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.

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.

Missing On Justin Britt Would Be A Drastic Mistake For Seahawks

It’s obviously way too early to make a determination on the Seahawks’ 2014 draft class.  If you want my prediction on some guys, I think Paul Richardson will be a quality starter if he can stay healthy.  I think Kevin Norwood will be one of the all-time great Seahawks if this foot thing doesn’t linger his whole career.  I think Cassius Marsh just might be the steal of the draft and a dominant force for years to come on the defensive line.  I think everyone else is really up in the air at this point.  If some of these other back-end guys – like KPL, Pinkins, and Staten, who are all pretty much projects at this point and won’t see a lot of time (if any) on defense this year – end up panning out, that’s gravy.  When you toss in undrafted guys – like Brock Coyle, who figures to certainly make the team and replace Heath Farwell; Garry Gilliam, who has an outside shot to make the 53-man roster along the offensive line; Jackson Jeffcoat, who has elite athleticism, but is struggling to adjust to a switch from end to linebacker – this overall 2014 rookie class should be one of the good ones, as usual.

But, I think this class really hinges on second rounder Justin Britt.

There’s no doubt that the Seahawks had a need along the offensive line when they were coming into this draft.  We lost two pretty prominent guys in Paul McQuistan and Breno Giacomini, two guys who started A LOT of games for us the last couple seasons.  Yes, we had a few leftovers from last year who we figured could slide in at the left guard and right tackle positions if need be, but our depth would be shredded.  We NEEDED to pick up a guy or two in the draft.

I know everyone says that they only draft the best players available, but it certainly helps when the best available intersects with a position of need, doesn’t it?  The Seahawks went out and bolstered the receiver position – after Tate left – with Richardson.  And later in that same round, they bolstered their offensive line with Britt.  You could argue whether or not those two were the “best” players available, but they’re here now, so we might as well move on.

The Seahawks also picked up an offensive line project in the sixth round who was waived due to a heart defect or some damn thing.  So, really, Britt was it as far as offensive line goes in this draft (not counting the undrafted guys, of course, who are always longshots to even make the practice squad).

Now, here we are, in the second week of the pre-season.  Michael Bowie was waived due to a shoulder condition.  There was also the issue of him coming in overweight and/or out of shape.  I think we were hoping to hide him on IR and bring him back next year (waiving him was an attempt to save some money, I believe, before we put him on IR), but he was picked up by the Browns, so now he’s gone.  That’s neither here nor there, because apparently he wasn’t going to play for us this year anyway.

That leaves Britt, veterans Eric Winston and Wade Smith, and maybe Alvin Bailey (but Bailey has spent the entire pre-season in the starting left tackle spot, with Okung out).  As Okung returns, maybe Bailey enters the race for starting right tackle, but for now it’s Britt’s job to lose.

I haven’t seen much out of Britt with my own two eyes, but what I’ve heard doesn’t inspire a great deal of confidence.  He appears to be getting beat on the reg in pass protection.  It’s unclear whether he’s fully understanding the zone blocking scheme.  The only thing you CAN say about him is that he’s still the starter on the depth chart.  It appears that the team is going to give him every opportunity to win the job, and for the life of me, I don’t blame ’em.

The Seahawks haven’t necessarily been wildly successful in drafting offensive linemen.  Max Unger was chosen by the previous regime.  Russell Okung was an obvious pick – a high first rounder – at a time post-Walter Jones when the left tackle position was a zoo.  James Carpenter was initially selected to be a right tackle, but proved to have the body of a guard.  Three injury-riddled seasons later, and we’re wondering if this first round draft pick will be re-signed after the season.  J.R. Sweezy is a converted defensive lineman and a seventh round draft pick.  He’s entering his third season in what has been an up-and-down career to date.

The Seahawks NEED to hit and hit big on someone like Britt.  Not only that, but hit EARLY.  Carpenter is in the best shape of his life … four years into his professional career.  He hasn’t been a disaster up to this point, but he’s definitely been a disappointment.  I don’t care what your salary cap situation looks like, you’d always much rather have the young, inexpensive players have huge impacts for you.  There’s nothing more frustrating than having a home-grown player require the full life of his contract before he finally lives up to his original promise; because NOW you have to make a decision:  do we want to bring him back on a more-expensive free agent deal, or let him walk?

Because think about it, what if Carpenter goes out and blows everyone away this year?  He makes this huge jump as one of the better left guards in the game, he stays healthy for the full 16 games plus playoffs, and he starts getting recognition around the league as someone to watch out for.  Well, he MIGHT command a huge contract at season’s end!  So, either we blow through our cap space (and give an injury-risk a large amount of resources), or we let him go and another team reaps the rewards on a player WE spent four years cultivating!

And, not for nothing, but Sweezy appears to be on a similar track, though we do still have two full years of team control left before he’s up for a new deal.  Maybe instead of the big jump forward I kind of expect out of Sweezy, this year sees him only marginally improve.  Well, that means it’s another year with a struggling right guard before he MAYBE figures it out in 2015 (just in time to be another Carpenter situation).

So, no, we don’t want that out of Britt.  We can’t afford that out of Britt!  He doesn’t have to be perfect right out of the gate.  Obviously, there are going to be growing pains, and we all have to accept that.  But, for starters, he has to prove that he’s not completely overwhelmed at the professional level.  He can’t be getting beat on every other play.  He’s got to flash – on his own – that he can handle some of the better pass rushers in the league.  And not require a tight end babysitter on every play just to keep our quarterback upright and our running game afloat.

Now, obviously, he still has three more pre-season games to get to that level.  The level where the coaching staff (and, frankly, the fans) feel comfortable just having him out there.  We all know he’s going to need to improve, and that’s the next thing:  we need Britt’s learning curve to be swift.  Yes, I’ll suffer some growing pains, but it better be leading to a payoff down the road.  And not three years down the road, but rather the second half of this season.  There’s got to be a point this year where it starts to click for him.  Where the missteps of being a rookie are fewer and farther between.

From week 7 onward, we face A LOT of great front sevens:  the Rams twice, the 49ers twice, the Cardinals twice, the Panthers, and the Chiefs.  That’s 8 of our last 11 games where we’re going to need Britt to be on his game.  Yes, Russell Wilson scrambles with the best of ’em, but if you’re a turnstile over there at right tackle, you’re not giving him time enough to even do that!

If Britt fails, it would be a huge setback.  In the short term, it would mean relying on veterans off the scrap heap, or youngsters who haven’t done a thing in this league.  In the long term, it would mean offensive line will once again be a huge priority going into the 2015 draft.  I don’t know what that draft class will look like, as far as offensive line is concerned, but by all accounts, 2014 was one of the better offensive line classes in YEARS!

On top of right tackle – if Britt is a bust – we’ll need to address left guard, and possibly try to extend our left tackle after the 2014 season.  In two years (when you factor in the loss of McQuistan and Giacomini), that’s simply too much for one football team to address at one position.  Quite frankly, it would mean we’d have one of the worst offensive lines in the league pretty much for the majority of our dynasty window.

So, no, we can’t fail with Britt.  He NEEDS to be good and he needs to be good very soon.  If he fails to develop, and we suffer another season with an underperforming offensive line, we’ll have to ask ourselves if Tom Cable is really the O-Line wizard we’ve all come to believe.

#9 – Russell Okung

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

In this offense, and with this quarterback, the necessity of a lock-down left tackle isn’t nearly as dire as, say, back when Holmgren coached the team and Hasselbeck needed blind-side protection.  In many ways, though, the offensive line as a whole is even MORE important than it was even ten years ago.

