Seahawks Death Week: We’ve Got Holes To Fill On Defense

So, unless things have gone horribly wrong, by now I’ve written about the last Seahawks game of the season, I’ve written about the things that have gone right, and the things that have gone wrong. Now, it’s time to get to work on that all-important roster building.

To start, here are a list of free agents, in some particular order:

Defense

  • Jadeveon Clowney (DE)
  • Jarran Reed (DT)
  • Mychal Kendricks (LB)
  • Ziggy Ansah (DE)
  • Quinton Jefferson (DL)
  • Al Woods (DT)
  • Akeem King (DB)
  • Neiko Thorpe (DB)
  • Branden Jackson (DL)

That’s a lot of our regular defensive line rotation, including starters in Clowney and Reed, as well as significant 2019 role players like Ansah, Woods, Q-Jeff, and Jackson.

Obviously, Clowney is the big name here. He will be 27 years old in 2020, and he’ll be looking for his first real BIG payday. We’re talking $20+ million per season on average, one of the five highest paid defensive people in the league. With his injury and impending surgery, you have to wonder if that’ll scare teams off a little bit. Not a lot; I think he’ll still see a huge payday, but I wonder if extra protections for the team will be built in.

Is he worth it? That’s the ultimate question. This is a guy who had 3 sacks all regular season. Is that a $20+ million a year guy? I’ll tell you this much, SOMEONE will pay him that much, because he’s obviously more than a straight-up sacks guy. He’s elite against the run, and he has one of the highest pressure rates. Also, even though we’re talking about a second contract – and you rarely see the value over the duration of the deal – defensive linemen tend to age pretty well. It’s not inconceivable that he’d live up to the money over the next four years. But, this core injury isn’t the only thing that’s ever happened to him. Coming out of college and through his first couple years, he missed quite a bit of time. On the one hand, fresher legs; on the other hand, there’s a risk of re-injury.

I’m not going to sit here and say the Seahawks HAVE to pay him whatever he wants; I’m sure they’ll make the decision they want to make. If that means we back up the Brinks truck, so be it, I’ll be fine with it. If we let some other team over-pay for an injury risk, I can easily talk myself into that as well.

But, the bottom line is: the Seahawks need to do SOMETHING. I don’t know what the free agent landscape looks like for pass rushers in 2020, but the cupboard is bare here in Seattle. It’s as bare as it gets, and when you consider how horrible we were in 2019 (WITH Clowney), trying to imagine an even WORSE pass rush makes me sick to my stomach.

This brings us to Jarran Reed, who looked like he was on pace for a huge payday as well. 10.5 sacks in 2018, as an interior lineman, is a remarkable achievement. So, we know he has that in him anyway (at least, when the conditions are right). But, then he was suspended for 6 games in 2019, and when he came back he wasn’t quite his old self. He fell all the way down to 2.0 sacks, and with the prior suspension, he now holds the risk of an even bigger punishment if he gets in trouble a second time. So, his value fell pretty far.

I don’t know what he’s looking for, but if we could bring him back on a team-friendly 3-4 year deal, I wouldn’t hate it. I also wouldn’t mind a 1-year prove-it deal, though obviously that’s not as good for our salary cap (unless it’s an insanely low figure with lots of incentives he’s not expected to reach based on his 2019 production). But, it would be asinine to get in a bidding war for his services, considering what he was able to bring to this team in his 10 games plus the playoffs. Ultimately, Reed made next-to-zero impact for this team, when we REALLY needed him to step up and take on more of the pass rushing load.

Ziggy Ansah needs to go. That’s all I need to say about him; he’s finished in this league.

Al Woods is a fine player, and I would assume we could bring him back cheaply if we wanted. He’s also Just A Guy, so whatever.

Q-Jeff is a nice player, and it’s unfortunate he got injured in our game in Green Bay. I would expect maybe a moderate raise, but he obviously doesn’t bring a ton to the table from a pass rushing perspective. So, breaking the bank isn’t necessary here.

Next up is Mychal Kendricks, who ended 2019 on IR. He was fine, but again I don’t really know what he brought to the table. It feels like Cody Barton (or pretty much anyone else) could do what he did and we’d be fine.

Finally, King and Thorpe are also just regular dudes. Thorpe obviously has value on special teams, but he’ll be 30 years old and in his 8th season in the league. I feel like we’ve successfully replaced what he brought to this team and maybe can move on with younger guys. King won’t be contending for a starting job anywhere, but maybe he’ll want more of a chance to at least compete for a spot. It feels like he’s hit his ceiling in our defense, and he might want a change of scenery.

***

As for the guys who are already under contract, I don’t see a lot of dead weight that we NEED to get rid of for salary cap purposes.

K.J. Wright will be 31 years old and on the final year of his deal. He’s set to count about $10 million against the salary cap, with only $2.5 million in dead money, for $7.5 million in savings. That’s not nothing, especially when we might be paying a lot for Clowney, plus another pass rusher or two.

If we move on from Wright, it probably means he didn’t want to take a pay cut. He was second in tackles on the team with 132 (not significantly fewer than league leader Bobby Wagner’s 159), he played in every game, and he played a high percentage of this team’s overall snaps. If you cut him, it means you believe Cody Barton is ready to start this year (or you draft someone who you can’t afford to sit because he’s too talented). But, also if you cut him then you have to fill two linebacker spots (one, presumably, with Barton, and the other TBD).

Ultimately, I don’t think the Seahawks will release Wright, based on shared history and what he’s meant to the success of this defense since 2011. But, you can’t totally dismiss it given his high salary figure, and the need to improve across the entire D-Line.

The other possible decision the Seahawks need to make is whether they want to give Shaquill Griffin a long-term extension. Do they believe he’s the guy to build around in that secondary? He’s set to earn less than $1 million in 2020, so there would be a considerable discount to be had to make it worth our while in the long term. Think about what we did by extending Tyler Lockett a year early; he’s on a VERY team-friendly deal now, and it’s paying significant dividends.

I thought Griffin really took a big leap forward in his development in 2019. I don’t know where he ranks among all cornerbacks, but I feel like he’s right there in the 2nd or 3rd tier. He’s not a lockdown guy; he’s not among the best of the very best. But, he’s a solid starter, he doesn’t give up a ton of catches or yards, and more often than not teams go away from his side (it helps that Tre Flowers is the guy opposite him, and he gives up practically everything). If there’s a reasonable figure the team can get to with Griffin, I think I’d like to see them do a Lockett-type deal. Something that gives the young player a nice raise, while showing him he’s part of the long term plan and affords the team some future flexibility in their cap from 2020-2022.

***

Big picture for 2020, the defensive line is in shambles, and the secondary needs a huge infusion of talent.

As things stand today, L.J. Collier and Rasheem Green would be your starting defensive ends. Collier was a healthy scratch most of the season (including both playoff games) and Green was our leading sacker with a whopping 4.

Collier can be considered nothing but a huge disappointment. You expect your first round picks – even your late first rounders – to contribute in some way, if not be a starter from day one. Obviously, the starting jobs were taken on this team, but he brought NOTHING to this team as a rookie. That doesn’t mean he’s a bust, necessarily – he’s still got three more years to prove that he’s worth a 5th year option – but he better work his fucking ass off in the offseason and come into camp like a man possessed.

As for Green, as I’ve written about before, he took a moderate step forward. But, as I point out all the time, unless you’re uber-talented, it’s hard for young defensive linemen to make big impacts; it usually takes a few years to grow into your body, bulk up, and learn the nuances of how to play in this league. For so many players who go on to be drafted in the first couple days, the college game is simple. The offensive linemen stink, the schemes are dumbed down, and you can just go out there and kick ass. In the NFL, you need to smarten up quite a bit, or you’ll be left behind.

Along the interior, we’ve got Poona Ford and some scrubs. This team needs to improve its pass rush, but also get better at defending the run. Ultimately, the Seahawks need a whole makeover at D-Line, so there’s work to be done.

In the secondary, Griffin and Flowers figure to return as starters. One can only hope Flowers takes a similar leap in his development between Year 2 & 3 as Griffin did this past season. Diggs and McDougald figure to be your starters at safety, though I would hope Marquise Blair gets a legitimate opportunity to compete and start. It would also be helpful if Ugo Amadi works on his craft quite a bit this offseason to be this team’s nickel corner.

