The Seahawks’ Offense Looked Great As They Trounced The Colts

It’s only one game, so I’ll do my best to not overreact, but that was an impressive Seahawks victory against a pretty good all-around team in Indianapolis. I know everyone likes to crap all over Carson Wentz – and he makes it easy to do sometimes – but he wasn’t the reason why the Seahawks beat the Colts 28-16. Now, granted, he didn’t go out and put his team on his shoulders either; my point is, there’s a great supporting cast around him – on both sides of the ball – plus a coaching staff that’s probably underrated.

And yet, the Seahawks made that win look pretty easy. That was an 11-win team from a season ago, with a stadium full of crazed fans, and the Seahawks had their way with the Colts!

There’s a lot to be impressed with, but I have to start with the offense. That was clearly my biggest worry heading into the season, and while it’s only one game, that’s far and away better than I ever would’ve expected, especially this early in the year. Not only did Russell Wilson rack up 254 yards passing and 4 TDs, not only did the running game generate 140 yards on the ground (with a 5.2 yards per carry average), but we got started right off the bat marching down the field and putting up points. The Seahawks scored touchdowns on their first two drives of the game, and on three of their four first half drives in total.

With the defense doing just enough, that amounted to a 21-10 halftime lead. As opposed to the other way around – which is usually what we get with your average Seahawks game – there was no need to frantically scramble to catch up in the second half. There was no need for the defense to be perfect to allow us to crawl back into the game. We got to be the aggressors on defense in the second half, while slowing things down on offense and running to bleed the clock.

It wasn’t a super-successful effort in the second half. Both teams traded punts and fumbles into the middle of the fourth quarter, but even with some struggles, it always felt like the Seahawks could move the all at will if they really needed to. Which is what they did in zipping down the field to take a 28-10 lead with just under 7 minutes left in the game. The Colts got a garbage-time TD, but that was it.

Wilson, as I noted above, was amazingly efficient (18/23 passing, 11 yards per attempt), hitting receivers on all three levels of the defense. Apparently, the Colts are notorious for suppressing the deep ball, but we still managed a 30 yarder to D.K. and a 69-yard touchdown to Lockett. Both of those receivers were great; Lockett had 4 for 100 and 2 TDs, Metcalf had 4 for 60 with 1 TD. Gerald Everett also got into the action with 2 catches for 20 yards and a TD.

Chris Carson was magnificent, running the ball 16 times for 91 yards; none of the other running backs on the team really did much (Penny ended up leaving with an injury). Carson also caught 3 balls for 26 yards, which is always good to see. The offense in general was humming, particularly at the most important points of the game: right off the bat, and to close it out. You love to see it.

The defense was everything you’ve come to expect from the best version of this era of Seahawks D. The Colts’ running game was held to a 3.8 yards per carry average (helped by 4 Wentz scrambles for 23 yards). Wentz himself was held to a 6.6 yards per attempt average. We were all over him in this one, getting 3 sacks, and pressuring him a lot more on top of that.

Rasheem Green carried over his torrid pre-season; THIS is the guy every Seahawks fan dreamed about when he was originally drafted in 2018. He had 4 tackles (1 tackle for loss), 1 sack, 2 passes defended, and 2 QB hits. Benson Mayowa and Darrell Taylor each chipped in with 2 tackles, a sack, and 2 QB hits. And Bobby Wagner and Jordyn Brooks led the team in tackles with 13 and 11 respectively.

I didn’t notice a lot from the secondary, either good or bad, which is probably as good as we can hope for right now. We weren’t torched, obviously, but I also don’t see any passes defended in the stat sheet (nor any picks, for that matter). Of course, the Colts are pretty depleted in their wide receiver room, so this was a nice, soft landing for our cornerbacks as we try to figure out the best combination of starters going forward.

Overall, I’m pretty happy with how this game went! It’s always nice to feel comfortable and not have to panic for three straight hours. The Seahawks usually take years off of our lives; in this one I think they finally put some years back on.

Seahawks Position Breakdown 2021: Linebackers

You hear a good amount of comparisons to the 2012-2014 Seahawks defenses around these parts. When things are looking bad, people lament the good old days. When we get a new member of the secondary, people instinctively compare them to the Hall of Famers of that era. And, when the defense as a whole looks good, people like to say, “This is the best Seahawks defense since 2013!” In fact, people are saying that about the depth along the defensive line – particularly from a pass rush standpoint – right this very season!

You know what those 2012-2014 Seahawks had that we might also have again in 2021? Some elite-level linebackers that are criminally overlooked.

What did we talk about in 2013? We talked first about the L.O.B. Of course. Two of the best safeties in the game, probably the best cornerback alive at the time, and whoever else was on the other side keeping up his end of the bargain. Next, we talked about the NASCAR pass rush, led by the likes of Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril, but continuing on down to the last DL on the roster, as everyone contributed! But, who was overlooked? The dynamic duo of Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright, in their second and third seasons, respectively.

Well, Bobby Wagner is still here, and he’s no young pup anymore, but he’s still playing at a high level. Maybe not the same level he was in his prime, but the dropoff hasn’t been too severe. Unfortunately, there’s no room at the inn for K.J. Wright, as he just signed with the Raiders. In his place, we have first round draft pick Jordyn Brooks, who looked good as a rookie, got a lot of playing time towards the end of the season, and appears to have taken the next step in – this – his second season.

Jordyn Brooks is exciting! He’s fast and instinctive and looks like the real deal. He might be the best linebacker in his draft class (who isn’t exclusively a pass rusher). I’m thrilled the Seahawks gave him the starting job – even though it sucks to see K.J. Wright go, because he was still playing at a high level and it’s criminal he was unemployed for as long as he was – and I can’t wait to see what he does.

Then, there’s Darrell Taylor, getting a shot to be this team’s SAM linebacker. I don’t know if he’s the best man for the job right now (again, when K.J. Wright was still just sitting there for the entire offseason, having exceeded expectations at SAM last year), but he very well could develop into a force for this defense. At the very least, it’s easy to see from the pre-season games alone why the Seahawks have been so high on him. His build and athleticism appear to be off the charts; when he gets his first sack in a Seahawks uniform, the Pacific Northwest might explode.

There’s no doubt about it, though, the linebacker depth took a hit. Losing BBK costs us not only a valuable special teams ace, but also a cheap veteran who’s been in the system since his rookie year and could’ve very capably filled in for injuries, should they have come up (which they always do).

Cody Barton, however, has ascended into a fringe-level starter who we have the luxury of being our backup at every linebacker spot. He, as with BBK, has been in the system since his rookie season, and he’s always been a step or two ahead of BBK the entire way. This pre-season, he looked like he was playing a different game than the rest of the backups around him, making plays all over the field. This bodes well if we have ONE injury in our starting linebacker corps. But, if we have TWO or more injuries, I don’t know if I trust anyone behind him at this point.

Nick Bellore is our hybrid fullback/linebacker, and he looked okay. But, I don’t think you want him starting an extended number of games for you. If he has to go in for a few plays here and there, he’d probably be fine. But, I think his lack of athleticism would get exposed the more teams can game-plan against him. If BBK were still here, I wouldn’t mind Bellore as a sixth guy. But, as the fifth guy? That’s a little scary.

I’ve also heard reports of Alton Robinson getting some snaps at SAM linebacker. Both he and Taylor seem better suited to strictly being the defensive end, but you can only have so many DE’s on the field at one time, and SAM is a way to fudge that a little bit. Sometimes SAM linebackers rush the passer, but usually more often they have to go out in patterns and cover running backs or maybe even tight ends. Nothing I’ve seen leads me to believe Robinson or Taylor are going to be as good as Bruce Irvin was in the role. But, we’ll see! Both are young and athletic enough, maybe they can grow into the position!

