Seahawks Death Week: We’ve Got Holes To Fill On Defense

So, unless things have gone horribly wrong, by now I’ve written about the last Seahawks game of the season, I’ve written about the things that have gone right, and the things that have gone wrong. Now, it’s time to get to work on that all-important roster building.

To start, here are a list of free agents, in some particular order:

Defense

  • Jadeveon Clowney (DE)
  • Jarran Reed (DT)
  • Mychal Kendricks (LB)
  • Ziggy Ansah (DE)
  • Quinton Jefferson (DL)
  • Al Woods (DT)
  • Akeem King (DB)
  • Neiko Thorpe (DB)
  • Branden Jackson (DL)

That’s a lot of our regular defensive line rotation, including starters in Clowney and Reed, as well as significant 2019 role players like Ansah, Woods, Q-Jeff, and Jackson.

Obviously, Clowney is the big name here. He will be 27 years old in 2020, and he’ll be looking for his first real BIG payday. We’re talking $20+ million per season on average, one of the five highest paid defensive people in the league. With his injury and impending surgery, you have to wonder if that’ll scare teams off a little bit. Not a lot; I think he’ll still see a huge payday, but I wonder if extra protections for the team will be built in.

Is he worth it? That’s the ultimate question. This is a guy who had 3 sacks all regular season. Is that a $20+ million a year guy? I’ll tell you this much, SOMEONE will pay him that much, because he’s obviously more than a straight-up sacks guy. He’s elite against the run, and he has one of the highest pressure rates. Also, even though we’re talking about a second contract – and you rarely see the value over the duration of the deal – defensive linemen tend to age pretty well. It’s not inconceivable that he’d live up to the money over the next four years. But, this core injury isn’t the only thing that’s ever happened to him. Coming out of college and through his first couple years, he missed quite a bit of time. On the one hand, fresher legs; on the other hand, there’s a risk of re-injury.

I’m not going to sit here and say the Seahawks HAVE to pay him whatever he wants; I’m sure they’ll make the decision they want to make. If that means we back up the Brinks truck, so be it, I’ll be fine with it. If we let some other team over-pay for an injury risk, I can easily talk myself into that as well.

But, the bottom line is: the Seahawks need to do SOMETHING. I don’t know what the free agent landscape looks like for pass rushers in 2020, but the cupboard is bare here in Seattle. It’s as bare as it gets, and when you consider how horrible we were in 2019 (WITH Clowney), trying to imagine an even WORSE pass rush makes me sick to my stomach.

This brings us to Jarran Reed, who looked like he was on pace for a huge payday as well. 10.5 sacks in 2018, as an interior lineman, is a remarkable achievement. So, we know he has that in him anyway (at least, when the conditions are right). But, then he was suspended for 6 games in 2019, and when he came back he wasn’t quite his old self. He fell all the way down to 2.0 sacks, and with the prior suspension, he now holds the risk of an even bigger punishment if he gets in trouble a second time. So, his value fell pretty far.

I don’t know what he’s looking for, but if we could bring him back on a team-friendly 3-4 year deal, I wouldn’t hate it. I also wouldn’t mind a 1-year prove-it deal, though obviously that’s not as good for our salary cap (unless it’s an insanely low figure with lots of incentives he’s not expected to reach based on his 2019 production). But, it would be asinine to get in a bidding war for his services, considering what he was able to bring to this team in his 10 games plus the playoffs. Ultimately, Reed made next-to-zero impact for this team, when we REALLY needed him to step up and take on more of the pass rushing load.

Ziggy Ansah needs to go. That’s all I need to say about him; he’s finished in this league.

Al Woods is a fine player, and I would assume we could bring him back cheaply if we wanted. He’s also Just A Guy, so whatever.

Q-Jeff is a nice player, and it’s unfortunate he got injured in our game in Green Bay. I would expect maybe a moderate raise, but he obviously doesn’t bring a ton to the table from a pass rushing perspective. So, breaking the bank isn’t necessary here.

Next up is Mychal Kendricks, who ended 2019 on IR. He was fine, but again I don’t really know what he brought to the table. It feels like Cody Barton (or pretty much anyone else) could do what he did and we’d be fine.

Finally, King and Thorpe are also just regular dudes. Thorpe obviously has value on special teams, but he’ll be 30 years old and in his 8th season in the league. I feel like we’ve successfully replaced what he brought to this team and maybe can move on with younger guys. King won’t be contending for a starting job anywhere, but maybe he’ll want more of a chance to at least compete for a spot. It feels like he’s hit his ceiling in our defense, and he might want a change of scenery.

***

As for the guys who are already under contract, I don’t see a lot of dead weight that we NEED to get rid of for salary cap purposes.

K.J. Wright will be 31 years old and on the final year of his deal. He’s set to count about $10 million against the salary cap, with only $2.5 million in dead money, for $7.5 million in savings. That’s not nothing, especially when we might be paying a lot for Clowney, plus another pass rusher or two.

If we move on from Wright, it probably means he didn’t want to take a pay cut. He was second in tackles on the team with 132 (not significantly fewer than league leader Bobby Wagner’s 159), he played in every game, and he played a high percentage of this team’s overall snaps. If you cut him, it means you believe Cody Barton is ready to start this year (or you draft someone who you can’t afford to sit because he’s too talented). But, also if you cut him then you have to fill two linebacker spots (one, presumably, with Barton, and the other TBD).

Ultimately, I don’t think the Seahawks will release Wright, based on shared history and what he’s meant to the success of this defense since 2011. But, you can’t totally dismiss it given his high salary figure, and the need to improve across the entire D-Line.

The other possible decision the Seahawks need to make is whether they want to give Shaquill Griffin a long-term extension. Do they believe he’s the guy to build around in that secondary? He’s set to earn less than $1 million in 2020, so there would be a considerable discount to be had to make it worth our while in the long term. Think about what we did by extending Tyler Lockett a year early; he’s on a VERY team-friendly deal now, and it’s paying significant dividends.

I thought Griffin really took a big leap forward in his development in 2019. I don’t know where he ranks among all cornerbacks, but I feel like he’s right there in the 2nd or 3rd tier. He’s not a lockdown guy; he’s not among the best of the very best. But, he’s a solid starter, he doesn’t give up a ton of catches or yards, and more often than not teams go away from his side (it helps that Tre Flowers is the guy opposite him, and he gives up practically everything). If there’s a reasonable figure the team can get to with Griffin, I think I’d like to see them do a Lockett-type deal. Something that gives the young player a nice raise, while showing him he’s part of the long term plan and affords the team some future flexibility in their cap from 2020-2022.

***

Big picture for 2020, the defensive line is in shambles, and the secondary needs a huge infusion of talent.

As things stand today, L.J. Collier and Rasheem Green would be your starting defensive ends. Collier was a healthy scratch most of the season (including both playoff games) and Green was our leading sacker with a whopping 4.

Collier can be considered nothing but a huge disappointment. You expect your first round picks – even your late first rounders – to contribute in some way, if not be a starter from day one. Obviously, the starting jobs were taken on this team, but he brought NOTHING to this team as a rookie. That doesn’t mean he’s a bust, necessarily – he’s still got three more years to prove that he’s worth a 5th year option – but he better work his fucking ass off in the offseason and come into camp like a man possessed.

As for Green, as I’ve written about before, he took a moderate step forward. But, as I point out all the time, unless you’re uber-talented, it’s hard for young defensive linemen to make big impacts; it usually takes a few years to grow into your body, bulk up, and learn the nuances of how to play in this league. For so many players who go on to be drafted in the first couple days, the college game is simple. The offensive linemen stink, the schemes are dumbed down, and you can just go out there and kick ass. In the NFL, you need to smarten up quite a bit, or you’ll be left behind.

Along the interior, we’ve got Poona Ford and some scrubs. This team needs to improve its pass rush, but also get better at defending the run. Ultimately, the Seahawks need a whole makeover at D-Line, so there’s work to be done.

In the secondary, Griffin and Flowers figure to return as starters. One can only hope Flowers takes a similar leap in his development between Year 2 & 3 as Griffin did this past season. Diggs and McDougald figure to be your starters at safety, though I would hope Marquise Blair gets a legitimate opportunity to compete and start. It would also be helpful if Ugo Amadi works on his craft quite a bit this offseason to be this team’s nickel corner.

