Seahawks Death Week: What Could’ve Been

Now is the part of Seahawks Death Week where I sit in quiet, somber reflection of what might’ve been.

In an ideal world, George Fant would’ve played 16 games and looked spectacular!  It would’ve spared us half a season of Rees Odhiambo’s flailing, and kept him rotating at guard where he belonged.

In an ideal world, Chris Carson would’ve been in the Rookie of the Year conversation.  Sure, he probably would’ve had a relatively slow start, but over time we would’ve seen some huge games out of the kid.

With Carson pushing 1,000 yards and any number of touchdowns, it might’ve spared the defense – especially later in the season – allowing the offense to win more Time of Possession battles.

In an ideal world, Sheldon Richardson would’ve been the game-changer we all expected him to be.  What we got out of him was okay, I suppose, but I was really thinking he’d be this force of nature a la Cortez Kennedy in his prime.  What I got instead was 1 sack and not NEARLY enough big plays in the backfield.

Of course, in an ideal world, we never would’ve needed to trade for Sheldon Richardson in the first place, because Malik McDowell would’ve come into Training Camp healthy, he would’ve been a model citizen, and he would’ve been the force of nature up the middle that we all hoped he’d be!

In an ideal world, sure, maybe some of our defensive players would’ve been banged up from time to time, but not to the extent that guys like Avril, Sherman, Kam, and Bobby were!  Those guys, for a full season, would have absolutely prevented our December swoon.  There’s no fucking way guys like Fournette and Gurley would’ve gone off the way they did had Kam and Bobby been near 100%; and there’s no fucking way guys like the Bort or Drew Stanton would’ve thrown on us the way they did with Sherm locking down his side.  And, you better believe we would’ve owned that tie-breaker over the Falcons!

If you would’ve given me just one unicorn season – a season with almost zero injuries; those seasons you always see from teams who make the Super Bowl – this Seahawks team could’ve contended.  This Seahawks team could’ve even run the table in the second half!  With wins over the Eagles, Falcons, and a sweep of the Rams, people would be talking about the Seahawks right now as NFC frontrunners!

Of course, that’s just a pipe dream.  To believe that injuries alone torpedoed our season neglects all the other problems we had.  The offensive line woes outside of the left tackle position.  The quarterback’s late-season regression.  The fact that this team was mostly healthy for games against the Redskins and Titans and STILL managed to look bad in those games.

That’s all true, but if I’m slicing up the pie, and each slice is a Reason Why The Seahawks Missed The Playoffs, the biggest slice by far is injuries to key guys.  And, quite frankly, if I’m slicing up a different pie, and each slice is a Reason Why The Seahawks Are Fucked In The Immediate Future, it’s injuries again.  Because injuries forced us into trading multiple high-value draft picks to bring in guys like Richardson and Duane Brown.  Because some injuries are so severe, guys like Avril, Kam, and McDowell might not play another snap of football in their careers!  Because other injuries – to guys like Sherman, Bennett, Fant, and Joeckel – might force the team to move on from them.

It just sucks, because we really WERE all in on this year.  At the beginning of the season, there were two big needs for this team (aside from, of course, the need to stay healthy):  interior pass rush, and offensive line help.  We had high hopes for the young guys (McDowell and Fant), and we had skyrocketing hopes for the veterans (Richardson and Brown).  It really felt like, particularly with the Richardson trade, that the rich was getting richer, and that this defense was going to be a hornet’s nest.  But, it never really came together, and ultimately got worse and worse as injuries started to mount.

At that point, I have to wonder if the bigger problem isn’t Darrell Bevell or Tom Cable, but Kris Richard.  I agree that he’s had his moments, particularly with the Eagles game, but he’s had WAY more bad performances in his career, and nothing is really all that encouraging for him going forward.  It’s hard to know if some of that is Pete Carroll putting the restraints on him, forcing Richard to adhere closely to his scheme (when maybe this team would’ve been better served with a lot more blitzing and maybe a different type of coverage scheme).  But, I find it hard to believe that even with all the injuries, this defense would’ve fallen as hard as it did with a better defensive coordinator at the helm.  And that doesn’t even get into all the sideline arguments we’ve seen since Richard took over; it doesn’t really feel like he’s got control of that unit.  Weird, a mediocre player in his day evolved into a mediocre coordinator now.  And I guarantee you the only reason he’s seeing head coaching interviews is because of the Rooney Rule, and the fact that there aren’t enough qualified African American candidates out there that haven’t already been interviewed a million times.  Because, really, who is SERIOUSLY considering Kris Richard to be their head coach right now?  That’s total lunacy!  He’s done NOTHING but be the caretaker of a #1 defense that has gotten worse every year under his watch.

Sheep!  Get off the Bevell & Cable nonsense!  Remember, we’ve actually WON a Super Bowl with these guys!  You know who we HAVEN’T won with?  Richard.  He needs to go.  Now.

