We Lost The Tez

Respect …

Seattle has been hit pretty hard over the last week.  First, we lost Chris Cornell, who was an absolute titan of my youth, as superfans of the 90’s Seattle music scene don’t get much bigger than me, and now we’ve lost Cortez Kennedy, who died of unknown causes at the age of 48.

I’ll withhold any sort of rant until we get more information, but it doesn’t look good that Tez was complaining of headaches in the days leading up to his death.  The more this happens, the worse it’s ultimately going to be for the game of football.  I mean, we can’t have our superstars dying before the age of 50!  Everyone always says they were gone too soon whenever someone dies, but it actually means something when you’re only 48 years old.

I’ve been having a hard time keeping it together as I read all the tributes and well-wishes to him and his family the last day or so.  I’ll generally always root for guys who play for my team, but it’s nice to know that someone so great at football was also such a great person in life.  There are so many stupid fucking dickheads in the world, I forget sometimes that there’s a lot of goodness and kindness in the world too.

Growing up, Steve Largent was my favorite football player of all-time, but Cortez Kennedy quickly became my #2.  I was looking through the 1990 NFL Draft, wondering whatever became of the guys drafted around Tez (who was picked third by the Seahawks).  Jeff George was picked first by Indy, and he ended up being an explosive bust.  Kind of like a poor man’s Jay Cutler.  But, you know, you can understand why they grabbed him #1 overall.  Then, the Jets picked running back Blair Thomas with the second overall pick, and I had to laugh.  Thomas was out of the NFL by the end of the 1995 season, and you could argue he was part bust (injury-related) and part bust (coaching-related).  I mean, who drafts a running back #2 overall, then puts him in a 4-running back rotation?  That’s insane to me.

So far, there have been three other Hall of Famers to come out of the 1990 draft:  Junior Seau at #5 to the Chargers (also lost too soon, due to football-related brain issues), Emmitt Smith at #17 to the Cowboys, and Shannon Sharpe WAAAAY down at the second-to-last pick of the seventh round to the Broncos.  It’s pretty crazy that you could make a very good argument that Tez was the greatest 3-Tech Defensive Tackle of all time, Seau was the greatest Middle Linebacker of all time, Emmitt Smith was the greatest Running Back of all time, and Sharpe was the greatest Tight End of all time, all coming out in the same draft.

What was good for the NFL was also good for the Seahawks in that 1990 NFL Draft.  On top of Tez, the Seahawks got Terry Wooden, a starting outside linebacker, in the second round; Robert Blackmon, a starting strong safety, also in the second round; and Chris Warren, a starting running back, in the fourth round.  On top of some of the holdover talent, it’s mind-blowing that the Seahawks would be a 2-win team only two years later, but I guess that’s what happens when you neglect the quarterback position for so long.

Tez was truly in his prime from 1991-1996, when he made the Pro Bowl each of those six years, and was First Team All Pro in three of those years (from 1992-1994).  He had his 1997 season cut short due to injury, but bounced back for two more Pro Bowl seasons in 1998 & 1999.  He was more of a rotational guy under Mike Holmgren, particularly in his final year in 2000, and he only got to enjoy one playoff appearance (in 1999, in a loss to Dan Marino and the Miami Dolphins), but he was a Seahawk through and through.  For most of the 1990s, Tez was literally the only reason to ever watch a Seahawks game.  I take great pride – and I know he takes great pride – in the fact that he was a career Seahawk, even though he had multiple offers to play elsewhere as his career came to a close.

The best part of Tez’s game was that he wasn’t just a sacks guy.  He was a complete, all-around defensive tackle.  Yes, he got his share of sacks (14 in 1992, when he was Defensive Player of the Year), but I don’t remember EVER seeing an interior defensive lineman with the number of tackles that he’d get.  73 tackles in 1991, 92 (!) tackles in 1992, 77 tackes in 1993.  I mean, how do you even do that?  That’s on top of the fact that he was almost constantly double-teamed, because if you didn’t double-team him, he’d absolutely blow up every single play.  And, that’s on top of the fact that he rarely left the field.

A 3-down interior lineman with high sack totals AND high tackle numbers?  And you want to try to argue with me that he’s not one of the best 3-Tech DTs of all time?  Get the fuck off my planet!

I didn’t know the man, I was never lucky enough to meet him in person, but one of my favorite stories about him is the reason why Tez wore the number 99 in his DPOY season of 1992.  Earlier that year, his best friend (and fellow University of Miami alum) Jerome Brown died in a car crash.  Brown was drafted by the Eagles in 1987 and was also an interior defensive lineman.  He started off his career a bit slower than Tez, but in 1990 and 1991, he was First Team All Pro, and on the path towards the Hall of Fame.  Jerome Brown wore the number 99, so in honor of him, Tez wore that number for the 1992 season, when he absolutely tore apart the National Football League.  That’s the type of friend Tez was; that’s the type of person the world lost yesterday.

It wasn’t a given that the Tez would make the Hall of Fame, but it damn well should’ve been.  He had to wait a few years before he got his crack, and you could tell no one would appreciate it more than him.  I was beyond thrilled the day it was announced (the only way I could ever be happier is if Edgar makes it), because no one was more deserving of such accolades.  I’m just happy he was alive to experience it.

I’m beyond bummed out right now.  I encourage anyone reading this to go down a YouTube rabbit hole of Tez highlights.  You won’t be disappointed.

My favorite pic …

Time To Kick It Into Higher Gear, Seahawks

I don’t know much about cars; do you really kick gears?

The Seahawks did a great and impressive thing last week:  they stepped toe to toe with one of the better offenses in the league, and they came out on top.  When you look at the probable major players for the NFC playoffs, you’re going to have to overcome some impressive offenses:  Arizona, Green Bay, and Carolina (even though nobody thinks of them as having an impressive offense, go really look at the numbers they’re putting up this year with essentially no one but Cam).  It’s going to be vital in some of these potential playoff matchups (if, indeed, that’s where the Seahawks end up) to have our offense clicking to match theirs.

On the flipside, we have this week’s matchup against the Vikings.  They DON’T have an impressive offense.  In fact, it’s pretty feeble.  It’s Adrian Peterson and A LOT of game managing out of their quarterback.  But, their defense is rock solid in just about every aspect.  When you look at teams like the Vikings, Arizona and Carolina again, and to a lesser extent the Falcons, you’re going to see some good defenses in the playoffs as well.  Getting our guys going against these stout fronts will make all the difference in getting back to a third Super Bowl in three years.

Finally, the big thing about this week’s game is that this is the last really good team we’re going to face until the playoffs (if you think like I do, that the Cards will be resting the bulk of their starters for the bulk of that game in week 17, as they’ll have the 2-seed wrapped up by then).  I see this as the true litmus test of the second half of this season.  To date, until defeating the Steelers, the Seahawks had lost every game against every quality opponent they faced.  They’re now 1-4 in those games, with – as I mentioned – one final test to go.  If these are the same Seahawks we watched struggle to a 4-5 start, then I would put all my money down on the Seahawks LOSING this weekend in another heartbreaker.  BUT, if they’ve somehow turned a corner (like they did towards the end of 2014 and 2012), then the Vikings will be just another mediocre opponent we’ll have no trouble defeating by 7-10 points.

The formula couldn’t be simpler:  stop Adrian Peterson and you stop the Vikings.  At that point, it’s just a matter of getting to 17-20 points to give yourself enough of a cushion to withstand any late-game heroics.  Do I think the Seahawks are capable of doing that?  Mmm, I think anything’s possible.

As I mentioned in my review of the Steelers game, I like our defense to make a big leap forward in the coming weeks.  I like Shead as our other starting corner.  I like getting Lane back and him having a full game under his belt.  I think we’re JUST starting to get our groove back as a whole, defensively.  But, I think it’s highly probable that we’re not giving Teddy Bridgewater enough credit for limiting mistakes and getting the ball into the hands of playmakers.  The Vikings have a good, young receiver (Stefon Diggs) and a quality, underrated tight end (Kyle Rudolph), and I think they’ll be able to move the ball through the air just enough.  I also think it’s impossible to stop Adrian Peterson for a full 60 minutes.  We’ve got a very good run defense, but then again, is it good because of the long line of stiffs we’ve been playing against?  Take a look:

  1. The Rams, pre-Gurley (Benjamin Cunningham led with 45 yards on 16 carries)
  2. The Packers, featuring Fat Eddie Lacy (James Starks actually led with 95 yards on 20 carries)
  3. The Bears, featuring Jimmy Clausen & no Alshon Jeffery (Forte, with 74 yards on 20 carries)
  4. The Lions, ’nuff said (Ameer Abdullah with 33 yards on 13 carries)
  5. The Bengals, featuring Disappointing Jeremy Hill, and playing from way behind (Giovani Bernard with 80 yards on 15 carries)
  6. The Panthers, first solid rushing team (Jonathan Stewart with 78 yards on 20 carries)
  7. The 49ers, ’nuff said (Carlos Hyde with 40 yards on 11 carries)
  8. The Cowboys, no Romo (Darren McFadden with 64 yards on 20 carries)
  9. The Cardinals, decent rushing team (Chris Johnson with 58 yards on 25 carries)
  10. The 49ers again, this time no Hyde (Shaun Draughn with 37 yards on 12 carries)
  11. The Steelers, primarily a passing team (DeAngelo Williams with 29 yards on 8 carries)

I mean, really, LOOK at that list!  Carolina ran the ball well, aside from J-Stew.  Starks had a solid game.  Bernard burned us pretty good at times.  But, NONE of those guys are even close to what a healthy A.P. can do.  Are we SURE the Seahawks’ run defense is that good?  We’ll find out this weekend.  If it isn’t as good as we thought, we’ll be in big trouble.

Lose this game and it’s not necessarily the end of the world.  Drops us to 6-6, with three easy games (at an injury-riddled Baltimore Ravens; home vs. Cleveland; home vs. the Rams – who we always beat at home) and another potentially-easy game against the Cards.  10-6 would still be possible with a loss this weekend.

But, a loss also leads to shifting expectations.  I don’t think we’d have any business believing that this is a championship team.  If we can’t beat the Vikings, what would make us believe that we’d beat a try-hard Cardinals team, or a still-good Packers team, or a flawless Panthers team?  We’d be making the playoffs just for the sake of being there, and we’d probably get bounced in the first round by the winner of the NFC North.  Especially if that team is the Packers and we have to go back to Green Bay again, this time in the bitter cold.

A victory in Minnesota this weekend, however, puts a total re-set on the season.  It would mean the Seahawks ARE legit, and they HAVE flipped the switch at the exact right time.  At that point, I’d expect the Seahawks to win out, nab that 5-seed, and go into the winner of the NFC East and DESTROY them with ease.  My excitement level for the final four weeks will be off the charts.

As a closing aside, the last few years we’ve been talking about the great dynasties of past decades.  The Vikings of the 60s, the Steelers of the 70s, the 49ers of the 80s, the Cowboys of the 90s, the Patriots of the 00s; but, one “dynasty” I’ve always had a soft spot for is the Buffalo Bills of the early 90s.  Yeah yeah, I know, they lost four straight Super Bowls, and from a historical perspective, they’re laughingstocks.  But, do you know how IMPOSSIBLE it is for a team to go to four straight Super Bowls?  The Dolphins went to three in the early 70s (winning two), everyone else it’s two in a row or less.  Just getting to four straight Super Bowls, even winning none of them (though, coming to within a missed field goal of winning that first one) is an all time miracle of professional football.  That’s being consistently good enough to be dominant year after year, while at the same time catching fire in the playoffs.  And the Bills weren’t beating up on a down conference, either!  They had Marino’s Dolphins, Esiason’s Bengals, Moon’s Oilers, Schottenheimer’s Chiefs, and Elway’s Broncos to contend with year-in and year-out.  Some of the greatest players and coaches of all time coached in this era, and still the Bills went to back-to-back-to-back-to-back Super Bowls.  Unreal!

