Seahawks Death Week: We’ve Got Holes To Fill On Defense

So, unless things have gone horribly wrong, by now I’ve written about the last Seahawks game of the season, I’ve written about the things that have gone right, and the things that have gone wrong. Now, it’s time to get to work on that all-important roster building.

To start, here are a list of free agents, in some particular order:

Defense

  • Jadeveon Clowney (DE)
  • Jarran Reed (DT)
  • Mychal Kendricks (LB)
  • Ziggy Ansah (DE)
  • Quinton Jefferson (DL)
  • Al Woods (DT)
  • Akeem King (DB)
  • Neiko Thorpe (DB)
  • Branden Jackson (DL)

That’s a lot of our regular defensive line rotation, including starters in Clowney and Reed, as well as significant 2019 role players like Ansah, Woods, Q-Jeff, and Jackson.

Obviously, Clowney is the big name here. He will be 27 years old in 2020, and he’ll be looking for his first real BIG payday. We’re talking $20+ million per season on average, one of the five highest paid defensive people in the league. With his injury and impending surgery, you have to wonder if that’ll scare teams off a little bit. Not a lot; I think he’ll still see a huge payday, but I wonder if extra protections for the team will be built in.

Is he worth it? That’s the ultimate question. This is a guy who had 3 sacks all regular season. Is that a $20+ million a year guy? I’ll tell you this much, SOMEONE will pay him that much, because he’s obviously more than a straight-up sacks guy. He’s elite against the run, and he has one of the highest pressure rates. Also, even though we’re talking about a second contract – and you rarely see the value over the duration of the deal – defensive linemen tend to age pretty well. It’s not inconceivable that he’d live up to the money over the next four years. But, this core injury isn’t the only thing that’s ever happened to him. Coming out of college and through his first couple years, he missed quite a bit of time. On the one hand, fresher legs; on the other hand, there’s a risk of re-injury.

I’m not going to sit here and say the Seahawks HAVE to pay him whatever he wants; I’m sure they’ll make the decision they want to make. If that means we back up the Brinks truck, so be it, I’ll be fine with it. If we let some other team over-pay for an injury risk, I can easily talk myself into that as well.

But, the bottom line is: the Seahawks need to do SOMETHING. I don’t know what the free agent landscape looks like for pass rushers in 2020, but the cupboard is bare here in Seattle. It’s as bare as it gets, and when you consider how horrible we were in 2019 (WITH Clowney), trying to imagine an even WORSE pass rush makes me sick to my stomach.

This brings us to Jarran Reed, who looked like he was on pace for a huge payday as well. 10.5 sacks in 2018, as an interior lineman, is a remarkable achievement. So, we know he has that in him anyway (at least, when the conditions are right). But, then he was suspended for 6 games in 2019, and when he came back he wasn’t quite his old self. He fell all the way down to 2.0 sacks, and with the prior suspension, he now holds the risk of an even bigger punishment if he gets in trouble a second time. So, his value fell pretty far.

I don’t know what he’s looking for, but if we could bring him back on a team-friendly 3-4 year deal, I wouldn’t hate it. I also wouldn’t mind a 1-year prove-it deal, though obviously that’s not as good for our salary cap (unless it’s an insanely low figure with lots of incentives he’s not expected to reach based on his 2019 production). But, it would be asinine to get in a bidding war for his services, considering what he was able to bring to this team in his 10 games plus the playoffs. Ultimately, Reed made next-to-zero impact for this team, when we REALLY needed him to step up and take on more of the pass rushing load.

Ziggy Ansah needs to go. That’s all I need to say about him; he’s finished in this league.

Al Woods is a fine player, and I would assume we could bring him back cheaply if we wanted. He’s also Just A Guy, so whatever.

Q-Jeff is a nice player, and it’s unfortunate he got injured in our game in Green Bay. I would expect maybe a moderate raise, but he obviously doesn’t bring a ton to the table from a pass rushing perspective. So, breaking the bank isn’t necessary here.

Next up is Mychal Kendricks, who ended 2019 on IR. He was fine, but again I don’t really know what he brought to the table. It feels like Cody Barton (or pretty much anyone else) could do what he did and we’d be fine.

Finally, King and Thorpe are also just regular dudes. Thorpe obviously has value on special teams, but he’ll be 30 years old and in his 8th season in the league. I feel like we’ve successfully replaced what he brought to this team and maybe can move on with younger guys. King won’t be contending for a starting job anywhere, but maybe he’ll want more of a chance to at least compete for a spot. It feels like he’s hit his ceiling in our defense, and he might want a change of scenery.

***

As for the guys who are already under contract, I don’t see a lot of dead weight that we NEED to get rid of for salary cap purposes.

K.J. Wright will be 31 years old and on the final year of his deal. He’s set to count about $10 million against the salary cap, with only $2.5 million in dead money, for $7.5 million in savings. That’s not nothing, especially when we might be paying a lot for Clowney, plus another pass rusher or two.

If we move on from Wright, it probably means he didn’t want to take a pay cut. He was second in tackles on the team with 132 (not significantly fewer than league leader Bobby Wagner’s 159), he played in every game, and he played a high percentage of this team’s overall snaps. If you cut him, it means you believe Cody Barton is ready to start this year (or you draft someone who you can’t afford to sit because he’s too talented). But, also if you cut him then you have to fill two linebacker spots (one, presumably, with Barton, and the other TBD).

Ultimately, I don’t think the Seahawks will release Wright, based on shared history and what he’s meant to the success of this defense since 2011. But, you can’t totally dismiss it given his high salary figure, and the need to improve across the entire D-Line.

The other possible decision the Seahawks need to make is whether they want to give Shaquill Griffin a long-term extension. Do they believe he’s the guy to build around in that secondary? He’s set to earn less than $1 million in 2020, so there would be a considerable discount to be had to make it worth our while in the long term. Think about what we did by extending Tyler Lockett a year early; he’s on a VERY team-friendly deal now, and it’s paying significant dividends.

I thought Griffin really took a big leap forward in his development in 2019. I don’t know where he ranks among all cornerbacks, but I feel like he’s right there in the 2nd or 3rd tier. He’s not a lockdown guy; he’s not among the best of the very best. But, he’s a solid starter, he doesn’t give up a ton of catches or yards, and more often than not teams go away from his side (it helps that Tre Flowers is the guy opposite him, and he gives up practically everything). If there’s a reasonable figure the team can get to with Griffin, I think I’d like to see them do a Lockett-type deal. Something that gives the young player a nice raise, while showing him he’s part of the long term plan and affords the team some future flexibility in their cap from 2020-2022.

***

Big picture for 2020, the defensive line is in shambles, and the secondary needs a huge infusion of talent.

As things stand today, L.J. Collier and Rasheem Green would be your starting defensive ends. Collier was a healthy scratch most of the season (including both playoff games) and Green was our leading sacker with a whopping 4.

Collier can be considered nothing but a huge disappointment. You expect your first round picks – even your late first rounders – to contribute in some way, if not be a starter from day one. Obviously, the starting jobs were taken on this team, but he brought NOTHING to this team as a rookie. That doesn’t mean he’s a bust, necessarily – he’s still got three more years to prove that he’s worth a 5th year option – but he better work his fucking ass off in the offseason and come into camp like a man possessed.

As for Green, as I’ve written about before, he took a moderate step forward. But, as I point out all the time, unless you’re uber-talented, it’s hard for young defensive linemen to make big impacts; it usually takes a few years to grow into your body, bulk up, and learn the nuances of how to play in this league. For so many players who go on to be drafted in the first couple days, the college game is simple. The offensive linemen stink, the schemes are dumbed down, and you can just go out there and kick ass. In the NFL, you need to smarten up quite a bit, or you’ll be left behind.

Along the interior, we’ve got Poona Ford and some scrubs. This team needs to improve its pass rush, but also get better at defending the run. Ultimately, the Seahawks need a whole makeover at D-Line, so there’s work to be done.