Oh, what could’ve been.  In an ideal world, we would’ve snagged Gus Bradley back after he got fired from the Jags.

Seahawks Death Week: No Post-Season For The First Time Since 2011

I don’t know if there’s any point in rehashing this one too in depth, so let’s blow through it really quick:  the Seahawks lost at home to the Arizona Cardinals.  Led by Drew Stanton and his slightly torn ACL (that still left him spry enough to repeatedly run away from Michael Bennett in the open field), the Cards racked up 259 yards en route to a 26-24 victory.  Of course, the most mind-boggling thing was their 20-7 halftime lead, but at this point should it even be all that mind-boggling anymore?  We suck early in games, period.  That only made the inevitable second half comeback all the more painful in the end, as Blair Walsh sailed yet another field goal wide of its target in the closing seconds of the game.

Of course, by that point, it was known that the Panthers – behind garbage-ass Cam Newton’s 3 interceptions – lost to the Falcons, blowing their opportunity to win their division in the process (because, against all odds, the Bucs actually managed to beat the Saints).  So, it didn’t really matter what Blair Walsh did, and missing that kick actually made things better for the Seahawks, not just in dropping our draft pick from 20 to 18, but ensuring that there’s no fucking way this front office loses its collective minds and opts to re-sign that good-for-nothing piece of shit kicker.  21 of 29, for the worst season percentage of his career.  3 of those misses were under 40 yards (not counting the extra point he also missed), and 0 of those makes were 50 yards or more.  Ostensibly, we brought Walsh in here to be a cheaper alternative to Steven Hauschka, but we also brought him in here because of his big leg.  Once it was determined that he couldn’t be trusted, he finished the season with just 1 attempt over 50 yards, so obviously that was a huge embarrassing failure of a signing.

But, you can’t blame the fact that the Seahawks missed out on the playoffs on a terrible kicker like Blair Walsh (though, you can certainly trace at least a couple of these close losses to his missed field goals).  There’s plenty of blame to go around for why the Seahawks finished 9-7 and outside of the playoffs.  We’ll get into more of that as Seahawks Death Week goes on.

Before we get to that, a few notes on this final game of the season:

Tyler Lockett looked amazing, particularly on his kickoff return for a TD.  He’s slowly but surely returning to form after his devastating injury; I would expect great things from him in 2018.

I hope the Seahawks can bring Byron Maxwell back on the cheap.  He’d be a nice depth piece to have behind Sherm and Griffin.  I would also hope DeShawn Shead can return, but I think that’s less likely.  He’s probably looking for more of a starting role, and if he shows out in workouts, could very well command a salary this team has no business matching.  Besides, Justin Coleman appears to have that slot corner position on lockdown, so there isn’t a lot of room for more DBs (assuming, of course, that the team goes out in the draft and picks up another one).

I would absolutely love it for Dion Jordan to stay on.  I’ll get to where he should play in the coming days (hint:  so long, Michael Bennett), but I thought he was clearly the best defensive lineman on the field for the Seahawks in the last couple weeks, and it would’ve been nice to see him at least get more than 50% of the defensive snaps.

I’m less high on Sheldon Richardson returning, but I’d consider it for a couple reasons:  I don’t want the Seahawks to waste their time on high-priced free agents from other teams (mostly because I want some good compensatory draft picks for 2019).  While he would certainly figure in that equation if he walked away, I just don’t know who you could bring in to fill that spot, unless you’re sure Malik McDowell can come back from whatever stole his rookie season from him.  I have my doubts there.  Obviously, though, if Richardson is looking for Ndamukong Suh-type money, then let him walk.  But, if he can be had at the right price, with an out after 2-3 years, I say jump on it!

Okay, so I’m jumping on some of my future posts, so I’ll wrap it up with this:  I think the Seahawks need a lot of work in their receiver corps.  Baldwin is a stud, Lockett is criminally under-utilized, but as for the rest … yeesh.

My Unhelpful Preview Of Tonight’s Seahawks/Cardinals Game

The Seahawks just have to win.  That’s it!  End of post!  It’s patently ridiculous that the Seahawks are at this point, it’s ridiculous that they lost to the Redskins last week, and frankly it’s ridiculous how they’ve lost all three of those games this season.  We’re a game behind the Rams now – who look like a fucking murderer’s row the way they’re beating some of these teams (although, curiously, they too lost a home game to the Redskins, which just might be one of those teams unaffected by the 3-timezone change) – and if you haven’t seen their schedule, it’s so close to Seattle’s it’s eerie!

Their AFC road games are at the Jags and Titans, as are ours.  Their road NFC East games are at the Cowboys and Giants, as are ours.  They play last year’s 3rd place NFC South team – the Saints – at home; we play last year’s 1st place NFC South team – the Falcons – at home.  They play last year’s 3rd place NFC North team – the Vikings – on the road; we play last year’s 1st place NFC North team – the Packers – on the road.  Literally the only difference is the order in which we play these teams.  Which thus far has hurt the Seahawks, because we had to grapple with Aaron Rodgers and Deshaun Watson when they were still healthy; they avoid Watson, and get to face whatever backup Vikings QB is in the lineup in two weeks.

