The Seahawks Extended Michael Dickson

All right, we won’t have to worry about the punter position for a few more years. The Seahawks announced in the last week that they extended Michael Dickson for 4 years, $14.5 million. This is on top of his 2021 season that sees him making over $3 million, so we’re looking at one of the highest-paid punters in the NFL.

By the looks of it, I’m pretty sure Dickson – by total value and dollars per year – is second only to Johnny Hekker of the Rams, which feels about right. At the time of his next deal – assuming he’s still kicking ass and taking names – I would expect Dickson to be #1 overall. This is the price you pay for elite punting. And, as a guy who witnessed some atrocious punting by the Seahawks at times in the 90’s and early 2000’s, I can tell you this isn’t necessarily a place you want to skimp.

The Seahawks play a particular style of football that lends itself to rely on the punter more than, say, the Kansas City Chiefs. On top of this, as the Seahawks’ defense has trended steadily downward since the L.O.B. glory days, punting becomes quietly critical. The more field a mediocre defense gets to defend, the higher the likelihood that we turn touchdowns into field goals and field goals into punts by the other team. So, the more often a punter can help a defense – by booting the ball inside the 20 and 10 yard lines – the better the outcomes the Seahawks will have as a result. It’s all very scientific and analytical, I don’t want to bore you here.

The cool thing about having an elite punter is when the defense isn’t mediocre any longer. If everything happens as it’s supposed to – guys stay healthy, certain guys improve more to their potential, Jamal Adams signs his extension and plays this season – then the difference in yardage an elite punter can squeeze out of the Special Teams is enormous. That’s not just turning touchdowns into field goals and field goals into punts, but more drives into safeties and turnovers. Pinning a team deep in its own end – combined with the advantage of having fans in the stands again – can elicit at least comparisons to the glory days of Seahawks defense. Again, it’s all very technical and complex.

Anyway, I’m a fan. I’m a fan of this deal and I’m a fan of Big Balls Dickson. We got to enjoy Dickson for three years on a rookie deal, and he was set to get a huge raise anyway in 2021 since he made an All Pro in that time. The difference between a rookie deal and what he’s making now is about $3 million per year. In NFL parlance, that’s peanuts. I’m fine paying that figure if it means we get the best punter in the game through the majority of his prime punting years.

Uhh, I think It’s Time For The Seahawks To Extend Michael Dickson, You Guys

With yesterday’s news of Carlos Dunlap being cut as a cap casualty, I thought I’d hop on Spotrac to see what the Seahawks’ salary cap looks like for 2021. While it has yet to be determined what the actual cap will be in the NFL, Spotrac is going off of a $185 million valuation; it’s interesting how that figure keeps going up based on initial worries of it being around $175 million or so. That’s still a drastic reduction from the $198 million it was in 2020, but not such dire straits that we need to be jumping out of tall buildings or anything.

Anyway, if we assume $185 million is the figure, the Dunlap release leaves the Seahawks with around $25 million in money to spend (minus whatever we need to save for draft picks and IR replacement players). Not the worst shape I’ve ever seen. Indeed, the Seahawks are only sitting on a little over a million dollars in dead money, and exactly one million of that is going to B.J. Finney. Again, not too shabby.

We’ve got a little over $89 million going to our top five players (Wilson, Wagner, Lockett, Reed, Brown), and, of course, there’s Jamal Adams’ extension to factor in (which could be a reduction in his nearly $10 million salary, if we rework everything and are able to spread money out over his signing bonus).

Beyond those guys, we’ve got our dwindling NFL Middle Class. Quandre Diggs is making just over $5.5 million, Brandon Shell accounts for over $5 million, Jason Myers is just over $4 million (he was extended through 2022, and as a guy who didn’t miss a field goal last year, is well worth his salary), and the player with the 10th-highest salary on the Seattle Seahawks is … Michael Dickson?!

Now, I know what you might be asking, because they were the first words that popped into my brain when I saw he’s earning $3,456,540 this year: “Wait, isn’t he still on his rookie contract?” And, yeah! You’d be right! He was drafted in the fifth round in 2018; 2021 is the final year of that deal. You’ll recall that Rashaad Penny was a controversial first round pick in 2018, and he’s set to make less money than our late-round punter. What gives?!

Well, Michael Dickson has an All Pro and a Pro Bowl berth under his belt, and has been among the very best punters in all of football in his young career. Per NFL rules, he has earned a “Proven Performance Bonus” which is one of those things I’m sure I was aware of, but never really gave too much thought to until I noticed that our punter is our 10th-highest paid player in a cash-strapped season (at least, as of March 9th; I’m sure that will change in the weeks and months to come).

If you look at this chart, you will see Michael Dickson is currently the second-highest paid punter in the NFL in 2021. Including Dickson, there are 13 punters earning more than a million dollars. Eight of those players are earning between 2 and 3 million, which I think is a figure one would expect to see next to a highly-rated punter in the NFL. And, certainly, with the way the Seahawks play football (largely conservative), the punter here has more impact than it does in a place like Kansas City, for instance, or other teams who tend to score on a high percentage of drives and otherwise go for it on 4th down over punting on a more regular basis.

I guess my point is, I like Michael Dickson, and I want him to be on the Seahawks for a very long time, but I don’t know if I like the idea of us paying upwards of $3.5 million per season for ANY punter. I know, in the grand scheme of things, we’re talking nickels and dimes here; but the Seahawks had among the fewest leftover salary cap dollars in the entire league last year. Every nickel and dime counts! Especially this year, where we’re in a Win Now mode, and trying to fill numerous holes on this team.

This feels like another case where we can extend him now and net a little savings in the short term with a signing bonus, while maybe controling him at a more reasonable figure for the next four years, when presumably the NFL’s salary cap will shoot back up again thanks to the new TV deal and everything else. I mean, it’s Michael Dickson, he’s young and elite; this should be a no-brainer! Assuming he doesn’t suffer some fluke catastrophic injury, he should be good to go for another decade!

I know it’s not the most pressing thing the Seahawks need to do, but sometime over the spring or summer, maybe let’s get this done and take one thing off our plate that we will otherwise have to worry about later.

The Seahawks’ Season Hinges On Beating The Rams This Weekend

This is it: this is the (regular) season. If the Seahawks beat the Rams this weekend, the Seahawks win the NFC West and guarantee themselves at least a Top 3 seed in the playoffs. Otherwise, if the Seahawks lose to the Rams for a second time, there is a VERY strong likelihood that we have to settle for a Wild Card berth and almost certainly a first or second round exit in the playoffs.

Of course, a divisional championship is no guarantee of playoff success either, but a wild card – for this team – IS a guarantee of playoff failure. It is SO hard to win three road playoff games to get to a Super Bowl. To further illustrate, let me walk you through what that probably looks like:

If the Rams win this weekend and next week against the Cardinals in Los Angeles, they’ll almost certainly own the 3-seed. At five losses, that puts us in a dead heat with the Bucs, who I think will also be locked into a wild card spot when it’s all said and done. If we get the 5-seed, that puts us on the road in the first round against Washington. If we win, and the Saints (likely 2-seed) and Rams both prevail, that puts us on the road in the Divisional Round against the Green Bay Packers, who – as the top seed – will have had a first round BYE. Traditionally, teams with first round BYEs win in the Divisional Round approximately 75% of the time. It would be all but a guarantee that we would lose that game. BUT, if by the grace of God we win, that simply means we have to go back on the road again to play either the Rams or the Saints in the NFC Championship Game. I just don’t see it working out for us in any of these scenarios.

Of course, the bad news in all of this is that it’s highly likely we end up playing the Rams for a third time this year, even if we do end up beating them this weekend. A loss for the Rams likely means they fall to the 6-seed, so if we can’t find a way to leap over the Saints (who would need to lose one of their remaining games while we win out), it’s kind of a nightmare scenario either way. BUT, having at least one home playoff game (while avoiding playing the Packers as long as possible) is always better than having to play on the road throughout.

So, how do we do that? How do we beat the Rams this weekend? Well, shit, how did the fucking Jets do it? That seemed to work out okay.

It’s mind-boggling to me that the Jets can go on the road and get their first win of the season last week (with the Rams looking like utter dogshit for most of the game), meanwhile I know for a FACT the Rams are going to come into Seattle this weekend and probably look better than they ever have in the history of their franchise. WHAT THE FUCK?! Jared Goff sucks against MOST of the league, but for some reason he can carve the Seahawks up like we’re a soft turkey-shaped slab of butter.

I fucking hate the fucking Rams, so fucking much.

How do you beat the Rams? I don’t fucking know! Pixie dust? Rubbing a magic lamp and using one of your three genie wishes? Tricking the Rams’ head coach into running over a witch with his car, whose family curses him for all eternity? Is there time enough to do ANY of these things before Sunday?

