The Seahawks Beat The Browns, Just Like I Knew They Would

See, the key to any good Reverse Jinx is to never call out the fact that you’re performing a Reverse Jinx. It’s like a birthday cake wish, if you say it aloud, it won’t come true!

I’m with all of you, I thought the Seahawks had no business losing to the Browns yesterday. But, as we saw with the 20-6 start to that game, it was certainly on the table. I had to go so far in my Reverse Jinx as to triple-down on it, making bets with family and friends totalling a whopping $45! I lost cold, hard cash just so the Seahawks would win this one! I’m the Jesus Christ of football fans!

Let’s dig into it, because I feel like I’ll have a lot to say. First up, the defense.

I’m very conflicted. Sometimes, they can look SO TERRIBLE. They give up an avalanche of yards and touchdowns and you think it’s never going to relent. They might put the team in some significant holes, but they almost always adjust and figure out a way to at least slow it down to a dull roar. You try to wrap your head around ’em, try to figure out who this defense is REALLY, but they won’t ever let you solve the riddle.

With those first three Browns drives (I’ll lump the opening kickoff return in with the defense in this case), we’re talking about 102 return yards and 184 yards of offense; it’s like the Seahawks weren’t even there! The D-Line wasn’t able to get any pressure, the run defense was abysmal, and receivers were wide open all day.

Then, the game just got goofy. A blocked punt, a couple tipped passes turning into interceptions, and a methodical Seahawks offense almost bringing us all the way back to even by halftime. By the way, I don’t love the handoff to Prosise for the 2-point play (I guess it would’ve been too obvious if they’d put Carson back in the game, since he was off the field for the entire 2-minute offense). When you’ve got Russell Wilson as your quarterback, put the fucking ball in his hands and let him go to work! Spread everyone out, and let him throw it to whoever or scramble around and run it in if that presents itself!

The wackiness continued throughout the second half, as the Seahawks finally got the lead, then fumbled it away, then stopped the Browns improbably on 4th & Goal at the 1 (after a hilarious challenge by their head coach that cockblocked a would-be touchdown). The Seahawks proceeded to have one of the worst 3-play sequences of all time from their own 1-yard line, only to punt the ball 23 yards away (which Pete Carroll apparently wanted him to take a safety on; did he decide this at the last second? Why wasn’t this instructed to the team in the huddle?), which led to the Browns re-taking the lead two plays later.

With 9 minutes left in the game, down by 3 points, nothing would’ve surprised me. The Seahawks could’ve turned the ball over, could’ve been set back by penalties, could’ve driven the ball into Browns territory only to settle for a field goal, or could’ve done what they did and taken back the lead. For what it’s worth, I was convinced that had we settled for the tie, we would’ve lost this game in regulation. But, on the very next drive, the Browns turned it over for the fourth time, and thankfully the Seahawks were able to capitalize by running out the clock.

Russell Wilson continues to look like the MVP of the league, with 295 yards passing, and 3 total touchdowns (against zero turnovers). Chris Carson continues to look like one of the five best running backs in all of football, with 124 yards and a touchdown (while just straight up murdering people late in games). Tyler Lockett continues to look like one of the ten best wide receivers in the league, but also shout out to Jaron Brown for his 2 TDs, and D.K. Metcalf for some clutch catches throughout.

It was a nice effort out of the offensive line in this one. I had Myles Garrett getting 3 sacks, and he fell one shy (though I think one was called back on penalty?). But, otherwise with Fant starting for Brown, and Jones in for Fluker, I thought they held up pretty well. Mike Iupati had his best game as a Seahawk, which came at the perfect time.

Huge bummer in losing Will Dissly. It fucking sucks when someone is so special and keeps getting knocked out for the season due to fluke injuries. The Seahawks were smart to call up Jacob Hollister from the practice squad before the game, and we’re relatively lucky that Ed Dickson should be returning soon from his injury.

Also returning this week will be Jarran Reed. Here’s hoping he doesn’t immediately pull a hamstring or something in practice in his enthusiasm to return from suspension. It’s not a moment too soon, as this D-Line could use another infusion of talent. They still really haven’t gelled, particularly as a pass rushing unit, so hopefully a stud in the middle will make all the difference (considering how much Baltimore likes to run the ball, we’ll need his presence there as well to help slow things down). Nick Chubb is the real deal (making that Penny draft selection all the harder to swallow, especially when you factor in how injury-prone Penny has been in his brief NFL career; that was supposedly the reason why the Seahawks were down on Chubb); and he made the Seahawks look like idiots in this one. I would expect we’ll see a lot of Mark Ingram next week (though, I’m getting ahead of myself a little bit).

0 sacks and 0 quarterback hits for the defense (though Mayfield did take some big hits as a runner, leaving this game hobbled for a brief spell). I thought a lot of the turnovers were pretty lucky on our part – being in the right place at the right time – so kind of a mixed bag all around.

Not a lot to praise on the special teams. A missed extra point, a long return, and a muffed punt pretty much dominated the story for this unit. Flush it and move on to next week.

The Seahawks are 5-1 and with the 49ers at 5-0, that showdown in a few weeks looms LARGE. The fact that it’s on Monday Night will make things doubly exciting.

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 4th Most Important Seahawks Player After Russell Wilson: Duane Brown

Here is the Home Page for this series of posts.

I’m on record as being pretty high on the Seahawks’ offensive line this year. I like what they brought to the table in 2018, and I think overall we’re significantly deeper heading into 2019. We’ve got Justin Britt in his prime, with Hunt and Pocic able to back him up if need be. We’ve got a couple strong veteran guards in Iupati and Fluker to really stabilize things up the middle, with really strong depth in guys like Pocic, Simmons, Roos, and Haynes (the rookie). We’ve got Ifedi on the right side, who took a huge leap in his development in Year 3, and who’s also heading into a contract season (where he figures to get PAID as he becomes a free agent next year). And, even there, the Seahawks have pretty solid depth in George Fant (who will continue to develop his tight end skills, as he also plays a lot in our 6-linemen heavy sets) and Jamarco Jones.