I would LOVE it if we drafted yet another safety, and cut Lano Hill and Tedric Thompson, those wastes of fucking (roster) space. I’d also love it if we maybe made a low-level trade for another nickel corner, if Amadi doesn’t work out. See if we can find the next Justin Coleman.

More than anything, I guess we just need the secondary to improve on their own, because I can’t envision the Seahawks making wholesale changes or putting too many resources into this area, when there are other more-pressing concerns.

Tomorrow, we’ll look at all the holes on offense, where I’m concerned a lot of our free salary cap space will end up going.

I’m No Good At Titles & The Seahawks Won Their Wildcard Matchup Against The Eagles

I had this weekend ALL wrong!

I’ll tell you this much: I legitimately thought the Saints were one of the top two teams in the NFC and that they were going to KILL the Vikings. For what it’s worth, if that was Vikings at Seahawks, I still think Seattle prevails, but the outcome has me thinking twice a little bit. Maybe the Saints are Playoff Cursed?

No matter, because the Seahawks went into Philly and came out on top, just like we all knew they would, right guys?! We’re all on the right side of history in this argument!

I will say this much: I’m VERY happy that the Vikings did win, because I would MUCH rather they be cannon-fodder for the 49ers next week over us. I think the 49ers win that game by three scores EASILY; they’re super healthy across the board, well-rested, and have a team flying halfway across the country on a short week with a quarterback who is 1 for a million in big games (happy for Cousins and all that, but one win doesn’t automatically wipe out his entire broken reputation).

Anyway, let’s tarry no further and talk about this Eagles game. In a lot of ways, it went according to expectations; but a few key spots were totally unpredictable.

Let’s start here; I feel like I need to get an “I Told You So” out of the way to boost my confidence: the Seahawks’ rushing attack was truly abysmal. If you take away Wilson’s scrambling (which he could have in most every game if he really wanted), the Seahawks’ running backs (Homer primarily, Lynch secondarily, and Turbin never) ran 17 times for 19 yards and a touchdown. Homer had one 12-yard rush; his other 10 carries went for a combined 0 yards. Lynch had that one MAMMOTH 5-yard TD rush, but even Beastmode could only muster 2 additional yards on his subsequent 5 carries.

Fletcher Cox easily made the biggest impact for the Eagles and it’s not even close; he was the second-most important player in this game behind Jadeveon Clowney (who we’ll get to later). It obviously hurt the Seahawks to be out Duane Brown (replaced by George Fant), Mike Iupati (replaced by Jamarco Jones), and Justin Britt (replaced by Joey Hunt), but even D.J. Fluker was getting pushed around (or, at best, stonewalled) by Cox and his wrecking crew on that front four. I’ve always known Cox was great, but MAN was he impressive in this one; he was a man possessed, and he didn’t seem to take a single play off. As a Seahawks blogger, I don’t tend to write a lot about opposing players, but I have to tip my cap to him; he almost single-handedly ruined the Seahawks’ season.

The Seahawks scored 17 points, so obviously the offense didn’t do a whole helluva lot, but there were three key aspects to the Seahawks’ success:

  1. The Seahawks didn’t turn the ball over
  2. The Seahawks were 8/15 on third down
  3. Russell Fucking Wilson

There were actually no turnovers in this game, period (which was odd, considering the start, where both offenses put the ball on the turf only to recover their own fumbles), so even one bad throw or mis-handled snap could’ve really swung the entire season. I hate to say it (especially considering Homer almost bonered it in the first possession), but NOT having Chris Carson might’ve made all the difference! Look, I love the guy as much as anyone, but he CLEARLY never fixed his fumbling problem (he had three in his first three games of the season, was clean for a while, then had a 3-game stretch where he lost the ball 4 times – but the opposing team only recovered 1 of them, which is pretty fortunate).

The success on third down was doubly-great because we were in 3rd & Long so many times! Some of that was luck/poor tackling on the Eagles’ part, but most of that was Russell Wilson flat out making plays. So, let’s get to him.

325 yards on 18/30 (for a 10.8 average) with a TD and a 108.3 passer rating. Add on 45 rushing yards on 9 scrambles, and we’re talking about the guy who was once the frontrunner for the MVP this season. He wasn’t perfect; there was an overthrow here and there, but he was as close to it as you can get.

It really sunk in as you watched some of these quarterbacks this weekend (and ESPECIALLY throughout the season): if it’s 3rd & 18 or whatever, and the Seahawks have Josh Allen or Ryan Tannehill or maybe 85% of the mediocre-to-crappy quarterbacks in this league, they’re either running a draw play or a screen pass to the running back, getting anywhere from 5-10 yards, and punting. Now, say what you will about the play calling (it was growing more and more alarming every time the Seahawks ran the ball after a penalty on 2nd & 20, I’ll admit it), but we’re not afraid to put the ball in Wilson’s hands when we’re behind the sticks, our backs are against the wall, and we need an incredible play. He’s the reason why you pay a quarterback $30+ million per season. He’ll get the job done when 90-95% of the rest of the league will fail in those same situations.

It was a low-key special performance by Wilson that will largely be forgotten to the sands of time, especially when you factor in this was D.K. Metcalf’s Coming Out Party.

I’ve been extremely high on Metcalf ever since we drafted him. Most talent evaluators (including the other 31 teams in the league) focused on the negatives in his repertoire, but I’ve known all along that his skillset fits this team and this quarterback perfectly. As has been discussed, his rookie season was largely a success, but there have been plenty of ups & downs. This was the first time he really put everything together and showed a glimpse of what he could become: a flat-out superstar in the NFL. 7 catches on 9 targets, 160 yards and a touchdown. The TD was incredible – a 53-yard catch, stumble, get-back-up, and barrel into the endzone – but his game-sealing 36-yard reception on 3rd & 10, with the Eagles holding only 1 time out on the wrong side of the 2-minute warning, was the reason you brought him in here in the first place. One-on-one coverage, no safeties deep, you absolutely need to convert that to win the game, otherwise you punt it away for the chance to tie, and he high-pointed the ball and came down with the W. Simply outstanding.

I was probably least-sure about the Seahawks’ defense in this one, but this was a classic performance by these guys.

Clowney was a total difference-maker; we haven’t seen him play this well since the 49ers game in Week 10. He filled up the stat sheet with 5 tackles, a sack, 2 tackles for loss, and one very memorable quarterback hit.

You can’t talk about this game without talking about Carson Wentz getting injured in the first quarter, leaving the game with a head injury, being replaced by a 40 year old Josh McCown who came out of retirement to be this team’s backup. We’ll never know if the Eagles would’ve won with Wentz in there for the full game, but I have to imagine at the very least that he would’ve found a way to at least get them in the endzone one time. As it stands, McCown was okay, but he was clearly over his skis; he threw for 174 yards on 18/24 passing and most importantly 0 turnovers. But, he also suffered 6 of the 7 sacks the Seahawks got in this one (after we had the second-fewest in the league in the regular season) and was clearly a little gimpy, having to run for his life most of the day.

The Seahawks’ pass rush really showed up on a day the team desperately needed it. It wasn’t any one man, either, as 6 different guys combined for the 7 total. Of course, that was a byproduct of the Eagles also suffering a number of injuries on their O-Line, but clearly the Seahawks were better able to cope (as Wilson only had the one).

Seattle has Wilson and that’s a definite leg up over the rest of the NFC, but we’ll only go as far as this defense can take us, and that means having all of our key guys healthy and playing at the top of their games. Clowney sure showed up. Bobby Wagner showed why he’s yet again an All Pro this season. And, Quandre Diggs – first game back since his high ankle sprain – showed why he’s so important to this defense. The longest reception by an Eagles player went for 32 yards to Ertz, but there was nothing over the top, and obviously they never saw the endzone. We’ll never know for sure how many of the sacks were due to tight coverage, but it’s definitely a non-zero number. Diggs allows McDougald to play more closely to the line of scrimmage, to help out in defending the run as well as covering those two great tight ends.

