Seahawks Death Week: Obvious Cap Casualties

If you want to see who the obvious salary cap casualties are, look no further than the top 12 salaries on this team. I’ll save the top guy (Geno Smith) for the end to help build some suspense, so let’s get crackin’ with number two.

I was more than a little surprised to see Tyler Lockett as a popular topic of conversation at the end of the season, when reporters mentioned that might’ve been his last game in a Seahawks uniform. On the one hand, it definitely makes sense: he was our #2 receiver last year, but he’s counting almost $28 million against the cap this year (what with his various contract restructures over the years). Still, with a dead cap hit coming in at almost $20 million, it’s not like you’re saving a ton. I know he’s probably not incentivized to do such a thing, but I guess I kinda thought maybe he’d re-work his deal over the final two years and retire as a lifelong Seahawk.

Ultimately, I think the smart move is to cut Lockett, let him join a contender for next year (if he wants to keep playing), or just let him walk away if he’s ready to retire. Even though his abilities are still there, he’s kind of lost a step, and is clearly not a good value for his cost. Saving even $8 million – in spite of the massive dead cap number – is almost certainly worthwhile.

I should point out that I don’t have the bandwidth to get into pre- and post-June cut possibilities with how much we can save in 2024 over 2025; let the smarter nerds get into those weeds.

Number 3 on the list is Jamal Adams; he has to go. He’s similar to Lockett in that there’s both a humongous cap hit (nearly $27 million) and dead cap number (nearly $21 million), but it’s night and day as far as personalities and production on the field. Adams is a waste of a roster space, he’s starting to feel like a cancer to this team, and quite frankly he’s just getting on the fanbase’s nerves at this point. There’s no way he’s going to salvage his career here, and at this point it’s kinder to all involved to let him leave.

Number 4 is D.K. Metcalf and he’s not going anywhere. A) because he’s probably the most talented player on this roster, and B) because his cap hit and dead cap number are nearly the same ($24.5 million vs. $23 million). The bottom line is: he’s giving you $24.5 million worth of production as this team’s #1 receiver, and that’s what matters most.

Number 5 is Quandre Diggs, and his departure feels like a foregone conclusion. He’s got a cap hit over $21 million, with a dead cap number of just over $10 million. Number 6 is an interesting case, because I never would’ve thought Dre’Mont Jones would be a One & Done guy for us, but his contract is structured with an out if we want it. He counts just over $18 million this year, but his dead cap hit is just over $13 million. It’s not a lot, but it’s also not nothing. For what it’s worth, I think Jones will be back.

So, halfway through this exercise, if we get rid of Lockett, Adams, and Diggs, we shore up around $25 million. I should point out that – if we kept every single player under contract in 2024 – we would be right up against the salary cap threshold (technically around $4,000 over the limit). $25 million is a decent chunk of change for three guys who aren’t in our long-term future plans. But, there’s more where that came from.

#7 is Will Dissly, heading into the last year of a crazy deal he signed. His cap hit is $10 million, his dead cap number is around $3 million; no brainer, he gone. #8 is Julian Love (cap hit $8 million, dead cap around $2.5). I don’t think the team will cut Adams, Diggs, AND Love in the same offseason. With Love coming off of a Pro Bowl berth, it would make all the sense in the world to hang onto him, and maybe even extend him at the right price (he’ll only be 26 years old this year). #9 is Uchenna Nwosu, who we JUST extended, and is absolutely cost-prohibitive to cut at this time. And #10 is Devon Witherspoon, who is up there with D.K. Metcalf as one of the best players on this team and isn’t going anywhere.

But, #11 is Jarran Reed, and #12 is Bryan Mone (remember him?). If I’m being honest, it would be idiotic to cut Reed after the season he had. He’s an absolute bargain at nearly $6 million for the final year of his deal. Mone, on the other hand, is making almost the same amount of money, and only costs us half a mil in dead space.

So, with Dissly and Mone, we’re looking at $37 million freed up from five guys who should easily be replaced. After the top 12 guys, the drop-off is pretty significant as far as salary goes.

The key, though, is NOT to just give all of that money back to guys who are outgoing free agents. Leonard Williams is an obvious big-money guy who won’t be cheap. Even at this stage of his career, Bobby Wagner won’t settle for nothing. Drew Lock feels like a waste of $4 million as a backup. Phil Haynes is DEFINITELY a waste of $4 million for someone who can never stay healthy. Devin Bush was overpaid at $3.5 million in 2023. Noah Fant will probably want a significant raise from the just over $3 million he was making this past season. Jordyn Brooks will ABSOLUTELY want a huge raise. Then, there’s guys like Evan Brown, Darrell Taylor, Damien Lewis, Mario Edwards, Colby Parkinson, and DeeJay Dallas. Of the lot of them, I’d probably only want to hang onto Parkinson (mostly because it feels unlikely we’re going to go out and replace the ENTIRE tight end room in one offseason), because he’s got good size and could still figure to be a cheap option as this team’s #1 or #2 TE. I should point out that Taylor is an RFA, so we can hang onto him for a reasonable cost if we still want him. But, everyone else can go.

There’s probably no way we can afford to keep both Wagner AND Brooks; depending on the cost, I’d go with the younger option and stick him in the middle linebacker spot. But, I’m also not super invested in that either. I could let them both walk and feel just fine, if I’m being honest.

This brings us back to Geno Smith. He’s just over $31 million against the cap, with only a $17.4 million dead money hit. That’s almost an additional $14 million – to go along with $37 million freed up above – to give us potentially $51 million in money to spend. Of course, in this scenario, we’d have no quarterbacks, no tight ends, and only one safety with any sort of quality experience. I find it hard to believe that this ALL will happen – that these obvious cuts will indeed be made – but it’s also not difficult to talk yourself into it. What’s stopping us from bringing back Drew Lock on a cheap deal, letting Geno go, and drafting a quarterback in the first round to compete right away? If we get from Lock around 90% of what we got from Geno, at like an eighth of the cost, why don’t we just do THAT, and hope we hit on a rookie that develops for 2025?

I’ll be interested to see how many of these guys end up actually being cut. We won’t have to wait for long for some of them, as they have their salaries guaranteed shortly after the Super Bowl in February (if we don’t cut them first).

The Seahawks’ Season Ended With A Pointless Victory Over The Cardinals

I don’t see this victory as being QUITE as enraging as the Week 18 Broncos victory last year (when we had their first round draft pick, which fell from a #3 to a #5, a crucial drop that eliminated any opportunity for a truly impactful stud player, or at least a bevy of extra picks in a potential trade-down from 3), but, you know, a win when your season is going nowhere is always going to be annoying to me.

The Seahawks fell from 14th to 16th, while allowing the Cardinals to go from 5th to 4th. It’s not really a HUGE difference, on either end.