If I’m being honest, it’s hard to find two more losses on the Rams’ schedule, unless they start suffering significant injuries.  Their toughest games are both at home, against the Saints and Eagles.  Other than that, MAYBE the Vikings’ defense poses some threat, but I’m not really a believer in those guys.  So, either the Seahawks need to win their remaining 8 games – including at home against the Rams to take the season head-to-head tie-breaker – or the Rams need to start dropping some games they should otherwise win.

Also, not for nothing, but going 8-0 is pretty much a prerequisite for getting a first round BYE in the playoffs, which sounds pretty impossible when you’ve got the Falcons and Eagles at home, and the Jags and Cowboys on the road.  You scoff at the Jags, but have you SEEN their defense?  Now imagine those guys going up against this Seattle offense (particularly this Seattle offensive line), and understand the game is in Florida, at 10am Pacific time, and you’ll see why I’m freaking out here.

That’s obviously getting ahead of things by quite a bit.  Taking this second half of the season as one big chunk is insane; we’re going to have to take this one game at a time, just like Russell Wilson always says.  Forget about everything else, the Seahawks just need to go 1-0 tonight.

Of course, they SHOULD go 1-0 tonight, because the Cards are pretty terrible.  But, they also SHOULD have gone 1-0 last week at home against the Redskins, and you saw what happened.  Remember last year, when the Seahawks SHOULD have won down in Arizona, but dicked around all night and ended up with a 6-6 tie?  Remember why that happened?  Remember a certain kicker missing a certain number of field goals to cost this team a win?  Remember how that kicker frequently missed kicks down in Arizona because their field is garbage?  And remember how that kicker is now kicking in Buffalo, and the Seahawks went and signed Blair Walsh for some God-foresaken reason?

That 6-6 football game last year was EASILY the worst game of the entire season, across the entire NFL.  I’m just saying, don’t be shocked if we’re in for something similar tonight.

We all know Arizona is awful.  Their record is 4-4, which sounds insane, until you’ve seen who they beat:  Indy, San Francisco, Tampa Bay, San Francisco again.  So, three of the very worst teams in the league.  They lost to the Lions, Cowboys, Eagles, and Rams.  So, three of the very best teams in the league (and the Lions).  That 4-4 record feels like a lie, but given the discrepancy of their opponents, it’s hard to get a true read on just how bad the Cards really are.  Tonight should be a good litmus test, and it would be, if it weren’t being played on Thursday Night.


(it’s just easier that way)

No Carson Palmer, no David Johnson; so two of their three best offensive players are gone.  Larry Fitzgerald is still the ageless wonder, and Drew Stanton is still a good fit in Bruce Arians’ offense as a backup quarterback.  He takes care of the ball for the most part, and puts his team in position to win more often than not.  And, he’s got Adrian Peterson to hand the ball off to, who is averaging 4.2 yards per carry since coming over from the Saints.  The key tonight is, obviously, prevent AP from keeping them on schedule and force Stanton to beat you down field.  Even without Earl Thomas, that shouldn’t be a concern for the Seahawks.

Defensively, the Cards aren’t very good.  27th in points per game, 23rd in yards per game.  They’re 24th in passing yards per game at 249.3, and 11th in rushing yards per game at 100.5.  Since the Seahawks can’t run the ball anyway, tonight would be a poor night to try to shoehorn that into our offense.  Just throw it on them!  Throw away from Patrick Peterson and take what’s given to you!  I expect Jimmy Graham to have a big one here, so expect him to colossally disappoint.

I’ll say this:  they don’t have Calais Campbell anymore, which is the best news I’ve heard all year (the downside is that he’s currently tearing shit up on the Jags, who we play in December).  I’m not saying it’ll be smooth sailing against that front seven, but any time you can avoid CC destroying the interior of your O-Line, it’s a leg up for the good guys.

Take care of business, Seahawks.  Or so help me God.

What The Seahawks Should Do At Backup Quarterback

Recent news indicates that Tarvaris Jackson is likely to test the free agent waters this year, in hopes of getting into a situation that either pays him more money and/or gives him a chance to compete for a starting job/puts him behind a quarterback who might be a little more injury-prone than Russell Wilson.  Your guess is as good as mine as to what Tarvar has been doing in recent offseasons.  This story makes it sound like he’s been settling for being Seattle’s backup because it’s comfortable and familiar.  My guess is that Seattle has indeed been giving him the best possible deal, as I can’t imagine the market is too hard-up for a guy who’s proven he’s a backup in this league and nothing more.

Granted, he’s one of the better backups across the league, but a backup he remains.

