Nobody Wants To Hear About My Fantasy Team 2021: Staving Off Elimination

It’s not over, but Snoopy & Prickly Pete avoided a guaranteed last place finish by eking one out over Korky Butchek in the Toilet Bowl, 126.15 to 125.10.

This one looked REALLY solid as I headed into Monday Night Football with over an 80% chance of winning. I was trailing by around 15 points, but Korky had no more guys going, while I had Taylor Heinicke and D.K. Metcalf. Each player by themselves was projected to outscore my deficit. But, there I was, needing 4 points with a quarter left to play. There I was, needing 2.5 points with four minutes left to play. There I was, with a touchdown pass by Heinicke that was overturned with just over two minutes to go! And, there I was, right after that, needing just one catch for two yards out of D.K. Metcalf on the Seahawks’ final drive of the game. To that point, he had zero catches for zero yards on, I believe, just one target (he had zero targets heading into the second half, which is batshit crazy to me).

Thankfully, on that last drive, Metcalf had 1 reception for 13 yards, which was plenty for me to work with, even with Heinicke losing a rushing yard on the kneel down to end the game.

Clearly, with my team’s output, there wasn’t a lot to celebrate this past week. However, Javonte Williams – in my first game with him since the trade – put up 20.1 points, which is VERY encouraging. Even moreso, Mac Jones put up 28.6 to lead the way for my team. The move of the week – that won it for me – was picking up Houston’s defense. They only scored 12 points, but the Rams only scored 1 for my bench; it’s about time a move like that paid dividends.

It’s good too, because Korky’s kicker obnoxiously put up 21 points. Losing because an opposing kicker scores 21 is reason enough to never want kickers in the league; I’ve been fighting that losing battle for years, and I’ll continue to rage against the randomness of kicker scoring.

The victory puts me in a tie with Korky Butchek for last place, with a 3-9 record. However, he’s got a 50-point advantage over me. Which means either I need to keep pace with him record-wise – and outscore him by 50 points in the process – or I need to beat him by a game somewhere in the final two weeks of the regular season.

So, you’re tellin’ me there’s a chance!

This week, I go up against Toot Cannons; here’s who I’m looking to go with:

  • Mac Jones (QB) @ BUF
  • Taylor Heinicke (QB) @ LV
  • CeeDee Lamb (WR) @ NO
  • Diontae Johnson (WR) vs. BAL
  • Javonte Williams (RB) @ KC
  • Alexander Mattison (RB) @ DET
  • Mike Gesicki (TE) vs. NYG
  • D.K. Metcalf (WR) vs. SF
  • Ryan Succop (K) @ ATL
  • L.A. Rams (DEF) vs. JAX

Big news this week, as Dalvin Cook is injured and figures to miss a couple games. Mattison has been riding my bench ever since it looked like Cook might get suspended for domestic violence, and I’ve seen no reason to give up on that because Mattison is easily the most valuable backup running back in football. It’s for weeks like these where you want to have him. Against the Lions, he should feast. I’m benching Ezekiel Elliott this week because there’s been chatter of the Cowboys resting him. Even if he plays, though, the Saints have one of the best rush defenses in football. I could see him being more decoy than actual offensive asset; we’ll see if my gamble pays off. I’m kind of all in on Williams at this point, plus I absolutely HAVE to believe D.K. is in for a big game at some point. My dynasty kind of depends on it.

Toot Cannons has an extremely strong team, as you’ll see below:

  • Carson Wentz (QB) @ HOU
  • Kyler Murray (QB) @ CHI
  • Justin Jefferson (WR) @ DET
  • Mike Williams (WR) @ CIN
  • Najee Harris (RB) vs. BAL
  • Saquon Barkley (RB) @ MIA
  • Dallas Goedert (TE) @ NYJ
  • Tee Higgins (WR) vs. LAC
  • Harrison Butker (K) vs. DEN
  • San Francisco (DEF) @ SEA

He’s also got Tua, who has looked halfway competent at times! Certainly better than most of the QBs on my roster. And, he’s got Myles Gaskin as insurance off his bench. It’s going to be a tall order; Toot Cannons is 7-5 and has weathered the storm of the Murray injury over the last month. He looks to be in great shape to make a playoff run. Meanwhile, I’m fighting for my life to avoid last place.

In the spirit of Scoreboard Watching, Korky Butchek will be going up against The Lance Petemans this week. Lance is 5-7 and on the outside-looking-in on a playoff spot in seventh place. He has something to play for, so I’m hoping he’s up to the challenge of keeping me alive for Not Last Place.

