Seattle Seahawks 2018 Preview Part 2: The Bad Stuff

Yesterday, we took a look at the bright side of this season.  If everything breaks right, what COULD happen, including a possible division title and beyond.  Today, we’re going hard negative.

If you played this season 100 times, probably 90 of them will be about the same:  the Seahawks will finish somewhere between 7-9 and 9-7.  The ceiling, while remote, is a division-winning playoff team (likely requiring the Rams to fall apart completely).  The floor, while also remote, is an 0-16 team pushing for that #1 draft pick in 2019.  How does that happen?  Well, if Russell Wilson has a season-ending injury in the first game of the year, then I’m sorry, but it’s Tank City.  While I don’t expect him to get injured, I’m not completely ruling it out.  Make no mistake, this year – as well as the foreseeable future – it’s going to be all about Mr. Wilson.  We go where he takes us.

A couple teams come to mind as comparable to the Seahawks.  For the purposes of this argument, throw out the New England Patriots.  Our coaching staff isn’t on par and Russell Wilson isn’t Tom Brady.  Not yet, anyway.  No, for this exercise, I’m thinking about the Green Bay Packers and the New Orleans Saints.

See, most years (in the Aaron Rodgers regime), the Packers boil down to an elite QB, some nice skill guys on offense, and a bunch of trash on defense.  Ditto the Saints under Drew Brees.  You could argue the Saints’ defense has been much more maligned, but I’ve seen more than my fair share of terrible Packers defenses.  And yet, the Packers are always seen as a potential division winner, solely because they have Aaron Rodgers at the helm; yet, the Saints more often than not are seen as a .500-ish ballclub, only being held afloat by the will of Brees.

So, where do these Seahawks fall?  One could make the argument that right now, Russell Wilson is as good as Aaron Rodgers.  He’s certainly just as important to the success of this team as A-Rod is to his.  Yet, me and most everyone else feels this team more closely resembles those mediocre Saints teams we’ve seen for much of the last decade.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t see a whole helluva lot of difference between Brees, Rodgers, and Wilson, so what gives?

Well, for starters, I think this defense is a lot closer to the bottom of the NFL than it is to the top.  I see a defense without a pass rush.  I see a defense that can’t force any turnovers out of its secondary.  I see a defense that’s just sort of okay at stopping the run.  And, I see a defense that’s tissue paper-thin.  If we start losing too many starters, there will be a tipping point, and we’ll be talking about the 32nd ranked unit in the NFL before too long.

So much has to go right just for this defense to be middle-of-the-road!  If we just talk about health, we’re already talking about a team with an injured K.J. Wright who’s missing at least Week 1, if not more.  Also, not for nothing, but when he was out there this pre-season, Wright wasn’t looking like his usual self; has he started the downside of his career?  There’s Dion Jordan, who’s supposed to be one of our main pass rushing ends; he missed the entire pre-season, has a lot of degenerative issues, and probably shouldn’t be counted on to finish more than 6-8 games this year (forget starts; anyone can start a game and go out after one series; I want to know how many games this guy can FINISH).  Even if Jordan is healthy, do we know if he’s actually good?  Sure, he looks the part, but looks don’t pressure opposing QBs.  Our other main rush end is Frank Clark; are we sure HE’S good?  He’s looked pretty good so far in his career, like a guy about to earn a big contract extension.  But, is he WORTH that kind of money?  Or, is he just going to get that money regardless of whether or not he takes another step in his development?  My main question with Clark is:  does he even WANT to be great?

It seems to me like this entire defense is being held together by Bobby Wagner and duct tape.  While he’s one of the best middle linebackers in the league, he can’t do literally everything.  It might be different if we had one more year of Earl Thomas in his prime, but that ain’t happening.  We’ve seen countless times how this team looks without Earl and Kam in the defensive backfield; now we start an entire era of football without those guys!  It’s not going to be pretty!

I’m curious to see the impact of potentially having Earl Thomas back for one more year.  He’s certainly a game-changer for this secondary, as the significant improvement of ET over TT could be a 2-3 game improvement in overall wins.  But, will his heart be in it?  Will the team still find a way to trade him midway through the season?  And, maybe most importantly, will he be able to stay healthy?  Without a training camp or a pre-season, how many times have we seen guys return from holdouts only to immediately twist an ankle or tweak a hammy or something?  I’ll believe he’s The Real Earl Thomas when I see it.

We’re all hanging our hats on Pete Carroll being a defensive-minded football coach whose specialty is the secondary, while we clap our hands and blindly say into the shadows, “We’ll be fine.”  But, will we?  Why?  Because Shaquill Griffin looked better than expected as a rookie?  How many career interceptions does he have?  One.  He has one.  Sure, he’s a fine cover corner, but he can’t cover literally everyone, and he’s not what anyone would call a “lockdown” corner, so he’s going to give up a good number of catches and yards.  He feels a lot closer to Marcus Trufant than Richard Sherman, and that’s a problem, because he’s supposed to be far and away the best corner on this team, which means the drop-off is significant.  Justin Coleman, almost certainly, is the actual best cornerback on this roster, and he’ll do well in his role covering slot receivers, but those guys don’t play every single down.  We have some schlub playing opposite Griffin who will almost certainly be the bane of our existence as early as the very first game of the season.

I think the defense is going to be very, very bad.  What’s worse, I’m afraid we won’t see the type of improvement over the course of this season to give us any hope for the future.  The L.O.B. is dead.  And it’s never coming back.

As I wrote about yesterday, the season hinges on the offense, and the offense hinges on Russell Wilson, so getting back to my point at the top, can he single-handedly carry this beached whale of a team into the playoffs?

I’m gonna guess probably not.  I do think he’s closer to Drew Brees than Aaron Rodgers (as I think this defense is closer to the very worst Saints defenses than it is to the Packers).  I also think the challenges presented within our division, within our conference, and with the schedule we’ve been saddled with, all conspire against us doing a damn thing in 2018.

The Rams are flat out better than the Seahawks, end of story.  You can question their long-term viability.  You can look at all the superstars they acquired the past couple seasons and think an implosion is on the horizon.  Indeed, even if the chemistry is top notch, they won’t be able to pay everyone forever, so EVENTUALLY things will break apart.  But, not in 2018.  In 2018, they’re going to be one of the 2 or 3 best teams in the entire NFL (hell, maybe THE best team).  Barring a multitude of injuries to the Rams, there’s no way we beat them in either game we play against them.

The 49ers are at least as good as the Seahawks, with a MUCH higher upside in the near future.  The 49ers could be a playoff team as early as THIS year, if Jimmy G continues to shred defenses like he did last year.  I have my doubts; I’m not nearly as high on them as some people – who have them as their dark horse darlings – but they’ll still be tough.  I can’t guarantee 2 wins against them; I can’t even guarantee 1!

Then, there’s the Cards.  They seem like they’ll be pretty bad.  But, that’s no guarantee that they’ll necessarily be bad against the Seahawks!  Sam Bradford is usually pretty careful with the ball; as long as he’s healthy, that’s a viable offense that should have zero trouble moving the ball against our defense.  And, they have just enough veterans on the defensive side of the ball to get stops and make our lives miserable.  The Seahawks probably SHOULD beat the Cardinals twice, but would it shock you to see us slip in either of these games?  Shit, at our very best, we still managed to lose to Jeff Fisher’s Rams more times than I care to count!

We catch the Broncos on the road; they have savvy vets all over the place.  We catch the Bears on a potential upswing (their defense looks like it could give us fits in week 2).  We play the Cowboys with their awesome rushing attack.  We have to go all the way to London for some stupid reason; who knows how that Raiders game turns out?  We go to Detroit who has an offense that should shred us no problem.  We host the Chargers, whose quarterback ALWAYS shreds even the very best versions of our defense.  We host the Packers on a short week, they’re expected to compete for a Super Bowl.  We go to Carolina, that feels like a demoralizing loss waiting to happen.  We host the Vikings on Monday night; they’re also expected to compete for a Super Bowl.  And, we host the Chiefs, who are always good and solidly coached under Andy Reid.

I’ve spent the entirety of this pre-season being pretty impressed by our starting units on both sides of the ball.  I think both our offense and defense have looked better than I anticipated (while our depth is non-existent).  My thought process all along has been that maybe the Seahawks can hang around, but once injuries mount, we’ll be toast.  But, the more I look at the schedule, at the crop of QBs we have to go up against, and everything else, I can present an easy argument on why the Seahawks might lose each and every one of those games!  Yet, the only argument in our favor is Russell Wilson.  Russell Is Magic, but he’s not THAT much magic!

I’m still of the belief that the O-Line will be much better than people think, but they’re still not going to be perfect.  They’re probably not even going to rank in the top 10!  When compared to past Seahawks O-Lines under Tom Cable, they’ll look like world-beaters, but that’s not saying much.  The point is, they should open up some holes to run through, and they should give Russell Wilson plenty of time to throw.

But, do we trust Wilson to always do the right thing?

I believe the Seahawks will be behind in a lot of games.  That’s going to put more of the burden on Wilson to pull our asses out of the fire.  He’s pretty great, but he still makes a good number of mistakes, trying to prolong plays, keep drives alive.  He’s always looking down field for the big play, and as a result misses a lot of positive plays around the line of scrimmage.  He takes too many sacks, and he puts a lot of balls in harm’s way.  I mean, we saw the Seahawks behind in a lot of games back when the defense was good; why was that?  A lot of times because Wilson turned the ball over or otherwise couldn’t get the fucking offense moving in the first quarter.  How much of that was on the O-Line vs. on Wilson himself?

Well, I guess we’ll find out this year.  Because the O-Line WILL be better.  And, when it is, if we still find Wilson making similar mistakes, then we have to admit that he’s not the be-all, end-all.  He’s good enough to take even the worst teams to an 8-8 record, but he’s not good enough to single-handedly get us into the playoffs.  He’s like almost every other quarterback in the league (particularly every other quarterback who doesn’t spend his entire career in the AFC Least); he needs help.  And the Seahawks don’t have enough help around him to get this team to where it wants to go.

The Seahawks won’t make the playoffs this year.  I know I predicted the Seahawks to go 9-7 in my season picks, but if I were you I’d bet the family farm on under 9 wins.  I’d even be inclined to take under 8 wins.

My Top 25 All Time Favorite Seattle Seahawks

With Beastmode’s retirement this week, I thought I’d take stock and reflect upon where he lands among my all time favorite Seattle Seahawks.  While he’s my favorite over the last quarter century, he comes up just short of my all time fave.

I should probably point out that my knowledge of the Seahawks prior to the 1990s is pretty limited (I was born in 1981).  As such, you won’t find many of the old-timers.  Indeed, only 5 of my 25 played prior to 1990, and none of those five are named Dave Krieg, Jim Zorn, or Curt Warner.  Zorn was a guy I never saw play, Warner was always hurt when I started watching football, and the years I watched Dave Krieg were those loser years where he heavily contributed to his standing as one of the most fumble-prone quarterbacks in NFL history.  If I never again see Dave Krieg raise his arm back to pass, only to watch in horror as the ball gets flung backwards thanks to his criminally under-sized hands, it’ll be too soon.

Among the actual Honorable Mentions are the following:

Ricky Watters – a guy who reminds me a lot of Beastmode, but unfortunately didn’t play with us quite long enough to merit breaking through; Chris Warren – very underrated back, who unfortunately was saddled by a lot of mediocre Seahawks teams; Eugene Robinson – solid safety for some solid defenses; Michael Sinclair – second on Seattle’s all-time sacks list; Cliff Avril – who could potentially climb into the Top 25 one day, if he continues to produce the way he has; Red Bryant – mostly a fan favorite type, who I was happy to see find a role in the early Pete Carroll years; Robbie Tobeck – helped solidify the greatest offensive line in team history during the Holmgren years; Steve Hutchinson – who gets a bad rap even though it was Tim Ruskell who dicked him over first; Rocky Bernard – an underrated interior defensive lineman who this team would kill to have right now; Sam Adams – someone who blossomed after he left the Seahawks (and someone who I randomly have a signed jersey from); Bobby Engram – who was Doug Baldwin before Doug Baldwin; Chad Brown – who gets overlooked a little bit because he came from the Steelers, but still played quality football for his Seahawks tenure; Rufus Porter – a speed rusher off the edge and another fan favorite type; Zach Miller – who I’ll always respect for his toughness even though he got injured a lot; and Joe Nash – who would be my #26 if this list went that long, because he was an awesome nose tackle for this team who played here FOREVER.

Anyway, without further ado, My Top 25 All Time Favorite Seattle Seahawks:

1.  Steve Largent – He was this team’s first Hall of Famer, and when he retired, he had most – if not all – of the wide receiver records before they were broken.  When I started getting into football in the late 80s, there was every reason to be a fan of some other team in some other city, as those Seahawks teams were okay, but nothing special.  The 49ers had Joe Montana and Jerry Rice, the Raiders (who were a particular favorite among my elementary school classmates) had Bo Jackson (’nuff said), the Redskins, Oilers, Dolphins, and Bengals were all loaded with talent.  I don’t totally remember my thinking on this one, but I’m certainly convinced now that I would never have become a Seahawks fan if it weren’t for Steve Largent.  I mean, yeah, they’re the local team, so it’s easy to say I’d just stick with that as the reason, but throughout the 1990s, I used to mock this team relentlessly, and would frequently bet my family members that the Seahawks would lose (and won quite a bit of cash in the process, for a kid in the 1990s anyway).  But, I could always hang my hat that at one point, Steve Largent played for the Seahawks and was the best player at his position.  Also, didn’t hurt that I got to meet him at an autograph signing at the Tacoma Mall.  It was many hours of waiting in line, but it was worth it.

2.  Marshawn Lynch – Unlike many of the guys on this list, who were either career Seahawks, or played many more years here, Lynch became a favorite of mine in a little over 5 and a half seasons.  His bruising style of play, all the highlight runs, and his abilities as a receiver and blocker make him not only the most complete running back in franchise history, but one of the very best overall players we’ve ever seen in a Seahawks uniform, including the other Hall of Famers coming up next on this list.

3.  Cortez Kennedy – It’s hard to pick one over the other when it comes to Tez and Big Walt; both are consummate bad asses.  While you could make the argument that Walter Jones was the best player at his position in NFL history (which I do), I don’t think I’d necessarily put Cortez Kennedy as the best defensive tackle in NFL history (though, to be fair, I haven’t tried ranking them all, so who knows?).  What I will say is that what won me over in Tez’s favor is his Defensive Player of the Year Award in 1992.  First of all, it’s hard as fuck for a DT to win that award (there have only been two other players since 1992 at that position to win that award – Dana Stubblefield & Warren Sapp).  Secondly, no player at any position has ever won the award while playing on a shittier team (the Seahawks were 2-14 that year).  But, such is the fierce brutality that was Cortez Kennedy (who ranks 4th all time in franchise history for sacks); he finished that season with 14 sacks, 4 forced fumbles, and a whopping 92 tackles.  Let me repeat:  92 tackles!!!  There are linebackers who don’t get that many tackles, and here we are, looking at a DT who got 92 tackles.  Just insane!  To compare, Stubblefield in 1997 had 15 sacks, 3 forced fumbles, and only 48 tackles; Sapp in 1999 had 12.5 sacks, 4 forced fumbles, and only 27 tackles (that wasn’t even Sapp’s best season, but regardless, he never surpassed 50 tackles in a season, so that point is moot).  Tez frequently battled double- and triple-teams throughout his career, and was still a God damn hurricane to deal with in the middle.  It’s just too bad he couldn’t be rewarded with more playoff appearances.

