How Good Could The Seahawks Be (Quarterback Aside)?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Seahawks Drafted More Non-Quarterbacks On Day Three

The next few years of Seahawks football are going to be greatly dictated by how well these players pan out. Whether anyone wants to admit it or not, the Seahawks are in Rebuilding Mode. Now, this isn’t your grandfather’s Rebuilding Mode; it shouldn’t have to take a decade to get back to the promised land if you do things right. But, by foresaking the quarterback position in this draft – leaving us with Geno Smith, Drew Lock, and We’ll See – my expert analysis is that the Seahawks are planning on finding their quarterback of the future in the 2023 NFL Draft.

As they should.

So, what does that mean for 2022? Well, that means building up the roster around the quarterback position. Constructing this warm and fuzzy protective cocoon, where a rookie QB in 2023 can step right in and at least give us competence. How many careers have been derailed because a rookie quarterback’s confidence was destroyed by a terrible offensive line, or a lack of weapons to get the football to? Sometimes, if your team is truly terrible, you have no choice but to take that quarterback (usually #1 overall) and hope for the best. But, I’d rather do what I suspect the Seahawks are doing now, and hold off for a year until a better opportunity presents itself.

In the process of building up the roster around the quarterback position, that means returning to the mantra of Always Compete. Letting anyone and everyone participate in fighting for starting jobs. Coaching them up, throwing them out there in live NFL games, and seeing who rises to the top and who needs to be cut. The Seahawks have drafted a class for this express purpose. The more starters we find, the better the team will be going forward. The more blue chip superstars we find, the likelier it’ll be that we can return to a championship level.

I’m pretty confident we’ve got our Day 1 starting left tackle in Cross. I’m guessing he’ll be fine. I’m also pretty confident – with Abe Lucas at least as competition for the spot – we’ve locked down our right tackle position, either with him or Jake Curhan. I’m guessing they’ll also be fine. Walker will likely back up Rashaad Penny at first, but I think at some point he’ll take over and at least be a quality rotational running back, if not an outright stud. And, I think the floor for Boye Mafe is Alton Robinson. I hope he’s significantly BETTER than Alton Robinson, but he’ll at least be NFL-ready to step in there and contribute in some capacity.

There’s a floor there with all of the picks from the first two days of the draft where they’re at least contributing to the team. There’s also, of course, a ceiling that could be off the charts, depending on how they fit within our system and how the coaching staff gets them to improve.

But, it’s the Day 3 picks where we could see some dividends. How did we build up that last Seahawks championship squad? Lots of success in the 4th-7th rounds. I’ll go in order, for those who forgot: Walter Thurmond, Kam Chancellor, Anthony McCoy, K.J. Wright, Richard Sherman, Byron Maxwell, Malcolm Smith, Robert Turbin, Jeremy Lane, J.R. Sweezy, Luke Willson. To say nothing of the undrafted guys we selected from 2010-2013 who contributed greatly to what we were doing.

It’s handy that the Seahawks took cornerbacks back-to-back in this draft, because I’d like to talk about them together. Bryant won the Jim Thorpe Award in 2021 for the best defensive back in football. He played at Cincinnati opposite Sauce Gardner, which means that teams probably avoided Gardner’s side like the plague, and therefore Bryant had ample opportunities to defend the pass. Why he fell to the fourth round, then, is a mystery.

Bryant is certainly the more polished cornerback between him and Woolen. He seems to be a higher floor/lower ceiling type of player. It wouldn’t shock me to see him contribute right away, but I fully expect him to see considerable snaps as the season progresses. Woolen, on the other hand, looks like a fascinating prospect whose floor could be as a training camp cut, but whose ceiling could be as an All Pro.

6’4, 4.26 40-yard dash, 42-inch vertical. This guys looks like an athletic freak. He’s also, notably, a former wide receiver who converted to corner just a few years ago. His skills are raw and there are liabilities in his game as it currently stands that may prevent him from ever making a dent in the league. That being said, if he works at it, and the team is able to unlock his potential – with the athleticism he already possesses – he could be an absolute monster. There’s a lot to clean up, though, so I wouldn’t bank on it.

If the Seahawks just drafted bookend starters at cornerback to go with bookend starters at offensive tackle, I’d say we’re in good shape for the next half-decade or so. If the Seahawks just found one eventual starting cornerback in this class, I’d say they did their job well. If neither of these guys pan out, then I think we have a serious problem. Because, either we brought in the next Tre Flowers – who we’re forced to start because we have no better alternatives – or we have to go back to the drawing board next year (with Sidney Jones on a 1-year deal, and with Tre Brown still a big question mark).

Just as I’m not holding my breath for Boye Mafe in the second round, I’m not convinced Tyreke Smith will be much of anything either. I know elite pass rushers exist from outside the Top 5 of the NFL Draft, but it seems like those guys are total unicorns. Even with someone like Darrell Taylor – who I’m very happy with – he had to miss a year due to injury, and even then wasn’t, like, a Pro Bowler or anything in 2021. He was fine. He showed potential to be even better, but we’ll see if that comes to fruition.

I would project both Mafe and Smith as third down pass rushing specialists, especially as rookies. I wouldn’t expect either to be very good against the run, though Mafe at least has a better track record in that regard. Smith seems like a blind dart throw. Alton Robinson is probably his ceiling, but his floor is probably a special teamer who rarely – if ever – sees a snap on defense.

I don’t know what to say about Bo Melton or Dareke Young, the 7th round receivers we brought in. Melton seems to have a slot receiver build, but I don’t even know if that’s his forte or not. Young is a much taller receiver from a small school who probably projects more as special teams help. Of the two, Melton probably has the better chance of seeing offensive snaps, but let’s not kid ourselves here. We have quite the depth chart going so far, with Lockett, Metcalf, Swain, and Eskridge/Hart all having experience.

If anything, I wonder what this says about Eskridge’s status. He didn’t show a lot as a rookie last year, though a concussion saw to it that he wasn’t able to play a ton. Nevertheless, when he was in there, he didn’t make much of an impact. I don’t know if Melton plays a similar style or not (word is Young actually has played all around the offense in college, even taking handoffs on the regular, like a taller version of Deebo Samuel), but it’ll be interesting to see the pressure on Eskridge and how he responds.

