The 10th Most Important Seahawks Player After Russell Wilson: David Moore

Here is the Home Page for this series of posts.

With the retirement of Doug Baldwin, it’s pretty obvious who this team’s #1 receiver is going to be. But, every good offense needs a quality #2, and that’s where I believe David Moore comes in.

There are certainly other candidates on this roster right now. Some people might point to the promising offseason Jaron Brown has had. With a year under his belt in this system, and a few strong performances last year, he’s certainly a candidate to make a big leap in 2019. But, he’s a veteran and there’s money to be saved on his contract if we cut him, so I can’t very well have a bubble player on my list of the most important Seahawks after Russell Wilson!

I know a lot of fans have their eyes squarely on D.K. Metcalf, and I don’t blame you one bit! I’ll be eagerly awaiting his debut in the pre-season as much as anyone. But, he’s a rookie. While rookies certainly have their roles in this Brave New NFL World, by and large most rookies fall short of expectations, especially when you’re talking about those taken after the first half of the first round. Every year, there are a small handful of star rookies, a bigger selection of starters who have to endure growing pains, and a vast majority of role players who make their hay on Special Teams, or in various sub packages on offense or defense. Since I don’t really see Metcalf as anything more than a #4 receiver who will get in on various offensive sub packages, he definitely falls under that Role Player category.

That leaves us with David Moore, a 7th round pick in 2017 who didn’t really play at all his rookie season. That made his play through November of last year all the more impressive, when he brought down 22 catches for 413 yards and all 5 of his touchdowns. What’s given a lot of fans pause is his December, when he caught 4 balls on 16 targets, for 32 yards across 5 games.

Was it a fluke? Did the league figure him out? Did he tire in his first full active season in the NFL? Is he not as good as we thought he’d be? Was he injured?

I don’t know if I have answers for any of those questions, but I believe his career is still on its upward trajectory, and his overall 2018 production is just a start. He ended up finishing third in receiving on this team with 445 yards, and it wouldn’t shock me in the slightest to see him approach 800-900 yards and 8-11 touchdowns. Lockett will still get the overwhelming majority of attention from Russell Wilson, but he’ll also see opposing teams’ best cornerbacks. That should leave some pretty cushy opportunities for Moore to step right in as another big play receiver on a team that likes to push the ball deep down field.

With Baldwin gone, there are a ton of targets up for grabs. In his third professional season, David Moore figures to be in a prime position to gobble them up.

The 12 Most Important Seahawks (After Russell Wilson)

With the Mariners being who they are, it’s not easy to want to write about sports in Seattle during these lean summer months. So, here’s a contrived excuse to write about the Seahawks! You’ve seen these everywhere else, and now I’m doing it as well: let’s rank the most important Seahawks as we head into the 2019 season!

It’s all subjective, so take my rankings with a grain of salt. The idea is: I’m not ranking them by who’s BEST, but rather who needs to be healthy and on top of his game for this team to exceed expectations. Obviously, if I were simply ranking the best Seahawks, Bobby Wagner would be listed in the top 2, instead of where he ended up (spoiler alert: the Seahawks are more stacked at the linebacker position than any other, so it’s not necessarily a must that he be in there at all times, though obviously I would never wish ill on our defensive captain).

And, since I’m doing this as a countdown, there would be no suspense whatsoever if I didn’t get Russell Wilson out of the way from the jump. We all know what the quarterback means to the game of football, and we all know how much Russ in particular means to the success of this team.

But, in case you didn’t, I’ll get into it here.

Russell Wilson isn’t just the most important Seahawks player, but he might be more important to our team than any player is to his respective team in the entire league. I know that wouldn’t make a lot of sense to fans outside of our Seattle bubble, when you factor in how little he actually throws the ball. But, as we ’round these parts know, that makes Wilson’s accuracy and big play ability all the more vital. If he weren’t as efficient as he is, this offense would be a total disaster!

Now, once you take into account the holes on this roster – primarily in the pass rush – I’m firmly of the belief that the offense will need to carry a bigger share of the burden. And, while we’re still talking about a run-first game plan, Wilson will still be the one running the show. After all, we’re going to need SOMEONE to convert all those third downs after we run it on first & second down!

We, as Seahawks fans, have some hard truths to swallow as we head into the 2019 season. First and foremost, the fact that this isn’t a championship team. Even in our best case scenario, we’re probably a year away (at least). I just feel like there’s too much to overcome, which really isn’t what we’re supposed to be thinking. After 2017 was such a disaster (relatively speaking), the Seahawks overcame expectations to make it back to the playoffs last year; as such, you’d think things are trending in the right direction! But, there are lots of arguments indicating the Seahawks overachieved last year, and if regression rears its ugly head, we could be looking at somewhat of a step back. I don’t think this team is any worse than 8-8, but I also worry that a 9-7 or even a 10-6 team might get blocked out of a Wild Card berth with a pretty stacked NFC.

It’s with that frame of mind that I return to the subject of Russell Wilson. For this team to remain good, we’ll need all the magic he’s got. And, who knows? Maybe the Seahawks will shock me again and really take a huge step forward! I mean, we never saw that stretch run in 2012 coming, until all of a sudden we were blessed with the best team in football for about 5-6 weeks. If Wilson plays at an MVP level, then I do think there’s an outside shot at this team vying for another Super Bowl appearance. He’s just that good, and he makes those around him that much better.

So, going forward, I’ll have 12 more posts about the 12 Most Important Seahawks After Russell Wilson. Except, it’s a total cop-out, because I have two players tied for 12th, which means – including Russell Wilson – I’ll have written about the 14 Most Important Seahawks. But, 14 has no relevance whatsoever to our Seahawks fandom (unless you’re a big Rick Tuten fan), so you get what you get. Feel free to bookmark this page, as I’ll update it with links below as those posts are written:

  1. Ezekiel Ansah
  2. Tyler Lockett
  3. Bradley McDougald
  4. Duane Brown
  5. Bobby Wagner
  6. Jarran Reed
  7. Chris Carson
  8. Rasheem Green
  9. Jason Myers
  10. David Moore
  11. Jacob Martin
  12. Shaquill Griffin & Tre Flowers (tied)

SEARCH: Seahawks OTAs 53-Man Roster Projections 2019

For as mediocre as I’ve been decrying the Seahawks’ defensive line heading into this season, there’s actually a pretty interesting battle going on. While this team lacks star power – particularly in the pass rush – there’s tremendous depth across the entirety of the front seven. You could argue – aside from Bobby Wagner and Jarran Reed – that it’s ALL depth, but that’s neither here nor there.

The rest of the roster shakes out pretty easily, but I cannot stress this enough: doing a 53-man roster projection in the middle of June is as worthless as it gets. I can’t even describe how wrong I’m going to be by the time Week 1 rolls around; there will be countless injuries and a number of players who make the team that aren’t even on the roster right now!

