The Seahawks’ Season Hinges On Beating The Rams This Weekend

This is it: this is the (regular) season. If the Seahawks beat the Rams this weekend, the Seahawks win the NFC West and guarantee themselves at least a Top 3 seed in the playoffs. Otherwise, if the Seahawks lose to the Rams for a second time, there is a VERY strong likelihood that we have to settle for a Wild Card berth and almost certainly a first or second round exit in the playoffs.

Of course, a divisional championship is no guarantee of playoff success either, but a wild card – for this team – IS a guarantee of playoff failure. It is SO hard to win three road playoff games to get to a Super Bowl. To further illustrate, let me walk you through what that probably looks like:

If the Rams win this weekend and next week against the Cardinals in Los Angeles, they’ll almost certainly own the 3-seed. At five losses, that puts us in a dead heat with the Bucs, who I think will also be locked into a wild card spot when it’s all said and done. If we get the 5-seed, that puts us on the road in the first round against Washington. If we win, and the Saints (likely 2-seed) and Rams both prevail, that puts us on the road in the Divisional Round against the Green Bay Packers, who – as the top seed – will have had a first round BYE. Traditionally, teams with first round BYEs win in the Divisional Round approximately 75% of the time. It would be all but a guarantee that we would lose that game. BUT, if by the grace of God we win, that simply means we have to go back on the road again to play either the Rams or the Saints in the NFC Championship Game. I just don’t see it working out for us in any of these scenarios.

Of course, the bad news in all of this is that it’s highly likely we end up playing the Rams for a third time this year, even if we do end up beating them this weekend. A loss for the Rams likely means they fall to the 6-seed, so if we can’t find a way to leap over the Saints (who would need to lose one of their remaining games while we win out), it’s kind of a nightmare scenario either way. BUT, having at least one home playoff game (while avoiding playing the Packers as long as possible) is always better than having to play on the road throughout.

So, how do we do that? How do we beat the Rams this weekend? Well, shit, how did the fucking Jets do it? That seemed to work out okay.

It’s mind-boggling to me that the Jets can go on the road and get their first win of the season last week (with the Rams looking like utter dogshit for most of the game), meanwhile I know for a FACT the Rams are going to come into Seattle this weekend and probably look better than they ever have in the history of their franchise. WHAT THE FUCK?! Jared Goff sucks against MOST of the league, but for some reason he can carve the Seahawks up like we’re a soft turkey-shaped slab of butter.

I fucking hate the fucking Rams, so fucking much.

How do you beat the Rams? I don’t fucking know! Pixie dust? Rubbing a magic lamp and using one of your three genie wishes? Tricking the Rams’ head coach into running over a witch with his car, whose family curses him for all eternity? Is there time enough to do ANY of these things before Sunday?

Otherwise, I don’t know. I get the appeal of looking at how the Seahawks crushed the Jets, then went on the road and took care of business against a stout Washington team, while looking at what the Rams just did and say, “Oh yeah, the Seahawks should have no problem winning this week.” But, I’m here to tell you: one thing has nothing to do with the other. The Rams could’ve lost to a junior varsity high school team last week and I’d still be convinced they will come up to Seattle and thrash.

Russell Wilson has been garbage for half a season now. That’s just for starters. The defense has shown plenty of signs of life – especially since we traded for Carlos Dunlap – but look at who we’ve played in that stretch: the Rams (who we held to 23 points, but their offense has been far from elite with Goff at the helm, and they still won by 7 points), the Cards on Thursday night (with Kyler Murray working on an injured shoulder), then the Eagles, Giants, Jets, and Football Team. Not really a murderer’s row of offensive talent. We have looked better regardless, but that’s only compared to the first half of the season, when it was literally impossible to look any worse. And, moreover, the Seahawks’ coaching has been atrocious of late! From the gameplan in the Giants’ game, to the lack of in-game adjustments in general, to the baffling conservative choices on fourth down, to the lapses on defense in the second halves of the Giants and Football Team games. It’s been a total team effort to look this mediocre (except for Michael Dickson and Jason Myers, who have been killing it this season and were BEYOND deserving of making the Pro Bowl; no notes, you guys!).

So, again, I dunno. How do you beat the Rams? Play fucking better! That’s my recommendation. That’s my analysis for this game. If the Seahawks can just play better in all phases, they should win. Otherwise, strap in for another wild card disaster.

And, yeah, I know there’s a world where the Seahawks lose this weekend, then beat the 49ers in Week 17 while the Rams lose to the Cardinals, but is that really how you want to back into a divisional championship? Wouldn’t it be better to ride this regular season momentum and build up some confidence ahead of the playoffs? I think so.

Nobody Wants To Hear About My Fantasy Team 2020: Although We’ve Come Tua The End Of The Road

  • Pre-Season Week 1 HERE – Here We Fucking Go Again
  • Pre-Season Week 2 HERE – Corona-Draft Prep
  • Fantasy Draft HERE – Nobody Beats The Wiz!
  • Week 1 HERE – Crisis Averted!
  • Week 2 HERE – Everything That Could Go Wrong
  • Week 3 HERE – Some Nobody Did, In Fact, Beat The Wiz!
  • Week 4 HERE – Literally Everyone Beats The Fucking Wiz
  • Week 5 HERE – Signs Of Life!
  • Week 6 HERE – And Tua All A Good Night
  • Week 7 HERE – Tua Be Or Not Tua Be, That Is The Question
  • Week 8 HERE – Tua Thine Own Self Be True
  • Week 9 HERE – Tua The Window, Tua The Wall!!!
  • Week 10 HERE – Tua Infinity & Beyond!
  • Week 11 HERE – Tua Err Is Human

Still I can’t let go! Tua belongs to me! I belong Tua!

This was supposed to be a Get Right game for Tua (against the Jets), but instead he suffered some sort of thumb injury beforehand (!) and didn’t even play. That left me scrambling to get his backup, but thankfully I was on the ball this time. So, it was The Return Of FitzMagic who was … fine. 25.85 points is actually pretty good for me, but obviously when you’re going up against the Jets you’d like to see 30+ out of your quarterback. In the end, it didn’t matter because I was smart enough to sub Kirk Cousins in for Carson Wentz, who ended up getting me 35.25 (compared to Wentz’s 22.95), and Nobody Beats The Wiz ended up defeating Korky Butchek 172.78 to 104.90.

What a drubbing! And, it could’ve been so much worse, but I got cold feet at the last minute with Deebo Samuel. Once Tua was ruled out, I was able to stash him in one of my IR spots, giving me an opportunity to pick up Atlanta’s backup running back – Brian Hill, who was starting in place of the injured Todd Gurley – who I figured would be good for 10 points or so, with upside in the high teens. I was honestly more worried that the Rams’ defense would destroy the 49ers, but boy was I mistaken! Hill only got 5.5, while Deebo racked up 24.3 for my bench (and, to boot, the 49ers actually beat the Rams, to help the Seahawks out!).

