Seahawks Death Week: Getting Defensive

Yesterday, I took a look at the positives, what went right in the 2015 season for the Seahawks.  It ended up sprawling out of control and only covered the offense, so I decided to split it up and talk about the defense today.

Part of me feels like I’ve been a little hard on the defense – a defense that finished tops in the league in fewest points allowed for the fourth straight year, a feat never accomplished in the Super Bowl Era of the NFL – but part of me also feels that it’s warranted.  The stars are plenty on that side of the ball, which is why it gets the lion’s share of the salary cap devoted to it.  Earl Thomas, Richard Sherman, Michael Bennett, and Bobby Wagner are among the best at their respective positions.  K.J. Wright, Cliff Avril, Brandon Mebane, Ahtyba Rubin, Bruce Irvin, Jeremy Lane, and Kam Chancellor are also pretty great and probably don’t get the type of recognition they deserve.  That is, literally, the entire starting base defense, 1-11; any team would be lucky to have even a few of those guys!  And here we are, with a murderer’s row of who’s who.

My response to the season this unit has had is more of a gut reaction, or an eyeball test, than anything I’m going to sit here and try to express with numbers.  I went into it a little bit on Monday, but I’ll say it again:  there were four games – including the loss to Carolina last week – where this defense gave up 30 points or more.  There were four such instances TOTAL (including playoffs) from 2012-2014.  So, that’s a little upsetting.  While the offense took a big leap forward in 2015, it wasn’t quite able to account for all of the defense’s shortcomings when we talk about some of these losses we had this season.  In most of those defeats where we blew the lead late, all it would have taken was a little extra clock-killing on offense to render those comebacks moot.  But, no dice.  Maybe, going forward, the offense will gain that killer instinct; instead of just trying to run out some clock, we’ll actively be trying to play add-on with the score late in some of these games.  I know it’s not necessarily in Pete Carroll’s nature, as a run-first guy, but we might have to adapt as the defense comes back down to Earth.

A lot of breakdowns in our pass defense as well, which used to be the belle of the ball.  Part of that was shored up with the combo of Jeremy Lane (returning from injury) and DeShawn Shead combining to take the place of Cary Williams, who was never all that impressive, but who I think also takes an unfair share of the burden for this team’s harrowing start to the season.  As you can see in some of these games towards the end of the season where breakdowns remained.  Not just against Carolina, but we can’t forget the Pittsburgh game, which was just a blitzkrieg of deep passes.  And I’ll never understand how we lost to the Rams a SECOND time, but there were a few critical lapses there as well.

I like a Seahawks defense that’s able to get by with a 4-man pass rush.  I like a Seahawks defense that prevents the big play from hurting us.  But, we gotta figure out what we’re doing on these intermediate-range plays, and we’ve GOT to fix whatever’s going on with our coverage on tight ends.  That Carolina playoff game wasn’t a microcosm of our season, Greg Olsen standing wide open at the line to gain as they convert yet another clock-wasting first down is a microcosm of our season.  We need to cut that shit out, but soon.

But, this post is meant to be more positive than negative, so let’s get to the 2015 accolades!

It’s been repeated ad nauseam, but it’s still remarkably cool:  4 straight years leading the league in fewest points allowed.  Unbelievable!  The Seahawks were also 2nd in fewest total yards allowed, 2nd in fewest passing yards allowed, and best in the league in fewest rushing yards allowed.  We managed all of this while being pretty middle-of-the-road when it comes to sacks, interceptions, and fumble recoveries.  As we all know, a lot of turnovers is luck-based.  Carolina and Arizona led the league in takeaways and, not surprisingly, they had the two best records in the NFL.  When you combine a lot of takeaways with an already-strong defense, amazing things tend to happen with your win/loss record.  The fact that the Seahawks could be so good in yards and points allowed, while being tied for 18th in takeaways, says a lot about the talent on that side of the ball.

So, maybe that’s it.  Maybe that explains my gut reaction to this defense.  Big plays – like sacks and turnovers – tend to stand out.  A high volume of big plays leaves a better impression on you.  In years past – especially in 2012 & 2013 – the Seahawks were dominating the league in getting turnovers.  The past couple years, not so much.  Which is obviously a reflection of the rest of the league going hyper conservative (for the most part) against the Seahawks, settling for quick, short throws in the passing game.  And, not for nothing, but when it’s so difficult to run on us, we’re probably seeing fewer rushing attempts.  Combine that with the increase in quick throws, and you’ve got fewer opportunities to force fumbles, either by strip-sacking the quarterback, or punching it out of a runner’s hands.

Is there a way to increase turnover production, without changing everything that you’ve ever been about on defense?  Or, is it all just blind, stinking luck, bound to turn around with no rhyme or reason?  That’ll be something interesting to look at for 2016.

Anyway, back to the kudos, gotta start with Michael Bennett.  10 more sacks this year to lead the team.  He now has 25.5 sacks over his 3-year Seahawks career, which is a pretty great clip.  He was more disruptive overall in 2015 than I think I’ve ever seen, with just getting pressure, stopping the run game, and all the rest.  Glad to have him on our side, hope he stays on our side, without any disgruntled contract issues this offseason.

Sticking with the line, Cliff Avril was second on the team with 9 sacks, giving him 22 sacks in his 3-year Seahawks career.  These guys are the best 1-2 punch we’ve had on this team since Jacob Green and Jeff Bryant.  Always love to have an awesome pass rush.

Earl Thomas led the defense with 5 more interceptions, giving him 21 in his 6-year career.  He’s got a ways to go to get up around the career leaders in NFL history, but he’s also got a ways to go in his own career.  Here’s to hoping he makes a big push in the next few years to move up the rankings.

Richard Sherman had the fewest interceptions of his career, with only 2, but I can vividly remember a handful of uncharacteristic drops that would’ve had him around his career norms.  Regardless of numbers, Sherm was his usual amazing self, locking down his side of the field, and sometimes even following the opposing team’s #1 all around the field.  It was exciting to see, and to be quite honest, I wouldn’t mind seeing more of it.  We’re just so lucky to have him on our team; I pinch myself every time I watch him play to make sure I’m not dreaming.

I think I might have the most sheer respect for K.J. Wright over anyone else on this team.  He’s only missed 4 regular season games in his career, he comes to work every day, is CONSTANTLY overshadowed by a bunch of guys on this defense, and yet he’s one of the smartest, most talented, and athletically gifted players on this team, who simply gets better each and every season.  I didn’t think he had a better season in him than his 2014, when he finally got over the hump of making 100 tackles, but his 2015 blew me out of the water.  He led the team in tackles for the second straight season, with 116, he was a force in stopping the run, and he played sideline to sideline, really strong coverage.  If he ever got beat down the field, I don’t remember it.  Just a consummate pro, without whom this defense’s effectiveness would be drastically reduced.

Bobby Wagner wasn’t far behind, with 114 tackles, in a very workmanlike season.  He posted a career low in sacks, with 0.5, and this is the second straight year he’s been held without an interception, which again probably accounts for my gut reaction to his having a “down” season.  I’m not sitting here watching hours of tape, so I can’t say for sure if it was down, but from a fan’s perspective, I hope for something more.  When I compare Wagner to anyone, it’s Lofa Tatupu, the best middle linebacker in Seahawks history, and when I think of Tatupu, I think of all the great interceptions early in his career.  Fair or unfair, when your defense by its nature forces other teams to throw lots of underneath routes, you hope to have more of a visible impact out of your middle linebacker when it comes to knocking passes down and picking passes off.

I’d like to throw out a combo shout-out to a few guys who are free agents in 2016:  Mebane, Rubin, Lane, Shead, Mike Morgan, and Bruce Irvin.  All of them except for Shead are unrestricted free agents (meaning they can sign with anyone, with no penalty to the team that signs them).  Shead, I believe, will just get a tender to sign, so we can count on him being back in the fold.  All of these guys had great seasons, with big impacts either on defense, special teams, or both.  Bruce Irvin probably has the biggest market for his services; it’ll be interesting to see how many teams are interested, how much they’re willing to spend, and how interested the Seahawks are in bringing him back (for the record, I’ll believe Irvin takes a discount to return to the Seahawks when I see it; everyone says that on the last day of the season; it’s emotional, you’re seeing your friends for the last time in a while, you say shit you don’t necessarily mean when you’re staring at a contract offer two months later).  Mebane is probably the guy I’d want to have back the most, for sentimental reasons alone.  But, he also proved he’s got a lot left in the tank after missing a lot of 2015 with injury.  I’ll also be interested in seeing what happens with Lane.  He was injured for most of 2015, but also kinda helped save our season with his return and insertion into the starting lineup.  Will that, and the reputation of the Seahawks churning out amazing cornerbacks, be enough to build up his value across the NFL?  Or, will teams be a little more gunshy after the disaster that was the Byron Maxwell deal in year 1 with Philly?

Honestly, I’d like to have all of those guys back, but this is a business, so it’s not likely going to happen.  Gotta work on that offensive line, which probably means dipping our toes into free agency, which means less money to go around on defensive free agents.  I’m also curious to see what happens with Mike Morgan.  He’s a special teams standout, he’s a capable fill-in guy on defense if/when guys go down with injury.  Does he have enough tape to prove to teams he’s a starting-calibre guy a la Malcolm Smith?  OR, might he be – to the Seahawks – a cheaper alternative to replace Bruce Irvin, if he maxes out his deal elsewhere?

