Nobody Wants To Hear About My Fantasy Team 2020: And Tua All A Good Night

There are plenty of reasons to hate fantasy football, but I think the sheer randomness of it all really gets to me. MOSTLY, that randomness goes against me, because I make poor decisions, or because the fantasy football gods hate me. But, sometimes – in spite of myself – I manage to prevail when I have no business doing so. Among this week’s five winners, I had the lowest total points. Yet, my opponent – Space Forcin’ – underperformed to such a massive degree that I ended up winning pretty comfortably. Normally, the thought of sweating out a Patrick Mahomes Monday Night Football performance is enough to want to crawl under a rock and die (rather than watch my slow, inevitable demise unfold on television), but this time it was as worry-free as it gets!

Nobody Beats The Wiz won 147.39 to 117.85. I ended up getting A LOT of garbage-time points out of Carson Wentz (who is quickly becoming the new king of Garbage Time), who led the way with 35.55. Daniel Jones seemingly got all 15 of his points in the first quarter, then did nothing the rest of the way. A.J. Brown led the way among my receivers with 22.6, and Clyde Edwards-Helaire put in a strong pre-Le’Veon Bell performance (who will be joining the Chiefs this week, to take snaps away from my first round draft pick, to my utter dismay) with 20.9.

Odell Beckham Jr. led the way among my disappointments, with 4.5. I figured he – and by extension, the Browns – would struggle against the Steelers (and they did), but I had hoped for some Garbage Time Magic there that never came. The Indianapolis defense also didn’t do much for me, until salvaging things at the very end with a cool 8 points. Also, while CeeDee Lamb’s 13.44 isn’t totally awful, Andy Dalton – Dak Prescott’s replacement at quarterback – IS and will be dragging down the entire Cowboys offense with him (with an assist from Ezekiel Elliott’s fumbling issues).

Before the weekend last week, I made a (hopefully) significant move for Nobody Beats The Wiz’s future. Tua Tagovailoa, the rookie backup for the Dolphins, was out there as a free agent; I could have put in a waiver claim for him, but my waiver status was #4 (which is as high as it’s been all season), so I kinda wanted to save that for something more urgent. In the end, no one claimed Tua (I’m really going to have to get used to spelling out that guy’s last name at some point), so I got him (dropping the Chargers’ defense).

At the time, I had no idea if Tua would ever play this year; I knew the Dolphins wanted to take things slowly with him, since he’s coming off of an injury in college, not to mention the fact that he’s a rookie. I always figured Ryan Fitzpatrick would eventually show his true colors (or get injured) and Tua would assume the starting role, but FitzMagic has killed it for the most part. With week 7 being their BYE week, I was a little discouraged, because I really didn’t see them making the move now, even though this would be the best and most natural time to do it. The Dolphins are 3-3; it’s far too early to give up on a season when 7 of 16 AFC teams will make the playoffs.

But, to my shock and delight, on Tuesday they announced Tua would be taking over the rest of the way! I was right, this is the best and most natural time to do it – giving him two weeks to get acclimated to being the top guy – and I’m heartened that they’re essentially sticking to their plan. Tua was drafted to be their Quarterback of the Future, so they might as well get to work in seeing what they have, and drawing up an offense around his talents to best help him succeed.

I’m probably going to have to be in it for the long haul here. Tua was SO GOOD at Alabama. Patrick Mahomes only played in one game as a rookie – Week 17 – and not only did he turn into the superstar we see before us, but Space Forcin’ made the bold move to make him one of his keepers with just one game’s worth of experience. Some might say that’s idiotic, but I can CERTAINLY be that stupid! At least I should have more of a resume to look at before I have to make my keeper decisions for next year. But, I just don’t see any other alternative (unless I luck out, get a top draft pick again next year, and have the honor of picking up Trevor Lawrence). You gotta take some chances in life to get what you want! And I want that fucking fantasy football trophy!

That wasn’t the end of my moves heading into Week 7. I’ve got a minor BYE week concern, with Indianapolis off this week. Speaking of how stupid I can be, Buffalo’s defense was just sitting out there! I could’ve had them for nothing, and they’re playing the Jets (the most inept offensive team I’ve ever seen)! I don’t love using my waiver status on a defense, but I feel I have little choice. There also weren’t many great options at my choosing. I made one waiver claim, the Rams’ defense (hosting the Bears on Monday Night), and had to drop Cam Akers. I knew this day would probably come; it’s hard to hold onto someone who never plays when you only have five bench spots and so many BYE weeks to contend with throughout the football season. I’ll try to get him back at some point, but I’m obviously less bullish on him ever being one of my keepers heading into next year.

My opponent for this week is COVID Bubble Boys, the consensus worst team in the league at the moment, with a 1-5 record and the fewest points scored by a wide margin. He was also my partner in the Top Two of the fantasy draft this year, picking #1 overall to my #2. I have him to thank for my having Clyde Edwards-Helaire (he ended up taking Drew Brees with the first pick, which I know from experience in my other league, has been quite a mixed bag). On top of his team being so poor, I also have the tremendous fortune of dodging last year’s MVP, as Lamar Jackson is on BYE this week. Boy, with all of this great news, that SURELY seems like a bad omen of things to come! Here’s my lineup:

  • Carson Wentz (QB) vs. NYG
  • Daniel Jones (QB) @ PHI
  • A.J. Brown (WR) vs. PIT
  • Odell Beckham Jr. (WR) @ CIN
  • Ezekiel Elliott (RB) @ WAS
  • Josh Jacobs (RB) vs. TB
  • Noah Fant (TE) vs. KC
  • Deebo Samuel (WR) @ NE
  • Harrison Butker (K) @ DEN
  • L.A. Rams (DEF) vs. CHI

I don’t LOVE seeing both of my quarterbacks participating in the Thursday Night game together! Those games are notorious one-sided shit-shows, so I’m expecting either Wentz or (more likely) Jones to really stink up the joint.

I have decided to break up my 3-headed running back hydra for now, thanks to Le’Veon Bell. I imagine the Chiefs are going to want to work him in, to get used to the offense. Also, Denver has a pretty good defense (according to Yahoo!, they give up the fewest points to opposing running backs), so I don’t see a lot of upside there. Not that I’m a huge believer that Jacobs can carve up the Bucs’ defense, but you never know.

My wide receivers have all sorts of terrible matchups this week. Once again, I have a receiver going up against the Steelers in Brown; surely the Titans will be able to do what the Browns couldn’t. Since I don’t have a lot of faith in the Giants on Thursday night, it seems doubly idiotic to start Slayton, even though the Eagles’ defense is pretty inept, and Slayton seems to rise to the occasion in primetime; but he’s also nursing a nagging foot injury, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s out of the game by the end of the first quarter. Also, will Baker Mayfield play this week? Will he be effective? The Bengals don’t have much of a defense, so it’s hard to sit Odell Beckham, but let’s just say I don’t have the highest of confidence either. It’s further troubling that I don’t have options I like on my bench any better. CeeDee Lamb is going to be downgraded a bit, as I play the matchups with Dallas’ offense. I can’t trust Andy Dalton to hit him in stride as far as I can throw him, and I still expect the Cowboys to try to run the ball more. Finally, Deebo Samuel does look healthy – he scored 18 points for my bench last week – but I would’ve liked to give him another week before I thrust him into my lineup. He’s likely to draw New England’s top cornerback, but he seems to be pretty defender-proof (plus, I JUST don’t have any better alternatives).

Finally, with Noah Fant back and healthy (I hope), I’m free to waive Jimmy Graham. Don’t think the fact that I was 2-0 with Graham in my lineup didn’t weigh on my feeble mind; was he my good luck charm? Only time will tell!