I would LOVE it if we drafted yet another safety, and cut Lano Hill and Tedric Thompson, those wastes of fucking (roster) space. I’d also love it if we maybe made a low-level trade for another nickel corner, if Amadi doesn’t work out. See if we can find the next Justin Coleman.

More than anything, I guess we just need the secondary to improve on their own, because I can’t envision the Seahawks making wholesale changes or putting too many resources into this area, when there are other more-pressing concerns.

Tomorrow, we’ll look at all the holes on offense, where I’m concerned a lot of our free salary cap space will end up going.

Seahawks Death Week: Where the 2019 Season Went Wrong

Well, you can start by the Seahawks losing to Green Bay in the playoffs, but let’s dig a little deeper.

The talking points among the veterans on this team (well, at least the vets who are under contract beyond 2019) have revolved around there being a lot of hope for the future. We’ll get around to that tomorrow, but for now I’m still in a bit of a mood, and that mood subsists on a diet of negativity and self-loathing.

I’ve got a list of players to rant about today, split into two groups. Before we get to the truly egregious offenders of our misery, let’s start with the mediocre players who didn’t totally kill our hopes and dreams, but also did very little in helping us achieve them.

Where It All Went Meh

I could talk about pretty much everyone in the back quarter of the roster/practice squad/scrap heap, but here are a few names worth mentioning.

Jarran Reed was suspended for the first six games of the season. Why it took the league so long to get around to this – when the incident apparently happened years ago – is beyond me, but the conspiracy nut in me feels it’s a plot against my beloved Seahawks. Regardless, it was a hefty punishment, but in the grand scheme of things it arguably only cost us a single game. Nevertheless, missing out on that time must’ve done something to negatively impact the rest of his season, because he ended the year with a whopping 2 sacks. That’s 8.5 fewer than 2018. Was he out of shape? Did the layoff force him to take longer to ramp back up, as if he needed a second “pre-season” to get going again? Whatever it was, he hardly made an impact.

Sticking with the theme, our other starting DT, Al Woods, ended the season with a suspension. That cost him the last two regular season games (both losses) as well as our two post-season games. Had we prevailed in Green Bay, we would’ve had him back for next week, but obviously that’s down the shitter, and now he’s a free agent. At the most crucial time – when we were at our most injured – we could absolutely not afford to lose another important player, particularly on defense.

Tre Flowers took a lot of heat after our loss to the Packers and I know a lot of fans are killing him in the fallout, but over the course of the season he was … whatever. With him, it always feels like two steps forward, two steps back. I think we were all quite impressed with him as a rookie, especially since he was converting from his safety spot in college, but the total lack of growth this year was pretty grim. I guess we were saying the same thing about Shaquill Griffin this time last year, and he really showed out in his third season, so that’s the only reason why I’m not completely off the bandwagon. But, I’ve got one foot out the door; I’m going to be very suspicious until I see real improvement on the field.

The tough part about rooting for the Seahawks is that so many of our hopes are tied into the younger guys, and if they’re not coming out right away and blowing our minds, it feels like our tires are going to continue to spin in the mud. With so much of our salary cap tied into Wilson, the O-Line, and our linebackers, we really need cost-effective younger guys to step into major roles on this team earlier and earlier. Which makes the rookie seasons of Ugo Amadi and Marquise Blair so frustrating. The fact of the matter is, we don’t know what those guys can bring to the table, because they spent so much of the season buried behind inferior veterans (who I’ll talk about later). Particularly with Blair, who actually looked decent in his appearances this season; why wouldn’t this coaching staff go with the higher-upside talent over the veterans who have proven time and time again that they stink?

Finally, a few words on Rasheem Green. He was as disappointing as it gets as a rookie in 2018. Going from that to leading the Seahawks in sacks in 2019 sounds fucking phenomenal! You’re telling me this team had Jadeveon Clowney, Ziggy Ansah, and Jarran Reed, and second-year prospect Rasheem Green led the team in sacks?! Wahoo! Except, oh yeah, he had exactly 4 sacks, and this unit was absolutely abysmal at getting to the quarterback. Steady progress is still progress, but from the looks of things, we’re going to need Green to make a bigger leap in 2020.

Where It All Went Completely Fucking FUBAR

Let’s get this out of the way now (speaking of the D-Line): Ziggy Ansah was a total fucking atrocity. 2.5 sacks in 11 games. Of course, he was never going to be a sure thing, coming off of injury and settling for a prove-it deal to build his value back. And, the Seahawks (as beggars) weren’t in a position to be choosers when it came to building a pass rush on the fly. We were cash-strapped and still dealing with the fallout of losing Cliff Avril and Malik McDowell to career-ending injuries. It’s taken 2018 & 2019 just to get things right again (moneywise), but in that time we failed to develop any semblance of a competent defensive line on our own, so we had to go dumpster diving, and in walks Ansah. While it was always a risk, given his track record, the HOPE was that at some point he’d return to maybe 75% of his old, dominant self. Instead, we got a washed-up 30 year old who really doesn’t seem to be all that invested in his football career. Ansah sounds like he’s not really passionate about the game, and on this team, that’s just not gonna fly.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, L.J. Collier was a first round pick this season. He got hurt in August, missed the pre-season, and was only active for 11 games this year (being declared a healthy scratch more times than I can count on one hand, on a team that – as I’ve mentioned repeatedly – was one of the worst in the league at getting to the quarterback. He was deemed to be a reach by most experts at the time of the selection, and he’s looking like a bust now. We’ll see where he goes from here.

Normally, I wouldn’t even bother to mention someone like Ed Dickson in a post like this. He’s a veteran tight end who has been out with injury more than he’s played in his two seasons in Seattle. But, considering all the turnover we had to endure at the tight end position (including yet another tragic injury to Will Dissly, this time after only 6 games; as well as trading Nick Vannett to the Steelers), there were times we REALLY could’ve used Dickson. I remember a couple weeks there where we might not have had as many as TWO healthy tight ends on the roster, which is big for a team like the Seahawks, who feature the position immensely. Look for Dickson to be cut, saving us $3 million in the process.

Sticking with the offense for a bit, David Moore sure disappointed. He missed the early part of the season with an injury, then came back but could never get in sync with Wilson, in spite of what appeared to be WAY too many attempts. Moore was targeted 34 times and only managed to catch half of them, for all of 2 touchdowns. Sure, a lot of those were contested, but Moore was simply incapable of making a play on the ball when the team needed him.

So, we brought in Josh Gordon, and right away he made a difference. He only caught 7 passes for 139 yards in his 5 games here, but it seemed like all of them were either for significant yardage or to convert third downs. Then, he was suspended again, and that shining light was taken away from us. The ramifications were pretty great. For starters, we clearly could’ve used him down the stretch in the regular season (where we lost our last two games), and we DEFINITELY could’ve used him in Green Bay (where we were stuck with Malik Turner dropping a critical pass in our final possession of the season). On top of that, when we first picked up Gordon, he was our 8th wide receiver, meaning someone had to go. We eventually waived our rookie draft pick Greg Jennings. We were unable to sneak him onto our practice squad, as Miami ended up grabbing him. He hasn’t done anything yet, but if he turns into a stud, it’ll look really bad for us.

Finally, let’s talk about where it went the MOST wrong: the secondary.

The Seahawks could never get the nickel corner spot figured out. Justin Coleman had it locked down previously, but with our cap situation – and his considerable value on the open market – we couldn’t dream of matching his 4-year, $36 million deal with the Lions. So, we cheaped out. A slew of veterans – including notoriously-terrible Jamar Taylor – stunk up the joint so bad, we were hands down the team to spend the most time in base defense. It was okay for the most part, but it still meant seeing our linebackers getting beat on a regular basis.

Ultimately, the biggest downfall of this team came at the safety position (once our very strongest spot, only a few short years ago), specifically Tedric Thompson and Lano Hill. I can’t say enough terrible things about those guys. Aside from Ansah, the 2017 draft picks were far and away the biggest disappointments of this season. The worst part is, they’re under contract for 2020. The second-worst part is, this coaching staff keeps giving them ample opportunities over younger guys who almost certainly have higher upsides. I can’t stand how devoted this staff is to these two terrible players; someone please put me out of my misery by taking their jobs permanently!