Part of me thinks we’re only scratching the surface of Bruce Irvin’s potential, in spite of his being in the league for four years already.  But, the rest of me knows the danger in over-paying for all three linebackers on the same defense, as there’s only so much salary cap to go around.

Interesting times for this team.  2015 might be a transition year for the defense as well as the offense.  I’ll close with some thoughts on some of the younger guys.

Frank Clark flashed some of that great potential we all saw in the pre-season.  I think his rookie season was wildly successful!  More than anything, he stayed healthy.  That’s huge for a guy who’s obviously developing, both his skills and his body.  What’s he going to look like when he comes back for Training Camp, with a full offseason to work out and get comfortable with the NFL life (now that he’s no longer a rookie, with everything going a thousand miles a minute)?  He could truly be a beast in 2016, and a candidate to make a big jump in overall production.

Kelcie McCray was a real find for this team.  The Seahawks traded a 5th round pick to Kansas City to bring him in at the end of the pre-season, which appeared to be – at the time – something of a panic move, with Kam Chancellor’s hold-out dragging on into the regular season.  Without any time to gel with the defense, he wasn’t anything more than a depth guy (with credentials as a fantastic Special Teams player).  But, over the course of the season, he got comfortable with our scheme, and looked every bit the part in his time taking over for Kam, who missed some games with injury late in the season.  McCray is signed through 2016, which could be a good bargaining chip for this team, as we head into another offseason of uncertainty regarding Kam’s happiness with his contract.  It’s reasonable to assume Kam isn’t any happier with his deal than he was at this time last year.  But, you know, he didn’t have the greatest 2015 by any stretch of the imagination.  Perhaps the team opts to rid itself of the headache and looks to insert McCray into the starting lineup.  At the very least, the team has that move in its back pocket, should another holdout be on the horizon.

Finally, because I somehow managed to blow out this post more than yesterday’s, shout out to Cassius Marsh and Jordan Hill for making it to the end of the season relatively injury-free.  Marsh, as a rookie in 2014, was shut down REAL early in the season.  But, he came back quicker and stronger in 2015 and made it the whole season.  Granted, he’s still a role player, behind a couple of studs in Bennett and Avril, but you need those guys in your rotation to keep everyone fresh.  And, not for nothing, but Marsh might have been our best coverage guy on kickoffs; he seemed to always be around the ball making tackles inside the 20.  As for Hill, he’s yet to play a full season in his 3-year career, but he played out the last three games for the Seahawks, and will hopefully be able to use his offseason to get stronger as opposed to simply rehabbing another injury.  I look forward to both of these guys making a bigger impact next year, with Hill possibly even starting.

Is Dustin Ackley The Most Disappointing Draft Pick In Seattle Sports History?

Right off the bat, don’t talk to me about the Sounders, the Storm, or any other lesser sport I don’t care as much about.  This is a Seahawks/Sonics/Mariners discussion, so LAY OFF!

Also, we’re talking straight draft picks.  Believe me, I’m well aware of all the bad trades and free agent signings, as well as the draft picks we’ve traded away, but this is a look at the most disappointing players we’ve seen drafted in this city for those three professional franchises.  With that out of the way, let’s begin.

Dustin Ackley was taken with the #2 overall pick in the 2009 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft.  In 2008, the Seattle Mariners finished 61-101 for the right to pick #2 overall.  You may recall that, going into the final three games of the 2008 season, the Mariners were 58-101 and in line for the #1 overall pick.  The Washington Nationals, with three games to go, were 59-99.  So, what happened?  The Mariners swept the A’s and the Nationals got swept by the Phillies.  As such, the Nationals were graced with the #1 overall pick and the right to draft the hottest pitching prospect since Roger Clemens:  Stephen Strasburg.

You can say what you want about the injury-plagued start to Strasburg’s career, but you can’t deny he has elite stuff and you can’t deny he’s had three very good seasons from 2012-2014.  We don’t know where his career will take him – and obviously, with Mike Trout being selected by the Angels with the 25th overall pick, it’s not like he’s the best player in that draft – but one thing we do know is that he’s a HELLUVA lot better than Dustin Ackley will ever be.

We got screwed.  Dustin Ackley was supposed to be the clear best hitter and most Major League-ready player in that draft.  We were going to get an athletic guy who could play the outfield or various infield spots, and a mainstay in our lineup.  Your prototypical 2-hole hitter.  He was supposed to have a good eye, get on base at a fantastic clip, and even hit for a bit of power (mostly doubles, but the occasional homer), with just enough speed on the basepaths to keep everyone honest.

What we GOT was a guy with a poor eye at the plate, poor pitch selection, a noodle-arm, who rolls over on balls to the second or first baseman 80% of the time.  At a time (coming off of our attrocious 2008 season, continuing through our 2010 season where we were one of the worst offenses of all time), Ackley was supposed to breeze through the minors and give our lineup a boost.  Instead, he’s been spoken in the same breath as Justin Smoak and Jesus Montero WAY too often for comfort.

He sucks us in because he’s a #2-overall pick, and because he sometimes has these wonderful second halves to seasons that trick us into thinking he’s finally gotten everything figured out.  Then, he turns right back around the following spring and hits:

  • .200/.222/.341/.563, with 3 doubles, 3 homers, 7 RBI, and about 50,000 runners left on base in 30 games

This is his fifth year in the Major Leagues.  Here are his career numbers:  .243/.305/.365.  You have to wonder, if he doesn’t turn it around and I mean SOON, if this is his last chance with the Mariners.  I can’t imagine we go into 2016 with him as a starter, but I have to wonder if we go into 2016 with him even on the roster at all!

Does this make him the most disappointing draft pick in franchise history?  Well, let’s take a little look back.  Too soon to talk about Alex Jackson (2014) or D.J. Peterson (2013).  Mike Zunino was the 3rd overall pick in 2012; he’s been less than ideal at the plate.  But, he’s still probably too young (and at least hits for SOME power) to make a judgment.  Danny Hultzen was the 2nd overall pick in 2011 and has been severely injured for much of his career of late, so he has to be in the running, right?  Except, the thing is, he’s a pitcher, and the Mariners have been fairly flush with pitching in recent years since he was selected.  Hard to call him as much of a disappointment when we haven’t really needed to rely on him for anything.

Maybe we should take a look at what it means to be disappointing in a sports setting.  For starters, I feel like you have to be a first round pick.  These are the guys who – in theory – should be the closest to helping your team right away.  In baseball, you expect these guys to be on the fast track, to hit the Major Leagues in 2-4 years, depending on their development.  In football and basketball, depending on how deep your roster is, you expect these guys to contribute immediately, and in some instances even start for you immediately.  So, when they fail to live up to those reasonable expectations, they’re disappointments.  Obviously, the higher you draft them, the bigger the disappointments.

Going back, here are the rest of the Mariners’ top-10 draft picks through the years:

  • 2006 – Brandon Morrow (5)
  • 2005 – Jeff Clement (3)
  • 1995 – Jose Cruz Jr (3)
  • 1993 – Alex Rodriguez (1)
  • 1990 – Marc Newfield (6)
  • 1989 – Roger Salkeld (3)
  • 1987 – Ken Griffey Jr (1)
  • 1986 – Patrick Lennon (8)
  • 1985 – Mike Campbell (7)
  • 1984 – Bill Swift (2)
  • 1983 – Darrel Akerfelds (7)
  • 1981 – Mike Moore (1)
  • 1980 – Darnell Coles (6)
  • 1979 – Al Chambers (1)
  • 1978 – Tito Nanni (6)

Sure, Brandon Morrow was disappointing, but for a variety of reasons.  First and foremost, we should’ve taken UW’s Tim Lincecum instead.  Second, we kept dicking around with Morrow by starting off his career in the bullpen.  Third, we probably gave up on him and traded him away too soon (for Brandon League, who was an all-around disaster).  Ackley still has Morrow beat in the disappointment department.

Clement was disappointing, but I think we were all more disappointed in our front office moreso than the player.  That 2005 draft was FUCKING STACKED; 6 of the first 7 players selected have been All Stars (with Clement being the only dud), and 8 of the first 12 have played in an All Star Game.  Bill Bavasi at his finest!

Jose Cruz Jr was solid when he was a Mariner, then we traded him away for two shitty relievers, then he got really bad, and then he was gone.  Again, more disappointed in our front office for giving up on a quality prospect too soon.

A-Rod was disappointing because he was a greedy scumbag & soon-to-be cheater.  But, his level of play on the field was unmatched, so there’s no way I’m calling him a bigger disappointment than Ackley (also, yes, I would have taken the money and played for the Rangers, so eat me, he’s still a greedy fuck).

Anyone before A-Rod is out of my wheelhouse (aside from Griffey, of course, who was the single greatest draft pick in franchise history).  You can post your reasons in the comments as to why you think some of those old timers might be more disappointing than Dustin Ackley, but for now, I’m saying this with full confidence:  Dustin Ackley is the most disappointing draft pick in Mariners history.


