Could The Seahawks Be Okay At Quarterback?

Recently, I wrote about the Seahawks roster at every position other than quarterback. The conclusion I came to was that there’s potential for improvement, but still probably too many holes to fill in this one offseason. If enough draft picks and whatnot pan out, maybe we can head into 2023 and do enough damage in free agency to lift us back into the playoffs.

My take on the quarterback position, however, is that the guys we’ve got on the roster right now should be bad enough to help us tank for a quality draft pick next year, at which point we should go all in on a rookie QB to be our next franchise player. But, what this blog post presupposes is … maybe we don’t?

Okay, not quite. But, there’s been this concept that’s been gnawing at the back of my mind for a while now. The 2018 Los Angeles Rams went to the Super Bowl with Jared Goff at quarterback. What we’ve come to learn about Jared Goff since he was drafted first overall in 2016 is that he’s not as terrible as he showed in that rookie season. Of course, that was under the tenure of Jeff Fisher; Sean McVay was hired going into the 2017 season. What we also know about Goff, however, is that he’s not as good as his two (?!) Pro Bowl seasons either. McVay essentially declared he can’t win it all with Goff under center.

Yet, the system was good enough to get them all the way to the very end with a mediocre QB like Goff. That’s obviously intriguing to us as Seahawks fans.

Because here we are, with Shane Waldron as our offensive coordinator, looking to run something very similar to the system McVay installed with the Rams. And, here we also are, with Drew Lock and Geno Smith, mediocre quarterbacks just as Goff has been.

These aren’t apples-to-apples comparisons, though. Waldron is, obviously, a diluted form of McVay; McVay is largely seen as an offensive genius, and someone who might be “The Next Bill Belichick”. I don’t know if I’d go that far, but he does seem to be one of the top five-or-so head coaches in the NFL right now. And, I think it’s fair to say Lock and Smith haven’t shown to be anywhere near as competent as Goff, though obviously Lock is younger and less experienced (in other words, he very well could be as competent as Goff, we just haven’t seen him in a Rams-style offensive system yet).

What it boils down to is this: how reliable is this Rams system? Once you know the ins and outs, can literally anyone run it? Or, does it take the finesse and knowledge of a McVay to make it function as it should (to say nothing of a quarterback as capable as Stafford to push through as world champions)?

If it’s just a rock-solid system and anyone can do it, then I think I’m not out of bounds when I say Drew Lock could appear to be better than expected, as early as this season. If Jared Goff can take the Rams to the Super Bowl, why couldn’t Drew Lock take the Seahawks to the playoffs (especially when they let in three wild card teams now)? We’d need the defense to make huge leaps in development, and we’d probably have to rely more on our running game than the Rams ever have under McVay, but I don’t think it’s batshit crazy to come to this conclusion.

Look, am I saying it’s likely? Absolutely not. The smart money is totally and completely on the Seahawks to NOT make the playoffs in 2022. And, in fact, I don’t want them to, because what would be the point? We’re never winning a Super Bowl with Lock or Smith under center, no matter how good the roster is around them, or how good the scheme could potentially be. While the Seahawks will never actively try to tank, I hope a series of misfortunes befalls this team week after week after week, until we’re left with two picks in the top five (because I also hope a series of misfortunes befalls the Broncos to a similar degree). I’m talking injuries, I’m talking hail marys going against the Seahawks/Broncos, I’m talking about an unsustainably terrible record in one-score games. I want all of it. I want these to be the two unluckiest and most inept teams in all of football. THAT is my dream.

Not a Drew Lock-led Seahawks team squeaking in as a seventh seed only to lose in the Wild Card round.

We Don’t Root For Russell Wilson On The Broncos

I don’t know who needs to be reminded of this, but if you’re here you’re probably a Seahawks fan. If you’re from another fanbase, I don’t know what to tell you. How did you find this?! It’s not a particularly well-publicized blog. I’ve got no adds. I don’t even know what SEO stands for, let alone how it works.

Anyway, it should be obvious – as Seahawks fans – why we don’t root for the Broncos. Especially in 2022. We get their first round draft pick from this season! So, the worse they are, the better our return will be on this trade. I know, as fans of Wilson for the past decade, there’s a soft spot in our hearts for the greatest quarterback in franchise history. But, you’ve got to push that aside for the good of the team, and you’ve got to push that aside from day one.

I should also point out – for those not around in the dreaded Before Times – that the Seahawks shared a division with the Broncos for a significant portion of our time in the league. I fucking hate the Broncos based on history alone. John Elway is a douche, Mike Harden is a dick; the Broncos can go fuck themselves. Kicking their asses in our lone Super Bowl victory is one of the highlights of my life for this very reason.

It’s tough, though. Because while I would expect Russell Wilson will keep playing another 10 years or so (and I would expect many of those years to be played in Denver), he’s never going to be better than he is right now. And, right now, he’s still capable of being really good. Even over the last couple of up-and-down seasons, we’ve seen Wilson be as good as he ever was at times. When he’s healthy, when he gets time in the pocket, when his receivers are able to get open. So, if he plays for Denver another 5-10 years, odds are he’s going to be at his best in 2022.

This makes it difficult to root for the Broncos to be terrible, because odds are they’ll be pretty good. Wish (for the Broncos to suck) in one hand and shit in the other, you know?

There’s a nightmare scenario lurking as a result of this trade. That mostly involves the Seahawks bungling the draft picks they got, settling for a mediocre quarterback, and spending the next decade or more trying to find our next franchise quarterback. But, that nightmare scenario also involves the Broncos doing what the Bucs did in 2020 and what the Rams did in 2021: having their brand new quarterbacks take them to – and winning – the Super Bowl.

I don’t know enough about the Broncos’ roster to have much of an opinion. They seem to have some quality offensive weapons. Javonte Williams looks like a superstar-in-waiting at running back. They have interesting wide receivers who have been in the wilderness thanks to their inept quarterback play the last few years. They traded us Fant, but apparently have an even-better young tight end to replace him. Are these weapons on par with what the Bucs and Rams have enjoyed the last two seasons? I don’t think so, but I also don’t think they’re a significant drop-off either.

I’m told the O-Line is good at pass blocking, but I guess we’ll see. I’m told the defense is young and up-and-coming. I’m told Von Miller might re-sign with them. I’m told they have a lot of money to spend in free agency, even while taking on Wilson’s salary. They certainly seem poised to Win Now, as is the popular strategy of our time.

Indeed, they appear to be one of the few teams that looks set everywhere; all they needed was a franchise quarterback, and now they have him.

They even have a new head coach in Nathaniel Hackett, who was Green Bay’s offensive coordinator the last few years. The Packers have been elite – to say the least – in his time there (obviously, with Aaron Rodgers winning back-to-back MVPs). He seems like the ideal head coach for someone like Russell Wilson; someone who will base the offense around his top tier quarterback. What can go wrong?

Well, Russ isn’t Rodgers, for starters. Both can be wildly stubborn, but it does seem that Rodgers has bought into the system the Packers have been running. Will Russ be as amenable to tweaking his game? You have to believe the Broncos are going to utilize what makes Wilson so special – his deep bombs – but he also needs to do a better job of taking what the defense gives him. Settling for the cheap, short stuff. And he’s still going to want to make good use of the running backs, because it’s only going to make his job easier.

Russell Wilson is obsessed with being the best. That means winning football games and championships, but that also means putting up monster stats and winning MVPs. It’s hard to marry the two when the best path for Wilson to win games and championships is for him to do less, not more. Efficiency has always been his very best trait. Sure, he’ll have high TD games, but that might mean 4 passing TDs on 220 yards throwing.

Wilson becomes very predictable the more he throws the ball. He wants to chase those long balls, so all you really need to do is play a Cover-2 and wait for your pressure to get home. He doesn’t run as much as he could, and he’s slower than he used to be; that’s a bad combo for someone who holds the ball as long as he does in trying to find the perfect play.

It’ll be fascinating to see what he does. It’s all on him now. He needs to be the one to adjust. You can give him any offensive coordinator he wants, but if he’s going to continue playing Russell Wilson Ball, then you’re going to get Russell Wilson Results like we’ve seen the last half-decade. He’ll win more than he loses, but he won’t take you to the Super Bowl.

It’s even more fascinating because he has more power than he ever has before. Because Russell Wilson finally got what he wanted. He forced his way off the Seahawks and got to pick his destination. He landed on a team that’s been dying for a competent quarterback and is desperate to contend for another championship. The Broncos need him more than he needs them; he’s only got two years left on his deal. If this season goes poorly, he can always see his contract out and hit free agency. Pete Carroll was never going to cater to Wilson’s whims; I don’t think the Broncos have any other choice. They’ve invested too much.

It could be a disaster. We could see Wilson doing all those frustrating Wilson things that soured our last couple seasons. He could get injured. And we can all imagine the sidelong glances the Seahawks’ brass will give one another, as if to say, “See? This is why we got out from under this when we did.”

It could also be a total triumph for the Broncos. We’ll have to watch him in primetime a ton, we’ll see nonstop highlights on Twitter week-in and week-out, and we very well could see him with tears streaming down his face as confetti falls at the next Super Bowl. It’s all up to Wilson now. Is he smart enough to do what needs to be done?