Seahawks Death Week: The 2019 Seahawks Were Too Pure For This World

I’m still sort of catatonic and it’s going to be at least another day before I actually WANT to talk about the Seahawks, but here I am, ever the trooper. Honestly, I want to say about an hour or so after the game ended – after reading all the post-mortem tweets and finishing the last two episodes of Letterkenny just to unwind and try to laugh again – I was EXHAUSTED. I could barely keep my eyes open. The game, as usual (and as expected), was so intense and nerve-wracking, then it was over and I was so upset and ready to burn the whole fucking thing to ashes, I really expected to be wired and obsessing over it into the midnight hour. But, I was in bed not only at a reasonable hour, but probably 60-90 minutes before I really NEEDED to go to sleep. I wouldn’t say I’m wide-eyed and bushy-tailed this morning – I kept dreaming of being chased by giant rabbit monsters – but I guess I could always be less refreshed, so I’ll take it.

I was really trying, you guys. I was reverse-jinxing my ASS off these last couple weeks and I hope it was appreciated! I feel like my efforts alone got the Seahawks past the Eagles and if I’m not immortalized in this season’s Wikipedia page, then there’s a great injustice in the world. Unfortunately, it just wasn’t enough to get us through the Divisional Round.

Truth be told, I think the result would’ve been exactly the same had we played the 49ers on Saturday. Just a hunch, obviously there’s no way to know for sure, but I actually liked our chances a lot more had we somehow managed to beat the Packers and gotten to face them next week. Not for nothing, but the ideal scenario – winning the division, securing that 3-seed – still figures to have been the best path to success this playoff season. In that case, we would’ve beaten the Vikings at home (no doubt in my mind; Kirk Cousins is a fraud), gone on the road to play the Saints (who have proven they’re not unbeatable at home; plus it’s a climate-controlled dome over the freezing cold of Lambeau Field), and then either hosting the 49ers for the NFC Championship Game or going on the road to play the Packers after they’ve been tenderized by Frisco. The Super Bowl isn’t a mortal lock in that alternate universe, but I have to believe it beats our stupid reality.

The bottom line is: these Seahawks just weren’t good enough. We’ve overachieved all season, and this result is probably our absolute ceiling: going on the road in the Divisional Round, fighting back against an underwhelming 13-3 Packers team, and losing a 1-score game.

I mean, I hate to keep harping on it, but we were +7 in point differential in the regular season. Including our two playoff games, we’re +10 over 18 games; it’s almost a miracle we got THIS far. Play this season in a million different simulations, and I’m not sure there are too many examples of better outcomes than what we saw this year.

In my darkest hour, when I reflect back on this season, I’ll always wonder what could’ve been if we’d hired a babysitter for Josh Gordon …

We don’t really need to dwell too hard on the first half; it went about as expected. If gambling were legalized, you know what I would’ve done? I would’ve bet our poor, mistreated Taylor Family Farm on the Packers in the first half. What was it, -2 points? THAT was the easiest money of the weekend. With they way they always get off to hot starts – and the way we always trip over our own dicks – how do you not make that bet?

We went down 7 early, punted on our first two possessions, and then pulled it to 7-3 on a very unsatisfying drive that started at our own 42 yard line. Those would be our only points of the half, as we missed our other field goal attempt; meanwhile the Packers dominated the second quarter to go up 21-3. If it’s a Divisional Round matchup and the Seahawks are on the road, we’re DEFINITELY going to shit the bed for the first 30 minutes of the game, that’s just a given.

Then, the big climb out of the gutter. Touchdown to Lynch out of the break, 21-10. The Packers came right back down the field – embarrassingly easy, which was the name of the game – to make it 28-10, but to our credit we got right back to work with a long drive to make it 28-17. Then, we forced the first of two punts of the half, and things felt like they were turning. On our first drive of the fourth quarter, we drove all the way down again to score on another Lynch goalline plunge to make it 28-23; getting sacked on a corner blitz on the 2-point try felt like a pretty large tell that things were about to get shitty again.

BUT! We forced yet another punt, and now it REALLY looked like this game was going to be memorable. At that point, the Packers’ defense was spent. Our offense was humming, we were letting Russell cook – as the kids like to say – and right off the bat he hit Lockett for an easy 14-yard gain.

Then, arguably the play of the game. He had Malik Turner wide open on the Green Bay side of the 50-yard line. He hit him in the gut with the ball. And Turner dropped it. You know who wouldn’t have dropped it? Josh Gordon, but that’s neither here nor there. Okay, that was only first down, not a huge deal, right? We came back to hit Hollister for five yards to make 3rd & Manageable at our own 42 yard line. It sounds like MAYBE we considered making that 4-down territory, but we’ll never know for sure because for some reason, whatever play we called left Hollister trying to block one of the best pass rushers on Green Bay, who easily beat him for a 6-yard sack (with Ifedi standing there with nothing to do but fondle his own choad, I guess, instead of helping the overmatched receiving tight end against a linebacker who had at least 50 pounds of muscle on him).

At 4th & 11 at our own 36 yard line, punting was the right choice, in my mind. We had all three time outs (somehow, none were wasted), plus the 2-minute warning. If our defense could’ve forced just one more punt, the game could’ve been ours.

But, we let them convert a 3rd & 8 and a 3rd & 9 to salt away the game. And, here’s where I start calling out some guys, because it’s time.

Lano Hill was on the field, and I want to say he was involved in getting beaten on both of those third downs. He’s the fucking WORST. I saw Marquise Blair was inactive with an injury in practice this week, and that might legitimately be the reason why we lost this game. Words can’t describe how terrible Lano Hill is, and I can’t believe we’re stuck with him for one more season.

Let’s see, who else? AHH! Tre Flowers sure did suck! That guy couldn’t cover (my old, dead granny? the broad side of a barn? a cold?) Rock in a game of Rock/Paper/Scissors where his opponent had both hands genetically fused into the shapes of fists! (nailed it). He really doesn’t look like he’s made any progress between Year 1 and Year 2; frankly he looks the same as he did in his very first game. At no point whatsoever did I trust him against Davante Adams yesterday, nor any other receiver they opted to slot to his side. He was a total disaster in this game, and he’s eating a pretty significant slice of the “Reasons Why The Seahawks Lost To The Packers” Pie.

Also, I don’t know who I should blame for this, but not adjusting your scheme to put your best cornerback (Shaquill Griffin) on the other team’s best receiver (Adams) when it’s pretty apparent they’ve only got the one good one … I mean, it’s appalling! 8 catches for 160 yards and 2 touchdowns. You can’t allow that, while also allowing Jimmy Graham to do what he did, while also allowing them to get decent yardage on the ground, while also allowing them to go 9/14 on third downs.

(also, I know it’s annoying that Graham made all those big catches and ended our season, but he still sucks and they could’ve paid literally any tight end to do the exact same thing; instead they’re taking on a $12.67 million cap hit in 2019 for a stiff, slow, soft bum to do those things, so good for them I suppose)

I know Pete Carroll probably makes that call, but I agree with Field Gulls here, you’ve GOT to find someone who is halfway competent to run this defense. All Ken Norton has shown in his time here is that he’s decent at developing linebackers. As a former linebacker … WHAT A STRETCH!

For shits n’ giggs, here’s a rudimentary look at how Norton’s units have fared since he’s been a Defensive Cordinator. He was a DC for Oakland from 2015-2017, then in Seattle the last two seasons. So, we’ll look at those defenses the year before he arrived, as well as the years he was in charge (in bold and underlined):

  • Raiders 2014: 32nd in points, 21st in yards, 16th in passing yards, 22nd in rushing yards
  • 2015: 22nd in points, 22nd in yards, 26th in passing, 13th in rushing
  • 2016: 20th in points, 26th in yards, 24th in passing, 23rd in rushing
  • 2017: 20th in points, 23rd in yards, 26th in passing, 12th in rushing
  • Seahawks 2017: 13th in points, 11th in yards, 6th in passing yards, 19th in rushing yards
  • 2018: 11th in points, 16th in yards, 17th in passing, 13th in rushing
  • 2019: 22nd in points, 26th in yards, 27th in passing, 22nd in rushing

I’ll let smarter people than me dig into the analytics, but those are numbers everyone can understand, and they’re NOT GREAT BOB! I’m stepping on the toes of some later posts this week, but Ken Norton has done nothing to warrant keeping his job in Seattle.

