve seen all year, and that’s NOT an exaggeration.  I don’t know if it cost us the game – as we certainly were capable of blowing it in other ways – but it DID give the game to the 49ers.  So, good job refs, you fucking wastes of space.

Other Things That Caught My Eye (In A Bad Way)

The Seahawks lost this game when Ethan Pocic lined up for an injured Jordan Simmons, period.  That guy is a BUST!  One more gentle Fuck You from Tom Cable, the worst O-Line coach (and talent evaluator) in franchise history.  As soon as the camera pointed to Pocic, and I saw how much SMALLER he looks than Fluker or Simmons, I knew we were fucked.  He’s just not big enough to play the interior line, as he was getting eaten alive all game, and had to hold on for dear life just to keep our guys from getting killed!  And, when he didn’t hold … yep, you guessed it, immediate pressure.  The Calling Card of a Tom Cable offensive line.  No WONDER Pocic hasn’t played at all since Sweezy got healthy!  Pocic is not the future; he’s destined to be a backup, and this team is going to have to do a lot of work this offseason to make sure the interior of the line is shored up.

As long as Pocic is in there, this offensive line is going to look A LOT like it did in weeks 1 and 2.  Everyone always talks about the Come To Jesus meeting about running the football as the reason for the Seahawks’ turnaround this season, but no one talks about Pocic, and how he was the root cause for all the bad line play those two games.  Fuck that guy, I hope our other guards get well soon!

Also, wouldn’t this game have been interesting if Janikowski hit that extra point?  Or if he made any attempt whatsoever to tackle that guy who ran it back for a touchdown?

Not Winners & Losers Of The Seahawks’ Game Against The Packers

The Seahawks temporarily saved their season with a 27-24 victory over the Packers.  The win brought us back to .500 at 5-5, while the Pack fell to 4-5-1, with their playoff chances taking a significant hit.  The Seahawks were down 14-3 early, but rallied in the second quarter and put the game away in the final frame with some rock-solid defense and just enough big plays on offense.

What I’m Geeked Out About After Ten Games

I haven’t gotten to say this a lot this year, but what a game by the defense!  The Packers were up 21-17 at halftime, but only scored 3 points the rest of the way.  Just fantastic!  I was convinced we’d never see anything even remotely resembling a pass rush, but here we ended up with 5 sacks on the day, generally making Aaron Rodgers’ life miserable.  Frank Clark, of course, led the way with 2 sacks.  He’s already got 10 on the year, tying his previous career high from 2016, with 6 more games to go.  That man is going to make a TON of money this offseason.  Maybe even more importantly, Jacob Martin and Rasheem Green both had their first career sacks as the young guys work their way into the rotation.  And, while he was held sackless, Bobby Wagner led the way with 9 tackles and was a dominant force all game.

Other Things That Caught My Eye (In A Good Way)

Russell Wilson overcame a slow start to go 21/31 for 225 and 2 TDs against 0 INTs.  For the season, he’s hitting 66.2% of his passes for 2,192 yards, 23 TDs and only 5 INTs, which is good for a 110.2 rating.  That’s Top 5 Elite Quarterback shit!

Chris Carson also overcame a slow start – fumbling on the first play of the game – to run for 83 yards on 17 carries with a TD.  The rest of the rotation was similarly on top of their games; Penny had 46 yards on 8 carries, as he’s looking more and more like the guy we wasted spent a first round pick on; and Davis chipped in with 26 yards on 4 carries, mostly on our clock-killing 4:20 drive to close out the game.  All told, the team managed 173 more yards on the ground in this one, with a 4.9 average.  Not giving Aaron Rodgers the ball back with the game on the line?  Absolutely the reason we won the game.

A tip of the hat to the big 3 receivers, as Baldwin got his first TD of the year (along with 52 yards on 7 catches), Moore had four big catches for 57 yards, and Lockett led the way with 71 yards on 5 catches.  To top it all off, Ed Dickson had his 2nd TD of the season, and the game-winner as it turns out.

Other Things That Caught My Eye (In A Bad Way)

The big problem area in this one ended up being the secondary.  Too many deep balls down field, which the elimination of is supposed to be this team’s specialty.  And no one was immune.  Shaq Griffin bit hard on one, Tre Flowers was routinely challenged, Bradley McDougald gave up a long TD, and even Justin Coleman got in on the action of getting beat.  Not to be outdone, Austin Calitro got the start for K.J. Wright and I really thought that was going to cost us the game, as the Packers got the better of him seemingly the entire first half.  Now, obviously, Aaron Rodgers is going to make a lot of secondaries around the league look pretty foolish on the regular, but it’s particularly alarming to see the young guys continue to repeat the same mistakes.

The good news is, we got through this one without a bevy of new injuries.  Now, with 10 days to prepare for a HUGE showdown in Carolina, let’s hope the team is able to take advantage of this scheduling gift.

