Seahawks Death Week Reloaded

a.k.a. What The Seahawks Need To Do To Get Back To The Super Bowl & Win It All This Time, Again

“Rebuilding” is a word people use to talk about bad teams who are trying to get good again.  Eventually.  In a couple, two, three years.  “Reloading” is a word people use to talk about good teams who are trying to stay good in a hurry.  I’ve seen that word “reload” used to describe what the Seahawks are doing this offseason, but I’ve always read that with a negative connotation.  Teams that need to “reload” are teams that have been good in recent years (plural), but in the most recent season, the quality of their team dipped.  Like, a team that’s made the playoffs a bunch of years in a row, then had one down season where they missed the cut.  And, instead of blowing things up, they’re just going to reload for another run at a championship.

The 49ers are a PERFECT example of this.  Great team, had a rough 2014.  They weren’t terrible; they weren’t bad enough to warrant a complete rebuild.  They just need to reload.  Add some pieces to the core they’ve got now and they’ll be all set for another post-season run.

“Reload” is also a word you use when you talk about teams that are desperately trying to cling to relevance when they’re WELL past their prime.  Think about what the Seahawks were doing in the offseason between 2007 & 2008.  They PROBABLY should have blown it all up and done a total rebuild.  Instead, they tried to keep the team together, reloaded with a couple of ill-advised signings in Julius Jones & T.J. Duckett (among others), to give it one more go with Hasselbeck, Jones, and Co.  What happened?  They bottomed out in 2008, and bottomed out again in 2009 when they had the same strategy (T.J. Houshmandzadeh, anyone?).

These Seahawks, right now, this year, aren’t “reloading”, because these Seahawks are already loaded!  Regardless of what happens, we’re still going to be one of the youngest and most talented rosters in the league next year.  Losing a Super Bowl doesn’t mean you “reload” for next year.  You don’t re-anything!  You do a little tweaking and you continue to build up the depth of your squad.  It would be no different had we won the Super Bowl, or ended up losing in the NFC Championship Game.

***

The primary storyline this offseason will be the extension of Russell Wilson.  The secondary storyline this offseason will be the extension of Bobby Wagner.  Considering they were drafted into the new CBA, this is the first opportunity the Seahawks have had to extend these two (and to give them raises commensurate to the output they’ve given this team on the field).  We’re actually in really good shape right now, thanks to the in-season extensions the team gave K.J. Wright and Cliff Avril; those are two fewer deals the team has to worry about now that the offseason is ramping up.

How Wilson’s deal is structured will dictate a lot of the other moves this team makes, so it’ll be important to get that squared away pretty quickly.  I would argue Wagner’s deal – by virture of him not being a quarterback in the NFL – will be much simpler and easier to plan for (though, I doubt the team will wait to get him done either).

Those two guys are a given, and will get done, likely sometime around the Draft.  There are other, lesser guys up for new deals that the team will have to think about.

James Carpenter is a free agent.  After a rocky start to his career – one that has been pretty injury-plagued – it wouldn’t shock me to see the team let him walk away.  I can’t imagine he’s going to command a king’s ransom on the open market, but I’ve been surprised before.  Considering he’s more of a run-first blocker, with suspect pass-protection skills, I can’t imagine he’s a great fit for most teams who are pass-first.  If the Seahawks can bring him back on the cheap, I’d be all for it.  If they can’t, I’m not going to shed too many tears.  Either way, I would expect this team to draft hard for interior linemen this year.  Perhaps a guard/center type who could replace Carpenter now, and replace Unger when he’s no longer fit to handle the center duties.

Byron Maxwell is another biggie, and one we’ve all along said is not long for this team.  I can’t imagine the market is going to low-ball him; he’s going to get serious starter’s money.  Maybe not All Pro money, but it’ll likely be enough to price out the Seahawks.  I believe John Schneider when he says that Maxwell is a high priority, but I don’t think that’s at any price.  Here’s to hoping Tharold Simon grows up in a hurry between last season and this season.

Malcolm Smith is another free agent, but you can kiss him goodbye.  He hardly played at all outside of special teams when our core linebackers were healthy.  We’ve already extended Wright, we’re in the process of extending Wagner, and Irvin appears to be a coveted piece of our future that we’re keen on keeping around long term.  There’s just no room for Smith, who could likely be an effective starter on another team.  Let him go, replace him with a guy making the minimum, and we’ll be just fine.

Beyond that, the only other free agents we could potentially lose would be depth guys.  Tarvar, Schofield, Shead, Jeron Johnson.  None of these guys are “must keeps”.  I would argue extending our long snapper is of more value to the team than any of these other guys I’ve mentioned in this paragraph.

***

So, where does this team need help?

Our obvious starting point is Wide Receiver.  We need a couple, and we’re probably going to have to draft them to get them.  Let’s face it, trying to attract a free agent wide receiver into this offense is about as easy as the Seattle Mariners trying to attract a slugging right-handed power bat; nobody wants to sign here and watch their numbers plummet!  And, I don’t know if this has hit you yet, but we’re about to have a quarterback who is one of the top two or three highest-paid players in the NFL, so it’s not like we can afford to over-pay for Larry Fitzgerald or whoever else may or may not be available on the open market.  There will be no Percy Harvin-esque deals this offseason, or for the foreseeable future.

Draft.  Draft is the way to go for this position.  Lock them in pretty much against their wills and try to squeeze as much as you can out of them.

One route to take is what the Falcons did a few years ago:  sell out and trade up to draft a sure thing.  While it’s enticing – since this team is already at a championship-level – it’s never going to happen.  But, we do need to draft a receiver high.  In the first round, ideally, but no later than the third.  And, we probably need to draft a couple (one early, one late) just to get our numbers up and create some really good competition in camp this summer.

Doug Baldin is locked in thru 2016.  Jermaine Kearse is a restricted free agent who will be tendered at a high rate, meaning he’s pretty much a lock to be here at least in 2015.  These are two fine receivers, who both probably need to be bumped down a peg or two.  Ricardo Lockette is another restricted free agent who SHOULD be back, but he’s less of a lock than Kearse.  Paul Richardson had that devastating injury and is probably a strong candidate to start the season on the PUP list (meaning he will miss at least the first six weeks of the season; so it’s pretty safe to consider him a non-factor for 2015, considering the rate of re-injury when players try to rush back into playing shape mid-season).  Kevin Norwood had quite the underwhelming rookie campaign, so who knows if he’ll even be on the team when we eventually cut the roster back down to 53?  Then, there’s Chris Matthews, Bryan Walters, and some other fringe guys to think about.  I know Matthews was a revalation in the Super Bowl, but there’s a reason why he wasn’t playing the whole game – he was only in a small package of plays, because he’s not really that good.

I mean, yeah, Matthews is tall and athletic, and that accounts for something, but a lot of being a wide receiver is being in the right place at the right time and doing the right things when you get there.  He might not be the best route runner, he might not be adept enough at shedding defenders or creating separation.  I dunno, but there’s a reason why that guy kicks around on the fringes of the NFL all his career.  If he was better at all the things BESIDES height, he’d be making millions of dollars instead of hundreds of thousands.

Really, what this all boils down to is:  get ready for another crapshoot.  Maybe we’ll get lucky and find a top-notch receiver in the draft.  But, we took two cracks at it last year – with Richardson and Norwood – in one of the all time deepest drafts for the position, and we likely came away with a couple duds.  This year doesn’t look to be nearly as promising, so hopefully we find that diamond in the rough.

Because if we don’t, I hate to break it to you, but the overall makeup of our wide receiver group doesn’t figure to be all that remarkably improved in 2015.  Yes, the team needs to keep trying to get it right, but unless you get that Odell Beckham, you’ve likely got a project on your hands that will require a couple years to get up to speed.  Remember, Golden Tate wasn’t a star the minute he stepped into the NFL.  This shit takes time.

***

After receiver, things look a little more reasonable on offense.  I would expect the Seahawks to go hard after a free agent tight end.  That may or may not spell the end of Zach Miller’s Seahawks career, but considering he’s making a relatively low figure of $4 million, I would suspect he’ll be back (he may also agree to a pay cut, which would be all the better).  If we could pair Miller with a high-quality free agent tight end, and let Luke Willson continue to develop (i.e. stop dropping the ball so much), we may not NEED a bona fide #1 wide receiver.  Hell, Luke Willson by himself is already matchup hell for defenses; imagine if we’re able to sign another studly threat at tight end to go with him!  At a reasonable cost, that’d be the way I’d go.

Don’t expect the Seahawks to wade in the free agent waters for a lineman.  Carpenter is a wild card.  J.R. Sweezy might be looking at an extension this year, at a relatively reasonable cost.  We’ve still got Alvin Bailey, Garry Gilliam, and Patrick Lewis as quality depth pieces.  Okung is signed thru 2015, Unger is signed thru 2016, and Britt is signed thru 2017, so really the bulk of our offensive line will remain at least through next year.  I would still expect some late round finds by Tom Cable, but this probably isn’t the year where the Seahawks look high in the draft for replacements, unless someone TOO good falls to them.

Another big storyline is what’s going to happen to Marshawn Lynch.  Good God, is this something I don’t want to have to worry about.  The Seahawks are already on record as wanting to extend him, to keep him happy and well paid.  But, rumors are floating around hot and heavy that Lynch is thinking about retiring, which depresses me to no end.  I’ve been as vocal as anyone about not keeping running backs past their expiration dates, but Lynch is as crucial as they come.  I agree with the Seahawks in their desire to extend him another couple years, and I hope Lynch takes the deal.  If he were to happily retire as a Seahawk, I don’t know if I could be any more pleased.

Failing that, if he does leave the game this year, the Seahawks are obviously going to have to look to the draft.  Turbin is signed thru 2015 and will be the likely starter.  But, I imagine there’d be a big time share between him, Michael (signed thru 2016), and any rookie we bring in who wins that third RB job.  Our running game will take a noticeable hit, but I’m hopeful we’d be able to find our running back of the future out of that mix.

