Seahawks Death Week: Ranking The Holes To Fill

It’s not all sunshine and puppydog noses in Seahawksland after an unexpected playoff berth in 2018. True, the floor was not as far down as we all thought coming off a disappointing 2017, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty of work to do. Here’s my ranking of the holes the Seahawks need to fill heading into the 2019 season, from most important to least.

#1 – Safety

Bradley McDougald is locked up through 2020, at a relative bargain for what he brought to the table when he was healthy the last couple years. The best part about B McD is he can play either strong or free safety, which is crucial because I’m making this position not only the most important to shore up in the offseason, but the biggest priority for the upcoming NFL Draft. That doesn’t NECESSARILY mean I need the Seahawks to use a first round pick on one; but I need for whoever they do end up drafting to hit and hit big for this defense to work. Ideally, we’d find a more capable Earl Thomas replacement at free safety, and slide McDougald over to strong safety, where he’s probably better suited to play. Sure, keep Tedric Thompson and Delano Hill around as depth/competition, but we can’t be counting on them longterm, not with what little improvement we saw over the course of the 2018 season.

#2 – Defensive End 2

DE 1 is obviously Frank Clark, and he’s coming back one way or another (either via a longterm extension, or a franchise tag). The real need is at that end spot opposite Clark. I like Jacob Martin an awful lot based on what he was able to do as a rookie, but at this point in his career he’s more of a rotational guy, and this team needs veteran stability at the other pass rusher spot. Ideally, there will be a stud free agent or two out on the open market, like in 2013 when we were able to sign Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett. I don’t know who the 2018 equivalent is, but that’s my idea.

#3 – Guards

This is most easily remedied by re-signing Fluker & Sweezy. I could see one of them maybe moving on, but losing both feels unrealistic. Behind them, we have Pocic and Simmons, a bust and an injury waiting to happen. I like Pocic and Simmons as depth right now more than I like handing them the job out of Training Camp, even though both are younger and with higher ceilings. Could the Seahawks get by with those two? Sure, but I don’t want to know what kind of growing pains this offense needs to go through to make it happen. Just bring back Fluker & Sweezy.

#4 – Weakside Linebacker

K.J. Wright is as good as gone, so this spot could certainly use some shoring up. At this point, we don’t know if Kendricks slots better at this spot or the strong side, but that’s certainly an option. Austin Calitro, I thought, acquitted himself well in his fill-in duty. The draft could also be an option, though obviously not with a high pick. Regardless, there’s going to be an immediate drop-off from the longtime quality we got from Wright; the idea is to not fall too far off his level.

#5 – Kicker

It’s time to do it up right. Ideally, we would’ve solved this puzzle in 2018 with Jason Myers, but we opted to go for the old man, which was fine for the short term, but a disaster overall. Kicker is a tricky thing to fix, as they’re so varied from year to year. Is there an elite leg coming out of college like Michael Dickson last year? God, I hope so.

#6 – Defensive Tackle 2 (or 3)

Jarran Reed has distinguished himself as a bona fide every-down DT in this league. Given his pass rush ability, he has certainly proven he’s more than just a widebody nose tackle. And, with the emergence of Poona Ford as a run stopping machine (and ostensibly the only one on the entire line), you could easily slide him into the starting nose tackle spot, meaning we need a third guy who can sort of do both, stop the run and maybe rush the passer a little. Really, we’re looking for a cheap, veteran, Tony McDaniel type, but GOD DAMMIT we need to fix the run defense from day 1!

#7 – Wide Receiver 3 (or 4)

David Moore could assert himself into this role, but he really disappeared toward the end of 2018 after a delightful start, so everything is up in the air with him right now. Jaron Brown picked things up in his place, but honestly he finished the year with 14 receptions on 19 targets, and his cap hit goes up to nearly $4 million in 2019, which is too much for what he’s bringing to the table. Better to get out from under that and bring in someone cheaper and better if we can.

