The Seahawks Cut Diggs, Adams, Dissly

While these are some obvious moves the Seahawks needed to make to free up some much-needed cash ahead of the 2024 offseason, go ahead and disregard a lot of the financial numbers I referenced in this post.

The good news for the Seahawks when it comes to the NFL raising the salary cap to a record $255.4 million is that it helped us greatly when it comes to our financial woes. The last however many years, the Seahawks have been right up against the cap limit every single year. Not much – if any – carry-over from one season to the next. That’s the price you pay when you’re doing everything you possibly can to cling to contention, without any resets.

The bad news for the Seahawks when it comes to the NFL raising the salary cap to a record $255.4 million is that it helps everyone else by the same amount. And, pretty much everyone else was already in a better salary cap situation, so that’s neat.

The three moves combined apparently save a little over $25 million. As for the dead money? Don’t even go there! One cool element of this is that we’re NOT making Jamal Adams a post-June 1st cut, which means we eat all the dead money now, but then in 2025 and beyond, we’re no longer obligated.

I like that. We’ve got a new coaching staff, we’ve got a front office with a new lease on life now that Pete Carroll is no longer where the buck stops. Let’s try to give the Seahawks some semblance of a fresh start. For all intents and purposes, should the Seahawks look to clean house in 2025, there isn’t a TON of dead money to have to endure. Dead money on Geno, Tyler, and even D.K. is all pretty reasonable. There wouldn’t be a lot left for Dre’Mont Jones, and you could even get out from under Nwosu if you really wanted to. Beyond those guys (and, presumably, any duds we sign in this offseason to multi-year deals), there isn’t a lot of fat on this roster going forward.

The toughest hit in this group is Quandre Diggs. He’s been nothing but a pro’s pro since joining the Seahawks. Indeed, either we got him at his very best, or we were able to make the best use of his talents. He spent 4.5 years with Detroit and 4.5 years with Seattle. All three of his Pro Bowls happened when he was here, and 18 of his 24 career interceptions came here.

There’s a lot of lamenting how much money the Seahawks have had tied up in the safety position in recent years. But, people also forget how TRULY awful we were at that position from 2018 (when Earl Thomas went down after 4 games) until Diggs joined the team halfway through 2019. Don’t forget, we also lost Kam Chancellor halfway through 2017, and had to suffer the likes of Tedric Thompson, Lano Hill, and Marquise Blair for that whole stretch. The point being: lack of quality safety play can really set your defense back.

That being said, you just can’t afford to have Safety as your most expensive position on the team. That’s no way to build a great roster. The impact you get from even the best of the best isn’t enough to counterbalance the negatives you’re getting from a nothing defensive line.

The easiest and most obvious cut to swallow was Jamal Adams. It’s going down as one of the worst trades in Seahawks history, and maybe even one of the worst trades in NFL history! We gave them a first and third rounder in 2021 (which they used to trade up in the first round that year, only to draft a journeyman guard/tackle who’s hit the IR twice out of three years), a first rounder in 2022 (which they used to take Garrett Wilson at 10th overall), and Bradley McDougald (who was pretty much cooked by the time we got rid of him). In return, we got a fourth round pick in 2021 (which we used to take Coby Bryant) and one great season (in 2020) where Adams had 9.5 sacks in 12 games. He would go on to have 0 more sacks in a combined 22 more games across the next three seasons, somehow catching 2 INTs (while dropping countless others), and making little-to-no impact whatsoever amidst an injury-plagued career. And, to top it all off, he was both delusional and an ass on the Internet, with one foot out the door pretty much since the moment he got here.

I would put Will Dissly somewhere in the middle. I definitely don’t dislike Dissly; honestly, he’s always been a joy to watch, dating back to his days as a Washington Husky. Every time he catches a ball, or contributes in any way, I light up like a Christmas tree! But also, like, what are we doing paying a – primarily blocking – tight end that much money? He averages a hair over 2 touchdowns, 21 receptions, and 236 yards per season; you’re giving THAT guy an average salary of $8 million per year? Again, what are we doing?

I wouldn’t be against paying him the minimum to come back. But, I’m guessing if we wanted to do that – and he wanted to accept that – he’d be here on a modified deal. As it stands, I’m assuming he can earn more elsewhere, and if so, God bless him.

All in all, kind of a weird day, but not totally shocking. The first of many, many moves to come in a pretty exciting offseason for the Seahawks.

Are The Seahawks Progressing Faster Than Usual This Season?

The Seahawks under Pete Carroll have a certain reputation, that I don’t think is actually warranted anymore. They’re a team that starts slow, but then comes together and improves as the season goes along, until they slam into a home stretch that puts them over the top by playoff time. The biggest lament of this scenario is the fact that the Seahawks usually dick around too much early in the season – losing too many games – and are unable to qualify for a divisional title or a top seed in the conference. We might be playing the best ball by the end of the regular season, but we’re going to be playing that ball on the road, and it makes a big difference in the playoffs.

Anyway, that’s the reputation, but again, if you go back season-by-season, I don’t know if it’s really true anymore. It probably hasn’t been true since 2018. But, just go with me on this.

If we focus exclusively on the defense – and, spoiler alert, that’s what the title of this post is referring to – then I think you very much CAN make that argument, across a long span of time. Probably dating back to 2016. As the L.O.B. aged out and went their separate ways, the Seahawks have failed in trying to replenish this team with defensive stars. It’s been nothing but middling players, with an occasional splash trade for an overpriced veteran who isn’t able to do enough to bring this unit back to its former glories.

So, what happens? Well, we start each and every season looking like the worst defense in all of football. We look like that, because we ARE that. Doesn’t matter if it’s Kris Richard, Ken Norton Jr., or Clint Hurtt; this side of the ball is going to massively struggle early, Pete Carroll is going to assert his will to get things more in line, and it’s eventually going to look somewhat better. But, that never lasts, because there’s a major talent shortage, and you can only hold the dike together with scotch tape and bungee cords for so long before it bursts.

Why does this year look different? How did we – in one offseason – go from looking like one of the worst defenses in football, to potentially looking like one of the best? Don’t get me wrong; I’m not saying we’re the 49ers or the Jets or something. But a difference from being Bottom 10 to Top 10 is certainly massive.

Well, let’s start with the guys we brought in. Dre’Mont Jones, Bobby Wagner, Jarran Reed, Devon Witherspoon, Julian Love, Mario Edwards, Derick Hall, Devin Bush, and Cameron Young are the major culprits. Then, there’s the return of Jamal Adams, Tre Brown, and Jordyn Brooks from injury. And maybe the biggest catalyst is the improvement of Boye Mafe from year one to year two.