In the secondary, Griffin and Flowers figure to return as starters. One can only hope Flowers takes a similar leap in his development between Year 2 & 3 as Griffin did this past season. Diggs and McDougald figure to be your starters at safety, though I would hope Marquise Blair gets a legitimate opportunity to compete and start. It would also be helpful if Ugo Amadi works on his craft quite a bit this offseason to be this team’s nickel corner.

I would LOVE it if we drafted yet another safety, and cut Lano Hill and Tedric Thompson, those wastes of fucking (roster) space. I’d also love it if we maybe made a low-level trade for another nickel corner, if Amadi doesn’t work out. See if we can find the next Justin Coleman.

More than anything, I guess we just need the secondary to improve on their own, because I can’t envision the Seahawks making wholesale changes or putting too many resources into this area, when there are other more-pressing concerns.

Tomorrow, we’ll look at all the holes on offense, where I’m concerned a lot of our free salary cap space will end up going.

Seahawks Death Week: Where the 2019 Season Went Wrong

Well, you can start by the Seahawks losing to Green Bay in the playoffs, but let’s dig a little deeper.

The talking points among the veterans on this team (well, at least the vets who are under contract beyond 2019) have revolved around there being a lot of hope for the future. We’ll get around to that tomorrow, but for now I’m still in a bit of a mood, and that mood subsists on a diet of negativity and self-loathing.

I’ve got a list of players to rant about today, split into two groups. Before we get to the truly egregious offenders of our misery, let’s start with the mediocre players who didn’t totally kill our hopes and dreams, but also did very little in helping us achieve them.

Where It All Went Meh

I could talk about pretty much everyone in the back quarter of the roster/practice squad/scrap heap, but here are a few names worth mentioning.

Jarran Reed was suspended for the first six games of the season. Why it took the league so long to get around to this – when the incident apparently happened years ago – is beyond me, but the conspiracy nut in me feels it’s a plot against my beloved Seahawks. Regardless, it was a hefty punishment, but in the grand scheme of things it arguably only cost us a single game. Nevertheless, missing out on that time must’ve done something to negatively impact the rest of his season, because he ended the year with a whopping 2 sacks. That’s 8.5 fewer than 2018. Was he out of shape? Did the layoff force him to take longer to ramp back up, as if he needed a second “pre-season” to get going again? Whatever it was, he hardly made an impact.

Sticking with the theme, our other starting DT, Al Woods, ended the season with a suspension. That cost him the last two regular season games (both losses) as well as our two post-season games. Had we prevailed in Green Bay, we would’ve had him back for next week, but obviously that’s down the shitter, and now he’s a free agent. At the most crucial time – when we were at our most injured – we could absolutely not afford to lose another important player, particularly on defense.

Tre Flowers took a lot of heat after our loss to the Packers and I know a lot of fans are killing him in the fallout, but over the course of the season he was … whatever. With him, it always feels like two steps forward, two steps back. I think we were all quite impressed with him as a rookie, especially since he was converting from his safety spot in college, but the total lack of growth this year was pretty grim. I guess we were saying the same thing about Shaquill Griffin this time last year, and he really showed out in his third season, so that’s the only reason why I’m not completely off the bandwagon. But, I’ve got one foot out the door; I’m going to be very suspicious until I see real improvement on the field.

The tough part about rooting for the Seahawks is that so many of our hopes are tied into the younger guys, and if they’re not coming out right away and blowing our minds, it feels like our tires are going to continue to spin in the mud. With so much of our salary cap tied into Wilson, the O-Line, and our linebackers, we really need cost-effective younger guys to step into major roles on this team earlier and earlier. Which makes the rookie seasons of Ugo Amadi and Marquise Blair so frustrating. The fact of the matter is, we don’t know what those guys can bring to the table, because they spent so much of the season buried behind inferior veterans (who I’ll talk about later). Particularly with Blair, who actually looked decent in his appearances this season; why wouldn’t this coaching staff go with the higher-upside talent over the veterans who have proven time and time again that they stink?

Finally, a few words on Rasheem Green. He was as disappointing as it gets as a rookie in 2018. Going from that to leading the Seahawks in sacks in 2019 sounds fucking phenomenal! You’re telling me this team had Jadeveon Clowney, Ziggy Ansah, and Jarran Reed, and second-year prospect Rasheem Green led the team in sacks?! Wahoo! Except, oh yeah, he had exactly 4 sacks, and this unit was absolutely abysmal at getting to the quarterback. Steady progress is still progress, but from the looks of things, we’re going to need Green to make a bigger leap in 2020.

Where It All Went Completely Fucking FUBAR

Let’s get this out of the way now (speaking of the D-Line): Ziggy Ansah was a total fucking atrocity. 2.5 sacks in 11 games. Of course, he was never going to be a sure thing, coming off of injury and settling for a prove-it deal to build his value back. And, the Seahawks (as beggars) weren’t in a position to be choosers when it came to building a pass rush on the fly. We were cash-strapped and still dealing with the fallout of losing Cliff Avril and Malik McDowell to career-ending injuries. It’s taken 2018 & 2019 just to get things right again (moneywise), but in that time we failed to develop any semblance of a competent defensive line on our own, so we had to go dumpster diving, and in walks Ansah. While it was always a risk, given his track record, the HOPE was that at some point he’d return to maybe 75% of his old, dominant self. Instead, we got a washed-up 30 year old who really doesn’t seem to be all that invested in his football career. Ansah sounds like he’s not really passionate about the game, and on this team, that’s just not gonna fly.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, L.J. Collier was a first round pick this season. He got hurt in August, missed the pre-season, and was only active for 11 games this year (being declared a healthy scratch more times than I can count on one hand, on a team that – as I’ve mentioned repeatedly – was one of the worst in the league at getting to the quarterback. He was deemed to be a reach by most experts at the time of the selection, and he’s looking like a bust now. We’ll see where he goes from here.

Normally, I wouldn’t even bother to mention someone like Ed Dickson in a post like this. He’s a veteran tight end who has been out with injury more than he’s played in his two seasons in Seattle. But, considering all the turnover we had to endure at the tight end position (including yet another tragic injury to Will Dissly, this time after only 6 games; as well as trading Nick Vannett to the Steelers), there were times we REALLY could’ve used Dickson. I remember a couple weeks there where we might not have had as many as TWO healthy tight ends on the roster, which is big for a team like the Seahawks, who feature the position immensely. Look for Dickson to be cut, saving us $3 million in the process.

Sticking with the offense for a bit, David Moore sure disappointed. He missed the early part of the season with an injury, then came back but could never get in sync with Wilson, in spite of what appeared to be WAY too many attempts. Moore was targeted 34 times and only managed to catch half of them, for all of 2 touchdowns. Sure, a lot of those were contested, but Moore was simply incapable of making a play on the ball when the team needed him.

So, we brought in Josh Gordon, and right away he made a difference. He only caught 7 passes for 139 yards in his 5 games here, but it seemed like all of them were either for significant yardage or to convert third downs. Then, he was suspended again, and that shining light was taken away from us. The ramifications were pretty great. For starters, we clearly could’ve used him down the stretch in the regular season (where we lost our last two games), and we DEFINITELY could’ve used him in Green Bay (where we were stuck with Malik Turner dropping a critical pass in our final possession of the season). On top of that, when we first picked up Gordon, he was our 8th wide receiver, meaning someone had to go. We eventually waived our rookie draft pick Greg Jennings. We were unable to sneak him onto our practice squad, as Miami ended up grabbing him. He hasn’t done anything yet, but if he turns into a stud, it’ll look really bad for us.

Finally, let’s talk about where it went the MOST wrong: the secondary.