If healthy, I think the linebackers are an A-, with the potential to elevate to an A grade if Taylor really explodes onto the scene. This group probably falls to a B- or so if there are any injuries to Wagner or Brooks. Further injuries, obviously, plummet the grade even deeper. Mostly, my feeling on the linebackers is that I don’t have to worry about them too much. Packaged with the defensive line (which I’ll write about next week), I think this front seven will be among the greatest in the NFL. That’s all I can really ask for.

The Seahawks Looked Dreadful In A Pre-Season Loss To The Broncos

In yet another game where no starters played, we saw an offense that couldn’t do a God damn thing, and a defense that was somehow both better and worse than it was a week ago. Again, I don’t know what you can glean from a performance like this, other than the depth on the Seahawks might be a HUGE problem. Don’t get injured, good starters!

On top of Wilson taking another week off, the Seahawks also kept Geno Smith safely stashed on the sidelines. Alex McGough got the start and had three horrific turnovers in his half of play; clearly not a great way to stay on this particular team. Sean Mannion looked marginally better by comparison, but averaged a measly 5.1 yards per attempt against Broncos 3rd and 4th stringers, so …

Still nothing from the running game. 74 total yards on 24 carries. Still no real standouts in the passing game, as the ball was spread to 12 different receivers.

On defense, I don’t know how you can heap too much praise on a unit that gave up 30 points. Sure, McGough (and some shaky O-Line play) put us behind the 8-ball in some of those drives. But the Broncos were allowed to convert 3/4 fourth down plays; the Seahawks, by comparison, converted 0/4 fourth downs.

I saw Jordyn Brooks make some nice plays. Nick Bellore is a fun story: a fullback playing significant linebacker minutes. Rasheem Green had another sack and looked pretty active. I think our defensive tackle rotation – particularly from a run stuffing perspective – will be a big strength when we settle on the three or four primary guys.

The secondary looked pretty weak. That’s, obviously, a big concern. It’s less of a concern when our defensive line does its job and harasses the quarterback. But, when our guys get stuffed, we’re going to need the cornerbacks to actually cover guys and make plays on the ball. I don’t know if they’re talented enough to do that. I don’t think any of the cornerbacks who played on Saturday are starting calibre. Considering D.J. Reed appears to be the only guy worth a damn – and he’s out with injury – that’s pretty scary as a Seahawks fan. Are we SURE Richard Sherman is a no-go this season? We couldn’t sign him to an incentive-laden deal based on games played?

The Player of the Game, non-Michael Dickson Edition, was DeeJay Dallas. He had two phenomenal kickoff returns, including one that went 45 yards. When you combine that with his 3 catches for 27 yards, he looked like one of the VERY few players on the Seahawks who belonged on an NFL field. He looked fast! So much improvement over a season ago! It makes me wonder if he hasn’t earned a leapfrog over Rashaad Penny (who managed all of 8 rushing yards on 5 carries).

As for Dickson himself, the turnovers prevented us from punting as much as we’d like (WHAT A SENTENCE TO WRITE!), but he had a long of 61 yards and landed both of his kicks inside the 20 yard line. MVP, baby!

The Seahawks Kicked Off The Pre-Season With A Pointless Loss To The Raiders

What do you learn when you play a game sans all of your stars against a team sans all of their stars? I reckon you learn that everything about the pre-season is meaningless and anyone who tries to attach importance to these games is deluding themselves. Game reps in fake games that don’t count are pretty much useless and all of the actual preparation for the regular season takes place in training camp and daily practices.

With all of that being said: here are a bunch of words about last Saturday’s pre-season game in Las Vegas.

First of all, boy was I happy to have DVR’d it and waited to watch it until Sunday afternoon! It was pretty clear that the refs were in pre-season form as well, taking FOR-E-VER on a few calls that would have certainly enraged me had I not been able to fast-forward through all the nonsense.

Second of all, to the people who always badmouthed Brock Huard’s color commentary, you can all go get fucked. I know you have no power over hiring and firing, and there were most likely other reasons why he’s no longer doing pre-season games with Curt Menefee (who is also awesome), but now you see how bad these broadcasts can be. Dave Wyman is a nice guy, probably, but MAN does he stink in the booth! He had very little insight to bring to the game, and he was breaking his back trying to find ways to praise all things Seahawks. I know the team controls the tone of the pre-season broadcasts, and it’s obviously one long infomercial to get people to buy tickets and generally buy-in to the Seahawks’ doings this season, but there’s a way to be friendly towards the home team while at the same time acknowledging when certain guys fuck up. I’m going to need to be VERY drunk to be able to enjoy Wyman’s blatherings next weekend.

Anyway, I took some notes on various players I saw who stood out. Some were good, some were not.

I managed to avoid any Twitter recaps of the game, so I’m largely in the dark about the number of snaps guys got. It did appear that Stone Forsythe – the rookie left tackle selected in this year’s sixth round – played the whole game (or, at least, most of it). This was due to Duane Brown’s hold out (though, of course, he never would’ve seen action in this game anyway), and all the injuries to the tackles behind him in the depth chart (notably Cedric Ogbuehi). Frankly, I was happy to see Forsythe get as much playing time as he got! Of course, there were lots of plays where he stood out negatively – especially in the early going – but I’d be curious to know what the team thought of his performance overall. I got the sense that he started to settle down a little bit. I mean, let’s face it, with this game being handed to the three backup quarterbacks, it’s not like there was much hope for us to move the ball all that well anyway.

That being said, BOY did the offense look like a bummer! A 20-7 defeat will be like that, I suppose. 3 drives and 3 punts in the first half. A touchdown drive to start the second half, followed by a missed field goal, two more punts, and an end-of-game drive that did nothing.

I’ll say this about Stone Forsythe before moving on: I hope he learned a lot and improves dramatically by next week, but I also hope that someone better than him returns from injury to help us out. Especially if Russell Wilson ends up getting ANY playing time whatsoever in this pre-season. Is it possible to hold Wilson out entirely? You know what? Why don’t we just do that. Wilson does NOT need the pre-season to get ready for the regular season; he can be just as effective getting his reps in practice, when he’s got the red jersey on and there is little-to-no chance of him getting injured by an opposing defenseman.

I’ll also say this: I have no interest whatsoever in Geno Smith being part of this team. Here’s the deal, you can’t be a statue back there. No offensive line is good enough to protect someone like Geno Smith, let alone the line we’ll be running out there, that has the potential for holes galore! Trying to envision the Seahawks coping with a Wilson injury for a few weeks is giving me flashbacks to all of those terrible Seahawks quarterbacks of the early-to-mid 90’s. Does anyone remember how bad we were in 1992? That was an all-time terrible offense, and that’s what we’d be with Geno Smith at the helm.

I’m not saying Alex McGough is a savior, or even a diamond in the rough, but at least there’s some juice! He scrambled 3 times for 25 yards; those are the kinds of plays that MIGHT keep us competitive in games until Wilson returned from a hypothetical injury. Geno Smith, on the other hand, is always going to throw short of the sticks and need everything to go perfectly for him to move the ball with any consistency. I’ll pass. Even for a backup, I don’t think he’s in the top half of all #2’s. And that’s saying something.

On the flipside, the defense was predictably soft in the early going. Nathan Peterman got pretty much all the playing time for the Raiders at quarterback, and he looked pretty great (save one interception)! That’s all you need to know about how mediocre the Seahawks were. He would’ve looked even better, but the Raiders built a 13-0 halftime lead and mostly ran out the clock in the second half, knowing they didn’t need to do much to win it.

If you could’ve bet on the Raiders scoring a TD on the first drive of the pre-season, that would’ve been easy money; I seem to remember our defense being similarly soft in LAST year’s pre-season. And, of course, by that I mean 2019’s pre-season, because there wasn’t any pre-season in 2020 thanks to COVID. Let’s go to the tape! Damn, I was close, but it was actually a field goal. Still, they marched right down the field – inside of our 10-yard line – so I’ll take it.

Starting the season off softly is a Seahawks defensive specialty. Bend, don’t break, but also sometimes break; I think Ken Norton has that written on a wall somewhere in his office.

