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.

Not Winners & Losers Of The Seahawks’ Game In Detroit

The Seahawks went into Detroit and did their thing.  The Lions scored an early TD to go up 7, but Seattle took over from there, ultimately winning 28-14.  Things could’ve gotten hairy there towards the end – especially after a bullshit pass-interference call that put the Lions in the red zone with a chance to bring the game to within 1 score with time left to get the ball back – but Justin Coleman jumped a route to snag an interception.  And Michael Dickson ran what was supposed to be a safety out of the back of the endzone 9 yards for an unlikely first down to salt the game away.  To the premise!

What I’m Geeked Out About After Seven Games

It’s like deciding who my best child is.  Or my favorite Halloween candy!  Twix?  Kit Kat?  Snickers?  Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups?  Mounds?  Skittles?  The red/pink Starburst only?  Reese’s Fast Break?  Whatchamacallit?  Do they even have that one in Fun Size?  Milky Way?  Peanut M&M’s?  I LOVE ALL MY BABIES AND NOW I ALSO HAVE DIABETES!

Look, I’m just gonna be selfish here.  As you’ll no doubt read about later this week – because you know you love reading about me and my fantasy team troubles – I was able to pick up Chris Carson in a week where Ezekiel Elliott was on a BYE, and he single-handedly won me a fantasy football game.  You’ll see who I was gonna pick up if I didn’t get Carson and suffice it to say it was a 20-point swing in an 11-point win.

Carson ran for 105 yards on 25 carries, as he was this team’s unquestioned #1 running back.  More importantly, he scored a touchdown and was in on most goalline and red zone plays.  This is huge, not just for my fantasy team.  Mike Davis is a serviceable and perfectly fine #2 running back.  If the Seahawks needed to start him next week, I’d be comfortable with him getting 20 carries.  He definitely also strikes me as a guy who gets better as the game goes along (and therefore requires a number of touches before he starts to get going).  Chris Carson is just a BEAST tho.  He’s faster than every other back on this team, he’s stronger than every other back on this team, he’s more elusive, he’s harder to bring down … you get the idea.  Make a list of all the attributes you want out of a running back, and he’s at the top of every one!

Not only that, but if you compared him to the rest of the #1 running backs around the league, and I would argue he compares VERY favorably!  He and everyone else are behind Todd Gurley by a comfortable margin, but in that second tier, I’d say Carson is right there … in raw ability and talent with the football.  Now, he still has to stay healthy and prove it over a longer sample size.  But, as for just the Eye Test?  He passes with flying colors.

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

Give me Russell or give me death!  Do you want to see a football player’s stats?  14/17, 248 yards, 3 TDs, 0 INTs, 14.6 yards per attempt, 158.3 passer rating and 98.9 QBR.  In the leadup to this game, I talked about how he needed to have an efficient game, and that while they don’t give up a ton of yards, the Lions are among the worst teams in opponent’s passer rating.  Lo and behold, Wilson had a PERFECT passer rating!

How about that Ed Dickson?  I never thought I’d say we missed him, and if Dissly hadn’t gone down for the year, I might’ve even argued to cut Dickson before he returned from the PUP list.  But, he was back this week, and he hauled in a couple of VERY impressive catches.  One for 42 yards (on a play-action on third & short where the Lions totally bought into a run and left him wide open) and one for a contested touchdown in the back of the endzone.  I mean, I couldn’t even tell you what he did in a blocking capacity, but his first game in a Seahawks uniform is already my favorite over every other game Jimmy Graham ever had here!  Ed Dickson is such an upgrade it’s not even funny!

David Moore had 4 for 97 and a TD, Lockett had 2 for 34 and a TD, Baldwin had 2 for 26, even Vannett had a nifty catch for 16 yards.

Defensively, there were a lot of stars.  Frank Clark with a sack and a fumble recovery.  Shamar Stephen with another sack.  Some good pressure from Dion Jordan and Jacob Martin and Jarran Reed.

It was also good to see K.J. Wright back, who had a nice game.

Let’s Talk About Competitions

It’s pretty clear who’s stepped up and who’s gone by the wayside.  No Penny in this one.  Not much out of Brandon Marshall or Jaron Brown.  I want to say Mingo’s playing time is greatly reduced with the return of Wright.  Naz Jones was once again a healthy scratch.

Also interesting:  George Fant’s conversion to 4th string tight end.  Or, shit, is he 3rd string at this point?  He was on the field a ton as a de-facto 6th offensive lineman, but he was also lined up out wide seemingly just as much as he was on the line!  He’s even running routes out there a little bit!  I can’t imagine he has great hands, but what if he did?  What if Wilson actually threw him the ball?  Wouldn’t that be wild?

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

Not a lot, to be honest.  Tedric Thompson had a couple shoddy plays, but also forced a fumble on that kickoff.  I didn’t like seeing Bradley McDougald leave the game with what appeared to be an injury, but I guess he was just sick so that’s okay.  He might be the most important player on this defense at this point, with no Earl, and with the way he’s been playing at a super-high level this year.  The dropoff from him to Delano Hill is pretty steep, so never leave us Bradley!

There still isn’t a ton of pass rush to write home about, but there’s some, and with the way our back-end is playing, “some” might be “just enough”.

The gauntlet rolls on with a game against the Chargers.  6 of our last 9 games are at home, so giddyup 12’s!

Not Winners & Losers Of The Seahawks’ Final Pre-Season Game 2018

If this WAS a “Winners & Losers” post, I’d probably have to say that the Oakland Raiders were the “winners” and the Seattle Seahawks were the “losers”.  Is that how it works?  Am I doing this right?

A meaningless end to a meaningless pre-season took place last night.  The Seahawks did indeed lose to the Raiders, 30-19.  EJ Manuel carved up our defense like a freshly roasted turkey.  Some guy named Keon Hatcher (who I can only assume will be jobless by the end of this sentence) caught 8 balls for 128 yards and 3 touchdowns.  None of the starters really played, except for Ifedi I guess, who I think maybe tweaked an ankle or something?  I dunno, he should be fine though.  On with the premise!