The Seahawks could never get the nickel corner spot figured out. Justin Coleman had it locked down previously, but with our cap situation – and his considerable value on the open market – we couldn’t dream of matching his 4-year, $36 million deal with the Lions. So, we cheaped out. A slew of veterans – including notoriously-terrible Jamar Taylor – stunk up the joint so bad, we were hands down the team to spend the most time in base defense. It was okay for the most part, but it still meant seeing our linebackers getting beat on a regular basis.

Ultimately, the biggest downfall of this team came at the safety position (once our very strongest spot, only a few short years ago), specifically Tedric Thompson and Lano Hill. I can’t say enough terrible things about those guys. Aside from Ansah, the 2017 draft picks were far and away the biggest disappointments of this season. The worst part is, they’re under contract for 2020. The second-worst part is, this coaching staff keeps giving them ample opportunities over younger guys who almost certainly have higher upsides. I can’t stand how devoted this staff is to these two terrible players; someone please put me out of my misery by taking their jobs permanently!

The Seahawks’ Defense Fucking Sucks

There’s no getting around it. There’s also no reason to sugarcoat it. The Seahawks have a shitty, terrible, no good, very bad fucking defense.

It’s frustrating not necessarily because we weren’t expecting this; the defense was always going to be the weak link on this team. It’s that they’re clearly WORSE than we were expecting, and they’re not improving one bit over the course of these first seven weeks!

I wouldn’t say the Seahawks have had a particularly brutal schedule to date – certainly a tougher one than the 49ers, for instance – but there’s been a mix of good and bad teams in there. Aside from the Cardinals – who still managed 321 total yards, and a 5.0 yards per rush average – teams have had no trouble scoring, and EVERYONE is at least moving the ball at will. It’s an embarrassment, and no one is exempt.

Bobby Wagner, WHERE YOU AT, BRO? 3 years, $54 million, at the top of the middle linebacker pack, and what have you done for us? 0 sacks, 3 tackles for loss. I don’t expect Wagner to be blitzing nonstop; that’s not his game. But, run stuffing? Getting to those running backs before they plow through the line for huge chunk plays? How about that, huh? Can we at least stop THAT from happening? Every time I turn around, Bobby Wagner is getting pancaked by fools he used to exploit.

Maybe it’s not his fault. The defensive line has certainly been fucking abysmal, after all. Nevertheless, I expect my superstar All Pros to play like superstar All Pros, regardless of the lack of talent around them. Bobby Wagner used to lift this team on his back and make everyone around him look and play better; he’s doing NONE of that this year. No special plays, anywhere. For a guy who’s going to bog down our salary cap, that’s UNACCEPTABLE.

Speaking of the defensive line: 11 sacks, 7th-worst in the NFL. At some point, you have to stop blaming the fact that opposing quarterbacks are getting the ball out too quickly. They’re not doing that on EVERY SINGLE PLAY! There are opportunities – too many, quite frankly – where the quarterback has all day to throw, and a clean, warm Snuggie of a pocket in which to stand.

Part of that, obviously, is by design. Out with the old and in with the new. But, we’re paying good money to some of these guys, and not really getting much out of them. Clowney is the only guy in the entire front seven who’s worth a damn right now. Where has Ansah been? Well, I hope he’s looking forward to another underwhelming contract offer (from a different team) next year, because he hasn’t earned that big payday he was hoping for! He can’t even stay on the fucking field! And he really doesn’t look like he even WANTS to be on the fucking field!

The worst part of all of this is the fact that our younger guys aren’t progressing in the slightest. Quinton Jefferson had one good game, but otherwise has been invisible. Poona Ford is not a secret pass rushing threat we were all hoping he’d be (and I’m not even sure he’s done a whole lot to stuff the run like he’s supposed to). Rasheem Green has 2 sacks on the season and looks as lost as ever in Year Two. And the biggest disappointment of all has to go to L.J. Collier, who was a first rounder this year. Everyone who reviewed his college film pretty much screamed that this guy wouldn’t be any good, and they’re all proven to be correct. He’s been a healthy scratch more than he’s played! A first round pick! On a team with a bullshit defensive line that can’t do anything!

K.J. Wright looks slow and in depserate need of retirement. Mychal Kendricks hasn’t shown much of any reason why he needs to be out there so often that we have to stay in Base to the detriment of our pass defense. We’re getting shredded by opposing tight ends more than ever before, and this is a defense that traditionally gives up huge days to opposing tight ends (at least, when they hang onto the ball, Mark Andrews).

In the entire front seven, I’ve counted one guy – Clowney – who’s been a positive. We can hope, I guess, that Jarran Reed will return to his 2018 form sooner rather than later, but I’m not holding my breath. And I haven’t even gotten to our worst position group on the entire team: the safeties.

Tedric Thompson is so bad, the Seahawks had to trade a 5th round pick in 2020 to go and get Quandre Diggs (and a 7th rounder). People in Detroit are lamenting this deal more for the fact that they didn’t get very much in return; indeed, it looks like only a 5th rounder is pretty good value for someone like Diggs. But, he’s also not a cure-all. He’s not going to come in here and magically transform this unit into something worthwhile! He’s not Earl Thomas in his prime; nor is he Earl Thomas NOW! He’s a guy, a guy Detroit was willing to part with so they could play their younger guys (though he’s only 26 years old himself).

Yet, Tedric has found himself in the lineup so often because Lano Hill – who’s also not very good, misses a lot of tackles, can’t really cover anyone, and never makes any impact plays – can’t stay healthy, and because Bradley McDougald is undersized, has taken a HUGE step back in 2019, and is physically breaking down. Marquise Blair was finally inserted into the starting lineup last week, and played okay, but is also a rookie and is exclusively a strong safety (so he doesn’t fix our Tedric problem, which is everything).

Tedric gets beat deep in every game he plays. In a system that preaches getting turnovers and eliminating big plays on defense, he doesn’t really do either (he’s been the recipient of a couple of tipped balls as his two interceptions this year). Pete Carroll will never badmouth ANYONE … unless you repeatedly give up huge plays deep down field. You’ve got to be pretty bad – and pretty stupid – to suck this hard and not come to the realization that you need to be playing deeper than you are. To keep falling for the same play-action tricks. And, on top of everything, he’s SLOW. He’s slow, he doesn’t tackle well; he brings literally nothing to the table. Why he’s still on this team, I have no idea.

The only other real bright spot on this defense is Shaquill Griffin, who’s the only guy taking his game to another level. Tre Flowers has shown bright spots here and there, but until we see it from him on a consistent basis, I’m reserving my praise. Beyond those two guys, it’s a fucking disaster area at cornerback. The team rightly let Justin Coleman walk in free agency – he was going to cost too much, and this team is supposed to be able to develop younger guys to fill this role – but they’ve failed in their jobs to ACTUALLY develop anyone.

All of that having been said, the Seahawks are somehow 5-2 on the year. They also have the good fortune of playing the moribund Atlanta Falcons right now, who are probably one more loss away from firing Dan Quinn. So, watch our defense totally kick some fuckin’ ass on Sunday and make me look foolish. I HOPE THEY DO.

I also hope that we re-hire Dan Quinn this offseason to be our defensive coordinator again, and send Ken Norton Jr. his walking papers. Because if we thought Kris Richard was a huge step down, well we hadn’t seen ANYTHING until now!

Pete Carroll keeps preaching that things are going to turn around for this side of the ball. Well, ANY FUCKING TIME NOW WOULD BE GREAT!

The Seahawks Can Certainly Beat The Rams

Of course, just because they can doesn’t mean they will.

I have an inkling that things are going to go Seattle’s way in this one, and I base that on absolutely nothing. Since my gut is usually wrong about 8/10 times, my official prediction is that the Rams prevail. But, these are SLIGHTLY different teams than a year ago.

You remember last year, right? It was Week 5 in fact, just like this season! We were hosting the Rams – this time on a Sunday afternoon – and were 2-2, just coming off of a victory down in Arizona. Déjà vu all over again, right? Well, sort of. Now we’re 3-1, a little bit older, and a little bit wiser.

