Pre-Pre-Season Preview: Seahawks Pass Defense

Aside from digging into the various news stories, I’ve largely neglected talking about the Seahawks by design:  2017 was a bitter pill to swallow.  After such a sustained stretch of brilliance, this team was a slog to cover last year; but, they’ve jettisoned a lot of aging veterans, brought in fresh blood throughout the organization, and I would argue there’s some reasons to be optimistic (even though my default prediction is that this team will win anywhere from 7-9 games; everything would have to go perfectly in our favor to get to 10 wins or more, and when does THAT ever happen?).

So, with precious few weeks remaining until the pre-season games kick things off, I’ve got a quickie series of posts where I’ll look at the 7 areas of this team as they’re set up right now:

Without further ado, let’s talk about the Seahawks’ Pass Defense.

Cornerbacks

Ahh yes, the great unknown.  There are certain groups I’m really excited to see this pre-season:  the running backs, the wide receivers, the offensive line (weirdly enough), and of course the rookie punter; having a lot of new pieces to work with is something to look forward to.  But, as for the cornerbacks, ironically enough I’m just nervous.

Last year, I thought we were pretty solid at cornerback up until Richard Sherman was out for the season (and his Seahawks career, as it turns out).  If I was grading this group before the season, I probably would’ve been in the B+ or A- range.  Obviously, with Sherm, one side is taken care of.  But, we had a lot of questions about the other side, as well as the nickel spot.

This year, Sherm is gone, which is obviously a HUGE blow.  But, Shaquill Griffin looked really good for a rookie, holding his own opposite our Hall of Famer.  Now, Griffin crosses over, inheriting Sherm’s side of the field, but in spite of his promising first year, there are still more questions.  First and foremost:  can he take that next step?  Can he go from a prospect with a lot of potential to a Pro Bowler?  It’s asking too much for him to be Sherm 2.0, but can he approach that sort of greatness?  He had just the 1 INT last year, and he WILL be tested in year two; so can we make other teams pay?  Passes defended are great, but with this defense’s lack of a pass rush, we’re going to need as many turnovers as we can get.  Taking advantage of the league’s overconfidence in throwing on Griffin is our best bet.

Other questions include:  will the switching of sides work against Griffin’s development?  I wouldn’t think so, and the team doesn’t seem too concerned about it, but you never know.  Also, will we run into a worst case scenario situation of a Sophomore Slump?  If this team is ever going to get back to its former glories while we’re still in Russell Wilson’s prime, we’re going to need stars blossoming around him.  Griffin has the potential to be a star; a regression would be utter disaster.

Until I see different, I can only expect this to be a downgrade from Sherm to Griffin.  I think it’s appropriate to move on and get younger, but all the same Griffin is no guarantee.  As such, that also points to a downgrade opposite of Griffin, where Byron Maxwell figures to get first crack at the job.  We got him back on a 1-year prove-it deal, which again is a move I agree with, but he’s clearly lost a step since the last time he was with the Seahawks (before his big money deal with Philly).  Don’t get me wrong, I think Maxwell is fine, but he’s likely not going to be as good as Griffin was last year, and he’s certainly not a long-term solution.

One area where the Seahawks really hit it big was getting Justin Coleman to be the nickel guy.  He was terrific last year and I would expect more of the same this year!

Beyond the core three, we’re bound to see a lot of competition for the final spots.  Dontae Johnson is a 5th year guy out of San Francisco who I’d expect is nothing more than insurance, in the event our younger guys don’t pan out.  Akeem King is in his 3rd year and seems like more of a project who’s getting a final shot to make the NFL.  Neiko Thorpe is back, but the team has always had him pegged as a Special Teams ace.  It feels like Thorpe will actually have to show something on the defensive side of the ball, or else risk getting the ax for salary cap purposes (as we look a lot better up and down our Special Teams roster).  DeAndre Elliott is an interesting name, in his third year with the Seahawks.  He’s been bitten by the injury bug, but he knows the system and has showed a lot of promise in past pre-seasons.  If anyone is going to beat out Byron Maxwell, I think Elliott has a real shot.  Then, we’ve got Mike Tyson, who gets another crack at trying to make the team.  Seems like the biggest longshot.

Then, there’s rookie Tre Flowers, selected in the 5th round.  He’s listed as a safety, but all signs point to him getting a crack at one of the outside corner spots.  He’s got the size, but it’s probably premature to expect him to make an impact right out of the gate.

