I Hope The Seahawks Get Killed This Week

It’s hard to figure out who’s giving fans more agita, the Seahawks or Mariners. Kind of a dead heat, if I’m being honest!

The Seahawks are 6-6 at the moment, losers of three straight. Two of those games – at the Rams, and at the Cowboys – were entirely winnable. If this team was 8-4 instead, we’d all be singing a vastly different tune. But, we’re 6-6, and the team that just decimated us two weeks ago is now hosting us, so I give our chances of prevailing a 0.0%.

For those keeping track at home, that’s now four (soon to be five) consecutive demoralizing defeats to the 49ers, including last year’s playoffs. At this point, they can’t even make the line high enough. Sometimes there are games where the world counts out the Seahawks, and then we improbably come out and fight hard and either prevail or make it a close loss. This isn’t going to be one of those games.

We can’t do anything against their defensive front. We can’t run the ball, we can’t keep guys off of Geno’s ass, we can’t NOT be in 3rd & Long situations, and when we’re in those situations, they’re almost certainly going to end in him being sacked. They don’t give up big plays, they don’t give up third down conversions, and quite frankly they hardly ever even let us get into scoring position, let alone let us score.

Then, when you factor in how much the Seahawks’ defense is shitting the bed of late – having given up 30+ points in three of the last five games – it’s no contest. The 49ers are too good at scheming guys open, and running roughshod through our front seven, that they can pretty much do whatever they want, whenever they want.

At this point, I don’t want the Seahawks to win. I don’t want us to barely eke into the playoffs. And I don’t want Geno Smith to be our quarterback next year. Or, rather, maybe it’s fine if he comes back, but I also want the Seahawks to be seriously committed to drafting a quarterback in a relevant round next year, and groom him to be the starter going forward. For that to happen, I need this team – and Geno in particular – to play like shit the rest of the way. The only time anything happens around here, it’s after the Seahawks fail to make the playoffs. Even if we just get a wild card spot and lose in the first round, that seems to signal everything is okay and we can keep the status quo. But, not making the post-season at all? That lights a fire under Pete and John’s ass like nobody’s business.

You know what else I’d love? Hiring a defensive coordinator with actual defensive coordinator experience. GOOD defensive coordinator experience! Someone who has had success elsewhere in the past, being hired to take over here and bring his brand of success with him. I’m tired of giving all these guys their first shots. Or, with Ken Norton, hiring someone who absolutely SUCKED with his previous team. It’s clear at this point that the Pete Carroll Coaching Tree is never going to be a thing, so let’s stop trying to create one and instead go out and find somebody who knows what the fuck he’s doing.

So, this week feels like a surefire loss. Next week at home is a little worrisome, because they flexed the Eagles game to Monday Night. The Seahawks are awesome on Mondays, but the Eagles are also one of the best teams in the NFC, so maybe there’s hope we lose that one as well and fall to 6-8. Is a 5-game losing streak enough to start cleaning house for next year? Probably not, if we find a way to win our last three games and escape with a winning record. That being said, it wouldn’t shock me in the slightest if there was another surprise loss in there somewhere. The Titans game is on the road, and they’re usually stout against the run. If Derrick Henry gets going, and Will Levis looks like the guy who made his initial start for them, maybe that’s another nail in the coffin. The Steelers have a pretty great front four on defense, and maybe our defense is the cure for what ails Kenny Pickett (if he’s able to make it back from injury by then). And the Cardinals have been frisky all season, so with that game being on the road, you never know if they might cause us to stumble.

Losing all our games is unrealistic, I know that. But, if we lose the games we’re supposed to lose, there’s an outside chance we go 1-2 in those last three games to finish 7-10. Is THAT bad enough to force major changes in this organization? God, I hope so. Hell, I hope 8-9 is enough! Whatever, just make a change! Put me out of my misery for Christ’s sake!

The best thing that could’ve happened to these particular Seahawks is 1) getting swept by the Rams, and 2) the Packers being relevant. Both are 6-6 and hold tiebreakers over us at the moment. And that’s not even counting the 6-6 Vikings, who are also lingering (technically the best of the 6-6 teams), with the Bucs & Saints both right there at 5-7. We could be tied with one or both of them after this week, which further helps my own personal cause of getting the Seahawks as far from the playoffs as possible.

Frank Clark Returns As The Seahawks Take On The Browns

There’s no discounting the loss of Uchenna Nwosu for this Seahawks defense. He was unquestionably our best defensive player last year, he earned a relatively big-money contract extension this past offseason, and even though the numbers aren’t eye-popping this season, the eye-test and the ancillary numbers point to Nwosu being our best outside linebacker/pass rusher. While it’s wonderful that Boye Mafe has taken the next step to be a super-productive second banana, after the loss of Nwosu, the drop-off is pretty considerable.

You may be saying to me, “Don’t forget about Darrell Taylor!” But I think it’s clear at this point that he’s pretty one-dimensional. There are a lot of reasons why the Seahawks have so drastically improved in their run defense – Bobby Wagner, Jarran Reed, Dre’Mont Jones, Devon Witherspoon, no more Cody Barton – but I think a big key is the reduced role Taylor plays on rushing downs. He’s a solid-to-good pass rusher in obvious passing situations, but other than that, I don’t really trust him as an all-around outside linebacker. That doesn’t mean Taylor doesn’t have value, or isn’t important to this team’s success. But, I take a less-is-more approach with him.

And, as for Derick Hall, I think there’s a lot of promise there, but he reminds me a bit of Boye Mafe as a rookie last year. Maybe a bigger, beefier version, but someone who probably is a year or two away, if he’s going to hit at all.

Seahawks fans have been focused on the impending trade deadline on October 31st for good reason. While the defense has been extraordinary – especially compared to expectations – you can always use a little more. With the way we like to rotate guys in and out, you can never have enough weapons at your disposal. Then, when you factor in the inevitable injuries that will crop up – starting with Nwosu last week – it’s all the more imperative to keep reloading on that side of the ball, not just with bodies, but competent ones.