Splinter League Round-Up!

BUCK FUTTER had an unimpressive victory over Chubby Dumplings to keep my hold on third place. More importantly, we knocked Chubby to a game back in the standings. The first place team also lost, which means I’m now just a game back of the top spot, all with three weeks to go. Next week, I get to play that erstwhile first place team (who fell to second, based on total points scored) for a chance to leapfrog him and try to cement my spot in the 4-team playoffs. I’ll have to do it without Aaron Rodgers, who has really been carrying me this year; thankfully, I was on top of stashing Mattison in all my leagues, so he should provide a boost for three teams I know and care about!

Leaving The Seahawks For Dead

I know the Seahawks aren’t officially eliminated from playoff contention yet, but it’s only a matter of time. The writing has been on the wall since the second week of the season, but when you melt down like the Seahawks melted down yesterday, there’s no coming back. Even if the Seahawks did manage to run the table, what would be the point? To stick it to the Jets? Haven’t they suffered enough?

The Arizona Cardinals went into this game with no DeAndre Hopkins; we knew that well ahead of time. They also went into this game with no Kyler Murray; we heard about this either the night before or the morning of. Colt McCoy got the start, and much like last year – when he came into Seattle as a member of the New York Football Giants and somehow emerged victorious – he once again decimated our season. If you’ll recall, at season’s end we were one game out of the top spot in the NFC; had we beaten the Giants, we would’ve been in a vastly superior position over merely hosting in the wild card round and losing at home to the Rams.

This year, Colt McCoy & Co. dropped us to 3-7. It’s like when Travis Coates shot a rabid Old Yeller out behind the barn, but if Old Yeller was a dick to everyone the entire movie. No one is mourning the death of this Seahawks season; this team hasn’t been fun to watch for years, and this is the LEAST-fun version of all of these mediocre Seahawks teams.

You know whose schtick gets really old and tired when he’s not pulling games out of his ass and carrying the team on his back? Russell Wilson. I’m ready for him to go somewhere else. It’s clear he doesn’t give a shit and doesn’t want to be here.

All the old, dead weight needs to be dropped as well. That means getting rid of Chris Carson, Alex Collins, and Rashaad Penny. Carson is already out for the year with an upcoming neck surgery, and has probably played his final down of football (because the last thing anyone wants to do is take a chance on permanently injuring their neck, especially when they play a position that gets hit as often as running back does). Trash-aad Penny had an opening run of 18 yards, immediately got injured, had a run of 1 yard in the second half, and never returned. He had the highest health grade of all running backs the year he was drafted.

Duane Brown sure looks like he’s done! I’m glad we didn’t bother to extend him. Gabe Jackson sure looks like a waste of money! I saw him fuck up on two critical plays where he couldn’t handle a simple defensive stunt; that’s all I need to see. The center position has been a continuous wasteland ever since we traded away Max Unger. And, the worst player I saw yesterday was Brandon Shell, who got repeatedly abused by Chandler Jones.

It’s hard to get too mad at the defense, as I thought they did their jobs for the most part. But, they couldn’t do anything when it mattered most (7 minutes left in the game, the Seahawks just scored to pull it to within 3 points; Arizona promptly drove 67 yards for a TD, taking 4:45 off the clock) and there are any number of guys who are overpaid and not performing to market rates.

I can’t wait to have most of these veterans out of my life, but there’s one thing I haven’t mentioned yet.

If we’re talking about doing a full tear-down and rebuild, you can’t ignore the coaching staff and front office. Since I referenced schtick getting old, I might as well talk about Pete Carroll here. Conventional wisdom indicates when you find a franchise quarterback, you do whatever it takes to make him happy and keep him for as long as his prime will last. Between that, and Carroll’s advanced age, it was fair to wonder if he wanted to endure another rebuild. But, at this point, I don’t think he has a choice. And in fact, I think the choice will be made for him as soon as the final game ends and Russell Wilson hands the team his updated list of teams he’ll accept a trade to. So, the next question to ask is: does Pete Carroll want to return? And, if so, will the team decide to keep him?

I’ll save the conversation around whether the team SHOULD bring him back or not for another time. Seeing how this team devolved over the last half decade, I think it’s fair for a lot of Seahawks fans to want a change from the top on down. But, Pete Carroll helped engineer the greatest rebuild in team history a decade ago; part of me is curious to see if he can do it again. Or, rather, what he would do this time around (because it’s unfair to expect him to helm a rebuild as epic as the last one).