All in all, this is the toughest position for me to grade.  I think there’s real potential for this group to get up to an A-, but there’s also a very real possibility they fall to a C-.  The scheme and the coaching staff alone probably prevents this group from being total F’s, but it’s tough because we’ve been so spoiled since 2011.  We’ve had A’s in there just about every year, written in pen, before putting in even the slightest amount of thought.  So, my grade is a B-, with the hope that I’m REALLY underestimating these guys.

Safeties

No Kam Chancellor, out injured, never to play again.  No Earl Thomas, holding out on the final year of his deal, not likely to return to the Seahawks ever again (unless we hard-line teams trying to trade for him, in which case I’d expect to see him in Week 11, with his heart certainly not in it).

So, yeah, HUGE downgrade from a season ago!

Bradley McDougald was signed before last year as insurance against injuries, and it turned out to be one of the more insightful moves the team has made in free agency.  He was brought back, and figures to start at Earl’s spot.  I don’t remember a lot about his play last year, but from what I’ve been told he was fine.  I don’t remember any glaring weaknesses, but I also don’t sit there and pour through the game tape with a fine-tooth comb.  He feels like a Replacement Level player, or maybe a little better.  Just an average starting safety; he won’t wow you, but he also won’t look bad very often.

And it gets more dicey from there.

I guess Delano Hill gets his shot – in his second year – to take over for Kam.  I don’t remember him playing at all last year, outside of special teams I guess.  So, really, anything goes here.  He was never going to play significantly as a rookie regardless, because there were 3 guys ahead of him on the depth chart, so maybe he’s secretly great and we just have no idea!  I mean, Kam came out of nowhere in his second year – taking over for Lawyer Milloy – and he was an absolute revelation; maybe we’re in for something similar again this year!

Something tells me to not hold my breath.

Beyond that, Maurice Alexander appears to be our veteran insurance, in his fifth season after playing for the Rams.  He’s just a guy, but he’s almost guaranteed to make the team based on his experience level alone.  Tedric Thompson is obviously someone we all know – taken in the same draft as Hill, in the 4th round – but everything I’ve read has been disappointing.  He definitely doesn’t look like he’s going to be Earl 2.0.  Beyond that:  a whole lotta nothin’.

I’m grading this a D+ and crossing my fingers.  McDougald isn’t a long-term solution, Hill might be okay, but nobody is going to be the next Earl.  That’ll have a ripple effect on the cornerbacks and everyone else in pass defense.

Linebackers

I’ll wrap it up here with another love-fest for the linebackers.  K.J. Wright leads the show here, and he’s remarkable in pass defense.  Bobby Wagner isn’t far behind him, as he’s also excellent in everything he does.  Shaquem Griffin could be a nice little weapon for us, as he’s got speed for days.  I give this group an A.

Overall, while I expect the organization to coach these guys up to respectability, the pass defense isn’t going to be the strength it once was.  With the lack of pass rush, as I talked about before, I would expect a lot of long drives and a lot of third downs converted.

To counter-balance that, my hope is we can generate a lot of turnovers.  I do expect run defense to be our strength on this side of the ball, which leads me to hope that teams try to throw more.  In that scenario, if the Seahawks are going to contend for the playoffs, they’re going to need turnovers.  Lots of interceptions, and lots of luck with recovering fumbles.  Those are IMPOSSIBLE to predict, of course, so to go into a season expecting this would be insane.

Given the crop of quarterbacks we’re scheduled to face this year, I think we can see Shaquill Griffin take the next step, we can see Justin Coleman to continue to be great in the middle, we can have our linebackers do their thing, we can get competent play out of our other cornerback spot, and we can get competent play out of our safeties and I STILL think teams will have little trouble moving the ball against this pass defense.  It’s impossible to cover guys for 8, 9, 10 seconds per play.

We saw the defense as a whole take a little bit of a step back in 2017, as guys got injured and whatnot.  I think most fans are expecting maybe even a little more of a step back – maybe towards the middle of the pack, in the NFL rankings – but I’m here to tell you that I think our pass defense is going to be in the bottom third, or even bottom quarter, of the entire league.  It’s going to be gross.  We’re going to give up A LOT of points, and it’s only going to be those games where the offense is really humming that we’re going to win.  Don’t look for those low-scoring, grind-it-out games where the defense keeps us in it until the offense can get going in the 4th quarter, because we won’t be winning games like that this year!

