How Good Can The Seahawks Be In 2022?

So much of the discourse about our favorite sports teams has a bent towards the future, for better and for worse. To the point where all too often, the reaction to that discourse is a Stop & Smell The Roses mentality that can feel overly sentimental or old fashioned. I’m as guilty of that as everyone, because duh, I am stopping and smelling the damn roses. I’m watching every week, aren’t I? I’m reading articles and blogs, I’m writing about the games and whatnot, what more do you want from me? I’m invested!

But, that’s just it. I’m so invested that I’m taking a big picture approach to following a team like the Seahawks. I can do both: I can follow along and be entertained in the moment, AND I can think about the future and what this team needs to do to be even better.

What’s only starting to occur to me is: what if the future is now? Maybe we don’t NEED to look ahead a year or two, to see this team compete for Super Bowls. With the trajectory we’re on now, the sky really does feel like the limit!

Maybe it’s the four-game winning streak talking, I dunno. But, when I watch this team, I see a balanced and explosive offense, strong across the board at both the skill positions and the grunt workers. I see a defense that’s clearly improved from where it languished in the first month of the season, and it’s seemingly getting better by the week, as the young guys gain experience and start to mesh with the new scheme.

What’s a little uncertain is how elite this team truly is.

I would say throughout the year, the offense has been ahead of the defense. That’s not going out on any significant limb of hot takes or anything. But, does that make the offense elite? In a lot of ways, the analytics would say yes. Points per game, we’re 4th in the league. But, yards per game we’re down around the 10ish range. That’s good, not great. It also kinda feels like this team hasn’t played its absolute best on offense except against the very worst of defenses. Maybe I should give the Seahawks more credit for the 32 we rung up on the Saints, but there’s also been times we’ve been stymied. It feels like there’s more we can do, like this team could put up 50 on an opponent at any given time.

Then, on the flipside, defensively is this team a championship level unit? Certainly, after that Saints game, things turned around in a hurry. The D-Line shifted in its attack, we stopped relying so much on Cody Barton (in favor of more DBs on the field), and our young secondary has stepped up in a big way. Ours isn’t a traditionally dominant defensive unit like the 49ers, the Jets, the Cowboys, or the Broncos. But, it’s hard to argue with results.

That’s a potentially-explosive Cardinals team. They racked up a relatively easy touchdown-scoring drive when they first had possession of the football, then they proceeded to go punt, punt, punt, fumble, punt, punt, punt before their next touchdown (they did get a pick-six there in the middle of all of that, but that’s no reflection of their offense, now is it?). That’s some serious domination, three weeks after we held them to all of 9 points (3 points on offense, with the other 6 coming on a special teams TD).

To be fair, though, the Cards are kind of a mess. While they do have the potential to be explosive, they’ve also proven to be prone to implosion more often than not. It’s not like we just held the Chiefs, Bills, or Eagles to some miniscule number. But, you play the teams as they’re scheduled, and it’s hard not to be impressed with how the Seahawks have looked in all facets.

What’s not uncertain is the team’s lack of depth.

It’s not quite a Gods N Clods situation, but you could make a good argument that the Seahawks have been pretty lucky with injuries. We lost Jamal Adams, but who’s the other injury on defense that wasn’t an addition by subtraction (a la Sidney Jones or Justin Coleman)? We’ve had nagging injuries on offense, but other than Rashaad Penny, I don’t think we’ve lost anyone of note.

But, clearly, this team wouldn’t be the same if Geno Smith went down for a long period of time. We’d be severely hurting if we lost Kenneth Walker. And if either Lockett or Metcalf go out, we’re pretty bad at receiver behind those guys. Defensively, I think we’d be devastated if we lost Nwosu or Brooks, and the last thing I want is for our secondary guys to get hampered in their development.

Of course, you could make the same depth argument about a lot of teams. We’re seeing it play out in real time with the likes of the Green Bay Packers, for instance. For the most part, the very best teams – the ones competing for and winning Super Bowls – are also the ones who are luckiest with injuries. There’s never a 100% healthy team, but I would argue it’s a pretty high number. All the difference in how you finish lies in how healthy your best players are able to remain throughout the season. The NFL is a rough business; it churns through athletes with the best of ’em.

But, this isn’t a blog post talking about How Healthy Can The Seahawks Be In 2022; that’s a discussion about randomness. We’re talking about how GOOD this team can be, and I’m really starting to believe.

I think the biggest test to date is coming this weekend. I know I say that every week, but every week it remains true.

The Bucs, by and large, have been a colossal disappointment. But, there’s been plenty of extenuating circumstances. They’re still a team led by Tom Brady, with tons of offensive weapons at his disposal. They’ve still got a tremendous defense – especially at stopping the run – and a foundation of quality coaches and coordinators keeping the boat afloat. There’s a ton of experience on that team, and they’re right where they need to be. They play in one of the worst divisions in football, and control their own destiny. They won’t be a top seed in the NFC, but they can easily make the postseason and be a team nobody wants to play.

At this point, I usually talk about “how you beat this team”, but I don’t fully grasp why they’re so bad in the first place, other than guys who are usually great aren’t doing so hot. Obviously, if you get in Tom Brady’s grill with a 4-man pass rush, that’s the best way to slow him down. But, he can still carve up anyone when he’s on. Leonard Fournette can look like one of the best running backs in football at times, but all too often it seems like they go away from him for no reason. They have dynamic receivers, good players at tight end, and when healthy, their O-line has been tough. I don’t know how healthy that line is now, but maybe that’s a weakness we can exploit.

On the flipside, we have to stay on schedule and disciplined on offense. No penalties, no negative plays, and be efficient on third down. I expect this to be relatively low scoring and close to the bitter end, so there will be a few crucial plays that determine this one. Kickers better be on point, is all I have to say about the Special Teams.

There’s a real great opportunity here. If we can gut out a win in Germany, that puts us at 7-3 heading into the BYE. Then, we host 5 of our last 7 games, which at the beginning of the season seemed like a pointless gesture, but now looks like a gift from the heavens. There are still tough games sprinkled in throughout – hosting the 49ers, Jets, and even the Raiders; two games against the hated Rams, and that huge road game against the Chiefs on Christmas Eve – but it’s hard not to like our chances in most of those. Clearly, there’s something wrong with the Rams and Raiders. The Panthers should be pushovers. The Jets stink on offense. The 49ers are banged up and coming to Seattle. Even the Chiefs have shown their warts at times.

I’m not saying the Seahawks are definitely winning out the rest of the way. But, I am saying that it would not surprise me if the Seahawks won this weekend and continued to win the rest of the year. It wouldn’t surprise me if the Seahawks earned a top 2 or 3 seed in the NFC. It wouldn’t surprise me if the Seahawks made some noise in the playoffs. And, indeed, it wouldn’t surprise me if the Seahawks won it all.

Until further notice, I’m not concerning myself with the 2023 version of this team, or beyond. I’m all in on 2022, and from where I’m sitting, the view is pretty great.

Everyone’s Crapping Their Pants Over Geno Smith & The Seahawks’ Offense

It’s football, and so by design you get these wild emotional swings from week to week. We won on Monday Night against Russell Wilson and the Broncos: we must be great! We lost in demoralizing fashion to the 49ers and then the Falcons at home: we must be among the very worst teams in football! Now, we go out on the road and win a crazy shootout: heck, maybe the wild card is on the table!

There’s a lot of Geno Smith dick sucking going on, and I don’t know if it’s deserved. I don’t know if anyone considered him the very worst quarterback in the game; among backups, I think he’s always been fairly well-regarded. That’s probably because – until last year – you never got to see him play. The mystery and the name recognition did a lot of the heavy lifting for Geno Smith’s reputation. Once it became apparent this offseason that he was not only in a quarterback battle with the likes of Drew Lock, but until he got COVID, it was a battle set up for Lock to ultimately win, I think we all remembered, “Oh yeah, this is Geno Smith we’re talking about.” He’s probably in the low 20’s or high 30’s in a ranking of all quarterbacks.

