Getting The New NFL Roster Rule Changes Straight In My Mind

The new CBA was, I guess, ratified earlier this year, and with it came the usual sprinkling of tweaks to the rules. I still don’t have it all straight in my mind – there’s apparently going to be seven teams from each conference making the playoffs (with only the #1 seeds getting a first round BYE), and I guess a 17-game schedule is coming for some reason (greed) – but one of the biggies that flew under my radar is how NFL rosters are going to look for a while.

Truth be told, this post is just for me. I feel like I’ll have a better chance of remembering these fakakta alterations if I write them down. To save yourself some agony, just read Bob Condotta’s article from today’s Seattle Times; he says it better than I ever could.

So, up until now, NFL rosters have maxed out at 53 players, with 46 of those guys active on game days. Why this is a thing, I’ll never understand (greed again), but whatever. It usually doesn’t make a HUGE difference anyway, because you’re talking about the bottom of the roster barrel, plus it’s football: there are usually enough guys with nagging injuries that need to sit out a game here and there anyway (this also probably saves on players getting thrown on Injured Reserve, as long as there aren’t too many other injuries at the same position).

NOW, teams can have up to 55 players on their rosters, with up to 48 active on gameday. The caveats (because OF COURSE there are caveats (because greed, almost assuredly)) are that two of the 55 must come from your practice squad, only to be elevated the day before a game; and at least one of the 48 must be an eighth offensive lineman.

That offensive lineman rule feels like the Seahawks snuck it in as a rider to this huge piece of legislation at the eleventh hour that REALLY only helps our team. Why would the majority of NFL teams need an eighth offensive lineman? What are the odds that you’d have THREE O-Line injuries in the same game? That’s pretty remote, I have to imagine. BUT, the odds increase if – like the Seahawks – you regularly employ the use of a sixth lineman in certain jumbo packages. I mean, you might as well call this the George Fant Provision! It would make more sense if George Fant was still here, and not penciled in to be the starting left tackle for the New York Jets, but you get the idea.

NFL teams usually roster around nine offensive linemen, with only seven being active on gameday. Does this mean most teams will now roster ten? Is that why the Seahawks went H.A.M. in the O-Line free agent market? I’ll go out on a limb and say “Yes”; why not?!

It does make it interesting, however, that the Seahawks put so much effort into refilling their tight end room on top of it. I’m still expecting one or two surprise veteran cuts at some point before the regular season starts, but people have speculated that the other extra roster spot could be devoted to keeping a fourth or even a fifth tight end (particularly if one of those guys – like Stephen Sullivan – straddles the definition between tight end and wide receiver).

We can speculate on that until we’re all blue in the face, so let’s move on.

Things get moderately interesting when we talk about the practice squad. Instead of ten players, it will now have twelve (with, again, two of those players being promoted to the active roster every week). The same rules apply in that if any other team wants to poach one of your practice squad guys, they can do so, as long as they are being signed to that team’s active roster (you can of course, I’m assuming, do the same to prevent those coveted players from fleeing). Two of your practice squad players can have an unlimited number of accrued years under their belts (before, it had to be no more than two years), so if you’re a longtime veteran who’s looking to stay in the league as long as humanly possible (and you don’t mind earning those low, low practice squad wages), then you’re in luck!

I’m, you know … I’m looking at you, Luke Willson.

Getting back to the roster increase from 53 to 55, as I said those two players have to come from that week’s practice squad. The catch is, those two players either have to return to the practice squad the next day, or you have two waive two other guys to keep them on. And, you can only return a player to the practice squad twice per season without exposing them to waivers. After that, every time they’d have to pass through (though, I don’t know if that’s a super big deal, because any team can take any player from your practice squad at any time, if they really want ’em).

Is it a perfect system? Of course not, it never will be. If it were up to me, players on the practice squad would be YOUR guys and would never be subjected to waivers unless you specifically WAIVED them (because you no longer want them). The “practice squad”, in this sense, would be like the minor leagues in baseball, and instead of worrying about your new draft picks being ready to play right away, you could take more chances on prospects/projects, without worrying about losing them through the life of their rookie deals. That seems like a much better solution than subjecting a longtime veteran to the indignity of either taking a practice squad deal or getting dropped from the league entirely.

Now that I’ve laid it all out here, I realize these changes sounded much more significant when the CBA was first announced. But, these are pretty small potatoes in the grand scheme of football things; I guess that’s why I waited until mid-May to finally learn some of the nuances.

Germain Ifedi Signs A 1-Year Deal With The Bears

I dunno, I think it’s news when a former Seahawks first-round draft pick signs with another team.

I can’t think of this year’s free agent market for offensive linemen off the top of my head, but I don’t remember it being particularly robust. Seemed like an average year; maybe fewer top-tier guys than usual, but not a crazy outlier or anything. Anyway, as has been discussed ad nauseam, the O-Line market tends to be pretty lucrative, because there’s not enough good ones to go around. So, even if you’re semi-competent, you seem to get many more millions of dollars than would seem fiscally responsible.

George Fant, for instance, was a guy who started all of 24 games across four years (who also, not for nothing, missed the entirety of the 2017 season with a torn ACL); he was mostly a blocking tight end for the last two years with the Seahawks. AND, he was a basketball player primarily in college, until his final year when he played, again, tight end. The Jets just gave him a 3-year deal for $27.3 million deal and a wink-wink guarantee to be their starting left tackle (arguably the most important position on the offensive line).

I mean, I like him, and I wish him all the best, but that’s a pretty big leap for a guy with not a lot of experience.

Whereas Ifedi has started 60 games across four years (who has never had a serious injury to speak of). Now, obviously granted, he had to play right out of the gate as a rookie, and got his ass handed to him on the regular for the first couple seasons of his professional career, but he was never a tight end; he played LINE. He started at right tackle primarily the last few years and made serious strides in his development over 2018 & 2019.

Knowing what we know about the needs across the league, combined with how difficult it is for college linemen to come in and start right away as rookies (what with all the spread offenses, on top of them simply being under-sized and under-skilled), I fully expected the market for Ifedi’s services to be HIGHER than Fant’s, or at the very least on par.

Instead, he’s signing a 1-year deal with the Bears (for a currently-undisclosed amount), where it sounds like he’ll have to slide over to right guard (probably the LEAST-valuable spot on an O-Line). I don’t get it.

I mean, yeah, he’s always had trouble with penalties, and he’ll still get beat on occasion. But, it seems like there was still room for growth there! Now, who knows, maybe he was always meant to be a guard. He’s certainly got the size and brute strength to be one (while not necessarily being as fleet of foot as you’d like for a tackle), but it kinda feels like a give-up move. Tackles are so much more valuable; you’d think if he was going to take a 1-year deal, he’d go somewhere where he could at least stick at tackle! I dunno, maybe his agent sucks.

All hope isn’t lost, of course. If he goes in there at guard and really kills it, he can certainly earn a top-notch contract next year; there are always teams who will over-pay for guards. But, you REALLY have to stand out as one of the very best in the game; whereas – as Fant has proven – you don’t need to do a whole lot to get paid as a tackle (granted, he looks to be a left tackle, but still).

