Who Cares: The Seahawks Shut Out The Chargers In The Pre-Season Finale

I don’t even know why I’m writing about these pre-season games. There’s nothing even remotely noteworthy to discuss.

No Russell Wilson. No … most of the other good starters you know and love. And, clearly, nobody good for the Chargers either. Here are some things I noticed:

Cody Barton looks good! People are worried about the linebacker depth on this team – especially with the injury to BBK – but he was all over the place in this game (and, really, all pre-season); he looks like a completely different player than we’ve seen so far in his pro career! God forbid, if he were to have to replace Bobby Wagner, I don’t think it would be as significant of a drop-off as most people might believe.

Nick Bellore looks … serviceable! I’ll be honest, I never gave him a second thought when I heard they were playing him at linebacker. That sounded like usual Training Camp nonsense that you hear about whenever there are injuries to depth at a certain position. He’s no K.J. Wright. He shouldn’t be starting for anyone. I’m glad his special teams skills are able to translate to him being competent at defense. If he were to play some snaps in a pinch on gameday, I’d be okay with it.

It was nice to see Marquise Blair back in action. With this Quandre Diggs hold-in situation brewing, I’ll be honest, I wouldn’t mind sticking to our guns and seeing what Blair has to offer as a starting free safety. Is Diggs really in a position to hold out? Is he willing to lose game checks over it? I think I’d call his bluff and see what happens with Blair in the meantime.

Darrell Taylor looks like he’s making progress! I don’t think he’s a complete player by any means. There will be growing pains, if indeed he enters the regular season as our starting SAM linebacker. But, he’s flashing some good attributes in the meantime and that’s encouraging. I think by season’s end – if he can stay on the field – he’ll be MUCH better than where he is now.

Alton Robinson looks like he’s also making progress! We all liked what he did as a rookie last year, and it appears he’s making the next step. It’s not a huge leap forward or anything, but if indeed he’s better than he was last year, that’s going to help our defense tremendously.

On offense, clearly Alex Collins did everything he needed to do to make this team. 37 rushing yards and a TD; 7 catches for 52 yards. Essentially, he did what DeeJay Dallas did the first two games of the pre-season (Dallas didn’t play at all, seeming to secure his spot on the 53-man roster). Rashaad Penny, on the other hand, looked disappointing. I don’t think Penny will be cut, because there’s apparently no cap savings in it, but the Hawkblogger article on this game talked about the Seahawks maybe listening to trade offers. I’d be ALL FOR that, even if it’s just a sixth or seventh rounder. Penny is a bust, that much is clear. Taking what you can get for someone who isn’t in your future plans is all you can really hope for.

We saw our first Dee Eskridge action of the pre-season, in a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it performance (which I apparently did, because I don’t remember him at all; to be fair, I was hardly paying attention as I fast-forwarded through the bulk of this game on DVR the next day). Everyone’s raving about him, so that’s exciting. Otherwise, not a lot from the receivers in this one.

It was a 27-0 laugher where no one of note got hurt. I’ll take it. I’m not bothered whatsoever by the starters sitting out the pre-season, because I think they get the bulk of their work done in practice anyway. These are veterans, we know what they’re capable of when the games matter. It’s idiotic to want to expose them to injuries in games that don’t count.

When compared to previous years, this might be the healthiest the Seahawks have ever been heading into the regular season! Now, obviously, guys could come up lame in weeks 1 and 2; that won’t shock me at all. But, hopefully reducing the number of hits in the pre-season is a net positive. All we can do is cross our fingers and hope.

Now, there’s a pointless off-week for the entire NFL before the season starts. I don’t know why this exists, I don’t know who had the bright idea to increase the regular season by a week – but not add an extra BYE week – but that’s life: it’s not always to our liking, and it’s run by people who lack common sense.

Seahawks Position Breakdown 2021: Special Teams

You’re looking at, probably, hands down the most dominant aspect of the Seattle Seahawks in 2020. Michael Dickson had the second-highest average punt by gross, the third-highest by net, led the league in punts inside the opposing 20 yard line, and had zero punts blocked. As a result, he earned a new contract this past offseason, making him the second-highest paid punter in the league. Also, he’s only 25 years old.

Meanwhile, Jason Myers was one of only two kickers to be perfect on field goals, making 24 out of 24 (the other was Mason Crosby of the Packers, who hit 16 of 16). Among them, he made all 15 of 40 yards or more. Now, sure, he did miss 4 extra points, which isn’t ideal, but none of those cost this team any games, so it’s hard to be mad at four points.

The coverage units on both kickoffs and punts were, anecdotally, among the best in the league as well. I can’t point to anything specifically, other than I don’t really remember any instances of opposing teams killing us in this aspect of the game. Plus, Nick Bellore made the Pro Bowl NOT as a fullback, but as a special teamer tackling guy. He’s still here, and doesn’t figure to be going anywhere.

It’s hard to imagine Myers will continue to be perfect at field goals, but overall I like his repertoire. He’s steady. He doesn’t appear to be a head-case (now watch me jinx the everliving shit out of him).

Dickson is absolutely one of the best punters in the game and should continue to be so through the duration of his existing contract and beyond.

And don’t even get me started about how great Tyler Ott is at long-snapping!

If there’s one area where you’d hope the Seahawks could improve, it’s probably the return game. I don’t know if they’ve done that, but DeeJay Dallas had a couple good returns against the Broncos. On top of that, Dee Eskridge – I’m told – could be an elite-level returner. I just think that the return game has largely been legislated out of the game because it’s so dangerous. The era of a Devin Hester-type absolutely dominating the league is probably a thing of the past. I’ll take a guy who doesn’t fumble and who makes smart decisions about when to take it out of the endzone (i.e. rarely, and only when they’re able to get beyond the 25-yard line).

Losing BBK is a huge blow, no doubt about it. Like Bellore, he’s one of our primary coverage guys. I don’t know who’s going to fill that void. But, I’m pretty confident in our special teams coaches and their ability to get the most out of these types of undervalued guys. I mean, we kept Neiko Thorpe around forever and had to finally find a way to replace him in recent seasons; I’m sure there’s another diamond in the rough I’ve yet to hear about, who will come in and take this unit by storm.

The Seahawks’ special teams probably tops out at an A-. The only way we’re getting into the A or A+ range is if we actually have a return man on this roster who can be a difference-maker. Considering there will likely be growing pains on offense, as the players get acclimated to the new coordinator, getting all the help we can get by this unit flipping field position will be HUGE, especially in the early going.

The Seahawks Looked Dreadful In A Pre-Season Loss To The Broncos

In yet another game where no starters played, we saw an offense that couldn’t do a God damn thing, and a defense that was somehow both better and worse than it was a week ago. Again, I don’t know what you can glean from a performance like this, other than the depth on the Seahawks might be a HUGE problem. Don’t get injured, good starters!

