What The Seahawks Should Do At Backup Quarterback

Recent news indicates that Tarvaris Jackson is likely to test the free agent waters this year, in hopes of getting into a situation that either pays him more money and/or gives him a chance to compete for a starting job/puts him behind a quarterback who might be a little more injury-prone than Russell Wilson.  Your guess is as good as mine as to what Tarvar has been doing in recent offseasons.  This story makes it sound like he’s been settling for being Seattle’s backup because it’s comfortable and familiar.  My guess is that Seattle has indeed been giving him the best possible deal, as I can’t imagine the market is too hard-up for a guy who’s proven he’s a backup in this league and nothing more.

Granted, he’s one of the better backups across the league, but a backup he remains.

Still, if you’re Tarvar, you’re looking around at some of these teams in 2015 – struggles in Dallas, Philly, St. Louis, Frisco, Cleveland, Baltimore, and Houston – and you’ve got to be thinking that you’re better than the backups for those teams who were forced into action (Dallas and Baltimore, particularly) and in other cases, better than who they’re running out as starters (Cleveland, Houston, St. Louis and the rest).  So, yeah, it makes sense – if you want to give it a go as a real live NFL quarterback (and not just a seat-warmer on the bench) – to put yourself out there as a veteran alternative for some of these teams who don’t land their Quarterback of the Future in the NFL Draft or free agency.  At the very least, he’d be likelier to see the field playing behind someone a little less durable than Russell Wilson (boy, am I putting the whammy on our boy with this sentiment).

So, what we’re talking about is, for the first time in years, looking for a non-Tarvar backup.

All else being equal, I’d like to have Tarvar back again.  That’s going to mean many multiple teams pass him over for other alternatives, leaving him with a pretty bruised ego, but so be it.  If, however, for the sake of argument we’re talking about a Tarvar-less future, then there are two obvious routes you can take:  bring in a veteran, or draft/sign a rookie.

Seattle’s in a wonderful position in this regard, because we have Russell Wilson.  He’s a solid, franchise quarterback, still in the early-prime of his career.  We don’t necessarily NEED to bring in another starting candidate to push him.  Which means, obviously, backup quarterback is a position that you can save some money on (which is important, considering how much money Wilson is taking in).  Therefore, you won’t see the Seahawks using a high draft pick, and you won’t see them blowing out the bank on free agents like Cousins, Fitzpatrick, Osweiler, or Bradford (who will all be looking for opportunities to start somewhere anyway).

That puts us in the range of a low-round draft pick (maybe 5th or lower), an undrafted rookie, or one of the other veteran options out there on the market.

In looking at those veteran options … woof!  What a bunch of dogs!  When you think of a backup quarterback in our kind of situation (i.e. someone who is a clear backup and has no chance to be this team’s starter when all players are healthy), your BEST CASE scenario is a guy who will fill in for a few weeks and somehow manage to keep the team in/around .500.  A guy like Seneca Wallace back in the day is a perfect example of this.  We were lucky to have drafted him to play behind Hasselbeck, so he was cheap for many years.  If we can somehow do that again, that’s probably the most realistic ideal situation.  Looking at veteran options, someone like … Matt Hasselbeck last year with Indy.  He was able to fill in for a few games and led them to some quality wins!  Then, as the season dragged on, as Luck was unable to return and the games piled up, Hasselbeck was less and less effective.  Old guys getting hit a lot tend to break down, shocking I know.

This post by Field Gulls has a nice little list of free agent quarterbacks.  If you remove Tarvar (for the sake of argument), and you remove the four starting candidates (Bradford, Cousins, Fitzpatrick, and Osweiler), you’re left with the crap of the crap (obviously, it’s still really early in the offseason, and a lot of cuts/trades are out there to be made; this post won’t include guys likely to be released/already under contract).  Among guys with significant starting experience, you’re talking about:

  • Cassel
  • Clausen
  • Gradkowski
  • RGIII
  • Hasselbeck
  • Henne
  • Lindley
  • McCown
  • McCoy
  • Moore
  • Schaub
  • Stanton
  • Vick
  • Weeden
  • Whitehurst
  • Yates

Cassel is old and grossly over-valued.  I have zero confidence in his abilities to guide a team to a .500 record in the absence of this team’s starter (see:  his stint in Dallas last year).  Clausen is horrible; Gradkowski hasn’t had significant starting experience in half a decade; Lindley & Stanton are who we think they are; Vick is as done as done can be; the best thing Whitehurst has ever done is somehow trick Jewel into going out with him (aside from tricking multiple teams into giving him multiple millions of dollars, including the Seahawks, and now this is making me even more upset); and Yates apparently only has value to the Houston Texans, so that’s a stay-away in my book.

Of the guys I didn’t list in that paragraph, Hasselbeck is obviously the most interesting.  Who knows if he’s even in the market to continue his career after the thrashing he took in Luck’s absence last year?  Odds are, since Wilson does a better job of avoiding contact, he probably doesn’t suffer the same lacerated spleen or whatever the hell it was that Luck had.  Then again, if you’re Hasselbeck, would you ever expect a tough hoss like Luck to get injured in the first place?

RGIII might be another someone looking to compete for a starting job.  In fact, I’m almost sure of it, so I don’t know why I kept him here.  Obviously, I worry about injuries with him.  I also worry about his mindset.  By all accounts, he was a quality teammate last year and didn’t cause any trouble in the lockerroom.  But, for a guy drafted as high as he was, who still has a lot of the skills that made him so highly sought after (minus the legs, obviously), he’d make an ideal backup candidate.  BUT, maybe not for the Seahawks.  I just have my doubts as to his willingness to come in and be the clear #2.

If I’m being honest, I don’t totally hate the idea of Chad Henne as this team’s backup.  When he first got a crack to be a team’s starter, it was in Miami in 2009 & 2010.  Those weren’t great teams, but they were sort of middle-of-the-road, .500-ish teams, and he led them to .500-ish records accordingly.  His career started to go down the shitter when he went to Jacksonville, playing on some truly horrendous teams.  On the right team (i.e. on THIS team, the Seahawks), I think Henne could be a .500-ish quarterback again.  He’s going to complete upwards of 57-60% of his passes, and if you instruct him to refrain from taking too many chances, you might be able to coax his interception percentage down to reasonable levels.  He is getting on in age, though, so he’s probably not all that mobile, which obviously is going to be an issue for most of these veterans we’re looking at.

Luke McCown had 1 start in 2015, and played brilliantly in a losing effort.  Against Carolina, he completed 31 of 38 passes for 310 yards and a pick.  Before that, he hasn’t started a game since 2011, so I don’t know what you’d expect here.  That one start for New Orleans really skews his career numbers, but he could be an interesting buy-low candidate with some semblance of upside as a backup.

Colt McCoy might honestly be the best of the bunch.  Drafted by Cleveland, I tend to discount whatever anyone does in Cleveland, as they’ve been a trainwreck ever since the NFL let them back into the league (and for many years before they went to Baltimore to boot).  In 2014, McCoy had a string of games with the Redskins that showed everyone why he was thought of so highly coming out of college, as well as why he’s now exclusively a backup.  He had two and a half really good games (including an impressive Monday night victory over the eventual division champion Cowboys), and a couple of real stinkers (albeit, I believe that last game he was injured and had to leave the game early).  He’s definitely not going to blow anyone away or win any shootouts, but I think he could manage a game effectively well.  What more can you ask for?

Matt Moore has been backing up Tannehill these last few years, and honestly I don’t know how he can stand it.  Moore, in his starting efforts early in his career, was the epitome of a .500 quarterback.  Hovering around 59% completions, with slightly more touchdowns than interceptions.  He strikes me as another semi-ideal candidate.  Like Henne, he’s getting on in years, so I don’t know how mobile he is, and he hasn’t started a game since 2011, so that’s tough.  Maybe he’s like another Whitehurst, who loves being a backup and living in a tropical climate!  If that’s the case, I wonder if Seattle is the right spot for him.

Matt Schaub scares me.  A lot like Vick, I think he’s done.  A lot like Cassel, I think he’s over-valued.  He strikes me as a guy who, personality-wise, wouldn’t fit in on a team with this many alpha dogs.

Brandon Weeden is probably the last interesting name on the list.  He’s young enough to where you don’t totally worry about his durability (even though, let’s be honest, he’s like a tree back there in the pocket).  And, in spite of his Cleveland roots, I think it’s probably set in by this point that he’s going to be a career backup.  Last year was interesting for him, as he was the next man up after Romo went down for Dallas.  He proved to be underwhelming at best, leading to the Cowboys to over-pay for Matt Cassel (who managed to play even worse).  Weeden landed in Houston, where he ran circles around Cassel in his two appearances (though, he ended up relinquishing the job to Brian Hoyer for the playoffs, so make of that what you will).

So, in conclusion, I’ll rank my favorite options for the Seahawks’ backup quarterback:

  1. Talk Tarvaris Jackson into returning for another year
  2. Colt McCoy
  3. Matt Hasselbeck
  4. Rookie QB (either low round pick, undrafted free agent, or guy already on a futures contract)
  5. Brandon Weeden
  6. Henne/Moore (tie)
  7. Luke McCown
  8. Fuck it, give the job to Jon Ryan (also, make sure to re-sign Jon Ryan)
  9. No one/all Wildcat all the time
  10. Schaub
  11. Cassel
  12. Fan (open tryouts every week for a local Seahawks fan)

Looking Back At Dallas & Looking Ahead Post-BYE

There’s a lot to unpack about that Seahawks/Cowboys game on Sunday.  So, with the BYE week coming up, I’m going to continue blathering.  You can read my post from yesterday, where I bitch about that last offensive series (kneel-down aside) and our usage of Jimmy Graham down near the goalline.  For what it’s worth, I know there’s been a general, “What Are The Seahawks Doing With Jimmy Graham?” consensus among fans and media types, but that seems to be an all-encompassing question about targets and whatnot.  My post about yesterday strictly addresses his useage near the goalline, and how our offensive coordinator is a moron who designs terrible plays that in no way utilize Graham’s height gifts.

