The Seahawks Had An Unexciting Draft This Year

It’s interesting to go through the years – dating back to 2010, because I’m less into the idea of going back to the wild west days and trying to decipher a through-line – and see where things went right and where they went wrong. Obviously, the 2010-2012 drafts were epic and life-changing. But, there’s a real argument to be made that every single draft since then has been a failure.

Just scroll through this. Let’s leave 2022-2024 out of it, because there’s just not enough information to make a sound judgment in such a short period of time. But, 2013-2021? I think Seahawks fans with rose-colored glasses will say there have been peaks and valleys in our draft classes in this span. 2013 was pretty miserable and I don’t think anyone can really defend it at this point. But, if you want to think positively, you can say they’ve consistently found role players, contributors, and even starters.

In 2014, they got an offensive line starter in Justin Britt; in 2015, there was Frank Clark and Tyler Lockett. In 2016, there’s Germain Ifedi and Jarran Reed; in 2017, there’s Ethan Pocic and Shaquill Griffin. In 2018, you’re looking at Michael Dickson and Will Dissly; in 2019 there’s D.K. Metcalf. You could say 2020 was the start of a rebound by this organization, with guys like Jordyn Brooks, Darrell Taylor, and Damien Lewis rounding things out; but, also, almost this entire class is on other teams, and the three picks in 2021 produced absolutely no one.

Not a lot of second contracts in Seattle among this bunch. Lockett, Metcalf, and Dickson are the three greatest Seahawks draft picks since 2013. Everyone else were just role players, or able bodies who ate up an offensive line spot. But, no one has really flashed. No one has stood out. It’s all been pretty middling talent, which has led to middling results for this team.

I’m willing to believe in the 2022 and 2023 classes, because I think there’s a lot of meat on the bone. Charles Cross can still be great. Boye Mafe really took a big step in year two. Kenneth Walker is a fuckin’ stud. Abe Lucas, when healthy, can be a beast. Coby Bryant and Tariq Woolen can be ball hawks in the right scheme. Devon Witherspoon clearly has All Pro type talent. Jaxon Smith-Njigba could be amazing if he’s unleashed in the right offense. Derick Hall has the body type to do great things, Zach Charbonnet flashed true elite greatness as a rookie, Anthony Bradford could be a mauler at guard, Cam Young and Mike Morris could be big bodies in a solid D-Line rotation, and Olu Oluwatimi figures to be in a battle for this year’s starting center job as a fifth round pick in his second season. That’s a lot of potential greatness just waiting to be unleashed by the right coaching staff.

But, then again, we’ve already seen the writing on the wall that many of these guys could be busts. Should it really take a left tackle in Charles Cross 3+ years to develop into a star? Shouldn’t that guy enter the league ready to take it by storm? You’ve got two second-round running backs in there, a devalued position that’s frequently getting itself injured. Speaking of injuries, Lucas appears to have a chronic knee issue, and it can only be a matter of time before Witherspoon – with the way he attacks players with reckless abandon – plays himself out of the league a la Jamal Adams. If Kam Chancellor had to retire early due to medicals, what makes you think some tiny dude like Witherspoon is going to last very long into a second contract? JSN sure looked pedestrian for his rookie season as the #1 receiver drafted; Mafe and Hall could both be one-trick ponies unable to set an edge or play at all against the run. There’s whispers about Woolen’s toughness and ability to stay healthy; I could go on and on picking these draft classes apart.

The thing is, I really want to believe in John Schneider. I want to believe it was Pete Carroll putting his foot down and leading to the worst personnel decisions of the last decade. But, I dunno. The last three draft classes – including this one that took place over the weekend – have had decidedly different feels compared to the ones that came before. It’s really felt like a Best Player Available festival, which is a strategy I hold near and dear to my heart. But, if we proceed to spend the next 3-5 years finishing at or around .500, without any real charge towards Super Bowl contention, then I think it will be pretty obvious that this front office doesn’t know what the hell it’s doing any more than any other front office, and 2010-2012 will be seen as flukes more than anything else.

***

That’s a lot of preamble – and a negative one at that – to get to what I actually thought was a pretty smart draft by the Seahawks. If there’s ever going to be a draft that seriously turns things around for this franchise, it’s going to be one that features a lot of bulk along the line of scrimmage, and absolutely nothing with any of the skill positions.

What have we been complaining about for years? Even during the Super Bowl years, what were we after? Elite defensive tackles who can rush the passer and be a force in the middle against the run. From 2013-2019, we drafted 12 guys who were either DT’s or plus-sized DE’s who we wanted to slide inside on passing downs; those were all some of our greatest busts. Malik McDowell, L.J. Collier, Rasheem Green, Naz Jones, Jesse Williams, Demarcus Christmas; the list goes on and on. Jarran Reed was the only guy worth a damn in that bunch, and even he wasn’t worth it – in the minds of this front office – to spend on that second contract he received. Defensive tackle has been a fucking wasteland for this franchise, and if it wasn’t for Michael Bennett sliding inside during the glory years, we’d be talking about spanning multiple decades of futility.

So, yeah, I’m pretty excited about Byron Murphy. I’m also justifiably reserved in my excitement, because while it’s great to say we got the best all-around defensive lineman in this class, you also can’t deny that we got him with the 16th pick. The NFL deemed 15 other guys better than him. I know a lot of those teams had more pressing needs – mostly on the offensive side of the ball, what with the first 14 picks going that way – but if there was a true juggernaut, no-doubter of a defensive behemoth ready to plug-and-play as a future All Pro and maybe even Hall of Famer, there’s no way that player would’ve fallen to 16. You think Will Anderson – had he left for the NFL this year – would’ve been there for us? Or Aidan Hutchinson, or Chase Young, or Nick Bosa, or Quinnen Williams? I don’t think so.

I think the odds are a lot better that Byron Murphy was the best of a very weak defensive line class, than he’s a future game-wrecker in the mold of Aaron Donald or Geno Atkins. He’ll probably be good, but I’m not holding my breath waiting around for him to be great. As long as he’s not a fucking turd like just about every other defensive tackle we’ve drafted in the last decade, I’ll be happy.

One of the big problems with this draft is how it laid out for the Seahawks. This was a top-heavy draft, with an extremely thin bunch of players in Day 3. If ever there was a draft to select your next punter, kicker, or even long-snapper, this was the one. And, unfortunately for us – when all was said and done – only two of our eight picks were in the first three rounds, where the odds were best we’d actually find useful players. Even though we traded down once – at the top of the fourth round, to get an extra sixth, I think – we didn’t have any sort of capital to make the kinds of moves necessary to give us back the second rounder we lost in the Leonard Williams deal. Had we traded out of 16, we likely would’ve missed out on the last remaining true impact players. Would that have been worth a pick in the mid-20’s and mid-50’s? Probably not.

So, instead, we stuck at 16, took the best player available, and had a LOOOOOONG wait until pick 81 in the third round.

Where we took Christian Haynes, a quality guard who figures to start right away, and might even convert to center, to give us more beef at that spot than we’ve had since Max Unger. I don’t know how good a lineman is from UConn, but draftniks seem to like him, so that’s good enough for me.

I hear the inside linebacker we got from UTEP in the fourth round, Tyrice Knight, is more of a project than a guy we can plug and play. I’m assuming we missed out on the linebacker we actually wanted, and settled for this guy because that was a particular need (one of the few instances where we probably went away from our BPA strategy). I don’t expect Knight to be much of anything.

I also don’t expect much out of our other fourth rounder, A.J. Barner, tight end out of Michigan, but for very different reasons. I actually like the pick, because it sounds like he’s one of the better blocking tight ends in this class, and that was certainly a position of need. If we can get tougher at that position, I’m all for it, because it’s almost like drafting another lineman. He’s probably NOT the stone-hands catcher we’re all imagining, but he’s also not going to drastically improve this offense with his receiving. But, if he opens up holes in the running game, and gives our quarterback a little extra time to make a throw, he’s exactly the kind of tight end I want on my roster.

With our last four picks, we took two cornerbacks from Auburn, and two more offensive line projects. It certainly seems strange to invest so heavily in cornerback depth, when there’s no realistic way we can keep all these guys on our roster (Witherspoon, Woolen, Brown, Jackson, the two rookies, Artie Burns, Coby Bryant (unless we’re still turning him into a safety)), but maybe we’re looking to wheel and deal during training camp. Or, maybe some hard cuts are a-comin’. Either way, until further notice, guys like Nehemiah Pritchett and D.J. James are just camp fodder, and probably practice squad-bound, unless they really stand out as special teamers.

As for the O-Line projects, we got a widebody from Utah named Sataoa Laumea, and some no-name guy from Findlay who goes by Michael Jerrell. Laumea, by all accounts, is the more interesting of the two, as he could conceivably have a shot at contending for a starting spot. Jerrell might as well already be on the practice squad, but I’m not going to hold that against him.