Let’s jump right into the Seattle Seahawks.  Who is their most disappointing first round draft pick?  Again, I’ll run through all the top 10 picks (even though I think we all have a pretty good idea who this is going to end up being):

  • 2010 – Russell Okung (6)
  • 2009 – Aaron Curry (4)
  • 2001 – Koren Robinson (9)
  • 1997 – Shawn Springs (3)
  • 1997 – Walter Jones (6)
  • 1995 – Joey Galloway (8)
  • 1994 – Sam Adams (8)
  • 1993 – Rick Mirer (2)
  • 1992 – Ray Roberts (10)
  • 1990 – Cortez Kennedy (3)
  • 1983 – Curt Warner (3)
  • 1982 – Jeff Bryant (6)
  • 1981 – Kenny Easley (4)
  • 1980 – Jacob Green (10)
  • 1978 – Keith Simpson (9)
  • 1976 – Steve Niehaus (2)

Not gonna lie to you, I’m not up on my Steve Niehaus or Keith Simpson knowledge, but let’s just assume they’re not the most disappointing draft picks in Seahawks history.  Green, Easley, and Bryant were mainstays of a dominant defense in the 1980s, so count them out.  Curt Warner was only disappointing because we didn’t use that pick to try to trade up for John Elway (or trade back to take one of the other amazing quarterbacks in that class).  Curt Warner the player was dynamic when he was healthy.

Cortez and Walter Jones are probably tied for the very best draft picks in Seahawks history, as both are Hall of Famers.  Ray Roberts was a solid offensive lineman in his career (if not specifically his Seahawks career).  Sam Adams was a fringe Hall of Famer for the Ravens, but had a nice and long career elsewhere (including Seattle for a few productive seasons).  Joey Galloway and Shawn Springs were studs who had their best years away from the northwest (but, again, were no slouches in a Seahawks uniform).  Okung has been a steady starter at left tackle (and a fine Walter Jones replacement when healthy) since he was a rookie.

For me, the disappointments come down to Aaron Curry, Koren Robinson, and Rick Mirer.  But, before I talk about this trio of Top 10 turds, let’s take a look at some honorable mentions from a little lower in the first round.

Lawrence Jackson was taken 28th overall.  He was supposed to come in and breathe life into our tepid pass rush.  Instead, he joined our team in 2008 as the franchise bottomed out, let Mike Holmgren walk, and eventually ushered in the Era of Good Feelings that has been Pete Carroll and John Schneider.  Oh yeah, and Jackson stunk the whole while and it wasn’t long before Carroll traded him away for scraps.

In 2006, the Seahawks selected Kelly Jennings with the 31st overall pick.  Coming off of our first-ever Super Bowl appearance, we were in desperate need of shoring up our secondary.  Kelly Jennings was no help in this regard.  While it’s hard to expect super-greatness out of your 31st overall draft pick, he was still a member of this team – and a starter at that – for far too long, leading us to suffer a barrage of long bombs over his outstretched midget arms.

In 2002, the Seahawks selected Jerramy Stevens 28th overall.  That’s all I need to say about this wretch.

In the 1987 NFL Supplemental Draft, the Seahawks took Brian Bosworth with what amounts to a first round draft pick.  He was subsequently given the largest contract in franchise history, and rewarded us with lackluster and often embarrassing play.  He was a better action movie star than a football player, and that’s REALLY not saying much.

But, let’s get back to our Top 3 disappointments from before.  I’m scratching off Koren Robinson, for starters.  Yes, he had the talent to be elite – and pissed it all away with addiction – but one has to wonder if he was even the right fit for this type of offense to begin with.  And, while he wasn’t spectacular, he was far from dreadful.  I’m giving him a pass.

This boils down to Aaron Curry and Rick Mirer.  You may recall with Aaron Curry, we were coming off of our dreadful 2008 season.  With the 4th overall pick, people were screaming for the Seahawks to take a quarterback.  With Matthew Stafford already off the board, and Mark Sanchez sitting there, the Seahawks opted to do the prudent thing:  take the “safest pick in the draft”.  Aaron Curry was an outside linebacker and – depending on who you talked to – was some mix of Lawrence Taylor and Derrick Thomas.  We were going to pair him with Lofa Tatupu and Leroy Hill to have the best linebacking corps in the entire NFL.

Instead, he was slow to pick up the game mentally, slow to pick up the intricacies of his position, and just all-around slow on the field.  He did practically nothing for us, wound up being traded for a low-round draft pick, and was replaced on the field by a mid-round draft pick.  But, considering the Seahawks were bottoming out all over the roster, it’s hard to peg all of our troubles on Curry.  Even if he’d panned out as we’d hoped, he still would have been just a good player on a crappy team.

Rick Mirer, on the other hand, was supposed to save us.  In 1992, the Seahawks shared the worst record in the NFL with the New England Patriots at 2-14.  Thanks to our victory over those very same Patriots, they held the tie-breaker for the #1 overall pick.  As a result, they got to select the best quarterback of that class – Wazzu’s Drew Bledsoe – while we had to settle for Rick Mirer out of Notre Dame.

Mirer came out of the gate on fire, breaking many rookie quarterback records that would eventually be broken by Peyton Manning (the only time Rick Mirer should ever be mentioned in the same sentence as Peyton Manning, by the way).  He quickly either regressed or simply failed to develop, but either way, he SUUUUUUCKED thereafter.  Adding fuel to the fire of his disappointment, I recently was referred to this article (hat tip to Dave Krieg’s Strike Beard) that revealed there was an outside shot of the Seahawks getting Steve Young from the 49ers for the rights to allow the 49ers to draft Mirer to be Joe Montana’s heir apparent.  Isn’t THAT just the ultimate kick to the groin?  Doesn’t that make Rick Mirer the ultimate slam dunk most disappointing draft pick in Seahawks history?

I want to say yes, but RACING PAST THE PACK ON THE OUTSIDE, OUR DARK-HORSE CONTENDER:  1991’s 16th overall draft pick, Dan McGwire!

What’s the meaning of THIS?  Well, I’ll tell you:  the Seahawks brass was very high on the 6’8 towering suckferno, while Chuck Knox – easily our greatest head coach in franchise history to that point – wanted to select a little guy out of Southern Mississippi, the 6’2 Brett Favre.

Dan McGwire started all of five games with the Seahawks in four seasons.  Chuck Knox left the franchise after 1991, right before everything bottomed out in 1992.  As stated above, the Seahawks would use the #2 overall pick on yet another quarterback two years later, and the franchise overall would founder in mediocrity for a decade until Mike Holmgren turned things around.  All of this MAY have been avoided, if Chuck Knox had his way and we’d drafted a certain hall of famer who owns or owned just about every passing record in NFL history.

Most disappointing draft pick?  For all those reasons, I’m going with Dan McGwire by a nose over Rick Mirer (bottom line:  at least Mirer had ONE good season).


In an effort to prevent this post from going beyond the 5,000 word mark, I’m going to give the abbreviated version of the Sonics’ most disappointing draft pick:  it doesn’t compare to what the Seahawks and Mariners have stacked against them.  Purely for disappointment’s sake, it’s disappointing to see Scottie Pippen’s name as our #5 overall draft pick in 1987 (he would be traded to the Bulls and replaced by Olden Polynice, but again, this isn’t a post about trades), but at least Pippen’s departure eventually led to Shawn Kemp’s rise.

The fact of the matter is, the Sonics – for the most part, until the last decade or so – were a well-run and successful organization (crazy, I know).  Our first round draft picks were generally low in the round, if we had them at all.  The high ones tended to pan out (Payton, #2 overall; McKey, #9 overall; McDaniel, #4 overall).  And, since once again I’m not all that familiar with all the old-timers, I’m not even going to go there and you can hash it out in the comments.

In an effort to save time, let’s just say the most disappointing draft pick in Seattle Sonics history is Robert Swift (#12 overall in 2004, when we were in DESPERATE need of a big man; he would be the first of three consecutive first round draft pick duds – Petro & Sene to follow – that would ultimately cost this franchise dearly).  Now, let’s call it a day and everyone agree that Robert Swift is nowhere NEAR as disappointing as Dan McGwire or Dustin Ackley.


So, where do we land on all of this?  Is Dustin Ackley the most disappointing draft pick in Seattle sports history?

Welp, I’ve already discussed the cases for both he and Dan McGwire.  With Ackley, we’re still talking about an Incomplete.  We don’t know how his career is going to pan out, even if we have a pretty solid idea that he’s going to continue to be terrible.  With McGwire, we know how it panned out, and we know what we could’ve had with Favre.  McGwire FEELS like the more disappointing of the two, but before we give him the crown, we have to speculate on the ol’ butterfly effect.

Dan McGwire kept us from drafting Brett Favre (or, rather, the organization choosing to go with him over Knox’s preferred choice).  That’s the case, right in a nutshell.  So, we have to wonder:  how good could the Seahawks have been with Brett Favre at the helm?

