Your Seattle Seahawks Super Bowl XLIX Roster

I did this last year, albeit in a different format.  It’s nothing fancy, no real analysis or anything, but it’s just something I’d like to look at (and later, look back on and reflect).

Last year, it was more a reflection of how we crafted our Super Bowl roster (mostly via draft & undrafted free agents).  This year, I thought I’d take a gander at who’s on the team now as it compares to last year’s Super Bowl roster.  As with last year’s post, I’m not including guys who are on IR, or who were on the team earlier in the year and were released or traded.  I’m specifically looking at the guys on the 53-man roster RIGHT NOW.

I reserve the right to come back and adjust this if the Seahawks make any minor moves between now and February 1st.

Let’s start with the offense:

2014 2015
Quarterback 1 Russell Wilson Russell Wilson
Quarterback 2 Tarvaris Jackson Tarvaris Jackson
Quarterback 3 B.J. Daniels
Running Back 1 Marshawn Lynch Marshawn Lynch
Running Back 2 Robert Turbin Robert Turbin
Running Back 3 Christine Michael * Christine Michael
Fullback 1 Michael Robinson Will Tukuafu
Fullback 2 Derrick Coleman
Wide Receiver 1 Golden Tate Doug Baldwin
Wide Receiver 2 Percy Harvin Jermaine Kearse
Wide Receiver 3 Doug Baldwin Ricardo Lockette
Wide Receiver 4 Jermaine Kearse Bryan Walters
Wide Receiver 5 Ricardo Lockette Chris Matthews
Wide Receiver 6 Bryan Walters * Kevin Norwood
Tight End 1 Zach Miller Luke Willson
Tight End 2 Luke Willson Tony Moeaki
Tight End 3 Kellen Davis * Cooper Helfet
Left Tackle Russell Okung Russell Okung
Left Guard James Carpenter James Carpenter
Center Max Unger Max Unger
Right Guard J.R. Sweezy J.R. Sweezy
Right Tackle Breno Giacomini Justin Britt
Guard/Tackle Alvin Bailey Alvin Bailey
Tackle Michael Bowie * Garry Gilliam
Center Lemuel Jeanpierre Lemuel Jeanpierre
Offensive Line Paul McQuistan Patrick Lewis
Offensive Line Caylin Hauptmann * Keavon Milton

* denotes Inactive for Super Bowl

As you can see, from a roster standpoint, we’re carrying the third quarterback for some reason (even though he was inactive for the NFC Championship Game, and will most likely be inactive again for the Super Bowl), whereas last year we carried the extra fullback.  Obviously, Robinson is retired and Coleman is injured, so that’s what happened there.

What stands out the most is the drop-off in quality in the wide receiver department.  The 2015 Seahawks are essentially chopped off at the knees at this position, with Golden Tate and Percy Harvin playing elsewhere.  Baldwin, Kearse, Lockette, and Walters each move up two spots respectively, severely weakening our passing game.  Rookie Norwood was active for the NFCCG, but I would expect him to be inactive if Helfet is healthy.

Speaking of tight ends, another big blow is the loss of Miller.  I like Willson a lot and think he’s taken a big step forward this year (in spite of some infamous drops), but it’s pretty clear we’re hurting.  Moeaki is a fine stand-in, but he’s no Zach Miller.  I’ll be looking forward to all three tight ends as being active – again – if Helfet is healthy.  I think this can be a real mismatch in our favor against the Patriots.

The offensive line is largely the same as last year.  Britt sat out against the Packers with an injury, but I have to figure he’ll be back with the two weeks off to recover.  I think Britt is more-or-less a wash compared to Giacomini (MAYBE a slight downgrade, but in the long run will be a big improvement).  Our depth is pretty solid as well, as four of our reserves have played significant minutes this year.  I’ve still never heard of this Milton guy, so expect him to be inactive.

Now, let’s go with the defense:

2014 2015
Defensive End 1 Chris Clemons Michael Bennett
Defensive End 2 Red Bryant Cliff Avril
Defensive End 3 Michael Bennett O’Brien Schofield
Defensive End 4 Cliff Avril Demarcus Dobbs
Defensive End 5 O’Brien Schofield David King
Defensive End 6 Benson Mayowa *
Defensive Tackle 1 Brandon Mebane Kevin Williams
Defensive Tackle 2 Tony McDaniel Tony McDaniel
Defensive Tackle 3 Clinton McDonald Landon Cohen
Defensive Tackle 4 Jordan Hill *
Outside Linebacker K.J. Wright K.J. Wright
Middle Linebacker Bobby Wagner Bobby Wagner
Outside Linebacker Bruce Irvin Bruce Irvin
Linebacker 4 Malcolm Smith Malcolm Smith
Linebacker 5 Mike Morgan Mike Morgan
Linebacker 6 Heath Farwell Brock Coyle
Cornerback 1 Richard Sherman Richard Sherman
Cornerback 2 Byron Maxwell Byron Maxwell
Cornerback 3 Walter Thurmond Jeremy Lane
Cornerback 4 Jeremy Lane DeShawn Shead
Cornerback 5 DeShawn Shead Tharold Simon
Cornerback 6 Marcus Burley
Free Safety 1 Earl Thomas Earl Thomas
Free Safety 2 Chris Maragos Steven Terrell
Strong Safety 1 Kam Chancellor Kam Chancellor
Strong Safety 2 Jeron Johnson
Long Snapper Clint Gresham Clint Gresham
Punter Jon Ryan Jon Ryan
Kicker Steven Hauschka Steven Hauschka

* denotes Inactive for Super Bowl

As you can see, we’re carrying two fewer linemen and two more defensive backs.  Injuries have hurt us bigtime in the defensive line department, but depth has been an issue all year with our DBs, as it seems like we’re dealing with nagging injuries on a weekly basis in our secondary.

Along the line, we’re hurting bad.  Clemons and Bryant are obviously gone, so Bennett and Avril moved up into their places.  From a quality of play standpoint, this is an improvement.  But, from a depth standpoint, it’s not pretty.  Jordan Hill was a positive contributor this year until he got hurt.  Kevin Williams has been a godsend with Mebane going down.  McDaniel is as steady as they come.  And, Cohen is a widebody who played some key snaps against the Packers in our goalline package.  It’s our pass rush that I’m most concerned about, with Schofield essentially replacing Clemons from last year, which is indeed a step down.  Bruce Irvin will be key in this regard, as he’s looking a lot better when he rushes the passer.

Our linebackers are largely intact, as our top 5 are all holdovers from last year.  Coyle replaces Farwell, and from my naked eye, I haven’t seen a huge downturn in our special teams coverage.

Our secondary is still our strongest unit.  The only real change is Simon for Thurmond.  Thurmond was more versatile, but Simon is cheaper, under team control for longer, and is better on the outside.

I would argue we’re actually stronger in the secondary this year compared to last year.  Linebacking, offensive line, running backs, quarterbacks, and specialists (kicker/punter/long snapper) are all a wash.  We’re a bit worse in our tight ends and at fullback.  And, we’re A LOT worse along the defensive line and in our wide receiver group.  I may come back to this when the season is over, to compare & contrast 2013’s overall roster to 2014’s, but suffice it to say, we’re not as good of a team as we were last year.  That was to be expected, so it’s not like I’m telling you anything that’s untrue or shocking.  How much worse, I guess, depends on how the Super Bowl turns out.

Either way, as the years go on, we’re REALLY going to marvel at how good that 2013 team was.  To run out a squad with that amount of talent and depth is about as awe-inspiring as it gets.

For the Super Bowl, unless injuries are a factor, here’s my prediction for the seven inactives:

  1. B.J. Daniels – QB
  2. Christine Michael – RB
  3. Kevin Norwood – WR
  4. Keavon Milton – OL
  5. Patrick Lewis – C
  6. David King – DE
  7. Marcus Burley – CB

It was a struggle down there at the bottom.  In theory, you’d want to keep King active to give yourself another pass rusher, but really, how many can you have on the field at once?  I think Cohen gives you more value, especially if the Patriots make a concerted effort to run the ball with Blount.  I thought about keeping Burley active as well – what with Sherman and Thomas playing through injury, you may want more depth in the secondary – but he seems to be the low man on the totem pole right now.

Obviously, this changes as the injury reports start coming out.  Guys to watch out for here are obviously Britt and Helfet, as well as Terrell and Johnson in the secondary.  But, for now, my official guess at the inactives is what I’ve listed above.

Raiders Hang Around With Seahawks For A While, Wackiness Ensues

You can certainly look at this game and think, “Well, here we go again.”  On the year, after half a season, the Seahawks have exactly one dominant win.  That was over the Green Bay Packers way back in week 1.  And, since they can’t all be night games at home, the team has struggled ever since.

A close victory over the likes of the Broncos is acceptable, because the Broncos are a very good team.  But, a close victory over the Raiders?  The winless Raiders?  The winless Raiders in your own home stadium?

No good.  After the struggles this team has had, all we needed was a walk-over victory.  Where our talent just steamrolls them into submission.  In the first half – in spite of some offensive struggles – it looked like we were going to get exactly that:  24-3 after two quarters.  Things were nice and cool and relaxing.  The defense was swarming all over the place, creating turnovers and short fields – even scoring on a pick six from Bruce Irvin!  It should have been smooth sailing with a 3-touchdown lead going into the second half, but it was anything but.

Let’s start with this:  the special teams are a disaster right now.  For that, you can blame injuries.  Injuries and, quite frankly, a loss of key personnel in the offseason like Heath Farwell and Chris Maragos.  I know we all thought we could get by without these two guys, but it’s abundantly clear we cannot.

Hopefully, some of these younger guys start to step up, but I’ll tell you this much:  Brock Coyle was responsible for the blocked punt early in the third quarter that led to a Raiders touchdown.  That can’t happen.  You can’t let a guy run up the gut untouched!

Later on in the same quarter, we had a Jon Ryan punt for 39 yards.  Again, completely unacceptable.  We’re trying to get out from our own end on that play, and not only does the MVP fail to get enough distance or height on his kick, but the return team lets their man return it another 27 yards to the Seattle 30 yard line, for a net of 12 yards.  Where’s this great coverage that was going to set the single-season record for fewest return yards allowed last year?  That was pitiful!  I won’t blame a defense for giving up a touchdown when the other team only needs 30 yards, I just won’t.

Really, you could say the special teams was responsible for 14 of their 24 points yesterday.  But, that doesn’t absolve the offense of settling for too many field goals and otherwise just doing a poor job of moving the ball consistently.

Russell Wilson had another poor game.  He missed some throws, was high on some others, and finished the game completing less than 50% of his passes.  The play-calling was a little suspect as well.  The wide receiver screen has to go.  You can call it “poor execution” if you want, but obviously we don’t have the guys to make this play work.  Not only that, but we throw it so much that everyone is expecting it at this point.  If it’s not going to be effective with Percy Harvin, what makes you think it’s going to work with Doug Baldwin?  I like Baldwin and everything, but come on now!

The offensive line was a God damn trainwreck, but what do you expect with Okung, Carpenter, Unger, and Schilling all missing parts or the entirety of the game yesterday?  Who would’ve imagined our O-Line being WORSE than it was last year?  For the record, I’m of the opinion that the Seahawks are better off not re-signing any of these guys once their contracts come up.  Okung has proven he will never be capable of finishing a whole season.  Ditto Max Unger.  And the less said about Carpenter, the better.  We’d be better off with a whole new left side of the line rather than retaining these stiffs beyond their current deals.