The Seahawks, by and large, had probably one of the worst offensive lines in the NFL last year.  A lot of that had to do with injury:  the three best linemen we have – Okung, Unger, Giacomini – missed huge chunks of season, often simultaneously.  Even when everyone was healthy – or “healthy” in the sense that they were able to put on pads and give it a go at some figure less than 100% – they were often ineffective.  Guys frequently blew past a missed assignment, getting free runs at Russell Wilson, who would in turn have to flee for his life.  Since our quarterback is so dynamic, he’s able to make chicken salad out of this type of blocking.  But, there’s a very noticeable difference between a healthy offensive line, and a “healthy” offensive line.

Russell Okung is the most talented member of this offensive line, which is why he’s ranked so high on my countdown.  The drop-off from Okung to the next left tackle on the depth chart is pretty staggering compared to the rest of the O-Line.  Last year, we had Paul McQuistan going much of the time Okung was out.  If you don’t remember this dark period of our 2013 season, you can at least imagine how horrible he was anchoring the left side of this line.  He’s a solid depth guy, and he was pretty valuable as a versatile interior lineman, but Paul McQuistan is the beans when it comes to playing tackle.

This year, I would imagine we’re taking a step up with Alvin Bailey as the #2 behind Okung.  He’s had some experience in the regular season last year – and as a sixth lineman in jumbo packages in the playoffs – so it’s not like we’d have a total greenhorn in there should Okung get injured.  But, ideally, it wouldn’t come to that.

We’re entering an interesting time in Okung’s career.  He’s signed through 2015.  This is the first year where – if we waived him – we wouldn’t be penalized by dead money.  We could SAVE money.  Now, obviously, I’m not advocating that, but it’s just interesting.  He’s been in the league since 2010, a starter the whole way as a high first round draft pick (and replacement of Walter Jones).  Something else that’s interesting:  he actually makes LESS money next year than he does this year.  His cap hit in 2014 is a little over $11 million; his cap hit in 2015 is a little over $7 million.  This is actually to his advantage – if he wants to spend the vast majority of his career in Seattle – because in his four years in the League, he has never played a full 16-game season.  Indeed, he’s averaged only 11.25 games per year in the regular season.

A lot of people believe this team is in for another huge contract with Okung pretty soon.  You’d have to think, if he puts in a full year, and his level of play doesn’t start to decline, he’ll be looking for an extension of some sort at season’s end.  After all, $7 million is a pretty paltry sum for a first round left tackle who should still be in his prime.

However, if he comes out and plays in 11 games this year, then you have to wonder if the Seahawks will look to be moving on after the 2015 season.  It’s pretty hard to justify a lengthy, expensive contract extension for a guy who can’t stop injuring his feet.

Either way, we’re talking about 2014, and Russell Okung is important to making this offense go.  Let’s face it, Russell Wilson was sacked WAY too many times last year.  44, to be exact.  And this year, we have the Defensive Lines Of Death to worry about.  The Rams are a fucking bonanza of pass-rushing talent.  The 49ers are always stout (and, by the time we play them, you’d think they will have brought back Aldon Smith).  The Cardinals overall are tenacious and relentless.  Tack on the Packers (with a healthy Matthews for game 1), the Panthers, the revamped Broncos with DeMarcus Ware … the list goes on and on.

We need more than just healthy bodies on the offensive line.  We need TALENT.  It would be nice if that talent could stay healthy for a long period of time.  Russell Okung has the type of talent where you don’t have to worry about him.  He HAS an All Pro level of skill!  With him at 100%, you don’t even have to think about him.  Save your worries for the other four guys on the line.

Contrary to 2013’s level of line play, the 2014 O-Line actually has the potential to be great.  It would require health out of Okung and Unger, and big steps forward out of our guards, and hopefully a diamond in the rough at right tackle.  I’m not saying it’s a guarantee, but the potential is there!  And, frankly, it all starts with Okung.

The Top 10 Most Important Seahawks Of 2014

Ahh lists.  Is there any more pointless way to pass the time?  If there is, I haven’t found one more enjoyable!

We’re just about to hit up what’s known as the Dog Days of Summer.  I don’t know where that phrase originates from, but when it comes to sports, the Dog Days are those days/weeks where baseball has sort of gotten stale and where we’re still a ways away from the start of football season and the MLB playoffs.  Not a lot going on.  We’re a couple weeks off from Training Camp, so I guess that’ll be something.

In the meantime, I need something to write about.  Not a lot, mind you; the Mariners are reasonably good this year, so I won’t completely abandon ship like I’ve done in the past.  What used to be a bloated, and frequently incorrect list of “most important Seahawks” has since been streamlined into a tough, gritty list of only the most crucial!  And, surely, ten players who will actually be on the ROSTER when the season starts, thereby making me look like less of a fool than I have in seasons past.

Bookmark this page, because I’m going to reveal the Top 10 over the next few weeks.  Or, you know, just keep coming back to this site every day and you’re bound to run into the next installments on the front page.

As always, my criteria for determining the “most important” Seahawks comes down to this:  how much would it hurt the team if this person was injured, or otherwise unavailable to play for an extended period of time?  It’s all subjective, so feel free to give me your top 10s in the comments.  I think we all know who number 1 is going to be, but 2-10 should be pretty interesting to debate.

  1. Russell Wilson
  2. Michael Bennett
  3. Richard Sherman
  4. Percy Harvin
  5. Earl Thomas
  6. Cliff Avril
  7. Bobby Wagner
  8. Doug Baldwin
  9. Russell Okung
  10. Kam Chancellor

Down here, we’ll get into the Honorable Mentions.  Guys who didn’t make the list, but are still rather important.  Guys like:  Marshawn Lynch.  You know, the guy who doesn’t like talking to reporters, but will gladly run and frolic around butt-ass-naked for the ESPN Body Issue.  You probably think I’m insane for not having him in my top 10.  Granted, if I was doing a Top 30, he’d probably be number 11, but this isn’t that.

The fact of the matter is, we’ve got a couple backs behind him who could carry the mail in a pinch.  Granted, they’re not as elite as Lynch, but if given a chance, I think Christine Michael could eventually be BETTER.  And, if we’re dealing with a worst-case scenario, I wouldn’t be too freaked out if Turbin had to start some games.  It’s all about the system.  And, while Turbin isn’t able to break the tackles and get the extra yards that Lynch can, he should still be solid enough to get us where we need to go.

The honorable mentions roll on with Brandon Mebane.  He’s the only true nose tackle on this roster, so losing him could be a BIG hit to our run defense and our pass rush.  This guy clogs the middle like a beast, frequently taking on two men at a time.  We’ve got other wide-bodies, but the majority of them are 3-technique tackles; we have no idea how productive they’d be lining up over center.

Our outside linebackers are some pretty good players, but unless we run into a serious epidemic, I think we’d be okay if we lost one or two to injury.  K.J. Wright is obviously the most important of the group, as he’s able to play all three linebacker positions.  You want him around in the event any of the other linebackers go down.  It’s unclear at the moment where he’ll be starting (the Seahawks have Irvin as the SAM that they’ll want to get into the games during passing downs; Super Bowl MVP Malcolm Smith is a natural WILL whose big play ability is something you just can’t leave on the bench for too long), but I can foresee no scenario outside of injury where Wright isn’t starting SOMEWHERE.  Keeping him healthy will be crucial, because injuries always happen, and he’s the most versatile guy on the defense.

It would be ideal to squeeze another mostly-healthy year out of Zach Miller.  I can’t imagine he’s got too many more miles left on that body, considering the pounding he has taken in his Seahawks career, frequently being our sixth lineman.  Luke Willson was by far our most productive player in the 2013 rookie class, and I think he has what it takes to be a #1 tight end for this team, but letting him play another year behind Miller certainly couldn’t hurt.  Willson will still get his playing time, he’ll have another year’s experience, and by 2015 he should be ready to take over for good.  Also, considering the question marks surrounding our third tight end, depth at the position will be of utmost importance.  Not relying completely on that depth – by keeping Miller healthy for the full slate – will be to our advantage.