Not Winners & Losers Of The Seahawks’ Game At The Rams

Aside from falling short at the end, that’s as good as I had any right to expect this game to go.  The Seahawks ran the ball – without Chris Carson, without D.J. Fluker (who I thought was the bigger of the two injury inactives for this team, considering the opponent) – better than they have all year, 273 yards on 34 carries; they kept the game close all day, and in the end they got the ball back with around 90 seconds, one touchdown away from winning it outright.  On top of which, the Seahawks drove to the Rams’ 35 yard line with just under a minute to go before the drive stalled.  It was all right there, and we just couldn’t punch it in.  Again, I take no solace from a moral victory; yes, it shows the Seahawks are on the right track and closer to returning to their championship window than we thought, but there’s still a huge talent discrepancy between us and the elite teams in the NFL.  In other words, there’s a lot of work left to do.  This isn’t a reincarnation of the 2012 Seahawks so much as the 2011 variety:  that team that went 7-9, had some remarkable victories, but ultimately fell short of their goal to make the playoffs (even if that goal looked insane heading into the season).  The 2018 Seahawks aren’t QUITE what we thought they were, but they’re also going nowhere, very, very slowly.

What I’m Geeked Out About After Nine Games

I got a two-fer, and they’re both rushing related.  First and foremost, WELCOME TO SEATTLE RASHAAD PENNY!  He’s had opportunities at times this season, but until yesterday had failed to take advantage of them.  Well, this was his coming out party.  108 yards on 12 carries with a TD.  He looked smooth, he looked explosive, and he took advantage of some really solid run blocking from our offensive line.  Kudos all around to those five (sometimes, with Fant, six) guys for punishing the Rams once again.  In two games this year, against that stout front, the Seahawks ran for 463 yards on 66 carries, for a 7.02 yards per carry average!  Outstanding!

Of course, not for nothing, but those fuckfaces only seem to get it up for rushing the passer on third down, so maybe they need to get their priorities together if they have any aspirations of winning a Super Bowl, but that’s neither here nor there.

My other prong in this section goes to Russell Wilson.  Sure, he threw 3 more touchdowns, on 17/26 for 176; but he also ran the ball like he hasn’t all year!  92 yards on 9 carries, which was the most he’s had in a single game since November 2014 (and tied for the 5th most in a game in his professional career).  I know he always just takes what the defense gives him, but I thought he took advantage of a few keeps that both moved the chains and opened up some future holes for our backs.

Now, if only he’d pulled it down and ran with it on that final play of the game …

Other Things That Caught My Eye (In A Good Way)

It’s pretty much time to shift expectations a little bit going forward (and, even moreso, assuming we lose to the Packers this Thursday).  While it’s okay to hold out hope for a wild card berth (even moreso, assuming we beat the Packers this Thursday), I’m looking to focus more on positive elements for the future.

For instance, when you see the Seahawks giving up 36 points to the Rams, my go-to emotion is to say, “The defense deserves zero praise whatsoever, full stop!”  But, that’s just not logical.  While it’s distressing to see the Rams move the ball with such ease, quite frankly they’re the Rams.  This is what they do.  And, given the limitations we’re working with on that side of the ball, it’s commendable that we were able to limit them in the ways we did.

Kudos, for instance, on stopping them with less than 2 minutes to go, to give our offense a chance to win it!  If you offered me this scenario heading into the game – considering I was predicting a double-digit blowout – I would’ve accepted it in a heartbeat!  I almost always think Russell Wilson is going to lead us to victory in the closing seconds of the game, so why wouldn’t that be something to hope for?

I thought Bobby Wagner had a whale of a game.  I thought Jarran Reed and Frank Clark played their asses off.  Quinton Jefferson looked like a load all day.  Jacob Martin flashed at times.  Sure, there were breakdowns here and there, but the Rams’ scheme often creates these types of breakdowns.  The fact of the matter is, there’s a lot to like, even on a day where we gave up 456 yards.  I mean, shit, the Rams are supposed to have this great “championship defense” with the best defensive coordinator in the game (taking advantage of their star quarterback on a rookie deal, by signing and trading for all these high-priced studs on defense, a la the Seahawks in 2013) and they gave up 414 yards to us, on top of a litany of penalty yardage!  We’re at least doing as well as they are, with A LOT LESS.  Something to think about, before you resume killing our defense.

Also, kudos to Mike Davis for being a boss.  Kudos to Lockett for yet another touchdown.  Kudos to Doug Baldwin and Ed Dickson for big catches.  Kudos to Michael Dickson for some FANTASTIC punting!

Let’s Talk About Competitions

Bradley McDougald was one of our injury concerns heading into this game, but he ended up making the start.  He did okay, but the coaches rightly split time between him and Delano Hill.  I don’t know if Hill is totally safe as a future starter, but he’s been looking better these last couple weeks.  Not the total disaster he was in the pre-season and earlier this year.  He’s making strides, that’s all you can ask.  I still think this team needs to make safety a priority in the 2019 draft, if for nothing else than to boost our competition.