But, on top of my QBs killing it, I had a lot of guys running up the score. A.J. Brown, Dallas Goedert, and the Rams’ defense all had over 20 points (with DeVante Parker getting 19.9); that was enough to overcome my three running backs scoring me a combined 13.8.

The victory puts me at 7-5 on the season, and thanks to Sausage Shaped Pest losing, guarantees me a spot in this year’s playoffs! Now, all I have to worry about is playoff seeding.

I was about to get into all the possible scenarios, but they are too varied to count. Suffice it to say I’m currently in 5th place; the highest I can climb is to third place (if I win and the two teams above me – also 7-5 – lose their games). The lowest I can finish is 6th place; I have no tiebreaker advantages because I have the fewest points scored of all the teams in the playoffs. I wish I knew the history of being the playoff team with the fewest points, but I’ve never been in this position! Usually, I’m one of the teams that scores MORE than one (or more) of the playoff teams, but due to bad luck ends up in the Consolation Bracket. So, this is uncharted territory for me; hopefully my team gets hot at the right time!

This week, Nobody Beats The Wiz gets a meaningless matchup against Sausage Shaped Pest. It most likely won’t matter either way if I win or lose, so watch me have my best game of the entire season (right before having my absolute worst game, to bounce me from the playoffs). Here’s my lineup anyway (subject to change, if I get a wild hair up my ass about something on Sunday morning):

  • Kirk Cousins (QB) vs. JAX
  • Ryan Fitzpatrick or Tua Tagovailoa (QB) vs. CIN
  • A.J. Brown (WR) vs. CLE
  • DeVante Parker (WR) vs. CIN
  • Ezekiel Elliott (RB) @ BAL
  • Josh Jacobs (RB) @ NYJ
  • Dallas Goedert (TE) @ GB
  • Deebo Samuel (WR) vs. BUF
  • Harrison Butker (K) vs. DEN
  • L.A. Rams (DEF) @ ARI

It seems to be a toss-up as to who will start for Miami this week; is Tua’s injury healed? We’ll see! My three receivers all have great matchups this week; my running backs less so (especially if Jacobs’ sprained ankle doesn’t allow him to play; then I’ll have to start CEH against Denver’s stout defense). But, again, I’m not too worried because this game is meaningless. Here’s Sausage Shaped Pest’s roster this week:

  • Derek Carr (QB) @ NYJ
  • Kyler Murray (QB) vs. LAR
  • Michael Thomas (WR) @ ATL
  • Justin Jefferson (WR) vs. JAX
  • Gio Bernard (RB) @ MIA
  • Wayne Gallman (RB) @ SEA
  • Darren Waller (TE) @ NYJ
  • Brandin Cooks (WR) vs. IND
  • Brandon McManus (K) @ KC
  • Cleveland (DEF) @ TEN

That’s a pretty good team, that’s been decimated by injuries. He should have Joe Mixon and Saquon Barkley as his starting running backs, but both are currently on IR. He’s also got Mike Evans on BYE this week to hamper his flex spot. Nevertheless, there’s a lot of firepower left over. My guess is he’ll pick up a new defense this week, but he also might not care because he’s already been doomed to the Consolation Bracket.

Next week, I’ll have a playoff preview, since I’m guaranteed to be playing in Week 14. The top two seeds – both with 8-4 records at the moment – while they don’t have their BYEs locked in, they’ve at least locked me out (since they have SO MANY more points than I do). Nevertheless, you know what’s crazy? I have the longest active winning streak in the league right now, of four games, with a very good chance to make it five heading into the playoffs. The hottest team wins no awards, and it has no bearing on what happens in the all-important playoffs. But, I feel better than I did two months ago, when it comes to my team! I’ve done everything I can to try to improve my lineup, and now it’s up to the players to lead me to victory or (more likely) submarine me into the briny deep.

Now that I feel somewhat okay about my lot in (fantasy football) life, watch it all blow up in my fucking face. Next week, I’ll take you down Memory Lane, and look at all of my fantasy football finishes in this league, dating back to 2003 (when we joined Yahoo!). Spoiler Alert: there’s A LOT of mediocrity!

The Seahawks Are In Great Shape After Beating The Cardinals

I told you guys! Nothing is fucked here!

I did a tiny bit of digging on the Vegas line for this game. It apparently opened anywhere from the Seahawks being 3.5-point to 5.5-point favorites and the public bet it down to the Seahawks just being favored by 3. I don’t have a good handle on how Vegas did last night, but I would suspect they did very well. I have to believe the majority of the money was on Arizona to at least cover, if not win outright. Regardless of that, the over/under was set in the mid-to-high 50’s, and you KNOW everyone and their grandmothers were betting the OVER in this one. With the Seahawks winning 28-21 (Arizona failing to cover, obviously failing to win, and both teams hitting well UNDER), it’s my hunch that Vegas really had a good night last night.

I hate to kick things off so negatively, but we can’t get through a Thursday Night Football game without a season-ending injury, it would appear! Remember Richard Sherman’s last game in a Seahawks uniform? Oddly enough, it was also against the Arizona Cardinals (as a matter of fact, Earl Thomas’ last game here was ALSO against the Cards; we lose more Hall of Famers playing this team than I’ve ever seen!). What isn’t so odd is that Sherman’s last game in a Seahawks uniform was a Thursday Night Football game, when he finally ruptured an already-injured Achilles tendon. Had he had a proper amount of rest and recovery that week, we might not have lost him when we did (indeed, he might’ve very well managed it throughout the season, with frequent rest days in practice).

Well, Greg Olsen – apparently our prized free agent pickup this past offseason (even though literally everyone feels it was a lot of money, poorly spent, but that’s neither here nor there) – suffered a fascia tear last night and figures to be lost for the year (there MIGHT be an outside chance he could return in time for the Super Bowl – if the Seahawks manage to make it that far – but it’s obviously way too early to make those kinds of predictions). I immediately thought of Sherman, because the cases seem so similar. Both are aging veterans. I imagine this was a nagging injury Olsen has been gutting his way through for a while. And, I suspect – much like Sherman – if he’d had a regular rest & recovery period, this might not have happened right now, and we’d still have Olsen going forward. These are non-contact injuries, so obviously there’s a strong possibility that they’re both flukes and could’ve happened at any time. But, I feel very strongly that having just played a football game four days prior is the bigger culprit in all of this.

Before I get off of my injury high horse, I’ll pour a little out for Brandon Shell, who suffered a more traditional sprained ankle injury when someone rolled up on him as he was blocking someone else. The severity is unknown, but it’s obviously quite worrisome, as he’s far-and-away our best right tackle. He could return as early as our next game (if it’s just a regular ankle sprain), or he could be lost until the playoffs (if it’s a high-ankle variety). Fingers crossed it’s not that bad!

From a defensive standpoint, this game went exactly as it needed to. If we can hold teams to 21 points per game the rest of the way, we’ll never lose again! We forced four Arizona punts in the first half – including one when they got the ball with less than two minutes to go, which is always prime scoring time against this defense – and held them to just a lone touchdown in taking a 16-7 lead into the break.