An under-the-radar important player for the Seahawks is Greg Scruggs.  I may be opening myself up for ridicule, as who knows if Scruggs will make the team or not, but he showed great promise as a rookie.  Scruggs could be the young, cost-efficient pass-rushing defensive tackle we’ve been waiting for.  It would be nice to not have to keep reloading on 3-tech defensive tackles among the ranks of the 10-year veterans.  I think Scruggs – upon recovery from his 2013 season-ending injury – is poised to take a big step forward a la Clinton McDonald last year.

Finally, because I couldn’t put the entire L.O.B. and the entire offensive line in the Top 10, here I will acknowledge the depth in both areas.  Byron Maxwell will be important, as he’s starting opposite Richard Sherman.  He’s proven to be quite adept at locking down that side of the field, and he’s playing for a new contract, so it’s safe to expect a pretty big season out of him in 2014.  He’ll continue to get “picked on”, as quarterbacks opt to stay away from Sherman’s side of the ball, so let’s hope Maxwell comes back in peak physical condition.  Behind him, it appears the Seahawks have no shortage of depth options in Jeremy Lane, Tharold Simon, and whoever else emerges from the pile in Training Camp.  You don’t ever want to see a rash of injuries or suspensions in the secondary, but if it happens (like it did, sort of, in 2013), it’s nice to know we can overcome thanks to our outstanding depth.  Lose Walter Thurmond and Brandon Browner?  So what?

As for the offensive line, I’m usually of the opinion that this is the single most important part of any football team.  You need a solid offensive line to give the quarterback enough time to throw, to keep your quarterback upright and healthy, and to provide a rushing attack that will take pressure off of your quarterback, so he doesn’t have to be perfect all the time.  Then, the 2013 Seahawks went out and won the Super Bowl while losing their three best linemen to injury for huge chunks of season, and while playing with some of the lowest-rated guards in the league (James Carpenter, J.R. Sweezy, and Paul McQuistan).  Yeah, the offensive line is important, but if it’s so important, how did the Seahawks go 16-3 with a bunch of scrubs and reserves?

Tom Cable and a whole lotta talent at the skill positions.  It always helps having Lynch turn no-gains into positive rushes.  It always helps having Russell Wilson being as mobile as he is, and as accurate throwing the ball on the run.  It always helps having receivers who are able to get open in a hurry and improvise when things break down.

What 2013 showed us is that the depth at our offensive line position is better than we thought.  With Giacomini and McQuistan playing elsewhere, it’s believed there is a number of holes in 2014.  But, J.R. Sweezy isn’t going anywhere, and appears to have made a lot of strides in his first couple seasons as a starter.  Max Unger, when healthy, is a top-notch leader.  And, apparently James Carpenter is in “the best shape of his life” and also going into a contract season, so you know he’s got incentive to be his best.  The only real competition is Right Tackle, and we’ve got a two-way battle (at least) between Michael Bowie and Justin Britt.  Bowie had quite a bit of playing time in his rookie season last year, so he’s got a bit of a head start; but Britt was our 2nd round draft pick, so he’s got the higher pedigree over 7th rounder Bowie.  They appear to be neck-and-neck at the moment, so that battle will be decided in Training Camp and in the pre-season games.  Regardless, whoever loses that battle will still provide this team with excellent depth options in the event of injuries or ineffectiveness throughout the season.

There are lots more guys who deserve recognition – and I’m sure they’ll get it as the weeks and months go by – but for now, let’s move on to the top 10.  Number ten will be posted in the coming day(s).

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.

What Will It Take For The Seahawks To Repeat As World Champions?

Normally, in the days & weeks following the end of a Seahawks season, after lamenting where it all went wrong, I’d look forward to see what the Seahawks could do to be even BETTER next year and go all the way.

Well, suffice it to say, this year is a little different.  The Seahawks are the best team in football.  They WON the Super Bowl.  Granted, you’ll always accept your team getting a little better, even if they’re coming off of a season where they won it all, but in reality I’m not expecting other teams to magically become SO much better that we’d have to be any more improved than we were in 2013.

Essentially, what I’m saying here is:  we just need to maintain the status quo.

If I could bring this same exact team back next year in its entirety, I would do it in a heartbeat.  But, of course, that’s not going to happen.  Guys are going to be getting raises.  Free agents are going to command more money than we can spend under the salary cap.  I’ve more or less gotten into that in a previous post, so I’ll use this space today to be a little more broad in my thinking.

For starters, I think we’re going to have to get younger along the offensive line.  We’ve been blessed with another year with Tom Cable, so I suggest we put that time to good use.  Michael Bowie and Alvin Bailey should be starting for this team in 2014.  One of them (likely Bowie) should be our right tackle, and the other (likely Bailey) should be our left guard.  I’m not saying we need to cut the cord with James Carpenter as of yet (let him duke it out for that left guard spot if need be), but we most certainly should cut the cord when it comes to McQuistan and Giacomini.  The way I see it, we got by last year with more or less an average offensive line.  I think we can replace those two veterans with younger guys and achieve the depth we need.

Before we get into what the Seahawks should do in the draft, I should remind everyone that we don’t have a third rounder (thanks to the Percy Harvin trade).  In essence, we have two “high” draft picks (1st & 2nd), three mid-round picks (4th & two 5ths), and two late-round picks (6th & 7th).  I don’t know if there will be any compensatory picks, nor do I know if we’ll be wheeling and dealing for more draft picks (though, you’d have to think we’ll trade back at least once to get some more guys).

For my money, I’d like to see this team address the offensive line just as they’ve been doing:  late round picks & undrafted guys.

In those first couple of picks, I’d like to see this team go after two of the three following position groups:  wide receiver, tight end, defensive line.  At some point, this team is going to have to find a way to save money in these areas.  We can’t keep over-paying Zach Miller forever, so if someone like ASJ falls to the end of the first round, I’d give him every opportunity to win this team’s starting tight end job.  Between ASJ and Luke Willson, I think you’re set at that position (you can find a third tight end anywhere, for peanuts, if need be).

This team is also in need of cheaper big bodies among the defensive line.  I think it’s wise to cut Clemons and re-sign Michael Bennett; I don’t think you lose a whole lot in your pass rushing abilities.  I’m thinking more along the defensive tackle realm with this high draft pick.  Brandon Mebane and Red Bryant won’t be around (and healthy) forever.  I think you take a shot in this year’s draft AND next year’s draft to try to find replacements.  If you can’t get two starting defensive tackles in three draft classes (including 2013’s, assuming Jesse Williams will be able to participate in football activities), then I don’t know what to tell you.  All I know is, there is money to be saved in the defensive line, as the Seahawks spend the most in that position among any team in the NFL.

Also, I know everyone thinks we’re all set in the wide receiver department, but my question is:  are we?  Yes, we all assume Sidney Rice will be gone.  That leaves Percy Harvin and Jermaine Kearse, with Doug Baldwin likely to be back and Golden Tate a free agent.  Even if this team re-signs both Baldwin and Tate, there are two issues at play.  First, that does nothing to improve your size at that position.  Second, we will still need depth in a couple years when more decisions need to be made.  Will Harvin ever play a full season?  What if he comes back next year and only plays in half of the games?  Odds are, this team will have to cut Harvin after three years regardless, because his contract is way too high and there will be other guys to better spend that money on.  We need to keep re-stocking the back-end of this position, especially because it usually takes at least a couple years before a wide receiver really breaks through.

Yes, a tall, athletic receiver in the first or second round could be exactly what this team needs.  And, if Tate happens to walk, then this position is in even more need!