Ironically, the only guy who showed up to play yesterday was Marshawn Lynch, who’s supposedly so disgruntled and such a “problem” that the team has all but declared he won’t be back next season.  Yeah, good luck in 2015 without your workhorse.

On the defensive side of the ball, I liked what I saw for the most part.  It got a little scary at the end, but overall I thought they had a good game.  Irvin had the aforementioned pick-six on a nifty little deal where he tipped the ball up in the air to himself.  Richard Sherman had his first interception of the season on an ill-advised back-shoulder throw down the sideline (or, the 2013 Richard Sherman Special).  We even managed to recover a fumble off of a kickoff return!  Tack on the fact that we held them to 226 yards of offense and only 37 yards rushing, and I’d say overall it was an effort on par with last year’s championship squad.

On a closer note, I’d be interested to see how many times Tharold Simon was targeted.  On the day, he had 1 tackle and 1 pass defended, which is pretty good for a corner.  Just watching the game and not really keeping close track, it didn’t look like they targeted him more than 1-2 times.  He could be a nice little Byron Maxwell replacement going forward.  Awesome to see as Jeremy Lane returns from injury this week.

Cliff Avril had our lone sack and two more hits on the quarterback.  Michael Bennett had at least one hit on the quarterback, but that hit was a 15-yard facemask penalty, so I guess it doesn’t count.  Nevertheless, after the first drive, I thought we got decent pressure throughout the game.

Offensively, I can only acknowledge Marshawn Lynch’s contribution:  67 yards on the ground, 76 yards through the air on 5 receptions.  Two touchdowns overall.  He’s just crushing it this year.  If it’s his last as a Seahawk, it’s nice to see he’s going out on top.

The Seahawks are now 5-3.  If you had asked us before the season, “Would you take a 5-3 record after 8 games?” I know each and every one of us would have said, “Fuck no!  That’s a terrible record for a championship team!”  But, here we are, finally at the halfway point.  Still waiting for our second dominant victory of the season.

Looking Ahead To YOUR 2014 Seattle Seahawks

This was me last year.  I predicted the Seahawks would go 13-3, take the #1 seed in the NFC, and beat the Broncos in the Super Bowl.  Last year’s NFL season was so easy to predict, I actually managed to correctly guess 2 of the Seahawks’ 3 losses (Indy & at SF, with my lone boner being the Atlanta game).  Of course, when you’re predicting the fortunes of a team this good, it’s hard to be wrong.  Just pick the Seahawks to win every game and you’re bound to be mostly right!

These Seahawks aren’t too different from the 2013 Seahawks.  Off the top of my head (so, forgive me if I forget a few), here are the players no longer on the roster, who had at least a minor impact on last year’s championship squad:

  • Golden Tate (#1 receiver)
  • Michael Robinson (fullback)
  • Paul McQuistan (guard/tackle)
  • Breno Giacomini (starting right tackle)
  • Kellen Davis (3rd tight end)
  • Sidney Rice (receiver)
  • Michael Bowie (guard/tackle depth)
  • Chris Clemons (starting LEO defensive end)
  • Red Bryant (starting 5-tech defensive end)
  • Brandon Browner (starting cornerback)
  • Walter Thurmond (nickel cornerback)
  • Clinton McDonald (backup defensive tackle)
  • Chris Maragos (backup safety)
  • Heath Farwell (IR) (backup linebacker)

On paper, that looks like a lot.  But, it’s pretty easy to spot which players were REALLY important to our success in 2013, and which players were sort of along for the ride.

Golden Tate is obviously the biggest blow.  He was our top receiver and punt returner.  He’s playing for Detroit now and should put up monster numbers while playing alongside Calvin Johnson.  His loss is mitigated somewhat by having a fully healthy Percy Harvin.  If Harvin can play all or the majority of games in 2014, it’s pretty easy to make the argument that our passing game (and offense as a whole) should actually IMPROVE.  Yes, Tate is a good player, but Harvin is on a completely different level of greatness.

Our offensive line depth took some big hits, and that’s going to be a concern.  No doubt about it.  I’d go out on a limb and say losing Paul McQuistan is addition by subtraction, though.  He’s getting up there in age and probably shouldn’t be an everyday starter going forward.  His best position is guard, but he was also our backup left tackle last year when Okung went down.  As a tackle, McQuistan is THE WORST.  So, not having him around to tempt the coaches into starting him when Okung ultimately gets hurt again is probably for the best.

Michael Bowie was always a depth guy last year, who got some serious playing time with all the injuries we suffered.  He was going to contend for the starting right tackle spot this year – and many had penciled him in as the favorite coming into Training Camp.  But, what no one expected was Bowie coming into camp overweight and/or out of shape, as well as injured.  He was ultimately released and the starting right tackle job has been given to rookie 2nd rounder Justin Britt.  In the long run, going with Britt now hopefully will prove to be the smart choice.  But, in the short term, we’re probably going to feel the sting of losing Giacomini.  I really liked him and thought he was solid when healthy.  But, again, you can’t afford to pay everyone, and you’ve got to get younger whenever possible to keep the roster fresh and vibrant (and to be able to afford expensive extensions to your stars).  I think by season’s end, Britt will have made us all forget about Giacomini’s reign of terror.  But, in the early going, it could be rough.

No one is worried about losing Sidney Rice, because he never really impacted this roster to the extent his contract would have dictated.  Jermaine Kearse is more than capable of picking up the slack.  Michael Robinson was on his last legs, plus fullback isn’t an important position.  Ditto the third tight end spot.  So, that rounds out the losses to our offense.

Defensively, our line took a big hit.  Clemons and Bryant were both starters and were both critical to stopping opposing offenses from running the ball.  McDonald was a pleasant surprise, capable of generating good pressure on the quarterback with our second unit.  Being able to interchange our linemen so frequently ultimately helped keep everyone fresh and healthy when it came time to make our playoff run.

In their place, Michael Bennett was extended; he’ll play a bigger role.  Cliff Avril will move into the starting LEO spot.  Kevin Williams was signed as a free agent.  In his prime, Williams was one of the best defensive tackles in the league.  He’s older now, but with reduced snaps – and playing alongside the elite talent we’ve got – he should prove to at least be as effective as McDonald.

Where we’re really going to be tested is in our depth.  Last year, our second-unit defensive line featured Bennett and Avril (it was truly an embarrassment of riches).  This year, they’re starting, and we’ve got to find replacements.  Cassius Marsh is a promising rookie out of the 4th round who can play on the end and on the inside.  But, he’s been dinged up quite a bit in the pre-season, so durability is in question.  Greg Scruggs is back and healthy this year, but he didn’t show a whole helluva lot in the pre-season.  It looks like he can play both outside & inside as well, but I don’t know if he’s any good at either.  O’Brien Schofield was one of the biggest surprises in camp, as he fought off Benson Mayowa for one of the final roster spots.  Schofield was on the team last year, but didn’t get a whole lot of playing time (and didn’t really deserve a whole lot of playing time, considering the talent around him).  He was signed away by the Giants in the offseason, but they ended up backing out of the deal, worried about possible injuries.  So, the Seahawks swooped in and re-signed him to a small number; he could be the steal of the off-season!  I have to imagine he’s the backup LEO behind Avril at this point, with the potential to join our NASCAR defense and play on the same line as Avril, Bennett, and either Marsh or Williams, with Irvin coming from the linebacker spot.

No, we’re not as deep as we were last year, but it could be close enough if Schofield shows up to play.

We have similar depth issues with our secondary as well.  We ultimately lost Browner and Thurmond for long stretches late in the season last year, but we found that Byron Maxwell was more than up to the task of being the starting cornerback opposite Richard Sherman.  Maxwell is back – on the last year of his deal – so we should be okay there.  But, again, the depth has taken a hit.

With Thurmond gone, Jeremy Lane steps up.  I like Lane and think he has the potential to be as good or better than Thurmond; but, right now Lane is injured, so that’s troubling.  Tharold Simon was a rookie last year and never played thanks to injuries.  He looks to be back and healthy now (though, like Lane, he’s suffering through some nagging something or other at the moment), and he also looks capable of being another in a long line of productive outside cornerbacks.  Where we’re light is in the nickel corner spot, which is why we recently traded for Marcus Burley for a 6th round pick in next year’s draft.  I know pretty much nothing about him, but apparently he had a pretty good camp this year.  And, apparently he’s pretty fast and super athletic.

I’m less inclined to worry about the secondary than the D-Line, because our starters are intact.  And our backup safeties are top-notch, with DeShawn Shead and Jeron Johnson.  Shead, especially, can play both the safety and corner spots, so in a pinch we can totally put Shead in the nickel and be fine.

With our linebackers healthy and peaking at the right time, we should be just fine on defense.  Yes, we lost Farwell – who was our special teams captain – but we picked up Brock Coyle, an undrafted rookie, who could be Farwell 2.0.

***

So, those were the primary changes between 2013 and 2014.  Next, we’ll look at what’s the same.

When I was younger, I would’ve taken the position that:  if you’ve got a championship team, just keep that team together for as long as possible.  Indeed, the 95/96 Supersonics were a championship-calibre team (they just ran into the buzz-saw that was the greatest team of all time, with those Jordan/Pippen/Rodman 72-win Chicago Bulls).  If the 96/97 Sonics wouldn’t have tinkered so much (like signing Jim McIlvaine to a monster contract), they could’ve made serious runs at a title for the next 2-3 years.  Same goes for the 1995 Mariners.  Just keep that team together and make some moderate improvements to the pitching staff.  DON’T trade Tino Martinez and Jeff Nelson to the fucking Yankees and hand them a million championships!

But, there’s one main difference between the NBA/MLB and the NFL:  keeping the team intact for too long will ultimately kill your franchise in football.  The shelf life for good-to-great baskeball and baseball players is WAY longer than it is in football.  In the NFL, if you’re approaching 30, you’re approaching retirement.  The ideal scenario in the NFL is to get young, coach those young players into being stars, and then constantly churn about 20% of your roster every year, where you’re shipping off the older players and infusing with young talent through the draft (or among the undrafted).

Could the Seahawks have retained Golden Tate, Chris Clemons, Red Bryant, and Breno Giacomini?  Yeah, I think I can envision a scenario where we make it all work for at least one more year.  But, then we wouldn’t have gotten the team-friendly extensions for Earl Thomas, Richard Sherman, Michael Bennett, and Doug Baldwin.  We wouldn’t be in a position to make Russell Wilson one of the highest-paid quarterbacks in the league next year.  Getting those guys done early (not counting Bennett, who was an unrestricted free agent at the time) is supremely important (as you can see by the subsequent cornerback deals for Patrick Peterson and the like, which were higher than what we ended up giving Sherman).

Yes, there were some losses to the roster.  There will always be losses to the roster.  Teams have to make important decisions each and every year.  Next year, we’re looking at the possibility of not having Marshawn Lynch, Zach Miller, James Carpenter, K.J. Wright, Malcolm Smith, and Cliff Avril around.  I would anticipate at least a few of those players WILL be here, but that’s life in the NFL.  You never know.

Most importantly to the Seahawks chances in 2014 will be who is still around.  This is still a MONSTER of a lineup:

  • Russell Wilson (QB)
  • Marshawn Lynch (RB)
  • Percy Harvin (WR)
  • Doug Baldwin (WR)
  • Jermaine Kearse (WR)
  • Zach Miller (TE)
  • Luke Willson (TE)
  • Robert Turbin (RB)
  • Christine Michael (RB)

And those are just the skill position players!  Our offensive line is 4/5 intact (and looking MUCH improved at the guard positions, with Carpenter in the “best shape of his life” and with Sweezy having bulked up while still retaining his athleticism).  And, we’ve got a couple rookie receivers who may not make much of an impact this season, but who should prove to be important for many years to come.

