How The 2017 NFL Draft Ruined The Seattle Seahawks

I was writing about something else, when as a lark, I jumped into the Wiki of the 2017 NFL draft. I will be perfectly honest, I was there because of Patrick Mahomes.

It’s always nagged at me that the Seahawks were scouting Mahomes in the lead-up to that draft. Is that just noise? The Seahawks leaking reports to make John Schneider look smart? Maybe; anything’s possible. But, I don’t know if I would comprehend the endgame of that. Why leak that story at all, if he wasn’t legitimately interested?

If Mahomes was here, maybe Pete Carroll would still be here. Maybe the Seahawks would have more than the one Super Bowl victory. Maybe WE would be the envy of every other NFL fanbase!

The thought process behind the Mahomes-to-Seahawks hoopla was the concept that if he had fallen in the draft, maybe we would’ve taken him anyway, and had him sit behind Wilson until he was ready to ascend (and we could just let Wilson walk, like the Packers did with Favre).

But, he didn’t fall. Kansas City made sure of that. Kansas City moved up in the draft, trading with Buffalo to get the 10th overall pick in 2017, giving them 27 & 91, as well as a first rounder in 2018. For shits and giggles, I looked to see what the Seahawks had coming into that draft. We had 26, AND we had three third rounders, including pick 90.

If that isn’t a kick in the pants, I don’t know what is.

Now, obviously, the Seahawks had Russell Wilson. We signed him to a 4-year extension in July of 2015. You could argue that was the beginning of the end, because even though it wasn’t likely the Seahawks could’ve traded him that summer, if they had gotten a jump and traded him before (or even waited and traded him after the 2015 season), we would’ve gotten a HAUL in return. I know everyone is pleased as punch with what we swindled out of the Broncos after the 2021 season, but just imagine what we could’ve gotten for him in his prime, still on his rookie deal!

Anyway, as that link indicates, I was against trading Wilson in 2015. But, I would’ve gotten over it, especially if it had led to us getting Mahomes in 2017. You take the 2016 draft, rebuild at other spots, then you get Mahomes in 2017 and off you go.

What makes matters worse is what we actually did in the 2017 NFL draft.

We traded down from 26 to 31 (missing out on T.J. Watt in the process). We, then, traded down again, from 31 to 34 (missing out on Ryan Ramczyk in the process). We traded down one more time, from 34 to 35 (missing out on Cam Robinson), all so we could draft Malik McDowell. He was an all-time bust who we spent YEARS trying to recover from (making multiple trades for interior defensive linemen, who all backfired on us in one way or another, while slogging through mediocrity the entire way).

What did we do with the rest of the landslide of draft picks we acquired?

  • Ethan Pocic in the second round: who we dicked around with at guard, before ultimately putting him at the only position he was good at (center), but not before he got bit by he injury bug for multiple years.
  • Shaquill Griffin in the third round: a good, not great, cornerback, who was a pale imitation of Richard Sherman.
  • Lano Hill in the third round: a total bust of a strong safety; not even a pale imitation of Kam Chancellor.
  • Nazair Jones in the third round: a total nobody of a DT.
  • Amara Darboh in the third round: a total nobody of a WR.
  • Tedric Thompson in the fourth round: yet another total bust of a safety, who sure as shit was no Earl Thomas; we also suffer the further indignity of knowing that George Kittle was on our radar and could’ve been had in this spot.
  • Michael Tyson in the sixth round: not the boxer.
  • Justin Senior in the sixth round: who?
  • David Moore in the seventh round: one of the best players we drafted in this class, who was little more than a possession receiver in the vein of a poor man’s Jermaine Kearse.
  • Chris Carson in the seventh round: probably the most talented player in our draft class, who fell to the seventh round because of injury concerns, and did not disappoint on that count in the pros.

In short, we overpaid Russell Wilson for dwindling production, we missed out on Patrick Mahomes – a guy who might end up surpassing Tom Brady as the greatest player of all time – AND we not only stockpiled a shitload of crap, but had to account for our mistakes by making more mistakes in the future, all in hopes of clinging to playoff relevance that never panned out into championships.

You know, it’s entirely possible that the fans would’ve rioted if we’d traded Russell Wilson back in 2015 or 2016. But, I would argue, what we’ve had to endure since has been remarkably worse. Forever Mediocre, as I’ve taken to coining it.

