A Look Back at the Impressive Draft History of the John Schneider Era

With the draft coming up in a couple days, it’s always fun to look back at all the success the Seahawks have had in their current regime, overhauling a franchise in the toilet and propping it up as world champions.  You don’t get this good, this fast, without some remarkable drafting and some remarkable coaching.  Who can say if all of these guys would have been just as good under the tutelage of lesser men?  What we know is that a lot of these guys panned out in a big way, thanks to the system we have in place.

To give the full picture, you actually have to go back to the 2009 draft, when we had Jim Mora Jr. as our head coach and Tim Ruskell calling the shots on the personnel side.

Like all of Ruskell’s drafts after his first one back in 2005 – where he nabbed Lofa Tatupu and Leroy Hill, to solidify the middle of our defense – his 2009 class was a huge disaster.  The Seahawks had the #4 pick and wasted it on a bust of a player in Aaron Curry.  Given the downward trajectory of the franchise at that point, you had to wonder where Ruskell found his erroneous sense of job security, as he traded away Seattle’s second round pick (37th overall) to the Denver Broncos for a 2010 first round pick (to further confuse matters, the Seahawks ended up trading 3rd & 4th rounders to get back into the second round – 49th overall – to select Max Unger, the last bit of good from the Ruskell regime).

With that 2010 first round pick, however, the Seahawks would build their dynasty.  As we’re all well aware, the 2009 Seahawks ended up being a trainwreck just like the 2008 variety, leading the franchise to earn the #6 draft pick in 2010.  The 2009 Broncos did their part by going 8-8 and failing to make the playoffs, which meant that their first round draft pick (which was now ours) was 14th overall.

While the 2010 draft wasn’t quite up to the elite level of the 2012 class, it seriously jumpstarted things in a big way.

  • First Round, #6 – Russell Okung (LT)
  • First Round, #14 – Earl Thomas (S)
  • Second Round, #60 – Golden Tate (WR)
  • Fourth Round, #111 – Walter Thurmond (CB)
  • Fourth Round, #127 – E.J. Wilson (DE)
  • Fifth Round, #133 – Kam Chancellor (S)
  • Sixth Round, #185 – Anthony McCoy (TE)
  • Seventh Round, #236 – Dexter Davis (DE)
  • Seventh Round, #245 – Jameson Konz (WR/TE/DE/FB)

Of note is that the Seahawks were originally slated to draft much earlier in the second round, but ended up swapping picks with San Diego (along with giving them a third rounder in 2011) to trade for Charlie Whitehurst.  So, you can’t tell me there weren’t some roadblocks in the early going of the John Schneider era.

Also, it wasn’t all peaches and cream out of Tim Ruskell in the 2009 draft, as he sold off our 2010 third round pick to get Deon Butler in that 2009 class.  The Seahawks also ended up trading back in the 4th & 6th rounds with Tennessee to grab LenDale White and Kevin Vickerson.  Vickerson proved to be an adequate defensive tackle; White never made the roster.

In a much happier deal, the Seahawks acquired their extra fourth round pick (which they used on E.J. Wilson, who didn’t pan out) and managed to get Chris Clemons from the Eagles (who very much DID pan out), and all we had to give up was Darryl Tapp.

More deals to come.  The Seahawks traded away their original fifth round pick to the Jets for Leon Washington and the Jets’ 7th round pick.  But, the Seahawks got back into the fifth round (ahead of their original pick) in a deal with Detroit where we also received some defensive end, where we only gave up Rob Sims (a guard who was never all that good with the Seahawks) and a seventh round pick.  The Seahawks would use that pick to draft Kam Chancellor, locking down their two starting safeties in the same class.

As far as I can tell, the Seahawks didn’t really get much from the undrafted free agent class of 2010, though Lemuel Jeanpierre and Breno Giacomini were both brought in that year.  And, obviously, the Seahawks would bring in Marshawn Lynch via trade during the season.  But, when you look at that draft class, you’ve got 6 key contributors, including 4 starters (Okung, Thomas, Tate, and Chancellor) and great ones at that.

That brings us to 2011, or the mule of the John Schneider draft classes.  It gets a lot of flack for being mediocre, but upon further review was pretty underrated.

To kick things off, the 7-9 Seahawks of 2010 were stupidly allowed into the playoffs by way of winning one of the worst divisions in recorded NFL history.  Even though that team had literally no chance of winning the Super Bowl, it still made some noise with the Beastquake run and the unlikely upset of the previous year’s Super Bowl champion Saints.  Of course, the Seahawks would go on to lose the very next week in Chicago, meaning that for all the hubbub, the Seahawks would end up picking 25th overall in the 2011 draft.

If you were like me, you saw this as a sign of doom.  The 2010 Seahawks were not good.  Not by a longshot.  And, to be hampered with drafting so low in the first round (and in subsequent rounds) would only set things back that much further.  Apparently unable to find a partner with which to trade back, the Seahawks made that selection James Carpenter, who started as our right tackle before getting bumped inside to guard.  Everyone thought this was a reach, and history has proven this to be true; Carpenter was adequate at best, but not a true impact player you’d hope to get in the first round.  Nevertheless, he was a starter all four years, so he wasn’t quite the crime against humanity everyone makes him out to be (indeed, his current salary with the Jets would speak to how other teams have come to value his strong run blocking abilities).

  • First Round, #25 – James Carpenter (OL)
  • Third Round, #75 – John Moffitt (G)
  • Fourth Round, #99 – K.J. Wright (LB)
  • Fourth Round, #107 – Kris Durham (WR)
  • Fifth Round, #154 – Richard Sherman (CB)
  • Fifth Round, #156 – Mark LeGree (S)
  • Sixth Round, #173 – Byron Maxwell (CB)
  • Seventh Round, #205 – Lazarius Levingston (DE)
  • Seventh Round, #242 – Malcolm Smith (LB)

The Seahawks ended up trading away their second round pick to the Lions to pick up an extra third & fourth round picks (used on Moffitt and Durham).  Recall they gave away their original third round pick in 2010 to get Charlie Whitehurst.  All in all, nothing too impressive with any of these moves, as Whitehurst was a bust, Moffitt ended up getting traded to Denver after a mediocre rookie season, and Durham never panned out with Seattle.  In that same Lions trade, the Seahawks moved up in the fifth and seventh rounds, which they used to grab Richard Sherman (GREAT!) and Lazarius Levingston (WHO?).

The Seahawks gave up their original fourth round pick in the Marshawn Lynch trade (as well as a conditional 2012 pick that ended up being a fifth rounder).  However, the Seahawks got back into the fourth round by trading Deion Branch back to the Patriots.  Branch was a turd sandwich in Seattle, and we used the pick we got from the Pats to grab K.J. Wright, who has been a stalwart for our linebacking corps.

That above trade wasn’t the last time we’d deal with the Lions.  In a spectacular move, the Seahawks traded away former bust under the Ruskell regime, Lawrence Jackson, to get the Lions’ sixth round pick, which we used to grab Byron Maxwell, a huge part of our success in his final two years here (and a great special teamer and backup overall).  That made up for giving away our original sixth round pick to the 49ers for Kentwan Balmer, who would go on to be cut prior to the 2011 season.

To wrap things up, the Seahawks traded their original seventh rounder to Philly for an offensive lineman who did nothing.  However, the Seahawks were granted a compensatory pick, which we used on Super Bowl MVP Malcolm Smith.

Among the 2011 undrafted free agents, we have Doug Baldwin (WR), Ricardo Lockette (WR), Jeron Johnson (S), and Mike Morgan (LB).  This would also be the year the Seahawks took a flyer on Brandon Browner from the CFL, among many other free agent acquisitions.

When you look at the haul of just the rookies, though, you’re talking about 10 contributors, including 5 starters (Carpenter, Wright, Sherman, Maxwell (eventually), and Baldwin).

That brings us to 2012, or one of the greatest draft classes you’ll ever see.  The 2011 were again 7-9, but thankfully weren’t saddled with a futile playoff appearance.  As such, they were granted the 12th overall selection, which they promptly traded to Philly to move back to 15.  The Seahawks were granted picks in the fourth (Jaye Howard, DT) and sixth round (Jeremy Lane, CB), and away we go!

  • First Round, #15 – Bruce Irvin (DE/LB)
  • Second Round, #47 – Bobby Wagner (LB)
  • Third Round, #75 – Russell Wilson (QB)
  • Fourth Round, #106 – Robert Turbin (RB)
  • Fourth Round, #114 – Jaye Howard (DT)
  • Fifth Round, #154 – Korey Toomer (LB)
  • Sixth Round, #172 – Jeremy Lane (CB)
  • Sixth Round, #181 – Winston Guy (S)
  • Seventh Round, #225 – J.R. Sweezy (G)
  • Seventh Round, #232 – Greg Scruggs (DE)

Not to be stopped, the Seahawks traded back in the second round as well, this time with the Jets.  We would pick up extra picks in the fifth and seventh rounds (Toomer & Scruggs, respectively).  That one didn’t totally pan out, though I would argue injuries to both players hampered their ability to make a significant impact early in their careers.  Nevertheless, you can sense a theme:  the Seahawks wanted as many picks in this draft as possible, as it was laden with talent.

No more trades until the seventh round, where the Seahawks got the pick they’d use to nab Sweezy from the Raiders, in addition to a conditional 2013 pick (which ended up being in the fifth round) for the privilege of jettisoning Aaron Curry (who would only last with the Raiders for a little over a year before being waived).  The Seahawks did trade away their original seventh rounder for Tyler Polumbus (from the Lions), who was a starter here, but wasn’t any good.

The Seahawks also got Jermaine Kearse (WR) and DeShawn Shead (CB) from the ranks of the undrafted free agents.  All told, this class netted the Seahawks 9 contributors, with 5 starters (Irvin, Wagner, Wilson, Sweezy, and Kearse), with Lane expected to start this year, given the big money he made this offseason to re-sign with the Seahawks.

Obviously, the 2012 squad made a huge leap, thanks to the Seahawks’ tremendous draft success.  In those three classes alone, you’re talking about 14 starters, and 25 contributors overall.  The 11-5 record, and first round victory against the Redskins, meant the Seahawks would draft 25th again in the first round in 2013 (as they did back in 2011).  In something of a stunner of a move, the Seahawks would trade away this pick, as well as its seventh rounder, and a 2014 third rounder, for the right to get Percy Harvin and sign him to an ill-advised huge free agent deal.

  • Second Round, #62 – Christine Michael (RB)
  • Third Round, #87 – Jordan Hill (DT)
  • Fourth Round, #123 – Chris Harper (WR)
  • Fifth Round, #137 – Jesse Williams (DT)
  • Fifth Round, #138 – Tharold Simon (CB)
  • Fifth Round, #158 – Luke Willson (TE)
  • Sixth Round, #194 – Spencer Ware (RB)
  • Seventh Round, #220 – Ryan Seymour (OL)
  • Seventh Round, #231 – Ty Powell (DE)
  • Seventh Round, #241 – Jared Smith (OL)
  • Seventh Round, #242 – Michael Bowie (OL)

The 2013 draft has proven to be the real dog of the John Schneider classes.  Nevertheless, let’s run through the moves that got it to where it was.  As a volume drafter, Schneider found multiple ways to recoup draft picks after spending so much on Percy Harvin.

