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 [email protected] Cal-BYE-Washington) will be @ [email protected] 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.

Brandon Browner Is Back, The Legion Of Boom Is Whole Again

One of the more interesting moves of the offseason has seen the Seahawks return to some familiar faces, in signing Chris Clemons and now Brandon Browner to 1-year prove-it deals.  As this post posits, perhaps this is a reaction to a perceived void in veteran leadership on this team.  You could argue that this team has a lot of leaders already, in Wilson, Graham, Baldwin, and Kearse on offense; and Earl, Sherm, Wagner, Wright, Bennett and Avril on defense.  Nevertheless, I would say – to borrow from Jim Mora Jr. a little bit – that the team doesn’t necessarily have very many dirtbags on the team.  Enforcers who bring one primary trait to the table:  pain.  Clemons, by all accounts, is a nasty customer, whose focus on taking out the quarterback is legendary on this team.  And, of course, we all know how lethal Brandon Browner can be.  I would also note that with Kris Richard as a first-time defensive coordinator, and a young one at that, it’s nice to have an abundance of veterans on this defense to show the younger players how it’s supposed to be done.

In the ol’ Gods & Clods way of team-building, you’ve got a lot of expensive players, and a lot of very VERY cheap players (usually rookies/guys on rookie deals).  When you can bring in players on cheap, 1-year deals, who know the system and are able to bring something of a teaching element to Training Camp (even if it’s simply leading by example), I believe there’s really no downside to these types of moves.  There’s no guarantee either Clemons or Browner make the team in 2016, but if they push younger guys to be great in the pre-season, they will have been well worth the modest cost of their signing bonuses.

With both of these guys, you’re looking at 50/50 deals as far as whether they make the team or not.  I think with Clemons, it’ll be a matter of him proving he’s still got it.  You don’t bring in a guy like Clemons to be a starter; you bring him in to add a little extra to your pass rush in obvious passing situations (to help lessen the blow of losing a guy like Irvin).  If he comes in during Training Camp and pre-season and he looks a step slower than everyone, then hey, at least he’ll impart some lessons to the younger guys, and it doesn’t cost you much to cut him.

With Browner, I’ll give the same odds of him making the team, even though his position has much more competition.  Browner’s reputation has taken quite a hit the last couple years.  He was a big part of costing the Seahawks in Super Bowl XLIX, but at the same time, he was super prone to penalties and was cut by the Patriots after the season ended.  Then, he cashed in with New Orleans, but his defensive coordinator was a boob and didn’t use him properly, so he continued making many boneheaded penalties and getting beat frequently.  The Seahawks know what Browner brings to the table, limitations and all.  In this system, Browner made a name for himself, and was able to cash in on that.  Returning to this system, we should see something of a bounce-back year out of him (assuming he makes the team, of course).

I’m not as negative as a lot of Seahawks fans are with this move, mostly because I agree the guy wasn’t in the right scheme last year.  If you bring in a veteran on a free agent deal, you sure as shit better adapt your defense to him and not the other way around.  With a rookie, you can mold him; with a veteran, you’re not teaching an old dog new tricks (unless he’s a superstar like Revis, but even then, he struggled a bit in Tampa when they had him play more zone coverage than his customary lockdown man coverage).

I’m also tempering my expectations a little bit.  Browner’s best years with the Seahawks were in 2011 and 2012 (mostly 2011, if we’re being honest; his Pro Bowl season).  He wasn’t exactly all that dominant in 2013, when he played only 8 games, and wasn’t even around during the stretch run or the playoff run; that’s where Byron Maxwell stepped into the starter’s role and ran with it.  Even Browner at his best has his limitations.  He’s not as great against smaller, shifty receivers.  Against a guy like Kearse – who he was able to shut down in the Super Bowl – Browner is all kinds of effective.  In that sense, you wonder if he’s a guy who will see a lot of time in certain games, against certain teams, and then next to nothing against others.

What we should all be looking forward to is the fact that – barring injury – Browner isn’t coming in to be a starter.  Jeremy Lane is the one who got the big contract, and he’s going to see the majority of the snaps on the field after Sherm, Earl, and Kam.  Browner is here for depth – so the team is able to push Lane inside on nickel situations – and he’s here to push Tharold Simon, who is solid when healthy, but who’s never healthy for a full season.  In that sense, as a depth piece, he further cements the secondary as the best unit on the team, and nearly brings us back to the greatness that was the secondary of 2013.

