Not Winners & Losers Of The Seahawks’ Game Vs. Dallas

Well, while my heart was on the Seahawks’ side, and while my head was torn between picking them or the Cowboys, ultimately I didn’t have the stomach to side with the home team and it cost me a win.  The Seahawks dominated in all phases as they never trailed during a 24-13 victory.  Now, after three games, the Seahawks are 1-2 with a road game against the hapless Cardinals coming up next week.

What I’m Geeked Out About After Three Games

First and foremost, the Seahawks FINALLY pulled their stupid fucking heads out of their asses and pounded the rock with Chris Carson!  I honestly didn’t think this would ever happen.  With the way his carries dried up in the second half of back-to-back games, I thought they’d continue to dick around with him and, quite frankly, dick around with the fans by not giving us what we want and this team what it NEEDS to succeed.  No, Russell Wilson CAN’T do everything by himself.  He needs help.  And, the biggest help to him right now is to give Carson as many carries as possible.

Now, obviously, it’s not a great average – 32 carries for only 102 yards – but those numbers can be deceiving.  He was making something out of nothing a lot of the time, and getting us those really tough yards on 3rd & short, and obviously at the goalline with that 5-yard touchdown.

What else am I geeked out about?  How about Earl Thomas?  He can do whatever the hell he wants and I’m gonna love him all the same!  Practice, don’t practice, as long as he’s kicking ass like he is in the GAMES, then cue up the Allen Iverson soundbite, because I could give a fuck about PRACTICE.

(that being said, I still wouldn’t give him a long-term third contract, and if this win doesn’t magically transform us into a Super Bowl contender, then I’d rather trade him for a king’s bounty of draft picks)

Other Things That Caught My Eye (In A Good Way)

Nice job by the O-Line, and I think it’s no coincidence that this was the first game with D.J. Fluker in the fold.  Sure, Hunt was in there for Britt (and he was a little bit of a travelling circus when it came to those shotgun snaps), and Sweezy had to start for an injured Pocic, but Fluker was back at his natural right guard spot and I think that’s going to make all the difference for this line going forward.  I just hope he can keep it going without any injury setbacks.

The defense across the board did a fantastic job.  Bobby Wagner was all over the place.  Bradley McDougald is playing like HE deserves a $10 million per year contract.  I don’t know if they threw on Shaquill Griffin more than a small handful of times all day!  Jarran Reed had a couple sacks and looked really active on those stunts they were doing up the middle.  Mychal Kendricks played through some nagging injuries to get his second sack in two games.  Tre Flowers continues to look like he’s making progress as a rookie starting cornerback in this league.  Barkevious “I’ve Got Every Vowel In Alphabetical Order In My Name” Mingo had a big sack as well.  And, I know I talked about Earl Thomas, but I’m gonna talk about him again because that savage bow towards the Cowboys bench at the end of the game was just *kisses fingers*.

Tyler Lockett continues to impress as this team’s de-facto #1 receiver with Doug Baldwin on the shelf.  He caught his third TD in three games, and had 4 catches for 77 yards overall.  On the season, he has 12 catches for 196 yards as the team tries to pick up the slack.

Nick Vannett had a nice game, as Will Dissly Mania subsides a little bit for one week.  The team is making a concerted effort to get the tight ends involved, and I thought Vannett had a nice game overall.

Finally, I thought Russell Wilson managed the game pretty well.  16/26 for 192 and 2 TDs with 0 picks and 0 lost fumbles.  He also only took 2 sacks and appeared to be much more decisive getting rid of the ball quicker (particularly when there was nothing open downfield and he just had to check it down).

Let’s Talk About Competitions

There’s no real specific positional competitions going on right now, but I want to use this section to focus on the coaches, and how they’re starting to come together on how to best feature the players they have on this team.

I’ll reiterate again with Chris Carson.  He is, without question, the best running back on this team, and it’s really not even close.  Penny had 3 carries for 5 yards.  Davis didn’t get a single carry.  Prosise was held out with nagging injuries.  Even from a snaps perspective, Carson was on the field for 50/69, while Penny was only out there for 10/69.  That is absolutely the appropriate ratio for those guys.

Let’s get back to the defense here, because you can’t talk about them enough when they hold the Cowboys to 13 points and only 168 yards passing.  As I expected, Elliott got his (127 yards on only 16 carries), but we were able to keep everything else about that offense in check.  You force someone like Dak to beat you, and he’s just not good enough.

I think we learned that this Seahawks defense has more talent than we expected coming into the season.  When healthy, this is going to be a formidable unit.  Obviously, Wagner is the straw that stirs the drink.  Obviously, a hall of famer in Earl Thomas is going to be a huge boost.  But, we were wondering where the pass rush would come from?  Well, Clark was all over the place, Mingo got home on a nice blitz.  Kendricks looks like an inspired addition, Reed might’ve had his coming out party.  On top of that, the coaching staff is adjusting, often going with a 3-safety look to try to take advantage of matchups.  It’s not about trying to conform to the same Seahawks system we’ve had in place since 2010, it’s adjusting that system to fit your personnel.  Going forward, I’ll be most interested in seeing how this defense looks as guys come back from injury, and as these young guys start to improve through experience.  I mean, K.J. Wright has yet to play a game, and Dion Jordan really hasn’t been on the field all that much!  We could be just starting to scratch the surface of this unit’s potential, and I find that to be much more exciting than anything the offense has to offer.

Other Things That Caught My Eye (In A Bad Way)

With the win, obviously there’s not a lot to complain about.  I will say that Brandon Marshall looked pretty bad with those drops.  I’m hoping that’s more of a fluke, because when you age your speed will slow, but that shouldn’t affect your hands.  Here’s to a bounce-back next week.

Tough day for Michael Dickson in his home debut.  A lot of low line drives, not the usual hangtime, and the ones that went out of bounds certainly had plenty of room for improvement.

Overall, the coverage on punts and kicks has been VERY mediocre the entire season.  I was really hoping this part of our game was going to be special, but it’s just meh.

Not Winners & Losers Of The Seahawks’ Game At Denver

We’re running it back for the regular season!  No winners or losers here!  Just some shit about this game off the top of my head!

The Seahawks went into Denver yesterday, took a short-lived 7-0 lead, lost it through most of the rest of the game, then took a short-lived 24-20 lead in the fourth quarter, before losing 27-24.  We had so many chances in the end to come back to either tie or win it, but the offense stumbled and that was that.  The Seahawks are 0-1 after one game, and absolutely ARE who we thought they were.

What I’m Geeked Out About After One Game

This is the part where I talk about the small handful of things I really loved about the game we just watched.  And, while it’s already starting to get old to a lot of people, how can you not be absolutely raving about Michael Dickson?!

6 punts for a 59-yard average, and I believe Hawkblogger said a 57.5 yard net?  That is IN-sane.  I mean, honestly, I know it sucks when the Seahawks’ offense sucks, but I love to watch that guy walk away (after watching him boom a football 70 yards through the air) or something.

I’m also pretty geeked out about Uncle Will’s 105 yards on 3 catches with a TD.  Because how could you NOT be?  That dude is a villain!  BLAP BLAP BLAP BLAP BLAP!

Other Things That Caught My Eye (In A Good Way)

I think we’re all in agreement that Rashaad Penny is a first round bust and a wasted draft pick at this point, right?  We’re all in agreement?  Oh, we’re not?  Well, at least we can all agree that, at this time, Chris Carson is the unquestioned best running back on this team, and absolutely should NOT be on an even timeshare with Penny, and not just because it will cripple my fantasy team if he isn’t the bellcow I expected him to be!

Carson is explosive, he’s good in between the tackles, he’s good in the open field, he runs through guys, he jumps OVER guys, he catches the ball pretty well.  He does everything you want out of an All Pro running back, so just lean on him!

I’ll also say that Tyler Lockett and Brandon Marshall both caught my eye (in a good way) with their TDs, particularly that sweet long bomb to Lockett for 51 yards.

Also, it was around this time a week ago where we could’ve made the argument that the Seahawks had the very worst safety situation in all of football.  Then, Earl Thomas returned, and balance was restored to The Force or some shit.  One pick by E.T., TWO picks by Bradley McDougald, as these three turnovers really kept the Seahawks in the game when things looked like Denver might run away with it.  I still believe the Seahawks should’ve traded Thomas for whatever they could get, but damn is it nice to see him out there again!