On top of Wilson taking another week off, the Seahawks also kept Geno Smith safely stashed on the sidelines. Alex McGough got the start and had three horrific turnovers in his half of play; clearly not a great way to stay on this particular team. Sean Mannion looked marginally better by comparison, but averaged a measly 5.1 yards per attempt against Broncos 3rd and 4th stringers, so …

Still nothing from the running game. 74 total yards on 24 carries. Still no real standouts in the passing game, as the ball was spread to 12 different receivers.

On defense, I don’t know how you can heap too much praise on a unit that gave up 30 points. Sure, McGough (and some shaky O-Line play) put us behind the 8-ball in some of those drives. But the Broncos were allowed to convert 3/4 fourth down plays; the Seahawks, by comparison, converted 0/4 fourth downs.

I saw Jordyn Brooks make some nice plays. Nick Bellore is a fun story: a fullback playing significant linebacker minutes. Rasheem Green had another sack and looked pretty active. I think our defensive tackle rotation – particularly from a run stuffing perspective – will be a big strength when we settle on the three or four primary guys.

The secondary looked pretty weak. That’s, obviously, a big concern. It’s less of a concern when our defensive line does its job and harasses the quarterback. But, when our guys get stuffed, we’re going to need the cornerbacks to actually cover guys and make plays on the ball. I don’t know if they’re talented enough to do that. I don’t think any of the cornerbacks who played on Saturday are starting calibre. Considering D.J. Reed appears to be the only guy worth a damn – and he’s out with injury – that’s pretty scary as a Seahawks fan. Are we SURE Richard Sherman is a no-go this season? We couldn’t sign him to an incentive-laden deal based on games played?

The Player of the Game, non-Michael Dickson Edition, was DeeJay Dallas. He had two phenomenal kickoff returns, including one that went 45 yards. When you combine that with his 3 catches for 27 yards, he looked like one of the VERY few players on the Seahawks who belonged on an NFL field. He looked fast! So much improvement over a season ago! It makes me wonder if he hasn’t earned a leapfrog over Rashaad Penny (who managed all of 8 rushing yards on 5 carries).

As for Dickson himself, the turnovers prevented us from punting as much as we’d like (WHAT A SENTENCE TO WRITE!), but he had a long of 61 yards and landed both of his kicks inside the 20 yard line. MVP, baby!

The Seahawks Kicked Off The Pre-Season With A Pointless Loss To The Raiders

What do you learn when you play a game sans all of your stars against a team sans all of their stars? I reckon you learn that everything about the pre-season is meaningless and anyone who tries to attach importance to these games is deluding themselves. Game reps in fake games that don’t count are pretty much useless and all of the actual preparation for the regular season takes place in training camp and daily practices.

With all of that being said: here are a bunch of words about last Saturday’s pre-season game in Las Vegas.

First of all, boy was I happy to have DVR’d it and waited to watch it until Sunday afternoon! It was pretty clear that the refs were in pre-season form as well, taking FOR-E-VER on a few calls that would have certainly enraged me had I not been able to fast-forward through all the nonsense.

Second of all, to the people who always badmouthed Brock Huard’s color commentary, you can all go get fucked. I know you have no power over hiring and firing, and there were most likely other reasons why he’s no longer doing pre-season games with Curt Menefee (who is also awesome), but now you see how bad these broadcasts can be. Dave Wyman is a nice guy, probably, but MAN does he stink in the booth! He had very little insight to bring to the game, and he was breaking his back trying to find ways to praise all things Seahawks. I know the team controls the tone of the pre-season broadcasts, and it’s obviously one long infomercial to get people to buy tickets and generally buy-in to the Seahawks’ doings this season, but there’s a way to be friendly towards the home team while at the same time acknowledging when certain guys fuck up. I’m going to need to be VERY drunk to be able to enjoy Wyman’s blatherings next weekend.

Anyway, I took some notes on various players I saw who stood out. Some were good, some were not.

I managed to avoid any Twitter recaps of the game, so I’m largely in the dark about the number of snaps guys got. It did appear that Stone Forsythe – the rookie left tackle selected in this year’s sixth round – played the whole game (or, at least, most of it). This was due to Duane Brown’s hold out (though, of course, he never would’ve seen action in this game anyway), and all the injuries to the tackles behind him in the depth chart (notably Cedric Ogbuehi). Frankly, I was happy to see Forsythe get as much playing time as he got! Of course, there were lots of plays where he stood out negatively – especially in the early going – but I’d be curious to know what the team thought of his performance overall. I got the sense that he started to settle down a little bit. I mean, let’s face it, with this game being handed to the three backup quarterbacks, it’s not like there was much hope for us to move the ball all that well anyway.

That being said, BOY did the offense look like a bummer! A 20-7 defeat will be like that, I suppose. 3 drives and 3 punts in the first half. A touchdown drive to start the second half, followed by a missed field goal, two more punts, and an end-of-game drive that did nothing.

I’ll say this about Stone Forsythe before moving on: I hope he learned a lot and improves dramatically by next week, but I also hope that someone better than him returns from injury to help us out. Especially if Russell Wilson ends up getting ANY playing time whatsoever in this pre-season. Is it possible to hold Wilson out entirely? You know what? Why don’t we just do that. Wilson does NOT need the pre-season to get ready for the regular season; he can be just as effective getting his reps in practice, when he’s got the red jersey on and there is little-to-no chance of him getting injured by an opposing defenseman.

I’ll also say this: I have no interest whatsoever in Geno Smith being part of this team. Here’s the deal, you can’t be a statue back there. No offensive line is good enough to protect someone like Geno Smith, let alone the line we’ll be running out there, that has the potential for holes galore! Trying to envision the Seahawks coping with a Wilson injury for a few weeks is giving me flashbacks to all of those terrible Seahawks quarterbacks of the early-to-mid 90’s. Does anyone remember how bad we were in 1992? That was an all-time terrible offense, and that’s what we’d be with Geno Smith at the helm.

I’m not saying Alex McGough is a savior, or even a diamond in the rough, but at least there’s some juice! He scrambled 3 times for 25 yards; those are the kinds of plays that MIGHT keep us competitive in games until Wilson returned from a hypothetical injury. Geno Smith, on the other hand, is always going to throw short of the sticks and need everything to go perfectly for him to move the ball with any consistency. I’ll pass. Even for a backup, I don’t think he’s in the top half of all #2’s. And that’s saying something.

On the flipside, the defense was predictably soft in the early going. Nathan Peterman got pretty much all the playing time for the Raiders at quarterback, and he looked pretty great (save one interception)! That’s all you need to know about how mediocre the Seahawks were. He would’ve looked even better, but the Raiders built a 13-0 halftime lead and mostly ran out the clock in the second half, knowing they didn’t need to do much to win it.