Of course, the ideal scenario would’ve involved the Bears beating the Packers, with the Cards beating the Seahawks, but we can’t ever have nice things. You know that. The Bears, for whatever reason, couldn’t get anything going, in a 17-9 loss to the Packers in Lambeau. 3/11 on third down will do that, I guess. That was a weird all-around game, though. Green Bay’s defense actually showed up to play! Maybe they’re getting healthier on that side of the ball at the exact right time? Because their D looked like ass for a while.

That game ended in the middle of the fourth quarter. At that point, Arizona had a 20-13 lead, and they were driving to go up two scores. Matt Prater missed a 43 yard field goal with just under 3 minutes to go in the game that would’ve ended things. The Seahawks, naturally, drove right down the field in just over a minute and hit Lockett on a beautiful 34 yard TD pass to pull within one. With the season already over, we went for two, Geno had all day, and was able to connect on the 2-point conversion to go up 21-20.

The only good thing about that was Arizona had so much time left to re-take the lead. They got back into field goal range with a second remaining, but Prater missed again (this time from 51 yards). Both kicks were wide-right, ever so slightly.

Geno hit 16/28 for 189, 2 TDs, and 0 INTs. Walker ran 78 yards on 17 carries. Charbonnet added 32 yards on 5 carries. Lockett had 2 catches for 71 yards and a TD, Dissly had 3 for 46 and a TD. Bobby Wagner had 15 tackles to lead the league (with 183). Devon Witherspoon had 11 tackles (including 3 for loss). Darrell Taylor had our lone sack.

I tried to make it a point to watch the entire game, though I did go split screen with the Packers/Bears. It feels weird rooting against the Seahawks, and I’m sure if that other game had gone the other way, I would’ve felt that bubbling excitement boiling over. But, truly, this Seahawks team was not made for the playoffs. It was barely made for the regular season. This team felt like damn near every Mariners team we’ve seen over the last 20 years. Just good enough at times to hold our interest, but ultimately destined to fall short.

The Rams finished 10-7, after beating the 49ers in a Battle of the Backups. That leaves us, at 9-8, firmly entrenched in third place. We had a -38 point differential. We were 5-3 at home, 4-5 on the road. We were 2-4 in the division (both wins against Arizona), and 7-5 in the NFC.

Of note, our Strength Of Schedule – used in tiebreakers to determine draft order – was .512. Only 4 of the 14 playoff teams had to overcome a more difficult schedule: Baltimore (.543), Pittsburgh (.540), Cleveland (.536), and the Rams (.529). The 49ers were close (.509), but isn’t that interesting? The AFC North was the only division EVER to have four teams finish above .500. They ended up, as a result, having the most difficult schedule of anyone. The NFC West were next on that list, in no small part because we also had to play the AFC North. 12 of the 18 teams to not make the playoffs had Strength of Schedules over .500. It’s crazy how much luck comes into it.

Geno Smith finished with 3,624 passing yards, 20 TDs, and 9 INTs. I’ll do a separate post about how this compares to his 2022 season, but suffice it to say, there’s a significant drop-off.

Kenneth Walker finished with 905 yards in 15 games, for a 4.1 average per carry. Charbonnet had 462 in 16 games, with a 4.3 average per carry. D.K. Metcalf had 66 receptions for 1,114 yards and 8 TDs. Tyler Lockett had 79 for 894 and 5 TDs. Jaxon Smith-Njigba had 63 for 628 and 4 TDs.

Bobby Wagner had the 183 tackles, with 3.5 sacks. Julian love had 123 tackles and led the team with 4 INTs. Boye Mafe led the team with 9 sacks, Jarran Reed had 7, Darrell Taylor had 5.5, Dre’Mont Jones and Jordyn Brooks had 4.5 each, and Leonard Williams had 4 sacks in just 10 games with the Seahawks (5.5 sacks in total, across a whopping 18 games, since he missed out on having a BYE week this year). Devon Witherspoon led the team with 16 passes defended, Riq Woolen had 11 and Love finished with 10. Woolen and Tre Brown had 2 INTs each, Witherspoon, Diggs, and Brooks each had 1.

That’s really all I got for now. We’ve got a lot going on, sports-wise, this week, so Seahawks Death Week will have to be postponed. It’s been … a season. See you next time!

The Seahawks Aren’t Great At Any One Thing

The Seahawks get a lot of credit for being competitive. If I understand the phrase right, it’s a double-edged sword. When things are going well, people point to the coaching staff and say, “Boy Pete Carroll does a great job of adapting and getting the most out of his players!” But, when things go poorly, people point to the coaching staff and say, “Boy Pete Carroll is over the hill and washed up and doesn’t understand what the game of football is morphing into!”

There was a time this year where the Seahawks were winners of 5 out of 6 games, and the one we lost (to the Bengals) you could argue we gave away. But, even still, they were the Bengals, Joe Burrow was still alive, and you can understand why even a good team would lose that game on the road. The offense felt vibrant, the defense appeared to be improving, and we all let ourselves believe that these Seahawks could compete with those 49ers for this NFC West and maybe even above and beyond.

Then, we got massacred by the Ravens. That kicked off a lull where we lost 4 out of 5 games, with the lone victory being a 3-point variety against one of the worst, most dysfunctional teams in football (the Commanders), at home no less. We won the next two games to regain control over our own playoff destiny, only to lose to the Steelers last week, to once again need a Week 18 victory plus some help.

The Seahawks are 8-8. You can’t really give this team a lot of credit for being competitive, because if we’re honest with ourselves, this team is only competitive against very flawed-to-bad teams.

There are lots of teams hovering around .500, though. Lots of flawed teams who are in contention for the playoffs. There have been plenty of flawed teams throughout the years who have made the playoffs, gotten hot, and managed to do some damage (even winning a Super Bowl here and there). It’s not always the VERY BEST teams who win it all. Sometimes, you just need to pose the right matchup problems against the right teams, to get the result you want.

The Cleveland Browns are 11-5 and locked into the playoffs. You wouldn’t consider them a front-runner; they’re on, what, their fourth quarterback? Joe Flacco off the scrap heap re-joined the league and has set the world on fire. Has Joe Flacco suddenly gotten amazing again? No way! But, he’s in the right situation, with the right team, that has some elite components (defense, running game, O-Line) that allows them to make up for any mistakes Flacco might generate.

The Dolphins are also 11-5 and locked into the playoffs. Their defense kinda stinks, but they’re so dynamic on offense that you could see them winning any game if things break right. The Chiefs are 10-6 and their receivers are hot garbage. The Eagles are 11-5 and their defense has regressed HARD. The Rams are 9-7, but they’re still well-coached and explosive enough (and veteran enough) on offense to beat anybody.

Which brings me to the Seahawks. They’re a consummate 7-seed type of team. But, unlike the Packers, Steelers, or either of the South divisions, the Seahawks don’t have any one thing they do extremely well. They just have a lot of things they’re okay at, with some VERY glaring weaknesses that hold them back.