Let’s Talk About Competitions

This section feels more appropriate for the pre-season, but on this team I feel like competition is going to be ongoing.

For instance, yes Shaquem Griffin got the start in place of K.J. Wright, but don’t Wally Pipp the veteran just yet, because Griffin regularly saw his ass pulled from the game for various miscues.  Missed tackles, poor angles, lack of contain … all HUGE no-no’s in Pete Carroll’s book.  Austin Calitro saw playing time in his place and looked marginally better, but I’m going out on a limb and saying I can’t wait for K.J. to come back.  I have enough concerns about this defense as it is, I don’t want to have to think about the play of the linebackers!

Also, Tre Flowers got the start opposite Shaquill Griffin, as what’s his name got put on IR this week.  Flowers played almost all defensive snaps and honestly didn’t look great.  But, then again, no one in the cornerback room should be applauding themselves, because Case Keenum was able to complete 25/39 for 329, an 8.4 yard average.  I mean, if Keenum is going to do that to us, what’s going to happen when we get to the Rams, the Lions, the Packers, the Vikings, and so on and so forth?  Those QBs are going to eat us alive!  Can Akeem King really be THAT bad?  I think we need to really ramp up this cornerback competition and see what we’ve got there, because I just don’t know if Flowers is going to have what it takes to hack it long term.  Feels like too much too soon for him right now.

Other Things That Caught My Eye (In A Bad Way)

I hope this doesn’t get lost in the shuffle of everyone’s discontent about this team (I know the fans won’t be able to let it go), but Sebastian Janikowski had two chances at a field goal near the end of the first half and missed them both (one five yards closer than the other).  On a day when the Broncos’ kicker made both of his 50+ yarders, when you figure it was a sunny day in the Mile High City, SeaBass really shouldn’t have an issue.  That’s a missed 3 points in a 3-point loss, so, you know, do the math.

I still can’t say enough how unimpressed I was with Penny.  I see none of the things in him that I do in Carson.  No burst, no power, he runs out of bounds instead of through guys.  Hell, even in the red zone, it didn’t feel like he had that killer instinct to get into the endzone that Shaun Alexander had (his most popular comp).  I know he’s working his way back from an injury (which saw him balloon up in weight even though it was just a broken finger!), but it also looks like he doesn’t totally know what he’s doing yet.  Maybe he should be strictly this team’s #2 or even #3 back for a while, until he gets his bearings.

Also, where was Prosise?  If you’re only going to start 3 running backs, and he’s your third, then why wasn’t he out there on third downs or at the ends of halves?  Isn’t that his specialty?

And, I’m sorry, but Naz Jones was a healthy scratch?  This team had ONE sack against the Broncos, and very little pressure on top of it.  That was our #1 concern heading into this season, and it absolutely looks like it’s a valid one.  Frank Clark got his, which is fine, but for the most part Keenum had all day to throw.  Seems like Naz Jones could’ve helped, since he seems to be one of the better interior pressure generators.  I wonder if this is a punishment thing for something we’ll never hear about?  I dunno; I just want to see Jones out there next week, and every week going forward, barring injury.

Most people are killing Germain Ifedi, and I’ll second that notion, but you’re just BEGGING for trouble when you leave him one-on-one with Von Miller.  There should’ve been a tight end on that side of the line every single fucking play, to at least chip if not outright double-team that monster.  That’s on the coaches more than anything.

I’ll close on Russell Wilson, who really wasn’t good.  That end-of-game interception was pretty meaningless, but the other one wasn’t.  Neither were all the sacks he took, as he spun backwards and ended up losing 56 total yards of field position.  That’s UNACCEPTABLE!  On a day where we saw very little of his magic, he can’t get away with that type of shit.  He’s not as fast as he used to be, he’s not getting away from these young studs, who keep getting quicker and quicker with each passing year, while Russell Wilson just gets older and older.

Not Winners & Losers Of The Seahawks’ Final Pre-Season Game 2018

If this WAS a “Winners & Losers” post, I’d probably have to say that the Oakland Raiders were the “winners” and the Seattle Seahawks were the “losers”.  Is that how it works?  Am I doing this right?

A meaningless end to a meaningless pre-season took place last night.  The Seahawks did indeed lose to the Raiders, 30-19.  EJ Manuel carved up our defense like a freshly roasted turkey.  Some guy named Keon Hatcher (who I can only assume will be jobless by the end of this sentence) caught 8 balls for 128 yards and 3 touchdowns.  None of the starters really played, except for Ifedi I guess, who I think maybe tweaked an ankle or something?  I dunno, he should be fine though.  On with the premise!

What I’m Geeked Out About After Four Meaningless Pre-Season Games

I guess what I’m most geeked out about is that Russell Wilson didn’t play a single snap.  Chris Carson had just two carries.  By and large, our most important starters played either no snaps or very few snaps.  Can’t ask for anything more out of a fourth pre-season game.

I’m geeked out about never having to see Austin Davis ever again!  While he did have a pretty nifty 81-yard TD pass to Damore’ea Stringfellow, that was pretty much it, as he continuously failed to drive this team against a pretty fucking mediocre Raiders defense (also missing most of its regular starters).  Davis did end up throwing for 194 yards while playing the entire first half, so maybe that’ll be good enough to sucker some other team into picking him up.

If I had to pick a couple things that I’m actually geeked out about, I’d start with the offensive line.  There were mistakes aplenty early (a couple back-to-back holding penalties took Isaiah Battle out of the game for a while), but even though we put mostly reserves out there, I thought they showed some real improvement over what we saw in the first three weeks.  We ended up running for 131 yards on 26 carries (with Mike Davis running 9 times for 45 yards and a TD; he’s a good little slashing runner, I gotta say).

The other thing is I thought Shaquem Griffin looked really good.  He played a lot of snaps last night – as he prepares to start in Denver in Week 1 in place of the injured K.J. Wright – and he was just a Tasmanian Devil of destruction!  Stuffing guys in holes, preventing open-field runners from getting first downs; he led the team with 8 tackles and he certainly could’ve had more than that if he played the entire game.

Other Things That Caught My Eye (In A Good Way)

Stringfellow obviously had a strong game, with 2 catches, 90 yards, and a TD.  I don’t think it was enough to get him a job on the 53-man roster, but I’m willing to bet the team would have him back on the Practice Squad.  However, given the way he’s played, it wouldn’t shock me in the least to see another team snap him up for their 53-man.  I’m sure the Broncos could always use another receiver …

I thought Alex McGough had an okay game and continues to make progress.  He had the actual pass of the game though.  I know that 81-yarder from Davis was impressive and all, but really he just hit a receiver in stride, and just over the outstretched arms of a lone defender.  McGough, on the other hand, was running for his life to the right, and chucked it on a dime 52 yards down field to Malik Turner for what appeared to be a go-ahead TD.  Unfortunately, Turner had to awkwardly position himself to catch the ball and get into the endzone, and in the process failed to get his second foot in bounds, but GOD DAMN was that an impressive throw!

Let’s Talk About Competitions

I want to get this in here now, while I’m talking about the backup QBs.  While I think it’s more than reasonable to bring in Brett Hundley – who has been around a while, who has starting experience (in a playoff atmosphere, I might add, as the Packers were hunting down a wild card spot to the bitter end last year), and who has a game that somewhat resembles Russell Wilson’s – I do like the makeup of McGough an awful lot, and I think he’s someone who will develop into a viable backup quarterback one day (and, who knows, if things break right, maybe even a starter somewhere).

That having been said, McGough ain’t there yet.  He’s still VERY raw and has a lot of seasoning to accrue.  I still hope like the dickens that the Seahawks can sneak him onto the practice squad.

As for that right tackle competition, I think Ifedi was able to hold down his job.  Sounded like Fant was flip-flopping back and forth from right to left tackle, so that tells me he’s going to be this team’s backup at both positions (hell, they even had Joey Hunt playing right tackle late in the game, to give someone else a chance to play center).

I don’t know about the wide receivers, as really Stringfellow was the only one who stood out, and I don’t think he’s done enough this pre-season to warrant keeping on the 53-man roster.  This feels like a position group the team has already made up its mind on.

Finally, as for the cornerback spot opposite Shaquill Griffin … your guess is as good as mine.  Looks like an endless black hole of misery to me, but what do I know?

Other Things That Caught My Eye (In A Bad Way)

Uhh, let’s see.  Janikowski missing TWO extra points!

