SEARCH: Seahawks OTAs 53-Man Roster Projections 2019

For as mediocre as I’ve been decrying the Seahawks’ defensive line heading into this season, there’s actually a pretty interesting battle going on. While this team lacks star power – particularly in the pass rush – there’s tremendous depth across the entirety of the front seven. You could argue – aside from Bobby Wagner and Jarran Reed – that it’s ALL depth, but that’s neither here nor there.

The rest of the roster shakes out pretty easily, but I cannot stress this enough: doing a 53-man roster projection in the middle of June is as worthless as it gets. I can’t even describe how wrong I’m going to be by the time Week 1 rolls around; there will be countless injuries and a number of players who make the team that aren’t even on the roster right now!

But, based on the players we have today, here are my thoughts:

Quarterbacks

  • Russell Wilson
  • Geno Smith

This feels like the easiest of the non-Special Teams specialist spots to predict. Paxton Lynch just isn’t an NFL quarterback, period. The only reason he’s here is because he’s tall and a former first round pick. Not that Geno Smith is any great shakes, but at least he’s started; he’s taken the more traditional route to being a career backup.

Running Backs

  • Chris Carson
  • Rashaad Penny
  • Travis Homer
  • C.J. Prosise
  • J.D. McKissic

Already, I don’t feel great about my prediction. If you’d asked me coming out of 2018, I would’ve GUARANTEED that this team takes one of either Prosise or McKissic, but not both. But, I’m just not super sold on the back-end of this group. If Prosise continues to ball out like he’s been doing during these OTAs, I don’t think there’s any way this team can just cut him for nothing. The guys I left off the roster are guys I feel like will be available on the scrap heap if the need arises. The only monkey wrench is the fullback, Nick Bellore. We all know the team likes to run a lot, and having a competent fullback is always a Pete Carroll desire. If he makes the team, probably cross off one of Prosise or McKissic.

Tight Ends

  • Ed Dickson
  • Nick Vannett
  • Will Dissly
  • Jacob Hollister

I don’t have a real strong belief that the team is going to keep four tight ends PLUS George Fant, but I don’t know where the cut comes from! Dickson was our best tight end when he was healthy in 2018, and is our most veteran all-around player at the position. But, at the same time, there is money to be saved by cutting him. Vannett has continued to improve year to year and had sort of a mini-breakout last year (particularly in the endzone). But, at the same time, he’s on the last year of his rookie deal, and I don’t know if he brings anything to the table that’s super special. Dissly looks like a stud, so if he’s healthy by the time the regular season starts, he’s a lock. I think the other lock is Hollister, and not just because we traded for him; clearly based on our history, we have no quibbles with cutting guys we’ve traded for. He sounds like a super stud on special teams and a guy we’d like to hang onto for a while.

Wide Receivers

  • Tyler Lockett
  • D.K. Metcalf
  • David Moore
  • Jaron Brown
  • Keenan Reynolds

Lockett, Metcalf, and Moore are all locks, assuming they stay healthy. I think Brown is about as close to a lock as possible, considering there isn’t a ton of veteran presence in this room. Finally, I think we only hang onto 5 receivers due to the need to have a 4th tight end. With that in mind, the fifth receiver spot is going to be a HUGE battle. I know there’s a prevailing thought that the Seahawks just HAVE to keep all of their rookie drafted receivers, but unless they prove to be special – and healthy – the Seahawks have no problem cutting them and stashing them on the practice squad. For starters, I don’t expect both Jennings and Ursua to be healthy throughout Training Camp; if they are, then we’re having a different discussion. But, in reality, I think the final receiver spot is going to go to one of those two guys or Keenan Reynolds, and I’m giving Reynolds the advantage based on his being in the system for a full year, and actually seeing some playing time last year. With his experience, and his Baldwin-esque build and skillset, I think he’s perfect to slide right into that dependable slot receiver role.

Offensive Line

  • Duane Brown
  • Mike Iupati
  • Justin Britt
  • D.J. Fluker
  • Germain Ifedi
  • Ethan Pocic
  • Jordan Simmons
  • George Fant
  • Jamarco Jones

I’m pretty secure in this prediction. The only way it changes is if there are injuries. Look for Joey Hunt or Phil Haynes to maybe sneak in there if there are any surprises to the core nine I’ve listed above.

Punter/Kicker/Long Snapper

  • Michael Dickson
  • Jason Myers
  • Tyler Ott

Enough said.

Secondary

  • Shaquill Griffin
  • Tre Flowers
  • Akeem King
  • Neiko Thorpe
  • Jeremy Boykins
  • Tedric Thompson
  • Bradley McDougald
  • Ugo Amadi
  • Marquise Blair
  • Delano Hill

I’m not super sold on Boykins. Amadi is also not totally a lock, but Boykins is really just a stab in the dark. I think, if it comes down to a young guy and a veteran, this team keeps the young guy. Boykins was here last year, so he has a leg up, but whatever. This post isn’t really about the secondary.

Defensive Line

  • Ziggy Ansah
  • L.J. Collier
  • Rasheem Green
  • Jacob Martin
  • Jarran Reed
  • Poona Ford
  • Al Woods
  • Quinton Jefferson

Linebackers

  • Bobby Wagner
  • K.J. Wright
  • Cody Barton
  • Ben Burr-Kirven
  • Mychal Kendricks

Linebacker/Ends

  • Shaquem Griffin
  • Barkevious Mingo

You kinda gotta lump all these guys together, because there’s a lot of crossover. I’m pretty secure in my prediction of the 8 linemen and 5 linebackers I’ve listed above. But, just as there will be an interesting battle among the final wide receivers, I think there’s going to be a tremendous battle among the SAM linebackers/defensive ends we’ve got on this roster. I mean, just look at the list of guys I’ve left off of this team:

  • Branden Jackson
  • Cassius Marsh
  • Demarcus Christmas
  • Naz Jones
  • Austin Calitro
  • Jamie Meder

For what it’s worth, I think Christmas is a guy we can stash on the Practice Squad. Jackson is a guy who has hung around for a few years that I know the team likes, but he isn’t really elite at anything. Naz Jones was a healthy scratch for a lot of weeks last year and it appears his time has run out with the Seahawks if he doesn’t seriously flash in Training Camp. Meder is a veteran, but hasn’t really done anything in his career.

The two hardest cuts for me were Marsh and Calitro. Marsh is such an ace at Special Teams, that it wouldn’t surprise me if the team finds a way to keep him. But, he’s essentially a journeyman at this point, so he probably only makes the team if there are injuries at defensive end. He feels like Ansah insurance, which brings me zero comfort. Calitro, on the other hand, was a rookie last year who I thought played pretty well in an injury-ravaged unit. It’s hard for me to see him go, but he’s not really playing the same position as Griffin or Mingo. He’s more of a backup to Wagner/Wright, which they went out and drafted in BBK and Cody Barton. If the team liked Calitro so much, would they have used two moderately high draft picks on guys who can easily replace him? At this point, Barton sounds like he’s a stud, and the guy putting the final nail in Calitro’s coffin.