It’s funny that some people automatically dismissed the Frank Clark option. Maybe they had a good reason; I guess we’ll find out. His numbers with Kansas City for those four seasons certainly weren’t explosive. It’s hard to say he justified the contract he was given; when you sign someone to a deal worth over $20 million per season, you expect more than an ordinary defensive end. He averaged just under 6 sacks per (regular) season, though he added 10.5 sacks in 12 post-season games with the Chiefs. Certainly, whenever I watched the Chiefs (which, yeah, a lot of those games were probably in the playoffs), it seemed like they were getting their money’s worth. But, they clearly felt he was expendable when they cut him this past offseason.

And, also clearly, he didn’t mesh with what the Broncos were trying to do. He signed with them for 2023, at a little under $5.5 million, and got cut after playing in only 2 games. They even went so far as to make him a healthy scratch and put him on the trade block – in addition to reworking his deal to lower the cap hit – but found no takers. Then, he just sat there as a free agent for a couple/few weeks, until the Seahawks came calling.

Now, of course, there are a lot of caveats to all of this. For starters, the Chiefs are – as most teams – up against the salary cap. They have a lot of stars who they’re paying truckloads of money, and they just can’t afford to keep everyone. Maybe they felt he was slipping; maybe they would’ve welcomed him back at the veteran minimum. Clark chose to get what he could with the Broncos; that’s fine. Once the Chiefs gave a little cookie to Chris Jones after his holdout, I’m sure they’re even further pressed against the cap, making in-season moves quite difficult. That could explain why Clark didn’t go back to KC (or, again, maybe they think he’s cooked). But, I don’t know if I’m ready to write Clark off simply because the Broncos cut him. That team is in shambles for a second straight season; it sure looks like they’re getting ready to clean house this upcoming offseason. If they’re indeed looking to covertly tank, getting rid of Clark is an easy way to ensure you’re not getting unwanted production on that side of the ball. Or, you know, maybe that makes two teams who believe Clark isn’t the player he once was.

Then, there’s the obvious argument that Clark and Nwosu really don’t play the same position. Clark is 6’3, 272 pounds; Nwosu is 6’2, 251 pounds. Clark is much closer in body type to Mario Edwards than he is to Nwosu or Mafe. Not for nothing, Clark is much closer in age (30) to Edwards (29) than he is to Nwosu (26) or Mafe (24). I love Clark as an edge-setter and a run defender, I still like him as a pass rush threat, but I don’t know if I love the idea of Clark trying to defend a skill position player in space. Maybe that, ultimately, is the reason why a certain segment of the Seahawks-following public dismissed the notion of a Clark return.

But, he’s here now. And I think this could be a perfect fit. What I’m not necessarily buying is that he knows the system. He was last here in 2018; that was Norton’s first season as DC. Maybe defense is defense; maybe this whole 3-4/4-3 thing is muddier than I think it is. But, I wouldn’t say the defense is exactly the same.

What I will say is that as part of a rotation, this could be the marriage we need. Keep Clark in there for rushing downs, then slide Taylor in there for obvious passing downs. Make that a platoon of sorts. Mafe can take over for Nwosu’s percentage of snaps, and we can use Hall to spell him. Also, I love the idea of a front four consisting of Clark, Reed, Jones, and Mafe if we’re in a jam and need to create pressure with a 4-man front. Throw Taylor into that mix on a blitz? *Chef’s Kiss*.

I would say I’m a little more on the positive end of the spectrum on this move. Very low risk, we didn’t give up a draft pick to get him, he’s getting the veteran pro-rated minimum, he’s at least familiar with the coaching staff and the city. He’s still young enough to where – if he plays well – he can keep getting boatloads of money thrown his way. Quality defensive linemen who can rush the passer can play well into their 30’s, so it’s not like he’s a running back or a receiver or something. It’s a high value position, an area of need, and we have an immediate opening. The downside is: maybe he’s finished, he’s nothing more than a body, and he’ll be out of the league in a year or two. That’s what we have to find out. But, he’s not blocking anyone, he shouldn’t command an inordinate percentage of snaps (unless we have more injuries), and if it doesn’t work out, that’s fine, Nwosu will be back in 2024 anyway.

That brings us to the Cleveland Browns this Sunday. I found it extremely intriguing that Pete Carroll was already talking about him playing this weekend, even though he hadn’t shown up yet. That tells me Clark must be in pretty good shape. I can’t wait to watch this game and see what he has in the tank.

I also can’t wait to watch this game because we’re FINALLY bringing back the throwback jerseys! It’s so stupid that it’s taken this long to get here, but it’ll be so great to see them on the field again. Never has it felt more like me rooting for clothing than it will on Sunday.

This game also features the return of D.K. Metcalf, who had some interesting things to say at his weekly press conference (namely that he wasn’t allowed to talk about injuries). More and more, it’s looking like last week was a suspension, hidden behind the cloud of his nagging pain complaints. Regardless, we’ll need him; I just hope he’s got his head in the game, and this isn’t the beginning of an irreparable rift with the team.

I am NOT super confident about this one. The Browns’ defense is one of the true elites in the league this year. Considering we’re coming off back-to-back sub-par outings by our offense, the last thing I wanted to see is Myles Garrett making mincemeat of our O-Line. Injuries are still killing us up front – with Bradford looking to be out, possibly being replaced by Jason Peters, who is more of a tackle than a guard – and we’d be crazy if we don’t chip him with a tight end or a running back on every play.

Then, it came out that Kenneth Walker hasn’t practiced for the last two days. He took on the full load of running back production last weekend – with Charbonnet out – and it looks like he’s paying the price. Charbonnet is on track to return this week, but it might be in time to make his first NFL start. I’ve adjusted my fantasy team accordingly, to pick him up as a replacement, just in case.

On the flipside, Deshaun Watson is out this week. He tried to come back last week, was ineffective, and it was clear that he wasn’t ready. So, P.J. Walker gets the start in his place. The Browns are also banged up at running back, and aside from Amari Cooper (who looks diminished in his old age) and Njoku, I don’t know who their pass catchers are.

This game is just screaming Low Scoring Grudgematch. I think it’s going to be extremely close throughout, and if either team goes up by two scores in the second half, I think it’s over. I worry about the Seahawks here, because while I think this is a game we should win – even if it’s in an ugly fashion like last week’s 20-10 victory over the Cards – I could also see our offense completely bottoming out. If it’s 10-0 late in the third quarter, I don’t believe we have the horses to come back against that ferocious pass rush.

