The Seahawks Hired Mike Macdonald To Be The New Head Coach

Did the Seahawks just hire the best head coaching candidate available?

It’s interesting to go through the list of current NFL head coaches – in order of year hired – and see the different head coaching classes. When the Commanders finally get their asses in gear, 19 of the 32 head coaches will have been hired in 2022 or later. WELL over half of all head coaches have been in their current jobs for 2 seasons or less.

There are currently only three from the 2021 class: Dan Campbell (whose stock is as high as can be, in spite of some questionable decisions in the NFC Championship Game), Robert Saleh (who feels like he needs a HUGE 2024 with a healthy Aaron Rodgers and probably a deep playoff run if he still wants to be with the Jets in 2025), and Nick Sirianni (who took the Eagles to the Super Bowl in year two, only to almost get fired in year three).

The 2020 class has just two members: Mike McCarthy (in desperate need of a deep playoff run to save his job) and Kevin Stefanski (who probably earned Coach of the Year with the job he did with the Browns in 2023). There’s two left from 2019: Zac Taylor & Matt LaFleur (not going anywhere). No one from 2018. Pretty big three from 2017: Sean McDermott, Sean McVay, and Kyle Shanahan. Then, you have to go back to the Old Guard: 2013 – Andy Reid, 2008 – John Harbaugh, 2007 – Mike Tomlin.

So, what does that tell us? Unless there’s a VERY big surprise looming, there are currently seven members of the 2024 class of new head coaches: Raheem Morris (Atlanta), Dave Canales (Carolina), Jim Harbaugh (Chargers), Jerod Mayo (New England), Brian Callahan (Tennessee), Mike Macdonald (Seahawks), and whoever the Commanders hire. What the above tells us is that in three years, over half of these guys aren’t going to hit.

How to predict where it’s going to work and where it isn’t is kind of a fool’s errand. Canales seems like a longshot to be good. He’s going to the least stable franchise of the bunch (with a crazy owner, a legitimately bad team, and no first round draft pick this year), he’s coming off of only a year as a coordinator, and he just has the feel of a guy who took a job nobody else wanted (I wonder if the same will be said for whoever Washington hires). I’m always leery of the Head Coach In Waiting, ever since it went so poorly with Jim Mora Jr. in Seattle. Seems like Mayo has a huge job ahead of him to right the ship in New England. And I’ll be honest, I had no idea the Titans hired Callahan – or even who Callahan was – until I looked him up and realized he was the OC for Cincinnati. Oh, you mean the offense with the best quarterback we’ve seen since Patrick Mahomes, with one of the most talented and elite wide receivers in the game? Seems hard to NOT have success in that job.

After Raheem Morris’ initial stint as one of the worst active head coaches in the NFL from 2009-2011, I’ll admit he wasn’t on my short list of favorite candidates. Didn’t Bill Simmons coin the phrase WARM (Wins Above Raheem Morris) as a play on baseball’s WAR stat? I’m sure he’s come a long way in the intervening years, but he joins a Falcons team with no quarterback, and no real great shot at drafting one of the top three. If we’re just going by which team – who hired a new coach this offseason – is set up the best from a personnel perspective, then I would say Jim Harbaugh has the best chance to succeed. If the Chargers can’t find a way to win with Justin Herbert and a competent head coach, then they’re more cursed than I realized.

So, unless one of these guys really surprises me, I think Mike Macdonald has a real chance to be great. He’s joining a really solid franchise in the Seahawks, with a lot of good, young, talented players. He’s got a strong GM who should continue to draft well and sign the right guys, now that he’s the head man in charge. And, just based on what I’ve heard about him, it really seems like he has a special aura about him. Very intelligent, very gifted (at least at running a defense), players love him, and he becomes the youngest head coach in the NFL at the moment (if you’re that young and rising through the ranks this fast, you must be doing something right).

Obviously, there are two ways to go with hiring an NFL head coach: bring in a retread, or find someone new from among the college or coordinator ranks. By my calculations, there are currently eight head coaches with previous head coaching experience. Admittedly, that’s sort of an educated guess; I didn’t go through every single bio. Best-case scenario of those guys? Andy Reid, and he obviously gets to enjoy the talents of Mahomes after a successful run in Philly. While there are occasional hits (Pete Carroll obviously being one of them), the retreads never seem to work out too well. For every Bill Belichick, there’s dozens of Mike McCarthys and Dennis Allens. Oddly enough, Bill Belichick was one of the guys available in this go-around, but clearly John Schneider wasn’t ready to hand over the keys to personnel after he just got them handed to himself.

If I had to go with a retread, I would’ve been happy with Mike Vrabel, but I’ll admit I’m pretty thrilled we’re going with someone new and young. I know there’s lots of new, young guys hired every year, but if you find that dynamic someone, it can really be a boost for your franchise for years to come. I find it incredibly heartening that Mike Macdonald is being described as the defensive version of Sean McVay. And not just as a play caller or a schemer, but as someone who can transition into the head coaching job, find the right coaches to put around him, and has the vision to make it all work. On top of which, you know he’s hungry and you know he’s going to give it everything he’s got. Can you say the same thing about Sean Payton or Doug Pederson?

In 2022, in his first year as the Ravens’ DC, they were 3rd in fewest points scored and rushing yards allowed (10th in total yards allowed), as well as tied for fifth in sacks. In 2023, the defense improved to 1st in points allowed, 1st in sacks, and 1st in lowest passer rating allowed, all the while improving to 6th in total yards allowed. And that’s with blitzing less than all but seven teams, according to this article. The more I read about him and hear about him, the more impressed I am!

But, you know, as with any head coach, there are so many variables at play. So many other decisions left to make. Who will be his assistant coaches? What are we doing with Geno Smith? What are we doing in the draft? How long until the team is sold? How solid is John Schneider’s job in the organization?

I’ll tell you what, though, this hire gives me a lot of hope! It’ll ultimately be decided on the football field, likely over the next 2-3 seasons. But, I think we’ve set ourselves up very well to succeed the greatest head coach in franchise history and a legitimate hall of fame candidate. I can’t wait to see what these new Seahawks look like. If nothing else, I’m expecting a rapid turnaround of the defense. And, as we all know, that’s when the Seahawks are always at their best.

The Seahawks Are One Of The Last Two Teams To Hire A Head Coach

There’s sort of a nebulous beginning to this blog. I’m the kind of guy who would very much be someone to celebrate the “birthday” of a blog he’s poured so many hours of his life into, but I couldn’t for the life of me figure out what that date actually is. If you go backwards to the very first post on Seattle Sports Hell, you’ll see something dated 1/11/2010, but I know for a fact that that particular post was ripped from a previous blog I kept (on LiveJournal of all places). At some point that year, I decided to write a little bit about sports most every day, until the journal got too bogged down in sports content. So, I started a new blog – on WordPress – where this blog in its infancy got its start in August of 2010. At some point not long after that, a friend of mine savvy in the art of website creation talked me into just getting my own URL and running it through WordPress’ dashboard. That old WordPress blog is no longer around, so I can’t pinpoint when the changeover happened. But, let’s just say it was sometime in late August of 2010 (after the 22nd, before the 28th) and call it a day.

This is all a long-winded way of saying: in all the time I’ve had this blog, I’ve never had a Seahawks head coaching hire to write about. Thankfully, I threw up a post on my old LiveJournal, upon the Seahawks hiring Pete Carroll, with this little nugget written near the end:

Is it the right move? Who the fuck knows? Who the fuck EVER knows what the right move is? So much of this damned crapshoot is devoted to luck, it’s pathetic. Draft picks panning out, free agents living up to the money they make before they fall apart due to aging and indifference, avoiding too many costly injuries, fumbles bouncing your way, referees not shitting themselves on the field. X’s and O’s rarely decide the outcome. You’ve got to hit on all those intangibles first before you’ve even got a chance.

from the post entitled: A Team You Hate To Love

I would say, if I’m being perfectly honest, my opinion hasn’t changed much in the last 14 years.

My general assessment at the time is that the Seahawks went after a big name head coach to try to prevent too many fans from giving up their season tickets. It’s funny how little I’ve thought about season tickets in the subsequent 14 years. I did find it funny to be complaining about two down years (2008 and 2009, when we won a combined 9 games) after being so “accustomed to winning” in the Mike Holmgren regime.

My other big point in that post was that Jim Mora Jr. wasn’t working, and he wasn’t going to be the guy to turn things around. As much as it felt shitty to give the guy only one season (with a depleted roster to boot), we all still knew it was time for a change.

And today, as shitty as it is to move on from the greatest head coach in franchise history, we all knew it was time. The hard thing had to be done, in hopes that we can turn this franchise around sooner rather than later.

Other than what’s written in that post, though, I don’t really remember a whole lot about the 2010 coaching search, other than the utter shock that Pete Carroll was the choice. I completely forgot, for instance, that Mora was fired on January 8, 2010, and it was reported the same day that Carroll was the hire. How we managed to get around the Rooney Rule is beyond me, but that’s neither here nor there. I seem to recall there was a quickie sham interview set around that time, though initial outrage was quickly and quietly forgotten (interesting info in this article).