Otherwise, I don’t know. I get the appeal of looking at how the Seahawks crushed the Jets, then went on the road and took care of business against a stout Washington team, while looking at what the Rams just did and say, “Oh yeah, the Seahawks should have no problem winning this week.” But, I’m here to tell you: one thing has nothing to do with the other. The Rams could’ve lost to a junior varsity high school team last week and I’d still be convinced they will come up to Seattle and thrash.

Russell Wilson has been garbage for half a season now. That’s just for starters. The defense has shown plenty of signs of life – especially since we traded for Carlos Dunlap – but look at who we’ve played in that stretch: the Rams (who we held to 23 points, but their offense has been far from elite with Goff at the helm, and they still won by 7 points), the Cards on Thursday night (with Kyler Murray working on an injured shoulder), then the Eagles, Giants, Jets, and Football Team. Not really a murderer’s row of offensive talent. We have looked better regardless, but that’s only compared to the first half of the season, when it was literally impossible to look any worse. And, moreover, the Seahawks’ coaching has been atrocious of late! From the gameplan in the Giants’ game, to the lack of in-game adjustments in general, to the baffling conservative choices on fourth down, to the lapses on defense in the second halves of the Giants and Football Team games. It’s been a total team effort to look this mediocre (except for Michael Dickson and Jason Myers, who have been killing it this season and were BEYOND deserving of making the Pro Bowl; no notes, you guys!).

So, again, I dunno. How do you beat the Rams? Play fucking better! That’s my recommendation. That’s my analysis for this game. If the Seahawks can just play better in all phases, they should win. Otherwise, strap in for another wild card disaster.

And, yeah, I know there’s a world where the Seahawks lose this weekend, then beat the 49ers in Week 17 while the Rams lose to the Cardinals, but is that really how you want to back into a divisional championship? Wouldn’t it be better to ride this regular season momentum and build up some confidence ahead of the playoffs? I think so.

The Seahawks Beat The Viking, Are Taking Years Off Of My Life

The fucking rain.

It’s like we’re the Wicked Witch of the West whenever a few droplets hit our jerseys! There was about a 2-minute period in the third quarter of this game where the rain stopped, and I honestly don’t think it’s a coincidence that those are the two minutes where the Seahawks exploded for 21 unanswered points!

There’s so much to discuss about this game.

Here are the broad strokes: the Seahawks won 27-26. The Seahawks converted exactly 0 of 7 third down opportunities. The Seahawks held the ball for just under 21 minutes of game time. The Seahawks allowed the Vikings to rush for 201 yards. The Seahawks allowed the Vikings to run 83 plays and convert 31 first downs. EVERYTHING about this game screamed not only a Vikings victory, but a Vikings BLOWOUT victory! And yet, somehow, here we are, with a 5-0 record heading into our BYE week (the first of multiple, maybe, depending on how these COVID outbreaks keep shaking out).

I can’t begin to tell you how bad the Seahawks looked in the first half. The Vikings jumped right out to a 7-0 lead on the first drive of the game and it wasn’t even all that difficult. This looked to be a modified version of our performance against the Dolphins last week – where we kept plays in front of us and forced them to dink and dunk down the field – but the difference was the fact that Dalvin Cook is maybe the best running back in all of football, and Kirk Cousins finds a way to elevate his game when he goes up against the Seahawks (not every time, but sometimes).

Ultimately, we did slow the bleeding – even forcing the Vikings to punt once in the first half – and it felt lucky that we were only down 13-0 at the break. It was pretty appalling how badly the offense was sputtering. There were breakdowns along the offensive line, there were bad throws by Wilson, and guys weren’t able to get open. But, more than anything, I think the Vikings out-schemed us. They took away anything and everything deep, and for at least a half we fed right into that. It seemed like we were looking to chuck it 40 yards on every passing play, but with nothing open, that meant Wilson was stuck back there getting clobbered by a fairly feisty pass rush.

We’ve seen these games before from the Seahawks. This felt like the most “normal” game for us in this brand new Let Russ Cook era: fall into a deep first half hole, spend the second half clawing our way back into contention. The main difference here is: the Let Russ Cook Seahawks are able to come back almost immediately! A 13-0 deficit morphed into a 21-13 lead less than halfway into the third quarter! Not only did it look like the score we expected all along, but it looked like we were going to run away with it!

It honestly seemed like the Vikings got away from their gameplan on offense – which was: pound the rock – and put the ball in Kirk Cousins’ hands. So, the fumble and BAFFLING interception on back-to-back drives certainly gave us all the confidence we needed in watching our Seahawks come back. He settled down, of course, and ultimately put the Vikings into a position to steal one. But, he’s not Russell Wilson!

In that two-minute stretch, Dalvin Cook looked like he pulled a groin, went to the locker room, and returned for one play only to sit out the remainder of the game. It didn’t matter, as his backup – Alexander Mattison – was running like a total beast. This was not the Seahawks rush defense I signed up for, nor the one I promised last week! There were glimpses of dominance – especially from Jarran Reed, who was all over the place in the interior line – but instead of giving up on it, the Vikings doubled down. The Seahawks linebackers not named K.J. Wright had a pretty awful game. They would come up big late in the fourth quarter, but Cody Barton especially looked overmatched, and reminded us why this team drafted Jordyn Brooks in the first round (hopefully he’ll return to action after the BYE week).

As soon as we took that 21-13 lead, the offense went right back into hibernation mode. 21-13 became 21-19, which then became 26-21 Vikings halfway through the fourth quarter. More long, clock-churning drives. And THEN, one of the worst interceptions I’d ever seen from Russell Wilson!

That gave the Vikings the ball back at midfield, with just under six minutes in the game. They drove it all the way (eventually) inside the Seahawks 10 yard line at the two minute warning, for the play of the game. 4th down & 1 at the Seattle 6 yard line. Kick a field goal, and the Vikings would lead by 8 points, necessitating the Seahawks to drive approximately 75 yards for a touchdown (and a two-point conversion) in just under two minutes with only 1 time out. OR, go for it and seal the victory by getting a single yard. For a team that averaged 4.9 yards per carry on the day, it seemed like a no-brainer. As a Seahawks fan, I was dreading them going for it, which should tell you all you need to know about their decision being a smart one. The fact that my aggressive ways agree with what the math tells you is just a bonus; every once in a while I find myself on the right side of history, and I agree, it feels weird. Of course, with the Vikings ultimately NOT converting 4th & 1, and losing the game, in retrospect makes the choice to kick a field goal there more enticing. But, I’d like to think I wouldn’t be furious with my team if I were a Vikings fan right now.

I’d LIKE to think that, but, you know me …

The Seahawks still needed to score a touchdown to win it, and that was no sure thing! Not with the way we’d been trying to move the ball for all but two minutes of the game! Indeed, we were on our own 23 yard line, 4th & 10, with the game on the line and I was convinced it was over. I just couldn’t believe how badly Wilson was missing the mark on some of his patented deep throws! It seems impossible for him to over-shoot these guys when he puts so much arc on them, but there were a number of opportunities that shot well over the intended mark (I don’t know HOW you over-throw D.K. Metcalf, but he found away!). Anyway, thank Christ for Metcalf, who caught a lob ball down the left sideline to convert that 4th down; just a beauty of a 39-yard play! From there, the game-winning TD felt inevitable, and my main concern was not scoring TOO fast, to leave the Vikings time to go down and kick a field goal!

And yet, there we were, 4th & Goal at the 6-yard line with 20 seconds left. I guess that’s the third “Play of the Game” in this one? Once again, who does Wilson go to but D.K. Metcalf coming across the middle of the endzone?! With 15 seconds to go in the game, the Vikings converted one short pass and fumbled on the final play of the game to end it.

Not the best game in the world for Wilson – 217 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT – but his rating was still over 100. The rushing attack probably could’ve been leaned on more as Wilson, Carson, and Homer combined for 124 yards on only 16 carries (for a 7.8 average). D.K. was obviously the receiving star, with 6 catches for 93 yards and 2 touchdowns.

Defensively, K.J. Wright was phenomenal (including a 1-handed interception after dropping so many last week!). Shaquill Griffin had a strong coverage game. Ryan Neal continues to make plays at safety in lieu of Jamal Adams. Jarran Reed came up huge a number of times. Benson Mayowa looked good (the line combined for 3 sacks, which isn’t terrible). And, honestly, the best performance on either team might’ve come from our punter, Michael Dickson, who dropped 4 of 5 punts inside the 20 yard line, including two that landed inside the 2-yard line! The fact that our defense couldn’t make them pay for such poor field position is quite concerning.

The BYE week – as I’ve been saying for a while now – couldn’t come at a better time for this team. We’ve had a ton of guys show up on the injury report in recent weeks; most of them should be healthy as we head into our Week 7 matchup down in Arizona. More importantly, I hope to see some of the defensive issues cleaned up in these next two weeks, before we take on a potent-looking Cardinals offense.