Now, let’s look at who’s NOT here. Cody Barton, Ryan Neal, Shelby Harris, Al Woods, Poona Ford, Quinton Jefferson, Bruce Irvin, L.J. Collier, and Bryan Mone (still on the roster, but injured). There’s a lot of addition by subtraction going on here. Neal is probably the best player in this group, but the combo of Love and Adams certainly more than makes up for his loss. Barton is one of the worst linebackers in football. Poona has hardly even played. Collier is who we thought he was. The rest of them are role players at best. And maybe the biggest catalyst here is the fact that Mike Jackson’s role has been severely diminished with Brown and Woolen healthy. Rather than being this team’s 2nd corner, he’s now the 4th or even 5th option, which is probably where he belongs (and as far as 4th or 5th corners goes, he’s pretty good at that).

So, it definitely looks like the Seahawks pulled all the right strings in this past offseason.

Witherspoon is obviously getting the lion’s share of attention, for good reason. He’s wonderful! We’ve never seen someone quite like him, and he’s quickly proving why he was deemed to be the #5 overall pick, and the best DB in the draft. I would say, however, that the biggest surprise has been Jarran Reed. The NFL more or less left him for dead after he left the Seahawks the first time, since he hasn’t done a whole lot with the Chiefs or Packers. He’s back and he might be better than ever!

The combo of Reed and Jones is better than any interior option we’ve had since the L.O.B. days. Jones got off to a bit of a slow start, but he’s beginning to assert himself, and it’s really paying dividends. You can see it in the VAST improvement of our run defense, but they also have 5 sacks between them after 5 games.

Having Wagner and Brooks together again has also been a breath of fresh air. I am in awe over Brooks’ ability to return so quickly from ACL surgery. Not just to play since week 1, but to play at a high level. You also want to lump in Witherspoon and a healthy Adams into this mix, because they’re wreaking havoc near the line of scrimmage.

We talk about depth a lot with the Seahawks’ defense. They don’t seem to have – on paper – the kind of front-line stars that teams like the 49ers, Jets, and Eagles have. Those teams, as we’ve seen, also have lots of depth, but I think that’s easy to come by when you have so many superstars. Put anyone with a pulse around Nick Bosa, Fletcher Cox, and Quinnen Williams, and you’re bound to look good. But, the Seahawks – 1 through 25 – look pretty rock solid, and it’s making all the difference.

Nwosu is still playing like he did last year. Mafe, again, has taken a clear step forward in his progression (tied for the team lead in sacks with Reed). Hall and Darrell Taylor are still valuable rotational pieces in the pass rush. Even Edwards and Young have plugged holes and made some noise.

Thus far, the secondary – the unit we all expected to be among the best in the game – has been the biggest disappointment. But, I would argue they’ve also been the most banged up. Adams, as per usual, has only played in a game and a quarter. Woolen was injured before the season and came late to the party. Ditto Witherspoon. Brown has been in and out. Now, we’re down Coby Bryant with a toe injury (currently on IR). We’ve had to use Love more than we would’ve liked, and probably in areas where he’s not best utilized. Jackson, in spite of a promising 2022, and a highly-regarded training camp, has not looked good. Diggs has had everything on his plate, and hasn’t been able to just let it rip the way he does best (as a turnover machine). With our stars returning, though, everyone else can settle into the roles that best maximize their talents, and you get what we’ve seen the last two games: the Seahawks shutting down opposing passing games (including the vaunted Bengals) the way we all expected heading into the season.

We can’t claim the Seahawks are up there with the true elites, simply because when injuries start to crop up again, we won’t have enough behind them to keep us in that upper echelon. But, if we can avoid truly devastating injuries, and somehow cobble together the rest of this season with Adams involved ON the field, I think there’s real potential here.

The offense won’t always be as bad as they were against the Bengals. I wouldn’t even say they were truly bad, just inept in the red zone. They should keep us in most every game the rest of the way. But, that’s a two-way street. I firmly believe this defense can also keep us in every game the rest of the way. Then, it comes down to execution, and a little luck.

We’re not in an insurmountable hole, even though a 3-2 record – after losing a very winnable game – is far from ideal. Having the defense seemingly figured out only a month into the season is a big boost for this team, though! Now, I could be dead wrong, and this unit will revert back to giving up tons of yards and points this very next game. But, I don’t think I’m off here. And that will mean big things for this team the rest of the way.

We have 12 games left. 6 at home, 6 on the road. If we break it up, three of our next four are at home (Arizona, Cleveland, at Baltimore, Washington). Two of those games should be wins, if we expect to be a playoff team. With the other two, I would say both are winnable, and you’d like to come away from this stretch at least 3-1. That makes us 6-3 as we head into the gauntlet of the schedule.

At the Rams (didn’t have this one pegged as part of the gauntlet heading into the season), 49ers on Thanksgiving night, at Dallas also on Thursday, at 49ers, home for the Eagles. I would like to believe we can compete with L.A., but I dunno. If we manage to win that one, it’ll likely have to be a shootout. Dallas seems like a game we might be able to steal. The Eagles don’t look quite as dominant as they did last year. That leaves us with two against our direct rivals, the 49ers. If we can split those two, and win 2 of 3 against the rest, that puts us at 9-5 heading into the stretch run. Seems far more likely we’re 8-6, and still clinging to wild card hopes, but we’ll see.

The final three games are at Tennessee, home for Pittsburgh, and at Arizona. You’d like to think, by that point, those teams will have nothing to play for. Regardless, all are incredibly flawed. Still, when have we ever managed to be perfect in the final month against incredibly flawed teams? Seems like we always bungle one of these types of games. 3-0 would put us at 11-6 or 12-5, with a puncher’s chance at the division (but, almost certainly falling short, because the 49ers seem destined to make the Super Bowl). If we go 2-1 (which is my official prediction), that still puts us at 10-7 or 11-6, which is almost assuredly a wild card spot.

I will say that – other than Washington and Arizona – there’s a lot of high-end defenses on this slate. So, of course, now that we’re feeling good about our defense, it’ll be the offense that we have to worry about (the one thing we were all feeling pretty great about heading into the season). Isn’t it always the way? We just can’t have nice things.

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.

Seahawks Backups Won Their First Preseason Game

I enjoy the preseason, to a point. I’m not going crazy, I’m not living and dying with every play like in the regular season. But, I get a little giddy for that first one. I enjoy seeing our players in uniform. I look forward to who is actually going to play, and lament who’s too hurt to get these valuable reps. I also mostly don’t care when veterans sit these games out, though I would hardly call second-year offensive tackles “veterans”, and wonder why they’re not at least playing a quarter.

I’ve also learned to stop taking these games so seriously. There’s nothing for the average fan like me to learn. It’s all meaningless. Guys who look great in these games might not even play in the regular season. I don’t know what I’m supposed to glean from these things, so I just let it wash over me and try to have a good time.