The only place where I’d worry about our depth is where we’re inarguably the strongest with our starter, and that’s left tackle. Duane Brown is the best lineman on this team, period. He was brought here specifically to shore up this entire unit, as we floundered with rookies and young guys for a spell, and we not only paid a pretty penny in draft picks to get him here, but in cash money to keep him here. He’s also going to be 34 years old when the regular season starts, so the clock is ticking. While he’s still playing at a high level now, he’s one major injury away from seeing his career go down the toilet. Then, where will we be?

The Seahawks should be grooming his eventual replacement, so this year will be pretty huge. Jamarco Jones certainly has the body type and the skills (in college) to be a starter in this league. But, can he stay healthy (he missed his entire rookie season last year before it even got started)? And, is he athletic enough to stop some of the best pass rushers in the league on that left side? I’d love for him to have another full year to learn under Duane Brown before we even have to THINK about throwing him into the fire. That means we need to keep Brown’s knees healthy.

If Brown is in there, I honestly don’t care a whole lot about how the rest of the O-Line holds up, because I think he covers up a lot of the crap around him and makes everyone better. Having a year and a half playing with Wilson has helped Brown learn his tendencies, which in turn has helped in our overall pass protection. And, of course, this team is all about running the ball, so having Brown in there to lock down that left side is vitally important. Tack on the fact that Iupati almost certainly won’t be healthy for the full season, which means left guard could be a turnstile. Having Brown there to help out whoever has to fill in beats the shit out of having whoever his back up will be.

As the offense will need to carry more of the load for a depleted defense, this unit will only go as far as the O-line allows it. We saw that in 2017 when even the great Russell Wilson couldn’t overcome what was the absolute worst offensive line in the league. Duane Brown’s presence is vital to making this offense go, which is vital to taking this team back to the playoffs.

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.

A Special Seahawks Post About Guards

Earlier this morning, it was reported that the Seahawks are bringing in familiar name Mike Iupati on a 1-year deal. Terms are yet to be disclosed, but given his injury history of late …

  • 12 games in 2013
  • 15 games in 2014
  • 13 games in 2015
  • 15 games in 2016
  • 1 game in 2017
  • 10 games in 2018

… you’d think the guarantees are minimal and the incentives are extensive. Iupati – when he’s healthy – is a tremendous left guard in this league. He’s a 4-time Pro Bowler (from 2012-2015), he’s got experience playing under coach Mike Solari, and he’s EXACTLY what this team looks for in an offensive lineman. More run blocker than pass protector, but I would argue he’s probably better at both than J.R. Sweezy and he’s only 2 years older.

That’s what I like most about this. He’s better than Sweezy and he’s cheaper than Sweezy. The fact that they flip-flop teams (Sweezy to Arizona, Iupati from Arizona) is a nice little bonus. The Cardinals are run by morons, so doing the OPPOSITE of the Cardinals is always a good thing.

My concern after hearing about it was that the Seahawks would stop there. When Sweezy signed with another team, the thought was the Seahawks could still sign Fluker, but they’d likely go young with the other guard spot. Ethan Pocic has a high pedigree as an interior lineman, and while he’s looked like a bust in his first couple years, you never know when someone is going to put it all together. We thought Ifedi should be thrown off a bridge, and look at how much better he got in his third year! Jordan Simmons was obviously the more exciting name for Seahawks fans, as he played tremendously in his couple of starts last year. But, he too has been injury prone in his career dating back through college, so trusting him to be a 16-game starter in 2019 didn’t feel too realistic.

Iupati brings some insurance to this spot. I certainly won’t believe he’s a 16-game starter either, until I see it, but maybe Iupati AND Simmons combined could be that stopgap. Either way, it was looking like a good possibility that we’d still see plenty of Pocic … that is, until later this same morning when it was reported that the Seahawks brought back Fluker on a 2-year deal.

Now, don’t get me wrong, all three of these guys – Fluker, Iupati, and Simmons – have had their share of injuries, so avoiding Pocic is far from guaranteed. But, the DEPTH at this position is staggering!

Guards in the NFL get short shrift compared to tackles, and even centers. But, I would argue they’re pretty vital, especially in a division like the NFC West, which houses so many superstar defensive tackles. Russell Wilson has proven to be pretty elusive in his tenure thus far, but he doesn’t stand a chance when guys are allowed to run free up the middle. He at least stands a chance at avoiding a defensive end – particularly as most teams scheme the Seahawks to keeping him in the pocket, and not over-pursuing around the edge – but the shortest distance between two points is a straight line between wherever Aaron Donald lines up and wherever Russell Wilson lands on his ass. So, stocking this position group is of utmost importance! I’m happy that the Seahawks are taking this as seriously as they are.

With Fant in the fold as a third tackle, the Seahawks are as strong across the offensive line as they’ve ever been. I would argue the Seahawks are as good as any team in the league at this spot! Who would’ve thunk it even a year ago?

The Seahawks Signed A Kicker, Earl Thomas Signed With Baltimore, And Other Stuff Happened

I didn’t really intend on writing a new Seahawks Free Agency Tracker post every single day this week, but shit happens (specifically in the NFL, and specifically not in the other major sports).

Remember when the Seahawks had a 2018 kicking competition between Jason Myers and Sebastian Janikowski? Remember when both players were about the same through the first however many weeks of the pre-season, and I argued that the Seahawks should keep the younger, cheaper guy over the fucking 40 year old, if all things were equal? Remember how the Seahawks opted to keep the fucking 40 year old while Myers signed on with the Jets and made the AFC’s Pro Bowl team?

Well, Janikowski’s gone – felled by an injury in his final game – and Myers is back, only this time on a 4-year deal worth upwards of $4 million per year. Considering Myers was destined to be a free agent either way, and since we weren’t one mediocre kicker away from winning a Super Bowl, I guess you could say the decision Pete Carroll made last year isn’t the WORST move he’s ever made. But, we could’ve saved a lot of time and agita if we’d just done the right thing the first time.

