Frank Clark Returns As The Seahawks Take On The Browns

There’s no discounting the loss of Uchenna Nwosu for this Seahawks defense. He was unquestionably our best defensive player last year, he earned a relatively big-money contract extension this past offseason, and even though the numbers aren’t eye-popping this season, the eye-test and the ancillary numbers point to Nwosu being our best outside linebacker/pass rusher. While it’s wonderful that Boye Mafe has taken the next step to be a super-productive second banana, after the loss of Nwosu, the drop-off is pretty considerable.

You may be saying to me, “Don’t forget about Darrell Taylor!” But I think it’s clear at this point that he’s pretty one-dimensional. There are a lot of reasons why the Seahawks have so drastically improved in their run defense – Bobby Wagner, Jarran Reed, Dre’Mont Jones, Devon Witherspoon, no more Cody Barton – but I think a big key is the reduced role Taylor plays on rushing downs. He’s a solid-to-good pass rusher in obvious passing situations, but other than that, I don’t really trust him as an all-around outside linebacker. That doesn’t mean Taylor doesn’t have value, or isn’t important to this team’s success. But, I take a less-is-more approach with him.

And, as for Derick Hall, I think there’s a lot of promise there, but he reminds me a bit of Boye Mafe as a rookie last year. Maybe a bigger, beefier version, but someone who probably is a year or two away, if he’s going to hit at all.

Seahawks fans have been focused on the impending trade deadline on October 31st for good reason. While the defense has been extraordinary – especially compared to expectations – you can always use a little more. With the way we like to rotate guys in and out, you can never have enough weapons at your disposal. Then, when you factor in the inevitable injuries that will crop up – starting with Nwosu last week – it’s all the more imperative to keep reloading on that side of the ball, not just with bodies, but competent ones.

It’s funny that some people automatically dismissed the Frank Clark option. Maybe they had a good reason; I guess we’ll find out. His numbers with Kansas City for those four seasons certainly weren’t explosive. It’s hard to say he justified the contract he was given; when you sign someone to a deal worth over $20 million per season, you expect more than an ordinary defensive end. He averaged just under 6 sacks per (regular) season, though he added 10.5 sacks in 12 post-season games with the Chiefs. Certainly, whenever I watched the Chiefs (which, yeah, a lot of those games were probably in the playoffs), it seemed like they were getting their money’s worth. But, they clearly felt he was expendable when they cut him this past offseason.

And, also clearly, he didn’t mesh with what the Broncos were trying to do. He signed with them for 2023, at a little under $5.5 million, and got cut after playing in only 2 games. They even went so far as to make him a healthy scratch and put him on the trade block – in addition to reworking his deal to lower the cap hit – but found no takers. Then, he just sat there as a free agent for a couple/few weeks, until the Seahawks came calling.

Now, of course, there are a lot of caveats to all of this. For starters, the Chiefs are – as most teams – up against the salary cap. They have a lot of stars who they’re paying truckloads of money, and they just can’t afford to keep everyone. Maybe they felt he was slipping; maybe they would’ve welcomed him back at the veteran minimum. Clark chose to get what he could with the Broncos; that’s fine. Once the Chiefs gave a little cookie to Chris Jones after his holdout, I’m sure they’re even further pressed against the cap, making in-season moves quite difficult. That could explain why Clark didn’t go back to KC (or, again, maybe they think he’s cooked). But, I don’t know if I’m ready to write Clark off simply because the Broncos cut him. That team is in shambles for a second straight season; it sure looks like they’re getting ready to clean house this upcoming offseason. If they’re indeed looking to covertly tank, getting rid of Clark is an easy way to ensure you’re not getting unwanted production on that side of the ball. Or, you know, maybe that makes two teams who believe Clark isn’t the player he once was.

Then, there’s the obvious argument that Clark and Nwosu really don’t play the same position. Clark is 6’3, 272 pounds; Nwosu is 6’2, 251 pounds. Clark is much closer in body type to Mario Edwards than he is to Nwosu or Mafe. Not for nothing, Clark is much closer in age (30) to Edwards (29) than he is to Nwosu (26) or Mafe (24). I love Clark as an edge-setter and a run defender, I still like him as a pass rush threat, but I don’t know if I love the idea of Clark trying to defend a skill position player in space. Maybe that, ultimately, is the reason why a certain segment of the Seahawks-following public dismissed the notion of a Clark return.

