Seahawks Death Week: Guys To Cut Or Let Walk

I’ve ranted and raved (mostly just ranted, while offending poor Shrimpy), and I’ve talked about why the Seahawks are not likely to be blown up (but probably should be). Now, let’s get down to brass tacks and talk specific guys I never want to see again in a Seahawks uniform (unless it’s as a civilian raising the 12th Man Flag one day).

So, here’s the deal: the 2021 NFL salary cap is projected to be approximately $176 million. The 2020 cap was an all-time high of approximately $198 million. It had been going up – since 2013 – $10 million to $12 million per year, with no end in sight given how profitable the league is in the United States and increasingly around the world. It’s the top-rated program on television, generating tons of ad revenue, which makes the rights deals with networks astronomical, and all teams share in the profits (making the NFL, essentially, a socialist entity, and a large percentage of its fans supporters of socialism in a way; but that’s neither here nor there). However, given the pandemic (and the lack of fans allowed to attend games in person), a serious chunk of revenue was lost for the 2020 season (and possibly part of the 2021 season, depending on how the vaccine rollout goes). As such, every team lost approximately $22 million dollars to spend on players.

This hurts a team like the Seahawks more than most. Ever since, probably, 2015 or so, the Seahawks have been up against the salary cap limit every single year. NFL teams can roll over any unspent cap money into the following year; we haven’t been able to do that, since we’re paying our existing players (and a small number of former players) all of that money. With our superstar players – Russell Wilson, obviously, at the top – accounting for such a high percentage of our salary cap, the Seahawks have had to make due by filling out the bottom two thirds of our roster with rookies and veterans making the minimum.

At the time of this writing, the Seahawks’ salary cap figure for 2021 already sits at approximately $162 million of our projected $176 million. That accounts for 35 players under contract, when we have to fill out a regular season roster of 53 players, plus a practice squad (somewhere between 10-16 players, depending on what the league decides in the offseason), plus money left over for replacement players making the league minimum when our regular roster guys hit the Injured Reserve.

Clearly, moves will need to be made. Players will need to be cut. And, 2020 guys whose contracts have expired will be thanked for their services and allowed to sign elsewhere. The following are the guys I hope – as I said before – to never see again on a playing field with the Seattle Seahawks.

I don’t have a lot of cuts. Really, it’s probably just one guy: Bobby Wagner. So, let’s start there.

Wagner is set to count over $17 million against our cap in 2021. He also just earned his sixth First Team All Pro honor. So, why would you cut a guy playing at such a high level? Well, I would argue the eye test says he’s on the downside of his career, and he’s only going to get worse from here. If we cut him now, it’s only $7.5 million in dead money we have to endure, which is nearly $10 million in savings (minus whatever minimal amount we’d pay to whoever replaces him on the roster). I would argue, given how cash-strapped we are, we HAVE to cut Wagner, just to fill out our roster! But, I would also argue that the difference between Wagner and a replacement-level player (or Wagner and Jordyn Brooks, if he happens to slide over to the middle linebacker spot) is not as great as you’d think. It’s certainly not worth the extra $10 million we’d be paying a 31 year old Wagner.

Unfortunately, what with him being a surefire NFL Hall of Famer and a guy whose jersey number the Seahawks will surely retire one day, I don’t see that happening. Maybe AFTER the 2021 season – when the dead cap figure is only $3.75 million – but even then, who knows? It could get REALLY frustrating trying to root for this guy the next couple years; here’s to hoping that the Seahawks do the smart thing – the unemotional thing – and let us all go out on a high note, rather than letting the relationship sour like so many others before (Earl Thomas, Richard Sherman, Michael Bennett, Kam Chancellor, Cliff Avril – the last two due to career-ending injuries, but still a financial drain to this organization).

Two other candidates are Carlos Dunlap and Duane Brown. Dunlap has zero dead money counting against our cap if we cut him; otherwise, if his contract remains as is, he would be worth a hair over $14 million. That, obviously, isn’t happening. Not to say he isn’t worth it! He really changed the face of this defense when he came over from the Bengals! But, that price is too high for our cap. What I think will happen – given that Dunlap will only be 32 and still highly productive – is that the Seahawks will tear up the contract and sign him to a 3-year deal that’s team-friendly in the first year, with a significant guarantee for 2022, and a signing bonus that can be spread out over the life of the deal (maybe tacking on a non-guaranteed 4th year to make the salary cap right).

As for Brown, he’ll be entering the final year of his extension that would count $13 million against us (with only $2 million in dead money if we cut him). This is another guy I don’t think we can afford to leave as is and let his contract play out. He’ll be 36 years old next year. Now, he too played at a pretty high level in 2020, but if you saw what I saw in that playoff game – with how much difficulty he had in just getting up off the turf and moving around – you’d see a guy who’s not long for this league. At the very least, he’s not someone who will be playing at a high level for very much longer. He’s one knee injury away from his career being over, and that injury could come at any time. The problem is, we have no viable replacement on our roster. Anyone we do have is either injury prone or terrible (particularly as a left tackle). We could sign someone for cheap, but we’ve done that before (in the period post-Russell Okung to pre-Duane Brown, most recently) and it never works out. We could draft someone, but considering we hardly have any draft picks at all – and the ones we do have are QUITE low – anyone we ended up bringing in would be worse than the crappy veterans at our disposal.

Quite frankly, from a talent standpoint, we’re at least a year away from replacing Brown (and that’s assuming we manage to draft his replacement THIS year and hope that guy develops in a hurry). I don’t know what the plan with him was heading into 2020, but I don’t think it was to make him a cap casualty by 2021. On the contrary, I think the Seahawks are setting up to give him yet another extension, for a year or two beyond 2021, which I am absolutely dreading. But, if we want any hope whatsoever to contend next season, we’ll need to pray he can hang on.

***

I’ll close this post with a list of the no-brainers, but first here are some of the … brainers, I guess.

K.J. Wright had a fantastic 2020 season. He’s had a fabulous Seahawks career since we drafted him in 2011! But, he counted $10 million against us this year and that’s just not anywhere near a figure we can approach in 2021. Since I have no belief that the Seahawks will do the right thing with Wagner, then they MUST cut the cord with Wright and make Brooks a full-time linebacker in his second season out of college. Otherwise, why the fuck did you draft him so high in the first place?

Chris Carson’s rookie deal just expired. I won’t say he’s shot, but he’s never NOT going to be injury-prone! Considering how great he’s been when healthy, he’s going to demand a high salary; but since he can’t stay healthy, it makes no sense to pay him that, when we can get similar production from a cheaper guy (who hopefully will be able to stay on the field). I would also say that Carson – while building his reputation as a guy who sought out contact – spent the majority of his time (when he returned from injury this past season) avoiding contact and running out of bounds. Not that I blame him, mind you! He’s gotta get his! But, he’s obviously not the same type of guy when he’s avoiding defenders.

Ethan Pocic earned a little over $1 million as this team’s starting center in the final year of his rookie deal. Presumably, he’ll be looking for a raise if he re-signs. Since he STUNK against the Rams – and since he was average-at-best in all the other games – I see no reason why we couldn’t draft a guy (or even bring in an undrafted free agent) to be our starting center next year.

Shaquill Griffin’s final season under his own rookie deal just expired. He’s a good-not-great coverage corner with little-to-no ball skills and hardly any interceptions on his resume. Nevertheless, he’s going to be looking for a contract near the top of the market (not in the top tier, but definitely in the one right below it). That hypothetically could work under our cap – since the first year of any extension is relatively cheap, with most of the money being back-loaded – but considering the guys we have to pay, and also factoring in an extension for Jamal Adams, I don’t see how the Seahawks fit him in. We have D.J. Reed at less than $1 million, plus Tre Flowers if we have to start him again. I think we’ll get by.

David Moore just earned $1 million in 2020, and that was money well spent. I could see him commanding more money on the open market, and I don’t see why we should be the team to give it to him, since we have Freddie Swain on a rookie contract. For a third/fourth receiver? There are other ways to go.

This probably should go without saying, but I’m going to say it anyway because I feel like it needs to be said: LET GREG OSLEN GO INTO BROADCASTING! Fucking $7 million dollars (*shaking head*).

Jacob Hollister was tendered and kept on at over $3 million. That was unnecessary, and will be even MORE unnecessary in 2021. We have Will Dissly, Colby Parkinson (who we drafted relatively highly in 2020), and any number of youngish guys, as well as Luke Willson (who is always partying on the scrap heap, just waiting for us to bring him back). We don’t use the tight end enough to justify paying as much money as we do on it, not when we mostly need it for blocking purposes. Blocking tight ends are – like linebackers and running backs – another dime-a-dozen position group.

Finally, here are the guys who it should go without saying that we should let walk:

Mike Iupati – great career, but you’re done.

Quinton Dunbar – bust of a trade acquisition, bust of a player, bust of a human being (even if he wasn’t convicted of anything, he still probably did something sketchy).

Lano Hill – please, no more.

Neiko Thorpe – a once-great special teams ace who can’t stay healthy. Salud.

Phillip Dorsett – a nice idea as a free agent, but he never played a down. Wide receivers need healthy feet to be worth a damn.

Seahawks Do Just Enough To Defeat Football Team

Look, a 20-15 win is a 20-15 win. We’re on to the Rams.

The Seahawks looked great for most of the first three quarters of this one. The gameplan was sound: get the ball out of Wilson’s hands before he gets killed. That meant short, quick passes (with a long of only 15 yards, and very few shots deep downfield, all incomplete); he completed 18/27 for 121 yards and quite frankly was just SLIGHTLY off all day. We nearly had a long TD to Freddie Swain, but one of his feet came down out of bounds. We had David Moore wide open down the other sideline, but he overshot him by about two yards out of the back of the endzone. Wilson’s lone pick was a tipped ball that looked to be heading into heavy coverage.

It seemed to me that Wilson had it beaten into his brain that this Washington defensive front was going to destroy him, and he was a little jittery as a result. Which, you know, the way he’s taken a beating this season, I don’t blame him! Probably better to be a half second too early than a half second too late against this unit.

And either way, it worked. With Dwayne Haskins at quarterback, the Seahawks’ defense didn’t need to do too much, and quite frankly shouldn’t have had to do too much! So, why put Wilson in harm’s way in a game we can just eke out the way we did?

Haskins was as miserable as ever through most of the first three quarters of this one. He ended up completing 38/55 for 295 yards, but only a 5.4 yards per attempt average. He’s not accurate. He’s ESPECIALLY not accurate down field. We never had to worry about that, and as a result, we could give him all the underneath routes he could handle. And, for most of the game, he couldn’t even hit THOSE receivers with any consistency. Finally, as this game headed into the final quarter, Haskins started to nail those checkdowns. But, it took drives of 14 and 11 plays and a combined 9:46 in game clock to score their two touchdowns.

Things started to look marginally worrying on Washington’s final drive of the game, as once again they were able to dink and dunk into Seattle territory. But, considering they needed a touchdown (a field goal would’ve done them no good considering how much time was left), I still felt relatively secure that Seattle would pull it out. And, sure enough, L.J. Collier and Carlos Dunlap recorded back-to-back sacks to force them into a 4th & 24 Hail Mary situation that fell incomplete to end the game.

Outside of those last three drives, the Seahawks’ defense once again looked phenomenal! They had four more sacks on the day (including number 9.5 by Jamal Adams), hit the quarterback 8 times, and knocked down 7 passes. Also, not for nothing, but we had two interceptions in this one, and I’m honestly surprised we didn’t get more! D.J. Reed was a man possessed, mostly stifling Scary Terry. And Shaquill Griffin seemed to rarely see any targets in this one at all. Most of Washington’s offense went through the tight end and running back checkdowns, which we will take all day.

