Seahawks Death Week: The Case For Blowing It Up

With yesterday’s tantrum out of the way, now we can – with somewhat cooler heads – try to talk about this team rationally, and with less emotion.

This post is going to be totally useless, FYI. Total waste of time. While there absolutely IS a case to blow this team up and start anew, that’s not what’s going to happen. No one in charge of this organization wants that to happen (this team is too financially successful as is, Super Bowl or no Super Bowl). Really, no one in his right mind would look at a 12-4 team and say, “Let’s hit the reset button.” But, I’m not in my right mind! I’m mourning the end of yet another football season without a national championship. I’m angry and sad and starting to get numb to these early playoff exits. I may be spoiled, but it’s this team that’s spoiled me, so who’s more at fault?

With that in mind, I have to say that you can’t totally blow this team up. You have to pick a side: either you think we have the nucleus of players in place and it’s a matter of having a new coaching staff in there to properly guide this team to where we want it to go, or you don’t. And, if you don’t, then you want to keep the GM and coaches and have them get to work trading this nucleus (including Russell Wilson) for parts so we can rebuild from the ground up.

Both arguments are compelling. If we were dividing the fanbase up into a pie chart, my guess is the tiniest of slivers would be in favor of trading Russell Wilson and starting over on that side of the organization, probably for good reason (it’s REALLY fucking hard to find a franchise quarterback). A significant slice would be in favor of the unsatisfying status quo (keep the nucleus AND the coaches), filling in around the margins as best we can, and taking another run at it next season. And, probably the biggest slice (but it would be pretty close to the status quo slice, I bet) would be in favor of firing Pete Carroll and our offensive and defensive coordinators (and, who knows, maybe even general manager John Schneider to boot).

That having been said, the pie chart of things that are actually likely to happen would be an entire circle of the status quo, but that’s neither here nor there.

Let’s start with the coaches: why won’t they be fired? For starters, Pete Carroll just signed a big-money contract extension this year. The offense just set a franchise record for most points in a season. The defense was one of the best in all of football over the final eight games. The team went 12-4 and won the NFC West. Also, Pete Carroll is notoriously loyal to his guys; it takes quite a significant faceplant for him to want to fire anyone. This is a no-brainer; other than maybe an unimportant assistant/position coach here and there, no one is going anywhere.

EDIT: whoops.

Why should they be fired? Well, for all the reasons fans have been bitching about this team for the last six years! Play-calling is lacking on offense. The defensive scheme seems to be nonexistent. The 2020 Seahawks only REALLY performed against inferior units (the offense was elite in the first half against the league’s worst defenses; the defense only turned things around when going against the league’s worst offenses). Pete Carroll’s game-management has been atrocious the entire time he’s been here (wasted time outs, taking forever to get the plays called into our offense, hyper-conservative decisions on fourth downs and in plays called in general when behind the sticks), and he has failed to adjust to a changing NFL when it comes to scheme on both sides of the ball.

It would be nice to have a head coach that hewed closer to more of an analyical mindset. It’s imperative that we set up our offense to take advantage of the skillset of our best players (our quarterback and top two receivers), which also coincides with building our offensive line to be better at pass protection (when we seemingly always go after guys who are better run blockers).

As for the defense, yes we need a smarter coordinator to set us up better for success, but I think here is where our personnel department has severely failed us. The last outside pass rusher we drafted and successfully developed was Frank Clark, and he was a guy we let walk. We continually over-draft and over-pay the linebacker position (dating back to the Mike Holmgren days), when those guys are a dime a dozen. And, too often we’ve relied on homegrown secondary players (Tre Flowers, Tedric Thompson, Lano Hill, etc.) and stuck with them too long in hoping they’d figure it out, to the detriment of our pass defense. And, assuming we overpay Shaquill Griffin to be just an okay cornerback (who almost never generates turnovers), that’ll be another move that ultimately backfires and hampers our salary cap.

Cap management has been abysmal ever since the L.O.B. era graduated to second (and third) contracts. Overpaying linebackers and running backs, underpaying linemen (on both sides of the ball), and ultimately being stuck with a quarterback at the top of the market who can’t do it all himself (because, news flash: NO quarterback can do it all himself; the Chiefs will learn once the talent level around Mahomes dips, particularly on the defensive side of the ball). It’s left us cash-strapped every year, unable to do much of anything with the few million dollars we manage to open up, and what we do spend it on tends to be terribly-overpriced veterans (Greg Olsen, Luke Joeckel). That forces our hand into trading away valuable high draft picks for truly impactful stars (Jamal Adams, Carlos Dunlap), which kicks the can down the road. Remember how the Houston Texans under Bill O’Brien totally fucked themselves playing for the short-term by mortgaging their future? That’s the road we’re headed down. The more years that pass between the present and the last time we made the Super Bowl (or even the NFC Championship Game, since it was the same year), the more desperate Pete Carroll and John Schneider will be. Which will lead them to make more and more panic deals to try to win now, ultimately resulting in a long period of mediocrity if we’re not careful.

No one “wins forever” in the NFL, I don’t care who you are. It’s a fine motto, but it’s an unrealistic expectation. The chickens come home to roost at some point.

Here’s what we do know: Pete Carroll and John Schneider were at their best when they took a franchise at its nadir and turned it into the best team in the NFL (and one of the best teams of all time). The Seahawks were largely good under Mike Holmgren (with one season of relative greatness), then they fell off in 2008 and 2009. Carroll & Schneider came in prior to the 2010 season and the Seahawks won a Super Bowl in 2013.

Here’s also what we know: we haven’t won a damn thing since.

Do these guys know how to run a successful team long term? Or, are they just expert house-flippers who can only turn garbage dumps into mansions?

OR, did they just get super lucky and are actually just mediocre-at-best when they’re not continually hitting the lottery with draft picks and free agent signings?

If you believe in these guys and their ability to spot young (or underappreciated veteran) talent and cultivate it into a championship squad, then maybe you’d be in favor of a fresh start among the nucleus? Trade Russell Wilson to the Jets, get our draft picks back (plus the #2 overall selection), dump Bobby Wagner and anyone else who is old and overpaid, and start off with a fresh slate from a salary cap perspective effective 2022!

This obviously comes with the most risk. First and foremost, you have to hit on a rookie quarterback either in the 2021 or 2022 draft and hope they’re able to start immediately and produce at a high level. Then, you have to do what we did from 2010-2012: hit on elite young talent on the defensive side of the ball at key positions so that we’re ready to dominate the conference in 2-3 years. You have to hire a smart defensive coordinator and have the coaching staff in place to build these guys into winners. All while being second-guessed by the entirety of the football-following public; it’s a tall order!

As I’ll get into later this week (and, as I’ve said before), I think the Seahawks SHOULD drop Bobby Wagner and some of these other aging vets. I could also buy an argument to trade Wilson, if the return was right! Sure, he’s got another ten years in the league. Sure, he’s a proven winner and one of the best quarterbacks alive. Yes, I know what it’s like trying to 8-8 my way with a league-average guy under center. But, I also know that Wilson isn’t getting any younger. More importantly, he’s not getting any FASTER. You’ve seen what I’ve seen: he’s not escaping the breaking-down pocket as easily; these defensive linemen are catching up to him and bringing him down more often than he’s getting away and making magical things happen on the run. And, over the last few weeks, even when he HAS managed to avoid a sack, he’s converting a painfully small percentage of these sandlot throws into completions deep down field (certainly a much smaller percentage than he used to complete). Wilson is also not getting any TALLER. I never complained about his height when he was fast enough to elude defenders; but if he can’t run, and he can’t see over the crowd of linemen around him in the pocket, then how are we going to sustain drives against the league’s best defenses? How are we going to improve our third down conversions when opposing teams know we have to throw and can tee off on a turtling Wilson who succumbs to an avalanche of bodies?

Look, I’m not saying the Seahawks MUST trade Wilson. I’m not even saying I think they should. But, if they did, and the return was right, I could at least understand the argument. What is more likely: the Seahawks win a championship with the status quo, the Seahawks win a championship with Russell Wilson and a different front office, or the Seahawks win a championship with the same front office and a different quarterback?

Honestly, I don’t know the answer to that, but I’ll tell you what I believe: the REAL answer is D. None of the Above.

I don’t think the Seahawks will win a championship again with the organization as is. I think ultimately Russell Wilson will outlast Pete Carroll and John Schneider (and, obviously, the coordinators set in place), but I also don’t think Wilson will ever win another title in a Seahawks uniform. I think the Seahawks will make the playoffs plenty of times over the next decade, and our seasons will continue to end just as they have since 2015: disappointing and underachieving.