But, based on the players we have today, here are my thoughts:

Quarterbacks

  • Russell Wilson
  • Geno Smith

This feels like the easiest of the non-Special Teams specialist spots to predict. Paxton Lynch just isn’t an NFL quarterback, period. The only reason he’s here is because he’s tall and a former first round pick. Not that Geno Smith is any great shakes, but at least he’s started; he’s taken the more traditional route to being a career backup.

Running Backs

  • Chris Carson
  • Rashaad Penny
  • Travis Homer
  • C.J. Prosise
  • J.D. McKissic

Already, I don’t feel great about my prediction. If you’d asked me coming out of 2018, I would’ve GUARANTEED that this team takes one of either Prosise or McKissic, but not both. But, I’m just not super sold on the back-end of this group. If Prosise continues to ball out like he’s been doing during these OTAs, I don’t think there’s any way this team can just cut him for nothing. The guys I left off the roster are guys I feel like will be available on the scrap heap if the need arises. The only monkey wrench is the fullback, Nick Bellore. We all know the team likes to run a lot, and having a competent fullback is always a Pete Carroll desire. If he makes the team, probably cross off one of Prosise or McKissic.

Tight Ends

  • Ed Dickson
  • Nick Vannett
  • Will Dissly
  • Jacob Hollister

I don’t have a real strong belief that the team is going to keep four tight ends PLUS George Fant, but I don’t know where the cut comes from! Dickson was our best tight end when he was healthy in 2018, and is our most veteran all-around player at the position. But, at the same time, there is money to be saved by cutting him. Vannett has continued to improve year to year and had sort of a mini-breakout last year (particularly in the endzone). But, at the same time, he’s on the last year of his rookie deal, and I don’t know if he brings anything to the table that’s super special. Dissly looks like a stud, so if he’s healthy by the time the regular season starts, he’s a lock. I think the other lock is Hollister, and not just because we traded for him; clearly based on our history, we have no quibbles with cutting guys we’ve traded for. He sounds like a super stud on special teams and a guy we’d like to hang onto for a while.

Wide Receivers

  • Tyler Lockett
  • D.K. Metcalf
  • David Moore
  • Jaron Brown
  • Keenan Reynolds

Lockett, Metcalf, and Moore are all locks, assuming they stay healthy. I think Brown is about as close to a lock as possible, considering there isn’t a ton of veteran presence in this room. Finally, I think we only hang onto 5 receivers due to the need to have a 4th tight end. With that in mind, the fifth receiver spot is going to be a HUGE battle. I know there’s a prevailing thought that the Seahawks just HAVE to keep all of their rookie drafted receivers, but unless they prove to be special – and healthy – the Seahawks have no problem cutting them and stashing them on the practice squad. For starters, I don’t expect both Jennings and Ursua to be healthy throughout Training Camp; if they are, then we’re having a different discussion. But, in reality, I think the final receiver spot is going to go to one of those two guys or Keenan Reynolds, and I’m giving Reynolds the advantage based on his being in the system for a full year, and actually seeing some playing time last year. With his experience, and his Baldwin-esque build and skillset, I think he’s perfect to slide right into that dependable slot receiver role.

Offensive Line

  • Duane Brown
  • Mike Iupati
  • Justin Britt
  • D.J. Fluker
  • Germain Ifedi
  • Ethan Pocic
  • Jordan Simmons
  • George Fant
  • Jamarco Jones

I’m pretty secure in this prediction. The only way it changes is if there are injuries. Look for Joey Hunt or Phil Haynes to maybe sneak in there if there are any surprises to the core nine I’ve listed above.

Punter/Kicker/Long Snapper

  • Michael Dickson
  • Jason Myers
  • Tyler Ott

Enough said.

Secondary

  • Shaquill Griffin
  • Tre Flowers
  • Akeem King
  • Neiko Thorpe
  • Jeremy Boykins
  • Tedric Thompson
  • Bradley McDougald
  • Ugo Amadi
  • Marquise Blair
  • Delano Hill

I’m not super sold on Boykins. Amadi is also not totally a lock, but Boykins is really just a stab in the dark. I think, if it comes down to a young guy and a veteran, this team keeps the young guy. Boykins was here last year, so he has a leg up, but whatever. This post isn’t really about the secondary.

Defensive Line

  • Ziggy Ansah
  • L.J. Collier
  • Rasheem Green
  • Jacob Martin
  • Jarran Reed
  • Poona Ford
  • Al Woods
  • Quinton Jefferson

Linebackers

  • Bobby Wagner
  • K.J. Wright
  • Cody Barton
  • Ben Burr-Kirven
  • Mychal Kendricks

Linebacker/Ends

  • Shaquem Griffin
  • Barkevious Mingo

You kinda gotta lump all these guys together, because there’s a lot of crossover. I’m pretty secure in my prediction of the 8 linemen and 5 linebackers I’ve listed above. But, just as there will be an interesting battle among the final wide receivers, I think there’s going to be a tremendous battle among the SAM linebackers/defensive ends we’ve got on this roster. I mean, just look at the list of guys I’ve left off of this team:

  • Branden Jackson
  • Cassius Marsh
  • Demarcus Christmas
  • Naz Jones
  • Austin Calitro
  • Jamie Meder

For what it’s worth, I think Christmas is a guy we can stash on the Practice Squad. Jackson is a guy who has hung around for a few years that I know the team likes, but he isn’t really elite at anything. Naz Jones was a healthy scratch for a lot of weeks last year and it appears his time has run out with the Seahawks if he doesn’t seriously flash in Training Camp. Meder is a veteran, but hasn’t really done anything in his career.

The two hardest cuts for me were Marsh and Calitro. Marsh is such an ace at Special Teams, that it wouldn’t surprise me if the team finds a way to keep him. But, he’s essentially a journeyman at this point, so he probably only makes the team if there are injuries at defensive end. He feels like Ansah insurance, which brings me zero comfort. Calitro, on the other hand, was a rookie last year who I thought played pretty well in an injury-ravaged unit. It’s hard for me to see him go, but he’s not really playing the same position as Griffin or Mingo. He’s more of a backup to Wagner/Wright, which they went out and drafted in BBK and Cody Barton. If the team liked Calitro so much, would they have used two moderately high draft picks on guys who can easily replace him? At this point, Barton sounds like he’s a stud, and the guy putting the final nail in Calitro’s coffin.

All of that having been said, I don’t think Griffin or Mingo are locks by any stretch of the imagination. While both are being used in pass rush situations, neither have really excelled at the professional level at that job. Nevertheless, both seem like pretty key guys to our Special Teams, which is why I have them making the 53-man roster. If it comes down to Special Teams or Pass Rush, and the team feels it needs more help with the latter, then don’t be surprised if Marsh takes the spot of Mingo (I can’t imagine the team keeps both Marsh AND Mingo in lieu of waiving Griffin, because why wouldn’t you keep the cost-controlled guy with upside?).