Offensively for the Seahawks, the story was all about the run game. 181 yards on 26 carries for the team. Carlos Hyde had a 50-yard touchdown to kick off the second half. Chris Carson led the way with 63 on 15 carries. Even Wilson had a 38-yard scramble; he finished with 52 yards on 6 carries.

The receivers didn’t do much in this one, as it looked like it was tough to get open, especially in the second half. There was a scare early on, when it looked like D.K. Metcalf might’ve rolled an ankle or torn a knee ligament, but he finished the game in okay shape.

There were some developments this week, as the Seahawks advanced to 10-4 and officially clinched a playoff spot. The Saints lost to the Chiefs, to drop to 10-4. The Packers had no trouble winning to take the lead in the race to the top seed at 11-3. BUT, the craziest thing of the entire season happened in the afternoon: the Rams lost – at home – to the winless Jets. That means the Rams are now 9-5 and – if we beat them next week – we will clinch the NFC West title. That’s the good news.

The bad news, of course, is that if we hadn’t screwed that Giants game, next week wouldn’t matter as long as we beat the 49ers in Week 17. Also, if we hadn’t screwed that Giants game, we’d still be in legitimate contention for the #1 seed. But, that’s in the past; spilled milk and all that.

Here’s what we’ve got to look forward to: the Seahawks currently have the 3-seed. Assuming things stay the same the rest of the way – and we beat the Rams to win the division – that means we’d end up playing the 6-seed in the first round of the playoffs. The Saints currently have a tiebreaker edge over Seattle because they’ve won one more conference game (they would need to lose to either the Vikings or Panthers the next two weeks to fall under us).

Right now the Rams and Bucs are tied at 9-5, with the Rams having a tiebreaker edge over the Bucs because they beat them head-to-head. The Bucs finish up against Detroit and Atlanta, two terrible squads. Now, the Seahawks MUST win the NFC West … but there’s a strong chance that – in doing so – we will knock the Rams into the 6th seed, meaning we will have to play them again in the first round of the playoffs.

The last thing we want is to have to play as a Wild Card team, but the second-to-last thing we want is to have to play the fucking Rams for a third time! So, there’s something else to fucking dread, just in case you needed a put-me-down (the opposite of a pick-me-up?) as we slide into Christmas this week.

That Seahawks Game Was Harder Than It Needed To Be

What a HORRIFIC back-door cover!

Look, you never feel confident when you have money on the Seahawks. They should be killing a lot of these teams – and really, this is dating back to the glory years of 2012-2014 – but all too frustratingly often, they play down to the level of their competition. It means, of course, that they’re never out of any game, even against the best of opponents. But, it also means you get games like the one last night, where we beat an inept Eagles squad by 6 points.

The line ended up at the Seahawks being favored by 6.5. If you caught it early in the week, or even as late as Thanksgiving morning, you would’ve had the Seahawks -5 and all would’ve been golden. But, if you dilly-dallied and waited until the last minute, you missed out on a lot of money being bet on the Seahawks, driving that line up to where it ended. And, if you’re one of those poor souls, I’M SO SORRY! You must feel like putting a gun in your mouth, or at least in the mouths of all your enemies, starting with whoever made the decision for the Eagles to needlessly go for two when they scored their meaningless TD to give the game its final score of 23-17.

This was a hard game to watch from the very beginning, unless you’re into stout defenses mucking it up. The entire first quarter was scoreless, if that does anything for you (pity the poor saps who bet the OVER in this one). But, the Seahawks put up back-to-back scoring drives in the second quarter to go up 14-0. We would’ve been on easy street – as we forced Carson Wentz into an obvious Intentional Grounding penalty on the next drive (that would’ve allowed the Seahawks ample time to score again to go up 21-0, which I’m convinced would’ve happened, as our offense was really humming at that point), except the refs fucking blew it.

For any NFL referees who need the rules explained to them, here’s a quick overview on Intentional Grounding: regardless of whether or not the quarterback is out of the pocket, when he’s throwing the ball away, it needs to go beyond the line of scrimmage. Carson Wentz, in this case, threw the ball out of bounds. The assistant who was standing there caught the ball, EASILY a good three yards behind the line of scrimmage. If he just stood there holding the ball, waving it in his arms and pointing to the line of scrimmage, he could have easily shown the refs how badly they bungled the play, giving them an opportunity to drop a flag. Instead, none of that happened, and the ref – who was a good 30 yards back, where Wentz was about to get swallowed up – decided not to seek anyone else’s help in making the correct call.

Of course, the Eagles went on to score on that drive, pulling the game to 14-6 at halftime.

The Eagles were thoroughly energized after that. We could’ve put them away in the first half, and their defense would’ve given up – seeing how ineptly, once again, their offense was performing – but the refs fucked us, and so the ugly game continued on.

The Seahawks were only able to put up three field goal drives in the second half, but with the defense absolutely overwhelming the Eagles, it was more than enough. The lead peaked at 23-9 with just over a minute to go in the game. With the differential being a full 14 points, you had to figure even if they did get a garbage touchdown (which, of course they did), there would be ZERO point in going for two in that scenario. You kick the PAT, fuck up the onside kick, and bingo-bango-bongo the game is over!

I’ll pour one out for the degenerates out there, though. That’s as bad – and unnecessary – of a beat as I’ve ever seen.

Getting back to the game itself, that was a tremendous effort from the defense! The Eagles punted five times in the first half alone (and, again, it should’ve been six!). We held them on downs twice in the second half, and caught the biggest gift of an interception in the history of football (because 2020 Carson Wentz is clearly as broken as we all are in this year of chaos). Not only that, but we sacked him six times! And, if you were wondering, that gives us 31 on the year (already more than we had in all of 2019, with five more games to play), which puts us tied for 7th in the NFL, just a month or so after being at or near the bottom. What a turnaround!

Russell Wilson had a nothing game, 230 yards and just the one TD (though it was as pretty of a goalline fade to David Moore as you’ll ever see), but he didn’t turn the ball over, and in a game like this, that means everything.

D.K. Metcalf was the star in this one, catching 10 balls for 177 yards, and absolutely ABUSING Darius Slay (who was matched up against him almost all night). On top of that, he forced the Eagles into a couple of Unsportsmanlike Conduct penalties by being overly aggressive in blocking for his teammates, which I always love to see.

It was great having Chris Carson back, though clearly the Seahawks were taking it easy with him. Carson ran the ball only 8 times for 41 yards, and the manliest of manly-man touchdowns you’ll see this year. Carlos Hyde got the bulk of the carries – 15 for 22 yards – but clearly no one is as effective as Carson (especially against a stout D-Line like what the Eagles have).

The Eagles’ defense as a whole made life pretty difficult for the Seahawks, though I would argue the right tackle did us very few favors. Cedric Ogbuehi is a HUGE drop-off compared to Brandon Shell, and it was noticeable throughout the game. He didn’t get better as the night went on, I’ll tell you that much; there’s a reason why he’s a backup tackle (and why he deserves to stay that way).

But, again, this night was all about the Seahawks’ defense. Jamal Adams, Rasheem Green, K.J. Wright, Poona Ford, and Benson Mayowa all had one sack each (Carlos Dunlap & Jarran Reed combined for a sack as well). They knocked down five balls and hit Wentz a whopping 12 times; he never really looked comfortable, not even when they were driving down for that final score of the night. That’s a Seahawks defensive performance reminiscent of old, and it was great to see.

The lone downer of the evening is Carlos Dunlap suffering a sprained foot and/or ankle. We don’t yet know how serious it is, but clearly that’s a huge blow. Thankfully, the next three games should look a lot like this one, and we probably don’t TOTALLY need him to win them. As long as he’s back for the final two, I promise I won’t freak out (very much).

It feels great that the Seahawks will be home for the next two, against the lowly New York teams. Time to take care of business.

As Expected: The Seahawks Lost A Weird One In Buffalo

You never quite know how it’s going to go, but like pornography, you know it when you see it. When the opening kickoff to the Bills sailed five yards deep into the endzone, and the return man ran it back 60 yards to set up Buffalo with a short field, you could tell this game had all the makings of exactly what I talked about in my Friday preview post:

I expect the Seahawks’ defense won’t look as good as it did a week ago. I expect a lot of Bills yards through the air. I expect the Seahawks on offense will need to rack up lots of points like it has all season. And … I expect weird, freaky mistakes might prevent us from accomplishing what we want to accomplish.

Let’s break it down. When you lose 44-34, I think it’s safe to say the defense didn’t look as good as it did a week ago. Josh Allen throwing for 415 yards is, indeed, a lot of Bills yards through the air. Buffalo jumped out to a 24-7 lead in the first half, and as the final score indicated, the Seahawks needed to rack up A LOT of points in this one. And, ultimately, the weird, freaky mistakes showed up in droves!

Russell Wilson had 2 interceptions and 2 lost fumbles, for starters. I know that sounds like a bad game – and it is – but I have a hard time blaming the quarterback for trying to do too much when the defense forces two punts all game and generates zero turnovers of its own. The best thing the defense did in the entire first half was hold Buffalo to a missed field goal as time expired. That was, of course, on a drive where they started on their own 25-yard line and had only 67 seconds in which to play with, so time constraints were on our side.

The defense did tighten up a little bit in the second half – as 13 of Buffalo’s 20 points in that time came off of turnovers – but the real back-breaker of the game happened on the 82-yard touchdown drive the Bills generated immediately after Seattle cut the deficit to seven points. You want to talk about weird, freaky mistakes? Take a look at the defense on THIS drive! We had them at 2nd & 20 near midfield, before giving up an 11-yard pass to make it 3rd & 9. We got immediate pressure AND a sack to force a punt … except Jamal Adams – making his return from a few weeks off with a groin injury – was flagged for an obvious illegal contact penalty. Then, after stuffing a run for -6 yards, we ultimately had them at 3rd & 16 before giving up a 33-yard wide receiver screen pass to get near the goalline, which made the touchdown all but automatic.

You know what’s probably the weirdest thing of this entire game? The defense generated SEVEN sacks, easily a season-high! You know what’s the second-weirdest thing of this entire game? The Bills were limited to only 34 yards rushing, 14 of which came off of quarterback scrambles. How does a defense get seven sacks, limit a team to those kinds of rushing numbers, and STILL manage to give up 44 points? I’ll tell you, it boggles the mind (and is best not to think about too much).

It does, I think, speak to another point I made in my last post, when I talked about this defense maybe needing a week or two to gel. Jamal Adams was the impact player he was before his injury, in both good and bad ways. He finished with 1.5 sacks and 3 QB hits, but he also looked VERY rusty out in coverage. Coverage was never his strongest suit, but he needs to clean that up considerably, because there were guys running free all over the field. Those might not have been all his own missed assignments, but he’s one of our safeties and as such, assumes a higher percentage of the blame when so many big chunk plays are given up.

Carlos Dunlap saw his first action since the trade from Cincinnati, and what a revelation! He finished with 1 sack, 3 tackles for loss, and 2 QB hits, which is simply outstanding for his first game! His presence clearly helped out everyone else, as Jarran Reed finished with 2.5 sacks, which involved cleaning up plays where Allen was forced up into the pocket and Reed’s open arms. Considering the rest of our line did relatively little (the other two sacks came from linebackers Wagner and Wright), I’d say Dunlap was a sight for the sorest of eyes.