I won’t say the Seahawks will never again make another Super Bowl (I’ve learned my lesson making that guarantee), but I will say the team will look TOTALLY different from the top to the bottom the next time they do. And, if I’m ultimately proven right, then why not blow it all up now and get a jumpstart on things? What are we waiting for? To age another ten-plus years while being in the same place we are now? What’s the point of that?

I’m Dreading This Playoff Game Against The Rams

The only other time the Seahawks squared off against the Rams in the playoffs was in the 2004 season. We went 9-7 and won the NFC West – the first of four consecutive divisional championships under Mike Holmgren – in the year before we made it to our first-ever Super Bowl. We were the 4-seed in 2004 and somehow the 8-8 Rams were the 5-seed (the Vikings also had an 8-8 record that year, which landed them the 6-seed). In spite of the Rams’ mediocrity that year, they beat the Seahawks twice in the regular season. Even though it’s pretty difficult to beat the same team three times in the same year, I vaguely remember being concerned, as those Rams seemed to have our number (just as these Rams today – and as all Rams teams in the Pete Carroll era – seem to have our number).

I don’t remember much about that playoff game, other than the fact that we did, in fact, lose to the Rams for a third time that season. 27-20. We apparently overcame a 14-3 first half deficit to take a 20-17 lead early in the fourth quarter. But, we stalled in the red zone on our final drive with less than two minutes to go, turning it over on downs. I remember none of this, of course (the game from that year I remember vividly is the first time we lost to the Rams in the regular season, in overtime, when our friend who’s a 49ers fan showed up halfway through, just as those very same Rams mounted a comeback – down 17 points halfway through the fourth quarter – to win by 6 in less than 15 minutes’ worth of game time; our friend is a jinx and I vowed to never watch any more Seahawks games in his presence for the rest of my life).

I’ll be honest, there’s a significant portion of my brain that thinks the Seahawks already used up all of their good luck in defeating the Rams two weeks ago. Is that at all rational? Of course not. But, such is my life as a Seattle sports fan.

That having been said, I’d rather the game be played in Seattle than in Los Angeles. Since we needed to defeat them two weeks ago to make that happen, I guess I shouldn’t be too broken up over that one. This would be the best thing going in our favor right now. It’s not a lot – and certainly there won’t be any fans in attendance to give us our usual boost – but it’s something. The 2020 Seahawks still went 7-1 at home, so you can’t tell me Home Field Advantage doesn’t exist at all; it might be lessened, but it’ll never be zero.

The next feather in our cap is the Rams’ quarterback situation. It’s only unfortunate that we don’t have that crowd noise here, because I think we could really get into his head what with this being our first home playoff game since 2016. Jared Goff famously injured the thumb on his throwing hand the last time these two teams played. He managed to finish that game, but then needed to have surgery soon thereafter. Goff missed last week’s finale – where the Rams ousted the Cardinals from playoff contention – but he’s been seen practicing on a limited basis so far this week and it looks like he’ll be able to play. His backup is a guy whose name I refuse to learn, who made his first career NFL start last week. The backup is mobile, but obviously far from good.

I think a lot of Seahawks fans are looking forward to having Goff back behind center; I don’t know if I’m necessarily on the same wavelength. I think Goff – as flawed as he is – is still leaps and bounds better than his backup (otherwise, at this point, I don’t know why the backup wouldn’t have been given more of a shot, given Goff’s limitations from a mobility standpoint, as well as the fact that he seems like a fucking dullard). Nevertheless, if the Seahawks are going to win this game, they’re going to need Bad Goff to show up. The Rams are 4-6 when Goff throws an interception; they’re 5-0 when he doesn’t (technically, they’re 6-0, since he clearly didn’t throw an interception in the game he didn’t play in). They’re 2-5 in games where Goff has been sacked two or more times. In only one of the games the Rams lost did Goff have a passer rating over 100. There’s a pretty clear correlation there that if you can harass Goff into mistakes, it means bad things for the Rams as a team.

The Seahawks should have the horses on defense to do just that. There are concerns, though. Jarran Reed and Bryan Mone – two of our three best defensive tackles – came up injured in the last week. Reed has an oblique strain and is questionable; Mone has an ankle injury that he previously had to overcome after missing a few weeks. This is the exact reason why you hate to lose someone like Snacks Harrison, but he couldn’t bring himself to stick it out for the playoff run as a backup/bench guy. This obviously hurts us in our interior pass rush, but more importantly it seriously weakens our run defense. I do expect both to play, but it also wouldn’t shock me in the slightest for one or both of them to come up lame in the first quarter and have to sit out the rest of the game.

The Rams want to run they ball. They’re DYING to run the ball! Whatever it takes to reduce the load on Goff’s shoulders. You want to know why the Seahawks looked so good in the second half of that game down in L.A. earlier this season? Because the Rams went super conservative with a run-heavy gameplan so their quarterback wouldn’t lose the game for them! Run defense has been the Seahawks’ specialty throughout this season – even when our pass defense and pass rush stunk early on, we could be counted on to stifle the opposing run attack – but there have been spots here and there where we’ve struggled. The Vikings figured us out. The Giants had a couple of drives in their game that cost us dearly. Everyone thinks the Rams are the second coming of The Greatest Show On Turf, but the truth is they love to run it as much as anyone. It opens up their play-action game – which they’re terrific at – and obviously (as I’ve said multiple times) it takes the ball out of Goff’s hands. If the Rams are able to run the ball at will, there’s no stopping them.

At which point, it would be incumbent upon the Seahawks’ offense to show us LITERALLY ANYTHING against the league’s best defense. We’ve managed all of 36 points in two games. I’m pretty confident that it will take more than 18 points to beat the Rams tomorrow.

This really gets to the heart of my discontent; I don’t think the Seahawks’ offense is good against anything other than the worst defenses, none of which will be stepping foot out there on Saturday or ever in these playoffs. We’ve been scuffling for so long now, and for so many different reasons, that we have to conjure up conspiracy theories as to why this side of the ball has been underperforming so badly. Secret, undisclosed injuries; Pete Carroll meddling too much with the offensive gameplan; guys saving themselves for the postseason. That’s on top of legitimate concerns like the actual health and injuries to our offensive linemen and running backs, and the fact that D.K. Metcalf can’t go one game without dropping a ball that hits him on the hands.

I don’t really love this Seahawks offense against ANY defense in the NFC, but I especially don’t like them against the league’s absolute #1 defense.

Which means, *sigh*, we’re in for another low-scoring slog-’em-out slug-fest that’s nothing but punts and turnovers. And that’s probably a BEST-case scenario! There’s a relatively decent chance that the Rams run away with this one; there’s almost zero chance the Seahawks do so. We need to hope the game remains close, and that we can find away to eke it out in the end.

I’m not super confident. I know I’m this dick-wagging swagger machine when I come on here and talk about my favorite sports teams; but I’m really nervous, you guys! I have zero confidence that we’re going to get it done this weekend!

And, of course, when we lose, it’ll probably look a lot like what happened the last time the Rams beat us in the playoffs, when they went on and got throttled by 30 points in the Divisional Round to the Falcons. Presumably, this time it would be the Rams getting throttled by the Packers, but you get the idea.

Fingers crossed for a mini-miracle, everyone! Otherwise, it’s going to be a long and terrible fucking offseason.

There Is No Reason To Look Forward To This Seahawks Game In Washington

It’s time to face facts that our loss to the Giants eliminated any reasonable hope for the Seahawks to get the number one seed. At 9-4, we have two teams better than us (Green Bay and New Orleans) who we’d have to surpass (currently with 10-3 records). For tie-breaking purposes, both have a better conference record (8-2 to our 6-3), meaning we’d have to win out and they’d have to lose to another NFC team (and even then, further tiebreakers I won’t get into here might prevent us from climbing to the top).

The Packers have the Panthers and Bears left (as well as a meaningless game against the Titans that doesn’t help us if they lose to them). The Saints have the Vikings and Panthers left (as well as a meaningless game against the Chiefs this weekend). The odds of the Packers AND Saints losing to one of those NFC teams seems remote, so it’s pointless to even think about.