***

On defense, the immediate need is in the interior defensive line.  Kevin Williams was on a 1-year deal and probably won’t be back (he may retire, or he may take another small deal to try to get that ring, but I think the team will end up moving on).  Mebane and Tony McDaniel are both signed thru 2015.  I have a hard time seeing the team moving on from either of these guys before the ends of their deals, but I do think we’ll look to draft a defensive tackle pretty early.

What we’ve got that we can count on is Jordan Hill.  He’s probably not a starter, but he’s certainly a quality depth piece who has found a role in our pass rush packages.  Beyond that, it’s a lot of slim pickin’s.  Filler guys like Dobbs, Scruggs, Jesse Williams, and a bunch of other names who are THIS close to trading in their jobs in the NFL for jobs as nightclub bouncers and with private security firms.  Ideally, we’d be able to pick up someone high in the draft who will go into the rotation immediately and eventually replace Mebane or McDaniel, with another guy drafted late who could hopefully develop into a replacement next year or the year after.

This is also a position the team could look to bolster in free agency, if the price is right.  Ndamukong Suh is an interesting name people are talking about as a potential target for the Seahawks, but I’m not buying it.  He’s about to be one of the top two highest paid defensive linemen in the NFL; 1) he’s not taking a discount to be here, and 2) we’re not going to blow up our entire salary cap for the next three years just to bring him in.  Yes, it would be AMAZING if Suh played on this line next to Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril; we’d probably have the single greatest pass rush the world has ever seen.  I could also win the Mega Millions lottery tonight and be a wealthy unemployed person tomorrow.  Let’s not waste the time or brain cells giving this too much thought.

More likely, the team goes after a lower tier free agent.  Cost effective, helpful, hopefully younger with a longer shelf life than a Kevin Williams.  Someone equally as effective at stopping he run and rushing the passer.  I don’t have any specific names for you right now, but they’re out there.  It’s just a matter of if they want to play for a winner or not.

***

Elsewhere on the defense, I think there’s a lot of clamoring for another defensive end, but I’m actually pretty happy with what we’ve got.  Bennett on one side, Avril on the other.  When Bennett moves inside, we’ve got Irvin along with Avril on the same line going after the quarterback.  Even our depth is okay, with Cassius Marsh looking like a good prospect last season before he went out with injury.  Hopefully this is the year we let Schofield go and find a quality replacement in the draft.  Maybe somewhere in the 2nd round to 4th round range.  Get some freak athlete who does one thing and one thing extremely well.  Probably not a spot we’ll look in free agency, unless it’s as a depth guy to help out in camp.

Our linebackers are solid.  As I mentioned before, we’ll have Wagner, Wright, and Irvin all back.  We’ve still got Kevin Pierre-Louis and Brock Coyle who are signed long term as quality depth guys and special teamers.  Malcolm Smith should be pretty easy to replace with another low-round draft pick or undrafted free agent.

In the secondary, I’m assuming Maxwell will be gone.  Lane is signed thru 2015, Simon is here thru 2016.  Beyond that, I would expect the team to go after another corner or possibly two in the draft.  Unlikely you’ll see this team get a free agent unless it’s another depth guy for camp.

***

As per usual, this is a team that’s built through the draft, with strategic forays into free agency.  I would expect more of the same.  With Russell Wilson’s contract expected to be pretty reasonable in 2015 (most of his money will be in the form of a signing bonus; his cap number this year will be manageable because we can spread out his bonus across five years of salary cap), there may be opportunities to get free agents on bigger 1-year deals.  But, unless Lynch retires, or something unexpected happens, I wouldn’t expect the Seahawks to go out of their way to bring in a big money free agent from another team.  The most we spend – aside from extending our own guys – will likely be for a quality tight end.  Otherwise, it’s all draft, all the time.

Why I’m Freaking The Fudge Out About Super Bowl XLIX

I have this vague sense of feeling pretty at ease before last year’s Super Bowl.  The overwhelming majority of people had Denver winning the game pretty handily, everyone was sleeping on our defense, and quite frankly, everyone totally dismissed our offense’s ability to get the job done.  In that game, I just had this feeling that it would be less about our defense against their offense and more about our offense against their defense.

As it turned out, I was off-base, because our defense controlled that game from the coin toss, but I will argue that if Denver ever figured out how to score on us, our offense STILL would’ve made it a comfortable victory.  Either way, with how their defense was banged up, I know I was EXCITED for the game to finally start, and yeah in that excitement there’s some nervous energy because you’ve got a million What Ifs running around your head, but last year was a cake walk of a two weeks compared to this year.

This year, I haven’t been sleeping well, I’m fucking stressed out at work, and while I know what it’s going to take to BEAT this team, a pretty big part of me questions how we’re going to achieve it.

There are a couple big things in play that are giving me pause.  For starters, our defense just flat out isn’t as good as it was a year ago.  In that, I’m looking squarely at our pass rush.  It’s better than it was in 2012, but it can’t hold a flame to 2013.  What does that mean?  Well, for starters, we’ve never really locked down that LEO rush spot.  We’ve yet to really replace Chris Clemons and it’s biting us in the ass.  On passing downs, when they flip Avril to the other side and push Michael Bennett to defensive tackle (which worked so amazingly in 2013), we’ve got either Bruce Irvin or O’Brien Schofield coming from that LEO side, and for whatever reason it’s just not cutting it.  This is where, you know, maybe a Cassius Marsh going down for the year hurts you.  Not that it’s all that reasonable to expect total greatness out of a rookie mid-round pick, but he was spry with a high motor and very well could’ve developed right before our eyes if he stayed healthy.  Likewise, with our interior rush next to Bennett.  I’m not gonna lie to you, Bennett can’t do everything.  But, when Jordan Hill came on strong at the end of the season, we were a completely different team.  In those last six games, we dominated the line of scrimmage from our nickel sets, and I would be WAY more confident in our pass rush right now if he was still with us.

This is the thing:  when the Patriots finally fixed their offensive line woes, they had some of the best interior pass protection in the league.  How do you rattle a quarterback like Tom Brady – who isn’t all that mobile – and prevent him from doing what he wants to do?  You pressure him up the middle.  While Brady isn’t going to run your pants off, quarterbacks like him who’ve been around for as long as he has, playing at as high a level as he has, are adept at one thing:  stepping up into the pocket.  Too often of late – since Hill went down and we’ve been unable to replace him – our defensive ends have been pushed out wide, while our tackles get nothing done up front, allowing quarterbacks to step up and make their throws with perfect timing and arm strength.  If you chop off their ability to step up, they’re not going to get as much on their throws and – since they’re not going to scramble for too many first downs – you don’t have to worry about them running toward the sideline for big gains.  Tom Brady will run a little if there’s a clear hole up the middle where he can get a cheap 7-10 yards before sliding down safely.  He’s less inclined to run if he’s got to try to beat a guy to the edge; with the speed on our defense, that’s a fool’s errand anyway.  And, besides all of that, with an interior pass rush, if the tackles try to block our ends out wide, that allows our ends to get a swat at the ball or otherwise hit Brady, when he would have stepped up and avoided it if the interior rush doesn’t get home.

This is what’s keeping me up at night.  Tom Brady, standing in a relatively clean pocket for most of the game, carving us up.  Yeah, our secondary is good, but they’re not robots.  If we give Brady 4-8 seconds to throw, he’s GOING to find a man open at some point.

The other thing that’s keeping me up is simple:  how do we score?

Against Denver, I was pretty solid in my belief that we weren’t going to run for a ton.  Marshawn Lynch wasn’t going to bust out for 150 yards and multiple touchdowns.  But, I figured our receivers were more talented than people gave them credit for, and we’d maybe bust Wilson loose on some runs off the edge with their linebackers and defensive ends injured.

This year, where’s it coming from?  Where are we steadily going to get our offense from?  When you think of Bill Belichick as a game-planner, what do you think of first?  Obviously, egomaniacal cheater.  But, what’s the SECOND thing you think of?  Every game plan is different.  Unlike the Seahawks – who put out their best 11 against your 11, with the same concepts game-in and game-out, and just dare you to beat us – the Patriots tailor a game plan specifically for their opponent that week.  Or, in this case, for the last two weeks.  They’ve had TWO WEEKS to tailor a game plan to stop the one thing we do the best.  What’s that one thing?  Running the ball.  Specifically, running the ball with Marshawn Lynch, but I don’t necessarily think they’re entirely focused on just that one aspect.  I’m pretty sure they’re giving close to equal time to game-planning for Wilson’s scrambling ability and his ability to run off of the zone read.

If the Patriots put the bulk of their efforts in limiting our rushing ability, where are we going to get our yards?  Granted, it’s pretty unlikely that they stop us from running ENTIRELY, but if they hold us to a poor average and stick us with a bunch of 3rd & Longs, I think we’re fucked.

Doug Baldwin on Revis Island.  I don’t think Baldwin will be held without a catch, but honestly, it wouldn’t TOTALLY shock me.  If Baldwin catches five balls in this game, I’ll be beyond impressed.  That puts Kearse, where?  With Browner covering/manhandling him?

This is what I don’t like.  I hate going into a game not knowing where we’re going to get our production.  Usually, I’ve got a pretty good idea.  But, usually, we’re not going up against one of the three or five best cornerbacks in football.  I mean, probably our BEST matchup on offense is Luke Willson against whoever.  First, who wants to pin their hopes on Luke Willson not dropping three balls in this game?  Second, what if they stick Browner on him and neutralize him entirely?  Then, I’ve got to pin my hopes on Moeaki?  Helfet?  What kind of offense is that?

I honestly can’t remember the last time I’ve felt worse going into a football game.

I feel like this is the type of game where their offense plays our defense to a draw, but it’s also the type of game where their defense completely out-plays us and we’re stuck scratching and clawing, trying to pull another miracle out of our asses late in the game.  No WAY lightning strikes twice in back to back weeks!

Either that, or our offense defies expectations, but because we can’t manage any sort of a pass rush, this game weirdly turns into a shootout with one team having the ball with two minutes left, down a score, and it going against us because fuck me I hate my life.

Last year, I wanted to savor every minute of the build-up to the game, so convinced was I that we’d get our first championship.  This year?  God, I almost just want it to be over.  I can’t savor a God damn thing!

