Seahawks 2020 Draft Needs: Defense

Check it out, I wrote about the offense yesterday!

I really don’t care what the Seahawks do on the offensive side of the ball, if I’m being honest. For the purposes of competing in 2020, I think we’re set. If I had my druthers, the Seahawks would devote every single draft pick to the defense, because that’s where they’re most deficient; but I live in the world. I know they’re not going to do that, because that would be idiotic. There’s a reason why I’m not an NFL general manager, and it’s thinking like this that continues to hold me back! Certainly not my lack of experience or connections or scouting know-how or temperament or lack of people skills or drive or ability to dress myself properly or poor math skills or …

The thing is, while I know it’ll probably be split pretty close to even when it comes to filling holes on offense and defense, as long as they avoid the offensive line, I don’t think there’s anything they can really do wrong when it comes to drafting for offense (other than taking a running back in the first three rounds). They SHOULD be able to hit on any wide receiver or tight end they land on, because they have Russell Wilson at quarterback. He’s the cure for what ails pretty much everything on this team. The only way they “miss” is if they draft someone who’s injury prone, but that’s not so much the organization’s fault as it is bad luck.

The impetus, however, for what’s going to happen this week – what’s going to make-or-break the next few years – is if we hit or miss on a key defender, particularly defensive end. We NEED to hit on this position, more than we need to hit on anything else; more than we’ve needed to hit on anything in YEARS.

The Seahawks have a pretty pisspoor track record when it comes to defensive linemen in the draft. L.J. Collier is the most recent example, Malik McDowell is the most GLARING example, but then there’s Rasheem Green’s underwhelming first two seasons, Naz Jones’ even more underwhelming first three seasons, Jarran Reed’s one good season, Quinton Jefferson’s career as a backup, Cassius Marsh’s good Special Teams career, and all the other guys nobody remembers (of which there are plenty in the Carroll/Schneider era).

On the good side of the ledger, we have Bruce Irvin (probably a reach at #15 overall), and Frank Clark (who we didn’t deem worthy of a $20+ million-per-year contract, so we traded him to the Chiefs). That’s it. How great has it been, Pete Campbell?

Well, my name’s not Bob, but I appreciate your candor.

I know it’s pretty pointless to try and expect a rookie to impress right out of the box – especially in a year like this, when we don’t even know if there’s going to be a Training Camp or anything else – but we can’t fuck around here. If I see the letters TCU after the guy’s name that we draft, I’m going to blow a gasket. I want a legitimate pass rushing threat (from a good fucking school) – like one of the umpteen guys we’ve passed on throughout the years – and not one of these “tweeners” who can play D-tackle or 5-technique end. Give me a fucking guy who can line up outside and get to the fucking quarterback already! Use all your picks to make it happen if you have to!

Beyond that, it’s probably wise to expect another mid-round defensive tackle. I’m hearing chatter about linebacker again – even though we drafted two guys last year – but it would make sense a little bit, as this is (almost certainly) K.J. Wright’s last year with the team, and Bruce Irvin is only on a one-year deal himself. And, who knows, probably expect another late-round DB to sit behind our starters and learn the system.

But, again, I don’t care about any of that. Give me a fucking defensive end we can all count on, or don’t bother coming home at all!

The Most Important Seahawks Player After Russell Wilson: Ziggy Ansah

Here is the Home Page for this series of posts.

This probably shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, considering I’ve got three other defensive linemen on this list, and I’ve been harping on it all offseason. But, yeah, pass rush. Duh.

I won’t belabor this one too much, because we all know the score. Ziggy Ansah, when healthy, is one of the best pass rushing defensive ends in the league. In odd-numbered years dating back to 2015, he’s had double-digit sacks (reason for hope, 2019!); in even-numbered years, he’s been injured and his production has fallen off a cliff.

The other reasons for hope are that he’s on a 1-year prove-it deal, he’s only 30 years old (still in the prime of his career, one would assume), and he’s super-motivated to put monster numbers up to get a mega contract in 2020. The reasons for pessimism include the fact that last year’s injury was pretty severe, and he’s still not yet cleared for practicing. We might not know if he’ll be ready for the regular season until right before the regular season starts. At that point, how much can you trust a guy who had no training camp to speak of, to just jump right in and be his usual elite self?

I’m pretty down on the group of pass rushers we’ve got on this team, and have been saying time and time again that it might come, but it’s going to be from someone unexpected (even moreso with the news of Jarran Reed’s 6-game suspension). I HATE that type of uncertainty, particularly from a spot on the team that’s so important. I don’t think I would’ve changed anything about what the Seahawks did this offseason from a Frank Clark perspective, or a draft perspective, but I do sort of wish they’d made more of an effort to get at least one more veteran free agent in here with a track record of success. Cassius Marsh and whatever other yokels we’ve got in there now just won’t cut it when it comes to soothing my fears.

Bottom line, if Ansah comes in and plays at a high level this season, the sky’s the limit for this team defensively. He solves a lot of problems. He allows the linebackers to focus on what they do best (instead of trying to make up for a lacking pass rush) and he shortens the time cornerbacks have to stay glued to their guys in the secondary. He creates turnovers with his forced fumbles, his sacks (particularly on third down, which usually forces teams to punt), and in getting opposing quarterbacks to rush their throws or mis-read their progressions.

But, if he struggles, or he flat out doesn’t play – while the contract isn’t a killer – it would be devastating for this defense. Worst case scenario for this team is if Ansah is on the field, but playing through injuries and not getting anything done against the quarterback. That would mean not only is he a non-factor, but he’s also clogging up a roster spot for a younger guy. If he’s hurt and off the field, at least that gives our younger guys some valuable experience on the edge. If this season is going to hinge on Ansah, and it’s not going to be a Super Bowl season either way, then the best thing for the Seahawks would be to coach up the future of this team for a hopeful run in 2020 and beyond.

My biggest wish for the Seahawks in 2019 is for the stars to be healthy and have the metaphorical stars align. I’d love nothing more than for the Best Case Scenario to take place in all of these key areas on the Seahawks’ roster, to see if 2018 was an aberration, or if it was a stepping stone to bigger and better success. In my opinion, that starts at the top with Russell Wilson, but right behind him it largely hinges on Ansah. Where he goes, so goes this defense. The more help Wilson can get from this defense, the better this team will finish as a result.

SEARCH: Seahawks OTAs 53-Man Roster Projections 2019

For as mediocre as I’ve been decrying the Seahawks’ defensive line heading into this season, there’s actually a pretty interesting battle going on. While this team lacks star power – particularly in the pass rush – there’s tremendous depth across the entirety of the front seven. You could argue – aside from Bobby Wagner and Jarran Reed – that it’s ALL depth, but that’s neither here nor there.