Our top priority in this brave new world should be the NFC West. We’ve been second place in this fucking division three years running, and as a DIRECT result, we have failed to advance past the Divisional Round of the playoffs. When you’re forced to play Wild Card weekend, and then go on the road in the second round, you have an exponentially more difficult time advancing to what is our ultimate goal every year we have Russell Wilson as our quarterback: the Super Bowl.

The difference this year is a two or three seed in the playoffs (and a home game in the first round) or probably a five seed wild card slot, and a road game in the first round (likely against this very same Washington team). In that sense, isn’t this Sunday’s game vital? Not really! The only game that matters is next week, when we host the Rams (also 9-4); the winner of that game will almost certainly win the NFC West.

I guess the Washington game is somewhat important, though. If we win this one AND beat the Rams, that buys us an opportunity to lose to the 49ers in Week 17 (I think, don’t quote me on that; I haven’t worked out all the possible scenarios in my head yet).

Anyway, the point is: the last thing any of us want is to play in Washington TWICE. Fuck, I don’t like playing there at all! Their field is fucking atrocious and it seems like an ACL or two are torn this time of year there every fucking season. Their field should be fucking outlawed along with their stupid former nickname.

I’m not dreading this game simply for the likelihood that a few of our guys will get injured this weekend (though that cloud will be hanging over me until Sunday afternoon, to be sure). I hate this matchup for any number of reasons! This will not be a fun game to watch. Much like the game against the Giants, it will be a fucking defensive slog, with lots of mistakes, punts, and probably turnovers. So, if that gets your juices flowing, then God help you.

The Washington Football Team has a tremendous defensive line and pass rush. As someone depending on Russell Wilson to win him a fantasy football playoff game, I’m fully expecting another bed-shitting performance. I would hope we’ve learned our lesson from the loss two weeks ago, and will rely more on quick passing and running the football, but I’m not holding my breath that even that will work. Our offensive line has been chewed up, and we’re seeing more critical missed blocks than we have all season. Wilson isn’t a spring chicken; he’s not escaping these increasingly-faster defenders as he ages into the middle of his prime. I expect him to be hit, a lot. And bad things tend to happen when Wilson takes a pounding.

The good thing is, like the Giants, Washington doesn’t have much of an offense to speak of. Their great running back appears to be hampered by an injury (if he plays at all). They’re down to a reliable Alex Smith (avoids turnovers, but also avoids making many big plays down field) and an elite receiver in Scary Terry McLaurin. If we can keep him in check, they’ll surely be in check-down mode all game.

Their offense is like a slightly better version of the Giants’ offense. So, instead of giving up 17 points, I would expect us to give up around 23. We are certainly capable of besting that mark, and even though it’ll be a challenge, I do expect we’ll get there.

The keys to this game are the same as any other. Try to get them off the field, so they’re not absolutely killing us in Time of Possession. Force them into field goals instead of touchdowns as much as possible. And for the love of all that is holy, the Seahawks’ offense MUST NOT go in the tank for huge stretches of this game!

The odds of a blowout win for either team seems remote. The lack of fans makes home field irrelevant (presumably, we’ll pack the proper cleats we need, but I guess you never know; we’ll find out if our guys are slipping and sliding around). From a pure talent perspective, I would say the Seahawks have a better than 50% chance of prevailing. The coaching is relatively equal on both sides. Nevertheless, I wouldn’t give the Seahawks more than a 60% chance of winning this one; there is work to be done.

Thankfully, it’s a 10am game (imagine if I’d ever said that in the Mike Holmgren years; you’d think I’d belong in a looney bin!), so either way this game will be over with plenty of time to move on to more enjoyable things. Christmas movies, Christmas music, Christmas TV specials, Christmas cookies, and just enjoying all of our Christmas decorations!

Looking At The Best Seahawks Wide Receiver Duos Of All Time

In reading through the Seattle Times sports section last week, I came upon an interesting question in one of the mailbag articles asking something to the effect of, “Is D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett the greatest wide receiver duo in Seahawks history?” That’s a bold statement (in the form of a question) after just a year and five games, but I think it’s worth exploring more fully.

I think, without question, the potential is there for this duo to be the best and it not even being all that close. The greatest Seahawks receiver of all time is Steve Largent; he’s a hall of famer and once held every significant receiving record in NFL history before Jerry Rice broke them all. Based on athleticism, you could argue Joey Galloway was the most talented receiver the Seahawks have ever had. But, I don’t think he will ever make the NFL Hall of Fame, and he only played in Seattle for five years before being traded away.

Regardless, based on the whole package, on top of his rapport with Russell Wilson (it always helps to have a future Hall of Famer throwing to you in both of your primes), I think D.K. Metcalf could blow away any and all wide receivers the Seahawks have ever employed. When you factor in Tyler Lockett’s all-around versatility – deep threat, short and intermediate god, great hands, great coordination with his feet near the out-of-bounds lines, can play outside or in the slot, durable, consistent – I mean, this is a monster pair! This is, like, Randy Moss/Wes Welker!

Anyway, let’s go backwards and look at all the great Seahawks duos and see how they match up.

Immediately preceeding this one, we have Lockett and Doug Baldwin (who was the consensus #2 best Seahawks receiver all time, until Metcalf overtakes him); they played together from 2015-2018. I would argue Lockett didn’t really make a leap until 2018, which coincides with an injury-plagued final year for Baldwin, so that’s a tough hang.

One that gets a little overlooked is Golden Tate and Doug Baldwin. Boy those were the good ol’ days! They played together from 2011-2013, but Tate didn’t do much in 2011, and Baldwin was largely injured in 2012. However, that magical 2013 season was something to behold! From a talent standpoint, both players were pretty elite and fit our scheme and quarterback perfectly. They’d be pretty high on my list.

I was discouraged – when I read the Times article – that Bobby Engram was nowhere to be found. His time with the Seahawks was quietly pretty special! In 8 years, he put up nearly 5,000 yards, largely out of the slot, and for some really good Seahawks teams. Nate Burleson overlapped with Engram from 2006-2008, with the 2007 season being their peak as a duo. Darrell Jackson, though, overlapped with Engram from 2001-2006, which is really THE duo from the Mike Holmgren era. D-Jack had three seasons over 1,000 yards, plus another 956 in 2006. Engram was largely a complementary player in those seasons, but no one was more of a go-to on third down. I rank D-Jack and Engram pretty high as well (and don’t even talk to me about Deion Branch, because I’m pretending he never existed).

I guess you also have to include Koren Robinson and D-Jack, who overlapped from 2001-2004 (with 2002-2003 being particularly elite), but Robinson had D.K.’s level of talent, only unrealized due to substance-abuse issues. There’s less of a warm, fuzzy feeling in my heart for this duo.

If you want to talk about a forgotten blast from the past, look no further than Sean Dawkins and Derrick Mayes! They were the guys for just two years, from 1999-2000, but we rung in Y2K with a combined 1,821 yards between them!

What I’m finding is, through the 90’s and much of the 80’s, there were a lot of good 2-season runs (Joey Galloway with some guy, Brian Blades before him with some other guy, and so on) but no really great extended run for any particular duos. Also, to be fair, the Seahawks were largely terrible for the 90’s, but that’s neither here nor there. Even through the 80’s and the Largent years, it was mostly a one-receiver show. You’d be hard-pressed to find a good second option until you get to Sam McCullum, who overlapped with Largent from 1976-1981. McCullum had a couple of decent years where he caught over 700 yards apiece, but Largent was really doing the heavy lifting in this tenure.

And that’s pretty much it! So, outside of D.K. and Lockett, here are my rankings:

  1. Golden Tate & Doug Baldwin
  2. Darrell Jackson & Bobby Engram
  3. Steve Largent & Sam McCullum
  4. Doug Baldwin & Tyler Lockett
  5. Sean Dawkins & Derrick Mayes
  6. Bobby Engram & Nate Burleson
  7. Joey Galloway & Whoever
  8. Brian Blades & Whoever
  9. Koren Robinson & Darrell Jackson

If I had to place D.K. Metcalf & Tyler Lockett in that list right this minute, I’d probably put them fourth and bump everyone else down a peg. But, give me another year and a half and you could EASILY see this duo in the #1 spot! I can’t wait to see every minute of them together!

Where Will L.J. Collier Rank Among All-Time Seahawks First Round Draft Busts?

If this sounds like I’m giving up on L.J. Collier … I kind of am.

The Seahawks, as you well know, don’t tend to pick in the first round of drafts very often under Pete Carroll and John Schneider. Since 2010, they’ve made exactly seven first round picks in six NFL drafts, and after that first year, it’s a real Who’s Who of Utter Crap.