One thing I’ve got going for me:  whatever is going on right now certainly beats being the Team of Destiny, going into the game knowing you’re going to win, and then getting knocked on your ass in a heartbreaking defeat of epic proportions.  A Seahawks victory in this game is going to be appreciated fifty times over compared to last year’s gingerly walk in the park.  The only thing is:  will my heart have enough juice to survive it all?

I’ve got more on the matchup coming up tomorrow.  Hopefully, I’ll have some better things to say about the Seahawks’ chances.

Your Seattle Seahawks Super Bowl XLIX Roster

I did this last year, albeit in a different format.  It’s nothing fancy, no real analysis or anything, but it’s just something I’d like to look at (and later, look back on and reflect).

Last year, it was more a reflection of how we crafted our Super Bowl roster (mostly via draft & undrafted free agents).  This year, I thought I’d take a gander at who’s on the team now as it compares to last year’s Super Bowl roster.  As with last year’s post, I’m not including guys who are on IR, or who were on the team earlier in the year and were released or traded.  I’m specifically looking at the guys on the 53-man roster RIGHT NOW.

I reserve the right to come back and adjust this if the Seahawks make any minor moves between now and February 1st.

Let’s start with the offense:

2014 2015
Quarterback 1 Russell Wilson Russell Wilson
Quarterback 2 Tarvaris Jackson Tarvaris Jackson
Quarterback 3 B.J. Daniels
Running Back 1 Marshawn Lynch Marshawn Lynch
Running Back 2 Robert Turbin Robert Turbin
Running Back 3 Christine Michael * Christine Michael
Fullback 1 Michael Robinson Will Tukuafu
Fullback 2 Derrick Coleman
Wide Receiver 1 Golden Tate Doug Baldwin
Wide Receiver 2 Percy Harvin Jermaine Kearse
Wide Receiver 3 Doug Baldwin Ricardo Lockette
Wide Receiver 4 Jermaine Kearse Bryan Walters
Wide Receiver 5 Ricardo Lockette Chris Matthews
Wide Receiver 6 Bryan Walters * Kevin Norwood
Tight End 1 Zach Miller Luke Willson
Tight End 2 Luke Willson Tony Moeaki
Tight End 3 Kellen Davis * Cooper Helfet
Left Tackle Russell Okung Russell Okung
Left Guard James Carpenter James Carpenter
Center Max Unger Max Unger
Right Guard J.R. Sweezy J.R. Sweezy
Right Tackle Breno Giacomini Justin Britt
Guard/Tackle Alvin Bailey Alvin Bailey
Tackle Michael Bowie * Garry Gilliam
Center Lemuel Jeanpierre Lemuel Jeanpierre
Offensive Line Paul McQuistan Patrick Lewis
Offensive Line Caylin Hauptmann * Keavon Milton

* denotes Inactive for Super Bowl

As you can see, from a roster standpoint, we’re carrying the third quarterback for some reason (even though he was inactive for the NFC Championship Game, and will most likely be inactive again for the Super Bowl), whereas last year we carried the extra fullback.  Obviously, Robinson is retired and Coleman is injured, so that’s what happened there.

What stands out the most is the drop-off in quality in the wide receiver department.  The 2015 Seahawks are essentially chopped off at the knees at this position, with Golden Tate and Percy Harvin playing elsewhere.  Baldwin, Kearse, Lockette, and Walters each move up two spots respectively, severely weakening our passing game.  Rookie Norwood was active for the NFCCG, but I would expect him to be inactive if Helfet is healthy.

Speaking of tight ends, another big blow is the loss of Miller.  I like Willson a lot and think he’s taken a big step forward this year (in spite of some infamous drops), but it’s pretty clear we’re hurting.  Moeaki is a fine stand-in, but he’s no Zach Miller.  I’ll be looking forward to all three tight ends as being active – again – if Helfet is healthy.  I think this can be a real mismatch in our favor against the Patriots.

The offensive line is largely the same as last year.  Britt sat out against the Packers with an injury, but I have to figure he’ll be back with the two weeks off to recover.  I think Britt is more-or-less a wash compared to Giacomini (MAYBE a slight downgrade, but in the long run will be a big improvement).  Our depth is pretty solid as well, as four of our reserves have played significant minutes this year.  I’ve still never heard of this Milton guy, so expect him to be inactive.

Now, let’s go with the defense:

2014 2015
Defensive End 1 Chris Clemons Michael Bennett
Defensive End 2 Red Bryant Cliff Avril
Defensive End 3 Michael Bennett O’Brien Schofield
Defensive End 4 Cliff Avril Demarcus Dobbs
Defensive End 5 O’Brien Schofield David King
Defensive End 6 Benson Mayowa *
Defensive Tackle 1 Brandon Mebane Kevin Williams
Defensive Tackle 2 Tony McDaniel Tony McDaniel
Defensive Tackle 3 Clinton McDonald Landon Cohen
Defensive Tackle 4 Jordan Hill *
Outside Linebacker K.J. Wright K.J. Wright
Middle Linebacker Bobby Wagner Bobby Wagner
Outside Linebacker Bruce Irvin Bruce Irvin
Linebacker 4 Malcolm Smith Malcolm Smith
Linebacker 5 Mike Morgan Mike Morgan
Linebacker 6 Heath Farwell Brock Coyle
Cornerback 1 Richard Sherman Richard Sherman
Cornerback 2 Byron Maxwell Byron Maxwell
Cornerback 3 Walter Thurmond Jeremy Lane
Cornerback 4 Jeremy Lane DeShawn Shead
Cornerback 5 DeShawn Shead Tharold Simon
Cornerback 6 Marcus Burley
Free Safety 1 Earl Thomas Earl Thomas
Free Safety 2 Chris Maragos Steven Terrell
Strong Safety 1 Kam Chancellor Kam Chancellor
Strong Safety 2 Jeron Johnson
Long Snapper Clint Gresham Clint Gresham
Punter Jon Ryan Jon Ryan
Kicker Steven Hauschka Steven Hauschka

* denotes Inactive for Super Bowl

As you can see, we’re carrying two fewer linemen and two more defensive backs.  Injuries have hurt us bigtime in the defensive line department, but depth has been an issue all year with our DBs, as it seems like we’re dealing with nagging injuries on a weekly basis in our secondary.

Along the line, we’re hurting bad.  Clemons and Bryant are obviously gone, so Bennett and Avril moved up into their places.  From a quality of play standpoint, this is an improvement.  But, from a depth standpoint, it’s not pretty.  Jordan Hill was a positive contributor this year until he got hurt.  Kevin Williams has been a godsend with Mebane going down.  McDaniel is as steady as they come.  And, Cohen is a widebody who played some key snaps against the Packers in our goalline package.  It’s our pass rush that I’m most concerned about, with Schofield essentially replacing Clemons from last year, which is indeed a step down.  Bruce Irvin will be key in this regard, as he’s looking a lot better when he rushes the passer.

Our linebackers are largely intact, as our top 5 are all holdovers from last year.  Coyle replaces Farwell, and from my naked eye, I haven’t seen a huge downturn in our special teams coverage.

Our secondary is still our strongest unit.  The only real change is Simon for Thurmond.  Thurmond was more versatile, but Simon is cheaper, under team control for longer, and is better on the outside.

I would argue we’re actually stronger in the secondary this year compared to last year.  Linebacking, offensive line, running backs, quarterbacks, and specialists (kicker/punter/long snapper) are all a wash.  We’re a bit worse in our tight ends and at fullback.  And, we’re A LOT worse along the defensive line and in our wide receiver group.  I may come back to this when the season is over, to compare & contrast 2013’s overall roster to 2014’s, but suffice it to say, we’re not as good of a team as we were last year.  That was to be expected, so it’s not like I’m telling you anything that’s untrue or shocking.  How much worse, I guess, depends on how the Super Bowl turns out.

Either way, as the years go on, we’re REALLY going to marvel at how good that 2013 team was.  To run out a squad with that amount of talent and depth is about as awe-inspiring as it gets.

For the Super Bowl, unless injuries are a factor, here’s my prediction for the seven inactives:

  1. B.J. Daniels – QB
  2. Christine Michael – RB
  3. Kevin Norwood – WR
  4. Keavon Milton – OL
  5. Patrick Lewis – C
  6. David King – DE
  7. Marcus Burley – CB

It was a struggle down there at the bottom.  In theory, you’d want to keep King active to give yourself another pass rusher, but really, how many can you have on the field at once?  I think Cohen gives you more value, especially if the Patriots make a concerted effort to run the ball with Blount.  I thought about keeping Burley active as well – what with Sherman and Thomas playing through injury, you may want more depth in the secondary – but he seems to be the low man on the totem pole right now.

Obviously, this changes as the injury reports start coming out.  Guys to watch out for here are obviously Britt and Helfet, as well as Terrell and Johnson in the secondary.  But, for now, my official guess at the inactives is what I’ve listed above.

We’re The Best, Around: Seahawks Crush Cardinals

Come on, as if there was any doubt …

You may suck upon deez royal nutz ...

You may suck upon deez royal nutz …

It would be unfair to call Seattle’s offense strictly “one dimensional”.  But, you can’t deny they do one thing MUCH better than the other, and that’s run the football.  The problem with being one dimensional, of course, is that when the other team shuts down the one thing you do well, you’re at an extreme disadvantage.  When that one thing is rushing, you’re even more behind the 8-ball, as what are you going to do if you ever fall behind in a game AND you can’t run the ball?

Well, if you’re the Seattle Seahawks, not to worry, because the Seahawks are NOT one dimensional, but that’s neither here nor there, because why would you ever fear being down by two scores or more?

You can get some flawed analysis coming out of this game.  I know, in the moment, that was a FUN NIGHT.  And I know in the standings it looks like we have the same record as the Cardinals (overtaking them for the division thanks to the head-to-head tie-breaker).  But, the Cardinals right now are no where near our league.

I mean, what do you learn about a game where their fourth string quarterback threw for less than five yards per attempt?  The same quarterback who is yet to throw for a touchdown in over 200 career attempts, which is an NFL record.  Or, about a team that couldn’t run at full strength getting held to 29 yards?  Overall, we’re talking about an offensively-challenged team on its BEST day.  And, last night was far from that.

