Seahawks Death Week 2022: What Moves Should Be Made

I got into what I want the Seahawks to do at quarterback yesterday, so we’ll get into the rest of the roster here.

If you look at the Seahawks’ salary cap for 2023, you’re going to find some REAL annoying shit at the top. Two safeties – Jamal Adams and Quandre Diggs – sitting #1 and #2 with our biggest cap hits, both over $18 million. It’s fucking asinine! You might be able to talk me into one safety at that kind of figure, if he’s far-and-away the best in the game. But, one guy can’t stay on the field, and the other clearly lost a step in 2022 (and even at his best he wasn’t the best).

The next two players on the list – Tyler Lockett and D.K. Metcalf – are more appropriately ranked. They’re your best wide receivers (a premium position) and they play among the best receivers in the game. Even though they’re taking up a significant portion of the salary cap, they’re still good value.

Then, you’ve got Uchenna Nwosu at around $13 million; that’s a good number for what he gave us in 2022. Figure he’ll pretty easily replicate those numbers if he stays healthy.

So, out of the top five highest paid players currently under contract for 2023, I’m happy with three of them. Not a great percentage.

They say the NFL’s middle class is dead, but I think the Seahawks are trying to remedy that in a big way. We have six guys making between $5 million and just over $12 million. This is a significant chunk of change for players who you could probably replace for minimum salaries and get production that’s just as good. Shelby Harris tops that list at just over $12 million. He was a bright spot on a very bad defensive line. But, I don’t know if he’s giving you $12 million worth of production.

Gabe Jackson is set to count just over $11 million, but he could be cut for $6.5 million in savings. That might be the way to go, considering how he is on the downside of his career. Then, you’ve got Dissly and Fant, who count for a combined $16 million against the cap. Yikes. But, we’re already committed to them, so there’s not much we can do there. Then, there’s Quinton Jefferson and Al Woods making a combined $12 million … I dunno.

It all boils down to there being around $34 million in cap space next year (and I don’t know if that counts the new contract for our kicker). Which would be entirely used up if Geno Smith returns on the franchise tag. How did we get here? We got rid of Russell Wilson, we shed a lot of dead weight, we played a lot of rookies and cheap guys … and yet we have practically nothing to work with because we’re going to have to pay Geno’s ass the bulk of it.

There are SO MANY problems with this team! I can’t even begin to comprehend how much of the defensive line needs to be replaced. The off-ball linebackers are trash, and we likely can’t even count on Jordyn Brooks to be healthy with his significant knee injury/surgery (not that I’m crazy-enamored with Brooks anyway, considering the lack of impact plays he makes in the backfield). That’s really two entire position groups that need significant revamping, but of course no money to work with (while we’re sickeningly over-paying for our two starting safeties).

I’m already on record as saying the Seahawks should cheap-out on quarterback and use every available dollar to fix the defense and the interior of the offensive line. So, asked and answered, that’s what I want the Seahawks to do in 2023.

But, since we live in the real world – where Geno Smith will most definitely be back on a 3-4 year deal – I have to come to grips with what we have to offer.

Maybe there’s ONE mid-tier free agent defensive starter we can bring in. Then, there will be the requisite dumpster diving, with all our trust falling on the draft.

My hunch is: the Seahawks will ignore the quarterback position entirely in the draft. So, high-end pass rusher at the top, maybe a trade-back or two, then pick up the following:

  • Guard/Center – somewhere in the low first, upper second round, who can step in right away and start for the next four years. Ideally, this will be the first competent center we’ve had since Max Unger
  • Safety – because we’re going to need someone to step in to start in 2024, when we likely cut both Adams and Diggs
  • Wide Receiver – we need a quality #3 receiver who isn’t Dee Eskridge, so I wouldn’t mind this guy being a second or third rounder with upside as a possession receiver
  • Defensive Tackle – a real big, burly dude to clog up the middle in this 3-4 defense
  • Inside Linebacker – probably a couple of ’em – one on day 2, one in the early part of day 3 – with good speed and play-making ability
  • Another Guard/Center – to further bolster our depth
  • The Next Brock Purdy In The 7th Round – a guy can dream, right?

Honestly, as long as we don’t bring back Cody Barton, I don’t care what else the Seahawks do with their offseason.

Seahawks Death Week: Throw All The Free Agents In A Fucking Dumpster

I have chosen to just base this blog post on the list compiled over at Field Gulls, because I’m a lazy, lazy man. At least I linked over there; credit where it’s due and all that.

I want to say I read this in the Dallas/Fort Worth airport the day after the Seahawks’ season ended, hungover as all get-out after a Saturday night wedding that lasted until the wee hours of the very day we were supposed to return home to SeaTac. So, off the top of my head, I couldn’t possibly recount all the names from memory, but I remember my thoughts at the time revolved around: what a collection of trash!

Are any of these guys worth keeping or bringing back? I dunno, man. I guess you gotta have 53 guys on your roster – and 90 heading into Training Camp – so we’re bound to see some return names. But, I didn’t see a lot of tremendous impact from these players (save one very big and obvious name) that couldn’t be replaced with superior draft picks, free agents, and other guys from the scrap heaps of other teams.

Myles Adams is the only SOMEWHAT interesting name from the Exclusive Rights Free Agents list; that seems like a paltry amount to pay to bring back a depth/rotation defensive tackle. He always seems to flash in the pre season, anyway.

There’s usually more meat on the bone among the Restricted Free Agents, but I only see one guy worth bringing back – likely on a 2nd round tender – and that’s Ryan Neal. He played at a pretty high level at safety this year. He’s a quality backup at a position of need. Assuming Jamal Adams returns (as crazy as it sounds, we’re financially stuck with him through 2023 in all likelihood), safety is GOING to be a position of need. Because there’s no point in wondering IF Jamal Adams is going to get injured, but WHEN. Can he beat going down in the very first regular season game? Has anyone babyproofed his house lately?

Beyond that, I guess you could make a case for Mike Jackson, but I wouldn’t offer him anything higher than an original round tender. He’s not a surefire starter, in spite of all the starting he did in 2022; I’d take a 5th round draft pick for him, absolutely. No one else needs to be bothered with. Penny Hart and Tanner Muse are both fine special teams guys, but they can be had without going through the whole tender rigmarole.

Most of the guys you know and “love” are unrestricted free agents. I’ll save the quarterbacks for a separate post.

Rashaad Penny and Travis Homer are both up for contracts. Penny got a nice little payday before this past season, but clearly he’s not over his injury issues. Kenneth Walker has proven to be a starting running back in this league, and while every team needs backups, I don’t see the point in making Penny one of them. For a handful of games? Let him take his talents elsewhere. As for Homer, I thought he came into 2022 in much better shape, but he’s still Just A Guy; we could draft someone in the last couple rounds and more than make up for his lost production. We still have DeeJay Dallas, and I’d take him over Homer anyday.