Then, on defense, you’re looking at:

  • Michael Bennett (DE/DT)
  • Cliff Avril (DE)
  • Brandon Mebane (NT)
  • Tony McDaniel (DT/DE)
  • Bobby Wagner (MLB)
  • K.J. Wright (OLB)
  • Bruce Irvin (OLB
  • Malcolm Smith (OLB)
  • Richard Sherman (CB)
  • Earl Thomas (FS)
  • Kam Chancellor (SS)
  • Byron Maxwell (CB)

I’d still put that defense up against any other defense in the NFL.  Depth will be an issue, but depth is an issue pretty much everywhere, every year.  This is still a Top 5 defense unless we just get absolutely crushed with injuries.

***

Now, it’s time for my favorite part of any preview post:  predicting the schedule results.

Week 1, vs. Green Bay, 5:30pm (Thursday Game)

I go back and forth on this one.  Like, 85% of me believes this will be a comfortable Seahawks victory.  14% of me believes this will be a nailbiter of a Seahawks victory.  And, that last 1% seems to think that Green Bay can come in here, withstand all the craziness, and pull off a huge upset.

Are you kidding?  A week’s worth of build-up.  The city shutting down large areas of SoDo and Pioneer Square.  A pre-game concert.  THE UNVEILING OF THE CHAMPIONSHIP BANNER!  All of that alone would be enough to have the loudest 12th Man presence in the history of the world, but I expect there to be a hidden edge to this game.  The NFL cursed us with this game being the only home game played at night.  They’d have you believe that’s just the way it shook out, but I’m CONVINCED it’s because we keep crushing our opponents whenever we have a night game at home, and they’re tired of televising blowouts.  With this being our only chance to shine on a national stage (unless we somehow have one of our late-season games flexed), I think the 12th Man is going to take it to another level.  Look for this to be somewhere in the range of 38-17, Seahawks.

Week 2, at San Diego, 1:05pm

The schedule this year will be famous for the difficult first three games and the difficult final five games.  This has “Trap Game” written all over it.  Hangover from our season-opening win, combined with a rematch of the Super Bowl NEXT week back at home.  Considering the Chargers should be plenty good this year, I’m not calling this one a walk-over by any stretch.  In fact, I could see this being pretty high-scoring.  In the end, I think the Seahawks are able to do just enough to pull out a 33-30 victory.

Week 3, vs. Denver, 1:25pm

No chance.  No way, no how we lose this game.  I do think we’re looking at a closer contest, but that’s only because I think the Broncos’ defense has improved enough to warrant it.  Losing Wes Welker to suspension certainly hurts the Broncos.  Indeed, I think they’ll try to lean on their running game like they did in the pre-season.  How our defense responds will be key.  The Seahawks still win, but we’re looking at a 24-20 type game.

Week 4 – BYE

Bullshit.  Complete and utter bullshit.  I would’ve rather had the alternate NFL schedule that put the Seahawks on the road for three straight weeks over having a BYE in September.  For the record, NO team should have a BYE week in September.  They should all be clustered in late October and early November, to make it fair for everyone.  Either that, or break down and give every team two BYE weeks per year, because this shit is ridiculous.

Week 5, at Washington, 5:30pm (Monday Night)

If the NFL didn’t want to televise blowout Seahawks victories, they probably shouldn’t have put this game on the schedule.  Indeed, there appears to be a lot of dogs when it comes to the Monday Night slate this year; don’t know how that worked itself out, but I’d be pissed if I ran ESPN.  The Redskins don’t have a defense that can anywhere REMOTELY hang with our speed.  44-10, Seahawks victory.

Week 6, vs. Dallas, 1:25pm

This game is my wet dream.  A pass-first offense without a bona fide slot receiver and a shaky quarterback who takes too many chances?  If Richard Sherman doesn’t get his hands on at least 8 balls (interceptions, tips, etc.), I’ll be shocked.  35-17 Seahawks (and that’s only because it’s going to be 28-3 at halftime and we end up running out the clock in the second half; we could probably drop 50 on them if we tried for the full game).

Week 7, at St. Louis, 10am

The League did do us one favor with the schedule:  we’ve only got three 10am starts this year.  This is the first one.  No Sam Bradford, no win for the Rams.  Last year, we were lucky to come away from this game with a victory, needing a last-second goalline stop to preserve it.  This year, I’m expecting more of an easier go.  We’re not going to be perfect; they do still have a solid defensive line.  But, 27-13 is in order.

Week 8, at Carolina, 10am

Back to back road games starting at 10am Pacific time.  I’m already on record as saying that I think Carolina is going to struggle mightily this year.  But, this is still a road game on the East Coast, so a victory won’t come easy.  I’m looking at something like 19-9, with a LOT of field goals.  Seahawks improve to 7-0.

Week 9, vs. Oakland, 1:25pm

I like catching Oakland here.  Derek Carr will have had some bumps in the road by now, so his confidence will likely be shaken.  Their veterans on defense will be wearing down and/or injured by this point.  I’m expecting an easy victory, if maybe a sloppy one.  Still, we should take it going way, 27-6.

Week 10, vs. NY Giants, 1:25pm

Give me Eli, give me a nothing defense, and give me no weapons on offense.  Is it possible to shut out a team in back-to-back years?  I think so!  44-0, Seahawks.

Week 11, at Kansas City, 10am

Final morning game.  Kansas City is sure to come back to Earth this year, as their defense is worse and they still did nothing to improve the offense around Jamaal Charles.  Nevertheless, I got a feeling this one will be closer.  I’m looking at a 34-28 victory for the Seahawks.

Week 12, vs. Arizona, 1:05pm

There will be no repeat of last year’s fluke Cardinals victory in Seattle.  The defense is remarkably worse and Carson Palmer is remarkably a year older.  I’m sensing a 33-7 Seahawks victory.

Week 13, at San Francisco, 5:30pm (Thanksgiving)

The Seahawks will be the talk of the nation coming into this game, as their 11-0 record is the best in football.  However, their relatively tame schedule to this point (highlighted by poor seasons out of the teams they’ve played in recent weeks) will give pundits cause for concern:  is this team really as good as their record?

It will be at this point that I will give just about anything to steal a win in Santa Clara.  EVERY YEAR I keep thinking:  this will be the time.  And every year, the 49ers end up finding a way to pull it out.  I can’t remember the last time we won down there, but I’m sure it was the best day of my life.

Unfortunately, this year will be no different (prove me wrong, Seahawks!), as the underwhelming 49ers find a way to pull it out.  I’m thinking 28-24, Seahawks lose to go to 11-1.

Week 14, at Philadelphia, 1:25pm

Many pundits are eyeballing this as a defeat for the Seahawks.  The Eagles were pretty good last year; their offense is and was on point.  Could be looking at another Trap Game, as this one is sandwiched between the two games against the 49ers on our regular season schedule.

I don’t see it, though.  I think the Seahawks’ offense is the story of this game.  I’m looking at something around 44-34, Seahawks win.

Week 15, vs. San Francisco, 1:25pm

And here is the game where we kill the 49ers, like we do every time they come to town.  Nothing fancy, just making Kaepernick our bitch.  31-13, Seahawks.

Week 16, at Arizona, 5:30pm (Sunday Night)

By this point, I’m expecting to see the Cardinals in full give-up mode.  Carson Palmer will be either benched or injured, and their backup will be some lame-ass.  Their defense will still be terrible and the Seahawks will roll, 38-10.

Week 17, vs. St. Louis, 1:25pm

At this point, we’ll be 14-1 and we will have wrapped up home field advantage.  So, it’ll come down to a couple things:  how long will our starters play in this game, and how well will our backups hold the fort?

For the record, I DO think our starters will get at least some play.  My guess is, anywhere from 1 to 2 quarters.  Yes, Seahawks fans will lose their God damn minds (as, again, the Rams have the best defensive line in football, and the last thing we need is for Russell Wilson to take unnecessary hits).  I don’t think we’ll be necessarily all that sharp though.

In the end, the backups come in and they’ll get pushed around a little bit.  The Rams will make a late-game comeback, and the Seahawks will lose.  Something like 24-17.

The Seahawks will be 14-2, and in spite of the final-week defeat, will be on fire as a football team heading into the playoffs.  I think ultimately the schedule will prove to be easier than last year’s, as a lot of the teams we THINK will be good are ultimately not.  I think the 49ers start to decline, even though they’ve got enough talent to still be pretty okay.  In the end, I think the Seahawks are just too good.  They’re too talented, they’re strong at every position group, and they’ll have enough depth to push through and overcome any injuries in their way (except for the quarterback position, of course).

Yes, repeating as world champions is one of the most difficult things to do.  Hell, just winning ONE championship is one of the most difficult things to do!  But, we’re in a once-in-a-lifetime window here where the Seahawks are the best team in football.  Now, it’s time to go out and show the world just how great we truly are.

Missing On Justin Britt Would Be A Drastic Mistake For Seahawks

It’s obviously way too early to make a determination on the Seahawks’ 2014 draft class.  If you want my prediction on some guys, I think Paul Richardson will be a quality starter if he can stay healthy.  I think Kevin Norwood will be one of the all-time great Seahawks if this foot thing doesn’t linger his whole career.  I think Cassius Marsh just might be the steal of the draft and a dominant force for years to come on the defensive line.  I think everyone else is really up in the air at this point.  If some of these other back-end guys – like KPL, Pinkins, and Staten, who are all pretty much projects at this point and won’t see a lot of time (if any) on defense this year – end up panning out, that’s gravy.  When you toss in undrafted guys – like Brock Coyle, who figures to certainly make the team and replace Heath Farwell; Garry Gilliam, who has an outside shot to make the 53-man roster along the offensive line; Jackson Jeffcoat, who has elite athleticism, but is struggling to adjust to a switch from end to linebacker – this overall 2014 rookie class should be one of the good ones, as usual.

But, I think this class really hinges on second rounder Justin Britt.

There’s no doubt that the Seahawks had a need along the offensive line when they were coming into this draft.  We lost two pretty prominent guys in Paul McQuistan and Breno Giacomini, two guys who started A LOT of games for us the last couple seasons.  Yes, we had a few leftovers from last year who we figured could slide in at the left guard and right tackle positions if need be, but our depth would be shredded.  We NEEDED to pick up a guy or two in the draft.

I know everyone says that they only draft the best players available, but it certainly helps when the best available intersects with a position of need, doesn’t it?  The Seahawks went out and bolstered the receiver position – after Tate left – with Richardson.  And later in that same round, they bolstered their offensive line with Britt.  You could argue whether or not those two were the “best” players available, but they’re here now, so we might as well move on.

The Seahawks also picked up an offensive line project in the sixth round who was waived due to a heart defect or some damn thing.  So, really, Britt was it as far as offensive line goes in this draft (not counting the undrafted guys, of course, who are always longshots to even make the practice squad).

Now, here we are, in the second week of the pre-season.  Michael Bowie was waived due to a shoulder condition.  There was also the issue of him coming in overweight and/or out of shape.  I think we were hoping to hide him on IR and bring him back next year (waiving him was an attempt to save some money, I believe, before we put him on IR), but he was picked up by the Browns, so now he’s gone.  That’s neither here nor there, because apparently he wasn’t going to play for us this year anyway.

That leaves Britt, veterans Eric Winston and Wade Smith, and maybe Alvin Bailey (but Bailey has spent the entire pre-season in the starting left tackle spot, with Okung out).  As Okung returns, maybe Bailey enters the race for starting right tackle, but for now it’s Britt’s job to lose.