But, he’s here now. And I think this could be a perfect fit. What I’m not necessarily buying is that he knows the system. He was last here in 2018; that was Norton’s first season as DC. Maybe defense is defense; maybe this whole 3-4/4-3 thing is muddier than I think it is. But, I wouldn’t say the defense is exactly the same.

What I will say is that as part of a rotation, this could be the marriage we need. Keep Clark in there for rushing downs, then slide Taylor in there for obvious passing downs. Make that a platoon of sorts. Mafe can take over for Nwosu’s percentage of snaps, and we can use Hall to spell him. Also, I love the idea of a front four consisting of Clark, Reed, Jones, and Mafe if we’re in a jam and need to create pressure with a 4-man front. Throw Taylor into that mix on a blitz? *Chef’s Kiss*.

I would say I’m a little more on the positive end of the spectrum on this move. Very low risk, we didn’t give up a draft pick to get him, he’s getting the veteran pro-rated minimum, he’s at least familiar with the coaching staff and the city. He’s still young enough to where – if he plays well – he can keep getting boatloads of money thrown his way. Quality defensive linemen who can rush the passer can play well into their 30’s, so it’s not like he’s a running back or a receiver or something. It’s a high value position, an area of need, and we have an immediate opening. The downside is: maybe he’s finished, he’s nothing more than a body, and he’ll be out of the league in a year or two. That’s what we have to find out. But, he’s not blocking anyone, he shouldn’t command an inordinate percentage of snaps (unless we have more injuries), and if it doesn’t work out, that’s fine, Nwosu will be back in 2024 anyway.

That brings us to the Cleveland Browns this Sunday. I found it extremely intriguing that Pete Carroll was already talking about him playing this weekend, even though he hadn’t shown up yet. That tells me Clark must be in pretty good shape. I can’t wait to watch this game and see what he has in the tank.

I also can’t wait to watch this game because we’re FINALLY bringing back the throwback jerseys! It’s so stupid that it’s taken this long to get here, but it’ll be so great to see them on the field again. Never has it felt more like me rooting for clothing than it will on Sunday.

This game also features the return of D.K. Metcalf, who had some interesting things to say at his weekly press conference (namely that he wasn’t allowed to talk about injuries). More and more, it’s looking like last week was a suspension, hidden behind the cloud of his nagging pain complaints. Regardless, we’ll need him; I just hope he’s got his head in the game, and this isn’t the beginning of an irreparable rift with the team.

I am NOT super confident about this one. The Browns’ defense is one of the true elites in the league this year. Considering we’re coming off back-to-back sub-par outings by our offense, the last thing I wanted to see is Myles Garrett making mincemeat of our O-Line. Injuries are still killing us up front – with Bradford looking to be out, possibly being replaced by Jason Peters, who is more of a tackle than a guard – and we’d be crazy if we don’t chip him with a tight end or a running back on every play.

Then, it came out that Kenneth Walker hasn’t practiced for the last two days. He took on the full load of running back production last weekend – with Charbonnet out – and it looks like he’s paying the price. Charbonnet is on track to return this week, but it might be in time to make his first NFL start. I’ve adjusted my fantasy team accordingly, to pick him up as a replacement, just in case.

On the flipside, Deshaun Watson is out this week. He tried to come back last week, was ineffective, and it was clear that he wasn’t ready. So, P.J. Walker gets the start in his place. The Browns are also banged up at running back, and aside from Amari Cooper (who looks diminished in his old age) and Njoku, I don’t know who their pass catchers are.

This game is just screaming Low Scoring Grudgematch. I think it’s going to be extremely close throughout, and if either team goes up by two scores in the second half, I think it’s over. I worry about the Seahawks here, because while I think this is a game we should win – even if it’s in an ugly fashion like last week’s 20-10 victory over the Cards – I could also see our offense completely bottoming out. If it’s 10-0 late in the third quarter, I don’t believe we have the horses to come back against that ferocious pass rush.

What sucks is that we’re two weeks away from a potential Get Right game for our offense. That means we have to figure out some way to put points on the board against elite defenses, because the Browns aren’t the first, and they won’t be the last.