Now that we’re four weeks into the season, I’ll admit that he’s better than I expected. His accuracy is off the charts, and even if we’re talking about a preponderance of throws being dinks and dunks, that’s still better than a lot of other so-called Game Managers. To me, this feels like our offensive system making good on its original promise (more than Smith making a late-career surge in effectiveness). We wanted the Rams’ style McVay offense, and we’ve got it! Jared Goff was once a quarterback that took his team to the Super Bowl. I think while it’s safe to say Geno Smith won’t be doing the same, he can still play competitive football within the parameters of this offense.

But, let’s see it against superior competition. His first half against the Broncos was lights out; his second half was atrocious. His entire game against the 49ers was a huge nothing-burger. He was good and bad against the Falcons, but clearly not good enough to prevail in a home game that you HAVE to have if you’re a playoff team. Now, he has this elite performance (320 yards on 23/30, with 2 TDs, 0 INTs, and 1 rushing TD with 49 yards on 7 carries) against arguably the worst defense in the league. Possibly one of the worst defenses of the last decade or more!

And that’s saying something, because the Seahawks this year ALSO have one of the worst defenses in the league, and one of the worst defenses of the last decade or more.

If the argument is that this offense has worked out the kinks, and is capable of some percentage of this every week, then I’m going to have to see it in action against good defenses. I need to see this against the Rams and 49ers. I need to see it in action against the Saints on the road next week. I need to see it against the Chargers and Bucs and Cardinals and literally everyone else on our schedule; they’ve all got better defenses than the Lions!

If you’re like me, and you saw this team – heading into the year – as an annoyingly 7-10 type of team, then you looked at the schedule and predicted we’d be 2-2 after four games. Granted, one of those victories would’ve been over Atlanta, but one of those losses would’ve been to the Broncos, so maybe that evens it out. Regardless, this isn’t the most unexpected thing in the world. There’s a lot of football left to play. A lot of the teams we thought would be good might lose to a team like these Seahawks. Conversely, a lot of teams that we thought would be pushovers might nip us in the end. I don’t think I can make a definitive statement one way or the other about this team. I still don’t think we’re very good. I still don’t think Geno Smith has what it takes to drive us the length of the field, needing a touchdown to win the game in the final two minutes.

I’m not terribly irate about winning this game, though I think it annoyingly papers over a lot of deficiencies, especially regarding the defense. But, I’m happy that our skill guys looked good (Penny had 151 yards on 17 carries, with 2 TDs; Metcalf had 7 catches for 149 yards; Lockett had 6 for 91). I’m happy that the offensive line is progressing like gangbusters. I’m happy that Tariq Woolen had a pick six.

But, in the grand scheme of things, if we’d lost 45-41 – instead of winning 48-45 – I’d still have all of those things to be happy about, plus we’d be one step closer to tanking this season! As it stands, this looks like a HUGE tiebreaker for us at season’s end. Clearly, these are two pretty evenly-matched teams. I think both the Seahawks and Lions will be close in record. So, we’re talking about a pretty big edge they have, especially if they decide to make drafting a quarterback a priority next year.

This Seahawks defense, tho. Ye gods. Darrell Taylor got demoted to a rusher on passing downs, because he can’t handle all the responsibilities of an outside linebacker. Then, his replacement go hurt and he was forced back into action. All in all, this has been a pretty bad season for him so far. The secondary is still getting dinged pretty severely. Other than Nwosu, no one is getting to the quarterback on a regular basis. Cody Barton looks inept and feeble. Jordyn Brooks is no Bobby Wagner in his prime; not by a long shot. If we’re not at the point where we’re abandoning the 3-4 for the 4-3, then it’s probably only another week or two away (because we can’t keep getting gashed with this sort of regularity).

At this rate, I don’t know what we’re going to have to hang our hat on by season’s end. Hopefully, the secondary can settle down a little bit. I don’t think there’s much hope for the linebacking group, and I think we’ll have to use a 2nd or 3rd rounder on that position. I think there’s a considerable demand for a dominant pass rusher, but I don’t know how you get that without foregoing a shot at one of the elite quarterback prospects. Maybe someone falls to us?

There’s also the very legitimate – though, I would argue kind of a longshot – concern that Geno Smith keeps playing well within the system, and is just handed the keys to the offense next year. Does a 7-10 Seahawks team with Geno throwing for 4,000+ yards on high-efficiency passing give this group the confidence to continue trying to bolster around the quarterback position, rather than addressing it directly? Again, I don’t think that’s very likely, but it has to be a concern.

So, yeah, I’d say the weekend could’ve gone better. At least the Broncos lost! I made a big show of telling all my friends how they’re a 12-win team and they all rightly laughed in my face. We’ll see who’s laughing last (it’ll either be me because I’m right, or me because I engineered a quality jinx).

The Seahawks Looked Predictably Inept Against The 49ers

I’ll be honest, Saturday was a long, fun-filled day for me. We had some tailgate festivities, a couple of long drives to and from that event, followed immediately by a family poker game, followed by some late night billiards in our rec room. I didn’t go to bed until maybe midnight or 1am, yet still managed to wake up well before the 10am games on Sunday. Long story short, I took a nap for most of the second half of those early games, and didn’t wake up until we were already an hour into the Seahawks’ game.

So, I missed out on the Trey Lance Experience. A very small part of me will always wonder if we might’ve had a chance in this one had Lance stayed healthy.

But, given the way our offense performed, I still highly doubt we would’ve come close to winning in this one. I hope you heeded my warning and stayed away (or bet hard against the Seahawks), because I was as on the money with this one as I’ve ever been! I missed the total by a single point! That’s unheard of (for me)!

Even though I saw a good percentage of this game (I tuned in when we were only down 13-0 in the second quarter), I didn’t see much of an effort whatsoever by the Seahawks’ offense to try and run the ball. Maybe my attention was stolen by the Broncos/Texans game on the little TV – rooting hard for Houston to take down Denver – but that was really shocking to me. Then again, given how poor our offense looked overall – not to mention how badly we were losing for the last 2/3 of this game – I guess it’s not all that surprising either.

Geno Smith only threw the ball 30 times, so it’s not like we went all pass-wacky. We just couldn’t do a damn thing, running or throwing. He completed 24 of those passes, for a measly 197 yards (for a 6.6 average per attempt, a miserable figure).

There was one highlight in this game for the Seahawks, and it was a blocked field goal for a touchdown. In a game we lost 27-7. That marks six consecutive quarters (and counting) where the offense has failed to score a single point. If you want to push things further, Tyler Lockett had a breakthrough game (it was starting to be worrisome that he just never has been on the same page as Geno in their limited action together), with 9 catches for 107 yards. For someone of his talent, he deserves better.

Also, I’m really scraping the bottom of the barrel for highlights, but it was nice to see Kenneth Walker out there getting some play.

Defensively, I dunno. There were plenty of mop-up tackles for Brooks and Barton. I thought Al Woods made his presence felt in the middle (7 tackles, 3 for loss, with a pass deflection). But what’s Poona Ford been up to this year? Whereth Bryan Mone? I did think Nwosu looked good again, and Darrell Taylor looked better than his week 1 faceplant.

We’re still seeing lots of growing pains out of the secondary. Too soon to make any sort of definitive statements, but I’ll say this: I’d rather have excessive penalties over excessive cushions for receivers to get lots of yardage. I’d rather have aggression, because you can teach them to tone it down for the refs; but you can’t teach a guy to be stickier to his receiver. I’ll take this all day over the likes of Tre Flowers and whatnot.