On a whole, I didn’t think the Seahawks looked very good in their 24-13 victory at home over the Vikings last night. I thought the run defense got gashed up pretty good; I thought a lot of our pressure failed to get home, or have any impact until very late in the game, when we were facing their third-stringers; and I thought our offense – especially our rushing offense – largely stunk up the joint.

But, again, take it all with a grain of salt. Bobby Wagner didn’t play. Jarran Reed and Uchenna Nwosu didn’t play. Darrell Taylor wasn’t out there. Then again, doesn’t that even further prove our lack of depth? We’re going to need at least SOME of these young guys to step up and stop the run, if Wagner is banged up, or we lose Reed, etc. So, I guess, I hope the good players don’t get hurt ever!

I will say that the pass rush wasn’t a total disaster. But, I saw what few blitzes we sent get swallowed up pretty pathetically. But, I’m not as worried about that.

As for the rush offense, yeesh! As I mentioned up top, neither of our starting offensive tackes played – replaced by Stone Forsythe and Jake Curhan, respectively – and while we got both of our center candidates some action, I don’t know who was in there at guard. Nevertheless, it was eye-opening how bad we were at running the ball. There were no holes whatsoever! Either that means the Vikings were selling out to stop the run, or they just flat out dominated us mano a mano.

If they did sell out, it didn’t translate much into receivers being open down field. I don’t have a great sense of the talent on the Vikings’ defense; I know they had a good team last year (record-wise, at least), but I thought that was propelled by the offense. Maybe they’re good! Or maybe our backups need a lot of improvement.

Outside of one terrible interception, I thought Drew Lock was fine. He largely played it safe and checked down. It took him a while to get going, but eventually he started hitting some deeper stuff (not too deep though; none of those long bombs we like). And his first touchdown was rifled in through heavy coverage and was a thing of beauty.

I was VERY excited to see Jaxon Smith-Njigba get a lot of play! He looked awesome! So did Jake Bobo, and the other receiver who caught that first amazing TD (Easop Winston Jr.). It feels like Bobo has a legitimate shot at making it as a 5th or 6th receiver (especially with Dee Eskridge’s impending suspension, and the way other guys are getting hurt), and I thought Winston looked like a prime practice squad candidate.

Getting back to the defense, I thought there were exciting flashes. I thought Boye Mafe and Derick Hall looked good. Mike Morris got some early pressure. Devin Bush had some flash plays, which were encouraging to say the least! And guys all over the secondary were flying around. Mike Jackson, Tre Brown, Coby Bryant, even rookie Jerrick Reed had a pass breakup.

Can’t say a whole lot about the rest of the defense though. Jon Rhattigan led the team in tackles with 9. He should probably make this team as a backup/Special Teamer. Jason Myers made all his kicks. I didn’t notice any issues with the long snapper. And, you know what they say, it’s also the preseason for the punter.

Also, Dee Eskridge got hurt on the opening kickoff (of course). Cade Johnson left the game with a serious concussion (requiring him to go to the hospital at halftime). On the flipside, rookie guard Anthony Bradford had a fucking rad pancake block, so he’s already on the shortlist for my favorite player on the team.

I’m probably going to miss the next two preseason games, but we’ll see if I can find a way to watch on delay.

Have The Seahawks Done Enough To Overtake The 49ers?

That’s the question we’re asking ourselves all offseason. It’s really the only relevant question to the 2023 season from a Seahawks perspective.

The 49ers were 13-4 last year, and very clearly the second-best team in the NFC. They were the #2 seed in the playoffs, they met Philly in the NFC Championship Game (the #1 seed, naturally), and they got pounded into submission.

The 49ers had one of the best and deepest rosters in the NFL, on both sides of the ball. They’re well-coached, and they have a quality offensive system that allows them to plug & play literally any quarterback (including Brock Purdy, a rookie last year who was taken with the literal final pick in the NFL Draft), and they’re STACKED where it counts. They have one of the best running backs (when healthy) in Christian McCaffrey. They have one of the best wide receivers (when healthy) in Deebo Samuel. They have one of the best tight ends (when healthy) in George Kittle. They have one of the best defensive linemen (when healthy) in Nick Bosa. They have one of the best middle linebackers (who’s always healthy) in Fred Warner. Now, the fact that almost all of these guys have had major injuries recently – yet were all healthy in 2022 – tells me the 49ers were exceedingly lucky last year. One has to wonder if that’s going to carry over; perhaps that’s a feather in our cap.

Where the 49ers are most in flux is at quarterback. Jimmy G is gone. Brock Purdy got injured at season’s end and is no sure thing to return by the start of this regular season. Trey Lance got hurt early on and was lost for most of 2022; he’ll be back, but now there are questions about his viability as a starter going forward. And their big hedge in all this is Sam Darnold, I guess?

Here’s the deal: talking about injuries, or pontificating on who the quarterback is going to be, leaves a lot of variables in play. I’m not interested in “What Ifs” when it comes to the 49ers. I think Brock Purdy will come back and play again; I believe he’ll be in the majority of the games this season. I also believe – as noted up top – they can roll with anyone (including Sam Darnold) and be fine on offense. They have enough talent at the skill spots to move the chains, and they have a deep enough defense to not need a lot of points to win games. Now, they didn’t have much of an opportunity to fill things out in the draft – and eventually the chickens will come home to roost for this franchise – but I’m going into 2023 believing the 49ers will be pretty much as good as they were in 2022. Without even looking at their schedule, I’ll pencil them in for 11-13 wins right now.

I want to focus on the Seahawks more than the 49ers, for obvious reasons. I follow the Seahawks more closely. This is a Seattle-centric blog. And the onus is on the Seahawks to have done enough to bridge the gap.

The 2022 Seahawks were also in the playoffs, as a wild card team, with a 9-8 record. For our hard work, we were rewarded by playing the 49ers in the first round. We got obliterated. Indeed, we lost three games to the 49ers last year, and none of them were particularly close. We couldn’t move the ball! That’s the long and the short of it; we couldn’t move the ball until we were already getting killed, and by that point it didn’t matter. None of the games were competitive, and that’s hard to do when both teams are playoff teams, who are in the same division. We know the 49ers! There were no surprises. They just beat our fucking asses, mano a mano.

This post isn’t just about beating the 49ers this year. It’s about overtaking them for the NFC West title. Any team on any given Sunday and all that; we could fuck around and luck into a win. But, I’m more interested in going toe-to-toe with the 49ers over the long haul. So, what have the Seahawks done?

