How The 2017 NFL Draft Ruined The Seattle Seahawks

I was writing about something else, when as a lark, I jumped into the Wiki of the 2017 NFL draft. I will be perfectly honest, I was there because of Patrick Mahomes.

It’s always nagged at me that the Seahawks were scouting Mahomes in the lead-up to that draft. Is that just noise? The Seahawks leaking reports to make John Schneider look smart? Maybe; anything’s possible. But, I don’t know if I would comprehend the endgame of that. Why leak that story at all, if he wasn’t legitimately interested?

If Mahomes was here, maybe Pete Carroll would still be here. Maybe the Seahawks would have more than the one Super Bowl victory. Maybe WE would be the envy of every other NFL fanbase!

The thought process behind the Mahomes-to-Seahawks hoopla was the concept that if he had fallen in the draft, maybe we would’ve taken him anyway, and had him sit behind Wilson until he was ready to ascend (and we could just let Wilson walk, like the Packers did with Favre).

But, he didn’t fall. Kansas City made sure of that. Kansas City moved up in the draft, trading with Buffalo to get the 10th overall pick in 2017, giving them 27 & 91, as well as a first rounder in 2018. For shits and giggles, I looked to see what the Seahawks had coming into that draft. We had 26, AND we had three third rounders, including pick 90.

If that isn’t a kick in the pants, I don’t know what is.

Now, obviously, the Seahawks had Russell Wilson. We signed him to a 4-year extension in July of 2015. You could argue that was the beginning of the end, because even though it wasn’t likely the Seahawks could’ve traded him that summer, if they had gotten a jump and traded him before (or even waited and traded him after the 2015 season), we would’ve gotten a HAUL in return. I know everyone is pleased as punch with what we swindled out of the Broncos after the 2021 season, but just imagine what we could’ve gotten for him in his prime, still on his rookie deal!

Anyway, as that link indicates, I was against trading Wilson in 2015. But, I would’ve gotten over it, especially if it had led to us getting Mahomes in 2017. You take the 2016 draft, rebuild at other spots, then you get Mahomes in 2017 and off you go.

What makes matters worse is what we actually did in the 2017 NFL draft.

We traded down from 26 to 31 (missing out on T.J. Watt in the process). We, then, traded down again, from 31 to 34 (missing out on Ryan Ramczyk in the process). We traded down one more time, from 34 to 35 (missing out on Cam Robinson), all so we could draft Malik McDowell. He was an all-time bust who we spent YEARS trying to recover from (making multiple trades for interior defensive linemen, who all backfired on us in one way or another, while slogging through mediocrity the entire way).

What did we do with the rest of the landslide of draft picks we acquired?

  • Ethan Pocic in the second round: who we dicked around with at guard, before ultimately putting him at the only position he was good at (center), but not before he got bit by he injury bug for multiple years.
  • Shaquill Griffin in the third round: a good, not great, cornerback, who was a pale imitation of Richard Sherman.
  • Lano Hill in the third round: a total bust of a strong safety; not even a pale imitation of Kam Chancellor.
  • Nazair Jones in the third round: a total nobody of a DT.
  • Amara Darboh in the third round: a total nobody of a WR.
  • Tedric Thompson in the fourth round: yet another total bust of a safety, who sure as shit was no Earl Thomas; we also suffer the further indignity of knowing that George Kittle was on our radar and could’ve been had in this spot.
  • Michael Tyson in the sixth round: not the boxer.
  • Justin Senior in the sixth round: who?
  • David Moore in the seventh round: one of the best players we drafted in this class, who was little more than a possession receiver in the vein of a poor man’s Jermaine Kearse.
  • Chris Carson in the seventh round: probably the most talented player in our draft class, who fell to the seventh round because of injury concerns, and did not disappoint on that count in the pros.

In short, we overpaid Russell Wilson for dwindling production, we missed out on Patrick Mahomes – a guy who might end up surpassing Tom Brady as the greatest player of all time – AND we not only stockpiled a shitload of crap, but had to account for our mistakes by making more mistakes in the future, all in hopes of clinging to playoff relevance that never panned out into championships.

You know, it’s entirely possible that the fans would’ve rioted if we’d traded Russell Wilson back in 2015 or 2016. But, I would argue, what we’ve had to endure since has been remarkably worse. Forever Mediocre, as I’ve taken to coining it.

Pete Carroll has two legacies when it comes to his time in Seattle. The first one is obviously terrific: he blessed us with our first NFL championship, he built up an exciting roster of young, ferocious players who were the most fun team to watch in the entire league for a good half-decade or more. Ultimately, that will overshadow everything else, and become The One True Legacy.

But, his other legacy is always going to linger, a Barry Bonds’ head-sized asterisk (minus the rampant doping). Because Pete Carroll shoulders the blame for having amassed such a splendid collection of players and ONLY winning one Super Bowl. He gets the blame for costing us XLIX (along with the OC for calling a dumb play, along with Russell Wilson for his decision-making in that instant, along with our receivers for not properly executing the play). He also gets the blame for the various personnel moves that backfired throughout the years (along with John Schneider, but obviously Carroll had total authority and final say). And, he gets the blame for the back-half of the decade he was here, when he lost control of the team, when his defense failed us, and when his franchise quarterback demanded more control of the offense.

What should’ve been a dynasty, was instead one dominant Super Bowl victory, one of the most regrettable moments in Super Bowl history, and a whole lotta “What Could’ve Been”.

There are any number of inflection points you can point to. Trading for Percy Harvin and giving him a dumptruck full of cash (over keeping your homegrown Golden Tate); the whole debacle that was the Jimmy Graham deal (both losing our Pro Bowl center, as well as changing an offense entirely to force-feeding a soft, slow tight end); giving in to the Let Russ Cook crowd as opposed to cutting ties a year earlier and trading him to the Bears like we should’ve. But, really, it was the 2017 draft, and all the decisions made before (that prevented us from moving up to grab Mahomes) and since (in the fallout of Malik McDowell), that ultimately proved to be this franchise’s downfall.

We’re still, 7 years later, trying to recover, with seemingly no end in sight.

The Seahawks Probably Had A Pretty Good 2023 NFL Draft

Look, I’m not going to sit here and pretend I know a lot about these college guys we selected over the weekend. Or how well they’ll develop or fit into our particular scheme. It’s the great unknown! We’ll just have to wait and see.

  • 1st Round (5th overall) – Devon Witherspoon (CB)
  • 1st Round (20th overall) – Jaxon Smith-Njigba (WR)
  • 2nd Round (37th overall) – Derick Hall (OLB)
  • 2nd Round (52nd overall) – Zach Charbonnet (RB)
  • 4th Round (108th overall) – Anthony Bradford (G)
  • 4th Round (123rd overall) – Cameron Young (DT)
  • 5th Round (151st overall) – Mike Morris (DE)
  • 5th Round (154th overall) – Olu Oluwatimi (C)
  • 6th Round (198th overall) – Jerrick Reed (S/CB)
  • 7th Round (237th overall) – Kenny McIntosh (RB)

My overarching opinion of the first round picks is that we got some good (maybe great) players, but neither one are guys who are in the stratosphere of a Sauce Gardner or a Ja’Marr Chase (players who, from day one, were destined for the Hall of Fame). They were considered “best players available” while also being at positions of need, but not the BIGGEST position of need.

That would be the defensive line. Naturally. As always. Where we left off from there is that we’d wait and see what the rest of the draft gave us before rendering judgment. But, that comes with diminishing returns. The further you get away from the first half of the first round, the less likely it is you’ll find truly impactful players. Of course, there’s always the possibility that you hit on someone on the second or third days. But, for every Tyler Lockett or Tariq Woolen, there are hundreds of Demarcus Christmases.