If you could’ve bet on the Raiders scoring a TD on the first drive of the pre-season, that would’ve been easy money; I seem to remember our defense being similarly soft in LAST year’s pre-season. And, of course, by that I mean 2019’s pre-season, because there wasn’t any pre-season in 2020 thanks to COVID. Let’s go to the tape! Damn, I was close, but it was actually a field goal. Still, they marched right down the field – inside of our 10-yard line – so I’ll take it.

Starting the season off softly is a Seahawks defensive specialty. Bend, don’t break, but also sometimes break; I think Ken Norton has that written on a wall somewhere in his office.

Of course, a lot of starters were sitting out. No Jamal Adams (for obvious reasons), no Bobby Wagner (who was seen wearing a face mask on the sidelines; it’s sadly predictable if he’s one of the reasons why we won’t be 100% vaccinated this season), no Carlos Dunlap, no Poona Ford (I think). I’m sure there are some others I’m missing. Anyway, that having been said, there’s really no excuse for Peterman to be so dominant. He should suck against even our fourth stringers! That’s how inept he is.

We saw Tre Flowers give up another long pass completion. Wyman tried to praise him for not drawing a penalty – we’re really going to give kudos for THAT now? Is that how low the bar is for this Everyone Gets A Trophy generation? – but he never looked back for the ball! You can’t be a starting cornerback in this league and be afraid to turn your head back to the quarterback! Nevertheless, I don’t recall him giving up any other big deep balls, so I don’t know how Flowers was overall. He could’ve held his own except for that one play, but given his track record, all we’re going to focus on IS that one play. It’s his fourth year in the league, if he hasn’t figured it out by now, he never will. I’m okay with hanging onto him for the rest of his rookie contract, but beyond that it’s time to let him go and find someone to take his place for 2022 and beyond.

Another guy heading into his fourth year is Rasheem Green, but boy did he look okay! Everyone’s down on him, for obvious reasons. He was a third round draft pick in 2018, and even though he was young, the potential was always there for him to fill out his body and turn into someone special. That has decidely NOT come to pass. 7 career sacks in 36 career games. He’s got Just A Guy written all over him. But, in this game, he looked as close to being a “force” as you could get, collapsing the pocket, harassing the quarterback, etc. I’m almost positive he’ll be on the team this year regardless, so it would be nice if he could chip in with some impact plays every once in a while.

Jordyn Brooks got a lot of run as the de-facto leader of the defense (again, with all the starters sitting out), and he looked active! I don’t know if he was super effective, but he was running around and appeared to be making plays, so that’s a fun sign. I thought all the linebackers looked pretty good! People talk shit about BBK like it’s going out of style, but he had that great goalline play to stuff the quarterback sneak (and almost ripped the ball from his arms in the process). And Cody Barton and Darrell Taylor both looked solid as well. Overall, I’m exceedingly pleased with the linebacker depth on this team, and see no need for the Seahawks to re-sign K.J. Wright, especially at the salary cap number he’s demanding.

I’ll also shout out Alton Robinson, who looks like the good version of what we hoped Rasheem Green would’ve been. In only his second season, it seems like Robinson will not only be a major factor in the defensive end rotation, but he’ll maybe even fight to be one of the top guys! I don’t know who plays what spot, or if he’s blocked by Dunlap or something, but the more the merrier, that’s what I say!

I thought the goalline and redzone defense in general looked pretty solid. That’s a good sign for when the starters all start playing again. This defense is never going to be what it was in 2012-2014, but compared to the latter-day Seahawks defenses, the 2021 incarnation might be one of the best! I hope we get to see it at its full potential, with our stars healthy and actively playing under contracts that are fair to both them and the team.

As for the offense, with the O-Line kind of a mess, and no competent quarterback play to speak of, it was hard to see much of anything from the skill position guys. The running game never got into a groove, and our top three running backs were all held out. That left DeeJay Dallas, who looked better than expected running the ball. 5 carries for 24 yards isn’t nothing! He also had the play of the game, catching a wide open swing route and taking it to the house for a 43-yard touchdown. I like Dallas! I’m glad he upped his game and I hope to see more of this as the season progresses!

Finally, as you might expect, Michael Dickson was the MVP of the game. 5 punts, a long of 62 yards, with three of them landing inside the opposing 20 yard line. With Jason Myers missing a 50-yard field goal, Dickson was the best thing going on Special Teams.

Seahawks Position Breakdown 2021: Running Backs

If the quarterback room gets an A+ based on the starter alone – weighing depth in any sort of significant way brings the overall grade down considerably – then I think I have to go A- or even B+ for the running back room.

For starters, you definitely have to consider the depth much more here. When was the last time we saw a running back play all 16 games? Marshawn Lynch in 2013/2014 is your answer there (and, don’t forget, we’re up to an inane 17 games in 2021!). And also, to be perfectly honest, I’m not as high on any of these guys as I used to be.

I think it’s fair to say Chris Carson has A+ talent. But, to belabor a dead horse, you always have to add “when he’s healthy” to any blanket statement regarding Carson. After a flukey rookie year where he only appeared in four games, he’s gone 14, 15, and 12 games. Not great, but not terrible, I guess. Nevertheless, you KNOW you’re going to need to have another guy on the roster to start a few games, which has to reduce Carson’s overall grade.

And, I would argue we started to see Carson avoid some contact for the first time in his career in 2020. ESPECIALLY after he missed a month to injury in the middle of the season, and it became clear he was trying to preserve his body with his impending free agency looming this past offseason. He averaged 4.83 yards per attmept last year on the whole; you saw a pretty steep drop-off in the final three regular season games, averaging 4.19 yards per attempt. Now, he might’ve been trying to play through something, and so he really NEEDED to preserve his body just to stay on the field.

Also, by the way, he has every right to avoid bone-crunching hits and maybe take a few carries out of bounds instead of needlessly pounding his body into defenders every single time. The career-expectancy for a running back in the NFL is akin to the life-expectancy of a soldier in the Vietnam War; you just get chewed up and spit out. But, my contention is a lot of Carson’s value is in those extra yards he gets after contact, as well as the intimidation he instills in defenders who have to take him on for 15-20 carries per game. If latter-day Chris Carson is going to turn into Shaun Alexander, I don’t think you can even give him an A grade of any kind at that point, because he doesn’t have Alexander’s skillset (I always thought Alexander got a bad rap, but he was a great back for us, different than how Marshawn Lynch was a great back for us; but both were nevertheless great!).

Behind Carson, the drop-off has the potential to be pretty significant, though there is breakout potential from any number of guys.