The rest of the roster shakes out pretty easily, but I cannot stress this enough: doing a 53-man roster projection in the middle of June is as worthless as it gets. I can’t even describe how wrong I’m going to be by the time Week 1 rolls around; there will be countless injuries and a number of players who make the team that aren’t even on the roster right now!

But, based on the players we have today, here are my thoughts:

Quarterbacks

  • Russell Wilson
  • Geno Smith

This feels like the easiest of the non-Special Teams specialist spots to predict. Paxton Lynch just isn’t an NFL quarterback, period. The only reason he’s here is because he’s tall and a former first round pick. Not that Geno Smith is any great shakes, but at least he’s started; he’s taken the more traditional route to being a career backup.

Running Backs

  • Chris Carson
  • Rashaad Penny
  • Travis Homer
  • C.J. Prosise
  • J.D. McKissic

Already, I don’t feel great about my prediction. If you’d asked me coming out of 2018, I would’ve GUARANTEED that this team takes one of either Prosise or McKissic, but not both. But, I’m just not super sold on the back-end of this group. If Prosise continues to ball out like he’s been doing during these OTAs, I don’t think there’s any way this team can just cut him for nothing. The guys I left off the roster are guys I feel like will be available on the scrap heap if the need arises. The only monkey wrench is the fullback, Nick Bellore. We all know the team likes to run a lot, and having a competent fullback is always a Pete Carroll desire. If he makes the team, probably cross off one of Prosise or McKissic.

Tight Ends

  • Ed Dickson
  • Nick Vannett
  • Will Dissly
  • Jacob Hollister

I don’t have a real strong belief that the team is going to keep four tight ends PLUS George Fant, but I don’t know where the cut comes from! Dickson was our best tight end when he was healthy in 2018, and is our most veteran all-around player at the position. But, at the same time, there is money to be saved by cutting him. Vannett has continued to improve year to year and had sort of a mini-breakout last year (particularly in the endzone). But, at the same time, he’s on the last year of his rookie deal, and I don’t know if he brings anything to the table that’s super special. Dissly looks like a stud, so if he’s healthy by the time the regular season starts, he’s a lock. I think the other lock is Hollister, and not just because we traded for him; clearly based on our history, we have no quibbles with cutting guys we’ve traded for. He sounds like a super stud on special teams and a guy we’d like to hang onto for a while.

Wide Receivers

  • Tyler Lockett
  • D.K. Metcalf
  • David Moore
  • Jaron Brown
  • Keenan Reynolds

Lockett, Metcalf, and Moore are all locks, assuming they stay healthy. I think Brown is about as close to a lock as possible, considering there isn’t a ton of veteran presence in this room. Finally, I think we only hang onto 5 receivers due to the need to have a 4th tight end. With that in mind, the fifth receiver spot is going to be a HUGE battle. I know there’s a prevailing thought that the Seahawks just HAVE to keep all of their rookie drafted receivers, but unless they prove to be special – and healthy – the Seahawks have no problem cutting them and stashing them on the practice squad. For starters, I don’t expect both Jennings and Ursua to be healthy throughout Training Camp; if they are, then we’re having a different discussion. But, in reality, I think the final receiver spot is going to go to one of those two guys or Keenan Reynolds, and I’m giving Reynolds the advantage based on his being in the system for a full year, and actually seeing some playing time last year. With his experience, and his Baldwin-esque build and skillset, I think he’s perfect to slide right into that dependable slot receiver role.

Offensive Line

  • Duane Brown
  • Mike Iupati
  • Justin Britt
  • D.J. Fluker
  • Germain Ifedi
  • Ethan Pocic
  • Jordan Simmons
  • George Fant
  • Jamarco Jones

I’m pretty secure in this prediction. The only way it changes is if there are injuries. Look for Joey Hunt or Phil Haynes to maybe sneak in there if there are any surprises to the core nine I’ve listed above.

Punter/Kicker/Long Snapper

  • Michael Dickson
  • Jason Myers
  • Tyler Ott

Enough said.

Secondary

  • Shaquill Griffin
  • Tre Flowers
  • Akeem King
  • Neiko Thorpe
  • Jeremy Boykins
  • Tedric Thompson
  • Bradley McDougald
  • Ugo Amadi
  • Marquise Blair
  • Delano Hill

I’m not super sold on Boykins. Amadi is also not totally a lock, but Boykins is really just a stab in the dark. I think, if it comes down to a young guy and a veteran, this team keeps the young guy. Boykins was here last year, so he has a leg up, but whatever. This post isn’t really about the secondary.

Defensive Line

  • Ziggy Ansah
  • L.J. Collier
  • Rasheem Green
  • Jacob Martin
  • Jarran Reed
  • Poona Ford
  • Al Woods
  • Quinton Jefferson

Linebackers

  • Bobby Wagner
  • K.J. Wright
  • Cody Barton
  • Ben Burr-Kirven
  • Mychal Kendricks

Linebacker/Ends

  • Shaquem Griffin
  • Barkevious Mingo

You kinda gotta lump all these guys together, because there’s a lot of crossover. I’m pretty secure in my prediction of the 8 linemen and 5 linebackers I’ve listed above. But, just as there will be an interesting battle among the final wide receivers, I think there’s going to be a tremendous battle among the SAM linebackers/defensive ends we’ve got on this roster. I mean, just look at the list of guys I’ve left off of this team:

  • Branden Jackson
  • Cassius Marsh
  • Demarcus Christmas
  • Naz Jones
  • Austin Calitro
  • Jamie Meder

For what it’s worth, I think Christmas is a guy we can stash on the Practice Squad. Jackson is a guy who has hung around for a few years that I know the team likes, but he isn’t really elite at anything. Naz Jones was a healthy scratch for a lot of weeks last year and it appears his time has run out with the Seahawks if he doesn’t seriously flash in Training Camp. Meder is a veteran, but hasn’t really done anything in his career.

The two hardest cuts for me were Marsh and Calitro. Marsh is such an ace at Special Teams, that it wouldn’t surprise me if the team finds a way to keep him. But, he’s essentially a journeyman at this point, so he probably only makes the team if there are injuries at defensive end. He feels like Ansah insurance, which brings me zero comfort. Calitro, on the other hand, was a rookie last year who I thought played pretty well in an injury-ravaged unit. It’s hard for me to see him go, but he’s not really playing the same position as Griffin or Mingo. He’s more of a backup to Wagner/Wright, which they went out and drafted in BBK and Cody Barton. If the team liked Calitro so much, would they have used two moderately high draft picks on guys who can easily replace him? At this point, Barton sounds like he’s a stud, and the guy putting the final nail in Calitro’s coffin.