Would Chuck Knox have stayed on past 1991?  Would the team have drafted appropriately around him?  It’s pretty safe to say that Brett Favre would’ve been great wherever he went, but how much of his career was molded by Mike Holmgren?  I wouldn’t call the Packers a bastion of a franchise when they traded for him, so it’s not like the team was great and then Favre appeared as the last piece of the puzzle.  He grew with that franchise to be one of the best in football.  Could that have rubbed off on the Seahawks?  Or, would our franchise bumbling have prevented Favre from being his very best?

I would argue that the Seahawks would’ve been rock solid throughout the 90s.  Much better than the string of .500 (or near-.500) records we were saddled with.  There was always talent on those 90s Seahawks teams, but we were ALWAYS missing out on the quarterback position.  Warren Moon had a couple good years, but that was at the tail end of his career, and he kept getting injured when we needed him most.  Every other quarterback we had in the 90s was terrible.

With Favre in Seattle, does Mike Holmgren become MIKE HOLMGREN in Green Bay?  Does he find another quarterback to mold and turn that franchise around?  I think it’s safe to say, Favre in Seattle means we never hire Holmgren later.  And, you have to wonder if we have the group in place that we have now.

Does Favre turn this franchise around before Ken Behring sells the team to Paul Allen?  Does he have a change of heart and decide to keep the Seahawks and keep them in Seattle?  Do we have what is now CenturyLink Field?  If Paul Allen isn’t the owner, we certainly don’t have our stadium in its current form; I’m sure it would look much different now.  And, I have to wonder if we have the Sounders either, for what it’s worth.

Ultimately, does Brett Favre lead the Seahawks to be world champions?  THAT, I’m not totally sure about.  It’s nice to think so, but you have to wonder how it happens.  How long does Chuck Knox stick around if we give him the quarterback he wants?  He was already getting up there in age by 1991; how many years does he stick around after that?  And, who becomes his replacement?  I would argue Tom Flores was the worst head coach we’ve ever had in Seahawks history; I don’t think he wins even with the mid-90s Cowboys.  Does he still replace Knox?  Do we grab someone else?

The point is:  there are SO MANY “what if’s” that go into the Brett Favre as a Seahawk scenario.  And, what I would argue is most important in all of this is:  if Brett Favre never leads us to a world championship (whether or not it’s his fault, or the fault of ownership, or just the players we saddled him with), then he is 100% not worth the trouble.  The way things actually happened – with the Seahawks winning it all in the 2013 season – made a lot of the previous suffering worth it.  That’s all that matters.

Now, if Brett Favre coming here means the Seahawks would’ve been a dynasty much earlier, then I think he is worth it and I think Dan McGwire wins the title of most disappointing draft pick.  Even if it means the team we have now (in this hypothetical universe) looks nothing like the team we have in our real, actual universe.

Ultimately, my gut tells me that even if the Seahawks had taken Brett Favre, and he’d turned into the franchise quarterback we waited SO LONG to get, I kinda doubt we ever would’ve won it all with him.  Too many variables.  We likely wouldn’t have had the type of hall of fame coaching staff that Holmgren assembled in Green Bay, and we likely wouldn’t have gotten the type of championship talent to put around Favre like they were able to do under Ron Wolf.  Let’s face it, for a lot of reasons, the Seahawks were just plain broken as a franchise in the 1990s.  It took all the tumult, the disaster of an owner, the mis-management of the general manager, the bumbling of the coaching staff, and the underperforming of the players to lead to Paul Allen, Mike Holmgren 2.0, Matt Hasselbeck and our success in the 2000s, the bottoming out in 2008 & 2009, and the foresight to bring in Pete Carroll and pairing him with John Schneider to finally turn this organization into a world-class sports franchise.

You COULD say that Dan McGwire was a big part in giving us all of this!  And, I must say, as a fan in my 30s, I’m certainly appreciating all of our good fortune MUCH more than I would have been as a fan in my teens in the 1990s.

Yes, Dustin Ackley is a disappointment.  Yes, there were truly great players taken after him (including the aforementioned Mike Trout).  And yes, he’s been a big part of all the sucking the Mariners have been a part of in his time in the Major Leagues.  He’s been given MANY more chances to start and play a huge part on this team, and he’s done JUST enough to keep earning those chances even though he’s never broken through to make good on all of his promise.  Dan McGwire, for as enraging as his selection was, was never much more than a longshot prospect.  His college career wasn’t some amazing slam dunk; we were picking him based on his size, his strong arm, and the fact that he “looked” like a starting quarterback.  These types of quarterbacks are selected in the first round every single year, and these types of quarterbacks end up falling well short of their potential every single year.

#2 overall Major League Baseball draft picks are supposed to be different.  At #2, you know you have the opportunity to draft that year’s very best pitcher or hitter.  In our case, we took the “best hitter”.  That guy isn’t supposed to continuously be as mediocre as Ackley has been.  Either he’s great, or he gets injured and we all sit around wondering “what if”.  Ackley has been nothing if not healthy, and he’s been sometimes intriguing, but most of all he’s been a complete failure.

The Mariners missed and missed big when they selected Dustin Ackley.  He not only prevented us from taking a better hitter, but he’s actively hurting us now with his sucking.  If he panned out – as the so-called best hitter in his class should have – we’d be looking at a monster lineup with him paired with Cano, Cruz, and Seager.  Instead, he’s one of our ever-growing cadre of black holes.  We can’t sit him, because we don’t have anyone better (depending on your opinion of Justin Ruggiano), we can’t trade him because we’ll get nothing in return, and we can’t cut him because – as I said before – we don’t have anyone better.  The bottom line in all of this is, while the Mariners are improving as a franchise, there are too many holes on this team for it to be a championship contender.  Dustin Ackley is a huge reason why there are as many holes as there are.  And, for that reason, I’m calling him our most disappointing draft pick in Seattle sports history.

Revising My All-Time Seahawks Greats

The last time I did something like this, we were in the middle of the offseason in 2011.  In all likelihood, I was looking for some way to fill space in the dreadful month of March when all the other local sports are effectively shut down and you can only say so much about Spring Training.

You may recall at the time that we were just coming off Pete Carroll’s first year with the team.  We made the playoffs at 7-9 and upset the reigning champion Saints in the Beastquake Game.  It was all very fun, but built on a house of cards.  The roster was aging, as leftovers from the Holmgren Era clung for dear life.  We drafted some promising rookies before the 2010 season – including Russell Okung, Earl Thomas, Golden Tate, Walter Thurmond, and Kam Chancellor – which may go down as the all-time greatest draft class in franchise history (and, indeed, probably ranks pretty high in NFL history as well).

To be fair, my list of the greatest Seahawks of all time was pretty solid for what it was.  But, it’s CLEARLY out of date now.  So, I thought I’d go back and compare what my list would be today vs. what it was nearly four full years ago.  Let’s go to town:


2011:  Matt Hasselbeck, Dave Krieg, Jim Zorn
2014:  Russell Wilson, Matt Hasselbeck, Dave Krieg

You’re going to see a pattern here as we go forward:  better players from the current era will be pushing down players from previous eras.  It’s difficult to compare someone like Wilson – who is working on his third year in the pros – against someone like Hasselbeck who played for us for so much longer.  But, in this case, I’m going to keep it nice and simple:  Russell Wilson led us to three playoff appearances, two division titles, two #1 seeds, and one Super Bowl title (pending what happens in this year’s playoffs).  Wilson is a winner, and he’s the guy who’s starting for me in my hypothetical Greatest Seahawks Team Of All Time.

Running Back

2011:  Shaun Alexander, Curt Warner, Ricky Watters
2014:  Marshawn Lynch, Shaun Alexander, Curt Warner

I opted to throw out the numbers here.  If I went strictly by numbers, Shaun Alexander would still be the clear starter for this team.  9,429 yards and 100 TDs with the Seahawks for Alexander against 5,930 yards and 54 TDs with the Seahawks for Lynch.  The numbers say it’s a no-brainer.  But, I’m going with my heart on this one, and my heart says BEASTMODE!

Wide Receiver

2011:  Steve Largent, Brian Blades, Bobby Engram, Darrell Jackson, Joey Galloway, Paul Skansi
2014:  Steve Largent, Brian Blades, Bobby Engram, Darrell Jackson, Joey Galloway, Golden Tate, Doug Baldwin

So, the thing is, it’s going to be VERY difficult to overtake the top three (and damn near impossible to overtake the top receiver on my list, because Largent is my favorite), what with how this offense is constructed and executed.  Furthermore, I realize Skansi was a reach, but I’m not sure I had a whole lot to work with.  Also, with Golden Tate playing for the Lions now, he’s obviously stuck where he is, with no chance for advancement unless he – by some miracle – returns to the Seahawks.  Doug Baldwin, on the other hand, if he sticks it out long term, could be a quick riser.  We’ll see where we are in another 3-4 years.  I could see someone like Baldwin topping out in the top 2 or 3.

