How Good Could The Seahawks Be (Quarterback Aside)?

Don’t get it twisted that I’m sitting here talking myself into the Seahawks making some noise in 2022; they’re not going to contend for shit! But, as an exercise to see my vision through – drafting a franchise quarterback in 2023, setting that player up for success now by building up the team around him a year ahead of time – I think it’s fair to wonder. Now that the draft is behind us, and we can start to piece a roster together, how good is this team at every position other than quarterback?

Let’s start at offensive line, since that was a big emphasis for the Seahawks in this draft. O-Line, as we all know, is vitally important to a team’s chances for success. Especially when you’re talking about breaking in a rookie QB. So, have we done enough?

Obviously, that depends on how these draft picks pan out. But, if they’re as good as a lot of people think they can be, this is going to bode very well for our future. As it stands now, going left to right, we’ve got Charles Cross, Damien Lewis, Austin Blythe, Gabe Jackson, and Abe Lucas. Lewis has two years under his belt, and has performed pretty well when healthy. Blythe comes in with extensive experience in winning programs (including as a former Ram, who this offensive coaching staff knows well), and Jackson is still an in-his-prime starting guard in this league. Either he sticks around, or the Seahawks look to improve at that spot in the draft next year; I’m fine with both scenarios. I think the O-Line has the potential to be very good, creating a nice, soft landing spot for a rookie QB in 2023.

Next, let’s look at weapons. Tyler Lockett is here for the long haul. The team has given every indication that D.K. Metcalf will see a second contract. Freddie Swain has proven to be a competent 3rd/4th/5th receiver. Dee Eskridge and our two rookies this year could be nice gadget players if they stay healthy. That’s a solid group.

Noah Fant is a good tight end, with the potential to be great. He’s right there on the fringe of being a top 10 guy. Will Dissly is the consummate blocking tight end, but he has soft hands and can play down the field. Colby Parkinson hasn’t shown much yet, but his frame should play well around the goalline. I would like to see what he can do when given an opportunity. I think the tight end room is also solid.

Then, we’ve got Kenneth Walker as our potential starting running back. He gets 2022 to play behind Rashaad Penny, giving us a 1-2 punch that could be pretty formidable in the short term. If Walker proves he deserves a shot at being the bellcow, I think he’ll run away with the job in 2023 and beyond. Figure the Seahawks will go back to the running back well in the draft next year, likely selecting a lower-round player to be his backup. There’s a lot that’s up in the air about the running back room right now, but it has the potential to be elite if Walker is The Guy.

As far as weapons go, you could do a helluva lot worse! I think with a year’s experience, that’s about as ideal of a landing spot as any rookie quarterback could find himself in 2023.

But, the real question is: how good could the defense be?

This doesn’t work if the defense isn’t ready to grow into a dominant unit over the next two years. That’ll be what I’m most obsessed about heading into the 2022 regular season. I need to see existing players take huge leaps forward, I need to see rookies develop relatively quickly. I need impact! I need this to be a group that harkens back to the 2011/2012 seasons, when they were clearly ascending.

Let’s go back to front, because I have more confidence in what we’ve done with the secondary.

Between Tre Brown and the two rookies, we need two of those three guys to pan out. My hope is that Brown returns from injury and parlays his brief excellence as a rookie into better things going forward. I’d also bank on Coby Bryant having enough of a chip on his shoulder – and enough skills as a corner – to wrench a job away from Sidney Jones. I’m also not against Jones simply being elite and earning a big money extension, because he’s still pretty young. There are obviously a ton of question marks in this group, but the ceiling is through the roof, and I’m willing to bank on this coaching staff getting the most out of these guys (in ways they thoroughly failed at with Tre Flowers & Co.).

Like it or not, Jamal Adams isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Definitely not before the 2022 season is through. So, he has at least this year to try to prove his worth to this defense. There’s certainly reason for optimism that – from a talent perspective – the coaching staff will find a way to maximize his game. But, can he stay healthy? If this is the third straight year where his season is drastically cut short, then I don’t see how you can keep him in 2023 or beyond. Quandre Diggs, on the other hand, should be a quality contributor for a while, and the younger players behind them (Ugo Amadi, Marquise Blair, Ryan Neal) are quality depth pieces we can roll with in a good defense. I think we’re well set up at Safety, even if the value isn’t there (with our two starters making an insanely high percentage of the salary cap).

Inside linebacker is pretty interesting. I think we’re all pretty happy with Jordyn Brooks and his production on the field. I was of the opinion that it was time to move on from Bobby Wagner, so it’s kind of a no-brainer for Brooks to slide into that spot. But, with the defense expected to be more of a 3-4 look, did we do enough? Are we really going with Cody Barton as the other inside linebacker? Sure, he looked … fine, in limited action towards the end of the season. From a value perspective, he was giving us 80% of Bobby Wagner for a fraction of the price. But, does he really wow you going forward? Is he someone this team would look to re-sign after this season?

I guess we’ll see! Seems to me, there’s no reason NOT to have an open competition at the other inside linebacker spot. Which makes it all the more shocking that the Seahawks didn’t make this position a priority in the draft. The good news is, if everything goes to shit here, they can easily draft one next year and plug him into the starting lineup immediately. Inside linebackers are a dime a dozen.

At outside linebacker/pass rusher, I think it’s fair to doubt the Seahawks completely. I’ll believe it when I see it, for lack of a better phrase. Uchenna Nwosu was the big free agent splash, and he signed a 2-year deal. His season high in sacks is 5.0, which he got last year. He’s a 4-year pro from the Chargers who is more like a veteran prospect than an actual veteran producer. Maybe he wasn’t in the right system? Maybe they didn’t utilize him properly? Maybe he just needed more time to develop? I guess his pressure rate might be better than it looks on the stat sheet, but I’m going to need to see him with my eyes before I can make a proper opinion. Is he a diamond in the rough? Or, is he another Rasheem Green?

Darrell Taylor is our prize. He missed out on his rookie season due to a lingering college injury, but as a second year pro he really stood out. 6.5 sacks in his first healthy season is pretty impressive; THAT’S something to build on. That’s the kind of talent you can see making strides during his rookie contract, unlike Nwosu, who never really put it together with his original team.

Then, there’s guys like Alton Robinson and Boye Mafe. Robinson had 4.0 sacks as a rookie, then regressed to the one sack last year. He might just be rotational filler, and it’s fair to question if he even makes the team. Mafe is a rookie, and unless you’re one of the top two or three in the draft, I never have confidence that lower-rated pass rushers will make an immediate impact. If he gets a few sacks, that’s good. If he gets 6+, that’s a little more encouraging. But, I wouldn’t expect anything like double-digits. He just doesn’t have the skills; it’s a whole new ballgame when you make the leap to the NFL. Mostly, I just hope he stays healthy – especially through training camp and the pre-season – so he can learn on the job as much as possible.

Beyond that, we have to talk about the 3-4 interior linemen. Some of them are considered defensive ends, but they’re “ends” in the way Red Bryant was an end. Shelby Harris came over in the Russell Wilson trade and figures to be a leader on this team. He’s already in his 30’s though, so presumably he’ll need to play well in 2022 to stick around going forward. Quinton Jefferson was signed as veteran depth to compete with L.J. Collier; you figure only one of those guys will make it. Then, there are the tackles, Poona Ford, Bryan Mone, and Al Woods. I like the tackles a lot! Harris is probably the best of the bigger ends we have. This looks like another spot that will need to be addressed after this season. But, as far as run stuffing is concerned, I think these guys are on the better side of average.

The defense is, by no means, a finished product. Far from it. But, you don’t really even have to squint to see where the potential lies. Pass rush is a concern and it always will be. But, I’ll say this about that: if everything else looks good, and if we manage to hit on the rookie quarterback next year, then we can attempt to do what we did in 2013 and sign a couple of quality free agent pass rushers, using all the free money we have laying around by not paying a quarterback at the top of the market. Free agency in 2023 and 2024 could be VERY interesting for the Seahawks, in ways it really hasn’t been since that Super Bowl-winning season.

TL;DR: there’s reason for optimism, but obviously a lot of holes to fill, and a lot of question marks currently on the roster to boot.

