My Favorite Seahawks Move So Far This Offseason

This blog post on Field Gulls popped up late last week at just around the same time I had a similar idea for my own blog. Of course, they posted first, so credit where it’s due for getting the job done ahead of me. But, that’s still not going to stop me from voicing my own take!

As I’ve talked about, it’s been a very Seahawky offseason so far. No real big outside free agent splash signings; we kept our own highest-priority free agent, we shuffled off some money in the form of overpaid cap casualties, and we brought in a bevy of bridge guys on short-term, inexpensive deals to fill out the roster around our core. So, when you look at that list of players on the Field Gulls link, it’s not going to knock you out.

On the whole, I would say I like what the Seahawks have done. I can’t say I’m totally in love with it, but then again, I don’t know what I can really expect. We were in pretty bad shape the last few years, both from a salary cap standpoint, as well as an underperforming veterans standpoint. It really says something when the Seahawks have exactly one player from their 2020 draft class on their roster, and that’s only because Darrell Taylor lost a year of eligibility due to coming into the league with an injury (at this point, based on what we’ve seen from him through three seasons, it would be a longshot to see him getting a proper second contract with the Seahawks).

My point is, it’s not like the Seahawks could afford to spend lavishly in free agency. And, with our stupid 9-8 record – and the fact that we traded away a second round pick for Leonard Williams last year (which was only necessary BECAUSE our salary cap situation was so shitty) – it’s not like we have a solid cache of draft picks to fall back on. So again, what did I really expect? We came into this offseason with one hand tied behind our back, we used what cap casualties we could to loosen that binding, but ultimately there’s only so much money to go around, and a lot of roster spots needed to field a team.

If I’m being honest, the Seahawks move that got me the most excited is the hiring of Mike Macdonald. My second-favorite move is hiring Ryan Grubb. My third-favorite is firing Clint Hurtt. But, that doesn’t seem to be in the spirit of the exercise.

My favorite player move, then, has to be Leonard Williams. Simply because he’s the best player we signed, period. He’s either the best or second-best player on our defense, and I’d put him probably in the top five most impactful players on the entire team. Dude is a stud, on a team that’s kind of in short supply of them.

But, I dunno, that signing doesn’t feel like it’s in the spirit of the exercise either. Just as similar favorites – cutting Jamal Adams, not overpaying for Bobby Wagner, and not REALLY overpaying for Damien Lewis – are also not in the spirit. In my mind, the question posed in the title of this post has to do with NEW players. What’s my favorite incoming Seahawks move?

If it feels like slim pickin’s, that’s because it is. Two incoming free agents on 2-year deals, everyone else is on a 1-year deal. The most money – SURPRISE – is going to a safety. I want to say Rayshawn Jenkins – or one of the two middle linebackers – is my favorite move, but to be honest, I don’t know those guys from Adam. I’m sure one or more of them will make a great impact, but right now, they’re all J.A.G.’s to me.

I can’t bring myself to put Sam Howell in this category, even though I like him. I do think he has potential. Sure, he’s most likely in the range of Drew Lock to Baker Mayfield, which isn’t tremendous. I mean, before last season’s resurgence with the Bucs, we were talking about Baker being an injury-prone bust for crying out loud! But, with the right development, and a little luck, maybe Howell turns into something more? Maybe he’s a Rich Gannon or a Jeff Garcia type. Someone who’s better than a Game Manager, but obviously well short of a Hall of Famer. Someone who – on the right team – can lead you to a Super Bowl, but is going to need a lot of help to push you over the edge.

My biggest beef with the Sam Howell deal is that we traded for him to be a backup. I mean, maybe that’s what he deserves to be, after leading the league in interceptions and sacks endured; it’s probably not the worst idea in the world to let him sit and learn a little more. But, if the whole point is to bring in a young player on a cap-friendly contract, you’re not exactly extracting any value from that deal by sitting him for one of the two remaining years before he’s a free agent. I think the odds are long that he comes in and blows everyone away in Training Camp. With a new team and a new offensive coordinator, he’s not going to overtake a dependable – if uninspiring – veteran in Geno Smith. The only way Howell plays extensively is if Geno REALLY shits the bed, or succumbs to injury, which, we’ll see.

So, if I’m being honest, I think my favorite move is bringing back George Fant!

The Seahawks clearly struggled last year on the O-Line. Abe Lucas apparently has a chronic knee issue that’s always going to limit him in one way or another (if it’s not practice reps, then it’ll be games played), and he’s coming off of some sort of clean-up procedure done this offseason. The hope was to get two more years of competent tackle play from Lucas and Charles Cross, but I don’t know if you can count on that. When you factor in needing to replace all three interior linemen spots, it’s pretty demoralizing knowing that one of your tackle spots is also unreliable.

I think we’re all of the mindset that the Seahawks are going to draft guard with their first pick (probably after they trade down a time or two). My guess is, we won’t stop at just one draft pick; there will be multiple interior linemen drafted. That’s a lot of youth up front – especially when you add last year’s picks of Anthony Bradford and Olu Oluwatimi – so it’s nice to have someone like George Fant on the roster. Someone who can capably slide into either tackle spot in a pinch, as well as someone who can mentor the younger players. Lord knows we’re not getting either quality from Stone Forsythe!

It’s not the sexiest move the Seahawks have ever made, but George Fant is 100% my favorite incoming player on this team.

But, taking the question a little more abstractly, I think my favorite “move” of all is the fact that the Seahawks are eating all of Jamal Adams’ dead money this year, and the fact that we seem to be cleaning house financially, so as to be in a position next year to really make some headway on this rebuild. It’s not a tank job; I’m sure we’re still well-positioned for another 9-8 season in 2024. But, there’s bound to be plenty of money for next year to go out and have some fun. Maybe we’ll get a party boat!

Worst-Kept Secret: The Broncos Are Cutting Russell Wilson

There’s no doubt about it: the Seahawks won the Russell Wilson trade with the Broncos. If you ONLY count the players involved, we’re talking about the two worst seasons in Wilson’s career, and a 4th round defensive lineman who underwhelmed as a rookie and was suspended for gambling in year two. That was the haul for Denver.

The Seahawks, meanwhile, got something of a mixed bag in return, but still unquestionably the better of the situation.

On the plus side, we got to draft Devon Witherspoon, who looks like a potential star in this league. We also got a starting left tackle in Charles Cross, and a likely starting outside linebacker in Boye Mafe. Mafe had 3 sacks as a rookie, and made the leap to 9 sacks in year two, looking like a very promising pass rusher.

In the middle, we got two very competent seasons out of tight end Noah Fant and we had a somewhat capable backup quarterback in Drew Lock. Both are free agents at the moment, so we’ll see if the team opts to bring either of them back.

On the down side, we got one so-so season out of Shelby Harris before cutting him (this was a season where our run defense was extremely poor), we have sort of a wild card in outside linebacker Derick Hall (who didn’t seem to develop like people had hoped as his rookie season wore on), and we drafted Tyreke Smith in the 5th round in 2022 (who spent his entire rookie seaon injured, and his entire second season on the practice squad before being claimed by the Cardinals in December).

Like I said: a bit of a mixed bag. But, the three “hits” obviously outweigh all the misses down below, and you’re not going to be 100% on moves like this. Frankly, this outcome is probably as good as we could’ve hoped for.

Where the almighty bullet was dodged, however, is avoiding the long-term ramifications of choosing Russell Wilson over Pete Carroll and/or John Schneider.

As always, it’s not totally black and white. Obviously, Pete Carroll isn’t here anymore after two 9-win seasons sans Wilson. BUT, also obviously, the Seahawks don’t have to reckon with a 5-year, $242.6 million contract that is just kicking in THIS YEAR, which boggles the mind. In 2023, Wilson’s Seahawks contract just ran out, which is absurd to think about. A guy who was so highly coveted, couldn’t even make it to Year One of his new deal.