What sucks, obviously, is the cost. No more going cheap on the placekicker, which I suppose is a smart thing to do, but is Myers worth the investment? His three seasons with Jacksonville revealed a booming leg with plenty of flaws. While his lone season with the Jets is promising – 33/36, including 6/7 from 50+ – was it a fluke? Kickers, like relievers in baseball, tend to be pretty volatile from year to year. On top of that, it’s not like we have a good handle on how he’d perform in the thick marine air of Seattle. At least, you’d think, he faced his fair share of elements kicking in New York, but we’ll see how good he is on the west coast.

Ultimately, this looks like an upgrade over 2018, which is really all I’m asking for out of this offseason. Improve at as many spots as possible, and let’s get this Wild Card team into a playoff BYE week situation!

***

In other news, Earl Thomas signed a 4-year, $55 million deal with the Baltimore Ravens. Obviously, this is good for him – as he gets considerably more than I would’ve given him, and more than the Seahawks were willing to fork over – and probably good for the Ravens. I’m just not a believer in the passing ability of Lamar Jackson, and don’t think they’re a viable Super Bowl contender with him being mostly a running back; but at least their defense is jacked. Maybe they can pull off a Trent Dilfer 2.0 thing, if indeed their D is dominant enough.

Pierre Desir found a home in Indianapolis recently, and this off-season they rewarded him with a 3-year extension. Pretty good for a guy who’s built in the Seahawks Cornerback mold, and a guy we discovered first. Look at the league getting fat off our sloppy seconds!

Mychal Kendricks looks like he’s coming back on a $4 million deal; that’s exciting! It’s, of course, contingent on him being able to play football and not wallowing in prison, so fingers crossed. If it works out, it’ll be a serious boost to our linebacker room.

A room that got a little fuller with the re-signing of K.J. Wright. This just came down the pike this morning. I have to believe it’s a low-guarantee deal with lots of incentives based on number of games played. In total, I can’t imagine the max value is all that high, but I guess we’ll see. I would think given his age, his recent injury history, and the market for outside non-pass-rusher linebackers, that there weren’t a TON of teams lining up for the Pro Bowler, regardless of how good he is in coverage.

I read that George Fant was given a 2nd round tender, which makes literally all the sense in the world. I read a blog somewhere that opined he wouldn’t be tendered at all, or if he was, it would be an original round (i.e. the lowest one, with no draft pick compensation, since he was undrafted), but that was asinine. If anything, I wondered if we’d place a 1st rounder on him, but this feels more appropriate. It’s win-win for the Seahawks. Either he stays, and our O-line depth gets a boost, or some team blows him away with a deal and gives us a 2nd round draft pick in compensation. Honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s what the Seahawks were angling for all along with this move. With three starting-calibre offensive tackles on the roster, you’d think we’d opt for the draft capital.

Finally, a little OOOOOLLLLLDDDDD Seahawks news: Brandon Mebane re-upped with the Chargers for two more years. As the oldest-drafted Seahawk (2007), he’s 34 years old and still going strong. Good for him! I’m glad to see some of these old timers still holding it down. Old.

Who Do The Seahawks Have On Roster Right Now Who Could Step Up In 2019?

Boy, is that ever a clunky mouthful of a title?

So, anyway, yesterday I wrote about where the Seahawks are lacking in star power. Today, we’ll take a look at who could potentially step into bigger, more impactful roles. Let’s face it, while the Seahawks can do a lot with the draft and free agency, it’s still a total motherfucking crapshoot, so it would be ideal for guys we have currently to step their games up and help fill some of these holes.

Shaquem Griffin

I’ll be honest with you, the inspiration for this post came from this ESPN article. I’ve been largely discounting Shaquem Griffin mostly due to his disasterous start back in Week 1 against the Broncos. I’ve also gotta say, I expected more of an impact on special teams out of the rookie linebacker. Maybe that’s unfair; maybe I built him up too big heading into the regular season (after a whirlwind period post-draft, through an exciting pre-season). Some guys just need a little bit more time to have everything click; maybe Year 2 is when we see his growth as a professional.

Or, maybe he’s more hype than substance. Maybe the Seahawks are playing him outside of his natural position due to his lack of size. Maybe his focus is being pulled in all these other directions outside of football and his heart isn’t totally in it. These aren’t things I question lightly, but they’re nagging concerns in the back of my mind that I feel like are on a lot of other people’s minds too, but no one is saying anything about it. Does he want to be a professional football player? Or, does he want to be an inspirational story to a lot of kids out there? That’s okay; I’m not blaming him if the NFL isn’t his bag.

The thing is, I believe in his talent; he just needs to put in the work and study his craft and he’ll be right there. He has the potential to fill K.J. Wright’s shoes ably. So, maybe now that everything has died down from a media perspective, he can just relax and focus on football and everything will be better in 2019. That’s MY hope. Because if he can take over that weakside linebacker spot, that’s a HUGE hole the Seahawks won’t have to worry about.

Tedric Thompson

There’s a big ol’ Earl Thomas-shaped hole in our secondary that needs filling. Of the three options, none seem realistic or all that enticing. The first option is to re-sign Thomas; but clearly the team has made it clear they don’t want to pay what he’s worth (I tend to agree, but I’ve been decidedly scared off by the third contract to Kam Chancellor). The second option is the draft; but I’m told this year’s draft lacks in quality safeties. On top of which, the team has precious few selections this year, and can ill-afford to use its first rounder on one of the few true elites, as we’ll need to trade down to build a bigger cache. The third option is free agency; but we’ve seen what happens when the Seahawks go dumpster diving for secondary players (see: Cary Williams).

It’s been my contention all along that safety is this team’s #1 need this off-season (even more than pass rush; come at me broseph). It’s also been my contention all along that the team never sees things the same way I do, and will almost certainly stick with what they’ve got (while maybe taking a flier on a late-round project to mold into the type of player they like). Bradley McDougald is a fine player, and I’m glad he’s here to fill in for some of the void. But, can he last a full season? He barely made it out alive in 2018, and his play dropped off considerably as he fought through nagging injuries. The point being: he’s not really a long-term solution.