Even though the Special Teams got that score, it’s hard to give them too positive of a grade. We didn’t do much in the return game, and the new guy got in Lockett’s way for a critical muffed punt in the second half. You just can’t have that. That’s bad even for high school players, let alone the NFL.

This is more in line with what I expected from the Seahawks this year. But, I don’t think it’s going to be this dire every single week. I think the 49ers have a tremendous defense, and any time we go up against a defense of this calibre, it’s going to be a bloodbath. Otherwise, though, I think we’ll move the ball and score some points at an okay clip. I still contend, however, that anytime we’re down – and we need Geno Smith to orchestrate a scoring drive late in the game – it’s going to be a difficult proposition for this team to execute. And, god forbid if we ever get into any shootouts.

So far, I’ve seen glimpses of greatness out of this defense, but I don’t think we’re going to get over the hump until the secondary starts making some strides. As I said before, I like the way it’s trending, but at some point it’s going to have to click. Otherwise, this defense looks like every other mediocre Ken Norton defense we’ve had in recent seasons. Until they play to their highest potential, I don’t see a path to a winning season for this team. And, if it’s too little, too late when they finally figure it out, then clearly this will be a bottom 10 team in the league (looking forward to a top 10 draft pick next year).

The Seahawks Won Their Super Bowl, Defeating Russell Wilson On Monday Night

It’s probably never going to be better than it was last night, for the rest of the season. Relish it. At some point, I’m going to write a post titled, “R.I.P. Fun Seahawks”, because I think we’re going to see a lot of ugly football this year. But, what we got last night was something akin to a final hurrah for the Fun Seahawks. Those Seahawks who – as Kevin Clark astutely pointed out – have literally never played in a normal game.

It’s a very first world problem, but a definite complaint I’ve heard about all of those Russell Wilson Seahawks teams is that they never let you relax. They’re always nerve-wracking and tense, down to the bitter end, win or lose. This game was THAT times a thousand. Of course, we usually prevailed in those games, so ultimately they were a source of joy and relief, and last night was no different. It really did feel like a continuation of all the fun, but I fear it’s going to soon come to an end.

The Seahawks were as up for this game against Russell Wilson’s Broncos as I’ve ever seen a team up for anything. You could argue the Broncos were up too, but they were a little TOO up, resulting in way too many dumb penalties and mistakes. Whereas the Seahawks were shockingly calm and composed, while still looking pretty electric at times.

The first half Seahawks were a revelation. The over/under on Seahawks points in the entire game was 18.5, and they very nearly surpassed that in the first two quarters (really, they should have, but Geno missed a wide open Travis Homer near the goalline that would’ve been a walk-in touchdown). It was truly impressive! We marched right down the field on the opening drive for a TD, we took it inside the Denver 10 yard line on the next drive before being stuffed on a QB sneak, then we went field goal and touchdown to wrap up our first half. Against that defense? It was phenomenal!

But, then you got a good, long look at the Bad Seahawks in the second half. No offense whatsoever. No points whatsoever. Fumble, punt, punt. That’s it.

Now, you can argue that’s a little bit by design. That if these Seahawks are going to do anything, it’s going to be on the back of the defense getting timely stops. But, I don’t know how sustainable this type of game was, even though we looked absolutely dominant around the goalline.

The Broncos never had trouble moving the ball. They ran it well, they gave Wilson lots of time to throw, and they even worked in a few deep shots against a defense that is absolutely never supposed to give up deep shots. Our rookie cornerbacks played like rookie cornerbacks. Our pass rush played okay, but was far from dominant. There were lots of open receivers underneath and in the short-intermediate, and to his credit, Russell Wilson was playing the exact type of game he should have. It was a patient, calculated night where he took what the defense gave him. He’s gotten so much grief in recent seasons for constantly trying to chase the deep ball, but other than a couple of INT drops by Jamal Adams and Quandre Diggs, there really weren’t a lot of mistakes on Wilson’s part (at least, to my untrained eye).

But, when it mattered most – in the second half, clinging to a one-score lead – our defense stiffened up and forced two fumbles at the goalline. Again, how sustainable is that? Probably not very.

By the look of things, this defense resembled so many Ken Norton defenses. Lots of yards given up between the 20’s, followed by just enough field goals allowed instead of touchdowns to give the team the victory. But, better teams won’t just settle for field goals. I would argue the Broncos will be A LOT better than this going forward, but we know Russell Wilson, and we had his number in this one. We’re not going to be so lucky against other teams.

So, enjoy this while you can. Because I can’t say this is going to continue even into next week.

Kudos to Geno Smith for taking a heaping mound of shit from everyone – fans, pundits, haters – and playing a game that was good enough to win. 23/28, 195 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INTs. I will say that he needs to step up more in the pocket, to help out his rookie tackles. But, to his credit, he did look good running the ball, and took a lot of tough hits in an effort to fall forward rather than play it safe and slide for less.

Rashaad Penny looked good, and could’ve looked even better if a number of his runs weren’t called back by penalty. I wouldn’t expect those flags to continue; as long as he’s healthy, I think he’ll continue his hot run from late last year.

Good job by the receivers and tight ends, though D.K. had another fumble that almost cost us dearly. I thought Brooks and Barton were solid and sometimes spectacular. I thought Nwosu was the best player on the field! Only one sack, but he was all over the place, making plays everywhere and made Russell’s life the most miserable.

I thought Jamal Adams looked terrible, and then he went out with a severe knee injury that’s probably going to end his season. Good thing no one was counting on him to be a big part of this defense or anything. I also thought Darrell Taylor looked REAL bad. He got beat around the edge too many times, never got close to sniffing Russell, and didn’t do anything in coverage.

Nice job by Myers for making a 49 yarder that proved to be the game-winner. And a couple good punts from Dickson. Also, phenomenal coverage and return yardage by the Special Teams. DeeJay Dallas gets a special shout out not just for his yards, but for his smashing tackle.

Finally, the MVP of the game goes to Denver head coach Nathaniel Hackett, who didn’t take a time out at the end of the game, with over a minute left, 4th & 5 at the Seahawks 46 yard line. Instead, he let the clock drain, called time out, then went for a 64 yard field goal that didn’t have much of a chance of succeeding (McManus even missed a warm-up right when we iced him). You made a HUGE trade for Russell Wilson, you paid him a bundle of money, and you DON’T put the ball in his hands to go for the first down and a closer field goal? What’s WRONG with you?!

Fun night. Now, let’s go lose a bunch of ballgames and go draft a quarterback next year!

The Seahawks Should Lose A Lot Of Games In 2022

I don’t have a lot of faith in the Seahawks this year. As I’ve noted in the past – especially in the post-LOB era – if you take Russell Wilson off of this team, it’s probably a 3-win team, give or take. That’s what we’re looking at right now.

It’s not just the loss of Russell Wilson, but it’s also who we’ve replaced him with. Geno Smith has always been a terrible-to-mediocre quarterback. Now he’s an old terrible-to-mediocre quarterback. He might have a few good throws per game, but he’s also going to hold onto the ball too long, take some untimely sacks, and fail to move this offense one iota whenever we’re behind the sticks. Any failed play – whether it’s the aforementioned sack, a penalty, a run stuff, or even an incomplete pass on 1st & 10 – and we’re looking at almost an automatic punt. Anytime we get down by two scores, you can pretty much write the game off; there’s no way Geno Smith is pulling our asses out of any fires like Russell Wilson did on the regular. Remember ALL of those games where we started slowly WITH an elite guy like Wilson at the helm! Now, imagine those same slow starts, only we’ve got Geno being harassed like crazy in obvious passing situations. It’s a living hell.