Last year, I don’t know if there was a non-homer on the planet who believed the Seahawks legitimately had a chance against the Rams. They were THE RAMS! They were undefeated, they’d unlocked something in their offense no one had ever seen before, and surely they’d steamroll the Seahawks!

Then, we did something crazy. We hung around and hung around, kept scoring right along with the Rams, and even had a brief 7-point lead heading into the fourth quarter. A couple of punts in the final frame on our end – and a couple scores on their end – left us with one final opportunity. The Rams had the ball, 4th & 1 at their own 42 yard line, and we just couldn’t get the stop we needed.

The Seahawks did everything they could do this past offseason in response to this game exclusively. We’re a better team than we were a year ago, even though the results on the field don’t really tell that story. The run defense is improved, which is huge. We’re getting moderately better play out of our secondary. Beyond that, the tape is out on the Rams. They haven’t been figured out entirely, but teams are slowing them down some. We know what it takes to beat this team, we just need to go out and execute.

On the offensive side of the ball, Russell Wilson is playing better than he has in his life. We’re starting to figure out how to get our running game where we want it, but I would argue we’re actually better in balancing out the offense to where it needs to be. In 2018, the Seahawks were just a LITTLE too run-heavy after those first couple weeks; I believe we’ve done a better job as a team to incorporate more passing early in games, without entirely losing our identity.

I LIKE that we like to run the ball a lot. I like to zig when other teams zag. Most teams are adept at playing in nickel defense, which means if we go heavy more often than not, other teams are forced to go with their less-effective base unit, or else risk the consequences of Chris Carson busting it down their throats. Then, when we go 3-wides and force teams to go nickel, we can still run it out of these formations for considerable gains.

The Rams’ defense looks beatable. They were gashed awfully hard by the Bucs last week, and maybe that’s because they were looking ahead. I can’t really say. All I know is that this team isn’t the same one it was last year, and that bodes well for a Seahawks victory.

This one will boil down to getting pressure on the quarterback. The Rams punted one time in Seattle last year, and that was the first drive of the game. Jared Goff has proven he’s not the same guy when he’s being pressured (just as he’s shown he’s not the same guy on the road as at home). The Seahawks have shown to not really be too interested in selling out to blitz the quarterback, so that’s going to necessitate a consistent push from our front fours and occasional front fives. If the Seahawks can do what they did to Kyler Murray last week, I think we’ll be just fine (particularly because Goff isn’t anywhere near the runner that Murray is). With how the Rams’ offensive line has played so far this year, I think this is more than do-able.

We finally have a primetime game to look forward to, so I expect the fans to be in a lather. We’re 3-1 and effectively playing for the division lead at this point (no one believes the 49ers are for real), so if I don’t see Rams players putting their hands over their ear holes, then the Seattle fans have truly gone soft and jaded. There is no bigger game than this one tonight, so we better BRING IT!

The biggest concern, again, is pressure on the quarterback, specifically what the Rams are able to do to our O-Line year-in and year-out. Aaron Donald’s winter home is right in Russell Wilson’s face; he’s got a lovely fireplace, a nice den with all his volumes of literature, and even a butler’s quarters where Justin Britt is on-call at all hours of the night to make him a motherfuckin’ sandwich whenever he wants one. Points are still going to be needed to beat the Rams; we’re not going to beat them in a grudgematch. So, keeping Wilson upright and providing running lanes to Carson will be of utmost importance.

If the Seahawks win, it’ll be in a squeaker. Something along the lines of 27-24 (my gut). If the Seahawks lose, probably the same deal, but my hunch is we’d lose somewhere in the 36-33 range (my head). Our defense hasn’t really been tested by an elite offense yet, which isn’t ideal. We’ve sort of held up, but there have also been some considerable lapses in tackling, in coverage, in pass rush, and even in run defense. If anyone is capable of taking advantage of our weaknesses, it’s the Rams. They’ve got the coaching staff, they’ve got the talent, and they’ve got the play-calling to make it happen. Fortunately, it’s a short week, so hopefully that disadvantage will prevent them from finding ALL of our weaknesses.

I’ll say this, I’d expect the Rams to be in no less than 3-wides for 95+% of the game. The Seahawks have shown a desire to stay in base defense, to keep Mychal Kendricks on the field for as long as possible. Part of that is because he’s so good and so versatile (he can cover as well as he rushes the passer, which makes him lethal against most teams), but part of that is also due to the fact that the Seahawks are afraid of being in Nickel too much. We don’t have Justin Coleman anymore, and his replacement is nowhere near his league. So, don’t be surprised if whichever linebacker is out in coverage gets beaten repeatedly by whoever’s in the slot (Woods or Kupp). Again, that points to the importance of getting pressure with just 4 or 5 guys; if Goff has all day to pick apart our defense, he will.

Russell Wilson Will Be The NFL MVP For The 2019 Season

SCORCHING MOLTEN LAVA TAKE ALERT! This is one of those things where if I’m right, I’ll be crowing like a jackass for the rest of my life. And, if I’m wrong, then it’ll never be spoken of again.

Remember the time I predicted the Seahawks would beat the Broncos in the Super Bowl before the season started?

Remember the time before that when I predicted the Ravens would beat the 49ers in the Super Bowl just 1 week into the regular season?

I’ll leave it to the rest of you to find all the times I’ve been wrong, and go out on a limb to say I’m the greatest sports mind of our generation.

I don’t often do a lot of prognosticating on the NFL’s MVP award – or ANY MVP award, really – because I kind of don’t care about it. The only time a Seahawk has won was in 2005, when Shaun Alexander ran for 1,880 yards and 27 touchdowns in leading the Seahawks to their first-ever Super Bowl appearance in a 13-3 regular season. I argued this at the time and maintain it to this day: the most important player to the Seahawks’ success that year was actually Matt Hasselbeck (we NEVER would’ve gotten anywhere without him), but since he didn’t have insanely gaudy stats (3,459 yards, 65.5% completions, 24 TDs, 9 INTs) he didn’t stand a chance.

Which brings me right back to this year and begs the question: if gaudy stats are a precursor, WHY IN THE HOLY HELL WOULD I PREDICT RUSSELL WILSON FOR THIS AWARD?

Look, it’s not the most thought-out opinion I’ve ever had. 99% of everything I say on here I pull straight from my gut, which has been notoriously inconsistent over the years. But, I’ll try to make an argument and you take it with however much salt you want.

Last year, Wilson had a pretty impressive season: 3,448 yards, 65.6% completions, 35 touchdowns, 7 interceptions, and a 110.9 passer rating. Of course, that was nothing compared to Patrick Mahomes’ season (the actual MVP): 5,097 yards, 66.0% completions, 50 TDs, 12 INTs, and 113.8 rating. Every step of the way (except for INTs) he was better than Wilson.

Well, the first part of my argument is that I believe Mahomes takes a step back in his second full year as a starter. I think he’ll come down to Earth and be more in the middle of the pack. He’ll almost certainly throw for over 4,000 yards, but I don’t think he’ll approach 50 TDs again, and I think his INTs will increase. I would also argue that whenever someone wins as thoroughly as he has, there’s inevitably a backlash among voters, who are constantly looking to give the award to someone different. If you don’t believe that to be true, then please explain to me why LeBron James has zero MVP awards since the 2012/2013 season, in spite of the fact that until this year, he carried his teams to every single NBA Championship series in that span. Also, while you’re at it, tell me why Bill Belichick hasn’t won since 2010 and yet Bruce Arians and Ron Rivera have both won twice in that span.

