The Bears Hired Former Seahawks OC Shane Waldron

For the record, I never thought Shane Waldron was The Problem with the Seahawks the last few years. I don’t know if I was often wildly impressed with his playcalling or his gameplans, but he never stood out so negatively that I felt the urge to run him out on a rail.

We hired him from the Rams ahead of the 2021 season, where he was a, I dunno, Passing Game Coordinator? What even is that? Not someone who calls plays. Not someone who designs an offense. Pretty much: he knows Sean McVay, so maybe he can deploy an offense like Sean McVay. All right. I would say the McVay Coaching Tree isn’t totally bereft; Matt LaFleur is doing well in Green Bay, and Zac Taylor lucked into Joe Burrow in Cincinnati. But, now we’re just plucking any ol’ made up position coach and handing them the keys to an entire side of the football?

I wouldn’t say Waldron had the easiest landing when it came to his biggest promotion to date. He had to endure the final season of Russell Wilson in Seattle (where Wilson missed three games, then played terribly through the next three games thanks to a thumb injury), he had to transition to Geno Smith, and then he had to survive the final season of Pete Carroll in Seattle (where Geno missed some time and Drew Lock had to start actual football games).

In 2021, the Seahawks were 20th in yards per game and 16th in points per game. In 2022, we improved to 13th in yards per game (a 27 yards per game jump) and 9th in points per game (only a 0.7 PPG jump). In 2023, we regressed to 21st in yards per game, and 17th in PPG.

So, some good and some bad. We actually dropped in 2021 (in total yards and total points) compared to 2020 (the last season with Brian Schottenheimer as the OC), but you can see why a first-time signal caller would have some growing pains, especially in the dysfunction that was the 2021 Seahawks. But, as I noted here, the 2023 regression came at the hands of a wildly disappointing rushing attack, and that’s with arguably better talent at the running back position.

I find it interesting that the Bears were all over Shane Waldron. Granted, they’re The Bears, and it’s about as inept of a group as you’ll find in the NFL, especially on the offensive side of the ball. How many OCs is this for Justin Fields, going into just his fourth NFL season? Three. Dating back to 2010, no OC has lasted more than two seasons there. Their head coach, Matt Eberflus, just survived by the hairs on his chinny-chin-chin when it came to retaining his own job. I think it’s fair to say if this team doesn’t miraculously make the playoffs in 2024, we’ll likely see a full blown reconstruction of the coaching staff. And that’s not even factoring in the HUGE decision they have to make: do they take Caleb Williams at #1 overall? Or, do they trade that pick for more picks and roll with Justin Fields in the final year of his rookie deal?

This is The Bears we’re talking about, so whatever they choose will be the wrong decision. But, who knows? Crazier things have happened. The Lions are in the NFC Championship Game for crying out loud!

The thing with Shane Waldron is: we don’t really know if he’s good or bad. I get the feeling it’s difficult to be a coordinator under Pete Carroll. I feel like sometimes Pete meddles, and sometimes he’s entirely hands off, but either way it tends to go poorly unless we’re loaded with supremely talented players to make up for coaching deficiencies.

Darrell Bevell is the best offensive coordinator we’ve ever had (who just so happens to have gotten buried under the weight of one terrible call in the Super Bowl). I thought he was relatively creative and adaptive to personnel. He also had Russell Wilson in his magician years, and one of the most underrated receivers of all time in Doug Baldwin, to say nothing of the toughest running back of his era in Marshawn Lynch. In that sense, you’d think pretty much any playcaller would be able to succeed with that collection of talent.

Shane Waldron didn’t have those players. His players were okay, but definitely not on that level. The thing that stands out with Waldron is: there’s no one thing he appears to be elite at. It definitely didn’t feel like we got the Rams’ offense in Seattle. There were times this unit looked unstoppable, but also too many times where they kept getting in their own way and couldn’t do anything but go 3 & Out.

That being said, I didn’t see a lot of absolutely terrible play calls. Nothing out of the ordinary. Nothing that you wouldn’t see from any other offense. Sometimes it seemed like he’d go away from the running game just as it was working, but if that’s your biggest complaint, it’s probably not so bad.

Ultimately, Waldron wasn’t special. He was Just A Guy, in a long line of JAGs. We could do worse, of course. But, the hope is that we’ll end up doing better.

Shane Waldron just so happened to coincide with Clint Hurtt being the DC at the same time during his tenure here. So, in that sense, he lucked out. All the vitriol went to his counterpart, leaving Waldron flying well under the radar.

And apparently, doing a good-enough job for the Bears to hire him at the most critical juncture of their franchise’s history in the last two decades.

The Seahawks Aren’t Great At Any One Thing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What If The Seahawks Take A Quarterback With The Fifth Pick?

This question feels like a waste of time. It feels like clickbait nonsense. When you read it from established journalists/pundits – as opposed to yours truly, who’s writing this in his pajamas in the middle of the afternoon while listening to some #FunkyDiscoHouse – it feels like they’re just parroting what unnamed agents/NFL front offices want them to “leak”, for financial/competitive gains.

When I read about the Seahawks showing interest in the quarterback position at the top of the draft, it seems very disingenuous. That’s what we WANT the rest of the league to believe, so the price to trade into our spot goes up. Or, so teams will leapfrog us, in hopes that one of the bigtime defensive line prospects falls to us. And/or to drive Geno Smith’s price down.

99.9% of me believes it’s bullshit that the Seahawks would select a quarterback with the fifth overall draft pick. I can’t say 100%, because nothing is 100% in the game of football. But, I’m saying it without saying it: the Seahawks are NOT drafting a quarterback fifth overall.

I say that as a fan of the Seahawks who has followed this organization VERY closely through the years.

Can you name the highest-drafted quarterback in the Pete Carroll/John Schneider era? You should, because his name is Russell Wilson, and he was famously taken by us in the third round. We’ve taken exactly one other quarterback in the draft since 2010: Alex McGough in 2018, in the 7th round. That’s a 50% success rate, for those keeping track at home.

The Seahawks have largely been unconventional at the spot over the last 12+ years. The inherited Matt Hasselbeck, they traded for Charlie Whitehurst (a huge bust), they took on Tarvaris Jackson because he was familiar with Darrell Bevell’s system, they made a medium-sized splash on Matt Flynn, and they’ve run through a number of starting busts to sit behind Wilson until we got to Geno and Drew Lock last year battling it out. LOTTA crap there, up to and including Hasselbeck’s last year here (when he was over the hill), outside of hitting the lottery on Russell Wilson.