Things were a little touch-and-go in the second half, as Arizona started out with back-to-back scoring drives of 81 and 90 yards, but the Seahawks were able to maintain their lead throughout. Probably the scariest part of the game was when we led 23-21 and punted back to the Cardinals on their own 14 yard line. Thankfully, an Intentional Grounding penalty, followed by a holding penalty in the endzone, resulted in a safety for the Seahawks. That begat a field goal for the Seahawks (to give the game its final score) on a near-seven minute drive, which then begat the Cardinals getting the ball back with just over 2 minutes left in the game, needing a touchdown to tie. The Cards were in good shape, getting inside the Seahawks’ 30-yard line with just under a minute to play, but our defense stiffened there, culminating on a Carlos Dunlap sack on fourth down to end it.

Dunlap was everything I’ve ever wanted in a defensive end in this one! He had four tackles, two sacks, and three hits on the quarterback. All told, the Seahawks had three sacks (with L.J. Collier lucking into one, but I’ll obviously take it) and seven hits on the quarterback, after not touching Kyler Murray at all in the previous game we played down in Arizona. Murray looked like he was suffering from an injury to his throwing shoulder, and it’s tough to say how much that affected him. He probably isn’t using it as an excuse, but there were a number of errant throws that helped kill a lot of drives (there were also lots of AMAZING throws on his part, so maybe the shoulder really wasn’t that big of a deal and he’s just an inconsistent, young passer?).

I don’t know how you don’t call this the best all-around defensive performance for the Seahawks this season. In spite of failing to generate any Arizona turnovers, we held Murray to 269 yards passing (the second-fewest among quarterbacks who played the entire game against us this year), we held their entire rushing attack to just 57 yards on 18 carries (in a game that was never so far out of reach that they needed to abandon the run, at least until the very last drive), and I think most importantly: we held DeAndre Hopkins to just 5 catches and 51 yards (one week after he caught 12 balls for 127 yards, including that hail mary touchdown at the end to win it against the Bills). I’ll always wonder how much of that was forced by our improved defense, versus how much of that was Murray choosing to not force-feed his #1 receiver. Hopkins was matched up against Tre Flowers for a lot of the game, and – per usual – Flowers gave up a huge cushion; it seemed like they had that comeback route to the first down marker any time they wanted it. Why they didn’t go to that well time and time again, I have no idea.

Offensively, this was decidedly an old school Russell Wilson performance: 23/28, 197 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INTs. You could tell me that’s a stat line from 2013 and I’d believe it. To be fair, D.K. Metcalf dropped a surefire touchdown right before halftime, resulting in the Seahawks settling for a field goal (to also be fair, Wilson threw that ball about 5,000 miles per hour right at Metcalf’s face, resulting in it bouncing off of his helmet before he had time to properly react and catch it), but I think it’s safe to say this game won’t be heavily featured on Wilson’s MVP Hype Video. It was an efficient, turnover-free game, though, and that’s EXACTLY what you’re looking for on a short week, after losing 3 of 4 games largely because of inefficiency and turnovers.

Carlos Hyde was very warmly received by fans and the team alike in this one (Chris Carson was indeed held out another week, but figures to be back very soon). You could tell from the first carry: there’s a SIGNIFICANT drop-off in talent between Hyde and the running backs under Hyde. That being said, Bo Scarbrough was called up from the practice squad for this one and played as the #2 running back, and I thought he looked solid! Certainly better than Alex Collins or DeeJay Dallas or Travis Homer. Hyde ran for 79 yards and a touchdown on only 14 carries, and Scarbrough ran for another 31 yards on 6 carries. Including Wilson runs (10 for 42) and a lone Dallas carry, the Seahawks combined for 165 yards on 31 carries, which has to be a Pete Carroll tantric wet dream.

Tyler Lockett led all receivers with 9 receptions for 67 yards and a pretty touchdown in the back corner of the endzone. D.K. Metcalf’s day could’ve gone better (he had at least a couple drops, and one of his big catches was called back by a bogus holding penalty; the refs in this one probably had the worst performance of anyone on the field), but he did end up with 3 catches for 46 yards and a touchdown.

As I said before, this win puts us in great shape. We’re now 7-3, and 2-2 in the division (5-2 in the conference). Our very next game is a Monday night affair on the 30th in Philly. Given how bad the Eagles are, and how elite the Seahawks are on MNF, I really like our chances in that one. Then we have back-to-back home games against the New York teams (they should be pushovers), followed by a road game in Washington (which sneakily might be the toughest of the bunch). I have the utmost confidence in the Seahawks being 4-0 in this stretch, which brings us back home for a Must Win game against the Rams (to ensure our winning the NFC West), before a season-ending Should Win game against the 49ers on the road.

I hope the Seahawks use these next 11 days to get healthy, because we’re heading directly into the home stretch of the regular season. It’s time to stop fucking around and put some distance between us and the rest of the NFC. If the defense can look just like this the rest of the way, I think we’ll be okay.

The Seahawks MUST WIN Their Football Game Tonight

As a football fan, I hate Thursday Night Football. It’s not enough time for players to rest and recover, which results in more injuries (perhaps factually inaccurate, but it sure as shit seems like the Seahawks suffer an inordinate number of devastating injuries in these games), and an inferior quality of game play (again, anecdotally-speaking, but the vast majority of football fans agree with me). Also, saddling us with a divisional opponent (the most important games you can play in football, from a tiebreaker perspective) seems all the more unfair. They’re plain and simply an obvious cash grab by the league, and the only upside is a so-called “mini-BYE week” as a reward (with 10-11 days before your next scheduled game); forgetting the fact that at this point, the NFL should be giving every team two full BYE weeks regardless, because the game of football is absolutely BRUTALIZING!

I will say, though, as a Seahawks blogger, I kind of love Thursday Night Football. I get to do my preview a day early, I get to write my recap before the rest of the NFL has played that week, and I get the whole next week to write about whatever the hell I want! Besides that, as a Seahawks fan, if we win tonight, the rest of the weekend is absolute gravy! All I’ll have to concern myself with is how my fantasy team does.

Okay, so maybe not “gravy” so much as a bowl of mayonnaise soup. Let’s move on.

So, if I’m as smart as I think I am, then the Seahawks will win tonight and we’ll all have a chance to calm down for a while. Considering I have it on pretty good authority that I’m hot shit, I’m willing to stick my neck out and confirm my previous suspicions that not only will the Seahawks beat the Cardinals, but we’ll go on to win out the rest of this season and nab that #1 seed in the NFC.

I would argue I have Vegas on my side, because there is NO reason why the Seahawks should be favored by three points (I don’t care that we’re at home, which isn’t even an advantage without fans anyway). Based on the way we’ve played in three of the last four games, combined with the way the Cardinals have played in that same span, there’s just no real logical reason why we should have faith in the Seahawks. When you see how the teams have played of late, and you see a line that sits counter to expectations, that’s a pretty big red flag that what’s GOING to happen isn’t necessarily what SHOULD happen; logic and reason have no place in the NFL sometimes (that’s why, in the long run, Vegas always prevails and the bettors can all get fucked).