It’s hard to say exactly who the Seahawks have interviewed. We know they saw Ejiro Evero (Panthers DC), Patrick Graham (Raiders DC), Mike Kafka (Giants OC), Raheem Morris (Rams DC, current Falcons HC), and Dan Quinn (Cowboys DC). I’ve also seen Frank Smith (Dolphins OC), Ben Johnson (Lions OC), and Bobby Slowik (Texans OC) listed, with Mike Macdonald (Ravens DC) apparently set to meet with the Seahawks this week for the first time (now that the Ravens have been eliminated). And, various people have alluded to there being interest in Mike Vrabel, though no confirmed meetings have leaked to the press.

I see three people of color in that list (to my knowledge), so it appears we’re doing a better job of adhering to the Rooney Rule. And only one of our interview candidates, so far, has been hired as a head coach (Morris), which means unless the Commanders (the only other open job at the moment) snipe one of them, we’ll have our pick of the litter.

Am I particularly excited about any of these guys? Well, I was interested in Vrabel, but that seems to be a lost cause. I thought Hawk Blogger made an intriguing case for Dan Quinn, enough to at least change my mind to the point where I wouldn’t be crushingly disappointed if we did, in fact, hire him (the best argument is Quinn’s elite-level staff he hired when he was with the Falcons).

While I acknowledge that the head coach position in the NFL is important for setting a culture, I’ll be honest: I’m more invested in who we end up hiring to be our offensive and defensive coordinators. I feel like those guys will have more impact game to game, than the head coach. Considering how late we are in the process, there are upsides and downsides. The upside has to do with getting a chance to hire coaches from deep in their respective playoff runs. The downside, though, has to do with filling out the rest of the coaching staff. How many quality guys are available to be coordinators?

Which makes me think that Quinn or Vrabel probably won’t be the pick. If we were going to go with them, it seems like you’d want to snap them up early, and let them fill out their coaching staff before everyone else. If you go with a Mike Macdonald or a Ben Johnson, then you’ve already got a readymade playcaller for one side of the ball or the other. Half the job of picking your coordinators is already done! Oh sure, you still have to bring in someone and give them the title of coordinator; but, I’m guessing, if you hire a Ben Johnson, you’re hiring him to be the head coach and also call plays for your offense.

It doesn’t seem like the Seahawks are interested in anyone on the Chiefs or 49ers, so I’d be shocked if we don’t hire a head coach at some point this week. They’re scrambling to do their final interviews today and tomorrow, then they’ll probably deliberate for a day or two, with the likely hire happening on Thursday or Friday. So, it shouldn’t be long now.

Am I excited? I dunno, not really. I’m sure I will be when the guy is announced (unless it’s the OC from the Giants; what the fuck is he doing on that list?!). I’m more invested in what the Seahawks are going to do with some of the veteran players. But, I will say that if I had to choose, I’d go after the Ravens’ DC. That guy seems like he’s really on the ball. Whatever we can do to prop up this Seahawks defense, is the right decision in my book. Let’s get that right, and worry about the offense later.

Seahawks Death Week: What Would Make Me Happy As A Fan?

There’s so much going on right now, I really can’t be bothered to keep up. How many interview requests have the Seahawks put in for, like a dozen? Any one of these guys could be amazing, and any one of these guys could be a total disaster. I’ll admit, between the Mariners, Huskies, and Seahawks, my confidence level is pretty much bottomed out at this point. So, I’m going to be inclined – pretty much throughout this entire offseason – to come at this from a pessimistic standpoint. The Mariners were already incredibly bad offensively for too much of 2023 to be successful, and the notion that a second hitting coach is going to be the thing to turn everyone around is asinine to say the least. The Huskies are in a very toxic place right now – that place being the college football landscape at large – and the notion that we’re going to turn around our fortunes by going heavy into recruiting sounds like a fairy tale.

I would say, for the Seahawks, it’s funny that the number one objective in John Schneider’s head coaching search is to maintain our positive culture, because right now that’s the ONLY thing we have going for us. We’re not in a great spot with our roster the way it is – bereft of elite-level talent on both sides of the line of scrimmage – we’re not in a great spot with our salary cap – with lots of aging/useless veterans commanding high salaries and just-as-high dead cap hits – and we’re not even all that well off with our draft capital – having given away our second rounder for half a year of Leonard Williams, and only acquiring an extra third rounder from Denver (with no compensatory picks for the fourth year in a row). They don’t give away Lombardi Trophies for “best culture”. And, if you don’t win, it’s amazing how quickly that culture can dissolve.

The one thing that does make me happy is having John Schneider at the helm, making all the important decisions. It’s impossible to ever know how much influence Pete Carroll had over personnel. My guess is, not a lot when it came to the draft, and probably too much when it came to veteran trades and free agency. Even then, I wonder about what we were told at Schneider’s original hiring – or at least what we assumed, coming from his Green Bay background – and what we’ve actually seen come to fruition here in Seattle: namely, that we would be drafting a quarterback nearly every year, even if we didn’t necessarily need one. Why have the Packers been so successful in carrying over from Brett Favre to Aaron Rodgers to now Jordan Love? Because they don’t miss an opportunity to take a chance at finding their Quarterback of the Future. It’s something the Seahawks let go straight to hell throughout the Russell Wilson era, and I believe it’s still setting us back to this very day.

So, that would also make me happy: having John Schneider in charge, and getting back to John Schneider-esque decisions. I believe we’ve had a couple of high-quality drafts the last two years. I also believe that the 2023 Seahawks underachieved based on the talent they have. If we can manage to keep the good drafts flowing, and marry that with a coaching staff that can get the most out of our younger guys, then I think there’s potential for a quick turnaround. Let’s eliminate some of these panic trades for aging vets, let’s dole out smart contracts to the right guys, let’s get rid of aging players a year too early vs. a year too late, and let’s trust in our ability to coach up young players immediately, to better take advantage of their inexpensive cost to our salary cap while they’re on rookie deals.

I couldn’t tell you who would make me happy to bring in as a head coach. I think Dan Quinn is probably the likeliest guy, and I also think he’s the least exciting candidate. I think Jim Harbaugh is the most intriguing, but I also don’t believe he will go anywhere if he doesn’t have full control over every part of the team, so that kinda rules him out. Of all the coordinators getting interviews, I think Ben Johnson is probably the most thrilling, but he’s also among the least-experienced names being bandied about, having just two years of OC experience with Detroit. Is his scheme something that’s revolutionizing the sport of football? Or did he just come up with the right team at the right time, who just so happened to have an elite collection of players? Is he the next Shanahan or McVay? I’m guessing probably not. But, is the next Shanahan or McVay even out there? Again, I’m guessing probably not.

The Seahawks have only had three successful head coaches in the franchise’s history: Chuck Knox, Mike Holmgren, and Pete Carroll. All three of them had previous NFL head coaching experience. Now, obviously, that’s not a guarantee, because Jim Mora Jr. also was previously a head coach in the NFL, and Dennis Erickson was a longtime head coach in college. But, it strikes me that the three best guys were all pretty huge names in the sport at the times of them being hired, and maybe there’s something to be said for that.

I’ve always liked Mike Vrabel. I think he’s smart and knows how to lead a team as much as he can lead a culture. He probably best fits in that mold of a prior NFL head coach who’s a big name and has a lot left to give to the game. But, he doesn’t seem to be a viable option for whatever reason. I know I’d be concerned about his desire to play older guys over young kids, but maybe that’s a perception I’ve falsely acquired over the years. Like with any coach, his success level is going to come down to the quality of the players around him, regardless of their age or experience.

I guess the biggest thing that would make me happy as a Seahawks fan is for them to cut the dead weight. I know these decisions are tough, I know these older guys have given us everything they had, and I know it might mean enduring a tough salary cap situation for a year. But, if we can make it through, there’s a real opportunity in 2025 and beyond. But, we have to understand what this team is right now: it’s not a Super Bowl contender. And it’s not one offseason (with one hand tied behind our backs thanks to lack of money and draft picks) away from being that contender. This is a two-year window. Year one is the tear down, and year two is the immediate rebuild.

K.Y.P. Know Your Personnel. One of the local basketball color guys used to say that all the time (I can’t remember if it was Marques Johnson or someone else), but it’s universal across all sports. Seahawks, K.Y.P! Figure it out, get rid of anyone who’s not part of the future, and let’s get this thing turned around. Hovering around 9-8 and a potential wild card spot isn’t going to make me happy. Competing – TRULY competing – for a Super Bowl title, THAT will make me happy.

The Most Wrong I’ve Been About A Seahawks Player

Obviously, I have to shout out Field Gulls for inspiring this post. I mean, basically I’m just stealing their idea and answering it in my own forum. But, I linked to them, so what more do you want from me?! A cut of the profits! Good luck! This site is hemorrhaging money hand over fist!

