The Seahawks Won One Helluva Game Over The Rams

That was IN-credible! I mean, where do you begin?

I don’t want to make this a total recap post, but that’s exactly what I’m gonna do let’s start with losing the toss, getting the ball first, then fumbling on that first possession. Just … not the way you want to start against the Rams, or ANY good team. Yet, somehow, after two drives of 23 total yards, the Seahawks were only down 6-0. What could be better than holding the Rams to field goals?

Well, forcing them to go scoreless the rest of the first half, until a 2-minute drive finally broke the string.

Before we get to that, we can’t talk about that game without talking about that throw to Lockett in the back corner of the endzone. Everyone on the planet thought Wilson – scrambling for his life, like he would do most of the evening – was throwing that ball out of bounds. But, he does this from time to time: he puts the ball in a spot where either our guy is going to make a highlight-reel catch, or it’s going to fall harmlessly out of bounds. It’s his way of taking a chance without REALLY taking any chances. If it connects, then great! He looks like a wizard and he makes his receiver look superhuman. If it doesn’t, then whatever, he was just throwing the ball away and the receiver still almost made an amazing play. From running to his left, throwing on the run – on a rope – to the dive, the extension, and getting both feet down clearly for the replay video to see, it was the best throw & catch of the season by far, all due respect to whatever Mahomes is doing in Kansas City.

The next touchdown was pretty special in its own right. The Seahawks did a good job of working the ball down to the Rams’ 40-yard line on a 2nd & 7. It was the perfect time to take a deep shot: you knew it, I knew it, the crowd knew it, even the Rams knew it. Play action, D.K. Metcalf gets beyond both defenders on his side, 40 yards in the air, wide open touchdown. Outstanding.

After that Jaron Brown fumble, I never would’ve believed the Seahawks would’ve been up 14-6 at one point in this game, with a chance to extend it. But, there you have it.

The Rams finally started to get their offensive mojo back on the drive after that Metcalf touchdown, but it was a remarkable play to strip Gurley of the ball deep in Seahawks’ territory. At that point, I was wondering if the Seahawks might put the game away in the first half and coast to a lopsided victory!

Indeed, we used a lot of rushes and chunk plays through the air to get into Rams’ territory, where we had 3rd & 1 at the 30-yard line at the 2-minute warning. The play was stuffed, but it was also a play I didn’t really love. The O-Line’s banged up and not totally recovered from the previous game, it was a long stretch play to the right side, giving the Rams a lot of time to fill the gaps. I would’ve loved to have seen a zone-read there, maybe one of those things where you go from the huddle, run up really fast and quick-snap it before they have a chance to really dig in on the other side of the line of scrimmage. But, whatever, it was still 4th & 1, and while I understand why we went for the field goal, I definitely feel like that was the time to go for it and REALLY put them away. Convert there, you get to run the clock down as far as you want, and you either get a better field goal opportunity (with no time left for the Rams to do anything), or you score a touchdown to go up 21-6 at half. Pete likes to get hormonal from time to time, but it’s never the times you WANT him to be hormonal; usually he does it and compounds the bad times we’re already experiencing, it’s rarely at a time to stomp on another team’s throat to really put them away.

As you could’ve seen coming a mile away, we missed the field goal, and the Rams went right down the field to bring the game to 14-13 at half. Just too easy, and a harbinger of bad things to come in the third quarter.

By winning the toss, the Rams got the ball after halftime, and what do you know? They went right down and scored ANOTHER touchdown, to go up 20-14. From there, you knew the shootout was on, and if we didn’t get an All Pro punt out of Dickson to pin them back at the 1-yard line (and if Goff wasn’t a mediocre quarterback who missed a potential 98-yard touchdown pass to Robert Woods), the Rams would’ve definitely scored more points in this one. As it stood, they scored on 4/5 drives starting with that one just before halftime.

Fortunately, after the Rams punted from their 2-yard line, the Seahawks drove down to re-take the lead at 21-20. That couldn’t stop the Rams from going right back the other way to make it 26-21 (failing on the 2-point conversion, in a game they’d go on to lose by 1 point).

Both teams traded field goals before the Seahawks went on another one of their long, clock-chewing drives. With over 9 minutes left in the game, the Seahawks took it 75 yards for a touchdown, leaving just over 2 minutes left to play. The failed 2-point conversion attempt on our end was just a fantastic play by the defender (on first glance, it looked like Metcalf should’ve had it, but no).

At 30-29, no one felt safe. The problem with missing the 2-pointer there is that we couldn’t quite eat up ALL of the clock, but we also very well could’ve shot ourselves in the foot. MAYBE, if we got lucky, and they drove down too quickly to kick the field goal, we could get one more crack at it.

Then, the Tedric Thompson interception happened. It was a spectacular play by him, tipping the ball with one hand on the turf, keeping it airborn long enough to corral it, then having the smarts to get back up and start running it back. Of course, this was a Rams game, and that means the refs made the WRONG call once again. For the second time in, what, four weeks? Saying nothing of the NFC Championship Game last year, but come on! They blew a fumble dead against the Saints that would’ve given them 7 points; who’s to say what the Seahawks could’ve done with a proper run-back of that INT? Who’s to say, at the very least, what we could’ve done with the extra yards?!

Do all the NFL referees own equity in the Los Angeles Rams or something? This is kind of becoming suspicious at this point. I mean, why are they getting ALL the calls?

Anyway, that INT was a blessing and a curse. It happened just before the 2-minute warning, and the Rams still had 2 time outs. The Seahawks ran the ball twice – which was the right thing to do – and got 8 yards out of the deal. The 3rd & 2 play, however, was probably dumber than not going for it on 4th down in the first half. An option play? When was the last time that ever worked in a big moment in the NFL? I like having the ball in Wilson’s hands, and I like there BEING options for a play, but there really should’ve been a passing element to that one. RPO baby! When he’s rolling out, fine, have Lockett there behind him as a possible pitch man. But, also run one of the tight ends out there in a route – maybe fake a block at first to throw them off the scent, or fall down or something – but when he was out in the open, he knew he wasn’t going to convert, and he pitched it: right there, we should’ve had someone leaking out for him to throw it to down field. It was ALMOST the perfect play, but it turned into a near disaster.

Luckily, I guess, we stayed in bounds and forced them to use their final time out. It’s always a different ballgame in a 2-minute drill when you don’t have any time outs left.

Nevertheless, it’s never ideal to give the Rams the ball with 98 seconds left, down a single point. Even if it is on their own 7-yard line.

True to form, the Rams marched right down the field. I liked the aggressiveness the defense showed; I didn’t see too many 3-man fronts. But, I wish they’d gone to the well more with blitzes straight up the middle, as opposed to those corner blitzes that take so long to develop. You really don’t have a lot of time against a Rams offense; by the time the corner blitz comes home, he’s already released the ball.

I honestly thought we were going to lose on that field goal. My worst nightmare would’ve been Pete Carroll calling time out right before Zuerlein’s miss, only to give him a second chance where he nails it. He was sort of kicking to that upright a lot; there was a field goal earlier in the game that just squeaked in on that side. Any way you slice it, that’s a kick he makes probably 95 times out of 100, so I feel VERY fortunate right now.

Kudos to Wilson and Carson, who I’m going up against in my fantasy league. 268 yards (on 17/23) with 4 TDs for Wilson; 118 rushing yards on 27 carries (plus a 5-yard receiving TD) for Carson. They crushed me, but more importantly they crushed the Rams (had they done all that and the Seahawks still lost, I’d be inconsolable right now).

Kudos to Dissly and Lockett, who combined for 132 yards on 8 receptions with a touchdown. Kudos to Al Woods for stuffing Goff at the goalline to prevent that 2-point conversion (also, what were they doing running a QB draw?). Kudos to Tedric again on that fantastic INT after having a rough season so far. Kudos to Clowney and/or Wagner for forcing that Gurley fumble. And Kudos to Poona Ford for that early tackle for loss that easily could’ve saved us 4 points by not allowing the Rams to convert and challenge for a TD on that field goal drive.