All of that having been said, I don’t think Griffin or Mingo are locks by any stretch of the imagination. While both are being used in pass rush situations, neither have really excelled at the professional level at that job. Nevertheless, both seem like pretty key guys to our Special Teams, which is why I have them making the 53-man roster. If it comes down to Special Teams or Pass Rush, and the team feels it needs more help with the latter, then don’t be surprised if Marsh takes the spot of Mingo (I can’t imagine the team keeps both Marsh AND Mingo in lieu of waiving Griffin, because why wouldn’t you keep the cost-controlled guy with upside?).

I’m telling you, I’m utterly fascinated with how this whole portion of the team is going to shake out. I’ll be out of town for the entirety of the Pre-Season, which is kind of a bummer, but it’ll still be interesting to follow from afar.

The Seahawks Haven’t Changed One Bit

When it’s all said and done, when Pete Carroll and John Schneider move on and Russell Wilson is retired or clinging to life with another franchise, it’ll be interesting to look back on this era of Seahawks football. We’re heading into the tenth season with the same regime – the eighth with Wilson at quarterback – and already it feels like forever in NFL terms.

So long, in fact, that it feels like there have been multiple phases within this one overarching Seahawks Cinematic Universe under Carroll & Schneider.

  • 2010-2012 – Building A Champion
  • 2013-2016 – Championship Contenders
  • 2017-Present – The Great Re-Build

But, in reality, we’re talking about one long, sustained period of greatness. Sure, in 2010 we were coming off of one of the worst years in franchise history, and that team (as well as 2011) only won 7 games. But, it was good enough for a division title and a playoff victory. Indeed, in the last nine years, the Seahawks have made the playoffs seven times and won the division three times (to go along with the two Super Bowl appearances and the one title). It’s actually pretty remarkable how quickly Schneider and Carroll were able to turn things around. The 2010 team was far from great, but it was leaps and bounds better than 2009; and while we failed to make the playoffs in 2011, I would argue that team was even better.

As this is a time of year, generally, where we focus on the draft that was, it’s interesting to take a look back at that as well. The 2010 draft was a real anomaly for this team. We had two high first round draft picks and actually used them on PLAYERS, as opposed to trading down and racking up a bunch of bites at the apple. While the year-to-year strategies have evolved, the overall vision for the team has never wavered: Build Through The Draft.

What’s the best way to build a championship contender? That’s the question we keep asking ourselves, to be answered in wordy, meandering thinkpieces such as this one you’re reading right now. There are lots of different answers, but they all harken back to the same thing: the draft. You gotta get lucky in the draft and hit upon a bunch of stars at a variety of positions (almost always including quarterback). Having a cheap, cost-controlled core, supplemented with a smattering of talented, expensive veterans, is generally the way to go.

You could argue that the Seahawks got away from that ethos a little bit from 2013-2016, with a number of questionable trades and free agent signings that we don’t need to rehash again here. But, I would argue that the ethos never changed, but our luck in the draft ultimately failed us.

You could also argue that the Seahawks have changed in what they prioritize. In the last couple years, as Bevell and Cable were fired after not being able to properly utilize the talent they were given (Bevell, in his use of Percy Harvin and Jimmy Graham) and not being able to formulate a competent offensive line on the cheap (Cable, with his struggles from 2015-2017), there’s been a clear shift in where the money has been spent. This is the NFL, so what do I always say? There’s only so much money to go around, and you can’t pay everyone. That was ultimately Seattle’s downfall following the 2014 season. But, what probably doesn’t get said enough about the NFL is that you have to constantly strive to get younger. This team was stacked with world-beaters from 2012-2014 and we looked like an unstoppable juggernaut; less than a decade later, maybe three guys remain? With the snap of a finger, this team got old, this team got injured, and this team desperately needed an infusion of young blood.

But, the strategy all along, starting in 2010, was to save money where you felt you were strongest, from a coaching and scouting perspective. In Tom Cable’s tenure here, that meant going cheap on the O-Line (relatively speaking). Sure, Max Unger got himself a second contract, and Russell Okung was making high first round draft pick money (pre-CBA, where the money was good and inflated), but around them the Seahawks filled in with young guys and castoffs from other teams. Converted defensive tackles, converted tight ends, and the like. As those talented (and expensive) linemen started to move on, the Seahawks tried doubling down on that strategy by going even younger, even cheaper, even more castoffy. Culminating in a 2017 team where the leading rusher was the quarterback and the team had only one touchdown by a designated running back. That followed a 2016 season where Wilson played injured throughout because that same O-Line couldn’t protect him for shit.

Of course, we justified that form of team building by pointing to all the other areas making money at the top of the market. Quarterback, cornerback, safety, linebacker, defensive line, even running back for a spell while Lynch was still here. Something had to give. We trusted Cable, and it turned out to be a mistake.

In learning from that mistake, Cable is gone, and now the Seahawks are paying significant money on the O-Line again. Duane Brown, for an aging veteran, is making a pretty penny. Justin Britt was among the top centers in the game from a salary perspective when he signed his second deal. Ifedi is a first rounder entering the final year of his rookie deal and looks like a contender for a big contract (elsewhere, most likely). Fluker got a nice bump in pay after a 2018 prove-it performance. And, more draft picks have been utilized on this group than any other during Schneider’s time here.

But, things haven’t necessarily gotten much better from a salary cap perspective. Russell Wilson is the top of the quarterback market. Bobby Wagner is looking to reclaim the top middle linebacker spot. There’s a smattering of highly paid guys here and there, except for one group that ranks among the cheapest in the league: the secondary.

This jives with the team’s M.O. all along. Instead of banking on a supposed guru of an O-Line coach, the team is relying on their ability to draft and coach up cornerbacks and safeties. I would argue the gambit is just as risky. Especially in a year where, as I noted yesterday, the pass rush isn’t really up to snuff.

Back when the team was cheaping out on the O-Line, I could defend the logic because our quarterback was one of the better runners in the league, and proved that his elusiveness was an asset as he’s one of the better passers outside the pocket. But, over time, Wilson has shown to be an even more lethal pocket passer, and so creating an actual POCKET became more important. Having him play through a number of injuries in 2016 was the final nail in the coffin, and when the line still struggled in 2017, something drastic needed to be done.

Now, with Wilson entering his 30’s, priorities change. It makes zero sense to cheap out on the O-Line because he’s only going to get slower and easier to tackle as he gets older. But, even if he was his younger, spry self, my thinking on this topic has evolved once again.

The three areas where I would argue you not only SHOULD go with younger, cheaper options, but it would be criminally negligent for you to spend significant dollars, are linebacker, running back, and tight end. Which is why I’m loathe to make Bobby Wagner the highest paid inside linebacker in football (the counter to my reservations is that he’s Bobby Fucking Wagner and he literally IS the best inside linebacker in football, and the drop-off from him to a younger guy would decimate this defense). After those three spots, I would argue the next place a team should go cheap is the secondary.