Getting back to this game, I’ll gladly shit on Malik Turner a second time. He belongs in the XFL posthaste. He’s just a guy. Jaron Brown is just a guy. Every receiver not named Tyler Lockett or D.K. Metcalf are JAGs and this is a spot – with how frequently the Seahawks are in 3-wide receiver sets – the team could use an upgrade (again, lament the loss of poor Josh Gordon).

Everyone’s talking about the total absence of turnovers in recent weeks, so I guess I’ll mention that here. But, I always treat those as fluke occurrences; if you’re counting on your team to generate turnovers, then you’re bound to be disappointed in games like these. The Packers take good care of the ball. They’re well coached. And, they have one of the best quarterbacks of all time who has NEVER really turned the ball over much. Expecting Aaron Rodgers to throw picks is a better definition of insanity than the old cliche everone trots out on a daily basis nowadays.

I’m more disturbed by the lack of a pass rush, which is something far more in our control. I know it’s dumb to send the house against quarterbacks like A-Rod, but also leaving him in a pocket for 10 seconds to scan the field three or four times is also a bad recipe. Of course, that was our concern from the very beginning of the season, so I’ll say again: Thanks Ziggy Ansah, for NOTHING! That’s not totally fair, since he got hurt last week, but he also brought nothing to the table the entire season, so fuck him.

Anyway, 2 sacks for 8 yards (and, really, not too many pressures beyond that, ESPECIALLY on that final drive to run out the clock) won’t get it done against the Packers. You’ve got to get A-Rod on his ass early and often and have him running from ghosts by the 4th quarter.

***

It wasn’t a total disaster of a game though, so I’ll finish with some bright spots.

I won’t give the Marshawn Lynch Experience a letter grade in his return to the Seahawks; he gets special treatment of the pass/fail variety. And, in that sense, it’s an easy Pass for Beastmode. He had 2 TDs in this one on 26 yards rushing. It was tough sledding, as I feared it might. I’ve said this too many times to count: the Seahawks tend to get owned by really elite interior linemen, and Kenny Clark’s return was the difference in this one. He clogged up the middle and there was just nowhere for our guy to run. I like the idea of giving Lynch more carries and essentially making him the starter in this one over Homer – and he certainly made SOME chicken salad out of the chicken shit blocking we were giving him – but I don’t know if anyone on our roster or out in the free agent scrap heap could’ve done any better.

That’s 4 more touchdowns to throw on the Marshawn Lynch career pile, including 3 more in the playoffs, to help bolster his Hall of Fame chances. I really hope he makes it someday.

Ever since Shaquem Griffin started getting some run at defensive end in passing situations, I’ve been waiting for him to get his first sack in a huge situation, so it’s fitting it came in our last game of the season, in the fourth quarter, which ended up forcing the Packers to punt. What a fucking cool moment, with his brother getting there at nearly the same time, allowing them to celebrate together! Ruined, of course, by Malik Turner and our offense’s inability to capitalize. But, that’s something big to build on heading into the 2020 season.

Russell Wilson, of course, had a fine game. He wasn’t given a lot of help, but once again he accounted for an insanely high percentage of this offense’s output. 341 of our 387 yards came from Wilson’s arm or legs (not counting sack yardage).

One guy who showed up in a huge way was Tyler Lockett: 9 for 136 and a touchdown. As expected, with D.K. being the story last week, he had a relatively quiet game, as the Packers put a lot of resources his way. But, thankfully Lockett was up to the task, as he was getting open all over the field.

Before I forget, I can’t tell you how impressed I was with Duane Brown. He wasn’t perfect, but he was definitely needed, and rushing back from surgery to start in this game was super-human. Unfortunately, Mike Iupati couldn’t make the same miracle recovery, and he was seriously missed in the middle. Without him – and with Jamarco Jones leaving early with a head injury – there was absolutely nothing we could do with the aforementioned Kenny Clark.

Defensively, I dunno. Our front seven did pretty well, given the circumstances. We held down their rushing, and got better as the game went along in that regard. Clowney was a warrior. Bobby Wagner had some big stops. But, we didn’t get much from our safeties, and in the end we just couldn’t make the stops when it mattered most. The Packers were 3/3 in the red zone, all for touchdowns, and you just can’t do that against this team and expect to win. You have to make one of those a field goal! And, I don’t know what the fuck happened on that 40-yard TD to Adams, but 1-on-1 coverage with Flowers as the primary was inexcusable. He should’ve been double-teamed all day, and ultimately that call comes from the top.

Terrible defensive scheme by Pete Carroll. You were ultimately the reason why we lost this game. Of course, you’re also the reason why we ended up making the playoffs in the first place, and got this far with a team that probably should’ve been 9-7 or 8-8, so good job I guess?

They can’t all be Bill Belichick.

How Did The Seahawks Rookies Do In 2019?

Teams who do it the right way tend to acquire their best pieces through the draft, and fill in where they have to through trades and free agency. The trades and signings can be flashy and exciting, but we’ve been burned by those enough times to be wary. If the hopes of a fanbase could be dished out in a pie chart, I’d argue the bigger slice of our hope lies in the team’s draft picks. Sure, it’d be nice if that free agent signing panned out, but more often than not the Seahawks are picking guys from the fringes, so the names are less sexy and the chances of them really blowing us away are reduced. We NEED these draft picks to turn into something useful, because we know that’s the way the Seahawks roll.

The trouble with draft picks is pretty obvious. They’re young. They’re inexperienced. They’re often overwhelmed by the size and speed and talent disparity between the pros and college. And, the main pitfall – when it comes to the fans – is projecting newly made draft picks into significant roles. High profile home runs tend to skew our thinking. Bobby Wagner and Russell Wilson came in right away and played HUGE roles in turning this franchise around! Ergo, every rookie picked in the first three rounds should start right away and light the league on fire! And, particularly with the Seahawks, and their success rate with guys picked on the final day of the draft, we see some names and hear some stories from mini camp, and we automatically start penciling guys in for Pro Bowls and All Pros before they’ve played a real down in anger.

I don’t have a great read on how Seahawks fans feel about the 2019 class. On the one hand, you could paint a very rosy picture based on D.K. Metcalf alone. He was selected at the very end of the second round, he came in and started right away, and he was a hit! 900 yards on 58 receptions, with 7 touchdowns. Hell, he was the second-most targeted receiver on this team with 100 (Lockett had more targets, but only by 10)! There were obviously some tough games for Metcalf this year, but the good FAR outweighs the bad, and his arrow is pointed straight up going forward. The sky is the limit for this kid; he’s been the young, big receiver we’ve been looking for since Pete Carroll got here in 2010.

So, that’s fantastic, right? Particularly in a season where we had to learn to live without Doug Baldwin. But, what about the rest of the class?

I don’t know about you, but the first thing I think of when I think of a rookie draft class is the first round pick. For this one, that’s L.J. Collier, and he’s brought absolutely nothing to the table. He’s officially listed as having played in 11 games this year, but even that number feels high. He hasn’t had any significant injuries during the regular season (that I can recall, anyway), but he did have an ankle injury in the pre-season that cost him a considerable amount of practice time. Which effectively cost him his entire rookie year, because when he hasn’t been a healthy scratch on gameday, he’s been so buried on the depth chart that he hasn’t made any impact whatsoever. 3 tackles. That’s his 2019 stat sheet.

I won’t call Collier a disaster, because quite frankly we don’t know what he is yet. He wasn’t particularly lauded for his pass rushing ability out of college – noted more for his run defense – but it’s discouraging that he still wasn’t able to do anything with even the few opportunities he was given. That’s not a good sign for things to come! Also, this Seahawks defense has really struggled against the run – especially towards the end of the season, when you might have expected someone like Collier to make a jump in his development – so the fact that he’s not helping in this area is ALSO not a good sign for things to come.