We took three offensive linemen in this draft, that’s not lost on me. I think that’s a huge development for this team. Not that they’ve neglected the O-Line, necessarily. They’re always taking bites at the apple. But, they’ve also failed so miserably for so long, while getting by with middling production from guys on rookie deals. It’s nice to see they haven’t given up. There’s a way to build this unit up from the draft; other teams do it all the time. You need your foundational guys like Charles Cross to pan out, but you also need your mid-rounders like Lucas and Haynes and Bradford and Laumea to develop in a hurry and take the world by storm. I want to be the team that’s the envy of fans across the league. I want them to look at the Seahawks and think, “How do they keep finding these diamonds in the rough later in the draft?!” It’s nice to do it at cornerback and wide receiver, but when you can do it on the O-Line, you’ve really got something.

Half of this draft went to the line of scrimmage; when you throw in a primarily blocking tight end, and an inside linebacker who’s going to have to attack that LOS on the regular, that’s 3/4 of your draft going to the most important non-quarterback spots on the team. If we’re ever going to turn this thing around, it’s either going to be by finding another transcendent quarterback, or by killing it everywhere else. Since we’re bound and determined to ignore QB in the draft every fucking year, then we’ve gotta start putting in work on Plan B. Devoting the bulk of your draft to the LOS, while signing Leonard Williams to a long-term extension, and bringing back George Fant to be offensive tackle depth, is a great start to that process.

Now, let’s check back in three years and see if this class – and any of the others that came before it – are worth a damn.

What’s Going To Happen With The Seahawks & Tyler Lockett?

There was always kind of a Big 4 when it came to Seahawks cuts this offseason, in order to maximize our cap room and set the stage for a new era in Seattle (maybe a Big 5, if you count Bryan Mone and his $5 million we freed up yesterday). The first three were knocked out right in a row: Diggs, Adams, Dissly. But, the final one was conspicuously missing, which leads me to wonder: what is Tyler Lockett’s fate?

People have talked about it so nonchalantly, it’s kind of shocking, if I’m being honest. Lockett has been such a mainstay since entering the league in 2015. He’s always in there, he’s always getting open, he’s consistently making big plays. There’s been no let-down in his 9 years in the league. I wouldn’t say he’s the greatest Seahawks receiver of all time, but I also don’t see how you can keep him out of the Top 5. Steve Largent is #1 by a mile. Then, I think you can make an argument for Brian Blades, Darrell Jackson, Doug Baldwin, and Tyler Lockett all in that next tier, with guys like D.K. Metcalf, Joey Galloway, and Bobby Engram not far behind. Indeed, Lockett is #2 in receiving yards, receptions, and touchdowns, so honestly if you rated Lockett #2, I wouldn’t get bent out of shape (though, I think I would still take Doug over him, if I just needed a guy who could do everything and could always get open when we’d need him the most).

Of course, I understand why Lockett is a cut candidate. His cap hit this year is almost $27 million; we could open up $7 million in space if we let him go. And that still might happen. There’s an outside chance that the team didn’t want to lump him with the other three guys we cut this week, to shine a light on all that he’s done with the Seahawks. But, it would seem to me, if you’re going to cut him, you’re going to do it early, to allow him to find his next home. If nothing else, he’s earned that courtesy.

Which leads me to wonder if there’s another way the team wants to go. I’m starting to hear more and more about the team wanting to restructure his deal. While there’s been no let-down in his productivity, I would say his 2023 season seems like the beginning of an inevitable decline. Prior to 2023, he was on four straight years of 1,000+ yards receiving; in 2023 that fell to 894. His yards per reception rate has fallen in the last two seasons, and he only accounted for 5 touchdowns, which is the fewest he’s had since 2017. Anecdotally, his number of explosives seems to have gone down, and his number of times seen breathing from an oxygen mask on the sideline has skyrocketed. That isn’t to denigrate him by any means; I think Lockett is a brilliant tactician out there and has been a joy to behold since his college days. I think he’s wise to get down before taking too many massive hits. And, if the oxygen helps him recover for the next drive, whatever it takes to play your best! But, you know, he’ll also be 32 years old this September, and it’s easy to project a further decline.

There’s two more years left on his deal. It seems hard to fathom that the Seahawks would play out as it’s currently constructed. Over $30 million of that is base salary that’s not guaranteed. With D.K. Metcalf earning what he’s earning, and with Jaxon Smith-Njigba being a first round draft pick last year, $30+ million just feels like a lot for someone who’s destined to be this team’s third receiver by the time his contract expires. There’s also the fact that he’s a pretty successful Real Estate (agent? mogul?) person who seemingly has gotten to this point in his career where he’s in good shape, has his wits about him, and has a bevy of interests outside of football that should carry him through the next chapters of his life. Does he really need to play into his mid-30’s?

The odds seem to be pointing to a restructure, but how does that even work? What does that look like? Presumably, you tear up the existing contract and write a brand new one. But, aren’t you still on the hook for all the dead money of the previous one? That’s a hair under $20 million that we’d have to eat this year. And, also presumably, he’s not going to come back just to play for the minimum. Maybe he’s not worth $15 million per year, but he’s also not worth $1 million. Maybe he gives you a bit of a discount, I still feel like we’d have to be in the $8-$10 million range. And, with that, you’re not getting any savings whatsoever on a one year deal. So, that means you’re signing him to a minimum of a 2-year deal, with the bulk of it likely front-loaded (with the expectation being: either we cut him after this year, he retires after this year, or we go year-to-year until he hangs ’em up).

Maybe that’s the play. Absorb the bulk of the financial hit this year – when we have this windfall of cash that we weren’t expecting (and that we aren’t necessarily expecting to continue at this rate going forward) – while making his eventual release/retirement much more palatable down the road, and allowing him to exit the team/league gracefully.

I’ll tell you what, that would be MY preference. I also don’t necessarily think the Seahawks are in any position to contend for championships in the next two years. So, while we’re on this youth kick, why not keep Lockett around as a mentor? As long as he’s still producing, as long as he’s still helping you convert third downs and whatnot. Seems like the best for all involved.

If it’s not that, then I suppose there’s always a chance of a restructure followed by a trade to a contending team who could use a veteran like Lockett. You’re telling me the Bills or Chiefs or Ravens couldn’t use him? Just not the 49ers, please. My heart can’t take it.

I’m fascinated to see how this all shakes out. Nothing will diminish Lockett’s esteem in my eyes, though. He’s one of the best to ever wear a Seahawks uniform, and we were exceedingly fortunate to get to watch him on a weekly basis display his cool and casual brand of excellence.

Seahawks Death Week: Were The 2023 Seahawks Better Than They Were In 2022?

Both teams finished the regular season 9-8. The 2022 Seahawks actually made the playoffs, while the 2023 Seahawks did not. The 2023 Seahawks clearly had higher expectations coming into the year, whereas the 2022 Seahawks were expected to be among the worst five teams in the NFL. But, just because the current iteration underperformed, while the previous one overachieved, doesn’t necessarily mean the 2022 Seahawks were the better team. And, since we don’t live in a magical world where we can have these two squads duke it out on the football field, we have to look at the numbers and see where they compare.

I will readily admit that I’m coming into this exercise HOPING that the 2023 team is actually better, and thanks to a game or two not going our way at the end, we ultimately failed to achieve our goals. Because, if that’s the case, then maybe an argument can be made that this is actually a team on the rise, and this year can be seen as an aberration. However, if the 2023 Seahawks are objectively worse, then this is a team going in the wrong direction. Then, we have to start questioning how good these last two draft classes actually were. Then, we’re left to wonder how long it’s actually going to be before things turn around.

I’ll start with the defense. Heading into the season, what was the biggest problem area, the biggest area of need, the part of the team we all knew needed improvement? The defense. In 2022, we gave up 361.7 yards per game (26th in football); in 2023, we gave up 371.4 yards per game (30th in football).

You know what sucks? Every team that was worse than us in 2022 improved. Detroit went from 32 to 19, Minnesota went from 31 to 16, Houston went from 30 to 14, Chicago went from 29 to 12, Las Vegas went from 28 to 13, Atlanta went from 27 to 11! This isn’t, like, small baby steps of improvement. These are LEAPS AND BOUNDS! And it’s not like we’re talking about teams that all made the playoffs; they were all varying levels of mediocre-to-bad in 2023. Yet they all also saw significant improvements on defense, in one season’s time.

If we keep going back, in 2021, the Seahawks were 28th in yards per game, in 2020 we were 22nd (but still gave up over 380 per game), in 2019 we were 26th. In 2018, we were 16th; that’s the last time we were even kind of okay. Before that, we were obviously very good. But, starting with 2019, that’s five years of being one of the worst defenses in all of football. Of being a defense that absolutely CANNOT compete for a championship. With a head coach that prides himself on being defensively-minded. We’ve been stuck in the shit for half a decade now; meanwhile, all these shitty defenses from 2022 are kicking ass in 2023.

Where did we struggle the most in 2022? Rush defense (150.2 yards per game, 30th in football). How did we fare in 2023? When we got rid of a lot of dead weight and put the majority of our resources into shoring up this part of the game? 138.4 yards per game, 31st in football. So, we improved our number of yards allowed per game, but still ended up worse compared to the rest of the NFL.