All of that having been said, I don’t think Griffin or Mingo are locks by any stretch of the imagination. While both are being used in pass rush situations, neither have really excelled at the professional level at that job. Nevertheless, both seem like pretty key guys to our Special Teams, which is why I have them making the 53-man roster. If it comes down to Special Teams or Pass Rush, and the team feels it needs more help with the latter, then don’t be surprised if Marsh takes the spot of Mingo (I can’t imagine the team keeps both Marsh AND Mingo in lieu of waiving Griffin, because why wouldn’t you keep the cost-controlled guy with upside?).

I’m telling you, I’m utterly fascinated with how this whole portion of the team is going to shake out. I’ll be out of town for the entirety of the Pre-Season, which is kind of a bummer, but it’ll still be interesting to follow from afar.

The Seahawks Still Haven’t Fixed The Pass Rush Issue

That title’s a little misleading, because I don’t know if you can ever really fix a pass rush, in that I don’t think it’s possible to have ENOUGH of it. Outside of quarterback, it’s the most important facet of your team (because, obviously, it’s the biggest thing that affects the opposing team’s quarterback). So, even if – on paper – the Seahawks were the most stacked team in the league, I’d still be sitting here saying, “We could use a little more.”

Heading into – and especially coming out of – the draft, the Seahawks appeared to be a prime candidate to be movers and shakers in this market. Whereas most of the other top teams were at capacity as far as their salary caps were concerned, the Seahawks had money to burn. Of course, that’s in large part due to the trade of Frank Clark. As we’ve all talked about ad nauseam, the Seahawks’ #1 need heading into this offseason was pass rush, and that’s when Frank Clark was ON the roster! Without him, things went from bad to worse in a hurry.

The first domino to fall was with the first pick in the draft; the Seahawks brought in L.J. Collier. Which, okay. It’s a need and that’s not a bad way to build for the future. But, you can’t really count on a rookie taken at the bottom of the first round to be much of an impact player. A contributor, sure. But, what do those guys usually get you? A handful of sacks? Regardless, he figures to be a significant step down from Clark, and again, we needed to boost our pass rush BEFORE getting rid of Clark.

Next up was the signing of Ziggy Ansah, and we all breathed a sigh of relief. That’s with a huge caveat, of course, because he’s coming off of an injury and we have no idea what we’re getting. While it’s a cost-effective move to bet on a high-upside stud, he could be the next Cliff Avril or the next Dion Jordan. If he’s Avril, then excellent, that makes up for the loss of Clark, and you hope you strike oil with Collier on the other side. If he’s Jordan, then we’re proper fucked.

I know a lot of Seahawks fans were hoping the team would sift through the remaining scraps on the free agent market and use some of that extra money to put the fear of God in our opponents’ O-Lines. But, Ndamukong Suh ended up with the Bucs and Gerald McCoy ended up with the Panthers (having just been released by the Bucs). Both of them are earning under $10 million on one year deals and it’s left a lot of us wondering WHAT THE FUCK, SEAHAWKS?!

OTA’s are in effect as we speak, so the coaches are getting first looks at how the 2019 team is shaping up, but it’s gotta be hard to tell how good (or bad) this pass rush will be without contact and games and all that. I would hope common sense will prevail at some point and the front office will dip its toes back into the free agency waters, because shit is looking GRIM!

And, I get it, there’s only so much money to go around. Bobby Wagner needs a new deal. The team would like to jump on the Jarran Reed train ahead of the final year of his rookie deal, to maybe see some savings on a real up-and-comer. Those guys have to take precedence this summer. But, at some point, the team needs to dive back into that dumpster, if for no other reason than to add more competition in Training Camp.

Defensive Ends/SAM Linebackers

  • Ziggy Ansah
  • L.J. Collier
  • Cassius Marsh
  • Rasheem Green
  • Jacob Martin
  • Branden Jackson
  • Shaquem Griffin
  • Barkevious Mingo

The top two guys I’ve already talked about. Marsh is a veteran whose specialty is special teams, and it wouldn’t shock me in the slightest if he’s cut before the regular season. Green and Martin are coming off of rookie years that were varying shades of underwhelming. Green has the higher upside, but also the most to prove, given his status as a third round draft pick. You hate to put too much on a kid’s shoulders in his second season in the league, but if Ansah doesn’t pan out for whatever reason, this defense is going to be heavily reliant on a couple of second year prospects.

Jackson strikes me as another possible cut before the regular season, though if he’s ever going to make the leap, now would be the time, what with it being his third year. Failing that, I like to hear about Griffin getting a chance to rush the passer, considering that was his specialty in college. I’m sure most coaches and front office people were put off by his smaller size – and that very well might be what keeps him from ever finding a natural position in the NFL – but at least he’s getting a chance. With his speed and agility, here’s hoping he’s able to use that to his advantage. As for Mingo, he’s never really been much of a pass rusher, and I don’t see that changing. For that reason, I don’t really see a role for him on this team, barring injuries.

Defensive Tackles

  • Jarran Reed
  • Poona Ford
  • Al Woods
  • Quinton Jefferson
  • Naz Jones
  • Demarcus Christmas

Reed took a HUGE step forward in Year 3, and while there’s always the hope that he has more room to grow, it’s also just as likely that last year was an anomaly and he’ll regress a little bit. We’ll see; fingers crossed on that end. Poona Ford is more of a run stuffing specialist, as is Al Woods, who is a veteran widebody we brought in on a one year deal.

Jefferson and Jones are both interesting, as they’re relatively young, but have been in the program long enough (entering their 4th and 3rd seasons, respectively). Both are apparently being groomed as 5-Tech ends in base defense, as they’ve both flashed potential at times to be harassers of the quarterback. They’ve also flashed potential to be total duds, as they’ve often found themselves as healthy scratches on gamedays. I feel like 2018 was hard on both of these guys, but there’s ample opportunity in 2019, so I hope they’re ready to go to work.

The bottom line is: outside of Jarran Reed, there are a lot of question marks on this team from a pass rush perspective. If it all breaks right, we could be talking about a young and dominant force. If it all breaks wrong, we could be talking about the main reason why this team fails to make the playoffs. Gun to my head, I’m leaning towards the latter, but there’s still time to prove me wrong.