Tight End

2011:  Itula Mili, John Carlson, Christian Fauria
2014:  Zach Miller, Itula Mili, John Carlson

The tight end position for the Seahawks throughout history is a vast wasteland of sadness.  Numbers might say that Jerramy Stevens deserves to be in the top 3, but numbers can suck my dick because Jerramy Stevens can suck my dick.  Zach Miller is a lynchpin for this offense who’s equal parts offensive lineman and soft-hands-pass-catcher.  He’s adorbs and I hope he gets well soon and sticks around another couple years.  I also hope someone like Luke Willson improves his catching ability, because I could see him being a fast riser here too.  It’s pretty sad that someone like Carlson is still hanging around on this list, what with how short his time was with us.


2011:  Mack Strong, John L. Williams
2014:  Mack Strong, John L. Williams

While the fullback position is going the way of the dodo bird, I still got love!  And, while I think the world of Michael Robinson as a leader, a special teams stalwart, and a powerful lead blocker for Beastmode in previous seasons (before being forced into retirement and a new career in the media), there’s just no way his impact surpassed what Mack Strong and John L. Williams were able to do.  And, not for nothing, but I think those two names are going to be 1 & 2 on this fullback list for the duration of my lifetime.

Offensive Line

2011:  Walter Jones, Steve Hutchinson, Robbie Tobeck, Bryan Millard, Howard Ballard
2014:  Walter Jones, Steve Hutchinson, Robbie Tobeck, Bryan Millard, Howard Ballard

So, the thing here is:  I’ve made a conscious decision to list a man for every spot along the line (as opposed to, say, listing the five best linemen regardless of where they played along the line).  That having been said, if I felt like cheating (or, if I had the power of some sort of god), I’d probably look to put Russell Okung in at right tackle (because, let’s face it, he nor anyone else will be supplanting hall of famer Walter Jones).  Max Unger is a curious omission, but quite frankly, he’s been too injured in his stint as this team’s starting center to get serious consideration.  An interesting case will be J.R. Sweezy.  If he sticks around and continues his trajectory of improvement, we could be looking at a switch at right guard.  But, for now, Sweezy’s a little too loose in pass protection to take over that spot.

Defensive End

2011:  Jacob Green, Michael Sinclair / Jeff Bryant, Phillip Daniels
2014:  Jacob Green, Michael Sinclair / Jeff Bryant, Michael Bennett

Chris Clemons gets an honorable mention here.  I’ve split these up by first and second team.  Green & Sinclair are the clear 1 & 2 in Seahawks history and will be for the foreseeable future.  Michael Bennett jumps up into the second team because he’s been a force since his return and can pretty much do it all.  I opted to put him in with the ends because, to be honest, there are too many good defensive tackles, which you will see shortly.

Defensive Tackle

2011:  Cortez Kennedy, Joe Nash / Rocky Bernard, Sam Adams, John Randle
2014:  Cortez Kennedy, Brandon Mebane / Joe Nash, Rocky Bernard

The only reason Mebane was left off of my 2011 list is because he hadn’t quite played long enough, and because there was a question about whether he’d be sticking around long term.  Luckily for us, Carroll & Schneider saw fit to extend him, which has been a boon to our line.  You get a great sense of his value with him out of the lineup, as there are many things we just can’t do without him.  It has taken a rotation of 3-4 guys to try to make up for Mebane’s absence, which is about as impressive as it gets.

Also, can you IMAGINE what a defensive line would look like with a healthy Mebane in at nose tackle and an in-his-prime Cortez playing right alongside him?  Partner those two up with literally any of the defensive ends I’ve listed above and you’re talking about a powerhouse line on par with some of the best in the history of the NFL!

And, for the record, I understand going with a 3-man second team in 2011 was a total cop out.  Glad Mebane is here on this list to clean up my mess.


2011:  Chad Brown, Lofa Tutupu, Rufus Porter
2014:  Chad Brown, Bobby Wagner, K.J. Wright

So, yeah.  In my hypothetical defense here, I’m sticking with just the lone middle linebacker, but I’ve opted to essentially interchange who plays at outside linebacker.  In other words, I haven’t differentiated between strongside and weakside.  K.J. Wright’s primary position is weakside, but I THINK that’s where Brown played as well.  What puts Wright ahead of most other linebackers in Seahawks history is his versatility.  He can play all three spots, he’s been a stud since he joined the team, and he was just extended long term.  For the record, if I was picking linebackers regardless of position, Lofa certainly makes this list.  But, Bobby Wagner is lethal and should be for many more years than Tatupu.


2011:  Dave Brown, Marcus Trufant, Shawn Springs
2014:  Richard Sherman, Dave Brown, Marcus Trufant

This one is kind of irritating.  Right off the bat, Richard Sherman is the greatest cornerback we’ve ever had, full stop.  Dave Brown is a Ring Of Honor member and a VERY good corner in his own right.  Before Sherm came along, it was Dave Brown and everyone else a distant second.  Now, if I’m going by any cornerback who has ever put on a Seahawks uniform, then I’m looking at either Brandon Browner or Byron Maxwell over Trufant in a heartbeat (gun to my head:  I probably pick Maxwell because he can play inside and outside corner spots).  BUT, Trufant had a Ring Of Honor career in his own right, and Maxwell will only have a year and change as a starter before he moves on to another team (as the Seahawks surely won’t be able to afford to extend him).  And, not for nothing, but Trufant in his prime was as good as any other corner, so I don’t feel SO bad putting him third on this list.  Nevertheless, if the Seahawks do somehow find a way to squeeze blood from a stone and extend Maxwell, I’m coming back to this page and revising it immediately!


2011:  Kenny Easley, Eugene Robinson
2014:  Earl Thomas, Kenny Easley, Kam Chancellor

If I’m being 100% honest, I’m probably not splitting up Earl & Kam if I’m starting up this team.  But, I know I’m not the only one who wonders just what it would look like if Earl played alongside Kenny in his prime.  SICK!

Special Teams

2011:  Norm Johnson (Kicker), Rick Tuten (Punter), Steve Broussard (KR), Nate Burleson (PR)
2014:  Steven Hauschka (Kicker), Jon Ryan (Punter), Leon Washington (KR), Nate Burlson (PR)

I hope I’m not totally jinxing things, but I’m taking Hauschka as my all-time kicker.  Jon Ryan is sort of a no-brainer (he is, after all, the MVP of our hearts).  Leon Washington, while short in his time with us, made a HUGE impact (plus, let’s face it, the Seahawks don’t have a long and storied history with kickoff returners; also, Percy Harvin can suck it).  And the challengers to Nate Burleson’s throne never quite did enough (in this case, Joey Galloway – who didn’t last long as a return man – and Golden Tate – who was awesome, but is no longer with us, and wasn’t quite as dynamic).

So, there you have it.  A blog post for Thursday.  Giddyup.

Marcus Trufant Retired

This is what it comes to when you desperately don’t want to write (or think) about the Seattle Mariners.

Marcus Trufant signed a 1-day contract with the Seahawks so he could retire with the team yesterday.  Seems appropriate.  He’s an important member of the local sports community and he deserves to have his day in the sun.

That’s not really what I find interesting about the whole thing, though.  It’s a nice story, but I’m more interested in his place in Seahawks history.  Specifically:  does he belong in the Ring of Honor?

Right now, there are 11 members of the Ring of Honor.  They are:

  1. Pete Gross
  2. Jim Zorn
  3. Dave Brown
  4. Steve Largent
  5. Jacob Green
  6. Dave Krieg
  7. Kenny Easley
  8. Curt Warner
  9. Chuck Knox
  10. Cortez Kennedy
  11. Walter Jones

The first nine were members of those great teams from the early-to-mid 80s.  They helped establish the history of the Seattle Seahawks.  The baseline for greatness, if you will.  Cortez represents all the teams from the 90s, as he was the shining beacon of hope on an otherwise pisspoor franchise.  Walter Jones represents the start of the second wave of great Seahawks teams after the turn of the century.

There will be more.  Off the top of my head, I’d say Mike Holmgren, Matt Hasselbeck, and Shaun Alexander are all locks to make the Ring of Honor, as they were the most important members (with Big Walt) of the aforementioned second wave that saw the Seahawks reach its first-ever Super Bowl.

And, if I’m allowed to look into my crystal ball, I’d say there are a number of awesome candidates in this current third wave of great Seahawks teams:  Pete Carroll, Russell Wilson, Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas, with an outside shot for Marshawn Lynch and Kam Chancellor.

This Ring of Honor’s getting crowded!  I’m sure that plays no small part in determining the outcome of players on the fringe.  Guys like Michael Sinclair, Joe Nash, Jeff Bryant, Brian Blades, Chris Warren, Eugene Robinson, John L. Williams, Brandon Mebane, and of course, Marcus Trufant.

The ultimate honor for a retired NFL player is the Hall of Fame.  You have to be a VERY special player to crack that barrier.  The Seahawks have three:  Largent, Kennedy, and Jones.  In looking ahead, I’d say Russell Wilson is on track (though, he’s going to need a couple more Super Bowl victories and a long sustained career of greatness), Richard Sherman is well on his way, and if Earl Thomas keeps going the way he’s going, he’ll likely get in as well.  Aside from those three, you might see Mike Holmgren make it, but it’s so hard for coaches to get in, and besides he really had his greater success with Green Bay anyway.