What sucks is that we’re two weeks away from a potential Get Right game for our offense. That means we have to figure out some way to put points on the board against elite defenses, because the Browns aren’t the first, and they won’t be the last.

I think this will be, like, a 16-12 Seahawks victory. Ugly as all get-out, but as long as we can hold the Browns to field goals, we should be in good shape.

Are The Seahawks Progressing Faster Than Usual This Season?

The Seahawks under Pete Carroll have a certain reputation, that I don’t think is actually warranted anymore. They’re a team that starts slow, but then comes together and improves as the season goes along, until they slam into a home stretch that puts them over the top by playoff time. The biggest lament of this scenario is the fact that the Seahawks usually dick around too much early in the season – losing too many games – and are unable to qualify for a divisional title or a top seed in the conference. We might be playing the best ball by the end of the regular season, but we’re going to be playing that ball on the road, and it makes a big difference in the playoffs.

Anyway, that’s the reputation, but again, if you go back season-by-season, I don’t know if it’s really true anymore. It probably hasn’t been true since 2018. But, just go with me on this.

If we focus exclusively on the defense – and, spoiler alert, that’s what the title of this post is referring to – then I think you very much CAN make that argument, across a long span of time. Probably dating back to 2016. As the L.O.B. aged out and went their separate ways, the Seahawks have failed in trying to replenish this team with defensive stars. It’s been nothing but middling players, with an occasional splash trade for an overpriced veteran who isn’t able to do enough to bring this unit back to its former glories.

So, what happens? Well, we start each and every season looking like the worst defense in all of football. We look like that, because we ARE that. Doesn’t matter if it’s Kris Richard, Ken Norton Jr., or Clint Hurtt; this side of the ball is going to massively struggle early, Pete Carroll is going to assert his will to get things more in line, and it’s eventually going to look somewhat better. But, that never lasts, because there’s a major talent shortage, and you can only hold the dike together with scotch tape and bungee cords for so long before it bursts.

Why does this year look different? How did we – in one offseason – go from looking like one of the worst defenses in football, to potentially looking like one of the best? Don’t get me wrong; I’m not saying we’re the 49ers or the Jets or something. But a difference from being Bottom 10 to Top 10 is certainly massive.

Well, let’s start with the guys we brought in. Dre’Mont Jones, Bobby Wagner, Jarran Reed, Devon Witherspoon, Julian Love, Mario Edwards, Derick Hall, Devin Bush, and Cameron Young are the major culprits. Then, there’s the return of Jamal Adams, Tre Brown, and Jordyn Brooks from injury. And maybe the biggest catalyst is the improvement of Boye Mafe from year one to year two.

Now, let’s look at who’s NOT here. Cody Barton, Ryan Neal, Shelby Harris, Al Woods, Poona Ford, Quinton Jefferson, Bruce Irvin, L.J. Collier, and Bryan Mone (still on the roster, but injured). There’s a lot of addition by subtraction going on here. Neal is probably the best player in this group, but the combo of Love and Adams certainly more than makes up for his loss. Barton is one of the worst linebackers in football. Poona has hardly even played. Collier is who we thought he was. The rest of them are role players at best. And maybe the biggest catalyst here is the fact that Mike Jackson’s role has been severely diminished with Brown and Woolen healthy. Rather than being this team’s 2nd corner, he’s now the 4th or even 5th option, which is probably where he belongs (and as far as 4th or 5th corners goes, he’s pretty good at that).

So, it definitely looks like the Seahawks pulled all the right strings in this past offseason.

Witherspoon is obviously getting the lion’s share of attention, for good reason. He’s wonderful! We’ve never seen someone quite like him, and he’s quickly proving why he was deemed to be the #5 overall pick, and the best DB in the draft. I would say, however, that the biggest surprise has been Jarran Reed. The NFL more or less left him for dead after he left the Seahawks the first time, since he hasn’t done a whole lot with the Chiefs or Packers. He’s back and he might be better than ever!

The combo of Reed and Jones is better than any interior option we’ve had since the L.O.B. days. Jones got off to a bit of a slow start, but he’s beginning to assert himself, and it’s really paying dividends. You can see it in the VAST improvement of our run defense, but they also have 5 sacks between them after 5 games.

Having Wagner and Brooks together again has also been a breath of fresh air. I am in awe over Brooks’ ability to return so quickly from ACL surgery. Not just to play since week 1, but to play at a high level. You also want to lump in Witherspoon and a healthy Adams into this mix, because they’re wreaking havoc near the line of scrimmage.

We talk about depth a lot with the Seahawks’ defense. They don’t seem to have – on paper – the kind of front-line stars that teams like the 49ers, Jets, and Eagles have. Those teams, as we’ve seen, also have lots of depth, but I think that’s easy to come by when you have so many superstars. Put anyone with a pulse around Nick Bosa, Fletcher Cox, and Quinnen Williams, and you’re bound to look good. But, the Seahawks – 1 through 25 – look pretty rock solid, and it’s making all the difference.

Nwosu is still playing like he did last year. Mafe, again, has taken a clear step forward in his progression (tied for the team lead in sacks with Reed). Hall and Darrell Taylor are still valuable rotational pieces in the pass rush. Even Edwards and Young have plugged holes and made some noise.

Thus far, the secondary – the unit we all expected to be among the best in the game – has been the biggest disappointment. But, I would argue they’ve also been the most banged up. Adams, as per usual, has only played in a game and a quarter. Woolen was injured before the season and came late to the party. Ditto Witherspoon. Brown has been in and out. Now, we’re down Coby Bryant with a toe injury (currently on IR). We’ve had to use Love more than we would’ve liked, and probably in areas where he’s not best utilized. Jackson, in spite of a promising 2022, and a highly-regarded training camp, has not looked good. Diggs has had everything on his plate, and hasn’t been able to just let it rip the way he does best (as a turnover machine). With our stars returning, though, everyone else can settle into the roles that best maximize their talents, and you get what we’ve seen the last two games: the Seahawks shutting down opposing passing games (including the vaunted Bengals) the way we all expected heading into the season.