The downside of keeping Carroll is we’re almost certainly going to keep the coaching staff around him. That means Ken Norton wouldn’t be going anywhere, even though he’s inept at his job. And, that means Shane Waldron getting another crack at it. A blind chimp should be able to take the talent we have with Russell Wilson at quarterback and average more than 19 points on offense. I think our initial suspicions were correct when we saw the Seahawks hire someone who had – time and time again – been passed over for promotions, by both his own team and the other teams who were looking to poach from the Rams.

Then, there’s John Schneider. He’s a guy who hasn’t had a quality draft since 2012. He’s a guy who has bungled a high percentage of high-profile trades. He’s punted on most first rounds of the draft, and when he hasn’t, he’s still failed spectacularly. I don’t know how you defend the guy anymore. Other teams win a lot, get saddled with lower draft picks, and still manage to find quality players to incorporate into their systems. Other teams don’t go through these endless periods where their fucking offensive line can’t block for shit.

I don’t know. Normally, when things get this bad, I take solace in looking forward to what changes can be made to improve things, but as I’ve mentioned nonstop, there’s nothing to look forward to with this team. The Jets own our first round pick (at this point, it’s the fifth overall pick … sigh). For some reason, we got back the Jets’ fourth rounder, but we traded away our sixth rounder to the Jags for Sidney Jones. We’ve managed to save a little bit of money, but who knows if there’s some panic deal to be made in free agency in the coming weeks. Nevertheless, that money appears to be earmarked to go towards future dead money (with all of the monkeying around with contracts this year, combined with the dead money from shedding this team of its underperforming veterans), but regardless it’s not like this team has problems free agency can solve.

This team needs to bottom out, and that’s what’s so miserable about being in this position: we’re 3-7, we have the fifth-worst record in the entire NFL, and we haven’t even reached rock bottom yet! It’s not like we’re going to magically improve with Russell Wilson gone next year and this team immersed in a full rebuild. Indeed, we’re probably going to contend for the worst overall record in that scenario, so we have another full year of this to look forward to, at least!

This feels like the early 90’s all over again. Buckle up, because it’s going to be a turbulent bandwagon for the foreseeable future.

The Seahawks Have A Lot Of Good Players, But Are Not A Good Team

You don’t need me to run down the list of Seahawks players you know and love. There are current and former Pro Bowlers up and down this roster. But, this is somehow a shit team.

It’s not even a chemistry thing, necessarily (though, I’m sure there are a lot of disgruntled people in that organization, thanks to this 1-2 start). I just think the collective of players aren’t conducive to winning a lot of football games. This certainly isn’t a championship squad!

I don’t know who deserves what percentage of the blame; I’m just going to start going through the entire Seahawks organization.

You have to start with Pete Carroll. He’s 70 years old, and he’s clinging to this quarterback and this roster as his final hurrah. Even though age is just a construct, and he’s as active and sharp as ever, all you hear about is how he doesn’t want to endure another rebuild. Maybe that’s just the blatherings of know-nothing NFL pundits, or maybe where there’s smoke there’s fire. Feels a little smoky to me. Which, if true, would lead to him making moves that aren’t necessarily in the best interests of this organization long-term. Like giving in to veterans in the final year of their respective deals, paying them extra and getting nothing in return. Has Pete Carroll lost the locker room? With Wilson’s media antics over the offseason, I think it’s fair to say that may be the case.

Let’s go to Russell Wilson next, because you’re looking at an empty start to this season for a guy who has the highest passer rating in the NFL. 895 yards (8th in the NFL), 10.4 yards per attempt (1st) and the aforementioned 133.6 passer rating, with 7 TDs and 0 INTs. But, you know what I see? I see someone padding out his stats. I see someone who is continuing to hunt exclusively for deep balls to get more highlights shown to the national audience. I see someone who has been in range of a Hail Mary opportunity for two consecutive weeks, yet checks down for a meaningless long gain as the clock expires to make his numbers look better, rather than chance throwing a meaningless interception. I understand that those are not high-percentage plays; almost certainly they would fall incomplete. But, what’s the harm in trying? The check-down is GUARANTEED to fail; at least there’s a small percentage chance of success. You’ve seen all the Aaron Rodgers throws; you saw Kyler Murray against the Bills last year.