There’s a lot to like about this win, and it sets things up remarkably well the rest of the way. I’ve said all along that the Seahawks need to go 4-1 in their first five games, and run it back for the next five. Well, here we are, 4-1, with 10 days until we go to Cleveland (who will be coming off of a Monday Night game). From there, it’s a very reasonable slate until our Week 11 BYE. Let’s enjoy the weekend, everyone!

The Seahawks Beat The Cardinals In A Classic Get-Right Game

Really at no point during the game yesterday was I worried about the outcome. It didn’t even look like the Seahawks had to try all that hard to take care of business; it was the definition of Workmanlike.

Of course, I tried my best to conjure up some things to be concerned about heading into this game, and it was like they all read it down at Seahawks Headquarters and decided to respond with their game play.

For starters, I don’t remember us doing any dumb shit; that’s always a plus! Probably the dumbest thing I saw was David Johnson going off for 8 receptions and 99 yards, but if that’s the worst thing this defense did all day, then that’s certainly something you’ll live with 100 times out of 100. I’d still like to see some of the tackling get cleaned up, but we’re really picking nits at this point.

Next up, the running game was a legitimate concern, and not just because of Carson’s fumbling. He managed to make it through this one unscathed, and led a pretty generous attack with 104 yards on 22 carries (he also caught 4 for 41 for a nice overall day). The O-Line looked better than it has all year, which was nice.

Wide receiver depth is still a work in progress, but Wilson was smart about it in this one. He took advantage of our talent at tight end, with Dissly and newly-re-acquired Willson combining for 83 yards and a touchdown on 9 catches. That was always going to be a strength for us in this one, as the Cardinals had been handing out career games to opposing tight ends like lollipops at a doctor’s office. Also, the criminally-underutilized Jaron Brown made his presence felt in a relatively significant way (3 for 50); until we start getting more consistency out of guys like Moore and Metcalf, I feel like Brown needs to be more involved.

And, finally, there’s the front seven we all know and love! Wagner and Wright were all over the field making plays. Kendricks had 2 sacks and was a general thorn in Arizona’s side all day. Ansah had his first sack in a Seahawks uniform. Rasheem Green had an awesome play to sack Murray for a big loss when it was just the two of them in open field and he didn’t get juked out of his shoes. Collier and Poona and Woods and Q-Jeff all made their presences felt.

But, you can’t talk about this game without talking about the play of the day: Clowney’s one-handed interception-turned-touchdown. Just a tremendous athletic play! It got us out to a 10-0 lead and really set things up for us to step on their throats the rest of the game.

It wasn’t quite the offensive explosion I’ve been waiting for, but I also feel like we left points out on the field, and if we really needed to, we easily could’ve done whatever we wanted. This was a quintessential Get In & Get Out game for us. Lots of time-consuming drives, build up a comfortable cushion, and try to make it through without any more injuries. This was punctuated by our 15-play, 75-yard (technically 80, after a first down penalty pushed us back before it even started) touchdown drive that took over 8 minutes off the clock. The Cards had just pulled the game to 20-10; at that point in the game, the Seahawks had gotten the ball three times in the second half and punted on all three. Another one of those would’ve made this game VERY interesting when it had no need to be. That’s when the Seahawks just leaned on ’em and all that punishment we’d been hitting them with all day finally killed their wills to live. Carson was great all day, but he was particularly brutal on this drive, running over, around, and through the Cardinals’ defenders like they weren’t even there. It’s just a shame he didn’t get to enjoy the reward of scoring the touchdown.

When I say the Seahawks could’ve done whatever they wanted, I mean they had 21 first downs, 340 yards, and converted 4/10 third downs. They took relatively few chances, so no fourth down tries, and not really many (if any) deep balls thrown. I mean, if it weren’t for the Clowney touchdown, there wouldn’t be anything memorable about this game whatsoever. I thought Kyler Murray had a few good plays, but he’s young and has a pretty mediocre offensive line, so it’s gonna be hard at first. I do think that as he gets used to the NFL, he’ll turn into someone special, but he’s not there yet.

Before I go, I’d be remiss if I didn’t shout out Shaquill Griffin. He has REALLY stepped up his game this year. It didn’t look super promising in the pre-season, but he’s taken it up a few notches! He had a great recovery after getting turned around to force an incompletion, and he had one of the most athletic plays I’ve ever seen in leaping around Larry Fitzgerald to bat a ball down without making any illegal contact (or really ANY contact to the body); it’s just too bad the play didn’t count as someone else on the defense was called for a penalty. We haven’t seen the turnovers yet, but we’ve certainly witnessed opposing offenses stay away from his side, and that’s as Richard Shermanesque as you can get! Way to go!

The Seahawks Should Have Their Best Game Of 2019 (To Date) In Arizona This Weekend

The Cardinals’ defense is terrible. Let’s just get that out there. If the Seahawks don’t surpass 30 points in this one, then I don’t know what to say. Russell Wilson should have no trouble moving the ball down the field, and more importantly, our running game should finally bust out into something much more formidable.

I mean, I don’t really have much more to say beyond that. The Cardinals, in theory anyway, have a good offense, but that’s yet to translate to really eye-opening numbers. They’ve been fine. They have a rookie quarterback, a terrible offensive line, and a shaky rushing attack. It’s looking like they’re making baby steps every week towards being an elite force offensively, but at the moment, they haven’t yet put it all together. Could this be the week? It’s entirely possible! But, regardless, I still think we can outscore them in a shootout.

If I had to force a reason to be concerned, I guess I could get into all the myriad ways the Seahawks could do dumb shit and lose to another team they should beat, but how do you top that Saints game? How do you top a punt return for a touchdown (off of a seriously crappy punt), a third straight game with a fumble for Chris Carson, a return for another touchdown ON that fumble, a “lining up over the long-snapper” penalty that turned a missed field goal into an eventual touchdown, and Alvin Kamara being an immortal god incapable of being slowed down even for an instant by the Seahawks’ defense?

On the plus side, there isn’t anyone NEARLY as good as Kamara on the Cardinals; that’s something to be thankful for, right?

I’m sure there are tons of other ways the Seahawks could fuck things up, but I just can’t see it happening. Not against Arizona.

If I’m concerned about anything, it’s our running game. Really, it’s our offensive line, who while technically “healthy” in that they’re all playing, I have to believe are all banged up because why else would they be this ineffective? Teams ALWAYS play us to try to slow down the run, so loading the box isn’t anything new. If we can’t convert a 3rd & 1 or 4th & 1 when the other team knows we want to run the ball, then we have a fundamental problem that WILL torpedo this season.

I’d say my next biggest concern would be our depth at receiver. Wilson has been feeding Tyler Lockett a steady stream of targets, as well he should; and Lockett – to his credit – has stepped up in a big way. There are tons of #2 receivers out there who look like absolute dogshit when elevated to the team’s #1, either via injury or personnel changes, but Lockett is raising his game to another level, and that’s very encouraging.

Beyond Lockett, though, D.K. Metcalf is a promising outside receiver and deep threat, but he was largely held to a quiet game last week against the Saints (2 catches for 67 yards, but one of them was as harmless a 54-yard bomb at the end of the first half as you can get). The Saints appeared to drape their best cornerback on him all day, but we’ve still gotta find a way to get him the ball more than that. David Moore was on his first game back after his injury, so that’s always going to be a tough one, but Malik Turner appears to have seen an increase in his playing time on offense, and I just don’t think he’s got what it takes. He was the target on that critical deep overthrow on 4th & 1 that Russell checked into after the Saints loaded the box, which was a smart move, particularly with the way we’d failed time and time again in those situations that day. But, they clearly weren’t on the same page, as Turner was … turned all the way around in trying to make a play on the ball. If he were more experienced with Wilson, or just a more competent receiver, maybe that would’ve been a conversion. But, I’m hard pressed to place the bulk of the blame on that play on Wilson, knowing what a good deep ball thrower he is.

