If you haven’t seen it yet, go ahead and take a gander at what I wrote yesterday. A lot of doom and gloom and whatnot. Anyway, I got a GREAT comment from someone named Justin that I thought I’d respond to. I’m not here to be a Hot Taek factory, and I really hate it when recency bias creeps into my arguments and gets me to overreact to something that’s not really that big of a deal, so I thought I’d take a step back and consider Justin’s argument.
I do stand behind the crux of my argument yesterday, in that it’s never a great sign when a head coach makes wholesale coordinator changes, and you could argue that the Seahawks fired three coordinators, considering Tom Cable’s influence over the offense. We’re in a period of transition with the Seahawks, there’s no doubt about it. Some of the stars of those championship teams are aging out, or injuring themselves out, and will need to be replaced. While it’s not impossible for this team to hit rock bottom in 2018, it’s just as possible that they find the right pieces to fill in and get this team back to the playoffs. We could be looking at one 9-7 blip on the radar, and nothing would make me happier.
I like a lot of what Justin has to say. I agree that Russell Wilson is in the Top 5 for me among quarterbacks in this league. And we all know he has another level to his game; we’ve seen it during the second half of 2015. He obviously can’t do it alone, though, and is going to need some help from his O-Line and running game. But, that’s obvious to anyone. Even Tom Brady looks pretty fucking mediocre in those rare instances where the Patriots have a struggling O-Line; the difference is they seem to know how to push the right buttons and right the ship before too long.
I also agree that we probably have a Top 15/Top 10 defense as it is. That part of it is never going to get TOO bad, because Pete Carroll is too good of a defensive mind. My biggest concern is that the injury bug tends to be random, and the Seahawks were pretty well battered in 2016, then followed that up by arguably being MORE battered in 2017. That, to me, shows signs of age. And, considering the core on this defense is so deep and has been together for so long, that’s A LOT of holes that need filling, not to mention a lot of depth that needs replenishing around that core.
It’s too early to know what that’s going to look like. We don’t know, for instance, if Avril or Kam will make miraculous recoveries and try to play again. Forgetting the cap situation for a moment, assuming we get those guys back, they’re still one awkward hit away from being done for good. Then, there’s Michael Bennett, who ALWAYS seems to be slowed by one nagging thing or another. A foot, a quad, a pec, an ankle. I still say he’s someone who needs to be on the field way less than he is to remain effective. There’s more snaps you have to replace. Earl Thomas made a nice recovery in 2017, as I assume Richard Sherman will in 2018, but again: guys getting older. Guys more susceptible to these debilitating injuries. And, I haven’t mentioned guys like Bobby Wagner or K.J. Wright, because they’re almost always pretty healthy. But, before he went down, Sherm had never missed a game, and I don’t know if Earl missed much time either. It just takes one hit, or one bad step and then a bunch of others that eventually wear you down until whatever’s ailing you just SNAPS.
So, let’s take a step back and look on the bright side: who do we have on defense that we like? That we can count on in major roles going forward?
Frank Clark, obviously, heads that list for me, and feels like a guy this team should prioritize with a big extension. Dion Jordan is another guy I’ll be happy to see return, and in a meatier role than he had in 2017. Should he prove to be effective, he’s a guy I wouldn’t mind seeing around semi-long term. Naz Jones really flashed as a rookie. He looks like a guy who could play every down and be an effective interior rusher (I just hope he’s not another of these injury-prone guys, what with him missing the last few weeks of the regular season). Jarran Reed is another impressive interior lineman who feels more like a Brandon Mebane type (which is NOT a bad thing) and is someone I hope to have around for a long time. So, that’s four guys, not counting Bennett (who I still think will probably be back in 2018). I don’t expect Sheldon Richardson back, and who the fuck knows about Malik McDowell, but either way, the D-Line could use some work. And some better injury luck.
Love me some Wagz and Wright; they’re both squarely in their primes. But, would it kill this team to draft a couple of talented, athletic backups who might one day take their places? Or, competently fill in for when those guys get nicked up? I mean, we’re always one Wagner injury away from the biggest fucking drop-off on the entire team outside of quarterback!
In the secondary, I – along with most everyone – liked what I saw from Shaq Griffin. He still has room to improve, and I hope he makes that leap. With Earl and Sherm back in the fold in 2018, and Coleman being a solid slot guy, there’s even more to like. But, how do you replace someone like Kam? And, who’s gonna be your third outside corner? Are ANY of the other rookies we drafted in the secondary in 2017 going to pan out besides Griffin? I think it’s a BAD sign that guys like Delano Hill and Tedric Thompson hardly ever played last year. I hope they look good behind the scenes, because I have a feeling we’re going to need at least one of them to pan out in the near future.
So yeah, there’s talent defensively. There’s plenty of talent to be a Top 15 defense as it stands right now. And, of course, the team will make moves this offseason to bolster that side of the ball. A Pete Carroll team would NEVER neglect the defense. But, is this team good enough to overcome just a Top 15 or a Top 10 defense? Or, does it need a Top 2 defense to really do something?