#8 – Strongside Linebacker

Barkevious Mingo is signed through 2019, at a cap hit of $4.4 million, which isn’t outrageous, but he was another guy who disappeared toward the end of the season. I feel like his spot could be better filled by someone younger and cheaper, probably in the draft.

#9 – Cornerback 3 (or 4)

You’d think I’d have this higher, since I’m essentially begging the team to re-sign Justin Coleman. But, the Seahawks always seem to find a way to get by with whoever they put over there. Ideally, Coleman is extended while they also draft (late) his future replacement. Akeem King should be back too, which gives us nice depth, as I thought he played pretty well down the stretch.

#10 – Running Back 3

Figure Carson is your RB 1 and Penny will elevate to RB 2, this is your Mike Davis spot, only probably younger and cheaper.

#11 – Quarterback 2

Don’t go breaking the bank on Brett Hundley, that’s all I’m saying. Really, don’t break the bank on anyone. In any scenario where Russell Wilson goes down, it’s tank-city.

#12 – Tight End

Vannett is still on his rookie deal through 2019 and he’s fine. Dissly should be back to 100% by Training Camp, so he’s also fine. Ed Dickson, however, sees his cap hit triple over the next two years. He’s ostensibly TE 1, but he had only 12 catches on 13 targets, so I’m not convinced that’s worthy of over $4 million per year, regardless of what he brings to the table with his blocking. Seems like we could get by with the other two and bring in another cheap vet.

Seahawks Death Week: What Did We Figure Out?

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

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

Running Backs

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

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

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

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

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

Pass Rush

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

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

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

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

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

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

Secondary

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

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

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

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

Tight End

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

Oh yeah, we all knew.

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

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

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

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

Offensive Line

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

Not Winners & Losers Of The Seahawks’ Game Against The Vikings

Looks like we DIDN’T need to take the Vikings seriously!

What an odd game.  It went sort of the way I thought it might, then again totally against expectations!  True:  the Seahawks did struggle to move the ball in general; but actually we ran the ball better than I ever could’ve imagined, 42 times for 214 yards and a 5.1 yard average.  The passing game for both teams was non-existent, which amounted to the Seahawks clinging to a 3-0 lead through three quarters before putting them away – following a late scoring spree – by a final of 21-7.

What I’m Geeked Out About After Thirteen Games

This was the most impressive defensive effort of the season by these Seahawks.  Sure, they were pretty overwhelming against the Raiders in London, and they were all over the place against the Cowboys early in the season, but this was complete and total domination, against a highly-rated offense.  I mean, it doesn’t sound like a lot, but the Seahawks held Diggs & Thielen to a combined 9 catches for 146 yards.  When you figure how much of the Vikings’ offense revolves around those two guys, that’s pretty amazing.  Thielen in particular was held in check, as I don’t think he even had a target his way until the second half!

The Seahawks only ended up with a couple sacks, but were in Cousins’ face all night.  He rarely had a clean pocket, and was frequently running for his life.  Of course, with the coverage being so tight down field, this harmonious convergence was something we’ve been waiting for all year with this team.  Nice to see everyone stepping up when it matters most!

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

Hey, where do you think YOU’RE going?!  I’m not done talking about the defense!

How about that night by Frank Clark?  He was a BEAST!  4 Tackles (1 for loss), a sack, and a couple hits on the QB.  How about Jacob Martin with his second career sack!  How about his sack turning into a fumble that Justin Coleman picked up and took back to the house?!

Also, how about those cornerbacks?  Griffin and Flowers combined for 15 tackles and 3 passes defended; they tightened up their games in a big way!

HOW ABOUT BOBBY WAGNER JUMPING OVER THE LINE AND BLOCKING A FIELD GOAL?!?!?!

Was it legal?  FUCK YOU AND YOUR PRECIOUS RULES!  The guy just did something fucking amazing, so how about we appreciate a physical act that the vast majority of humanity would be too afraid to even TRY, let alone have the ability to achieve it!