If there’s a guy on the roster this very second who has a chance to take a step forward in his development, it’s Tedric Thompson. I know the bloom has come off the rose, since 2019 will be his third year in the pros. But, 2018 was really his first year as a starter; he stuck almost exclusively to special teams as a rookie. Now, obviously, the concern is that there’s little evidence of his play improving over the course of last season, but I don’t sit there and watch all the tape, so I’m not really one to judge. I’ve heard both good and bad things; he made a few plays, and he bungled a few plays.

More than anything, I guess I’m encouraged by what I heard about him heading into the 2018 season. His teammates seemed to be really high on him last summer, right before Earl Thomas returned to start in week 1. Maybe that rattled him a bit? Maybe it set him back? Obviously, you don’t want to just hand him the starting job, but if he heads into 2019 as the presumptive favorite, maybe that boost of confidence sends him to the next level. He’s got a lot of good experience, now it’s time to put it all together and hope things gel in Year 3. If so, that could be a real game-changer for this defense.

Tre Flowers

Talking about the bloom coming off the rose … Shaquill Griffin’s bloom is looking pretty wilty. Maybe, again, it’s a matter of too much expectation too soon; or maybe that switch from right cornerback to left is a huge deal that needs more than an offseason to perfect. As I say all the time, I’m no expert. But, I’ll tell you what my eyes tell me: they say that Tre Flowers looks ahead of where Shaquill Griffin was at this point in his career the previous year.

I’ll go a step further: I think Tre Flowers today might be better than Griffin, and I think he looks like a better fit for that left cornerback spot.

Now, the last thing you want to do is go and jerk everyone around. Moving Griffin from right to left to right again (saying nothing of where he ended up as a college player in his final year with UCF) is going to stunt his growth, so it’s probably better to see what he’s capable of with a little continuity. Nevertheless, I’ll be extremely interested in how Tre Flowers looks in his second season. If he does, indeed, surpass Griffin in ability, that could be another game-changer for this defense as it searches for playmakers in the secondary. This defense has proven time and again that it needs turnovers to truly thrive. So, let’s hope it comes from someone currently on this roster!

David Moore

While he’s technically an exclusive-rights free agent, for all intents and purposes, David Moore will be back on the Seahawks in 2019. It was hard not to be dazzled by his exciting plays in 2018. There were a number of big catches down field early in the season to not only have him on the local radar, but also had many fantasy gurus looking to him as a potential mid-season sleeper. Then, his numbers mysteriously faded down the stretch. It looked like Wilson lost confidence in him, as he relied on more veteran pass-catchers to come through in the clutch. In short, Jaron Brown stole David Moore’s chick.

2019 will be his third season, and wide receivers notoriously start their careers slow (especially in Seattle). I would expect, if he’s going to pop, now will be the time. The best part here is the team doesn’t really NEED him to be a true #1. Doug and Tyler are still firmly entrenched ahead of him. But, as a change of pace, or as a big body down field, Moore does fill a role in this offense. Coming up with more 50/50 balls and being a big endzone target will be his niche on this team. It’d be cool to see him earn that trust, so the team can divert resources away from this position.

Jamarco Jones

While his combine numbers precipitated his draft plummet, Jamarco Jones was reported to be a gamer in college, who shows out on tape more than in shorts amid cones. Unfortunately, his rookie season ended before it really began, so we never got a chance to see him compete with Ifedi for that starting right tackle spot. We’ll never really know how serious that competition would’ve been, but here we are, in the fourth year of Germain Ifedi’s rookie deal.

The team has between now and the start of the league year to activate the fifth-year option on Ifedi and it would reportedly be worth over $8 million. Given his overall play to date – as one of the lowest-rated tackles in the NFL – it seems highly unlikely that the Seahawks would go that route. However, you’ve gotta give him credit for MUCH improved play in 2018; it appears the switch to Mike Solari, with the addition of D.J. Fluker to his left, has worked wonders for Ifedi’s growth. As the fifth-year option is only guaranteed for injury, I won’t rule it out, as the team could still cut him without penalty before the start of the fifth year, if we decided to go in another direction. My gut says we won’t even risk it; if we wouldn’t use it on Bruce Irvin back in the day, I find it hard to believe we’d use it on a right tackle.

The team also faces the prospect of losing George Fant to free agency, depending on what sort of tender we choose to offer him. He could walk with zero compensation, which opens up a very legitimate spot on this team, when you figure how often we use a 6th lineman in a run-heavy offense. Maybe – assuming Jones fully recovers from his high-ankle sprain injury – he takes over that role (though I find it hard to believe he’ll see any sort of tight end routes like Fant routinely enjoyed), with the outside chance that he pushes Ifedi for the starting right tackle job (or, at the very least, making it clear the team has a replacement in place for 2020 and beyond).

I actually really like many of our O-Line prospects. Jones, of course, but also Jordan Simmons (who is another exclusive-rights free agent we should see again), and even Ethan Pocic (though I tend to prefer him as a possible center replacement for Britt, though I don’t think the cap situation works at this juncture). Ideally, the Seahawks run back the starting five from 2018 and we go to work. But, the younger guys have flashed potential and competency at spots over the last season, and could have bright futures in this league if they continue to develop.

Seahawks Death Week: The Free Agents

The Seahawks have a bunch of money opening up heading into 2019, which leads many to believe there’s going to be a feeding frenzy of free agents heading onto this team. However, there are guys on the Seahawks RIGHT NOW whose contracts are expiring, so that’s who we’re going to talk about today. Who should the Seahawks retain, and who should they let go?

The Big Names

Earl Thomas – There isn’t even a question; we can want Earl to come back until we’re blue in the face, but it ain’t happenin’. Even if HE wanted to come back, though, I don’t think it would be a good idea. I mean, yeah, he’s elite. When he’s healthy, he’s the best in the game. But, 2018 was his third consecutive season cut short due to injuries. It’s just not a smart investment. He needs to move on.

