Defending The Seahawks On This Kenneth Walker Pick

There’s a weird consensus around what the Seattle Seahawks did in this 2022 NFL Draft. People seem to be heartened by the fact that the Seahawks filled some very important holes, and they did so by not reaching. You didn’t hear a lot of chatter about how the Seahawks took guys most experts projected a round or two later. If anything, you heard chatter about how well the Seahawks picked certain guys who might’ve fallen to them unexpectedly. There was, of course, only one trade-back, and it happened well into the third day. Not a lot of fucking around by the Seahawks; as a fan, I appreciated it.

But, the downside to what the Seahawks did – again this is the opinion of the Consensus At Large I’m talking about here – is that they totally and completely neglected the quarterback position, while at the same time taking a running back with the 41st pick.

I’m on record, first of all, that you can’t call this the worst quarterback draft class in recent history – maybe the worst class of the last 2-3 decades – and then give the Seahawks a reduced draft grade for not taking one. Are you listening to yourself? Just because the Seahawks are rolling with Geno Smith and Drew Lock at the moment – and believe me, I’m no fan of either – doesn’t mean they should have doubled down by drafting a guy who’s not going to be any better than them. What’s the point of bringing in a third mediocre QB to throw into the mix? What is Malik Willis going to do to help us win a championship?

That’s one argument I refuse to have. If any of these rookie QBs eventually pan out, then we can have that conversation. But, don’t pretend like you’re out here touting these guys who the NFL passed over multiple times in this very draft!

The other issue is the simple fact the Seahawks took a running back in the second round. I can see this argument, at least, so let’s talk about it.

The Seahawks very much had a need at running back. Chris Carson, Rashaad Penny, and Travis Homer are all on the final season of their respective deals, while DeeJay Dallas has two years remaining. Carson is currently injured – with a significant, probably career-ending neck issue – and there’s no sign he’ll be ready to play this year or ever again. So, I would discount him immediately; even if he’s cleared by doctors, it wouldn’t shock me to see the team cut him. Rashaad Penny – until late last year – has been constantly injured throughout his career. That’s the whole reason why he only signed a 1-year extension with us! He’s good, maybe even elite, but I’ll believe it when I see it that he can stay on the field for a full season, let alone multiple seasons. And Travis Homer is strictly a backup in this league; he’s just a guy and not even all that good of one, from a football-talent perspective. For what it’s worth, ditto DeeJay Dallas.

The prevailing theory on running backs in the NFL is that quality backs can be found anywhere, all the way down into the 7th round and even among the undrafted rookies. Just get a guy, plug him into your lineup, and you should be fine. These are also, usually, the same people who want to throw the ball 95% of the time, so I don’t know if I’m totally buying what they’re selling. Travis Homer (a 6th rounder) and DeeJay Dallas (a 4th rounder) would seem to argue against the notion you can get a good back anywhere. But, by that same token, Chris Carson (7th rounder) and how great he’s been when healthy is all the ammo they need. Not to mention Rashaad Penny (1st rounder) is the poster child for why you DON’T draft a running back high.

I guess my question, then, is when is it NOT too early to draft a running back? What’s the line of demarcation?

Let’s just, for the sake of argument, look at the NFL’s rushing leaders from last year, and see where those guys were selected:

  1. Jonathan Taylor (2nd round, 41st overall)
  2. Nick Chubb (2nd round, 35th overall)
  3. Joe Mixon (2nd round, 48th overall)
  4. Najee Harris (1st round, 24th overall)
  5. Dalvin Cook (2nd round, 41st overall)
  6. Antonio Gibson (3rd round, 66th overall)
  7. Ezekiel Elliott (1st round, 4th overall)
  8. Elijah Mitchell (6th round, 194th overall)
  9. Derrick Henry (2nd round, 45th overall)
  10. Damien Harris (3rd round, 87th overall)
  11. Melvin Gordon (1st round, 15th overall)
  12. Austin Ekeler (undrafted)
  13. Javonte Williams (2nd round, 35th overall)
  14. Alvin Kamara (3rd round, 67th overall)
  15. Josh Jacobs (1st round, 24th overall)

I could keep going and going. So, for you anti-running back crowd, where’s the cutoff? I know there’s a contingent who thinks even the third round is too early! Yet, of the top 15 running backs last year, 13 of them were taken in the third round or higher. 10 of them were in the first or second rounds. In fact, the sweet spot seems to be right around pick 41, where both Taylor and Cook were selected, to say nothing of Derrick Henry – running back god – who was taken four picks later.

So, if there were no good quarterbacks to be had, and the Seahawks had a pretty urgent need for a quality running back (both to replenish their own supply, as well as to help compensate for shaky quarterbacking we’ve got on our roster currently), why would you shit-talk this team for doing the prudent thing and taking the best running back available? When MOST of the best running backs are taken somewhere in this range, and there was a pretty obvious drop-off in talent in this draft after Breece Hall was nabbed at 36 by the Jets.