Today, I kind of want to step back a little bit and marvel at the importance of that game.  Don’t take a win over the Cowboys for granted.  Yeah, they didn’t have Tony Romo; and yeah, Dez Bryant was in his first game back after many weeks off with that foot injury.  But, that’s still a very good football team down in Big D.  Just because the quarterback was gone, doesn’t mean that was ever going to be an easy contest.  They still have the best offensive line in football.  They still have a very good defense – particularly their front seven.  They still have enough talent at the skill positions to be a threat.  When you factor in this game being on the road – always difficult to win on the road – and overall I’m just happy we got the W.

You could tell the Seahawks were employing a safe, quick-throw, run-heavy offense from the get-go.  With Okung out, Alvin Bailey was our starting left tackle, anchoring a line that has already been pretty maligned, considering the Seahawks have given up the most sacks in the league.  As the game went on, it was pretty clear that the ONE storyline the Seahawks were going to make sure wasn’t a factor in the outcome of this game was the offensive line letting our quarterback get killed.  Which, in and of itself was very nearly the factor that decided the outcome of this game.

The gameplan was conservative to a fault.  None of our usual big plays down the field, and the ones we did try were pretty ill-advised on behalf of Russell Wilson.  Even with Wilson getting the ball out of his hands quicker than I’ve ever seen from him, the Dallas pass rush was in his face almost immediately, from all sides.  This wasn’t a situation where other guys rose up to pick up their games in the absence of Russell Okung.  They seemed to take even less care of their technical responsibilities, knowing that we’d be going with the quick-throw offense.

The running game was pretty disappointing, which I’ll attribute to the Cowboys realizing what we were doing pretty early on.  So, they were able to crowd the line of scrimmage, stack the box, and play a lot of press on our receivers, since there was pretty much no threat of down-field passing.  A terrible offensive line, like the one we’ve got, is the main reason why a team with a lot of stars (Wilson, Graham, Lynch, Lockett, and Baldwin) looks no better than an offense helmed by the likes of Matt Cassel, one of the most underwhelming game managers in the entire league.

There’s absolutely nothing positive to take away from a game like this, except that the Seahawks got the win.  In that sense, it’s a lot like a lot of other Seahawks wins since 2012, so you can either dwell on all of our deficiencies, or you can put it behind you and move on.  I choose to dwell, because it’s in my nature, but I’m also not going to totally believe the sky is falling just yet.  In 2013, the Seahawks nearly lost to a couple of very bad teams in the Rams and Bucs in back-to-back weeks before going on an impressive run.  The 2014 Seahawks lost at home to the Cowboys, then followed that up with a demoralizing defeat in St. Louis, then continued to struggle for the better part of the next month before ending the season with an impressive 6-game winning streak going into the playoffs.

No one is really thrilled with how the Seahawks have played in the first half of this season.  We’ve lost to every elite team we’ve faced, and nearly gagged away a couple of others against some fairly easy prey in the Cowboys and Lions.  If you would’ve told me before the season that the Seahawks would be 4-4 at this point, I would have guessed that Russell Wilson missed 4 games with injury, and I’d be worried about him returning to the team in time to salvage the season.  The fact that we’ve been THIS mediocre, while being one of the more healthy teams in the entire league, really says a lot.  The first thing it says is that maybe 2015 won’t be our year.  But, for whatever crazy reason, I just can’t give up on this year just yet.

If you look a head, you’ll see the BYE week this week, followed by 5 home games and only 3 road games.  That’s a plus.  You’ll also see we play our division 4 times in these 8 games.  So, there’s PLENTY of opportunity to turn this thing around.  We play Arizona twice – which is what everyone is pointing to, which scares the bejesus out of me, because it’s almost like they’re assuming we’re just going to sweep the Cardinals in those two games.  For what it’s worth, I’m over the moon by the fact that we play the Cards at home first.  Both teams should be as healthy as they’ve been since the beginning of the season – so obviously we’re going to get their best fight – but we’re going to be the home team, and we’re playing in primetime, which is usually one of our stronger suits.  If we handle our business in this one, we get the worthless 49ers the following week, and you gotta say we at least have a coinflip chance of beating the Steelers in that third of three straight home games.  Win those three and that puts us in good position to go into Minnesota to try to win another ugly, defense-first game, before going to Baltimore and crushing that dumpster fire.  Win those FIVE, then we get the Browns at home, and the Rams at home for a little revenge over our week 1 defeat.  I like our chances in those two, which could send us into a showdown for the division in Week 17 in Arizona.

That’s sort of the rosy, best-case scenario outlook on things.  But, if you’re drinking out of that half-empty glass, then you can easily see a scenario where this thing turns sour in a hurry.

Arizona – even at home, even in primetime – is no sure thing.  At this point in the season, Carson Palmer was supposed to be felled by another ACL tear or something.  But, he’s rocking & rolling, and they look like one of the two best teams in the entire NFC (with the Packers being the other, in spite of their loss in Denver).  The Cardinals are going to be as fired up as any team has ever been, and I don’t think they’re going to give two shits about how loud the 12’s are.  If they’re able to march down the field on a bevy of big plays, it’ll be a library in there in no time.

I see four games in the second half that I would deem “easy wins”.  Home vs. SF, at Bal, home vs. Cle, and probably home vs. St. Louis.  Again, easy is relative, but I can’t see the Rams moving the ball all that well against us (Gurley be damned) in Seattle.  Then, we have the two Arizona games that could just as easily be losses, in addition to a very good Steelers team with Ben Roethlisberger back in the fold after a few weeks off with injury, and a VERY scary Vikings team with an awesome defense, in Minnesota.  You want a scenario where the Seahawks go from 1 yard away from two straight Super Bowl victories to an 8-8 downer of a season?  Keep losing to all these good teams that you’ve been losing to all year.

Now, what brings me hope is that these good teams aren’t without their faults.  Arizona lost to Landry Jones and the Steelers a few weeks ago, they lost at home to the Rams, and they very nearly lost on the road against the Browns before finally grabbing hold of that game late.  I would expect the game in two weeks will be close; I highly doubt they’d run us off the field.  But, just the same, I hope we shade a little extra coverage Cary Williams’ way.

The Rams and Vikings have pretty shaky quarterback play, so you could argue they’re better versions of the Cowboys team we just played.  But, I’ll say this:  don’t ever take that Cowboys victory for granted.

If I can get back to my original point, it might be very likely that the Seahawks DON’T win the NFC West this year.  Maybe the Cardinals keep rolling, maybe the Seahawks stumble.  Obviously, starting the season 4-4 doesn’t leave us any margin for error for a division title and/or a first round BYE.  So, it might be time to start adjusting our expectations a little bit towards that Wild Card.  One would think that we could get that Wild Card with a 10-6 record … IF we have enough tie-breakers to get us through.

Right now, at 4-4, we’re 8th in the NFC.  The Falcons are 5th at 6-2, but they’re paper tigers if I’ve ever seen any.  I don’t think their defense is all that impressive; Julio Jones is good, but Matt Ryan is definitely erratic, and they’re not good enough to get by on their running game alone.  I think the Panthers are going to run away with that division and I think the Saints are better than the Falcons and will eventually pass them.  The Vikings are currently 6th at 5-2 and definitely look like a stronger team than the Falcons, but they’ve also had a pretty easy schedule to kick off the season (facing the likes of the 49ers, Bears, Lions twice, Chargers, and Chiefs).  For the Seahawks to make a Wild Card, that game in Minnesota will be crucial.  We HAVE to beat the Vikings and get that head-to-head tiebreaker.  Beyond that, assuming the Rams lose next week to Minnesota, we’ll have the same record as them.  If we beat them at home, that should put them to bed (Nick Foles is also, very clearly, who we thought he was, and will not be leading them to the post-season this year).

With the Rams and Vikings out of the way via tie-breakers, and with the Falcons falling to Earth a little bit, and with the Saints still being too inconsistent on defense to really pose a threat, I would argue the only other team left in the NFC to worry about is the Dallas Cowboys.  Remember them?  Well, they host the Eagles next week (honestly, a game the Eagles should probably win, but also a game that could easily go the other way), then they go to Tampa in a game the Cowboys will be favored in.  Even if they go 1-1 in that stretch, that would put them at 3-6.  After that, Tony Romo returns, and they’ll be at full strength.  Their closing run, with Romo back in the fold, features 4 road games and 3 home games, but the only really difficult one is the game in Green Bay.  If Romo returns on fire, and they start playing like the 2014 Cowboys, I could EASILY see them finish the season with a record of 10-6.  At which point, if the Seahawks are also 10-6, you’re going to be glad the Seahawks won an ugly clunker of a game back on November 1st.