I’m not making an argument that I’d trade places with those teams or anything, but I like the idea of the Seahawks making a serious run at going to four straight.  Well, this would be year three.  In years 1 and 2, the Seahawks were division winners and top seeds in their conference.  In years 1 and 2 for Buffalo during their run, the Bills were division winners and top seeds in their conference.  In year 3 for the Bills, they had some struggles and finished second in their division.  But, they nabbed the top Wild Card slot, won a crazy playoff game where they came back from being down by 32 points (still the greatest comeback of all time), and scratched and clawed their way back to their third Super Bowl (knocking off the #1 seed in the Divisional Round, then beating their divisional rival in the Championship Game).

This year’s Seahawks team looks like it’s headed for a Wild Card spot.  We already had our huge “comeback game” against the Packers last year, but who’s to say we don’t win some crazy Wild Card game this year, face the Panthers in the Divisional Round, and then have to go down to Arizona for the NFC Championship Game?

For what it’s worth, that fourth Bills team easily won its division and reclaimed their #1 seed in the playoffs.  So, we have that to look forward to, if my prophecy comes to fruition (except, no more getting beat in the Super Bowl, thx).

Players To Watch In Super Bowl XLIX

You know who the big dogs are on the Seattle Seahawks.  The top ten, in some order, looks like this:

  • Russell Wilson
  • Marshawn Lynch
  • Bobby Wagner
  • Earl Thomas
  • Richard Sherman
  • Kam Chancellor
  • Michael Bennett
  • Doug Baldwin
  • Cliff Avril
  • Max Unger

So, I’m not going to sit here and tell you why all these guys are important.  You KNOW why.

This one’s dedicated to the specific Patriots we should probably be concerned with heading into the game next week.  These are the guys everyone will be talking about until this low simmer we’re all on ratchets up to a huge boil.

Let’s start with Tom Brady, because why not?  He’s the only sure-thing Hall of Famer on that team (though, there are some other possibilities, that we’ll get to).  Tom Brady has been one of the best quarterbacks in football pretty much since he took over the starting job with New England in 2001.  His career passer rating is 95.9 – which is outstanding – and he hasn’t even really missed a beat.  In 2014, he had his usual gaudy numbers, adding up to a passer rating of 97.4.  And, with the exception of a few peak years with Randy Moss and Wes Welker, Brady has done all of this with a largely anonymous group of receivers (sound familiar?).

Tom Brady is a quarterback who clearly makes the people around him better.  He has an unquestioned dedication to the game of football and that’s why his teams have always gone to the playoffs and why they’ve had so much success once they’ve gotten there.  Also, it doesn’t hurt that the rest of the AFC East has largely been one big shitshow the entire time, but that’s neither here nor there.

Unlike Manning, Brady doesn’t run his own offense.  He’s not his own offensive coordinator.  If it’s going to help the team win, Brady is more than willing to defer to the running game, if that’s what it takes.  I guess that’s the difference between being a 6th rounder vs. a #1 overall draft pick.  I guess that’s the difference between being led by one of the most successful and talented head coaches in NFL history (even if he is a big, lousy cheater sometimes) vs. a random smattering of guys who are more than willing to let their star quarterback just do his own thing.

Brady is dangerous in the same way that Russell Wilson is dangerous, in the fact that all they care about is winning, at any cost.  It just so happens that Brady has never REALLY had a dominating running game to defer to.  He’s never had a Marshawn Lynch to lean on.  Early in his career, though, Brady DID have an outstanding defense backing him, which was the real driving force in their three Super Bowl titles.  As Brady emerged from that early period in his career, the talent on defense diminished, so he was required to do more.  And, to his credit, he succeeded in almost every way.  That 2007 squad will go down historically as one of the very best teams of all time.  But, when shit got real, they were nipped by the Giants, and that’s that.

Nowadays, Brady doesn’t have the cannon he once did.  You’re not going to see the jump balls he threw to Randy Moss.  Part of that is the talent around him (Brandon LaFell isn’t anywhere near Randy Moss’s UNIVERSE), but part of that is just Brady getting older.  37 years old.  Over 50,000 yards on that arm.  In that respect, he is like Manning, or a latter-day Marino.  He’s going to hang around in that pocket (when he’s not sneaking for that first down on 3rd- & 4th-&-inches), he’s going to rely on rhythm passing from 0-10 yards in front of him, and he’s going to try to dictate tempo by going hurry-up to keep the defense on its heels and tired.

We saw this last year!  None of this is new!  We were worried about the same damn thing with the Broncos and it ended up being a non-issue!  Tom Brady CAN be affected if you get in his face.  You don’t necessarily want to send wave after wave of blitzers after him, but then again, maybe you do.  I mean, the Jets seem to have the Patriots pretty well figured out, and they’ve been running out a Junior Varsity quarterback out there for the last couple decades!  All Rex Ryan DOES is blitz!  I’m not saying that’s what the Seahawks will do – we tend to be among the least-blitzing teams in the NFL, in spite of our mascot’s name – but in theory, if things start getting hairy, it’s not a bad idea.  Let our corners press, and start throwing five and six guys after him on the reg.

If you let Tom Brady stand there all day, he’s going to pick you apart.  Unlike Manning – who’s so afraid of taking a hit that his internal clock is running on fast-forward at all times – Brady will hang in the pocket as long as necessary.  It’s not what he wants, I’m sure, but if the defense is going to press and bump receivers off of their routes, then we’re going to have to punish Brady accordingly for having the gall to wait it out until they get open.

I don’t necessarily see this as a game where the Patriots are going to try to slug it out with us on the ground.  We’re not the Colts, who are a wet paper bag when it comes to stopping the run.  Of course, we’re not necessarily the Ravens either – who make it a point to go all out in stopping the run.  We are who we are.  We’re going to stop your run the same way we stop everyone else’s run.  So, in that sense, I wouldn’t expect the Pats to completely abandon it the way they did in the second half of that Ravens game, but at the same time, we’re probably going to get a heavy dose of passing regardless.  On the year, Brady threw the ball 36 times per game.  That’s about what I’d expect out of this one as long as it remains close.  If it gets out of hand one way or another, figure to add or subtract about 15 to that total.

Pressure Brady, and everything else should fall into place.  A great way to do that?  Put the lockdown on Gronk.

The Pats have four primary receiving threats.  Here’s what they looked like in the regular season:

  • Rob Gronkowski:  82 catches, 1,124 yards, 12 TDs
  • Julian Edelman:  92 catches, 972 yards, 4 TDs
  • Brandon LaFell:  74 catches, 953 yards, 7 TDs
  • Shane Vereen:  52 catches, 447 yards, 3 TDs

Gronk’s just a beast.  He broke out in his rookie year of 2010 with 10 TDs, then turned into a total monster in 2011 with over 1,300 yards and 17 TDs.  The two subsequent years were marred by injuries and he lost large swaths of playing time.  You had to wonder if he would even be able to return to the game.  At the beginning of this year, it seemed like the team was a little too overly-tentative with him.  He’d be off the field for huge chunks of games and the offense struggled accordingly.  In the first four weeks, he had 13 catches for 147 yards and 3 TDs, while mostly playing around the red zone.

After the Pats got crushed by the Chiefs and fell to 2-2, they had no choice but to let Gronk do his thing.  The Patriots won 7 in a row and 10 of 11 overall to close out the regular season, with Gronk putting up the following numbers in that span:  69 catches, 977 yards, and 9 TDs (with an average of approximately 6 catches, 89 yards, and just under a TD per game).  Absolutely unreal.

As you can tell, Gronk IS the red zone offense for this team.  If I were a gambling man, I’d put a very large chunk of money on Gronk scoring a TD in this game, with a good portion of that on him scoring the FIRST touchdown in the game.  I’m sure you’d hardly win a damn thing on that wager, but what are you gonna do?

Seahawks fans are going to sit here and say, “Well, we’ve dismantled guys like Jimmy Graham and Julius Thomas; I’m not worried about Gronk!”  That would be a mistake.  Guys like Graham and Thomas are glorified, slow-footed wide receivers.  They’re soft.  Breathe on ’em wrong and they’ll go home crying to mama.  Gronk is built more in the Tony Gonzalez & Antonio Gates mold.  Remember those guys?  Remember how they were able to pick apart our defense for huge catches and scores?  Those guys thrive on contact, as does Gronk.

People are going to talk about the Gronk & Chancellor matchup, and believe you me, I’ll be looking forward to it as much as anyone else.  There’s nothing I’d like to see more than for Bam Bam to knock Gronk on his ass.  But, the underlying theme will be people talking about Kam shadowing Gronk all day, and that’s just not the case.  That’s not how the Seahawks operate.  We’re going to stick a linebacker on him just like most teams.  Since our linebackers – especially K.J. Wright – are better in coverage than most teams, we should be able to prevent Gronk from racking up a ton of yards.

But, it’s in that red zone where I’m worried.  When they opt to run Gronk out wide, with someone like Simon or Maxwell on him.  Good cover guys, sure, but I could see our corners draped all over him like a Snuggie and see him STILL come down with the ball at the goalline.

Don’t dismiss this guy just because he’s annoyingly awesome and you’d LOVE him if he was on the Seahawks.  To keep the Pats in check, we’ve got to keep Gronk in check, and that’s all there is to it.

Edelman is their possession guy.  Their Doug Baldwin, if you will.  On third down, Brady has two targets:  if Gronk is double teamed, or otherwise covered, he’s looking for Edelman in a crossing route or out in the flat.  We HAVE to control this guy.  If the Pats start converting a ton of third downs, it’s likely going to be because Edelman is getting open and squirming his way to the first down marker.

What I expect the Seahawks to do is put Jeremy Lane on him all day.  This more or less worked out okay last week, with Lane doing the heavy lifting on Randall Cobb.  Aside from the touchdown, Cobb was held to 6 catches for 49 yards.  Throw that TD into the mix, and Cobb still only had 7 catches for 62 yards, so it’s not like he was this unstoppable force (I think, too, Lane either fell down or ran into someone on that TD; but, that’s going off of memory and I’m too lazy to go back and watch it again).

Here’s the deal:  Edelman is no Cobb.  Cobb is probably the best slot receiver in the game.  Edelman is good, but he’s really just a poor man’s Welker.  I don’t think the Seahawks are sunk if we leave Lane on him.

What I’d LIKE the Seahawks to do is put Maxwell on him all day.  Maxwell is taller, with longer arms, but he’s still a strong presence as our nickel corner.  If the Seahawks are able to shut down Edelman, and roll coverage to Gronk to minimize his impact, I just don’t see any way the Patriots are able to move the ball consistently.

Brandon LaFell is a real wild card.  His overall numbers this year are MUCH better than I was expecting.  He’s their deep threat, if the Patriots even have a deep threat.  LaFell – while playing for the Panthers the last few years – was never really much of a problem for us.  The types of catches he makes – on fade routes and other types of throws into the corner – are the types of balls we defend the best.  I can’t imagine LaFell gets even a LOOK if he’s lined up on Sherman’s side.  I could, however, see him getting a good chunk of targets if he’s opposite Sherman, and he’s being guarded by the likes of Tharold Simon.

