Which Mariners Player Would You Want From Prior Eras To Be On Today’s Team?

Jay Buhner was on the Brock & Salk show yesterday, and they asked him, “Who on this year’s team would you want for those Mariners teams you were on?” It’s a fun question to debate, but it’s just pure fan service. I mean, it’s not like it could ever happen, so in a sense it’s completely masturbatory.

Far be it for me to turn down such an opportunity!

Jay Buhner said he’d want to play with either J.P. Crawford or Cal Raleigh. That’s hard to argue with. I mean, I absolutely will, because how could you not take a pitcher? Those mid-90’s teams had the very best version of Alex Rodriguez at short stop, which means you’re bumping J.P. to second or third. Which is fine.

I will say that if I were to take one hitter from today’s Mariners and put them on the 90’s squads, no one would be cooler than Cal Raleigh. I like Dan The Man Wilson as much as anyone, but the dude was a black fucking hole in the playoffs. But, you put Cal on that lineup with A-Rod, Edgar, Buhner, Griffey, Blowers, Tino Martinez/Paul Sorrento? With Cal’s penchant for the dramatic late in games and late in seasons? That’s just beyond an insane lineup.

But, it’s silly. Either you take Andres Munoz and swap out Bobby Ayala’s worthless ass, or you take Luis Castillo and pair him with Randy Johnson, to further crush it with the rotation. Don’t sleep on adding another elite starter to the 1995 team. If we have Castillo in there, maybe we don’t have to go 5 games in the ALDS against the Yankees. Maybe we are better able to line up our rotation against the Indians in the ALCS. Can you imagine Castillo in there instead of Tim Belcher or Andy Benes?

That being said, the Mariners were shut out twice in the 1995 ALCS; indeed, in all four losses we scored 2 runs or fewer. So, maybe Cal would’ve been just the ticket.

As for those early 2000’s teams, I don’t think there’s any question: you put Luis Castillo in that rotation with Freddy Garcia, Jamie Moyer, and Paul Abbott, and you throw Aaron Sele off a fucking cliff. Talk about a guy who was built for the regular season! That guy was a fucking trainwreck in the playoffs! Just fucking murdered us against the Yankees in back to back years; 16 innings across 3 starts, giving up 12 runs. And that’s JUST against the Yankees! For as worthless as Arthur Rhodes was in those series, I’ll take another ace, thank you very much.

But, let’s get back to the title of this post: who would I want from back then to be on today’s team?

Well, as much as I love a great pitching staff, and as tempting as it would be to add Randy Johnson to this group, that’s probably unnecessary, especially when you factor in how challenged this team is offensively.

It’s a clear 3-man race between A-Rod, Griffey, and Edgar. I would say Ichiro and Buhner are definitely honorable mentions, but the 2024 Mariners need more pop than Ichiro is capable or willing to provide, and more of a batting average than Buhner could possibly bring to the table.

The knock against Griffey and A-Rod is that they play two of the positions we’re strongest at. That being said, just move J.P. to second or Julio to right and call it a day. Of course, the knock against Edgar is that he plays no position, but I mean come on. Garver fucks off and it’s a complete 180 at DH.

Part of me feels like I’m over-thinking this. Ken Griffey Jr. is one of the best baseball players of all time. OF COURSE you take The Kid! I guess I’m a little wary because of his post-season numbers. They’re not great! Then again, none of the three are really all that spectacular. Edgar gets all the credit in the world for what he did against the Yankees in 1995, but his career numbers in three ALCS’s are pretty putrid (.156/.239/.234).

You know what? Fuck it. I want A-Rod here. Jorge Polanco is SO FUCKING BAD. Shit-can him, move J.P. to second. I feel like the upgrade of prime, Mariners-era A-Rod over Polanco is better than the upgrade we’d get with Griffey over take your pick in the outfield. Raley is obviously your third guy, probably platooning with Dylan Moore. So, Griffey over Haniger? Don’t get me wrong, that’s a pretty big leap too.

You know, it really says a lot about how shitty the 2024 Mariners lineup is that there are so many colossal black holes you’d love to swap out for Hall of Famers.

Just give me Ichiro, Griffey, Julio, Seager, A-Rod, J.P., Olerud, Raleigh, Edgar, with a bench full of Buhner, McLemore, Wilson, and Nelson Cruz, and throw them together with today’s pitching staff plus King Felix, Randy Johnson, Jeff Nelson, and Mike Jackson, and let’s go win a World Series!

Seahawks Death Week: Were The 2023 Seahawks Better Than They Were In 2022?

Both teams finished the regular season 9-8. The 2022 Seahawks actually made the playoffs, while the 2023 Seahawks did not. The 2023 Seahawks clearly had higher expectations coming into the year, whereas the 2022 Seahawks were expected to be among the worst five teams in the NFL. But, just because the current iteration underperformed, while the previous one overachieved, doesn’t necessarily mean the 2022 Seahawks were the better team. And, since we don’t live in a magical world where we can have these two squads duke it out on the football field, we have to look at the numbers and see where they compare.

I will readily admit that I’m coming into this exercise HOPING that the 2023 team is actually better, and thanks to a game or two not going our way at the end, we ultimately failed to achieve our goals. Because, if that’s the case, then maybe an argument can be made that this is actually a team on the rise, and this year can be seen as an aberration. However, if the 2023 Seahawks are objectively worse, then this is a team going in the wrong direction. Then, we have to start questioning how good these last two draft classes actually were. Then, we’re left to wonder how long it’s actually going to be before things turn around.

I’ll start with the defense. Heading into the season, what was the biggest problem area, the biggest area of need, the part of the team we all knew needed improvement? The defense. In 2022, we gave up 361.7 yards per game (26th in football); in 2023, we gave up 371.4 yards per game (30th in football).

You know what sucks? Every team that was worse than us in 2022 improved. Detroit went from 32 to 19, Minnesota went from 31 to 16, Houston went from 30 to 14, Chicago went from 29 to 12, Las Vegas went from 28 to 13, Atlanta went from 27 to 11! This isn’t, like, small baby steps of improvement. These are LEAPS AND BOUNDS! And it’s not like we’re talking about teams that all made the playoffs; they were all varying levels of mediocre-to-bad in 2023. Yet they all also saw significant improvements on defense, in one season’s time.

If we keep going back, in 2021, the Seahawks were 28th in yards per game, in 2020 we were 22nd (but still gave up over 380 per game), in 2019 we were 26th. In 2018, we were 16th; that’s the last time we were even kind of okay. Before that, we were obviously very good. But, starting with 2019, that’s five years of being one of the worst defenses in all of football. Of being a defense that absolutely CANNOT compete for a championship. With a head coach that prides himself on being defensively-minded. We’ve been stuck in the shit for half a decade now; meanwhile, all these shitty defenses from 2022 are kicking ass in 2023.

