Seahawks Death Week: Who Might Be Leaving In 2022?

Around this time of year, I like to peruse Spotrac to see what the salary cap looks like for the next season. Take the accuracy with a grain of salt, of course; football wonks tend to prefer other sources for their salary cap info. Kill me, I like Spotrac.

Heading into 2022, they say we have around $53 million to play around with, minus money to be held onto for additional dead cap, practice squad, IR replacements, etc. I don’t want to get in the weeds here; $53 million sounds pretty good to me for a team that could also save over $16 million by cutting Bobby Wagner, and another $11 million if Russell Wilson forces a trade.

Those are, obviously, the two biggest questions heading into this offseason. Much has been made of Wilson and his will he/won’t he demand a trade; sadly, we’re going to be talking about this all damn year. And, if he happens to stay, then we’re going to be talking about him all damn year NEXT year when it comes to another contract extension. Ye gods. But, Bobby is much more interesting to me. I don’t think there’s any question that he’s lost a step compared to his peak. He makes fewer real impact plays, but he’s as smart and steady as they come, and the unquestioned leader on this defense (if not the entire team). It’s not that he’s bad, it’s just that he’s drastically overpaid. You could find a replacement in the draft, or on the scrap heap, and get at least 80% of his production for pennies on the Wagner Dollar. That’s almost certainly money that could be better used elsewhere on the defense.

For the life of me, I can’t see this organization cutting him cold turkey, not with Pete and John in the spots they’re in. Assuming they stay, I think Bobby stays. Now, it’s more likely the team comes to him and works out another extension at a lower overall value – knowing that he’s not going to get anything NEAR what he’s making now on the open market – in hopes that he’ll retire a Seahawk, but that puts the ball in his court: will he take a reasonable cut in salary (and still probably be overpaid to some degree) or will he walk and try to find more money elsewhere?

I’ll be very VERY disappointed if he’s still a $20+ million cap hit in 2022, let’s put it that way.

Moving on, there are some big Seahawks names who were on the final year of their deals in 2021! The biggest being Duane Brown and Quandre Diggs. I’m pretty happy to see us get out from under Duane Brown at this point. I suppose it’s possible he re-signs after testing the market and finding it lacking, but at some point we have to think about his replacement. Maybe there’s a better free agent ready to hit the market we could bring in on a long-term deal! Considering we have no first round draft pick, that seems to be our best hope for 2022 and beyond. As for Diggs, I’ve talked about him a lot this year: he’s one of the best free safeties in football and he’s going to want to be paid as such (even with his current injury; he should make a full recovery no problem). Considering we have Adams at one of the highest numbers for a safety as well, to bring him back would mean pouring a crazy amount of money into the safety position. Seems like bad team-building.

More offensive players who could be moving on include Ethan Pocic, Gerald Everett, Brandon Shell, and Rashaad Penny. All of them are fine, but I don’t think any of them would be missed. There should be better center options available, who won’t be injured all the time like Pocic. Everett was good this year, but is he worth $6+ million? I dunno. I think we’ve already found our replacement for Shell in Jake Curhan, so no big loss there. And, as mentioned before, I’d be okay with Penny returning on an incentive-laden deal, but we also need to bring in running backs who will stay reasonably healthy!

On the defensive side, D.J. Reed and Sidney Jones were both quality cornerbacks for us. Certainly leaps and bounds better than Tre Flowers, even if they’re not bona fide superstars. Without them, the only cornerbacks of note on the roster in 2022 are Ugo Amadi (a nickel guy) and Tre Brown (who suffered a serious, season-ending injury as a rookie this year). Reed is the priority over Jones, but I wouldn’t mind having both of them return (that, again, becomes more difficult if you’re paying Diggs and Adams top-of-the-market safety money).

Along the D-Line, we’re looking at losing Rasheem Green and Al Woods. There’s also the question of keeping guys like Carlos Dunlap, Benson Mayowa, Kerry Hyder, and L.J. Collier (who will all be free agents after the 2022 season, but could all be cut for salary cap relief beforehand). You even have to worry about Poona Ford (also a free agent after 2022), since his cap hit is so high; remember the team tried to re-work Jarran Reed’s deal before cutting him when he refused. The only linemen who feel even remotely safe for 2022 are Darrell Taylor (technically a linebacker/defensive end hybrid), Alton Robinson, and Bryan Mone (a restricted free agent who almost certainly will be retained). I can’t envision a scenario where the Seahawks totally and completely clean house, so I have to believe some of the guys on the final years of their deal in 2022 will stick around, at least to compete in Training Camp. I also believe they’d love to bring back Woods on another 1-2 year deal, since he was such a force in 2021. Green is a big question mark, but he’s still pretty young and you’d like to believe he could be had at a reasonable cost. It might be nice to give him another year or two and see if he can put it all together; at the very least, it should be a low-risk gamble.

Some miscellaneous pending free agents include Will Dissly, Alex Collins, Jamarco Jones, and Geno Smith. I don’t know if any of them will be missed, though I have to believe Dissly will be something of a priority, considering he does so much blocking for us (and therefore, between that and his injury history, should be a relatively cheap re-sign).