I know that’s sacrilege, what with the Legion of Boom’s popularity around these parts, but it’s true. And it makes sense, if you think about it, more than it does the O-Line. With the way the college game is going, fewer and fewer offensive linemen are coming straight to the league and being productive starters right away. Those guys need to be coached up (as you’ve seen from the litany of ex-Seahawks who’ve gotten paid elsewhere, from Carpenter to Sweezy to Glowinski to soon-to-be Ifedi). With apologies to the L.O.B., however, with the secondary you need better athletes and a quality scheme. Offensive linemen tend to age like a fine wine; cornerbacks and safeties tend to start losing a step as they approach their Age 30 seasons. By the time they get to their second and third contracts, they’re already not really worth it. Unless they’re bona fide Hall of Famers like Earl Thomas and Richard Sherman. But, those guys don’t grow on trees.

My point is, I’d rather have a reliable offensive line and a huge question mark in the secondary, than the other way around. Now, ideally, you’d find a way to mask your team’s weakness (by, for instance, getting after the opposing team’s quarterback on a regular basis), but if there’ one area on the Seahawks I’d put my money on it improving dramatically from year to year, it would be with the secondary. Because of that track record with drafting and coaching guys up.

The secondary is young, it’s hungry, and maybe most importantly, it’s healthy. Flowers and Griffin look like solid starters. McDougald has already proven himself capable at either safety spot. Thompson and Hill are in their third years (second seasons as regular players on defense) and the team brought in a couple more defensive backs in this last draft to battle for jobs. It’s not out of the question for this weakness to actually be a strength when it’s all said and done.

Of course, even top notch secondaries can get burned by a lack of a pass rush.

The Most Indefensibly Bad Seahawks Draft Pick Of The John Schneider Era

In the wake of the 2019 NFL Draft, the world at large has run through just about everything you can talk about, so we ultimately turn to manufactured arguments. On the Brock & Salk show recently, they were talking about (I don’t remember specifically) the worst Seahawks draft picks of the Schneider/Carroll era. It might have actually been the worst first player selected in each draft, but my mind immediately went to one player.

Before we get to that, I should back up and mention that every team has bad draft picks under their belts. I’m not picking on the Seahawks because I think they’re bad drafters; on the contrary, I think this crew is very GOOD at drafting. Yes, they often find themselves “reaching” in the eyes of the experts, and they go out of their way to trade down (and even out of the first round) to acquire extra picks later on. But, I believe this front office more than any other (except maybe the Patriots) finds the best value in later rounds to round out its roster with quality players.

Beyond that, the Seahawks do an excellent job of blending Best Player Available with Team Needs. You’re not going to see this team draft a quarterback in the top half of the draft because that would be a waste; if you ever do see that, you’d know that player is probably someone who fell further than they should and bank on him being destined for greatness. Those players experts cite as a “reach” are more often than not guys the coaches are able to build up into effective starters. There’s a method to the Seahawks’ madness that keeps this train a rollin’.

If you had to narrow down the absolute WORST pick this group has made, I think you have to start with guys who’ve never played a single down in the NFL. There have been a handful (certainly more than I remembered before I started writing this post), with the worst of the bunch being the guys who cost us the highest draft capital:

  • Mark LeGree (2011, 5th round)
  • Jared Smith (2013, 7th round)
  • Jesse Williams (2013, 5th round)
  • Jimmy Staten (2014, 5th round)
  • Garrett Scott (2014, 6th round)
  • Terry Poole (2015, 4th round)
  • Zac Brooks (2016, 7th round)
  • Kenny Lawler (2016, 7th round)
  • Justin Senior (2017, 7th round)
  • Malik McDowell (2017, 2nd round)

It’s not fair to go beyond the 2017 draft, although Alex McGough spent all of 2018 on the Practice Squad before jumping ship to the Jags, where you have to believe he’ll at least get a shot at some serious playing time as a backup (that Brett Hundley deal continuing to pay whatever the opposite of dividends are). Of that ignominious group I listed above, I completely understand the urge to say, “Malik McDowell is the worst Seahawks draft pick of all time,” and call this post a day.

There is a GREAT argument behind that sentiment. He was a 2nd round pick, and the first pick of our 2017 draft (after trading out of the first round). He was brought in with the thought process that he’d play right away in a rotation that featured Michael Bennett, Frank Clark, Cliff Avril, and Jarran Reed, among others. You could play McDowell on the outside on base downs, and bring him inside on passing downs, while allowing him to learn behind some all-time greats. Then, presumably, when the season was up, the team could move on from the likes of Avril and Bennett, and McDowell would’ve had a full year’s worth of experience under his belt to move into one of the starting roles.

We all know what happened instead: McDowell got injured before Training Camp even started, Avril was out of fooball a month into the season, Bennett was still in peak form (though just starting his slide; he’d be traded after the season), and we had to make that awful trade for Sheldon Richardson (who had very little impact on the field, and cost us yet ANOTHER second round pick, this time in the 2018 draft). So, not only did McDowell not produce for us, but he actively crippled this franchise for the next three years (we’re still being hurt by this deal, as we’ve had to spend high picks in the last two drafts – and probably another one next year – to fill the pass rushing void).

But, that’s not the premise of this post. Yes, the selection of McDowell was atrocious, but it is wholly defensible.

The argument against that has to do with him being a knucklehead who crashed on an ATV and broke his skull, but I mean, come on. Who could reasonably predict that? The knock against him heading into the 2017 draft was that he wasn’t necessarily the hardest worker in college. He took downs/games off. The talent was there, when he wanted it to be, and that’s why a high first round talent fell into the second round. If you want to be mad at anything, be mad at the fact that the team traded out of the first round in the first place; that’s the REAL crime here. But, there’s a lot we don’t know. Maybe the defensive lineman we liked was already taken, so it made sense to trade down and get more picks. You also have to factor in the players we were able to draft because of those trades, of which there are a number of contributors (including Tedric Thompson, Delano Hill, and Chris Carson).

Regardless, the reasoning behind taking McDowell was sound. And, for that reason, I have a hard time placing too much blame on a front office that was struck by some of the worst luck you can imagine. If he wasn’t an idiot, we might be talking about an integral part of this year’s defense right now. We were able to turn Frank Clark around after a suspect college career, it’s not crazy to imagine we could’ve turned McDowell around if we’d actually gotten him into the program.