Culture Is Everything In The NFL

Buyer beware, because I can already tell this is going to be a long, rambling mess. Buckle up!

I’m on record as being in favor of the Seahawks retaining Pete Carroll, even if it’s at the expense of Russell Wilson demanding a trade out of Seattle. Yes, I’ll acknowledge the obvious: it’s really fucking hard to find a franchise quarterback in the NFL who’s capable of leading you to a championship.

There are differences between run of the mill franchise quarterbacks, and those who can take you all the way. Andy Dalton was a franchise quarterback for many years; he led the Bengals to the playoffs a number of times. But, he was never going to win them a title. Not without a remarkable level of talent around him, particularly on the defensive side of the ball. I would lump guys like Joe Flacco, Matt Ryan, and Matthew Stafford into that camp, even though Flacco won it all, Ryan very nearly won it all, and Stafford very well might win it all this season. Flacco rode an elite defense and a red-hot playoff streak to a title; Ryan had the biggest Super Bowl choke job in NFL history; and Stafford has a crazy fantasy roster around him helping prop up his damaged throwing hand and shaky decision-making.

The point is, none of those guys are on the level of Russell Wilson. And I would still pick Pete Carroll over him, even though odds are Carroll’s time in the NFL will come to an end first. Because I would argue it’s just as hard – if not harder – to find a quality head coach in the NFL to build the kind of winning culture you need to succeed for many years.

Head coaching in the NFL is a neverending revolving door. Really, you can extend that to all the major professional sports.

The Seahawks have been lucky in that regard. We’ve had three Grade-A culture builders in our relatively short tenure in the NFL. Chuck Knox was the first, and arguably one of the most underrated; if he was blessed with a proper ownership group, there’s no telling where he could’ve taken this franchise. Even still, from 1983-1991, he led the Seahawks to the second-best winning percentage in franchise history (minimum of 10 games), even better than Mike Holmgren (who everyone points to as the first great culture builder in Seahawks history). Holmgren, obviously, helped build and lead the Seahawks to their first-ever Super Bowl appearance. Then, we’ve got Pete Carroll, hands down the best of the bunch. Those three guys comprise 31 of the Seahawks’ 46 seasons of existence; we’ve been spoiled with great culture builders!

You’ll notice, though, of the 15 other years, we had a total of 5 separate head coaches. And that’s common throughout the NFL. I couldn’t tell you what the average is, but it feels right to say guys get approximately 3 years to prove if they’re winners or not. When you consider it’s predominantly the worst organizations who are doing most of the hiring of new coaches – you don’t see the Steelers, Ravens, Patriots, or Seahawks hiring and firing guys all willy-nilly all the time – it’s doubly hard to turn things around. You really have to catch lightning in a bottle with the right quarterback, the right roster construction, the right scheme, and the right salary cap situation to see those kinds of quick results. All just to prolong your tenure an extra few years! But, as you’ll frequently see, even guys who’ve won it all don’t get a free pass forever. One or two bad years and suddenly you’re washed up. This leads to going the complete opposite direction with who you hire next: a stern disciplinarian might give way to a “players’ coach”, a defensive guru might give way to an offensive mastermind, etc.

Now, take a step back and look at the Mariners, for instance. Lou Piniella was our greatest and longest tenured manager in franchise history; he was out following the 2002 season. Scott Servais is already the second-best and second-longest tenured manager in Mariners’ history at only 6 seasons. Of the Mariners’ 45 years in existence, Piniella and Servais have managed for 16 seasons; of the remaining 29 seasons, the M’s have had 18 official managers (interim or otherwise). That’s insane. Merely taking into account the 13 seasons between Piniella and Servais, we had 8 managers. When you think of the worst-run, most-dysfunctional North American professional sports franchises, you think of – among many others – the team with the longest playoff drought: the Seattle Mariners. Is it any surprise that we would have 8 managers in 13 seasons, until finally stabilizing things under Servais and Dipoto? I’m not saying either of them are perfect, but unless things go totally FUBAR, they should be the ones to lead us back into the post-season (even if an extra playoff spot will help necessitate it). I’d say it’s looking good – with the talent we have at all levels of the organization – that they’ve done a good job of both finding the right talent and turning the culture into a winning one. They still have to go and do it, of course. But, that’s how hard it can be. That’s how long it can take. The Mariners were one of the best baseball organizations from the mid-90s through the early 2000’s; then they were one of the worst for almost two full decades. That has everything to do with the culture we let fall apart with the loss of Lou Piniella and Pat Gillick; finding their replacements has been exceedingly difficult.

Now, take a look around the rest of the NFL. The longest tenured head coaches are Bill Belichick, Mike Tomlin, John Harbaugh, Pete Carroll, and Andy Reid. All are guys at the top of their profession, who regularly take their teams into the playoffs and have won at least one championship. But, aside from Belichick, they’ve all weathered some down periods. Down periods that lesser organizations might’ve fired them over. Of course, they’re still employed because those down periods aren’t very long, nor are they very bad, but still. Head coaches have been fired for a lot less, because their organizatons lack the fortitude to ride out the rough patches.

Every coach aside from those top five have been hired in 2017 or later. Not coincidentally, I would argue those head coaches are one or two bad years away from also joining the unemployment line, even though they’re coaches who’ve led their teams to conference championship games and Super Bowls.

Not all of them, of course. I think there’s a valid point that a great head coach needs a great quarterback, but I would also say the reverse is true: a great quarterback needs a great head coach. Granted, great quarterbacks have been propping up good-to-mediocre head coaches since time immemorial, but a great QB by himself is only going to take you so far. How many titles has Aaron Rodgers won in his Hall of Fame career? How about Drew Brees? On down the line.

I would argue great quarterbacks are helped along and nurtured to their fullest potential by the elite head coaches who’ve built a culture in which they can thrive. It’s when they try to bash heads with the head coach and the culture where things go sideways. And organizations – fearing reprisal from the fanbase – will almost always side with the elite QB over the elite head coach.

For those who wanted to put the issue to bed after one Tom Brady championship in Tampa Bay, just look at what Belichick has done in that same time: he had a down year with Cam Newton at the helm, then he turned right around and made it back to the playoffs with a rookie QB. Now, it looks like the Patriots are set up for another decade of success, while Brady just went and retired. THAT is what an elite coach – with an elite culture – can do for an organization.

Meanwhile, look at the Dolphins. They just fired Brian Flores after back-to-back winning seasons. His first season with the team was arguably his best, in spite of a 5-11 finish. The ownership and GM did everything to strip that team of all its talent; yet, Flores managed to win 5 of his last 9 games with a nothing roster.

Now, he can’t get hired anywhere, even though I think he’s proven to be an effective and winning head coach with a great culture. The reason why the Dolphins failed to make the playoffs in 2021 has everything to do with being saddled with a sub-par quarterback. And yet, Flores still managed to coach them to a winning record! He’s suing the NFL and I think he has a point; the Giants knew who they wanted to hire well before they “interviewed” Flores for the job. Flores was only cursorily considered for the job because he’s a person of color, and therefore fits the requirement under the Rooney Rule.

Look at David Culley of the Houston Texans. He – another person of color – replaced Bill O’Brien, someone who gutted the organization in his desperation to cling to his job. O’Brien, not for nothing, was a mediocre coach and culture builder, responsible for some of the worst and most lopsidedly terrible trades I’ve ever seen. How he kept his job for as long as he did is baffling. Culley only won 4 games this year and was fired after one season on the job. A season, mind you, where the Texans – much like the Dolphins in 2019 – gutted the roster to try to tank for the top draft pick. The fact that they won any games at all is a testament to the job Culley did.

These are just two examples of dysfunctional organizations; I haven’t even mentioned the Washington Football Team, which seems to embarrass itself on a monthly basis with its variety of scandals. Or the Jaguars, who churn through terrible head coaches like cheap sticks of gum. Or the Lions or Bears or Cowboys or Raiders or Jets, who have done nothing but underachieve for years and years and years. They continue to fuck up on the regular, with zero accountability from the top.

Is that what you want for the Seahawks?

Most franchises pay a lot of lip service to diversity and doing the right thing; very few actually back that up in their hiring practices and the way they construct their organizations. The Seahawks aren’t perfect; no team is. But the Seahawks do it better than most.

I don’t worry about the Seahawks paying lip service to hiring their next defensive coordinator. Because they have the culture in place, and a proven track record of hiring based on their scheme and the qualifications of the coach, regardless of race. If the Seahawks hire a white guy, I’ll at least be satisfied with the fact that they searched far and wide for the best person for the job. If the Seahawks hire a person of color, ditto.

The thing about culture is it has to be about what’s best for the organization, what’s best for everyone involved. It can’t be all about one man’s ego trip. That’s where you see pitfalls throughout professional sports. The ego of the owner, the ego of the general manager, the ego of the head coach, the ego of the quarterback (or that team’s best player, whoever it may be). Once it becomes about one man’s quest to be the best, all is lost. That person is the cancer, and that person is who needs to go. Unfortunately, that’s much easier said than done, the higher they are on the organizational chart.