Yes, the Seahawks dominated, and surely would’ve dominated most teams – if not all teams – but a much lesser defensive unit could’ve done just as good of a job.

I’m more impressed by what the offense showed us.  Against a team that WAS a top 10 defense before last night, we generated 596 yards of total offense.  That’s on top of a ridiculous 97 yards in penalties by our three units.  We ran for 267 yards on 34 carries for a nearly 8-yard per carry average.  I hate doing this – because all the runs count – but if you take out Beastmode’s 79-yard touchdown run, you’re STILL talking about a Seahawks offense that averaged 5.7 yards per carry.  Want to further limit us by also taking out Russell Wilson’s 55 yard scamper?  The Seahawks STILL averaged over 4 yards per carry.

This is an Arizona defense built upon stopping the run – stopping the thing we do the best – and we absolutely manhandled them.  AND, on top of that, just to prove we’re not one dimensional, Russell Wilson went and threw for 339 yards and two touchdowns, for a rating of 122.9.

The Seahawks are riding a 5-game winning streak now.  Who saw this team at 6-4 and thought, “This is a team that’s going to be playing for a #1 seed in the NFC”?  Because, I’m not gonna lie to you, I sure as shit didn’t.  You know how there are trap games, where you might overlook a bad team you’re playing this week because you know you’re going to face a really tough team the next week?  It’s almost like the Seahawks had seven straight weeks of trap games – from Washington thru Kansas City – simply looking ahead to the 6-game stretch to close the season.  I don’t know what switch was flipped, but this is a VASTLY different team than it was in the first half.

Let’s kick off our kudos this week on offense for a change.  Luke Willson had three monster catches.  Two for touchdowns, one to convert a 2nd & 20.  139 yards overall, 80 of them on his long TD.  He’s had an up and down year this year to say the least, but when we needed him the most last night (especially with Kearse going down early with a hamstring), he didn’t have a drop.

Doug Baldwin had as quiet of a 7 catch, 113 yard game as I’ve ever seen, but we really had to lean on him more than ever with the aforementioned Kearse injury.  Hopefully he’s not out for too long.

To top off Wilson’s brilliant passing day, he also ran for 88 yards and a garbage touchdown, to bring his season rushing total to 842, which is 15th in the NFL at the moment, ahead of MANY players who only run the ball for a living and will never throw a pass in their careers.  I’m told 842 rushing yards for a quarterback is 5th most in NFL history, but I’m too lazy to go and confirm that myself.

Defensively, we had four sacks.  One apiece for Bennett, Hill, Schofield, and newcomer David King.  Jordan Hill’s sack particularly stands out because it was on a nice little stunt move where Bennett bull rushed to the middle of the line – occupying two blockers – while Hill ran around for the easy pancake.  Schofield’s was notable for how absolutely swift and fierce the hit was, while still being legal, which for last night was a bit of a problem.

Also bringing the pain, while not necessarily lighting up the stat sheet, we have Kam Chancellor, Cliff Avril, and Bruce Irvin.  They’re all so damn active and forcing opponents into making Business Decisions on a regular basis.

Richard Sherman not only got an interception – to give him 24 in his career, which is tied for the second-most in NFL history through the first four seasons in the league – but he got to outshine Patrick Peterson once again.  Before the game, there were stories about his chat with Bob Costas where Sherm got to clowning on him once again.  Then, fast forward to the game:  whenever they completed a pass on Sherman, it took the greatest throw combined with the greatest catch for it to be successful.  The Seahawks were able to throw pretty much at will on Peterson.  Sherman CAUGHT his INT; Peterson dropped his only chance.  Sherman was mixing it up in the run game, tackling guys at the line of scrimmage.  Peterson got posterized by Beastmode as he tried for the strip instead of the tackle, forever on the ass-end of one of the greatest runs in NFL history.  A run that will be replayed countless times throughout the year and through the end of time.

Best cornerback in the league?  You may say it’s not Richard Sherman, and you may be right (though, that wouldn’t be MY opinion); but one thing’s for certain:  the best cornerback is NOT Patrick Peterson.  Case closed, bitches.

Finally, you knew we’re closing with Beastmode.  Marshawn Lynch started the day with some sort of stomach virus and didn’t show up for much of the first quarter.  But, once he was finally able, he made the most of his touches:  10 carries, 113 yards, two touchdowns.  I’m putting that performance up there with Michael Jordan’s flu game in the Finals and there’s not a God damn thing you can do to stop me!  To not only play football with that kind of nausea, but to play it at the very highest level you can possibly play, with as physical as he does it?  I mean, are you kidding me?  When I’m that sick, I have to sit on the toilet with a bucket in my lap so I don’t shit my pants while I’m throwing up.

And now you know a little something more about me.  I’m pretty much the catch of the century, ladies …

Looking Ahead To YOUR 2014 Seattle Seahawks

This was me last year.  I predicted the Seahawks would go 13-3, take the #1 seed in the NFC, and beat the Broncos in the Super Bowl.  Last year’s NFL season was so easy to predict, I actually managed to correctly guess 2 of the Seahawks’ 3 losses (Indy & at SF, with my lone boner being the Atlanta game).  Of course, when you’re predicting the fortunes of a team this good, it’s hard to be wrong.  Just pick the Seahawks to win every game and you’re bound to be mostly right!

These Seahawks aren’t too different from the 2013 Seahawks.  Off the top of my head (so, forgive me if I forget a few), here are the players no longer on the roster, who had at least a minor impact on last year’s championship squad:

  • Golden Tate (#1 receiver)
  • Michael Robinson (fullback)
  • Paul McQuistan (guard/tackle)
  • Breno Giacomini (starting right tackle)
  • Kellen Davis (3rd tight end)
  • Sidney Rice (receiver)
  • Michael Bowie (guard/tackle depth)
  • Chris Clemons (starting LEO defensive end)
  • Red Bryant (starting 5-tech defensive end)
  • Brandon Browner (starting cornerback)
  • Walter Thurmond (nickel cornerback)
  • Clinton McDonald (backup defensive tackle)
  • Chris Maragos (backup safety)
  • Heath Farwell (IR) (backup linebacker)

On paper, that looks like a lot.  But, it’s pretty easy to spot which players were REALLY important to our success in 2013, and which players were sort of along for the ride.

Golden Tate is obviously the biggest blow.  He was our top receiver and punt returner.  He’s playing for Detroit now and should put up monster numbers while playing alongside Calvin Johnson.  His loss is mitigated somewhat by having a fully healthy Percy Harvin.  If Harvin can play all or the majority of games in 2014, it’s pretty easy to make the argument that our passing game (and offense as a whole) should actually IMPROVE.  Yes, Tate is a good player, but Harvin is on a completely different level of greatness.

Our offensive line depth took some big hits, and that’s going to be a concern.  No doubt about it.  I’d go out on a limb and say losing Paul McQuistan is addition by subtraction, though.  He’s getting up there in age and probably shouldn’t be an everyday starter going forward.  His best position is guard, but he was also our backup left tackle last year when Okung went down.  As a tackle, McQuistan is THE WORST.  So, not having him around to tempt the coaches into starting him when Okung ultimately gets hurt again is probably for the best.

Michael Bowie was always a depth guy last year, who got some serious playing time with all the injuries we suffered.  He was going to contend for the starting right tackle spot this year – and many had penciled him in as the favorite coming into Training Camp.  But, what no one expected was Bowie coming into camp overweight and/or out of shape, as well as injured.  He was ultimately released and the starting right tackle job has been given to rookie 2nd rounder Justin Britt.  In the long run, going with Britt now hopefully will prove to be the smart choice.  But, in the short term, we’re probably going to feel the sting of losing Giacomini.  I really liked him and thought he was solid when healthy.  But, again, you can’t afford to pay everyone, and you’ve got to get younger whenever possible to keep the roster fresh and vibrant (and to be able to afford expensive extensions to your stars).  I think by season’s end, Britt will have made us all forget about Giacomini’s reign of terror.  But, in the early going, it could be rough.

No one is worried about losing Sidney Rice, because he never really impacted this roster to the extent his contract would have dictated.  Jermaine Kearse is more than capable of picking up the slack.  Michael Robinson was on his last legs, plus fullback isn’t an important position.  Ditto the third tight end spot.  So, that rounds out the losses to our offense.

Defensively, our line took a big hit.  Clemons and Bryant were both starters and were both critical to stopping opposing offenses from running the ball.  McDonald was a pleasant surprise, capable of generating good pressure on the quarterback with our second unit.  Being able to interchange our linemen so frequently ultimately helped keep everyone fresh and healthy when it came time to make our playoff run.

In their place, Michael Bennett was extended; he’ll play a bigger role.  Cliff Avril will move into the starting LEO spot.  Kevin Williams was signed as a free agent.  In his prime, Williams was one of the best defensive tackles in the league.  He’s older now, but with reduced snaps – and playing alongside the elite talent we’ve got – he should prove to at least be as effective as McDonald.

Where we’re really going to be tested is in our depth.  Last year, our second-unit defensive line featured Bennett and Avril (it was truly an embarrassment of riches).  This year, they’re starting, and we’ve got to find replacements.  Cassius Marsh is a promising rookie out of the 4th round who can play on the end and on the inside.  But, he’s been dinged up quite a bit in the pre-season, so durability is in question.  Greg Scruggs is back and healthy this year, but he didn’t show a whole helluva lot in the pre-season.  It looks like he can play both outside & inside as well, but I don’t know if he’s any good at either.  O’Brien Schofield was one of the biggest surprises in camp, as he fought off Benson Mayowa for one of the final roster spots.  Schofield was on the team last year, but didn’t get a whole lot of playing time (and didn’t really deserve a whole lot of playing time, considering the talent around him).  He was signed away by the Giants in the offseason, but they ended up backing out of the deal, worried about possible injuries.  So, the Seahawks swooped in and re-signed him to a small number; he could be the steal of the off-season!  I have to imagine he’s the backup LEO behind Avril at this point, with the potential to join our NASCAR defense and play on the same line as Avril, Bennett, and either Marsh or Williams, with Irvin coming from the linebacker spot.

No, we’re not as deep as we were last year, but it could be close enough if Schofield shows up to play.