Still, if you’re Tarvar, you’re looking around at some of these teams in 2015 – struggles in Dallas, Philly, St. Louis, Frisco, Cleveland, Baltimore, and Houston – and you’ve got to be thinking that you’re better than the backups for those teams who were forced into action (Dallas and Baltimore, particularly) and in other cases, better than who they’re running out as starters (Cleveland, Houston, St. Louis and the rest).  So, yeah, it makes sense – if you want to give it a go as a real live NFL quarterback (and not just a seat-warmer on the bench) – to put yourself out there as a veteran alternative for some of these teams who don’t land their Quarterback of the Future in the NFL Draft or free agency.  At the very least, he’d be likelier to see the field playing behind someone a little less durable than Russell Wilson (boy, am I putting the whammy on our boy with this sentiment).

So, what we’re talking about is, for the first time in years, looking for a non-Tarvar backup.

All else being equal, I’d like to have Tarvar back again.  That’s going to mean many multiple teams pass him over for other alternatives, leaving him with a pretty bruised ego, but so be it.  If, however, for the sake of argument we’re talking about a Tarvar-less future, then there are two obvious routes you can take:  bring in a veteran, or draft/sign a rookie.

Seattle’s in a wonderful position in this regard, because we have Russell Wilson.  He’s a solid, franchise quarterback, still in the early-prime of his career.  We don’t necessarily NEED to bring in another starting candidate to push him.  Which means, obviously, backup quarterback is a position that you can save some money on (which is important, considering how much money Wilson is taking in).  Therefore, you won’t see the Seahawks using a high draft pick, and you won’t see them blowing out the bank on free agents like Cousins, Fitzpatrick, Osweiler, or Bradford (who will all be looking for opportunities to start somewhere anyway).

That puts us in the range of a low-round draft pick (maybe 5th or lower), an undrafted rookie, or one of the other veteran options out there on the market.

In looking at those veteran options … woof!  What a bunch of dogs!  When you think of a backup quarterback in our kind of situation (i.e. someone who is a clear backup and has no chance to be this team’s starter when all players are healthy), your BEST CASE scenario is a guy who will fill in for a few weeks and somehow manage to keep the team in/around .500.  A guy like Seneca Wallace back in the day is a perfect example of this.  We were lucky to have drafted him to play behind Hasselbeck, so he was cheap for many years.  If we can somehow do that again, that’s probably the most realistic ideal situation.  Looking at veteran options, someone like … Matt Hasselbeck last year with Indy.  He was able to fill in for a few games and led them to some quality wins!  Then, as the season dragged on, as Luck was unable to return and the games piled up, Hasselbeck was less and less effective.  Old guys getting hit a lot tend to break down, shocking I know.

This post by Field Gulls has a nice little list of free agent quarterbacks.  If you remove Tarvar (for the sake of argument), and you remove the four starting candidates (Bradford, Cousins, Fitzpatrick, and Osweiler), you’re left with the crap of the crap (obviously, it’s still really early in the offseason, and a lot of cuts/trades are out there to be made; this post won’t include guys likely to be released/already under contract).  Among guys with significant starting experience, you’re talking about:

  • Cassel
  • Clausen
  • Gradkowski
  • Hasselbeck
  • Henne
  • Lindley
  • McCown
  • McCoy
  • Moore
  • Schaub
  • Stanton
  • Vick
  • Weeden
  • Whitehurst
  • Yates

Cassel is old and grossly over-valued.  I have zero confidence in his abilities to guide a team to a .500 record in the absence of this team’s starter (see:  his stint in Dallas last year).  Clausen is horrible; Gradkowski hasn’t had significant starting experience in half a decade; Lindley & Stanton are who we think they are; Vick is as done as done can be; the best thing Whitehurst has ever done is somehow trick Jewel into going out with him (aside from tricking multiple teams into giving him multiple millions of dollars, including the Seahawks, and now this is making me even more upset); and Yates apparently only has value to the Houston Texans, so that’s a stay-away in my book.

Of the guys I didn’t list in that paragraph, Hasselbeck is obviously the most interesting.  Who knows if he’s even in the market to continue his career after the thrashing he took in Luck’s absence last year?  Odds are, since Wilson does a better job of avoiding contact, he probably doesn’t suffer the same lacerated spleen or whatever the hell it was that Luck had.  Then again, if you’re Hasselbeck, would you ever expect a tough hoss like Luck to get injured in the first place?

RGIII might be another someone looking to compete for a starting job.  In fact, I’m almost sure of it, so I don’t know why I kept him here.  Obviously, I worry about injuries with him.  I also worry about his mindset.  By all accounts, he was a quality teammate last year and didn’t cause any trouble in the lockerroom.  But, for a guy drafted as high as he was, who still has a lot of the skills that made him so highly sought after (minus the legs, obviously), he’d make an ideal backup candidate.  BUT, maybe not for the Seahawks.  I just have my doubts as to his willingness to come in and be the clear #2.