I’m telling you, I’m utterly fascinated with how this whole portion of the team is going to shake out. I’ll be out of town for the entirety of the Pre-Season, which is kind of a bummer, but it’ll still be interesting to follow from afar.

What I Would Like The Seahawks To Do In The 2019 NFL Draft

Thanks to a number of unfortunate or ill-advised trades, on top of a number of unfortunate or ill-advised free agent signings, the Seahawks were reduced to a total of 4 draft picks for this week’s draft, and 0 compensatory picks. That number increased by 1 with the trade of Frank Clark, so now we’re looking at the following:

  • First Round (21)
  • First Round (29)
  • Third Round (92)
  • Fourth Round (124)
  • Fifth Round (159)

So, not ideal, but interesting. It’s ALWAYS interesting to have two first round picks, even if both of them are in the 20’s.

Heading into the Frank Clark deal, it was a foregone conclusion that the Seahawks would do everything in their power to trade down from 21 to acquire more picks. What’s now up for interpretation is the fact that the Seahawks could actually Stick & Pick at 21, then maybe use 29 to trade down. I would argue it’ll probably be EASIER to trade 29, since it’s a lesser value, while at the same time holds a lot of power because it’s so close to the second round. So, if there’s a quarterback-needy team at or near the top of the second, who’d like to move back into the first to preserve a possible 5th Year Option, that 29th spot could be a turkey shoot.

My guess is that there won’t be any guys the Seahawks truly LOVE at 21, so they’ll trade down maybe 3-4 spots and get a nominal return in extra picks, and then select someone at 24 or 25. But, all bets are off for 29; I could see the Seahawks dropping all the way to 40 (Buffalo) or 41 (Denver), maybe even 46 (Washington) or 48 (Miami). For that, they should get a HAUL. I’m talking the second, a high third, and maybe even a fourth! Pick number 29 should be open season, going to the highest bidder.

Regardless, tomorrow’s first round coverage went from being nominally interesting to Must See TV for Seahawks fans.

Getting back to the point of this post, here’s what I’d like to see the Seahawks do:

  • I want that first selection to be a defensive end
  • I want the second selection to be Best Player Available

A lot of people are talking about a wide receiver. I’m willing to concede that’s a position of bigger need than I originally thought, what with Doug Baldwin’s injury issues and increasing age. I still love Tyler Lockett, and I think David Moore is going to bounce back from a subpar second half of last year, but this would still be a good position to shore up for the long haul.

But, with wide receiver, you have to be SURE. And this team’s track record with receivers in the first four rounds is a little suspect. Aside from Lockett, there’s Amara Darboh (done nothing in two years), Kevin Norwood (total bust), Paul Richardson (injury prone, had only one really good year), Chris Harper (total bust), Kris Durham (total bust), and Golden Tate (legitimately great). I would argue this team is better at finding receivers among the late rounds or undrafted than they are up high (Baldwin, Kearse, Moore).

If the team is sure, I guess I’ll take their word for it, but I would much rather have the team go after a safety with the second pick. Hell, even if they took a second defensive end, I’d be just fine! Or a run-stuffing D-Tackle. Maybe a quality nickel corner who falls. In an ideal world, both of the first two picks will be on the defensive side of the ball.

As for the later rounds – depending on how many extra picks we’re able to trade for – I’d probably look for a receiver there. I also think this team is destined to pick up another linebacker for primarily special teams purposes (could Ben Burr-Kirven be an option late?). It also might not be the worst idea in the world to grab a backup QB, so we can stop riding this rollercoaster of backups on 1-year deals. It’s just a waste of money and, like last year, resources in our lost 6th rounder for Brett Hundley.

One spot I actually DON’T think the Seahawks need to concern themselves about too much is the O-Line. Maybe take a project late, but I think we’ve got rock solid depth up and down the line. I might not even waste the draft pick, but instead go after a lineman among the undrafted.

I also don’t think tight end needs to be a huge priority. And, while I’ll always welcome extra cornerback help, I don’t think that’s a direction this team is going to head down (unless, again, it’s a cornerback who’s also a special teams stud).

The Seahawks did a remarkable job filling a lot of holes last year. Aside from maybe a new wide receiver project, I think the entire offensive side of the ball is set. We got a kicker and punter for many years to come, but bolstering our coverage units should be a high priority. Our linebacker room is probably the best it’s ever been (assuming the veterans stay healthy). Our secondary still has a lot to prove, but is otherwise young and hungry.

Ultimately, while I’d try to get a stud safety/nickel corner, I think the overwhelming majority of the focus this week needs to be on the defensive line, both for pass rushers (early) and run stuffers (late, ideally). Take multiple shots, because not everyone is going to pan out, so play the numbers game.

Who Do The Seahawks Have On Roster Right Now Who Could Step Up In 2019?

Boy, is that ever a clunky mouthful of a title?

So, anyway, yesterday I wrote about where the Seahawks are lacking in star power. Today, we’ll take a look at who could potentially step into bigger, more impactful roles. Let’s face it, while the Seahawks can do a lot with the draft and free agency, it’s still a total motherfucking crapshoot, so it would be ideal for guys we have currently to step their games up and help fill some of these holes.

Shaquem Griffin

I’ll be honest with you, the inspiration for this post came from this ESPN article. I’ve been largely discounting Shaquem Griffin mostly due to his disasterous start back in Week 1 against the Broncos. I’ve also gotta say, I expected more of an impact on special teams out of the rookie linebacker. Maybe that’s unfair; maybe I built him up too big heading into the regular season (after a whirlwind period post-draft, through an exciting pre-season). Some guys just need a little bit more time to have everything click; maybe Year 2 is when we see his growth as a professional.

Or, maybe he’s more hype than substance. Maybe the Seahawks are playing him outside of his natural position due to his lack of size. Maybe his focus is being pulled in all these other directions outside of football and his heart isn’t totally in it. These aren’t things I question lightly, but they’re nagging concerns in the back of my mind that I feel like are on a lot of other people’s minds too, but no one is saying anything about it. Does he want to be a professional football player? Or, does he want to be an inspirational story to a lot of kids out there? That’s okay; I’m not blaming him if the NFL isn’t his bag.

The thing is, I believe in his talent; he just needs to put in the work and study his craft and he’ll be right there. He has the potential to fill K.J. Wright’s shoes ably. So, maybe now that everything has died down from a media perspective, he can just relax and focus on football and everything will be better in 2019. That’s MY hope. Because if he can take over that weakside linebacker spot, that’s a HUGE hole the Seahawks won’t have to worry about.