It’s hard for me to feel satisfied with picking a player who I had zero expectations about, who went on to greatness. Like, I’m not – and have never been – a draftnik. So, I didn’t see Richard Sherman coming, for instance. Or Doug Baldwin. Or Kam Chancellor. I’m pretty sure I had equally as low expectations for a lot of those guys drafted in the later rounds, so the fact that I was so “wrong” about them doesn’t really say a whole lot. I mean, who saw Tom Brady, 6th Round quarterback turning into the Greatest Of All Time? That specific element, I’m throwing away.

The flipside, however, probably has my answer: someone drafted high, whose career totally took a shit.

Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of highly-drafted busts in Seahawks history. But, by and large, these were players we could’ve seen coming. Lawrence Jackson, Lamar King, L.J. Collier, Germain Ifedi, whathaveyou. Even Koren Robinson had his off-field issues that dogged him into his NFL playing days.

I would say the answer for me is Aaron Curry. Unfortunately, that was in my pre-blogging days, so I don’t have a record of my thoughts at the time, but I do remember very distinctly thinking he was a sure thing linebacker for this team. What I didn’t realize was his lack of pass rushing ability. Why a team would draft an off-ball linebacker – and not even a middle linebacker at that – with the 4th overall pick, is beyond me. But, that’s how great of a prospect he was at the time. He was the consensus “safest pick of the draft”. Plug & play. No worries here!

And then we just got nothing in return. Two and a half years of dud-ery, then somehow we traded him to the Raiders for a couple low-end draft picks.

If I had to give an honorable mention, I’d say I was pretty high on the Percy Harvin trade. That just felt like another one where there was no way to screw it up. Harvin was a superstar talent. We were in a position where the team was already built up considerably, so we had the excess salary cap room and draft capital to spend. It felt like the rich getting richer; instead, it was the beginning of the end.

What absolutely doesn’t belong is the Jimmy Graham deal. I didn’t like that one nearly as much as the Harvin deal. Mostly because we lost Max Unger, but also because Graham wasn’t a blocker whatsoever, and we’ve never thrown it enough to make him a viable weapon.

I probably should’ve been more wary of the Jamal Adams deal, but he seemed like another no-brainer sort of talent. No way I saw his injury issues coming. And no way I saw us falling as flat as we did in 2021.

And for good measure, I was pretty high on both Sheldon Richardson and Jadeveon Clowney when they were brought in. Seemed pretty low-risk/high-reward. Get a couple of motivated pass rushers on one-year deals, and either we sign them to an extension, or we let them walk and get a big, fat compensatory pick. Except, surprise! They were both already on the downside of their careers, they did nothing much in Seattle, and they never got those big money deals with other teams. In other words, they walked for nothing, and we were no better for having had them.

I should probably have pointed out by now that the ACTUAL answer to this question is unquestionably Geno Smith. If you told me before 2021 that Geno Smith would eventually replace Russell Wilson, and go on to have a better season than him – at ANY point in their respective careers – I would’ve thought you were a fucking psychopath drug addict. Even if you told me – this time last year – that Geno Smith would not only win the starting quarterback job, but would go on to play at a Pro Bowl level, and earn a potential big-money extension in 2023 and beyond (even with the incentives at work), I would’ve thought you were nuts. There’s no world where I would’ve envisioned a successful Geno Smith.

Now, granted, what has he done? Led a team to a 9-8 record and a first round exit in the playoffs. There are LOTS of quarterbacks who could’ve done that. Hell, Matt Schaub and Andy Dalton made entire careers out of that kind of “success”. But, my opinion of Geno Smith was so low prior to last season, that I legitimately believed Drew Lock was destined to be our starter last year. That’s a thing I not only believed, but was convinced about!

I legitimately don’t know who would be #2 on the list of players I had absolutely zero faith in whatsoever, who went on to greatness. Jarred Kelenic is somewhere in the ballpark, but he’s still young enough that his 2023 improvement isn’t a total shock. I mean, with Geno, it’s not just a matter of having no belief in him, but his presence was met with utter contempt! I couldn’t stand the thought of him taking snaps on this team. I only begrudgingly accepted him as Russell Wilson’s backup because Russ never took any plays off.

And therein lies the rub. Usually, I develop contempt for players only after they’ve sucked for my team. I don’t often have contempt for a player that then subsequently joins my team. And, by and large, any player who has stunk, comes to Seattle and continues to stink. This type of turnaround in my opinion doesn’t happen easily with me. Which is why Geno is such a rare case.

If we’re taking Geno off the table as too obvious, I’m sticking with Aaron Curry as my pick. Honorable mention for someone who isn’t a player at all: Pete Carroll.

As soon as the Seahawks introduced Pete Carroll as their head coach and really the head honcho alongside John Schneider (in other words, not under the GM like most coaches, and having final say over personnel), I thought this was a panic move of desperation by an organization that gave up on Mike Holmgren too early, and clearly reserved the franchise for the wrong coach in Jim Mora Jr. There’s no way in a million years that I expected Pete Carroll to be worth a damn in the NFL. Not after the way he flamed out in the 90’s. Not after the bevy of college coaches who have made the jump and failed miserably (perhaps no one more miserably than Nick Saban, who went on to supersonic success after going to Alabama from the Dolphins).

You could argue – if we included coaches – I was most wrong about Pete Carroll as the Seahawks’ head coach. What’s funny is that a lot of fans were right there with me at the time, and a lot of fans continue to doubt his abilities to this day. I don’t know how smart that is.

At this point, the 2023 Seahawks might have the biggest collection of Nobody Believed In Us personnel of any team in the NFL. Nobody believes in this defense. Nobody believes in the coaching staff (ehh, some might believe in Shane Waldron, but certainly no one believes in Hurtt or Carroll). People stopped believing in John Schneider for a while there. Geno Smith obviously overcame a mountain of haters. Lockett and Metcalf were overlooked by a lot of teams in their respective drafts. Even JSN fell to 20, when he might be a Top 10 talent. If the power of nobody believing in you was something that translated into the win/loss column, I’d say the Seahawks are Super Bowl contenders on that alone!

Of course, that’s not really a thing, and I don’t actually think the Seahawks are Super Bowl contenders. But, I’m more than happy to be proven wrong!

I Feel Like We Should Be More Worried About Seahawks Ownership

Seattle has had to endure so many terrible owners and ownership groups in our professional sports history. Good God, seemingly each one was worse than the last!

People complained like crazy about Nintendo owning the Mariners (mostly because Howard Lincoln and Chuck Armstrong proved to be totally incapable of running a winning franchise and pushing us to the next level), but people forget how horrid the two prior owners were through the 80’s and early 90’s (George Argyros and Jeff Smulyan); both threatened and tried to move the team to other parts of the country. The jury is still out on John Stanton, but this current rebuild will go a long way towards our opinion on the job he’s doing.

The Supersonics, obviously, rate as having the absolute worst owners in Seattle sports history. It’s hard for me to choose, honestly. I know Clay Bennett and the OKC guys were the ones who literally stole them from us and moved them to the midwest, but I would argue Howard Schultz was the absolute worst owner in franchise history. He tried to run the team like a business – looking to make a buck over winning actual basketball games – and he doomed us to our eventual demise by being the one to sell them to the OKC guys (knowing full well they’d stop at nothing to move the Sonics, but trying to pretend like he was the one who was bamboozled when obvious scumbags didn’t stick to their “promises”). The Ackerley Group were among the best owners in Seattle sports history, though they did cheap out on renovating what would become Key Arena, the beginning of the end of it all.

We can’t leave out the Seahawks, because the first sports villian of my young life was Ken Behring, when he tried to move the Seahawks to southern California in the mid-90s. That was after many years of meddling and stripping this team of any opportunity to compete in the AFC West by himself being cheap and sticking his nose into player personnel decisions that would doom us to an entire decade of mediocrity in the 1990s.

I think it’s without question that Paul Allen is far and away the BEST pro sports owner in Seattle’s relatively young history. He swooped in and saved the NFL for our fair city, and oversaw the greatest period of success on the field by leaps and bounds. He brought in Mike Holmgren, who instituted an immediate culture change. That led to our first Super Bowl appearance in 2005. The hand-off from Holmgren to the next guy didn’t go smoothly, but Allen didn’t settle for a loser in Jim Mora Jr. Instead, he went right out and hired Pete Carroll and John Schneider, who took us to back-to-back Super Bowls and won our first-ever NFL championship.

The Seahawks, during Allen’s tenure of 1997 – 2018, were a tremendous success. They were among the best-run franchises in the entire NFL. And, when you look at how some of these teams are run – Washington, Cincinnati, Detroit, Jacksonville, Houston, even Dallas if we’re being honest – it’s easy to be in a perpetual loop of awfulness.