That’s not totally fair, but I’d say “underwhelming” is the general theme once you go past Russell Okung and Earl Thomas:

  • 2011 – James Carpenter (OL)
  • 2012 – Bruce Irvin (LB/DE)
  • 2016 – Germain Ifedi (OL)
  • 2018 – Rashaad Penny (RB)
  • 2019 – L.J. Collier (DE)

Woof. Bruce Irvin is clearly the best of THAT pitiful bunch, but even he hasn’t lived up to what you might expect from a pass rusher taken with the 15th overall pick.

There aren’t enough bad things to say about everyone else. James Carpenter was supposed to be a right tackle, but he struggled, had to move inside to guard, still struggled (though not as much), and ended up leaving after his rookie deal expired. Germain Ifedi was ALSO supposed to be a right tackle, but he too struggled, moved inside briefly before returning to tackle, and made moderate improvement (but, based on his overall body of work, it has since been determined that not only is he not worth a high-money contract, but he’s also not good enough to remain on the outside of the line) before leaving after his rookie deal expired. And, just the fact that the Seahawks took a running back AT ALL in the first round is enough for most fans to write off Rashaad Penny, though I would argue he has looked pretty good when healthy and in shape.

But, there’s no legitimate defense whatsoever for Collier. There are EXCUSES, sure. He sprained his ankle as a rookie and missed all of Training Camp last year. That set him back for the entire season, as he never fully got acclimated to the defense. Pro Football Reference has him at 152 snaps on the season; by comparison, Bobby Wagner led the entire defense with 1,054 snaps, and Jadeveon Clowney led the D-Line with 605 (and he missed three games).

I don’t care that Collier was such a low first round pick, he’s a first rounder and it’s inexcusable that he either wasn’t prepared enough or just plain wasn’t good enough to see the field more. This is on a defense, mind you, that was as bad as it gets in its pass rush. The sack leader on the 2019 Seahawks was Rasheem Green with 4.0. I mean, I don’t know what more to tell you; Collier was a first rounder and he couldn’t crack THAT rotation?! What a joke!

A lot of people want to write off his rookie campaign and believe he’ll be better in 2020. Well, he’d almost HAVE to be, right? How could you be any worse than that? Collier had three tackles and that’s it; that’s the entirety of his stat line. But, I can’t say I have any reasonable expectations of improvement. If you’re effectively healthy for the majority of the regular season – even as a rookie, even if you missed all of Training Camp – as a first round draft pick, there should be enough God-given ability for you to do LITERALLY ANYTHING.

Any hopes that Collier is going to be a future Pro Bowler or even a quality starter should probably be thrown out the window at this point. Obviously, I hope I’m wrong here, but I don’t think I am. The only reason this came to mind at all is because of what’s going on with this coronavirus ordeal. Collier’s struggles last year are largely attributed to his missing Training Camp; you know what he’s likely to also miss in 2020? Training Camp! EVERYONE is likely to miss Training Camp because we probably won’t be in any sort of condition as a country to allow for Training Camp, or any other large gatherings of people. Call it bad luck all you want – indeed, it’s quite unfortunate – but that doesn’t change the fact that Collier is likely to head into Season Two just as behind the 8-ball as he was in Season One.

So, in case you think I haven’t laid out a good-enough case for why Collier has really legitimate potential to be the worst first round draft pick of the Carroll/Schneider era, let me summarize:

  • Russell Okung – Great
  • Earl Thomas – Hall of Famer
  • James Carpenter – Competent Guard, mostly with the Jets
  • Bruce Irvin – Good
  • Germain Ifedi – Semi-Competent Tackle
  • Rashaad Penny – Okay
  • L.J. Collier – Probably Terrible

With that out of the way, how does my vision for Collier potentially rank among the all-time Seahawks first round draft busts? I won’t go through every single guy, but let’s talk about the worst of the worst (that I have at least limited knowledge about).

Aaron Curry and Lawrence Jackson always come immediately to mind when Seahawks fans talk about first round busts, but I would argue both of those guys are at least more competent than you remember. Lo-Jack had 19.5 sacks in his career! Is there any indication whatsoever that Collier could reach that level? Curry’s main problem is that he was – for some reason – taken with the fourth overall pick, so high expectations really tarnish his reputation in this scenario.

I’ll gloss over a lot of players before those guys, until we get to Chris McIntosh and Lamar King. King was famously Mike Holmgren’s first-ever pick as General Manager of the Seahawks when he came over from Green Bay. He was killed then, and continues to be killed now for taking King, but … 12.0 sacks in 57 games. Obviously not great, or even good, but not the absolute worst either. McIntosh, on the other hand, might give Collier a run for his money. He was taken 22nd overall and only played in 24 games across two seasons on the O-line before flaming out of the league.

Dan McGwire will always be on my shit list – through no fault of his own, really – for being the guy we selected ahead of Brett Favre in 1991. First-ever Seahawks draft pick – Steve Niehaus – also deserves recognition, for only making it into 39 games in his 4-year career (thee with the Seahawks) and accumulating exactly zero sacks (hard to say if they were counting that stat back then, but clearly he didn’t make much of an impact as the second-overall selection in 1976).

And, if you want to count Supplemental Draft first rounders, you’ve gotta throw The Boz in there, as well as someone named Gordon Hudson (who was a tight end taken in 1984, who only played one season, in 1986, but at least he caught 13 balls for 131 yards and a TD).

I’m throwing Collier into the Top 3 Worst Seahawks First Round Draft Picks with Dan McGwire and Chris McIntosh. Obviously, we’re only one season in, so he can EASILY get his name off of this list with just a minimal amount of production. But, you know what? Consider the challenge thrown down! Let’s turn this career around!

The Mediocre 90’s Ended With An Unlikely Seahawks Playoffs Apperance

I’ve been seriously negligent in my ongoing series of Seattle Playoff Futility, so thank you COVID-19 for killing sports and affording me the opportunity to wallow in the past. I’m effectively the human embodiment of this meme:

Also: I be shopping …

The 1990s were fucking HARD to be a Seahawks fan, especially for me. Which is a shame, because I was born in March of 1981, so they should’ve been smack dab in the epicenter of my wheelhouse. I was 7 years old in 1988 – the last time they made the playoffs before this year – and I remember very little about that time as a Seahawks fan, other than the fact that Steve Largent was my favorite professional athlete on the planet. But, he retired after the 1989 season, and it was all downhill from there (Largent would go on to a Congressional seat in Oklahoma by the time the Seahawks returned to the post-season in 1999).

Nevertheless, formative Steven A. Taylor caught the Seahawks bug coming out of the 80’s, which made the next ten years all the more tragic.

When you talk about the Worst People In Seattle Sports History, most others get overshadowed by the people involved in the Sonics going to OKC, but there’s a special wing in Sports Hell for Ken Behring (and owners of his ilk). He bought the team in 1988 – again, the last time the Seahawks made the playoffs – and he did everything to destroy this franchise from the inside out, so he could move them to Los Angeles in 1996.

It all started by disillusioning would-be Hall of Fame head coach Chuck Knox after the 1991 season, stripping personnel control away from the most-successful figurehead in franchise history to that point. Behring went on to hire Tom Flores, who had success with the Raiders in the early 80’s, but was well past his prime. It’s hard to tell who was more inept – the bumbling Flores, or the men he was charged with turning into professional football players – but the real losers were the fans, who had to watch the Seahawks from 1992-1994 go 14-34; including the absolute nadir in franchise history, when we went 2-14 in 1992 (as fate would have it, we weren’t even competent at LOSING, as we somehow managed to defeat the only other 2-14 team that season – the New England Patriots, IN Foxboro – to miss out on drafting Drew Bledsoe #1 overall, settling for the incomprehensibly-pedestrian Rick Mirer at #2).

As we got to the Dennis Erickson era from 1995-1998, my interest in rooting for the Seahawks took a serious nosedive. Thankfully, Paul Allen stepped up in 1997 to save the franchise and help get a new stadium built. That nevertheless didn’t stop this team from an endless string of middling finishes during this period:

  • 1995: 8-8
  • 1996: 7-9
  • 1997: 8-8
  • 1998: 8-8

Woof. There were some interesting players on those teams – future Hall of Famer Cortez Kennedy was wrecking fools on the D-Line, Joey Galloway was drafted and was easily the most-talented receiver we’d had since Largent, and Warren Moon was a gun-for-hire for those last two seasons at the tail-end of his career – but we were simply unable to put it all together for one reason or another (epitomized in a December game in 1998 against the Jets in Giants stadium, when Vinny Testaverde was clearly short of the goalline on a 4th down QB-sneak, yet the refs didn’t see him reach the ball over after the fact, resulting in the NFL re-instituting Instant Replay the next year; you could argue that lone play prevented us from making the playoffs and ultimately cost Erickson his job).