That’s $85 million in dead money, spread out over 2024 and 2025. The Broncos had a brand new regime in 2022, then fired everyone for Sean Payton in 2023. Presumably, Payton will have something of a longer leash to try to turn things around, but it seems like the next two years are going to be a challenge. It’s hard to really try to bottom out and still keep your job, but also that’s probably what’s necessary (trade players for draft picks, go with a super youth movement, then try to bounce back in 2026 in free agency).

Can you imagine what the Seahawks would be doing right now, with that kind of Russell Wilson contract on the books? For starters, I don’t know if we’d be talking about cutting him and eating that kind of dead money. It’s interesting to imagine where this team would be – and what we might’ve accomplished the last two years – with Wilson still in the fold. Considering our shabby draft positioning thanks to the Jamal Adams trade, I have to believe we would’ve been considerably worse the last two years!

Now, the questions are: where will Russell Wilson end up next, and will he be able to resuscitate his career?

There are plenty of dimwits who wonder if the Seahawks might bring him back. He is, after all, poised to earn the veteran minimum (thanks to offsets built into his Broncos deal; any new money paid to him only helps his former team). But, why would the Seahawks put themselves through that? Geno Smith hasn’t been a world-beater the last two years, but he’s still been better than Russell Wilson. And I’m sure that Wilson would prefer to go somewhere with a more-established offensive identity (rather than the Seahawks, who are breaking in a lot of young/first-time NFL coaches).

I would find it extremely curious what the Vikings end up doing, particularly if Kirk Cousins moves on to Atlanta or wherever. The Vikings have two terrific wide receivers who can go get deep balls, and a top-tier offensive line that should be able to accommodate Wilson’s lack of mobility. Paying a guy like Wilson the minimum might help them offset the cost of extending Justin Jefferson for what is sure to be the highest wide receiver contract in NFL history.

Regardless of where Wilson ends up, it’s fascinating to see how the narrative has shifted. In the beginning of his Seahawks tenure, he was just a game manager behind an elite run game and defense. As time went on, and he used his magic to pull our asses out of more and more fires, Wilson was properly rated as among the best quarterbacks in the game. Then, as the Seahawks stagnated later in his tenure here, it was the coaching staff and offensive scheme that was holding him back, until he finally forced his way out. Then, in his first year in Denver, Wilson’s struggles were chocked up to Nathaniel Hackett and his poor performance as the head coach. When even the great Sean Payton couldn’t change Wilson’s fortunes, it was time for everyone to admit that maybe Wilson was cooked, and the Seahawks were never to blame for his inability to get over the hump into a proper MVP conversation.

But, does anyone really have to be to blame?

Wilson’s last truly great year was in 2020. But, even then, you could see the writing on the wall. That Seahawks team ended up winning the NFC West, which was nothing new for Russell Wilson in his time here. But, in the L.O.B. days, Wilson was the perfect complement for an elite defense. In the immediate post-L.O.B. days, Wilson ended up compensating for a lot of holes elsewhere on the roster. But, by 2020, those holes weren’t quite as dramatic. And, Wilson was actually starting to be more of the problem than the solution. He threw 8 of his 13 interceptions in our four regular season losses (13 INTs being the most for him in any one season), and added one more for good measure in our playoff loss at home to the Rams. He mopped the floor with the league through five games, then suffered a massive mid-season lull (costing us 3 of 4) before having the reins pulled back by season’s end. The home playoff defeat should have been his final go in Seattle, but we stuck with him for one more year before pulling the trigger with the Broncos.

This is what happens. Quarterbacks age, and eventually they play themselves out of the league. As it turns out, given Wilson’s limitations, he probably was never destined to play into his 40’s like he’d hoped. I’m not ready to say his time has come to an end in the NFL, because I’d like to see what he’s still capable of with a competent coaching staff who actually WANTS him on their team. I think he’s still accurate enough – and has a strong-enough arm – to bounce back and be a productive mid-tier QB. But, an MVP is out of the question, and I’m guessing so is another Super Bowl appearance.

Other than the Vikings, I wonder what he’d look like in a Browns uniform. Could he also compete for a job with the Giants? And what if the Falcons pass on Cousins? There’s a lot of talent down in ATL, that’s going to make some veteran quarterback’s job pretty easy.

I feel like his worst-case scenario is going to Tennessee or Vegas. The Titans are truly bottom-of-the-barrel talent-wise, and the Raiders seem fairly unstable at the moment (I don’t know if I believe they’re going to commit to their erstwhile interim head coach longterm). After that, it’s probably settling for any number of backup jobs.

As for my personal feelings on the matter, I think I’m coming around again. When he was with Denver, I was all too happy to root against him. I wasn’t thrilled with the way things ended in Seattle, and his personality quirks started to rub me the wrong way. But, now that he’s a free agent, I’m still happy to laugh at the Broncos’ misfortunes, but I’m also starting to feel sorry for Russ. For all his faults, he’s still a good-enough guy, and he did play during our greatest era of Seahawks football. There are still so many wonderful memories with him behind center.

I’m rooting for the Russell Wilson comeback! It won’t be in Seattle, but that’s okay. He can’t hurt us anymore.

The Seahawks Were Pretty Great On Offense, Simply Atrocious On Defense

If you take a step back, that was actually a cool, entertaining Thursday Night Football game. If we had no rooting interest in the outcome, how can you beat a game with zero punts, nine touchdowns, and lots of great plays by really talented play-makers? Admittedly, I do like a little more competence out of the defenses I’m watching, but this was the perfect game for a Thursday. I don’t take these games seriously anyway, so why not have a lot of offensive fun?

I’ll admit, I didn’t have a lot emotionally riding on the Seahawks in this one. I picked against them in my weekly pick ’em game, I had plenty of Cowboys in fantasy (Dak in one league, CeeDee and Pollard in another), and I’m at the point of the season where I’d rather we just lose every game going forward. I don’t believe this is a Super Bowl contender, I don’t believe Geno Smith will ever be the answer at quarterback, and I need the Seahawks to go on a significant losing streak to close out the regular season, as that will be the only way Pete Carroll will be able to see that, objectively, I’m right.

That being said, I couldn’t help getting swept up in the action. The Seahawks were once again wearing their throwback jerseys, backs were against walls, and if ever there was hope of winning a game in this gauntlet stretch we’re in, this was it. The Cowboys are good, but flawed. They were ripe for the picking. They were at home – where they were 5-0 heading into this game – they were on a three-game winning streak where they’ve been absolutely dominating the opposition, and I’m sure they were somewhat looking ahead to their showdown with the Eagles next week. Especially if the Eagles lose to the 49ers this week, that game could put the Cowboys in the driver’s seat for the division.

The Seahawks needed this game more than the Cowboys, and they came out of the gates playing like it. Our third play of the game was a third down conversion to D.K. Metcalf that went 73 yards to the house. Right after he caught the ball, he was ten yards away from the nearest defender, yet he turned on the jets like they were right on his heels. That’s what this game meant to us. Going above and beyond.

D.K. was phenomenal in this game, catching 6 for 134 and 3 TDs. Jaxon Smith-Njigba had maybe his best game as a pro (7 for 62). Zach Charbonnet played his ass off before injuring his knee late in the game; he finished with 60 yards rushing and a TD, with 1 reception for 39 yards. More importantly, Geno Smith was on it in this one: 23/41 for 334 yards, 3 TDs, and 1 INT. With zero sacks to boot, against an extremely ferocious Dallas pass rush.

If we had managed to play this well on offense on Thanksgiving, maybe we would’ve stood a chance against the 49ers!