For now, we get to take a deep breath and relax. The rest of the NFL is a COVID nightmare, but we’re 5-0 and alone in first place in the NFC (for the time being). Part of me knows it might not get any better than this, but I’m a romantic at heart, and I want so desperately to believe the best is yet to come! I think the Seahawks have what it takes.

But, just in case, let’s build a giant bubble to put over them so that nasty ol’ rain doesn’t interfere!

Every Time The Seahawks Play The Patriots, It’s The Best Game Of The Year; Last Night Was No Exception

That game was so good, I don’t even know where to start, so let’s just run through everything in order of appearance, because there’s too much to discuss to have any other format for this post.

Is Greg Olsen The Most Washed-Up 35 Year Old Tight End Inexplicably Earning $7 million On A Team With No Pass Rush?

Boy did he have a bad game in this one. How do you feel about 0 catches on 1 target? Furthermore, how do you feel about that lone target coming on the first drive of the game, being a perfect throw that bounced off of his hands and into the open arms of Devin McCourty for a Pick-Six? I kept waiting for Olsen’s redemption moment that, unfortunately, never came (unless it was some impactful block that I missed because who pays attention to THAT stuff?). I get the feeling that we’re destined for a super-mediocre season out of Olsen where the saving grace is that he catches 7 touchdowns, or one for every million dollars he’s earning. Nope, couldn’t have put that money to better use on the defensive line; NO SIR!

Seahawks Rushing Attack Quietly Good

It’s hard to say if Russell Wilson “cooked” in this one; the numbers were split pretty evenly: 28 passing attempts, 30 rushes (to be fair, those five Wilson runs were scrambles that would’ve been passing attempts had things looked differently on those plays). I mean, if you want to point to the ideal Pete Carroll type of offensive game, you’re looking at it. He doesn’t care where the touchdowns come from (all five were Wilson throws, which is pretty fancy cooking any way you sauté it), he just wants the running backs at least AS involved in moving the football as the quarterback. As a team, the Seahawks ran for 154 yards (a robust 5.1 yards per carry), with Carson leading the way (as it should be), 17 for 72. Don’t discount the effectiveness of Wilson’s 5 carries for 39 yards; he’s not just saving these attempts for the fourth quarter like in seasons past. He’s busting them out early enough to force defenses to account for him on potential zone-read plays later on (Travis Homer was the recipient of a few quality runs in this mold, ending up with 3 carries for 21 yards). Since the Patriots’ run defense isn’t that great, it was nevertheless good to see that the offense didn’t forcefeed us an All Wilson All The Time type of game.

Tyler Lockett Is There Whenever You Need Him

On any other team, or if Lockett were like a traditional wide receiver diva, he would command 15 targets per game and be among the league leaders in catches, yards, and touchdowns. He’s THAT good! He’s ALWAYS open, even when he’s got guys draped all over him! In this one, he ended up with a sensible 7 catches (on 8 targets) for 67 yards and a touchdown (in the drive immediately following the Pick Six, to tie the game at 7-7), but it seemed like all of his catches were big (either to convert a first down, or to get us out of a huge hole after a holding penalty or a sack or something). One of the ways the Seahawks have been very effective so far this year has been in how the offense has dug itself out of holes. Even though holding penalties are down leaguewide, the Seahawks are still right up there among the worst offenders as an offensive line. But, for the most part (not every time, obviously; this offense isn’t perfect in spite of Russell Wilson signing a pact with the devil) it’s not an automatic punt whenever we find ourselves in 1st & 20, or 2nd & 15. Tyler Lockett has a lot to do with this. Most teams would take more advantage and throw it to him too much; but Wilson knows it’s best to save those moments for when they matter most, because Lockett will always be there to pull this team out of the fire.

Quandre Diggs (tsk tsk tsk)

Yesterday was as bad a day across the NFL when it comes to injuries that I’ve ever seen. Not just the number of guys who went down, but the number of high-impact players who were out for the rest of their respective games, who will end up missing a number of weeks, and/or who will be out for the remainder of the season! I’ll discuss more of that in my fantasy column later in the week, but it was rough. As it turns out, you can’t go from 0 to 60 at the drop of a hat – with no pre-season ramp-up – and not expect to see this as a reality! You may ask, “Why didn’t we see all of this in the first week?” Well, my thoughts are that everyone got beat up pretty good, and since no one was in real game shape, everyone needed more than the 6-7 days they were given for their bodies to recover. Since everyone was heading into yesterday without sufficient recovery time, all their bodies were more susceptible to the types of injuries we were seeing. You can dismiss the pre-season all you want, but going from playing a quarter, to a half, to into the third quarter, and then scaling it back to almost-nothing in the fourth game sure seems to be a better way to ramp up everyone’s bodies for the pounding they take on a weekly basis than what we had this season.

Anyway, what does that have to do with Quandre Diggs? On the Patriots’ first offensive drive of the game, he was ejected for a helmet-to-helmet hit on a defenseless receiver (on a 4th down play, that ultimately put New England in a position to go up 14-7). No one was injured on the play, though it was a good call by the league. Seahawks fans were complaining on Twitter, asking what Diggs was supposed to do with it being such a bang-bang play; well, he’s not supposed to lazily ram into a guy while fully erect, with his helmet smashing into the other guy’s helmet! If Diggs was using proper technique, he would’ve bent his body at the waist, gotten his head out of the way, and led with one of his shoulders … you know, like we’ve been preaching around here for the better part of the last decade! This is simple, people; Diggs had plenty of time to put his body into proper position. He was just lazy on that play, didn’t feel like bending down, and he was properly ejected as a result.

How this gets back to injuries is that, of course, Marquise Blair – our Big Nickel defensive back extraordinaire last week – went in to replace Diggs at safety after that (flip-flopping with Lano Hill whenever we were in a Nickel Defense), and also of course, ended up with a serious knee injury. It will either cost him a few weeks or the rest of the season, which is just a crusher. I still have faith in this secondary to lead the way; we have lots of guys behind Blair who will step up and be good. But, Blair sure looked like he was turning into something really special. It’s only his second season in the league, so there’s time for him to bounce back and become great. But, it’s a shame when someone this early in his development has a setback this potentially-significant.

Newsflash: Cam Newton Is A Great Rusher

His numbers weren’t quite as sparkling as his 15 rushes for 75 yards against the Dolphins last week, but 11 rushes for 47 yards is nothing to sneeze at. He tacked on two goalline touchdowns in that total and looked ALMOST unstoppable (foreshadowing, you know you want it). I was really impressed with the variety of different rushes the Pats used at the goalline; they will be tough to defend down there. Don’t let them get inside of the 10 yard line if you have hopes of holding them to field goals! It won’t work out most of the time.

Great Punting Tho

With the Seahawks down 14-7 and driving, I was legitimately starting to worry about our ability to stop New England’s offense. Had we fallen too far behind, it would’ve been super tough to come back with Cam pulling plays out of his ass all night. That’s why I was so discouraged we took a minor sack on third down at the New England 42 yard line. 4th & 5 isn’t all that different from the fourth down we converted last week (with the bomb to D.K.). The way we were otherwise moving the ball at will, that seemed like a pretty easy one to convert. I’m not saying the ends justify the means, but we did win the game, so I won’t complain too much. But, had we lost, this is a moment I would’ve pointed to as one of the reasons why.

Nevertheless, we had a GREAT game from Michael Dickson! No one cares about punting, of course, but he showed why he was an All Pro as a rookie two years ago. He averaged an even 50 yards per punt (with a long of 63), and all four of them ended up inside the 20 yard line (including one that died inside the two yard line all by itself, like he’d chipped it with a pitching wedge or something). That is an impact that doesn’t show up directly on the scoreboard, but it nevertheless affects the game in countless hidden ways.

Seahawks Run Defense Also Quietly Good

I know I was up there praising Cam Newton a minute ago, but this is a true statement! The Patriots as a team ran the ball 25 times for 67 yards (2.7 yards per), and the non-Cam runners were a terrible 14 carries for 20 yards (1.4 yards per). That was legitimately shocking to me. I thought for sure the Pats would Ground & Pound it up our bums, but clearly the emphasis for this defense was to stop the run at all costs (which, as it turned out, meant giving up a lot of passing yardage, as we’ll get to later).

D.K. Is Living In The Future, So The Present Is His Past

His presence is a present, kiss my ass! Stephon Gilmore was the Defensive Player of the Year in 2019. I don’t know if he’s the best cornerback in football, but he’s up there. There were rumblings coming into this one that he would lock onto D.K. Metcalf and shut him down (while the rest of the Pats’ defense did whatever it could to stop everyone else). I never expected Russell Wilson to back down and avoid Metcalf entirely, but it wouldn’t have shocked me if we saw a quiet game out of him nevertheless.

Instead, his game was so loud it damn near made up for there being no fans in attendance!