We’re also gonna need to move on from K.J. Wright I think, when this year is over.  I wouldn’t mind seeing Shaquem Griffin get some looks.  He’s definitely started to flash on Special Teams lately, which is cool to see (also shout-out to Akeem King, who is straight balling out there on Teams; that was a nasty head-to-head deal between the two, though); I hope Griffin is making strides in practice at least, in the base defense.  I’m curious to see how he grows going forward.

Other Things That Caught My Eye (In A Bad Way)

I was extremely disappointed in Duane Brown for giving up that strip sack to Dante Fowler yesterday, which set up the Rams’ game-winning score.  I mean, come on.  You’re a Pro Bowl left tackle going up against a draft bust; I get that sometimes even the all-time greats get beat, but you CANNOT get beat in that situation!  Not with the game on the line, that late in the contest, to a fucking nobody!  What are we PAYING you for, if not to stand tall in that exact scenario?!

Also, just … The Legion Of Boom, these guys are not.  Sure, the Rams are an elite offensive unit, and they scheme you to death, but I’m not seeing a ton of progress out of our secondary this year, and that’s going to be a problem going forward.  Now, of course, maybe they’ll look better once we find a pass rush (next year, hopefully).  But, maybe they’ll always be an Achilles heel (no pun intended, Richard Sherman) and we’re going to have to play these types of games against good offenses.

I hear a lot of Seahawks fans complaining about CenturyLink not being as loud as it was in its heyday; well, fans feed off of defense.  It’s hard to get up for this mediocrity we’re watching this year.  Where are the big plays?  Where are the sacks and interceptions and forced fumbles?  Where are the stops on third down?  An elite defense trumps an elite offense 10 times out of 10.  Without that, yeah, expect the home crowds to be a little more indifferent than they once were (though, to be fair, I’m not a regular attendee to the games, but it was VERY loud in my opinion, the game I went to last week, as I had to regularly plug my ears to deal with all the screaming).

Finally, let’s not waste snaps handing the ball to C.J. Prosise, huh?  He’s done.  Let’s move on already.

Not Winners & Losers Of The Seahawks’ Game Against The Chargers

It was just one of those days, a perfect storm of ineptitude as the Seahawks were as sloppy and disjointed as I’ve ever seen them.  4/15 on third down and that includes going 3/3 on the first drive of the game (doing the math, that tells me they were 1/12 the rest of the way).  10 penalties for 83 yards (which felt like 183 yards, as they seemingly came at the absolute WORST possible times).  And, ultimately, one back-breaking pick-six that was literally the worst throw I’ve ever seen.  I went to the game and had a perfect vantage of the entire play from behind and to the right; at no point was there EVER a receiver open on that play.  That play was going for 6 points the other way or … there’s no end to that sentence, that’s how fucking easy it was.  Gambling addicts in too deep with the mob don’t choreograph their point-shaving with such blatant disregard for looking totally fucking obvious.  I’m not saying Russell Wilson threw away the game on purpose, but he certainly played like it.  In the end, it added up to a 25-17 defeat that still saw the Seahawks down at the goalline with no time left on the clock and a chance to put the game into overtime if everything broke right.

What I’m Geeked Out About After Eight Games

There isn’t much to praise about this one, so I’ll shout out my buddy who got us these seats:

The second football game I saw in person over the weekend; the first one went a lot better …

As you can see, it didn’t rain a lick (even though it was looking pretty iffy heading into the weekend) and was actually as pleasant of a weather day as you can expect in early November.  What geeked me out the most about this one?  Having a rain jacket and not needing it!

Other Things That Caught My Eye (In A Good Way)

I guess there’s something to be said for the way this team fought back.  Chris Carson, D.J. Fluker, and Bradley McDougald all left the game with injuries and didn’t return (more on them in a later section); you could argue those are 3 of the 5 most important players on this year’s team after Russell Wilson, and we lost them all for a huge swath of the game.  Yet, after looking pretty miserable in giving up 19 points in the first half, the defense stepped up like a champion, giving up 0 in the second half (again, the aforementioned pick-six was the only points the Chargers got).  It looked particularly dicey when our onside kick was totally botched, but our defense stood tall and gave our offense a chance to march down the field.

And, credit where it’s due, after that pick-six, Wilson led the Seahawks right down the field for a touchdown that took a little too long (nearly 5 minutes, not coming until AFTER the 2-minute warning).  And, he once again worked his magic in getting us back down to the goalline on the final drive of the game.  First, with a fantastic long throw that the Chargers defender had to interfere with to keep us from catching it; then with an untimed down on a dart to David Moore that he absolutely should’ve caught.  I mean, there’s no guarantee that we would’ve made the 2-point conversion, but we’ll never know what could’ve been, now will we?