At least in the LOB era, you could’ve made the argument that a simple game manager might’ve kept us in a lot of games. We might’ve even succeeded on the strength of literally every other position on the team. But, this ain’t that. It might have the potential to one day approach that, but there’s a lot that would have to go right.

We all know the preseason is fake football. Putting too much stock in what happens in August is really grounds for losing your football fan card. But, I can’t help feeling especially disheartened, because we actually played a good number of our starters. Geno Smith had a lot of snaps out there! Behind a starting offensive line that also saw a lot of snaps – since we’re breaking in a couple rookies at the tackle spots – that actually looked pretty decent! So, the fact that we struggled so mightily to score points is pretty damning. Even if our top two running backs missed most of the games, our next two running backs played quite extensively and ALSO looked better than I’ve ever seen them. Really, the guys you’re talking about – on offense – who largely sat out were D.K. and Tyler Lockett. Are those two guys alone going to automatically pump things up to a league-average level? I’m dubious.

Which puts a lot of pressure on a defense that’s as big a question mark as anything. The defense didn’t look great either, but you can convince me a lot of our best guys DID sit out. Nevertheless, that’s putting a lot on guys like Jordyn Brooks, Quandre Diggs (coming off of injury), and Jamal Adams (also coming off of injury, as well as playing through more injuries). We’re going to have to count on cornerbacks who are largely untested (and possibly bad). We’re going to have to count on a pass rush that’s in Prove It Mode. We’re going to have to rely on a run stuffing unit that didn’t seem to stuff much of the run in spite of playing a lot in the preseason.

We’re really banking on the coaching staff holding everything together with duct tape and zipties. Is that smart? An offensive coordinator in his second year of calling plays? A defensive coordinator in his first year of running a defense? The second-oldest head coach in the NFL?

Let’s look at the schedule. We start out on Monday night against a fired up Russell Wilson, surrounded by a lot of talent on that Broncos roster. That feels like a sure loss. Then we go on the road to play the 49ers, who might be among the best teams in the NFC from top to bottom. We host Atlanta, who feels on par with our talent level; that’s a coin flip at best. Then, it’s back to back road games against a young and hungry Lions team, followed by a Saints team with a great defense and a lot of talent on offense.

Then, we host the Cardinals (a playoff team last year with most of their guys returning) and play the Chargers on the road (a definite playoff-calibre team this year). The Giants at home feel like pushovers, but like the Falcons, I think their talent level is on par with ours. That’s another coin flip. Then, we go on the road against Arizona again, before playing Tampa in Germany.

Would it shock anyone if we’re 2-8 or 1-9 heading into the BYE week? Not me!

We host the Raiders (another playoff team from last year), then go on the road to play the Rams (Super Bowl champs). We host Carolina, which is a sleeper playoff team this year with Baker Mayfield out there. Then we host the 49ers, before going on the road to play the Chiefs (another viable Super Bowl contender). Then we close by hosting the Jets and Rams.

In that last stretch, I see one win. Maybe two. But, it’s not a stretch at all for this team to be anywhere from 2-15 to 4-13, and maybe that’s for the best.

I haven’t been this down on the Seahawks in a while. Probably since the Suck For Luck campaign. We all know how that turned out. But, rather than winning 7 games, I think we have the legitimate potential to lose a lot more.

It sucks being in this position, but again, I think it’s necessary. I’d still rather be here than having Russell Wilson and praying everything goes right for us to MAYBE get beyond the Divisional Round of the playoffs (something we haven’t done since the 2014 season). We’ve been spinning our tires in the mud for too long now. It was time to make this change. It’s time to start over and see if we can rebound quickly. First thing’s first: we need to lose a lot so we can guarantee ourselves a chance to draft our next potential franchise quarterback.

I know, in a vacuum, it’s better to have the sure thing on your roster. But, the way we’ve failed to build around Wilson – combined with the fact that he was only going to get more expensive and take up more of a percentage of our salary cap – I don’t see how things were ever going to change. I guess you can argue we should’ve kept him over Pete Carroll and John Schneider, but then you’ve got the unknown of a brand new head coach and GM pairing.

Maybe that’s preferable. What has John Schneider done since 2014 when it comes to building this roster? Maybe he’s cashed as a talent evaluator. After all, if the rumors are true – that he was high on bringing Drew Lock here – then I think that speaks volumes. But, if that’s just poppycock, and he has another card up his sleeve with the next draft, then I’d like to see what’s in store for the future.

This is it, though. It’s the 2023 draft. It’s whoever we draft at that position next year. Pete and John get whoever that is, and if they flame out, it’s over. We’ll know soon enough whether this was all a huge mistake, or a massive stroke of genius. It might not make the 2022 Seahawks worth watching, but it’ll make the 2022 and 2023 NFL seasons pretty interesting. I’ll be keeping an eye on what Denver’s doing, for sure.

For the record, I think Denver will look pretty fucking great this season. I’m on record as believing they’ll win their division and maybe even go far in the playoffs. I think Russell Wilson will look terrific and in shape and run more with the ball than he has in the last few years. But, long term? I do have my doubts. I think the honeymoon won’t be long. And when it gets bad, it’ll get REALLY bad.

But, if it gets them a title in 2022, clearly it’ll all be worth it. And Pete and John will look like assholes for squandering so much of Russell’s prime.

I’m putting us at 3-14, with a top 4 draft pick. Maybe even top 3 or top 2. We won’t be the worst of the worst – I think that’ll be Chicago – but it’s going to be ugly. Just get there now. Get in that mindset. We’ll get through this together.

Seahawks 53-Man Roster Projection Ready Set Go!

It’s a little early for this, I’ll admit. But, this Friday I’m leaving on a trip and won’t be back until Labor Day, which doesn’t leave me a lot of time until the start of the regular season (plus, will be after the final cut-down day anyway, rendering this whole exercise moo. A cow’s opinion). Really, when you think about it, this isn’t early at all. It’s probably late, if I’m being honest! What am I even talking about?!

I don’t have a lot invested in this team, so I imagine my latest 53-man roster projection is going to be more wrong than normal (when I never really gave a damn anyway). Did I include too many linebackers and not enough offensive linemen? Probably. Anyway, here we go.

Quarterbacks

  • Geno Smith
  • Drew Lock

It’s our worst nightmare, come to fruition. If I had to guess, I’d say Geno gets the nod to start the regular season, but I can’t imagine that will last long (if it happens at all). I still contend the team wants Lock to be the guy, but his fucking up at every turn is holding him back.

Running Backs

  • Rashaad Penny
  • Kenneth Walker
  • Travis Homer
  • DeeJay Dallas
  • Nick Bellore

Pretty easy one here. I don’t dare lump Bellore in with the rest of the linebackers, but sure, he’s that too, I guess (in addition to a fullback the team almost never uses). When Walker’s healthy, this figures to be a 2-man backfield, but Homer will still likely see his fair share of reps in the 2-minute offense. And, injuries will likely dictate all of these guys appear at one time or another.

Wide Receivers

  • D.K. Metcalf
  • Tyler Lockett
  • Freddie Swain
  • Dee Eskridge
  • Penny Hart
  • Dareke Young

I really don’t believe Eskridge has done a damn thing to earn a spot on this roster, other than being our top draft pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. Feels too soon to give up on a 2nd round pick, but then again, he’s CONSTANTLY FUCKING INJURED. I don’t get it. Hart is a hedge against that, plus he’s a special teams whiz. And I feel like if you keep Eskridge, you have to keep a sixth receiver just in case. It seems like Young has the higher upside, whereas Bo Melton is probably likelier to pass through to the practice squad.