I think this will be, like, a 16-12 Seahawks victory. Ugly as all get-out, but as long as we can hold the Browns to field goals, we should be in good shape.

I’m Having A Hard Time Predicting This Seahawks Vs. Cardinals Game

Do you ever smell a rat sometimes? I don’t mean literally, of course; I certainly wouldn’t recommend doing that. But, I dunno, there’s just something fishy about this Seahawks/Cardinals game, that I can’t quite put my finger on.

Maybe I’m over-thinking this. I probably am. On paper, this shouldn’t even be a question. The Seahawks are largely healthy, they’re at home, they’re favored by 8 points. The Cardinals are still rolling with Josh Dobbs, they’re missing their top offensive weapon in James Conner, they have a new coaching staff, and they seem to be in the beginning stages of a considerable rebuild. The Seahawks are coming off of a frustrating loss in a game they should have won, the defense is improving week by week, they have weapons all over the field. This has the look of a game where the Seahawks get right against a clearly-inferior opponent.

Yet, we’ve been saying all season long: the Cards have been frisky! Sure, they’ve lost their last three games by double-digits, but all of those games were one-score contests heading into the fourth quarter. And it’s not like the Seahawks have shown any sustained excellence outside of that Giants massacre on Monday night.

The thing I get caught up on is the fact that I don’t know what exactly the Cardinals do well. They’re pretty miserable on defense, they don’t score very much. They seem to run the ball well, but again, Conner is out and their backups are nothing to write home about. Their quarterback isn’t much of a passer, but he’s mobile. He doesn’t really turn the ball over a lot, and he doesn’t take an inordinate amount of sacks.

There’s also the Suicide Pool aspect to this game. If you’re fortunate enough to still be alive in any Eliminator-type contest, you probably haven’t picked the Seahawks yet. I know I’m in that boat, along with most of the remaining participants in my league. In fact, only one person who’s still alive has already used the Seahawks. This has the feel of a situation where the rest of us take the Hawks, they lose to the Cards, and a champion is crowned.

The Seahawks are 7-6 at home to the Cards in the Pete Carroll era; 5-6 since Russell Wilson’s rookie year, and 3-5 since 2015. There’s been some good Cardinals teams in that span, but a whole lotta crap as well. Who can forget Colt McCoy’s mastery over us?

A good team – a team that can truly contend for the NFC West title – would win this one handily. But, I don’t know if I’m there yet. I can’t lay out a good case for us to lose to the Cards, other than weird shit happening. The defense goes conservative, doesn’t touch Dobbs, manages to keep it close, but ultimately gives up a score late to lose it 19-16. That case, obviously, coincides with the Seahawks’ offense failing to move the ball with any sort of regularity, but again, how does that work? It made sense with the Bengals; they have a tremendous front seven, and a rock-solid coaching staff. Who do the Cards have on defense, other than Budda Baker returning from IR or PUP or whatever it was that he was on?

Considering our upcoming matchups against the Browns and Ravens, the Seahawks can ill-afford to lose this Sunday. That being said, would it surprise anyone if we lost to the Cards, but then followed that up with wins in the subsequent two weeks? This is what we do; the Seahawks make no sense!

There’s also a bit of turmoil to deal with (when isn’t there?). The offensive line is still in flux; perhaps with Jason Peters making his first start of the season. People seem to finally be fed up with D.K. Metcalf hurting the team with his antics. The coaching staff put up a list of players who’ve committed the most penalties on the team and he was right there at the top of the list. He fired back in his press conference this week telling everyone what he thought of that (not much) and how he’s not going to change the way he plays (as if anyone ever doubted that, considering nothing has changed from the start, in spite of a lot of lip service on the matter). And, we’re always one false move away from Jamal Adams being injured; that’s a spectre that’s never going to stop hanging over our heads until it inevitably happens all at once.

This week’s slate of games, in general, seems really hard to pick. I’ve always taken that to mean we’re in for a bunch of upsets. Of course, I’m always wrong when I expect a ton of upsets; it’s when you LEAST expect them that they happen. But, I dunno. I’ve generally felt like I had a handle on picking games thus far this year; this week is an absolute mystery to me.