4.  Walter Jones – If you went pound for pound, you’re probably talking about the very best player the Seahawks have ever had.  With Bad-Assery being a theme, they don’t get much more bad-ass than this guy.  He was repeatedly franchise tagged, repeatedly held out in training camp and in the pre-season, then showed up right before the regular season started not only in tremendous shape, but ready to start from Game 1.  Then, when you tack on his training regimen of him pulling Cadillacs to get ready for the season, and I think I need to go lie down for a while because I just got winded writing that statement.

5.  Matt Hasselbeck – This is probably where things start to get a little more fluid.  In five years, I would anticipate someone like Russell Wilson will have surpassed someone like Matt Hasselbeck.  Indeed, many fans might disagree with me, but I gotta admit I’m still a pretty big Hasselbeck fan.  He led this team to its first Super Bowl appearance, which is always going to be huge, even if the result isn’t what we wanted.  Where his talent may be lacking compared to a guy like Wilson, his personality and charm in the media more than makes up for it.  It’s always WAY more entertaining to hear a Hasselbeck interview than a Wilson interview.  I know, that means little compared to on-field accomplishments, and as I mentioned above, Wilson will probably pass him in a few short years.  But, for now, I hold Hasselbeck in higher esteem.

6.  Richard Sherman – This future Hall of Famer has nowhere to go but up on this list.  Pretty unlikely leader in the clubhouse of Legion of Boom participants, but Sherm has been the most consistently elite through the 2015 season.

7.  Shaun Alexander – He gets a bad rap for not being Marshawn Lynch, but I think a lot of fans forget just how great he really was.  If he didn’t start breaking down towards the end, he was well on his way towards getting into the Hall of Fame.  As it stands, he was one of the best two or three running backs in the NFL for a good five-year period.  He should be a shoo-in for the Ring of Honor, if the Seahawks ever get around to putting more people in there.

8.  Brandon Mebane – Love this dude.  He won’t be a Hall of Famer, he won’t have his number retired, he might not even make the Ring of Honor when it’s all said and done.  But, he was one of the better Tim Ruskell draft picks.  As a third rounder, he got on the field right away and has been a staple for this defensive line ever since.  Nine years in, he looks as good as ever, and I hope the team retains him so he can retire as a Seahawk.

9.  Kenny Easley – He’s the only player on this list who I don’t really remember watching play live.  So, I’m really basing his ranking on highlights and on testimonials from players around the league who talk about this guy with some of the highest reverence I’ve ever seen.  If his career wasn’t shortened by kidney disease, he’d be in the Hall of Fame right now.  Compared to Ronnie Lott, he’s the only other Seahawk to win the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year award, in 1984, when he had 10 interceptions (2 returned for touchdown).  As it stands, he’s a Ring of Honor guy, and the best safety in franchise history (eventually to be surpassed by the next guy on this list).

10.  Earl Thomas – He’s our Ed Reed.  Our Troy Polamalu.  Our All Pro Machine striving to be the best this game has ever seen.  The only thing that could cut him short on his quest is if he succumbs to injuries.  His dedication to the game and being the best puts him in my Top 10.

11.  Russell Wilson – Seems criminally low, I know.  I don’t think it’ll be too much longer before he’s in my Top 10.  Maybe even one more season.  The way he’s playing right now, and with Lynch’s retirement, this will be HIS offense.  If he manages to carry this team to unknown levels of awesomeness, I think he’s destined to skyrocket up my list.

12.  Jacob Green – He was an absolute monster throughout the 80s, racking up the most sacks in franchise history with 97.5 (and that doesn’t even include his first two seasons, when the NFL didn’t record sacks as an official stat).  Certainly one of the more underrated defensive ends of the 80s.

13.  Joey Galloway – Probably another controversial pick – especially this high in the rankings – but I don’t care.  He only really played 4 seasons for the Seahawks before holding out for 8 games in his fifth year before forcing Holmgren’s hand, but those four years were outstanding!  He was an elite return man from the get-go, and a big play machine on offense as well.  If we only could have paired him with a competent quarterback (he was saddled with Rick Mirer, John Friesz, and Jon Kitna before we were able to get Warren Moon in here for a couple of injury-plagued years towards the end of his career) he might have been even better, for as crazy as that sounds.  Still, even the way he left things wasn’t so bad, as we ended up getting two first round draft picks (one of which we used to nab Shaun Alexander, with the other being traded for multiple picks so we could get Koren Robinson, Heath Evans, and some backup offensive lineman I’ve never heard of).

14.  Doug Baldwin – Another player whose ranking could go way up on my list if we manage to keep him on the team beyond his current contract.  He’s proven to be a clutch possession receiver, as well as a guy capable of making bigger plays downfield, and as of 2015, a touchdown monster.  To think an undrafted receiver who has started since his rookie year could still be getting better in his fifth season is pretty amazing.  I want to see the Wilson to Baldwin connection continue for at least the next half decade, if not longer.

15.  Golden Tate – Maybe another controversial pick, but I like who I like, and I like me some Golden Tate.  I kind of dismissed him when he left for Detroit, as we still had Percy Harvin, after all.  But, when Harvin proved to be a huge chump, I’ve longed for Tate’s big play ability ever since.  His loss is now mitigated by the drafting of Tyler Lockett, but there’s still a lot to like about a guy like Tate who was another outsize personality on a team full of ’em.  A guy who got under the skin of opposing defenders (like the fucking Rams, for instance).  And a guy who played bigger than his size.  Not extending him, in favor of bringing in Harvin, is a move this team continues to regret.

16.  Brian Blades – The wide receiver parade marches on, with Blades, who played significant minutes for a rookie under Chuck Knox, and who eventually went on to replace a legend in Steve Largent as this team’s #1.  He was never super flashy, and only made one Pro Bowl in his career, but he’s this team’s second-leading career pass catcher.  He has the team’s second-most receiving yards, and is fifth in touchdowns.

17.  K.J. Wright – He cracks this in large part due to recency bias.  He’s been here for five years, has played all three linebacker spots, has only missed a small handful of games, and should be in the Top 10 in franchise history in tackles by this time next year.  I love his smarts, his professionalism, his toughness, and the fact that on a defense full of superstars, he just quietly goes about his business of being consistently great.  He’s never been to a Pro Bowl, and probably never will, but when it’s all said and done, he’ll go down as one of the best linebackers in Seahawks history.

18.  Marcus Trufant – He was rarely flashy, but he was a first round pick and a starter from day 1.  He made a Pro Bowl in 2007 when he had 7 picks, and it doesn’t hurt that he was a local kid who made good.  And, not for nothing, but we went to the same high school and played on the same Freshman football team (he was the superstar, I was the third string right tackle who never ACTUALLY got to share a field with him on gameday, because I was terrible).

19.  Michael Bennett – In three short years, Bennett is already #10 on Seattle’s all time sacks list.  Of course, he’s so much more than sacks, but that’s still pretty impressive.  With his ability to play both inside and outside, against the run and against the pass, he’s probably the most talented defensive lineman in franchise history (just behind Tez, that is).  If we can keep him happy and playing through the end of this contract – or onto another if he keeps producing – he could easily shoot up this list as well.

20.  Kam Chancellor – He took a bit of a hit this year with his holdout.  I don’t mind a guy who holds out of training camp and/or the pre-season, but I tend to draw the line when a guy starts missing regular season games (and starts costing us those games with his absence).  Truth be told, his 2015 was far from ideal; but, that doesn’t wash away the previous four years of amazingness.  If we can make him happy again and keep him around a few more years, he’ll return to his rightful place among the Top 15 or Top 10 on this list.  For now, it’s sort of Wait & See mode, for fans and the franchise alike.

21.  Lofa Tatupu – His career was relatively brief, but man did he shine bright!  In only six years (one of them severely injury-marred), he made three Pro Bowls, one first team All Pro, and cracked the top 10 in tackles in Seahawks history.  THIS is the best draft pick of Ruskell’s tenure, and a big reason why this team made the Super Bowl during the 2005 season.

22.  Darrell Jackson – Fourth in franchise history in receptions, second in touchdown receptions, and the number 1 receiver for most of Matt Hasselbeck’s time here.  His reputation was somewhat tainted by drops early in his career, but I feel he more than made up for it from 2003 through 2006.  Another guy who never made a Pro Bowl, and will probably never make the Ring of Honor, but he’s a big part of those Holmgren teams that brought the Seahawks to a level of respectability we’d never seen to that point.

23.  John L. Williams – Listed as a fullback, but he was really a do-it-all type of back.  He had hands like a receiver (3rd all time in receptions, 6th all time in receiving yards in Seahawks history), had quicks like a running back (fifth all time in rushing yards in Seahawks history, 9th in rushing touchdowns), and the size of a bruising fullback (5’11, 231 lbs), he could really do it all.  In an era that pre-dates these types of specialty backs who are equally as good at catching as rushing (LaDainian Tomlinson, Marshall Faulk, etc.), John L. Williams was truly a trailblazer.  He’s securely third place in franchise history in total yards from scrimmage (behind bellcow back Shaun Alexander with 10,940 total yards, and Hall of Fame receiver Steve Largent, who had a total of 13,172 yards), ahead of other, more notable, running backs like Curt Warner, Marshawn Lynch, and Chris Warren.  John L. played largely a reserve role, as a third or fourth option for this offense for most of his tenure here, but he played that role splendidly.

24.  Bobby Wagner – He’s been great since his rookie year, I only expect further greatness going forward.  He’s another who could easily skyrocket up this list, the longer he remains the quarterback of the greatest defense we’ve ever seen.

25.  Jermaine Kearse – What can I say?  He’s another local kid, another undrafted free agent, who worked his way through the practice squad into being this team’s #2 receiver.  Doesn’t hurt that he’s a Husky.  Also doesn’t hurt that he’s made some of the biggest catches in franchise history, including the 4th down touchdown against the 49ers in the NFC Championship Game, and the game-winning touchdown against the Packers the very next year in the NFCCG (not to mention the super-human TD catch in Super Bowl XLVIII, and the beyond-human bobbling/diving catch in Super Bowl XLIX).  He might have played his last down in a Seahawks uniform, and if so, I’ll be sad.  But, I’ll also be happy for a guy who started at the bottom and worked his way into a contract that was too big for the Seahawks to match.

Revising My All-Time Seahawks Greats

The last time I did something like this, we were in the middle of the offseason in 2011.  In all likelihood, I was looking for some way to fill space in the dreadful month of March when all the other local sports are effectively shut down and you can only say so much about Spring Training.

You may recall at the time that we were just coming off Pete Carroll’s first year with the team.  We made the playoffs at 7-9 and upset the reigning champion Saints in the Beastquake Game.  It was all very fun, but built on a house of cards.  The roster was aging, as leftovers from the Holmgren Era clung for dear life.  We drafted some promising rookies before the 2010 season – including Russell Okung, Earl Thomas, Golden Tate, Walter Thurmond, and Kam Chancellor – which may go down as the all-time greatest draft class in franchise history (and, indeed, probably ranks pretty high in NFL history as well).

To be fair, my list of the greatest Seahawks of all time was pretty solid for what it was.  But, it’s CLEARLY out of date now.  So, I thought I’d go back and compare what my list would be today vs. what it was nearly four full years ago.  Let’s go to town:

Quarterback

2011:  Matt Hasselbeck, Dave Krieg, Jim Zorn
2014:  Russell Wilson, Matt Hasselbeck, Dave Krieg

You’re going to see a pattern here as we go forward:  better players from the current era will be pushing down players from previous eras.  It’s difficult to compare someone like Wilson – who is working on his third year in the pros – against someone like Hasselbeck who played for us for so much longer.  But, in this case, I’m going to keep it nice and simple:  Russell Wilson led us to three playoff appearances, two division titles, two #1 seeds, and one Super Bowl title (pending what happens in this year’s playoffs).  Wilson is a winner, and he’s the guy who’s starting for me in my hypothetical Greatest Seahawks Team Of All Time.

Running Back

2011:  Shaun Alexander, Curt Warner, Ricky Watters
2014:  Marshawn Lynch, Shaun Alexander, Curt Warner

I opted to throw out the numbers here.  If I went strictly by numbers, Shaun Alexander would still be the clear starter for this team.  9,429 yards and 100 TDs with the Seahawks for Alexander against 5,930 yards and 54 TDs with the Seahawks for Lynch.  The numbers say it’s a no-brainer.  But, I’m going with my heart on this one, and my heart says BEASTMODE!

Wide Receiver

2011:  Steve Largent, Brian Blades, Bobby Engram, Darrell Jackson, Joey Galloway, Paul Skansi
2014:  Steve Largent, Brian Blades, Bobby Engram, Darrell Jackson, Joey Galloway, Golden Tate, Doug Baldwin

So, the thing is, it’s going to be VERY difficult to overtake the top three (and damn near impossible to overtake the top receiver on my list, because Largent is my favorite), what with how this offense is constructed and executed.  Furthermore, I realize Skansi was a reach, but I’m not sure I had a whole lot to work with.  Also, with Golden Tate playing for the Lions now, he’s obviously stuck where he is, with no chance for advancement unless he – by some miracle – returns to the Seahawks.  Doug Baldwin, on the other hand, if he sticks it out long term, could be a quick riser.  We’ll see where we are in another 3-4 years.  I could see someone like Baldwin topping out in the top 2 or 3.

Tight End

2011:  Itula Mili, John Carlson, Christian Fauria
2014:  Zach Miller, Itula Mili, John Carlson

The tight end position for the Seahawks throughout history is a vast wasteland of sadness.  Numbers might say that Jerramy Stevens deserves to be in the top 3, but numbers can suck my dick because Jerramy Stevens can suck my dick.  Zach Miller is a lynchpin for this offense who’s equal parts offensive lineman and soft-hands-pass-catcher.  He’s adorbs and I hope he gets well soon and sticks around another couple years.  I also hope someone like Luke Willson improves his catching ability, because I could see him being a fast riser here too.  It’s pretty sad that someone like Carlson is still hanging around on this list, what with how short his time was with us.

Fullback

2011:  Mack Strong, John L. Williams
2014:  Mack Strong, John L. Williams

While the fullback position is going the way of the dodo bird, I still got love!  And, while I think the world of Michael Robinson as a leader, a special teams stalwart, and a powerful lead blocker for Beastmode in previous seasons (before being forced into retirement and a new career in the media), there’s just no way his impact surpassed what Mack Strong and John L. Williams were able to do.  And, not for nothing, but I think those two names are going to be 1 & 2 on this fullback list for the duration of my lifetime.

Offensive Line

2011:  Walter Jones, Steve Hutchinson, Robbie Tobeck, Bryan Millard, Howard Ballard
2014:  Walter Jones, Steve Hutchinson, Robbie Tobeck, Bryan Millard, Howard Ballard

So, the thing here is:  I’ve made a conscious decision to list a man for every spot along the line (as opposed to, say, listing the five best linemen regardless of where they played along the line).  That having been said, if I felt like cheating (or, if I had the power of some sort of god), I’d probably look to put Russell Okung in at right tackle (because, let’s face it, he nor anyone else will be supplanting hall of famer Walter Jones).  Max Unger is a curious omission, but quite frankly, he’s been too injured in his stint as this team’s starting center to get serious consideration.  An interesting case will be J.R. Sweezy.  If he sticks around and continues his trajectory of improvement, we could be looking at a switch at right guard.  But, for now, Sweezy’s a little too loose in pass protection to take over that spot.