Michael Dickson punted a ball INTO THE ENDZONE!

The defense (regardless of whether or not the starters played) let EJ Fucking Manuel throw for 255 yards (on 18/22 passing) with a rating of 154.5!

The utter lack of turnovers once again!

The terrible decisions to return some of those kickoffs out of the endzone!

The PENALTIES!

I could go on and on.  This was a sloppy, miserable game, befitting of a 4th pre-season game.  Why the NFL still has 4 of these every year, I’ll never know.

I’ll say this:  the depth is a joke on this team.  It’s going to be LEAN TIMES if a lot of important Seahawks get injured this year.  But, that shouldn’t be a problem, right?  It’s not like this team has seen players dropping like a fucking leprosy patient loses limbs for the last three years or so.

Oh.

Wait.

Not Winners & Losers Of The Seahawks’ Third Pre-Season Game 2018

On Friday, the Seahawks played their all-important third pre-season game.  The official tune-up to the regular season, where the starters play into the third quarter, and we all set this up to be a preview of what the games will look like when they start to count (while keeping in mind that it’s still the pre-season, and as such things aren’t going 100 miles per hour like they will be in two weeks).  The Seahawks had a fancy matchup in Minnesota against one of the elites of the NFC, so this test was particularly enticing.  The starters left the game with a 13-6 lead, however 4th quarter shenanigans resulted in the Vikings winning 21-20 as the backup defense couldn’t stop a come-from-behind touchdown/2-point conversion in the closing minutes.

What I’m Geeked Out About After Three Meaningless Pre-Season Games

So, go ahead and put me in the train conductor’s seat of the Chris Carson Bandwagon Express, because I am FULL SPEED AHEAD on this guy!  You have no idea how high I am on this kid; I think he’s absolutely going to kill it (if he stays healthy).  I’m 2 for 2 in fantasy leagues drafting this kid; in one league, he was a steal because outside of Seattle (this was a random standard league I joined for practice) no one is expecting him to be anything, so if you’re in a league full of non-Seahawks fans, you can sit on him and get him for a song.  In my other league, though, I took him with the first pick in the fifth round which … is maybe three rounds too early?  Maybe five rounds?  I dunno.  All I know is he was a REACH, and I was suckered into taking him that early because my brother was in the room and kept telling me he was going to be his next pick.

Here’s the thing though (I should really be saving this for my fantasy column later this week, but whatever), by the time you get to the 5th round of any fantasy draft, all the elite running backs are gone.  So, you’re sifting through promising rookies, running back committees, injury concerns, and handcuffs.  Here’s the bottom line:  of all the running backs who were taken after I went after Carson – in order through the end of the 6th round, they were Jordan Howard, Jerick McKinnon, LeSean McCoy, Joe Mixon, Alex Collins, Derrick Henry, Jay Ajayi, and Lamar Miller – I believe Carson will be better from a fantasy perspective than ALL of those guys.  He’s earned the starting job out of the pre-season – thanks in part to Penny’s finger injury, but mostly due to his utter dominance – and I think he’ll run away with it in the regular season.

It’s my firm belief that Chris Carson will be the Beastmode replacement we’ve all been waiting for, and I’m willing to risk my fantasy football happiness on it.

Also, this needs to be in the geeked out category, because OH MY GOD MICHAEL DICKSON IS MY NEW FAVORITE HUMAN!!!  Just, watch all his punts again, over and over, on a loop, forever in my dreams.

Other Things That Caught My Eye (In A Good Way)

The offensive line was absolutely spectacular.  This week, George Fant moved from left to right to start pushing Germain Ifedi, and Ifedi responded with – I want to say – his greatest game as a professional.  I don’t know who is going to come away with the starting job in week 1, but the line as a whole will be a lot better just having Fant competing for that spot.  He’s easily the 6th best lineman on this team – if not the 5th – so it’s much more important getting him work on the right side, rather than exclusively backing up Duane Brown.

Brandon Marshall had his best game as a Seahawk, catching all 3 balls thrown his way, including a nifty 20-yard pass where he boxed the defender out and went up high to snag it.  He easily looks like the best veteran re-tread we’ve brought in here, and should be the first one to actually make the team.

David Moore keeps looking better and better every time I see him.  He caught a 36-yard TD pass from McGough in the second half on 3rd down, and he brought a punt back to the house (that was called back for the world’s most bogus holding penalty you’ve ever seen).

The defense was still a little shaky, but the run defense returned to form, holding the Vikings to 58 yards on 24 carries.  That’s going to be huge for this team.

Let’s Talk About Competitions

It’s far too early to call the Ifedi vs. Fant matchup, but I saw Fant get a shot with the #1 offense starting with the third drive of the game, so it’s legit.  Honestly, I think they both looked pretty good – and I was really focused on Fant when he went in there – so it very well might come down to this week’s practices and this game coming up on Thursday against the Raiders.  All Ifedi has to do is hold his own and I think he has the edge.  But, if he slips up and reverts back to his crappy ways, Fant could easily slide in there and steal the job.

Boy, do I need to not see Austin Davis as this team’s backup QB.  I think we will, just because what team is going to stuff McGough on its 53-man roster as a 7th rounder who’s looked okay, but is still a real project?  The Seahawks should have no trouble whatsoever sneaking McGough onto the Practice Squad.  That having been said, Davis is a disaster.  He was 2/3 for -1 yard on his 2 drives (both 3 & Outs).  Considering he was 1/3 for 6 yards against the Chargers on his 2 drives in that game, and a mighty 4/5 for 51 yards and a mind-boggling interception in the endzone against the Colts (across, again, 2 drives), and you have to ask:  what has Davis done to earn a job?  He hasn’t even looked COMPETENT, let alone good!  I’d rather roll the dice with a playmaker in McGough at this point.  He could struggle, sure, but his upside is off the charts compared to Davis.  Plus, if we’re risking our season’s chances on anyone outside of Russell Wilson, then the season is already a lost cause as it is, so might as well give the youngster some experience.

Other Things That Caught My Eye (In A Bad Way)

I thought Russell Wilson just looked sort of okay.  He had all day to throw, but somehow was only 11/21 for 118 yards.  I suppose some of that is on Minnesota’s defense, as they have one of the best in all of football.  I nevertheless have to believe that if we had Wilson finish this game, we would’ve won it.

The talk of this game has to be what the Vikings did on 3rd & 4th down, as they converted 13 of 22 combined.  I’ve been harping on that endlessly as the main key to this Seahawks’ season, and it’s not going away any time soon.  The Seahawks tend to get much better pressure on 1st & 2nd downs, with key blitzes getting to the quarterback; then, on 3rd down, we go super vanilla, the QB has all day to throw, and he picks us apart.  Time and time again!  It’s like we rely on the QB making a mistake, vs. actually forcing him INTO one.  What I’m trying to say is, maybe we should start blitzing more on 3rd down and getting the fuck off the field!

That having been said, we were a lot better after the first quarter, when they had the ball for all but a couple minutes.  But, that brings us to our other main problem on defense:  not forcing turnovers.

No picks.  One fumble that bounced Minnesota’s way.  That’s a week after the Chargers played a clean game.  We have 1 fumble recovery (against the Colts) in three games.  If that holds through the regular season (1 turnover every 3 games), we’re in trouble.

Finally, zero sacks on Kirk Cousins.  Like I said before, some blitzes got home, but nothing that did any damage.  Part of stopping teams on drives is getting to the QB when you’re using just a 4-man rush, and the Seahawks couldn’t hack it.

This week, the most meaningless of all pre-season games (except for those guys a the back-end of the roster).  We won’t have Tanner McEvoy to kick around anymore, as he was rightfully cut for being no good, so the WR picture gets a little more clear.

Giving Them The Boot: Seahawks Call Off Their Kicking Competitions

The Seahawks have been putting the “foot” in football, as fans have been all atwitter about what they’re doing with the team’s special teams.

They traded up in the fifth round to draft Michael Dickson, which obviously put Jon Ryan’s standing with the team in jeopardy.  After the game on Saturday – where Dickson had the Chargers on their heels all day – the team and Ryan agreed to part ways, with the hope that the MVP will hook up with another team.  It was moderately surprising, I guess, but the Seahawks love nothing else than to keep us all on our toes.