Finally, how can you not be concerned about the way our front seven played against the pass last week? We’re almost as healthy as we’re going to be – three more Jarran Reed-free games to go before he completes the set – and they just did NOTHING against the Saints. Of course, what can you do when they’re getting rid of the ball so quickly? And, similarly, this was Ansah’s first game back after his injury, and the team was taking no chances with him, keeping him in there for around 19 or so plays. I’ve said it all along and I’ll say no different now: as this season progresses, this team should get better each and every week. Part of that is reincorporating injured players into the system, while new players (like Clowney) continue to acclimate to the new scheme. I really expected the Seahawks to harass Bridgewater a ton last week, but that was coming from the notion that he’d hold onto the ball like he usually does.

So, will Kyler Murray be the same way? Obviously, with his scrambling ability, it’ll be a tall order to get him on his back. But, that offense is designed for the quick pass, so once again we might be in store for a long, sackless day. Nevertheless, their O-Line is horrible, so there better be enough breakdowns to at least make his job difficult.

I’ve got it as a 33-16 Seahawks victory. Let’s get back on the winning trail!

I’ll tell you this much: if we DO somehow find a way to lose, then fuck this season. I will be beyond pissed. If we’re 2-2 heading into a Thursday Night game against the Rams, then we might as well all get ready for another fucking useless Wild Card season, with a very real chance that this team is no better than 8-8 and on the outside looking in. There are no Must Win games in September, but there are certainly Better Fucking Win games. And, the Seahawks Better Fucking Win this week against Arizona, or there’s gonna be hell to pay.

The Seahawks Won A Ragged Game Against Cincy

It simultaneously felt like the Seahawks were lucky to prevail, while at the same time the Bengals were lucky they weren’t down by two scores for much of the game.

I thought the Seahawks had a good plan, but their execution left a lot to be desired. Be it penalties or other offensive line mistakes leading to shortened drives, it certainly harkened back to the dark days of 2017 (or, you know, week 1 against Denver last year). I don’t know what I expected from Cincinnati’s defense, but I never imagined having as much trouble with their front seven as we did. Nevertheless, I like how we stuck to our gameplan and did what we could with the rushing attack. My whole thing was: just play it safe and wait for the Bengals to shoot themselves in the foot.

The only problem is, they never did. Not really. Even their fumble early in the second half only led to the Seahawks going 3 & Out. But, I kept waiting for the Andy Dalton meltdown that never showed up. He passed for 418 yards on a very respectable 8.2 yards per attempt average, as the Seahawks sold out 100% to stop the run. The fact that our defense succeeded in that respect is pretty encouraging. The fact that we generated 4 sacks – without Ziggy Ansah, who was held out as a precaution – and a number of other pressures also signals good things yet to come.

But, the secondary play left a lot to be desired. I’ll say this, Shaquill Griffin finally showed up! He was magnificent, and I hope it continues. But, Tre Flowers was a bit of a mixed bag (he STILL hasn’t learned you can’t wrap your off arm around the defender when making a play on the ball and expect PI won’t be called) and Tedric Thompson was outright dreadful. I said this on Twitter, but it bears repeating: this defense just doesn’t work without Earl Thomas. Not like it’s supposed to. We can get by for now, but something needs to change at the safety position, because T2 is bringing nothing to the table. I mean, he should’ve been benched on the spot for giving up that TD to John Ross at the end of the first half. I don’t care if he’s the fastest guy in the NFL or not, the fact that he got behind Thompson in the first place is the true crime in this scenario!

I’ll also say this: I worry about our nickel defense in general. I like that the Seahawks have realized where their strengths lie – the linebacker position – but staying in base for so long and allowing these mismatches with Kendricks or Wright covering a wide receiver is just going to lead to trouble in the long term. I dunno, maybe I’m wrong, and the Seahawks are exposing a market inefficiency, but I doubt it. It feels more like this is going to bite us in the ass and we’ll have a hard decision to make regarding who to sit in lieu of getting another true defensive back out there.

Boy, I sure hope we don’t have to go on the road against an elite quarterback who was just embarrassed on Sunday Night Football!

In the end, life is short, so I’ll close on the bright side. Chris Carson looked in top form, rumbling for a couple of touchdowns (including one through the air, as he caught 6 balls for 35 yards). It was also awesome to see D.K. Metcalf make such a big impact in his rookie debut (4 for 89 yards, and at least one PI call in the endzone to set up a TD). We also got to see Jadeveon Clowney’s Seahawks debut, and he looked like a force for us in the early going.

The player of the game, though, has to be Quinton Jefferson, who is locking down that 5-tech spot on the line. He had 6 tackles (3 for loss), 2 sacks (3 QB hits), and a couple of passes batted down, as he was all over Andy Dalton like a cheap suit. Kudos, though, to John Ross, who really had a breakout game after a couple tough years to start his career (7 catches for 158 yards and 2 TDs, as he looked like his old Husky self out there, despite a couple of tough drops that could’ve swung the game to the Bengals if things broke differently).

2019 Seattle Seahawks Preview Extravaganza!

I feel like the best way to do this is to compare this year’s roster to last year’s roster, see how they match up, and use that as your basis when looking at this year’s schedule. Obviously, pitfalls abound in this strategy – teams on paper rarely translate to results on the field; similarly teams who look good or bad prior to the regular season rarely all live up to expectations – but what else is there to do on a Friday before the first Sunday of the year?

We can start with quarterback, because why not? At this point, Russell Wilson has proven himself to be one of the truly elite players at his position. If I’m building a real-life NFL team from scratch, there aren’t many players I’d choose ahead of him. Now, a lot goes into how you can predict his level of play: how does the O-line block, how does the running game help take some of the pressure off his shoulders, how do the receivers fare at getting open and making plays down field? In a vacuum, Russell Wilson should be no worse than he was in 2018, with maybe even still a little more room for growth.

I thought the Offensive Line was pretty great in 2018. Not perfect, but certainly better than we’d seen in quite some time. That unit is largely intact, with one injury-plagued veteran (Iupati) taking over for another (Sweezy). Duane Brown is still a stud and a leader, Justin Britt is fine, D.J. Fluker is still a beast, and Germain Ifedi took a HUGE step forward last year. In 2019, his final season under his rookie deal, Ifedi should be even better, as he looks for a big payday going into 2020. Ethan Pocic is a real wildcard here, as he could see significant playing time with injuries along the interior (indeed, he looks like he’ll be starting in Week 1 for Iupati). I was on his ass a lot last year, but word out of pre-season is that he’s really grown in his second season under Solari. If he ends up winning a starting job by season’s end, he could be a boost over what Sweezy was in 2018, saying nothing of whatever Iupati has left in the tank in 2019.

Similarly, the Running Game was pretty great in 2018. I don’t know how much room for improvement you can expect here, when you’re talking about one of the league’s best. Carson, when healthy, is a Top 10 running back, maybe even as high as Top 5 or 6. C.J. Prosise, when healthy, is as dynamic as anyone. I don’t hold out a lot of hope that he CAN stay healthy, but there might be a game or two when he really goes off. I think everything rests on Rashaad Penny, as he was pretty underwhelming as a rookie, and looked even more underwhelming (somehow) in the pre-season this year. If he takes a step back, it could get dicey if injuries mount. If he takes a step forward, then we’re talking about one of the most talented running back rooms in the league.

The Wide Receivers look to be the biggest concern on the team, but I would argue that’s a little overblown. The one thing I’ll agree with everyone else about is: who will be that security blanket on 3rd down? That’s been Doug Baldwin since Russell Wilson came into the league. Even though Tyler Lockett may play in the slot more, I don’t know if his role is going to be drastically different from what it’s been. He’s a great player and fits this offense perfectly. I think this team is going to have to develop their security blanket, but in the early going, I think it’s going to be a different player every week. Don’t sleep on Jaron Brown. Don’t forget how much this quarterback and this offensive coordinator likes incorporating tight ends and running backs into the passing game. Eventually, I think John Ursua will be the next Doug Baldwin and I have no problem saying that before he’s played a single regular season game; but in the early going, it’s going to be Security Blanket By Committee. And, I know Russell Wilson is good enough to make that work.