Hapless Seahawks Narrowly Edge Hapless Cowboys

At that spot near the end of the game, where it was clear the offense was playing it safe – playing not to lose – by keeping the clock running and settling for the go-ahead field goal to make it 13-12 with a little over a minute left, I was envisioning the blog post I’d write about the game.  The working title in my head was, “Just Fuck You, Darrell Bevell”.  I guess that’s why I like to wait until the next day to write this thing (that, and because I’m usually in some form of food/football coma by the end of the day on Sunday, and the three working braincells I have left, I need to get me home).

We have Jimmy Graham.  We spent a great deal to bring Jimmy Graham to Seattle.  We gave up a starting, Pro Bowl-calibre center and a first round draft pick to get Graham and a third rounder.  Jimmy Graham is 6’7, with some of the best hands and leaping ability in the NFL.  He may not be quite as good as Gronk when it comes to purely catching the ball, but he’s close.  We brought him in here because we have a need for a reliable red zone target in the passing game.  That’s priority number one when it comes to Jimmy Graham.  Or, that is, it SHOULD BE priority number one.

And yet, there we were, with a little over two minutes left, at the seven yard line.  The PERFECT spot to utilize Jimmy Graham’s unique physical gifts.  As I alluded to before, the Seahawks were down by two points going into this drive.  They NEEDED a touchdown, which would force the Cowboys to go for a touchdown, which never would’ve happened in a million years because they had Matt Cassel and we had the Legion of Fucking Boom.  The Seahawks scoring a touchdown there might as well have meant the Seahawks scoring a 50-burger there; there was no coming back.  On the flipside, kicking a field goal would mean the Cowboys only needed a field goal of their own to re-take the lead and win the game.  As the announcers mentioned during the game, Dan Bailey is the most accurate field goal kicker in NFL history.  They were also playing indoors.  He had also in that game nailed a 52-yarder like it was nothing.  The Seahawks playing it safe and settling for the field goal was putting the game in jeopardy that we didn’t need to do.

Unless you don’t trust your quarterback, which is another conversation altogether.

You know what I love about how New England utilizes Gronk?  When they’re down near the goalline, they’ll line him up wide (sometimes on an island, sometimes with another receiver in the slot).  If he’s on an island, and he’s being guarded by a lone cornerback, then it’s just an easy hitch route or fade route, pitch n’ catch, touchdown.  It’s the bread and butter of the Pats’ offense.  If he’s on an island and they’re double-covering him, then more than likely you’ll get the middle of the endzone wide open.  Or, you can throw a screen the opposite way and have the numbers in your favor.  Or, shit, you can just run the ball up the middle because there won’t be enough defenders in the box.  There are any NUMBER of options at your disposal when you use your weapons effectively like the Patriots do.

Let’s say you put Gronk out wide, with a receiver in the slot; I don’t even need to tell you what comes next.  Gronk runs a slant, or an in-route, and picks off the other receiver’s defender, while the receiver runs an underneath out-route, catches the pass going away from Brady, and easily finds the edge for a touchdown as now both defenders on that side are tangled in a heaping mass of Gronk.  As you can see, I’m not saying that the Seahawks have to get down there and throw it to Graham three times.  But, if we had an offensive coordinator who didn’t have his head so far up his own ass, he might design some plays that utilized Graham as a decoy effectively enough to still get us the touchdowns that we need.

What do we do instead?  We run left, which Marshawn Lynch mystifyingly takes out of bounds.  Ostensibly, this was because the Cowboys were out of time outs and we wanted to drain the clock to the 2-minute warning.  Then, on second down, we run it AGAIN, because there were still seven seconds left before the 2-minute warning.  Once again, the run is stuffed for a loss, but at least now we’ve got two minutes to go, so the Cowboys can’t stop the clock again without an incomplete pass or running out of bounds.  At this point, you have the big decision:  do you drain 40 seconds with another run, kick the field goal, and pray your defense can do what it hasn’t done all year:  hold a close 4th quarter lead?  Or, do you go for the throat, utilize Jimmy Graham smartly, and take a chance at the endzone and really putting this game away?  Granted, in that second scenario, they probably get the ball back with 1:50 left in the game if the pass falls incomplete.  But, when they’ve got a kicker like Dan Bailey, do the extra 40 seconds really matter?

In this instance, I guess it didn’t matter, as we were able to harass Cassel enough into turning the ball over on downs (after an idiotic personal foul penalty on Michael Bennett to start the drive).  But, I argue the Seahawks’ decision was asinine in that situation, and they’re LUCKY it didn’t bite them in the ass.

I can hear you arguing with me now, though.  Yes, I saw the third down play.  Yes, I saw Russell Wilson take the ball on a bootleg, run to his right, and when no one was open, tuck the ball and run for a few yards.  I saw all of that.  But, I would argue – for starters – that the Seahawks never really had any intention of throwing on that play whatsoever, unless there was a complete breakdown in coverage, which obviously wasn’t the case.  I would also argue, if they were serious about throwing the ball, WHY IS JIMMY GRAHAM LINING UP ON THE LINE, INSTEAD OF OUT WIDE???  What have I been writing about all day?  How the Pats use Gronk, and how he helps them become the best red zone team in football.  Why aren’t WE doing THAT???

You know what a roll out near the endzone gets you?  It draws every single defender to that third of the field, as well as the majority of the receivers who are out in the pattern.  It’s like trying to throw the football through a tornado; the odds of completing that pass are almost nil.  And NFL coaches are so pissing-their-pants afraid of throwing back across the field, they almost never send any receivers out the other way, for fear of having the ball picked off and run back to the house.  So don’t give me this shit about the Seahawks trying to throw for the touchdown there; they had no intention whatsoever.  That play may have been a run/pass option, but it was designed to fail from the creator himself, Darrell Bevell.

You want to know why Darrell Bevell has never really been seriously considered for a head coaching job, and why he’ll never ever have one at the NFL level?  Because he’s a chickenshit little loser with impotent play design who could be out-coached by a 10 year old playing Madden.

That’s why, John Schneider, you’re going to have to spend this whole upcoming off-season revamping our offensive line with quality draft picks and free agent signings.  It’s time to cut off Darrell Bevell; he gets no more offensive weapons until he figures out how to play with the ones he has.

For Whom Might The Seahawks Trade Russell Wilson?

‘Tis the season for rampant speculation on matters we know nothing about!  It’s a glorious time to be alive, what with the Internets and whatnot.

I read this over the weekend from Mike Florio with Pro Football Talk.  It references another option in the Russell Wilson Contract Saga that nobody’s really talking about:  in lieu of signing him, or franchising him, the Seahawks might feel like they need to trade him.

For the record, this is the last thing I want to see happen.  I’m of the school of thought that you do NOT trade your franchise quarterback for anything!  Unless he’s too old and broken down, and even then I’d be pretty sad to see him go.  Nevertheless, I was reading that story and it got me to thinking.  I’m not so much interested in the super-bounty of draft picks, but I am interested in the part where it talks about, “the Seahawks could send Wilson to another team for its starting quarterback.”

So, consider that the premise for this post:  who would the Seahawks realistically get in return for a Russell Wilson?

Before we get started, I agree with Mike Florio in the article:  regardless of what happens, I 100% doubt that the Seahawks are trading Russell Wilson in 2015.  Even if we’re a billion dollars apart in our contract terms, I still think we ride this season out and hope for another ring.  So, what we’re looking at – in this hypothetical world where the endgame is Russell Wilson being traded – is the Seahawks putting one of the franchise tags on him, then sending him away.

So, I’m going to go through all the quarterbacks who are either starting for their teams, or are in some kind of a timeshare/training camp battle because none of them on that particular team are all that good.

Here we have a list of quarterbacks whose teams would never trade them to us:

  • Aaron Rodgers
  • Andrew Luck
  • Joe Flacco
  • Matt Ryan
  • Cam Newton
  • Ryan Tannehill

Rodgers, I feel, is pretty obvious:  he’s the best quarterback in the league and I don’t think Green Bay is in for an over-priced step down.  Luck’s not quite there yet, but he clearly WILL be the best quarterback in the league, and I would wager sooner rather than later.  Joe Flacco is already a Super Bowl-winning quarterback; I don’t see Baltimore giving him up.  You could argue he’s making too much money and looking to shed some salary, but remember in this scenario:  Russell Wilson is looking to be the highest-paid quarterback in the history of the game.  I think Ryan, Newton, and Tannehill are too young, and they’ve just gotten paid.  Plus, I don’t think those teams could afford to take the cap hit that Wilson’s going to bring (especially Miami, what with Ndamukong Suh making all the money he’s making).

Next up, quarterbacks whose teams ALMOST CERTAINLY won’t trade them:

  • Tom Brady
  • Ben Roethlisberger
  • Tony Romo
  • Eli Manning
  • Matthew Stafford

With Brady and Roethlisberger, I just think they’re too tied to their respective teams and cities.  But, those organizations have been known to be ruthless with their veterans, so if they felt like either one might be slipping, and they had a chance to get a young stud QB in return, they MIGHT pounce on him.  I’d put Romo and Manning in the same boat (too tied to their teams & cities), just on a lesser scale because they’re not as good.  Stafford’s interesting because I think he’s right on the edge of being good and being overrated.  Seemingly every year I have a different opinion about him.  Ultimately, I think Detroit feels he’s good enough to get the job done, and likely wouldn’t trade him away for a guy like Wilson.