Tight Ends

  • Noah Fant
  • Will Dissly
  • Colby Parkinson

Easy peasy lemon squeezy. No notes.

Offensive Line

  • Charles Cross
  • Damien Lewis
  • Austin Blythe
  • Gabe Jackson
  • Abe Lucas
  • Phil Haynes
  • Jake Curhan
  • Kyle Fuller
  • Stone Forsythe

Odds are we’ll see a 10th lineman here, but you could conceivably get away with just the 9. It all depends on how bad the Lewis injury is and how long he’ll miss time. But, Curhan can play guard or tackle. Fuller can play center or guard. Forsythe is your traditional tackle backup. There’s enough cross-polination among the backups here to cover your ass in a pinch. That assumes, of course, that Lucas is your starting right tackle, which is the rumor I’m hearing.

Defensive Linemen

  • Shelby Harris
  • Poona Ford
  • Bryan Mone
  • Al Woods
  • Quinton Jefferson
  • L.J. Collier
  • Myles Adams

These are the beefy dudes who should spend little-to-no time dropping back into coverage. That figure could be drastically high; I’m really taking a stab in the dark here. But, I’ve also ranked them in order of likelihood to make the team, so could be a tough break for one or both of Collier & Adams (but, I’ve heard good things about Collier in practice, and I’ve seen good things from Adams in the two games so far).

Pass Rushers/Strong-Side Linebackers

  • Darrell Taylor
  • Boye Mafe
  • Uchenna Nwosu
  • Alton Robinson
  • Tyreke Smith

Again, I’m ranking these by order of likelihood to make the team. But, I think the top four are as close to locks as possible. Smith makes my roster because he’s a draft pick, but I couldn’t tell you if he’s done a damn thing so far in the pre-season.

Linebackers

  • Jordyn Brooks
  • Cody Barton
  • Tanner Muse
  • Vi Jones

I’ll be honest, Muse and Jones are here because they’re names I recognize. I think one or both might be valuable special teamers, maybe? I also think this team could be sifting through cast-offs from other teams, since the position outside of Brooks has been so underwhelming.

Safeties

  • Jamal Adams
  • Quandre Diggs
  • Ryan Neal
  • Marquise Blair

I haven’t seen or heard about Neal, but I’m assuming based on his production for this team of late, he’ll get a crack to be a backup again. Blair, on the other hand, has done nothing but disappoint in the pre-season. I wouldn’t be shocked if Blair gets chopped and we go with someone else on our roster or pick up another team’s reject(s).

Cornerbacks

  • Tariq Woolen
  • Coby Bryant
  • Sidney Jones
  • Artie Burns
  • Justin Coleman

I don’t think Coleman deserves to be on this team, but I think he’s going to make it anyway. Odds are it’s Jones and Burns to start – with Bryant being the team’s top nickel guy – but I won’t be surprised to see Woolen out there (especially if Burns or Jones can’t get healthy). I’m also banking on Tre Brown starting out on PUP, or otherwise not joining the roster until later on in the season.

Special Teams

  • Tyler Ott (LS)
  • Michael Dickson (P)
  • Jason Myers (K)

Seems crazy that Myers gets to keep his job based on what we’ve seen, but what are you going to do? He’s going to continue to be aggravating, but he’s going to be far from the most aggravating thing we see on a weekly basis from this team.

The Seahawks Weren’t Totally Uninteresting In A Pre-Season Loss In Pittsburgh

I had scheduled myself to write about the Mariners today and the Seahawks tomorrow, but we’re flip-flopping after an underwhelming series loss to the Rangers of all teams.

I didn’t watch the Seahawks game live, because I have better things to do than watch quasi-meaningless pre-season games. But, you know what I don’t have better things to do than? Watching quasi-meaningless pre-season games the next day on DVR when I already know the outcome of the game!

I’ll just get this out of the way early so we can all move on: I’m not crazy about pre-season announcing booths in general, but the addition of an otherwise quite charming Michael Robinson brought the homerism to a new level. I didn’t bother to write down any specific criticisms, but at points I was wondering if we were watching the same players. Like, he’d praise their attributes that they clearly don’t exhibit! To counter-balance that, I thought the addition of Michael Bennett was delightful, and I particularly enjoyed his interviews on the field. He’s a wild card in the best possible way (even though it’s clear he’s been instructed to also juice up the homerism). Curt Menefee, as always, is a pro’s pro and we’re lucky to have him doing our games. He has no reason to! We’re not interesting from a national perspective without Russell Wilson and Bobby Wagner anymore!

The game result is – as has been mentioned everywhere – not important. The Seahawks got down 14-0 through the first quarter, we managed to execute a 2-minute drive heading into halftime to cut the deficit to 17-10, then we tied it on our first possession after halftime. We swapped touchdowns and 2-point conversions after that, to make it 25-25 late in the game. Then, a critical stop by the Seahawks defense was rewarded with a devastating sack/fumble, and the Steelers scored a TD with just 3 seconds left in the game to give the game its final score, 32-25.

Pre-Season Quarterback Report

As has been the case pretty much all off-season, Geno Smith worked with the starters and Drew Lock worked with the backups. In this particular game, Geno worked the entire first half and Drew worked the entire second half.

And, as expected, neither one really stood out, at least to my eye. They’re both crappy-to-mediocre backup quarterbacks in this league. And yet, I came to a definite conclusion while watching this game, as Geno Smith tottered his way to a sack in an imploding pocket (even though he had plenty of time to throw it away): if I have to watch a full season where Geno Smith is my team’s starting quarterback, I’m going to blow my fucking brains out.

Mind you, I don’t expect that to be the end result of my life, so let’s just say I’ll be taking every opportunity to casually skip even regular season Seahawks games this year.

I don’t want this to sound like I’m gung-ho over Drew Lock, because I’m very much not. But, man, we fucking know what Geno Smith has to offer. He was shitty with the Jets (and other teams) and he’s shitty now. Age and sitting behind Russell Wilson has not magically made him better. There’s no savvy to his game. He looks way too long to his first read, for one thing. That makes him frequently late in throwing to that first read if he decides it’s open. Otherwise, it makes him late to his secondary reads, so it’s like he holds on Read 1, and then a few seconds later decides to check it down to his final read. This is especially aggravating when it’s 3rd & long and the check-down gets tackled well before the first down line to gain.

That’s why you can see his stats from Saturday – 10/15, 101 yards, no turnovers – and think that’s not so bad. Last year, in three games, he completed over 68% of his passes largely in this fashion (looking pretty spry against probably the league’s worst defense in Jacksonville), which again leads one to think he’s not so bad. Think again. Think long and hard about the Geno Smith you’ve watched over the last decade.

I just can’t with him. All things being equal – and they do look pretty equal – give me the unfamiliar. Drew Lock, to his credit, did some good things in this one. He doubled the number of touchdown drives that Geno gave us, he completed one more pass for one more yard in the same number of attempts. But, he also took double the number of sacks, including the game-sealing fumble at the end (where he was supposed to recognize the blitzer off the edge and adjust the play/protection accordingly).

You look for moments where a quarterback can show you what he’s got. That was Drew Lock’s moment. The game was tied, there was just over a minute left and we got it on Pittsburgh’s side of the 50 yard line. All we needed was 20-25 yards for an easy game-winning field goal. That’s a moment where you MUST orchestrate a game-winning drive for your team. Granted, it was the pre-season, so it was backups against backups. But, that makes it all the more important if you’re Drew Lock and you’re trying to be a starter in this league. Starters don’t fuck that up. Starters see that blitzer and make mincemeat out of the Steelers on that play. This is going to be Lock’s fourth year in the league; if you can’t see a pretty obvious blitz off the edge by now, then I just don’t think it’s ever going to click for you.