Where did we struggle the most in 2022? Rush defense (150.2 yards per game, 30th in football). How did we fare in 2023? When we got rid of a lot of dead weight and put the majority of our resources into shoring up this part of the game? 138.4 yards per game, 31st in football. So, we improved our number of yards allowed per game, but still ended up worse compared to the rest of the NFL.

The two teams worse than us in 2022? Houston (32) and Chicago (31), who finished 2023 6th (!) and 1st (!!!) in rush yards per game allowed. IN ONE YEAR, they went from the worst to the best!

I mean, this isn’t fucking rocket science! We’re talking about Houston, who had a total coaching regime change, and Chicago, whose head coach in 2022 was just finishing his first year and was already on the hot seat. The Seahawks, meanwhile, are among the most stable franchises in the sport, yet again, we’ve struggled on defense for half a fucking decade. Un-fucking-believable.

To round it out, the 2022 Seahawks gave up 211.5 passing yards (13th); the 2023 Seahawks gave up 233.0 (21st). The 2022 Seahawks gave up 23.6 points per game (25th); the 2023 Seahawks gave up 23.6 points per game 25th). We literally gave up one more point than a year ago. The pass defense – particularly the secondary – was supposed to be our biggest strength (even discounting Jamal Adams as “likely to be injured” heading into the season); yet it was kind of mediocre, in spite of the fact that we got more Jamal Adams than I ever thought possible.

Just a little more housekeeping, for context. The 2022 Seahawks were +2 in turnover differential; the 2023 Seahawks were also +2 in turnover differential. We actually turned it over less in 2023, but also generated fewer turnovers, which is how we get to that number. That’s interesting to me, because if you would’ve told me prior to 2023 that the Seahawks’ offense would have 6 fewer turnovers – knowing what I knew about the perceived improvement of talent on defense – I would say that’s HUGE, and might’ve translated to 2-3 more victories. Instead, that perceived talent improvement never really materialized.

For a little more context, the 2022 Seahawks had 45 sacks (tied for 7th); the 2023 Seahawks had 47 sacks (tied for 11th). Another interesting stat is the 2022 Seahawks gave up 62.7% completions (10th), whereas the 2023 Seahawks gave up 66.7% completions (26th). So, in spite of being slightly better at generating sacks, it looks like we were actually softer all around, and probably not generating as much pressure on the whole. Or, you know, maybe we just faced significantly better quarterback play in 2023 than in 2022; you can’t rule that out either. Maybe both are true!

What do my eyes tell me about this defense? It’s tricky, because I believe we were actually significantly more talented in personnel in 2023 than we were in 2022. I think Jarran Reed had a fabulous season. I think Leonard Williams is the best all-around defensive lineman we’ve had since Michael Bennett (very different players/body types, but similarly dominant in everything that they do). I think Dre’Mont Jones is as talented as advertised, but likely wasn’t utilized properly. I think Boye Mafe took a HUGE step forward. I think Devon Witherspoon is deserving of every single accolade that comes his way. I think Jordyn Brooks is an animal, and it’s tremendous how well (and how quickly) he came back from such a significant injury. I thought Tre Brown, Mike Jackson, and Julian Love all shined at times. I thought Riq Woolen was injured for most of this year and that likely explains his step-back (I still think he’s great in coverage, but when he’s hurt, he’s going to be a liability in the run game).

That being said, I think we were another wide-body short on the interior, to significantly plug the run. I think Bobby Wagner likely helped in that regard, but probably not as much as everyone thinks. Wagner obviously had his struggles in pass defense (to the point where he probably should’ve been taken off the field on every 3rd & medium-to-long), but we also had no one behind him to fill in (linebacker depth was non-existent yet again); I also don’t think Wagner was the fix-all in the run game everyone’s making him out to be. How many times did he too get swallowed up, or jump the wrong gap? He’s old! He was old two years ago!

I also thought Quandre Diggs looked a little old. I thought Jamal Adams – aside from a few plays near the LOS here and there – looked legitimately bad. Maybe he was hurt all year, but still, he looks toast. And, I think the outside linebacker play was atrocious outside of Boye Mafe and Uchenna Nwosu (who got knocked out 6 games in), and I’m not even sure Mafe is any good at setting an edge. What I know for sure is that Darrell Taylor and Derick Hall are 100% NOT good in that regard, and it’s a huge hole for us.

A lot of these were problems in 2022, though. We couldn’t set an edge then either. Our linebacker room was unquestionably worse with Cody Barton getting significant reps. Adams was still hurt, Diggs was still getting up there, and we were obviously missing out on beef in the interior line.

So, how do you explain this across-the-board drop-off in defensive production?

The coaching staff. Clint Hurtt and Co.

He’s not a defensive coordinator. We learned that in his first season in 2022, and it’s been nothing but cemented into my brain in 2023, when he was gifted better talent, and his unit produced worse results. He needs to go.

***

Now, let’s go to the offense. Spoiler alert: it also looks like it’s worse in 2023 than it was in 2022.

2022 total yards = 351.5 (13th); 2023 total yards = 322.9 (21st). 2022 passing yards = 231.4 (12th); 2023 passing yards = 230.0 (14th). 2022 rushing yards = 120.1 (18th); 2023 rushing yards = 92.9 (28th).

So, passing yards remained stagnant, in spite of total stability at the QB spot, and arguably an improved wide receiver room with first rounder Jaxon Smith-Njigba replacing Marquise Goodwin. And we’re talking about a DRASTICALLY worse rushing attack, in spite of the fact that Kenneth Walker played in the same number of games (all as the lead back), while we added the robust talent of Charbonnet (taking the smattering of 2022 carries given to DeeJay Dallas, Travis Homer, and Rashaad Penny the few times he was healthy).

Okay, so point to the offensive line. Obviously, there were lots of injuries across the board causing this unit to suffer. Except, we took 46 sacks in 2022, vs. a combined 37 in 2023. Team passing, okay, you can attribute some of that to Drew Lock playing in 4 games (starting 2). But, Geno’s per-game numbers year over year obviously declined (fewer yards per game, lower completion percentage, fewer yards per attempt, lower passer rating).

Also, if your O-Line is so banged up, wouldn’t you WANT to run the ball more? In 2022, we attempted 425 carries; in 2023, it was 382. In 2022, we attempted 573 passes; in 2023, we attempted 575. Geno attempted a little over 33 and a half passes per game; but Drew Lock attempted 32 per game in his two starts, so it’s not like we really took it easy on him. Yet, neither quarterback benefitted from extended competence out of the rushing attack. As a team, we averaged 4.8 yards per carry (4.9 yards per carry if you take out two massive losses by our punter) in 2022; we could only muster 4.1 yards per carry in 2023.