So, if you bet Mahomes at +400, you’re throwing your money away. Which brings me to the current betting odds:

  • Patrick Mahomes +400
  • Drew Brees +700
  • Aaron Rodgers +800
  • Andrew Luck +800
  • Tom Brady +1000
  • Baker Mayfield +1400
  • Russell Wilson +1600
  • Carson Wentz +1900
  • Philip Rivers +2200
  • Deshaun Watson +2500

That’s just the top 10. Some things stand out. All of those guys are quarterbacks (the most important players in the game) and all of those guys are projected to be in the playoffs (or at least contending for the playoffs). While being a quarterback isn’t a MUST, it’s certainly the safest bet. For a non-quarterback to win it, he has to do something REALLY special. Like Shaun Alexander’s touchdown totals. The last non-quarterback to win it was in 2012 when Adrian Peterson came within 8 yards of the all-time rushing yards record in a single season. The time before that, it was LaDainian Tomlinson the year after Alexander, when he ran for 1,815 yards and broke Alexander’s rushing touchdown record with 28.

If I were going to pick a non-QB in 2019, I’d lean towards Saquon Barkley (at +4000), but the Giants are so bad that he would literally have to break every single rushing record for it to happen.

Anyway, as you can see, Wilson is firmly in the Top 10 (shamefully behind Baker Mayfield, which is just a crime against humanity at this point), so Vegas likes his chances. With his new contract extension, Wilson’s name is in the zeitgeist. And, at this junction in his career, I believe there are enough fervent Wilson believers out there to really help make his case and keep his name alive.

Now, he can’t do it alone. It’s going to require the Seahawks to get back to the playoffs. It’ll probably even require the Seahawks to win the NFC West, which I believe this team is capable of. Ideally, the Seahawks will be a top 1 or 2 seed and have a BYE in the playoffs. Something like 12-4 could accomplish this, if everything breaks right. The Rams, you figure, are in for a Super Bowl hangover. The Saints and Bears figure to be our biggest obstacles, as I believe the NFC East will feast upon itself to keep their records down.

Playing well in marquee games is also a must. The Seahawks have five primetime games scheduled, including three in a row late in the season, right in that window where we separate the men from the boys in races like these. Wilson has traditionally stepped up big in these games, so I don’t see that as being an issue either.

With the team playing well, and with his reputation intact, that just leaves his biggest hurdle: his numbers.

Wilson has thrown for over 4,000 yards only twice in his career (though he was 17 yards away in 2017 from making it three times), and last year he was obviously limited by the offense’s design. Part of that was a backlash against the losses in our first two weeks, when the coaching staff had to re-set everything. But, ultimately this team was so successful running the ball that there wasn’t always a serious need to get things done through the air. While the plan heading into the season will be more of the same run-centric style, it wouldn’t totally shock me to see our effectiveness on the ground weaken (much in the same way that I see Mahomes’ numbers taking a dive). Opposing defenses will game plan better. And, I figure injuries will play a more significant role (Carson played in 14 games; I could see that dropping as he doesn’t seem like a guy who can stay healthy for the duration) with both the running backs and the O-Line. There’s no Mike Davis, who was a solid contributor, and I seriously question whether Penny will be up to the task if he’s thrust into the #1 role. There should be just enough of a dip in the running game to add a few hundred more yards to Wilson’s passing total.

On top of that, Wilson’s rushing yards are going to continue to go down with every year. He’s a quarterback, and an elite one at that. Elite quarterbacks throw the ball or hand it off, period. He’s heading into his 8th season, which puts him squarely in his prime. He’s had a Hall of Fame trajectory to this point in his career, and I don’t know a whole lot of Hall of Fame quarterbacks who haven’t won an MVP award. With that in mind, it sort of feels like it’s his destiny to win this award at least once. If we get to the end of the season, and no one has really stood out with awe-inspiring numbers at any position, maybe the voters will look around, see Wilson sitting there with 0 career MVPs, and figure he’s due. People have voted for things based on dumber logic before (say hello to every politician who ever seemed like a guy you’d want to have a beer with).

Getting back to the numbers, though, Wilson’s best chance seems to be with his touchdowns. While he was a far cry from Mahomes’ 50 last year, Wilson was still tied for third with 35. In 2017, he led the league with 34. In 2015, he came in sixth also with 34. I could easily see that number jump up into the 40’s, which should put him well within range. More than that, he’s usually very careful with the ball. Last year he tied a career low with only 7 INTs. I feel with his ability, he can shave that down even further. If he has an insane TD:INT ratio of something like 40:3, that’s the sort of stat that could push him over the top.

Finally, if we’re truly talking about the Most VALUABLE Player, then who has had more value to his team than Russell Wilson in his career to date? The knock against him has always been that he’s had an elite defense (except for last year) or an elite running game (except for a few years there post-Beastmode). Well, I’ve already argued that I don’t believe the running game will be as exceptional as it was in 2018, and as for the defense, it was already middle-of-the-road last year; this year, I think middle-of-the-road will be this unit’s CEILING. I think the defense could be truly terrible this year. We’ll likely rank in the bottom third or bottom quarter in the league in sacks and turnovers.

In 2018, the Seahawks had 43 sacks, 13 of which belonged to Frank Clark. 43 put us 11th in football; 30 would’ve been tied for 30th. Ziggy Ansah figures to mitigate some of that, but I highly doubt he’s going to get us all the way there. In fact, I don’t think he’ll even get us halfway there (yes, I’m putting Ansah’s over/under of sacks at 6.5, and I’ll bet the under). With no one else coming in to help account for the loss of Clark’s production (both in sacks, and in the help he provided someone like Jarran Reed, who saw his numbers skyrocket playing with Clark on the outside next to him). If Reed is our only pass-rushing threat (assuming Ansah misses multiple games, or plays through injury and is ineffective as a result), he can be easily neutralized, sending the D-Line tumbling towards the bottom of the league.

In 2018, the Seahawks had 12 interceptions, 5 of which belonged to Earl Thomas, Justin Coleman, and Frank Clark. 12 put us tied for 18th in football; 7 would’ve been tied for 29th. Bradley McDougald had 3 of his own last year, but he’s also an injury waiting to happen. Of our younger core in the defensive backfield, Shaquill Griffin, Tedric Thompson, Delano Hill, and Tre Flowers all combined for 3 total INTs (Hill and Flowers combining for 0). Who did we add to this group? A couple of rookies, and presumably whatever veterans we bring into Training Camp later this summer. There just isn’t a lot of turnover production in this unit. With the D-Line unable to get pressure, that puts more of the onus on the secondary, which is not NEARLY as talented as the Legion of Boom in its prime.

Now, of course, the Seahawks tied for the league lead in fumble recoveries in 2018, but as we all know, that’s largely based on the luck of the bouncing ball. We did tie for third in forced fumbles, which you’d hope would translate, but again our leader in that category – Frank Clark – is gone.

My point with all of this is to further indicate that I think the Seahawks’ defense will be bad. Our only hope is that we hold teams to an inordinate amount of field goals. But, my expectation is, for the Seahawks to win a lot of games, we’re going to rely exclusively on our offense. That means Russell Wilson will have to do considerably more than he had to do in 2018.

All that being said, it still doesn’t feel like a strong argument, and I get that. All I can say is, with this being the second season with a new offensive coordinator, you have to figure Brian Schottenheimer has had a full year to work with this team, and a second full off-season to tinker with his scheme. While it’ll be foolish to expect the running game to take a complete back seat, I think his ability to adjust in games will improve. With the defense putting us into more passing situations – based on game score alone – I think it’ll open things up for Wilson to really shine like he’s never quite shone before.

Wilson has had spurts. The back-half of his 2015 was as brilliant as it gets; if he had a full season of that, he’d be a hands-down winner of the MVP. I also thought 2018 was his best year yet, particularly from an efficiency standpoint. If we keep the efficiency (or even improve upon it slightly), increase touchdowns, decrease turnovers, and boost up those yards, there won’t be any other excuses to keep him from his due. ESPECIALLY when you consider Baldwin retired, and Lockett is his only quality veteran receiver heading into this season. Voters won’t have the L.O.B. to fall back on, nor will they have as dominant of a running game. They’ll have 8 full years’ worth of elite game play, with 2019 as a coronation of sorts.