It’s honestly pretty miserable watching the Seahawks closely. I wonder if these other fringe teams have the same type of disgruntled fans. There’s nothing you can hang your hat on, where you can say, “If THIS happens, we can pull it out.” Even in the post-L.O.B. era of Seahawks football with prime Russell Wilson at the helm, we could look at the team and say, “Well, if Russell Wilson plays out of his mind, maybe we can win three playoff games and get to the Super Bowl.” Of course, that never happened, and we now understand why it was foolish to think that way. But, at least there was a chance. Russell Wilson used to be magic, and sometimes he was all we needed to will ourselves to victories.

You can’t say that about Geno Smith. Russell Wilson could get by with a rancid offensive line. Geno Smith is like this delicate flower that needs a climate-controlled environment to flourish. I’m not talking about weather here; it’s sort of a terrible analogy. But, like, Geno needs very good O-Line play. He needs the defense to keep us in it. He can’t carry us on his back and will us to victory. Oh sure, if everything is just right, he can lead us to a late come-from-behind victory every now and then. But, you better not allow any pass rushers to get in his face! He’s not making those comebacks against the likes of the 49ers, Cowboys, or Steelers!

What’s the best thing Seattle has going for it? The easy answer is the wide receiver room, but that’s so dependant on your quarterback’s play, that I think I have to push them down a tier. I think the actual best thing Seattle has going for it is the running back room. The one-two punch of Kenneth Walker and Zach Charbonnet is as good as it gets. Walker makes something out of nothing in a way I haven’t seen since Barry Sanders. I’m not saying he’s as good as Barry Sanders, but I’m saying the moves you see him put on people on the football field week-in and week-out are as electric and jaw-dropping as I’ve seen out of anyone since Sanders retired. Charbonnet, on the other hand, is just a solid and dynamic straight-ahead runner. Every time I see him play well, I wonder if he’s the future #1 on this team, but then Walker comes back and flashes those amazing cut-back moves, and I’m swayed in his direction. Either way, those two combined – with their tremendous blocking and pass-catching abilities – puts us at a level few teams are at in the NFL.

So, why don’t we feature it more? Why aren’t we scheming to highlight the run, rather than using it to complement a passing attack that’s … fine? Your guess is as good as mine. Seems to me, once again, we have the wrong offensive coordinator. He was brought in to try to appease a disgruntled Russell Wilson, we traded Wilson a year later, and now we’ve been trying to make it work. Sometimes, Waldron looks like one of the best OCs in football. But, too often – especially this season – he gets too one-track minded. He goes away from the run – mind-bogglingly – even though we’re in more games than we’re way behind. And less and less do we see guys schemed open. We were supposed to get the system that the Rams use to tremendous success. Lots of crossers, lots of different plays out of similar-looking personnel groupings. But, either Geno isn’t seeing them, or we’ve gone away from them. Regardless, this offense looks as dysfunctional as it was under Schotty and in the final years of Bevell.

Getting back to the receivers, I’ll tell you what this team doesn’t have; it doesn’t have Doug Baldwin, or a Doug Baldwin type. It doesn’t have that guy who can get open under any circumstance. It doesn’t have that guy you can go to on 3rd & Long, when you absolutely need a conversion to move the chains. Tyler Lockett sort of used to be that guy, but not really, and definitely not anymore. I don’t know what Lockett is nowadays, if I’m being honest. Either he’s trending towards being washed up, or we’re just not utilizing him like we should. More often than not, we’re going to D.K. when we need a big catch to move the chains. Don’t get me wrong, D.K. has been GREAT this year. But, he still has massive drops at the worst times, and you never know when he’s going to be that powderkeg that’s one bad taunt away from exploding.

The good news is: maybe Jaxon Smith-Njigba will be the next true heir apparent to Doug Baldwin. But, he’s still a rookie, he’s still developing that relationship with Geno, and while he’s much more productive now than he was at the beginning of the season, he’s not quite there yet. Hopefully in the next year or two, but that doesn’t help us out THIS season, now does it?

As far as the defense goes, write it off. There’s nothing elite about any of these position groups. Jamal Adams was shut down, having never fully recovered from his knee injury. He was getting beaten on the reg, and was less and less productive out in space near the line of scrimmage the more he played. Clearly, his body is broken, and it’s going to really suck if we’re stuck with him for another year.

As for the rest of the secondary, that was sort of our big hope, but it hasn’t come to fruition. I think the depth is there, but the top-end talent has been lacking. Which is interesting, because two of our three Pro Bowlers came from this group (Devon Witherspoon and Julian Love). Witherspoon looks as good as advertised, but he started the year banged up, and he’s ending the year banged up. When he’s been healthy out there, he’s been a game-changer. But, I’m starting to have serious doubts that we’re ever going to get a full season out of him. And I’m certainly dubious about getting a respectable second contract out of him. As for Love, he’s definitely come on late, but early this season he was a huge liability! The bar to climb over for Pro Bowl contention seems to be getting lower and lower nowadays.

You can’t deny Riq Woolen’s sophomore season has been anything but disappointing. Seems like he too is injured, but I don’t remember him ever being all that active in tackling near the line of scrimmage. That wasn’t a problem last year when he was making plays and generating turnovers; but this year, when he’s not doing that, he’s not really doing anything for you, is he? The rest of the guys – Diggs, Brown, Jackson, Burns, etc. – have all flashed some level of greatness, but have also totally disappeared for long stretches. As a result, this defense is getting increasingly shredded as the season goes along.

The linebackers have been okay against the run, but Bobby Wagner has been one of the biggest weaknesses in the passing game in the entire NFL (he’s a Pro Bowler based on reputation only). Without Jordyn Brooks, the linebacker room is totally decimated (as we saw last week against the Steelers). It’s tough when you’re as thin as you are, and you’re forced to play Wagner at or near 100% of the snaps every week. Now we have to pay Brooks whatever the market rate is for a top-end interior linebacker? What are we doing with our money here?!

I think the interior of the defensive line has been the most productive unit on this team, especially with the addition of Leonard Williams. Between him, Jarran Reed, and Dre’Mont Jones, we’re as solid as you can get. But, when Nwosu went down, the edge has been kind of a wasteland. Frank Clark has hardly played, and I think has since been cut (or is on the verge of being cut). Darrell Taylor can’t set an edge to save his life. Boye Mafe has slowed down considerably the second half of this season. Derick Hall is also struggling to play his position properly (but he’s a rookie, so he gets a pass). So, when you talk defensive line as a whole, I think you have to give them a net-negative. They get sacks at a decent clip, but I would say overall pressure numbers are sub-par, and the run defense has actually gotten worse as the season has gone along.

Defensive coordinator might be our biggest weakness, so we’ll see where that goes this offseason.