If I thought the Seahawks were in line for any compensatory picks next year, I’d probably be (WAY) more upset, but obviously we’ve signed so many street free agents that it’s just not gonna happen. Nevertheless, I kinda feel bad. The Seahawks are always maligned for their offensive line play, so I always like it when one of our guys (like James “Pancakes” Carpenter, like Mark “Mark” Glowinski, like George “College Basketball Player” Fant) hits the open market and gets paid. It’s a signifier – to Seahawks fans, if nothing else – that our guys really aren’t that incompetent, and they get unfairly criticized by the national media. A bigtime Ifedi deal might’ve been the biggest feather in our caps, as he’s been a fucking WHIPPING BOY for both the national media and most of the local fans alike. This deal has to give us all pause and reflect, “Oh yeah, he did kinda suck most of the time, didn’t he?”

I don’t think that’s necessarily fair, but apparently the market has spoken! So, here’s to hoping he’s able to really stick it to everyone this season, and gets what he deserves in 2021!

The Seahawks Brought Back Bruce Irvin (And Yes, Other Stuff Happened Too)

So far we’ve seen a lot of little moves to fill in the cracks on this roster, so if you’re waiting for your needle to move one way or the other, settle in, because it could be a while.

Bruce Irvin is moderately interesting, because he’s a former Seahawk returning to the team that drafted him (then refused to extend him to a big-money deal when he became a free agent, but that’s neither here nor there). Also, he’s a guy who’s proven to be able to get to the quarterback, albeit again, moderately. Last year was his career-best in sacks, and it was still only 8.5 (which would’ve easily led the Seahawks last year, but that’s not saying much; I damn near led the Seahawks in sacks last year!). He’s a complementary piece. In theory, you could play him every down, but at his age and size, he’s probably more of a rotational guy. I would anticipate him seeing a lot of time at the LEO end spot where Cliff Avril made his living.

If we’re rolling with the assumption that the Seahawks are just going to re-sign Clowney (which is where it looks like things are trending, as he wasn’t among the first wave of free agents to snap up huge gobs of money), as they also re-signed Reed the other day, then Bruce Irvin is the first REAL addition to this defensive line. How does that make you feel? I’m pretty happy with it, because he’s leaps and bounds better than 2019 Ziggy Ansah; but so is a corpse. 6 extra sacks is nothing to sneeze at, though, so I’ll take it.

Of course, if the Seahawks fail (or just opt NOT) to re-sign Clowney, then obviously we’re in trouble. Again, we just have to wait and see how the full picture presents itself.

***

The most entertaining bit of news was the Tweet that read, “Tedric Thompson has been given permission to seek a trade.” Oh REALLY?! I actually heard that he’s been given permission to go and fuck the hell off of this team! I would die if the Seahawks actually managed to snag ANYTHING in return for someone who has been one of the bigger busts in recent Seahawks draft history (Malik McDowell notwithstanding). Anyway, it’s exciting knowing that T2 will be out of my life relatively soon.

After the Irvin signing, it was announced the Seahawks signed Brandon Shell for 2 years and $11 million. He’s presumably here to take over for Germain Ifedi, which makes sense because giving Ifedi a large contract can NOT be within our budget this year. While I’ll miss all the false starts and holding penalties, I won’t … uhh, yeah. Ifedi, you were always there. That’s something, I guess.

Shell was a fifth round pick in 2016 and has pretty much been a starter for the Jets since 2017. He’s had a few injury issues, but it doesn’t look like a chronic problem. With the dearth of offensive line talent, it’s curious that the Seahawks were able to sign him so cheap. Feels like a bad sign to me (especially since the Jets clearly valued George Fant over him). Then again, you could easily make the argument that damn near anyone would be an improvement over Ifedi (even though I thought he made a lot of progress the last two years).

On the heels of the Shell signing, the Seahawks also picked up Cedric Ogbuehi (a name I’m going to dread having to look up how to spell every fucking time I write about him). He was a first round pick in 2015 and absolutely flamed out of Cincinnati after two terrible years as a starter. He was a backup for the Jags last year and seems likelier to just compete for a roster spot rather than the starting right tackle job. At 1 year and a little over $3 million, I guess you have to like the potential of a first-round talent (the Seahawks sure do!), but I’m not holding my breath on this guy.

One bit of interesting news was that the Seahawks opted to not tender Jordan Simmons (an exclusive-rights free agent, meaning no team could’ve signed him away from us had we tendered him). So, he reverts to a full-blown free agent now. Word on the street is that the Seahawks could still try to bring him back, at a lower salary (likely more incentive-laden, given his myriad injury issues); but, I mean exclusive-rights free agents aren’t all that expensive in the first place, so he’s probably gone. Which is a bummer, because when he’s healthy, he’s got REAL potential to start at either guard spot.

Finally, in non-Seahawks news, Todd Gurley was cut by the Rams! They’ve made a mockery of their salary cap situation for a couple years now, with that Gurley contract a prime instigator. He’s clearly not worth all the money they gave him (which was a deal obviously based on past performance), he’s apparently got some sort of degenerative knee issue that’s going to blow up on him at any time now … but he’s still really talented. The Rams really worked him like a dog his first four years, but they scaled him way back in 2019, so at the very least he should be fairly fresh in the short term. I would expect at least two really good years out of him before you’re white-knuckling it.

Of course, to bring it back to the Seahawks, there’s obviously rumors flying that we’d be interested in taking a flier on Gurley. I would anticipate a lot of other teams have similar interest as well, and I just can’t support signing ANY running back to a hefty contract (even if it’s not as insane as the one the Rams gave him). That being said, a backfield with Gurley, Carson, Penny (eventually) and Homer? I would NOT throw that running back room out of bed for eating crackers!

The Seahawks Re-Signed Jarran Reed & Other Stuff From Legalized Tampering Period Glory

You know, I mean, there’s nothing stopping the NFL from just saying that March 16th was the start of Free Agency. Why go through all the rigmarole? If the day coincides with a billion Tweets about so and so getting traded or extended or signing elsewhere, just make THAT day the day!

Anyway, yeah, yesterday was the start of the Legal Tampering Period, which is like The Purge for NFL free agency (mostly because Bill O’Brien likes to crush the hopes and dreams of Houston Texans fans on an annual basis in the most brutal, blood-spattering way possible). I mean, seriously, how does he still have a job?! Moreover, how is HE in charge of that team’s personnel? What kind of owner would allow this man to trade a Hall of Fame wide receiver for ANYTHING let alone the peanuts he got in return from the Cardinals?! Has anyone checked on Bob McNair’s widow to make sure she’s still conscious?

MA’AM, ARE YOU IN ANY DANGER? WHAT IS BILL O’BRIEN DOING TO YOU?!

I mean, it’s not JUST that he traded DeAndre Hopkins to the Cardinals, but yeah that certainly chaps my ass! It’s the fact that someone who clearly is out WAY over his skis is allowed to run an entire franchise into the ground in a futile attempt to preserve his own job for one more year, without taking long-term ramifications into play. I’m as mad about the Texans as I am about the Knicks or the Redskins or the Seattle Fucking Mariners, but that’s neither here nor there.