Now, the Seahawks are in a trust, run by Allen’s sister Jody, who is the de facto owner for the time being. It’s anybody’s guess as to who’s calling the shots. How involved is she? Who does she have under her – and above Pete and John – who are advising her? The franchise seems rudderless at the moment. I don’t blame Paul Allen’s death for the way the Seahawks have declined in 2021, but at some point the buck is going to stop with who’s running the show.

Right now, the scapegoat is some combination of Pete and John, with a disgruntled Russell Wilson thrown into the mix. Once you start getting rid of one or more of those people, then you have to start looking at ownership, or lack thereof.

It seems inevitable that the Seahawks are going to be sold to a permanent owner, and that terrifies the BeJesus out of me. Good owners, in any sport, seem to be in VERY short supply. You get someone young and/or desperate, and you’re looking at a person who will overly-involve themselves in the day-to-day operations. You get someone old and/or who doesn’t give a shit, and you’re looking at a person who will let the team rot. You need a balance of someone who cares, but who will let the football people make football decisions (while at the same time, holding those football people accountable for those decisions when they start going wrong).

It’s a legitimate concern that maybe Pete Carroll has too much control over the players we bring in (and the players we keep around). It’s a legitimate concern that John Schneider’s skills at drafting and targeting quality trade chips and free agents have declined. They need to be held accountable, by a strong, disciplined owner. We need a plan in place to turn this franchise back around in a hurry.

It doesn’t seem like we have the ownership group in place to handle this properly. This is a very interesting look at the Portland Trailblazers, who are in a similar boat, as they were once owned by Paul Allen and now sit in that same trust as the Seahawks. It’s not a matter of finding a new ownership group immediately; it’s about finding the right ownership group. I don’t know who that is, because I don’t keep tabs on who all the eligible billionaires are who are also interested in being NFL owners. But, you better believe it’s going to be keeping me up at night, until the team is eventually sold.

Owners aren’t like head coaches or GMs; you don’t get out from under them in 2-3 years’ worth of losing seasons. You are STUCK with them! If there was any accountability for shitty owners, the Knicks would’ve been saved from James Dolan’s tyranny eons ago. Ken Behring was the shortest-tenured Seahawks owner and he still had the team from 1988 to 1996. That is such a long time, but there are no guaranteed floors. Once an owner is accepted into the NFL’s tribe, it’s pretty much like a Supreme Court seat; you’re there as long as you want to be. Dan Snyder is as despicable and inept as they get, and he’s been the owner in Washington since 1999, with no end in sight, in spite of yearly controversies and embarrassments to both the franchise and the league itself.

What if WE get the next Dan Snyder?! Well, there will be no end to our bitching about the Seahawks, that’s a given. But, who wants to be a fan of a franchise that’s so poorly run? At that point, are you better off just giving up and devoting your time to something else?

It’s all just a nightmare. All we can do is cross our fingers and hope for the best. Unless someone wants to give me a few billion dollars and vouch or me buying the team? You could do worse!

The Mediocre 90’s Ended With An Unlikely Seahawks Playoffs Apperance

I’ve been seriously negligent in my ongoing series of Seattle Playoff Futility, so thank you COVID-19 for killing sports and affording me the opportunity to wallow in the past. I’m effectively the human embodiment of this meme:

Also: I be shopping …

The 1990s were fucking HARD to be a Seahawks fan, especially for me. Which is a shame, because I was born in March of 1981, so they should’ve been smack dab in the epicenter of my wheelhouse. I was 7 years old in 1988 – the last time they made the playoffs before this year – and I remember very little about that time as a Seahawks fan, other than the fact that Steve Largent was my favorite professional athlete on the planet. But, he retired after the 1989 season, and it was all downhill from there (Largent would go on to a Congressional seat in Oklahoma by the time the Seahawks returned to the post-season in 1999).

Nevertheless, formative Steven A. Taylor caught the Seahawks bug coming out of the 80’s, which made the next ten years all the more tragic.

When you talk about the Worst People In Seattle Sports History, most others get overshadowed by the people involved in the Sonics going to OKC, but there’s a special wing in Sports Hell for Ken Behring (and owners of his ilk). He bought the team in 1988 – again, the last time the Seahawks made the playoffs – and he did everything to destroy this franchise from the inside out, so he could move them to Los Angeles in 1996.

It all started by disillusioning would-be Hall of Fame head coach Chuck Knox after the 1991 season, stripping personnel control away from the most-successful figurehead in franchise history to that point. Behring went on to hire Tom Flores, who had success with the Raiders in the early 80’s, but was well past his prime. It’s hard to tell who was more inept – the bumbling Flores, or the men he was charged with turning into professional football players – but the real losers were the fans, who had to watch the Seahawks from 1992-1994 go 14-34; including the absolute nadir in franchise history, when we went 2-14 in 1992 (as fate would have it, we weren’t even competent at LOSING, as we somehow managed to defeat the only other 2-14 team that season – the New England Patriots, IN Foxboro – to miss out on drafting Drew Bledsoe #1 overall, settling for the incomprehensibly-pedestrian Rick Mirer at #2).

As we got to the Dennis Erickson era from 1995-1998, my interest in rooting for the Seahawks took a serious nosedive. Thankfully, Paul Allen stepped up in 1997 to save the franchise and help get a new stadium built. That nevertheless didn’t stop this team from an endless string of middling finishes during this period:

  • 1995: 8-8
  • 1996: 7-9
  • 1997: 8-8
  • 1998: 8-8

Woof. There were some interesting players on those teams – future Hall of Famer Cortez Kennedy was wrecking fools on the D-Line, Joey Galloway was drafted and was easily the most-talented receiver we’d had since Largent, and Warren Moon was a gun-for-hire for those last two seasons at the tail-end of his career – but we were simply unable to put it all together for one reason or another (epitomized in a December game in 1998 against the Jets in Giants stadium, when Vinny Testaverde was clearly short of the goalline on a 4th down QB-sneak, yet the refs didn’t see him reach the ball over after the fact, resulting in the NFL re-instituting Instant Replay the next year; you could argue that lone play prevented us from making the playoffs and ultimately cost Erickson his job).

By the time 1999 rolled around, I was all but actively courting other NFL teams to root for (the Atlanta Falcons were a particular favorite of mine at the time). If it were easier (like today) to root for a team in another market, I’m sure I would’ve bailed long before. Paul Allen, to his credit, was quite a hands-off owner, but he knew when to step in at the right time. When it was clear that Mike Holmgren was available, Allen stepped in and hired him to be Head Coach and General Manager, unprecedented to that point in franchise history. And it worked! That move single-handedly kicked off the greatest run of Seahawks teams (until Allen turned around and hired Pete Carroll in 2010).

Even factoring in the disasterous Jim Mora season in 2009, from 1999 through 2019, the Seahawks made the playoffs 14 times in those 21 seasons (including 9 division championships, three Super Bowl appearances, and the one NFL championship I’ll never have to write about for this series).

What makes the 1999 season awkward to analyze is the fact that so many of the guys on this team were holdovers from the Erickson era (especially that 1998 team that came so close to breaking the futility streak). It’s brought into even starker perspective when you consider that first Holmgren draft was among the worst in franchise history (Lamar King, anyone?).

But, that team was weird in general. There were zero expectations heading in; we all figured there’d be at least ONE rebuilding season before Holmgren could tear everything down and build it back up again. Which made it all the more surprising when the 1999 Seahawks started out 8-2; they would go on to finish the season 9-7 and be improbable champions of the AFC West. Jon Kitna won the starting job and was a reasonably-capable Game Manager in his 15 games that season. Ricky Watters was an absolute stud for us at running back with over 1,200 yards rushing and another 387 yards receiving. Unfortunately, Joey Galloway – who should have THRIVED in a Mike Holmgren system – held out for half the season in a contract dispute and hardly made a dent that year when he did play (he would go on to be traded the next year for two first round picks, who would go on to be Shaun Alexander and Koren Robinson).

Obviously, backing into the playoffs is never a good thing (we were tied with the Chiefs at 9-7, but held the head-to-head tiebreaker by defeating them twice, including a Must Win matchup in Week 16 in the Kingdome), but considering it had been over a decade since our last post-season berth, beggars can’t be choosers.

Our reward was the #3 seed and a home Wild Card matchup against the 9-7 Miami Dolphins. All things considered, that was EASILY the cushiest of matchups that we could’ve gotten, considering the Titans – who would go on to lose in the Super Bowl to the Rams that year – were a 13-3 Wild Card team in the 4-seed, and the Bills were 11-5 as the 5-seed (Hello Music City Miracle!).

This was our first home playoff game since the 1984 season. It would also prove to be the last time Hall of Famer Dan Marino ever won a football game (the Dolphins would go on to be DESTROYED by the Jags the next week, 62-7).

But, Seahawks fans old enough to remember January 9, 2000, obviously remember this as the Trace Armstrong game.

Trace Armstrong was a … good defensive end. He played from 1989-2003; in five of those seasons he had double-digit sacks (and one of those seasons he was a Pro Bowler, in 2000, when he had a career-high 16.5). Sometimes he was great, sometimes he was mediocre, and obviously – because this is football – sometimes he was injured.