What I’m Geeked Out About After Four Meaningless Pre-Season Games

I guess what I’m most geeked out about is that Russell Wilson didn’t play a single snap.  Chris Carson had just two carries.  By and large, our most important starters played either no snaps or very few snaps.  Can’t ask for anything more out of a fourth pre-season game.

I’m geeked out about never having to see Austin Davis ever again!  While he did have a pretty nifty 81-yard TD pass to Damore’ea Stringfellow, that was pretty much it, as he continuously failed to drive this team against a pretty fucking mediocre Raiders defense (also missing most of its regular starters).  Davis did end up throwing for 194 yards while playing the entire first half, so maybe that’ll be good enough to sucker some other team into picking him up.

If I had to pick a couple things that I’m actually geeked out about, I’d start with the offensive line.  There were mistakes aplenty early (a couple back-to-back holding penalties took Isaiah Battle out of the game for a while), but even though we put mostly reserves out there, I thought they showed some real improvement over what we saw in the first three weeks.  We ended up running for 131 yards on 26 carries (with Mike Davis running 9 times for 45 yards and a TD; he’s a good little slashing runner, I gotta say).

The other thing is I thought Shaquem Griffin looked really good.  He played a lot of snaps last night – as he prepares to start in Denver in Week 1 in place of the injured K.J. Wright – and he was just a Tasmanian Devil of destruction!  Stuffing guys in holes, preventing open-field runners from getting first downs; he led the team with 8 tackles and he certainly could’ve had more than that if he played the entire game.

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

Stringfellow obviously had a strong game, with 2 catches, 90 yards, and a TD.  I don’t think it was enough to get him a job on the 53-man roster, but I’m willing to bet the team would have him back on the Practice Squad.  However, given the way he’s played, it wouldn’t shock me in the least to see another team snap him up for their 53-man.  I’m sure the Broncos could always use another receiver …

I thought Alex McGough had an okay game and continues to make progress.  He had the actual pass of the game though.  I know that 81-yarder from Davis was impressive and all, but really he just hit a receiver in stride, and just over the outstretched arms of a lone defender.  McGough, on the other hand, was running for his life to the right, and chucked it on a dime 52 yards down field to Malik Turner for what appeared to be a go-ahead TD.  Unfortunately, Turner had to awkwardly position himself to catch the ball and get into the endzone, and in the process failed to get his second foot in bounds, but GOD DAMN was that an impressive throw!

Let’s Talk About Competitions

I want to get this in here now, while I’m talking about the backup QBs.  While I think it’s more than reasonable to bring in Brett Hundley – who has been around a while, who has starting experience (in a playoff atmosphere, I might add, as the Packers were hunting down a wild card spot to the bitter end last year), and who has a game that somewhat resembles Russell Wilson’s – I do like the makeup of McGough an awful lot, and I think he’s someone who will develop into a viable backup quarterback one day (and, who knows, if things break right, maybe even a starter somewhere).

That having been said, McGough ain’t there yet.  He’s still VERY raw and has a lot of seasoning to accrue.  I still hope like the dickens that the Seahawks can sneak him onto the practice squad.

As for that right tackle competition, I think Ifedi was able to hold down his job.  Sounded like Fant was flip-flopping back and forth from right to left tackle, so that tells me he’s going to be this team’s backup at both positions (hell, they even had Joey Hunt playing right tackle late in the game, to give someone else a chance to play center).

I don’t know about the wide receivers, as really Stringfellow was the only one who stood out, and I don’t think he’s done enough this pre-season to warrant keeping on the 53-man roster.  This feels like a position group the team has already made up its mind on.

Finally, as for the cornerback spot opposite Shaquill Griffin … your guess is as good as mine.  Looks like an endless black hole of misery to me, but what do I know?

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

Uhh, let’s see.  Janikowski missing TWO extra points!

Michael Dickson punted a ball INTO THE ENDZONE!

The defense (regardless of whether or not the starters played) let EJ Fucking Manuel throw for 255 yards (on 18/22 passing) with a rating of 154.5!

The utter lack of turnovers once again!

The terrible decisions to return some of those kickoffs out of the endzone!

The PENALTIES!

I could go on and on.  This was a sloppy, miserable game, befitting of a 4th pre-season game.  Why the NFL still has 4 of these every year, I’ll never know.

I’ll say this:  the depth is a joke on this team.  It’s going to be LEAN TIMES if a lot of important Seahawks get injured this year.  But, that shouldn’t be a problem, right?  It’s not like this team has seen players dropping like a fucking leprosy patient loses limbs for the last three years or so.

Oh.

Wait.

My Way-Too-Late Seahawks 53-Man Roster Prediction

What is this, a day before the final pre-season game?  Yeah, let’s go out there on that limb and predict the 53-man roster for the Seahawks.

Quarterbacks

  • Russell Wilson
  • Alex McGough
  • Brett Hundley

Obviously we all know the starter here.  My gut tells me that the actual backup QB will be Austin Davis, but I’m gonna go with what my eyes have seen.  They’ve seen a guy in Davis who has done absolutely nothing through three pre-season games, while they’ve seen a guy in McGough who has steadily improved every time he’s gone out there.  Now, it hasn’t translated into wins, but that’s neither here nor there.  I think you can waive Davis and he’ll just be sitting out there collecting dust.  With McGough, you can PROBABLY get him onto your practice squad, but that also risks him to other teams’ practice squads as well (particularly if they have less certain QB situations).  I’d rather go with the guy who can be a viable long-term solution to the backup QB spot (with potential to be trade bait if/when we get to his 4th season).

I guess forget all that, because the Seahawks just traded for Hundley.  SOMEONE GOT CAUGHT PRE-WRITING A 53-MAN ROSTER PREDICTION POST!

