Are The Seahawks Progressing Faster Than Usual This Season?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have The Seahawks Done Enough To Overtake The 49ers?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What do I like? Let’s start there.

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

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

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

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

What don’t I like?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Seahawks Signed Dre’Mont Jones & Jarran Reed

We have exciting news! I can’t remember the last time the Seahawks were involved with a major signing on the first day of free agency. Not for an outside player anyway. The Seahawks are an organization that likes to draft and develop, they’re an organization that likes to take care of their own guys. Other than that – and the occasional big splash trade – we usually buy low and test the waters on an older veteran, or a lesser name coming off his rookie contract.

It’s a smart way to do things, but it can also be infuriating. What happens to those teams who “win” free agency? They’re often coming from a real dark point; that’s why they have so much money to spend in the first place. And, you’re not getting the proper value out of guys on bigtime second or third contracts, compared to those on rookie deals especially, but also compared to past-their-prime veterans who might have a little something left in the tank. So, you don’t often see a lot of future success from those teams who “win” free agency. Once in a while, a team will get everything right, but that’s pretty rare. More often than not, if you’re not just as inept (remember that Philly “Dream Team” they compiled some years back), then you’re mortgaging the future like the Rams did. Which is great, they won a Super Bowl. But, now they’re set to be one of the worst teams in football, and that’s gotta be tough to swallow as a fan.

Conversely, as you can see, it’s not like the Seahawks’ way has paid dividends either. All too often, we’ve eschewed one impact signing in an attempt to scattershot a lot of minimum deals. Instead of signing one impact offensive linemen, we’d sign three mediocre duds. Instead of going for one impact pass rusher, we’d overpay defensive tackles (Poona, Mone) who can’t get to the quarterback, and then sign whoever else was left on the scrap heap (Quinton Jefferson, Al Woods).

Everyone likes to point to Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril as the last time the Seahawks got it right in free agency. That was EONS ago! The last outside free agent who actually made a positive impact was Uchenna Nwosu; before him, there was nobody.

Seemingly every year, we head into free agency with a decent amount of money to spend, and seemingly every year, we walk away shaking our heads at the moves the Seahawks have done.

Well, not this time! This time, we signed Dre’Mont Jones away from the Denver Broncos, for 3 years and $51 million. He gets a $20 million signing bonus, which puts his 2023 cap hit at around $10 million. Assuming he plays well, his 2024 cap hit is under $20 million. And if he’s a jackpot, we’ll probably extend him before 2025 comes into play.

6’3, 281 pound defensive tackle who has 22 sacks in his 4-year career, 18.5 over the last three seasons (no less than 5.5 per year). But, it’s obviously not just sacks that makes him one of the most sought-after defensive linemen in this free agency class. He can play all over the line, and he’s a menace against both the run and the pass. He’s basically everything we’ve been looking for since Clinton McDonald left, on the low end. On the high end, the sky’s the limit. I dunno, maybe Aaron Donald is the limit; he’s probably not Aaron Donald.

Nevertheless, he’s the best defensive tackle we’ve had in ages. Sam Adams maybe? Rocky Bernard? It goes back a ways. (I don’t count Michael Bennett here, though maybe I should; I always saw him as a defensive end who slid inside on passing downs to give us an extra outside rusher).

Not only is Dre’Mont one of the best and most impactful free agents, but he also fills a VERY huge need on this particular team. Shelby Harris and Quinton Jefferson were both released as cap casualties. Poona Ford is probably moving on (after not really fitting into the new 3-4 scheme), and Bryan Mone might be out with injury all year. So, as much as we all like Al Woods, there’s a lot of work left to do.

And just when I thought we might settle for some guy making the minimum, we bounced right back the next day and brought back Jarran Reed on a 2-year, $10.8 million deal. This isn’t just any old man off the streets. This is someone who has been remarkably healthy and available (other than a stint when he was suspended). He had a stretch with the Seahawks where there was real pass rush ability and potential (surpassing 10 sacks one year), but by and large he’ll give you a little bit of that, while also presenting a stout front in run defense.

What makes all of this truly thrilling is seeing what will come from the #5 overall pick. If Jalen Carter falls to us? And we get to play him, Reed, and Jones side by side by side? With Nwosu on one end and Darrell Taylor or Boye Mafe on the other? Or, we end up with Will Anderson as an end with those guys? We could really have something here!