More shocking was the early end to the placekicker battle, as the team stomped on the hopes and dreams of youngster Jason Myers.  My thinking was – all things being even – the team would opt to keep the cheaper guy with more contract control, but either Janikowski was the pick all along – and he just needed to prove his health for the team to keep trotting him out there game-in and game-out – or it really wasn’t even as it looked in the two pre-season games, and Myers wasn’t as reliable during practice.  Hard to blame them if that’s the case, as the season from hell that was the Blair Walsh Experiment might give anyone PTSD when it comes to the kicking game.

Not surprisingly, I suppose, is that the Seahawks really have no interest in kicking competitions, and probably hated wasting two extra roster spots when they knew all along what they wanted to do.  Those are two spots that can go to a 9th DB or an 11th wide receiver or some such nonsense.  For what it’s worth, I have no problem with their choices.  Obviously, I was ready to move on at the punter spot, as the new guy is cheaper, younger, and significantly better; he could be an All Pro punter for a decade, starting with year one!  As for kicker, I guess we’ll have to wait and see.  There’s a little nagging doubt about giving up on Myers so soon; I’d hate to see him catch on somewhere else and be fabulous for a long time.  I mean, good kickers have to come from somewhere, and it’s not insane for a guy to bounce around a few different organizations before figuring it out.  Of course, the odds are in our favor, and he’s truly going to be a bust, but I guess I wish him well or whatever.

Just … just get the job done, Janikowski.  That’s all I ask.  Make the ones you’re supposed to make, and surprise us with a handful of 50-yarders.  I don’t want to have to think about the kicker when there’s so many other things to worry about with this team.

Not Winners & Losers Of The Seahawks’ Second Pre-Season Game 2018

The Seahawks had the rare Saturday night pre-season game over the weekend, a 24-14 loss to the Chargers down in Los Angeles.  We saw our starters through the entire first half, watching many a promising drive end in futility, with a late comeback attempt for naught.  The only injury was to D.J. Fluker’s finger, which is a good sign.  Without further ado, let’s get into it.

What I’m Geeked Out About After Two Meaningless Pre-Season Games

Russell Wilson and Chris Carson look absolutely phenomenal.  Unfortunately, due to mistakes around them, we haven’t seen the fruits of their labor translating into a ton of touchdowns, but words can’t express how excited I’ll be when we finally get to see full games out of these guys.  This offense has the potential to really be something, and a lot of that production is going to fall to these two guys.

I think the receiving corps is in good shape.  We haven’t even seen Doug Baldwin yet, and as long as his injury isn’t worse than expected, we’ll get him back for the regular season (you know, when the games actually matter).  Tyler Lockett was given this game off, but he looks fast and ready to break out this year.  The real question marks come when you look beyond our top two guys, and it’s there that I’m really happy.  Jaron Brown had a couple of really nice catches for 74 yards, and David Moore had a couple of his own, for 71 yards.  With Brandon Marshall drawing the attention he draws (and as a weapon in the red zone), I think these five guys should all make the opening day roster, and I think they should all prove to be pretty productive (Moore in particular, as his role could expand even further after this season, if Lockett signs elsewhere).

Also, how do you not freak the fuck out about Rasheem Green?  One week after he netted 1.5 sacks and a tackle for loss against the Colts, he came back with 1.5 sacks and 2 tackles for loss against the Chargers!  Requisite grain of salt and all that, this is a guy who without question can play in this league and be productive for this team right out of the gate.  Never a better sight for these sore eyes have I seen in quite some time.

Other Things That Caught My Eye (In A Good Way)

Quinton Jefferson looks like the real deal (and just in the knick of time, too).  He might never be a Pro Bowler, but just being a viable member of a D-Line rotation is all I’m looking for.

Naz Jones, however, may indeed one day be a Pro Bowler!  He needs to stay healthy first, and if he does, watch out NFL!  He could be one of the surprises of this season.

C.J. Prosise wasn’t especially effective, but he played most of the second half of this game and didn’t have to leave due to injury.  That’s something!  Now, we don’t know how his body responded – I’m still holding my breath, in case you couldn’t tell – but all signs point to him being okay.  Let’s keep this going!

Finally, while still raw-looking, Alex McGough looked better.  He had a nifty little touchdown drive late in the game, with a nice touch pass to the back of the endzone.  Still more checkdowns than you’d like to see in a game if it actually mattered, but as far as a rookie backup quarterback is concerned, as long as he’s avoiding mistakes, he’s okay in my book.

Let’s Talk About Competitions

It’s time for the punter competition to end.  John Schneider needs to take Old Yeller Jon Ryan out back behind the barn and put him out of his misery.  It’s been a good run, MVP, but it’s time to go in another direction.  Michael Dickson is the future, and by God, might indeed be the next Seahawks jersey I end up buying!

The kicker competition is still alive and well, and honestly probably too close to call.  They both made some pretty short-range kicks, and no one attempted a PAT due to the score being what it was.  It’s unfortunate that the #2 and #3 offenses are so fucking inept, as it’s seemingly impossible for these guys to get us into scoring position at all!  Heading to Minnesota this week, obviously, isn’t a great opportunity to allow the offense to bust out, as that’s one of the deeper teams in the league.

Finally, as I alluded to, a pretty mixed bag when it comes to the QB2 spot.  Austin Davis had two drives and went nowhere.  He sucks.  That having been said, I don’t know if I’m willing to throw this competition away just yet and hand the keys to McGough.  Obviously, the team is pretty confident that they know what they’ve got in Davis, so they’re giving the bulk of the free time to McGough to gauge his development.  As he is a 7th rounder, you know the team isn’t expecting a lot from him, hence the rumors about the Seahawks offering a 2nd rounder to acquire Indy’s backup.  That’s obviously a terrible idea – as why would you give up something so valuable just for a guy who ideally will never see the field in the regular season? – especially when you consider we don’t even have another 2nd round pick until 2020!  I think that rumor ended up being false, but nevertheless I wouldn’t be shocked to see the Seahawks in the market for a new backup as teams start cutting guys later this month.

Other Things That Caught My Eye (In A Bad Way)

This section could also be called, “God Damn It Germain Ifedi”.

What the fuck is wrong with this guy?  Seriously!?  I mean, it’s pretty plain to see that we’re not going to get even a minimal amount of improvement out of him compared to a season ago, which is just a disaster.  Hell, at this point I can’t even promise he won’t get WORSE!  His play, in EVERY facet of the game (but in particular his pass protection), is just the fucking worst.  Now, obviously, the other four starting linemen look pretty okay, so if Russell Wilson just has to avoid one free rusher per play (as opposed to the usual 4 or 5 we’d let run wild in prior seasons) we should still be able to move the ball.  But, this nevertheless puts our most important player in a precarious spot, and the odds of Wilson suffering an injury because of Ifedi’s ineptitude increases tenfold.  We may look back on the right tackle injuries in that Indy game as a serious turning point in our season, on par with the George Fant injury a year ago.

Obviously, you have to hate that Will Dissly penalty, and you just hope it’s something he’ll correct going forward.  This team can’t afford mental errors, as it’s less able to overcome them than in years past when we had more star players.

Ditto the Chris Carson fumble at the goalline.  We need touchdowns, not field goals; and we need points, not turnovers.

Predictably, Philip Rivers carved us up early in the game.  I thought the defense did a better job of settling down after that first drive, but the run defense was as sorry as I’ve ever seen it.  There’s a slight chance this team’s pass rush will be better than I expected, but there’s a very good chance this team’s run defense will be much worse.  What worries me is if the pass rush is indeed terrible, and so is the run defense.  Could be a LONG season for that side of the ball.

I’m also going to bemoan the lack of turnovers the Seahawks generated, because I still think this team will need them to thrive.  The secondary in particular looked far from impressive.  Just a lot for this defense to work on, and not a lot of time left to do it.

Not Winners & Losers Of The Seahawks’ First Pre-Season Game 2018

Winners & Losers posts are fucking played out, so fuck it, I’m doing something different (that’s really sort of the same, but whatever).

Last night, the Seahawks played in their first pre-season game of the year and lost to the Colts 19-17.  The game was efficiently played through the first half, we saw a ton of different guys get out there and mix it up, and then the second half was a slog of mistakes, penalties, and absolute tom-fuckery that ended with a 3rd & 1 play just before the 2-minute warning.  The Seahawks used their final time out in an attempt to get the ball back for a come-from-behind opportunity.  The Colts ran the ball up the middle, Delano Hill (I believe) had a chance to stuff the running back for no gain, but he ultimately missed the tackle, leading to an Indy first down and a victory formation coming out of the 2-minute break.  So, let’s get to the premise of this post.