The only other significant player I see still under contract for 2022 that could possibly be cut is Chris Carson. Given the fact that he needed season-ending neck surgery this year, it seems unlikely that he’ll ever play meaningful football again. I know they talked about it possibly not being career-ending, but let’s be real: he’s one bad hit away from it all being over. I don’t see any responsible way we can bring him back, especially if we opt to re-sign Penny as well. One of those two guys has to go, and in their place, we need to draft a running back of the future. Someone who’s tougher than DeeJay Dallas, but faster and more explosive than Travis Homer (neither of whom – without significant physique changes – are considered to be every-down backs). At this point, even though we don’t save a ton of money cutting Carson, I’d still choose Penny over him (although, the smartest move might be to let both of them go and just hand the keys over to an up-and-coming rookie).

What we’re looking at, of course, is a lot of holes on this roster to fill, with potentially even more on the horizon than we anticipated (not counting the possible loss of Carroll or Schneider). So, tomorrow, let’s look at those holes, and how close we are to a potential turnaround.

What Happened To The Seahawks’ Pass Rush?!

I’m going to be getting into a lot of this next week, when we do our official week-long post-mortem of the 2021 Seahawks’ season, so you might be reading some of these sentiments again very soon. But, what the hell?!

In 2020, the Seahawks had 46 sacks, which was good for 7th in the NFL. In 2021, through the same number of games, we have 29 sacks, which is good for 28th in the NFL. Now, granted, our 2020 sack leader – Jamal Adams, with 9.5 – had a grand total of 0 sacks in 2021. But, even if you tacked those onto our 29, that still puts us 7.5 sacks short. What gives?

What’s truly baffling, to me at least, is that we pretty much ran back with the same group of guys. We lost K.J. Wright (who accounted for all of 2 sacks in a hybrid linebacker role), but we replaced him with Jordyn Brooks (who has 1 sack, but has otherwise filled in remarkably well in the weak-side linebacker role that Wright manned for so many seasons). We also lost Jarran Reed (he had 6.5 sacks in 2020), but we filled in with Al Woods, who has been a monster in the middle (in spite of only 1.5 sacks this year). Plus, we got to add Darrell Taylor and his 6 sacks, so this all feels like a wash.

Once again, we’re in an unenviable position of having Rasheem Green be our team sack leader. He currently has 6.5 sacks, sharing the lead with Carlos Dunlap. Dunlap, I have to say, gets a lot of the blame from me here. He had 5 sacks in 8 games last year, and only 1.5 more in twice the number of games. Also, all but his half-sack came in the month of December (in three games, no less), meaning he’s been a non-entity for the vast majority of the season, when it mattered most. You can blame usage all you want; there were games where he played in only a handful of snaps. But, if he were truly playing to his abilities, he would’ve forced the team’s hand. Circumstances, and his poor play, dictated his usage early in the season. Even though we brought him back on a relatively team-friendly deal, it still turned out to be a bust considering expectations.

Also, what happened to Benson Mayowa? Well, for one thing, he switched his number from one in the 90’s (which is far more appropriate for a defensive end like him) to the number 10, which looks asinine on him. I blame that 100% for his decline from 6 sacks in 2020 to 1 sack in 2021. Otherwise, how does someone get so bad for no good reason? Holy hell. He’s on another team-friendly deal, costing us significantly less money than Dunlap, and somehow he’s even a bigger bust!

Those are the biggies. Adams, Reed, Mayowa, and Dunlap were our top four sack guys and accounted for 27 of our 46 sacks in 2020. This season, our top guys are Green, Dunlap, and Taylor, who have a combined 19 sacks; the next people on the list are Woods and Mone, tied for 1.5 sacks apiece. Last year, we had 10 guys with two or more sacks; this year it’s just the three through the same number of games.

Alton Robinson is another guy we had higher expectations for; he had 4 sacks as a rookie and only 1 this year. Kerry Hyder was our big free agent acquisition; he had 8.5 sacks with the 49ers last year; he has 0.5 this year. L.J. Collier had 3 sacks last year, and has hardly even played this year. Robert Nkemdiche was an under-the-radar free agent signing who has miraculously stayed on the team all year, but to very little impact.

It’s a horrid mix of high-profile whiffs, a bad scheme, poor drafting, and even worse development. I don’t know who’s in charge of coaching up the D-Line, but he has been a miserable failure (I see the name “Clint Hurtt” on the team’s website, but that means nothing to me; who is that? Some guy, I guess. It might as well be me out there coaching the team’s defensive linemen!).

We all knew relying on a defensive back to get the most sacks on our roster was just asking for trouble, but there was a lot of reason for optimism (aside from Jamal Adams) heading into 2021 that we could parlay a strong finish to the 2020 season into at least as good, if not better things for our pass rush. But, we’ve taken a significant step back, to the point where there’s really only one player worth a damn in our pass rush (Darrell Taylor) and everyone else is depth/fill-in at best.

I don’t even know what the Seahawks can do here. Do you re-sign Rasheem Green and hope he continues to get incrementally better? He has 13.5 sacks in the four years since we drafted him. Do you keep Dunlap, Mayowa, and Hyder even though it would be cheaper to cut them now and try to fill in with hopefully more productive guys on the scrap heap? Is Alton Robinson ever going to explode, or is he just the second coming of Rasheem Green? Do we even bother giving L.J. Collier another shot? What can we expect from Jamal Adams as he enters the teeth of his big-money contract going forward?

What a wasteland. The thing is, the linebackers have been solid (as usual) and the secondary has been much better. But, we’re poised to lose Quandre Diggs (unless we want to have the highest-paid safety tandem in football) and I don’t even know who’s sticking around among our cornerbacks. There’s a shot at a quality defense here; they’ve proven to be effective at limiting points at least. But, they’re never going to be an elite unit without a pass rush.