To try and replenish that BIGGEST position of need, we used our top second round pick on Derick Hall out of Auburn. You love the school, you love the conference, but his body frame harkens to a guy we just took last year – Boye Mafe – and countless guys with that frame before him, who we’ve tried to turn into effective pass rushers. Best case scenario, Hall is another Bruce Irvin type who might get you 8-10 sacks, and be somewhat competent against the run. But, this is the type of guy we get every year. As a rookie, I wouldn’t bet on any more than 3-4 sacks, and even that might be too high. The hope is, he’s part of the rotation, but you don’t need to rely on him being the starter (those jobs should still belong to Nwosu and Darrell Taylor). Let him get his feet wet, gain some experience, pop a few times, and hope he develops into a starter in year 2 or 3.

Unfortunately, we used our other second round pick on another running back. By all accounts, Charbonnet is a fine back. People have him rated as high as the second or third best in this class. I don’t know if that says more about him or the quality of this class. I’m not going to get super bent out of shape about this, but if it were up to me – after already taking a running back in the second round the previous year (and having him turn into Kenneth Walker, superstar), I would’ve waited in this draft. From what I was reading, there were quality running backs throughout the draft. See: the guy we took in the seventh round. While I get that we needed to replenish the running back room (after losing Rashaad Penny and Travis Homer in free agency), we didn’t need to use our second round pick on him.

That being said, Kenneth Walker did get banged up as a rookie. Running backs, in general, are pretty injury prone, with all the hits they take. The Seahawks, in particular, not only utilize the running back position more than most, but also seem to suffer an inordinate amount of injuries (see: Rashaad Penny and Chris Carson in recent years). So, if Charbonnet turns into a high-quality player in this league, it would stand to reason he’ll find himself in the starting lineup sooner rather than later.

That was it for Friday, as the Seahawks ended up trading back with their third round pick (with the Denver Broncos of all teams). We got another fourth rounder in return, but also a 2024 third round pick (meaning: we get to root against the Broncos for another year!). It sounds like we got tremendous value in this deal, so I’m not complaining.

We started beefing up our trenches in the fourth round, taking a guard and a defensive tackle. The guard is interesting, and could very well find himself starting for us as early as 2024 (if not sooner, if we suffer injuries, and he finds himself next up on the depth chart). The DT seems like he’s Just A Guy. Don’t expect any sort of pass rush whatsoever, and just hope he’s competent as a rotational run stuffer/guy who can take on blocks while freeing up our linebackers behind him to make plays.

Then, we continued picking for the trenches by taking a couple of Michigan players in the fifth round. The defensive end also seems like he’s Just A Guy, albeit with a fairly interesting body type for the position (6’5, 295 pounds), who could play along the outside or the interior. Does that make him L.J. Collier? Probably, but at least we didn’t waste a high draft pick on him. The center, however, also seems interesting as a potential starter as early as 2024 (if not sooner, again, due to injury and his standing on the depth chart).

I’m not buying the safety we took in the sixth round will remain at safety. For starters, he’ll need to excel at special teams if he wants to make the roster at all. Secondly, he seems a tad undersized, and they’re already talking about him being a nickel or dime corner. Odds are he doesn’t play much at all on defense this year. Odds are also that he doesn’t ascend in year two to be a starter replacing Jamal Adams. For that, we’ll probably look to next year’s draft (and a lot higher than the sixth round).

I’ll believe it when I see it that the seventh round running back also makes the roster. It sounds like he’s a good pass catcher, and also plays special teams, so crazier things have happened. But, that means you’re going into a season with three running backs having 1 or 0 years of experience, and only DeeJay Dallas (so far) as any sort of veteran (heading into his 4th season). My guess is we never see Kenny McIntosh hit the football field, and he suffers a very serious injury before the regular season. Can’t you picture the name “Kenny McIntosh” as someone we never hear from again? Remember Zac Brooks, who we took in the seventh round in 2016? Doesn’t Kenny McIntosh remind you of Zac Brooks?

While last year’s draft felt vital, and rife with quality players throughout, this year’s draft feels like depth replenishment. We boosted some positions into the elite realm (corner, wide receiver, and probably running back), while helping fill out other spots (offensive line and special teams). But, I’m not getting the sense there are any late-round gems in this draft class. Tariq Woolen has been an interesting player since the moment his name was selected. From that point on, he was a tantalizing prospect who – if he put it all together – could be a monster. And, it turns out, he put it all together extremely quickly!

But, who is getting those kinds of comparisons in this draft class? Unless one of those defensive linemen shows flashes in rookie minicamp, I don’t think there’s going to be a third-day stud in the bunch. Hopefully, in time, one (or both) of the interior offensive linemen pan out into capable starters; that might help us save a shekel or two. But, if we’re going to be wowed by this influx of players, it’s going to come from the very top.

We’ll see, though. I’m not going to say it’s going to take 3-5 years for us to figure out if this weekend was a bust. We should know in year 1 whether or not guys project to be impactful in the NFL. So, I can’t wait to hear about how they develop over the next few months!

Nobody Wants To Hear About My Fantasy Team 2022: Here We Go Again

Check out my prior Fantasy Football posts to get a better handle on the type of leagues I’m in. Long story short: I’m in three leagues. One of them means very little to me, but I joined because they needed someone to fill things out. One of them is my sanctuary – my Splinter League – that I created to give me some semblance of hope and control over the way a league should be run. And one of them I care about very deeply, but has been a total and complete disaster for me since 2010 (my last title was 2009, the last year of our pre-trophy era, and it’s stuck in my craw ever since). So, by and large, I’ll be talking about that league in this space on a weekly basis. Of course, the last thing anyone wants to hear is someone complaining about their fantasy football teams (hence the running title of these posts). But, this is my blog, and you’re stuck with me!

I also use it as a means to discuss players I have, players I’m interested in picking up, and players I’m going up against. I’m no fantasy football expert – far from it, in fact – but even the experts can be full of shit on a regular basis, so how is this different than any other fantasy football blog post you might read? At least I’m honest about my incompetence!

My league has morphed quite a bit over the years. It started out as a simple 2-QB 10-team PPR league with points skewed heavily towards the quarterbacks (they’re the most important players in the actual NFL, so they should also be the most important players in fantasy). Then, we started increasing the buy-in, adding keepers, tweaking the point-scoring, to the point where we’re like an everyday, run-of-the-mill 2-QB 10-team PPR dynasty league. We’d talked about going Dynasty for years, and now we’re there. This is the first off-season where we’re keeping a full accompaniment of rosters.

2 QBs, 2 RBs, 2 WRs, 1 TE, 1 FLEX, 1 K, 1 DEF. We all have to keep a full roster of those positions, so when we finally draft on Wednesday, September 7th, we’ll just be drafting for our 5 bench spots (we also have an IR spot, but that doesn’t factor into our draft). Barring some last-minute injury issues, here’s what my team is going to look like heading into the draft:

  • Mac Jones (QB)
  • Justin Fields (QB)
  • Ezekiel Elliott (RB)
  • Javonte Williams (RB)
  • D.K. Metcalf (WR)
  • CeeDee Lamb (WR)
  • T.J. Hockenson (TE)
  • Diontae Johnson (WR)
  • Evan McPherson (K)
  • L.A. Rams (DEF)

Keepers are based on who’s on your roster at the end of the season (wherever you end up in the playoffs, be it consolation bracket or otherwise). The only other QBs I had at the time were Jordan Love and Sean Mannion (don’t ask). Love was only a hedge in case Aaron Rodgers retired or moved to another team, but he’s not really a viable option for me in this instance. I need QBs who are actually going to play. That being said, I’m less than thrilled by my choices. I think Mac Jones is okay (I’m encouraged by how he’s looked in training camp), but Fields looks like a bust. He’s not accurate, he doesn’t make any big plays with his arm, and I don’t think he’s looking to run enough to be of any sort of value with the run game (a la Jalen Hurts or Josh Allen).

I feel both blessed and cursed with my receivers. Of the three, only Lamb figures to be a superstar fantasy producer. The other two are highly talented, but D.K. has the obvious situation of the Seahawks’ quarterback quagmire. And Diontae has a couple of promising throwers, but also a lot of talent around him fighting for targets. Receiver is also the deepest of all the skill spots in the NFL, so blowing my flex on one feels like kind of a waste, when there should be excellent value still remaining in the draft.