What I’m Geeked Out About After One Meaningless Pre-Season Game

Okay, so first of all, caveats galore:  it’s pre-season, it’s the first game of the pre-season, it’s against an Indy defense that probably isn’t all that good and probably wasn’t playing all their best players and probably wasn’t running anything but a vanilla scheme.

That having been said, I’m pretty fucking geeked out about the Seahawks’ #1 offense.  All of it!  Russell Wilson was on point!  The running game looked strong!  The offensive line gave Wilson all day to throw and opened up huge holes!  Receivers and tight ends got open!  The offense was crisp and efficient and was even able to overcome a penalty or two!  It culminated in a touchdown pass to Nick Vannett and the major players were done for the night.

Why am I so geeked out about all this, with all those caveats I mentioned?  Because this is what’s SUPPOSED to happen.  This is how your #1 offense is SUPPOSED to look against the dregs of the league in the first pre-season game of the year.  And yet, all too often in years past, under Darrell Bevell & Co., it’s been a fucking SLOG!  Much like in regular season games, this offense tended to take a while to get going even in the pre-season.  So, it was FUCKING refreshing to finally see these guys come out right away and ram it down the other team’s throat.

As always:  Fuck You Very Much Darrell Bevell & Tom Cable.

Other Things That Caught My Eye (In A Good Way)

Even though Vannett had a drop (that, on replay, might’ve been a tad thrown behind him, but still, something you should catch), I liked what he brought to the table.  Any sort of production we get from the tight ends should be gravy (so long as they’re doing their jobs blocking), but if he can be a real weapon offensively, that’d be HUGE for our passing game.

There was a nice catch by Stringfellow and a couple good catches by Moore for the back-end of the receiving corps.  All in all, I thought our targets looked good.

Rasheem Green is probably the talk of the day defensively.  This pass rush looks as pathetic as I’ve ever seen it, and I’m sure he did most of his damage against backups, but nevertheless even THIS was more than I was expecting out of Green as a rookie.  I kinda expected him to look lost and overwhelmed even in the pre-season, so to see him really stand out as the best pass rusher on this team last night is an encouraging sign for his first season in the league.

Also promising:  Shaquem Griffin.  He didn’t make every single play, but boy was he all over the place!  He led the game with 9 tackles and had a tackle for loss mixed in as well.

I thought Akeem King really showed out in getting some extended playing time.  He had a nice pass breakup, showed some really good coverage overall, and even though he had that helmet penalty on special teams, I really don’t think it was totally his fault!  You could see on replay, he tried moving his head out of the way and leading with his shoulder, but the offensive guy lowered HIS head and yet it’s the defensive guy’s fault.  I think that’s a collosal load of bullshit and something the NFL really needs to adjust.  I’m with you 100% when it comes to getting rid of helmet-to-helmet hits and avoiding hitting guys in the head overall, but when it’s the offensive guy putting himself in harm’s way, I mean, how is the defender supposed to avoid it?  We’re teaching all these defensive guys to see the play and keep his head up and all of that; why aren’t we teaching the offensive guys the same thing?  I feel like a high percentage of these hits are the fault of the offense, and no one’s doing a damn thing about it.

Let’s Talk About Competitions

You know I love me a good punter competition!  Of course, the main downside is that you’ve got to see the incumbent half the time (to keep up appearances, I suppose) and give him the first opportunity (because he is the veteran and whatnot).  The other big downside is that you kind of have to root for your offense to totally suck, which obviously makes for boring football to watch.

I thought, you know, Jon Ryan was fine.  I wish him well and I hope another team snaps him up and he punts in this league for many more years to come.  But, I’m ready to just hand the keys over to Michael Dickson right now, because he was phenomenal!  He’s got that ball BOOMING and it doesn’t even look like he’s trying all that hard!  I feel like he could punt it the entire length of the football field, and at some point, when we’re backed way up in our own endzone, I want to see him unleash a furious hellscape of a punt that makes us all simultaneously cream in our pants.

As for the kickers, way too early to tell.  I want this battle to go to the bitter end.  Janikowski made both of his extra points; Myers made his 43-yard field goal.

Finally, I’m just going to bypass all the more interesting competitions (I thought all the RBs looked good, except of course for C.J. Prosise who – SUR-PRISE SUR-PRISE SUR-PRISE – missed the game with an injury) and talk about the backup QBs.  Austin Davis is almost certainly going to win that #2 job, and he moved the ball pretty well on his first drive of the game, but GOD DAMN did that interception in the endzone leave a bitter taste in my mouth.  I was thrilled to see him on the sidelines coming out of halftime.

As for Alex McGough, he was definitely Captain Checkdown, but what do you expect from a 7th round QB playing in his first NFL game?  I thought the backup offensive line did him no favors.  He showed good mobility, but all too often I found myself SCREAMING at him, “THROW IT AWAY!”  He ultimately took two too many sacks when he had clear opportunities to throw it out of bounds and live to fight another day, and that’s ultimately on him.

He also had that one scramble play that went for a HUGE gain to Stringfellow (who was erroneously flagged for offensive PI – which, I guess you have to say it was pre-season for the refs too, because they looked pretty bad on occasion), which goes to show you this kid has moxie and a lot of potential to be maybe a Doug Flutie type of player.  I still think Davis has the clear lead, but I’m not TOTALLY going to write off Mr. McGough.

Other Things That Caught My Eye (In A Bad Way)

I was disappointed in something I thought would be a strength for this team:  its depth.  Coming out of the draft, I thought – even though our top-flight talent wasn’t what it was in this team’s prime – we at least had much better guys on this roster from players 54-90.  But, that proved to be wishful thinking on my part.

Obviously, a number of starters were out injured (notably Frank Clark, Dion Jordan, Byron Maxwell, and Doug Baldwin), but I pegged this as a team that would dominate the 4th quarters of pre-season games (i.e. our third stringers are better than your third stringers), and that just wasn’t the case last night.

I thought the pass defense was a little lacking, for good reason.  Tre Flowers was the starter opposite Shaquill Griffin, and he had predictable rookie mistakes.  He showed some promise, but he was also getting picked on pretty regularly.  The good thing is, he’ll likely have ample opportunities to grow through some of these pains the next three weeks.

I saw a ball get completed in front of Shaquill Griffin that I can guarantee you Richard Sherman (if healthy) would’ve broken up.  Look, right or wrong, I’m going to be comparing every play that goes his way to Sherm in his prime; I’m sorry, that’s just what happens when you replace a legend.  What’s His Name had to replace Dan Marino when he retired, and look at where he is now!  (forgotten).  Other than that one catch, I thought Griffin looked fine, but it’s something I’m going to monitor very closely.

I thought our linebackers looked pretty terrible in that first quarter, as you saw the Colts throwing to WIDE OPEN running backs on the regular.  K.J. Wright got beat, Bobby Wagner got beat; guys looked like they were out of position; and quite frankly guys looked like they were ill-prepared for a quarterback coming off of a year-plus out of football for a shoulder injury.  I mean, what did you expect?  Andrew Luck to sling the ball 50 yards down field?  OF COURSE he was going to throw quick, short passes!  We should’ve been on top of that.

I also didn’t love what I saw out of Austin Calitro, backing up Bobby Wagner, but you know, he’s an undrafted rookie playing behind an All Pro, so I won’t get my panties all in a wad.  He has a long way to go; I just pray to the high heavens that Wagner never gets injured.

As I predicted, this team kind of got pushed around on 3rd/4th downs early in the game.  The Colts were ultimately held to field goals most of the time, but nevertheless they were able to put up some pretty sustained drives throughout (especially their starters).  Need to find a way to get off the field.

The backup O-Line looked as miserable as I remember from the last three years.  While the starters looked GREAT, the backups leave a lot to be desired.  It also doesn’t help that our two backup right tackles – Jamarco Jones and Isaiah Battle – left the game with some serious-looking injuries.  One to the knee, one looking to be a high ankle sprain.  These were the two guys pushing Germain Ifedi for that starting right tackle spot, so this is probably the worst news of the night.  Ifedi might be better than he was last year, but I still don’t like the idea of him winning the job by default.