On January 9, 2000, however, he was a fucking WORLD DESTROYER!

Of his three sacks in the game, two of them came on third down (resulting in punts). His final sack came late in the fourth quarter, on a drive that would result in a punt (it resulted in a punt, because on third down, he stopped Kitna for a 1-yard gain to force yet another punt). But, even that doesn’t do his day justice. He was in Kitna’s face ALL DAMN DAY. If he wasn’t getting the sack, he was wreaking so much havoc that the guy next to him got it (Kitna was sacked 6 times total, 3 times in the fourth quarter, including twice on that all-important next-to-final possession).

On the final possession of the game, Kitna was 1 for 7 for 17 yards. This game outlined in great detail the need for improved offensive line play, as well as at the quarterback position (within two years, the Seahawks would go get Trent Dilfer, Matt Hasselbeck, and Steve Hutchinson – on top of eventual MVP Shaun Alexander – to really solidify things on the offensive side of the ball).

The Seahawks had so many chances to win this game. They were up 10-3 at half, and then 17-10 midway through the third quarter after a kickoff return for a touchdown. The offense couldn’t do jack shit in the second half, though. Aside from that kickoff return, we went 3 & Out, 5 & Out, 6 & Out, 3 & Out, and that final 7-play drive that ended on Downs; we moved the ball a total of 27 yards of offense and another 22 yards of defensive pass interference on one play. That’s just never going to get the job done.

Jon Kitna was 14/30 for 162, 1 TD and 2 INTs; Dan Marino wasn’t much better (17/30 for 196, 1 TD and 0 INTs), but he was only sacked one time and obviously didn’t make the mistakes Kitna made. In the end, it was a workmanlike 20-17 victory for the Dolphins, in the final game the Seahawks would ever play in the Kingdome (indeed, the final event the Kingdome ever hosted!).

All of that turmoil being said, as you could see by the thrashing the Jaguars gave to the Dolphins the very next week, there’s no way in HELL the Seahawks would’ve advanced any further. So, would you rather lose in a semi-heartwarming way to a beloved figure like Dan Marino? Or, would you like to be murdered and have your corpse micturated upon by Hitler and The Devil after ass-fucking you for three consecutive hours? Kind of a harsh image to put on a team like the Jags, but you get the idea.

Better days would be ahead for the Mike Holmgren-led Seahawks, but of course, not before a few more instances of utter heartbreak.

Paul Allen Passed Away

What makes a good owner?  Well, winning doesn’t hurt.  Paul Allen took over the Seahawks in 1997 and since then the team has only had 6 losing seasons.

Being decisive certainly helps.  In his two seasons with Dennis Erickson at the helm, the Seahawks finished 8-8 both years; not satisfied with mediocrity, he handed the keys to Mike Holmgren.

Patience is always a virtue.  Holmgren was allowed time to do his thing, build the team his way.  After an improbable wild card run in his first year, Holmgren was back in the playoffs – with HIS team – four years later.  That started off a run of five straight playoff appearances (including four consecutive division championships, and one Super Bowl appearance).

Making the right decisions, of course, is probably the most important.  Things got away from the team towards the end of Holmgren’s run.  Tim Ruskell infected this organization with his idiocy, which led to Holmgren’s ouster and the rise of Jim Mora Jr.  Holmgren’s final year was a 4-12 disaster and Mora’s lone year was a somehow-worse 5-11.  Not content with the direction of the team, Paul Allen cleaned house, brought in Pete Carroll and John Schneider, and before we knew it, this team was a world champion.

I think Paul Allen’s best attribute as an owner is all of those things … followed by staying out of the way and letting the football people HE hired make the football decisions.  Not meddling.  Not – like a certain Dallas Cowboys owner – making himself the fucking general manager and having his fingers in all the pies (seriously, thinking that HE’S smarter than Jimmy Johnson in his prime).  Paul Allen didn’t just hire splashy names – though at the time, Holmgren and Carroll were certainly that – but he hired people with visions.  With clear philosophies.  With plans for winning football and strategies to make that happen.  And if things went south, he didn’t overreact.  He let his people do their jobs.  And, most importantly, he always knew the perfect time to make a change.

It’s a stark contrast to the other owners we’ve had in Seattle through the years.  Obviously, the Seahawks before Paul Allen were owned by a monster, Ken Behring.  Before him, though, the Seahawks were run by the Nordstrom family, and their stability (and smart thinking in hiring Chuck Knox) led to a lot of success in the 80’s.

Or, consider the Seattle Mariners, whose decades upon decades of incompetence led to a brief 9-year window of semi-winning baseball.  Aside from that one brief period of bliss, that organization has been run by complete morons.  An owner who was never around.  An executive group prone to rash decisions, bad decisions, poor hires.  Letting general managers stick around too long, compound mistakes on top of more mistakes, while seemingly firing their field managers every other year!  You don’t get to be the team with the longest playoff drought in major North American sports unless you’re one of the very worst-run organizations of them all.  It’s been non-stop misery my whole life, and the saga continues.

And, don’t even get me started on the Supersonics.  As soon as the Ackerley family decided to sell, that was the end of professional basketball in Seattle.

See, the thing is, Seattle is Sports Hell for a reason, and more often than not that reason starts at the very top.  We had one good thing going for us, and that was Paul Allen’s involvement with the Seahawks.  He’d obviously been having a lot of health problems in recent years, and so we knew this day would come, but I still hoped we had more time.  He was only 65!  We should’ve had at LEAST another 20 years!  It’s obviously incomprehensibly sad for his family and friends, but it’s also a sad and uncertain time for Seahawks fans.  We don’t know what the plan is going forward, but it sure looks like the team is going to be sold.  At that point, we’re at the whim of some stranger.

One thing’s for certain, the new owner won’t be able to hold a candle to Paul Allen.  We had the best, now get ready for the rest.

Washington Huskies Football Preview 2018 Extravaganza Bonanza Tony Danza!

Big year for the Huskies.  That’s an understatement to say the least, but even that doesn’t cover the sheer magnitude of the 2018 season for this team.

Two years ago, the Huskies were up 7-0 in a playoff game down in Atlanta against Alabama, 3 and a half quarters away from one of the biggest upsets of the century.  Last year, with most guys back, the expectations were just as high, and it was undeniably a disappointment.  A late season loss down in Stanford cost us a shot at the Pac-12 championship, but the real culprit was a mind-boggling 13-7 loss to Arizona State (who ended their season losing in the Sun Bowl and firing their coaching staff).  The Huskies were still granted a slot in the Fiesta Bowl, but weren’t all that competitive against a really good Penn State team, ultimately losing by 7 as their late comeback attempt fell short.

This year, somehow, some way, most guys are back again!  We’ve got a 4th-year starter at both QB and RB.  Our defense is loaded (particularly in the secondary), our offensive line projects to be one of the best in the conference, and while this is the second year in a row we have to replace our #1 receiver, the room as a whole looks improved over what it was a season ago.  The Pac-12 overall doesn’t look too strong, our non-conference schedule has some non-cupcakes in it; it’s all laid out there for the taking.

Can the Huskies get back to the playoffs?

More importantly, can the Huskies really contend for a national championship?

Simply being able to ask these questions – and not have it sound ridiculous – makes me so overjoyed I can hardly contain myself.  The Washington Huskies are a powerhouse in the NCAA.  They’re almost certainly the best team in the Pac-12 and probably a Top 10 team in all of college football (currently ranked 6th in both polls).  This is fun.  It’s so much more fun than the alternative (though, at least when the Huskies are terrible, it’s easier to get tickets to games).

So, let’s take a look at the schedule, and try to predict all the games.

  • @ Auburn

It’s a neutral site game, but that site is down in Atlanta, so yeah, this is a road game for the Huskies and a home game for the Tigers.

I’ll say this:  I’m coming around to the idea of having this game played week 1.  I feel like the Huskies need every advantage they can get to steal this game, and having all off-season to prepare is a great start.  Also, wonky things can happen, as there’s no real tape on either of these teams.  That can go both ways though, as you figure this year’s Washington team will resemble last year’s team quite a bit, as far as schemes go.  We can use that to our advantage by pulling out all the stops, and I really hope we do.  Gadget plays, fake punts, you name it!

That having been said, I’m having a hard time seeing the Huskies pull this one out.  Unless Auburn is really overrated, it just feels like too much to go on the road and beat one of the best SEC teams of the season.  I think we can hang with them, I think we can make a good showing for our school and the Pac-12, but in the end I feel like the Huskies will need to run the ball tremendously to win this game, and I can’t envision a scenario where we blast it down their throats.  I think Same Ol’ Jake Browning shows up (you know, the one who’s incapable of winning a big game on his own, without the help of an insane rushing attack), and I think we start out a disappointing 0-1.

  • North Dakota

Easy bounce-back game against a creampuff.  This should be a 38-0 type of game.