The problem with this one is that the defense brought nothing to the table. We forced them into a 4 & Out after the interception left them in Seahawks territory, but even that was a clear CeeDee Lamb drop that would’ve otherwise easily kept the drive going. Quite frankly, if it weren’t for a couple of drops (of admittedly tough catches), this game would’ve been a Dallas blowout!

Heading into this game, the Seahawks were 36-0 in the Pete Carroll era when they’ve scored 35 or more points. It should go without saying, but when you score 35 points in a football game, YOU SHOULD WIN THAT FOOTBALL GAME! I know a lot of people are going to point to the Seahawks’ performance on 4th down (0 for 3), in particular our final play of the game, and call for Shane Waldron’s head, but don’t let that distract you from this being an all-time bungled defensive showing.

If I had to nitpick the offense, I’d start with Charles Cross. He totally whiffed on our 4th & 1 play, when Charbonnet was running behind him only to get stuffed. He looked mediocre to bad all game; decidedly not worthy of an upper first round draft pick.

I couldn’t tell you what happened on the second fourth down play. There was immediate pressure, but I don’t remember who that was on. It’s unfortunate that Smith and Smith-Njigba weren’t on the same page. It looked like Geno threw it up to him, but he didn’t see the ball and didn’t seem to be aware that it might be coming his way. Had he had the proper awareness of the situation, he might’ve been on the lookout for a quick pass and adjusted his route accordingly. It certainly looked like a ball he could’ve gotten to, if his head was on a swivel. That’s a play Doug Baldwin in his prime makes 10 times out of 10.

But, it’s the final play, ye gods. Dallas rushed six. We let our offensive linemen single-block the first five, leaving Micah Parsons unblocked on the edge. DeeJay Dallas was in the backfield. He was in the game either because Zach Charbonnet was injured (and couldn’t have played anyway), or because it was a 2-minute offense and that’s DeeJay’s role. I have my doubts about the second part of that, because Charbonnet was in there at the end of the first half, so it would stand to reason he’d remain out there in this situation if he was capable of going.

Almost immediately after the game, we were bombarded with video noting how we intentionally left Parsons unblocked. You know, probably the best pure pass rusher in the game of football today? That guy? Yeah. DeeJay was supposed to peel off in the flat and be the number one read to convert the 4th & 2. Except, another defensive lineman forced his way into the backfield and DeeJay got caught up in the wash. Parsons was in Geno’s face almost instantly, and all he could do to avoid a sack was throw the ball at DeeJay’s feet. At that point – with the game clearly hinging on that one play – I don’t know why you don’t just heave the ball straight up into the air and hope for the best, but that’s neither here nor there.

What a crap play call against that defense! Do literally anything else! Max protect, align DeeJay on that side to try to block Parsons, throw a slant to D.K. Something! Not a play where Parsons can get to the quarterback in 0.2 seconds, because not even Tom Brady himself would’ve been able to convert it with that play call.

But, again, it was an otherwise good-to-great game from Shane Waldron, Geno Smith, and the rest of the offensive crew. 35 points is good enough. Except it wasn’t today, and that’s all on the defense.

I will say that it was tough watching some of the penalties in the secondary. There was A LOT of ticky-tack calls going on. And the call against Bobby Wagner was flat out fucking wrong. If I had one gripe about my overall enjoyment of this game, it was the flags. Let guys play. I’d rather they allow a little extra grabbing and hand-fighting than nothing at all. Or, what we actually got last night, which was three quarters of nothing at all, followed by it being pretty much a free-for-all in the fourth quarter. Which you had to know was coming, either by design, or because refs are gonna ref and let things go late in games.

As much as I love to shit on terrible referee performances, I can’t blame them for this one. The Seahawks’ defense was total ass. Devon Witherspoon, Jamal Adams, and Riq Woolen all had mediocre-to-terrible games. Bobby Wagner isn’t able to cover anyone in space unless they literally run right at him and stop; he’s a fucking statue out there. The pass rush did get to Dak for 4 sacks, but they seemed pretty quiet otherwise (and Darrell Taylor whiffed HARD on another potential sack, having Dak dead to rights before letting him go). The Cowboys were 8/14 on third down and 1/2 on fourth down; that’s all you need to know. They dominated in total plays (79-64) and therefore in time of possession (36:27 to 23:33).

Now we get a little extra rest before going on the road to get decimated by the 49ers again. So, enjoy this Seahawks-free weekend while you can!

The Seahawks Were The Lightning Rod For All Of My Sports Trauma During My Honeymoon

Considering what was at stake, I’ll take it.

The Seahawks are frauds. That’s just all there is to it. They went from 6-3 and in a share of first place in the NFC West, to 6-5 and barely clinging to a wild card spot.

The 17-16 loss to the Rams could’ve been avoided, except Geno Smith got knocked out for a good chunk of the game, necessitating a Drew Lock appearance to try to hold onto the lead. He finished 2 of 6 with a pick and 3 yards passing, just in case anyone had any inkling that he might be better than Geno, who did return for the final drive, only to set us up for a 55 yard field goal that was missed as time very nearly expired.

The problem here is, Geno Smith clearly isn’t the answer either, as evidenced by a Thanksgiving night massacre to the 49ers, 31-13. He looked just as inept as he looked the three times we played the 49ers LAST year, en route to a pointless first round wild card defeat. Once again, the Seahawks aren’t anywhere CLOSE to the league the 49ers are in, and it’s stupid to even think about competing for the playoffs this year.

I’m not going to sit here and tell you the Seahawks have absolutely no shot to nab one of those three wild card spots. If they win just one of the next three in this gauntlet stretch we’re in (beating the Cowboys in Dallas would be my bet, if I believed it to be possible), and then take out some bad teams in the Steelers, Titans, and Cardinals, that gets us to 10 wins, which almost certainly gets us a wild card. Hell, even if we settle for 9-8, there’s still a decent chance that’s good enough, as it was last year.

But, this isn’t a Super Bowl team. This isn’t even a team that can win a game in the playoffs, let alone three or four in a row.

Geno Smith is terrible in the face of a defensive front like San Fran’s. The problem is, just about every team making the playoffs in the NFC will have a defensive front that’s – if not AS good – at least close to it. He gets flustered as the pocket closes in around him, he holds the ball too long looking for the big play, and he gets set on his ass on every fucking 3rd down imaginable. Remind you of anything? Because it sure as shit reminds me of Russell Wilson’s last year here.

Turns out, Geno’s 2022 was the high point of his career. It’s only downhill from here. He needs some kind of super awesome offensive line to be the kind of quarterback we need him to be, and unfortunately the guys we’re rolling with just aren’t cutting it. Charles Cross is a JAG. Our interior linemen are more of the same. Abe Lucas might be decent, but he’s also spent the vast majority of this season injured and even if he comes back sooner rather than later, my money is on him re-injuring himself again. If nothing else, it’ll be too little, too late.

Knowing that Geno isn’t the guy, and knowing for damn sure he’s the best quarterback on the roster, that leads us to only one conclusion: the Seahawks need to be thinking about drafting their replacement. So, from now until the end of the year, I’ll be rooting for the Seahawks to lose. I’ll be rooting for Geno to play like total and complete ass. I want there to be no remaining whisper of a doubt: I want him to play himself out of the league if possible. I want it to get through Pete Carroll’s and John Schneider’s thick heads that we need to draft the quarterback of the future if we want to succeed. There are plenty of options coming into the NFL next year, go get one. I don’t care how old Pete is; we can’t cling to his aging and feeble wishes. We need to take what young talent we have on this roster and infuse it with a young, promising quarterback, in hopes that we can FINALLY get over this .500 hump we’ve been in for ages now.

The Seahawks Blew It In Cincinnati

I was right: the Bengals beat the Seahawks. But, they didn’t quite do it as I expected.