Also, how about a quick shout-out to Akeem King for a nasty blitz and an even nastier hit on the quarterback to force an incompletion?!

All in all, the defense was the star of the show, so what’s the point in talking about anything else?

Let’s Talk About Chris Carson

He’s been dealing with nagging injuries all year – he dislocated a fucking FINGER in last week’s game – and yet there he was, dragging around those Vikings defenders for extra yards and extra first downs.  90 yards on 22 carries and a TD doesn’t sound like a whole lot, but that was a MAN’S performance last night!  I still contend that Vikings run defense is stout, and Carson – with a little help from the O-Line, of course – made them look ordinary.  In the days leading up to the game, they all talked a good game – particularly Sheldon Richardson and Tom Johnson, ex-Seahawks – but in the end those guys were non-factors.

Yes, there’s committment to the run and all that, but this thing is extra special when Carson is back there running over fools.  On the year, he’s carried it 179 times for 794 yards (4.4 per touch) and 5 TDs.  Again, that doesn’t sound like a whole lot, but considering what he’s had to deal with injurywise, combined with the fact that this offense really likes to spread the love around, I think it’s remarkable.

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

David Moore had a pretty bad game.  His best play was probably preventing an interception on an under-thrown deep ball by Wilson.  There was a picture-perfect touchdown opportunity, but he failed to drag his foot down in bounds.  That was the same drive that ended the half on an interception, so it ended up being a 7-point mistake in what was a 3-0 game for three quarters.

Speaking of which, Russell Wilson had probably his worst game in a winning effort.  37.9 passer rating.  10/20 for only 72 yards and an INT.  His day was somewhat salvaged by the 61 yards on the ground (40 of which came on a single play), but otherwise he was a non-factor.  I think he could’ve turned it around if we needed him to, but the run game was working so well, it was okay to write this one off.

It was a bummer that Doug Baldwin couldn’t go, as he was sorely missed in the passing game.  But, at this point, the Seahawks are 8-5 and just need to beat either the 49ers or Cardinals to guarantee a playoff spot.  Better to get guys like Baldwin and Fluker and whoever else completely healthy for the playoffs.  We’re gonna need those dudes when it’s Loser Goes Home!

Not Winners & Losers Of The Seahawks’ Game Against The Packers

The Seahawks temporarily saved their season with a 27-24 victory over the Packers.  The win brought us back to .500 at 5-5, while the Pack fell to 4-5-1, with their playoff chances taking a significant hit.  The Seahawks were down 14-3 early, but rallied in the second quarter and put the game away in the final frame with some rock-solid defense and just enough big plays on offense.

What I’m Geeked Out About After Ten Games

I haven’t gotten to say this a lot this year, but what a game by the defense!  The Packers were up 21-17 at halftime, but only scored 3 points the rest of the way.  Just fantastic!  I was convinced we’d never see anything even remotely resembling a pass rush, but here we ended up with 5 sacks on the day, generally making Aaron Rodgers’ life miserable.  Frank Clark, of course, led the way with 2 sacks.  He’s already got 10 on the year, tying his previous career high from 2016, with 6 more games to go.  That man is going to make a TON of money this offseason.  Maybe even more importantly, Jacob Martin and Rasheem Green both had their first career sacks as the young guys work their way into the rotation.  And, while he was held sackless, Bobby Wagner led the way with 9 tackles and was a dominant force all game.

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

Russell Wilson overcame a slow start to go 21/31 for 225 and 2 TDs against 0 INTs.  For the season, he’s hitting 66.2% of his passes for 2,192 yards, 23 TDs and only 5 INTs, which is good for a 110.2 rating.  That’s Top 5 Elite Quarterback shit!