Here’s what ol’ COVID Bubble Boys are bringing to the yard:

  • Matthew Stafford (QB) @ ATL
  • Drew Brees (QB) vs. CAR
  • Terry McLaurin (WR) vs. DAL
  • Kenny Golladay (WR) @ ATL
  • Mike Davis (RB) @ NO
  • Kenyan Drake (RB) vs. SEA
  • Eric Ebron (TE) @ TEN
  • Julio Jones (WR) vs. DET
  • Zane Gonzalez (K) vs. SEA
  • New England (DEF) vs. SF

Based on matchups alone, I think this will be the end of Nobody Beats The Wiz’s winning streak. Atlanta’s defense is awful, and I fully expect that game against the Lions to be a total shootout (so, look for huge days out of Stafford, Golladay, and Jones). Scary Terry is one of my favorite fantasy football players in recent years, and he was SNATCHED from me by COVID Bubble Boys in the draft, right before I was about to take him! I had him as a rookie last year and if he was on any other team with even a halfway competent quarterback, I would’ve gladly made him one of my keepers. As it is, as atrocious as they are in Washington, Scary Terry is still the go-to option on offense. The fact that they’re playing Dallas’ Swiss cheese defense makes him all the more potent. Then, there’s Drake going up against the Seahawks, the defense that never was. Mike Davis has been solid in place of Christian McCaffrey, and that offense is just conservative enough to feed Davis consistently. I don’t know how good the Saints’ defense is, but it wouldn’t shock me to see Davis hit the endzone a couple times.

Not only do I think I’m going to lose this game, but I think COVID Bubble Boys will finally bust out with a 200-point game (they are officially favored over me by around 7 points at the time of this writing). It would be only natural for Nobody Beats The Wiz, who has already had that happen twice before.

Mark this day! After six weeks, Nobody Beats The Wiz is 3-3 and in sixth place in the league! That’s good enough for the final playoff spot, in spite of the fact that I have the second-fewest total points. Like I said up top, fantasy football isn’t fair. I should be down there in the cellar, rolling around with COVID Bubble Boys for last place. Of course, odds are – if I keep putting up these putrid performances – I WILL be down there by season’s end! So, again, mark this day. Because I predict this will be Nobody Beats The Wiz’s high water mark on the season. It’s all surely downhill from here.

There’s always 2021 though. Tua, I need you! Please be my savior!

The 7th Most Important Seahawks Player After Russell Wilson: Chris Carson

Here is the Home Page for this series of posts.

You can’t really have this list for the Seahawks without throwing a running back on there. I mean, we like to run! It’s what we gotta do!

I’ll be really interested in how this season goes with respect to our running back rotation. Chris Carson is still the unquestioned #1 back – at least in my mind – but by all accounts Rashaad Penny will be more than just a traditional #2.

Penny was a disappointment in so many ways during his rookie season, not the least of which because he was selected in the first round of the draft, when most people would argue against taking a running back earlier than the 4th round. Teams can and do find great running backs all up and down the draft (Carson himself was a 7th round pick), so it seems silly to waste a first rounder when there might be a more capable starter or prospect on the board.

Then, Penny injured his hand and missed a bunch of the pre-season. Then, he didn’t really play all that well when he got in games, finishing third on the team in rushing behind veteran Mike Davis (less than 50 yards ahead of our quarterback). Penny had 2 rushing TDs and only one 100-yard game. He did flash his big-play potential a small handful of times, but clearly that’s not what you expect from a running back you deem to be good enough to be selected in the first round. When it came out recently that Penny was out of shape, and didn’t really take things all that seriously in his first year in the pros, that was sort of the final nail in the coffin. He’s largely been written off as a bust really before his career has even gotten started.

To his credit, he appears to have rededicated himself. Now that he knows what it takes, he’s eating better and working smarter. Whether that translates to increased production on the field is something we’ll have to wait to see. Either way, with Davis now playing for the Bears, there’s no one standing in his way from increased playing time.

This is a post about Carson, and I’ve spent most of the time talking about his backup; let’s fix that.

The hand injury, being a rookie, being out of shape, none of it really would’ve mattered because the main reason why Penny didn’t play as much as we expected is because Carson was clearly the best running back on this team. Indeed, I would argue he was one of the most dynamic and impactful running backs in the league. His knock has always been – dating back to his college days – staying healthy.

Carson, unfortunately, saw his rookie year in 2017 cut short due to injury, and the team ultimately never recovered. With such a nadir, the Seahawks almost had no choice but to target the running back position high in last year’s draft, if for nothing else than to reasonably ensure we’d have healthy bodies available. Thankfully, we saw a MOSTLY healthy season out of Carson, and reaped the benefits accordingly. 1,151 yards, 4.7 yards per carry average, and 9 TDs in 14 games. If you offered me that right now for 2019, I’d gladly accept. I feel like his ceiling COULD be higher, but ultimately I don’t think I’ll ever trust him to be healthy for a full 16-game season (and, for that reason, he’d be the last person I’d ever give a second contract to).

I also don’t believe the Seahawks are actively looking to take his ceiling much higher than what he did in 2018. Oh sure, they’d gladly have him healthy for the full slate, but if both he and Penny avoid injury, I really do see 2019 as being a 50/50 timeshare.

So, why didn’t I list both of these guys in the subject of this post? Because when it’s all said and done, whereas I have more trust in Penny staying healthy, I have more trust in Carson as an every-down back WHEN he’s healthy, and I have more belief in his big-play ability. When he’s on the field and doing his thing, this offense is completely energized in a way that the other running backs couldn’t possibly approach. If we’re talking about a Seahawks team that’s going to legitimately contend for a Super Bowl in 2019, we’re talking about a team with an MVP quarterback, with some emerging stars coming from out of nowhere on defense … and Chris Carson doing his best Beastmode impression.

Getting through the 2018 season without a huge injury to rehab might be the best thing for 2019 Chris Carson’s chances. Here’s hoping that he was able to build himself up to endure for the long haul.

Russell Wilson Will Be The NFL MVP For The 2019 Season

SCORCHING MOLTEN LAVA TAKE ALERT! This is one of those things where if I’m right, I’ll be crowing like a jackass for the rest of my life. And, if I’m wrong, then it’ll never be spoken of again.

Remember the time I predicted the Seahawks would beat the Broncos in the Super Bowl before the season started?

Remember the time before that when I predicted the Ravens would beat the 49ers in the Super Bowl just 1 week into the regular season?

I’ll leave it to the rest of you to find all the times I’ve been wrong, and go out on a limb to say I’m the greatest sports mind of our generation.

I don’t often do a lot of prognosticating on the NFL’s MVP award – or ANY MVP award, really – because I kind of don’t care about it. The only time a Seahawk has won was in 2005, when Shaun Alexander ran for 1,880 yards and 27 touchdowns in leading the Seahawks to their first-ever Super Bowl appearance in a 13-3 regular season. I argued this at the time and maintain it to this day: the most important player to the Seahawks’ success that year was actually Matt Hasselbeck (we NEVER would’ve gotten anywhere without him), but since he didn’t have insanely gaudy stats (3,459 yards, 65.5% completions, 24 TDs, 9 INTs) he didn’t stand a chance.

Which brings me right back to this year and begs the question: if gaudy stats are a precursor, WHY IN THE HOLY HELL WOULD I PREDICT RUSSELL WILSON FOR THIS AWARD?

Look, it’s not the most thought-out opinion I’ve ever had. 99% of everything I say on here I pull straight from my gut, which has been notoriously inconsistent over the years. But, I’ll try to make an argument and you take it with however much salt you want.

Last year, Wilson had a pretty impressive season: 3,448 yards, 65.6% completions, 35 touchdowns, 7 interceptions, and a 110.9 passer rating. Of course, that was nothing compared to Patrick Mahomes’ season (the actual MVP): 5,097 yards, 66.0% completions, 50 TDs, 12 INTs, and 113.8 rating. Every step of the way (except for INTs) he was better than Wilson.

Well, the first part of my argument is that I believe Mahomes takes a step back in his second full year as a starter. I think he’ll come down to Earth and be more in the middle of the pack. He’ll almost certainly throw for over 4,000 yards, but I don’t think he’ll approach 50 TDs again, and I think his INTs will increase. I would also argue that whenever someone wins as thoroughly as he has, there’s inevitably a backlash among voters, who are constantly looking to give the award to someone different. If you don’t believe that to be true, then please explain to me why LeBron James has zero MVP awards since the 2012/2013 season, in spite of the fact that until this year, he carried his teams to every single NBA Championship series in that span. Also, while you’re at it, tell me why Bill Belichick hasn’t won since 2010 and yet Bruce Arians and Ron Rivera have both won twice in that span.