I Wanna, I Wanna, I Wanna, I Wanna, I Wanna Really Really Really Wanna Ziggy Ansah

You have no idea how long I’ve been holding onto that Spice Girls reference …

So, here’s the good news: the Seahawks had a need and they helped fill that need with Ezekiel Ansah. Even before the Frank Clark trade, pass rush was a major concern for this team. Maybe the BIGGEST concern. With Clark’s contract situation being untenable, our options were to max out our cap space and do nothing to supplement around him, or get rid of him and hopefully improve our pass rush on the cheap. We chose the second route, and now here we are.

In the run-up to May 7th (after which the league was allowed to sign free agents without any risk to losing next year’s comp picks), the Seahawks brought in Cassius Marsh and Nate Orchard, a couple of veterans who’ve bounced around the league for 6 and 4 years respectively, and to date haven’t really made much of an impact outside of special teams. Marsh’s season high is 5.5 sacks; and Orchard (who you might remember got cut on Hard Knocks with last year’s Browns team) has a season high of only 3 sacks. L.J. Collier was our first player selected in this year’s draft, which makes him a total unknown. We paired those guys with holdovers Jacob Martin and Rasheem Green – a couple of promising players from last year’s rookie class, but who also have a lot to prove – and veterans Quinton Jefferson and Branden Jackson – who are more depth options and not really even guaranteed to have roster spots this year.

Obviously, that wasn’t going to do. There are a number of free agent options still available, and the Seahawks brought in probably the best (or at least the one with the highest upside). Ziggy Ansah is a tremendous talent! He’s a beast! At his best, he’s even BETTER than Frank Clark!

Now, the bad news: every time we talk about Ansah, we have to throw in the phrase, “When He’s Healthy.”

Ziggy Ansah When He’s Healthy is one of the best defensive ends in all of football. But, it’s not even a matter of him missing games (which he has, 14 in the last three seasons), so much as him being a shell of his usual dominant self when he’s playing through injuries. How else do you explain 2.0 sacks in 2016 when he appeared in 13 games? That followed a Pro Bowl 2015 season when he had 14.5.

He’s coming off of a shoulder injury at the moment that really slaughtered his Franchise Tag year in 2018. And, what’s worse, if reports are to be believed, this injury could keep him out through Training Camp and even a month into the regular season!

I really had no idea this was a thing before I read about it this morning. Heading into yesterday, Ansah was a no-brainer to me. OF COURSE you sign the injury risk who – if things break right – could be a stud for this defense in 2019! And, on paper, I like the contract: $5.5 million guaranteed, with $8 million more in incentives; really the ideal deal for all parties involved. If he reaches his incentives, then GREAT, the Seahawks still got a Pro Bowl-calibre player for a song; if he hardly plays, then we’re only out $5.5 million and relatively little harm done.

But, if we’re talking about a guy who might not give you more than 12 games – and that’s assuming he returns hitting the ground running, and doesn’t suffer any setbacks during even a brutal 3/4 of a season – then I’m much less hopeful. Don’t get me wrong, I would still do this deal, because even if we just have him for the back-half of the season, he’s still someone this team needs (and could be a monster for a playoff run). But, I’m more convinced than ever that the Seahawks need to add maybe another 1-2 more pass rushers on top of him.

Or else, Martin and Green better take HUGE steps forward in their progress in Year 2.

All in all, a happy day, but not the happiest of days. I really hope those reports are exaggerated, and Ansah’s injury isn’t as bad as some fear.

Have I Overreacted To All The Coaching Change On The Seahawks?

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.

The Home Stretch Seattle Sports Hell Power Rankings

Allow me to slide into your Decembers.

  • New England (10-2)
  • Philadelphia (10-2)
  • Minnesota (10-2)
  • L.A. Rams (9-3)
  • New Orleans (9-3)
  • Pittsburgh (10-2)
  • Carolina (8-4)
  • Jacksonville (8-4)

I’m not gonna drop the Eagles down further just because they lost a tough road game they were probably due to lose.  I still think they’re pretty great, and pretty complete, and could beat the Vikings and everyone else below them on a neutral field.  That having been said, the turnaround for the Pats after the first month of the season is astonishing.  Their defense really looked dead in the water; they were grasping for Cassius Marsh straws for crying out loud!  Also, it’s time to stop taking the Steelers so seriously; they’ve looked bad against too many bad teams – 10-2 record be damned – so they’re knocked down a peg.  Not for nothing, but there are too many talented NFC teams; I’m not sure I shouldn’t have the Panthers above the Steelers to boot!  Finally, my money is on the Jags beating the Seahawks this week, hence their Top 8 status.

  • Atlanta (7-5)
  • Seattle (8-4)
  • L.A. Chargers (6-6)
  • Baltimore (7-5)
  • Tennessee (8-4)
  • Detroit (6-6)
  • Dallas (6-6)
  • Green Bay (6-6)

I’ll start to change my tune about the Seahawks if they decide they want to beat a team they probably shouldn’t beat.  Until then, I still have the Falcons ahead of them.  Gotta like that Baltimore defense.  Can’t quite write off the Cowboys just yet.  And, I’m making Green Bay my huge gainer, because I think it’s pretty obvious that they’re going to keep beating enough bad teams to give Aaron Rodgers a chance to come back and sneak them into the playoffs.  It’s so obvious it makes me want to puke.

  • Buffalo (6-6)
  • Kansas City (6-6)
  • Oakland (6-6)
  • N.Y. Jets (5-7)
  • Washington (5-7)
  • Cincinnati (5-7)
  • Arizona (5-7)
  • Miami (5-7)

You want a gambling Lock of the Week?  Take the OVER on the Kansas City/Oakland game.  I don’t care what it is, no number is too high!  Those two defenses are the worst I’ve ever seen!  This year.  Well, over the last couple months anyway.  Hold on, the over/under is only 47.5?!?!  Dude, jump on that NOW!  Also, while I’m looking at it, take the UNDER in the New Orleans/Atlanta game.  Thursday Night, no way it goes over 53.5.  Finally, I’d take a look at some of these home dogs, like Carolina +3 over Minnesota, Cleveland +3.5 over Green Bay, Arizona +3 over Tennessee, and the Giants +5 over the Cowboys.

  • Tampa Bay (4-8)
  • Houston (4-8)
  • San Francisco (2-10)
  • Denver (3-9)
  • Indianapolis (3-9)
  • Chicago (3-9)
  • N.Y. Giants (2-10)
  • Cleveland (0-12)

I like that Jimmy Garoppolo kid, I tell you what.  Those 49ers are doing some fine things down there in Santa Clara!  Good for the Giants to ditch that head coach and GM; bad on ownership to listen to them and bench Eli in the first place.  Can the Browns do the unthinkable and finish 0-16?  Honestly, their best chance to win is probably this week, as they host the Rodgers-less Packers.  If they blow that opportunity, their home finale is next week against the Ravens; that feels like a pretty easy loss.  Their next-best chance to win is at Chicago the following week, but the Bears’ defense is pretty good, particularly at home.  Then, in Week 17, they go to Pittsburgh, who at that point might be locked into the 2-seed and playing for nothing.  Even still, hard not to like the Steelers’ reserves over the Browns’ starters.