The plus side about the defense as a whole is there’s more chance for variance.  If I’m right, then we’ll be terrible.  But, if I’m wrong, there’s a chance we could be great.  Maybe not in the top 3, but top third of the league isn’t out of the question.  If we can be as good as we were last year, as far as giving up yards and points, this team has a chance to win 9-10 games.  Failing that, chock 2018 up as a Transition Year.

The Seahawks Need Linebackers!

I don’t use punctuation in my titles often, so you KNOW this is important!

With David Hawthorne signing a long-term deal with the Saints, the Seahawks are – as they say in the business – fucked at linebacker.  K.J. Wright is the only returning starter, and he was a rookie last year.  In fact, all of the linebackers on our roster right now (save special teams standout Heath Farwell) are coming off of rookie seasons.

My Kingdom For An Isaiah Kacyvenski!!!

Of the rookies, Malcolm Smith and Mike Morgan (both USC alums) figure to at least get looks at replacing what we’ve lost this offseason.  I wouldn’t be surprised if they decide to move K.J. Wright to the middle linebacker slot (if memory serves, didn’t he play a game in the middle last season when The Heater was out with injury?).

The most obvious next step for the Seahawks will be through the draft.  Preferably in the middle or late rounds (or, shit, from the ranks of the undrafted).  I think it’s been widely proven of late that teams can get away with linebackers outside the first three rounds of the draft.  Even though Linebacker is a need right now, I don’t want to see this team go and blow its #12 overall draft spot on some guy who won’t be much better than a guy in the 5th round.  I just don’t see this as the type of defense that really needs to over-value the linebacker position.

The other way to go is via Free Agency.  I have a strong feeling the Seahawks will sign at least one veteran type and then bulk up on depth with rookies.  The obvious choice is Leroy Hill; I still say we should bring him back on a 1-year deal.  It’s not like he’s going to do any better elsewhere.  And, as I’ve argued already, he’s an inexpensive alternative who should still be productive in the short term.

If we wanted to look elsewhere, why not someone like Jonathan Goff?  He’s very young, having only played in three seasons for the Giants before missing all of last year with an ACL tear.  Granted, you don’t like anyone coming off of an injury like that, but if the price was right, he could be a diamond in the rough.

People seem to want to tie us to E.J. Henderson, but I’m just not buying it.  As a veteran, it probably wouldn’t take him long to learn the system.  But, really, having watched Pete Carroll and John Schneider thus far, what makes you think they’re going to go out of their way to sign a guy who’s been in the league for a decade?  You can also throw guys like Aaron Maybin and London Fletcher into this mix.  If the Seahawks wouldn’t re-sign Lawyer Milloy – given his productivity in the 2010 season, not to mention his leadership ability – they’re sure as shit not going after some of these aging scraps.

An interesting name, who’s not terribly old, is Brandon Johnson.  He’s played for the Bengals for the last four seasons, and while his numbers aren’t all that impressive, he’s supposed to be stout against the run – something this team preaches in spades.  If the Seahawks do opt for signing a veteran and getting the rest of their linebacking crop through rookies (and if Leroy Hill just HAS to go), then Brandon Johnson might be the safest bet.

What Should The Seahawks Draft? – Defensive End

If the whole “Who’s Our Quarterback” issue wasn’t just beating us all over the head like a sadistic Whack-A-Mole gamer, a lot of people would peg Defensive Line as our number 1 issue of need.

I’m not quite in that boat, as I tend to be encouraged by our run-stopping ability when we have Red Bryant in there.  Plus, you know, Chris Clemons.  PLUS, it’s really fucking hard to develop quality pass rushers for some reason.  Either they’re studs right out of college, or it takes them 5 years before they finally figure out all the tricks of the trade.

See:  Raheem Brock.  Actually, I know next-to-nothing about Raheem Brock; for all I know he’s been mowing down QBs all his life.  BUT, since I know next-to-nothing about him, that probably means he hasn’t done a whole lot with his life.  I read somewhere earlier this off-season that Brock had 9 sacks for us last year.  And that he and Clemons were one of the most dynamic duos at getting to the QB (they combined for 20 sacks).  I’m pretty sure Brock is a free agent, but even still, that seems to be Problem Solved for us.  Just give those two guys another year or two to wreak some motherfucking havoc together and we should be pretty good.  In the short term anyway.