I have no evidence to back this up, but I guarantee you the vast majority of the betting public has their money on the Cardinals, with a significant portion picking them to win on the money line. If Vegas is as smart as I think they are, that means the Seahawks will win by 4 or more and most of the country will be scratching their heads in wonderment.

So, what does a Seahawks victory look like? Well, for starters, it’ll help that Carlos Hyde and/or Chris Carson will be back tonight (we’re pretty sure about Hyde, less confident about Carson). It’s clear these two are a big upgrade over the backups on the roster. It’s also clear that this team can’t win by ignoring the run entirely. They can still let Russ cook, but they’ll need the running backs to do a little more prep work than we’ve been getting of late.

More importantly, we’re going to need Russell Wilson to play better. That’s it. That’s the key to the game. Not only has he NOT played like an MVP over the last month, he’s hardly played even competent football! He’s making Carson Wentz-esque mistakes that are so uncharacteristic, it’s led some fans to wonder if he’s been concussed for the last few weeks! With the amount of hits he’s taken, it wouldn’t shock me. Speaking of which, we haven’t called out the offensive line much this year, but they REALLY need to do a better job of keeping guys off of our All Pro. He has taken far too much abuse, and if we’re not more careful, Wilson WILL get hurt, and then we’ll be really screwed!

It’s going to be a lot to ask, but it would be nice if the defense picked it up. It feels like we’re SO CLOSE to turning a corner on this side of the ball! Unfortunately, we’re pretty banged up (our top two cornerbacks will once again miss the game, and our star safety, Jamal Adams, is playing hurt), so it’s going to take everyone stepping up and contributing. What we really need is to come out strong in the first half. Let the offense jump out to a lead, and try to play the second half from ahead instead of scrambling to catch up from behind.

The fact of the matter is, the Seahawks are probably the most injured team in football from top to bottom. Everyone talks about the 49ers, and they’ve surely lost a lot of top tier guys, but our depth is absolutely decimated and it’s taken a toll these last four games.

What can we learn from our loss to the Cardinals four weeks ago? Well, for starters, stop turning the ball over! I would also say, dropping everyone back in coverage and having a spy on Kyler Murray isn’t the way to go. Not only did he carve us up through the air, but our spy wasn’t nearly fast enough to contain him, so he also beat us with his legs. He’s still a young quarterback. You have to pressure young quarterbacks! For us, that probably means blitzing a lot more than we did last time. And, if he gashes us for big gains here and there with his legs, I’m willing to live with that as long as we can get him on the ground occasionally and force him into turning the ball over.

If I were less of a homer and more of a neutral fan, I’d probably be taking the Cardinals to win in this one. But, I’m a Seahawks fan and therefore totally irrational. I don’t have a lot of good reasons why the Seahawks should win this game. Probably the best one I’ve got is the fact that the Seahawks have never lost three consecutive games in the Russell Wilson Era. And it’s not like there haven’t been opportunities! We’ve lost two games in a row plenty of times. But, never three. And I don’t believe we’re going to start now.

Not as long as Russell Fucking Wilson has anything to say about it.

Don’t Expect The Seahawks To Fire Ken Norton Jr. Anytime Soon

After a one-week blip where the Seahawks’ defense looked semi-competent against the 49ers (not counting the fourth quarter where Nick Mullens – the same guy who managed all of 291 yards in a blowout loss to the Packers last Thursday – torched our prevent defense in those 15 minutes for 238 yards), they were back to their old tricks, giving up 415 yards to Josh Allen and only forcing a measly two punts the entire game.

The Seahawks are giving up a league-worst 455.8 yards per game, which if that holds for the entire season, will be the worst of all time by a considerable margin. The defense is “led” by a league-worst 362.1 passing yards per game, which is saying something considering the amount of talent we have in the secondary. Granted, the front office really dropped the ball when it came to building a pass rush in the offseason. But, there are ways to paper over these deficiencies and it starts with coaching up these guys and scheming to their strengths.

The most frustrating part of this season – where the offense has adapted to feature the strengths of Russell Wilson’s passing arm, after YEARS of being one of the most run-centric offenses in all of football – is that this team hasn’t similarly adapted its defense. They seem to be caught in between. Pete Carroll’s traditional scheme – which he has employed to great effect in his time in Seattle – has been to play zone, give up plays underneath, rally to the football, and force teams to dink and dunk down the field, all the while hoping either our pass rush gets home, or the opposing quarterback makes a mistake and turns the ball over. This was an excellent scheme – number one in all of football from 2012-2015 – but it really only works when you’ve got the kind of talent on your roster that can make this work. The Seahawks don’t have that now.

Not only are teams able to dink and dunk with ease, but when we buck the system and throw blitzes their way, opposing quarterbacks have had tremendous success beating us deep. Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas in their primes aren’t walking through that door anytime soon. Shaquill Griffin and Quandre Diggs – while good players – are obvious steps down compared to the original L.O.B. members. While Jamal Adams resembles Kam Chancellor in many ways, I would argue his coverage skills are MUCH worse (while his blitzing is MUCH better). None of that matters since we don’t have anyone NEARLY as good as Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril in their primes (we hope Carlos Dunlap comes close, but that will remain to be seen for now). On top of all of that, Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright are closer to the ends of their careers than the beginnings.

All of this adds up to this defense needing to create a new identity for itself. Clearly, what we’ve been doing hasn’t been working (aside from three successful quarters against a gimpy Jimmy Garoppolo). We tried going all in on a conservative approach against the Dolphins and Cardinals; it was fine against a mistake-prone Ryan Fitzpatrick, and a disaster against an electric Kyler Murray. We tried going all in on a blitz-heavy approach (at times) against the 49ers and Bills; it was fine against Jimmy G (but then we pulled too far back against Mullens), and while we had a season-high seven sacks against Allen, the defense ultimately gave up 44 points and generated zero turnovers.

As I said before, I’m not panicking because of a relatively-meaningless loss to the Bills. It seems like a lot of Seahawks fans are, but that tends to happen after EVERY loss, so what else is new? The blogs are calling for Ken Norton Jr.’s head, but, I mean, you know what that’s going to get you, right? It’s not Pete Carroll’s style to fire his assistants mid-season, particularly when he is so involved with the scheming of the defense as well.

Now, if you want to talk about firing Norton after the season, believe me, I’m right there with you. He would have to improve things DRAMATICALLY over the next eight games – and likely take us to the Super Bowl – to save his job at this point. Norton has proven – both in his time with the Raiders, and now with the Seahawks – that he’s not a good defensive coordinator. He just isn’t. It’s okay; he’s a fine linebackers coach and that’s ultimately going to be his destiny within the league (now, if he gained an interest in coaching the college game, I could see him getting hired at a smallish school as a head coach or DC or something, but he’s maxed out his reputation in the pros). Unless the Seahawks make the Super Bowl, Ken Norton Jr. needs to be replaced, by literally anyone who’s even remotely qualified, I don’t care who.