I haven’t seen much out of Britt with my own two eyes, but what I’ve heard doesn’t inspire a great deal of confidence.  He appears to be getting beat on the reg in pass protection.  It’s unclear whether he’s fully understanding the zone blocking scheme.  The only thing you CAN say about him is that he’s still the starter on the depth chart.  It appears that the team is going to give him every opportunity to win the job, and for the life of me, I don’t blame ’em.

The Seahawks haven’t necessarily been wildly successful in drafting offensive linemen.  Max Unger was chosen by the previous regime.  Russell Okung was an obvious pick – a high first rounder – at a time post-Walter Jones when the left tackle position was a zoo.  James Carpenter was initially selected to be a right tackle, but proved to have the body of a guard.  Three injury-riddled seasons later, and we’re wondering if this first round draft pick will be re-signed after the season.  J.R. Sweezy is a converted defensive lineman and a seventh round draft pick.  He’s entering his third season in what has been an up-and-down career to date.

The Seahawks NEED to hit and hit big on someone like Britt.  Not only that, but hit EARLY.  Carpenter is in the best shape of his life … four years into his professional career.  He hasn’t been a disaster up to this point, but he’s definitely been a disappointment.  I don’t care what your salary cap situation looks like, you’d always much rather have the young, inexpensive players have huge impacts for you.  There’s nothing more frustrating than having a home-grown player require the full life of his contract before he finally lives up to his original promise; because NOW you have to make a decision:  do we want to bring him back on a more-expensive free agent deal, or let him walk?

Because think about it, what if Carpenter goes out and blows everyone away this year?  He makes this huge jump as one of the better left guards in the game, he stays healthy for the full 16 games plus playoffs, and he starts getting recognition around the league as someone to watch out for.  Well, he MIGHT command a huge contract at season’s end!  So, either we blow through our cap space (and give an injury-risk a large amount of resources), or we let him go and another team reaps the rewards on a player WE spent four years cultivating!

And, not for nothing, but Sweezy appears to be on a similar track, though we do still have two full years of team control left before he’s up for a new deal.  Maybe instead of the big jump forward I kind of expect out of Sweezy, this year sees him only marginally improve.  Well, that means it’s another year with a struggling right guard before he MAYBE figures it out in 2015 (just in time to be another Carpenter situation).

So, no, we don’t want that out of Britt.  We can’t afford that out of Britt!  He doesn’t have to be perfect right out of the gate.  Obviously, there are going to be growing pains, and we all have to accept that.  But, for starters, he has to prove that he’s not completely overwhelmed at the professional level.  He can’t be getting beat on every other play.  He’s got to flash – on his own – that he can handle some of the better pass rushers in the league.  And not require a tight end babysitter on every play just to keep our quarterback upright and our running game afloat.

Now, obviously, he still has three more pre-season games to get to that level.  The level where the coaching staff (and, frankly, the fans) feel comfortable just having him out there.  We all know he’s going to need to improve, and that’s the next thing:  we need Britt’s learning curve to be swift.  Yes, I’ll suffer some growing pains, but it better be leading to a payoff down the road.  And not three years down the road, but rather the second half of this season.  There’s got to be a point this year where it starts to click for him.  Where the missteps of being a rookie are fewer and farther between.

From week 7 onward, we face A LOT of great front sevens:  the Rams twice, the 49ers twice, the Cardinals twice, the Panthers, and the Chiefs.  That’s 8 of our last 11 games where we’re going to need Britt to be on his game.  Yes, Russell Wilson scrambles with the best of ’em, but if you’re a turnstile over there at right tackle, you’re not giving him time enough to even do that!

If Britt fails, it would be a huge setback.  In the short term, it would mean relying on veterans off the scrap heap, or youngsters who haven’t done a thing in this league.  In the long term, it would mean offensive line will once again be a huge priority going into the 2015 draft.  I don’t know what that draft class will look like, as far as offensive line is concerned, but by all accounts, 2014 was one of the better offensive line classes in YEARS!

On top of right tackle – if Britt is a bust – we’ll need to address left guard, and possibly try to extend our left tackle after the 2014 season.  In two years (when you factor in the loss of McQuistan and Giacomini), that’s simply too much for one football team to address at one position.  Quite frankly, it would mean we’d have one of the worst offensive lines in the league pretty much for the majority of our dynasty window.

So, no, we can’t fail with Britt.  He NEEDS to be good and he needs to be good very soon.  If he fails to develop, and we suffer another season with an underperforming offensive line, we’ll have to ask ourselves if Tom Cable is really the O-Line wizard we’ve all come to believe.

Part 1, Defense – Which Seahawks Players Can Get Even Better?

Coming into a season, analysts look at a variety of factors to determine whether a team is going to be good or not (or improved or not).  They look at which players leave for other teams (or retirement), they look at which players are brought in (either via trade, free agency, or draft), they look at the strength of schedule and that of the teams in their division, they look at the injury situation and the potential injury situation based on player histories, and they look at which players are over the hill and due to start their slide into mediocrity.

There’s one aspect that’s often overlooked:  which players are still at the point in their careers where they’re getting better?

All too often, we look at rookies – whether good or bad – and think we’re looking at those players as they’ll be for the rest of their careers.  But, no one enters the league as a finished product.  Yes, some flame out, but even the really good ones still have room for improvement.

Take Golden Tate, for instance.  He didn’t really get a handle on all the intricacies of the wide receiver position until his third year in the league.  On the downside, that meant we only had two good years with Golden Tate before he left for richer pastures.  But, on the upside, it means there’s still hope for players who haven’t done a whole lot yet in their careers.

Secondary

How long did it take Byron Maxwell before he was able to make an impact on the Seahawks outside of special teams?  Try a little over 2.5 years.  He was one of our most important players when he was thrust into the starting cornerback spot across from Richard Sherman; now he’s entering a contract year where he could get even BETTER.  You have to think Maxwell has dollar signs in his eyes after seeing the deals Earl Thomas and Richard Sherman got this past offseason.  Granted, it probably won’t be with the Seahawks – as who can afford to pay four studs in one secondary? – but at least we’ll have this last year of greatness before he moves on.

In keeping with this section of the team, what about Jeremy Lane?  He was taken late in the 2012 draft, so we’ve got two more years of his services.  He’s always been a special teams standout, but this year he’s going to get his first real shot at the nickel cornerback spot.  He had some time in that position late last season and seemed to do all right.  If he manages to take a step forward and help us all forget about Walter Thurmond, it could be a boon for an already-outstanding secondary.

I’d also like to shine some light on Tharold Simon.  He spent the entirety of his rookie season injured last year.  In the spring camps, he apparently looked really good.  No one is expecting him to start, or take over anyone else’s job in 2014, but it’s nice knowing we’ve got some quality depth.  As mentioned before, we lost Thurmond.  We also lost Browner.  Maxwell took over that job, but he’ll be gone after this year.  If Simon can keep our momentum going in the secondary, there’s no reason why we shouldn’t have the best secondary in the league for many years to come.

Now, before I move on, I’ll talk briefly about the rest of the L.O.B.  Normally, when people write about the Legion, these are the first names they talk about.  But, when you’re talking about players improving, it’s hard to see a lot of room for improvement in guys like Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor, and Richard Sherman.  Nevertheless, I think all three of these players have another gear in them.  This is the fun part about having such a young team – even the All Pros have room to grow!  Earl Thomas, before all is said and done, will win a Defensive MVP award.  Chancellor – already an enforcer – can still be a better all-around safety.  And, at this point, I have to imagine the only way Richard Sherman can get better is to completely eliminate the number of attempts to his side of the field.  I didn’t say there was a TON of improvement in these guys, but what if they’re able to squeeze just a little bit more?

Linebackers

I’ve heard people talking about K.J. Wright taking it up another notch, but I have my doubts.  I’ll be the first one to admit, however, that I know very little about the linebacking position outside of:  tackle the guy with the football.  I think Malcolm Smith is probably at the height of his powers.  I still like him as our weakside linebacker, and think he’s a quality playmaker on the outside, but I don’t see a lot of room for growth.  He’ll probably parlay his Super Bowl MVP (and whatever he does for us in 2014) into a nice little long-term deal with another team.  Like I’ve said many times:  you can’t keep everyone.

Bobby Wagner looks like he’s got another level in him, however.  I expect GREAT things in his third year as a starting middle linebacker.  I think 2014 is the year he finally gets his due as a Pro Bowler in a very tough conference for linebackers.  Also, keep an eye on Korey Toomer.  Along with Simon, Toomer was singled out as having an amazing spring camp.  He’s always had the athleticism and the speed, but he hasn’t been able to stay healthy.  This year, he could be a real terror on special teams (perhaps helping us ease the blow of inevitably waiving Heath Farwell to save some money on our cap).

Bruce Irvin is one of the biggest question marks on the team.  Yes, he certainly has ROOM to improve, but is it safe to EXPECT improvement?  If he does reach his full potential, he could be a wrecking ball on opposing quarterbacks.  Suffice it to say, I’ll be watching him closely in pre-season games, to see how he’s used, and to see how he bounces back from his hip surgery.  Obviously, if that hip is giving him problems, I won’t be watching him at all in pre-season games, so let’s hope that’s not the case.

Finally, a couple more under-the-radar fellas.  Mike Morgan will be entering his fourth season with the Seahawks.  He has primarily been a little-used depth guy and a full-time special teamer.  I never really had a lot of expectations out of him – especially when Malcolm Smith passed him on the depth chart – so it’ll be interesting if he’s even able to hold down a spot on this team in 2014.  The Seahawks just drafted Kevin Pierre-Louis, who looks like an absolute freak of nature.  The safe bets on this team are:  Wagner, Wright, Smith, and Irvin.  The bubble guys are:  Toomer, Morgan, Farwell, and KPL (among lesser-known guys).  You can forget about stashing KPL on the practice squad, as that’s just a non-starter.  Not only will he get snapped up by another team immediately, but putting him on there would actively reduce the talent level of this team’s special teams.  Morgan is in the fight of his life right now with those other bubble guys.  I’ve heard good things about his spring as well, so it’ll be interesting to see who shakes out.  Obviously, injuries would settle this thing real quick, but that’s neither here nor there.

Defensive Line

Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril are veterans.  They’re as good as they’re going to be.  You could see incremental improvements (particularly with Avril, who is going into a contract season), but I wouldn’t expect huge steps forward.  Same goes for Mebane, McDaniel, and recently-acquired Kevin Williams.  You’d be safer in assuming that these three tackles are closer to getting worse than they are getting better.  You just hope they have another year in the tank.

The room for improvement is ALL dedicated to the very young and unproven.  Jordan Hill, Jesse Williams, Benson Mayowa – none of whom played all that much at all in their rookie years.  Greg Scruggs, who was okay in his rookie year, but was injured all of last year.  He has apparently been spending all of his free time bulking up and becoming more beastly, so I’ll be VERY interested to see how he looks, and if he’s ready for a tough rotation.  Then, we’ve got the rookies:  Jackson Jeffcoat, Cassius Marsh, and Jimmy Staten (among others, presumably).  Hard to expect much out of any of these three, unless we’re decimated by injuries and they’re thrust into more minutes.

Very volatile group, this defensive line.  We’ve got enough sure things (so long as they stay healthy) to be able to maintain at least a high percentage of our effectiveness of last year, and a good number of wild cards who will duke it out in Training Camp and the pre-season, to see if we can somehow BEST last year.

In any given year, THAT’S what I’m most looking forward to when it comes to this time of the football season.  Tomorrow, I’ll look at the offense.