He had four catches for a team-high 92 yards, including a 54-yard bomb that he caught over Gilmore (who was all over him, and indeed had an arm in Metcalf’s bread basket as he caught it), who was swatted away like a gnat en route to the endzone. It was incredible! Gilmore was indeed on Metcalf most of the game, which ultimately led to a near-brawl on the Seahawks sideline as Metcalf manhandled Gilmore on a block, who took offense to being dismissed accordingly. I didn’t see much between the two after that; Gilmore sat out for a play, and I think it was more of a Defend-Metcalf-By-Committee situation after that. Get used to reading about that, because every week Metcalf is inching closer to being the best in the game.

Why Not Some Words On The Kicking Game?

That D.K. touchdown tied it at 14-14, but New England marched right down the field again. Our defense stopped them at the Seattle 33 yard line, which resulted in the Pats missing a 51-yard field goal. In a game they lost by five points – which (spoiler alert!) ended with them at the goalline – that’s a pretty significant miss.

As I believe there was last year, there’s an early-season epidemic in the kicking game leaguewide. I don’t have the numbers, but they’re out there; it’s being discussed by people with more patience than me. Anyway, Jason Myers was a perfect 5/5 on extra points in this one, and considering how those are no longer automatic, it’s nice to see our guy isn’t making our lives miserable.

A Quiet End Of Half

After all that had happened to this point, it was crazy the Seahawks were in a position to take the lead heading into halftime. Following the missed field goal, we had excellent field position. But, we couldn’t get out of our own way in spite of numerous opportunities. Greg Olsen had a false start to add to his negative ledger. Wilson threw an insane forward pass when he was a good five yards beyond the line of scrimmage (and penalized accordingly). Then, we somehow got bailed out on 3rd & 19 with a defensive holding penalty. With a first down at midfield, hopes were restored, but another penalty and a sack pretty much torpedoed that drive; the only good thing we did was chew up all the clock (and punt it inside the two yard line), so the Pats had no chance to do anything.

Jamal Adams Showed Up!

I read somewhere that all of Adams’ stats happened in the second half of this game. 10 tackles (one for loss), a sack, and two hits on the quarterback. It wasn’t all DPOY roses and sunshine, though, as he gave up a number of big gains through the air (presumably playing more free safety than we would’ve liked, with Diggs ejected). His sack was huge, as he dove at Cam’s ankles to trip him up; if he’d missed, Cam definitely would’ve converted it for a first down. There were, however, at least a couple times where he had Cam dead to rights in the backfield, but Cam eluded him, which was frustrating as all get-out. Mixed bag sort of day, but this team doesn’t win this game without Jamal Adams.

More David Moore!

David Moore had a pretty underwhelming 2019, which had a lot of fans down on his prospects going forward. He seemed like Just A Guy, made more infuriating by how often Wilson tried to force it to him last year. Well, in this game, Moore showed why this team is so high on him! He ended up with 3 catches for 48 yards, but one of them went for an insane touchdown (that had a less-than 7% probability of being completed, per some weird stat I don’t understand) at the front-left corner of the endzone, to give the Seahawks a 21-17 lead early in the second half. How he managed to keep both feet in bounds while coming down with the football, I have no idea, but it was truly miraculous!

Quinton Dunbar, Hello!

Through the first half of this game, you would’ve been justified in wondering whether or not Dunbar is actually a good football player. As it stands, we might have to question whether or not he’s a good fit for this team, but I’m going to give it a few more weeks before I make any definitive statements. Anyway, he very nearly had a pick-six of his own earlier in this one, before finally succeeding in jumping an out route and picking off Cam Newton following the David Moore touchdown. It was a welcome sight! It’s been a few years since the Seahawks have had a cornerback who’s capable of generating interceptions; now, if only Dunbar can stop getting faked out on comebackers.

A Freddie Swain Sighting In The Wild

If you never expected rookie wide receiver Freddie Swain to make any sort of impact this year, don’t worry, I was right there with you! I didn’t even think he’d make the team! If anything, I thought this was a year for John Ursua to assert himself, but he seems to be on his way out of the organization (currently on the Practice Squad). Swain, however, might be a legitimate baller. He only had 1 reception for 21 yards, but he made the most of it, catching a crosser and taking it to the house for a 28-17 lead late in the third. He looked fast and crisp in his route running, everything we need out of a #4 receiver right now!

Let Cam Cook!

Cam Newton was great all game, but he really came alive in the fourth quarter. He finished with 397 yards passing and 1 TD (to go along with his rushing yards and two rushing TDs). So, taken with Atlanta’s crazy passing day last week, the Seahawks’ secondary has given up approximately 900,000 passing yards in two games, which is, you know …

It’s hard to blame the secondary too much, because he was really zipping those balls into some tight windows! For the most part, our defensive backs were in good spots to make plays, but Cam was pretty perfect.

Of course, he had all damn day to throw the ball! Oh my God, was the pass rush ever atrocious in this one! When we blitzed, it was either picked up, or Cam was able to side-step a guy and run for a first down; when we rushed four, they did nothing; when we rushed three, Cam was able to give his nails a manicure, read a magazine, wait for his hair to dry, and gab with the gals about all sorts of juicy gossip while his receivers took their sweet time getting open. It was unbelievable! I’ve never in my life seen a Seahawks pass rush this inept; it’s incredibly infuriating!

Anyway, New England took almost no time at all to make it 28-23; the only thing our defense did right on that drive was stop the 2-point conversion. The touchdown itself, though, was mighty nifty. See, every other time the Patriots got down close to the goalline, Cam lined up in shotgun, took the snap, held the ball for a second or two until a lane opened up, and ran right through it for a score. Well, this time, he did the same thing, but faked a run and threw to some fullback I’d never heard of for the score. If that continues to happen, New England will be truly unstoppable down around the endzone.

More Wilson Magic

The teams improbably traded punts on the subsequent two possessions – more due to questionable play-calling for both teams than anything the defenses managed to do – but with nine minutes left in the game, you knew the Seahawks needed to add more points. Thankfully, we have Russell Wilson (and you don’t).

The Seahawks methodically marched down the field, and on 2nd & 5 from the New England 18, he dropped a beautiful pass into Chris Carson’s arms for a 35-23 lead, with four and a half minutes to go that felt pretty insurmountable.

Superman

But, again, Cam Newton is Superman. In just over two minutes, he took New England 75 yards and, once again, plunged over the goalline to make the game 35-30. There were thoughts that the Pats might onside kick it after that; given what the Seahawks’ offense was able to do all night, I wouldn’t have been surprised. But, they had all of their time outs, so it made sense to kick it deep.

There was some iffy decisionmaking on the ensuing Seahawks possession. For starters, Chris Carson took a handoff and looked like he had a bead on a 10-yard gain. But, his momentum was about to take him out of bounds and he slid instead, to keep the clock moving. The only problem with that was: you always take the first down. Besides that, we snapped it with 2:09 left in the game; the two-minute warning was coming regardless. While I like the thought, it was just a little misguided and almost cost us.

On 2nd & 4, we handed off to Carson again, who tried to find a hole, but could only muster three yards. I didn’t LOVE the play call there; I would’ve preferred to give Wilson two cracks at throwing for a first down. But, I get it. You force New England to use a time out there, and you make it 3rd & 1, which SHOULD be easily converted every time.

The fanbase might’ve stormed CenturyLink Field and revolted had we handed off to Carson there and he was stuffed, so I was happy to see Wilson with the ball in his hands. I was MORTIFIED, however, to see Wilson chuck it deep, overthrowing Lockett by a few yards (it looked like he was moderately interfered with, but no ref worth his salt was ever going to flag that play). I don’t know what Wilson was thinking, because he had Carson wide open on a check down; he also could’ve simply run it a couple yards and kept the clock moving. Instead, it saved the Pats a time out and probably set-back the Let Russ Cook movement; any time he fails, I keep thinking the coaching staff is going to revert, so let’s not fail again for a while!

Kryptonite

New England started on their own 19 yard line after the Seahawks punt, with just under two minutes in the game and two time outs remaining. In less than a minute, the Pats were on Seattle’s side of the 50. We were able to keep most plays in front of us, and tackled guys in bounds to keep the clock moving. But, with 36 seconds remaining, Cam hit Julian Edelman for 18 yards down to the Seattle 13.

Bafflingly, New England didn’t use its last time out, so the clock ticked down to 12 seconds following an incompletion. Cam then hit a pass down to the 1 yard line with three seconds remaining, forcing New England to use their final time out. They had one play to win it! Everyone on the planet knew it was going to be a Cam Newton run; their goalline offense had been perfect to that point in the game (and probably the season, though I didn’t watch their game against Miami last week).

True to form, Cam took the ball and looked for a hole to his left. But, L.J. Collier had the play of the game, blowing it up and getting to Cam’s legs. Between him and Lano Hill on the outside, undercutting the blocking running back to force Cam inside, they really saved the day, as Cam took a 1-yard loss on the play. Game over, Seahawks win 35-30.