As I noted on Friday, I was at the Taylor Swift movie experience – surprisingly, they did NOT cut away occasionally to Travis Kelce cheering along in the luxury suites – so I didn’t get to see this game. As such, this will be a post with more questions than answers. I’ll tell you this much, I didn’t project this as a 17-13 slugfest.

I have two main takeaways coming out of this game. First and foremost – the reason why we lost this one – has to lay at the feet of the offense. Geno Smith had one truly atrocious pick, and another where D.K. apparently gave up on the route. The team as a whole was only 5/12 on third down, and critically 0 for 2 on fourth down (both near the goalline in the fourth quarter, where we had a chance to take the lead or even win the game). Penalties were costly in setting us behind the sticks. And the Bengals were able to pressure us more than we’ve been pressured all season.

I’d love to know what the gameplan was coming into this game. We got Charles Cross back from his injury, but were still saddled with Jake Curhan at right tackle (with some interior shuffling, moving Haynes to left guard, and starting Bradford at right). Did we leave them on more islands than we had the previous few games, opting to go with more 3 wide receiver sets and fewer jumbo packages? Or, was it pretty comparable, and we just got manhandled by a superior front seven? I would hope the coaching staff would have more sense than that, but you can’t rule it out until we see the snap counts. Regardless, it didn’t seem like a well-called game by Waldron. Nor was it a very efficient game from Geno and the rest of our skill players.

My other big takeaway, however, has to do with the defense, and how promising this unit looks going forward.

The Bengals had back-to-back touchdown-scoring drives to open this game, which initially led me to believe my prognostication would be accurate: that we wouldn’t touch Burrow, and they’d carve us up and down the field accordingly. But, we ended up tightening things up the rest of the way, giving up just 3 points after the 12:20 mark in the second quarter. We forced 6 punts and got an interception. We sacked Burrow 3 times in the game, hit him 5 times, got 4 tackles for loss, and knocked down 6 passes. We held Burrow to a paltry 185 yards passing (5.3 yards per attempt) and held their running game to 46 yards on 15 carries. Coming on the heels of that Giants massacre, there were a lot of questions about whether or not we could keep that going against a competent offense. The Seahawks’ defense came through this one with flying colors. They absolutely did enough to win us this game, which hasn’t been something we’ve been able to say very often the last 5+ years.

I can’t sit here and get too down on this team after one game. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t feel very strongly the other way either; I’m not telling you everything is wonderful. It probably helps that I didn’t actually sit through this game for 3 hours; I’m sure in the moment I would’ve been miserable for damn near every minute. Part of me wants to say people are too quick to write off Geno Smith (and they’re damn near insane if they’re calling for Drew Lock to start for this team!), but there’s another part of me that saw Geno finish 3-6 last year (including playoffs), and knows he’s still getting credit for some of those early-2022 performances. He’s good against bad defenses, he’s pretty miserable against good-to-great defenses, and we still don’t have a lot of those late-game heroics that we regularly saw during Russell Wilson’s prime.

I’ll also say that we’ve given Wilson a lot of crap – especially since he’s gone to Denver and stunk up the joint – for poor performances on 3rd down and with taking brutal sacks, but that hasn’t really let up a whole lot with Geno under center. Especially in the biggest games. I don’t know what that says about the team as a whole, other than it’s really hard to be great at quarterback in the NFL, and I ultimately don’t think Geno Smith is great. I think he’s fine. He’s much closer to Ryan Tannehill in his prime than Russell Wilson in his prime.

But, I think we’re going to need to see this season as a whole before we can totally rule him out. There are more opportunities for Geno to turn it around. In a couple weeks, we have back-to-back games against the Browns and Ravens, two good-to-great defenses that he’ll need to be the best version of himself if we expect to win either of those games.

Ultimately, it’s a loss to an AFC team, which means very little in the grand scheme of things. Thankfully, we were bailed out by the Browns – who took care of business against the 49ers – so we haven’t lost any ground. But, that makes next week’s game against the Cards all the more important.

Good on Kenneth Walker for continuing to look like a stud. Good on Tyler Lockett for having another big game. Good on Jaxon Smith-Njigba for being involved, and good on Jake Bobo for making a couple of hard-nosed catches.

Devon Witherspoon had a quieter game than the one in New York, but still broke up 3 passes. Jamal Adams stayed healthy throughout. Dre’Mont Jones, Jarran Reed, and Boye Mafe each had sacks. Tre Brown returned from injury and had a bigtime pick (the combo of him, Witherspoon, and Woolen look dominant together). And look at Jason Myers being perfect (and hitting a 55 yard field goal)!

I will say that I was disappointed in Pete Carroll. If there was ever a game we needed him to be the conservative version of himself, this was it. The defense was rolling by the fourth quarter. We were down 4 points, we had the ball near the goalline. We failed to get it in due to offensive incompetence. There was still over 2 minutes to go, we had two time outs, and he opted to keep the offense out there on 4th & goal at the 6. Kick the field goal! Then, you’re down 1, you have a chance to get the ball back (which we did), and drive it down for the game-winner. It’s mind-boggling when Pete decides to be hyper-aggressive, and when he decides to turtle up. He’ll punt from the opposing 40 yard line in one drive (when we’ve proven capable of moving the football), then he’ll go for it near the goalline (when we’ve looked like ass trying to score in the red zone). Just be consistent! He’s standing on a 16 against a dealer’s 10, then he’s hitting on a 14 when the dealer has a 5, just because he has a feeling or whatever.

Ain’t No Way The Seahawks Are Beating The Bengals

I can’t remember the last time I was so thoroughly convinced of an impending Seahawks loss. I’m sure it wasn’t THAT long ago, probably as recently as last season, but this isn’t one of those deals where our opponent is so vastly superior – like, for instance, the 49ers – that it’s just a slam dunk defeat.

The Bengals have been one of the most disappointing and mediocre teams in the NFL so far this season. The defense hasn’t been as effective as we’ve seen the last few years, but really the onus falls on the offense. Joe Burrow was injured through most of the pre-season, and even though he’s gutted it out through every regular season game, he hasn’t been particularly good.

One might argue the schedule has been on the tougher side. They lost 24-3 to the Browns in week 1, but the Browns’ defense looks like a top 5 unit in the NFL. They lost 27-24 to the Ravens, but those look like two fairly evenly-matched squads. They managed to beat the Rams, but only 19-16; again, the Rams have looked a lot better than we thought heading into the year. The real shocker was the loss at Tennessee, where once again the Bengals were held to 3 points in a 27-3 blowout. The Titans are crap. Okay, their run defense is probably solid, but that doesn’t explain why the Bengals weren’t able to move the ball through the air.

Last week’s 34-20 victory in Arizona was the first time the Bengals looked like the Bengals. The Cards have been frisky this year, so that makes it even more impressive. But, you know, they’re still a bad team. Was this the first time Burrow’s felt fully healthy (or, as healthy as he’s going to be with a nagging calf injury)?

You could argue that playing in Cincinnati this early is the best possible scenario for the Seahawks, over playing them late, when they usually start to go on a tear towards the playoffs. Given that they’re 2-3, and we’re 3-1 (and have looked better and better every week), one might expect the Seahawks to take care of business in this one. But, I just don’t think we match up very well.

Our run defense is undeniably improved over last year, which is great. We give up among the fewest yards per game in the league, and I think I saw a stat somewhere saying we give up the fewest yards per carry, which is outstanding! But, our passing yards per game are among the highest given up in the league (worse than the Broncos, and pretty close to what the Bears and Chargers are giving up). The Bengals, in spite of having a solid back in Joe Mixon, don’t feature the run. They use it to complement their passing attack, but the offense runs through Burrow, and he’s saying he’s as close to 100% as he’s been all season. That’s scary.