So, what’s THAT all about? We thought we really had something with our new O-Line coach in 2022. But, while improving on our sack numbers (in basically the same number of drop-backs), we took a massive nosedive in our running numbers. I guess we have to HOPE that it’s just injuries and things are bound to positively regress in 2024. But, there’s also a number of personnel decisions we have to make – along the interior, particularly – that has been one of our greatest weaknesses since time immemorial.

All told, our 2022 Seahawks scored 23.9 points per game (9th); our 2023 Seahawks scored 21.4 points per game (17th). An already-bad defense somehow managed to get worse, and a decently-good offense became painfully mediocre. In spite of the fact that the offense had a ton of carry-over, improved in both the running back and wide receiver rooms, and had a quarterback who couldn’t have been more motivated to better his career-best numbers from the previous season.

Does that also come down to coaching? Because, to me, that comes down to coaching.

***

Here’s my ultimate ruling on the question at the top:

I think, personnel-wise, the 2023 Seahawks were better than the 2022 Seahawks. However, I think the play on the field was worse. The numbers bear that out, even if their records were the same. We were -38 in point differential in 2023, meaning we probably overachieved. The NFL record 7 go-ahead TD passes by Geno Smith in the 4th quarter or OT sort of proves that point. We had a +6 point differential in 2022, which seems appropriate for a 9-8 team. So, while things were disappointing for Geno Smith, and some of the other veterans in 2023, I don’t think they were so much worse that it cost us. Ultimately, I put it on our coaching staff – our coordinators specifically, though Pete Carroll certainly doesn’t get a pass from me at this point – as the reason why the 2023 Seahawks were worse.

I believe, with more competent leadership, the 2023 Seahawks should’ve won more games and reached the playoffs.

That doesn’t mean I believe this team was good enough to win the NFC West. They clearly had a ceiling that was much lower than the 49ers. But, I do believe we should’ve beaten the Rams at least once, if not twice. Win one and we’re in the playoffs. Win both, we’re 11-6 and playing in Tampa in the first round of the playoffs (while the Rams would’ve been 8-9 and on the outside looking in, where they belonged).

So, in that sense, it’s pretty clear why Pete Carroll needed to go. We can’t really tell at this time if it was a matter of the messaging not getting through, or too much meddling by Pete in the personnel decisions to keep around these guys who are getting up there (saying nothing of giving up a second round draft pick for half of a season of Leonard Williams). But, I believe we didn’t have the proper staff in place to get the best out of these players. A more run-focused offensive scheme (becoming almost exclusively either a run or play-action team), with more attention paid to stopping the run and generating pressure by being blitz-heavy on defense, likely would’ve enhanced our win/loss record.

What we couldn’t do were the same things we’ve done the last 5+ years. What we couldn’t do was declare a shift towards a 3-4 defense, only to pretty much play a random hodgepodge of the exact defensive fronts we’ve used all along. What we couldn’t do was give up huge defensive cushions underneath – hoping to take away the deep ball – only to give up the deep ball anyway, and everything else opposing offenses wanted to do. Change it up! Drastically, if necessary! But, do SOMETHING.

This team did nothing, and mediocrity was our end result. Let’s hope that doesn’t continue on into 2024.

Are The Seahawks Progressing Faster Than Usual This Season?

The Seahawks under Pete Carroll have a certain reputation, that I don’t think is actually warranted anymore. They’re a team that starts slow, but then comes together and improves as the season goes along, until they slam into a home stretch that puts them over the top by playoff time. The biggest lament of this scenario is the fact that the Seahawks usually dick around too much early in the season – losing too many games – and are unable to qualify for a divisional title or a top seed in the conference. We might be playing the best ball by the end of the regular season, but we’re going to be playing that ball on the road, and it makes a big difference in the playoffs.

Anyway, that’s the reputation, but again, if you go back season-by-season, I don’t know if it’s really true anymore. It probably hasn’t been true since 2018. But, just go with me on this.

If we focus exclusively on the defense – and, spoiler alert, that’s what the title of this post is referring to – then I think you very much CAN make that argument, across a long span of time. Probably dating back to 2016. As the L.O.B. aged out and went their separate ways, the Seahawks have failed in trying to replenish this team with defensive stars. It’s been nothing but middling players, with an occasional splash trade for an overpriced veteran who isn’t able to do enough to bring this unit back to its former glories.

So, what happens? Well, we start each and every season looking like the worst defense in all of football. We look like that, because we ARE that. Doesn’t matter if it’s Kris Richard, Ken Norton Jr., or Clint Hurtt; this side of the ball is going to massively struggle early, Pete Carroll is going to assert his will to get things more in line, and it’s eventually going to look somewhat better. But, that never lasts, because there’s a major talent shortage, and you can only hold the dike together with scotch tape and bungee cords for so long before it bursts.

Why does this year look different? How did we – in one offseason – go from looking like one of the worst defenses in football, to potentially looking like one of the best? Don’t get me wrong; I’m not saying we’re the 49ers or the Jets or something. But a difference from being Bottom 10 to Top 10 is certainly massive.

Well, let’s start with the guys we brought in. Dre’Mont Jones, Bobby Wagner, Jarran Reed, Devon Witherspoon, Julian Love, Mario Edwards, Derick Hall, Devin Bush, and Cameron Young are the major culprits. Then, there’s the return of Jamal Adams, Tre Brown, and Jordyn Brooks from injury. And maybe the biggest catalyst is the improvement of Boye Mafe from year one to year two.

Now, let’s look at who’s NOT here. Cody Barton, Ryan Neal, Shelby Harris, Al Woods, Poona Ford, Quinton Jefferson, Bruce Irvin, L.J. Collier, and Bryan Mone (still on the roster, but injured). There’s a lot of addition by subtraction going on here. Neal is probably the best player in this group, but the combo of Love and Adams certainly more than makes up for his loss. Barton is one of the worst linebackers in football. Poona has hardly even played. Collier is who we thought he was. The rest of them are role players at best. And maybe the biggest catalyst here is the fact that Mike Jackson’s role has been severely diminished with Brown and Woolen healthy. Rather than being this team’s 2nd corner, he’s now the 4th or even 5th option, which is probably where he belongs (and as far as 4th or 5th corners goes, he’s pretty good at that).

So, it definitely looks like the Seahawks pulled all the right strings in this past offseason.

Witherspoon is obviously getting the lion’s share of attention, for good reason. He’s wonderful! We’ve never seen someone quite like him, and he’s quickly proving why he was deemed to be the #5 overall pick, and the best DB in the draft. I would say, however, that the biggest surprise has been Jarran Reed. The NFL more or less left him for dead after he left the Seahawks the first time, since he hasn’t done a whole lot with the Chiefs or Packers. He’s back and he might be better than ever!