In a muddled year of MVP candidates, Wilson will win it in a close voting battle. Mark my words (unless I’m wrong, then forget this ever happened).

The Seahawks Made Even More Trades & Drafted Even More Guys On Day 3 Of The NFL Draft 2019

Check out my post on Day 1, and my post on Day 2.

Just like I did yesterday, here’s a recap of all the wheeling and dealing from Day 3:

  • Trade from 114 to 120 with the Vikings, acquired 204 (sixth round)
  • Draft Gary Jennings, wide receiver from West Virginia, at 120
  • Draft Phil Haynes, guard from Wake Forest, at 124
  • Draft Ugo Amadi, defensive back from Oregon, at 132
  • Draft Ben Burr-Kirven, linebacker from Washington, at 142
  • Draft Travis Homer, running back from Miami, at 204
  • Draft Demarcus Christmas, defensive tackle from Florida State, at 209
  • Trade 2020 sixth round pick to Jaguars, acquired 236 (seventh round)
  • Draft John Ursua, wide receiver from Hawaii, at 236

So, for shits n’ giggs, here’s the entire Seahawks 2019 NFL Draft, in one bullet-pointed list:

  • First Round: L.J. Collier, DE
  • Second Round: Marquise Blair, S
  • Second Round: D.K. Metcalf, WR
  • Third Round: Cody Barton, LB
  • Fourth Round: Gary Jennings, WR
  • Fourth Round: Phil Haynes, G
  • Fourth Round: Ugo Amadi, DB
  • Fifth Round: Ben Burr-Kirven, LB
  • Sixth Round: Travis Homer, RB
  • Sixth Round: Demarcus Christmas, DT
  • Seventh Round: John Ursua, WR

I’m not gonna bother with the undrafted free agents, because the bottom of the roster is always so fluid, it would take more work than I’m willing to commit to keep track.

All in all, pretty good haul. Let’s talk about the Day 3 Dandies.

It’s hard to tell where Jennings fits. With Doug Baldwin all but retired at this point, we know that Tyler Lockett has the build and ability to play anywhere on the field. He can be our slot guy, he can be our deep threat on the outside, he can really do it all. Metcalf is our burner and our big body for deep passes and red zone targets. Jennings has good size (6’1, 214, 33″ arms) and speed (4.42 40). It seems like he’s another guy like Lockett who could play either slot or outside. Since he doesn’t appear to be as unique as someone like Metcalf, he’s probably going to have to separate himself with crisp route running and good hands. Regardless, he’s another receiver to throw on the pile, and as usual the Seahawks are playing the numbers game in trying to replace Baldwin’s hefty production.

Dude, I’m not gonna lie to you, I REALLY like the Haynes pick. While I like the guards the Seahawks have now, the starters are old and injury prone, and the backups – while good – are also injury prone. Haynes is a rock, who played a ton in college. He’s also super athletic, and super BIG (6’3, 322, 33.5″ arms); he’s everything we want and need at a guard spot, and it looks like he could backup either right or left. The best part of this pick is that he probably shouldn’t have to play, so if we do see him as a rookie, either we’re dealing with a TON of injuries ahead of him, or he’s earned the look with his quality play. Figure he fights for a starting spot in 2020 when Iupati moves on.

Amadi was a safety at Oregon, but also has a lot of experience playing corner as well. With all the safeties we have on roster, I can’t imagine he’ll get any play there, but with Justin Coleman moving on, there’s a clear opening at nickel corner. At 5’9, he’s not the typical outside corner you’d expect in a Seahawks defense. But, he is what we’ve seen at nickel. With only Akeem King ahead of him on the nickel corner depth chart, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Amadi starting before too long. Failing that, he’s another special teamer to throw onto the pile.

I was happy to see BBK get picked by the Seahawks. As a rookie, it’s hard to see him as anything more than a special teamer. But, if he develops, we could be looking at K.J. Wright’s replacement when his knees finally give out. He obviously isn’t the physical freak that Wright is, but BBK has the sideline-to-sideline speed and tenacity you love to see out of a coverage linebacker. Considering we have Bobby, Wright, and Kendricks all starting, along with Barton getting selected in the third round, you have to wonder what this means for the future of Shaquem Griffin. I think his days are numbered. I also think Quem should bulk up and try out for the LEO end spot. He’s gonna need a big spike in his productivity in training camp and pre-season to keep his spot on the team, that’s for sure.

Travis Homer looks like a true Seahawks running back. Dude is fast, decisive, and breaking tackles like a mofo! He looks like more than your typical 3rd Down Back, but it also looks like he has those abilities in him. He’ll need to catch the ball and block well to carve out a regular role on this team; but as it stands now it seems like a lock for Homer to take C.J. Prosise’s spot, which is fine by me.

I wanted the Seahawks to wait until later in the draft to pick up a run-stuffing D-Tackle, and by jove they did it! Christmas is 6’3, 294, so he’s not HUGE huge, but he’s big enough. Considering what we were able to get out of Poona Ford as an undrafted rookie, I would expect similar things out of Christmas. It’d be nice to have both of them, with Jarran Reed, on the inside holding it down. Christmas doesn’t need to be a pass rusher in the slightest for me to enjoy this pick, just as long as he clogs up those rushing lanes.

The shock of the final day of the draft was seeing the Seahawks trade into the 7th round. They did this by giving away a 2020 6th rounder, which smacks of the Seahawks not having any respect for their 6th round picks (see: the Brett Hundley disaster), but you can also see why it needed to be done. With Baldwin as good as gone, there’s a need to throw extra resources into the wide receiver position. At the same time, the Seahawks already used two picks on WR, so the odds of attracting a high-end undrafted free agent like John Ursua was going to be next-to-impossible. He said that a bunch of teams were looking to sign him, and I bet the odds of the Seahawks being the winner in that sweepstakes was pretty remote. They felt the same way, obviously, so they did what they had to do. Ursua is the definition of a slot receiver. His making the team will depend on how soon he can get in a groove with Wilson, so we’ll see.

All in all, the Seahawks checked off all the boxes they needed to, except maybe backup quarterback, but that’s obviously something that can wait. I’m pretty happy with how they went about it. It sounds like the Seahawks REALLY dominated the rest of the league when it came to getting excellent value in their trade-backs, while not giving up the farm on their trade-ups. Heading into this draft with 4 selections, and coming away with 11 new players, plus an extra 2nd rounder in 2020 (plus being smart with free agency and looking to bank 4 extra comp picks), I’m telling you this is A.P. general managing at its finest. We won’t know for a while if these players pan out, but as far as execution goes, I give this draft an A+.

Keeping An Eye On Seahawks-Related Free Agents

The moves are coming fast and furiously, so here’s a quick breakdown of any Seahawks-related signings to date, as well as where certain ex-Seahawks are now calling home.

Mike Davis just signed a 2-year, $6 million deal with the Bears, which feels like a great move for him, a great move for that team, and a solid fantasy football sleeper for anyone who needs a quality all-around back to stash on their bench. The RB room in Seattle was too crowded as it is, and that’s money that can be better spent elsewhere, as far as I’m concerned.

Mark Glowinski isn’t really a RECENT ex-Seahawk, but he did just get extended for 3 years and $18 million with the Colts, which sort of sets part of the market for guards. Might that be something close to what Sweezy and/or Fluker will get? We’ll see.

Frank Clark was obviously franchise tagged recently, and now we play the waiting game. Will he be signed to an extension? Will he be traded? Will he play it out on a 1-year deal? Will he hold out of OTA’s and/or Training Camp and/or the pre-season and/or the regular season? Boy howdy, do I dread the rest of this nonsense.

Sheldon Richardson played a year with the Vikings, and now has signed a 3-year deal with the Browns, so his career is going great.