We can’t claim the Seahawks are up there with the true elites, simply because when injuries start to crop up again, we won’t have enough behind them to keep us in that upper echelon. But, if we can avoid truly devastating injuries, and somehow cobble together the rest of this season with Adams involved ON the field, I think there’s real potential here.

The offense won’t always be as bad as they were against the Bengals. I wouldn’t even say they were truly bad, just inept in the red zone. They should keep us in most every game the rest of the way. But, that’s a two-way street. I firmly believe this defense can also keep us in every game the rest of the way. Then, it comes down to execution, and a little luck.

We’re not in an insurmountable hole, even though a 3-2 record – after losing a very winnable game – is far from ideal. Having the defense seemingly figured out only a month into the season is a big boost for this team, though! Now, I could be dead wrong, and this unit will revert back to giving up tons of yards and points this very next game. But, I don’t think I’m off here. And that will mean big things for this team the rest of the way.

We have 12 games left. 6 at home, 6 on the road. If we break it up, three of our next four are at home (Arizona, Cleveland, at Baltimore, Washington). Two of those games should be wins, if we expect to be a playoff team. With the other two, I would say both are winnable, and you’d like to come away from this stretch at least 3-1. That makes us 6-3 as we head into the gauntlet of the schedule.

At the Rams (didn’t have this one pegged as part of the gauntlet heading into the season), 49ers on Thanksgiving night, at Dallas also on Thursday, at 49ers, home for the Eagles. I would like to believe we can compete with L.A., but I dunno. If we manage to win that one, it’ll likely have to be a shootout. Dallas seems like a game we might be able to steal. The Eagles don’t look quite as dominant as they did last year. That leaves us with two against our direct rivals, the 49ers. If we can split those two, and win 2 of 3 against the rest, that puts us at 9-5 heading into the stretch run. Seems far more likely we’re 8-6, and still clinging to wild card hopes, but we’ll see.

The final three games are at Tennessee, home for Pittsburgh, and at Arizona. You’d like to think, by that point, those teams will have nothing to play for. Regardless, all are incredibly flawed. Still, when have we ever managed to be perfect in the final month against incredibly flawed teams? Seems like we always bungle one of these types of games. 3-0 would put us at 11-6 or 12-5, with a puncher’s chance at the division (but, almost certainly falling short, because the 49ers seem destined to make the Super Bowl). If we go 2-1 (which is my official prediction), that still puts us at 10-7 or 11-6, which is almost assuredly a wild card spot.

I will say that – other than Washington and Arizona – there’s a lot of high-end defenses on this slate. So, of course, now that we’re feeling good about our defense, it’ll be the offense that we have to worry about (the one thing we were all feeling pretty great about heading into the season). Isn’t it always the way? We just can’t have nice things.

The Seahawks Suck At Hiring Defensive Coordinators

As Sean Desai gets poached by the Eagles to be their defensive coordinator – following one season as our … Associate Head Coach & Defensive Assistant (emphasis on the secondary) – I can’t help but think we’re keeping the wrong guy.

Clint Hurtt has been a punching bag for me ever since he was promoted from Underwhelming Defensive Line Coach to Underwhelming Defensive Coordinator, following the firing of Ken Norton Jr. Why hire some guy to install Vic Fangio’s defensive scheme when you could’ve just hired Vic Fucking Fangio (hired by the Dolphins this year, after taking 2022 off)? It doesn’t seem like we did any sort of DC search whatsoever last year. At the very least, we could’ve made Desai our DC and made Hurtt our Associate Head Coach or whatever.

It’s going to be pretty easy to compare the three guys – Desai, Hurtt, and Fangio – as they all embark on their jobs. Desai has the advantage of coaching for a Super Bowl team that was largely defined by their excellent defense. Fangio is going to a squad with a lot of talent, that figures to bolster that talent (considering they’re pretty well set on offense, assuming they opt to keep Tua) this offseason. Hurtt has one small advantage in that he’s been in the same organization for a number of years, with this being his second year in charge. The experience and familiarity should hopefully do him well.

I would also argue that Hurtt has the easiest job of the three. It’s been lean times for the Seahawks defense in recent years; all he has to do is build it up to be semi-competent and he’ll have done his job. If he exceeds expectations, then he should be on the fast track to head coaching opportunities. Whereas Desai is being given the keys of a defense that’s already great; there’s nowhere to go but down! And Fangio has the misfortune of being in a conference with a lot of elite offensive talent to go up against. He’s also getting up there in age and at some point you have to wonder when he’s going to shuffle off into retirement.

That being said, I have the least faith in Hurtt. It wouldn’t shock me in the slightest if the Seahawks continue to be inept. At which point, I’ll be the one “I Told You So”-ing on this blog until my fingers fall off.

What was the one thing that worked on the 2022 Seahawks defense? Where was the one area that exceeded expectations (while the others flopped miserably)? It was the secondary. Where Desai was firmly in charge. I can only dream of what might’ve been for the rest of the defense. It’s not that I expect the secondary to suddenly take a step back; I’m just lamenting the loss of someone who seems so damned good at his job (in favor of keeping someone who, I guess, gives good interview?).

But, this has been a long string of terrible defensive coordinators, with precious few bright spots.

Ken Norton was a bust. Kris Richard oversaw the dismantling of a once-great unit. Dan Quinn was the lone amazing hire by Pete Carroll in his tenure. Even Gus Bradley, I don’t know if he was good, so much as the organization just so happened to draft and sign a lot of future Hall of Famers. Bradley sure as shit hasn’t done a damn thing in any of his other jobs, as head coach or DC.

This isn’t just a Pete Carroll problem, though. Ray Rhodes was the only good hire of the Mike Holmgren tenure (though the tragic loss of Fritz Shurmur in 1999 – before he could even coach a game for us – was painfully unfortunate). And, none of the guys pre-Holmgren were anything special; even Tom Catlin – the DC under Chuck Knox – was never able to parlay that into anything outside of Seattle (even taking a demotion to linebackers coach once Knox left the organization).