By the time 1999 rolled around, I was all but actively courting other NFL teams to root for (the Atlanta Falcons were a particular favorite of mine at the time). If it were easier (like today) to root for a team in another market, I’m sure I would’ve bailed long before. Paul Allen, to his credit, was quite a hands-off owner, but he knew when to step in at the right time. When it was clear that Mike Holmgren was available, Allen stepped in and hired him to be Head Coach and General Manager, unprecedented to that point in franchise history. And it worked! That move single-handedly kicked off the greatest run of Seahawks teams (until Allen turned around and hired Pete Carroll in 2010).

Even factoring in the disasterous Jim Mora season in 2009, from 1999 through 2019, the Seahawks made the playoffs 14 times in those 21 seasons (including 9 division championships, three Super Bowl appearances, and the one NFL championship I’ll never have to write about for this series).

What makes the 1999 season awkward to analyze is the fact that so many of the guys on this team were holdovers from the Erickson era (especially that 1998 team that came so close to breaking the futility streak). It’s brought into even starker perspective when you consider that first Holmgren draft was among the worst in franchise history (Lamar King, anyone?).

But, that team was weird in general. There were zero expectations heading in; we all figured there’d be at least ONE rebuilding season before Holmgren could tear everything down and build it back up again. Which made it all the more surprising when the 1999 Seahawks started out 8-2; they would go on to finish the season 9-7 and be improbable champions of the AFC West. Jon Kitna won the starting job and was a reasonably-capable Game Manager in his 15 games that season. Ricky Watters was an absolute stud for us at running back with over 1,200 yards rushing and another 387 yards receiving. Unfortunately, Joey Galloway – who should have THRIVED in a Mike Holmgren system – held out for half the season in a contract dispute and hardly made a dent that year when he did play (he would go on to be traded the next year for two first round picks, who would go on to be Shaun Alexander and Koren Robinson).

Obviously, backing into the playoffs is never a good thing (we were tied with the Chiefs at 9-7, but held the head-to-head tiebreaker by defeating them twice, including a Must Win matchup in Week 16 in the Kingdome), but considering it had been over a decade since our last post-season berth, beggars can’t be choosers.

Our reward was the #3 seed and a home Wild Card matchup against the 9-7 Miami Dolphins. All things considered, that was EASILY the cushiest of matchups that we could’ve gotten, considering the Titans – who would go on to lose in the Super Bowl to the Rams that year – were a 13-3 Wild Card team in the 4-seed, and the Bills were 11-5 as the 5-seed (Hello Music City Miracle!).

This was our first home playoff game since the 1984 season. It would also prove to be the last time Hall of Famer Dan Marino ever won a football game (the Dolphins would go on to be DESTROYED by the Jags the next week, 62-7).

But, Seahawks fans old enough to remember January 9, 2000, obviously remember this as the Trace Armstrong game.

Trace Armstrong was a … good defensive end. He played from 1989-2003; in five of those seasons he had double-digit sacks (and one of those seasons he was a Pro Bowler, in 2000, when he had a career-high 16.5). Sometimes he was great, sometimes he was mediocre, and obviously – because this is football – sometimes he was injured.

On January 9, 2000, however, he was a fucking WORLD DESTROYER!

Of his three sacks in the game, two of them came on third down (resulting in punts). His final sack came late in the fourth quarter, on a drive that would result in a punt (it resulted in a punt, because on third down, he stopped Kitna for a 1-yard gain to force yet another punt). But, even that doesn’t do his day justice. He was in Kitna’s face ALL DAMN DAY. If he wasn’t getting the sack, he was wreaking so much havoc that the guy next to him got it (Kitna was sacked 6 times total, 3 times in the fourth quarter, including twice on that all-important next-to-final possession).

On the final possession of the game, Kitna was 1 for 7 for 17 yards. This game outlined in great detail the need for improved offensive line play, as well as at the quarterback position (within two years, the Seahawks would go get Trent Dilfer, Matt Hasselbeck, and Steve Hutchinson – on top of eventual MVP Shaun Alexander – to really solidify things on the offensive side of the ball).

The Seahawks had so many chances to win this game. They were up 10-3 at half, and then 17-10 midway through the third quarter after a kickoff return for a touchdown. The offense couldn’t do jack shit in the second half, though. Aside from that kickoff return, we went 3 & Out, 5 & Out, 6 & Out, 3 & Out, and that final 7-play drive that ended on Downs; we moved the ball a total of 27 yards of offense and another 22 yards of defensive pass interference on one play. That’s just never going to get the job done.

Jon Kitna was 14/30 for 162, 1 TD and 2 INTs; Dan Marino wasn’t much better (17/30 for 196, 1 TD and 0 INTs), but he was only sacked one time and obviously didn’t make the mistakes Kitna made. In the end, it was a workmanlike 20-17 victory for the Dolphins, in the final game the Seahawks would ever play in the Kingdome (indeed, the final event the Kingdome ever hosted!).

All of that turmoil being said, as you could see by the thrashing the Jaguars gave to the Dolphins the very next week, there’s no way in HELL the Seahawks would’ve advanced any further. So, would you rather lose in a semi-heartwarming way to a beloved figure like Dan Marino? Or, would you like to be murdered and have your corpse micturated upon by Hitler and The Devil after ass-fucking you for three consecutive hours? Kind of a harsh image to put on a team like the Jags, but you get the idea.

Better days would be ahead for the Mike Holmgren-led Seahawks, but of course, not before a few more instances of utter heartbreak.

The Biggest Blunders In Seattle Sports History

There’s always a reason to be disgruntled about what’s going on with sports in the Seattle area. We’re far from burdened with championship squads, unless the MLS or WNBA is your bag (which is fine if they are, but they’re just not mine). I don’t have a good handle on the breakdown, but essentially most sports fans complain about one of two things: something unfortunate happened to our team that’s outside of their control, or our team did something fucking stupid that effectively sabotaged all hope for success.

If we were talking about the former, I’d bring up something like Super Bowl XL (where I’ll go down to my dying breath contending we were jobbed by the refs at every turn), various good-looking trades that just didn’t pan out for a variety of reasons (Percy Harvin, Vin Baker, the deal to bring Cliff Lee in), or the countless injuries to promising young stars/prospects who could’ve been great had their bodies only held together (Franklin Gutierrez, Malik McDowell, Danny Hultzen, our entire secondary right before Super Bowl XL).

But, I’m talking about the blunders! The dumb-looking shit that was dumb-looking at the time and only proceeded to grow ever more mind-boggling with each passing year. It’s a rough sketch, but here are the top ten worst self-inflicted wounds I can think of in Seattle sports history.

#10 – We Want The Ball & We’re Gonna Score

You gotta have stakes in this thing, so any individual event has to come in the playoffs at a minimum. This one happened in the Wild Card round of the 2003 season. It’s not JUST that the Seahawks won the coin flip heading into overtime and Matt Hasselbeck made that unfortunate guarantee (indeed, I thought it was cool then, and I would gladly welcome such bravado anytime), but combine that with the fateful call.

Let’s go back: remember, this was back when the first score of overtime wins, regardless; so all we needed to do was get into field goal range. We got a first down and had the ball at our own 45 yard line. A stuffed run and an incompletion made it 3rd & 11. And, for some reason, Mike Holmgren decided to call a 5-wide receiver set. For some reason on top of that, Hasselbeck decided to throw the ball to our 5th receiver, Alex Bannister. For some reason on top of THAT, it was an out-pass – the easiest one to undercut and run back for a pick-six – that the receiver didn’t even get beyond the 11 yards needed for the first down! And, of course, not for nothing, but the pass was simply terribly thrown. The rest is history, and so began our continued demise whenever we play a playoff game in Lambeau Field.

#9 – The Deal To Trade Cliff Lee Away

It was supposed to be the epitome of a no-brainer. Cliff Lee was heading into the final year of his deal in 2010. At the time, he already had a Cy Young Award under his belt and was probably the best left-handed starting pitcher in the game. The Mariners traded three nobodies to the Phillies to bring Lee to Seattle and the plan was simple. The M’s were coming off of a winning season in 2009, and Lee – paired with a still-in-his-prime Felix Hernandez – was going to help push us over the top and back into playoff contention.