That being said, probably don’t count on these rookie receivers to do much of anything AS rookies. Just take it as a win if they even make the team.

The 2022 draft class by the Seahawks will be defined by the top six guys we selected. The better those players are, the better our chances will be to turn this thing around in a hurry. If they struggle, though, it could be a long, dark period in our immediate future.

The Seahawks Drafted Some Non-Quarterbacks On Day Two

It’s really only noteworthy given the fact that by the time the Seahawks picked in the third round, all quarterbacks aside from Kenny Pickett were still available. So, the Seahawks passed over a bunch of mediocre dudes repeatedly through this draft, allowing me to breathe a HUGE sigh of relief.

Is it weird to feel such good vibes about this draft? I’m not saying it’s universally beloved or anything. Some people really wanted us to get Malik Willis. A lot of people REALLY hate the idea of using any draft capital above the fourth round on a running back. I’m sure if you really drill down, you’ll find people complaining about so-and-so being available at a particular spot that we passed over.

But, I gotta tell ya, based solely on who the Seahawks have added the last two days? You’d think we’re absolutely KILLING it!

Which I can’t help but take as a bad sign. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s because we’re not allowed to have nice things.

The more tidbits that roll in, the more I’m coming around on Cross. Some have even said he was the second LT on the board for the Seahawks, which might just be something the team wants leaked out there to boost their guy, but regardless it’s positive vibes out into the universe that I like at this point (having no idea how they look in minicamps and whatnot). But, as I noted yesterday, there’s nothing wrong with his athleticism; he has everything he needs to be a viable starter in this league. The team just needs to help him unlock it.

That goes for the guys we drafted last night as well. Athleticism seems to be a key theme, which I absolutely adore. We’re not just bringing in High Floor guys who we can plug in as depth; these are players with lots of room for growth, and lots of potential to be starters and even stars.

Now, the risk – as always – is that they just don’t have it. You can have all the athleticism in the world, but if you don’t have the skills or the want-to, then it won’t happen. Or, arguably worse: it happens, but not during the tenure of your rookie deal. The point of this whole thing – stripping down to the studs (so to speak) of the quarterback position, building up the roster elsewhere, and then nailing our QB of the future in next year’s draft – is to get guys who can help immediately. Guys who can legitimately get their feet wet as rookies, only to step into major starting roles in year two and beyond. This doesn’t work if it takes four years to coach these guys up.

If I’m worried about that for anyone among yesterday’s picks, it’s Boye Mafe, our edge player out of Minnesota. A LOT of Cliff Avril comps, which yeah, that’d be great! But, odds are … probably not. The broadcast seemed to believe he was a one-note type of rusher (I’m not even sure what that note was, I guess speed-rush around the edge?), hence why he fell to the second round. But, there have been lots of love on Twitter since he was drafted, which leads me to believe we might’ve gotten someone special to pair opposite of Darrell Taylor. The more the merrier, when it comes to quality pass rushers. I just hope we use him properly, and don’t spend most of our time dropping him into coverage (it didn’t sound like he had a lot of experience with that, nor was he very good at it).

The upside is a starting defensive end getting 10 sacks a year. The downside is probably a poor man’s Benson Mayowa.

If there was a Most Seahawky Pick heading into this draft, it was Kenneth Walker III, the running back out of Michigan State. Highly productive in college, speedy but also tough, breaks lots of tackles and gets lots of yards after initial contact, and obviously he’s also a running back. Not only a position of need (when you have to believe Chris Carson’s career is over, with that significant neck injury), but a position the Seahawks love to covet and value over most of the rest of the league.

There’s no doubt about it, though: the Seahawks do NOT have a great track record in drafting running backs. Easily our biggest “hit” was Chris Carson in the 7th round, but he’s spent every year in various states of injured. Our other good choices were guys who ended up being blocked and having better careers elsewhere (Alex Collins and Spencer Ware). Otherwise, we’ve only managed to find competent backups (Robert Turbin, Travis Homer, DeeJay Dallas), or out-and-out busts (Rashaad Penny until the last five-or-so weeks of last year, C.J. Prosise, Zac Brooks, Christine Michael).

How are the Seahawks at drafting running backs?

But, that doesn’t mean you stop trying. And, while I’m pretty adamantly against picking a running back anywhere in the first round – the Penny debacle saw to that – I think it’s okay when you have a need at the position, and you have multiple second round picks to play around with.

Great running backs are taken in the second round all the damn time! That’s generally where we’ve found our very best NFL running backs in recent years. Also, not for nothing, but I like seeing the Seahawks take the second running back off the board, as opposed to the first. There’s a lot of pressure on that first guy! Admittedly, I’ve been on the Breece Hall bandwagon ever since I read an article saying he was projected to be a great fantasy back. But, I have no qualms about the Seahawks taking Walker whatsoever. I feel like the only thing that could slow him down is injuries, but we couldn’t possibly have that bug hit us yet again, could we?!

I will say that I heard his pass protection isn’t great, nor are his hands catching footballs out of the backfield. The blocking thing can be taught; a lot of that is just effort and desire. But, the hands might be concerning, especially if the Seahawks do introduce more of the short passing game into the offense. We’ll see!

The upside is eventually taking the job from Rashaad Penny and being a 1,000 yard back for the next however many years. The downside is probably a rich man’s Christine Michael.

I know he’s listed as Abraham, but I prefer bringing him into my blog as Abe Lucas. Legit right tackle prospect (not a guy who played right tackle, but really projects to be a guard in the NFL, like so many we’ve brought in here before) out of Washington State, he looks like another athletic darling with immediate starting potential.

I’ll admit, I didn’t see the Seahawks going after two offensive tackles in this draft, especially not in the first three rounds. I gotta be honest, I was hoping to be the Smartest Guy In The Room here with my take that Jake Curhan would be our right tackle going forward. There’s still that chance, of course. Curhan has a year’s experience under his belt – including starts in real, live NFL games – but there’s a big difference between an undrafted prospect and a guy taken in the upper third round.