Let’s Talk About Competitions Injuries Again

This is bad, you guys.  I noted it on Twitter this week, and it’s apparently a real problem:  Chris Carson is fragile.

He’s had 2 games this year with 20 or more carries.  After the first time, he missed the next game with an injury.  The second time was last week, and lo and behold, there he was on the injury report again this week.  He tried to give it a go – and looked pretty great in the early going of this one – but ultimately never came out after halftime.  And, say what you want about Mike Davis, but he’s no Chris Carson.

To make matters worse, we lost D.J. Fluker and had to roll with Joey Hunt at right guard.  We’re 0-3 in games where Fluker has missed some or all of the game, which I’d say makes him pretty fucking important to this team’s chances.  From the sound of initial reports, it looks like this could be a long-term issue, which fucking sucks considering we’re going into the hardest stretch of our season.  Anyone looking forward to the prospects of playing the Rams or Panthers on the road without Fluker in there manhandling fools?  Because I’m not!

Finally, what can you say about Bradley McDougald that hasn’t already been said?  We already lost Earl Thomas, but McDougald was playing like a superstar both with and without him!  He’s easily our most important secondary player and the dropoff from him to Delano Hill is tragic.  The defense is already pretty shaky as it is (see:  all those long plays the Chargers were able to rip off in the first half, either with busted coverages or terrible tackling angles) and losing our best tackler and coverage guy in the secondary is only going to make matters 1,000-times worse.

Other Things That Caught My Eye (In A Bad Way)

I mean, where do you start?!

That was the worst I’ve ever seen Russell Wilson.  Forget the pick-six, which was bad, don’t get me wrong.  But, he was off-target ALL GAME.  How many 3rd downs did he blow single-handedly by over-throwing or under-throwing wide open receivers?  How many 13-yard sacks did he take by running backwards like a moron?  I know he threw all those picks in the NFC Championship Game, but that gets overlooked because of how we came back to win.  But, this loss is on Russell more than anyone else, and he needs to wear it this week.

Let’s see, how about the idiotic penalties on our offensive line?  How many times do you need to get flagged for leaping into a pile of bodies before you’re going to figure it the fuck out?  Stop being so fucking blatant with your attempts to injure opponents in the guise of being “aggressive”.  It’s not cool!  Be Smarter!

And seriously, what the fuck was up with all those deep plays our defense gave up?  That game was damn near the opposite of what I expected.  The Chargers are kings at dinking and dunking you to death, but Rivers was able to hit guys wide open deep down field, and if he wasn’t doing that, then Melvin Gordon was running through the biggest holes I’ve ever seen!

That’s another thing:  why would you sit your best run-stuffing defensive tackle?  Poona Ford’s presence was sorely missed.  Someone fucked up royally in deciding the inactives this week, because clearly the Chargers took advantage of our pisspoor run defense.  22 carries for 160 yards.

Bully for the defense for adjusting in the second half, but that was as bad as I’ve ever seen THEM in the first half.  This was 2009 Seahawks level of defensive play for 30 minutes.  Unacceptable!

No individual shout-outs, because if you suck as a team you get ripped as a team.  And this team deserves to get ripped.  Everyone except Michael Dickson, who punted like a champ.  And believe me, we needed every bit of it.

Also, fuck you Seabass for yet another missed field goal.  God damn are we sick of your bullshit.

Not Winners & Losers Of The Seahawks’ Game In Detroit

The Seahawks went into Detroit and did their thing.  The Lions scored an early TD to go up 7, but Seattle took over from there, ultimately winning 28-14.  Things could’ve gotten hairy there towards the end – especially after a bullshit pass-interference call that put the Lions in the red zone with a chance to bring the game to within 1 score with time left to get the ball back – but Justin Coleman jumped a route to snag an interception.  And Michael Dickson ran what was supposed to be a safety out of the back of the endzone 9 yards for an unlikely first down to salt the game away.  To the premise!

What I’m Geeked Out About After Seven Games

It’s like deciding who my best child is.  Or my favorite Halloween candy!  Twix?  Kit Kat?  Snickers?  Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups?  Mounds?  Skittles?  The red/pink Starburst only?  Reese’s Fast Break?  Whatchamacallit?  Do they even have that one in Fun Size?  Milky Way?  Peanut M&M’s?  I LOVE ALL MY BABIES AND NOW I ALSO HAVE DIABETES!

Look, I’m just gonna be selfish here.  As you’ll no doubt read about later this week – because you know you love reading about me and my fantasy team troubles – I was able to pick up Chris Carson in a week where Ezekiel Elliott was on a BYE, and he single-handedly won me a fantasy football game.  You’ll see who I was gonna pick up if I didn’t get Carson and suffice it to say it was a 20-point swing in an 11-point win.