To start, the Seahawks moved back in the second round, from 56 to 62, and received from the Ravens a fifth and a sixth (165 & 199).  As you can see from above, the Seahawks didn’t draft at either of those positions.  That’s because the Seahawks traded both of those picks to the Lions to get pick #137 (Williams) at the top of the fifth round.  The very next selection came from the Raiders in the Aaron Curry deal, which we used on Simon (who has been good, but has never been healthy).

The flurry of seventh rounders (none of whom were worth a damn) came from the Saints (pick 220, for some linebacker we gave them), and a couple of compensatory picks (#241 & #242).

Alvin Bailey was the only notable undrafted free agent in this class; he was a quality reserve along the offensive line, but nothing more.  All told, the Seahawks only managed to get one eventual starter in this class (Luke Willson, who has only been a starter thanks to injuries to Zach Miller and Jimmy Graham), and three other contributors (Michael, Hill, and Simon), though Spencer Ware got a crack at a job with the Chiefs and seems to be pretty good.

We all know what happened with that 2013 team, built on a rock solid foundation of draft picks.  Following that year, the team started to get picked apart a little bit, with free agents going to other teams.  With the 2013 class already looking like a bummer, the pressure was on John Schneider to right the ship with a banner 2014 draft.  He started it off by trading away our first round pick to the Vikings for a second straight year.  The Vikings would select Teddy Bridgewater with the 32nd pick in the class; the Seahawks would get Minnesota’s second and fourth round selections (40 & 108 overall).

Before Seattle could make a pick, we traded back again, this time with the Lions.  The Lions picked at 40, and also received our fifth round pick at 146 (which we got from the Raiders for Matt Flynn) in exchange for second, fourth, and seventh rounders from Detroit (45, 111, & 227).  At 45, the Seahawks finally made their first pick, selecting Paul Richardson.

  • Second Round, #45 – Paul Richardson (WR)
  • Second Round, #64 – Justin Britt (OL)
  • Fourth Round, #108 – Cassius Marsh (DE)
  • Fourth Round, #123 – Kevin Norwood (WR)
  • Fourth Round, #132 – Kevin Pierre-Louis (LB)
  • Fifth Round, #172 – Jimmy Staten (DT)
  • Sixth Round, #199 – Garrett Scott (OL)
  • Sixth Round, #208 – Eric Pinkins (DB/LB)
  • Seventh Round, #227 – Kiero Small (FB)

To make up for the loss of our third rounder (to the Vikings, in the Harvin deal the previous year), you can see why the Seahawks wanted to trade back so many times to start the draft.  They were able to pick up two extra fourth rounders.  That pick we got from the Vikings would go to Marsh, who has been a quality reserve and special teamer.  The Seahawks would use that 111th pick to trade with the Bengals to get pick 123 (Norwood) and an extra sixth rounder (Scott, who never made the team due to health concerns).  That seventh rounder from Detroit ended up being Kiero Small, who also didn’t make the team (the Seahawks would trade away their original seventh round pick to the Raiders for Terrelle Pryor, who never amounted to much of anything).

Among the undrafted free agents, we grabbed Garry Gilliam (OL), Brock Coyle (LB), and Dion Bailey (S).  At first glance, this class doesn’t look any more impressive than the 2013 class, but there are a number of under-the-radar players in there.  Right now, we’re looking at 2 starters (Britt and Gilliam), with four other contributors (Richardson, Marsh, KPL, and Coyle).  Depth guys, special teams guys, people to round out the roster.  When you figure so many of this team’s starters were already on the team ahead of this class, it’s not like you’re talking about a huge number of available openings.  Granted, a lot of this class hinges on Britt and Gilliam improving, and Richardson remaining healthy for a full season.  Should they fail, then you could make an argument that THIS is indeed the worst class of the John Schneider era.  But, until another couple years pass, it’s still TBD.

A second Super Bowl appearance for the 2014 squad meant that the 2015 Seahawks would be drafting quite low again.  With the obvious disaster of the Harvin trade looming over the franchise, the Seahawks opted to take another swing for the fences, trading away their first rounder (along with Max Unger) to the Saints for Jimmy Graham (and their fourth round pick, #112 overall).  We kick off the 2015 draft DEEP into the second round, with a controversial pick in Frank Clark (with domestic abuse allegations swirling around him, yet with an obvious cliff after him with regards to pass rushers in this draft class).

  • Second Round, #63 – Frank Clark (DE)
  • Third Round, #69 – Tyler Lockett (WR)
  • Fourth Round, #130 – Terry Poole (OL)
  • Fourth Round, #134 – Mark Glowinski (G)
  • Fifth Round, #170 – Tye Smith (CB)
  • Sixth Round, #209 – Obum Gwacham (DE)
  • Sixth Round, #214 – Kristjan Sokoli (OL)
  • Seventh Round, #248 – Ryan Murphy (DB)

The Seahawks had a ton of extra picks in this draft, which I’ll get to below.  They used a package of third (95), fourth (112), fifth (167), and sixth (181) round picks to move up to #69 from the Redskins.  That pick at 95 was our original third rounder.  That fourth rounder at 112 came from the Saints in the Jimmy Graham deal.  That fifth rounder at 167 was our original fifth rounder.  And that sixth rounder at 181 came from the Jets when we gave them Percy Harvin.  So, obviously, we sent away two picks that we got in deals, and two original picks.  We were more than happy to do so because 1) Tyler Lockett is a special player, and 2) we had extra picks throughout.

Poole was from our original fourth round pick; Glowinski was from a compensatory pick.  Tye Smith was also a compensatory pick, as were both of our sixth round guys (Gwacham and Sokoli).  That’s what you get when you don’t over-pay to keep your own players who aren’t necessarily worth big-money deals.

The only notable undrafted free agent from 2015 was Thomas Rawls, who very well may be our starting running back in 2016.  Combine him with Lockett (a Pro Bowl returner, and #3 wide receiver), Clark (valued rotation guy on the D-Line), Glowinski (projected starter at right guard in 2016), and Tye Smith (someone who will battle for minutes this pre-season) and you’ve got the makings of a very good draft class, that could be great if some of these players turn into elite starters.

With the 2016 draft class supposedly dripping with talent throughout, it wouldn’t be crazy to see the best Seahawks draft class since 2012.  Obviously, we’re drafting pretty low again, this year at #26, but with compenatory selections, the Seahawks already have 9 picks to select from, with a real opportunity to trade down in the first round to pick up some more (and gain some flexibility within the draft, in case we want to move up later).

I’m pretty excited for this year’s draft.  I’m sure I won’t know who these players are when I hear their names, but over the ensuing months, I look forward to getting to know them.

The 2012 Seahawks’ Draft Class Is Very Wealthy

I’ll never EVER get tired of mocking this Bleacher Report post that gave the Seahawks an F grade for their 2012 draft class.  Let’s overlook, for a moment, the fact that grading a draft class the day of, or the next day, or even in the first year, is pretty ridiculous.  You don’t know how good or bad players are going to be!  All you know is what the Mel Kipers of the world have been blathering on about, and they don’t know anything either!  Grading a draft class based on pre-draft projections and predictions is pretty silly.

But, there are some real juicy pull-quotes from that Bleacher Report link.  They called Bruce Irvin, “one of the worst picks in the first round I can ever remember,” before going on to say that the Seahawks, “didn’t draft any positions of need or draft for the future.”  Let’s run down those draft picks really quick:

  • Bruce Irvin, DE/OLB, 1st round, 15th overall
  • Bobby Wagner, MLB, 2nd round, 47th overall
  • Russell Wilson, QB, 3rd round, 75th overall
  • Robert Turbin, RB, 4th round, 106th overall
  • Jaye Howard, DT, 4th round, 114th overall
  • Korey Toomer, LB, 5th round, 154th overall
  • Jeremy Lane, CB, 6th round, 172nd overall
  • Winston Guy, S, 6th round, 181st overall
  • J.R. Sweezy, RG, 7th round, 225th overall
  • Gregg Scruggs, DE, 7th round, 232nd overall
  • Jermaine Kearse, WR, undrafted free agent
  • DeShawn Shead, CB/S, undrafted free agent

I tacked on those key undrafted guys to bolster my argument, but also because they’re still significant players in the NFL.  But, let’s look at this for a moment.  I’m sure I’m not the first to rail into Bleacher Report on this very topic, but they mentioned the Seahawks didn’t draft any positions of need.  Didn’t they?  Let’s look at the 2011 Seahawks for a bit.

Regarding pass rush – which they addressed in the first round with Bruce Irvin – the 2011 Seahawks were in the bottom third of the league, with 33 sacks.  They were essentially Chris Clemons and that’s it.  Looks like a position of need to me.

Regarding the middle linebacker spot – which they addressed in the second round with Bobby Wagner – the 2011 Seahawks were rolling with the aging and injury-prone David Hawthorne.  Lofa Tatupu was gone, K.J. Wright might have gotten a look there, but he’s better suited as an outside linebacker.  And, let’s not forget Aaron Curry on the other side; no help there!  I’d say middle linebacker was a HUGE area of need!

Then, there’s quarterback.  I’ll forgive Bleacher Report if they didn’t believe that the short, running quarterback could hold up in the NFL.  But, to say that quarterback wasn’t an area of need for this team – this team that was trotting out Tarvaris Jackson and Charlie Whitehurst the year before – is insanity.  And, don’t give me Matt “2 starts in the NFL” Flynn, because he was never going to be a sure thing.  In their analysis, Bleacher Report went on to say that Wilson, “doesn’t fit their offense at all,” and was “by far the worst move of the draft.”  Even in the infancy of Wilson’s professional career, while I might understand some doubt, I can’t even remotely understand how drafting him in the third round would be one of the two worst moves in the entire draft (with Irvin being the other one).  By all accounts at the time, if Wilson were only 2 inches taller, he would’ve been a first round, maybe even Top 10 draft pick.  He had all the tools, all the intangibles, everything going for him but those two inches.  The WORST pick?  Seems like hyperbole got the better of Bleacher Report here.  But, either way, what’s that about “fitting the offense”?  What offense?  You mean the one that likes to run the ball a lot?  You mean the one where Tarvaris Jackson was under pressure on a near-constant basis?  Seems to me a running quarterback – behind that suspect offensive line – was EXACTLY the right fit for our offense.

Anyway, I could go on and on.  But, I didn’t really intend on this being a Kill Bleacher Report post.  They’ve been killed enough, by a plethora of other writers out there.  What I want to look at is just how great this class really was.

For starters, all of the guys listed above – each and every person drafted, plus those two undrafted cats – are still in the league four years later.  That’s pretty big, when you think about it.  How many busts have we seen get drafted and are out of the league a few months later?

Now, obviously, not all of these guys are still with the Seahawks.  But, that just goes to show you how strong this class really was:  we couldn’t afford to keep them all!  Hell, at the moment we only have 5 out of 12 of those guys, and Shead’s on the last year of his deal!  Nevertheless, everyone but Shead has seen a second deal, and Shead is all but guaranteed to join the party after the 2016 season, given his versatility.