As if the Seahawks’ secondary didn’t already need a ton of help just to return to some semblance of competence; now we’ve got to face the most talented receiver on the planet two times a year. Fuck me.

Anyway, Jarran Reed! Woo.

Look, I’m fine with it. It’s fine. He had a down year in 2019, which apparently brought his price down to only $23 million over 2 years. (Only!) There isn’t a ton of risk here, because it’s such a short duration; so, if he sucks, he’s not our problem for long. But, there’s next-to-no upside either. If Reed returns to his 2018 form where he had 10.5 sacks, then that’s awesome in the short term, but doesn’t really buy us anything in two years when he’ll be looking for a huge, max contract.

It’s not a sexy deal, it’s kinda underwhelming, so what did I really expect from the Seahawks at the onset of free agency? This is what we do. I’m sure I’ll talk myself into it at some point – probably when the picture is clearer and I can visualize who Reed will be playing alongside – but in a vacuum it’s just Whatever.

I’ve been harping on it all offseason: the Seahawks’ D-line in 2019 was God-awful, so just running it back again isn’t going to cut it; they need to ADD. Bringing Reed back is a step toward the Running It Back direction, and while he’s a young, hungry piece to the puzzle who – I’m sure – will be working his ass off over these next two seasons to build his value back up, I’m much more interested in what outside pieces we end up bringing in (to not only compensate for the presumed loss of Clowney, but to build beyond that in returning this defense to some form of relevance).

In other news, we don’t have George Fant to kick around anymore, as he landed a 3-year, $30 million deal with the Jets, presumably to be their starting left tackle. I always liked him; I’ll always wonder what his Seahawks career could’ve been had Justin Britt not fallen onto his knee just as he was being anointed this team’s starting left tackle (before the Duane Brown trade rendered him a super-sub). I don’t expect the Seahawks to be as obsessed with the comp pick formula in this free agency period, but I read on Twitter that Fant’s deal would bring back a 4th rounder, so that’s interesting.

In yet other news, Jacob Hollister was given a second-round tender (meaning anyone who signs him would have to give the Seahawks a second round pick), which I think is exciting! I’d love it either way! Bring him back, and shore up that tight end room; let him go and nab a high draft pick, bingo bango bongo! David Moore was given an original-round tender (meaning anyone who signs him would have to give the Seahawks a seventh round pick, since that’s the original round he was selected in), and again, same deal! Moore is an adequate #4 or #5 receiver; but if a team wants to give us a seventh round pick, all the better!

Also, apparently Joey Hunt and Branden Jackson were both tendered as well, but we don’t know which levels yet. Jackson was undrafted, but I also can’t imagine we’d put a second-round tender on him (because he’s done nothing in his career) so I have to imagine that’s an original-rounder. Hunt was taken in the sixth round, and while I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s also an original-rounder, he did finish last year as our starting center, and I’ve contended for a while now that we should slap a second-round tender on him (and release Britt to save money).

Finally, in cool dude news, Luke Willson looks like he’ll be back! Once we dump Ed Dickson, that gives us a lethal tight end room of Greg Olsen, Luke Willson, Will Dissly, and Jacob Hollister! I like that very much a lot.

Greg Olsen Signs With The Seahawks

It’s Olsen, not Olson; maybe this year I’ll finally have it down cold.

I would rarely call Tight End a huge need for any team, but if it ever were, I’d say the Seahawks benefit more than most by having a quality group at the position. Or, at least we seem to suffer the most when our TE room is awful.

I’ve liked what the Seahawks have done at the spot in recent years. Will Dissly is elite, but he can’t seem to stay healthy. I’ve always liked Luke Willson as a solid #2 guy, and I thought he proved he still has the chops last year, coming in off the streets to help out. Jacob Hollister was a revelation, and ended the season as our #3 pass-catching target. I mean, that’s not ideal, obviously, but he was up to the task! Even Ed Dickson, when he was able to play, brought a lot to the table; but he’s done. It’s over. He had a good run.

On its face, the signing of Olsen seems to be as a Dickson replacement. He’ll be 35 years old this season, and really we’re talking about a 1-year deal for $7 million ($5.5 of which is guaranteed). Between that and the savings we’ll generate by cutting Dickson, this is as low-risk of a move as they come in the NFL.

Greg Olsen – at one time – was in the Top 2 or 3 tight ends in the entire NFL. We obviously remember him from his 9 seasons with the Panthers, and while his production has started to slow down in recent years, he still played in 14 games in 2019, on a VERY bad Carolina team. 52 receptions for 597 yards would fit quite nicely in this Seahawks offense.

While he’s a Dickson replacement, he’s also Dissly insurance. If you figure Hollister will be back as this team’s #3 tight end (primarily in passing situations, one would expect), you still need a quality blocker to throw into our jumbo packages (especially with George Fant all but gone from the team). We might not ever be able to count on Dissly to make it a full NFL season, so having someone like Olsen is a godsend.

But, Olsen is in his own battle, with Father Time, so how much can we count on him? He only made it 7 games in 2017 (foot injury) and 9 games in 2018 (same foot, new injury); and I think the games he missed in 2019 were due to a concussion? I refuse to find out. I guess the hope is that two potentially injury-prone tight ends will equal one fully-healthy tight end across the entire season. Like a couple of codependent junkies just trying to make it through this crazy thing we call life!

As I said (I think), I like the signing. It’s one year, he’s not breaking the bank, he still has something in the tank (it would appear), and every little bit helps. You can’t have too many weapons. You can have too many divas, you can have too many conflicting personalities in a locker room, but you can’t have too many complementary pieces whose goal is to score points, win football games, and ultimately get this team back to the Super Bowl.

Greg Olsen just wants to win. He’s not here to take over the offense (a la Jimmy Graham); he knows he fills a role – a very valuable role for this team – and I think he can be a great safety valve for Wilson on 3rd Downs, and when he’s scrambling out of the pocket.

I also believe the Seahawks would probably be wise to invest in the position for the future. Draft someone, have him learn under Olsen, and if Dissly proves he’ll never be able to stay healthy, then we can let him go when his rookie deal expires.

I would also mention that this doesn’t cost the Seahawks a comp pick for 2021, but I don’t think that’s going to matter. I think the Seahawks are going to be really active in outside free agency this year, so it’s doubtful we end up with any comp picks next year anyway.

Should The Seahawks Go All In On Clowney?

The Seahawks are in the Top 10 teams with the most money available to spend in free agency in 2020. We’re also coming off of a semi-deep playoff run, with a franchise quarterback and a front office set-up that’s the envy of most in the league. Paired with a whole mess of draft picks, you’d be hard-pressed to find many teams in a better position to improve from 2019 to 2020. Could this be the year we go back to the Super Bowl?