The two teams worse than us in 2022? Houston (32) and Chicago (31), who finished 2023 6th (!) and 1st (!!!) in rush yards per game allowed. IN ONE YEAR, they went from the worst to the best!

I mean, this isn’t fucking rocket science! We’re talking about Houston, who had a total coaching regime change, and Chicago, whose head coach in 2022 was just finishing his first year and was already on the hot seat. The Seahawks, meanwhile, are among the most stable franchises in the sport, yet again, we’ve struggled on defense for half a fucking decade. Un-fucking-believable.

To round it out, the 2022 Seahawks gave up 211.5 passing yards (13th); the 2023 Seahawks gave up 233.0 (21st). The 2022 Seahawks gave up 23.6 points per game (25th); the 2023 Seahawks gave up 23.6 points per game 25th). We literally gave up one more point than a year ago. The pass defense – particularly the secondary – was supposed to be our biggest strength (even discounting Jamal Adams as “likely to be injured” heading into the season); yet it was kind of mediocre, in spite of the fact that we got more Jamal Adams than I ever thought possible.

Just a little more housekeeping, for context. The 2022 Seahawks were +2 in turnover differential; the 2023 Seahawks were also +2 in turnover differential. We actually turned it over less in 2023, but also generated fewer turnovers, which is how we get to that number. That’s interesting to me, because if you would’ve told me prior to 2023 that the Seahawks’ offense would have 6 fewer turnovers – knowing what I knew about the perceived improvement of talent on defense – I would say that’s HUGE, and might’ve translated to 2-3 more victories. Instead, that perceived talent improvement never really materialized.

For a little more context, the 2022 Seahawks had 45 sacks (tied for 7th); the 2023 Seahawks had 47 sacks (tied for 11th). Another interesting stat is the 2022 Seahawks gave up 62.7% completions (10th), whereas the 2023 Seahawks gave up 66.7% completions (26th). So, in spite of being slightly better at generating sacks, it looks like we were actually softer all around, and probably not generating as much pressure on the whole. Or, you know, maybe we just faced significantly better quarterback play in 2023 than in 2022; you can’t rule that out either. Maybe both are true!

What do my eyes tell me about this defense? It’s tricky, because I believe we were actually significantly more talented in personnel in 2023 than we were in 2022. I think Jarran Reed had a fabulous season. I think Leonard Williams is the best all-around defensive lineman we’ve had since Michael Bennett (very different players/body types, but similarly dominant in everything that they do). I think Dre’Mont Jones is as talented as advertised, but likely wasn’t utilized properly. I think Boye Mafe took a HUGE step forward. I think Devon Witherspoon is deserving of every single accolade that comes his way. I think Jordyn Brooks is an animal, and it’s tremendous how well (and how quickly) he came back from such a significant injury. I thought Tre Brown, Mike Jackson, and Julian Love all shined at times. I thought Riq Woolen was injured for most of this year and that likely explains his step-back (I still think he’s great in coverage, but when he’s hurt, he’s going to be a liability in the run game).

That being said, I think we were another wide-body short on the interior, to significantly plug the run. I think Bobby Wagner likely helped in that regard, but probably not as much as everyone thinks. Wagner obviously had his struggles in pass defense (to the point where he probably should’ve been taken off the field on every 3rd & medium-to-long), but we also had no one behind him to fill in (linebacker depth was non-existent yet again); I also don’t think Wagner was the fix-all in the run game everyone’s making him out to be. How many times did he too get swallowed up, or jump the wrong gap? He’s old! He was old two years ago!

I also thought Quandre Diggs looked a little old. I thought Jamal Adams – aside from a few plays near the LOS here and there – looked legitimately bad. Maybe he was hurt all year, but still, he looks toast. And, I think the outside linebacker play was atrocious outside of Boye Mafe and Uchenna Nwosu (who got knocked out 6 games in), and I’m not even sure Mafe is any good at setting an edge. What I know for sure is that Darrell Taylor and Derick Hall are 100% NOT good in that regard, and it’s a huge hole for us.

A lot of these were problems in 2022, though. We couldn’t set an edge then either. Our linebacker room was unquestionably worse with Cody Barton getting significant reps. Adams was still hurt, Diggs was still getting up there, and we were obviously missing out on beef in the interior line.

So, how do you explain this across-the-board drop-off in defensive production?

The coaching staff. Clint Hurtt and Co.

He’s not a defensive coordinator. We learned that in his first season in 2022, and it’s been nothing but cemented into my brain in 2023, when he was gifted better talent, and his unit produced worse results. He needs to go.

***

Now, let’s go to the offense. Spoiler alert: it also looks like it’s worse in 2023 than it was in 2022.

2022 total yards = 351.5 (13th); 2023 total yards = 322.9 (21st). 2022 passing yards = 231.4 (12th); 2023 passing yards = 230.0 (14th). 2022 rushing yards = 120.1 (18th); 2023 rushing yards = 92.9 (28th).

So, passing yards remained stagnant, in spite of total stability at the QB spot, and arguably an improved wide receiver room with first rounder Jaxon Smith-Njigba replacing Marquise Goodwin. And we’re talking about a DRASTICALLY worse rushing attack, in spite of the fact that Kenneth Walker played in the same number of games (all as the lead back), while we added the robust talent of Charbonnet (taking the smattering of 2022 carries given to DeeJay Dallas, Travis Homer, and Rashaad Penny the few times he was healthy).

Okay, so point to the offensive line. Obviously, there were lots of injuries across the board causing this unit to suffer. Except, we took 46 sacks in 2022, vs. a combined 37 in 2023. Team passing, okay, you can attribute some of that to Drew Lock playing in 4 games (starting 2). But, Geno’s per-game numbers year over year obviously declined (fewer yards per game, lower completion percentage, fewer yards per attempt, lower passer rating).

Also, if your O-Line is so banged up, wouldn’t you WANT to run the ball more? In 2022, we attempted 425 carries; in 2023, it was 382. In 2022, we attempted 573 passes; in 2023, we attempted 575. Geno attempted a little over 33 and a half passes per game; but Drew Lock attempted 32 per game in his two starts, so it’s not like we really took it easy on him. Yet, neither quarterback benefitted from extended competence out of the rushing attack. As a team, we averaged 4.8 yards per carry (4.9 yards per carry if you take out two massive losses by our punter) in 2022; we could only muster 4.1 yards per carry in 2023.

So, what’s THAT all about? We thought we really had something with our new O-Line coach in 2022. But, while improving on our sack numbers (in basically the same number of drop-backs), we took a massive nosedive in our running numbers. I guess we have to HOPE that it’s just injuries and things are bound to positively regress in 2024. But, there’s also a number of personnel decisions we have to make – along the interior, particularly – that has been one of our greatest weaknesses since time immemorial.

All told, our 2022 Seahawks scored 23.9 points per game (9th); our 2023 Seahawks scored 21.4 points per game (17th). An already-bad defense somehow managed to get worse, and a decently-good offense became painfully mediocre. In spite of the fact that the offense had a ton of carry-over, improved in both the running back and wide receiver rooms, and had a quarterback who couldn’t have been more motivated to better his career-best numbers from the previous season.

Does that also come down to coaching? Because, to me, that comes down to coaching.

***

Here’s my ultimate ruling on the question at the top:

I think, personnel-wise, the 2023 Seahawks were better than the 2022 Seahawks. However, I think the play on the field was worse. The numbers bear that out, even if their records were the same. We were -38 in point differential in 2023, meaning we probably overachieved. The NFL record 7 go-ahead TD passes by Geno Smith in the 4th quarter or OT sort of proves that point. We had a +6 point differential in 2022, which seems appropriate for a 9-8 team. So, while things were disappointing for Geno Smith, and some of the other veterans in 2023, I don’t think they were so much worse that it cost us. Ultimately, I put it on our coaching staff – our coordinators specifically, though Pete Carroll certainly doesn’t get a pass from me at this point – as the reason why the 2023 Seahawks were worse.

I believe, with more competent leadership, the 2023 Seahawks should’ve won more games and reached the playoffs.

That doesn’t mean I believe this team was good enough to win the NFC West. They clearly had a ceiling that was much lower than the 49ers. But, I do believe we should’ve beaten the Rams at least once, if not twice. Win one and we’re in the playoffs. Win both, we’re 11-6 and playing in Tampa in the first round of the playoffs (while the Rams would’ve been 8-9 and on the outside looking in, where they belonged).

So, in that sense, it’s pretty clear why Pete Carroll needed to go. We can’t really tell at this time if it was a matter of the messaging not getting through, or too much meddling by Pete in the personnel decisions to keep around these guys who are getting up there (saying nothing of giving up a second round draft pick for half of a season of Leonard Williams). But, I believe we didn’t have the proper staff in place to get the best out of these players. A more run-focused offensive scheme (becoming almost exclusively either a run or play-action team), with more attention paid to stopping the run and generating pressure by being blitz-heavy on defense, likely would’ve enhanced our win/loss record.

What we couldn’t do were the same things we’ve done the last 5+ years. What we couldn’t do was declare a shift towards a 3-4 defense, only to pretty much play a random hodgepodge of the exact defensive fronts we’ve used all along. What we couldn’t do was give up huge defensive cushions underneath – hoping to take away the deep ball – only to give up the deep ball anyway, and everything else opposing offenses wanted to do. Change it up! Drastically, if necessary! But, do SOMETHING.