So, if you bet Mahomes at +400, you’re throwing your money away. Which brings me to the current betting odds:

  • Patrick Mahomes +400
  • Drew Brees +700
  • Aaron Rodgers +800
  • Andrew Luck +800
  • Tom Brady +1000
  • Baker Mayfield +1400
  • Russell Wilson +1600
  • Carson Wentz +1900
  • Philip Rivers +2200
  • Deshaun Watson +2500

That’s just the top 10. Some things stand out. All of those guys are quarterbacks (the most important players in the game) and all of those guys are projected to be in the playoffs (or at least contending for the playoffs). While being a quarterback isn’t a MUST, it’s certainly the safest bet. For a non-quarterback to win it, he has to do something REALLY special. Like Shaun Alexander’s touchdown totals. The last non-quarterback to win it was in 2012 when Adrian Peterson came within 8 yards of the all-time rushing yards record in a single season. The time before that, it was LaDainian Tomlinson the year after Alexander, when he ran for 1,815 yards and broke Alexander’s rushing touchdown record with 28.

If I were going to pick a non-QB in 2019, I’d lean towards Saquon Barkley (at +4000), but the Giants are so bad that he would literally have to break every single rushing record for it to happen.

Anyway, as you can see, Wilson is firmly in the Top 10 (shamefully behind Baker Mayfield, which is just a crime against humanity at this point), so Vegas likes his chances. With his new contract extension, Wilson’s name is in the zeitgeist. And, at this junction in his career, I believe there are enough fervent Wilson believers out there to really help make his case and keep his name alive.

Now, he can’t do it alone. It’s going to require the Seahawks to get back to the playoffs. It’ll probably even require the Seahawks to win the NFC West, which I believe this team is capable of. Ideally, the Seahawks will be a top 1 or 2 seed and have a BYE in the playoffs. Something like 12-4 could accomplish this, if everything breaks right. The Rams, you figure, are in for a Super Bowl hangover. The Saints and Bears figure to be our biggest obstacles, as I believe the NFC East will feast upon itself to keep their records down.

Playing well in marquee games is also a must. The Seahawks have five primetime games scheduled, including three in a row late in the season, right in that window where we separate the men from the boys in races like these. Wilson has traditionally stepped up big in these games, so I don’t see that as being an issue either.

With the team playing well, and with his reputation intact, that just leaves his biggest hurdle: his numbers.

Wilson has thrown for over 4,000 yards only twice in his career (though he was 17 yards away in 2017 from making it three times), and last year he was obviously limited by the offense’s design. Part of that was a backlash against the losses in our first two weeks, when the coaching staff had to re-set everything. But, ultimately this team was so successful running the ball that there wasn’t always a serious need to get things done through the air. While the plan heading into the season will be more of the same run-centric style, it wouldn’t totally shock me to see our effectiveness on the ground weaken (much in the same way that I see Mahomes’ numbers taking a dive). Opposing defenses will game plan better. And, I figure injuries will play a more significant role (Carson played in 14 games; I could see that dropping as he doesn’t seem like a guy who can stay healthy for the duration) with both the running backs and the O-Line. There’s no Mike Davis, who was a solid contributor, and I seriously question whether Penny will be up to the task if he’s thrust into the #1 role. There should be just enough of a dip in the running game to add a few hundred more yards to Wilson’s passing total.

On top of that, Wilson’s rushing yards are going to continue to go down with every year. He’s a quarterback, and an elite one at that. Elite quarterbacks throw the ball or hand it off, period. He’s heading into his 8th season, which puts him squarely in his prime. He’s had a Hall of Fame trajectory to this point in his career, and I don’t know a whole lot of Hall of Fame quarterbacks who haven’t won an MVP award. With that in mind, it sort of feels like it’s his destiny to win this award at least once. If we get to the end of the season, and no one has really stood out with awe-inspiring numbers at any position, maybe the voters will look around, see Wilson sitting there with 0 career MVPs, and figure he’s due. People have voted for things based on dumber logic before (say hello to every politician who ever seemed like a guy you’d want to have a beer with).

Getting back to the numbers, though, Wilson’s best chance seems to be with his touchdowns. While he was a far cry from Mahomes’ 50 last year, Wilson was still tied for third with 35. In 2017, he led the league with 34. In 2015, he came in sixth also with 34. I could easily see that number jump up into the 40’s, which should put him well within range. More than that, he’s usually very careful with the ball. Last year he tied a career low with only 7 INTs. I feel with his ability, he can shave that down even further. If he has an insane TD:INT ratio of something like 40:3, that’s the sort of stat that could push him over the top.

Finally, if we’re truly talking about the Most VALUABLE Player, then who has had more value to his team than Russell Wilson in his career to date? The knock against him has always been that he’s had an elite defense (except for last year) or an elite running game (except for a few years there post-Beastmode). Well, I’ve already argued that I don’t believe the running game will be as exceptional as it was in 2018, and as for the defense, it was already middle-of-the-road last year; this year, I think middle-of-the-road will be this unit’s CEILING. I think the defense could be truly terrible this year. We’ll likely rank in the bottom third or bottom quarter in the league in sacks and turnovers.

In 2018, the Seahawks had 43 sacks, 13 of which belonged to Frank Clark. 43 put us 11th in football; 30 would’ve been tied for 30th. Ziggy Ansah figures to mitigate some of that, but I highly doubt he’s going to get us all the way there. In fact, I don’t think he’ll even get us halfway there (yes, I’m putting Ansah’s over/under of sacks at 6.5, and I’ll bet the under). With no one else coming in to help account for the loss of Clark’s production (both in sacks, and in the help he provided someone like Jarran Reed, who saw his numbers skyrocket playing with Clark on the outside next to him). If Reed is our only pass-rushing threat (assuming Ansah misses multiple games, or plays through injury and is ineffective as a result), he can be easily neutralized, sending the D-Line tumbling towards the bottom of the league.

In 2018, the Seahawks had 12 interceptions, 5 of which belonged to Earl Thomas, Justin Coleman, and Frank Clark. 12 put us tied for 18th in football; 7 would’ve been tied for 29th. Bradley McDougald had 3 of his own last year, but he’s also an injury waiting to happen. Of our younger core in the defensive backfield, Shaquill Griffin, Tedric Thompson, Delano Hill, and Tre Flowers all combined for 3 total INTs (Hill and Flowers combining for 0). Who did we add to this group? A couple of rookies, and presumably whatever veterans we bring into Training Camp later this summer. There just isn’t a lot of turnover production in this unit. With the D-Line unable to get pressure, that puts more of the onus on the secondary, which is not NEARLY as talented as the Legion of Boom in its prime.

Now, of course, the Seahawks tied for the league lead in fumble recoveries in 2018, but as we all know, that’s largely based on the luck of the bouncing ball. We did tie for third in forced fumbles, which you’d hope would translate, but again our leader in that category – Frank Clark – is gone.

My point with all of this is to further indicate that I think the Seahawks’ defense will be bad. Our only hope is that we hold teams to an inordinate amount of field goals. But, my expectation is, for the Seahawks to win a lot of games, we’re going to rely exclusively on our offense. That means Russell Wilson will have to do considerably more than he had to do in 2018.

All that being said, it still doesn’t feel like a strong argument, and I get that. All I can say is, with this being the second season with a new offensive coordinator, you have to figure Brian Schottenheimer has had a full year to work with this team, and a second full off-season to tinker with his scheme. While it’ll be foolish to expect the running game to take a complete back seat, I think his ability to adjust in games will improve. With the defense putting us into more passing situations – based on game score alone – I think it’ll open things up for Wilson to really shine like he’s never quite shone before.

Wilson has had spurts. The back-half of his 2015 was as brilliant as it gets; if he had a full season of that, he’d be a hands-down winner of the MVP. I also thought 2018 was his best year yet, particularly from an efficiency standpoint. If we keep the efficiency (or even improve upon it slightly), increase touchdowns, decrease turnovers, and boost up those yards, there won’t be any other excuses to keep him from his due. ESPECIALLY when you consider Baldwin retired, and Lockett is his only quality veteran receiver heading into this season. Voters won’t have the L.O.B. to fall back on, nor will they have as dominant of a running game. They’ll have 8 full years’ worth of elite game play, with 2019 as a coronation of sorts.