Then, I checked out Brock’s stats.  He REALLY came on towards the end of last year.  He had a sack in each playoff game (which is good).  Though, exactly half of his 9 regular season sacks were against the Rams and the Panthers.  That’s a little deceiving …

I suppose one of the main reasons why the Seahawks should draft a Defensive End is because this year’s draft is so laden with talent at the position (from what I’ve heard from those in the know).  Far be it for me to do all your work for you; you can research those names your damn self.  I guess if the Seahawks see a guy who they feel is a sure thing, it’d be hard to pass that up.  Let’s face it, our jumbo defensive line package is great against the rush, but we’re going to run into some third downs here and there where we need guys to rear back and kill the quarterback.

Bottom line:  it’s more effective to improve your pass rush than it is to improve your secondary coverage.  I mean, Revis is great and all, but he’s pretty much one of a kind.  Most corners are just average, run-of-the-mill football players with bad hands and that’s why they don’t play receiver.  HOWEVER, if you’re able to really ramp up the pass rush, get that quarterback on his heels and throwing before he wants to, you can make even Kelly Jennings into something of a dominant force.

And, even if we DO re-sign Brock, there’s still a little matter of depth.  Take a wild fucking guess at who had the most sacks after Clemons and Brock.  Was it the aforementioned Red Bryant?  Heavens no, he had but 1!  Was it Lofa or Mebane?  Sorry, they also had 1 apiece.  Was it our 4th overall pick in 2009, Aaron Curry?  You’re getting warmer, but I’m sorry, he only topped out at 3.5.

Actually, it was Lawyer Milloy, who I believe is the oldest player on our team (and might be older than a good chunk of our coaching staff).  He had 4 on those surprisingly effective safety blitzes we worked into our game plans early in the season.

So, yeah, depth is probably an issue we should deal with.  You know how I feel about what we should do with our First Round draft pick, but if there aren’t any quality O-linemen around, and there IS a quality D-lineman … I’d be hard-pressed to be outraged.

A List Of Current Seahawks Facing Free Agency

We’ve got a lot of decisions to make this year, much like we did last year.  The disadvantage is, of course, the impending lockout (which I’m not going to get into, because what’s the point?  Yeah, I hate the idea of a lockout as I assume every other fan does too; bitching about it will accomplish nothing.  Football WILL be played again eventually, and when it is, you will watch).  The ADvantage, however, is that this coaching staff (or what’s left) and this management has had a year to analyze the players who will potentially be on their way out.  Here’s what I perceive to be the official list, with my thoughts on whether or not we should keep them.

By the by, I’m getting my info from this website.  Took me a while to track down something so simple, so credit where credit is due.  It’s worth a glance as it is a list of EVERY ALMOST EVERY Seahawks player and when they’re up for free agency.

1.  Matt Hasselbeck – I don’t know if I’m on record or not, but I’ll say it again:  I want Matt Hasselbeck back next year.  I WANT him to retire as a Seahawk, but at the very least I want him for a couple more years.  Of course, I also want us to draft someone in this upcoming draft, so he can work behind Hasselbeck, but for now Matt gives us the best chance to repeat as NFC West champs in 2011.  Final Answer:  2-year extension.

2.  Leon Washington – The dude is in his prime, 28 years of age, and he’s one of the best return men in the game.  Of COURSE I want him back.  I’d give him a 2-3 year extension if I had it my way.  Unless he hits the market and gets blown away with an offer.  I love what the guy brings, but let’s get serious, blowing a bunch of money on a running back you never use AS a running back is a bit much.  Final Answer:  2-3 year extension, if the price is right.

3.  Sean Locklear – Let him go.  He’s a bum and will be due for raises he’s not worth.  Final Answer:  No way; there are other fish in the sea.

4.  Ray Willis – If he can come back healthy, I’d like to get him on the cheap.  A bulldog with size, and at the very least can bring some depth.  Final Answer:  Yes, if healthy.

5.  Tyler Polumbus – Another solid depth guy; he’s young and cheap.  Final Answer:  Yes.

6.  Ben Hamilton & Mansfield Wrotto – I was under the impression that we’d already traded Wrotto away.  And Hamilton, I’m pretty sure, is retiring.  Final Answer:  N/A.