I had to do that, of course, because I want to give myself the best chance to win. And, in all honesty, my running back situation – like most – is a disaster. Zeke has been a stalwart for me (when healthy), but he’s obviously over the hill, and being pushed by Pollard hard. And while Williams looks as talented as they get, he’s also in a time-share that figures to sap his value.

But, my alternatives (or flex options) are no better. Clyde Edwards-Helaire was a waste of a #2 overall draft pick when he came out as a rookie. That’s a bust you just can’t afford when you’re in a constant state of middling – like I was at the time – nor in a constant state of rebuild (which I’ve been in ever since). Alexander Mattison is the league’s best handcuff, but you can’t really make him a keeper when he’s so clearly behind Dalvin Cook. And I like James Robinson a lot, but the Jags like Travis Etienne even more (who, I unfortunately, do not have).

Tight end is arguably my biggest strength, having Hockenson and Mike Gesicki to choose from. Both figure to be Top 10 guys at their position, but Hockenson has the clear upside over the two. He just needs to stay healthy. It’s fair to doubt his ability to stay on the field, but when you’ve been struggling as I have for over a decade, you choose upside over consistency (especially knowing how much help I’m going to be lacking from my QB spots).

I ended up trading Justin Tucker last year at the deadline, for the ability to swap draft picks. I moved up from the last round (aka the 5th round) to the 2nd round, which is pretty good for a rebuilding guy like me. I’ll take a second 2nd round pick for a kicker anytime! As a bonus, McPherson was available, and he finished within 10 points of Tucker (while hitting more 50-yarders). He’s also considerably younger than Tucker, so if this dynasty holds, I’ll have McPherson for a long chunk of time.

Finally, the Rams aren’t the best fantasy defense, but they’re pretty solid. They’ve got strong players up front and in the secondary; with the addition of Bobby Wagner, I think they’ll continue to be a reliable source of points. If not, then who cares? It’s a fantasy defense, they’re a dime a dozen. Heading into last year, who expected the Cowboys to be the best?

***

We won’t know until a week prior to the draft who is going to be available, as that’s when our keepers are due. That being said, we do know who the rookies are. So, while I haven’t done extensive research on the matter, I’ve dipped my toe.

Kenneth Walker was a guy I was strongly considering. The Seahawks, obviously, favor the run over most teams. And Rashaad Penny can’t be counted upon for long health, so you figure Walker will start out as a backup, but still get some playing time, and maybe sooner rather than later make the leap into full-time starter. If he’s elite, then Walker is going to win the starter’s job at some point. And if he does, he’s going to be a 20-carry-a-game kind of guy, a la Chris Carson. That being said, Walker’s already dealing with a groin injury that’s cost him the final two preseason games. And there’s no guarantee he’ll be ready for Week 1. That’s a bad sign for a rookie, who needs as many reps as possible to acclimate to a new system and a new league.

Breece Hall is, obviously, another option. He went to the Jets – who drafted a talented rookie back last year as well in Michael Carter – but Hall looks to be the real deal, and should assert himself in good time. But, how’s their O-Line? Well, luckily, they snagged Duane Brown, so unless their interior is shit, I could see that actually being okay. Consider me intrigued!

There’s also an interesting little nugget about another rookie running back who I’m keeping to myself. I don’t want to jinx anything, but if I can snag him, it could be a boon to my overall chances.

As for quarterbacks, I really need the help. I’ll take a gander at whoever ends up eligible for drafting among the vets – mostly out of necessity – because there isn’t a huge swath of options from the rookie class. Kenny Pickett is the only viable option, in my mind. Will he be available at #3 when I select? I’m guessing he will be. The bigger question is: when will he take over as starter? Will they give it to him out of the preseason? Or, will he have to sit a few weeks behind Trubisky? I hypothetically have time, because Jones and Fields have BYE weeks in 10 and 14 respectively. So, if they stay healthy, I can afford to sit Pickett on my bench. But, I can’t tell you how many years in a row I’ve gone all in on rookie quarterbacks, only to get the rug pulled out from under me. That being said, what are the odds that NO rookie quarterback this year steps up as a viable star?

I’m willing to let the board fall to me in a lot of ways. The only thing is, I don’t want to reach for a receiver. There are a shit-ton of receivers entering the NFL this year, and your guess is as good as mine who will be the next Ja’Marr Chase or Justin Jefferson. I heard there’s a new Steelers receiver who looks awesome, but how much do I want to go all-in on the Steelers offense, especially when I already have Diontae?

We’ll see. I have a couple weeks and a whole-ass vacation to ponder my options. I’ll also have two drafts before I do this one. Maybe a little practice will make perfect. Or, maybe doing little-to-no research will be just the ticket. Maybe I’ve spent the last decade-plus over-thinking every fucking thing, and I just need to sit back and relax. Maybe following the Yahoo rankings – or even letting them draft for me – is what I need to break this curse that’s come over me. Who knows?

All I know is, as always, I’m dreading fantasy football for the mental drain that it is. All this stress and disappointment takes its toll. I’m a glutton for punishment, but at some point even a glutton gets full.

Bummer: Chris Carson Retired

It was announced yesterday that Chris Carson has retired. Really, it’s more of a medically-induced forced retirement, because I would say if it weren’t for a spinal injury, he’d have many more yards left to gain.

Carson packed a lot into his 5-year career. Even though he was a 7th round draft pick, you could tell right away that this was a different type of running back. He came to us in kind of a fallow period for Seahawks running backs. 2015 was Marshawn Lynch’s last year here, but by then Thomas Rawls appeared to be the heir apparent. That was short-lived, as 2016 was not only a step-back for him, but for the entire running game, with Christine Michael leading the way with less than 500 yards. 2017 was a running back nadir for this team; Russell Wilson led the team in rushing with 586 yards, and the next guy on the list was Mike Davis with 240.

However, even though Carson finished his rookie season with only 208 yards, he made quite an impression. It was unfortunate that his year ended with injury after 4 games, because if he’d stuck around, he surely would’ve propped up the entire running back room with his powerful running style.

Carson returned mostly healthy in 2018 and had back-to-back 1,000 yard seasons. However, he could never quite make it a full year unscathed. By 2020, injuries were starting to encroach more and more, culminating in another 4-game season in 2021, with his neck injury leading us to this point.

He finishes his career 8th in Seahawks history with 3,502 rushing yards. It’s right where you’d expect him to be, with the usual suspects in the top 7: Shaun Alexander, Chris Warren, Curt Warner, Marshawn Lynch, Russell Wilson, John L. Williams, and Ricky Watters all ahead of him. It’s impossible to project where he could’ve ended up had he stayed healthy, because that’s a relative term. Even if he didn’t have this spinal issue, you have to imagine there’d be usual bumps and bruises that would limit him at times.

But, I’ll say this: at his peak, there weren’t many guys I’d rather have on my team. Chris Carson was indeed one of the best running backs in the NFL. Good vision, great size, fierce tenacity to get those extra yards. He was the true heir apparent to Marshawn Lynch, and it’s just a damn shame he couldn’t extend his career out a few more years.

The only frustrating thing about his career was the fact that you never had any idea when it would happen, but make no mistake, you always knew an injury was lurking around every corner. In the early going, I’d cheer like crazy whenever he ran over a guy for a few extra yards. But, by the end, I was wincing every time he took any sort of hit.

In the end, Carson joins a long line of Seahawks legends who’ve had their careers cut drastically short in recent years due to injury. But, ultimately, you can’t risk it. You can’t risk being paralyzed just for the game of football. The note that came out says the Seahawks “took care of him” by … whatever they did when they released him. He’s supposedly getting a few extra million dollars on the way out, which is only right.