But, you know, the Seahawks will certainly play the best man for the job. If Curhan shows he’s got what it takes – and Lucas looks like a problematic rookie who might get beat – they’re not going to cater to a guy’s draft status. The thing I like is that we’re going young and we’re going home-grown at the position. Brandon Shell, and all the other retreads we brought in here during the majority of Russell Wilson’s tenure, were far from inspiring. When Breno Giacomini was easily the best RT we’ve had since the Mike Holmgren days, you know you’ve been floundering.

Also, not for nothing, but I was perfectly happy with what Curhan brought to the table last year. So, if that’s our floor, sign me up!

There is a tremendous amount of love for the Lucas pick though, which heartens me. Obviously, he comes from another Mike Leach-inspired offense full of non-stop passing, but there seems to be fewer questions about Lucas’ ability to run block. Again, when it comes to tackles – and really, the O-Line as a whole – I’ll gladly take guys with pass protection chops (who need to work on their run blocking skills) vs. the other way around.

The upside is the best right tackle we’ve ever had. The downside is Stone Forsythe.

Even though it’s not sexy, there’s a lot to like about this Seahawks draft so far. I would argue our drafts have been on a bit of an upswing in recent years, but this has the potential to be the best of the bunch. Not surprisingly, that’s what can happen when you’re a quality organization who FINALLY gets an opportunity to draft near the top of every round!

What If The Seahawks Got Baker Mayfield?

All right, calm down people. I’m not sitting here advocating for the Seahawks to acquire Baker Mayfield, in case that’s the conclusion you jumped to. GET OFF MY ASS! We’re just talking things through here.

The situation is this: the Browns traded for Deshaun Watson, and gave him a batshit crazy all-guaranteed contract. Somehow, Watson allegedly sexually harassed (if not outright sexually abused) dozens of women, and yet he held all the cards when it came to his future? How does this work? Browns gonna Browns, of course, but it would seem multiple teams were prepared to go to this great length – burning down the league’s leverage in the quarterback contract market for all future superstars – so I guess I would just point to the insanity of the NFL owners themselves. They’ll cater to an alleged abuser, but they won’t even give a tryout to a guy in Colin Kaepernick fighting for social justice. Okay.

Anyway, the Browns have Watson, they also just signed Jacoby Brissett to be his backup, and all the while there’s Baker Mayfield in the final year of his rookie deal, making around $18 million. Not an outrageous sum of money for a viable starting quarterback, but the question remains: IS Baker Mayfield a viable starting quarterback? One that can lead a team to a championship?

It’s obvious to anyone with half a brain that the Browns have shit the bed in this one particular scenario: they want out from under Mayfield’s guaranteed money. Unfortunately, most of the big ticket quarterback moves have already been made. Aaron Rodgers is staying with Green Bay. Russell Wilson is now with the Broncos. The aforementioned Watson is with the Browns. Matt Ryan went to the Colts. Carson Wentz … went to the Commanders. Tom Brady is back with the Bucs. The Vikings are committed to Cousins, the Dolphins are committed to Tua, the Saints look to be committed to Jameis, the Jets are (apparently) committed to Zach Wilson, the Giants are (bafflingly) committed to Danny Dimes. Of the quarterbacks who are reported to be available in trades, Jimmy G should head that list, and so far there haven’t been any takers. So, where’s Baker’s market, exactly?

If the Browns cut Baker, they’re on the hook for his entire salary. But, they obviously can’t keep him around through training camp, because he almost certainly won’t be there, as he’s now demanded a change of scenery.

If I’m the rest of the NFL, and I had the slightest inkling in bringing in Baker, I’d play hardball and force the Browns to cut him. Then, swoop in with a lowball, incentive-laden offer to take him on as a 1-year flier.

No fanbase is excited about Baker Mayfield, though. It’s undeniable that he had a bad season in 2021, so there’s that taste in everyone’s mouths. He did have the torn labrum in his non-throwing shoulder, though, which undoubtedly affected his on-field play. He’s also, not for nothing, irritatingly over-exposed in TV commercials (based on his personality, I guess, because it’s not a reflection of his performance in actual professional football games). Even before his 2021 injury-plagued season, it’s not like Baker Mayfield was the epitome of an elite franchise quarterback. Odell Beckham’s dad more or less saw to making that clear to everyone with a Twitter feed.

He’s not particularly tall, he’s not particularly athletic, his arm isn’t particularly strong …

Funny Office Space quotes are funny …

And that’s where we are now. I still think the Steelers are the most logical destination for him, because he feels like a Steelers-type quarterback. Plus, he’d get two chances a year to stick it to the Browns, which I’m sure he’d love to do.

But, the Seahawks keep coming up in the rumor mill, and I have some free time this morning, so let’s get into it.

I’m just putting this back out into the universe for anyone who wants to read it: my number one preference for the Seahawks is to tank in 2022. That means, likely, giving Drew Lock as many reps as he can handle and watching him crash and burn spectacularly. That does NOT mean bringing in a middling veteran to annoyingly steal wins we don’t need. Draft a great pass rusher in the first round this year (or an elite left tackle, if one is still available), draft a couple of quality starters in the second round, and wait to draft a quarterback until 2023.

I have no number two preference. All other options for the Seahawks are going to be met with disdain. That includes Baker Mayfield.

If we MUST bring him in, then I would rather we wait for the Browns to cut him, and sign him to that aforementioned lowball, incentive-laden offer. I’ll admit, if that comes to fruition, I’d be intrigued.

I’m curious about what a healthy Baker Mayfield can accomplish, who is savagely pissed off at the world and hyper-motivated to rehabilitate his image. Don’t forget, it wasn’t that long ago when the Browns were lauded for taking him above the rest of his 2018 draft class. Of course, now we know Josh Allen was the true prize, but at first there were lots of questions about Allen’s accuracy and whatnot.

Ryan Tannehill is a name that gets bandied about. As a former Top 10 draft pick who flamed out with his original team, he became a … pretty good quarterback when he was inserted onto the right team. He doesn’t have to do too much, so long as Derrick Henry is healthy, but when he’s asked to step up, he tends to make plays more often than not. Now, EVERY team thinks they can rehab their own guys (to wit: the Giants with Danny Dimes), and it’s becoming sort of a disturbing trend. Most of these quarterbacks flame out for a reason, so giving them opportunity after opportunity is only going to prolong the mediocrity that’s so prevalent at the position.