Of course, a lot of starters were sitting out. No Jamal Adams (for obvious reasons), no Bobby Wagner (who was seen wearing a face mask on the sidelines; it’s sadly predictable if he’s one of the reasons why we won’t be 100% vaccinated this season), no Carlos Dunlap, no Poona Ford (I think). I’m sure there are some others I’m missing. Anyway, that having been said, there’s really no excuse for Peterman to be so dominant. He should suck against even our fourth stringers! That’s how inept he is.

We saw Tre Flowers give up another long pass completion. Wyman tried to praise him for not drawing a penalty – we’re really going to give kudos for THAT now? Is that how low the bar is for this Everyone Gets A Trophy generation? – but he never looked back for the ball! You can’t be a starting cornerback in this league and be afraid to turn your head back to the quarterback! Nevertheless, I don’t recall him giving up any other big deep balls, so I don’t know how Flowers was overall. He could’ve held his own except for that one play, but given his track record, all we’re going to focus on IS that one play. It’s his fourth year in the league, if he hasn’t figured it out by now, he never will. I’m okay with hanging onto him for the rest of his rookie contract, but beyond that it’s time to let him go and find someone to take his place for 2022 and beyond.

Another guy heading into his fourth year is Rasheem Green, but boy did he look okay! Everyone’s down on him, for obvious reasons. He was a third round draft pick in 2018, and even though he was young, the potential was always there for him to fill out his body and turn into someone special. That has decidely NOT come to pass. 7 career sacks in 36 career games. He’s got Just A Guy written all over him. But, in this game, he looked as close to being a “force” as you could get, collapsing the pocket, harassing the quarterback, etc. I’m almost positive he’ll be on the team this year regardless, so it would be nice if he could chip in with some impact plays every once in a while.

Jordyn Brooks got a lot of run as the de-facto leader of the defense (again, with all the starters sitting out), and he looked active! I don’t know if he was super effective, but he was running around and appeared to be making plays, so that’s a fun sign. I thought all the linebackers looked pretty good! People talk shit about BBK like it’s going out of style, but he had that great goalline play to stuff the quarterback sneak (and almost ripped the ball from his arms in the process). And Cody Barton and Darrell Taylor both looked solid as well. Overall, I’m exceedingly pleased with the linebacker depth on this team, and see no need for the Seahawks to re-sign K.J. Wright, especially at the salary cap number he’s demanding.

I’ll also shout out Alton Robinson, who looks like the good version of what we hoped Rasheem Green would’ve been. In only his second season, it seems like Robinson will not only be a major factor in the defensive end rotation, but he’ll maybe even fight to be one of the top guys! I don’t know who plays what spot, or if he’s blocked by Dunlap or something, but the more the merrier, that’s what I say!

I thought the goalline and redzone defense in general looked pretty solid. That’s a good sign for when the starters all start playing again. This defense is never going to be what it was in 2012-2014, but compared to the latter-day Seahawks defenses, the 2021 incarnation might be one of the best! I hope we get to see it at its full potential, with our stars healthy and actively playing under contracts that are fair to both them and the team.

As for the offense, with the O-Line kind of a mess, and no competent quarterback play to speak of, it was hard to see much of anything from the skill position guys. The running game never got into a groove, and our top three running backs were all held out. That left DeeJay Dallas, who looked better than expected running the ball. 5 carries for 24 yards isn’t nothing! He also had the play of the game, catching a wide open swing route and taking it to the house for a 43-yard touchdown. I like Dallas! I’m glad he upped his game and I hope to see more of this as the season progresses!

Finally, as you might expect, Michael Dickson was the MVP of the game. 5 punts, a long of 62 yards, with three of them landing inside the opposing 20 yard line. With Jason Myers missing a 50-yard field goal, Dickson was the best thing going on Special Teams.

K.J. Wright Won’t Be Giving The Seahawks A Hometown Discount

I believe these were sentiments Wright brought up a couple years ago when he was a free agent, and I think he’s done multiple interviews recently – as, again, a free agent – telling people that he won’t be giving the Seahawks a deal when it comes to re-signing K.J. Wright. To which I reply … okay?

Look, I know the coaching staff and front office have their guys that they love to death. Leadership, performance on the field, who they are as people, all of it is top notch. But, at some point, you have to pull the plug and move on with your life. I appreciate that he’s letting the team – and, by extension, the fans – know where he stands. I think that sort of honest and open communication is important; don’t leave it up to assumptions. I don’t care who you are, people prefer to be optimistic; they’re always hoping beyond hope for the ideal circumstances to come to pass. Reality, more often than not, gets in the way of that. The reality here is: K.J. Wright will be 32 years old next season. It will be his 11th year in the league. He’s been very durable and very good at his job to date. There are only so many more years left in him where he’ll be playing at such a high level, so this could very well be his final opportunity to get paid a significant amount of money. He SHOULD try to squeeze every last dollar out of his NFL career while the getting’s good!

And the Seahawks SHOULD NOT be the team that helps him along that path.

Fuck it, man: linebackers are a dime a dozen, there I said it! I would rather the Seahawks play nobody but guys on rookie deals at those three spots for the rest of my football-viewing life, as opposed to giving ANYONE a second contract, let alone a third or fourth one. Because, for starters, with defenses needing to be in Dime defense so often (usually 2/3 of the time at a minimum), you’re much more likely to only need two linebackers as opposed to three! We’re already paying Bobby Wagner at the top of the middle linebacker market, now we’re supposed to pay upwards of $10 million per year to keep K.J. Wright around on top of that? When we JUST drafted Jordyn Brooks to be his replacement? When we previously drafted Cody Barton and Ben Burr-Kirven the year prior? When we can go on the scrap heap at any time and sign a competent free agent for the bare minimum? I mean, what are we doing here?! What are we talking about here?!

I say this all the time, but I’ll say it again: the Seahawks are not flush with cash. The Seahawks are also riddled with holes to fill. And, as I’ve mentioned, just bringing back the same guys from last year isn’t going to be enough to push this team over the hump.

Let’s really look at that last part, because more than anything I’m afraid this is where we’re headed. It is RARE for a team to only need to keep its guys intact and either be as good or better than they were the previous season. If you look at the Chiefs, for instance, they won a Super Bowl and largely just kept the team the same (with draft picks and small signings filling in the cracks here and there); they were able to make it BACK to the Super Bowl, but of course, lost to Tampa. Even THAT loaded team, with the best quarterback alive, couldn’t win back-to-back titles.

Now, look at the 2020 Seahawks. 12-4, NFC West Champs … lost in the Wild Card round at home to a divisional rival. A rival who, not for nothing, got significantly better by trading Jared Goff for Matthew Stafford (and whose only significant loss to date was having their Passing Game Coordinator – a made-up title for a coach who does next-to-nothing – go to the Seahawks to run the offense). If we run THAT Seahawks team back again in 2021 somehow, you’re still talking about a squad that almost certainly won’t be a legitimate Super Bowl contender. The Seahawks need to get BETTER, not stay the same.

For the sake of argument, are there any opportunities for the Seahawks currently under contract to get better on their own? I’m sure I’ll enjoy what Damien Lewis looks like in year two, since he was so great as a rookie. There could be some defensive linemen who continue to incrementally improve. The offense – under a new scheme – will hopefully make things easier for everyone on that side of the ball.

But, if I’m being honest, I think the biggest leap in production might come from the aforementioned Jordyn Brooks! He showed a lot of improvement as his rookie season went along, to the point where he had supplanted Wright in the base defense. I would like to see what Brooks is able to do with the job full-time, with the knowledge he has from a year in the league, and the growth he’ll show by being comfortable in being a professional.

As far as I’m concerned, the $10 million (or whatever) that Wright is looking for: that’s money that can be used to sign other guys. Between that, the money we get for converting Russell Wilson’s base salary into a signing bonus, and maybe reworking a few other deals, that should be enough to fill the holes we REALLY need to fill. Along the offensive and defensive lines, as well as tight end (apparently).