K.J. Wright – All year, I’ve been under the impression that 2018 would be the last we’d see of K.J. Wright, but towards the end you could’ve talked me into a 1-year, prove-it deal with a lot of incentives instead of guarantees. I still think I’d be okay with that, but let’s get real, that knee isn’t getting any healthier. He’s great when he’s on the field, but how many games can we count on him for? Also, how soon will his decline start? I’d put good money he’s not the same in 2019. I think he also needs to move on.

Frank Clark – Gotta keep him. I’m not gonna say you pay him whatever it takes – I wouldn’t give him Ndamukong Suh or Aaron Donald money – but pay him what he’s worth. If that makes him the second-highest cap figure on the team, so be it, because he’s worth it.

Sebastian Janikowski – He’s gotta go. If he hadn’t injured himself in the playoff game, you MAYBE could’ve talked me into another year. He wasn’t THAT bad in 2018; he wasn’t anywhere near as awful as Blair Walsh. I essentially got what I expected out of Janikowski; he’s not perfect and he never was. But, he’s steady. He made 48/51 extra points and 22/27 field goals (including 3/5 from 50+ which is pretty good). Was I turned off by that kickoff return he gave up, where he didn’t even try to touch the runner blowing past him? Yeah, but again, I know who this guy is. I know what to expect. But, that leg injury – combined with the fact that he already missed 2017 due to injury – just makes it untenable. If anything, bring him back in a kicking competition, but instead of having him as the lead dog like he was this season, make him the underdog and give the advantage to a younger guy. Or, shit, just draft a kicker in the 6th round and be done with it!

The Semi-Big Names

Dion Jordan – I like the idea. I like the idea of buying low on a super-stud athlete with a HUGE upside whose career was derailed by injuries and knuckleheadery. But, the dude just can’t stay on the field and even when he’s on the field it doesn’t seem like he makes much of an impact. Time to cut ties and give his spot to someone else.

D.J. Fluker & J.R. Sweezy – I’m lumping these two together because I want them both back! These guys were difference-makers for our offensive line (and therefore our entire offense). Now, obviously, they’re injury-prone, so you have to get some value for that. And you HAVE TO build in protections in case we have to cut and run after 2019. But, I wouldn’t mind giving both of these guys 3-year deals (that are really 2-year deals, but can easily be cut down to 1-year deals without a ton of dead money). Never change your contract structure, NFL! It’s the only thing keeping me sane!

Mike Davis – He made $1.35 million in 2018, which is right in the ballpark of what I don’t mind spending on a running back insurance policy. Anything significantly higher than $1.5 million is probably too much. He was a guy we just got off the street; I’m sure there are others just like him who will give us just as much. He’s not a priority, but I’d like him back at the right price.

Mychal Kendricks – I absolutely want him back! Give him K.J.’s spot if you have to! This guy is a difference-maker, and (God forbid) if Bobby were to go down, he’s a guy who can slide into the middle and allow our defense to not miss much of a beat. Given his 2018, you have to figure his value is pretty low. And, given our loyalty, you have to figure we have an inside shot if we present a good deal for him. This is a no-brainer.

Justin Coleman – He earned just a shade under $3 million in 2018, which is tremendous value. Considering this team really hasn’t developed anyone behind him to take over in that nickel role, I think the Seahawks have to do almost whatever it takes to extend him for another 3-4 years. Remember that old Jeremy Lane deal? Something like that would sit just fine with me.

Shamar Stephen – Ehh, no thanks. He was on a 1-year veteran deal and our rush defense was as bad as I’ve ever seen it! Isn’t that what he was brought in for? Wasn’t that his one selling point? I’m beginning to wonder if we didn’t get rid of the wrong ex-Viking defensive tackle; there’s no way Tom Johnson could’ve been worse, right?

Maurice Alexander – Why? Did he do ANYTHING this year? Maybe as camp fodder, but he’s not necessary.

Brett Hundley – Why did we trade a 2019 sixth round pick for this guy? NO! Go away Brett Hundley!

The Restricted Free Agents

I’m pretty sure these are the guys who you put a value on (first round, second round, or original round tender) and if some other team swoops in with a Godfather deal, you get either a first, second, or original round draft pick in the upcoming draft. So, let’s get to it! I’m not going to talk about all the guys, because I don’t KNOW all the guys, but I’ll throw a nod to the no-names at the end.

George Fant – Fant went undrafted, so you gotta tag him with either a first or second round value. A first rounder is a hair under $4.5 million; a second rounder is just over $3 million. I think the Seahawks should absolutely try to extend him, but failing that, I think you saddle him with a first round tender. The NFL is in desperate need of capable offensive linemen, and say what you will about the Seahawks, but they’ve developed A LOT of guys for other teams. Tender him and see what happens, but try to bring him back.

J.D. McKissic – He also went undrafted, but I don’t think I’m tendering him at all. He’s another dime-a-dozen guy at a dime-a-dozen position. He earned pennies in 2018, so if you want to bring him back for pennies, fine. But, it’s not necessary.

Tyler Ott – The ol’ long snapper! Don’t tender him, but yes try to bring him back.

Joey Hunt – An original round tender is interesting, because he was selected in the 6th round, and you could see someone else signing him to be their starting center. But, the risk there is that no one signs him, and his salary leaps from $630,000 to a little over $2 million. For a guy who might be 3rd on the depth chart at center, assuming Pocic is still in line to play behind Britt, that’s not money well spent. Forgetting the tender, I don’t think his services are really needed, but he’s not bad as camp fodder if no one else wants him.

Quinton Jefferson – Now, this is interesting, because I thought he took a step forward in 2018. Not huge; he’s not a guy you HAVE to have. But, considering he used to be a guy I thought of as a bust, it’s nice that he’s built up some value. He was originally a 5th round pick, and I would have no problem giving him an original round tender. I might even go as high as a 2nd rounder, though that feels like pushing it. I’d do that and give him another year to prove if he’s worth a longer-term deal.