The real tragedy of it all is the fact that we could never really build a winner around him. Carson got saddled in a stupid period of Seahawks football, post-LOB, but still with Russell Wilson at the helm. In his five years, we made the playoffs three times, and went 1-3 in those games. And he didn’t even get to be part of the lone victory, thanks to being on IR by that point in the season.

Oh, what might’ve been. Still, I’ll always look back fondly on a punishing runner with sky-high potential.

Defending The Seahawks On This Kenneth Walker Pick

There’s a weird consensus around what the Seattle Seahawks did in this 2022 NFL Draft. People seem to be heartened by the fact that the Seahawks filled some very important holes, and they did so by not reaching. You didn’t hear a lot of chatter about how the Seahawks took guys most experts projected a round or two later. If anything, you heard chatter about how well the Seahawks picked certain guys who might’ve fallen to them unexpectedly. There was, of course, only one trade-back, and it happened well into the third day. Not a lot of fucking around by the Seahawks; as a fan, I appreciated it.

But, the downside to what the Seahawks did – again this is the opinion of the Consensus At Large I’m talking about here – is that they totally and completely neglected the quarterback position, while at the same time taking a running back with the 41st pick.

I’m on record, first of all, that you can’t call this the worst quarterback draft class in recent history – maybe the worst class of the last 2-3 decades – and then give the Seahawks a reduced draft grade for not taking one. Are you listening to yourself? Just because the Seahawks are rolling with Geno Smith and Drew Lock at the moment – and believe me, I’m no fan of either – doesn’t mean they should have doubled down by drafting a guy who’s not going to be any better than them. What’s the point of bringing in a third mediocre QB to throw into the mix? What is Malik Willis going to do to help us win a championship?

That’s one argument I refuse to have. If any of these rookie QBs eventually pan out, then we can have that conversation. But, don’t pretend like you’re out here touting these guys who the NFL passed over multiple times in this very draft!

The other issue is the simple fact the Seahawks took a running back in the second round. I can see this argument, at least, so let’s talk about it.

The Seahawks very much had a need at running back. Chris Carson, Rashaad Penny, and Travis Homer are all on the final season of their respective deals, while DeeJay Dallas has two years remaining. Carson is currently injured – with a significant, probably career-ending neck issue – and there’s no sign he’ll be ready to play this year or ever again. So, I would discount him immediately; even if he’s cleared by doctors, it wouldn’t shock me to see the team cut him. Rashaad Penny – until late last year – has been constantly injured throughout his career. That’s the whole reason why he only signed a 1-year extension with us! He’s good, maybe even elite, but I’ll believe it when I see it that he can stay on the field for a full season, let alone multiple seasons. And Travis Homer is strictly a backup in this league; he’s just a guy and not even all that good of one, from a football-talent perspective. For what it’s worth, ditto DeeJay Dallas.

The prevailing theory on running backs in the NFL is that quality backs can be found anywhere, all the way down into the 7th round and even among the undrafted rookies. Just get a guy, plug him into your lineup, and you should be fine. These are also, usually, the same people who want to throw the ball 95% of the time, so I don’t know if I’m totally buying what they’re selling. Travis Homer (a 6th rounder) and DeeJay Dallas (a 4th rounder) would seem to argue against the notion you can get a good back anywhere. But, by that same token, Chris Carson (7th rounder) and how great he’s been when healthy is all the ammo they need. Not to mention Rashaad Penny (1st rounder) is the poster child for why you DON’T draft a running back high.

I guess my question, then, is when is it NOT too early to draft a running back? What’s the line of demarcation?

Let’s just, for the sake of argument, look at the NFL’s rushing leaders from last year, and see where those guys were selected:

  1. Jonathan Taylor (2nd round, 41st overall)
  2. Nick Chubb (2nd round, 35th overall)
  3. Joe Mixon (2nd round, 48th overall)
  4. Najee Harris (1st round, 24th overall)
  5. Dalvin Cook (2nd round, 41st overall)
  6. Antonio Gibson (3rd round, 66th overall)
  7. Ezekiel Elliott (1st round, 4th overall)
  8. Elijah Mitchell (6th round, 194th overall)
  9. Derrick Henry (2nd round, 45th overall)
  10. Damien Harris (3rd round, 87th overall)
  11. Melvin Gordon (1st round, 15th overall)
  12. Austin Ekeler (undrafted)
  13. Javonte Williams (2nd round, 35th overall)
  14. Alvin Kamara (3rd round, 67th overall)
  15. Josh Jacobs (1st round, 24th overall)

I could keep going and going. So, for you anti-running back crowd, where’s the cutoff? I know there’s a contingent who thinks even the third round is too early! Yet, of the top 15 running backs last year, 13 of them were taken in the third round or higher. 10 of them were in the first or second rounds. In fact, the sweet spot seems to be right around pick 41, where both Taylor and Cook were selected, to say nothing of Derrick Henry – running back god – who was taken four picks later.

So, if there were no good quarterbacks to be had, and the Seahawks had a pretty urgent need for a quality running back (both to replenish their own supply, as well as to help compensate for shaky quarterbacking we’ve got on our roster currently), why would you shit-talk this team for doing the prudent thing and taking the best running back available? When MOST of the best running backs are taken somewhere in this range, and there was a pretty obvious drop-off in talent in this draft after Breece Hall was nabbed at 36 by the Jets.

For that matter, why aren’t the Jets getting as much shit for taking a running back five spots earlier?!

The next running back off the board went to the Bills at 63; his name is James Cook, and at least one article I read noted him as being among the most overrated coming out of this class.

You jump in there, take the reins of the Seahawks’ draft, and you tell me who you would’ve taken instead. We’d just grabbed Boye Mafe at 40; our third rounder was Abe Lucas at 72. Between those guys and Charles Cross at 9, we addressed our offensive line and got a pass rushing lotto ticket.

I don’t see a lot of point in taking one of the second or third-tier wide receivers, when we already have Lockett and are looking to extend Metcalf. David Ojabo stands out as a name, that would’ve been an idea (especially since it looks like we’re quasi-throwing out the 2022 season anyway). Maybe the center, Cam Jurgens, who went to Philly. Maybe a talented inside linebacker. I dunno, it’s easy to speculate now, but let’s revisit this in a year or two and see who among the players between 41 and 72 turned out to be better than Kenneth Walker.

I mean, this could all blow up in my face and Walker could be a collosal bust in the vein of Christine Michael. But, as I also said previously, just because you get bitten in the ass before by taking crappy running backs too high, that doesn’t mean you just give up on the entire concept. If Walker turns out to be a stud – like Taylor, like Cook – who doesn’t want that on their team? Who looks at Jonathan Taylor and thinks, “Nah, I’d rather have some pass rushing project who will probably cap out at 6 sacks per season.” That’s insane!

Like it or hate it, the Seahawks love to run the football. Who’s going to get a better opportunity to shine – not just as a rookie, but over the next four years – than Kenneth Walker? Rashaad Penny would not only have to prove the last 5-6 weeks weren’t a fluke, but he’ll also have to stay healthy for 17 games in order to keep Walker at bay. And, even then, it might not be enough, if indeed Walker is as good as we think he might be.

You gotta really look at a team, its needs, and its scheme, before you can start throwing out these opinions about how idiotic it is to take a running back at 41. I guarantee you the Colts and Vikings aren’t regretting it. And, I don’t care who’s under center, Walker is only going to be an even bigger help as we throw against 8-man boxes. Let Lockett get underneath some deep balls. Let Metcalf go up and catch passes in traffic. They’re going to be just fine. The play-action game is going to be off the charts.

And when we finally do get our quarterback of the future in the 2023 class? He’ll be stepping into a fantastic situation. Walker should have everything to say about just how great it’ll be.

The Seahawks Drafted Some Non-Quarterbacks On Day Two

It’s really only noteworthy given the fact that by the time the Seahawks picked in the third round, all quarterbacks aside from Kenny Pickett were still available. So, the Seahawks passed over a bunch of mediocre dudes repeatedly through this draft, allowing me to breathe a HUGE sigh of relief.