Tedric Thompson

There’s a big ol’ Earl Thomas-shaped hole in our secondary that needs filling. Of the three options, none seem realistic or all that enticing. The first option is to re-sign Thomas; but clearly the team has made it clear they don’t want to pay what he’s worth (I tend to agree, but I’ve been decidedly scared off by the third contract to Kam Chancellor). The second option is the draft; but I’m told this year’s draft lacks in quality safeties. On top of which, the team has precious few selections this year, and can ill-afford to use its first rounder on one of the few true elites, as we’ll need to trade down to build a bigger cache. The third option is free agency; but we’ve seen what happens when the Seahawks go dumpster diving for secondary players (see: Cary Williams).

It’s been my contention all along that safety is this team’s #1 need this off-season (even more than pass rush; come at me broseph). It’s also been my contention all along that the team never sees things the same way I do, and will almost certainly stick with what they’ve got (while maybe taking a flier on a late-round project to mold into the type of player they like). Bradley McDougald is a fine player, and I’m glad he’s here to fill in for some of the void. But, can he last a full season? He barely made it out alive in 2018, and his play dropped off considerably as he fought through nagging injuries. The point being: he’s not really a long-term solution.

If there’s a guy on the roster this very second who has a chance to take a step forward in his development, it’s Tedric Thompson. I know the bloom has come off the rose, since 2019 will be his third year in the pros. But, 2018 was really his first year as a starter; he stuck almost exclusively to special teams as a rookie. Now, obviously, the concern is that there’s little evidence of his play improving over the course of last season, but I don’t sit there and watch all the tape, so I’m not really one to judge. I’ve heard both good and bad things; he made a few plays, and he bungled a few plays.

More than anything, I guess I’m encouraged by what I heard about him heading into the 2018 season. His teammates seemed to be really high on him last summer, right before Earl Thomas returned to start in week 1. Maybe that rattled him a bit? Maybe it set him back? Obviously, you don’t want to just hand him the starting job, but if he heads into 2019 as the presumptive favorite, maybe that boost of confidence sends him to the next level. He’s got a lot of good experience, now it’s time to put it all together and hope things gel in Year 3. If so, that could be a real game-changer for this defense.

Tre Flowers

Talking about the bloom coming off the rose … Shaquill Griffin’s bloom is looking pretty wilty. Maybe, again, it’s a matter of too much expectation too soon; or maybe that switch from right cornerback to left is a huge deal that needs more than an offseason to perfect. As I say all the time, I’m no expert. But, I’ll tell you what my eyes tell me: they say that Tre Flowers looks ahead of where Shaquill Griffin was at this point in his career the previous year.

I’ll go a step further: I think Tre Flowers today might be better than Griffin, and I think he looks like a better fit for that left cornerback spot.

Now, the last thing you want to do is go and jerk everyone around. Moving Griffin from right to left to right again (saying nothing of where he ended up as a college player in his final year with UCF) is going to stunt his growth, so it’s probably better to see what he’s capable of with a little continuity. Nevertheless, I’ll be extremely interested in how Tre Flowers looks in his second season. If he does, indeed, surpass Griffin in ability, that could be another game-changer for this defense as it searches for playmakers in the secondary. This defense has proven time and again that it needs turnovers to truly thrive. So, let’s hope it comes from someone currently on this roster!

David Moore

While he’s technically an exclusive-rights free agent, for all intents and purposes, David Moore will be back on the Seahawks in 2019. It was hard not to be dazzled by his exciting plays in 2018. There were a number of big catches down field early in the season to not only have him on the local radar, but also had many fantasy gurus looking to him as a potential mid-season sleeper. Then, his numbers mysteriously faded down the stretch. It looked like Wilson lost confidence in him, as he relied on more veteran pass-catchers to come through in the clutch. In short, Jaron Brown stole David Moore’s chick.

2019 will be his third season, and wide receivers notoriously start their careers slow (especially in Seattle). I would expect, if he’s going to pop, now will be the time. The best part here is the team doesn’t really NEED him to be a true #1. Doug and Tyler are still firmly entrenched ahead of him. But, as a change of pace, or as a big body down field, Moore does fill a role in this offense. Coming up with more 50/50 balls and being a big endzone target will be his niche on this team. It’d be cool to see him earn that trust, so the team can divert resources away from this position.

Jamarco Jones

While his combine numbers precipitated his draft plummet, Jamarco Jones was reported to be a gamer in college, who shows out on tape more than in shorts amid cones. Unfortunately, his rookie season ended before it really began, so we never got a chance to see him compete with Ifedi for that starting right tackle spot. We’ll never really know how serious that competition would’ve been, but here we are, in the fourth year of Germain Ifedi’s rookie deal.

The team has between now and the start of the league year to activate the fifth-year option on Ifedi and it would reportedly be worth over $8 million. Given his overall play to date – as one of the lowest-rated tackles in the NFL – it seems highly unlikely that the Seahawks would go that route. However, you’ve gotta give him credit for MUCH improved play in 2018; it appears the switch to Mike Solari, with the addition of D.J. Fluker to his left, has worked wonders for Ifedi’s growth. As the fifth-year option is only guaranteed for injury, I won’t rule it out, as the team could still cut him without penalty before the start of the fifth year, if we decided to go in another direction. My gut says we won’t even risk it; if we wouldn’t use it on Bruce Irvin back in the day, I find it hard to believe we’d use it on a right tackle.

The team also faces the prospect of losing George Fant to free agency, depending on what sort of tender we choose to offer him. He could walk with zero compensation, which opens up a very legitimate spot on this team, when you figure how often we use a 6th lineman in a run-heavy offense. Maybe – assuming Jones fully recovers from his high-ankle sprain injury – he takes over that role (though I find it hard to believe he’ll see any sort of tight end routes like Fant routinely enjoyed), with the outside chance that he pushes Ifedi for the starting right tackle job (or, at the very least, making it clear the team has a replacement in place for 2020 and beyond).

I actually really like many of our O-Line prospects. Jones, of course, but also Jordan Simmons (who is another exclusive-rights free agent we should see again), and even Ethan Pocic (though I tend to prefer him as a possible center replacement for Britt, though I don’t think the cap situation works at this juncture). Ideally, the Seahawks run back the starting five from 2018 and we go to work. But, the younger guys have flashed potential and competency at spots over the last season, and could have bright futures in this league if they continue to develop.

Seahawks Death Week: Ranking The Holes To Fill

It’s not all sunshine and puppydog noses in Seahawksland after an unexpected playoff berth in 2018. True, the floor was not as far down as we all thought coming off a disappointing 2017, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty of work to do. Here’s my ranking of the holes the Seahawks need to fill heading into the 2019 season, from most important to least.