Unfortunately, Cliff Lee got injured in Spring Training, and didn’t make his first start until the last day of April. In spite of Lee going 7 shutout innings that day, the Mariners lost 2-0 to drop their record to 11-12 on the season. On July 9th, our record fell to 34-52, and it was clear no playoffs would be forthcoming. That’s okay! We had a backup plan if things fell apart in spectacular fashion (which they did, as we would go on to lose 101 games). Since Cliff Lee was so great – indeed, his numbers after two months with the Mariners were among the best of his entire career – his value should’ve been sky high for a pitching-needy team looking to cement their status as a championship contender.

But, we had Jackie Z at the helm, and our return – Justin Smoak and three other nobodies – was far from inspiring. This was supposed to jumpstart our big rebuild, and Smoak was supposed to be the centerpiece. Instead, we rode his wave of warning track power into mediocre season after mediocre season. You could throw any number of trades Jackie Z made for the Mariners on the list of greatest blunders, but I’m putting this one here because Cliff Lee was amazing, and we BLEW IT.

#8 – Steve Hutchinson Transition Tag

The Seahawks were riding high after their appearance in Super Bowl XL. The only thing we could do to screw it up was dick around with our best players.

Tim Ruskell’s seat in Hell is being kept warm for him by the resentment and hatred of thousands upon thousands of Seahawks fans. What a buffoon! The offensive line was not only the backbone of the Seahawks’ offense, but it was easily the best part of the entire team, anchored on the left side by two Hall of Famers: Walter Jones & Steve Hutchinson. Through them, we had an MVP in running back Shaun Alexander. Through them, a sixth-round quarterback was able to play at a Pro Bowl level. We had the money, we had the desire, and indeed we had NO ANSWER for Hutch’s replacement when he eventually signed the Vikings’ Poison Pill contract!

The hit to the Seahawks was immediate and obvious. Bottom line was: the Seahawks were never the same again, and didn’t make it back to the Super Bowl until the 2013 season (with an all-new regime and set of superstars at the helm).

#7 – The Erik Bedard Trade

There’s no need to clarify; we all know which Bedard trade I’m talking about. In February of 2008, we gave up Adam Jones (5-time All Star center fielder; NOPE, COULDN’T HAVE USED HIM!), Chris Tillman (an All Star starting pitcher who would go on to have a 38-16 record from 2012-2014; NOPE, COULDN’T HAVE USED HIM!), and George Sherrill (an All Star reliever who would save 52 games from 2008-2009; NOPE, COULDN’T HAVE USED HIM!), among two other stiffs.

What we got back in return was a starter in Bedard who – like Lee before him – was brought in to be paired with a still-in-his-prime Felix Hernandez, coming off of a winning 2007 season. Instead, we got a guy who could never really stay healthy, whose style constantly saw his pitch counts inflated early in games, which meant you could only count on him for about 5 innings per start at best. On top of that, there were rumors abound about how he didn’t really give a shit about baseball or winning and was just in it for the paycheck (more power to you, I guess). He sucked so hard, the Mariners couldn’t even flip him for any semblance of value, which meant Bedard had to go down with the sinking ship that is our Mariners existence. On the plus side, this was the final straw to getting Bill Bavasi fired (on the down side, see: Jackie Z)

#6 – The Lowe/Varitek Trade

Woody Woodward stumbled into a lot of success in his tenure as GM of the Mariners. To our dismay, he had no idea what to do with this team once we started reaching those heights.

The 1997 Mariners were a fun bunch. Tons of heavy hitters all up and down the lineup. Led by Randy Johnson, the starting pitching was good enough to take us all the way, assuming the hitters hit and the relievers didn’t totally shit the bed.

As you might have guessed, there was A LOT of bed shitting in 1997; worst year for bed shitting I’ve ever seen, if I’m being honest! Woody Woodward, not knowing what he was doing or how he could rectify the problem, made two of the worst panic-deals for three of the worst relief pitchers I can imagine. The absolute worst was sending Derek Lowe (a 2-time All Star who would go on to win 176 games in his 17-year career) and Jason Varitek (a 3-time All Star catcher for the Red Sox over 15 seasons) for Heathcliff Slocumb (a turd).

Like most of these deals, this one wasn’t helpful in the short term (the M’s would go on to lose in the first round of the playoffs) and it was an outright disaster in the long-term (we either could’ve had two great players for the next decade, or at least flipped them for better players/prospects).

#5 – Jim McIlvaine Signing

Really the beginning of the end of the great run of Supersonics teams of the 90’s. Almost immediately following our hard-fought defeat in the NBA Finals to the greatest team of all time in six games, the Sonics looked like a team that could easily run it back and re-join the Bulls the very next year. You could argue center was our weakest spot on a team riddled with strengths all the way up and down the roster. So, enter Jim McIlvaine – a guy who had done NOTHING to that point – on a 7-year, $33.6 million deal (which was a lot at the time, trust me). He had a whopping TWO years under his belt at that point, as a reserve on the Washington Bullets, where his big claim to fame was averaging a hair over 2 blocks per game the year before in just under 15 minutes per.

This ungodly amount of money – for a guy who’d proven nothing in his brief pro career – obviously angered a lot of players on the Sonics, particularly Shawn Kemp, who effectively forced his way off the team in a deal that would bring in Vin Baker. Now, you can argue both Kemp and Baker – particularly after the strike season – did a lot to damage their own careers as we headed into the new Willennium, so who’s to say what would’ve happened to the Sonics had we gone in a different direction?

All I know is, McIlvaine instantly became entrenched in the starting lineup his first year with us, averaging 18 of the most worthless minutes of each and every game he was in, bringing NOTHING to the table. He actively made the team worse with his play alone, regardless of what happened to the chemistry in the locker room (which is exceedingly important in the NBA, with how long the season is, and how many games they have to play). We ended up losing in 7 games to the Houston Rockets in the conference semifinals, and that was as good as it got for the rest of the decade.

#4 – Randy Johnson Trade

I did a deep dive on this a few years ago that you can check out (as chance would have it, a lot of these other blunders find their way into this piece!), but the bottom line is this: the Mariners were cheap, and Randy Johnson’s best years were still AHEAD of him.

Moreover, I would argue that while the value looked pretty good at the time – indeed, two starting pitchers and a starting infielder isn’t a bad return – the very best Mariners teams of 2000 & 2001 were in such desperate need for a true #1 ace, that Randy Johnson would’ve been perfect for those teams. I’m sorry, I like Freddy Garcia as much as the next guy, but he’s no Randy. Randy who would go on to win four Cy Young Awards from 1999-2002 (again, the years where the Mariners were playing the very best ball in franchise history); you don’t think he could’ve helped those teams get over the hump, and maybe even win a World Series title?

#3 – Not Drafting Brett Favre

Chuck Knox ran the Seahawks efficiently and to the best of his abilities from 1983-1991. You could argue he got more than anyone could’ve expected him to out of a bunch of ragtag guys, especially with at best a mediocre quarterback in Dave Krieg. When it finally came time to move on, Knox had one man in mind in the 1991 NFL Draft: Brett Favre. Ownership, however, refused to see it, and refused to listen to their legendary head coach, opting to go with Dan McGwire with the 16th overall pick (Favre would fall to the Falcons in the second round).

See, McGwire was 6’8. You know, that insanely crazy height that no NFL teams want, because it’s too damn tall to be an effective quarterback? If you don’t remember McGwire, you’re lucky; he was trash. Knox would leave the Seahawks following the 1991 season, and immediately we’d fall to such lows that we’d have to draft yet another dud in 1993 (Rick Mirer, with the #2 overall pick, after losing an opportunity to draft Drew Bledsoe). That went on to cost us the rest of the 90’s, before Mike Holmgren came to town and properly revived this franchise. Had we had Brett Favre? Who knows?! There’s an alternate universe out there where the Seahawks were one of the great teams of the 1990’s.

By that same token, there’s an alternate universe out there where we had to deal with Favre constantly threatening to retire, then return, then retire, and so on. So, maybe we lucked out in the long run?