The Rams To Cover Against The Seahawks Seems Like The Easiest Money I’ve Ever Seen

It sure does seem like the Seahawks have been screwed by the NFL postponing our game against the Rams in L.A. thanks to their rampant outbreak of COVID this past week. The extra two days have allowed the Rams to get back some of their best players – like Jalen Ramsey and Von Miller – while it’s led to the Seahawks losing guys like Tyler Lockett, D.J. Reed, and Bryan Mone (although, I get the argument that a couple of these positive tests came down on Sunday, in time to eliminate them from competition for that day; you wonder if there wouldn’t otherwise be some delayed reporting at play if the game indeed took place as originally scheduled).

Of course, the Rams always had Aaron Donald, Cooper Kupp, and Matthew Stafford available, so it’s probably fair to assume they would’ve roundly defeated the Seahawks anyway. What might’ve been a forfeit for L.A. is now looking like a certain victory, especially considering they have everything to play for (a win would put them in the driver’s seat for the division) while the Seahawks have next-to-nothing to play for.

It’s baffling, then, why the Rams are only favored by 7 points. This is as big of a no-brainer as I’ve ever seen; I would’ve figured the spread would be anywhere from 8-10 points considering the matchup, regardless of what’s been happening with the comings and goings of COVID-tested players the last few days.

Earlier this season, at home, in primetime (when we usually play our best), the Seahawks lost 26-17. Granted, that was the game where Russell Wilson mashed his finger; but that injury happened late enough for the game to already be decided (10 fourth quarter points led by Geno Smith against a prevent defense doesn’t – as Shania Twain once said – impress-ah me much).

Last year, the Seahawks famously went 1-2 against the Rams, losing on the road by a touchdown and at home in the playoffs by 10 points. In 2019, we lost in L.A. by a whopping 16 points. Putting up points has been exceedingly difficult against the Rams in recent seasons, particularly due to the fact that their defensive line owns property in our backfield. Every third down feels impossible, because one or more individuals are right on top of Russell Wilson within a second or two.

It doesn’t matter what year we’re talking about; this dates back for the entirety of the Russell Wilson era in Seattle. Now, focus in on 2021. These 5-8 Seahawks have been pretty atrocious, especially on offense. The O-Line has been a miserable failure, Russell Wilson has yet to adapt to the new scheme, and points have been VERY hard to come by. Who in their right mind would expect this Seahawks team to hang with a 9-4 Rams team playing for the division and a possible top seed in the NFC?

7 points feels like a gift. Even assuming some sort of back-door cover, the worst you should expect is a push. But, this feels like a game where the Rams will get a two-score lead early and coast to victory. I expect something in the 33-13 range, with a minimum of 4 sacks on Russell Wilson, and something like a 20% conversion rate on 3rd/4th downs. It’s required a hostile takeover to get back the Taylor Family Farm, but I’m willing to once again put it all on the line in this one. The Rams will have no trouble whatsoever dismantling the Seahawks later today. Get your bets in now; you can thank me later!

Cooper Kupp against a depleted secondary (missing both Reed and Jamal Adams), the Rams’ running game against our depleted defensive line (losing Mone in the interior is huge towards our ability to stop the run), and, of course, Aaron Donald & Co. will continue beating our asses like the red-headed step-children that we are.

When it’s all over, once and for all we can give up the dream on the 2021 season (if you haven’t already done so). Just in time to lose two of our next three games to close out the year in miserable fashion. Yay football.

Nobody Wants To Hear About My Fantasy Team 2021: Mac & Me

I’m in a little text thread with two of the other guys slated to play in the Consolation Bracket this season. They’re both pretty disgruntled with the new Dynasty format, and have been since the very beginning. I turned out to be one of the swing votes, in that in the past I had always voted against hard change in the league. But, after slowly building things to where we went – to four keepers per year – it finally felt like it was time to make good on a long-ago dream. If you weren’t in a Dynasty League mindset by now, you were never going to get there. I got there, and I’m all in.

I love the Dynasty League! And I’m in absolute last place, with no real hope of climbing out before the end of the season. Spoiler alert: Snoopy & Prickly Pete lost to Toot Cannons 191.85 to 164.35; meanwhile, Korky Butchek won his matchup against The Lance Petemans (the two I referenced in the above text chain) to all but guarantee his avoidance of the Toilet Trophy. Oddly enough, had I won, there would’ve been a three-way tie at the bottom (all 4-9 records) with Korky and my upcoming opponent, Sloane N Steady, which would’ve created a legitimate Toilet Bowl scenario, where – depending on the outcomes – any of the three of us could’ve taken the trophy. As it is, I think it’s mine for sure.

Anyway, my point is, as the worst team in the league, I have the most right to be disgruntled with the new format, but I’m all in. Because I’ve spent the last few years cultivating this mindset. Patience. Playing for the future. Acquiring future keepers either via free agency or trades. It helps that Javonte Williams has gone off the last two weeks (including scoring 29.8 points this past week, when he was given full starter’s reps), shoring up one of my running back spots. I feel like I’m ALMOST there. It’s not a perfect team, that’s obvious. It might not even be a good team next year. But, I should see improvement. I should avoid last place at the very least! Between what I’ve done this year, and how I set my team up going forward with the next year’s draft, there could be a nice little shake-up! We’ll see.

The key to it all is, was, and always has been finding at least one viable quarterback in 2021. Ideally two. But, one for sure. Granted, this is something I’ve been looking for since I can’t even remember anymore. Forever, probably. I thought I had something good with a rookie Carson Wentz. I lost my mind last year when I was able to nab Tua off free agency before he was handed the starter’s job. But, I’ve always kind of half-assed it. I was trying to have it both ways, develop an elite quarterback of the future, while trying to also win. I succeeded in doing neither. This year, it’s been all about the QB position. I’ve had up to six QBs on my roster at any given moment; right now, I have four, including Jordan Love as a lottery ticket. Love is my option if no one else asserts themselves in the next few weeks (or in offseason workouts).

I think I have the one, though. Mac Jones. There’s a lot to like there. He’s in a good system, with a good coaching staff. He’s got good players around him. He’s careful with the football. He’s got some skills and put up some nice fantasy numbers as a rookie. He looks like, at the moment, the best quarterback of this rookie class. We’ll see if that translates to future fantasy success, but he’s the best quarterback I’ve got at the moment.

Well, technically Taylor Heinicke has the most fantasy points on the year, but that’s as underwhelming of a dynasty quarterback as you can get. With that noodle arm? He’d have to be the next Peyton Manning, and I don’t think he is. For me, it’s down to either Justin Fields or Jordan Love as my second QB option heading into next year, but I’m pretty well convinced that I will need to address this position again in the draft next year.

But, I can’t throw away a second season trying to chase down the quarterback position. I need to figure it out next year. Which means I need to be right on Mac Jones. If I have him already in place, then I’m in pretty good shape. There’s hope that he’ll take a step forward in his second season, and then we’ll be off and running.

Unfortunately, I needed him this past week, and he failed to deliver. As noted, Toot Cannons came to play. The return of Kyler Murray buried me in a pretty deep hole. But, Diontae Johnson put up 30.5 to go with Williams’ high score, and the rest of my team did just enough to get me to within 28 points of winning. I had Mac Jones going against Buffalo on Monday Night Football. 28 points isn’t outlandish! An elite quarterback should be able to give you that in a pinch. Of course, Mac Jones has only reached that lofty target a few times this year, so we really needed him to give it all he had. It turns out, I got next-to-nothing from him, as the Patriots threw the ball only three times in their 14-10 victory over the Bills. Mac Jones had zero turnovers and was healthy for the entire game, yet he came away with 0.65 points. That’s not inspiring a ton of confidence heading into next year. (of course, the weather was a mess, with wind gusts up to 55 mph, but that’s neither here nor there).

This is it, the last week of the regular season. I’m 3-10, going up against the 4-9 Sloane N Steady. I would need to win, have Korky Butchek lose to Beasts, and outscore Korky by 59.02 points to avoid the Toilet Trophy. It ain’t happening. You hate to see it. Here’s my team:

  • Taylor Heinicke (QB) vs. DAL
  • Justin Fields (QB) @ GB
  • CeeDee Lamb (WR) @ WAS
  • Diontae Johnson (WR) @ MIN
  • Javonte Williams (RB) vs. DET
  • Alexander Mattison (RB) vs. PIT
  • TBD (TE)
  • D.K. Metcalf (WR) @ HOU
  • Ryan Succup (K) vs. BUF
  • L.A. Rams (DEF) @ ARI

Mac Jones is on a BYE, as is tight end Mike Gesicki. I’m going to try to pick up another tight end to keep on my roster the rest of the season, but we’ll see how it goes. At some point, I’m going to have a roster decision to make, because I can only abuse the IR slot so much. Right now, Jordan Love is on COVID IR, which should only work for a day or two (since he’s truly vaccinated and not just immunized). I’ve been trying to shore up my running back position heading into this offseason, but I’d like to keep some options open depending on what happens going into next year. I’ve got some choice backups on my roster I’d love to hold onto, but my team is just too damn healthy at the moment! I might end up dropping a kicker for a little bit until things get less hairy.