Seahawks Death Week: Throw All The Free Agents In A Fucking Dumpster

I have chosen to just base this blog post on the list compiled over at Field Gulls, because I’m a lazy, lazy man. At least I linked over there; credit where it’s due and all that.

I want to say I read this in the Dallas/Fort Worth airport the day after the Seahawks’ season ended, hungover as all get-out after a Saturday night wedding that lasted until the wee hours of the very day we were supposed to return home to SeaTac. So, off the top of my head, I couldn’t possibly recount all the names from memory, but I remember my thoughts at the time revolved around: what a collection of trash!

Are any of these guys worth keeping or bringing back? I dunno, man. I guess you gotta have 53 guys on your roster – and 90 heading into Training Camp – so we’re bound to see some return names. But, I didn’t see a lot of tremendous impact from these players (save one very big and obvious name) that couldn’t be replaced with superior draft picks, free agents, and other guys from the scrap heaps of other teams.

Myles Adams is the only SOMEWHAT interesting name from the Exclusive Rights Free Agents list; that seems like a paltry amount to pay to bring back a depth/rotation defensive tackle. He always seems to flash in the pre season, anyway.

There’s usually more meat on the bone among the Restricted Free Agents, but I only see one guy worth bringing back – likely on a 2nd round tender – and that’s Ryan Neal. He played at a pretty high level at safety this year. He’s a quality backup at a position of need. Assuming Jamal Adams returns (as crazy as it sounds, we’re financially stuck with him through 2023 in all likelihood), safety is GOING to be a position of need. Because there’s no point in wondering IF Jamal Adams is going to get injured, but WHEN. Can he beat going down in the very first regular season game? Has anyone babyproofed his house lately?

Beyond that, I guess you could make a case for Mike Jackson, but I wouldn’t offer him anything higher than an original round tender. He’s not a surefire starter, in spite of all the starting he did in 2022; I’d take a 5th round draft pick for him, absolutely. No one else needs to be bothered with. Penny Hart and Tanner Muse are both fine special teams guys, but they can be had without going through the whole tender rigmarole.

Most of the guys you know and “love” are unrestricted free agents. I’ll save the quarterbacks for a separate post.

Rashaad Penny and Travis Homer are both up for contracts. Penny got a nice little payday before this past season, but clearly he’s not over his injury issues. Kenneth Walker has proven to be a starting running back in this league, and while every team needs backups, I don’t see the point in making Penny one of them. For a handful of games? Let him take his talents elsewhere. As for Homer, I thought he came into 2022 in much better shape, but he’s still Just A Guy; we could draft someone in the last couple rounds and more than make up for his lost production. We still have DeeJay Dallas, and I’d take him over Homer anyday.

Marquise Goodwin and Laquon Treadwell combine to just be okay (Goodwin is solid when healthy; Treadwell is a bust). We can do better, in spite of the fact that wide receiver is very much a position of need heading into 2023.

Austin Blythe, Kyle Fuller, and Phil Haynes are the offensive linemen we’re set to lose. I’d be fine bringing none of them back, though I do see Haynes as a solid rotational guy/backup. He might want to test the waters elsewhere. Blythe and Fuller can suck it, though. Go out in the draft and pick up a bona fide starting center!

Poona Ford, L.J. Collier, and Bruce Irvin are the defensive linemen on this list. I never thought I’d see the day where I’d be okay losing Poona Ford, but he in no way, shape, or form lived up to his contract, having a particularly anonymous 2022 season. I don’t know if he’s cut out for the 3-4 defensive scheme. I also don’t know if Collier is cut out for the NFL period! Now that we have the XFL and the USFL, he should have no shortage of suitors. As for Bruce Irvin, I’d be okay bringing him back late in the pre-season as a depth piece. He shouldn’t be starting – like he was towards the end of 2022 – but as a rotational veteran, you could do a lot worse.

Fuck right off with Nick Bellore, Cody Barton, and BBK. I want upgrades at all linebacker spots on this roster – ideally through the draft – and if I never see these guys play defense for the Seahawks again, it’ll be too soon. Bring Bellore back as a special teamer if you must, but spare me this fullback playing linebacker.

Artie Burns, Justin Coleman, Josh Jones … Teez Tabor? What the fuck’s a Teez Tabor? They can all go.