Ultimately, this game was decided by the single biggest disappointment on the team: the secondary. Since we’re talking expectations vs. reality here, many might point to the pass rush as the biggest disappointment, but we all EXPECTED this part of the defense to stink! Conversely, we expected the secondary to be among the best in football, with newcomers Adams and Quinton Dunbar leading the way. Not having Shaquill Griffin in this one – due to injury – is probably the single biggest reason why we lost. Dunbar ended up starting in his place, and it was noted after the game he’s still dealing with a nagging knee injury that slowed him down considerably and led to many breakdowns in coverage. He ultimately had to be pulled from the game due to his ineffectiveness, and is looking like one of the bigger busts on this team. An injured Dunbar means more playing time for Tre Flowers – who has been better the last couple games, but still doesn’t look like he’ll ever be a valuable starter – and the trickle down from there is pretty significant (with Linden Stephens getting snaps at the end of the game. Who is that? Exactly).

It’s a bummer, because for a little while there in the second half, I did start to believe we were going to complete the comeback. Even after we blew it on that 82-yard drive, it seemed like we might be able to pull a rabbit out of our hat. But, the Bills on defense were able to tee off on our quarterback, and they weren’t giving up much in the way of deep passes (aside from a breakdown that led to a pretty 55-yard touchdown to David Moore). D.K. Metcalf had a huge presence in all the pre-game shows in the morning, and he delivered with 7 catches for 108 yards and a touchdown. But, it obviously wasn’t enough.

The lack of a run game was pretty alarming. I know the Seahawks have been letting Russ cook to an amazing result, but we still look our best when we have Chris Carson running between the tackles. The drop-off to DeeJay Dallas and Travis Homer (who combined for a miserable 47 yards on 13 carries) is ENORMOUS. They’re just not capable of getting those tough yards. They’re fine 3rd down backs, or in 2-minute situations, but I don’t know if we’ll ever be able to trust them as bellcow backs. Rashaad Penny, honestly, can’t come back soon enough for me.

But, as I said last week, this is probably the least-important game on our schedule. It took place clear across the country in Buffalo, NY. It’s an AFC opponent we likely won’t see again for another four years. And we’ve got a MUCH more important game coming up against the Rams. On top of which, the Dolphins did us a real solid by beating the Cardinals for us, so we still hold possession of the top spot in the NFC West (and are still tied for the #1 seed in the NFC).

I’m as unaffected by the outcome of this game as can be. I won’t say it’s a good thing, but it’s also not the end of the world. Anything that could have gone wrong did go wrong; that’s one of those performances you immediately flush, and if that shit tries to come back out of the bowl, you plunge that shit down until it’s eliminated from your memory!

No, the defense didn’t look good. Yes, it seems Russell Wilson has more of a problem with pressure defenses than we thought. But, these are still elements of our game that can be tinkered with and – if not fixed – at least tightened up somewhat. And, meanwhile, there were positive things to come from this! Seven sacks is great! Dunlap looks fantastic! We still have more guys coming back (hopefully sooner rather than later)! And, maybe this takes part of the target off of our backs and lets people forget that the Seahawks even exist.

We’re officially halfway through the season. I’m very happy with a 6-2 start and I think there’s reason for optimism for what’s to come. I was going to say let’s run it back and I’ll take 12-4 right now, but that’s a lie. I still thing 13-3 is very much on the table. Quite frankly, 12-4 would be a disaster, because that would mean 2 of those losses are coming to divisional opponents, or against some of the very worst teams in all of football. Because that’s all we’ve got remaining on the schedule! Four games against the NFC West (including two against the Rams) and four games against the dreck of society. So, let’s win seven of those games and take hold of that #1 seed!

I’m Cool With The Seahawks Not Signing Antonio Brown

There’s something to be said for not actively welcoming cancer into your body.

It was reported last week that the Seahawks were interested in signing Antonio Brown. He was suspended for the first 8 games of this season for … lots of reasons. He’s not well. I don’t know what’s going on (bipolar?), but he sort of had a meltdown last year. Not that he was all that “normal” when he was with the Steelers, but he effectively forced his way out of Pittsburgh, caught on with the Raiders, and before he could even play a down in Oakland, had forced his way off of that team as well. He played in one game for the Patriots, then his suspension came down and he was released (or maybe reverse the order there, but either way, there was a suspension and a release). I think there’s a domestic violence thing going on, and maybe something else? I dunno, the point is, Antonio Brown isn’t a good person, probably.

What I do know is that he’s not a particularly good teammate. He’s selfish, he’s a ballhog, and he didn’t get along with many of his teammates on the Steelers. I get not getting along with Ben Roethlisberger; that guy seems insufferable. But, not getting along with his other receivers, particularly JuJu Smith-Schuster? That’s not a guy I want on my team.

Especially a team with a budding young superstar in D.K. Metcalf. The way I see it, either he shows Metcalf the WRONG way to be a diva receiver in this league, or he does everything to cut him down to size and ruin his confidence with his overbearing personality. Either way, I don’t want it.

Also, the Seahawks don’t NEED it. D.K. Metcalf might be the next Julio Jones. Tyler Lockett just caught 15 balls for 200 yards against the Cardinals. David Moore is a fine third receiver. Josh Gordon is probably going to return this year. Our tight end room is quietly one of the best in football. We HAVE weapons! Antonio Brown would be coming into a situation where he’s the #3 guy at best. Could he handle that? Well, he would have to, because he’s coming here mid-season and hasn’t acclimated himself to our offense. He would likely start out slowly – because he hasn’t played in over a year – and be in only a small subset of offensive packages. So, how much could we expect from him? Probably not a whole lot until later in the season.

Also, would all that time away from football make him more susceptible to injury? What if he comes in here and tries to do too much and pulls a hammy or something?

Odds are, he’ll be on his best behavior. So, had the Seahawks signed him, I probably would’ve downplayed the valid chemistry concerns I outlined above. He’s damaged goods. He forced his way off of two teams in less than a year, then couldn’t make it work in New England of all places. This will likely be his last chance. Three strikes and you’re out (in this case, four strikes, but you get the idea). He’s also 32 years old, which isn’t a spring chicken in football terms. If it’s one last payday he’s after, then he HAS to be a model citizen, on top of still being an elite-level receiver. If it’s a Super Bowl ring he’s after, then he’s going to have to prove he can play nice on high-functioning teams like Tampa’s. If it’s an eventual Hall of Fame induction, then he’ll have to take whatever he can get if it doesn’t work in Tampa, but even the worst teams will be leery of signing him if his attitude doesn’t improve. I mean, I hate to be that guy, but also Antonio Brown sure does seem to be a dick!

There’s a reason why these head cases tend to get blackballed. You saw what happened with Earl Thomas when the Houston Texans talked about signing him. Also, Michael Thomas, you’re on notice.

It ultimately didn’t cost the Bucs much to sign Brown; a minimal guarantee and some incentives. The Seahawks, even with as little extra cap space as they have, could’ve easily afforded it. But, they weren’t going to get into a bidding war to sign him, and I agree with that 100%. If we were the only potential dance partner out there, I’d say sure, bring him in on that exact deal. But, going above and beyond the minimum seems idiotic, given all the above reasons. Of course, I don’t know why the Bucs were so gung ho about bringing him in either, considering the bevy of weapons they have at their disposal. But, you know, he’s their problem now.

The Seahawks need help on DEFENSE. I can’t stress that enough. If there’s a player to take on that requires a reworking of our salary cap, it better be for someone who plays defensive end and rushes the passer! Bolstering a position of strength is nice, but how about we at least take a peek at our positions of weakness and see if there’s ANYTHING we can do there first?!

Are The 2020 Seahawks Better Than The 2019 Seahawks?

I’m having difficulty getting a read from the fanbase when it comes to their overall thoughts on the 2019 Seahawks; is that team considered a disappointment, or did they make the most of what they had? It’s easy to forget – knowing that was a Wild Card team who was ultimately thrust from the playoffs in the Divisional Round – but the 2019 Seahawks started out 10-2, among the best teams in all of football by record at the time. We lost three of our last four regular season games (all to divisional opponents) to lose our handle on the divisional title and a chance at a top two seed in the NFC, then we beat a decimated Eagles team before losing like we usually do on the road in the Divisional Round (by falling into a deep hole early and not having enough in the tank to come all the way back late). When you factor in a generational talent like Russell Wilson being in his prime, once again falling short of the Super Bowl, that feels disappointing to me. Maybe I’m spoiled, but I don’t know what to tell you.

The 2020 Seahawks are 4-0 right now. With the way our schedule is shaping up – among the easiest in football – not only do I see a reasonable path to at least matching our 10-2 start from a season ago, unless things take a dramatically dark turn, I’d be shocked if we’re not 12-2 as we head into the final two weeks of the season. 13-3 is not only on the table at this point, but should be the FLOOR. I don’t think a perfect season is happening, but one or two losses? I’m not throwing that out of bed for eating crackers!

When you think about how much we’ve obsessed over the quality of the defense to date – rightfully so, I might add – I can’t help but question whether or not this team is actually better than the one we saw a year ago. Are we better, or is our schedule just easier?

Well, let’s get the simple question out of the way: the schedule is unquestionably easier. The 2019 AFC North was much more difficult than the 2020 AFC East; give me those Ravens over these Bills, those Steelers (when we played them, with a healthy Big Ben) over these Patriots, those Browns over these Dolphins, and even those Bengals over these Jets. The 2019 NFC South was much more difficult than the 2020 NFC East; there’s no point in even going through the teams (we’ve seen this NFC East for many seasons continue to underwhelm at every turn). The 2019 Eagles and Vikings were superior to the 2020 Falcons and Vikings, no contest. And, I would argue the 2019 NFC West was much more difficult than the 2020 version, based on the 49ers being decimated by injuries and clearly not living up to the standard they set last year. We might’ve overrated the Cardinals in Year 2 of the Kyler Murray regime, and I think the Rams are about equal to what they were a season ago (Jared Goff will never take the next step as an elite quarterback, I’m sorry).

So, let’s look at the first question: are the Seahawks better?

On paper, just looking at the roster alone, the offense doesn’t look a whole lot different. Same quarterback, mostly same receivers, same starting running back, many of the same tight ends and offensive linemen, and even the same offensive coordinator. Obviously, everything is being made about Letting Russ Cook, but what is so remarkable to me is that there doesn’t seem to be any drop in efficiency. That was the knock against letting Russ cook in the past: we were winning games, mostly because he was the most efficient quarterback in football. He did more with less (attempts), and the only reason why he wasn’t among the MVP finalists is because he didn’t have those attempts, or total yardage numbers, that dazzle the eye and cloud the brain. Russell Wilson has always had high passer ratings, low interception numbers, and high yards per attempt averages. And, obviously, we’re looking at a quarter of the normal sample size in any given year, but he’s blowing all of those numbers out of the water so far!

You would think more attempts = more opportunities for mistakes. Or, more attempts = more short passes, for a lower yards per attempt average. Again, it’s the opposite! Last year, his passer rating was 106.3 (his career high in any season was 110.9 in 2018); this year his rating is 136.7 (out of a possible 158.3). Last year, his yards per attempt were an even 8.0 (his career high in any season was 8.3 in 2015); this year it’s 9.4. He’s not just dinking and dunking and checking down to running backs and tight ends; he’s throwing deep as he always has and still connecting on these beautiful arcing rainbow balls!

In short (no pun intended), I think many of us (myself included) thought we’d seen the best of what Russell Wilson has to offer, but he’s continuing to soar to new heights (ditto) and it’s incredible to witness.