If you wanted to go away from these types of players who made zero positive impact on the club, you could talk about guys who the Seahawks DID play, and who were actively terrible (arguably providing a net-negative value by virture of their performances on the field). This would include guys like:

  • James Carpenter (2011, 1st round)
  • John Moffitt (2011, 3rd round)
  • Mark Glowinski (2015, 4th round)
  • Germain Ifedi (2016, 1st round)
  • Rees Odhiambo (2016, 3rd round)
  • Ethan Pocic (2017, 2nd round)

Some of these aren’t totally fair. Carpenter was a first round reach, no doubt about it, and it took this team a couple years before they finally figured out where his best fit was on the line. But, once he got past some injury issues and settled in, he’s made a nice career for himself (his last year in Seattle was pretty good, but mostly he’s been a workhorse elsewhere). Glowinski also was a dud in Seattle, though he’s been pretty solid in Indy (and just earned a nice little raise this offseason). Moffitt was an outright bust, in every sense of the word, and a total misfire of a 3rd rounder. Odhiambo has been pretty awful (though, again, I’d argue he’s been thrust into roles he’s not suited for, like left tackle – before we brought in Duane Brown – thanks to injuries and poor planning). Ifedi has been this fanbase’s whipping boy from day one, though his 2018 season was a huge step in the right direction (I would bet some other team pays him a pretty penny once he leaves after the 2019 season); and Pocic has been my own personal whipping boy nearly every time he’s seen the field in his short professional career.

I don’t think these guys really qualify as the most indefensibly bad pick of this era, so much as it simply being indefensible that this team left Tom Cable in charge for as long as they did, when he was better at molding crappy players into eventual quality starters for OTHER teams. A guy like Cable is fine if you have all the time in the world to develop diamonds in the rough; but this team was going cheap on its O-Line (to pay stars at other positions) and needed guys to step in RIGHT AWAY; in that sense, you get what you pay for. The defense behind picking these guys is simple: there’s always a need for offensive linemen, and the Seahawks took more swings at this than anyone else in football. The sad fact is that we simply swung and MISSED more than anyone else, which is why this team fell apart after its Super Bowl run.

All of this is preamble for what I’m going to tell you is, without a doubt, the worst and most indefensible draft pick of the John Schneider era:

  • Christine Michael

We were coming off of an all-time great run of drafts, not just for the Seahawks, but for any team in NFL history. You can’t rehash this enough, and I’m more than happy to go over it with you:

  • Russell Okung – 2010
  • Earl Thomas – 2010
  • Golden Tate – 2010
  • Walter Thurmond – 2010
  • Kam Chancellor – 2010
  • James Carpenter – 2011
  • K.J. Wright – 2011
  • Richard Sherman – 2011
  • Byron Maxwell – 2011
  • Malcolm Smith – 2011
  • Doug Baldwin – 2011 (undrafted)
  • Brandon Browner – 2011 (undrafted)
  • Ricardo Lockette – 2011 (undrafted)
  • Bruce Irvin – 2012
  • Bobby Wagner – 2012
  • Russell Wilson – 2012
  • Robert Turbin – 2012
  • Jaye Howard – 2012
  • Jeremy Lane – 2012
  • J.R. Sweezy – 2012
  • Jermaine Kearse – 2012 (undrafted)

That’s just clinically insane. So many All Pros and Pro Bowlers and starters and role players just in that group alone, who contributed to this team’s championship run in 2013. You could easily say this group was playing with house money.

So much of it, in fact, that we traded the farm (including our 2013 first rounder) to acquire Percy Harvin.

You could also argue that the 2013 NFL Draft was one of the worst of all time. Bust after bust after bust among this group; teams even in the top third of the FIRST round couldn’t count on drafting anyone worth a damn; so why am I all up in arms about a second rounder?

Because, motherfucker!

We as Seahawks fans are used to saying, “HUH?” whenever we see who this team ends up picking. In the early going – particularly in 2012 – we were made to look the fool at this way of thinking, as those guys ended up being some of the best players we’ve ever seen. We have that reaction because the guys the Seahawks take aren’t the guys the national pundits spend all offseason talking about. We don’t KNOW those guys; we know other guys who we think are better, but they might not necessarily be good fits for this team. But, at the very least, we could always rationalize WHY the Seahawks took the guys they’ve taken. There are always clear needs, and the Seahawks tend to focus in on those needs just like the rest of us.

As I mentioned before, the 2013 Seahawks were playing with house money. This was a team – in 2012, particularly in the last month of the regular season, on into the postseason – that was already a Super Bowl contender, as is. A bad start in Atlanta in the Divisional Round prevented us from what could’ve been back-to-back-to-back NFC Championship Games and even possibly back-to-back-to-back Super Bowl appearances. No team in December 2012 was playing as well as the Seattle Seahawks – including the eventual NFL Champion 49ers, who we clobbered in that closing stretch – so that 2013 NFL Draft was wide open to do what this team has never been able to do: really go after the Best Player Available.

Think about it, that team had NO HOLES. We were stacked from top to bottom, and as deep as any team in the league has ever been. We CUT guys who would go on to Pro Bowls for other teams, simply because there wasn’t room for them on our 53-man roster!

And yet, as we all know, no team is without holes. We could’ve filled in around the margins; maybe gone after Travis Kelce (taken with the very next pick; can you imagine? Never having to endure the Jimmy Graham debacle?), or the Honey Badger, or Keenan Allen, or any number of third rounders in that draft who are still kicking around the league. Instead, we picked Christine Michael.

And, for the first – and really only time that I can remember – Seahawks fans all said, “HUH?” not because we didn’t know the guy, but because we didn’t know WHY in the FUCK the Seahawks – with inarguably the best running back in all of football – drafted a third running back.

Remember, this team had Robert Turbin from the 2012 draft. While he never developed into a superstar, he was more than fine as a backup. A nice change of pace, someone who took care of the ball and could spell our starter, someone with good hands out in space and fit our zone blocking scheme to a T. Maybe in a different universe, Turbin could’ve been a 1,000-yard back somewhere! When he left Seattle, he succumbed to injuries that kept him from really breaking out, but you never know.

What we DO know is that Marshawn Lynch was Beastmode, and 2012/2013 was right smack dab in the middle of his PRIME! I mean, this seriously made no sense. It was as if the team was trying to push out the best player on its offense for no good God damned reason!

And maybe that was the plan. All I know was that there wasn’t any serious inkling of Lynch retiring, or otherwise leaving the organization at that time. In an ideal universe, maybe Michael sits as the third stringer his rookie year, then takes over in Year Two. But, obviously, we know how things really shook out. Lynch had two of this three best seasons in 2013 & 2014; he was FAR from done! So far, in fact, that the team signed him to an extension in 2015 (which, of course, immediately preceeded him getting injured, then retiring, then being traded to the Raiders for a nice Oakland swan song).

Meanwhile, Michael was terrible, both on and off the field. He didn’t work on his craft, he didn’t have that will to be great; I guess the best thing you can say is that he didn’t get into trouble off the field. But, even in college people questioned his work ethic, hence (again) why a first round talent fell to the bottom of the second round.

Christine Michael was the total antithesis of what the Seahawks sought out in their players under Pete Carroll and John Schneider. And yet, here we were, blowing our first pick on this guy, where there was absolutely no need whatsoever.

There’s no defending the Christine Michael pick, which makes it the most indefensibly bad pick of the John Schneider era.

The Seahawks Signed A Kicker, Earl Thomas Signed With Baltimore, And Other Stuff Happened

I didn’t really intend on writing a new Seahawks Free Agency Tracker post every single day this week, but shit happens (specifically in the NFL, and specifically not in the other major sports).