On top of that, five of those guys have pretty wealthy second deals that they’ve recently signed, with another couple more making some serious money too.  Below, I’ve re-listed all those guys, with how much money they earned on their rookie deals, as well as their general current contract terms next to it.

  • Irvin – $9 million earned / 4 years, $37 million, $19 million guaranteed
  • Wagner – $3.3 million earned / 4 years, $43 million, $22 million guaranteed
  • Wilson – $2.2 million earned / 4 years, $87.6 million, $61.5 million guaranteed
  • Turbin – $2.5 million earned / 1 year, $760K in 2016
  • Howard – $2.5 million earned / 2 years, $10 million, $8.3 million guaranteed
  • Toomer – $1 million earned / 1 year, $600K in 2016
  • Lane – $2.3 million earned / 4 years, $23 million, $11 million guaranteed
  • Guy – $1.8 million earned / 2 years, $1.42 million
  • Sweezy – $3.4 million earned / 5 years, $32.5 million, $14.5 million guaranteed
  • Scruggs – $1.6 million earned / 2 years, $1.3 million
  • Kearse – $3.8 million earned / 3 years, $13.5 million, $6.3 million guaranteed
  • Shead – $2.2 million earned / 1 year, $760K in 2016

All told, that’s $35.6 million earned, with another potential $251.4 million in their current contracts (with Shead’s second deal to come next year) and $142.6 million in guaranteed money.  If you ask me, that’s a pretty nasty draft class.  2012 is the type of draft you only dream about.  It not only sets you up to win now, but to win for many years down the line.  We’re talking about 7 starters, 5 more reserve/rotation guys, with an All Pro and a Pro Bowler in the mix.  Outstanding!

Pre-Season Game Against Kansas City Proves Pivotal Once Again

2012.  Seahawks roll in with a 3-way battle for the starting quarterback job.  In the first pre-season game against the Titans, Matt Flynn got the start.  He played okay, but was outshined in the second half by rookie third rounder Russell Wilson.  The following week, Flynn started again, and once again he played okay.  If you’ll recall, though, that was the infamous Terrell Owens game where he dropped everything in sight, costing Flynn at least one touchdown and a whole lotta points on his QBR.  As such, he was once again outshined by the second half prowess of one Russell Wilson.

Third week of pre-season, 2012.  Road game, in Kansas City.  This time, Matt Flynn was nursing some sort of minor arm injury.  Russell Wilson would get the start and play into the third quarter.  Many speculated as to whether Flynn had an injury at all.  Either way, with Wilson getting the biggest showcase of his all-too-young professional career, against a rather pedestrian Kansas City defense, the starting job was his to lose.

Russell Wilson went out and dominated anyway, and the rest is history.

In hindsight, giving Wilson the biggest showcase against the weakest of our four opponents could’ve proven short-sighted and fatal.  What if Wilson was a bust?  What if his inflated numbers against a crappy Chiefs defense led this team into a false sense of security?

Thank Christ that wasn’t the case.  Yet, here we are.  Pre-season 2015.  Road game in Kansas City.  And our future very well might hang in the balance once again.

That was a franchise-defining moment back in 2012.  It set this team on the course of a world championship.  We may be looking at a similar moment tomorrow night.

The Seahawks have, on offense, the most talented collection of players in this entire Pete Carroll run.  With that being the case, you could make the argument that it’s the most talented collection of offensive players in franchise history, but I’m still going to keep that distinction with the 2005 team until proven otherwise.  Offensive line is a big part of that.  The 2005 O-Line had two future Hall of Famers and two very good and underrated veterans.

The 2015 O-Line has an injury-prone Pro Bowler at left tackle and that’s it.

That’s a problem.  Because you can have Russell Wilson, Marshawn Lynch, Jimmy Graham, Doug Baldwin, Jermaine Kearse, Tyler Lockett, Luke Willson, Chris Matthews, and Ricardo Lockette – all these GREAT FUCKING PLAYERS – but if the O-Line is letting defenders run free through our ranks, rendering our starting quarterback ineffective at best & on the IR at worst, then it won’t matter how many stars this team has.  It will fall on its face, and another year will have gone to waste in this Championship Window we’re all basking in.

This is all preamble to say that there are Twitter reports saying veteran All Pro guard Evan Mathis could be coming out for a visit on Saturday.  He’ll be going into his 11th season, so he’s no spring chicken.  But, just last year he was in the Pro Bowl, and just two years ago he was an All Pro, so he’s still got the chops.  Reports indicate he’s been looking for $5 million on a 1-year deal; teams have thus far balked.  However, with the Seahawks in apparent tremendous need, maybe he gets that (or something approaching that) here.  OR, maybe he uses the Seahawks to gain leverage elsewhere.  But, for the sake of argument, let’s say it’s here.

This makes tomorrow’s game against the Chiefs VERY important, for some admittedly non-obvious reasons.

It looks like Justin Britt – erstwhile right tackle turned left guard – has one game (and but a handful of practices this week) to prove he’s got what it takes to stick at the position.  If he does his best impression of a wet paper bag, I’m not going to tell you his pro career is over, but I will say it’s all but certain this team in fact signs Mathis the next day.  That takes away one spot, leaving him just the right tackle spot, to try to take it back from Garry Gilliam.

What’s wrong with that?  Sounds perfect!  We shore up a very important position, knock a shaky player back into the second string where he belongs, and resume ass kicking through the NFL.

Well, as I mentioned above, Mathis won’t come cheaply.  And, capwise, the Seahawks are RIGHT up against it.  Signing Mathis means cutting another guy.  Which guy?  Well, if I had to throw out a wild guess, I’d say Brandon Mebane.  He’s set to make around $5 million, and he’s already said once this pre-season that the team came to him and asked him to take a pay cut (which he refused).  I SUPPOSE, the team could theoretically sign Mebane to an extension to reduce his cap hit this year, but I’m not sure that was such a priority for this team given the nature of his injury last year and his advanced age.

Losing Mebane to sign Mathis is the ol’ robbing Peter to pay Paul thing.  I don’t know how jacked I am about that, but I also don’t know where else this team can chop a large amount of salary.

This also obviously hurts us going forward, because if none of these guys we have now end up sticking at guard, then that’s one more position we’ve got to focus on next year.  But, without serious improvement along the offensive line, I doubt we’re in a position to win it all.

The best case scenario is:  Britt looks good at guard tomorrow and the team lets Mathis walk without a deal.  I’m not so sure I believe all that highly in Britt, but I’m also not ready to throw a second round draft pick away when this spot – left guard – could actually be his calling in the league.

Things are going to look a lot more dicey after tomorrow if Britt looks like trash.

Four Tet – She Just Likes To Fight

Seahawks Lose Pre-Season Opener To Broncos

You’ll have to forgive the lateness of my posting on this.  I took today off because I spent last night drinking and watching the game on a delay via DVR.  Then, I got up this morning and went out to watch that new James Brown movie.  So, you know.

I saw what y’all saw.  For starters, the offensive line was a fucking disaster!  That’ll happen when your starting left tackle, left guard, and center are all nursing injuries and didn’t even make the flight.  That’ll also happen when you’re breaking in a rookie at right tackle who doesn’t appear as if he’ll be ready to step right in and own the position like we all hoped he would.  Also, was it just me, or did J.R. Sweezy play hardly at all?  Probably could’ve used him when some dud named Schilling was letting guys get free runs at our quarterback.

But, you know, you expect difficulties with the pass protection when you’re sending in a M.A.S.H. unit at offensive line.  But, our utter inability to run the ball was even MORE disturbing.  Not counting the quarterbacks running for their lives, we only managed 59 fucking yards on the ground on 21 attempts for a measly 2.81 yards per attempt.  Yeah, the Broncos’ first unit is pretty stout against the run; but, how do you explain the last three quarters?  It’s not like we were facing a huge deficit in scoring!  The opportunities were there, but we as an offense just couldn’t get the job done.

Obviously, it’s the first pre-season game, so it’s not like I’m going to start panicking.  But, this offensive line has proven time and time again that it can’t stay healthy.  If we’ve got to rely on these backups to be thrown into the fire, I’d like to think we could hang in there okay.  They’ve got three more games to get their shit together.

It wasn’t all doom and gloom, of course.  There were some bright spots.  I thought Paul Richardson looked good in his first action in the pros.  Indeed, the receivers as a whole look like a huge strength for this team (this team that likes to base its identity on rushing, but that’s neither here nor there).

The defense didn’t look bad, but they were spotty, and clearly rusty.  Cassius Marsh looks like a guy who can step in right now and be a force in that defensive line rotation.  He just needs to stay healthy.  Yeah, he missed that crucial sack in the second half, letting their QB run for a third down conversion, but he showed great ability to disrupt and get through that line.  He very well may be solid coming off the edge, in time, but I REALLY like his potential coming from the D-Tackle position on sure passing downs.  Throw him in there with our other studs – Bennett, Avril, Irvin when he’s healthy – and we just might not miss a beat this year in the pass rush department.

I thought the starters looked good at defending the run.  Better than I expected anyway.  The secondary should be solid as per usual – you can’t stop a guy like Peyton Manning all day every day (in spite of what happened in the Super Bowl).  Yes, their starters drove on us for a touchdown, but it was a hard-fought drive that chewed through clock and a bunch of plays.  I’d like to acknowledge A.J. Jefferson for being a true force in that cornerback rotation.  Here’s to hoping his ankle injury isn’t serious, and that he’s able to quickly bounce back, because I think he can really help this team this year (or, if we cut him, he’ll certainly help some other team and rub it in our faces).

I’ll close with my thoughts on the quarterback position.  Russell Wilson didn’t have the best game, but he REALLY looks like he’s going to take the leap this year into true greatness (as scary as that sounds, considering he’s already pretty fucking great).  Here’s to hoping we get our offensive line issues squared away so he can stay on the field and achieve that true greatness.  Tom Cable is REALLY going to earn his money this year if we’re to make it back to the Promised Land.

Here’s also to hoping that the Seahawks don’t treat this battle for the backup job the way they treated the “battle” for the starting job two years ago (where they kept talking about it being a battle, but stacked the deck heavily in favor of Russell Wilson winning the job over Matt Flynn).  Yes, they were vindicated in their treatment of that delicate situation, because Russell Wilson appears to be the real deal.  But, I have no faith whatsoever that Terrelle Pryor is the man to backup our franchise quarterback over Tarvaris Jackson.

I’ve given Tarvar a lot of hell over the years, because I don’t see him as a viable starting quarterback in this league.  However, he’s absolutely Solid Gold as a #2.  No, I don’t want him starting 16 games for my team; but if the worst should happen, I wouldn’t mind seeing him spot-start a couple/few times.

Tarvar is steady.  He knows the offense better than he knows himself.  He’s a veteran and a leader.  He’s the guy who will carefully guide this offense while not trying to do too much.  And, with the talent around him, he may even thrive for a short period.