Rashaad Penny is in the final year of his rookie deal. He’s briefly flashed A+ ability, but more often than not he’s been hurt, to even a more significant degree than Carson (who is the poster child for Injury Prone around these parts). He was lost for the season late in 2019, which left him out of commission for most of 2020 as well. When he returned in late December, he got a few touches here and there, but really made no impact whatsoever.

On the plus side, between doing most of his rehab in 2020, and having all of this past offseason to fully recover and get his body into “the best shape of his life”, we’re looking at a guy who’s motivated and hungry to show the NFL what he’s made of, as he heads into free agency after this season. It’s also fair to wonder how the new system will support his talents; I’m hearing a lot about the team being more under center than ever before in Wilson’s tenure. If that’s true, that definitely plays to Penny’s strengths more than working out of a shotgun set. If he’s indeed faster and stronger than ever before, it might finally be time to take advantage of his skillset in the passing game out of the backfield.

While the top-line talent in the running back room is suspect, the depth is pretty solid.

DeeJay Dallas got some run as a rookie last year. He wasn’t prepared to shoulder a starting running back load, but that was never supposed to be his fate in the NFL to begin with. He’s more of a third down back who can provide some value out of the passing game; but he’s not really a between-the-tackles runner like Carson or Penny. Having survived his rookie year, and hopefully pouring all his efforts into getting faster and stronger in 2021, I have high hopes that he’ll look a lot better. If that comes to fruition, he’ll be everything I could ever want out of a #3 running back.

Travis Homer largely held that role in his two years in the NFL, but he’s been a disappointment. I guess you could say he blocks well, but that’s not going to win you a ton of casual fans. I see a guy who’s slow and easily stuffed at the line of scrimmage on goalline plays. In other words, I see a guy who constantly elicits the phrase, “Why are they giving the ball to Travis Homer here?!” On top of that, he’s hurt and on the PUP. I would say: don’t hurry back. Get completely well and we’ll see you in six weeks.

But, to make up for that, we brought back Alex Collins last year! He’ll only be 27 in a couple weeks, even though he feels a lot older. That shouldn’t be over-the-hill for someone who didn’t even play in 2019, and only appeared in a handful of games with us last year. I would hope he continued to work on his fitness to make it as this team’s fourth or fifth running back, especially with Homer needing some time to get well. I think he’s got … enough to offer. He’s not great, but in a pinch if you needed him to start a game or two, I wouldn’t hate it. Which, by the way, happens with the running back room more often than I care to admit! Why do you think he was brought back last year in the first place?! Because all we had was DeeJay Dallas and he clearly wasn’t ready to take on a full time running back load! Shit, why do you think we’ve had Marshawn Lynch on speed dial the last two years?

The depth of this room really supports the B+ grade I’m giving it (with potential to raise to an A-, but I doubt it’s ever a top 10 unit in the league), but we’ll see how it goes. The big question on everyone’s mind is how Shane Waldron will balance the need to make Pete Carroll (run) and Russell Wilson (pass) happy. Obviously, you want balance. Obviously, a great rushing attack opens things up all over the place in the passing game. But, as Seahawks fans, it’s hard to not have PTSD with the play sequence of Run-Run-Pass-Punt that we’ve seen all too many times. That forces Russell Wilson – and an inferior defense – to be perfect, and that’s been too much to ask for a lot of years now.

There’s nothing really dynamic about the running backs on this team. As guys age and continue to deal with injuries, what is there to look forward to? What is there to count on? It’s not a matter of “if” guys get injured, but “when”. In that sense, all I can really do is spend the early part of the season worrying about injuries every time a guy steps awkwardly or gets hit hard; then I spend the rest of the season wondering when guys will return and if they’ll be the same as before. For what? Fleeting joy when Carson or somebody trucks a guy? Only to then think to myself, “What’s the cumulative effect of THAT hit? How many more before his shoulder snaps in half?”

When guys are consistently getting injured, there’s no joy in consistency. I’d almost rather they flush the entire running back room down the toilet and start over with the draft next year. Part of me is annoyed Chris Carson got that extension this offseason, even though it’s at most a 2-year deal for just over $10 million, with an out after this season that only costs us $3 million next year in dead cap space (and I think you could spread that out over two years, depending on when you cut him; regardless there’s $1.5 million of dead cap built into his contract with the void year of 2023). I feel like the Seahawks should just draft a running back every other year and make due with those guys and veterans making the minimum. Is Carlos Hyde – making just over $2 million this year with the Jags – really that much of a drop-off compared to Carson? Not really. And Carlos Hydes are ALWAYS available in free agency! You can’t walk ten feet without finding another Carlos Hyde – a durable veteran who will average 4 yards per carry – so why not just settle for them, and hope you hit the lottery every few years with a rookie who pops? Carson was a 7th rounder, you can’t tell me this isn’t a sound strategy!

Honestly, my favorite running back on this team is probably Nick Bellore, the fullback. Dude almost NEVER plays on offense – so he never has an opportunity to disappoint – he crushes it on special teams – making the Pro Bowl in 2020 for his efforts – and I’m reading about him moonlighting as a linebacker in training camp! Get out of here, that’s amazing!

Finally, I’ve never heard of … Cameron Scarlett or Josh Johnson. If they make the 53-man roster, I’ll eat my hat.

Seahawks Death Week: Guys To Keep Around & Holes To Fill

Yesterday, I talked about the guys who need to go; today I’ll get into the guys who should stay!

In that post, you’ll find my thoughts on Carlos Dunlap and Duane Brown. My thoughts on them haven’t really changed; long story short: I think the Seahawks need to keep them, but will probably have to restructure their contracts by extending them to make the money work.

The good news is, assuming both are back, there really aren’t THAT many glaring holes on this roster. Which is awesome, because in addition to how strapped we are from a salary cap standpoint (as, again, I discussed in yesterday’s post), we also currently have only four draft picks in the 2021 NFL Draft:

  • Second Round
  • Fourth Round
  • Fifth Round
  • Seventh Round

There apparently might be a chance we get another seventh rounder back, but I’m not holding my breath. Obviously, the first and third round picks belong to the Jets from the Jamal Adams trade, so let’s start there.

Jamal Adams currently counts nearly $10 million against our 2021 salary cap. That’s actually good news! He is, of course, going to demand a contract extension that makes him one of the (if not THE) highest paid safeties in the NFL. As a player with his unique skillset (read: 9.5 sacks in 2020; 21.5 sacks in his 4-year career to date), he deserves to be paid as such. He was the best, most impactful player on our defense last season, and we gave up a bundle to acquire him; we NEED him here and happy. Thankfully, as I’ve mentioned repeatedly, the first year of a new deal is always relatively cheap. So, if we tear up his 2021 portion, sign him to a 5-year contract and spread his bonus over the life of it (with fully guaranteed years in 2022 and 2023), that should make the money work and still allow us to have room to maneuver. We could also leave his 2021 as is, and just add onto it with an extension, which would have a similar effect (not saving us as much now, but also not making it so onerous in the future). It’ll be interesting to see where we go with him.