That leaves the O-Line, which is middling at best. But, Abe Lucas has been banged up all year, and we’ve had a revolving door at most of our positions from week to week. So much so that we’ve had to emphasize getting the ball out incredibly quickly if we even WANT to have a passing game. Seems like that would be the time to try to pound the rock, but again, we’re not, because of Reasons.

All told, that adds up to a team – as I said in the title – that isn’t great at any one thing. They’re okay at some things, terrible at others, and that’s what adds up to an 8-8 record heading into the final week of the season. Which is why I’ve been saying – for however many weeks now – that I do NOT want these Seahawks in the playoffs. What good does it do to get in there and get your doors blown off in the first round? We did that last year; did it do anything to make the 2023 Seahawks even remotely better? Or, did it just give us worse draft positioning, while allowing us to delude ourselves into thinking we were closer to Super Bowl contention than we actually were?

The Seahawks only make significant changes when they fail to make the playoffs. Whenever we make the playoffs, we bring our coaching staff back, keep the majority of the veterans we’re able to keep, and try to fill in around the fringes with what little resources we have left over. We’ve never really committed to a true rebuild since the 2010 season, and it’s starting to feel like all those Mariners teams from 2004-2018. Close, but no cigar.

What’s this team going to do as a 7-seed? Probably go to Dallas and lose by double digits. We already couldn’t stop them once – the week after Thanksgiving – what makes you think we can stop them now, when our talent is actually more depleted thanks to injury? We tried our best to keep up offensively – putting up 35 in a losing effort – but literally everything had to go right for that to happen, and I’m not buying that we can do that a second time.

And even IF we somehow, miraculously, beat the Cowboys in Dallas (because, at their heart, they love to choke in the playoffs), what is our reward? Playing the 1-seed 49ers after a week off (and after playing no one of consequence in Week 18). Just the worst case scenario of all scenarios; we haven’t come CLOSE to beating them for the last two years now.

So, no, I don’t want to see us in the playoffs. I don’t even want to see us winning this week! I want us 8-9. I want that LOSERS label to be firmly stamped all over this team. Pete Carroll and John Schneider aren’t going anywhere. But, maybe with a losing record, they’ll stumble into the correct coaching and personnel moves to turn this thing around before we’re all old and gray.

Nobody Wants To Hear About My Fantasy Team 2023: Blitzed In The Finals

My Splinter League team – The Annexation Of Puerto Rico – lost to 50 Shades Of Gritty in the finals, 188.56 to 168.37. She had CeeDee Lamb and D.J. Moore going, which is really all you need to know. My team was good, but it was outclassed in this one. Really, she deserved to win; her team showed up and blew the doors off in both playoff games.

Last week was also disappointing because in my third league, I lost in the Consolation Bracket Finals, which may or may not have determined who gets the #1 pick next year. It was another instance where my team was good, but as fate would have it, I was going up against the team who’d have the very best game. 164.14 for Me So Zorny to 142.98 for RUM HAM! Considering my team averaged 95 points per game, I’d say I really did a number on those Consolation Bracket playoffs, but alas, it wasn’t enough.

So, that’s another fantasy season in the books. Regarding my main Dynasty League team, Sloane N Steady is our champion. He beat me in the first round of the playoffs – thanks to my stupid tinkering – so the two dudes who lost to him have me to thank. In following along, if I had NOT tinkered and actually won my first playoff game, I still would have lost the following week. But, there’s a very good chance I would’ve ended up in 3rd place overall, which would’ve been my best finish in this league in the Trophy Era, if I’m not mistaken. I don’t know how to receive this information. My team is good, but I’m also an idiot, I guess is the main takeaway.

Now, we head into the long offseason. At some point, we’ll have a post-season meeting to exchange the trophy and various monies, set a draft date, a keeper date, and have a pre-season meeting to discuss new rules/business. Assuming everything stays relatively the same, I’ve got a dynasty team to plan for.

The way we have it set up, you keep a starting roster, and re-draft your bench. Here’s who I’ve got to choose from:

Quarterbacks

  • Jordan Love
  • Justin Fields

I’m locked into these two, after dragging Bryce Young’s carcass across the entire season. Love ended up as the 6th-highest scoring QB in our league, ahead of Patrick Mahomes no less! By a good margin! Justin Fields ended up 18th, but he also missed all or parts of 5 games with injury. I’m happy with these two guys, but I’m also going to draft another young QB relatively early next year, likely with my 5th overall pick.

Love looks like he’ll be the guy in Green Bay for a good, long while. I’ll be interested in what the Bears end up doing with Fields. They have the #1 pick, and if it were me, I’d be on them to draft Caleb Williams. That being said, you can’t deny Fields has looked light years better as a passer this season, to go along with his elite running abilities. My guess is they keep Fields, trade down, compile a ton of picks, and see if they can make it work. Either way, I’m going to need Fields to stay healthy if I want my team to go anywhere next year.

Running Backs

  • Tony Pollard
  • Kyren Williams
  • Kenneth Walker
  • Zach Charbonnet
  • Ty Chandler

At this point, I’m leaning towards keeping Pollard, Williams, and Walker. But, obviously, a lot can change between now and the time I have to formally declare my keepers. Williams finished as the 5th highest scoring RB, and that’s after missing FOUR games! He’s a lock, for sure. Walker is just special, and feels like another lock for me (I’ll try to re-draft Charbonnet to have that handcuff again next year). My goal is to keep three RBs, since they’re usually so injury-prone. So, that would likely mean Pollard is back (he finished a disappointing 15th among RBs), but I can’t force it. I’ve got some REALLY interesting wide receivers to pick from, and even though they generally are easier to pick up in the draft, I might be better served keeping my FLEX from that pile.

We’ll see how the offseason goes. Ty Chandler is only a possibility if he gets a MASSIVE vote of confidence this offseason, works his tail off, and looks special in pre-season. Otherwise, I don’t know if I can trust the Vikings’ run game. I’ll also be curious to see what the Cowboys do in the draft; it wouldn’t shock me if they took a RB relatively high to compete against Pollard. Either way, this feels like the last time I keep Pollard; hopefully it isn’t the last time I keep a Cowboys RB.

Wide Receivers

  • CeeDee Lamb
  • Rashee Rice
  • Tank Dell
  • Jordan Addison
  • Drake London

Right off the bat, Lamb is a lock. He finished comfortably as the #1 scoring WR in the league. The only other guy on my team to finish in the Top 25 is Rice, who was 21st. I will say, for what it’s worth, that D.K. Metcalf only finished 19th, so it’s not like it was super-dumb of me to not keep him from last year. That being said, Christian Watson … let’s move on.

At the moment, it comes down to Rice and Dell. Assuming Dell comes back with no reported issues, it’s actually an interesting argument. Rice has been coming on in that Chiefs offense, but it’s still unclear whether or not they fully trust him to be the #1 guy behind Kelce. My concern is that his fate is being a solid possession receiver, but he never makes the leap to a true top dog. Either way, he’s got the best QB situation of all my guys. But, Dell is no slouch. He seems special, he got off to a fast start, but clearly there’s an injury concern I have to deal with. Dell is also undersized, but he seems to have incorporated himself into that offense a lot more. I’ll have to monitor both closely.