  • @ Utah

Woof.  Pretty difficult early schedule for the Dawgs.  I’m hearing nothing but positive things for the Utes this year, so to also play this one on the road – just two weeks after that showdown in Atlanta – is doing us no favors.

I can promise you this:  the Huskies will NOT be 1-2 after three games.  I’m very confident we’ll be 2-1 (with an outside chance at 3-0), so either we lose to Auburn or Utah, but not both.  Given those odds, I’ll mark this down as a win, but I think it’ll be a very close game.

  • Arizona State

Revenge game, against a pushover opponent.  I don’t know WHAT they were thinking hiring Herm Edwards, but that looks like a Hindenburg Disaster waiting to happen.  This should be another home blowout.

  • BYU

Isn’t this fun?  Isn’t it fun to play some quality non-conference opponents?

I don’t have a good handle on what BYU is supposed to be this year, but I always peg them as a pretty big challenge regardless of who they’ve got on roster, since they usually have a pretty veteran group.  As such, I don’t expect this to be a walk-over by any stretch, but I think UW will win comfortably (maybe up over 2 scores by the end).

  • @ UCLA

If you had to ask me who the most over-rated college football programs are in the country, I’d put the Bruins pretty high on that list.  How many times are they rated super high – because they’re an L.A. school – only to greatly disappoint?  I guess you could say the downside here is that Jim Mora is gone, because PEE YOU does that guy suck at coaching.  Not only that, but Chip Kelly is back?!

That actually brought a shiver to my spine a little bit.

While I think it’s great for the conference (if terrible for the Huskies) to have a head coach like Chip Kelly back in the fold, I do think this will be a transition year for the Bruins.  As such, I would expect the Huskies to prevail in this one.  Mark us down for a record of 5-1 at the midway point in the season.

  • @ Oregon

We go from one Chip Kelly school to another.  Oregon is sans Kelly, but otherwise running his program, so I guess if you have to play both of these teams on the road, playing them back-to-back at least affords us the luxury of game-planning for two similar offenses.

The Huskies ended up missing both USC and Arizona, who I believe will be two of the better schools in the conference.  While I like Utah an awful lot, I don’t think they’ll ever get the national respect they’re due.  As such, I could see Washington’s schedule looking A LOT easier in retrospect, if some of these teams don’t pan out.

Oregon is supposed to be good this year.  Quarterback Justin Herbert is supposed to be a stud, and a potential first round NFL draft pick in 2019.  As such, I believe this game will be one of the most important of the season (and not just because Fuck Oregon).  I think this could be a lot like last year’s road game against Stanford, where the winner decides who is going to play in the Pac-12 Championship Game.

My concern lies not with our secondary – though I don’t think they’ll be perfect – but in our defensive line.  If Herbert has clean pockets, he could potentially pick us apart.  If they’re able to run for a good average, then he’s not going to need to beat us deep.  It’s the same strategy teams have used to move the ball on the Seahawks for so many years:  long sustained drives of dinking and dunking.  In the end, I think the Huskies slip up here; I just hope Oregon has enough losses on their record to let this not be the disaster I’m worried it’ll be.

  • Colorado

After Oregon, the schedule opens up and is a lot easier.  3 of our final 5 are at home, with the road games not looking too dire.  I think Colorado will be bad this year and we’ll take out our frustration on them.

  • @ California

I’m hearing good things out of the Bears, but I think they’re a year or two away from being good again.  While they might put up a fight, I think the Huskies take this one as well.

  • Stanford

They’re ranked #13 in both polls right now, but I don’t think Stanford will be ranked by the time we play them in November.  I think they’re set for a VERY disappointing season and I don’t think this game will be very competitive at all.  Huskies roll.

  • Oregon State

Save our two worst games for last, as the Beavs look like one of the worst teams in the conference.  Easy win for the Dawgs.

  • @ Washington State

If the Beavs aren’t the worst, the Cougs will be.  The Apple Cup is in Pullman this year, but we’ll be bringing it back home to Seattle without any trouble.

***

So, I’ve got the Huskies as a 10-2 team, 8-1 in the Pac-12.  Is 8-1 good enough to win the Pac-12 North?  Well, the way I see it, our only competition is Oregon.  The Ducks miss USC and Colorado.  They host Stanford at the end of September for their first conference matchup; I’ll be rooting HARD for the Cardinal in that one.  They also obviously host the Huskies, which sucks.

The toughest stretch of games for the Ducks (outside of Stanford-@ Cal-BYE-Washington) will be @ Arizona-UCLA-@ Utah (they close out with creampuffs against ASU and OSU).  If the Huskies end up losing to Oregon like I predict, then we’re going to need them to lose at least 2 games against those three teams if we want to represent the Pac-12 North.  I dunno, I have my doubts.  I hope I’m wrong.

If 8-1 is good enough to win the Pac-12 North, I’m going out on a limb to say that Arizona wins the Pac-12 South.  It’s one of those things where you probably would rather see USC – as it looks better beating them, from a national perspective – but I just believe the Wildcats are the better team.  I think we CAN beat them (we certainly SHOULD beat them) so I’ll predict that as a win now.

The question boils down to:  is 11-2, a conference title, a tough-looking non-conference schedule, and wins over Utah, Arizona, Stanford, and BYU enough to get us into a 4-team playoff?

Probably not.  It obviously gets us into a major bowl, but if things go the way I think they’ll go, we won’t be playing for a National Championship in 2018.

So, since the season hasn’t started yet, exactly how huge is this Auburn game?  Are we playing for our playoff lives right out of the gate?

In a way, yes!  I think, from a national perspective, everyone is super down on the Pac-12.  Teams have new coaching staffs in place, the L.A. schools are breaking in new QBs.  There’s a lot of transition right now.  I think the Huskies are deemed to be the best team by far in the Pac-12, and everyone else is at least a tier or two below us.  We’re the great hope!  We’re the ONLY hope!  Outside of someone running the table out of nowhere, the only team that figures to have a shot at the playoffs resides in Seattle.

That having been said, I just can’t EVER see a 2-loss Pac-12 team making the NCAA playoffs (probably not until we expand to 8 teams, anyway).  So, either the Huskies win this game on Saturday – and put ourselves squarely in the driver’s seat for that spot – or we lose that game and have to run the table to get back into the top 4.

If we run the table and go into the post-season with only 1 loss to a quality SEC team on the road, that’s a no-brainer playoff bid.  If we end up with 2 losses, a number of things have to happen.

For starters, we need to beat Stanford AND Oregon.  An ideal scenario where the Huskies have 2 losses and still make the playoffs features us probably losing on the road to a very good Utah team.  Starting 1-2 is never good, but it’s probably something we can overcome if we win out.  Even then, we probably need USC to be the champs in the Pac-12 South and have to beat them in the championship game.  That’s asking a lot.

I’d much rather the Huskies just beat Auburn now, and have a loss they can save for later in the season.  Any way you slice it, I think a 1-loss Husky team that also beats Auburn makes it into the playoffs (even if we somehow get locked out of the Pac-12 championship).

***

This has the feel of a grim assessment of the 2018 Huskies; like I’m writing them off before the season even starts.  I’d just like to say that I STILL think this is an elite college football team.  I’m trying to be realistic is all.

It’s so hard to run the table in college football.  Hell, even teams like Alabama slip up here and there!  Some weeks, things just aren’t going to go your way.  You make too many mistakes on offense, another team’s defense gets lucky with turnovers, the refs call some crazy penalties; you just never know what’s going to happen.

I feel like 10-2 is the sensible prediction for this Husky team.  It’s safe.  Barring a ton of unforeseen injuries to key players, it’s probably unrealistic to expect anything LESS than 10 wins this regular season.  If I’m setting the bar low, just know that this “low” bar is still double-digit wins, which is amazing.

I also feel like the sky is the limit for this team.  Beating Auburn FEELS like a longshot, but isn’t impossible.  We’ll have to execute.  Guys will have to step up and make plays.  But, we’re as healthy as we’re ever going to be, so it’s our best shot against theirs, and I have no problem recognizing this team’s potential.  Jake Browning COULD shock me.  Our running backs are pretty elite; it’s not insane to think they’d be able to run at will.  I fully expect one or two of these receivers to come out of nowhere to blow my mind!  And we’re so fast and strong across the board on defense that there’s no reason to expect we’ll be pushed around in this or any game, SEC or no SEC.

If I had to put a percentage on the Auburn game, I’d say it’s 55% Auburn, 45% Washington.  So, you know, close.  Almost a coin flip.

And, of course, if we win that game, the complexion of this season shifts in an instant.  We have to be seen as the favorites in every other game we’re involved in through the regular season.  While I have to believe we still lose one of these Pac-12 games, I won’t entirely rule out a 12-0 season.  Not entirely.  Some flukey shit will have to happen, but everything about this program is special.  The coaches, the players, everything.

I can’t wait.

History Of The Kicker Position For The Seattle Seahawks

I bumped this up to the Featured Articles spot.  Click HERE.