Carson ran for 105 yards on 25 carries, as he was this team’s unquestioned #1 running back.  More importantly, he scored a touchdown and was in on most goalline and red zone plays.  This is huge, not just for my fantasy team.  Mike Davis is a serviceable and perfectly fine #2 running back.  If the Seahawks needed to start him next week, I’d be comfortable with him getting 20 carries.  He definitely also strikes me as a guy who gets better as the game goes along (and therefore requires a number of touches before he starts to get going).  Chris Carson is just a BEAST tho.  He’s faster than every other back on this team, he’s stronger than every other back on this team, he’s more elusive, he’s harder to bring down … you get the idea.  Make a list of all the attributes you want out of a running back, and he’s at the top of every one!

Not only that, but if you compared him to the rest of the #1 running backs around the league, and I would argue he compares VERY favorably!  He and everyone else are behind Todd Gurley by a comfortable margin, but in that second tier, I’d say Carson is right there … in raw ability and talent with the football.  Now, he still has to stay healthy and prove it over a longer sample size.  But, as for just the Eye Test?  He passes with flying colors.

Other Things That Caught My Eye (In A Good Way)

Give me Russell or give me death!  Do you want to see a football player’s stats?  14/17, 248 yards, 3 TDs, 0 INTs, 14.6 yards per attempt, 158.3 passer rating and 98.9 QBR.  In the leadup to this game, I talked about how he needed to have an efficient game, and that while they don’t give up a ton of yards, the Lions are among the worst teams in opponent’s passer rating.  Lo and behold, Wilson had a PERFECT passer rating!

How about that Ed Dickson?  I never thought I’d say we missed him, and if Dissly hadn’t gone down for the year, I might’ve even argued to cut Dickson before he returned from the PUP list.  But, he was back this week, and he hauled in a couple of VERY impressive catches.  One for 42 yards (on a play-action on third & short where the Lions totally bought into a run and left him wide open) and one for a contested touchdown in the back of the endzone.  I mean, I couldn’t even tell you what he did in a blocking capacity, but his first game in a Seahawks uniform is already my favorite over every other game Jimmy Graham ever had here!  Ed Dickson is such an upgrade it’s not even funny!

David Moore had 4 for 97 and a TD, Lockett had 2 for 34 and a TD, Baldwin had 2 for 26, even Vannett had a nifty catch for 16 yards.

Defensively, there were a lot of stars.  Frank Clark with a sack and a fumble recovery.  Shamar Stephen with another sack.  Some good pressure from Dion Jordan and Jacob Martin and Jarran Reed.

It was also good to see K.J. Wright back, who had a nice game.

Let’s Talk About Competitions

It’s pretty clear who’s stepped up and who’s gone by the wayside.  No Penny in this one.  Not much out of Brandon Marshall or Jaron Brown.  I want to say Mingo’s playing time is greatly reduced with the return of Wright.  Naz Jones was once again a healthy scratch.

Also interesting:  George Fant’s conversion to 4th string tight end.  Or, shit, is he 3rd string at this point?  He was on the field a ton as a de-facto 6th offensive lineman, but he was also lined up out wide seemingly just as much as he was on the line!  He’s even running routes out there a little bit!  I can’t imagine he has great hands, but what if he did?  What if Wilson actually threw him the ball?  Wouldn’t that be wild?

Other Things That Caught My Eye (In A Bad Way)

Not a lot, to be honest.  Tedric Thompson had a couple shoddy plays, but also forced a fumble on that kickoff.  I didn’t like seeing Bradley McDougald leave the game with what appeared to be an injury, but I guess he was just sick so that’s okay.  He might be the most important player on this defense at this point, with no Earl, and with the way he’s been playing at a super-high level this year.  The dropoff from him to Delano Hill is pretty steep, so never leave us Bradley!

There still isn’t a ton of pass rush to write home about, but there’s some, and with the way our back-end is playing, “some” might be “just enough”.

The gauntlet rolls on with a game against the Chargers.  6 of our last 9 games are at home, so giddyup 12’s!

Is It Possible The Seahawks Are Actually Good This Year?

Seeing is usually believing, because just believing can be deceiving (my name is M.C. Renob and I’m here to say …).

I don’t want to be sucked into this thing, is my point.  For starters, the Seahawks have already lost two games (Broncos & Bears) that they probably should’ve won.  At the VERY least, the Seahawks should’ve gone 1-1 in those games (history will prove that this year’s Broncos team is fucking trash), but because we played them on the road, we biffed it.  Now, at 2-3, we’re playing considerably better than we were a month ago, but we’re severely behind the 8-ball, and we’re going to be without our best defensive player in Earl Thomas.

Winning the division is out, which is a bummer to consider just 6 weeks into the season, but the Rams are the Rams and we’re not.  Nevertheless, last week’s game proved we can at least HANG with the Rams (albeit at home), and that game next month down in L.A. will be even more informative (because all NFC roads appear to be going through there in the playoffs).