But, if anyone can be “the next Ryan Tannehill”, I could see it being Baker.

Now, I’m not saying Tannehill is some great shakes, but he’s fine. Could Baker also be fine? Sure, why not?

The thing is, I don’t HATE the rest of the Seahawks’ roster. Assuming, of course, that they don’t trade away D.K. Metcalf. You know. If they do that, then the rebuild is almost certainly going into overdrive. But, with D.K., we’ve got two elite receivers, two stud tight ends, one potentially elite running back (with the high likelihood we draft another), and a pretty solid offensive line (whenever we figure out the left tackle spot).

I also don’t HATE the defense. We’ve got a new coaching staff and a tweaked scheme. Our interior linemen look good, we signed a promising pass rusher away from the Chargers, we’re moving on from Bobby and getting younger at linebacker, we’ve got Darrell Taylor who looks outstanding, and our secondary has a high floor, if not quite so high of a ceiling (unless Tre Brown returns from injury and asserts himself as the next great cornerback on this team). Don’t get me wrong, we still need an infusion of hot talent from the draft, but the bones are there for a quick turnaround (assuming we eventually get the right quarterback).

Could Baker Mayfield join this roster and lead us to a 9-8 record? It wouldn’t shock me in the slightest. That might be a worst-case scenario in its own right, though, because 9-8 doesn’t seem like it’ll be good enough to catch a Wild Card spot, even with the expanded playoffs we’ve made our new reality.

However, I firmly do NOT believe Baker joins this roster and makes us a divisional contender. He certainly doesn’t make us a Super Bowl contender. At which point, his addition to this team just smacks of Pete Carroll refusing to rebuild through the draft like we need to.

And this scenario only gets scarier the more the Seahawks have to give up to get him here. The Browns are reportedly looking for a second round draft pick; that’s asinine. I wouldn’t give up anything higher than a 5th rounder, and even then, the Browns better be paying the bulk of his contract.

The thing is, I don’t think the Browns want him to go to the Steelers. And, if they cut him, I think that’s his top destination; I think he’d do everything – including taking a minimum contract from them – to make it happen. So, the Browns should be happy to take a 7th rounder from us – and pay the entirety of his contract – just to get him out of the AFC. Because, there won’t be anyone more motivated to beat up on the Browns if he’s in Pittsburgh (a city that already hates Cleveland with a passion).

In conclusion, Baker Mayfield is my nightmare. But, ultimately I don’t think he’ll be a Seahawk when it’s all said and done. Good luck, Steelers fans.

The Seahawks Have Some New Defensive Assistant Coaches

The biggest news of the offseason for the Seattle Seahawks so far – that isn’t just talking head nonsense from hot take factories – is the firing of defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. It was a long time coming and, frankly, one of those hires where you knew it was going to go poorly as soon as it was announced. We let it slide – more or less – because we knew it was just a puppet hire of someone who would be running Pete Carroll’s defense.

Which leads me to my first question: were Gus Bradley and Dan Quinn also puppet hires who just ran Pete Carroll’s defense? Or did they just so happen to run a similar defense to what we know Pete likes to install? I don’t get the sense that this was the case with these two, yet it’s what we automatically cling to when we talk about the hires of Kris Richard and Ken Norton. It seems overly dismissive and simplistic.

Whatever the case, I think we can all agree that the Seahawks saw great success with the system ran by Bradley and Quinn, and their goal with Richard and Norton was to continue with what had been built. Unfortunately for the latter two gentlemen, they were saddled with a drastic downgrade in defensive talent. But, with Norton in particular, it sure didn’t seem like he brought anything to the table, and that was his ultimate downfall.

I don’t know if there’s a right way or a wrong way to hire a coach. You can hire from within, you can make a big splash on a retread who rehabilitated his coaching image, you can hire a hotshot coach’s assistant to hope you capture the same magic, you can pilfer the college ranks, you can hire a coordinator from another team. The possibilities are endless, and are riddled with successes and failures. So, I don’t want to say I’m down on Clint Hurtt – new defensive coordinator of the Seattle Seahawks – simply because he was promoted from within the organization. But, I’ve seen what he’s done for this team so far, and I’m far from impressed.

I was already dissatisfied with the job Clint Hurtt was doing even before Ken Norton was fired. He’s been with the Seahawks since 2017 – as the D-Line coach, as well as the assistant head coach – but what has he done exactly to bolster our defensive line? Let’s go through our draft picks since 2017: Malik McDowell (bust), Naz Jones (bust), Rasheem Green (role player at best), L.J. Collier (not even a good role player), Demarcus Christmas (bust), Darrell Taylor (finally, someone good), Alton Robinson (role player). The Seahawks have consistently underwhelmed along the defensive line in his tenure. The pass rush has been up and down, and the run defense has been up and down. I don’t understand what it is, exactly, he does well.

At least when you’re talking about Kris Richard and Ken Norton, you’re talking about a former secondary coach and linebackers coach (respectively) who were phenomenal at those jobs! It doesn’t appear Hurtt has ever been successful at any of his stops. It certainly doesn’t explain this fast-track he’s been on up to this point.

When the Seattle Times announced his hire, it was with the knowledge that Ed Donatell was also going to be hired as a defensive assistant in some capacity. The two, in conjunction, both worked under Vic Fangio, who was and presumably still IS one of the best defensive coordinators in the game today. The obvious next question is: if we want to run his system going forward, why didn’t we just hire HIM?! But, whatever. Presumably, once you know the system, then it’s a matter of getting the right guys to fit within that system. You still need someone to call plays and make adjustments mid-game. I hate the fact that we’re going into a second consecutive season with a first-time play-caller (last year, Shane Waldron for the offense; now Hurtt for the defense).

This is worsened by the fact that Donatell was just hired to be Minnesota’s DC. Hurtt is more palatable with a veteran like Donatell backing him up.