But, at the same time, there haven’t been those huge swings you see out of most other franchises. Do you know who was the last quarterback we drafted in the first two rounds? The much-maligned Rick Mirer at number two overall, back in 1993. In fact, there’s only one other QB the Seahawks have taken in the first two rounds, and that was Dan McGwire at number 16 in 1991 (when Chuck Knox lobbied hard for Brett Favre). That’s a 0% success rate, for those keeping track at home.

Isn’t that interesting, though? When you think about the Seahawks, you don’t think about us being totally bereft of quarterback talent. But, we’ve been unorthodox at getting our guys. Jim Zorn was an undrafted free agent. Dave Krieg was as well. Warren Moon was a free agent, Matt Hasselbeck was a trade acquisition; those are all the big names, that comprise a significant chunk of the Pre-Wilson Seahawks history.

What’s also interesting – especially going from the Holmgren era through the John Schneider era (both with ties to the Green Bay Packers way of doing things) – is that this organization doesn’t even take a lot of draft fliers the way the Packers model themselves after. We get our franchise quarterback, and we throw whatever scrubs we find off the scrap heap behind him. Now, to be fair, what are we talking about? The Packers have made two high-profile draft picks of Aaron Rodgers (when Favre was still playing at a high level) and Jordan Love (when Rodgers was still playing at a high level); it’s not like they’re actually drafting a new quarterback every season.

But, that’s their reputation, and that’s also the reputation that was foisted upon John Schneider. I don’t know if he buys into that or not. Maybe that was an unfair allegation that was levied against him, since he came from Green Bay. But, regardless, it hasn’t been even remotely his practice since coming here. Not even when you consider this team really could’ve used a little more attention paid to the position!

There are those rumors that he was all in on Patrick Mahomes and/or Josh Allen. That if those guys would’ve fallen to us in their respective draft classes, we would’ve taken one of them even though that was smack in Wilson’s prime. Of course, we’ll never know; it’s easy to plant those stories to make yourself look smart. It’s also easy to plant those stories when you want to drive down the price of your own franchise quarterback in times of contract extension. But, it’s a great What If. What if we traded Wilson back in 2017 and acquired a ton of draft picks at that time? What if we used those picks to select (or trade up for) one of Mahomes or Allen? Wouldn’t that be exciting?!

That’s where you get to the 00.1% chance of the Seahawks taking a quarterback at five. Because to do that, they would have to be SO SURE this guy is the next superstar in this league. Which is what makes all the Anthony Richardson hullabaloo at the combine over the weekend all the more intriguing. He blew the collective minds of everyone watching, with his freakish athleticism, with his interviewing skills, and with his leadership traits. He also apparently had a very positive interview with Pete Carroll (who, as we all remember, had that crazy interaction with D.K. Metcalf before we later took him at the end of the second round).

Would I be excited if the Seahawks took a quarterback at five? You’re damn right I would be! Because I love a surprise out of left field. Because I don’t really want to overpay for Geno Smith’s services. And because I would have to 100% buy in on this guy, since the organization is taking such a huge risk. With our philosophy largely undermining the quarterback spot throughout the years, this would be a HUGE step in the other direction.

Naturally, it depends on who we take at five. I’ll say this, there’s no “sure thing” in this draft. Bryce Young is undersized and slight of frame. Also, I don’t know how much I buy Alabama quarterbacks, after the underwhelming showing of both Mac Jones and Tua (Hurts goes pretty far in turning that tide for me, but he also transferred out of there, and had to find a way to succeed without the crutch of being on the best roster college football has to offer). C.J. Stroud has great accuracy, but lacks a willingness to scramble, and if I don’t trust Bama quarterbacks, I REALLY don’t trust Buckeye QBs. He also had the luxury of being on an elite roster of players, and it’s impossible to tell how someone will react to the real world of the NFL, where there’s significantly more parity.

Richardson is naturally on everyone’s minds – and might excite me more than the other two guys, if only for his potential upside – but he has serious accuracy problems. He also didn’t play much at college and might be a little too reliant on his legs for success at the next level. I know it feels nitpicky – one guy runs too much, the other not enough, what is this a 3 Bears situation? – but that’s the nature of the beast with drafting a quarterback, especially in the upper half of the first round. For every Andrew Luck or Peyton Manning, there are dozens of Blake Bortleses. You don’t often get those “sure things”. Most of the time, you get someone with flaws that you hope don’t usher him out of the league as a bust.

But, as I said, if the Seahawks take a quarterback at five, of course I’m going to be excited! What other choice do I have? That being said, if it’s not one of those three guys I just referenced, not only would it be a gargantuan shock, but it would be downright irresponsible. There’s just no one else worthy of that kind of attention.

When Seahawks fans speculate on the team taking a QB, it’s usually in the second or third round; MAYBE with the 20th overall pick (or trade down from 20 and take him later in the first). That feels a little more reasonable. It’s FAR less sexy, but it’s also probably the smarter play. Take a bigger project with less upside and hope to mold him over this season as he rides the pine behind Geno. But, can you imagine how much we’d lose our minds if we were one of those teams to take a quarterback in the top five?! What a thrill!

It’s Time For The Seahawks To Face Up To What Russell Wilson Can & Can’t Do

Russell Wilson is 32 years old. 2021 will be his tenth season in the NFL, following a full four years in college. As has been discussed previously – but hasn’t been made a big-enough deal of – he’s no longer a spring chicken. Yes, he can still run – he’s run for over 4,500 yards in his NFL career, including 513 in 2020 – but he can’t escape like he used to. It used to be pretty rare when a defensive lineman brought him down in the open field; now it’s happening regularly. He isn’t able to juke guys and get around them as much as before. It’s father time! He is, and always will be, undefeated.

It took a few years before the league came to terms with the fact that Russell Wilson is a quality pocket passer. We saw what he was capable of in the latter half of 2015, when he put it all together and shredded the league with his arm. That’s been the version of Russell Wilson we’ve been trying ever-since to recapture. Over the last half-decade, Wilson has been more of a pocket passer, and the results have been great. Yet, every year after his rookie season, he’s been sacked a MINIMUM of 40 times; he’s almost always at or near the top in all of football. That can’t continue. Not with his aging body and slowing legs.

It makes sense, though. While the Seahawks’ offensive line has been better the last few years, it has never TRULY been great (and some seasons, it’s been among the very worst in the game). And, to be honest, I don’t think the O-Line has EVER been particularly good at pass protection since Pete Carroll joined the organization; he likes to run the ball, he wants guys who can make that happen, to the detriment of our quarterback’s safety. We’ve been able to manage thanks to Wilson’s legs and his ability to make plays out of thin air. Yet, even at his most fleet-of-foot, he’s still been knocked on his ass more than just about anyone else over the life of his NFL career.