It’s a cliché in the NFL because it’s true: it’s better to give up on someone a year too early rather than a year too late. Extending Wright yet again feels like a “year too late” proposition that I would rather not see come to fruition. So, let him go get his money. Apparently there are Seahawks fans out there who cringe at the notion of Wright in another team’s uniform. I am decidedly NOT one of those fans. It will be a bummer, but I’m smart enough to know this is a business. And in business, you have to take emotion out of it.

Seahawks Death Week: Guys To Cut Or Let Walk

I’ve ranted and raved (mostly just ranted, while offending poor Shrimpy), and I’ve talked about why the Seahawks are not likely to be blown up (but probably should be). Now, let’s get down to brass tacks and talk specific guys I never want to see again in a Seahawks uniform (unless it’s as a civilian raising the 12th Man Flag one day).

So, here’s the deal: the 2021 NFL salary cap is projected to be approximately $176 million. The 2020 cap was an all-time high of approximately $198 million. It had been going up – since 2013 – $10 million to $12 million per year, with no end in sight given how profitable the league is in the United States and increasingly around the world. It’s the top-rated program on television, generating tons of ad revenue, which makes the rights deals with networks astronomical, and all teams share in the profits (making the NFL, essentially, a socialist entity, and a large percentage of its fans supporters of socialism in a way; but that’s neither here nor there). However, given the pandemic (and the lack of fans allowed to attend games in person), a serious chunk of revenue was lost for the 2020 season (and possibly part of the 2021 season, depending on how the vaccine rollout goes). As such, every team lost approximately $22 million dollars to spend on players.

This hurts a team like the Seahawks more than most. Ever since, probably, 2015 or so, the Seahawks have been up against the salary cap limit every single year. NFL teams can roll over any unspent cap money into the following year; we haven’t been able to do that, since we’re paying our existing players (and a small number of former players) all of that money. With our superstar players – Russell Wilson, obviously, at the top – accounting for such a high percentage of our salary cap, the Seahawks have had to make due by filling out the bottom two thirds of our roster with rookies and veterans making the minimum.

At the time of this writing, the Seahawks’ salary cap figure for 2021 already sits at approximately $162 million of our projected $176 million. That accounts for 35 players under contract, when we have to fill out a regular season roster of 53 players, plus a practice squad (somewhere between 10-16 players, depending on what the league decides in the offseason), plus money left over for replacement players making the league minimum when our regular roster guys hit the Injured Reserve.

Clearly, moves will need to be made. Players will need to be cut. And, 2020 guys whose contracts have expired will be thanked for their services and allowed to sign elsewhere. The following are the guys I hope – as I said before – to never see again on a playing field with the Seattle Seahawks.

I don’t have a lot of cuts. Really, it’s probably just one guy: Bobby Wagner. So, let’s start there.

Wagner is set to count over $17 million against our cap in 2021. He also just earned his sixth First Team All Pro honor. So, why would you cut a guy playing at such a high level? Well, I would argue the eye test says he’s on the downside of his career, and he’s only going to get worse from here. If we cut him now, it’s only $7.5 million in dead money we have to endure, which is nearly $10 million in savings (minus whatever minimal amount we’d pay to whoever replaces him on the roster). I would argue, given how cash-strapped we are, we HAVE to cut Wagner, just to fill out our roster! But, I would also argue that the difference between Wagner and a replacement-level player (or Wagner and Jordyn Brooks, if he happens to slide over to the middle linebacker spot) is not as great as you’d think. It’s certainly not worth the extra $10 million we’d be paying a 31 year old Wagner.

Unfortunately, what with him being a surefire NFL Hall of Famer and a guy whose jersey number the Seahawks will surely retire one day, I don’t see that happening. Maybe AFTER the 2021 season – when the dead cap figure is only $3.75 million – but even then, who knows? It could get REALLY frustrating trying to root for this guy the next couple years; here’s to hoping that the Seahawks do the smart thing – the unemotional thing – and let us all go out on a high note, rather than letting the relationship sour like so many others before (Earl Thomas, Richard Sherman, Michael Bennett, Kam Chancellor, Cliff Avril – the last two due to career-ending injuries, but still a financial drain to this organization).

Two other candidates are Carlos Dunlap and Duane Brown. Dunlap has zero dead money counting against our cap if we cut him; otherwise, if his contract remains as is, he would be worth a hair over $14 million. That, obviously, isn’t happening. Not to say he isn’t worth it! He really changed the face of this defense when he came over from the Bengals! But, that price is too high for our cap. What I think will happen – given that Dunlap will only be 32 and still highly productive – is that the Seahawks will tear up the contract and sign him to a 3-year deal that’s team-friendly in the first year, with a significant guarantee for 2022, and a signing bonus that can be spread out over the life of the deal (maybe tacking on a non-guaranteed 4th year to make the salary cap right).

As for Brown, he’ll be entering the final year of his extension that would count $13 million against us (with only $2 million in dead money if we cut him). This is another guy I don’t think we can afford to leave as is and let his contract play out. He’ll be 36 years old next year. Now, he too played at a pretty high level in 2020, but if you saw what I saw in that playoff game – with how much difficulty he had in just getting up off the turf and moving around – you’d see a guy who’s not long for this league. At the very least, he’s not someone who will be playing at a high level for very much longer. He’s one knee injury away from his career being over, and that injury could come at any time. The problem is, we have no viable replacement on our roster. Anyone we do have is either injury prone or terrible (particularly as a left tackle). We could sign someone for cheap, but we’ve done that before (in the period post-Russell Okung to pre-Duane Brown, most recently) and it never works out. We could draft someone, but considering we hardly have any draft picks at all – and the ones we do have are QUITE low – anyone we ended up bringing in would be worse than the crappy veterans at our disposal.

Quite frankly, from a talent standpoint, we’re at least a year away from replacing Brown (and that’s assuming we manage to draft his replacement THIS year and hope that guy develops in a hurry). I don’t know what the plan with him was heading into 2020, but I don’t think it was to make him a cap casualty by 2021. On the contrary, I think the Seahawks are setting up to give him yet another extension, for a year or two beyond 2021, which I am absolutely dreading. But, if we want any hope whatsoever to contend next season, we’ll need to pray he can hang on.

***

I’ll close this post with a list of the no-brainers, but first here are some of the … brainers, I guess.

K.J. Wright had a fantastic 2020 season. He’s had a fabulous Seahawks career since we drafted him in 2011! But, he counted $10 million against us this year and that’s just not anywhere near a figure we can approach in 2021. Since I have no belief that the Seahawks will do the right thing with Wagner, then they MUST cut the cord with Wright and make Brooks a full-time linebacker in his second season out of college. Otherwise, why the fuck did you draft him so high in the first place?

Chris Carson’s rookie deal just expired. I won’t say he’s shot, but he’s never NOT going to be injury-prone! Considering how great he’s been when healthy, he’s going to demand a high salary; but since he can’t stay healthy, it makes no sense to pay him that, when we can get similar production from a cheaper guy (who hopefully will be able to stay on the field). I would also say that Carson – while building his reputation as a guy who sought out contact – spent the majority of his time (when he returned from injury this past season) avoiding contact and running out of bounds. Not that I blame him, mind you! He’s gotta get his! But, he’s obviously not the same type of guy when he’s avoiding defenders.

Ethan Pocic earned a little over $1 million as this team’s starting center in the final year of his rookie deal. Presumably, he’ll be looking for a raise if he re-signs. Since he STUNK against the Rams – and since he was average-at-best in all the other games – I see no reason why we couldn’t draft a guy (or even bring in an undrafted free agent) to be our starting center next year.