There’s also a very credible argument to be made that these are the best weapons he’s ever had. That is a BOLD statement! Remember, he’s had guys like Marshawn Lynch, Doug Baldwin, Golden Tate, Sidney Rice, Zach Miller … and sure, Jimmy Graham and Percy Harvin. But, would you rather have those guys, or Chris Carson, Tyler Lockett, D.K. Metcalf, Greg Olsen, Will Dissly, David Moore, Carlos Hyde, Jacob Hollister, and Freddie Swain? They’ve all come up big in the early going, and we still have Josh Gordon, Phillip Dorsett, and Rashaad Penny waiting in the wings! Even when you just compare the 2020 group to 2019, I think you have to factor in the improved development of guys like Metcalf and Moore, as well as the rookie Swain who is already better than any fourth/fifth receiver we had last year.

Even though so many of the pieces are similar to what they were a season ago, this offense is unquestionably leaps & bounds better than it was (and better than it’s ever been, in the history of this franchise).

That brings us back to the defense.

So … yeah, the pass defense isn’t great. The pass rush was never thought to be anything above the bottom quarter in football, but the secondary has been atrocious as well. We’re still giving up over 400 yards passing per game, which is easily worst in the NFL. However! The run defense is only giving up 75.8 yards per game (third best); in 2019, the Seahawks gave up 117.7 rushing yards per game (11th worst). In a way, that makes sense, because our offense is so good, teams have to throw more to keep up and/or catch up with what we’re doing. But, it’s not like our 2019 offense was a turd sandwich or anything; we were in the top ten in yards and points. I do believe there is a drastic improvement in the quality of our run defense, which is further helping us force opposing offenses into being one-dimensional. Think of it this way: don’t you think every single team that faces the Seahawks wants to do whatever it takes to keep Russell Wilson on the sideline? Wouldn’t you think – that being the case – that teams would do their best to get a running game going against us? The fact that they’ve mostly failed in that endeavor is pretty telling.

I also want to look at turnovers, because I like what I’ve seen from this part of our defense so far and I don’t think it’s getting enough credit. The Seahawks are +5 in turnover ratio right now, tied for second (and, as we all know, one of those Wilson interceptions went right off of Greg Olsen’s hands, so we really should be tied for first at +6). The offense should always limit turnovers based on our quarterback and our coaching staff’s emphasis on taking care of the rock, so that ratio is always going to be in our favor. But, the defense alone has generated 8 turnovers, good for a tie for second (the Browns lead the NFL with 10). Of those 8 turnovers, 6 are via the interception, which I think is huge (the Browns, by contrast, only have 4 interceptions). Fumbles are largely a byproduct of luck. Most fumbles are 50/50 propositions; it’s an anomaly if one team is particularly good or bad at recovering them. Sure, teams can be good at FORCING them, but the name of this particular game I’m talking about is turnovers. Getting the ball back. If we’re not going to sack the opposing quarterback (six in four games, tied for sixth-worst), then we better be good at generating turnovers if we’re going to contend for a Super Bowl.

Last year, the Seahawks were tied for third in turnover differential at +12. We had 32 takeaways, also good for third in the NFL. Of those 32, it was an even 16/16 split between interceptions and fumble recoveries; 16 interceptions is pretty good (tied for fifth in the NFL last year), but the 16 fumble recoveries were tied for second most, which is a pretty remarkable feat and difficult to match from year to year. However, if you project a decrease in the number of fumbles our defense can recover in 2020 (which I do), while acknowledging that even a moderate increase in interceptions MIGHT be in play, can we really expect to have a drastically improved turnover differential? I would say absolutely! Because remember, that factors in the number of times our offense gave away the football. The Seahawks in 2019 were tied for the third-most lost fumbles (many of them thanks to Chris Carson’s butter fingers, which improved dramatically as the season went on); the odds of the Seahawks losing that many fumbles on offense in 2020 seem low to me. Partly because of regression in fumble luck, partly because we’re just not running the ball as much, and partly because Chris Carson is in a contract year (and fumblers don’t get max-money deals).

I don’t see a path where our sack numbers improve from where they were a season ago (we were tied for second-worst in 2019, which feels about right for 2020), but I do very much see a path to an increase in interceptions, given the level of talent in our secondary (which will get better as they get used to playing with one another; those communication breakdowns will be eliminated, I’m sure of it) as well as the fact that most teams will be forced into throwing the ball more than they’re used to (thanks to our offense putting up tons of points, and our run defense stuffing the everloving shit out of the line of scrimmage).

All of that combined, I think, points to this 2020 Seahawks team being much improved over the 2019 incarnation. Tack on the easy schedule, and the top seed in the NFC is very much in our sights.

We just need the Packers to lose a few games and we’ll be all set!

The Seahawks Remain Perfect While Still Being Entirely Imperfect

There aren’t any BAD 4-0 teams in the NFL. I can say this, of course, because the Chicago Bears finally lost (HI-YO!), but that’s neither here nor there. You don’t really get to complain about your team once you’re undefeated after a quarter of the season. This is awfully exciting, and ever-so-much fun! At this very moment, it’s just us and the Bills leading the way in the NFL (with a smattering of 3-0 teams lurking off in the distance).

But, obviously, the Seahawks are only “perfect” in record (and, quarterback too, I suppose); there are still things for this team to improve upon. And, not for nothing, but there are deficiencies that are always going to be there! Deficiencies we’re going to have to overcome on a weekly basis if we aim to keep this Rock N’ Roll Train a-rollin’.

It was all on display yesterday down in Miami, as the Seahawks beat the Dolphins 31-23 (it was 31-15 before a late touchdown by Ryan FitzGarbagePoints ran one in, almost making my score prediction last week pretty close!). The frustration, the glory, the rage, the surprise, the awe. It wasn’t the prettiest, but it nevertheless got my mojo rising, so let’s get into it!

It feels like a million years ago, but this game actually started out with another interception by Ryan Neal on the very first drive (after he caught the game-ending pick against Dallas the week prior)! Indeed, Ryan Fitzpatrick wasn’t very good in this one. He threw two picks and honestly probably should’ve thrown two more, if our guys didn’t keep dropping them. It’s a bit of a shame that they did, because Miami’s yardage total wouldn’t look nearly as good if we’d held on. But, regardless, the Seahawks were up 7-0 before we knew it, and this one had all the makings of a blowout.

The offense went weirdly cold for most of the rest of the first half, unfortunately. It was 10-9 with 24 seconds to go before halftime when we got the ball back. You could be forgiven if you didn’t expect anything to come out of this possession. Hell, in years past, we would’ve just handed the ball off to a running back up the middle for a 5-yard gain and regrouped for the second half! But, not this year! Not with MVP Wilson calling the shots! We hit Greg Olsen for 11 yards, called time out, and proceeded to find David Moore running WIDE open down the left sideline for 57 yards! How the Dolphins managed to leave him alone like that, I’ll never understand, but that gave us 1st & Goal at the 7 yard line with 10 seconds left. It took us four seconds to throw it down to the 3 yard line, and another three seconds to toss it to Travis Homer. Yes, it took all of 21 seconds for this offense to go 75 yards and extend our lead to 17-9. THAT is an offense that’s capable of carrying a team to a championship!

Since we got the ball back immediately after halftime, I was hoping we’d just put the hammer down right then and there and run out the clock for an easy victory. We almost did! But, the drive was vanquished in the Miami endzone with a rare Wilson interception. Once again, the lights went out with the offense, as the Dolphins clawed back to 17-15 (all on field goal drives) midway through the fourth quarter, as Miami held an insane Time of Possession advantage at this point.

I’ll be honest, I was a little unnerved! This was EXACTLY the scenario I was worried about! Stupid mistakes costing the Seahawks, letting the Dolphins hang around, and needing to pull a rabbit out of our asses in the end! But, of course, there were two things I was overlooking: the defense was playing exactly to design, and the offense would eventually figure it out.

It can be a little maddening to watch this defense sometimes. Even at its peak – when it was the very best defense in all of football – this is the style we’ve played: keep plays in front of you (don’t let them hit any deep balls) and force opposing offenses to dink and dunk down the field if they’re going to score. The difference between yesterday’s performance and ones from yore is that we just don’t have the level of talent now to really punish other teams. So, when they dink and dunk, they’ll do so for a while! There’s a helplessness to it. Like we’re never going to stop them, and they’re going to continue converting new first downs until the end of time.

Thankfully, these were the Dolphins, and five of their six scoring drives ended in a field goal. One or two more touchdowns in there and we might be singing a different tune today.

The offense did figure it out, at the best possible time. Our 17-15 lead expanded to 24-15 with a beautiful 17-yard touchdown pass to David Moore in the back corner of the endzone. Then, after Shaquill Griffin picked off Fitzpatrick (he really played a flawless game in this one, in locking down his side of the field), we marched right down the field – on the legs of D.K. Metcalf, who caught a quick out at the sideline and bullied his way to the 1-yard line – before Chris Carson plunged over the goalline for his second TD of the game. From that point, it was just a matter of wasting clock and recovering an onside kick.

Wilson’s MVP campaign continued on, though of course this wasn’t quite as breathtaking. He nevertheless threw for 360 yards and 2 touchdowns (to tie the record for most TD passes through four games, with 16).

I would argue Carson was actually the star of this one. Remember last week when that Dallas defender tried to twist his leg off? Remember when it looked like Carson might miss a few weeks? Well, he not only returned without missing any games, but started and really carried the load! 80 yards on 16 carries (the other running backs only handled it 6 times, not counting Wilson scrambles), with another 3 receptions for 20 yards. The offense obviously isn’t going through Carson anymore, but that doesn’t mean he’s not vital to making this whole thing work. I’d love to know how many times Wilson changed a play to a run, where Carson was able to burst through a huge hole – in a light box – for a significant gain (because the opposing defense was so concerned about Wilson throwing it on them). That’s going to be a considerable trend the rest of this season, as more teams adjust to the new Seahawks way of doing things.

D.K. Metcalf led the way for receivers, with 4 catches for 106 yards. David Moore had more of the highlights, as he caught 3 for 95 and a TD. Tyler Lockett had a relatively quiet day, but that’s just a matter of Wilson spreading the ball around (nine guys caught balls in this one, with eight guys catching at least two).

If I have one thing that irked me about the offense, it has to do with this weird notion that they need to shuffle guys on the offensive line for some reason? I know they talked about this a while back, I think as a function of not having a real pre-season, but I don’t get it. Isn’t the whole thing about the O-Line that they need continuity and reps together with the same guys? Will someone explain to me why Cedric Ogbuehi is in the game at all, let alone on a relatively critical drive in the first half where we’re going for it on fourth down? Brandon Shell has more than proven why we signed him to that contract in free agency: he’s CLEARLY the best right tackle on the team. So, is it any shock that Ogbuehi gave up the sack on fourth down to stall yet another potential scoring drive? I didn’t notice him in the game at all after that, so, I dunno, maybe keep it that way? I mean, yeah, I get it, you want guys to have experience in case others get injured. But, he’s a professional and a veteran, if we need him, he’ll figure it out. Right now, let’s keep our BEST guys out there and rack up huge leads! That way, when the game is out of reach, we can start playing our backups to give them some experience when it doesn’t matter as much. Just a thought.