So, in summation, the offense needs to supplant their two older free agent offensive linemen with the two rookies from 2013 (as well as replace the depth with low-end draft picks and undrafted free agents).  The offense should try to re-sign both Tate & Baldwin if possible, while also looking to draft a tall, athletic receiver.  The Seahawks should absolutely draft ASJ and – if they do – waive Zach Miller.  The Seahawks need to stay away from adding any more running backs.  And, I wouldn’t be opposed to bringing back Tarvaris Jackson as a backup QB if he’s willing.

Let’s move on to the defense now.  Brandon Browner is gone.  Walter Thurmond is most likely gone.  That doesn’t decimate our starting secondary, as Byron Maxwell is still under contract, but it cuts into our depth a little bit.  Jeremy Lane will be back as a nickel corner, which is a godsend.  If we end up letting Thurmond walk, I’d recommend using one of our mid-round picks on another cornerback, because why not?  If you’re thinking long-term, then you’re thinking Earl Thomas and Richard Sherman are going to command huge salaries.  Hopefully, they’ll get those salaries and hopefully the Seahawks are the team that pays them.  If we assume 3/4 of our Legion of Boom will be here long term, then you have to assume that other 1/4 will be part of a rotating cast of characters.  Like the Spinal Tap drummer, only hopefully less injury-prone.

What I’m getting at is:  you can’t pay Sherman, Thomas, Chancellor, AND Maxwell huge salaries and think you’re going to get away with it.  I think you have to let Maxwell go after his contract runs out.  Which shouldn’t be a huge deal, as long as we’re able to draft guys and coach them up like we’ve coached up Maxwell and Co.  But, to do that, you have to continuously draft guys and keep them on your roster until it’s their time to step up.

So, the Seahawks need a mid-round cornerback.  They also need to get Earl Thomas extended.  And, they could either try to extend Sherman now, or let his contract expire and try to deal with it after the season.  I’d prefer to get everyone locked up all at once, but that might be a pipe dream.

With the linebackers, I don’t think you get too crazy.  You leave Malcolm Smith in there on the weak side, you leave Bobby Wagner in there in the middle, and you put K.J. Wright back over to the strong side.  Bruce Irvin probably needs to go back to the defensive line and tend to that LEO position (which will be vacated when we dump Clemons).  It might be a good idea to pick up a mid-to-late round linebacker who is also a standout on special teams, because I don’t know how much longer you can keep paying Heath Farwell the money he deserves.  With the veteran’s minimum increasing with every year he’s in the league, there’s some moderate savings to be had by picking up someone younger to go in his place.

Along the line, as I said before, I think you draft a defensive tackle.  High if possible, but if no one is there, then in the mid rounds at least.  I think you put Bruce Irvin in at the LEO defensive end position, as part of a rotation with Michael Bennett; when Irvin’s in there, you slide Bennett inside to rush from the tackle spot.  I’d really love it if this team could find a way to keep Red Bryant, as I’ve gone into before, because that reduces the amount of turnover in a very volatile spot on the defense.  If you assume Clinton McDonald gets more money elsewhere, I think we can still maintain some semblance of what we had in 2013.

Ideally doh, the D-Line looks like this:

  • Michael Bennett
  • Brandon Mebane
  • Jordan Hill
  • Red Bryant
  • Bruce Irvin
  • Cliff Avril
  • Greg Scruggs (coming off of an IR’d 2013)
  • Jesse Williams
  • And a couple more guys for depth (either via the draft, or guys who recently signed futures contracts)

Also, there’s Tony McDaniel, but I don’t see him returning.  I could see the Seahawks going after another Tony McDaniel “type” in free agency, though, playing for a minimal amount, and pushing Jesse Williams for a roster spot.  Obviously, you can’t predict injuries and such, so I wouldn’t expect this to be the roster on Opening Day or anything, but this is essentially what I’d like to see as the plan for the Seahawks.

Again, in summation:  the defense should draft for depth along the linebackers and cornerbacks positions in the mid-to-back end of the draft, they should draft in the upper area for defensive tackle, they should re-sign Michael Bennett and extend Thomas & Sherman, and they should figure out a way to keep Red Bryant around.

With Rice, Clemons, and Miller gone, as well as some of our pricier offensive linemen and depth guys, I would hope that would be enough to do all of the important things this team needs to do (new contracts for free agent receivers and defenders).  Then again, this organization has been full of surprises from Day 1 since Pete Carroll and John Schneider took over, so this entire post is most likely going to be rendered pointless in a matter of time.

Is This The Beginning Of A Dynasty For The Seattle Seahawks?

I wasn’t nearly as hungover yesterday as I thought I’d be.  Nevertheless, from about 9am until 3pm, I didn’t move from my spot on the couch.  I read a lot of articles about the Seahawks and watched A LOT of ESPN coverage, from Sportscenter to PTI.  One of the common questions posed by hosts was:  is this the beginning of a dynasty for the Seahawks?

Most people said no, because that’s what you’d expect most people to say.  Most people aren’t willing to go out on a limb, which is why most people picked the Broncos to win the Super Bowl to begin with.  Most people don’t like to make a prediction until literally every shred of evidence is laid out before them.  In essence, most people are afraid to make a prediction until something has already happened.  It’s why you see a lot of uninformed opinions on these talking-head shows.  It’s also why you see a lot of people predicting the same exact matchup for next year’s Super Bowl.  “DUH, THESE ARE THE BEST TWO TEAMS NOW, SO THEY MUST BE THE BEST TWO TEAMS NEXT YEAR, DUH!”

Here are the reasons why most people don’t think the Seahawks will be a dynasty:

  • Because it’s really hard to do
  • Because they play in a really hard division
  • Because the San Francisco 49ers are probably the better team, and if the NFC Championship game was played in San Francisco, the 49ers most likely would have won
  • Because the league is structured in such a way as to eliminate dynasties
  • Because the Seahawks have some very talented players who will command high salaries, and you can’t keep everyone

There are probably other reasons to this argument, but my brain can only retain so much information after a weekend like that.

I would say those are all, more-or-less, legitimate concerns.  For the record, I don’t think the 49ers were all that affected by crowd noise, so I think that game is pretty much a 50/50 toss-up wherever it would have been played.  Did the crowd noise cause Kaepernick to lose his God damned mind in throwing those two picks?  I doubt it.

Yes, being a dynasty is difficult to do.  That’s why those teams are so revered.  Whenever you talk about the 50s Browns or the 60s Packers or the 70s Steelers or the 80s 49ers or the 90s Cowboys or the 00s Patriots, you think of some absolute legends.  Not just Hall of Famers, but the very BEST of the best.  You think of a confluence of luck, skill, and talent.  The right people getting together at the right time to kickstart a magical run of football.  And, to be honest, they only come around once a decade BECAUSE it’s so rare to find that combination.

Now, the way things are going, with contracts and the salary cap and such, you’d think that the NFL has effectively eliminated the dynasty.  But, I don’t think that necessarily has to be the case.  The next few Seahawks teams won’t be quite as good as the 2013 version, but the 2013 version will probably go down as one of the very best teams of all time.  It might not require a team as good as the 2013 version to win the next couple Super Bowls.  But, I guess that’s something we should consider:  what IS a dynasty?

A sustained run of success over a long period of time (by NFL standards, which is probably a decade or so) that also includes more than two NFL Championships.  That definition might have changed over time, and it might change again in the future.  But, right now, it appears the 90s Cowboys have set the standard:  3 championships in 4 years.  I would also argue that a dynasty needs to have the same essential core in place, specifically the same quarterback.  I would add head coach to that, but the 1995 Cowboys won it all with Barry Switzer coaching Jimmy Johnson’s team.