A Look Back at the Impressive Draft History of the John Schneider Era

With the draft coming up in a couple days, it’s always fun to look back at all the success the Seahawks have had in their current regime, overhauling a franchise in the toilet and propping it up as world champions.  You don’t get this good, this fast, without some remarkable drafting and some remarkable coaching.  Who can say if all of these guys would have been just as good under the tutelage of lesser men?  What we know is that a lot of these guys panned out in a big way, thanks to the system we have in place.

To give the full picture, you actually have to go back to the 2009 draft, when we had Jim Mora Jr. as our head coach and Tim Ruskell calling the shots on the personnel side.

Like all of Ruskell’s drafts after his first one back in 2005 – where he nabbed Lofa Tatupu and Leroy Hill, to solidify the middle of our defense – his 2009 class was a huge disaster.  The Seahawks had the #4 pick and wasted it on a bust of a player in Aaron Curry.  Given the downward trajectory of the franchise at that point, you had to wonder where Ruskell found his erroneous sense of job security, as he traded away Seattle’s second round pick (37th overall) to the Denver Broncos for a 2010 first round pick (to further confuse matters, the Seahawks ended up trading 3rd & 4th rounders to get back into the second round – 49th overall – to select Max Unger, the last bit of good from the Ruskell regime).

With that 2010 first round pick, however, the Seahawks would build their dynasty.  As we’re all well aware, the 2009 Seahawks ended up being a trainwreck just like the 2008 variety, leading the franchise to earn the #6 draft pick in 2010.  The 2009 Broncos did their part by going 8-8 and failing to make the playoffs, which meant that their first round draft pick (which was now ours) was 14th overall.

While the 2010 draft wasn’t quite up to the elite level of the 2012 class, it seriously jumpstarted things in a big way.

  • First Round, #6 – Russell Okung (LT)
  • First Round, #14 – Earl Thomas (S)
  • Second Round, #60 – Golden Tate (WR)
  • Fourth Round, #111 – Walter Thurmond (CB)
  • Fourth Round, #127 – E.J. Wilson (DE)
  • Fifth Round, #133 – Kam Chancellor (S)
  • Sixth Round, #185 – Anthony McCoy (TE)
  • Seventh Round, #236 – Dexter Davis (DE)
  • Seventh Round, #245 – Jameson Konz (WR/TE/DE/FB)

Of note is that the Seahawks were originally slated to draft much earlier in the second round, but ended up swapping picks with San Diego (along with giving them a third rounder in 2011) to trade for Charlie Whitehurst.  So, you can’t tell me there weren’t some roadblocks in the early going of the John Schneider era.

Also, it wasn’t all peaches and cream out of Tim Ruskell in the 2009 draft, as he sold off our 2010 third round pick to get Deon Butler in that 2009 class.  The Seahawks also ended up trading back in the 4th & 6th rounds with Tennessee to grab LenDale White and Kevin Vickerson.  Vickerson proved to be an adequate defensive tackle; White never made the roster.

In a much happier deal, the Seahawks acquired their extra fourth round pick (which they used on E.J. Wilson, who didn’t pan out) and managed to get Chris Clemons from the Eagles (who very much DID pan out), and all we had to give up was Darryl Tapp.

More deals to come.  The Seahawks traded away their original fifth round pick to the Jets for Leon Washington and the Jets’ 7th round pick.  But, the Seahawks got back into the fifth round (ahead of their original pick) in a deal with Detroit where we also received some defensive end, where we only gave up Rob Sims (a guard who was never all that good with the Seahawks) and a seventh round pick.  The Seahawks would use that pick to draft Kam Chancellor, locking down their two starting safeties in the same class.

As far as I can tell, the Seahawks didn’t really get much from the undrafted free agent class of 2010, though Lemuel Jeanpierre and Breno Giacomini were both brought in that year.  And, obviously, the Seahawks would bring in Marshawn Lynch via trade during the season.  But, when you look at that draft class, you’ve got 6 key contributors, including 4 starters (Okung, Thomas, Tate, and Chancellor) and great ones at that.

That brings us to 2011, or the mule of the John Schneider draft classes.  It gets a lot of flack for being mediocre, but upon further review was pretty underrated.

To kick things off, the 7-9 Seahawks of 2010 were stupidly allowed into the playoffs by way of winning one of the worst divisions in recorded NFL history.  Even though that team had literally no chance of winning the Super Bowl, it still made some noise with the Beastquake run and the unlikely upset of the previous year’s Super Bowl champion Saints.  Of course, the Seahawks would go on to lose the very next week in Chicago, meaning that for all the hubbub, the Seahawks would end up picking 25th overall in the 2011 draft.

If you were like me, you saw this as a sign of doom.  The 2010 Seahawks were not good.  Not by a longshot.  And, to be hampered with drafting so low in the first round (and in subsequent rounds) would only set things back that much further.  Apparently unable to find a partner with which to trade back, the Seahawks made that selection James Carpenter, who started as our right tackle before getting bumped inside to guard.  Everyone thought this was a reach, and history has proven this to be true; Carpenter was adequate at best, but not a true impact player you’d hope to get in the first round.  Nevertheless, he was a starter all four years, so he wasn’t quite the crime against humanity everyone makes him out to be (indeed, his current salary with the Jets would speak to how other teams have come to value his strong run blocking abilities).

  • First Round, #25 – James Carpenter (OL)
  • Third Round, #75 – John Moffitt (G)
  • Fourth Round, #99 – K.J. Wright (LB)
  • Fourth Round, #107 – Kris Durham (WR)
  • Fifth Round, #154 – Richard Sherman (CB)
  • Fifth Round, #156 – Mark LeGree (S)
  • Sixth Round, #173 – Byron Maxwell (CB)
  • Seventh Round, #205 – Lazarius Levingston (DE)
  • Seventh Round, #242 – Malcolm Smith (LB)

The Seahawks ended up trading away their second round pick to the Lions to pick up an extra third & fourth round picks (used on Moffitt and Durham).  Recall they gave away their original third round pick in 2010 to get Charlie Whitehurst.  All in all, nothing too impressive with any of these moves, as Whitehurst was a bust, Moffitt ended up getting traded to Denver after a mediocre rookie season, and Durham never panned out with Seattle.  In that same Lions trade, the Seahawks moved up in the fifth and seventh rounds, which they used to grab Richard Sherman (GREAT!) and Lazarius Levingston (WHO?).

The Seahawks gave up their original fourth round pick in the Marshawn Lynch trade (as well as a conditional 2012 pick that ended up being a fifth rounder).  However, the Seahawks got back into the fourth round by trading Deion Branch back to the Patriots.  Branch was a turd sandwich in Seattle, and we used the pick we got from the Pats to grab K.J. Wright, who has been a stalwart for our linebacking corps.

That above trade wasn’t the last time we’d deal with the Lions.  In a spectacular move, the Seahawks traded away former bust under the Ruskell regime, Lawrence Jackson, to get the Lions’ sixth round pick, which we used to grab Byron Maxwell, a huge part of our success in his final two years here (and a great special teamer and backup overall).  That made up for giving away our original sixth round pick to the 49ers for Kentwan Balmer, who would go on to be cut prior to the 2011 season.

To wrap things up, the Seahawks traded their original seventh rounder to Philly for an offensive lineman who did nothing.  However, the Seahawks were granted a compensatory pick, which we used on Super Bowl MVP Malcolm Smith.

Among the 2011 undrafted free agents, we have Doug Baldwin (WR), Ricardo Lockette (WR), Jeron Johnson (S), and Mike Morgan (LB).  This would also be the year the Seahawks took a flyer on Brandon Browner from the CFL, among many other free agent acquisitions.

When you look at the haul of just the rookies, though, you’re talking about 10 contributors, including 5 starters (Carpenter, Wright, Sherman, Maxwell (eventually), and Baldwin).

That brings us to 2012, or one of the greatest draft classes you’ll ever see.  The 2011 were again 7-9, but thankfully weren’t saddled with a futile playoff appearance.  As such, they were granted the 12th overall selection, which they promptly traded to Philly to move back to 15.  The Seahawks were granted picks in the fourth (Jaye Howard, DT) and sixth round (Jeremy Lane, CB), and away we go!

  • First Round, #15 – Bruce Irvin (DE/LB)
  • Second Round, #47 – Bobby Wagner (LB)
  • Third Round, #75 – Russell Wilson (QB)
  • Fourth Round, #106 – Robert Turbin (RB)
  • Fourth Round, #114 – Jaye Howard (DT)
  • Fifth Round, #154 – Korey Toomer (LB)
  • Sixth Round, #172 – Jeremy Lane (CB)
  • Sixth Round, #181 – Winston Guy (S)
  • Seventh Round, #225 – J.R. Sweezy (G)
  • Seventh Round, #232 – Greg Scruggs (DE)

Not to be stopped, the Seahawks traded back in the second round as well, this time with the Jets.  We would pick up extra picks in the fifth and seventh rounds (Toomer & Scruggs, respectively).  That one didn’t totally pan out, though I would argue injuries to both players hampered their ability to make a significant impact early in their careers.  Nevertheless, you can sense a theme:  the Seahawks wanted as many picks in this draft as possible, as it was laden with talent.