It’s not that the Seahawks have always been terrible on defense outside of the Dan Quinn era; we’ve had plenty of talented players come through the organization since its inception. But, I would argue we’ve largely been underwhelming. Sometimes that’s due to bad luck, or injuries, or randomness. Sometimes it’s due to incompetence at the top, or a lack of skilled defenders. But, it sucks when you see the organization making a mistake in the moment.

I want the Seahawks to be good. I’ll often bend over backwards to talk myself into this team being better than it actually is. But, I can’t do anything with Clint Hurtt. Just like I couldn’t do anything with Ken Norton. We just have to fucking endure it. We have to watch mediocre defense for another 2-4 years before another change will inevitably have to be made. Meanwhile, we’re all going to wish the Seahawks had opted to choose Desai, because even if the Eagles take a slight step back on defense, they’re still going to be leaps and bounds better than the Seahawks for the foreseeable future.

It Was Almost A Perfect Weekend For The Seahawks

I wasn’t lying when I went into this season telling you I don’t give a shit about watching the Seahawks play football in 2022. So, this past Sunday, I made other plans. I have no interest in watching this team try to Geno Smith its way to a mediocre record. The only upside for this team is if we totally bottom out and generate a top 5 pick.

But, that’s hard to cheer for when you’re actually sitting down and watching the games. Decades of conditioning come flooding back into your brain after the tanking hard-on wears off, and you find yourself rooting against your own best interests. So, maybe it’s better to just stay away, take the better part of a year off, and come back stronger when you’re not so disgruntled and disillusioned.

As I wrote about last week, this game against the Falcons was a great litmus test for the Seahawks. How bad can we REALLY be? Well, against a young and rebuilding Falcons team, we couldn’t get stops early, and we couldn’t move the ball late when it mattered most. As I said, this means there’s really no limit to how bad the Seahawks can be.

Our victory over the Broncos in week 1 will look more and more like an anomaly with every passing week. We caught them at exactly the right time, in exactly the right place, where they hadn’t yet gelled offensively, and where our crowd noise could most affect them. Play that game again in Week 13, and I have no doubt in my mind there’d be a VERY different outcome.

Speaking of the Broncos, the weekend was nearly perfect for the Seahawks, except for the fact that the 49ers couldn’t do ANYTHING offensively, and lost an 11-10 slugfest to the Broncos in Denver. That game would have been MASSIVE in helping the Seahawks generate another quality draft pick.

As it stands, the Broncos are 2-1, winning a couple of similar, ugly contests. Contests that might’ve gone either way if one or two plays broke differently. We as Seahawks fans have gotten to see a lot of Russell Wilson this year, and it’s clear they haven’t unlocked what makes him special yet. But, they’re still winning, and that’s ultimately all that matters. I don’t give a shit that his home crowd chants the dwindling play clock, or that they look shaky on offense. They’re winning in spite of this – mostly thanks to an elite defense – and that’s no bueno for the Seahawks. If they ever figure out how to utilize Wilson in an effective offense, it’s going to be night and day by season’s end. They still have the capacity to go all the way.

As for the Seahawks, what can you say? We scored 20 points in the first half, and three points the rest of the way. Sort of similar to how the Broncos game went in week one. We STARTED to get Rashaad Penny going (he would finish 14 for 66), but clearly were not able to keep it up. Or stick with it, I still can’t tell what this team is doing offensively.

What I do see is that Geno Smith threw the ball 44 times. This is a game that was ALWAYS within a single score. We were never more than 7 points down, and often it was only 3-4 points. That’s a neutral game script. Why in the everloving fuck is Geno Smith throwing the ball 44 times in a game that was 100% neutral down to the bitter end?

Prior to the season, I think I made a prediction that the Seahawks would finish around 7-10 (because we can’t have nice things) and that would be solely due to the coaching staff making chicken salad out of chicken shit. But, if Geno Smith is being asked to do this much – after, what, an 8-year layoff between starting gigs? – and if the defense looks as bad, if not worse, than it ever was under Ken Norton, then I think we have to legitimately reconsider things.

Which, again, is ultimately a good thing. Give us the top pick! Let us go to town with a brand new franchise quarterback next year! Buuuuuuuut, I think there’s significant reason for doubt that this coaching staff and front office has the ability to find that player, and turn him into a winner.

Kudos to Lockett (9 for 76) and Metcalf (5 for 64 and a TD) for making fantasy owners happy. Kudos to Darrell Taylor for finally showing up to the party with a good game. Kudos to Jason Myers for being perfect on his kicks. And Kudos to Michael Dickson for two punts inside the 20 yard line.

That’s it. That’s all I got. Kudos to Geno Smith for having the ball at the end of the game and not being able to do anything with it. I was listening to that part of the game on my drive home, and gave a little fist pump every time he took a back-breaking sack.

The Seahawks Looked Predictably Inept Against The 49ers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Seahawks Have Some New Defensive Assistant Coaches

The biggest news of the offseason for the Seattle Seahawks so far – that isn’t just talking head nonsense from hot take factories – is the firing of defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. It was a long time coming and, frankly, one of those hires where you knew it was going to go poorly as soon as it was announced. We let it slide – more or less – because we knew it was just a puppet hire of someone who would be running Pete Carroll’s defense.

Which leads me to my first question: were Gus Bradley and Dan Quinn also puppet hires who just ran Pete Carroll’s defense? Or did they just so happen to run a similar defense to what we know Pete likes to install? I don’t get the sense that this was the case with these two, yet it’s what we automatically cling to when we talk about the hires of Kris Richard and Ken Norton. It seems overly dismissive and simplistic.

Whatever the case, I think we can all agree that the Seahawks saw great success with the system ran by Bradley and Quinn, and their goal with Richard and Norton was to continue with what had been built. Unfortunately for the latter two gentlemen, they were saddled with a drastic downgrade in defensive talent. But, with Norton in particular, it sure didn’t seem like he brought anything to the table, and that was his ultimate downfall.