He’s a smart, capable quarterback who doesn’t take a lot of sacks. I don’t know if people watched that Monday night dismantling of the Giants and are now thinking this is the new normal for the Seahawks’ defense, but I don’t expect us to touch Burrow. I feel like this is going to be a lot like the Rams game in week 1, where he is getting the ball out quickly, moving the sticks, and picking us apart in the secondary. Burrow’s biggest problem this year has been his accuracy, which is in the bottom quarter of starting quarterbacks. But, a lot of that has to do with his injury, and now that he’s feeling better, I expect that to be less of an issue. He’s averaged 62.4% completions on the season, but last week against the Cards, he was up to 78.2%. He’s not Daniel Jones, in other words.

That all isn’t to say that I think we’re destined to get blown out of the stadium – like we were against the Rams – because the Seahawks have a number of things going for them that should make this game interesting. For starters, we’re coming off of our BYE week, which is always nice. That means we’re rested, and we’re starting to get healthy again.

Jamal Adams should be back from his concussion, which saves us yet another missed game from him (since you have to think – had we played last Sunday – he wouldn’t have been available, given the way concussion injuries have gone this season). I think Charles Cross and Phil Haynes are practicing again. Tre Brown is back. Riq Woolen and Devon Witherspoon are another week out from their respective injuries. As is JSN, who clearly hasn’t been what we saw in the pre-season, since he injured his hand. And, of course, Geno isn’t as hobbled, after taking that nasty hit out of bounds against the Giants. We’re not as healthy as we’ve ever been, but we’re as healthy as can be expected, and we’ll need every bit of it to hang with Cincy.

You can’t take this game for granted. I would argue this is a different Bengals team than we saw through the first month. Much closer to their expected status as an AFC contender. Solid enough on defense, great-to-elite on offense.

I do think the Seahawks will keep it close. Vegas clearly agrees, as they have the Bengals -2.5. They seem to be in line with what I’m expecting; I imagine there’s a good number of squares out there putting money on the Seahawks. I have to believe the sharps are on the home team.

I think the Seahawks will look a little ragged at times on offense, but will eventually get it going. I think the Bengals, however, will put up 31 points, minimum. I could see it being a 34-31 game where we come out on the losing end. I could also see the Bengals tacking on a late break-away touchdown to make it 41-31. Regardless, I’m not expecting to say very many good things about the defense when we come back here on Monday.

The Seahawks will likely put a lot of focus on Ja’Marr Chase, which might keep him out of the endzone, but he’ll still have good fantasy numbers when it’s all said and done. If the Seahawks let him blow up for 200+ yards and two scores, then I expect this game will get ugly in a hurry. They’ve really got more than enough weapons all over the field though, hence my belief that they won’t have trouble moving the ball on us.

This also just has the feel of One Of Those Games, you know? The Seahawks are riding high, this feels like one of those games we can go on the road and steal, and then BAM, we get smacked in the face.

The last time we started 3-1 or better was in 2020; that year we went 5-0 heading into our BYE before losing at Arizona in overtime. We are 7-6 in weeks after our BYE in the Pete Carroll era, but we’re on a 3-year losing streak where we haven’t looked good AT ALL in those games. We’re also 6-5 in our first AFC road games of the season dating back to 2012, which means nothing, but I find it amusing. There’s lots of these random AFC losses on our ledger; maybe it’s because we don’t face these teams very often. Maybe it’s just dumb luck.

I dunno. I got a bad feeling though. My family and I are going to the Taylor Swift movie concert thing on Sunday at 11am, so I’m probably not going to see very much of this game, unless I can watch it on delay after I get home. I fully expect to leave the theater to news of a Seahawks loss. If I didn’t already lose the Taylor Family Farm dozens of times, I’d put it up to win a boatload, because I think I’m right. As right as I’ve ever been!

Let’s Talk About The Seahawks’ 53-Man Roster 2023

The Seahawks cut their roster down to 53 players yesterday, following the end of the pre-season. That’s always mildly interesting to talk about, right?

We should probably get the big caveat out of the way now: this isn’t the be-all, end-all of the Seahawks roster. As early as later today, we should start seeing changes. Guys hitting the IR (because if they went on the IR prior to roster cutdown, they’d be lost for the season; whereas after, they only miss a few games), guys getting cut for other players we claim off of waivers or whatnot, possible trades for back-end draft picks/roster spots. Mildly interesting. Let’s get to it.

Quarterback

  • Geno Smith
  • Drew Lock

High floor, medium ceiling. There are certainly worse backups to have than Lock, but you can argue there are plenty of better starters than Geno. We’ll see, though. I would argue Geno’s in that 10-15 range among NFL quarterbacks; for him to take it to a higher level, he’s going to need improved offensive line play.

Running Back

  • Kenneth Walker
  • Zach Charbonnet
  • DeeJay Dallas
  • Kenny McIntosh

Strong group, if they can stay healthy. I get the feeling Walker is being criminally overlooked, and I’m not sure I totally understand why. He’s got big play potential, he’s shifty, he can break tackles, he has a nose for the endzone, he’s not bad with his hands; he seems like the whole package. Yet, we draft Charbonnet in the second round, and everyone’s already On To The Next. I’m not sold on Charbonnet; I think he’s a solid #2, but I don’t know if he’s necessarily a starting-calibre, workhorse-type back. Dallas is the perfect #3/passing down back, good blocker, great hands, good route runner. McIntosh – if he isn’t already placed on the IR – figures to be inactive until the need arises for him to be called up.

Wide Receiver

  • D.K. Metcalf
  • Tyler Lockett
  • Jaxon Smith-Njigba
  • Jake Bobo
  • Cody Thompson
  • Dareke Young

Elite! I think Smith-Njigba – right now – would be the very best receiver on a good number of teams, and at worse most teams’ #2. That’s as a rookie, and WITH the broken wrist! The fact that he’s our #3? It’s crazy. Also, count me in on the Bobo Hype Train 100%! All four of these guys are so different, so skilled, and bring something unique to the table, it’s going to be impossible for someone to not be open on every play. The last two guys are special teamers and/or injured, so we’ll see how that shakes out in the coming hours/days.

Tight End

  • Noah Fant
  • Will Dissly
  • Colby Parkinson

How cool is this? Two home grown guys on reasonable contracts, building their way up in this league, in this system. And Noah Fant – the big player prize in the Russell Wilson deal – who might get overlooked more than anyone on this team. Just solid studs who are good-to-great blockers, and valuable contributors in the receiving game. This is my ideal tight end room; lots of talent, with not a lot of dollars spent. Just some grinders putting in the work.

Offensive Line

  • Charles Cross (LT)
  • Damien Lewis (LG)
  • Evan Brown (C)
  • Phil Haynes (RG)
  • Abe Lucas (RT)
  • Stone Forsythe (T)
  • Jake Curhan (G/T)
  • Olu Oluwatimi (C)
  • Anthony Bradford (G)

Also, probably my ideal offensive line group. Everyone except for Brown is a homegrown guy, and he’s kind of a solid, cheap free agent center. We have the bookend tackles with the potential to be great in the years ahead, solid guards on the last year of their respective deals (so you know they’re looking to show out and get paid), and the two rookies who are ready to start pushing for playing time as early as this season. There are definitely questions about how good this group is right now, but I’m hopeful we’ll see some growth if not this year, then in the years ahead. Just, you know, let’s not see any injuries on the outside if we can avoid it.

Defensive Line

  • Dre’Mont Jones
  • Jarran Reed
  • Mario Edwards
  • Mike Morris
  • Myles Adams
  • Cameron Young

This, uhh, looks less than impressive when you list them all together. We’re REALLY relying on Jones and Reed to carry the mail in this group. Edwards is just a guy. Adams is just a guy. Morris and Young are both rookies, but also injured I think? I don’t know WHAT we’re getting from this group, but it doesn’t look amazing. I, for one, can’t wait for Bryan Mone to come back.