The combo of Reed and Jones is better than any interior option we’ve had since the L.O.B. days. Jones got off to a bit of a slow start, but he’s beginning to assert himself, and it’s really paying dividends. You can see it in the VAST improvement of our run defense, but they also have 5 sacks between them after 5 games.

Having Wagner and Brooks together again has also been a breath of fresh air. I am in awe over Brooks’ ability to return so quickly from ACL surgery. Not just to play since week 1, but to play at a high level. You also want to lump in Witherspoon and a healthy Adams into this mix, because they’re wreaking havoc near the line of scrimmage.

We talk about depth a lot with the Seahawks’ defense. They don’t seem to have – on paper – the kind of front-line stars that teams like the 49ers, Jets, and Eagles have. Those teams, as we’ve seen, also have lots of depth, but I think that’s easy to come by when you have so many superstars. Put anyone with a pulse around Nick Bosa, Fletcher Cox, and Quinnen Williams, and you’re bound to look good. But, the Seahawks – 1 through 25 – look pretty rock solid, and it’s making all the difference.

Nwosu is still playing like he did last year. Mafe, again, has taken a clear step forward in his progression (tied for the team lead in sacks with Reed). Hall and Darrell Taylor are still valuable rotational pieces in the pass rush. Even Edwards and Young have plugged holes and made some noise.

Thus far, the secondary – the unit we all expected to be among the best in the game – has been the biggest disappointment. But, I would argue they’ve also been the most banged up. Adams, as per usual, has only played in a game and a quarter. Woolen was injured before the season and came late to the party. Ditto Witherspoon. Brown has been in and out. Now, we’re down Coby Bryant with a toe injury (currently on IR). We’ve had to use Love more than we would’ve liked, and probably in areas where he’s not best utilized. Jackson, in spite of a promising 2022, and a highly-regarded training camp, has not looked good. Diggs has had everything on his plate, and hasn’t been able to just let it rip the way he does best (as a turnover machine). With our stars returning, though, everyone else can settle into the roles that best maximize their talents, and you get what we’ve seen the last two games: the Seahawks shutting down opposing passing games (including the vaunted Bengals) the way we all expected heading into the season.

We can’t claim the Seahawks are up there with the true elites, simply because when injuries start to crop up again, we won’t have enough behind them to keep us in that upper echelon. But, if we can avoid truly devastating injuries, and somehow cobble together the rest of this season with Adams involved ON the field, I think there’s real potential here.

The offense won’t always be as bad as they were against the Bengals. I wouldn’t even say they were truly bad, just inept in the red zone. They should keep us in most every game the rest of the way. But, that’s a two-way street. I firmly believe this defense can also keep us in every game the rest of the way. Then, it comes down to execution, and a little luck.

We’re not in an insurmountable hole, even though a 3-2 record – after losing a very winnable game – is far from ideal. Having the defense seemingly figured out only a month into the season is a big boost for this team, though! Now, I could be dead wrong, and this unit will revert back to giving up tons of yards and points this very next game. But, I don’t think I’m off here. And that will mean big things for this team the rest of the way.

We have 12 games left. 6 at home, 6 on the road. If we break it up, three of our next four are at home (Arizona, Cleveland, at Baltimore, Washington). Two of those games should be wins, if we expect to be a playoff team. With the other two, I would say both are winnable, and you’d like to come away from this stretch at least 3-1. That makes us 6-3 as we head into the gauntlet of the schedule.

At the Rams (didn’t have this one pegged as part of the gauntlet heading into the season), 49ers on Thanksgiving night, at Dallas also on Thursday, at 49ers, home for the Eagles. I would like to believe we can compete with L.A., but I dunno. If we manage to win that one, it’ll likely have to be a shootout. Dallas seems like a game we might be able to steal. The Eagles don’t look quite as dominant as they did last year. That leaves us with two against our direct rivals, the 49ers. If we can split those two, and win 2 of 3 against the rest, that puts us at 9-5 heading into the stretch run. Seems far more likely we’re 8-6, and still clinging to wild card hopes, but we’ll see.

The final three games are at Tennessee, home for Pittsburgh, and at Arizona. You’d like to think, by that point, those teams will have nothing to play for. Regardless, all are incredibly flawed. Still, when have we ever managed to be perfect in the final month against incredibly flawed teams? Seems like we always bungle one of these types of games. 3-0 would put us at 11-6 or 12-5, with a puncher’s chance at the division (but, almost certainly falling short, because the 49ers seem destined to make the Super Bowl). If we go 2-1 (which is my official prediction), that still puts us at 10-7 or 11-6, which is almost assuredly a wild card spot.

I will say that – other than Washington and Arizona – there’s a lot of high-end defenses on this slate. So, of course, now that we’re feeling good about our defense, it’ll be the offense that we have to worry about (the one thing we were all feeling pretty great about heading into the season). Isn’t it always the way? We just can’t have nice things.

The Seahawks Held On To Beat The Cowboys In Preseason Game #2

I thought there were a good amount of positives to take away from this game, but I also find myself – the closer we get to the regular season – feeling less confident about how it’s all going to turn out in 2023.

As for the game itself, I was happy to see Geno Smith get some snaps. I thought he looked fine. I also thought there was some rust to be shaken off. I thought Drew Lock looked pretty impressive, though I was disappointed to see his outing cut short due to a hit at his knee. Luckily, it looks like he’ll be okay and able to play in the preseason finale. I was delighted to see our third stringer, Holton Ahlers get such an extended run! He’s got wheels, he had some decent touch on a few of the deeper passes (even if they weren’t completed), but he’s clearly a project and far and away the third best QB on the team. More than anything, I thought he belonged. He needs a lot of work, but I wouldn’t mind having him around in case the shit hits the fan at some point this season. He looked a lot better than the reports I was hearing, which mostly consisted of the Seahawks needing to refill that third QB spot at some point.

I was also happy to see Zach Charbonnet get some run. What I wasn’t happy with was the fact that he hardly played at all. I sort of get it, he was coming off of a minor injury and we want to make sure he’s fresh for the regular season. His roster spot isn’t in question whatsoever. But, he’s still a rookie! You’re telling me even rookies don’t need to play in the preseason?! I don’t know if I buy that. Not with all the limitations teams are under when it comes to contact in training camp and practices. We’re giving all these fringe running backs the lion’s share of the playing time, and I doubt very many of them will be here when the games actually matter.