Remember when the Seahawks had a 2018 kicking competition between Jason Myers and Sebastian Janikowski? Remember when both players were about the same through the first however many weeks of the pre-season, and I argued that the Seahawks should keep the younger, cheaper guy over the fucking 40 year old, if all things were equal? Remember how the Seahawks opted to keep the fucking 40 year old while Myers signed on with the Jets and made the AFC’s Pro Bowl team?

Well, Janikowski’s gone – felled by an injury in his final game – and Myers is back, only this time on a 4-year deal worth upwards of $4 million per year. Considering Myers was destined to be a free agent either way, and since we weren’t one mediocre kicker away from winning a Super Bowl, I guess you could say the decision Pete Carroll made last year isn’t the WORST move he’s ever made. But, we could’ve saved a lot of time and agita if we’d just done the right thing the first time.

What sucks, obviously, is the cost. No more going cheap on the placekicker, which I suppose is a smart thing to do, but is Myers worth the investment? His three seasons with Jacksonville revealed a booming leg with plenty of flaws. While his lone season with the Jets is promising – 33/36, including 6/7 from 50+ – was it a fluke? Kickers, like relievers in baseball, tend to be pretty volatile from year to year. On top of that, it’s not like we have a good handle on how he’d perform in the thick marine air of Seattle. At least, you’d think, he faced his fair share of elements kicking in New York, but we’ll see how good he is on the west coast.

Ultimately, this looks like an upgrade over 2018, which is really all I’m asking for out of this offseason. Improve at as many spots as possible, and let’s get this Wild Card team into a playoff BYE week situation!

***

In other news, Earl Thomas signed a 4-year, $55 million deal with the Baltimore Ravens. Obviously, this is good for him – as he gets considerably more than I would’ve given him, and more than the Seahawks were willing to fork over – and probably good for the Ravens. I’m just not a believer in the passing ability of Lamar Jackson, and don’t think they’re a viable Super Bowl contender with him being mostly a running back; but at least their defense is jacked. Maybe they can pull off a Trent Dilfer 2.0 thing, if indeed their D is dominant enough.

Pierre Desir found a home in Indianapolis recently, and this off-season they rewarded him with a 3-year extension. Pretty good for a guy who’s built in the Seahawks Cornerback mold, and a guy we discovered first. Look at the league getting fat off our sloppy seconds!

Mychal Kendricks looks like he’s coming back on a $4 million deal; that’s exciting! It’s, of course, contingent on him being able to play football and not wallowing in prison, so fingers crossed. If it works out, it’ll be a serious boost to our linebacker room.

A room that got a little fuller with the re-signing of K.J. Wright. This just came down the pike this morning. I have to believe it’s a low-guarantee deal with lots of incentives based on number of games played. In total, I can’t imagine the max value is all that high, but I guess we’ll see. I would think given his age, his recent injury history, and the market for outside non-pass-rusher linebackers, that there weren’t a TON of teams lining up for the Pro Bowler, regardless of how good he is in coverage.

I read that George Fant was given a 2nd round tender, which makes literally all the sense in the world. I read a blog somewhere that opined he wouldn’t be tendered at all, or if he was, it would be an original round (i.e. the lowest one, with no draft pick compensation, since he was undrafted), but that was asinine. If anything, I wondered if we’d place a 1st rounder on him, but this feels more appropriate. It’s win-win for the Seahawks. Either he stays, and our O-line depth gets a boost, or some team blows him away with a deal and gives us a 2nd round draft pick in compensation. Honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s what the Seahawks were angling for all along with this move. With three starting-calibre offensive tackles on the roster, you’d think we’d opt for the draft capital.

Finally, a little OOOOOLLLLLDDDDD Seahawks news: Brandon Mebane re-upped with the Chargers for two more years. As the oldest-drafted Seahawk (2007), he’s 34 years old and still going strong. Good for him! I’m glad to see some of these old timers still holding it down. Old.

Keeping An Eye On Seahawks-Related Free Agents

The moves are coming fast and furiously, so here’s a quick breakdown of any Seahawks-related signings to date, as well as where certain ex-Seahawks are now calling home.

Mike Davis just signed a 2-year, $6 million deal with the Bears, which feels like a great move for him, a great move for that team, and a solid fantasy football sleeper for anyone who needs a quality all-around back to stash on their bench. The RB room in Seattle was too crowded as it is, and that’s money that can be better spent elsewhere, as far as I’m concerned.

Mark Glowinski isn’t really a RECENT ex-Seahawk, but he did just get extended for 3 years and $18 million with the Colts, which sort of sets part of the market for guards. Might that be something close to what Sweezy and/or Fluker will get? We’ll see.

Frank Clark was obviously franchise tagged recently, and now we play the waiting game. Will he be signed to an extension? Will he be traded? Will he play it out on a 1-year deal? Will he hold out of OTA’s and/or Training Camp and/or the pre-season and/or the regular season? Boy howdy, do I dread the rest of this nonsense.

Sheldon Richardson played a year with the Vikings, and now has signed a 3-year deal with the Browns, so his career is going great.

Shamar Stephen just signed to return to the Vikings on a 3-year, $12.45 million deal. At best, he made no real positive impact last year; at worst, he helped drag down this team’s run defense to its lowest depths in the Pete Carroll era. Nothing about his signing makes any sense, but more power to the Vikings, I guess.

The inside linebacker market has exploded this year, which doesn’t DIRECTLY involve any Seahawks-adjacent players, but indirectly sets the market for what Bobby Wagner will be demanding next year. So, that’s fantastic.

Justin Coleman made the biggest splash so far among the ex-Seahawks, signing in Detroit for 4 years and $36 million, in becoming the highest-paid nickel corner in football. The Lions are in the process of signing literally anyone who has ever even looked at a Patriots jersey, so it should only be a matter of time before they’re in the market for a new rub n’ tug joint in the Miami area.

No word on Earl Thomas yet (other than some rumors he’s headed to Cleveland), but a couple safeties have already signed their big-money deals, and there are plenty more available safeties where that came from. I’m seriously beginning to wonder if ET will get even close to the money he was banking on.

James Carpenter signed on with the Falcons for 4 years and $21 million. He’s made a nice chunk of change for himself after his rookie deal with the Seahawks expired lo those many years ago.

Much more closer to home is the news last night that J.R. Sweezy signed a 2-year deal with the Cardinals, so that’s a bummer. Money’s looking a little tigher around Seahawksland than once thought! I also guess this means one of the younger guys will be slated to step up into a starting role. This could get dicey.

Finally, before anything else happens, Brett Hundley signed a 1-year deal with the Cardinals to be their backup. He got $2 million for his trouble, which is obviously more than the Seahawks should be willing to pay (especially considering they already brought in Paxton Lynch). The fact that the Seahawks traded a 6th round pick for a guy who never played a snap for us is pretty galling to most fans out there. It’s not that we don’t understand the logic behind the move; it’s that we disagree with the logic employed. I’m with most other Seahawks fans out there: if Russell Wilson goes down for the season, then I want to tank AS HARD AS POSSIBLE. The fact that the people in charge don’t agree is troubling to say the least.