As for Addison and London, it all depends on who their respective teams bring in at QB. If they have bums throwing to them, then they’re going back on the scrap heap. Addison is at a further disadvantage since Justin Jefferson is also on his team and commanding lots of targets. London is someone I’m rooting for to find a competent thrower, as he really seems like he has an elite skillset. He could be another Mike Evans, if he just had the right guy getting him the ball.

Tight Ends

  • T.J. Hockenson
  • Trey McBride

One of the best moves I made late in the year was to pick up McBride as a free agent. It looks even smarter now that Hockenson has gotten hurt, and may not make it back in time to start the regular season. I have the 3rd and 8th highest scoring tight ends (and Hockenson might’ve been 2nd or 1st if he didn’t get hurt). McBride’s standing is even more impressive when you consider he was playing behind Zach Ertz and was hardly utilized for half the season. I’m leaning towards McBride given his youth and health, but it’s been a wonderful experience having Hockenson around.

Kicker

  • Dustin Hopkins

He finished 5th among kickers. That being said, I’ll almost certainly be looking for a replacement next year. For what it’s worth, Evan McPherson finished 14th, so that just goes to show you what you can do in kicker free agency. It’s always kind of a crapshoot.

Defense

  • N.Y. Jets

Sadly, we finished 10th. I blame injuries, I blame bad luck, and I mostly blame a stinker of an offense that kept giving opponents short fields. Regardless, not quite the juggernaut I was hoping for. We’ll see what shakes out next year, but … yeah I dunno.

It’s too early, but if I had to choose now, my keepers would be: Love, Fields, Williams, Walker, Pollard, Lamb, Rice, McBride, Hopkins, Jets. Thankfully, I have a lot of time left to make my decisions.

The Seahawks Suffered A Predictable Loss To The Steelers

I don’t think either of these teams are anything to write home about. Going in, if you had to look on the bright side, I’d say the Steelers have been somewhat carried by their defense, while the strength of the Seahawks resides with their offense. That being said, the Steelers’ defense isn’t THAT great, they just have certain great players that tend to lift things up for everyone else. Conversely, the Seahawks’ offense isn’t THAT great either, and ultimately couldn’t overcome a defensive front that made just enough plays in a 30-23 Steelers victory.

I’ve been saying – dating back to the Eagles game – that the Seahawks had an opportunity to win out, against three very beatable opponents. But, that was never a guarantee. The thing with the Seahawks is that they can also LOSE to any team they face, and that came into play in a game you otherwise might’ve predicted to be a Seahawks victory.

I didn’t have the time or the bandwidth last week to talk about this game, but I can tell you that in my pick ’em league, I picked the Steelers to win, and didn’t even have to give it a whole lot of thought. Not that they’re so vastly superior to the Seahawks. With third stringer Mason Rudolph at the helm, that’s even more fuel to the fire for the home team with the loudest fans in America. But, this is just that kind of game the Seahawks always lose. At home, in December, against a team we should beat. We were coming off of a couple close victories; it just felt like time for the Seahawks to stumble.

However, if I would’ve wrote about this last week, I would’ve been writing about a sure-thing Under bet. I was thinking about something in the realm of 16-13, in a battle of defense and field goal kickers. But, the Seahawks decided to go out and lay an egg defensively, with some of the worst tackling ever seen around these parts.

This game is hardly even worth talking about, so I’ll wrap it up with a few shout-outs. D.K. Metcalf had a good game (5 for 106), Leonard Williams, I thought, had the only great game on defense (6 tackles, 1 for loss, with a sack and 2 QB hits). And I thought Geno Smith was fine, but ultimately not good enough (22 of 33 for 290 and a TD, with a brutal fumble on his lone sack of the game).

This drops the Seahawks to 8-8. In order to make the playoffs, we need to win in Arizona next week, and we need the Packers to lose at home to the Bears. Remember last year when we needed to win and have the Packers lose to the Lions? It’s that all over again. I’m not ruling it out, but God damn am I rooting against it.

Meanwhile, the 49ers clinched the #1 seed, so that’s neat. The Rams also clinched a wild card spot. We don’t belong in those playoffs. God help us if we make it again as a 9-8 team.

The Seahawks Picked Up A Late, Ugly Win In Tennessee

As advertiesed, this game was kind of a slog. Also as advertised, this game was closer than it had any right to be.

The game was still 10-6 Titans with about 12 minutes left in the game, before a flurry of touchdowns resulted in a 20-17 outcome. I’ll be the first to admit, I had a lot going on Christmas Eve. At this point in my day, I was taking my step-daughter to meet with a friend, getting some coffee, and refilling some propane tanks. Then, it was time to clean my new outdoor propane griddle, followed by seasoning my new outdoor propane griddle. It was during this seasoning portion of my day where I was running in and out of the house to check in on the last couple drives. I distractedly saw the Titans methodically move the ball down for a go-ahead score, followed by the Seahawks very quickly (yet also somehow still methodically) moving the ball for the game-winning score. Condensed into this short window, you would’ve thought this was an exciting game! But, in total, it was wildly frustrating and more than a little boring.

Geno Smith returned from his injury and was fine. He looked pretty great in the fourth quarter, but for the first three the offense couldn’t seem to get much going. I’m sure part of that has to do with play-calling and offensive scheme, part of that has to do with Geno’s decision making, and part of that has to do with his protection. There were a number of times it was like no one was playing offensive tackle at all! It’s fine as rookies to have two guys under cheap, team-control. But, the more they play, the more they’re going to cost – even under the rookie contract structure – because they get raises based on playing time. If they’re still producing at the level they were as rookies – which was okay, but nothing compared to the best of the best – then that’s not really a value anymore. It’s just two underperforming tackles (who, not for nothing, are sandwiching three underperforming interior linemen).

As expected, the running game had a tough time getting anything going. Kenneth Walker did his best – with ample cutbacks and broken tackles – but could only muster 54 yards on 16 carries. There was a good mix of production out of Lockett and JSN, with D.K. finding the endzone, and Colby Parkinson bodying up his defender for a post-up game-winner. I will say that the Parkinson play was EXACTLY what we all envisioned when he was originally drafted. Only took four years to finally come to fruition.

I thought the defense looked just okay too. They didn’t allow Tannehill to get going, but then again, it’s Tannehill and he’s pretty washed up at this point. We did manage 6 sacks, and forcing them into 3 punts when they only had 6 possessions (not counting the two end-of-half drives resulting in no points) is actually pretty solid. But, behind Derrick Henry & Co., they also averaged 5.2 yards per carry (31 for 162), and it’s always annoying when we allow a running back to throw a TD pass.