With Shane Waldron as our new offensive coordinator, the hope is that the Seahawks’ offense will look a lot more like the Rams’ offense. If it works out the way it should, this might be the smartest hire by Pete Carroll since he decided to hitch his wagon to John Schneider as General Manager.

The Rams specialize in lots of running and lots of play action passing. The Rams love to run a wide variety of plays out of similar-looking pre-snap sets, to better fool opposing defenses and keep them on their toes just a fraction of a second longer (that fraction is all the difference you need in the NFL).

The Rams also do what the Seahawks have been completely incapable of doing – except for that brief run in 2015 – get the ball out of their quarterback’s hands quickly. Jared Goff, for all his faults, has yet to be sacked more than 33 times in a season (and other than that one year, he’s never been sacked more than 25 times since he became a full-time starter). Imagine what the Seahawks could do if we were able to shed TWENTY sacks from Wilson’s body every year!

While the O-Line – and its construction by the people in charge – deserves its share of the blame, just as much should be placed on the scheme itself. Yes, Russell Wilson is one of the best deep-ball passers in the NFL. But, taking so many shots also comes with a lot more risk: holding the ball a lot longer, waiting for guys to get open. If those guys end up covered, that leaves Wilson trying to find other alternatives; it’s in that amount of time where the pocket usually collapses, leaving Wilson either running for his life, or cowering under the combined weight of multiple linemen closing in around him. If Wilson is forced to get the ball out quickly – by completing more short and intermediate crossing routes – then that’s less on his shoulders. Taking some of the decision-making off of his plate should be only to the team’s benefit. Wilson is always going to want to make the big highlight play; eliminating that as an option in favor of safer, less-sexy passing plays, should help us in that almighty metric of 3rd down conversion percentage.

And, while Wilson is slower, he’s not yet a total statue. Tom Brady has made a career out of quick passing, but he can’t run for shit unless it’s a quarterback sneak that only needs to get one yard! With Wilson’s legs – and the Rams’ style of offense that loves to feature designed quarterback roll-outs – the Seahawks should be able to take advantage of those plays far better than the Rams ever could with Goff; and, to his credit, Goff was good-enough on those types of plays as it was. These plays can still allow for Wilson to gain yards with his legs, but it should also drastically reduce the number of “playground” type plays where Wilson has to escape danger and throw long on the fly. These types of plays dried up CONSIDERABLY over the last half of the 2020 season, because of Wilson’s decline and the league catching up to what we’ve been doing all along. So, maybe it’s time to put those plays to rest in favor of something new.

I hope Waldron is able to fully implement the Rams’ style of offense, I hope the Seahawks have players who can adapt to it, and I hope everyone is able to buy in and let the new guy run the show (I’m looking at you, Meddling Pete Carroll). Word on the street is, Brian Schottenheimer either chose to keep, or was forced to keep, about 70% of Darrell Bevell’s playbook during the previous offensive coordinator change-over. That better not happen here. It’s time for the Seahawks to make wholesale changes. I don’t care how difficult it’s going to be with COVID-19 and the lack of in-person instruction. Make this new scheme easy to understand on paper, so when we finally can congregate together later in the summer, we’ll be off and running and ready to dominate in 2021.

The Seahawks Hired Shane Waldron To Be Their Offensive Coordinator

We briefly interrupt our Mariners 2021 pre-season coverage to bring you an announcement: the Seahawks did a thing!

The Brian Schottenheimer era was never dull, even if he himself was never all that exciting. I seem to remember being a bit higher on him as a hire than most Seahawks fans (there was A LOT of dread in the Pacific Northwest about him bringing this offense to new lows), as throughout his coordinating career he’d been saddled with mediocre-to-bad quarterbacks; until he met up with Russell Wilson, he’d never really had a chance to show what he could do. And what happened? In Schotty’s three years, he led three of the eight highest scoring offenses in franchise history; including two of the top three (including the number one overall in 2020).

But, obviously, things soured over the final half of this past season. I wonder if it’ll ever come out exactly what happened when he and the Seahawks parted ways. I still have a hunch that Pete Carroll gave him a My Way Or The Highway speech and Schotty took the highway on out of town. Considering Schottenheimer’s stock was as low as it gets when he was originally hired, I’d love to get a peek inside his head to see if this was some sort of power play gone awry; that either he was angling to be the Head Coach In Waiting here, or if he wanted more autonomy over the offense so he could move on to be promoted somewhere else.

Anyway, regardless, after a 12-4 division-winning season, the Seahawks were suddenly on the hunt for a new offensive coordinator. And there were rumors aplenty! Retreads and up-and-comers, and in-house candidates all across the football map. Whenever this happens, I try to stay out of the fire and look on from a distance; I don’t like doing a lot of research into candidates who aren’t likely to be hired for my team. So, I’ll admit, Shane Waldron – Passing Game Coordinator for the Los Angeles Rams since 2018 – wasn’t on my radar (then again, you could fill a book with the guys who weren’t on my radar).

What is a Passing Game Coordinator? Well, if you’re cynical like me and think it’s just a meaningless promotion in-name-only, you’re not far off! If you’re also cynical like me, it’s easy to be skeptical when we’re talking about hiring someone from the Rams. The Sean McVay Coaching Tree hasn’t exactly been full of ripe, blossoming fruit; it’s kind of been full of worms and tent caterpillars. McVay has been a hotshot ever since he went to L.A. He’s a brilliant offensive mind and his teams were pretty unstoppable for a while. Obviously, I think a lot of that has to do with him being the one calling the plays. On top of that, the Rams also have an offensive coordinator in Kevin O’Connell. That means, not only does their O.C. not call the plays, but we just hired the guy THIRD in command of that offense (who, again, also never called plays).

What we’re hoping for, I guess, is that some of the McVay Magic rubbed off on Waldron. I have my doubts about that, but we’ll see. It’s discouraging that he was already on staff coming into 2020 (as the passing game coordinator and quarterbacks coach) when they plucked O’Connell from the scrap heap (makes you wonder how much smoke McVay was blowing up his ass in that article). There’s a lot we don’t know about his role with the Rams, but I can’t imagine he had a ton of say about the direction of the offense when he had two guys ahead of him in the pecking order to answer to.

Where I’m encouraged is with the offense he could be bringing over from the Rams. We don’t know how he’ll be at calling plays; I’m sure that will be trial by fire and there will be a big learning curve for him to overcome. But, from a scheme standpoint, I could see things getting a lot more creative, based on what the Rams have been able to do the last few years (with, mind you, an inferior quarterback with no mobility whatsoever). The Rams run the style of offense I think a lot of Seahawks fans have been clamoring for. They still run the ball quite a bit – which I know is near and dear to Pete Carroll’s heart – but they also build off of that by running tons of Play Action, and that is quite frankly what the Seahawks do best, and what they haven’t done NEARLY enough, throughout the run of Russell Wilson’s career, and in particular in 2020. The Seahawks should be running Play Action more than ANY other team in the league! It should be an obnoxiously-high percentage of our passing plays!