We have similar depth issues with our secondary as well.  We ultimately lost Browner and Thurmond for long stretches late in the season last year, but we found that Byron Maxwell was more than up to the task of being the starting cornerback opposite Richard Sherman.  Maxwell is back – on the last year of his deal – so we should be okay there.  But, again, the depth has taken a hit.

With Thurmond gone, Jeremy Lane steps up.  I like Lane and think he has the potential to be as good or better than Thurmond; but, right now Lane is injured, so that’s troubling.  Tharold Simon was a rookie last year and never played thanks to injuries.  He looks to be back and healthy now (though, like Lane, he’s suffering through some nagging something or other at the moment), and he also looks capable of being another in a long line of productive outside cornerbacks.  Where we’re light is in the nickel corner spot, which is why we recently traded for Marcus Burley for a 6th round pick in next year’s draft.  I know pretty much nothing about him, but apparently he had a pretty good camp this year.  And, apparently he’s pretty fast and super athletic.

I’m less inclined to worry about the secondary than the D-Line, because our starters are intact.  And our backup safeties are top-notch, with DeShawn Shead and Jeron Johnson.  Shead, especially, can play both the safety and corner spots, so in a pinch we can totally put Shead in the nickel and be fine.

With our linebackers healthy and peaking at the right time, we should be just fine on defense.  Yes, we lost Farwell – who was our special teams captain – but we picked up Brock Coyle, an undrafted rookie, who could be Farwell 2.0.

***

So, those were the primary changes between 2013 and 2014.  Next, we’ll look at what’s the same.

When I was younger, I would’ve taken the position that:  if you’ve got a championship team, just keep that team together for as long as possible.  Indeed, the 95/96 Supersonics were a championship-calibre team (they just ran into the buzz-saw that was the greatest team of all time, with those Jordan/Pippen/Rodman 72-win Chicago Bulls).  If the 96/97 Sonics wouldn’t have tinkered so much (like signing Jim McIlvaine to a monster contract), they could’ve made serious runs at a title for the next 2-3 years.  Same goes for the 1995 Mariners.  Just keep that team together and make some moderate improvements to the pitching staff.  DON’T trade Tino Martinez and Jeff Nelson to the fucking Yankees and hand them a million championships!

But, there’s one main difference between the NBA/MLB and the NFL:  keeping the team intact for too long will ultimately kill your franchise in football.  The shelf life for good-to-great baskeball and baseball players is WAY longer than it is in football.  In the NFL, if you’re approaching 30, you’re approaching retirement.  The ideal scenario in the NFL is to get young, coach those young players into being stars, and then constantly churn about 20% of your roster every year, where you’re shipping off the older players and infusing with young talent through the draft (or among the undrafted).

Could the Seahawks have retained Golden Tate, Chris Clemons, Red Bryant, and Breno Giacomini?  Yeah, I think I can envision a scenario where we make it all work for at least one more year.  But, then we wouldn’t have gotten the team-friendly extensions for Earl Thomas, Richard Sherman, Michael Bennett, and Doug Baldwin.  We wouldn’t be in a position to make Russell Wilson one of the highest-paid quarterbacks in the league next year.  Getting those guys done early (not counting Bennett, who was an unrestricted free agent at the time) is supremely important (as you can see by the subsequent cornerback deals for Patrick Peterson and the like, which were higher than what we ended up giving Sherman).

Yes, there were some losses to the roster.  There will always be losses to the roster.  Teams have to make important decisions each and every year.  Next year, we’re looking at the possibility of not having Marshawn Lynch, Zach Miller, James Carpenter, K.J. Wright, Malcolm Smith, and Cliff Avril around.  I would anticipate at least a few of those players WILL be here, but that’s life in the NFL.  You never know.

Most importantly to the Seahawks chances in 2014 will be who is still around.  This is still a MONSTER of a lineup:

  • Russell Wilson (QB)
  • Marshawn Lynch (RB)
  • Percy Harvin (WR)
  • Doug Baldwin (WR)
  • Jermaine Kearse (WR)
  • Zach Miller (TE)
  • Luke Willson (TE)
  • Robert Turbin (RB)
  • Christine Michael (RB)

And those are just the skill position players!  Our offensive line is 4/5 intact (and looking MUCH improved at the guard positions, with Carpenter in the “best shape of his life” and with Sweezy having bulked up while still retaining his athleticism).  And, we’ve got a couple rookie receivers who may not make much of an impact this season, but who should prove to be important for many years to come.

Then, on defense, you’re looking at:

  • Michael Bennett (DE/DT)
  • Cliff Avril (DE)
  • Brandon Mebane (NT)
  • Tony McDaniel (DT/DE)
  • Bobby Wagner (MLB)
  • K.J. Wright (OLB)
  • Bruce Irvin (OLB
  • Malcolm Smith (OLB)
  • Richard Sherman (CB)
  • Earl Thomas (FS)
  • Kam Chancellor (SS)
  • Byron Maxwell (CB)

I’d still put that defense up against any other defense in the NFL.  Depth will be an issue, but depth is an issue pretty much everywhere, every year.  This is still a Top 5 defense unless we just get absolutely crushed with injuries.

***

Now, it’s time for my favorite part of any preview post:  predicting the schedule results.

Week 1, vs. Green Bay, 5:30pm (Thursday Game)

I go back and forth on this one.  Like, 85% of me believes this will be a comfortable Seahawks victory.  14% of me believes this will be a nailbiter of a Seahawks victory.  And, that last 1% seems to think that Green Bay can come in here, withstand all the craziness, and pull off a huge upset.

Are you kidding?  A week’s worth of build-up.  The city shutting down large areas of SoDo and Pioneer Square.  A pre-game concert.  THE UNVEILING OF THE CHAMPIONSHIP BANNER!  All of that alone would be enough to have the loudest 12th Man presence in the history of the world, but I expect there to be a hidden edge to this game.  The NFL cursed us with this game being the only home game played at night.  They’d have you believe that’s just the way it shook out, but I’m CONVINCED it’s because we keep crushing our opponents whenever we have a night game at home, and they’re tired of televising blowouts.  With this being our only chance to shine on a national stage (unless we somehow have one of our late-season games flexed), I think the 12th Man is going to take it to another level.  Look for this to be somewhere in the range of 38-17, Seahawks.

Week 2, at San Diego, 1:05pm

The schedule this year will be famous for the difficult first three games and the difficult final five games.  This has “Trap Game” written all over it.  Hangover from our season-opening win, combined with a rematch of the Super Bowl NEXT week back at home.  Considering the Chargers should be plenty good this year, I’m not calling this one a walk-over by any stretch.  In fact, I could see this being pretty high-scoring.  In the end, I think the Seahawks are able to do just enough to pull out a 33-30 victory.

Week 3, vs. Denver, 1:25pm

No chance.  No way, no how we lose this game.  I do think we’re looking at a closer contest, but that’s only because I think the Broncos’ defense has improved enough to warrant it.  Losing Wes Welker to suspension certainly hurts the Broncos.  Indeed, I think they’ll try to lean on their running game like they did in the pre-season.  How our defense responds will be key.  The Seahawks still win, but we’re looking at a 24-20 type game.

Week 4 – BYE

Bullshit.  Complete and utter bullshit.  I would’ve rather had the alternate NFL schedule that put the Seahawks on the road for three straight weeks over having a BYE in September.  For the record, NO team should have a BYE week in September.  They should all be clustered in late October and early November, to make it fair for everyone.  Either that, or break down and give every team two BYE weeks per year, because this shit is ridiculous.

Week 5, at Washington, 5:30pm (Monday Night)

If the NFL didn’t want to televise blowout Seahawks victories, they probably shouldn’t have put this game on the schedule.  Indeed, there appears to be a lot of dogs when it comes to the Monday Night slate this year; don’t know how that worked itself out, but I’d be pissed if I ran ESPN.  The Redskins don’t have a defense that can anywhere REMOTELY hang with our speed.  44-10, Seahawks victory.

Week 6, vs. Dallas, 1:25pm

This game is my wet dream.  A pass-first offense without a bona fide slot receiver and a shaky quarterback who takes too many chances?  If Richard Sherman doesn’t get his hands on at least 8 balls (interceptions, tips, etc.), I’ll be shocked.  35-17 Seahawks (and that’s only because it’s going to be 28-3 at halftime and we end up running out the clock in the second half; we could probably drop 50 on them if we tried for the full game).

Week 7, at St. Louis, 10am

The League did do us one favor with the schedule:  we’ve only got three 10am starts this year.  This is the first one.  No Sam Bradford, no win for the Rams.  Last year, we were lucky to come away from this game with a victory, needing a last-second goalline stop to preserve it.  This year, I’m expecting more of an easier go.  We’re not going to be perfect; they do still have a solid defensive line.  But, 27-13 is in order.

Week 8, at Carolina, 10am

Back to back road games starting at 10am Pacific time.  I’m already on record as saying that I think Carolina is going to struggle mightily this year.  But, this is still a road game on the East Coast, so a victory won’t come easy.  I’m looking at something like 19-9, with a LOT of field goals.  Seahawks improve to 7-0.

Week 9, vs. Oakland, 1:25pm

I like catching Oakland here.  Derek Carr will have had some bumps in the road by now, so his confidence will likely be shaken.  Their veterans on defense will be wearing down and/or injured by this point.  I’m expecting an easy victory, if maybe a sloppy one.  Still, we should take it going way, 27-6.

Week 10, vs. NY Giants, 1:25pm

Give me Eli, give me a nothing defense, and give me no weapons on offense.  Is it possible to shut out a team in back-to-back years?  I think so!  44-0, Seahawks.

Week 11, at Kansas City, 10am

Final morning game.  Kansas City is sure to come back to Earth this year, as their defense is worse and they still did nothing to improve the offense around Jamaal Charles.  Nevertheless, I got a feeling this one will be closer.  I’m looking at a 34-28 victory for the Seahawks.

Week 12, vs. Arizona, 1:05pm

There will be no repeat of last year’s fluke Cardinals victory in Seattle.  The defense is remarkably worse and Carson Palmer is remarkably a year older.  I’m sensing a 33-7 Seahawks victory.