Clearly, neither team had any interest in stepping on the gas in this game. There were 15 possessions total, 13 if you discount the end-of-half drives by the Titans that went nowhere. Get in, get out, hope to avoid injuries; that was the name of the game.

It was nice to see Boye Mafe get a couple sacks – after a pretty long stretch (it seemed like) without any – and for Bobby Wagner to add another to his ledger (with a couple of TFLs to boot). Dre’Mont Jones, Jarran Reed, and even ex-Titan Mario Edwards all had a sack to really pump up our numbers on the season. The Seahawks now have 45 on the year, which is good for a tie for sixth. Not too shabby.

This victory brings us to 8-7 on the season. Thanks to Minnesota’s loss to the Lions this weekend, we’re now the 7-seed in the NFC. There’s four 7-8 teams all with varying degrees of chances to overtake us if we drop one of the next two games. So far, the Vikings seem to have the best chance at that, sitting with a 6-4 conference record (the Seahawks are 6-5, with one game to go against the NFC down in Arizona in the final week of the season). The Packers are the other big threat to us; they have a 5-5 conference record and they face the Vikings this very week. Green Bay wraps up their season against the Bears, so if they were to win out and tie us in overall record, they’d leap over us (just as we did to them last year).

Based on Seattle’s level of talent, and the way we play the game of football, honestly nothing would surprise me. We could win out, we could go 1-1, we could lose both, or we could even tie one or two times! How insane would it be to finish 8-7-2? Not that insane at all, actually!

We all know how I feel about the Seahawks making the playoffs: I think it’s pointless and I think it will actively hurt us in the future (because the organization might believe – as they did last offseason – that we’re only a small tweak or two away from contending for a Super Bowl, and let another year go by without drafting a quarterback). But, if we proceed with the premise that the Seahawks are going to make it – because that’s just what they do – then there’s really only one viable option I want to see.

The 49ers just lost to the Ravens. That dropped them into a 3-way tie at 11-4 with the Eagles and Lions, but the 49ers have tiebreakers over both. That’s thanks to a head-to-head victory over the Eagles, and conference record over the Lions. The Seahawks are all but guaranteed to be the 7-seed; the only way we’d make the leap to 6 is if we overtake the Rams (who are also 8-7, but have won 5 of their last 6 games, as they appear to be one of the hottest teams in football outside of the city of Baltimore). And there’s no way we can take the 5-seed.

Worst-case scenario is: the 49ers fall to the 2-seed and whoop our asses in the wild card round (as they did last year). Second worst-case scenario is: the 49ers remain in the 1-seed, we beat whoever is the 2-seed (currently the Eagles), only to go into San Francisco and get demolished after they’ve had a week of rest.

So, what’s the best case scenario? Well, tbh, it’s either the 49ers fall to the 3-seed (which would require one loss by them, with the Eagles and Lions winning out) and we stay a 7-seed; or the 49ers fall to the 2-seed and we somehow get to the 6-seed.

In the first case, we would play the Lions in round 1, beat them, then go to Philly (who we have a pretty great track record against under Pete Carroll). In theory, if we win those two games, we’d go on to play the 49ers in the NFC Championship Game anyway. But, who knows? Maybe the Rams or the Cowboys knock them out of our way, and we have a much more winnable game in front of us.

In the second case, assuming a 6-seed Seahawks faces a 3-seed Lions, we’d have to hope that the 7-seed Rams take out the 2-seed 49ers. Then, the Rams would proceed to have to go to Philly (who would have the week’s rest), while we’d likely go to either Dallas or the winner of the NFC South (in case the Cowboys fall apart, as they’re known to do).

Neither seems very likely, even if you take out the parts where I’m assuming a Seahawks victory. Somehow, someway, you just know it’s going to end with the Seahawks losing to the 49ers in the first round. God football can be so stupid sometimes.

The Seahawks Got Their Improbable Victory Over The Eagles On Monday Night

I’m on the record as not necessarily wanting the Seahawks to win any more games. But, I was also on record as believing the Seahawks would win last night anyway, so I was more than a little tickled when Jaxon Smith-Njigba came down with that late TD with 28 seconds left in the game to go up 20-17. I was rather delighted when Julian Love came down with that game-clinching interception – his second of the game – to salt it away.

I will admit that it didn’t totally feel possible in the early going of that game. Once again, the Seahawks’ defense let an opponent march right down the field for an opening-drive touchdown. We gave up multiple easy third down conversions, and that’s not even counting all the times the Eagles easily Tush Pushed their way with a yard to go. There are two everlasting images I’ll have burned into my brain when it comes to the defense and this game: the behind-the-quarterback view of Hurts picking apart the middle of the field as Bobby Wagner stands there like a statue rather than follow the receiver in his vicinity, and Bobby Wagner jumping over the pile of bodies as Hurts converted multiple 3rd/4th & shorts, being swept away by his own momentum as if he were crowd-surfing at a rock concert.

Can you find the common thread in those two scenarios?

I’m not saying Bobby Wagner is the biggest problem with this team, or the only problem, but he is a problem. One of many.

I thought Hurts was pretty heroic in his effort last night, but I also thought he looked incredibly unwell. Even still, I don’t fully understand how the Eagles lost this game. I guess it just boils down to the two interceptions. The second one was a little understandable, given there wasn’t much time left and they needed to do something to get into field goal range. But, the first one was flat out uncalled for. First & 10 from Seattle’s 45 yard line, a deep ball to a receiver NOT named A.J. Brown or DeVonta Smith, and an underthrown one at that. That drive was easily going to end up being 3 points at a minimum. Instead, it ended up being the first turnover of a close game.

I’ll grant you that a more ticky-tack referee-ing crew might’ve called Love for a pass interference. I’m objectively of the opinion that it didn’t warrant a flag (but, I’m also a Seahawks fan, so can you really trust me?), but I also think it was a dumb decision in the first place. I know in the NFL, there’s this notion that you have to push the ball down the field and take chances deep. But, against a soft Seahawks defense that will give you ample opportunities underneath, if you just stick to the game plan that saw you take the opening drive 75 yards in 8 and a half minutes, you should have no trouble scoring a touchdown on every drive. Especially when you have the unstoppable weapon that is the Tush Push!

All that being said, what a cool game for Drew Lock. I came away mighty impressed with him, but also with a good amount of follow up questions. He finished 22/33 for 208 yards, 1 TD, and 0 INTs. He took 2 sacks that seemed pretty tough to avoid, try as he might. There were also a couple of out-routes that looked MIGHTY dangerous (to the point I was convinced a pick-six was in our future). I thought the plan to feature the run was crucial, and I found myself repeatedly annoyed when we went away from the run for no reason.