Marquise Goodwin and Laquon Treadwell combine to just be okay (Goodwin is solid when healthy; Treadwell is a bust). We can do better, in spite of the fact that wide receiver is very much a position of need heading into 2023.

Austin Blythe, Kyle Fuller, and Phil Haynes are the offensive linemen we’re set to lose. I’d be fine bringing none of them back, though I do see Haynes as a solid rotational guy/backup. He might want to test the waters elsewhere. Blythe and Fuller can suck it, though. Go out in the draft and pick up a bona fide starting center!

Poona Ford, L.J. Collier, and Bruce Irvin are the defensive linemen on this list. I never thought I’d see the day where I’d be okay losing Poona Ford, but he in no way, shape, or form lived up to his contract, having a particularly anonymous 2022 season. I don’t know if he’s cut out for the 3-4 defensive scheme. I also don’t know if Collier is cut out for the NFL period! Now that we have the XFL and the USFL, he should have no shortage of suitors. As for Bruce Irvin, I’d be okay bringing him back late in the pre-season as a depth piece. He shouldn’t be starting – like he was towards the end of 2022 – but as a rotational veteran, you could do a lot worse.

Fuck right off with Nick Bellore, Cody Barton, and BBK. I want upgrades at all linebacker spots on this roster – ideally through the draft – and if I never see these guys play defense for the Seahawks again, it’ll be too soon. Bring Bellore back as a special teamer if you must, but spare me this fullback playing linebacker.

Artie Burns, Justin Coleman, Josh Jones … Teez Tabor? What the fuck’s a Teez Tabor? They can all go.

Jason Myers is quite an interesting topic of conversation, actually. He came here on a 4 year, $15+ million deal and saw it through to the end. It’s kind of absurd how up and down he’s been in his career. In 2018, he was a Pro Bowler with the Jets. He signed with the Seahawks and wasn’t super great, hitting 82% of his field goals and 90% of his PATs. But, in 2020, he hit all of his field goals and 92% of his PATs. In 2021, he was downright bad, hitting only 74% of his field goals. At that point, I think every Seahawks fan was ready to wash their hands of him. However, in 2022, he jumped back up to 92% field goals made, with a high of 97% of his PATs made.

So, I don’t know what to tell ya. Based on this, he’s due to suck again in 2023. Does he deserve a raise for having another great year in a contract season? Does he deserve a reduction in pay thanks to how bad his 2021 was? Does he deserve the exact same deal? You like to think field goal kickers are easy to find, but they’re really not. Ask any team that’s struggled in this area. They’d probably back the Brinks truck up to bring in Jason Myers. I would say he’s probably worth the going rate of kickers in the top 10 in the league, but I also wouldn’t be broken up about losing him and finding a cheaper option elsewhere.

If I’m being honest, heading into this post, I was ready to declare Tyler Ott the most important Seahawks free agent of the bunch. But, I just remembered he was injured this year and didn’t play a regular season snap. So, maybe Carson Tinker is the way to go? Or maybe any ol’ fucking guy because long-snappers are a dime a dozen. Sign me to be your long-snapper! I’ve got flag football experience, I’m ready to go!

The Seahawks Struggled To Take Down A Bad Rams Team

Pretty standard Seahawks game, all things considered. Lots of turnovers and flukey plays, controversial referee decisions, with a generous portion of Playing Down To The Level Of Your Opponent. In the end, talent overcame whatever the football gods have for us when it comes to the Seahawks playing the Rams, in a 27-23 victory.

It’s hard to come away too impressed, though there were some impressive elements. You have to start with Geno Smith, who finally got the monkey off his back when it comes to leading his team on a 2-minute drive to come from behind and win it. We had every opportunity to blow it at the end. We also had every opportunity – once we got into field goal range – to sit on the ball and play for overtime. But, Geno rared back and won this game with his arm, and it was refreshing to see.

I also gotta say I was impressed we were able to do it while getting absolutely nothing from our running game. Kenneth Walker left the game early with an ankle injury, as he was limited to 3.6 fantasy points 36 rushing yards. We’re obviously down Rashaad Penny from his injury weeks ago, not to mention Travis Homer, who failed to suit up for this one. That left us with DeeJay Dallas – who came into the second half “doubtful” to return, only to gut it out until the end – and someone named Tony Jones, who I’d never heard of before. All told, the running game got us 90 yards on 22 carries and zero scores.

On paper, the defense seemed to have a good game – 5/14 on 3rd/4th downs, 319 total yards (5.1 yards per play), 148 yards passing, 4 sacks, and two interceptions – but it’s infuriating that the Rams were able to score 23 points with no one but backups all across their offense. No Matthew Stafford, no Cooper Kupp, no Darrell Henderson; we should’ve held them to single digits.

That being said, it was cool to see Tariq Woolen get another pick, and have a beautiful tipped pass on what would’ve been a huge gain. Nwosu had a couple more sacks, and Jordyn Brooks had a great game. Even Cody Barton got another late pick to shut it down.

The wide receivers showed up and balled hard in this one. Tyler Lockett had 128 on 9 receptions, with a TD, and D.K. Metcalf had 127 on 8 receptions, with a TD. Noah Fant also had a nice game with 4 catches for 42 yards and a TD.

There was a point here – when this game was still a 50/50 deal – where it kinda felt like maybe losing would be the better result. Look, a 7-5 Seahawks team led by Geno Smith is a nice story and all. But, the 49ers just played the bulk of their last game against a very good Dolphins team without Jimmy G and they HANDLED them. We’re not winning the division. At best, we’re playing for a wild card spot, but now even our victory over the Giants is meaningless since they have a tie on their record. Even if we do sneak into the playoffs, it’s hard for me to see us getting to the Divisional Round, and impossible for us to make it beyond that point. In spite of how great a lot of younger guys are playing, there are still MANY holes left to fill before we can consider ourselves to be a championship-contending team.

Now, obviously, the good news is that the Broncos lost again. The more we win, the more we NEED that pick to land in the top 5, and ideally in the top 3. They’re having a true Season From Hell, with everything that CAN go wrong actually going wrong. I don’t know how many more weeks we’ll be able to depend on them choking these games away.

We get back-to-back home games on the horizon, with a weird 4-8 Panthers team that’s still somehow playing for the division, followed by a Thursday night showdown against the 49ers. That’s two very good defenses, with the Seahawks heading into these games sorely banged up.

I have to like our chances against the Panthers – because their offense looks so bad – but that’s a team that can easily nip us in a close one. I’m officially predicting a 19-16 Seahawks victory, but I’m not super confident about it.