Is it weird to feel such good vibes about this draft? I’m not saying it’s universally beloved or anything. Some people really wanted us to get Malik Willis. A lot of people REALLY hate the idea of using any draft capital above the fourth round on a running back. I’m sure if you really drill down, you’ll find people complaining about so-and-so being available at a particular spot that we passed over.

But, I gotta tell ya, based solely on who the Seahawks have added the last two days? You’d think we’re absolutely KILLING it!

Which I can’t help but take as a bad sign. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s because we’re not allowed to have nice things.

The more tidbits that roll in, the more I’m coming around on Cross. Some have even said he was the second LT on the board for the Seahawks, which might just be something the team wants leaked out there to boost their guy, but regardless it’s positive vibes out into the universe that I like at this point (having no idea how they look in minicamps and whatnot). But, as I noted yesterday, there’s nothing wrong with his athleticism; he has everything he needs to be a viable starter in this league. The team just needs to help him unlock it.

That goes for the guys we drafted last night as well. Athleticism seems to be a key theme, which I absolutely adore. We’re not just bringing in High Floor guys who we can plug in as depth; these are players with lots of room for growth, and lots of potential to be starters and even stars.

Now, the risk – as always – is that they just don’t have it. You can have all the athleticism in the world, but if you don’t have the skills or the want-to, then it won’t happen. Or, arguably worse: it happens, but not during the tenure of your rookie deal. The point of this whole thing – stripping down to the studs (so to speak) of the quarterback position, building up the roster elsewhere, and then nailing our QB of the future in next year’s draft – is to get guys who can help immediately. Guys who can legitimately get their feet wet as rookies, only to step into major starting roles in year two and beyond. This doesn’t work if it takes four years to coach these guys up.

If I’m worried about that for anyone among yesterday’s picks, it’s Boye Mafe, our edge player out of Minnesota. A LOT of Cliff Avril comps, which yeah, that’d be great! But, odds are … probably not. The broadcast seemed to believe he was a one-note type of rusher (I’m not even sure what that note was, I guess speed-rush around the edge?), hence why he fell to the second round. But, there have been lots of love on Twitter since he was drafted, which leads me to believe we might’ve gotten someone special to pair opposite of Darrell Taylor. The more the merrier, when it comes to quality pass rushers. I just hope we use him properly, and don’t spend most of our time dropping him into coverage (it didn’t sound like he had a lot of experience with that, nor was he very good at it).

The upside is a starting defensive end getting 10 sacks a year. The downside is probably a poor man’s Benson Mayowa.

If there was a Most Seahawky Pick heading into this draft, it was Kenneth Walker III, the running back out of Michigan State. Highly productive in college, speedy but also tough, breaks lots of tackles and gets lots of yards after initial contact, and obviously he’s also a running back. Not only a position of need (when you have to believe Chris Carson’s career is over, with that significant neck injury), but a position the Seahawks love to covet and value over most of the rest of the league.

There’s no doubt about it, though: the Seahawks do NOT have a great track record in drafting running backs. Easily our biggest “hit” was Chris Carson in the 7th round, but he’s spent every year in various states of injured. Our other good choices were guys who ended up being blocked and having better careers elsewhere (Alex Collins and Spencer Ware). Otherwise, we’ve only managed to find competent backups (Robert Turbin, Travis Homer, DeeJay Dallas), or out-and-out busts (Rashaad Penny until the last five-or-so weeks of last year, C.J. Prosise, Zac Brooks, Christine Michael).

How are the Seahawks at drafting running backs?

But, that doesn’t mean you stop trying. And, while I’m pretty adamantly against picking a running back anywhere in the first round – the Penny debacle saw to that – I think it’s okay when you have a need at the position, and you have multiple second round picks to play around with.

Great running backs are taken in the second round all the damn time! That’s generally where we’ve found our very best NFL running backs in recent years. Also, not for nothing, but I like seeing the Seahawks take the second running back off the board, as opposed to the first. There’s a lot of pressure on that first guy! Admittedly, I’ve been on the Breece Hall bandwagon ever since I read an article saying he was projected to be a great fantasy back. But, I have no qualms about the Seahawks taking Walker whatsoever. I feel like the only thing that could slow him down is injuries, but we couldn’t possibly have that bug hit us yet again, could we?!

I will say that I heard his pass protection isn’t great, nor are his hands catching footballs out of the backfield. The blocking thing can be taught; a lot of that is just effort and desire. But, the hands might be concerning, especially if the Seahawks do introduce more of the short passing game into the offense. We’ll see!

The upside is eventually taking the job from Rashaad Penny and being a 1,000 yard back for the next however many years. The downside is probably a rich man’s Christine Michael.

I know he’s listed as Abraham, but I prefer bringing him into my blog as Abe Lucas. Legit right tackle prospect (not a guy who played right tackle, but really projects to be a guard in the NFL, like so many we’ve brought in here before) out of Washington State, he looks like another athletic darling with immediate starting potential.

I’ll admit, I didn’t see the Seahawks going after two offensive tackles in this draft, especially not in the first three rounds. I gotta be honest, I was hoping to be the Smartest Guy In The Room here with my take that Jake Curhan would be our right tackle going forward. There’s still that chance, of course. Curhan has a year’s experience under his belt – including starts in real, live NFL games – but there’s a big difference between an undrafted prospect and a guy taken in the upper third round.

But, you know, the Seahawks will certainly play the best man for the job. If Curhan shows he’s got what it takes – and Lucas looks like a problematic rookie who might get beat – they’re not going to cater to a guy’s draft status. The thing I like is that we’re going young and we’re going home-grown at the position. Brandon Shell, and all the other retreads we brought in here during the majority of Russell Wilson’s tenure, were far from inspiring. When Breno Giacomini was easily the best RT we’ve had since the Mike Holmgren days, you know you’ve been floundering.

Also, not for nothing, but I was perfectly happy with what Curhan brought to the table last year. So, if that’s our floor, sign me up!

There is a tremendous amount of love for the Lucas pick though, which heartens me. Obviously, he comes from another Mike Leach-inspired offense full of non-stop passing, but there seems to be fewer questions about Lucas’ ability to run block. Again, when it comes to tackles – and really, the O-Line as a whole – I’ll gladly take guys with pass protection chops (who need to work on their run blocking skills) vs. the other way around.

The upside is the best right tackle we’ve ever had. The downside is Stone Forsythe.

Even though it’s not sexy, there’s a lot to like about this Seahawks draft so far. I would argue our drafts have been on a bit of an upswing in recent years, but this has the potential to be the best of the bunch. Not surprisingly, that’s what can happen when you’re a quality organization who FINALLY gets an opportunity to draft near the top of every round!

Seahawks Death Week: How Close Are We To A Turnaround?

Yesterday, we talked about all the pending cuts and free agents who might walk. Now, let’s see what needs to be done to right the ship.

It would be the peak of unsatisfying insanity if the Seahawks chalked up 2021 to an injured Russell Wilson fluke and tried to run back the exact same roster (more or less; it’ll never be 100% retention), in hopes of returning to our 2020 level of success. As we saw – in 2020 – that level of success was still underwhelming, in spite of the division title. Knowing how much money the Seahawks have in salary cap room heading into 2022, it’s conceivable that we could keep all the guys under contract now, while using that money to bring back Quandre Diggs, Duane Brown, D.J. Reed, Sidney Jones, Rasheem Green, Al Woods, Gerald Everett, Rashaad Penny, Ethan Pocic, and Will Dissly. But, what’s that going to get us? The ceiling is 2020, the floor is 2021 (or worse, if Wilson leaves and we’re stuck with a replacement-level quarterback).

But that is, technically, one option. Run it back for a third year in a row, and see if we can luck our way in one-score games into another divisional title. That option has the possibility of a turnaround from 2021, though that seems unlikely to me. Both that it happens at all, and that it leads to improvement. Stagnancy begets stagnancy.