So, how does he save his job? I think many of the blogs are on the right track; I too believe the Seahawks need to go all-in on a blitz-heavy scheme, even more than what we’ve done the last two games. It’s really the only way. Our cornerbacks are too banged up at the moment (we’ll probably be without both Dunbar and Griffin this week against the Rams, which is a FUCKING calamity) and the ones who are healthy aren’t the greatest. They can’t cover these receivers all day. They’re going to need quarterbacks to make quick, precise decisions, starting with Jared Goff (who struggles MIGHTILY when he’s got guys in his face).

Will we give up big plays in the process? Against the good quarterbacks, we will. But, we’re already giving up big plays to those guys anyway! We might as well try to force a mistake or two; instead of consistently giving up 30.4 points per game (good for third-worst, just ahead of the lowly Cowboys and Jaguars), maybe we could limit teams to – I dunno – 27.0 points per game (which would still be 12th-worst, but with the way our offense is humming, might be good enough to win it all).

The defense is bound to look pretty good in the four consecutive games where we face the Eagles, Giants, Jets, and Washington. But, I’m more concerned about the two times we face the Rams, and the next time we face the Cards and Niners. Those are HUGE games, and we’re going to need our defense to do SOMETHING.

Or else Ken Norton Jr. will be on his ass at the end of the season and (unfortunately) no sooner.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Seahawks Both Should Have Won & Didn’t Deserve To Win

I feel like I’m uniquely able to withstand losses like these, because I always expect – on some level, at least – to be disappointed. This way of life isn’t for everyone, of course; it requires you to constantly live in this quiet malaise. The reward is that: the lows are never really that bad, because you’re always drawing from that negative energy source from within; nothing can really hurt you too much when you’ve got that much cushion! The downside is, of course, that the highs aren’t quite as euphoric. It takes a lot for me to really be ecstatic about a team I’m following winning a game; usually it’s some combination of shock and relief. But, if you’re chasing that joy dragon with sports, that’s probably not the best avenue, because you will have your heart broken almost every time, over the long haul.

That isn’t to say, of course, that I wasn’t fucking irate in the moment, when the tide turned and the Seahawks were clearly going to gag away a game they should have easily won (or that there isn’t some residual ire coursing through my veins right now). It just makes it easier to write about the collosal fucking choke job the next morning.

Yes, the Seahawks should have beaten the Cardinals last night. No, the Seahawks did NOT deserve to win. Both of those statements are painfully true.

I think what bugs me the most – other than we lost – is that we never trailed in this game until the end. We were ALWAYS at least one step ahead. And, at times – especially early in the fourth quarter – we were two scores ahead and it looked like we could’ve coasted to victory.

What bugs me the second-most is the play-calling on our final drive in regulation. We got the ball with just over two minutes left to go in the game, up by three points, and Arizona holding all of their time outs. Russell Wilson kept the ball for a 9-yard gain to get us to the 2-minute warning. We then handed it off to get a first down and force the Cardinals to start using their time outs. From there … we ran it three more fucking times.

It’s the God damned fucking lip service that I’ve been worried about all along! Don’t talk to me about letting Russ cook and then replace him with fucking TV dinners when it’s time to serve the meal! I would be saying this even if Chris Carson didn’t suffer a foot injury earlier in the game, by the way. I know Carlos Hyde had a number of good runs in this one – finishing with 68 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries – but he’s also pretty slow and not nearly as powerful of a runner. I was with them on first down (for a 1-yard gain); okay, that knocks away a second time out from the Cardinals’ bank. I didn’t even TOTALLY hate the stretch run on second down to make it 3rd & 2 (to take away their final time out). But, I’m sorry, you HAVE to get the first down on this drive! You saw what the Seahawks’ defense had done all day! Other than a poorly-thrown pick and a fumble recovery, the Seahawks had done very little to stop Arizona. At that point in the game – when they were at their most tired – it made ZERO sense to put them back on the field.

It’s 3rd & 2 to salt away the game: you FUCKING put the ball in your MVP’s hands and let him cook! You don’t give it to Carlos Hyde, against a stacked front, and watch him run into a brick wall. Had the Seahawks been up by more than three points, MAYBE I see the value in running down the clock. But, Arizona needed a field goal to send it to overtime, which of course they got.

Let’s see, what else bugs me? How about the defense getting zero pressures? How about the defensive line not even touching Kyler Murray? It was pretty clear the Seahawks coaches – heading into the season – were a lot higher on the pass rush than we were, and it’s also pretty clear they were fucking wrong. Look at that! We’re smarter than NFL coaches!

The refs sure bugged me, but I’m hard-pressed to place the blame on them entirely. They did try to overturn our only touchdown in the second half, before review confirmed their on-field idiocy. But, the one time in the second half when the defense actually managed to get a stop and force the Cardinals to punt, they called Bobby Wagner on an unnecessary roughness penalty that was itself UNNECESSARY! At most, you wince at the hard hit and move on; it’s fucking football, it was close-enough to warrant a no-call, and come on, he’s Bobby Fucking Wagner, future Hall of Famer. You let those guys get away with hits like that, and maybe you talk to him quietly, telling him to be careful next time. You don’t throw the flag on the failed third down play and extend the drive for the other team! Which, of course, resulted in a touchdown to pull the game to within one score. Had we forced the punt there, maybe we go up by THREE scores, and this game ends a lot more satisfyingly. Instead, we get this bucket of shit.

I’m also, let’s be honest here, bugged by Russell Wilson’s three interceptions. The first one was a fucking nightmare, where he clearly mis-read the defense and thought he had Carson wide open in the endzone. That’s not only a missed TD, but cost us at least three points in a game we’d go on to lose by three. Of course, it happened early enough for us to ovecome, and it provided us the Play of the Century by D.K. Metcalf, who was shot out of a fucking bazooka to prevent Budda Baker from scoring on the play (which ultimately resulted in zero points, when the Cards turned down a chance at their own three points and failed on fourth down). The second pick was another one in the endzone, this time wildly overshooting D.K. Metcalf, which also cost us an opportunity at another three points. The final pick happened in overtime, which put the final nail in the coffin of this one.

The offense in general was just awful in the second half. How can you say that when the Seahawks score 34 points? Well, all but 7 happened in the first half, that’s how. That’s not going to get it done. Not with this defense. Not with this risk-averse coaching staff that’s going to revert to the old way of playing Seahawks football when the game matters most.

Finally, I guess I’m bugged by the fact that we blew an all-time great game from Tyler Lockett, who caught 15 passes for 200 yards and 3 touchdowns. You don’t see games this special very often, and to see it go to waste in a losing effort is hard to swallow. He was the best player on the field in this one, and it’s just a shame we couldn’t have came home with the W.