The next-level honor for a retired NFL player is his primary team’s Ring of Honor (or team hall of fame, or whatever).  That’s where you get to have your Hall of Famers, as well as the guys who may not have been good enough for that elite level, but still made a huge impact on that specific franchise.

There really should be a third-level honor, though.  Some sort of “Fan Favorite” type of honor where these guys like Marcus Trufant – and the other fringe guys listed above – get their due.

Marcus Trufant was a real professional.  In 2007, he made the Pro Bowl and the All Pro teams.  He’s currently fifth in franchise history in interceptions with 21 (one ahead of Richard Sherman, for the record).  He played 10 seasons in Seattle as a first round draft pick back in 2003.  He started immediately and was really one of our rocks in a secondary that was often torched (or, at the very least, not all that impressive).  He was an integral part of that second wave of great Seahawks teams, from 2003 through 2007 (five consecutive playoff appearances, four consecutive division titles, one Super Bowl appearance).

Marcus Trufant deserves … something!  He may not be Ring of Honor calibre, but he was a very good Seahawk and it’s been an honor to root him on for all those years.

Wilson High School Football Rules!

What If This Is It For The Seahawks’ Defensive Line?

I’m of the opinion that the most important aspect of a defense is its secondary.  If you would’ve asked me this five years ago, I would’ve given you a different answer, but after seeing what this secondary is capable of – after witnessing the football genius that is the Legion of Boom – I’m convinced that as long as you’ve got a top-notch secondary, you can fake it everywhere else and at least have a passable defensive effort.

Now, obviously, the secondary’s job is made a lot more difficult if you’re not getting pressure on the quarterback.  The two phases really do go hand in hand.  The quicker you’re able to make the quarterback throw the ball, the less time your corners and linebackers have to cover their receivers and tight ends.  Of course, on the flipside, the longer you’re able to hang with those receivers, the better chance your line has of eventually getting home.  And, of course, if you’re able to generate that pressure with only four guys (and if you’re able to keep the rushing attack at bay), that means you’ve got seven guys out covering the rest of the field (with, at best, five receivers to throw to).

If I had to choose one over the other – an elite secondary with a pedestrian line, or an elite line with a pedestrian secondary – I’m choosing the elite secondary every time.  That’s all there is to it.

In 2013, the Seahawks were blessed like they’ve never been blessed before.  This defense was the best we’ve ever seen in franchise history.  Better than 2005, better than 1984.  Better than most defenses in the history of the NFL!  The 2013 defense had the aforementioned Legion of Boom in all of its glory – a unit that will go down in history as probably the greatest secondary ever.  And, they also had a D-Line that did more than its share of the damage (saying nothing of our linebacking corps, which is as fast and underrated as it gets).

The Seahawks have been more or less blessed on the defensive line for as far back as I can remember.  Jacob Green, Joe Nash, and Jeff Bryant took care of business in the 80s.  Cortez Kennedy, Michael Sinclair, Rufus Porter, and a young Sam Adams held down the 90s.  Rocky Bernard and a bunch of hired guns – John Randle, Patrick Kerney for a season, and Grant Wistrom for a few games in his three years here – did the lion’s share of the work in the 2000’s.  But, by the time Holmgren’s tenure ended, there was a real deficiency in the D-Line.  A lot of those Holmgren teams were lucky to have one guy who could effectively get pressure on the quarterback.  By the time Pete Carroll took over, though, the cupboard was bare.  He immediately went out and traded for Chris Clemons to be our starting LEO defensive end (and primary pass rusher), and that’s who we had for a while.

Knowing the importance of an effective defensive line – and knowing that we already had the secondary on lockdown with L.O.B. – in the offseason prior to the 2013 season, the Seahawks went out and picked up Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril.  We’ve talked about it a million times, but it’s no less amazing how we got those guys at the prices we paid.  With Clemons coming off of an ACL tear in the playoffs the previous season, the pass rush was a real concern, and we needed as many guys as we could get.  Had the Seahawks JUST gotten one or the other of the Avril/Bennett duo, I think the fans would’ve been happy.  But, we managed to get both, and a whole new day in Seahawks football came to light.

Because in 2013, we had guys coming from everywhere.  Avril and Bennett, of course.  But, Chris Clemons also came back and played the bulk of the year.  Bruce Irvin was converted to a strong-side linebacker for another element.  Bobby Wagner didn’t rush a lot, but when he did he seemed to always wreak havoc.  Clinton McDonald was a revelation on the interior.  Tony McDaniel was another free agent signing who was a manimal at times.  Brandon Mebane and Red Bryant were their usual massive, immovable selves.  When you put them all together, I’m sorry to say, it’s probably the best defensive line rotation we’re ever going to see ’round these parts.  Every man had a role, and every man played his role to the hilt.  And, without a clear weak link, we were able to rotate guys constantly to keep them fresh not only during games, but throughout the season.  They were just as disruptive in Game 19 as they were in Game 1.  Simply amazing.

As all good things do, of course, this incarnation of the defensive line had to come to an end.  Red Bryant and Chris Clemons were let go for obvious cap-related reasons (and for not-so-obvious age-related reasons).  Clinton McDonald found more money elsewhere.  That’s two key pass rushers and three key guys against the run, playing for other teams.  In their places … we don’t know yet.  Michael Bennett is back long-term, and Tony McDaniel is back shorter-term.  But, there are still a couple openings to fill.

As has been the case in this free agency period, the Seahawks are seemingly tied to just about everyone.  I wouldn’t think the Seahawks are finished adding to this roster, but it’s pretty clear – with Jared Allen coming off the board – there aren’t a lot of major upgrade options out there on the free market.  I can’t imagine there’s a guy left who’s worthy of a major long-term extension.  You’ve got a couple of over-30 types in Will Smith (who missed all of 2013) and Shaun Phillips, and you’ve got Anthony Spencer, who’s never been all that great and ALSO missed most of 2013.  These guys can and should be had for a small fraction of what it would’ve taken to get Jared Allen (and for good reason, because they’re not as good, nor as reliably healthy).

So, maybe the Seahawks grab one (or more) of these guys, or maybe they get someone else we’ve never heard of.  OR, maybe they stand pat and look to draft some linemen.  Let’s just assume, for the sake of argument, that what you see is pretty much what you’re going to get in 2014.

Well, if that’s the case, I would direct you not to the 2013 Seahawks, but the 2012 Seahawks.  Remember that team?  The one without Avril and Bennett?  The one that was pretty much just Chris Clemons and Bruce Irvin (whenever he wasn’t getting lost in the shuffle for long stretches of season)?  That defense was built a lot like this hypothetical 2014 defense is shaping up to look like, and they did all right for themselves.  Number 1 in scoring defense, number 4 in total yards.  11-5 record overall and 30 seconds away from the NFC Championship Game and a possible Super Bowl appearance.  WITHOUT Bennett and Avril, that defense was pretty fucking good.

I would argue that, on paper, this 2014 defensive line as it sits right now is superior to the one in 2012 that did so well on its own.  And you KNOW we’re not actually done, but if we were, I don’t think there’s all that much to worry about.

When you look at that 2013 defensive line, you saw Clemons, Avril, and Bennett all working together to destroy opposing offensive lines.  Well, we lost Clemons, but the other two are still here.  I would argue that Clemons is due to start declining any time now (if he hasn’t already, considering his diminished output in 2013 as he recovered from ACL surgery).  I would also argue that, when we traded for Clemons, he was a relative unknown in the NFL.  When he came to Seattle and started playing within our system, THAT’S when he broke out as an 11-sack-a-year guy.  I don’t think that’s a coincidence.  I think the Seahawks saw in Clemons the type of guy who fit their LEO defensive end quite well.  That braintrust didn’t automatically start drinking Stupid Juice once they won the Super Bowl.  They can find another relative unknown to replace their last relative unknown and be just fine.  They haven’t done that yet because they thought they’d take some fliers out on guys like Jared Allen and Co.  Why not?  If you can get a proven stud for a fraction of his worth, why wouldn’t you at least try?  It didn’t work out this year, but that doesn’t mean we’re stuck.  It just means the guy we DO bring in will be far less heralded (yet, I’m sure, no less effective).

So, in conclusion, I want you to remember two things:  if this is it for the Seahawks’ defensive line, we’re still in very good shape.  But, since this is likely NOT it for the Seahawks’ defensive line, just remember who’s running the show.  The Seahawks will be fine in 2014.  The only thing that can stop us is a slew of injuries at key positions (and even then, you have to think the depth we’ve still got will be enough to carry us through).

The Greatest Seahawks First Round Draft Picks Of All Time

In honor of the Seattle Seahawks not having a draft pick last night, I decided to go through all the drafts and rank all the best Seahawks first rounders. 

I don’t want to shock you, but there are Hall of Famers on this list!  There are some Ring of Honor folks, there are some good players, there are some guys still playing, and there are busts.  A whole lotta busts.  And not-busts who are just sorta sub-par.  You get the idea.

I didn’t totally discredit what these players may have done once they left the team, but I weighted heavily their time in Seattle.  For the record, there are people I’ve never heard of on this list, as well as people I don’t remember very well (because who remembers offensive linemen from teams they followed when they were five?), so don’t expect the most thorough of analysis.  Just sit back and bask at how much you disagree with my order.