The Division Rivals:

  • Carson Palmer
  • Nick Foles
  • Colin Kaepernick

The overarching theme of this section is:  under no circumstances do you EVER trade your franchise quarterback to a team in your division.  Putting that aside, I think all three of these teams would trade their starters for Russell Wilson in a heartbeat.  Carson Palmer is obviously too old and too injury prone to be counted upon.  Nick Foles is interesting, but ultimately not worth facing Wilson twice a year (especially with their offensive line and defense overall, I think the Rams would be a total dynasty with Wilson at the helm).  And honestly, Colin Kaepernick might be the best fit in the league for our offense – given his scrambling ability.  I think if you reined him in, forcing him to be a little more conservative with his throws, he wouldn’t be much of a step down at all compared to Wilson.  Hell, under Harbaugh he went to three straight NFC Championship Games; I think he’d do okay here as well.

The Young Ones:

  • E.J. Manuel
  • Geno Smith
  • Johnny Manziel
  • Teddy Bridgewater
  • Jameis Winston
  • Ryan Mallett/Tom Savage
  • Blake Bortles
  • Marcus Mariota
  • Derek Carr

Manuel, Smith, and Manziel are just too bad.  No way the Seahawks take them in return.  I think the Seahawks would think long and hard about Bridgewater and Winston, but if Bridgewater makes steady improvement in 2015, I don’t think the Vikings will want to get rid of him (and if he takes a step back, I don’t think the Seahawks would want him).  The Bucs are just too committed to Winston as part of their rebuild, so I don’t think he’d work out in this scenario.  Mallett and Savage are a couple of unknowns, but ultimately I don’t think they’ll be all that great as starters.  I feel like Bortles and Mariota are a couple of future backups being thrust into roles they’re not good enough for.  I think the Seahawks might take Carr in a heartbeat, but I don’t think the Raiders will give up on him (for the record, I’m pretty high on Carr and think he’s going to have a great second year).

Too Over-The-Hill:

  • Peyton Manning
  • Matt Cassel
  • Josh McCown

Pretty much says it all, if you ask me.  Manning is signed through 2016, but you have to wonder if he’s even going to be around.  He almost opted to retire THIS year.  After getting banged around in Gary Kubiak’s offense (where I FULLY expect to see Manning seriously injured at some point), I’m almost convinced he’ll be done.  Either way, I don’t think you can throw Russell Wilson away on a guy who’s going to be 40 next year, who MIGHT have 1-2 years at the most left in his career.  Cassel and McCown aren’t even worth the words.

Too Terrible:

  • Sam Bradford/Mark Sanchez/Matt Barkley/Tim Tebow
  • RGIII/Kirk Cousins
  • Jay Cutler
  • Brian Hoyer

Speaking of “aren’t even worth the words,” we have the poo-poo platter that the Eagles have in camp this year.  It should go without saying, but Bradford is TOO DAMN INJURY PRONE.  The rest of those guys are the total beans and the Eagles are going to be lucky to win five games this year.  RGIII is also too injury prone, plus he’s a terrible leader who doesn’t follow directions, plus he’s just a bad all around quarterback.  Cousins is Just Another Guy, same as Hoyer.  Jay Cutler seems enticing, but that’s just because of that cannon he’s got for an arm.  Squint a little more closely and you’ll see he’s easily the second coming of Jeff George (not a compliment).

The Definite Possibilities:

  • Drew Brees
  • Philip Rivers
  • Alex Smith
  • Andy Dalton

I know Brees and Rivers feel like those guys up top who are too tied in with their teams and cities (Brees especially).  But, I have my reasons for having these guys down here.  For starters, I think New Orleans is in full on rebuild mode.  Brees isn’t getting any younger, and the Saints are probably five years away from being a championship-type team again.  They MIGHT decide to give Brees a chance to win a title elsewhere.  And, considering we’ve already done that deal for Jimmy Graham, it honestly might be the most perfect fit we could hope for.  On the downside, Brees will be 37 years old next year, and it’ll be the last year of his current deal.  At best, you hope he’s got three more elite years left after 2015, but realistically it might be closer to one or two.  A trade for Brees gives us the best “Win Now” option.  When you consider Pete Carroll’s on the short contract (by design, as he might opt to retire or move to another team), Brees might be the next best thing to just keeping Russell Wilson forever.

Philip Rivers will only be 34 in 2016, so you gotta like your chances with him longer term.  Honestly though, this probably doesn’t work because 2015 is the final year of his deal, and I don’t know if they can franchise tag him or not.  The other variable is whether or not the Chargers are moving to Los Angeles.  Will Rivers want to stay?  If not, maybe they work out a sign & trade with the Seahawks.  The downside to that is, I’ve read reports that should Los Angeles get two teams – which seems to be the way this is going – there’s the possibility of the Chargers moving to the NFC West.  And, as I said above, you do NOT trade Wilson to a team in your own division – even a team that might one day move to your division.

Alex Smith might be the best type of guy we can hope for.  He’ll be 32 next year, and 2018 is the final year of his deal.  He’s not making all that much money – which would allow us to spread the wealth to other positions.  He’s the consummate Game Manager:  doesn’t make mistakes, is decently mobile, is comfortable playing in a run-first offense.  The downside is, obviously, his downfield throwing.  We wouldn’t get those chunk plays that we like to get.  But, with weapons like Jimmy Graham around him, and with the emergence of some of our younger receivers, I think he’d be good enough to get the job done.  He sort of reminds me of a Brad Johnson type.  Brad Johnson won a title with the Bucs, why couldn’t Alex Smith do that with the Seahawks?

Andy Dalton is the guy I most fear the Seahawks pursuing.  He’ll be 28 years old next year, and his deal runs through the 2020 season.  He too isn’t making any serious kind of money (his biggest cap hit is in the final year, and it’s only $17.7 million).  By 2020, that’s going to be peanuts!  He’s shown a propensity to hit on the deep ball, but that’s with the likes of A.J. Green.  More importantly is Dalton’s shoddy decision-making and his inflated sense of self-worth.  He’s one of those guys who thinks he’s better than he really is, which is going to make it difficult when he can’t make all the throws he needs to make.  As it is, he’s had more career meltdown games than you like to see; what’s he going to be like in three years when he’s that much older and beaten down?  Furthermore, playing behind our offensive line, how’s he going to handle the near-constant pressure?  I think Dalton is a guy the Bengals would gladly unload for the chance to sign Wilson (yes, even with how stingy their ownership is; I think they’d feel like Wilson would be worth it).  And, I think, if the Seahawks didn’t get blown away by any other deal they saw, they’d pull the trigger on a Dalton-centric trade.  I just hope like hell this never comes to fruition.

Seattle Sports Hell 2014 NFL Power Rankings – Week 2

I’m still firmly in the camp of the Seahawks being the best team in football until some other team (or teams) jump out and prove themselves superior … but I can’t help having these nagging worries.  Doesn’t it feel like something’s a little off about this year’s team?  I read all these quotes and they’re as encouraging as always:

  • About how our stars are working harder than ever before
  • About how guys are in the best shapes of their lives
  • About how everyone is still hungry and that winning a Super Bowl has only made them hungrier

But, I dunno.  This is more of a gut feeling than anything, but it just feels like we’re going through the motions.  Like, everyone’s on auto-pilot until they decide to turn it on and ramp it up.  Which, in most cases, our auto-pilot is better than most other teams’ 100% effort, but it’s still cause for concern.

I just wonder why it looks so BLAH out there.  Is it Super Bowl Hangover?  Is it because we know we’re so very good, we can’t see anyone else as a threat?  Like that smart kid in school who acts out because he’s not challenged?  Or, have we lost our heart?

Golden Tate, Red Bryant, and Chris Clemons all play for other teams.  They were all either released, or it was made very clear to them that we didn’t want them back or need them back.  Those three guys were also three of the biggest personalities on the team.  Tate had a swagger about him that was the perfect complement to Beastmode’s tenacious desire.  He could dish out the shit-talking and he could back it up.  When the offense or special teams needed a big play, Tate’s sheer force of will would make it happen, no matter what it required.

Red Bryant was the leader on defense.  Not the signal-caller – that job belongs to Wagner – but he was the emotional leader for sure.  I can’t count the number of times I’d see him make a big play and then stomp around like a rabid elephant, barking at everyone around him that they were NOT going to run it in his direction!  Everyone looked up to him and voted him defensive captain.  It can’t be easy to lose that, because there’s a void bigger than his 330-pound frame left in his place.

And, by all accounts, Chris Clemons was the resident hard ass.  He’s all business, and he’s in the business of tearing some new assholes out of opposing quarterbacks.  When you look at these three guys, the word that comes to mind is:  intensity.  They had it, and we’ve lost it.  Sure, Earl Thomas brings the fire.  But, even he seems a bit scaled back this year.  I see it a little more in Bobby Wagner, which is nice, but it would be better to see it out of more guys.  I don’t care what anyone says, we need emotional leaders to step up.  When you tack on the loss of Michael Robinson, Sidney Rice, and so on, this could be a major problem for this team going forward.

The main take-away after two games is:  opposing offenses are going to be in no-huddle mode as much as possible, to prevent us from substituting on defense.  Part of me says, “BRING IT ON, BITCH!”  But, part of me also knows that subbing guys in and out regularly is what kept this team fresh, especially along the defensive line.