I’m actually heartened with the new assistants the Seahawks hired to coach under Hurtt, though. Karl Scott was brought in to coach the secondary (and be the passing game coordinator). He’s another hot shot who’s on a fast-track, coming from coaching the secondary in Alabama (2018-2020) and the Vikings (2021). Nick Saban, obviously, is the greatest college coach who ever lived, and I have the utmost respect for the old Vikings coaching staff, especially with their defensive pedigree. So, at least he’s coached under some smart dudes.

I’m even more excited for Sean Desai, who looks like a brilliant football mind, coming over from the Bears (starting in 2013, working his way up to DC in 2021). He was in the hunt for numerous DC jobs around the league, before settling here as an Associate Head Coach for the defense.

I’ll be honest, I actually think the Seahawks are making a huge mistake. I think they should’ve just hired Desai to be the DC, and given Hurtt the boot. This seems like something that could backfire in a big way, with Hurtt ultimately failing (and being fired within four years) and Desai moving on to bigger and better things after 2022. Here’s hoping he can make a big impact in a short period of time.

Ultimately, though, we don’t know how good or bad Hurtt is going to be. I’m just assuming he’ll be bad, and am staking my claim right now that this is an uninspiring hire. I wish the Seahawks would’ve made another choice, but who knows? I could be totally wrong. Maybe he’s been a diamond in the rough this whole time and it was Ken Norton who was holding him back. Odds seem to be stacked against that. So, rather than be the usual homer that I am, I’m going to be a Debbie Downer instead, so when we look back in a few years, I’ll get to say I was right from the very beginning.

Yay.

Of course, that just means the Seahawks will continue to suck between now and then, and nobody wants that.

Next up, I’ll be writing about the shake-up along the offensive line coaching staff.

The Top 20 Seahawks Of 2021

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

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

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

Young, Rising Stars

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

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

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

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

Better Than Replacement-Level Players

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

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

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

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

Elite Seahawks Studs

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

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

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

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

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

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

Seahawks Death Week: Who Might Be Leaving In 2022?

Around this time of year, I like to peruse Spotrac to see what the salary cap looks like for the next season. Take the accuracy with a grain of salt, of course; football wonks tend to prefer other sources for their salary cap info. Kill me, I like Spotrac.

Heading into 2022, they say we have around $53 million to play around with, minus money to be held onto for additional dead cap, practice squad, IR replacements, etc. I don’t want to get in the weeds here; $53 million sounds pretty good to me for a team that could also save over $16 million by cutting Bobby Wagner, and another $11 million if Russell Wilson forces a trade.

Those are, obviously, the two biggest questions heading into this offseason. Much has been made of Wilson and his will he/won’t he demand a trade; sadly, we’re going to be talking about this all damn year. And, if he happens to stay, then we’re going to be talking about him all damn year NEXT year when it comes to another contract extension. Ye gods. But, Bobby is much more interesting to me. I don’t think there’s any question that he’s lost a step compared to his peak. He makes fewer real impact plays, but he’s as smart and steady as they come, and the unquestioned leader on this defense (if not the entire team). It’s not that he’s bad, it’s just that he’s drastically overpaid. You could find a replacement in the draft, or on the scrap heap, and get at least 80% of his production for pennies on the Wagner Dollar. That’s almost certainly money that could be better used elsewhere on the defense.

For the life of me, I can’t see this organization cutting him cold turkey, not with Pete and John in the spots they’re in. Assuming they stay, I think Bobby stays. Now, it’s more likely the team comes to him and works out another extension at a lower overall value – knowing that he’s not going to get anything NEAR what he’s making now on the open market – in hopes that he’ll retire a Seahawk, but that puts the ball in his court: will he take a reasonable cut in salary (and still probably be overpaid to some degree) or will he walk and try to find more money elsewhere?

I’ll be very VERY disappointed if he’s still a $20+ million cap hit in 2022, let’s put it that way.

Moving on, there are some big Seahawks names who were on the final year of their deals in 2021! The biggest being Duane Brown and Quandre Diggs. I’m pretty happy to see us get out from under Duane Brown at this point. I suppose it’s possible he re-signs after testing the market and finding it lacking, but at some point we have to think about his replacement. Maybe there’s a better free agent ready to hit the market we could bring in on a long-term deal! Considering we have no first round draft pick, that seems to be our best hope for 2022 and beyond. As for Diggs, I’ve talked about him a lot this year: he’s one of the best free safeties in football and he’s going to want to be paid as such (even with his current injury; he should make a full recovery no problem). Considering we have Adams at one of the highest numbers for a safety as well, to bring him back would mean pouring a crazy amount of money into the safety position. Seems like bad team-building.

More offensive players who could be moving on include Ethan Pocic, Gerald Everett, Brandon Shell, and Rashaad Penny. All of them are fine, but I don’t think any of them would be missed. There should be better center options available, who won’t be injured all the time like Pocic. Everett was good this year, but is he worth $6+ million? I dunno. I think we’ve already found our replacement for Shell in Jake Curhan, so no big loss there. And, as mentioned before, I’d be okay with Penny returning on an incentive-laden deal, but we also need to bring in running backs who will stay reasonably healthy!

On the defensive side, D.J. Reed and Sidney Jones were both quality cornerbacks for us. Certainly leaps and bounds better than Tre Flowers, even if they’re not bona fide superstars. Without them, the only cornerbacks of note on the roster in 2022 are Ugo Amadi (a nickel guy) and Tre Brown (who suffered a serious, season-ending injury as a rookie this year). Reed is the priority over Jones, but I wouldn’t mind having both of them return (that, again, becomes more difficult if you’re paying Diggs and Adams top-of-the-market safety money).

Along the D-Line, we’re looking at losing Rasheem Green and Al Woods. There’s also the question of keeping guys like Carlos Dunlap, Benson Mayowa, Kerry Hyder, and L.J. Collier (who will all be free agents after the 2022 season, but could all be cut for salary cap relief beforehand). You even have to worry about Poona Ford (also a free agent after 2022), since his cap hit is so high; remember the team tried to re-work Jarran Reed’s deal before cutting him when he refused. The only linemen who feel even remotely safe for 2022 are Darrell Taylor (technically a linebacker/defensive end hybrid), Alton Robinson, and Bryan Mone (a restricted free agent who almost certainly will be retained). I can’t envision a scenario where the Seahawks totally and completely clean house, so I have to believe some of the guys on the final years of their deal in 2022 will stick around, at least to compete in Training Camp. I also believe they’d love to bring back Woods on another 1-2 year deal, since he was such a force in 2021. Green is a big question mark, but he’s still pretty young and you’d like to believe he could be had at a reasonable cost. It might be nice to give him another year or two and see if he can put it all together; at the very least, it should be a low-risk gamble.