See, there’s a risky game to play if the Seahawks shadow Edelman with Maxwell, and that’s Simon on LaFell.  I like Simon, I think he would win most matchups against someone like LaFell, but I think if he’s out there, he’s GOING to get picked on, and it’s only a matter of time before there’s a huge penalty or otherwise a big catch going New England’s way.

So, maybe stick with Maxwell on the outside.  Either way, if we’re assignment-sound, I wouldn’t expect to have too much trouble with their passing game.  It’s just:  can we get off the field?  That’s going to require winning on first & second down, and that’s going to require tight coverage on third down.

As for Shane Vereen, I’m not too concerned.  He’s a poor man’s Darren Sproles, and we’ve been able to handle Sproles pretty well in our matchups with him.  I’d expect someone like Bruce Irvin to be big in this one, especially on early downs.


On defense, it starts with Darrelle Revis.  He’s not at his peak like he was with the Jets, but he’s still probably a Top 5 cornerback in this league.  It sounds like last week, they stuck Reggie Wayne on Revis Island and Wayne didn’t have an impact whatsoever.  Sounds pretty scary, until you remember the week before where the Ravens threw for nearly 300 yards and 4 touchdowns.

Don’t forget that Ravens game, because I think it’s really important.  The Ravens were VERY balanced, with 129 yards out of Forsett on the ground, topped off by a pretty good day out of Flacco.  Flacco didn’t shy away from Revis, just like Russell Wilson won’t.  The Ravens got beat because their defense – especially their secondary – can’t hold a flame to ours.  If we can get after the quarterback the way they did (the Ravens didn’t have a ton of sacks, but they hit Brady pretty good), I wouldn’t expect anywhere near the type of offensive success the Pats had in that game.

I expect Revis will follow Doug Baldwin all around the field.  So, look for Baldwin to have a pretty ineffective day.  That’s going to put more pressure on Kearse and the rest of our pass-catchers to pick their games up.  New England isn’t impossible to move the ball on, even with some of their relatively big names on defense.

Brandon Browner obviously comes to mind, but we know what to expect out of him.  He’s likely going to stick to a side – maybe even shadow Kearse all day – and put a hurtin’ on whoever comes near him.  Also, I wouldn’t be entirely shocked to see Browner slide inside and take on one of our tight ends.  A matchup I like even less than the Revis/Baldwin one is a Browner/Willson matchup.  I think Browner would eat our #1 tight end for lunch.  Hopefully, we get the Willson/Random Linebacker matchup I’ve been looking forward to all week.

Kyle Arrington is another guy to keep an eye on.  He’s another cornerback, and apparently is their speed guy (as he took on T.Y. Hilton last week).  I’d look for Arrington to spend his time looking after Lockette, which has the potential to be a nice little mismatch in our favor, as Lockette is 6’2 and Arrington is only 5’10.

Another big one to watch out for is Chandler Jones.  #95 in your programs, he’s a 6’5 monster of a defensive end.  While he only netted six sacks this year, he did miss some time with injury and has been a terrifying beast in the games I’ve seen.  I don’t recall offhand where he generally lines up, but I seem to have him squaring off against Britt in my mind’s eye.  I wish I knew more about his tendencies.  If he’s as aggressive as I think he is, I think we can take advantage of him in the read-option game.  I’d watch for him to crash hard on the fake to Lynch, with Wilson running right around him for big gains.

If only Percy Harvin wasn’t such a massive jack-hole, I could see the jet-sweep being a HUGE play for us, like it was in last year’s Super Bowl.  Why couldn’t we have just kept him inactive each and every week – and away from the team facility entirely – then busted him out for one game a year?

Next up, watch out for a pair of outside linebackers in Dont’a Hightower and Jamie Collins.  Collins especially, #91.  That guy is a FREAK.  He’ll line up on Okung’s side, and could rush the passer or go out into coverage.  He led the team in tackles and really filled up the stat sheet.  I wouldn’t mind seeing us run right at him, to have him swallowed up in our zone blocking scheme, but I gotta wonder if that’s wise.  If he’s able to shed blocks, we might be looking at a long day running the ball.

That’s because the key to the whole defense is Vince Wilfork.  The mammoth nose tackle whose listed weight is 325, but is probably pushing 360.  The Ravens were successful rushing because they managed to run outside the tackles.  But, that’s not really the Seahawks’ game, as we like taking it right at you.  Max Unger and either James Carpenter or J.R. Sweezy will have their work cut out for them.  Considering Carpenter is the only guy on our line who could POSSIBLY move Wilfork’s wide body out of the way, I would expect Wilfork to shade toward Sweezy’s side of Unger.  If Wilfork’s taking up two blockers, that’s going to hurt our running game, because we depend so much upon Sweezy and other guys getting to the second level.

That’s why, again, I like our chances with the zone read.  If we can break off a 100-yard rushing day out of Russell Wilson, that’s going to start opening up things down the field.

If the Seahawks win this game, Russell Wilson will need to have a game for the ages.  Let’s hope he’s got one more left in him.

#1 – Russell Wilson

To see the full list of the Top 10 Most Important Seahawks in 2014, click here.

I try to have a great appreciation for greatness.  When I was younger, I tended to gravitate my affection towards the underdogs on the roster.  Yes, of course, I liked the superstars.  Steve Largent, Gary Payton, Ken Griffey Jr., Cortez Kennedy, Shawn Kemp, Randy Johnson, and so on.  But, the softest spot in my heart was reserved for the loveable losers.  Your Bob Wells types.  Paul Skansi.  Vinny Askew.

Nowadays, I try to be a little more discerning.  Yeah, that Derrick McKey signed photograph I had growing up was pretty sweet, but wouldn’t it have been a lot cooler if that was a GP signed photo?  Today, Felix Hernandez is my favorite athlete.  Why?  Because he’s fucking amazing in every possible way.  My favorite Seahawk tends to fluctuate by day, depending on my mood, but lately it has ranged from Marshawn Lynch to Kam Chancellor to Earl Thomas to Richard Sherman.  Great players, all.

I’ve never had a quarterback as my favorite, though.  Matt Hasselbeck came the closest – and if we had indeed taken the ball and scored in that Green Bay playoff game, he’d probably be cemented at the top of my list – but he always managed to fall a little short in games.  Yes, he was good.  Yes, he was the best we had at the time.  Yes, he led us to a bunch of division titles.  But, he could never quite get us over the hump.  It’s easy to blame certain factors around him – injuries to our offensive line & running game late in his Seahawks career; a poor secondary in the prime of his Seahawks career; a lack of overall talent around him early in his Seahawks career – but Hasselbeck deserves a small slice of the blame pie as well.  Failing to win a championship under Holmgren was a team effort; let’s just leave it at that.

I’m rambling, of course, but all of this is prelude to me saying that I could REALLY see Russell Wilson make a big leap up on my Favorite Athletes leaderboard.  He’s already kind of up there anyway, but it more or less goes without being said.  No one out-works Russell Wilson.  His preparation is up there with guys like Peyton Manning, J.J. Watt, Drew Brees, and players of yore like Jerry Rice and Ray Lewis.  Fucking machines.  Guys who eat, sleep, and breathe football.  Guys for whom nothing else matters than being the very best.  What makes the Seahawks so special is that there are a number of guys on his very own team who match his passion for winning, like Earl Thomas and Richard Sherman.

Hand in hand with that is:  you’ll never see Russell Wilson in the news for any sort of negative reason.  He’s not going to be associated with a police investigation like Ray Rice, Josh Gordon, or the San Francisco 49ers as a whole.  You can worry about anyone else on this team, but Russell Wilson isn’t even a consideration.  When he’s not working on his craft, he’s hanging with kids at the Children’s Hospital in Seattle.  You’ll also never see him in the news for saying the wrong thing.  Russell Wilson will never be the source of bulletin board material because – as I said before – he’s a fucking machine.  That includes his interactions with the media, which are downright boring (and I wouldn’t have it any other way).  Let Richard Sherman poach the headlines; I’m fine with that too.  Russell Wilson is just going to quietly go about his business of dismantling your entire operation, praising you to the moon while he does it.

Not gonna lie to you, if I’m a 49ers fan, I’d probably find Russell Wilson more irritating than Richard Sherman.

One of my favorite things to do is just pull up Wilson’s numbers and gaze affectionately at them.  Here they are, in two full seasons:

  • 32 games, 24-8 record, 2 Pro Bowls, 10 game-winning drives, 8 comeback victories
  • 509 for 800, 63.6% completions, 6,475 yards, 52 TDs, 19 INTs
  • 8.1 yards per attempt, 100.6 passer rating
  • 190 rushing attempts, 1,028 rushing yards, 5 rushing TDs, 5.4 yards per attempt
  • 4-1 playoff record, 82 for 130, 63.08% completions, 1,096 yards, 6 TDs, 1 INT, 102.0 passer rating, 8.43 yards per attempt, 26 rushes, 169 yards, 1 TD, 6.5 yards per attempt
  • 1 Super Bowl Championship

Want some more mind-blowing tidbits?

  • Russell Wilson is tied with Peyton Manning for 2nd all time among passing TDs in a player’s first two seasons in the league (behind Dan Marino’s 68 at this point in his career)
  • Russell Wilson is one of four quarterbacks to have a career passer rating of 100 or more in his first two seasons (minimum 100 attempts), behind the following:  Kurt Warner, Dan Marino, and Nick Foles of all people
  • Russell Wilson is 5th in completion percentage in his first two years, behind Roethlisberger, Carson Palmer, Kurt Warner, and Tom Brady (minimum 300 attempts, because I’ll be God damned if I’m going to live in a world where Elvis Grbac leads a list in ANYTHING but sexual impotency)
  • Russell Wilson is first in wins, with the following rounding out the top 5:  Roethlisberger & Luck (22), Marino (21), Flacco & Ryan (20)

The point of all this is:  Russell Wilson is a God damn national treasure.  And there’s no way we’d be where we are without him.  Yes, the defense has been off-the-charts good since he entered the league, but that won’t last forever.  As early as this year, we could see a steep decline in defensive effectiveness.  And, just as soon as that happens, the burden will fall on Wilson’s shoulders.

It’s year three for Wilson.  This is now his team.  Yes, it’s been his team since 2012, but this year it will REALLY be his team.  He’s bound to take a dramatic step forward as the game continues to slow down for him.  He’s got the talent in place to have a really big year.  And, if the defense takes a step back, we’re likely to need it.

The quarterback is always the most important position, for every football team.  You could make the argument that the Seahawks would’ve still been pretty great last year.  If Tarvar had started all 16 games instead of Wilson, we probably still would’ve made the playoffs, with a remote chance of winning it all.  But, I don’t think Tarvar gets us the division.  I don’t think he gets us home field.  And, if I’m being honest, I don’t think he even gets us a win in the Wild Card round.

Russell Wilson is the X-Factor.  He’s often overlooked because of the name recognition of the guys he was drafted with:  Andrew Luck & RGIII.  He’ll probably never throw for the yards that Luck throws for.  He’ll never be the serious running threat that RGIII is.  But, he’s a winner.  The type of winner that those other two guys aren’t (at least, not yet).  Wilson is also overlooked because it’s perceived by the national pundits (I’m looking at you, Jeffri Chadiha) that the defense is doing all the heavy lifting, and Russell Wilson is just along for the ride.  You could make that argument in 2012 and 2013 and get your work published, while still looking like a total ass-clown by people who follow the Seahawks closely and don’t form their opinions based on SportsCenter highlights.