Branden Jackson – He was a guy I had a lot of hopes for heading into 2018, but he finished the season as a healthy scratch most weeks. He went undrafted and doesn’t seem to be worth tendering. Another camp guy on a minimum deal at best.

Tre Madden – He’s a fullback, he’s not worth tendering. Minimum 1-year deal.

The Rest of the Restricted Free Agents – Kalan Reed (CB), T.J. Green (S). Who? Exactly.

I’m not going to get into the Exclusive Rights Free Agents, because there’s no risk. These guys are essentially ON the team, unless the team opts to not bring them back. Guys like Akeem King, David Moore, Austin Calitro, Jordan Simmons, and Shalom Luani should all be back.

Seahawks Death Week: What Did We Figure Out?

Heading into 2018, there were question marks across the board with the Seahawks. Could we develop a running game outside of Russell Wilson? Could we develop a pass rush? Would our secondary hold together? How would our new coordinators fit in? Could we develop enough young talent to push this team in the right direction for 2019 and beyond?

It felt like at least a 2-year project before we’d see the playoffs again, so to make it back in Year 1 feels like playing with house money at this point. So, let’s take a look at what went right, in no particular order:

Running Backs

In 2018, infamously the leading running back for this team was Russell Wilson with 586 yards. The next-closest back was Mike Davis with 240. The only player to run for a touchdown not named Russell Wilson was J.D. McKissic, who had 1 all year. So, you can understand why the Seahawks put so much into re-emphasizing this part of the game.

In 2019, Russell Wilson was 4th on this team in rushing yards, much more in line with where he SHOULD be. We used a first round draft pick – after trading down to acquire more picks – on Rashaad Penny, who had an underwhelming rookie season with only 419 yards (3rd on the team), but he also had the third-most attempts and actually led the group in yards per carry with 4.9. Penny didn’t come out of the gates guns blazing, as there was more of a learning curve for him as he adjusted to the NFL, but he did show flashes of brilliance and that big-play ability we brought him in here for. I don’t know if he’ll ever be a Pro Bowler, or just a nice role player, but his Sophomore campaign should tell quite a bit about where his pro career is headed.

Returning as this team’s #2 running back was Mike Davis, who showed his usual reliability and professionalism. This is a rock-solid #2 guy that I’d never have any qualms about making the occasional spot start for an injured player; he’s a huge upgrade over Robert Turbin, for instance. He ended up with 514 yards on a 4.6 average. It appears Davis will be a Free Agent next year, so hopefully we can bring him back at the right price. Though, I guess we’ll see; with the money we have in Penny, we might want to spend the minimum at a spot where there’s a 3-headed monster.

Chris Carson returned from an injury in 2018 and should really be in the running for Comeback Player of the Year. He led the Seahawks with 1,151 yards on a 4.7 yard average with a whopping 9 touchdowns. He’s the first 1,000-yard rusher for the Seahawks since Beastmode in 2014, and let me tell you, he looked A LOT like our future Ring of Honor stud. We were a different team with Carson on the field, as he bowled and jumped over opposing players with regularity.

Overall, I’d say the position is set for 2019, though it’ll be ultra-set if we bring back Davis.

Pass Rush

The Seahawks were tied for 13th in 2017 with 39.0 sacks (league-leading Pittsburgh had 56.0), which was okay, but obviously not great. We improved to being tied for 11th in 2018 with 43.0 sacks (league-leading Pittsburgh & Kansas City had 52.0) which is a step in the right direction, though we could always be better.

Frank Clark led the way with 14.0 sacks; he’s also set to be a free agent in 2019. The Seahawks are saying all the right things about bringing him back on a long-term extension, though they’re also looking to re-up Wilson and a few others, so they’ve got their work cut out for them. Regardless, the franchise tag is in our pocket, and Clark’s already on record as saying he’d welcome the challenge of playing on the tag, thereby having his value skyrocket if he stays healthy and performs as he did this year. He also could, theoretically, still improve, particularly with better pieces around him, so we may just be scratching the surface with him. Either way, this was a HUGE step forward for a guy a lot of people wondered about. I don’t know if I ever expected him to perform at this level, so it’s great to see!

Even more shocking was what Jarran Reed was able to do in his third season as an interior lineman. He went from 1.5 sacks in each of his first two years to a whopping 10.5 sacks in 2018, which is just an astronomical leap! That’s Cortez Kennedy-level ball-busting! He’s another guy this team needs to keep around for the long term.

After those two, it drops off considerably. The next-highest guy was Quinton Jefferson with 3, and he’s just a rotation guy at best. Rookie Jacob Martin also had 3 sacks, which is encouraging for a high-motor guy still developing his NFL body. It’ll be interesting to see what strides he’s able to make between Year 1 and Year 2.

Rasheem Green was the other highly-touted rookie who had only 1 sack this year, and often found himself as a healthy scratch by season’s end. He was always going to be something of a project, so it’s not surprising, but it is a little disappointing. He was never going to have as much opportunity as 2018, considering you have to figure the Seahawks are planning on pouring big money into the area for next year.

Overall, we’ve got two studs, one maybe, and a lot of filler. While this area was better than I expected heading into the year – as I expected this team to totally fall off the cliff – our stars stayed healthy and produced. Now, it’s just a matter of filling in with better talent around those stars.

Secondary

This was always going to be a challenge, with Kam essentially forced into retirement, with Earl holding out, then playing disgruntled, then being lost for the year to injury. And, of course, the Seahawks waived Richard Sherman, which pushed Shaquill Griffin over to his side of the field as the team’s primary cornerback. For all the grief I gave him about that playoff game, I thought Griffin was fine. At times he was a solid tackler, but he also appeared to be out of position every so often, and took bad angles on tackles. He also finished with only 2 interceptions, which is pretty weak for the team’s primary corner. He’s not going anywhere in 2019, so let’s hope he makes a major jump in his performance in Year 3.