Here’s what Sloane N Steady has to work with (he’s another future Consolation Bracket foe I might have to contend with again in the near future):

  • Derek Carr (QB) @ KC
  • Aaron Rodgers (QB) vs. CHI
  • Mike Evans (WR) vs. BUF
  • Chase Claypool (WR) @ MIN
  • Nick Chubb (RB) vs. BAL
  • Darrel Williams (RB) vs. LV
  • Kyle Pitts (TE) @ CAR
  • Mark Ingram (RB) @ NYJ
  • TBD (K)
  • TBD (DEF)

My boy got swallowed up pretty good with the BYEs this week. He’s gonna have to make some moves to fill out his roster; I’m sure there will be ample opportunities out there for him. He also has a number of players that I’m going with in other leagues, so I would love for those guys to play really well (you know who you are).

Splinter League Round-Up!

BUCK FUTTER had the week all wrapped up before Monday, so we didn’t need Mac Jones to do anything (thank Christ!). The win leapfrogged me over Eddie’s team, into second place at 9-4. I’m one game behind Beer Thirty at 10-3, with two weeks to go. I’m not locked into a playoff spot yet, but with one more win I’m all but guaranteed. I have the second-most points in the league (50 behind Beer Thirty), which is appropriate. I just need to not fall apart over the next two games and I should be all right! Then, it’s playoff time, and we let the chips fall where they may. Shout out to Chris Godwin, Matthew Stafford, and the Indy defense for really carrying me last week!

Nobody Wants To Hear About My Fantasy Team 2021: Justin Fields Looks Far From Ideal

Well, it was a nice idea: Justin Fields had been slowly, but surely, getting better every week he’d been starting for the Bears. But, that offense is broken and they’ve done nothing to help their rookie quarterback succeed. The Bears even managed to be the first team this year to successfully run the ball against the Bucs! You’d think with that advantage, they would’ve mustered something against a depleted secondary. But, based on my eye test, I didn’t see a lot of play-action. Just a lot of plays that were probably designed for an Andy Dalton-led offense (or, given Matt Nagy’s reptuation, probably just a generic offense he’s hoping to shoe-horn into any situation, regardless of who’s under center).

There are two things at play: either Justin Fields just doesn’t have it and is a bust, or the Bears coaches are failing him and will likely be fired at season’s end (if not sooner). Either way, that doesn’t give me a lot of confidence in Fields’ viability as a fantasy quarterback. Certainly, he’s not someone worth hanging onto for next year.

Of course, I’m not going to waive him; I’ll let the season play out and see if there’s a dramatic turnaround. But, I’m assuming we’ll see more of the same conservative, unoriginal play-calling, resulting in the same conservative, mediocre offensive scoring output. That will, ultimately, break Fields as a prospect and we’ll all be wondering which team he’s going to be a backup on in a few years.

Mac Jones, on the other hand, looks pretty good! It’s hard to say if he’s going to be an elite fantasy quarterback; he very well could just be one of the better game managers a la Andy Dalton, Joe Flacco, Carson Wentz (in Indy, so far) and not a Justin Herbert or Joe Burrow or Patrick Mahomes. That doesn’t do me a lot of good, though those types of game managers – in their primes – can be okay as a second quarterback in a 2-QB league. But, you really need a stud to anchor your team week-in and week-out in fantasy, and it’s still up in the air whether or not Jones can be that guy.

His 29.25 points (for my bench) this week against the Jets was a season (and therefore career) high. Prior to this week, he had three games right around 20 points, with three other games significantly under 20 points. It’s fair to say they haven’t taken his training wheels off yet, so the best may still be to come. But, there’s also the chance for – as he gets more freedom – increased turnovers and other mistakes. Also, 29.25 is fine, but a stud will get you 30+ on the regular. Let me know when Mac Jones has multiple 40+ games. Also, 29.25 came against the Jets. I know they hampered him earlier in the season, but their defense is starting to get mighty depleted, and I bet any mediocre QB would’ve done something similar against that flailing team.

Taylor Heinicke (also for my bench) managed to out-score either of the guys I started this week, and he was close to having a 30+ point game. That was on the road, in Green Bay, against some shaky officiating, so color me moderately impressed. I’m not giving up on him just yet, though he might be running out of time, with Fitzpatrick on the mend and set to get his job back when he’s ready.

As expected, Snoopy & Prickly Pete lost to COVID Bubble Boys 171.25 to 111.20. Even if I had fielded a FLEX guy, I would’ve lost. Perhaps if I’d played my best two QBs AND fielded a FLEX guy, I could’ve made it interesting (this would also assume I’d drop Trey Sermon – who had zero stats in the 49ers game this week, as he seemed to be strictly an emergency back for them – and inserted a running back from the scrap heap), but even with COVID Bubble Boys starting Trey Lance at QB (who wasn’t even active), he scored a ton of points that my team wasn’t equipped to cover. You hate to see it.

No roster moves this week, so it’s on to Week 8. Snoopy & Prickly Pete goes up against The Lance Petemans. He’s in 9th place, I’m in 10th place (out of 10 teams); we’re both 2-5. We very well may be looking at a future Consolation Bracket matchup, so it’ll be fun to scout things out now.

Here’s what my lineup is looking like:

  • Jameis Winston (QB) vs. TB
  • Mac Jones (QB) @ LAC
  • D.K. Metcalf (WR) vs. JAX
  • A.J. Brown (WR) @ IND
  • Ezekiel Elliott (RB) @ MIN
  • Khalil Herbert (RB) vs. SF
  • Noah Fant (TE) vs. WAS
  • CeeDee Lamb (WR) @ MIN
  • TBD (K)
  • L.A. Rams (DEF) @ HOU

You know what? I’m not gonna lie to you, I like a lot of my matchups! I like a Jameis Revenge Game at home against the Bucs. I like Mac Jones needing to throw a lot on the road against the high-flying Chargers. I like D.K. against the Jags (where the Seahawks should FINALLY have a get-right game with Geno at the helm). I like A.J. against a depleted Colts secondary. I really like Fant against a suspect Football Team defense. And, the Rams should have no trouble making life miserable for the Texans and their inept offense (though, I’m less than thrilled with the prospect of Tyrod Taylor returning; he’s actually competent).

My bench includes Diontae Johnson, who has to go on the road to play a tough Browns team. I could see that game being very low-scoring, but I could also see Johnson racking up points anyway and making me rue the day I went with D.K. over him. Otherwise, it’s Fields against the 49ers (we’ll see) and Heinicke against the Broncos on the road (far from ideal).

Here’s what The Lance Petemans are running out:

  • Ryan Tannehill (QB) @ IND
  • Kirk Cousins (QB) vs. DAL
  • Tyreek Hill (WR) vs. NYG
  • Calvin Ridley (WR) vs. CAR
  • Darrell Henderson (RB) @ HOU
  • James Conner (RB) vs. GB
  • Tyler Higbee (TE) @ HOU
  • Keenan Allen (WR) vs. NE
  • Matt Gay (K) @ HOU
  • San Francisco (DEF) @ CHI

He’s got a pretty good team, that’s clearly favored over me this week, and would likely defeat me even if I pick up a kicker. He’s unfortunately got Tyreek Hill going on Monday Night, which means A LOT would have to go right for me and wrong for him on Sunday if I were to – at the last minute – want to pick up the Giants’ kicker on Monday Night. Hill always has the potential to go off for 40+ points in any given game, and the Giants’ defense is God-awful. So, we’ll see, but I’m not holding my breath.

If I do end up dropping anyone, it’ll be Trey Sermon. It’s probably a bad sign that the 49ers have two rookie running backs, and the lower-ranked one is the workhorse in this situation. I’m sure there’s still ample opportunity for Sermon to pick up the offense and be a dynamic player late in the season. But, they have another running back returning from PUP or IR pretty soon, so it’s looking highly doubtful.

Splinter League Round-Up!

No trouble this week for BUCK FUTTER! I had the biggest blowout in the league, 198.44 to 131.26 over I REGRET NOTHING. Huge days from A-Rod and Stafford, huge days from my TB receivers, and a huge day from Kamara on Monday Night all sealed the deal. I REGRET NOTHING mistakenly left in Sterling Shepard even though he was inactive (probably leading him to regret that, at least), but it wouldn’t have mattered. This time I had the third-most points scored in the league, but lady luck was on my side (as I didn’t go up against one of the top two). That brings my record up to 4-3 (third place overall), still with the second-most points scored in the league this season. Now I get the luxury of going up against the last place team, sitting on a ton of injuries. Here’s hoping I don’t massively underperform!

Seahawks Are Staring A Season From Hell In The Face

It’s one of those out-of-nowhere, Anything That Can Go Wrong Will Go Wrong types of seasons. We gag away a 2-score 4th quarter lead to the Titans, we lose handily to an inferior team in the Vikings, we take advantage of a 49ers team that lost its quarterback, but then we lose our own quarterback at home to the Rams in a loss on Thursday night.

Russell Wilson has a finger. The severity of his injury is unknown at this time, but anything is in play. They could have surgery to put a pin in it. They could wrap it up and have him play on it. He could return as early as next week, or as late as 4-6 weeks from now.

We’ve always said that a significant Russell Wilson injury is the worst possible scenario for any Seahawks team. When that happens, just write the season off immediately. Enter Geno Smith.