Now, obviously, not all teams are going to be able to do this, but the good ones will.  We were successful against Green Bay, but we were a trainwreck against San Diego.  Maybe it WAS just the weather and other circumstances that prevented us from playing our best last week, or maybe that’s just how it’s going to go:  the best teams are going to go no-huddle, and sometimes we’ll win, and sometimes we’ll lose.  The bad thing about that is:  if we want the #1 seed again, we can’t afford to lose too many games.  Three is about the limit.  We’ve already lost one, with Denver coming to town in a few days.  If we start the season 1-2, it’s going to require a ton of effort and a lot of luck to get back to 13-3.

I’m not in “Sky Is Falling” mode just yet.  I won’t even be in “Sky Is Falling” mode if we lose to the Broncos this weekend.  I know that our schedule has an 8-game creamy center of easiness that should have us red hot by the time we play the 49ers and Eagles in late November/early December.  I also know that it’s not how you start, but how you finish.  No one ever won a Super Bowl in September.  I’d MUCH rather we play our best football in December and January instead of right now.

But, while slow starts aren’t necessarily fatal, they can hurt an awful lot.  For my own peace of mind, I’d be delighted to see the Seahawks stick to taking care of business against these pass-first offenses like they’re supposed to.

***

  1. Seattle Seahawks (1-1) – Until further notice, this year will resemble 2013 in a lot of ways:  it’s the Seahawks & Broncos in some order at the top, and then everyone else.  No loss to an old AFC West foe – that we will never face again this year – will change that.
  2. Denver Broncos (2-0) – The proof will be in the pudding this weekend as the Broncos travel to Seattle.  They’re 2-0 at home with a couple comfortable 1-score victories.  Let’s see if they can take their show on the road in their toughest matchup of the year.
  3. Cincinnati Bengals (2-0) – This is as complete a team as it gets, with their feisty defense.  Losing A.J. Green isn’t ideal, so it’ll be interesting to see how they manage until his return.
  4. New Orleans Saints (0-2) – The defense scares me, but it also hasn’t had a chance to get a home game under its belt.  My feeling is that it can’t get much worse, and the offense will start clicking.  Bank on the Saints being one of those rare 0-2 teams to win a division.
  5. New England Patriots (1-1) – Start on the road in 3 of their first 4 and 4 of their first 6 games of the season.  That’s rough.  They’re still good (though, it’s possible Miami is better than we thought).
  6. San Francisco 49ers (1-1) – Hahahaha, I can’t believe I gave up on that Bears game and they ended up coming back to win!  What a gift!  49ers still look pretty strong, considering their injuries.  But, if their offense doesn’t take the next step, this team will be doomed.
  7. San Diego Chargers (1-1) – Well, they blew a late lead on the road against what appears to be a better-than-expected Cardinals team.  Then, they gave the Seahawks the business.  This team’s legit.
  8. Philadelphia Eagles (2-0) – Yes, they’re undefeated, and yes, their offense is explosive.  But, it should probably be concerning that they keep starting games so shabbily.
  9. Green Bay Packers (1-1) – Is it possible the Packers are WORSE than expected?  Well, I didn’t expect them to win their division, so maybe they’re just “as expected” in my book.
  10. Arizona Cardinals (2-0) – If they can continue to play teams tough, even without Carson Palmer, that doesn’t make me feel good.  Their immediate future is a little rocky with games against the 49ers, Broncos, and Eagles coming up in the next few weeks; I don’t think they stay a Top 10 team for long.
  11. Carolina Panthers (2-0) – I must say, this is a pleasant surprise if you don’t hate the Panthers.  I still have my doubts that they’ll be able to continue winning over the long haul, but they’re clearly not the bottom-feeders I thought originally.
  12. Indianapolis Colts (0-2) – You look at Andrew Luck – if you’re an objective football viewer and not necessarily a fan of either the Colts or the Seahawks – and you think:  yeah, I’d rather have him over Russell Wilson.  I guess he passes the eyeball test or whatever.  But, he’s streaky!  He goes through long periods of sucking before turning it on.  Yes, he’s able to generate breathtaking comebacks in those games where they start so poorly, but you have to ask yourself:  is he part of the problem?  Or, conversely, if you swapped quarterbacks, and Luck got to enjoy all the talent around him that the Seahawks have to offer (along with a coaching staff that preaches ball control and plays a different style of offense than the Colts), would he be better than he is right now, on the Colts?  Would Wilson be remarkably worse if he played in Indy and had a crap defense with no running game and a pass-first mentality?  These are the questions.  I don’t necessarily have the answers, though.
  13. Baltimore Ravens (1-1) – I’m still in wait-and-see mode with this team.  They strike me as a team right around .500, but who knows?
  14. Chicago Bears (1-1) – So, they lay an egg at home against the Bills, then they lay another egg on the road in San Francisco before getting hot in the 4th quarter to steal one.  Again, I appreciate the sentiment, but I’m still not buying the Bears as a legitimate playoff team.
  15. Detroit Lions (1-1) – Well, they’ve beat up on a terrible Giants team, then got throttled by a sneaky good Panthers team.  Probably not the start they envisioned, but then again I don’t think the rest of the teams in that division are all that great either.
  16. Atlanta Falcons (1-1) – You put a good defense in front of Matt Ryan and he’s going to struggle.  The good news is, they don’t play what I would consider another “good” defense for another nine weeks.  And, by then, who knows where the Panthers will be?
  17. Miami Dolphins (1-1) – No, I don’t think Buffalo is all that good.  I think the Dolphins kicked one they should’ve won.  Their schedule going forward is pretty cheesy, so they SHOULD still be able to parlay that into a good record.  But, watch out for games like we saw last weekend, because they’ll show up again.
  18. Dallas Cowboys (1-1) – That’s a bad team right there.  But, they’re in a bad division and their offense is kinda okay.  If they manage to stick with the run game, their offense could even be GREAT.  Or, at least good enough to keep them in enough ballgames to be interesting.
  19. Kansas City Chiefs (0-2) – They’re screwed.  They’re even more screwed if Jamaal Charles goes down.
  20. Pittsburgh Steelers (1-1) – Probably not as bad as that Thursday performance, but still not very good.  Their defensive line is shot, their secondary is less-than-ideal, and their cap situation is a joke.  You’re going to hear the words “Blow Up” when it comes to the Steelers more than a few times this year.  These are the lean times.
  21. Buffalo Bills (2-0) – Well, if any city deserves a pleasant surprise, it’s Buffalo.  I wouldn’t expect it to last though.
  22. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-2) – Lost two home games and two conference games (one in the division).  THAT’S what we call a bad start.  Every year, I get sucked into the Bucs and every year they come out of the gate in a fucking coma.  Now, they play three straight on the road, starting with tonight in Atlanta (followed by Pittsburgh and New Orleans).  Can you say 0-5?
  23. Tennessee Titans (1-1) – They won a game 26-10 and lost a game 26-10.  Those are weird scores to have in a football game, let alone in back-to-back games.  That’s all I have to say about the Titans.
  24. New York Jets (1-1) – I’m even more interested in what the Jets have to offer after almost sticking it to the Packers.  They’re not a good team, don’t get me wrong; but can they be decent?
  25. Cleveland Browns (1-1) – I know the Browns can be decent!  Do they weirdly have the Saints’ number, or is it just me?
  26. Washington Redskins (1-1) – I’m definitely more afraid of the Redskins with Cousins than I am with RGIII.  A lot of unhappy fantasy owners this week.
  27. St. Louis Rams (1-1) – You still have to write off the Rams, right?  Yeah, I think so.  I think so …
  28. Houston Texans (2-0) – Yes, they’re undefeated, but they’ve only played the dregs of the league.  Washington and Oakland?  No thank you.
  29. New York Giants (0-2) – This team is amazingly bad and in need of a total overhaul from top to bottom.  They remind me a lot of the 2008/2009 Seahawks.
  30. Minnesota Vikings (1-1) – I don’t know how much you can learn about a team that’s faced one of the worst teams (with a ton of injuries) and one of the best teams.  One thing is for certain:  Matt Cassel needs to be out of football.
  31. Oakland Raiders (0-2) – Derek Carr isn’t quite the world-beater I thought he was going to be.  Then again, they’ve faced two pretty solid defenses with the Texans and Jets.  Doesn’t get much easier with the Patriots and Dolphins coming up.
  32. Jacksonville Jaguars (0-2) – In a freak occurrence, they took a 17-0 lead against the Eagles.  They have since been outscored 75-10.  Worst team in football, you’ve returned to me!

Reviewing The Wild Card Weekend

So, the Seahawks get to face the Saints.  I’ll have my take on why we’ll beat them later in the week.  For now, let’s take a look back at the weekend that was.

Indianapolis defeats Kansas City 45-44

There was a great article on Grantland last week about the woes of the Kansas City sports fan.  People like to anoint Cleveland as the most tortured sports city, even though they’ve actually won championships in football (granted, in the 40s and 50s), and their baseball franchise has actually PLAYED in the World Series and won a title.  But, whatever, it’s Cleveland, so you might as well let them win SOMETHING, even if it is as dubious a title as this.

Kansas City certainly belongs in the discussion, especially recently.  They haven’t won an NFL playoff game since January of 1994, with Joe Montana at the helm.  And, as of this weekend, the saga continues.

To gag away a 28-point lead (the second-largest deficit overcome in NFL Playoff history, behind the Bills/Oilers game in January of 1993, with a 32-point halftime deficit) early in the third quarter is incomprehensible.  With the way the Colts were playing, with Andrew Luck having a terrible first half & change, I couldn’t envision a scenario where the Colts made their way back into the game after being down 38-10.