Pete Carroll has two legacies when it comes to his time in Seattle. The first one is obviously terrific: he blessed us with our first NFL championship, he built up an exciting roster of young, ferocious players who were the most fun team to watch in the entire league for a good half-decade or more. Ultimately, that will overshadow everything else, and become The One True Legacy.

But, his other legacy is always going to linger, a Barry Bonds’ head-sized asterisk (minus the rampant doping). Because Pete Carroll shoulders the blame for having amassed such a splendid collection of players and ONLY winning one Super Bowl. He gets the blame for costing us XLIX (along with the OC for calling a dumb play, along with Russell Wilson for his decision-making in that instant, along with our receivers for not properly executing the play). He also gets the blame for the various personnel moves that backfired throughout the years (along with John Schneider, but obviously Carroll had total authority and final say). And, he gets the blame for the back-half of the decade he was here, when he lost control of the team, when his defense failed us, and when his franchise quarterback demanded more control of the offense.

What should’ve been a dynasty, was instead one dominant Super Bowl victory, one of the most regrettable moments in Super Bowl history, and a whole lotta “What Could’ve Been”.

There are any number of inflection points you can point to. Trading for Percy Harvin and giving him a dumptruck full of cash (over keeping your homegrown Golden Tate); the whole debacle that was the Jimmy Graham deal (both losing our Pro Bowl center, as well as changing an offense entirely to force-feeding a soft, slow tight end); giving in to the Let Russ Cook crowd as opposed to cutting ties a year earlier and trading him to the Bears like we should’ve. But, really, it was the 2017 draft, and all the decisions made before (that prevented us from moving up to grab Mahomes) and since (in the fallout of Malik McDowell), that ultimately proved to be this franchise’s downfall.

We’re still, 7 years later, trying to recover, with seemingly no end in sight.

Seahawks Position Breakdown 2021: Wide Receivers

I guess I don’t know why people are so worried about the wide receiver position for the Seahawks. Do you know how many fanbases would LOVE to have two of the very best receivers in the game, in the primes of their careers? There isn’t a better wide receiver duo, pound-for-pound, in the entire NFL right now than D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett; I’ll give you Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce, if you want to include tight ends, but that’s it (and I would argue, given where Metcalf is in his career so far, he’s more valuable at 23 than Kelce is at 31).

But, what do Seahawks fans obsess over? “Who’s going to be the #3 and #4 receivers?”

WHO GIVES A SHIT?!

I mean, let’s get real, people. Who was our #3 receiver last year? David Moore. I think we did okay with David Moore getting 35 receptions on 47 targets, and I’m pretty sure we can back-fill the David Moore spot with whoever the fuck is still on our roster.

Look, I get it. It would be nice if ALL of our receivers were Pro Bowlers. Hell, why not have 53 All Pros on our roster, wouldn’t that be neat?! The fact that we have two elite receivers – who are going to command the lion’s share of the targets, mind you – should be good enough. Let’s not be greedy. Remember David Moore’s 47 targets last year? Again, it was third-most on the team. Do you know how many Lockett and Metcalf had? 132 and 129 respectively. Of the 563 pass attempts made in 2020, 261 were thrown to those two guys; doing the math, that means 46% of all throws went to two guys. The other 54% of throws were spread out to 13 other guys.

The point is, it doesn’t really matter who those other 13 guys are when you have Metcalf and Lockett.

Dee Eskridge was the big draft pick for us this year. Second round speedster with a Tyreek Hill upside, he figures to be given every opportunity to win the #3 job this season. At the very least, you figure the team will find a way to incorporate him into the offense with some gadget plays or something. But, he’s been dealing with a foot injury, and therefore hasn’t been able to practice. That IS concerning. It’s not The Sky Is Falling-level concerning, but something closer to “Do I wait to finish this thought before I go to the bathroom, or stop mid-sentence and risk losing my … what was I talking about?”

It’s more of a bummer, than anything. Eskridge’s potential is so exciting! Especially in an offense with a Top 5 quarterback and two Top 10 receivers already. If he pans out, do you know what this could mean for us? The mind boggles! Unfortunately, it’s a toe/foot injury, which is kind of the worst-case scenario for a wide receiver, especially one who relies most on his speed. Apparently, it’s non-surgical. And, also apparently, they found him a shoe to wear that is helping heal whatever’s going on. He’s expected to come off of the PUP list in the next few days, so all hope isn’t lost. But, we’re in the middle of the pre-season now (he’ll likely miss the first two games of the three we’ve got), so you can’t say he hasn’t been set back at least a little.