Admittedly, he looked pretty good last night! Given what I’ve seen from him in his stint with the Jets, and everything I’ve seen from him in the pre-season, I expected a statue who checks down constantly and misses wide open receivers on the regular. But, he was pushing the ball down the field with authority, and taking his opportunities to run with it! Granted, by the time he got the ball, it was the 4th quarter and we were down by 9 points; in all likelihood, the Rams were playing softer coverage than normal to help bleed clock.

Nevertheless, Geno Smith made the throws, led a 98-yard touchdown drive, then followed it with a field goal drive to make it a one-score game. We had the ball with just over two minutes left in the game – and no time outs – with a chance to win it. Of course, Tyler Lockett fell down and his first pass of the drive was intercepted, but you can hardly blame Geno for that.

I don’t know what to make of that. Because all along, Seahawks fans have been saying how great it is to have him as our backup. Veteran presence, someone who can come in and steady the ship if Russell Wilson were to miss a few games. I think that’s always been somewhat halfhearted because no one ever expected Wilson to get injured! We’ve never had to actually stare Geno Smith in the face as a real starting possibility. I’ve rarely given a shit about who the Seahawks have as their backup QB for this reason: if Wilson always plays, then put ME in there as the backup for all I care!

But, now we’re in dire straits; 2-3 record, probably needing to go 8-4 the rest of the way to make the playoffs. And we need Geno Smith to help get us there.

I’m going to need to see Geno play this way for more than a single quarter of football. I’m going to need to see multiple games of competence before I believe he’s been worth all of those backup quarterback contracts.

I’ll say this, though: there were lots of things he did against the Rams that I don’t think Russell Wilson is capable of doing. Like getting rid of the ball quickly when faced with extreme pressure. The Rams weren’t just hanging back; they were sending regular blitzes. Plus, our offensive line wasn’t great (Duane Brown REALLY had a poor game, as he starts to show his age). In those situations, I don’t mind when a quarterback checks down, because it beats that little turtle move Wilson always does when he gets swallowed up by the pocket and goes down in a heap. Geno hit a pass to Alex Collins that went for a huge gain; I believe Wilson would’ve been trying to make some crazy play happen deep down field and got killed.

I’m starting to believe you need a specific type of quarterback to run this Shane Waldron/Sean McVay offense, and I’m starting to have my doubts that Wilson is the guy. Could Geno Smith be as effective as Jared Goff was with the Rams? Scoff all you want, but he still led them to a Super Bowl. I’m not saying the Seahawks are a Super Bowl team, but Geno could at least keep the offense on track, if he can play at that Goff level.

It’s unfortunate that the world is ragging on the defense, because they really put together a terrific first half of football, holding the Rams to 3 points. But, they ended up allowing 476 yards in the game, making it the fourth straight game where they’ve given up 450+ yards (an NFL record). Yes, they held the Rams to 3 first half points, but they gave up 23 in the second half, and it would’ve been a lot more had Matthew Stafford not been dealing with a fucked up finger of his own (and throwing a lot of errant balls as a result).

Bottom line is: this isn’t a Super Bowl defense, though there are some nice pieces. Jamal Adams just can’t cover anyone; he fucking sucks. The pass rush can’t get home without blitzing, and goes in the tank for large stretches of every game. And we can’t even hold our heads high with a good run defense. It’s all bad, at all levels.

What REALLY makes this the Season From Hell is the fact that the Jets get our first round draft pick next year. We’re almost certainly going to fall short of making the playoffs. We might even be in the bottom-ten teams in all of football (or even bottom five if things get super bad). That means we’re giving the Jets a Top 10 pick, for an overpaid safety who stinks.

And, what’s worse, this is probably the final straw before Russell Wilson demands a trade out of here. So, not only will we have to rebuild, but we’ll have to rebuild without our top ten draft pick.

In conclusion, I’ll be looking for other activities to pursue on Sundays for the next few years. I had a good run as a football fan, but I think it’s time to be hitting the old dusty trail. How much apple picking is too much apple picking, if you had to estimate?

Nobody Wants To Hear About My Fantasy Team 2021: Some Good & Bad In A Week 1 Win

Part of me feels like I had no business winning that first game; that’ll happen when you score the 4th (out of 5th) most points in victory (and when you score the 7th most points in total). There were only three teams I would’ve defeated, and I was lucky enough to have gone up against one of them.

But, as a seasoned fantasy football veteran, I know shit like this happens. And, at some point, my team is going to be held WAY under its expected total points, and I’m going to lose to a team that was Just Okay. The fantasy gods giveth, and the fantasy gods taketh away.

Snoopy & Prickly Pete defeated Car Talk With Josh Allen 161.88 to 123.35.

I woke up on Sunday to find that Trey Sermon was inactive. That had me scrambling to my computer to put Raheem Mostert into my lineup over Clyde Edwards-Helaire. When you roster Mostert, you know time is of the essence; there are precious few weeks in a season where he makes it through a game unscathed. In striking while the iron was hot, I figured what better opportunity to enjoy a completely-healthy Mostert?

It turns out, he was good for two carries before he injured his knee, sending him to the IR for the rest of the year.

I’m a pretty rational human being. I know, for instance, that I wasn’t the only person who was duped into starting Mostert this past week. I know I wasn’t the only person to make a last-second lineup change that backfired. But, I believe wholeheartedly that I’m the only person in the world who gets so consistently fucked over by these moves every single time. Either I make the switch, and it backfires, or I stick to my guns, and I leave points on my bench. EVERY. FUCKING. TIME.

In this case, it was hard to be too upset, because CEH only got 10.2 points – pretty much what I expected him to get against the Browns – but that’s not the point. The point is the potential of what Mostert represented, in a cupcake matchup against the Lions’ inept run defense. That was a 20+ point game in the making!

The fantasy gods, knowing they did me dirty, decided to help me out in this one. My opponent had Ryan Fitzpatrick going as one of his QBs; he made it all of 6 pass attempts before going down with an injury. That one probably hurt Car Talk more than it hurt me, but if Mostert would’ve had the monster day I was expecting, I think it might’ve been close.

Anyway, the highlight of my day was Jameis Winston throwing for 5 touchdowns and getting me 41.1 points. He REALLY carried me, though I had some good performances elsewhere. CeeDee Lamb got me 23.88, Jimmy G got me 19.9 (and had a TD pass stolen from him at the goalline by the backup, FML), D.K. Metcalf, A.J. Brown, and the Rams’ defense all got me in the teens.

Meanwhile, Car Talk had 25-point games out of Kelce and Mixon, but Josh Allen struggled in a tough matchup against the Steelers’ defense. On top of that, he had four guys NOT named Fitzpatrick who also got him under 10 points each (compared to just Elliott and Mostert for me).

Late last week, after Gus Edwards went down, I picked up Ty’Son Williams, dropping Zack Moss (who was another surprise inactive on gameday). Williams looks to be going up against Latavius Murray (who I also just picked up on waivers this week) for carries in that backfield; he had a solid game on Monday Night, but the splits were pretty even between the two. I’ll continue to monitor them, while still looking to shore up the position. In the meantime, Mostert lands in my IR spot.

This week, I go up against Hahmez Wah 360 Allstars. Here’s my projected lineup:

  • Jameis Winston (QB) @ CAR
  • Jimmy Garoppolo (QB) @ PHI
  • A.J. Brown (WR) @ SEA
  • D.K. Metcalf (WR) vs. TEN
  • Ezekiel Elliott (RB) @ LAC
  • Clyde Edwards-Helaire (RB) @ BAL
  • Noah Fant (TE) @ JAX
  • CeeDee Lamb (WR) @ LAC
  • Justin Tucker (K) vs. KC
  • L.A. Rams (DEF) @ IND

I have at least one friend in my league who thinks Winston might’ve been the best pick in the entire draft. After one week, who am I to argue?! But, I’d like to see it over a consistent basis before I crown my ass. Nevertheless, the Panthers’ defense looks like a pretty good landing spot for his second week. Jimmy G, I’m a little more concerned about. Maybe the Philly defense is better than we thought? Or Atlanta is just terrible? My alternative is Mac Jones at the Jets, which seems like a no-brainer. But, the Jets do have a pretty good D-Line, I’m told, and again it’s only his second game. My hunch is the 49ers will need to throw the ball more to put up points to keep up with the Eagles (especially if the 49ers’ defense is as bad as we saw in the second half against the Lions last week). I’m really just biding my time – and THOROUGHLY on the Bench Andy Dalton Bandwagon – until Justin Fields gets the starting job full time. Boy did he look good in limited action against the Bears!

Zeke is locked in at running back, and I fully expect him to have a much better game against the Chargers. CEH is up in the air …

As usual, my three receivers are locked in, so I won’t be throwing any running backs into my flex spot just yet. Ty’Son Williams is still in too much of a timeshare to trust at this point.

I’m reasonably happy with Justin Tucker against the Chiefs, though that could be uncomfortable if the Chiefs start racking up the touchdowns. I still don’t know enough about Noah Fant or the Jaguars to know if I’m happy with that matchup, but my gut tells me it should go well for me. I’d like to think the Rams could do just as well against the Colts as the Seahawks did, if not better; here’s hoping Aaron Donald can make Carson Wentz’s life miserable!

The lineup Hahmez Wah is throwing out there looks quite formidable!