This team did nothing, and mediocrity was our end result. Let’s hope that doesn’t continue on into 2024.

The Seahawks’ Season Ended With A Pointless Victory Over The Cardinals

I don’t see this victory as being QUITE as enraging as the Week 18 Broncos victory last year (when we had their first round draft pick, which fell from a #3 to a #5, a crucial drop that eliminated any opportunity for a truly impactful stud player, or at least a bevy of extra picks in a potential trade-down from 3), but, you know, a win when your season is going nowhere is always going to be annoying to me.

The Seahawks fell from 14th to 16th, while allowing the Cardinals to go from 5th to 4th. It’s not really a HUGE difference, on either end.

Of course, the ideal scenario would’ve involved the Bears beating the Packers, with the Cards beating the Seahawks, but we can’t ever have nice things. You know that. The Bears, for whatever reason, couldn’t get anything going, in a 17-9 loss to the Packers in Lambeau. 3/11 on third down will do that, I guess. That was a weird all-around game, though. Green Bay’s defense actually showed up to play! Maybe they’re getting healthier on that side of the ball at the exact right time? Because their D looked like ass for a while.

That game ended in the middle of the fourth quarter. At that point, Arizona had a 20-13 lead, and they were driving to go up two scores. Matt Prater missed a 43 yard field goal with just under 3 minutes to go in the game that would’ve ended things. The Seahawks, naturally, drove right down the field in just over a minute and hit Lockett on a beautiful 34 yard TD pass to pull within one. With the season already over, we went for two, Geno had all day, and was able to connect on the 2-point conversion to go up 21-20.

The only good thing about that was Arizona had so much time left to re-take the lead. They got back into field goal range with a second remaining, but Prater missed again (this time from 51 yards). Both kicks were wide-right, ever so slightly.

Geno hit 16/28 for 189, 2 TDs, and 0 INTs. Walker ran 78 yards on 17 carries. Charbonnet added 32 yards on 5 carries. Lockett had 2 catches for 71 yards and a TD, Dissly had 3 for 46 and a TD. Bobby Wagner had 15 tackles to lead the league (with 183). Devon Witherspoon had 11 tackles (including 3 for loss). Darrell Taylor had our lone sack.

I tried to make it a point to watch the entire game, though I did go split screen with the Packers/Bears. It feels weird rooting against the Seahawks, and I’m sure if that other game had gone the other way, I would’ve felt that bubbling excitement boiling over. But, truly, this Seahawks team was not made for the playoffs. It was barely made for the regular season. This team felt like damn near every Mariners team we’ve seen over the last 20 years. Just good enough at times to hold our interest, but ultimately destined to fall short.

The Rams finished 10-7, after beating the 49ers in a Battle of the Backups. That leaves us, at 9-8, firmly entrenched in third place. We had a -38 point differential. We were 5-3 at home, 4-5 on the road. We were 2-4 in the division (both wins against Arizona), and 7-5 in the NFC.

Of note, our Strength Of Schedule – used in tiebreakers to determine draft order – was .512. Only 4 of the 14 playoff teams had to overcome a more difficult schedule: Baltimore (.543), Pittsburgh (.540), Cleveland (.536), and the Rams (.529). The 49ers were close (.509), but isn’t that interesting? The AFC North was the only division EVER to have four teams finish above .500. They ended up, as a result, having the most difficult schedule of anyone. The NFC West were next on that list, in no small part because we also had to play the AFC North. 12 of the 18 teams to not make the playoffs had Strength of Schedules over .500. It’s crazy how much luck comes into it.

Geno Smith finished with 3,624 passing yards, 20 TDs, and 9 INTs. I’ll do a separate post about how this compares to his 2022 season, but suffice it to say, there’s a significant drop-off.

Kenneth Walker finished with 905 yards in 15 games, for a 4.1 average per carry. Charbonnet had 462 in 16 games, with a 4.3 average per carry. D.K. Metcalf had 66 receptions for 1,114 yards and 8 TDs. Tyler Lockett had 79 for 894 and 5 TDs. Jaxon Smith-Njigba had 63 for 628 and 4 TDs.

Bobby Wagner had the 183 tackles, with 3.5 sacks. Julian love had 123 tackles and led the team with 4 INTs. Boye Mafe led the team with 9 sacks, Jarran Reed had 7, Darrell Taylor had 5.5, Dre’Mont Jones and Jordyn Brooks had 4.5 each, and Leonard Williams had 4 sacks in just 10 games with the Seahawks (5.5 sacks in total, across a whopping 18 games, since he missed out on having a BYE week this year). Devon Witherspoon led the team with 16 passes defended, Riq Woolen had 11 and Love finished with 10. Woolen and Tre Brown had 2 INTs each, Witherspoon, Diggs, and Brooks each had 1.

That’s really all I got for now. We’ve got a lot going on, sports-wise, this week, so Seahawks Death Week will have to be postponed. It’s been … a season. See you next time!

The Seahawks Aren’t Great At Any One Thing

The Seahawks get a lot of credit for being competitive. If I understand the phrase right, it’s a double-edged sword. When things are going well, people point to the coaching staff and say, “Boy Pete Carroll does a great job of adapting and getting the most out of his players!” But, when things go poorly, people point to the coaching staff and say, “Boy Pete Carroll is over the hill and washed up and doesn’t understand what the game of football is morphing into!”

There was a time this year where the Seahawks were winners of 5 out of 6 games, and the one we lost (to the Bengals) you could argue we gave away. But, even still, they were the Bengals, Joe Burrow was still alive, and you can understand why even a good team would lose that game on the road. The offense felt vibrant, the defense appeared to be improving, and we all let ourselves believe that these Seahawks could compete with those 49ers for this NFC West and maybe even above and beyond.

Then, we got massacred by the Ravens. That kicked off a lull where we lost 4 out of 5 games, with the lone victory being a 3-point variety against one of the worst, most dysfunctional teams in football (the Commanders), at home no less. We won the next two games to regain control over our own playoff destiny, only to lose to the Steelers last week, to once again need a Week 18 victory plus some help.

The Seahawks are 8-8. You can’t really give this team a lot of credit for being competitive, because if we’re honest with ourselves, this team is only competitive against very flawed-to-bad teams.

There are lots of teams hovering around .500, though. Lots of flawed teams who are in contention for the playoffs. There have been plenty of flawed teams throughout the years who have made the playoffs, gotten hot, and managed to do some damage (even winning a Super Bowl here and there). It’s not always the VERY BEST teams who win it all. Sometimes, you just need to pose the right matchup problems against the right teams, to get the result you want.

The Cleveland Browns are 11-5 and locked into the playoffs. You wouldn’t consider them a front-runner; they’re on, what, their fourth quarterback? Joe Flacco off the scrap heap re-joined the league and has set the world on fire. Has Joe Flacco suddenly gotten amazing again? No way! But, he’s in the right situation, with the right team, that has some elite components (defense, running game, O-Line) that allows them to make up for any mistakes Flacco might generate.

The Dolphins are also 11-5 and locked into the playoffs. Their defense kinda stinks, but they’re so dynamic on offense that you could see them winning any game if things break right. The Chiefs are 10-6 and their receivers are hot garbage. The Eagles are 11-5 and their defense has regressed HARD. The Rams are 9-7, but they’re still well-coached and explosive enough (and veteran enough) on offense to beat anybody.

Which brings me to the Seahawks. They’re a consummate 7-seed type of team. But, unlike the Packers, Steelers, or either of the South divisions, the Seahawks don’t have any one thing they do extremely well. They just have a lot of things they’re okay at, with some VERY glaring weaknesses that hold them back.

It’s honestly pretty miserable watching the Seahawks closely. I wonder if these other fringe teams have the same type of disgruntled fans. There’s nothing you can hang your hat on, where you can say, “If THIS happens, we can pull it out.” Even in the post-L.O.B. era of Seahawks football with prime Russell Wilson at the helm, we could look at the team and say, “Well, if Russell Wilson plays out of his mind, maybe we can win three playoff games and get to the Super Bowl.” Of course, that never happened, and we now understand why it was foolish to think that way. But, at least there was a chance. Russell Wilson used to be magic, and sometimes he was all we needed to will ourselves to victories.

You can’t say that about Geno Smith. Russell Wilson could get by with a rancid offensive line. Geno Smith is like this delicate flower that needs a climate-controlled environment to flourish. I’m not talking about weather here; it’s sort of a terrible analogy. But, like, Geno needs very good O-Line play. He needs the defense to keep us in it. He can’t carry us on his back and will us to victory. Oh sure, if everything is just right, he can lead us to a late come-from-behind victory every now and then. But, you better not allow any pass rushers to get in his face! He’s not making those comebacks against the likes of the 49ers, Cowboys, or Steelers!