On the flipside, I’m excited to see what’s shaping up in the wide receiver room. I don’t need Metcalf or Lockett to have ANY preseason snaps. I could also be done with Jaxon Smith-Njigba. We look to be VERY strong at this position. Jake Bobo was making plays, Tyjon Lindsey had a good game and looks super fast (both as a receiver, and especially as a returner), Cody Thompson had a big offensive play. John Hall and Dareke Young both had huge special teams contributions. This is going to be a tough one to nail down when we reduce rosters to 53 players; I expect a good number of these guys to make some noise on the practice squad.

On defense, I saw what you all saw: Boye Mafe and Tyreke Smith led the way with STRONG efforts. Tre Brown had a pick and looked like the higher-upside player over Mike Jackson. Jarran Reed, Derick Hall, and Myles Adams each had sacks. I think this whole side of the ball looks deeper than we expected, and I’m looking forward to what these guys bring to the table in September and beyond.

Now, for the bad things, I’m starting with the offensive line. Particularly, the rush offense. We are getting blown up off the ball on these run plays more often than not. Sure, there were a couple of runs that we broke for long gains, but for the most part, we were stifled. That’s two games in a row for the O-Line. Again, largely played by backups, but that brings me no comfort when it comes to the depth of this unit. We’re still relying largely on unproven guys, and we’re going to need this run game to perform at a high level if we want to – at the very least – replicate what we did last year on offense.

The other half of that coin is the rush defense. It’s not inspiring a ton of confidence. The numbers reflected a bit of improvement this week over last, but we still have no idea what it’s going to look like at full strength. And the tackling has looked pretty mediocre.

My dwindling regard for the Seahawks’ chances lies squarely on those lines. I’m more or less coming around on our pass rush being good enough, if not the elite, game-wrecking type of unit we had in 2012-2014. I still think the younger guys (Mafe, Hill, Smith) will have their growing pains, and get swallowed up for entire games. But, we should have enough with guys like Nwosu, Taylor, Reed, and Dre’Mont Jones to be fine.

But, what are we going to do against the likes of the 49ers? That’s the bottom line. I don’t see them taking a huge step back this year; they’re rock solid throughout their roster, and should get enough from the quarterback position to contend for the #1 seed in the conference. They’re not our only concern, when it comes to facing punishing defensive lines, and elite rushing attacks. We still see Aaron Donald twice a year. The Giants, Bengals, Ravens, Cowboys, Eagles, and Steelers all have varying degrees of tough D-Lines. And the way things are going, I don’t even need to bother listing the teams who might run it down our throats, because just show a picture of the entire schedule!

Going game-by-game before the season has even started always looks more dismal than it actually ends up being. My feel, heading into the final preseason game, is that the Seahawks should beat the teams we’re supposed to beat. But, I don’t know if we have what it takes to defeat the cream of the crop. When you combine that with the annoying losses we’ll probably face against lesser opponents, and I think it’s a recipe for another 9-8 season. Which is fine; it’s all a process, and hopefully enough of the younger guys will prosper to the point where we’re in a position to take over the NFC in 2024. But, it’s hard to get it up for NEXT year when THIS year hasn’t even started yet.

I’ll also say this: it’s a stone cold bummer that so many of our rookies have been hurt. No Devon Witherspoon. Hardly any Charbonnet. No Cameron Young. Mike Morris missed this last game. Oluwatimi also missed this last game. And no Kenny McIntosh to be seen. The first two guys will probably be okay, but can you even think about starting Witherspoon the first week of the season if he hasn’t done anything? As for the rest of those guys, missing the preseason is a great way for them to be completely anonymous in the regular season. How many times do we see these rookies get hurt in Training Camp, only to go on and do nothing their entire first year? All the time. Every fucking time. It sets them back a whole year, then you’re left wondering in year two if they’ve got anything at all, or if we need to look to replace them in the subsequent draft.

Seahawks Backups Won Their First Preseason Game

I enjoy the preseason, to a point. I’m not going crazy, I’m not living and dying with every play like in the regular season. But, I get a little giddy for that first one. I enjoy seeing our players in uniform. I look forward to who is actually going to play, and lament who’s too hurt to get these valuable reps. I also mostly don’t care when veterans sit these games out, though I would hardly call second-year offensive tackles “veterans”, and wonder why they’re not at least playing a quarter.

I’ve also learned to stop taking these games so seriously. There’s nothing for the average fan like me to learn. It’s all meaningless. Guys who look great in these games might not even play in the regular season. I don’t know what I’m supposed to glean from these things, so I just let it wash over me and try to have a good time.

On a whole, I didn’t think the Seahawks looked very good in their 24-13 victory at home over the Vikings last night. I thought the run defense got gashed up pretty good; I thought a lot of our pressure failed to get home, or have any impact until very late in the game, when we were facing their third-stringers; and I thought our offense – especially our rushing offense – largely stunk up the joint.

But, again, take it all with a grain of salt. Bobby Wagner didn’t play. Jarran Reed and Uchenna Nwosu didn’t play. Darrell Taylor wasn’t out there. Then again, doesn’t that even further prove our lack of depth? We’re going to need at least SOME of these young guys to step up and stop the run, if Wagner is banged up, or we lose Reed, etc. So, I guess, I hope the good players don’t get hurt ever!

I will say that the pass rush wasn’t a total disaster. But, I saw what few blitzes we sent get swallowed up pretty pathetically. But, I’m not as worried about that.

As for the rush offense, yeesh! As I mentioned up top, neither of our starting offensive tackes played – replaced by Stone Forsythe and Jake Curhan, respectively – and while we got both of our center candidates some action, I don’t know who was in there at guard. Nevertheless, it was eye-opening how bad we were at running the ball. There were no holes whatsoever! Either that means the Vikings were selling out to stop the run, or they just flat out dominated us mano a mano.

If they did sell out, it didn’t translate much into receivers being open down field. I don’t have a great sense of the talent on the Vikings’ defense; I know they had a good team last year (record-wise, at least), but I thought that was propelled by the offense. Maybe they’re good! Or maybe our backups need a lot of improvement.

Outside of one terrible interception, I thought Drew Lock was fine. He largely played it safe and checked down. It took him a while to get going, but eventually he started hitting some deeper stuff (not too deep though; none of those long bombs we like). And his first touchdown was rifled in through heavy coverage and was a thing of beauty.

I was VERY excited to see Jaxon Smith-Njigba get a lot of play! He looked awesome! So did Jake Bobo, and the other receiver who caught that first amazing TD (Easop Winston Jr.). It feels like Bobo has a legitimate shot at making it as a 5th or 6th receiver (especially with Dee Eskridge’s impending suspension, and the way other guys are getting hurt), and I thought Winston looked like a prime practice squad candidate.