A lot of that will depend on what happens in free agency. As I wrote about HERE and HERE, there are a lot of players whose contracts are up. The most important of them are along the offensive and defensive lines. So, while the Seahawks have a lot of money to play around with, they’ll have to use a significant portion of it if they’d like to keep some of the better players around. The biggest money guys on offense are Ifedi and Fant; I don’t know if we can afford to lose them both, as that would put us in a situation where we might have to (or want to) replace 4 of our 5 O-Linemen. The Seahawks likely won’t keep both Ifedi and Fant, but keeping just one around will require a significant chunk of change.

Defensively, the big money guys are Jarran Reed and Jadeveon Clowney. The Seahawks very well MIGHT want to keep both of these guys, which would take most of the rest of our available salary cap resources. Considering how poor the Seahawks’ defensive line was in 2019, and that performance largely included both of those guys playing significant snaps when healthy & active, is it smart to give these two a lot of money?

I’m mostly focused on Clowney in this instance. I think if we want to extend Reed long term, we’d be entitled to something of a discount considering his suspension and his lackluster performance in the games following his suspension. Either a 1-year prove-it deal, or a multi-year deal at a lower average than we anticipated following his 10.5-sack 2018.

Clowney, on the other hand, will be looking for top-of-the-market defensive player money. Anywhere from $20-$25 million per year on average. Even with the pro-rated signing bonus, that won’t make for a necessarily cheap first year cap hit.

So, I pose the question: pay Clowney what he’s looking for, or not?

Paying Clowney would put the Seahawks with three players making money at or near the top of their respective markets, including Russell Wilson at the most expensive position in football (the other is obviously Bobby Wagner).

It’s hard to answer this question without knowing the full plan. Are the Seahawks going to pump a bunch of dollars back into the O-Line? I think they absolutely should, as I’m not ready for the likes of Pocic, Haynes, and Jones to take over full time (I also wouldn’t mind an upgrade over Fluker, if I’m being honest). Are they going to make a splashy trade or signing for a wide receiver or tight end that will set us back in the cap? I hope and pray that they don’t; we should be able to get by with who we have, and let Russell Wilson take on the burden of making those around him better.

I would obviously love to have Clowney back, as I do believe he’s one of the five or ten best overall defensive ends in football. I base this not on his sack numbers, but his overall presence on the field, the pressure he’s able to generate on his own, and what he’s able to do in slowing down the opponent’s run game. Also, not for nothing, but the Seahawks don’t have anyone else remotely CLOSE to what Clowney can do on a football field in how he can wreck games; and I don’t believe there’s anyone in the free agent market that can approach his level of production either.

But, as I said before, the Seahawks need a lot of help along the D-Line. If it comes down to signing Clowney, or signing 2-3 mid-level defensive linemen, I think I’d rather have the volume of players. 3 competent linemen who are able to do a little bit of everything is preferable to 1 outstanding lineman and 2 duds who can’t do anything.

The problem, as I see it, is the fact that most every team in football can say the exact same thing. Lots of teams need defensive line help; lots of teams have money to spend on free agents.

Everyone always points to the Seahawks signing Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett before the 2013 season as the gold standard, as if those types of players grow on trees. The Seahawks were in a unique position that year to take advantage of market inefficiencies; that’s a once-in-a-lifetime confluence of factors that we pretty much lucked into. Most every other season, you run into what we have this year: older veterans on the cusp of falling off a cliff, or younger guys who have yet to prove they can do the job for a full season.

The X-factor in this whole thing is whatever potential trade market is out there. Who are the players entering the final year of their rookie deals? The players who get Franchise Tagged and aren’t particularly happy about it? We won’t know the answer to that for another few weeks, but could the Seahawks find themselves in another Clowney situation in 2020? I wouldn’t throw that option out of bed.

I think my biggest worry is Clowney’s durability. He’s suffered a bevy of injuries throughout his college and pro career. Giving that kind of money to one man puts a lot of risk on your plate; if he doesn’t live up to the contract – because of injuries, declining ability, or a lack of want-to – then you’ve effectively screwed yourself in the short and long term. If signing Clowney means we can’t afford to put the type of players around him to make this whole thing better than it was in 2019, then not only do we need him active for the full 16-game season, but we need him absolutely destroying fools on an every-game basis if we want to reach our objectives:

  • Winning the NFC West
  • Getting a first-round BYE
  • Making the Super Bowl

That’s all I care about. I want the Seahawks to do whatever gets us back to the mountain top. If that includes Clowney, then I hope it includes enough complementary pieces around him to enhance his abilities, and I certainly hope it includes the right guys to keep Russell Wilson upright and contending for MVPs.

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

Yesterday, we got into it with what the Seahawks should do on defense. In case you couldn’t tell, these last two posts were supposed to be one, but as usual I got a little wordy, so here we are. Maybe someday I’ll do a Kill Bill-style re-imagining and smash these two posts into one big one. Probably not, but you never know.

Here are the offensive free agents-to-be, in some particular order:

Offense

  • Germain Ifedi (RT)
  • Joey Hunt (C)
  • Mike Iupati (G)
  • George Fant (T/TE)
  • Jacob Hollister (TE)
  • Luke Willson (TE)
  • David Moore (WR)
  • Jaron Brown (WR)
  • Geno Smith (QB)
  • C.J. Prosise (RB)

That’s a lotta O-Line. Today’s edition is going to be a little different than yesterday’s, as I’m gonna talk about one of our potential cuts right at the top.

The Seahawks have a HUGE decision to make at the center spot. Not a lot of people are talking about it right now, but soon it’s going to be everywhere. Justin Britt – who has been a reliable starter for the last few years – will be heading into the final year of his deal. He’s set to count approximately $11.4 million against the salary cap. He’s also coming off of an ACL injury that ended his season and required surgery.

Joey Hunt – a 6th rounder from 2016 – filled in and did pretty well. He’s obviously undersized, and usually once a game he’d get knocked back on his ass in embarrassing fashion, but other than that I thought he was fine. Also, given his own salary, there was great value there, as I don’t feel like we dropped off much at all compared to Britt. Obviously, starting so many games this season, Hunt is set for a raise, but I have to imagine it’s still less than what Britt is currently earning, meaning this is an opportunity for the team to save some money in the long term. If we cut Britt, he only counts about $2.9 million against the cap, which is about $8.5 million in savings for 2020.

I think the Seahawks should cut Britt, extend Hunt (maybe in the $4-5 million per year range), and draft another center to study under him. Now, Hunt is a restricted free agent, meaning we can slap a 1st round tender (a little over $4.5 million), a 2nd round tender (a little over $3 million), or an original round tender (a little over $2 million) to keep him for another season. That’s also an option. An original round tender seems like a waste, as I could easily see another team willing to sign him long term and give us a 6th rounder. Even a 2nd round tender feels like cheaping out; I’d look to slap a 1st round tender on him and play chicken with the rest of the league; I can’t imagine anyone giving up a 1st round pick for Hunt, and if so, then god bless ’em. And, who knows, if the guy we draft ends up being a stud, then maybe we let Hunt walk after 2020 and go with the draft pick going forward.

Either way, I’d like to have seen Justin Britt make his last start in a Seahawks uniform in 2019.