I’m not saying I want Wilson to take crazy chances like he started to do at times last year; I’m just saying I want him to run the fucking offense he demanded all along. HE wanted us to bring in Shane Waldron. Shane Waldron has looked okay so far in calling plays. But, Wilson is going fucking rogue.

The offensive line was a disaster against the Vikings, I’ll give you that. But, when you see them struggle to protect, you know what you’re supposed to do? Start checking down and throwing quick (outside of Hail Mary situations, of course)! You don’t continue to try to launch deep balls! I put that squarely on Russell Wilson. Do you see how Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers perform in the face of pressure like that? They can’t wait to get the ball out of their hands! Wilson, your biggest complaint this past offseason was getting hit too much; do you see AT ALL your part in this?!

The longer this season goes along, and the more the Seahawks continue to look like shit in entire halves of ballgames, the more I’m over Russell Wilson. Fuck it, man. He doesn’t want to be here; you can see it in the way he plays. If he doesn’t want to be here, I don’t want to be forced to watch a slowed-down version of a guy who refuses to get rid of the ball on time, and also can’t manage to scramble his way out of trouble.

Up next: Ken Norton needs to be fired. He needs to be unemployed, and he needs to get as far away from this Seahawks defense as possible. He’s not a defensive coordinator, period. If Pete Carroll wants someone to run the Pete Carroll defense, then Pete Carroll needs to fucking start calling the plays.

I’m very glad the Seahawks didn’t do anything crazy with Bobby Wagner’s deal to try to free up some more money, because there’s no reason to take on his $20 million cap hit next year. The only cause for concern is the fact that Pete Carroll will probably still be here, and he won’t want to move on. But, this team needs a rebuild from top to bottom, and one major renovation piece is to get rid of old, dead weight. We need to get young, fast, and hungry at linebacker. I don’t need Bobby Wagner preaching on a pulpit at his weekly press conferences talking about whatever book he just read; I need him to make some fucking impact plays on defense!

Use the money he’s due to shore up the secondary, because everyone back there can go as far as I’m concerned. Just make Jamal Adams a strongside linebacker already and get it over with! He can’t cover for shit! Quandre Diggs isn’t Earl Thomas; he’s more of a Right Place At The Right Time sort of impact player. The cornerbacks are atrocious; we need a full tear-down at that position (starting with Tre Flowers, this week).

I’m sick of this team, I guess is my point. I’m sick of watching a team struggle just to make it to the Wild Card Round every fucking year. We wasted our dynasty opportunity a decade ago, and the consequence has been late-round draft picks year after year after year. I’d rather this team just bottom out, except – of course – we traded away our first rounder next year to the fucking Jets!

Which means I’m stuck with this team. Fucking great.

The Seahawks are who we thought they were. They’ll probably beat the bad-to-mediocre teams (unless those teams happen to play killer defense), and they’ll probably lose to the good teams. If there are enough bad-to-mediocre teams on our schedule, then we’ll contend for a wild card spot. But, even if we get that far, we’re destined to lose early in the playoffs yet again, before we run it all back again next year for some reason.

God I hate sports.

Nobody Wants To Hear About My Fantasy Team 2021: Return Of The Splinter League

My fantasy column (which is really just an excuse to complain about my fantasy teams, but also lets me provide my analysis on a variety of players and matchups on a weekly basis) has been a regular feature on my blog since 2018. You can catch up on the types of leagues I’m in HERE. I mostly just talk about my Main League, one I used to be commissioner of since its infancy back in the 2003-range. I’m still in it – with a group of my oldest friends – though I’m no longer in charge. I went and started my own Splinter League with some friends who are in the Main League, as well as some other friends, and it’s much more lowkey and casual. Both are 2-QB leagues that heavily skew towards more points for the quarterbacks (since they’re the most important players in the real NFL, I feel this is valid for fantasy as well).

The Splinter League is much more QB-friendly (15 yards per point, compared to 20 in the Main League; both are 6-point touchdowns and -4 points for INTs). Anyway, I’ll have more to say about the Main League at another time, but my Splinter League team just had its draft on Sunday night, so let’s get into it!

This year’s Splinter League team name is BUCK FUTTER, from the infamous SNL Jeopardy! sketch. It’s an okay name, but I didn’t have a lot of inspiration this year, especially after trying to compete with last year’s Pound Some Cunth, which was *chef’s kiss*.