Some miscellaneous pending free agents include Will Dissly, Alex Collins, Jamarco Jones, and Geno Smith. I don’t know if any of them will be missed, though I have to believe Dissly will be something of a priority, considering he does so much blocking for us (and therefore, between that and his injury history, should be a relatively cheap re-sign).

The only other significant player I see still under contract for 2022 that could possibly be cut is Chris Carson. Given the fact that he needed season-ending neck surgery this year, it seems unlikely that he’ll ever play meaningful football again. I know they talked about it possibly not being career-ending, but let’s be real: he’s one bad hit away from it all being over. I don’t see any responsible way we can bring him back, especially if we opt to re-sign Penny as well. One of those two guys has to go, and in their place, we need to draft a running back of the future. Someone who’s tougher than DeeJay Dallas, but faster and more explosive than Travis Homer (neither of whom – without significant physique changes – are considered to be every-down backs). At this point, even though we don’t save a ton of money cutting Carson, I’d still choose Penny over him (although, the smartest move might be to let both of them go and just hand the keys over to an up-and-coming rookie).

What we’re looking at, of course, is a lot of holes on this roster to fill, with potentially even more on the horizon than we anticipated (not counting the possible loss of Carroll or Schneider). So, tomorrow, let’s look at those holes, and how close we are to a potential turnaround.

Seahawks Death Week: Non-Russell Wilson Reasons The Seahawks Declined In 2021

The Seahawks had five fewer wins in 2021 than in 2020. Last year, we were 12-4 divisional champs; this year, we’re 7-10 divisional basement dwellers. Yesterday – and really, all season – we discussed the Russell Wilson of it all, how his injury and subsequent struggles probably cost us a minimum of three games this season. Flip from 7-10 to 10-7 and this is a wild card team. That doesn’t do much for me, of course, because a 10-7 Seahawks team would probably still lose in the first round (it would certainly lose in round two, otherwise, especially if we had to play in Green Bay), but you’re painting the whole situation with a different brush if that’s the case. If this is just another in a long line of disappointing playoff teams who fail to win a championship, that still looks better than a possibly-dysfunctional team with a losing record who traded away its 10th overall pick to the Jets.

Anyway, as much as I’d like to talk about how Wilson’s performance drove me crazy this year, I’m dedicated to writing about other reasons the Seahawks faltered as well. We’ll see how it goes (so far, it’s going very poorly).

I think a big reason for this season’s decline has to do with the pass rush, which I wrote about last week. That was, of course, written after only 16 of 17 games had been played (you know, like a normal NFL season, before greed forced this additional week on us); at that point, the Seahawks ranked 28th in the NFL with 29 sacks. So, what happened? Well, the Seahawks kicked some ass down in Arizona, racked up 5 additional sacks, and improved their ranking all the way to 22nd in the NFL. Which still isn’t great, but looks a lot better than 28th. Oh what a difference a week can make.

No one stands out more than Carlos Dunlap as far as how an outlook of a season can change in just a few weeks. He had 0.5 sacks heading into December. Then, he had 8 in the final six games to end with 8.5. The way it was looking, Dunlap was the bust of the century; now he looks like the same beast we had on the team last year!

In my post last week, I talked about how Dunlap and Rasheem Green were leading the way with 6.5 sacks. Now, Dunlap is our 2021 team leader with 8.5, Green still has 6.5, but Darrell Taylor also added half a sack to get to 6.5. Everything looks remarkably better with one outstanding performance. Poona Ford added 1.5 sacks to get up to 2 on the season, and Kerry Hyder added a sack to salvage SOMETHING (ending the year with 1.5 sacks).

I would still say pass rush is the biggest concern heading into the 2022 season, as it was one of the biggest drop-offs from the 2020 season. Other than that, though, the defense was roughly the same. In 2020, we gave up 380.6 yards per game; in 2021 it was 379.1 (both figures among the worst in football). Our pass defense improved by roughly 20 yards per game (which passes the eye test, as the secondary appeared to be better than it was in 2020), while our rush defense declined by roughly the same amount (also seeming to pass the eye test, as it was a problem at times all year). We gave up almost 2 fewer points per game in 2021, which is impressive given our injuries and the extra game we played. All in all, the defense was probably better than it had any right to be in 2021, especially given how poor the pass rush played until very late in the season.

The offense, however was atrocious in 2021 compared to 2020. We generated 323.9 yards per game, compared to 369.5 yards last year. Passing yards per game declined (201.9 vs. 246.3), and our rushing yards per game was roughly the same (122.0 this year vs. 123.2 last year), but a lot of that had to do with Rashaad Penny’s bust out in the final few weeks of the season. That translated to a drastic reduction in points per game (23.2 vs. 28.7); just a miserable offensive year.

It’s particularly aggravating to try to analyze, because if you take the eye test out of it, Russell Wilson’s numbers largely align between 2020 and 2021.

  • Completion Percentage: 2020 – 68.8%, 2021 – 64.8%
  • Yards Per Attempt: 2020 – 7.5, 2021 – 7.8
  • Passer Rating: 2020 – 105.1, 2021 – 103.1

Even while his touchdown percentage declined, his interception percentage improved. There’s a lot about his 2021 season that, at least, compared favorably to his career norms. It’s not like Wilson suddenly fell off a cliff. You can always point to his declining rushing production – he had a career-low 3.1 rush attempts per game, after averaging over 2 more per game last year – but that was always to be expected as he got older.

I would say, in general, both years were failures from a running game perspective. Chris Carson led the Seahawks in 2020 with 681 yards; Penny led the Seahawks in 2021 with 749. But, neither player put up anywhere near a full season; if they had, we’d be talking about the Seahawks’ offense in much more glowing terms.