In total, if I’m being honest, I think the offense will be remarkably similar to what it was in 2018, and I’m okay with that. I think that offense is good enough to win a championship, if everything breaks right. It also might be a year or two away from playing at a championship level, but with a Top 5 QB, you can never rule it out.

Where I honestly have more hope is in the defense. Not enough was made of just how much of a shitshow that side of the ball was in 2018. Earl Thomas went down in week 4! K.J. Wright hardly played at all. Mychal Kendricks was suspended for a huge chunk of the season, then I think he got injured towards the end. Even with Frank Clark and Jarran Reed tearing it up, the D-Line was a disaster that didn’t get nearly enough pressure on the quarterback, and was the worst against the run I’ve seen in the Pete Carroll era. That aspect alone – run defense – was always what I’ve been hanging my hat on, when it comes to this team drastically improving itself from year to year. If you shore that up, and return to playing at a Top 5 level against the run, it’ll make up for A LOT of ills everywhere else.

The other big concern, obviously, is the pass rush. But, I’m here to declare that concern is largely unnecessary now that we’ve traded for Clowney. I think – playing exclusively along the line, with a lot less dropping back into coverage – we’re talking about a guy who can fill that Frank Clark role to a T. I’m looking at 15 sacks as a target that I think he can easily reach. Ziggy Ansah I’d be a little more cautious with, but with both of these guys you’re talking about highly-motivated individuals looking to get PAID in 2020; it wouldn’t shock me in the slightest if we’re talking double-digit sacks for both! With Poona Ford’s emergence as a bona fide starter, and with Jarran Reed returning after a 6-game suspension, we’re talking about a front four that will rival the best. My worry, of course, is getting to see them all together, because what are the odds one of those guys gets hurt before Reed comes back, and we’re waiting until the last month of the season to get the gang all back together (I’ve seen it a million times)?

I also love what I’ve been seeing from the linebackers – the heart and soul of this defense – when it comes to blitzing and otherwise picking up the slack. Kendricks has looked like a man possessed when he’s gone after quarterbacks in the pre-season! Bobby Wagner, we all know, is highly capable whenever he blitzes up the middle. The Seahawks will find ways to get home more than they did in 2018. Combine that with a drastically-improved run defense, and there’s a lot to like about this side of the ball.

The one major downside is the secondary. It’s also the facet of the game Pete Carroll is best able to coach up. I’ll be blunt here, they haven’t looked great in what little I’ve seen from them in the pre-season. But, we also have yet to see the full complement of defensive linemen & linebackers in front of them (on the flipside, we really haven’t seen that much of opposing starting quarterbacks and whatnot, but that’s neither here nor there). I’m not high on this unit whatsoever, and I’m barely clinging for dear life to the fact that Carroll is a Secondary Whisperer. I keep hearing about how well Tedric Thompson plays in practice (mostly from coaches/players, less so from media), but you never see it in games. I think moving Shaquill Griffin to the opposite side of the field was a huge mistake, and eventually he’ll be supplanted by Tre Flowers. I also think it’s highly likely that those guys are as good as they’ll ever be, and there really isn’t any improvement or development to look forward to. That’s sort of a worst-case scenario for this group, but it feels likelier to come to fruition than it did at the tail end of last season.

Now, to be fair, they weren’t horrible to my eye in 2018 (take my eye with a grain of salt, of course); they were just sort of okay. When compared to the L.O.B., as the commercial goes, “Just okay is not okay.” But, compared to the entirety of the NFL, they were middle of the road or maybe a little worse. If they’re the same thing in 2019, with improved pass rush and improved run defense, that might be good enough! The pass rush alone might make their lives a whole lot easier, as errant/tipped throws fall into welcoming arms.

Taken as a whole, in short, I think the offense will be about the same, and I think the defense will be a lot better. Last year, the Seahawks finished 10-6 and made the Wild Card game. This year, I think that should account for a couple more wins, and here’s where things get mighty interesting.

Yesterday, I was writing about how I thought it was only a matter of the Seahawks getting off to a hot start, as we’ll eventually run into our torrid finish. If we divide the season into thirds (so to speak), in the first five weeks, we’ve got games against Cincinnati and Arizona that should be cake walks. There’s a road game against Pittsburgh and a home game against the Saints where we should go 1-1 (ideally losing to the Steelers, as AFC losses mean less). That just leaves Week 5, a Thursday Night game at home vs. the Rams that could mean the whole season. Lose that game, and the Rams – once again – will be in the driver’s seat. Win it, and we should be 4-1 in the first third of the season, with at least a share of the division lead (and a tiebreaker advantage to boot).

In the next five games, we’ve got home games against the Ravens and Bucs that we should win, as well as a road game against the 49ers that should go our way. That leaves road games against Atlanta and Cleveland where again I would hope we’d split, to finish 4-1 in this stretch. If that falls into place, that puts us at 8-2 heading into our BYE week.

By the time we come back, it’s already the last week in November and we’ve got our stretch run (where, again, the Seahawks traditionally play their best ball). At this point, throw your pre-season projections out the window. The Eagles, Vikings, Rams, and Panthers all look like potential world-beaters (to some), but who knows where they’ll be at that point? At Philly seems like a legitimately insurmountable task, but it’s also a Sunday Night game, and you know how we play in those. The Vikings are at home. I’m of firm belief that Cam Newton will be lost for the season by the time we go to Carolina (but, even if he’s there, I don’t think they’ll be all that amazing). And, as we saw in 2018, we were one or two plays away from beating the Rams twice, so I can’t just mark that game down as a loss just because it’s in L.A.

Even with those tough matchups, we still close the season with a couple home games against the Cardinals and 49ers. If we can go 4-2 in those final 6 games, that gives us a 12-4 record and we might be playing home games well into January.

The point is, I think 12 wins takes the NFC West. Especially if two of those wins are against the Rams.

As I noted yesterday, I think the Seahawks get a 2-seed behind the Eagles. Contrary to what I wrote yesterday, I could easily see a 5-seeded Rams team going into Philly and shocking the world, thus forcing a potential NFC Championship Game back in Seattle. And you know what happens when Seattle hosts an NFC Championship Game …

Look, it’s idiotic to predict a Seahawks Super Bowl appearance this year. I get that. I’m not saying that’s what’s going to happen. BUT, I think everything is on the table. I think 12 wins is on the table. I think a division title is on the table. I think a first round BYE is on the table. I think home field advantage throughout the playoffs is on the table. I think the MVP is on the table for Russell Wilson. I think Executive of the Year should already be locked in for John Schneider. I think Coach of the Year is on the table for Pete Carroll. And yes, I think a Super Bowl appearance is on the table.

What’s more likely? The Seahawks win the NFC West, or the Seahawks fail to make the playoffs entirely? Well, the smart money is on the latter. But, this is the time of year for perpetual hope, and so I’m choosing to be in the Glass Half Full camp. I know I’m setting myself up for heartbreak later on, but I’m willing to take that chance.

Comparing The Seahawks’ 53-Man Roster To My June Predictions

Right around the time of OTAs, I did a meaningless projection of what the Seahawks’ roster would look like for opening day. So let’s check out how wrong I was!

Quarterbacks

Projection: Russell Wilson & Geno Smith
Result: Russell Wilson & Geno Smith

So, I got the easiest one out of the way. Where’s my cookie?

Running Backs

Projection: Chris Carson, Rashaad Penny, Travis Homer, C.J. Prosise & J.D. McKissic
Result: Chris Carson, Rashaad Penny, Travis Homer, C.J. Prosise & Nick Bellore

I was THIS close. To be fair, in my projections I did talk about Bellore possibly throwing a wrench into this fight, with either Prosise or McKissic being the odd man out, and you know what they say about horseshoes, hand grenades, and roster predicting, right?

Tight Ends

Projection: Ed Dickson, Nick Vannett, Will Dissly & Jacob Hollister
Result: Nick Vannett & Will Dissly

To be fair, Dickson is on IR (designated to return after 8 weeks) and Hollister somehow made it onto the practice squad, so I’m counting this as a victory. Of sorts. We also have George Fant, who I’ve listed as an O-Lineman for the purposes of this exercise.