What’s the best thing Seattle has going for it? The easy answer is the wide receiver room, but that’s so dependant on your quarterback’s play, that I think I have to push them down a tier. I think the actual best thing Seattle has going for it is the running back room. The one-two punch of Kenneth Walker and Zach Charbonnet is as good as it gets. Walker makes something out of nothing in a way I haven’t seen since Barry Sanders. I’m not saying he’s as good as Barry Sanders, but I’m saying the moves you see him put on people on the football field week-in and week-out are as electric and jaw-dropping as I’ve seen out of anyone since Sanders retired. Charbonnet, on the other hand, is just a solid and dynamic straight-ahead runner. Every time I see him play well, I wonder if he’s the future #1 on this team, but then Walker comes back and flashes those amazing cut-back moves, and I’m swayed in his direction. Either way, those two combined – with their tremendous blocking and pass-catching abilities – puts us at a level few teams are at in the NFL.

So, why don’t we feature it more? Why aren’t we scheming to highlight the run, rather than using it to complement a passing attack that’s … fine? Your guess is as good as mine. Seems to me, once again, we have the wrong offensive coordinator. He was brought in to try to appease a disgruntled Russell Wilson, we traded Wilson a year later, and now we’ve been trying to make it work. Sometimes, Waldron looks like one of the best OCs in football. But, too often – especially this season – he gets too one-track minded. He goes away from the run – mind-bogglingly – even though we’re in more games than we’re way behind. And less and less do we see guys schemed open. We were supposed to get the system that the Rams use to tremendous success. Lots of crossers, lots of different plays out of similar-looking personnel groupings. But, either Geno isn’t seeing them, or we’ve gone away from them. Regardless, this offense looks as dysfunctional as it was under Schotty and in the final years of Bevell.

Getting back to the receivers, I’ll tell you what this team doesn’t have; it doesn’t have Doug Baldwin, or a Doug Baldwin type. It doesn’t have that guy who can get open under any circumstance. It doesn’t have that guy you can go to on 3rd & Long, when you absolutely need a conversion to move the chains. Tyler Lockett sort of used to be that guy, but not really, and definitely not anymore. I don’t know what Lockett is nowadays, if I’m being honest. Either he’s trending towards being washed up, or we’re just not utilizing him like we should. More often than not, we’re going to D.K. when we need a big catch to move the chains. Don’t get me wrong, D.K. has been GREAT this year. But, he still has massive drops at the worst times, and you never know when he’s going to be that powderkeg that’s one bad taunt away from exploding.

The good news is: maybe Jaxon Smith-Njigba will be the next true heir apparent to Doug Baldwin. But, he’s still a rookie, he’s still developing that relationship with Geno, and while he’s much more productive now than he was at the beginning of the season, he’s not quite there yet. Hopefully in the next year or two, but that doesn’t help us out THIS season, now does it?

As far as the defense goes, write it off. There’s nothing elite about any of these position groups. Jamal Adams was shut down, having never fully recovered from his knee injury. He was getting beaten on the reg, and was less and less productive out in space near the line of scrimmage the more he played. Clearly, his body is broken, and it’s going to really suck if we’re stuck with him for another year.

As for the rest of the secondary, that was sort of our big hope, but it hasn’t come to fruition. I think the depth is there, but the top-end talent has been lacking. Which is interesting, because two of our three Pro Bowlers came from this group (Devon Witherspoon and Julian Love). Witherspoon looks as good as advertised, but he started the year banged up, and he’s ending the year banged up. When he’s been healthy out there, he’s been a game-changer. But, I’m starting to have serious doubts that we’re ever going to get a full season out of him. And I’m certainly dubious about getting a respectable second contract out of him. As for Love, he’s definitely come on late, but early this season he was a huge liability! The bar to climb over for Pro Bowl contention seems to be getting lower and lower nowadays.

You can’t deny Riq Woolen’s sophomore season has been anything but disappointing. Seems like he too is injured, but I don’t remember him ever being all that active in tackling near the line of scrimmage. That wasn’t a problem last year when he was making plays and generating turnovers; but this year, when he’s not doing that, he’s not really doing anything for you, is he? The rest of the guys – Diggs, Brown, Jackson, Burns, etc. – have all flashed some level of greatness, but have also totally disappeared for long stretches. As a result, this defense is getting increasingly shredded as the season goes along.

The linebackers have been okay against the run, but Bobby Wagner has been one of the biggest weaknesses in the passing game in the entire NFL (he’s a Pro Bowler based on reputation only). Without Jordyn Brooks, the linebacker room is totally decimated (as we saw last week against the Steelers). It’s tough when you’re as thin as you are, and you’re forced to play Wagner at or near 100% of the snaps every week. Now we have to pay Brooks whatever the market rate is for a top-end interior linebacker? What are we doing with our money here?!

I think the interior of the defensive line has been the most productive unit on this team, especially with the addition of Leonard Williams. Between him, Jarran Reed, and Dre’Mont Jones, we’re as solid as you can get. But, when Nwosu went down, the edge has been kind of a wasteland. Frank Clark has hardly played, and I think has since been cut (or is on the verge of being cut). Darrell Taylor can’t set an edge to save his life. Boye Mafe has slowed down considerably the second half of this season. Derick Hall is also struggling to play his position properly (but he’s a rookie, so he gets a pass). So, when you talk defensive line as a whole, I think you have to give them a net-negative. They get sacks at a decent clip, but I would say overall pressure numbers are sub-par, and the run defense has actually gotten worse as the season has gone along.

Defensive coordinator might be our biggest weakness, so we’ll see where that goes this offseason.

That leaves the O-Line, which is middling at best. But, Abe Lucas has been banged up all year, and we’ve had a revolving door at most of our positions from week to week. So much so that we’ve had to emphasize getting the ball out incredibly quickly if we even WANT to have a passing game. Seems like that would be the time to try to pound the rock, but again, we’re not, because of Reasons.

All told, that adds up to a team – as I said in the title – that isn’t great at any one thing. They’re okay at some things, terrible at others, and that’s what adds up to an 8-8 record heading into the final week of the season. Which is why I’ve been saying – for however many weeks now – that I do NOT want these Seahawks in the playoffs. What good does it do to get in there and get your doors blown off in the first round? We did that last year; did it do anything to make the 2023 Seahawks even remotely better? Or, did it just give us worse draft positioning, while allowing us to delude ourselves into thinking we were closer to Super Bowl contention than we actually were?

The Seahawks only make significant changes when they fail to make the playoffs. Whenever we make the playoffs, we bring our coaching staff back, keep the majority of the veterans we’re able to keep, and try to fill in around the fringes with what little resources we have left over. We’ve never really committed to a true rebuild since the 2010 season, and it’s starting to feel like all those Mariners teams from 2004-2018. Close, but no cigar.

What’s this team going to do as a 7-seed? Probably go to Dallas and lose by double digits. We already couldn’t stop them once – the week after Thanksgiving – what makes you think we can stop them now, when our talent is actually more depleted thanks to injury? We tried our best to keep up offensively – putting up 35 in a losing effort – but literally everything had to go right for that to happen, and I’m not buying that we can do that a second time.

And even IF we somehow, miraculously, beat the Cowboys in Dallas (because, at their heart, they love to choke in the playoffs), what is our reward? Playing the 1-seed 49ers after a week off (and after playing no one of consequence in Week 18). Just the worst case scenario of all scenarios; we haven’t come CLOSE to beating them for the last two years now.

So, no, I don’t want to see us in the playoffs. I don’t even want to see us winning this week! I want us 8-9. I want that LOSERS label to be firmly stamped all over this team. Pete Carroll and John Schneider aren’t going anywhere. But, maybe with a losing record, they’ll stumble into the correct coaching and personnel moves to turn this thing around before we’re all old and gray.

Nobody Wants To Hear About My Fantasy Team 2023: If A Tree Falls In The Woods …

My season ended with a 147.85 to 143.05 victory over You Dropped Your Dildo in the 5 vs. 6 game of the fantasy playoffs. Sounds exciting, right? It’s less thrilling when you realize my opponent couldn’t have given two shits about this game. My hunch is, with the holidays and general fantasy apathy following a first round playoff exit, he didn’t check his team at all. As such, Ja’Marr Chase was left in his starting lineup, even though he was ruled out pretty early in the week. He could’ve easily subbed in Jonathan Taylor from his bench (moving his flex WR into the starting WR spot) for an additional 10.3 points.

So, I was essentially gifted this victory. Feels pretty hollow, but I’ll take it. As my prize, I get to draft 5th instead of 6th next year.

I’m kind of having a tough time grappling with my 147.85 points. Seems low when you consider I actually got good games out of both of my QBs (30.15 for Love, 26.2 for Fields). If I got that every week from those two guys next year, I’d take it in a heartbeat! I even got good games out of my two consistently-great skill guys in Lamb and Kyren Williams (25.2 and 16.4, respectively). But, the Jets only got me 12, Rashee Rice only got me 11.7, and everyone else – including my bench – got under 10. On the one hand, it’s nice to know my decision-making didn’t kill me once again; on the other hand, it sucks knowing that my team totally shit the bed, and if it weren’t for a guy taking the rest of the season off early, I would be drafting one spot worse.