That doesn’t scream Franchise Quarterback to me. But, then you see this tweet about how he was 4/4 for 88 yards and a TD on 3rd & 10, and you can’t help but see the potential. That’s a great Eagles team, top 3 in the NFC and maybe top 5 in the entire NFL. We went into that final drive with under two minutes to go, one time out remaining, starting at our own 8 yard line, needing a touchdown (as we were down by 4). And Drew Lock orchestrated things beautifully, converting two of those aforementioned 3rd & 10’s. It was all on him; there wasn’t enough time to commit anything to the run, and he did it. With his arm.

But, then there are those other times in the game where Lock looks like any other backup. He had Tyler Lockett breaking away deep down field, but threw it too hard and on a line, not even giving him an opportunity to make a play on the ball (or draw a flag). Balls thrown into tight coverage, bouncing off of multiple arms before falling incomplete. Taking an intentional grounding penalty, looking a little flustered at times. Maybe that’s inexperience, and would get cleaned up with more consistent reps; or maybe that’s just who he is.

I was impressed by what I saw, but that’s in the context of having the absolute lowest expectations for Drew Lock. I still can’t say with any real certainty that he’s better than Geno Smith; I think Geno could’ve done the exact same things last night. Geno could’ve won us that game, for sure.

If I were to project what Drew Lock could potentially turn into, I keep coming back to someone like Ryan Tannehill. Put a great team around him, don’t force him to do too much, center things on a dominant running game, he could potentially put a team in the conference title game. But, a lot of things have to go right for that to work out, and even then, the ceiling isn’t super high.

It was cool to see Kenneth Walker bust out for 112 yards from scrimmage and a TD. D.K. Metcalf really came on late in the game after having a pretty quiet first half. And that catch by JSN at the end was a thing of beauty!

Defensively, Leonard Williams continues to be a beast in the middle. I loved what I saw from Michael Jackson – blowing up multiple wide receiver screens – and I thought Artie Burns had one of his best games. This made up for Devon Witherspoon being out injured, and Tariq Woolen being benched for large swaths of this game.

Of course, Julian Love was the superstar of this one, taking over for Jamal Adams (also out injured). My friend said it and I agree: we don’t win this game with Jamal Adams out there. We don’t win it with his stone hands dropping interceptions. In fact, he probably ends up giving up those reception yards, and the Eagles walk away in a blowout. That Adams injury sure seemed like a blessing, and I wouldn’t be totally against him being inactive for the rest of the year.

Shout out to Jason Myers for being perfect on the day, in really bad weather conditions. And a HUGE shout out to Michael Dickson, who was just nails punting the ball. He averaged 56 yards, with a long of only 59 on 5 punts. That’s consistent ass-kicking, when we absolutely needed to flip field position and force the Eagles into going long distances.

The win brings us to 7-7, and the 8th seed in the NFC, with three games to go. All of a sudden, the playoffs are not only a possibility, but I would argue very probable! Maybe if we ensure the 49ers are the #1 seed, we’ll have a chance to at least make it to the divisional round in an upset.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Seahawks Barely Beat The Commanders

What a strange game! The defense was nowhere to be seen on that first drive, then they settled down through the third quarter – limiting the Commanders to just two more field goals – and then they fell apart again in the fourth quarter.

The offense, meanwhile, scrabbled together three field goal drives in the first half – once again struggling in or near the red zone – only to pick it up a bit in the second half, and came up huge late in the game to eke out a 29-26 victory.

We looked at times both great and terrible in this game. In the end, talent won out, but I think what this game showed us more than anything is that the talent level of the Seahawks is much closer to the Commanders than it is to the 49ers or the truly elite teams in the NFC.

It was good to see the huge, crushing mistakes were eliminated in this one. I don’t think the Seahawks could’ve afforded any turnovers, and thankfully they managed to avoid them. Geno Smith had a good game, throwing for 369 yards and 2 TDs. D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett both had strong performances (7 for 98 and 8 for 92 and a TD, respectively). Kenneth Walker had some big plays (127 yards from scrimmage and a receiving TD), and Jaxon Smith-Njigba had a solid 4 for 53.

Defensively, the big story was Boye Mafe, with his seventh consecutive game with a sack. Leondard Williams had his first sack with the Seahawks. And the cornerbacks seemed to clamp down pretty good on the Commanders’ receivers. But, we also let their running backs run roughshod both on the ground and through the air, with lots of missed tackles/assignments.

It was critical for the Seahawks to limit pressure on Geno, and he ended up only taking one sack. This seemed to be his least-pressured game of the season, and his numbers looked pretty good accordingly.

Jason Myers came up huge, with five field goals, four from 40+, on a not-great weather weekend.

This brought the Seahawks back to 6-3 on the year, keeping pace with the 49ers. Now, we head to L.A. to take on the Rams in a rematch of that week 1 debacle. It’s hard to predict what that game is going to look like, without knowing the status of their key players.

The Rams are coming off of a BYE, and Matthew Stafford has been nursing a thumb injury. The Rams are, predictably, 3-6 on the year and look like they’re going nowhere. However, Stafford looks to be on track for his return this week, and as we all know, the Rams always play us tough, no matter how bad they are on paper.

I don’t think the Rams are any worse than the Commanders. That should, at the very least, give us pause. I don’t see any reason why this game shouldn’t be closer than the 30-13 drubbing we suffered at the start of the season, but I also see no reason why we would feel remotely confident. It’s really kind of a no-win situation. If we beat them, we were supposed to beat them; if we lose, then it’s going to be another miserable Sunday losing to the hated Rams in a game where we’re severely out-coached.

My official pick is somewhere in the realm of 27-24 Rams. I hope I’m wrong. But, I’ll also be on my honeymoon when it’s taking place, so if all goes according to plan, I won’t see one iota of this matchup.

The Seahawks Started Strong & Ended Lucky To Beat The Browns

The game certainly didn’t go the way I expected, at least through the first quarter. The last three quarters were pretty … yeah, pretty ugly.

I ultimately didn’t come away very impressed with the Browns’ defense. Seems like you can really move the ball against them. The Seahawks regularly had guys open, and were able to gash them on some pretty big runs (we averaged over 9 yards per carry with our running backs), and quite frankly, the Seahawks should’ve won by more. But, Geno Smith had an abysmal game, and … I’ve got thoughts about D.K. Metcalf.

Geno had 2 TDs and 2 picks. It’s hard to fully blame him for the two interceptions, because one was tipped, and the other was a situation where it looked like D.K. could’ve come back to the football instead of levelling off his route. But, nevertheless, neither were well-thrown balls, and both were pretty bad decisions. There was also the near-interception that was dropped by Cleveland – on a route where JSN was supposed to continue his route to the outside rather than cutting it short – that would’ve easily gone for a pick six; I would argue that was another terrible throw and poor decision, that had little chance of being completed even if JSN had run the route Geno thought he was going to run.