Pre-Pre-Season Preview: Seahawks Special Teams

Aside from digging into the various news stories, I’ve largely neglected talking about the Seahawks by design:  2017 was a bitter pill to swallow.  After such a sustained stretch of brilliance, this team was a slog to cover last year; but, they’ve jettisoned a lot of aging veterans, brought in fresh blood throughout the organization, and I would argue there’s some reasons to be optimistic (even though my default prediction is that this team will win anywhere from 7-9 games; everything would have to go perfectly in our favor to get to 10 wins or more, and when does THAT ever happen?).

So, with precious few weeks remaining until the pre-season games kick things off, I’ve got a quickie series of posts where I’ll look at the 7 areas of this team as they’re set up right now:

Without further ado, let’s talk about the Seahawks’ Special Teams.

Kickers

Sebastian Janikowski vs. Jason Myers.  The sure-footed veteran on a 1-year prove-it deal following an injury-riddled 2017 vs. a booming-legged youngster who’s bounced around the league, but has yet to put it all together.

Any way you slice it, the Seahawks are MUCH improved over the fucking disaster that was Blair Walsh.  Though, I guess we have to wonder:  are we better off than we would’ve been had we re-signed Steven Hauschka?

I still stand behind the decision to move on from Hauschka, even though he killed it for Buffalo (including a perfect 29/29 on his PATs after missing a whopping 6 with the Seahawks in 2016).  With kickers, so much of it is a mental game, which is why Walsh is out of the league now.  He missed that playoff field goal with the Vikings (against the Seahawks) and never recovered.  Hauschka essentially lost his job in Seattle because of a bunch of missed extra points and field goals (including that infuriating 6-6 tie in Arizona in 2016).  Who’s to say he didn’t need a fresh start, across the country and in the opposite conference, a lot closer to his hometown than Seattle?  Kickers can be volatile – much like bullpen arms in baseball – by being hot one year and a disaster the next, with no rhyme or reason for either; but he was looking for a pricey, long-term extension and given his performance in 2016, I don’t think it was the smartest play to keep him.

There is, however, something to be said for investing in your kicker, though, and not just dumpster diving for scraps.  So many games hinge on a field goal here, or an extra point there, that if you end up with a dud like Walsh, it can mean the difference between going 9-7 and missing out on the playoffs, or going 11-5 (or even 12-4) and maybe winning the division.

As for this battle, I don’t see the Seahawks making a rash decision here.  I think they want to solve their kicking riddle for the long term, not just patch things over temporarily only to have to fix things all over again in a year’s time.  As such, I think Myers is going to be given every opportunity to win this job, and I think it’s the appropriate move.  I mostly think that because I don’t believe this is a playoff team (I certainly don’t believe it’s a championship team, not with all the loaded NFC teams this year), and I also don’t think that Janikowski has a lot left in the tank.

But, I do think it’s a true position battle.  Janikowski has the edge because he can be relied upon.  Also, he has some cachet as a former first round draft pick and future hall of famer.  You don’t throw him away if Myers has a bad pre-season because you have a hunch that he could be the kicker of the future.  All things being equal, I think Myers wins the job.  Short of that, Janikowski is your man and you look to solve this riddle next year.

As I said before, this is all a vast improvement over 2017, as at worst you have a guy in Janikowski who will at the very least make the ones he’s supposed to make.  For that reason alone, I give this grade a B+.

Punters

Feels weird having a punter battle, but here we are.

This feels like less of a battle and more like a lamb going to slaughter, though.  Michael Dickson was widely considered to be the best punter in the draft this year and we traded up in the fifth round to grab him.  Jon Ryan is heading into his 13th season, is coming off of a down year, and is making considerably more money.  Dickson would have to totally fall on his face to lose this job.

From what I’ve seen in videos and read about online, Dickson looks like the real fucking deal!  Look, I love Jon Ryan and what he’s done for this team; he’s the MVP for crying out loud!  But, Dickson could be one of the best punters in the game, and right out of the gate!

It sounds idiotic to be excited about seeing a punter in the pre-season, but I have to admit, among all the newcomers we brought in this off-season, he’s near the top of my list.  I mean, the first time he’s able to down a punt inside the five yard line, I guarantee I’m going to scream and yell and jump out of my seat, giving high fives to all the confused people around me in that moment.  I can’t wait.

Grade:  A+

Coverage Units

This one is pretty hard to project, because it involves so many of the players at the back-end of the roster.  And because I don’t really know any of the stats or sabermetrics dealing with kickoff and punt coverage units.

I do know this:  the Seahawks have some horses on this roster.  The athleticism in our special teams units should be as good as they’ve been since 2013 or 2014.  Obviously, the name that sticks out the most is Shaquem Griffin.  We’re all sitting here wondering how he’s going to fit into the defense (will they play him at SAM, at WILL, at LEO, or possibly move him to safety?), but one thing we know for certain is he’s destined to be one of our most important special teamers.  How do we know that?  Because his twin brother – as a rookie – became our starting cornerback last year out of the gate.  Shaquem is just as fast, is slightly bigger & stronger, and all he’s missing is one of his hands (which could theoretically be a strength when it comes to shedding blockers to make tackles).  I mean, just imagine if BOTH of the Griffin brothers are playing special teams!

The Seahawks may be lacking in the superstars they once had, but I would argue our depth is stronger than it’s been in three or four years.  With that being the case, competition to make this roster is going to be as tough as it’s been in a long time, and that obviously means guys are going to have to be rockstars on special teams to get on the roster for week 1.

That trickle-down effect should mean great coverage, on top of the fact that Dickson is elite at getting hangtime (while still getting great distance) on his punts, and whoever wins the kicking battle is sure to boom a good percentage of kickoffs into the endzone.

Grade:  A

Return Game

As we’re deeper than ever in our coverage units, so are we deeper than ever in our return game.  Tyler Lockett is obviously the returning starter.  He’s coming off a full year being healthy – after being injured late in 2016 – and was really looking good by season’s end.  That’s a great sign as we head into 2018, as presumably he’s as strong as ever.  Likewise, going into a contract year, he’s going to be hungry to earn a big extension.  I expect great things.

And, if we opt to go in another direction – particularly on kickoffs, where rule changes could prove it beneficial to have multiple returners standing back there – Rashaad Penny was a top-notch returner in college.  That’s on top of having a number of receivers who could be up to the task, depending on who wins one of those final roster spots.

Not only do we have depth, but we have ELITE depth.  It wouldn’t shock me in the slightest to see a lot of long returns (and touchdown returns) contribute to some important wins.

Grade:  A

There are lots of question marks on both sides of the football for the Seahawks, but Special Teams will be the without-a-doubt #1 strength of this team in 2018, mark my words.  A’s across the board!

I Feel Renewed Excitement About The Seahawks: So Why Am I So Down On Them?

I’m on record as having the world’s biggest hard-on for the draft haul the Seahawks just brought in.  There are – what appears to be – fantastic players and inspiring stories up and down that list of players.  Rashaad Penny looks like he could potentially come in and start right away at running back – a position of tremendous need for this team.  Will Dissly looks like he can come in and contribute right away as a blocking tight end – another position of tremendous need for this team.  Michael Dickson looks like he can come in and not only be our starting punter, but be a remarkable improvement at that spot.  Tre Flowers looks like a guy who could develop into a viable starting cornerback opposite Shaquill Griffin as early as maybe midseason in his rookie year.  Shaquem Griffin looks like he can make an immediate impact on special teams, with an outside chance of contributing in various sub packages on defense as a linebacker/safety/pass rushing hybrid.  Guys like Rasheem Green and Jamarco Jones look like they have tremendous upside and while they’ll likely need a year to develop, it’s not outside of the realm of possibility that they do develop into eventual starters as a defensive lineman and a left tackle respectively.  And that’s not even getting into the countless undrafted guys I don’t know about; you figure one or two of them have a chance of turning into something really useful.

It’s really a lot of fun to think about.  Obviously, not all of them are going to pan out, but that’s not the point.  Right now, the sky is the limit for each and every one of them!  And, what’s more, we’ll get to enjoy a year where more young guys are going to get an opportunity on this team than they have since 2011 and 2012!  We might not be a championship-calibre team today, or at all this year, but if things go right, it’s not crazy to say that we’re close to being right back to the team we were from 2012-2014.

So, why am I so down on 2018?  Why am I sitting here talking about 8-8 this and 8-8 that?  Well, let’s break it down.  Am I wildly off base?  Have they done enough to fill the holes they needed to fill?  The holes that rendered this team a 9-7 embarrassment in 2017?