Defensive End

2011:  Jacob Green, Michael Sinclair / Jeff Bryant, Phillip Daniels
2014:  Jacob Green, Michael Sinclair / Jeff Bryant, Michael Bennett

Chris Clemons gets an honorable mention here.  I’ve split these up by first and second team.  Green & Sinclair are the clear 1 & 2 in Seahawks history and will be for the foreseeable future.  Michael Bennett jumps up into the second team because he’s been a force since his return and can pretty much do it all.  I opted to put him in with the ends because, to be honest, there are too many good defensive tackles, which you will see shortly.

Defensive Tackle

2011:  Cortez Kennedy, Joe Nash / Rocky Bernard, Sam Adams, John Randle
2014:  Cortez Kennedy, Brandon Mebane / Joe Nash, Rocky Bernard

The only reason Mebane was left off of my 2011 list is because he hadn’t quite played long enough, and because there was a question about whether he’d be sticking around long term.  Luckily for us, Carroll & Schneider saw fit to extend him, which has been a boon to our line.  You get a great sense of his value with him out of the lineup, as there are many things we just can’t do without him.  It has taken a rotation of 3-4 guys to try to make up for Mebane’s absence, which is about as impressive as it gets.

Also, can you IMAGINE what a defensive line would look like with a healthy Mebane in at nose tackle and an in-his-prime Cortez playing right alongside him?  Partner those two up with literally any of the defensive ends I’ve listed above and you’re talking about a powerhouse line on par with some of the best in the history of the NFL!

And, for the record, I understand going with a 3-man second team in 2011 was a total cop out.  Glad Mebane is here on this list to clean up my mess.

Linebacker

2011:  Chad Brown, Lofa Tutupu, Rufus Porter
2014:  Chad Brown, Bobby Wagner, K.J. Wright

So, yeah.  In my hypothetical defense here, I’m sticking with just the lone middle linebacker, but I’ve opted to essentially interchange who plays at outside linebacker.  In other words, I haven’t differentiated between strongside and weakside.  K.J. Wright’s primary position is weakside, but I THINK that’s where Brown played as well.  What puts Wright ahead of most other linebackers in Seahawks history is his versatility.  He can play all three spots, he’s been a stud since he joined the team, and he was just extended long term.  For the record, if I was picking linebackers regardless of position, Lofa certainly makes this list.  But, Bobby Wagner is lethal and should be for many more years than Tatupu.

Cornerback

2011:  Dave Brown, Marcus Trufant, Shawn Springs
2014:  Richard Sherman, Dave Brown, Marcus Trufant

This one is kind of irritating.  Right off the bat, Richard Sherman is the greatest cornerback we’ve ever had, full stop.  Dave Brown is a Ring Of Honor member and a VERY good corner in his own right.  Before Sherm came along, it was Dave Brown and everyone else a distant second.  Now, if I’m going by any cornerback who has ever put on a Seahawks uniform, then I’m looking at either Brandon Browner or Byron Maxwell over Trufant in a heartbeat (gun to my head:  I probably pick Maxwell because he can play inside and outside corner spots).  BUT, Trufant had a Ring Of Honor career in his own right, and Maxwell will only have a year and change as a starter before he moves on to another team (as the Seahawks surely won’t be able to afford to extend him).  And, not for nothing, but Trufant in his prime was as good as any other corner, so I don’t feel SO bad putting him third on this list.  Nevertheless, if the Seahawks do somehow find a way to squeeze blood from a stone and extend Maxwell, I’m coming back to this page and revising it immediately!

Safety

2011:  Kenny Easley, Eugene Robinson
2014:  Earl Thomas, Kenny Easley, Kam Chancellor

If I’m being 100% honest, I’m probably not splitting up Earl & Kam if I’m starting up this team.  But, I know I’m not the only one who wonders just what it would look like if Earl played alongside Kenny in his prime.  SICK!

Special Teams

2011:  Norm Johnson (Kicker), Rick Tuten (Punter), Steve Broussard (KR), Nate Burleson (PR)
2014:  Steven Hauschka (Kicker), Jon Ryan (Punter), Leon Washington (KR), Nate Burlson (PR)

I hope I’m not totally jinxing things, but I’m taking Hauschka as my all-time kicker.  Jon Ryan is sort of a no-brainer (he is, after all, the MVP of our hearts).  Leon Washington, while short in his time with us, made a HUGE impact (plus, let’s face it, the Seahawks don’t have a long and storied history with kickoff returners; also, Percy Harvin can suck it).  And the challengers to Nate Burleson’s throne never quite did enough (in this case, Joey Galloway – who didn’t last long as a return man – and Golden Tate – who was awesome, but is no longer with us, and wasn’t quite as dynamic).

So, there you have it.  A blog post for Thursday.  Giddyup.

Marcus Trufant Retired

This is what it comes to when you desperately don’t want to write (or think) about the Seattle Mariners.

Marcus Trufant signed a 1-day contract with the Seahawks so he could retire with the team yesterday.  Seems appropriate.  He’s an important member of the local sports community and he deserves to have his day in the sun.

That’s not really what I find interesting about the whole thing, though.  It’s a nice story, but I’m more interested in his place in Seahawks history.  Specifically:  does he belong in the Ring of Honor?

Right now, there are 11 members of the Ring of Honor.  They are:

  1. Pete Gross
  2. Jim Zorn
  3. Dave Brown
  4. Steve Largent
  5. Jacob Green
  6. Dave Krieg
  7. Kenny Easley
  8. Curt Warner
  9. Chuck Knox
  10. Cortez Kennedy
  11. Walter Jones

The first nine were members of those great teams from the early-to-mid 80s.  They helped establish the history of the Seattle Seahawks.  The baseline for greatness, if you will.  Cortez represents all the teams from the 90s, as he was the shining beacon of hope on an otherwise pisspoor franchise.  Walter Jones represents the start of the second wave of great Seahawks teams after the turn of the century.

There will be more.  Off the top of my head, I’d say Mike Holmgren, Matt Hasselbeck, and Shaun Alexander are all locks to make the Ring of Honor, as they were the most important members (with Big Walt) of the aforementioned second wave that saw the Seahawks reach its first-ever Super Bowl.

And, if I’m allowed to look into my crystal ball, I’d say there are a number of awesome candidates in this current third wave of great Seahawks teams:  Pete Carroll, Russell Wilson, Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas, with an outside shot for Marshawn Lynch and Kam Chancellor.

This Ring of Honor’s getting crowded!  I’m sure that plays no small part in determining the outcome of players on the fringe.  Guys like Michael Sinclair, Joe Nash, Jeff Bryant, Brian Blades, Chris Warren, Eugene Robinson, John L. Williams, Brandon Mebane, and of course, Marcus Trufant.

The ultimate honor for a retired NFL player is the Hall of Fame.  You have to be a VERY special player to crack that barrier.  The Seahawks have three:  Largent, Kennedy, and Jones.  In looking ahead, I’d say Russell Wilson is on track (though, he’s going to need a couple more Super Bowl victories and a long sustained career of greatness), Richard Sherman is well on his way, and if Earl Thomas keeps going the way he’s going, he’ll likely get in as well.  Aside from those three, you might see Mike Holmgren make it, but it’s so hard for coaches to get in, and besides he really had his greater success with Green Bay anyway.

The next-level honor for a retired NFL player is his primary team’s Ring of Honor (or team hall of fame, or whatever).  That’s where you get to have your Hall of Famers, as well as the guys who may not have been good enough for that elite level, but still made a huge impact on that specific franchise.

There really should be a third-level honor, though.  Some sort of “Fan Favorite” type of honor where these guys like Marcus Trufant – and the other fringe guys listed above – get their due.

Marcus Trufant was a real professional.  In 2007, he made the Pro Bowl and the All Pro teams.  He’s currently fifth in franchise history in interceptions with 21 (one ahead of Richard Sherman, for the record).  He played 10 seasons in Seattle as a first round draft pick back in 2003.  He started immediately and was really one of our rocks in a secondary that was often torched (or, at the very least, not all that impressive).  He was an integral part of that second wave of great Seahawks teams, from 2003 through 2007 (five consecutive playoff appearances, four consecutive division titles, one Super Bowl appearance).

Marcus Trufant deserves … something!  He may not be Ring of Honor calibre, but he was a very good Seahawk and it’s been an honor to root him on for all those years.

Wilson High School Football Rules!

Exorcising The Demons Of Our Super Bowl XL Defeat

February 5, 2006.  We’re coming up on the 8th anniversary of that fateful day in Seahawks history.  Do you remember what you were doing?  Because, I remember what I was doing.  I was in my house in West Seattle, with my roommates and some other friends.  Pretty small gathering.  I was in my rocking chair, with a fridge full of Miller High Life at my disposal.

I drank 18 beers that day.  I want to say that’s a personal high, but then again I’ve never really sat there and counted.  This total was unmistakable though, as I found them the next morning, in a semi-straight line next to the chair I had sat in throughout the entire afternoon.

According to the day-after notes I took, on my old LiveJournal account, I started drinking around noon and was most likely passed out by 8pm.  I had one of the worst hangovers the next day that I’ve ever endured.  How I made it through even PART of a work day is mind-boggling to me now.  In 2006, I would turn 25, so maybe that explains it a little bit.  Couldn’t do that today, that’s for damn sure (which is why I have requested the Monday after this upcoming Super Bowl off of work).

I don’t remember a lot about the experience of actually watching the game, though.  Obviously, I remember seething with hatred.  At the refs, at Jerramy Stevens.  At the Pittsburgh Steelers.  I remember being with friends who weren’t nearly as rabid in their Seahawks fandom as myself (but, then again, I have a real problem, so don’t consider that comment in any way detrimental to their character) and I vaguely remember feeling some of their eyes on me, as if to say, “Who is this crazy person I’ve chosen to make my friend?”

I remember, in an important situation, when the Seahawks were in need of a big play, a long bomb to Jerramy Stevens.  At first, the announcers called it a catch.  It LOOKED like a catch, if only for a moment, because he had his back to the camera when he fell.  In my excitement, I jumped up out of my chair, with a fist raised to the air, unleashing a raucous cheer … and in the process, my fist collided with the ceiling and punched a hole through it.  A moment later, it was revealed that Stevens, in fact, dropped the ball.  Not only did that drive stall, but now I had a hole in the ceiling that would come out of my share of the deposit (the house was a rental).

I remember after the game, when all was said and done, not saying one word to anyone else at our little gathering.  I left the room, called a friend of mine (who happens to be a Steelers fan) to grudgingly congratulate him, and that’s it.  That’s all that I remember.

***

After Super Bowl XL, I avoided any and all highlights of that game.  If it popped up on television, I’d change the channel.  If they talked about it on the radio, I’d turn the fucking thing off.  I also avoided any and all Internet articles on the subject.  I tried my damnedest to pretend the whole fucking thing never existed.  And, aside from a few drunken debates among friends, I did my best to never bring it up.

As a kid, I remember watching TV after a major sports championship and seeing those Sports Illustrated commercials.  You know, they offer a year’s subscription to their magazine, and if you bought RIGHT NOW, you’d get this deluxe, embossed keepsake of whichever sports team just won their respective championship.  I remember watching those commercials and thinking, “One day, a Seattle team is going to win a championship, and I’m going to be the first one to call that number and order that subscription so I can get that keepsake.”  I thought it might happen for me in the mid-90s with one of those Sonics teams.  Then, I thought it might happen for me at the turn of the century, with one of those Mariners teams.  Then, I thought SURELY I’ll get my chance with the Seahawks after Super Bowl XL!  And, every year of my life, I’ve been denied this opportunity.

Just once, I’d like to have that keepsake in my home.  I’d like to buy that DVD of the championship game.  I’d like to be able to reflect back upon just ONE season with joy in my heart.  And not a sense of loss.

I don’t know if there are Seahawks fans out there who bought that Sports Illustrated subscription after the Steelers beat us, just to have something saying that we WENT to the Super Bowl, but I know there are fans out there who are just happy to be involved.  Who would like to see the Seahawks win it all, but are just as satisfied with “having a good season”.  Those people – while maybe they’re not psychotic about sports like I am – make me sick.

It has taken me nearly 8 years to get to the point where I was able to re-watch Super Bowl XL.  Honestly, I’m only just now capable of this feat because my Seahawks have finally made it back.  I figure, if I’m ever going to be able to let this thing go, I’m going to have to sit there, watch the whole thing, and try to keep an open mind.  Maybe not ALL of the calls by the refs were horrid.  Maybe it wasn’t so much the Seahawks making mistakes as the Steelers just out-playing us.  MAYBE, the Steelers actually did deserve to win that game.

So, over the last week, in two separate sittings, I sat there and watched this game.  For the record, the first half was so brutal, I had to give myself a few days before I could come back and watch the second half.  I originally intended to do some sort of Sports Guy Running Diary of this thing, but that flew out the window pretty quick.  Instead, I took copious amounts of notes, which I’ll get into right now.

***

For starters, I pulled this video from the Internet.  It had the ABC video feed, but they dubbed it over with the Pittsburgh Steelers radio announcers.  Right off the bat, I was annoyed.

Before I get into the actual notes of the thing, if you wanted to perfectly sum up Super Bowl XL, I don’t think I can say it any better than this:

To score points in an average football game, normally you have to punch the ball into the endzone (for a touchdown), kick the ball over the goal post (for a field goal), or tackle the quarterback/running back in his own endzone (for a safety).  However, if you scored Super Bowl points based on your effectiveness of driving the football between the 30’s and then failing miserably, the Seahawks of Super Bowl XL would be the greatest Super Bowl team known to mankind.

So, let’s just get into this.  The Seahawks got the ball first and, if you remember anything about Mike Holmgren-coached teams, you remember that he likes to script his first 15 or so plays to start the game.  I don’t know why.  I don’t remember it working predominantly more than it failed; I feel like it’s a 50/50 endeavor.  If you succeed on that first drive, then it’s because you prepared really hard?  But, if you fail, then what?  I don’t understand the rationale behind it either.  Essentially, you’re saying, “We’re going to run these 15 plays in order, regardless of the situation or the defense in front of us.”  Yet, if it works so well, why wouldn’t you script the first 30 or 45 plays?

Whatever.  Anyway, in the first couple minutes of the game, Seattle moved the ball down the field with authority.  Quick passes, quick huddles, quick snaps.  Everything quick, everything in a nice little rhythm.  We got to midfield and on 2nd & 9, Matt Hasselbeck overthrew Darrell Jackson – who was wide open at the 35 yard line of Pittsburgh – which would have given us a first down and a lot more.  We got sacked on third down and that was that.  Tom Rouen punted the ball into the endzone.

As I go along, I’m going to track all the Seattle Mistakes, as well as all the times the Seahawks were screwed over.  In the first drive, we had two big mistakes:

  • Hasselbeck overthrew a wide-open Jackson
  • Rouen punted the ball into the endzone

On Pittsburgh’s first drive, our defense was strong, holding them to a 3 & Out and one net yard gained.