If I’m being honest, I don’t totally hate the idea of Chad Henne as this team’s backup.  When he first got a crack to be a team’s starter, it was in Miami in 2009 & 2010.  Those weren’t great teams, but they were sort of middle-of-the-road, .500-ish teams, and he led them to .500-ish records accordingly.  His career started to go down the shitter when he went to Jacksonville, playing on some truly horrendous teams.  On the right team (i.e. on THIS team, the Seahawks), I think Henne could be a .500-ish quarterback again.  He’s going to complete upwards of 57-60% of his passes, and if you instruct him to refrain from taking too many chances, you might be able to coax his interception percentage down to reasonable levels.  He is getting on in age, though, so he’s probably not all that mobile, which obviously is going to be an issue for most of these veterans we’re looking at.

Luke McCown had 1 start in 2015, and played brilliantly in a losing effort.  Against Carolina, he completed 31 of 38 passes for 310 yards and a pick.  Before that, he hasn’t started a game since 2011, so I don’t know what you’d expect here.  That one start for New Orleans really skews his career numbers, but he could be an interesting buy-low candidate with some semblance of upside as a backup.

Colt McCoy might honestly be the best of the bunch.  Drafted by Cleveland, I tend to discount whatever anyone does in Cleveland, as they’ve been a trainwreck ever since the NFL let them back into the league (and for many years before they went to Baltimore to boot).  In 2014, McCoy had a string of games with the Redskins that showed everyone why he was thought of so highly coming out of college, as well as why he’s now exclusively a backup.  He had two and a half really good games (including an impressive Monday night victory over the eventual division champion Cowboys), and a couple of real stinkers (albeit, I believe that last game he was injured and had to leave the game early).  He’s definitely not going to blow anyone away or win any shootouts, but I think he could manage a game effectively well.  What more can you ask for?

Matt Moore has been backing up Tannehill these last few years, and honestly I don’t know how he can stand it.  Moore, in his starting efforts early in his career, was the epitome of a .500 quarterback.  Hovering around 59% completions, with slightly more touchdowns than interceptions.  He strikes me as another semi-ideal candidate.  Like Henne, he’s getting on in years, so I don’t know how mobile he is, and he hasn’t started a game since 2011, so that’s tough.  Maybe he’s like another Whitehurst, who loves being a backup and living in a tropical climate!  If that’s the case, I wonder if Seattle is the right spot for him.

Matt Schaub scares me.  A lot like Vick, I think he’s done.  A lot like Cassel, I think he’s over-valued.  He strikes me as a guy who, personality-wise, wouldn’t fit in on a team with this many alpha dogs.

Brandon Weeden is probably the last interesting name on the list.  He’s young enough to where you don’t totally worry about his durability (even though, let’s be honest, he’s like a tree back there in the pocket).  And, in spite of his Cleveland roots, I think it’s probably set in by this point that he’s going to be a career backup.  Last year was interesting for him, as he was the next man up after Romo went down for Dallas.  He proved to be underwhelming at best, leading to the Cowboys to over-pay for Matt Cassel (who managed to play even worse).  Weeden landed in Houston, where he ran circles around Cassel in his two appearances (though, he ended up relinquishing the job to Brian Hoyer for the playoffs, so make of that what you will).

So, in conclusion, I’ll rank my favorite options for the Seahawks’ backup quarterback:

  1. Talk Tarvaris Jackson into returning for another year
  2. Colt McCoy
  3. Matt Hasselbeck
  4. Rookie QB (either low round pick, undrafted free agent, or guy already on a futures contract)
  5. Brandon Weeden
  6. Henne/Moore (tie)
  7. Luke McCown
  8. Fuck it, give the job to Jon Ryan (also, make sure to re-sign Jon Ryan)
  9. No one/all Wildcat all the time
  10. Schaub
  11. Cassel
  12. Fan (open tryouts every week for a local Seahawks fan)

The “What Ifs” Of This Seahawks Season

Coming off of that loss in Kansas City, the Seahawks were 6-4, three games behind the 9-1 Cardinals.  Sure, we would go on to face the Cards twice in the last six weeks, but if you assumed that the Cards would continue winning at their record pace, even if we somehow swept them in our season series, they could have theoretically still ended up a game ahead of us and with the top seed in the NFC.

What if that actually happened?

I mean, come on.  They lost to a terrible Falcons team somehow, then they lost the last game of the season against the 49ers when it didn’t really matter anyway.  Let’s say there’s this alternate universe where everything else happened as it happened, but instead the Cards beat the Falcons and 49ers and ended up 13-3 to our 12-4.

Well, as I mentioned before, they’d have the number 1 seed and a BYE in the first week of the playoffs.  That would’ve given them an extra week to try to get Drew Stanton healthy.  I don’t know if it was ever determined if he would’ve been able to play in a Divisional Round matchup or not, but that’s neither here nor there.  By virtue of getting the top seed, that would’ve pushed the Seahawks down to the 5-seed, playing in Carolina in the Wild Card round.