Seahawks Death Week: Looking Ahead

God, I’m glad this week is over and I can stop thinking about the Seahawks for a minute.

I’ve talked about our pending free agents, I’ve ranked all the holes the Seahawks need to fill in 2019 if we want to see a legitimate division champion, and I talked about all the holes we filled in 2018 that saw our team go from being projected as an 8-8 nothing to a top notch wild card team. So, this post is really just trying to bring all that together into a consensus What The Seahawks Need To Do In 2019.

To be honest, you could run this same offense back and I wouldn’t be mad. Keeping continuity on the offensive line would be of utmost importance. There’s really nothing much I’d change except maybe try to upgrade around the fringe. Your 3rd/4th running back, your 3rd/4th/5th wide receivers. Your 2nd quarterback, and so on. But, overall, I’m happy with the product I saw on the field, second Dallas game notwithstanding.

I think the bulk of the improvements need to come on the defensive end, with a nod to special teams.

As I’ve been harping on forever now, the run defense has to get better. It just has to. It’s my new “The O-Line Has To Get Better”, because it was seriously THAT BAD in 2018. I don’t know how Pete Carroll hasn’t been on the warpath about that since September (as only he can be on a warpath, anyway), because at no point has it been remotely okay. This week, the Seahawks fired pretty much everyone in the Strength & Conditioning squad of coaches which is pretty damning. I wonder if that has anything to do with this defect.

But, more than anything, the Seahawks just need more studs on the defensive side of the ball. Right now, there’s Bobby Wagner, Frank Clark, and Jarran Reed. That’s it. Tre Flowers and Shaquill Griffin are young and at this point it’s unknown whether they’ll be studs or just nice role players. Ideally, we’d be able to find another stud at safety, to go along with another stud pass rusher and maybe even a stud linebacker. I’m sorry, but I can’t get behind a mediocre Seahawks defense; it’s never going to feel right.

To go along with that, the Seahawks need to upgrade their depth to help out with Special Teams. It feels like I’ve been saying that every year since 2014 ended, but 2018 was the real nadir. I mean, when you have a weapon like an All Pro rookie punter, you’ve got to have some talented guys on coverage to get down there and make a play! I want SPEED! And, again, maybe firing the Strength & Conditioning guys plays a part in this. It’s not the firing of the Special Teams Coordinator – which is what I was calling for after that 49ers defeat – but it’s a start I suppose. That dude should be on thin fucking ice, though, I’ll tell you that.

Right now, the Seahawks are slated to draft 4 times in the 2019 NFL Draft. They will receive no compensatory picks. So, as it stands at the moment, we’re looing at:

  • Round 1 (21st overall)
  • Round 3
  • Round 4
  • Round 5

We’re down a 2nd rounder thanks to Jeremy Lane the Duane Brown trade. We’re down a 6th rounder thanks to a mind-boggling trade for Brett Hundley (who, you guessed it, played zero snaps in 2018 before becoming a free agent). We’re down a 7th rounder thanks to Shalom Luani, who is a safety we received from the Raiders who made 7 tackles this year. Neat.

Obviously, you know that’s not going to fly. The odds of the Seahawks staying and picking at 21 are 0.00%. I mean, MAYBE if their top player on the draft board fell to them, but that seems remote at best. Odds are, they trade that first rounder multiple times, to fill out the draft the way they like it. If I had to guess, I’d figure they maybe select twice in the second round, while picking up a couple 7th’s, a 6th, and maybe an extra 4th or 5th. Here’s hoping there’s a quarterback sitting at 21 that some needy team REALLY wants!

Without re-hashing all the needs again, I just want to see this team continue to build the way they’re capable of building. They had a fabulous 2018 Draft; another one in that area of quality would REALLY put us back on the map, just as teams like the Rams are going to find it harder and harder to hold on to their stars in a cash-strapped cap situation.

It wouldn’t shock me – assuming luck is on our side – to see that teeter-totter tilt toward our direction in 2019. If things go right this offseason, and the Rams come down to Earth a little bit (after what I’m expecting to be a deep playoff run this year), it’s certainly well within range to say the Seahawks could be NFC West Champs in 2019.

Seahawks Death Week Starts Both Earlier & Later Than Expected

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

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

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

Alas, what might’ve been …

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Paul Allen Passed Away

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Not Winners & Losers Of The Seahawks’ Game Vs The Rams

As crazy as it sounds, the Seahawks actually DIDN’T get obliterated!  You’re welcome, everyone!  The power of my reverse jinx knows no bounds!  But, I still get to be partially right, as the Rams took the lead in the 4th quarter and kept the Seahawks at bay when it mattered most.  With no time outs, under 2 minutes to go, the Rams dug deep and converted on a 4th & 1 quarterback sneak to ice it.  It’s the dictionary definition of a Moral Victory, as the Seahawks covered the spread and only lost 33-31.

What I’m Geeked Out About After Five Games

Let’s just call it the entire rushing game.  In what ostensibly turned into a shootout, the Seahawks still managed to run it 32 times for 190 yards and a TD.  That alone is VERY impressive, but what if I told you Russell Wilson accounted for none of it?  He didn’t even have a single carry!  No scrambles, no nothing!

Chris Carson led the way after missing last week with an injury.  He had 19 carries for 116 yards.  But, true to his word, Pete Carroll worked Mike Davis into the mix, who had 12 for 68 and that score.  Both of them were gashing the Rams left and right, which again comes back to the offensive line.  Dare I say it?  Is the Seahawks’ O-Line the best position group on this team?  Okay, I’ll buy it!  The best group isn’t on the defensive side of the ball, that’s for damn sure!

Other Things That Caught My Eye (In A Good Way)

I really liked Russell Wilson’s game.  I still think he needs to pull it on some of those zone read plays, but I also think he’s hiding an injury and is doing everything in his power to limit the plays with his legs.  Nevertheless, he was 13/21 for 198 yards and 3 TDs against 0 picks.  Lots of pretty passes deep down field and he certainly had this team in position to win this game late if we could’ve just gotten the ball back.

HUGE game out of David Moore who had the first 2 touchdown catches of his young career.  He had 3 for 38 on the day and REALLY looks like he’s going to be a star for this team for many years to come.  I haven’t been this excited about one of our young receivers since …

Tyler Lockett!  3 catches for 98 yards and an oh so pretty 39-yard touchdown bomb.  On top of that, he had 3 kick returns for 77 yards as the team looked for a spark in the return game (Penny had been handling KO return duties a lot this year).  It got so bad that the Rams were pooching their kickoffs, giving Seattle great field position all day long.

Finally, not a lot to praise about the defense, but I’ll tip my cap to Bradley McDougald and Bobby Wagner, who are holding this unit together by their strong individual efforts.  And, actually, a tip of the cap to Frank Clark too, who had a monster game after a week’s worth of food poisoning.