Jason Myers is quite an interesting topic of conversation, actually. He came here on a 4 year, $15+ million deal and saw it through to the end. It’s kind of absurd how up and down he’s been in his career. In 2018, he was a Pro Bowler with the Jets. He signed with the Seahawks and wasn’t super great, hitting 82% of his field goals and 90% of his PATs. But, in 2020, he hit all of his field goals and 92% of his PATs. In 2021, he was downright bad, hitting only 74% of his field goals. At that point, I think every Seahawks fan was ready to wash their hands of him. However, in 2022, he jumped back up to 92% field goals made, with a high of 97% of his PATs made.

So, I don’t know what to tell ya. Based on this, he’s due to suck again in 2023. Does he deserve a raise for having another great year in a contract season? Does he deserve a reduction in pay thanks to how bad his 2021 was? Does he deserve the exact same deal? You like to think field goal kickers are easy to find, but they’re really not. Ask any team that’s struggled in this area. They’d probably back the Brinks truck up to bring in Jason Myers. I would say he’s probably worth the going rate of kickers in the top 10 in the league, but I also wouldn’t be broken up about losing him and finding a cheaper option elsewhere.

If I’m being honest, heading into this post, I was ready to declare Tyler Ott the most important Seahawks free agent of the bunch. But, I just remembered he was injured this year and didn’t play a regular season snap. So, maybe Carson Tinker is the way to go? Or maybe any ol’ fucking guy because long-snappers are a dime a dozen. Sign me to be your long-snapper! I’ve got flag football experience, I’m ready to go!

Who Do The Seahawks Have On Defense That’s Worth A Damn?

There’s nothing worse in football than a shitty defense. Put me in the minority of football fans: I want a defense that far-and-away outclasses the offense. I’d rather root for a team like the 49ers than I would a team like the Chiefs. Great defenses don’t take weeks off. Great defenses can make great offenses look inept; rarely do you see it go the other way. Rarely do you see a great defense – that isn’t totally decimated by injuries, thereby rendering it not-so-great – get totally obliterated. That’s what I’m looking for in a championship-level football team. That’s what I’m counting on when it comes to the playoffs. Great defense, and a quarterback who can get the job done in a pinch.

It feels like it’s been forever since the Seahawks have had a great defense. You could argue we haven’t had one since 2014 or 2015, which in NFL terms IS forever. The Seahawks haven’t just been mediocre, though. They’ve been downright BAD. What’s worse, they’ve often been bad masquerading as mediocre, which has led to this endless fucking cycle of never really going all-in to improve.

Year after year where we start out as the absolute worst defense in football. Then, through smoke and mirrors (and usually a reduction in the quality of offensive opponents), as the season goes along, they improve JUST enough to fool us into believing they’re not as bad as we thought. An inept coaching staff gets to keep their jobs (for a while), inept players get to stick around (for a while), and it starts all over again.

It’s been a long time since we’ve been THIS bad though. The run defense has been bad in spurts over the last half-decade, but never this consistently atrocious. There’s always been SOMETHING to stem the tide, and maybe that something was Bobby Wagner. Maybe we took him for granted for too long, and now we’re reaping what we sow.

There’s been a chicken or egg thing with this defense this year. Is it a scheme/coaching problem? Or is it a lack of talent among the players problem?

I’m inclined to think the scheme is sound – because we’ve seen the Vic Fangio scheme work all over the league – but the key difference is that usually they have Vic Fangio running it. I’ve had a problem with Clint Hurtt since it was announced he was taking over as defensive coordinator. Here’s a guy who’s done nothing in his coaching career, who led a mediocre-at-best defensive line unit under the previous shitty regime, and you just have to wonder what this guy did to deserve a promotion, as someone who’s never coached at this level before.

That being said, I don’t think there’s any question there’s a lack of talent on this team. Tariq Woolen appears to be the only player worth a damn. Uchenna Nwosu looks good week-in and week-out, but that can be deceiving. Is he just a standout among clods? Or is he actually a talented pass rusher/outside linebacker? I think it’s worth questioning since the Chargers let him go in free agency, and the Seahawks were only willing to sign him to a 2-year deal.