I don’t see Pete Carroll going anywhere anytime soon (even if his coordinators are destined for bigger and better things) and I don’t see Russell Wilson going anywhere anytime soon.  As long as they stay right where they are, we have the prerequisites for a dynasty.

Now, obviously, we’re not going to keep this 2013 team intact in its entirety.  But, I don’t see any reason why we have to lose Earl Thomas or Richard Sherman.  We’ve already locked up Kam Chancellor to a long-term deal as well as Percy Harvin and Max Unger.

We’ve also got the following players locked up through the 2015 season:  Lynch, Turbin, Okung, Sweezy, Miller, Mebane, Irvin, Wagner, Lane, and various others who are signed through 2016 (Michael, Ware, Luke Willson, Bryant, Bowie, and the rest of our 2013 draft picks).  At the very least, we have MOST of our extended core signed through the next two seasons.  I’m not saying the Seahawks WILL win the next two Super Bowls to hit on the three-peat, but it wouldn’t shock me.

Let’s not put the cart before the horse, though.  Let’s just look at 2014 and see what we’ve got.  Golden Tate, Paul McQuistan, Breno Giacomini, Clinton McDonald, Tony McDaniel, Michael Bennett, Walter Thurmond, and Steven Hauschka are all of the important players who will be unrestricted free agents.  Doug Baldwin will also be a free agent, but we will have an opportunity to match any offer, so I think he stays a Seahawk.  I think the team will re-sign Tate if the price is right.  I think McQuistan comes back for the minimum (otherwise, if he gets a bigger offer, I think he’s gone).  I think Giacomini will probably command too much money.  McDaniel will likely look to get more money/years elsewhere.  I HOPE we’re able to bring back McDonald, but he might have earned himself a big raise.  I think the Seahawks will make a big push to bring back Michael Bennett.  Thurmond is seriously a toss-up; I don’t think he gets the huge dollars he’s looking for, but I do think he goes somewhere simply because they will offer him a starting job (while we can only offer him our 3rd cornerback job).  I also think Hauschka comes back with a modest raise (but nowhere near the lunacy the Cowboys just paid to sign their kicker to an extension).

The Seahawks have some decisions to make on other guys making a lot of money.  Marshawn Lynch is on the team for two more years, but I only see his 2014 being guaranteed.  After that, I think we look to make Christine Michael our starter.  Sidney Rice is as good as gone, since we’ll save a good $7.3 million in 2014 if we cut him (not to mention another $10.2 million in salary in 2015).  Zach Miller’s cap number starts to go down in 2014 as his base salary goes down.  I wonder if the team doesn’t just let this contract run its course (while possibly drafting his replacement this year).  Then again, he’ll only be 29 when his contract runs out in 2015, so maybe the team re-works it at a lower per-year average and extends him a couple extra seasons.  He’s been durable and solid, if unspectacular, in an offense that doesn’t ask much out of its tight ends as far as receptions and touchdowns are concerned.  Finally, I’ve heard rumblings that the team might ask Red Bryant to take a pay cut.  It’s hard to see that happening, but he is looking at a $3 million roster bonus if he’s on the team in 2014, so you never know.

Everyone is looking at Earl Thomas and Richard Sherman.  They appear to be the guys who will set he curve as far as salaries go on this team for its young stars.  Both are technically still signed through 2014, but both can start renegotiating now for their new deals.  I’ve heard that the team might try to stagger these deals – do one this year and one next year – which would be smart.  Earl Thomas for sure will be the team’s top priority this off-season.  This defense doesn’t work without Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor, so it’ll be nice to know they’re both in the fold for a very long time.  Richard Sherman is a little more interesting.  The team actually has a little leverage with him, in that he’s under team control at a very low salary.  So, any extension to be talked about this off-season would have to take that into consideration.  In essence, if Sherman gets extended, he’ll get his payday, but the Seahawks would see a little savings by essentially “buying out” the last year of his rookie deal (like in baseball, how teams will extend a superstar when he’s still arbitration-eligible).  My hunch is:  with this run in the playoffs, Richard Sherman has probably earned himself a boatload in endorsements (and not those weird Sunset Chevrolet-type commercials, either).  I bet that Sherman turns down the contract extension, lives high on the hog with his endorsement money, and plays out of his mind in 2014 to REALLY get paid next year.

Any way you slice it, these Seahawks will have Pete Carroll, Russell Wilson, a solid running game, Percy Harvin, at least Baldwin or Tate (if not both), a solid offensive line, and the key players in the Legion of Boom for a long, long time.  That’s not just a core, that’s a foundation.  You can win with those guys for the next decade and fill in around them as needed.  They’ll need to hit on defensive linemen in the draft like they’ve hit on just about every other position, because you can’t keep over-paying for guys like Clemons, Avril, Bryant, Bennett, and Mebane forever.  Likewise, they probably won’t be able to retain the entirety of the linebacking unit forever either (I think maybe they go above-and-beyond to keep Wagner, but the other guys will likely have to come back on cheap deals or be replaced by younger guys in the draft).

So, yes, this team can most certainly be a dynasty.  And, I think they will be.  I think we’re contending for divisions and playoff spots for the next decade, and I think we DO get two or three more Super Bowl victories.

Starting in 2014.  I mean, come on.  We’re not just the best team in football, but we’re the best team by a wide margin!  San Francisco’s defense was starting to show its age a little bit in spots, and Kaepernick has proven he’s essentially worthless without sufficient weapons around him to prop his game up.  And now, they’ve got the stink of being the “little buddy” to the Seahawks’ “Skipper”.  Watch us as we bop the 49ers with our hat repeatedly next year and beyond!

Comparing The 2005 Seahawks To The 2013 Seahawks

Last week, we more or less giddily looked forward to the “Big Game” on February 2nd.  This week, I’ve decided to take a step back and review the last time the Seahawks were in a position to give all of our lives meaning.

The 2005 Seahawks didn’t come out of nowhere, per se, but they also didn’t look like a team that would be bound for the Super Bowl.  In 2003, the Seahawks finished second in the NFC West (to the Rams), and lost in the Wild Card round to Green Bay (take the ball, score, all of that nonsense you wish you could forget).  In 2004, the Seahawks won the NFC West, but lost again in the Wild Card round, this time to the Rams (who, sadly, managed to beat us three times that season).

Suffice it to say, these Seahawks were starting to remind everyone of the early George Karl Sonics teams (good enough to win divisions and make the playoffs, but ALWAYS with the first round exits).  In a way, 2005 was a make-or-break year for Mike Holmgren.  Obviously, he had already lost his General Managing duties by this point, but if there was another underperforming finish to this season, you had to wonder how hot his seat would’ve been.  2005 was his seventh season in Seattle.  He had made the playoffs three times in those seven years, and each time he lost in the first round.

So, it was more than a little disconcerting to see us go into Jacksonville – where we expected to be the better team, given the Jags’ questions at quarterback – and lose to kick off the season.  Granted, those Jags would end up 12-4, but we had no idea they’d be that good going in.  The Seahawks bounced back with a couple of home wins over a couple of mediocre teams (Falcons & Cardinals), before losing on the road once again (this time to the Redskins).

By this point, it was the same boring storyline:  the Seahawks can’t win on the road (and they especially can’t win on the road at 10am Pacific time).  The very next week would, once again, put this theory to the test, as we faced off against our most bitter rival (at the time), the St. Louis Rams.  After they’d beaten us three times the previous year, we knew there was a dragon left to be slain.  Having it on the road, in the morning, made it all the sweeter when we won 37-31.

This kicked off an 11-game winning streak that was only broken in Week 17 when we rested many of our starters (as we’d locked up the #1 seed).