The Hall of Famers

1.  Walter Jones (1997, #6 overall)
2.  Cortez Kennedy (1990, #3 overall)

You know me (no, you don’t), I love me some Tez.  That guy was right behind Steve Largent for my Most Favorite Football Player Of All Time pretty much since he won Defensive Player of the Year back in the day 1992.  But, Walter Jones is Walter Jones.  Cortez Kennedy is a Hall of Famer, but Walter Jones might be the best who has ever played his position.  He’s a legend.  And if you don’t think he’s a legend, go look up some stories about his off-season training regimen.  How many guys do you know who go around pulling cars to get in football shape?

The Ring of Honor-ers

3.  Shaun Alexander (2000, #19 overall)
4.  Jacob Green (1980, #10 overall)
5.  Kenny Easley (1981, #4 overall)

Shaun Alexander is the best running back to ever put on a Seahawks uniform.  He was an MVP, he set the single-season touchdown record (until it was broken by LDT the very next year), and he led us to a Super Bowl.  THAT’S why he’s ranked ahead of the other two.  Jacob Green is the career sacks leader in team history.  And Kenny Easley is one of the greatest safeties in league history.  Had he not been injured, he would’ve been in the Hall of Fame.  Easily.

Next-Tier, Really Good Players

6.  Steve Hutchinson (2001, #17 overall)
7.  Marcus Trufant (2003, #11 overall)
8.  Jeff Bryant (1982, #6 overall)
9.  John L. Williams (1986, #15 overall)
10.  Curt Warner (1983, #3 overall)
11.  Joey Galloway (1995, #8 overall)
12.  Earl Thomas (2010, #14 overall)

I can’t imagine Hutch ever making the Ring of Honor, simply because he played elsewhere for longer than he played for Seattle.  Though, had Ruskell not fucked things up so royally, Hutch would’ve been on the inside track and probably would’ve landed at #3 on this list.  Good going, stupid.

People are kind of down on Marcus Trufant because he’s old and washed up, but you have to remember that for most of a decade he was a quality starter for this team.  Right out of college!  Remember all those shitty secondaries that were run out there by Ruskell?  Well, don’t lump Trufant into that group, because he was the only thing holding the back end of our defense together!

Jeff Bryant was another quality starter for our defensive line through most of the 80s.  He and Jacob Green really tormented opposing quarterbacks.  Bryant lands at 3rd all time in sacks.

We can argue John L. Williams and Curt Warner’s spots on this list until the cows come home.  Curt Warner had 6,705 rushing hards, good for third on the Seahawks career rushing list.  And that’s WITH all his injuries that drastically shortened his career!  I mean, let’s face it, Warner is in the Ring of Honor and Williams is not.  Do the Seahawks know more about this than I do?  Probably, but here’s my rationale for putting John L. ahead of Curt.  Yes, Mr. Warner is third all time rushing.  But, John L. is fourth, with 4,579 rushing yards.  And don’t forget, John L. Williams was one of those hybrid fullbacks who could run you the ball, could block for you, and who caught a lot of passes.  471 to be precise, for 4,151 yards (6th all time).  If we’re talking total yardage, then we’re talking John L. Williams – 8,730, Curt Warner – 8,172.  Advantage:  me.

Joey Galloway was a firecracker when he hit the scene in 1995.  He would’ve been a surefire Ring of Honor guy too had he been willing to play ball and not hold out on Holmgren.  We ended up trading him, and he ended up having a nice little career for himself.  Injuries prevented him from really breaking some records, but his longevity was impressive considering what he was forced to play through.

Earl Thomas is a curious choice to have so high on this list, considering he has only played three seasons.  But, I’m giving him a little extra juice because I fully expect him to be great.  Also, not for nothing, but you’ll see why he’s so high as we get to the rest of the names.

Good Guys With Better Careers After Leaving Seattle

13.  Pete Kendall (1996, #21 overall)
14.  Sam Adams (1994, #8 overall)
15.  Shawn Springs (1997, #3 overall)

Pete Kendall played his first five years in Seattle and played pretty well along our line.  He was never a Pro Bowl guy, but paired with Walter Jones, he really helped improve this team’s running game.  Then again, who knows?  Maybe Walter Jones just made him look better than he really was.  Either way, he went on to Arizona and seemed to improve.  I think his three years as a Cardinal were better than any he had as a Seahawk.  He would go on to finish his career with the Jets and Redskins, playing many more years as a non-Seahawk than a Seahawk.

To be honest, I remember Sam Adams having all the potential in the world when we drafted him.  I also remember him largely being a disappointment.  I wouldn’t call him that; I like the guy.  I’ve got one of his old practice jerseys signed by him; I think he’s great.  But, you can’t deny the fact that he really stepped his game up once he left Seattle and started playing for Baltimore.  He was a Pro Bowler both seasons he was in a Ravens uniform.  And, oh yeah, he helped them win a Super Bowl with one of the best defenses of all time.

Shawn Springs had a couple of good seasons with the Seahawks, but he wasn’t worthy of hanging on to for the duration of his career.  I seem to remember him having a bigger impact with the Redskins than with the Seahawks, even if the numbers don’t necessarily bare that out.

Linemen!  (Both offensive & defensive, so leave me alone)

16.  Tony Woods (1987, #18 overall)
17.  Russell Okung (2010, #6 overall)
18.  Steve August (1977, #14 overall)
19.  Andy Heck (1989, #15 overall)
20.  Ray Roberts (1992, #10 overall)

Right here, we’re talking about guys who were starters, who were fairly productive, but who were never superstars.  The exception might be Okung, who has a lot of room to climb this list as long as he stays healthy and keeps his production up.

Old Guys I Know Next-To-Nothing About

21.  Terry Taylor (1984, #22 overall)
22.  Keith Simpson (1978, #9 overall)
23.  Manu Tuiasosopo (1979, #18 overall)

I went and looked them up on Pro Football Reference and I STILL have no idea who these people are or what they did for the Seahawks.  I know what Manu did for the Huskies, he fathered one of the greatest Husky quarterbacks of all time.  Good for you!


24.  Anthony Simmons (1998, #15 overall)
25.  Koren Robinson (2001, #9 overall)
26.  Rick Mirer (1993, #2 overall)
27.  Chris Spencer (2005, #26 overall)
28.  Kelly Jennings (2006, #31 overall)
29.  Jerramy Stevens (2002, #28 overall)

These are players who flashed some potential, but ultimately didn’t live up to the hype.  I always remember liking Simmons, and lamenting he couldn’t stay on the field.  I also forgot that he was a first round pick.  We all know about Koren Robinson.  He’s the guy who drank and drugged his way out of the league, right?  I don’t really care enough to look it up to confirm; all I know is that he was supposed to be a stud receiver for us and he wasn’t.  Mirer was the pick just AFTER Drew Bledsoe, who was drafted by the Patriots (who were also 2-14 in 1992).  Why was he drafted by the Patriots?  Because the Seahawks BEAT the Patriots, thereby giving the tie-breaker for the #1 overall pick to New England.  Spencer was supposed to lock down the center position for us for a decade; he did not.  Jennings was a joke, but he started for us because this team was incapable of finding anyone better.  The less said about Jerramy Stevens the better (because I hate that guy).

Hopefully NOT A Bust

30.  Bruce Irvin (2012, #15 overall)

He had a fine rookie season with 8 sacks.  Is that the best we’re ever going to get from him?  Or, will he explode for double-digits pretty soon?  It could go either way and it wouldn’t surprise me.  He could be a fast-climber on this list too if he plays his cards right.

A Supplemental Bust

31.  Brian Bosworth (1987 Supplemental Draft, #28.5 overall)

This guy, QUITE the character.  If you have a few hours to spare, I’d recommend reading his biography.  If you like The Boz, then I’d recommend NOT watching that 30 for 30 featuring Bo Jackson.  Because The Boz looks like The Bitch.

Injury Plagued

32.  Steve Niehaus (1976, #2 overall)
33.  Marcus Tubbs (2004, #23 overall)
34.  James Carpenter (2011, #25 overall)

The Seahawks entered the league at the same time as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.  The Bucs received the #1 overall pick.  That, and a lot of weird happenstance, has resulted in the Seahawks never having the #1 overall pick.  Ever.  Steve Niehaus was the first player drafted in franchise history and he was largely injured for his brief career.  Tubbs was a force on the inside during our Super Bowl run.  But, he got injured and never recovered.  He played in 29 games over 3 seasons and was out of the league.  Carpenter is a 2-year vet and he has finished both of his first two seasons on the IR.  Not a good sign.  Here’s to 2013 being where he turns his career around.

The Huge Busts

35.  Lawrence Jackson (2008, #28 overall)
36.  Aaron Curry (2009, #4 overall)
37.  Lamar King (1999, #22 overall)
38.  Chris McIntosh (2000, #22 overall)

L0-Jack was a microcosm of the Tim Ruskell years.  His inability to draft quality players in the lower half of the first round doomed this team.  Many other teams are able to find starters in the second and/or third rounds.  It would stand to reason, then, that you SHOULD be able to find a starter with the 28th overall pick in the first round.  Think again.