That’s, not for nothing, the third time in the last three matchups against the Patriots that the game has come down to a final goalline stand (with the defense prevailing every time, including Super Bowl XLIX). These games are always so ridiculously fun. No one, really, in all of football (except maybe Andy Reid) has ever been able to play chess with Bill Belichick like Pete Carroll. They are so different in their coaching styles, but so damn similar in their preparation and ability to match up with one another during games. We were never going to have Belichick as our head coach; he doesn’t strike me as a West Coast type of guy. But, it’s nice to have the next-best thing. Pete Carroll often gets overlooked around these parts – mostly by fans who grow weary of watching a conservative offense – but it’s really been an honor to have a coach like him, who sets the tone for the entire organization. There’s a reason why this team has been so good for the last decade, and while Russell Wilson deserves a lot of credit, Pete Carroll is ultimately why we’ve had so much fun watching this team over the years.

The Seahawks Have A Roster & It’s Not Too Terribly Surprising

I should also point out that, obviously, this isn’t set in stone. This is just the 53-man roster as it stands at this moment; it very well could change anytime this week, or after the first game, or at any other point in the season. So, let’s hop to it, we’re burning daylight!

Quarterbacks

  • Russell Wilson
  • Geno Smith

Yawn. This was never in any doubt. Especially in a season like this, you want a veteran backup over a rookie. The biggest surprise is that the Seahawks opted to go with Danny Etling over Anthony Gordon on the practice squad, but we’ll see how long that lasts.

Obviously, you have to be happy with what the Seahawks have done here. Russell Wilson is one of the top two quarterbacks in all of football. And Geno Smith … is fine. If Wilson was ever seriously injured I would not want to live in this world any longer our chances at a championship would go down the tubes, but if we needed a spot start out of a guy for a week or two, you could do a lot worse than a game manager like Geno.

Running Backs

  • Chris Carson
  • Carlos Hyde
  • Travis Homer
  • DeeJay Dallas

Contain your glee, because while fullback Nick Bellore isn’t on this list, I wouldn’t expect that to last long. Just try to prevent the Seahawks from keeping a stupid fullback on their roster, I dare you! Bellore will be back. We just have to do that thing where we re-sign someone after the first week of the season, so their full year’s contract is no longer guaranteed (meaning they’re essentially week-to-week players who can be cut at any time with no financial consequence to the organization). It’s kind of a shitty thing to do to someone, but it’s not like fullback is a high-demand position in the NFL anymore.

If the hype around Dallas is as legitimate as it sounds like, we could be talking about the best running back room in the entire NFL. Chris Carson has Top Ten running back talent when he’s healthy. Carlos Hyde could start for any number of teams right now. Travis Homer proved his worth quite well as a late-round draft pick last year. Plus, on top of this embarrassment of riches, we still have Rashaad Penny coming back from the PUP list after six weeks (another guy who, when healthy, has proven to be quite good).

Wide Receivers

  • Tyler Lockett
  • D.K. Metcalf
  • Phillip Dorsett
  • David Moore
  • John Ursua
  • Freddie Swain

One of the bigger surprises that probably shouldn’t have been once you heard Pete Carroll talk about him: Paul Richardson was cut. It was a fine idea, but considering we didn’t immediately jump on him as soon as he was waived by his previous team, you could sorta tell that we weren’t feeling it. He was an insurance policy until someone better came along. As our home-grown guys started getting healthy again, P-Rich was no longer needed. I wonder if he’s lost a step? It’ll be interesting to see if he gets another chance somewhere else, or if this is the end of the road. Obviously, whenever Josh Gordon is reinstated, he’ll take the spot of one of these guys (probably Swain). Also of note: the team renegotiated Moore’s contract over the weekend to lock him in place. He’s earning less than the just-over-$2 million he would’ve gotten on his tender, but it’s guaranteed, and it guarantees his spot on this roster now.

I know this group doesn’t look like much, especially from a national perspective. But, Tyler Lockett is legit, and will likely be criminally underrated his entire career. Metcalf looks poised to be the next Julio Jones. Dorsett, when healthy, should fit in quite nicely with what this team likes to do with its deep passing. When Josh Gordon comes back, that’s another elite-level receiver in our arsenal. David Moore, by all accounts, has looked like a true professional in camp this summer. And, I still have high hopes for John Ursua being a slot receiver for this team (so, watch the Seahawks cut him as soon as Gordon is reinstated). I know nothing about Swain, except he’s a rookie and I think he can also return kicks, which gives him an obvious edge over Ursua, who does nothing on Special Teams.

Tight Ends

  • Greg Olsen
  • Will Dissly
  • Luke Willson
  • Jacob Hollister

Both Stephen Sullivan and Tyler Mabry are on the Practice Squad right now, and Colby Parkinson is on the Non-Football Injury List, so we’ve got all of our guys! Luke Willson making the team is a wee bit of a shocker, but I think he can do double-duty as this team’s fullback for the time being, so I kinda hope that just makes him our full-time fullback going forward. A guy can dream, can’t he?

Like our running backs, I think this could be the best group of tight ends – from top to bottom – in the league. Olsen is on his last legs, but he was still highly productive last year. Dissly is a superstar waiting to not get severely injured every year happen. Willson is a true every-man who is a joy to have on the team and can do a little bit of everything. And Hollister is more like a wide receiver in a tight end’s body.

Offensive Line

  • Duane Brown
  • Mike Iupati
  • Ethan Pocic
  • Damien Lewis
  • Brandon Shell
  • Cedric Ogbuehi
  • Phil Haynes
  • B.J. Finney
  • Jordan Simmons
  • Jamarco Jones

The only semi-surprise is the fact that we kept ten offensive linemen, but considering how hard the Seahawks went after this position group in free agency, it makes sense.

I’ll admit, I’m a little nervous here. I think this group will gel at some point; I just hope it isn’t too horrific in the early going. I’m glad we’ve got Brown and Iupati locking down the left side. I find it endlessly fascinating that Pocic was able to beat out Finney for the starting center job (even though we gave Finney all of that guaranteed money over the next two seasons). And, I’m encouraged that Lewis and Shell were able to step right in here and win their jobs immediately. If nothing else, I really do love the depth at this spot; they won’t be the best in the league, but they should be far from the worst.

Defensive Line

  • Rasheem Green
  • Jarran Reed
  • Poona Ford
  • L.J. Collier
  • Bryan Mone
  • Benson Mayowa
  • Alton Robinson
  • Damontre Moore

The only surprise here is that the Seahawks have yet to make a surprise last-minute free agent signing! Even for a run-stuffing tackle, if not another pass rusher! Unless you count Damontre Moore, which I do not, because I don’t even know who that guy is, other than he’s one of an endless string of ex-Seahawks we like to keep around to pad out the back-end of our roster. In non-Seahawks news, Jadeveon Clowney finally made up his mind; he’s on the Tennessee Titans (1 year, $12 million, worth up to $15 million with incentives … or what the Seahawks previously offered to him months ago to re-sign here). It’s a bit of a bummer; apparently the Seahawks were still in the picture up to the moment of signing, but not in the top two or three. I’m just glad he didn’t sign with New Orleans; keep him out of our conference and out of our hair, thank you very much!

Look, I’ll just say this: I hope the Seahawks know what they’re doing. They seem to be pretty satisfied with what they’ve done here, and are not freaking out like the rest of the fanbase. That’s a good sign, but by the same token, it’s still interesting that we continued to push to sign Clowney even after he turned down our earlier offer. I’m an “I’ll Believe It When I See It” kind of guy, so …

Linebackers

  • Bobby Wagner
  • K.J. Wright
  • Bruce Irvin
  • Cody Barton
  • Ben Burr-Kirven
  • Jordyn Brooks
  • D’Andre Walker

The bummer of the weekend was seeing that Shaquem Griffin didn’t make the cut. He is on the Practice Squad though, so all hope is not lost! I would expect him to play again this year – once someone goes down with an injury – and to make a solid contribution to the team. D’Andre Walker was the only guy the Seahawks picked up from another team after cut-downs on Saturday. He was drafted by the Titans in the fifth round last year and has yet to play in the pros; he did get a good number of sacks in college though, so maybe he’s a little diamond in the rough project for us?

We’re in good hands with this group. Wagner and Wright are still top shelf. Brooks looks like he’s ready to start immediately. Irvin is still looking to prove himself. Barton, by all accounts, has looked tremendous in his second year. And BBK still figures to be a stalwart on Special Teams.

Secondary

  • Jamal Adams
  • Quandre Diggs
  • Marquise Blair
  • Lano Hill
  • Shaquill Griffin
  • Quinton Dunbar
  • Tre Flowers
  • Neiko Thorpe
  • Ugo Amadi

Linden Stephens was the guy we cut when we claimed D’Andre Walker; what a rollercoaster for Stephens! He thought he made the team – at a pretty deep position, all things considered – and then he had it yanked out from under him within a day! By all accounts, the Seahawks want him on the Practice Squad (he just has to clear waivers first), so I wouldn’t expect him to be going too far.