The Seahawks Lost In Germany To The Bucs

I’m conditioned to not really like these games being played in another country. It seems like undue stress on the two teams who have to go all the way over there, change around their whole body clocks, play on VASTLY inferior fields, and then have to turn right around and play the next week (if you choose to not have your BYE follow it). If every single team in the league had to do it every single year, I guess that’s one thing. But, either it’s on a rotation of teams, or it’s just random selection. Then, there’s the whole thing about losing one of your home games because of a blatant cash grab by the league.

And, I’ll just add – for a team like the Seahawks, who has to travel the most air miles in the league by a considerable margin almost every single year – you’re even further hampering our competitive balance.

That being said, it was kind of fun waking up at 6:30am with my dad and brother, having a big breakfast, and watching a football game before all the other football games of the day got going.

What wasn’t fun was watching how the Seahawks played through three quarters.

I won’t say the defense completely reverted back to the way things were in the first month of the season – they weren’t the worst I’ve ever seen – but this was a clear and obvious step back from our recent efficiency. The Bucs were able to move the ball kinda sorta at will. They rarely hurt themselves with penalties or negative plays (aside from the two big interceptions, obviously), so they were able to stay ahead of the chains and keep their offense moving in one direction. Lots of third downs were converted (10 of 15 in total), thanks mostly to them being in 3rd & short situations.

That meant, obviously, the Bucs were able to run the ball exceedingly well. 44 for 161, which isn’t a great average, but is more than enough when your quarterback (one Tom Brady) goes 22 for 29 for 258. You could argue if it weren’t for a Brady pick thrown right at Cody Barton for some reason, and that asinine trick play where Leonard Fournette tried to toss one to Brady lined up out wide, the Bucs would’ve won in a laugher.

As it stands, the Seahawks pulled it to 21-16, before the Bucs ran the last four minutes off the clock.

All of our points came in the second half, with 13 of them coming in the fourth quarter. Discounting the two picks by the Bucs, the play of the game was an incredibly stupid Geno Smith fumble on what was apparently a designed quarterback run of some kind on 2nd & goal. If the design of that play was to look like a blackout drunk trying to find a potted plant to piss in, then mission accomplished.

The Bucs defense was exactly what I thought it was: very stout against the run, while potentially beatable through the air. Kenneth Walker was limited to 17 rushing yards on 10 carries. But, when we started throwing to him (mostly in the second half), he came alive for 55 yards on 6 receptions. D.K. Metcalf was able to get his and probably deserved to be targeted more (6 for 71), and Tyler Lockett and Marquise Goodwin both caught TDs late.

It was cool to see Tariq Woolen deke the Bucs into throwing a pass towards Tom Brady, who slipped and fell as the ball was severely underthrown. I’m told that Cody Barton had a good game, even though it seemed like he got swallowed up every time someone went to block him. It was REALLY unfortunate that we spent all week working on stopping the pass, then proceeded to not only get run all over, but also generate zero pressure on Brady whatsoever.

This game feels like a missed opportunity. It’s also pretty galling that we’re 0-3 against the NFC South, considering their record against everyone else. On the one hand, that’s a significant tie-breaker we just cost ourselves, if indeed we proceed to win our division, as the Bucs look like a shoo-in to win theirs. On the other hand, that’s a significant tie-breaker we just earned ourselves in the form of potential draft position for next year. I don’t know what to root for anymore! My brain is broken!

Where that leaves us is we’re 6-4 heading into our BYE week. One can fairly safely assume the 49ers will be 6-4 after they beat the Cardinals next week. That puts us in a dead heat for the division lead with 7 games to play. We come out playing the hapless Raiders, Rams, and Panthers, before that showdown with the 49ers on Thursday night. 5-2 feels like a safe estimate if we play up to our abilities. I would say 4-3 is the absolute minimum, which still puts us at 10-7, and a very good shot at the post-season. But, we could go as high as 7-0 or 6-1 if we catch some breaks.

I’m more than fine with the timing of this BYE week. Let’s rest up and get healthy and come back to sprint towards the finish with everyone else.

How Good Can The Seahawks Be In 2022?

So much of the discourse about our favorite sports teams has a bent towards the future, for better and for worse. To the point where all too often, the reaction to that discourse is a Stop & Smell The Roses mentality that can feel overly sentimental or old fashioned. I’m as guilty of that as everyone, because duh, I am stopping and smelling the damn roses. I’m watching every week, aren’t I? I’m reading articles and blogs, I’m writing about the games and whatnot, what more do you want from me? I’m invested!

But, that’s just it. I’m so invested that I’m taking a big picture approach to following a team like the Seahawks. I can do both: I can follow along and be entertained in the moment, AND I can think about the future and what this team needs to do to be even better.

What’s only starting to occur to me is: what if the future is now? Maybe we don’t NEED to look ahead a year or two, to see this team compete for Super Bowls. With the trajectory we’re on now, the sky really does feel like the limit!

Maybe it’s the four-game winning streak talking, I dunno. But, when I watch this team, I see a balanced and explosive offense, strong across the board at both the skill positions and the grunt workers. I see a defense that’s clearly improved from where it languished in the first month of the season, and it’s seemingly getting better by the week, as the young guys gain experience and start to mesh with the new scheme.

What’s a little uncertain is how elite this team truly is.

I would say throughout the year, the offense has been ahead of the defense. That’s not going out on any significant limb of hot takes or anything. But, does that make the offense elite? In a lot of ways, the analytics would say yes. Points per game, we’re 4th in the league. But, yards per game we’re down around the 10ish range. That’s good, not great. It also kinda feels like this team hasn’t played its absolute best on offense except against the very worst of defenses. Maybe I should give the Seahawks more credit for the 32 we rung up on the Saints, but there’s also been times we’ve been stymied. It feels like there’s more we can do, like this team could put up 50 on an opponent at any given time.

Then, on the flipside, defensively is this team a championship level unit? Certainly, after that Saints game, things turned around in a hurry. The D-Line shifted in its attack, we stopped relying so much on Cody Barton (in favor of more DBs on the field), and our young secondary has stepped up in a big way. Ours isn’t a traditionally dominant defensive unit like the 49ers, the Jets, the Cowboys, or the Broncos. But, it’s hard to argue with results.

That’s a potentially-explosive Cardinals team. They racked up a relatively easy touchdown-scoring drive when they first had possession of the football, then they proceeded to go punt, punt, punt, fumble, punt, punt, punt before their next touchdown (they did get a pick-six there in the middle of all of that, but that’s no reflection of their offense, now is it?). That’s some serious domination, three weeks after we held them to all of 9 points (3 points on offense, with the other 6 coming on a special teams TD).