And yet, I still would prefer to see Lock as our starting quarterback this season. Partly because he’s Not Geno Smith, but also because I think he sucks just a little bit more. I think he’s going to be a little more reckless with the football, where Geno might be a little more careful. I think he’ll cost us maybe an extra game or two, where Geno might do just enough to game manage his way to victory. It’s the difference between going 8-9 and 6-11, but that’s a pretty big leap in the NFL draft standings, and that’s all that matters right now.

Because, clearly, neither of these guys deserve to be around and playing in meaningful football games in 2023.

Other Pre-Season Tidbits

I was quite impressed with the offensive line throughout this one. If there’s one positive takeaway, it’s that the depth up front is likely to be our biggest strength.

By extension, I thought the running backs looked great as well! Granted, Rashaad Penny was out with injury (of course), but that just meant more Kenneth Walker. He didn’t break anything, but he looked solid in general. More eye-opening was what we saw from DeeJay Dallas and even Travis Homer, who both got busy running AND pass catching. Great day from that room!

I was pretty appalled by our run defense, especially when you saw a good chunk of our starting interior linemen out there for much of the game. Even in the first half, the Steelers were ripping us to shreds.

Cody Barton is Just A Guy. I don’t know where anyone got the opinion that he’s going to be a good player for this team, but he’s not. He’s just a warm body. His deficiencies might be covered up a little more when Jordyn Brooks is out there being a beast. But, when Barton is the main guy, you can see just how slow he is, how bad his instincts are, and how he gets run over on the reg. If ankle tackles where the runner still falls forward for 2-3 extra yards are your jam, then sign up for more Cody Barton. But, as for me, I prefer an inside linebacker with some juice.

Bit of a mixed bag from our receivers. I thought the rookies Bo Melton and Dareke Young looked solid. No D.K. or Lockett in this one, nor any Swain or Dee Eskridge (naturally). We did get our first look at Noah Fant, who will definitely have a big role in this passing game. That being said, Fant isn’t going to be much of a blocker, especially out in space, so we’ll have to adjust our expectations accordingly. Also, he needs to work on his footwork, because he had a great opportunity along the sidelines, but couldn’t get his second foot down in bounds.

I was pleased to see Darrell Taylor and Alton Robinson make big impacts in the pass rush. And I was thrilled with the two sacks from Boye Mafe! He might be raw, but his speed is NFL-ready, no doubt about it. Shelby Harris looks like a quality addition to the interior, and I think it was Myles Adams who stood out quite a bit in the second half (I believe he was wearing #95 in this one, but I could be mistaken). I don’t know how many DTs we can carry, but I’m rooting for Adams.

I’m going to withhold too much judgment on the secondary for now, because we were looking at a lot of inexperienced guys out there on the boundary. I will say that Justin Coleman looks bad and old and slow; he probably shouldn’t make this team. Promisingly enough, Tariq Woolen got the start on one side and was hit or miss. I say “promisingly” because he was always expected to be more of a project, so the fact that the team trusts him enough to start him right out of the gate is encouraging for his overall talent level. I’ll need to see better ball skills, and turning his head when the ball is in the air, but otherwise there are things to build upon, as well as things to point to and praise. On the other side, we saw a lot of Coby Bryant. I don’t know where he’s ultimately going to end up (if it’s outside or as a nickel guy), but sort of the same deal: some good things to point to, some things for him to work on. You wouldn’t expect either guy to be finished products right out of college, but I like that they both have the trust of these coaches this early in their careers.

That being said, if Sidney Jones and/or Artie Burns continue to be injured throughout this season, we could be looking at significant growing pains from our secondary. Granted, neither of our starting safeties – Quandre Diggs & Jamal Adams – played in this one. Here’s hoping they can paper over where we’re limited on the outside.

Finally, I’ll just say the kicking game looked shaky as hell! Jason Myers doinked one in off the upright and did not look sharp; he was also knocking some kickoffs short, but that may have been by design to test our coverage units (who graded out pretty poorly, in my layman’s opinion). Michael Dickson punted a bunch into the endzone, which is entirely unlike him. I’d say the old line about how it’s pre-season for everyone, including punters, but what else does he do with his time in training camp? He punts! Where’s that magic leg we’ve seen for four years?! That magic leg we’re paying Top-Of-The-Punter-Market prices!

How Good Could The Seahawks Be (Quarterback Aside)?

Don’t get it twisted that I’m sitting here talking myself into the Seahawks making some noise in 2022; they’re not going to contend for shit! But, as an exercise to see my vision through – drafting a franchise quarterback in 2023, setting that player up for success now by building up the team around him a year ahead of time – I think it’s fair to wonder. Now that the draft is behind us, and we can start to piece a roster together, how good is this team at every position other than quarterback?

Let’s start at offensive line, since that was a big emphasis for the Seahawks in this draft. O-Line, as we all know, is vitally important to a team’s chances for success. Especially when you’re talking about breaking in a rookie QB. So, have we done enough?

Obviously, that depends on how these draft picks pan out. But, if they’re as good as a lot of people think they can be, this is going to bode very well for our future. As it stands now, going left to right, we’ve got Charles Cross, Damien Lewis, Austin Blythe, Gabe Jackson, and Abe Lucas. Lewis has two years under his belt, and has performed pretty well when healthy. Blythe comes in with extensive experience in winning programs (including as a former Ram, who this offensive coaching staff knows well), and Jackson is still an in-his-prime starting guard in this league. Either he sticks around, or the Seahawks look to improve at that spot in the draft next year; I’m fine with both scenarios. I think the O-Line has the potential to be very good, creating a nice, soft landing spot for a rookie QB in 2023.

Next, let’s look at weapons. Tyler Lockett is here for the long haul. The team has given every indication that D.K. Metcalf will see a second contract. Freddie Swain has proven to be a competent 3rd/4th/5th receiver. Dee Eskridge and our two rookies this year could be nice gadget players if they stay healthy. That’s a solid group.

Noah Fant is a good tight end, with the potential to be great. He’s right there on the fringe of being a top 10 guy. Will Dissly is the consummate blocking tight end, but he has soft hands and can play down the field. Colby Parkinson hasn’t shown much yet, but his frame should play well around the goalline. I would like to see what he can do when given an opportunity. I think the tight end room is also solid.

Then, we’ve got Kenneth Walker as our potential starting running back. He gets 2022 to play behind Rashaad Penny, giving us a 1-2 punch that could be pretty formidable in the short term. If Walker proves he deserves a shot at being the bellcow, I think he’ll run away with the job in 2023 and beyond. Figure the Seahawks will go back to the running back well in the draft next year, likely selecting a lower-round player to be his backup. There’s a lot that’s up in the air about the running back room right now, but it has the potential to be elite if Walker is The Guy.

As far as weapons go, you could do a helluva lot worse! I think with a year’s experience, that’s about as ideal of a landing spot as any rookie quarterback could find himself in 2023.

But, the real question is: how good could the defense be?

This doesn’t work if the defense isn’t ready to grow into a dominant unit over the next two years. That’ll be what I’m most obsessed about heading into the 2022 regular season. I need to see existing players take huge leaps forward, I need to see rookies develop relatively quickly. I need impact! I need this to be a group that harkens back to the 2011/2012 seasons, when they were clearly ascending.

Let’s go back to front, because I have more confidence in what we’ve done with the secondary.

Between Tre Brown and the two rookies, we need two of those three guys to pan out. My hope is that Brown returns from injury and parlays his brief excellence as a rookie into better things going forward. I’d also bank on Coby Bryant having enough of a chip on his shoulder – and enough skills as a corner – to wrench a job away from Sidney Jones. I’m also not against Jones simply being elite and earning a big money extension, because he’s still pretty young. There are obviously a ton of question marks in this group, but the ceiling is through the roof, and I’m willing to bank on this coaching staff getting the most out of these guys (in ways they thoroughly failed at with Tre Flowers & Co.).