Looking back on it, the NFC was VERY weak in 2005.  The Rams & Packers were both in the midst of down seasons.  The Bears had a great defense, but were led by Kyle Orton and Rex Grossman of all people.  The Seahawks drew the Redskins in the Divisional Round, with the aging Mark Brunell, and easily dispatched them.  That led to an NFC Championship Game against the Carolina Panthers.  We made mincemeat of Jake Delhomme (probably the beginning of the end of his career, with three interceptions against only one touchdown) and Steve Smith (at the height of his powers, held to a trivial 5 catches for 33 yards).  These were not teams to fear.

For sure, all the talent was in the AFC in 2005.  The 14-2 Colts were the best team in football.  The 13-3 Broncos were surprisingly effective with Jake Plummer at the helm and the 3rd ranked defense by points scored.  The 10-6 Patriots were still, more or less, the same team that had won three of the last four Super Bowls.  The 11-5 Bengals were a surprising division winner, with Carson Palmer looking to really make his mark on this league.  The 12-4 Jaguars were one of the better 5-seeds in the history of the league to that point (boxed out by the aforementioned 14-2 Colts).  Leaving the 11-5 Steelers, in the 6-seed.

Had things gone according to plan (or according to the 2013 blueprint), the Seahawks would have played Peyton Manning and his Colts in the Super Bowl.  Of course, nothing goes the way you want it to.

The Steelers started out their playoff run by killing Carson Palmer’s career.  He thew one pass for 66 yards.  On his next attempt, he was hit at the knees by a defensive lineman and was out for the game (Palmer would make it back, but he was never as good as he was in 2005).  A promising Bengals team was defeated, with Jon Kitna at the helm.  The Steelers continued their run by going into Indy and playing the top team in the league.  They came away with a 3-point victory.  That led to them going into Denver to play the Broncos (who somehow managed to defeat the Patriots), where they won easily.

To be honest, the run couldn’t have gone more perfectly for the 6-seeded Steelers.  It was a harrowing feat to say the least.  You want to talk about steel sharpening steel?  Compare that run of three straight road games to the charmed life the Seahawks had, with one of the easiest conference regular seasons in recent memory, followed by two home games where we enjoy the best Home Field Advantage in the world.  Pretty much, the Seahawks were flying first class to the Super Bowl, while the Steelers had to survive a death march over steaming hot coals.

In any other year, against any other team, I would have been cheering on the Steelers like nobody’s business.  Instead, I came out of Super Bowl XL with the Steelers as one of my most hated teams of all time

***

I’ll have more on Super Bowl XL tomorrow.  Right now, let’s take a look at those 2005 Seahawks, and how they compare to the 2013 version.

As a general overview, the 2005 Seahawks were (unsurprisingly) quite successful on offense and not so much on defense.  In fact, they led the league in points scored and were second in yards gained.  However, on defense, they weren’t quite the trainwreck I seem to remember.  They were 7th-best in points allowed and 16th in yards given up.  Of course, I would contend their schedule had something to do with that, but the point is, we’re not talking about the 2012 Saints or anything.

The 2005 Seahawks had the MVP of the league in Shaun Alexander.  He scored 27 rushing touchdowns which, at the time, was the NFL record.  It would be beaten by LaDainian Tomlinson the very next season, but it was still an amazing achievement.  Alexander also ran for 1,880 yards, which was a career high for him.  You can say what you want about his running style, but the man got the job done for us and should be appreciated as the greatest running back in Seahawks history.

The 2005 Seahawks were led by Matt Hasselbeck.  He was in his seventh year in the league, fifth year with the Seahawks, and third year as the Seahawks’ unquestioned starter at the quarterback position.  Remember, when he first got here, we were jerking him around with Trent Dilfer on the roster.  As if winning that Super Bowl with the Ravens (and the greatest defense of all time) somehow made Dilfer competent at the quarterback position or something.  Anyway, I made the point at the time (and stand behind it to this day) that the 2005 Seahawks were as good as they were because they had Matt Hasselbeck at quarterback.  Shaun Alexander might have been the league’s MVP, but Hasselbeck was the team’s MVP.  Had we played that season with a replacement-level quarterback (or, Seneca Wallace, as he’s formally known), we would have had replacement-level results, no matter how many yards and touchdowns Alexander ran for.

Then again, the heart and soul of the 2005 Seahawks resided along the offensive line.  It was EASILY the best in football and EASILY the best line we’ve ever seen in Seattle.  It also probably rivals some of the best offensive lines in the history of the league, but I’ll leave that argument for people smarter than me to make.  All I know is:  with Walter Jones & Steve Hutchinson on the left side of that line, the rest of the offense’s job was made a lot easier.

So, let’s start there.  Let’s make the rest of this post a position-by-position breakdown, starting with the offensive line.  For the record, I’m going to try to pick the player who played the most games at his given position (or, who is known as that team’s “starter”).  The better player is highlighted in blue.

Left Tackle
2005 – Walter Jones
2013 – Russell Okung

Left Guard
2005 – Steve Hutchinson
2013 – James Carpenter / Paul McQuistan

Center
2005 – Robbie Tobeck
2013 – Max Unger

Right Guard
2005 – Chris Gray
2013 – J.R. Sweezy

Right Tackle
2005 – Sean Locklear
2013 – Breno Giacomini

Overall, when you consider the offensive line as a whole, you give the overwhelming nod to the 2005 Seahawks.  The 2013 Seahawks have no one NEAR the calibre of Walter Jones & Steve Hutchinson of 2005.  Max Unger gets a marginal nod over Tobeck.  Chris Gray was like 2005’s version of Paul McQuistan (savvy veteran, able to play multiple positions along the line, helps more than he hurts).  I never did like Sean Locklear.

Quarterback
2005 – Matt Hasselbeck
2013 – Russell Wilson

I’m not gonna lie to you, before I looked at the stats, just going off of memory, I REALLY wanted to pick Hasselbeck over Wilson.  I just thought, given the style of offense (West-Coast, heavy on the passing and the completion percentage), the Seahawks would have required more out of Hasselbeck than they do out of Wilson now.  But, look at these numbers!

Hasselbeck:  294/449 (65.5%), 3,459 yards, 24 TDs, 9 INTs, rating of 98.2
Wilson:  257/407 (63.1%), 3,357, 26 TDs, 9 INTs, rating of 101.2

First of all, I thought Hasselbeck would have attempted WAY more passes than Wilson, but it turned out to only be 42 more passes (or a little over two and a half passes per game).  As it turns out, Wilson was the more efficient quarterback, who still managed to best Hasselbeck in touchdowns thrown.  When you tack on Wilson’s rushing yards, it’s pretty clear who’s the better quarterback.  It’s NOT Year 7 Hasselbeck; it’s Year 2 Wilson.  Soak that in as you daydream about the next dozen years with Wilson at the helm.

Running Back
2005 – Shaun Alexander
2013 – Marshawn Lynch

Listen to me, now.  I know how much you love Beastmode.  Hell, I love myself some Beastmode as much as anybody!  I wouldn’t trade his hard-nosed, rugged running style for anything.  It isn’t even really a question of who would you rather have.  I’m not posing the notion of putting 2005 Alexander with 2013’s offensive line to see who would be the better guy.  Let’s face it, 2005 Alexander WITH 2005’s offensive line is just a better running back than 2013 Lynch with 2013’s line.  I’ll kindly refer you to the numbers:

Alexander:  370 attempts, 1,880 yards, 5.1 yards per carry, 27 touchdowns
Lynch:  301 attempts, 1,257 yards, 4.2 yards per carry, 12 touchdowns

Let’s face it, 2005 Alexander’s numbers are Looney Tunes!  You just don’t see running backs like this very much anymore.  They’re a dying breed.  Alexander was 28 when he had this season.  Lynch is 27, but considering the pounding his body takes, you’d have to think he’s in a similar boat.  When Alexander hit 30, he fell off the cliff.  I would expect nothing less out of Lynch.