Seahawks 2014 Draft Roundup

Well, Mel Kiper gave the Seahawks one of his worst draft grades, so we should probably expect a couple of All Pros and a few more Pro Bowlers in this class.

Here’s the rundown:

  • Paul Richardson, WR (2nd)
  • Justin Britt, OT (2nd)
  • Cassius Marsh, DE (4th)
  • Kevin Norwood, WR (4th)
  • Kevin Pierre-Louis, OLB (4th)
  • Jimmy Staten, DT (5th)
  • Garrett Scott, OT (6th)
  • Eric Pinkins, CB/S (6th)
  • Kiero Small, FB (7th)

At first glance, I like the chances of Richardson, Britt, and Norwood to make an immediate impact.  Marsh is the epitome of a wild card, though I think he’ll get every chance to win a spot in the LEO rotation.  KPL and Pinkins are practically guaranteed to be standout special teamers right away, with outside chances to be impact starters in 2015 and beyond.  I’ve got Staten as the leader in the clubhouse to be the first draft pick cut in training camp.  Scott looks like total practice squad fodder.  And Small could range anywhere from a starting fullback on this team (which, in and of itself doesn’t come with all that many snaps per game) and a key special teamer, all the way down to practice squad (if we can somehow sneak him through, which shouldn’t be too hard considering how fullback is devalued in the league nowadays).

This is a huge draft for the future of the Seattle Seahawks.  We’ve got a ton of guys entering their final year or two with this team.  It sounds funny to say, considering we just won the Super Bowl and were among the youngest teams in the league, but the Seahawks are really in need of an infusion of young talent.

I think it’s safe to say that last year’s class was a little underwhelming.  Luke Willson had the biggest impact of anyone, and he was a backup tight end who didn’t get a ton of snaps.  Our two defensive tackles rode the pine (one because of injury, one because he wasn’t ready/good enough for the rotation).  Our top draft pick hardly played at all considering the logjam at running back.  And, the guys with the most promise were a couple of unheralded offensive linemen who are looking to make a bigger impact in 2014.  But, when you compare the 2013 draft class to the three that came before it, there’s a lot for those guys to live up to.

We need these classes (2013 & 2014) to be future starters in the next year or two.  After a year with the 2013 guys, it’s reasonable to have your doubts.  It’s also a reason to be excited for some of the freakish athletes we picked up over the weekend.

Paul Richardson

LOVE this pick!  He’s a little under-sized, but so is Harvin, and what are the odds that BOTH of them get injured at the same time?

Richardson is a speed freak and a big play waiting to happen.  But, while Harvin is a guy you want to throw short to, in space, giving him room to create; Richardson is the guy we’ve been waiting for to seriously stretch the field.  I want to see him on the field as much as possible right away.

What are teams going to do with both Harvin AND Richardson on the field?  One guy will stretch the field and force defenses to protect the pass over the top, the other guy is going to use that space to his advantage for big plays underneath.  Or, if defenses focus on Harvin (as they rightly should), there’s the opportunity for deep bombs.

Kevin Norwood

Might as well keep it in the WR unit.  While Richardson is the speed demon we’ve been looking for, Norwood is the big body we’ve been looking for.  Unlike other big bodies we’ve tried out (Durham, Mike Williams, Sidney Rice), Norwood doesn’t appear to be an injury waiting to happen, a drop waiting to happen, or a big lumbering slowpoke waiting to happen.

One of Norwood’s gifts is his ability to find the quarterback after a play has broken down.  In case you haven’t been watching, that’s sort of Russell Wilson’s forte.  Norwood will improvise with the best of ’em, and he’ll make those twinkle-toe catches along the sideline.

Norwood’s presence makes Sidney Rice’s chances of winning a spot drastically reduced.  I’m seeing the Seahawks keeping:  Harvin, Baldwin, Kearse, Richardson, and Norwood for sure.  Rice might be able to win a sixth receiver spot, but it’s no sure thing.  It’ll depend on how the roster crunch plays out (doesn’t help him if the Seahawks opt to keep three QBs on the roster, with Wilson, Tarvar, and Pryor).

Justin Britt

One hope of mine was, if the Seahawks drafted a tackle reasonably high (as they did with this pick), it would be a guy who could, theoretically, shift over to left tackle in the event that the Seahawks aren’t able to re-sign Okung at the end of his deal.  Gotta find savings somewhere, and if you can use a guy on his rookie deal who isn’t a huge dropoff from the incumbent, all the better.

But, after listening to Tom Cable talk about the guy, it sounds like there’s zero chance Britt ever gets the nod on the left side.

Britt’s claim to fame is absolutely shutting down Jadeveon Clowney in the latest college season.  Don’t know if that’s one of those games that Clowney “took off”, but it seems to me Clowney playing at 60% is still better than most pass rushers, so I’ll take it.

Britt will come in and compete right away for the starting right tackle spot against Michael Bowie.  Love it.  Either he wins the job and we’ve got arguably an improvement at the position over the last few years, or he pushes Bowie to be even better than we thought.  That’s what you call a win-win.  At the very least, Britt should be great line depth for injuries (and you know there are ALWAYS injuries).

Cassius Marsh

As I said above, this guy is a total wild card.  If I let my imagination run wild, I’d tell you that he has the chance to be a J.J. Watt clone, but I’m not about to go that far.  My opinion all along has been that it’s VERY difficult for pass rushers to make an immediate impact.  Bruce Irvin did pretty well as a rookie, but he’s a beast with his speed rush.  Marsh doesn’t have his speed, but reportedly has some good hands, so he should be able to shed blocks pretty well.

I say if Marsh manages to find a way into the rotation on an occasional basis, improving as the season goes along, it’s a victory.  Failing that, I could see him as a guy who sticks to the 53-man roster, but is rarely active on gameday.

Also, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention his hot-headedness.  That scares me a little bit, but if there’s any team that can rein that in and teach him how to use that aggressiveness to his advantage, I feel like it’s this team.  Also, don’t ask me why, but my gut tells me this guy is a candidate for failing the NFL’s drug policy in some way, shape or form.  I have no precedent to cite for this, but it’s just a feeling I have.

Kevin Pierre-Louis

This is EXACTLY what I was talking about when I said I wanted the Seahawks to draft a linebacker in the middle rounds.  He won’t play much on defense in 2014, but given his athleticism, he’s almost a lock to be a huge player on special teams (and probably force Heath Farwell out of Seattle).

And, if he finds a way to pick up the scheme quickly and refine his technique in the pass-coverage game, he should force his way into the starting lineup in 2015 when we have to make a difficult decision between K.J. Wright and Malcolm Smith.  People are saying KPL is a natural weak-side linebacker, which is Smith’s natural position, so we may be seeing the final season of Malcolm Smith in a Seahawks uniform.

Eric Pinkins

Meet my absolute favorite draft pick of the 2014 class.  6’2, 230 pounds.  He was a safety in college for San Diego State; when the Seahawks picked him, we immediately thought of Kam Chancellor.  However, in interviews after the draft, it was noted that the team is looking at him to play corner.

So, now we’re thinking:  Brandon Browner.

This guy could be HUGE.  I’m, like, one interception in the preseason away from buying a Pinkins jersey and getting in on the ground floor.  You know the Seahawks are excellent at player development, especially in the secondary.  There’s no reason to think – with Pinkins being the athletic freak of nature that he is – that this coaching staff WON’T turn him into a viable starter.

Why is that big?  Byron Maxwell is entering his final season and is almost guaranteed to be playing for another team in 2015.  If Pinkins turns into a more athletic Brandon Browner, we’ve just fortified the Legion of Boom for years to come, and at a bargain to boot!

Other teams might have taken this guy and stuck him at safety where he’s comfortable.  The Seahawks see this guy and have the talent and know-how to convert him into a starting cornerback opposite Richard Sherman.  I’m tingling.

The Rest

I don’t know anything about Jimmy Staten.  Looks like he could be a 3-Tech tackle in the rotation with Jordan Hill.  Maybe there’s an outside chance this team bulks him up another 30 pounds or so and tries him out at nose tackle, but who knows?

Garrett Scott looks like a project along the offensive line.  I don’t see how this guy DOESN’T make the practice squad.  Considering the talent we’ve got on the O-Line, it’s going to be difficult to get him in on the rotation.  But, he sounds like he’s really athletic and a perfect fit for the zone blocking scheme.  I’ve even heard that he’s going to get some play at left tackle.

Kiero Small is a fullback.  By the sound of things, he could be one to watch, but again, it’s fullback.  When you consider the fact that this team normally keeps five running back/fullback types, let’s count ’em out:

  1. Marshawn Lynch
  2. Robert Turbin
  3. Christine Michael
  4. Derrick Coleman
  5. Spencer Ware
  6. Kiero Small

It looks like it’s going to come down to Small vs. Ware, if he’s going to make the 53-man roster.  Which means it might come down to which of the two are better in special teams.  Ware might have worn out his welcome with that DUI last year, so Small probably has a pretty good shot.  We’ll have to see how he does in camp.

As for the undrafted rookies, the Seahawks have Keith Price.  Zero chance he makes the team.  Probably a pretty good chance he rocks it in the practice squad.  Then again, if you’re keeping three QBs on your 53-man roster, do you really need a QB on the practice squad?

It’s going to be tough for Price.  How often do you ever see four quarterbacks play in the preseason games?  You know how the Seahawks will play Wilson (a series or two in game 1, a quarter or two in game 2, into the third quarter in game 3, a series or two in game 4).  They’ll likely want to give Tarvar his share of reps to keep him warm and get him ready for the season.  And, you’d think they’ll want to watch Terrelle Pryor as much as possible to see if he’s worth keeping on the team.  And, don’t forget B.J. Daniels.

What does that mean?  If Price looks good in camp, MAYBE he gets a series or two in the entirety of the preseason games.  Don’t know if that’s enough to get him an opportunity with another team, but maybe just the fact that the Seahawks wanted him and brought him into camp, that might be enough for another team to pick him up and stash him.  We’ll see.

All in all, as I said before, I’m a big fan of this draft.  The best part?  Our entire coaching staff is intact.  We didn’t lose Cable, we didn’t lose Quinn, we didn’t lose Bevell, and we’ve got everyone else.  Considering how good the Seahawks are, and how coveted those guys would have been had the Seahawks not made the Super Bowl, it’s like we’re playing with house money.  Another year with this full staff intact?  That’s going to be an insane advantage for this draft class to eventually make the jump to full time starters for this team in the years to come.

Filling The Gaps On The Seahawks’ Roster

For starters, this isn’t going to be the most comprehensive thing you’ve ever read in your lives.  I’m not getting into the 90-man roster so much as the 53-ish man roster.

When I list the “2013 Roster”, I’m talking about the 53-man roster we had for the Super Bowl, with a small handful of extras tacked on who made a somewhat big impact in the 2013 season.  That having been said, let’s take a look at where we are and where we were.

I more-or-less already got into this subject a few weeks ago, but I thought I’d make it a little more visual-friendly (for my own sake, if nothing else).  In essence, this is another call to Seahawks fans out there that this offseason hasn’t been as devastating as it seems.

2013 2014
Def Line Michael Bennett Michael Bennett
Cliff Avril Cliff Avril
Brandon Mebane Brandon Mebane
Chris Clemons
Red Bryant (Jesse Williams)
Tony McDaniel Tony McDaniel
Clinton McDonald (Greg Scruggs)
O’Brien Schofield
Jordan Hill Jordan Hill
Benson Mayowa Benson Mayowa

As you can see, there aren’t a crazy amount of holes here.  Red Bryant’s spot will most likely be filled by Michael Bennett, with a little help coming from Jesse Williams (if he’s recovered from his IR stint as a rookie in 2013), Greg Scruggs (who also found himself on the IR, though has bulked up considerably in anticipation of his return to the playing field), or a rookie/someone from off the scrap heap.  I’m not TOO worried about replacing Red Bryant, because I believe Michael Bennett is a capable run defender, and other big bodies aren’t all that difficult to come by.