We’ll see how it all shakes out in the pre-season, but my initial impressions are nothing but favorable.

Seattle Sports Hell 2013 NFL Power Rankings – Week 17

Man, what a ride!  Here we are, it’s the end of the regular season, and the bottom 20 teams have been chopped off, not to play another meaningful down until next September.  20 different fanbases at various points of unrest, mourning a season’s premature end.  And that number is going to increase by the week.  Two by two by two.  Until finally, when the clock stops ticking at the end of the Super Bowl, when there’s but one team standing.  One fanbase remaining, left to celebrate while everyone else looks on with equal parts jealousy and resentment.

We’ve been there.  Every year of our existence, we as Seahawks fans have done just that.  Watched.  Watched as others celebrated.  The Seahawks have been among the very worst and the very best, but we haven’t been THE best.  At one point or another, every season has ended; there are 32 teams in the league and 31 losers.  For 37 years, we’ve been losers.  It’s time to end that streak.  Now is the time.  Not “someday”, not “in the future”, now.

It’s a little obscene the way it all goes down.  You play 16 games in 17 weeks just to get to this point.  Then, you play 2-3 games to get to the Super Bowl.  And then it’s just one game.  One game to define your whole season!  At least in other pro sports, you get a series!  Or multiple series!  In football, if you have one bad game, you’re fucked.  One bad series, one bad play, that could be all it takes.

It makes you wonder, how many times does the true “best team” actually win it all?  For that matter, how many times is the “best team” the team with the best win/loss record?  There are stats that will break everything down, but ultimately can they be trusted?  You can use numbers to make almost any argument you want to make.  Which numbers hold more weight?  It’s as subjective as this here Power Rankings list, if you want to be honest.  Besides, in the end, no one gives a shit about the numbers.  It’s all about the team that wins the game on the field.

I’m not sitting here trying to disparage stat-heads.  By many accounts, if we chose the best team by the numbers, the Seattle Seahawks would be your world champs in 2013.  But, where’s the fun in that?  No, I’m not making fun of something I don’t understand; I’m just trying to wrap my head around the inconceivable.  All of this.  All the time we’ve spent with this team, through the last few decades and through the last few months, it all boils down to what’s going to happen in the next five weeks.

It starts this weekend.  What happens in the Wild Card weekend affects us pretty obviously:  it determines who the Seahawks play next week.  You can break that down even further:  some controversial play in one of the games might decide its outcome; and the butterfly effect takes hold.

The Seahawks can mitigate a lot of the chance involved on this journey by simply playing their best.  The Seahawks, playing their absolute best, are better than every other team playing its best.  But, there are so many other factors out there trying to prevent us from being our best, it’s useless to try to keep track.

All we can do is hope.  Hope our best guys get (and stay) healthy.  Hope more lucky bounces go our way than against us.  Hope we’re blessed with favorable matchups.  We’ve already taken one of the giant steps:  we’ve got a first-round BYE and home field advantage throughout.  But, those two things alone won’t win us through to the Super Bowl.  Our fans won’t be able to yell us through to the Super Bowl.  Cold and wet northwest weather won’t freeze us through to the Super Bowl.  Our players have to go out there, survive the opponents, survive the refs, and survive the luck element.

It’s up to the Seattle Seahawks.  We, as fans, are completely powerless.  All we can do (aside from yelling and screaming from the stands), is hope.  We’re in the best possible position, with the best possible home field advantage.  Now, we’ve got three more games.

Please, for the love of God, don’t fuck this up, Seahawks.

On to the rankings.

***

The Best:

  1. Seattle Seahawks (13-3) – We’re a flawed Super Bowl contender, but then again, who isn’t?
  2. Denver Broncos (13-3) – Peyton Manning certainly seems to be a man on a mission this year.  Moreso than in years past.