Best Secondary in football. Period. I can’t wait to see these guys do their thing! And, as chance would have it, we get to see it right away when we play the Falcons on Sunday!

Special Teams

  • Tyler Ott (long-snapper)
  • Jason Myers (kicker)
  • Michael Dickson (punter)

No surprises whatsoever here.

How Many Starters Have The Seahawks Drafted In The Previous Ten Years?

On the Brock & Salk podcast this week, they were talking to Daniel Jeremiah who made an interesting point about the NFL Draft. He said that every team’s goal should be to select three starters in every draft, ideally with one of those players being true blue chippers. You can define “starter” and “blue chipper” in any number of ways; I think as you’ll see, I’m pretty generous.

For example, I would count Nickel Corner among the “starters” because they play such a high percentage of snaps (usually). I would also count #2 tight ends, because the Seahawks value that position so highly (I would not, however, count #2 running backs, oddly enough; so you won’t see Robert Turbin on here). I’m also not counting players the Seahawks drafted who would go on to have more successful careers elsewhere (so, no Mark Glowinski or Spencer Ware among my picks); if they weren’t starters for the Seahawks, then I’m not interested. I don’t care about “hit rate” unless it applies to the team I love.

The discussion, of course, centers around how GREAT the Seahawks were at drafting from 2010-2012, contrasted with how TERRIBLE they’ve been from 2013 onward. So, without further ado, let’s a-DO this!

2010-2012: The Good Years

2010

  • Russell Okung (LT)
  • Earl Thomas (FS)
  • Golden Tate (WR)
  • Walter Thurmond (CB)
  • Kam Chancellor (SS)

2011

  • James Carpenter (LG)
  • K.J. Wright (LB)
  • Richard Sherman (CB)
  • Byron Maxwell (CB)
  • Malcolm Smith (LB)

2012

  • Bruce Irvin (DE/LB)
  • Bobby Wagner (LB)
  • Russell Wilson (QB)
  • Jeremy Lane (CB)
  • J.R. Sweezy (RG)

What a murderer’s row! That’s not even factoring in such quality starters/blue chippers as undrafted free agents Doug Baldwin, DeShawn Shead, and Jermaine Kearse! You can see why this team went to back-to-back Super Bowls; those are three drafts that produced 15 starters, with 8 of them being real blue chippers (Okung, Earl, Tate, Kam, K.J., Sherm, BWagz, and Russ) on top of, again, blue chipper Doug and two more starting-calibre players.

Now, you can nitpick, of course. Malcolm Smith might be the biggest stretch, but in base defense as a strongside linebacker he made some impact plays (and, of course, was MVP of the Super Bowl, so give me a break!). Lane and Thurmond were both nickel corners. And, some of these guys took a couple years before they developed into starters. Nevertheless, all of these guys made significant impacts on the Seahawks’ success for our glory years.

2013-2016: The Bad Years

2013

  • Luke Willson (TE)

2014

  • Justin Britt (C)

2015

  • Frank Clark (DE)
  • Tyler Lockett (WR)

2016

  • Germain Ifedi (RT)
  • Jarran Reed (DT)

That’s truly NOT GREAT! Frank Clark is arguably the best player on this list, and he’s not even on the team anymore because we didn’t see him as worthy of a contract at the top of the market. Lockett is probably the guy who panned out the best for us, given that we were able to extend him to a reasonable second contract (that he continues to out-play every time he steps on the field). Luke Willson is a HUGE stretch, because he’s only been a de facto #1 tight end when the guys ahead of him got injured; otherwise he’s at-best a #2. Britt and Ifedi you could argue were overpaid busts. Reed is still around, but obviously wasn’t able to capitalize on his one great year due to being suspended for domestic violence.

2017-2019: The We’ll See Years

2017

  • Shaquill Griffin (CB)
  • Chris Carson (RB)

2018

  • Will Dissly (TE)
  • Tre Flowers (CB)
  • Michael Dickson (P)

2019

  • D.K. Metcalf

Before we talk about these guys, I have one holdover from the 2016 draft – Joey Hunt – who became a starter for a large chunk of the 2019 season, but I’m hesitant to want to elevate him on my list unless he wins the center job out of camp in 2020. That might make the 2016 draft look marginally better, but still I don’t know if anyone expects Hunt to be here long-term.

Anyway, it’s pretty early to make definitive proclamations about the 2017-2019 drafts, but it’s encouraging that I’ve listed the same number of players here that I did for the FOUR drafts preceeding them. Griffin and Dickson have already made Pro Bowls (though, Dickson almost feels like cheating since he’s a punter). Dissly looks as good as any tight end in football when he’s healthy, as does Carson among running backs. And, D.K. really broke out as a rookie last year, looking like a stud for many years to come.

You can probably close the book on the rest of the 2017 draft; none of the guys I left off look like they’ll be anything of note for the Seahawks. There’s marginal hope for a couple others from 2018. Rasheem Green has the highest upside, and figures to get a lot of playing time this year along the defensive line. He’s sort of a default starter for the Seahawks; we’ll see if he’s able to do anything with the opportunity. Tre Flowers – while it looks like he’ll lose his starting job to newcomer Quinton Dunbar (assuming he’s formally acquitted of robbery charges, AND isn’t suspended by the team/league) – still figures to be well involved in the defense. Also, if he can stay healthy and play well, Jamarco Jones has a higher ceiling than we might’ve originally expected.

As for 2019, there are a lot of hopefuls. L.J. Collier will get a long look this season. Marquise Blair hopes to win one of the starting safety jobs (and could also figure in the Big Nickel package, against the more difficult tight ends on our schedule). Cody Barton could eventually start at one of the outside linebacker spots if he plays his cards right (looking less likely, of course, with who the Seahawks drafted last month). Phil Haynes might win a starting spot on the offensive line in his second season. And, with a VERY outside chance, who knows? Maybe John Ursua takes over as this offense’s primary slot receiver!

As for the 2020 draft, all we can do is speculate. Jordyn Brooks figures to be a starter one day soon. Damien Lewis might be a starter from day one. And, everyone hopes Darrell Taylor gets a lot of play early at defensive end. Also, Colby Parkinson will have every opportunity to be this team’s #2 tight end as early as 2021.

So, it’s been a real rollercoaster over the last decade! Here’s hoping things are finally trending back in the right direction over the last 3-4 drafts. The one thing that worries me is the lack of blue chippers since 2013. From The Bad Years, I count only two from those four drafts (Clark & Lockett). From The We’ll See Years … again, we’ll see. D.K. seems like the safest bet. Griffin, I guess, you have to put in there (though, compared to blue chippers of seasons past, he doesn’t quite live up). Dickson, again, feels like cheating, but okay he counts. Carson and Dissly are definite blue chippers when healthy, but they both feel like incompletes.

The argument from 2013-2016 was that the Seahawks had so many great players from the previous three years that it was exceedingly difficult for younger guys to break through. That has, decidedly, not been as much of a problem over the last three seasons, particularly on defense where it’s been trending downward for half a decade. 2020 will be VERY interesting, because I don’t see too many sacred cows on this roster (again, particularly on defense). What I think is interesting is that the Seahawks don’t seem to be NEARLY as concerned with the defensive line as the fans are, which leads me to wonder what they know that we don’t. We have lots of stats and anecdotal information at our disposal, but they’re obviously embedded with these players fairly intimately. They get to see what these guys are capable of in practice, as well as talk to them and get into their heads.

Long story short: the team almost always knows more than the fans and “experts” do. So, maybe they’ll be right. Maybe we don’t need someone like Clowney because guys like Green, Collier, and Taylor will take huge steps forward! I remember fans being similarly up in arms in the early years of this regime, when a lot of the younger guys in the secondary won their jobs over established veterans. We were freaking out, but the Legion Of Boom proved us all to be pretty foolish. I hope we’re in for something like that again!

Seahawks Death Week: Where the 2019 Season Went Right!

Yesterday, we wallowed in our misfortunes. But, as always, we have to keep things in perspective. This was a Seahawks team that won 11 games and made it to the second round of the playoffs. I’m by no means pleased with the end result, I’m not satisfied just making it into the Final 8. I’m never “just happy to be there” and wishing everyone all the best in their future endeavors. Those fans – rational, sensible, not taking all of this meaningless drivel so seriously – are the absolute worst. My first thought after a final Seahawks loss isn’t, “Well, that was fun while it lasted.” It’s usually, “Fuck this shit, fuck everyone, I’m going to my bedroom and watching something else, alone.”

But, eventually I get there. Eventually I calm down and start appreciating the season for what it was. Usually, it’s about a day (or however long it takes me to write up this post), and then I’m done and I move on to next year. Dwelling on success or failure is bad enough, but dwelling on mediocrity? No thank you.

So, let’s talk about all the cool shit we saw this year, and then let’s never think about it again.