What I also like about what the Rams have done is they make sure to have options at all levels of the passing game. It’s not just deep balls and check-downs; they have been able to scheme receivers open at the intermediate level to a degree you just don’t see outside of Kansas City and maybe a couple of other teams. It’s something that I thought Darrell Bevell didn’t get enough credit for during his time here (with Doug Baldwin being a big part of that, knowing where to get open in various zones), and it’s something that I thought has been sorely lacking since Schottenheimer was hired.

The point is – as always – it’s far too soon to know if this is a good or bad hire. We’ll find out. Sean McVay was just some relative nobody before he took the football world by storm. I will say this, I’d rather have second- and third-wave hires from the McVay Coaching Tree than some of those first-wave guys (many of whom have already gone on to failure). Shane Waldron has had a lot of time working under McVay, so if indeed there is any magic to rub onto him, it’s more likely it would have after four seasons than it would be after one.

What ultimately blows my mind is how people started to question whether or not this was a good opportunity for someone. There are only (I would assume) 32 offensive coordinator spots in the NFL. This isn’t an easy job to earn! It’s often a stepping stone to being a head coach; if that’s your ultimate goal, I would think being ANY team’s O.C. and primary play-caller is high on your list. So, that alone cuts through most of that argument. But, when you compare the Seahawks to the rest of the NFL, look at what you have: one of the longest-tenured head coaches and general managers (lots of stability and a culture of winning already established); one of the best quarterbacks in the game; a duo of receivers that rank among the best in the league today, with lots of complementary talent around them to help make this unit hum; and it was a Top 10 scoring team as recently as this past season! Who wouldn’t want to work with this group? How many better opportunities are out there, either available right this moment, or exist PERIOD? When you look at all the dysfunctional franchises in the league, when you hear reports of all these quarterbacks potentially changing teams, when you know of all the instability built into the NFL based on everyone’s high expectations of winning at all costs, it’s asinine to me why anyone would turn this job down.

If that ultimately boils down to Pete Carroll and his meddling ways, well … then maybe we have bigger problems here than I realized.

Seahawks Death Week: Pathetic Offense Is Fucking Pathetic

I don’t know why this should’ve been a surprise to anyone. The Seahawks’ offense has SUCKED for more than half a season! No one gives one single flying fuck that this team set a franchise record for points scored in a season; when you’ve done most of that against the very worst defenses, and look totally inept against anyone with a pulse, then you’ve done nothing impressive whatsoever.

I’m always baffled when I hear Brian Schottenheimer is up for various head coaching opportunities. Why?! Because he rode Russell Wilson’s coattails to a divisional title? Fat lot of good that did for us. What looked like an impressive offensive turnaround early this season proved to ultimately be a one-trick pony.

Turns out the Seahawks were great at moving the football and scoring points when no one expected them to throw very often. Then, when defenses made just the SLIGHTEST adjustment, we couldn’t figure out any way to counter, other than turn back into a pumpkin and return to a stagnant, do-nothing offense that runs the ball continually into a brick wall, while taking futile shots down field.

I don’t care how good the Rams’ defense is. We’ve faced great defenses in years past. Hell, we used to go up against a GENERATIONAL defense in practice for a bunch of years (during the L.O.B. era), and yet – with Darrell Bevell at the helm, mind you – we still managed to do SOMETHING on offense against these types of teams!

On Saturday, we did nothing. We managed to put up 13 points for most of the game, until a meaningless touchdown when we were down by 17 late in the fourth quarter. How the hell do you suck THIS HARD on offense with Russell Wilson, Tyler Lockett, D.K. Metcalf, and Chris Carson?!

HOW DO YOU NOT HAVE A FUCKING GAMEPLAN?!

Either make D.K. Metcalf a focal point and scheme ways to get him open and take shots down field on 50/50 balls, or fucking use all the other weapons at your disposal and make him a fucking decoy. But, this in-between shit where you try to spread the ball around is NOT FUCKING WORKING!

WHY DOES JACOB FUCKING HOLLISTER HAVE THE SECOND-MOST TARGETS ON THE TEAM?! Are you FUCKING kidding me?! You know how many catches and yards he had on his five targets? Try 0 for fucking 0. Meanwhile, Tyler Lockett – the guy we SHOULD have fucking targeted – had only 4 balls thrown his way. That guy catches everything that comes near him, and yet we’re treating him like he’s worse than a third string fucking tight end.

WHERE THE FUCK WAS GREG OLSEN?! Where’s this old fucking man who we just HAD TO HAVE to the tune of fucking $7 million? Not even a target. I mean, are we sure the front office knows what the fuck it’s doing? Seems to me you wouldn’t have to make so many panic trades for quality veterans if you stopped wasting your fucking money on over-the-hill has-beens.

And finally, WHAT THE FUCK with this offensive line?! Are they ALL 90 years old with bad knees?! This was supposed to be the game where we got back to basics and gave our quarterback a chance to make some plays. Brandon Shell had SO MANY WEEKS to get healthy! Yet, he looked like the worst fucking player on the field, getting beaten repeatedly. Ethan Pocic was a fucking DISASTER! Mike Iupati better fucking retire before he has to live the rest of his life in a fucking wheelchair, because he CANNOT stay on the field. And, if you’re hoping for too many more good years out of Duane Brown, I’d think again. I think he’s toast as soon as 2021, and if we don’t have a replacement lined up soon, we’re going to be in for a rude awakening the likes of which we haven’t seen since Walter Jones’ final season.

Arguably, the worst part of this game wasn’t the offense at all. As I said up top, that should’ve been expected with what we’ve seen over the last two-plus months. No, the worst part is my worst nightmares came to fruition. We couldn’t stop the Rams’ running game. Jarran Reed wasn’t healthy (and apparently mostly played on passing downs?), and we had no one who could slow down Cam Akers (28 carries, 131 yards and a TD). The Rams’ backup quarterback did, indeed, get the start, but was knocked out of the game after a vicious blow to the helmet on a designed run, which meant we had a benched Jared Goff and his busted hand for most of this one. And we STILL couldn’t stop their run! True to form, the Rams wanted nothing to do with Goff trying to win it for them, and somehow we obliged their ‘fraidy-cat offensive scheme by giving up huge chunks of yards on almost every run (Goff had 155 passing yards on 9/19 passing). It was completely absurd.

Yet, even with how miserable that was, if the offense could’ve done ANYTHING, we might’ve prevailed. Aaron Donald – the best football player alive – even had to exit the game early in the second half with a likely rib injury, and we STILL couldn’t stop their front four!