I Don’t Think The Seahawks Should Trade For An Offensive Lineman This Week

The deadline is, what, Halloween?  A quick Google search determines that to be accurate.  Anyway, in recent weeks, there’s been a lot of rumors and conjecture flying around the Seahawks.  The Seahawks brought Branden Albert in for a looksee; he’s an offensive tackle who played in Kansas City and most recently Miami, who retired or something and then unretired I guess?  Forgive me if I don’t care about the life story of Branden Albert.  I think we all took a look at him – a 2-time Pro Bowler, as recently as 2015 – and we took a look at Rees Odhiambo, and we thought, “All right, he could help.”

Then, there was speculation that the Seahawks only brought him in as a way to drive down the price of Duane Brown.  He’s one of the best left tackles in the league for the last decade.  He’s on a contract that pays him over $9 million per year this year and in 2018.  He’s 32 year old, he doesn’t have a lot of time left in the league, and as such he wanted a restructured contract for more money.  So, he held out for the first six games of the Texans’ season, which I guess is the most he can hold out while still accruing a season under his contract?  I dunno, again, I don’t need to know his life story.  All I know is, there was talk of the Texans trading him to the Seahawks, which would’ve cost a high draft pick or multiple draft picks, depending on who you ask.  It would have subsequently cost the Seahawks a lot of money in a restructured deal (a la the Percy Harvin trade we all know and love).  In the end, Duane Brown returned to the Texans this week, probably just in time to start against … you guessed it, the Seahawks.

Right after all of that died down, the Seahawks went and brought in Dwight Freeney to be a backup defensive end, what with Cliff Avril hitting the IR and everything.  We don’t yet know what that contract is going to cost, but either it’s for a very minimal amount that the Seahawks can afford, or it’s for a costlier amount that the Seahawks can’t afford, and will need to make a subsequent roster move to fit him in under our cap.

This also, not for nothing, coincided with the return of Jeremy Lane from a groin injury that’s kept him out of commission the last few weeks.  We learned of his return thanks to a set of Tweets where he announced he’d been demoted, presumably because Shaq Griffin is not just the future of that position for this team, but also good enough to be the present as well.  With Justin Coleman looking pretty solid in the slot, that doesn’t leave a lot of room for Jeremy Lane, outside of the Dime package, which we really don’t get to run all that often.

People have been talking about trading Jeremy Lane since the offseason.  I guess he didn’t have the greatest year last year, though I still contend people are making that out to be WAY worse than it actually was.  He was no Cary Williams!  He made some plays and I thought played all-around solid.  He probably shouldn’t be your team’s #2 – particularly opposite Richard Sherman, meaning he’ll get all the balls thrown in his direction – but he’s a fine slot corner and one I’d happily roll out there against any opponent (when he’s healthy).  Nevertheless, at this point, he sort of feels like a luxury.  Do we really need that fourth piece of cheesecake?  DeShawn Shead is coming back in a matter of weeks, we appear to have really hit upon this Shaq Griffin kid, and Coleman is certainly competent (if not a diamond in the rough).  You can only employ so many cornerbacks on a roster, and unless we run into a situation where we get hit by a ton of injuries, I think we’re all good there this season.

And, let’s not forget, that regardless of how this season went, it was pretty unrealistic that the Seahawks were ever going to keep Jeremy Lane around in 2018.  I think the minute he signed his contract, it was silently understood that he’d be gone after the 2017 season.

So, here we are.  Lane’s salary is guaranteed, so cutting him generates zero cap relief.  The only way we can save some money is by trading him.  Also, not for nothing, but the Seahawks traded away a number of draft picks for next year.  We no longer have a 2nd rounder, thanks to Sheldon Richardson.  We swapped our 6th for a 5th with the Raiders in the Beastmode deal.  We traded away one fifth rounder to the Eagles for Matt Tobin, and got one fifth rounder back from the Patriots for Cassius Marsh.  We swapped 7th rounders with the Jets in that Richardson deal, and we swapped 7th rounders with the Patriots (sending one away for Coleman, getting one back – maybe the same one? – in the Marsh deal).  On top of, I guess, having no 2nd rounder & no 6th rounder, I’m almost positive that the Seahawks won’t qualify for any compensatory picks, which has been their bread and butter the last few years.  Swapping Lane for an extra 3rd or 4th could be quite advantageous for next year and beyond (particularly when Jeremy Lane himself was a 6th round pick originally).

Beyond the draft capital part of it, I think a lot of people are looking at the salary cap relief as a means to bring in another offensive lineman, most likely via trade.  But, I dunno.

For starters, you want someone who is familiar with the zone blocking scheme, otherwise it’s going to take longer to acclimate this hypothetical newcomer into our system; so that limits your trade base.  And then what?  You throw away all the work you’ve put into propping up Odhiambo this year?  Who is coming off of his best game as a pro, I might add?  Granted, it’s the Giants, and they’re dealing with a ton of injuries.  But, again, I dunno.

I think we’re all beyond pleased with how well Ethan Pocic looked against the Giants, injuries or no injuries.  With him, you could very well be talking about your Left Guard of the Future.  If he comes back this week, blows Glowinski out of the water, and holds down that spot for the rest of the year, then great!  You’ve now solidified 4/5 of your offensive line, with Britt at center, with Ifedi looking MUCH better than expected at right tackle, and with Aboushi looking like a competent veteran at right guard.  That leaves the aforementioned Odhiambo, with the wrinkle that is Luke Joeckel whenever he returns from his cleanup surgery.  What are we looking at?  Mid to late November?  Where does that place him if we give his job to Pocic?

I would argue, that puts him in competition for the left tackle spot.  I know we all like him as a guard, and that appears to be the spot where he’s the best fit, but he was obviously originally drafted to be a left tackle, and still has a ton of experience there.  “Ton” being a relative term, but you know what I mean.

So, if we trade for a starting left tackle, where does that slot everyone else (barring injury, of course)?  It just doesn’t make a ton of sense right now.

If “continuity” is supposedly the most important factor in a successful offensive line, then how does bringing someone in during the middle of the season help you?