Shaquill Griffin’s final season under his own rookie deal just expired. He’s a good-not-great coverage corner with little-to-no ball skills and hardly any interceptions on his resume. Nevertheless, he’s going to be looking for a contract near the top of the market (not in the top tier, but definitely in the one right below it). That hypothetically could work under our cap – since the first year of any extension is relatively cheap, with most of the money being back-loaded – but considering the guys we have to pay, and also factoring in an extension for Jamal Adams, I don’t see how the Seahawks fit him in. We have D.J. Reed at less than $1 million, plus Tre Flowers if we have to start him again. I think we’ll get by.

David Moore just earned $1 million in 2020, and that was money well spent. I could see him commanding more money on the open market, and I don’t see why we should be the team to give it to him, since we have Freddie Swain on a rookie contract. For a third/fourth receiver? There are other ways to go.

This probably should go without saying, but I’m going to say it anyway because I feel like it needs to be said: LET GREG OSLEN GO INTO BROADCASTING! Fucking $7 million dollars (*shaking head*).

Jacob Hollister was tendered and kept on at over $3 million. That was unnecessary, and will be even MORE unnecessary in 2021. We have Will Dissly, Colby Parkinson (who we drafted relatively highly in 2020), and any number of youngish guys, as well as Luke Willson (who is always partying on the scrap heap, just waiting for us to bring him back). We don’t use the tight end enough to justify paying as much money as we do on it, not when we mostly need it for blocking purposes. Blocking tight ends are – like linebackers and running backs – another dime-a-dozen position group.

Finally, here are the guys who it should go without saying that we should let walk:

Mike Iupati – great career, but you’re done.

Quinton Dunbar – bust of a trade acquisition, bust of a player, bust of a human being (even if he wasn’t convicted of anything, he still probably did something sketchy).

Lano Hill – please, no more.

Neiko Thorpe – a once-great special teams ace who can’t stay healthy. Salud.

Phillip Dorsett – a nice idea as a free agent, but he never played a down. Wide receivers need healthy feet to be worth a damn.

Looking At Some Of The Impactful 2020 Seahawks Additions

Football teams have a number of players who carry over from year to year – you always try to do whatever you can to keep your very best players at your most important positions – but for the most part teams are constantly evolving. You need an influx of fresh blood every season if your goal is to improve; rare is the team that just tries to hold onto the players they’ve already got (even then, that only lasts about a year or so before the salary cap constraints force you to start the inevitable churn). So much of a team’s success depends on the quality of those incoming players (and the relative health of your best guys), that it can be easy to overlook their accomplishments.

The 2019 Seahawks were a pleasant surprise that made the playoffs, but they were never really serious contenders for the Super Bowl. The 2020 Seahawks have been a pleasant surprise that has already locked up the NFC West; it’s debatable if this team can contend for a Super Bowl, but it’s inarguable that these Seahawks are better than the ones from a season ago. So, let’s take a look at – and try to rank in order of their impact – the new guys who have pushed us a little further over the hump.

In honor of the 12’s, let’s talk about the Top 12 most impactful newcomers. As you’ll see, they’re not all technically new to the team, but I’m also including guys who were holdovers who hardly played at all before this year. Before we get to the Top 12, here are a few honorable mentions:

Snacks Harrison was a guy a lot of people talked about in the run-up to the season, as a potential free agent signee. But, run defense has never really been our problem, and that’s what he does best as a run-stuffing defensive tackle. Yet, we got him back into shape midseason, and he played quite well in Bryan Mone’s absence. With Mone back, Snacks sadly asked for his release; it’s a shame there wasn’t room for him in the rotaton. Freddie Swain is a rookie 6th round wide receiver I had ZERO expectations for, but he’s had a quietly nice season (13 catches, 159 yards, and 2 TDs). As a fourth receiver new to the NFL, I’ll take it. Greg Olsen is an overpaid veteran tight end who has nevertheless been a contributor. He’s still not worth the money it cost to get him here, and he did miss a few games with a foot injury, but he worked his way back for the playoff run, and has had some nice catches on third downs to keep the chains moving (24 for 239 on the season, with 1 TD). Finally, Ugo Amadi just misses the cut. He was a rookie last year, but he wasn’t trusted with much playing time on defense. He’s stepped into a nickel cornerback role we all figured he’d be well-suited for, and he’s been great! With two more years of team control on his rookie deal, Amadi is looking like a real find for us.

12 – Ryan Neal

If I wanted to pull a cop-out move, I would’ve had Amadi and Neal tied for 12th, but then that would’ve made this a Top 13 list, and that’s just … unlucky! I put Neal just inches higher than Amadi because he REALLY came from out of nowhere to help this team out when we were in a real jam! Allegedly, Neal was on the Seahawks in 2019, but I couldn’t tell you a single thing about what he accomplished. I think he was either a practice squad guy, or one of the very lowest men on the totem pole, and that continued into the 2020 season. But, then Marquise Blair and Lano Hill – our #3 and #4 safeties – went out with injury early this season. That bumped Neal up to #3 on the depth chart, which ultimately thrust him into a starting role when Jamal Adams (spoiler alert, he ranks VERY high on this list) was out for his own injuries for a few weeks. Neal not only held his own, but he has made huge impactful plays nearly every game he’s stepped onto the field! He had picks in back-to-back games and has had lots of huge hits. It’s comforting knowing he’s around to fill in as needed.

11 – Alton Robinson

Speaking of another rookie I didn’t expect ANYTHING out of, let me introduce you to our 5th round defensive end. Remember how everyone thought Darrell Taylor (our 2nd rounder) would be the guy from this draft class to step in immediately to make an impact? Well, Taylor has yet to get healthy enough to play (and almost certainly will be held out for the entirety of his rookie season); meanwhile, Robinson has been thrust into a reserve pass rush role and has 4 sacks on the season! That’s great! Not for nothing, but our leading sacker in 2019 also had 4 sacks, which gives you an idea of what we thought of our pass rush heading into this year.

10 – L.J. Collier

Here’s another holdover who did nothing as a rookie last year. Collier has gotten plenty of snaps at both defensive end and tackle, and while he hasn’t flashed as you’d hope a first round draft pick might, he has 3 sacks on the year and a number of other impactful plays along the line of scrimmage, to be significantly better than the bust I was ready to label him as. I can’t say the sky is the limit, but getting even just competent play out of him is better than nothing.

9 – Carlos Hyde

With Rashaad Penny starting the year on the PUP list, and with Chris Carson as our injury-prone starting running back, the Seahawks were in need of a quality backup. Hyde was on the market and got a fair market value. I don’t know if he’s exceeded expectations – because he’s always been a pretty good and underrated running back – but he’s met them, and that’s enough. 356 rushing yards (4.4 average), plus another 93 receiving yards on 16 receptions (and 4 touchdowns) is everything I wanted out of him, especially since he was solid while Carson was out with his annual injury.

8 – Ethan Pocic

Here’s another guy who hadn’t done ANYTHING with the Seahawks since we drafted him in the 2nd round in 2017. Finally healthy, and finally playing his strongest position – center – he was a surprise winner of the job over incoming free agent B.J. Finney. Not only has he taken the job and ran with it, but he afforded the Seahawks an opportunity to trade Finney away for even more talent (coming up later in this post).

7 – Jordyn Brooks

Our top draft pick this year was a surprise to many. No one thought the Seahawks needed a weakside linebacker, especially considering we’ve had one of the best in K.J. Wright since the 2011 season. Nevertheless, Wright is getting up there and is in one of his final seasons. In spite of that, the first round seems kinda high to draft a linebacker, but Brooks has quietly been one of the best rookie linebackers in the league, and he’s really thrived of late now that he’s starting. On top of which, he’s allowed the team to move Wright to the strongside linebacker spot, where he has been KILLING IT! That’s been vital since Bruce Irvin – brought in to fill that role – has been lost for the season. Brooks looks like a solid starter for us for years to come, which is very encouraging to see as a rookie.

6 – Benson Mayowa

He would be higher if he hadn’t missed those games with his injury, but he has 4 sacks on the year and as part of this MUCH improved pass rushing rotation, his pressure rate is off the charts. When he was forced to play a high percentage of defensive snaps early in the season, he was far less effective, but with the emergence of those around him, they’ve afforded the Seahawks the opportunity to keep Mayowa to his part time role where he’s best suited.