Possession #2 – Started at our own 36 and we quickly moved into Pittsburgh territory.  Again, very quick pace.  It’s startling to watch, after these last two years of the Seahawks slowing things down to a turtle’s pace.  Darrell Jackson caught a ball that would have put us into field goal range, but there was a holding call on Chris Gray.  On a repeated viewing, this looked to be a legit call.  He got there late on a stunting linebacker on the right edge.  This led to 3rd & 16 and a poor throw by Hasselbeck into massive coverage (which should have been picked off).  This was followed by another fucking punt into the endzone.  Seattle fuckups:

  • Legit holding call on Chris Gray
  • Punt #2 into the endzone

On Pittsburgh’s second possession, they ran the ball twice and threw an incompletion for another 3 & Out.  Roethlisberger had all day, but just made a bad throw.

Possession #3 – Booming punt was returned to the 49 yard line by Peter Warrick.  Remember that guy?  I sure as shit didn’t.  Anyway, two plays into the drive and we were in field goal range.  Darrell Jackson was REALLY having a day, tying a then-Super Bowl record of 5 catches in the first quarter.

Next play:  offensive pass interference on Darrell Jackson, which would have been his sixth catch of the quarter AND a touchdown.  If I’m going to be honest with you:  it’s a bullshit call.  WHO calls that?  Did Jackson stick his arm out?  Yes.  Did he push off with that arm?  No fucking way.  Did he gain an unfair advantage by putting that arm out there?  No fucking way.  The Steeler who he supposedly interfered with (known as #28 because I don’t care to learn the man’s name) was in a TERRIBLE position to make a play.  28 got caught standing in the back of the endzone looking into the backfield.  Also:  the ref didn’t even begin to throw the flag until Jackson had secured the ball and 28 started complaining like a bitch.  If the ref sees a foul, fine, throw the flag.  But, don’t let the emotions of the game lead you to throw the flag late.  Either you saw something that should have been penalized, or you didn’t.  If you did, then throw it IMMEDIATELY!

I don’t think that flag gets thrown today.  Even the Steelers radio guys thought that was a ticky-tack call!  I’m not even shitting you!

Nevertheless, we still had 1st and 20.  We were still more or less in field goal range.  There were ample opportunities to get that yardage back and have a reasonable chance at a touchdown.  So, what did we do?  TWO SLOW-DEVELOPING STRETCH RUNNING PLAYS IN A ROW!!!

I like Mike Holmgren.  I think he did more for this city and this franchise than any other head coach, maybe with the exception of Lou Piniella.  But, I’ll be God fucking damned if Holmgren didn’t make some BAFFLING play-calling decisions in his career.  Are you fucking SHITTING ME?  I know our offensive line was good and everything, but why do you run practically the same play twice when it didn’t work the first time AND YOU NEED 20 FUCKING YARDS FOR THE FIRST DOWN???

I’m telling you, that actually makes me more infuriated than the bogus pass interference call.  3rd & 23 (so we LOST three yards on those two runs).  In this situation, there are two things you can do:  go conservative to try to better your position for a field goal, or go for the knockout.  I love me some Matt Hasselbeck, and the next play is exactly why:  fade pass into the right corner of the endzone.  D.J. Hackett actually had two fucking hands on the ball, but couldn’t come down with the catch.  There was incidental contact by the Pittsburgh defender, but he was facing the direction of the throw, so probably a good no-call.  Either way, we ended this drive up 3-0 when we should have been up 7-0.  Seattle fuckups:

  • Holmgren’s play-calling on 1st & 20
  • D.J. Hackett dropping a touchdown

Referee fuckup:

#1.  Lame offensive pass interference on Jackson that should have been a no-call.

Pittsburgh’s third possession ended the first quarter with a third straight 3 & Out.  I’m trembling with rage at this point, considering we ONLY had a 3-0 lead.  Feels like it should have been 21-0, but every drive has seen us shoot ourselves in the foot.

Possession #4 – Another booming punt by the Steelers, which Warrick returned into Steelers territory.  Except … you guessed it.  Holding penalty on #35 brought it back.  This was probably the weakest holding penalty I’ve ever seen, as repeated viewings show he hardly put a hand on the guy.  Cost us a good 30 yards of field position.

Still, Hasselbeck was on point, quickly getting us up near midfield.  Shaun Alexander ripped off a couple of nice runs that got us to 3rd & short.  For some reason, we took Alexander off the field, but that really doesn’t matter, because Matt Hasselbeck was dropping dimes.  He made an excellent throw to Jerramy Stevens about 20 yards down field, who caught it, but got hit immediately and had the ball pop out.  He absolutely should have come up with that play.  Professionals make that catch!  He had it in both hands, tucked it into his right arm, and that’s when the hit came & knocked it out.  It was very nearly a completion and a fumble, but he never made a “football move” in my opinion.  This drive finished with a third punt into the endzone.  Seattle fuckups:

  • Jerramy Stevens Drop #1
  • Tom Rouen Shitty Punt #3

Referee fuckup:

#2 – Phantom holding call on the Seahawks’ punt return.

The Steelers finally got their first first down of the game at 11:15 to go in the second quarter, on a completion on 3rd & 8 with fabulous coverage by the Sehawks.  Considering to this point, the Seahawks have had the ball four times, moved the ball fairly well each time, and only came away with 3 points is more than a little disconcerting.

We ended up biting on an end-around to Hines Ward for 25 yards to put the Steelers around midfield, and on the play Marquand Manuel was injured.  That’s something to keep in mind, because we were already thin as it was in the secondary, and because Manuel would not return to the game.

On the very next play, however, a deep ball by Roethlisberger was badly underthrown and picked off by Michael Boulware.

Possession #5 – 3 & Out.  We were short of converting that by mere inches.  And, of course, when we NEED a big, booming punt out of Tom Rouen, he kicks a low, short line drive.  Fuck me?  No, fuck YOU, sir!

On Pittsburgh’s next drive, we had them in third & long, but somehow lost Hines Ward, who caught a shovel pass and converted.  From there, Roethlisberger hit a seam pass deep into Seattle territory.  Marcus Trufant was lined up a MILE in front of the guy, to allow him to make an easy catch for a big gain.  Remember, this was our BEST cornerback at the time.  If the 2013 Seahawks played corner that poorly, I’d have a fucking heart attack.

Next up, Hines Ward dropped what would have been a highlight-worthy catch at the right sideline of the endzone.  At this point, the second-year Roethlisberger was looking more and more comfortable.  This was a lucky break for the Seahawks, because Hines definitely had a chance to make the catch.  Offensive pass interference followed (didn’t see it, they never showed a replay), followed by a sack back at the 40 yard line.

This led to 3rd & 28.  They were out of field goal range, so we were probably expecting some sort of 10-yard checkdown.  The line flushed Ben out of the pocket to his left, then he unloaded a ball all the way down to the Seahawks’ 3 yard line, which was miraculously caught by Hines Ward for the first down.  MOTHER OF GOD!  What the Hell is going on here???  There were three Seahawks around him, yet not one of them could make a play.  There are no words.

A steady diet of The Bus followed, netting 1.5 yards and running the clock down to the 2-minute warning.  This led to yet another fuck up by the refs:  bootleg by Roethlisberger (designed run) for a touchdown.

Here’s the thing:  like the pass interference call on Jackson earlier, if you see something, CALL IT IMMEDIATELY!  You know what I saw on this play?  I saw the line judge raise one hand in the air, as if to signal fourth down.  As he ran down the line towards the pile, he switched his call and put both hands in the air signifying touchdown.  Do you know what happened in these seconds between the 4th down call and the touchdown call?  Roethlisberger – who landed with the ball in his gut, while half of his torso was over the line – discreetly moved the ball over the goalline.  You can see on the reverse view that shows the ball, the ref ran into the shot, and he only had one arm in the air until Roethlisberger moved that ball.

Of course, in reality, it was as close as a play gets.  I could look at that play 50 times and flip-flop back and forth as to whether that ball crossed the line or not, but that’s not the point.  The point is:  if the ref calls it 4th down, they won’t overturn it on replay.  If the ref calls it a touchdown, they won’t overturn it on replay.  There’s no concrete evidence either way, so that initial call is CRUCIAL.  And that particular ref didn’t stick with what he saw initially.  He pussed out and called it a touchdown after Ben moved the ball.  From how he landed, if you just saw his body and nothing else, you’d think, “Surely he scored on that run.”  Except, when the Seahawks defender stopped him, his helmet knocked the ball down around Ben’s gut.  The ball wasn’t positioned on his body like it normally would have been.  The ref was fooled, he fucked up, and that’s that.

Seattle fuckups:

  • Allowing Pittsburgh to convert 3rd and 28

Referee fuckup:

#3 – Switching his call halfway down the line after Ben moves the ball across the goalline a la Vinny Testaverde.

Possession #6 – 2-minute offense, just after the 2-minute warning.  Pittsburgh squib-kicked and we returned it to the 40 yard line.  But, of course, they called holding.  On #57.  He didn’t hold anyone.  How do I know that?  Because he didn’t BLOCK ANYONE.  I don’t know if anyone else held on that play, but 57 sure as shit didn’t.

Almost immediately, we got the yards back and drove up near midfield.  Our offensive line was holding up well against their blitzes as we moved into Steelers territory.  There was a deep ball up the right sideline to Jackson that would have been a touchdown, but Jackson was careless with his footwork and was rightly called out of bounds.  He got his left foot down, his knee grazed the pylon, but his right foot landed totally out of bounds.

Then, for some insane reason, we opted to run the ball up the gut for four yards with 40 seconds left.  AND THEN WE LET THE CLOCK RUN DOWN TO 13 SECONDS BEFORE PITTSBURGH CALLED A TIME OUT???  What the tap-dancing FUCK?

Part of that is on Hasselbeck totally not giving a shit about the clock winding down as he’s changing the play at the line, but most of that is on another Holmgren play-calling brain fart.  Seriously?  It’s a 2-minute offense and you’re running the ball up the gut?  And then you DON’T call a time out when Hasselbeck is clearly freaking out about something he’s seeing from Pittsburgh’s defense?  Bad Holmgren.  Bad.

Once again, we aired it out to Jackson down the right sideline, but the pass was offline and led him out of bounds.  Probably not the best decision by Hasselbeck, when just getting ten yards would have been more helpful.  But, what do you expect him to do when his coach doesn’t put the team in a position to succeed by running the fucking ball with 40 seconds to go on the clock?

That led to a 54-yard field goal that Josh Brown pushed wide right.  Seattle fuckups:

  • Some of the worst clock management I’ve ever seen
  • Poor footwork on Jackson’s part on that first deep pass
  • Poor decision on Hasselbeck’s part to not check down for some extra yards for the field goal

Referee fuckup:

#4 – Phantom holding call on the kick return.

Halftime.  7-3 Pittsburgh.  Legitimately, the Seahawks missed out on 10 more points in that half (4 for the bullshit P.I. call on Jackson, 3 on the Jerramy Stevens drop that would have put us in field goal range, and 3 on that drive before half).  Should have been 13-7.  Should have been a lot of things.

Pittsburgh got the ball after halftime and on second down, Willie Parker ran up the gut for 75 yards and a touchdown.  14-3, Pittsburgh.  Seattle fuckups:

  • Linebackers were swallowed whole
  • Safety (Manuel’s replacement) bit ridiculously hard on a cut inside before Parker bounced it out into the clearing
  • Overall shit defense from A to Z on that play

Possession #7 – Good first drive out of the half by the offense.  There was another deep ball to Jerramy Stevens who dropped it again.  This one would have made it first and goal.  The fucking thing hit him right in the chest.

Still, we drove it into field goal range.  On 3rd & 5, Hasselbeck was pressured into throwing quickly, took a shot down field, and it landed incomplete.  Josh Brown, this time, pulled the field goal wide left.  He was 1 for 3 at this point.  Seattle fuckups:

  • Jerramy Stevens Drop #2
  • Poorly kicked field goal

On Pittsburgh’s next possession, on 3rd & 4, Hines Ward totally shoved a defender in the face to get open.  No flag, first down.  They got deep into Seattle territory – 3rd & 7 inside our 10 yard line – and Roethlisberger made the worst throw I’ve ever seen, on a short out route to the right side.  #31 for the Seahawks jumped it and ran it all the way back to Pittsburgh’s 20 yard line.

Referee fuckup:

#5 – No offensive pass interference on Hines Ward on a third down conversion

Possession #8 – We gained four yards on the first two plays, then on 3rd & 6 from the 16, Hasselbeck hit a wide open Jerramy Stevens for a touchdown.  14-10, Pittsburgh.

Pittsburgh’s next possession was a 3 & Out, where they ended up running all three times.  Looked like they wanted to protect Roethlisberger’s ego there instead of giving him a chance to atone for his mistakes.

Possession #9 – First play would have been at least 10 yards if not more, but of course, Jerramy Stevens dropped it again.  This drive ended up as a 3 & Out and Rouen had another short, shitty punt.  Seattle fuckups:

  • Jerramy Stevens Drop #3
  • Tom Rouen Shitty Punt #AllOfThem

Pittsburgh came back with another 3 & Out as Roethlisberger overthrew an open Hines Ward.  Seriously, does ANYONE want to take control of this shitty game?

Possession #10 – Peter Warrick let the punt bounce at the 20 yard line, where it rolled all the way down to our 2.  What’s it like to have a good punter?

It’s really nice to have the best left side of an offensive line in the history of the NFL, though, because the 2 yard line became the 7 yard line on one play.  Ryan Hannam was now in at tight end, because JESUS CHRIST JERRAMY STEVENS SUCK A DICK.  We got all the way back to midfield on some more quality throws.  Then, a third down conversion to Engram took it down to the 30 yard line, followed by a couple of solid Alexander runs taking it inside the 20.

And, like clockwork, after the Seahawks did so well to move the ball down the field, they started shooting themselves in the foot.  This time, the edge rusher for Pittsburgh got an INSANE jump, moving into the neutral zone just as the ball was being snapped.  He happened to be rushing on Sean Locklear’s side, who had no choice but to hold or let Hasselbeck get killed.  The refs saw the hold and called it.  Where this hurt, of course, is that on the pass, Hasselbeck actually completed a ball to Jerramy Stevens down to the 3 yard line.  Instead of first and goal, with Alexander running it in all but certain, it was 1st & 20 at around the 30 yard line.

Next play:  Tobeck got abused and Hasselbeck got sacked.  2nd & 25, we ran a draw play that gained a good 9 yards or so.  Alexander would have had a lot more, actually, but the Pittsburgh defender horsecollar tackled him.  Refs missed it, but the Pittsburgh broadcasters sure didn’t, and wondered why a flag wasn’t thrown.

On 3rd & long, Hasselbeck threw deep again, and this time was bit for it, getting picked off.  He was eventually called for a “low block” on the return, even though he was trying to make a tackle on the play, and even though he hit THE GUY WITH THE FUCKING BALL and not any other Steeler.  #Refs.  Seattle fuckups:

  • Warrick letting punt go down to 2 yard line
  • Holding that negated a 1st & goal
  • Interception, throwing into heavy coverage, not allowing your team a chance for the field goal

Referee fuckups:

#6 – Did not call the horsecollar tackle
#7 – Penalizing Hasselbeck for a low block on an interception return when he went in to make a tackle.

On the Steelers’ next possession, they converted on third and short just past midfield.  Then, they ran an end-around pass from Randle-El to Hines Ward for a 43-yard touchdown.  Seattle fuckups:

  • Safety bit hard on the play-action
  • Linemen didn’t keep contain on the end-around
  • Allowed a fucking WIDE RECEIVER to throw the ball to another fucking wide receiver!

