Seahawks Death Week 2022: Looking On The Bright Side

I tend to come on here and do a lot of bitching. It’s my outlet. That way, I don’t have to bombard loved ones with my rantings on draft order, mediocre quarterbacks, atrocious defenses, and the like.

But, today, I’m not going to do that. Today I’m taking off my pissy-pants and looking on the brighter side of Seahawks life.

As an astute commenter recently noted, it’s important to remember where our expectations were heading into the season. Mine were at an all-time low (or close to it) for the Seahawks. I estimated anywhere from 3-4 wins, with the Broncos being division winners. So, still getting that top 5 pick (from those Broncos), while having a better-than-anticipated Seahawks roster full of promising prospects getting lots of valuable experience, is a pretty big win! You could argue this is the best-possible (reasonable) season we could’ve gotten. Obviously, the ACTUAL best-possible season would’ve been Denver having the worst record in the NFL, with the Seahawks winning the Super Bowl. But, we’re bound by the laws of reality, which is still pretty damn good.

I couldn’t be happier with our 2022 draft class.

Kenneth Walker finished 12th in the league in rushing yards, with 1,050. And that’s with two full missed games, and not really taking over lead rushing duties until week five. He averaged 70 yards per game, which was 9th in the NFL, as well as 4.6 yards per carry, which was 9th as well (minimum 200 attempts). Maybe more importantly, he was the best rookie running back in this class, given his ability and durability. We’ll see how long he’s able to hold that title, but regardless that’s a VERY strong start to a career.

I thought Charles Cross and Abe Lucas acquitted themselves quite well as bookend offensive tackles. It’s not easy to find ONE of those positions in the draft, let alone two in the SAME draft. You never want to unfurl the Mission Accomplished banner after one quality season, but I think it’s reasonable to suspect we’re set at those spots for the next few years at least. Were they perfect? Of course not. But, the mistakes appeared to be minimal (for rookies), and the upside looks like it’s substantial.

On the defensive side of the ball, one of the few bright spots was cornerback Tariq Woolen, who finished with 6 interceptions in his first year. He also made the Pro Bowl, which is awesome! When you consider he was expected to be a rough project at corner, the fact that he started every game and played at such a high level is, frankly, phenomenal. It’s too early to start bandying around LOB comparisons, but if anyone deserves to be lumped into that group, it looks like it might be Woolen.

Guys like slot corner Coby Bryant and edge rusher/linebacker Boye Mafe have flashed at times, but have also looked a little rough. I’ll be cautiously optimistic with them, but that’s more than you could say for a lot of Seahawks draft picks over the last few years.

Other bright spots include our top two receivers. D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett both surpassed 1,000 yards receiving, which seemed impossible before the season (1,048 for D.K., 1,033 for Tyler). They combined for 15 of our 30 receiving touchdowns; you can’t really ask for much more than that. We only had one other instance of two receivers catching over 1,000 yards in the same season under Russell Wilson’s leadership, and that was 2020 (with the same guys).

Speaking of the passing game, even though I have my reservations going forward, you can’t deny the numbers Geno Smith put up. He set the Seahawks’ single season passing yards record with 4,282. Granted, he needed 17 games to do it (when all others had, at most, 16 games to play in), but a record is a record. He ranked 4th in yards per game, 7th in passer rating, 1st in completion percentage, 7th in touchdowns, and 1st in both attempts and completions among all Seahawks single-season passers. That’s quite a feat after coming off of Russell Wilson, who wanted nothing more than to be the franchise leader in attempts (he’s actually only 3rd on the list with his 2020 season, behind Matt Hasselbeck’s 2007). By most tangible measures, you could argue Geno Smith had the best season of any Seahawks quarterback ever. Which is why there will be a strong push to bring him back on a multi-year extension.

I would also say we got strong seasons from all three of our tight ends, Noah Fant, Will Dissly, and Colby Parkinson. Nothing too flashy, but they were fine outlets when our other receivers were covered.

Defensively, Uchenna Nwosu was our brightest shining star. He finished with 9.5 sacks, 3 forced fumbles, 12 tackles for loss, and was our best and most consistent source of pressure. He’s one of the rare outside defensive free agents who’s come here and succeeded right away in the last decade.

Darrell Taylor picked up his game significantly late in the year, also finishing with 9.5 sacks. Quinton Jefferson and Bruce Irvin had nice reunions with the team, finishing with a combined 9 sacks. Quandre Diggs also came on a bit late in the season, finishing with 4 interceptions. And Ryan Neal was a sneaky defensive MVP, playing at a high level as our third safety thrust into a starting role early in the season. Also, kudos go to Shelby Harris for his veteran presence along the much-maligned defensive line. And, why not, Mike Jackson had some okay moments in his first year as a starting cornerback (4th year in the league).