I don’t have the answers, and I’m not sure the organization does either. I’m sure they’ll try to do something, but the question is: will it work? I guess we’ll see.

The Rams To Cover Against The Seahawks Seems Like The Easiest Money I’ve Ever Seen

It sure does seem like the Seahawks have been screwed by the NFL postponing our game against the Rams in L.A. thanks to their rampant outbreak of COVID this past week. The extra two days have allowed the Rams to get back some of their best players – like Jalen Ramsey and Von Miller – while it’s led to the Seahawks losing guys like Tyler Lockett, D.J. Reed, and Bryan Mone (although, I get the argument that a couple of these positive tests came down on Sunday, in time to eliminate them from competition for that day; you wonder if there wouldn’t otherwise be some delayed reporting at play if the game indeed took place as originally scheduled).

Of course, the Rams always had Aaron Donald, Cooper Kupp, and Matthew Stafford available, so it’s probably fair to assume they would’ve roundly defeated the Seahawks anyway. What might’ve been a forfeit for L.A. is now looking like a certain victory, especially considering they have everything to play for (a win would put them in the driver’s seat for the division) while the Seahawks have next-to-nothing to play for.

It’s baffling, then, why the Rams are only favored by 7 points. This is as big of a no-brainer as I’ve ever seen; I would’ve figured the spread would be anywhere from 8-10 points considering the matchup, regardless of what’s been happening with the comings and goings of COVID-tested players the last few days.

Earlier this season, at home, in primetime (when we usually play our best), the Seahawks lost 26-17. Granted, that was the game where Russell Wilson mashed his finger; but that injury happened late enough for the game to already be decided (10 fourth quarter points led by Geno Smith against a prevent defense doesn’t – as Shania Twain once said – impress-ah me much).

Last year, the Seahawks famously went 1-2 against the Rams, losing on the road by a touchdown and at home in the playoffs by 10 points. In 2019, we lost in L.A. by a whopping 16 points. Putting up points has been exceedingly difficult against the Rams in recent seasons, particularly due to the fact that their defensive line owns property in our backfield. Every third down feels impossible, because one or more individuals are right on top of Russell Wilson within a second or two.

It doesn’t matter what year we’re talking about; this dates back for the entirety of the Russell Wilson era in Seattle. Now, focus in on 2021. These 5-8 Seahawks have been pretty atrocious, especially on offense. The O-Line has been a miserable failure, Russell Wilson has yet to adapt to the new scheme, and points have been VERY hard to come by. Who in their right mind would expect this Seahawks team to hang with a 9-4 Rams team playing for the division and a possible top seed in the NFC?

7 points feels like a gift. Even assuming some sort of back-door cover, the worst you should expect is a push. But, this feels like a game where the Rams will get a two-score lead early and coast to victory. I expect something in the 33-13 range, with a minimum of 4 sacks on Russell Wilson, and something like a 20% conversion rate on 3rd/4th downs. It’s required a hostile takeover to get back the Taylor Family Farm, but I’m willing to once again put it all on the line in this one. The Rams will have no trouble whatsoever dismantling the Seahawks later today. Get your bets in now; you can thank me later!

Cooper Kupp against a depleted secondary (missing both Reed and Jamal Adams), the Rams’ running game against our depleted defensive line (losing Mone in the interior is huge towards our ability to stop the run), and, of course, Aaron Donald & Co. will continue beating our asses like the red-headed step-children that we are.

When it’s all over, once and for all we can give up the dream on the 2021 season (if you haven’t already done so). Just in time to lose two of our next three games to close out the year in miserable fashion. Yay football.

The Seahawks Were Sloppy, Inept; Lost In Overtime To The Titans

I have a very strong belief that 30 points should be enough to win any game in the NFL. If you lose a game where you score 30 points, that means your defense stinks and gave the game away. It’s a very nearly foolproof theory, but here we have the Seahawks losing to the Titans 33-30, and my first instinct is to blame the offense.

Now, don’t get me wrong, the Seahawks’ defense more than helped gift-wrap this game to the Titans; they were as undisciplined as I’ve ever seen them. They gave up 182 yards to Derrick Henry and 347 yards to Ryan Tannehill. Julio Jones had 128 yards receiving and A.J. Brown would’ve had something similar if he wasn’t on my fantasy team and therefore dropping 2 out of every 3 passes thrown his way. They couldn’t cover anyone, they took bad angles, they over-pursued in their pass rush – leaving wide-open cut-back lanes for Henry, as well as large chunks of YAC to him in the screen game. Oh, and they had about a billion stupid penalties to keep Titans’ drives alive, many of them converting third down incompletions into first downs. Late hits to the quarterback, taunting, late hits out of bounds. Just the stupidest fucking infractions that – make no mistake – the Seahawks were 100% guilty of. These are the rules the NFL has decided to put in place. All the players know these are the rules. You can bring your gripes to the NFL’s front office, but the refs on the field did their jobs in enforcing some of these idiotic rules. Some 90 year old white owner doesn’t like it when players yell at each other and show any semblance of emotion, so now we’re stuck in this world (until they finally come to realize no one enjoys the No Fun League and de-emphasize them again).

Anyway, yeah, the Seahawks’ defense could’ve drastically helped themselves by not being fucking knuckleheads. But, I’m sorry, this game is on the offense.