5 – D.J. Reed

He would also be much higher if he hadn’t missed so many weeks with his offseason injury. But, the Seahawks are INCREDIBLY lucky to have him, and if we were basing these rankings off of the last month alone, he’d probably be second overall. Reed was a castoff from the 49ers whose season almost ended before it began. We claimed him, kept him on the NFI list, and worked him back slowly as he recovered. His return coincided with injuries to both Quinton Dunbar and Tre Flowers (as well as Shaquill Griffin, briefly); Reed has taken over that right cornerback spot and is absolutely DOMINATING! He’s the best RCB we’ve had since Byron Maxwell in his prime; on top of which, Reed can return punts! What a godsend!

4 – Carlos Dunlap

He’d be higher on this list if we had him to start the season. But, it took a rebuilding Bengals squad to take their veteran for granted, and a nifty little mid-season trade to get him here, and he has single-handedly made everyone around him on that side of the ball better. Our pass rush went from one of the very worst in all of football to 7th in the league in sacks! Even with nagging injuries slowing him down, he’s helped transform the defense as we head into the playoffs, into a unit that can actually win us games, instead of holding us back. He’s also accumulated 5 sacks in 7 games, which is phenomenal; imagine what he could do if he was fully healthy!

3 – Brandon Shell

We’ve seen what he means to the right side of this offensive line, both via the improvement over Germain Ifedi from last year, as well as via the dropoff from the guys filling in for him while he deals with his ankle sprain. This offense was never better than when we had all five of our offensive linemen fully healthy; the offense (and Russell Wilson specifically) has struggled as guys have gone down. But, Shell should be back for the playoffs, and we’re all hoping that makes all the difference.

2 – Damien Lewis

This was the rookie we were all banking on as being our biggest contributor, and he HAS exceeded expectations! I think we all expected a lot more growing pains with Lewis, but he’s stayed mostly healthy throughout the year and there have been very few breakdowns in protection where he’s concerned. And, unless I’m mistaken, I think he’s been rated quite high in the offensive line rankings on PFF (I haven’t checked myself, but I see glimpses on Twitter every once in a while). Either way, getting a starting lineman who’s actually worth a damn as a rookie is pretty rare for this team, and I’m giving him props accordingly.

1 – Jamal Adams

As if there could be any doubt. The dude is leading the team in sacks from the safety position with 9.5! He’s a generational talent and the catalyst for this defense being as special as it’s been. Yes, we gave up a ton to get him here, and we’ll have to pay him a ton to keep him here, but the dude is special. Now, if only he would start catching some of these interceptions that keep hitting him in the hands (granted, he is playing with multiple broken fingers, but still), we’d be looking even better with this guy!

The Seahawks Have Overcome A Lot Of Injuries To Get Here

File this under: No Shit, Everyone’s Got Injuries, Sherlock.

Still, not everyone is 7-3 and tied for the lead in their division, with a reasonable path to getting the #1 seed in their conference. If you take a step back and see what the Seahawks have been able to accomplish with all that’s gone against them, there’s reason to be amazed, as well as encouraged (if guys return and play well the rest of the way).

Let’s start with the guys who are lost for the season; pour one out for what could’ve been:

  • Bruce Irvin (LB/DE)
  • Marquise Blair (S)
  • Lano Hill (S)
  • Neiko Thorpe (CB)
  • Greg Olsen (TE)

I know there are teams who have lost bigger stars for the season, but I would argue these are pretty significant hits for the Seahawks. Given what we did in the offseason, this represents a pretty large portion of our free agent dollars (dollars that were – and still continue to be – in very short supply). Irvin accounted for over $5 million on a 1-year deal, and Olsen was another $7 million on a 1-year deal. Four our trouble, we got 10 games out of Olsen (he’s our 4th leading receiver at the moment, with just one touchdown), and only 2 games out of Irvin (he was supposed to be one of our top pass rushers, and ended up getting zero sacks). Money poorly spent, I’d say (the caveat being, if we make it deep into the playoffs, Olsen might be able to return, but I won’t be counting on that).

A big shame when it comes to the Olsen injury is the fact that we recently waived Luke Willson, who was picked up by the Ravens. It sounds like he’s on their practice squad – so we COULD get him back if we wanted to – but I don’t know if he’d want to return and continue to get jerked around (since it’s clear he’s our first option when we have someone we need to cut).

The team had also carved out a decent role for Blair to be a nickel corner against bigger receivers/tight ends. The second year pro (drafted in the second round) has a lot of talent and promise, so it was heartbreaking to see him also go down in the second game of the season. We’ll never know what we would’ve had in him this year, but given the secondary’s struggles overall (and the injury issues, which we’ll get more into below), Blair’s presence would’ve been a very welcome addition to the team.

Hill and Thorpe are lesser losses, but Hill looked better than he’s ever been in his two games this season. One has to wonder if he turned a corner in his young career. As for Thorpe, he’s been a Special Teams captain and mainstay for YEARS, but this just seems to be the end of the line for him. He hasn’t been able to stay on the field for even double-digit games since 2018 (when he still missed a good month’s worth of games), and I would argue our Special Teams have been fine without him.

Next, let’s look at the short list of players who’ve yet to play a single down:

  • Rashaad Penny (RB)
  • Darrell Taylor (DE)
  • Phillip Dorsett (WR)
  • Josh Gordon (WR) *

Of the four, the odds of Dorsett ever playing for this team seems pretty remote. Foot injuries are never good. Foot injuries for wide receivers are especially damaging. And, foot injuries for wide receivers whose primary weapon is their straight-line speed … well, three strikes and you’re out, I guess. As for Gordon, he gets the asterisk because he’s not actually injured, but rather on an indefinite suspension. But, he’s signed to the team and has yet to contribute, and given the talent of both of these players, I’d say the losses hurt regardless! Gordon especially, as he has #1 receiver-type talent; add him to the elite duo of D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett and you’ve really got something! The absence of these two also meant the Seahawks briefly flirted with the idea of signing Antonio Brown, and the jury is still out as to whether that would’ve been a smart idea or not.

Since the Seahawks, as is, are so strong at wide receiver, it’s hard to make a huge deal out of Dorsett & Gordon not being here. If you had to rank this group based on who we needed most, it’s a toss-up between Penny and Taylor. I’m leaning towards Penny because he’s a proven commodity, and there were a few games there where we REALLY stunk at running back, starting the likes of DeeJay Dallas and Alex Collins. As we saw last week with the return of Carlos Hyde, talent at running back is still important in this league, and Penny is probably the second-most talented running back on this team. It does look like he’ll return soon, which could be a boost (if nothing else, to our depth, but I bet they carve out a role on third downs for him, to get his feet wet).

As for Taylor, you could argue that – until recently – defensive end/pass rush was our biggest issue. But, as a rookie, I don’t know what’s reasonable to expect from a guy (especially when he hasn’t participated in any sort of Training Camp, let alone practices or games). I’m still not holding my breath that he actually returns – based on the number of setbacks he’s had – but the team is saying he’s close, which I find encouraging. Mostly, it’s encouraging that they haven’t yet written him off entirely and shut him down in favor of returning strong next year. Either way, I’ll believe in him when I see him in an actual game.