On defense, I thought we showed flashes of competence. Only one sack, of course, isn’t very inspiring (particularly when Fitzpatrick threw it 45 times), but I thought Miami had a really smart gameplan. They never totally abandoned the run until late in the game and the Seahawks were up by two scores. That kept them in manageable situations, which meant there weren’t a lot of obvious passing situations where we could send in our specialists to tee off and get after the quarterback. That’s my way of saying I wish we could’ve had more Shaquem Griffin, because he’s always electric whenever he’s rushing the passer.

The rush defense was fairly on point. Fitzpatrick led the way with his scrambling (6 for 47 and a touchdown), but the other guys combined for 56 yards on 16 carries (3.5 yards per carry average).

K.J. Wright, in spite of his dropped interceptions, otherwise had a remarkable game, with lots of shoestring tackles preventing big plays. That guy’s wingspan is simply incredible, as he’s able to get to guys he shouldn’t, even if he’s actively engaged with a blocker! Bobby Wagner led the team in tackles with 12, and I thought most of our secondary was pretty sticky and making plays (Ryan Neal is a revelation, and Ugo Amadi is up there among our best cover guys).

If I can bitch about anything for a moment, it has to be Tre Flowers, who might want to consider calling his post-football late night chat show “Picking On Tre Flowers”, because the dude gets absolutely molested on a daily basis in this defense. He’s really a problem for this team, and ultimately I don’t see him as a Seahawk-type defender. He’s too soft, in all respects. I know the objective for this defense was to keep everything in front of them – to not give up big plays deep – but he’s giving up SO MUCH cushion, on every single down! If it’s 3rd & 6, why are you lining up 12 yards deep? That’s the easiest pre-snap read for even the most bumbling of quarterbacks! By all accounts, it sounds like his confidence is totally shot. Quinton Dunbar coming in and taking his job has really gotten into his head. After Dunbar has struggled when he was in there, on top of being injured these last two weeks, Flowers finally has a shot at redemption and to take his job back for good, and what has he done? He’s gotten used and abused, first by an elite quarterback in Dak Prescott, and now by a mediocre one in Ryan Fitzpatrick. Year three is supposed to be the year where you take your game to new heights; Flowers is regressing. I imagine year four will be pretty quiet for him, and after that he’ll be on a new team.

Probably the best thing to come from this game is a lack of new injuries. FINALLY! Now, we can enjoy the soft landing that is the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday Night Football next week, followed by a much-needed BYE week.

It’s funny what a 4-0 start will do for you, when looking at the upcoming schedule. Potential losses start looking like easy victories, and even those certain losses start looking like toss-ups. The outlook is bright! And I can’t help but be really excited for what’s to come!

Every Time The Seahawks Play The Patriots, It’s The Best Game Of The Year; Last Night Was No Exception

That game was so good, I don’t even know where to start, so let’s just run through everything in order of appearance, because there’s too much to discuss to have any other format for this post.

Is Greg Olsen The Most Washed-Up 35 Year Old Tight End Inexplicably Earning $7 million On A Team With No Pass Rush?

Boy did he have a bad game in this one. How do you feel about 0 catches on 1 target? Furthermore, how do you feel about that lone target coming on the first drive of the game, being a perfect throw that bounced off of his hands and into the open arms of Devin McCourty for a Pick-Six? I kept waiting for Olsen’s redemption moment that, unfortunately, never came (unless it was some impactful block that I missed because who pays attention to THAT stuff?). I get the feeling that we’re destined for a super-mediocre season out of Olsen where the saving grace is that he catches 7 touchdowns, or one for every million dollars he’s earning. Nope, couldn’t have put that money to better use on the defensive line; NO SIR!

Seahawks Rushing Attack Quietly Good

It’s hard to say if Russell Wilson “cooked” in this one; the numbers were split pretty evenly: 28 passing attempts, 30 rushes (to be fair, those five Wilson runs were scrambles that would’ve been passing attempts had things looked differently on those plays). I mean, if you want to point to the ideal Pete Carroll type of offensive game, you’re looking at it. He doesn’t care where the touchdowns come from (all five were Wilson throws, which is pretty fancy cooking any way you sauté it), he just wants the running backs at least AS involved in moving the football as the quarterback. As a team, the Seahawks ran for 154 yards (a robust 5.1 yards per carry), with Carson leading the way (as it should be), 17 for 72. Don’t discount the effectiveness of Wilson’s 5 carries for 39 yards; he’s not just saving these attempts for the fourth quarter like in seasons past. He’s busting them out early enough to force defenses to account for him on potential zone-read plays later on (Travis Homer was the recipient of a few quality runs in this mold, ending up with 3 carries for 21 yards). Since the Patriots’ run defense isn’t that great, it was nevertheless good to see that the offense didn’t forcefeed us an All Wilson All The Time type of game.

Tyler Lockett Is There Whenever You Need Him

On any other team, or if Lockett were like a traditional wide receiver diva, he would command 15 targets per game and be among the league leaders in catches, yards, and touchdowns. He’s THAT good! He’s ALWAYS open, even when he’s got guys draped all over him! In this one, he ended up with a sensible 7 catches (on 8 targets) for 67 yards and a touchdown (in the drive immediately following the Pick Six, to tie the game at 7-7), but it seemed like all of his catches were big (either to convert a first down, or to get us out of a huge hole after a holding penalty or a sack or something). One of the ways the Seahawks have been very effective so far this year has been in how the offense has dug itself out of holes. Even though holding penalties are down leaguewide, the Seahawks are still right up there among the worst offenders as an offensive line. But, for the most part (not every time, obviously; this offense isn’t perfect in spite of Russell Wilson signing a pact with the devil) it’s not an automatic punt whenever we find ourselves in 1st & 20, or 2nd & 15. Tyler Lockett has a lot to do with this. Most teams would take more advantage and throw it to him too much; but Wilson knows it’s best to save those moments for when they matter most, because Lockett will always be there to pull this team out of the fire.

Quandre Diggs (tsk tsk tsk)

Yesterday was as bad a day across the NFL when it comes to injuries that I’ve ever seen. Not just the number of guys who went down, but the number of high-impact players who were out for the rest of their respective games, who will end up missing a number of weeks, and/or who will be out for the remainder of the season! I’ll discuss more of that in my fantasy column later in the week, but it was rough. As it turns out, you can’t go from 0 to 60 at the drop of a hat – with no pre-season ramp-up – and not expect to see this as a reality! You may ask, “Why didn’t we see all of this in the first week?” Well, my thoughts are that everyone got beat up pretty good, and since no one was in real game shape, everyone needed more than the 6-7 days they were given for their bodies to recover. Since everyone was heading into yesterday without sufficient recovery time, all their bodies were more susceptible to the types of injuries we were seeing. You can dismiss the pre-season all you want, but going from playing a quarter, to a half, to into the third quarter, and then scaling it back to almost-nothing in the fourth game sure seems to be a better way to ramp up everyone’s bodies for the pounding they take on a weekly basis than what we had this season.

Anyway, what does that have to do with Quandre Diggs? On the Patriots’ first offensive drive of the game, he was ejected for a helmet-to-helmet hit on a defenseless receiver (on a 4th down play, that ultimately put New England in a position to go up 14-7). No one was injured on the play, though it was a good call by the league. Seahawks fans were complaining on Twitter, asking what Diggs was supposed to do with it being such a bang-bang play; well, he’s not supposed to lazily ram into a guy while fully erect, with his helmet smashing into the other guy’s helmet! If Diggs was using proper technique, he would’ve bent his body at the waist, gotten his head out of the way, and led with one of his shoulders … you know, like we’ve been preaching around here for the better part of the last decade! This is simple, people; Diggs had plenty of time to put his body into proper position. He was just lazy on that play, didn’t feel like bending down, and he was properly ejected as a result.

How this gets back to injuries is that, of course, Marquise Blair – our Big Nickel defensive back extraordinaire last week – went in to replace Diggs at safety after that (flip-flopping with Lano Hill whenever we were in a Nickel Defense), and also of course, ended up with a serious knee injury. It will either cost him a few weeks or the rest of the season, which is just a crusher. I still have faith in this secondary to lead the way; we have lots of guys behind Blair who will step up and be good. But, Blair sure looked like he was turning into something really special. It’s only his second season in the league, so there’s time for him to bounce back and become great. But, it’s a shame when someone this early in his development has a setback this potentially-significant.

Newsflash: Cam Newton Is A Great Rusher

His numbers weren’t quite as sparkling as his 15 rushes for 75 yards against the Dolphins last week, but 11 rushes for 47 yards is nothing to sneeze at. He tacked on two goalline touchdowns in that total and looked ALMOST unstoppable (foreshadowing, you know you want it). I was really impressed with the variety of different rushes the Pats used at the goalline; they will be tough to defend down there. Don’t let them get inside of the 10 yard line if you have hopes of holding them to field goals! It won’t work out most of the time.

Great Punting Tho

With the Seahawks down 14-7 and driving, I was legitimately starting to worry about our ability to stop New England’s offense. Had we fallen too far behind, it would’ve been super tough to come back with Cam pulling plays out of his ass all night. That’s why I was so discouraged we took a minor sack on third down at the New England 42 yard line. 4th & 5 isn’t all that different from the fourth down we converted last week (with the bomb to D.K.). The way we were otherwise moving the ball at will, that seemed like a pretty easy one to convert. I’m not saying the ends justify the means, but we did win the game, so I won’t complain too much. But, had we lost, this is a moment I would’ve pointed to as one of the reasons why.

Nevertheless, we had a GREAT game from Michael Dickson! No one cares about punting, of course, but he showed why he was an All Pro as a rookie two years ago. He averaged an even 50 yards per punt (with a long of 63), and all four of them ended up inside the 20 yard line (including one that died inside the two yard line all by itself, like he’d chipped it with a pitching wedge or something). That is an impact that doesn’t show up directly on the scoreboard, but it nevertheless affects the game in countless hidden ways.

Seahawks Run Defense Also Quietly Good

I know I was up there praising Cam Newton a minute ago, but this is a true statement! The Patriots as a team ran the ball 25 times for 67 yards (2.7 yards per), and the non-Cam runners were a terrible 14 carries for 20 yards (1.4 yards per). That was legitimately shocking to me. I thought for sure the Pats would Ground & Pound it up our bums, but clearly the emphasis for this defense was to stop the run at all costs (which, as it turned out, meant giving up a lot of passing yardage, as we’ll get to later).

D.K. Is Living In The Future, So The Present Is His Past

His presence is a present, kiss my ass! Stephon Gilmore was the Defensive Player of the Year in 2019. I don’t know if he’s the best cornerback in football, but he’s up there. There were rumblings coming into this one that he would lock onto D.K. Metcalf and shut him down (while the rest of the Pats’ defense did whatever it could to stop everyone else). I never expected Russell Wilson to back down and avoid Metcalf entirely, but it wouldn’t have shocked me if we saw a quiet game out of him nevertheless.

Instead, his game was so loud it damn near made up for there being no fans in attendance!

He had four catches for a team-high 92 yards, including a 54-yard bomb that he caught over Gilmore (who was all over him, and indeed had an arm in Metcalf’s bread basket as he caught it), who was swatted away like a gnat en route to the endzone. It was incredible! Gilmore was indeed on Metcalf most of the game, which ultimately led to a near-brawl on the Seahawks sideline as Metcalf manhandled Gilmore on a block, who took offense to being dismissed accordingly. I didn’t see much between the two after that; Gilmore sat out for a play, and I think it was more of a Defend-Metcalf-By-Committee situation after that. Get used to reading about that, because every week Metcalf is inching closer to being the best in the game.

Why Not Some Words On The Kicking Game?