This makes things somewhat interesting going forward.  I’m pretty firm in my belief that the Seahawks would be able to win in Carolina.  Which, if everything else plays to form, means the Cowboys would still go to Green Bay in the second round, while we would’ve advanced to play in Arizona.

I have NO doubt in my mind, whatsoever, that we would be able to go into Glendale and win that game.  Especially if Lindley was still starting at that point, but even if Stanton returned.  In this theoretical world where they managed to finish 13-3, they still would’ve lost twice to us, and in impressive fashion.

With, again, everything holding as it happened, that means Green Bay would’ve beaten Dallas, sending us out on the road again to play the Packers.

Now, I actually did look this up.  On the date and time of the NFC Championship Game, in Green Bay, the weather was in the mid-30s and clear.  I know we’re talking about a road game, and I know we’re talking about an impressive atmosphere in Lambeau Field.  And, yeah, mid-30s is pretty cold.  But, I gotta wonder:  is it possible for us to play any worse than we did for the first 55 minutes of that game in Seattle?

Okay, so you caught me.  This is really just an excuse for me to talk about the game against Green Bay some more.  But, I’m seriously!  How much worse could it POSSIBLY have been if we had played that one in Green Bay?  Now, granted, in this alternate scenario, the Seahawks wouldn’t have had the BYE, instead playing an extra game.  There’s no telling how our injury situation may or may not have been altered.  But, if we assume no major catastrophes, then I would like to try to make the argument that we actually would have managed to play BETTER.

Let’s start here:  the weather.  I’m sorry, but you’re not going to shake me of my belief that the rain and the general sogginess had everything to do with our turnover mistakes.  Take the first ball to Kearse.  Is that a better-thrown ball in the clear skies of Green Bay?  Just a tad more on-target?  And, even if it’s not, is Kearse able to make a fingertip grab of the ball if it’s not as slick as it was in Seattle?

That first interception changes the whole dynamic of the game.  I would argue it changes the entirety of the events to come.  No turnover in our own zone.  No quick score by Green Bay.  No fumble by Baldwin on the kickoff return.  And so on and so on.

Now, does it mean we win the game?  That’s up for debate.  I think the Seahawks play better early, but “better” is relative.  “Better” could just mean playing to a 0-0 draw in the first quarter.  I’ll tell you this much:  without all the soul-crushing turnovers throughout the game, I think it plays out much more like we originally expected.  I think the Seahawks defense still plays great – and gets better as the game goes along – and with a few completed passes here and there, I think we’re able to crank out our running game earlier.

Let’s look at it this way:  I don’t think Green Bay had one smidgen of a problem playing how they wanted to play just because the game was in Seattle.  Home Field Advantage gets blown up a little too much around these parts, and I’ll admit I’m as guilty as anyone.  When you’re good enough to reach your conference’s championship game, the location really stops being a huge point of emphasis.  At that point, it boils down to:  Who Is The Better Team?  And, if the Seahawks were good enough to overcome five turnovers, they’re good enough to overcome whatever noise the Green Bay faithful are able to crank out, especially in a rain-free environment where the Seahawks could thrive.

It took just about everything going against us for Green Bay to be in the position they were in.  Most of that had to do with it being so wet.  The next time you decide to tout Seattle as having this great home field advantage, just remember what the weather can be like in January.  The rain doesn’t give a shit what jerseys you wear.  And, I know everyone THINKS that all our home games are these waterlogged affairs, but if you actually live in Seattle, you know the truth.  September is still summer.  October is usually pretty mild.  And the fact of the matter is, we might only play two or three games at the most – per year – with rain-like conditions.  It’s not something you get “used to”, because freaky shit can happen at anytime.  Freaky shit caused by rain.  That God damn rain.

So, who’s ready for the Super Bowl to start?

Seahawks Slayed The Dragon, Prepare For Next Dragon

I’m not going to make a huge deal about the struggling offense, because yesterday was pretty much our best case scenario.  Like I figured, we needed every ounce of that defensive performance, and BOY was it a sight for sore eyes!  We held them to 3.2 yards per rush, we pressured the quarterback with regularity (finishing with 3 sacks and 8 hits), we held them to 204 total yards, and we plucked an interception out of the air for good measure.  Most everyone, minus Mebane, was healthy and out there making an impact.  We’ll need this type of injury-free effort the rest of the way if we want to make the playoffs.

What I didn’t see coming – really, what I COULDN’T see coming – was the utter dominance of our Special Teams over their Special Teams.  The lone blemish was a missed field goal on our part, but as you can see from the final score, it didn’t matter.  The Cardinals also missed a field goal, as well as had a punt blocked, and overall got massacred in the battle of field position.  In other words, our offense wasn’t able to do much, but in this case, it didn’t have to do too much.