But Pryor?  I just don’t see it.  Yeah, he had an okay game last night, but it’s nothing to fall all over yourself praising.  For starters, he was going up against the dregs of the Broncos’ roster.  Yes, he has elite athleticism (which would come in handy should this offensive line continue to struggle on into the regular season), but he strikes me as a slightly-better Tim Tebow and nothing more.  You like his strong arm, and his ability to elude tacklers in open space.  But, for all that he gives you in those departments, he takes away from you in everything else.  I don’t want a Check-Down Charlie with escapability.  I want a guy who can run this offense like it was his own.

For me, Terrelle Pryor would have to be far-and-away the superior player to Tarvaris Jackson for him to supplant the veteran.  Not only do I not see that, I don’t think he’s even as good!  It would be a potentially vital mistake for the Seahawks to give Pryor every opportunity to win that #2 job, because to be quite honest, I don’t even think he’s the third-best quarterback on this team.  Letting him win that job while getting reps against the worst players from these pre-season games would be absolutely tragic.

But, as I said before, it’s just one game.  One pre-season game.  You could hear it from all the 12s in Seahawkland going into this game:  the Broncos want it more.  This game meant more to them than it did to us.  None of us were going to freak out if the Seahawks came up on the short end of the stick, because we won the Lombardi Trophy last February, and they don’t take that away because you lose a pre-season game.  Now that it’s behind us – and our pre-season winning streak is behind us – maybe we can move on and put 2013 to bed.  We don’t see Denver again until the regular season.  In Seattle.  With the starters playing all four quarters.

THAT will be a very different affair.

Ranking The Seahawks’ Needs In The 2014 NFL Draft

You know, at some point, people are going to realize it’s going to require more than two dudes and a pair of handcuffs to escort Jack Bauer into any prison/interrogation room.  I’d bring along about five or six trigger-happy ex-Marines and hope for the best.  GOD I’m glad 24 is back!

The better your team is, the less excitement surrounds that team once it comes time to draft.  For bad teams (like the 2008 & 2009 Seahawks, for instance), the draft means everything.  It’s a chance to dream.  The NFL is the Great Parity Hope!  One amazing draft can flip your franchise from a bottom-feeder to a champion!  Well, maybe not JUST one, but it can certainly send you down the right path.

When you’re great – and especially when you ARE a champion, which is what we’re dealing with here – the draft isn’t so special anymore.  You’re not looking for that sparkplug to jumpstart your franchise; you’re just looking to maintain your level of dominance and hope to pluck some quality, inexpensive starters for down the road when it’s time to reload.  What this draft means for 2014, however, is merely to add to our depth.

The foundation is here, and it’s spectacular.  The bulk of the starters are set, and they’re elite at the most important positions.  That might lead one to believe that the draft doesn’t matter all that much, but don’t fall into that trap.  Bad, useless drafts start to pile up and stink like a mountain of dirty diapers in the sun.  If you take enough dumps on draft day, you can go from among the youngest to among the oldest teams in the league in the blink of an eye.

So, while this draft isn’t necessarily make-or-break for our immediate future, it’s still important in the Big Picture.  And, as you well know, the Seahawks are all about the Big Picture.

There are always needs in any draft, so here I’m going to rank the Seahawks’ needs in order of importance.

#1 – Get More Draft Picks

The Seahawks, right now, have six picks.  They received no compensatory picks, traded away their third-rounder to the Vikings for Percy Harvin, and traded away their seventh-rounder for Terrelle Pryor (the Seahawks received an extra fifth-rounder from Oakland in the Matt Flynn deal).  On top of that, they draft last in rounds 1, 2, 4, 5, and 6 (not counting compensatory picks, of course).  Essentially, it’s like the Seahawks have a high 2nd, a high 3rd, two high 5ths, a high 6th and a high 7th.  I’m not necessarily dismissing their chances to find diamonds in the rough – after all, they’ve made careers in their last four drafts by doing just that – but it always helps to have more chances.

You can’t predict draft-day trades (which is why all mock drafts have very little predictive value), but you have to anticipate the Seahawks at least TRYING to be big players in the trade market.  I wouldn’t mind seeing a couple of move-downs (like those 32nd & 64th picks) to net more 4’s, 5’s, and/or 6’s.  If we can bump that number to around eight or nine total draft picks, I’d be more comfortable.

Of course, failing that, the Seahawks should be a major factor in the undrafted free agent market.

#2 – Cornerback

Did I just blow your mind or DID. I. JUST. BLOW. YOUR. MIND?

Yes, yes, yes, there are plenty of other needs on this team.  Offensive line comes immediately to mind.  So does wide receiver, so does the pass rush, so does the interior defensive line.  But, I’m here to tell you that if I had my druthers, I’d like to see the Seahawks go for a cornerback with one of their top two picks.

You like the Legion of Boom?  So do I.  They might be my favorite unit of any sports team I’ve ever rooted for ever.  The safeties are locked up, and a deal with Richard Sherman could be imminent.  So, where do I come off listing cornerback as the #2 draft need?

Well, I’ll tell you:  the talk of this draft is far and away its wide receiver class.  Everyone expects a record number of receivers going in the first round.  Beyond that, there’s the usual inane quarterback chatter, and all of the linemen who will be plucked by the more sensible teams.  With the rising importance of safety, you have to figure there’s at least one or two pretty good ones.  Ditto cornerbacks; I don’t see the Seahawks getting the cream of the crop here.

But, if there’s a prototypical “Seahawks Cornerback” still on the board late in the first or early in the second round (depending on whether or not we’re able to trade back), I could totally see this team going in that direction.  An homage to last year’s drafting of Christine Michael out of nowhere when we still had Marshawn Lynch in his prime and a hungry young runner in Robert Turbin.

Here’s the deal:  Byron Maxwell is only signed through the end of 2014.  I fully expect him to continue starting across from Richard Sherman, and I fully expect him to be as good – if not better – than he was in the last few weeks of 2013.  And, when that happens, I fully expect him to sign a lucrative contract with another team (please not the 49ers).  So, in looking long-term (and really, not THAT long, just one season after this one), the Seahawks are going to need another starter to play across from Sherman.

And, not for nothing, but the depth at nickel & dime cornerback could use a boost as well.  In that area, we’ve got Jeremy Lane and a lot of question marks in 2014.

Don’t sleep on the cornerback position.  Just because we’ll have the best corner and the best safety combo in the league, it’s still a position of need and a pretty big one at that.

#3 – Pass Rushing Defensive End

Also known as the LEO defensive end.  It’s where Chris Clemons called his home the last few years.

The pass rush isn’t in total shambles – thanks to Michael Bennett’s 4-year deal – but it could use an infusion of young talent.  A big question going into the 2015 season will be:  can the Seahawks afford to extend Cliff Avril?  If he has a repeat of his 2013 season – or improves – then I would wager that we can’t afford him.  If he regresses, or gets injured for a big chunk, then I’d have to ask if we even WANT to bring him back, but that’s neither here nor there.

Elite pass rushers are at a premium in the NFL.  Recruiting these guys in free agency requires blowing a big chunk of your salary cap.  It would be nice to have a young, cost-controlled option from the draft.

The only problem with this is:  it’s hard to find a pass rushing end who is capable of starting right away.  The best guys are usually picked high in the first round.  I’m not saying it’s impossible for the Seahawks to find a worthy guy at this position, given their crappy draft picks at the bottoms of nearly every round; but I am saying it might take more time for that guy to develop.

Unlike offensive linemen, running backs, and linebackers – who tend to start and succeed right away – defensive ends tend to need a little more seasoning.  If we get lucky, then great, we’ve got a guy who can start at the end opposite Michael Bennett.  If we’re not so lucky, then maybe we just drafted a guy who, in a few years, will develop into Michael Bennett’s replacement.  Either way, it’s something that needs to be addressed this year.

#4 – Defensive Tackle

Because Brandon Mebane won’t be around forever.  And last year’s picks at the position – Jordan Hill & Jesse Williams – didn’t necessarily inspire a whole lot of confidence with their rookie campaigns.

Yes, it’s always possible to find this position on the cheap in free agency, but if you go that route, you’re opening yourself up for a lot of injury risk (if they’re cheap and seeing free agency, they’re either not very good, or they’ve been injured in the recent past).  Brandon Mebane is so important to this line because he’s so durable.  Finding someone like him, who’s just as durable, is a huge need for this D-Line going forward (and would obviously save us a few bucks to boot).

#5 – Linebacker

Like cornerback, linebacker appears to be a position of strength with no holes outside of some back-end depth spots.  But, take a look at where these guys are in their rookie deals:

  • Bobby Wagner is signed thru 2015
  • Malcolm Smith is signed thru 2014
  • K.J. Wright is signed thru 2014
  • Bruce Irvin is signed thru 2015 (but is converted from defensive end and will be entering his second season as a strong-side linebacker)

I feel like we might be able to re-sign Wright to a reasonable deal.  I think Wagner will be the bigger priority, but his cost might be a little prohibitive.  Malcolm Smith is the biggest wild card of the bunch.  If he continues this opportunistic roll he’s been on since the midway point of 2013, he very well could find himself on another team with a big, fat contract.

Either way, I don’t expect the Seahawks will be able to extend all of these guys to long-term deals, so a starting replacement will likely be necessary as soon as 2015.  I don’t think that replacement is currently on the Seahawks’ roster, which means they’re going to want to draft someone.  Maybe in the fifth round or thereabouts.  I wouldn’t expect the Seahawks to go any higher than a fourth rounder, but I’ve been surprised before.

#6 – Wide Receiver

This spot was pretty high on my list before the Seahawks re-signed Sidney Rice.  For the record, I expect Rice to make the team and be among its top four receivers.  So, anyone drafted at this position will have to be a special teams ace or ride the pine until someone above him gets injured.

Like defensive end, I don’t expect this spot to get a whole lotta play in 2014.  Nevertheless, when looking at the future, it would be nice to have someone at a reasonable salary, especially when we’ve got Harvin taking up so much cap room.

Doug Baldwin is with us through at least 2014.  If we can’t work out a long-term deal with him, then we’ll be hurting.  Jermaine Kearse is also with us thru 2014, but he may be a restricted free agent for 2015 (in a sense, getting a similar tender that Baldwin has this year).  I don’t expect Kearse’s value to skyrocket, but you never know.  If there are injuries, and he ends up picking up the slack, catching a bunch of touchdowns and whatnot, he very well could price himself out of this market.

It’s just a nice luxury to have a home-grown receiver on a small deal.  Golden Tate used to be that luxury for the last couple years of his deal before moving on.  Finding that kind of value – even if it takes a year or two for him to grow into the position – is huge in this league.

#7 – Offensive Line

You ask most Seahawks fans who they want to see with our first draft pick, and I bet a big majority says, “An offensive lineman”.  I wouldn’t be among them.

Right now, pre-draft, the Seahawks have six guys with SOME starting experience.  That’s not counting Alvin Bailey, who filled in nicely at times as a rookie last year.  If push comes to shove, I think the O-Line looks like this in week 1:

  • Russell Okung – LT
  • James Carpenter – LG
  • Max Unger – C
  • J.R. Sweezy – RG
  • Michael Bowie – RT

That still leaves this team with enough depth to fill in, as well as another rookie or two to fight for a roster spot.