To be fair, though, the Cards are kind of a mess. While they do have the potential to be explosive, they’ve also proven to be prone to implosion more often than not. It’s not like we just held the Chiefs, Bills, or Eagles to some miniscule number. But, you play the teams as they’re scheduled, and it’s hard not to be impressed with how the Seahawks have looked in all facets.

What’s not uncertain is the team’s lack of depth.

It’s not quite a Gods N Clods situation, but you could make a good argument that the Seahawks have been pretty lucky with injuries. We lost Jamal Adams, but who’s the other injury on defense that wasn’t an addition by subtraction (a la Sidney Jones or Justin Coleman)? We’ve had nagging injuries on offense, but other than Rashaad Penny, I don’t think we’ve lost anyone of note.

But, clearly, this team wouldn’t be the same if Geno Smith went down for a long period of time. We’d be severely hurting if we lost Kenneth Walker. And if either Lockett or Metcalf go out, we’re pretty bad at receiver behind those guys. Defensively, I think we’d be devastated if we lost Nwosu or Brooks, and the last thing I want is for our secondary guys to get hampered in their development.

Of course, you could make the same depth argument about a lot of teams. We’re seeing it play out in real time with the likes of the Green Bay Packers, for instance. For the most part, the very best teams – the ones competing for and winning Super Bowls – are also the ones who are luckiest with injuries. There’s never a 100% healthy team, but I would argue it’s a pretty high number. All the difference in how you finish lies in how healthy your best players are able to remain throughout the season. The NFL is a rough business; it churns through athletes with the best of ’em.

But, this isn’t a blog post talking about How Healthy Can The Seahawks Be In 2022; that’s a discussion about randomness. We’re talking about how GOOD this team can be, and I’m really starting to believe.

I think the biggest test to date is coming this weekend. I know I say that every week, but every week it remains true.

The Bucs, by and large, have been a colossal disappointment. But, there’s been plenty of extenuating circumstances. They’re still a team led by Tom Brady, with tons of offensive weapons at his disposal. They’ve still got a tremendous defense – especially at stopping the run – and a foundation of quality coaches and coordinators keeping the boat afloat. There’s a ton of experience on that team, and they’re right where they need to be. They play in one of the worst divisions in football, and control their own destiny. They won’t be a top seed in the NFC, but they can easily make the postseason and be a team nobody wants to play.

At this point, I usually talk about “how you beat this team”, but I don’t fully grasp why they’re so bad in the first place, other than guys who are usually great aren’t doing so hot. Obviously, if you get in Tom Brady’s grill with a 4-man pass rush, that’s the best way to slow him down. But, he can still carve up anyone when he’s on. Leonard Fournette can look like one of the best running backs in football at times, but all too often it seems like they go away from him for no reason. They have dynamic receivers, good players at tight end, and when healthy, their O-line has been tough. I don’t know how healthy that line is now, but maybe that’s a weakness we can exploit.

On the flipside, we have to stay on schedule and disciplined on offense. No penalties, no negative plays, and be efficient on third down. I expect this to be relatively low scoring and close to the bitter end, so there will be a few crucial plays that determine this one. Kickers better be on point, is all I have to say about the Special Teams.

There’s a real great opportunity here. If we can gut out a win in Germany, that puts us at 7-3 heading into the BYE. Then, we host 5 of our last 7 games, which at the beginning of the season seemed like a pointless gesture, but now looks like a gift from the heavens. There are still tough games sprinkled in throughout – hosting the 49ers, Jets, and even the Raiders; two games against the hated Rams, and that huge road game against the Chiefs on Christmas Eve – but it’s hard not to like our chances in most of those. Clearly, there’s something wrong with the Rams and Raiders. The Panthers should be pushovers. The Jets stink on offense. The 49ers are banged up and coming to Seattle. Even the Chiefs have shown their warts at times.

I’m not saying the Seahawks are definitely winning out the rest of the way. But, I am saying that it would not surprise me if the Seahawks won this weekend and continued to win the rest of the year. It wouldn’t surprise me if the Seahawks earned a top 2 or 3 seed in the NFC. It wouldn’t surprise me if the Seahawks made some noise in the playoffs. And, indeed, it wouldn’t surprise me if the Seahawks won it all.

Until further notice, I’m not concerning myself with the 2023 version of this team, or beyond. I’m all in on 2022, and from where I’m sitting, the view is pretty great.

Everyone’s Crapping Their Pants Over Geno Smith & The Seahawks’ Offense

It’s football, and so by design you get these wild emotional swings from week to week. We won on Monday Night against Russell Wilson and the Broncos: we must be great! We lost in demoralizing fashion to the 49ers and then the Falcons at home: we must be among the very worst teams in football! Now, we go out on the road and win a crazy shootout: heck, maybe the wild card is on the table!

There’s a lot of Geno Smith dick sucking going on, and I don’t know if it’s deserved. I don’t know if anyone considered him the very worst quarterback in the game; among backups, I think he’s always been fairly well-regarded. That’s probably because – until last year – you never got to see him play. The mystery and the name recognition did a lot of the heavy lifting for Geno Smith’s reputation. Once it became apparent this offseason that he was not only in a quarterback battle with the likes of Drew Lock, but until he got COVID, it was a battle set up for Lock to ultimately win, I think we all remembered, “Oh yeah, this is Geno Smith we’re talking about.” He’s probably in the low 20’s or high 30’s in a ranking of all quarterbacks.

Now that we’re four weeks into the season, I’ll admit that he’s better than I expected. His accuracy is off the charts, and even if we’re talking about a preponderance of throws being dinks and dunks, that’s still better than a lot of other so-called Game Managers. To me, this feels like our offensive system making good on its original promise (more than Smith making a late-career surge in effectiveness). We wanted the Rams’ style McVay offense, and we’ve got it! Jared Goff was once a quarterback that took his team to the Super Bowl. I think while it’s safe to say Geno Smith won’t be doing the same, he can still play competitive football within the parameters of this offense.

But, let’s see it against superior competition. His first half against the Broncos was lights out; his second half was atrocious. His entire game against the 49ers was a huge nothing-burger. He was good and bad against the Falcons, but clearly not good enough to prevail in a home game that you HAVE to have if you’re a playoff team. Now, he has this elite performance (320 yards on 23/30, with 2 TDs, 0 INTs, and 1 rushing TD with 49 yards on 7 carries) against arguably the worst defense in the league. Possibly one of the worst defenses of the last decade or more!

And that’s saying something, because the Seahawks this year ALSO have one of the worst defenses in the league, and one of the worst defenses of the last decade or more.