Outside Linebacker

  • Uchenna Nwosu
  • Darrell Taylor
  • Boye Mafe
  • Derick Hall
  • Tyreke Smith

This feels a little more impressive, but also maybe a little top-heavy. We know what we’ve got with Nwosu. We think we know what we’ve got with Taylor. The rest still have to prove it on the football field, in regular season games, against opposing #1 offenses. Now, I think we’re all very high on Mafe and Hall, based on their bodies and what we’ve heard said about them in training camp and what we’ve seen in pre-season games. But, we all know how that goes. Whatever happened to Alton Robinson and Nick Reed?

Inside Linebacker

  • Bobby Wagner
  • Jordyn Brooks
  • Devin Bush
  • Jon Rhattigan

This looks 1,000% better with Brooks back and playing. Is he fully healthy? We’ll find out. But, that takes pressure off of Bush to be superman, and that relieves all of us of watching Rhattigan make ankle tackles all game long. None of these units I’ve listed on the defensive side of the ball – by themselves – look all that great. But, with Bobby Wagner’s leadership and ability, he might be the glue that holds everything together and wills this group to great things. It’s our only hope, if I’m being honest!

Safety

  • Quandre Diggs
  • Julian Love
  • Jamal Adams
  • Jerrick Reed
  • Coby Bryant

Lots of versatility in this group; might be the most versatile we’ve ever seen. Adams figures to play more linebacker than actual safety. Bryant has shown an adeptness at both safety and nickel corner. I get the feeling that Love can play down in the box, but also isn’t a slouch in coverage. And Reed looked MIGHTY impressive in the pre-season; I’m happy with this group as a whole.

Cornerback

  • Riq Woolen
  • Devon Witherspoon
  • Michael Jackson
  • Tre Brown
  • Artie Burns

Pound for pound, maybe the most talented group on the team. Still, I can’t help but question Jackson’s level of play in the last two pre-season games. I thought Tre Brown looked much flashier, with bigger play potential. And you could do A LOT worse than either Burns or Bryant as your fifth corner. Teams have to be jealous of this unit.

Special Teams

  • Michael Dickson (P)
  • Jason Myers (K)
  • Chris Stoll (LS)
  • Nick Bellore

I’m tired of listing Bellore as a linebacker; he’s just a special teamer! He sure as shit isn’t a fullback; we never use one! Stoll is an undrafted rookie, so we’ll see how long he lasts. Otherwise, good group, solid all around.

No One’s Really Talking About The Seahawks’ Offensive Line

The consensus biggest cause for concern when it comes to the Seahawks is the rush defense. For good reason. We were terrible at stopping the run last year. It cost us at least three very winnable games last year (vs. Tampa in Germany, vs. Vegas in an overtime shootout, and mystifyingly at home against a mediocre Panthers team). You also can’t help but wonder how we lost to the likes of the Falcons and Saints, but the rush defense deficiencies really presented itself as the season wore on, and the Bucs exposed us as a team entirely ill-equipped to prevent yards on the ground.

Rush defense is also the biggest cause for concern because I think a lot of fans question whether the Seahawks did enough to address this area of need. That remains to be seen, but I feel like it’ll be better than we expect, even if it’s far from ideal.

A lowkey potential problem lies in the offensive line though, and I don’t think anyone is giving it the attention it deserves.

I think, for the most part, people were happy with the Seahawks’ offense in general last year. We got to be pleasantly surprised; that’s always fun. Geno Smith rose from the ashes to become a competent starting quarterback in this league. The top receivers both had 1,000-yard seasons. The running backs – led by Kenneth Walker – were electric and impactful. And, the play-calling was better than we’ve seen in ages.

But, there were still a number of games where the offense really struggled. Not just against the 49ers, though those three games definitely stand out (including our first round exit in the playoffs). And I think Geno largely gets a pass even though his numbers declined as the season wore on.

The O-Line gets a pass too, though I would argue a lot of his challenges were a direct result of protection problems.

If you had to critique Geno’s performance as a whole in 2022, what would you say were his biggest areas in need of improvement? Third downs, and late game production. Even though he eventually did lead us to a few come-from-behind victories, or otherwise winning us games late, it seems like in most of our losses we had opportunities to snatch a victory, but fell short.

Shockingly, I don’t have the numbers, but what I saw indicated a team that was really lacking in protection on third downs in obvious passing situations. How many times did we see Geno take a back-breaking sack on third and long? Some of that might be on him, holding the ball too long, or not finding the open man (if there was a man open), but a good chunk of that was a total failure by the line to give him any time whatsoever. I never felt confident that we’d convert a third & long, in any situation, but especially late in games. They just crumbled under the increased pressure, and as a result too many drives ended in a whimper.

Now, obviously, the Seahawks have certain advantages with their O-Line that many teams don’t get to enjoy. On the whole, the line is fine. To me, it’s middle-of-the-road. It’s not like some of those offensive lines during the lesser Russell Wilson years. Sure, both were relatively inexpensive, but this one is actually seeing results, whereas those older ones were legitimate liabilities (and deserved to be considered among this team’s chief problem areas). We’re getting by with bookend tackles on rookie contracts. Our guards are home-grown. And the center carousel keeps turning, but at least this year we have a viable rookie to push the retread free agent we signed in the offseason. To get middle-of-the-road production from a unit so underpaid is a blessing! It allows us to field a competent offense while bolstering other areas of the team into real strengths.

But, now we’re talking about a team that wants to play with the big dogs. We’re talking about a team coming off of a surprising playoff run, that’s looking to take the next step into potentially winning the division and contending for the conference title. I don’t know if any reasonable fan or pundit would rank the Seahawks as highly as the Eagles or 49ers, but A LOT of them are picking the Seahawks as either a dark horse or a frisky contender (largely based on the perceived weakness of the NFC, but still).

I am of the belief that the Seahawks can’t simply replicate their 2022 offense and all of a sudden win 2-3 more games. I think most of us are of the opinion that the 2023 defense will be improved over their 2022 counterparts. But, we’re going to need the offense to take a similar step forward if we really want to compete with the likes of the 49ers. Since the skill guys are largely the same, that means we’re going to need a boost from the O-Line, and that’s what has me worried here today.

There’s a lot of talk about a sophomore slump vs. a sophomore boost (or whatever, I don’t remember the exact phrasing Pete Carroll used) when it comes to the likes of Charles Cross and Abe Lucas. Again, we’re thrilled they were rookies last year and played a full season, but they WILL need to step it up if we’re going to be better. I don’t 100% buy into those PFF grades, as I’ve heard they’re inherently flawed, but I’m still not encouraged by their regular low grades in both pass and run blocking. The PFF grades aren’t good for nothing, and I’d like to see them start to show out for the nerds.

I don’t get the sense that Damien Lewis is a problem, necessarily, but I also don’t know that he’s a huge benefit either. He’s never mentioned among the top guards in football. It’s nice that he’s a gamer, and he’s on a rookie deal as a third rounder who’s started since his first year. But, he kinda feels like Just A Guy. On the other side, there’s no question that Phil Haynes outplayed Gabe Jackson last year in a time-share situation; with Jackson gone, you’d think that’s an upgrade. But, there’s a reason why Haynes has largely been a fringe player in this league. He was a fourth round rookie and a backup in 2019 (after being injured for most of that season), on the IR in 2020, waived and on our practice squad for most of 2021, until finally last year he got an opportunity. Any team could’ve had him, and chose to let him remain a Seahawk. He’s on a cheap 1-year deal this year, because again, no one else wanted him. And now you figure he’s going to be pushed by Anthony Bradford, another fourth round rookie. Was Haynes as good as he was last year because he only played about half the time? Can he sustain for a full season as the starter at right guard?