Also, I would anticipate Jordan Hill to improve and earn MUCH more playing time in 2014.  He saw almost no action as a rookie in 2013, but with these holes in the line (specifically the Clinton McDonald-sized hole in our D-Tackle rotation), I expect Hill to pick up the slack admirably.

The real thing to worry about is finding that third pass rusher.  I’m not so worried about the O’Brien Schofield spot, as that could be literally anybody at this point.  But, who will replace Chris Clemons?  That’s the most important question of the off-season, if you ask me.  We carried Benson Mayowa for the entirety of 2013; you’d have to think he’s learned all he could and is ready to apply that knowledge.  Mayowa had an impressive pre-season last year; let’s hope he carries that over.  If not, I fully expect the Seahawks to hit the draft for a pass rusher, as well as hit HARD the free agent scrap heap as the season approaches and teams have to cut their rosters down to 53.

2013 2014
Linebackers Bobby Wagner Bobby Wagner
K.J. Wright K.J. Wright
Bruce Irvin Bruce Irvin
Malcolm Smith Malcolm Smith
Heath Farwell Heath Farwell
Mike Morgan Mike Morgan

As you can see, we’ve got everybody back from this position group.  That doesn’t necessarily mean we’re going to keep it EXACTLY the same.  My hunch is:  the top four guys come back, and the team pushes HARD for the final two spots to be rookies, or otherwise cheaper replacements.  Maybe not so much Mike Morgan, but certainly Farwell, whose cap number is around $1.67 Million.  For a guy who only plays special teams (albeit, really fucking well), that’s kind of a high number.  And, aside from that, you gotta figure this team will want to groom at least one future starter at this position, as it won’t be able to pay Wagner, Wright, AND Smith the type of money they’d command on an open market.  I don’t see Farwell or Morgan as a starter type, so their jobs are probably in jeopardy.

2013 2014
Secondary Earl Thomas Earl Thomas
Kam Chancellor Kam Chancellor
Richard Sherman Richard Sherman
Byron Maxwell Byron Maxwell
Brandon Browner (Tharold Simon)
Walter Thurmond (Phillip Adams)
Jeremy Lane Jeremy Lane
Chris Maragos
DeShawn Shead DeShawn Shead
Jeron Johnson Jeron Johnson

As you can see, there aren’t any holes where it counts!  The Legion of Boom (Byron Maxwell Edition) is entirely intact.  We lost Browner, but we lost Browner last year too.  We also lost Thurmond, but you figure that Jeremy Lane (who returns) is still here and did just as well, in my book anyway.  Tharold Simon was a draft pick last year who spent 2013 on the IR.  He COULD be a Browner replacement/depth guy, but that all depends on how seriously he takes his job and how much he’s grown as a player since his lost rookie season.  I’d expect the team to look to the draft for one or two secondary guys.  We lost reserve safety (and special teams whiz) Chris Maragos, but DeShawn Shead and Jeron Johnson both return.  Phillip Adams was also re-signed by the Seahawks this offseason, so at least for 2014 we’ve got another experienced body to play on the inside.

2013 2014
Quarterbacks Russell Wilson Russell Wilson
Tarvaris Jackson Tarvaris Jackson
Terrelle Pryor

As you can see, we’re solid at quarterback.

2013 2014
Kicker Steven Hauschka Steven Hauschka
Punter Jon Ryan Jon Ryan
Long Snapper Clint Gresham Clint Gresham

As you can see, we’re solid at kicker, punter, and long snapper.

2013 2014
Receivers Percy Harvin Percy Harvin
Golden Tate
Doug Baldwin Doug Baldwin
Jermaine Kearse Jermaine Kearse
Sidney Rice Sidney Rice
Ricardo Lockette Ricardo Lockette
Bryan Walters Bryan Walters

As you can see, we’ve got just a Golden Tate-sized hole in our receivers unit.  Of course, one could argue that since Harvin only appeared in three games last year, it’s kinda like we replaced Tate with Harvin going into 2014.  Nevertheless, I fully expect a wide receiver to be drafted (and probably pretty high), and I expect a fierce battle among the undrafted free agents and other younger guys already on this roster.  In short, I expect Lockette and Walters to be replaced by two guys not even on our radar right now.  Also, I don’t expect this team to hold onto seven receivers, so disregard the table in that respect.

2013 2014
Backs Marshawn Lynch Marshawn Lynch
Robert Turbin Robert Turbin
Christine Michael Christine Michael
Michael Robinson
Derrick Coleman Derrick Coleman
Spencer Ware Spencer Ware

As you can see, our running backs are intact.  Michael Robinson is always an option, but probably won’t make the opening day roster unless there are some injuries we’re dealing with.  Expect Lynch, Turbin, Michael, & Coleman to be locks to make the roster.  Ware will probably have to win a job (doesn’t help his cause that he had that DUI last year).  There’s maybe an outside chance that the team trades Turbin for a low-end draft pick, but that’s only if the team is confident in Michael’s ability to block for the quarterback.

2013 2014
Tight Ends Zach Miller Zach Miller
Luke Willson Luke Willson
Kellen Davis (Anthony McCoy)

As you can see, we’re good at tight end.  Anthony McCoy re-signed after being on IR all of last year.  If he’s healthy, he’s a pretty sure bet to be this team’s third tight end and REALLY give us some versatility.  McCoy is probably a better blocking tight end than Willson, and he’ll give us some better hands in the passing game than Kellen Davis.

2013 2014
Off Line Max Unger Max Unger
Russell Okung Russell Okung
J.R. Sweezy J.R. Sweezy
Breno Giacomini
James Carpenter James Carpenter
Paul McQuistan
Lemuel Jeanpierre Lemuel Jeanpierre
Michael Bowie Michael Bowie
Alvin Bailey Alvin Bailey
Caylin Hauptmann Caylin Hauptmann

As you can see, just a tiny bit of work to do along the offensive line.  Max Unger, Russell Okung, and J.R. Sweezy have all locked down their respective spots (Center, Left Tackle, Right Guard).  Left guard is still up for grabs, but James Carpenter probably has the early lead in that battle.  Right tackle will be brand new, and maybe Michael Bowie or Alvin Bailey wins that job.  Maybe one of them wins the left guard job.  Maybe this Caylin Hauptmann guy who was on the roster for most (if not all) of 2013 will shock the world and steal a spot somewhere.  Regardless, I like our line, and I like our depth.  By my count, I’ve got 6-7 guys in that roster who can start for me and not give me any gray hairs

So, when you look at it, there’s not a lot of places where we have to plug guys in.  Depth might be a little bit of an issue, but that’s what’s going to make this training camp and pre-season so interesting.  Who’s going to fill out in the back-end of the secondary and offensive line?  Who’s going to assume that third pass-rusher role?  With new, bigtime deals for Sherman and Thomas (presumably), one would figure that their roles in special teams will go away; who picks up that slack?

I’ve got, in my head, somewhere around 44-46 players listed above who are locks to make this team (and another handful that are on the bubble).  That means there could be upwards of 7-9 guys on the 2014 opening-day 53-man roster that we’ve never heard of!  On a Super Bowl champion, no less!

Again, these are merely depth positions, but who knows?  You could be talking about the next stars on this team starting with 2015 and beyond.

It’s exciting to be a Seahawks fan right now.  It helps that we’re coming off of a championship, but still.

Should I Double-Down On The Seahawks Winning The Super Bowl?

I’m sort of what you would call “Bad With Money”.  As a single man, living in a reasonably-priced apartment, no car payment, still on a family plan for my cell phone, without much in the way of expensive hobbies or any sort of sexual allure with the ladies, I tend to have money to burn.  And burn it I shall!  I like eating out, going to bars with friends, going on weekend trips out of state, long walks on moonlit beaches, cuddling by the fire with a big bowl of popcorn and a romantic comedy on the TV (is this working yet?  I will accept nearly any request for dates) …

Anyway, where was I?  Oh yeah, “Bad With Money”.  I spent almost all of my 20s in massive credit card debt, to the point where – after extensive road trips, moving to NYC, and an endless run of music festivals – I had to move back home for a couple years just to get my finances in order.  At this point, I’ve made it my vow to stay out of debt if humanly possible.  But, that doesn’t mean I’m sitting here shovelling money into my savings account or anything.  Aside from my healthy 401K and retirement plan (which, Satan-willing, will allow me to retire just 10 years after I’ve died from colon cancer), I make money and I spend money.  It’s a blessing and a curse, because you only live once, right?  YOLO YOU MOTHERFUCKERS YOLO!!!

One part of being “Bad With Money” is being Impulsive With Money.  I tend to buy a lot of shit I don’t need.  It’s stupid.  Just last weekend, I spent over $100 on compact discs so I can have something to listen to on my drives to and from Tacoma (where my family lives and where I visit them on occasion).  $100 isn’t going to put me in the red or anything, but it’s just stupid, you know?  Stupid shit like that.

I tend to get even stupider when you put me inside of a casino.  I’m not much of a gambler, because I have self-diagnosed adult-onset A.D.D.  It’s boring to me to just sit there slowly losing money for hours on end.  Not only that, but it’s fucking stressful!  I feel great if I can just leave a blackjack table with as much money as I started with; but if I start losing, I start playing shitty, making bigger and bigger bets, until I’ve lost what I came with in a matter of minutes.  I can’t just sit there, roll with the ebbs & flows, and work the game until I get my money back.  If I start losing, I have to get it all back RIGHT NOW, or I don’t feel comfortable.  As such, I tend to avoid these games.  Let my friends play them while I stand there and watch.  Or, let my friends play them while I wander around looking for something else to do.

My game is roulette, but again, I don’t play roulette like others play roulette.  As I said before, I can’t be bothered to sit there for hours on end, spreading my chips around.  Instead, I like to make big bets, on black.  And when I say “big bets”, I mean AH big bet.  And when I say “big”, I mean $500.  On black.  I win, I walk away.  I lose, I walk away.  It’s the ultimate high, and it lasts about 15 seconds (just like my sex life … HI-YO!).

Just my writing about this is probably going to jinx the fuck out of my trip to Tahoe next week, but I will admit:  I somehow find a way to win more than I lose.  The odds are a tad under 50/50, but I think only once have I come away from a casino having lost my shirt.  I tend to play it smart:  carry all the cash I plan on gambling, leave the ATM card at home.  Last year in Tahoe, I think I walked away up somewhere around $1,500-$2,000 richer, just by making a few big bets on roulette.  I gave some of that back in drinks, and black jack, and slots, and sports gambling, but I still made it back home with more money than I left with.

I also made it back with a ticket on the Seahawks to win the Super Bowl.  $100, at 7-to-1 odds.  This time next week, I’m going to take that ticket to the sportsbook where I purchased it and I’m going to collect $800.  And, if you couldn’t tell where this is going, I’m going to ask it again:  should I let it ride on the Seahawks?

Since I’m “Bad With Money”, I’m legitimately considering this.  I highly doubt I’m looking at 7-to-1 odds again, but I might get something like 4-to-1 odds.  $800 with that kind of action would win me $3,200.  Now, I’m not trying to make it a habit of throwing away $800, so I wouldn’t even consider it if I didn’t think I had a pretty good chance of winning.  At this point, I have to ask myself:  do I feel lucky?