And yet, doesn’t it make sense?  Andrew Luck, the golden child, pulls a miracle out of his ass thanks to an amazing game out of T.Y. Hilton and some of the worst defense I’ve ever seen out of the Chiefs.

You gotta wonder now:  Is this as good as it gets for the Chiefs under this regime?  It looks like they’re going to stick with Alex Smith for the duration, which, I guess, isn’t the worst thing in the world.  The only thing is:  he’s never going to get any better; it’s only going to go downhill.  Alex Smith rarely costs you a game, but when the going gets tough, he also rarely goes out and wins you a game either.  That defense was pretty rock solid through most of the 2013 season, but depth was a real issue when people started getting injured.  They likely don’t have the weapons they need on offense to really be elite (outside of the running game, of course), Dwayne Bowe is no longer a #1 receiver, which makes Alex Smith’s job that much tougher.

Going forward, in upcoming seasons, there are a bunch of teams in the AFC whose situations you have to like more than the Chiefs.  I think they’re just going to be a run-of-the-mill playoff team going forward.  They’ll get there – they may even get a win in the playoffs eventually (whenever Peyton Manning falls off the cliff and the Chiefs take over that division for a season) – but I highly doubt they’ll ever get to the Super Bowl or win one with their current roster set-up.

As for Indy, the sky is the limit as they move on.  Great offense almost always trumps great defense.  I won’t count them out of any game against the Patriots, that’s for damn sure.

Finally, as for me, I missed this pick (just barely), leaving me 0-1 to start the weekend.

San Diego Defeats Cincinnati 27-10

In the 2011 NFL Draft, the Seattle Seahawks selected James ‘Pancakes’ Carpenter in the first round, at pick #25.  We were coming off of Matt Hasselbeck’s final season in Seattle – a shocking 7-9 division title and playoff victory against the Saints – and everyone knew one thing about this team:  we needed to draft a “quarterback of the future”.

Prior to 2010, we traded for Charlie Whitehurst, but after one season that proved to be a bust.  We made our peace with Hasselbeck leaving and were left with a questionmark going into 2011.  We would eventually pick up Tarvaris Jackson, who was but another stopgap for this team.  The 2011 draft:  THAT’S where we were going to find our quarterback.

Cam Newton, Jake Locker, Blaine Gabbert, and Christian Ponder all came off the board before the Seahawks could pick.  That 2010 playoff run really screwed us in the long run, because picking so low in the draft (for a team that wasn’t very good to begin with) didn’t leave us with many options.  Of course, Gabbert and Ponder are the apocalypse, and Locker has struggled to stay healthy throughout his career.  Really, we dodged a bullet in a way by having the 25th pick.

Of course, we ended up dodging an even BIGGER bullet by taking Carpenter instead of Andy Dalton – who fell to Cincinnati in round 2, at pick #35.

Andy Dalton does JUST enough good things to keep him employed as a starting quarterback in this league.  But, he does JUST enough horrible things to ensure that his teams will never see the light of day in a Super Bowl.  Sunday’s game was no different, as he made two horrible throws for interceptions and also lost a fumble.  People like to clown on Tony Romo, but I would choose him in a HEARTBEAT over Andy Dalton.  Tony Romo has greatness about him, but he’s just kind of a fuck-up sometimes.  Dalton does nothing great, yet plays like he does, and that’s what gets him into trouble.  He thinks he can make all the throws, but he can’t.  His career to date has been a never-ending series of long bombs to A.J. Green … and that’s it.  If he didn’t have A.J. Green, he would be no better than the Kyle Ortons or Matt Cassels of the world.

San Diego, meanwhile, gets to go back and play Denver – a team they’ve beaten IN Denver this season.  I still like Denver in that game, but when Philip Rivers gets going, he’s one of the best quarterbacks in football.  That game could be REALLY fun to watch next week.

And, of course, since I picked Cincy, that makes me 0-2 for the weekend thus far.

New Orleans Defeats Philadelphia 26-24

Saturday night was movie night, which meant that I missed the tail end of the Colts/Chiefs game and all of the Saints/Eagles game.  By all accounts, this was an entertaining one, and the better team ultimately came away victorious.

My mantra when picking playoff games is to pick the better team, regardless of whether they’re home or away.  New Orleans is just flat-out better than Philadelphia.  So, bringing up arguments about how the Saints have never won on the road in the playoffs is just stupid; you didn’t think that was going to go on forever, did you?

Philly is good.  Nick Foles really surprised and impressed me this season.  But, they’re just not there yet.  They’ve got the weapons on offense to go pretty far in this league (making an already-stacked NFC that much more formidable), but until they get some talent infused into that defense, I don’t like them to be much more than the NFC’s answer to what Kansas City or Cincinnati are in the AFC.

I think it’s cute that New Orleans thinks they have a chance against Seattle this week.  One would think:  you stunk up the joint earlier this year, why would you expect that to change now?  They seem to think, however, that since they’ve played in this environment before, they’re going to be “used to it” now.  Yeah, right.

In 2010, the Saints came in here for a playoff game and, sure, it was pretty loud and rowdy (that Beastmode run really electrified the crowd anyway), but no one really expected us to do anything in the playoffs that year.  I would argue that – Beastquake aside – the fans were more hard core in this year’s Monday Night Football game against the Saints.  Because this is a team with expectations.  And, that was a game that weighed heavily on the NFC #1 seeding.

But, the game on Saturday?  You’re going to see a level of 12th Man Mania that you’ve never seen before – not even in the Carolina NFC Championship game in 2005/2006.  It’s only a shame the game isn’t on at night, to give the fans a chance to REALLY get liquored up.

Drew Brees, you’re going to want to pack some extra strength headache medicine this weekend.  Our fans aren’t only going to try to inconvenience your offense, but we’re actively going to try to make your ears bleed.

Also, this game put me on the board with a win, making me 1-2 on the weekend.

San Francisco Defeats Green Bay 23-20

You gotta give Green Bay a lot of credit:  they’ve been beaten repeatedly by the 49ers in recent years, and yet they’ve done absolutely nothing to rectify the most glaring issue about their team:  the defense.

Predictably, Colin Kaepernick ran and threw all over the Packers on Sunday, because that’s what he does.  Green Bay puts up shitty pressure on the quarterback, ultimately never touching the man.  But, they also run themselves completely out of the play, so Kaepernick has these GIGANTIC running lanes with which to gash the defense.  Here’s a thought:  let Kaepernick defeat you with his arm.  Yeah yeah, I know, in the regular season he did just that, but what are the odds he’s going to throw for over 400 yards again?  Especially in sub-freezing weather conditions, on the road, on a shitty field?

His 227 yards through the air wasn’t doing much against the Packers.  But, his 98 yards on the ground fucking MURDERED Green Bay.  Way to breathe, no-breath.

So, it’s official, if the Seahawks are going to make the Super Bowl, they’re going to have to go through at least one elite defense, as San Francisco goes on to play Carolina.  My preference is to play the Panthers, because I don’t think they’re as good as the 49ers, and because I look for every opportunity to see disappointment in Jim Harbaugh’s fat, stupid face.  I hope his kids are terrible toy-makers and constantly talk about how much they want to be dentists.

After this game, I’m 2-2 on the playoffs.  Pretty standard, if you ask me.  Later on in the week, I’ll come back with my Divisional Round Predictions.

Where Would The Seahawks Be Right Now With Matt Flynn?

I read this post by Adam Schefter just a few minutes ago.  Well, I read the part about the Seahawks and Russell Wilson and ditched the rest.

The Seahawks are lucky to have Russell Wilson?  Sure, I’ll buy that.  But, I would say with equal authority that Russell Wilson is lucky to have the Seahawks.

If he was drafted by Indy or Washington, what kind of future is that?  They already picked their “Franchise Quarterbacks” #1 and #2 overall, respectively.  To my knowledge, neither Andrew Luck or RGIII have been injured (aside from a brief concussion issue early in RGIII’s season).  And even if they were, it’s not like some 3rd rounder is going to supplant them after a few games.

If Wilson was on either of those teams, he’d be languishing right now.  I’m sure he’d be learning a lot and growing as a player, but not at the rate he is currently.  Thanks to Pete Carroll and the Seattle Seahawks.

Now, if he were in Philly, that’s something of another story.  Still, you have to wonder, after Vick went down, would Wilson be enough to turn that franchise around?  Remember, Russell Wilson wasn’t RUSSELL WILSON in the first few weeks of this season.  He was just another rookie, poking and prodding his way through the NFL way of life.  Getting knocked around, throwing mistake balls, and being carried by a solid running game and an outstanding defense.

Philly has neither a solid running game NOR an outstanding defense.  They have an offensive line that’s utter crap.  They have a head coach who is remarkably unwilling to devote time, energy, or resources to the running game.  And, let’s face it, they have a head coach on his last legs in this league.  Andy Reid is probably going to be fired after this season.  If he is, it’ll be because this year’s Eagles team has underperformed to the point where it’s one of the worst teams in the entire league.  At the point where Michael Vick was done for the year, would Russell Wilson have been enough to turn things around and save Reid’s job?

I would wager:  probably not.

I’m not trying to argue that Seattle is the perfect situation for a guy like Wilson.  I’m sure any number of teams in the league, had they taken a flier on him, would be in pretty good shape right now, having handed the keys over to what appears to be a diminutive quarterbacking prodigy.

Just not those three specifically.

Anyway, that’s not really why I started writing this post.  There’s a part where he says:

Seattle would have had to lean on Matt Flynn. And who knows whether the Seahawks would be in the position they are today, closing in on a wild-card spot while preparing to host Arizona on Sunday.