The next big decision revolves around Ifedi. We all know Ifedi. He’s a 4-year starter who was absolutely the whipping boy of an entire fanbase for his first two years in the league. He took a big step forward in 2018, and continued that work on into 2019. Now, of course, he’s not perfect. He gets penalized a lot, he gives up a good amount of pressure, but you can’t deny he’s made progress. Plus, he’s durable, and most importantly: the NFL simply has a shortage of reliable offensive linemen, so the demand for him on the open market is sure to be high. The Seahawks were already unwilling to give him a 5th-year option (which was a little over $10 million), so you can take that one of two ways: either they were taking a wait-and-see approach, or they just don’t think he’s worth that money on a short-term basis.

The Seahawks COULD use some of the savings by letting Britt go to extend Ifedi. Extending him another 4 years or so would allow the team to spread the signing bonus around, which would help us in the short term (likely resulting in a cap hit less than $10 million in the first year, allowing us to wait for the league-wide salary cap figures to continue to grow, as they have every year since the current CBA was put into place).

Or, the Seahawks could let Ifedi walk, but that comes with great risk, as I don’t believe they have his replacement on our roster just yet. Which brings us to George Fant. He obviously is looking to get a starting job somewhere, and I can’t imagine he’d be willing to stay here unless there are built-in assurances that he’s set to replace Duane Brown when he retires. But, that would still likely require a significant financial investment in a guy who figures to be a hot commodity around the league. Fant has lots of experience, including starting experience at the all-important left tackle position. The way around that quandry is to give Fant the right tackle job right away, then slide him over to the left side when Brown’s contract expires, and hopefully have developed the right tackle of the future in the interim.

The other option is to let Fant and Ifedi walk, and select a right tackle HIGH in this year’s draft. But, that comes with it pretty much the same thing we dealt with in Ifedi’s first two seasons here: lots and lots of growing pains.

If I had to make a decision now, I’d lean towards keeping one of either Ifedi or Fant. Preferably Fant – if the salaries are similar – but if he’s going to break the bank somewhere for a super high deal, then settle for Ifedi and try to develop your next left tackle of the future. I REALLY don’t want to lose them both, but I’d understand if the money is too prohibitive.

As for Iupati, I think we could retain him on the cheap if we needed to. That would allow us to continue bringing Jamarco Jones along slowly, and allowing him to be our backup guard on both sides of the center.

***

Let’s talk about tight ends and receivers now.

Will Dissly should be back for the start of 2020, but he’s pretty much all we got. I would LOVE for the Seahawks to extend Hollister, though he’s a restricted free agent, so I think we could get away with a 2nd round tender on him (it would be pointless to put an original round tender on him, as he went undrafted, and I feel like he’s built up enough value in his time here to be worth more than nothing). If someone signs Hollister and is willing to give us a 2nd round pick, then GREAT! More ammo for the upcoming draft.

As for Luke Willson, I think it’s worth it to bring him back on a minimum deal. I also think the team should invest in another blocking tight end in the mid-to-late rounds of the draft, as we obviously need the depth with Dissly’s injury issues.

I think we should let Jaron Brown walk. He was an okay veteran, but he’s not worth the money. I could see us slapping an original round tender on David Moore, as a little over $2 million isn’t going to break the bank, and quite frankly I’d welcome the 7th rounder if another team signed him.

With Lockett and Metcalf, our top two receiver spots are locked up. The Seahawks obviously kept John Ursua on the roster all year (and traded back into the seventh round of the 2019 draft) for a reason. He was a healthy scratch for all but a small handful of games, but this team sees potential in him as a #3 receiver. I think that starts to take hold in 2020. If he puts in the work this offseason, I could see him making a huge impact in training camp and pre-season, and then sliding right into a regular role on this team.

If David Moore comes back, that’s your top 4 receiver spots right there, leaving us maybe one more for a veteran-minimum guy, or another young gun out on the scrap heap. The Seahawks are fine at receiver; I don’t see a huge need to spend a lot of money here.

***

As for the rest, it’s time to let C.J. Prosise go away and spread his wings. He’s officially spent significant time every season of his NFL career injured. With Carson, Penny, and Homer all returning, there’s no point in bringing Prosise back. Draft another running back if you have to. Or, hell, bring back Turbin or Lynch! Just not Prosise; I can’t take it anymore.

And, yeah, if you want, bring Geno Smith back. I have no problem with that. He should be cheap and hopefully never play, so it’s no skin off my nose. Or, draft a quarterback in the later rounds; who cares?

***

Other than Britt, the only possible cut I see on the offense is Ed Dickson, which should go without saying. He’s played in 10 games (including playoffs) in his two full years here in Seattle. He’s set to count nearly $4 million against the cap; we’d save approximately $3 million by cutting him. It’s a no-brainer.

As for possible early extensions, the only real candidate is Chris Carson, but I would caution strongly against it. 2020 is the final year of his deal and he’s earning less than $1 million. He’s also proven to be injury prone, as well as fumble prone, so I would not pour a ton of money into him. If he’s looking for money in the $5-10 million range, let him seek it elsewhere. If he holds out of training camp and the pre-season in 2020, let him. DRAFT ANOTHER RUNNING BACK. A big one, in the Carson/Lynch mold. Don’t tie your future to Carson, it won’t end well!

***

All in all, I like what the Seahawks have going on offense. I don’t think they really need to shake it up all that much in the skill position area. Little tweaks here and there, plus some depth through the draft should be fine.

The Seahawks have around $68.5 million in cap space, minus around $10 million or so for incidentals (dead money, practice squad, draft picks, IR, incentives, etc.). I feel like most of that needs to go towards the defensive line, with a good chunk set aside for our offensive line (to either keep what we’ve got together, or find quality replacements in free agency). The worst thing we can do is put a bunch of money into bringing in new receivers and running backs; let Russell Wilson carry that burden. Worry more about the lines.

I know I can sound like I’m down on the Seahawks, but it’s not like we’re the Browns or Lions or Dolphins. We’re not a team in total peril. But, we still need to make a lot of moves and hit on those moves if we want to be a legitimate championship contender, and not a wild card team just happy to be playing on the road in the Divisional Round. The only thing more frustrating than that is being 8-8 every year, and quite frankly I don’t think we’re too far off from that either.

Wasting Russell Wilson’s prime should be a crime punishable by death. Let’s hope we get this thing figured out, because it’s not like the NFC West is getting any easier.

The 2019 Seahawks Have Yet To Play A Really Great, Complete Game Of Football This Season

This is a weird Seahawks team that’s currently heading into the Divisional Round of the playoffs. This is going to be a Memory Lane post about the Seahawks, so let’s take a little trip.

The 2018 Seahawks were a very pleasant surprise, considering a lot of people thought this team would be starting a massive decline phase after our Championship Window closed, but we won 10 games and were a 5-seed in the NFC. That team was a lot like this year’s version, except I would argue we’re MAYBE a little better this year. That being said, they still had a dominant 27-3 win over Oakland in London as probably their most complete win of the season.