The one caveat I’ll pull out here is that Pete Carroll and Co. tend to have a blind spot when it comes to some of the younger guys. Remember in 2018, when the team was slow to realize that Chris Carson should be the bellcow back for this team? And it took some time to make the shift in their scheme? I would argue that Carroll is like most coaches, he’s going to go with the known quantity all things being equal. Yes, “Always Compete” and all that, but sometimes you can’t see what’s right in front of you if you’re not expecting anything to be there.

Even that, though, falls somewhat on the player. Collier obviously isn’t flashing. He’s not making any huge impact plays in practice, so he’s not as involved in games, and it’s a continuous cycle of disappointment. These same points could be made for the rest of the guys I’m going to write about below.

Let’s move on to Marquise Blair, the second round safety picked ahead of Metcalf. He might go down as one of the more frustrating aspects of the 2019 season. The fact that he hasn’t played more – he was originally behind Tedric Thompson, and of late has been bafflingly sat in favor of Lano Hill – is particularly galling. It’s not even an argument that Blair has the brighter future and higher upside than either of those two draft busts from 2017, but I would also argue that he’s better than them RIGHT NOW. Or, at the very least, he couldn’t be any worse, while actually having the capability to make real impactful plays on the field (rather than giving up huge chunks of yardage to opposing receivers). I know the best two safeties on this roster are McDougald and Diggs, but Blair should be #3 on that list and it’s ridiculous the longer he’s not.

Cody Barton was a third round pick. As a linebacker, he was brought into a situation where the Seahawks were arguably strongest on paper. Three quality veterans sat ahead of him, and we always knew it was going to be a challenge to get him on the field. It’s not a bad consolation prize to sit, learn from the best, and get your feet wet on special teams. Considering the age at the position, we all had him pegged as someone to compete for a starting job in 2020. And, with the talk out of camp being nothing but glowing praise for this kid, I think we all expected to get someone really special in Barton. Every time I turned around in August, I was reading about Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright talking about how smart and instinctual Barton is; they made it sound like if he were on any other team, he’d be starting immediately.

In recent weeks, as some of our starters have worn down, we’ve seen Barton in there on defense. And … ehh, he’s been all right, I guess. I dunno, I haven’t seen any quality plays out of him yet. To be fair, he’s effectively had to be the understudy for all three linebacker spots – as opposed to specializing at his best spot, which is probably weak-side – so I could see how that might stunt one’s growth. But, again, not a great sign. Also, not for nothing, but I remember in 2018 hearing nothing but good things out of the mouths of Wright and Wagner when it came to Tedric Thompson in training camp, and look at how he turned out. Either these guys will say they love everyone, or they have no concept of who is actually going to pan out.

Fourth round receiver Gary Jennings was one of three receivers we drafted in 2019; he was a healthy scratch for a number of weeks, until we signed Josh Gordon and had to waive one of them. Jennings was the odd man out. We were hoping to sneak him onto the practice squad, but the Dolphins swooped in and claimed him. It doesn’t look like he ever made it into a game, and ended up getting placed on IR.

Fourth round guard Phil Haynes hasn’t played either, to my knowledge. He’s had injury issues to get over, and now looks to be a backup at an oft-injured O-Line spot. So, he gets an incomplete, but to be fair, no one was expecting him to play a lot as a rookie lineman.

Fourth round DB Ugo Amadi is another guy where it’s frustrating how little he’s played, especially when you consider how lights out he’s been on special teams. And ESPECIALLY when you consider how poor our pass defense has been at times this year. To be honest, I still don’t have a good handle on whether he’s a safety or a nickel corner or both. He was SUPPOSED to be converted to a nickel corner from safety, and that just so happened to be an area of need for this team heading into the season. But, instead we opted to play an unsustainably high percentage of plays in base defense, with Kendricks over anyone else. And, when we HAVE played nickel, we’ve opted for duds like Jamar Taylor over Amadi. Again, I don’t know what that says about Amadi’s skill vs. the coaching staff’s blind spot, but it’s not encouraging.

Ben Burr-Kirven was pegged coming in as a special teamer, so in that sense he’s lived up to his billing. When we already drafted a similar linebacker in the third round, you had to figure Barton always had a leg-up to be the next guy on the field in base defense, so there’s nothing surprising or really noteworthy here. Also, not for nothing, but Demarcus Christmas was always pegged as a longshot project as a sixth round defensive tackle. He’s been hurt most of the year and ended up on IR, so we’ll see if he has anything in the tank for 2020.

Travis Homer was another sixth round pick, and someone I had kind of hoped we’d see more of. But, the Seahawks had room on their roster to house C.J. Prosise (who, to his credit, stayed relatively healthy for MOST of the season, before going out in that Arizona game), and when you’re talking about a team like the Seahawks (where offensive possessions are at a premium), you’re not going to find many opportunities to get a fourth-string running back any snaps.

However, as the top three guys all went down, Week 17 ended up being the Travis Homer Show! Against the 49ers, he had 10 carries for 62 yards and another 5 receptions for 30 yards. He’s also been – as expected – another standout on special teams. I don’t think he’ll ever be a bellcow type back for this team, but as a #2, and a 3rd down/2-minute back, he would seem to fit right in. Honestly, behind Metcalf, Homer has been the second-best 2019 draft pick so far and it’s not particularly close. I can legitimately envision a role for Homer going forward; I don’t know if I can say that about anyone else besides Metcalf.

Finally, we have John Ursua. The seventh round wide receiver out of Hawaii where we actually traded a 2020 draft pick to get back into the 2019 draft and get him. He was never going anywhere; when we had that receiver crunch (at one point, rostering 8 of our 53 players at the position, which is insane), I knew it would be Ursua over Jennings. You can’t give up that much and let the guy go to another team. Anyway, he’s been a healthy scratch for 15/16 games. Due to attrition, he finally made it into a game against the 49ers, catching his only target for 11 yards. It’s kind of a shame he hasn’t gotten more play than he has, especially when we’ve seen plenty of targets go to David Moore, Jaron Brown, and Malik Turner; but Ursua doesn’t play special teams, so it’s honestly surprising he made it onto this roster in the first place.

That would lead me to believe we have someone potentially special in Ursua. Here’s to hoping he gets more of a shot in 2020.

When you lay it all out like that, the 2019 Draft Class feels like a bust … when you ONLY count the 2019 season. There’s obviously limitless potential in the future for any number of these guys, and we’ll all be pegging our hopes and dreams on significant leaps in development in Years 2, 3, & 4. But, as far as the impact they’ve had AS rookies, it’s been D.K. Metcalf and that’s about it.

Which is why, in recent seasons, I’ve drastically reduced my expectations for incoming rookies, and I’d suggest everyone else do the same. It’s just too hard to make that jump in a vacuum. Then, add into it where the Seahawks usually draft (toward the ends of rounds, because we usually make the playoffs), and the fact that we’re always in contention for playoff spots (meaning we don’t have a lot of opportunities to showcase our rookies, because we don’t have very many holes on our roster), and it’s a tough situation to break into. The fact of the matter is – regardless of team – most rookies won’t out-play healthy veterans. The bad teams tend to play a higher percentage of rookies right away because they’re looking to rebuild, and they don’t have any expectations to make the playoffs right away. The Seahawks aren’t one of those bad teams, which is a very good thing.

The final question I have to ask myself is: where do I see this class going in 2020-2022?

It’ll certainly be known as the D.K. Metcalf class, but will anyone else step up? I have no real expectations for Collier. They tried to put a Michael Bennett comp on him coming out of college, but that sounds as far-fetched as it gets. Even Frank Clark is too high a bar to place on him. Could he be the next Quinton Jefferson? Maybe, but even that might be too good; and remember, Q-Jeff was selected in the fifth round, not the first. Lawrence Jackson is probably the floor here, and it wouldn’t shock me in the slightest if Collier is Lo-Jack 2.0.