I’ll also take solace in the fact that I would’ve lost this week anyway (had I won last week and advanced in the playoffs), as three of the top four remaining teams outscored me (and the fourth team wouldn’t have played me this week anyway, since he was another wild card team like me). So, blowing it last week was actually a good thing! I wouldn’t have advanced to the finals anyway, so this bought me a couple of extra spots in the draft.

Look, I’m just trying to cling to whatever silver lining I can find.

I should point out, for reference, that I dropped Bryce Young late last week. I was resolute in my decision to not keep him for next year, and as such, I decided holding onto Ty Chandler – in case the Vikings make him their everyday starter next year – was a little slice of upside, giving me yet another option for a potential dynasty RB. Who knows? Maybe this offseason he tears it up in the weight room and dominates the pre-season? It’s always good to have options.

So, of course, what happened this weekend? Bryce Young had the very best game of his professional career! He’ll be a stud in 2024, mark my words.

It’s not all doom and gloom, though. In one of my other leagues, I advanced to the Consolation Bracket Finals, and I hear this league is giving the winner of the Consolation Bracket the first overall draft pick next year. We’ll see, it’s my brother’s friend’s league, so I’m only half-conscious about the actual rules and regulations.

The real good news comes with my Splinter League. Last year, my team Puppy Monkey Baby defeated Vinegar Strokes for the league championship. This year? My team The Annexation Of Puerto Rico is going up against his wife, 50 Shades Of Gritty for the league championship.

I’ve had pretty great teams in this league the last two years. A LOT of luck goes into that, but for whatever reason, I’ve just been locked in during the draft. Neither season has seen me making too many roster changes. Why can’t I transfer this way of fantasy football ownership to my main league?

Anyway, here is my lineup for the championship:

  • Josh Allen (QB) vs. NE
  • Dak Prescott (QB) vs. Det
  • Amon-Ra St. Brown (WR) @ Dal
  • Puka Nacua (WR) @ NYG
  • Rachaad White (RB) vs. NO
  • Bijan Robinson (RB) @ Chi
  • Brandon Aiyuk (FLEX) @ Was
  • Jake Ferguson (FLEX) vs. Det
  • Kansas City (DEF) vs. Cin

It’s really the perfect league: no mandatory tight ends, no kickers, two flex spots, and five bench spots. On my bench, I have Tyler Allgeier (I’ve had both ATL running backs from the jump, which has been a nice little bit of peace of mind, as I so rarely get to enjoy such a pure handcuff situation), Ty Chandler (who didn’t look great last week, and may be looking at more of a timeshare situation with Mattison this weekend), Tee Higgins (who I am reluctant to start against my defense, especially since what are the odds he has three great weeks in a row after such an up-and-down season), Philly’s defense, and Matthew Stafford (who is playing some elite ball of late, but I’m not allowed to play three quarterbacks, and there’s no way I’m benching Josh Allen or Dak Prescott in the fantasy finals).

When I say I’ve been lucky this year, I’m mostly looking at the quarterbacks. I had the #2 overall draft pick in this league; Patrick Mahomes went #1, affording me the “consolation prize” of Allen (in this league, QB points are so high, it generally means that most top tier quarterbacks are gone by the first or second rounds). It’s a big shift from my drafting strategy LAST year, when I was picking near the bottom of the round, and waited until later in the draft to address my QB spots. I banked hard on a couple of bounce-back guys in Dak and Stafford, and both have come through like gangbusters.

I’ve also pretty much only rostered the three running backs I have all year (there was a spell where I had Kareem Hunt, when Atlanta was on BYE). White has been a revelation for me, but he wasn’t so great early in the season. For a few weeks there, I opted to roll with both Falcons RBs and just hoped they’d combine for something close to 20 points.

In this league, you live and die by your WR production. With two flex spots, if you’re not loading up on RBs, then you potentially need up to 4 WRs doing the most damage. I lucked into grabbing Nacua after week 1, but that was counter-balanced by Tee Higgins being largely hurt or underachieving. St. Brown and Aiyuk have been my rocks, but I’ll tell ya, I would be WAY more confident if I still had Tank Dell. Losing him has thrown my second flex spot into flux. I like Ferguson as a steady 10-point threat, and honestly I’m hoping that’s enough. High floor, low ceiling, can’t lose!

50 Shades of Gritty has lingered near the top of the league all year. This is a 4-team playoff, and all four of us were 10-5. I scored the most points, which gave me the 1-seed, and the easy 200.17 to 126.65 victory over my brother, Beer Thirty. I would’ve outscored both teams in the other playoff game, but it would’ve been much closer. Here is Gritty’s team:

  • Geno Smith (QB) vs. Pit
  • Derek Carr (QB) @ NO
  • CeeDee Lamb (WR) vs. Det
  • D.J. Moore (WR) vs. Atl
  • Jahmyr Gibbs (RB) @ Dal
  • D’Andre Swift (RB) vs. Ari
  • James Conner (FLEX) @ Phi
  • Michael Pittman Jr. (FLEX) vs. LV
  • Baltimore (DEF) vs. Mia

She’s got Godwin, JSN, and Addison on her bench, as well as Brian Robinson (up against the 49ers defense) and Tennessee’s defense (@ Hou). I don’t see how anyone could bench the Ravens’ defense given the way they’re playing, but Miami is always formidable.

Lamb scares me, of course. He’s been a true #1 receiver all year, and I have Dak as my quarterback, so they’re likely to match in points. I always refer to this as the wide receiver “taking” my quarterback’s points, since QBs are supposed to outscore all position players. My only hope is Ferguson getting all of Dak’s TD passes.

I don’t love her quarterbacks, but all of her running backs look amazing, and Pittman is an under-the-radar stud. I am very much going to have my hands full in this one.

The Seahawks Picked Up A Late, Ugly Win In Tennessee

As advertiesed, this game was kind of a slog. Also as advertised, this game was closer than it had any right to be.

The game was still 10-6 Titans with about 12 minutes left in the game, before a flurry of touchdowns resulted in a 20-17 outcome. I’ll be the first to admit, I had a lot going on Christmas Eve. At this point in my day, I was taking my step-daughter to meet with a friend, getting some coffee, and refilling some propane tanks. Then, it was time to clean my new outdoor propane griddle, followed by seasoning my new outdoor propane griddle. It was during this seasoning portion of my day where I was running in and out of the house to check in on the last couple drives. I distractedly saw the Titans methodically move the ball down for a go-ahead score, followed by the Seahawks very quickly (yet also somehow still methodically) moving the ball for the game-winning score. Condensed into this short window, you would’ve thought this was an exciting game! But, in total, it was wildly frustrating and more than a little boring.

Geno Smith returned from his injury and was fine. He looked pretty great in the fourth quarter, but for the first three the offense couldn’t seem to get much going. I’m sure part of that has to do with play-calling and offensive scheme, part of that has to do with Geno’s decision making, and part of that has to do with his protection. There were a number of times it was like no one was playing offensive tackle at all! It’s fine as rookies to have two guys under cheap, team-control. But, the more they play, the more they’re going to cost – even under the rookie contract structure – because they get raises based on playing time. If they’re still producing at the level they were as rookies – which was okay, but nothing compared to the best of the best – then that’s not really a value anymore. It’s just two underperforming tackles (who, not for nothing, are sandwiching three underperforming interior linemen).

As expected, the running game had a tough time getting anything going. Kenneth Walker did his best – with ample cutbacks and broken tackles – but could only muster 54 yards on 16 carries. There was a good mix of production out of Lockett and JSN, with D.K. finding the endzone, and Colby Parkinson bodying up his defender for a post-up game-winner. I will say that the Parkinson play was EXACTLY what we all envisioned when he was originally drafted. Only took four years to finally come to fruition.

I thought the defense looked just okay too. They didn’t allow Tannehill to get going, but then again, it’s Tannehill and he’s pretty washed up at this point. We did manage 6 sacks, and forcing them into 3 punts when they only had 6 possessions (not counting the two end-of-half drives resulting in no points) is actually pretty solid. But, behind Derrick Henry & Co., they also averaged 5.2 yards per carry (31 for 162), and it’s always annoying when we allow a running back to throw a TD pass.

Clearly, neither team had any interest in stepping on the gas in this game. There were 15 possessions total, 13 if you discount the end-of-half drives by the Titans that went nowhere. Get in, get out, hope to avoid injuries; that was the name of the game.

It was nice to see Boye Mafe get a couple sacks – after a pretty long stretch (it seemed like) without any – and for Bobby Wagner to add another to his ledger (with a couple of TFLs to boot). Dre’Mont Jones, Jarran Reed, and even ex-Titan Mario Edwards all had a sack to really pump up our numbers on the season. The Seahawks now have 45 on the year, which is good for a tie for sixth. Not too shabby.

This victory brings us to 8-7 on the season. Thanks to Minnesota’s loss to the Lions this weekend, we’re now the 7-seed in the NFC. There’s four 7-8 teams all with varying degrees of chances to overtake us if we drop one of the next two games. So far, the Vikings seem to have the best chance at that, sitting with a 6-4 conference record (the Seahawks are 6-5, with one game to go against the NFC down in Arizona in the final week of the season). The Packers are the other big threat to us; they have a 5-5 conference record and they face the Vikings this very week. Green Bay wraps up their season against the Bears, so if they were to win out and tie us in overall record, they’d leap over us (just as we did to them last year).