The 2016 season was the last time we made it this far in the playoffs; that was the aforementioned closing of the Championship Window for this team under Pete Carroll. After a somewhat rocky start, we had really significant victories over Carolina (40-7) and later the Rams (24-3) down the stretch to propel us into the second round of the playoffs.

We had plenty of lopsided victories throughout our major run from 2012-2015. Sometimes they come early; usually we get one or two late. But, this team almost always finds a way to put a complete, 60-minute game together in all three phases.

Yet, here we are, heading to Green Bay this Sunday, and 2019 is severely and bafflingly lacking.

It’s not for lack of cupcake opponents, either! The Bengals won 2 games; they have the number one pick in 2020; they played us to the bitter end on our own field and only lost by a single point. The Panthers and Cardinals both won only 5 games; we won in Carolina by less than a touchdown, and we actually GAVE Arizona one of their victories (again, on our home field) by two touchdowns. Cleveland, Tampa, and Atlanta were all on our schedule, and all were 1-score victories for the Seahawks.

The closest we get to a real DOMINATING performance by the Seahawks is either our victory in Carolina (where we were up 30-10 in the fourth quarter before a rash of injuries allowed them to pull it close in the final minutes – with an opportunity to win had we punted back to them on our final drive) or our 27-10 victory down in Arizona in Week 4, which was the only game we won all season that was more than a 1-score game (we LOST three games by more than a single score, and it’s pretty easy to find games where we were simply out-classed).

I won’t downplay that victory over Arizona – it was the only reason why we ended up with a positive point-differential this season, after all – as I wrote the next day, the game was never seriously in doubt. But, there was something less-than-satisfying about the 17-point victory. As unsatisfying as it can be to win by 3 scores, anyway.

For starters, we were up against a rookie quarterback making just the fourth start of his career. #1 overall pick or not, that’s a game you should win. Primarily, though, that Cardinals defense was truly atrocious, and as I wrote about in my post-game blog post, we left points on the field.

It was 20-10 in the fourth quarter when we got the ball back, and that’s with the Cardinals missing two make-able field goals in the first half. It took an 8-minute clock-killing touchdown drive to give the game its final score; had we mucked it up there, who knows where the game ends up?

That’s a far cry from the 58-0 shellacking we gave the Cards back in 2012 (followed by a 50-17 drubbing in Buffalo, followed by a 42-13 dismantling of the eventual Super Bowl participating 49ers … ahh those were the days).

The most points we scored in 2019 was 40 against the Bucs, and we needed every one of them as that was an overtime thriller that required us to come back from 14 points down late in the second quarter.

The fewest points we’ve given up this year was 9, both against a broken and beaten-up Eagles team; and we could only muster 17 on offense each time to get the W’s.

Part of me has obviously belabored the same point: this is TOTALLY unsustainable. We can’t continue to win close game after close game. And, when you figure our opponents only get better from here, the odds of us putting together a complete, 60-minute game in all three phases feels like slim-to-none.

What’s most galling is that these Seahawks CLEARLY have the potential to have gotten this done. At full strength, on paper, these Seahawks are one of the best 8 teams in the league, and that’s proven out with this playoff run. The problem is, the Seahawks have rarely been at full strength, especially when you factor in the “on paper” aspect.

On paper, Jarran Reed was coming off of a 10-sack season; he missed the first six weeks to suspension, took a while to get going, and ultimately never lived up to that lofty ideal. On paper, Ziggy Ansah was supposed to – ideally – give us at least 75% of what Frank Clark did last year; he started the season injured and turned out to be totally finished for his NFL career. On paper AND on the field, Jadeveon Clowney has produced like a guy deserving of $20+ million a season, but he’s dealt with injury issues of his own (that currently still plague him to at least a moderate degree) and missed some games here and there. Injuries to Diggs and Griffin in the secondary killed any chances we had of winning the NFC West and a first round BYE. Our tight end room has been reduced to rubble at times. I’m still convinced everyone on our O-Line has been playing through injuries, and now those chickens are coming home to roost with our older veterans – Brown and Iupati – starting to wear down and miss game time. David Moore missed time early in the season; Malik Turner and Jaron Brown have missed time late; and Josh Gordon was a whirlwind affair that blew up in our faces spectacularly.

The point is, there hasn’t been a single game this season where we’ve been anywhere near full strength; there’s always been at least one or two or a half dozen guys out with injury or suspension or playing through some stuff. But, of course, you can say that about every team. And yet, look through the playoffs at the remaining teams and you’re bound to find at least one or two super-dominating performances.

Look no further than the supposedly-mediocre Packers and you’ll find their schedule littered with double-digit victories.

So, while that part of me feels like we missed our chance to put it all together, there’s a teeny, tiny part of me that kinda sorta feels like we might be due. I know that’s dumb, and prior results have no bearing on future performance. But, this is an 11-win Seahawks team playing in the Divisional Round of the playoffs; SURELY we can do better than a 17-point victory over a God-awful Cardinals team in the first month of the season as our Signature Victory.

Most likely not. But, I’d still like to think so. For what it’s worth – barring any setbacks in practice this week (or any more failed drug tests, etc.) – we should be as healthy as can be heading into this Sunday. There apparently weren’t any setbacks with our most important defenders; Clowney, Diggs, and Wagner all made it through okay. Ansah’s season is probably over, but he also wasn’t giving us anything anyway. Duane Brown is a big question mark – and he’s sorely missed – but Mike Iupati is trending in the right direction, which is huge for our running game and our interior pass protection. His presence should make George Fant’s life easier on the edge. Hollister and Willson are a great duo at tight end, and it looks like at least Jaron Brown will be back this week for a little more help outside (particularly in run blocking at the receiver position). And, sure, the running back room is still in shambles, but Lynch continues to look better each and every week, and figures to have enough game prep under his belt to make more of an impact than the 28% of snaps he played against the Eagles. I know the Packers also sport a stout run defense, but with Lynch more involved, we should certainly see better rush numbers in this one.

Look, if it’s ever going to happen – if we’re ever going to have that bonzer, soul-crushing performance – it would have to be this week. I’m beyond ready to expect this will just never happen for the Seahawks this season, but you never know.

I’m No Good At Titles & The Seahawks Won Their Wildcard Matchup Against The Eagles

I had this weekend ALL wrong!

I’ll tell you this much: I legitimately thought the Saints were one of the top two teams in the NFC and that they were going to KILL the Vikings. For what it’s worth, if that was Vikings at Seahawks, I still think Seattle prevails, but the outcome has me thinking twice a little bit. Maybe the Saints are Playoff Cursed?

No matter, because the Seahawks went into Philly and came out on top, just like we all knew they would, right guys?! We’re all on the right side of history in this argument!

I will say this much: I’m VERY happy that the Vikings did win, because I would MUCH rather they be cannon-fodder for the 49ers next week over us. I think the 49ers win that game by three scores EASILY; they’re super healthy across the board, well-rested, and have a team flying halfway across the country on a short week with a quarterback who is 1 for a million in big games (happy for Cousins and all that, but one win doesn’t automatically wipe out his entire broken reputation).