Then, there’s the center. Evan Brown, in a long line of journeymen centers we’ve brought over here in the wake of the mistake that was trading Max Unger for Jimmy Graham way back in the day. He’s a guy who played guard and center for the Lions last year, and to his credit was much better as a center. That being said, you’re talking about a guy making less than $3 million on a 1-year deal. A guy, like Haynes, who it appears nobody else wanted. Someone who – like the rest of our interior line – is a JAG who may be better than some of the previous centers we’ve employed here, but that’s not saying much.

And then there’s our depth. Ye gods!

I’ve been killing these backups all month for the pisspoor performances we’ve seen from them in the first two preseason games. Again, for good reason! They’ve stunk! The running game can’t get going, the quarterback can’t get into a rhythm, and for whatever reason (maybe because we’ve won both games) people have just ignored this unit entirely! Sure, they’re backups, but they’re also going up against backups, and I can’t help but be alarmed by how inept our guys have been.

You could replace Stone Forsythe with a statue and get comparable results; he’s terrible. Granted, he’s a sixth round pick in our nadir draft of 2021 (where we only had three picks), but I can’t even say he’s a decent backup. He’s a liability! And if either of our tackles goes down, we’re super fucked!

I really liked Jake Curhan as an undrafted rookie; I thought he showed real potential and was going to be a steal for us. But, he’s had some injury issues, and we’ve tried to cross-train him at guard as well as right tackle, and I don’t know if that’s as successful as the team thinks it is. He’s looked a little rough out there, though I don’t think he’s as dire as Forsythe.

I will say that I am encouraged by the rookies Olu Oluwatimi and Anthony Bradford. But, Olu has been dealing with a nagging elbow injury that held him out of the most recent preseason game, and figures to be his undoing in this center battle (until he’s fully healthy again). All things being equal, I’d rather have Olu over Evan Brown, but not an injured Olu. As for Bradford, it’s pretty clear he’s behind Haynes. Seems like he’s more of a project, though a very promising one from what I’ve seen from him in the two preseason games. He might not be a finished product, but I can’t wait to see what that ultimately looks like, because I feel like – if he can stay healthy – he might be a monster.

Beyond that, your guess is as good as mine as far as backups go. I think the Seahawks usually only keep 9 on the 53-man roster, so that might be it.

In the early going of this season, it’s going to hinge on the improvement (or lack thereof) of Cross and Lucas. If they’re better, that’s an immediate boost. I think, with the interior, those guys are who they are, and we’re unlikely to see ANY improvement this season.

BUT, if Olu and/or Bradford ultimately work to steal jobs, we could be looking at a situation where this unit is playing better by season’s end than it is at the beginning. That doesn’t give me a lot of hope for winning the division, because a slow start is sure to torpedo us in that area; but, if we can go on a nice little run to close out the season, then who knows?

We’ll see though. For the most part, I think the Seahawks’ defense will be fine. It won’t be close to top 10, but it shouldn’t be bottom 10 either. No, this season is going to come down to the offensive line. If they can take a step foward, we’re looking at a top 5 offense.

But, if they tread water, we could be in for another .500-ish finish.

Is Geno Smith A Top 10 Quarterback In 2023?

There’s a lot of Top 10 lists being thrown around nowadays when it comes to the NFL. You know, it’s still pre pre-season, most of the important free agents have signed with teams, and there just isn’t much going on. The calm before the storm, if you will.

So, to get everyone all riled up, media outlets create fake outrage (in the absence of legitimate outrage, which will surely be coming, if it isn’t already here – NFL running backs being underpaid and whatnot) to get everyone talking about football. It’s how we keep the NFL on the front of everyone’s mind 24/7/365.

They’ve been doing this series of Top 10 lists by position group, and save D.K. Metcalf (I think), the Seahawks can’t seem to buy any representation. Hell, even Pete Carroll can’t get a Top 10 nod, being ranked behind the likes of Brian Daboll, Kyle Shanahan, among other coaches who don’t have the resume Pete has. Other than PFF being responsible for that head coach list, I don’t really know where these are coming from. Is it ESPN? NFL.com? Other? I don’t really care.

Other than the head coaching thing, I kind of understand why the Seahawks aren’t among the Top 10 in anything. Outside of D.K., who is our biggest star? I would argue our very best players are so young, they haven’t had a chance to really prove themselves. There’s a variety of rookies from the last couple drafts (including 2023) who I believe will turn into studs, if they aren’t there already. So, you know what? Disrespect them now! Put another chip on their shoulders! I read on Twitter that the Seahawks were iced out of the top 32 in NFL offensive tackles; great! Stupendous! Charles Cross and Abe Lucas see that, and they’re coming for you!

But, if anyone might have a gripe, I think it’s Geno Smith. I think he might be a Top 10 quarterback, and he’s being summarily dismissed once again in the eyes of the know-it-all pundits.

Not all of them. There are always contrarians out there willing to go to bat for Geno. But, it’s weird just the same.

We’re not making a case for All Time Top 10. We’re just talking about the Top 10 quarterbacks heading into 2023. It’s a prediction, based on last year’s production, and what you think is possible for this year.

The usual suspects round out the very top of this list: Patrick Mahomes, Joe Burrow, Josh Allen, Jalen Hurts, Justin Herbert. On the next tier down, I think you can make an argument for Lamar Jackson, Kirk Cousins, Tua Tagovailoa, Trevor Lawrence, Jared Goff, Dak Prescott, Matthew Stafford, and even Aaron Rodgers; they all have flaws, but I think they have to be in the conversation just the same.

And I would put Geno Smith squarely in that group in the second tier.

So, we’re locking in the Top 5, in some order: Mahomes, Burrow, Allen, Hurts, Herbert. What about the next five?

Well, I think you have to consider the very real injury risks coming with the likes of Tua, Dak, Lamar, and Stafford. Stafford’s arm is about to fall off, plus the talent around him is depleted. Even if he plays in 2023, I don’t think he’ll be better than Geno. When you take away the Dak injury, he was still wildly inconsistent, and good for at least a mistake a game that might cost ’em. At this point, the bloom is off the rose and I don’t think I would rank him over Geno. Lamar, as a running quarterback, is taking a massive amount of hits over the average pocket passer or scrambler. He isn’t the smartest about avoiding contact, and frankly he’s not the passer that Geno is. Other than Mark Andrews, who is he throwing to? Now that he’s been given the massive contract he was looking for, will he be as motivated? I have a lot of doubts about Lamar, most of all: is he a winner? In the regular season, sure, but I think I’d rather have Geno in a playoff game, all things considered. And, we all know what’s going on with Tua. He’s legit elite in that offense, and could be a Top 5 QB when healthy. But, one more big hit to the head might end his career. No thanks.

Aaron Rodgers is an interesting case here. He definitely wasn’t a Top 10 quarterback in 2022; he was legitimately bad! A lot of that, I’m sure, had to do with the loss of Davante Adams, though it’s concerning because great QBs are supposed to elevate the talent around them. I just think A-Rod was done with Green Bay prior to last season, but they couldn’t move him for a variety of reasons, so they had to eat a sub-par year out of him before sending him on his way. Rodgers has elite receivers in New York. Presumably, the O-Line will be fine, though they might also be terrible (which would worry me). More than anything, I wonder if his heart is in it anymore. He’s getting up there. He’s got a world of interests outside of football. He spent a significant portion of this offseason contemplating whether or not he would play again. And, everyone is already crowning the Jets as the next Super Team, which is always cause for concern. BUT, on the flipside, everyone is already counting Rodgers out. There’s a significant portion of the talking heads out there who are dismissing the Jets for all the reasons I just mentioned. And people are taking every opportunity to clown on Rodgers for his … everything (personality, beliefs, political leanings, etc.). In that respect, part of me wonders if he goes Scorched Earth on the NFL for one more year. I mean, he was just the MVP back-to-back years in 2021 and 2022, so you can’t entirely rule him out.