Shamar Stephen just signed to return to the Vikings on a 3-year, $12.45 million deal. At best, he made no real positive impact last year; at worst, he helped drag down this team’s run defense to its lowest depths in the Pete Carroll era. Nothing about his signing makes any sense, but more power to the Vikings, I guess.

The inside linebacker market has exploded this year, which doesn’t DIRECTLY involve any Seahawks-adjacent players, but indirectly sets the market for what Bobby Wagner will be demanding next year. So, that’s fantastic.

Justin Coleman made the biggest splash so far among the ex-Seahawks, signing in Detroit for 4 years and $36 million, in becoming the highest-paid nickel corner in football. The Lions are in the process of signing literally anyone who has ever even looked at a Patriots jersey, so it should only be a matter of time before they’re in the market for a new rub n’ tug joint in the Miami area.

No word on Earl Thomas yet (other than some rumors he’s headed to Cleveland), but a couple safeties have already signed their big-money deals, and there are plenty more available safeties where that came from. I’m seriously beginning to wonder if ET will get even close to the money he was banking on.

James Carpenter signed on with the Falcons for 4 years and $21 million. He’s made a nice chunk of change for himself after his rookie deal with the Seahawks expired lo those many years ago.

Much more closer to home is the news last night that J.R. Sweezy signed a 2-year deal with the Cardinals, so that’s a bummer. Money’s looking a little tigher around Seahawksland than once thought! I also guess this means one of the younger guys will be slated to step up into a starting role. This could get dicey.

Finally, before anything else happens, Brett Hundley signed a 1-year deal with the Cardinals to be their backup. He got $2 million for his trouble, which is obviously more than the Seahawks should be willing to pay (especially considering they already brought in Paxton Lynch). The fact that the Seahawks traded a 6th round pick for a guy who never played a snap for us is pretty galling to most fans out there. It’s not that we don’t understand the logic behind the move; it’s that we disagree with the logic employed. I’m with most other Seahawks fans out there: if Russell Wilson goes down for the season, then I want to tank AS HARD AS POSSIBLE. The fact that the people in charge don’t agree is troubling to say the least.

Should The Seahawks Trade Frank Clark?

It kinda hit me not too long ago. On paper, it looks like the Seahawks have a lot of cap room to wheel and deal, but in reality they’ve got a lot of money tied up in players currently on the roster, and a lot of the free money we’ve got is earmarked to re-sign or extend players – again – currently on the roster. Sweezy and Fluker. Justin Coleman. An early extension for Jarran Reed before it costs us a mint to keep him around. And, of course, our all-world quarterback, among others. For a 10-6 wild card team that lost in the first round of the playoffs and never seriously contended for a division title, how exactly are the Seahawks supposed to better themselves? Particularly when there’s only 4 draft picks to play with, one of which will need to be traded down multiple times to hopefully get a normal allotment of choices.

Heading into this offseason, the Seahawks’ number 1 priority – and my number 1 priority FOR the Seahawks – was to extend Frank Clark. But, considering we’re going into the final year of Russell Wilson’s latest deal, and considering what the going rate is for a premiere defensive end, is it smart to have two guys taking up such a large percentage of the team’s cap? Wilson’s going to be angling for $35-$40 million per year as it is; should we also have a second guy getting $20 million per year? Even with the salary cap going up every year, that seems like a ridiculous figure.

At the same time, unless this team is sold on some rookie who’s the second coming of Patrick Mahomes, I don’t see any way this team can rid itself of Russell Wilson without setting the franchise back a decade or more. So, that leaves us with the option of trading away Frank Clark.

As things stand now, he’s already been franchised. That’s over $17 million for this one year alone. A second tag comes with, what, a 10% raise? Then, a third tag is a prohibitive amount of money beyond that. So, that’s sort of the baseline, and you’ve got to try to find a way to pay off his sense of security. Frank Clark doesn’t seem like he’s going to be afraid of the injury bug shortening his career; he’s willing to take this thing to the mat like more and more players are doing nowadays. Which is obviously well within his rights and probably a smart thing to do. He wants to get to real free agency, where his ultimate value is open to the highest bidder, because the lifespan of a professional football player is so short, and you’ve got to get yours while the getting’s good.

My question is: is he worth it?

Don’t get me wrong, Frank Clark is great. He started off his career pretty good, and he’s gotten better every year. I think he’s also got a lot of great years to come. I think we’ll see tremendous production out of him for at least the next 4-5 years. But, is he one of the 5 best defensive ends in the game? Is he 17-times better than someone we could select in this year’s draft?

I would argue it’s in the Seahawks’ best interests to trade him for a bevy of draft picks – ideally two first rounders, but at least a first, a third, and a sixth or something – and use that money and those picks to re-stock the team. Try to fill the Frank Clark-sized void with two or three guys.

More and more, I’m coming around to the thinking: is this something the Patriots would do? I think, without question, the Patriots never would’ve franchise tagged Clark, or if they did, it would be for the express purposes of trading him to a willing sucker for more draft picks. Or, at the very least, they’d find a way to pay him under the table like they’re doing for Tom Brady.

The point is, you have to keep emotions out of it when you’re making personnel decisions. And you can’t have too much money tied into too few guys. The Patriots would never give a guy like Frank Clark a max contract; instead they’d wait for someone like Michael Bennett to become available, trade a low-round draft pick for him, and pay him significantly less to get pretty close to the same production.

Now, of course, all that being said, it looks like the Seahawks are going to do whatever it takes to make Clark happy. It’s not the first time they’ve done something I thought was a mistake, and they’ve consistently proven me wrong time and time again. So, I’ll be curious to see how the dumpster diving goes for the rest of this off-season, as the team tries to improve over last year’s surprisingly positive record.

Then again, the Rams have already made a few moves to better themselves in what we thought would be an impossible cap situation. So, maybe it’ll all be pointless and we’ll be fighting for yet another wild card spot.

The Seahawks Need More Stars

Brock and Salk had an interesting conversation recently about the Seahawks and how close they are to contending for another Super Bowl. My takeaway (I tend to agree with Salk here) is that the Seahawks are short on stars. There are a lot of good players on this team, but not necessarily a lot of GREAT players. So, I decided to quickly do a comparison between the 2018/2019 Seahawks against the 2013 Super Bowl Champs.

Offensive (and Special Teams) Stars

Now

  • Russell Wilson – QB
  • Chris Carson – RB
  • Doug Baldwin – WR
  • Tyler Lockett – WR
  • Duane Brown – LT
  • Michael Dickson – P

Then

  • Russell Wilson – QB
  • Marshawn Lynch – RB
  • Golden Tate – WR
  • Doug Baldwin – WR
  • Russell Okung – LT
  • Max Unger – C
  • Jon Ryan – P

Right there, you’d have to say pretty comparable. Beastmode is better than Carson, the receivers are pretty close to the same, and 2018 Russell is better than 2013 Russell. Where we start to see some breakaway is on the other side of the ball.

Defensive Stars

Now

  • Frank Clark – DE
  • Jarran Reed – DT
  • Bobby Wagner – LB
  • (K.J. Wright – LB)

Then

  • Cliff Avril – DE
  • Michael Bennett – DT
  • Bobby Wagner – LB
  • K.J. Wright – LB
  • Earl Thomas – FS
  • Kam Chancellor – SS
  • Richard Sherman – CB

I’d say the Seahawks have a good start here, but I’d also say the combo of Bennett & Avril were better than the combo of Clark & Reed. Now, there’s obviously still room for both of the younger guys to grow, so in theory they could be even more dominant than they were in 2018, but as it stands right now that’s where we’re at. 2018 Bobby is better than 2013 Bobby, and while 2018 K.J. is better than 2013 K.J., the 2018 version was also injury prone, and is far from a lock to be re-signed to this team in 2019.