The Top 20 Seahawks Of 2021

The theme of this offseason – which I alluded to last Friday, but don’t think I properly answered – is: How Quick Can The Seahawks Get Back To Contending For Championships? Turning things around can be a little nebulous; if by “turning around” you mean getting back to the playoffs, as I’ve said before, we can pretty much run the same team back and hope variance takes care of everything else (on top of a second year with the same coordinator, and a little better injury luck). But, I don’t think very many of us are satisfied with “just making the playoffs”. We’ve been “just making the playoffs” pretty much the entire time Russell Wilson has been in the league! After getting a taste of back-to-back Super Bowls, I think the more hardcore fans are now rabid animals, desperate to get back no matter the cost.

The 2021 Seahawks were a collosal disappointment, no doubt about it. We started the season 3-8, it doesn’t get a whole lot worse than that. We lost to a lot of teams we had no business losing to (the Titans, the Vikings, the Steelers, the Saints, the Football Team, the Bears). Flip half of those games and we’re at 10 wins and in the playoffs. It’s not like we were TERRIBLE though. We finished 7-10 – a record we absolutely deserved – but we’re not in such bad shape that the roster MUST be completely turned over.

I have a list of 20 Seahawks from the 2021 team. I’ve split them into three categories: young rising stars, good guys who would find regular work on other teams, and the cream of the crop established superstars. So, let’s go in that order.

Young, Rising Stars

  • Jake Curhan (RT)
  • Tre Brown (CB)

Most every year, you stumble upon at least a guy or two who comes out of nowhere to really make an impact. Tre Brown was the first one this past season. As a 4th round draft pick, I didn’t expect a whole lot – if anything – from Tre Brown, as a rookie, or really throughout his career. The odds are stacked so far against you as a Day 3 draft pick. You could argue the Seahawks have had a lot of success drafting DBs late, but you could also argue we haven’t done so since 2012 (unless you’re a big Ugo Amadi fan; he’s okay, I guess, but I wouldn’t call him a rousing success). Tre Flowers, Tedric Thompson, Michael Tyson, Tye Smith, etc. are all the Day 3 busts we’ve accumulated since the L.O.B. heyday; I think we’ve proven that we’re not capable of just throwing any ol’ draft pick out there and turning them into studs.

So, yes, Tre Brown was a breath of fresh air! He was aggressive, without being reckless. He fit into the system without giving up huge cushions of yardage pre-snap. And, most importantly, he supplanted Tre Flowers once and for all, allowing us to cut him when he finally ran out of chances to make it in this defense. Which made his injury in November that much more demoralizing, because Brown looked like he’d be a 4-year starter with this team right away. Now, he’s gotta recover from knee surgery, and who knows how long it’ll be until he returns to form, if ever? I’m still holding out hope, though not for a 2022 return.

Jake Curhan, on the other hand, looks like he’s here to stay. He was an undrafted rookie in 2021 who slipped in the draft due to medicals. Those medicals don’t project to be as serious as once thought, and it appears he’ll be able to have a long and fruitful NFL career. He was able to slide into the right tackle spot when Brandon Shell went down with injury, and he really impressed! His pass protection isn’t quite there yet, but it’s not as dire from a tackle as it is with a guard; Russ was able to work with it and get away from a lot of the pressure coming from that side. Curhan’s run blocking proved to be top notch though, so at least he does SOMETHING well! That’s more than we could say for the revolving door that’s been the right tackle spot since Breno Giacomini manned the position. Making it through his rookie season injury-free gives me even more hope as we head into 2022, when he’ll project to take a step forward in his development.

Better Than Replacement-Level Players

  • Gerald Everett (TE) *
  • Damien Lewis (G)
  • Alton Robinson (DE)
  • Poona Ford (DT)
  • Al Woods (DT) *
  • Carlos Dunlap (DE)
  • Bobby Wagner (LB)
  • Sidney Jones (CB) *
  • D.J. Reed (CB) *
  • Rasheem Green (DE) *

I didn’t put these in any particular order, but if I’m being honest, D.J. Reed was the one I was most on the fence about; he might be an elite player, I’d just like to see more than 2 interceptions a year out of an elite corner.

These are all guys who aren’t quite studs, but if we cut them (or they’re free agents, which is what the * represents), I would expect all of these guys to find jobs on other teams. Anyone I didn’t list here, or in the upcoming elite category, are guys who may or may not find work elsewhere, but don’t have a ton of value to an NFL team outside of depth.

These guys, however, are productive enough, but I could probably take ’em or leave ’em. They all have flaws. Everett is a weird headcase who cost us too many yards in stupid fucking penalties (not to mention all the drops). Lewis has run into a string of injuries and doesn’t feel quite as irreplaceable as he was as a promising rookie. Robinson just didn’t take that next step in his second year, finishing with a disappointing number of sacks. Poona and Woods are run-stuffing tackles, there’s a ceiling for what those guys are (and it’s in this category). Dunlap has only showed up for half-a-season in each of his two years here. Wagner’s just flat out lost a step and doesn’t make the same number of impact plays as he did as a young buck. Jones and Reed need to generate more turnovers. And Green is taking his sweet-ass time to really bust out as a force in this league.

Elite Seahawks Studs

  • Russell Wilson (QB)
  • Rashaad Penny (RB) *
  • D.K. Metcalf (WR)
  • Tyler Lockett (WR)
  • Darrell Taylor (LB/DE)
  • Jordyn Brooks (LB)
  • Jamal Adams (S)
  • Quandre Diggs (S) *

Again, no particular order, but Brooks is the one I was most on the fence about. He might just be another guy. But, he led the team in tackles in his second season (his first as a starter), and all the smart football wonks have been praising his play since he started getting in there. There haven’t been a ton of impact plays, but he’s making all the regular ones, and he’s another guy who should continue to improve over the next year or two.

Diggs and Penny both feel like guys who need to be re-signed. It’s tantalizing to envision a scenario where Penny can stay healthy and dominate the league (I’ll be FASCINATED to see where he goes on fantasy football draft boards heading into next year).

Seeing the offensive players on this list, it’s all the more frustrating that we weren’t able to move the football and score as much as we’d like. So many NFL teams would KILL for the type of talent we have at the skill positions. Let’s hope – if things do carry over into 2022 – that it was just an adjustment period to the new offensive coordinator, and we’re now over the hump.

As for the defense, those were some nice players for us (particularly encouraging to see Taylor here, considering this was his first full year, after being injured his entire rookie season), but in order for Taylor to remain on this list, he’s going to have to really turn it up in 2022, and be a kind of Von Miller-like talent off the edge. The Seahawks have been in dire need of that kind of pass rushing monster for years now; if they don’t get it this offseason, then I’d expect more of the same middling finishes for years to come.

We’re not bereft of talent, but obviously you’d like to see more than 8 players in that elite category. I don’t know what it’s going to take to get there, but that feels like a tall ask to do in one offseason.

Seahawks Position Breakdown 2021: Offensive Line

This group strikes me as having the highest possible variance of any group on the team. If someone traveled back in time to now – from the season’s end – and told me the Seahawks will have a Top 5 O-Line, I’d believe them. If they told me the Seahawks will have a Bottom 5 O-Line, I’d believe them. I mean, they’ve mastered the technology of time travel, so why wouldn’t I believe them? But, you understand what I’m getting at.

I have a lot of conflicting thoughts about the Duane Brown situation – which you can read about in the bottom half of this post – but the vast majority of that variance lies right here. For the Seahawks to have a good-to-great offensive line, Duane Brown needs to play every game in the regular season and continue playing at the level we’ve seen from him since he donned a Seahawks uniform. He’s special. He’s fucking huge and athletic and one of the best left tackles in football. He’s also getting up there in age, and that cliff is right around the corner. We won’t know he’s fallen off of it until that injury strikes, and when it does, I anticipate it’ll be devastating for all involved.

If Duane Brown holds out, or demands a trade, or suddenly retires, it’s going to be REALLY dark for this unit, this offense, and this team as a whole. The Seahawks just don’t have the depth – particularly at tackle – to overcome such a loss! That has to be a big reason why he’s holding out to begin with: he knows he has the Seahawks over a barrel! Brandon Shell is a right tackle, end of story there. He’s a fine right tackle, when healthy, but you’re not moving him to the other side of the line and getting anything close to competent play. There’s a lot to like about Jamarco Jones’ skillset; I think he does have the talent to play left tackle at this level. But, he’s proven throughout his career that he’s incapable of staying healthy. And, not for nothing, but he’s injured NOW! That’s a bad sign. Cedric Ogbuehi has already told the team he thinks he’s better suited to play right tackle rather than left; the team seems to think he’d be good enough on the left side, at least in a fill-in capacity. But, he too is currently injured and it’s unknown how long he’ll be out for.