I want to shout out Cody Barton, as he was a guy I highlighted as a major concern before the game. For as much as this team plays base defense – and indeed, he was in there for 75% of the Seahawks’ snaps – he showed why this team loved him throughout the pre-season. He had a sack, 1.5 tackles for loss, and two passes defended in this one as well as an additional QB hit. I saw him do nothing but make play after play, as he finally had a full week to practice at one spot, and this team coached him up to their fullest abilities. If he continues to show out like he did in this one, there’s no doubt he’ll be starting for this defense in 2020.

As I said before, this was a classic defensive performance: bend, don’t break, lots of aggressive penalties, but ultimately keeping the inferior offense out of the endzone and keeping them at 0 for 2 on fourth down (both deep in Seattle territory, on back-to-back possessions in the fourth quarter). This is a similar (but obviously not the exact same, due to injuries) defense that let Brett Hundley march down the field on them in that fakakta Cardinals game, so it was nice to see them stand up when it mattered most.

It all sets us up for the best-possible scenario for the Seahawks, given the circumstances. We avoid the 49ers in the Divisional Round, which I’ve argued all along is of utmost importance. Now, Green Bay is obviously no slouch – and certainly the talking points around Seahawksland will be their terribly-easy schedule this season – but with Aarons Rodgers & Jones, Davante Adams, and a better-than-you’d-think defense, that team is balanced and experienced and, most importantly, at home.

I’m still pretty convinced that the Seahawks will lose in this one, but I’m more willing to give us a chance to score the upset than I would be if we’re going to Santa Clara. Make no mistake, I obviously believe the Seahawks COULD beat the 49ers (we obviously did it once on their home field, and should’ve beaten them twice this season), but it would be too difficult in this particular round of the playoffs: the 49ers are at full strength, with a week off, while we just played a brutal game against a very physical team all the way across the country. If we were to shock the world and upend the Packers, I’d give us a 50/50 shot at beating the 49ers in the Championship Game.

But, to get there, we have to beat a different very good, healthy, well-rested team at home. It’s never easy to win in Green Bay, and it’s especially not easy to beat them there in January. Knocking Aaron Rodgers out of the game almost certainly won’t be on the table, so here’s to hoping there’s a little Russell Wilson Magic left in the tank (we hopefully didn’t need to use it all up in that Eagles game).

How Did The Seahawks Rookies Do In 2019?

Teams who do it the right way tend to acquire their best pieces through the draft, and fill in where they have to through trades and free agency. The trades and signings can be flashy and exciting, but we’ve been burned by those enough times to be wary. If the hopes of a fanbase could be dished out in a pie chart, I’d argue the bigger slice of our hope lies in the team’s draft picks. Sure, it’d be nice if that free agent signing panned out, but more often than not the Seahawks are picking guys from the fringes, so the names are less sexy and the chances of them really blowing us away are reduced. We NEED these draft picks to turn into something useful, because we know that’s the way the Seahawks roll.

The trouble with draft picks is pretty obvious. They’re young. They’re inexperienced. They’re often overwhelmed by the size and speed and talent disparity between the pros and college. And, the main pitfall – when it comes to the fans – is projecting newly made draft picks into significant roles. High profile home runs tend to skew our thinking. Bobby Wagner and Russell Wilson came in right away and played HUGE roles in turning this franchise around! Ergo, every rookie picked in the first three rounds should start right away and light the league on fire! And, particularly with the Seahawks, and their success rate with guys picked on the final day of the draft, we see some names and hear some stories from mini camp, and we automatically start penciling guys in for Pro Bowls and All Pros before they’ve played a real down in anger.

I don’t have a great read on how Seahawks fans feel about the 2019 class. On the one hand, you could paint a very rosy picture based on D.K. Metcalf alone. He was selected at the very end of the second round, he came in and started right away, and he was a hit! 900 yards on 58 receptions, with 7 touchdowns. Hell, he was the second-most targeted receiver on this team with 100 (Lockett had more targets, but only by 10)! There were obviously some tough games for Metcalf this year, but the good FAR outweighs the bad, and his arrow is pointed straight up going forward. The sky is the limit for this kid; he’s been the young, big receiver we’ve been looking for since Pete Carroll got here in 2010.

So, that’s fantastic, right? Particularly in a season where we had to learn to live without Doug Baldwin. But, what about the rest of the class?

I don’t know about you, but the first thing I think of when I think of a rookie draft class is the first round pick. For this one, that’s L.J. Collier, and he’s brought absolutely nothing to the table. He’s officially listed as having played in 11 games this year, but even that number feels high. He hasn’t had any significant injuries during the regular season (that I can recall, anyway), but he did have an ankle injury in the pre-season that cost him a considerable amount of practice time. Which effectively cost him his entire rookie year, because when he hasn’t been a healthy scratch on gameday, he’s been so buried on the depth chart that he hasn’t made any impact whatsoever. 3 tackles. That’s his 2019 stat sheet.

I won’t call Collier a disaster, because quite frankly we don’t know what he is yet. He wasn’t particularly lauded for his pass rushing ability out of college – noted more for his run defense – but it’s discouraging that he still wasn’t able to do anything with even the few opportunities he was given. That’s not a good sign for things to come! Also, this Seahawks defense has really struggled against the run – especially towards the end of the season, when you might have expected someone like Collier to make a jump in his development – so the fact that he’s not helping in this area is ALSO not a good sign for things to come.

The one caveat I’ll pull out here is that Pete Carroll and Co. tend to have a blind spot when it comes to some of the younger guys. Remember in 2018, when the team was slow to realize that Chris Carson should be the bellcow back for this team? And it took some time to make the shift in their scheme? I would argue that Carroll is like most coaches, he’s going to go with the known quantity all things being equal. Yes, “Always Compete” and all that, but sometimes you can’t see what’s right in front of you if you’re not expecting anything to be there.

Even that, though, falls somewhat on the player. Collier obviously isn’t flashing. He’s not making any huge impact plays in practice, so he’s not as involved in games, and it’s a continuous cycle of disappointment. These same points could be made for the rest of the guys I’m going to write about below.

Let’s move on to Marquise Blair, the second round safety picked ahead of Metcalf. He might go down as one of the more frustrating aspects of the 2019 season. The fact that he hasn’t played more – he was originally behind Tedric Thompson, and of late has been bafflingly sat in favor of Lano Hill – is particularly galling. It’s not even an argument that Blair has the brighter future and higher upside than either of those two draft busts from 2017, but I would also argue that he’s better than them RIGHT NOW. Or, at the very least, he couldn’t be any worse, while actually having the capability to make real impactful plays on the field (rather than giving up huge chunks of yardage to opposing receivers). I know the best two safeties on this roster are McDougald and Diggs, but Blair should be #3 on that list and it’s ridiculous the longer he’s not.

Cody Barton was a third round pick. As a linebacker, he was brought into a situation where the Seahawks were arguably strongest on paper. Three quality veterans sat ahead of him, and we always knew it was going to be a challenge to get him on the field. It’s not a bad consolation prize to sit, learn from the best, and get your feet wet on special teams. Considering the age at the position, we all had him pegged as someone to compete for a starting job in 2020. And, with the talk out of camp being nothing but glowing praise for this kid, I think we all expected to get someone really special in Barton. Every time I turned around in August, I was reading about Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright talking about how smart and instinctual Barton is; they made it sound like if he were on any other team, he’d be starting immediately.

In recent weeks, as some of our starters have worn down, we’ve seen Barton in there on defense. And … ehh, he’s been all right, I guess. I dunno, I haven’t seen any quality plays out of him yet. To be fair, he’s effectively had to be the understudy for all three linebacker spots – as opposed to specializing at his best spot, which is probably weak-side – so I could see how that might stunt one’s growth. But, again, not a great sign. Also, not for nothing, but I remember in 2018 hearing nothing but good things out of the mouths of Wright and Wagner when it came to Tedric Thompson in training camp, and look at how he turned out. Either these guys will say they love everyone, or they have no concept of who is actually going to pan out.

Fourth round receiver Gary Jennings was one of three receivers we drafted in 2019; he was a healthy scratch for a number of weeks, until we signed Josh Gordon and had to waive one of them. Jennings was the odd man out. We were hoping to sneak him onto the practice squad, but the Dolphins swooped in and claimed him. It doesn’t look like he ever made it into a game, and ended up getting placed on IR.

Fourth round guard Phil Haynes hasn’t played either, to my knowledge. He’s had injury issues to get over, and now looks to be a backup at an oft-injured O-Line spot. So, he gets an incomplete, but to be fair, no one was expecting him to play a lot as a rookie lineman.