This was always going to be the beginning of the toughest 1-month stretch of football for the Seahawks. Including last night, four of five games will be played against divisional opponents (which, for tie-breaking purposes, are the most important). It would’ve been nice to start off 1-0 in the NFC West, to further bolster our outstanding head-start against the rest of those teams. Now, we return home to play the resurgent 49ers, still without anything resembling a win against a quality opponent this season.

My confidence level is shaken, but not totally depleted. That does make next Sunday’s game a must-win of sorts. We can’t go 0-2 with two road games against the Bills and Rams to follow. And especially not with the Cardinals again lurking immediately after that.

This Game Is For The Birds! Seahawks At Cardinals

I think the Cardinals are one of the more interesting teams in the NFL this year. Last Monday Night was really my first time seeing them in 2020; it was pretty eye-opening, but I wish they’d had an opponent that could’ve given them more of a challenge (and not the Dak-less Dallas Cowboys).

The 2019 Cardinals weren’t all that great, but they were breaking in top pick Kyler Murray as well as a new coaching staff. Even though they finished last year 5-10-1, almost everyone had the Cards pegged as a potential Wild Card team this year, figuring Murray and the offense for a significant boost with experience and better consistency. So far, that’s played out about as well as can be expected; they’re 4-2 and tied for second in the NFC West.

But, who have they played? Well, they’ve beaten the Cowboys and Jets – two pretty abysmal teams – as well as Washington and the 49ers to start the season. Meanwhile, they’ve lost to Detroit (kind of mediocre) and Carolina (kind of okay). So, Seattle will be their first real test.

Of course, by the same token, it looks like the Cardinals will be OUR first big test. Our best win is against the Patriots, who have been struggling (in many ways, thanks Corona …) of late. The only difference is: we have the MVP, and didn’t gag away a couple of those games we were supposed to win.

I like our chances in this one, but obviously I’m mighty concerned. Kyler Murray is coming into his own, and he’s one of the best scrambling quarterbacks in all of football. DeAndre Hopkins is one of the best wide receivers alive and will be a tremendous challenge to our secondary that has looked pretty inept this season. Kenyan Drake has his detractors – mostly due to his injury issues and age, which I find ridiculous – but he’s coming off of a game where he just TORCHED the Cowboys (to say nothing of the last time we saw him in late 2019, when he ran it up to the tune of 166 yards and 2 touchdowns on 24 carries), so I’d rank him up there among the bellcow running backs left standing this season. Plus, they’ve got Larry Fitzgerald and Christian Kirk, both of whom are outstanding weapons who can both stretch the field and get those tough 3rd down-converting catches in traffic.

That’s a lot of offensive firepower to tangle with. Of the teams we’ve faced so far, I’d put them up there with the Dak-full Cowboys in Week 3 as the best. So, how do you combat that?

Well, I’ll tell you, I’m very nervous about Murray’s legs. I don’t know how often we employ a defensive spy (it doesn’t feel like a lot), but one might come in handy this week. Who to use in that role, though? The thought of Cody Barton trying to ankle tackle him is bringing back bad memories of Isaiah Kacyvenski! This is precisely the reason why we drafted someone like Jordyn Brooks, which makes his injury troubles all the more annoying. It doesn’t look like he’s recovered yet, but even if he has, he hasn’t played in many weeks, so would we trust him to follow around one of the most dynamic players in all of football? Seems risky, to say the least. In reality, it’s going to be a team effort.

Not for nothing, but this is a game where having a bad pass rush might actually be to our advantage. As long as our edge rushers don’t over-commit and run themselves out of the play, we could just clog things up and force Murray to stay in the pocket. Not that he’s a BAD pocket passer, but he’s not yet at a Russell Wilson level, and he’s more prone to make mistakes while he’s in there.

Honestly, the Seahawks need to keep doing what they’ve done the last couple of weeks: Bend/Don’t Break. Murray throws a nice deep ball – again, not on Russell’s wavelength, but good nonetheless – and so we’re going to have to limit deep gains to hopefully zero. Force the Cardinals into longer, 10-, 12-, 15-play drives. I guarantee you Murray won’t be as consistent as Kirk Cousins; he’ll get antsy, he’ll miss some guys, he might even throw a pick or two.

To go along with that, we MUST keep Drake in check. Giving up first down-converting runs to Murray is going to happen once in a while. But, allowing Drake to run for huge chunks of yardage is a huge no-no. The Vikings were able to exploit us in that regard (with Cousins obviously not being NEARLY the threat Murray is with his legs) and that game ended up being a lot closer than it should’ve been. We need to get back on track and force the Cardinals into being one-dimensional.

It would be nice to get Jamal Adams back for this one, but it looks like he’s going to miss another week. Sigh. Look, I get it, we want him 100% from this injury so he isn’t hampered the rest of the way (especially when it matters most: the playoffs), but it’s fucking annoying because we could REALLY use him in this one. His pass rushing, and his speed in general, would solve a lot of our defense’s ills when it comes to containing Murray.

Offensively, the Seahawks need to keep doing what they’ve been doing. It’s hard to say how good Arizona’s defense is, because the Cowboys were SO BAD in the game I saw. If that was the only game you ever saw the Cardinals play, you’d think they are nothing but a bunch of world-beaters. But, that’s obviously not the case, as their two losses would indicate (on top of losing Chandler Jones for the rest of the season).

Hopefully, the Seahawks have done a little self-scouting, as I think the Vikings exposed a lot of flaws with our offensive attack. I mean, opposing defenses should just do what we’re trying to do on defense: sell out to limit the big plays and force the Seahawks to dink and dunk down the field. We have the talent to do that; Russell Wilson is certainly capable of moving the ball in such a fashion. It’s just a matter of execution, and staying patient. Continue to take what the defense gives you, and the big plays will still show up occasionally.

I’m sure the Cardinals are fine along the front seven, but I’m not overly concerned there. Where they’re REALLY strong is in the secondary, led by UW standout Budda Baker, who is an absolute MACHINE! Every time I’m reminded that the Seahawks passed him over in the draft for some lunkhead who never played a down in the NFL, I grow more infuriated with what we all knew at the time was a moronic decision by the front office. Anyway, he was all over the place against Dallas, and I expect him to be just as big of a pain in our asses come Sunday.

One thing we have going for us is we’re coming off of a BYE week. The Seahawks – under Pete Carroll, and with Russell Wilson – are 6-2 after a BYE week. One of those losses? To the Cardinals (in Seattle, on Sunday Night Football); but I wouldn’t be too worried, because unlike that weekend, this time I won’t be in the state of Nevada losing hundreds upon hundreds of dollars (that won’t happen again until the first weekend in December, when the Seahawks play the lowly Giants).

I ultimately believe the Seahawks will (and should) win this game. We weirdly own the Cardinals in Arizona (6-1-1 in the Russell Wilson era, with the lone defeat being his very first game in the NFL). But, if there ever was a game where I wouldn’t be shocked if we blew it, this would be it. The good news is: we’re pretty healthy, with more reinforcements on their way. The bad news is: we’re still missing a few key pieces to the puzzle, and so our perfect record will continue to be in jeopardy as long as they’re out.