I don’t know if there’s a right way or a wrong way to hire a coach. You can hire from within, you can make a big splash on a retread who rehabilitated his coaching image, you can hire a hotshot coach’s assistant to hope you capture the same magic, you can pilfer the college ranks, you can hire a coordinator from another team. The possibilities are endless, and are riddled with successes and failures. So, I don’t want to say I’m down on Clint Hurtt – new defensive coordinator of the Seattle Seahawks – simply because he was promoted from within the organization. But, I’ve seen what he’s done for this team so far, and I’m far from impressed.

I was already dissatisfied with the job Clint Hurtt was doing even before Ken Norton was fired. He’s been with the Seahawks since 2017 – as the D-Line coach, as well as the assistant head coach – but what has he done exactly to bolster our defensive line? Let’s go through our draft picks since 2017: Malik McDowell (bust), Naz Jones (bust), Rasheem Green (role player at best), L.J. Collier (not even a good role player), Demarcus Christmas (bust), Darrell Taylor (finally, someone good), Alton Robinson (role player). The Seahawks have consistently underwhelmed along the defensive line in his tenure. The pass rush has been up and down, and the run defense has been up and down. I don’t understand what it is, exactly, he does well.

At least when you’re talking about Kris Richard and Ken Norton, you’re talking about a former secondary coach and linebackers coach (respectively) who were phenomenal at those jobs! It doesn’t appear Hurtt has ever been successful at any of his stops. It certainly doesn’t explain this fast-track he’s been on up to this point.

When the Seattle Times announced his hire, it was with the knowledge that Ed Donatell was also going to be hired as a defensive assistant in some capacity. The two, in conjunction, both worked under Vic Fangio, who was and presumably still IS one of the best defensive coordinators in the game today. The obvious next question is: if we want to run his system going forward, why didn’t we just hire HIM?! But, whatever. Presumably, once you know the system, then it’s a matter of getting the right guys to fit within that system. You still need someone to call plays and make adjustments mid-game. I hate the fact that we’re going into a second consecutive season with a first-time play-caller (last year, Shane Waldron for the offense; now Hurtt for the defense).

This is worsened by the fact that Donatell was just hired to be Minnesota’s DC. Hurtt is more palatable with a veteran like Donatell backing him up.

I’m actually heartened with the new assistants the Seahawks hired to coach under Hurtt, though. Karl Scott was brought in to coach the secondary (and be the passing game coordinator). He’s another hot shot who’s on a fast-track, coming from coaching the secondary in Alabama (2018-2020) and the Vikings (2021). Nick Saban, obviously, is the greatest college coach who ever lived, and I have the utmost respect for the old Vikings coaching staff, especially with their defensive pedigree. So, at least he’s coached under some smart dudes.

I’m even more excited for Sean Desai, who looks like a brilliant football mind, coming over from the Bears (starting in 2013, working his way up to DC in 2021). He was in the hunt for numerous DC jobs around the league, before settling here as an Associate Head Coach for the defense.

I’ll be honest, I actually think the Seahawks are making a huge mistake. I think they should’ve just hired Desai to be the DC, and given Hurtt the boot. This seems like something that could backfire in a big way, with Hurtt ultimately failing (and being fired within four years) and Desai moving on to bigger and better things after 2022. Here’s hoping he can make a big impact in a short period of time.

Ultimately, though, we don’t know how good or bad Hurtt is going to be. I’m just assuming he’ll be bad, and am staking my claim right now that this is an uninspiring hire. I wish the Seahawks would’ve made another choice, but who knows? I could be totally wrong. Maybe he’s been a diamond in the rough this whole time and it was Ken Norton who was holding him back. Odds seem to be stacked against that. So, rather than be the usual homer that I am, I’m going to be a Debbie Downer instead, so when we look back in a few years, I’ll get to say I was right from the very beginning.

Yay.

Of course, that just means the Seahawks will continue to suck between now and then, and nobody wants that.

Next up, I’ll be writing about the shake-up along the offensive line coaching staff.

The Seahawks Are In The Market For A New Defensive Coordinator

The most pressing move of this offseason – non-player edition – was the fact that the Seahawks needed to fire Ken Norton Jr. and bring in a replacement defensive coordinator who’s actually worth a damn. According to recent reports, it looks like we’re halfway there.

It’s hard to get excited at a time like this, for a couple of reasons. For starters, it’s a little ghoulish to cheer for someone getting fired. But, as a former player and a longtime coach – who should have no trouble finding another job, at the very least, as a linebackers coach (his specialty) – I don’t think Ken Norton is hurting for money. If anything, it’s probably a little embarrassing and disappointing for him to be dismissed – especially when you can argue this is his second time failing as a defensive coordinator, meaning that there probably won’t be a third opportunity in his future, nor any opportunities for promotions to head coach in the NFL one day – but as a football coach, you have to get used to the idea of moving around and changing jobs every few years. That’s just the way it works the vast majority of the time.

Knowing that Ken Norton will be fine and will land on his feet, I would say it’s also hard to get excited right now because the great unknown is: who will be his replacement?

Initial reports are pointing to Ed Donatell – the Broncos’ most recent DC under Vic Fangio – and our very own defensive line coach, Clint Hurtt. As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t understand why Hurtt is still employed here. What has he done to bolster the defensive line one iota since being hired in 2017? You’d think you’d have to master one smaller job before being promoted to overseeing the entire big job of defensive coordinator!

As for Donatell, he was infamously the DC at Washington when the Huskies went 0-12 in 2008. He has relatively extensive experience at the position – 11 years, across 4 different stops – and I remember his Denver defenses being pretty good (I’m sure a Broncos fan might tell me something different). If I had to choose between the two, I guess I’d go with Donatell.

But, the Seahawks don’t have to choose between just those two! They could have the pick of the litter if they really wanted! Why are we going after the defensive coordinator under Vic Fangio, when we could go after Vic Fangio himself?! He’s been pretty good-to-great everywhere he’s been as a DC. And he’s also pretty old school in his mindset, which would lead me to believe he and Pete Carroll would get along well enough.

The last two DCs we’ve had are Norton and Kris Richard. Norton with the Seahawks was in his second career stint as a DC (previously with the Raiders), Richard was in his first (after skyrocketing through the organization since Carroll first arrived). I would prefer the Seahawks go away from untested coordinators and bring in a salty veteran who knows what he’s doing.