That leaves rookie tackles Stone Forsythe and Jake Curhan; one taken in the sixth round, the other an undrafted free agent. Are you ready to hand over the starting left tackle job – arguably the most important spot on the O-Line; we’ve all seen the movie – to a lottery ticket prospect?

I don’t want to shit all over the depth on this team, because there’s actually a lot to like about what we have on the O-Line. Duane Brown and Brandon Shell are quality starters in this league. Cedric Ogbuehi and Jamarco Jones are viable backups in this league, when healthy. I think Forsythe and Curhan are interesting projects that very well could develop into something solid in a year or two. But, when both of your primary backups are injured at the moment, and one of your starters is holding out, that’s a scary proposition!

It’s unfortunate, because there’s a lot to like about the interior. Damien Lewis returns and is being flopped over to left guard. He had a special rookie season last year, starting all his games at right guard. I don’t believe he has much – if any – experience on the left side, but it’s early enough in his NFL career that I’ll buy his ability to learn on the fly. Gabe Jackson is a veteran we brought in who’s proven as a capable right guard in this league. Considering how much we struggled in our interior protection – especially against Aaron Donald and the Rams, our main NFC West rival – this was our most critical upgrade of the offseason. To top it off, we return Ethan Pocic at center, and are having him compete with Kyle Fuller, Phil Haynes, and whoever else. So, the winner of that battle should be pretty well tested; there won’t be a question that man has earned his job.

The great thing is that everyone competing at center can also slide over and play guard in a pinch. On top of that, if Jordan Simmons can stay healthy, he’s flashed true greatness at the guard spot; much like Jamarco Jones, though, he just hasn’t proven he can remain on the field for more than a week or two.

If the Injury Gods are our friends this year, I think the offensive line can be rock solid for us. That’s going to be vital, since we’re breaking in a new offensive coordinator/play-caller. I don’t need Russell Wilson worried about his protection when he’s trying to parse where the ball is supposed to go in a vastly new system. I also don’t need this offense consistently behind the sticks because we can’t run the ball effectively when we want to run the ball. We all have enough to worry about with this offensive system, I’d rather not throw personnel into the mix of concerns.

The talent on this side of the ball, from quarterback on down, is good enough to compete for an NFL championship. But, that won’t matter if we’re saddled with scrubs along the offensive line. We’ve seen that movie TOO MANY TIMES in Russell Wilson’s tenure here.

My grade for this unit probably tops out at an A-, but it can fall all the way down to an F+ if we’re unlucky. Let’s just hope the Duane Brown situation doesn’t go nuclear, because I don’t think anyone’s going to be happy with the results.

The Seahawks Made A Lot Of Smallish Deals While I Was On Vacation

All right, let’s run through the list, because I got a lot to do today.

  • Nick Bellore (FB) signed a 2-year, $4.45 million deal that’s probably just a smallish 1-year deal with no guarantees in year two, to spread out the salary cap burden
  • Chris Carson (RB) signed a 2-year, $10.425 million deal with a void-year tacked on to spread out the salary cap burden (only 2021 is guaranteed)
  • Ethan Pocic (C) signed a 1-year, $3 million deal with a void-year tacked on to spread out the salary cap burden
  • Benson Mayowa (DE) signed a 2-year, $8 million (approx.) deal with two void-years tacked on to spread out the salary cap burden
  • Kerry Hyder (DE) signed a 3-year, $16.5 million deal
  • Jordan Simmons (OG) signed a small 1-year deal
  • Cedric Ogbuehi (OT) signed a 1-year deal

Okay, that’s all I know about right now. In addition, David Moore signed a 2-year deal with the Panthers; he was solid, I’m sure we all wish him well. He greatly outperformed his 7th round draft status.

The Seahawks had one of the best Special Teams units in 2020, and Nick Bellore was a major reason why, so it’s great to have him around covering kickoffs and punts. He doesn’t do much as a fullback, and I don’t expect that to change.

Chris Carson, I will admit, is a bit of a surprise to me. I don’t know if this changes the Seahawks’ needs to go out and find a long-term replacement, but I guess we’ll have to wait and see. That means we essentially have the same running back room as 2020, minus Carlos Hyde (but, hopefully, with a full season of Rashaad Penny). I don’t think anyone was excited about Penny as this team’s lead back, but obviously we all know the risks with Carson and his injury-prone style of play. He’s elite when he’s healthy, and it’s a continual struggle to keep him healthy. The money isn’t terrible though. There’s an out after 2021, or if he stays healthy and kills it, we have him at a reasonable number for 2022.

Ethan Pocic is an okay center. The Seahawks have had a run of okay centers for a while now. My hope is that either we look to solidify this position with one of our few draft picks, or the addition of Gabe Jackson on the left side, with the continued emergence of Damien Lewis on the right side, will mitigate Pocic’s limitations.

Love having Benson Mayowa back! Great deal for a solid player! When he was healthy last year, he really wreaked havoc, and I don’t see him as one of those injury-prone type of guys, so there’s no reason why he couldn’t bounce back to play a full 16-game season. Locked in at two years for such a low number is incredible if he reaches his full potential!

I’ll skip over the real prize of this haul and talk about Jordan Simmons. He was let go, as opposed to being tendered, and is back at a presumably-lower salary figure. He’s a depth piece, and it’s always important to have depth. I thought he played pretty well when he had to fill in for Mike Iupati, so this feels like a no-brainer.

Same thing with Ogbuehi. He struggled at first in filling in for Brandon Shell, but I thought he came on towards the end of the season. I hope to Christ that right tackle isn’t a revolving door again this year, otherwise the Seahawks are going to have to get their asses in gear for 2022. The rest of the defensive lines in the NFC West aren’t getting any WORSE, I can tell you that much!

Okay, with all of that out of the way, let’s talk about Kerry Hyder.

I’ll be honest, I don’t know this man. They say he was on the 49ers last year and had 8.5 sacks, but that all flew well below my radar. He will be 30 years old this year and some have compared him to a Michael Bennett type (boy do I loathe hearing that comp after years of the Seahawks trying to draft guys to fit that mold).

It doesn’t look like Hyder has done a TON in his career. He had 8.0 sacks with the Lions in 2016, otherwise he has 2.0 sacks combined in his other four years. But, people are saying this is a great signing for the Seahawks, so I’m willing to listen to them. They’re the experts, I’m some jagweed sitting at a laptop, writing on a blog no one reads.

I think we’re all a little concerned that this means the Seahawks aren’t bringing back Carlos Dunlap. I read somewhere that the Seahawks are technically OVER the cap already, and will need to make some moves to get back down under it. But, I also read that the signing of Hyder doesn’t necessarily preclude the Seahawks from also going out and getting Dunlap, as they play different defensive end spots. I don’t know if any of this is true, I haven’t done the research; I’m still mostly on vacation-mode.

With it appearing that Bruce Irvin won’t be coming back, and the salary cap what it is, this COULD be it for the major moves. How do we feel about essentially the same D-Line as last year, with Hyder in for Dunlap? Well, that puts Mayowa back in a role where he’s more of an every-down lineman, which he did notably struggle with early in the season. He blossomed when his snap counts went down and he was free to get after the quarterback at a higher rate.

It would be FUCKING AMAZING if we could also get Dunlap back in the fold, but that’s looking mighty grim, all things considered. We also have to extend Jamal Adams, after all. Maybe this is a good sign for Alton Robinson, or Darrell Taylor? We’ll see, I guess.

It’s still early, so obviously there’s a lot to go down between now and the start of the regular season.

K.J. Wright Won’t Be Giving The Seahawks A Hometown Discount

I believe these were sentiments Wright brought up a couple years ago when he was a free agent, and I think he’s done multiple interviews recently – as, again, a free agent – telling people that he won’t be giving the Seahawks a deal when it comes to re-signing K.J. Wright. To which I reply … okay?

Look, I know the coaching staff and front office have their guys that they love to death. Leadership, performance on the field, who they are as people, all of it is top notch. But, at some point, you have to pull the plug and move on with your life. I appreciate that he’s letting the team – and, by extension, the fans – know where he stands. I think that sort of honest and open communication is important; don’t leave it up to assumptions. I don’t care who you are, people prefer to be optimistic; they’re always hoping beyond hope for the ideal circumstances to come to pass. Reality, more often than not, gets in the way of that. The reality here is: K.J. Wright will be 32 years old next season. It will be his 11th year in the league. He’s been very durable and very good at his job to date. There are only so many more years left in him where he’ll be playing at such a high level, so this could very well be his final opportunity to get paid a significant amount of money. He SHOULD try to squeeze every last dollar out of his NFL career while the getting’s good!