Running Backs

  • Chris Carson
  • Rashaad Penny
  • C.J. Prosise
  • Mike Davis
  • Tre Madden

I just can’t see the team holding onto someone like McKissic who could be out for up to a month.  They could IR him, but that seems like a waste.  I honestly think they just cut him and try to re-sign him when he’s healthy, or at least on the way.  But, with concerns about Penny and Prosise, I find it hard to believe they’re keeping McKissic over Davis, and I find it hard to believe they’re keeping a 6th RB when they have plenty of guys on this team who can return kicks in a pinch (should Lockett go down).  McKissic isn’t someone you HAVE to have, especially considering he’s pretty undersized too and as such will come with his own injury concerns going forward.

Wide Receivers

  • Doug Baldwin
  • Tyler Lockett
  • Jaron Brown
  • Brandon Marshall
  • David Moore
  • Marcus Johnson

I don’t think Darboh is a guy you have to keep either.  Honestly, I don’t see why you couldn’t sneak him onto the practice squad; what has he ever done in his 1+ years that makes him attractive to other teams?  No loss, in my book, if he does go somewhere else; David Moore will be a better pro, so it’s all good.  I like Johnson’s potential on special teams and as a deep threat should Lockett get injured.  I like Marshall to be that red zone, Jimmy Graham-type target (I also like Marshall to be more effective between the 20’s; I just like Marshall a lot).

Tight Ends

  • Nick Vannett
  • Will Dissly
  • Tyrone Swoopes

I think Ed Dickson stays on the PUP.  Part of me wonders if he’ll get cut entirely, but that seems far less likely given his contract.  But, that injury appears to be legit enough to hold him out for 6 more weeks.  Also, I have a feeling the team would much rather go after some other team’s cut tight end, so if Dickson does remain on the PUP, Swoopes is no guarantee.

Offensive Line

  • Duane Brown
  • Ethan Pocic
  • Justin Britt
  • D.J. Fluker
  • Germain Ifedi
  • George Fant
  • Jordan Roos
  • Isaiah Battle
  • Rees Odhiambo

I think Jamarco Jones goes on IR.  I think Sweezy gets cut because he just can’t get healthy and stay on the field.  I think the team would be fine with Pocic at center if Britt goes down (so there’s no point in keeping Hunt).  And, ultimately I think Ifedi keeps his job as the team’s right tackle to start the season, but it’s no guarantee he starts all 16 games even if he stays healthy.

Defensive Line

  • Frank Clark
  • Rasheem Green
  • Branden Jackson
  • Jacob Martin
  • Quinton Jefferson
  • Tom Johnson
  • Jarran Reed
  • Naz Jones
  • Shamar Stephen
  • Poona Ford

For the record, I think it’s a longshot that this team actually keeps Poona Ford, but I like him and I want to see him make this team.  I also think it would speak volumes about this team wanting to actually stop the run like they always say they want to.  And, I think there could be a surprise cut from these 10; someone who has looked really good this pre-season, but maybe for whatever reason the coaches think is expendable (Quinton Jefferson or Shamar Stephen come to mind).  I also think Dion Jordan starts the year on PUP.

Linebackers

  • Bobby Wagner
  • K.J. Wright
  • Barkevious Mingo
  • Shaquem Griffin
  • Erik Walden

I’m probably least confident in my prediction of this group, all things considered.  Especially if K.J. Wright’s knee issue is worse than they’re letting on, it might force them to keep an extra linebacker, which would surely take away from the DL group.  D.J. Alexander is obviously a name to watch, as he’s a huge special teams guy.  And, I’d say Austin Calitro has earned an opportunity to be a backup to Bobby.  If any of my picks is NOT likely to make the team, I’d look at Walden (though I think as strictly a pass rusher, the team probably NEEDS him the most, and should look to shift him to that LEO end spot that Chris Clemons and Cliff Avril played).

Cornerbacks

  • Shaquill Griffin
  • Justin Coleman
  • Tre Flowers
  • Dontae Johnson
  • Neiko Thorpe
  • Byron Maxwell

I am less certain by the day that Byron Maxwell actually makes this team.  Now, that having been said, if you’re okay with anyone missing the entire pre-season and coming in to start day 1, I’d probably be most okay with that person being Maxy, but nevertheless it’s not a good sign.  That having been said, I don’t think anyone on this roster has set himself apart to steal that job from the trusty veteran (Akeem King might be closest, but he’s no sure thing).  I guess a lot of it depends on whether or not the Seahawks keep 5 safeties or only 4.

Safeties

  • Bradley McDougald
  • Tedric Thompson
  • Delano Hill
  • Maurice Alexander

Obviously, Kam goes on IR here, and Earl maintains his holdout well into the regular season.  I just don’t see a whole lot of reason to keep a fifth safety unless he’s a huge special teams guy, and I think you’ve already got Neiko to play that role.  If there is a fifth guy, I guess it’s Mike Tyson, but I don’t see this team bending over backwards to keep him on the roster.  He’s always struck me as just a guy.  He’s certainly not someone you’d have to keep over someone like Maxwell.

Not Winners & Losers Of The Seahawks’ Third Pre-Season Game 2018

On Friday, the Seahawks played their all-important third pre-season game.  The official tune-up to the regular season, where the starters play into the third quarter, and we all set this up to be a preview of what the games will look like when they start to count (while keeping in mind that it’s still the pre-season, and as such things aren’t going 100 miles per hour like they will be in two weeks).  The Seahawks had a fancy matchup in Minnesota against one of the elites of the NFC, so this test was particularly enticing.  The starters left the game with a 13-6 lead, however 4th quarter shenanigans resulted in the Vikings winning 21-20 as the backup defense couldn’t stop a come-from-behind touchdown/2-point conversion in the closing minutes.