  • We signed Jason Myers to an extension. He’s great every other year, so I’m a little worried about what 2023 has in store. That being said, the 49ers just drafted a kicker, so I’d be more concerned if I were them.
  • We signed Geno Smith to an extension. Obviously, this is much bigger news than a kicker. His contract is pretty well tied up with his performance; if he does even a fraction of a percent better than he did last year, he’ll get PAID. If he fails to live up to what he did last year, he’ll still get paid, but considerably less.
  • We signed Dre’Mont Jones and Jarran Reed to plug the middle of our defensive line. They both feature vast improvements in pass rush ability, with moderate improvements in run stuffing.
  • We filled out our offensive line with trusted veterans (on short-term deals) and exciting rookies (on long-term deals). Gabe Jackson is no more, but Phil Haynes returns (and figures to get first crack at one of the guard spots opposite Damien Lewis). Evan Brown was brought in to compete at center; he replaces Austin Blythe (who was a detriment for us last year) and figures to be much more competent. We also drafted a couple of thrilling prospects in Anthony Bradford (humongous guard taken in the 4th round) and Olu Oluwatimi (a savvy 5th round pick who many project to become our starting center as early as game 1).
  • We signed Devin Bush and Julian Love at inside linebacker and safety, respectively. Bush is a potential reclamation project who – at the very least – should be a slight improvement over Cody Barton. Love is much more interesting, as he figures to be a major hedge against the inevitable Jamal Adams injury. Love essentially cost us Ryan Neal, but it still feels like a solid upgrade at the position.
  • We brought back Bobby Wagner, which was vitally important, considering how mediocre we were at linebacker last year (again, see: Cody Barton), as well as factoring in the Jordyn Brooks injury (who figures to start this year on the PUP list, and might not be back to normal again until 2024). This improves our run defense, our communication on defense, and gives us another brilliant mind on this side of the ball to ensure players are in the right spots and doing what they’re supposed to be doing.
  • Then, we went out and drafted the best cornerback and wide receiver in the class. We also brought in a couple of very promising running backs (to replace Penny and Homer), a few defensive linemen to fill out our depth, and even another safety who is getting all kinds of kudos (Jerrick Reed won’t be a starter – or even much of a defensive participant – in year one, but he figures to cut his teeth on Special Teams, and could eventually develop into a Quandre Diggs replacement down the road). It appears to be the second consecutive elite draft class by the Seahawks – with a major emphasis on Best Player Available – and as we all know, there’s no better way to quickly turn around your franchise than to draft the way we did from 2010-2012.

And that’s the rub, isn’t it? The previous iteration of a championship-level Seahawks squad took three drafts to reach. So far, this one has only had (MAYBE) the two. Granted, finding even ONE elite draft class is a stretch, for any organization. But, if we want to keep up with the Joneses, we gotta be on the ball. I will say – in comparison to the L.O.B. squad – that we are starting from a MUCH better spot compared to what the Seahawks were from 2009 to 2010 (when Pete Carroll and John Schneider took over). So, an optimist might say that we only NEED the two elite draft classes.

What do I like? Let’s start there.

I’m absolutely enamored with the non-quarterback skill guys on offense. D.K., Tyler, and JSN are all incredible; here’s hoping JSN gets healthy and stays there (it’s disconcerting that he’s still dealing with an injury he suffered in college). Kenneth Walker returns (along with DeeJay Dallas, I guess), and gets paired with a couple of rookies who look tremendous. The tight ends are fine Seahawks tight ends.

I like the potential of this offensive line. Our two hotshot tackles had a full (healthy) year to experience everything the NFL had to offer; the hope is they take a big step forward in year two. The interior should be solid, if not improved over the dead weight we jettisoned this offseason. Any amount of extra time we can give Geno Smith is only going to help him when it comes to finding all his weapons.

Speaking of, I don’t hate the Geno signing, but I especially love how incentivized it is. He’s hungry, he proved he’s at least a capable starter in this league, now we’ll see if – with all this talent around him – he can take his game to another level.

And, how do you not like the secondary? Tariq Woolen as a rookie showed he’s capable of being a top cover guy. Coby Bryant as a rookie showed he’s capable of being a quality nickel guy. We still have Quandre Diggs playing at a high level (as another veteran leader to keep guys in line). We still have Jamal Adams (who is dynamic when he’s on the field). We still have promising depth in Tre Brown and Mike Jackson. Then, you add the consensus best cornerback in this draft class, to go opposite Woolen. That makes the whole room CONSIDERABLY better. Then, you add one of the top free agent safety acquisitions in Love. Then, you add another rookie safety to the mix who looks like a valuable depth piece. The secondary is fucking LOADED. It might eventually be better than it ever was, and that’s saying something.

What don’t I like?

I’m going to single out the linebackers here, but specifically I’m talking about the inside linebackers. We were already one of the worst units last year; we might be worse this year. Bobby Wagner gets a lot of credit for what he did with the Rams last year, especially with everything crumbling around him thanks to injuries and the team losing. But, how good was he really? I think a lot of Seahawks fans saw what he did in those two games against Seattle – where he was hyper-motivated to rub it in our faces – but are ignoring the rest. And are ignoring how he’s looked the last few seasons, when he’s been in unquestionable decline compared to his prime. Eventually, it’s going to come crashing down for Bobby; maybe that’s 2023. But, for the sake of argument, let’s pretend we get his exact 2022 production; is that better than what a healthy Jordyn Brooks gave us? I dunno. There’s also a lot of doubt about Bush, and some second thoughts about Cody Barton (especially with Barton getting a multi-year deal with the erstwhile Washington Football Team). If Bobby’s worse than Brooks, and Bush is worse than Barton, YE GODS! That’s a nightmare scenario.

Then, there’s just the blanket Defensive Line, but it’s really broken down into Pass Rush and Run Defense.

I thought the pass rush last year was good, not great. It took a while before the team understood how to properly utilize Darrell Taylor (he’s not an every-down outside linebacker/defensive end; he’s more strictly a guy you want to save for obvious pass rushing situations). Uchenna Nwosu was our best performer all year. Boye Mafe was just okay as a rookie, but I’m not expecting much from him ever. Derick Hall gets the honor of being this year’s Boye Mafe – and he’s getting rave reviews so far in OTAs – but I’m not expecting anything here either. Mario Edwards was just signed as a low-priced veteran defensive end, but he’s never done much in pass rush in his career.

What should we expect from our pass rush? At best, probably what we saw last year. Dre’Mont Jones is a wild card here; if he can consistently blow things up in the middle, that’s going to make everyone’s jobs on the outside a lot easier. But, I wouldn’t hold my breath. At worst, the pass rush takes a step back, and this is still our #1 priority next offseason (just like it was this offseason).

I thought – as does literally everyone – the run defense last year was total and complete shit. We lopped off a lot of dead weight: gone are Al Woods, Poona Ford, Shelby Harris, Quinton Jefferson, and L.J. Collier, among others. And we brought in Jones, Reed, Edwards, and rookies Cameron Young and Mike Morris. We retained Bryan Mone, but he’s injured and it’s not clear when he’s going to be ready to play again. We could’ve had Jalen Carter, so that’ll forever be a major What If. We also could’ve held onto Al Woods for not much more money than what his dead cap figure amounts to, but we’re up against the salary cap and already had to convert some Tyler Lockett money into signing bonus proration, just to sign our rookies.