Also, 2005 Alexander had 69 more attempts!  In what is supposed to be a pass-oriented offense.  Now, granted, those Seahawks won a lot of games and leaned on teams late with that rushing attack.  But, the 2013 Seahawks ALSO won a lot of games, but weren’t putting up numbers like this.

It boils down to those 2005 Seahawks being a fast-paced offense vs. the 2013 Seahawks slowing the game down.  Of course you’re going to get better offensive numbers if you’re going to be running so many more plays.

Wide Receiver 1
2005 – Darrell Jackson
2013 – Golden Tate

The numbers don’t bear out that Jackson was the team’s #1 receiver – because he missed a good ten games in the middle of the season before returning for the playoff run – but it’s pretty obvious who the team’s top target was.  Jackson’s early career was mired by drops, but he managed to get his shit together starting in 2005.  And, in that playoff run (where he caught 20 balls for 268 yards in three games – and it would have been more in the Super Bowl had things gone a little differently), Jackson really took a step forward.

Nevertheless, Golden Tate gets the nod.  He draws the lion’s share of the coverage (usually with the other team’s best cover corner), and still managed to catch 64 balls for 898 yards.  What puts Tate over the top is his talent, his versatility, and his ability in the punt return game.

Wide Receiver 2
2005 – Joe Jurevicius
2013 – Sidney Rice / Jermaine Kearse

I resisted the urge to put Doug Baldwin here, mainly because I want to save him so I can compare him to Bobby Engram.  In his stead, I put the duo of Rice & Kearse.  Rice was obviously this team’s #2 receiver when he was healthy, but of course, he went down after 8 games and Kearse picked up some of the slack.  You’ve got to ding Rice for not being reliable with his health.  But, aside from all that, Jurevicius was rock solid in 2005.

He caught 55 balls for 694 yards and a whopping 10 touchdowns!  He was the type of big body that Pete Carroll has been spending his entire Seahawks career trying to bring in.

Wide Receiver 3
2005 – Bobby Engram
2013 – Doug Baldwin

Bobby Engram was Doug Baldwin before Doug Baldwin was even a twinkle in the Seahawks’ eye!  Engram was Hasselbeck’s 3rd Down security blanket just as Baldwin is that for Wilson today.  And, when other receivers went down – as they seemingly always did – Engram was able to pick up the slack, just like Baldwin has this year after Rice went down.

I’m giving the nod to Baldwin for a couple reason.  Even though Engram caught 17 more passes, they caught the same exact number of yards:  778.  Doug Baldwin is the more explosive receiver.  He can go downfield and make a big play FAR more regularly than Engram ever could.  While he may play in the slot, Baldwin isn’t just a traditional slot receiver like Engram was.  Baldwin can play all over, yet still be that security blanket on third down who finds the hole in the zone or makes the diving sideline grab.

Tight End
2005 – Jerramy Stevens
2013 – Zach Miller

I probably shouldn’t let my emotions get the better of me, but in this case I can’t help it.  2005 Jerramy Stevens’ numbers absolutely dwarf Zach Miller’s, and if he even REMOTELY lived up to the hype coming into his pro career, Jerramy Stevens would be a beloved individual around these parts.  Instead, he sucked dick, and is beloved in Pittsburgh for handing them the Super Bowl.  So, Zach Miller gets the nod (plus, Miller is actually a true tight end who blocks well and does the whole thing; Stevens was a glorified, overweight wide receiver and not a very good one at that).

So, if you add it up for both sides, 2005 gets the edge on Offensive Line, Running Back (an extension of the offensive line), and one of the three wide receivers.  2013 wins on Quarterback play, Tight End, and 2/3 of the wide receivers.  If I’m weighting things as I should, it’s pretty neck and neck.  Offensive line is the most important part of any football team, so they factor in pretty heavily.  QB comes next.  And, I figure the receivers and tight end equal out the Shaun Alexander MVP factor.  I’m calling it a wash across the board.  But, you can’t just call it a tie, so let’s go to the numbers:

2005:  452 points, 5,915 yards, 1,020 total plays, 5.8 yards per play, 17 turnovers
2013:  417 points, 5,424 yards, 973 total plays, 5.6 yards per play, 19 turnovers

Look, by the slimmest of margins, I’m giving 2005 the nod over 2013 on offense.  There are pieces there to cobble together the greatest offense of all time (2005 O-Line with 2013’s skill position players), but if you want the truth, I’m going to go with the offense that scored more points.  It’s kind of as simple as that.

***

Let’s hop right into the defenses.

2005 Defensive Line
Bryce Fisher (DE)
Grant Wistrom (DE)
Rocky Bernard (DT)
Marcus Tubbs (DT)
Chuck Darby (DT)

2013 Defensive Line
Red Bryant (DE)
Chris Clemons (DE)
Brandon Mebane (DT)
Cliff Avril (DE)
Michael Bennett (DE/DT)
Tony McDaniel (DT)
Clinton McDonald (DT)

This goes without question.  I mean, LOOK at that rotation!  The 2013 Seahawks can come up with any number of fronts, whereas the 2005 version pretty much ran out the same four guys play-in and play-out.  I would argue that Mebane was just as disruptive up the middle as Tubbs.  Michael Bennett can do just as much as Rocky Bernard on the inside (as far as pass rush is concerned), as well as have the ability to slide outside and rush on the edge.  Grant Wistrom was less of a joke than a nightmare I’m still trying to wake up from.  No contest.  Next song.

2005 Linebackers
Leroy Hill
D.D. Lewis
Lofa Tatupu

2013 Linebackers
K.J. Wright
Malcolm Smith
Bobby Wagner
Bruce Irvin

In 2005, you had Leroy Hill and Lofa Tatupu as rookies, and therefore at the height of their powers and physicality.  But, Tatupu was never good enough to hold Bobby Wagner’s jock, and the combination of Wright & Smith is WAY more versatile than Leroy Hill ever was.  Hill was great at run-stuffing, and he managed 7.5 sacks in his rookie campaign, but there’s more to linebacker than simply running forward.  You’ve got to run laterally, and backward.  You’ve got to play in coverage, and that’s where the 2013 crew has it all over the 2005 crew.  Which is odd, because those Holmgren defenses were known for their speed.  Here’s the thing:  2013 HAS that speed, but they’ve also got size and versatility.  Again, no contest.  Next song.

2005 Secondary
Marcus Trufant
Kelly Herndon
Michael Boulware
Marquand Manuel
Jordan Babineaux
Ken Hamlin
Etric Pruitt

2013 Secondary
Richard Sherman
Byron Maxwell
Earl Thomas
Kam Chancellor
Brandon Browner
Walter Thurmond
Jeremy Lane

I could have stopped after just Richard Sherman – with he alone covering all of the other team’s receivers – and he would have beaten out the 2005 secondary.  I was going to split them up by cornerbacks and safeties, but what’s the point?  It’s laughable how terrible that 2005 secondary was.  Luckily for the 2005 team, they were frequently playing with a lead.  It’s a lot easier to play defense with a lead than it is from behind.

On the whole, it’s not even close.  2013 defense in a landslide.  In fact, I don’t know if there are any guys on that 2005 team would would even PLAY on the 2013 version!  I don’t think anyone turns down a 2005 Rocky Bernard.  And I know 2005 Bryce Fisher had 9.0 sacks, but does he have the ability to stuff the run like Chris Clemons does?  I mean, maybe Fisher cracks the defensive end rotation, but most of those 2005 guys are backups at best on the 2013 team.  I’ll tell you this much:  I’m starting Byron Maxwell over Marcus Trufant every day of the week.