7.  Chris Spencer – I liken centers to defensive ends and quarterbacks:  they generally get better with age and experience.  You rarely see any of those three positions come out of college lighting the world on fire (unlike running backs, linebackers, some offensive tackles and safeties, who tend to rely on their explosive raw talent immediately).  I don’t think Spencer will ever be a Pro Bowler, but I think he can still be a solid center in this league for another 5-8 years if his body holds up.  I think he kinda gets lumped in with the shitstorm that was the 2009 Seahawks offensive line, and I think that’s unfair.  Put some talent around him, and I think Spencer is a guy worth keeping around.  He’s coming into his own now, I’d like to see where that’ll take him going forward.  Final Answer:  Yes, sign to a long-term extension.

8.  Brandon Mebane – This is EASILY the number 1 guy we have to re-sign in whatever free agency period we have this year.  If defensive tackle wasn’t so injury-prone as a position (regardless of the player), I would say we’re stupid for not inking him to a long-term deal BEFORE the offseason.  As it stands, it will weaken our already weak defensive line CONSIDERABLY if we don’t wrap this up.  He’s a run-stuffing machine who can cause a little havoc from time to time; exactly what you want with a D-line that plays 3 tackles with a Leo end as the primary pass rusher.  Final Answer:  Hell Yes!  Long-Term Deal!

9.  LeRoy Hill – We made it through this year without Hill, we specifically voided the remaining years on his deal to GET him to free agency this year, so no, I don’t think we’ll be re-signing LeRoy Hill.  Should we?  That’s up for debate.  His hitting ability is there.  If we got him cheap enough, I’d say that wouldn’t be the worst thing.  But, look, we’ve got Hawthorne entrenched at our other outside linebacker position.  We’ve got cheap, young linebacker depth kicking ass on our special teams.  We don’t NEED LeRoy Hill.  If he came back, he’d have to earn his way onto this team and likely wouldn’t be starting unless someone got injured or we started playing 4 linebacker sets.  With Tatupu’s injury history, it might not be the worst thing in the world.  We can slide Hawthorne into the middle and Hill could reclaim his old position.  Final Answer:  If he’s cheap enough, yes; but I doubt this will even be an issue.

10.  Kelly Jennings – HELL NO!  I’ve been counting the fucking days until this waste of space is out of my life.  He’s too small, he’s too slow, he’s never in a position to make a play, and it forces the safeties to help out on his side too many times, making Marcus Trufant’s life a living hell.  We need to dump the zero and sign a true lockdown corner (ahem, Nnamdi Asomugha), so the safeties can return to helping out Trufant and we can start kicking some tail on the defensive end.  Final Answer:  Are you shitting me?

11.  Lawyer Milloy – This one is about as 50/50 as it gets for me.  He won’t be expensive, he’s a natural leader and a great mentor for Earl Thomas, he knows the system inside and out, he’s a Dawg, and if we don’t re-sign him it’s unlikely he’ll go somewhere else and burn us.  On the downside, he’s pushing 40 (which means he might as well be pushing 70 in football years).  He has a tendency to over-play the run and get beat deep.  We should probably be looking towards the future at this position too.  Final Answer:  1-year extension, draft a safety that he can tutor, and that will be that.

12.  Olindo Mare – Do we dare franchise our kicker two years in a row?  Final Answer:  Hell yes we do!  Franchise the hell out of him until he stops making field goals and then cut him to the dogs!

Interesting fact of note:  Our top receivers and tight ends are signed through at least next season (can’t find word on Stokley though; I’d like to get him back if he wants back).  However, with Deon Butler’s massacre at the end of the season, we’ll likely be looking for more talent in the pass-catching department.

I know for a fact that there are others Seahawks free agents (reserves, special teamers), but I think that’s as good a rundown as we’re going to get.  The only guy who will kill me if he isn’t retained is Mebane.  The only guy who will kill me if he IS retained is Jennings.  Obviously, keeping the team the same is no way to improve (after all, we DID only win 7 games last year; and no way we blame that all on injuries), so I don’t expect all the guys I want back to BE back.  But I think my argument speaks for itself.