After that? Fuck this defense. As has been belabored, Jordyn Brooks makes a lot of tackles, but rarely are they of any impact. What big plays has he generated to put teams behind the sticks? Quandre Diggs appears to have lost a step, and if he’s going to keep dropping interceptions, then what good is he? We’re all well aware of Jamal Adams’ broken-down body; can’t count on him going forward. Darrell Taylor has had a nightmare season, given where we expected him to be in his development. Even Poona Ford and Bryan Mone have appeared to take steps back in their production, and all those guys are paid to do is stop the run! That’s literally their only fucking job!

The third and fourth best players on this defense are Al Woods and Shelby Harris, two aging vets you could get on the scrap heap in any given offseason.

It really makes you wonder how far away we are from building that elite defense we’ve missed so much. Are we just a few impact players away? Or is a total teardown and rebuild required? I don’t think we’re going to see the latter – at least as long as Pete Carroll and John Schneider are here – so that means we have to hope we’re just a draft away from turning things around.

Heading into next year, we’ve got the aforementioned Woolen and Nwosu. We hope the likes of Coby Bryant and/or Tre Brown can make an impact. Beyond that, man, I dunno. It seems more and more like we’re going to need that first Broncos pick to be an impact defensive lineman. I’m wondering if we’re going to need to use the vast majority of our draft picks to go towards the defense!

It’s extremely discouraging. I don’t like calling this a “lost season” because that makes it sound like a failure, when really it’s not THAT bad. But, any season where you’re not seriously contending for a championship – or at least building towards that – is indeed a lost season. You like to at least hang your hat on some players you can point to and say, “These are the building blocks of a potential championship team.” There are guys up and down that offense where you can say that. But, on defense, the cupboard is fucking BARE.

Fans are impatient. I get that. The Seahawks are 7-7 with three weeks to go. We’d need to win out AND we’d need help if we want to make the playoffs as one of the last two wild card teams. To win out, that means we’d need to somehow defeat the Chiefs this weekend, then turn around and beat the Jets and Rams at home. As a team that couldn’t even beat the Panthers, Raiders, or Bucs, that feels implausible. As such, I just want to get this Seahawks season over with as soon as possible, with as many defeats as possible, to better our draft picks for next year. I want to fast forward to the 2023 draft, I want us to select the best possible players, and I want the next regular season to get going with our bounty of improved talent! It feels insane to say that while there are still relevant regular season games left to play in 2022, but that’s where I’m at.

I can’t watch this defense anymore. It’s infuriating. The offense has been a heartwarming story thus far, but it’s not good enough to overcome the other side of the ball being so helpless. It’s time to seriously overhaul the whole fucking unit, from top to bottom, by any means necessary. All these half measures aren’t going to cut it anymore.

The Seahawks’ Defense Is Fundamentally Broken

I think it’s safe to say the Seahawks aren’t actually good. But, I think you can also make the argument that the Seahawks aren’t bad either. 7-10 here we come.

One week after giving up 45 points to the Lions – a Lions team that was just shut out by the Patriots, even though they got their top receiver back – the Seahawks’ defense gave up 39 points to a Saints team missing Jameis Winston and Michael Thomas, in a 39-32 loss.

The offense was – once again – right there. Awesome job. Geno Smith was 16/25 for 268 with 3 TDs and 0 INTs. Kenneth Walker ran for 88 yards on 8 carries, including a 69 yard TD. Rashaad Penny – before breaking his leg and being lost for the season – ran for 54 yards on 8 carries of his own. Tyler Locket was 5 for 104 with 2 TDs, D.K. Metcalf was 5 for 88 with a TD. Just clicking, not quite on all cylinders (we were 1 of 10 on 3rd/4th downs), but pretty damn well. I will take 32 points every week if you’ll give ’em to me!

While I’ll say the Saints’ defense hasn’t been as good as expected coming into the season, they’re not God awful like ours. It’s actually an accomplishment to drop 32 points on them.

It’s legitimately alarming how terrible our defense is, though. You know what I’m sick of hearing about? Every single year, we go into the draft and the biggest need is “pass rusher”. Every single fucking year. It’s obscene! Just figure it the fuck out! Figure out a scheme that works, figure out the personnel you need to fit in the scheme, and figure out how to adjust on gamedays to get at the fucking quarterback! It can’t be as hard as we’re making it out to be! We shouldn’t have to have a Top 3 draft pick just to find a fucking pass rusher! Other teams find them all the damn time! What the fuck?!