Chris Carson also overcame a slow start – fumbling on the first play of the game – to run for 83 yards on 17 carries with a TD.  The rest of the rotation was similarly on top of their games; Penny had 46 yards on 8 carries, as he’s looking more and more like the guy we wasted spent a first round pick on; and Davis chipped in with 26 yards on 4 carries, mostly on our clock-killing 4:20 drive to close out the game.  All told, the team managed 173 more yards on the ground in this one, with a 4.9 average.  Not giving Aaron Rodgers the ball back with the game on the line?  Absolutely the reason we won the game.

A tip of the hat to the big 3 receivers, as Baldwin got his first TD of the year (along with 52 yards on 7 catches), Moore had four big catches for 57 yards, and Lockett led the way with 71 yards on 5 catches.  To top it all off, Ed Dickson had his 2nd TD of the season, and the game-winner as it turns out.

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

The big problem area in this one ended up being the secondary.  Too many deep balls down field, which the elimination of is supposed to be this team’s specialty.  And no one was immune.  Shaq Griffin bit hard on one, Tre Flowers was routinely challenged, Bradley McDougald gave up a long TD, and even Justin Coleman got in on the action of getting beat.  Not to be outdone, Austin Calitro got the start for K.J. Wright and I really thought that was going to cost us the game, as the Packers got the better of him seemingly the entire first half.  Now, obviously, Aaron Rodgers is going to make a lot of secondaries around the league look pretty foolish on the regular, but it’s particularly alarming to see the young guys continue to repeat the same mistakes.

The good news is, we got through this one without a bevy of new injuries.  Now, with 10 days to prepare for a HUGE showdown in Carolina, let’s hope the team is able to take advantage of this scheduling gift.

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

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

What I’m Geeked Out About After Nine Games

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let’s Talk About Competitions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I’m Perfectly Okay With The Seahawks Not Trading For Anyone

There was a lot of news around the NFL yesterday, as some pretty prominent names switched teams.  The Rams got more pass rush help (as if they needed more) in Dante Fowler.  Demaryius Thomas will now disappoint for the Texans instead of the Broncos.  Golden Tate looks to contend for another Super Bowl, this time with the Eagles.  The Packers are apparently sold on their secondary being good-enough, as they gave away a still-productive Ha Ha Clinton-Dix to the Redskins.

And, I’m sure there are others I’m forgetting, but I don’t care all that much because it doesn’t involve the Seahawks.  All the Seahawks did yesterday was waive Brandon Marshall, who wasn’t really playing a whole lot as it is (and when he did play, he was dropping balls left and right).

I pointed out yesterday (on Twitter) that I didn’t really want the Seahawks to trade for anyone, and someone responded that the Seahawks need Bruce Irvin.  I can see why someone would say that.  Obviously, the Seahawks are well aware of his abilities.  The Raiders are in full-on tank mode, shipping off veterans as they collect high draft picks.  And, what have we been talking about all year as the Seahawks’ most pressing need?  Pass rush!  So, yeah, Bruce Irvin makes a lot of sense.

But, does he?  I honestly haven’t paid him much mind since he went to the Raiders.  What I know from his Seahawks days is that he was drafted to be our LEO defensive end.  He got 8 sacks as a rookie, which is still the most sacks he’s gotten in a season.  By 2015 – his last year in Seattle – Irvin was converted to a SAM linebacker.  Like I said, I don’t know what he’s been up to in Oakland, but if he’s still a SAM, I’ve got news for you:  so is Barkevious Mingo.  Mychal Kendricks can also play that position, and he’s set to return to the Seahawks from his suspension later this season, in week 14.

Okay, so maybe we could’ve just played Irvin at defensive end.  I suppose that’s possible.  He’s still pretty under-sized at 250 pounds, so that hurts us in run defense.  Also, he has yet to really develop into a dominant pass rusher.  As I mentioned, his season high in sacks is still 8.  He’s had 18 total sacks in the last 2.5 seasons with the Raiders, which honestly isn’t all that impressive.  He has 3 sacks in 7 games this year, and I think he’s dealing with nagging injury issues.  Regardless, he’s not exactly filling up the stat sheet with his production.