And We’re Done

Shitty game that was over in the first quarter.  Give up too many big plays on defense, don’t capitalize on interception opportunities, have a bunch of crucial drops on offense, a bunch of players get hurt by basically doing nothing more than falling to the ground wrong … this was every other loss the Seahawks suffered this year.  Only this time the Bears’ prevent defense let us get within 2 touchdowns at the end.

Gamblers who took the Seahawks and the points must’ve been PISSED that we didn’t go for two on that last touchdown.  JUST missed covering that 10.5 point spread.

I’ll save the Grand Overview for another day.  As well as the ramifications of getting this far only to get embarrassed on national television.  Right now, it’s about the game.

Losing to the fucking Bears.  Again.  For starters, the Bears suck and they’re GOING to get their shit kicked in next week when the Packers destroy them.  So, don’t get too comfortable Bears fans.  Jackasses.

Secondly, it’s just incredible how much holding the refs were allowing.  This game was worse than two lumbering heavyweight prize-fighters in the 7th round.  Unbelievable.  You know, there’s this penalty they have – you might have heard of it – it’s called “Illegal Contact”.  It means you can’t touch our fucking receiver after 5 yards.  YOU MIGHT WANT TO LOOK INTO IT, DOUCHEBAG NFL REFEREES!

Third, Devin Hester is overrated.  Let every other team’s Special Teams unit hold and block in the back like that and I guarantee returners would be breaking career records left and right.

This game was just awful, as I said earlier, like every other loss we’ve had this year.  Pretend you’re in a cabin on a snowy mountain.  And let’s say there’s this avalanche that covers your cabin entirely; the only hope you have for being rescued is to dig your way through the snow.  You jimmy the door open and grab whatever tool you can find, and you start digging a snow tunnel outward and upward.  Except the avalanche tremors keep striking, causing your tunnel to collapse and forcing you back down into the cabin to start over again.

THAT’S what this game was.  The initial avalanche was that first quarter.  Triggered by a long bomb to a tight end who made Lawyer Milloy look rediculous.  Then a drop by Stokley when he lost his footing.  Then Big Play Babs mis-playing one ball that could’ve been picked off and returned, followed by Big Play Babs flat out dropping another potential interception at the goalline before the Bears ran it in with Chester Taylor.  Down 14-0, it was dig-out time, and we weren’t doing ourselves any favors.

Maybe, I dunno, DON’T RUN RIGHT UP THE MIDDLE EVERY TIME YOU TRY TO RUN!  What worked on the very first play of the game?  A counter, where the linemen go one way and the runner goes another.  Got us 9 yards before we completed our first of many 3 & Outs.  What did we never do again the rest of the game?  A counter, where the linemen go one way and the runner goes another.

This game just stunk.  The Bears were who we thought they were in the second half, for the most part.  Held them to two touchdowns, but that was WAY after I stopped paying attention.  I didn’t even have a problem one little bit when Pete Carroll kicked the field goal down 28-0, even though that’s a rediculous concept.  Who does that, if not losers?

Well, we were losers yesterday, just like we were losers all year.  And now we get the 25th pick in the draft for our troubles.  You know how we desperately need cornerback help, among many other positions?  Yeah, that’s JUST about where we drafted our last big first-round cornerback bust.  I’m optimistic for the future.

The Seahawks Lose & Everybody Yawns

After two drives (a 3 & Out and a Touchdown), the Seahawks had gained 62 yards and had a 7-0 lead.

The rest of the game, the Seahawks had 112 yards and were subsequently outscored 38-8.  Charlie Whitehurst, everybody!

I don’t know who to blame more.  To be quite honest, I was pleasantly surprised to see Hasselbeck pull up lame with an injury at the end of his touchdown run.  I figured, “Hey, this can’t be that bad!  They’re probably pulling a fast one over on us to make it look like Matt’s injured, when in reality they’re just trying to protect him until next week because this game is meaningless.”  Even reports after the game were suspect, with people calling it a hip injury you never see.  That having been said, the fact that he’s also not going to practice is pretty depressing.

Why is it that every time Matt Hasselbeck tries to advance past the line of scrimmage he gets weirdly, devastatingly injured?  I’ve always kind of defended Hasselbeck to friends who say he’s soft, or that he’s just an injury waiting to happen … but doesn’t this just kind of take the cake?  Nagging injury that’s been with him all year or not, the play that might end his season is a 1-yard touchdown run where he wasn’t touched and didn’t have to dive or otherwise violently throw his body toward the goalline.