For that matter, why aren’t the Jets getting as much shit for taking a running back five spots earlier?!

The next running back off the board went to the Bills at 63; his name is James Cook, and at least one article I read noted him as being among the most overrated coming out of this class.

You jump in there, take the reins of the Seahawks’ draft, and you tell me who you would’ve taken instead. We’d just grabbed Boye Mafe at 40; our third rounder was Abe Lucas at 72. Between those guys and Charles Cross at 9, we addressed our offensive line and got a pass rushing lotto ticket.

I don’t see a lot of point in taking one of the second or third-tier wide receivers, when we already have Lockett and are looking to extend Metcalf. David Ojabo stands out as a name, that would’ve been an idea (especially since it looks like we’re quasi-throwing out the 2022 season anyway). Maybe the center, Cam Jurgens, who went to Philly. Maybe a talented inside linebacker. I dunno, it’s easy to speculate now, but let’s revisit this in a year or two and see who among the players between 41 and 72 turned out to be better than Kenneth Walker.

I mean, this could all blow up in my face and Walker could be a collosal bust in the vein of Christine Michael. But, as I also said previously, just because you get bitten in the ass before by taking crappy running backs too high, that doesn’t mean you just give up on the entire concept. If Walker turns out to be a stud – like Taylor, like Cook – who doesn’t want that on their team? Who looks at Jonathan Taylor and thinks, “Nah, I’d rather have some pass rushing project who will probably cap out at 6 sacks per season.” That’s insane!

Like it or hate it, the Seahawks love to run the football. Who’s going to get a better opportunity to shine – not just as a rookie, but over the next four years – than Kenneth Walker? Rashaad Penny would not only have to prove the last 5-6 weeks weren’t a fluke, but he’ll also have to stay healthy for 17 games in order to keep Walker at bay. And, even then, it might not be enough, if indeed Walker is as good as we think he might be.

You gotta really look at a team, its needs, and its scheme, before you can start throwing out these opinions about how idiotic it is to take a running back at 41. I guarantee you the Colts and Vikings aren’t regretting it. And, I don’t care who’s under center, Walker is only going to be an even bigger help as we throw against 8-man boxes. Let Lockett get underneath some deep balls. Let Metcalf go up and catch passes in traffic. They’re going to be just fine. The play-action game is going to be off the charts.

And when we finally do get our quarterback of the future in the 2023 class? He’ll be stepping into a fantastic situation. Walker should have everything to say about just how great it’ll be.

The Seahawks Drafted Some Non-Quarterbacks On Day Two

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How are the Seahawks at drafting running backs?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Seahawks Death Week: How Close Are We To A Turnaround?

Yesterday, we talked about all the pending cuts and free agents who might walk. Now, let’s see what needs to be done to right the ship.

It would be the peak of unsatisfying insanity if the Seahawks chalked up 2021 to an injured Russell Wilson fluke and tried to run back the exact same roster (more or less; it’ll never be 100% retention), in hopes of returning to our 2020 level of success. As we saw – in 2020 – that level of success was still underwhelming, in spite of the division title. Knowing how much money the Seahawks have in salary cap room heading into 2022, it’s conceivable that we could keep all the guys under contract now, while using that money to bring back Quandre Diggs, Duane Brown, D.J. Reed, Sidney Jones, Rasheem Green, Al Woods, Gerald Everett, Rashaad Penny, Ethan Pocic, and Will Dissly. But, what’s that going to get us? The ceiling is 2020, the floor is 2021 (or worse, if Wilson leaves and we’re stuck with a replacement-level quarterback).

But that is, technically, one option. Run it back for a third year in a row, and see if we can luck our way in one-score games into another divisional title. That option has the possibility of a turnaround from 2021, though that seems unlikely to me. Both that it happens at all, and that it leads to improvement. Stagnancy begets stagnancy.

As you’ll recall, the Seahawks punted the 2021 NFL Draft, making only three selections, by far the fewest in the Pete Carroll/John Schnedier Era, and easily the fewest in franchise history. This had everything to do with trading away so many of those draft picks for veteran players. We’re in a similar boat in 2022 – most aggravatingly missing our 10th overall pick in the first round – but we do have six picks on the books so far. Our first pick is the 10th overall in the second round, which SHOULD net us a player who can contribute right away, but we’ll see (regardless, he probably won’t be a high impact player as a rookie, if ever).

The point is, in spite of our poor 2021 performance, I wouldn’t expect a ton of help to come from the 2022 draft. Figure it’ll be more depth pieces to throw onto the pile we already have.

I suppose trades are a possibility, but if we’re not talking about trading Russell Wilson, I don’t see where we have anything anyone else would want. So help me if we continue trading future first round picks, banking on being good again next season.