#1 – Safety

Bradley McDougald is locked up through 2020, at a relative bargain for what he brought to the table when he was healthy the last couple years. The best part about B McD is he can play either strong or free safety, which is crucial because I’m making this position not only the most important to shore up in the offseason, but the biggest priority for the upcoming NFL Draft. That doesn’t NECESSARILY mean I need the Seahawks to use a first round pick on one; but I need for whoever they do end up drafting to hit and hit big for this defense to work. Ideally, we’d find a more capable Earl Thomas replacement at free safety, and slide McDougald over to strong safety, where he’s probably better suited to play. Sure, keep Tedric Thompson and Delano Hill around as depth/competition, but we can’t be counting on them longterm, not with what little improvement we saw over the course of the 2018 season.

#2 – Defensive End 2

DE 1 is obviously Frank Clark, and he’s coming back one way or another (either via a longterm extension, or a franchise tag). The real need is at that end spot opposite Clark. I like Jacob Martin an awful lot based on what he was able to do as a rookie, but at this point in his career he’s more of a rotational guy, and this team needs veteran stability at the other pass rusher spot. Ideally, there will be a stud free agent or two out on the open market, like in 2013 when we were able to sign Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett. I don’t know who the 2018 equivalent is, but that’s my idea.

#3 – Guards

This is most easily remedied by re-signing Fluker & Sweezy. I could see one of them maybe moving on, but losing both feels unrealistic. Behind them, we have Pocic and Simmons, a bust and an injury waiting to happen. I like Pocic and Simmons as depth right now more than I like handing them the job out of Training Camp, even though both are younger and with higher ceilings. Could the Seahawks get by with those two? Sure, but I don’t want to know what kind of growing pains this offense needs to go through to make it happen. Just bring back Fluker & Sweezy.

#4 – Weakside Linebacker

K.J. Wright is as good as gone, so this spot could certainly use some shoring up. At this point, we don’t know if Kendricks slots better at this spot or the strong side, but that’s certainly an option. Austin Calitro, I thought, acquitted himself well in his fill-in duty. The draft could also be an option, though obviously not with a high pick. Regardless, there’s going to be an immediate drop-off from the longtime quality we got from Wright; the idea is to not fall too far off his level.

#5 – Kicker

It’s time to do it up right. Ideally, we would’ve solved this puzzle in 2018 with Jason Myers, but we opted to go for the old man, which was fine for the short term, but a disaster overall. Kicker is a tricky thing to fix, as they’re so varied from year to year. Is there an elite leg coming out of college like Michael Dickson last year? God, I hope so.

#6 – Defensive Tackle 2 (or 3)

Jarran Reed has distinguished himself as a bona fide every-down DT in this league. Given his pass rush ability, he has certainly proven he’s more than just a widebody nose tackle. And, with the emergence of Poona Ford as a run stopping machine (and ostensibly the only one on the entire line), you could easily slide him into the starting nose tackle spot, meaning we need a third guy who can sort of do both, stop the run and maybe rush the passer a little. Really, we’re looking for a cheap, veteran, Tony McDaniel type, but GOD DAMMIT we need to fix the run defense from day 1!

#7 – Wide Receiver 3 (or 4)

David Moore could assert himself into this role, but he really disappeared toward the end of 2018 after a delightful start, so everything is up in the air with him right now. Jaron Brown picked things up in his place, but honestly he finished the year with 14 receptions on 19 targets, and his cap hit goes up to nearly $4 million in 2019, which is too much for what he’s bringing to the table. Better to get out from under that and bring in someone cheaper and better if we can.

#8 – Strongside Linebacker

Barkevious Mingo is signed through 2019, at a cap hit of $4.4 million, which isn’t outrageous, but he was another guy who disappeared toward the end of the season. I feel like his spot could be better filled by someone younger and cheaper, probably in the draft.

#9 – Cornerback 3 (or 4)

You’d think I’d have this higher, since I’m essentially begging the team to re-sign Justin Coleman. But, the Seahawks always seem to find a way to get by with whoever they put over there. Ideally, Coleman is extended while they also draft (late) his future replacement. Akeem King should be back too, which gives us nice depth, as I thought he played pretty well down the stretch.

#10 – Running Back 3

Figure Carson is your RB 1 and Penny will elevate to RB 2, this is your Mike Davis spot, only probably younger and cheaper.

#11 – Quarterback 2

Don’t go breaking the bank on Brett Hundley, that’s all I’m saying. Really, don’t break the bank on anyone. In any scenario where Russell Wilson goes down, it’s tank-city.

#12 – Tight End

Vannett is still on his rookie deal through 2019 and he’s fine. Dissly should be back to 100% by Training Camp, so he’s also fine. Ed Dickson, however, sees his cap hit triple over the next two years. He’s ostensibly TE 1, but he had only 12 catches on 13 targets, so I’m not convinced that’s worthy of over $4 million per year, regardless of what he brings to the table with his blocking. Seems like we could get by with the other two and bring in another cheap vet.

Seahawks Death Week: The Free Agents

The Seahawks have a bunch of money opening up heading into 2019, which leads many to believe there’s going to be a feeding frenzy of free agents heading onto this team. However, there are guys on the Seahawks RIGHT NOW whose contracts are expiring, so that’s who we’re going to talk about today. Who should the Seahawks retain, and who should they let go?

The Big Names

Earl Thomas – There isn’t even a question; we can want Earl to come back until we’re blue in the face, but it ain’t happenin’. Even if HE wanted to come back, though, I don’t think it would be a good idea. I mean, yeah, he’s elite. When he’s healthy, he’s the best in the game. But, 2018 was his third consecutive season cut short due to injuries. It’s just not a smart investment. He needs to move on.

K.J. Wright – All year, I’ve been under the impression that 2018 would be the last we’d see of K.J. Wright, but towards the end you could’ve talked me into a 1-year, prove-it deal with a lot of incentives instead of guarantees. I still think I’d be okay with that, but let’s get real, that knee isn’t getting any healthier. He’s great when he’s on the field, but how many games can we count on him for? Also, how soon will his decline start? I’d put good money he’s not the same in 2019. I think he also needs to move on.

Frank Clark – Gotta keep him. I’m not gonna say you pay him whatever it takes – I wouldn’t give him Ndamukong Suh or Aaron Donald money – but pay him what he’s worth. If that makes him the second-highest cap figure on the team, so be it, because he’s worth it.

Sebastian Janikowski – He’s gotta go. If he hadn’t injured himself in the playoff game, you MAYBE could’ve talked me into another year. He wasn’t THAT bad in 2018; he wasn’t anywhere near as awful as Blair Walsh. I essentially got what I expected out of Janikowski; he’s not perfect and he never was. But, he’s steady. He made 48/51 extra points and 22/27 field goals (including 3/5 from 50+ which is pretty good). Was I turned off by that kickoff return he gave up, where he didn’t even try to touch the runner blowing past him? Yeah, but again, I know who this guy is. I know what to expect. But, that leg injury – combined with the fact that he already missed 2017 due to injury – just makes it untenable. If anything, bring him back in a kicking competition, but instead of having him as the lead dog like he was this season, make him the underdog and give the advantage to a younger guy. Or, shit, just draft a kicker in the 6th round and be done with it!