It’s fair to question the roster at this point, and how much it could conceivably improve over this offseason. If you put great players out there – like we had in the L.O.B. era – you can hire pretty much anyone to be your DC and get great production. But, we’ve largely had mediocre defenses in the years post-Dan Quinn (who is not an option at this point, since he’s already a DC in Dallas). Failing that, you want a coordinator who is going to maximize the talent he does have; Richard and Norton failed to bring anything extra to the table. The fact that the Seahawks’ defenses have declined under their watch has a lot to do with the talent they had to work with, but I would contend they did even less with that talent than someone more qualified might’ve done.

Assuming we don’t immediately find all the weapons we need, then I’m saying we need a proper DC to come in here and coach the hell out of these guys.

The worry, of course, is that it’s really Pete Carroll’s defense, and whoever he hires is a caretaker at best, or a puppet at worst. Not that Pete is calling plays or anything, but he’s a heavy influence in scheme and how plays are called. That didn’t seem to prevent Gus Bradley or Dan Quinn from being wildly successful and getting hired elsewhere to be head coaches. I don’t see why someone like Fangio – or an up-and-coming successful position coach with eyes towards being a head coach one day – would want to avoid Seattle when we have a track record of success on the defensive side of the ball under Carroll.

Hell, even over the last two years – when our defenses fell on their faces to start their respective seasons – we were able to turn things around and become a respectable unit by the ends of those seasons. One would argue Pete Carroll’s experience and expertise is a huge benefit to this team on the defensive side of the ball; any DC would be lucky to work under Carroll!

The right person could make all the difference. The personnel department still needs to do their jobs and fill in where they can, but I would be greatly encouraged by a quality hire. Here’s hoping that DC isn’t among the names I’ve already seen listed on Twitter.

Seahawks Death Week: Talking About The Elephants In The Room

Russell Wilson, Pete Carroll, and John Schneider are those elephants. Jody Allen & Co. have some decisions to make. As I see it, the options are as follows:

  • Keep Everybody
  • Keep Pete Carroll and John Schneider, Trade Russell Wilson
  • Keep Pete and Russ, Fire John
  • Keep John and Russ, Fire Pete
  • Keep Russell Wilson, Fire Pete Carroll and John Schneider
  • Keep John Schneider, Fire Pete Carroll, Trade Russell Wilson
  • Keep Pete Carroll, Fire John Schneider, Trade Russell Wilson
  • Trade/Fire Everybody

Does that look right? It’s absurd how long it took me to figure out that 3-way quagmire. Anyway, one of those eight scenarios is bound to happen.

The likeliest three – in some order – are “Keep Everybody”, “Keep Pete & John (trade Russ)”, or “Keep Russ (fire Pete & John)”. The virtual lock that absolutely won’t happen is that everybody is gone.

Considering the news over the last couple days – and the fact that no change has been made as of yet – I’d say Pete and John are here to stay. I suppose – since we don’t have a traditional ownership set-up – they could be taking their time and might wait a little bit before making a move, but that seems like a disasterous scenario to me (considering all the teams who did their shit-canning on Black Monday would have a head start on us by now). It makes sense though, from a financial perspective. Pete and John were just extended to big money deals through the 2025 season (Pete) and 2027 draft (John); that’s fully guaranteed money. I know, in the grand scheme of things, a billionaire owner wouldn’t flinch at throwing away that kind of money if they felt it was necessary to make a move, but I would also argue the recency of these signings indicates they’re all on the same page with how this team should be run.

As for Russell Wilson, that’s anyone’s guess.

Do you put more stock in the rosy feeling of the Seahawks dominating their final two regular season games (and winning 4 of 6 overall)? Or, do you put more stock in Russell Wilson’s media campaign following the 2020 season, and how he nudge-nudge, wink-wink, wouldn’t mind being traded to a certain four teams? Everyone’s careful to state it wasn’t a trade demand, but following a 7-10 season, maybe whatever it was turns into one now.

Predicting this feels like a coin flip. I’m leaning towards Russell Wilson wanting out. I think there’s a lot of evidence to back it up. I would say, for starters, professional athletes (and coaches, and front office people, and just about everyone else) are notorious liars. So, when Wilson talks about wanting to be in Seattle, I’d put a big ol’ Maury Povich meme up next to that.

Wilson obviously wants to be in an offense that caters to his need to be the best quarterback in football. He wants everything to run through him, he wants to pass the ball significantly more than he hands it off. He wants an MVP award. He wants to be the main reason (by leaps and bounds) why his team wins football games. And he wants to win multiple Super Bowls. Ultimately, he wants to be a Hall of Famer. Because, again, he wants to go down as the best to ever play the position (or, failing that, the best after Tom Brady).

Yet, whenever Russell Wilson has tried to bite off more than he can chew in Seattle, he’s almost always struggled. The last two years of this Let Russ Cook nonsense is a prime example. It’s not ALL his fault, because obviously there’s a tug o’ war going on with Pete Carroll, who does stick his nose in and limits his rampant passing whenever the offense struggles and/or turns the ball over too much. It’s also not his fault that this offensive line largely struggles in pass protection (specifically for someone like Wilson, who likes to move around a lot and will run himself into opposing linemen; it’s hard to know where Wilson will be at any given moment as a play breaks down). It’s also not his fault that we continue to waste time with inferior linemen in general, when there are better options available (why it took so long for Phil Haynes to get an opportunity is anybody’s guess; why Pocic sat for so long after he returned from his injury is, again, a mystery).

But, I think we’ve also seen enough from Wilson to know where he’s limited, and where he’s sabotaging things. He’s not good at the intermediate passing game. He’s not smart about checking down when the deep pass isn’t there. He too often tries to twirl out of trouble or run backwards, exacerbating sacks that don’t need to be so devastating. He’s, frankly, not a good third down quarterback. And he chooses not to run as often as he should, to keep defenses honest; even if he’s lost a step, he’s still capable of running when he wants to.

Then there are, of course, all the non-football reasons why Wilson might want to leave. Seattle is a middling media market. Ciara is an international music star. Russ wants to be a Business, man. I think they would prefer he play for a team in New York, L.A., Miami, Chicago, Dallas, D.C., or Vegas. For football reasons, throw New Orleans, Atlanta, Indy, Denver, Cleveland, or Minnesota into the mix. There’s lots of options, any number of them would be more attractive for someone looking for a change of scenery than Seattle.