I’m mostly just excited because I drafted a really good team. I’m not the only one who thinks so, as Yahoo – on draft day – pegged me for a 14-1 record this season. Just a day removed – even though Yahoo has tinkered with the projected standings of other teams – I remain with that 14-1 prognostication. I was also the only team to get an A grade by Yahoo (the next-highest was a B; then there’s a B-, with everyone else in the C-range in our 10-team league).

I logged on 30 minutes prior to find I was drafting 9th. That means that – again, with our scoring system being what it is – most of the top tier quarterbacks would be taken. The guy with the first draft pick never showed and had his team auto-drafted by Yahoo; as a result, Yahoo drafted him a team the way it would in any old league (i.e. eschewing quarterbacks early for running backs and receivers). CMC was the first overall pick. Then it went: Mahomes, Allen, Brady, Dalvin Cook, Wilson, Kyler, and Lamar (the Cook guy also temporarily forgot about the scoring system, but that’s not a bad alternative for him).

So, I was left with the guy I picked – Aaron Rodgers – among players like Tannehill, Dak, Herbert, Hurts, Stafford, and Lawrence. The 10th pick in the snake went with Zeke Elliott and Tannehill back-to-back, which left me in the illustrious position of getting Alvin Kamara with my second round pick. Outstanding! I’ve never had him on a fantasy team before and I couldn’t be more thrilled that he’s with me now (with no Brees, and lots of question marks on that Saints offense).

I had the usual LONG wait before I got to my third and fourth picks. I opted for Matthew Stafford over Trevor Lawrence to close out the third round (I never considered for a second going with either Baker Mayfield or Matt Ryan, who both went later in the fourth round). I’ll say this: if the Splinter League were a keeper league, it would’ve been Lawrence all day. But, we do full redrafts here, and I’m not willing to jump on the Lawrence bandwagon if there’s no long-term benefit for me. There will be lots of yards thrown, but I also anticipate lots of turnovers that will hurt him. I also wanted to go with Stafford because – like Rodgers – he’s on a team that’s going to be in the running with the Seahawks for the top seed in the NFC. If I have any bad mojo on me, and it carries over to those guys, all the better for my beloved Seahawks. Otherwise, if they play as well as I expect them to, I should have no problems at the quarterback position in 2021 (for this league, anyway).

With my fourth round pick, I nabbed Najee Harris. This is a guy I LOVED in college, and desperately wished my Seahawks could’ve somehow gotten in the real NFL draft. I was burned last year in my Main League with rookie running back CEH, but Harris seems like a slam dunk as long as he stays healthy. I can’t remember the last time I had two running backs I was so fond of! If you let me hand-pick any two running backs for my fantasy team, it would’ve been Kamara and Harris. I know guys just say things like that all the time, but for me it’s true. I think both will be durable, as well as points hogs both in the running and passing games. Plus, they’re just fun players to watch (unless they’re going against your team, then you’re never more miserable, particularly when they’re going off).

With another long wait between picks, a lot of good receivers were going off the board. I had no shot at the upper tier guys (Tyreek, Davante, Kelce, D.K., Hopkins, Diggs, and Ridley all went in rounds 2 and 3 between my picks), and players I was potentially eyeballing for the end of the fifth round, like Keenan Allen, Allen Robinson, and particularly CeeDee Lamb, were all swiped from me (Lamb one spot prior). I could’ve gone after the Rams guys – Kupp & Woods – to pair them with my quarterback; I could’ve had Tyler Lockett, Amari Cooper, or even Julio for that matter. But, inspiration struck, and I decided to ride the bandwagon of another prominent Seahawks opponent in the NFC in the Tampa Bay Bucs. I got Chris Godwin in the 5th, and swung around and took Mike Evans in the 6th. People are down on Evans, but I still like his touchdown potential if he stays healthy. Godwin is playing for a new contract next year and I expect him to be fired up to make a big splash this year, statswise. I’ll put both of them in my starting lineup together and hope Tom Brady can give it another run (big “if”, I know).

With my next two picks, I was looking for Best Skill Position Available, as the Splinter League has two flex spots (and no mandatory tight end spot, though you could play TE at either/both flex spots if you wanted). Adam Thielen was sniped from me one pick prior, so I settled for Tee Higgins, who is a guy I really like anyway. I had a chance to make him a keeper in my Main League, but was ultimately scared off by the two other quality receivers they have in that offense. Nevertheless, I expect Higgins to continue to produce as long as Joe Burrow is healthy. When the draft whipped around, I got the other running back I wanted: Darrell Henderson. With Cam Akers out for the year, Henderson seems like a strong bet to break out in the Rams’ offense. There’s a chance Sony Michel takes some of his carries (particularly at the goalline), but there’s a reason why the Patriots gave up on Michel: he stinks. I might end up handcuffing the two at some point, but for now Henderson is the safer bet.