This time last year, I was more confident than I’ve ever been in the Seahawks winning the Super Bowl.  I was so confident, I honestly don’t know why I didn’t bet MORE than $100 with those 7-to-1 odds (especially considering the killing I’d made on roulette that weekend).  Because at this time last year, the Seahawks were returning damn near everyone from a dominant 2012 team that had come OH SO CLOSE to the NFC Championship Game.  It was a foregone conclusion.  Beef up the defensive line (which we did, by signing Bennett and Avril), get some help for our receivers (which we did, by trading for Harvin), and we’d be good to go.  More importantly, we didn’t lose ANYONE who was important in our 2012 run.  That was key.  Right down to Heath Fucking Farwell and Michael Robinson (eventually, getting him back mid-season after his mystery illness).

This year, while I still consider the Seahawks as favorites, you can’t deny that we’re missing some key guys.  Golden Tate, Red Bryant, Clinton McDonald, Breno Giacomini, Walter Thurmond, Brandon Browner, Chris Clemons, Chris Maragos.  These are starters and depth guys.  Whereas last year, we had the best talent and the best depth in the league, now we’ve got some real question marks.

Our depth along the D-Line has been wounded to say the least.  The team (probably wisely) is avoiding any major splashes for veteran free agents, instead scouring the wire looking for bargains (because we’ve got bigger fish to fry with Earl Thomas and Richard Sherman).  We’re down a couple of receivers (not to mention a punt returner), unless the team brings Sidney Rice back on a small, prove-it deal.  All of our depth at cornerback is thrust to the fore with Maxwell starting and Lane as our primary nickel corner.  Behind them, we’ve got … nothing.  And, I know we kind of like Bowie and Bailey, but are they capable starters along our O-Line?

The Seahawks didn’t get a whole lot out of last year’s draft because they didn’t NEED to get a whole lot out of last year’s draft.  This year, it’s different.  This year is HUGE.  This year will go a long way in determining if whether this is truly a dynasty, or just a couple/few years of dominance.  This draft needs to produce future starters and key depth pieces.  The time is now; we’ve got to find cheap talent as our stars start getting motherfucking PAID.

All of this is enough to give me pause.  Then, I see what the other teams around us are doing.  Teams in our division getting better.  Teams in the NFC South getting better.  The Eagles bulking up their offense.  The Lions bulking up THEIR offense.  The Patriots and Broncos in an arms race over in the AFC.  The rich are getting richer in a way that you just don’t see very often in the NFL (the rich tend to get richer in the NBA or MLB more often), thanks to the salary cap bump for all teams.

We all know how difficult it is to repeat as champs.  It almost NEVER happens.  If ever there was a team that could do it, you’d think the Seahawks would be th at team, but I dunno.  The NFC is STACKED.  This isn’t like back in the day when the Cowboys could hack through the NFC like warm butter before beating up on the Bills in the Super Bowl.  There are five or six other legitimate contenders in the NFC, with another small handful that could surprise.

That’s enough doubt to play it straight, accept my $800, and blow it some other way (I’ve always wanted to learn how to play craps).

But, then I get to thinking:  why CAN’T the Seahawks win it all?

Let’s get into this.  Everyone is SO FUCKING FREAKED OUT about all the guys we’re losing.  But, you know what?  Who have we lost, really?  I’d say, we lost three guys:  Tate, Bryant, and Clemons.  The rest of them were backups or were beat out by better players.  So, why don’t we focus on who’s still here?

Russell Wilson, for starters.  With Tarvaris Jackson as his backup just in case.  I’d say the depth and talent at the quarterback position is championship calibre.

Marshawn Lynch.  With Turbin and Christine Michael as his backups.  Lynch still has what it takes to play at a high level.  And, if he gets hurt or starts to fall off, we’ve got the crazy-talent of Michael to step up to the streets.

Percy Harvin.  With Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse.  And some other fringe roster guys to battle it out.  And a whole draft full of guys who could step up and be the next Golden Tate.  And who knows?  Maybe Sidney Rice comes back and wins a job.

Okung, Unger, Sweezy.  These three guys have been your starting left tackle, center, and right guard for the better part of the last two years.  We’ve also got the aforementioned Bowie & Bailey who looked solid, as well as James Carpenter, who has a lot of starting experience.  And, most importantly, we have Tom Cable.  I’m not worried about right tackle or the guard spots in the least.

Zach Miller.  With Luke Willson and Anthony McCoy.  Maybe the Seahawks go out and get another tight end in free agency, maybe they select one high in the draft.  Or, maybe we just stick with Zach Miller because he’s awesome.

Aside from Tate, we’re really not missing much of a beat on offense in 2014.  Tate can be replaced.  Look for Kearse to keep making an impact.  And, if we sign a Jermichael Finley, then we’ve just upgraded at a position that hasn’t been known to be all that offensively-minded around these parts.

On defense, we’ve got Mebane, Bennett, Avril, McDaniel and Jordan Hill.  I know Hill didn’t play much, but I would argue that’s because the guys ahead of him were lights out.  Hill has talent.  I have faith he’ll be around here and producing for a long time.  Also, we kept Benson Mayowa around for a reason:  he’s got some pass-rushing chops.  With a year in our system, he could really take a big step forward in Training Camp and earn himself some playing time.  AND, don’t forget Greg Scruggs.  He got some snaps in as a rookie.  I know he missed all of last year due to injury, but by all accounts he’s been working his ass off to get back into playing shape.  I would expect he makes a big impact this year.  We’ve got other depth type guys, as well as the draft, as well as any gems we’re able to pluck from free agency.  I think we’ll be fine.

As for our linebackers, we will have EVERYBODY BACK.  Well, everybody who matters anyway:  Wagner, Wright, Smith, and Irvin.  Heath Farwell will probably be a casualty, but then again, maybe not?  This team values special teams like no other, and he’s the king of special teams for the Seahawks.  We managed to keep him last year, I don’t see why we don’t try to keep him again.

And, in the secondary, we have a full Legion of Boom:  Sherman, Thomas, Chancellor, and Maxwell.  With a rock-solid Lane as our nickel corner.  Nobody likes losing Maragos (who was another special teams standout and backup safety), but we’ve got Shead who had some playing time last year as a capable backup.  Jeron Johnson is also a capable backup, if he can just stay healthy.  Beyond that, it’s a crapshoot.  Depth in the secondary is a REAL concern, especially if we’re talking about any extended injuries to our starters.  That having been said, I will counter with this:  these Seahawks coaches – if they know ANYTHING – know how to coach up the secondary.  Where have all of these guys come from?  The 4th & 5th & 6th rounds of the draft.  The CFL.  The scrap heap.  All of them (aside from Earl Thomas, a first rounder) would be considered diamonds in the rough who have made their mark because this coaching staff has worked its magic.

So, you see what I’m talking about, right?  This team is intact!  This team is solid!  And, as long as we don’t dick around with the kicker, we should be intact and solid from top to bottom.

I think I’m going to do it!  Yeah!  Well, how about this:  I’ll save my $800 ticket for a rainy day.  If I lose all the money I come down with in the first couple of nights, then I’ll cash the $800 and use it to have fun.  But, if I have somehow managed to not jinx myself and come away somewhat even by the time Saturday night rolls around, I’m going to take that ticket, I’m going to get a picture of me with my money (as it may be the last time I see it), and I’m going to turn around and put it BACK on the Seahawks to win it all!

Maybe I can just do this ever year.  Keep going to Tahoe in March, keep putting money on the Seahawks to win it all, and keep generating championship parades for the city of Seattle.  All the while increasing my next year’s Tahoe bankroll by leaps and bounds!

What Will It Take For The Seahawks To Repeat As World Champions?

Normally, in the days & weeks following the end of a Seahawks season, after lamenting where it all went wrong, I’d look forward to see what the Seahawks could do to be even BETTER next year and go all the way.

Well, suffice it to say, this year is a little different.  The Seahawks are the best team in football.  They WON the Super Bowl.  Granted, you’ll always accept your team getting a little better, even if they’re coming off of a season where they won it all, but in reality I’m not expecting other teams to magically become SO much better that we’d have to be any more improved than we were in 2013.

Essentially, what I’m saying here is:  we just need to maintain the status quo.

If I could bring this same exact team back next year in its entirety, I would do it in a heartbeat.  But, of course, that’s not going to happen.  Guys are going to be getting raises.  Free agents are going to command more money than we can spend under the salary cap.  I’ve more or less gotten into that in a previous post, so I’ll use this space today to be a little more broad in my thinking.

For starters, I think we’re going to have to get younger along the offensive line.  We’ve been blessed with another year with Tom Cable, so I suggest we put that time to good use.  Michael Bowie and Alvin Bailey should be starting for this team in 2014.  One of them (likely Bowie) should be our right tackle, and the other (likely Bailey) should be our left guard.  I’m not saying we need to cut the cord with James Carpenter as of yet (let him duke it out for that left guard spot if need be), but we most certainly should cut the cord when it comes to McQuistan and Giacomini.  The way I see it, we got by last year with more or less an average offensive line.  I think we can replace those two veterans with younger guys and achieve the depth we need.

Before we get into what the Seahawks should do in the draft, I should remind everyone that we don’t have a third rounder (thanks to the Percy Harvin trade).  In essence, we have two “high” draft picks (1st & 2nd), three mid-round picks (4th & two 5ths), and two late-round picks (6th & 7th).  I don’t know if there will be any compensatory picks, nor do I know if we’ll be wheeling and dealing for more draft picks (though, you’d have to think we’ll trade back at least once to get some more guys).

For my money, I’d like to see this team address the offensive line just as they’ve been doing:  late round picks & undrafted guys.

In those first couple of picks, I’d like to see this team go after two of the three following position groups:  wide receiver, tight end, defensive line.  At some point, this team is going to have to find a way to save money in these areas.  We can’t keep over-paying Zach Miller forever, so if someone like ASJ falls to the end of the first round, I’d give him every opportunity to win this team’s starting tight end job.  Between ASJ and Luke Willson, I think you’re set at that position (you can find a third tight end anywhere, for peanuts, if need be).

This team is also in need of cheaper big bodies among the defensive line.  I think it’s wise to cut Clemons and re-sign Michael Bennett; I don’t think you lose a whole lot in your pass rushing abilities.  I’m thinking more along the defensive tackle realm with this high draft pick.  Brandon Mebane and Red Bryant won’t be around (and healthy) forever.  I think you take a shot in this year’s draft AND next year’s draft to try to find replacements.  If you can’t get two starting defensive tackles in three draft classes (including 2013’s, assuming Jesse Williams will be able to participate in football activities), then I don’t know what to tell you.  All I know is, there is money to be saved in the defensive line, as the Seahawks spend the most in that position among any team in the NFL.

Also, I know everyone thinks we’re all set in the wide receiver department, but my question is:  are we?  Yes, we all assume Sidney Rice will be gone.  That leaves Percy Harvin and Jermaine Kearse, with Doug Baldwin likely to be back and Golden Tate a free agent.  Even if this team re-signs both Baldwin and Tate, there are two issues at play.  First, that does nothing to improve your size at that position.  Second, we will still need depth in a couple years when more decisions need to be made.  Will Harvin ever play a full season?  What if he comes back next year and only plays in half of the games?  Odds are, this team will have to cut Harvin after three years regardless, because his contract is way too high and there will be other guys to better spend that money on.  We need to keep re-stocking the back-end of this position, especially because it usually takes at least a couple years before a wide receiver really breaks through.

Yes, a tall, athletic receiver in the first or second round could be exactly what this team needs.  And, if Tate happens to walk, then this position is in even more need!