How do you run up a 24-9 halftime lead and lose 33-30? It’s no coincidence that the Titans’ offense exploded for everything in the second half; the Seahawks’ defense was fucking exhausted from being on the field the entire time! Time of Possession is usually a meaningless stat, but the Titans had the ball for 42:33 compared to our 22:42. You’ll take that sort of discrepancy in the first half, when the Seahawks were connecting on big plays and scoring fast touchdowns. But, the second half saw the Seahawks punt the ball on 4 out of 6 possessions (the other two were a quick-strike 68-yard TD pass to Freddie Swain, who got behind the defense somehow on 3rd & 12; and the last possession of the half, that ended because we ran out of time). The Seahawks had one drive in the second half and overtime that went almost 5 minutes (before a punt); every other possession lasted anywhere from 29 seconds to 1:54.

And, in that span, the Titans got stronger on both sides of the ball. Derrick Henry was like tackling a real life rhinoceros. He was never going to be denied when he had the ball in his hands. It’s almost insane that the Titans played for the tie at the end, because there’s no way in hell we could’ve stopped him on a 2-point conversion to win it. That’s why I’m not mad at Jason Myers for missing that extra point in the second half. This outcome was inevitable.

I don’t know, exactly, what the deal was with the offense, either. Clearly, we couldn’t run the ball. That’s a problem. I don’t think it was for want of trying, Carson had 13 carries. But, he only generated 31 yards; so, is that an offensive line issue? Is it a play-calling issue? Is it Russell Wilson having a bad game and making poor decisions? Is it the scheme?

There were a couple of frustrating moments in the first half, but otherwise I thought the offense looked as good as it did a week ago in Indy. Then, it just totally shut down, against a defense who – again – let Freddie Swain beat them for 68 yards!

I figured I’d be more upset by the loss, but to tell the truth I’m more baffled than anything. It’s like someone hit me in the head and I’m left in a daze. I know for a fact I’d be much more angry if this loss came to an NFC West opponent, or one of the other NFC contenders. But, honestly? If you’re going to lose a game, losing one to an AFC opponent isn’t the worst thing in the world. As far as tie-breakers go, it’s relatively harmless. Of course, you can’t have too many of these, because the ultimate tie-breaker is simple Win/Loss record. But, the 2021 Seahawks were never going to go undefeated. If this wakes us up and gets us to perform better and smarter against the teams we really NEED to beat, then I don’t think all hope is lost.

But, if this is foreshadowing a defense that’s going to be totally inept – either because we don’t have the talent to stop high-level offenses, or because we don’t have the coordinator to coach these guys up – and an offense that’s going to go in the tank for long stretches of games, then I guess we’ll all look back at this loss as a bad omen for the season.

My ultimate take-away is that we’re never going to see the Titans again. Their offense was always going to be a bad matchup for us. But, thankfully, no NFC team has a running back like Derrick Henry; as far as running backs go, the only scary one remaining on our schedule is Dalvin Cook next week, and I expect us to be super fired up to shut him down after being so thoroughly embarrassed on the ground this past Sunday. So, it’s not like we have to worry about the Titans competing for a playoff spot with us, or have them looming as a potential post-season opponent (yes, I understand the Super Bowl is a thing that exists, but there’s no way the Titans are making it out of the AFC). On to Minnesota.

Kudos to Lockett (8 for 178 and a TD) and Swain (5 for 95 and a TD). Anti-Kudos to Metcalf (6 for 53 on 11 targets, plus multiple penalties).

Kudos to Bobby Wagner for his 20 tackles, his sack, and his two quarterback hits. Kudos to Al Woods for being an animal in the middle (filling in for Bryan Mone, who was out injured), with 7 tackles and a sack. Kudos to Alton Robinson for his sack and forced fumble, and to Kerry Hyder for recovering that fumble and being a menace in the backfield.

Anti-Kudos to the secondary. Just, all of it. D.J. Reed had an awful taunting penalty. Tre Flowers had his usual miserable game. Quandre Diggs couldn’t contain Henry on his 60-yard touchdown. And Jamal Adams had no positive impact on this game, while negatively impacting it with his own penalties. Fucking sorry effort by the whole lot of ’em.

Also, a weird bad game from our kicking duo. Michael Dickson had at least two punts sail into the endzone, and of course, Myers had that missed extra point that loomed potentially large. I guess there’s a non-zero chance the defense might’ve stopped Henry an inch short of the goalline, or maybe the Titans would’ve run a dumb non-Henry play for the game-tying 2-point conversion had they needed it to force overtime. I dunno.

Lots to work on before next week! Maybe start with the rulebook.

Seahawks Position Breakdown 2021: Defensive Line

Well, I waited as long as I could possibly wait before getting to the defensive line. I even rearranged my whole posting schedule for the last month to give the team time to make any more moves they were going to make to the D-Line before the regular season started (this post was supposed to happen almost two weeks ago!). I guess we’re keeping Geno Atkins on ice until we get past the first game?

I mean, it makes sense. The defensive line has largely been set since earlier this offseason, when we waived Jarran Reed and re-signed Carlos Dunlap. It’s actually one of the great strengths of this team, at least on paper! Meanwhile, the Seahawks continue to tinker with the cornerback spot until – who is Bless Austin, you ask? I have no idea – we’re all left wondering what the hell is going on. Oh well, better luck for my posting schedule next year!

I’m a big fan of what the Seahawks have going at defensive line. I was really happy with the group in the second half of last year, and that starts with Carlos Dunlap. Oh sure, he’s going into his 12th season, but he’s just a solid, steady dude who gets regular pressure on the quarterback and is able to convert enough of that pressure into sacks.