Getting back to the defense, I thought there were exciting flashes. I thought Boye Mafe and Derick Hall looked good. Mike Morris got some early pressure. Devin Bush had some flash plays, which were encouraging to say the least! And guys all over the secondary were flying around. Mike Jackson, Tre Brown, Coby Bryant, even rookie Jerrick Reed had a pass breakup.

Can’t say a whole lot about the rest of the defense though. Jon Rhattigan led the team in tackles with 9. He should probably make this team as a backup/Special Teamer. Jason Myers made all his kicks. I didn’t notice any issues with the long snapper. And, you know what they say, it’s also the preseason for the punter.

Also, Dee Eskridge got hurt on the opening kickoff (of course). Cade Johnson left the game with a serious concussion (requiring him to go to the hospital at halftime). On the flipside, rookie guard Anthony Bradford had a fucking rad pancake block, so he’s already on the shortlist for my favorite player on the team.

I’m probably going to miss the next two preseason games, but we’ll see if I can find a way to watch on delay.

Have The Seahawks Done Enough To Overtake The 49ers?

That’s the question we’re asking ourselves all offseason. It’s really the only relevant question to the 2023 season from a Seahawks perspective.

The 49ers were 13-4 last year, and very clearly the second-best team in the NFC. They were the #2 seed in the playoffs, they met Philly in the NFC Championship Game (the #1 seed, naturally), and they got pounded into submission.

The 49ers had one of the best and deepest rosters in the NFL, on both sides of the ball. They’re well-coached, and they have a quality offensive system that allows them to plug & play literally any quarterback (including Brock Purdy, a rookie last year who was taken with the literal final pick in the NFL Draft), and they’re STACKED where it counts. They have one of the best running backs (when healthy) in Christian McCaffrey. They have one of the best wide receivers (when healthy) in Deebo Samuel. They have one of the best tight ends (when healthy) in George Kittle. They have one of the best defensive linemen (when healthy) in Nick Bosa. They have one of the best middle linebackers (who’s always healthy) in Fred Warner. Now, the fact that almost all of these guys have had major injuries recently – yet were all healthy in 2022 – tells me the 49ers were exceedingly lucky last year. One has to wonder if that’s going to carry over; perhaps that’s a feather in our cap.

Where the 49ers are most in flux is at quarterback. Jimmy G is gone. Brock Purdy got injured at season’s end and is no sure thing to return by the start of this regular season. Trey Lance got hurt early on and was lost for most of 2022; he’ll be back, but now there are questions about his viability as a starter going forward. And their big hedge in all this is Sam Darnold, I guess?

Here’s the deal: talking about injuries, or pontificating on who the quarterback is going to be, leaves a lot of variables in play. I’m not interested in “What Ifs” when it comes to the 49ers. I think Brock Purdy will come back and play again; I believe he’ll be in the majority of the games this season. I also believe – as noted up top – they can roll with anyone (including Sam Darnold) and be fine on offense. They have enough talent at the skill spots to move the chains, and they have a deep enough defense to not need a lot of points to win games. Now, they didn’t have much of an opportunity to fill things out in the draft – and eventually the chickens will come home to roost for this franchise – but I’m going into 2023 believing the 49ers will be pretty much as good as they were in 2022. Without even looking at their schedule, I’ll pencil them in for 11-13 wins right now.

I want to focus on the Seahawks more than the 49ers, for obvious reasons. I follow the Seahawks more closely. This is a Seattle-centric blog. And the onus is on the Seahawks to have done enough to bridge the gap.

The 2022 Seahawks were also in the playoffs, as a wild card team, with a 9-8 record. For our hard work, we were rewarded by playing the 49ers in the first round. We got obliterated. Indeed, we lost three games to the 49ers last year, and none of them were particularly close. We couldn’t move the ball! That’s the long and the short of it; we couldn’t move the ball until we were already getting killed, and by that point it didn’t matter. None of the games were competitive, and that’s hard to do when both teams are playoff teams, who are in the same division. We know the 49ers! There were no surprises. They just beat our fucking asses, mano a mano.

This post isn’t just about beating the 49ers this year. It’s about overtaking them for the NFC West title. Any team on any given Sunday and all that; we could fuck around and luck into a win. But, I’m more interested in going toe-to-toe with the 49ers over the long haul. So, what have the Seahawks done?

  • We signed Jason Myers to an extension. He’s great every other year, so I’m a little worried about what 2023 has in store. That being said, the 49ers just drafted a kicker, so I’d be more concerned if I were them.
  • We signed Geno Smith to an extension. Obviously, this is much bigger news than a kicker. His contract is pretty well tied up with his performance; if he does even a fraction of a percent better than he did last year, he’ll get PAID. If he fails to live up to what he did last year, he’ll still get paid, but considerably less.
  • We signed Dre’Mont Jones and Jarran Reed to plug the middle of our defensive line. They both feature vast improvements in pass rush ability, with moderate improvements in run stuffing.
  • We filled out our offensive line with trusted veterans (on short-term deals) and exciting rookies (on long-term deals). Gabe Jackson is no more, but Phil Haynes returns (and figures to get first crack at one of the guard spots opposite Damien Lewis). Evan Brown was brought in to compete at center; he replaces Austin Blythe (who was a detriment for us last year) and figures to be much more competent. We also drafted a couple of thrilling prospects in Anthony Bradford (humongous guard taken in the 4th round) and Olu Oluwatimi (a savvy 5th round pick who many project to become our starting center as early as game 1).
  • We signed Devin Bush and Julian Love at inside linebacker and safety, respectively. Bush is a potential reclamation project who – at the very least – should be a slight improvement over Cody Barton. Love is much more interesting, as he figures to be a major hedge against the inevitable Jamal Adams injury. Love essentially cost us Ryan Neal, but it still feels like a solid upgrade at the position.
  • We brought back Bobby Wagner, which was vitally important, considering how mediocre we were at linebacker last year (again, see: Cody Barton), as well as factoring in the Jordyn Brooks injury (who figures to start this year on the PUP list, and might not be back to normal again until 2024). This improves our run defense, our communication on defense, and gives us another brilliant mind on this side of the ball to ensure players are in the right spots and doing what they’re supposed to be doing.
  • Then, we went out and drafted the best cornerback and wide receiver in the class. We also brought in a couple of very promising running backs (to replace Penny and Homer), a few defensive linemen to fill out our depth, and even another safety who is getting all kinds of kudos (Jerrick Reed won’t be a starter – or even much of a defensive participant – in year one, but he figures to cut his teeth on Special Teams, and could eventually develop into a Quandre Diggs replacement down the road). It appears to be the second consecutive elite draft class by the Seahawks – with a major emphasis on Best Player Available – and as we all know, there’s no better way to quickly turn around your franchise than to draft the way we did from 2010-2012.