And the Seahawks SHOULD NOT be the team that helps him along that path.

Fuck it, man: linebackers are a dime a dozen, there I said it! I would rather the Seahawks play nobody but guys on rookie deals at those three spots for the rest of my football-viewing life, as opposed to giving ANYONE a second contract, let alone a third or fourth one. Because, for starters, with defenses needing to be in Dime defense so often (usually 2/3 of the time at a minimum), you’re much more likely to only need two linebackers as opposed to three! We’re already paying Bobby Wagner at the top of the middle linebacker market, now we’re supposed to pay upwards of $10 million per year to keep K.J. Wright around on top of that? When we JUST drafted Jordyn Brooks to be his replacement? When we previously drafted Cody Barton and Ben Burr-Kirven the year prior? When we can go on the scrap heap at any time and sign a competent free agent for the bare minimum? I mean, what are we doing here?! What are we talking about here?!

I say this all the time, but I’ll say it again: the Seahawks are not flush with cash. The Seahawks are also riddled with holes to fill. And, as I’ve mentioned, just bringing back the same guys from last year isn’t going to be enough to push this team over the hump.

Let’s really look at that last part, because more than anything I’m afraid this is where we’re headed. It is RARE for a team to only need to keep its guys intact and either be as good or better than they were the previous season. If you look at the Chiefs, for instance, they won a Super Bowl and largely just kept the team the same (with draft picks and small signings filling in the cracks here and there); they were able to make it BACK to the Super Bowl, but of course, lost to Tampa. Even THAT loaded team, with the best quarterback alive, couldn’t win back-to-back titles.

Now, look at the 2020 Seahawks. 12-4, NFC West Champs … lost in the Wild Card round at home to a divisional rival. A rival who, not for nothing, got significantly better by trading Jared Goff for Matthew Stafford (and whose only significant loss to date was having their Passing Game Coordinator – a made-up title for a coach who does next-to-nothing – go to the Seahawks to run the offense). If we run THAT Seahawks team back again in 2021 somehow, you’re still talking about a squad that almost certainly won’t be a legitimate Super Bowl contender. The Seahawks need to get BETTER, not stay the same.

For the sake of argument, are there any opportunities for the Seahawks currently under contract to get better on their own? I’m sure I’ll enjoy what Damien Lewis looks like in year two, since he was so great as a rookie. There could be some defensive linemen who continue to incrementally improve. The offense – under a new scheme – will hopefully make things easier for everyone on that side of the ball.

But, if I’m being honest, I think the biggest leap in production might come from the aforementioned Jordyn Brooks! He showed a lot of improvement as his rookie season went along, to the point where he had supplanted Wright in the base defense. I would like to see what Brooks is able to do with the job full-time, with the knowledge he has from a year in the league, and the growth he’ll show by being comfortable in being a professional.

As far as I’m concerned, the $10 million (or whatever) that Wright is looking for: that’s money that can be used to sign other guys. Between that, the money we get for converting Russell Wilson’s base salary into a signing bonus, and maybe reworking a few other deals, that should be enough to fill the holes we REALLY need to fill. Along the offensive and defensive lines, as well as tight end (apparently).

It’s a cliché in the NFL because it’s true: it’s better to give up on someone a year too early rather than a year too late. Extending Wright yet again feels like a “year too late” proposition that I would rather not see come to fruition. So, let him go get his money. Apparently there are Seahawks fans out there who cringe at the notion of Wright in another team’s uniform. I am decidedly NOT one of those fans. It will be a bummer, but I’m smart enough to know this is a business. And in business, you have to take emotion out of it.

All The Russell Wilson Chatter Is Boring To Me

Russell Wilson’s personality is as bland and vanilla as it gets in sports. He spews an avalanche of clichés in every single interview, as if his brain is on autopilot, and some artificial intelligence pulls random clips from its central database, shoving them out of his mouth as quickly as his vocal chords can formulate the sounds. Do you want to meet the absolute KING of being non-controversial? I have yet to find anyone who says less with more than Russell Wilson.

Which is why his recent barnstorming of national sports media entities has been so noteworthy. It feels like he’s finally saying something! Maybe even – *GASP* – speaking his own mind?!

Apparently, in this world we live in today, you always have to take a side (as if the issues aren’t more nuanced and complex than that, be it politics, religion, or the highest paid member of a football team and his desire to not be hit so fucking much). Some people are upset with Russell Wilson; they feel he’s throwing both the offensive line and the organization as a whole under the bus (especially those in charge of personnel). I can see that, in a sense. He’s the highest paid player on the team and one of the highest paid players in the entire league; quit your bitching and do your fucking job. If you’re going to hamstring an organization with your astronomical salary – when guys like Tom Brady (guys you’re envious of, because he wins so much) take slightly less in guaranteed money to help their teams fill out their rosters with higher-calibre talent – then you don’t get to complain when they don’t have enough money to stack the O-Line full of All Pros.

I mean, I guess they could stack the line like that, if they wanted to have zero talent whatsoever on defense.

It’s a team game. Football teams are quite large. You have to pay 53 of them and then some, and there’s only so many high-value contracts to go around. When one player – like, say, the quarterback – takes up anywhere from 15-20% of the salary cap, that’s obviously going to be to the detriment of the rest of the roster. As any douchebag on the prowl in a nightclub will tell you, it’s a numbers game!

That being said, Russell Wilson has a point. He’s being sacked too damn much. He’s being hit too damn much. While he has been remarkably durable in his nine seasons – never missing a game – if we’re not more careful, one of those hits WILL seriously injure him. And then where will we be?

Now, obviously, as I said before, this is a team game. It’s not all on the offensive line. Russell Wilson shoulders his share of the blame, and he’s owned up to that. People seem to want to gloss over that fact, particularly when they think he’s denigrating his O-Line; I guess people will always hear what they want to hear, and read into things when they’re not necessarily there. But, it’s also true that TOO OFTEN, he’s being pressured before he has anywhere to go with the football. As a winner, as a never-give-up kind of guy (a trait we’ve come to admire since he got here), Wilson is going to try to do whatever it takes to make a play. Think of all the dazzling highlights over the years that have come off of busted plays! Those are firmly entrenched in our memory banks for the rest of time!

While the O-Line had a pretty good rate of success in pass protection this past season, I would question who the competition is from game to game. Are the games against inferior defenses propping up the utter disasters, like we saw against the Rams (THREE FUCKING TIMES), when they ran roughshod over our O-Line like they were a wet paper sack? I don’t care about our pass protection success rate against the likes of the Jets, Falcons, and an injury-ravaged 49ers team; I care when we’re going up against the elite defenses and can’t do a God damned thing offensively to move the ball!

That isn’t Russell’s fault. Especially those fucking Rams games.

If I were Wilson, I’d be furious too, seeing what Tom Brady had to enjoy in his playoff run. They played three games, all on the road, leading up to hosting the Super Bowl, and he was NEVER pressured all that much. Maybe a little in that Green Bay game, but they still put up plenty of points. To absolutely dominate a solid Chiefs defense in that Super Bowl was a masterclass in protection and play-calling.

Which gets me back to the whole team aspect. It’s not all on Wilson’s shoulders, nor is it all on the O-Line, but you have to throw play-calling and offensive scheme into the mix.

Ultimately, this makes the timing of this media campaign so confusing, because the Seahawks seemed to have already put in the work to deal with this issue in hiring Shane Waldron from the Rams. We’re assuming, with good reason, that our offense going forward will feature a much quicker passing game, based on timing and improved route running to get guys open easier. So, Wilson won’t have to spend more than 2.5 seconds on the regular waiting for guys to get open, only to huck up a 50/50 ball or throw it out of bounds while getting smashed by very large defensive linemen.

This is a guy, not for nothing, who was reported to be a favored choice of Wilson to boot! He got what he wanted: he had input about the team’s next offensive coordinator (and, by design, input into how the offense will function going forward). And he’s still complaining? What’s the endgame here?