But, again, I’m not too worried. If you think about it like I do – that we’re just replacing David Moore – then we’ve got PLENTY of guys already on our roster who can do that. We certainly don’t need to go out in free agency to find someone more expensive! And, when Eskridge is ready, he should be a built-in step-up in that department over David Moore, just as soon as he gets used to the level of play in the NFL.

Freddie Swain is the natural Next Man Up in this scenario. He was a rookie last year and as far as rookie receivers go, I thought he was pretty good! Especially for someone drafted in the sixth round; what do you expect? I thought he was every bit as good as David Moore already, with upside to be even better. The fact of the matter is, we don’t yet know his ceiling, though everyone seems to think they do. The Seahawks liked Swain enough to trust him as a rookie; I’m pretty sure they know what they’re doing.

John Ursua is another late-round draft pick, from 2019, who is fighting to make the 53-man roster. He’s had a tough go of it so far, but he’s still here! Either that means the Seahawks still like him, or he has no other viable suitors (since he was on the practice squad for most of 2020, any team could’ve claimed him if they really wanted him). I’m not super sure what he offers you other than “good hands”, but we saw him try to return punts in the pre-season game last week, so I guess he’s attempting to expand his special teams repertoire (the knock on him was that he was Just A Receiver, and as a result probably needed to find himself in the Top 3 or 4 to reasonably make the roster, since the last 1-2 receivers are usually special teams guys).

Penny Hart was one of those players for the Seahawks last year, playing almost exclusively on special teams. I don’t really know what he is as a receiver, but we’ll see if he has any good will carry over for an opportunity to actually play some on offense in 2021.

I’m not going to write about every single wide receiver the Seahawks have in camp, since the majority won’t make the team. I will say that there’s usually one surprise guy who stands out and finds a way onto the team (a la Hart last year). There’s also usually a pre-season darling who crushes it in the games, but fails to make the team (much to the dismay of fans). This year’s Kasen Williams Memorial candidate appears to be Aaron Fuller, who made a name for himself at the University of Washington, and had 1 catch for 17 yards against the Raiders last week. I expect great things from him the next two weeks, only to be cut before the regular season.

Overall, I’m giving the wide receiver room an A grade. I’m obviously weighting my grade to reflect the fact that the top two guys get nearly half the targets. Their production, combined with the amount of attention they generate from opposing defenses (which, in turn, will open things up for all the other guys on offense), makes this easily one of the best units on the team. Of course, injuries could decimate this grade, as the depth isn’t there. But, really, who in the NFL has the kind of depth that can withstand injuries to your top two guys? And if Eskridge pans out, there’s still room for growth! I could not be more pleased with what the Seahawks are running out there at wide receiver.

The Seahawks Drafted Three Guys

So, this should be an easy one to write:

  • D’Wayne Eskridge (WR) – 2nd Round
  • Tre Brown (CB) – 4th Round
  • Stone Forsythe (OT) – 6th Round

The usual line of thinking is: you like having more options to choose from in any given NFL Draft, because the bust rate is so high. So, out of 10 picks, if you can find three quality starters and a couple of role players, you’re doing pretty good. But, when you pick just three times, the odds of you finding contributors goes way down.

Then, compound it by the fact that a lot of quality college players decided to return to school – in an unprecedented trend thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic and the NCAA allowing everyone to have an extra year of eligibility – and we’re talking about real chaos for teams like the Seahawks. You need to be smarter than normal – and smarter than other teams – and probably play things a bit safer. Go after guys who are more proven college athletes – and fewer guys who are projects at the next level – while leaning on the Senior Bowl to gauge prospect readiness.

The Seahawks are a pretty veteran team at their top positions. They need guys who will step in immediately to compete for spots. We’re looking to get back to the Super Bowl; we’re not utilizing this draft to fill the team in seasons 2022 and beyond necessarily.

D’Wayne Eskridge is a guy who can step in immediately and be this team’s #3 wide receiver behind Tyler Lockett and D.K. Metcalf. It’s interesting to see what the Seahawks opted to do at this position thus far this offseason. With David Moore and Phillip Dorsett moving on, and with Josh Gordon taking his talents to an inferior football league due to ongoing suspensions, there was an obvious need to fill the #3 spot. On our roster, the best of the bunch was Freddie Swain, a late-round draft pick from a year ago; while he was fine as a rookie, he wasn’t inspiring a ton of confidence to fill that role.