Now, maybe I’ll be singing a different tune after this Texans game on Sunday.  Granted, they’re dealing with some injuries of their own, but they still have a pretty stout pass rush.  And maybe Rees Odhiambo follows up his very best game as a pro by getting tossed around like a ragdoll.  But, if he is improving, and he’s able to hold his own against the likes of Jadeveon Clowney and Co., then I think the last thing you want to do is trade for an offensive lineman.

Of course, if you recommend trading Jimmy Graham for a competent tight end who isn’t the softest, powderpuffiest wide receiver in the league?  Let’s just say I’m listening.

The 2017 Seahawks Have A Roster

So, last Thursday happened, and everyone rejoiced because the Seahawks got through their final pre-season game mostly unscathed.  Then, Friday happened, and shit started hitting the fan all over the place!

Five trades were made, countless players were shockingly waived, and when the dust settled, it appears the Seahawks are better in the short term and the long term than they were at this time last Thursday.

Let’s run down the trades in brief:

  • Trade with Jets:  Jermaine Kearse & a 2018 Second Round Pick for Sheldon Richardson and a swap of 2018 Seventh Round Picks
  • Trade with Patriots:  a 2018 Seventh Round Pick for Justin Coleman
  • Trade with Patriots:  Cassius Marsh for a 2018 Fifth Round Pick and that Seventh Round Pick we gave them for Coleman
  • Trade with Vikings:  Tramaine Brock for a 2018 Seventh Round Pick
  • Trade with Chiefs:  a 2018 Conditional Seventh Round Pick for Isaiah Battle

Now, let’s discuss these trades in reverse order:

Isaiah Battle is an offensive tackle who has never actually played in an NFL game.  From something I saw on Twitter, if you think back to the third pre-season game, Battle was getting abused on the reg by our defensive linemen.  He’s got the size you want, but at three years into his professional career, you have to wonder if he has the talent.  It looks like the Seahawks could get that draft pick back if they just waive him, but the question remains:  how long of a look do we get at Battle before making that happen?

On Friday, as the Jermaine Kearse rumors were swirling, there were a similar number of Jeremy Lane rumors swirling.  Where there’s smoke, there’s fire this time of year, and usually when it leaks out that a team is shopping someone, that means if they find no takers, they’re just going to cut that player later.  So, as we all prepared to say goodbye to Lane, it turns out Tramaine Brock was getting the ax (and just when I learned how to spell his name without looking it up!).  I guess Brock became expendable when Coleman was brought in.  Coleman is more of a prototypical nickel corner, while Brock has played more on the outside in his career.  With Shaq Griffin more of an outside guy (who will force Lane inside in nickel situations), and with Griffin proving to be competent with lots of upside, Brock was redundant.  It’s too bad, but at least the Seahawks got something for him.

I’m going to lump the two deals with the Pats together.  It essentially boils down to a swap of players (Cassius Marsh for Justin Coleman) with the Seahawks getting an additional fifth round pick as a cherry on top.  Marsh was going to be a free agent after this season.  Coleman will be a restricted free agent in 2018, meaning if the Seahawks like him, odds are they’ll be able to keep him.  Coleman figures to be our dime corner, and probably adds something to special teams.  Marsh, honestly, is what he is.  Every year, we go into the Seahawks’ pre-season hoping that THIS will be the year that Marsh finally makes the big leap forward in his productivity as a rush end, but every year it’s just baby steps (if it’s any steps at all).  He’s better at defending the run than he is getting to the quarterback, and he’s better on special teams than he is at defense.  While that’s nice, it’s not really game-changing, and if you can get a fifth round pick for that, you absolutely do it!  Marsh might end up being a late bloomer, and I wish him all the best (when he’s not playing against the Seahawks), but he won’t be doing his blooming here.

Finally, the big news of the weekend – indeed, of the season so far – is the trade for Sheldon Richardson.  We gave the Jets Jermaine Kearse (I guess they’re desperate for wide receiver help) and a second round pick in compensation.  It’s sad to see Kearse go, and I’ll always think of him fondly for all his huge catches through the years, but if you have a chance to bring in Sheldon Richardson, and you need to clear up some cap space to do it, I’m more than happy to part with Kearse now.

Richardson is a monster.  He can play DT or DE, he can rush the passer from the inside and out, he can stop the run from the inside and out.  He fits seamlessly on this D-Line and could very well prove to be a game-changer for this defense as a whole.  He takes the Seahawks from Contender to Favorite in the NFC.  He makes this defense SO MUCH BETTER it’s insane!  I mean, we’re talking 2013/2014 levels of Seahawks defense.  Shit just got real.

***

There were some interesting, tough cuts made over the weekend as well.  In no particular order, here’s a list of some of the big ones:

  • Ahtyba Rubin
  • Trevone Boykin
  • Kasen Williams
  • Mike Morgan
  • Marcel Reece
  • Pierre Desir
  • Alex Collins
  • Mike Davis
  • Joey Hunt
  • Quinton Jefferson
  • Kenny Lawler
  • David Moore
  • Will Pericak
  • Garrison Smith
  • Tyrone Swoopes
  • Mike Tyson
  • Cyril Grayson

Rubin is obviously a tough one to see go, but he became expendable with Richardson in the fold.  Boykin being let go means that Austin Davis won the backup QB job, which makes sense.  I don’t see why Boykin couldn’t land on the Practice Squad; I can’t imagine another team wanting him.  Morgan and Reece are a couple of vets we could have at any time, I imagine.  The writing was on the wall for Collins and Davis, considering the depth at running back.

But, I’m really just dancing around the obvious here.  The Seahawks didn’t keep Kasen Williams and I’m pretty pissed about it.  If he didn’t win a job on this roster with all that he did this pre-season, then what the fuck more did he have to do?  He made just about every single catch you could’ve asked of him, he balled out on special teams, and with Kearse gone, wouldn’t you want someone intimately familiar with our system to be our fourth receiver?  You know, in case guys like Lockett or P-Rich get injured again like they always do?

And you know who snapped Kasen up?  The Cleveland Browns!  Who just so happen to be at the very tip top of the waiver priority list.  If the player you just gave up goes to the very first team that could claim him, you probably done fucked up.

To a lesser extent, I’m also pissed that the Seahawks let Pierre Desir go, because he was far and away one of the top two cornerbacks on this team this pre-season.  This one is more of a numbers game than anything.  Sherm isn’t going anywhere.  Griffin isn’t going anywhere.  With Brock gone, Lane isn’t going anywhere.  And the Seahawks just traded for Justin Coleman.  This one came down to Desir and Neiko Thorpe, and Thorpe JUST signed a 2-year deal this past offseason.  Thorpe isn’t anywhere NEAR the cornerback that Desir is, but he’s a fundamental member of the Special Teams, and it’s clear the Seahawks have made Special Teams a top priority this season.  So, that’s that I guess.