  • Jalen Hurts (QB) vs. SF
  • Matthew Stafford (QB) @ IND
  • Stefon Diggs (WR) @ MIA
  • Diontae Johnson (WR) vs. LV
  • Chris Carson (RB) vs. TEN
  • D’Andre Swift (RB) @ GB
  • Robert Tonyan (TE) vs. DET
  • Tyler Lockett (WR) vs. TEN
  • Rodrigo Blankenship (K) vs. LAR
  • Buffalo (DEF) @ MIA

Hurts looks like a Top 5 fantasy quarterback, and if the 49ers’ defense is as bad as they were in the second half against Detroit, that could be a 40-point game in the making. Stafford, of course, I’m super-high on, and Indy’s defense is beatable, as we just saw with Russell Wilson. Diggs is a Top 5 wide receiver and Buffalo loves to throw the ball, so that’s always scary. Johnson is a little boom-or-busty for the Steelers, but nothing I know about the Raiders’ defense leads me to believe they can stop a top-flight passing attack. Carson was held out of the endzone against the Colts, but I wouldn’t expect that to continue against a truly wretched Titans defense. Swift had a GREAT first week and could very well find himself the beneficiary of lots of checkdowns as the Lions try to come back against the Packers on Monday night. Tonyan is solid, though I imagine Rodgers will look to get all his receivers going this week. Lockett had a terrific first week, so hopefully this time he hangs back and lets Metcalf take the lead. Miami’s offense stinks with Tua, so I fully expect Buffalo to blast them.

All told he’s got some great looking players and matchups this week, so I’m going to need a bundle to keep up. It’s not totally impossible for me to do so, but I get the feeling my team is probably a 160-ish point team at best most weeks. Jimmy G is too much of a burden, and that might make all the difference if he shits the bed. I’m predicting a loss, maybe even a total blowout.

Splinter League Round-Up!

Dude, fuck me, I don’t know what happened. I was projected to be the top scoring team in the league this year, and came out and scored the fewest points in week one. That’s thanks in large part to Aaron Rodgers laying a fucking EGG and getting less than one point. Najee Harris was also disappointing, getting less than 6 points. And Mark Andrews didn’t do me any favors on Monday night either (though, by that point, I was rooting against him in other leagues, so it was okay). I’m chocking this up to a fluke occurrence and we’re On To Cincinnati.

The 2021 Seattle Seahawks Regular Season Preview Extraordinaire!

If you feel like reading about my position-by-position breakdowns, click HERE and go through all the links at the top. And, in case you missed it, I talked briefly about my predictions for how the 2021 NFL season is going to go as a whole HERE. There’s a pretty significant spoiler in there about my feelings on the Seahawks, which I’m going to get to directly.

I think the 2021 Seattle Seahawks are going to be disappointing. That’s not a very unique hill to die on. If you’re a playoff contender, only one team’s season WON’T be disappointing. But, I guess that’s my point: the 2021 Seattle Seahawks aren’t going to win the Super Bowl. For a team with Russell Wilson as its quarterback, for a team that has been to two Super Bowls in the last decade – and been to the playoffs in all but one year dating back to 2012 – not winning the Super Bowl is always going to be disappointing. Seasons change and we’re all getting fucking older, and it’s reasonable to wonder if we’re all going to die without the Seahawks ever winning a Super Bowl again.

In skimming last year’s preview post, I think my feelings about the team are similar, but for slightly different reasons. I was probably a little higher on the offense than I am this season, and for the first half that was validated by what we saw on the field. Then, the level of our defensive competition improved, and we were unable to adjust to what they were doing to us. On the flipside, there were lots of worries about the defense heading into the season – also validated by what we saw on the field – but that tightened up in the second half (as the level of offensive competition declined, and we were able to adjust to what teams were doing to us). Ultimately, we were looking at a fatally flawed team in 2020, and we’re still looking at a fatally flawed team in 2021.

There’s a lot to like about the offense once again. The talent is on par with the most talented offensive teams in the NFL. We have a Top 5 quarterback, we have arguably the best wide receiver duo, we have a stable of quality running backs and tight ends (when healthy), and our offensive line is good enough (especially with Duane Brown back in the fold). I only have one concern about the offense, but it’s a big one: Shane Waldron.

He’s never called plays before. He’s never been in charge of setting up an offense or scheming against an opposing defense. I don’t know what it was, exactly, he did with the Rams, but he wasn’t The Guy. The buck didn’t stop with Shane Waldron. We ASSUME – since he worked under offensive genius Sean McVay – that we’re going to get “The Rams’ offense” with our Seahawks talent executing it. And, we ASSUME – because the Rams’ offense has always been so great for them since McVay was brought over there – that it’s going to translate seamlessly to our team. But, we don’t know if it’s going to work out at all!

There’s a chance the offense is more efficient, and we’re able to connect on the short passing game, which in turn will open up the deep passing game again, which in turn will also open up our rushing attack. But, I would argue there’s an equally-good chance (if not a better chance) that the offense is even less efficient than it was before, and we’re reduced to an embarrassing shambles with a guy who doesn’t know how to call plays or adjust in-game to what defenses are throwing at us.

Frankly, I’m leaning towards the offense being a frustrating mess more often than not. What’s more likely? Some first-time offensive coordinator – who no one’s ever heard of outside of hardcore football circles – comes in and takes the play-calling world by storm? Or, like the 8th coordinator poached from the Rams under Sean McVay goes to another team and sucks like all the rest?

Why is no one talking about this? Why isn’t this a bigger story? Everyone’s just taking for granted that the Seahawks are going to look exactly like the Rams offensively; it makes no sense. We’ve got a quarterback who can’t shit until he holds out for the long bomb – taking umpteen sacks in the process by holding the ball too long; we’ve got a head coach who wants to run the ball more than anyone else in the league; and we’ve got an offensive line that still has to face the front sevens of the rest of the NFC West six times a year (plus playoffs), on top of many other difficult D-Lines around the league. This is a recipe for utter disaster!

Honestly, I really question whether or not Brian Schottenheimer was the main problem last year. You’re telling me he doesn’t have a short or intermediate passing game in his playbook? You’re telling me HE was the reason this team never called screen passes or crossing patterns? Or, is it because the quarterback always wants to throw the home run ball, and he can’t see over all the linemen in his way to hit his receivers 10 yards downfield? Come on, let’s think about this rationally here.

I expect this offense to struggle mightily through the first month or two, until this team goes back to calling the same plays it’s called over the last decade. At which point we MIGHT see marginal improvement, but by that time we’ll have already lost too many games to get the top seed in the NFC, and it’ll be iffy at best if we can even compete for the divisional title.

While we’re on the topic, let’s get to probably the biggest reason why the 2021 Seahawks will be disappointing: the NFC West.

They’re all better. I’m just going to say that right off the bat. The 49ers are healthy again; they figure to have enough talent to contend for a playoff spot (and maybe even the division). The Cardinals were 8-8 last year and their quarterback was playing injured for most of the second half of the season. The Rams won 10 games, beat the Seahawks in Seattle in the first round of the playoffs, and VASTLY upgraded at quarterback with Stafford over Goff. I fully expect the Rams – still stacked at virtually every single position group – to not only win the NFC West, but have the best record in the entire conference. This isn’t just reverse-jinx posturing; I’m staking my fantasy football life on it (going all in on Stafford and the Rams’ defense, earlier than probably most any other non-Rams fan in existence).

It’s almost an impossible ask to expect the Seahawks to win this division in back-to-back seasons! Especially since you can’t really point to any one thing the Seahawks do as definitely exceptional. The Rams have a great offense and the best defensive player alive. The 49ers have a great offensive scheme (if maybe lacking in talent at the quarterback position) and a stacked front seven on defense. The Cardinals have one of the best mobile quarterbacks in the league, who almost always keeps them in ballgames with a chance to win it at the end.

The Seahawks have … a less-mobile Russell Wilson, in a new offense. They have maybe the best receiver in the game in D.K. Metcalf … who was largely neutralized in the second half of last season thanks to countless double teams and defenses (or just Jalen Ramsey) blanketing his side of the field. The only certainty is that the Seahawks have the best Safety Who Gets Sacks in football. Okay. Who was the last team that featured a sacking safety that won the Super Bowl? Go ahead, I’ll wait.

At the same time, though, I can’t say it’s all Doom & Gloom either. Because, as I said up top, this team IS talented, pretty much throughout. There’s enough talent on offense that I fully expect – in 2-minute situations, when Wilson is calling the plays in hurry-up – points will be scored. My argument is: it’s not going to be as seamless as everyone is expecting; it’s going to be a struggle sometimes. The Seahawks aren’t going to lead the league in points; they’re not even going to be in the Top 5. Talent alone will probably keep us in the Top 10, but I don’t think that’s going to be good enough to push us over the hump into the upper stratosphere.