Let’s Talk About Competitions

Pretty interesting game for Penny.  Zero offensive touches in a game where the Seahawks ran it 32 times.  There’s growing discontent every week about the Seahawks taking a running back in the first round, and I’m as sick of it as anyone.  I mean, at some point we’re all going to have to get over it!  This isn’t the single worst move the Seahawks ever made.  Hell, it isn’t even the dumbest decision they’ve ever made with a first round pick!  But, that having been said … don’t you have to get SOMETHING out of your rookie first round pick?  I know it’s not necessarily a knock against him, so much as it is that Carson and Davis have earned their touches, but think about it.  This is a game the Seahawks REALLY wanted.  The chips were stacked against them with the injuries suffered in last week’s game, so they circled the wagons.  They consolidated their gameplan to include the most important and best players on their team.  Guys like David Moore and Tyler Lockett were prominent, as they’ve proven over the first month of the season that they’re the best, healthiest receivers we have right now.  Russell Wilson showed up with an efficient game.  And, the best running backs split time pretty evenly.

And Penny didn’t play a lick.  He got in on 1 special teams play and that’s it.  That says A LOT about what the team thinks of him right now.  It’s a damning indictment of their first round pick, and it’s only going to continue to be a glaring blight against this organization unless he turns his career around.

Getting back to the receivers, Jaron Brown and Brandon Marshall played 9 and 7 snaps respectively.  They had 0 catches on 0 targets combined.  Doug Baldwin played the entire game, but he’s obviously not quite right, so it’s doubly important that Lockett and Moore played the way they did.  These are the deep threats the Seahawks have on this team that’s opening up our run game and our play-action game.  It’s all connected, and I’m looking forward to the young guys continuing to advance as guys like Brown and Marshall are phased out.

At least for one game, Tedric Thompson is the answer to the question of who would take over in Earl’s absence.  He played all but one snap on defense and had an up & down game.  He came away with 7 tackles and a pass defended, but also missed some tackles, took bad angles on some runs, and missed an interception off a deflected ball.  Of the guys we have on this team, he’s the player with the most promise, but I just don’t know if he’s going to be the long term solution.  The Seahawks have the most work to do in bolstering the pass rush, but they shouldn’t neglect the safety position in 2019.  If there’s a highly-graded first round talent at safety in the draft, I think the Seahawks should pounce on him.

Other Things That Caught My Eye (In A Bad Way)

Just … the defense.  All of it.  Holy hell.  The Rams punted on their first drive of the game, and then never again.  Sure, there was an early pick, and a nice goalline stand that led to a field goal, but the Rams had their way and were able to do pretty much whatever they wanted all day.

That starts and ends with the pass rush, which was absolutely non-existent.  The crowd noise was solid, and forced the Rams to waste a bunch of time outs at inopportune times, but otherwise the Rams were fine.  1 sack on 66 plays.  2 hits on the quarterback and I’m pretty sure one of them was a 15-yard flag because Quinton Jefferson was an idiot and hit him 3 hours after he threw the ball.  Sure, a lot of it had to do with their scheme – they get the ball out fast and with receivers WIDE open – but he also had plenty of plays where he could stand back there, make a sandwich, talk to some buddies, build a ship in a bottle, and the Seahawks were never going to get home.  Fucking abysmal, and there’s no hope on the horizon for 2018.  Dion Jordan was good for 22 snaps.  Q-Jeff is our defacto #2 DE and he is NOBODY’S definition of a quality pass rusher.  Barkevious Mingo played 97% of defensive snaps and that should probably never change, because Frank Clark needs some help.

I wasn’t a huge fan of all the drop-kick kickoffs.  I hate it when an opposing team gets a couple quality returns and then Pete Carroll freaks the fuck out and starts pooching everything, giving the other team amazing field position every fucking time.  Why not, I dunno, MAKE ADJUSTMENTS IN YOUR KICK COVERAGE?!  Unless Janikowski was nursing a hammy or something, they should’ve brought him back out.  Either that, or just kick it out of bounds and save us all the embarrassment.

Also, man that was a tough holding penalty that forced us out of field goal position, but I mean, it was 2nd and 13 on the Rams’ 35 yard line, so WHY WERE WE RUNNING THE BALL IN THE FIRST PLACE?!  That’s supposed to be the tougher end of the field to kick, so why not throw and try to get really close!  Again, it’s a clear example of the team trying to play for a field goal.  Best case scenario, we don’t get flagged for holding, Mike Davis runs for 5 yards to the 30 and it’s 3rd & 8 with just over 3 minutes to go.  Odds are – even with how mediocre the Rams’ pass defense was in this game – we’re not converting a 3rd & 8 (I even bet the Seahawks would’ve run it AGAIN just to get a tiny bit closer and eat some more clock), in which case the Rams still would’ve had PLENTY of time to take the ball down the field and score a game-winning field goal.

The end of that game shows the clear differences in philosophy between these two teams.  The Seahawks play it safe and stodgy, running the ball down around the 30 yard line, playing for the field goal, and I guess just praying the other team makes a mistake (because our defense was in no position to slow them down).  Meanwhile, the Rams, with the lead and the ball, on 4th & short on their own 43 yard line, went for it on a QB sneak to put the game away.  Seattle NEVER would’ve done that in a million years!

That’s part of the reason why I feel this moral victory is a bit hollow.  We’re all but shut out of winning the division, we have a LONG road to get into wild card contention, and even though we hung close, the Rams are clearly the superior team and would’ve won that game 90 times out of 100.  Do I like the Seahawks’ chances against an inferior team like the Raiders this week?  Sure.  But, against the greats, I think we’re still just as fucked as we were before this surprisingly easy-to-accept home defeat.

Not Winners & Losers Of The Seahawks’ Game At Arizona

It was the usual brand of ugly down in Glendale, but the Seahawks prevailed in the end to beat the winless Cardinals 20-17.  The defense looked good enough, the run game was fine, but the offense as a whole was pretty bad once again.  There just isn’t going to be an overnight fix on this thing; it’s going to take a lot of baby stepping to get this thing where it needs to be.

What I’m Geeked Out About After Four Games

Shout out to the offensive line!  I never thought I’d see them in this section so soon, but here we are!

I don’t have them here just because every other element about the Seahawks struggled (though that’s true), but because they actually looked good.  Dominant even!  We were all whacked across the face Sunday afternoon with the news that Chris Carson was sitting out with some nagging injury, so you could be forgiven if you feared for the life of our run game.  It came as a further shock to see Mike Davis getting the starter’s reps, with a fully healthy Rashaad Penny returning kicks and getting the backup’s reps.

But, Davis came out guns blazing!  21 carries, 101 yards, 2 TDs, to go along with 4 catches for 23 more yards!  While Davis is fully capable of having these types of games, it was hard not to notice how wide open those running lanes were, thanks to this O-line (backed up, once again, on the strength of D.J. Fluker on the right side).  With Sweezy holding down the left guard spot, things have really started to gel with these guys (though, I still hope to see Pocic win that job back at some point, for the long-term future of the unit).