Based on Seattle’s level of talent, and the way we play the game of football, honestly nothing would surprise me. We could win out, we could go 1-1, we could lose both, or we could even tie one or two times! How insane would it be to finish 8-7-2? Not that insane at all, actually!

We all know how I feel about the Seahawks making the playoffs: I think it’s pointless and I think it will actively hurt us in the future (because the organization might believe – as they did last offseason – that we’re only a small tweak or two away from contending for a Super Bowl, and let another year go by without drafting a quarterback). But, if we proceed with the premise that the Seahawks are going to make it – because that’s just what they do – then there’s really only one viable option I want to see.

The 49ers just lost to the Ravens. That dropped them into a 3-way tie at 11-4 with the Eagles and Lions, but the 49ers have tiebreakers over both. That’s thanks to a head-to-head victory over the Eagles, and conference record over the Lions. The Seahawks are all but guaranteed to be the 7-seed; the only way we’d make the leap to 6 is if we overtake the Rams (who are also 8-7, but have won 5 of their last 6 games, as they appear to be one of the hottest teams in football outside of the city of Baltimore). And there’s no way we can take the 5-seed.

Worst-case scenario is: the 49ers fall to the 2-seed and whoop our asses in the wild card round (as they did last year). Second worst-case scenario is: the 49ers remain in the 1-seed, we beat whoever is the 2-seed (currently the Eagles), only to go into San Francisco and get demolished after they’ve had a week of rest.

So, what’s the best case scenario? Well, tbh, it’s either the 49ers fall to the 3-seed (which would require one loss by them, with the Eagles and Lions winning out) and we stay a 7-seed; or the 49ers fall to the 2-seed and we somehow get to the 6-seed.

In the first case, we would play the Lions in round 1, beat them, then go to Philly (who we have a pretty great track record against under Pete Carroll). In theory, if we win those two games, we’d go on to play the 49ers in the NFC Championship Game anyway. But, who knows? Maybe the Rams or the Cowboys knock them out of our way, and we have a much more winnable game in front of us.

In the second case, assuming a 6-seed Seahawks faces a 3-seed Lions, we’d have to hope that the 7-seed Rams take out the 2-seed 49ers. Then, the Rams would proceed to have to go to Philly (who would have the week’s rest), while we’d likely go to either Dallas or the winner of the NFC South (in case the Cowboys fall apart, as they’re known to do).

Neither seems very likely, even if you take out the parts where I’m assuming a Seahawks victory. Somehow, someway, you just know it’s going to end with the Seahawks losing to the 49ers in the first round. God football can be so stupid sometimes.

The Seahawks Got Their Improbable Victory Over The Eagles On Monday Night

I’m on the record as not necessarily wanting the Seahawks to win any more games. But, I was also on record as believing the Seahawks would win last night anyway, so I was more than a little tickled when Jaxon Smith-Njigba came down with that late TD with 28 seconds left in the game to go up 20-17. I was rather delighted when Julian Love came down with that game-clinching interception – his second of the game – to salt it away.

I will admit that it didn’t totally feel possible in the early going of that game. Once again, the Seahawks’ defense let an opponent march right down the field for an opening-drive touchdown. We gave up multiple easy third down conversions, and that’s not even counting all the times the Eagles easily Tush Pushed their way with a yard to go. There are two everlasting images I’ll have burned into my brain when it comes to the defense and this game: the behind-the-quarterback view of Hurts picking apart the middle of the field as Bobby Wagner stands there like a statue rather than follow the receiver in his vicinity, and Bobby Wagner jumping over the pile of bodies as Hurts converted multiple 3rd/4th & shorts, being swept away by his own momentum as if he were crowd-surfing at a rock concert.

Can you find the common thread in those two scenarios?

I’m not saying Bobby Wagner is the biggest problem with this team, or the only problem, but he is a problem. One of many.

I thought Hurts was pretty heroic in his effort last night, but I also thought he looked incredibly unwell. Even still, I don’t fully understand how the Eagles lost this game. I guess it just boils down to the two interceptions. The second one was a little understandable, given there wasn’t much time left and they needed to do something to get into field goal range. But, the first one was flat out uncalled for. First & 10 from Seattle’s 45 yard line, a deep ball to a receiver NOT named A.J. Brown or DeVonta Smith, and an underthrown one at that. That drive was easily going to end up being 3 points at a minimum. Instead, it ended up being the first turnover of a close game.

I’ll grant you that a more ticky-tack referee-ing crew might’ve called Love for a pass interference. I’m objectively of the opinion that it didn’t warrant a flag (but, I’m also a Seahawks fan, so can you really trust me?), but I also think it was a dumb decision in the first place. I know in the NFL, there’s this notion that you have to push the ball down the field and take chances deep. But, against a soft Seahawks defense that will give you ample opportunities underneath, if you just stick to the game plan that saw you take the opening drive 75 yards in 8 and a half minutes, you should have no trouble scoring a touchdown on every drive. Especially when you have the unstoppable weapon that is the Tush Push!

All that being said, what a cool game for Drew Lock. I came away mighty impressed with him, but also with a good amount of follow up questions. He finished 22/33 for 208 yards, 1 TD, and 0 INTs. He took 2 sacks that seemed pretty tough to avoid, try as he might. There were also a couple of out-routes that looked MIGHTY dangerous (to the point I was convinced a pick-six was in our future). I thought the plan to feature the run was crucial, and I found myself repeatedly annoyed when we went away from the run for no reason.

That doesn’t scream Franchise Quarterback to me. But, then you see this tweet about how he was 4/4 for 88 yards and a TD on 3rd & 10, and you can’t help but see the potential. That’s a great Eagles team, top 3 in the NFC and maybe top 5 in the entire NFL. We went into that final drive with under two minutes to go, one time out remaining, starting at our own 8 yard line, needing a touchdown (as we were down by 4). And Drew Lock orchestrated things beautifully, converting two of those aforementioned 3rd & 10’s. It was all on him; there wasn’t enough time to commit anything to the run, and he did it. With his arm.

But, then there are those other times in the game where Lock looks like any other backup. He had Tyler Lockett breaking away deep down field, but threw it too hard and on a line, not even giving him an opportunity to make a play on the ball (or draw a flag). Balls thrown into tight coverage, bouncing off of multiple arms before falling incomplete. Taking an intentional grounding penalty, looking a little flustered at times. Maybe that’s inexperience, and would get cleaned up with more consistent reps; or maybe that’s just who he is.

I was impressed by what I saw, but that’s in the context of having the absolute lowest expectations for Drew Lock. I still can’t say with any real certainty that he’s better than Geno Smith; I think Geno could’ve done the exact same things last night. Geno could’ve won us that game, for sure.

If I were to project what Drew Lock could potentially turn into, I keep coming back to someone like Ryan Tannehill. Put a great team around him, don’t force him to do too much, center things on a dominant running game, he could potentially put a team in the conference title game. But, a lot of things have to go right for that to work out, and even then, the ceiling isn’t super high.

It was cool to see Kenneth Walker bust out for 112 yards from scrimmage and a TD. D.K. Metcalf really came on late in the game after having a pretty quiet first half. And that catch by JSN at the end was a thing of beauty!

Defensively, Leonard Williams continues to be a beast in the middle. I loved what I saw from Michael Jackson – blowing up multiple wide receiver screens – and I thought Artie Burns had one of his best games. This made up for Devon Witherspoon being out injured, and Tariq Woolen being benched for large swaths of this game.

Of course, Julian Love was the superstar of this one, taking over for Jamal Adams (also out injured). My friend said it and I agree: we don’t win this game with Jamal Adams out there. We don’t win it with his stone hands dropping interceptions. In fact, he probably ends up giving up those reception yards, and the Eagles walk away in a blowout. That Adams injury sure seemed like a blessing, and I wouldn’t be totally against him being inactive for the rest of the year.

Shout out to Jason Myers for being perfect on the day, in really bad weather conditions. And a HUGE shout out to Michael Dickson, who was just nails punting the ball. He averaged 56 yards, with a long of only 59 on 5 punts. That’s consistent ass-kicking, when we absolutely needed to flip field position and force the Eagles into going long distances.

The win brings us to 7-7, and the 8th seed in the NFC, with three games to go. All of a sudden, the playoffs are not only a possibility, but I would argue very probable! Maybe if we ensure the 49ers are the #1 seed, we’ll have a chance to at least make it to the divisional round in an upset.

The Seahawks Were Pretty Great On Offense, Simply Atrocious On Defense

If you take a step back, that was actually a cool, entertaining Thursday Night Football game. If we had no rooting interest in the outcome, how can you beat a game with zero punts, nine touchdowns, and lots of great plays by really talented play-makers? Admittedly, I do like a little more competence out of the defenses I’m watching, but this was the perfect game for a Thursday. I don’t take these games seriously anyway, so why not have a lot of offensive fun?