But, that’s not even the half of it, because now we can’t stop the run either. Poona Ford and Bryan Mone are useless in this 3-4 defense. The linebackers are even less than useless, they’re actively sabotaging our success. The cornerbacks are weak and can’t tackle bigger runners. At some point, you have to question the heart and effort of this team, so I’ll do that here: I’m questioning the heart and effort of the Seattle Seahawks’ defense. You’re weak, you’re pathetic, and you need to do fucking better.

Can you believe what I thought about this team before the season started? It’s almost exactly the opposite to what they really are. I thought the defense would be good enough to keep us in (low scoring) games, and our offense might look good in spurts, but would ultimately be what held this team back. Quite the contrary! I did see Geno Smith take a couple sacks – and do a couple of roll-backward scramble drills – that he probably shouldn’t have. But, him in this scheme is better than I ever could’ve imagined in my wildest dreams. I’m still not ready to say I’m a believer, but he’s starting to do something to my brain. This is like finding out Santa Claus is legit real. This is like finding out space aliens are here and walking among us. This is the kind of stuff I’ve been conditioned to rule out as nonsense coming to life.

Geno Smith isn’t supposed to be this good. Yet, he’s playing so well, it’s breaking my brain. None of this computes.

It makes for entertaining, if low-stakes, football. I know this team isn’t good enough to compete for the division or even the playoffs, but they’re going to be in most games just based off of their offense (as long as they continue playing at this high level). Any sort of drop-off in offensive production better coincide with a drastic improvement in the defense, or it could get REAL ugly. “You Ain’t Got No Alibi” kind of ugly.

I don’t know what the rest of my week is going to look like, but I have to imagine it’s going to be Mariners-filled, so let’s get the next Seahawks preview out of the way now.

We return home to face the Cardinals. I can only describe the Cards as disappointing. They’re with us and the similarly-disappointing Rams as 2-3 teams, but I still see the Cards as the superior squad. I also see this as another potentially high scoring affair, so I’d look to pound the over if I were a betting man.

The Cards tend to get off to slow starts, then light the world on fire, so maybe bet the over on the second half for the Cards, and bet the over on the first half for the Seahawks. I dunno, get creative; there are lots of ways to make money on this game!

I’m seeing something in the realm of 34-24 Cardinals, with maybe the Seahawks holding a 14-6 lead in the first half. Then, the Cards just go to town in the second half. I don’t know who’s on there, other than Kyler Murray. He’s not a guy I’d want quarterbacking my team, but he can still rack up points with the best of ’em.

The Seahawks Looked Predictably Inept Against The 49ers

I’ll be honest, Saturday was a long, fun-filled day for me. We had some tailgate festivities, a couple of long drives to and from that event, followed immediately by a family poker game, followed by some late night billiards in our rec room. I didn’t go to bed until maybe midnight or 1am, yet still managed to wake up well before the 10am games on Sunday. Long story short, I took a nap for most of the second half of those early games, and didn’t wake up until we were already an hour into the Seahawks’ game.

So, I missed out on the Trey Lance Experience. A very small part of me will always wonder if we might’ve had a chance in this one had Lance stayed healthy.

But, given the way our offense performed, I still highly doubt we would’ve come close to winning in this one. I hope you heeded my warning and stayed away (or bet hard against the Seahawks), because I was as on the money with this one as I’ve ever been! I missed the total by a single point! That’s unheard of (for me)!

Even though I saw a good percentage of this game (I tuned in when we were only down 13-0 in the second quarter), I didn’t see much of an effort whatsoever by the Seahawks’ offense to try and run the ball. Maybe my attention was stolen by the Broncos/Texans game on the little TV – rooting hard for Houston to take down Denver – but that was really shocking to me. Then again, given how poor our offense looked overall – not to mention how badly we were losing for the last 2/3 of this game – I guess it’s not all that surprising either.

Geno Smith only threw the ball 30 times, so it’s not like we went all pass-wacky. We just couldn’t do a damn thing, running or throwing. He completed 24 of those passes, for a measly 197 yards (for a 6.6 average per attempt, a miserable figure).