#2 – Not Properly Renovating Key Arena

By the early 1990’s, the Seattle Center Coliseum was in shambles. Teams around the league were updating their own arenas and it was time for Seattle to join in. Unfortunately – even though this was set up prior to the Kingdome implosion being a twinkle in any of our eyes – the city and county ultimately went the cheap, tight-ass route in renovating the arena. By the time it re-opened in 1995 – while it was a fine place to enjoy a basketball game, from a fan perspective – it was already out-of-date by NBA standards, and apparently impossible to derive any sort of profit from, again by NBA standards.

Say what you will about the league, or about tax payers funding sports venues, but you can’t deny the fact that the Sonics were the first in this city to start the trend of venue renovations, and they fucking blew it HARD. By the time subsequent ownership groups demanded the funds for a proper NBA facility, the Seahawks and Mariners had already gotten brand new stadia. Considering it had been such a short time since the opening of Key Arena, combined with public fatigue over the matter, it’s not shocking in the slightest that the Sonics were shot down.

You could obviously argue the biggest blunder was selling the Sonics to Howard Schultz, or the Schultz Group buying the load of horseshit from the OKC people. But, all of that stems from the inferior building that was presented to the world ahead of the 1995 season. Had we just gotten THAT right, everything else would’ve fallen into proper order, and we’d still have our fucking basketball team. Instead, 25+ years later, we’re finally getting around to doing what we should’ve done then, and for our troubles we get the NHL instead. An okay consolation prize, but obviously not what I’d prefer.

#1 – Slant At The Goalline

It’s hard to top losing a fucking NBA franchise on the list of biggest sports blunders, but costing your team a championship in the most demoralizing way possible? Yeah, I’d say that qualifies.

I would hope, by now, that consensus has found its head when it comes to the decision to throw in that scenario. The Seahawks had one time out remaining, it was second down. Run it and fail, and we’ve got zero time outs and they know we’re throwing two consecutive times (considering how that play ended up, you can’t tell me it wasn’t on the docket for at least one of those possible attempts).

Long story short: throwing was the correct call. Throwing a fucking SLANT at the goalline, to a fourth receiver in Ricardo Lockette (shades of the Bannister play up top), was absolutely the biggest blunder in Seattle sports history.

If you’re going to throw a slant, throw it to Baldwin or Kearse! But, no, DON’T THROW A SLANT! Throw literally anything else! Throw a fade to Chris Matthews – who, to that point, had been carving up the Patriots’ defense – or shit, just throw the ball 30 yards out of bounds! Anything but that!

Okay, that’s all. I have to go lay down now. Where’s my fainting couch?!

Give Me Back XLIX

I don’t generally spend a lot of time responding to other blog posts I find on the Internet, but this one from Field Gulls was too good to pass up. It’s a great idea: which of the Seahawks’ two Super Bowl defeats would you rather have back?

It’s so good, because there are terrific arguments for both cases. I don’t know how to choose! It’s like you’ve got three kids: one of them has a genius-level IQ, calls you on the reg, is always being complimented by friends and strangers alike, and generally is just a joy to be around (Super Bowl XLVIII); then there are the two shitbirds. One of them has a drinking problem, is constantly borrowing money from you and never paying it back, and has 6 kids with 5 different women (Super Bowl XL); the other has ruined literally every single holiday by fighting with the relatives, has a racist and homophobic long-term, off-and-on boyfriend with a mullet and a vast collection of confederate flags, and she makes her living bilking old people out of their social security with a variety of telephone and e-mail scams (Super Bowl XLIX).

Just thinking about either of those two games makes me sick to my stomach. WHERE DID WE GO WRONG?!

My gut instinct is to take Super Bowl XL and turn that into a Seahawks victory. That game almost broke me, and not just because I managed to consume upwards of 18 Miller High Life’s (Lives?) throughout the day before passing out ass up and pajama pants down on the floor near my bedroom in West Seattle.

Yes, I said near my bedroom.

Everything about that game was FUCKING ANNOYING. Re-living it in that blog post back in 2014 was a waking nightmare. How do I count the ways? Steelers fans and the Pittsburgh Steelers in general. Ben Roethlisberger is somehow a 2-time Super Bowl Champion. Jerome Bettis. Hines Ward. The God-damned refs. Just, fucking kill me.

That game doesn’t have a ton in common with Super Bowl XLIX, but the one overriding theme between the two Seahawks Super Bowl defeats are all the self-imposed mistakes we committed. While the latter had the one big one at the end, the former had many throughout.

But, ultimately, I don’t know how good that 2005 Seahawks team was. Our offense was fine, but the defense was suspect. I’d like to know how that game would’ve turned had our secondary been healthy (and not starting a bunch of guys right off the street), but regardless I think that was a pretty mediocre defense, all things considered. With the offense prone to blunder after blunder, it was all too much to overcome.

As I sit with the question a little longer and give it some genuine thought, the loss to New England in XLIX was far more galling.

We were obviously coming off of our only world championship in franchise history, and we accomplished the seemingly-impossible: getting back to the big game while avoiding any sort of Super Bowl Hangover. The 2014 Seahawks were stacked, bringing back pretty much everyone from the year before, all in the primes of their careers.

Of course, those Patriots were great too, but the Seahawks were the superior team in this one. This was supposed to be the start of our big dynasty. Now, obviously, we’ll never know how different the subsequent few seasons would’ve been had the Seahawks prevailed at the end of XLIX, but back-to-back titles is so rare that we’d be talking about that era of Seahawks football much more highly than we do now (which is more of an air of What Could’ve Been). Instead, those Seahawks harken back to the Bears of the mid-80s, as a team that should’ve won a lot more than they ultimately did.

Fortunately, as long as Russell Wilson is around, if we ever do manage to get back to the Super Bowl, that Seahawks team will be lumped in with the L.O.B. era, just as the Patriots teams of this past decade are lumped in with those of the previous decade, thanks to Tom Brady’s participation. But, that’s neither here nor there.

The Seahawks gagging away XLIX – combined with the Falcons gagging away their huge lead – really turned the tide of sentiment in the Patriots’ favor. If you JUST gave the Seahawks the victory in this alternate universe, there’s an argument to be made that the Seahawks (and NOT the Patriots) would’ve been the Team of the 2010’s, in spite of the fact that the Pats still made it to more Super Bowls. The reason is: we’d both have the same number of titles, but they never beat us head to head, which is the ultimate decider.

Seahawks fans will always remember this team’s appearances in the big game, and we’ll always have that victory to hang our hats on. We can go back and re-watch the game over and over again if we want! Many teams have never even APPEARED in a Super Bowl, let alone won it! You think the Vikings or Bills fans wouldn’t trade places with us this instant?

But, I’m looking big picture here. If the Seahawks won Super Bowl XL and XLVIII, that’s a nice story. It boosts Mike Holmgren’s stature as a Hall of Fame head coach, and it makes us 2-1 in those games. But, those appearances are too far apart to have any lasting impact. On the flipside, winning XLVIII and XLIX – on top of what those teams were able to do in that 5-6 year stretch, particularly on defense, from 2012-2016 or so – that’s getting to legendary status.

Instead, as I mentioned above, there’s a lot of regret. Ultimately, we’re talking about upwards of anywhere from 5-8 hall of famers on those teams (Sherman, Wagner, Wilson, Thomas, and Chancellor for sure); with that collection of talent, how did we NOT win more championships? It also has a troubling effect on Pete Carroll’s chances to make the Hall of Fame. Two Super Bowl titles seem to be the bar you have to get over to make it a foregone conclusion. At this point, how many more chances will he get?

So, yeah, give me XLIX. If for no other reason than we can all stop re-watching that fucking pass at the goalline every fucking year for the rest of our fucking lives.

Seahawks Death Week Starts Both Earlier & Later Than Expected

The Seahawks lost in the Wild Card round for the first time since the Holmgren administration, 24-22 to the Dallas Cowboys. Depending on your perspective, the season comes to a close either MUCH earlier or MUCH later than we’d all anticipated.

On the bright side, we all figured the Seahawks to be an 8-8 team heading into this season. If you dropped an 8-8 team into the 2019 NFL Draft, we would’ve been picking 18th. So, to win 10 games and the NFC’s top Wild Card slot is exceeding even our wildest expectations. And, as it is, with the way the rest of the Wild Card games shook out, we’re still drafting 21st (or, at least, have the 21st pick with which to trade back, to accumulate more draft picks in lower rounds), which is the best-case scenario, considering there were 20 teams who missed out on the playoffs.

On the dark side, once we saw what this Seahawks team morphed into as the season progressed, I think we all expected them to go into Dallas and come away victorious. As it stands, we would’ve earned a third game against a very beatable Rams team, with a very remote chance of hosting the NFC Championship Game still in play thanks to the Eagles upsetting the Bears yesterday.