I’m still pretty high on Blair; I’d like to see him get a legitimate shot to start in 2020. I’m less high (but still fairly high) on Barton; I’d like to see what he looks like when we stick him at just one linebacker spot and let him work on his craft there. I think Homer can be a very solid #2 running back for this team (what that means for Penny and Carson, I have no idea, but both are coming off significant injuries, so the opportunity should be there regardless). And, I still like Ursua as a dark-horse #3 receiver in the near future; here’s hoping he hits it off with Russell Wilson in the offseason.

Beyond those guys, I have no real expectations. Ugo Amadi should fight for a nickel cornerback spot. The rest feel like depth pieces.

Thankfully, your fate isn’t determined by your rookie season alone. A lot can change in the next three years. It’ll be fun to see who steps up. Sometimes it takes three full years of fighting before you bust through in your final season on the rookie deal! Those scenarios aren’t ideal, of course, as you’re really only getting one season of cheap production before you either have to pay them a lot of money or watch them walk to another franchise. But, it’s better than nothing I guess.

My Gut Tells Me The Seahawks Are Losing Against The Rams

The easy analysis for this game is to simply point to the previous meeting against the Rams – at home, in primetime – and note the fact that we probably should’ve lost that game, if one of the best long-distance kickers in all of football didn’t miss a last-second field goal by a couple of feet. This game’s in L.A., ergo a lucky 1-point victory at home turns into a heartbreaking 2-point defeat on the road. Case closed.

The most important argument AGAINST that line of thinking is that we’re not talking about the same Seahawks team that played the Rams in Week 5. Sure, it’s a very SIMILAR team, but there are key differences to Week 14 Seahawks.

Like, for instance, the receiving corps have improved with the addition of Josh Gordon. He hasn’t made a HUGE impact yet, but he’s definitely shown – in his limited snaps – to be a trusted target on third down slant passes. I don’t know how many of his catches have moved the chains, but I think it’s an unsustainably high percentage. I’d also argue that David Moore is finally coming around, and assuming Lockett is finally healthy and feeling well again, it’s a no-brainer that this passing game is even scarier than it already was when Russell Wilson was still an MVP candidate.

You can also point to the emergence of Rashaad Penny – providing invaluable depth to our rushing attack – and Jacob Hollister – helping us not miss the loss of Will Dissly one iota – as further proof that this offense is better than it was, and should continue to grow in exciting ways as we head into the playoffs.

But, the biggest difference is obviously on the defense. Jarran Reed is back and wreaking havoc. Ziggy Ansah has finally shown up and was starting to make an impact, until his offseason injury was aggravated last week (fingers crossed he’ll be good to go). Then, there’s the addition of Shaquem Griffin to our pass rushing unit, which hasn’t overwhelmed in the sack department, but he’s certainly making an impact to our pass rush as a whole with his speed off the edge. Ever since the 49ers game, our front seven has taken it up another few notches, which is exactly what the doctor ordered.

And last but certainly not least, we have the addition of Quandre Diggs in the secondary, who has REALLY solidified our pass defense, bringing an element we haven’t had back there since the Kam & Earl heyday. Diggs paired with McDougald doesn’t only bring back that veteran presence we’d sorely been lacking, but the talent disparity between them and T2 or Lano Hill or any of the other guys we’ve trotted out there the last couple seasons is truly remarkable.

The defense isn’t perfect, but it’s a far cry better than it was the last time we saw the Rams. We’re on a 5-game winning streak, we’ve beaten at least 2 (if not 3, if the Eagles figure it out) serious playoff contenders in that span, and we JUST recaptured the lead in the NFC West. Finally, this game is in primetime, and you KNOW how good we are at night. Just about EVERYTHING is pointing to a Seahawks victory over the Rams this Sunday.

So, why is my gut going against everything I hold dear?

If I wanted to pile on even more, I’d talk about the Rams. For starters, this is NOT the same team that plowed through the NFL last year and made it all the way to the Super Bowl. Call it a hangover all you want, but a lot of people feel that the rest of the league has finally started to figure this team out. The Rams are 7-5, and haven’t looked particularly good at all. They’ve looked especially poor on offense, and that’s supposed to be this team’s strength!

The Rams are 2-2 in their last 4 games, with wins over the lowly Cardinals and Bears. Even against the Bears, they could only muster 17 points; meanwhile they were absolutely ROUTED by the Ravens, and lost to a VERY banged up Steelers team. The Rams also looked pretty inept against the 49ers, and their defense might as well have not shown up at all against the Bucs in giving up 55 points.

It’s just been an up-and-down year for this team, and nothing has gone right since that Bucs loss at home. After a 3-0 start, they’ve gone 4-5, exclusively beating up on the dregs of the NFL. Do I REALLY need to go on?

All right, I will. Jared Goff has been ATROCIOUS! Their defense is clearly overrated (especially in stopping the run). And they’re pretty banged up across the board on offense as well, especially on the O-Line (which speaks volumes towards Goff’s struggles).

So, I mean, am I REALLY that impressed by a 27-point victory over the failing Arizona Cardinals that my gut would go out on this limb?

What can I say? The gut wants what the gut wants.

I’ll say this: the Rams always play us tough. I’m less concerned about their defense; I think we won’t have too much trouble scoring points in this one (though, I am worried – and rightfully so – about our fumble-itis). I’m VERY concerned about the Rams’ offense, as I think they can look pedestrian and beatable against a lot of quality teams, but for whatever reason they know how to move the ball at will against our defense.

Also, not for nothing, but I kinda think we’re just due for a loss. It’s been a while! I can’t really see us losing to the Panthers or Cardinals (though, if squint hard enough, I could see that Arizona game being wild at the end), and for whatever reason I just can’t see us being undefeated through that 49ers game. Something’s gonna give between now and then, and I think this week is it.

The Rams are one of the six best teams in the NFC. My hunch is: the Rams eventually overtake the Vikings for that final wild card spot. They’ve got a long, hard road to get there, but if it’s meant to be, it’ll happen for them this Sunday.

Conversely, the Seahawks could effectively dash their hopes and dreams in our toughest game remaining before the big Week 17 showdown. I pray we’re able to make that happen, but as usual I have my doubts. So much so that I’ve selected the Rams to win in my weekly pick ’em game this weekend. If I’m wrong, then great!

If I’m right, then God help us all …

The Seahawks’ Defense Fucking Sucks

There’s no getting around it. There’s also no reason to sugarcoat it. The Seahawks have a shitty, terrible, no good, very bad fucking defense.

It’s frustrating not necessarily because we weren’t expecting this; the defense was always going to be the weak link on this team. It’s that they’re clearly WORSE than we were expecting, and they’re not improving one bit over the course of these first seven weeks!

I wouldn’t say the Seahawks have had a particularly brutal schedule to date – certainly a tougher one than the 49ers, for instance – but there’s been a mix of good and bad teams in there. Aside from the Cardinals – who still managed 321 total yards, and a 5.0 yards per rush average – teams have had no trouble scoring, and EVERYONE is at least moving the ball at will. It’s an embarrassment, and no one is exempt.

Bobby Wagner, WHERE YOU AT, BRO? 3 years, $54 million, at the top of the middle linebacker pack, and what have you done for us? 0 sacks, 3 tackles for loss. I don’t expect Wagner to be blitzing nonstop; that’s not his game. But, run stuffing? Getting to those running backs before they plow through the line for huge chunk plays? How about that, huh? Can we at least stop THAT from happening? Every time I turn around, Bobby Wagner is getting pancaked by fools he used to exploit.

Maybe it’s not his fault. The defensive line has certainly been fucking abysmal, after all. Nevertheless, I expect my superstar All Pros to play like superstar All Pros, regardless of the lack of talent around them. Bobby Wagner used to lift this team on his back and make everyone around him look and play better; he’s doing NONE of that this year. No special plays, anywhere. For a guy who’s going to bog down our salary cap, that’s UNACCEPTABLE.

Speaking of the defensive line: 11 sacks, 7th-worst in the NFL. At some point, you have to stop blaming the fact that opposing quarterbacks are getting the ball out too quickly. They’re not doing that on EVERY SINGLE PLAY! There are opportunities – too many, quite frankly – where the quarterback has all day to throw, and a clean, warm Snuggie of a pocket in which to stand.