But, 2014 is where the narrative all changes.  Maybe not right away, as it takes time for these movements to take hold.  But, as the season progresses and we look at the jump in effectiveness.  As we witness Wilson approach 70% completions and 9+ yards per attempt.  As we see the Seahawks rack up even more wins than the 13 we had last season …

You’re going to find Russell Wilson in more than just a few discussions about the MVP of the league.  No, he won’t throw for 5,000 yards.  He likely won’t get to 4,000 yards either.  But, he’s going to continue to get his fair share of the touchdowns in this offense, as it averages over 30 points per game and contributes to a repeat performance as the #1 seed in the NFC.  14-2?  15-1?  Not without Russell Wilson.

Without Russell Wilson, we’re probably looking at 8-8 or 9-7 at best.  Yeah, he’s 6 wins all by himself.  I’d say that makes him pretty damn important.

The Key To Roster Building In The NFL

I’ll preface this by saying:  you can’t do anything without a quarterback.  That’s obvious.  Everyone knows it, so there’s really not even much point in bringing it up, except if you don’t bring it up, then wise-asses will come on here and tell me I forgot about the quarterback position.

There are all kinds of different types of quarterbacks that can win you a championship, as evidenced by the last decade or so of NFL champions.  Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Peyton Manning, and Tom Brady are going to go down as all-time greats.  Joe Flacco, Eli Manning, and Ben Roethlisberger likely won’t.  Doesn’t mean they’re BAD; just means that no one is going to put them in their Top 10 All Time Greatest Quarterbacks list.

For the record, my picks:

  1. Joe Montana
  2. Tom Brady
  3. John Elway
  4. Peyton Manning
  5. Dan Marino
  6. Steve Young
  7. Johnny Unitas
  8. Brett Favre
  9. Drew Brees
  10. Warren Moon

But, that’s neither here nor there.  The point is, the quarterback is crucial.  It’s too early to say where Russell Wilson will fall on that list, but I’d venture to say we’d still be ringless if he had to carry a team with an underperforming defense last season.

And that’s what the elite quarterback will afford you.  The elites – like Rodgers, Peyton Manning, Brees, etc. – can cover up for just a so-so defense.  Of course, the fact that all of those quarterbacks only have one championship apiece will tell you that a quarterback can’t do it by himself (and, truth be told, the years their respective teams won it all, their defenses weren’t that bad).

The more talent you have around your quarterback, the less perfect your quarterback has to be (hence why Eli Manning and Ben Roethlisberger both have two championships each).  But, the NFL has a salary cap, and teams have got to find a way to fit 53 players into that cap (plus a little extra to make up for injuries and such).  So, HOW you build around your quarterback is just about as important as the quarterback itself.

There isn’t exactly one specific way to run your team, but I’ll tell you this much:  you’re not going to get very far without a good defense.  That means one of two things:  elite pass rush, or elite secondary (or, ideally both).  Without really delving deep into things, I think it’s pretty safe to say that at least half of NFL teams are pretty happy with their quarterbacks.  I don’t think it’s out of the question to say that at least half of the teams have a guy under center capable of winning it all (assuming everything breaks right and they have a good team around them).  So, you figure that at least half the time, your defense is going to face a pretty good quarterback.

Now, if you’re going to build a defense to combat all those pretty good-to-great quarterbacks, you’ve got to have one of the two aforementioned qualities:  an elite pass rush or an elite secondary.  It’s all about disrupting the quarterback’s timing and forcing him to do things he doesn’t want to do.  If you’ve got the pass rush, then odds are you’ll be able to force him to throw early; if you’ve got the secondary, then odds are you’ll be able to force him to throw late (and hopefully give your adequate pass rush enough time to get home).  So, it would stand to reason that if you’re building your roster to win a championship, you’re going to focus the bulk of your defensive salary cap on edge rushers and/or the secondary.

What you DON’T want to do is start pumping a bunch of money down into your linebackers and interior linemen.  Unless that interior lineman is in the Cortez Kennedy/Warren Sapp mold, you’re probably overpaying.  You can find wide-bodies just about anywhere, on the cheap, no problem.  Ditto linebackers.  People will point to some of the quality guys like Patrick Willis and Luke Kuechly, and I will admit that those dudes are pretty awesome at what they do.  But, you know who else is pretty awesome?  Bobby Wagner.  He’s a second round pick making a fraction of what those guys are making and will make.  Bobby Wagner isn’t heralded in the least, but he’s still awesome.  And, I would venture that you can find a TON of Bobby Wagners in the draft, which will save you money in the long run over massive extensions for the Kuechlys of the world.

Take a look at the Seahawks.  We’ve pumped some serious money into Earl Thomas, Michael Bennett, Kam Chancellor, and soon we’ll devote a whole bunch more into Richard Sherman.  Pass rush & secondary.  Where are we finding savings?  How about three linebackers (Wagner, Wright, Smith) all drafted in the 2nd round or later, all still on rookie deals.  Now, the Seahawks MIGHT extend one or more of those guys when the time comes, but I bet they’ll be mid-range contracts that don’t kill our cap for years to come.

We’re also saving money on our interior line.  Brandon Mebane has a $5 million APY, and that leads the team on interior line spending.  Tony McDaniel is on a short-term, on-the-cheap deal, and the rest of our interior guys are on rookie contracts.

Of course, the Seahawks could always use a little more pass rush security.  Maybe Cliff Avril gets extended beyond this year.  Maybe we hit on someone in the draft.  Maybe we pick up another team’s cast-off.  Or, maybe we just try to hold the fort and steal another team’s outgoing free agent next year.

The point is:  pass rush & secondary = big money players.  Linebackers & interior linemen = savings.

On offense, the Seahawks have proven that a run-first model isn’t entirely out-dated.  Nevertheless, their spending in this area kinda sorta is.

Marshawn Lynch has the fourth-highest average per-year salary on the team (behind Harvin, Thomas, and Okung).  His contact runs out after the 2015 season.  Nobody really expects Lynch to see the final year of that deal as it’s currently configured, because nobody really expects Lynch to continue playing at the high level he’s been at the last three or four years.  Plus, there’s the whole issue with Russell Wilson getting his money after the 2014 season (when the team can negotiate an extension and finally pay him what he’s really worth).

As you can see from all the free agent deals for running backs this off-season, they’re not getting the kind of money they used to get even 10 years ago.  It sounds crazy when you think of someone like Chris Johnson, who can only get a 2-year deal; he was once the best runner in football and he’s NOT THAT OLD.  Same goes for these other guys.  What kind of a deal would Ben Tate have gotten even five years ago?  Now, he’s playing for peanuts, as is MJD, Darren McFadden, and every other running back who hits free agency.

Why is that?  Because teams are reluctant to go with the one-back system and instead opt for a By-Committee approach.  Because injuries are a son of a bitch.  And because all too often, a no-name guy from the back-end of the draft will enter the mix in the NFL and be just as good, if not better, than these over-paid mama’s boys (Trent Richardson) who somehow still get drafted high.

All of this tells me one thing:  you’re foolish if you’re pumping too much money into the running back position.

The Seahawks have the luxury of paying Marshawn Lynch a high salary because they’re paying next-to-nothing for Russell Wilson (and the quarterback position at large).  But, when Wilson’s commanding around $20 million per season, you’ve got to find ways to cut corners somewhere.  I would wager the Seahawks will pull some of that money out of the running back position (which is a shame, because everyone loves Marshawn Lynch with a passion).

It’ll be difficult, for the Seahawks more than others, because we DO rely on the run so much to make our offense go.  The run sets up the play-action pass.  The run keeps defenses honest.  The run also reduces the risk of turnovers, because if we’re successfully running the ball, then we’re not throwing as much.  If we’re not throwing as much, then we’re not throwing as many interceptions.  Bing, bang, boom.  So, the Seahawks can’t throw just any ol’ scrub in the backfield and expect to succeed.

To do what I advocate, you have to draft wisely and you have to draft often.  Finding value in a guy like Christine Michael (if he does, indeed, turn out to be the elite runner we all expect) will set us up for a good long while.  Yet, even if we were saddled with only Robert Turbin and whoever else via draft, I’d be content.

Because as long as you put value and talent into your offensive line, it really shouldn’t matter who you have at running back.

Under my system – which incidentally is the one the Seahawks have been using – you’ve got to have a great left tackle.  Russell Okung fits that mold.  He’s not quite Walter Jones, but then again, who is?  You SHOULD be able to cut corners a little bit on the guard spots, as long as you’ve got a great center.  The Seahawks have Max Unger, who is pretty terrific.  I’d like to see a breakdown of the best centers and how often they’re involved in lengthy playoff runs, because I think they’re WAY more important than most people give them credit for.

Under almost no circumstances should you be paying elite money to a guard.  Unless you know you’re getting someone like Hutch in his prime.  At which point, you should probably find a value center and make due with a so-so right tackle.  Obviously, you can’t pay everyone, but you should probably have at least two guys who are worthy of high-paying contracts.

If you’re a bad team, get that left tackle with a high draft pick.  There is ALWAYS an elite left tackle coming out in the draft.  So, if you have a high draft pick, make that guy your first priority.  Of course, it doesn’t hurt to have a wonderful coach like Tom Cable, so try to get yourselves one of those.

The model isn’t perfect, obviously.  The Seahawks had two great linemen and a bunch of injuries last year and really struggled to protect the quarterback.  That’s where your QB comes into play.  You can put a crappy QB behind an elite O-Line and make some hay.  You probably won’t win many championships, but you can consistently make the playoffs.  The worse your O-Line is, though, the better your quarterback must be.  Russell Wilson probably isn’t an elite QB just yet, but he was good enough to make up for all the injuries and inconsistencies we suffered last year.

And, of course, that leads us to the passing game.  You can run the football all you want, but unless you can throw the ball when it counts, you’re not going to go all the way.  Ask Adrian Peterson about that, I’m sure he’s got some stories to tell.

Like I said at the top, you need the quarterback, but it helps if he has talent to throw to.

Some quarterbacks – like Brees, Peyton Manning, etc. – will turn any receiver into a 1,000 yard threat.  Others – I’m looking at you Andy Dalton, Colin Kaepernick, Jay Cutler, etc. – need their receivers to elevate their games.

Andy Dalton would be a poor man’s Kyle Orton if he didn’t have A.J. Green.  Kaepernick was God-awful last year without Crabtree!  And Jay Cutler’s a fucking mess WITH guys like Brandon Marshall, but just imagine how terrible he’d be without him.

Now, say what you will about our receivers, but I think they’ve been pretty great.  And, until Percy Harvin came along, they’ve been relatively cheap as well.

Again, a great quarterback will make up for a lot of deficiencies.  I have no doubt that someone like Russell Wilson makes someone like Jermaine Kearse a better football player.  It’s tough to say what Kearse’s ceiling would be in an offense that passes as much as New Orleans or Green Bay, but I bet it would be higher than you’d think if you had someone like Aaron Rodgers or Drew Brees throwing the ball around 35 times a game.

Our offense doesn’t need to over-spend at the wide receiver position, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t.  If you can get someone like Percy Harvin, you probably should do it.  If you draft someone and he turns out to be the next Calvin Johnson, then you should probably do whatever it takes to keep him.

This can be a little tricky, because if your #1 receiver is making top quarterback money, AND if you happen to have one of those top quarterbacks, then you can get into a situation like they’ve got down in Detroit.  The Lions should probably worry about pumping their resources into an offensive line, or a secondary, to round out their team (and not, for instance, over-pay for someone like Golden Tate, but you didn’t hear that from me).