Fourth round DB Ugo Amadi is another guy where it’s frustrating how little he’s played, especially when you consider how lights out he’s been on special teams. And ESPECIALLY when you consider how poor our pass defense has been at times this year. To be honest, I still don’t have a good handle on whether he’s a safety or a nickel corner or both. He was SUPPOSED to be converted to a nickel corner from safety, and that just so happened to be an area of need for this team heading into the season. But, instead we opted to play an unsustainably high percentage of plays in base defense, with Kendricks over anyone else. And, when we HAVE played nickel, we’ve opted for duds like Jamar Taylor over Amadi. Again, I don’t know what that says about Amadi’s skill vs. the coaching staff’s blind spot, but it’s not encouraging.

Ben Burr-Kirven was pegged coming in as a special teamer, so in that sense he’s lived up to his billing. When we already drafted a similar linebacker in the third round, you had to figure Barton always had a leg-up to be the next guy on the field in base defense, so there’s nothing surprising or really noteworthy here. Also, not for nothing, but Demarcus Christmas was always pegged as a longshot project as a sixth round defensive tackle. He’s been hurt most of the year and ended up on IR, so we’ll see if he has anything in the tank for 2020.

Travis Homer was another sixth round pick, and someone I had kind of hoped we’d see more of. But, the Seahawks had room on their roster to house C.J. Prosise (who, to his credit, stayed relatively healthy for MOST of the season, before going out in that Arizona game), and when you’re talking about a team like the Seahawks (where offensive possessions are at a premium), you’re not going to find many opportunities to get a fourth-string running back any snaps.

However, as the top three guys all went down, Week 17 ended up being the Travis Homer Show! Against the 49ers, he had 10 carries for 62 yards and another 5 receptions for 30 yards. He’s also been – as expected – another standout on special teams. I don’t think he’ll ever be a bellcow type back for this team, but as a #2, and a 3rd down/2-minute back, he would seem to fit right in. Honestly, behind Metcalf, Homer has been the second-best 2019 draft pick so far and it’s not particularly close. I can legitimately envision a role for Homer going forward; I don’t know if I can say that about anyone else besides Metcalf.

Finally, we have John Ursua. The seventh round wide receiver out of Hawaii where we actually traded a 2020 draft pick to get back into the 2019 draft and get him. He was never going anywhere; when we had that receiver crunch (at one point, rostering 8 of our 53 players at the position, which is insane), I knew it would be Ursua over Jennings. You can’t give up that much and let the guy go to another team. Anyway, he’s been a healthy scratch for 15/16 games. Due to attrition, he finally made it into a game against the 49ers, catching his only target for 11 yards. It’s kind of a shame he hasn’t gotten more play than he has, especially when we’ve seen plenty of targets go to David Moore, Jaron Brown, and Malik Turner; but Ursua doesn’t play special teams, so it’s honestly surprising he made it onto this roster in the first place.

That would lead me to believe we have someone potentially special in Ursua. Here’s to hoping he gets more of a shot in 2020.

When you lay it all out like that, the 2019 Draft Class feels like a bust … when you ONLY count the 2019 season. There’s obviously limitless potential in the future for any number of these guys, and we’ll all be pegging our hopes and dreams on significant leaps in development in Years 2, 3, & 4. But, as far as the impact they’ve had AS rookies, it’s been D.K. Metcalf and that’s about it.

Which is why, in recent seasons, I’ve drastically reduced my expectations for incoming rookies, and I’d suggest everyone else do the same. It’s just too hard to make that jump in a vacuum. Then, add into it where the Seahawks usually draft (toward the ends of rounds, because we usually make the playoffs), and the fact that we’re always in contention for playoff spots (meaning we don’t have a lot of opportunities to showcase our rookies, because we don’t have very many holes on our roster), and it’s a tough situation to break into. The fact of the matter is – regardless of team – most rookies won’t out-play healthy veterans. The bad teams tend to play a higher percentage of rookies right away because they’re looking to rebuild, and they don’t have any expectations to make the playoffs right away. The Seahawks aren’t one of those bad teams, which is a very good thing.

The final question I have to ask myself is: where do I see this class going in 2020-2022?

It’ll certainly be known as the D.K. Metcalf class, but will anyone else step up? I have no real expectations for Collier. They tried to put a Michael Bennett comp on him coming out of college, but that sounds as far-fetched as it gets. Even Frank Clark is too high a bar to place on him. Could he be the next Quinton Jefferson? Maybe, but even that might be too good; and remember, Q-Jeff was selected in the fifth round, not the first. Lawrence Jackson is probably the floor here, and it wouldn’t shock me in the slightest if Collier is Lo-Jack 2.0.

I’m still pretty high on Blair; I’d like to see him get a legitimate shot to start in 2020. I’m less high (but still fairly high) on Barton; I’d like to see what he looks like when we stick him at just one linebacker spot and let him work on his craft there. I think Homer can be a very solid #2 running back for this team (what that means for Penny and Carson, I have no idea, but both are coming off significant injuries, so the opportunity should be there regardless). And, I still like Ursua as a dark-horse #3 receiver in the near future; here’s hoping he hits it off with Russell Wilson in the offseason.

Beyond those guys, I have no real expectations. Ugo Amadi should fight for a nickel cornerback spot. The rest feel like depth pieces.

Thankfully, your fate isn’t determined by your rookie season alone. A lot can change in the next three years. It’ll be fun to see who steps up. Sometimes it takes three full years of fighting before you bust through in your final season on the rookie deal! Those scenarios aren’t ideal, of course, as you’re really only getting one season of cheap production before you either have to pay them a lot of money or watch them walk to another franchise. But, it’s better than nothing I guess.

The Seahawks Can Be Legitimate Super Bowl Contenders

Last week, I prattled on and on about why the Monday Night game would be so important for the Seahawks’ chances. Ultimately, I believed that the Seahawks SHOULD be making a push for an NFL championship, but their defense would be their downfall.

What this blog post presupposes is … maybe the defense is okay?

It’s a lot more fun living in a world where the Seahawks are 8-2. It’s not ideal, but when have we ever had an ideal Seahawks season? Even in 2013, our biggest obstacle was right in our own (relative) back yard with the 49ers; here we go again.

The best part is, everything I wrote about the 49ers last week is still true; they’re still heading into – BY FAR – the toughest stretch of their schedule. And, now they’re heading into it with a loss under their belts. It’s not remarkably easier for the Seahawks, so I’m not clapping my hands together in a job well done – there’s still a lot of work to do in our own garden – but it’s far easier to foresee a scenario where the Seahawks and 49ers are playing for both a division title and a Top 2 seed in the NFC in Week 17. In a game that Seattle will host, that will almost certainly be flexed to the 5pm time slot.

There’s still so much to unpack from that Monday Night game that I didn’t really touch on. For starters, either team would’ve been lucky to come out of there with a win; really, if a game ever deserved to end in a tie, it was probably that one. I tend to focus on all the things the Seahawks did to try to throw that game away – Wilson’s interception, D.K.’s fumble, Penny’s fumble, Wilson’s fumble-turned-Ifedi’s-fumble-turned-49ers’-touchdown, the interceptions Wright and Wagner and Flowers (off the top of my head) dropped that could’ve sealed the victory – but there were tons of things the 49ers did wrong that should’ve sealed the deal (and eventually DID seal the deal) for the Seahawks (again, those near-picks, Clowney’s fumble return for a TD, the other Jimmy G fumble, the countless drops from his receivers who were afraid of getting punished by our hard-hitting safeties, and of course the missed field goal in overtime). One thing that’s tough to shake is what that game would’ve looked like if Kittle was healthy, or if Sanders had played the entire game (take nothing away from the Seahawks on that one, because our guys were hitting HARD on defense).

And that gets me back to the point of this BYE-week post. The Defense. My personal whipping boy pretty much all year. From the beginning, I’ve held the opinion that this side of the ball would get better as the season progressed, and that when we get into this very stretch we’re in right now, we’d be looking at something downright respectable! Well, if I’d only listened to September-Me, I wouldn’t have to backtrack so much abuse I’ve heaped upon these guys in the last few weeks.