As you’ll recall, the Seahawks punted the 2021 NFL Draft, making only three selections, by far the fewest in the Pete Carroll/John Schnedier Era, and easily the fewest in franchise history. This had everything to do with trading away so many of those draft picks for veteran players. We’re in a similar boat in 2022 – most aggravatingly missing our 10th overall pick in the first round – but we do have six picks on the books so far. Our first pick is the 10th overall in the second round, which SHOULD net us a player who can contribute right away, but we’ll see (regardless, he probably won’t be a high impact player as a rookie, if ever).

The point is, in spite of our poor 2021 performance, I wouldn’t expect a ton of help to come from the 2022 draft. Figure it’ll be more depth pieces to throw onto the pile we already have.

I suppose trades are a possibility, but if we’re not talking about trading Russell Wilson, I don’t see where we have anything anyone else would want. So help me if we continue trading future first round picks, banking on being good again next season.

There simply has to be a hugely impactful free agent or two that comes in, if we want to turn this thing around.

Priority #1 – Left Tackle

I won’t take Duane Brown or Stone Forsythe for an answer. We squeezed all we could out of Brown this late into his career, but it would be damn near criminal to keep bringing him back on one-year contracts without a viable backup plan in place. But, we also can’t count on the 2021 rookie to step in there, when he looked pretty bad in the limited duty he got this past season (and was already a pretty low-rated draft pick). There has to be someone on the free agent market that we can bring in on a long-term deal. I don’t know who it is, but I know he’s out there. Find him.

Priority #2 – Draft A Middle Linebacker

Get the top guy available at Pick 42, bingo bango bongo. Ideally, he’s someone fast and smart that you can pair with Jordyn Brooks and let them both go off for the next however many years (similarly to how K.J. Wright and Bobby Wagner were once the two young studs in the middle). If the rookie needs some time, then by all means, go with Cody Barton for a few games until the rookie gets his feet wet. But, this needs to be the move 100%, with Bobby Wagner’s salary going elsewhere.

Priority #3 – Pass Rush

Either sign one guy at near top of the market prices, or sign two guys for mid-level money, but either way we need to stop dumpster diving this critical part of the team. Then, we can base our cuts around the guys we bring in (Benson Mayowa can probably go, hopefully we can find someone younger and better to also replace Carlos Dunlap, since he’s incapable of giving us a full season’s worth of production).

Priority #4 – Secondary

IF the Seahawks cut Wagner and bring in a rookie middle linebacker to take over, then I think I’m comfortable using that money to extend Quandre Diggs. There might also be some semblance of a discount at play given his leg injury, though I kind of doubt it. The more you read about Diggs, the more it seems like he’s truly indispensable to this team with his play and leadership. I would also throw money at both D.J. Reed and Sidney Jones; let’s run the entire secondary back! I liked Tre Brown as much as the next guy, but we don’t know how he’s going to recover from his injury. 2022 might be a lost year for him. It would be nice to have Reed on a long-term deal and Jones on a shorter-term deal to carry us over.

Priority #5 – Draft A Running Back

I would make this the third round pick (ideally) or one of the fourth rounders. There will still be quality running backs at that level. This will be our Chris Carson replacement. I’m going into this year assuming we’ll find a way to bring Rashaad Penny back (because his final five games of 2021 were too enticing to just let walk for nothing), but it would be idiotic to expect him to all of a sudden be an every-down, every-game running back. I want a rookie with a higher ceiling than either Homer or Dallas. He doesn’t necessarily have to be the best blocker in college, nor does he have to be a return man of some sort. He just needs to have incredible running back skills, vision, ability to hit the hole and make cuts, break tackles, all of it. Let him develop into a pass catcher or a blocker when he gets into the NFL. Ideally, Penny will continue to be amazing and we won’t need the rookie. But, if and when Penny gets injured, throw the rookie in there, because hopefully by that point he’s had a chance to learn and grow from the bench.

Priority #6 – Draft A Tight End

Make this one of the fourth rounders. I’m assuming the Seahawks make a play on bringing back Will Dissly for a few more years, and making Colby Parkinson more of an offensive priority. He was starting to see more action towards the end of the season, especially down around the red zone; I think his role will only continue to grow given his size. With Dissly back, we can afford to go grab another offensive weapon in the fourth round, to make this room entirely young and homegrown.

Priority #7 – Extend D.K. Metcalf

The Seahawks are at a crossroads here. If Wilson forces his way out, then I think the Seahawks would be dumb to not trade Metcalf when his value is at its highest (he still has one year left on his rookie deal; after that, he’ll be too costly to be valuable). But, if Wilson stays, then I think we have to extend Metcalf now, both to keep him happy and to keep his next contract relatively cost-contained. We don’t want to play the Franchise Tag game with him.

Priority #8 – Bring In A Rookie Kicker

I’m not saying draft one, but definitely bring in a college guy – maybe one of those studs from the Alabama/Georgia game – as an undrafted rookie to compete with Jason Myers. Myers is on the final year of his deal in 2022. I don’t know if cutting him is the answer; he was so good in 2020, I’m more inclined to think his struggles in 2021 were just random kicker variance. But, you also shouldn’t take any chances that I’m correct on this issue. Bring in someone to compete; we’ll get to see how Myers handles that kind of adversity. Either the rookie struggles and we keep Myers anyway (the likeliest scenario, unless we’re really up against it with the salary cap and need to save $4 million), or the rookie is good but Myers is better (and we find a way to keep the rookie on the practice squad until a time comes when we can no longer trust Myers), or the rookie out-performs Myers and it’s win-win when we cut Myers before the regular season starts.

Priority #9 – Center

I don’t know if this is done through the draft or free agency, or by converting one of the guards we’ve got on our roster now, but I think this needs to happen. Maybe, if it’s a rookie, we sign Pocic to a one-year deal and let the rookie learn. Or, maybe we go with a veteran and stop fucking around for once. But, I’d like some real beef at center, to help us keep our quarterback upright.

Priority #10 – Bring Back Al Woods

I’ll be honest, I loved everything the defensive tackle room did this year, but especially Al Woods being a huge presence in the middle. That dude deserves some stability; give him a 2-year deal and let’s fucking go!

Seahawks Death Week: Who Might Be Leaving In 2022?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Seahawks Death Week: Talking About The Elephants In The Room

Russell Wilson, Pete Carroll, and John Schneider are those elephants. Jody Allen & Co. have some decisions to make. As I see it, the options are as follows:

  • Keep Everybody
  • Keep Pete Carroll and John Schneider, Trade Russell Wilson
  • Keep Pete and Russ, Fire John
  • Keep John and Russ, Fire Pete
  • Keep Russell Wilson, Fire Pete Carroll and John Schneider
  • Keep John Schneider, Fire Pete Carroll, Trade Russell Wilson
  • Keep Pete Carroll, Fire John Schneider, Trade Russell Wilson
  • Trade/Fire Everybody

Does that look right? It’s absurd how long it took me to figure out that 3-way quagmire. Anyway, one of those eight scenarios is bound to happen.

The likeliest three – in some order – are “Keep Everybody”, “Keep Pete & John (trade Russ)”, or “Keep Russ (fire Pete & John)”. The virtual lock that absolutely won’t happen is that everybody is gone.

Considering the news over the last couple days – and the fact that no change has been made as of yet – I’d say Pete and John are here to stay. I suppose – since we don’t have a traditional ownership set-up – they could be taking their time and might wait a little bit before making a move, but that seems like a disasterous scenario to me (considering all the teams who did their shit-canning on Black Monday would have a head start on us by now). It makes sense though, from a financial perspective. Pete and John were just extended to big money deals through the 2025 season (Pete) and 2027 draft (John); that’s fully guaranteed money. I know, in the grand scheme of things, a billionaire owner wouldn’t flinch at throwing away that kind of money if they felt it was necessary to make a move, but I would also argue the recency of these signings indicates they’re all on the same page with how this team should be run.