Wide Receivers

Projection: Tyler Lockett, D.K. Metcalf, David Moore, Jaron Brown & Keenan Reynolds
Result: Tyler Lockett, D.K. Metcalf, David Moore, Jaron Brown, Gary Jennings, Malik Turner & John Ursua

I was almost WAY off on this one, but the Seahawks did a bit of roster gymnastics this week to slide a couple guys onto the IR, while opening up the likes of Geno Smith and Jaron Brown to free agency (with the wink-wink agreement to bring them back once those IR designations were placed). It turns out the Seahawks CAN keep all of their rookie draft picks! But, Malik Turner is the one who took Keenan Reynolds’ spot (though I fully anticipate Reynolds being in the mix at some point this season, if the injury bug returns). Regardless, I wouldn’t expect this unit to be 7-deep for too much longer, but it’s an interesting group nevertheless.

Offensive Line

Projection: Duane Brown, Mike Iupati, Justin Britt, D.J. Fluker, Germain Ifedi, Ethan Pocic, Jordan Simmons, George Fant & Jamarco Jones
Result: Duane Brown, Mike Iupati, Justin Britt, D.J. Fluker, Germain Ifedi, Ethan Pocic, George Fant, Jamarco Jones & Joey Hunt

This was actually a pretty obvious unit to predict, as the veterans are here to start, and the reserves are too good to part with. Simmons got hit by the injury bug and landed on the IR which is unfortunate, but Hunt can play both center and guard (and even tackle in a super pinch), so he’s good to have around (especially with Pocic being the first guard off the bench in place of Iupati heading into week 1).

So far, with the offense, I predicted 20 out of 25, which isn’t too bad.

Punter/Kicker/Long Snapper

Projection: Michael Dickson, Jason Myers & Tyler Ott
Result: Michael Dickson, Jason Myers & Tyler Ott

Nailed it.

Secondary

Projection: Shaquill Griffin, Tre Flowers, Akeem King, Neiko Thorpe, Jeremy Boykins, Tedric Thompson, Bradley McDougald, Ugo Amadi, Marquise Blair & Lano Hill
Result: Shaquill Griffin, Tre Flowers, Akeem King, Neiko Thorpe, Parry Nickerson, Tedric Thompson, Bradley McDougald, Ugo Amadi, Marquise Blair & Lano Hill

The one I was least sold on was Boykins, and lo and behold he turns out to be my lone blemish in this area. I should’ve probably mentioned something about the Seahawks making a minor trade near the start of the regular season – like they do just about every damn year around this time – but them’s the breaks.

Defensive Line

Projection: Ziggy Ansah, L.J. Collier, Rasheem Green, Jacob Martin, Jarran Reed, Poona Ford, Al Woods & Quinton Jefferson
Result: Ziggy Ansah, L.J. Collier, Rasheem Green, Jadeveon Clowney, Poona Ford, Al Woods, Quinton Jefferson, Bryan Mone & Branden Jackson

Welp, there was no way for me to see the Jarran Reed suspension coming. Ditto the trade for Clowney. I was probably always a little light on this position in general, so it’s not totally shocking to see Jackson in there, but he’s just a rotational guy who won’t see a lot of playing time, barring injuries. I never would’ve guessed Mone in a million years though.

Linebackers

Projection: Bobby Wagner, K.J. Wright, Cody Barton, Ben Burr-Kirven, Mychal Kendricks, Shaquem Griffen & Barkevious Mingo
Result: Bobby Wagner, K.J. Wright, Cody Barton, Ben Burr-Kirven, Mychal Kendricks & Shaquem Griffen

The main reason why I was so short on the D-Line was because I essentially had Mingo as a rush end for this team. But, as the pre-season wore on, it was becoming increasingly likely that he was going to be cut (if he wasn’t somehow dealt for the best defensive end on the trade block). There was also worry that Griffen wouldn’t make it, but his value on special teams is apparently too high to part with. Nevertheless, quite the solid group.

That’s 21 out of 25 predicted on defense (with Reed coming back after 6 weeks, and a few of my other picks landing on the IR) for a total of 45/53 on the team heading into week 1 (barring any other moves later this week). My biggest stroke of genius was leaving Austin Calitro off; he very nearly made it, but was waived in recent days and picked up by Jacksonville. So, good luck to him I guess.

The One Where I’m Predictably Stoked About The Seahawks Trading For Jadeveon Clowney

Welcome back to me! If you want to know what my 5-week road trip was like, I did a pretty good job blowing up my Instagram page with tons of photos. Now, back to sports.

The Seattle sports scene did a pretty good job of waiting until I got back this weekend before exploding with news. #1 with a bullet, of course, is the trade for Clowney. We’ve known about his being disgruntled with the franchise tag for some time now, and that there was always an outside chance that the Texans might move on from him if they found the right deal. I never expected that he’d have the kind of power he had in forcing a deal to a particular team, and I certainly never expected that the Seahawks would be on his short list of preferred destinations. At that point, we held pretty much all the cards, and it was up to the Texans to either bow to our whims, or let Clowney sit out there in another Le’Veon Bell situation.

For as much as people are killing the Texans in this whole thing, they at least made the decision to not let this be a distraction for their entire season. They made the choice to not extend him on a long-term deal, and you can disagree with that all you want, but such a deal obviously comes with some risks. I mean, we’re talking about a guy who missed almost his entire rookie year, and a few games the following year. Yes, he followed that up with three straight Pro Bowl campaigns, but honestly they were pretty quiet compared to what you’d expect from a #1 overall draft pick. He’s never had double-digit sacks; combine that with injury concerns, and I find it more reasonable for the Texans to want to move on than it was for the Seahawks to want to move on from a stud like Frank Clark, who’s always been healthy and HAS had double-digit sacks, twice.

Now, the obvious argument is that the Texans didn’t utilize him properly, that a 3-4 defense isn’t as suited to his particular set of skills (and that dropping him into coverage half the time isn’t the best way to maximize his pass rushing ability). I agree wholeheartedly, and I believe that if he stays healthy for the Seahawks this year, he WILL get double-digit sacks, and maybe into the mid-to-high teens! Let him JUST rush the passer, and bring him from all over the line of scrimmage on every down, and watch him absolutely destroy fools! This is my guarantee.

On top of it, we’re talking about a ridiculously low cost to the Seahawks. The 3rd round pick might be the most valuable part of what we gave away! Barkevious Mingo was going to be a cap cut one way or another. And, while we all liked Jacob Martin, he’s another guy who’s probably better suited to our defense than Houston’s. If they drop Martin into coverage half the time – like Clowney – I think they’ll find him pretty lacking. Whereas, if he stayed with the Seahawks and was just our LEO end exclusively in pass rushing situations, he’d probably find his sack totals would exceed whatever he’ll do in Houston. Tack on the fact that the Texans are essentially paying half of Clowney’s salary this year, and it’s honestly laughable that the NFL allowed this deal to pass through. This is the EPITOME of one of those deals you see other teams make, where we ask ourselves, “WHY COULDN’T OUR TEAM HAVE DONE THAT??? YOU’RE TELLING ME WE COULDN’T HAVE GIVEN UP MORE TO GET THIS STUD???”

But that’s just it. He wanted to come to Seattle (or Philly, who curiously didn’t ever seem to be in on this), because we’re a well-run organization where star players like Clowney can thrive. It’s weird to be able to say that, because it’s the polar opposite to how I feel about the Mariners.

Even with Ansah looking like he’ll be ready to go by Sunday, the pass rush was always going to be a disaster for this team. However, with Clowney in the fold, we’re ALMOST back to our glory days of 2013. I’d still like to see some of our depth take a step forward; either Collier or Green will need to turn into something somewhat productive by season’s end if we’re going to take this thing over the top. But now, it’s at least much less of a concern. Our secondary is a different matter, but let’s take this thing one step at a time.

Before this deal, you REALLY had to squint to see a path for the Seahawks to win the NFC West and contend for a Super Bowl. After this deal, the picture is becoming much clearer.