That D.K. touchdown tied it at 14-14, but New England marched right down the field again. Our defense stopped them at the Seattle 33 yard line, which resulted in the Pats missing a 51-yard field goal. In a game they lost by five points – which (spoiler alert!) ended with them at the goalline – that’s a pretty significant miss.

As I believe there was last year, there’s an early-season epidemic in the kicking game leaguewide. I don’t have the numbers, but they’re out there; it’s being discussed by people with more patience than me. Anyway, Jason Myers was a perfect 5/5 on extra points in this one, and considering how those are no longer automatic, it’s nice to see our guy isn’t making our lives miserable.

A Quiet End Of Half

After all that had happened to this point, it was crazy the Seahawks were in a position to take the lead heading into halftime. Following the missed field goal, we had excellent field position. But, we couldn’t get out of our own way in spite of numerous opportunities. Greg Olsen had a false start to add to his negative ledger. Wilson threw an insane forward pass when he was a good five yards beyond the line of scrimmage (and penalized accordingly). Then, we somehow got bailed out on 3rd & 19 with a defensive holding penalty. With a first down at midfield, hopes were restored, but another penalty and a sack pretty much torpedoed that drive; the only good thing we did was chew up all the clock (and punt it inside the two yard line), so the Pats had no chance to do anything.

Jamal Adams Showed Up!

I read somewhere that all of Adams’ stats happened in the second half of this game. 10 tackles (one for loss), a sack, and two hits on the quarterback. It wasn’t all DPOY roses and sunshine, though, as he gave up a number of big gains through the air (presumably playing more free safety than we would’ve liked, with Diggs ejected). His sack was huge, as he dove at Cam’s ankles to trip him up; if he’d missed, Cam definitely would’ve converted it for a first down. There were, however, at least a couple times where he had Cam dead to rights in the backfield, but Cam eluded him, which was frustrating as all get-out. Mixed bag sort of day, but this team doesn’t win this game without Jamal Adams.

More David Moore!

David Moore had a pretty underwhelming 2019, which had a lot of fans down on his prospects going forward. He seemed like Just A Guy, made more infuriating by how often Wilson tried to force it to him last year. Well, in this game, Moore showed why this team is so high on him! He ended up with 3 catches for 48 yards, but one of them went for an insane touchdown (that had a less-than 7% probability of being completed, per some weird stat I don’t understand) at the front-left corner of the endzone, to give the Seahawks a 21-17 lead early in the second half. How he managed to keep both feet in bounds while coming down with the football, I have no idea, but it was truly miraculous!

Quinton Dunbar, Hello!

Through the first half of this game, you would’ve been justified in wondering whether or not Dunbar is actually a good football player. As it stands, we might have to question whether or not he’s a good fit for this team, but I’m going to give it a few more weeks before I make any definitive statements. Anyway, he very nearly had a pick-six of his own earlier in this one, before finally succeeding in jumping an out route and picking off Cam Newton following the David Moore touchdown. It was a welcome sight! It’s been a few years since the Seahawks have had a cornerback who’s capable of generating interceptions; now, if only Dunbar can stop getting faked out on comebackers.

A Freddie Swain Sighting In The Wild

If you never expected rookie wide receiver Freddie Swain to make any sort of impact this year, don’t worry, I was right there with you! I didn’t even think he’d make the team! If anything, I thought this was a year for John Ursua to assert himself, but he seems to be on his way out of the organization (currently on the Practice Squad). Swain, however, might be a legitimate baller. He only had 1 reception for 21 yards, but he made the most of it, catching a crosser and taking it to the house for a 28-17 lead late in the third. He looked fast and crisp in his route running, everything we need out of a #4 receiver right now!

Let Cam Cook!

Cam Newton was great all game, but he really came alive in the fourth quarter. He finished with 397 yards passing and 1 TD (to go along with his rushing yards and two rushing TDs). So, taken with Atlanta’s crazy passing day last week, the Seahawks’ secondary has given up approximately 900,000 passing yards in two games, which is, you know …

It’s hard to blame the secondary too much, because he was really zipping those balls into some tight windows! For the most part, our defensive backs were in good spots to make plays, but Cam was pretty perfect.

Of course, he had all damn day to throw the ball! Oh my God, was the pass rush ever atrocious in this one! When we blitzed, it was either picked up, or Cam was able to side-step a guy and run for a first down; when we rushed four, they did nothing; when we rushed three, Cam was able to give his nails a manicure, read a magazine, wait for his hair to dry, and gab with the gals about all sorts of juicy gossip while his receivers took their sweet time getting open. It was unbelievable! I’ve never in my life seen a Seahawks pass rush this inept; it’s incredibly infuriating!

Anyway, New England took almost no time at all to make it 28-23; the only thing our defense did right on that drive was stop the 2-point conversion. The touchdown itself, though, was mighty nifty. See, every other time the Patriots got down close to the goalline, Cam lined up in shotgun, took the snap, held the ball for a second or two until a lane opened up, and ran right through it for a score. Well, this time, he did the same thing, but faked a run and threw to some fullback I’d never heard of for the score. If that continues to happen, New England will be truly unstoppable down around the endzone.

More Wilson Magic

The teams improbably traded punts on the subsequent two possessions – more due to questionable play-calling for both teams than anything the defenses managed to do – but with nine minutes left in the game, you knew the Seahawks needed to add more points. Thankfully, we have Russell Wilson (and you don’t).

The Seahawks methodically marched down the field, and on 2nd & 5 from the New England 18, he dropped a beautiful pass into Chris Carson’s arms for a 35-23 lead, with four and a half minutes to go that felt pretty insurmountable.

Superman

But, again, Cam Newton is Superman. In just over two minutes, he took New England 75 yards and, once again, plunged over the goalline to make the game 35-30. There were thoughts that the Pats might onside kick it after that; given what the Seahawks’ offense was able to do all night, I wouldn’t have been surprised. But, they had all of their time outs, so it made sense to kick it deep.

There was some iffy decisionmaking on the ensuing Seahawks possession. For starters, Chris Carson took a handoff and looked like he had a bead on a 10-yard gain. But, his momentum was about to take him out of bounds and he slid instead, to keep the clock moving. The only problem with that was: you always take the first down. Besides that, we snapped it with 2:09 left in the game; the two-minute warning was coming regardless. While I like the thought, it was just a little misguided and almost cost us.

On 2nd & 4, we handed off to Carson again, who tried to find a hole, but could only muster three yards. I didn’t LOVE the play call there; I would’ve preferred to give Wilson two cracks at throwing for a first down. But, I get it. You force New England to use a time out there, and you make it 3rd & 1, which SHOULD be easily converted every time.

The fanbase might’ve stormed CenturyLink Field and revolted had we handed off to Carson there and he was stuffed, so I was happy to see Wilson with the ball in his hands. I was MORTIFIED, however, to see Wilson chuck it deep, overthrowing Lockett by a few yards (it looked like he was moderately interfered with, but no ref worth his salt was ever going to flag that play). I don’t know what Wilson was thinking, because he had Carson wide open on a check down; he also could’ve simply run it a couple yards and kept the clock moving. Instead, it saved the Pats a time out and probably set-back the Let Russ Cook movement; any time he fails, I keep thinking the coaching staff is going to revert, so let’s not fail again for a while!

Kryptonite

New England started on their own 19 yard line after the Seahawks punt, with just under two minutes in the game and two time outs remaining. In less than a minute, the Pats were on Seattle’s side of the 50. We were able to keep most plays in front of us, and tackled guys in bounds to keep the clock moving. But, with 36 seconds remaining, Cam hit Julian Edelman for 18 yards down to the Seattle 13.

Bafflingly, New England didn’t use its last time out, so the clock ticked down to 12 seconds following an incompletion. Cam then hit a pass down to the 1 yard line with three seconds remaining, forcing New England to use their final time out. They had one play to win it! Everyone on the planet knew it was going to be a Cam Newton run; their goalline offense had been perfect to that point in the game (and probably the season, though I didn’t watch their game against Miami last week).

True to form, Cam took the ball and looked for a hole to his left. But, L.J. Collier had the play of the game, blowing it up and getting to Cam’s legs. Between him and Lano Hill on the outside, undercutting the blocking running back to force Cam inside, they really saved the day, as Cam took a 1-yard loss on the play. Game over, Seahawks win 35-30.

That’s, not for nothing, the third time in the last three matchups against the Patriots that the game has come down to a final goalline stand (with the defense prevailing every time, including Super Bowl XLIX). These games are always so ridiculously fun. No one, really, in all of football (except maybe Andy Reid) has ever been able to play chess with Bill Belichick like Pete Carroll. They are so different in their coaching styles, but so damn similar in their preparation and ability to match up with one another during games. We were never going to have Belichick as our head coach; he doesn’t strike me as a West Coast type of guy. But, it’s nice to have the next-best thing. Pete Carroll often gets overlooked around these parts – mostly by fans who grow weary of watching a conservative offense – but it’s really been an honor to have a coach like him, who sets the tone for the entire organization. There’s a reason why this team has been so good for the last decade, and while Russell Wilson deserves a lot of credit, Pete Carroll is ultimately why we’ve had so much fun watching this team over the years.

Hindsight Is … The Seahawks Season Preview Extravaganza!

I write about the Seahawks on here pretty extensively, so you probably know my thoughts on the matter already. This is more or less just a one-stop-shop for all of my thoughts as we head into the 2020 regular season.

As I alluded to last week, I’m cautiously optimistic. Earlier in the offseason, I think I was rather too optimistic, so it’s probably smart to ratchet those expectations down a tick or two. In general, I want to say that I think the Seahawks’ offense will be better than it was in 2019, and that the defense will be about the same. There is, however, a very legitimate chance that the offense is about the same and the defense is worse. So, let’s start there as a jumping-off point.

As always, the good news for this team is Russell Wilson. He’s the best quarterback in the NFC and one of the top two or three in the entire NFL; the only guy I would RATHER have over Wilson is Patrick Mahomes, so in my mind he’s right there at #2 (honestly, and not for nothing, Lamar Jackson is probably #4 or #5, behind the likes of Deshaun Watson and probably Dak Prescott, if we’re talking about quarterbacks I’d choose to build my franchise around today). Wilson is currently in the window known as his “prime” and should remain there for another few more years, which means he’s at his peak of being able to carry this team on his back into the playoffs. Of course, even the best quarterbacks need talent around them to succeed (in spite of the fact that the very best quarterbacks will always make that talent around them better).

Wilson’s weapons – as a collective – are better than they were in 2019. Tyler Lockett and D.K. Metcalf are back as this team’s top two receivers; and while Lockett is squarely in his own prime as an elite (and vastly underrated) threat both downfield and in the intermediate game, the Seahawks should see a signifiant boost in Metcalf’s production now that he’s entering his second season in the pros. Metcalf was already one of the very best rookie wideouts a year ago, and he’s done nothing but work on his body and his craft this offseason; if he stays healthy, I fully expect him to make the leap as one of the NFL’s brightest stars. To complement these two, the Seahawks brought in Phillip Dorsett (a guy who’s also quite fast and can compete for deep balls), and they brought back guys like Josh Gordon (a stud when he’s not suspended for doing drugs) and David Moore (who is in a contract year and should be motivated to produce at a high level for his own livelihood in this league). All of these guys seem to be in tremendous shape and should be great assets for Wilson to chuck the ball to.