What I’m Geeked Out About After Three Meaningless Pre-Season Games

So, go ahead and put me in the train conductor’s seat of the Chris Carson Bandwagon Express, because I am FULL SPEED AHEAD on this guy!  You have no idea how high I am on this kid; I think he’s absolutely going to kill it (if he stays healthy).  I’m 2 for 2 in fantasy leagues drafting this kid; in one league, he was a steal because outside of Seattle (this was a random standard league I joined for practice) no one is expecting him to be anything, so if you’re in a league full of non-Seahawks fans, you can sit on him and get him for a song.  In my other league, though, I took him with the first pick in the fifth round which … is maybe three rounds too early?  Maybe five rounds?  I dunno.  All I know is he was a REACH, and I was suckered into taking him that early because my brother was in the room and kept telling me he was going to be his next pick.

Here’s the thing though (I should really be saving this for my fantasy column later this week, but whatever), by the time you get to the 5th round of any fantasy draft, all the elite running backs are gone.  So, you’re sifting through promising rookies, running back committees, injury concerns, and handcuffs.  Here’s the bottom line:  of all the running backs who were taken after I went after Carson – in order through the end of the 6th round, they were Jordan Howard, Jerick McKinnon, LeSean McCoy, Joe Mixon, Alex Collins, Derrick Henry, Jay Ajayi, and Lamar Miller – I believe Carson will be better from a fantasy perspective than ALL of those guys.  He’s earned the starting job out of the pre-season – thanks in part to Penny’s finger injury, but mostly due to his utter dominance – and I think he’ll run away with it in the regular season.

It’s my firm belief that Chris Carson will be the Beastmode replacement we’ve all been waiting for, and I’m willing to risk my fantasy football happiness on it.

Also, this needs to be in the geeked out category, because OH MY GOD MICHAEL DICKSON IS MY NEW FAVORITE HUMAN!!!  Just, watch all his punts again, over and over, on a loop, forever in my dreams.

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

The offensive line was absolutely spectacular.  This week, George Fant moved from left to right to start pushing Germain Ifedi, and Ifedi responded with – I want to say – his greatest game as a professional.  I don’t know who is going to come away with the starting job in week 1, but the line as a whole will be a lot better just having Fant competing for that spot.  He’s easily the 6th best lineman on this team – if not the 5th – so it’s much more important getting him work on the right side, rather than exclusively backing up Duane Brown.

Brandon Marshall had his best game as a Seahawk, catching all 3 balls thrown his way, including a nifty 20-yard pass where he boxed the defender out and went up high to snag it.  He easily looks like the best veteran re-tread we’ve brought in here, and should be the first one to actually make the team.

David Moore keeps looking better and better every time I see him.  He caught a 36-yard TD pass from McGough in the second half on 3rd down, and he brought a punt back to the house (that was called back for the world’s most bogus holding penalty you’ve ever seen).

The defense was still a little shaky, but the run defense returned to form, holding the Vikings to 58 yards on 24 carries.  That’s going to be huge for this team.

Let’s Talk About Competitions

It’s far too early to call the Ifedi vs. Fant matchup, but I saw Fant get a shot with the #1 offense starting with the third drive of the game, so it’s legit.  Honestly, I think they both looked pretty good – and I was really focused on Fant when he went in there – so it very well might come down to this week’s practices and this game coming up on Thursday against the Raiders.  All Ifedi has to do is hold his own and I think he has the edge.  But, if he slips up and reverts back to his crappy ways, Fant could easily slide in there and steal the job.

Boy, do I need to not see Austin Davis as this team’s backup QB.  I think we will, just because what team is going to stuff McGough on its 53-man roster as a 7th rounder who’s looked okay, but is still a real project?  The Seahawks should have no trouble whatsoever sneaking McGough onto the Practice Squad.  That having been said, Davis is a disaster.  He was 2/3 for -1 yard on his 2 drives (both 3 & Outs).  Considering he was 1/3 for 6 yards against the Chargers on his 2 drives in that game, and a mighty 4/5 for 51 yards and a mind-boggling interception in the endzone against the Colts (across, again, 2 drives), and you have to ask:  what has Davis done to earn a job?  He hasn’t even looked COMPETENT, let alone good!  I’d rather roll the dice with a playmaker in McGough at this point.  He could struggle, sure, but his upside is off the charts compared to Davis.  Plus, if we’re risking our season’s chances on anyone outside of Russell Wilson, then the season is already a lost cause as it is, so might as well give the youngster some experience.

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

I thought Russell Wilson just looked sort of okay.  He had all day to throw, but somehow was only 11/21 for 118 yards.  I suppose some of that is on Minnesota’s defense, as they have one of the best in all of football.  I nevertheless have to believe that if we had Wilson finish this game, we would’ve won it.

The talk of this game has to be what the Vikings did on 3rd & 4th down, as they converted 13 of 22 combined.  I’ve been harping on that endlessly as the main key to this Seahawks’ season, and it’s not going away any time soon.  The Seahawks tend to get much better pressure on 1st & 2nd downs, with key blitzes getting to the quarterback; then, on 3rd down, we go super vanilla, the QB has all day to throw, and he picks us apart.  Time and time again!  It’s like we rely on the QB making a mistake, vs. actually forcing him INTO one.  What I’m trying to say is, maybe we should start blitzing more on 3rd down and getting the fuck off the field!

That having been said, we were a lot better after the first quarter, when they had the ball for all but a couple minutes.  But, that brings us to our other main problem on defense:  not forcing turnovers.

No picks.  One fumble that bounced Minnesota’s way.  That’s a week after the Chargers played a clean game.  We have 1 fumble recovery (against the Colts) in three games.  If that holds through the regular season (1 turnover every 3 games), we’re in trouble.

Finally, zero sacks on Kirk Cousins.  Like I said before, some blitzes got home, but nothing that did any damage.  Part of stopping teams on drives is getting to the QB when you’re using just a 4-man rush, and the Seahawks couldn’t hack it.

This week, the most meaningless of all pre-season games (except for those guys a the back-end of the roster).  We won’t have Tanner McEvoy to kick around anymore, as he was rightfully cut for being no good, so the WR picture gets a little more clear.