Alas, what might’ve been …

All of the talk since the Seahawks biffed the onside kick – thus sealing our fate – has been directed towards the offense and the play-calling. Both sides are coming down hard. The anti-Schottenheimer crowd – forced into silence lo these last many weeks, as the team moved the ball and scored with the best of ’em – has come out in full force, with pitchforks and torches brandished, calling for heads to roll.

For starters, Schottenheimer isn’t going anywhere. He’s running the offense Pete Carroll is dictating, so if anything, you’re calling for Pete’s head, and he’s not going anywhere either. He just got a big, fat extension, so his status is secure.

Secondly, it was this same approach that led the Seahawks to 10 wins in 14 games. You can’t put the blame entirely on the coaching staff when there are players out there who failed in their charge. There were breakdowns across the board in the running game. It’s likely injuries hampered our O-Line to riddle them ineffective. Playing on the road obviously didn’t help. But, ultimately, the Cowboys’ front seven just out-played us, plain and simple.

All that having been said, there’s a SHIT-TON of defenders coming out of the woodwork, to counter the anti-Schotty throngs, and to you I just have to say this: the Seahawks’ offense absolutely should’ve fucking adjusted their play-calling.

It was 10-6 Dallas as the Seahawks punted deep and pinned them near their own goalline. The Seahawks’ defense forced a 3 & Out to give our offense the ball back with excellent field position. And it was 3 straight runs into the line for 5 yards before a miracle 4th down pass down the sideline to Baldwin for the conversion. From there, two more slugs into the line for 5 yards before Russell Wilson took over. He kept it on the zone read for a first down, then two plays later kept it again for a touchdown and a 14-10 lead.

That appeared to be the magic elixer: Russell Wilson running the ball. The Cowboys were clearly dedicated to stopping the run from our running backs, by loading the box and daring us to take advantage of one-on-ones with the receivers. But, they were also crashing down the line HARD, leaving wide open lanes for Russell to keep it and gash them for chunk plays. We should’ve kept going to that well once it gushed open, but instead we totally abandoned it the rest of the game.

I’ll also say this: with the way we play the game, penalties are a way of life. We’ve known this since Pete Carroll joined the team. So, there are going to be times where it’ll be 2nd & Long. We HAVE to find a way to convert at least SOME of these drives into first downs. Instead, we seemingly throw them away every single fucking time, with conservative rushes into stacked boxes, or conservative check-downs to guys standing at the line of scrimmage.

Tyler Lockett is a WEAPON, in case you haven’t noticed by his perfect rating with Wilson this year! Maybe, oh I dunno, THROW IT DEEP to him! Maybe he catches it, maybe he draws a flag for PI, maybe it lands incomplete and you have to punt anyway, or maybe it turns into a long INT which is as good as a punt anyway, BUT GOD DAMMIT TAKE A FUCKING SHOT!

But look, for the most part, I’m happy with how the offense looked. People are now saying it doesn’t make any sense to extend Russell Wilson the money he’s worth if we’re not going to use him like other teams use their elite quarterbacks, but I would argue the opposite. We NEED an elite guy to run this offense, because it’s his efficiency that makes this thing work. Without the threat of his deep ball, and his accuracy, and his overall clutchness, the running game wouldn’t be as effective as it is in the first place.

This Seahawks team was pretty flawed, and it was going to take a lot of Russell Wilson Wizardry to make a deep playoff run. Most of those flaws show up on the defensive side of the ball, however.

Shaquill Griffin had probably the worst game I’ve ever seen out of him. Yeah, his ankle was bothering him from last week, to which I say: THEN SIT OUT! You’re hurting the team! You at 70% or whatever isn’t as good as your healthy backup, so let that guy start! But also, on the whole, Griffin clearly didn’t progress as you’d hope this team’s ostensible #1 cornerback would’ve. Tre Flowers was the rookie, but he made HUGE strides over this season; he was the guy with the target on his back, yet it was Griffin who the Cowboys chose to pick on ALL DAMN GAME. What does that say about who this team’s #1 cornerback REALLY is?

As I mentioned last week, proper tackling was one of the keys, and this game completely shit the bed in that arena. Dak converting a 3rd & 14 when we could’ve held them to a field goal – and a one-score game late – was just a back-breaker. The Cowboys ran for 164 yards on the day, which is inexcusable for a Pete Carroll-led defense.

So, yeah, there are a lot of areas to clean up for 2019.

I’m not gonna lie, this one hit pretty hard. If the Seahawks went into L.A. and got shellacked by the Rams next week, it would’ve been disappointing, but also kind of expected. Losing to Dallas, though, I mean they’re good, but they’re not better than us. Had we performed better, we would’ve taken this one. As per usual when the Seahawks lose, it’s the self-inflicted wounds that take us down.

Going forward, I’ll have my usual week-long in memoriam for the Seahawks’ season. There were more highs than lows this year, though I’d argue the outlook for the future isn’t necessarily as rosy as we’d once thought.

Paul Allen Passed Away

What makes a good owner?  Well, winning doesn’t hurt.  Paul Allen took over the Seahawks in 1997 and since then the team has only had 6 losing seasons.

Being decisive certainly helps.  In his two seasons with Dennis Erickson at the helm, the Seahawks finished 8-8 both years; not satisfied with mediocrity, he handed the keys to Mike Holmgren.

Patience is always a virtue.  Holmgren was allowed time to do his thing, build the team his way.  After an improbable wild card run in his first year, Holmgren was back in the playoffs – with HIS team – four years later.  That started off a run of five straight playoff appearances (including four consecutive division championships, and one Super Bowl appearance).

Making the right decisions, of course, is probably the most important.  Things got away from the team towards the end of Holmgren’s run.  Tim Ruskell infected this organization with his idiocy, which led to Holmgren’s ouster and the rise of Jim Mora Jr.  Holmgren’s final year was a 4-12 disaster and Mora’s lone year was a somehow-worse 5-11.  Not content with the direction of the team, Paul Allen cleaned house, brought in Pete Carroll and John Schneider, and before we knew it, this team was a world champion.

I think Paul Allen’s best attribute as an owner is all of those things … followed by staying out of the way and letting the football people HE hired make the football decisions.  Not meddling.  Not – like a certain Dallas Cowboys owner – making himself the fucking general manager and having his fingers in all the pies (seriously, thinking that HE’S smarter than Jimmy Johnson in his prime).  Paul Allen didn’t just hire splashy names – though at the time, Holmgren and Carroll were certainly that – but he hired people with visions.  With clear philosophies.  With plans for winning football and strategies to make that happen.  And if things went south, he didn’t overreact.  He let his people do their jobs.  And, most importantly, he always knew the perfect time to make a change.

It’s a stark contrast to the other owners we’ve had in Seattle through the years.  Obviously, the Seahawks before Paul Allen were owned by a monster, Ken Behring.  Before him, though, the Seahawks were run by the Nordstrom family, and their stability (and smart thinking in hiring Chuck Knox) led to a lot of success in the 80’s.

Or, consider the Seattle Mariners, whose decades upon decades of incompetence led to a brief 9-year window of semi-winning baseball.  Aside from that one brief period of bliss, that organization has been run by complete morons.  An owner who was never around.  An executive group prone to rash decisions, bad decisions, poor hires.  Letting general managers stick around too long, compound mistakes on top of more mistakes, while seemingly firing their field managers every other year!  You don’t get to be the team with the longest playoff drought in major North American sports unless you’re one of the very worst-run organizations of them all.  It’s been non-stop misery my whole life, and the saga continues.

And, don’t even get me started on the Supersonics.  As soon as the Ackerley family decided to sell, that was the end of professional basketball in Seattle.

See, the thing is, Seattle is Sports Hell for a reason, and more often than not that reason starts at the very top.  We had one good thing going for us, and that was Paul Allen’s involvement with the Seahawks.  He’d obviously been having a lot of health problems in recent years, and so we knew this day would come, but I still hoped we had more time.  He was only 65!  We should’ve had at LEAST another 20 years!  It’s obviously incomprehensibly sad for his family and friends, but it’s also a sad and uncertain time for Seahawks fans.  We don’t know what the plan is going forward, but it sure looks like the team is going to be sold.  At that point, we’re at the whim of some stranger.

One thing’s for certain, the new owner won’t be able to hold a candle to Paul Allen.  We had the best, now get ready for the rest.