Now, of course, some of them deserve it. Ezekiel Ansah looks beyond washed up. I think Pete Carroll said he’s undersized from the weight he was at in his prime, but he looks overweight and slow to me, so something doesn’t check out. Clearly, he wasn’t able to work out the way he would’ve liked this past offseason, with the injury he was recovering from, and it shows on the field. He’s a ZERO, bringing absolutely nothing to the table. At this point, he’s blocking someone like Shaquem Griffin, who HAS to have a higher immediate upside in the pass rushing department.

I loved that move, by the way. I thought it was the most inspired thing the Seahawks have done on defense all year. Jadeveon Clowney was a man possessed against the 49ers, and an obvious choice for Defensive Player of the Week; that might be the best single defensive performance we see in the NFL all year! But, he’s been rock solid all season; he’s also been the benefactor of near-constant double teaming by opposing offenses, and rightly so. He’s obviously the only guy on the Seahawks’ D-line that anyone has to worry about, so shifting protection his way SHOULD be priority number 1 for most teams. With Ansah doing nothing, combined with Rasheem Green, Quinton Jefferson (who’s also been battling injuries most of the year), and anyone else you’ve put opposite Clowney (L.J. Collier, where you at?), I mean, the Seahawks had to do SOMETHING. Shaquem Griffin has been languishing on Special Teams his entire career, he was a primary pass rusher in college, why not at least give him a shot?

And, I get it, he’s probably a liability against the run. So, don’t put him in those situations. I hate to say it, but maybe be a little more predictable! Just use Griffin on 3rd downs and in otherwise obvious pass rushing situations. Let him use his speed off the edge to try to – if not get to the quarterback – at least redirect him in the pocket. Make him move around, get off his spot, delay his throw, and hopefully miss his intended target. Sacks aren’t the be-all, end-all in pass rushing.

Anything is better than what we’ve been seeing out of this defense, which has been a lot of quarterbacks with enough time to make giant party subs in their respective pockets!

I don’t know if Griffin is the solution, but he’s a step in the right direction. With Clowney playing at a D-POY level, I don’t think you NEED the other guys to be superstars; you just need them to be competent and improve week-by-week. Jarran Reed coming back and getting into the swing of things certainly helped against the 49ers. That, in turn, helped the play of Poona Ford and Al Woods; the more teams have to worry about Reed, the more that’s going to open things up for the other tackle next to him. Hopefully, this will all lead to the younger guys opposite Clowney to incrementally improve, to the point where they’re making an actual noticeable impact by season’s end.

Another one of my whipping boys has been Bobby Wagner, and the linebackers in general. Mostly, I’m lamenting the lack of huge impact plays by these guys. They’re doing everything else they’re supposed to do, but we haven’t really seen them flash all too often. There’s been a play here and there from Kendricks. Wagner finally started to assert himself more against the 49ers. Wright still looks like someone who’s probably on his final legs, and I’d like to see Cody Barton mixed in there a bit more to at least see what we have in him. But, for the most part, Wright is one of this team’s primary leaders, and he’s not going anywhere, at least not this year.

And, for the first time all year, there’s actual reason for hope when it comes to the secondary. Shaquill Griffin is still playing at an elite level, so no worries there. Quandre Diggs made his debut and looked fantastic! I guess he got the start at free safety, but he was hitting dudes out there like a strong safety. Combined with a healthy Bradley McDougald, I think that could really settle things down in the defensive backfield; here’s hoping they can just stay out there. Tre Flowers still has room to improve, and I keep feeling like it’s going to break out for him any game now. The nickel is still a huge area of concern, so the team is going to have to coach guys up and scheme this problem into irrelevance.

All year, everyone’s been saying that we don’t expect this defense to return to its L.O.B. roots. With how great the offense is, just Middle of the Road would be fine! Teams constructed like this – with a smart coaching staff behind them – can ABSOLUTELY win championships! We’ve seen worse defenses than this one go all the way. But, a little improvement never hurt anyone.

The 49ers game was the best this defense has played all year; if we can stay right around that level, the sky is the limit.

There were calls from the more optimistic sect of Seahawks fans prior to the 49ers game calling for fans to lighten up. I believe Hawkblogger himself said it’s okay to believe. I wasn’t there with him; the 49ers looked too daunting. Turns out they’re human, like all the teams in the NFL. In that respect, the Seahawks are as good as any of the contenders out there. I’m ready to finally start believing. I won’t make us frontrunners; but we’re as good or better than the 49ers, Saints, Packers, Cowboys, and any other NFC team you throw our way.

The Seahawks are IN this thing! It’s gonna be a fun final six weeks.

A Flip Of A Coin Decided The Seahawks Vs. Bucs Game

I mean, let’s be real here. The Seahawks’ defense wasn’t going to stop anything the Bucs threw at them. If they’d won the overtime coin flip, they would’ve marched right down the field and scored a touchdown, and we’d all be bitching and moaning about how Russell Wilson never got a chance to touch the ball in overtime. There’d be the side that just wants to watch good QBs get a chance to be clutch in the extra period, and there’d be the other side that would (correctly) argue that a defense should be able to keep the other team out of the endzone for a chance to deserve a possession in this scenario.

Funny how I haven’t heard too many arguments from the national media lamenting the fact that Jameis Winston never got a chance to touch the ball in overtime. Because that guy’s trash, but much like Matt Schaub the week before, we made him look like a flippin’ genius!

Winston threw for 335 yards and 2 TDs and it could’ve been even better, had that receiver not run himself out of bounds in the back of the endzone in the second half. I don’t know how he managed to do that, but it was a gift to the Seahawks and I’ll cherish it always. To be fair, Winston did have a Dave Krieg Special with his fumble (where he went to throw it, but the ball squirted backwards out of his hand), and should’ve had a pick in the endzone in the first half, but it weirdly bounced into a different receiver’s outstretched arms for a touchdown. I was waiting all day for a truly terrible decision, but it never came. Winston played well. But, he also didn’t really need to work all that hard, because his receivers were open all day.

Mike Evans should have games like this every week; I don’t understand why he isn’t the most dominant player in the NFL. I was on him (for fantasy purposes) since his rookie season; he’s truly great. In this one, he caught 12 balls for 180 yards and a touchdown. We just couldn’t cover him. Even the one time Shaquill Griffin made a seemingly great play on a ball towards his side, Evans just snatched it away and ran down field like Griffin wasn’t even there! Evans is a total stud who deserves a better quarterback like nobody’s business.

Yet, you could argue (especially since the Seahawks ended up winning) that Evans was outplayed by Tyler Lockett, who caught 13 for 152 and 2 TDs. This game went almost exactly as I predicted, with both passing attacks just FEASTING on some trash secondaries. Over 51.5 points was the easiest bet on the board all day, and I hope Vegas took a beating over that one. I don’t know who was in charge there, but that dude should be fired.

***

Anyway, for as happy as I was about Lockett, I think this was a really important turning point for D.K. Metcalf. His numbers weren’t as eye-popping (6 for 123 and a TD is nothing to sneeze at, though), but this is more of a Smell Test game for him, and he passed with flying colors. For starters, that crosser he took 53 yards to the house was a thing of beauty; it was – dare I say it – Julio Jones-esque!

But, even better was his catch in overtime. 3rd & 6 from the Tampa 35 yard line. We were clearly NOT in field goal range (more on that in a bit) and everything about this screamed 4-Down Territory. I don’t think you throw a deep back-shoulder fade like this without knowing that you’re DEFINITELY going for it on fourth down. We might never know the answer, but it didn’t matter, because Metcalf made a phenomenal play on the ball and managed to land in bounds to pretty much seal the victory. This came on the same day where he got pushed out of bounds without getting his second foot down to kill a drive and you couldn’t help thinking that was a rookie mistake in a rookie season chock full of rookie mistakes.