And, don’t even get me started on how bad Russell Wilson has been for most of this season. Shove that MVP trophy out of your mind, because you are NOT worthy. I don’t know why we don’t put more emphasis on check-downs, but against defenses like this – especially in the middle of the game, after you’ve already punted multiple times – you have to take what they give you! Look at, again, literally every game from the L.O.B. era! What did opposing teams do? They dinked and dunked! Why are we smashing our fucking faces against a brick wall trying to take nothing but deep shots down the field!

Russell Wilson: YOU ARE NOT PATRICK FUCKING MAHOMES!

THIS ISN’T THE KANSAS CITY CHIEFS OFFENSE! ANDY REID ISN’T WALKING THROUGH THAT FUCKING DOOR! STOP IT WITH THIS SHIT AND FIND AN OFFENSE THAT FUCKING WORKS!

I’m so fucking angry and revolted by this fucking franchise, that if you thought there was going to be any silver lining posts during Seahawks Death Week, think a-fucking-gain. The Seahawks are in fucking shambles. There are over-paid wastes of space on this team, there are some difficult cuts that NEED to be made, there are free agents we need to try to retain, and OH BY THE FUCKING WAY, the salary cap is going to be reduced considerably thanks to a fucking pandemic that the American government severely bungled.

So, you know, we have that to look forward to. If you thought 2021 was going to be better than 2020, you’re a fucking royal idiot. It’s only going to get worse and worse, every fucking year, until by the grace of fucking God we’ll all be fucking dead.

Fuck the Rams and fuck you too.

I’m Expecting Nothing From Josh Gordon On The Seahawks

I think we can all agree that this is a no-risk move for the Seahawks, in making a waiver claim on Josh Gordon. At least, no risk that’s obvious at this time. The mind can imagine just about anything happening that might be a POTENTIAL risk, but let’s live in the real world for a moment.

Feel free to peruse Gordon’s Wikipedia page if you want a refresher course on all his problems; I’m not really too interested in all of that. Drugs are apparently high on the list, as well as some mental health stuff? I dunno, I’m sticking to football on this one.

Josh Gordon in 2013 was the best wide receiver on the planet. There’s just no debate. In a 2-game stretch that year – with the likes of Brandon Weeden and Jason Campbell throwing to him – he caught 24 balls for 498 yards and 3 touchdowns, which I have to believe (without doing any research whatsoever) is the best 2-game performance by a receiver in NFL history. Just imagine if he’d had Tom Brady throwing to him; he probably would’ve broken the universe!

Then, the problems, starting with an abbreviated 2014. He was out of football for 2015-2016, then came back for another abbreviated season in 2017. In 2018, the Browns finally had enough and he was shipped to New England for real this time (and not just in our 2013 dreams), where he was fine. At times he sparkled like the Josh Gordon of old, but he’s also now LITERALLY old(ish, at 28, but who knows how many years he’s taken off of his career with his troubles?), and he also had to leave the NFL for a spell before returning earlier this season.

With a knee injury, and I’m sure just being tired of all the bullshit, the Patriots finally had enough. They traded for Mohamed Sanu and that was all they needed to release Gordon. He’s apparently passed the Seahawks’ physical over the weekend, and all signs point to him at least getting in the mix as early as this week.

My reservations for this move start with the fact that if the Patriots couldn’t make it work with Gordon, what makes anyone think it’s going to work in Seattle? He’s not the explosive mega-athlete he once was in Cleveland, so is he really an improvement over D.K. Metcalf, for instance? We KNOW he’s not better than Tyler Lockett, and if he’s also not going to take snaps from Metcalf, then that means we brought in a #3 receiver to take over for David Moore or Jaron Brown.

Fine. I’ll buy that.

I believe that Josh Gordon is better than David Moore and Jaron Brown. That’s wonderful. Even with the Seahawks needing to pass more this year (to keep up with their wretched defense), we’re still not the Chiefs or Texans or Bucs. We don’t usually throw THAT much. If we’re talking about a guy who’s getting targets/touches behind Carson, Lockett, and Metcalf; how many targets/touches are we talking about? 3-4 per game? How much of a difference could he possibly make?

We’re also talking about a roster that – not for nothing – currently sits 8 wide receivers deep make that 7 wide receivers deep, with the waiving of Greg Jennings yesterday, with only 2 true tight ends. I don’t think you’re bringing him in to be the next Will Dissly, because I don’t think he really blocks all that much. And he’s certainly not coming here to play special teams. So, unless we run into a spree of injuries at the position, again this seems like a needless move at a position of relative strength (wide receiver is always going to get a boost with a quarterback like Wilson, no matter who he’s throwing the ball to).

Who knows? Maybe I’m being overly negative. Maybe those 3-4 catches per game will make all the difference. Or maybe it won’t matter on a per-game basis, but maybe he makes a clutch catch here or there in crunch time. It doesn’t have to be Gordon coming in and catching 200 yards per game; his impact could be a lot smaller in scope, but no less important in our overall goal of making the Super Bowl.

What I do know is that this whole experiment is a ticking time bomb. I feel like the best case scenario is he plays for the Seahawks in 7 more regular season games, plus the playoffs, as a small contributor to a well-oiled machine of an offense. The worst case scenario is he never plays a down; the Seahawks try him out, he can’t pick up the playbook, he reinjures himself, or he needs another leave of absence to get his head straight. I don’t think he’ll be a Percy Harvin-level distraction where he’s punching out teammates. My hope is that he’s not a different type of Percy Harvin-esque distraction.

Maybe this was more due to Darrell Bevell not being a good enough play-caller, or there not being a consistent voice in the offensive scheme when he was paired with Tom Cable, but when the Seahawks had Harvin and later Jimmy Graham, they never could make the offense work. Either they spent too much time trying to force-feed the ball to one guy (Harvin), or they flat out refused to throw the ball to the other guy in the red zone (Graham). When the offense faltered, it was always because the Seahawks didn’t know how to properly incorporate their new superstar acquisitions.

Fortunately, in this case, I don’t believe Gordon is that level of superstar. He’s fine. As I said before, he’s a #3 on this team, and maybe with the low stakes and low expectations, he can thrive in such a scenario. Being just one of the guys, as opposed to the one everyone is counting on to make every single big play.

What I absolutely DON’T want to see is this hindering D.K. Metcalf’s progress. Metcalf is the future; Gordon is a half-year rental. Metcalf is coming off of his best game as a pro and needs to continue to get opportunities to thrive with our quarterback. Gordon needs to be content with taking over for David Moore, or otherwise chipping in on some sub-packages.