Sure, there’s also talent on defense. I think the starting linebacker unit is solid, the defensive line should be at least on par with what we saw in the second half of 2020, and I have zero issues with the safeties. But, the cornerbacks are an obvious weakness, and there’s still the Ken Norton in the room. He’s a terrible defensive coordinator! He might’ve been okay when there were Hall of Famers throughout this side of the ball, but literally anyone could’ve coordinated those defenses and had a top DVOA unit. This is a group with a lot of young guys in prominent roles, a lot of fringe-starters getting full-time snaps, who desperately need to be coached up, and Ken Norton is completely incapable of doing that outside of the linebacker room. He should be a linebackers coach; that’s where his ceiling is from a coaching perspective. But, he’s in charge of the entire defense, and that’s where this team gets fucked.

The defense hasn’t been the same since Dan Quinn left for Atlanta. I’d feel a lot better about things if we’d brought him back this year, instead of letting Dallas take him in.

So, you know, expect a lot of frustrating defensive series. Expect teams to continue to dink and dunk on us at will, at times, in every single game. Expect a good amount of chunk plays to go against us because our cornerbacks are crappy and our safeties can’t be everywhere at once. Then, expect us to adjust and slow teams down for a while in the second or third quarters of games, before they finally figure out how to move it again midway through the fourth quarter.

In short, expect the Seahawks defense you’ve come to know and loathe since Dan Quinn left. Along with it, expect the usual Cardiac Seahawks games where they’re maddeningly close until the bitter end, with the final possession deciding the game’s outcome. You like one-score games? I hope so, because the Seahawks enjoy nothing more than playing the same fucking Greatest Hits for us every single week.

I haven’t done this in a while, so let’s go game-by-game and see if we can predict wins and losses. This is fun for about 30 seconds, right?

  • @ Indy – Win
  • Tenn – Win
  • @ Minn – Win
  • @ Frisco – Loss
  • Rams – Loss
  • @ Pitt – Loss
  • Saints – Win
  • Jags – Win
  • BYE
  • @ Pack – Loss
  • Zona – Loss
  • @ Wash – Win
  • Frisco – Win
  • @ Hou – Win
  • @ Rams – Loss
  • Bears – Win
  • Lions – Win
  • @ Zona – Win

I have us at 11-6 in this scenario. It might not shake out EXACTLY in this fashion, but I think 5-3 heading into the BYE is probably reasonable. I think 2-4 against the division is probably the difference-maker between us or the 49ers getting the higher wild card seed (I think we probably end up with the same record, but they figure out a way to sweep the Cards and get one over on the Rams).

I’d love nothing more than to be wrong. There’s a small part of me that wants to believe the Seahawks have been on this upward trajectory since 2017 (the last time we missed the playoffs). We were 9-7 that year, and have improved by one win every season since, with us finally winning the division again in 2020. The next step in that progression is to not only win the division, but take the top seed in the NFC again. And, with that – ideally – a spot in the Super Bowl.

But, usually, teams who do that are able to get that one final piece to the puzzle in the lead-up to that season. In 2013, for instance, we went out and got Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril. The Bucs last year got Tom Brady and loaded up on veterans on defense. When was the last team you saw that was THIS flawed that somehow managed to improve? Almost always – when a team is this flawed – there’s negative regression the other way.

Frankly, the Seahawks have been flawed every season since 2017; things can’t keep improving forever.

This feels like a total meltdown waiting to happen. We were already teetering on the brink this offseason with Russell Wilson complaining in the media. I’m half-expecting everything to totally fall apart, with the final nail being a Wilson trade out of here. And knowing our Seattle luck with trading superstars, he will hamstring us with the list of teams we’re allowed to trade him to, resulting in our getting a terrible package of picks and players in return.

Officially, I’m predicting the Seahawks will be 11-6 and the 6th seed in the NFC. But, secretly I wouldn’t be shocked to see us fall to 8-9, miss out on the playoffs, and have all hell break loose.

Earlier this week I called out the Ravens as the team having a Season From Hell. But, don’t be surprised if it’s us. Again, I hope I’m wrong, but I feel it in my gut: the future looks grim.

Nobody Wants To Hear About My Fantasy Team 2021: Snoopy & Prickly Pete

Also, check out the Fantasy Football tag for all my past ramblings on the subject.

Last year ended as horribly as can be in my Main League. I made the 6-team playoffs, but then promptly lost in the first round. That means I missed out on the 4-team consolation bracket – which plays for the top 4 draft picks the following season – and was saddled in the 5/6 game, playing for the 5th/6th draft pick. Of course, I lost that game as well, and here I was, heading into this season drafting 6th out of 10 teams, in a standard (non-snake) draft.

Last year, we were up to 4 keepers, having steadily increased that number over the last few years, with the ultimate goal of turning the league into a Dynasty League. Finally, there was enough discontent that the talk at this year’s rules meeting centered on, “We either need to go full dynasty, or blow it all up and eliminate keepers altogether.”

I don’t mind telling you I was lobbying hard to go with the dynasty league. I’ve been spending the last few years suffering mediocre finishes all in the name of trying to find the best keepers possible to carry over (with the primary goal of finding one or two quality quarterbacks to finally cement that position once and for all). I didn’t want all of that work to go to waste. Thankfully, by the thinnest of margins, we were able to vote in the dynasty.

Our set up is like this: we have to keep all of our starting positions. 2 QBs, 2 RBs, 2 WRs, 1 TE, 1 FLEX, 1 K, 1 DEF. Easy peasy. We’ll get to wait until about a week before our fantasy draft next year before declaring who those keepers will be. Then, at the draft, we’ll select our 5 bench spots out of whoever’s left over, plus any incoming rookies.

This all starts NEXT year, meaning that we’re still only carrying over 4 keepers from last season. But, with our draft – that took place last Thursday – it’s officially on. If you’re not going all-in on the dynasty aspect with regards to who you’re drafting, then that means you like your team an awful lot and are pushing to win the championship within the next 1-2 years.

I didn’t love my keepers heading into our draft, because – SPOILER ALERT – I had no quarterbacks among the four. My keepers were:

  1. A.J. Brown (WR)
  2. CeeDee Lamb (WR)
  3. Ezekiel Elliott (RB)
  4. Clyde Edwards-Helaire (RB)

That’s the ranking of how much I liked them, 1 through 4. I was waffling back and forth on CEH until the bitter end, before I read enough pundits who think he’s due to have a bounce-back year in his second season in the league. I can buy it. He doesn’t appear to have a lot of competition at the spot in Kansas City; even though they throw the ball WAY MORE than they run it, he could sneak in for some more touchdowns and still catch a lot of balls.

I had zero interest in keeping Josh Jacobs. He was supposed to be my horse last year, but he underwhelmed, and then the Raiders brought in Kenyan Drake (the bane of every fantasy owner’s existence wherever he plays, because he’s always stealing carries from someone more promising). I had a lot of fringey receivers I was mulling over (Jerry Jeudy, Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, D.J. Chark, and Rashard Higgins), but all of those guys are players that could easily be had in any fantasy draft.

As for my two quarterbacks, I had Kirk Cousins (who’s a non-starter for me, since he’s not vaccinated – which means there’s a high likelihood he misses games this year – and he’s just overall mediocre), and Tua Tagovailoa. I made a HUGE to-do about picking him up on waivers last year, thinking his Alabama pedigree might translate to NFL success. But, he just looked too shitty as a rookie last year. More often than not, you can see which rookie quarterbacks are going to be studs, and which ones are going to be Marcus Mariota. Tua looks like he’s going to be a left-handed Mariota.

In the end, my final keeper came down to CEH and Tee Higgins. I was THIS close to keeping Higgins, because I freaking love that dude, and I think in that Bengals offense he’s going to be steadily productive for the next decade. But, the Bengals also went out and drafted another elite receiver really high in this year’s draft, plus they still have Tyler Boyd, who’s solid. There ended up being too many cooks in that kitchen, and I was scared off. I still think Higgins will be the best of those three this year, but going forward, it’s iffy.

Plus, let’s face it, there are tons of solid wide receivers all throughout the league. Keeping three of them seemed like overkill. I would’ve been effectively handing over my FLEX spot to Higgins, and if for whatever reason he struggles, then I’ve wasted one of my keeper spots for a fringe fantasy starter.

***

I had a couple plans heading into the draft with my 6th overall pick. Trevor Lawrence would obviously be off the table (he, indeed, went #1 overall). I assumed Najee Harris would also be off the table (he ended up being taken with the third pick, for reasons I’ll get into in a moment). I ranked my top six players, and my third choice would’ve been Falcons tight end Kyle Pitts (who very well might’ve fallen to me, as he was ultimately taken 7th), followed by Matthew Stafford (who did fall to me, though I ended up trading him – SPOILER ALERT AGAIN), and then the Washington and Indy running backs as 5th and 6th (they ended up going 5th and 4th respectively).

I would’ve been elated to have Matthew Stafford, because I think he’s going to have an awesome year with the Rams. Plus, he’s only 33 years old, which means he could have another 7-10 years ahead of him if things break right!

My general plan was to load up on quarterbacks – taking lots of flyers on rookies, after Stafford – and running backs (to try to load up on depth in case of injuries and BYEs). This was always going to be a quasi-throwaway year for me, in hopes that I’d find the two quarterbacks I’d be rolling with for the next 5-10 years.

That was thrown out the window when Hahmez Wah 360 Allstars (don’t ask) texted the entire league saying his keepers were available for trade (in exchange for players and/or draft picks).