This is the point in the post where I turn around and make myself into a liar by invalidating the first sentence through making a huge deal out of the struggling offense.

I know the Cardinals have a very good defense, so it’s somewhat understandable for a team to settle for field goals in a game like this.  Except, this is by NO MEANS an isolated incident.  The Seahawks have been notoriously awful in the red zone all season long.  Yes, part of it is due to play calling.  But, you can’t absolve the players of their part in this whole thing.

  • The offensive line has struggled at times.  Yes, there have been lots of injuries there, but that’s no excuse.  That’s a problem for the coming offseason, but right now, I’m sick of talking about it.
  • The quarterback has struggled at times.  Part of that is on the O-Line, but part of that is Russell Wilson just not getting the job done.  Missing wide open guys, being late with throws, indecisiveness.  He needs to be better.
  • The wide receivers are all WILDLY out of position.  I know it’s an ongoing theme, but this team misses Golden Tate and it’s driving me crazy.

Then, when you factor in the coaches not putting the players in positions to succeed, you’ve got quite the mess on your hands.  Going away from the run inside the five yard line.  Calling corner-fades when all of our receivers are 6-feet or less.  It’s not even the play-calling that I have a problem with, but the overall lack of creativity within the plays we have to choose from!  I know there’s not a lot you can do when you’re so close to the endzone, but I watch a lot of other teams play football, and they seem to find a way to punch it in WAY more than the Seahawks do.

But, anyway, I’m rambling again.  The Seahawks got the win, and they got it comfortably.  That’s all that matters right now.

Our backs were against the wall.  Ol’ Baby was put in that corner.  We were on the precipice, one foot dangling over the edge of the plank, about to fall to our doom in shark-infested waters.  A loss yesterday would have put the Cardinals at 10-1, while the Seahawks would have fallen to 6-5 and into sole possession of third place in the NFC West.  We would have been 0-2 in the division and hopelessly fighting for a playoff dream nowhere in sight.  God, can you imagine?

Instead, they’re 9-2, we’re 7-4 and tied for second with the 49ers, who we JUST so happen to be playing in three days.  I’ve got no love for Thursday games whatsoever, but I’m going to make an exception for this:  Thanksgiving, at a bar in Bell Town, screaming my God damn head off with all the other degenerates who have nowhere else better to be than a bar on Thanksgiving night.

It’s going to be glorious.  I don’t think I’m going to be able to contain myself in the meantime.

But, let’s roll it back and call out some players of the game.  The offensive line obviously wasn’t at its best, with Carpenter and Unger both out.  They gave up 7 sacks, 11 tackles for loss, and 11 quarterback hits.  But, they made good adjustments after halftime and looked rather solid in the second half.  It can’t be easy going up against those maniacs in the Arizona front seven; I’m just glad nobody was killed.

Bobby Wagner, WELCOME BACK!  Good lord was he ever missed!  I don’t think I had any idea of his overall value to this defense until we were condemned to playing football games without his leadership, intensity, and oodles of talent holding us all together.  He deserves whatever it takes to keep him here long term.  He above everyone else is the one guy I want extended on that defense.

The difference between Healthy Kam Chancellor and Nagging Injury Kam Chancellor is night and fucking day, let me tell you.  I’ll feel A LOT better about our chances if we can keep Wagner & Chancellor in the lineup every week from here on out.

I feel like Bruce Irvin is THIS CLOSE to really breaking out and becoming a superstar in this defense.  At this point, it’s just a matter of him making the big plays with more regularity, but he’s right there.  If, over these last handful of games, he can step it up, we could be looking at a lethal defense the likes of which we have yet to see (which should be scary for opposing offenses).

Cliff Avril had a couple sacks and was generally a pain in the ass of Drew Stanton all game.  He’s only got 4 sacks on the year, which is a shockingly low number, but I feel like that doesn’t paint the whole picture with him.  From the eyeball test, he has looked quite good this season and is another guy I’d like to see extended, if the price is right.  My hunch is, with everyone else getting healthier around him, Avril is poised to go on a nice little run to close out the season.  It wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest to see him get another 6 sacks in the next five games to really boost his value as he becomes a free agent in the offseason.

Jordan Hill had the other sack in the game, his first of the season.  It’s hard for me to get a handle on him as a football player.  From what I read about him, it’s neither good nor overwhelmingly bad.  He’s sort of Just A Guy.  But, he’s a draft pick, in the second year of his deal, and we have an obvious hole at defensive tackle with Mebane on the shelf.  Now is the time!  There’s really no one else out there we can bring in, so this is his big break.  Over these last few games, we’ll have a pretty good idea of whether he’s a starter, merely a role player, or if he’s someone to be replaced in the coming offseason.  I’d like to see him make that leap toward being someone important for this team, if for no other reason than it’s one less thing we’ve got to worry about.