In a muddled year of MVP candidates, Wilson will win it in a close voting battle. Mark my words (unless I’m wrong, then forget this ever happened).

Keeping An Eye On Seahawks-Related Free Agents

The moves are coming fast and furiously, so here’s a quick breakdown of any Seahawks-related signings to date, as well as where certain ex-Seahawks are now calling home.

Mike Davis just signed a 2-year, $6 million deal with the Bears, which feels like a great move for him, a great move for that team, and a solid fantasy football sleeper for anyone who needs a quality all-around back to stash on their bench. The RB room in Seattle was too crowded as it is, and that’s money that can be better spent elsewhere, as far as I’m concerned.

Mark Glowinski isn’t really a RECENT ex-Seahawk, but he did just get extended for 3 years and $18 million with the Colts, which sort of sets part of the market for guards. Might that be something close to what Sweezy and/or Fluker will get? We’ll see.

Frank Clark was obviously franchise tagged recently, and now we play the waiting game. Will he be signed to an extension? Will he be traded? Will he play it out on a 1-year deal? Will he hold out of OTA’s and/or Training Camp and/or the pre-season and/or the regular season? Boy howdy, do I dread the rest of this nonsense.

Sheldon Richardson played a year with the Vikings, and now has signed a 3-year deal with the Browns, so his career is going great.

Shamar Stephen just signed to return to the Vikings on a 3-year, $12.45 million deal. At best, he made no real positive impact last year; at worst, he helped drag down this team’s run defense to its lowest depths in the Pete Carroll era. Nothing about his signing makes any sense, but more power to the Vikings, I guess.

The inside linebacker market has exploded this year, which doesn’t DIRECTLY involve any Seahawks-adjacent players, but indirectly sets the market for what Bobby Wagner will be demanding next year. So, that’s fantastic.

Justin Coleman made the biggest splash so far among the ex-Seahawks, signing in Detroit for 4 years and $36 million, in becoming the highest-paid nickel corner in football. The Lions are in the process of signing literally anyone who has ever even looked at a Patriots jersey, so it should only be a matter of time before they’re in the market for a new rub n’ tug joint in the Miami area.

No word on Earl Thomas yet (other than some rumors he’s headed to Cleveland), but a couple safeties have already signed their big-money deals, and there are plenty more available safeties where that came from. I’m seriously beginning to wonder if ET will get even close to the money he was banking on.

James Carpenter signed on with the Falcons for 4 years and $21 million. He’s made a nice chunk of change for himself after his rookie deal with the Seahawks expired lo those many years ago.

Much more closer to home is the news last night that J.R. Sweezy signed a 2-year deal with the Cardinals, so that’s a bummer. Money’s looking a little tigher around Seahawksland than once thought! I also guess this means one of the younger guys will be slated to step up into a starting role. This could get dicey.

Finally, before anything else happens, Brett Hundley signed a 1-year deal with the Cardinals to be their backup. He got $2 million for his trouble, which is obviously more than the Seahawks should be willing to pay (especially considering they already brought in Paxton Lynch). The fact that the Seahawks traded a 6th round pick for a guy who never played a snap for us is pretty galling to most fans out there. It’s not that we don’t understand the logic behind the move; it’s that we disagree with the logic employed. I’m with most other Seahawks fans out there: if Russell Wilson goes down for the season, then I want to tank AS HARD AS POSSIBLE. The fact that the people in charge don’t agree is troubling to say the least.

The Seahawks Need More Stars

Brock and Salk had an interesting conversation recently about the Seahawks and how close they are to contending for another Super Bowl. My takeaway (I tend to agree with Salk here) is that the Seahawks are short on stars. There are a lot of good players on this team, but not necessarily a lot of GREAT players. So, I decided to quickly do a comparison between the 2018/2019 Seahawks against the 2013 Super Bowl Champs.

Offensive (and Special Teams) Stars

Now

  • Russell Wilson – QB
  • Chris Carson – RB
  • Doug Baldwin – WR
  • Tyler Lockett – WR
  • Duane Brown – LT
  • Michael Dickson – P

Then

  • Russell Wilson – QB
  • Marshawn Lynch – RB
  • Golden Tate – WR
  • Doug Baldwin – WR
  • Russell Okung – LT
  • Max Unger – C
  • Jon Ryan – P

Right there, you’d have to say pretty comparable. Beastmode is better than Carson, the receivers are pretty close to the same, and 2018 Russell is better than 2013 Russell. Where we start to see some breakaway is on the other side of the ball.

Defensive Stars

Now

  • Frank Clark – DE
  • Jarran Reed – DT
  • Bobby Wagner – LB
  • (K.J. Wright – LB)

Then

  • Cliff Avril – DE
  • Michael Bennett – DT
  • Bobby Wagner – LB
  • K.J. Wright – LB
  • Earl Thomas – FS
  • Kam Chancellor – SS
  • Richard Sherman – CB

I’d say the Seahawks have a good start here, but I’d also say the combo of Bennett & Avril were better than the combo of Clark & Reed. Now, there’s obviously still room for both of the younger guys to grow, so in theory they could be even more dominant than they were in 2018, but as it stands right now that’s where we’re at. 2018 Bobby is better than 2013 Bobby, and while 2018 K.J. is better than 2013 K.J., the 2018 version was also injury prone, and is far from a lock to be re-signed to this team in 2019.

Then, there’s the secondary. The 2013 Seahawks not only had 3 superstars in the secondary, they had 3 ALL TIMERS. The 2018/2019 Seahawks don’t have anything CLOSE, and that’s ultimately their biggest hole to overcome (I won’t say “fill”, because I think we’re pretty much stuck with the guys we’ve got, which means we have to compensate in other ways defensively and as a team as a whole).

So, digging down further, let’s list the players who are just good starters/role players.

Now

  • Mike Davis – RB
  • Rashaad Penny – RB
  • All our Tight Ends
  • Justin Britt – C
  • Both starting Guards
  • Poona Ford – DT
  • Mychal Kendricks – LB
  • Justin Coleman – CB
  • Tre Flowers – CB
  • Shaq Griffin – CB
  • Bradley McDougald – SS

Then

  • All our Tight Ends
  • Sidney Rice – WR
  • Steven Hauschka – K
  • Chris Clemons – DE
  • Tony McDaniel – DT
  • Clinton McDonald – DT
  • Brandon Mebane – DT
  • Bruce Irvin – LB
  • Byron Maxwell – CB
  • Walter Thurmond – CB
  • Jeremy Lane – CB

I think our running back room now is stronger than it was then (but it didn’t matter in 2013 when Beastmode was all you needed). I think our offensive line as a whole is better now than it was then, even though the 2013 version was more top-heavy (Sweezy in 2018 is MUCH better than Sweezy in 2013, for instance; Fluker is better than Carpenter; and I would argue Ifedi is on par with Giacomini). I think both tight end rooms are a wash. But, as you can see, while the Seahawks of today have a so-so secondary, the BACKUPS in 2013 were on par with what we have now (and, I would argue, probably a little better). And, the other big difference is up front. Look at all the beef we had on the D-Line in 2013 compared to today! It’s no contest!

Also, not for nothing, but a few of those guys I listed might not be back in 2019, which is yet more work for the Seahawks to do this offseason.

As you can see, the talent disparity is pretty big. I wouldn’t say it’s insurmountable, but you have to wonder where we’re going to pick up the slack. With 4 draft picks and a bunch of our own stars we need to extend, it’s not like we have unlimited resources.

The good news is, the Seahawks of 2019 don’t need to beat the Seahawks of 2013. I would argue the 2013 Seahawks were one of the most talented teams of all time (especially on defense); we won’t see anyone like that in the NFL in 2019. We just have to get past the Rams and the rest of the NFC, then let the chips fall where they may.

It would HELP if we could develop a couple of those good starters into superstars, but this draft and free agency period will be pretty big. No whiffing, lest we middle our way to another Wild Card finish.