The Seahawks, in both years, struggled to find a third receiver who stood out. What was alarming about 2021 is how D.K. Metcalf’s production declined: 83 catches for 1,303 yards in 2020; 75 for 967 in 2021. There’s some combination of his foot injury and Wilson’s inaccuracy at play there.

What we can’t discount is the change in offensive coordinators. For as much as we all hoped – with the established stars on this roster – that there wouldn’t be a drop-off in production as a new scheme and play-caller were installed, I think that was probably inevitable. Time will tell – and probably very soon – whether or not Shane Waldron is the right guy for the job, especially in how he calls plays. But, I don’t think you can render final judgment after one season. It’s unfortunate, though, because we’ve seen guys step in and see immediate improvement in other situations.

There’s also the bad luck factor at play (or regression to the mean, depending on your sports beliefs). The 2020 Seahawks were 8-3 in one-score games; the 2021 Seahawks were 3-5 in those games. These are games where we held our fate in our hands, and failed to rise to the occasion. You pay a quarterback like Russell Wilson big money to pull these games out. I don’t know if he managed to succeed in any of these that we won, so much as maybe the defense perhaps held on in the end a few times.

If there’s one area the Seahawks will need to find a way to improve – if everything else ends up staying the same – it’s the offensive line. I think we’ve stumbled upon our right tackle of the future, but we need to find a better left tackle, as Duane Brown was really starting to show his age at times this season. Also, it wouldn’t hurt to find a stud center to finally lock that part down. Who knows if any of it will matter, though, as long as Russell Wilson keeps doing Russell Wilson things (which used to be amazing, but now has grown seriously infuriating).

So, what’s the TL;DR? I think Russell Wilson’s poor play – inaccurate, lack of clutchness, lack of ability to convert third downs, lack of willingness to take the plays opposing defenses gave him – deserves a healthy chunk of the blame. I think the O-Line not improving one iota is partly to blame. I think gross incompetence in the running game until the final few weeks of the season has a lot to do with it (and the front office re-signing an injury-prone Carson goes to the top of that particular list). The pass rush shares in the burden, as do the defensive coaches in general, who for the second year in a row failed to have this team prepared in the first half of the season, as we stumbled to a historically-inept start yet again.

Some of these we should have seen coming and corrected ahead of time. Others – like Wilson and the pass rush – totally blindsided us. But, no, Russell Wilson wasn’t the only reason why the 2021 Seahawks failed to live up to what the 2020 version achieved. But, he was the highest-profile and most disgruntled reason why they did.

I’ll be honest, his media antics following the 2020 season soured Wilson on me maybe forever. I’ll always appreciate what he did for this organization, but now I think he’s a joke and that it’s time to move on. More on this tomorrow, as we start to look toward the future.

What Happened To The Seahawks’ Pass Rush?!

I’m going to be getting into a lot of this next week, when we do our official week-long post-mortem of the 2021 Seahawks’ season, so you might be reading some of these sentiments again very soon. But, what the hell?!

In 2020, the Seahawks had 46 sacks, which was good for 7th in the NFL. In 2021, through the same number of games, we have 29 sacks, which is good for 28th in the NFL. Now, granted, our 2020 sack leader – Jamal Adams, with 9.5 – had a grand total of 0 sacks in 2021. But, even if you tacked those onto our 29, that still puts us 7.5 sacks short. What gives?

What’s truly baffling, to me at least, is that we pretty much ran back with the same group of guys. We lost K.J. Wright (who accounted for all of 2 sacks in a hybrid linebacker role), but we replaced him with Jordyn Brooks (who has 1 sack, but has otherwise filled in remarkably well in the weak-side linebacker role that Wright manned for so many seasons). We also lost Jarran Reed (he had 6.5 sacks in 2020), but we filled in with Al Woods, who has been a monster in the middle (in spite of only 1.5 sacks this year). Plus, we got to add Darrell Taylor and his 6 sacks, so this all feels like a wash.

Once again, we’re in an unenviable position of having Rasheem Green be our team sack leader. He currently has 6.5 sacks, sharing the lead with Carlos Dunlap. Dunlap, I have to say, gets a lot of the blame from me here. He had 5 sacks in 8 games last year, and only 1.5 more in twice the number of games. Also, all but his half-sack came in the month of December (in three games, no less), meaning he’s been a non-entity for the vast majority of the season, when it mattered most. You can blame usage all you want; there were games where he played in only a handful of snaps. But, if he were truly playing to his abilities, he would’ve forced the team’s hand. Circumstances, and his poor play, dictated his usage early in the season. Even though we brought him back on a relatively team-friendly deal, it still turned out to be a bust considering expectations.

Also, what happened to Benson Mayowa? Well, for one thing, he switched his number from one in the 90’s (which is far more appropriate for a defensive end like him) to the number 10, which looks asinine on him. I blame that 100% for his decline from 6 sacks in 2020 to 1 sack in 2021. Otherwise, how does someone get so bad for no good reason? Holy hell. He’s on another team-friendly deal, costing us significantly less money than Dunlap, and somehow he’s even a bigger bust!

Those are the biggies. Adams, Reed, Mayowa, and Dunlap were our top four sack guys and accounted for 27 of our 46 sacks in 2020. This season, our top guys are Green, Dunlap, and Taylor, who have a combined 19 sacks; the next people on the list are Woods and Mone, tied for 1.5 sacks apiece. Last year, we had 10 guys with two or more sacks; this year it’s just the three through the same number of games.

Alton Robinson is another guy we had higher expectations for; he had 4 sacks as a rookie and only 1 this year. Kerry Hyder was our big free agent acquisition; he had 8.5 sacks with the 49ers last year; he has 0.5 this year. L.J. Collier had 3 sacks last year, and has hardly even played this year. Robert Nkemdiche was an under-the-radar free agent signing who has miraculously stayed on the team all year, but to very little impact.

It’s a horrid mix of high-profile whiffs, a bad scheme, poor drafting, and even worse development. I don’t know who’s in charge of coaching up the D-Line, but he has been a miserable failure (I see the name “Clint Hurtt” on the team’s website, but that means nothing to me; who is that? Some guy, I guess. It might as well be me out there coaching the team’s defensive linemen!).