Benson Mayowa only counted a little over $3 million against us in 2020; I’d love to see him back at around that same number. When he was healthy – and not tasked to be this team’s every-down defensive end – he was extremely productive! I know we have a number of young guys along our defensive line, but it’s always a rotation of guys, and Mayowa plays a unique role that’s well-suited to him and our scheme.

Carlos Hyde earned a little under $3 million. If we let Carson walk, we’re going to need to pair SOMEONE with Rashaad Penny. Hyde was good-not-great. I would argue we could bring him back for the same or even less money; odds are he’d return in this scenario given the amount of playing time he could be looking at.

Given the news that Bruce Irvin just had to have a second surgery for his knee injury, you’d be shocked to see him on this list! But, he earned less than $5 million in 2020, and obviously he would be on the hook for significantly less money in 2021. I would bring him back on a minimum deal, with his salary tied to games played, and hope he can return by mid-season to give the defense a boost. What harm could it do? If he makes it back to form, that’s a fine addition to our linebacker/pass rush units.

Similarly, I think the Seahawks should re-sign Josh Gordon, hope he somehow gets his shit together (read: stops doing drugs, allegedly), and is allowed by the league to play again. He would also sign for the minimum, with his contract tied to games played, and would be a HUGE boost to our offense if things break right.

Cedric Ogbuehi earned a little over $2 million as a backup right tackle for us. He had a rough go when he first filled in for Brandon Shell, but improved as the weeks went on (including a nice game against the fearsome pass rush of the Washington Football Team). You can’t have enough quality backup linemen on a team (especially if my prediction for a Duane Brown injury comes true); so I’d bring Ogbuehi back on a similar deal.

***

If this more-or-less comes to pass (along with the outgoing guys I outlined yesterday), as I said up top, there aren’t a lot of holes to fill. Mike Iupati was already mostly replaced by Jordan Simmons in 2020, so we could just give Simmons the starting job out of Training Camp in 2021. We have other young linemen to fill in our depth. It’s just a matter of filling the center job (which, if I’m being honest, will probably be Ethan Pocic on a cheap extension).

I do think one of the draft picks will probably have to go to a running back, if the right guy falls to us. I’m not sure if Penny will ever return to form, and I’m not even sure if he’s the guy for our offensive scheme. At some point, he’s a sunk cost and we’ll have to move on; that being said, I don’t think Travis Homer or DeeJay Dallas are the answer either. That’s a BIG hole to fill, especially if we let Hyde walk.

I think we can get by with cheap receivers and tight ends behind the guys I’ve already talked about. And, sure, bring back Geno Smith to be our second string quarterback if you must.

Defensively, we’re pretty strong at all levels. The young linemen should only improve as we head into next season. We have plenty of linebacker depth. And, we still have three decent-to-good cornerbacks and three good-to-great safeties. It’s all depth from there.

So, again, I think running back will be our biggest hole, but I also think that’s the hole easiest to fill. I’m sure – as a team that prefers to draft 8-11 times per year – we’ll look to trade down and accumulate more picks in the later rounds. If we can come away with a running back, a center, a strong-side linebacker, and maybe another offensive tackle project (a Left Tackle Of The Future, if one exists), I’ll be thrilled. We won’t have the money to make any big outside free agent splashes, so hitting on these guys in the draft will be VITAL.

The Seahawks Have Overcome A Lot Of Injuries To Get Here

File this under: No Shit, Everyone’s Got Injuries, Sherlock.

Still, not everyone is 7-3 and tied for the lead in their division, with a reasonable path to getting the #1 seed in their conference. If you take a step back and see what the Seahawks have been able to accomplish with all that’s gone against them, there’s reason to be amazed, as well as encouraged (if guys return and play well the rest of the way).

Let’s start with the guys who are lost for the season; pour one out for what could’ve been:

  • Bruce Irvin (LB/DE)
  • Marquise Blair (S)
  • Lano Hill (S)
  • Neiko Thorpe (CB)
  • Greg Olsen (TE)

I know there are teams who have lost bigger stars for the season, but I would argue these are pretty significant hits for the Seahawks. Given what we did in the offseason, this represents a pretty large portion of our free agent dollars (dollars that were – and still continue to be – in very short supply). Irvin accounted for over $5 million on a 1-year deal, and Olsen was another $7 million on a 1-year deal. Four our trouble, we got 10 games out of Olsen (he’s our 4th leading receiver at the moment, with just one touchdown), and only 2 games out of Irvin (he was supposed to be one of our top pass rushers, and ended up getting zero sacks). Money poorly spent, I’d say (the caveat being, if we make it deep into the playoffs, Olsen might be able to return, but I won’t be counting on that).

A big shame when it comes to the Olsen injury is the fact that we recently waived Luke Willson, who was picked up by the Ravens. It sounds like he’s on their practice squad – so we COULD get him back if we wanted to – but I don’t know if he’d want to return and continue to get jerked around (since it’s clear he’s our first option when we have someone we need to cut).

The team had also carved out a decent role for Blair to be a nickel corner against bigger receivers/tight ends. The second year pro (drafted in the second round) has a lot of talent and promise, so it was heartbreaking to see him also go down in the second game of the season. We’ll never know what we would’ve had in him this year, but given the secondary’s struggles overall (and the injury issues, which we’ll get more into below), Blair’s presence would’ve been a very welcome addition to the team.

Hill and Thorpe are lesser losses, but Hill looked better than he’s ever been in his two games this season. One has to wonder if he turned a corner in his young career. As for Thorpe, he’s been a Special Teams captain and mainstay for YEARS, but this just seems to be the end of the line for him. He hasn’t been able to stay on the field for even double-digit games since 2018 (when he still missed a good month’s worth of games), and I would argue our Special Teams have been fine without him.

Next, let’s look at the short list of players who’ve yet to play a single down:

  • Rashaad Penny (RB)
  • Darrell Taylor (DE)
  • Phillip Dorsett (WR)
  • Josh Gordon (WR) *

Of the four, the odds of Dorsett ever playing for this team seems pretty remote. Foot injuries are never good. Foot injuries for wide receivers are especially damaging. And, foot injuries for wide receivers whose primary weapon is their straight-line speed … well, three strikes and you’re out, I guess. As for Gordon, he gets the asterisk because he’s not actually injured, but rather on an indefinite suspension. But, he’s signed to the team and has yet to contribute, and given the talent of both of these players, I’d say the losses hurt regardless! Gordon especially, as he has #1 receiver-type talent; add him to the elite duo of D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett and you’ve really got something! The absence of these two also meant the Seahawks briefly flirted with the idea of signing Antonio Brown, and the jury is still out as to whether that would’ve been a smart idea or not.