Eskridge is a short (5’8 and 3/4), speedy, tough receiver. Combining him with the likes of Lockett and Metcalf will make our WR room among the fastest in the league! I love this pick by the Seahawks! I love it even more knowing Lockett is locked in for his extension, and knowing that Metcalf will be a priority contract extension as soon as he’s eligible.

If Eskridge is as good as advertised, the Seahawks will be stacked once again on offense. He is particularly exciting knowing that we’re going to be watching some sort of modified version of the offense that the Rams have been running to great success in recent years. Eskridge figures to be the recipient of a lot of screens and end-arounds as well as his fair share of deep shots. He’s great getting off the snap with quick separation from defenders, his top-line speed is upper echelon, and his toughness should hopefully ensure he’s not constantly battling injuries that many undersized receivers have to deal with.

The knock is that he might not be great at top-pointing a ball in traffic, but with his speed and body control – as well as Wilson’s propensity to drop those moon shots on a dime – I don’t think this will be a big issue. I think this is a HUGE addition to our offense, and a marked upgrade over David Moore at that receiver spot. Everyone will say he’s a natural to go in the slot, but he’s just as capable playing one of the outside receiver positions as well, making him essentially interchangable with Lockett. That gives the Seahawks a ton of flexibility in what they can do in 3-receiver sets.

For as excited as I am about Eskridge, I might be even more intrigued by what Tre Brown has to offer. Again, this is a pick we could see coming, as Shaquill Griffin and Quinton Dunbar both left in free agency. The Seahawks made some low-level additions to try to fill the void, but no one who really has any firm grasp on any of the open jobs on this team. With holdovers Tre Flowers and Ugo Amadi being … fine, it was clear that the Seahawks would look to the draft to further bolster our secondary depth.

Tre Brown is another undersized guy (5’9 and 3/4) that many are projecting to be a slot cornerback for this team. He has the mentality to be a fierce competitor – just the type of Seahawks mentality that has thrived in Seattle for years – but not the usual length numbers (height, wingspan) that we usually covet around these parts. D.J. Reed is another one of these types of cornerbacks – a little on the shorter side – that has thrown a wrench into our usual mode of team-building, as he has proven to be quite effective in his time here. If Tre Brown is another D.J. Reed-type, then this is a home run of a pick.

He’s quick, he has great recovery, and he has attitude. If his ball-skills are on point, there’s no stopping him. Plus, he doesn’t necessarily HAVE to be a slot corner, in spite of his size. If the Seahawks truly go with their best three cornerbacks, we might be looking at Reed and Brown on the outside, with Amadi in the slot and Flowers or whoever else as the #4. So, I’ll be rooting for Brown quite a bit to win the job out of camp, because that could change the outlook of this defense entirely!

If there is a “project” in this draft class, it’s probably Stone Forsythe. He’s either 6’8 or 6’9 and around 307 pounds. He was a left tackle at Florida, much better at pass protection than run blocking (thank Christ), and could be a swing tackle in the NFL. Obviously, Duane Brown is the entrenched starter on the left side, with a couple of veterans vying for the starting spot on the right side. But, the Seahawks have been in desperate need of drafting a legitimate heir apparent to the left tackle position for YEARS now. If Forsythe already has the skills to be a competent pass protector on that side, I’m beyond fine with him, because I think you can teach him run blocking to be good-enough at this level. So often, we get the great run blockers in here who are suspect at pass protection, and as a result Russell Wilson has been the most-sacked quarterback in football since 2012. So … you know … trying a different tactic might be just the thing to create a different set of results!

As expected, the Seahawks also hit the undrafted free agent class pretty hard. I don’t know who those people are, but what tidbits I’ve gleaned from Twitter tell me that we did pretty good here. Obviously, we won’t know more until we see them in practice/games, but reports are promising at this early stage, and that makes me happy.

Overall, as always, we won’t know how this draft class looks for a while. So, cross your fingers and hope for the best, Seahawks fans! I think we have great reason to like 1/3 of this class, with a good chance to like 2/3 of it. If we make it 3/3 in a few years, won’t that be something?

The Seahawks Made A Lot Of Smallish Deals While I Was On Vacation

All right, let’s run through the list, because I got a lot to do today.