If the argument is that this offense has worked out the kinks, and is capable of some percentage of this every week, then I’m going to have to see it in action against good defenses. I need to see this against the Rams and 49ers. I need to see it in action against the Saints on the road next week. I need to see it against the Chargers and Bucs and Cardinals and literally everyone else on our schedule; they’ve all got better defenses than the Lions!

If you’re like me, and you saw this team – heading into the year – as an annoyingly 7-10 type of team, then you looked at the schedule and predicted we’d be 2-2 after four games. Granted, one of those victories would’ve been over Atlanta, but one of those losses would’ve been to the Broncos, so maybe that evens it out. Regardless, this isn’t the most unexpected thing in the world. There’s a lot of football left to play. A lot of the teams we thought would be good might lose to a team like these Seahawks. Conversely, a lot of teams that we thought would be pushovers might nip us in the end. I don’t think I can make a definitive statement one way or the other about this team. I still don’t think we’re very good. I still don’t think Geno Smith has what it takes to drive us the length of the field, needing a touchdown to win the game in the final two minutes.

I’m not terribly irate about winning this game, though I think it annoyingly papers over a lot of deficiencies, especially regarding the defense. But, I’m happy that our skill guys looked good (Penny had 151 yards on 17 carries, with 2 TDs; Metcalf had 7 catches for 149 yards; Lockett had 6 for 91). I’m happy that the offensive line is progressing like gangbusters. I’m happy that Tariq Woolen had a pick six.

But, in the grand scheme of things, if we’d lost 45-41 – instead of winning 48-45 – I’d still have all of those things to be happy about, plus we’d be one step closer to tanking this season! As it stands, this looks like a HUGE tiebreaker for us at season’s end. Clearly, these are two pretty evenly-matched teams. I think both the Seahawks and Lions will be close in record. So, we’re talking about a pretty big edge they have, especially if they decide to make drafting a quarterback a priority next year.

This Seahawks defense, tho. Ye gods. Darrell Taylor got demoted to a rusher on passing downs, because he can’t handle all the responsibilities of an outside linebacker. Then, his replacement go hurt and he was forced back into action. All in all, this has been a pretty bad season for him so far. The secondary is still getting dinged pretty severely. Other than Nwosu, no one is getting to the quarterback on a regular basis. Cody Barton looks inept and feeble. Jordyn Brooks is no Bobby Wagner in his prime; not by a long shot. If we’re not at the point where we’re abandoning the 3-4 for the 4-3, then it’s probably only another week or two away (because we can’t keep getting gashed with this sort of regularity).

At this rate, I don’t know what we’re going to have to hang our hat on by season’s end. Hopefully, the secondary can settle down a little bit. I don’t think there’s much hope for the linebacking group, and I think we’ll have to use a 2nd or 3rd rounder on that position. I think there’s a considerable demand for a dominant pass rusher, but I don’t know how you get that without foregoing a shot at one of the elite quarterback prospects. Maybe someone falls to us?

There’s also the very legitimate – though, I would argue kind of a longshot – concern that Geno Smith keeps playing well within the system, and is just handed the keys to the offense next year. Does a 7-10 Seahawks team with Geno throwing for 4,000+ yards on high-efficiency passing give this group the confidence to continue trying to bolster around the quarterback position, rather than addressing it directly? Again, I don’t think that’s very likely, but it has to be a concern.

So, yeah, I’d say the weekend could’ve gone better. At least the Broncos lost! I made a big show of telling all my friends how they’re a 12-win team and they all rightly laughed in my face. We’ll see who’s laughing last (it’ll either be me because I’m right, or me because I engineered a quality jinx).

The Seahawks Looked Predictably Inept Against The 49ers

I’ll be honest, Saturday was a long, fun-filled day for me. We had some tailgate festivities, a couple of long drives to and from that event, followed immediately by a family poker game, followed by some late night billiards in our rec room. I didn’t go to bed until maybe midnight or 1am, yet still managed to wake up well before the 10am games on Sunday. Long story short, I took a nap for most of the second half of those early games, and didn’t wake up until we were already an hour into the Seahawks’ game.

So, I missed out on the Trey Lance Experience. A very small part of me will always wonder if we might’ve had a chance in this one had Lance stayed healthy.

But, given the way our offense performed, I still highly doubt we would’ve come close to winning in this one. I hope you heeded my warning and stayed away (or bet hard against the Seahawks), because I was as on the money with this one as I’ve ever been! I missed the total by a single point! That’s unheard of (for me)!

Even though I saw a good percentage of this game (I tuned in when we were only down 13-0 in the second quarter), I didn’t see much of an effort whatsoever by the Seahawks’ offense to try and run the ball. Maybe my attention was stolen by the Broncos/Texans game on the little TV – rooting hard for Houston to take down Denver – but that was really shocking to me. Then again, given how poor our offense looked overall – not to mention how badly we were losing for the last 2/3 of this game – I guess it’s not all that surprising either.

Geno Smith only threw the ball 30 times, so it’s not like we went all pass-wacky. We just couldn’t do a damn thing, running or throwing. He completed 24 of those passes, for a measly 197 yards (for a 6.6 average per attempt, a miserable figure).

There was one highlight in this game for the Seahawks, and it was a blocked field goal for a touchdown. In a game we lost 27-7. That marks six consecutive quarters (and counting) where the offense has failed to score a single point. If you want to push things further, Tyler Lockett had a breakthrough game (it was starting to be worrisome that he just never has been on the same page as Geno in their limited action together), with 9 catches for 107 yards. For someone of his talent, he deserves better.

Also, I’m really scraping the bottom of the barrel for highlights, but it was nice to see Kenneth Walker out there getting some play.

Defensively, I dunno. There were plenty of mop-up tackles for Brooks and Barton. I thought Al Woods made his presence felt in the middle (7 tackles, 3 for loss, with a pass deflection). But what’s Poona Ford been up to this year? Whereth Bryan Mone? I did think Nwosu looked good again, and Darrell Taylor looked better than his week 1 faceplant.

We’re still seeing lots of growing pains out of the secondary. Too soon to make any sort of definitive statements, but I’ll say this: I’d rather have excessive penalties over excessive cushions for receivers to get lots of yardage. I’d rather have aggression, because you can teach them to tone it down for the refs; but you can’t teach a guy to be stickier to his receiver. I’ll take this all day over the likes of Tre Flowers and whatnot.

Even though the Special Teams got that score, it’s hard to give them too positive of a grade. We didn’t do much in the return game, and the new guy got in Lockett’s way for a critical muffed punt in the second half. You just can’t have that. That’s bad even for high school players, let alone the NFL.

This is more in line with what I expected from the Seahawks this year. But, I don’t think it’s going to be this dire every single week. I think the 49ers have a tremendous defense, and any time we go up against a defense of this calibre, it’s going to be a bloodbath. Otherwise, though, I think we’ll move the ball and score some points at an okay clip. I still contend, however, that anytime we’re down – and we need Geno Smith to orchestrate a scoring drive late in the game – it’s going to be a difficult proposition for this team to execute. And, god forbid if we ever get into any shootouts.