Of course, things didn’t get much better for the team after that.  Charlie Whitehurst came away with a quarterback rating of close to 70, which might lead you to believe he wasn’t completely horrid.  Then you take a look at the rest of the line (11 for 18, 66 yards, 3.67 yards per attempt, 6 yards per completion) and you quickly see the only reason his QB rating wasn’t -12 is because he didn’t chuck a bunch of interceptions around.

BUT, that having been said, was he ineffective because he sucks, or because they were dumbing down the playbook for him?  I don’t know if I ever saw him throw a ball that wasn’t toward the sideline, along the line of scrimmage (the fact that a number of those balls weren’t anywhere near a receiver doesn’t really help his cause).  MAYBE, if we actually took a shot – oh, I don’t know – more than 8 yards downfield, they wouldn’t have put 22 guys in the box to defend our run and short passing game!

And we DID run the ball!  The team ran for 38 of our 90 yards on the ground when Hasselbeck was in the game.  We just had no hope once Charlie was given the keys to this clunker.  The high point of my esteem for Charlie Whitehurst was when I bet someone a dollar that he could convert a 2-point conversion after a meaningless touchdown in the 4th quarter and he did it.  It’s all downhill from here, Football Jesus.  When your total worth to me is four quarters and some fantasy help (my championship opponent had Mike Williams on his team; who only caught 2 balls for 15 yards, both from Hasselbeck), you are not a very good quarterback.

However, this was a team effort.  Charlie Whitehurst didn’t give up 38 points.  Granted, he didn’t contribute to keeping the other team’s offense off the field, but he wasn’t out there missing tackles (Lawyer Milloy).  He wasn’t out there playing the softest coverage known to man, letting guys have 15 yards of cushion off the line of scrimmage (Marcus Trufant).  He wasn’t out there being a 3’5 midget (Kelly Jennings).

The Seahawks lost by 23.  Another double-digit defeat.  And all I got was this lousy chance to play for the NFC West championship next Sunday night (I hope we get to raise a banner for a 7-9 team)

Player Profile: Josh Wilson

Will we have a surprise Pro Bowler in cornerback Josh Wilson?

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Now look, I’m not here betting my damn farm on whether Josh Wilson is going to make the Pro Bowl or not.  The guy isn’t even officially the starting cornerback opposite Marcus Trufant yet for Christ’s sake!

But, I’ll tell you what, now is the time for crazy predictions, and here’s one for your eyes and ears:  Josh Wilson will be in the Pro Bowl at season’s end.  I just have a feeling about the guy, don’t ask me why.  I know for damned sure that Kelly Jennings won’t be the everyday starting corner once the regular season begins; I can tell you that much right now.

“Be that as it may,” you may be saying, “but how can you make that kind of outlandish statement when a guy – who’s only 5-foot-9, I might add – has only caught 6 interceptions in 3 years?”

Look, I didn’t say it was logical.  I didn’t say it was based on any empirical evidence.  But, shit man, lots of crazy stuff happens in an NFL season.  Teams go from Worst to First.  Players, from out of nowhere, go on to have career years.  And I’m telling you right now I think Josh Wilson is poised to have a career year!

Let’s break it down, though.  This is his 4th season.  If anyone is going to be anything in the NFL, it’s going to happen in his 4th year.  You’ve gone through the rookie growing pains, you’ve made strides in your next couple of years; now you’re a veteran.  You’ve pretty much seen it all.

And let’s not forget Wilson’s tools:  he’s fast, he’s a leaper, he’s got an eye for the football, and he’s got plenty of moves once he’s got his hands ON that football.  He’s hard-nosed, and he’s been doubted his entire life.  Factor in Trufant’s improved play on the other side, and you gotta figure other teams are going to challenge Wilson more.  With more challenges comes more opportunities to make plays.

Josh Wilson is going to be a key factor in our pass defense this year.  With Earl Thomas being a rookie, with Lawyer Milloy helping out on the run and vs. tight ends, Wilson is probably going to have to make some plays on his own.  He’s probably going to have to be in the right place at the right time when balls are tipped high in the air.  He’s probably going to have to return a couple of these INTs for TDs.

But hear me well!  Josh Wilson: Pro Bowl Cornerback.  Bank on it.