  • Nick Bellore (FB) signed a 2-year, $4.45 million deal that’s probably just a smallish 1-year deal with no guarantees in year two, to spread out the salary cap burden
  • Chris Carson (RB) signed a 2-year, $10.425 million deal with a void-year tacked on to spread out the salary cap burden (only 2021 is guaranteed)
  • Ethan Pocic (C) signed a 1-year, $3 million deal with a void-year tacked on to spread out the salary cap burden
  • Benson Mayowa (DE) signed a 2-year, $8 million (approx.) deal with two void-years tacked on to spread out the salary cap burden
  • Kerry Hyder (DE) signed a 3-year, $16.5 million deal
  • Jordan Simmons (OG) signed a small 1-year deal
  • Cedric Ogbuehi (OT) signed a 1-year deal

Okay, that’s all I know about right now. In addition, David Moore signed a 2-year deal with the Panthers; he was solid, I’m sure we all wish him well. He greatly outperformed his 7th round draft status.

The Seahawks had one of the best Special Teams units in 2020, and Nick Bellore was a major reason why, so it’s great to have him around covering kickoffs and punts. He doesn’t do much as a fullback, and I don’t expect that to change.

Chris Carson, I will admit, is a bit of a surprise to me. I don’t know if this changes the Seahawks’ needs to go out and find a long-term replacement, but I guess we’ll have to wait and see. That means we essentially have the same running back room as 2020, minus Carlos Hyde (but, hopefully, with a full season of Rashaad Penny). I don’t think anyone was excited about Penny as this team’s lead back, but obviously we all know the risks with Carson and his injury-prone style of play. He’s elite when he’s healthy, and it’s a continual struggle to keep him healthy. The money isn’t terrible though. There’s an out after 2021, or if he stays healthy and kills it, we have him at a reasonable number for 2022.

Ethan Pocic is an okay center. The Seahawks have had a run of okay centers for a while now. My hope is that either we look to solidify this position with one of our few draft picks, or the addition of Gabe Jackson on the left side, with the continued emergence of Damien Lewis on the right side, will mitigate Pocic’s limitations.

Love having Benson Mayowa back! Great deal for a solid player! When he was healthy last year, he really wreaked havoc, and I don’t see him as one of those injury-prone type of guys, so there’s no reason why he couldn’t bounce back to play a full 16-game season. Locked in at two years for such a low number is incredible if he reaches his full potential!

I’ll skip over the real prize of this haul and talk about Jordan Simmons. He was let go, as opposed to being tendered, and is back at a presumably-lower salary figure. He’s a depth piece, and it’s always important to have depth. I thought he played pretty well when he had to fill in for Mike Iupati, so this feels like a no-brainer.

Same thing with Ogbuehi. He struggled at first in filling in for Brandon Shell, but I thought he came on towards the end of the season. I hope to Christ that right tackle isn’t a revolving door again this year, otherwise the Seahawks are going to have to get their asses in gear for 2022. The rest of the defensive lines in the NFC West aren’t getting any WORSE, I can tell you that much!

Okay, with all of that out of the way, let’s talk about Kerry Hyder.

I’ll be honest, I don’t know this man. They say he was on the 49ers last year and had 8.5 sacks, but that all flew well below my radar. He will be 30 years old this year and some have compared him to a Michael Bennett type (boy do I loathe hearing that comp after years of the Seahawks trying to draft guys to fit that mold).

It doesn’t look like Hyder has done a TON in his career. He had 8.0 sacks with the Lions in 2016, otherwise he has 2.0 sacks combined in his other four years. But, people are saying this is a great signing for the Seahawks, so I’m willing to listen to them. They’re the experts, I’m some jagweed sitting at a laptop, writing on a blog no one reads.

I think we’re all a little concerned that this means the Seahawks aren’t bringing back Carlos Dunlap. I read somewhere that the Seahawks are technically OVER the cap already, and will need to make some moves to get back down under it. But, I also read that the signing of Hyder doesn’t necessarily preclude the Seahawks from also going out and getting Dunlap, as they play different defensive end spots. I don’t know if any of this is true, I haven’t done the research; I’m still mostly on vacation-mode.

With it appearing that Bruce Irvin won’t be coming back, and the salary cap what it is, this COULD be it for the major moves. How do we feel about essentially the same D-Line as last year, with Hyder in for Dunlap? Well, that puts Mayowa back in a role where he’s more of an every-down lineman, which he did notably struggle with early in the season. He blossomed when his snap counts went down and he was free to get after the quarterback at a higher rate.

It would be FUCKING AMAZING if we could also get Dunlap back in the fold, but that’s looking mighty grim, all things considered. We also have to extend Jamal Adams, after all. Maybe this is a good sign for Alton Robinson, or Darrell Taylor? We’ll see, I guess.

It’s still early, so obviously there’s a lot to go down between now and the start of the regular season.

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!