Seahawks Death Week: Ranking The Holes To Fill

It’s not all sunshine and puppydog noses in Seahawksland after an unexpected playoff berth in 2018. True, the floor was not as far down as we all thought coming off a disappointing 2017, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty of work to do. Here’s my ranking of the holes the Seahawks need to fill heading into the 2019 season, from most important to least.

#1 – Safety

Bradley McDougald is locked up through 2020, at a relative bargain for what he brought to the table when he was healthy the last couple years. The best part about B McD is he can play either strong or free safety, which is crucial because I’m making this position not only the most important to shore up in the offseason, but the biggest priority for the upcoming NFL Draft. That doesn’t NECESSARILY mean I need the Seahawks to use a first round pick on one; but I need for whoever they do end up drafting to hit and hit big for this defense to work. Ideally, we’d find a more capable Earl Thomas replacement at free safety, and slide McDougald over to strong safety, where he’s probably better suited to play. Sure, keep Tedric Thompson and Delano Hill around as depth/competition, but we can’t be counting on them longterm, not with what little improvement we saw over the course of the 2018 season.

#2 – Defensive End 2

DE 1 is obviously Frank Clark, and he’s coming back one way or another (either via a longterm extension, or a franchise tag). The real need is at that end spot opposite Clark. I like Jacob Martin an awful lot based on what he was able to do as a rookie, but at this point in his career he’s more of a rotational guy, and this team needs veteran stability at the other pass rusher spot. Ideally, there will be a stud free agent or two out on the open market, like in 2013 when we were able to sign Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett. I don’t know who the 2018 equivalent is, but that’s my idea.

#3 – Guards

This is most easily remedied by re-signing Fluker & Sweezy. I could see one of them maybe moving on, but losing both feels unrealistic. Behind them, we have Pocic and Simmons, a bust and an injury waiting to happen. I like Pocic and Simmons as depth right now more than I like handing them the job out of Training Camp, even though both are younger and with higher ceilings. Could the Seahawks get by with those two? Sure, but I don’t want to know what kind of growing pains this offense needs to go through to make it happen. Just bring back Fluker & Sweezy.

#4 – Weakside Linebacker

K.J. Wright is as good as gone, so this spot could certainly use some shoring up. At this point, we don’t know if Kendricks slots better at this spot or the strong side, but that’s certainly an option. Austin Calitro, I thought, acquitted himself well in his fill-in duty. The draft could also be an option, though obviously not with a high pick. Regardless, there’s going to be an immediate drop-off from the longtime quality we got from Wright; the idea is to not fall too far off his level.

#5 – Kicker

It’s time to do it up right. Ideally, we would’ve solved this puzzle in 2018 with Jason Myers, but we opted to go for the old man, which was fine for the short term, but a disaster overall. Kicker is a tricky thing to fix, as they’re so varied from year to year. Is there an elite leg coming out of college like Michael Dickson last year? God, I hope so.

#6 – Defensive Tackle 2 (or 3)

Jarran Reed has distinguished himself as a bona fide every-down DT in this league. Given his pass rush ability, he has certainly proven he’s more than just a widebody nose tackle. And, with the emergence of Poona Ford as a run stopping machine (and ostensibly the only one on the entire line), you could easily slide him into the starting nose tackle spot, meaning we need a third guy who can sort of do both, stop the run and maybe rush the passer a little. Really, we’re looking for a cheap, veteran, Tony McDaniel type, but GOD DAMMIT we need to fix the run defense from day 1!

#7 – Wide Receiver 3 (or 4)

David Moore could assert himself into this role, but he really disappeared toward the end of 2018 after a delightful start, so everything is up in the air with him right now. Jaron Brown picked things up in his place, but honestly he finished the year with 14 receptions on 19 targets, and his cap hit goes up to nearly $4 million in 2019, which is too much for what he’s bringing to the table. Better to get out from under that and bring in someone cheaper and better if we can.

#8 – Strongside Linebacker

Barkevious Mingo is signed through 2019, at a cap hit of $4.4 million, which isn’t outrageous, but he was another guy who disappeared toward the end of the season. I feel like his spot could be better filled by someone younger and cheaper, probably in the draft.

#9 – Cornerback 3 (or 4)

You’d think I’d have this higher, since I’m essentially begging the team to re-sign Justin Coleman. But, the Seahawks always seem to find a way to get by with whoever they put over there. Ideally, Coleman is extended while they also draft (late) his future replacement. Akeem King should be back too, which gives us nice depth, as I thought he played pretty well down the stretch.

#10 – Running Back 3

Figure Carson is your RB 1 and Penny will elevate to RB 2, this is your Mike Davis spot, only probably younger and cheaper.

#11 – Quarterback 2

Don’t go breaking the bank on Brett Hundley, that’s all I’m saying. Really, don’t break the bank on anyone. In any scenario where Russell Wilson goes down, it’s tank-city.

#12 – Tight End

Vannett is still on his rookie deal through 2019 and he’s fine. Dissly should be back to 100% by Training Camp, so he’s also fine. Ed Dickson, however, sees his cap hit triple over the next two years. He’s ostensibly TE 1, but he had only 12 catches on 13 targets, so I’m not convinced that’s worthy of over $4 million per year, regardless of what he brings to the table with his blocking. Seems like we could get by with the other two and bring in another cheap vet.

Seahawks Death Week: The Free Agents

The Seahawks have a bunch of money opening up heading into 2019, which leads many to believe there’s going to be a feeding frenzy of free agents heading onto this team. However, there are guys on the Seahawks RIGHT NOW whose contracts are expiring, so that’s who we’re going to talk about today. Who should the Seahawks retain, and who should they let go?

The Big Names

Earl Thomas – There isn’t even a question; we can want Earl to come back until we’re blue in the face, but it ain’t happenin’. Even if HE wanted to come back, though, I don’t think it would be a good idea. I mean, yeah, he’s elite. When he’s healthy, he’s the best in the game. But, 2018 was his third consecutive season cut short due to injuries. It’s just not a smart investment. He needs to move on.

K.J. Wright – All year, I’ve been under the impression that 2018 would be the last we’d see of K.J. Wright, but towards the end you could’ve talked me into a 1-year, prove-it deal with a lot of incentives instead of guarantees. I still think I’d be okay with that, but let’s get real, that knee isn’t getting any healthier. He’s great when he’s on the field, but how many games can we count on him for? Also, how soon will his decline start? I’d put good money he’s not the same in 2019. I think he also needs to move on.

Frank Clark – Gotta keep him. I’m not gonna say you pay him whatever it takes – I wouldn’t give him Ndamukong Suh or Aaron Donald money – but pay him what he’s worth. If that makes him the second-highest cap figure on the team, so be it, because he’s worth it.

Sebastian Janikowski – He’s gotta go. If he hadn’t injured himself in the playoff game, you MAYBE could’ve talked me into another year. He wasn’t THAT bad in 2018; he wasn’t anywhere near as awful as Blair Walsh. I essentially got what I expected out of Janikowski; he’s not perfect and he never was. But, he’s steady. He made 48/51 extra points and 22/27 field goals (including 3/5 from 50+ which is pretty good). Was I turned off by that kickoff return he gave up, where he didn’t even try to touch the runner blowing past him? Yeah, but again, I know who this guy is. I know what to expect. But, that leg injury – combined with the fact that he already missed 2017 due to injury – just makes it untenable. If anything, bring him back in a kicking competition, but instead of having him as the lead dog like he was this season, make him the underdog and give the advantage to a younger guy. Or, shit, just draft a kicker in the 6th round and be done with it!

The Semi-Big Names

Dion Jordan – I like the idea. I like the idea of buying low on a super-stud athlete with a HUGE upside whose career was derailed by injuries and knuckleheadery. But, the dude just can’t stay on the field and even when he’s on the field it doesn’t seem like he makes much of an impact. Time to cut ties and give his spot to someone else.

D.J. Fluker & J.R. Sweezy – I’m lumping these two together because I want them both back! These guys were difference-makers for our offensive line (and therefore our entire offense). Now, obviously, they’re injury-prone, so you have to get some value for that. And you HAVE TO build in protections in case we have to cut and run after 2019. But, I wouldn’t mind giving both of these guys 3-year deals (that are really 2-year deals, but can easily be cut down to 1-year deals without a ton of dead money). Never change your contract structure, NFL! It’s the only thing keeping me sane!