There are talented receivers out there in the draft and among the undrafted free agents, but you gotta be smart about it.  I would more than be in favor of an A-B-C salary structure for your top three receivers.  Your A-player gets the lion’s share, your B-player gets a healthy mid-level contract, and your C-player is probably a rookie or a young guy on a cheap deal.

In short, on offense, you’re going to want to pump a lot of money into the quarterback and the offensive line.  Stay away from overpaying running backs and tight ends (unless you’ve got one like Jimmy Graham that plays more like a wide receiver anyway).  And, just be smart about paying your receivers.  If you’re only going to throw 20-25 times per game, maybe don’t throw all your eggs into the receiver basket.  But, don’t leave the cupboard completely barren either.

The point of all of this is to say that the Seahawks are doing it the right way.  If you root for another team, and they happen to be struggling, then follow the money.  Where are their big-money contracts going?  Would they be better off putting that money elsewhere?  Are they making the same mistakes over and over?  Then, you might be a redneck Mariners fan, and get out of my brain.

How Might The Broncos Defeat The Seahawks In Super Bowl XLVIII?

I feel like if you took a poll of football fans, the vast majority just wants it to be Sunday already.  Let’s face it, in the two full weeks leading up to the Super Bowl, you can be inundated with just the most trivial of bullshit.  I mean, really, who gives a FUCK if Marshawn Lynch doesn’t want to talk to the media?  Well, besides the media, of course, who by and large are entitled cuntbags who whine at the drop of a hat if everything doesn’t go their way.  Lynch makes a good point:  if the fans don’t care, then what’s the problem?  Trying to say that he’s being a “distraction” is completely asinine.  Do you REALLY think the Seahawks are losing their focus on this game because Marshawn Lynch did a couple of 6-minute interviews during Super Bowl week, when he was supposed to be there longer?  Do you REALLY think Marshawn Lynch is going to sweat all this noise when he’s got the football in his hands Sunday afternoon, following his lead-blocker into battle?

It’s all just contrived nonsense by the media who gets paid really good money to cover a child’s game.  Just like the weather.  Who cares that it’s cold in New York?  The media.  Because you gotta write about something.  That’s why, when Richard Sherman did his thing at the end of the NFC Championship, we’re talking about throwing a raw piece of meat to a starving pack of wolves.  You want to make a media member’s day?  Say something the least bit controversial.

Except, where has the controversy been this week?  After Richard Sherman did his “I’m So Sorry” parade across America, there’s been nothing.  No locker-room material, no outrageous stand on gay people or gun laws, and no taking the bait of the loonies walking around with media credentials.  Ergo, the media has nothing to talk about, so they make up some bullshit about how Beastmode is a distraction.  And you know what sucks about it?  If the Seahawks end up losing, or if Lynch has a key fumble or something, they’re going to go back after the fact and say, “Yep, we were right!  His not talking to the media was a distraction and that’s why they lost!”

IT’S INSANE!  It’s absolutely and totally insane.  The Seahawks don’t have to win to disprove that idea, but you better bet your ass that’ll be the narrative anyway.  Because members of the media are all susceptible to groupthink, whether they realize it or not.  You hear them on the radio, you read their articles, and you get the same nonsense from each and every one of them.

So, yeah, I get it.  I get why people are ready for it to be over with already.  And, furthermore, if you’re a fan of the Seahawks or the Broncos specifically, you’re REALLY itching for this game to get going.  You’re probably bouncing off the walls!  Your sleep has likely been affected, your productivity at work has probably declined, and therefore you’re just a little bit irritable (like I am) about these stories you’re reading.

But, you know what?  A small part of me wishes that these two weeks would last forever.  As long as the Super Bowl has yet to be played, the season is still going.  My team is still alive.  And, most importantly, my team hasn’t LOST.  I almost dread the thought of losing more than I relish the notion of us being world champs.

For the record, I do think the Seahawks are going to win on Sunday.  I’ve said it many times throughout the year:  the Seahawks at their best are better than every other team in this league.  It’s a fact.  But, that’s just it, you never know what version of this team you’re going to get.  You know regardless, it’s going to be pretty good.  It’s a team that’s going to be IN every game it plays.  I would never for one second anticipate a blowout loss.  But, will we get the team that thrashed the Saints on Monday Night Football?  Or, will we get the team that came VERY close to blowing that game in St. Louis (also on Monday Night)?

The phrase “on any given Sunday” applies to the Seahawks just as it applies to every other team in the league.  When you’re as good as Seattle has been, you know that more often than not, on any given Sunday we’ll be looking at a Seahawks victory.  When you know your team is as good as this one, that makes the regular season stakes pretty low.  The edge ramps up in the playoffs, but still, you’re talking about the #1 team with home field advantage.  There was no good reason why the Seahawks should have lost those games against the Saints & 49ers, because we were just plain better than those teams.

But here, we’ve got the Super Bowl.  The last game.  It’s not just Win Or Go Home, it’s Win Or Have Your Soul Crushed.  Win or lose, you’re going to hear the same narrative coming out of this game:  The Seahawks Are Set Up For A Long Run Of Greatness.  You’ll be told that this won’t be our only Super Bowl appearance.  But, you don’t know!  Yeah, I’m a firm believer that we’ve got a dynasty on our hands, but this team’s meteoric rise in such a short time (with such a young roster) is no guarantee of future success.  I’m sure Dan Marino thought he’d be playing in multiple Super Bowls throughout his career after he made the big game in his second season.  15 seasons and a Hall of Fame career after that Super Bowl defeat, Dan Marino had exactly zero other Super Bowl appearances.  It’s not fair and it’s not logical, but that’s how it went down.  There’s nothing saying the Seahawks are assured of shit going forward.

That’s why Super Bowl XL was so important, and that’s why Super Bowl XLVIII is so important.  You never know when you’ll make it back.  Hell, there are still teams who’ve never been!  In one sense, we’re lucky we’ve got these Seahawks.  But, in another sense, we need them to take advantage of this opportunity while we’ve got it.

As I wrote yesterday, the Seahawks SHOULD have won Super Bowl XL.  It took crippling mistakes on 11 of 12 offensive possessions for us to lose that game (as well as numerous defensive mistakes and refereeing blunders, but that’s neither here nor there).

These Seahawks SHOULD win Super Bowl XLVIII, but the same things are at play.  We can talk about turnovers and “big plays” until we’re blue in the face, but there are other ways to screw up this game.  Untimely penalties.  Uncharacteristic drops.  Shoddy play-calling.  Soft defense.  An inaccurate quarterback.  Or, just flat out being tied with two minutes to go, kicking off to Peyton Manning for the go-ahead score.

Anything can happen.  And if enough of this bad shit happens, we’re looking down the barrel of another Super Bowl defeat while Peyton Manning gets to cement his legacy as the world’s greatest quarterback.  Is that what you want?  Do you want the Seahawks to help cement another man’s legacy as one of the greatest?  Do you want to give John Elway the satisfaction on his smug, butchered face?  Do you want to see Horseteeth McGee holding up yet another Lombardi Trophy?  Oh, real impressive work, Elway!  You won a championship by roping in a hired gun hall of famer in his prime!  Like any one of us couldn’t have done what you did!

So yeah, actually, I CAN wait for the Super Bowl to happen.  In fact, I was perfectly calm before I started writing this fucking post.  Now my heart’s beating fast and I’ve got all these worries … what the Hell am I doing on here anyway?

If the Seahawks lose this Sunday, bank on it being because Peyton Manning was able to do what Colin Kaepernick couldn’t:  come through with the game-winning touchdown in the final seconds.  Bank on our defense not getting the requisite turnovers it needs to really thrive.  Bank on Denver receivers somehow finding ways to get open time and time again.  I’m not necessarily expecting Denver to run the ball all that well, but that’s always a concern.  And, of course, bank on the Seahawks not being able to throw the ball as well as we’d like.

Of all the bullshit media narratives going on this week, the one I’m sick of the most is probably, “The Russell Wilson Problem”.  It goes by many alternatives:  The Offensive Line Problem, The Wide Receiver Problem, and so on, but essentially it boils down to this:  the Seahawks have struggled when the passing game has struggled.  Look at the best game of the year – the first Saints contest.  Is it a coincidence that it also happened to be Wilson’s best game?  I’ll admit, I’m sick and tired of hearing about this issue, but it’s also the issue I’m most afraid of coming true.

It’s why I’ve been calling for this team to open things up a little bit and start throwing the ball around more.  Our offense is never better than when it’s playing from behind and is forced to throw its way back into a ballgame.  You know all the examples by now.  But, get this, in that Saints game, there was a remarkable dedication to the pass from the get-go, and we were rewarded with one of our most comfortable victories of the season.  It wasn’t the shutout against the Giants, but again, you’re looking at an offense that should’ve scored 40!  Instead, we scored 23 and one of those touchdowns was off of an interception that gave us the ball at the Giants’ 16 yard line.

Now, obviously, I’m not going to sit here and expect them to change their whole philosophy (even though, as I stated before, what better time to install a radical new gameplan than in the two weeks before the Super Bowl?).  So, that means that we’re going to come out heavy, running the ball a lot, and slowing the game down.  It also means we’re going to need Russell Wilson to be perfect in those few situations where a pass is absolutely necessary.  Like, on third down and more than 3 yards to go.

And, here’s the key element to all of this:  we can’t wait around for Russell Wilson to settle into a groove.  What are some of his flaws?  He tends to overthrow receivers early in games (probably due to being amped up for the game).  He tends to abandon the pocket prematurely.  He tends to miss open receivers because he’s so worried about someone hitting him from behind (because we’re a little TOO preoccupied with preventing turnovers).  Well, normally, it’s okay, because our defense is good enough to keep us in games until Wilson figures it out.

But, we’re playing the Denver Fucking Broncos and Peyton Fucking Manning.  They’re going to get theirs.  It’s unrealistic to believe we’re going to hold them to just field goals.  It’s especially unrealistic to believe we’re going to shut them down entirely.  To be honest with you, I’d be shocked if we won the turnover battle on Sunday.  I think, if nothing else, it’s going to be even.  But, I’m afraid that we’re going to lose it by a fumble or two.  I can’t help but see a clean game out of Denver, especially if their defense is able to whoop up on our asses.  Because they know, if their defense comes to play, it’s only a matter of time before Manning and Co. puts up some crooked numbers on the scoreboard.  So, their offense won’t necessarily have to take the risky chances it would if they were down by a couple scores.  Eventually, they will just push through with points by being careful and precise.

If we play a clean game and they play a clean game, it might be enough to just limit turnovers and big plays.  It might be enough to force Denver into a bunch of 10-play drives because they’re dinking & dunking their way down the field.  It might be enough to be the team who has the ball last.  But, if we’re not getting them to turn the ball over (which I fear we won’t), and Russell Wilson comes in with a stinker of a game until the fourth quarter, when our comeback is all for naught, then I’m afraid we’re in for another disappointing end to a once-promising season.

It’s almost enough to make me lose my mind.  Maybe I should save myself four hours of grief and anxiety and hit up a movie theater instead.

Jeffri Chadiha Is A Blithering Moron

Read this.  It was posted to ESPN.com on Monday after the Super Bowl matchup was decided.  In it, he writes about how he thinks Denver will win the Lombardi Trophy, and by his claims, it doesn’t sound like he thinks it will even be close.