Like it or not, Jamal Adams isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Definitely not before the 2022 season is through. So, he has at least this year to try to prove his worth to this defense. There’s certainly reason for optimism that – from a talent perspective – the coaching staff will find a way to maximize his game. But, can he stay healthy? If this is the third straight year where his season is drastically cut short, then I don’t see how you can keep him in 2023 or beyond. Quandre Diggs, on the other hand, should be a quality contributor for a while, and the younger players behind them (Ugo Amadi, Marquise Blair, Ryan Neal) are quality depth pieces we can roll with in a good defense. I think we’re well set up at Safety, even if the value isn’t there (with our two starters making an insanely high percentage of the salary cap).

Inside linebacker is pretty interesting. I think we’re all pretty happy with Jordyn Brooks and his production on the field. I was of the opinion that it was time to move on from Bobby Wagner, so it’s kind of a no-brainer for Brooks to slide into that spot. But, with the defense expected to be more of a 3-4 look, did we do enough? Are we really going with Cody Barton as the other inside linebacker? Sure, he looked … fine, in limited action towards the end of the season. From a value perspective, he was giving us 80% of Bobby Wagner for a fraction of the price. But, does he really wow you going forward? Is he someone this team would look to re-sign after this season?

I guess we’ll see! Seems to me, there’s no reason NOT to have an open competition at the other inside linebacker spot. Which makes it all the more shocking that the Seahawks didn’t make this position a priority in the draft. The good news is, if everything goes to shit here, they can easily draft one next year and plug him into the starting lineup immediately. Inside linebackers are a dime a dozen.

At outside linebacker/pass rusher, I think it’s fair to doubt the Seahawks completely. I’ll believe it when I see it, for lack of a better phrase. Uchenna Nwosu was the big free agent splash, and he signed a 2-year deal. His season high in sacks is 5.0, which he got last year. He’s a 4-year pro from the Chargers who is more like a veteran prospect than an actual veteran producer. Maybe he wasn’t in the right system? Maybe they didn’t utilize him properly? Maybe he just needed more time to develop? I guess his pressure rate might be better than it looks on the stat sheet, but I’m going to need to see him with my eyes before I can make a proper opinion. Is he a diamond in the rough? Or, is he another Rasheem Green?

Darrell Taylor is our prize. He missed out on his rookie season due to a lingering college injury, but as a second year pro he really stood out. 6.5 sacks in his first healthy season is pretty impressive; THAT’S something to build on. That’s the kind of talent you can see making strides during his rookie contract, unlike Nwosu, who never really put it together with his original team.

Then, there’s guys like Alton Robinson and Boye Mafe. Robinson had 4.0 sacks as a rookie, then regressed to the one sack last year. He might just be rotational filler, and it’s fair to question if he even makes the team. Mafe is a rookie, and unless you’re one of the top two or three in the draft, I never have confidence that lower-rated pass rushers will make an immediate impact. If he gets a few sacks, that’s good. If he gets 6+, that’s a little more encouraging. But, I wouldn’t expect anything like double-digits. He just doesn’t have the skills; it’s a whole new ballgame when you make the leap to the NFL. Mostly, I just hope he stays healthy – especially through training camp and the pre-season – so he can learn on the job as much as possible.

Beyond that, we have to talk about the 3-4 interior linemen. Some of them are considered defensive ends, but they’re “ends” in the way Red Bryant was an end. Shelby Harris came over in the Russell Wilson trade and figures to be a leader on this team. He’s already in his 30’s though, so presumably he’ll need to play well in 2022 to stick around going forward. Quinton Jefferson was signed as veteran depth to compete with L.J. Collier; you figure only one of those guys will make it. Then, there are the tackles, Poona Ford, Bryan Mone, and Al Woods. I like the tackles a lot! Harris is probably the best of the bigger ends we have. This looks like another spot that will need to be addressed after this season. But, as far as run stuffing is concerned, I think these guys are on the better side of average.

The defense is, by no means, a finished product. Far from it. But, you don’t really even have to squint to see where the potential lies. Pass rush is a concern and it always will be. But, I’ll say this about that: if everything else looks good, and if we manage to hit on the rookie quarterback next year, then we can attempt to do what we did in 2013 and sign a couple of quality free agent pass rushers, using all the free money we have laying around by not paying a quarterback at the top of the market. Free agency in 2023 and 2024 could be VERY interesting for the Seahawks, in ways it really hasn’t been since that Super Bowl-winning season.

TL;DR: there’s reason for optimism, but obviously a lot of holes to fill, and a lot of question marks currently on the roster to boot.

OMFG: The Seahawks Cut Bobby Wagner

On the very same day that they traded Russell Wilson, no less!

I’ll be the first to admit I didn’t see this coming. I thought there was no way the Seahawks would cut Bobby Wagner. Those feelings only solidified further after the Wilson trade; it seemed to me – to placate the fanbase, if nothing else – you wouldn’t shed your top two players/leaders in the same offseason, let alone the same calendar day. But, I guess it does make sense when you think about it.

There was no way the Seahawks could go into the 2022 season with Bobby Wagner accounting for over $20 million in cap space. Even bigger fans of Bobby than myself – if they had a rational bone in their bodies – could acknowledge that something needed to give. I believed – as many other bloggers did – that the Seahawks would shoot for an extension. Cut some salary cap for the short term, allow him to make his money, and hope in 2-3 years he retires as a Seahawk.

I had resigned myself to that, even though it’s not what I really wanted. What I wanted is what happened: a clean break. You know what we get in this scenario? We get to say we had a decade’s worth of games by one of the all-time greatest middle linebackers in NFL history. An 8-time Pro Bowler (up to and including his last year here), a 6-time All Pro First Team (including 2020), and a 2-time All Pro Second Team (including 2021). He was a tackling machine up through his final year here, and while there was a slight drop-off in recent seasons – at least, when it comes to highly impactful plays – there was not a significant drop-off in his all-around play. He was elite, he was durable, and he kept this defense afloat when most of the other superstars were jettisoned (or otherwise saw their careers cut short due to injury).

You know what we don’t get in this scenario? We don’t get that ugly drop-off in performance. We don’t get nasty injuries knocking him out of multiple games. We don’t get someone who is so overpaid he’s actually a detriment to a team’s salary cap. Say what you will about him being overpaid (and I have, in recent years), but at least he was out there performing to the best of his abilities. If he’s making north of $10-15 million per year all to sit on the rehab table, that’s a disaster for whatever team he goes to.

We don’t get the fans resenting him; we, as Seahawks fans, got the absolute best years out of Bobby Wagner. He was a model pro and a model citizen. And, to boot, he didn’t force his way out; if anything, we can get mad at the franchise for cutting him.

Is it a year too early? Maybe. But, the point is, it’s not a year too late. I can’t tell you how long I’ve been harping on this to be our motto. The Seahawks have been wildly inconsistent with this tactic in the Pete Carroll/John Schneider era, though, and it’s been frustrating to see. I’m glad we finally got to this point, and I hope to see a lot more of it in the coming years.

Now, we look forward to the Jordyn Brooks era at middle linebacker. He took a major step forward in his development in his second season last year, and now he’s ready to ascend. Brooks was second in the NFL in tackles, playing off of Wagner. It’ll be interesting to see if the Seahawks do slide him over, or if they go out and find another middle linebacker in the draft. Maybe they do both and convert the defense into more of a 3-4 than we’ve seen. That seems to be the belief, anyway, although I think the Twitterati have been over-simplifying things.