***

Without further ado, let’s get into the guys we decided to keep.

Quarterback

Russell Wilson
Austin Davis

In this one, it came down to what do you want more:  someone who has real, significant NFL experience?  Or someone who can do the best Russell Wilson impression (minus all the accuracy, decision-making, and smarts)?  Considering, again, I think Boykin can be had for the Practice Squad, I’m perfectly fine with this (either way, this team stinks the minute Wilson goes down with injury).

Running Back

Eddie Lacy
Thomas Rawls
C.J. Prosise
Chris Carson
Tre Madden (FB)

Again, no shockers here.  Madden over Reece is a mini-shocker (just the tips), but when you think about it, when was the last time the Seahawks kept an aging veteran fullback on the roster heading into week 1?  You bring those guys in AFTER week 1 and make sure their contracts aren’t fully guaranteed!

Wide Receiver

Doug Baldwin
Tyler Lockett
Paul Richardson
Tanner McEvoy
Amara Darboh

While I don’t believe McEvoy is QUITE as athletic as Kasen Williams, he’s pretty fucking athletic.  He’s tall and can make a lot of the catches Kasen can make.  He’s also, if we’re being honest, probably better on Special Teams.  As for Darboh, I guess we shouldn’t be surprised that the team wanted to keep their third round draft pick, even though we’ve seen this team move on from relatively highly-drafted wide receivers before.  It sounds like the Seahawks really like Darboh.

Running Back/Wide Receiver/Kickoff & Punt Returner

J.D. McKissic

I think the reason why I’m not more blinded by rage at the loss of Kasen Williams is that it facilitated the team keeping McKissic.  He’s technically listed as a running back (having switched to Shaun Alexander’s old number, which I don’t know how I feel about just yet), but he does everything.  Most importantly, he spares Lockett from returning kicks, which is huge considering the injury from which he’s returning.  McKissic isn’t elite at any one spot, but I think he could be highly productive, even in a reserve role.  A+ for this move!

Tight End

Jimmy Graham
Luke Willson
Nick Vannett

Again, no surprises here.

Offensive Line

Rees Odhiambo
Luke Joeckel
Justin Britt
Mark Glowinski
Germain Ifedi
Oday Aboushi
Ethan Pocic
Jordan Roos
Matt Tobin
Isaiah Battle

The starters are set, Aboushi sticks around as veteran depth inside, Pocic is our Jack of All Trades, Roos is our rookie project, and Tobin and Battle are tackle insurance.  I can’t imagine we stay with 10 offensive linemen for very long, so it wouldn’t surprise me to see one or both of those final two guys get the ax at some point.

Defensive Line

Cliff Avril
Michael Bennett
Sheldon Richardson
Jarran Reed
Frank Clark
Nazair Jones
Marcus Smith
David Bass

Along the lines of there being too many O-Linemen, there’s probably one fewer D-Lineman than we’d like.  Reed and Jones are the only natural DTs, but obviously Richardson is going to start there as well and play most every down, so that mitigates things.  It’s cool to see Bass make the team, as he really balled out this pre-season as well.  And, you have to like the versatility Smith brings.

Linebacker

Bobby Wagner
K.J. Wright
Michael Wilhoite
Terence Garvin
D.J. Alexander
Dewey McDonald

Obviously, the top two are our studs and will be on the field every down.  The next two are our depth pieces/SAM ‘backers.  The final two are special teams studs and will hopefully never see meaningful snaps on defense.

Cornerback

Richard Sherman
Jeremy Lane
Shaq Griffin
Justin Coleman
Neiko Thorpe

I talked about these guys up top.  Nice group all around, though I still probably would’ve kept Desir.

Safety

Earl Thomas
Kam Chancellor
Bradley McDougald
Tedric Thompson
Delano Hill

Not much to say here.  McDougald mitigates some of the loss I feel for Desir, as he figures to play quite a bit on defense in 3-safety sets, covering tight ends.  Desir was more of a third outside corner/injury depth; McDougald should actually play and play considerably.  Thompson and Hill, the two rookies, were never going anywhere.

Special Teams

Blair Walsh
Jon Ryan
Tyler Ott

Bingo, bango, bongo.

What I’ll Be Watching In The Seahawks/Kansas City Game Tonight

Obviously, first and foremost, I’m gonna need no more demoralizing, soul-crushing injuries.  Okay?  This is obviously the big tune up before the regular season, where the starters play into the third quarter, and I just don’t fucking need the hassle.

With that obvious caveat out of the way, let’s talk about some shit.

I think we’re all pretty interested in the goings on of the offensive line, am I right?  In a vacuum, I think we’d like to see these guys take care of business, but this game features a pretty big test.  These aren’t your 2012 Chiefs; this front seven is for real.  Particularly off the edge, which means the spotlights are going to be shining pretty bright on Ifedi and Odhiambo.

No one is questioning Ifedi’s run blocking ability, but the dude needs to take a big step forward in his footwork and his balance in pass protection.  Too often he’s slow and too often he’s caught lunging at defenders, allowing them to swim right past him.  I don’t know how much Justin Houston or Dee Ford will play, but those guys are animals and I could see them giving us fits.

Pretty much everyone is questioning everything about Odhiambo’s game.  This guy is a virtual unknown when it comes to game action, and what little we have seen hasn’t been all that impressive.  I’m curious to see how he looks after a week as the starting left tackle, getting the lion’s share of the reps, and going into this game with the mindset of a starter.  I think it could be easy to get overwhelmed when you’re dumped into the fire in the middle of a game after the first team guy gets injured.  I mean, let’s face it, if Odhiambo was gearing up to play left tackle heading into last week, I’m sure he was preparing to go up against second and third teamers towards the end of the game.  I doubt he was going to be considered for action with Russell Wilson and Co. still in the game.

I have a very low bar for Odhiambo to clear here:

  1. Don’t get Russell hurt.
  2. Just be better than George Fant was in 2016.

See, I’m not asking for the moon and the stars here!  I’m not even saying, “Don’t let Russell get hit,” although that would be nice.  I’m just saying don’t let him get HURT.  If that means playing well, then obviously I’d take it.  If that means praying to your lord and savior, then do what you gotta do, but if we leave this game with Russell in any way shape or form at a reduced capacity, I’m going to be very upset.  And you don’t want to see me when I’m very upset (a lot of crying and ice cream eating).