There’s a universe where these guys I’ve just referenced are the foundation of the next great Seahawks team. No one is satisfied with a 9-8 record and semi-backing into the playoffs as a 7-seed. But I don’t think there’s any question that a 9-8 team is a lot closer to being at a championship level than a 4 or 5-win team with fundamental problems at multiple important areas. Especially when that 9-8 team has a couple of high selections in the first two rounds of the 2023 draft.

The key will be that draft, though. You can’t just do what we did in 2022 and expect a significant turnaround. It takes multiple consecutive years of nailing drafts and free agent classes to get things right.

But, I will say this: while I have my doubts about the defensive coordinator, I think this coaching staff and front office deserve a ton of credit for keeping this team together and blowing out everyone’s expectations. The organization got it right with Russell Wilson, even if we were a year or two too late in getting rid of him.

You can obviously understand why that trade happened the way it did, when it did. It’s not easy moving on from a franchise quarterback who’s been the best we’ve ever had, while leading us to back-to-back Super Bowls. I think we did the best we could under the circumstances, with Wilson having a no-trade clause and Denver being our only real option.

I would argue given our level of talent and lack of depth (particularly on the defensive side of the ball), it’s a miracle we won as many games as we did! It was also a miracle we stayed as healthy as we did, at our most important positions. I think I read on Twitter that Geno Smith was the only quarterback to take all of his team’s snaps (not counting crazy wildcat plays and whatnot). When you factor in an O-line breaking in two rookies at tackle, and having their issues along the interior, as well as the fact that Geno was tied for the third-most sacks taken, I don’t know how that’s even possible!

So, if you want, feel free to be optimistic about the future. I don’t blame you! I’m naturally skeptical about my Seattle teams, so I’ll be over here pouting in my little corner of the Internet. But, I’ll tell you this much: I’m extremely excited for all the moves the Seahawks end up making this upcoming offseason. I know I won’t agree with all of them, but there should be enough positives to rope me into a Glass Half Full assessment heading into this September. I can’t wait to be wildly disappointed at the conclusion of next season!

The Seahawks Somehow Still Have Playoff Hopes

Heading into this week, I didn’t have a ton of confidence in the Seahawks doing much of anything against the Jets. But, then I got a lovely present from my fiance in the form of tickets to this game, and I knew straight away that the Seahawks would prevail. Which they did, in pretty dominating fashion!

The offense wasn’t exactly blazing hot, but we scored on three of five first half possessions, en route to scoring 23 points, which feels appropriate against that defense. We could’ve had three more, but Jason Myers missed just his second field goal of the season (he’s otherwise 30/32 through 16 games, including 6/6 of 50+).

It was the Seahawks’ defense that really stole the show. The Jets had renewed life – and playoff hopes of their own heading into this week – with the return of Mike White, but he looked positively Zach Wilsonian with his 240 yards on 50% passing, 0 touchdowns, 2 interceptions, 4 sacks for 36 yards, a 47.4 passer rating, and a measly 12.2 QBR.

I don’t totally understand what the Jets were trying to do on offense. What has been the Seahawks’ weak point all year? Stopping the run. They managed 75 yards on 17 carries, with Ty Johnson leading the way with 46 yards on 8 carries. But, that’s just it, they kept going away from the run for some crazy reason, putting the ball in Mike White’s hands, as if he was the answer. Dude’s a game manager at best; he should never have 46 attempts in an NFL game.

On the flipside, Geno Smith was fine. He was everything you’d want out of a game manager in this one, and could’ve had even better numbers if not for a couple of tough drops. Still, he finished with 183 yards on 18/29 passing, with 2 TDs and 0 INTs. Kenneth Walker did bellcow things with 133 yards on 23 carries. And, it was predictably a big day for the tight ends, as they combined for 83 yards on 8 receptions, with both of our TDs. Shoutout to Tyler Mabry with his first NFL catch going for a 7-yard touchdown.

Huge game for Darrell Taylor (2.5 sacks), Quinton Jefferson (1.5 sacks), Quandre Diggs and Mike White (1 INT each), and Tariq Woolen (led the team in tackles with 7 and very nearly had an INT of his own).