We know Frank Clark is better than Irvin.  I would argue Dion Jordan is better than Irvin when he’s healthy.  I also like the upside of both Jacob Martin and Rasheem Green and would prefer to see both of those guys gain experience through the second half of this season over someone like Irvin, who has a clear and defined ceiling (which, again, isn’t all that impressive).

Finally, there’s the matter of his contract.  He’s set to earn whatever $8 million is pro-rated over the rest of the season.  He’d be owed $9.25 million for 2019 if we opted to keep him, which isn’t a ton of money, but is probably money we can use to acquire better players in the offseason.  We could cut him after this year without a cap hit, at which point we’d be trading for a half-year rental.  How much would you be willing to give up for something like that?  For me, it wouldn’t be anything over a 6th round pick.  Is that something the Raiders would accept?  I highly doubt it.  See, they too can cut him after this year with no cap hit.  Odds are, if we wanted to bring Irvin back next year, we could sign him in the offseason for a lot less than $9 million, based on his NFL production across 7 seasons.

I’d rather the Seahawks just hang onto our draft picks, all things considered.

Most of all, I’m still a believer that the Seahawks aren’t a championship contender in 2018.  Now, given the way they’ve played the last few weeks, the Seahawks are certainly a lot better than I expected – and a lot closer to being a championship contender than I ever thought possible – but we’re still at least a year or two away from truly contending.  So, save that money to make big splashes in free agency next year, and save those draft picks to continue filling in the rest of the roster with young, hungry talent.  We’re not a Bruce Irvin (or, really, anyone else who would’ve been legitimately available in trade) away from making it back to the Super Bowl this year, so better not to panic and stay the course.

Things are still looking good!  The future looks bright!  Let’s just enjoy the ride as it’s been constructed.

Not Winners & Losers Of The Seahawks’ Game In Detroit

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

What I’m Geeked Out About After Seven Games

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let’s Talk About Competitions

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Seahawks Made The Most Of A Disaster Of A Football Weekend

My Sunday hangover was both literal and figurative.  It was hard to really get up for this game after what happened in the Husky game on Saturday.  There’s no “making up for” a loss to the Ducks (I’ll have more on this tomorrow).  So, I sat there, and I watched the whole dominating Seahawks affair, but at no point was I enjoying myself.  The wound was still too fresh.  Indeed, we’re going on 48 hours after the fact and I still can’t bring myself to dwell on it too much.

The Seahawks beat the hapless Raiders 27-3, and everything is blue in this world.

What I’m Geeked Out Still Numb About After Six Games

The obvious answer is to talk about the offensive line and the running game for the third consecutive week, but I’m gonna zag on this one.  The defense REALLY opened up some eyes here.  Last week’s overall performance against the Rams was pretty inspired, but the defense still gave up 33 points.  Without Earl Thomas, there’s more questions than answers with this secondary, and I wondered – heading into this one – if we’d continue to get scorched in the passing game.

But, this was as dominating a defensive performance as it gets, from soup to nuts!  Derek Carr averaged a measly 4.6 yards per attempt, as he looked to be consistently checking down to his running backs, or whoever was within 5 yards of the line of scrimmage.  I know we all love clowning on the Raiders under Jon Gruden, but their passing game – and really, their offense in general – has been pretty solid after their week 1 loss to the Rams.  Beastmode looks as strong as ever, and while he’s not getting the MOST out of Carr, he’s certainly getting more out of him than Jack Del Rio did in the last couple seasons.  But, in this one, the Seahawks had the gameplan to put their offense to sleep.

And hey!  What’s that I see?  Could it be?  A pass rush?!?!