I don’t have much good to say about the offense.  Another gutty, gritty Russell Wilson performance.  I will say that it’s appallingly frustrating that our rookie wide receivers have yet to really make any impact whatsoever.  When you consider this rookie class of receivers will go down in history as probably the best ever, and you factor in that we have TWO of them who are doing nothing, it’s starting to make my blood boil.  I do understand that wide receivers often take time to really blossom into their full potential, but it sucks when we’re talking about a position of great need and we’re looking at something we’re going to have to invest heavily in again next year.

Although, I bet part of it is the offense not using these guys appropriately.  I did like the whole flea-flicker play to Norwood in yesterday’s game, even if it didn’t work thanks to a great play by Patrick Peterson.  I hope we take more shots like that with him, in a jump-ball setting, to see if he’s got that in his game.  As for Paul Richardson, I don’t know WHAT the fuck they’re doing.  He’s a speed guy; maybe use him for that?  I know we don’t have any sort of vertical passing game to speak of, but how about we TRY letting him run behind the defense down field a few times, just to see if this is a thing we can do.  Why can’t Richardson be the next T.Y. Hilton?  I’m not asking for 10 TDs out of him, but he should be a team leader in yards per reception!

Is this too much to ask?  I’m not saying you have to make these guys the focal points of your offense, but work ’em in!  Let ’em do what they do best!  If you INSIST upon these WR screens, can you please just throw it ONE TIME to the fastest guy on the roster?  It feels like Richardson was born to run those.

That’s all I got.  In the meantime, I’m going to try to focus on something other than the impending Thanksgiving showdown.

Seahawks Set To Play Their Lone Monday Night Game Of 2014

I don’t have a whole lot to say about this one.  The Seahawks SHOULD win this game and win it comfortably.  The Redskins don’t have much on defense, and their offense plays to OUR defense’s strengths.  At this point, I’m more interested in how my fantasy team can pull out a fifth straight victory (long story short:  I need Alfred Morris to have a good game, while Pierre Garcon and Russell Wilson have bad games; if the Seahawks win while all that happens, all the better).

It’s pretty amazing that there have been two full Sundays’ worth of football since the Seahawks last played.  I know it’s early to be messing around with Scoreboard Watching, but I’m looking at this NFC as a whole and I’m less than impressed.

The 49ers struggled but ultimately came away victorious in their last two games against two pretty good teams (Eagles & Chiefs, both at home).  On the one hand, you can look at this and say, “All they’ve gotta do is hang around until the second half when they start getting injured stars back.”  But, there are significant problems with this team, and you have to wonder if they’ll even be in a position to take advantage of returning stars.  In their next five games, they play St. Louis twice, and they play on the road against Denver, New Orleans, and the Giants.  Denver is a for-sure loss.  New Orleans is – in spite of their poor record – most likely going to be a 49er loss, simply because the Saints are so good at home.  I never would’ve thought the Giants could hang with this team, but if they limit mistakes, that could easily be another loss for the 49ers.  The Giants’ defense is better than expected and should give Kaepernick and Co. fits.  And that says nothing about those two Rams games, who always seem to weirdly play the 49ers tough since Jeff Fisher took over.

That’s a 5-game stretch where San Fran could go anywhere from 3-2 to 0-5.  They better hope for that Best-Case Scenario, to make them 6-4 when they hit the home stretch, because in that stretch they’ll have to face the Seahawks twice in three weeks.  Not looking too secure for Frisco right about now.

In other NFC West news, the Cards lost to the Broncos in the most unsurprising game of the weekend.  Now, they’re looking like they’re down both Carson Palmer AND Drew Stanton.  Palmer, for the record, has a scary-sounding nerve issue with his throwing arm that leads me to believe he might want to just retire, unless he wants even more post-football health problems than he’s already going to have.  It’s difficult to see how this team is going to contend with this quarterback merry-go-round they’ve got going on, but their defense will ensure life is difficult for opposing offenses no matter what happens.

The Rams lost another tough game, but seem to have found their quarterback of the future in Austin Davis.  You hate hearing that, because all it’s going to take is a QB to prove himself.  By next year, the talent around Davis should finally start to click, and at that point we could be looking at a force in the NFC.  While their D-Line hasn’t lived up to its billing early, they still have the studs.  Zac Stacy is a running back that can be counted on to carry the load.  And, now they’ve got a receiver in Brian Quick who is distinguishing himself from a position group that has constantly disappointed since the end of the Greatest Show On Turf days.  If Quick proves to be a viable #1 receiver, that could open things up for a game-breaking talent in Tavon Austin.  At that point, you just need the O-Line to be competent and you’ve got yourself a playoff football team, and a frisky one at that.

Of course, that doesn’t mean much for this year, except for the fact that the Rams can play Spoiler with the best of ’em.  By season’s end, this will be a team that you WON’T want to take lightly.

But, as long as the Seahawks take care of business against the teams they’re supposed to, nothing else should matter.  The Redskins are feeble, so let’s go out there and show the world.