The Second-Best:

  1. Carolina Panthers (12-4) – That’s how you TCB at home against an inferior opponent to lock up the first-round BYE.  Let the opposing team’s center hike the ball to no one as they’re driving for the game-winning score.
  2. San Francisco 49ers (12-4) – Since I now fear only Peyton Manning, and all the great defenses, San Francisco gets a little Power Rankings Bump.
  3. New England Patriots (12-4) – It’s a nice story, and a helluva coaching job by Belichick, but this train is going to derail before the Super Bowl.  Mark my words.
  4. New Orleans Saints (11-5) – I want you, Saints!  You probably scare me the LEAST!  Your defense will be a nice little boost for our offense, which could use the shot in the arm.
  5. Indianapolis Colts (11-5) – I feel like the Colts will be favored over the Chiefs – who they recently beat, on the road – but I still don’t like the Colts to win that game.  Call me crazy!
  6. Kansas City Chiefs (11-5) – They benched all those guys and still played a helluva game.  You gotta like that if you’re a Chiefs fan.

The Rest:

  1. Philadelphia Eagles (10-6) – OK, so it’s the Eagles I fear the least, but the odds are pretty much 0% that we face the Eagles in the playoffs; there’s no way in HELL they make it to the NFC title game.
  2. Cincinnati Bengals (11-5) – San Diego at Cincinnati could be the best game of the week, or the ugliest.  Depends on which Philip Rivers and which Andy Dalton we see.  Consider this one a complete toss-up.
  3. Arizona Cardinals (10-6) – Here’s the world’s smallest violin just for the Cardinals not making the playoffs.
  4. Green Bay Packers (8-7-1) – I was gonna call you out for not going for two points, but you won, so I guess the ends justifies the means?  No?  It doesn’t?  Your coach is going to fuck up something crucial in the playoffs?  OK, got it.
  5. San Diego Chargers (9-7) – I never thought you had it in you.  And you very nearly didn’t, thanks to the KC kicker missing a chip-shot.
  6. Pittsburgh Steelers (8-8) – Steelers!  You almost made me the smartest man in the room!  If I’m remembering correctly, I picked you to make it into the playoffs before the season started.  It’s too bad, because there’s nothing I would have rooted harder for than a rematch of Super Bowl XL.
  7. Baltimore Ravens (8-8) – Anyone else relieved that we don’t have to see the Ravens in the playoffs?  Not because I’m afraid they’d make the Super Bowl.  Just because I’m sick of watching their brand of boring football.
  8. Chicago Bears (8-8) – Cut Jay Cutler.
  9. Miami Dolphins (8-8) – I wish I could go back in time and skull-fuck all the morons who thought the Dolphins would make the playoffs.
  10. St. Louis Rams (7-9) – Part of me hopes the Rams trade their #2 overall draft spot for more draft picks.  But, that’s the same part of me that wants their sinking ship to go down with Sam Bradford.
  11. Dallas Cowboys (8-8) – You mean, it’s NOT just Tony Romo who throws late-game picks?  What is this world coming to?
  12. New York Giants (7-9) – Watch out for those Giants in 2014 … if they can figure out a way to get younger in a hurry on the defensive side of the ball.
  13. New York Jets (8-8) – Steelers fans have to LOVE the Jets for their effort the last two weeks.  It didn’t work out, but you’ve got some love from the steel workers of America.
  14. Detroit Lions (7-9) – Way to bend over and take the second half of the season up the ass.
  15. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-12) – Holy crap, they fired the coach.  Finally!
  16. Atlanta Falcons (4-12) – So long, Tony Gonzalez.
  17. Buffalo Bills (6-10) – Whatever.
  18. Cleveland Browns (4-12) – You fire your coach after one year?  What, is his name Jim Mora or something?
  19. Tennessee Titans (7-9) – I got nothing.
  20. Minnesota Vikings (5-10-1) – Did Leslie Frazier deserve to be fired?  I would argue not!  Yes, they were bad, but that’s due to roster construction.  Fire the GM!  Frazier turned almost this exact team into a playoff team in 2012; now he’s unfit, one year later?  I don’t get it.  On a related note, isn’t it depressing when a bad team’s only good player is a running back?  At best, all he can do is get you IN the playoffs, but he can’t help you advance unless he has the proper pieces around him.  (See:  Barry Sanders).  I really feel for Adrian Peterson.  If it’s any consolation, it’s only a matter of time before the Seahawks trade for him (since, apparently, that’s where we get all of our players now).
  21. Oakland Raiders (4-12) – Yup.
  22. Jacksonville Jaguars (4-12) – Your 2013 Jacksonville Jaguars! (actually, that’s YOUR St. Louis Rams player who verbally abused the ref in Sunday’s game, but I couldn’t find a good one for the Jags this week)
  23. Washington Redskins (3-13) – Is there more of a no-brainer than firing Shanahan?  On an unrelated note, is there any way to get Dan Snyder and Jerry Jones together, managing one team?  Some men (me) just want to watch the world burn.
  24. Houston Texans (2-14) – Take that trip to Disneyland, Texans, you’ve earned it.