Mike Davis – He made $1.35 million in 2018, which is right in the ballpark of what I don’t mind spending on a running back insurance policy. Anything significantly higher than $1.5 million is probably too much. He was a guy we just got off the street; I’m sure there are others just like him who will give us just as much. He’s not a priority, but I’d like him back at the right price.

Mychal Kendricks – I absolutely want him back! Give him K.J.’s spot if you have to! This guy is a difference-maker, and (God forbid) if Bobby were to go down, he’s a guy who can slide into the middle and allow our defense to not miss much of a beat. Given his 2018, you have to figure his value is pretty low. And, given our loyalty, you have to figure we have an inside shot if we present a good deal for him. This is a no-brainer.

Justin Coleman – He earned just a shade under $3 million in 2018, which is tremendous value. Considering this team really hasn’t developed anyone behind him to take over in that nickel role, I think the Seahawks have to do almost whatever it takes to extend him for another 3-4 years. Remember that old Jeremy Lane deal? Something like that would sit just fine with me.

Shamar Stephen – Ehh, no thanks. He was on a 1-year veteran deal and our rush defense was as bad as I’ve ever seen it! Isn’t that what he was brought in for? Wasn’t that his one selling point? I’m beginning to wonder if we didn’t get rid of the wrong ex-Viking defensive tackle; there’s no way Tom Johnson could’ve been worse, right?

Maurice Alexander – Why? Did he do ANYTHING this year? Maybe as camp fodder, but he’s not necessary.

Brett Hundley – Why did we trade a 2019 sixth round pick for this guy? NO! Go away Brett Hundley!

The Restricted Free Agents

I’m pretty sure these are the guys who you put a value on (first round, second round, or original round tender) and if some other team swoops in with a Godfather deal, you get either a first, second, or original round draft pick in the upcoming draft. So, let’s get to it! I’m not going to talk about all the guys, because I don’t KNOW all the guys, but I’ll throw a nod to the no-names at the end.

George Fant – Fant went undrafted, so you gotta tag him with either a first or second round value. A first rounder is a hair under $4.5 million; a second rounder is just over $3 million. I think the Seahawks should absolutely try to extend him, but failing that, I think you saddle him with a first round tender. The NFL is in desperate need of capable offensive linemen, and say what you will about the Seahawks, but they’ve developed A LOT of guys for other teams. Tender him and see what happens, but try to bring him back.

J.D. McKissic – He also went undrafted, but I don’t think I’m tendering him at all. He’s another dime-a-dozen guy at a dime-a-dozen position. He earned pennies in 2018, so if you want to bring him back for pennies, fine. But, it’s not necessary.

Tyler Ott – The ol’ long snapper! Don’t tender him, but yes try to bring him back.

Joey Hunt – An original round tender is interesting, because he was selected in the 6th round, and you could see someone else signing him to be their starting center. But, the risk there is that no one signs him, and his salary leaps from $630,000 to a little over $2 million. For a guy who might be 3rd on the depth chart at center, assuming Pocic is still in line to play behind Britt, that’s not money well spent. Forgetting the tender, I don’t think his services are really needed, but he’s not bad as camp fodder if no one else wants him.

Quinton Jefferson – Now, this is interesting, because I thought he took a step forward in 2018. Not huge; he’s not a guy you HAVE to have. But, considering he used to be a guy I thought of as a bust, it’s nice that he’s built up some value. He was originally a 5th round pick, and I would have no problem giving him an original round tender. I might even go as high as a 2nd rounder, though that feels like pushing it. I’d do that and give him another year to prove if he’s worth a longer-term deal.

Branden Jackson – He was a guy I had a lot of hopes for heading into 2018, but he finished the season as a healthy scratch most weeks. He went undrafted and doesn’t seem to be worth tendering. Another camp guy on a minimum deal at best.

Tre Madden – He’s a fullback, he’s not worth tendering. Minimum 1-year deal.

The Rest of the Restricted Free Agents – Kalan Reed (CB), T.J. Green (S). Who? Exactly.

I’m not going to get into the Exclusive Rights Free Agents, because there’s no risk. These guys are essentially ON the team, unless the team opts to not bring them back. Guys like Akeem King, David Moore, Austin Calitro, Jordan Simmons, and Shalom Luani should all be back.

Seahawks Death Week: What Did We Figure Out?

Heading into 2018, there were question marks across the board with the Seahawks. Could we develop a running game outside of Russell Wilson? Could we develop a pass rush? Would our secondary hold together? How would our new coordinators fit in? Could we develop enough young talent to push this team in the right direction for 2019 and beyond?

It felt like at least a 2-year project before we’d see the playoffs again, so to make it back in Year 1 feels like playing with house money at this point. So, let’s take a look at what went right, in no particular order:

Running Backs

In 2018, infamously the leading running back for this team was Russell Wilson with 586 yards. The next-closest back was Mike Davis with 240. The only player to run for a touchdown not named Russell Wilson was J.D. McKissic, who had 1 all year. So, you can understand why the Seahawks put so much into re-emphasizing this part of the game.

In 2019, Russell Wilson was 4th on this team in rushing yards, much more in line with where he SHOULD be. We used a first round draft pick – after trading down to acquire more picks – on Rashaad Penny, who had an underwhelming rookie season with only 419 yards (3rd on the team), but he also had the third-most attempts and actually led the group in yards per carry with 4.9. Penny didn’t come out of the gates guns blazing, as there was more of a learning curve for him as he adjusted to the NFL, but he did show flashes of brilliance and that big-play ability we brought him in here for. I don’t know if he’ll ever be a Pro Bowler, or just a nice role player, but his Sophomore campaign should tell quite a bit about where his pro career is headed.

Returning as this team’s #2 running back was Mike Davis, who showed his usual reliability and professionalism. This is a rock-solid #2 guy that I’d never have any qualms about making the occasional spot start for an injured player; he’s a huge upgrade over Robert Turbin, for instance. He ended up with 514 yards on a 4.6 average. It appears Davis will be a Free Agent next year, so hopefully we can bring him back at the right price. Though, I guess we’ll see; with the money we have in Penny, we might want to spend the minimum at a spot where there’s a 3-headed monster.

Chris Carson returned from an injury in 2018 and should really be in the running for Comeback Player of the Year. He led the Seahawks with 1,151 yards on a 4.7 yard average with a whopping 9 touchdowns. He’s the first 1,000-yard rusher for the Seahawks since Beastmode in 2014, and let me tell you, he looked A LOT like our future Ring of Honor stud. We were a different team with Carson on the field, as he bowled and jumped over opposing players with regularity.

Overall, I’d say the position is set for 2019, though it’ll be ultra-set if we bring back Davis.

Pass Rush

The Seahawks were tied for 13th in 2017 with 39.0 sacks (league-leading Pittsburgh had 56.0), which was okay, but obviously not great. We improved to being tied for 11th in 2018 with 43.0 sacks (league-leading Pittsburgh & Kansas City had 52.0) which is a step in the right direction, though we could always be better.

Frank Clark led the way with 14.0 sacks; he’s also set to be a free agent in 2019. The Seahawks are saying all the right things about bringing him back on a long-term extension, though they’re also looking to re-up Wilson and a few others, so they’ve got their work cut out for them. Regardless, the franchise tag is in our pocket, and Clark’s already on record as saying he’d welcome the challenge of playing on the tag, thereby having his value skyrocket if he stays healthy and performs as he did this year. He also could, theoretically, still improve, particularly with better pieces around him, so we may just be scratching the surface with him. Either way, this was a HUGE step forward for a guy a lot of people wondered about. I don’t know if I ever expected him to perform at this level, so it’s great to see!

Even more shocking was what Jarran Reed was able to do in his third season as an interior lineman. He went from 1.5 sacks in each of his first two years to a whopping 10.5 sacks in 2018, which is just an astronomical leap! That’s Cortez Kennedy-level ball-busting! He’s another guy this team needs to keep around for the long term.