I’ve been on the 8-8 train all along, and I’m not quite ready to jump onto the bandwagon just yet, but after last week’s hard-fought defeat, I have to ask:  could the Seahawks ACTUALLY be good?

This is the team we all expected heading into the season:  smashmouth, run-first on offense; quality against the run on defense, better than expected in the secondary, with a highly suspect pass rush.  The fact that it took us 2 weeks (and 2 losses) to figure it out is pretty frustrating, but that’s neither here nor there.  The point is, the blueprint is being followed, and the last three weeks the Seahawks have looked much better.  What does that mean going forward?

Well, for starters, this game in London is a Must Win.  The Raiders are bad, and you have to beat them if you expect to make the playoffs.

Fortunately, their defense is pretty crappy, so we should have no trouble running on them.  We should furthermore have no trouble throwing on them, as they traded away their one and only pass rushing asset in the offseason.  So, if we struggle on 3rd downs, or otherwise can’t move the ball against them, then that’s a REAL problem and I just don’t want to get into that right now.

The question becomes:  can our defense stop that Raiders offensive attack?  I don’t see why not.  For starters, they have Tom Cable running their O-Line, so even our weak-ass pass rush should be able to do SOMETHING, right?  Beastmode is legit, so he’ll get his, and I tend to like Derek Carr more than most (as long as I’m not counting on him for fantasy purposes) and think he’ll have no problem carving up our defense.  The problem for the Raiders, as I see it, is all the mistakes.  Carr throws too many interceptions – and really boneheaded ones to boot – to be a dependable quarterback in this league.  The Raiders, quite frankly, should look a lot more like the Seahawks on offense, except Russell Wilson knows how to take care of the football, and Derek Carr is reckless.

The Raiders will keep it close – and probably even win – if Carr plays a clean game.  The Seahawks likely will need a 2-turnover edge in the ol’ +/- to really put this one away like they should.  If the Seahawks move the ball well on offense, convert in the red zone (and don’t leave it up to our hit-or-miss kicker), and get a couple picks early, I think this could be a laugher by halftime (with Carr maybe getting some garbage points late in the game).

Not for nothing, but I think Seahawks fans are going to travel MUCH harder for this one, and their presence will be noticed on the broadcast.

The rest of this blog post gets thrown out the window if the Seahawks lose on Sunday, so let’s just assume we take care of business.

At 3-3, the Seahawks will head home and enjoy their BYE week.  We’ll use that extra week to try to figure out a way to slow down the Detroit offense.  Like with most of these games, the Seahawks and the Lions are pretty equal (I’d argue maybe the Lions are a little bit better on paper); with the game being in Detroit, I’d expect the Lions to be favored by a minimum of 3.5 points, all the way up to maybe 5 or 5.5 (assuming the Lions get to 3-3 heading into this showdown).  That’s probably a game the Seahawks need to win to be a wild card team (as it’s an NFC opponent, and one that figures to also be in the wild card hunt), and it’s not totally unreasonable that the Seahawks would pull it off.  Honestly, the Lions feel pretty similar to the Raiders, except Oakland has a better run game.

Then, the Seahawks catch the Chargers at home before going on the road to play the Rams.  I never like the Seahawks’ chances when playing the Chargers – because I think their offense is the most adept at picking us apart – but getting them in Seattle is a big help (as evidenced by our performance against the Rams).  To make the wild card, the Seahawks probably HAVE to win that one, because I can’t see us beating the Rams.

That would get us to 5-4 heading into another tough stretch.  We host the Packers on Thursday night.  They don’t look nearly as good as they’ve looked in recent seasons, and that’s yet another game we have to win.  Playing the Panthers on the road is never ideal, but that’s also not an elite team, and I think we actually match up with them pretty well.  Even if we go 1-1 against these two teams, things open up from there.

We close out with 4/5 at home.  In that stretch, we play a pretty hapless 49ers team twice, and the Cardinals once.  We HAVE to win those three.  That gets us to 9 wins.  We also get the Vikings at home, and they don’t look anywhere CLOSE to how good they were in 2017, so that should be another win.  That’s 10.  Finally, in week 16, we host the Chiefs (our season closes at home against the aforementioned Cards).  You never know how the season is gonna go, but the Chiefs could very well have their division clinched, and maybe even home field throughout the playoffs.  I mean, the AFC looks pretty soft, so it’s not out of the realm of possibility that they’re 12-2 at that point and just sort of going through the motions.  Are they going to go all out in a road game in nasty-weather Seattle?  Or, are they going to ease off the throttle and save it for a home game in week 17 against the Raiders?

I’m just saying, there’s a path to getting to 10-11 wins, and it doesn’t involve the Seahawks playing out of their minds.  It does, however, require this team to improve as the season goes on (as well as not losing too many more significant stars).