***

In conclusion, the 2013 Seahawks are the better team.  You pit them against the 2005 Seahawks, one game, winner takes all, it’s the 2013 team by a comfortable margin.  2013’s defensive line might struggle to get pressure on the quarterback, and it’s 50/50 whether or not the 2005 team runs the ball well.  But, there’s no way 2005 is throwing all that well against 2013’s secondary.

For the record, nothing would bring me greater joy than to see Kam Chancellor knock the shit out of Jerramy Stevens.  I don’t even mean in any hypothetical matchup between these two teams.  I mean in real life.  Kam Chancellor hunts Jerramy Stevens down, wherever he’s living, and he fucks his shit up.  For real.

Your Seattle Seahawks Super Bowl XLVIII Roster

Assuming nothing changes between now and February 2nd, the following will be the 53 guys on the roster for The Big Game.

For the record, 32 of 53 were either drafted by the organization, or were undrafted rookie free agents.  They include the following:

  • Brandon Mebane – 2007 Draft
  • Red Bryant – 2008 Draft
  • Max Unger – 2009 Draft

2010 Draft

  • Russell Okung
  • Earl Thomas
  • Golden Tate
  • Walter Thurmond
  • Kam Chancellor

2011 Draft

  • James Carpenter
  • K.J. Wright
  • Richard Sherman
  • Byron Maxwell
  • Malcolm Smith
  • Doug Baldwin (undrafted)
  • Ricardo Lockette (undrafted)
  • Mike Morgan (undrafted)

2012 Draft

  • Bruce Irvin
  • Bobby Wagner
  • Russell Wilson
  • Robert Turbin
  • Jeremy Lane
  • J.R. Sweezy
  • Derrick Coleman (undrafted)
  • Jermaine Kearse (undrafted)
  • DeShawn Shead (undrafted)

2013 Draft

  • Christine Michael
  • Jordan Hill
  • Luke Willson
  • Michael Bowie
  • Alvin Bailey (undrafted)
  • Caylin Hauptmann (undrafted)
  • Benson Mayowa (undrafted)

Of course, this list doesn’t include guys on the Injured Reserve or P.U.P. lists.  This is just the 53 players eligible to play on Super Bowl Sunday.

By the way, would you look at that 2010 draft again?  Holy SHIT!  Three Pro Bowlers, a starting wide receiver, and your nickel cornerback.  In fact, if you look at those first three drafts by John Schneider and Pete Carroll, you’ve got 12 of your 22 starters (sometimes 13, depending on whether Carpenter gets the nod over McQuistan or Bowie), with guys like Thurmond, Smith, Lane, Kearse, and Turbin playing quality minutes.  Just amazing.

Of course, your three elder statesmen are Mebane, Bryant, and Unger, the only three draft picks the team has retained from the pre-Carroll/Schneider Era.

Next up, you’ve got your guys acquired in trade:

  • Chris Clemons (3/16/2010 – with a 4th round pick from Philly for Darryl Tapp)
  • Marshawn Lynch (10/5/2010 – from Buffalo for 4th round pick in 2011 & 5th round pick in 2012)
  • Clinton McDonald (8/29/2011 – from Cincinnati for Kelly Jennings)
  • Percy Harvin (3/11/2013 – from Minnesota for 1st & 7th round picks in 2013 & 3rd round pick in 2014)

Aside from the Harvin trade (which I contend the jury is still out on), I can’t tell which trade worked out best for the Seahawks.  In McDonald, we got a steady rotational inside presence on the D-Line (AND we got rid of a liability in our secondary, for a 2-birds/1-stone type of deal).  In Clemons, we got a guy who averaged double-digit sacks in his first three seasons with the Seahawks.  And, in Lynch, we got an elite, every-down running back.  It’s an embarrassment of riches!  Trading with John Schneider should come with a Surgeon General’s Warning, because it’s seriously bad for your health.

Up next, we have the guys signed as free agents (or claimed off of waivers, denoted with ***):

  • Jon Ryan – 9/9/2008

The only free agent signed prior to the Schneider/Carroll regime still on the team.

  • Clint Gresham – 8/1/2010
  • Michael Robinson – 9/6/2010 (then cut & re-signed 10/22/2013)
  • Lemuel Jeanpierre – 9/6/2010
  • Breno Giacomini – 9/28/2010

Members of the 2010 team, we’ve got our long-snapper, our starting fullback, our backup center, and our starting right tackle.

  • Paul McQuistan – 1/28/2011
  • Tarvaris Jackson – 7/29/2011 (then traded & re-signed 6/14/2013)
  • Zach Miller – 8/3/2011
  • Steven Hauschka – 9/4/2011 ***
  • Chris Maragos – 9/22/2011
  • Heath Farwell – 10/19/2011

Members of the 2011 team, we’ve got our sometimes-starting left guard, our backup quarterback, our starting tight end, our kicker, and two special teams standouts in Maragos & Farwell.

  • Bryan Walters – 12/20/2012
  • Cliff Avril – 3/13/2013
  • Michael Bennett – 3/15/2013
  • Tony McDaniel – 3/28/2013
  • O’Brien Schofield – 7/27/2013 ***
  • Kellen Davis – 9/11/2013

No big free agents left over from the 2012 team (Walters was a practice squad player when he signed originally).  A lot of pieces were already in place by the time we got to our current team, but there is no more important stretch of days (aside from a couple of the drafts, of course) than those two weeks in March when we signed Avril, Bennett, and McDaniel.  Mother of God!  Essentially, you’ve got our pass-rush unit right there in those three guys.  All made possible thanks to our quarterback earning well under a million dollars.

Add ’em all up, and you’ve got your 53-man roster.  Probably the deepest roster in the league.  And if you line ’em all up, our starters look something like this:

  • WR – Golden Tate – Drafted
  • LT – Russell Okung – Drafted
  • LG – James Carpenter – Drafted
  • C – Max Unger – Drafted
  • RG – J.R. Sweezy – Drafted
  • RT – Breno Giacomini – Free Agent
  • TE – Zach Miller – Free Agent
  • WR – Doug Baldwin – Undrafted Rookie Free Agent
  • QB – Russell Wilson – Drafted
  • FB – Michael Robinson – Free Agent
  • RB – Marshawn Lynch – Trade

In our base, 12 offense (1 tight end, 2 backs), you’ve got mostly draft picks/rookie free agents (7 of 11).  In our 21 offense (2 tight ends, 1 back), you’ve got 8 of 11.  In our 11 (1 tight end, 1 back) offense (assuming Harvin is playing), we’re back to 7 of 11.  When we go 4-wides, it’s back up to 8 of 11.

Now, for the defense:

  • DE – Chris Clemons – Trade
  • DT – Brandon Mebane – Drafted
  • DT – Tony McDaniel – Free Agent
  • DE – Red Bryant – Drafted
  • SAM – Bruce Irvin – Drafted
  • MIKE – Bobby Wagner – Drafted
  • WILL – K.J. Wright – Drafted
  • CB – Byron Maxwell – Drafted
  • SS – Kam Chancellor – Drafted
  • FS – Earl Thomas – Drafted
  • CB – Richard Sherman – Drafted

That’s a whopping 9 of 11 in our base defense that we drafted!  Incredible!  Reserves who get frequent playing time are Malcolm Smith, Walter Thurmond, and Jeremy Lane – all drafted.  When we get into our Nascar package, that’s when the number starts to go down (with a line consisting of Avril, Bennett, McDonald, and Clemons).  But, even with that lineup, we’re still talking about 7 of 11 guys who were drafted.

This is how it’s done, people!  Soak it in!  I know we’re not used to having a hyper-competent general manager, but this is what it looks like.  You couldn’t cherry-pick a roster more effective and complete than this one (within the constraints of the salary cap, of course).  Just an overall amazing feat, and it happened (predominantly) in four short years!