Since the Seahawks, as is, are so strong at wide receiver, it’s hard to make a huge deal out of Dorsett & Gordon not being here. If you had to rank this group based on who we needed most, it’s a toss-up between Penny and Taylor. I’m leaning towards Penny because he’s a proven commodity, and there were a few games there where we REALLY stunk at running back, starting the likes of DeeJay Dallas and Alex Collins. As we saw last week with the return of Carlos Hyde, talent at running back is still important in this league, and Penny is probably the second-most talented running back on this team. It does look like he’ll return soon, which could be a boost (if nothing else, to our depth, but I bet they carve out a role on third downs for him, to get his feet wet).

As for Taylor, you could argue that – until recently – defensive end/pass rush was our biggest issue. But, as a rookie, I don’t know what’s reasonable to expect from a guy (especially when he hasn’t participated in any sort of Training Camp, let alone practices or games). I’m still not holding my breath that he actually returns – based on the number of setbacks he’s had – but the team is saying he’s close, which I find encouraging. Mostly, it’s encouraging that they haven’t yet written him off entirely and shut him down in favor of returning strong next year. Either way, I’ll believe in him when I see him in an actual game.

Next, let’s take a look at the players who have missed games:

  • Jamal Adams (S)
  • Shaquill Griffin (CB)
  • Quinton Dunbar (CB)
  • Ugo Amadi (CB)
  • D.J. Reed (CB)
  • Benson Mayowa (DE)
  • Chris Carson (RB)
  • Carlos Hyde (RB)
  • Travis Homer (RB)
  • Bryan Mone (DT)
  • Rasheem Green (DE)
  • Jordyn Brooks (LB)
  • Mike Iupati (G)
  • Jordan Simmons (G)
  • Ethan Pocic (C)

This obviously isn’t a comprehensive list (I probably should’ve said that at the top, but whatever). Let’s start with the secondary: we have YET to play with our full corps of DB’s at full strength. Griffin has been out the last few weeks with a concussion and a hamstring injury; he just returned to practice this week, but it’s up in the air as to whether he can return for Monday night’s game or not. Dunbar and Adams have both missed games AND played through injuries, with middling results. Obviously Adams leads the team in sacks and is a great weapon as a blitzer, but his coverage skills were never his strongest suit, and I would argue they’ve been further hampered by whatever he’s trying to gut his way through. Dunbar has a bad knee that was never able to fully get right. He tried to step up – particularly in Griffin’s absence – but has been abused by opposing quarterbacks the entire season. He’s finally landed on the IR, in hopes that we can get him back to 100% for the stretch run, so we’ll see. Amadi’s loss was a bad blow in the wake of Blair’s season-ending injury, as Amadi was one of our other nickel corners. Thankfully, D.J. Reed returned right around the same time, to give our secondary a boost (as he missed the start of the season thanks to an offseason injury when we claimed him).

The hope for this defense was that the secondary could prop everyone else up until we figured out the pass rush situation (with guys either improving naturally, or with outside players coming in to contribute), but that sadly hasn’t been the case. It’s been made more difficult by losing guys along the already-shorthanded defensive line. Along with Irvin and Taylor, the line has also missed Benson Mayowa (our OTHER big free agent signing along the D-Line) and Rasheem Green (last year’s leading sacker) for multiple games. Bryan Mone, to his credit, has been stout in the interior of the line, and it looks like it’ll be a while before he’s able to return.

The running backs, as I mentioned, took a serious hit. I won’t dwell on them too much, but thankfully Hyde is now back and Carson is practicing again. Here’s hoping they can stay on the field the rest of the way!

Jordyn Brooks didn’t miss too much time, but as our top rookie draft pick this year, missing ANY time is a disaster for someone learning the defense and learning how to be a professional. He has yet to make too much of an impact (possibly related to missing time early on, possibly not), but it does look like he’s starting to get more comfortable with his role on this team.

Finally, it’s time to talk about the offensive line. As Seahawks fans, we KNOW how important this unit is to the success of the offense. And, for the most part, we’ve been pretty blessed with this unit being as healthy as it’s been. Mike Iupati was a question mark from the start – given his age and the way his body has been breaking down in recent seasons – but we have good depth at guard. That depth was thrown into disarray when Simmons went down, as he’s the best backup guard on the roster. Then, with Ethan Pocic going down with a concussion (after having traded away B.J. Finney to the Bengals in part for Carlos Dunlap), we had to move our rock of a right guard, Damien Lewis, over to center for a game. He made it through okay (because he’s clearly Seattle’s 2020 Rookie MVP), but there were some struggles. Thankfully, it looks like all three are back (or very close to being back), so I don’t foresee any of them missing time long term.

To wrap things up, how about a few words on guys we all suspect are playing through (or HAVE played through) injuries:

  • Brandon Shell (RT)
  • Duane Brown (LT)
  • Tyler Lockett (WR)
  • Russell Wilson (QB)?

Duane Brown is an old man, but he’s also far-and-away our best offensive lineman, at a critical position along the line. He gets regular rest days in practice throughout the season to make sure he lasts, but I cringe EVERY TIME he goes down awkwardly or gets hit down around the knees. I think he’s missed a snap here and there, but so far has yet to miss any actual games (knock on wood); I hope it stays that way. Brandon Shell has proven to be our best right tackle by a VERY large margin. He suffered an ankle injury against the Cardinals, and I still have no idea how bad it is. If it’s a high ankle sprain, he could miss a month or more (which would be a disaster for this line). If it’s just a regular ankle sprain, he could be back as early as Monday night. I’m hoping it’ll be okay.

Lockett hasn’t missed any time that I can recall, but we all remember when he was tackled poorly by the Rams (I want to say?) and D.K. Metcalf almost started a riot in defense of his teammate. That was the second time he’s been nearly-injured, and he’s a little guy as it is! This offense is elite because it has Russell Wilson and TWO top-flight receivers. If you take away one of those receivers, it becomes exponentially easier to defend this team. So, take care Tyler Lockett!

As for Wilson, I don’t think he was ever actually injured, but I do think it’s funny that fans have this rumor that he was concussed and that’s why he struggled in our three losses. It’s the same as saying there’s widespread election fraud happening in America (but, of course, only in the swing states, and really only in the swing states that the president lost … how convenient). Never underestimate humanity’s ability to believe what it wants to believe!

In all seriousness, though, this season will go straight down the shitter if Wilson ever gets seriously injured. He HAS taken a lot of bad-looking hits, so I think it’s wise to incorporate more running (with the running backs) into the gameplan. Let’s get through these next four games with a 4-0 record and then we can start flying by the seat of our pants again!