Possession #11 – It’s 21-10 with 9 minutes to go.  We once again got the ball quickly to midfield, then the drive stalled with Hasselbeck taking a sack on third down by an unblocked cornerback.  We opted to punt the ball with 6:30 to go in the game (obviously – AND I MEAN OBVIOUSLY – the punt was kicked into the endzone).  Seattle fuckups:

  • Letting an unblocked cornerback sack your quarterback
  • Punting when you’re down by 11 points with 6 and a half minutes to go in the game

Pittsburgh’s next possession had a real chance to be over with a 3 & Out.  On 3rd & 6, the refs missed a delay of game penalty, opting to give Pittsburgh the time out, even though Roethlisberger didn’t call the time out until the clock had already reached zero.  They converted that on a wide receiver screen and bled more clock.

The Bus ran it down to a 3rd & 2, as the Seahawks were using their time outs, then we fell for another quarterback bootleg keeper for the first down.  The Steelers ended up running the clock down to the 2-minute warning before they had to punt.

Referee fuckup:

#8 – Not calling Delay of Game on 3rd & 6, which would have made the next play much more difficult.

Possession #12 – The Seahawks got the ball into Pittsburgh territory on a couple of plays before clocking it with 1:00 to go.  Hasselbeck missed Engram, who was open down the sideline, for a would-be big gainer.  Not that it matters, but after that Hasselbeck was throwing short outs for some reason.

The final Seahawks play of the game:  a deep ball, near the goalline, which was dropped by Jerramy Stevens.  Because what more fitting way to end this game, except for maybe another shitty Tom Rouen punt?

By my count, here’s the happy totals:

  • 23 total mistakes by the Seahawks
  • 8 bullshit calls/non-calls by the refs
  • 5 of the worst punts you’ve ever seen
  • 4 legitimate, should-have-had-them drops by Jerramy Stevens
  • 3 legitimately huge plays by the Steelers (3rd & 28, 75-yard TD run, 43-yard WR-to-WR TD pass)
  • 3 bonehead coaching decisions by Mike Holmgren
  • 2 critical offensive holding penalties that were good calls by the refs and drive-killers for us
  • 2 missed field goals by the supposed “most clutch kicker in Seahawks history”
  • 1 interception deep in the opposition territory to cost us at least three points

Add it all up, and you’ve got one of the worst Super Bowl performances in the history of the game.

Make no mistake, the Steelers were NOT the better team on this day.  They had a bunch of 3 & Outs, Roethlisberger had some baffling throws, and for this supposedly-vaunted defense, they sure as shit let the Seahawks move the ball up and down the field at will.  We had nearly 400 yards!  Their wide receivers had more touchdown passes than their quarterback!  This was NOT a good Steelers performance.  For as great as they were in the three AFC playoff games leading up to this, they looked like they were lost and overwhelmed in the Super Bowl.

Had the Seahawks capitalized – like they should have – the Steelers would have lost this game, and Bill Cowher would have been The Coach Who Chokes In Super Bowls.  And I’m not even saying the Seahawks needed to play a perfect game!  Just take back a small fraction of those mistakes, and a small fraction of those bullshit referee decisions, and you’re looking at a comfortable win for the Good Guys.  Just about EVERYTHING had to go against us at critical times for us to blow this game.

In the end, there’s not one person or entity to blame.  The refs are to blame as much as Jerramy Stevens, Mike Holmgren, and our own offensive line.  This was truly the perfect storm, and a nasty way to introduce Seahawks fans to participation in the NFL’s greatest spectacle.

So, did you hate reading this as much as I hated researching it and writing it?  Good.  Let’s keep this game in mind as we head into Sunday:  we CANNOT have a repeat of this performance.

Comparing The 2005 Seahawks To The 2013 Seahawks

Last week, we more or less giddily looked forward to the “Big Game” on February 2nd.  This week, I’ve decided to take a step back and review the last time the Seahawks were in a position to give all of our lives meaning.

The 2005 Seahawks didn’t come out of nowhere, per se, but they also didn’t look like a team that would be bound for the Super Bowl.  In 2003, the Seahawks finished second in the NFC West (to the Rams), and lost in the Wild Card round to Green Bay (take the ball, score, all of that nonsense you wish you could forget).  In 2004, the Seahawks won the NFC West, but lost again in the Wild Card round, this time to the Rams (who, sadly, managed to beat us three times that season).

Suffice it to say, these Seahawks were starting to remind everyone of the early George Karl Sonics teams (good enough to win divisions and make the playoffs, but ALWAYS with the first round exits).  In a way, 2005 was a make-or-break year for Mike Holmgren.  Obviously, he had already lost his General Managing duties by this point, but if there was another underperforming finish to this season, you had to wonder how hot his seat would’ve been.  2005 was his seventh season in Seattle.  He had made the playoffs three times in those seven years, and each time he lost in the first round.

So, it was more than a little disconcerting to see us go into Jacksonville – where we expected to be the better team, given the Jags’ questions at quarterback – and lose to kick off the season.  Granted, those Jags would end up 12-4, but we had no idea they’d be that good going in.  The Seahawks bounced back with a couple of home wins over a couple of mediocre teams (Falcons & Cardinals), before losing on the road once again (this time to the Redskins).

By this point, it was the same boring storyline:  the Seahawks can’t win on the road (and they especially can’t win on the road at 10am Pacific time).  The very next week would, once again, put this theory to the test, as we faced off against our most bitter rival (at the time), the St. Louis Rams.  After they’d beaten us three times the previous year, we knew there was a dragon left to be slain.  Having it on the road, in the morning, made it all the sweeter when we won 37-31.

This kicked off an 11-game winning streak that was only broken in Week 17 when we rested many of our starters (as we’d locked up the #1 seed).

Looking back on it, the NFC was VERY weak in 2005.  The Rams & Packers were both in the midst of down seasons.  The Bears had a great defense, but were led by Kyle Orton and Rex Grossman of all people.  The Seahawks drew the Redskins in the Divisional Round, with the aging Mark Brunell, and easily dispatched them.  That led to an NFC Championship Game against the Carolina Panthers.  We made mincemeat of Jake Delhomme (probably the beginning of the end of his career, with three interceptions against only one touchdown) and Steve Smith (at the height of his powers, held to a trivial 5 catches for 33 yards).  These were not teams to fear.

For sure, all the talent was in the AFC in 2005.  The 14-2 Colts were the best team in football.  The 13-3 Broncos were surprisingly effective with Jake Plummer at the helm and the 3rd ranked defense by points scored.  The 10-6 Patriots were still, more or less, the same team that had won three of the last four Super Bowls.  The 11-5 Bengals were a surprising division winner, with Carson Palmer looking to really make his mark on this league.  The 12-4 Jaguars were one of the better 5-seeds in the history of the league to that point (boxed out by the aforementioned 14-2 Colts).  Leaving the 11-5 Steelers, in the 6-seed.

Had things gone according to plan (or according to the 2013 blueprint), the Seahawks would have played Peyton Manning and his Colts in the Super Bowl.  Of course, nothing goes the way you want it to.

The Steelers started out their playoff run by killing Carson Palmer’s career.  He thew one pass for 66 yards.  On his next attempt, he was hit at the knees by a defensive lineman and was out for the game (Palmer would make it back, but he was never as good as he was in 2005).  A promising Bengals team was defeated, with Jon Kitna at the helm.  The Steelers continued their run by going into Indy and playing the top team in the league.  They came away with a 3-point victory.  That led to them going into Denver to play the Broncos (who somehow managed to defeat the Patriots), where they won easily.

To be honest, the run couldn’t have gone more perfectly for the 6-seeded Steelers.  It was a harrowing feat to say the least.  You want to talk about steel sharpening steel?  Compare that run of three straight road games to the charmed life the Seahawks had, with one of the easiest conference regular seasons in recent memory, followed by two home games where we enjoy the best Home Field Advantage in the world.  Pretty much, the Seahawks were flying first class to the Super Bowl, while the Steelers had to survive a death march over steaming hot coals.

In any other year, against any other team, I would have been cheering on the Steelers like nobody’s business.  Instead, I came out of Super Bowl XL with the Steelers as one of my most hated teams of all time

***

I’ll have more on Super Bowl XL tomorrow.  Right now, let’s take a look at those 2005 Seahawks, and how they compare to the 2013 version.

As a general overview, the 2005 Seahawks were (unsurprisingly) quite successful on offense and not so much on defense.  In fact, they led the league in points scored and were second in yards gained.  However, on defense, they weren’t quite the trainwreck I seem to remember.  They were 7th-best in points allowed and 16th in yards given up.  Of course, I would contend their schedule had something to do with that, but the point is, we’re not talking about the 2012 Saints or anything.

The 2005 Seahawks had the MVP of the league in Shaun Alexander.  He scored 27 rushing touchdowns which, at the time, was the NFL record.  It would be beaten by LaDainian Tomlinson the very next season, but it was still an amazing achievement.  Alexander also ran for 1,880 yards, which was a career high for him.  You can say what you want about his running style, but the man got the job done for us and should be appreciated as the greatest running back in Seahawks history.

The 2005 Seahawks were led by Matt Hasselbeck.  He was in his seventh year in the league, fifth year with the Seahawks, and third year as the Seahawks’ unquestioned starter at the quarterback position.  Remember, when he first got here, we were jerking him around with Trent Dilfer on the roster.  As if winning that Super Bowl with the Ravens (and the greatest defense of all time) somehow made Dilfer competent at the quarterback position or something.  Anyway, I made the point at the time (and stand behind it to this day) that the 2005 Seahawks were as good as they were because they had Matt Hasselbeck at quarterback.  Shaun Alexander might have been the league’s MVP, but Hasselbeck was the team’s MVP.  Had we played that season with a replacement-level quarterback (or, Seneca Wallace, as he’s formally known), we would have had replacement-level results, no matter how many yards and touchdowns Alexander ran for.

Then again, the heart and soul of the 2005 Seahawks resided along the offensive line.  It was EASILY the best in football and EASILY the best line we’ve ever seen in Seattle.  It also probably rivals some of the best offensive lines in the history of the league, but I’ll leave that argument for people smarter than me to make.  All I know is:  with Walter Jones & Steve Hutchinson on the left side of that line, the rest of the offense’s job was made a lot easier.

So, let’s start there.  Let’s make the rest of this post a position-by-position breakdown, starting with the offensive line.  For the record, I’m going to try to pick the player who played the most games at his given position (or, who is known as that team’s “starter”).  The better player is highlighted in blue.

Left Tackle
2005 – Walter Jones
2013 – Russell Okung

Left Guard
2005 – Steve Hutchinson
2013 – James Carpenter / Paul McQuistan

Center
2005 – Robbie Tobeck
2013 – Max Unger

Right Guard
2005 – Chris Gray
2013 – J.R. Sweezy

Right Tackle
2005 – Sean Locklear
2013 – Breno Giacomini

Overall, when you consider the offensive line as a whole, you give the overwhelming nod to the 2005 Seahawks.  The 2013 Seahawks have no one NEAR the calibre of Walter Jones & Steve Hutchinson of 2005.  Max Unger gets a marginal nod over Tobeck.  Chris Gray was like 2005’s version of Paul McQuistan (savvy veteran, able to play multiple positions along the line, helps more than he hurts).  I never did like Sean Locklear.

Quarterback
2005 – Matt Hasselbeck
2013 – Russell Wilson

I’m not gonna lie to you, before I looked at the stats, just going off of memory, I REALLY wanted to pick Hasselbeck over Wilson.  I just thought, given the style of offense (West-Coast, heavy on the passing and the completion percentage), the Seahawks would have required more out of Hasselbeck than they do out of Wilson now.  But, look at these numbers!

Hasselbeck:  294/449 (65.5%), 3,459 yards, 24 TDs, 9 INTs, rating of 98.2
Wilson:  257/407 (63.1%), 3,357, 26 TDs, 9 INTs, rating of 101.2

First of all, I thought Hasselbeck would have attempted WAY more passes than Wilson, but it turned out to only be 42 more passes (or a little over two and a half passes per game).  As it turns out, Wilson was the more efficient quarterback, who still managed to best Hasselbeck in touchdowns thrown.  When you tack on Wilson’s rushing yards, it’s pretty clear who’s the better quarterback.  It’s NOT Year 7 Hasselbeck; it’s Year 2 Wilson.  Soak that in as you daydream about the next dozen years with Wilson at the helm.

Running Back
2005 – Shaun Alexander
2013 – Marshawn Lynch

Listen to me, now.  I know how much you love Beastmode.  Hell, I love myself some Beastmode as much as anybody!  I wouldn’t trade his hard-nosed, rugged running style for anything.  It isn’t even really a question of who would you rather have.  I’m not posing the notion of putting 2005 Alexander with 2013’s offensive line to see who would be the better guy.  Let’s face it, 2005 Alexander WITH 2005’s offensive line is just a better running back than 2013 Lynch with 2013’s line.  I’ll kindly refer you to the numbers:

Alexander:  370 attempts, 1,880 yards, 5.1 yards per carry, 27 touchdowns
Lynch:  301 attempts, 1,257 yards, 4.2 yards per carry, 12 touchdowns

Let’s face it, 2005 Alexander’s numbers are Looney Tunes!  You just don’t see running backs like this very much anymore.  They’re a dying breed.  Alexander was 28 when he had this season.  Lynch is 27, but considering the pounding his body takes, you’d have to think he’s in a similar boat.  When Alexander hit 30, he fell off the cliff.  I would expect nothing less out of Lynch.

Also, 2005 Alexander had 69 more attempts!  In what is supposed to be a pass-oriented offense.  Now, granted, those Seahawks won a lot of games and leaned on teams late with that rushing attack.  But, the 2013 Seahawks ALSO won a lot of games, but weren’t putting up numbers like this.

It boils down to those 2005 Seahawks being a fast-paced offense vs. the 2013 Seahawks slowing the game down.  Of course you’re going to get better offensive numbers if you’re going to be running so many more plays.

Wide Receiver 1
2005 – Darrell Jackson
2013 – Golden Tate

The numbers don’t bear out that Jackson was the team’s #1 receiver – because he missed a good ten games in the middle of the season before returning for the playoff run – but it’s pretty obvious who the team’s top target was.  Jackson’s early career was mired by drops, but he managed to get his shit together starting in 2005.  And, in that playoff run (where he caught 20 balls for 268 yards in three games – and it would have been more in the Super Bowl had things gone a little differently), Jackson really took a step forward.

Nevertheless, Golden Tate gets the nod.  He draws the lion’s share of the coverage (usually with the other team’s best cover corner), and still managed to catch 64 balls for 898 yards.  What puts Tate over the top is his talent, his versatility, and his ability in the punt return game.

Wide Receiver 2
2005 – Joe Jurevicius
2013 – Sidney Rice / Jermaine Kearse

I resisted the urge to put Doug Baldwin here, mainly because I want to save him so I can compare him to Bobby Engram.  In his stead, I put the duo of Rice & Kearse.  Rice was obviously this team’s #2 receiver when he was healthy, but of course, he went down after 8 games and Kearse picked up some of the slack.  You’ve got to ding Rice for not being reliable with his health.  But, aside from all that, Jurevicius was rock solid in 2005.

He caught 55 balls for 694 yards and a whopping 10 touchdowns!  He was the type of big body that Pete Carroll has been spending his entire Seahawks career trying to bring in.