Not Winners & Losers Of The Seahawks’ Second Pre-Season Game 2018

The Seahawks had the rare Saturday night pre-season game over the weekend, a 24-14 loss to the Chargers down in Los Angeles.  We saw our starters through the entire first half, watching many a promising drive end in futility, with a late comeback attempt for naught.  The only injury was to D.J. Fluker’s finger, which is a good sign.  Without further ado, let’s get into it.

What I’m Geeked Out About After Two Meaningless Pre-Season Games

Russell Wilson and Chris Carson look absolutely phenomenal.  Unfortunately, due to mistakes around them, we haven’t seen the fruits of their labor translating into a ton of touchdowns, but words can’t express how excited I’ll be when we finally get to see full games out of these guys.  This offense has the potential to really be something, and a lot of that production is going to fall to these two guys.

I think the receiving corps is in good shape.  We haven’t even seen Doug Baldwin yet, and as long as his injury isn’t worse than expected, we’ll get him back for the regular season (you know, when the games actually matter).  Tyler Lockett was given this game off, but he looks fast and ready to break out this year.  The real question marks come when you look beyond our top two guys, and it’s there that I’m really happy.  Jaron Brown had a couple of really nice catches for 74 yards, and David Moore had a couple of his own, for 71 yards.  With Brandon Marshall drawing the attention he draws (and as a weapon in the red zone), I think these five guys should all make the opening day roster, and I think they should all prove to be pretty productive (Moore in particular, as his role could expand even further after this season, if Lockett signs elsewhere).

Also, how do you not freak the fuck out about Rasheem Green?  One week after he netted 1.5 sacks and a tackle for loss against the Colts, he came back with 1.5 sacks and 2 tackles for loss against the Chargers!  Requisite grain of salt and all that, this is a guy who without question can play in this league and be productive for this team right out of the gate.  Never a better sight for these sore eyes have I seen in quite some time.

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

Quinton Jefferson looks like the real deal (and just in the knick of time, too).  He might never be a Pro Bowler, but just being a viable member of a D-Line rotation is all I’m looking for.

Naz Jones, however, may indeed one day be a Pro Bowler!  He needs to stay healthy first, and if he does, watch out NFL!  He could be one of the surprises of this season.

C.J. Prosise wasn’t especially effective, but he played most of the second half of this game and didn’t have to leave due to injury.  That’s something!  Now, we don’t know how his body responded – I’m still holding my breath, in case you couldn’t tell – but all signs point to him being okay.  Let’s keep this going!

Finally, while still raw-looking, Alex McGough looked better.  He had a nifty little touchdown drive late in the game, with a nice touch pass to the back of the endzone.  Still more checkdowns than you’d like to see in a game if it actually mattered, but as far as a rookie backup quarterback is concerned, as long as he’s avoiding mistakes, he’s okay in my book.

Let’s Talk About Competitions

It’s time for the punter competition to end.  John Schneider needs to take Old Yeller Jon Ryan out back behind the barn and put him out of his misery.  It’s been a good run, MVP, but it’s time to go in another direction.  Michael Dickson is the future, and by God, might indeed be the next Seahawks jersey I end up buying!

The kicker competition is still alive and well, and honestly probably too close to call.  They both made some pretty short-range kicks, and no one attempted a PAT due to the score being what it was.  It’s unfortunate that the #2 and #3 offenses are so fucking inept, as it’s seemingly impossible for these guys to get us into scoring position at all!  Heading to Minnesota this week, obviously, isn’t a great opportunity to allow the offense to bust out, as that’s one of the deeper teams in the league.

Finally, as I alluded to, a pretty mixed bag when it comes to the QB2 spot.  Austin Davis had two drives and went nowhere.  He sucks.  That having been said, I don’t know if I’m willing to throw this competition away just yet and hand the keys to McGough.  Obviously, the team is pretty confident that they know what they’ve got in Davis, so they’re giving the bulk of the free time to McGough to gauge his development.  As he is a 7th rounder, you know the team isn’t expecting a lot from him, hence the rumors about the Seahawks offering a 2nd rounder to acquire Indy’s backup.  That’s obviously a terrible idea – as why would you give up something so valuable just for a guy who ideally will never see the field in the regular season? – especially when you consider we don’t even have another 2nd round pick until 2020!  I think that rumor ended up being false, but nevertheless I wouldn’t be shocked to see the Seahawks in the market for a new backup as teams start cutting guys later this month.

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

This section could also be called, “God Damn It Germain Ifedi”.

What the fuck is wrong with this guy?  Seriously!?  I mean, it’s pretty plain to see that we’re not going to get even a minimal amount of improvement out of him compared to a season ago, which is just a disaster.  Hell, at this point I can’t even promise he won’t get WORSE!  His play, in EVERY facet of the game (but in particular his pass protection), is just the fucking worst.  Now, obviously, the other four starting linemen look pretty okay, so if Russell Wilson just has to avoid one free rusher per play (as opposed to the usual 4 or 5 we’d let run wild in prior seasons) we should still be able to move the ball.  But, this nevertheless puts our most important player in a precarious spot, and the odds of Wilson suffering an injury because of Ifedi’s ineptitude increases tenfold.  We may look back on the right tackle injuries in that Indy game as a serious turning point in our season, on par with the George Fant injury a year ago.

Obviously, you have to hate that Will Dissly penalty, and you just hope it’s something he’ll correct going forward.  This team can’t afford mental errors, as it’s less able to overcome them than in years past when we had more star players.

Ditto the Chris Carson fumble at the goalline.  We need touchdowns, not field goals; and we need points, not turnovers.

Predictably, Philip Rivers carved us up early in the game.  I thought the defense did a better job of settling down after that first drive, but the run defense was as sorry as I’ve ever seen it.  There’s a slight chance this team’s pass rush will be better than I expected, but there’s a very good chance this team’s run defense will be much worse.  What worries me is if the pass rush is indeed terrible, and so is the run defense.  Could be a LONG season for that side of the ball.