Jeffri Chadiha is an ESPN columnist who more or less has it out for the Seahawks.  I dunno, maybe he likes the abuse he receives from the 12th Man on issues like Russell Wilson ever being elite, or Russell Wilson being MVP-worthy.  Obviously, that talk of Wilson being an MVP was an overblown overreaction thanks to a blistering performance on Monday Night Football against the Saints.  I guess somebody had to write the “not so fast, don’t forget about Peyton Manning” article on the subject, but I find it interesting that Chadiha drew the short straw on that assignment.  Maybe it WAS random.  Or, maybe it’s a weak-ass vendetta by a guy who just doesn’t like the Seahawks, for whatever reason.

His Super Bowl preview article at the top, though, takes the cake of utter lunacy.  His main points are as follows:

  1. Peyton Manning is amazing and this offense is the best we’ve ever seen
  2. The Broncos have survived countless hardships and come through smelling like roses
  3. Since Baltimore (last year) battled through adversity, that means the Broncos (this year) will do the same
  4. The Seahawks’ offense isn’t good
  5. The Broncos’ defense – in spite of losing many stars – is better than expected
  6. The Seahawks receivers aren’t very good
  7. Percy Harvin sat out the NFC Championship Game
  8. Peyton Manning won’t make the mistakes Colin Kaepernick made
  9. Manning will find the “weakest link in the Seahawks’ secondary and wear that guy out”
  10. The Seahawks’ defense holds & roughs up receivers regularly, so expect the refs to throw flags regularly
  11. Manning is near the end of his career, so they have an emotional edge

So, let’s take this point by point.

1.  Yes, the Broncos’ offense is amazing.  But, look at the numbers.  Amazing offenses often come out on the short-end of the stick in games like these, against top defenses.  Just look at the 2007 Patriots:  they were the reigning champions of the best offense ever, and look at how that game turned out.

2.  Yes, the Broncos have sustained injuries to key players.  But, remember the Seahawks?  Remember Percy Harvin, who everyone can’t stop talking about?  Since you don’t follow this team, your opinion of the receivers is pretty low.  You attribute most of that to the fact that Harvin hasn’t played (and some of that to losing Sidney Rice midway through the season – another huge blow to this team).  So, wouldn’t this passing game be some sort of miracle, considering all the hardships we’ve had to overcome?  Granted, our passing attack isn’t on par with the Broncos, but then again, we do run the ball more than we pass, so the gameplan MIGHT have something to do with it.

Also, let me introduce you to our offensive line.  Russell Okung and Breno Giacomini missed a huge portion of the year (and, you could argue, are still playing hurt).  Max Unger has been banged up all year and has missed some time as well.  Left guard has been a revolving door – not thanks to injuries – but to ineffectiveness.  How we landed in the top five in rushing offense is nothing short of amazing when you think about all we’ve had to overcome.

Finally, there were the suspended players.  Bruce Irvin, Brandon Browner, Walter Thurmond.  People don’t like to bring up these guys unless they’re ragging on our loose culture and “cheating” players.  But, this TEAM had to overcome those losses, and the defense never skipped a beat.

Hardships?  We’ve all had ’em.  Every team that gets to this point has had to overcome adversity.  Don’t try to paint it like the Broncos are poor, starving orphans while the Seahawks are the miserly Mr. Scrooge.

3.  Are you shitting me with this shit?  What in the fuck does Baltimore’s 2012 squad have to do with Denver’s 2013 squad?  If anything, Denver’s road to the Super Bowl has been pretty fucking charmed!  They made it through a 6-seeded San Diego team that’s nothing special, then followed that up with a New England team that’s a shell of its former championship-self.  They had home field throughout … and you’re comparing them to last year’s Baltimore team?  A team that was forced to play a Wild Card game, then had to go on the road to play the top two seeds in the AFC?  ARE YOU SHITTING ME WITH THIS SHIT?

4.  And here’s where we look at the tale of two schedules.  The Seahawks’ offense isn’t very good.  Right.  And Denver’s is amazing.  I think we can all agree on that.

Except, who were these defenses that Seattle and Denver had to play this year?

Well, let’s see.  Including the playoffs, Denver played all of four games this year against defenses ranked in the Top 15 (Houston – 7th, NY Giants – 8th, Baltimore – 12th, & Tennessee – 14th).  Meanwhile, the Seahawks – again, including playoffs – played THIRTEEN games against defenses ranked in the Top 15 (Carolina – 2nd, New Orleans twice – 4th, San Francisco three times – 5th, Arizona twice – 6th, Houston – 7th, NY Giants – 8th, Tennessee – 14th, & St. Louis twice – 15th).

Again, that’s 22% of Denver’s schedule (including playoffs) against defenses ranked in the top half, vs. 72% of Seattle’s schedule (including playoffs) against defenses ranked in the top half.

How do you think Seattle’s offense would have looked if we got to play San Diego three times instead of San Francisco?  Their defense ranked 23rd on the season.  What about Kansas City’s?  Denver played them twice, and the Chiefs are ranked 24th.  And that amazing New England team?  Yeah, they played the Pats twice this year too, and their defense is ranked 26th.

The best defense Denver faced this year was Houston’s.  They haven’t even played a defense in the top SIX!  Yeah, I think we can give them a game.

By the by, where is Denver’s defense ranked?  How about 19th.  You don’t think we can score on the 19th ranked defense, when they’re piecing together a unit out of duct tape?  I guess we’ll see.

5.  I’ll give you that their run defense is pretty solid, and plays against the strength of our offense.  But, remember, this is the same team that had a 100-yard rusher against the vaunted 49ers run defense, in the NFC Championship game.  Without Von Miller?  Yeah, I think I’ll take my chances with Seattle.  Just wait until they bite on the play-action pass for the umpteenth time.

6.  I’ll give you that the Seahawks’ receivers aren’t the Broncos’ receivers.  It’s not even fair, because I would argue – as a unit – the Broncos have the best receiving corps in the game.  Nevertheless, we’re talking about a Denver defense ranked 27th against the pass!  The Seahawks played against the 2nd-ranked passing defense in the Saints back in week 13 and Russell Wilson threw for 310 yards. 

And, you said it yourself when you say, “Seattle simply doesn’t have the weapons in the passing game to frighten a Broncos secondary that has quickly become a patchwork unit.”  Seriously?  Do you know what the phrase “patchwork unit” means?  It means, “Not very good.”  It means, they’ve sustained injuries and they’re barely hanging on for dear life.  You know what a GREAT example of a patchwork unit was?  The Seahawks’ secondary in Super Bowl XL.  Remember how they were shredded?  Yeah, that’s the kind of unit Denver has right now.  Again, I’ll take my chances with the Seahawks’ receivers doing just enough to get by.

7.  You start this section of your article by talking about how Tom Brady wasn’t able to do a whole lot.  Then, you continue to denigrate the Seahawks’ receivers again by saying they’re only “marginally better” than the Patriots at receiver.  OH MY GOD, I could make out with you for putting such bulletin board fodder up in the Seahawks’ receiver room.  Then, oddly, you say, “Wide receiver Percy Harvin was plagued by injuries all season and ultimately sat out Seattle’s 23-17 win over San Francisco in Sunday’s NFC title game.”  As if that somehow means something.  You didn’t see this team put him on Injured Reserve prior to that game, did you?  You do realize that people can recover from concussions and return to the field, right?  What does his missing a game (or multiple games) have to do with his availability in the Super Bowl?

8.  Peyton Manning won’t make the mistakes Kaepernick made, ostensibly because Peyton Manning is perfect, right?  You’re conveniently forgetting the fact that in all three of Denver’s losses this year, Manning has made critical mistakes at inopportune times.

You’re also conveniently forgetting that many of Manning’s worst games have come in the playoffs, in cold environments, much like the one he’ll be in on February 2nd.  No, his noodle arm won’t make the same mistakes Kaepernick made.  His mistakes will be different, but no less painful.

9.  What’s the weak link in Seattle’s secondary?  Tell me, I’d like to know.  From here, it just looks like regular old, sturdy links.  Some are stronger than others, but all of them are pretty fucking solid.

I would imagine he’ll avoid Richard Sherman as much as possible, but I don’t think he’ll avoid him entirely.  You don’t get to where Manning has gotten without a little arrogance.  He’ll challenge the best in the game, and maybe he’ll win some, but more often than not, he’ll lose.

Byron Maxwell.  I’m assuming you’re talking about Byron Maxwell when you’re talking about the “weakest link”.  You don’t think other teams have been trying to “wear out” Byron Maxwell ever since he entered the starting lineup?  Get real!  Maxwell is better than you realize, and you’re going to learn a valuable lesson come Super Bowl time.

As for the other “weak links”, I assume you’re talking about Thurmond and Jeremy Lane.  Both have started this year, and both have done an amazing job covering receivers in the slot.  If you expect Wes Welker to thrash these guys, you’ve got another thing coming.  He’s slow, and they’re long and rangy.  He’ll get some, but he won’t be surpassing 100 yards, that’s for damn sure.

And, if you’re NOT talking about Maxwell, Thurmond, or Lane, then I have to assume you’re talking about whoever is tasked with covering Julius Thomas.  Yes, because the elite tight ends on the Saints and 49ers had such wonderful days catching footballs in these playoffs.  Remember Jimmy Graham and Vernon Davis?  If I’m not mistaken, those two combined for 3 receptions for 24 yards.  Not too worried about Julius Thomas.

10.  Flags.  You’re looking at my worst nightmare.  Yet, here’s the “point” that you make:  Denver is “blessed with exceptional talent” and the league “is biased toward offense”, so that means the Seahawks are going to be called for lots of defensive holding and pass interference.

Yet, what evidence do you have that this has been a trend in these playoffs?  Even if you took that information out, what does conventional wisdom say?  The refs are more likely to let the players play in the playoffs.  To let the game be decided on the field, and not by the judgment of the men in black & white.  Now, look again at this year’s playoffs:  pretty low flag count, right?  Right.  You know that, and yet you make this point in your article.

If anything, I would think the refs have seen the tape of Super Bowl XL and will have a subconscious predilection toward NOT screwing the Seahawks over with a bunch of penalties.  Of course, if there’s a penalty, a flag will be thrown.  But, on some of these questionable calls – where you seem to believe the benefit of the doubt will be given to the Broncos – I contend that the NFL doesn’t want to hear the bitching and the crying from fans saying that the Seahawks “got screwed” again by the refs.

Remember, it’s not every Super Bowl where the head official later comes to town and formally apologizes for his shoddy work.

11.  Ahh, the end of Peyton Manning’s run in the NFL.  It sure is something special!  And you’re right, Denver might have the emotional edge.  Just look at Jerome Bettis with Pittsburgh and Ray Lewis with Baltimore.  Hell, look at Denver’s very own John Elway!  These guys just seem to always go out on top and ride off into the sunset, don’t they?

I would argue the main difference between Manning and those other three guys is that Manning is a hired gun in Denver.  Bettis played the bulk of his career in Pittsburgh, and Lewis & Elway both played the entirety of their careers in their respective home cities.

Also, for every Bettis, Lewis, and Elway, there are hundreds of Tony Gonzalez’s, Dan Marino’s and Warren Moon’s.  Shit, look at how long guys like Favre, Namath, and Jerry Rice hung on, just to get “one more ring”.  Their careers ended in relative ignominy, yet for each one of them “going out on top” would have been an amazing story that surely would have given their respective teams that additional emotional boost to go over the top.