If it’s telling the front office to find a better left guard, I think they got the hint. If Mike Iupati is re-signed one more fucking time, I’ll fucking lose my shit! He is TOO OLD! Retire already; you are literally going to kill yourself decades prematurely at this rate! Other than that, and maybe improving the center spot, I think you have to be relatively happy with the offensive line we have. Duane Brown is still playing at a Pro Bowl level, Damien Lewis looks like an entrenched starter at right guard for the next decade, and Brandon Shell played MUCH better than any of us expected, until someone rolled up on his ankle and he had to miss time and play hurt the rest of the way.

If it has to do with protection under those circumstances – of injury and the like – then a better scheme (not just with routes, but also extra protections/chips on the end of the line) should help fix that as well.

But, if Wilson’s ultimate objective is more ulterior, then clearly we have a bigger problem on our hands. Many believe this is his way of ultimately forcing his way out of Seattle. I don’t think that’s a surprise to anyone, particularly when he ended up marrying Ciara; not that I would put the blame on her in any way. I believe Russell Wilson wants to be a mogul and he’s always had that as his goal; marrying someone like Ciara is just part of that. But, he wants to be a mover and a shaker, and for some reason you can’t do that in a place like Seattle? It has to be L.A. or New York or maybe Florida or Texas or Chicago.

If this was just about football, and being the best quarterback of all time, there’s no reason why he couldn’t do that here. The Seahawks are one of the most stable, successful organizations in the NFL; if he wanted to, he could win all he wants here. But, he’s about more than football.

I agree with the point that Mike Salk made on the Brock & Salk podcast this week; I think this is the beginning of the end. It started a teensy bit last year when he made a comment about wanting more stars on the Seahawks. It’s ballooned out here with his latest comments about not wanting to be hit so hard. This coincides with a reduction of the NFL’s salary cap, at a time when the Seahawks have little wiggle room to acquiesce to his demands. If you think the Seahawks are in a position to go out and sign a high-priced offensive lineman, you’re out of your mind! So, when the Seahawks ultimately fail to cave in to Wilson’s demands – not because they’re unreasonable, but because they financially can’t afford to at this moment in time – Wilson can look back and say, “Hey, I tried, but they won’t play ball with me, so I want out.” That could be as early as next offseason – assuming we fail to win it all, as we most likely won’t – but I bet if it doesn’t, it’s at least within the next two years.

If Russell Wilson ends up signing another extension with the Seahawks – beyond this one that is set to expire after 2023, not counting Franchise Tag years – I will be SHOCKED.

At which point, assuming the Seahawks don’t win a Super Bowl next season, maybe he’ll be doing us a favor by demanding a trade. If we can get a crazy-high draft pick, or take on some other team’s disgruntled superstar quarterback, maybe it’ll be better for everyone?

But, for right now, it’s all just noise and speculation. I wouldn’t even be writing about it if there was literally ANYTHING ELSE in Seattle sports to talk about.

Looking At Some Of The Impactful 2020 Seahawks Additions

Football teams have a number of players who carry over from year to year – you always try to do whatever you can to keep your very best players at your most important positions – but for the most part teams are constantly evolving. You need an influx of fresh blood every season if your goal is to improve; rare is the team that just tries to hold onto the players they’ve already got (even then, that only lasts about a year or so before the salary cap constraints force you to start the inevitable churn). So much of a team’s success depends on the quality of those incoming players (and the relative health of your best guys), that it can be easy to overlook their accomplishments.

The 2019 Seahawks were a pleasant surprise that made the playoffs, but they were never really serious contenders for the Super Bowl. The 2020 Seahawks have been a pleasant surprise that has already locked up the NFC West; it’s debatable if this team can contend for a Super Bowl, but it’s inarguable that these Seahawks are better than the ones from a season ago. So, let’s take a look at – and try to rank in order of their impact – the new guys who have pushed us a little further over the hump.

In honor of the 12’s, let’s talk about the Top 12 most impactful newcomers. As you’ll see, they’re not all technically new to the team, but I’m also including guys who were holdovers who hardly played at all before this year. Before we get to the Top 12, here are a few honorable mentions:

Snacks Harrison was a guy a lot of people talked about in the run-up to the season, as a potential free agent signee. But, run defense has never really been our problem, and that’s what he does best as a run-stuffing defensive tackle. Yet, we got him back into shape midseason, and he played quite well in Bryan Mone’s absence. With Mone back, Snacks sadly asked for his release; it’s a shame there wasn’t room for him in the rotaton. Freddie Swain is a rookie 6th round wide receiver I had ZERO expectations for, but he’s had a quietly nice season (13 catches, 159 yards, and 2 TDs). As a fourth receiver new to the NFL, I’ll take it. Greg Olsen is an overpaid veteran tight end who has nevertheless been a contributor. He’s still not worth the money it cost to get him here, and he did miss a few games with a foot injury, but he worked his way back for the playoff run, and has had some nice catches on third downs to keep the chains moving (24 for 239 on the season, with 1 TD). Finally, Ugo Amadi just misses the cut. He was a rookie last year, but he wasn’t trusted with much playing time on defense. He’s stepped into a nickel cornerback role we all figured he’d be well-suited for, and he’s been great! With two more years of team control on his rookie deal, Amadi is looking like a real find for us.

12 – Ryan Neal

If I wanted to pull a cop-out move, I would’ve had Amadi and Neal tied for 12th, but then that would’ve made this a Top 13 list, and that’s just … unlucky! I put Neal just inches higher than Amadi because he REALLY came from out of nowhere to help this team out when we were in a real jam! Allegedly, Neal was on the Seahawks in 2019, but I couldn’t tell you a single thing about what he accomplished. I think he was either a practice squad guy, or one of the very lowest men on the totem pole, and that continued into the 2020 season. But, then Marquise Blair and Lano Hill – our #3 and #4 safeties – went out with injury early this season. That bumped Neal up to #3 on the depth chart, which ultimately thrust him into a starting role when Jamal Adams (spoiler alert, he ranks VERY high on this list) was out for his own injuries for a few weeks. Neal not only held his own, but he has made huge impactful plays nearly every game he’s stepped onto the field! He had picks in back-to-back games and has had lots of huge hits. It’s comforting knowing he’s around to fill in as needed.

11 – Alton Robinson

Speaking of another rookie I didn’t expect ANYTHING out of, let me introduce you to our 5th round defensive end. Remember how everyone thought Darrell Taylor (our 2nd rounder) would be the guy from this draft class to step in immediately to make an impact? Well, Taylor has yet to get healthy enough to play (and almost certainly will be held out for the entirety of his rookie season); meanwhile, Robinson has been thrust into a reserve pass rush role and has 4 sacks on the season! That’s great! Not for nothing, but our leading sacker in 2019 also had 4 sacks, which gives you an idea of what we thought of our pass rush heading into this year.

10 – L.J. Collier

Here’s another holdover who did nothing as a rookie last year. Collier has gotten plenty of snaps at both defensive end and tackle, and while he hasn’t flashed as you’d hope a first round draft pick might, he has 3 sacks on the year and a number of other impactful plays along the line of scrimmage, to be significantly better than the bust I was ready to label him as. I can’t say the sky is the limit, but getting even just competent play out of him is better than nothing.

9 – Carlos Hyde

With Rashaad Penny starting the year on the PUP list, and with Chris Carson as our injury-prone starting running back, the Seahawks were in need of a quality backup. Hyde was on the market and got a fair market value. I don’t know if he’s exceeded expectations – because he’s always been a pretty good and underrated running back – but he’s met them, and that’s enough. 356 rushing yards (4.4 average), plus another 93 receiving yards on 16 receptions (and 4 touchdowns) is everything I wanted out of him, especially since he was solid while Carson was out with his annual injury.

8 – Ethan Pocic

Here’s another guy who hadn’t done ANYTHING with the Seahawks since we drafted him in the 2nd round in 2017. Finally healthy, and finally playing his strongest position – center – he was a surprise winner of the job over incoming free agent B.J. Finney. Not only has he taken the job and ran with it, but he afforded the Seahawks an opportunity to trade Finney away for even more talent (coming up later in this post).

7 – Jordyn Brooks

Our top draft pick this year was a surprise to many. No one thought the Seahawks needed a weakside linebacker, especially considering we’ve had one of the best in K.J. Wright since the 2011 season. Nevertheless, Wright is getting up there and is in one of his final seasons. In spite of that, the first round seems kinda high to draft a linebacker, but Brooks has quietly been one of the best rookie linebackers in the league, and he’s really thrived of late now that he’s starting. On top of which, he’s allowed the team to move Wright to the strongside linebacker spot, where he has been KILLING IT! That’s been vital since Bruce Irvin – brought in to fill that role – has been lost for the season. Brooks looks like a solid starter for us for years to come, which is very encouraging to see as a rookie.