Gotta start with Russell Wilson. I know, quarterbacks are the most important players in all of sportsdom, but he was really something special. He was a different kind of special in 2017 – when he led the team in passing AND rushing yards – but I would argue he was the best we’ve ever seen him in 2019. Even better than the last seven games of the regular season in 2015!

If Lamar Jackson didn’t do what he did, we’d be talking about Russell Wilson as the MVP of the NFL. And, if you actually gave the award to the person who most embodied the phrase “Most Valuable Player”, I think Wilson would not only win it hands down, but he’d be on his third or fourth award at this point. But, the NFL gives it to the guy with the best stats, or the flashiest set of highlights, or the guy who the media gloms onto obsessively for three months; so, clearly Lamar. But, it’s an easy argument to make that Wilson means more to this Seahawks team and their 11 wins than Lamar did to that Ravens team and their 13. Give the Ravens a replacement-level quarterback, and I think they still probably win 9 or 10 games; put a replacement-level quarterback on the Seahawks and I think we’re EASILY playing for a Top 10 draft pick, and maybe even Top 5!

But, even the numbers alone for Wilson are impressive; maybe not compared to Lamar, but still. 4,110 yards on 66.1% completions (8.0 yards average per attempt), 31 touchdowns, only 5 interceptions, and a passer rating of 106.3. And, not for nothing, but Wilson was also tied for the league lead for most sacks at 48. Only three quarterbacks in the Top 10 Most Sacked made the playoffs; the other two were Deshaun Watson and Josh Allen. The rest of the guys in that area are, predictably, on terrible football teams who didn’t win very many games.

And, if you tack on rushing numbers, Wilson came within 29 yards of being the #2 rusher on this team, with 342 yards and another 3 TDs on the ground. Just an outstanding all-around season, and clearly deserving of the Second Team All Pro honor he received.

***

Wilson was so good, he gets his own section. Let’s get to the rest of the offense, because even though he’s great, he can’t do it all.

Chris Carson had a wonderful season. 1,230 yards, 4.4 average, and 7 TDs (plus 37 catches for 266 yards and 2 TDs). He did ultimately get knocked out for the season in his 15th game, but those are numbers I’ll take from my starting running back every damn year. What’s less great, obviously, are the 7 fumbles (4 lost), but we’re focusing on the bright side today.

I thought the rest of the running back room did pretty well too. Rashaad Penny didn’t have many opportunities, but he clearly took a step forward this year compared to his rookie season. It’s unfortunate his season-ending injury sounds so severe that it might cost him some games in 2020, because he really looked like a guy this team could rely on. And even Travis Homer made a decent showing in Week 17 and the two playoff games. He’s not a true #1, but as a 3rd down/2-minute back, I thought he did great!

There were a lot of questions about the Seahawks’ receivers heading into 2019. Doug Baldwin retired, the team drafted three guys, and Tyler Lockett was the unquestioned #1 option. My biggest concern was that last one: how would Lockett respond? Well, how do you like 82 receptions for 1,057 yards and 8 touchdowns? In THIS offense?! That’s elite! But, maybe even more importantly was the emergence and growth of D.K. Metcalf, who finished the season with 58 catches for 900 yards and 7 TDs. The two of them each hit triple digits in targets, which really bodes well for the future of the position. Metcalf saved his best for second-to-last in that Wild Card game, so we know he has it in him in the big moments; it’ll be fun to see him continue to grow and start to dominate in the years to come.

And, even though they were largely banged up, I was really impressed with what we got from our tight ends. Dissly is a stud who just can’t stay on the field. We were able to bring Luke Willson back and he was able to do Luke Willson things. But, the biggest find was Jacob Hollister, who became the de facto #3 receiver on this team. He had 41 catches for 349 yards and 3 touchdowns over 11 games, which doesn’t sound like much, but he was always getting open and was a nice security blanket/outlet for Wilson when plays broke down or we needed to convert a first down.

Finally, for the offense, I know the O-Line wasn’t the best, but I feel they deserve some credit for not being as bad as they were from 2015-2017. I was particularly impressed with Joey Hunt stepping in for an injured Justin Britt. I was REMARKABLY impressed with Duane Brown continuing to be ageless (and returning from a knee surgery to start that Green Bay game). I don’t think I ever fully appreciated Mike Iupati for what he brought to this team’s run game until we hit the playoffs and he was out. And, I thought Ifedi continued to make progress while playing presumably all the snaps this season (or at least a very high percentage). Fluker was a little hit or miss, but he was able to play most of the season, which I’ll take as a win.

***

I’m obviously less high on the defense than I am the offense. Offensively, we were top 10 in yards and points; I can’t ask for much more than that. I thought the playcalling was – for the most part – superb, and I thought our execution was spot on (until the first half of that Green Bay game).

Defensively, on the other hand, we were in the bottom 10 and bottom 11 in yards and points, which just can’t happen. Nevertheless, there were a few bright spots.

How much further would we have sunk without Jadeveon Clowney? I know the sack numbers aren’t there, but his pressure rate was among the highest in the league. When he was in the game, he was a difference maker throughout. He needs help around him, but he’s an elite foundational piece to any defense.

I think you’ve got to give some credit to the linebackers. They were steady. Wagner and Wright played in all 16 games plus the playoffs. Their age may be showing at times, their instincts might be a little diminished compared to their peaks, but they were really holding this defense together with duct tape and twine, considering our faulty secondary and even faultier pass rush.

I was happy to see Shaquill Griffin take the next step towards being a reliable cornerback. I still don’t think he’s a true #1, lockdown guy, and I don’t think he ever will be; but as a #2 he’s solid.

The defense took a considerable leap in effectiveness when Quandre Diggs came to town. Paired with Bradley McDougald, this defense looked downright respectable (again, until the Green Bay game).

***

Finally, I’ll talk about the Special Teams.

Jason Myers is a scary individual, but in reality he only missed 5 field goals in the regular season. The 4 missed extra points are pretty annoying, but all in all we didn’t lose any games because our kicker fucked us. So, I’ll take the slight win and hope he improves in 2020. For what it’s worth, I know he was a Pro Bowler in 2019, but kickers are wonky. Like relievers in baseball, they go from good to bad to good again with no rhyme or reason. I have no reason to believe that Myers can’t turn it around. He’s got the leg, he’s young enough, he’s had success in the past; hopefully, he’ll be fine.

Michael Dickson – coming off of a rookie All Pro/Pro Bowl season – had a really tough start to his 2019. But, after a few games, he settled down and finished pretty strong. No notes.

I thought the coverage units took a big step forward in 2019, after being a legitimate problem in 2018. So, looks like those young guys we brought in made a difference!

Seahawks Lost Control Of Top Seed, Division Lead

I don’t really have a whole lot to say about the Seahawks’ loss to the Rams last night. Clearly we have to adjust our expectations at least slightly.

I mean, at no point were the Seahawks even REMOTELY competitive in this one, from any standpoint. This was the same type of defensive performance we saw against the Rams two years ago when they absolutely DESTROYED us. Receivers were wide open all over the field, nobody could get within three feet of Goff, we kept falling for the stupid fucking jet sweep play, and if it weren’t for the Rams getting cute on third downs, they should’ve beaten us by MORE points.

And yet, for how inept we were on defense, the offense was somehow WORSE! I’m used to Russell Wilson being under constant attack against that Rams’ defensive front, but I’ve also grown accustomed to him running around and making plays. They come at us, we hit back, and in the end it’s a high-scoring shootout. We couldn’t even get it to the 46-point over in this one! Our defense scored more touchdowns than our offense, is really all you need to know here. Drops by our receivers early in the game set us in a huge hole, and they never really picked things up from there. Being down so much early took away from our planned rushing attack (as well as Penny’s season-ending knee injury).

Also, don’t think for a second I’m leaving out our special teams. The blocked field goal was fun, but the missed extra point by Jason Myers was brutal, and Michael Dickson AGAIN gave us a shitty, underwhelming punting performance. We needed our All Pro to pin them inside the 5 yard line and he could barely get it inside the 25.

After the 49ers took care of business so thoroughly against the Saints, the window was WIDE open to stay ahead of the pack for the #1 overall seed. That’s over now; maybe forever. There’s still a path to where we want to go – if we win out – but at this point I think we want to be the 2-seed anyway. Odds are the 3 team beats the 6 team (whoever it is), and that means if the 49ers are the 5-seed, they’re DEFINITELY beating the winner of the NFC East. At which point, the 49ers would play whoever’s the #1 overall seed, leaving us with the 3-seed as our opponent (should we be so lucky).

But, the ultimate conclusion from this game is that our backs are firmly against the wall. We HAVE to win out to get to where we want to go. Hell, we have to win out just to win our division, and that might still only get us the three seed (I haven’t done the scenarios and I won’t do them until we get a little closer to the end of the regular season).

In that sense, this isn’t the worst loss in the world, but it still sucks. I hate the fucking Rams. I was trying to think last night who I hate more: the 49ers or the Rams, and it’s VERY close, but I think I still hate the 49ers a little more. I knew that in order for us to get to the top seed, we needed a Saints loss somewhere in there, but for the life of me I couldn’t help but root against the 49ers in that back-and-forth affair. Fuck them (and fuck the Rams too).