I’d start by saying on offense, they’re about the same as they were last year.  Let’s start with the skill positions.

Quarterback – Obviously, Russell Wilson is here.  He’s a Top 5-calibre quarterback in this league, and as a result your team is never really out of any game.  As long as he’s healthy, this team will never truly bottom out.  8-8 or 7-9 feels like the floor, like many of those middling New Orleans Saints teams back when their defense was a disaster, their running game was so-so, and it all fell on Drew Brees’ shoulders.

Wide Receiver – Your top two guys are back:  Doug Baldwin & Tyler Lockett.  Doug is Doug, he’s amazing.  Tyler is not coming off of an injury (which is good) and he’s playing for a new contract after the season’s over (which is even better).  If there was ever a chance to see Lockett at his best, this is the time.  Paul Richardson is gone, replaced by Jaron Brown.  You figure the speed is there, but this still feels like a downgrade to me.  Can Brown win those 1-on-1 battles that Wilson so often puts his receivers in?  Those jump balls that P-Rich or Golden Tate used to come up with, as if out of a science fiction movie?  Wilson has never been the type of quarterback to launch balls deep down field and take advantage of his receivers’ over-the-top speed, and I don’t see why that should change now.  Beyond the top 3 guys, it’s a real smorgasbord of question marks.  Amara Darboh?  David Moore?  Tanner McEvoy?  Marcus Johnson (who we got in the Philly deal for Michael Bennett)?  One of the litany of undrafted guys and holdovers we’ll have in camp?  I’m not super impressed, but maybe I’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Tight End – In the WR group, I think you have to include Jimmy Graham, because for all intents and purposes, he WAS a wide receiver.  You take a BIG hit, particularly in the red zone, with the loss of Jimmy Graham.  Say what you will about the other areas of his game (and believe me, I have and I will continue to do so), but he was a beast in a 1-on-1 situation near the goalline when Russell could just chuck it over there and more often than not come up with a TD (yes, there were more than his fair share of drops, but 10 TDs in 2017 is 10 TDs; I don’t care how long it took for this offense to finally figure out how to use him).  Who’s going to make up that deficit?  As for our other tight ends, we have Nick Vannett (who has shown you nothing in 2 years), Ed Dickson (pretty much Just A Guy, brought in via free agency; he’s essentially a Luke Willson replacement, as far as offensive production is concerned), Tyrone Swoops (who might not even make the team; still feels like a project to me), and newly drafted Will Dissly (who I believe will eventually turn into a useful offensive weapon, but not as a rookie, and nowhere near the league of a Jimmy Graham, from a pass-catching threat).  I expect these guys to be vastly improved blockers over someone like Graham, though, which brings me to my next point.

Running Back – To make up for the loss of Jimmy Graham, it’s going to have to come from the running game.  For what it’s worth, I do think this will be improved over 2017, because how much lower can you go than rock bottom?  The question, as always, will be who stays healthy.  Penny looks like a potential stud.  Chris Carson is there to push him every step of the way, but he’s coming off of a pretty devastating injury, and who’s to say he won’t get injured again this year?  C.J. Prosise is even more injury prone, and in my opinion far from a lock to make this team.  Mike Davis and J.D. McKissic are just guys.  Reliable, dependable guys, but just guys.  Nothing special.  Nothing really explosive about them (McKissic is obviously a faster guy, better in open space – more of a receiving back than a real, physical running back).  We need Penny or Carson to pan out here, right away, otherwise we’re in a MUCH worse position offensively than we were in 2017.

Offensive Line – And, last but not least.  Or maybe it is least.  Tough to say.  The obvious outcry from most fans and pundits alike, is how this team has neglected the offensive line this year, the bane of 2015-2017’s existence.  I’m on record as not seeing this as huge of a deal as in years past.  Maybe it’s fatigue over obsessing about them every year.  But, I like Duane Brown.  I think starting from Day 1 with him in the fold is nothing but an improvement, over trying to learn the system on the fly in mid-season 2017.  I hear Ethan Pocic is bigger and stronger than last year.  As a rookie, he got valuable experience.  Now that it’s not all new and insane for him, he should be able to settle in and anchor this line at the left guard spot for the foreseeable future.  My hopes are high for this kid!  Justin Britt is a fine center.  I’m sure he’ll continue to be the rock and the leader this line needs.  D.J. Fluker looks like a formidable run blocker at right guard, as well as someone with a lot to prove, with a high pedigree.  Obviously, Luke Joeckel had a lot to prove, with a high pedigree as well, but I dunno.  He’s cheaper, for one.  For another, he’s not coming off of an ACL.  Hopefully, he won’t miss a huge chunk of games in the middle of the season for a bogus cleanup surgery.  I don’t know if this team will ever have an elite pass-protecting O-Line, but if Fluker can open up some running lanes, then fuck it.  Germain Ifedi is an obvious source of frustration for most fans, but I’ll say this:  a second year at the same position – that continuity – should do wonders for him.  And, if not, well this team has plenty of guys to push him for that starting job.  I like the depth along the O-Line an awful lot; there has to be SOMEONE on this team who will be an improvement over our right tackle performance of 2017.  Maybe that someone is 2018 Ifedi; I’ve heard of crazier things before.

Bottom line on offense is:  if the O-Line can’t get the running game going, we’re fucked any way you slice it.  If it can’t do that, it sure as shit won’t protect well for Russell Wilson, and if that’s the case, it’s pretty easy to write off this year as an 8-8 of a disaster.  However, if Pocic & Ifedi take leaps forward in their development, if the veterans can stay healthy, and if we can get this running game going again, there’s reason for optimism that the offense could be vastly superior to what it’s been in recent post-Marshawn Lynch seasons.  A lot of “ifs” there, but that’s what we have to work with.

That all having been said, I’d say the bulk of my concern rests on the defensive side of the ball.  Richard Sherman, gone.  Michael Bennett, gone.  Cliff Avril, gone.  Kam Chancellor, likely gone.  Sheldon Richardson, gone.  Malik McDowell, idiot.  Earl Thomas, disgruntled (but playing for a new contract, so you never know).  I’ll say this:  the defense wasn’t a total and complete disaster last year, but the more we lost our star players, the worse it was.  This year, we’re looking at a lot of new blood, and we have to find out if these guys are going to mesh, or if there’s going to be a lot of growing pains.

Defensive Line – Frank Clark and Dion Jordan are your starting ends, for all intents and purposes.  You can play them anywhere, but those are essentially your replacements for Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett.  I like Clark, but I liked him a lot more as a #3 option behind those two proven studs.  Will he have another level to his game when he’s the #1 dude?  I sure hope so.  I also liked what little I saw from Dion Jordan last year, but will he be able to carry that over?  Not only what he did then, but a lot more considering the presumed increase in snaps?  Beyond those guys, Green is a rookie (and he’s green) who probably won’t play more than on a rotational basis, in obvious passing situations.  The other rookie is a late-round project.  Marcus Smith was a nice player last year, but is he really a #3 guy?  That feels like a STEEP drop-off from Frank Clark last year.

As for the tackles, it looks like the bulk of our talent resides there.  I love Jarran Reed and Naz Jones; I particularly think the sky is the limit for Jones.  We brought in those two vets from the Vikings who should be fine pros.  There’s an undrafted rookie whose name I forget – out of Texas – who looks like a run-stuffing prodigy.  Then, there’s Quinton Jefferson, who is playing for a job and might be axed out based on the level of talent here.  I think the D-Line will be great when it comes to stuffing the run (which is important, in case anyone forgets the 3rd & 11 against Jacksonville last year, as well as all the yards Todd Gurley got against us).  But, I have a lot of doubts about their ability to rush the passer.  Hopefully a tighter rotation – fewer snaps all around – will keep guys fresher and more prone for late-game success, but I dunno.

Linebacker – The obvious best position group of the bunch.  Bobby Wagner is an All Pro, K.J. Wright is a Pro Bowler.  They won’t leave the field – barring injuries – and they’ll be the glue that holds this defense together.  The big question is:  can they help out in pass rushing?  Both of those guys are quality blitzers, but they predominantly play out in the receiving routes.  Can Barkevious Mingo or Shaquem Griffin – on the strong side – contribute to moving the quarterback off his spot, hitting him, and otherwise leading to more turnovers?  That’ll be huge, but again, I have my doubts for 2018.