He was all over the place, all day. Balls too high, balls too low, balls behind guys. The best thing you could say about Geno’s day is that he only took one sack (to Myles Garrett, naturally) because he was quick with the release. Nevertheless, that lone sack came on 3rd & 11 from the Cleveland 41 yard line when we were down by 3 points in the fourth quarter. A promising drive to maybe tie the game ended in a punt, and almost resulted in a loss.

That’s because the Seahawks’ defense took a considerable step back in effectiveness in this one. It didn’t seem that way early! Just as it seemed like the Seahawks’ offense had itself figured out – taking a 17-7 lead through the first quarter – it seemed like the Seahawks’ defense would continue kicking ass and taking names, having forced a fumble on a Jordyn Brooks sack, and Woolen picking the ball off early in the second. But, the Browns were weirdly methodical for most of the rest of the game, cutting the deficit to 17-14 at halftime, then taking a 20-17 lead in the third quarter on a couple of field goal drives.

The Browns ran it 40 times for 155 yards. 3.9 yards per carry isn’t amazing or anything, but running it that many times means they were effective in moving the chains. They were 6/15 on third downs (0/1 on fourth), and held a 36:40 to 23:20 time of possession advantage. Part of that is Cleveland forcing four 3 & Outs, but part of that was them getting the job done on 3rd & short. P.J. Walker was no slouch in this one; not a great completion percentage (15/31), but he hit it for 8.0 yards per attempt, for 248 yards. Amari Cooper caught it 6 for 89, and David Njoku caught 4 for 77 and a TD. They really controlled the line of scrimmage, and nearly schemed us to death with screen plays.

The defense looked like it was reacting more than dictating terms. You could see glimpses of eliteness, but also too many instances of this team looking the way it’s looked the last few years. Maybe the Browns are just a bad matchup for us. If that’s the case, maybe try to sleep in next week when we play the Ravens at 10am, because they’re like the Browns if they only had an MVP at quarterback.

We would’ve lost this game if it weren’t for a ball bouncing off of a blitzing Jamal Adams’ helmet, landing in the outstretched arms of Julian Love late in the fourth quarter. With the ball at our own 43 yard line at the 2 minute warning, we were able to reignite the offense with a deft mix of short and intermediate passes, along with a superb play by Fant to rumble for 27 yards to set up a red zone situation. Jaxon Smith-Njigba caught either a swing pass or a screen and took it to the house behind a fantasic D.K. Metcalf block. Had the Browns completed that third down pass, though, and that very well might’ve sunk us.

As for D.K., I dunno. I am of the tinfoil hat opinion that he was secretly benched last week for talking smack about the team. As such, I was watching him closely to see how invested he’d be in the outcome of this game. I’d say that outlook is muddied.

He certainly didn’t appear to come close to drawing any 15-yard penalties, with a very workmanlike persona. You could see Browns defenders jawing at him, and then you saw D.K. turn around and walk back towards the huddle or to his own sideline. Very commendable, but of course, I’m not going to say he’s magically cured. We’ve seen him go stretches of being cool, calm, and collected, for games at a time.

I also saw a guy who only caught 5 balls on 14 targets. No egregious drops or anything, and given how bad Geno looked in this one, it’s hard to tell if the 9 incompletes were on the quarterback being wild, or the receiver not being where the quarterback thought he was going to be. Someone who has quit on his team – but doesn’t want to make it LOOK like he’s quit on the team – isn’t just going to blatantly drop balls that are right in his bread basket. He’s going to finesse it. He’s going to maybe be a half a step too slow. Maybe he goes out of his way to avoid contact. Maybe he pulls himself out of the game for an extra play or two.

That being said, his block on the game-winning TD was a thing of beauty, disengaging at exactly the right moment. So, I fully acknowledge that this is me being Tinfoil Hat Guy, but it’s just something I’m going to monitor going forward. I am nothing if not curious about this whole saga.

It was cool to see Tyler Lockett have a breakout game; feels like it’s been a while since he’s been as wide open as he was in this one. It was cool to see Jake Bobo hit an end-around for a 3-yard TD (sweet cut up the field when stringing it out would’ve gotten him stuffed). And, obviously, it was VERY cool to see JSN have the glory at the end.

On the defensive side of the ball, I thought we got levied with a bunch of ticky-tack bullshit. Two different hands-to-the-face penalties propped the Browns up and kept them moving; both seemed weak as hell, with either the offensive player moving his head into the opposing player’s hand, or the offensive player physically moving the defender’s hand with his hand into his own face. Either way, they were pretty glancing blows, and neither seemed to rise to the level of the intent of that penalty.

I thought Riq Woolen had a humongous game, and would’ve been even better if he could’ve gotten that second pick. Great to see him have such a big impact after all the eyes of the NFL community had been on Devon Witherspoon. Speaking of, I thought he was pretty quiet (except for, again, the ticky-tack penalty he had), which maybe speaks to teams avoiding him whenever possible. It also seemed like Jamal Adams had a pretty quiet game, until the very end with the head-block of the Walker pass. Cool to see Love get his first interception in a Seahawks uniform though!

Bobby Wagner was all over the place, Jordyn Brooks – at times – was the best player on the field, and Boye Mafe – at other times – was also the best player on the field. The latter two each had sacks, with Brooks getting the forced fumble, which was recovered by Mafe (who had 4 QB hits and a TFL). Also, big ups to Darrell Taylor for getting a game-sealing sack at the end, to eliminate any chance of a Browns late comeback.

Frank Clark did, indeed, make his return; he looked a little rusty. Derick Hall had a couple of really good plays, but also lost contain a couple times (one of them was a Walker scramble for 9 yards). You know who didn’t look rusty? Dre’Mont Jones, who not-so-quietly had a TFL and 3 QB hits. He made an impact, even if he didn’t blow up the stat sheet.

Great punting day by Dickson. Clean kicking day by Myers. The special teams didn’t take over the game or anything, but it also didn’t cost us.

I’m not going to say that’s a game you HAVE to have, but it’s one you really really want to have. They’re an AFC opponent, so obviously it means a little less that way. But, it’s a home game, it’s a winnable 50/50 type game, and it came against a highly-ranked defensive unit (who didn’t always look it on Sunday, and hasn’t looked it very much at all over the last two weeks). If nothing else, it’s nice to see the Seahawks just put up 24 points on a top tier defense. It’s nice that we didn’t totally go in the fucking tank for three full-ass quarters. We figured it out, when it mattered most. Geno had a crap game, yet he led us to a come-from-behind victory in the fourth quarter. These are the games you have to win if you’re going to contend for the division, and a spot among the NFC’s best.

Which, incidentally, is where we are now. At 5-2, we’ve surpassed the 49ers, who are 5-3 after losing their third straight game. We’re in first place in the division, and we’re only trailing the 7-1 Eagles (who, in spite of their record, don’t look nearly as dominant as they did last season); we’re tied with the 5-2 Cowboys, but I don’t know if anyone really considers them to be a legitimate top tier threat.