Furthermore, Russell Wilson only took 2 sacks, and often had all day to throw the ball.  It was just a great game for a maligned group of guys and I’m happy for them.

Other Things That Caught My Eye (In A Good Way)

Speaking of Penny, he only ran the ball 9 times, but gained 49 yards in the process.  He looked more decisive and powerful than I’ve ever seen him.  This was a nice stepping stone game for him, as he acclimates to the speed and ferocity of the league.

Lots of props for the defense, particularly the front seven.

Bobby Wagner, of course, led the team in tackles.  Jarran Reed made his presence felt in the backfield, with a sack and a couple tackles for loss.  Mychal Kendricks had a couple tackles in the backfield, as did Branden Jackson.  These guys also did a pretty good job of holding Arizona’s running game in check.  David Johnson only averaged 3.2 yards per carry (22 for 71, with a TD).

Offensively for the Seahawks, not a lot there.  David Moore had a solid game (2 for 39).  Tyler Lockett continued to show up on the stat sheet (5 for 53 to lead the way).

Let’s Talk About Competitions Injuries

We just can’t play a game in that fucking stadium without losing guys to devastating injuries!  I can’t even keep it straight in my head anymore, all I know it’s been a lot.

Well, throw Will Dissly’s corpse onto the pile, because he went out on the second drive of the game with a season-ending knee injury.  Fucking terrific.  Just what I want to see from a promising rookie.  Let’s cut his first year short in the first month of the season; wouldn’t want to let him get TOO experienced!

Then, if that wasn’t bad enough, Earl Thomas appears to have re-fractured his broken leg from a couple years back, on just a nothing of a play (looks like it broke just with him running on it and maybe stepping down awkwardly).

These injuries are obviously devastating, for both the short term and the long term.  For Dissly, we’re already pretty thin at tight end (Vannett was the only other one suited up for the game yesterday).  Ed Dickson can’t return until after week 6, so we’ll have some practice squad guys coming in.  And, from what I’ve been told, this is a lot like Jimmy Graham’s injury from a few years back, so we’re talking surgery and a full year’s rehab.  If everything breaks right, Dissly could be back for the start of next year, or he could land on the PUP.  Either way, it’s probably best to expect a slow start to his 2019 season, which just sucks, because Dissly really looks like a bona fide #1 starting tight end for this team.

And, with Earl, I mean, what can you say?  He’s the best free safety in the league.  So, obviously, the downgrade to Tedric Thompson or Delano Hill (at strong safety, with McDougald moving over to replace Earl) is pretty severe.  On top of that, there’s no longer the potential to trade Earl for draft picks, which was obviously in our back pocket as the trade deadline approaches.

If the Seahawks were never serious about extending him, I can understand everyone’s frustrations with this team for not trading him and getting back whatever value we could get.  You run the risk – hoping other teams’ injuries force them into giving us more in trade – and you get burned when your own guy goes down.  It’s doubly painful when you start to think about how we almost certainly won’t get a compensatory pick back for him.  There’s just too many things going against us:

  1. Earl’s injury might make other teams wary to give him a huge, long-term contract.  He might have to go somewhere on an incentive-laden, 1-year prove-it deal.  The value of the contract determines the possible compensatory pick, and a deal like that wouldn’t be worth much more than a 6th or 7th rounder.
  2. Even if Earl does get a max deal, that’s not a guarantee that the Seahawks get that possible 3rd round pick in return.  The Seahawks are going to have a lot of money to spend in 2019, with a bunch of veterans coming off the books.  As the Seahawks have a lot of holes to fill in 2019, I would expect we sign more incoming free agents than we lose our own guys to other teams.  If that’s the case, Earl Thomas could sign the biggest contract in NFL history and the Seahawks still won’t get any picks back for him.

All that being said, if you’re mad about Earl Thomas flipping off the Seahawks, you need to calm the fuck down.  He’s an emotional guy, and that’s an emotional situation.  This thing was never going to end well.  Stop clutching your pearls about a middle finger; I’m sure he’s said things a million times worse about this organization away from the media.  He’s an elite player in the final year of his deal and all he wanted was to get paid what he feels he’s worth, as well as have that financial security going forward to protect against this VERY scenario.  To see his worst nightmares come to fruition has to be the most enraging thing for him to experience; I think he’s a model of restraint for ONLY flipping off the sideline.

Earl Thomas is one of the most talented football player to ever don a Seahawks uniform, that’s never going to change.  Kenny Easley walked away from this organization with hurt feelings too.  When his career is over and cooler heads prevail, Earl Thomas will be back one day to raise that 12 Flag and see his name go up in that Ring of Honor.  And, when he becomes a first-ballot hall of famer, he’ll see his number retired.  It’s all out there waiting for him.  Just give it time for the heat to die down.

Other Things That Caught My Eye (In A Bad Way)

It doesn’t get any worse than 0 for 10 on third downs.  You can thank Doug Baldwin for coming up short on two of them (combined with Russell for throwing short of the sticks on both of those), you can thank Brandon Marshall for one glaring drop, and you can thank penalties all over the place (you weren’t perfect, O-line, so don’t think you get off easy on this one).

The play calling also left a lot to be desired.  3rd & long draw plays were the name of the game in this one.  Which, normally, whatever.  But, they also ran the ball on the outskirts of field goal position, when throwing for a nice chunk gain – even if those passes would’ve come short of first down territory – would’ve been the better move.  It’s the worst part of a conservative coaching staff to see your offense get down to the opponent’s 30 yard line and then coast to the field goal try, as if it’s fucking automatic.  NOTHING IS AUTOMATIC!  And, of course, Janikowski missed 2 more very-makeable field goals.  The fact that he made it at the end of the game is irrelevant; the fact that we kept settling for LONG field goals – when it would’ve been better to hurry up and try for shorter ones – is the issue here.  That’s on the coaching staff, and it fucking needs to stop.

Paul Allen, hear my plea!  When it’s time to replace Pete Carroll, go find the next hot-shot offensive mind to get this unit humming!  And then bring the Brink’s truck to Wade Phillips’ house and pay him whatever he wants to coach up the defense!

I won’t totally kill the coaching staff, because they did turn around the running game like they said they would.  Listen, I get the ire from the fans; 0/10 on third down is unacceptable.  At the same time, this running game IS looking good again, so you can’t bemoan the Seahawks for not running the ball … and then complain when they DO run the ball and run it well!

The fact of the matter is, the Seahawks have 2 good run games out of the 4 we’ve played, and it’s no coincidence that the team is 2-0 in those weeks.  We have to help our defense by running clock, and we have to help our O-line by limiting the number of drop-backs for Russell Wilson.  No turnovers, good punting, and it spells out a hard-fought road victory within our division.  That’s how this team is going to win football games.

Finally, before I go, I would be remiss if I didn’t talk about Josh Rosen’s day.  He looked, dare I say it, somewhat competent?  Even bordering on *gulp* GOOD!?  The Cardinals had at least 4 crucial drops, and he was fitting some beautiful passes into some tight windows.  That’s just what we need, another team in our division with their quarterback issues completely solved.