Dunlap leads a pretty impressive DE group that gets production all the way down to the last man. Benson Mayowa returns; he has 13 sacks over the last two years. As a part-time pass-rush specialist, he’s nails.

Alton Robinson and Darrell Taylor are sort of hybrid DEs and SAM linebackers who we’re all excited about. I’m loathe to expect too much of a jump from year one to year two (especially with someone like Taylor, who didn’t even play last year), but we saw Robinson’s baseline last year and 4.0 sacks as a rookie is nothing to sneeze at. If he runs it back, fine. If he does slightly better, great!

The newcomer is Kerry Hyder, who has racked up two seasons of 8+ sacks in his 5-year career. I don’t know his full story, but by all accounts he’s a hard worker and is someone who will fit into our scheme really well.

Then, there are the low men on the totem pole, Rasheem Green and L.J. Collier. Granted, both have been varying degrees of disappointing, but even they bring SOMETHING to the table. I know we all expected more out of Green, who left college early; we kept hearing about how he needed to grow into his body or whatever. Well, it’s been three years and he has a total of 7.0 sacks to show for it. Heading into the last year of his rookie deal, it’s really a make-or-break season for him. He did play pretty exceptionally during the pre-season; I honestly don’t remember him ever showing out like that before. So, maybe things are starting to click; or maybe he’s finally grown into that body. I guess we’ll see.

It was interesting to hear how many people on Twitter were speculating about the Seahawks possibly trading away or cutting L.J. Collier during and after the final roster cut-downs. I mean, I can see why they said those things; he didn’t have a particularly great pre-season. You never hear stories about him in practice or training camp. His rookie year was largely a bust and his 2020 season was improved, but no one’s writing home to mom about 3.0 sacks. I don’t have a lot of positive things to say, other than he’s another guy to throw onto the pile. He did show flashes of making an impact at times last year, and ideally I think that’s all you need. Collier isn’t a starter for this team. He’s in the rotation. He can slide inside to play defensive tackle (as well as Green and Hyder, for that matter), and ultimately I think the team likes him. I also think his value is so low that you’d essentially be throwing him away for nothing. He was a first round pick and he’s probably currently worth a 6th round pick in return. For an able body you can plug and play, that’s not a trade I’m looking to make, especially when there’s at least SOME upside, if you squint your eyes and focus real hard.

My favorite guys on the team are always the defensive tackles, and I think the Seahawks have some good ones!

Poona Ford is our anchor here, with Jarran Reed being waived and signing with the Chiefs. That’s a scary proposition for some Seahawks fans, considering Reed has a semi-proven track record of making an impact in the pass-rush game from the interior; Poona has 2.5 career sacks across three season. But, the Seahawks gave him a raise this offseason for a reason: I think they see great things ahead for this erstwhile undrafted free agent. I do too! He’s got remarkable quickness that I think will translate to running into some more sacks and tackles for loss now that he’s the main guy in the middle.

Al Woods is just a huge plug in the middle of that line. He’s another aging veteran, going into his 11th season, but it doesn’t look like he’s lost anything. As long as he’s healthy, he should provide the run-stuffing we need, at a great value, I might add.

Finally, Bryan Mone rounds out the trio. He’s another undrafted free agent who is providing a lot of value and depth in the middle. He’s heading into his third year and is just an all-around pro already.

So, I can see why Geno Atkins is a target for this team, I just don’t know who you cut to pick him up. All of these guys will contribute, and at Geno’s age it’s fair to wonder what he has left in the tank.

As I’ve noted before, there’s a lot of excitement from the fanbase surrounding the pass rush on this team. This does appear to be as deep as we were in 2013. But, I think you have to take that with the caveat that there isn’t quite the top-tier talent in this group that there was in our Super Bowl-winning year. No one is holding a candle to Michael Bennett or Cliff Avril in their heydays.

I guess I’m happy with this unit, but I’m also a little anxious too. There’s a lot riding on these guys, especially with how poor the cornerback group looks. When you look at the defense as a whole, we’re counting on a lot of production from a lot of unproven guys. So, at least in the early going, it would be nice to see a big impact from the likes of Dunlap, Mayowa, Hyder, and the other studs on this defense.

I’m giving the defensive line a solid B+, with an opportunity to get into the A range if they manage to generate sacks into the 40’s this year. I’m less worried about the run defense, but obviously that needs to be a point of focus, because if teams are in a lot of 3rd & Shorts, they’re definitely going to convert a high percentage of them thanks to this weak secondary.

How Badly Do The Seahawks Need Jamal Adams?

I’m just going to get this out of the way up top: I want the Seahawks to give Jamal Adams an extension. I want them to make him the highest paid safety in the league, and I want him here and happy at least for the duration of THIS new deal (maybe not on a third contract, though). But, while these things tend to sort themselves out with no real trouble, there are occasions where the team and the player are too far apart in their values, and too stubborn to make that move towards the middle. That’s when you see things blow up, with players holding out, with teams making hasty trades to try to recoup some of their lost capital, with both sides doing their best to save face in the aftermath.

I don’t THINK things will blow up with the Seahawks and Jamal Adams, but I’d be a fool to totally bury my head in the sand and believe everything is going to be hunky dory.

We have to be ready to live in a world where Jamal Adams has played his last down in a Seahawks uniform. So, let’s look at what we have here, and ask ourselves: is what we have (on defense) enough?