And, I guess that’s my whole point in all of this. With all its faults, the 2017 Seahawks were still SO CLOSE to making the playoffs. And it would’ve been fun, and we would’ve had a rabid ramp-up to that game against the Rams (or whoever would’ve been the 3-seed in this alternate universe). And who knows? Maybe we shock the world just like we’ve done so many times in the Wild Card round of the playoffs!
But, I’m not interested in just making the playoffs. I don’t think there’s a way in Hell that the Seahawks of 2017 – with all the injuries and everything else they had to deal with by season’s end – were in a position to make a serious championship run. Odds are, if it’s Rams in the Wild Card round, then Eagles in the Divisional round, then Vikings in the Championship game … I mean, look at those defenses! Those are far and away the three best defenses in the NFC this year (with the Saints probably coming in 4th). You’re telling me this team, with this O-Line, and this lack of a running game, could’ve made it through all three? I think the chance of that is 0.00%.
Maybe I’m being greedy. As a long-suffering Seahawks fan through the years, maybe I SHOULD just be happy with a playoff appearance. But, after 2013, all of that changed. With Russell Wilson in the fold, I want to see MULTIPLE championships! At least one more, ideally two more. Anything beyond that would be beyond my wildest dreams, but you get the idea. Great, amazing, franchise-altering quarterbacks don’t come around everyday unless you’re the Green Bay Packers, apparently. To squander someone like Russell would be a travesty. Beyond that, I can’t bear to imagine a world where his final play in a Super Bowl is that fucking interception at the goalline. He NEEDS to be redeemed!
And no, this team probably WON’T collapse in the near future, not as long as Wilson is healthy. He’s in his prime, and we’ve seen PLENTY of mediocre teams with elite quarterbacks who carry them to consistent 7-9/8-8/9-7 seasons. Aside from 2015/2016, that’s pretty much the M.O. of the San Diego Chargers under Philip Rivers! Not to mention a lot of those post-Super Bowl Saints teams. And a lot of those Lions teams under Matthew Stafford. On and on and on. But, to be honest, those types of teams are my worst nightmare. Not to say I envy the Browns or something, but I would RATHER bottom out for a year or two, bring in a bunch of highly-drafted college players, and turn things around. The Seahawks will probably never get to be that bad, though, so I think it’s a very real concern that we have a bunch of 8-8 type seasons in the years ahead.
How do we avoid that? Well, ideally, we need to figure out what the Saints did in their draft room last year, because God Damn! Justin points out that we should have faith in the combo of Pete and John. I have the utmost respect for those guys, and I agree they’re the best head coach and GM in franchise history (and maybe in the history of all of Seattle sports). But, I also think it’s valid to wonder if they’re not coasting on the achievements of their drafts and free agent acquisitions from 2010-2012. I mean, that’s one of the best turnaround jobs in all of professional sports, what they were able to do in that 3-year span. And, for the most part, I like that they take chances and they swing for the fences on guys with rare and unique talents.
But, the mounting mistakes from 2013 onward is pretty glaring. Bringing in Harvin, which led to losing out on Tate. That whole fucking 2013 draft which has only netted you a backup tight end in Luke Willson (and no, they don’t get credit for Spencer Ware, because he was let go and has done all of his damage with the Chiefs). Then, there’s the Jimmy Graham deal, and the whole fucking 2014 draft. Paul Richardson has given us exactly 1 fully healthy season before turning into an expensive free agent. Justin Britt gave us a couple of mediocre seasons as right tackle and left guard before finding his place at center. Cassius Marsh and some of the guys below him were non-factors on defense and mostly just good special teamers. Then again with the 2015 draft. Clark and Lockett were hits, but Glowinski was a bust, and everyone else is gone. Now, take a look at the 2016 draft: the best player is arguably Alex fucking Collins, yet ANOTHER late-round running back this team threw away! Ifedi has been miserable, Reed has been a run-stuffing defensive tackle, Vannett looks like nothing more than a 3rd or 2nd tight end at best, Prosise is a living, breathing ankle sprain, and the rest of those guys are backups, training camp fodder, or out of the game entirely. That brings us to the 2017 draft, where it looks like maybe they got their mojo back with guys like Griffin, Jones, Carson, and hopefully Pocic, but also features your top selection in McDowell who might never play a single down in the league. Then, when you compound it with some of the other deals, giving Joeckel so much money, giving Lacy ANY money, consistently trading away high draft picks for veterans. My confidence with this line of decision-making hasn’t totally plummeted, but I’ll say this: 2018 is going to go a LONG way toward either restoring my faith, or leading me to construct a noose and hang myself.
I mean, shit, what happened to their prowess in picking guys on the third day of the draft???
In short, because this one ballooned WAY out of control, yesterday’s post is probably a bit of an overreaction, with an asterisk of We’ll See. This thing has been trending downward for three years, so we just have to hope that the new blood is able to come in and turn things around. If they can’t, or if injuries continue to kill us, or if guys don’t develop into stars for whatever reason, or if the front office keeps kicking the can down the road with some of these contracts and draft pick trades, then I’ve been on record for a while now saying this could be another Seattle Mariners situation: a lot of high-priced veterans getting this team to at or around .500, but ultimately treading water for a bunch of years in a row.