The other cornerback spot appeared to change hands multiple times heading into the 2018 season. Byron Maxwell looked to have the inside track, but he came in injured and never made the team. Other veterans were vetted, but the job ended up in the hands of rookie Tre Flowers, who took it and ran with it. There were the expected growing pains, but he really picked it up over the second half of the season, and looks to be a solid cog in this secondary. He didn’t get any picks, but you have to figure those will come with experience.

With both of our starting safeties out, Bradley McDougald really held this whole thing together. He’s a solid veteran who was playing at a Pro Bowl level for a while, but appeared to break down by season’s end. With him, Tedric Thompson and Delano Hill got their chances to make their marks on this team in their second seasons, but both of them were pretty hit or miss. You have to think the experience was nothing but a positive for them, but they’ll still have to parlay it into 2019 and make significant jumps if they want to be here long term.

I have to think the Seahawks will be looking in the draft for another primo safety. While we’re not set yet, it’s good to see the secondary playing as well as they did this season. They might not have showed out with the turnovers as the L.O.B. did when they hit the scene, but they limited big plays and kept this team in ballgames, which is all you can ask for. I’d also like to see the team extend Justin Coleman long-term, as he’s still one of the better nickel corners in this league.

Tight End

Jimmy Graham was thankfully sent packing, and in his place the team actually improved. Who knew?

Oh yeah, we all knew.

Will Dissly made a HUGE impact in Week 1, then got hurt and was lost for the season. Considering he was the best blocking tight end in the draft last year, and with his offense being better than anticipated, he looks like he’ll be an awesome weapon next year, assuming he returns from injury okay.

Nick Vannett really stepped up in his absence, in his 3rd season in the NFL. He had career highs in receptions, yards, and touchdowns. They weren’t super-amazing or anything (29, 269, 3), but this team doesn’t NEED a Jimmy Graham-like tight end to be effective offensively. I am perfectly happy with those numbers from our 2016 third round draft pick.

Ed Dickson was a free agent signee, and he didn’t make a huge impact either – actually finishing with fewer yards than Dissly, thanks to his own injury issues to start the season – but he had some big plays here and there, and still chipped in 3 TDs of his own. Combined, the TE position had 8 touchdowns on the season (51 catches for 600 yards, if you count George Fant, which I absolutely do!), which is perfectly fine for what little resources we’ve pumped into the position. You don’t need superstars at tight end to have a winning offense.

Tight end is set, assuming Dissly is back to 100%.

Offensive Line

The O-Line was the biggest question mark heading into the season, and thankfully it eventually turned into one of this team’s biggest strengths. Duane Brown was a Second Team All Pro at left tackle, Justin Britt brought his usual solidness at the center position, and Germain Ifedi made a big leap in his third year to finally become a passable right tackle. There were some growing pains at the guard spots – arguably the most important spots on the entire O-Line for a team with a Russell Wilson at quarterback – but after the second game, when J.R. Sweezy took over on the left side and D.J. Fluker took over on the right, they finally morphed into a cohesive, solid unit.

The downside is both Sweezy and Fluker are free agents heading into 2019. They’re also getting up there in age, and seemingly always face a litany of injuries. While that should theoretically keep their costs down, it’s hard to ignore the strides this team made when both of them were healthy. As such, you have to figure they’re in store for raises over the $1.5 million each of them made in 2018.

Beyond those two, Ethan Pocic was a disaster. He started those first two games we lost (when couldn’t do a damn thing offensively), and every time he took the field late in the season, the offense took an immediate step back. I don’t know if he’s undersized, incompetent, or both, but he’s got A LOT of work to do if he’s aiming to return to the starting five. As a second round pick already in his second year, with plenty of experience under his belt already, this is NOT trending well.

Jordan Simmons, however, was a revelation when he stepped in for Fluker! He’s a big ol’ mauler in Fluker’s image, but his season ended prematurely with injury. Combine that with the fact that he spent most of his college career injured, and I don’t think he’s someone we can count on long term. As a fill-in, backup type guy, though, it’s nice to know he’s around.

Joey Hunt is heading into free agency; he’s not someone I’d mind if we kept around or not. He looks undersized, and at this point Pocic might only be able to salvage his career if he backs up Britt at center, so Hunt is probably a luxury this team doesn’t need. He could still develop into a quality starter somewhere, but probably not here.

Finally, the aforementioned George Fant had quite a bit of playing time. He was often a sixth lineman this team implemented when we wanted to pound the rock, and once in a while found himself running routes (with his lone catch being a highlight of the season). He filled in for Ifedi late in the year – with Ifedi sliding over to guard for an injured Fluker – and that didn’t go so great. But, I would still expect him back, as I can’t imagine there’s going to be a huge bidding war for Fant.

Conclusion

With an elite quarterback, an elite middle linebacker, two elite wide receivers, and some nice pieces noted above, this is a team that’s heading in the right direction for another playoff run in 2019. How they spend their money in free agency will ultimately determine if this team’s going to contend for a division title. There are still quite a bit of holes left to fill, so it should be interesting.

Not Winners & Losers Of The Seahawks’ Game At The Rams

Aside from falling short at the end, that’s as good as I had any right to expect this game to go.  The Seahawks ran the ball – without Chris Carson, without D.J. Fluker (who I thought was the bigger of the two injury inactives for this team, considering the opponent) – better than they have all year, 273 yards on 34 carries; they kept the game close all day, and in the end they got the ball back with around 90 seconds, one touchdown away from winning it outright.  On top of which, the Seahawks drove to the Rams’ 35 yard line with just under a minute to go before the drive stalled.  It was all right there, and we just couldn’t punch it in.  Again, I take no solace from a moral victory; yes, it shows the Seahawks are on the right track and closer to returning to their championship window than we thought, but there’s still a huge talent discrepancy between us and the elite teams in the NFL.  In other words, there’s a lot of work left to do.  This isn’t a reincarnation of the 2012 Seahawks so much as the 2011 variety:  that team that went 7-9, had some remarkable victories, but ultimately fell short of their goal to make the playoffs (even if that goal looked insane heading into the season).  The 2018 Seahawks aren’t QUITE what we thought they were, but they’re also going nowhere, very, very slowly.