The Semi-Big Names

Dion Jordan – I like the idea. I like the idea of buying low on a super-stud athlete with a HUGE upside whose career was derailed by injuries and knuckleheadery. But, the dude just can’t stay on the field and even when he’s on the field it doesn’t seem like he makes much of an impact. Time to cut ties and give his spot to someone else.

D.J. Fluker & J.R. Sweezy – I’m lumping these two together because I want them both back! These guys were difference-makers for our offensive line (and therefore our entire offense). Now, obviously, they’re injury-prone, so you have to get some value for that. And you HAVE TO build in protections in case we have to cut and run after 2019. But, I wouldn’t mind giving both of these guys 3-year deals (that are really 2-year deals, but can easily be cut down to 1-year deals without a ton of dead money). Never change your contract structure, NFL! It’s the only thing keeping me sane!

Mike Davis – He made $1.35 million in 2018, which is right in the ballpark of what I don’t mind spending on a running back insurance policy. Anything significantly higher than $1.5 million is probably too much. He was a guy we just got off the street; I’m sure there are others just like him who will give us just as much. He’s not a priority, but I’d like him back at the right price.

Mychal Kendricks – I absolutely want him back! Give him K.J.’s spot if you have to! This guy is a difference-maker, and (God forbid) if Bobby were to go down, he’s a guy who can slide into the middle and allow our defense to not miss much of a beat. Given his 2018, you have to figure his value is pretty low. And, given our loyalty, you have to figure we have an inside shot if we present a good deal for him. This is a no-brainer.

Justin Coleman – He earned just a shade under $3 million in 2018, which is tremendous value. Considering this team really hasn’t developed anyone behind him to take over in that nickel role, I think the Seahawks have to do almost whatever it takes to extend him for another 3-4 years. Remember that old Jeremy Lane deal? Something like that would sit just fine with me.

Shamar Stephen – Ehh, no thanks. He was on a 1-year veteran deal and our rush defense was as bad as I’ve ever seen it! Isn’t that what he was brought in for? Wasn’t that his one selling point? I’m beginning to wonder if we didn’t get rid of the wrong ex-Viking defensive tackle; there’s no way Tom Johnson could’ve been worse, right?

Maurice Alexander – Why? Did he do ANYTHING this year? Maybe as camp fodder, but he’s not necessary.

Brett Hundley – Why did we trade a 2019 sixth round pick for this guy? NO! Go away Brett Hundley!

The Restricted Free Agents

I’m pretty sure these are the guys who you put a value on (first round, second round, or original round tender) and if some other team swoops in with a Godfather deal, you get either a first, second, or original round draft pick in the upcoming draft. So, let’s get to it! I’m not going to talk about all the guys, because I don’t KNOW all the guys, but I’ll throw a nod to the no-names at the end.

George Fant – Fant went undrafted, so you gotta tag him with either a first or second round value. A first rounder is a hair under $4.5 million; a second rounder is just over $3 million. I think the Seahawks should absolutely try to extend him, but failing that, I think you saddle him with a first round tender. The NFL is in desperate need of capable offensive linemen, and say what you will about the Seahawks, but they’ve developed A LOT of guys for other teams. Tender him and see what happens, but try to bring him back.

J.D. McKissic – He also went undrafted, but I don’t think I’m tendering him at all. He’s another dime-a-dozen guy at a dime-a-dozen position. He earned pennies in 2018, so if you want to bring him back for pennies, fine. But, it’s not necessary.

Tyler Ott – The ol’ long snapper! Don’t tender him, but yes try to bring him back.

Joey Hunt – An original round tender is interesting, because he was selected in the 6th round, and you could see someone else signing him to be their starting center. But, the risk there is that no one signs him, and his salary leaps from $630,000 to a little over $2 million. For a guy who might be 3rd on the depth chart at center, assuming Pocic is still in line to play behind Britt, that’s not money well spent. Forgetting the tender, I don’t think his services are really needed, but he’s not bad as camp fodder if no one else wants him.

Quinton Jefferson – Now, this is interesting, because I thought he took a step forward in 2018. Not huge; he’s not a guy you HAVE to have. But, considering he used to be a guy I thought of as a bust, it’s nice that he’s built up some value. He was originally a 5th round pick, and I would have no problem giving him an original round tender. I might even go as high as a 2nd rounder, though that feels like pushing it. I’d do that and give him another year to prove if he’s worth a longer-term deal.

Branden Jackson – He was a guy I had a lot of hopes for heading into 2018, but he finished the season as a healthy scratch most weeks. He went undrafted and doesn’t seem to be worth tendering. Another camp guy on a minimum deal at best.

Tre Madden – He’s a fullback, he’s not worth tendering. Minimum 1-year deal.

The Rest of the Restricted Free Agents – Kalan Reed (CB), T.J. Green (S). Who? Exactly.

I’m not going to get into the Exclusive Rights Free Agents, because there’s no risk. These guys are essentially ON the team, unless the team opts to not bring them back. Guys like Akeem King, David Moore, Austin Calitro, Jordan Simmons, and Shalom Luani should all be back.

Not Winners & Losers Of The Seahawks’ Game Against The Vikings

Looks like we DIDN’T need to take the Vikings seriously!

What an odd game.  It went sort of the way I thought it might, then again totally against expectations!  True:  the Seahawks did struggle to move the ball in general; but actually we ran the ball better than I ever could’ve imagined, 42 times for 214 yards and a 5.1 yard average.  The passing game for both teams was non-existent, which amounted to the Seahawks clinging to a 3-0 lead through three quarters before putting them away – following a late scoring spree – by a final of 21-7.

What I’m Geeked Out About After Thirteen Games

This was the most impressive defensive effort of the season by these Seahawks.  Sure, they were pretty overwhelming against the Raiders in London, and they were all over the place against the Cowboys early in the season, but this was complete and total domination, against a highly-rated offense.  I mean, it doesn’t sound like a lot, but the Seahawks held Diggs & Thielen to a combined 9 catches for 146 yards.  When you figure how much of the Vikings’ offense revolves around those two guys, that’s pretty amazing.  Thielen in particular was held in check, as I don’t think he even had a target his way until the second half!

The Seahawks only ended up with a couple sacks, but were in Cousins’ face all night.  He rarely had a clean pocket, and was frequently running for his life.  Of course, with the coverage being so tight down field, this harmonious convergence was something we’ve been waiting for all year with this team.  Nice to see everyone stepping up when it matters most!

Other Things That Caught My Eye (In A Good Way)

Hey, where do you think YOU’RE going?!  I’m not done talking about the defense!