The defense as a whole held the Jets to 4/13 on third down (0/2 on fourth down). At no point were they ever able to get going, as we held them to just two field goals in the first half, and nothing after that. It was pure defensive domination, probably the best game from that side of the ball all year. Not saying a whole lot that it was the Jets, but we’ve been beaten by worse!

Now, we’re 8-8 and play the Rams next week for a chance at the playoffs. It goes like this: if we lose, we’re out, and the winner of Detroit @ Green Bay advances (they play the Sunday Night game next week). If we win, we need Detroit to beat Green Bay for us to make the playoffs (we hold a head-to-head tiebreaker over the Lions). If we win and Green Bay wins, the Packers advance to the playoffs (thanks to their superior conference record).

It’s idiotic to root for the Seahawks to make the playoffs. The smart play is to root for the Rams next week, knocking the Seahawks out and giving us as close to a top 10 pick as possible (whatever we would need to reach that goal). Root for the Saints, root for Tennessee, root for Cleveland, root for Washington, and root for Detroit. I don’t know how far up the draft board that would move us, but it couldn’t hurt.

My guess is – despite our best efforts – we’ll defeat the Rams and the Packers will beat the Lions. Seems like the most logical outcome.

Also, root like crazy for the Bears and Chargers! God dammit I want that Denver draft pick to be 2nd overall!

All Time Mariners Greats, Part II – The Pitchers

I kinda lollygagged on finishing this post, but here’s Part I for reference.

Just as the Starting 9 was pretty easy, so is the Starting 5 in the pitching realm.  Here they are, in order:

  1. Randy Johnson
  2. Felix Hernandez
  3. Jamie Moyer
  4. Freddy Garcia
  5. Mark Langston

My initial draft had Cliff Lee in there as the 5th starter, but REALLY that’s kinda cheating.  Nevertheless, if the rules are:  must have been a Mariner at one time, then why WOULDN’T I go with Cliff Lee’s two months?  They were a GREAT two months!  But, I’m going to be reasonable on this one.

I like this rotation mostly because it shakes out with a lefty-righty-lefty rotation, which I guess most managers find important.  I also like it because, look at it!  Randy in his prime, Felix in his prime, Jamie in his prime, Freddy in his prime, Langston in his prime.  Granted, those last two names aren’t all THAT impressive – if you compare them to some other organization’s All Time Greats – but in a 5-game series, I’ll take what I’ve got here all day long.

In lieu of going on and on about how much I like these guys, I’ll just start listing numbers until you’re bored out of your mind.

Randy Johnson – 10 years, 274 games, 266 games started, 130-74 record, 3.42 ERA, 51 complete games, 19 shutouts, 2 saves, 2,162 strikeouts, 10.6 K/9IP, 5 All Star Games, 1 Cy Young Award.

Felix Hernandez – 7 years (and counting), 205 games started, 85-67 record, 3.24 ERA, 18 complete games, 4 shutouts, 1,264 strikeouts, 8.2 K/9IP, 2 All Star Games, 1 Cy Young Award.

Jamie Moyer – 11 years, 324 games, 323 games started, 145-87 record, 3.97 ERA, 20 complete games, 6 shutouts, 1,239 strikeouts, 5.3 K/9IP, 1 All Star Game.

Freddy Garcia – 6 years, 170 games, 169 games started, 76-50 record, 3.89 ERA, 9 complete games, 4 shutouts, 819 strikeouts, 6.7 K/9IP, 2 All Star Games, came in 2nd in Rookie of the Year balloting in 1999.

Mark Langston – 6 years, 176 games, 173 games started, 74-67 record, 4.01 ERA, 41 complete games, 9 shutouts, 1,078 strikeouts, 8.1 K/9IP, 1 All Star Game, came in 2nd in Rookie of the Year balloting in 1984, won 2 Gold Gloves.

And, fuck it, for good measure, my 6th starter:

Cliff Lee – 2 months (with an extra month on the DL), 13 games started, 8-3 record, 2.34 ERA, 5 complete games, 1 shutout, 89 strikeouts, 7.7 K/9IP, 1 All Star Game (traded to Rangers before the game).

Now, where things have really screwed me here are the relievers.  I’ll start with the list and I’ll tell you why I did it as such.

Closer – J.J. Putz
8th Inning Set-Up (Righty) – Jeff Nelson
7th/8th Inning Set-Up (Lefty) – Arthur Rhodes
7th Inning Set-Up (Righty) – Mike Jackson
Other – Brandon League

So, the main reason why I didn’t pick the All-Time Mariners leader in saves for my closer (Kaz Sasaki) is because I could never STAND that guy (Kaz Sasaki).  That guy was a junk artist with one good pitch!  But, when that pitch is offset by a 90 mile per hour fastball with no movement, essentially you’re looking at a Blown Save waiting to happen.  He had three good years (out of four total), all three of those good years ended without a World Series title (or, shit, even an APPEARANCE), and that fourth year was some of the worst pitching I’ve ever seen.  So, no, to hell with Sasaki!  J.J. Putz is my guy!