Are The 2020 Seahawks Better Than The 2019 Seahawks?

I’m having difficulty getting a read from the fanbase when it comes to their overall thoughts on the 2019 Seahawks; is that team considered a disappointment, or did they make the most of what they had? It’s easy to forget – knowing that was a Wild Card team who was ultimately thrust from the playoffs in the Divisional Round – but the 2019 Seahawks started out 10-2, among the best teams in all of football by record at the time. We lost three of our last four regular season games (all to divisional opponents) to lose our handle on the divisional title and a chance at a top two seed in the NFC, then we beat a decimated Eagles team before losing like we usually do on the road in the Divisional Round (by falling into a deep hole early and not having enough in the tank to come all the way back late). When you factor in a generational talent like Russell Wilson being in his prime, once again falling short of the Super Bowl, that feels disappointing to me. Maybe I’m spoiled, but I don’t know what to tell you.

The 2020 Seahawks are 4-0 right now. With the way our schedule is shaping up – among the easiest in football – not only do I see a reasonable path to at least matching our 10-2 start from a season ago, unless things take a dramatically dark turn, I’d be shocked if we’re not 12-2 as we head into the final two weeks of the season. 13-3 is not only on the table at this point, but should be the FLOOR. I don’t think a perfect season is happening, but one or two losses? I’m not throwing that out of bed for eating crackers!

When you think about how much we’ve obsessed over the quality of the defense to date – rightfully so, I might add – I can’t help but question whether or not this team is actually better than the one we saw a year ago. Are we better, or is our schedule just easier?

Well, let’s get the simple question out of the way: the schedule is unquestionably easier. The 2019 AFC North was much more difficult than the 2020 AFC East; give me those Ravens over these Bills, those Steelers (when we played them, with a healthy Big Ben) over these Patriots, those Browns over these Dolphins, and even those Bengals over these Jets. The 2019 NFC South was much more difficult than the 2020 NFC East; there’s no point in even going through the teams (we’ve seen this NFC East for many seasons continue to underwhelm at every turn). The 2019 Eagles and Vikings were superior to the 2020 Falcons and Vikings, no contest. And, I would argue the 2019 NFC West was much more difficult than the 2020 version, based on the 49ers being decimated by injuries and clearly not living up to the standard they set last year. We might’ve overrated the Cardinals in Year 2 of the Kyler Murray regime, and I think the Rams are about equal to what they were a season ago (Jared Goff will never take the next step as an elite quarterback, I’m sorry).

So, let’s look at the first question: are the Seahawks better?

On paper, just looking at the roster alone, the offense doesn’t look a whole lot different. Same quarterback, mostly same receivers, same starting running back, many of the same tight ends and offensive linemen, and even the same offensive coordinator. Obviously, everything is being made about Letting Russ Cook, but what is so remarkable to me is that there doesn’t seem to be any drop in efficiency. That was the knock against letting Russ cook in the past: we were winning games, mostly because he was the most efficient quarterback in football. He did more with less (attempts), and the only reason why he wasn’t among the MVP finalists is because he didn’t have those attempts, or total yardage numbers, that dazzle the eye and cloud the brain. Russell Wilson has always had high passer ratings, low interception numbers, and high yards per attempt averages. And, obviously, we’re looking at a quarter of the normal sample size in any given year, but he’s blowing all of those numbers out of the water so far!

You would think more attempts = more opportunities for mistakes. Or, more attempts = more short passes, for a lower yards per attempt average. Again, it’s the opposite! Last year, his passer rating was 106.3 (his career high in any season was 110.9 in 2018); this year his rating is 136.7 (out of a possible 158.3). Last year, his yards per attempt were an even 8.0 (his career high in any season was 8.3 in 2015); this year it’s 9.4. He’s not just dinking and dunking and checking down to running backs and tight ends; he’s throwing deep as he always has and still connecting on these beautiful arcing rainbow balls!

In short (no pun intended), I think many of us (myself included) thought we’d seen the best of what Russell Wilson has to offer, but he’s continuing to soar to new heights (ditto) and it’s incredible to witness.

There’s also a very credible argument to be made that these are the best weapons he’s ever had. That is a BOLD statement! Remember, he’s had guys like Marshawn Lynch, Doug Baldwin, Golden Tate, Sidney Rice, Zach Miller … and sure, Jimmy Graham and Percy Harvin. But, would you rather have those guys, or Chris Carson, Tyler Lockett, D.K. Metcalf, Greg Olsen, Will Dissly, David Moore, Carlos Hyde, Jacob Hollister, and Freddie Swain? They’ve all come up big in the early going, and we still have Josh Gordon, Phillip Dorsett, and Rashaad Penny waiting in the wings! Even when you just compare the 2020 group to 2019, I think you have to factor in the improved development of guys like Metcalf and Moore, as well as the rookie Swain who is already better than any fourth/fifth receiver we had last year.

Even though so many of the pieces are similar to what they were a season ago, this offense is unquestionably leaps & bounds better than it was (and better than it’s ever been, in the history of this franchise).

That brings us back to the defense.

So … yeah, the pass defense isn’t great. The pass rush was never thought to be anything above the bottom quarter in football, but the secondary has been atrocious as well. We’re still giving up over 400 yards passing per game, which is easily worst in the NFL. However! The run defense is only giving up 75.8 yards per game (third best); in 2019, the Seahawks gave up 117.7 rushing yards per game (11th worst). In a way, that makes sense, because our offense is so good, teams have to throw more to keep up and/or catch up with what we’re doing. But, it’s not like our 2019 offense was a turd sandwich or anything; we were in the top ten in yards and points. I do believe there is a drastic improvement in the quality of our run defense, which is further helping us force opposing offenses into being one-dimensional. Think of it this way: don’t you think every single team that faces the Seahawks wants to do whatever it takes to keep Russell Wilson on the sideline? Wouldn’t you think – that being the case – that teams would do their best to get a running game going against us? The fact that they’ve mostly failed in that endeavor is pretty telling.

I also want to look at turnovers, because I like what I’ve seen from this part of our defense so far and I don’t think it’s getting enough credit. The Seahawks are +5 in turnover ratio right now, tied for second (and, as we all know, one of those Wilson interceptions went right off of Greg Olsen’s hands, so we really should be tied for first at +6). The offense should always limit turnovers based on our quarterback and our coaching staff’s emphasis on taking care of the rock, so that ratio is always going to be in our favor. But, the defense alone has generated 8 turnovers, good for a tie for second (the Browns lead the NFL with 10). Of those 8 turnovers, 6 are via the interception, which I think is huge (the Browns, by contrast, only have 4 interceptions). Fumbles are largely a byproduct of luck. Most fumbles are 50/50 propositions; it’s an anomaly if one team is particularly good or bad at recovering them. Sure, teams can be good at FORCING them, but the name of this particular game I’m talking about is turnovers. Getting the ball back. If we’re not going to sack the opposing quarterback (six in four games, tied for sixth-worst), then we better be good at generating turnovers if we’re going to contend for a Super Bowl.