I’ve long believed that middle linebacker is a position you can skimp on and be okay. Like running back; find a guy in the draft and keep reloading that way every few years. There’s no need to sign a guy to a huge multi-year extension, especially beyond a second contract. That’s asinine! These guys pop up from out of nowhere all the time.

That’s been the Seahawks’ M.O. since even before the Mike Holmgren days, though. We’ve always managed to develop or acquire quality linebackers (The Boz notwithstanding) and then overpay them unnecessarily (The Boz very much withstanding). I would like to, once and for all, become a team that disregards the position, in favor of spending more along the lines, and at the cornerback spot.

Bobby, I love ya. But, it was time. Considering the Seahawks appear to be going Full Rebuild, I’m sure he’s not that upset. The best way to treat a veteran who has been so elite for you for so long is to let him go, as early as possible, so he can find his next destination. I hope he signs on with a great team and kills it in the years ahead.

The Top 20 Seahawks Of 2021

The theme of this offseason – which I alluded to last Friday, but don’t think I properly answered – is: How Quick Can The Seahawks Get Back To Contending For Championships? Turning things around can be a little nebulous; if by “turning around” you mean getting back to the playoffs, as I’ve said before, we can pretty much run the same team back and hope variance takes care of everything else (on top of a second year with the same coordinator, and a little better injury luck). But, I don’t think very many of us are satisfied with “just making the playoffs”. We’ve been “just making the playoffs” pretty much the entire time Russell Wilson has been in the league! After getting a taste of back-to-back Super Bowls, I think the more hardcore fans are now rabid animals, desperate to get back no matter the cost.

The 2021 Seahawks were a collosal disappointment, no doubt about it. We started the season 3-8, it doesn’t get a whole lot worse than that. We lost to a lot of teams we had no business losing to (the Titans, the Vikings, the Steelers, the Saints, the Football Team, the Bears). Flip half of those games and we’re at 10 wins and in the playoffs. It’s not like we were TERRIBLE though. We finished 7-10 – a record we absolutely deserved – but we’re not in such bad shape that the roster MUST be completely turned over.

I have a list of 20 Seahawks from the 2021 team. I’ve split them into three categories: young rising stars, good guys who would find regular work on other teams, and the cream of the crop established superstars. So, let’s go in that order.

Young, Rising Stars

  • Jake Curhan (RT)
  • Tre Brown (CB)

Most every year, you stumble upon at least a guy or two who comes out of nowhere to really make an impact. Tre Brown was the first one this past season. As a 4th round draft pick, I didn’t expect a whole lot – if anything – from Tre Brown, as a rookie, or really throughout his career. The odds are stacked so far against you as a Day 3 draft pick. You could argue the Seahawks have had a lot of success drafting DBs late, but you could also argue we haven’t done so since 2012 (unless you’re a big Ugo Amadi fan; he’s okay, I guess, but I wouldn’t call him a rousing success). Tre Flowers, Tedric Thompson, Michael Tyson, Tye Smith, etc. are all the Day 3 busts we’ve accumulated since the L.O.B. heyday; I think we’ve proven that we’re not capable of just throwing any ol’ draft pick out there and turning them into studs.

So, yes, Tre Brown was a breath of fresh air! He was aggressive, without being reckless. He fit into the system without giving up huge cushions of yardage pre-snap. And, most importantly, he supplanted Tre Flowers once and for all, allowing us to cut him when he finally ran out of chances to make it in this defense. Which made his injury in November that much more demoralizing, because Brown looked like he’d be a 4-year starter with this team right away. Now, he’s gotta recover from knee surgery, and who knows how long it’ll be until he returns to form, if ever? I’m still holding out hope, though not for a 2022 return.

Jake Curhan, on the other hand, looks like he’s here to stay. He was an undrafted rookie in 2021 who slipped in the draft due to medicals. Those medicals don’t project to be as serious as once thought, and it appears he’ll be able to have a long and fruitful NFL career. He was able to slide into the right tackle spot when Brandon Shell went down with injury, and he really impressed! His pass protection isn’t quite there yet, but it’s not as dire from a tackle as it is with a guard; Russ was able to work with it and get away from a lot of the pressure coming from that side. Curhan’s run blocking proved to be top notch though, so at least he does SOMETHING well! That’s more than we could say for the revolving door that’s been the right tackle spot since Breno Giacomini manned the position. Making it through his rookie season injury-free gives me even more hope as we head into 2022, when he’ll project to take a step forward in his development.

Better Than Replacement-Level Players

  • Gerald Everett (TE) *
  • Damien Lewis (G)
  • Alton Robinson (DE)
  • Poona Ford (DT)
  • Al Woods (DT) *
  • Carlos Dunlap (DE)
  • Bobby Wagner (LB)
  • Sidney Jones (CB) *
  • D.J. Reed (CB) *
  • Rasheem Green (DE) *

I didn’t put these in any particular order, but if I’m being honest, D.J. Reed was the one I was most on the fence about; he might be an elite player, I’d just like to see more than 2 interceptions a year out of an elite corner.

These are all guys who aren’t quite studs, but if we cut them (or they’re free agents, which is what the * represents), I would expect all of these guys to find jobs on other teams. Anyone I didn’t list here, or in the upcoming elite category, are guys who may or may not find work elsewhere, but don’t have a ton of value to an NFL team outside of depth.

These guys, however, are productive enough, but I could probably take ’em or leave ’em. They all have flaws. Everett is a weird headcase who cost us too many yards in stupid fucking penalties (not to mention all the drops). Lewis has run into a string of injuries and doesn’t feel quite as irreplaceable as he was as a promising rookie. Robinson just didn’t take that next step in his second year, finishing with a disappointing number of sacks. Poona and Woods are run-stuffing tackles, there’s a ceiling for what those guys are (and it’s in this category). Dunlap has only showed up for half-a-season in each of his two years here. Wagner’s just flat out lost a step and doesn’t make the same number of impact plays as he did as a young buck. Jones and Reed need to generate more turnovers. And Green is taking his sweet-ass time to really bust out as a force in this league.

Elite Seahawks Studs

  • Russell Wilson (QB)
  • Rashaad Penny (RB) *
  • D.K. Metcalf (WR)
  • Tyler Lockett (WR)
  • Darrell Taylor (LB/DE)
  • Jordyn Brooks (LB)
  • Jamal Adams (S)
  • Quandre Diggs (S) *

Again, no particular order, but Brooks is the one I was most on the fence about. He might just be another guy. But, he led the team in tackles in his second season (his first as a starter), and all the smart football wonks have been praising his play since he started getting in there. There haven’t been a ton of impact plays, but he’s making all the regular ones, and he’s another guy who should continue to improve over the next year or two.

Diggs and Penny both feel like guys who need to be re-signed. It’s tantalizing to envision a scenario where Penny can stay healthy and dominate the league (I’ll be FASCINATED to see where he goes on fantasy football draft boards heading into next year).

Seeing the offensive players on this list, it’s all the more frustrating that we weren’t able to move the football and score as much as we’d like. So many NFL teams would KILL for the type of talent we have at the skill positions. Let’s hope – if things do carry over into 2022 – that it was just an adjustment period to the new offensive coordinator, and we’re now over the hump.

As for the defense, those were some nice players for us (particularly encouraging to see Taylor here, considering this was his first full year, after being injured his entire rookie season), but in order for Taylor to remain on this list, he’s going to have to really turn it up in 2022, and be a kind of Von Miller-like talent off the edge. The Seahawks have been in dire need of that kind of pass rushing monster for years now; if they don’t get it this offseason, then I’d expect more of the same middling finishes for years to come.

We’re not bereft of talent, but obviously you’d like to see more than 8 players in that elite category. I don’t know what it’s going to take to get there, but that feels like a tall ask to do in one offseason.