So far, I’ve seen glimpses of greatness out of this defense, but I don’t think we’re going to get over the hump until the secondary starts making some strides. As I said before, I like the way it’s trending, but at some point it’s going to have to click. Otherwise, this defense looks like every other mediocre Ken Norton defense we’ve had in recent seasons. Until they play to their highest potential, I don’t see a path to a winning season for this team. And, if it’s too little, too late when they finally figure it out, then clearly this will be a bottom 10 team in the league (looking forward to a top 10 draft pick next year).

The Seahawks Won Their Super Bowl, Defeating Russell Wilson On Monday Night

It’s probably never going to be better than it was last night, for the rest of the season. Relish it. At some point, I’m going to write a post titled, “R.I.P. Fun Seahawks”, because I think we’re going to see a lot of ugly football this year. But, what we got last night was something akin to a final hurrah for the Fun Seahawks. Those Seahawks who – as Kevin Clark astutely pointed out – have literally never played in a normal game.

It’s a very first world problem, but a definite complaint I’ve heard about all of those Russell Wilson Seahawks teams is that they never let you relax. They’re always nerve-wracking and tense, down to the bitter end, win or lose. This game was THAT times a thousand. Of course, we usually prevailed in those games, so ultimately they were a source of joy and relief, and last night was no different. It really did feel like a continuation of all the fun, but I fear it’s going to soon come to an end.

The Seahawks were as up for this game against Russell Wilson’s Broncos as I’ve ever seen a team up for anything. You could argue the Broncos were up too, but they were a little TOO up, resulting in way too many dumb penalties and mistakes. Whereas the Seahawks were shockingly calm and composed, while still looking pretty electric at times.

The first half Seahawks were a revelation. The over/under on Seahawks points in the entire game was 18.5, and they very nearly surpassed that in the first two quarters (really, they should have, but Geno missed a wide open Travis Homer near the goalline that would’ve been a walk-in touchdown). It was truly impressive! We marched right down the field on the opening drive for a TD, we took it inside the Denver 10 yard line on the next drive before being stuffed on a QB sneak, then we went field goal and touchdown to wrap up our first half. Against that defense? It was phenomenal!

But, then you got a good, long look at the Bad Seahawks in the second half. No offense whatsoever. No points whatsoever. Fumble, punt, punt. That’s it.

Now, you can argue that’s a little bit by design. That if these Seahawks are going to do anything, it’s going to be on the back of the defense getting timely stops. But, I don’t know how sustainable this type of game was, even though we looked absolutely dominant around the goalline.

The Broncos never had trouble moving the ball. They ran it well, they gave Wilson lots of time to throw, and they even worked in a few deep shots against a defense that is absolutely never supposed to give up deep shots. Our rookie cornerbacks played like rookie cornerbacks. Our pass rush played okay, but was far from dominant. There were lots of open receivers underneath and in the short-intermediate, and to his credit, Russell Wilson was playing the exact type of game he should have. It was a patient, calculated night where he took what the defense gave him. He’s gotten so much grief in recent seasons for constantly trying to chase the deep ball, but other than a couple of INT drops by Jamal Adams and Quandre Diggs, there really weren’t a lot of mistakes on Wilson’s part (at least, to my untrained eye).

But, when it mattered most – in the second half, clinging to a one-score lead – our defense stiffened up and forced two fumbles at the goalline. Again, how sustainable is that? Probably not very.

By the look of things, this defense resembled so many Ken Norton defenses. Lots of yards given up between the 20’s, followed by just enough field goals allowed instead of touchdowns to give the team the victory. But, better teams won’t just settle for field goals. I would argue the Broncos will be A LOT better than this going forward, but we know Russell Wilson, and we had his number in this one. We’re not going to be so lucky against other teams.

So, enjoy this while you can. Because I can’t say this is going to continue even into next week.

Kudos to Geno Smith for taking a heaping mound of shit from everyone – fans, pundits, haters – and playing a game that was good enough to win. 23/28, 195 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INTs. I will say that he needs to step up more in the pocket, to help out his rookie tackles. But, to his credit, he did look good running the ball, and took a lot of tough hits in an effort to fall forward rather than play it safe and slide for less.

Rashaad Penny looked good, and could’ve looked even better if a number of his runs weren’t called back by penalty. I wouldn’t expect those flags to continue; as long as he’s healthy, I think he’ll continue his hot run from late last year.

Good job by the receivers and tight ends, though D.K. had another fumble that almost cost us dearly. I thought Brooks and Barton were solid and sometimes spectacular. I thought Nwosu was the best player on the field! Only one sack, but he was all over the place, making plays everywhere and made Russell’s life the most miserable.

I thought Jamal Adams looked terrible, and then he went out with a severe knee injury that’s probably going to end his season. Good thing no one was counting on him to be a big part of this defense or anything. I also thought Darrell Taylor looked REAL bad. He got beat around the edge too many times, never got close to sniffing Russell, and didn’t do anything in coverage.

Nice job by Myers for making a 49 yarder that proved to be the game-winner. And a couple good punts from Dickson. Also, phenomenal coverage and return yardage by the Special Teams. DeeJay Dallas gets a special shout out not just for his yards, but for his smashing tackle.

Finally, the MVP of the game goes to Denver head coach Nathaniel Hackett, who didn’t take a time out at the end of the game, with over a minute left, 4th & 5 at the Seahawks 46 yard line. Instead, he let the clock drain, called time out, then went for a 64 yard field goal that didn’t have much of a chance of succeeding (McManus even missed a warm-up right when we iced him). You made a HUGE trade for Russell Wilson, you paid him a bundle of money, and you DON’T put the ball in his hands to go for the first down and a closer field goal? What’s WRONG with you?!

Fun night. Now, let’s go lose a bunch of ballgames and go draft a quarterback next year!

Seahawks 53-Man Roster Projection Ready Set Go!

It’s a little early for this, I’ll admit. But, this Friday I’m leaving on a trip and won’t be back until Labor Day, which doesn’t leave me a lot of time until the start of the regular season (plus, will be after the final cut-down day anyway, rendering this whole exercise moo. A cow’s opinion). Really, when you think about it, this isn’t early at all. It’s probably late, if I’m being honest! What am I even talking about?!

I don’t have a lot invested in this team, so I imagine my latest 53-man roster projection is going to be more wrong than normal (when I never really gave a damn anyway). Did I include too many linebackers and not enough offensive linemen? Probably. Anyway, here we go.