We all knew relying on a defensive back to get the most sacks on our roster was just asking for trouble, but there was a lot of reason for optimism (aside from Jamal Adams) heading into 2021 that we could parlay a strong finish to the 2020 season into at least as good, if not better things for our pass rush. But, we’ve taken a significant step back, to the point where there’s really only one player worth a damn in our pass rush (Darrell Taylor) and everyone else is depth/fill-in at best.

I don’t even know what the Seahawks can do here. Do you re-sign Rasheem Green and hope he continues to get incrementally better? He has 13.5 sacks in the four years since we drafted him. Do you keep Dunlap, Mayowa, and Hyder even though it would be cheaper to cut them now and try to fill in with hopefully more productive guys on the scrap heap? Is Alton Robinson ever going to explode, or is he just the second coming of Rasheem Green? Do we even bother giving L.J. Collier another shot? What can we expect from Jamal Adams as he enters the teeth of his big-money contract going forward?

What a wasteland. The thing is, the linebackers have been solid (as usual) and the secondary has been much better. But, we’re poised to lose Quandre Diggs (unless we want to have the highest-paid safety tandem in football) and I don’t even know who’s sticking around among our cornerbacks. There’s a shot at a quality defense here; they’ve proven to be effective at limiting points at least. But, they’re never going to be an elite unit without a pass rush.

I don’t have the answers, and I’m not sure the organization does either. I’m sure they’ll try to do something, but the question is: will it work? I guess we’ll see.

The Seahawks Blew Out A Terrible Texans Team

As a fan, when you get too close to a team – you obsess about them week-to-week, you sit enrapt during every game, you might even pour over the footage after it’s done to try to glean extra nuggets of information to spout out on your social media outlet of choice – it’s easy to get swept up by the rollercoaster.

  • Week 1 – The Seahawks handily beat the Colts, we’re headed to the Super Bowl!
  • Week 3 – The Seahawks blew two winnable games in a row, fuck my life
  • Week 4 – The Seahawks stole one from the 49ers, maybe we’re okay
  • Week 5 – Russell Wilson’s hurt, please kill me
  • Week 7 – We’re 2-5, stick a fork in us
  • Week 8 – We’re 3-5 with the BYE coming up, let’s see if Russ comes back
  • Week 9 – Russ is back, just in time!
  • Week 10 – Shut out at Green Bay, uh oh
  • Week 12 – Lost three in a row, 3-8 overall, season’s over
  • Week 14 – Won two in a row, so you’re sayin’ there’s a chance …

Sure, technically, if the Seahawks win out, they’re 9-8. 9-8 is probably enough to make the 7-seed in the NFC (that’s ignoring the fact that 6 of those 8 losses are to NFC teams, which probably precludes us from that particular very important tie-breaker, but that’s neither here nor there), but what happens when the Seahawks lose to the Rams this week? Then, we have to try to talk ourselves into an 8-9 team making the playoffs? Where does it end?!

My point from above (if this is even interesting to talk about at all), is that it’s a lot easier to avoid that rollercoaster of emotion – and see this team for what it is – when you’re not as invested. When you stop obsessing about them as much during the week, and when you blow off halves or entire games on Sunday, and go out and live your life.

I watched the first half of this Texans/Seahawks game, and you know what I saw? I saw the REAL Seahawks. I saw a team with superior talent struggle to cling to a 16-13 lead at halftime. I saw a defense with very little pass rush and soft coverage let a nobody quarterback march his team up and down the field. I saw an offense with a terrible line give up repeated pressure. Sure, I saw some good things too, but they were drowning in mediocre results.

And then I brushed my teeth and washed my face and left the house to go do something more enjoyable. What was there for me in the second half of that game? Well, as it turns out, there was a 17-0 finish in favor of the Seahawks, to give the game its 33-13 final. But, it just as easily could’ve been some weird scenario where the Seahawks keep shooting themselves in the foot on offense, and squander the game away late. Is Davis Mills really THAT much worse than Colt McCoy? And Colt McCoy has beaten us in back-to-back seasons!

You watch that second half, and you might go on to delude yourself into thinking this is a Seahawks team that’s capable of making the playoffs. But, the taste that’s still left in my mouth? It’s not nearly so scrumptious. I’ve missed the best parts of the last two weeks (the entire victory over the 49ers, and the half against the Texans where it was a Seahawks rout), so my last visions of these guys are a baffling loss to the Washington Football Team, and whatever I saw in the first half yesterday morning.

My outlook is far less rosy. My hunch is: the Seahawks go 2-2 the rest of the way (and not necessarily the 2-2 that you THINK is going to happen – where we beat the Bears & Lions at home and lose to the Rams & Cards on the road), finish 7-10, and hand-deliver the Jets a quality draft pick very close to the top 10.

Some interesting nuggets from this Texans game include Rashaad Penny busting out for 137 yards on 16 carries (including 2 TDs). I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Penny could’ve run for 300 yards against the Texans and I still wouldn’t trust him with a contract extension if I were the Seahawks. DON’T get suckered in! Let him walk! Especially if there’s an ounce of a possibility that Chris Carson recovers and returns next year. Just, please, give us all a fucking break. Penny had a good game; I hope he has a great end to this season. And then I hope he signs on elsewhere and has a lovely finish to his career with another team. I’m done, you hear?!

Pretty decent game for the Russell Wilson to Tyler Lockett connection. Wilson had 260 yards overall (17/28 passing) with 2 TDs and 0 INTs. Lockett caught 5 of those for 142 and a TD. That somehow left only table scraps for my guy D.K. Metcalf, but you can’t win ’em all.

Al Woods had another monster game in this one; boy is he fun to watch when he’s wreaking havoc! Give him half a sack and a tackle for loss (5 tackles total). Darrell Taylor had another sack, bringing his total to 6 on the season (a team high). Also, Bobby Wagner had another 15 sacks, to give him approximately a billion on the year (or 152, to lead the NFL, because all guys who lead the league in tackles are on mediocre defenses, it’s a rule; Jordyn Brooks is third in the NFL with 135).

I dunno. More guys got injured in this one, Jason Myers missed two extra points, and only two of Michael Dickson’s four punts were inside the 20 yard line. You hate to see it.