Because Everything Is Happening Today Yesterday: The Huskies Hired Chris Petersen

We got a coach!  This time last week, we had a coach, and now we’ve got a different coach.  Progress!

The Huskies wooed away Chris Petersen from Boise State – after he tore shit up as the bane of the BCS’ existence – doing to the Broncos exactly what the Trojans did to us.  I have no problem with that (and if I were a Broncos fan, I’d be super pissed about it, too).  This is almost better, in a way, than getting Jim Mora.  Either way, we’d be stealing a coach away from another school (proving that Washington isn’t just a “stepping stone”, but a destination), but at least Petersen has played harder to get.  What’s more satisfying:  getting the slutty girl on the first try, or getting her more-attractive, prudish sister on the first try after she’d turned down a bunch of other manlier, more macho dudes?

I’m sorry, this post has already gone off the rails.  Let’s try to right the ship here.

We got a coach!  And he’s proven to be a good one!  At a smaller institution!  And they’ve beaten numerous powerhouse schools to boot!

Jim Mora hasn’t done shit, but I think we all wanted him because he was most likely to stay here long term.  When your woman leaves you, sometimes you just need a security blanket in your life, even if she’s not right for you.  The Huskies tried to sign that security blanket, but only served to get him a big, fat raise with UCLA.  In the end, we might be thanking our lucky stars when – in four years – Jim Mora is out on his ass looking for work, while we’re headed back to the Rose Bowl (making it a 4-pete of consecutive Rose Bowls #FuckOregon).

I’m hearing that Petersen isn’t the greatest recruiter, but that’s what your assistant coaches are for.  What Peterson IS is a helluva head coach.  A guy who made inferior talent great; so imagine what he could do with the type of talent we can get at Washington!

I hope like crazy that he can convince Wilcox and Lupoi to stay, because if he can:  DAMN.  Not only will we not be missing a beat, but we will be legitimately dangerous as soon as NEXT YEAR!  But, that doesn’t sound too likely, as I’m hearing that Petersen is planning on bringing over his own defensive coordinator from Boise.

Either way, this is a real coup for Washington (and, for the record, much more exciting than the Mariners signing Robinson Cano).

What’s Got Me Down About Seattle Sports NOW?

We’ve got a big ol’ Pity Party Alert on this one, so if you’re not in the mood – if, indeed, you’re still reveling in the bounty that is the Seattle Seahawks:  Best Team In All Of Football – then you may want to take a step back from this and wait for a post that’s a little more uplifting (it’ll be here bright and early tomorrow morning).

Truth be told, I have no reason whatsoever to be complaining.  Without a doubt, I would settle for losing seasons out of every other one of the teams I root for if it meant the Seahawks won it all.  But, let’s just assume for a minute that I’m a rational human being who realizes that karma isn’t a thing that exists and superstitions are as pointless as a pencil with no sharpener (get it … point-less? … zing!).  If you take away the Seahawks, what are we left with?

  • Another brand-new NBA season with no NBA franchise in Seattle
  • A college football team whose head coach just abandoned it for another team in the same conference (who will likely take away all of his assistant coaches and primary recruiters)
  • A college basketball team that struggles to beat the worst teams on its non-conference schedule
  • A total disaster of a baseball franchise who couldn’t bring in quality players even if they spent Yankees or Dodgers money

THIS IS DEPRESSING AS SHIT!

Just to expand on these points, it was what – less than a year ago to be sure – that we were looking forward to the Sacramento Kings playing ball in KeyArena at this point.  The investors were set, the MOU was in place, the team was for sale, the offer was accepted … everything was in place.  Then, the NBA came in and butt-fucked us and left us sitting around waiting for Someday.  It’s always fucking Someday.  Seattle’s been waiting for Someday since I’ve fucking been born!

But, you know, this is now the fifth season I’ve lived without the NBA.  It’s really not so bad.  It’s not ideal, of course, but there’s usually something else going on.