Safety – Earl Thomas and Bradley McDougald figure to be your starters.  Earl is amazing, Bradley is fine.  Tedric Thompson and Delano Hill are the rookies from last year, so hopefully we’ll see a big jump from them, as you figure we’re going to need them.  There are others on the roster, but I don’t know much about them, and therefore don’t expect much from them.  Shaquem Griffin is a wild card here too, as it would be interesting to see him in a run-stuffing/Kam Chancellor type role.

Cornerback – Shaquill Griffin and Byron Maxwell figure to be your starters on the outside, with Justin Coleman as your primary nickel corner.  We all liked what Shaquill did for us last year, but I’d still like to see some improvement in his Sophomore campaign.  I’d like to see more in the way of turnovers, and more in the way of just eliminating his side as an option for opposing quarterbacks.  They’re going to continue to test him this year, so he needs to prove to them that it’s a bad fucking idea.  Maxwell, on the other hand, is another year older, and while he knows the system, he’s nobody’s idea of a long-term solution.  He’s not a lockdown corner, he never really was.  In this system, opposite Richard Sherman in his prime, with Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor in their primes, Byron Maxwell was a decent option as a 4th member of the LOB.  But, in this mishmash we’ve got now, I don’t know if a disgruntled Earl Thomas and a Bradley McDougald have what it takes to compensate for Maxwell’s weaknesses.  If he’s not punching the ball out of receivers’ hands for fumbles, what good is he?  I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if he loses his job at some point, or even gets cut at the end of the pre-season.  I’d like to see some of the younger guys win that job right now, than deal with a guy in Maxwell who isn’t going to get any better.

Bottom line on defense is:  there’s very little certainty.  Fortunately, Pete Carroll is a defensive-minded head coach, and one of the best going in the game today.  So, if anyone can whip these players into stars, it’s him.  But, make no mistake, this team can’t win without a really good defense.  I’ve been waiting for the offense to take the next step and start carrying this team, but I don’t think it’s ever going to happen.  And, quite frankly, with Pete Carroll at the helm, he’d never stand for that in the first place.  He’s going to live and die by his defense, his running game, and his desire to dominate time of possession.  Period.  You can say all you want about Russell Wilson being elite and all the rest, but Pete Carroll is never going to allow this team to be a 1-man show.  Ergo, if this team – in 2018 – is going to make the playoffs or win the division, we’re going to need to see a lot of production from a lot of defensive players we’re not very familiar with just yet.  Yeah, Clark and Jordan and Wagner and Wright and Griffin and Earl are going to have to play to the utmost of their abilities, but all those other guys I talked about – and a lot of other guys I didn’t mention – are going to have to step up and make big impacts seemingly out of nowhere.  How much faith do I have in that happening?  I dunno.  Seems to me, if it does happen, it’ll happen gradually.  I think best (realistic) case scenario is that this team is MUCH better in the second half than it is in the first half.  I think there’ll be a lot of early-season kinks to work out, and I don’t know if this team is talented enough – from top to bottom – to overcome a big early-season deficit in wins & losses.

Special Teams – One area I think this team has drastically improved is on the special teams.  I think there’s nowhere to go but up in the field goal kicking game, and if Janikowski can prove himself, he’ll be a welcome edition.  Otherwise, I have no problem with the younger Jason Myers; I’m adopting an Anyone But Blair Walsh mentality, and stocks are SOARING!  In the punting game, we have the opportunity to not only get younger, cheaper, and better, but possibly REMARKABLY better.  If this guy is the best punting prospect to come out of college in years, we could be talking about a Top 5 punter in this league.  Which, yeah, not enough to get my panties into a total wad, but little by little a guy like that can make a dramatic difference over the course of a season.  And, in our coverage units, while I don’t think they were terrible last year, I see the influx of speedy, athletic guys as only a plus in this area.  Someone like Neiko Thorpe – who has been a necessity in recent years – might be a luxury here, who could either help put this team’s coverage unit over the top, or be a cap casualty because we have so many other guys just as good as him!  I hope he gets better as a cornerback on defense, because he might need it to keep a job.

To all those people who said we were just a couple shitty kicks away from being 11-5 last year, I’d like to point to all those defensive breakdowns and the complete and utter lack of a running game as to the REAL reasons why that team underachieved.  If we’re going to get back to being that 11-5 type of team, it’s going to require vast improvements in those areas to succeed.  That having been said, it couldn’t hurt to have a kicker who can actually make the kicks he’s supposed to make, could it?

Seahawks Traded Up, Drafted A Punter (and 6 other guys, including Shaquem Griffin)

Saturday was a tremendously fun day for yours truly.  Woke up with the house to myself, had a Red Lobster lunch with my mom, went bowling in the afternoon, drank some beers, played some poker, drank some more beers, played some late-night spades, ate some Cloverleaf pizza.  All in all, couldn’t ask for a better time.

Also, the Seahawks had their best and most productive day of the NFL Draft.  After picking up a running back, and a defensive lineman, they made the bulk of their selections on Day 3, and looked to fill a number of holes on this roster.

  • 4th Round – Will Dissly, TE
  • 5th Round – Shaquem Griffin, LB
  • 5th Round – Tre Flowers, CB
  • 5th Round – Michael Dickson, P
  • 5th Round – Jamarco Jones, OT
  • 6th Round – Jake Martin, LB/DE
  • 7th Round – Alex McGough, QB

I’m obviously a big fan of Will Dissly.  Many pegged him as the best blocking tight end in the draft, so he’s a natural fit for what the Seahawks are trying to accomplish.  I also think he’ll develop into a better pass catcher than people give him credit for.  But, as it is, no one is going to take him seriously as a downfield threat, so that could open him up for some better matchups.  Regardless, I don’t think the tight end spot needs to be this great offensive weapon; simply blocking the guys he’s supposed to block will make Will Dissly a million times better than Jimmy Graham ever was.

The obvious Story of the Draft was Shaquem Griffin and where he’d end up.  The fact that he ended up on the Seahawks – re-joining his twin brother – is icing on the cake.  He’s fast, he can rush the passer, he’s a playmaker.  Those are the first three things I think about when I think about Shaquem Griffin.  Obviously, having just the one hand probably kept him off of a lot of draft boards, though the token reason for his falling into the fifth round had to do with him being undersized to play linebacker.  Nevertheless, when you’re as talented as Griffin, teams will find a way to utilize you on the field.  If nothing else, he should be a dynamic special teams player.  You can play him to rush the passer, you can convert him to a box safety, you can keep him at linebacker to cover just about any running back in the league.  I like his versatility and determination; I think he’ll be a great Seahawk.

The Tre Flowers pick certainly got buried in all the hullabaloo over Griffin.  Flowers is tall, with super long arms.  He played safety in college, but it sounds like the Seahawks are looking to convert him to cornerback.  Maybe as a sideline defender a la Richard Sherman?  I don’t know if very many people are talking about this guy as an option, but I’ll be curious to hear what he brings in Training Camp.  Hopefully a huge chip on his shoulder.

The Seahawks then proceeded to trade one of their seventh round picks to move up in the fifth round to take Michael Dickson, consensus Best Punter In The Draft.  Looks like Jon Ryan’s days are numbered, which is probably for the best.  If you can save money at the punter position, while locking it down for many years to come, I think you have to do it.  If Dickson falters, though, people might be laughing at this decision for years to come.  You can’t keep two punters and you can’t waste a fifth rounder on one you need to cut right away, so this guy HAS to be good from the start!

Jamarco Jones is an interesting left tackle out of Ohio State who was apparently good on the field, but really sucked at the Combine.  He may or may not have been injured, but either way, I don’t give a fuck about Combine numbers.  I give a fuck about how he looks when he’s on the field.  If this is a guy we can groom to be the heir apparent to Duane Brown, then no one will ever remember what he did at the Combine.

I don’t know a whole lot about Jake Martin.  He could be a speed rush option, in the vein of Cliff Avril.  Or, he could be a strongside linebacker, in the vein of Bruce Irvin.  He’ll have to make his way on special teams, so if that doesn’t work out for him, I can’t imagine he’ll hack it.

Alex McGough is a seventh round quarterback.  Someone on TV or radio pronounced his name as Magoo, which is fun.  I won’t hold my breath on this guy, though.

All in all, a lot of interesting pieces.  Here’s hoping the team can develop them into starters in this league.