The Seahawks Are In Great Shape After Beating The Cardinals

I told you guys! Nothing is fucked here!

I did a tiny bit of digging on the Vegas line for this game. It apparently opened anywhere from the Seahawks being 3.5-point to 5.5-point favorites and the public bet it down to the Seahawks just being favored by 3. I don’t have a good handle on how Vegas did last night, but I would suspect they did very well. I have to believe the majority of the money was on Arizona to at least cover, if not win outright. Regardless of that, the over/under was set in the mid-to-high 50’s, and you KNOW everyone and their grandmothers were betting the OVER in this one. With the Seahawks winning 28-21 (Arizona failing to cover, obviously failing to win, and both teams hitting well UNDER), it’s my hunch that Vegas really had a good night last night.

I hate to kick things off so negatively, but we can’t get through a Thursday Night Football game without a season-ending injury, it would appear! Remember Richard Sherman’s last game in a Seahawks uniform? Oddly enough, it was also against the Arizona Cardinals (as a matter of fact, Earl Thomas’ last game here was ALSO against the Cards; we lose more Hall of Famers playing this team than I’ve ever seen!). What isn’t so odd is that Sherman’s last game in a Seahawks uniform was a Thursday Night Football game, when he finally ruptured an already-injured Achilles tendon. Had he had a proper amount of rest and recovery that week, we might not have lost him when we did (indeed, he might’ve very well managed it throughout the season, with frequent rest days in practice).

Well, Greg Olsen – apparently our prized free agent pickup this past offseason (even though literally everyone feels it was a lot of money, poorly spent, but that’s neither here nor there) – suffered a fascia tear last night and figures to be lost for the year (there MIGHT be an outside chance he could return in time for the Super Bowl – if the Seahawks manage to make it that far – but it’s obviously way too early to make those kinds of predictions). I immediately thought of Sherman, because the cases seem so similar. Both are aging veterans. I imagine this was a nagging injury Olsen has been gutting his way through for a while. And, I suspect – much like Sherman – if he’d had a regular rest & recovery period, this might not have happened right now, and we’d still have Olsen going forward. These are non-contact injuries, so obviously there’s a strong possibility that they’re both flukes and could’ve happened at any time. But, I feel very strongly that having just played a football game four days prior is the bigger culprit in all of this.

Before I get off of my injury high horse, I’ll pour a little out for Brandon Shell, who suffered a more traditional sprained ankle injury when someone rolled up on him as he was blocking someone else. The severity is unknown, but it’s obviously quite worrisome, as he’s far-and-away our best right tackle. He could return as early as our next game (if it’s just a regular ankle sprain), or he could be lost until the playoffs (if it’s a high-ankle variety). Fingers crossed it’s not that bad!

From a defensive standpoint, this game went exactly as it needed to. If we can hold teams to 21 points per game the rest of the way, we’ll never lose again! We forced four Arizona punts in the first half – including one when they got the ball with less than two minutes to go, which is always prime scoring time against this defense – and held them to just a lone touchdown in taking a 16-7 lead into the break.

Things were a little touch-and-go in the second half, as Arizona started out with back-to-back scoring drives of 81 and 90 yards, but the Seahawks were able to maintain their lead throughout. Probably the scariest part of the game was when we led 23-21 and punted back to the Cardinals on their own 14 yard line. Thankfully, an Intentional Grounding penalty, followed by a holding penalty in the endzone, resulted in a safety for the Seahawks. That begat a field goal for the Seahawks (to give the game its final score) on a near-seven minute drive, which then begat the Cardinals getting the ball back with just over 2 minutes left in the game, needing a touchdown to tie. The Cards were in good shape, getting inside the Seahawks’ 30-yard line with just under a minute to play, but our defense stiffened there, culminating on a Carlos Dunlap sack on fourth down to end it.

Dunlap was everything I’ve ever wanted in a defensive end in this one! He had four tackles, two sacks, and three hits on the quarterback. All told, the Seahawks had three sacks (with L.J. Collier lucking into one, but I’ll obviously take it) and seven hits on the quarterback, after not touching Kyler Murray at all in the previous game we played down in Arizona. Murray looked like he was suffering from an injury to his throwing shoulder, and it’s tough to say how much that affected him. He probably isn’t using it as an excuse, but there were a number of errant throws that helped kill a lot of drives (there were also lots of AMAZING throws on his part, so maybe the shoulder really wasn’t that big of a deal and he’s just an inconsistent, young passer?).

I don’t know how you don’t call this the best all-around defensive performance for the Seahawks this season. In spite of failing to generate any Arizona turnovers, we held Murray to 269 yards passing (the second-fewest among quarterbacks who played the entire game against us this year), we held their entire rushing attack to just 57 yards on 18 carries (in a game that was never so far out of reach that they needed to abandon the run, at least until the very last drive), and I think most importantly: we held DeAndre Hopkins to just 5 catches and 51 yards (one week after he caught 12 balls for 127 yards, including that hail mary touchdown at the end to win it against the Bills). I’ll always wonder how much of that was forced by our improved defense, versus how much of that was Murray choosing to not force-feed his #1 receiver. Hopkins was matched up against Tre Flowers for a lot of the game, and – per usual – Flowers gave up a huge cushion; it seemed like they had that comeback route to the first down marker any time they wanted it. Why they didn’t go to that well time and time again, I have no idea.

Offensively, this was decidedly an old school Russell Wilson performance: 23/28, 197 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INTs. You could tell me that’s a stat line from 2013 and I’d believe it. To be fair, D.K. Metcalf dropped a surefire touchdown right before halftime, resulting in the Seahawks settling for a field goal (to also be fair, Wilson threw that ball about 5,000 miles per hour right at Metcalf’s face, resulting in it bouncing off of his helmet before he had time to properly react and catch it), but I think it’s safe to say this game won’t be heavily featured on Wilson’s MVP Hype Video. It was an efficient, turnover-free game, though, and that’s EXACTLY what you’re looking for on a short week, after losing 3 of 4 games largely because of inefficiency and turnovers.

Carlos Hyde was very warmly received by fans and the team alike in this one (Chris Carson was indeed held out another week, but figures to be back very soon). You could tell from the first carry: there’s a SIGNIFICANT drop-off in talent between Hyde and the running backs under Hyde. That being said, Bo Scarbrough was called up from the practice squad for this one and played as the #2 running back, and I thought he looked solid! Certainly better than Alex Collins or DeeJay Dallas or Travis Homer. Hyde ran for 79 yards and a touchdown on only 14 carries, and Scarbrough ran for another 31 yards on 6 carries. Including Wilson runs (10 for 42) and a lone Dallas carry, the Seahawks combined for 165 yards on 31 carries, which has to be a Pete Carroll tantric wet dream.