Wide Receiver 3
2005 – Bobby Engram
2013 – Doug Baldwin

Bobby Engram was Doug Baldwin before Doug Baldwin was even a twinkle in the Seahawks’ eye!  Engram was Hasselbeck’s 3rd Down security blanket just as Baldwin is that for Wilson today.  And, when other receivers went down – as they seemingly always did – Engram was able to pick up the slack, just like Baldwin has this year after Rice went down.

I’m giving the nod to Baldwin for a couple reason.  Even though Engram caught 17 more passes, they caught the same exact number of yards:  778.  Doug Baldwin is the more explosive receiver.  He can go downfield and make a big play FAR more regularly than Engram ever could.  While he may play in the slot, Baldwin isn’t just a traditional slot receiver like Engram was.  Baldwin can play all over, yet still be that security blanket on third down who finds the hole in the zone or makes the diving sideline grab.

Tight End
2005 – Jerramy Stevens
2013 – Zach Miller

I probably shouldn’t let my emotions get the better of me, but in this case I can’t help it.  2005 Jerramy Stevens’ numbers absolutely dwarf Zach Miller’s, and if he even REMOTELY lived up to the hype coming into his pro career, Jerramy Stevens would be a beloved individual around these parts.  Instead, he sucked dick, and is beloved in Pittsburgh for handing them the Super Bowl.  So, Zach Miller gets the nod (plus, Miller is actually a true tight end who blocks well and does the whole thing; Stevens was a glorified, overweight wide receiver and not a very good one at that).

So, if you add it up for both sides, 2005 gets the edge on Offensive Line, Running Back (an extension of the offensive line), and one of the three wide receivers.  2013 wins on Quarterback play, Tight End, and 2/3 of the wide receivers.  If I’m weighting things as I should, it’s pretty neck and neck.  Offensive line is the most important part of any football team, so they factor in pretty heavily.  QB comes next.  And, I figure the receivers and tight end equal out the Shaun Alexander MVP factor.  I’m calling it a wash across the board.  But, you can’t just call it a tie, so let’s go to the numbers:

2005:  452 points, 5,915 yards, 1,020 total plays, 5.8 yards per play, 17 turnovers
2013:  417 points, 5,424 yards, 973 total plays, 5.6 yards per play, 19 turnovers

Look, by the slimmest of margins, I’m giving 2005 the nod over 2013 on offense.  There are pieces there to cobble together the greatest offense of all time (2005 O-Line with 2013’s skill position players), but if you want the truth, I’m going to go with the offense that scored more points.  It’s kind of as simple as that.

***

Let’s hop right into the defenses.

2005 Defensive Line
Bryce Fisher (DE)
Grant Wistrom (DE)
Rocky Bernard (DT)
Marcus Tubbs (DT)
Chuck Darby (DT)

2013 Defensive Line
Red Bryant (DE)
Chris Clemons (DE)
Brandon Mebane (DT)
Cliff Avril (DE)
Michael Bennett (DE/DT)
Tony McDaniel (DT)
Clinton McDonald (DT)

This goes without question.  I mean, LOOK at that rotation!  The 2013 Seahawks can come up with any number of fronts, whereas the 2005 version pretty much ran out the same four guys play-in and play-out.  I would argue that Mebane was just as disruptive up the middle as Tubbs.  Michael Bennett can do just as much as Rocky Bernard on the inside (as far as pass rush is concerned), as well as have the ability to slide outside and rush on the edge.  Grant Wistrom was less of a joke than a nightmare I’m still trying to wake up from.  No contest.  Next song.

2005 Linebackers
Leroy Hill
D.D. Lewis
Lofa Tatupu

2013 Linebackers
K.J. Wright
Malcolm Smith
Bobby Wagner
Bruce Irvin

In 2005, you had Leroy Hill and Lofa Tatupu as rookies, and therefore at the height of their powers and physicality.  But, Tatupu was never good enough to hold Bobby Wagner’s jock, and the combination of Wright & Smith is WAY more versatile than Leroy Hill ever was.  Hill was great at run-stuffing, and he managed 7.5 sacks in his rookie campaign, but there’s more to linebacker than simply running forward.  You’ve got to run laterally, and backward.  You’ve got to play in coverage, and that’s where the 2013 crew has it all over the 2005 crew.  Which is odd, because those Holmgren defenses were known for their speed.  Here’s the thing:  2013 HAS that speed, but they’ve also got size and versatility.  Again, no contest.  Next song.

2005 Secondary
Marcus Trufant
Kelly Herndon
Michael Boulware
Marquand Manuel
Jordan Babineaux
Ken Hamlin
Etric Pruitt

2013 Secondary
Richard Sherman
Byron Maxwell
Earl Thomas
Kam Chancellor
Brandon Browner
Walter Thurmond
Jeremy Lane

I could have stopped after just Richard Sherman – with he alone covering all of the other team’s receivers – and he would have beaten out the 2005 secondary.  I was going to split them up by cornerbacks and safeties, but what’s the point?  It’s laughable how terrible that 2005 secondary was.  Luckily for the 2005 team, they were frequently playing with a lead.  It’s a lot easier to play defense with a lead than it is from behind.

On the whole, it’s not even close.  2013 defense in a landslide.  In fact, I don’t know if there are any guys on that 2005 team would would even PLAY on the 2013 version!  I don’t think anyone turns down a 2005 Rocky Bernard.  And I know 2005 Bryce Fisher had 9.0 sacks, but does he have the ability to stuff the run like Chris Clemons does?  I mean, maybe Fisher cracks the defensive end rotation, but most of those 2005 guys are backups at best on the 2013 team.  I’ll tell you this much:  I’m starting Byron Maxwell over Marcus Trufant every day of the week.

***

In conclusion, the 2013 Seahawks are the better team.  You pit them against the 2005 Seahawks, one game, winner takes all, it’s the 2013 team by a comfortable margin.  2013’s defensive line might struggle to get pressure on the quarterback, and it’s 50/50 whether or not the 2005 team runs the ball well.  But, there’s no way 2005 is throwing all that well against 2013’s secondary.

For the record, nothing would bring me greater joy than to see Kam Chancellor knock the shit out of Jerramy Stevens.  I don’t even mean in any hypothetical matchup between these two teams.  I mean in real life.  Kam Chancellor hunts Jerramy Stevens down, wherever he’s living, and he fucks his shit up.  For real.

Is John Moffitt Crazy?

This is kind of old news, but I didn’t comment on it when it was new news, so I’m commenting on it now, because we’re in the midst of a BYE week and there’s nothing else to talk about.

For a point of reference, go ahead and read this article.

John Moffitt was drafted by the Seattle Seahawks in the third round of the NFL draft in 2011.  This is the same year the Seahawks drafted James Carpenter in the first round to be a right tackle.  Moffitt was the next pick for us (we traded down & out of the second round to give ourselves a third rounder – which was originally traded to San Diego in that Charlie Whitehurst deal – and a fourth rounder) and he was destined to be a guard.  There were always whispers that both Carpenter and Moffitt would be guards, but at the time this was going to be the right side of our offensive line.

Both suffered season-ending injuries as rookies.  Moffitt also had the indignity of being suspended for adderall.  In 2012, the Seahawks went after some more linemen (albeit later in the draft, and among the undrafted rookies) and came away with J.R. Sweezy, a converted defensive lineman slated to play guard.  Thanks to further injuries & ineffectiveness, Sweezy supplanted Moffitt as the team’s starting right guard.  There was a little time-share between the two, but for the most part Moffitt was little more than offensive line depth.  He was no longer the future for this team.

So, in the pre-season of 2013, Moffitt was traded to the Broncos for a guy we would later cut.  Moffitt played a bit for the Broncos, but again was mostly just offensive line depth.  Earlier this month, Moffitt decided to retire, in the middle of his third year in the league, while on a Super Bowl-contending team.

Obviously, this is not a usual situation.  You don’t see guys retiring like this every day.  Usually, you see guys retire because they’ve been cut and nobody else wants them.  Sometimes, you see guys retire because their bodies physically won’t allow them to continue playing the game they love.  Every once in a while, guys will be allowed to retire on their own terms, content with the decision they’ve made and the career they’ve fashioned.

Rarely do you see guys retire simply because they’re not happy.  And they’re concerned about what the game could be doing to their bodies.  When a team actually still wants them to continue playing for them.  Leaving money and a lifetime of benefits on the table.

I don’t think John Moffitt is crazy.  Frankly, I respect the man now more than ever.  He seems pretty secure financially (or, at least, he seems pretty secure in his abilities to survive financially post-football), he seems content with his decision, and if you’re so unhappy doing something like this, you owe it to yourself, your teammates, and that team’s fans to remove yourself from the situation.  You’re not helping anyone by just going through the motions.

The one thing I don’t really understand is:  couldn’t this have waited until after the season ended?  This seems like a rather impulsive decision given the circumstances.  He retired on November 5th, after Denver’s BYE week, mere days from their Week 10 football game.  Best-case scenario, he would have had to endure eight more weeks in the league; that’s if Denver somehow collapsed and missed the playoffs entirely.  Worst-case scenario, he would have had to endure 13 more weeks in the league; that’s if Denver made it all the way to the Super Bowl.

He couldn’t wait three months?

I won’t sit here and pretend I know what it’s like to be John Moffitt.  As a youth, I endured one gasping, panting, exhausting practice of football pre-high school before quitting.  Then, I ended up playing all of Freshman year in high school before quitting again, with little fanfare, prior to my Sophomore year.  As a career third-stringer, I played sparingly.  I was a big, out of shape right tackle / defensive tackle.  I never once saw a playbook, I somehow missed out on Picture Day, and I only got into games once our team was up 40 late in the second half of games (we had a great Freshman football team that, as Seniors, would play for a state championship; hat tip to running back Marcus Trufant for being our all star).  You wouldn’t have even known I’d ever played football in high school, except for my signature at the tip of the championship football we all signed after ending a perfect Freshman season.  I had neither the dedication, the drive, nor the talent to be the kind of football player John Moffitt turned out to be.  I quit football mostly because I was lazy, and because offensive line was the least-sexiest position in football.  I didn’t respect the offensive line like I do now, because I was a stupid high school kid and I didn’t know any better.

I also didn’t know any better about the health risks, but I’m sure that wouldn’t have been my primary reason for quitting if I had.  Nevertheless, he couldn’t wait another three months before retiring?

I’m sorry, but that lifetime of benefits (whatever they may be), would be too enticing to give up.  I’m sure they’re not the best benefits in the world, but combine them with the game checks he would have received, and that’s a nice little start to your post-football career!

When you think about it, he wasn’t even a starter anymore.  So, really, while he’s putting in three months of work, they’re really just three months of practice.  PRACTICE!  You’re telling me you couldn’t have handled three months of practice before leaving it all behind?

I’m not even talking about finishing out his contract (which ran through next year, and surely would have been honored, because he was making a relatively small amount of money compared to other NFL players – yet a relatively large amount of money compared to us normies not in the league), I’m just talking about PRACTICE!  I’m not in much better shape than I was in high school, nor have my offensive lineman skills improved one lick, yet I’m sure I could endure three months of practice to get whatever benefits he left on the table and whatever game checks he had coming to him.

But, whatever, you know?  He’s happy with his decision, and I totally get that.  Some of my happiest, most giddy days in my entire life were those days where I’d quit my job.  That feeling of walking out of a hell-hole for the last time, with the rest of those suckers tied to their desks and their dead-end jobs, had me practically skipping with joy down the street.  Life is never so sweet as those moments right there.  Mostly because it immediately goes downhill as you realize you have no idea how you’re going to support yourself going forward.

John Moffitt strikes me as one of the few football player-types I’d actually like to get a beer with or something.  You have to respect a guy who is willing to throw away not only the rest of this year’s salary, but next year’s salary, health benefits, and the very real potential for a second contract (if not with Denver, then surely with SOME needy NFL team).  If he played his cards right, he could have carved himself a nice little 8-year career (or more) playing football.  I’m not (too) dense.  I understand that the NFL lifestyle probably isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.  There’s got to be a lot of hardships that are downplayed or hidden entirely from the public at large.  We, as fans, sit here and lionize these players because football is the greatest sport in the world.  But, we have a hard time relating to these same players because they’re so unlike us.  So, we’re taken aback by guys like John Moffitt when he shows he is, in fact, JUST like us.  He has wants and needs and desires outside of the life of professional football just like everybody else.  Yet, he’s treated as a circus freak for willingly leaving The Life.

Well, count me as one fan who welcomes him back to regular, everyday life with open arms.  And if I do happen to run into him at a bar, I hope I’ll be the first (that day) to buy the guy a beer and chew his ear off about various topics NOT related to life in the NFL.

Previewing & Predicting The 2013 Seattle Seahawks

Last year, I got to my predictions column late.  Past week 1 late.  It was kind of a sorry development, but what are you gonna do?  The season was already started by this time last year.  Anyway, I didn’t think very highly of the Seahawks heading into the 2012 season.  I didn’t think very lowly of them either, which is how you get to an 8-8 record.  Honestly, I would’ve predicted 9-7, but since I got to my post a week late – and the Seahawks crapped the bed in Arizona that first week – I downgraded to 8-8.

The Seahawks, as everyone knows, finished 11-5, going 7-1 over the second half of the season, and 1-1 in the post-season, ending up in the Divisional Round of the playoffs.  Those last 10 games were as epic of a run as you can get without actually making it to the Super Bowl.

But, enough about last year.  That was damn near a year ago, for Christ’s sake!

This year, the sky is the limit.  At worst, the Seahawks will be 11-5.  At best, I’m sorry, but at best you’ve gotta say 16-0.

Before we get into official predictions, let’s take a look at the make-up of this team:

Part 1 – Roster

How do the Seahawks differ from this time last year?  Well, for starters, our backup quarterback is new (or old, I can never tell).  Tarvar takes over for Matt Flynn, and to be honest with you, it’s probably a downgrade.  Obviously, we don’t know how good Flynn can really be (and, reports indicate that he can’t even win the fucking starting job on the RAIDERS of all teams), but I guess that’s the point.  We know what Tarvar is – he’s a near-.500 quarterback – and we don’t know what Flynn is.  Flynn could be great in small doses, Flynn could be great in large doses, or he could be terrible no matter the serving size.  If you’re a salary cap-head, then you like Tarvar because he saves you money.  So, maybe in the long run this is an upgrade?  Whatever, who cares, moving on.

At running back, Lynch and Turbin return, ostensibly in the same roles they occupied as last year.  Christine Michael replaces Leon Washington, which is an improvement at our #3 running back spot, but hurts us in the return game, as Michael is not a returner.  Derrick Coleman takes over for Michael Robinson, which is a soul-crushing blow.  But, on the flipside, he’s younger, cheaper, and under team control for longer.  Considering Robinson only played somewhere around 30% of our offensive snaps in 2012, I can’t imagine this one little move at fullback is going to make that much of a difference.  Finally, Spencer Ware is either going to be a special teams replacement for Robinson, or he’s going to spend the bulk of the season on the Inactive List on gameday.  We’ll see.