Then, there’s the tight end room. We get another crack at guys like Dissly (one of the best in football, when he’s able to stay healthy), Hollister (a wide receiver in a tight end’s body) and Luke Willson (an everyman who can help in a variety of ways). Plus, we added a likely future hall of famer in Greg Olsen. And, if the group is decimated with injuries like it was last year, the Seahawks brought in some promising young guys on the NFI list and the Practice Squad to fill in around the margins should the need arise.

Then, there’s the running backs. Chris Carson still figures to be the bellcow. Carlos Hyde will provide solid veteran production behind him. Rashaad Penny should be back halfway through the season (he looks good in the limited video footage that’s been released to the Internet of him running sprints following his ACL surgery) as a possible boost to this group. DeeJay Dallas already sounds like the real deal as a rookie. And, Travis Homer was fine last year in his limited snaps at the end of the season when everyone else was injured. I have the utmost confidence in all of these guys to be able to do what this team needs to do.

All of that sounds great! Why aren’t I 100% confident in the Seahawks’ offense improving over last year?

Well, the offensive line, of course! I’ll say this: I’m relatively optimistic about the O-Line at least being AS good as last year, if not actually better. But, I mean, let’s face it: there’s a lot of question marks. Duane Brown is old and his legs could give out at any time. Mike Iupati is also old and his everything could give out at any time. Ethan Pocic has been injured throughout his brief NFL career and has never started at center in the pros. Damien Lewis is a rookie, and a rookie who hasn’t even played in a pre-season game yet! Also, he’s essentially “won” his job as this team’s starting right guard by facing off against this team’s interior defensive linemen, who aren’t really a who’s who of outstanding stud-muffins when compared to the rest of the NFL; I mean, I’m pretty sure I could win a starting O-Line job if all I had to do was block this inept D-Line! And, while reports indicate Brandon Shell has been great as this team’s big right tackle free agent acquisition, the statheads who’ve monitored his career up to this point have indicated that he SUCKED at his job previously. So, you know, again take what he’s done in Training Camp against this Seahawks D-Line with a grain of salt.

The lack of a pre-season is the most concerning aspect, because offensive lines need continuity and actual game reps to get used to working together as a unit. As such, I would expect this first month’s worth of games to be a little rough to watch. It’ll be nice that they won’t have to deal with real-life crowd noise when we play in Atlanta this week (the packed stands would be significantly louder than the decibels the NFL is allowing teams to pump into their stadia), but I’m more concerned with our actual opponents, and how quickly they’re able to snuff out Russell Wilson’s pocket passing and scrambling.

The bright side is, if Duane Brown stays healthy, he’s a Pro Bowler. Mike Iupati – same deal – is at least a viable starter, if not a Pro Bowler. Pocic won the center’s job for a reason, he played the position in college, so maybe he’s turned a corner in his career. Lewis was an absolute mauler in college and it’s a great sign that the coaches are already confident in his ability to start at this level in game one. And, at least Shell isn’t Germain Ifedi (YOU get a silver lining, and YOU get a silver lining, and YOU get a silver lining!).

My hunch is, the O-Line will be fine, after a while. I just hope the rest of the offense is able to overcome these first few games on the schedule; I don’t like our chances if we start the season in a big hole respective to the rest of our division. But, if the O-Line turns out to be … *gulp* legitimately good? The sky will be the limit for this offense, even as conservative as it is!

***

The defense is significantly better in the secondary than it was to start the 2019 season. The defense is marginally better in the linebacker corps than it was in 2019.

And, the defensive line is the biggest question mark on this team, though I think it’s safe to say we all believe it’ll be significantly worse than it was in 2019 (which, itself, was already pretty bad).

So, the question is: can the vastly improved secondary make up for everything else? I think there’s a chance!

The 2019 Seahawks famously played somewhere over 60% base defense, which means having all three linebackers on the field. In a league that increasingly uses nickel defense (a fifth man in the secondary, to replace one of the linebackers, thus providing better coverage for offenses who trend toward using more 3- and 4-wide receiver sets), that was an unsustainable anomaly for the Seahawks to continue into 2020. That brings us to Quinton Dunbar – the troubled youth from the Florida area who was arrested, then ultimately not charged, and now rumors are swirling that he may still be in trouble for that house party robbery – taking over for Tre Flowers (who has struggled mightily in one-on-one coverage in his two-year career), who could slide inside to play that nickel role. That also brings us to Marquise Blair – the safety we drafted last year, who hardly played, even though he seemed to be more gifted than the duds we were rolling with – who has flashed during Training Camp as a bigger nickel corner that this team can use against slower/bigger receivers and tight ends. That also brings us to Ugo Amadi – another rookie corner/safety from last year – who has another year’s experience exclusively in the nickel corner role. All of these guys combined with our Pro Bowl corner in Shaquill Griffin, and our two stud safeties in Jamal Adams and Quandre Diggs, make it almost impossible for the Seahawks to not constantly run out the nickel defense we were so bad at a year ago!

That should, in turn, leave Bruce Irvin (a hybrid strong-side linebacker/pass rusher) in more situations where he can line up along the line of scrimmage and rush the passer. That should also free up Bobby Wagner to do some more blitzing from his middle linebacker role (a trait he is quite good at, but wasn’t able to do as much of last year, because he was forced into coverage so often with this team always in base defense). The addition of Jordyn Brooks could also free K.J. Wright up to rush from the other linebacker spot, so long as he proves he’s ready to take over at weak-side linebacker. And, of course, there’s Jamal Adams’ ability to blitz from the strong safety spot, where he had 6.5 sacks a year ago.

If you want to know where our pass rush will come from with Jadeveon Clowney now in Tennessee, don’t just look at Benson Mayowa (who is a fine situational rusher, but obviously nowhere NEARLY as talented as Clowney as an every-down defensive end), look at the linebackers who will be freed to run up field more, thanks to the secondary that will finally have everyone’s backs … in the defensive backfield. And, if Jarran Reed from the interior felt like returning to his 2018 level of production (when he had double-digit sacks), all the better.

That’s sort of the best-case scenario from this side of the ball (failing the Seahawks going out and signing one of the free agent veterans (like Clay Matthews) that are sitting out there). How realistic is it that we’ll see it play out the way I’ve described? That’s tough to say. I do believe the secondary will free things up for the rest of the guys, but I have my sincere doubts about the coaching staff’s willingness to blitz more from the linebacker position. We like to get by with our front four on most downs, and with a front five on passing downs. That has proven, in recent years (without the likes of Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril), to be a pretty futile endeavor. I would LIKE to think we’ve refrained from excessive blitzing because we’ve been worried about being beaten deep – and now that we have talent back there to prevent this, the coaches will be more emboldened to take more chances – but I know that this team was reluctant to blitz a ton even when we had the Legion of Boom in its prime.

If my hunch is accurate, then we’re banking on A LOT of unproven young defensive linemen to take significant leaps in their level of production, and I just don’t see that happening. I have no faith in Rasheem Green, L.J. Collier, Alton Robinson, or any of these other guys doing anything in the league outside of being rotational backups. The only guy I DO like – Darrell Taylor – is still working himself back from injury and, without a proper Training Camp or pre-season, likely won’t produce much of anything this year as a rookie.

There’s ultimately two schools of thought: either the secondary will be so good that it’ll give the defensive line enough time to get to the quarterback … or the defensive line will be so bad that eventually the opposing quarterback will find SOMEONE who manages to get open, after he has all day to stand there and survey the field. Undoubtedly, both of those events will be true at various points throughout the season (there will also be the infrequent instances where the secondary just gets beaten, or someone on the D-Line manages to beat his man and gets the opposing QB on his ass), but how good this defense will be depends on which scenario happens more often: the secondary dominating, or the D-Line underwhelming. I’m guessing we end up blaming the D-Line for their ineptitude more than we end up praising the secondary, and we’ll ultimately come to the conclusion that if this mediocre defense didn’t have that secondary, we’d be giving up 35+ points per game. Chances seem remote that this defense creeps up towards the Top Ten; my guess is it lands ultimately in the low twenties.

***

The 2019 Seahawks participated in 14 games that were decided by 8 points or less, including our playoff win and defeat, and the regular season finale that ultimately cost us the NFC West (and forced us to go on the road throughout the post-season). Including the playoffs, the 2019 Seahawks were 11-3 in those games (prior to that, in the Russell Wilson era, I believe we were somewhere around .500 in such games). That has been pointed out by much smarter people than me to be quite an unsustainable winning percentage (most teams, over the long-term, finish around .500 in one-score games).

Given what we know – the offense will be better or the same, the defense will be the same or worse – it’s a VERY safe bet that the 2020 Seahawks will be involved in a high number of one-score games yet again (only in the very unlikely best-case scenario – where both the offense and defense are better than they were last year – would this not be true, because the Seahawks would likely be very nearly undefeated). And, given what we know about regression, I think it’s pretty safe to bet that the Seahawks won’t repeat as winners of nearly 79% of those games.

However, people much smarter than me also love to quote the Gambler’s Fallacy, and I think this applies here as well. Just because the Seahawks won 11/14 one-score games in 2019, doesn’t mean the 2020 Seahawks can’t win a similar amount; what happened in 2019 has little-to-no bearing on what happens in 2020. If anything, you could argue that by participating in so many of those close games – where the importance of executing down the stretch in the fourth quarter and overtime is of the greatest necessity – and by bringing back so many of the players who were involved in those games, this team is uniquely qualified to perform better in these situations given their level of experience.

So, are you an optimist or a pessimist? I probably land somewhere in the middle.

I will say this: much has been made of Letting Russ Cook and whatnot. In effect: allowing Russell Wilson to throw the ball more early in games, rather than forcing the establishment of the run and waiting until we’re down two scores in the second half before we let our All Pro quarterback do his thing. While it’s true, the Seahawks love a balanced offense between the run and pass, it’s not like they’re doing nothing but handing the ball to Carson and handcuffing Wilson in the process; he has PLENTY of first half opportunities to throw the ball. It just so happens – and I don’t mean to alarm you or anything – but he tends to be WILDLY off-target early in games! This is nothing we haven’t seen for YEARS now, yet most fans seem to forget this for some reason! I’ve lost track of the number of times Wilson has overthrown wide open receivers early in games, because he isn’t warmed up or hasn’t gotten into the flow of the game. There are also drives where the Seahawks don’t run the ball at all! Those tend to be of the 3 & Out variety, because again, it’s early and Wilson isn’t quite his usual self.

Russell Wilson is great – I said before, he’s #2 in the league for me, which is a great compliment – but he’s NOT perfect! And, it’s not ALL on the offensive coordinator or Pete Carroll holding him back; some of these wounds are self-inflicted. If Wilson were more on-target from the very first drive of the game, we wouldn’t be having this discussion about always needing to make big plays in the fourth quarter, or otherwise always playing from behind. This isn’t to delegitimize Wilson’s greatness, but it is a knock, and more fans need to recognize it. And, instead of being increasingly vocal about wanting to cook more, Wilson needs to admit that some of this is on him too. Be better in the first quarter, and you’ll have all the cooking opportunities you can handle!

***

Before I go, let me take another quick look at the schedule. It looks … scarier than I remember.

The NFC West is obviously the best division in football from top to bottom; there isn’t an easy game in the bunch. So, right there, that’s six hard-fought grudge matches. The AFC East is no cakewalk in itself. Buffalo (on the road) is an elite team; New England (at home) with Cam Newton shouldn’t drop off too much from the playoff team it was a season ago; Miami (on the road) finished 2019 strong and has a lot of young up-and-comers, with a great coaching staff; the only easy game in the bunch is probably against the Jets (at home). Everyone else in that division is – at best, for the Seahawks – a 50/50 affair.