The Seahawks are already getting better-than-expected production out of Tre Flowers, Bradley McDougald, their entire running back room, and their offensive line.  They’re getting predictably good production from their quarterback, middle linebacker, Frank Clark, Tyler Lockett, Shquill Griffin, and their interior run-stuffing tackles.  They’ll hopefully get K.J. Wright and Doug Baldwin back to some semblance of full strength.

What we need to see is a guy or two step up from a pass rush standpoint.  We need Frank Clark to go from good to GREAT.  We need Dion Jordan to do literally anything.  We need Rasheem Green to get back on the field and give us something comparable to what Tre Flowers is doing for our secondary.  Or, we just need one of those other D-Linemen to come from out of nowhere and really surprise us, even if it’s unsustainable for the long term.

We also need someone to step into that Earl Thomas role and give us just 75% of what he was.  That means Tedric Thompson, improving his tackling, improving his angles in coverage, and making opportune plays (picks, tipped passes, forced fumbles).  There’s no magical fix coming; it has to come from within.

This season can be like the 2011 Seahawks or the 2012 Seahawks.  Recall the 2011 team went 7-9 and was still a year-plus away from really contending.  Whereas the 2012 team APPEARED to be a year-plus away, but got steadily better until it was steamrolling opponents by season’s end, and came within 30 seconds of getting to the NFC Championship Game.

How will this year go?  Well, a lot of it has to do with what happens the next two games.  It all starts in London on Sunday.  Can’t shit the bed there, or this season will REALLY go south in a hurry.

Not Winners & Losers Of The Seahawks’ Game Vs The Rams

As crazy as it sounds, the Seahawks actually DIDN’T get obliterated!  You’re welcome, everyone!  The power of my reverse jinx knows no bounds!  But, I still get to be partially right, as the Rams took the lead in the 4th quarter and kept the Seahawks at bay when it mattered most.  With no time outs, under 2 minutes to go, the Rams dug deep and converted on a 4th & 1 quarterback sneak to ice it.  It’s the dictionary definition of a Moral Victory, as the Seahawks covered the spread and only lost 33-31.

What I’m Geeked Out About After Five Games

Let’s just call it the entire rushing game.  In what ostensibly turned into a shootout, the Seahawks still managed to run it 32 times for 190 yards and a TD.  That alone is VERY impressive, but what if I told you Russell Wilson accounted for none of it?  He didn’t even have a single carry!  No scrambles, no nothing!

Chris Carson led the way after missing last week with an injury.  He had 19 carries for 116 yards.  But, true to his word, Pete Carroll worked Mike Davis into the mix, who had 12 for 68 and that score.  Both of them were gashing the Rams left and right, which again comes back to the offensive line.  Dare I say it?  Is the Seahawks’ O-Line the best position group on this team?  Okay, I’ll buy it!  The best group isn’t on the defensive side of the ball, that’s for damn sure!

Other Things That Caught My Eye (In A Good Way)

I really liked Russell Wilson’s game.  I still think he needs to pull it on some of those zone read plays, but I also think he’s hiding an injury and is doing everything in his power to limit the plays with his legs.  Nevertheless, he was 13/21 for 198 yards and 3 TDs against 0 picks.  Lots of pretty passes deep down field and he certainly had this team in position to win this game late if we could’ve just gotten the ball back.

HUGE game out of David Moore who had the first 2 touchdown catches of his young career.  He had 3 for 38 on the day and REALLY looks like he’s going to be a star for this team for many years to come.  I haven’t been this excited about one of our young receivers since …

Tyler Lockett!  3 catches for 98 yards and an oh so pretty 39-yard touchdown bomb.  On top of that, he had 3 kick returns for 77 yards as the team looked for a spark in the return game (Penny had been handling KO return duties a lot this year).  It got so bad that the Rams were pooching their kickoffs, giving Seattle great field position all day long.

Finally, not a lot to praise about the defense, but I’ll tip my cap to Bradley McDougald and Bobby Wagner, who are holding this unit together by their strong individual efforts.  And, actually, a tip of the cap to Frank Clark too, who had a monster game after a week’s worth of food poisoning.

Let’s Talk About Competitions

Pretty interesting game for Penny.  Zero offensive touches in a game where the Seahawks ran it 32 times.  There’s growing discontent every week about the Seahawks taking a running back in the first round, and I’m as sick of it as anyone.  I mean, at some point we’re all going to have to get over it!  This isn’t the single worst move the Seahawks ever made.  Hell, it isn’t even the dumbest decision they’ve ever made with a first round pick!  But, that having been said … don’t you have to get SOMETHING out of your rookie first round pick?  I know it’s not necessarily a knock against him, so much as it is that Carson and Davis have earned their touches, but think about it.  This is a game the Seahawks REALLY wanted.  The chips were stacked against them with the injuries suffered in last week’s game, so they circled the wagons.  They consolidated their gameplan to include the most important and best players on their team.  Guys like David Moore and Tyler Lockett were prominent, as they’ve proven over the first month of the season that they’re the best, healthiest receivers we have right now.  Russell Wilson showed up with an efficient game.  And, the best running backs split time pretty evenly.