I generally prefer to be pleasantly surprised over getting my hopes up only to be let down later. I think this is the perfect time to keep my expectations as low as possible. I wish Josh Gordon all the luck in the world, as long as he helps the Seahawks win football games.

The Seahawks Haven’t Changed One Bit

When it’s all said and done, when Pete Carroll and John Schneider move on and Russell Wilson is retired or clinging to life with another franchise, it’ll be interesting to look back on this era of Seahawks football. We’re heading into the tenth season with the same regime – the eighth with Wilson at quarterback – and already it feels like forever in NFL terms.

So long, in fact, that it feels like there have been multiple phases within this one overarching Seahawks Cinematic Universe under Carroll & Schneider.

  • 2010-2012 – Building A Champion
  • 2013-2016 – Championship Contenders
  • 2017-Present – The Great Re-Build

But, in reality, we’re talking about one long, sustained period of greatness. Sure, in 2010 we were coming off of one of the worst years in franchise history, and that team (as well as 2011) only won 7 games. But, it was good enough for a division title and a playoff victory. Indeed, in the last nine years, the Seahawks have made the playoffs seven times and won the division three times (to go along with the two Super Bowl appearances and the one title). It’s actually pretty remarkable how quickly Schneider and Carroll were able to turn things around. The 2010 team was far from great, but it was leaps and bounds better than 2009; and while we failed to make the playoffs in 2011, I would argue that team was even better.

As this is a time of year, generally, where we focus on the draft that was, it’s interesting to take a look back at that as well. The 2010 draft was a real anomaly for this team. We had two high first round draft picks and actually used them on PLAYERS, as opposed to trading down and racking up a bunch of bites at the apple. While the year-to-year strategies have evolved, the overall vision for the team has never wavered: Build Through The Draft.

What’s the best way to build a championship contender? That’s the question we keep asking ourselves, to be answered in wordy, meandering thinkpieces such as this one you’re reading right now. There are lots of different answers, but they all harken back to the same thing: the draft. You gotta get lucky in the draft and hit upon a bunch of stars at a variety of positions (almost always including quarterback). Having a cheap, cost-controlled core, supplemented with a smattering of talented, expensive veterans, is generally the way to go.

You could argue that the Seahawks got away from that ethos a little bit from 2013-2016, with a number of questionable trades and free agent signings that we don’t need to rehash again here. But, I would argue that the ethos never changed, but our luck in the draft ultimately failed us.

You could also argue that the Seahawks have changed in what they prioritize. In the last couple years, as Bevell and Cable were fired after not being able to properly utilize the talent they were given (Bevell, in his use of Percy Harvin and Jimmy Graham) and not being able to formulate a competent offensive line on the cheap (Cable, with his struggles from 2015-2017), there’s been a clear shift in where the money has been spent. This is the NFL, so what do I always say? There’s only so much money to go around, and you can’t pay everyone. That was ultimately Seattle’s downfall following the 2014 season. But, what probably doesn’t get said enough about the NFL is that you have to constantly strive to get younger. This team was stacked with world-beaters from 2012-2014 and we looked like an unstoppable juggernaut; less than a decade later, maybe three guys remain? With the snap of a finger, this team got old, this team got injured, and this team desperately needed an infusion of young blood.

But, the strategy all along, starting in 2010, was to save money where you felt you were strongest, from a coaching and scouting perspective. In Tom Cable’s tenure here, that meant going cheap on the O-Line (relatively speaking). Sure, Max Unger got himself a second contract, and Russell Okung was making high first round draft pick money (pre-CBA, where the money was good and inflated), but around them the Seahawks filled in with young guys and castoffs from other teams. Converted defensive tackles, converted tight ends, and the like. As those talented (and expensive) linemen started to move on, the Seahawks tried doubling down on that strategy by going even younger, even cheaper, even more castoffy. Culminating in a 2017 team where the leading rusher was the quarterback and the team had only one touchdown by a designated running back. That followed a 2016 season where Wilson played injured throughout because that same O-Line couldn’t protect him for shit.

Of course, we justified that form of team building by pointing to all the other areas making money at the top of the market. Quarterback, cornerback, safety, linebacker, defensive line, even running back for a spell while Lynch was still here. Something had to give. We trusted Cable, and it turned out to be a mistake.

In learning from that mistake, Cable is gone, and now the Seahawks are paying significant money on the O-Line again. Duane Brown, for an aging veteran, is making a pretty penny. Justin Britt was among the top centers in the game from a salary perspective when he signed his second deal. Ifedi is a first rounder entering the final year of his rookie deal and looks like a contender for a big contract (elsewhere, most likely). Fluker got a nice bump in pay after a 2018 prove-it performance. And, more draft picks have been utilized on this group than any other during Schneider’s time here.

But, things haven’t necessarily gotten much better from a salary cap perspective. Russell Wilson is the top of the quarterback market. Bobby Wagner is looking to reclaim the top middle linebacker spot. There’s a smattering of highly paid guys here and there, except for one group that ranks among the cheapest in the league: the secondary.

This jives with the team’s M.O. all along. Instead of banking on a supposed guru of an O-Line coach, the team is relying on their ability to draft and coach up cornerbacks and safeties. I would argue the gambit is just as risky. Especially in a year where, as I noted yesterday, the pass rush isn’t really up to snuff.

Back when the team was cheaping out on the O-Line, I could defend the logic because our quarterback was one of the better runners in the league, and proved that his elusiveness was an asset as he’s one of the better passers outside the pocket. But, over time, Wilson has shown to be an even more lethal pocket passer, and so creating an actual POCKET became more important. Having him play through a number of injuries in 2016 was the final nail in the coffin, and when the line still struggled in 2017, something drastic needed to be done.

Now, with Wilson entering his 30’s, priorities change. It makes zero sense to cheap out on the O-Line because he’s only going to get slower and easier to tackle as he gets older. But, even if he was his younger, spry self, my thinking on this topic has evolved once again.

The three areas where I would argue you not only SHOULD go with younger, cheaper options, but it would be criminally negligent for you to spend significant dollars, are linebacker, running back, and tight end. Which is why I’m loathe to make Bobby Wagner the highest paid inside linebacker in football (the counter to my reservations is that he’s Bobby Fucking Wagner and he literally IS the best inside linebacker in football, and the drop-off from him to a younger guy would decimate this defense). After those three spots, I would argue the next place a team should go cheap is the secondary.