And that’s the rub, isn’t it? The previous iteration of a championship-level Seahawks squad took three drafts to reach. So far, this one has only had (MAYBE) the two. Granted, finding even ONE elite draft class is a stretch, for any organization. But, if we want to keep up with the Joneses, we gotta be on the ball. I will say – in comparison to the L.O.B. squad – that we are starting from a MUCH better spot compared to what the Seahawks were from 2009 to 2010 (when Pete Carroll and John Schneider took over). So, an optimist might say that we only NEED the two elite draft classes.

What do I like? Let’s start there.

I’m absolutely enamored with the non-quarterback skill guys on offense. D.K., Tyler, and JSN are all incredible; here’s hoping JSN gets healthy and stays there (it’s disconcerting that he’s still dealing with an injury he suffered in college). Kenneth Walker returns (along with DeeJay Dallas, I guess), and gets paired with a couple of rookies who look tremendous. The tight ends are fine Seahawks tight ends.

I like the potential of this offensive line. Our two hotshot tackles had a full (healthy) year to experience everything the NFL had to offer; the hope is they take a big step forward in year two. The interior should be solid, if not improved over the dead weight we jettisoned this offseason. Any amount of extra time we can give Geno Smith is only going to help him when it comes to finding all his weapons.

Speaking of, I don’t hate the Geno signing, but I especially love how incentivized it is. He’s hungry, he proved he’s at least a capable starter in this league, now we’ll see if – with all this talent around him – he can take his game to another level.

And, how do you not like the secondary? Tariq Woolen as a rookie showed he’s capable of being a top cover guy. Coby Bryant as a rookie showed he’s capable of being a quality nickel guy. We still have Quandre Diggs playing at a high level (as another veteran leader to keep guys in line). We still have Jamal Adams (who is dynamic when he’s on the field). We still have promising depth in Tre Brown and Mike Jackson. Then, you add the consensus best cornerback in this draft class, to go opposite Woolen. That makes the whole room CONSIDERABLY better. Then, you add one of the top free agent safety acquisitions in Love. Then, you add another rookie safety to the mix who looks like a valuable depth piece. The secondary is fucking LOADED. It might eventually be better than it ever was, and that’s saying something.

What don’t I like?

I’m going to single out the linebackers here, but specifically I’m talking about the inside linebackers. We were already one of the worst units last year; we might be worse this year. Bobby Wagner gets a lot of credit for what he did with the Rams last year, especially with everything crumbling around him thanks to injuries and the team losing. But, how good was he really? I think a lot of Seahawks fans saw what he did in those two games against Seattle – where he was hyper-motivated to rub it in our faces – but are ignoring the rest. And are ignoring how he’s looked the last few seasons, when he’s been in unquestionable decline compared to his prime. Eventually, it’s going to come crashing down for Bobby; maybe that’s 2023. But, for the sake of argument, let’s pretend we get his exact 2022 production; is that better than what a healthy Jordyn Brooks gave us? I dunno. There’s also a lot of doubt about Bush, and some second thoughts about Cody Barton (especially with Barton getting a multi-year deal with the erstwhile Washington Football Team). If Bobby’s worse than Brooks, and Bush is worse than Barton, YE GODS! That’s a nightmare scenario.

Then, there’s just the blanket Defensive Line, but it’s really broken down into Pass Rush and Run Defense.

I thought the pass rush last year was good, not great. It took a while before the team understood how to properly utilize Darrell Taylor (he’s not an every-down outside linebacker/defensive end; he’s more strictly a guy you want to save for obvious pass rushing situations). Uchenna Nwosu was our best performer all year. Boye Mafe was just okay as a rookie, but I’m not expecting much from him ever. Derick Hall gets the honor of being this year’s Boye Mafe – and he’s getting rave reviews so far in OTAs – but I’m not expecting anything here either. Mario Edwards was just signed as a low-priced veteran defensive end, but he’s never done much in pass rush in his career.

What should we expect from our pass rush? At best, probably what we saw last year. Dre’Mont Jones is a wild card here; if he can consistently blow things up in the middle, that’s going to make everyone’s jobs on the outside a lot easier. But, I wouldn’t hold my breath. At worst, the pass rush takes a step back, and this is still our #1 priority next offseason (just like it was this offseason).

I thought – as does literally everyone – the run defense last year was total and complete shit. We lopped off a lot of dead weight: gone are Al Woods, Poona Ford, Shelby Harris, Quinton Jefferson, and L.J. Collier, among others. And we brought in Jones, Reed, Edwards, and rookies Cameron Young and Mike Morris. We retained Bryan Mone, but he’s injured and it’s not clear when he’s going to be ready to play again. We could’ve had Jalen Carter, so that’ll forever be a major What If. We also could’ve held onto Al Woods for not much more money than what his dead cap figure amounts to, but we’re up against the salary cap and already had to convert some Tyler Lockett money into signing bonus proration, just to sign our rookies.

Could the run defense be worse this year? It was so bad last year, I find that hard to believe, but I guess I have to admit it’s possible. I’m hoping that continuity among the coaching staff will lead to a better understanding of the scheme by the players, as well as a better understanding by the personnel people as to who needs to be on this roster, to fit in with that scheme. Is there a run-plugging diamond in the rough, either among the rookies or the back-of-the-roster holdovers from last year? Poona Ford and Bryan Mone both came from out of nowhere to be major contributors for this team, so anything’s possible.

All told, where does that put us compared to last year?

If we get modest improvements out of the run defense and pass rush, we should see tremendous value from our secondary and enough explosiveness from our offense to be improved over last year. I could see the Seahawks winning anywhere from 9-12 games, as long as we don’t suffer too many major injuries. I’ve got the 49ers at 11-13 wins, so what I’ll say is I think the Seahawks have given themselves a chance. I think we’ve done enough to compete on their level. That doesn’t mean I’m expecting us to blow them out ever; I think we can eke out one victory in the regular season, and be within a game of them by season’s end.

Gun to my head, if I have to make a definitive prediction, I would say the Seahawks finish a game back. Or, maybe tied in record, but losing to them via tiebreakers. Bottom line, I’m still predicting the 49ers win the NFC West; but I do think we’ll have a better wild card spot than we did a year ago, and hopefully that means we won’t have to play them in the first round again.

So, no, I don’t think the Seahawks have done enough to overtake the 49ers in 2023. But, at this rate, 2024 is ON THE TABLE.