In the end, I have to predict the Seahawks will prevail, but I don’t feel great about it. It hasn’t felt like a “home field advantage” around here in quite some time. I don’t blame the fans for that one bit; I think the fans are fine. It’s the product on the field that’s costing us these games. And until I see it consistently, I’m not going to have a ton of faith in this team to take care of business in games they absolutely SHOULD take care of business.

Can The Underdog Seahawks Turn Their Season Around?

There’s kind of a lot on the line this week. I’m the last person who LIKES being an alarmist; it’s just so fucking predictable and cliche for the hardcore football fan to be like, “WEEK 2 IS A MUST WIN GAME FOR THE SEAHAWKS OTHERWISE THE SEASON IS OVER AND WE MIGHT AS WELL ALL KILL OURSELVES!!!1”.

For the record: do NOT kill yourself if the Seahawks lose this week.

There’s a number of ways to look at this, though. Every time week 2 of the NFL season comes and goes, you get the requisite: such and such percent of teams who start 0-2 make the playoffs; that percentage falls to such and such if they start 0-3. I really only have articles from last year, but since 1970, only 9.5% of teams that started 0-2 made the playoffs. Since 1990, only 14.8% of 0-2 teams made it. Last year, Cincinnati started 0-2 and finished with a 12-4 record (the unfinished Buffalo game notwithstanding) to win their division. That’s a pretty remarkable turnaround; definitely not the norm.

There’s been 6 teams total since 1979 that have made the playoffs after an 0-3 start, for what it’s worth. So, not great.

Last year, the Seahawks started 1-2 before turning things around – oddly enough, with a 48-45 victory over the Lions in Detroit kicking things off – but I guess I’m less concerned about just making the playoffs. There’s always a 9- or 10-win team squeaking into a wild card spot. It’s very possible to start 0-2 and get there; tack on a win at home next week against Carolina and we’re in the same spot we were a year ago. But, I guess I just had higher hopes for this team. Or, you know, just fool me a bit! Make me believe the Seahawks have what it takes to contend with the 49ers! Don’t rip off the band aid in the first two weeks with an 0-2 start.

Sports seasons are most fun when you know you’re elite. 49ers fans must be thrilled right now. Eagles and Cowboys fans are feeling great. The next level of entertainment is when you THINK you’re great. Dolphins fans, Lions fans, Chiefs, Bills, Bengals, Jaguars, and even lower rung teams like Packers, Browns, Ravens, Patriots, Vikings, and Giants fans can delude themselves into having high hopes. No hope for Jets fans though. Never Jets fans. And the Giants fans are only there because they’re galoots who don’t know any better.

But, we Seahawks fans don’t get to live in that fantasy. Not after last week. The best we can hope for is that the Rams are better than anyone expected, and might be a dark horse for a playoff spot. I don’t believe that’s the case. I think the Rams ARE who we thought they were, and they’re going to finish among the bottom teams in football. Which makes our 17-point loss at home all the more demoralizing.

So, that’s a lot to overcome in one week. The Seahawks are fighting for their own fans to have some semblance of confidence in this team, this season. Even if we were always meant to be in a stepping stone year in 2023, it has to actually be a step UP. It can’t look like every other year since 2015.

What does that look like? Well, the team as a whole gets off to a slow start. Not an alarmingly slow start, but an annoyingly slow start. The defense is utter shit, but the offense is just good enough (sometimes) to float around .500 for a while. Then, we go on a little mid-season run to get everyone flying high, before the offense collapses into itself and the we’re stumbling our way into the playoffs. We settle for yet another wild card spot, and we lose in the wild card round. While I’m exaggerating about the 2015 thing, it’s been a virtual reality since 2018 (there was a surprise division championship in 2020, only for us to lose to the Rams in the first round at home).

I can’t go through it again. I REALLY can’t go through it again when I know exactly what’s going to happen.

Winning in Detroit this week would go a long way in changing that perception.

For the record, I’m not even REMOTELY interested in any moral victories this week. We all know the storyline: the Seahawks are as low as a team can be. The Lions, meanwhile, finished 9-8 last year, knocking hated rivals Green Bay out of the playoffs in Week 18, and followed that up with a thrilling victory in Kansas City over the Super Bowl champs last Thursday to kick off the NFL season. They had a potentially-underrated off-season and draft, there’s both a lot of hype and anti-hype surrounding the Lions (many predicting them to win the NFC North; many also predicting them to be the team that most disappoints expectations), but one thing most people agree upon: they’re going to be fun and they’re going to score a lot of points this year. Now, with their 1-0 start, they play at home in front of a sellout crowd that’s going to be louder and more raucous than they’ve been since Barry Sanders’ heyday.