Part of that, obviously, is by design. Out with the old and in with the new. But, we’re paying good money to some of these guys, and not really getting much out of them. Clowney is the only guy in the entire front seven who’s worth a damn right now. Where has Ansah been? Well, I hope he’s looking forward to another underwhelming contract offer (from a different team) next year, because he hasn’t earned that big payday he was hoping for! He can’t even stay on the fucking field! And he really doesn’t look like he even WANTS to be on the fucking field!

The worst part of all of this is the fact that our younger guys aren’t progressing in the slightest. Quinton Jefferson had one good game, but otherwise has been invisible. Poona Ford is not a secret pass rushing threat we were all hoping he’d be (and I’m not even sure he’s done a whole lot to stuff the run like he’s supposed to). Rasheem Green has 2 sacks on the season and looks as lost as ever in Year Two. And the biggest disappointment of all has to go to L.J. Collier, who was a first rounder this year. Everyone who reviewed his college film pretty much screamed that this guy wouldn’t be any good, and they’re all proven to be correct. He’s been a healthy scratch more than he’s played! A first round pick! On a team with a bullshit defensive line that can’t do anything!

K.J. Wright looks slow and in depserate need of retirement. Mychal Kendricks hasn’t shown much of any reason why he needs to be out there so often that we have to stay in Base to the detriment of our pass defense. We’re getting shredded by opposing tight ends more than ever before, and this is a defense that traditionally gives up huge days to opposing tight ends (at least, when they hang onto the ball, Mark Andrews).

In the entire front seven, I’ve counted one guy – Clowney – who’s been a positive. We can hope, I guess, that Jarran Reed will return to his 2018 form sooner rather than later, but I’m not holding my breath. And I haven’t even gotten to our worst position group on the entire team: the safeties.

Tedric Thompson is so bad, the Seahawks had to trade a 5th round pick in 2020 to go and get Quandre Diggs (and a 7th rounder). People in Detroit are lamenting this deal more for the fact that they didn’t get very much in return; indeed, it looks like only a 5th rounder is pretty good value for someone like Diggs. But, he’s also not a cure-all. He’s not going to come in here and magically transform this unit into something worthwhile! He’s not Earl Thomas in his prime; nor is he Earl Thomas NOW! He’s a guy, a guy Detroit was willing to part with so they could play their younger guys (though he’s only 26 years old himself).

Yet, Tedric has found himself in the lineup so often because Lano Hill – who’s also not very good, misses a lot of tackles, can’t really cover anyone, and never makes any impact plays – can’t stay healthy, and because Bradley McDougald is undersized, has taken a HUGE step back in 2019, and is physically breaking down. Marquise Blair was finally inserted into the starting lineup last week, and played okay, but is also a rookie and is exclusively a strong safety (so he doesn’t fix our Tedric problem, which is everything).

Tedric gets beat deep in every game he plays. In a system that preaches getting turnovers and eliminating big plays on defense, he doesn’t really do either (he’s been the recipient of a couple of tipped balls as his two interceptions this year). Pete Carroll will never badmouth ANYONE … unless you repeatedly give up huge plays deep down field. You’ve got to be pretty bad – and pretty stupid – to suck this hard and not come to the realization that you need to be playing deeper than you are. To keep falling for the same play-action tricks. And, on top of everything, he’s SLOW. He’s slow, he doesn’t tackle well; he brings literally nothing to the table. Why he’s still on this team, I have no idea.

The only other real bright spot on this defense is Shaquill Griffin, who’s the only guy taking his game to another level. Tre Flowers has shown bright spots here and there, but until we see it from him on a consistent basis, I’m reserving my praise. Beyond those two guys, it’s a fucking disaster area at cornerback. The team rightly let Justin Coleman walk in free agency – he was going to cost too much, and this team is supposed to be able to develop younger guys to fill this role – but they’ve failed in their jobs to ACTUALLY develop anyone.

All of that having been said, the Seahawks are somehow 5-2 on the year. They also have the good fortune of playing the moribund Atlanta Falcons right now, who are probably one more loss away from firing Dan Quinn. So, watch our defense totally kick some fuckin’ ass on Sunday and make me look foolish. I HOPE THEY DO.

I also hope that we re-hire Dan Quinn this offseason to be our defensive coordinator again, and send Ken Norton Jr. his walking papers. Because if we thought Kris Richard was a huge step down, well we hadn’t seen ANYTHING until now!

Pete Carroll keeps preaching that things are going to turn around for this side of the ball. Well, ANY FUCKING TIME NOW WOULD BE GREAT!

I Can’t Envision A Seahawks Victory In Pittsburgh

Usually, whenever I feel this strongly about an impending Seahawks defeat, one of two things usually happens in the game: either I’m right and the Seahawks lose, or I’m wrong and the Seahawks win. THIS IS THE HARD-HITTING ANALYSIS YOU COME HERE FOR!!!

Sure, every once in a while there’s a tie sprinkled in there, but you get the idea. One of three things.

This early in the season, we really don’t have a lot of knowledge about what the Seahawks are and what they’re going to be. All we REALLY have to go on is the one game, last week, where Andy Dalton of all people came into Seattle and threw for a billion yards. On the flipside, last week the Steelers went into New England and only scored 3 points. But, they’ve still got Ben Roethlisberger (inarguably better than Dalton), they’ve still got JuJu Smith-Schuster (inarguably better than any receiver on the Bengals), and they’ve still got James Conner (who helped the Steelers not miss a beat with Le’Veon Bell leaving town). That’s an offense, again, you have to believe is far and away superior to the Bengals. Plus, they’ll have the added advantage of being at home, so our defense won’t have the noise factor on their side.

If we gave up 418 yards to Dalton last week, with all the noise and everything else, what’s the ceiling for Roethlisberger? I can’t stress this enough, that noise is critical to what we do in our pass rush; without it, I don’t think we’ll touch him. Which is terrible news, because aside from our improved run defense, that’s the only thing we’ve got going for us. Our secondary hasn’t improved at all in the last week (unless you think signing a veteran nickel defender off the scrap heap will suddenly turn this sinking ship around), and you could argue it’s actually gotten worse if Lano Hill starts (I wouldn’t make that argument, because I’d take literally anyone over Tedric Thompson, but if you want to make that argument, I won’t stop you).

I will say this, for the Seahawks: I think our offense will look better. It would pretty much have to, though. It’s hard to look a whole lot worse, so long as you wipe 2017 from your memory. I do NOT think the Seahawks will get blown out, because they rarely do. Then again, I’m also not totally leaving that option off the table. If the Steelers jump out to a big early lead by 14 or 21 points in the first half, we could definitely see more sacks and turnovers in the second half than we’d like. I believe the Steelers have a MUCH better defense than last week would indicate. They’ve got great players at every level.

They’re also not a team we see very often. The Seahawks have lost on the road to an AFC team almost every single year since Pete Carroll has gotten here. Generally, the games are more high scoring than you’d like, and the Seahawks even look semi-competent at times. But, the defense ends up letting us down in these games, and I have no reason to believe that won’t happen again this week.

Look, I hope I’m wrong! But, it’s gonna take 30+ points to go into Pittsburgh and win this thing, and I just don’t think we’re there yet. That’s fine! It’s not the end of the world! Road AFC games are the least important games on our schedule; it’s MUCH more important to come back home next week and take out the Saints. We were always going to lose one of these two games, and I’m officially on record as hoping we lose this week and win the next.

And not just because I have a bunch of Steelers on my various fantasy teams.

Comparing The Seahawks’ 53-Man Roster To My June Predictions

Right around the time of OTAs, I did a meaningless projection of what the Seahawks’ roster would look like for opening day. So let’s check out how wrong I was!

Quarterbacks

Projection: Russell Wilson & Geno Smith
Result: Russell Wilson & Geno Smith

So, I got the easiest one out of the way. Where’s my cookie?

Running Backs

Projection: Chris Carson, Rashaad Penny, Travis Homer, C.J. Prosise & J.D. McKissic
Result: Chris Carson, Rashaad Penny, Travis Homer, C.J. Prosise & Nick Bellore

I was THIS close. To be fair, in my projections I did talk about Bellore possibly throwing a wrench into this fight, with either Prosise or McKissic being the odd man out, and you know what they say about horseshoes, hand grenades, and roster predicting, right?