Quarterbacks

  • Geno Smith
  • Drew Lock

It’s our worst nightmare, come to fruition. If I had to guess, I’d say Geno gets the nod to start the regular season, but I can’t imagine that will last long (if it happens at all). I still contend the team wants Lock to be the guy, but his fucking up at every turn is holding him back.

Running Backs

  • Rashaad Penny
  • Kenneth Walker
  • Travis Homer
  • DeeJay Dallas
  • Nick Bellore

Pretty easy one here. I don’t dare lump Bellore in with the rest of the linebackers, but sure, he’s that too, I guess (in addition to a fullback the team almost never uses). When Walker’s healthy, this figures to be a 2-man backfield, but Homer will still likely see his fair share of reps in the 2-minute offense. And, injuries will likely dictate all of these guys appear at one time or another.

Wide Receivers

  • D.K. Metcalf
  • Tyler Lockett
  • Freddie Swain
  • Dee Eskridge
  • Penny Hart
  • Dareke Young

I really don’t believe Eskridge has done a damn thing to earn a spot on this roster, other than being our top draft pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. Feels too soon to give up on a 2nd round pick, but then again, he’s CONSTANTLY FUCKING INJURED. I don’t get it. Hart is a hedge against that, plus he’s a special teams whiz. And I feel like if you keep Eskridge, you have to keep a sixth receiver just in case. It seems like Young has the higher upside, whereas Bo Melton is probably likelier to pass through to the practice squad.

Tight Ends

  • Noah Fant
  • Will Dissly
  • Colby Parkinson

Easy peasy lemon squeezy. No notes.

Offensive Line

  • Charles Cross
  • Damien Lewis
  • Austin Blythe
  • Gabe Jackson
  • Abe Lucas
  • Phil Haynes
  • Jake Curhan
  • Kyle Fuller
  • Stone Forsythe

Odds are we’ll see a 10th lineman here, but you could conceivably get away with just the 9. It all depends on how bad the Lewis injury is and how long he’ll miss time. But, Curhan can play guard or tackle. Fuller can play center or guard. Forsythe is your traditional tackle backup. There’s enough cross-polination among the backups here to cover your ass in a pinch. That assumes, of course, that Lucas is your starting right tackle, which is the rumor I’m hearing.

Defensive Linemen

  • Shelby Harris
  • Poona Ford
  • Bryan Mone
  • Al Woods
  • Quinton Jefferson
  • L.J. Collier
  • Myles Adams

These are the beefy dudes who should spend little-to-no time dropping back into coverage. That figure could be drastically high; I’m really taking a stab in the dark here. But, I’ve also ranked them in order of likelihood to make the team, so could be a tough break for one or both of Collier & Adams (but, I’ve heard good things about Collier in practice, and I’ve seen good things from Adams in the two games so far).

Pass Rushers/Strong-Side Linebackers

  • Darrell Taylor
  • Boye Mafe
  • Uchenna Nwosu
  • Alton Robinson
  • Tyreke Smith

Again, I’m ranking these by order of likelihood to make the team. But, I think the top four are as close to locks as possible. Smith makes my roster because he’s a draft pick, but I couldn’t tell you if he’s done a damn thing so far in the pre-season.

Linebackers

  • Jordyn Brooks
  • Cody Barton
  • Tanner Muse
  • Vi Jones

I’ll be honest, Muse and Jones are here because they’re names I recognize. I think one or both might be valuable special teamers, maybe? I also think this team could be sifting through cast-offs from other teams, since the position outside of Brooks has been so underwhelming.

Safeties

  • Jamal Adams
  • Quandre Diggs
  • Ryan Neal
  • Marquise Blair

I haven’t seen or heard about Neal, but I’m assuming based on his production for this team of late, he’ll get a crack to be a backup again. Blair, on the other hand, has done nothing but disappoint in the pre-season. I wouldn’t be shocked if Blair gets chopped and we go with someone else on our roster or pick up another team’s reject(s).

Cornerbacks

  • Tariq Woolen
  • Coby Bryant
  • Sidney Jones
  • Artie Burns
  • Justin Coleman

I don’t think Coleman deserves to be on this team, but I think he’s going to make it anyway. Odds are it’s Jones and Burns to start – with Bryant being the team’s top nickel guy – but I won’t be surprised to see Woolen out there (especially if Burns or Jones can’t get healthy). I’m also banking on Tre Brown starting out on PUP, or otherwise not joining the roster until later on in the season.

Special Teams

  • Tyler Ott (LS)
  • Michael Dickson (P)
  • Jason Myers (K)

Seems crazy that Myers gets to keep his job based on what we’ve seen, but what are you going to do? He’s going to continue to be aggravating, but he’s going to be far from the most aggravating thing we see on a weekly basis from this team.

The Seahawks Weren’t Totally Uninteresting In A Pre-Season Loss In Pittsburgh

I had scheduled myself to write about the Mariners today and the Seahawks tomorrow, but we’re flip-flopping after an underwhelming series loss to the Rangers of all teams.

I didn’t watch the Seahawks game live, because I have better things to do than watch quasi-meaningless pre-season games. But, you know what I don’t have better things to do than? Watching quasi-meaningless pre-season games the next day on DVR when I already know the outcome of the game!

I’ll just get this out of the way early so we can all move on: I’m not crazy about pre-season announcing booths in general, but the addition of an otherwise quite charming Michael Robinson brought the homerism to a new level. I didn’t bother to write down any specific criticisms, but at points I was wondering if we were watching the same players. Like, he’d praise their attributes that they clearly don’t exhibit! To counter-balance that, I thought the addition of Michael Bennett was delightful, and I particularly enjoyed his interviews on the field. He’s a wild card in the best possible way (even though it’s clear he’s been instructed to also juice up the homerism). Curt Menefee, as always, is a pro’s pro and we’re lucky to have him doing our games. He has no reason to! We’re not interesting from a national perspective without Russell Wilson and Bobby Wagner anymore!

The game result is – as has been mentioned everywhere – not important. The Seahawks got down 14-0 through the first quarter, we managed to execute a 2-minute drive heading into halftime to cut the deficit to 17-10, then we tied it on our first possession after halftime. We swapped touchdowns and 2-point conversions after that, to make it 25-25 late in the game. Then, a critical stop by the Seahawks defense was rewarded with a devastating sack/fumble, and the Steelers scored a TD with just 3 seconds left in the game to give the game its final score, 32-25.

Pre-Season Quarterback Report

As has been the case pretty much all off-season, Geno Smith worked with the starters and Drew Lock worked with the backups. In this particular game, Geno worked the entire first half and Drew worked the entire second half.