How about that night by Frank Clark?  He was a BEAST!  4 Tackles (1 for loss), a sack, and a couple hits on the QB.  How about Jacob Martin with his second career sack!  How about his sack turning into a fumble that Justin Coleman picked up and took back to the house?!

Also, how about those cornerbacks?  Griffin and Flowers combined for 15 tackles and 3 passes defended; they tightened up their games in a big way!

HOW ABOUT BOBBY WAGNER JUMPING OVER THE LINE AND BLOCKING A FIELD GOAL?!?!?!

Was it legal?  FUCK YOU AND YOUR PRECIOUS RULES!  The guy just did something fucking amazing, so how about we appreciate a physical act that the vast majority of humanity would be too afraid to even TRY, let alone have the ability to achieve it!

Also, how about a quick shout-out to Akeem King for a nasty blitz and an even nastier hit on the quarterback to force an incompletion?!

All in all, the defense was the star of the show, so what’s the point in talking about anything else?

Let’s Talk About Chris Carson

He’s been dealing with nagging injuries all year – he dislocated a fucking FINGER in last week’s game – and yet there he was, dragging around those Vikings defenders for extra yards and extra first downs.  90 yards on 22 carries and a TD doesn’t sound like a whole lot, but that was a MAN’S performance last night!  I still contend that Vikings run defense is stout, and Carson – with a little help from the O-Line, of course – made them look ordinary.  In the days leading up to the game, they all talked a good game – particularly Sheldon Richardson and Tom Johnson, ex-Seahawks – but in the end those guys were non-factors.

Yes, there’s committment to the run and all that, but this thing is extra special when Carson is back there running over fools.  On the year, he’s carried it 179 times for 794 yards (4.4 per touch) and 5 TDs.  Again, that doesn’t sound like a whole lot, but considering what he’s had to deal with injurywise, combined with the fact that this offense really likes to spread the love around, I think it’s remarkable.

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

David Moore had a pretty bad game.  His best play was probably preventing an interception on an under-thrown deep ball by Wilson.  There was a picture-perfect touchdown opportunity, but he failed to drag his foot down in bounds.  That was the same drive that ended the half on an interception, so it ended up being a 7-point mistake in what was a 3-0 game for three quarters.

Speaking of which, Russell Wilson had probably his worst game in a winning effort.  37.9 passer rating.  10/20 for only 72 yards and an INT.  His day was somewhat salvaged by the 61 yards on the ground (40 of which came on a single play), but otherwise he was a non-factor.  I think he could’ve turned it around if we needed him to, but the run game was working so well, it was okay to write this one off.

It was a bummer that Doug Baldwin couldn’t go, as he was sorely missed in the passing game.  But, at this point, the Seahawks are 8-5 and just need to beat either the 49ers or Cardinals to guarantee a playoff spot.  Better to get guys like Baldwin and Fluker and whoever else completely healthy for the playoffs.  We’re gonna need those dudes when it’s Loser Goes Home!

Not Winners & Losers Of The Seahawks’ Game Against The 49ers

Super fun win on Sunday at CenturyLink, as the Seahawks and 49ers were the first teams in NFL history to combine for a 43-16 score.  The Seahawks were favored by double-digits and this was one of those kinds of games where far too often you see us play down to the level of our competition and eke out an ugly win by 3 points, followed by everyone talking about how it doesn’t matter how pretty it was as long as a win is a win is a win is a blah blah blah.  Not this time.  After some predictable early-game struggles, we eventually went up 20-0 and didn’t look back.

What I’m Geeked Out About After Twelve Games

Russell Wilson, one more time.  11/17 for only 185 yards, but a whopping 4 TDs against 0 INTs.  Check out this season through three quarters:  2,716 yards (on pace for around 3,621), 8.33 yards per attempt (a career high by a fraction of a yard), 29 TDs (already his third-most in a season), 5 INTs, and a 115.5 passer rating (which would easily be a career high if he can keep it up).  There’s raw passing numbers, and there’s efficiency, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a guy who’s more efficient, either this season or over the course of a career.

Other Things That Caught My Eye (In A Good Way)

You can’t do what he’s doing without the offensive line playing the way they’ve been playing.  We’ve always said, “If Russell Wilson ever had time in the pocket, he’d be among the best in the game,” and this year is living proof.  There were a few too many penalties for my liking (some legit, some REALLY ticky-tack), but otherwise Wilson had a clean pocket most of the day, and when he was heavily pressured (like on that one ugly sack near the 49ers goalline), I would argue the receivers or running backs let him down by missing assignments.

The proof is also in the pudding in the run game.  A week after Carolina brought us down to Earth a little bit, we had a quietly explosive game against a pretty solid 49ers run defense:  168 yards on 29 carries (5.8 per attempt) and a TD.  Carson led the way with 69 (nice), but Penny had 65 of his own (including a nifty 20-yard TD scamper) on nearly half the attempts.

Defensively, I mean, Bobby Wagner should probably be the MVP of this one:  12 tackles, 1 sack, 2 QB hits, 2 passes defended, 1 simultaneous forced fumble/fumble recovery, and a 98-yard interception returned for a touchdown (the longest in franchise history … LOB WHO MOTHERFUCKERS???).  Best Middle Linebacker In Football Hands Down No Questions Asked Thank U Next.

Elsewhere, Justin Coleman had a monster game with 10 tackles and half a sack.  Austin Calitro was all over the place in the stead of K.J. Wright.  Poona Ford was a load in the middle.  Frank Clark was in Nick Mullens’ pocket all day.  For a unit that ended up giving up 452 yards of offense (mostly in garbage time), that was a helluva game.  I mean, largely due to their ineptitude, the 49ers ran 74 plays to Seattle’s 49, so the Seahawks’ defense had to contend with a modest time imbalance.  A lot of heart on that side of the ball to hold them to just 16 points.

Getting back to the offense, kudos to Jaron Brown for his 2 TDs.  Tyler Lockett had a 52-yard score and a massive kickoff return to start the third quarter (which immediately preceeded Penny’s touchdown).  And Doug Baldwin even got in on the action with a 1-yard score.  Fantastic all-around day by these guys.

Let’s Talk About Competitions

The youth is really starting to stand out, and it’s a good sign of things to come.  The Seahawks should have plenty of money to spread around this offseason, and they’ll have a lot of fun decisions to make.  Frank Clark needs to be extended; that has to be Priority #1.  I would argue Jarran Reed is Priority #2.  I think the aforementioned Calitro could be a great fit to slide into K.J.’s role alongside Wagner.  I do ultimately think the Seahawks will look at the secondary in this year’s draft, but it’s nice to see Thompson and Hill making strides as the season has progressed.  We talk all the time about Griffin and Flowers – and rightly so – but it’s nice to see the depth in this secondary start to approach prior glories.  It’ll never be as good as it was, but to come close is something special.