The fact of the matter is, we won’t know whether the Seahawks would be in this position or not.  We’ll never know, because Matt Flynn never got the chance.  He very well could’ve been the second coming of Kevin Kolb.  And maybe instead of being 7-5, we’d be 5-7 or worse.  But, for some reason, I don’t think so.

I don’t think Flynn is as bad as Kolb.  In fact, I think he could be decently good.  On the low end, he’s probably a Matt Cassel, a Kyle Orton, a Ryan Fitzpatrick.  Those aren’t TERRIBLE quarterbacks.  Put them on good teams and they should be able to do just enough to get you TO the playoffs.  On the high end, Flynn is probably someone like Matt Hasselbeck, Joe Flacco or a Tony Romo.  Put him on a good team and he could very well contend for a Super Bowl.  Not the best of the best, but somewhere in that soft, creamy middle.

But, again, that’s just my perception.  I’m no scouting genius or anything.  I never saw the guy in practice, I don’t know him personally, I don’t remember him from his college days.  I’ve seen highlights of his two regular season starts and I saw him in a couple of pre-season games back in August.  It’s a feeling, no more.

And, if my feeling is right, then I think we’re right here at or around 7-5 either way.  I think we’re able to win that game in Arizona in week 1 with Flynn.  I think that instead of being known for the “Fail Mary”, that Green Bay game is most known for Matt Flynn executing a flawless gameplan that sees the Seahawks winning that game comfortably.  I also think we’re able to do a little more against the Rams.  With Flynn, we very well could’ve started the season 5-0, with everyone absolutely enamored with our savvy in getting Flynn for such a bargain!

But, does he hold up through the New England game?  Maybe we drop that one.  I think regardless, we lose in San Francisco.  And I don’t think there was much more Wilson could’ve done in that Detroit game; our defense flat-out blew it.  That drags us down to 5-3.  The Vikings and Jets were pushovers, so we probably win those to go up to 7-3.  But, again, the defense gagged it away in Miami.  And I don’t think there’s a chance in hell Flynn wins us that game in Chicago.

Last week.  That was the game.  That was the one game of the year where we won it specifically BECAUSE we had Wilson and not Flynn.  His running, the threat of his running, his pinpoint passing, it was all on display.  Wilson has that element that Flynn doesn’t.  Not that I’m saying Wilson is a “running quarterback”, because he’s not.  He’s a quarterback who CAN run, though, and that’s a huge difference-maker.

Either way, I’m pretty happy with the choice to go to Wilson over Flynn.  But, that having been said, I don’t think – at this point in their respective careers – we’re talking about two guys who are so far apart in their skillsets.  Wilson might go on to greater things – one would certainly think his ceiling is a lot higher – but that has little-to-no bearing on where the Seahawks would be right now had Flynn started from Game 1.

Of course, the big wildcard that I’ve chosen to ignore is health.  Would Flynn still be playing at this point in the season?  I’m not saying that the protection has been SO bad, but you just never know.  Guys suffer fluke injuries all the time.  So, what does this team look like if we’re shuffling back and forth between a sometimes-healthy Flynn and a rookie quarterback who hasn’t gotten the proper amount of practice reps throughout the season?

Probably not too good.  And that’s the great equalizer.  Talent is a big part of the success of any team.  But, almost equally as important is health.  The Seahawks have been insanely healthy thus far this season (knock on wood).  Without that health, you’d be looking at another 4-12 dick in the yard.

Suck For Luck Impotence Rankings Vol. IX

I’m pretty sure I made some declaration some weeks back about how I was going to see this thing through to the bitter end.  Well, to hell with that; the Suck For Luck Impotence Rankings have had a good run.  It’s going on hiatus for a while though, because who cares?

Before I close shop on this feature, I’d like to talk about quarterbacks and the NFL Draft.  Obviously, the Seahawks are going to have to draft a quarterback in the 2012 draft, so I thought I’d take a brief look back over the last 8 NFL drafts.  Why 8?  Because 2004 was the last truly great draft for NFL quarterbacks; it’s something we’re going to have to hope repeats itself if we ever want to have hope in Seahawksland in the foreseeable future.

In the past 8 NFL drafts, 104 quarterbacks have been taken.  Out of those 104 quarterbacks, I would estimate 20 have been servicable on the NFL field.  That’s being GENEROUS, because I’m including Alex Smith who has long been considered a huge bust (but has proven to be at least a competent game manager at times, including this year where the 49ers are dominating); Jason Campbell, who has at least shown in the past season-plus that he’s capable of winning games for the Oakland Raiders; and Kyle Orton, who for a while there was playing middle-of-the-road football until he lost his job this year for a rebuilding Broncos squad.

Now, if you want to count the truly ELITE quarterbacks out of that 104, you’re looking at the following list (in no particular order):

  • Eli Manning
  • Philip Rivers
  • Ben Roethlisberger
  • Matt Schaub
  • Aaron Rodgers
  • Joe Flacco
  • Matt Ryan
  • Matthew Stafford

Again, I’m probably being generous there; you could easily knock that list in half and I probably wouldn’t argue with you too much (still, we’re talking about 3 Super Bowl winners, another 3 who’ve made it to the playoffs more than once, Schaub who has two 4,000+ yard seasons under his belt and was well on his way to a third before he was injured last week, and Stafford who has proven to be excellent when he can stay healthy).  So, to be generous, let’s count ’em all:  8.  8 guys in 8 years.  These are franchise quarterbacks we’re talking about here!  Everyone who picks a quarterback in the first round does so with the expectation that THEIR guy will be a franchise quarterback.  And in the last eight seasons, we’ve averaged 1 per.

Of course, that number isn’t etched in stone.  Some of these guys I haven’t included in the 8 might just need more time.  But, I think it’s pretty safe to say that the bulk of the guys who I didn’t list AREN’T going to be turning any heads any time soon.

Want to look at it another way?  Let’s just look at the first three rounds.  Because, let’s face it, anything after that your chances are Slim-To-Fucking-None.  Do you know who has been even remotely worth a damn from the rounds 4-7 in the past 8 drafts?  Matt Cassel, Kyle Orton, and Ryan Fitzpatrick (all in the ’05 draft).  That is IT!  Of the 20 quarterbacks I referenced earlier, 3 of them came after the third round.  Only Matt Schaub was picked in the third round.  And only Andy Dalton was picked in the second round (the jury might still be out, but considering what he has achieved as a rookie, I’d definitely put him in the servicable pile).

That leaves 15 quarterbacks, who were all picked in the first round.  Out of a total of 23 quarterbacks taken in the first round.  But, let me remind you, I’m being generous here with my rankings!  In addition to those 8 elites above, and the other servicable guys in the last paragraph, I included the following, who are all first rounders:

  • Vince Young
  • Jay Cutler
  • Alex Smith
  • Jason Campbell
  • Sam Bradford
  • Josh Freeman
  • Mark Sanchez
  • Cam Newton

Vince Young is a head case and currently a backup; Cutler has a cannon of an arm, but hasn’t really put it all together yet; Smith and Campbell I’ve talked about; Bradford doesn’t even have two full seasons under his belt yet; Freeman could be great, but he’s yet to play with a full allotment of weapons; Sanchez could be terrible, but he’s been bequeathed an otherworldly defense and a pretty-good running game; and Newton LOOKS like the real deal, but he’s still a rookie leading a 2-7 team absolutely nowhere.

The point is, while 15 out of 23 sounds like pretty swell odds for a team drafting a QB in the first round, not all of those 15 are guys you’d actually feel comfortable handing the keys to your franchise.  Sure, their fanbases have to talk themselves into the Jay Cutlers and Alex Smiths of the world because that’s who they’re stuck with; but you know they’d rather have Aaron Rodgers, Philip Rivers, or even Ben Roethlisberger instead.

I know I have the utmost confidence that Andrew Luck will be that next Elite-Level quarterback.  But, will there be a second?  In only 2008 and 2004 have we had multiple Elite-Level QBs in the past 8 drafts.  Who knows?  Maybe it’s an Every Four Years kind of thing.

Anyway, without further ado, the Final Suck For Luck Impotence Rankings:

  1. Indianapolis (0-10) – Fuck you, Indianapolis.

Suck For Luck Impotence Rankings

To take the title one step further (HO-HO, it’s funny because most people do power rankings, but this … this is the opposite of that …), I was going to rank all the teams on a scale of 0 to 500 million sperms.  But, that seemed to be a bit … gross.

I don’t know why, but one of my favorite moments of every week during football season is when ESPN comes out with their Power Rankings.  It’s a pointless exercise:  what do a bunch of eggheads over at ESPN think is the order of NFL teams from best to worst?  But, whatever, I find it entertaining.  I like lists!  Something so inconsequential can make people so batshit crazy with rage (unlike the BCS rankings – which actually does have an effect on a team and where it finishes in relation to the National Championship – and which deserves all the batshit crazy rage foisted upon it).

For instance, I find this week’s list interesting.  They have the Seahawks as the very worst team in the NFL.  I guess I’m a little surprised, but I also find it somewhat encouraging.  Who knows; maybe all this negativity surrounding the team will lead to a black cloud of despair, which will in turn lead to more and more losses!  (I also find their list interesting because I don’t trust Green Bay’s defense as far as I can throw it; I don’t think they’re long for the ranks of the undefeated).