Ultimately, I don’t even think 2016 George Fant was the worst starting left tackle I’ve ever seen (I might save that distinction for Brad Sowell, or some of the turds who took over for Walter Jones in the immediate aftermath of his career-ending knee injuries), but he was pretty bad.  What he had going for him was inexperience, in that once he gained a little experience, you had to figure you’d see some dividends paid.  Odhiambo at least has a pretty good amount of college experience.  He also has a year in the Seahawks’ system.  He’s not a rookie anymore, even though this is his first year starting.  He got out of 2016 healthy, should’ve put the work in in the weight room over the offseason, and ostensibly should be in the best shape of his life.  The fact that I haven’t read any stories like that is certainly cause for concern (that maybe he DIDN’T, in fact, put in the work in the weight room, and ISN’T in the best shape of his life), but I would have to think he’s at least somewhat stronger than he was as a rookie.

So, it’s all out there for him.  Just be better than 2016 Fant.  That SHOULD be good enough to get the job done, from a winning football team perspective.

With all the focus on the tackles, I’m going to just take for granted that the interior of the line will be fine.  No injury setbacks for Joeckel, Britt won’t dive at any other teammates’ legs, and the battle of Glowinski vs. Aboushi will finally be settled.  And maybe, just maybe, Ethan Pocic will force this team’s hand to start him as a rookie (though, based on his shaky performance last week, that seems unlikely).

It’s really kind of a bummer that we’ve got to face the Chiefs this week, as they figure to have a Top 10 defense this season.  Not that I don’t appreciate a good challenge heading into the regular season, but I also don’t like my players getting beaten up in a meaningless game.

Take, for instance, the running game.  I have no idea what’s going on with these running backs, but from what I’ve gleaned it sounds like both Rawls AND Prosise will be out for this game.  For those keeping track, Rawls played in the first game, got injured, and is still out; Prosise hasn’t even done that much.  I mean, at this point, it’s pretty silly to consider the running back position anything but a collosal letdown.  With roster spots at such a premium on this team, how can you afford to keep both of these guys when they can’t stay healthy for more than a game or two at a time?

Are we really going to drop perfectly good backs in Alex Collins and Mike Davis – workhorse types who bring a lot of different skills to the table, who also DON’T get injured every fucking week – just to keep around dynamic glass figurines in Prosise and Rawls?  I mean, yeah, I LOVE what those two can do with the football in their hands.  I think they’re both very special talents who could be Pro Bowlers in an alternate universe where they weren’t as soft as tissue paper.  But, we’re stuck in this stupid reality, and in this stupid reality Prosise and Rawls can’t be trusted.  Ipso facto, I know this isn’t going to be a popular opinion, but I think the team should cut them both so we can move on with our lives.

I don’t know about you, but I’m sick and tired of wondering if those guys are going to come back next week or not.

Since that’ll never happen in a million years, I’ll be curious to see what Lacy and Carson can do.  Chris Carson might not be the most talented back on this roster right now, but I’m still putting it out there that I think he’ll be this team’s feature back in 2018.  I don’t even think that’s very hot of a take, to be honest!  I don’t think Lacy is all that good.  Sure, he’s a battering ram, and it’ll be fun to watch him wear defenses down in games where we’re leading comfortably in the fourth quarter, but Lacy isn’t talented enough to be a feature back.  I think he’ll struggle for the most part this year and he’ll find his way onto a different roster in 2018.  At that point, it’ll come down to Carson (who I figure will play quite a bit this year, with all the injuries & ineffectiveness ahead of him on the depth chart) vs. the dainty flowers that are Rawls and Prosise.  No contest.  Carson in 2018!

As for the rest of the offense, I’d like to see Jimmy Graham get zero snaps this week.  I’d like to see Doug Baldwin get very limited snaps (but, I’d also like to see him make Marcus Peters look foolish just once, because I like seeing Doug beat the best this league has to offer).  I’d like to see Kasen Williams get a TON of snaps with the first team offense, in hopes of building more of a rapport with Russell.  I’d also like to see J.D. McKissic get some play with the first unit.  See if he can play that Prosise role we keep talking about.  With his return ability (in spite of his muff last week), I’m really rooting for McKissic to crack the 53-man roster.

Defensively, I’m always drawn to the younger guys.  Naz Jones, first and foremost; I’d like to see him continue to build off of his first two games, which were both brilliant.  I’d like to see him get a lot of play next to Jarran Reed in the base defense, and I’d like to see both of those guys get some play in passing situations to see what they have to offer in pass rush up the middle.

Obviously, I’ll be watching Shaq Griffin.  He was picked on a lot last week, and I have to figure we’ll see more of the same again this week.  Of course, this is Alex Smith we’re talking about, so I have to wonder how much he’s actually going to throw to his wide receivers, but I have to believe it’s higher than zero times.  I can pretty much guarantee he won’t throw on Sherman though, so whatever poor sap the Chiefs line up on his side is going to have a quiet, boring day.

I’d also like to see some of our younger safeties get in there against KC’s first unit.  Kam and Earl don’t need to play 2.5 quarters; they’re good.  I’d be happy as a clam if they didn’t play a minute of this game.  On top of that, I’d like to see more of the free agent vets we’ve brought in:  Bradley McDougald and Tramaine Brock.  They need run with the first unit to better understand our system, and for the coaches to determine what they can do for this team.

I also find the battle for the last couple spots on the D-Line pretty fascinating.  Cassius Marsh is going into the final year of his rookie deal, and normally he’s been a beast in the pre-season.  But, he’s also normally been going against backups.  I’d like to see Marsh get more extensive play in the first half (again, guys like Avril and Bennett really don’t need to play 2.5 quarters; they good), and I’d like to see him really step up and earn a spot on this team.  Not just because he’s a good special teamer, but because he’s a weapon we can use in our pass rush package in games that matter!  Also, guys like David Bass, Marcus Smith, and Rodney Coe are probably all fighting for one roster spot.  They more they can do, at more positions along the line, the better their chances of making this team and contributing this season.

Finally, I want more of that shit-talking, fired up Blair Walsh shoving 50-yard field goals down opposing throats (but I’ll settle for him quietly going about his business, as long as he keeps making his kicks).

Big test in this one.  Honestly, this should be one of the best matchups of the entire pre-season, based on the quality of these two teams.  Both Seattle and Kansas City figure to be fighting for spots in their respective conference championship games, and quite frankly both of these teams COULD meet in the Super Bowl if everything breaks right.  I expect a hard-fought, tight battle of defenses through all four quarters, with infrequent bouts of offensive competence.

So, can you imagine how exciting it would be if the Seahawks go out there and kick their teeth in?