This was easily Metcalf’s best game as a pro, and it couldn’t have come at a more opportune time. For starters, it came in the same week the Seahawks claimed Josh Gordon, who from a talent perspective feels like an older version of Metcalf (I’ll do a full write-up on the Gordon deal later this week). But, while Metcalf has always been featured pretty heavily as this team’s #2 receiver, it’s been very spotty. Heading into this one, he’d only caught 23 of his 45 targets, and you had to wonder if the pre-draft haters were at least a little on the nose with him. Granted, a lot of the balls thrown to him are 50/50 balls with a guy all over him, but he’s 6’4, 229 pounds, that’s what he’s here for is to catch the majority of those deep 1-on-1 passes. Well, I’ll be interested to see how the rest of his season shakes out from here, because that catch in overtime was the biggest of his career to date. Regardless, the more times he comes up big in big moments, the better it should prove to be for his career in Seattle. I thought there was a better-than-decent chance that D.K. Metcalf could turn into a superstar when the Seahawks drafted him (his size, his raw talent, the fact that he dropped so far in the draft and the resultant chip on his shoulder, and the nature of this offense being one very suited for his skillset), and given his season to date (29 catches, 525 yards, 5 touchdowns) I think we’re well on our way. Paired with Lockett, we could be talking about two of the very best receivers in all of football in a couple years.

***

All those words and we haven’t talked about the other breakout player from this one: Jacob Hollister! What an absolutely fascinating career he’s had to date. He was originally a quarterback in high school, and was Oregon’s 5A player of the year. He was set to go to college in Nevada, but ended up transferring both schools and his position to tight end.

He went undrafted, but signed on with the Patriots as a rookie in 2017 and played the full season as the team’s third tight end. Feels like the perfect situation, right? He was injured for much of 2018 and had to be placed on IR. But, you had to figure, with Gronk retiring after last season, this would’ve been his time to move up the depth chart.

Instead, the Patriots traded him to the Seahawks for a 2020 7th round pick, which at this point looks like the steal of the century. Bill Belichick doesn’t get fleeced like this! He’s the one doing the fleecing!

Yet, Seahawks fans had to wonder heading into this season, as Hollister found himself on the Practice Squad, behind the likes of Will Dissly, Nick Vannett, George Fant, Luke Willson, and eventually Ed Dickson when he returns from IR. I’m honestly – first – surprised that Hollister even qualified for the Practice Squad (I don’t totally understand the rules there, and quite frankly I don’t WANT to understand). Secondly, I’m surprised he wasn’t picked up by another team (you would’ve figured many teams – but particularly Miami or Detroit, who have head coaches familiar with him – would’ve been more than willing to bring in a former Patriots tight end, with their pedigree at finding talent at the position). Maybe he was about to be claimed, because the Seahawks promoted him just ahead of the Cleveland game, which was fortuitous with Dissly getting injured on that very day.

The Seahawks have been undermanned at tight end ever since, as we’ve waited for Ed Dickson to return to game shape (he should be back in the next week or two), with only two true tight ends on the roster in Willson and Hollister (with Fant as the proverbial blocking tight end, who has actually had to fill in more at the regular offensive line spots with injuries to Duane Brown in recent weeks). Willson is a known commodity, but Hollister has been a fascinating player to watch develop over the last few weeks. He didn’t do a whole lot in his first couple of games against Baltimore and Atlanta (combining for 5 receptions and 38 yards), but he exploded in this one with 4 catches, 37 yards, and 2 touchdowns (including the game-winner in overtime). You had to feel great for him as he was hoisted on the shoulders of his teammates during the celebration.

I guess the knock on him is his blocking? I dunno. Anyone’s better than Jimmy Graham, I suppose, so maybe that’s why it hasn’t bugged me too much. Anyway, with Hollister, Willson, and Dickson when he returns, tight end should be a cool position of strength for this team at just the right time. I’m glad the Seahawks didn’t panic and make a deal at the deadline for an O.J. Howard or something, because we wouldn’t have had this great moment.

***

It feels criminal I’ve gone this long without talking about our MVP. Russell Wilson threw for 378 yards (8.8 yards per attempt) and 5 touchdowns against 0 interceptions. That brings his season numbers through 9 games to 2,505 yards, 22 passing touchdowns, and only 1 interception. It’s now just a two-man race between Wilson and Lamar Jackson for the MVP Award, and I think it’ll be neck-and-neck between the two the rest of the way, assuming both teams keep winning and looking impressive on offense.

Wilson generally had all day to throw, which deserves some kudos for the O-Line. They also did their best in the run game (against the best run defense in football) in helping us go 22 for 145 on the ground (including Carson’s 105 yards, much of which came on his manly-man 59 yard run).

You take the good with the bad though, and Carson had two more fumbles in this game (one of which luckily went out of bounds on that 59 yard scamper). He’ll be in the final year of his rookie deal in 2020, and there’s already rumblings that he might hold out or otherwise demand an extension. But, with all of his fumbling issues (on top of his prior injury history), I just don’t see how you can trust him with a big-money contract. Maybe if he plays out his deal, has another big year, and finds a way to fix his fumbling problem, you could consider it. But, right now, I think he’s costing himself millions of dollars every time he puts the ball on the turf, and a smart team would just let him walk and continue to plow resources into the position through the draft.

***

I’ve said all I can say about the offense, so let’s talk about the defense.

That’s 34 points and 418 total yards. The Bucs were 7/15 on 3rd/4th downs. The Seahawks got a couple sacks, which was a couple more than they usually get, and the Bucs only averaged 3.8 yards per carry (“only”). But, I just don’t know. There really isn’t a way to fix this. Our pass rush just gets locked up on every damn passing play. We try to counter by doing stunts, but that just leaves gaping holes for the quarterback to run through for huge gains. We blitz, it gets picked up; we rush four, huge pocket for the QB; we rush three, the other team has all fucking day to throw the ball.

The Bucs were always well-suited to make this one a game though. Elite passing offense, a head coach in Bruce Arians who knows our team very well and has had a lot of success with his Cardinals coming into Seattle and prevailing. And that defensive line – even without Gerald McCoy – is a fucking monster. I always believed in Vita Vea since his days at the University of Washington, but boy is he a load! Husky defensive tackles don’t always pan out in the NFL, but he looks like the best of the bunch so far!

As I said before, I just don’t know, though, when it comes to the Seahawks’ defense. K.J. Wright looks seriously slow and old. The Seahawks need to start working Cody Barton into the scheme more. And, while Bobby Wagner finally got his second sack of the season, he also had one of the dumbest roughing the passer penalties I’ve ever seen. He always likes to get an unnecessary shove in there well after the ball leaves a QB’s hand, and it’s always dumb on his part (regardless of how weak the shove might’ve been; it’s 2019, figure it the fuck out already, the refs are going to protect the quarterback). That one was on third down, which turned a would-be field goal attempt into an eventual touchdown, which was at least a 4-point swing, if not a 7-pointer (had he missed the field goal, which was a distinct possibility).

***

Oh yeah, can’t leave this post without saying something about Jason Myers.

He’s awful.

Unfortunately, I don’t know what you do about it. At least a third of the NFL has issues at the kicker position. It seems like more than ever teams are shuttling kickers in and out every week. But, not every team made the big investment this past offseason like the Seahawks did. Jason Myers is here to stay, at least through his year if not through next year as well. And, again, unless there’s some college kicker who deserves to be selected in the draft, there really isn’t a lot the Seahawks can do. Stephen Hauschka isn’t walking through that door.

Jason Myers just has to get better. He needs to flush this game as soon as humanly possible and get to work on improving his accuracy. The Seahawks are too conservative at the ends of halves to not have a kicker who’s able to make a 40-yarder.

I knew as soon as the Seahawks got into Tampa territory at the end of regulation that they needed to AT LEAST move the ball another 10 yards. Why settle for a 40-yarder when you have the best quarterback in the game going up against one of the worst secondaries in the game? We still had a time out left! Chuck it down inside the red zone and let’s make this automatic! Especially on a day where Myers had struggled so savagely.

Luckily, again, the Seahawks won that overtime coin flip. Because if we hadn’t, this post would’ve been MUCH different.

I’m Cool With The Seahawks Not Making Any More Trades This Year

The trade deadline came and went yesterday, and the Seahawks were decidedly not involved.

Now, you can obviously say the Seahawks got it out of their system with the Quandre Diggs deal with the Lions last week, but rumors – as they do – were flying.

First up, Rashaad Penny was allegedly inserted into the active roster against the Falcons as a showcase of his talents, to see if we could recoup – presumably – some draft capital for someone who is increasingly looking like a reach at best and a bust at worst.

As I’ve said before, I can’t see his value being all that high, considering all the nothing he’s done as a pro. So, turning a first round pick into a future conditional seventh round pick isn’t really something I’m interested in. Buy low/sell high, not the other way around.