Because of all the shitty drafting, the Seahawks found themselves the very next year with the #4 overall pick.  Aaron Curry was the “safest” pick on the board and we all looked at him to dominate for years to come.  He did nothing of the sort and ultimately got Ruskell’s ass fired.

Mike Holmgren’s first couple drafts resulted in a couple of terrible players.  Lamar King was just a bad pick any way you slice it.  McIntosh was supposed to be good, but he couldn’t stay healthy (and was soon replaced by Steve Hutchinson).  Put them together, and you wonder how the Seahawks ever turned their fortunes around under Holmgren.

The Very Worst First Round Draft Pick In Seahawks History

39.  Dan McGwire (1991, #16 overall)

This doesn’t need a whole lot of explanation.  Rest assured, it’s picks like this and Mirer two years later that doomed this franchise to the wilderness for the entirety of the 1990s.

All Time Seahawks Greats Part II

Again, for your information, I’m robbing this idea from  I thought a fan-voted poll was interesting and was curious how spot-on they were.  I also wanted to see if I could pick a Blue & Green Dream Second Team … but eventually lost interest in trying to find the NEXT five best offensive linemen.

Also, for your information, I’m getting all forthcoming stats and information from this site.  Right or wrong, LEROY JENKINS!

The fans certainly got our Devensive Ends correct.  Jacob Green had 97.5 official sacks (though, unofficially he had well over 100, since sacks weren’t an official stat until 1982).  Michael Sinclair is Number 2 on our list with 73.5 sacks.  Sinclair played for some tremendous defenses who racked up an ungodly amount of pressure on opposing quarterbacks.

After those two, if I were putting together a Second team, long-time Jacob Green teammate Jeff Bryant would be first on my list.  He had 63 sacks, good for #3 on the list.  After that, I’d have to bypass all the DTs and OLBs on our total sacks list.  I’d also bypass the HELL out of Patrick Kerney and probably go with Sinclair teammate Phillip Daniels.  He was here for a brief period (not NEARLY as brief and injury-plagued as Kerney), but he was a beast opposite Sinclair.  Mostly, he was a casualty of the salary cap; he got a better deal from the Chicago Bears and continued with a solid NFL career.

Defensive Tackle is probably our best overall position on the team.  Should-be Hall of Famer Cortez Kennedy (and reason why our defense changed from the 3-4 we had throughout the 80s to the 4-3 we’ve employed to this day) is paired up with longtime fan-favorite (and ultimate field goal blocking specialist) Joe Nash.  I can’t say ENOUGH good things about these two guys.  If Largent is my favorite all-time football player, then Cortez is my favorite all-time defensive player.  I’ve loved that guy since the moment he joined this team; cemented by his Defensive Player Of The Year Award in 1992 (the only bright spot in our very worst season as a franchise).  Tez ended up 4th on our all-time sacks list with 58, in SPITE of constant double and sometimes triple-teams!  If he played anywhere else, he’d be in the Hall of Fame by now.  Since he played for the Seahawks (and since we were so bad in that stretch from 1990 to 2000), he’s finding it a struggle.  The NFL should be ashamed if this class act doesn’t get in, that’s all I’m going to say about that.

Not for nothin’, but Joe Nash is 6th on our sacks list.  He played from 1982 thru 1996 and somewhere in that stretch he had the team record for consecutive games played (since broken by steady offensive lineman Chris Gray).

As for the Second Team, I couldn’t have more quality guys to choose from.  Don’t forget who drafted Sam Adams before he went on to glory in Baltimore.  Don’t forget John Randle made an immediate impact in his brief stint with the team.  Don’t forget about Rocky Bernard, who was absolutely INTEGRAL in our Super Bowl run!  And I know it’s early, but if Mebane re-signs, we’re likely to see him as well climb this ladder of elite DTs.  I know I have to choose two here, and I’m telling you right now, Rocky Bernard IS one of them!  That brings us to Adams and Randle.  I know we had Randle at the tail-end of his Hall of Fame career, but he was still playing at a very high level.  Then again, Sam Adams would REALLY be the stout, run-stuffing nose tackle type my Second Team would need.  Fuck, this is hard.  And, I’m not gonna lie to you, it’s kinda bullshit!  I mean, hell, what NFL team doesn’t have at LEAST a 3-man Defensive Tackle rotation?  I’ll keep Adams and Bernard in there on 1st down; then swap out Adams for Randle on 3rd down when we need QB pressure!  Done and done.

OK, so Linebacker is where things are getting a little hairy.  The Website picked 4 linebackers, I guess a nod to the 3-4 defense we used to play.  If I were going to pick just 3 linebackers, then I’d have to say the fans are right on with their choices of Lofa Tatupu, Chad Brown, and Rufus Porter.  Lofa’s a born leader and a destructive influence in the middle for other teams.  Rufus, remember, was a sack master coming off the edge for us.  And Chad Brown, surprise surprise, is our leading overall tackler at the position.*

* I should point out here that Pro Football Reference for some reason didn’t keep good track of tackle numbers.  For instance, the 4th linebacker fans chose – Fredd Young, who played with us from ’84 – ’87 – doesn’t have ANY tackles.  I find that hard to believe.

Look, I don’t remember much, if anything, of Fredd Young’s Seahawks career.  I remember his 1988 Topps football card, and I remember him going to the Indianapolis Colts that very same year.  Apparently, he was a Pro Bowler; I dunno.  He IS a name I recognize, which is more than I can say for the slim pickin’s I have for Second Team Linebacker.

Off the bat, my instincts tell me Terry Wooden is a guy I should have.  I remember him as a steady, non-flashy kind of guy who wouldn’t miss many tackles (indeed, he’s #5 on our all-time list).  On the other side, I guess we’d have to look at #6, Tony Woods.  He played fewer seasons, but managed to put up some decent numbers.  And, if I had to go MLB, I guess I’d look at Dave Wyman?  #14 on all-time tackles list, I guess he’s a warm body.  Honorable Mention to Julian Peterson, who was a casualty of a regime change and a first round draft pick.  If memory serves, he was just cut by the Lions, which has to be a slap to the face of a very good career.  But, I wasn’t all that broken up about his leaving in the first place; he did little to really WOW us here.  Few more sacks couldn’t have hurt.

As for the Cornerbacks, I have nothing to add here.  Marcus Trufant and Dave Brown are our starters, with Shawn Springs as a nickel back.  I won’t dignify this position with selecting a second team.

Same kinda goes for Safeties; how am I EVER going to get anywhere NEAR the quality of Strong Safety Kenny Easley and Free Safety Eugene Robinson?  I guess Robert Blackmon should probably get an honorable mention here, but I can’t even remember if he was a Safety or a Corner and I’m too lazy and indifferent to look online and confirm!

Rounding off our All Time Seahawks Team, we have the Special Teams.

Kicker – Norm Johnson, Punter – Rick Tuten, Kick-Off Returner Steve Broussard, Punt Returner Nate Burleson.

Can’t argue with ol’ Norm, so I’ll make my Second Team choice Josh Brown over Todd Peterson.  Brown was Mr. Automatic while he was here, and the only reason we despise him so much for going to a division rival is because he’s the best kicker in the division.

You know what’s cool about the Kicker position, though?  We’ve almost NEVER had a bad kicker in my lifetime.  We had Norm from ’82 thru ’90, then an all-NFL great John Kasay from ’91 thru ’94 (before he decided to play closer to home in Carolina), then Peterson from ’95 thru ’99, then just a bit of a down spell with Rian Lindell from 2000 thru ’02, then back with Josh Brown from ’03 thru ’07 and Olindo Mare’s prowess ever since.  All in all, a very strong position for us.

Rick Bootin’ Tuten is by FAR our best punter, during a period where all we DID was punt!  I’ll take the ageless wonder Jeff Feagles for my Second Team.

Indeed, Steve Broussard DID have the most kickoff return yards in franchise history, but I’m going another direction here altogether:  Leon Washington.  Yes yes, I know, how can I have a problem with John Carlson being the Top Tight End having been here only 3 seasons, while saying Leon is our best kickoff returner after just 1?  Well, I’ll tell ya!  Do you know what our franchise record was for most kickoff returns for a touchdown was before 2010?  1, a record tied by 8 other guys.  INCLUDING Mr. Broussard over his 165 returns in four seasons.  Leon had 3, all in one year!  And, among guys with 50 or more returns, Leon is tops in average yards per return with 25.6 (Broussard, meanwhile, averaged 2 yards fewer per return).

And yes, Nate has our record for most punt return yardage, but there are a couple guys I like more.  Charlie Rogers is #3 on our list, but he had a higher per-return average.  I think, though, if I’m picking MY Second Team, then I’m going with Joey Galloway.  He has our team record of 4 punt return touchdowns and was ALWAYS a huge threat to take it to the house.  Anyone who saw his return against Jacksonville will testify that Galloway was an absolute monster in the open field.

Overall, though, I think the fans did a good job on this list.  11 guys from the New Era of great Seahawks teams in the ’00s, 15 guys from the Golden Age of good Seahawks teams in the ’80s, and 3 guys from our underachieving ’90s teams.