The Seahawks have made a lot of improvements, without a lot of deficits, to make the pass rush better than it has been in the last couple years. And remember, the pass rush wasn’t too bad in the back-half of 2020! We brought back Carlos Dunlap and Benson Mayowa on team-friendly deals. We obviously retained Rasheem Green and L.J. Collier. We get to witness Alton Robinson hopefully take a leap from his first year to his second. We get to HOPEFULLY see why it was so important for the Seahawks to trade up to draft Darrell Taylor last year. Our big free agent splash was to sign Kerry Hyder, who looked really good for the 49ers a year ago. And, the possible cherry on top – assuming there are no further legal issues – is Aldon Smith, who is looking to continue to resuscitate his once-amazing career.

Along the interior, we lost Jarran Reed, which is a blow, no doubt about it. But, we still have Poona Ford and Bryan Mone. We brought back Al Woods to be a big plug in the run game. We have a bunch of really young guys to develop behind them. And, we’re taking a flyer on Robert Nkemdiche, who has been a HUGE bust thus far in his NFL career, but was nevertheless a first round pick in 2016 for a reason. If anyone is going to get the most out of this guy, I would venture to say it’s the Seahawks. He’s gotta want it, of course – and I think that’s the biggest hurdle of all – but if he’s interested, he’s got all the tools to be really special.

So, is that enough? Boy, there is A LOT to like, especially among the defensive ends. It’s not the highest-profile pass rushing unit in the league, but I really do believe they can be effective.

But, let’s try to be objective here. Essentially, it’s the same group as last year, only we traded Reed for Hyder. That concerns me, because finding interior pass rushing is so much harder. How good will Hyder be rushing on the inside, in this system? I guess we’ll find out. I’m also at a point with Taylor where I’ll believe it when I see it; he’s still a rookie in my eyes, since he has yet to play a down in the NFL. And, you HAVE to worry about depth, especially if/when the important guys get injured. Green and Collier are okay complementary pieces, but how diminishing will those returns be if they have to play on an every-down basis?

Most importantly of all, if we agree this is pretty much the same group as last year, you have to concede that the 2020 Seahawks also had Jamal Adams, his blitzing, and his 9.5 sacks out of the secondary. How effective will that group be in this hypothetical scenario where we DON’T have Adams?

That’s something I really don’t want to think about.

The wild card in all of this is what the Seahawks might get in return, if they were forced to trade Adams. Let’s say, for instance, we deal him for another team’s disgruntled holdout? What if we were to get Stephon Gilmore from the Patriots?

There’s a lot of risk there, obviously. Adams will be 26, Gilmore will be 31. But, given Adams’ style of play, I’d say the injury risk is probably a wash; the risk with Gilmore is more in the realm of old age slowing him down. Gilmore MIGHT be savvy enough to use his veteran wiles and sustain through the guaranteed money years of his next deal, just as Adams MIGHT not blow out a vertebra in his neck in the next 2-3 years.

In the short term, though, this could be an interesting move. Instead of valuing pass rush above all else, we’ll take our existing pass rush and combine it with vastly improved coverage in our secondary. Instead of D.J. Reed and whoever, it’ll be Gilmore and Reed and some really solid depth behind them. Improved coverage, in its own way, can aide in generating pass rush, by giving our guys enough time to beat the opposing team’s blocking.

Of course, the obvious dream scenario is to extend Adams AND trade for Gilmore. But, I don’t know if we live in that kind of world where I get to have whatever the fuck I want. Odds are, Gilmore is a pipe dream, and it’s better to set our focus on Adams.

In the end, the Seahawks don’t need Adams quite as much as they did heading into the 2020 season (mostly thanks to last year’s in-season trade for Dunlap). But, if we have our sights on winning another Super Bowl, I think Adams is vitally important.

Championship teams need superstars, period. Jamal Adams is a superstar. We’ve already seen that he can be wildly effective in this system, so now it’s time to pay the man and get to work.

What Even Happened This Weekend Around The Seahawks?

I guess the 49ers are drafting 3rd overall? Which almost definitely means they’re going after one of the top 3 quarterbacks in this draft. And, since the New York Jets are destined to bungle this no matter who they take, that REALLY means the 49ers are going after one of the top 2 quarterbacks in this draft (#JetsBurn).

So that’s, you know, disconcerting. Jimmy G is the known commodity. He’s the mediocre evil we know. Whoever they end up drafting has a chance to be a superstar; Jimmy G very much has a ceiling that we know and love (he needs an all-time great team around him to be a Super Bowl-contending quarterback, otherwise he’s just okay). Now, obviously, they could also bungle the quarterback pick – because college quarterbacks are notoriously bungle-prone – and I’m sure that’s what we’ll all be rooting for the next few years.

The answer to the question: what are the Seahawks going to do to replace Jarran Reed turned out to be: bring back Al Woods on a 1-year, $3 million deal. He will be 34 years old, and opted out of the 2020 season entirely. I guess I like Al Woods well enough, and it’s not like we’re asking a ton out of our backup defensive tackle … but I see some red flags.

That gives us Poona Ford, Bryan Mone, Al Woods, a couple of young guys I don’t know, and of course guys like L.J. Collier and Rasheem Green who can slide inside on passing downs to rush the quarterback. So, that’s probably enough, even though I bet the Seahawks will look among the undrafted free agents to snatch up another find or two.

As for the Jarran Reed Saga, it came to an end over the weekend as well. The Seahawks had briefly flirted with the idea of trading Reed – for literally anything – rather than have to cut him outright, but found no takers. This, I don’t understand. I especially don’t understand it in light of what happened next. We couldn’t have gotten even a seventh round draft pick in return for Reed? He had double digit sacks not too long ago; he’s still only 29 years old. His contract was THAT prohibitive?