I’m also going to bemoan the lack of turnovers the Seahawks generated, because I still think this team will need them to thrive.  The secondary in particular looked far from impressive.  Just a lot for this defense to work on, and not a lot of time left to do it.

Pre-Pre-Season Preview: Seahawks Blocking Game

Aside from digging into the various news stories, I’ve largely neglected talking about the Seahawks by design:  2017 was a bitter pill to swallow.  After such a sustained stretch of brilliance, this team was a slog to cover last year; but, they’ve jettisoned a lot of aging veterans, brought in fresh blood throughout the organization, and I would argue there’s some reasons to be optimistic (even though my default prediction is that this team will win anywhere from 7-9 games; everything would have to go perfectly in our favor to get to 10 wins or more, and when does THAT ever happen?).

So, with precious few weeks remaining until the pre-season games kick things off, I’ve got a quickie series of posts where I’ll look at the 7 areas of this team as they’re set up right now:

Without further ado, let’s talk about the Seahawks’ blocking game.

Offensive Line

Here we are.  So much of what the Seahawks want to do hinges on this.  Every year since Russell Wilson has proven himself to be a superstar quarterback in this league, I’ve been waiting for this offense to really bust out and start carrying the team; and every year, those hopes are dashed by an offensive line that couldn’t stop a pack of infants from wreaking havoc in our backfield.

And it’s not like the Seahawks haven’t tried!  We hired Tom Cable, we used many multiple draft picks, in a variety of rounds from the first through the seventh.  But, nothing worked, and indeed it got progressively worse over time, until last year when we has the worst running game in football.  How Russell Wilson hasn’t been killed in a live NFL game is beyond me, because he’s taken a BEATING!

I wish I could walk those comments back and say, “Oh, it wasn’t as bad as we remember,” but actually I think it was worse.  I mean, you’d expect a unit that was as healthy as our O-Line was last year to at least show SOME signs of improvement as the season went along, but I saw no evidence of that.  Did you?

Who’s at fault?  Well, how much time have you got?  Obviously, Tom Cable had to go.  I wouldn’t say his tenure was an utter failure – he did help take us to 2 Super Bowls, so it wasn’t ALWAYS this bad – but I’d say the last three years (2015-2017) were as bad as it gets.  Instead of taking advantage of Russell Wilson’s absolute prime, he had to run for his life on almost every play, while battling constant nagging injuries for one of those seasons!

The front office certainly shares some of the blame, be it Pete Carroll, John Schneider, the scouts, all of ’em.  Letting Tom Cable have so much power and direction over personnel, for starters.  The collective, for just having the worst insight/intuition/whathaveyou when it comes to picking which players we ended up drafting and signing to free agent deals.  The front office also for losing its way – to quote Richard Sherman – by trading away Max Unger for Jimmy Graham.  One of the better blocking centers in the league for one of the worst blocking tight ends in the history of football.

Now, certainly there were factors outside of their control, in that so many other players on this team turned into All Pros and Pro Bowlers, and as we talk about all the time, you can’t pay everyone.  But, the front office still made a choice in who they decided to pay; and ultimately they decided to make this offensive line the most under-funded in the entire league.  It backfired, and they’ve since corrected for that, but now we’re years from our last Super Bowl and, I’m afraid, many more years away from our next one.

I mean, if they’d just signed ONE high-priced left tackle, instead of paying the likes of Percy Harvin or Jimmy Graham, just think of how different things might be.  We might truly be talking about a Seahawks Dynasty, instead of a Seahawks What-If.

But, the past is the past and we can’t do anything about it now.  Let’s take a look at who we’ve got.

Well, I’ll say this:  the left side of the line looks VERY promising.  There are still a tremendous amount of caveats and question marks even about these three guys, but it’s not hard to envision a scenario where Duane Brown (at left tackle), Ethan Pocic (at left guard) and Justin Britt (at center) truly anchor this offensive line and make it a halfway competent one.  That having been said, Brown is going to be 33 in August and is heading into his 11th season; that’s a lot of mileage.  He’s also coming off of a year where he held out for half the games, then suffered an ankle injury.  He appears to be healthy now, but how long will that last?  And, even when he was (supposedly) healthy last year, he didn’t look great.  Maybe he needed time to get used to Russell Wilson’s style of play and scrambling and all that … or maybe he’s in his 30’s and is on the downside of his career.  How many more years does he have left, realistically?  2?  3 at the MOST?

This thing falls apart in a hurry if Duane Brown isn’t The Man.  I like Pocic as much as the next guy, but it’s still his second year in the league.  He’s also on his second offensive line coach in as many seasons (well, third in as many seasons, I suppose, if you include his college coach), so what is that going to do to stunt his growth?  And, as for Britt, again I like him, but he also pulled his share of boners last year, following his contract extension and the anointing of him as the leader of this unit.  Maybe that was because he had to compensate for the dunderheads around him – and I really do hope that’s the case – but don’t forget who’s at fault for George Fant getting hurt in the first place.  He took a blind dive into a guy and ended up landing on his own teammate’s knee; Britt isn’t exactly the sharpest tool in the shed.

I want to believe in this left side of the line – I HAVE to believe in them, for my own sanity – because the right side scares the everloving shit out of me.

The Seahawks brought back Mile Solari to coach up the offensive line.  He hasn’t had a successful O-Line in more years than I can count, so right away we’re dealing with a huge red flag.  Now, maybe there were other circumstances outside of his control, and it wasn’t necessarily all his fault that his lines have been terrible.  Maybe, if he had more control over things, he would’ve gotten his type of guys and had more success.  I certainly hope so, because it sounds like the Seahawks really took him to heart when he recommended signing D.J. Fluker to be this team’s right guard.