As for Cousins and Goff, I think there’s enough of a sample for both of them to see where they’re lacking. They play up against the bad teams, but don’t always show up against the good ones. There’s enough mistakes in their game to make them total wild cards on any given week. And, with Trevor Lawrence, last year was really his first with any sort of coaching competence around him. And, in spite of that, Geno still out-performed him in most every major category.

This isn’t to say I think Geno Smith is perfect, or even the best option of all of these Tier 2 guys. He has his own mistake issues. He’ll throw a back-breaking interception, drop a killer fumble, or allow defensive pressure to get the best of him. And he also only has the one season of quality play.

But, Geno was Top 10 in total yards (8th, with 4,282), was 4th in passer rating among quarterbacks who played in at least 13 games, he led the league in completion percentage among qualified passers, he averaged 7.5 yards per attempt (7th in football among QBs who played in at least 13 games), and was one of only 8 quarterbacks who played in all 17 games. He also had the 4th most touchdown passes with 30.

I think in aggregate – based on all of the above – you have to put Geno in the Top 10. That doesn’t mean he’s guaranteed to be there at season’s end. But, knowing what we know now, about him and the rest of the league, when you factor in his ability, the talent and coaching around him, I would put him in the Top 10, and I’m as much of a doubter as anyone.

The Seahawks Are Lucky To Be Rid Of Russell Wilson

I occasionally return to writing about Russell Wilson, because he’s a truly fascinating figure in Seattle sports history. “How the mighty have fallen” is something that comes immediately to mind.

There was an article released by The Athletic today outlining his miserable first year in Denver. It also touched on the impetus for him being traded to the Broncos in the first place: he allegedly went to Seahawks ownership and called for them to fire Pete Carroll and John Schneider. Wilson has since denied those claims on Twitter – an intriguing move, to be sure, since I don’t know him to be so reactionary when negative news about him is released – but the Seahawks have stuck to their usual stance of not commenting whatsoever.

I don’t think anyone is really inclined to believe anything that Russell Wilson says at this point. There was another bombshell recently released that got into Wilson’s charitable foundation, and how they may or may not be spending their money. Turns out extravagantly wealthy people aren’t always all that inclined to give away their money, and that they may inflate what they’ve purported to donate. The sad thing is that he’s just like any other multi-millionaire in the world.

While he might not have gone directly to Jody Allen (or whoever’s running the show with the Seahawks), I would venture to guess probably his agent passed along both of their wishes. It’s particularly believable given the additional nugget of information released by The Athletic: that Wilson’s preferred head coaching replacement for Pete Carroll was Sean Payton. We all know Wilson’s affinity for Drew Brees, and the fact that the Saints were on his previous list of teams he’d be willing to be traded to (back when Payton was still their coach).

There’s an alternate universe where Russell Wilson spends his entire career with the Seahawks. It’s fascinating to contemplate what would’ve happened if the organization sided with the player over the coach and general manager. What kind of dystopian hellscape would THAT look like?

For starters, we wouldn’t have had Denver’s draft picks last year. No Charles Cross at left tackle. Who takes that spot? Your guess is as good as mine. Maybe we would’ve re-signed Duane Brown for one more year. We wouldn’t have had Boye Mafe either (he didn’t do a ton as a rookie), and there’s a legitimate question as to whether or not we would’ve used our other second round pick on Kenneth Walker. I mean, really, without John Schneider running the draft, it’s highly unlikely we’d have ANY of the guys we got. We’re talking an entirely different, unknown crop of rookies and free agent moves, all likely catering to Wilson’s whims.

Also, I would strongly doubt the Seahawks could’ve managed to hire Sean Payton in this kind of situation. Why would he want to come here? As we’ve seen the last two years, he clearly had his pick of the litter when it came to head coaching jobs. Why would he put himself into a situation where he’d have to be subservient to his quarterback? It’s also a situation that has him living in Seattle (probably not his ideal destination), working for an organization that might be going through an ownership change as soon as 2024. That sounds like a headache I’m sure he would’ve rather avoided.

But, if you believe Wilson had that kind of pull this time last year – that he could convince Payton to come here – then I suppose you can look at the 2023 Broncos as sort of a barometer or the kind of success we might’ve enjoyed in 2022. Except, the 2023 Broncos have a drastically superior roster of talent outside of the quarterback spot, compared to what the Seahawks had last season.

I’m trying to imagine what the Seahawks would’ve looked like this past year, with Wilson behind the center, running Payton’s offense with our guys (minus Kenneth Walker, of course), saddled with that defense (that surely would’ve performed worse than they actually did, thanks to the loss of Carroll’s guiding influence). It seems like it would’ve been an absolute nightmare, made all the worse by the fact that WE would be the ones overpaying for Wilson’s diminishing services for the next however many years.

Now, if you take Sean Payton out of that equation, and saddle us with a Nathaniel Hackett (or whoever we could’ve managed to convince to coach here), I think we’re talking about a team that’s even WORSE than what the 2022 Broncos actually were.

I believe that Russell Wilson believes that Pete Carroll and John Schneider were holding him back in his quest to win MVPs and Super Bowls. I also can’t entirely dismiss that line of thinking. It’s easy to sit here and dunk on Wilson. Age is catching up to him, his size limits his ability to throw over the intermediate middle, and hubris is preventing him from ceding control or reining in his preferred style of play (meaning he no longer runs with the football, and opts to take deep shots over checkdowns that might actually net more yards). So, I fully understand the instinct to call Wilson crazy. The only person holding Russell Wilson back is Russell Wilson.

But, I can’t just unsee what he did in the second half of 2015.

It’s the outlier to end all outliers. In the final seven games of the regular season, the Seahawks went 6-1. In those six victories, Wilson’s lowest passer rating was 123.7 (his average rating over that span was 132.8). He had a 71% completion percentage. He threw for 1,906 yards, with an absolutely RIDICULOUS 24:1 touchdown to interception ratio. It’s literally the best stretch of football I’ve ever seen by a quarterback, and it was unlike literally any other season he’s played in the NFL. He threw from the pocket, he threw with precision, on time, to all areas of the field (including the intermediate middle). I can’t even fathom how brilliant and efficient the Seahawks’ offense was, at a time when our rushing attack wasn’t there to prop us up. It was all on the arm of Russell Wilson. And, I’m afraid it’s warped everyone’s thinking – including his own – ever since.

The sad part is the fact that he reverted right back to his usual style of play when we hit the playoffs that season (the last of our L.O.B. Championship Window). It really seemed like we’d turned a page, and the offense was ready to ascend that year. Instead, we barely got by the Vikings in the wild card round, before taking a HUGE shit early deficit in the first half of the divisional round against Carolina, before our furious comeback fell seven points short in the end.

From then on, though, it felt like there was no limit to Wilson’s abilities. Sure, he had the running, and he had the play-action deep balls, but now he had this precision timing offense down. THAT was supposed to be the key to how he’d age gracefully in this league. And when we never saw him do it again, we all assumed it was because Pete Carroll was holding back the offense. And/or because John Schneider wasn’t giving Wilson the guys he needed around him to make it work.

Part of that is true. Carroll did rein in the offense. Except, it was only AFTER Wilson made too many horrendous throws and turned the ball over an uncharacteristic amount. And, of course, how can we forget all the times John Schneider did, in fact, sign free agents that were Wilson-approved? The Greg Olsen tenure here is a boil on my ass that will never go away.

This takes us back to Russell Wilson being the only person holding Russell Wilson back. But, he still did what he did in that 2015 season. And it’s fair to wonder what his career might’ve looked like if he’d had Sean Payton’s offense from the get go.

It’s also fair to wonder if it’s too little, too late. He’ll be 35 years old in November. And he’s clearly not aging the way Tom Brady aged into his 35th year.

I’m just glad he’s not our problem anymore.