If we assume Pete and John are here to stay for the foreseeable future, then Russ has to decide if this is the place he wants to be. And, if he chooses to stay, then he needs to buy in 100% to the way this offense needs to be operated. We need to rely on our running game to bring the defense closer to the line of scrimmage; it’s the best way for Wilson to take advantage of what he does best: exploiting the defense over the top for explosive chunk gains.

Meanwhile, John needs to shore up talent along the offensive line, and have a better plan when it comes to bringing in quality running backs. And Pete and his coaching staff need to determine who the best players are earlier in the season, so we don’t keep blowing games early.

But, as I said before, gun to my head, I think Russ forces a trade. Now, is that something I want?

It’s hard. I know I’ve talked about how I’ve soured on Wilson after last year’s media blitz, but I’ve seen how this team can perform at its best. When everyone is on the same page, and everything is clicking, the Seahawks’ offense can do some real damage. And I do NOT believe Wilson has fallen off a cliff. Sure, he’s on the downside of his career, but he’s still close enough to his peak to easily be a Top 10 quarterback in this league, with a shot at being a Top 5 guy if everything goes according to plan. I still believe he’s destined to be a Hall of Famer; even the best all-time QBs have had down years during their careers.

Beating the Lions and Cardinals the way they did to close out the season shows me this team’s potential. That’s the closest I’ve seen to our late-2012 run since it happened. Sure, we’ve ended seasons on fire before, but not imposing our will the way we did in those two games. Again, the last 50-point game we put up was in 2012; that’s extremely difficult to do in the NFL!

But, do I want to be sucked in by our most recent two performances, one of which happened against one of the two worst teams in football (ignoring all the games that came before it, both this season and some of the more infuriating games we’ve bungled over the last half-decade)? Do I ultimately believe that this is a team – with Russell Wilson at the helm – that won’t just contend for playoff spots, but win a motherfucking championship?

Not really.

I think we, as Seahawks fans, have to face up to some hard truths. One of which is: Russell Wilson absolutely needs a quality running game and defense to win championships. Simply having “Russell Wilson: Top 5 Quarterback” isn’t sufficient. He’s good enough to make up for a lot of illnesses across this roster, but he’s only one man. Without proper support in those two key areas, all is lost.

I don’t believe those Seahawks teams from 2012-2015 would’ve been nearly as dominant without Russell Wilson; I certainly don’t think they would’ve made the Super Bowl in back-to-back years with someone like Andy Dalton (or some other replacement-level quarterback). That being said, it’s clear why those teams were so successful: the defense and Marshawn Lynch.

The defense, more or less since 2015, has declined severely as the key guys from that Legion of Boom era have all retired, gotten older/slower, or moved on to other teams. We’ve been massively unsuccessful in replacing those guys through the draft, trades, or free agency. And, as our coaching staff kept getting poached of its best and brightest, we’re left with mediocre leadership who continue to fail to get the most out of their players.

Meanwhile, we’ve tried countless times to find the successor to Marshawn Lynch. Most have been mediocre. Chris Carson was a worthy follow up, but he’s been too injured too often to come close to living up. Beastmode has so many elite and wonderful qualities – from his rough-house style of play, to his infectious personality – but one of the more underrated aspects to his greatness was his availability. He showed up, game-in and game-out.

Just go back and look at those seasons, particularly our Super Bowl runs of 2013 and 2014. Look at how many games where our offense struggled for long stretches and needed the defense to keep us in them, until Wilson led the offense to a late-game victory. Or, those games where the offense got us a lead, and the defense had to hold on to secure it. Now, start thinking about all of those games we haven’t won since 2016. Think about how the defense has struggled. Think about how we’ve needed the offense to be the one to carry this team, and how often they’ve failed in key moments.

The thing is, it’s not one or the other. You need the running game and the defense, but you DO need the quarterback as well. However, there’s only so much money to go around. And there’s only so much a GM can do when you’re drafting so low in the first round most years (that is, when you’re not trading away those picks to try to find elite talent in other ways, since there’s rarely elite talent falling into the 20’s of the NFL draft). Can the Seahawks build that defense when they’re paying Russell Wilson so much money? It’s possible, but it’s very difficult. Can a defense that’s not-quite-elite still win us a title with Wilson at quarterback? It’s possible, but it requires buy-in from the quarterback himself. And, even then, it’s going to need a running game like we saw from Rashaad Penny the last month of the season.

My main line of thinking is that I don’t believe Russell Wilson will ever get with the program. Even if he makes the commitment to stay and buys in to a more balanced philosophy that features more rushing than he’d like, he is who he is. He’s still going to struggle in the intermediate game, finding check-downs, converting third downs, and knowing when he himself needs to run with the football. I also don’t believe we’re ever going to find someone as durable as Marshawn Lynch, and so our running game will continue to be a revolving door from week to week. Finally, I don’t believe this defense – with Ken Norton & Co. in charge – is capable of being consistent enough to sustain even a Top 15 level of production.

At this point, I think it’s probably best for all involved for Wilson to demand a trade. The Seahawks need an infusion of draft picks. They need to bring in a new, young QB while we still have the culture in place to surround him with quality players in order to turn him into a winner. And, they need to use any and all resources – with that quarterback on his rookie deal – to bolster the defense like they did heading into 2013, so that we can take advantage in that brief window where the quarterback isn’t earning an untenable percentage of the overall salary cap.

If it doesn’t happen, and Wilson opts to stick around, I won’t be up in arms or anything. But, I’ll go into every season from here on out knowing there’s a ceiling to the Seahawks’ success, that being the Divisional Round of the playoffs and no further. Until they prove me wrong, that’s what we have to look forward to. And, instead of getting a jumpstart on a rebuild – while there’s enough of a core in place to possibly right the ship in a hurry – we’ll just kick this can down the road another few years, until Pete Carroll has to retire in disgrace, John Schneider returns to Green Bay, and Russell Wilson is wearing another jersey anyway.