Could the run defense be worse this year? It was so bad last year, I find that hard to believe, but I guess I have to admit it’s possible. I’m hoping that continuity among the coaching staff will lead to a better understanding of the scheme by the players, as well as a better understanding by the personnel people as to who needs to be on this roster, to fit in with that scheme. Is there a run-plugging diamond in the rough, either among the rookies or the back-of-the-roster holdovers from last year? Poona Ford and Bryan Mone both came from out of nowhere to be major contributors for this team, so anything’s possible.

All told, where does that put us compared to last year?

If we get modest improvements out of the run defense and pass rush, we should see tremendous value from our secondary and enough explosiveness from our offense to be improved over last year. I could see the Seahawks winning anywhere from 9-12 games, as long as we don’t suffer too many major injuries. I’ve got the 49ers at 11-13 wins, so what I’ll say is I think the Seahawks have given themselves a chance. I think we’ve done enough to compete on their level. That doesn’t mean I’m expecting us to blow them out ever; I think we can eke out one victory in the regular season, and be within a game of them by season’s end.

Gun to my head, if I have to make a definitive prediction, I would say the Seahawks finish a game back. Or, maybe tied in record, but losing to them via tiebreakers. Bottom line, I’m still predicting the 49ers win the NFC West; but I do think we’ll have a better wild card spot than we did a year ago, and hopefully that means we won’t have to play them in the first round again.

So, no, I don’t think the Seahawks have done enough to overtake the 49ers in 2023. But, at this rate, 2024 is ON THE TABLE.

The Seahawks Might Have Drafted The Best Cornerback & Wide Receiver In The First Round

It’s funny how my Seahawks fandom led me astray in this draft. Like a lot of people, I had REAL tunnel vision when it came to the first round of this draft, and especially with the #5 pick. I never legitimately believed we’d take a quarterback there, but I left that door open a crack just in case. Really, what I expected was we’d take the best defensive lineman available. Either Will Anderson (if he was still there) or Jalen Carter/Tyree Wilson (whoever the team believed in more). As many expected, the Texans drafted Will Anderson; as literally no one expected, they drafted him AFTER they also took C.J. Stroud (when they traded up with Arizona for the #3 pick). Other than that, the top 4 went chalk: Bryce Young #1 to the Panthers and Anthony Richardson #4 to the Colts. Will Levis is somewhere still sliding harder than a fireman on a greased up fire pole.

What I didn’t do before the draft was put one ounce of effort into studying first round cornerbacks or wide receivers. What’s the point? The Seahawks never take a receiver before the second round, and never take a corner before the third!

There’s two ways to look at this draft for the Seahawks so far: you’re either with us or against us. You’re either a fan of your team taking the Best Player Available, or you’re not. There are normally 32 picks in the first round of an NFL Draft; this year there was 31 because the Dolphins got dinged for tampering and lost their pick. However, that doesn’t mean there are 30+ players with “first round grades” heading into a draft. Usually there’s anywhere from 12-18 or so, true, legitimate blue chippers. This year’s class was deemed to be weak in comparison to recent drafts, so the odds of the Seahawks getting two elite players with first round grades – when their second pick was #20 – seemed pretty remote.

I would call this draft a qualified success, because the Seahawks got two players with true first round grades. But, obviously, the Seahawks didn’t address their greatest need (the defensive front seven), and that might come back to haunt them.

You can’t be a football fan and not have heard some chatter about Devon Witherspoon, cornerback from Illinois (our pick at #5). Really, all I knew heading into the draft was that he was one of the best cornerbacks in this draft, he excelled in press coverage, and he was elite against the run. As soon as I heard that, I thought, “Well, he sounds like an ideal Pete Carroll cornerback; too bad he’ll be gone by the time we take our first corner of this draft!”

He’s 6’0, 180-something pounds. Notably – in the post-round interviews – Pete Carroll compared him to Troy Polamalu, which is incredibly high praise. It’s hard not to be a fan of his style of play, I think he’ll fit in beautifully with what the Seahawks want to do on defense. That being said, he doesn’t strike me as a Sauce Gardner type. He’s not far-and-away the best cornerback in this draft (even though he was picked first, and would probably get the most first place votes). Washington and New England both took cornerbacks at 16 and 17 respectively who are in the conversation (particularly the Oregon guy, who I’d also heard rumblings about pre-draft).

The big question with Witherspoon will be: is he a lockdown corner? Or is he just a good all-around athlete? Is he a Richard Sherman, or a Shawn Springs? Say what you will about Springs, but he was never a lockdown guy; he was fine.

Of note to Seahawks fans in the market for a defensive lineman, Tyree Wilson ended up going #7 to the Raiders and Jalen Carter went #9 to the Eagles (of course). It’s interesting how the defensive end market shook out, because there were a number of quality names still available by the time the draft got to #20. I don’t know if these guys are going to be worth a damn as pros, but names I’d heard about pre-draft included Myles Murphy (28th to the Bengals), Nolan Smith (30th to the Eagles, of course), and Felix Anudike-Uzomah (31st to the Chiefs). There were also a couple of semi-interesting defensive tackles taken after we picked, including Mazi Smith (26th to the Cowboys) and Bryan Bresee (29th to the Saints). We’ll have to keep our eyes on those guys, and just imagine what they might’ve looked like in Seahawks uniforms.

At some point in the run-up to #20, I tweeted out how I thought it would be funny if the Seahawks continued to buck their organizational trends by taking “that amazing tight end” with our other first round pick. Dalton Kincaid was who I was referring to; he ended up getting selected by the Bills at 25. Nevertheless, we did buck trends, but went wide receiver instead.

Jaxon Smith-Njigba is more-or-less the consensus best receiver in this class, at least heading in. But, kinda like our cornerback pick, JSN doesn’t sound like a grand slam, no doubter home run, a la Ja’Marr Chase or Justin Jefferson. Maybe just a half-step down.

He’s 6’1, 196 pounds. He was the very best Ohio State wide receiver in 2021, before a hamstring injury severely limited his 2022 season. He can play anywhere – inside and outside – he has great hands, he gets open. He’s going to be a BIG asset for this team. I’ve heard him being compared to Doug Baldwin, which: sign me up! I wonder if he’s like a blend of both Tyler Lockett and D.K. Metcalf. I love the pick already for what he’s going to mean to this offense on third downs, but I’ll be curious to see what his high-end potential is on big plays downfield. A non-crazy Antonio Brown is the ceiling you’re looking for. I imagine the floor is – as always – Nelson Agholor.

Here’s the thing with these two picks: it doesn’t matter if you’re in the Best Player Available camp or the Draft For Need camp, because cornerback and wide receiver ARE needs for this team.