No more trades until the seventh round, where the Seahawks got the pick they’d use to nab Sweezy from the Raiders, in addition to a conditional 2013 pick (which ended up being in the fifth round) for the privilege of jettisoning Aaron Curry (who would only last with the Raiders for a little over a year before being waived).  The Seahawks did trade away their original seventh rounder for Tyler Polumbus (from the Lions), who was a starter here, but wasn’t any good.

The Seahawks also got Jermaine Kearse (WR) and DeShawn Shead (CB) from the ranks of the undrafted free agents.  All told, this class netted the Seahawks 9 contributors, with 5 starters (Irvin, Wagner, Wilson, Sweezy, and Kearse), with Lane expected to start this year, given the big money he made this offseason to re-sign with the Seahawks.

Obviously, the 2012 squad made a huge leap, thanks to the Seahawks’ tremendous draft success.  In those three classes alone, you’re talking about 14 starters, and 25 contributors overall.  The 11-5 record, and first round victory against the Redskins, meant the Seahawks would draft 25th again in the first round in 2013 (as they did back in 2011).  In something of a stunner of a move, the Seahawks would trade away this pick, as well as its seventh rounder, and a 2014 third rounder, for the right to get Percy Harvin and sign him to an ill-advised huge free agent deal.

  • Second Round, #62 – Christine Michael (RB)
  • Third Round, #87 – Jordan Hill (DT)
  • Fourth Round, #123 – Chris Harper (WR)
  • Fifth Round, #137 – Jesse Williams (DT)
  • Fifth Round, #138 – Tharold Simon (CB)
  • Fifth Round, #158 – Luke Willson (TE)
  • Sixth Round, #194 – Spencer Ware (RB)
  • Seventh Round, #220 – Ryan Seymour (OL)
  • Seventh Round, #231 – Ty Powell (DE)
  • Seventh Round, #241 – Jared Smith (OL)
  • Seventh Round, #242 – Michael Bowie (OL)

The 2013 draft has proven to be the real dog of the John Schneider classes.  Nevertheless, let’s run through the moves that got it to where it was.  As a volume drafter, Schneider found multiple ways to recoup draft picks after spending so much on Percy Harvin.

To start, the Seahawks moved back in the second round, from 56 to 62, and received from the Ravens a fifth and a sixth (165 & 199).  As you can see from above, the Seahawks didn’t draft at either of those positions.  That’s because the Seahawks traded both of those picks to the Lions to get pick #137 (Williams) at the top of the fifth round.  The very next selection came from the Raiders in the Aaron Curry deal, which we used on Simon (who has been good, but has never been healthy).

The flurry of seventh rounders (none of whom were worth a damn) came from the Saints (pick 220, for some linebacker we gave them), and a couple of compensatory picks (#241 & #242).

Alvin Bailey was the only notable undrafted free agent in this class; he was a quality reserve along the offensive line, but nothing more.  All told, the Seahawks only managed to get one eventual starter in this class (Luke Willson, who has only been a starter thanks to injuries to Zach Miller and Jimmy Graham), and three other contributors (Michael, Hill, and Simon), though Spencer Ware got a crack at a job with the Chiefs and seems to be pretty good.

We all know what happened with that 2013 team, built on a rock solid foundation of draft picks.  Following that year, the team started to get picked apart a little bit, with free agents going to other teams.  With the 2013 class already looking like a bummer, the pressure was on John Schneider to right the ship with a banner 2014 draft.  He started it off by trading away our first round pick to the Vikings for a second straight year.  The Vikings would select Teddy Bridgewater with the 32nd pick in the class; the Seahawks would get Minnesota’s second and fourth round selections (40 & 108 overall).

Before Seattle could make a pick, we traded back again, this time with the Lions.  The Lions picked at 40, and also received our fifth round pick at 146 (which we got from the Raiders for Matt Flynn) in exchange for second, fourth, and seventh rounders from Detroit (45, 111, & 227).  At 45, the Seahawks finally made their first pick, selecting Paul Richardson.

  • Second Round, #45 – Paul Richardson (WR)
  • Second Round, #64 – Justin Britt (OL)
  • Fourth Round, #108 – Cassius Marsh (DE)
  • Fourth Round, #123 – Kevin Norwood (WR)
  • Fourth Round, #132 – Kevin Pierre-Louis (LB)
  • Fifth Round, #172 – Jimmy Staten (DT)
  • Sixth Round, #199 – Garrett Scott (OL)
  • Sixth Round, #208 – Eric Pinkins (DB/LB)
  • Seventh Round, #227 – Kiero Small (FB)

To make up for the loss of our third rounder (to the Vikings, in the Harvin deal the previous year), you can see why the Seahawks wanted to trade back so many times to start the draft.  They were able to pick up two extra fourth rounders.  That pick we got from the Vikings would go to Marsh, who has been a quality reserve and special teamer.  The Seahawks would use that 111th pick to trade with the Bengals to get pick 123 (Norwood) and an extra sixth rounder (Scott, who never made the team due to health concerns).  That seventh rounder from Detroit ended up being Kiero Small, who also didn’t make the team (the Seahawks would trade away their original seventh round pick to the Raiders for Terrelle Pryor, who never amounted to much of anything).

Among the undrafted free agents, we grabbed Garry Gilliam (OL), Brock Coyle (LB), and Dion Bailey (S).  At first glance, this class doesn’t look any more impressive than the 2013 class, but there are a number of under-the-radar players in there.  Right now, we’re looking at 2 starters (Britt and Gilliam), with four other contributors (Richardson, Marsh, KPL, and Coyle).  Depth guys, special teams guys, people to round out the roster.  When you figure so many of this team’s starters were already on the team ahead of this class, it’s not like you’re talking about a huge number of available openings.  Granted, a lot of this class hinges on Britt and Gilliam improving, and Richardson remaining healthy for a full season.  Should they fail, then you could make an argument that THIS is indeed the worst class of the John Schneider era.  But, until another couple years pass, it’s still TBD.

A second Super Bowl appearance for the 2014 squad meant that the 2015 Seahawks would be drafting quite low again.  With the obvious disaster of the Harvin trade looming over the franchise, the Seahawks opted to take another swing for the fences, trading away their first rounder (along with Max Unger) to the Saints for Jimmy Graham (and their fourth round pick, #112 overall).  We kick off the 2015 draft DEEP into the second round, with a controversial pick in Frank Clark (with domestic abuse allegations swirling around him, yet with an obvious cliff after him with regards to pass rushers in this draft class).

  • Second Round, #63 – Frank Clark (DE)
  • Third Round, #69 – Tyler Lockett (WR)
  • Fourth Round, #130 – Terry Poole (OL)
  • Fourth Round, #134 – Mark Glowinski (G)
  • Fifth Round, #170 – Tye Smith (CB)
  • Sixth Round, #209 – Obum Gwacham (DE)
  • Sixth Round, #214 – Kristjan Sokoli (OL)
  • Seventh Round, #248 – Ryan Murphy (DB)

The Seahawks had a ton of extra picks in this draft, which I’ll get to below.  They used a package of third (95), fourth (112), fifth (167), and sixth (181) round picks to move up to #69 from the Redskins.  That pick at 95 was our original third rounder.  That fourth rounder at 112 came from the Saints in the Jimmy Graham deal.  That fifth rounder at 167 was our original fifth rounder.  And that sixth rounder at 181 came from the Jets when we gave them Percy Harvin.  So, obviously, we sent away two picks that we got in deals, and two original picks.  We were more than happy to do so because 1) Tyler Lockett is a special player, and 2) we had extra picks throughout.

Poole was from our original fourth round pick; Glowinski was from a compensatory pick.  Tye Smith was also a compensatory pick, as were both of our sixth round guys (Gwacham and Sokoli).  That’s what you get when you don’t over-pay to keep your own players who aren’t necessarily worth big-money deals.

The only notable undrafted free agent from 2015 was Thomas Rawls, who very well may be our starting running back in 2016.  Combine him with Lockett (a Pro Bowl returner, and #3 wide receiver), Clark (valued rotation guy on the D-Line), Glowinski (projected starter at right guard in 2016), and Tye Smith (someone who will battle for minutes this pre-season) and you’ve got the makings of a very good draft class, that could be great if some of these players turn into elite starters.

With the 2016 draft class supposedly dripping with talent throughout, it wouldn’t be crazy to see the best Seahawks draft class since 2012.  Obviously, we’re drafting pretty low again, this year at #26, but with compenatory selections, the Seahawks already have 9 picks to select from, with a real opportunity to trade down in the first round to pick up some more (and gain some flexibility within the draft, in case we want to move up later).

I’m pretty excited for this year’s draft.  I’m sure I won’t know who these players are when I hear their names, but over the ensuing months, I look forward to getting to know them.