He actually had four pretty good keepers (Derrick Henry, D.K. Metcalf, George Kittle, and Stefon Diggs), but for whatever reason, he was looking to shake things up.

I didn’t want Henry because he’s being run into the ground and probably has 1-2 more years MAX before he begins his slide. I didn’t want Kittle because he could be an injury risk with the way he plays the game and how hard he is on his body. D.K. Metcalf is obviously a huge draw for me, as a Seahawks fan, and I think he’s someone who could be the #1 scoring wide receiver as early as THIS year. Plus he’s young and should be good for another decade. Sign me up!

I made Hahmez Wah 360 Allstars a lowball offer (I think a second rounder, or a fourth rounder plus A.J. Brown); he countered saying he needed my first rounder. I took a bit to think about it, before ultimately concluding that D.K. Metcalf with the 6th pick would be guaranteed to be better than anyone who might fall to me (there would’ve been the potential for higher upside with someone like Pitts, but there’s always a risk with any rookie).

I’m lucky I accepted the offer when I did, because by the next day someone had offered him the #2 overall pick for D.K. I told that guy (with the #2 pick) if Trevor Lawrence somehow – by the grace of God – fell out of the top spot, I’d trade him D.K. for Lawrence (which he agreed to, since he already has Russell Wilson and Justin Herbert as his keepers), but of course that was never going to happen.

Hahmez Wah, in the end, turned his aforementioned keepers into Jalen Hurts (#2 overall) & Chris Carson (he traded his #9 overall for the #2 overall, while also giving away Derrick Henry in the deal), Matthew Stafford (in the Metcalf deal), Tyler Lockett (in the Kittle deal, where he got the first pick in the second round), while still hanging onto Stefon Diggs. I wouldn’t love that for my team – if I were him, I would’ve stuck the keepers I had – but I understand the impulse in making a radical change. Also, it IS a game, after all; it’s supposed to be fun, right? What’s more fun than a crazy slew of trades?

***

So, heading into the second round, I had three receivers and two running backs. It was time to start looking into the quarterback position.

No other QB was taken after the three I already mentioned. Next up on my private dynasty rankings was Justin Fields, so I grabbed him with my second pick. No, he’s not starting right away, but the stories I’ve read about him were phenomenal, and I think he has real breakout potential. Trey Lance was going to be my next choice, but he was taken from me two picks before my spot in the third round, so I settled on Mac Jones. Also hearing great stories about him! Less of a running threat, but in a better team situation than Fields, so I like that.

Then, for good measure – because I needed someone to start right away in week one – I nabbed Jameis Winston. He’s been on and off my fantasy team for years, but he had last year off (for the most part) and has been learning the Saints’ system. If he’s even remotely more careful with the ball, he’s a guy who’s capable of throwing for 5,000 yards and 30+ touchdowns. We also forget: he’s also only 27 years old; so if he does change his entire career around, that could be a steal for me.

As chance would have it, Cousins was around for my fifth pick, but I zagged and went with the Rams’ defense. I feel like they have the potential to be solid for the duration of Aaron Donald’s career, so why not? Then, with my sixth pick, Noah Fant was still available. I had him as a rookie and it sounds like the offense is going to be vastly improved in Denver, so I like the idea of having him for the foreseeable future. Also, the drop-off after Fant was pretty considerable (the next guys taken were Goedert and Tonyan; I’m good with my choice).

Then, I finally had to break down and get a third running back. Obviously, my plan to load up on the position was a failure. It was down to Chase Edmonds or Raheem Mostert in the 7th round. Edmonds went one pick earlier, so Mostert it is! I like Mostert; when he’s healthy, he’s dominant (in many ways, he’s like Chris Carson). He just can’t stay healthy. But, if I can squeeze a few weeks out of him, I’ll look to hopefully address the running back position next year.

In the 8th round, I nabbed Justin Tucker. He’s only 31 years old and he’s the best kicker in football. He could be around for another 10-15 years if he takes care of himself. After that, I went back to the quarterback well, grabbing Jimmy G. Obviously, the 49ers drafted their quarterback of the future. But, if you look at the 49ers’ schedule, it’s pretty damn easy the first few weeks of the season. I’ll mix and match with him and Mac Jones for a while until Jimmy G ultimately gets benched, and hope he has enough pride to force the 49ers’ hand in benching a guy playing well. At the very least, he has a soft landing against the Lions in week one, where I expect him to be a Top 10 fantasy quarterback (for just that one week, anyway). Yes, I know there’s potential for Lance to snipe some snaps from him, but I don’t care. As long as he’s not getting entire chunks of plays in the red zone, I’ll be happy.

With my next-to-last pick, I took a chance on Buffalo’s Zack Moss. He was a rookie last year and the team obviously liked him enough to draft him in the third round. Maybe this is the year he assumes the starter job! Of course, even then, it’s not like Buffalo runs the ball all that much. I’m hoping they get such huge leads early in games, that they’ll be running the ball exclusively in the fourth quarter.

Finally, for my super sleeper, I picked Jordan Love, backup quarterback of the Green Bay Packers. I’m going to do my damnedest to hang onto him all year. The way I see it, if none of my rookie QBs pan out this year, and are not keeper-worthy in my eyes, I’ll just keep Love and roll the dice. They obviously drafted him to be Aaron Rodgers’ replacement sooner or later. If I have no one better, why not keep him and see if he’s elite?

***

There’s obviously a lot wrong with my team at this point in my dynasty. The quarterback situation is a mess and my running back depth is nil. But, I have just the three receivers: D.K., Brown, and Lamb, and I think all three of those guys are Top 10 calibre players at the position. I’m set! In non-BYE weeks (and, in non-injury situations), I have my two WR spots and my FLEX spot all locked down. Not having any receivers on my bench affords me the luxury of carrying extra RBs and QBs. If I’m ever able to lock down the quarterback spot to my satisfaction, that leaves me more room on my bench for even more RBs, as well as potential backups to tight end or defense (which always comes in handy).

I think I’m done making RBs a priority. Unless some super-stud rookie falls to me in the first round of the draft next year, I’m just going to do my best to either stream running backs or carry enough in those second-to-fourth tiers to play matchups and hope I get around 10 points from each. If my QBs and receivers can carry me, I think that’s a championship formula. Running backs are just too damn fickle and too injury prone; it’s impossible to rely on them to be 20+ point workhorses anymore. I’d rather go for elite receivers, hope they blow up a few times a year, and just get steady-if-unspectacular production from my RBs. Plus, if I’m able to find someone on the free agent scrap heap that comes from nowhere to crush it, all the better.

***

Now, it’s time to talk about this week. My team is Snoopy & Prickly Pete (Seinfeld reference, for the second straight year!). I’m going up against the reigning league champion, Car Talk With Josh Allen (guess who one of his quarterbacks is). He’s projected to finish third in our league (one game ahead of me), and – not for nothing – he’s projected to beat me in week 1.

Here’s my week 1 lineup, barring any unexpected last-minute COVID issues:

  • Jameis Winston (QB) vs. GB
  • Jimmy Garoppolo (QB) @ DET
  • CeeDee Lamb (WR) @ TB
  • A.J. Brown (WR) vs. AZ
  • Ezekiel Elliott (RB) @ TB
  • Clyde Edwards-Helaire (RB) vs. CLE
  • Noah Fant (TE) @ NYG
  • D.K. Metcalf (WR) @ IND
  • Justin Tucker (K) @ LV
  • L.A. Rams (DEF) vs. CHI

As I said, I love Jimmy G against a nothing Detroit defense; Mac Jones is my only other option and I’d rather not start a rookie in his first game, against a defense as good as Miami’s. As I also said, all my receivers are locked in, which means the only other choice was my #2 running back (though, I don’t love Zeke against that Bucs defense, with their All Pro guard out for this game). I briefly considered Mostert against Detroit, but I’d really like to see what the 49ers’ offense looks like, with their two quarterbacks, plus their new rookie running back angling to steal snaps. I’m rolling with all my keepers, at least for now!

Car Talk looks like he’s got the following:

  • Josh Allen (QB) vs. PIT
  • Ryan Fitzpatrick (QB) vs. LAC
  • Allen Robinson (WR) @ LAR
  • Julio Jones (WR) vs. AZ
  • Aaron Jones (RB) @ NO
  • Joe Mixon (RB) vs. MIN
  • Travis Kelce (TE) vs. CLE
  • Robert Woods (WR) vs. CHI
  • Tyler Bass (K) vs. PIT
  • Baltimore (DEF) @ LV

Our teams are pretty much even (he’s a little better at QB, I’m a little better at WR) except for the difference in our projected points from the tight end position. Kelce is the best in football; mine is just okay. That’s always a huge advantage and I hope I’m able to one day have something similar on my team. In the meantime, I’ll just have to hope the Chiefs run the ball more and throw their TDs to their wide receivers. That’s a tall ask.

I’m guessing I’ll lose this game. I’ll be down in the dumps on Sunday, but a dynasty league isn’t about just one week, or even one season. This is a transitional year, and I hope to be better at the end than I am at the beginning.

In the meantime, PATIENCE! I need to practice extreme patience, and accept losing for what it is: a temporary means to an end, that will one day result in my name on that championship trophy. Maybe not this year, but one year soon. Let’s fucking go.