After those two, it drops off considerably. The next-highest guy was Quinton Jefferson with 3, and he’s just a rotation guy at best. Rookie Jacob Martin also had 3 sacks, which is encouraging for a high-motor guy still developing his NFL body. It’ll be interesting to see what strides he’s able to make between Year 1 and Year 2.

Rasheem Green was the other highly-touted rookie who had only 1 sack this year, and often found himself as a healthy scratch by season’s end. He was always going to be something of a project, so it’s not surprising, but it is a little disappointing. He was never going to have as much opportunity as 2018, considering you have to figure the Seahawks are planning on pouring big money into the area for next year.

Overall, we’ve got two studs, one maybe, and a lot of filler. While this area was better than I expected heading into the year – as I expected this team to totally fall off the cliff – our stars stayed healthy and produced. Now, it’s just a matter of filling in with better talent around those stars.

Secondary

This was always going to be a challenge, with Kam essentially forced into retirement, with Earl holding out, then playing disgruntled, then being lost for the year to injury. And, of course, the Seahawks waived Richard Sherman, which pushed Shaquill Griffin over to his side of the field as the team’s primary cornerback. For all the grief I gave him about that playoff game, I thought Griffin was fine. At times he was a solid tackler, but he also appeared to be out of position every so often, and took bad angles on tackles. He also finished with only 2 interceptions, which is pretty weak for the team’s primary corner. He’s not going anywhere in 2019, so let’s hope he makes a major jump in his performance in Year 3.

The other cornerback spot appeared to change hands multiple times heading into the 2018 season. Byron Maxwell looked to have the inside track, but he came in injured and never made the team. Other veterans were vetted, but the job ended up in the hands of rookie Tre Flowers, who took it and ran with it. There were the expected growing pains, but he really picked it up over the second half of the season, and looks to be a solid cog in this secondary. He didn’t get any picks, but you have to figure those will come with experience.

With both of our starting safeties out, Bradley McDougald really held this whole thing together. He’s a solid veteran who was playing at a Pro Bowl level for a while, but appeared to break down by season’s end. With him, Tedric Thompson and Delano Hill got their chances to make their marks on this team in their second seasons, but both of them were pretty hit or miss. You have to think the experience was nothing but a positive for them, but they’ll still have to parlay it into 2019 and make significant jumps if they want to be here long term.

I have to think the Seahawks will be looking in the draft for another primo safety. While we’re not set yet, it’s good to see the secondary playing as well as they did this season. They might not have showed out with the turnovers as the L.O.B. did when they hit the scene, but they limited big plays and kept this team in ballgames, which is all you can ask for. I’d also like to see the team extend Justin Coleman long-term, as he’s still one of the better nickel corners in this league.

Tight End

Jimmy Graham was thankfully sent packing, and in his place the team actually improved. Who knew?

Oh yeah, we all knew.

Will Dissly made a HUGE impact in Week 1, then got hurt and was lost for the season. Considering he was the best blocking tight end in the draft last year, and with his offense being better than anticipated, he looks like he’ll be an awesome weapon next year, assuming he returns from injury okay.

Nick Vannett really stepped up in his absence, in his 3rd season in the NFL. He had career highs in receptions, yards, and touchdowns. They weren’t super-amazing or anything (29, 269, 3), but this team doesn’t NEED a Jimmy Graham-like tight end to be effective offensively. I am perfectly happy with those numbers from our 2016 third round draft pick.

Ed Dickson was a free agent signee, and he didn’t make a huge impact either – actually finishing with fewer yards than Dissly, thanks to his own injury issues to start the season – but he had some big plays here and there, and still chipped in 3 TDs of his own. Combined, the TE position had 8 touchdowns on the season (51 catches for 600 yards, if you count George Fant, which I absolutely do!), which is perfectly fine for what little resources we’ve pumped into the position. You don’t need superstars at tight end to have a winning offense.

Tight end is set, assuming Dissly is back to 100%.

Offensive Line

The O-Line was the biggest question mark heading into the season, and thankfully it eventually turned into one of this team’s biggest strengths. Duane Brown was a Second Team All Pro at left tackle, Justin Britt brought his usual solidness at the center position, and Germain Ifedi made a big leap in his third year to finally become a passable right tackle. There were some growing pains at the guard spots – arguably the most important spots on the entire O-Line for a team with a Russell Wilson at quarterback – but after the second game, when J.R. Sweezy took over on the left side and D.J. Fluker took over on the right, they finally morphed into a cohesive, solid unit.

The downside is both Sweezy and Fluker are free agents heading into 2019. They’re also getting up there in age, and seemingly always face a litany of injuries. While that should theoretically keep their costs down, it’s hard to ignore the strides this team made when both of them were healthy. As such, you have to figure they’re in store for raises over the $1.5 million each of them made in 2018.

Beyond those two, Ethan Pocic was a disaster. He started those first two games we lost (when couldn’t do a damn thing offensively), and every time he took the field late in the season, the offense took an immediate step back. I don’t know if he’s undersized, incompetent, or both, but he’s got A LOT of work to do if he’s aiming to return to the starting five. As a second round pick already in his second year, with plenty of experience under his belt already, this is NOT trending well.

Jordan Simmons, however, was a revelation when he stepped in for Fluker! He’s a big ol’ mauler in Fluker’s image, but his season ended prematurely with injury. Combine that with the fact that he spent most of his college career injured, and I don’t think he’s someone we can count on long term. As a fill-in, backup type guy, though, it’s nice to know he’s around.

Joey Hunt is heading into free agency; he’s not someone I’d mind if we kept around or not. He looks undersized, and at this point Pocic might only be able to salvage his career if he backs up Britt at center, so Hunt is probably a luxury this team doesn’t need. He could still develop into a quality starter somewhere, but probably not here.

Finally, the aforementioned George Fant had quite a bit of playing time. He was often a sixth lineman this team implemented when we wanted to pound the rock, and once in a while found himself running routes (with his lone catch being a highlight of the season). He filled in for Ifedi late in the year – with Ifedi sliding over to guard for an injured Fluker – and that didn’t go so great. But, I would still expect him back, as I can’t imagine there’s going to be a huge bidding war for Fant.

Conclusion

With an elite quarterback, an elite middle linebacker, two elite wide receivers, and some nice pieces noted above, this is a team that’s heading in the right direction for another playoff run in 2019. How they spend their money in free agency will ultimately determine if this team’s going to contend for a division title. There are still quite a bit of holes left to fill, so it should be interesting.

Not Winners & Losers Of The Seahawks’ Game Against The Packers

The Seahawks temporarily saved their season with a 27-24 victory over the Packers.  The win brought us back to .500 at 5-5, while the Pack fell to 4-5-1, with their playoff chances taking a significant hit.  The Seahawks were down 14-3 early, but rallied in the second quarter and put the game away in the final frame with some rock-solid defense and just enough big plays on offense.

What I’m Geeked Out About After Ten Games

I haven’t gotten to say this a lot this year, but what a game by the defense!  The Packers were up 21-17 at halftime, but only scored 3 points the rest of the way.  Just fantastic!  I was convinced we’d never see anything even remotely resembling a pass rush, but here we ended up with 5 sacks on the day, generally making Aaron Rodgers’ life miserable.  Frank Clark, of course, led the way with 2 sacks.  He’s already got 10 on the year, tying his previous career high from 2016, with 6 more games to go.  That man is going to make a TON of money this offseason.  Maybe even more importantly, Jacob Martin and Rasheem Green both had their first career sacks as the young guys work their way into the rotation.  And, while he was held sackless, Bobby Wagner led the way with 9 tackles and was a dominant force all game.

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

Russell Wilson overcame a slow start to go 21/31 for 225 and 2 TDs against 0 INTs.  For the season, he’s hitting 66.2% of his passes for 2,192 yards, 23 TDs and only 5 INTs, which is good for a 110.2 rating.  That’s Top 5 Elite Quarterback shit!

Chris Carson also overcame a slow start – fumbling on the first play of the game – to run for 83 yards on 17 carries with a TD.  The rest of the rotation was similarly on top of their games; Penny had 46 yards on 8 carries, as he’s looking more and more like the guy we wasted spent a first round pick on; and Davis chipped in with 26 yards on 4 carries, mostly on our clock-killing 4:20 drive to close out the game.  All told, the team managed 173 more yards on the ground in this one, with a 4.9 average.  Not giving Aaron Rodgers the ball back with the game on the line?  Absolutely the reason we won the game.