Then, there’s the secondary. The 2013 Seahawks not only had 3 superstars in the secondary, they had 3 ALL TIMERS. The 2018/2019 Seahawks don’t have anything CLOSE, and that’s ultimately their biggest hole to overcome (I won’t say “fill”, because I think we’re pretty much stuck with the guys we’ve got, which means we have to compensate in other ways defensively and as a team as a whole).

So, digging down further, let’s list the players who are just good starters/role players.

Now

  • Mike Davis – RB
  • Rashaad Penny – RB
  • All our Tight Ends
  • Justin Britt – C
  • Both starting Guards
  • Poona Ford – DT
  • Mychal Kendricks – LB
  • Justin Coleman – CB
  • Tre Flowers – CB
  • Shaq Griffin – CB
  • Bradley McDougald – SS

Then

  • All our Tight Ends
  • Sidney Rice – WR
  • Steven Hauschka – K
  • Chris Clemons – DE
  • Tony McDaniel – DT
  • Clinton McDonald – DT
  • Brandon Mebane – DT
  • Bruce Irvin – LB
  • Byron Maxwell – CB
  • Walter Thurmond – CB
  • Jeremy Lane – CB

I think our running back room now is stronger than it was then (but it didn’t matter in 2013 when Beastmode was all you needed). I think our offensive line as a whole is better now than it was then, even though the 2013 version was more top-heavy (Sweezy in 2018 is MUCH better than Sweezy in 2013, for instance; Fluker is better than Carpenter; and I would argue Ifedi is on par with Giacomini). I think both tight end rooms are a wash. But, as you can see, while the Seahawks of today have a so-so secondary, the BACKUPS in 2013 were on par with what we have now (and, I would argue, probably a little better). And, the other big difference is up front. Look at all the beef we had on the D-Line in 2013 compared to today! It’s no contest!

Also, not for nothing, but a few of those guys I listed might not be back in 2019, which is yet more work for the Seahawks to do this offseason.

As you can see, the talent disparity is pretty big. I wouldn’t say it’s insurmountable, but you have to wonder where we’re going to pick up the slack. With 4 draft picks and a bunch of our own stars we need to extend, it’s not like we have unlimited resources.

The good news is, the Seahawks of 2019 don’t need to beat the Seahawks of 2013. I would argue the 2013 Seahawks were one of the most talented teams of all time (especially on defense); we won’t see anyone like that in the NFL in 2019. We just have to get past the Rams and the rest of the NFC, then let the chips fall where they may.

It would HELP if we could develop a couple of those good starters into superstars, but this draft and free agency period will be pretty big. No whiffing, lest we middle our way to another Wild Card finish.

Seahawks Death Week: Ranking The Holes To Fill

It’s not all sunshine and puppydog noses in Seahawksland after an unexpected playoff berth in 2018. True, the floor was not as far down as we all thought coming off a disappointing 2017, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty of work to do. Here’s my ranking of the holes the Seahawks need to fill heading into the 2019 season, from most important to least.

#1 – Safety

Bradley McDougald is locked up through 2020, at a relative bargain for what he brought to the table when he was healthy the last couple years. The best part about B McD is he can play either strong or free safety, which is crucial because I’m making this position not only the most important to shore up in the offseason, but the biggest priority for the upcoming NFL Draft. That doesn’t NECESSARILY mean I need the Seahawks to use a first round pick on one; but I need for whoever they do end up drafting to hit and hit big for this defense to work. Ideally, we’d find a more capable Earl Thomas replacement at free safety, and slide McDougald over to strong safety, where he’s probably better suited to play. Sure, keep Tedric Thompson and Delano Hill around as depth/competition, but we can’t be counting on them longterm, not with what little improvement we saw over the course of the 2018 season.

#2 – Defensive End 2

DE 1 is obviously Frank Clark, and he’s coming back one way or another (either via a longterm extension, or a franchise tag). The real need is at that end spot opposite Clark. I like Jacob Martin an awful lot based on what he was able to do as a rookie, but at this point in his career he’s more of a rotational guy, and this team needs veteran stability at the other pass rusher spot. Ideally, there will be a stud free agent or two out on the open market, like in 2013 when we were able to sign Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett. I don’t know who the 2018 equivalent is, but that’s my idea.

#3 – Guards

This is most easily remedied by re-signing Fluker & Sweezy. I could see one of them maybe moving on, but losing both feels unrealistic. Behind them, we have Pocic and Simmons, a bust and an injury waiting to happen. I like Pocic and Simmons as depth right now more than I like handing them the job out of Training Camp, even though both are younger and with higher ceilings. Could the Seahawks get by with those two? Sure, but I don’t want to know what kind of growing pains this offense needs to go through to make it happen. Just bring back Fluker & Sweezy.

#4 – Weakside Linebacker

K.J. Wright is as good as gone, so this spot could certainly use some shoring up. At this point, we don’t know if Kendricks slots better at this spot or the strong side, but that’s certainly an option. Austin Calitro, I thought, acquitted himself well in his fill-in duty. The draft could also be an option, though obviously not with a high pick. Regardless, there’s going to be an immediate drop-off from the longtime quality we got from Wright; the idea is to not fall too far off his level.

#5 – Kicker

It’s time to do it up right. Ideally, we would’ve solved this puzzle in 2018 with Jason Myers, but we opted to go for the old man, which was fine for the short term, but a disaster overall. Kicker is a tricky thing to fix, as they’re so varied from year to year. Is there an elite leg coming out of college like Michael Dickson last year? God, I hope so.

#6 – Defensive Tackle 2 (or 3)

Jarran Reed has distinguished himself as a bona fide every-down DT in this league. Given his pass rush ability, he has certainly proven he’s more than just a widebody nose tackle. And, with the emergence of Poona Ford as a run stopping machine (and ostensibly the only one on the entire line), you could easily slide him into the starting nose tackle spot, meaning we need a third guy who can sort of do both, stop the run and maybe rush the passer a little. Really, we’re looking for a cheap, veteran, Tony McDaniel type, but GOD DAMMIT we need to fix the run defense from day 1!

#7 – Wide Receiver 3 (or 4)

David Moore could assert himself into this role, but he really disappeared toward the end of 2018 after a delightful start, so everything is up in the air with him right now. Jaron Brown picked things up in his place, but honestly he finished the year with 14 receptions on 19 targets, and his cap hit goes up to nearly $4 million in 2019, which is too much for what he’s bringing to the table. Better to get out from under that and bring in someone cheaper and better if we can.

#8 – Strongside Linebacker

Barkevious Mingo is signed through 2019, at a cap hit of $4.4 million, which isn’t outrageous, but he was another guy who disappeared toward the end of the season. I feel like his spot could be better filled by someone younger and cheaper, probably in the draft.

#9 – Cornerback 3 (or 4)

You’d think I’d have this higher, since I’m essentially begging the team to re-sign Justin Coleman. But, the Seahawks always seem to find a way to get by with whoever they put over there. Ideally, Coleman is extended while they also draft (late) his future replacement. Akeem King should be back too, which gives us nice depth, as I thought he played pretty well down the stretch.

#10 – Running Back 3

Figure Carson is your RB 1 and Penny will elevate to RB 2, this is your Mike Davis spot, only probably younger and cheaper.

#11 – Quarterback 2

Don’t go breaking the bank on Brett Hundley, that’s all I’m saying. Really, don’t break the bank on anyone. In any scenario where Russell Wilson goes down, it’s tank-city.

#12 – Tight End

Vannett is still on his rookie deal through 2019 and he’s fine. Dissly should be back to 100% by Training Camp, so he’s also fine. Ed Dickson, however, sees his cap hit triple over the next two years. He’s ostensibly TE 1, but he had only 12 catches on 13 targets, so I’m not convinced that’s worthy of over $4 million per year, regardless of what he brings to the table with his blocking. Seems like we could get by with the other two and bring in another cheap vet.