Like … College Basketball!  Except, oh wait, the Huskies are terrible.  And, let’s face it, even if they were good, they still wouldn’t be anything to write home about.  They’re never going to be Duke or North Carolina or Michigan.  But, at least if they were good, we’d have something compelling to watch for the next few months!  Something to tide us over until baseball season …

Oh, wait.

You guys, I hate to break it to you, but the secret is out:  everyone knows how inept the Mariners organization is!  I always get a kick out of these pundits and insiders who say they’re envious of the position the Mariners are in right now.  Low payroll, young, “talented” roster, good farm system, new local TV deal that should pump millions upon millions into the team, beautiful stadium that’s been made more neutral for hitters, the only long-term deal being Felix Hernandez.  Why, we’re the belle of the fucking ball!  Any manager or GM would be ELATED to get a job with the Mariners!  To get a chance to run this organization into the ground further than it already is, to help mold these young players into superstars … I’m sure people were lining up around the block!  Trampling their fellow man like they were headed for the doorbuster of all doorbusters!  How these other GMs weren’t quitting their jobs at just the CHANCE to interview with the Seattle Mariners, I have no fucking idea!

And yet, somehow this fucking message never reached the free agents.  We have ALL this money to spend, we have our hands in seemingly every free agent’s jock trying to convince him to sign with Seattle … and yet, no one will come.  WEIRD, I KNOW!  It’s like, didn’t you get the memo?  The Mariners are on the rise!  Pay no mind to all those 90-loss seasons behind the curtain, though.  Or the fact that our last manager wouldn’t touch us with a 100-mile pole.  Just take our truck-fuls of cash and be happy!

Of course, the Mariners won’t go oh-fer the winter.  After all, Willie Fucking Bloomquist is back!  Two year deal!  WOOOO HOOOO MOTHERFUCKERS!  And, as soon as we over-pay Nelson Cruz to play 80 games a year (surrounded by a handful of DL stints), we’ll be all set.

Because the Mariners won’t get the A-Listers, we’ll have to settle for the D-Listers.  The guys who are over-the-hill, who were last good two or three years ago, who haven’t played injury-free at any point in recent history.  The Mariners – like they always do – will Febreze a few turds nobody else wants and try to pass it off that Someday could be closer than we think.  How many times have we heard that story before?

Then again, I guess we should be used to the greats not wanting to come to Seattle.  We can’t even get our home-grown Favorite Sons to return!  Jim Mora Jr., by all accounts, has signed a big, fat extension with the Bruins to stay as far a-fucking-way from the University of Washington as possible.  I’m not saying Mora would guarantee a return to the glory days, but it says quite a lot that we can’t even lure a guy over here when this job is ostensibly his “dream job” (per a radio interview while he was still coaching the Atlanta Falcons way back in the day).

Do you know how rejected that makes me feel?  I don’t know if you’re anything like me, but if you’re a fan of some (or all) of these teams, and you hear that they’re struggling to bring in quality players and/or coaches, doesn’t it just feel like a huge slap in the face?  What does it mean when you can’t even OVER-PAY these guys to come here?

College is kind of a fucked institution anyway, but then again, if a place like Eugene can attract the cream of the football crop, why couldn’t Seattle?  Shit, weed is actually LEGAL here!  You’re telling me we can’t use that to our advantage somehow?  All we need is one great coach, with a great offensive mind, who has a scheme that no one else can stop.  A great scheme can make up for a lack of talent, and when it does, eventually it’ll attract that talent!  Then, you’ve really got something!

But, of course, the Huskies will probably go after some re-tread.  Thinking that we’ve made enough progress in the last five years that all it’ll take is some know-it-all head coach to put everything together (when all the while, we’ll slowly revert back to our also-ran ways).

In basketball, get ready, because a house-cleaning is coming.  If last season didn’t bring about Romar’s firing, then surely this will be the year.  At this point, I’m such a broken, beaten man that I don’t even care anymore.  Maybe we’ll hit the lottery and find the next John Calipari or something.  Of course, you know the odds of winning any lottery …

And as for the Mariners, not even the promise of seeing Felix pitch 30+ times can get me excited for this team anymore.  It’s all so fucked, I can’t even see straight.

Thank holy hell that we have the Seahawks.  We may only get to enjoy them for three hours a week, and there may only be two months left of the season (including playoffs), but by gar at least it’s something!