For starters, I think a lot of fans were clamoring for Germain Ifedi to move inside to guard.  I wasn’t one of them – I think if we’re ever going to see our faith in Ifedi pay off, it’s going to have to be at one single position, and not by jerking him around from guard to tackle and back again – but I can certainly understand the thought process.  Ifedi looks like a giant lunkhead over there at right tackle, and it might be easier to hide some of his flaws if you moved him inside and had Britt helping him out on double-teams and whatnot.  But, I’m of the opinion that if Ifedi is the bust we all fear he is, then he’s going to be a HUGE GAPING LIABILITY wherever you put him.  Sort of like Britt was, when we moved him from tackle to guard to finally center; unfortunately, you can only have one center on an offensive line, and Britt weaselled his way into the league first.

Getting back to Fluker for a minute, here’s a guy who was another former first rounder, as well as a guy who’s been considered a giant bust since entering the league.  He’s also a guy who was injured for most of 2017, and who thus far through OTA’s and mini-camps, hasn’t seen any action that I can recall hearing about (again, due to injury).  Even in an ideal world where Fluker was 100% healthy this off-season, he still was never going to be a guarantee.  I like him because he’s cheap, and hungry, and huge, and is supposedly a quality run blocker if nothing else; but that still doesn’t mean he’s destined to be worth a damn in 2018!

I want to believe in these guys, 1-5, but I just can’t get it up for this right side.  At this point, I’m done hoping Ifedi will be anything; I’m resigned to him being a bust and if I’m pleasantly surprised, then so be it.  As for Fluker, I don’t think he has more than 5 games in him before some body part gives out.  I’m mentally preparing myself for a revolving door on this side, with guys like Rees Odhiambo or Jordan Roos seeing some action at right guard, and with guys like George Fant or Isaiah Battle seeing some action at right tackle.

That having all been said, I think there’s an offensive line here we can use.  It’s far from perfect, and it’s far from ideal, but 3/5 of a competent offensive line is better than the 0/5 we’ve had the last three years.

As I said before, it all hinges on Duane Brown.  If he can return to even 80% of his former Pro Bowl self, we’ve got a shot.  Hopefully he’ll get better acquainted with Wilson’s scrambling style, as well as stay healthy the full year.  If he can do that, and help guide a beefed-up Pocic through any more growing pains he’s got left, then I don’t think Britt has to worry about helping out on that side, and can put his talents towards helping out his right guard, whoever that ends up being.  At which point, I’m not even asking for a huge step forward out of our right tackle; just don’t get any WORSE and I’ll be ecstatic!

With how BIG this unit is, if we still have trouble running the ball, then I’m gonna go jump off a bridge.  Also, it sounds like maybe there’ll be something of a scheme change, away from the strict zone blocking scheme we had under Cable?  I think that could help an oaf like Ifedi, where he doesn’t have to use his brain as much.  Maybe he can put those remaining brain cells into keeping track of the snap count, and not illegally hitting guys after the whistle and whatnot.

It’s the pass protection that’s my bigger concern, as it always is.  Pocic is a great unknown at this point in his career (one would hope his pedigree, work ethic, and increased mass will help him going forward), but everyone to his right has their moments of utter, mind-blowing ineptitude when it comes to letting guys just get free runs at the quarterback.  So, again, I turn to Duane Brown; he NEEDS to be our rock.  If we just have that one guy doing his job, we’ve got a chance.  Where it always breaks down is when both ends get to charge at Wilson and he has nowhere to go; but, if Brown is solid, then at least Wilson will be able to escape to the left side and try to make something happen.

I hate having to rely so much on one guy, but that’s the hand we’ve been dealt.  If Duane Brown doesn’t earn his next contract with superb play, we’re fucked.  There’s no other way around it.

As such, my grade is a C-.  There’s room to take it as high as a B, and obviously as low as an F, but as a baseline, C- is still better than anything we’ve gotten in the previous three seasons, which I find really encouraging.

Tight Ends

Can’t talk about the blocking game without mentioning the VAST improvement we’ve established among our tight ends!

Swapping out Jimmy Graham and bringing in Ed Dickson is like an NBA team trading me for LeBron James; I’m so giddy I can’t even stand it!

I want you to close your eyes.  I want you to picture the Seahawks lining up on offense, with 3 wide receivers, a running back, and Jimmy Graham.  I want you to picture Jimmy Graham motioning out wide to the right, then turning around and motioning back towards the offensive line.  I want you to picture just as Graham gets to the right tackle, we snap the ball, and Russell Wilson turns to hand it off to the running back, with the intention to go off-tackle.  There’s a linebacker coming around the edge; he’s Graham’s responsibility.  All Graham has to do is execute a wham block – blocking him down into the mass of bodies along the offensive and defensive lines – and if he does that, we have a considerable gain with the running back bouncing it around.  Can you picture it?  Can you picture Jimmy Graham standing fully upright, sort of half-heartedly (quarter-heartedly?) pushing on the linebacker with his forearms right before said linebacker blows up the play for a 3-yard loss?  Is your blood now sufficiently boiling?  Do you want to go out and murder 50 people?

I never thought I could hate someone more than I hated Percy Harvin, but I hate Jimmy Graham with the intensity of A FUCKING GOOGOLPLEX OF SUNS!  I mean, at least Harvin has a mental condition to explain why he’s a worthless pile of shit; Jimmy Graham is just a soft asshole whose only skill is catching 1-yard touchdown passes against undersized cornerbacks (and even THEN he drops the ball half the time!).

So, yeah, I love the Ed Dickson signing.  Is it sexy?  HELL NO!  But, I’m tired of going after sexy offensive weapons; where has it gotten us?  Give me the guy willing to hunt for his meal.  Give me the guy who will scrap and claw and fight for that inch.

Shit, give me a guy who can help out this poor excuse for an offensive line!

The Seahawks did it in spades.  Not only did they let Graham go, but they let Luke Willson go as well.  I like Willson, but he’s just a guy.  Sure, he was a fighter, but you wouldn’t say blocking was his specialty.  You know whose specialty that is?  Will Dissly, 4th round draft pick out of the University of Washington.  “Best blocking tight end in the draft” is what I’m told.  Good enough for me.  He could catch 0 balls this year and he’ll still be worth his weight in gold if he can live up to that moniker for this team.