6 – Benson Mayowa

He would be higher if he hadn’t missed those games with his injury, but he has 4 sacks on the year and as part of this MUCH improved pass rushing rotation, his pressure rate is off the charts. When he was forced to play a high percentage of defensive snaps early in the season, he was far less effective, but with the emergence of those around him, they’ve afforded the Seahawks the opportunity to keep Mayowa to his part time role where he’s best suited.

5 – D.J. Reed

He would also be much higher if he hadn’t missed so many weeks with his offseason injury. But, the Seahawks are INCREDIBLY lucky to have him, and if we were basing these rankings off of the last month alone, he’d probably be second overall. Reed was a castoff from the 49ers whose season almost ended before it began. We claimed him, kept him on the NFI list, and worked him back slowly as he recovered. His return coincided with injuries to both Quinton Dunbar and Tre Flowers (as well as Shaquill Griffin, briefly); Reed has taken over that right cornerback spot and is absolutely DOMINATING! He’s the best RCB we’ve had since Byron Maxwell in his prime; on top of which, Reed can return punts! What a godsend!

4 – Carlos Dunlap

He’d be higher on this list if we had him to start the season. But, it took a rebuilding Bengals squad to take their veteran for granted, and a nifty little mid-season trade to get him here, and he has single-handedly made everyone around him on that side of the ball better. Our pass rush went from one of the very worst in all of football to 7th in the league in sacks! Even with nagging injuries slowing him down, he’s helped transform the defense as we head into the playoffs, into a unit that can actually win us games, instead of holding us back. He’s also accumulated 5 sacks in 7 games, which is phenomenal; imagine what he could do if he was fully healthy!

3 – Brandon Shell

We’ve seen what he means to the right side of this offensive line, both via the improvement over Germain Ifedi from last year, as well as via the dropoff from the guys filling in for him while he deals with his ankle sprain. This offense was never better than when we had all five of our offensive linemen fully healthy; the offense (and Russell Wilson specifically) has struggled as guys have gone down. But, Shell should be back for the playoffs, and we’re all hoping that makes all the difference.

2 – Damien Lewis

This was the rookie we were all banking on as being our biggest contributor, and he HAS exceeded expectations! I think we all expected a lot more growing pains with Lewis, but he’s stayed mostly healthy throughout the year and there have been very few breakdowns in protection where he’s concerned. And, unless I’m mistaken, I think he’s been rated quite high in the offensive line rankings on PFF (I haven’t checked myself, but I see glimpses on Twitter every once in a while). Either way, getting a starting lineman who’s actually worth a damn as a rookie is pretty rare for this team, and I’m giving him props accordingly.

1 – Jamal Adams

As if there could be any doubt. The dude is leading the team in sacks from the safety position with 9.5! He’s a generational talent and the catalyst for this defense being as special as it’s been. Yes, we gave up a ton to get him here, and we’ll have to pay him a ton to keep him here, but the dude is special. Now, if only he would start catching some of these interceptions that keep hitting him in the hands (granted, he is playing with multiple broken fingers, but still), we’d be looking even better with this guy!

The Seahawks Should Steamroll The Eagles Tonight

I wanted to start this off saying that I’m weirdly confident in the Seahawks going to Philly and kicking some ass, but I don’t even think it’s that weird! The Eagles are fucking terrible. Carson Wentz is so bad (HOW BAD IS HE?) that I had the option of starting him in fantasy football this week – against a Seahawks defense that has given up more passing yards than anyone else in NFL history to this point in the season – and I ended up getting cold feet, benching him for Kirk Cousins of all people! Carson Wentz is so bad (HOW BAD IS HE?) that he just signed a huge $128 million contract last year, and the Eagles are already talking about giving (as well as ACTUALLY giving) rookie Jalen Hurts practice reps with the first team offense this week. Hurts, of course, couldn’t prevent Tua from stealing his job at Alabama, so it’s tough to say what his professional career is going to be (I would bet probably not great), but this is a pretty serious indictment of how far Wentz has fallen in not even one full season’s worth of sucking.

How the mighty have fallen, when it comes to the Eagles, though. Remember it was as recent as the 2017 season when they beat the Patriots in the Super Bowl and everyone was predicting that they’d be the new dynasty in the NFC. Since then, it’s been a couple of 9-7 finishes and early playoff exits, as well as whatever this abomination has been in 2020 (are they REALLY going to blow the NFC East to the 4-7 Giants or the 4-7 Washington Football Team?!).

This is a really perplexing team in that regard, because so many of the same pieces are still in place. Obviously, injuries play a significant role in their struggles the last two seasons, but at what point do you stop blaming injuries and start blaming the fact that they haven’t filled in the back of their roster with improved talent? Then, you look at the coaching staff and you wonder how this is (minus Frank Reich) the same group that out-coached the greatest coach of all time in Bill Belichick in the Super Bowl? They can’t seem to figure ANYTHING out, not even how to win the absolute worst division in NFL history!

The thing is, there’s talent there. The defensive line has some guys, anchored by Fletcher Cox in the middle; Brandon Graham has 7 sacks, Derek Barnett has 4.5, Josh Sweat has 4. They can get after it! I don’t know if the secondary terrifies you, but Darius Slay was a lockdown corner for the Lions and presumably hasn’t fallen off too far. Offensively, they’ve got some great weapons at running back in Miles Sanders and Boston Scott. Dallas Goedert is a quality tight end (as is Zach Ertz when he’s healthy). It even appears they’ve FINALLY managed to develop a good receiver in Travis Fulgham. The point being: they shouldn’t be THIS inept! And yet, here we are.

I think you have to point to the offensive line woes as the primary culprit. I still contend that Wentz wasn’t that bad a season ago (and last year, the talent level really was pretty bad, especially at receiver). But, this is two years in a row where injuries along the offensive line have made his life miserable, and it’s starting to get in Wentz’s head. He’s making some of the worst decisions I’ve ever seen from a quarterback, and that falls on his utter lack of confidence that he won’t get destroyed behind that O-Line. You see this happen (though, usually the guys are a little on the older side; it’s a little shocking to see it with someone who’s 27 years old and in the prime of what was once a great career), and when it does, it’s hard to recover from. He could turn it around next year, if they bolster his blockers up front, but I don’t envision much in the way of improvement in 2020.

And certainly not this week. I think this is a great place to start in on the Seahawks, because we’ve seen significant improvement out of our pass rush in the last few weeks. Indeed, in the three games Carlos Dunlap has played in, the Seahawks have had 13 sacks; in the first seven games of the season we had only 12! We went from being at or very near the bottom of the entire league, to tied for 13th (with, again, a game to play tonight to rise up the rankings). You can downplay Dunlap’s importance in that turnaround all you want, but he has 3.5 sacks in 3 games, which is already good for second-most on the team (behind Jamal Adams’ 5.5). He’s not only getting it done by himself (which is more than we could say for Clowney last year, forget the goose egg he’s giving the Titans this year), but he’s freeing up those around him to succeed at getting to opposing quarterbacks as well. Jarran Reed looks like a new man! L.J. Collier (at least, when he’s rushing from a defensive tackle spot) looks ALMOST like a guy who can play in this league (which is a far cry from where he was in his rookie season). If the Seahawks don’t win along the defensive line tonight, I will be legitimately shocked, because this is the first time all year I can say WITH CONFIDENCE that we have the upper hand at this position group.

The Mini-BYE comes at the perfect time, of course. I would say the Seahawks have had good BYE placement this season. We had one after going 5-0 (when we had a lot of injuries to recover from), and now at the 10-game mark I think we’re finally going to see most of guys back and playing again. The only serious blow is losing Brandon Shell for this one. Given how much time we’ve had off since our last game, I’m hoping we’re just being extra careful. If there’s one spot I’m worried about, it’s that one, and whoever is coming off the edge to abuse Cedric Ogbuehi.

But, that’s really it. Chris Carson is back! Carlos Hyde is still here! Ethan Pocic should return to snap the ball, which moves Damien Lewis back to his natural right guard spot, and all is otherwise right with the world when it comes to the O-Line (save the aforementioned RT spot). If the Seahawks don’t score the easiest 31 points you’ve ever seen, then I dunno, some freaky shit must be going on.