Frankly, I’m more interested in this Caylin Hauptmann guy who we kept on our roster all year last year than I am in anyone we might draft on the line this weekend.  Either way, I’m not as concerned about the line as most people.  Sure, our guards were sub-par last year, but I don’t think that necessarily means you have to go and get one in the first couple of rounds.  Now, if some great guy falls and we’re looking at a high first round grade on someone who slipped for no apparent reason, then fine.  But, I feel like the best guards are going to be snapped up well before we get to pick 32.

Do what you’ve been doing.  Find that value later in the draft or among the undrafted free agents.  No sense in reaching for someone when you can mold a nobody into a legitimate starter.

For the record, I don’t think J.R. Sweezy is that bad, and I kind of expect him to make a big jump in 2014.

#8 – Tight End

I’m back-tracking like you would not believe on the prospects of ASJ.  Right after the Super Bowl, I had him in my sights as a possible target with pick #32, but not anymore.  Part of it is the foot issue, but part of it is I just don’t know if he’s going to translate into an elite professional.

He’s not particularly fast.  He’s not freakishly athletic.  He was a valued member of the Washington Huskies and, at times, a dominant force in the red zone, but here’s the thing:  he’s not much of a blocker.  If you’re not a very good blocker on the line, then you better be the type of pass-catcher that they’ve got in New Orleans with Jimmy Graham, or in New England with Gronk.  I don’t think he’s that.  I think linebackers in the NFL will be able to keep up with him no problem.  He might be able to use his size to leverage a career in the Tony Gonzalez mold (not the best line blocker, not the speediest guy), but that’s going to require a work ethic I’m not sure ASJ possesses.

Look, I hope I’m wrong about the guy.  I hope wherever he goes, he terrorizes everyone who let him fall in the draft (again, please don’t go to the 49ers).  I just know that I don’t want the Seahawks to pick him (and no small part of that is because I think he needs to get away from his hometown and away from friends & family to just focus on football).

The Seahawks might want to pick SOMEONE at the position.  If, for nothing else, than some Anthony McCoy insurance.  If they do look for this position, I’d like for them to go low in the draft (or, more likely, in the realm of the undrafted).

We’ll need a replacement for Zach Miller eventually.  Luke Willson impressed me as a rookie, but will he be able to carry the load as a blocking tight end in our run schemes?

If it were up to me, the Seahawks would find a long-term stud of a blocking tight end and pair him with Luke Willson going forward.  Willson in small doses, I’m sure, can block on the line just fine.  But, when we need to beef up, then we bring in our bulldozer.

Anyway, that’s pretty much that.  I guess the Seahawks could consider the safety position, but I’m not sure I see much of a point in that (unless Kam Chancellor’s hip injury is worse than we realize, in which case I think I need to start this post over again).  I’ll be very disappointed if they draft another running back or another quarterback.  I mean, seriously, you can only carry so many on one roster!  We’ve already got too many of both as it is!

Seattle Sports Hell 2013 NFL Power Rankings – Week 16

Had all gone according to plan, one of two things would have happened:  either the Seahawks would be 13-2 right now, having beaten the Arizona Cardinals last Sunday, or the Atlanta Falcons would’ve completed their comeback last night and knocked the 49ers out of the running for the NFC West title.  Shockingly (regarding the Seahawks’ defeat) and yet predictably (regarding Atlanta Couging it), we’re here right now needing one of two things to happen:  either the Seahawks finish the season 13-3, having beaten the St. Louis Rams next Sunday, or the Arizona Cardinals do their best Arizona Cardinals impression by taking out the 49ers (also next Sunday).

This part of my Tuesday post was supposed to be about what the Seahawks should do now that they’ve got the #1 seed all wrapped up.  Various schools of thought abound.  Some say:  give your starters the week off.  The rest (and eliminating the risk of injury) is far more important than whatever hocus pocus you believe in with regards to momentum or “staying in rhythm”.  For every team that lost in the divisional round after resting their starters for two weeks, you’ll find a team that went to the Super Bowl after resting their starters for two weeks.  That theory is in direct conflict with the Rust Theory.  Want your players to get rusty?  Then, by all means, take them out of their regular weekly routine.  It’s better to keep playing every week; why, just look at such and such team that played all their starters even though they didn’t need to!  They didn’t get injured and never missed a beat through the playoffs!

My solution is pretty simple:  treat this like the final pre-season game.  Split reps in practice, then play the starters for one quarter (or two series apiece).  It gives them a chance to get their work in, it gives the starters a chance to go through the regular start-of-game ritual, it lets the starters run around and get hit a little bit, it lets the starters rest after the first drive, and it has the starters come back out after resting.

Of course, there are caveats.  First and foremost, if any prized starter is knicked up in the least, you don’t play that prized starter.  Anyone you see with a little gimp (like a certain set of wide receivers), anyone with a history of back issues (Marshawn Lynch), anyone who COULD play – if the game mattered – but probably shouldn’t play … that guy is getting his helmet taken away, end of story.

The main positives are twofold:

  1. You rest your stars, limiting the opportunity for injury, while still letting them get some reps in
  2. You give your backups extended playing time, just in case they’re needed if someone goes down in the playoffs

This was supposed to be what we looked forward to next Sunday.  Instead, we’ve got agita and doubt.  UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES DID I WANT MARSHAWN LYNCH PLAYING AGAINST THIS RAMS FRONT SEVEN!  If anyone could use a week (or two) off, it’s Lynch!  I want him fresh as fresh can be for this championship run!  I don’t want him getting banged around by yet ANOTHER awesome-sauce front seven!

This fucking sucks like you would not believe.  I hate the Rams.  I don’t hate the Rams like I hate the 49ers or Cardinals.  I hate the Rams because they scare me.  I hate the Rams like you hate a respected rival who ISN’T a total cock & balls.  The Rams fans don’t give a shit about buying a billboard in your town; the Rams players won’t be on their sideline eating Skittles just to taunt us.  They just go out, bust their asses, smack you in the mouth, and give you everything you can fucking handle for 60 God damned minutes.

That having been said, I don’t seriously think they’re going to win on Sunday, but after the Cardinals game, I can’t 100% rule it out either!  I do believe our offense is going to figure its shit out and come out whaling.  Our defense is still the tops in the league and surely won’t take kindly to the Rams doing what the Cardinals did at the end of the game.  Fortunately, the Rams are sort of Cardinals-lite (which means we should handle them a bit easier), but that still doesn’t mean I enjoy the idea of banging bodies with them for four quarters.

This is the kind of game, the kind of matchup, that sees a team run into a slew of injuries.  We’ve spent the past 15 games being tenderized by some of the best defenses in the league, from Carolina to Frisco to Arizona to New Orleans to Houston (when they were decent) to Tennessee (when they were decent) to Tampa (when they almost shocked the world) to the fucking Rams again!  After this week, I’d like to see a ranking of teams, from the Most Dominant Defenses Faced to the least.  I bet the Seahawks would ranke PRETTY high on that list.

Regardless, Objective #1 is to Win The Game.  A distant second would be:  avoid injuries.  Any way you slice it, the Seahawks are going to want that home field advantage, and the only way we’re going to get it is by beating the Rams.  We sure as shit can’t count on the fucking Cardinals!

Isn’t it funny how the Cardinals and the 49ers have been in the same division since 2002 – same time the Seahawks joined – and yet those two teams don’t hate one another NEARLY as much as both of those teams hate the Seahawks.  I’d like to think it’s due to our sustained success since we entered the NFC West, but really it’s just this particular team of the last couple seasons.  They HATE us so much!  The Cardinals hate us so much that they wouldn’t mind so much if they lost on Sunday, as long as it meant the Seahawks fell to the #5 seed.  They hate always hearing about our home field advantage, they hate hearing about our 12th Man, they hate it when we always dominate on Sunday Night & Monday Night Football.  And they hate our players.  Our brash, foul-mouthed, cocky players.  For the Cardinals, last weekend was their Super Bowl.  There’s no WAY they’re able to match that intensity against the 49ers!  Not when they know they’re depending on the 4-11 Bucs to go into New Orleans and somehow come away victorious; it’s never going to happen!  The Cards, as of that Interception Return For Touchdown last night against the Falcons, are done.

Sure, they’ll try to win the game, like all athletes do when on the field of battle.  They’re not just going to roll over and let the 49ers walk into the endzone.  But, they’re not going to be NEARLY as Berzerker as they were against the Seahawks.  And, because they’re the fucking Cardinals, they’re surely going to show their true colors.  Carson Palmer will be just as ineffective and reckless with the football.  Their receivers will be just as mediocre.  Their running game won’t be nearly as effective.  And, their defense will forget all about what they did against Russell Wilson and let Colin Kaepernick run wild.  You just watch.

On to the rankings.

***

The Best:

  1. Seattle Seahawks (12-3) – Well, if the Seahawks lose again and fall to the 5-seed, the final Seattle Sports Hell 2013 NFL Power Rankings are going to look VERY different this time next week.
  2. Denver Broncos (12-3) – And Peyton Manning takes over the lead for all time touchdowns thrown in a season.  They’re still not out of the woods, and will almost certainly need to try their hardest next week in order to keep that #1 seed, so look for Manning to only add to his NFL record.

The Second-Best:

  1. Carolina Panthers (11-4) – This team scares me more than any other simply because their defense is so good.
  2. New England Patriots (11-4) – Way to break the spirit of the Baltimore Ravens a week after their miracle victory briefly kept their playoff hopes alive.
  3. New Orleans Saints (10-5) – On the plus side, you clinched a playoff spot.  You just need to win next week, while the Panthers lose to the Falcons, and you still get that division.
  4. San Francisco 49ers (11-4) – Gonna be a shame to see a 12-4 team have to go on the road in the playoffs.  A real fucking tragedy.
  5. Indianapolis Colts (10-5) – With that win, IN Kansas City, and as impressive as it was, you (at least temporarily) earn your way into Contender status.  Don’t blow it.
  6. Kansas City Chiefs (11-4) – Well, that was embarrassing!