Seahawks Barely Get By Deshaun Watson & The Texans

This was a game you’ll love if you’re a fan of numbers.  Specifically offensive numbers, as we had oodles.  Russell Wilson:  452 yards, 4 TDs, 1 INT, 30 rushing yards.  Deshaun Watson:  402 yards, 4 TDs, 3 INTs, 67 rushing yards.  DeAndre Hopkins:  11 catches, 224 yards, 1 TD.  Will Fuller:  5 catches, 125 yards, 2 TDs.  Tyler Lockett:  6 catches, 121 yards.  Paul Richardson:  6 catches, 105 yards, 2 TDs.  Jimmy Graham:  4 catches, 39 yards, 2 TDs.  Hell, even Lamar Miller had 54 rushing yards, 19 receiving yards, and 2 combined TDs.  Offense.  For.  Days.

But, it was pretty slim pickin’s as far as defense is concerned.  Earl Thomas came back with a pick-six after giving up a long opening-drive touchdown bomb.  Richard Sherman had a couple interceptions after being challenged with impunity all game.  Jadeveon Clowney was a beast, both in pass rush and particularly in the run game.  The Seahawks had 5 sacks and 9 tackles for loss, including big games for Bennett, Clark, Wright, and Wagner.  Even Dwight Freeney got in on the action with half a sack.

All of those things were great, but you don’t come out of a 41-38 game and heap praise on the defense.  And, I gotta tell ya, while it was a refreshing change of pace to see the Seahawks go out there and sling the ball up and down the field, I think I still prefer it when our defense is the best group on the field.  There’s something about both teams scoring on 13 possessions out of 26 (not counting end-of-half kneeldowns) that’s a little overwhelming.

What I did like was the fact that no team was ever up by more than 7 points.  That’s pretty rare, considering how much scoring took place.  I mean, the Over damn near hit before halftime!  When there’s a game like this, it usually involves the Seahawks looking like crap for the first half, then scrambling to come back by multiple scores to win by some miracle at the end.  This one was just a slugfest; two insane offenses throwing haymakers back and forth.

In a game like this, you can take it one of two ways:  you can breathe a sigh of relief and live with your heads in the clouds over how the offense moved the ball.  Just throw out the books and appreciate this one for what it was:  probably the most exciting game (from start to finish) in the NFL this season (perhaps narrowly edging that Chiefs/Raiders Thursday Night game a couple weeks back, but I don’t want to succumb to recency bias).  Or, if you’re like me, maybe you can’t help but see some of the warts.

I’m willing to more or less overlook the L.O.B.’s lack of dominance in this one, because let’s face it:  they’ve pulled this offense’s ass out of the fire on PLENTY of occasions.  Every once in a while, they deserve to have a bad game and somehow the team still finds a way to win.

I thought, for the most part, the run defense looked pretty good, aside from some key breakdowns in contain when it comes to Deshaun Watson.  I mean, where was the spy?  Isn’t this game tailor-made for Bobby Wagner to have eyes on Watson all game?  What you absolutely can’t have happen is the line getting sucked over to one side, with 20 yards of open field for Watson to punish us.

More than anything, you can say the Seahawks’ defense – while mediocre as a whole – made just enough big plays when it mattered most.  The aforementioned Earl Thomas interception returned for a touchdown.  The Sherman interception that led directly to a field goal that gave the Seahawks their first lead of the game at 27-24.  The sacks and D-Line pressure that led to the Texans’ five punts on the day.  And, the biggest play of the day that no one is talking about:

With just under 3 minutes to go in the game, and the Texans up 38-34, the Seahawks were driving.  Russell Wilson just scrambled for 21 yards that had me literally exclaim, “Wow, how did he do that?!”  He stepped up in the pocket and ran through a nexus of three Texans who all converged on a single spot, and instead of getting his block knocked off, he somehow caused all three of them to hit one another as he scampered to the 20 yard line.  At that point, it was without question that the Seahawks would re-take the lead, and the only question that would remain would be:  did we leave the Texans too much time on the clock?  Except, instead, Wilson treated everyone to his single worst throw of the game, an out-route that was easily picked off, as if he had intended to throw it to the defender.

(which, I mean, let’s not rule this out.  You know as well as I do that Russell Wilson is a wizard.  He just is.  He’s magic, and we’re all fortunate to be graced with his presence.  So, hear me out on this:  what if he could see into the future, realize we were in the process of scoring too quickly, and had we done so, Deshaun Watson would be the one everyone is lauding for his last-minute game-winning efforts?  I submit this as my argument that he MEANT to throw that interception, knowing we’d get the ball back, and ultimately score with too little time left on the clock for the Texans to do anything about it)

But, I digress.  Getting back to the biggest play of the day that no one is talking about:

The Texans took over with just under three minutes left in the game.  They ran the ball for 4 yards on first down, the Seahawks opted to save their time out.  They ran the ball for 8 yards on second down, and we hit the two-minute warning with a fresh set of downs.  After the break, the Texans ran again for 1 yard, time out.  THEN, we get to the play of the game:  second down, hand off to Miller again, this time for 5 yards.  But, if you look at it, the Texans had that thing blocked to go for double-digit yards or more.  Things just opened up like you wouldn’t believe, and if it weren’t for Michael Bennett diving in there and slapping at his foot to get him to fall down, the Texans would’ve ended the game right there.  Go back and look at it!  If you can find it, that is, because like I said, hardly anyone is talking about it, and yet the only reason the Seahawks had a chance at the end is because Michael Bennett saved the day.

Now, I’ll also say I agree with the majority of America today:  Bill O’Brien should’ve put the ball in Watson’s hands on at least the third down play.  I can see it both ways:  with the run, you take away Seattle’s final time out, and as I just discussed, there’s a decent chance of converting a 3rd & 4 with the way things were going as recently as that very drive.  But, on the other hand, Watson was a juggernaut yesterday.  You could’ve run with him, you could’ve had him drop back and pass, you could’ve done a run-pass option, you could’ve done one of those fucking plays where he fakes it to three other guys before hitting a fourth option (that our defense somehow could NOT figure out, at any point in this game).  Instead, in hindsight, it feels pretty weak to just run it back up the middle again for the fifth straight play.  The Seahawks stopped it for a 2-yard gain and the rest was history.

I suppose more of my consternation with this game comes from the fact that the Seahawks’ run game was abysmal.  I mean, just the worst I’ve ever seen, and I’ve lived through full seasons of Julius Jones and T.J. Duckett!

Part of this absolutely has to do with Chris Carson going down with injury, because God fucking dammit would he come in handy right about now!  Why do all of our best running backs have to be fucking injured all the God damn time?  Him and Prosise this year, Rawls and Prosise last year, Rawls the year before.  I mean, shit!

Part of this has to do with Eddie Lacy, because he’s effectively useless.  I’d been willing to give him time to grow with this offense up until this game, because he’s a volume rusher, and gets better the more you feed him (ironically enough).  But, 6 carries for 0 yards?  No.  No thank you.  Go home, eat your China food, and waste some other team’s time.  You’ll never for ONE SECOND get me to believe the guys on the active roster are better than Mike Davis, who is LANGUISHING on the practice squad right now.

Which gets me to my next gripe:  Darrell Bevell.  Not Darrell Bevell the play-caller, mind you.  I know that’s what everyone gets on him about, but again, I thought he called a pretty great game, all things considered.  He gave the running game everything he had, but it clearly wasn’t working and he gave it up for the most part in the second half.  What I’ve got a problem with is Darrell Bevell the offensive coordinator.  And, by that I mean, the way he designs his offense, and how he uses the players he’s got.

It took him FUCKING FOREVER before he put Jimmy Graham out wide near the goalline this season.  Why is that?  Because he doesn’t want to tip off his play-calling.  It’s why he lines Graham up inside on run plays, when Graham is the worst blocking tight end in the universe.  You can’t just have Graham out there on passing plays, because then defenses will expect that.  SO FUCKING WHAT?  Here’s a newsflash, you fucking moron:  what you’re doing now – by “out-thinking” the defense – ISN’T FUCKING WORKING!  Rushing plays with Graham on the field get blown up CONSTANTLY!