I mean, I hate to pull this card out, but the Seahawks have the NFL’s highest winning percentage on Monday Night Football. That might be a coincidence, or a fluke, but who cares?! We get it done on the NFL’s second-brightest stage (I think it’s safe to say Sunday Night Football has well supplanted MNF as the game of the week). The Seahawks are favored by 6.5 points and I don’t think even that line is high enough. I think this game will end up being a total laugher by the end.

And if it isn’t, then the Seahawks will have some ‘splaining to do …

The Seahawks Have Overcome A Lot Of Injuries To Get Here

File this under: No Shit, Everyone’s Got Injuries, Sherlock.

Still, not everyone is 7-3 and tied for the lead in their division, with a reasonable path to getting the #1 seed in their conference. If you take a step back and see what the Seahawks have been able to accomplish with all that’s gone against them, there’s reason to be amazed, as well as encouraged (if guys return and play well the rest of the way).

Let’s start with the guys who are lost for the season; pour one out for what could’ve been:

  • Bruce Irvin (LB/DE)
  • Marquise Blair (S)
  • Lano Hill (S)
  • Neiko Thorpe (CB)
  • Greg Olsen (TE)

I know there are teams who have lost bigger stars for the season, but I would argue these are pretty significant hits for the Seahawks. Given what we did in the offseason, this represents a pretty large portion of our free agent dollars (dollars that were – and still continue to be – in very short supply). Irvin accounted for over $5 million on a 1-year deal, and Olsen was another $7 million on a 1-year deal. Four our trouble, we got 10 games out of Olsen (he’s our 4th leading receiver at the moment, with just one touchdown), and only 2 games out of Irvin (he was supposed to be one of our top pass rushers, and ended up getting zero sacks). Money poorly spent, I’d say (the caveat being, if we make it deep into the playoffs, Olsen might be able to return, but I won’t be counting on that).

A big shame when it comes to the Olsen injury is the fact that we recently waived Luke Willson, who was picked up by the Ravens. It sounds like he’s on their practice squad – so we COULD get him back if we wanted to – but I don’t know if he’d want to return and continue to get jerked around (since it’s clear he’s our first option when we have someone we need to cut).

The team had also carved out a decent role for Blair to be a nickel corner against bigger receivers/tight ends. The second year pro (drafted in the second round) has a lot of talent and promise, so it was heartbreaking to see him also go down in the second game of the season. We’ll never know what we would’ve had in him this year, but given the secondary’s struggles overall (and the injury issues, which we’ll get more into below), Blair’s presence would’ve been a very welcome addition to the team.

Hill and Thorpe are lesser losses, but Hill looked better than he’s ever been in his two games this season. One has to wonder if he turned a corner in his young career. As for Thorpe, he’s been a Special Teams captain and mainstay for YEARS, but this just seems to be the end of the line for him. He hasn’t been able to stay on the field for even double-digit games since 2018 (when he still missed a good month’s worth of games), and I would argue our Special Teams have been fine without him.

Next, let’s look at the short list of players who’ve yet to play a single down:

  • Rashaad Penny (RB)
  • Darrell Taylor (DE)
  • Phillip Dorsett (WR)
  • Josh Gordon (WR) *

Of the four, the odds of Dorsett ever playing for this team seems pretty remote. Foot injuries are never good. Foot injuries for wide receivers are especially damaging. And, foot injuries for wide receivers whose primary weapon is their straight-line speed … well, three strikes and you’re out, I guess. As for Gordon, he gets the asterisk because he’s not actually injured, but rather on an indefinite suspension. But, he’s signed to the team and has yet to contribute, and given the talent of both of these players, I’d say the losses hurt regardless! Gordon especially, as he has #1 receiver-type talent; add him to the elite duo of D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett and you’ve really got something! The absence of these two also meant the Seahawks briefly flirted with the idea of signing Antonio Brown, and the jury is still out as to whether that would’ve been a smart idea or not.

Since the Seahawks, as is, are so strong at wide receiver, it’s hard to make a huge deal out of Dorsett & Gordon not being here. If you had to rank this group based on who we needed most, it’s a toss-up between Penny and Taylor. I’m leaning towards Penny because he’s a proven commodity, and there were a few games there where we REALLY stunk at running back, starting the likes of DeeJay Dallas and Alex Collins. As we saw last week with the return of Carlos Hyde, talent at running back is still important in this league, and Penny is probably the second-most talented running back on this team. It does look like he’ll return soon, which could be a boost (if nothing else, to our depth, but I bet they carve out a role on third downs for him, to get his feet wet).

As for Taylor, you could argue that – until recently – defensive end/pass rush was our biggest issue. But, as a rookie, I don’t know what’s reasonable to expect from a guy (especially when he hasn’t participated in any sort of Training Camp, let alone practices or games). I’m still not holding my breath that he actually returns – based on the number of setbacks he’s had – but the team is saying he’s close, which I find encouraging. Mostly, it’s encouraging that they haven’t yet written him off entirely and shut him down in favor of returning strong next year. Either way, I’ll believe in him when I see him in an actual game.

Next, let’s take a look at the players who have missed games:

  • Jamal Adams (S)
  • Shaquill Griffin (CB)
  • Quinton Dunbar (CB)
  • Ugo Amadi (CB)
  • D.J. Reed (CB)
  • Benson Mayowa (DE)
  • Chris Carson (RB)
  • Carlos Hyde (RB)
  • Travis Homer (RB)
  • Bryan Mone (DT)
  • Rasheem Green (DE)
  • Jordyn Brooks (LB)
  • Mike Iupati (G)
  • Jordan Simmons (G)
  • Ethan Pocic (C)

This obviously isn’t a comprehensive list (I probably should’ve said that at the top, but whatever). Let’s start with the secondary: we have YET to play with our full corps of DB’s at full strength. Griffin has been out the last few weeks with a concussion and a hamstring injury; he just returned to practice this week, but it’s up in the air as to whether he can return for Monday night’s game or not. Dunbar and Adams have both missed games AND played through injuries, with middling results. Obviously Adams leads the team in sacks and is a great weapon as a blitzer, but his coverage skills were never his strongest suit, and I would argue they’ve been further hampered by whatever he’s trying to gut his way through. Dunbar has a bad knee that was never able to fully get right. He tried to step up – particularly in Griffin’s absence – but has been abused by opposing quarterbacks the entire season. He’s finally landed on the IR, in hopes that we can get him back to 100% for the stretch run, so we’ll see. Amadi’s loss was a bad blow in the wake of Blair’s season-ending injury, as Amadi was one of our other nickel corners. Thankfully, D.J. Reed returned right around the same time, to give our secondary a boost (as he missed the start of the season thanks to an offseason injury when we claimed him).

The hope for this defense was that the secondary could prop everyone else up until we figured out the pass rush situation (with guys either improving naturally, or with outside players coming in to contribute), but that sadly hasn’t been the case. It’s been made more difficult by losing guys along the already-shorthanded defensive line. Along with Irvin and Taylor, the line has also missed Benson Mayowa (our OTHER big free agent signing along the D-Line) and Rasheem Green (last year’s leading sacker) for multiple games. Bryan Mone, to his credit, has been stout in the interior of the line, and it looks like it’ll be a while before he’s able to return.

The running backs, as I mentioned, took a serious hit. I won’t dwell on them too much, but thankfully Hyde is now back and Carson is practicing again. Here’s hoping they can stay on the field the rest of the way!

Jordyn Brooks didn’t miss too much time, but as our top rookie draft pick this year, missing ANY time is a disaster for someone learning the defense and learning how to be a professional. He has yet to make too much of an impact (possibly related to missing time early on, possibly not), but it does look like he’s starting to get more comfortable with his role on this team.

Finally, it’s time to talk about the offensive line. As Seahawks fans, we KNOW how important this unit is to the success of the offense. And, for the most part, we’ve been pretty blessed with this unit being as healthy as it’s been. Mike Iupati was a question mark from the start – given his age and the way his body has been breaking down in recent seasons – but we have good depth at guard. That depth was thrown into disarray when Simmons went down, as he’s the best backup guard on the roster. Then, with Ethan Pocic going down with a concussion (after having traded away B.J. Finney to the Bengals in part for Carlos Dunlap), we had to move our rock of a right guard, Damien Lewis, over to center for a game. He made it through okay (because he’s clearly Seattle’s 2020 Rookie MVP), but there were some struggles. Thankfully, it looks like all three are back (or very close to being back), so I don’t foresee any of them missing time long term.