Rice, Tate, Baldwin, and Kearse are all hold-overs from last year.  Kearse, of course, spent most of 2012 on the Practice Squad, but came on late in a special teams capacity.  I wouldn’t expect a TON out of him, but then again he is going to be our starting kick returner, so buttons.  He did, after all, return that one kick in the pre-season for a touchdown.  If he turns out to be a monster in that aspect of the game, I might cream in my pants.  Harvin starts out the season on the PUP list and will hopefully return sometime in November.  Stephen Williams – the pre-season phenom – is holding his seat for the time being.  It’s hard to see this team keep five active receivers going every game (remember, you can only play 45 of your 53 guys every gameday), but then again, can you really keep this guy off the field?  I’d like to see the Seahawks throw one long bomb jump ball to him every half; I bet he comes down with half of them, and in so doing earns his weekly paycheck.

This year, we’re only keeping the two tight ends, instead of last year’s three.  The lone holdover is the uber-talented Zach Miller.  He’s our starter and our muse (our flame).  Anthony McCoy, as you’ll recall, is lost for the season on IR.  Evan Moore, thankfully, is no more.  In his place, we actually have a guy worth a damn in Luke Willson.  Even though Willson is a rookie, he looks like the real deal and the future at the position we’ve been trying so hard for so long to draft.

Our starting O-Line remains intact, which is probably the most important thing outside of quarterback you want to remain intact.  Okung, McQuistan, Unger, Sweezy, and Giacomini are the guys, with James Carpenter getting worked in (over time, to be the full-time replacement at left guard).  Lemuel Jean-Pierre returns as our backup center, Mike Person returns as our backup … something.  Michael Bowie and Alvin Bailey are a couple of rookie projects who came on strong this pre-season.  Gone is John Moffitt, traded to Denver for being not worth the time or effort.

On the D-Line, Clemons, Bryant, and Mebane all return.  Clemons avoided the PUP list, as he is a specimen of the gods and will hopefully start practicing within the next couple weeks.  Everyone else is brand new.  Avril & Bennett are our two big free agent splashes.  Both are kinda hurt, but both should be okay to play out of the gate (if not, then expect one or both to be Inactive right along with Clemons for Week 1).  Tony McDaniel is a less-heralded signing, but his impact will be just as important as he will be our starting 3-technique defensive tackle.  Jordan Hill is a rookie who survived pre-season mostly healthy.  He’ll get regular playing time in the defensive tackle rotation.  Jesse Williams, unfortunately yet predictably, landed on IR with his bum knee.  O’Brien Schofield and D’Anthony Smith are cast-offs from other teams who we know little about.  Schofield spent most of the pre-season in Seattle and was fine, I guess.  Smith came over after the cut-downs to 53 and has been injured most of his career.  Questionable move to say the least, but obviously John Schneider and Pete Carroll know something we do not.  Rounding out the group, we have Benson Mayowa, an undrafted rookie out of Idaho who led the team in sacks in the pre-season.  He looks like he’s got some real moves, but unless injuries deplete this team early, it’s hard to see him getting a lot of playing time.

At Linebacker, K.J. Wright and Bobby Wagner return, ready to kick some more ass.  Malcolm Smith also returns and figures to get some playing time at the strong-side spot.  Bruce Irvin has converted to the strong side, but of course he’s suspended for the first four games.  It’ll be interesting to see – A. whose spot he takes upon returning in week 5, and B. how he fares as a pass-rushing linebacker.  The team found room for special teams lord & savior Heath Farwell, so look for that unit to continue demolishing other teams.  Allen Bradford was around last year, but never played.  Now, he’s our backup middle linebacker and might find a way to work himself into a rotation if he keeps up the good work.  Rounding it out, we have John Lotulelei, who will probably never play unless he stands out on special teams.

In the secondary, Marcus Trufant has been replaced by Walter Thurmond, who was injured for most of his career.  Antoine Winfield was let go because our younger guys were just plain better.  Jeremy Lane and Byron Maxwell could be starters for other teams, which is what makes this unit the best in football.  At safety, Winston Guy was let go.  He was kinda flashy, and he blitzed a lot last year, but he didn’t really do a whole lot and shouldn’t be missed.  Chris Maragos is super fast, so he shouldn’t be too much of a step back if Earl Thomas can’t play.  Kam Chancellor and Jeron Johnson round out the group of safeties; Brandon Browner and Richard Sherman complete the set.

Kicker, punter, and long snapper all return.

Part 2 – Analyzing The Roster

Working our way backward, the Special Teams looks as good as it ever has.  Steven Hauschka, as I’ve mentioned before, has been a man possessed this pre-season.  Jon Ryan is Jon Ryan, putting in consistent MVP-quality work.  Clint Gresham hasn’t botched any snaps that I can recall, so bully for him.

In the secondary, you can’t help but be excited for Walter Thurmond.  He’s finally healthy and finally able to show what he can do for this team.  He’s a HUGE upgrade over an aging Marcus Trufant, and that’s important because nickel corner was one of our main areas of concern going into 2013.  To be fair, this team could play a Dime package all day every day and I wouldn’t lose sleep.  Maxwell looks like he could make the Pro Bowl THIS year if he was given a chance to start.

At linebacker, you have to believe this team also improved.  Leroy Hill is gone and they’ve done some shuffling.  K.J. Wright moves to his old spot at the weak-side, so that’s great.  You always want more speed, especially at the linebacker position.  Wagner, with a year under his belt and a chip on his shoulder to prove he doesn’t belong in Luke Kuechly’s shadow, also looked like a man possessed this pre-season.  I expect a huge jump in his play in 2013, rivalling the jump Richard Sherman made from his rookie to his second year.  On the strong side, replacing Wright, we’ve got the combo of Malcolm Smith and eventually Bruce Irvin.  It looks like the team wants the strong side ‘backer to be more of a pass-rush threat, hence the Irvin move.  I love the idea.  Any way this team can get more pressure on the QB that isn’t just sending a safety on a blitz that takes forever to materialize, I’m all for it.  The depth at this position is infinitely better than it was last year too.  Bradford could start on almost any other team, and Lotulelei looks like he could develop into a force if given the chance.

Along the D-Line, you have to have concern, I’m not gonna lie.  Can McDaniel and Hill make up for the loss of Alan Branch and Jason Jones?  When he was healthy, Jones was fairly effective.  And Branch was a starter for the past couple years.  If they can just maintain and not take a step back, I’d be happy.  Also, how long will Mebane be able to stay healthy?  He’s no spring chicken.  Depth at tackle is also a concern.  The Seahawks gave away a couple of decent depth guys in Jaye Howard and Clinton McDonald.  In their place, we have newcomer D’Anthony Smith, and Michael Bennett on passing downs.  Bennett should be solid, but I just don’t know.

On the ends of the line, it’s just as concerning.  Red Bryant returns, and he looks as healthy as ever, so that’s good.  But, he’s still a mountain of a man, and those guys don’t tend to stay healthy for very long.  Clemons we’ve talked about, but it’s still encouraging that he’ll be back soon.  Avril is a little less encouraging, as he hasn’t played at all in pre-season.  The Seahawks robbed Peter to pay Paul a little bit by moving Irvin out of the LEO end spot.  Unless Clemons and/or Avril return soon, this could be a real weakness for the team.  Remember, Greg Scruggs could play both inside and outside, and he’s gone for the year too.  Unless Schofield or Mike Morgan (who I failed to mention above in the roster section) step up in a big way, I think this team is going to be hurting for sacks.  Then again, the first two games are against Carolina and San Francisco, so we should probably worry less about sacks and more about contain.  Either way, it could be rocky for this unit early.

I’m not worried about the O-Line.  If there’s anything I’m rock solid on this year, it’s that.  Even the injury bug doesn’t concern me, because the depth looks good, and Tom Cable is a wizard.

Seeing Luke Willson perform the way he did in the pre-season makes me a LOT more comfortable about the tight end position.  Let’s see if Zach Miller has what it takes to stay on the field for the full go.  If not, then I’m probably going to spend the rest of the season hyperventilating.

I absolutely LOVE what we’ve done with the wide receivers on this team.  Braylon Edwards was never going to be a player worth having.  I’d take Stephen Williams over him any day.  Ben Obomanu was solid on special teams, but he’s worse than Jermaine Kearse.  And when Harvin returns, he’s like a million billion times better than Charly Martin.  Most improved lineup on the team by FAR.

I just kinda like what they did with the running backs.  In a perfect world, football teams would keep 54 players and Michael Robinson would still be on this one.  But, you know, you’ve gotta move on.  Hopefully Derrick Coleman is the next Michael Robinson.  If that’s the case, then we truly are the king of kings.  Also, look for Christine Michael to supplant Turbin before season’s end.  And in a couple years, when Michael is our starting back and Ware is our big tough guy backup, we’ll continue to suck the dicks of John Schneider and Pete Carroll for their foresight and vision.

Russell Wilson.  All you gotta say about the quarterback position.  Stud.  Winner.  Champion.

Part 3 – The Schedule

Week 1 – @ Carolina, 10am:  This is where it pays off having played Russell Wilson the full season last year.  He (along with some shaky late-game defense) cost us that first game in Arizona.  This year, with that in mind, count on Wilson not letting us lose in week 1.  Honestly, I don’t think this will even be close.  Maybe the offense starts out sluggish early, but I think the defense comes to play and we lean on them all game long.

Week 2 – vs. San Francisco, 5:30pm:  Home opener, Sunday Night Football on NBC, the crowd absolutely fucking INSANE … this is where the Seahawks show the 49ers what power football is all about.  Another one I don’t think is all that close.

Week 3 – vs. Jacksonville, 1pm:  Can you say 3-0?  Anyone who has the Seahawks defense in fantasy football can bank on scoring anywhere from 30-60 points, depending on how you score it in your league.  This is the reason why we all drafted them at least three rounds too early.

Week 4 – @ Houston, 10am
Week 5 – @ Indianapolis, 10am:  I’m lumping these together because I’m a coward.  The Seahawks will go 1-1 in these two games, but I just can’t figure out which they’ll win and which they’ll lose.  If you look at it objectively, Houston has a great running game and an okay passing game.  When you figure that our defense is great against the pass, but only so-so against the run, you have to look at that game and figure it’s the loss, right?  Meanwhile, Indy can’t run for shit and they pass 50 times a game.  Nevertheless, my gut is telling me we beat the Texans and lose to the Colts.  Luck is a gamer, he gets better as the game goes on, and I could see this being one of those games like we had against the Lions last season.  High scoring, little defense, and Indy pulls it out at the end with a late TD.  Meanwhile, the Seahawks win ugly in Houston, something like 14-10.

Week 6 – vs. Tennessee, 1pm:  Another easy win.  This will be the game I attend this year, because tickets were reasonably easy to get, weren’t prohibitively expensive, and honestly I don’t care if I go to any games, so what does the opponent matter?  No reason to expect Russell Wilson to play beyond the 3rd quarter in this one.

Week 7 – @ Arizona, 5pm:  Thursday night game, the bane of my existence.  But, I promise to not bitch about them as much this year (unless the games are so ugly and boring, the NFL forces my hand).  Normally, I’d be concerned, but not this year.  Carson Palmer will spend more time on his back than he will on his feet (if he’s even still healthy at this point in the year).  The Seahawks win ugly, but they win, and the defense scores another touchdown.

Week 8 – @ St. Louis, 5:30pm:  Monday Night Football!  Why does the league even schedule the Seahawks to play on the road on nationally televised games?  It’s like they’re tired of showing the rest of the world what real fans look like.  I guess St. Louis could pose a challenge, but I just don’t see it.  Look for something like 24-19, with the Rams scoring late (missing the 2-point conversion) to make it semi-close.

Week 9 – vs. Tampa Bay, 1pm:  I think Tampa looks good this year, but I think they look bad in this game.  Think of it as something like the game vs. Minnesota last year and you’ll be on the right track.  The Bucs are going somewhere, but they’re not contenders.

Week 10 – @ Atlanta, 10am:  Revenge Game!  Still, at this point the Seahawks will be 8-1 coming in.  And Atlanta (and Matt Ryan) just don’t lose at home.  I could honestly see something of a carbon copy of last year’s game, with Atlanta pulling it out at the end.

Week 11 – vs. Minnesota, 1pm:  Total destruction.  No contest.  YOU think YOU can get soup?  Please!  You’re wasting everyone’s time!

Week 12 – BYE:  finally.

Week 13 – vs. New Orleans, 5:30pm:  Monday Night Football #2!  This one is a little scary.  You can’t shut down Drew Brees forever.  Then again, he does take a lot of unnecessary risks, and his receivers really don’t scare anybody.  I think we all get a little nervous for this one, but I think the Seahawks handle them pretty easily.  33-13.

Week 14 – @ San Francisco, 1pm:  Man, what a showdown THIS game will be.  Last year, the Seahawks caught the 49ers at home late.  This year, the tables are turned.  Everyone and their grandmothers are giving this game away to the 49ers, forgetting that the Seahawks last year – in San Francisco – nearly came away victorious.  There were mistakes in the first half that I just don’t think this team makes again.  I think it’s a slug-fest, but I think the Seahawks take the season series and effectively clinch the division right here.  At this point, the 49ers won’t be mathematically eliminated, but they’ll be a couple games back and they’ll have lost the tie-breaker.  Week 14 is where the Super Bowl berth is earned, because week 14 is where the Seahawks make their statement that the #1 seed won’t be denied.

Week 15 – @ New York Giants, 10am:  Another east-coast trip, another 10am start.  Coming after the insane high that was the victory in San Francisco, I see this as a total let-down game.  The Seahawks get off to a slow start and the Giants pull too far ahead.  Russell Wilson tries to engineer a comeback, but too many turnovers seal our fate.

Week 16 – vs. Arizona, 1pm:  At this point, the Seahawks will be 11-3 going into this game.  The #1 seed won’t yet be won, but we’ll have the inside track, at least a game up and also with tie-breaker advantages.  This is a TCB type of game.  It won’t be a massive 58-0 obliteration like last year, but it’ll be comfortable.  We won’t worry for one second about losing this game.

Week 17 – vs. St. Louis, 1pm:  I’d like to say that this has a chance to be flexed, but at this point, with nothing to play for, I just don’t see it.  Russell Wilson will play for a quarter, maybe a half, but then Tarvar will come in and finish it off.  He’s no Charlie Whitehurst, but he’ll do.

Part 4 – Conclusion

13-3.  Number 1 seed in the NFC, with home field all the way to the Super Bowl.  It’s not the easiest schedule in the world, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned it’s that you don’t necessarily WANT an easy path to the Super Bowl.  The 2005 Seahawks had one of the easier paths to Super Bowl XL and look at what happened when a team finally posed a challenge.  You want a little trial by fire in this league.  If a schedule is too difficult, that means your team wasn’t good enough.  Bottom line.  Don’t fear this schedule.  A famous writer said that the strongest steel is forged by the fires of Hell.  That’s what we’ll be come playoff time, and that’s what we’ll be in the Super Bowl.

Seahawks’ Backups Better Than Chargers’ Backups

The Seahawks, under Pete Carroll, have moved to 8-5 all-time in Pre-Season games.  And, if you think that’s a dumb statistic, then congratulations, you understand the very importance of Pre-Season games!

Of course, as with any exhibition game, there were a number of stand-out players last night.  Tarvar looked like one of the most elite quarterbacks in the NFL, which just goes to show you:  the Seahawks have the greatest third-string quarterback in all of football!  YEAH!