Same goes for Thomas Rawls, out there on third downs.  Why would you do this when you’ve got a talent like J.D. McKissic?  Oh, because if McKissic is out there, the defense will know you’re passing?  WHO CARES?  It beats throwing to a fucking stone-hands, who drops carefully-lobbed balls in the endzone!

I come from the school that says, “Put my best 11 guys up against your best 11 guys and let the chips fall where they may.”  Because, more often than not during the Pete Carroll/John Schneider Era, the Seahawks have had the most talent in the NFL.  That’s just a fact.  And, you know what?  It used to be enough for this team.  The Seahawks used to be a team (albeit, with Beastmode in the backfield, which obviously has to account for a lot) that would run the ball when the opposing team had 8-9 guys in the box, and we’d STILL get a productive gain on the play!  Because our 11 guys were better than their 11 guys, and we’d make them pay for their inferiority.

But, nowadays?  The Seahawks have lost their sack.  They’re trying to get cute, which leads to throws to Rawls, runs towards Graham’s side, long bombs to McEvoy, and fullbacks streaking free up the middle for 66-yard gains.  Which, obviously, when it works – like the throw to Madden, and the 53-yard bomb to McEvoy – you look like a genius.  But, more often than not, those plays haven’t been working this season, and you just look like an asshole who’s trying to get a head coaching job somewhere else.  Which, GREAT, DO IT, GET OUT OF HERE!  But, of course, the NFL sees right through that, so we’ll be stuck with Bevell here for as long as Pete Carroll remains head coach.  It’s our burden, but one I’m willing to live with.  Still doesn’t mean I’m not going to bitch about it.

Thankfully, the receivers were there to pick up the slack.  Doug Baldwin was mostly quiet, which is shocking.  But, we had 100-yard games from Lockett and Richardson, who both had a bevy of long bombs they went up and snagged.  P-Rich in particular looks like the Golden Tate we’ve been lacking since we let him walk to Detroit.  See, the Seahawks don’t necessarily need a guy who’s 6’5; we just need a guy like Richardson who’s 6’0, but can jump like a freak of nature.  Thankfully, he’s been able to stay healthy, because he sure looks like a stud this season.

Let’s finish with some quick hitters.

The Seahawks took over their final drive on their own 20 yard line, and Russell Wilson immediately uncorked a dagger.  Honestly, I don’t know how Ifedi got away without a holding flag, and I’ll admit, I half-expected another flag on P-Rich for offensive-PI (replays showed that to be a clean catch, but I’ve seen flags for less contact than that).

I hope Earl Thomas’ hamstring injury isn’t too serious.  At the same time, I was relieved that Steven Terrell wasn’t back there to get torched in the game’s closing moments.

I thought the Special Teams got short shrift for having a pretty great game.  The Texans didn’t get much of anything on their returns, Jon Ryan made some clutch punts off of some poor snaps, and Blair Walsh was a silent assassin.  He made his two field goals (both pretty short range), and all 5 of his extra points, which ended up being huge, particularly the last two that gave us 3-point leads, as a Houston field goal in response would’ve only tied the game instead of given them the lead.  The NFL’s objective with the longer extra points was to make them more exciting, and while I hate them with a passion and wish like Hell that they’d move them back to the 2-yard line, I have to admit they’re maddeningly interesting, particularly in games like this.

Finally, I’d like to shout out the offensive line.  Not so much for the running game, in which their blocking was predictably awful; but in pass protection, they were okay!

I know, the narrative now and forever is that the pass-protection was, is, and always will be dreadful.  But, I mean, if it was really THE WORST as everyone (particularly the national media) claims it to be, could Wilson have thrown for a franchise-record 452 yards?  Obviously, while it wasn’t the best, and a stick figure quarterback like Jay Cutler or Eli Manning would be lunch meat behind this kind of line, it was Good Enough.  Hawkblogger’s Sunday night tweets go into it in a lot of detail, so check out his Twitter.  Essentially, the Seahawks were middle-of-the-road, from a leaguewide perspective, when it comes to pass protection, and God bless ’em, that’s all Russell Wilson needs!  Hell, that’s all any of us have been clamoring for since Wilson busted out onto the scene!  We don’t need a Top 5 unit to put up a ton of points, just give us a Top 15-20 unit and watch us go to work!  And, yesterday, the O-Line (again, from strictly a pass-protection perspective), played like just that.  They gave Wilson time to throw, and when they didn’t, they at least opened up lanes for him to scramble around until he could find someone down field.  That’s our game!

What’s frustrating is when there’s a guy in his face on the third step of his 3-step drop.  I’m sure the Texans’ defensive numbers will show a lot of good pressures on Wilson, but those are the types of pressures we can all live with.  And, in the end, it all added up to Wilson’s best day as a pro.

Of course, we’ll never REALLY know how much of that was due to his wizardry, but that’s the beauty of magic:  it’s more fun when you DON’T know the magician’s secrets.

Seahawks Host The Texans This Weekend

I don’t have a super great handle on how this game is going to go on Sunday.  I’ll say this:  I’m glad we’re home; if this game was being played in Texas, I don’t think we’d stand much of a chance.

Ordinarily, if you told me an okay, .500 team was coming into Seattle with a rookie quarterback, I’d tell you to pack your bags because we’re going to Flavor Country!  That’s a recipe for a slam dunk if I’ve ever seen one!  Except, here’s the deal, Deshaun Watson isn’t an ordinary rookie.  He’s almost certainly the top rookie QB of his class, and maybe one of the best rookie QBs of all time!

To recap his progression, he started the season as the team’s backup to Tom Savage.  Tom Savage played in exactly one half of football, in the first game of the season, against the Jacksonville Jaguars.  In that half of football, the Texans punted 4 times, Savage fumbled twice (one returned for a touchdown), and their final drive ended the half without a score.

Watson struggled in the second half of that unwinnable game, was marginally better in a 13-9 victory over the Bengals on a Thursday night.  And, ever since he’s actually had a full week to prepare for a game, he’s been off-the-charts great.  His first Sunday start was a narrow 36-33 defeat to the defending champion Patriots, where he threw for a career-high 301 yards and 2 TDs.  He followed that up with a 4-TD game against the Titans, and a 5-TD game against the Chiefs.  Last week was only a 3-TD affair in an easy victory over the Browns.  All told, he’s 3-2 on the season, with those two defeats against the two best teams in the AFC:  the Pats & Chiefs.

Now, obviously, it’s not all on him, so I don’t want to make this a post about QB Wins.  I’d say, more than anything, their defense has been a bigger letdown than he has been a pleasant surprise.  I think a lot of us expected the Houston defense to be the biggest strength of this team; I certainly expected a lot more of those 13-9 type games than I have all these shootouts, but it is what it is.

The Texans have the potential to really sling that ball all around the yard.  They also have the potential to unleash the beast, as it were, when it comes to the Seahawks’ offense.

I’m not going to say that New England has anything resembling a formidable home field advantage when it comes to their fans.  A LOTTA frontrunners in those stands, who will get awfully quiet if the Pats get punched in the mouth.  Nevertheless, it’s more than a little intimidating to go up against Tom Brady and Bill Belichick, and Watson didn’t blink.  This kid has stones, and I don’t think a little Seattle noise is going to make him shrink in this game.  So, if you were counting on going to the game this weekend and expecting him to roll over at your full-throated screams, I’d think again if I were you.

So, yeah, I’d be shocked if Watson came out and stunk up the joint.  But, I’d also be shocked if he totally dominated.  He strikes me as a guy who likes to push the ball up the field, and if he brings that mess in this game, he might be in for a rude awakening.  Teams with quarterbacks who exhibit a great deal of patience tend to give the Seahawks fits.  Teams with quarterbacks who aren’t afraid to check down, who will settle for the underneath route, and most importantly, who are accurate and poised enough to convert those short third downs; THOSE are the teams that beat the Seahawks.  And, judging from my perch as a fantasy owner of Lamar Miller, I’ll tell you this:  Deshaun Watson does NOT settle for the running back checkdown very often.