I know that’s sacrilege, what with the Legion of Boom’s popularity around these parts, but it’s true. And it makes sense, if you think about it, more than it does the O-Line. With the way the college game is going, fewer and fewer offensive linemen are coming straight to the league and being productive starters right away. Those guys need to be coached up (as you’ve seen from the litany of ex-Seahawks who’ve gotten paid elsewhere, from Carpenter to Sweezy to Glowinski to soon-to-be Ifedi). With apologies to the L.O.B., however, with the secondary you need better athletes and a quality scheme. Offensive linemen tend to age like a fine wine; cornerbacks and safeties tend to start losing a step as they approach their Age 30 seasons. By the time they get to their second and third contracts, they’re already not really worth it. Unless they’re bona fide Hall of Famers like Earl Thomas and Richard Sherman. But, those guys don’t grow on trees.

My point is, I’d rather have a reliable offensive line and a huge question mark in the secondary, than the other way around. Now, ideally, you’d find a way to mask your team’s weakness (by, for instance, getting after the opposing team’s quarterback on a regular basis), but if there’ one area on the Seahawks I’d put my money on it improving dramatically from year to year, it would be with the secondary. Because of that track record with drafting and coaching guys up.

The secondary is young, it’s hungry, and maybe most importantly, it’s healthy. Flowers and Griffin look like solid starters. McDougald has already proven himself capable at either safety spot. Thompson and Hill are in their third years (second seasons as regular players on defense) and the team brought in a couple more defensive backs in this last draft to battle for jobs. It’s not out of the question for this weakness to actually be a strength when it’s all said and done.

Of course, even top notch secondaries can get burned by a lack of a pass rush.

The Seahawks Just Can’t Beat The Chargers … Or Can They?

The Seahawks are 4-1 in their last 5 games, and with every passing week, they impress me more and more.  Heading into this year, my opinion of this team was as low as it can get.  So low, in fact, that they weren’t even BAD enough for me!  An 8-8 season is a million times worse than a completely winless season, because not only do you miss out on the playoffs, but you also have a crappy draft slot.  Starting 0-2 did nothing to dissuade me; it just reinforced my toxic beliefs.

Then, we beat the Cowboys in our home opener.  Okay, fine, but who are they?  The Cowboys are just as mediocre!

Then, we went on the road and barely beat the Cardinals, who were giving their rookie quarterback his first start.  A win is a win is a win and all, but we made Josh Rosen look like the second coming of, I dunno, Andy Dalton!  He’s since proven that he’s pretty dreadful (so far, in his very young NFL career at least), so our victory doesn’t look any more impressive.

Following our return to .500, we played the Rams super tough at home.  Now THAT was an eye-opening performance!  That loss was probably the best game we played all year.

Finally, we went to London, killed the Raiders, had our BYE, and followed that up with a dominating performance on the road in Detroit.  That’s three consecutive great games by the Seahawks, who have taken their new rushing-focused identity and (ahem) run with it.

All the comparisons to the 2012 season are absolutely justified.  The difference here is that our quarterback is no longer a rookie; he’s one of the best in the league (by the same token, our defense isn’t exactly riddled with future hall of famers like it was back then, but that’s neither here nor there).

It seems like every week, the challenge gets ramped up just a little bit more.  Playing the Rams tough is one thing.  Going all the way to London and crushing it is another step in our progression.  And, earning a comfortable road victory against a playoff hopeful like the Lions is even better.  Now, we’ve got the Chargers, who are just a little bit better than the Lions, before attempting to tackle yet another even-tougher task next week against the Rams (this time down in L.A.).

In recent years, if you told me to pick one team that the Seahawks absolutely can’t beat, I would’ve told you it’s the Chargers.  I don’t totally understand where this thought process came from, because now that I actually look back on this rivalry, there isn’t a ton of evidence to support this belief.

These two teams have played one another exactly once in the regular season in the Russell Wilson era.  That was in week 2 of the 2014 season.  We were at the height of our powers (maybe that’s part of it), the game was down in San Diego (in 100+ degree weather), and we lost 30-21.  Aside from our playoff defeats, that one stands out above everything else as a real eye-opener for me.  Knowing what we know now, the 2014 Seahawks went back to the Super Bowl and were oh-so-close to repeating as NFL champs.  We were smack dab in the middle of our would-be Dynasty run … and we absolutely got clobbered.

Russell Wilson was okay; he didn’t turn the ball over and he threw a couple touchdowns.  The running game was abandoned early and often, which was the usual Darrell Bevell M.O. in our post-title years.  We were pretty bad – but not totally inept – with a 3/9 conversion rate on 3rd/4th downs.  It was just one of those games that the Chargers controlled, and no matter what we did on defense, we couldn’t adjust to make the critical stops.  They were 10/17 on third down, and held the ball for over 42 minutes in the T.O.P. battle.  Rivers was 28/37 with 284 yards and 3 TDs (all to Antonio Gates, who absolutely shredded us all game); and in spite of 3 Chargers fumbles, none of them were recovered by the Seahawks.  It became – in my mind, at least – The Blueprint for how to beat the Seahawks at our very best:  dink and dunk, convert 3rd downs, score touchdowns, take care of the football, and put it away late before Russell Wilson has a chance to work his magic.

Remember, this was in a period where the Seahawks NEVER lost by more than 1 score.  So, a 9-point defeat really stands out!  But, it’s just one game.  Why have I built this team up so big in my mind?

On top of that one regular season game, there have been 5 pre-season games between the Seahawks and Chargers in the Russell Wilson era.  Obviously, Philip Rivers doesn’t play a lot in these games, so wins and losses don’t really matter.  Let’s take a quick look at how the Chargers fared with Rivers in the game in those meaningless contests:

  • 2013 – 1 drive, 13 plays, 74 yards, 7:25, field goal
  • 2014 – 1 drive, 9 plays, 37 yards, 4:51, punt
  • 2015 – 1 half (5 drives), 3 punts, 2 field goals
  • 2017 – 1 drive, 13 plays, 75 yards, 7:15, TD pass
  • 2018 – 2 drives, 1 punt, 1 TD run

So, we’ve got the regular season defeat, a few bend-don’t-break performances, and a couple drives the last two years that resulted in touchdowns.  I get that they’re able to put out some extended-play drives on us, but for the most part we’ve held our own in the pre-season.  Without knowing how the rest of those games would’ve gone with Rivers in there full time, we’ll never know the true outcomes.

In other words, I’ve made the Chargers out to be the Boogeyman when really they’re just a tree brushing up against my window on a dark and stormy night.

I did this last week, so let’s run it back:  what have the 2018 Chargers done that makes them so great?

They beat a bevy of bad teams, including the Bills, 49ers, Raiders, Browns, and Titans.  They lost at home to the Chiefs and across town to the Rams.  They’re 5-2, but it’s not exactly a murderer’s row of talent.  Their best win is probably the Titans (who have a solid defense, but not a whole lot going on on offense).  If they won in Seattle, it would be far-and-away their greatest feat to date.