Putz wasn’t quite the guy who replaced our greatest closer ever closer with the most saves, but he replaced the guy who replaced the guy.  Easy Eddie Guardado was the meat in that sandwich, and what all three of those pitchers had in common is all three had great forkballs.  Easy Eddie taught his to J.J. Putz, and J.J. Putz turned around and ran with it.

Putz had the single greatest year a closer has ever had when he absolutely OBLITERATED the American League in 2007:  68 games, 40 saves, 82 strikeouts vs. 13 walks, 37 hits in 71.2 innings pitched, 1.38 ERA, 0.698 WHIP, 10.3 K/9IP, and only 2 blown saves.

And, let’s face it, Putz’s career with the Mariners wasn’t too shabby overall.  He’s 2nd in saves with 101 and his career M’s ERA was just a few hairs over 3.  He blew 24 saves in 125 opportunities for an 81% save percentage.  Granted, Sasaki’s save percentage was 85%, but two things:  first, that percentage went down every year (as he continued to lose MPH on his fastball); and second – this is more of a perception than actual fact – it just SEEMED like Sasaki blew more big games.  Granted, he was involved in more big games, but regardless:  he didn’t get the job done in my book.

Jeff Nelson is the obvious 8th Inning guy for us.  He was absolutely BRILLIANT as a Mariner … and then we foolishly traded him away in a cost-cutting measure to the Yankees because – surprise surprise – the Mariners’ ownership is a piece of shit and always has been.

Arthur Rhodes is the obvious lefty specialist for us, even though all of my memories of him involve giving up home runs to those fucking Yankees in back-to-back ALCS seasons (2000 & 2001).  Still, he was a horse, and I argue that if we didn’t over-work him so bad those years, he wouldn’t have broken down at the end (72 games in 2000, 71 games in 2001).

I don’t know if Mike Jackson was as obvious, but I always liked him.  The Mariners had him in the late 80s/early 90s and let him go, then they got him back in 1996 and he was the ONLY good reliever on a team that was a healthy Randy Johnson away from going back to the playoffs (that 1996 team is my personal favorite, by the way, even though they underachieved something fierce; 1995 was when I found the Mariners, 1996 was when I became obsessed).

As for my final reliever, this is the one that really dogged me.  I didn’t want to pick a lefty just to have another lefty, I didn’t want to pick a closer just to pick a closer, and I didn’t want to pick a reliever who just managed to stick around with the Mariners for a bunch of years.  I eliminated Mike Schooler because he really only had a couple good years.  Same thing with Shigetoshi Hasegawa.  Norm Charlton and Bobby Ayala can eat my fucking asshole.  And while Mike Timlin had a season and a half of some pretty good baseball, he’s still and will forever be associated with one of the more unpopular trades in Mariners history.

Then, I thought about Brandon League.  Why NOT Brandon League?  He already stands at Number 9 on the Mariners’ all time saves list (to show you how pathetic that stat has been for the Mariners over the years) and he could quite possibly climb into the Top 5 before he’s traded for prospects at the Trade Deadline later this summer.  He’s got wicked-good stuff (a plus fastball with movement, and a plus out-pitch in his split finger), and if we’re only asking him to get a few 7th inning outs every few days, what’s the harm?

So, League is my final reliever (not counting Cliff Lee, who’s my long man), and anyone who disagrees can bite me.

In conclusion, here’s my 25-man roster in all its Mariners glory:

  1. Ken Griffey Jr.
  2. Edgar Martinez
  3. Randy Johnson
  4. Ichiro
  5. Felix Hernandez
  6. Jamie Moyer
  7. Alex Rodriguez
  8. Alvin Davis
  9. Jay Buhner
  10. Dan Wilson
  11. J.J. Putz
  12. Freddy Garcia
  13. Adrian Beltre
  14. Bret Boone
  15. Jeff Nelson
  16. Arthur Rhodes
  17. Mark Langston
  18. Mike Jackson
  19. Mike Cameron
  20. Raul Ibanez
  21. Cliff Lee
  22. Mark McLemore
  23. Omar Vizquel
  24. Brandon League
  25. Kenji Johjima

Led by Manager Lou Pinella, obviously.