Aside from Quandre Diggs’ two interceptions, I have nothing good to say about the Seahawks. They looked tired, they looked beat up, they looked slow, they looked unfocused, they looked poorly coached. They will also come back next week and beat up on a VERY bad Panthers team, so let’s flush this and move the fuck on with our lives. The less we dwell on this one, the better.

The Seahawks Won One Helluva Game Over The Rams

That was IN-credible! I mean, where do you begin?

I don’t want to make this a total recap post, but that’s exactly what I’m gonna do let’s start with losing the toss, getting the ball first, then fumbling on that first possession. Just … not the way you want to start against the Rams, or ANY good team. Yet, somehow, after two drives of 23 total yards, the Seahawks were only down 6-0. What could be better than holding the Rams to field goals?

Well, forcing them to go scoreless the rest of the first half, until a 2-minute drive finally broke the string.

Before we get to that, we can’t talk about that game without talking about that throw to Lockett in the back corner of the endzone. Everyone on the planet thought Wilson – scrambling for his life, like he would do most of the evening – was throwing that ball out of bounds. But, he does this from time to time: he puts the ball in a spot where either our guy is going to make a highlight-reel catch, or it’s going to fall harmlessly out of bounds. It’s his way of taking a chance without REALLY taking any chances. If it connects, then great! He looks like a wizard and he makes his receiver look superhuman. If it doesn’t, then whatever, he was just throwing the ball away and the receiver still almost made an amazing play. From running to his left, throwing on the run – on a rope – to the dive, the extension, and getting both feet down clearly for the replay video to see, it was the best throw & catch of the season by far, all due respect to whatever Mahomes is doing in Kansas City.

The next touchdown was pretty special in its own right. The Seahawks did a good job of working the ball down to the Rams’ 40-yard line on a 2nd & 7. It was the perfect time to take a deep shot: you knew it, I knew it, the crowd knew it, even the Rams knew it. Play action, D.K. Metcalf gets beyond both defenders on his side, 40 yards in the air, wide open touchdown. Outstanding.

After that Jaron Brown fumble, I never would’ve believed the Seahawks would’ve been up 14-6 at one point in this game, with a chance to extend it. But, there you have it.

The Rams finally started to get their offensive mojo back on the drive after that Metcalf touchdown, but it was a remarkable play to strip Gurley of the ball deep in Seahawks’ territory. At that point, I was wondering if the Seahawks might put the game away in the first half and coast to a lopsided victory!

Indeed, we used a lot of rushes and chunk plays through the air to get into Rams’ territory, where we had 3rd & 1 at the 30-yard line at the 2-minute warning. The play was stuffed, but it was also a play I didn’t really love. The O-Line’s banged up and not totally recovered from the previous game, it was a long stretch play to the right side, giving the Rams a lot of time to fill the gaps. I would’ve loved to have seen a zone-read there, maybe one of those things where you go from the huddle, run up really fast and quick-snap it before they have a chance to really dig in on the other side of the line of scrimmage. But, whatever, it was still 4th & 1, and while I understand why we went for the field goal, I definitely feel like that was the time to go for it and REALLY put them away. Convert there, you get to run the clock down as far as you want, and you either get a better field goal opportunity (with no time left for the Rams to do anything), or you score a touchdown to go up 21-6 at half. Pete likes to get hormonal from time to time, but it’s never the times you WANT him to be hormonal; usually he does it and compounds the bad times we’re already experiencing, it’s rarely at a time to stomp on another team’s throat to really put them away.

As you could’ve seen coming a mile away, we missed the field goal, and the Rams went right down the field to bring the game to 14-13 at half. Just too easy, and a harbinger of bad things to come in the third quarter.

By winning the toss, the Rams got the ball after halftime, and what do you know? They went right down and scored ANOTHER touchdown, to go up 20-14. From there, you knew the shootout was on, and if we didn’t get an All Pro punt out of Dickson to pin them back at the 1-yard line (and if Goff wasn’t a mediocre quarterback who missed a potential 98-yard touchdown pass to Robert Woods), the Rams would’ve definitely scored more points in this one. As it stood, they scored on 4/5 drives starting with that one just before halftime.

Fortunately, after the Rams punted from their 2-yard line, the Seahawks drove down to re-take the lead at 21-20. That couldn’t stop the Rams from going right back the other way to make it 26-21 (failing on the 2-point conversion, in a game they’d go on to lose by 1 point).

Both teams traded field goals before the Seahawks went on another one of their long, clock-chewing drives. With over 9 minutes left in the game, the Seahawks took it 75 yards for a touchdown, leaving just over 2 minutes left to play. The failed 2-point conversion attempt on our end was just a fantastic play by the defender (on first glance, it looked like Metcalf should’ve had it, but no).

At 30-29, no one felt safe. The problem with missing the 2-pointer there is that we couldn’t quite eat up ALL of the clock, but we also very well could’ve shot ourselves in the foot. MAYBE, if we got lucky, and they drove down too quickly to kick the field goal, we could get one more crack at it.

Then, the Tedric Thompson interception happened. It was a spectacular play by him, tipping the ball with one hand on the turf, keeping it airborn long enough to corral it, then having the smarts to get back up and start running it back. Of course, this was a Rams game, and that means the refs made the WRONG call once again. For the second time in, what, four weeks? Saying nothing of the NFC Championship Game last year, but come on! They blew a fumble dead against the Saints that would’ve given them 7 points; who’s to say what the Seahawks could’ve done with a proper run-back of that INT? Who’s to say, at the very least, what we could’ve done with the extra yards?!

Do all the NFL referees own equity in the Los Angeles Rams or something? This is kind of becoming suspicious at this point. I mean, why are they getting ALL the calls?

Anyway, that INT was a blessing and a curse. It happened just before the 2-minute warning, and the Rams still had 2 time outs. The Seahawks ran the ball twice – which was the right thing to do – and got 8 yards out of the deal. The 3rd & 2 play, however, was probably dumber than not going for it on 4th down in the first half. An option play? When was the last time that ever worked in a big moment in the NFL? I like having the ball in Wilson’s hands, and I like there BEING options for a play, but there really should’ve been a passing element to that one. RPO baby! When he’s rolling out, fine, have Lockett there behind him as a possible pitch man. But, also run one of the tight ends out there in a route – maybe fake a block at first to throw them off the scent, or fall down or something – but when he was out in the open, he knew he wasn’t going to convert, and he pitched it: right there, we should’ve had someone leaking out for him to throw it to down field. It was ALMOST the perfect play, but it turned into a near disaster.

Luckily, I guess, we stayed in bounds and forced them to use their final time out. It’s always a different ballgame in a 2-minute drill when you don’t have any time outs left.

Nevertheless, it’s never ideal to give the Rams the ball with 98 seconds left, down a single point. Even if it is on their own 7-yard line.

True to form, the Rams marched right down the field. I liked the aggressiveness the defense showed; I didn’t see too many 3-man fronts. But, I wish they’d gone to the well more with blitzes straight up the middle, as opposed to those corner blitzes that take so long to develop. You really don’t have a lot of time against a Rams offense; by the time the corner blitz comes home, he’s already released the ball.

I honestly thought we were going to lose on that field goal. My worst nightmare would’ve been Pete Carroll calling time out right before Zuerlein’s miss, only to give him a second chance where he nails it. He was sort of kicking to that upright a lot; there was a field goal earlier in the game that just squeaked in on that side. Any way you slice it, that’s a kick he makes probably 95 times out of 100, so I feel VERY fortunate right now.

Kudos to Wilson and Carson, who I’m going up against in my fantasy league. 268 yards (on 17/23) with 4 TDs for Wilson; 118 rushing yards on 27 carries (plus a 5-yard receiving TD) for Carson. They crushed me, but more importantly they crushed the Rams (had they done all that and the Seahawks still lost, I’d be inconsolable right now).

Kudos to Dissly and Lockett, who combined for 132 yards on 8 receptions with a touchdown. Kudos to Al Woods for stuffing Goff at the goalline to prevent that 2-point conversion (also, what were they doing running a QB draw?). Kudos to Tedric again on that fantastic INT after having a rough season so far. Kudos to Clowney and/or Wagner for forcing that Gurley fumble. And Kudos to Poona Ford for that early tackle for loss that easily could’ve saved us 4 points by not allowing the Rams to convert and challenge for a TD on that field goal drive.

There’s a lot to like about this win, and it sets things up remarkably well the rest of the way. I’ve said all along that the Seahawks need to go 4-1 in their first five games, and run it back for the next five. Well, here we are, 4-1, with 10 days until we go to Cleveland (who will be coming off of a Monday Night game). From there, it’s a very reasonable slate until our Week 11 BYE. Let’s enjoy the weekend, everyone!