It boggles the mind that the NFL let him go to the Chiefs for 1 year and $5 million (worth up to $7 million, presumably with incentives). That is just insane. I mean, part of me does wonder if he could’ve gotten more for a worse team, so in that sense it’s nice to be playing for a team in Kansas City that will be on TV all the time, with lots of great players around him, to hopefully maximize his value on the free agent market in 2022, when you’d assume the leaguewide salary cap will go back up again.

Still, it’s hard – as a Seahawks fan – to see Al Woods at 1 year, $3 million, and Jarran Reed at 1 year, $5 million, and not feel ripped off (even though, YES, I know, the Seahawks never could’ve made that work; the dead money alone is $5 million; yadda yadda yadda).

Anyway, that all happened. As well as the Seahawks apparently being on the short list of teams looking to sign Antonio Brown. As we all know, the Seahawks are in pretty desperate need for a quality third receiver. I have to imagine the pricetag for Brown went up considerably, since he was on his best behavior in Tampa and won a Super Bowl with them and everything. I would assume the Seahawks are only listed in this rumor because his agent floated it out there, and we had interest in him in the past. All the better to bolster the market of his client and whatnot.

The Seahawks Are Losing A Jarran Reed, But Gaining A Carlos Dunlap

Spring is the time for new beginnings. Nowhere* is that more clear than in sports.

* – that’s not even remotely true

There was a flurry of action last night in the 6pm hour, as Jarran Reed tweeted out he’d be gone by today. This was apparently because the Seahawks wanted to do a restructured deal to save money under the salary cap, while Reed wanted a long-term extension. I don’t know how you restructure a guy going into the final year of his deal; like, were they going to keep it the same but convert his guaranteed money into bonus money to split it up over 2021 and a ghost year? That, honestly, sounds kinda fucked.

Jarran Reed has proven himself to be a very good defensive tackle, with valuable pass-rushing skills. He had 10.5 sacks in 2018, had a down year in 2019 due to a 6-game suspension to start the season (that he was never able to recover from, with regards to the training camp/practice reps early on), and bounced back in 2020 with 6.5 sacks, while spending half the season on a defensive line that was one of the worst in the league at rushing the passer.

Now, it’s entirely possible that Reed was looking for a deal in some stratospheric realm that the Seahawks – and anyone else – would be foolish to sign him to. He’s not THAT valuable, not a Top 5 kind of guy. But, you know, he’s good. He’s in a second or third tier.

The problem all along was only signing him to the 2-year deal before 2020. It seemed short-sighted at the time, with very little chance to recoup on value; THAT was the time to extend him 3-4 years, at a more managable figure. But, for whatever reason, there was an impasse, and now here we are.

Then, almost immediately after word came down about Reed, it was announced that Carlos Dunlap would be re-signing! Two years, $16.6 million, with $8.5 million guaranteed! The Seahawks will save about $8 million by shedding Reed (still on the hook for a $5 million dead money figure) and are investing in Carlos Dunlap!

It’s bittersweet, because I really REALLY like Jarran Reed. But, I think the Seahawks have a better chance for success with someone like Carlos Dunlap anchoring one of the defensive end spots. We’re going to get more out of Dunlap – at least in the short-term – than we would have out of Reed, even though he’s obviously a better long-term prospect for sustained success.

Of course, now the Seahawks need to probably snag another DT. Poona Ford obviously signed an extension. Is Bryan Mone the other starter? The team really likes him, so that seems to be the way things are trending, but I imagine there’s a bargain-basement tackle out there for the Seahawks to grab.

Now, the primary pass rushing rotation includes Dunlap, Mayowa, Hyder, Alton Robinson, L.J. Collier, Rasheem Green, and 2nd year rookie Darrell Taylor (not to mention Jamal Adams, of course, blitzing from every which way). Not a bad little unit! I’m MUCH more confident in this group than I was heading into 2020, or even 2019 for that matter.

I’m Dreading This Playoff Game Against The Rams

The only other time the Seahawks squared off against the Rams in the playoffs was in the 2004 season. We went 9-7 and won the NFC West – the first of four consecutive divisional championships under Mike Holmgren – in the year before we made it to our first-ever Super Bowl. We were the 4-seed in 2004 and somehow the 8-8 Rams were the 5-seed (the Vikings also had an 8-8 record that year, which landed them the 6-seed). In spite of the Rams’ mediocrity that year, they beat the Seahawks twice in the regular season. Even though it’s pretty difficult to beat the same team three times in the same year, I vaguely remember being concerned, as those Rams seemed to have our number (just as these Rams today – and as all Rams teams in the Pete Carroll era – seem to have our number).

I don’t remember much about that playoff game, other than the fact that we did, in fact, lose to the Rams for a third time that season. 27-20. We apparently overcame a 14-3 first half deficit to take a 20-17 lead early in the fourth quarter. But, we stalled in the red zone on our final drive with less than two minutes to go, turning it over on downs. I remember none of this, of course (the game from that year I remember vividly is the first time we lost to the Rams in the regular season, in overtime, when our friend who’s a 49ers fan showed up halfway through, just as those very same Rams mounted a comeback – down 17 points halfway through the fourth quarter – to win by 6 in less than 15 minutes’ worth of game time; our friend is a jinx and I vowed to never watch any more Seahawks games in his presence for the rest of my life).