I still think Rivers poses a unique and difficult matchup for our defense, but I don’t think he’s totally unstoppable.  They absolutely have the talent on offense to do what they did to us in 2014, but at the same time, it’s not like our defense is going to be demoralized by 100+ degree heat.  And, with them missing some starters on defense, I don’t see why the Seahawks should be held in check from doing what we want to do on offense.

A buddy and I were talking about this upcoming 4-game stretch the Seahawks are facing.  In looking at our remaining schedule, you figure the Seahawks should be 3-0 against the 49ers and Cards the rest of the way.  That gets us to 7 wins; we would just need to wrangle 3 more to get to 10 and a likely wild card berth.  My friend thinks we’ll lose our next 4 (or, at the very least, he can’t envision picking the Seahawks to win any of those games).  I think we’ve at least got 1-3 in us, with our most likely chance for a win coming up this week.  To wit:

  • vs. Chargers
  • @ Rams
  • vs. Packers
  • @ Panthers

The more I think about those road games, the more impossible they look on paper.  And I know I’m never confident in a game where A-Rod is going against us.  That leaves the Chargers.  The over-rated, mistake-prone Chargers.

Coming into today, I had an X marked next to the Chargers for this one.  But, I’m changing my tune.  I think the Seahawks keep doing what they’ve been doing, and they prevail in the end.  The 12’s are hungry for more winning, and I think our presence will be felt in this one, as the train keeps on a-rollin’.

The Seahawks Made The Most Of A Disaster Of A Football Weekend

My Sunday hangover was both literal and figurative.  It was hard to really get up for this game after what happened in the Husky game on Saturday.  There’s no “making up for” a loss to the Ducks (I’ll have more on this tomorrow).  So, I sat there, and I watched the whole dominating Seahawks affair, but at no point was I enjoying myself.  The wound was still too fresh.  Indeed, we’re going on 48 hours after the fact and I still can’t bring myself to dwell on it too much.

The Seahawks beat the hapless Raiders 27-3, and everything is blue in this world.

What I’m Geeked Out Still Numb About After Six Games

The obvious answer is to talk about the offensive line and the running game for the third consecutive week, but I’m gonna zag on this one.  The defense REALLY opened up some eyes here.  Last week’s overall performance against the Rams was pretty inspired, but the defense still gave up 33 points.  Without Earl Thomas, there’s more questions than answers with this secondary, and I wondered – heading into this one – if we’d continue to get scorched in the passing game.

But, this was as dominating a defensive performance as it gets, from soup to nuts!  Derek Carr averaged a measly 4.6 yards per attempt, as he looked to be consistently checking down to his running backs, or whoever was within 5 yards of the line of scrimmage.  I know we all love clowning on the Raiders under Jon Gruden, but their passing game – and really, their offense in general – has been pretty solid after their week 1 loss to the Rams.  Beastmode looks as strong as ever, and while he’s not getting the MOST out of Carr, he’s certainly getting more out of him than Jack Del Rio did in the last couple seasons.  But, in this one, the Seahawks had the gameplan to put their offense to sleep.

And hey!  What’s that I see?  Could it be?  A pass rush?!?!

You know it!  6 sacks!  2.5 from Frank Clark, who was a boss all day.  Jarran Reed had 1, as did Branden Jackson and Shamar Stephen (Quinton Jefferson had the 0.5, but also had 2 more tackles for loss on the day).  Now, I should point out that Tom Cable is the Raiders’ offensive line coach, so obviously theirs is one of the most inept units in the league (probably).  But, with this Seahawks pass rush unit, you’ll take what you can get.

The crown jewel of the whole thing was holding Beastmode himself to 45 yards on 13 carries.  And, as usual, most of those yards were after contact, as he just wills himself to fall forward on these go-nowhere rushes.  That guy is a living legend.

Other Things That Caught My Eye (In A Good Way) (But What Does It Matter Anyway?)

Let’s get back to the running game.  All in, we had 37 carries for 155 yards.  Carson led the way with 59, Penny got into the mix with 43, and Davis did his part with 21.  It’s good to see all those guys participate, as I still believe they’re all going to be vital in making the most out of this season.

Russell Wilson had another fantastic game.  He ran for 20 of those yards, looking to run more than he has in any other game this season.  He did most of his damage through the air though, going 17/23 for 222, with 3 TDs and 1 ill-advised INT into triple coverage.  It was sterling nonetheless.

Doug Baldwin got going, with 6 for 91.  David Moore continued to impress, with 2 for 47 and a TD.  Lockett caught another TD, as did Jaron Brown.  This is a formidable WR unit, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise!

Also, how about a nice word for the coaching staff?  They found an identity for this team and they’re sticking with it!  It’s working, after all, so it seems obvious, but how many times did we used to complain about Darrell Bevell out-thinking himself?  All too frequently going away from what was working in hopes of trying to outsmart the other team.  Sometimes, it’s better to just batter the other team into submission, thereby opening things up later in the game to do whatever you want.

I mean, the Seahawks REALLY looked like the more prepared team, from the opening gun.  We had a 14-play, 82 yard TD drive to start the game (the first time in 2 years since we scored a touchdown on our opening drive?) that took up half of the whole first quarter!  Then, as a proper bookend, after the Raiders kicked a meaningless field goal to pull the game to its final score, the Seahawks got the ball back with 8:25 left to go, and ran out ALL of the clock in 13 plays!  We were 9/13 on the day on 3rd down; we had 19 overall first downs.  Just a great, great day all around.

Let’s Talk About Competitions The Black Void Of Nothingness Because The Huskies Lost

Obviously, when you talk about holding a good passing game to next-to-nothing, you’re getting quality play out of your secondary.  I don’t have access to the All-22 tape, but I have to believe we saw a much better game out of Tedric Thompson as he continues to step up in Earl’s absence.  With nothing deep down field looking even enticing enough to ATTEMPT, I think that’s a great sign.

I saw Jacob Martin get a lot of play at defensive end, and he looked pretty disruptive.  Another great sign out of a young player we’re going to need to step up if we want to find a consistent pass rush in the second half of this season.

Finally, I’ll just say that I’m glad Tre Flowers was just cramping up, because for a while there I was worried we had another season-ending knee injury on our hands.

Other Things That Caught My Eye (In A Bad Way) (Because Fuck My Life)

Hard to complain, honestly, when we’re talking about a 27-3 demolition.  We continue to get absolutely nothing out of C.J. Prosise and Dion Jordan, who were both inactive.  Also, I guess Naz Jones mysteriously lost the will to play competitive football?  What happened to THAT guy?  He was supposed to be one of our up-and-comers!

Looking ahead, we have a BYE week, before our our 5th road game out of 7 (though, to be fair, London was more of a home-style crowd than we had any right to expect, which is nice).