Anyway, let’s tarry no further and talk about this Eagles game. In a lot of ways, it went according to expectations; but a few key spots were totally unpredictable.

Let’s start here; I feel like I need to get an “I Told You So” out of the way to boost my confidence: the Seahawks’ rushing attack was truly abysmal. If you take away Wilson’s scrambling (which he could have in most every game if he really wanted), the Seahawks’ running backs (Homer primarily, Lynch secondarily, and Turbin never) ran 17 times for 19 yards and a touchdown. Homer had one 12-yard rush; his other 10 carries went for a combined 0 yards. Lynch had that one MAMMOTH 5-yard TD rush, but even Beastmode could only muster 2 additional yards on his subsequent 5 carries.

Fletcher Cox easily made the biggest impact for the Eagles and it’s not even close; he was the second-most important player in this game behind Jadeveon Clowney (who we’ll get to later). It obviously hurt the Seahawks to be out Duane Brown (replaced by George Fant), Mike Iupati (replaced by Jamarco Jones), and Justin Britt (replaced by Joey Hunt), but even D.J. Fluker was getting pushed around (or, at best, stonewalled) by Cox and his wrecking crew on that front four. I’ve always known Cox was great, but MAN was he impressive in this one; he was a man possessed, and he didn’t seem to take a single play off. As a Seahawks blogger, I don’t tend to write a lot about opposing players, but I have to tip my cap to him; he almost single-handedly ruined the Seahawks’ season.

The Seahawks scored 17 points, so obviously the offense didn’t do a whole helluva lot, but there were three key aspects to the Seahawks’ success:

  1. The Seahawks didn’t turn the ball over
  2. The Seahawks were 8/15 on third down
  3. Russell Fucking Wilson

There were actually no turnovers in this game, period (which was odd, considering the start, where both offenses put the ball on the turf only to recover their own fumbles), so even one bad throw or mis-handled snap could’ve really swung the entire season. I hate to say it (especially considering Homer almost bonered it in the first possession), but NOT having Chris Carson might’ve made all the difference! Look, I love the guy as much as anyone, but he CLEARLY never fixed his fumbling problem (he had three in his first three games of the season, was clean for a while, then had a 3-game stretch where he lost the ball 4 times – but the opposing team only recovered 1 of them, which is pretty fortunate).

The success on third down was doubly-great because we were in 3rd & Long so many times! Some of that was luck/poor tackling on the Eagles’ part, but most of that was Russell Wilson flat out making plays. So, let’s get to him.

325 yards on 18/30 (for a 10.8 average) with a TD and a 108.3 passer rating. Add on 45 rushing yards on 9 scrambles, and we’re talking about the guy who was once the frontrunner for the MVP this season. He wasn’t perfect; there was an overthrow here and there, but he was as close to it as you can get.

It really sunk in as you watched some of these quarterbacks this weekend (and ESPECIALLY throughout the season): if it’s 3rd & 18 or whatever, and the Seahawks have Josh Allen or Ryan Tannehill or maybe 85% of the mediocre-to-crappy quarterbacks in this league, they’re either running a draw play or a screen pass to the running back, getting anywhere from 5-10 yards, and punting. Now, say what you will about the play calling (it was growing more and more alarming every time the Seahawks ran the ball after a penalty on 2nd & 20, I’ll admit it), but we’re not afraid to put the ball in Wilson’s hands when we’re behind the sticks, our backs are against the wall, and we need an incredible play. He’s the reason why you pay a quarterback $30+ million per season. He’ll get the job done when 90-95% of the rest of the league will fail in those same situations.

It was a low-key special performance by Wilson that will largely be forgotten to the sands of time, especially when you factor in this was D.K. Metcalf’s Coming Out Party.

I’ve been extremely high on Metcalf ever since we drafted him. Most talent evaluators (including the other 31 teams in the league) focused on the negatives in his repertoire, but I’ve known all along that his skillset fits this team and this quarterback perfectly. As has been discussed, his rookie season was largely a success, but there have been plenty of ups & downs. This was the first time he really put everything together and showed a glimpse of what he could become: a flat-out superstar in the NFL. 7 catches on 9 targets, 160 yards and a touchdown. The TD was incredible – a 53-yard catch, stumble, get-back-up, and barrel into the endzone – but his game-sealing 36-yard reception on 3rd & 10, with the Eagles holding only 1 time out on the wrong side of the 2-minute warning, was the reason you brought him in here in the first place. One-on-one coverage, no safeties deep, you absolutely need to convert that to win the game, otherwise you punt it away for the chance to tie, and he high-pointed the ball and came down with the W. Simply outstanding.

I was probably least-sure about the Seahawks’ defense in this one, but this was a classic performance by these guys.

Clowney was a total difference-maker; we haven’t seen him play this well since the 49ers game in Week 10. He filled up the stat sheet with 5 tackles, a sack, 2 tackles for loss, and one very memorable quarterback hit.

You can’t talk about this game without talking about Carson Wentz getting injured in the first quarter, leaving the game with a head injury, being replaced by a 40 year old Josh McCown who came out of retirement to be this team’s backup. We’ll never know if the Eagles would’ve won with Wentz in there for the full game, but I have to imagine at the very least that he would’ve found a way to at least get them in the endzone one time. As it stands, McCown was okay, but he was clearly over his skis; he threw for 174 yards on 18/24 passing and most importantly 0 turnovers. But, he also suffered 6 of the 7 sacks the Seahawks got in this one (after we had the second-fewest in the league in the regular season) and was clearly a little gimpy, having to run for his life most of the day.

The Seahawks’ pass rush really showed up on a day the team desperately needed it. It wasn’t any one man, either, as 6 different guys combined for the 7 total. Of course, that was a byproduct of the Eagles also suffering a number of injuries on their O-Line, but clearly the Seahawks were better able to cope (as Wilson only had the one).

Seattle has Wilson and that’s a definite leg up over the rest of the NFC, but we’ll only go as far as this defense can take us, and that means having all of our key guys healthy and playing at the top of their games. Clowney sure showed up. Bobby Wagner showed why he’s yet again an All Pro this season. And, Quandre Diggs – first game back since his high ankle sprain – showed why he’s so important to this defense. The longest reception by an Eagles player went for 32 yards to Ertz, but there was nothing over the top, and obviously they never saw the endzone. We’ll never know for sure how many of the sacks were due to tight coverage, but it’s definitely a non-zero number. Diggs allows McDougald to play more closely to the line of scrimmage, to help out in defending the run as well as covering those two great tight ends.

I want to shout out Cody Barton, as he was a guy I highlighted as a major concern before the game. For as much as this team plays base defense – and indeed, he was in there for 75% of the Seahawks’ snaps – he showed why this team loved him throughout the pre-season. He had a sack, 1.5 tackles for loss, and two passes defended in this one as well as an additional QB hit. I saw him do nothing but make play after play, as he finally had a full week to practice at one spot, and this team coached him up to their fullest abilities. If he continues to show out like he did in this one, there’s no doubt he’ll be starting for this defense in 2020.