Face it, your arguments are based on ill-informed opinions and karmic idiocy.  Instead of writing this drivel, just tell us what you REALLY think:  you don’t like the Seahawks and you hope the Broncos beat their brains in.  We’ll all respect you more if you just tell the truth.

The Best Players On The Worst Teams, Part III: Seattle Seahawks

Part I – Felix Hernandez

Part II – Other Seattle Mariners

The single greatest travesty in Seattle sports history might be the fact that Steve Largent never had a chance to win a Super Bowl.  Largent joined the team in its first year of existence, 1976.  The team had a winning record in only its third season, but didn’t make the playoffs until 1983.  That was the year the Seahawks beat the Elway-led Broncos and the Marino-led Dolphins, but ended up losing to the Plunkett-led Raiders in the AFC title game.

That would be the closest Largent ever made it to the Super Bowl.

The Seahawks returned to the playoffs the following year, losing in the second round.  Then, the Seahawks cracked a Wild Card spot in ’87 & ’88, but lost in the first round both times.  Largent retired after the 1989 season with only four playoff appearances under his belt and a 3-4 record in those playoffs.  His Seahawks teams, in the regular season, were a remarkably mediocre 103-109.  They passed on such studs as John Elway & Dan Marino in the 1983 draft and were rewarded with a very-good running back in Curt Warner who was also very injury prone.  I’m sure there were other studs along the way that this team missed out on, which rendered Largent’s career a little lacking.  He was the greatest wide receiver of all time when he retired (to be surpassed by Art Monk and later Jerry Rice) and he certainly deserved better.


The other Hall of Fame Seahawk had a tougher go of it while he was here.  Cortez Kennedy played 11 seasons, all in Seattle, and he was the finest defensive tackle I’ve ever seen play the game.  He was drafted with the #3 overall pick in 1990 and made an immediate impact on this team.  Unfortunately, he was the ONLY player who made an impact on this team, as the early 90s were Seattle’s darkest period.

Like Largent, Kennedy’s Seahawks were also remarkably mediocre, with a 76-100 record.  Unlike Largent, Kennedy’s Seahawks would only see the playoffs one time.  In Kennedy’s tenth season in the league, as his career was winding down, he was playing for his fourth head coach.  Fortunately, this coach was future Hall of Famer Mike Holmgren.  With a 9-7 record, the Seahawks won the AFC West and hosted a Wild Card round game.  What should have been a nice little story out of the Pacific Northwest turned into the Trace Armstrong Show as he got three sacks and killed our chances at a late-game comeback.  This game ended up being the last victory in Dan Marino’s storied career (as the Dolphins would go on to get destroyed by Jacksonville the following week, 62-7), but it was also the last and only taste of the post-season for Cortez Kennedy.

Tez played the 2000 season, but by this point he was just a shell of his former self.  He ended up retiring (after the team decided to not re-sign him, and after other teams decided they didn’t want to give him a chance) with an 0-1 record in the playoffs.


Jim Zorn definitely falls into the Steve Largent realm of Seattle greats without much success.  Zorn was supplanted by Dave Krieg in the 1983 season, having participated in just three playoff games (but only playing significant minutes in just the one game, the loss to the Raiders in the AFC title game).

Dave Krieg is less-deserving, as he finished his career with the Chiefs and Lions and made the playoffs with both teams.  Besides that, Krieg really stunk up the joint in that AFC Title game (0 TDs & 3 INTs) and I never much cared for him anyway.  Me and my family always liked to make fun of his small hands and his fumble-prone ways.  Suffice it to say, the Taylors don’t revere the man like most of the rest of Seattle seems to (revisionist thinking at its finest; Krieg was a bum).

Toss Kenny Easley into the pile.  He played in one less playoff game than Largent, but his hard-luck ways were due more to his injuries preventing him from being one of the all-time greatest safeties.  Jacob Green was the finest and most-durable defensive end in Seahawks history, and he shares in the woes of those teams in the 80s.  Eugene Robinson WOULD appear on this list, except he went on to great success with the Packers (his Super Bowl-day arrest while playing with the Falcons notwithstanding).

Brian Blades is the last name on this list.  He was drafted in the 2nd round in 1988 and went on to become the second-greatest wide receiver in team history.  Blades played in 11 seasons, all with Seattle.  Yet, his only playoff appearance took place in his rookie year of 1988, where the Seahawks lost in the Wild Card round to the Cincinnati Bengals.  Blades caught 5 balls for 78 yards (while Largent caught only 2 for 17), which represented a passing of the torch from one legend to another.  Nevertheless, those 5 balls were the only ones he would catch in the post-season.  He retired after the 1998 season and missed out on all the greatness this franchise would have after the turn of the century.


For the record, I’m not including any of the players who were featured on those great Holmgren teams.  Let’s face it, if you were involved in five consecutive playoff appearances, no one is feeling sorry for you.  You had your chances, including a Super Bowl appearance at the end of the 2005 season.  Those teams were great, and so it’s hard to lament guys like Walter Jones, Shaun Alexander, and Matt Hasselbeck.  They were truly great players, but they were also on great teams.  And, if I wanted to list all the Seahawks who never won a Super Bowl, this post would be a million words long.

Should NFL Teams Trade For Wide Receivers?

There have been countless trades for wide receivers in the NFL.  Countless in the sense that I refuse to try and count them all.  I’m sure the information is out there, but I’m not in the business of compiling a complete list.

I do have AH list, though.  It’s a not-insignificant list, dating back a little over a decade.  Without further ado:

February 12, 2000 – Seattle Seahawks trade Joey Galloway to Dallas Cowboys for 2000 & 2001 first round picks

From the day Joey Galloway stepped onto a football field in 1995, he was a super-stud.  Per season, through 1999, he averaged 57 receptions for 891 yards and 7 touchdowns, with a 15.7 yards per catch average.  He topped 1,000 yards receiving in three of his five seasons, with his only down year taking place in 1999 when he held out for 8 games, hoping to push newly acquired Mike Holmgren around into giving him a new contract.  On top of that, Galloway was a massive success in the punt return game, returning four for touchdowns in his first four seasons.  When Holmgren came to Seattle, everyone thought two things:  that we would FINALLY have a franchise quarterback very soon, and that Joey Galloway would flourish in the West Coast Offense.  However, much like the new inmate who stabs his cell-mate on his first day, Mike Holmgren was looking to show everyone that he was nobody’s bitch.

So, he flipped Joey Galloway for two first rounders, one of the greatest fleecings in NFL trade history!  Galloway promptly tore his ACL in his first game in a Cowboys uniform and was never the same.  He was okay, but no longer the elite burner he had been with the Seahawks.  Didn’t prevent him from having a long, lasting career, which ended after the 2010 season, but he certainly didn’t live up to the cost in Dallas.

Meanwhile, the Seahawks turned those draft picks into Shaun Alexander (pick #19 in 2000), Koren Robinson (pick #9 in 2001), Heath Evans (pick #82 in 2001) and some dumb skank in the seventh round, thanks to trading that Dallas pick (#7 overall) to let San Francisco move up two spots.  Not a bad haul, and the first of many cautionary tales of trading for wide receivers in the NFL.

March 7, 2003 – Buffalo Bills trade Peerless Price to Atlanta Falcons for 2003 first round pick

And birthed about a billion “Price Was Right For Buffalo Bills” jokes and headlines.

You know, I had completely blocked out of my memory that Drew Bledsoe played quarterback for the Bills.  But, it’s true!  It happened!  From 2002 through 2004, he kept a mediocre franchise wallowing in mediocrity.  His last truly great season was 2002 when he threw for 4,359 yards and led the Bills to an 8-8 record.  On that team, he had two primary targets:  Eric Moulds (very underrated wideout), who caught 100 balls for 1,292 yards and 10 touchdowns; and one Peerless Price (very overrated wideout), who caught 94 balls for 1,252 yards and 9 touchdowns.

Price came into the league in 1999 and for the most part underwhelmed.  However, he parlayed a career year in 2002 into a Franchise Tag designation.  The Bills eventually traded him to the Falcons for that aforementioned first round pick, which was turned into Willis McGahee.  The Falcons, meanwhile, finally decided to put some receiving talent around Michael Vick.

Except, Price was pretty awful (to be fair, so was Vick, who was more runner than thrower back then) and was released after two sub-par seasons.  Hefty PRICE to pay indeed …

March 2, 2005 – Minnesota Vikings trade Randy Moss to Oakland Raiders for Napoleon Harris & 2005 first & seventh round picks

April 29, 2007 – Oakland Raiders trade Randy Moss to New England Patriots for 2007 fourth round pick

October 6, 2010 – New England Patriots trade Randy Moss to Minnesota Vikings for 2011 third round pick

Good God, Lemon!

I’m still trying to wrap my head around why Minnesota traded Randy Moss in the first place; probably because he was a real Grade-A prick to deal with, but that’s neither here nor there.  The bounty Oakland gave up is the closest thing approaching what Seattle just gave up for Percy Harvin, except it was for a first, a seventh, and a player instead of a third round pick.  Oakland’s first round pick ended up being the #7 overall choice, which the Vikings used ostensibly to draft his replacement – Troy Williamson (a real dud), but that’s also neither here nor there, because what Oakland gave up doesn’t even come CLOSE to how this trade ultimately backfired for them.

Granted, Minnesota didn’t really benefit from Moss’s departure (as Harris didn’t have much of an impact either), but Oakland got royally hosed.  Moss showed up, caught just a touch over 1,000 yards in 2005, then completely tanked it in 2006, which forced the Raiders to rid themselves of this pain in the ass once and for all.  They essentially gave him away to the Patriots for a 4th round pick, and SURPRISE, Moss magically returned to form.

Randy Moss was the best player alive in 2007 as the Patriots’ record-setting offense saw them go undefeated up until the Super Bowl, where they lost by mere inches as Tom Brady overthrew a streaking Moss in the waning seconds for a potential 80+ yard touchdown bomb.  Moss continued to be top-notch through 2009, until things got real cancerous in 2010, whereupon Moss was traded BACK to the Vikings for a third round pick.

Yeah, you read that right.  New England traded away a fourth rounder, got three amazing years out of a potential Hall of Famer, then traded him away for an even BETTER draft pick in the 2011 draft.  Holy Frijoles!

April 29, 2006 – Green Bay Packers trade Javon Walker to Denver Broncos for 2006 second round pick

Walker had one good season in Green Bay, in 2004, going for nearly 1,400 yards and 12 touchdowns with Brett Favre throwing him the ball.  This was after a couple of so-so seasons to start his career.  With one Pro Bowl under his belt, OF COURSE it was time to stick it to the man for a huge pay raise!  Because the Green Bay Packers have built up their dynasty on the foundation of over-paying for flashes in the pan.

Walker hired Drew Rosenhaus, talked a whole truckload of shit in the offseason, threatened to hold out and/or retire in 2005 if he wasn’t granted a trade or release, and finally came to his senses.  This led to him playing in Game 1, tearing an ACL, and being placed on injured reserve (I guess that’s one way to accrue a year’s service time).

Somehow, there was a market for this trainwreck, with the highest bidder being the Denver Broncos.  They not only gave away a second round draft pick, but they signed him to a HUGE 5-year deal.  Again, a guy coming off of an ACL injury, who lost a full season, and who had serious getting-along-with-others issues.  With Jake Plummer and a rookie Jay Cutler at the helm, Walker bounced back in 2006 to catch 69 balls for 1,084 yards and 8 touchdowns.  But, he faltered hard in 2007, became untradeable, and was ultimately released.  Oakland picked him up for the 2008 & 2009 seasons (after the Randy Moss experiment failed), but they got nothing from him and he never played a down thereafter.