There simply has to be a hugely impactful free agent or two that comes in, if we want to turn this thing around.

Priority #1 – Left Tackle

I won’t take Duane Brown or Stone Forsythe for an answer. We squeezed all we could out of Brown this late into his career, but it would be damn near criminal to keep bringing him back on one-year contracts without a viable backup plan in place. But, we also can’t count on the 2021 rookie to step in there, when he looked pretty bad in the limited duty he got this past season (and was already a pretty low-rated draft pick). There has to be someone on the free agent market that we can bring in on a long-term deal. I don’t know who it is, but I know he’s out there. Find him.

Priority #2 – Draft A Middle Linebacker

Get the top guy available at Pick 42, bingo bango bongo. Ideally, he’s someone fast and smart that you can pair with Jordyn Brooks and let them both go off for the next however many years (similarly to how K.J. Wright and Bobby Wagner were once the two young studs in the middle). If the rookie needs some time, then by all means, go with Cody Barton for a few games until the rookie gets his feet wet. But, this needs to be the move 100%, with Bobby Wagner’s salary going elsewhere.

Priority #3 – Pass Rush

Either sign one guy at near top of the market prices, or sign two guys for mid-level money, but either way we need to stop dumpster diving this critical part of the team. Then, we can base our cuts around the guys we bring in (Benson Mayowa can probably go, hopefully we can find someone younger and better to also replace Carlos Dunlap, since he’s incapable of giving us a full season’s worth of production).

Priority #4 – Secondary

IF the Seahawks cut Wagner and bring in a rookie middle linebacker to take over, then I think I’m comfortable using that money to extend Quandre Diggs. There might also be some semblance of a discount at play given his leg injury, though I kind of doubt it. The more you read about Diggs, the more it seems like he’s truly indispensable to this team with his play and leadership. I would also throw money at both D.J. Reed and Sidney Jones; let’s run the entire secondary back! I liked Tre Brown as much as the next guy, but we don’t know how he’s going to recover from his injury. 2022 might be a lost year for him. It would be nice to have Reed on a long-term deal and Jones on a shorter-term deal to carry us over.

Priority #5 – Draft A Running Back

I would make this the third round pick (ideally) or one of the fourth rounders. There will still be quality running backs at that level. This will be our Chris Carson replacement. I’m going into this year assuming we’ll find a way to bring Rashaad Penny back (because his final five games of 2021 were too enticing to just let walk for nothing), but it would be idiotic to expect him to all of a sudden be an every-down, every-game running back. I want a rookie with a higher ceiling than either Homer or Dallas. He doesn’t necessarily have to be the best blocker in college, nor does he have to be a return man of some sort. He just needs to have incredible running back skills, vision, ability to hit the hole and make cuts, break tackles, all of it. Let him develop into a pass catcher or a blocker when he gets into the NFL. Ideally, Penny will continue to be amazing and we won’t need the rookie. But, if and when Penny gets injured, throw the rookie in there, because hopefully by that point he’s had a chance to learn and grow from the bench.

Priority #6 – Draft A Tight End

Make this one of the fourth rounders. I’m assuming the Seahawks make a play on bringing back Will Dissly for a few more years, and making Colby Parkinson more of an offensive priority. He was starting to see more action towards the end of the season, especially down around the red zone; I think his role will only continue to grow given his size. With Dissly back, we can afford to go grab another offensive weapon in the fourth round, to make this room entirely young and homegrown.

Priority #7 – Extend D.K. Metcalf

The Seahawks are at a crossroads here. If Wilson forces his way out, then I think the Seahawks would be dumb to not trade Metcalf when his value is at its highest (he still has one year left on his rookie deal; after that, he’ll be too costly to be valuable). But, if Wilson stays, then I think we have to extend Metcalf now, both to keep him happy and to keep his next contract relatively cost-contained. We don’t want to play the Franchise Tag game with him.

Priority #8 – Bring In A Rookie Kicker

I’m not saying draft one, but definitely bring in a college guy – maybe one of those studs from the Alabama/Georgia game – as an undrafted rookie to compete with Jason Myers. Myers is on the final year of his deal in 2022. I don’t know if cutting him is the answer; he was so good in 2020, I’m more inclined to think his struggles in 2021 were just random kicker variance. But, you also shouldn’t take any chances that I’m correct on this issue. Bring in someone to compete; we’ll get to see how Myers handles that kind of adversity. Either the rookie struggles and we keep Myers anyway (the likeliest scenario, unless we’re really up against it with the salary cap and need to save $4 million), or the rookie is good but Myers is better (and we find a way to keep the rookie on the practice squad until a time comes when we can no longer trust Myers), or the rookie out-performs Myers and it’s win-win when we cut Myers before the regular season starts.