As I said before, this was a classic defensive performance: bend, don’t break, lots of aggressive penalties, but ultimately keeping the inferior offense out of the endzone and keeping them at 0 for 2 on fourth down (both deep in Seattle territory, on back-to-back possessions in the fourth quarter). This is a similar (but obviously not the exact same, due to injuries) defense that let Brett Hundley march down the field on them in that fakakta Cardinals game, so it was nice to see them stand up when it mattered most.

It all sets us up for the best-possible scenario for the Seahawks, given the circumstances. We avoid the 49ers in the Divisional Round, which I’ve argued all along is of utmost importance. Now, Green Bay is obviously no slouch – and certainly the talking points around Seahawksland will be their terribly-easy schedule this season – but with Aarons Rodgers & Jones, Davante Adams, and a better-than-you’d-think defense, that team is balanced and experienced and, most importantly, at home.

I’m still pretty convinced that the Seahawks will lose in this one, but I’m more willing to give us a chance to score the upset than I would be if we’re going to Santa Clara. Make no mistake, I obviously believe the Seahawks COULD beat the 49ers (we obviously did it once on their home field, and should’ve beaten them twice this season), but it would be too difficult in this particular round of the playoffs: the 49ers are at full strength, with a week off, while we just played a brutal game against a very physical team all the way across the country. If we were to shock the world and upend the Packers, I’d give us a 50/50 shot at beating the 49ers in the Championship Game.

But, to get there, we have to beat a different very good, healthy, well-rested team at home. It’s never easy to win in Green Bay, and it’s especially not easy to beat them there in January. Knocking Aaron Rodgers out of the game almost certainly won’t be on the table, so here’s to hoping there’s a little Russell Wilson Magic left in the tank (we hopefully didn’t need to use it all up in that Eagles game).

These Seahawks Are Hard To Watch

You can call them exciting – the 2019 Seahawks as a whole – but as you can see from last night’s 26-21 defeat, when you have to rely on winning nothing but close games, so much of the outcome is predicated on luck. Jacob Hollister was mere inches away from scoring the game-winning touchdown. The refs – both in the stadium and those watching from New York – totally botched what should’ve been a pass interference penalty in the endzone. The Seahawks were so discombobulated – and so out of time outs – that they were unable to properly get a play called with the ball at the one yard line, resulting in a delay of game. To even get to that point, the Seahawks had to prevent the 49ers from converting a 3rd & 17 and came within one yard of even botching THAT modest task!

When every single little thing has to go your way for you to win a football game, it’s easy to see why – over the long haul – these 1-score games tend to even out over time. The fact of the matter is: the Seahawks peaked with that Monday Night victory over the Vikings. We’ve gone on to lose three out of our last four games. I would argue we were really only competitive in 4 quarters out of those 4 total games, and 3 of those quarters took place in Carolina, before everyone got injured and everything went to shit for this team.

Heading into the game last night, it was firmly decided that the Seahawks would have to play on Wild Card weekend. Had we won, we would’ve been the 3-seed and hosted the Vikings. I know I’m probably in the minority here, but that’s the game I’d rather have, 100%. Going on the road for three straight games – even for a great team, even in a flawed conference – is as hard as it gets in professional sports. But, the Seahawks are NOT a great team. And the NFC isn’t very flawed at the top. The 49ers are elite, the Saints are right up there, and say what you want about the Packers, but they’re – at the very least – hosting a game in January after their BYE week. With Aaron Rodgers at the helm, that’s never an easy task (also, not for nothing, but the 2019 Packers have to be the most under-the-radar playoff BYE team in the last decade, which is exactly the position I was hoping the Seahawks would be in).

But, that’s what you get for losing at home to the Cardinals the week before. You lose any right to a first round BYE. The Seahawks don’t deserve it; they probably never did.

A lot of the frustrations we’ve seen in recent weeks boil down to injuries. You just can’t overcome so many high-profile injuries and hope to compete at the same level as the 49ers or Saints. Duane Brown is a huge loss. Carson, Penny, and Prosise are all huge losses. Quandre Diggs might be the biggest loss of them all. Our entire linebacker corps seems to be banged up and a step slow. Clowney seems to be a shell of the guy who wreaked havoc in the first 49ers game. Ansah never really got going; he was a good idea that never panned out. Al Woods obviously hampers our depth. Tyler Lockett is going through some stuff. Losing Gordon and Malik Turner (and then Jaron Brown) severely weakens our passing game. The drop-off from losing Dissly, Willson, and Ed Dickson (not to mention needing to start Fant on the O-Line, losing his specialness at the tackle-eligible position) has just completely transformed what potential this offense once had. Shaquill Griffin isn’t 100%. I could go on and on, I’m sure.

It’s just gotten to the point where I’m waiting for the season to finally die. Everyone seems to be happier to play the Eagles on the road, but not me. Sure, they’re just as banged up, but are they really that much worse? Given our +7 point differential (vs. their +31), and considering how they came back from the dead to win their last four games and win the NFC East when no one thought they had a chance in Hell, are we really taking that much stock in 2 extra close wins by the Seahawks? Especially when we barely beat them in Philly the last time we played them?

Even if we do get a bunch of our key guys back and somehow prevail, what does that get us? Almost certainly a date in Santa Clara against a rested, healthy, and more importantly BETTER THAN US 49ers team. That’s why this trip to Philly is a death sentence. I don’t care that we went 7-1 on the road this year; that’s an anomaly. That means nothing in the playoffs when you lose and you’re done.

We needed the 49ers to be the 5-seed. We needed them to go on the road. We needed them to almost certainly beat the Eagles and then take out one of the top two seeds, to get one of those teams out of our hair. Hosting the Vikings – who are going nowhere fast – is the obvious better option and it’s asinine that more Seahawks fans don’t realize this.

I would say we’d be better off losing on Sunday, but I don’t know if I could handle the sheer embarrassment of losing to a team as bad as Philly, knowing what I just wrote about how bad the Seahawks have been of late. There’s a way to squint and see the Seahawks get some guys back, gut out a close victory over the Eagles, then go back into Santa Clara to beat the 49ers again. We know them well enough. We’ve beaten them before (we ALMOST beat them twice), we can beat them again. From there, it’s a date with either the Saints or Packers in the NFC Championship Game. At that point, it’s a total toss-up.

As it is every year, the hardest game to win is in the Divisional Round, against superior teams coming off of BYE weeks. Usually – I’d say around 75% of the time – the home teams win in that round, and they win pretty soundly most of the time. Having to go on the road, against the best team in the NFC – who also gave Baltimore everything they could handle – is just not the position you want to be in.

And, that’s why this sucks. Because we’re going to spend the rest of this week – and all of next week, assuming we get over this hurdle – trying to squint our way to an appearance in the Super Bowl, when quite frankly it ain’t gonna happen. We’d almost be better off not making the playoffs at all than being a fucking Wild Card team. This isn’t hockey. This isn’t baseball. This is the NFL, where the Haves beat the Have Nots 9 out of 10 times.

And these Seahawks just don’t have the kind of magic to be one of those 1 out of 10 teams.