As for Russell Wilson, that’s anyone’s guess.

Do you put more stock in the rosy feeling of the Seahawks dominating their final two regular season games (and winning 4 of 6 overall)? Or, do you put more stock in Russell Wilson’s media campaign following the 2020 season, and how he nudge-nudge, wink-wink, wouldn’t mind being traded to a certain four teams? Everyone’s careful to state it wasn’t a trade demand, but following a 7-10 season, maybe whatever it was turns into one now.

Predicting this feels like a coin flip. I’m leaning towards Russell Wilson wanting out. I think there’s a lot of evidence to back it up. I would say, for starters, professional athletes (and coaches, and front office people, and just about everyone else) are notorious liars. So, when Wilson talks about wanting to be in Seattle, I’d put a big ol’ Maury Povich meme up next to that.

Wilson obviously wants to be in an offense that caters to his need to be the best quarterback in football. He wants everything to run through him, he wants to pass the ball significantly more than he hands it off. He wants an MVP award. He wants to be the main reason (by leaps and bounds) why his team wins football games. And he wants to win multiple Super Bowls. Ultimately, he wants to be a Hall of Famer. Because, again, he wants to go down as the best to ever play the position (or, failing that, the best after Tom Brady).

Yet, whenever Russell Wilson has tried to bite off more than he can chew in Seattle, he’s almost always struggled. The last two years of this Let Russ Cook nonsense is a prime example. It’s not ALL his fault, because obviously there’s a tug o’ war going on with Pete Carroll, who does stick his nose in and limits his rampant passing whenever the offense struggles and/or turns the ball over too much. It’s also not his fault that this offensive line largely struggles in pass protection (specifically for someone like Wilson, who likes to move around a lot and will run himself into opposing linemen; it’s hard to know where Wilson will be at any given moment as a play breaks down). It’s also not his fault that we continue to waste time with inferior linemen in general, when there are better options available (why it took so long for Phil Haynes to get an opportunity is anybody’s guess; why Pocic sat for so long after he returned from his injury is, again, a mystery).

But, I think we’ve also seen enough from Wilson to know where he’s limited, and where he’s sabotaging things. He’s not good at the intermediate passing game. He’s not smart about checking down when the deep pass isn’t there. He too often tries to twirl out of trouble or run backwards, exacerbating sacks that don’t need to be so devastating. He’s, frankly, not a good third down quarterback. And he chooses not to run as often as he should, to keep defenses honest; even if he’s lost a step, he’s still capable of running when he wants to.

Then there are, of course, all the non-football reasons why Wilson might want to leave. Seattle is a middling media market. Ciara is an international music star. Russ wants to be a Business, man. I think they would prefer he play for a team in New York, L.A., Miami, Chicago, Dallas, D.C., or Vegas. For football reasons, throw New Orleans, Atlanta, Indy, Denver, Cleveland, or Minnesota into the mix. There’s lots of options, any number of them would be more attractive for someone looking for a change of scenery than Seattle.

If we assume Pete and John are here to stay for the foreseeable future, then Russ has to decide if this is the place he wants to be. And, if he chooses to stay, then he needs to buy in 100% to the way this offense needs to be operated. We need to rely on our running game to bring the defense closer to the line of scrimmage; it’s the best way for Wilson to take advantage of what he does best: exploiting the defense over the top for explosive chunk gains.

Meanwhile, John needs to shore up talent along the offensive line, and have a better plan when it comes to bringing in quality running backs. And Pete and his coaching staff need to determine who the best players are earlier in the season, so we don’t keep blowing games early.

But, as I said before, gun to my head, I think Russ forces a trade. Now, is that something I want?

It’s hard. I know I’ve talked about how I’ve soured on Wilson after last year’s media blitz, but I’ve seen how this team can perform at its best. When everyone is on the same page, and everything is clicking, the Seahawks’ offense can do some real damage. And I do NOT believe Wilson has fallen off a cliff. Sure, he’s on the downside of his career, but he’s still close enough to his peak to easily be a Top 10 quarterback in this league, with a shot at being a Top 5 guy if everything goes according to plan. I still believe he’s destined to be a Hall of Famer; even the best all-time QBs have had down years during their careers.

Beating the Lions and Cardinals the way they did to close out the season shows me this team’s potential. That’s the closest I’ve seen to our late-2012 run since it happened. Sure, we’ve ended seasons on fire before, but not imposing our will the way we did in those two games. Again, the last 50-point game we put up was in 2012; that’s extremely difficult to do in the NFL!

But, do I want to be sucked in by our most recent two performances, one of which happened against one of the two worst teams in football (ignoring all the games that came before it, both this season and some of the more infuriating games we’ve bungled over the last half-decade)? Do I ultimately believe that this is a team – with Russell Wilson at the helm – that won’t just contend for playoff spots, but win a motherfucking championship?

Not really.

I think we, as Seahawks fans, have to face up to some hard truths. One of which is: Russell Wilson absolutely needs a quality running game and defense to win championships. Simply having “Russell Wilson: Top 5 Quarterback” isn’t sufficient. He’s good enough to make up for a lot of illnesses across this roster, but he’s only one man. Without proper support in those two key areas, all is lost.

I don’t believe those Seahawks teams from 2012-2015 would’ve been nearly as dominant without Russell Wilson; I certainly don’t think they would’ve made the Super Bowl in back-to-back years with someone like Andy Dalton (or some other replacement-level quarterback). That being said, it’s clear why those teams were so successful: the defense and Marshawn Lynch.

The defense, more or less since 2015, has declined severely as the key guys from that Legion of Boom era have all retired, gotten older/slower, or moved on to other teams. We’ve been massively unsuccessful in replacing those guys through the draft, trades, or free agency. And, as our coaching staff kept getting poached of its best and brightest, we’re left with mediocre leadership who continue to fail to get the most out of their players.

Meanwhile, we’ve tried countless times to find the successor to Marshawn Lynch. Most have been mediocre. Chris Carson was a worthy follow up, but he’s been too injured too often to come close to living up. Beastmode has so many elite and wonderful qualities – from his rough-house style of play, to his infectious personality – but one of the more underrated aspects to his greatness was his availability. He showed up, game-in and game-out.

Just go back and look at those seasons, particularly our Super Bowl runs of 2013 and 2014. Look at how many games where our offense struggled for long stretches and needed the defense to keep us in them, until Wilson led the offense to a late-game victory. Or, those games where the offense got us a lead, and the defense had to hold on to secure it. Now, start thinking about all of those games we haven’t won since 2016. Think about how the defense has struggled. Think about how we’ve needed the offense to be the one to carry this team, and how often they’ve failed in key moments.

The thing is, it’s not one or the other. You need the running game and the defense, but you DO need the quarterback as well. However, there’s only so much money to go around. And there’s only so much a GM can do when you’re drafting so low in the first round most years (that is, when you’re not trading away those picks to try to find elite talent in other ways, since there’s rarely elite talent falling into the 20’s of the NFL draft). Can the Seahawks build that defense when they’re paying Russell Wilson so much money? It’s possible, but it’s very difficult. Can a defense that’s not-quite-elite still win us a title with Wilson at quarterback? It’s possible, but it requires buy-in from the quarterback himself. And, even then, it’s going to need a running game like we saw from Rashaad Penny the last month of the season.

My main line of thinking is that I don’t believe Russell Wilson will ever get with the program. Even if he makes the commitment to stay and buys in to a more balanced philosophy that features more rushing than he’d like, he is who he is. He’s still going to struggle in the intermediate game, finding check-downs, converting third downs, and knowing when he himself needs to run with the football. I also don’t believe we’re ever going to find someone as durable as Marshawn Lynch, and so our running game will continue to be a revolving door from week to week. Finally, I don’t believe this defense – with Ken Norton & Co. in charge – is capable of being consistent enough to sustain even a Top 15 level of production.