Tight Ends

Projection: Ed Dickson, Nick Vannett, Will Dissly & Jacob Hollister
Result: Nick Vannett & Will Dissly

To be fair, Dickson is on IR (designated to return after 8 weeks) and Hollister somehow made it onto the practice squad, so I’m counting this as a victory. Of sorts. We also have George Fant, who I’ve listed as an O-Lineman for the purposes of this exercise.

Wide Receivers

Projection: Tyler Lockett, D.K. Metcalf, David Moore, Jaron Brown & Keenan Reynolds
Result: Tyler Lockett, D.K. Metcalf, David Moore, Jaron Brown, Gary Jennings, Malik Turner & John Ursua

I was almost WAY off on this one, but the Seahawks did a bit of roster gymnastics this week to slide a couple guys onto the IR, while opening up the likes of Geno Smith and Jaron Brown to free agency (with the wink-wink agreement to bring them back once those IR designations were placed). It turns out the Seahawks CAN keep all of their rookie draft picks! But, Malik Turner is the one who took Keenan Reynolds’ spot (though I fully anticipate Reynolds being in the mix at some point this season, if the injury bug returns). Regardless, I wouldn’t expect this unit to be 7-deep for too much longer, but it’s an interesting group nevertheless.

Offensive Line

Projection: Duane Brown, Mike Iupati, Justin Britt, D.J. Fluker, Germain Ifedi, Ethan Pocic, Jordan Simmons, George Fant & Jamarco Jones
Result: Duane Brown, Mike Iupati, Justin Britt, D.J. Fluker, Germain Ifedi, Ethan Pocic, George Fant, Jamarco Jones & Joey Hunt

This was actually a pretty obvious unit to predict, as the veterans are here to start, and the reserves are too good to part with. Simmons got hit by the injury bug and landed on the IR which is unfortunate, but Hunt can play both center and guard (and even tackle in a super pinch), so he’s good to have around (especially with Pocic being the first guard off the bench in place of Iupati heading into week 1).

So far, with the offense, I predicted 20 out of 25, which isn’t too bad.

Punter/Kicker/Long Snapper

Projection: Michael Dickson, Jason Myers & Tyler Ott
Result: Michael Dickson, Jason Myers & Tyler Ott

Nailed it.

Secondary

Projection: Shaquill Griffin, Tre Flowers, Akeem King, Neiko Thorpe, Jeremy Boykins, Tedric Thompson, Bradley McDougald, Ugo Amadi, Marquise Blair & Lano Hill
Result: Shaquill Griffin, Tre Flowers, Akeem King, Neiko Thorpe, Parry Nickerson, Tedric Thompson, Bradley McDougald, Ugo Amadi, Marquise Blair & Lano Hill

The one I was least sold on was Boykins, and lo and behold he turns out to be my lone blemish in this area. I should’ve probably mentioned something about the Seahawks making a minor trade near the start of the regular season – like they do just about every damn year around this time – but them’s the breaks.

Defensive Line

Projection: Ziggy Ansah, L.J. Collier, Rasheem Green, Jacob Martin, Jarran Reed, Poona Ford, Al Woods & Quinton Jefferson
Result: Ziggy Ansah, L.J. Collier, Rasheem Green, Jadeveon Clowney, Poona Ford, Al Woods, Quinton Jefferson, Bryan Mone & Branden Jackson

Welp, there was no way for me to see the Jarran Reed suspension coming. Ditto the trade for Clowney. I was probably always a little light on this position in general, so it’s not totally shocking to see Jackson in there, but he’s just a rotational guy who won’t see a lot of playing time, barring injuries. I never would’ve guessed Mone in a million years though.

Linebackers

Projection: Bobby Wagner, K.J. Wright, Cody Barton, Ben Burr-Kirven, Mychal Kendricks, Shaquem Griffen & Barkevious Mingo
Result: Bobby Wagner, K.J. Wright, Cody Barton, Ben Burr-Kirven, Mychal Kendricks & Shaquem Griffen

The main reason why I was so short on the D-Line was because I essentially had Mingo as a rush end for this team. But, as the pre-season wore on, it was becoming increasingly likely that he was going to be cut (if he wasn’t somehow dealt for the best defensive end on the trade block). There was also worry that Griffen wouldn’t make it, but his value on special teams is apparently too high to part with. Nevertheless, quite the solid group.

That’s 21 out of 25 predicted on defense (with Reed coming back after 6 weeks, and a few of my other picks landing on the IR) for a total of 45/53 on the team heading into week 1 (barring any other moves later this week). My biggest stroke of genius was leaving Austin Calitro off; he very nearly made it, but was waived in recent days and picked up by Jacksonville. So, good luck to him I guess.

The 3rd Most Important Seahawks Player After Russell Wilson: Bradley McDougald

Here is the Home Page for this series of posts.

We’re getting down to the wire here! There are pretty easy arguments to make that any of the top three guys could be #1 on this list. Here’s my case for Bradley McDougald.

The Seahawks started off pretty hot from a defensive backfield perspective in 2018, which of course coincided with the team having a healthy Earl Thomas to go along with a healthy McDougald. But, then Earl was lost for the year (and his Seahawks career), and while McDougald played in all the games, he was clearly banged up towards the end of the season. He had 2 INTs and 5 passes defensed in the first month of the season, then only 1 INT and 4 PDs the rest of the way.

After that Arizona game, so much more went on McDougald’s shoulders, and while he was certainly up to the task, the drop-off from Earl to T2 or Hill ended up being a lot. The pass defense severely went in the tank (doesn’t help that we played the Rams twice without Earl), and while McDougald was the best of a bad position group, he wasn’t enough to lift everyone else up.

Well, for 2019, the Seahawks will have Earl Thomas for zero games. Thompson and Hill both return, and both will fight for one of the starting safety spots, but neither inspire much (if any) confidence. Beyond them, Ugo Amadi and Marquise Blair were selected in this year’s draft, but Amadi figures to get more playing time in the nickel spot, while Blair (who was already an injury worry due to his slight frame and hard-hitting style) is starting Training Camp on the PUP list. That doesn’t mean he can’t come off of it at any time before the regular season, but it would be foolish to expect him to be healthy for all 16 games.

So, once again, McDougald is going to be The Man in the secondary. The Seahawks need him to not just play in all the games, but they need him at the top of his game. When he’s going good, it almost makes you forget that the L.O.B. is no more. But, when he’s not right, you don’t really notice him at all (and that’s not a good thing, because that means he’s not really making any impact plays).

For a while now, the Seahawks’ defense has had a turnover problem. Specifically: generating interceptions. Before, when the L.O.B. was ruling the NFL, that was because teams were afraid of throwing deep on us; they settled for the dink & dunk because those are safer passes. Now that the L.O.B. Seahawks’ secondary is mediocre, teams are hitting on deep passes a lot more because our guys just aren’t good enough to make plays on those balls in the air. The defense in general makes its hay in forcing fumbles, but that’s a tough one to hang your hat on, because fumble luck is so screwy.

While it’s still vitally important for our starting cornerbacks to make a leap in their development, this pass defense is going to hinge on the play of its safeties (particularly when you factor in the uncertainty around the pass rush). Breaking up passes and generating turnovers will be the mark of how well the safeties perform, at least in my mind. Considering there’s just as much uncertainty around the rest of the secondary as a whole, having a healthy and productive McDougald will make all the difference in the world.

If he goes down, it could get ugly.

SEARCH: Seahawks OTAs 53-Man Roster Projections 2019

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

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

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

Quarterbacks

  • Russell Wilson
  • Geno Smith

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

Running Backs

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

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

Tight Ends

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

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

Wide Receivers

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

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

Offensive Line

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

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

Punter/Kicker/Long Snapper

  • Michael Dickson
  • Jason Myers
  • Tyler Ott

Enough said.

Secondary

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

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

Defensive Line

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

Linebackers

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

Linebacker/Ends

  • Shaquem Griffin
  • Barkevious Mingo

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

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

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

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

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

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