Sure, Tariq Woolen and Coby Bryant were drafted last year and made names for themselves as rookies. But, we still needed a starter opposite Woolen who isn’t Mike Jackson. I would also argue that Woolen is more of a cover corner, and not necessarily a guy who lowers the boom on opposing players. I cringe every time I see Woolen try to tackle a running back. We needed to throw a wild animal into our secondary. Devon Witherspoon is going to learn so much from the likes of not only Woolen, but Quandre Diggs, Julian Love, and even Jamal Adams (for the half a game he’s healthy for).

And I would argue – in spite of having two 1,000-yard receivers in Metcalf and Lockett – the Seahawks had a bigger need for a third receiver than they did for another corner. Are you as sick and tired of Dee Eskridge as I am? Are you over these 1-year retreads like Marquise Goodwin? Are you looking for a little more than a 6th/7th rounder or an undrafted guy, like Freddie Swain, Dareke Young, or Penny Hart?

Three-receiver sets are the norm nowadays, even with a team that runs as much as the Seahawks do. The fullback is out. You’re either going with a third receiver or a second tight end. So, there’s going to be no shortage of plays for JSN on the field in this offense. He gives us probably the best wide receiver room in football (certainly in the NFC anyway), he’s insurance in case Metcalf or Lockett get banged up, and he’ll help us replenish for when Tyler Lockett one day decides to hang ’em up. Sure, Lockett is signed through 2025, he keeps his body in shape, and he’s careful about not taking brutal hits. But, he’s 31 this year. There’s a potential out in his contract before 2024, so you never know when it’s all going to come to an end for an older player. Waiting until after Lockett is gone to replenish the wide receiver room sounds like a terrible idea. Get a rookie in there now, have him learn from Lockett while he still can, and now you’ve really maximized that pick!

Granted, even though the Seahawks did draft for need, they weren’t the most pressing needs. To that, I say, let’s see what happens over the next couple days. Should be quite interesting.

More Minor Seahawks-Related News, Part 2

Is it just me or have the Seahawks been unusually active in free agency? So active, in fact, that I had to split this post into two parts!

Seahawks Signed Evan Brown

It seems like the Seahawks found their starting center for 2023. It’s a 1-year deal, for just under $3 million, so that doesn’t preclude the Seahawks from finding a more permanent alternative in the draft. But, as always, the Seahawks like to hedge as much as possible before the draft, that way they can give off the illusion that they’re selecting the Best Player Available, and not necessarily some guy to fill a hole. I would consider the center spot to be a hole, though Brown does seem like an upgrade over Austin Blythe, at 6’3, 320 pounds. Considering the type of beef we have to go up against six times a year just in our own division, it was time to invest in some bigger bodies to hopefully give Geno Smith a little more protection.

Seahawks Re-Signed Drew Lock

One year, $4 million, with incentives up to $7.5 million. It’s almost a carbon copy of Geno Smith’s 2022 deal. I don’t know why we’re investing so heavily into a consensus backup quarterback, unless it’s because we’re going to completely ignore the position in the draft yet again. I’ve never been one to believe we’d take a guy with the fifth overall pick, or even in the first round. But, I did kinda hope we’d look into getting someone somewhere, that’s not an afterthought/undrafted king. But, I think the odds are pretty good we’re using our draft to boost everywhere else.

Seahawks Signed Devin Bush

This seems like an incredibly interesting signing by the Seahawks. It’s a one year deal of an unknown amount (just kidding! it’s anywhere from $3 million to $3.5 million), but figure it’s some sort of a prove-it deal for a once-promising uber-prospect who’s seen his career side-tracked by injury. Specifically an ACL tear in his second NFL season, that’s taken him a lot longer to recover from than anyone would’ve liked. He still played over the last two years, but not at the height of his rookie campaign. By all accounts, his speed dropped considerably after the injury, and it’s unknown if he’s ever going to return to form. If it pays off, we could have an elite off-ball linebacker at a bargain rate. If it fails, then hopefully it won’t matter too much, because either we’ve drafted a speedy linebacker, or something else – like a box safety – comes into play.

Seahawks Signed Julian Love

This is a 2-year, $12 million deal, so you figure this guy has a role on this defense regardless of what happens with Quandre Diggs or Jamal Adams (or Ryan Neal, for that matter). He’s a safety, which is why those other names come up, but he can also play nickel corner. It seems to me that it would be odd to sign this guy and give him Coby Bryant’s job, when Bryant did fine as a rookie. This leads me to believe that Love will take over at strong safety, while Jamal Adams will play a little more consistently as a linebacker or a third (box) safety. It also doesn’t hurt to have a little extra depth, since Adams clearly has an issue with staying upright, and you never know what’ll happen with Diggs. The extra year makes it clear that Love can be a bridge between Adams after this season, and whoever ends up being the next guy. What’s not going to happen is the Seahawks cutting either Adams or Diggs before this season. It doesn’t make sense financially, nor competitively.

Al Woods Released

I can’t imagine this is something the Seahawks actually wanted to do. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe they just wanted a clean slate across the board for an underperforming defensive line. But, my take on the 2022 season was that Al Woods was the lone bright spot along the interior of that line. Sure, he’s getting up there. Sure, there will be other similar options to fill that void (we really don’t have a true widebody nose tackle on the roster at the moment). But, the guy is tough as nails, impossible to move, and is beloved by both fans and teammates alike. And he’s been durable! No, I have to believe the Seahawks did this because we’re literally broke. No money left. Every little bit helps, and in this case, that’s $3.6 million we get to put towards, presumably, filling out our roster, paying our draft picks, and finding replacement-level players when our guys land on the IR. I’m assuming we tried to renegotiate his contract and he wasn’t having any of it. Too bad. Some team is going to find a bargain in Al Woods.

Why Jarred Kelenic Being Penciled In As A Starter Is Potentially A Good Thing

We as fans like to think we know everything. We’re entitled pricks! It’s fine; we pay their fucking salaries, the least they can do is put up with our bullshit.

Anyway, sometimes it’s good to take a step back and acknowledge that teams generally know more than we do. Or, at the very least, they HAVE knowledge that we don’t. At the beginning of the year, the Seahawks started multiple rookie cornerbacks over veterans who had looked pretty good the previous season. We thought they were crazy, but lo and behold, Tariq Woolen and Coby Bryant had pretty solid-to-elite rookie years!

The Mariners know good and well where they are set and where they struggled a year ago. They know what their holes are. At this point in the offseason, they’ve swapped out Teoscar Hernandez for Mitch Haniger in right field. They shed Jesse Winker from left and gave Kyle Lewis a fresh start with another organization who can better afford to keep him on their 40-man. What they didn’t do is … ANYTHING to fill the void in left field, to say nothing of what’s going to happen with the DH spot. We’ve got Dylan Moore, we’ve got Sam Haggerty, and we brought in a right-handed platoon bat in A.J. Pollock for the 25% of the time we face left-handed starters.