The Rest:

  1. Philadelphia Eagles (9-6) – The generic football fan in me hopes they beat Dallas and make the playoffs.  The Seahawks fan in me hopes Dallas comes through, because they’re terrible.
  2. Cincinnati Bengals (10-5) – The good teams find a way to go undefeated at home (currently 7-0 with one game to play).  The great teams figure out a way to be better than .500 on the road; considering you likely won’t have home field throughout, that doesn’t bode well for your playoff chances.
  3. Arizona Cardinals (10-5) – Well, nice job beating us.  You kept your playoff hopes alive for a day.
  4. Baltimore Ravens (8-7) – Did I or did I not predict this would be an 8-8 team when the season started?
  5. Chicago Bears (8-7) – I don’t like Jay Cutler.  Bears fans have to be with me, right?  This team just plays better with McCown (and, not for nothing, so does Matt Forte).
  6. Miami Dolphins (8-7) – You can’t give away the last playoff spot in the AFC!
  7. Detroit Lions (7-8) – Wow Lions.  Just wow.  You went from 7-5 and having the inside track on the division to 7-8 and totally done.
  8. Dallas Cowboys (8-7) – Way to make next week’s game matter!  That’s the Cowboys I know and love.  Always stringing their fans along, then crushing their hopes at the last possible second.  I call it Romo-ing.
  9. St. Louis Rams (7-8) – I really don’t like needing to win against this team.  They’re too good on defense and too well-coached.  I don’t care IF this game is in Seattle, I’m tired of playing the Rams in week 17 to lock up our spot in the playoffs!
  10. San Diego Chargers (8-7) – The Chargers are doing a pretty good job of Romo-ing, themselves.
  11. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-8) – I think it’s absolutely adorable that the Steelers are still somehow “alive” for a playoff spot.
  12. Green Bay Packers (7-7-1) – As soon as I saw it was Matt Flynn one more time, I knew my fantasy week would be doomed once again with a sub-par Jordy Nelson effort.
  13. New York Giants (6-9) – Give them their due, there’s no quit in this team.
  14. New York Jets (7-8) – Somehow, you just had to know the Jets would beat the Browns, even though the Browns have looked pretty decent this second half, while the Jets have been an aborted fetus in a trashcan.
  15. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-11) – I don’t know where you take any hope from this team.  Can Mike Glennon REALLY be the guy?  He doesn’t pass my eyeball-test, but what do I know?
  16. Atlanta Falcons (4-11) – Could’ve done us a solid there by beating the 49ers.  Could’ve REALLY been a pal, but no.
  17. Buffalo Bills (6-9) – Somehow, you just had to know the Bills would break the Dolphins’ hearts.
  18. Cleveland Browns (4-11) – Cleveland, just know that losing was in your best interests.  You’re that much closer to drafting a top 5 bust next year!
  19. Tennessee Titans (6-9) – You weren’t swept by the Jags.  Something for this coaching staff to hang their hats on (as they’re looking for new work this offseason).
  20. Minnesota Vikings (4-10-1) – Way to just lay down and die against the Bengals.  Now THAT’S how you tank!
  21. Oakland Raiders (4-11) – Not to be out-done by the Vikings, the Raiders really screwed their own pooch against the Chargers.
  22. Jacksonville Jaguars (4-11) – Your 2013 Jacksonville Jaguars!  #WhatDrugs
  23. Washington Redskins (3-12) – They looked pretty feisty, but still lost.  I’m telling you, they’re in cahoots with the Rams!
  24. Houston Texans (2-13) – Whatever you do, don’t win next week, and don’t believe that Case Keenum can be a starting quarterback in this league.  Just hope and pray that some team will flip you a late-round draft pick for him and move the fuck away.

Seattle Sports Hell 2013 NFL Power Rankings – Week 15

Most of you certainly know this, but if I’m documenting this season for historical purposes, then I would be remiss if I didn’t mention it:  all the Seahawks have to do is win one of their final two games (both at home, vs. Arizona this week and St. Louis next week) and they win the division and the #1 seed.

Essentially, it’s no different than it was two weeks ago at this time, when all the Seahawks needed to do was win 2 of their final 4.  We’ve won one of two, now we need one more of two.

In the unlikely event that we lose our last two and the 49ers win their last two, then the 49ers would win the division (based on better divisional record, 5-1 vs. what would be 3-3).  The 49ers would have one of the top two seeds, however they lose the tie-breaker to both Carolina and New Orleans thanks to head-to-head defeats back in November, so if Carolina or New Orleans win out in this scenario, they would have the #1 seed.  Of note:  New Orleans plays in Carolina this week, so only one could possibly win out.

The Seahawks will either have the #1 seed, or the #5 seed.  There’s no other option.  If we fall to 12-4 and the 49ers somehow lose one, we would still have a tie-breaker over both the Saints and Panthers thanks to head-to-head victories.

Unless something freaky happens, the playoffs are set in the NFC.  The West & South division winners will have the top two seeds.  Philly has the inside track in the East, with one game left to play against the Cowboys (who are one game back).  The North is a clusterfuck right now.  But, the wild card spots are all but certain.  The team between the Panthers & Saints that doesn’t win the division will have one wild card spot.  The other will almost definitely go to the 49ers (as I envision no way they don’t win out).  In all likelihood, the 49ers will take the 5th seed, and I’m going out on a limb and saying the Saints take the 6th seed.

In happy news, the Green Bay Packers have no shot at getting the 6th seed.  When you consider the two wild card teams will probably have better overall records than the division winners of the East & North, though, it probably means we have more to worry about than Aaron Rodgers recovering from his fractured vagina.

Here are my predictions for the way things shake out:

I think the Eagles win out and take that division.  I think the Bears lose out.  I think the Packers win out and finish 9-6-1.  I think the Lions finish 9-7 and blow the division.

That puts San Francisco at Green Bay in the 4/5 game and New Orleans at Philly in the 3/6 game.  I think both San Francisco AND New Orleans win those two games, putting New Orleans at Seattle in the second round, and San Francisco at Carolina.  A couple home team wins puts Carolina in Seattle for a repeat of the 2005/2006 NFC Championship Game.

I’m not even going to try to take a crack at the AFC, because who KNOWS how that’s going to shake out?  Anything could happen and it wouldn’t shock me.  I will say this:  I’m more convinced than ever before that Denver makes the Super Bowl.

On to the rankings.  But, before I do, a little shift in the process.  We have a Top 2, then another set of 5 who are all still contenders for the championship, and THEN everyone else.  Sorry, Eagles, Bengals, and Colts fans, that’s the way the cookie crumbles.

***

The Best:

  1. Seattle Seahawks (12-2) – Pretty happy to own the Seahawks’ defense in fantasy football right about now.
  2. Denver Broncos (11-3) – You REALLY dodged a bullet!  I don’t know if I can keep you in my Top 2 if you’re going to continue to play defense like that.  Thanks to New England, though, you still control your own destiny with the #1 seed.

The Second-Best:

  1. New Orleans Saints (10-4) – Mighty wide of you to help us ease our way into the #1 seed.
  2. New England Patriots (10-4) – Yeah, if Julian Edelman is going to be your leading receiver, you’re NOT going to make the Super Bowl.
  3. Kansas City Chiefs (11-3) – Chiefs/Raiders is what NFL Sunday Ticket was made for … so you can avoid watching these shitbird teams!
  4. Carolina Panthers (10-4) – HUGE showdown next week, hosting the Saints for a chance at the division.
  5. San Francisco 49ers (10-4) – Certainly feels like the hottest team in the NFL, though they’re only riding a 4-game winning streak.

The Rest:

  1. Philadelphia Eagles (8-6) – Ouch!
  2. Cincinnati Bengals (9-5) – Double-Ouch!
  3. Indianapolis Colts (9-5) – Without a whole lot to play for (probably locked out of the top two seeds), that was a much-needed easy win for the Colts.
  4. Arizona Cardinals (9-5) – For a team that supposedly has a great defense, they really shit the bed against the Titans.
  5. Baltimore Ravens (8-6) – Uhh, damn!  How many lives to the Ravens have left?
  6. Chicago Bears (8-6) – This offense can be really scary.  Of course, so can Jay Cutler (in a bad way, for the Bears).
  7. Miami Dolphins (8-6) – So many teams came so close to beating the Patriots the last few weeks.  The Dolphins punched one through.
  8. Detroit Lions (7-7) – The Lions blew the division AND they blew it for the best team in my fantasy league with that choke job against the Ravens.
  9. Dallas Cowboys (7-7) – I think Jason Garrett might be THE worst head coach in the National Football League.
  10. St. Louis Rams (6-8) – Again, how do you figure out this team?  They beat Indy, Chicago, and New Orleans; they lose to Tennessee, Atlanta, and Dallas.  Good grief!
  11. San Diego Chargers (7-7) – You beat the best team in the AFC, you have my attention.
  12. Pittsburgh Steelers (6-8) – Too little, too late.
  13. Green Bay Packers (7-6-1) – Uhh, is Matt Fucking Flynn going to lead the Packers into the playoffs?
  14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-10) – Yeah, I dunno.
  15. New York Giants (5-9) – Five picks for Eli?  Absolutely SHOCKING!
  16. New York Jets (6-8) – Yeah, whatever.
  17. Atlanta Falcons (4-10) – Losing to the Redskins could have been GREAT for your draft standing.
  18. Buffalo Bills (5-9) – You beat my Jags!  How could you?
  19. Cleveland Browns (4-10) – This team fights, you gotta respect that.
  20. Tennessee Titans (5-9) – Probably should have gone for two and played for the win instead of going to overtime.
  21. Minnesota Vikings (4-9-1) – Don’t even try to stop those Vikings!  Doesn’t matter WHO they put in at running back, they’re going to BEAST you!
  22. Oakland Raiders (4-10) – I guess they just left their defense at home?
  23. Jacksonville Jaguars (4-10) – Your 2013 Jacksonville Jaguars!
  24. Washington Redskins (3-11) – Going for two at the end of the game to “play for the win”?  I see what you did there.  I’m calling collusion!  You and the Rams worked out some secret, back-alley deal, didn’t you?
  25. Houston Texans (2-12) – Legit:  the worst team in football.

Seattle Sports Hell 2013 NFL Power Rankings – Week 14

You always read about how everyone loves fantasy football, how it makes the game more exciting, how it has turned the NFL into far-and-away a more popular sport than it ever was … but you never read about how fantasy football is a horseshit institution full of heartbreak and agony!

Every year, I ask myself, “Why do I do this?”  And yet every year, there I am, suckling at the teet of Yahoo’s free fantasy football game.  I’m not here to piss and moan about Yahoo – I’d be writing this even if the old stalwart Sandbox.com was still around.

Unless you somehow lucked into far-and-away the best team in your league, there’s nothing but frustration going on!  You obsess about setting your lineup.  You obsess over who’s out there on waivers.  You obsess on Sunday morning, trolling Twitter for the latest injury updates.  Then, you forget to check the fucking WEATHER, and you come to realize Torrey Smith is out there playing in a blizzard and you were THIS CLOSE to picking up Marcel Reece at the last minute, but you didn’t want to be That Guy who tinkers with his lineup at the last minute in a week where you need to win to make the playoffs!

Then, you sit there all day on Sunday and you’re just miserable.  You’re dead inside because your fantasy team is sucking dick that day and it totally takes you out of the moment of the game you’re watching right now.  The game you’re watching not necessarily because you have a rooting interest in any of the players (although, indeed, I’m paying the price for having Colin Kaepernick on my team going up against the Seahawks defense), but because you have a rooting interest in the TEAM.  Oh, the Seahawks are losing?  Fuck that, I’d trade a million Seahawks losses if it meant I could win my Fantasy Championship!

And then you realize how crazy that sounds.  Then, you try to brush it all aside and keep your eyes on the bigger picture.  Your team – your flesh and blood team that you’ve been following since you were five years old – is in the middle of its very best season ever.  And you’re sitting here worried about fucking fantasy football?