And, if you think I’m going to relent on this Tarvar-bashing, you’re insane.  The moment I let my guard down, that’s the moment Russell Wilson breaks a femur and we’re stuck with Tarvar for the rest of the year (and, consequently, I’m out $700).  I’m guess I’m not 100% behind my previous statement that I’d rather have Brady Quinn, but what does it matter?  The death knell for Brady Quinn happened when he came off the bench as the second quarterback in this game.  Remember last year when Matt Flynn kept playing before Russell Wilson, then it turned out this team was giving Russell Wilson every opportunity to win the job?  That’s what they’re doing with Tarvar right now.  Let Quinn fluster about against tougher second-string defenses while Tarvar cleans up against future waiver wire guys.  Everyone’s panties get all moist over Tarvar’s perfect passer rating, and BOOM, he’s the second string guy and Quinn is out on his ass.  Meanwhile, Quinn gets lulled into a false sense of security because he thinks he’s got the upper hand by playing in the second-string role.  Little does he know, the unforgiving sword of doom dangles just overhead.

I thought Christine Michael looked good, as a running back.  You’ll notice he bobbled the first San Diego kickoff to us; I don’t know if that was nerves or what, but a rookie return man is pretty much my worst nightmare.  Is it too late to toss the Patriots a 7th round pick for the rights to take back Leon Washington?

Also, speaking of Michael, I said it on Twitter last night and I’m saying it again here:  the Seahawks will release Guns Turbin.  That’s my hunch.  It’s a tough decision, but what are you going to do?  Keep five running backs (Lynch, Robinson, Michael, Ware, & Turbin)?  What’s the point?  Michael is CLEARLY this team’s future.  Turbin might also be its future, but he’ll end up being its Future Maurice Morris.  I’ll ask it again:  why would you go to all the trouble to keep a future backup running back, when you’ve already got one in Ware?  In a year or two from now, when Lynch is gone, this team will be led by Michael and backed up by Ware.  It might even produce a sour spot for fantasy owners as I can envision Ware getting the bulk of the goalline carries.  What I can’t envision is Turbin somehow wrangling that starting running back position.  Michael does everything Turbin does, only he does it faster, with more explosiveness and more grit & determination.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you.  There are too many important bubble guys at other positions that our rivals will be all too willing to poach.  Let them have Turbin; I guarantee that does not ever come back to bite us in the ass.

Stephen Williams had a sick game, with two 40+ yard receptions and a touchdown.  People are already handing him the keys to his very own 53-man roster spot, to which I say, “Slow down, Skippy!”  It’s one meaningless game.  I know he has looked good in practice, but let’s see him consistently do it throughout the rest of this month before we go overboard.

As for the rest of the offense, I didn’t watch closely enough to have anyone make much of an impression.  That first play by Russell Wilson looked good (play-action roll out pass to Kearse), but other than that it appeared he needed to shake out the cobwebs.  You really don’t want to read too much into his first two possessions of the season, so let’s not go nuts.  I’ll just say that I expect him to look better next week and leave it at that.

The defense didn’t show me much of anything on that first drive, as San Diego sliced and diced their way through us like Ginsu Terminators.  Saying we played “vanilla defense” is one thing, but at some point your talent needs to step up there and shut down their talent mano a mano.  Our starting 11 on defense should be able to stand still pre-snap, rush four, play in a soft zone, and STILL be able to shut down the San Diego Chargers.  But, again, I’m not going to make too big a deal out of the first drive of the season.  Still, you’ve got to figure that’s the most jacked-up those guys have felt about playing football since the 2012 season ended.  I kind of expected frothing at the mouth intensity and instead I saw a lot of sloppy play and penalties.

Mike Morgan got the start at the Leo defensive end and showed me absolutely nothing.  I know the Chargers kept it simple with a lot of short drops and quick throws, but still.  His technique left a lot to be desired (and left me hoping for a speedier recovery for Chris Clemons).

Walter Thurmond sure got tossed around like a ragdoll, didn’t he?  I was having Marcus Trufant circa 2012 flashbacks last night.  Always a step slow and a step behind his man.  That’s no way to throw yourself into the conversation for starting nickel corner.

Byron Maxwell with the pick – and the almost-second pick – sure looks good out there.  He’s one of those bubble guys I’m talking about.  Do we want to keep Guns Turbin and let Maxwell sign with the 49ers?  Or, do we want to toss a backup, mid-round running back out into the world to sign for somebody’s minimum and probably hardly play any snaps (while keeping Maxwell and using him for either insurance, or trade bait for future draft picks)?

After all that, my night was pretty much lost to Coors Light, thoughts of my fantasy football draft, and losing scratch tickets.  There were some bubble linemen who made an impression and that’s great; again, I’ll say, “What can you do for me next week, and the week after that?”

All in all, it was an enjoyable win.  One thing is for certain:  even Brady Quinn is a better quarterback than Charlie Whitehurst.  Kinda makes you wonder about those Seahawks fans who were calling for him to be a starter over Hasselbeck that one year … WHITEHURST IS GOING TO BE BEAT-OUT BY A ROOKIE FROM SOUTHERN UTAH!

The Greatest Seahawks First Round Draft Picks Of All Time

In honor of the Seattle Seahawks not having a draft pick last night, I decided to go through all the drafts and rank all the best Seahawks first rounders. 

I don’t want to shock you, but there are Hall of Famers on this list!  There are some Ring of Honor folks, there are some good players, there are some guys still playing, and there are busts.  A whole lotta busts.  And not-busts who are just sorta sub-par.  You get the idea.

I didn’t totally discredit what these players may have done once they left the team, but I weighted heavily their time in Seattle.  For the record, there are people I’ve never heard of on this list, as well as people I don’t remember very well (because who remembers offensive linemen from teams they followed when they were five?), so don’t expect the most thorough of analysis.  Just sit back and bask at how much you disagree with my order.

The Hall of Famers

1.  Walter Jones (1997, #6 overall)
2.  Cortez Kennedy (1990, #3 overall)

You know me (no, you don’t), I love me some Tez.  That guy was right behind Steve Largent for my Most Favorite Football Player Of All Time pretty much since he won Defensive Player of the Year back in the day 1992.  But, Walter Jones is Walter Jones.  Cortez Kennedy is a Hall of Famer, but Walter Jones might be the best who has ever played his position.  He’s a legend.  And if you don’t think he’s a legend, go look up some stories about his off-season training regimen.  How many guys do you know who go around pulling cars to get in football shape?

The Ring of Honor-ers

3.  Shaun Alexander (2000, #19 overall)
4.  Jacob Green (1980, #10 overall)
5.  Kenny Easley (1981, #4 overall)

Shaun Alexander is the best running back to ever put on a Seahawks uniform.  He was an MVP, he set the single-season touchdown record (until it was broken by LDT the very next year), and he led us to a Super Bowl.  THAT’S why he’s ranked ahead of the other two.  Jacob Green is the career sacks leader in team history.  And Kenny Easley is one of the greatest safeties in league history.  Had he not been injured, he would’ve been in the Hall of Fame.  Easily.

Next-Tier, Really Good Players

6.  Steve Hutchinson (2001, #17 overall)
7.  Marcus Trufant (2003, #11 overall)
8.  Jeff Bryant (1982, #6 overall)
9.  John L. Williams (1986, #15 overall)
10.  Curt Warner (1983, #3 overall)
11.  Joey Galloway (1995, #8 overall)
12.  Earl Thomas (2010, #14 overall)

I can’t imagine Hutch ever making the Ring of Honor, simply because he played elsewhere for longer than he played for Seattle.  Though, had Ruskell not fucked things up so royally, Hutch would’ve been on the inside track and probably would’ve landed at #3 on this list.  Good going, stupid.

People are kind of down on Marcus Trufant because he’s old and washed up, but you have to remember that for most of a decade he was a quality starter for this team.  Right out of college!  Remember all those shitty secondaries that were run out there by Ruskell?  Well, don’t lump Trufant into that group, because he was the only thing holding the back end of our defense together!

Jeff Bryant was another quality starter for our defensive line through most of the 80s.  He and Jacob Green really tormented opposing quarterbacks.  Bryant lands at 3rd all time in sacks.

We can argue John L. Williams and Curt Warner’s spots on this list until the cows come home.  Curt Warner had 6,705 rushing hards, good for third on the Seahawks career rushing list.  And that’s WITH all his injuries that drastically shortened his career!  I mean, let’s face it, Warner is in the Ring of Honor and Williams is not.  Do the Seahawks know more about this than I do?  Probably, but here’s my rationale for putting John L. ahead of Curt.  Yes, Mr. Warner is third all time rushing.  But, John L. is fourth, with 4,579 rushing yards.  And don’t forget, John L. Williams was one of those hybrid fullbacks who could run you the ball, could block for you, and who caught a lot of passes.  471 to be precise, for 4,151 yards (6th all time).  If we’re talking total yardage, then we’re talking John L. Williams – 8,730, Curt Warner – 8,172.  Advantage:  me.

Joey Galloway was a firecracker when he hit the scene in 1995.  He would’ve been a surefire Ring of Honor guy too had he been willing to play ball and not hold out on Holmgren.  We ended up trading him, and he ended up having a nice little career for himself.  Injuries prevented him from really breaking some records, but his longevity was impressive considering what he was forced to play through.

Earl Thomas is a curious choice to have so high on this list, considering he has only played three seasons.  But, I’m giving him a little extra juice because I fully expect him to be great.  Also, not for nothing, but you’ll see why he’s so high as we get to the rest of the names.

Good Guys With Better Careers After Leaving Seattle

13.  Pete Kendall (1996, #21 overall)
14.  Sam Adams (1994, #8 overall)
15.  Shawn Springs (1997, #3 overall)

Pete Kendall played his first five years in Seattle and played pretty well along our line.  He was never a Pro Bowl guy, but paired with Walter Jones, he really helped improve this team’s running game.  Then again, who knows?  Maybe Walter Jones just made him look better than he really was.  Either way, he went on to Arizona and seemed to improve.  I think his three years as a Cardinal were better than any he had as a Seahawk.  He would go on to finish his career with the Jets and Redskins, playing many more years as a non-Seahawk than a Seahawk.

To be honest, I remember Sam Adams having all the potential in the world when we drafted him.  I also remember him largely being a disappointment.  I wouldn’t call him that; I like the guy.  I’ve got one of his old practice jerseys signed by him; I think he’s great.  But, you can’t deny the fact that he really stepped his game up once he left Seattle and started playing for Baltimore.  He was a Pro Bowler both seasons he was in a Ravens uniform.  And, oh yeah, he helped them win a Super Bowl with one of the best defenses of all time.

Shawn Springs had a couple of good seasons with the Seahawks, but he wasn’t worthy of hanging on to for the duration of his career.  I seem to remember him having a bigger impact with the Redskins than with the Seahawks, even if the numbers don’t necessarily bare that out.

Linemen!  (Both offensive & defensive, so leave me alone)

16.  Tony Woods (1987, #18 overall)
17.  Russell Okung (2010, #6 overall)
18.  Steve August (1977, #14 overall)
19.  Andy Heck (1989, #15 overall)
20.  Ray Roberts (1992, #10 overall)

Right here, we’re talking about guys who were starters, who were fairly productive, but who were never superstars.  The exception might be Okung, who has a lot of room to climb this list as long as he stays healthy and keeps his production up.

Old Guys I Know Next-To-Nothing About

21.  Terry Taylor (1984, #22 overall)
22.  Keith Simpson (1978, #9 overall)
23.  Manu Tuiasosopo (1979, #18 overall)

I went and looked them up on Pro Football Reference and I STILL have no idea who these people are or what they did for the Seahawks.  I know what Manu did for the Huskies, he fathered one of the greatest Husky quarterbacks of all time.  Good for you!

Disappointments

24.  Anthony Simmons (1998, #15 overall)
25.  Koren Robinson (2001, #9 overall)
26.  Rick Mirer (1993, #2 overall)
27.  Chris Spencer (2005, #26 overall)
28.  Kelly Jennings (2006, #31 overall)
29.  Jerramy Stevens (2002, #28 overall)

These are players who flashed some potential, but ultimately didn’t live up to the hype.  I always remember liking Simmons, and lamenting he couldn’t stay on the field.  I also forgot that he was a first round pick.  We all know about Koren Robinson.  He’s the guy who drank and drugged his way out of the league, right?  I don’t really care enough to look it up to confirm; all I know is that he was supposed to be a stud receiver for us and he wasn’t.  Mirer was the pick just AFTER Drew Bledsoe, who was drafted by the Patriots (who were also 2-14 in 1992).  Why was he drafted by the Patriots?  Because the Seahawks BEAT the Patriots, thereby giving the tie-breaker for the #1 overall pick to New England.  Spencer was supposed to lock down the center position for us for a decade; he did not.  Jennings was a joke, but he started for us because this team was incapable of finding anyone better.  The less said about Jerramy Stevens the better (because I hate that guy).

Hopefully NOT A Bust

30.  Bruce Irvin (2012, #15 overall)

He had a fine rookie season with 8 sacks.  Is that the best we’re ever going to get from him?  Or, will he explode for double-digits pretty soon?  It could go either way and it wouldn’t surprise me.  He could be a fast-climber on this list too if he plays his cards right.

A Supplemental Bust

31.  Brian Bosworth (1987 Supplemental Draft, #28.5 overall)

This guy, QUITE the character.  If you have a few hours to spare, I’d recommend reading his biography.  If you like The Boz, then I’d recommend NOT watching that 30 for 30 featuring Bo Jackson.  Because The Boz looks like The Bitch.

Injury Plagued

32.  Steve Niehaus (1976, #2 overall)
33.  Marcus Tubbs (2004, #23 overall)
34.  James Carpenter (2011, #25 overall)

The Seahawks entered the league at the same time as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.  The Bucs received the #1 overall pick.  That, and a lot of weird happenstance, has resulted in the Seahawks never having the #1 overall pick.  Ever.  Steve Niehaus was the first player drafted in franchise history and he was largely injured for his brief career.  Tubbs was a force on the inside during our Super Bowl run.  But, he got injured and never recovered.  He played in 29 games over 3 seasons and was out of the league.  Carpenter is a 2-year vet and he has finished both of his first two seasons on the IR.  Not a good sign.  Here’s to 2013 being where he turns his career around.

The Huge Busts

35.  Lawrence Jackson (2008, #28 overall)
36.  Aaron Curry (2009, #4 overall)
37.  Lamar King (1999, #22 overall)
38.  Chris McIntosh (2000, #22 overall)

L0-Jack was a microcosm of the Tim Ruskell years.  His inability to draft quality players in the lower half of the first round doomed this team.  Many other teams are able to find starters in the second and/or third rounds.  It would stand to reason, then, that you SHOULD be able to find a starter with the 28th overall pick in the first round.  Think again.

Because of all the shitty drafting, the Seahawks found themselves the very next year with the #4 overall pick.  Aaron Curry was the “safest” pick on the board and we all looked at him to dominate for years to come.  He did nothing of the sort and ultimately got Ruskell’s ass fired.

Mike Holmgren’s first couple drafts resulted in a couple of terrible players.  Lamar King was just a bad pick any way you slice it.  McIntosh was supposed to be good, but he couldn’t stay healthy (and was soon replaced by Steve Hutchinson).  Put them together, and you wonder how the Seahawks ever turned their fortunes around under Holmgren.

The Very Worst First Round Draft Pick In Seahawks History

39.  Dan McGwire (1991, #16 overall)

This doesn’t need a whole lot of explanation.  Rest assured, it’s picks like this and Mirer two years later that doomed this franchise to the wilderness for the entirety of the 1990s.