What I’m Geeked Out About After Nine Games

I got a two-fer, and they’re both rushing related.  First and foremost, WELCOME TO SEATTLE RASHAAD PENNY!  He’s had opportunities at times this season, but until yesterday had failed to take advantage of them.  Well, this was his coming out party.  108 yards on 12 carries with a TD.  He looked smooth, he looked explosive, and he took advantage of some really solid run blocking from our offensive line.  Kudos all around to those five (sometimes, with Fant, six) guys for punishing the Rams once again.  In two games this year, against that stout front, the Seahawks ran for 463 yards on 66 carries, for a 7.02 yards per carry average!  Outstanding!

Of course, not for nothing, but those fuckfaces only seem to get it up for rushing the passer on third down, so maybe they need to get their priorities together if they have any aspirations of winning a Super Bowl, but that’s neither here nor there.

My other prong in this section goes to Russell Wilson.  Sure, he threw 3 more touchdowns, on 17/26 for 176; but he also ran the ball like he hasn’t all year!  92 yards on 9 carries, which was the most he’s had in a single game since November 2014 (and tied for the 5th most in a game in his professional career).  I know he always just takes what the defense gives him, but I thought he took advantage of a few keeps that both moved the chains and opened up some future holes for our backs.

Now, if only he’d pulled it down and ran with it on that final play of the game …

Other Things That Caught My Eye (In A Good Way)

It’s pretty much time to shift expectations a little bit going forward (and, even moreso, assuming we lose to the Packers this Thursday).  While it’s okay to hold out hope for a wild card berth (even moreso, assuming we beat the Packers this Thursday), I’m looking to focus more on positive elements for the future.

For instance, when you see the Seahawks giving up 36 points to the Rams, my go-to emotion is to say, “The defense deserves zero praise whatsoever, full stop!”  But, that’s just not logical.  While it’s distressing to see the Rams move the ball with such ease, quite frankly they’re the Rams.  This is what they do.  And, given the limitations we’re working with on that side of the ball, it’s commendable that we were able to limit them in the ways we did.

Kudos, for instance, on stopping them with less than 2 minutes to go, to give our offense a chance to win it!  If you offered me this scenario heading into the game – considering I was predicting a double-digit blowout – I would’ve accepted it in a heartbeat!  I almost always think Russell Wilson is going to lead us to victory in the closing seconds of the game, so why wouldn’t that be something to hope for?

I thought Bobby Wagner had a whale of a game.  I thought Jarran Reed and Frank Clark played their asses off.  Quinton Jefferson looked like a load all day.  Jacob Martin flashed at times.  Sure, there were breakdowns here and there, but the Rams’ scheme often creates these types of breakdowns.  The fact of the matter is, there’s a lot to like, even on a day where we gave up 456 yards.  I mean, shit, the Rams are supposed to have this great “championship defense” with the best defensive coordinator in the game (taking advantage of their star quarterback on a rookie deal, by signing and trading for all these high-priced studs on defense, a la the Seahawks in 2013) and they gave up 414 yards to us, on top of a litany of penalty yardage!  We’re at least doing as well as they are, with A LOT LESS.  Something to think about, before you resume killing our defense.

Also, kudos to Mike Davis for being a boss.  Kudos to Lockett for yet another touchdown.  Kudos to Doug Baldwin and Ed Dickson for big catches.  Kudos to Michael Dickson for some FANTASTIC punting!

Let’s Talk About Competitions

Bradley McDougald was one of our injury concerns heading into this game, but he ended up making the start.  He did okay, but the coaches rightly split time between him and Delano Hill.  I don’t know if Hill is totally safe as a future starter, but he’s been looking better these last couple weeks.  Not the total disaster he was in the pre-season and earlier this year.  He’s making strides, that’s all you can ask.  I still think this team needs to make safety a priority in the 2019 draft, if for nothing else than to boost our competition.

We’re also gonna need to move on from K.J. Wright I think, when this year is over.  I wouldn’t mind seeing Shaquem Griffin get some looks.  He’s definitely started to flash on Special Teams lately, which is cool to see (also shout-out to Akeem King, who is straight balling out there on Teams; that was a nasty head-to-head deal between the two, though); I hope Griffin is making strides in practice at least, in the base defense.  I’m curious to see how he grows going forward.

Other Things That Caught My Eye (In A Bad Way)

I was extremely disappointed in Duane Brown for giving up that strip sack to Dante Fowler yesterday, which set up the Rams’ game-winning score.  I mean, come on.  You’re a Pro Bowl left tackle going up against a draft bust; I get that sometimes even the all-time greats get beat, but you CANNOT get beat in that situation!  Not with the game on the line, that late in the contest, to a fucking nobody!  What are we PAYING you for, if not to stand tall in that exact scenario?!

Also, just … The Legion Of Boom, these guys are not.  Sure, the Rams are an elite offensive unit, and they scheme you to death, but I’m not seeing a ton of progress out of our secondary this year, and that’s going to be a problem going forward.  Now, of course, maybe they’ll look better once we find a pass rush (next year, hopefully).  But, maybe they’ll always be an Achilles heel (no pun intended, Richard Sherman) and we’re going to have to play these types of games against good offenses.

I hear a lot of Seahawks fans complaining about CenturyLink not being as loud as it was in its heyday; well, fans feed off of defense.  It’s hard to get up for this mediocrity we’re watching this year.  Where are the big plays?  Where are the sacks and interceptions and forced fumbles?  Where are the stops on third down?  An elite defense trumps an elite offense 10 times out of 10.  Without that, yeah, expect the home crowds to be a little more indifferent than they once were (though, to be fair, I’m not a regular attendee to the games, but it was VERY loud in my opinion, the game I went to last week, as I had to regularly plug my ears to deal with all the screaming).

Finally, let’s not waste snaps handing the ball to C.J. Prosise, huh?  He’s done.  Let’s move on already.