What he does do is utilize his two excellent wide receivers in DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller, who will go up and get a ball with the best of ’em, and who can also burn past you with the best of ’em.  I would expect Richard Sherman won’t be ignored in this one.  Any way you slice it, he’s going up against a top notch receiver, so he could be key in this one.

I’ll also say this:  safety play is going to be paramount.  I have to imagine there will be at least one interception between Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor in this game.

What I can’t see is Houston bringing its running game.  Lamar Miller is not to be trusted in MOST circumstances, but I have to imagine he’s going to be pretty well shut down in this game.  Likewise, I wouldn’t expect D’Onta Foreman will have much running room.  If Watson isn’t the Texans’ leading rusher, I’ll be shocked.

Defensively, obviously the big news is how they lost J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus for the year.  Those are two HUGE hits to their pass rush.  This week, they’re also dealing with injuries in their linebacker corps which should also limit them.  Even with those losses, they still have a lot of firepower, led by Jadeveon Clowney.  We have to keep what’s left of their pass rush – and double team Clowney to keep him off of Wilson’s ass – or it could be a really long day.

I think the Seahawks can manage.  And, if they do, I could see the Seahawks scoring over 30 points in this one.

There are plenty of reasons why the Seahawks could lose, but I still think they should probably win.  Like I said up top, they’re at home, and even if Watson comes in and does okay, it’s still better than the alternative of him being at home.  Assuming we keep them one-dimensional on offense, and shut down their deep passing attack, I would expect a victory in the 34-24 range, with the Seahawks scoring a touchdown late to put the game away.

I Don’t Think The Seahawks Should Trade For An Offensive Lineman This Week

The deadline is, what, Halloween?  A quick Google search determines that to be accurate.  Anyway, in recent weeks, there’s been a lot of rumors and conjecture flying around the Seahawks.  The Seahawks brought Branden Albert in for a looksee; he’s an offensive tackle who played in Kansas City and most recently Miami, who retired or something and then unretired I guess?  Forgive me if I don’t care about the life story of Branden Albert.  I think we all took a look at him – a 2-time Pro Bowler, as recently as 2015 – and we took a look at Rees Odhiambo, and we thought, “All right, he could help.”

Then, there was speculation that the Seahawks only brought him in as a way to drive down the price of Duane Brown.  He’s one of the best left tackles in the league for the last decade.  He’s on a contract that pays him over $9 million per year this year and in 2018.  He’s 32 year old, he doesn’t have a lot of time left in the league, and as such he wanted a restructured contract for more money.  So, he held out for the first six games of the Texans’ season, which I guess is the most he can hold out while still accruing a season under his contract?  I dunno, again, I don’t need to know his life story.  All I know is, there was talk of the Texans trading him to the Seahawks, which would’ve cost a high draft pick or multiple draft picks, depending on who you ask.  It would have subsequently cost the Seahawks a lot of money in a restructured deal (a la the Percy Harvin trade we all know and love).  In the end, Duane Brown returned to the Texans this week, probably just in time to start against … you guessed it, the Seahawks.

Right after all of that died down, the Seahawks went and brought in Dwight Freeney to be a backup defensive end, what with Cliff Avril hitting the IR and everything.  We don’t yet know what that contract is going to cost, but either it’s for a very minimal amount that the Seahawks can afford, or it’s for a costlier amount that the Seahawks can’t afford, and will need to make a subsequent roster move to fit him in under our cap.

This also, not for nothing, coincided with the return of Jeremy Lane from a groin injury that’s kept him out of commission the last few weeks.  We learned of his return thanks to a set of Tweets where he announced he’d been demoted, presumably because Shaq Griffin is not just the future of that position for this team, but also good enough to be the present as well.  With Justin Coleman looking pretty solid in the slot, that doesn’t leave a lot of room for Jeremy Lane, outside of the Dime package, which we really don’t get to run all that often.

People have been talking about trading Jeremy Lane since the offseason.  I guess he didn’t have the greatest year last year, though I still contend people are making that out to be WAY worse than it actually was.  He was no Cary Williams!  He made some plays and I thought played all-around solid.  He probably shouldn’t be your team’s #2 – particularly opposite Richard Sherman, meaning he’ll get all the balls thrown in his direction – but he’s a fine slot corner and one I’d happily roll out there against any opponent (when he’s healthy).  Nevertheless, at this point, he sort of feels like a luxury.  Do we really need that fourth piece of cheesecake?  DeShawn Shead is coming back in a matter of weeks, we appear to have really hit upon this Shaq Griffin kid, and Coleman is certainly competent (if not a diamond in the rough).  You can only employ so many cornerbacks on a roster, and unless we run into a situation where we get hit by a ton of injuries, I think we’re all good there this season.

And, let’s not forget, that regardless of how this season went, it was pretty unrealistic that the Seahawks were ever going to keep Jeremy Lane around in 2018.  I think the minute he signed his contract, it was silently understood that he’d be gone after the 2017 season.

So, here we are.  Lane’s salary is guaranteed, so cutting him generates zero cap relief.  The only way we can save some money is by trading him.  Also, not for nothing, but the Seahawks traded away a number of draft picks for next year.  We no longer have a 2nd rounder, thanks to Sheldon Richardson.  We swapped our 6th for a 5th with the Raiders in the Beastmode deal.  We traded away one fifth rounder to the Eagles for Matt Tobin, and got one fifth rounder back from the Patriots for Cassius Marsh.  We swapped 7th rounders with the Jets in that Richardson deal, and we swapped 7th rounders with the Patriots (sending one away for Coleman, getting one back – maybe the same one? – in the Marsh deal).  On top of, I guess, having no 2nd rounder & no 6th rounder, I’m almost positive that the Seahawks won’t qualify for any compensatory picks, which has been their bread and butter the last few years.  Swapping Lane for an extra 3rd or 4th could be quite advantageous for next year and beyond (particularly when Jeremy Lane himself was a 6th round pick originally).

Beyond the draft capital part of it, I think a lot of people are looking at the salary cap relief as a means to bring in another offensive lineman, most likely via trade.  But, I dunno.

For starters, you want someone who is familiar with the zone blocking scheme, otherwise it’s going to take longer to acclimate this hypothetical newcomer into our system; so that limits your trade base.  And then what?  You throw away all the work you’ve put into propping up Odhiambo this year?  Who is coming off of his best game as a pro, I might add?  Granted, it’s the Giants, and they’re dealing with a ton of injuries.  But, again, I dunno.

I think we’re all beyond pleased with how well Ethan Pocic looked against the Giants, injuries or no injuries.  With him, you could very well be talking about your Left Guard of the Future.  If he comes back this week, blows Glowinski out of the water, and holds down that spot for the rest of the year, then great!  You’ve now solidified 4/5 of your offensive line, with Britt at center, with Ifedi looking MUCH better than expected at right tackle, and with Aboushi looking like a competent veteran at right guard.  That leaves the aforementioned Odhiambo, with the wrinkle that is Luke Joeckel whenever he returns from his cleanup surgery.  What are we looking at?  Mid to late November?  Where does that place him if we give his job to Pocic?

I would argue, that puts him in competition for the left tackle spot.  I know we all like him as a guard, and that appears to be the spot where he’s the best fit, but he was obviously originally drafted to be a left tackle, and still has a ton of experience there.  “Ton” being a relative term, but you know what I mean.

So, if we trade for a starting left tackle, where does that slot everyone else (barring injury, of course)?  It just doesn’t make a ton of sense right now.

If “continuity” is supposedly the most important factor in a successful offensive line, then how does bringing someone in during the middle of the season help you?

Now, maybe I’ll be singing a different tune after this Texans game on Sunday.  Granted, they’re dealing with some injuries of their own, but they still have a pretty stout pass rush.  And maybe Rees Odhiambo follows up his very best game as a pro by getting tossed around like a ragdoll.  But, if he is improving, and he’s able to hold his own against the likes of Jadeveon Clowney and Co., then I think the last thing you want to do is trade for an offensive lineman.

Of course, if you recommend trading Jimmy Graham for a competent tight end who isn’t the softest, powderpuffiest wide receiver in the league?  Let’s just say I’m listening.