To wrap things up, how about a few words on guys we all suspect are playing through (or HAVE played through) injuries:

  • Brandon Shell (RT)
  • Duane Brown (LT)
  • Tyler Lockett (WR)
  • Russell Wilson (QB)?

Duane Brown is an old man, but he’s also far-and-away our best offensive lineman, at a critical position along the line. He gets regular rest days in practice throughout the season to make sure he lasts, but I cringe EVERY TIME he goes down awkwardly or gets hit down around the knees. I think he’s missed a snap here and there, but so far has yet to miss any actual games (knock on wood); I hope it stays that way. Brandon Shell has proven to be our best right tackle by a VERY large margin. He suffered an ankle injury against the Cardinals, and I still have no idea how bad it is. If it’s a high ankle sprain, he could miss a month or more (which would be a disaster for this line). If it’s just a regular ankle sprain, he could be back as early as Monday night. I’m hoping it’ll be okay.

Lockett hasn’t missed any time that I can recall, but we all remember when he was tackled poorly by the Rams (I want to say?) and D.K. Metcalf almost started a riot in defense of his teammate. That was the second time he’s been nearly-injured, and he’s a little guy as it is! This offense is elite because it has Russell Wilson and TWO top-flight receivers. If you take away one of those receivers, it becomes exponentially easier to defend this team. So, take care Tyler Lockett!

As for Wilson, I don’t think he was ever actually injured, but I do think it’s funny that fans have this rumor that he was concussed and that’s why he struggled in our three losses. It’s the same as saying there’s widespread election fraud happening in America (but, of course, only in the swing states, and really only in the swing states that the president lost … how convenient). Never underestimate humanity’s ability to believe what it wants to believe!

In all seriousness, though, this season will go straight down the shitter if Wilson ever gets seriously injured. He HAS taken a lot of bad-looking hits, so I think it’s wise to incorporate more running (with the running backs) into the gameplan. Let’s get through these next four games with a 4-0 record and then we can start flying by the seat of our pants again!

The Seahawks Will Lose To The Rams This Week

I feel like this one is going to hurt a little bit. Last week, I expected a loss, but it’s the Bills so who cares, right? This one is going to sting. Even though I can see it coming – and therefore am able to brace myself for impact a little bit better – there’s something about losing to the Rams that gets to me. Kind of like the Mariners with the Astros. In both cases, I would argue the Seahawks spent many years squandering opportunities to really bury the Rams when they were bad-to-mediocre (the Jeff Fisher years), just as the Mariners failed to take advantage of a historically bad Astros team in the years leading up to their dominant (and cheating) run. Losses to these teams now wouldn’t hit so hard if we’d beaten them when we were supposed to, because these things in sports are always cyclical. BUT, if you lose to teams within your division when they’re bad, and then continue to lose to them when they’re good, it’s not cyclical, it’s a trend. It gets in our heads. We start feeling a little more anxious and a little more desperate. We feel that as fans, and I would argue the team feels it a little bit.

Any win against the Rams feels like a fluke (like last year’s last-second victory in Seattle, on Thursday night, when their usually-reliable kicker – especially against us – missed a 44-yarder by … inches?) and any loss to the Rams feels appropriate (like last year’s 28-12 defeat down in Los Angeles, when the offense couldn’t do ANYTHING and the only touchdown we scored was a pick-six early in the second half). Every time I’ve written about the Seahawks/Rams matchups, I feel like I’m the same broken record: for the Seahawks to win, they’re going to have to prevail in a shootout. It’s going to be close throughout, and we will either need to score late or prevent a score late; something like 38-35 feels appropriate.

If you thought the defense looked bad against the Bills last week, just wait and see what the Rams’ offense has in store! Jared Goff has a weakness: he succumbs to pressure in his face. He’s not particularly fleet-of-foot, so if we can win some matchups along the defensive line – or send some well-timed blitzes – we should be able to get him down relatively easy. But, of course, that’s always a big IF! Because they’re so smart, the Rams are constantly looking to get the ball out of his hands as quickly as possible. And, as we’ve all seen from this Seahawks secondary, they can’t cover a dying sea turtle who’s been kicked onto its back and into a pile of wet cement (for some reason, Tre Flowers is STILL giving the dying sea turtle 15 yards of cushion!).

You remember the Grinch, when he’s imagining the Whos with their jing-tinglers and floofloovers and tartookas? How it’s all swirling around in his Grinchy brain, driving him mad? Well, for me, this Rams game is giving me Grinchy visions of crossing routes, with Robert Woods wide open 10 yards down field, and Cooper Kupp with dozens of unmolested yards-after-catch. Playing against this Snuggle Bear-soft defense must be like Christmas for these Rams receivers!

Isn’t the Seahawks’ defense cute, you guys?!

So, yeah, this feels very much like the Grinch strolling on down to Whoville. And, like the Grinch, I don’t think we’ll have the heart to steal Christmas from the Rams this week.

If every victory feels like pulling teeth, every defeat feels preordained. You know how the Rams beat the Seahawks? By living in Russell Wilson’s lap for four quarters. Aaron Donald and his cronies are always able to make quick work of our offensive line. To be fair, Aaron Donald is the most athletically-gifted football player alive today, so he makes MANY offensive lines look like they’re playing Tiddlywinks, but I’m starting to take it personally at how many levels he raises his game whenever he plays against the Seahawks. This is, of course, made all the more dire by the fact that Ethan Pocic got concussed in last week’s game and almost certainly won’t play this week (he has yet to practice, so even if he does get cleared before gametime, lack of practice is far from ideal as well). New, untested center, combined with rookie Damien Lewis at right guard and the revolving door that’s been playing left guard? Smells like a recipe for Aaron Donald to EAT, Hungry Hungry Hippos-style. Russell Wilson is the marbles. And someone is tipping the board to one side.

That having been said, I think that 28-12 loss was a fluke in its own right. I don’t remember what happened, but the Seahawks’ offense isn’t USUALLY that inept. Even when we lose to the Rams, it’s usually a higher-scoring affair. I think it’s much more likely that continues this weekend. But, I won’t throw out a Rams blowout victory with the bathwater; I think that’s very much on the table, as well as the close (and high-scoring) victories by either the Rams or Seahawks. I think there is almost a zero-percent chance the Seahawks blow out the Rams. If that happened, I think I’d be over the moon and on the hunt for Super Bowl tickets the following morning! How is Tampa in February? COVID-free, I would presume …

My hope for this game is that it took a week for our defense (at least, the guys who joined/re-joined the team) to mesh, and with a second week of practice, they’ll figure out a way to make it work and get some stops before we dig too deep a hole for ourselves. Snacks Harrison is joining the squad this week – after needing about a month to get in shape (both shape-shape and football-shape) – so hopefully he provides a little boost to our run defense (and maybe frees up Jarran Reed to be more disruptive in pass rush). I also hope that whatever breakdowns in communication we had last week have been fixed among the secondary, so guys aren’t running QUITE so wide open all over the motherfucking field.

On the flipside, I do expect the offense to be at least a little more careful with the football, compared to last week. I wouldn’t expect quite so many turnovers. I think we will score some points. But, I can’t help but envision us being down by two scores at some point, and scrambling to come back late in the game. We’re probably looking at a game where we pull it to within one score very late, needing an onside kick recovery that won’t be bouncing our way.

And, by falling to 6-3, that puts us in a VERY dangerous position of being in third place in our own division (assuming the Cards beat the Bills at home). At that point, Seattle is going to be officially renamed Panic City. But, I’m here to say things ARE bound to improve. We follow this Rams game up with a Thursday Night home game against the Cardinals, which will be a Must Win, and one I think we’ll get. From there, it’s the aforementioned 4-spot against the Eagles, Giants, Jets, and Washington; win all those games and we go from 6-3 to 11-3. Then, there’s a Rams home game in late December that will probably be another Must Win (if we want to take the division and the NFC’s top seed). If we can find a way to get that one, and win down in San Francisco in the final week of the season, we’re looking at a 13-3 finish (on the back of a 7-game winning streak). I think that is ABSOLUTELY a reasonable outcome to expect for this season.

It’s always darkest before the dawn, people! I’m pretty sure that guy from that one Batman movie originally said that, so you know it’s true. We just have to get through this rough patch and then it’s still choppy smooth sailing from here on out! I still believe the Seahawks are a championship-calibre team.

I just don’t think they’re going to look like one this week.