And Penny didn’t play a lick.  He got in on 1 special teams play and that’s it.  That says A LOT about what the team thinks of him right now.  It’s a damning indictment of their first round pick, and it’s only going to continue to be a glaring blight against this organization unless he turns his career around.

Getting back to the receivers, Jaron Brown and Brandon Marshall played 9 and 7 snaps respectively.  They had 0 catches on 0 targets combined.  Doug Baldwin played the entire game, but he’s obviously not quite right, so it’s doubly important that Lockett and Moore played the way they did.  These are the deep threats the Seahawks have on this team that’s opening up our run game and our play-action game.  It’s all connected, and I’m looking forward to the young guys continuing to advance as guys like Brown and Marshall are phased out.

At least for one game, Tedric Thompson is the answer to the question of who would take over in Earl’s absence.  He played all but one snap on defense and had an up & down game.  He came away with 7 tackles and a pass defended, but also missed some tackles, took bad angles on some runs, and missed an interception off a deflected ball.  Of the guys we have on this team, he’s the player with the most promise, but I just don’t know if he’s going to be the long term solution.  The Seahawks have the most work to do in bolstering the pass rush, but they shouldn’t neglect the safety position in 2019.  If there’s a highly-graded first round talent at safety in the draft, I think the Seahawks should pounce on him.

Other Things That Caught My Eye (In A Bad Way)

Just … the defense.  All of it.  Holy hell.  The Rams punted on their first drive of the game, and then never again.  Sure, there was an early pick, and a nice goalline stand that led to a field goal, but the Rams had their way and were able to do pretty much whatever they wanted all day.

That starts and ends with the pass rush, which was absolutely non-existent.  The crowd noise was solid, and forced the Rams to waste a bunch of time outs at inopportune times, but otherwise the Rams were fine.  1 sack on 66 plays.  2 hits on the quarterback and I’m pretty sure one of them was a 15-yard flag because Quinton Jefferson was an idiot and hit him 3 hours after he threw the ball.  Sure, a lot of it had to do with their scheme – they get the ball out fast and with receivers WIDE open – but he also had plenty of plays where he could stand back there, make a sandwich, talk to some buddies, build a ship in a bottle, and the Seahawks were never going to get home.  Fucking abysmal, and there’s no hope on the horizon for 2018.  Dion Jordan was good for 22 snaps.  Q-Jeff is our defacto #2 DE and he is NOBODY’S definition of a quality pass rusher.  Barkevious Mingo played 97% of defensive snaps and that should probably never change, because Frank Clark needs some help.

I wasn’t a huge fan of all the drop-kick kickoffs.  I hate it when an opposing team gets a couple quality returns and then Pete Carroll freaks the fuck out and starts pooching everything, giving the other team amazing field position every fucking time.  Why not, I dunno, MAKE ADJUSTMENTS IN YOUR KICK COVERAGE?!  Unless Janikowski was nursing a hammy or something, they should’ve brought him back out.  Either that, or just kick it out of bounds and save us all the embarrassment.

Also, man that was a tough holding penalty that forced us out of field goal position, but I mean, it was 2nd and 13 on the Rams’ 35 yard line, so WHY WERE WE RUNNING THE BALL IN THE FIRST PLACE?!  That’s supposed to be the tougher end of the field to kick, so why not throw and try to get really close!  Again, it’s a clear example of the team trying to play for a field goal.  Best case scenario, we don’t get flagged for holding, Mike Davis runs for 5 yards to the 30 and it’s 3rd & 8 with just over 3 minutes to go.  Odds are – even with how mediocre the Rams’ pass defense was in this game – we’re not converting a 3rd & 8 (I even bet the Seahawks would’ve run it AGAIN just to get a tiny bit closer and eat some more clock), in which case the Rams still would’ve had PLENTY of time to take the ball down the field and score a game-winning field goal.

The end of that game shows the clear differences in philosophy between these two teams.  The Seahawks play it safe and stodgy, running the ball down around the 30 yard line, playing for the field goal, and I guess just praying the other team makes a mistake (because our defense was in no position to slow them down).  Meanwhile, the Rams, with the lead and the ball, on 4th & short on their own 43 yard line, went for it on a QB sneak to put the game away.  Seattle NEVER would’ve done that in a million years!

That’s part of the reason why I feel this moral victory is a bit hollow.  We’re all but shut out of winning the division, we have a LONG road to get into wild card contention, and even though we hung close, the Rams are clearly the superior team and would’ve won that game 90 times out of 100.  Do I like the Seahawks’ chances against an inferior team like the Raiders this week?  Sure.  But, against the greats, I think we’re still just as fucked as we were before this surprisingly easy-to-accept home defeat.