Last year, the Seahawks were tied for third in turnover differential at +12. We had 32 takeaways, also good for third in the NFL. Of those 32, it was an even 16/16 split between interceptions and fumble recoveries; 16 interceptions is pretty good (tied for fifth in the NFL last year), but the 16 fumble recoveries were tied for second most, which is a pretty remarkable feat and difficult to match from year to year. However, if you project a decrease in the number of fumbles our defense can recover in 2020 (which I do), while acknowledging that even a moderate increase in interceptions MIGHT be in play, can we really expect to have a drastically improved turnover differential? I would say absolutely! Because remember, that factors in the number of times our offense gave away the football. The Seahawks in 2019 were tied for the third-most lost fumbles (many of them thanks to Chris Carson’s butter fingers, which improved dramatically as the season went on); the odds of the Seahawks losing that many fumbles on offense in 2020 seem low to me. Partly because of regression in fumble luck, partly because we’re just not running the ball as much, and partly because Chris Carson is in a contract year (and fumblers don’t get max-money deals).

I don’t see a path where our sack numbers improve from where they were a season ago (we were tied for second-worst in 2019, which feels about right for 2020), but I do very much see a path to an increase in interceptions, given the level of talent in our secondary (which will get better as they get used to playing with one another; those communication breakdowns will be eliminated, I’m sure of it) as well as the fact that most teams will be forced into throwing the ball more than they’re used to (thanks to our offense putting up tons of points, and our run defense stuffing the everloving shit out of the line of scrimmage).

All of that combined, I think, points to this 2020 Seahawks team being much improved over the 2019 incarnation. Tack on the easy schedule, and the top seed in the NFC is very much in our sights.

We just need the Packers to lose a few games and we’ll be all set!

Nobody Wants To Hear About My Fantasy Team 2020: Some Nobody Did, In Fact, Beat The Wiz!

I honestly really don’t mind as much the weeks where there’s literally nothing I could’ve done to improve my chances. Nobody Beats The Wiz went up against a buzzsaw in the form of Korky Butchek. He got it started with a 30-point explosion last Thursday from his Jacksonville running back, and ultimately ran away with it partway through the morning games on Sunday. I lost 201.85 to 140.63, and none of my batshit tinkering mattered in the slightest.

In fact, one of my better tinkering moves in YEARS came in the form of picking up Indy’s defense, who got me 39 points; easily my best “player” of the week. I otherwise got good games out of Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Ezekiel Elliott, but they can’t all be abominations I suppose.

I’m not ready to call Daniel Jones a bust, but I’m FULLY prepared to rail against those idiots who are running the New York Football Giants. Why in the holiest of FUCKS would you put so much draft stock in your quarterback and running back – the two most important positions in your offensive attack – and not shore up the offensive line? I mean, ARE you stupid? I legitimately want to know, so I can avoid anything you have any part in from here to eternity!

Otherwise, I’m ready to move on to next week. The Mitch Trubisky Experiment was a collosal bust. Going up against Atlanta’s absurdly inept defense, he was so ineffective that the head coach pulled him in the third quarter (right before Nick Foles led the Bears on a massive comeback to win it late). Carson Wentz took a week off from being in my starting lineup, but I’m ready to kiss and make up. I can’t say he was impressive against the Bungles, but he did outscore my other two quarterbacks (as I figured he would, as soon as I benched him). At this point, I’m just hoping for mediocrity; I’ll settle for that after the disasters I’ve had to endure so far this season.

Now is the part of the column where we talk about my latest round of waiver claims and free agent pick-ups! Of course, I tried to get another quarterback, with Mitch Trubisky effectively fantasy poison. My claims for Ryan Fitzpatrick and Nick Foles were both thwarted, so I settled for 49ers backup Nick Mullens. If he plays this week, I’ll start him over Daniel Jones; if he’s not, then I guess I’m fucked, aren’t I? I did also put in a claim for Vikings first round receiver Justin Jefferson who had a big game last week. They need SOMEONE opposite Adam Thielen to step up in that offense, and he looks like the likeliest candidate. Considering the Vikings will frequently be losing in games, they will need to throw quite a bit, so there could be lots of targets and points on the table for me.

I ended up dropping the aforementioned Trubisky, as well as the Washington defense. I’ll be rolling with just the Colts for a while and see how that goes.

Nobody Beats The Wiz is facing off against To Be Named By Casey (who has apparently not gotten around to actually naming this team yet). It’s a battle of 1-2 vs. 0-3! Titans of the fantasy football industry! His team isn’t quite as bad as his 0-3 record might indicate, as he’s suffered a lot of injuries to his primary weapons (a lot of guys who figure to be back in his lineup just in time to face me; thanks fantasy gods!). Not for nothing, but I’m not so sure my team is as GOOD as my one win might indicate! We could be looking at a really long season. Here’s my lineup this week:

  • Carson Wentz (QB) @ SF
  • Daniel Jones (QB) @ LAR
  • Odell Beckham (WR) @ DAL
  • CeeDee Lamb (WR) vs. CLE
  • Ezekiel Elliott (RB) vs. CLE
  • Clyde Edwards-Helaire (RB) vs. NE
  • Noah Fant (TE) @ NYJ
  • Josh Jacobs (RB) vs. BUF
  • Harrison Butker (K) vs. NE
  • Indianapolis (DEF) @ CHI

Mullens I’ve already talked about; I’m all for putting him into my lineup if he’s starting this week. I have three non-IR receivers on my bench right now, but none of their matchups look particularly good. My team is what it is, I just need guys to perform. Here’s my opponent:

  • Kyler Murray (QB) @ CAR
  • Ryan Fitzpatrick (QB) vs. SEA
  • Mike Evans (WR) vs. LAC
  • Michael Thomas (WR) @ DET
  • Joe Mixon (RB) vs. JAX
  • Myles Gaskin (RB) vs. SEA
  • Mark Andrews (TE) @ WAS
  • Darren Waller (TE) vs. BUF
  • Robbie Gould (K) vs. PHI
  • Chicago (DEF) vs. IND

He also has Derek Carr at quarterback, but given their matchup against the Bills, it makes much more sense to play Fitzpatick against the hapless Seahawks defense. His receivers are elite; my only hope is Michael Thomas hasn’t fully returned from his ankle injury and he’s used more as a decoy. Mark Andrews had a bad game against the Chiefs on Monday Night, so look for him to score three touchdowns against Washington. The other flex spot could go to a number of guys, but I see Waller in there now, so figure he’s as good as anyone.

I have zero reason for confidence that Nobody Beats The Wiz can win this week or ever again! It’s grim, folks! I have three running backs I like and that’s about it! I mean, at some point you have to ask yourself when this failing fantasy franchise is going to fire its general manager (me) and find someone more competent to take over the job!