September 11, 2006 – New England Patriots trade Deion Branch to Seattle Seahawks for 2007 first round pick

See this post for full details.

March 5, 2007 – Miami Dolphins trade Wes Welker to New England Patriots for 2007 second & seventh round picks

If this article teaches you anything, it’s that the Patriots should be the ONLY team allowed to participate in trades of wide receivers.

Essentially, Miami got nothing out of this deal.  New England got six years of a guy who caught over 100 passes and over 1,000 yards in five of those six seasons.  He has, in short, been a total and complete stud out of the slot.  Even though things appear to be ending acrimoniously, it’s pretty safe to say the Patriots dominated this trade.

April 28, 2007 – Detroit Lions trade Mike Williams and Josh McCown to Oakland Raiders for 2007 fourth round pick

This was how desperate the Lions were to trade erstwhile first rounder Mike Williams (out of USC).  They packaged him with a journeyman backup quarterback and STILL could only get a fourth round pick back from Oakland.  Williams was released after 6 games with the Raiders, played 2 more games with the Titans that season, then didn’t return to the NFL until 2010 with the Seahawks.  All the promise in the world, gone to waste.

April 29, 2007 – Seattle Seahawks trade Darrell Jackson to San Francisco 49ers for 2007 fourth round pick

Jackson put in seven seasons with the Seahawks of varying quality.  He was here for our rise and our best extended run of football.  But, he was constantly battling nagging injuries and was pretty much unable to practice by the time his run in Seattle ended.  So, the Seahawks opted to trade him for whatever they could get, to save a little cap and save themselves another season-ending injury.

I wouldn’t say anyone really “won” this trade – he caught less than 50 passes in his lone season with San Francisco for less than 500 yards before moving on with his career – because the Seahawks didn’t exactly make the best use of their fourth round pick (Mansfield Wrotto, because Tim Ruskell, obvs).  I would say expectations were higher for the 49ers; they were likely expecting a quality starter who would push them over the top in 2007.  What they got was a guy nearing the end of his run.  Too bad, because I always thought Jackson was a good guy.

October 16, 2007 – Miami Dolphins trade Chris Chambers to San Diego Chargers for 2008 second round pick

Chambers was always a super-talented receiver who, for whatever reason, couldn’t kick it up that notch to elite status.  In his first six seasons with the Dolphins, he only surpassed 1,000 yards one time (though he was over 650 yards in each of those seasons).  He made the Pro Bowl in 2005 and everyone thought he had turned a corner.  Except, in 2006, he took a giant step back.  In the middle of 2007, he was traded, which is the ultimate cautionary tale:  you never trade for a wide receiver in the middle of a season.

It’s bad news!  If I had the time, I would devote a post just to this, because it’s absolutely asinine.  You 100% need that time in the offseason and pre-season to get acquainted with your quarterback.  Learn his tendencies, anticipate where he wants you to go when a play breaks down.  San Diego had none of that, so of course the rest of his 2007 season was a lost cause.

Of course, with Chambers, a full offseason probably wouldn’t have done a lick of good.  My guess:  he dogged it and got too lazy to keep up in the rigorous NFL.  Either way, his 2008 was absolutely piss-poor, and he was released 7 games into 2009.  He finished his miserable career in Kansas City, where he belonged.

October 14, 2008 – Detroit Lions trade Roy Williams & 2010 seventh round pick to Dallas Cowboys for 2009 first, third, and sixth round picks

Man, don’t speak Roy Williams’ name around Cowboys fans; they might murder you!

Roy Williams was another decent-to-good receiver on a bad team traded in the middle of a season.  Dallas obviously didn’t learn its lesson from the Joey Galloway debacle and were rewarded thusly:  two and a half seasons of drops, fumbles, and all-around crappy play.  I don’t think anyone could have foreseen him stinking as badly as he did – especially when you consider he was surrounded by a talented quarterback and some talented receivers in Miles Austin and Jason Witten, but there you go.

April 11, 2010 – Pittsburgh Steelers trade Santonio Holmes to New York Jets for 2010 fifth round pick

After Roy Williams and Deion Branch, I thought it was safe to say we’d seen the last of teams trading first round draft picks for wide receivers.  Still, it was pretty shocking to see what little the Steelers actually got in return for a fairly productive fourth-year veteran.  You’d think with the Jets’ dearth of talent on offense, they could’ve squeezed a second or third rounder out of ’em.  But, considering what Holmes has become – injured and only so-so performance-wise – maybe a fifth rounder was OVER-paying.

April 14, 2010 – Denver Broncos trade Brandon Marshall to Miami Dolphins for 2010 & 2011 second round picks

March 13, 2012 – Miami Dolphins trade Brandon Marshall to Chicago Bears for 2012 & 2013 third round picks

Miami!  Did anyone ever tell you you’re THE WORST at dealing wide receivers?

Marshall was a pain in Denver’s God-foresaken ass pretty much from day 1, when it was apparent that he would be a stud and a diva at the same time.  When Jay Cutler officially took over as the starter in Denver – in Marshall’s second season – Marshall was the primary beneficiary.  Three consecutive seasons, from 2007-2009, Marshall caught over 100 passes.  But, since the Broncos were tired of his bullshit, they took the best offer they could get and they ran with it:  two second rounders.

The Dolphins hoped, by bringing in Marshall, they’d provide Chad Henne with the elite receiver to boost their overall passing game.  Unfortunately, they backed the wrong horse, as Chad Henne continued to suck dick in the endless Dolphins parade of dick-sucking at quarterback since Dan Marino retired.  When the Dolphins realized they sucked at life, they decided to trade a guy who caught back-to-back seasons of 80-plus passes for them to the Bears for considerably LESS than what they paid to bring him there in the first place.

The Bears, with Cutler en tow, enjoyed Marshall’s return to form, catching over 100 passes for over 1,500 yards in his best-ever season stats-wise.  The Dolphins, conversely, just overpaid for Mike Wallace so he can try to catch balls from Ryan Tannehill (see:  endless dick-sucking parade from before).

March 5, 2010 – Arizona Cardinals trade Anquan Boldin & 2010 fifth round pick to Baltimore Ravens for 2010 third & fourth round picks

March 12, 2013 – Baltimore Ravens trade Anquan Boldin to San Francisco 49ers for 2013 sixth round pick

The Cardinals were looking ahead in their attempt to pay Larry Fitzgerald insane gobs of money to keep him there (even though they trick-fucked him by letting Kurt Warner retire and not having a proper heir to replace him set up and ready to go) and knew they couldn’t afford to keep both him and Boldin, so there you go.  They got what they could from Baltimore and let the Ravens give him a big-money deal.  The Ravens were rewarded with three adequate, sub-1,000 yard seasons (as an offense that wasn’t really all that high-scoring anyway) and a Super Bowl victory this past February.  I’d say:  not too bad of a deal for the Ravens.  And, it’s hard to blame the Cardinals too much for this particular move.  I mean, when you compare it to literally EVERY OTHER MOVE they’ve made since losing that Super Bowl to the Steelers, trading away Boldin for a couple of mid-draft picks is pretty not-bad by comparison.

The Ravens are in a similar boat right now, having just signed Joe Flacco to the biggest deal in the history of ever.  Boldin was counting too much against the cap, so he had to go.  It’s pretty disingenuous of Flacco to publicly root for the Ravens to keep their other stars when he selfishly signed such a crippling contract, but I guess he got the “respect” he was looking for (money, respect = money).

And this is an AMAZING deal for a 49ers team still in their prime and looking to make it back to the Super Bowl.  I’m sure Boldin is licking his chops at the chance to go to back-to-back Super Bowls, only this time with the team he just beat LAST season.

March 12, 2013 – Minnesota Vikings trade Percy Harvin to Seattle Seahawks for 2013 first & seventh round picks & 2014 third round pick

I’m not going to get into some of the other guys I had jotted down (Brandon Lloyd, Mike Thomas, etc.) because this post is long enough as it is and I’ve got other shit to do.

I’m also not going to get too deep into this whole Harvin deal, because I’ve spent the whole fucking week talking about it.  I will say that the Seahawks are the first team to pony up a first rounder since the Cowboys did so for Roy Williams.  In fact, if you’ve been paying attention to this post, you’ll notice that not one single team got the value they were looking for when they gave away first round pick(s) to get wide receivers.  They all THOUGHT they were getting something amazing.  But, one way or another, they all got fucked.

So, something to look forward to.  Don’t necessarily buy into the gambler’s fallacy; just because the last ten flips of the coin were tails doesn’t necessarily mean this flip is destined to be heads.  Just put your money down and hope, that’s all you can do as a Seahawks fan.


There have been some miserable failures on this list, to be sure.  But, let us not forget one of the greatest success stories of all time.  A reason for hope!  Probably the greatest/most-lopsided trade in the history of the NFL:

August 26, 1976 – Houston Oilers trade Steve Largent to Seattle Seahawks for 1977 eighth round pick

That’s right.  The greatest Seahawk who ever lived, the first-ever Hall of Famer in franchise history, and the guy who retired with almost every wide receiving record in NFL history (before Art Monk, and later Jerry Rice blew right on past him) was drafted by the Houston Oilers and traded for a draft pick who never played a down of regular season NFL football.

So, you know, trading for a wide receiver isn’t ALL bad …

#7 – Russell Okung

To see the full list of the 20 best Seahawks in 2012, click here.

Russell Okung has been in the league for three seasons.  In 2010, he missed 6 games due to injury.  In 2011, it was down to 4 games.  And in 2012, Okung just missed the 1 game, week 2 vs. Dallas.

He’s getting more durable.  Not only that, but he’s just getting BETTER.  The two, I would imagine, go hand in hand.

When we drafted Okung with our top selection in 2010, our offensive line was in shambles.  The very best player to ever put on a Seahawks uniform – Walter Jones – had finally seen his knees give way.  We were a bad team looking to build through the draft, and thankfully that meant starting where every team SHOULD start:  the offensive line.  Russell Okung was our Walter Jones Replacement.

It’s just like any other team trying to replace a Hall of Famer – be it Dan Marino, John Elway, Brett Favre, or even Joe Montana – those are some powerful big shoes to fill.  Expectations fall immediately upon the replacement.  Sometimes unfair expectations.

It’s tough to temper that side of fandom.  After all, you get used to a certain quality of life.  In the case of Walter Jones, that quality of life included being the best offensive tackle in the game for a decade.  That meant punishing defenders, opening up gaping holes, and never letting your quarterback feel the brunt of the opposing team’s best pass rusher.

Sustaining that level of play is incredibly rare.  We’d been so blessed to have a guy like Walter that we just assumed whoever we used as a high draft pick to replace him would step right in and maintain that Hall of Fame level of play.  Which, as I said before, is probably unfair. 

I think it’s reasonable to expect SOME form of greatness, though.  I mean, he was a 6th overall draft choice.  You don’t draft someone that high expecting to get an Aaron Curry out of the deal.  You expect to get a starter and hopefully a Pro Bowl-quality starter.

Well, it took him three seasons, but Okung finally got that notch in his belt.  I would argue he’s had this in him all along, but freak ankle injuries have prevented him from really showing his stuff.  It’s good to see.  There’s enough to worry about as a football fan.  I can’t stand having offensive line be one of them.

Of course, what makes this team so special is the fact that Russell Okung – our highest-drafted player – isn’t even our BEST offensive lineman (which would fall to Max Unger).  That’s going to take this team very far in the coming years.