Next, let’s take a look at the players who have missed games:

  • Jamal Adams (S)
  • Shaquill Griffin (CB)
  • Quinton Dunbar (CB)
  • Ugo Amadi (CB)
  • D.J. Reed (CB)
  • Benson Mayowa (DE)
  • Chris Carson (RB)
  • Carlos Hyde (RB)
  • Travis Homer (RB)
  • Bryan Mone (DT)
  • Rasheem Green (DE)
  • Jordyn Brooks (LB)
  • Mike Iupati (G)
  • Jordan Simmons (G)
  • Ethan Pocic (C)

This obviously isn’t a comprehensive list (I probably should’ve said that at the top, but whatever). Let’s start with the secondary: we have YET to play with our full corps of DB’s at full strength. Griffin has been out the last few weeks with a concussion and a hamstring injury; he just returned to practice this week, but it’s up in the air as to whether he can return for Monday night’s game or not. Dunbar and Adams have both missed games AND played through injuries, with middling results. Obviously Adams leads the team in sacks and is a great weapon as a blitzer, but his coverage skills were never his strongest suit, and I would argue they’ve been further hampered by whatever he’s trying to gut his way through. Dunbar has a bad knee that was never able to fully get right. He tried to step up – particularly in Griffin’s absence – but has been abused by opposing quarterbacks the entire season. He’s finally landed on the IR, in hopes that we can get him back to 100% for the stretch run, so we’ll see. Amadi’s loss was a bad blow in the wake of Blair’s season-ending injury, as Amadi was one of our other nickel corners. Thankfully, D.J. Reed returned right around the same time, to give our secondary a boost (as he missed the start of the season thanks to an offseason injury when we claimed him).

The hope for this defense was that the secondary could prop everyone else up until we figured out the pass rush situation (with guys either improving naturally, or with outside players coming in to contribute), but that sadly hasn’t been the case. It’s been made more difficult by losing guys along the already-shorthanded defensive line. Along with Irvin and Taylor, the line has also missed Benson Mayowa (our OTHER big free agent signing along the D-Line) and Rasheem Green (last year’s leading sacker) for multiple games. Bryan Mone, to his credit, has been stout in the interior of the line, and it looks like it’ll be a while before he’s able to return.

The running backs, as I mentioned, took a serious hit. I won’t dwell on them too much, but thankfully Hyde is now back and Carson is practicing again. Here’s hoping they can stay on the field the rest of the way!

Jordyn Brooks didn’t miss too much time, but as our top rookie draft pick this year, missing ANY time is a disaster for someone learning the defense and learning how to be a professional. He has yet to make too much of an impact (possibly related to missing time early on, possibly not), but it does look like he’s starting to get more comfortable with his role on this team.

Finally, it’s time to talk about the offensive line. As Seahawks fans, we KNOW how important this unit is to the success of the offense. And, for the most part, we’ve been pretty blessed with this unit being as healthy as it’s been. Mike Iupati was a question mark from the start – given his age and the way his body has been breaking down in recent seasons – but we have good depth at guard. That depth was thrown into disarray when Simmons went down, as he’s the best backup guard on the roster. Then, with Ethan Pocic going down with a concussion (after having traded away B.J. Finney to the Bengals in part for Carlos Dunlap), we had to move our rock of a right guard, Damien Lewis, over to center for a game. He made it through okay (because he’s clearly Seattle’s 2020 Rookie MVP), but there were some struggles. Thankfully, it looks like all three are back (or very close to being back), so I don’t foresee any of them missing time long term.

To wrap things up, how about a few words on guys we all suspect are playing through (or HAVE played through) injuries:

  • Brandon Shell (RT)
  • Duane Brown (LT)
  • Tyler Lockett (WR)
  • Russell Wilson (QB)?

Duane Brown is an old man, but he’s also far-and-away our best offensive lineman, at a critical position along the line. He gets regular rest days in practice throughout the season to make sure he lasts, but I cringe EVERY TIME he goes down awkwardly or gets hit down around the knees. I think he’s missed a snap here and there, but so far has yet to miss any actual games (knock on wood); I hope it stays that way. Brandon Shell has proven to be our best right tackle by a VERY large margin. He suffered an ankle injury against the Cardinals, and I still have no idea how bad it is. If it’s a high ankle sprain, he could miss a month or more (which would be a disaster for this line). If it’s just a regular ankle sprain, he could be back as early as Monday night. I’m hoping it’ll be okay.

Lockett hasn’t missed any time that I can recall, but we all remember when he was tackled poorly by the Rams (I want to say?) and D.K. Metcalf almost started a riot in defense of his teammate. That was the second time he’s been nearly-injured, and he’s a little guy as it is! This offense is elite because it has Russell Wilson and TWO top-flight receivers. If you take away one of those receivers, it becomes exponentially easier to defend this team. So, take care Tyler Lockett!

As for Wilson, I don’t think he was ever actually injured, but I do think it’s funny that fans have this rumor that he was concussed and that’s why he struggled in our three losses. It’s the same as saying there’s widespread election fraud happening in America (but, of course, only in the swing states, and really only in the swing states that the president lost … how convenient). Never underestimate humanity’s ability to believe what it wants to believe!

In all seriousness, though, this season will go straight down the shitter if Wilson ever gets seriously injured. He HAS taken a lot of bad-looking hits, so I think it’s wise to incorporate more running (with the running backs) into the gameplan. Let’s get through these next four games with a 4-0 record and then we can start flying by the seat of our pants again!

I’m As Excited As I’ll Probably Ever Be For A Seahawks/Bills Matchup

My all-time favorite memory of the Seahawks playing the Bills is from 2012, when we went into Buffalo Toronto and stomped them into the ground by a score of 50-17. Obviously, that was Russell Wilson’s rookie season, and the real Seahawks fans remember this period as the beginning of the Great Seahawks Renaissance.

My memories of this period have to be akin to what it feels like for fathers remembering the days of their children’s births; I feel such PRIDE! And a longing to return to those sweet and innocent times!

Two weeks prior, the 2012 Seahawks were 6-5 and coming off of a disappointing loss to the Dolphins. They needed a spark. They needed their rookie quarterback to take a big leap forward in his development. And, he did just that in an overtime victory in Chicago. From there, the Seahawks dismantled the Cardinals 58-0. In combination with the aforementioned Bills victory, and the subsequent throttling of the eventual Super Bowl losers (the 49ers) by a score of 42-13, you still won’t find a more dominant three-game stretch in all of Seahawks history. In those three victories, we won by a combined score of 150-30; those are insane college football numbers!

That was also in the middle of a 5-game winning streak to close out the season. The damage had been done – we had to settle for a Wild Card spot, as the 49ers took the division that year by half a game – but in spite of our loss to the Falcons in the Divisional Round, hopes were never higher for Seahawks fans. Had we managed to nail our comeback in Atlanta, I think we’re all in agreement that we would’ve taken the 49ers out in the NFC Championship Game, with a victory against the Ravens in the Super Bowl all but assured.

While it’s a stretch to say the 2012 Seahawks were better than the 2013 version that DID manage to win it all, I seem to remember there being advanced metrics out there that showed those Seahawks were quite the force to be reckoned with.

These 2020 Seahawks aren’t the same (clearly), so I’ll temper my expectations accordingly. Nevertheless, through seven games, these 2020 Seahawks are still legitimate Super Bowl contenders. And, as chance would have it, we have another road date against the Bills on the schedule (this time in their actual hometown).

I’m weirdly excited for this game! When you factor in divisional/playoff tie-breakers, this game – a road contest against an opposite-conference opponent – is among the least important. But, since there are only 16 regular season games, that’s a relative statement, because ALL games are important in football!

And, sure, I’m excited because the Bills are a quality opponent (we are 1-1 against teams with winning records, with the lone victory being against a rebuilding Dolphins team), but the opponent is irrelevant. I’m mostly excited because we’re starting to get healthy again!

Jamal Adams and Benson Mayowa both figure to return this week. And sure, we’re down Shaquill Griffin, but D.J. Reed returned last week and looked phenomenal! Jordyn Brooks made it through unscathed. AND, we get to see Carlos Dunlap for the first time since we traded for him!

I’ll be honest, 75% of my hype is devoted to Dunlap. I am SO READY for a competent defensive end to grace us with his presence! I would put my feelings on par with how I felt about Jadeveon Clowney last year. In a vacuum, I’d prefer 2019 Clowney to 2020 Dunlap, but considering just how atrocious our pass rush has been this year, I feel like I’m even MORE starving for … ANYTHING! The fact that he took a pay cut to come here – converting $3 million of what he was owed into a roster bonus next season (meaning, if we cut him before then, he gets none of it, but immediately becomes a free agent; or if we keep him, we likely look to extend him an extra year or two beyond 2021) means he might be the most motivated player on this roster right now! I LOVE that!