The Seahawks Might Have Drafted The Best Cornerback & Wide Receiver In The First Round

It’s funny how my Seahawks fandom led me astray in this draft. Like a lot of people, I had REAL tunnel vision when it came to the first round of this draft, and especially with the #5 pick. I never legitimately believed we’d take a quarterback there, but I left that door open a crack just in case. Really, what I expected was we’d take the best defensive lineman available. Either Will Anderson (if he was still there) or Jalen Carter/Tyree Wilson (whoever the team believed in more). As many expected, the Texans drafted Will Anderson; as literally no one expected, they drafted him AFTER they also took C.J. Stroud (when they traded up with Arizona for the #3 pick). Other than that, the top 4 went chalk: Bryce Young #1 to the Panthers and Anthony Richardson #4 to the Colts. Will Levis is somewhere still sliding harder than a fireman on a greased up fire pole.

What I didn’t do before the draft was put one ounce of effort into studying first round cornerbacks or wide receivers. What’s the point? The Seahawks never take a receiver before the second round, and never take a corner before the third!

There’s two ways to look at this draft for the Seahawks so far: you’re either with us or against us. You’re either a fan of your team taking the Best Player Available, or you’re not. There are normally 32 picks in the first round of an NFL Draft; this year there was 31 because the Dolphins got dinged for tampering and lost their pick. However, that doesn’t mean there are 30+ players with “first round grades” heading into a draft. Usually there’s anywhere from 12-18 or so, true, legitimate blue chippers. This year’s class was deemed to be weak in comparison to recent drafts, so the odds of the Seahawks getting two elite players with first round grades – when their second pick was #20 – seemed pretty remote.

I would call this draft a qualified success, because the Seahawks got two players with true first round grades. But, obviously, the Seahawks didn’t address their greatest need (the defensive front seven), and that might come back to haunt them.

You can’t be a football fan and not have heard some chatter about Devon Witherspoon, cornerback from Illinois (our pick at #5). Really, all I knew heading into the draft was that he was one of the best cornerbacks in this draft, he excelled in press coverage, and he was elite against the run. As soon as I heard that, I thought, “Well, he sounds like an ideal Pete Carroll cornerback; too bad he’ll be gone by the time we take our first corner of this draft!”

He’s 6’0, 180-something pounds. Notably – in the post-round interviews – Pete Carroll compared him to Troy Polamalu, which is incredibly high praise. It’s hard not to be a fan of his style of play, I think he’ll fit in beautifully with what the Seahawks want to do on defense. That being said, he doesn’t strike me as a Sauce Gardner type. He’s not far-and-away the best cornerback in this draft (even though he was picked first, and would probably get the most first place votes). Washington and New England both took cornerbacks at 16 and 17 respectively who are in the conversation (particularly the Oregon guy, who I’d also heard rumblings about pre-draft).

The big question with Witherspoon will be: is he a lockdown corner? Or is he just a good all-around athlete? Is he a Richard Sherman, or a Shawn Springs? Say what you will about Springs, but he was never a lockdown guy; he was fine.

Of note to Seahawks fans in the market for a defensive lineman, Tyree Wilson ended up going #7 to the Raiders and Jalen Carter went #9 to the Eagles (of course). It’s interesting how the defensive end market shook out, because there were a number of quality names still available by the time the draft got to #20. I don’t know if these guys are going to be worth a damn as pros, but names I’d heard about pre-draft included Myles Murphy (28th to the Bengals), Nolan Smith (30th to the Eagles, of course), and Felix Anudike-Uzomah (31st to the Chiefs). There were also a couple of semi-interesting defensive tackles taken after we picked, including Mazi Smith (26th to the Cowboys) and Bryan Bresee (29th to the Saints). We’ll have to keep our eyes on those guys, and just imagine what they might’ve looked like in Seahawks uniforms.

At some point in the run-up to #20, I tweeted out how I thought it would be funny if the Seahawks continued to buck their organizational trends by taking “that amazing tight end” with our other first round pick. Dalton Kincaid was who I was referring to; he ended up getting selected by the Bills at 25. Nevertheless, we did buck trends, but went wide receiver instead.

Jaxon Smith-Njigba is more-or-less the consensus best receiver in this class, at least heading in. But, kinda like our cornerback pick, JSN doesn’t sound like a grand slam, no doubter home run, a la Ja’Marr Chase or Justin Jefferson. Maybe just a half-step down.

He’s 6’1, 196 pounds. He was the very best Ohio State wide receiver in 2021, before a hamstring injury severely limited his 2022 season. He can play anywhere – inside and outside – he has great hands, he gets open. He’s going to be a BIG asset for this team. I’ve heard him being compared to Doug Baldwin, which: sign me up! I wonder if he’s like a blend of both Tyler Lockett and D.K. Metcalf. I love the pick already for what he’s going to mean to this offense on third downs, but I’ll be curious to see what his high-end potential is on big plays downfield. A non-crazy Antonio Brown is the ceiling you’re looking for. I imagine the floor is – as always – Nelson Agholor.

Here’s the thing with these two picks: it doesn’t matter if you’re in the Best Player Available camp or the Draft For Need camp, because cornerback and wide receiver ARE needs for this team.

Sure, Tariq Woolen and Coby Bryant were drafted last year and made names for themselves as rookies. But, we still needed a starter opposite Woolen who isn’t Mike Jackson. I would also argue that Woolen is more of a cover corner, and not necessarily a guy who lowers the boom on opposing players. I cringe every time I see Woolen try to tackle a running back. We needed to throw a wild animal into our secondary. Devon Witherspoon is going to learn so much from the likes of not only Woolen, but Quandre Diggs, Julian Love, and even Jamal Adams (for the half a game he’s healthy for).

And I would argue – in spite of having two 1,000-yard receivers in Metcalf and Lockett – the Seahawks had a bigger need for a third receiver than they did for another corner. Are you as sick and tired of Dee Eskridge as I am? Are you over these 1-year retreads like Marquise Goodwin? Are you looking for a little more than a 6th/7th rounder or an undrafted guy, like Freddie Swain, Dareke Young, or Penny Hart?

Three-receiver sets are the norm nowadays, even with a team that runs as much as the Seahawks do. The fullback is out. You’re either going with a third receiver or a second tight end. So, there’s going to be no shortage of plays for JSN on the field in this offense. He gives us probably the best wide receiver room in football (certainly in the NFC anyway), he’s insurance in case Metcalf or Lockett get banged up, and he’ll help us replenish for when Tyler Lockett one day decides to hang ’em up. Sure, Lockett is signed through 2025, he keeps his body in shape, and he’s careful about not taking brutal hits. But, he’s 31 this year. There’s a potential out in his contract before 2024, so you never know when it’s all going to come to an end for an older player. Waiting until after Lockett is gone to replenish the wide receiver room sounds like a terrible idea. Get a rookie in there now, have him learn from Lockett while he still can, and now you’ve really maximized that pick!

Granted, even though the Seahawks did draft for need, they weren’t the most pressing needs. To that, I say, let’s see what happens over the next couple days. Should be quite interesting.

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.