You know it!  6 sacks!  2.5 from Frank Clark, who was a boss all day.  Jarran Reed had 1, as did Branden Jackson and Shamar Stephen (Quinton Jefferson had the 0.5, but also had 2 more tackles for loss on the day).  Now, I should point out that Tom Cable is the Raiders’ offensive line coach, so obviously theirs is one of the most inept units in the league (probably).  But, with this Seahawks pass rush unit, you’ll take what you can get.

The crown jewel of the whole thing was holding Beastmode himself to 45 yards on 13 carries.  And, as usual, most of those yards were after contact, as he just wills himself to fall forward on these go-nowhere rushes.  That guy is a living legend.

Other Things That Caught My Eye (In A Good Way) (But What Does It Matter Anyway?)

Let’s get back to the running game.  All in, we had 37 carries for 155 yards.  Carson led the way with 59, Penny got into the mix with 43, and Davis did his part with 21.  It’s good to see all those guys participate, as I still believe they’re all going to be vital in making the most out of this season.

Russell Wilson had another fantastic game.  He ran for 20 of those yards, looking to run more than he has in any other game this season.  He did most of his damage through the air though, going 17/23 for 222, with 3 TDs and 1 ill-advised INT into triple coverage.  It was sterling nonetheless.

Doug Baldwin got going, with 6 for 91.  David Moore continued to impress, with 2 for 47 and a TD.  Lockett caught another TD, as did Jaron Brown.  This is a formidable WR unit, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise!

Also, how about a nice word for the coaching staff?  They found an identity for this team and they’re sticking with it!  It’s working, after all, so it seems obvious, but how many times did we used to complain about Darrell Bevell out-thinking himself?  All too frequently going away from what was working in hopes of trying to outsmart the other team.  Sometimes, it’s better to just batter the other team into submission, thereby opening things up later in the game to do whatever you want.

I mean, the Seahawks REALLY looked like the more prepared team, from the opening gun.  We had a 14-play, 82 yard TD drive to start the game (the first time in 2 years since we scored a touchdown on our opening drive?) that took up half of the whole first quarter!  Then, as a proper bookend, after the Raiders kicked a meaningless field goal to pull the game to its final score, the Seahawks got the ball back with 8:25 left to go, and ran out ALL of the clock in 13 plays!  We were 9/13 on the day on 3rd down; we had 19 overall first downs.  Just a great, great day all around.

Let’s Talk About Competitions The Black Void Of Nothingness Because The Huskies Lost

Obviously, when you talk about holding a good passing game to next-to-nothing, you’re getting quality play out of your secondary.  I don’t have access to the All-22 tape, but I have to believe we saw a much better game out of Tedric Thompson as he continues to step up in Earl’s absence.  With nothing deep down field looking even enticing enough to ATTEMPT, I think that’s a great sign.

I saw Jacob Martin get a lot of play at defensive end, and he looked pretty disruptive.  Another great sign out of a young player we’re going to need to step up if we want to find a consistent pass rush in the second half of this season.

Finally, I’ll just say that I’m glad Tre Flowers was just cramping up, because for a while there I was worried we had another season-ending knee injury on our hands.

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

Hard to complain, honestly, when we’re talking about a 27-3 demolition.  We continue to get absolutely nothing out of C.J. Prosise and Dion Jordan, who were both inactive.  Also, I guess Naz Jones mysteriously lost the will to play competitive football?  What happened to THAT guy?  He was supposed to be one of our up-and-comers!

Looking ahead, we have a BYE week, before our our 5th road game out of 7 (though, to be fair, London was more of a home-style crowd than we had any right to expect, which is nice).

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

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

Quarterbacks

  • Russell Wilson
  • Alex McGough
  • Brett Hundley

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

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

Running Backs

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

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

Wide Receivers

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

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

Tight Ends

  • Nick Vannett
  • Will Dissly
  • Tyrone Swoopes

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

Offensive Line

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

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

Defensive Line

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

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

Linebackers

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

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

Cornerbacks

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

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

Safeties

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

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