I opted to continue going Best Skill Position Available in the 9th & 10th rounds, settling on Mark Andrews first. I’m already iffy on that, but Gus Edwards was sniped from me one pick prior (seriously, that guy who drafted 8th fucked me no less than three times). I also didn’t love the value I was getting on defenses at that spot (the elite defenses were already taken, meaning I had some questionable ones left over), nor did I love the value on a backup quarterback (which I’ll talk about later). Andrews gets a lot of looks around the goalline with the Ravens, so he’s very TD-dependent; he also can get a case of the dropsies which is frustrating. Nevertheless, he’s a fringe flex guy for me until I can find someone more dependable. When we whipped around to the 10th round, Michael Thomas was still sitting there and I jumped on him.

Michael Thomas is one of the biggest question marks of this year’s fantasy football drafting world: when do you take a chance? He’s injured, he’s unhappy with the Saints, and they have a non-Brees starting quarterback heading into a season for the first time in forever. When will he be healthy enough to play again, and how will he fit into the offense? I’m hoping he’ll be back by October, and I’m hoping he returns to being one of the most dominant players in football. For a 10th round flier? Absolutely! Plus, I can stash him in my IR spot until he plays again. No brainer whatsoever.

By the 11th and 12th rounds, it was time to get a defense and a third quarterback. Somehow, the 49ers’ defense was still there, so I grabbed them. But, waiting until the 12th round meant I had slim pickins for QB. I opted for Zach Wilson, not because I believe in the Jets rookie, but because he seemed to be the best of a bunch of terrible options (including Sam Darnold, Jared Goff, and Jimmy G).

The thing with quarterback for me was: Stafford has a BYE in week 11, and Rodgers has his in week 13. Some of these guys – like Jimmy G – might not have their starting jobs that late into the season! Zach Wilson isn’t going anywhere, unless he gets injured or is supremely inept. If he’s halfway competent, he’ll give me the two games I want out of him. Teddy Bridgewater would’ve been a perfectly fine option, but he has a week 11 BYE as well, so that defeats the purpose. I didn’t have room to keep a fourth QB, nor would I want to if I did. I’d rather have a second defense, if anything, just in case!

The guys who ended up on the free agent scrap heap include Cam Newton, Tyrod Taylor, the aforementioned Jimmy G, Andy Dalton, and, of course, Taysom Hill. Rookies who aren’t even starting yet were drafted ahead of all these guys! It’ll be interesting to see how it all shakes out. I have zero faith whatsoever in Zach Wilson, though. If anyone else even remotely interesting becomes available, I won’t hesitate to waive him.

In the 13th round, D.J. Chark was still available; that’s excellent value, in my book. That meant I missed out on snagging the Patriots’ defense (which I think will be good this year), who was taken with the very next pick, but oh well. With my 14th and final selection, I took a flier on a lottery ticket in Darnell Mooney, wide receiver for the Bears. He has strong sleeper potential in an offense that could be better than we give it credit for. I don’t know if he’ll be long for my roster either, but that’s okay. You can’t make an omelette without scrambling some eggs, or some damn thing.

One thing that leaps out about this team is how razor thin I am in my depth at quarterback and running back. Rodgers and Stafford just can’t get hurt, period, end of discussion. If they go down for any length of time, I’m probably screwed. Similarly, I only have Kamara, Harris, and Henderson. I need to play a minimum of two running backs every week. Thankfully, they all have different BYE weeks, but what are the odds they play every single game? Slim-to-none. So, I’ll have to work my magic on the waiver wire at some point (I have #2 priority after the draft, so I’ll want to use that to my advantage).

I get an extra roster spot with Michael Thomas on IR, so that helps. I have a couple players in mind as we get into the week that I’ll be looking to snag. Then, it’s just the long wait until the regular season starts!

I don’t know how this column is going to look this year, but I imagine it’ll be heavily discussing my Main League. However, I’ll also devote a section in each one to my Splinter League team. It’s too good and interesting to just ignore completely!

I’m also joining a third league – ran by my brother’s friend – but it’s going to be too confusing if I bring a third into the mix, so we’ll let that one go, unless I absolutely get a bug up my ass about it.

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.