It’s a lot for the Seahawks to walk into.

The Lions are favored by 4.5 points. That line hasn’t really changed since the week began; we’ll see what happens as Sunday approaches. No one REALLY thinks the Seahawks are going to win. Odds say the Lions have a 2/3 chance of winning, which honestly feels low. The Seahawks are likely to be missing both offensive tackles. Devon Witherspoon is probably another week away from entering the starting lineup (who knows if he’ll even play at all this Sunday); Jamal Adams is probably a month away from returning to limited game action. JSN sure as shit didn’t look 100% last week, and I have no idea what’s going on with Lockett. The Seahawks just signed 41 year old Jason Peters off the scrap heap, who might HAVE to start this week, because Stone Forsythe is a joke. Meanwhile, Abe Lucas just hit the IR and we’ll see if he’s able to return this year and actually make a positive impact.

It’s a nightmare. I’m flashing on the Seahawks getting saddled with having the ball first, going 3 & Out, and the roof literally exploding off of that dome. It makes me physically ill.

I’m also flashing on Jared Goff carving up our defense with precision passes, and their running backs double-teaming us right in the pooper at a 5-yards-per-carry clip.

Maybe that all comes to fruition. Maybe these Seahawks are significantly worse than we thought. Maybe we just caught two teams at the wrong time of year, when they’re playing their absolute best. I’m not willing to completely throw out of bed the possibility that we lose by double digits once again.

But, it’s not like we haven’t been here before. There’s something fishy about a line like 4.5, after the Seahawks looked the way they looked last week, and the Lions looked the way they looked last week. Why isn’t it 6 or 7? If I was a dispassionate sports bettor, I’d be looking at the Lions like the lock of the week. I’m assuming the betting public will be on the Lions hot and heavy, if they aren’t already. What are the sharps doing, though? Where are they going to lean?

The Seahawks thrive in chaos. The Seahawks love being the underdogs. The Seahawks constantly defy expectations when you least expect it. There’s no real rational reason to pick the Seahawks to win this game. But, winning this game – dirty and ugly – is the most Seahawky thing I can think of. Especially if they go down 7-0 early in the first quarter.

There’s been nothing but bad vibes permeating throughout Seahawksland this week. Everything that could go wrong DID go wrong last week. We’re all just bracing for the 0-2 start, and the obituaries that will surely follow.

But, isn’t that what Week 2 is all about? Trying to figure out what’s real, and what’s an overreaction?

Look at fantasy. Think about all the players who stunk up the joint last week. Hell, I had a number of them on my teams! Tee “Zero Catches” Higgins, Joe Burrow, Christian Kirk, Josh Allen, Jalen Hurts, Elijah Mitchell, the Steelers’ defense; they all did nothing or next-to-nothing last week. Meanwhile, Jordan Love, Zay Flowers, Brandon Aiyuk, Tyler Allgeier, Puka Nacua, Matthew Stafford, Jordan Addison, the Jets’ defense; they all killed it in week 1 (many of them for my bench, or on the waiver pile). Are all of those guys who stunk going to continue to suck? Of course not; I would bet on most of them turning it around this very week. Similarly, will Jordan Love play at an MVP clip, and will Flowers, Nacua, and Addison never have ANY rookie pitfalls? Of course not.

Guys have bad games. The good ones tend to bounce back the very next week. I still believe the Seahawks have a number of good guys on their team.

The question will be: is this a fundamental, deeply-rooted problem that goes beyond the individual talent level of guys like Dre’Mont Jones, D.K. Metcalf, Bobby Wagner, and Geno Smith? Is it the scheme? The coaching staff? The head coach? The general manager?

We’ll find out. For what it’s worth, I like the Seahawks to cover +4.5. I also don’t hate the notion of the Seahawks winning outright, but a 30-something percent chance – as I mentioned before – feels a little high. My fear is that the Seahawks look 1,000% better than they did last week, but they still fall short at the end. Either the Lions score late to win it, or we have the ball with two minutes to go and Geno is running for his life and getting sacked for his trouble.

0-2, here we come.