Meaning that unless another big deal is coming down the pike in the next month, we’re looking at a healthy dose of Jarred Kelenic.

I find that very intriguing. I just got done telling you how the Mariners know good and well where they struggled a year ago, and one of the most prominent struggle spots was, indeed, Kelenic. So, why would a team that just broke through into the playoffs for the first time in two decades – a team with even higher expectations for 2023 – go into a season essentially guaranteeing a guy like Kelenic the opportunity to start in left? Make no mistake, Moore and Haggerty are insurance policies. But, Kelenic will be given every opportunity to succeed, because he has the highest upside of anyone on this team not named Julio Rodriguez.

On the one hand, this move could blow up in their faces. Kelenic could start this season like he’s started every season in the bigs, sucking HARD at the plate. He could go up and down to and from Tacoma a few times. He could play himself right out of the organization with his value the lowest it’s ever been.

But, I don’t think they believe that’s what’s going to happen. Granted, what organization in its right mind would start a guy they expect to fail? He would have to make significant strides in his development to be the kind of player we need in left. We’ve had ample opportunities to address this void, both in trades and free agents. We have enough prospects to make that spot at least league average; there were deals that could’ve been made. Instead, the Mariners seem content to roll with Kelenic. And that in and of itself gives me hope.

If it backfires, I guess there’s still the trade deadline. But, that’s a pretty huge blunder. So, let’s hope what they’re saying is on point: Kelenic is still VERY young, and there’s plenty of time for him to reach his full potential.

Seahawks Death Week 2022: Looking On The Bright Side

I tend to come on here and do a lot of bitching. It’s my outlet. That way, I don’t have to bombard loved ones with my rantings on draft order, mediocre quarterbacks, atrocious defenses, and the like.

But, today, I’m not going to do that. Today I’m taking off my pissy-pants and looking on the brighter side of Seahawks life.

As an astute commenter recently noted, it’s important to remember where our expectations were heading into the season. Mine were at an all-time low (or close to it) for the Seahawks. I estimated anywhere from 3-4 wins, with the Broncos being division winners. So, still getting that top 5 pick (from those Broncos), while having a better-than-anticipated Seahawks roster full of promising prospects getting lots of valuable experience, is a pretty big win! You could argue this is the best-possible (reasonable) season we could’ve gotten. Obviously, the ACTUAL best-possible season would’ve been Denver having the worst record in the NFL, with the Seahawks winning the Super Bowl. But, we’re bound by the laws of reality, which is still pretty damn good.

I couldn’t be happier with our 2022 draft class.

Kenneth Walker finished 12th in the league in rushing yards, with 1,050. And that’s with two full missed games, and not really taking over lead rushing duties until week five. He averaged 70 yards per game, which was 9th in the NFL, as well as 4.6 yards per carry, which was 9th as well (minimum 200 attempts). Maybe more importantly, he was the best rookie running back in this class, given his ability and durability. We’ll see how long he’s able to hold that title, but regardless that’s a VERY strong start to a career.

I thought Charles Cross and Abe Lucas acquitted themselves quite well as bookend offensive tackles. It’s not easy to find ONE of those positions in the draft, let alone two in the SAME draft. You never want to unfurl the Mission Accomplished banner after one quality season, but I think it’s reasonable to suspect we’re set at those spots for the next few years at least. Were they perfect? Of course not. But, the mistakes appeared to be minimal (for rookies), and the upside looks like it’s substantial.

On the defensive side of the ball, one of the few bright spots was cornerback Tariq Woolen, who finished with 6 interceptions in his first year. He also made the Pro Bowl, which is awesome! When you consider he was expected to be a rough project at corner, the fact that he started every game and played at such a high level is, frankly, phenomenal. It’s too early to start bandying around LOB comparisons, but if anyone deserves to be lumped into that group, it looks like it might be Woolen.

Guys like slot corner Coby Bryant and edge rusher/linebacker Boye Mafe have flashed at times, but have also looked a little rough. I’ll be cautiously optimistic with them, but that’s more than you could say for a lot of Seahawks draft picks over the last few years.

Other bright spots include our top two receivers. D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett both surpassed 1,000 yards receiving, which seemed impossible before the season (1,048 for D.K., 1,033 for Tyler). They combined for 15 of our 30 receiving touchdowns; you can’t really ask for much more than that. We only had one other instance of two receivers catching over 1,000 yards in the same season under Russell Wilson’s leadership, and that was 2020 (with the same guys).

Speaking of the passing game, even though I have my reservations going forward, you can’t deny the numbers Geno Smith put up. He set the Seahawks’ single season passing yards record with 4,282. Granted, he needed 17 games to do it (when all others had, at most, 16 games to play in), but a record is a record. He ranked 4th in yards per game, 7th in passer rating, 1st in completion percentage, 7th in touchdowns, and 1st in both attempts and completions among all Seahawks single-season passers. That’s quite a feat after coming off of Russell Wilson, who wanted nothing more than to be the franchise leader in attempts (he’s actually only 3rd on the list with his 2020 season, behind Matt Hasselbeck’s 2007). By most tangible measures, you could argue Geno Smith had the best season of any Seahawks quarterback ever. Which is why there will be a strong push to bring him back on a multi-year extension.

I would also say we got strong seasons from all three of our tight ends, Noah Fant, Will Dissly, and Colby Parkinson. Nothing too flashy, but they were fine outlets when our other receivers were covered.

Defensively, Uchenna Nwosu was our brightest shining star. He finished with 9.5 sacks, 3 forced fumbles, 12 tackles for loss, and was our best and most consistent source of pressure. He’s one of the rare outside defensive free agents who’s come here and succeeded right away in the last decade.

Darrell Taylor picked up his game significantly late in the year, also finishing with 9.5 sacks. Quinton Jefferson and Bruce Irvin had nice reunions with the team, finishing with a combined 9 sacks. Quandre Diggs also came on a bit late in the season, finishing with 4 interceptions. And Ryan Neal was a sneaky defensive MVP, playing at a high level as our third safety thrust into a starting role early in the season. Also, kudos go to Shelby Harris for his veteran presence along the much-maligned defensive line. And, why not, Mike Jackson had some okay moments in his first year as a starting cornerback (4th year in the league).

There’s a universe where these guys I’ve just referenced are the foundation of the next great Seahawks team. No one is satisfied with a 9-8 record and semi-backing into the playoffs as a 7-seed. But I don’t think there’s any question that a 9-8 team is a lot closer to being at a championship level than a 4 or 5-win team with fundamental problems at multiple important areas. Especially when that 9-8 team has a couple of high selections in the first two rounds of the 2023 draft.

The key will be that draft, though. You can’t just do what we did in 2022 and expect a significant turnaround. It takes multiple consecutive years of nailing drafts and free agent classes to get things right.