Week 13, at San Francisco, 5:30pm (Thanksgiving)

The Seahawks will be the talk of the nation coming into this game, as their 11-0 record is the best in football.  However, their relatively tame schedule to this point (highlighted by poor seasons out of the teams they’ve played in recent weeks) will give pundits cause for concern:  is this team really as good as their record?

It will be at this point that I will give just about anything to steal a win in Santa Clara.  EVERY YEAR I keep thinking:  this will be the time.  And every year, the 49ers end up finding a way to pull it out.  I can’t remember the last time we won down there, but I’m sure it was the best day of my life.

Unfortunately, this year will be no different (prove me wrong, Seahawks!), as the underwhelming 49ers find a way to pull it out.  I’m thinking 28-24, Seahawks lose to go to 11-1.

Week 14, at Philadelphia, 1:25pm

Many pundits are eyeballing this as a defeat for the Seahawks.  The Eagles were pretty good last year; their offense is and was on point.  Could be looking at another Trap Game, as this one is sandwiched between the two games against the 49ers on our regular season schedule.

I don’t see it, though.  I think the Seahawks’ offense is the story of this game.  I’m looking at something around 44-34, Seahawks win.

Week 15, vs. San Francisco, 1:25pm

And here is the game where we kill the 49ers, like we do every time they come to town.  Nothing fancy, just making Kaepernick our bitch.  31-13, Seahawks.

Week 16, at Arizona, 5:30pm (Sunday Night)

By this point, I’m expecting to see the Cardinals in full give-up mode.  Carson Palmer will be either benched or injured, and their backup will be some lame-ass.  Their defense will still be terrible and the Seahawks will roll, 38-10.

Week 17, vs. St. Louis, 1:25pm

At this point, we’ll be 14-1 and we will have wrapped up home field advantage.  So, it’ll come down to a couple things:  how long will our starters play in this game, and how well will our backups hold the fort?

For the record, I DO think our starters will get at least some play.  My guess is, anywhere from 1 to 2 quarters.  Yes, Seahawks fans will lose their God damn minds (as, again, the Rams have the best defensive line in football, and the last thing we need is for Russell Wilson to take unnecessary hits).  I don’t think we’ll be necessarily all that sharp though.

In the end, the backups come in and they’ll get pushed around a little bit.  The Rams will make a late-game comeback, and the Seahawks will lose.  Something like 24-17.

The Seahawks will be 14-2, and in spite of the final-week defeat, will be on fire as a football team heading into the playoffs.  I think ultimately the schedule will prove to be easier than last year’s, as a lot of the teams we THINK will be good are ultimately not.  I think the 49ers start to decline, even though they’ve got enough talent to still be pretty okay.  In the end, I think the Seahawks are just too good.  They’re too talented, they’re strong at every position group, and they’ll have enough depth to push through and overcome any injuries in their way (except for the quarterback position, of course).

Yes, repeating as world champions is one of the most difficult things to do.  Hell, just winning ONE championship is one of the most difficult things to do!  But, we’re in a once-in-a-lifetime window here where the Seahawks are the best team in football.  Now, it’s time to go out and show the world just how great we truly are.

#2 – Michael Bennett

To see the full list of the Top 10 Most Important Seahawks in 2014, click here.

Sounds a little silly, doesn’t it?  Michael Bennett isn’t even the best player on his side of the ball – let alone the best player at his position in the NFL, compared to a couple other guys ranked lower on my list – but he’s #2 on the Most Important Seahawks of 2014 list.  And so, here we are.

The Seahawks definitely took a chance in re-signing Bennett in this offseason to a 4-year deal.  He was a priority, to be sure, but when you looked at our cap situation at the time – figuring there were guys in Thomas, Sherman, and Wilson (among others) who would be due to get big raises – the writing was on the wall for some of our other starters and depth guys.  What it eventually boiled down to was the Seahawks losing Red Bryant and Chris Clemons.  He’s going to have to go out there and – with another guy, making the minimum (Marsh perhaps, as a backup to Avril who will start at LEO?) – replace two starting defensive linemen who were productive members of our championship team.

But, really, it doesn’t stop there.  His contract also meant the end of guys like Clinton McDonald and Walter Thurmond.  We could have EASILY re-signed those guys to cap-friendly deals, while maybe also hanging onto guys like Bryant and Clemons for another year.  Thurmond wasn’t a starter, but he would’ve slid right back into our slot-corner role.  And McDonald wasn’t a starter either, but he was a fabulous rotation guy at D-Tackle.  So, you could argue that Bennett is really replacing FOUR guys on our defense.

Obviously, that’s not fair, because we have other, younger guys who will make this team and try to pick up some of the slack, but you can see in the decision-making that this franchise feels Michael Bennett IS that important to our success.

Technically, Bennett is going to take over the starting end spot vacated by Red Bryant.  The 5-tech.  He’ll have to set the edge against the run in our base defense, which is his added responsibility.  He often played at that side of the line last year in passing downs, so you figure his percentage of snaps will go up dramatically.  How dramatically obviously depends on who around him manages to step up and inserts themselves into that rotation.  Someone like O’Brien Schofield – if he keeps playing lights out like he has in these first three pre-season games – could insert himself into that LEO end spot (vacated by Clemons), which would push Avril down to his more-comfortable 5-tech end spot on passing downs, thus pushing Bennett inside to mash against the guards of the league.

Michael Bennett’s value is obviously in his versatility.  He can play both end spots as well as inside and get good push from everywhere.  That’s huge.  These guys don’t grow on trees, so when you find one – like we have with Bennett – you do just about whatever it takes to keep him on your roster.  With him and Avril and Schofield and Mebane/Williams, our pass rush shouldn’t suffer whatsoever from where it was last year.  Remember, this wasn’t the best pass rush in the league; the Seahawks tied for 8th in sacks.  But, of course, you can’t quantify a pass rush’s effectiveness exclusively on sacks.  This line got in the quarterback’s face with regularity, forcing quarterbacks to throw early or change their arm angles.  If we can be AS effective as we were last year, I’d be a VERY happy man.

The key will be the run defense.  With the loss of Bryant, this line got a lot smaller against the run.  Granted, we theoretically CAN run out a jumbo package – with Mebane and Williams on the inside and McDaniel at the 5-tech – but Bennett is your starting end and he’s going to get the majority of snaps on this line.  He’s going to need to prove his mettle at holding that side of the line down and pushing the running back inside.  From what I’ve read, Bennett is no slouch in this regard, so hopefully we won’t miss a beat.

It’s unfair to project numbers on him, so I’ll refrain.  I just want to see him healthy and wreaking havoc as always.  He did, after all, contribute to a reduction of our depth, so obviously we’re going to need to lean on him a little more than others along this line.  If he just does his thing, we should be fine.  And, as a result, his presence opens up opportunities for younger guys to come in here and make an impact.

In the short term, re-signing Bennett may make it tougher on this defensive line to play at a high level.  But, in the long run, getting younger – swapping out Bryant and Clemons for guys like Marsh and Hill and whoever else manages to make this team – will be a boon to our continued success as we push to make this a dynasty NFL fans won’t soon forget.

Seahawks Trample Chargers In Second Pre-Season Game

For starters, the offensive line looked MUCH better, especially running the ball, as the Seahawks piled up 243 yards on 37 carries.  Granted, 99 of that was from the quarterback position, but still, they were consistently producing wide-open holes for everyone to run through.  You can see it clear as day that James Carpenter is a completely different animal out there.  He came into camp in excellent shape, which I feel a lot of people are attributing to his being in a contract year.  But, what gets glossed over is the fact that this is the first off-season where he’s been predominantly healthy.  Instead of rehabbing a knee or something, he’s had a chance to get his body right and it looks like he’s readying a big step forward.  The question with him will always be:  can he STAY healthy?  But, as long as he does, this offensive line is going to benefit quite a bit.

J.R. Sweezy also looks like he’s going to take another step forward.  He might have been the best player on the field on Friday as he was punishing fools.  Okung and Unger were still out, as a precaution, but we didn’t appear to suffer for it.  This unit will only get that much better in the regular season when they’re ready to go.  Lastly, Justin Britt appeared to improve, but it was by no means a perfect night for him.  It’ll be interesting to see if he can continue this upward trajectory in the next couple games.

Russell Wilson was legit in control of this game from the get-go.  He was nearly flawless in his decision-making and execution.

Marshawn Lynch started, but hardly played, and didn’t get a carry.  Robert Turbin more than picked up the slack, as he looked like a beast with that stiff-arm on his 47-yard rumble.  The Seahawks might have to worry about depth at certain positions, but running back appears to be hands down the deepest spot on this team.

Percy Harvin gave us yet another glimpse into how this offense is going to function with him on the field.  He caught 4 passes for 31 yards, but he was also single-handedly responsible for Zach Miller being WIDE OPEN down the middle of the field for his 37 yard catch down to the goalline.  The safety was clearly cheating to Harvin’s side as he lined up out wide, and that was all Miller needed as he ran past the linebackers in the middle for nothing but green grass ahead.

Defensively, the first unit looked good, as San Diego didn’t end up scoring until late in the second quarter, after the Seahawks had already raced out to a 24-0 lead.  Hard to say how much of that was us being in sync (in spite of a number of starters not suiting up, including Bennett, Wagner, Smith, and Chancellor), or how much of it was Rivers only playing a single series.  San Diego certainly didn’t put a lot into this game, compared to the Seahawks who saw Russell Wilson playing late into the second quarter, running a hurry-up style offense that led to a touchdown with four minutes to go.

O’Brien Schofield looked particularly dominating as he battles Benson Mayowa for the final defensive end spot.  Going into the pre-season, you had to give Mayowa the advantage, considering he’s got more team control, while Schofield is on a 1-year deal.  However, it’s pretty apparent in the early going that Schofield is the better player right now, and looks to be someone who could make an impact in a rotation with Avril and Co.

Tharold Simon had a 105-yard interception return for a touchdown called back due to a bogus illegal contact penalty.  The refs are REALLY going to need to pull their heads out of their asses when the regular season starts.  Otherwise, you’re going to see nothing but wide receivers running right into defenders and getting these lame-ass calls on every play.