There was word the Seahawks might be in the market for a tight end, and naturally O.J. Howard’s name came up. He’s absolutely drowning in Tampa, as their offense hardly uses him whatsoever! But, we have Ed Dickson coming back, and it just feels like the price would be too high, particularly for a team like ours that still doesn’t throw it around as much as most teams.

The obvious need right now is on the offensive line, where we’re banged up across the board. Ethan Pocic hit the IR, and now so has Justin Britt. That leaves us with Joey Hunt and … to play center. Well, I for one believe in Hunt, and I feel like it wouldn’t be too difficult to pick up a center off the scrap heap, or teach one of our younger guys how to do it in a pinch.

Even with the trade for Diggs, you have to believe that safety is another area of need. Can Bradley McDougald get healthy and stay healthy? Will Marquise Blair take the job and run with it? And exactly how injured is Diggs in the first place? Is he EVER going to play? If not safety, then certainly nickel cornerback might be a place to look. Akeem King sure stunk the joint up last week; I don’t know if he’d be missed.

If anything, I probably would’ve been more inclined for the Seahawks to shed some of the dead weight they’ve got on the roster, to bring back even more picks (for moving up in the draft, if need be).

One thing I’m sure the Seahawks were looking to do was move David Moore. He’s been featured relatively heavily since his return from injury, but he’s done absolutely jack shit. We’ve been rostering 7 wide receivers this year, with at least two of them healthy scratches every week, which is pretty insane. Of course, we went out and drafted three guys this year, so it makes sense to want to keep them. And, Moore was only a 7th round pick, so if you got back anything higher than that it’s all gravy at this point. Metcalf is going to be a featured receiver on this team for a long time, and Tyler Lockett is a true #1, which doesn’t leave a lot of room for someone like Moore. Probably better to get some value out of him now, but I guess there wasn’t anyone willing to bite.

Finally, I wonder if the Seahawks would’ve listened to offers for Kendricks or Wright. Wright might be too old at this point, but you have to figure there’s good value for someone like Kendricks, who can do a little bit of everything. I have to believe the team wants to get Cody Barton some more playing time, regardless of position. If it meant cutting and running from one of our veteran guys to get Barton in on base defense (which would also allow this team to play more nickel like they should be doing, since nothing is getting accomplished with all this base) that probably would’ve been okay.

But, ultimately this team is going where Russell Wilson can take them, and there wasn’t anyone available who was going to take the Seahawks from the fringe playoff team that they are into a dominant Super Bowl contender they want to be. Not without completely mortgaging the future, and at this point it’s more important for the Seahawks to continue to stockpile picks and use them to draft their future superstars (particularly on defense).

Thank Christ we do have Russell, because he does legitimately make the Seahawks a contender all by himself. He’ll have to play his best down the stretch, and we’ll need luck on our side, but I’ve seen crazier things than a team as iffy as the Seahawks making the Super Bowl.

I Don’t Really Know What To Make Of That Seahawks Victory Over The Falcons

I mean, I’m definitely not impressed! I think we can all agree that was a pretty underwhelming effort – particularly in the second half – against a pretty crappy team that’s about to fire its head coach and start going through some sort of rebuild in the near future. But, at the same time, it’s another win on the road, and in the NFL that’s tough to do no matter who you play.

So, yeah, the Seahawks are 4-0 on the road. I don’t know if that’s more mystifying, or if it’s the Seahawks being 2-2 at home.

The first half of this game – that saw the Seahawks methodically climb to a 24-0 lead – was exactly what I was expecting. Matt Ryan was out, Matt Schaub was starting, he’s terrible, their defense is still somehow worse, easy peasy! The Seahawks weren’t lighting the world on fire, but we had three consecutive touchdown drives to pretty much put this one away. D.K. Metcalf had a couple of wide open catches in the endzone, and Carson plunged one over the goalline from a yard out. Nice.

Then, I dunno. I mean, it was always unrealistic for this Seahawks defense to get a shutout, but to fall apart so absolutely was truly a sight to behold. Matt Schaub threw for 460 yards! Garbage time or not, that’s ridiculous! With that quarterback, we should’ve had more than 2 sacks on the game. I know the Falcons put a lot of resources into their O-Line, but those are young guys, and we had Clowney and Ansah in there; they should’ve had no trouble beating guys off the edge!

Seattle’s offensive struggles were a little easier to understand. Justin Britt maybe did something serious to his ACL; he looks to be out for the rest of the year and maybe has played his last snap in a Seahawks uniform. He’s counting over $11 million against the cap next season – the last year of his deal – and there’s around $8 million in savings to be had there, if we opt to go with Hunt or Pocic at center going forward. On top of Britt, Duane Brown looks like he was rushed back into action – he missed a few plays when he probably should’ve just taken another week or two off to get right before the 49ers game – and Fluker looks like a step down from Jamarco Jones at right guard. I think Iupati also missed some snaps in the second half, so we were banged up across the board.

That translated into the Seahawks only having one drive that was longer than a 3 & Out in the second half. It turned out to be a game-clinching nearly 7-minute field goal drive, but it was rough sledding. The Falcons outscored Seattle 20-3 in the second half and it would’ve been a lot worse if they had more time. Julio Jones had a monster day, but all their guys were wide open throughout.

So, like I said, what do you make of this one? You probably just try not to think about it too much and move on to next week, where this defense will likely be shredded by another mediocre quarterback in Jameis Winston.

Russell Wilson had an okay day – 2 TDs on 182 passing yards with 0 INTs – but nothing that will move the needle on his MVP candidacy. Chris Carson had a pretty quiet 90 yards and a TD on a 4.5 yard average. It was rumored that Penny would be active over Prosise to try to showcase him ahead of the trade deadline this week; he boosted his stock marginally on 8 carries for 55 yards, but I can’t imagine he has anything more than a 7th round value on the trade market, which would be supremely demoralizing since we took him in the first round. I’m guessing the Seahawks wouldn’t mind giving Travis Homer a look in the backfield, but it’s hard to let Penny go for peanuts (especially knowing Prosise’s injury history, and the fact that this is the final year of his rookie deal; do you really want to extend him with free agent dollars?).

It was cool to see Metcalf get wide open for a couple easy TDs. Tyler Lockett continues to be one of the best wide receivers in all of football. But, David Moore was featured pretty extensively and caught 1 of 4 balls for 23 yards. I don’t know if this is gonna be his year; he can’t get open and he hasn’t been able to make many catches in traffic. If he can’t do either of those things, he can’t play in this offense, period.

Defensively, as I noted, there were the two sacks. The tackles for loss made an appearance, which was nice; the Falcons only ran for 69 yards on 17 carries, which is something. We forced a couple fumbles (one was at the end of the first half, with no time to do anything with it) and Mychal Kendricks had a nifty interception when he dropped into zone coverage. But, as I noted above, hard to get too excited when you give Matt Schaub 460 yards passing. Tre Flowers was out with injury, and Akeem King looked like he belongs in the XFL. Shaquill Griffin still continues to play well, but he can’t do everything.

K.J. Wright was benched briefly in this one, and Cody Barton made an appearance in the base defense. That’s definitely something to watch out for, as this team needs a spark at every level. Marquise Blair had some good plays in this one, so that’s encouraging. But, safety continues to be a triage unit with guys shuttling in and out constantly.

The good news is the Seahawks are 6-2 at the midway point in the season. The bad news is the 49ers are 7-0, and our schedule gets considerably harder in the second half of the season (including the 49ers twice, the Rams on the road, the frisky Cardinals at home, the Eagles and Panthers on the road, the Vikings on Monday Night, and the Bucs this week who could throw for 700 yards against our defense). Buckle up!

Comparing The Seahawks’ 53-Man Roster To My June Predictions

Right around the time of OTAs, I did a meaningless projection of what the Seahawks’ roster would look like for opening day. So let’s check out how wrong I was!

Quarterbacks

Projection: Russell Wilson & Geno Smith
Result: Russell Wilson & Geno Smith

So, I got the easiest one out of the way. Where’s my cookie?