And, as expected, neither one really stood out, at least to my eye. They’re both crappy-to-mediocre backup quarterbacks in this league. And yet, I came to a definite conclusion while watching this game, as Geno Smith tottered his way to a sack in an imploding pocket (even though he had plenty of time to throw it away): if I have to watch a full season where Geno Smith is my team’s starting quarterback, I’m going to blow my fucking brains out.

Mind you, I don’t expect that to be the end result of my life, so let’s just say I’ll be taking every opportunity to casually skip even regular season Seahawks games this year.

I don’t want this to sound like I’m gung-ho over Drew Lock, because I’m very much not. But, man, we fucking know what Geno Smith has to offer. He was shitty with the Jets (and other teams) and he’s shitty now. Age and sitting behind Russell Wilson has not magically made him better. There’s no savvy to his game. He looks way too long to his first read, for one thing. That makes him frequently late in throwing to that first read if he decides it’s open. Otherwise, it makes him late to his secondary reads, so it’s like he holds on Read 1, and then a few seconds later decides to check it down to his final read. This is especially aggravating when it’s 3rd & long and the check-down gets tackled well before the first down line to gain.

That’s why you can see his stats from Saturday – 10/15, 101 yards, no turnovers – and think that’s not so bad. Last year, in three games, he completed over 68% of his passes largely in this fashion (looking pretty spry against probably the league’s worst defense in Jacksonville), which again leads one to think he’s not so bad. Think again. Think long and hard about the Geno Smith you’ve watched over the last decade.

I just can’t with him. All things being equal – and they do look pretty equal – give me the unfamiliar. Drew Lock, to his credit, did some good things in this one. He doubled the number of touchdown drives that Geno gave us, he completed one more pass for one more yard in the same number of attempts. But, he also took double the number of sacks, including the game-sealing fumble at the end (where he was supposed to recognize the blitzer off the edge and adjust the play/protection accordingly).

You look for moments where a quarterback can show you what he’s got. That was Drew Lock’s moment. The game was tied, there was just over a minute left and we got it on Pittsburgh’s side of the 50 yard line. All we needed was 20-25 yards for an easy game-winning field goal. That’s a moment where you MUST orchestrate a game-winning drive for your team. Granted, it was the pre-season, so it was backups against backups. But, that makes it all the more important if you’re Drew Lock and you’re trying to be a starter in this league. Starters don’t fuck that up. Starters see that blitzer and make mincemeat out of the Steelers on that play. This is going to be Lock’s fourth year in the league; if you can’t see a pretty obvious blitz off the edge by now, then I just don’t think it’s ever going to click for you.

And yet, I still would prefer to see Lock as our starting quarterback this season. Partly because he’s Not Geno Smith, but also because I think he sucks just a little bit more. I think he’s going to be a little more reckless with the football, where Geno might be a little more careful. I think he’ll cost us maybe an extra game or two, where Geno might do just enough to game manage his way to victory. It’s the difference between going 8-9 and 6-11, but that’s a pretty big leap in the NFL draft standings, and that’s all that matters right now.

Because, clearly, neither of these guys deserve to be around and playing in meaningful football games in 2023.

Other Pre-Season Tidbits

I was quite impressed with the offensive line throughout this one. If there’s one positive takeaway, it’s that the depth up front is likely to be our biggest strength.

By extension, I thought the running backs looked great as well! Granted, Rashaad Penny was out with injury (of course), but that just meant more Kenneth Walker. He didn’t break anything, but he looked solid in general. More eye-opening was what we saw from DeeJay Dallas and even Travis Homer, who both got busy running AND pass catching. Great day from that room!

I was pretty appalled by our run defense, especially when you saw a good chunk of our starting interior linemen out there for much of the game. Even in the first half, the Steelers were ripping us to shreds.

Cody Barton is Just A Guy. I don’t know where anyone got the opinion that he’s going to be a good player for this team, but he’s not. He’s just a warm body. His deficiencies might be covered up a little more when Jordyn Brooks is out there being a beast. But, when Barton is the main guy, you can see just how slow he is, how bad his instincts are, and how he gets run over on the reg. If ankle tackles where the runner still falls forward for 2-3 extra yards are your jam, then sign up for more Cody Barton. But, as for me, I prefer an inside linebacker with some juice.

Bit of a mixed bag from our receivers. I thought the rookies Bo Melton and Dareke Young looked solid. No D.K. or Lockett in this one, nor any Swain or Dee Eskridge (naturally). We did get our first look at Noah Fant, who will definitely have a big role in this passing game. That being said, Fant isn’t going to be much of a blocker, especially out in space, so we’ll have to adjust our expectations accordingly. Also, he needs to work on his footwork, because he had a great opportunity along the sidelines, but couldn’t get his second foot down in bounds.

I was pleased to see Darrell Taylor and Alton Robinson make big impacts in the pass rush. And I was thrilled with the two sacks from Boye Mafe! He might be raw, but his speed is NFL-ready, no doubt about it. Shelby Harris looks like a quality addition to the interior, and I think it was Myles Adams who stood out quite a bit in the second half (I believe he was wearing #95 in this one, but I could be mistaken). I don’t know how many DTs we can carry, but I’m rooting for Adams.

I’m going to withhold too much judgment on the secondary for now, because we were looking at a lot of inexperienced guys out there on the boundary. I will say that Justin Coleman looks bad and old and slow; he probably shouldn’t make this team. Promisingly enough, Tariq Woolen got the start on one side and was hit or miss. I say “promisingly” because he was always expected to be more of a project, so the fact that the team trusts him enough to start him right out of the gate is encouraging for his overall talent level. I’ll need to see better ball skills, and turning his head when the ball is in the air, but otherwise there are things to build upon, as well as things to point to and praise. On the other side, we saw a lot of Coby Bryant. I don’t know where he’s ultimately going to end up (if it’s outside or as a nickel guy), but sort of the same deal: some good things to point to, some things for him to work on. You wouldn’t expect either guy to be finished products right out of college, but I like that they both have the trust of these coaches this early in their careers.

That being said, if Sidney Jones and/or Artie Burns continue to be injured throughout this season, we could be looking at significant growing pains from our secondary. Granted, neither of our starting safeties – Quandre Diggs & Jamal Adams – played in this one. Here’s hoping they can paper over where we’re limited on the outside.

Finally, I’ll just say the kicking game looked shaky as hell! Jason Myers doinked one in off the upright and did not look sharp; he was also knocking some kickoffs short, but that may have been by design to test our coverage units (who graded out pretty poorly, in my layman’s opinion). Michael Dickson punted a bunch into the endzone, which is entirely unlike him. I’d say the old line about how it’s pre-season for everyone, including punters, but what else does he do with his time in training camp? He punts! Where’s that magic leg we’ve seen for four years?! That magic leg we’re paying Top-Of-The-Punter-Market prices!