But, I will say this: while I have my doubts about the defensive coordinator, I think this coaching staff and front office deserve a ton of credit for keeping this team together and blowing out everyone’s expectations. The organization got it right with Russell Wilson, even if we were a year or two too late in getting rid of him.

You can obviously understand why that trade happened the way it did, when it did. It’s not easy moving on from a franchise quarterback who’s been the best we’ve ever had, while leading us to back-to-back Super Bowls. I think we did the best we could under the circumstances, with Wilson having a no-trade clause and Denver being our only real option.

I would argue given our level of talent and lack of depth (particularly on the defensive side of the ball), it’s a miracle we won as many games as we did! It was also a miracle we stayed as healthy as we did, at our most important positions. I think I read on Twitter that Geno Smith was the only quarterback to take all of his team’s snaps (not counting crazy wildcat plays and whatnot). When you factor in an O-line breaking in two rookies at tackle, and having their issues along the interior, as well as the fact that Geno was tied for the third-most sacks taken, I don’t know how that’s even possible!

So, if you want, feel free to be optimistic about the future. I don’t blame you! I’m naturally skeptical about my Seattle teams, so I’ll be over here pouting in my little corner of the Internet. But, I’ll tell you this much: I’m extremely excited for all the moves the Seahawks end up making this upcoming offseason. I know I won’t agree with all of them, but there should be enough positives to rope me into a Glass Half Full assessment heading into this September. I can’t wait to be wildly disappointed at the conclusion of next season!

Who Do The Seahawks Have On Defense That’s Worth A Damn?

There’s nothing worse in football than a shitty defense. Put me in the minority of football fans: I want a defense that far-and-away outclasses the offense. I’d rather root for a team like the 49ers than I would a team like the Chiefs. Great defenses don’t take weeks off. Great defenses can make great offenses look inept; rarely do you see it go the other way. Rarely do you see a great defense – that isn’t totally decimated by injuries, thereby rendering it not-so-great – get totally obliterated. That’s what I’m looking for in a championship-level football team. That’s what I’m counting on when it comes to the playoffs. Great defense, and a quarterback who can get the job done in a pinch.

It feels like it’s been forever since the Seahawks have had a great defense. You could argue we haven’t had one since 2014 or 2015, which in NFL terms IS forever. The Seahawks haven’t just been mediocre, though. They’ve been downright BAD. What’s worse, they’ve often been bad masquerading as mediocre, which has led to this endless fucking cycle of never really going all-in to improve.

Year after year where we start out as the absolute worst defense in football. Then, through smoke and mirrors (and usually a reduction in the quality of offensive opponents), as the season goes along, they improve JUST enough to fool us into believing they’re not as bad as we thought. An inept coaching staff gets to keep their jobs (for a while), inept players get to stick around (for a while), and it starts all over again.

It’s been a long time since we’ve been THIS bad though. The run defense has been bad in spurts over the last half-decade, but never this consistently atrocious. There’s always been SOMETHING to stem the tide, and maybe that something was Bobby Wagner. Maybe we took him for granted for too long, and now we’re reaping what we sow.

There’s been a chicken or egg thing with this defense this year. Is it a scheme/coaching problem? Or is it a lack of talent among the players problem?

I’m inclined to think the scheme is sound – because we’ve seen the Vic Fangio scheme work all over the league – but the key difference is that usually they have Vic Fangio running it. I’ve had a problem with Clint Hurtt since it was announced he was taking over as defensive coordinator. Here’s a guy who’s done nothing in his coaching career, who led a mediocre-at-best defensive line unit under the previous shitty regime, and you just have to wonder what this guy did to deserve a promotion, as someone who’s never coached at this level before.

That being said, I don’t think there’s any question there’s a lack of talent on this team. Tariq Woolen appears to be the only player worth a damn. Uchenna Nwosu looks good week-in and week-out, but that can be deceiving. Is he just a standout among clods? Or is he actually a talented pass rusher/outside linebacker? I think it’s worth questioning since the Chargers let him go in free agency, and the Seahawks were only willing to sign him to a 2-year deal.

After that? Fuck this defense. As has been belabored, Jordyn Brooks makes a lot of tackles, but rarely are they of any impact. What big plays has he generated to put teams behind the sticks? Quandre Diggs appears to have lost a step, and if he’s going to keep dropping interceptions, then what good is he? We’re all well aware of Jamal Adams’ broken-down body; can’t count on him going forward. Darrell Taylor has had a nightmare season, given where we expected him to be in his development. Even Poona Ford and Bryan Mone have appeared to take steps back in their production, and all those guys are paid to do is stop the run! That’s literally their only fucking job!

The third and fourth best players on this defense are Al Woods and Shelby Harris, two aging vets you could get on the scrap heap in any given offseason.

It really makes you wonder how far away we are from building that elite defense we’ve missed so much. Are we just a few impact players away? Or is a total teardown and rebuild required? I don’t think we’re going to see the latter – at least as long as Pete Carroll and John Schneider are here – so that means we have to hope we’re just a draft away from turning things around.

Heading into next year, we’ve got the aforementioned Woolen and Nwosu. We hope the likes of Coby Bryant and/or Tre Brown can make an impact. Beyond that, man, I dunno. It seems more and more like we’re going to need that first Broncos pick to be an impact defensive lineman. I’m wondering if we’re going to need to use the vast majority of our draft picks to go towards the defense!

It’s extremely discouraging. I don’t like calling this a “lost season” because that makes it sound like a failure, when really it’s not THAT bad. But, any season where you’re not seriously contending for a championship – or at least building towards that – is indeed a lost season. You like to at least hang your hat on some players you can point to and say, “These are the building blocks of a potential championship team.” There are guys up and down that offense where you can say that. But, on defense, the cupboard is fucking BARE.

Fans are impatient. I get that. The Seahawks are 7-7 with three weeks to go. We’d need to win out AND we’d need help if we want to make the playoffs as one of the last two wild card teams. To win out, that means we’d need to somehow defeat the Chiefs this weekend, then turn around and beat the Jets and Rams at home. As a team that couldn’t even beat the Panthers, Raiders, or Bucs, that feels implausible. As such, I just want to get this Seahawks season over with as soon as possible, with as many defeats as possible, to better our draft picks for next year. I want to fast forward to the 2023 draft, I want us to select the best possible players, and I want the next regular season to get going with our bounty of improved talent! It feels insane to say that while there are still relevant regular season games left to play in 2022, but that’s where I’m at.

I can’t watch this defense anymore. It’s infuriating. The offense has been a heartwarming story thus far, but it’s not good enough to overcome the other side of the ball being so helpless. It’s time to seriously overhaul the whole fucking unit, from top to bottom, by any means necessary. All these half measures aren’t going to cut it anymore.