So, in summation, the offense needs to supplant their two older free agent offensive linemen with the two rookies from 2013 (as well as replace the depth with low-end draft picks and undrafted free agents).  The offense should try to re-sign both Tate & Baldwin if possible, while also looking to draft a tall, athletic receiver.  The Seahawks should absolutely draft ASJ and – if they do – waive Zach Miller.  The Seahawks need to stay away from adding any more running backs.  And, I wouldn’t be opposed to bringing back Tarvaris Jackson as a backup QB if he’s willing.

Let’s move on to the defense now.  Brandon Browner is gone.  Walter Thurmond is most likely gone.  That doesn’t decimate our starting secondary, as Byron Maxwell is still under contract, but it cuts into our depth a little bit.  Jeremy Lane will be back as a nickel corner, which is a godsend.  If we end up letting Thurmond walk, I’d recommend using one of our mid-round picks on another cornerback, because why not?  If you’re thinking long-term, then you’re thinking Earl Thomas and Richard Sherman are going to command huge salaries.  Hopefully, they’ll get those salaries and hopefully the Seahawks are the team that pays them.  If we assume 3/4 of our Legion of Boom will be here long term, then you have to assume that other 1/4 will be part of a rotating cast of characters.  Like the Spinal Tap drummer, only hopefully less injury-prone.

What I’m getting at is:  you can’t pay Sherman, Thomas, Chancellor, AND Maxwell huge salaries and think you’re going to get away with it.  I think you have to let Maxwell go after his contract runs out.  Which shouldn’t be a huge deal, as long as we’re able to draft guys and coach them up like we’ve coached up Maxwell and Co.  But, to do that, you have to continuously draft guys and keep them on your roster until it’s their time to step up.

So, the Seahawks need a mid-round cornerback.  They also need to get Earl Thomas extended.  And, they could either try to extend Sherman now, or let his contract expire and try to deal with it after the season.  I’d prefer to get everyone locked up all at once, but that might be a pipe dream.

With the linebackers, I don’t think you get too crazy.  You leave Malcolm Smith in there on the weak side, you leave Bobby Wagner in there in the middle, and you put K.J. Wright back over to the strong side.  Bruce Irvin probably needs to go back to the defensive line and tend to that LEO position (which will be vacated when we dump Clemons).  It might be a good idea to pick up a mid-to-late round linebacker who is also a standout on special teams, because I don’t know how much longer you can keep paying Heath Farwell the money he deserves.  With the veteran’s minimum increasing with every year he’s in the league, there’s some moderate savings to be had by picking up someone younger to go in his place.

Along the line, as I said before, I think you draft a defensive tackle.  High if possible, but if no one is there, then in the mid rounds at least.  I think you put Bruce Irvin in at the LEO defensive end position, as part of a rotation with Michael Bennett; when Irvin’s in there, you slide Bennett inside to rush from the tackle spot.  I’d really love it if this team could find a way to keep Red Bryant, as I’ve gone into before, because that reduces the amount of turnover in a very volatile spot on the defense.  If you assume Clinton McDonald gets more money elsewhere, I think we can still maintain some semblance of what we had in 2013.

Ideally doh, the D-Line looks like this:

  • Michael Bennett
  • Brandon Mebane
  • Jordan Hill
  • Red Bryant
  • Bruce Irvin
  • Cliff Avril
  • Greg Scruggs (coming off of an IR’d 2013)
  • Jesse Williams
  • And a couple more guys for depth (either via the draft, or guys who recently signed futures contracts)

Also, there’s Tony McDaniel, but I don’t see him returning.  I could see the Seahawks going after another Tony McDaniel “type” in free agency, though, playing for a minimal amount, and pushing Jesse Williams for a roster spot.  Obviously, you can’t predict injuries and such, so I wouldn’t expect this to be the roster on Opening Day or anything, but this is essentially what I’d like to see as the plan for the Seahawks.

Again, in summation:  the defense should draft for depth along the linebackers and cornerbacks positions in the mid-to-back end of the draft, they should draft in the upper area for defensive tackle, they should re-sign Michael Bennett and extend Thomas & Sherman, and they should figure out a way to keep Red Bryant around.

With Rice, Clemons, and Miller gone, as well as some of our pricier offensive linemen and depth guys, I would hope that would be enough to do all of the important things this team needs to do (new contracts for free agent receivers and defenders).  Then again, this organization has been full of surprises from Day 1 since Pete Carroll and John Schneider took over, so this entire post is most likely going to be rendered pointless in a matter of time.

Your Seattle Seahawks Super Bowl XLVIII Roster

Assuming nothing changes between now and February 2nd, the following will be the 53 guys on the roster for The Big Game.

For the record, 32 of 53 were either drafted by the organization, or were undrafted rookie free agents.  They include the following:

  • Brandon Mebane – 2007 Draft
  • Red Bryant – 2008 Draft
  • Max Unger – 2009 Draft

2010 Draft

  • Russell Okung
  • Earl Thomas
  • Golden Tate
  • Walter Thurmond
  • Kam Chancellor

2011 Draft

  • James Carpenter
  • K.J. Wright
  • Richard Sherman
  • Byron Maxwell
  • Malcolm Smith
  • Doug Baldwin (undrafted)
  • Ricardo Lockette (undrafted)
  • Mike Morgan (undrafted)

2012 Draft

  • Bruce Irvin
  • Bobby Wagner
  • Russell Wilson
  • Robert Turbin
  • Jeremy Lane
  • J.R. Sweezy
  • Derrick Coleman (undrafted)
  • Jermaine Kearse (undrafted)
  • DeShawn Shead (undrafted)

2013 Draft

  • Christine Michael
  • Jordan Hill
  • Luke Willson
  • Michael Bowie
  • Alvin Bailey (undrafted)
  • Caylin Hauptmann (undrafted)
  • Benson Mayowa (undrafted)

Of course, this list doesn’t include guys on the Injured Reserve or P.U.P. lists.  This is just the 53 players eligible to play on Super Bowl Sunday.

By the way, would you look at that 2010 draft again?  Holy SHIT!  Three Pro Bowlers, a starting wide receiver, and your nickel cornerback.  In fact, if you look at those first three drafts by John Schneider and Pete Carroll, you’ve got 12 of your 22 starters (sometimes 13, depending on whether Carpenter gets the nod over McQuistan or Bowie), with guys like Thurmond, Smith, Lane, Kearse, and Turbin playing quality minutes.  Just amazing.

Of course, your three elder statesmen are Mebane, Bryant, and Unger, the only three draft picks the team has retained from the pre-Carroll/Schneider Era.

Next up, you’ve got your guys acquired in trade:

  • Chris Clemons (3/16/2010 – with a 4th round pick from Philly for Darryl Tapp)
  • Marshawn Lynch (10/5/2010 – from Buffalo for 4th round pick in 2011 & 5th round pick in 2012)
  • Clinton McDonald (8/29/2011 – from Cincinnati for Kelly Jennings)
  • Percy Harvin (3/11/2013 – from Minnesota for 1st & 7th round picks in 2013 & 3rd round pick in 2014)

Aside from the Harvin trade (which I contend the jury is still out on), I can’t tell which trade worked out best for the Seahawks.  In McDonald, we got a steady rotational inside presence on the D-Line (AND we got rid of a liability in our secondary, for a 2-birds/1-stone type of deal).  In Clemons, we got a guy who averaged double-digit sacks in his first three seasons with the Seahawks.  And, in Lynch, we got an elite, every-down running back.  It’s an embarrassment of riches!  Trading with John Schneider should come with a Surgeon General’s Warning, because it’s seriously bad for your health.

Up next, we have the guys signed as free agents (or claimed off of waivers, denoted with ***):

  • Jon Ryan – 9/9/2008

The only free agent signed prior to the Schneider/Carroll regime still on the team.

  • Clint Gresham – 8/1/2010
  • Michael Robinson – 9/6/2010 (then cut & re-signed 10/22/2013)
  • Lemuel Jeanpierre – 9/6/2010
  • Breno Giacomini – 9/28/2010

Members of the 2010 team, we’ve got our long-snapper, our starting fullback, our backup center, and our starting right tackle.

  • Paul McQuistan – 1/28/2011
  • Tarvaris Jackson – 7/29/2011 (then traded & re-signed 6/14/2013)
  • Zach Miller – 8/3/2011
  • Steven Hauschka – 9/4/2011 ***
  • Chris Maragos – 9/22/2011
  • Heath Farwell – 10/19/2011

Members of the 2011 team, we’ve got our sometimes-starting left guard, our backup quarterback, our starting tight end, our kicker, and two special teams standouts in Maragos & Farwell.

  • Bryan Walters – 12/20/2012
  • Cliff Avril – 3/13/2013
  • Michael Bennett – 3/15/2013
  • Tony McDaniel – 3/28/2013
  • O’Brien Schofield – 7/27/2013 ***
  • Kellen Davis – 9/11/2013

No big free agents left over from the 2012 team (Walters was a practice squad player when he signed originally).  A lot of pieces were already in place by the time we got to our current team, but there is no more important stretch of days (aside from a couple of the drafts, of course) than those two weeks in March when we signed Avril, Bennett, and McDaniel.  Mother of God!  Essentially, you’ve got our pass-rush unit right there in those three guys.  All made possible thanks to our quarterback earning well under a million dollars.

Add ’em all up, and you’ve got your 53-man roster.  Probably the deepest roster in the league.  And if you line ’em all up, our starters look something like this:

  • WR – Golden Tate – Drafted
  • LT – Russell Okung – Drafted
  • LG – James Carpenter – Drafted
  • C – Max Unger – Drafted
  • RG – J.R. Sweezy – Drafted
  • RT – Breno Giacomini – Free Agent
  • TE – Zach Miller – Free Agent
  • WR – Doug Baldwin – Undrafted Rookie Free Agent
  • QB – Russell Wilson – Drafted
  • FB – Michael Robinson – Free Agent
  • RB – Marshawn Lynch – Trade

In our base, 12 offense (1 tight end, 2 backs), you’ve got mostly draft picks/rookie free agents (7 of 11).  In our 21 offense (2 tight ends, 1 back), you’ve got 8 of 11.  In our 11 (1 tight end, 1 back) offense (assuming Harvin is playing), we’re back to 7 of 11.  When we go 4-wides, it’s back up to 8 of 11.

Now, for the defense:

  • DE – Chris Clemons – Trade
  • DT – Brandon Mebane – Drafted
  • DT – Tony McDaniel – Free Agent
  • DE – Red Bryant – Drafted
  • SAM – Bruce Irvin – Drafted
  • MIKE – Bobby Wagner – Drafted
  • WILL – K.J. Wright – Drafted
  • CB – Byron Maxwell – Drafted
  • SS – Kam Chancellor – Drafted
  • FS – Earl Thomas – Drafted
  • CB – Richard Sherman – Drafted

That’s a whopping 9 of 11 in our base defense that we drafted!  Incredible!  Reserves who get frequent playing time are Malcolm Smith, Walter Thurmond, and Jeremy Lane – all drafted.  When we get into our Nascar package, that’s when the number starts to go down (with a line consisting of Avril, Bennett, McDonald, and Clemons).  But, even with that lineup, we’re still talking about 7 of 11 guys who were drafted.

This is how it’s done, people!  Soak it in!  I know we’re not used to having a hyper-competent general manager, but this is what it looks like.  You couldn’t cherry-pick a roster more effective and complete than this one (within the constraints of the salary cap, of course).  Just an overall amazing feat, and it happened (predominantly) in four short years!