I’ll admit, I didn’t have a lot emotionally riding on the Seahawks in this one. I picked against them in my weekly pick ’em game, I had plenty of Cowboys in fantasy (Dak in one league, CeeDee and Pollard in another), and I’m at the point of the season where I’d rather we just lose every game going forward. I don’t believe this is a Super Bowl contender, I don’t believe Geno Smith will ever be the answer at quarterback, and I need the Seahawks to go on a significant losing streak to close out the regular season, as that will be the only way Pete Carroll will be able to see that, objectively, I’m right.

That being said, I couldn’t help getting swept up in the action. The Seahawks were once again wearing their throwback jerseys, backs were against walls, and if ever there was hope of winning a game in this gauntlet stretch we’re in, this was it. The Cowboys are good, but flawed. They were ripe for the picking. They were at home – where they were 5-0 heading into this game – they were on a three-game winning streak where they’ve been absolutely dominating the opposition, and I’m sure they were somewhat looking ahead to their showdown with the Eagles next week. Especially if the Eagles lose to the 49ers this week, that game could put the Cowboys in the driver’s seat for the division.

The Seahawks needed this game more than the Cowboys, and they came out of the gates playing like it. Our third play of the game was a third down conversion to D.K. Metcalf that went 73 yards to the house. Right after he caught the ball, he was ten yards away from the nearest defender, yet he turned on the jets like they were right on his heels. That’s what this game meant to us. Going above and beyond.

D.K. was phenomenal in this game, catching 6 for 134 and 3 TDs. Jaxon Smith-Njigba had maybe his best game as a pro (7 for 62). Zach Charbonnet played his ass off before injuring his knee late in the game; he finished with 60 yards rushing and a TD, with 1 reception for 39 yards. More importantly, Geno Smith was on it in this one: 23/41 for 334 yards, 3 TDs, and 1 INT. With zero sacks to boot, against an extremely ferocious Dallas pass rush.

If we had managed to play this well on offense on Thanksgiving, maybe we would’ve stood a chance against the 49ers!

The problem with this one is that the defense brought nothing to the table. We forced them into a 4 & Out after the interception left them in Seahawks territory, but even that was a clear CeeDee Lamb drop that would’ve otherwise easily kept the drive going. Quite frankly, if it weren’t for a couple of drops (of admittedly tough catches), this game would’ve been a Dallas blowout!

Heading into this game, the Seahawks were 36-0 in the Pete Carroll era when they’ve scored 35 or more points. It should go without saying, but when you score 35 points in a football game, YOU SHOULD WIN THAT FOOTBALL GAME! I know a lot of people are going to point to the Seahawks’ performance on 4th down (0 for 3), in particular our final play of the game, and call for Shane Waldron’s head, but don’t let that distract you from this being an all-time bungled defensive showing.

If I had to nitpick the offense, I’d start with Charles Cross. He totally whiffed on our 4th & 1 play, when Charbonnet was running behind him only to get stuffed. He looked mediocre to bad all game; decidedly not worthy of an upper first round draft pick.

I couldn’t tell you what happened on the second fourth down play. There was immediate pressure, but I don’t remember who that was on. It’s unfortunate that Smith and Smith-Njigba weren’t on the same page. It looked like Geno threw it up to him, but he didn’t see the ball and didn’t seem to be aware that it might be coming his way. Had he had the proper awareness of the situation, he might’ve been on the lookout for a quick pass and adjusted his route accordingly. It certainly looked like a ball he could’ve gotten to, if his head was on a swivel. That’s a play Doug Baldwin in his prime makes 10 times out of 10.

But, it’s the final play, ye gods. Dallas rushed six. We let our offensive linemen single-block the first five, leaving Micah Parsons unblocked on the edge. DeeJay Dallas was in the backfield. He was in the game either because Zach Charbonnet was injured (and couldn’t have played anyway), or because it was a 2-minute offense and that’s DeeJay’s role. I have my doubts about the second part of that, because Charbonnet was in there at the end of the first half, so it would stand to reason he’d remain out there in this situation if he was capable of going.

Almost immediately after the game, we were bombarded with video noting how we intentionally left Parsons unblocked. You know, probably the best pure pass rusher in the game of football today? That guy? Yeah. DeeJay was supposed to peel off in the flat and be the number one read to convert the 4th & 2. Except, another defensive lineman forced his way into the backfield and DeeJay got caught up in the wash. Parsons was in Geno’s face almost instantly, and all he could do to avoid a sack was throw the ball at DeeJay’s feet. At that point – with the game clearly hinging on that one play – I don’t know why you don’t just heave the ball straight up into the air and hope for the best, but that’s neither here nor there.

What a crap play call against that defense! Do literally anything else! Max protect, align DeeJay on that side to try to block Parsons, throw a slant to D.K. Something! Not a play where Parsons can get to the quarterback in 0.2 seconds, because not even Tom Brady himself would’ve been able to convert it with that play call.

But, again, it was an otherwise good-to-great game from Shane Waldron, Geno Smith, and the rest of the offensive crew. 35 points is good enough. Except it wasn’t today, and that’s all on the defense.

I will say that it was tough watching some of the penalties in the secondary. There was A LOT of ticky-tack calls going on. And the call against Bobby Wagner was flat out fucking wrong. If I had one gripe about my overall enjoyment of this game, it was the flags. Let guys play. I’d rather they allow a little extra grabbing and hand-fighting than nothing at all. Or, what we actually got last night, which was three quarters of nothing at all, followed by it being pretty much a free-for-all in the fourth quarter. Which you had to know was coming, either by design, or because refs are gonna ref and let things go late in games.

As much as I love to shit on terrible referee performances, I can’t blame them for this one. The Seahawks’ defense was total ass. Devon Witherspoon, Jamal Adams, and Riq Woolen all had mediocre-to-terrible games. Bobby Wagner isn’t able to cover anyone in space unless they literally run right at him and stop; he’s a fucking statue out there. The pass rush did get to Dak for 4 sacks, but they seemed pretty quiet otherwise (and Darrell Taylor whiffed HARD on another potential sack, having Dak dead to rights before letting him go). The Cowboys were 8/14 on third down and 1/2 on fourth down; that’s all you need to know. They dominated in total plays (79-64) and therefore in time of possession (36:27 to 23:33).

Now we get a little extra rest before going on the road to get decimated by the 49ers again. So, enjoy this Seahawks-free weekend while you can!

The Seahawks Barely Beat The Commanders

What a strange game! The defense was nowhere to be seen on that first drive, then they settled down through the third quarter – limiting the Commanders to just two more field goals – and then they fell apart again in the fourth quarter.

The offense, meanwhile, scrabbled together three field goal drives in the first half – once again struggling in or near the red zone – only to pick it up a bit in the second half, and came up huge late in the game to eke out a 29-26 victory.

We looked at times both great and terrible in this game. In the end, talent won out, but I think what this game showed us more than anything is that the talent level of the Seahawks is much closer to the Commanders than it is to the 49ers or the truly elite teams in the NFC.

It was good to see the huge, crushing mistakes were eliminated in this one. I don’t think the Seahawks could’ve afforded any turnovers, and thankfully they managed to avoid them. Geno Smith had a good game, throwing for 369 yards and 2 TDs. D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett both had strong performances (7 for 98 and 8 for 92 and a TD, respectively). Kenneth Walker had some big plays (127 yards from scrimmage and a receiving TD), and Jaxon Smith-Njigba had a solid 4 for 53.

Defensively, the big story was Boye Mafe, with his seventh consecutive game with a sack. Leondard Williams had his first sack with the Seahawks. And the cornerbacks seemed to clamp down pretty good on the Commanders’ receivers. But, we also let their running backs run roughshod both on the ground and through the air, with lots of missed tackles/assignments.

It was critical for the Seahawks to limit pressure on Geno, and he ended up only taking one sack. This seemed to be his least-pressured game of the season, and his numbers looked pretty good accordingly.

Jason Myers came up huge, with five field goals, four from 40+, on a not-great weather weekend.

This brought the Seahawks back to 6-3 on the year, keeping pace with the 49ers. Now, we head to L.A. to take on the Rams in a rematch of that week 1 debacle. It’s hard to predict what that game is going to look like, without knowing the status of their key players.

The Rams are coming off of a BYE, and Matthew Stafford has been nursing a thumb injury. The Rams are, predictably, 3-6 on the year and look like they’re going nowhere. However, Stafford looks to be on track for his return this week, and as we all know, the Rams always play us tough, no matter how bad they are on paper.

I don’t think the Rams are any worse than the Commanders. That should, at the very least, give us pause. I don’t see any reason why this game shouldn’t be closer than the 30-13 drubbing we suffered at the start of the season, but I also see no reason why we would feel remotely confident. It’s really kind of a no-win situation. If we beat them, we were supposed to beat them; if we lose, then it’s going to be another miserable Sunday losing to the hated Rams in a game where we’re severely out-coached.

My official pick is somewhere in the realm of 27-24 Rams. I hope I’m wrong. But, I’ll also be on my honeymoon when it’s taking place, so if all goes according to plan, I won’t see one iota of this matchup.