Running Backs

Projection: Chris Carson, Rashaad Penny, Travis Homer, C.J. Prosise & J.D. McKissic
Result: Chris Carson, Rashaad Penny, Travis Homer, C.J. Prosise & Nick Bellore

I was THIS close. To be fair, in my projections I did talk about Bellore possibly throwing a wrench into this fight, with either Prosise or McKissic being the odd man out, and you know what they say about horseshoes, hand grenades, and roster predicting, right?

Tight Ends

Projection: Ed Dickson, Nick Vannett, Will Dissly & Jacob Hollister
Result: Nick Vannett & Will Dissly

To be fair, Dickson is on IR (designated to return after 8 weeks) and Hollister somehow made it onto the practice squad, so I’m counting this as a victory. Of sorts. We also have George Fant, who I’ve listed as an O-Lineman for the purposes of this exercise.

Wide Receivers

Projection: Tyler Lockett, D.K. Metcalf, David Moore, Jaron Brown & Keenan Reynolds
Result: Tyler Lockett, D.K. Metcalf, David Moore, Jaron Brown, Gary Jennings, Malik Turner & John Ursua

I was almost WAY off on this one, but the Seahawks did a bit of roster gymnastics this week to slide a couple guys onto the IR, while opening up the likes of Geno Smith and Jaron Brown to free agency (with the wink-wink agreement to bring them back once those IR designations were placed). It turns out the Seahawks CAN keep all of their rookie draft picks! But, Malik Turner is the one who took Keenan Reynolds’ spot (though I fully anticipate Reynolds being in the mix at some point this season, if the injury bug returns). Regardless, I wouldn’t expect this unit to be 7-deep for too much longer, but it’s an interesting group nevertheless.

Offensive Line

Projection: Duane Brown, Mike Iupati, Justin Britt, D.J. Fluker, Germain Ifedi, Ethan Pocic, Jordan Simmons, George Fant & Jamarco Jones
Result: Duane Brown, Mike Iupati, Justin Britt, D.J. Fluker, Germain Ifedi, Ethan Pocic, George Fant, Jamarco Jones & Joey Hunt

This was actually a pretty obvious unit to predict, as the veterans are here to start, and the reserves are too good to part with. Simmons got hit by the injury bug and landed on the IR which is unfortunate, but Hunt can play both center and guard (and even tackle in a super pinch), so he’s good to have around (especially with Pocic being the first guard off the bench in place of Iupati heading into week 1).

So far, with the offense, I predicted 20 out of 25, which isn’t too bad.

Punter/Kicker/Long Snapper

Projection: Michael Dickson, Jason Myers & Tyler Ott
Result: Michael Dickson, Jason Myers & Tyler Ott

Nailed it.

Secondary

Projection: Shaquill Griffin, Tre Flowers, Akeem King, Neiko Thorpe, Jeremy Boykins, Tedric Thompson, Bradley McDougald, Ugo Amadi, Marquise Blair & Lano Hill
Result: Shaquill Griffin, Tre Flowers, Akeem King, Neiko Thorpe, Parry Nickerson, Tedric Thompson, Bradley McDougald, Ugo Amadi, Marquise Blair & Lano Hill

The one I was least sold on was Boykins, and lo and behold he turns out to be my lone blemish in this area. I should’ve probably mentioned something about the Seahawks making a minor trade near the start of the regular season – like they do just about every damn year around this time – but them’s the breaks.

Defensive Line

Projection: Ziggy Ansah, L.J. Collier, Rasheem Green, Jacob Martin, Jarran Reed, Poona Ford, Al Woods & Quinton Jefferson
Result: Ziggy Ansah, L.J. Collier, Rasheem Green, Jadeveon Clowney, Poona Ford, Al Woods, Quinton Jefferson, Bryan Mone & Branden Jackson

Welp, there was no way for me to see the Jarran Reed suspension coming. Ditto the trade for Clowney. I was probably always a little light on this position in general, so it’s not totally shocking to see Jackson in there, but he’s just a rotational guy who won’t see a lot of playing time, barring injuries. I never would’ve guessed Mone in a million years though.

Linebackers

Projection: Bobby Wagner, K.J. Wright, Cody Barton, Ben Burr-Kirven, Mychal Kendricks, Shaquem Griffen & Barkevious Mingo
Result: Bobby Wagner, K.J. Wright, Cody Barton, Ben Burr-Kirven, Mychal Kendricks & Shaquem Griffen

The main reason why I was so short on the D-Line was because I essentially had Mingo as a rush end for this team. But, as the pre-season wore on, it was becoming increasingly likely that he was going to be cut (if he wasn’t somehow dealt for the best defensive end on the trade block). There was also worry that Griffen wouldn’t make it, but his value on special teams is apparently too high to part with. Nevertheless, quite the solid group.

That’s 21 out of 25 predicted on defense (with Reed coming back after 6 weeks, and a few of my other picks landing on the IR) for a total of 45/53 on the team heading into week 1 (barring any other moves later this week). My biggest stroke of genius was leaving Austin Calitro off; he very nearly made it, but was waived in recent days and picked up by Jacksonville. So, good luck to him I guess.

The 5th Most Important Seahawks Player After Russell Wilson: Bobby Wagner

Here is the Home Page for this series of posts.

HOT TAKE ALERT!

So, you’re trying to tell me there are four more important players to the Seahawks’ chances of success in 2019 than our defensive captain and All Pro middle linebacker? The glue that keeps the defense together, who busts his ass day-in and day-out to ensure we’re always in the game and that we win more than we lose?

Look, that’s what I’m telling you. And I’ve got my reasons!

First and foremost, I know I’ve said this a lot over the years, mostly because the Seahawks have been super stacked over the years at linebacker, but this might be THE MOST stacked I’ve ever seen this team at one position. I pray to our lord and savior Jesus Christ every single day that we get to see this team with its full complement of linebackers healthy and in tip-top shape, because I’m excited to see what they can all do together.

But, since I never get what I really want, I’m fully expecting one or more injuries to derail this dream, just as so many have been dashed before in my sports fandom. Thankfully, the Seahawks are better able to weather a linebacker injury storm than at any time in this franchise’s history.

The starting three figure to be Bobby in the middle, K.J. Wright in his usual weakside linebacker spot, and Mychal Kendricks on the strong side. If Bobby were to go down, then Kendricks could slide over to the middle and we wouldn’t drop off nearly as much as we have at other spots. I would argue the dropoff from Wagner to Kendricks is less than the dropoff from Earl Thomas to Bradley McDougald! It wouldn’t shock me in the slightest if we didn’t miss a beat!

Besides that, our depth at linebacker is insane. The word on Cody Barton is that he could be someone really special. Which is where things get a little tricky for me. As we all know, Bobby’s on the final year of his deal, and the team is trying to get a long-term extension done. As we’ve found out in recent years, the team has grown ever more reluctant to give non-quarterbacks a third contract. I’m a little more flexible, in that I’m okay with the right deal at the right price, but as Wagner is the best middle linebacker in the game (who is representing himself for some reason), I don’t think that’s something that’s on the table.

Nevertheless, it shouldn’t be too difficult to add two more guaranteed years on top of this one and get it over with. But, I can also see why people might not be as excited about paying both a quarterback and a linebacker at the top of their respective markets. Linebacker always seems to be a position you can get good value from young guys, and it wouldn’t shock me in the slightest if Barton was able to start from day one, and be a quality player in the middle for years to come.

Blasphemy, I know. The truth of the matter is, for 2019, this team is CLEARLY better with a healthy and happy Wagner in the middle. And, indeed, with all the struggles I anticipate in both the pass rush and our secondary, it’s those linebackers (Wagner in particular) who are going to keep things afloat. When you factor in how well he’s able to blitz and put the occasional pressure on opposing QBs, that’s just something I don’t want to miss. Better safe than sorry, let’s get this thing done, huh?

SEARCH: Seahawks OTAs 53-Man Roster Projections 2019

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

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

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

Quarterbacks

  • Russell Wilson
  • Geno Smith

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

Running Backs

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

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

Tight Ends

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

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

Wide Receivers

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

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

Offensive Line

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

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

Punter/Kicker/Long Snapper

  • Michael Dickson
  • Jason Myers
  • Tyler Ott

Enough said.

Secondary

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

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

Defensive Line

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

Linebackers

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

Linebacker/Ends

  • Shaquem Griffin
  • Barkevious Mingo

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

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

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

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

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

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