At this point, I think it’s probably best for all involved for Wilson to demand a trade. The Seahawks need an infusion of draft picks. They need to bring in a new, young QB while we still have the culture in place to surround him with quality players in order to turn him into a winner. And, they need to use any and all resources – with that quarterback on his rookie deal – to bolster the defense like they did heading into 2013, so that we can take advantage in that brief window where the quarterback isn’t earning an untenable percentage of the overall salary cap.

If it doesn’t happen, and Wilson opts to stick around, I won’t be up in arms or anything. But, I’ll go into every season from here on out knowing there’s a ceiling to the Seahawks’ success, that being the Divisional Round of the playoffs and no further. Until they prove me wrong, that’s what we have to look forward to. And, instead of getting a jumpstart on a rebuild – while there’s enough of a core in place to possibly right the ship in a hurry – we’ll just kick this can down the road another few years, until Pete Carroll has to retire in disgrace, John Schneider returns to Green Bay, and Russell Wilson is wearing another jersey anyway.

Seahawks Death Week: Non-Russell Wilson Reasons The Seahawks Declined In 2021

The Seahawks had five fewer wins in 2021 than in 2020. Last year, we were 12-4 divisional champs; this year, we’re 7-10 divisional basement dwellers. Yesterday – and really, all season – we discussed the Russell Wilson of it all, how his injury and subsequent struggles probably cost us a minimum of three games this season. Flip from 7-10 to 10-7 and this is a wild card team. That doesn’t do much for me, of course, because a 10-7 Seahawks team would probably still lose in the first round (it would certainly lose in round two, otherwise, especially if we had to play in Green Bay), but you’re painting the whole situation with a different brush if that’s the case. If this is just another in a long line of disappointing playoff teams who fail to win a championship, that still looks better than a possibly-dysfunctional team with a losing record who traded away its 10th overall pick to the Jets.

Anyway, as much as I’d like to talk about how Wilson’s performance drove me crazy this year, I’m dedicated to writing about other reasons the Seahawks faltered as well. We’ll see how it goes (so far, it’s going very poorly).

I think a big reason for this season’s decline has to do with the pass rush, which I wrote about last week. That was, of course, written after only 16 of 17 games had been played (you know, like a normal NFL season, before greed forced this additional week on us); at that point, the Seahawks ranked 28th in the NFL with 29 sacks. So, what happened? Well, the Seahawks kicked some ass down in Arizona, racked up 5 additional sacks, and improved their ranking all the way to 22nd in the NFL. Which still isn’t great, but looks a lot better than 28th. Oh what a difference a week can make.

No one stands out more than Carlos Dunlap as far as how an outlook of a season can change in just a few weeks. He had 0.5 sacks heading into December. Then, he had 8 in the final six games to end with 8.5. The way it was looking, Dunlap was the bust of the century; now he looks like the same beast we had on the team last year!

In my post last week, I talked about how Dunlap and Rasheem Green were leading the way with 6.5 sacks. Now, Dunlap is our 2021 team leader with 8.5, Green still has 6.5, but Darrell Taylor also added half a sack to get to 6.5. Everything looks remarkably better with one outstanding performance. Poona Ford added 1.5 sacks to get up to 2 on the season, and Kerry Hyder added a sack to salvage SOMETHING (ending the year with 1.5 sacks).

I would still say pass rush is the biggest concern heading into the 2022 season, as it was one of the biggest drop-offs from the 2020 season. Other than that, though, the defense was roughly the same. In 2020, we gave up 380.6 yards per game; in 2021 it was 379.1 (both figures among the worst in football). Our pass defense improved by roughly 20 yards per game (which passes the eye test, as the secondary appeared to be better than it was in 2020), while our rush defense declined by roughly the same amount (also seeming to pass the eye test, as it was a problem at times all year). We gave up almost 2 fewer points per game in 2021, which is impressive given our injuries and the extra game we played. All in all, the defense was probably better than it had any right to be in 2021, especially given how poor the pass rush played until very late in the season.

The offense, however was atrocious in 2021 compared to 2020. We generated 323.9 yards per game, compared to 369.5 yards last year. Passing yards per game declined (201.9 vs. 246.3), and our rushing yards per game was roughly the same (122.0 this year vs. 123.2 last year), but a lot of that had to do with Rashaad Penny’s bust out in the final few weeks of the season. That translated to a drastic reduction in points per game (23.2 vs. 28.7); just a miserable offensive year.

It’s particularly aggravating to try to analyze, because if you take the eye test out of it, Russell Wilson’s numbers largely align between 2020 and 2021.

  • Completion Percentage: 2020 – 68.8%, 2021 – 64.8%
  • Yards Per Attempt: 2020 – 7.5, 2021 – 7.8
  • Passer Rating: 2020 – 105.1, 2021 – 103.1

Even while his touchdown percentage declined, his interception percentage improved. There’s a lot about his 2021 season that, at least, compared favorably to his career norms. It’s not like Wilson suddenly fell off a cliff. You can always point to his declining rushing production – he had a career-low 3.1 rush attempts per game, after averaging over 2 more per game last year – but that was always to be expected as he got older.

I would say, in general, both years were failures from a running game perspective. Chris Carson led the Seahawks in 2020 with 681 yards; Penny led the Seahawks in 2021 with 749. But, neither player put up anywhere near a full season; if they had, we’d be talking about the Seahawks’ offense in much more glowing terms.

The Seahawks, in both years, struggled to find a third receiver who stood out. What was alarming about 2021 is how D.K. Metcalf’s production declined: 83 catches for 1,303 yards in 2020; 75 for 967 in 2021. There’s some combination of his foot injury and Wilson’s inaccuracy at play there.

What we can’t discount is the change in offensive coordinators. For as much as we all hoped – with the established stars on this roster – that there wouldn’t be a drop-off in production as a new scheme and play-caller were installed, I think that was probably inevitable. Time will tell – and probably very soon – whether or not Shane Waldron is the right guy for the job, especially in how he calls plays. But, I don’t think you can render final judgment after one season. It’s unfortunate, though, because we’ve seen guys step in and see immediate improvement in other situations.

There’s also the bad luck factor at play (or regression to the mean, depending on your sports beliefs). The 2020 Seahawks were 8-3 in one-score games; the 2021 Seahawks were 3-5 in those games. These are games where we held our fate in our hands, and failed to rise to the occasion. You pay a quarterback like Russell Wilson big money to pull these games out. I don’t know if he managed to succeed in any of these that we won, so much as maybe the defense perhaps held on in the end a few times.

If there’s one area the Seahawks will need to find a way to improve – if everything else ends up staying the same – it’s the offensive line. I think we’ve stumbled upon our right tackle of the future, but we need to find a better left tackle, as Duane Brown was really starting to show his age at times this season. Also, it wouldn’t hurt to find a stud center to finally lock that part down. Who knows if any of it will matter, though, as long as Russell Wilson keeps doing Russell Wilson things (which used to be amazing, but now has grown seriously infuriating).

So, what’s the TL;DR? I think Russell Wilson’s poor play – inaccurate, lack of clutchness, lack of ability to convert third downs, lack of willingness to take the plays opposing defenses gave him – deserves a healthy chunk of the blame. I think the O-Line not improving one iota is partly to blame. I think gross incompetence in the running game until the final few weeks of the season has a lot to do with it (and the front office re-signing an injury-prone Carson goes to the top of that particular list). The pass rush shares in the burden, as do the defensive coaches in general, who for the second year in a row failed to have this team prepared in the first half of the season, as we stumbled to a historically-inept start yet again.

Some of these we should have seen coming and corrected ahead of time. Others – like Wilson and the pass rush – totally blindsided us. But, no, Russell Wilson wasn’t the only reason why the 2021 Seahawks failed to live up to what the 2020 version achieved. But, he was the highest-profile and most disgruntled reason why they did.

I’ll be honest, his media antics following the 2020 season soured Wilson on me maybe forever. I’ll always appreciate what he did for this organization, but now I think he’s a joke and that it’s time to move on. More on this tomorrow, as we start to look toward the future.