On the flipside, how smart was that decision to extend Lockett when we did?  Between him, getting Doug healthy again next year, with David Moore and Jaron Brown rounding out the group, we’re set at wide receiver.  We’re also set at running back with Carson as the lead dog and the emergence of Penny as a change-of-pace threat to break it at any time.  That speed and explosiveness is what we expected all along from the first rounder, so it’s nice to see it finally showing up in games.

There’s a lot of quality youth on this team.  If we can just keep the offensive line intact, 2019 could really be something special, assuming we can fill in some of the holes with free agency.

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

Obviously not a great day by the kicker.  Gladly, it didn’t come close to affecting the outcome; let’s just hope this is a random anomaly and he got all his bad kicks out in a laugher.

Ultimately, it looks like Carson’s finger injury won’t matter too much (though, you hate to see a guy prone to fumbling injure any part of his hands).  But, the hamstring injury to Fluker seems like a crusher.  He could be out for a few games, the rest of the regular season, or put on IR and lost entirely.  You hate to see something so serious happen towards the end of a game that’s been largely decided, so let’s hope for the best.

The Seahawks Are Ready To Ramp Up For The Playoffs

That was just a terrific football game on Sunday, from start to finish!  The Seahawks got the ball first (of course) and went 3 & Out (of course).  The Panthers proceeded to drive all the way down to inside the Seattle 10 yard line, and this one looked like it was gonna go sideways in a hurry.  But, an unexpected wrinkle:  we held them to 4th & 2 and prevented them from converting!  It was as close as could be, and we certainly benefitted from what appeared to be a favorable spot, but all in all we held when we needed to, and this game took on a different feeling.

Not right away, of course.  We punted on our very next possession, then Wilson missed an open touchdown to Doug Baldwin, but early in the second quarter it was 3-3 and based on the way the game was played to that point, it felt like we should’ve been down by two scores.

I’ll say this about the Panthers:  their offense with Norv Turner at the helm was and is absolutely phenomenal.  Cam Newton is as good as he’s ever been, Christian McCaffrey is the ultimate offensive weapon, and they’ve got enough young talent at receiver to be even more potent when they get a little more experience and learn to gel.  This thing – barring any health issues – could be a juggernaut in 2019.

I mean, 125 yards on 17 rushes for McCaffrey, plus another 112 yards on a whopping 11 receptions!  The Seahawks’ pass rush isn’t any great shakes as it is, but when Newton is holding the ball for a millisecond and getting it into McCaffrey’s hands with a ton of open yards in front of him on seemingly every play, it was truly a genius-level game-plan by the Panthers.  The Seahawks’ defense, by its nature, is always going to allow the checkdown, so defaulting to the checkdown as your primary route – before whoever is supposed to come cover the running back out in the flat has time to get there – is absolutely the correct play call 9 times out of 10.  Quite honestly, I wondered if the Seahawks were ever going to shadow McCaffrey; the answer to that question was:  NOPE!

I don’t know how the Seahawks prevailed, except I do know, and his name is Russell Motherfucking Wilson.

Sorry to write almost 400 words before I get to my abandoned premise for these recap posts, but …

What I’m Geeked Out About After Eleven Games

It’s Russell Wilson!  The guy is phenomenal!  Sure, he missed that early TD to Baldwin, but he finished 22/31 for 339 and 2 TDs against 0 INTs!  The Panthers were taking away the run, loading up the box with practically the entire defense.  And, when they weren’t holding our running backs to a 2.7 yards per carry average on 28 attempts, they were blitzing the hell out of my boy!  The Panthers got to him for a couple sacks, but he made them pay for their disrespect so many more times.

Other Things That Caught My Eye (In A Good Way)

Tyler Lockett, dare I say it, is the best receiver on this team!  5 for 107 and a TD.  I know Doug Baldwin has been hurt all year, and that’s hampering his numbers quite a bit, but Lockett has really stepped up this year, and John Schneider is a very smart man for signing him to that extension when he did.  Perfect timing, perfect value, and I’m glad Lockett is going to be a Seahawk for many years to come.

Also, Doug Baldwin, who has had a knee issue dating back to Training Camp, came down with a groin pull earlier last week in practice.  He was by no means a lock to play in this one, but he gutted it out and came up pretty big.

Can’t leave out David Moore, who caught the game-tying 35-yard touchdown on 4th & 3 late in the game.  Dude is a stud, no doubt about it.

Defensively, Bobby Wagner is the straw that stirs the drink.  11 more tackles for the best middle linebacker in the game.  You want to throw Luke Kuechly in my face?  Yeah, he’s pretty good too, but look at what he’s got around him and compare it to the string and duct tape job the Seahawks are pulling on defense.  Without Bobby, the Seahawks would EASILY be giving up 30+ points every game; it takes every ounce of his blood, sweat, and tears to keep this unit afloat until we sign some re-inforcements this upcoming offseason.

Tre Flowers didn’t have the best game, but he made a game-saving tackle on the Panthers’ final drive to hold them to a 52-yard field goal attempt that sailed wide-right.  More importantly, it saved the Seahawks almost two full minutes to drive down (with plenty of time to spare – so much time that we had to kneel twice to run down all the clock – thanks to our master quarterback) and kick the game-winner.  That tackle alone might’ve been the play of the game.

The Seahawks gave up 27 points in this one, but they held early and they held again late.  In a 3-point victory for the Seahawks, the Panthers left at least 6 points on the field because they couldn’t convert when it mattered most.

Also, it was cool to see Naz Jones make a play, when he’s been in the doghouse for most of the year.

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

I thought Frank Clark had a rare dud of a performance, in an otherwise amazing season.  He looked like he was chasing sacks (and his future millions) more than he was interested in containing Newton and limiting big chunk plays.  Now, to be fair – as I mentioned before – the Panthers schemed to get the ball out of Newton’s hands most of the day.  But, there were a few times Newton was able to scramble, and Frank just ran himself right out of the play.

The secondary, again, gave up a disturbing number of big plays that I’m going to hope is just growing pains for this unit as it eventually figures it out.  Again, an elite QB and all, but not something we’re used to seeing as Seahawks fans the last half-dozen years.

Also, shit man, you know McCaffrey is their best offensive player … maybe try to account for him on – I dunno – half of their plays at least?  How many GAPING holes did he run through unharmed?  Again, I’ll register my complaint that Poona Ford was a healthy scratch, as this is another one where run defense should’ve been our ultimate focus.

Maybe the run defense is just bad.  Where’s Tony McDaniel when you need him?

This team needs K.J. Wright in the worst way.  Let him get back to 100% – we have time, with some cupcakes coming up on the schedule – but if this team is going to get to the playoffs, and maybe even make some noise when they get there, we’re going to need Wright and Wagner leading the way together.