I’ll be honest, there’s a significant portion of my brain that thinks the Seahawks already used up all of their good luck in defeating the Rams two weeks ago. Is that at all rational? Of course not. But, such is my life as a Seattle sports fan.

That having been said, I’d rather the game be played in Seattle than in Los Angeles. Since we needed to defeat them two weeks ago to make that happen, I guess I shouldn’t be too broken up over that one. This would be the best thing going in our favor right now. It’s not a lot – and certainly there won’t be any fans in attendance to give us our usual boost – but it’s something. The 2020 Seahawks still went 7-1 at home, so you can’t tell me Home Field Advantage doesn’t exist at all; it might be lessened, but it’ll never be zero.

The next feather in our cap is the Rams’ quarterback situation. It’s only unfortunate that we don’t have that crowd noise here, because I think we could really get into his head what with this being our first home playoff game since 2016. Jared Goff famously injured the thumb on his throwing hand the last time these two teams played. He managed to finish that game, but then needed to have surgery soon thereafter. Goff missed last week’s finale – where the Rams ousted the Cardinals from playoff contention – but he’s been seen practicing on a limited basis so far this week and it looks like he’ll be able to play. His backup is a guy whose name I refuse to learn, who made his first career NFL start last week. The backup is mobile, but obviously far from good.

I think a lot of Seahawks fans are looking forward to having Goff back behind center; I don’t know if I’m necessarily on the same wavelength. I think Goff – as flawed as he is – is still leaps and bounds better than his backup (otherwise, at this point, I don’t know why the backup wouldn’t have been given more of a shot, given Goff’s limitations from a mobility standpoint, as well as the fact that he seems like a fucking dullard). Nevertheless, if the Seahawks are going to win this game, they’re going to need Bad Goff to show up. The Rams are 4-6 when Goff throws an interception; they’re 5-0 when he doesn’t (technically, they’re 6-0, since he clearly didn’t throw an interception in the game he didn’t play in). They’re 2-5 in games where Goff has been sacked two or more times. In only one of the games the Rams lost did Goff have a passer rating over 100. There’s a pretty clear correlation there that if you can harass Goff into mistakes, it means bad things for the Rams as a team.

The Seahawks should have the horses on defense to do just that. There are concerns, though. Jarran Reed and Bryan Mone – two of our three best defensive tackles – came up injured in the last week. Reed has an oblique strain and is questionable; Mone has an ankle injury that he previously had to overcome after missing a few weeks. This is the exact reason why you hate to lose someone like Snacks Harrison, but he couldn’t bring himself to stick it out for the playoff run as a backup/bench guy. This obviously hurts us in our interior pass rush, but more importantly it seriously weakens our run defense. I do expect both to play, but it also wouldn’t shock me in the slightest for one or both of them to come up lame in the first quarter and have to sit out the rest of the game.

The Rams want to run they ball. They’re DYING to run the ball! Whatever it takes to reduce the load on Goff’s shoulders. You want to know why the Seahawks looked so good in the second half of that game down in L.A. earlier this season? Because the Rams went super conservative with a run-heavy gameplan so their quarterback wouldn’t lose the game for them! Run defense has been the Seahawks’ specialty throughout this season – even when our pass defense and pass rush stunk early on, we could be counted on to stifle the opposing run attack – but there have been spots here and there where we’ve struggled. The Vikings figured us out. The Giants had a couple of drives in their game that cost us dearly. Everyone thinks the Rams are the second coming of The Greatest Show On Turf, but the truth is they love to run it as much as anyone. It opens up their play-action game – which they’re terrific at – and obviously (as I’ve said multiple times) it takes the ball out of Goff’s hands. If the Rams are able to run the ball at will, there’s no stopping them.

At which point, it would be incumbent upon the Seahawks’ offense to show us LITERALLY ANYTHING against the league’s best defense. We’ve managed all of 36 points in two games. I’m pretty confident that it will take more than 18 points to beat the Rams tomorrow.

This really gets to the heart of my discontent; I don’t think the Seahawks’ offense is good against anything other than the worst defenses, none of which will be stepping foot out there on Saturday or ever in these playoffs. We’ve been scuffling for so long now, and for so many different reasons, that we have to conjure up conspiracy theories as to why this side of the ball has been underperforming so badly. Secret, undisclosed injuries; Pete Carroll meddling too much with the offensive gameplan; guys saving themselves for the postseason. That’s on top of legitimate concerns like the actual health and injuries to our offensive linemen and running backs, and the fact that D.K. Metcalf can’t go one game without dropping a ball that hits him on the hands.

I don’t really love this Seahawks offense against ANY defense in the NFC, but I especially don’t like them against the league’s absolute #1 defense.

Which means, *sigh*, we’re in for another low-scoring slog-’em-out slug-fest that’s nothing but punts and turnovers. And that’s probably a BEST-case scenario! There’s a relatively decent chance that the Rams run away with this one; there’s almost zero chance the Seahawks do so. We need to hope the game remains close, and that we can find away to eke it out in the end.

I’m not super confident. I know I’m this dick-wagging swagger machine when I come on here and talk about my favorite sports teams; but I’m really nervous, you guys! I have zero confidence that we’re going to get it done this weekend!

And, of course, when we lose, it’ll probably look a lot like what happened the last time the Rams beat us in the playoffs, when they went on and got throttled by 30 points in the Divisional Round to the Falcons. Presumably, this time it would be the Rams getting throttled by the Packers, but you get the idea.

Fingers crossed for a mini-miracle, everyone! Otherwise, it’s going to be a long and terrible fucking offseason.

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!