Beyond that, it’ll be a fight between Nick Vannett and Tyrone Swoopes, the 3rd round pick from 2016 vs. the undrafted rookie from 2017.  Vannett has largely been considered a disappointment, and you can see why.  You pick a guy in the 3rd round, you expect more than 15 total receptions and 1 touchdown in his first 2 years.  Beyond that, I really don’t remember him making any sort of special teams contributions, so what is he good for?

Well, I’d argue he was buried behind two very established veterans in Graham and Willson, and how often do you really see a team’s third tight end?  It’s now or never for this kid, and you’d have to say his chances are never going to be better.  I have to believe – heading into the pre-season – Vannett is probably the most gifted offensive, pass-catching weapon at tight end on this team.  If he can’t stand out over a guy in Ed Dickson (who you know what you’ve got) and a rookie in Dissly not known as much of a pass-catching threat in college, then we’ve probably reached the end of the road with Vannett.  From a blocking perspective, he doesn’t even need to be that great to make an impact, so long as he’s a catching machine.  But, regardless, he HAS to be better than Graham, so we’re talking about a considerable improvement any way you slice it.

As for Swoopes, he more or less rode the Practice Squad all of 2017.  He’s seen as more of a project, but with great potential as a pass-catcher, so again there’s probably only room for either him or Vannett.  Unless he shows tremendous skills – and tremendous improvement over what was probably a pretty raw rookie campaign – then he’s going to need to be a force when it comes to blocking.  I have no idea, but my hunch is that’s probably the biggest part of his game that’s lacking.  We’ll see.

Regardless, when it comes to just blocking, I’m giving our tight ends an A+.  I couldn’t be happier!

The question now is:  when you factor in the combo of the O-Line and our Tight Ends, will we have the blocking to be successful?  Assuming we scheme it up right, and take advantage of all of them, I think we do.  Darrell Bevell liked to spend all his free time trying to out-think opposing defenses (hence why you always saw Graham on the field in obvious rushing situations, to try to “fool” defenses into thinking we’d throw to him; only problem with that is it never made up for the liability he was in actually trying to throw a block).  It sounds like Brian Schottenheimer is more old school in that regard.  I’d expect a lot of ground & pound.  In which case, it’s our best guys against your best guys, and may the best team win.  With the group of guys we’ve got, I think that suits us to a T.  I could easily see our blocking unit end up with a grade of a B-, which is all we need with our skill position guys doing their things.

I really do believe there’s potential for greatness out of this offense.  Of course, there’s also potential for utter ruin, but that’s what makes this season so exciting!

The Seahawks Signed D.J. Fluker

It’s a 1-year deal for an unknown amount of money.

Depending on how much the contract is worth, this could be the first move I approve of when it comes to this Seahawks offseason.  We needed another guard, because there’s no way in hell Luke Joeckel would be returning, and I want no part of Rees Odhiambo starting games for this team, so it pretty much had to come from free agency or the draft.  And while it looks like they opted for the former, I suppose that doesn’t necessarily prevent them from also picking a guy from the college ranks.  But, I dunno.  That seems like it would be a move designed to have someone compete with Ethan Pocic, when I thought he did okay last year.

As it stands, the O-Line is looking like this:

Duane Brown – Ethan Pocic – Justin Britt – D.J. Fluker – Ifedi/Fant

In other words, it’s pretty well set.  I think 4/5 spots are on lock, barring injury, with Germain Ifedi in a true position battle for that right tackle spot with George Fant, who is returning from ACL injury (and was the presumptive starting left tackle for this team before Britt dove at his legs and set the disaster that was the 2017 season in motion).

As for Fluker himself, he was the 11th overall draft pick in 2013, and the Seahawks are already his third team, so you tell me if he’s a bust or not.  The Chargers selected Fluker out of Alabama to be a tackle for them, but he was never good enough to stick at left tackle, and eventually couldn’t even stick at his more natural right tackle position.  They moved him inside, which is where he remains.  He appears to be exclusively a right-side lineman, which means it’s Right Guard or it’s nothing.  After the Chargers waived him, he signed a deal with the Giants last year for 1 year, $3 million; a toe injury limited him to 9 games.

So, given that history, perhaps my initial take was incorrect.  Someone who flamed out with his original team and was only able to net $3 million with the Giants for 9 games, I can’t imagine he got a RAISE based on that!  Then again, what did Luke Joeckel’s dumb ass ever do to deserve over $7 million?  My point is, I don’t trust this front office to NOT overpay for worthless linemen off the scrap heap.  See also:  $1 million for Bradley Sowell and nearly $3 million for J’Marcus Webb.

What I do like, however, are the reports that say Fluker is 100% healthy.  Of course, that doesn’t preclude him from getting another body part injured – or re-injuring that very same toe – but at least we can hope he’ll show up to Training Camp ready to work.  He’s also heading into his age 27 season, so he should be extra motivated to kick some ass and get a nice, fat contract.  He’s an Alabama kid, so you know he was at least – at one point – one of the top recruits in the country.  And, at over 340 pounds, he’s fucking HUGE.  He might get beat in pass protection every now and then, but I can’t imagine he’ll be bull-rushed into the pocket too many times.  It also sounds like he’s a pretty good run blocker, so pairing him with Ifedi on that side could pose some unique challenges for defenses when we run that way.

We’ll see.  I’m still all in on the Seahawks using their first round pick to take the best running back available, so I hope this means the odds of us drafting a guard at that spot go way down.  Frankly, I like the idea of not having to worry about the shuffling of offensive linemen at this point in the year.  We’ve got four spots nailed down, with two young guys looking to do battle for the fifth.  I like Brown for at least another year, I think Pocic will take a step forward in year 2, I think Britt is fine, I hope Fluker will be okay, and fingers crossed that a little continuity from year to year with Ifedi in the same spot will help him grow.