The following is a list of the teams I feel have the best chance of getting Andrew Luck.  Unlike the ESPN poll, this will be a list steeped in futility, with the Number 1 team being the very worst of the worst.  Also, unlike ESPN, I’m not just going to look at what happened in the previous week and make a snap judgment.  I mean, all of a sudden Buffalo rises 11 spots just because they got a last-second touchdown in their win over Oakland?  What does THAT mean?  That one touchdown makes them 11 spots better than if they hadn’t scored at all on that drive?

Also, I’m not in the business of ranking ALL the teams here.  Because who cares if Green Bay or New England have the lowest odds of drafting Andrew Luck?  My list is only going to include the top (or bottom, depending on how you look at it) ten or so teams.

Finally, for the record, I decided to wait until after Week 2 because it would be idiotic to rank the teams beforehand.  You don’t REALLY know how well most teams are going to play in the preseason.  And after one week, all you know is that half the teams won and half the teams lost.

So, here we go.  The Week 3 Suck For Luck Impotence Rankings:

  1. Seattle (0-2) – A real test is coming up this weekend.  Seattle’s home opener is going to be one of their most important games of the season.  Losing games like these to teams like Arizona is what separates the bad from the real suck-asses.  A loss this week makes 0-5 a veritable lock before the BYE.  A win here and the Seahawks are thrown into a tizzy.
  2. Cincinnati (1-1) – Yeah, okay, so they beat Cleveland in Cleveland.  I still refuse to buy this offense!  The only thing they’ve got going for them (which ultimately will send them tumbling down my list if I’m wrong) is their creampuffy schedule.  Cincy’s next five games:  vs. SF, vs. Buf, @ Jax, vs. Ind, @ Sea.  We’ll see how off-base I am if they lay the lumber to the 49ers this weekend.
  3. Indianapolis (0-2) – You could make the argument that Indy has played the worst overall football of anyone in the league through their first two games.  I’m not gonna argue with you too much, but I will say that Houston looks pretty damn good this year.  And as for Cleveland, they shocked some teams last year and I expect that to continue this year.  Nevertheless, Kerry Collins is awful.  BUT, the main reason I won’t put them lower on the list is:  while Collins is awful, he’s still a veteran.  These veteran types, if they stay healthy, always tend to squeak out a victory here and there that nobody expects.  Granted, it probably won’t happen this week against the Steelers; I’m telling you, it’s gonna happen.  And, if Peyton Manning doesn’t get shut down for the entire season, I’d be on the lookout for some cheap wins at the end to take them out of the Suck For Luck Sweepstakes.  Until Manning is officially put on IR, I’m going to be hard-pressed to put Indy at the top of my list.
  4. Jacksonville (1-1) – ESPN has the Jags ranked 21st.  That’s INSANE!  They cut David Garrard, they barely beat the Titans in week 1 at home, and now they’ve got themselves an official Quarterback Controversy.  Pick your poison:  Mr. 4-Interception Luke McCown, or Rookie Blaine Gabbert.  Don’t sleep on Jacksonville; they may have started out 1-0, but they might end up 1-15.
  5. Kansas City (0-2) – KC scares me right now.  They’ve been outscored 89-10 in the first two games.  They lost Jamaal Charles for the season (among many other injuries).  Matt Cassel has 4 picks to his lone TD.  AND, their first place schedule isn’t doing them any favors (well, I take that back, they do go to Indy in week five).  What I’m hanging my hat on right now is this:  they’ve played two of the best offenses in the NFL.  Detroit and Buffalo have been shot out of a cannon and are keeping pace quite well with the likes of New England, Green Bay, and New Orleans.  Plus, in spite of the injuries, KC isn’t THIS bad.  They’re not going to continue to get blown out by 40 points every game!  Cassel will pick his game up and KC will end up with 4 or 5 wins probably.  Don’t forget, the AFC West isn’t THAT good.
  6. Carolina (0-2) – The Panthers are CERTAINLY a much better team than I gave them credit for, and that comes all the way down to Cam Newton being the second coming of Johnny Unitas.  Back-to-back 400-yard passing games, back-to-back 1-score defeats to the likes of Arizona (on the road) and the NFL champion Green Bay Packers (at home).  And guess what!  This week they host their expansion sisters Jacksonville.  If that doesn’t spell 1-2, I don’t know what does.  Mark my words, Carolina will beat at least one playoff-bound team this year (to go along with a handful of non-playoff bound teams).  I fully expect Carolina to drop on my Suck for Luck rankings as the season progresses.
  7. Cleveland (1-1) – I have to put the Browns on here because they lost to the Bengals at home.  That’s pretty much my only reason.  They have a ton of winnable games this year and will likely be the 2011 version of the 2010 Oakland Raiders (except, they already lost a game in their division, so I guess scratch that).
  8. Miami (0-2) – Tough start for the Dolphins.  Two home games, two home losses.  It’s not getting ANY easier with three road games against Cleveland, San Diego, and the Jets.  In fact, the more I look at this thing, the less I’m liking the looks of the Dolphins.  They play the NFC East (which appears strong across the board), and the AFC West (which is bad, but is it any worse than the Dolphins?).  I have to hold onto my belief that the Dolphins are better than this and will gut out some victories here and there.  But, I’m definitely keeping them on my radar after they lose their next three games.  Unless they don’t (which, you know, they HAVE proven to be a better road team the last couple years).
  9. Minnesota (0-2) – First of all, McNabb is done.  He’s done-er than done!  That having been said, they’ve still got AP, and just because McNabb is done doesn’t mean he’s not going to look a little frisky every now and then.  The only concern for Seattle Suck For Luckers is:  will McNabb get injured before leading them to a few victories?  Because if Ponder is pushed into the fire too soon, it could be a long Vikings season.
  10. Washington (2-0) – These chickenfuckers are terrible, and yet they’re 2-0!  How about THAT.  I fully expect the ‘Skins to come crashing down to Earth in the coming weeks, but those 2 wins might be more than enough to prevent them from the top spot in my rankings (and from the top spot in next year’s NFL Draft).
  11. San Francisco (1-1) – Here’s a team that should be 2-0 (and if they were, they wouldn’t be on my radar right now).  But, look at their short body of work so far.  It took two special teams return touchdowns for them to beat the lowly Seahawks; then they gagged one away in overtime against the Cowboys and Tony Romo’s punctured lung!  They play 8 of their next 14 games on the road (which is just a stupid way of saying their first two games were at home), but I fully expect them to win enough games to keep them away from the top spot.  Nevertheless, this would be the PERFECT place for Luck to land.  49er nation would eat him up a la mode.
  12. Denver (1-1) – I can see the Broncos getting bumped off this list in favor of someone like Arizona (ESPECIALLY if they lose in Seattle this weekend), but just look at them right now.  They got beat on Monday night at home against the hated Raiders, then it took all of their might to hold off the Bengals (again, at home).  Denver would be another perfect spot for Luck to land.  Oh, what am I saying, they have The Tebow!  They couldn’t POSSIBLY need another quarterback!

The Argument Against Benching Hasselbeck

Yesterday, I made the argument that the Seahawks should bench Matt Hasselbeck, but for just the 1 game.  More of a punishment for poor play kinda thing than a, “Let’s See What The Ol’ Backup Can Do” kinda thing.  While I stand behind my stance, I will say that I definitely failed to look at all aspects of this deal.

On the one hand, what are you really getting out of starting Charlie Whitehurst one time, late in the season (or, for that matter, two times, as many fans want to have happen)?  You’re not going to learn much about a quarterback in such a small sample size.  People seem to acknowledge that fact, while at the same time rushing to snap judgment on Football Jesus based on one bad start against one good team.

For the record, I refuse to take into account his college career as further proof of his ineptitude.  Yes he played for 2 seasons at Clemson and no, he didn’t set the world on fire.  But, what did Tom Brady do in college?  What did Matt Cassel do in college?  Is he in their league?  Probably not, but how would we know?

Let’s face it, you need at least 6 consecutive games to make a determination on just knowing if a guy has POTENTIAL or not.  You can’t throw him into the fire in impossible situations (at home vs. a dominating Giants team; on the road, across country, against a winning Tampa team) and then go ahead and handcuff him even further (max protection, reducing the number of receivers he has to throw to) and expect him to come out of the gate ready to mow motherfuckers down.  Let him ease in a little bit.  Put him in there against some dogs.  If you really wanted to give Whitehurst a shot, you’d see how he does against Arizona or Carolina.  THEN work him up to the likes of the 49ers and Buccaneers.

But, the real argument has nothing to do with Charlie at all.  This is Matt Hasselbeck’s team.  It has been for over half a decade.  He’s done more for this organization than any other Seahawk who’s put on the uniform.  Is he going to go out on top like John Elway?  Doesn’t look like it, does it?  Nevertheless, he’s going to go down as the winningest quarterback in team history if he wins one more game, and I think we should give him the shot.  Hell, he’s earned the shot.

Likewise, these could be his last two games with us.  Fans in this city don’t seem to appreciate that and would rather run the bum out of town.  It’s funny, they’ll sit at Safeco Field and watch a guy clearly past his prime and cheer whenever he rolls a slow grounder to second base; but a quarterback who has been the heart and soul of this team – who’s actually brought his team to a championship game unlike any counterpart in a Mariners uniform – gets nothing but boos and chants for the backup in spite of the fact that we’re in a divisional race and hold our destiny in our hands.

Matt Hasselbeck has been a problem the last four weeks, but he’s far from the ONLY problem.