Hard to say if we learned much more about this team or the upcoming season in this game.  We’ll play San Diego again in week two on the road, and that will certainly be a different game.  Still, the Seahawks are going to be absolutely unstoppable at home this year, you can take that to the bank.  Also, against any teams that might not be so good – I’m looking at you, Oakland, New York, Dallas, and probably Washington – we should expect routs just like this.

Next week, we play against Chicago, again at CenturyLink.  I’ll be gone, camping with the family, but I would expect more of the same in that game as well:  a dominating Seahawks romp.

Filling The Gaps On The Seahawks’ Roster

For starters, this isn’t going to be the most comprehensive thing you’ve ever read in your lives.  I’m not getting into the 90-man roster so much as the 53-ish man roster.

When I list the “2013 Roster”, I’m talking about the 53-man roster we had for the Super Bowl, with a small handful of extras tacked on who made a somewhat big impact in the 2013 season.  That having been said, let’s take a look at where we are and where we were.

I more-or-less already got into this subject a few weeks ago, but I thought I’d make it a little more visual-friendly (for my own sake, if nothing else).  In essence, this is another call to Seahawks fans out there that this offseason hasn’t been as devastating as it seems.

2013 2014
Def Line Michael Bennett Michael Bennett
Cliff Avril Cliff Avril
Brandon Mebane Brandon Mebane
Chris Clemons
Red Bryant (Jesse Williams)
Tony McDaniel Tony McDaniel
Clinton McDonald (Greg Scruggs)
O’Brien Schofield
Jordan Hill Jordan Hill
Benson Mayowa Benson Mayowa

As you can see, there aren’t a crazy amount of holes here.  Red Bryant’s spot will most likely be filled by Michael Bennett, with a little help coming from Jesse Williams (if he’s recovered from his IR stint as a rookie in 2013), Greg Scruggs (who also found himself on the IR, though has bulked up considerably in anticipation of his return to the playing field), or a rookie/someone from off the scrap heap.  I’m not TOO worried about replacing Red Bryant, because I believe Michael Bennett is a capable run defender, and other big bodies aren’t all that difficult to come by.

Also, I would anticipate Jordan Hill to improve and earn MUCH more playing time in 2014.  He saw almost no action as a rookie in 2013, but with these holes in the line (specifically the Clinton McDonald-sized hole in our D-Tackle rotation), I expect Hill to pick up the slack admirably.

The real thing to worry about is finding that third pass rusher.  I’m not so worried about the O’Brien Schofield spot, as that could be literally anybody at this point.  But, who will replace Chris Clemons?  That’s the most important question of the off-season, if you ask me.  We carried Benson Mayowa for the entirety of 2013; you’d have to think he’s learned all he could and is ready to apply that knowledge.  Mayowa had an impressive pre-season last year; let’s hope he carries that over.  If not, I fully expect the Seahawks to hit the draft for a pass rusher, as well as hit HARD the free agent scrap heap as the season approaches and teams have to cut their rosters down to 53.

2013 2014
Linebackers Bobby Wagner Bobby Wagner
K.J. Wright K.J. Wright
Bruce Irvin Bruce Irvin
Malcolm Smith Malcolm Smith
Heath Farwell Heath Farwell
Mike Morgan Mike Morgan

As you can see, we’ve got everybody back from this position group.  That doesn’t necessarily mean we’re going to keep it EXACTLY the same.  My hunch is:  the top four guys come back, and the team pushes HARD for the final two spots to be rookies, or otherwise cheaper replacements.  Maybe not so much Mike Morgan, but certainly Farwell, whose cap number is around $1.67 Million.  For a guy who only plays special teams (albeit, really fucking well), that’s kind of a high number.  And, aside from that, you gotta figure this team will want to groom at least one future starter at this position, as it won’t be able to pay Wagner, Wright, AND Smith the type of money they’d command on an open market.  I don’t see Farwell or Morgan as a starter type, so their jobs are probably in jeopardy.

2013 2014
Secondary Earl Thomas Earl Thomas
Kam Chancellor Kam Chancellor
Richard Sherman Richard Sherman
Byron Maxwell Byron Maxwell
Brandon Browner (Tharold Simon)
Walter Thurmond (Phillip Adams)
Jeremy Lane Jeremy Lane
Chris Maragos
DeShawn Shead DeShawn Shead
Jeron Johnson Jeron Johnson

As you can see, there aren’t any holes where it counts!  The Legion of Boom (Byron Maxwell Edition) is entirely intact.  We lost Browner, but we lost Browner last year too.  We also lost Thurmond, but you figure that Jeremy Lane (who returns) is still here and did just as well, in my book anyway.  Tharold Simon was a draft pick last year who spent 2013 on the IR.  He COULD be a Browner replacement/depth guy, but that all depends on how seriously he takes his job and how much he’s grown as a player since his lost rookie season.  I’d expect the team to look to the draft for one or two secondary guys.  We lost reserve safety (and special teams whiz) Chris Maragos, but DeShawn Shead and Jeron Johnson both return.  Phillip Adams was also re-signed by the Seahawks this offseason, so at least for 2014 we’ve got another experienced body to play on the inside.

2013 2014
Quarterbacks Russell Wilson Russell Wilson
Tarvaris Jackson Tarvaris Jackson
Terrelle Pryor

As you can see, we’re solid at quarterback.

2013 2014
Kicker Steven Hauschka Steven Hauschka
Punter Jon Ryan Jon Ryan
Long Snapper Clint Gresham Clint Gresham

As you can see, we’re solid at kicker, punter, and long snapper.

2013 2014
Receivers Percy Harvin Percy Harvin
Golden Tate
Doug Baldwin Doug Baldwin
Jermaine Kearse Jermaine Kearse
Sidney Rice Sidney Rice
Ricardo Lockette Ricardo Lockette
Bryan Walters Bryan Walters

As you can see, we’ve got just a Golden Tate-sized hole in our receivers unit.  Of course, one could argue that since Harvin only appeared in three games last year, it’s kinda like we replaced Tate with Harvin going into 2014.  Nevertheless, I fully expect a wide receiver to be drafted (and probably pretty high), and I expect a fierce battle among the undrafted free agents and other younger guys already on this roster.  In short, I expect Lockette and Walters to be replaced by two guys not even on our radar right now.  Also, I don’t expect this team to hold onto seven receivers, so disregard the table in that respect.

2013 2014
Backs Marshawn Lynch Marshawn Lynch
Robert Turbin Robert Turbin
Christine Michael Christine Michael
Michael Robinson
Derrick Coleman Derrick Coleman
Spencer Ware Spencer Ware

As you can see, our running backs are intact.  Michael Robinson is always an option, but probably won’t make the opening day roster unless there are some injuries we’re dealing with.  Expect Lynch, Turbin, Michael, & Coleman to be locks to make the roster.  Ware will probably have to win a job (doesn’t help his cause that he had that DUI last year).  There’s maybe an outside chance that the team trades Turbin for a low-end draft pick, but that’s only if the team is confident in Michael’s ability to block for the quarterback.

2013 2014
Tight Ends Zach Miller Zach Miller
Luke Willson Luke Willson
Kellen Davis (Anthony McCoy)

As you can see, we’re good at tight end.  Anthony McCoy re-signed after being on IR all of last year.  If he’s healthy, he’s a pretty sure bet to be this team’s third tight end and REALLY give us some versatility.  McCoy is probably a better blocking tight end than Willson, and he’ll give us some better hands in the passing game than Kellen Davis.

2013 2014
Off Line Max Unger Max Unger
Russell Okung Russell Okung
J.R. Sweezy J.R. Sweezy
Breno Giacomini
James Carpenter James Carpenter
Paul McQuistan
Lemuel Jeanpierre Lemuel Jeanpierre
Michael Bowie Michael Bowie
Alvin Bailey Alvin Bailey
Caylin Hauptmann Caylin Hauptmann

As you can see, just a tiny bit of work to do along the offensive line.  Max Unger, Russell Okung, and J.R. Sweezy have all locked down their respective spots (Center, Left Tackle, Right Guard).  Left guard is still up for grabs, but James Carpenter probably has the early lead in that battle.  Right tackle will be brand new, and maybe Michael Bowie or Alvin Bailey wins that job.  Maybe one of them wins the left guard job.  Maybe this Caylin Hauptmann guy who was on the roster for most (if not all) of 2013 will shock the world and steal a spot somewhere.  Regardless, I like our line, and I like our depth.  By my count, I’ve got 6-7 guys in that roster who can start for me and not give me any gray hairs

So, when you look at it, there’s not a lot of places where we have to plug guys in.  Depth might be a little bit of an issue, but that’s what’s going to make this training camp and pre-season so interesting.  Who’s going to fill out in the back-end of the secondary and offensive line?  Who’s going to assume that third pass-rusher role?  With new, bigtime deals for Sherman and Thomas (presumably), one would figure that their roles in special teams will go away; who picks up that slack?

I’ve got, in my head, somewhere around 44-46 players listed above who are locks to make this team (and another handful that are on the bubble).  That means there could be upwards of 7-9 guys on the 2014 opening-day 53-man roster that we’ve never heard of!  On a Super Bowl champion, no less!

Again, these are merely depth positions, but who knows?  You could be talking about the next stars on this team starting with 2015 and beyond.

It’s exciting to be a Seahawks fan right now.  It helps that we’re coming off of a championship, but still.

Seahawks Re-Sign Tony McDaniel & Tarvaris Jackson

This week was the 25th anniversary of the idea of the World Wide Web.  I’ve had my grubby little fingers digging into the fringes of the Internet in one form or another for the last 16 years – starting with high school where I created a local sports report in our Intro To HTML class.  16 years later, and here I am, with a marginally bigger following and my same low standards of quality.  Progress!

After a couple weeks of relative inactivity, this is my fourth straight day with a post and seventh straight weekday with a post.  Luckily for me, we’ve had news to talk about, so I haven’t been reduced to making a bunch of lists and shit (just wait until next week, when we’ve run out of news and I’ve run out of shit to say …).  In today’s case, we have yesterday’s signing of Tony McDaniel and today’s signing of Tarvaris Jackson.