I need to be ready to be underwhelmed, of course, but this feeling is more than just about this one game. The Seahawks as a whole are getting healthier. Shaquill Griffin will eventually return to full strength. Rasheem Green is on his way back from his stinger. Alton Robinson is already blowing away expectations as a rookie defensive end. We’ll actually have a defensive line ROTATION for once, where we can keep everyone fresh and hopefully maximize their effectiveness (rather than running the same two guys into the ground as they continue to get stonewalled).

The defense will be a work in progress all year. BUT, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t expect to see improvement if we can get these guys healthy and (more importantly) keep our key guys healthy. And, hopefully, it won’t require us to blitz over 50% of the rest of our snaps to do it.

Now, all of that being said, just because I’m excited for this game doesn’t mean I actually believe the Seahawks will win. This isn’t just one of those deals where Steven Isn’t Allowed To Have Nice Things In His Life, but it’s a weird fucking thing about the Seahawks and AFC games (particularly against the better AFC opponents we face, usually on the road).

Since 2012, the Seahawks – I think we can all agree – have been pretty good-to-great. And yet, we’ve managed to stumble against at least one AFC opponent in every season except one (randomly, in 2016, when we also played against the AFC East). We’ve lost an AFC road game at least once in six of those eight seasons. It’s not even that we get blown out or look particularly bad; weird shit just seems to happen when we least suspect it!

Now, the saving grace here is the fact that most of us – when we were going through the schedule when it was initially released – marked this game down as a likely defeat. Until the Seahawks got off to this remarkable start, most of us kind of wrote this game off. The Bills were projected to be a very good team this season, and low and behold – at 6-2 – they are! I would argue, however, even that hasn’t gone according to plan. Josh Allen looks much better than any of us expected (particularly in engineering a comeback victory over the Rams back in Week 3), but also the Bills’ defense looks much worse than any of us expected (when many projected them to be at least in the Top 3 in the NFL). The Bills have given up 26 or more points in half of their games (including a whopping 42 in a loss to the Titans). Fantasy owners are dropping the Bills’ defense left and right, and for good reason!

That’s why I think lots of Seahawks fans are predicting a Seahawks victory this week. Our defense just produced its best game of the season last week, we’re getting a lot of key additions to that side of the ball, AND the Bills have shown they’re weaker than their record might suggest.

To me, that puts me back on edge, coming around full circle to think that we WILL lose this game, as unexpectedly as we have in years past. If and when that does happen, it shouldn’t reduce our excitement for the rest of this season!

It might take a week or two for these new/returning stars to gel. The team might be looking ahead to our date in L.A. against the Rams next week (which will be a HUGE showdown for NFC West supremacy). Or the Bills just might be better on this particular given Sunday! I’m not going to sweat the outcome of this one, even though it would be fantastic to win and keep our cushion against the rest of the division for one more week.

I expect the Seahawks’ defense won’t look as good as it did a week ago. I expect a lot of Bills yards through the air. I expect the Seahawks on offense will need to rack up lots of points like it has all season. And … I expect weird, freaky mistakes might prevent us from accomplishing what we want to accomplish.

But, it won’t be the end of the world (even though it’ll be infuriating in the moment). I’m mentally preparing to be 6-2 at this time on Monday morning. I’m also already ready to flush this game and move on to the next one as soon as humanly possible. The Rams are on a BYE this week, meaning they’ve got two weeks to prepare for a home date against us that will be our biggest game of the season (so far). My mind is already in Los Angeles.

Well, technically, my mind is in Vegas for our early December trip, but close enough.

This Might Be Bobby Wagner’s Last Year With The Seahawks

I keep seeing trades happen for defensive ends and the Seahawks aren’t involved. I hear about free agents still out on the scrap heap, but no calls from our end. Coming into this year, the pass rush was assumed to be a disaster, and through six games that’s been proven accurate.

Now, the Seahawks have the least amount of extra cap space in all of football. That’s not hyperbole, that’s just a fact. The coffers are bare. But, there are ways to re-work contracts to free up some extra space. That’s why you hear about the Seahawks being “in” on a lot of guys, even if they don’t manage to land them. We’re just waiting for the right deal, the one that hurts us the least in the long term.

We’re getting to the point, though, where the lack of pass rush is a real emergency. Say what you will about how difficult it can be to bring down someone like Kyler Murray, this team had two weeks to prepare. It’s not just that we couldn’t get him on his ass, we couldn’t even get close enough to SEE his ass! For as difficult as it is to bring in guys with COVID happening all around us, we’re at a crisis point, and they’re going to have to do something soon, or else risk throwing away a real, legitimate chance at a Super Bowl. If we falter to another Wild Card finish, I’m afraid heads might roll.

What I’m wondering is: are they reluctant to take on any more money because they know Bobby Wagner is going to be cut after this season?

The Seahawks committed one of the cardinal sins when it comes to football contracts: you do NOT pay top dollar for running backs or linebackers. We paid marginally-top dollar with Marshawn Lynch back in the day, but the way his contracts were structured made it so we could get out from under them pretty easily. Bobby Wagner was another story, though. Not only did we extend him with a year already left on his deal, but we made him the highest-paid linebacker in the game. 3 years, $54 million, a little over $40 million of that guaranteed. If he sees it through to the end, he’ll be here through the 2022 season, when he’s 32 years old.

Now, at the time, we figured, “Okay, he’s worth it.” He was – more or less – the last remaining star from our glory days on defense. He was squarely in the prime of his career as the best middle linebacker in the game, and based on history, middle linebackers can play well into their 30’s if they stay healthy. But, from a value standpoint, to be worth the money he’s making, he has to continue to be THE best middle linebacker in football, and that clearly isn’t the case. Blame it on the team around him, and I agree with you: they ARE mediocre. But, he’s not elevating his game, nor does he seem to be elevating the people around him.

So, look at his contract status. There’s an out after this season. His cap hit next year is set to be over $17 million; we can get out from under his contract by eating $7.5 million. That is a SPICY meatball to have to eat, but you can’t pay him what he’s set to earn for what he’s bringing to the table now (saying nothing of the amount of decline he’ll see being another year older). At this point, he’s NOT the best middle linebacker in the game. Is he in the Top 10? Maybe. But, he’s still making Top Dog Middle Linebacker money, and that’s unacceptable. When you figure he’s much too proud to take a pay cut, that points to one alternative: the Seahawks have been eyeballing his exit all along.

There is money that could be better spent at other positions. For instance, Jamal Adams will be looking for a new deal after this season. Shaquill Griffin as well. And, of course, we’re still going to be in need of a pass rushing defensive end. Jordyn Brooks will probably be ready to take over one of the linebacker spots from K.J. Wright after this year, and the Seahawks can just as easily dip their toe into the second round of the draft next year to find Bobby’s replacement. Even if we have to slog through a season with Cody Barton; I know he’s not great, but is he SO MUCH of a drop-off at middle linebacker, relative to the money he’s making? What is Bobby Wagner bringing to the table with this defense that’s elevating things for the team?

All of that being said, I’m sure the team could rework Russell Wilson’s contract to free up money. I think I even read a headline talking about extending Tyler Lockett to tinker with the salary cap. There are options.

One of those options doesn’t appear to be – and frankly CANNOT be – shuffling money around on Bobby Wagner’s deal (moving future base salary to signing bonus, thereby increasing the amount of dead money we’d have to eat by cutting him next season). If we do that, we’re essentially guaranteeing his 2021 season at that inflated cap number.

Until now, I would’ve been 100% convinced Wagner would still be here at least for one more season. But, in looking at the numbers, and the situation as it’s laid out in front of us, it’s feeling remarkably slim.