The NFC East looks less potent, but Dallas (at home) should be strong, the Eagles (on the road) should at least contend for a playoff spot, the Giants (at home) could be frisky if we’re not careful (but we should still win that one pretty easily), and the Washington Football Team (on the road) should be a disaster. Then, there’s the Minnesota Vikings (who I am VERY high on, per my prediction that they’ll win it all this season), and the Atlanta Falcons this upcoming Sunday.

The Falcons are probably a team we should beat, but they’ve got a good offense and a lot of continuity in general. They might not need a whole lot from their defense to keep us in check out of the gate. I’m a firm believer that this will be a true 50/50 game that comes down to some key moments in the fourth quarter. And, honestly, I have my doubts that we can go down to Atlanta and prevail. I think, like many of our games down there in recent years, we’ll come up short in the final minute.

This game could be a real tone-setter for the Seahawks in 2020. Win convincingly, and I think the Seahawks could contend for a division title and more. Win a squeaker, and I think we’re looking at MAYBE contending for a division title, but more likely just a wild card spot and maybe a playoff win before being ousted. Lose a squeaker, and I think the division is probably out of reach by a game or two, with an outside possibility that we’re boxed out of the playoffs entirely. Lose convincingly, and we might be in for an 8-8 type of season, or maybe worse.

I say this because, in looking at our first five games before the BYE week, we go on the road to Atlanta and Miami, and we host three really strong teams in the Pats, Cowboys, and Vikings. Lose to Atlanta, and there’s a very real chance that we could be in a 1-4 hole to start the season (and that’s before we’ve played a single divisional game). When you figure over half our remaining games will be those aforementioned grudge matches, and we’ve also got road games against the Bills and Eagles to contend with, that’s a pretty scary picture. If we start out at 1-4, we have to go 9-2 the rest of the way to get to 10 wins (which you would assume is safe for a wild card spot). I’m not saying that’s impossible; I’m not even saying that’s something we haven’t seen from these Seahawks before. But, how many times do you want to tempt fate like that?

Of course, we’ll know more about the rest of the league after we get a few weeks into the season. Under normal circumstances, I’m far from the best pre-season judge of NFL talent; without any pre-season games or stories to read about, I have even less of a clue! But, I do hear analysts talking about how “easy” of a schedule the Seahawks have this year, and I’d look to shy away from comments like those until we’ve actually seen these teams play ball. Until we’ve seen the Seahawks play ball!

Ultimately, as I said before, I think the Seahawks will be a 7-seed in the NFC. They might win a game in the Wild Card round, but I think that’ll be as far as we go. In that sense, with this being squarely in the window of Russell Wilson’s prime, what I’m telling you is that I’m predicting another disappointing season from the Seattle Seahawks in 2020.

And, since my two biggest concerns are the defensive and offensive lines, what I’m also telling you is that our long-term prospects probably aren’t all that great either. We might end up squandering ALL of Russell Wilson’s prime, before we somehow luck into another legitimate championship run before he closes out his Hall of Fame career.

Has the year 2020 made you insanely unhappy and/or depressed? Well, WELCOME to my Seahawks Season Preview Extravaganza! Abandon all fucking hope!

The Seahawks Have A Roster & It’s Not Too Terribly Surprising

I should also point out that, obviously, this isn’t set in stone. This is just the 53-man roster as it stands at this moment; it very well could change anytime this week, or after the first game, or at any other point in the season. So, let’s hop to it, we’re burning daylight!

Quarterbacks

  • Russell Wilson
  • Geno Smith

Yawn. This was never in any doubt. Especially in a season like this, you want a veteran backup over a rookie. The biggest surprise is that the Seahawks opted to go with Danny Etling over Anthony Gordon on the practice squad, but we’ll see how long that lasts.

Obviously, you have to be happy with what the Seahawks have done here. Russell Wilson is one of the top two quarterbacks in all of football. And Geno Smith … is fine. If Wilson was ever seriously injured I would not want to live in this world any longer our chances at a championship would go down the tubes, but if we needed a spot start out of a guy for a week or two, you could do a lot worse than a game manager like Geno.

Running Backs

  • Chris Carson
  • Carlos Hyde
  • Travis Homer
  • DeeJay Dallas

Contain your glee, because while fullback Nick Bellore isn’t on this list, I wouldn’t expect that to last long. Just try to prevent the Seahawks from keeping a stupid fullback on their roster, I dare you! Bellore will be back. We just have to do that thing where we re-sign someone after the first week of the season, so their full year’s contract is no longer guaranteed (meaning they’re essentially week-to-week players who can be cut at any time with no financial consequence to the organization). It’s kind of a shitty thing to do to someone, but it’s not like fullback is a high-demand position in the NFL anymore.

If the hype around Dallas is as legitimate as it sounds like, we could be talking about the best running back room in the entire NFL. Chris Carson has Top Ten running back talent when he’s healthy. Carlos Hyde could start for any number of teams right now. Travis Homer proved his worth quite well as a late-round draft pick last year. Plus, on top of this embarrassment of riches, we still have Rashaad Penny coming back from the PUP list after six weeks (another guy who, when healthy, has proven to be quite good).

Wide Receivers

  • Tyler Lockett
  • D.K. Metcalf
  • Phillip Dorsett
  • David Moore
  • John Ursua
  • Freddie Swain

One of the bigger surprises that probably shouldn’t have been once you heard Pete Carroll talk about him: Paul Richardson was cut. It was a fine idea, but considering we didn’t immediately jump on him as soon as he was waived by his previous team, you could sorta tell that we weren’t feeling it. He was an insurance policy until someone better came along. As our home-grown guys started getting healthy again, P-Rich was no longer needed. I wonder if he’s lost a step? It’ll be interesting to see if he gets another chance somewhere else, or if this is the end of the road. Obviously, whenever Josh Gordon is reinstated, he’ll take the spot of one of these guys (probably Swain). Also of note: the team renegotiated Moore’s contract over the weekend to lock him in place. He’s earning less than the just-over-$2 million he would’ve gotten on his tender, but it’s guaranteed, and it guarantees his spot on this roster now.

I know this group doesn’t look like much, especially from a national perspective. But, Tyler Lockett is legit, and will likely be criminally underrated his entire career. Metcalf looks poised to be the next Julio Jones. Dorsett, when healthy, should fit in quite nicely with what this team likes to do with its deep passing. When Josh Gordon comes back, that’s another elite-level receiver in our arsenal. David Moore, by all accounts, has looked like a true professional in camp this summer. And, I still have high hopes for John Ursua being a slot receiver for this team (so, watch the Seahawks cut him as soon as Gordon is reinstated). I know nothing about Swain, except he’s a rookie and I think he can also return kicks, which gives him an obvious edge over Ursua, who does nothing on Special Teams.

Tight Ends

  • Greg Olsen
  • Will Dissly
  • Luke Willson
  • Jacob Hollister

Both Stephen Sullivan and Tyler Mabry are on the Practice Squad right now, and Colby Parkinson is on the Non-Football Injury List, so we’ve got all of our guys! Luke Willson making the team is a wee bit of a shocker, but I think he can do double-duty as this team’s fullback for the time being, so I kinda hope that just makes him our full-time fullback going forward. A guy can dream, can’t he?

Like our running backs, I think this could be the best group of tight ends – from top to bottom – in the league. Olsen is on his last legs, but he was still highly productive last year. Dissly is a superstar waiting to not get severely injured every year happen. Willson is a true every-man who is a joy to have on the team and can do a little bit of everything. And Hollister is more like a wide receiver in a tight end’s body.

Offensive Line

  • Duane Brown
  • Mike Iupati
  • Ethan Pocic
  • Damien Lewis
  • Brandon Shell
  • Cedric Ogbuehi
  • Phil Haynes
  • B.J. Finney
  • Jordan Simmons
  • Jamarco Jones

The only semi-surprise is the fact that we kept ten offensive linemen, but considering how hard the Seahawks went after this position group in free agency, it makes sense.

I’ll admit, I’m a little nervous here. I think this group will gel at some point; I just hope it isn’t too horrific in the early going. I’m glad we’ve got Brown and Iupati locking down the left side. I find it endlessly fascinating that Pocic was able to beat out Finney for the starting center job (even though we gave Finney all of that guaranteed money over the next two seasons). And, I’m encouraged that Lewis and Shell were able to step right in here and win their jobs immediately. If nothing else, I really do love the depth at this spot; they won’t be the best in the league, but they should be far from the worst.

Defensive Line

  • Rasheem Green
  • Jarran Reed
  • Poona Ford
  • L.J. Collier
  • Bryan Mone
  • Benson Mayowa
  • Alton Robinson
  • Damontre Moore

The only surprise here is that the Seahawks have yet to make a surprise last-minute free agent signing! Even for a run-stuffing tackle, if not another pass rusher! Unless you count Damontre Moore, which I do not, because I don’t even know who that guy is, other than he’s one of an endless string of ex-Seahawks we like to keep around to pad out the back-end of our roster. In non-Seahawks news, Jadeveon Clowney finally made up his mind; he’s on the Tennessee Titans (1 year, $12 million, worth up to $15 million with incentives … or what the Seahawks previously offered to him months ago to re-sign here). It’s a bit of a bummer; apparently the Seahawks were still in the picture up to the moment of signing, but not in the top two or three. I’m just glad he didn’t sign with New Orleans; keep him out of our conference and out of our hair, thank you very much!

Look, I’ll just say this: I hope the Seahawks know what they’re doing. They seem to be pretty satisfied with what they’ve done here, and are not freaking out like the rest of the fanbase. That’s a good sign, but by the same token, it’s still interesting that we continued to push to sign Clowney even after he turned down our earlier offer. I’m an “I’ll Believe It When I See It” kind of guy, so …

Linebackers

  • Bobby Wagner
  • K.J. Wright
  • Bruce Irvin
  • Cody Barton
  • Ben Burr-Kirven
  • Jordyn Brooks
  • D’Andre Walker

The bummer of the weekend was seeing that Shaquem Griffin didn’t make the cut. He is on the Practice Squad though, so all hope is not lost! I would expect him to play again this year – once someone goes down with an injury – and to make a solid contribution to the team. D’Andre Walker was the only guy the Seahawks picked up from another team after cut-downs on Saturday. He was drafted by the Titans in the fifth round last year and has yet to play in the pros; he did get a good number of sacks in college though, so maybe he’s a little diamond in the rough project for us?

We’re in good hands with this group. Wagner and Wright are still top shelf. Brooks looks like he’s ready to start immediately. Irvin is still looking to prove himself. Barton, by all accounts, has looked tremendous in his second year. And BBK still figures to be a stalwart on Special Teams.

Secondary

  • Jamal Adams
  • Quandre Diggs
  • Marquise Blair
  • Lano Hill
  • Shaquill Griffin
  • Quinton Dunbar
  • Tre Flowers
  • Neiko Thorpe
  • Ugo Amadi

Linden Stephens was the guy we cut when we claimed D’Andre Walker; what a rollercoaster for Stephens! He thought he made the team – at a pretty deep position, all things considered – and then he had it yanked out from under him within a day! By all accounts, the Seahawks want him on the Practice Squad (he just has to clear waivers first), so I wouldn’t expect him to be going too far.

Best Secondary in football. Period. I can’t wait to see these guys do their thing! And, as chance would have it, we get to see it right away when we play the Falcons on Sunday!

Special Teams

  • Tyler Ott (long-snapper)
  • Jason Myers (kicker)
  • Michael Dickson (punter)

No surprises whatsoever here.