Tony McDaniel isn’t Clinton McDonald, and yet they’re KINDA making the same amount of money per year.  I suppose the Seahawks could cut McDaniel after this season and not take too big of a hit, but still.  You could say they’re different types of players – McDaniel is more of a run-stuffer, whereas McDonald is more of an interior pass-rusher – but when I try to wrap my brain around it, I just don’t get it.  Seems to me you can find a run-stuffing D-Tackle just about anywhere for peanuts.  But, finding a young, up-and-coming interior pass rusher for $3 million a year seems to me like a real bargain!

Don’t get me wrong, I like Tony McDaniel and everything, but I just get the feeling that he’s a major knee injury waiting to happen.  I guess he’s only 29 years old, which isn’t as ancient as I had assumed before Googling him just now, but golly gee whiz!

There were times last year where McDaniel looked like a beast among men, but he’s not the type of guy who’s going to take over a game for you or anything.  At this point, I mainly like the signing because it helps preserve SOME semblance of continuity along the defensive line.  Everyone always says how important it is to have continuity along the offensive line, but I’m willing to wager that it’s just as important for the defense.  We’ve lost Clemons, Bryant, & McDonald, but we retained McDaniel, Mebane, & Bennett.  It’s not nothing, that’s all I’ll say.

The other moderately interesting signing is Tarvaris Jackson, back on a 1-year deal that appears to be mostly guaranteed salary.  He’s still earning more than our starting quarterback, which is some hilarious joke I’ll never understand, but that’s neither here nor there.

One would assume you could just Sharpie his name in there as the #2 quarterback on this team, even though B.J. Daniels is still a guy who exists.  At some point, you have to wonder when the Seahawks are going to look to draft a long-term backup to sit and learn from Russell Wilson until it’s time to try and trade him for a draft pick or two.  But, as long as you can still get Tarvar for a reasonable contract, I suppose you might as well keep on keeping on.

Can’t hate this move.  Backup quarterback is a pretty important position in this league, and the fact of the matter is:  there aren’t that many good backup quarterbacks out there.  The better backup quarterbacks eventually establish themselves as starters and move on to greener pastures.  The best backup quarterbacks quickly establish themselves as starters and force the team to push out their predecessors.

Tarvaris Jackson isn’t really a quality starter.  He’s proven that he’s not a guy who’s going to lead an average team into the playoffs.  But, he can get you close.  And, for this Seahawks team, his level of play would probably be enough to get us there.  I don’t think he could win it all.  I wouldn’t want to see how he fares against the best the NFC has to offer, because I think it’s a lock that we’d end up losing in short order.  But, if the Seahawks have to rely on him for 4-8 weeks in the regular season, I don’t think we’d entirely fall apart.  I think, if you gave Tarvar eight starts this year for the Seahawks, he’d probably go 5-3 or 6-2 and keep us right in line for a playoff spot and probably a division title.  If for some unlucky reason, he had to play all 16 games for us (all other things being equal), I’d still peg the Seahawks for a 10-6 record and a Wild Card spot.  Can’t ask for much more than that out of your backup.  At that point, we’d have to hope for a 1990 New York Giants type of situation where our defense is just so dominant as to render all other teams totally ineffective, thereby allowing someone like Jeff Hostetler to sneak through as an unlikely Lombardi Trophy winner.

On a semi-unrelated note, whenever anyone writes about Tarvar, they always write about how he is “beloved” by the fans, because he played through a torn pec in 2011 and played well enough to go almost-.500 (7-8 was his official record as a starter that year).  Am I crazy, or is that a crock of shit cooked up by the media and passed along by fellow bloggers as fact?

I couldn’t stand that he was signed, I couldn’t stand that he was simply given the keys to the offense without a proper competition, and I couldn’t stand watching him week-in and week-out.  Has EVERYONE lost their fucking minds?  Do you not recall how – down after down – he would hold onto the ball way too fucking long before taking an unnecessary hit or sack because he was too indecisive to just grip it & rip it (and too stubborn to simply throw the fucking ball away when nothing was there)?  Yes, he played with a torn pec, but how do we know that it wasn’t due to his own doing?  Tarvaris “Stands There For Seven Seconds” Jackson probably held the ball too long when he should have just thrown it away, thereby taking the punishment that caused his pec to separate from his skeleton.

Granted, that offensive line wasn’t what it is today (and, let’s be honest, today’s offensive line isn’t the best of the best anyway), but he knew that!  And he still held onto the ball too much!

I appreciate the fact that Tarvar led us to some wins that probably should have been losses, but I don’t think that had anything to do with Tarvar’s abilities at quarterback and everything to do with the rest of the team coming together around him.  I also appreciate that he’s a good guy in the locker room and it’s good to have a veteran to pair with Russell Wilson (even though, as a rookie, Wilson showed more veteran-esque tendencies than a vast majority of QBs in the league).  But, let’s not start sugar-coating that 2011 season as anything other than a bridge between the Bad Seahawks of yore and the Good Seahawks that would go on to win the Super Bowl.  2011 was a stepping stone for the rest of the team, but it was also the season that proved – without a shadow of a doubt – that Tarvaris Jackson is a backup quarterback and nothing more.  It’s no coincidence that this team finally became a championship contender when we found Russell Wilson to lead this team at its most important position.

In other news, another Seahawks starter has found a new team.  We won’t have Breno Giacomini to kick around anymore, as he signed on with the Jets (whose GM used to work for the Seahawks under John Schneider) for a good chunk of money.  Again, like Golden Tate, we’re talking about a very likable guy who was an important piece in our rebuilding and our championship.  But, he was also a guy you could afford to lose (or, at least, ill-afford to retain at the price he commanded on the open market).  Even though I don’t care for the Jets so much, it’s nice to see that he’s going to get paid and have some security going forward.  You could do a lot worse.

As for his replacement, I fully expect an open competition between Alvin Bailey and Michael Bowie (and probably some rookies we’ve yet to meet).  I also fully expect whoever wins that battle to be competent enough to keep us at an equal level as we’ve been the last two years (with a real possibility of the winner being BETTER than Giacomini).  The Seahawks worked both of these guys into the rotation last year, and that looks to be paying off in spades now that we have an opening (or two) along the offensive line for 2014.

Bank on Okung, Unger, and Sweezy to maintain their positions.  That leaves left guard and right tackle for Bailey, Bowie, Carpenter, and a bevy of rookies, other young guys, and maybe a cheap veteran or two picked up off the street once we get closer to the preseason.

Also, Chris Clemons ended up in Jacksonville with Red Bryant and maybe Walter Thurmond (who is taking some other visits as we speak).  I’m telling you, I like those wacky Jags right now!  Pick up some expendable Seahawks, lose the worst quarterback in football in Blaine Gabbert, and badda-bing/badda-boom, you’re at least in the hunt for a .500 record and maybe a playoff spot!

Here’s the tally of movers and shakers:

Seahawks keep:  Michael Bennett, Anthony McCoy, Tony McDaniel, Tarvaris Jackson, Jeron Johnson, and Lemuel Jeanpierre.  Seahawks also tendered Doug Baldwin, who is expected by most to be back.

Seahawks lose:  Red Bryant, Golden Tate, Chris Clemons, Clinton McDonald, Chris Maragos, O’Brien Schofield (though, his contract with the Giants was voided for “health reasons” and now he might have to take less money there or somewhere else).

Seahawks Re-Sign Anthony McCoy, Lose Defensive Depth

Hot n’ heavy!  The free agency period has begun for 2014 and the players are FLYING OFF THE BOARD!!!

For starters, Anthony McCoy – who was injured all of last year after tearing an Achilles in the off-season while training – has re-upped with the Seahawks.  I don’t know the exacts of the deal, but it’s looking like a 1-year thing for a pretty low wage.  Either he fights for back-up reps behind Zach Miller, or he fights for starter reps if the Seahawks end up releasing Zach Miller.  If Anthony McCoy is our 2nd or 3rd tight end, this is a huge upgrade over Kellen Davis.  If he ends up being our top guy, something has gone seriously wrong.

I’m for this.  I still think the Seahawks should go after another tight end in the draft – because Zach Miller won’t be around forever – but you can’t have enough depth at tight end.

On to the losses, the first ex-Seahawks defender I heard about today was Clinton McDonald, who signed a 4-year deal (at $3 million per) with the Tampa Bay Bucs.  I find it hard to believe we couldn’t scrape together $3 million for a guy who could eventually replace Brandon Mebane, but what are you gonna do?

Next up:  O’Brien Schofield, with a 2-year, $8 million deal with the Giants.  Wow.  He’s a guy we picked up on waivers last year for pretty much nothing, he didn’t play a whole lot of important downs for this defense, and now he’s getting some serious coin.  The benefits of playing on a Super Bowl winning team.  Let that be a lesson to some of those other guys out there who feel underappreciated:  come to Seattle and let your stock skyrocket!

And now, down to the minute, I’m hearing that the Jags have signed Walter Thurmond (after recently signing Red Bryant).  LOVE THIS!  Love the Jags!  Not as much as the Seahawks, obvs, but it’s going to be fun to watch that team improve by leaps & bounds over the next season or two and be able to point to all the ex-Seahawks making shit happen!  I always liked Thurmond and thought it was too bad that he couldn’t stay healthier.  I also thought it was too bad he couldn’t stop smoking weed long enough to avoid that 4-game suspension.  Here’s to hoping he gets his shit together and has a Pro Bowl career.  Uhh, might be a bit premature on this Thurmond thing.  But, suffice it to say, he won’t be a Seahawk going forward.

Losing McDonald hurts, because it looks like he has a serious future.  Maybe not a Pro Bowl type, but then again, Mebane hasn’t been to the Pro Bowl and I’ll take his career out of a defensive tackle every chance I get.  Losing Schofield and Thurmond hurt less because, with Schofield, he wasn’t really an impact player.  And, with Thurmond, you kinda knew we weren’t going to be able to extend him when we’ve got other guys in the secondary to extend (and considering we’ve got Lane and Maxwell to start for us in the interim).

Now, a few minutes to proofread for spelling & grammar …

Now, one last check of Twitter …

Holy shit, Jermichael Finley is going to visit Seattle first …

Check Twitter again …

aaaannnnnddddd POST!