Priority #9 – Center

I don’t know if this is done through the draft or free agency, or by converting one of the guards we’ve got on our roster now, but I think this needs to happen. Maybe, if it’s a rookie, we sign Pocic to a one-year deal and let the rookie learn. Or, maybe we go with a veteran and stop fucking around for once. But, I’d like some real beef at center, to help us keep our quarterback upright.

Priority #10 – Bring Back Al Woods

I’ll be honest, I loved everything the defensive tackle room did this year, but especially Al Woods being a huge presence in the middle. That dude deserves some stability; give him a 2-year deal and let’s fucking go!

Seahawks Death Week: Who Might Be Leaving In 2022?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Seahawks Predictably AND Unpredictably Lost To The Rams

I thought the Rams should’ve been favored anywhere from 8-10 points, and they ended up winning by 10. If you listened to me yesterday, took the Rams, and laid the 7, you’d FINALLY have some money in your pockets! Look, I’m not the sharpest gambler in the shed, but I have my moments. A broken clock is usually right a few times a day and whatnot.

My point is, that’s the predictable part of what happened in yesterday’s 20-10 Rams victory. The unpredictable part was how good the Seahawks’ defense looked. I was living in a world where the Rams put up 30+ and the Seahawks would struggle to keep pace; however this game was tied 3-3 at halftime and 10-10 heading into the fourth quarter. It took two monstrously horrific calls by the refs (as well as a lot of plays the Seahawks simply failed to make, but that’s neither here nor there) to gift-wrap the game for Los Angeles, the second-biggest media market in the NFL (surely, the league isn’t sorry to see the Rams contending for the division title and the top spot in the NFC).

There was a defensive holding call that went against the Seahawks that simply wasn’t holding. That happened on a third down play that would’ve resulted in the Rams punting deep in their own end. Of course, there’s no guarantee the Seahawks would’ve converted their subsequent possession into a score; but we know what DID happen: the Rams went on to score a TD of their own.

Even worse was the non-pass interference call against DeeJay Dallas that would’ve given the Seahawks a fourth down conversion late in the game. That would’ve put us damn near the red zone with plenty of time to try and tie it up. Again, there’s no guarantee the Seahawks would’ve actually done so; but we know what DID happen: the Rams took over deep in Seahawks territory (after a DeeJay Dallas frustrated unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, kicking the football after the refs botched their second huge play of the game) and kicked a game-sealing field goal to go up 10 with just under two minutes to go.

Again, I reiterate, those two plays alone didn’t cost us the game; there were still opportunities for us to overcome them, as well as hypothetical plays for us to make had the refs done their fucking jobs. But, the Seahawks aren’t good enough to win on the road when they’re going up against the Rams, the referees, and the National Football League front office. The Rams are really fucking good, the referees are really fucking inept and/or corrupt, and the league had every opportunity to force the Rams into playing on Sunday, and they gave them a massive reprieve. Why? Because they play in Los Angeles, and it behooves the NFL for the main team in Los Angeles to be good and go deep into the playoffs. That’s it. The NFL got lucky with other teams having COVID outbreaks as well, because they can maintain plausible deniability by also postponing the Browns/Raiders and Eagles/Football Team games, but make no mistake: if the Rams were the only team with a significant COVID outbreak, they still would’ve played this game on Tuesday. Not so much to fuck the Seahawks, but most definitely to benefit the Rams.

Not to get all JFK assassination conspiracy theorist on you, but follow the money sheeple!

It’s hard to get too upset, of course, because the Seahawks are so mediocre, particularly on offense. Russell Wilson was, again, wildly off-target all game. It hurt him a great deal not having Tyler Lockett for this one, as Dee Eskridge came up short on a number of opportunities. But, that doesn’t excuse Wilson vastly underthrowing D.K. Metcalf on a deep pass where he had Jalen Ramsey dead to rights. That wasn’t the only underthrow, counterbalanced by a few overthrows for good measure. Wilson finished 17/31 for 156 yards. As someone who is supposedly a Top 5 quarterback – who is certainly EARNING Top 5 quarterback money – that’s unacceptable. Russell Wilson is doing a great job of playing his way off this team; I can’t wait for him to get traded somewhere else and start kicking ass again. I still contend, though, if you’re truly an elite quarterback, then this is the kind of game where you pull the team on your back. He hasn’t done that once all year. I don’t care if he’s been carrying this team in seasons past, that only shows a further lack of heart, to give up so easily on the team that has made you a multi-millionaire many times over, as well as an internationally-renown superstar. He’s a petty frontrunner who shrinks when the going gets tough.

I never would’ve thought it would end so miserably with Russell Wilson. But, I’ll say this: he is NOT an elite quarterback, full stop.

The Seahawks fall to 5-9. The only good news is that there’s only three games remaining before this season is mercifully concluded.

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.