That’s when you start to sympathize with some of these old fucks out there.  Who keep saying that fantasy football is ruining the game.  Of course, they don’t say that much anymore, because they’ve been drowned under a sea of Everyone Else who loves the fucking game and is involved in not just one, but multiple fucking fantasy teams.  I’ve been guilty of that.  All of it.  Mocking the elderly.  Having multiple fantasy teams (though, thankfully, I’m now down to just the main one, and even then I’m looking for some sort of clean exit strategy).

In a way, Fantasy Football IS ruining the game.  It’s taking away from what’s REALLY important, and that’s illegal sports gambling!  Who gives a fuck about whether Jordy Nelson scored a touchdown when the miracle Vikings/Ravens game is about to cover the Over inside the final two minutes of the game???

And who gives a fuck about your fantasy team making the fantasy playoffs when your real team is still dialed into the #1 seed?

Once you’re able to let that sink in, you start to realize it’s not so bad.  I’ve still got the consolation bracket, which in my league means you’re fighting for the #1 pick in next year’s draft.  I’ve got a number of quality choices for keepers on my team, so I’m not scrambling.  All in all, I’m set up quite well for next year!

Then, you take a look at the message boards and your asshole friends are there to remind you of your futility.  Don’t get sucked in!  Turn off the web browser, go back to your Christmas specials.  Take a deep breath and relax.  There are more important things going on.  Like the Pittsburgh Steelers and Green Bay Packers eating shit.  Like Gonzaga basketball is NEVER winning a national championship.  Like the San Francisco 49ers are still WELL behind the Seahawks for the NFC West and are still in a dogfight to even make the playoffs!

Did that about cover it, you chickenfuckers?  Until next year then, when I somehow get sucked back into this fucking farce.  God, I hate Fantasy Football.

On to the rankings.

***

  1. Seattle Seahawks (11-2) – 14-2 just doesn’t have the same ring as 15-1.
  2. Denver Broncos (11-2) – Russell Wilson is not the MVP.  He was never going to be the MVP.  Peyton Manning is, was, and always will be the MVP.

The Rest:

  1. New Orleans Saints (10-3) – The Saints now have control in the NFC South, but they still have to go back to Carolina in two weeks.
  2. New England Patriots (10-3) – A win is a win, even though they really should have lost to the Browns.
  3. Kansas City Chiefs (10-3) – Andy Reid’s team defeats his old hated rivals in the Redskins.  The Chiefs defeat their old hated rival Mike Shanahan!
  4. Carolina Panthers (9-4) – The Panthers take a pretty big dive after losing to the Saints, which is what happens when you get blown out the way they did.
  5. San Francisco 49ers (9-4) – It’ll be interesting to see what this team is able to do on offense against a not-top-three NFL defense.
  6. Philadelphia Eagles (8-5) – I’ve waited all year for Shady McCoy to go down with an injury.  Now that I’m out of the fantasy playoffs, I guess I can go fuck myself.  Way to go on that TD run, Chris Polk!
  7. Cincinnati Bengals (9-4) – They look good now, but Dalton still has another 3-INT game or two left in him before the year is done.
  8. Indianapolis Colts (8-5) – Shit happens when you party naked.
  9. Detroit Lions (7-6) – They were moving the ball pretty well in that driving snow; I don’t know what to tell you.
  10. Arizona Cardinals (8-5) – I have to admit, this is leaps and bounds better than I would have thought they’d be at this point this year.
  11. Baltimore Ravens (7-6) – That was a helluva finish to that football game against the Vikings.  Couldn’t have thrown a few more dozen balls Torrey Smith’s way, though?
  12. Chicago Bears (7-6) – Is there some way we can get it so both Chicago AND Dallas make the playoffs?  Those defenses are my wet dream.
  13. Dallas Cowboys (7-6) – I mean, who didn’t see this coming?  The Bears’ defense can’t stop the run to save its life, so why even TRY to have a dedicated running game (even though, when you did run, it worked out as splendidly as it could).
  14. Miami Dolphins (7-6) – I don’t care anymore.
  15. St. Louis Rams (5-8) – It’s just impossible to get a quality read on this team!
  16. San Diego Chargers (6-7) – If for nothing else than the moderate weather, I would give everything I own to be living in San Diego right about now.
  17. Pittsburgh Steelers (5-8) – And now, my friend, you die.
  18. Green Bay Packers (6-6-1) – Who is going to step up to win this thing?  You can’t even GIVE this NFC North title away!
  19. New York Giants (5-8) – I can’t wait for the Seahawks to take out all of their aggression on this soft pudding-pop of a football team.  We’ve had a knack over the years of forcing Hall of Fame-ish head coaches into retirement; is this where Tom Coughlin calls it quits?
  20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-9) – I don’t remember who you played this weekend, but you got the win, so good for you.
  21. New York Jets (6-7) – The AFC Everybody:  where this Jets team still has a decent chance to make the playoffs!
  22. Atlanta Falcons (3-10) – I don’t know how you let Matt Flynn beat you, but there you go.
  23. Buffalo Bills (4-9) – EJ Manuel, you go right to the top of my shit list.
  24. Cleveland Browns (4-9) – That’s a bummer, man.  You had the Patriots and you let ’em off the hook.
  25. Tennessee Titans (5-8) – Rumors abound that the Titans will clean house after this season.  The players reward those rumors with a good first quarter or so and then totally fall off the cliff.
  26. Oakland Raiders (4-9) – I’m sorry, what’s that?
  27. Jacksonville Jaguars (4-9) – Your 2013 Jacksonville Jaguars!
  28. Washington Redskins (3-10) – FIRE THEM!  FIRE THEM ALL!!!
  29. Minnesota Vikings (3-9-1) – Adrian Peterson getting injured, that’s all you need.
  30. Houston Texans (2-11) – I can’t remember a time where the Jags weren’t the worst team in football.  I guess that’s reason-enough to get your head coach fired.

Seattle Sports Hell 2013 NFL Power Rankings – Week 13

When you spend an intoxicated evening with friends – and you all happen to be sports fans – debates about sports are a 100% certainty to occur.  With this being football season, and my friends being in Seattle, there are two subjects dominating our attention:  the fantasy football playoffs, and the Seattle Seahawks.

Of course, with any semi-large group of friends, there are bound to be a few people who aren’t fans of the home team.  My group just so happens to have two Pittsburgh Steelers fans (our friendship pre-dated Super Bowl XL, but very nearly didn’t extend any further), so the debates can be pretty entertaining, depending on which team happens to be better that particular year.

Anyway, there were two topics of debate last Saturday that stand out.  The Heath Miller vs. Zach Miller quagmire (with no side giving an inch on who they’d rather have as their starting tight end), and a particular point one of my friends made.  At the time, it felt like a one-off insult from a bitter Steelers fan looking at a long, cold, pointless winter as his team gets ready to rebuild from the bottom up in the coming years; his point was essentially, “The Seahawks better win it all now, because their window is closing.”

He cited all of the young, cheap players we will need to sign to hefty, cap-destroying extensions (though, to be fair, he erroneously noted some players we’ve recently signed to modest, cap-friendly extensions), and I countered with this argument:

Russell Wilson, Earl Thomas, and Richard Sherman will get their money.  We’ll off-shoot that by getting rid of Sidney Rice, Marshawn Lynch, and probably Zach Miller sooner rather than later.  I don’t think we extend any of our linebackers to anything but team-friendly deals, as that position is pretty easy to re-load through the draft.  And, we’ve got expensive defensive linemen who will be coming off the books and/or restructured.

The point being:  the Seahawks are nowhere near Cap Hell.  Championship Windows are all relative, but I’d say the Seahawks’ window is open as long as Russell Wilson wears #3 for the Seahawks.  This team might never be as loaded as it is right now, because we can’t afford to keep EVERYBODY.  But, as long as the front office remains as intelligent as it is, we’ve got at least another decade in this Championship Window.

I mean, look at the Patriots!  Their window wasn’t just the first three Super Bowls they won with Tom Brady; it has extended, all the way through this very year and likely beyond.  What’s been their constant?  #12 under center, for all but one of those years.

And then I got to thinking:  even if we were in Cap Hell, why would anyone doubt this front office’s ability to find diamonds in the back-end of the draft?  How did we build this juggernaut?  By finding value in the mid to late rounds, and among the undrafted.  Do you think that skill is just going to vanish?  Do you think that Schneider and Carroll just “got lucky” in every one of their four drafts together?  If you do, then you probably also think those Pittsburgh Steelers bumblebee uniforms look even remotely good.

The Seattle Seahawks only need to secure three guys:  Wilson, Thomas, and Sherman.  After that, they can gut this team and I have all the confidence in the world that John and Pete will be able to fill in all the gaps the way they always have.  But, of course, they won’t NEED to gut this team, because a lot of the pieces are already in place.

This Championship Window isn’t going anywhere.

On to the rankings.

***

  1. Seattle Seahawks (11-1) – The F is for Finisher!
  2. Denver Broncos (10-2) – Gotta love the feeling of being in the driver’s seat.

The Rest:

  1. Carolina Panthers (9-3) – You’re welcome, Panthers.
  2. New England Patriots (9-3) – With a defensive performance like that, you gotta hate their chances in the playoffs.
  3. Kansas City Chiefs (9-3) – O-V-E-R R-A-T-E-D!
  4. New Orleans Saints (9-3) – The team we were semi-worried about probably won’t even win their division.  Funny.
  5. Indianapolis Colts (8-4) – They shouldn’t be struggling this much against such mediocre teams.
  6. San Francisco 49ers (8-4) – All of their skill positions are returning to health just as their offensive line goes kaput.
  7. Philadelphia Eagles (7-5) – Pretty solid showing against a top-notch defense.
  8. Detroit Lions (7-5) – Thank you Lions for seriously hurting the playoff chances of the Green Bay Packers!  Really, you’re too kind.
  9. Dallas Cowboys (7-5) – Demarco Murray owners the world over thank you.  That rushing touchdown at the end of the second quarter (when there was 14 seconds left and you still had 1 time out) was probably the most perfect play I’ve ever seen.
  10. Cincinnati Bengals (8-4) – There’s no reason why the Bengals should have beaten the Chargers in San Diego.  Then again, there’s no reason why the Bengals SHOULDN’T have beaten the Chargers in San Diego either.
  11. Arizona Cardinals (7-5) – If you know what’s good for you, you’ll draft a quarterback high next year.
  12. Baltimore Ravens (6-6) – I would just like to point out that while Torrey Smith had a pretty darn good fantasy day, he left A TON of points out there on the field with his drops and his terrible effort on jump balls.
  13. St. Louis Rams (5-7) – Can we just agree that both the Rams AND the Redskins lost that RGIII trade and be done with it?
  14. Chicago Bears (6-6) – And that’s why you don’t take a field goal over 40 yards for granted.  Not even in a dome.  Not even with the “most accurate kicker in NFL history”.  They should’ve continued pounding the ball until it was inside the 20 yard line.
  15. San Diego Chargers (5-7) – Dude, whatever.
  16. Pittsburgh Steelers (5-7) – Well, that just about does it for the Steelers and their playoff chances.  They now need to win out and get a TON of help.
  17. Green Bay Packers (5-6-1) – Welp, now we know.  I mean, we already knew for the most part, but know we know for 100% sure:  Matt Flynn is not a starting quarterback in this league.  Noodle arms can only take you so far.  Noodle arms with bad decision-making will take you absolutely no where.  As I watched that game, I couldn’t help but think back to this past off-season, when we were all sort of killing the Seahawks about trading away a perfectly good backup.  At this point, I’m willing to eat this heaping pile of crow on my plate:  yes, I would rather have Tarvar as my #2 (and so would, I think, the Green Bay Packers).
  18. Miami Dolphins (6-6) – So, you beat the Jets, do you want a medal?
  19. New York Giants (5-7) – I didn’t watch one minute of that Giants/Redskins game, because I don’t watch crappy football teams (unless they’re playing against the Seahawks).
  20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-9) – That was a good run you had going.
  21. Atlanta Falcons (3-9) – Beating the Bills only serves to hurt your chances in next year’s draft.
  22. Buffalo Bills (4-8) – Pretty flukey loss.  What are the odds a team fumbles away two scoring chances at the end of a game?
  23. New York Jets (5-7) – Well, okay, if Geno Smith is going to be THIS bad, you should probably sit him.
  24. Cleveland Browns (4-8) – No matter what happens, Weeden will never be injured to the point where he goes down for the year.  Cleveland, this is your curse.  What did you do to that old gypsy?
  25. Tennessee Titans (5-7) – Just good enough to lose by single-digits.
  26. Oakland Raiders (4-8) – I’m just thankful that the Raiders gave us a decently interesting game during the day on Thanksgiving.  I’m looking at you, Green Bay.
  27. Washington Redskins (3-9) – Maybe next year, let’s not schedule the Redskins for primetime every fucking week?
  28. Minnesota Vikings (3-8-1) – That’s some fancy running on a pathetic run defense.
  29. Houston Texans (2-10) – You may have the worst record right now, but that was quite the show against the Patriots!
  30. Jacksonville Jaguars (3-9) – Your 2013 Jacksonville Jaguars.

Seattle Sports Hell 2013 NFL Power Rankings – Week 12

This topic doesn’t deserve its own post, because frankly, I’m getting sick and tired of writing this fucking post.

Walter Thurmond!  Thank you!  I mean, God damn, what would a championship season be without an unnecessary road block or two?  It’s like, you saw everyone coming back healthy, you saw this team starting to gel and really hit its stride, and you thought:  “I’m gonna get a little high.”

You're a towel!

You’re a towel!

One game.  We had one game with pretty much everyone healthy and playing (save Sidney Rice, of course, and I guess Brandon Browner).  One game with all of our positions at full strength.  Now, we get to go into the most important game of the season to date, against one of the best passing attacks in the league, down two of our top three cornerbacks.  Great.

I think suspensions for smoking weed are pretty fucking stupid.  But, this is the NFL.  You don’t come to the NFL for progressive, forward-thinking individuals.  You come to the NFL for stodgy, “No Fun League” ethos.  This is the same league that puts crazy restrictions on touchdown celebrations and so-called taunting.  You REALLY think they’re going to let something like smoking weed go by without making a huge stink?  If they could, they’d ban ingestion of anything harder than warm milk!

Nevertheless, you know what you’re getting with the NFL.  The rules are clearly spelled out.  Furthermore, you’re on a team that’s had more than its fair share of players being suspended for being idiots.  You knew the importance of this season from a team perspective (Super Bowl contender) and you knew the importance of this season from a personal perspective (contract season) and you did it anyway.  Why?  Who gives a shit why?  You did what you did knowing the consequences.  Smug Seahawks fans like to play the “Don’t Throw Stones” card in these situations, but I like to think the majority of people who know the fucking consequences of certain situations would be strong enough and smart enough to NOT FUCKING SMOKE WEED.  It’s fucking weed!  I completely understand how much fun smoking weed can be, but it’s not like it’s delicious, delicious alcohol or anything!

I keep telling myself it’s stupid to get angry about these types of things, but I can’t help it.  Right before the Saints game?  God damn it all!

***

Everything above this point was written on Sunday afternoon / Monday morning.  This little bitty section here is being written Monday night, after news that Brandon Browner’s season is over.

WHAT THE FUCKING FUCK?  It’s not like I expected him to make a miraculous comeback before the Saints game, but I SURE AS SHIT was counting on him for the playoff run!

I guess this makes some of the decisions for next year a little easier.  We won’t have to wonder about the Seahawks giving Browner a huge contract extension.  If he comes back, it’ll likely be for the minimum, on a short-term deal (especially if the 1-year ban holds and he can’t come back until week 13).  But, from what it sounds like, we’re just flat-out moving on.

This is just shitty, shitty news that I didn’t need to be hearing about now.  Or ever, really.  I liked Browner.  I still do, I guess, but this is more disappointing than enraging.  He earned the major contract he was going to get.  Working for peanuts for the Seahawks, going from CFL star to NFL Pro Bowler in the best secondary in football, he had everything going for him.  Of course, I guess you could say it’s his own fault that he’s not going to get paid, since he fucked up and broke the rules again.  Still, I feel for the guy.  He should at least qualify for a Super Bowl ring when we win it all, right?

On to the rankings.

***

  1. Denver Broncos (9-2) – Well, they lost a tough road game against a good opponent, but it’s not quite enough for me to knock them off the top spot.  Especially considering what the Seahawks lost this weekend (I would argue losing Thurmond is more important to us than Moreno is to them).  This upcoming week will say a lot.  Denver goes to Kansas City to possibly decide the AFC West and the conference’s #1 seed.  After this week, it’s pretty smooth sailing for the Broncos.
  2. Seattle Seahawks (10-1) – I’ll tell you this, though:  if the Seahawks find a way to beat the Saints, I’m putting them back in the top spot, regardless of what Denver ends up doing in Kansas City.

The Rest:

  1. Kansas City Chiefs (9-2) – Well, they really didn’t need to lose to the Chargers.  Possibly a case of them looking forward to Denver again.  Then again, defensive injuries won’t be their friend going forward.
  2. Carolina Panthers (8-3) – Lordy!  You don’t want any part of Riverboat Ron right now!  I know everyone is going to vote for Andy Reid as Coach of the Year, but my vote goes squarely to Ron Rivera.
  3. New England Patriots (8-3) – Gutty.  Now, all they need is for Denver to lose one more game.  Preferably this week, because the rest of their schedule is cake.
  4. New Orleans Saints (9-2) – Thanks to Thurmond, I’m officially having my doubts about a Seahawks victory at home.  So, thanks for that.
  5. Indianapolis Colts (7-4) – Given their division, I don’t think they can possibly blow this, but they sure do look shitty all of a sudden.
  6. San Francisco 49ers (7-4) – 49ers fans have to feel a lot better about Kaepernick after last night’s performance.
  7. Arizona Cardinals (7-4) – A team I had dismissed since pretty much the beginning is now in the driver’s seat.  Well, at least they control their own destiny.  And, with wins over the likes of the Panthers, Lions, and Colts, you’re looking at a team you legitimately have to be concerned about.
  8. St. Louis Rams (5-6) – Holy shit, the Rams are just destroying teams!  And to think I’d written this team off just five weeks ago.
  9. Philadelphia Eagles (6-5) – This game against Arizona this week looks like the most entertaining one on the schedule.  Where did that come from?
  10. Detroit Lions (6-5) – Hey Lions?  Don’t look now, but you’re fucking this up.
  11. Chicago Bears (6-5) – Uhh Bears?  Don’t look now, but you’re blowing this.
  12. Dallas Cowboys (6-5) – Huge win to keep pace with the Eagles.  In the end, this will come down to their showdown in Week 17.
  13. Cincinnati Bengals (7-4) – I like this team about as far as I can throw it.  There are a lot of lose-able games on the horizon, so I wouldn’t be counting any chickens right now.
  14. Baltimore Ravens (5-6) – Game of the year for the Ravens on Thanksgiving against the Steelers.  If they lose, Pittsburgh takes a 1-game lead and owns the tie-breaker, effectively ending the Ravens’ season.  If they win, then certainly you have to consider them alive.  They play at Cincinnati in Week 17.  Win that game and they’d have the tiebreaker over the Bengals, so all they have to do is win out and hope the Bengals bungle a couple along the way.  Definitely possible.
  15. San Diego Chargers (5-6) – Man, that game sure took a turn, didn’t it?  I still don’t believe in this team, but when Philip Rivers gets on a roll like he can from time to time, this offense is as good as any in football.
  16. Pittsburgh Steelers (5-6) – This is certainly something.  Bet they wish they hadn’t gagged away that Titans game in week 1.  If Roethlisberger can stay healthy, I could easily see them powering past Cincinnati.
  17. Green Bay Packers (5-5-1) – It’s about God damn time they gave Flynn the starting job!
  18. Miami Dolphins (5-6) – You’re a huge disappointment and nobody likes you.
  19. New York Giants (4-7) – To be honest, I’m kind of glad Dallas won that game.  I don’t need the Giants on this insane hot streak worming their way into the playoffs.
  20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-8) – You heard it here first:  this is a team on the rise!  It only took half a season, but WATCH OUT, NFL!
  21. Buffalo Bills (4-7) – I still haven’t given up hope!  Things could very well start breaking their way and leave them around 9-7 or 8-8 depending on how their quarterback plays and how their defense holds up.
  22. New York Jets (5-6) – Whatever you do, don’t go benching Geno Smith now.  Unless he’s bothered by some nagging injury, you don’t sell the cow now for some magic beans, because this year you absolutely have no shot at anything.
  23. Cleveland Browns (4-7) – Weeden is like an STD that you just can’t shake.  You think you’ve got things cleared up with medication, then you meet a pretty girl and suddenly your face is outbreak central.
  24. Tennessee Titans (5-6) – Yeah, you’re in the hunt now, but your next three games are @IND, @DEN, and vs. Arizona.  Then, it’s @JAX and vs. Houston.  So, 6-10 here we come!
  25. Oakland Raiders (4-7) – Rooting for the Raiders must, in some small way, be like rooting for the Mariners.  A hopeless team, a hopeless franchise, and a hopeless future.
  26. Washington Redskins (3-8) – You know, you’re just helping the Rams get a better draft pick, don’t you?
  27. Houston Texans (2-9) – Well, I picked up their defense for a 1-week trial (because the Seahawks were on BYE and they were playing the Jags.  I guess I got my money’s worth, but come on!  How do you lose to that team?
  28. Atlanta Falcons (2-9) – As the Falcons go, so does my fantasy team:  right down the shitter.  I have Matt Ryan and Tony Gonzalez.  After a semi-brilliant start to the season, it’s been non-stop agony.
  29. Minnesota Vikings (2-8-1) – I don’t even know how to process a tie right now.  Odds are, it means they’ll be a half-game better than a few teams and it’ll hurt their draft spot.  The only thing worse for them would’ve been an outright win.
  30. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-9) – Your 2013 Jacksonville Jaguars.