A tip of the hat to the big 3 receivers, as Baldwin got his first TD of the year (along with 52 yards on 7 catches), Moore had four big catches for 57 yards, and Lockett led the way with 71 yards on 5 catches.  To top it all off, Ed Dickson had his 2nd TD of the season, and the game-winner as it turns out.

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

The big problem area in this one ended up being the secondary.  Too many deep balls down field, which the elimination of is supposed to be this team’s specialty.  And no one was immune.  Shaq Griffin bit hard on one, Tre Flowers was routinely challenged, Bradley McDougald gave up a long TD, and even Justin Coleman got in on the action of getting beat.  Not to be outdone, Austin Calitro got the start for K.J. Wright and I really thought that was going to cost us the game, as the Packers got the better of him seemingly the entire first half.  Now, obviously, Aaron Rodgers is going to make a lot of secondaries around the league look pretty foolish on the regular, but it’s particularly alarming to see the young guys continue to repeat the same mistakes.

The good news is, we got through this one without a bevy of new injuries.  Now, with 10 days to prepare for a HUGE showdown in Carolina, let’s hope the team is able to take advantage of this scheduling gift.

Not Winners & Losers Of The Seahawks’ Game At The Rams

Aside from falling short at the end, that’s as good as I had any right to expect this game to go.  The Seahawks ran the ball – without Chris Carson, without D.J. Fluker (who I thought was the bigger of the two injury inactives for this team, considering the opponent) – better than they have all year, 273 yards on 34 carries; they kept the game close all day, and in the end they got the ball back with around 90 seconds, one touchdown away from winning it outright.  On top of which, the Seahawks drove to the Rams’ 35 yard line with just under a minute to go before the drive stalled.  It was all right there, and we just couldn’t punch it in.  Again, I take no solace from a moral victory; yes, it shows the Seahawks are on the right track and closer to returning to their championship window than we thought, but there’s still a huge talent discrepancy between us and the elite teams in the NFL.  In other words, there’s a lot of work left to do.  This isn’t a reincarnation of the 2012 Seahawks so much as the 2011 variety:  that team that went 7-9, had some remarkable victories, but ultimately fell short of their goal to make the playoffs (even if that goal looked insane heading into the season).  The 2018 Seahawks aren’t QUITE what we thought they were, but they’re also going nowhere, very, very slowly.

What I’m Geeked Out About After Nine Games

I got a two-fer, and they’re both rushing related.  First and foremost, WELCOME TO SEATTLE RASHAAD PENNY!  He’s had opportunities at times this season, but until yesterday had failed to take advantage of them.  Well, this was his coming out party.  108 yards on 12 carries with a TD.  He looked smooth, he looked explosive, and he took advantage of some really solid run blocking from our offensive line.  Kudos all around to those five (sometimes, with Fant, six) guys for punishing the Rams once again.  In two games this year, against that stout front, the Seahawks ran for 463 yards on 66 carries, for a 7.02 yards per carry average!  Outstanding!

Of course, not for nothing, but those fuckfaces only seem to get it up for rushing the passer on third down, so maybe they need to get their priorities together if they have any aspirations of winning a Super Bowl, but that’s neither here nor there.

My other prong in this section goes to Russell Wilson.  Sure, he threw 3 more touchdowns, on 17/26 for 176; but he also ran the ball like he hasn’t all year!  92 yards on 9 carries, which was the most he’s had in a single game since November 2014 (and tied for the 5th most in a game in his professional career).  I know he always just takes what the defense gives him, but I thought he took advantage of a few keeps that both moved the chains and opened up some future holes for our backs.

Now, if only he’d pulled it down and ran with it on that final play of the game …

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

It’s pretty much time to shift expectations a little bit going forward (and, even moreso, assuming we lose to the Packers this Thursday).  While it’s okay to hold out hope for a wild card berth (even moreso, assuming we beat the Packers this Thursday), I’m looking to focus more on positive elements for the future.

For instance, when you see the Seahawks giving up 36 points to the Rams, my go-to emotion is to say, “The defense deserves zero praise whatsoever, full stop!”  But, that’s just not logical.  While it’s distressing to see the Rams move the ball with such ease, quite frankly they’re the Rams.  This is what they do.  And, given the limitations we’re working with on that side of the ball, it’s commendable that we were able to limit them in the ways we did.

Kudos, for instance, on stopping them with less than 2 minutes to go, to give our offense a chance to win it!  If you offered me this scenario heading into the game – considering I was predicting a double-digit blowout – I would’ve accepted it in a heartbeat!  I almost always think Russell Wilson is going to lead us to victory in the closing seconds of the game, so why wouldn’t that be something to hope for?

I thought Bobby Wagner had a whale of a game.  I thought Jarran Reed and Frank Clark played their asses off.  Quinton Jefferson looked like a load all day.  Jacob Martin flashed at times.  Sure, there were breakdowns here and there, but the Rams’ scheme often creates these types of breakdowns.  The fact of the matter is, there’s a lot to like, even on a day where we gave up 456 yards.  I mean, shit, the Rams are supposed to have this great “championship defense” with the best defensive coordinator in the game (taking advantage of their star quarterback on a rookie deal, by signing and trading for all these high-priced studs on defense, a la the Seahawks in 2013) and they gave up 414 yards to us, on top of a litany of penalty yardage!  We’re at least doing as well as they are, with A LOT LESS.  Something to think about, before you resume killing our defense.

Also, kudos to Mike Davis for being a boss.  Kudos to Lockett for yet another touchdown.  Kudos to Doug Baldwin and Ed Dickson for big catches.  Kudos to Michael Dickson for some FANTASTIC punting!

Let’s Talk About Competitions

Bradley McDougald was one of our injury concerns heading into this game, but he ended up making the start.  He did okay, but the coaches rightly split time between him and Delano Hill.  I don’t know if Hill is totally safe as a future starter, but he’s been looking better these last couple weeks.  Not the total disaster he was in the pre-season and earlier this year.  He’s making strides, that’s all you can ask.  I still think this team needs to make safety a priority in the 2019 draft, if for nothing else than to boost our competition.

We’re also gonna need to move on from K.J. Wright I think, when this year is over.  I wouldn’t mind seeing Shaquem Griffin get some looks.  He’s definitely started to flash on Special Teams lately, which is cool to see (also shout-out to Akeem King, who is straight balling out there on Teams; that was a nasty head-to-head deal between the two, though); I hope Griffin is making strides in practice at least, in the base defense.  I’m curious to see how he grows going forward.

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

I was extremely disappointed in Duane Brown for giving up that strip sack to Dante Fowler yesterday, which set up the Rams’ game-winning score.  I mean, come on.  You’re a Pro Bowl left tackle going up against a draft bust; I get that sometimes even the all-time greats get beat, but you CANNOT get beat in that situation!  Not with the game on the line, that late in the contest, to a fucking nobody!  What are we PAYING you for, if not to stand tall in that exact scenario?!

Also, just … The Legion Of Boom, these guys are not.  Sure, the Rams are an elite offensive unit, and they scheme you to death, but I’m not seeing a ton of progress out of our secondary this year, and that’s going to be a problem going forward.  Now, of course, maybe they’ll look better once we find a pass rush (next year, hopefully).  But, maybe they’ll always be an Achilles heel (no pun intended, Richard Sherman) and we’re going to have to play these types of games against good offenses.

I hear a lot of Seahawks fans complaining about CenturyLink not being as loud as it was in its heyday; well, fans feed off of defense.  It’s hard to get up for this mediocrity we’re watching this year.  Where are the big plays?  Where are the sacks and interceptions and forced fumbles?  Where are the stops on third down?  An elite defense trumps an elite offense 10 times out of 10.  Without that, yeah, expect the home crowds to be a little more indifferent than they once were (though, to be fair, I’m not a regular attendee to the games, but it was VERY loud in my opinion, the game I went to last week, as I had to regularly plug my ears to deal with all the screaming).

Finally, let’s not waste snaps handing the ball to C.J. Prosise, huh?  He’s done.  Let’s move on already.