Tyler Lockett led all receivers with 9 receptions for 67 yards and a pretty touchdown in the back corner of the endzone. D.K. Metcalf’s day could’ve gone better (he had at least a couple drops, and one of his big catches was called back by a bogus holding penalty; the refs in this one probably had the worst performance of anyone on the field), but he did end up with 3 catches for 46 yards and a touchdown.

As I said before, this win puts us in great shape. We’re now 7-3, and 2-2 in the division (5-2 in the conference). Our very next game is a Monday night affair on the 30th in Philly. Given how bad the Eagles are, and how elite the Seahawks are on MNF, I really like our chances in that one. Then we have back-to-back home games against the New York teams (they should be pushovers), followed by a road game in Washington (which sneakily might be the toughest of the bunch). I have the utmost confidence in the Seahawks being 4-0 in this stretch, which brings us back home for a Must Win game against the Rams (to ensure our winning the NFC West), before a season-ending Should Win game against the 49ers on the road.

I hope the Seahawks use these next 11 days to get healthy, because we’re heading directly into the home stretch of the regular season. It’s time to stop fucking around and put some distance between us and the rest of the NFC. If the defense can look just like this the rest of the way, I think we’ll be okay.

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!

The Seahawks Needed A Win Like That

When the best thing the Seahawks have going for them in the run-up to a game is my gut telling me the other team is bound to be victorious, it’s never really a great sign. And yet, my gut has literally never failed me (by, ironically enough, always being wrong)!

I don’t really know how you see a game like that coming, though. I know a 37-27 victory doesn’t LOOK like the defense was worth a damn, but 20 of those points happened in the fourth quarter when Nick Mullens came in for Jimmy G and ate up a good amount of garbage-time yards and points. For the first three quarters of that game, the Seahawks’ defense properly dominated – taking a 27-7 lead into the final frame – and while giving up 20 points and however many hundreds of yards at the end doesn’t look great, if you gave me a 20-point lead heading into every single fourth quarter, I would gladly accept no questions asked.

I read somewhere that the Seahawks blitzed on over 50% of their plays in this one, which is pretty crazy for anyone, but especially for this team! Given that Jimmy G is a little hobbled, it made sense, as he really wasn’t going to get away from us. That translated to three sacks, an interception, eight quarterback hits, and somehow 6.5 tackles for loss (how do you end up with a fractional tackle for loss? Your guess is as good as mine).

Bobby Wagner was a man possessed in this one, and that’s saying something (that he’s the lead story for this game) considering Russell Wilson threw four touchdown passes. He led the game in tackles (11, 3 for loss) and had two of our sacks (while hitting the quarterback two more times). This was, honestly, the first time Wagner really flashed in a game this season, and was his single-greatest performance in YEARS. I dunno, that could be an exaggeration; for all I know he could’ve had a similar game in 2019 sometime. But, nothing really stands out to me; these games have been the exception, not the rule, in recent seasons. And, when you factor in all the injuries (Benson Mayowa, our best defensive line pass rusher, was out; Jamal Adams couldn’t make it back; Shaquill Griffin and Ugo Amadi also had to sit), that made it all the more impressive. We’ve been lamenting the lack of talent around Bobby Wagner as the main reason for his decline, but this game showed he still has some of the good stuff left in him (and we needed every bit of it).

The injury bug didn’t stop there, as our top two running backs couldn’t make it back either; Chris Carson is week-to-week with a foot injury, and Carlos Hyde apparently pulled something while celebrating last week? Jesus Christ. That meant that DeeJay Dallas got the lion’s share of the carries; he did what he could, but the 49ers seemed to be particularly stout against our inside rushing game in this one (he finished with 41 yards on 18 carries, but did score two TDs, including one through the air while catching 5 balls for 17 more yards).

As such, this game was always destined to be a Russell Wilson-heavy affair, and he didn’t disappoint. 27/37 for 261 and 4 touchdowns. This one didn’t have a ton of razzle dazzle, but the MVP Hype Train is chugging full steam ahead.

The offense struggled a bit in the first half, as we could only muster a 13-7 halftime lead. But, we really put the game away in the third quarter, and I was impressed by how we attacked them in the fourth when they were mounting their futile comeback attempt. The 49ers pulled it to 30-20 with just over four minutes left, and that could’ve been a drive where we just ran it three times and bled their time outs. Past Seahawks teams might’ve won this game 30-27, needing a stop at the end to prevent a disaster, with no one really coming away feeling good about what transpired. But, we got the ball back near midfield (after a failed onside kick attempt) and proceeded to resume throwing the ball, scoring that back-breaking touchdown while ALSO bleeding their time outs. That’s what championship-calibre teams do.

The fact that I’ve gone this long without mentioning D.K. Metcalf is utter lunacy. He caught 12 balls for 161 yards and 2 touchdowns, and it looked EASY. The 49ers couldn’t do a damn thing with him, and if Wilson had pressed the issue, Metcalf could’ve accounted for the entirety of our offense. Whoever was defending him looked like a 10 year old boy trying to cover a full-grown man. If Wilson hadn’t been just a bit short with one of his deep balls, there would’ve been a third touchdown and closer to 200 yards receiving. Just an all-around dominant performance from one of the most dominant receivers in the game today.

As such, it was a relatively quiet day for everyone else on the offense. On defense, the return of D.J. Reed was a sight to behold! He came up with the interception, plus two passes defended and six tackles. We picked him up this past offseason from the 49ers (who waived him as he was injured at the time) and this was his first game back; the timing couldn’t have been more perfect! It looks like he’ll start taking snaps from Ugo Amadi, but at some point we’ll have to think about him taking snaps from Tre Flowers (who, to his credit, played a pretty strong game from what I saw, though I didn’t see how many of those yards in the fourth quarter he might have given up). Also, it was nice to see Alton Robinson return with a sack. And, look at that! Tight end Stephen Sullivan got some run on the defensive line and had that half-a-tackle-for-loss!

It’s hard to know what this game means in the grand scheme of things. We looked great against the 49ers starters, but then their quarterback, running back, and all-world tight end all got injured and they ran up 20 points against our prevent defense. While I’m sure we were playing it safe there towards the end, you also KNOW we really wanted to keep the score down and crow about this being the start of something big. As it stands, I think we should feel very good about what we did in this game as a whole. But, obviously, it’s not as great a day as it should have been.

Ultimately, it was nice to see no hangover whatsoever from that Arizona game. At 6-1, we’ve taken back our spot as the top team in the NFC (thanks to a Packers loss, everyone else has at least two defeats). Now we get to look forward to as meaningless of a regular season game as it gets when we go to Buffalo next week.