There was one highlight in this game for the Seahawks, and it was a blocked field goal for a touchdown. In a game we lost 27-7. That marks six consecutive quarters (and counting) where the offense has failed to score a single point. If you want to push things further, Tyler Lockett had a breakthrough game (it was starting to be worrisome that he just never has been on the same page as Geno in their limited action together), with 9 catches for 107 yards. For someone of his talent, he deserves better.

Also, I’m really scraping the bottom of the barrel for highlights, but it was nice to see Kenneth Walker out there getting some play.

Defensively, I dunno. There were plenty of mop-up tackles for Brooks and Barton. I thought Al Woods made his presence felt in the middle (7 tackles, 3 for loss, with a pass deflection). But what’s Poona Ford been up to this year? Whereth Bryan Mone? I did think Nwosu looked good again, and Darrell Taylor looked better than his week 1 faceplant.

We’re still seeing lots of growing pains out of the secondary. Too soon to make any sort of definitive statements, but I’ll say this: I’d rather have excessive penalties over excessive cushions for receivers to get lots of yardage. I’d rather have aggression, because you can teach them to tone it down for the refs; but you can’t teach a guy to be stickier to his receiver. I’ll take this all day over the likes of Tre Flowers and whatnot.

Even though the Special Teams got that score, it’s hard to give them too positive of a grade. We didn’t do much in the return game, and the new guy got in Lockett’s way for a critical muffed punt in the second half. You just can’t have that. That’s bad even for high school players, let alone the NFL.

This is more in line with what I expected from the Seahawks this year. But, I don’t think it’s going to be this dire every single week. I think the 49ers have a tremendous defense, and any time we go up against a defense of this calibre, it’s going to be a bloodbath. Otherwise, though, I think we’ll move the ball and score some points at an okay clip. I still contend, however, that anytime we’re down – and we need Geno Smith to orchestrate a scoring drive late in the game – it’s going to be a difficult proposition for this team to execute. And, god forbid if we ever get into any shootouts.

So far, I’ve seen glimpses of greatness out of this defense, but I don’t think we’re going to get over the hump until the secondary starts making some strides. As I said before, I like the way it’s trending, but at some point it’s going to have to click. Otherwise, this defense looks like every other mediocre Ken Norton defense we’ve had in recent seasons. Until they play to their highest potential, I don’t see a path to a winning season for this team. And, if it’s too little, too late when they finally figure it out, then clearly this will be a bottom 10 team in the league (looking forward to a top 10 draft pick next year).

Seahawks 53-Man Roster Projection Ready Set Go!

It’s a little early for this, I’ll admit. But, this Friday I’m leaving on a trip and won’t be back until Labor Day, which doesn’t leave me a lot of time until the start of the regular season (plus, will be after the final cut-down day anyway, rendering this whole exercise moo. A cow’s opinion). Really, when you think about it, this isn’t early at all. It’s probably late, if I’m being honest! What am I even talking about?!

I don’t have a lot invested in this team, so I imagine my latest 53-man roster projection is going to be more wrong than normal (when I never really gave a damn anyway). Did I include too many linebackers and not enough offensive linemen? Probably. Anyway, here we go.

Quarterbacks

  • Geno Smith
  • Drew Lock

It’s our worst nightmare, come to fruition. If I had to guess, I’d say Geno gets the nod to start the regular season, but I can’t imagine that will last long (if it happens at all). I still contend the team wants Lock to be the guy, but his fucking up at every turn is holding him back.

Running Backs

  • Rashaad Penny
  • Kenneth Walker
  • Travis Homer
  • DeeJay Dallas
  • Nick Bellore

Pretty easy one here. I don’t dare lump Bellore in with the rest of the linebackers, but sure, he’s that too, I guess (in addition to a fullback the team almost never uses). When Walker’s healthy, this figures to be a 2-man backfield, but Homer will still likely see his fair share of reps in the 2-minute offense. And, injuries will likely dictate all of these guys appear at one time or another.

Wide Receivers

  • D.K. Metcalf
  • Tyler Lockett
  • Freddie Swain
  • Dee Eskridge
  • Penny Hart
  • Dareke Young

I really don’t believe Eskridge has done a damn thing to earn a spot on this roster, other than being our top draft pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. Feels too soon to give up on a 2nd round pick, but then again, he’s CONSTANTLY FUCKING INJURED. I don’t get it. Hart is a hedge against that, plus he’s a special teams whiz. And I feel like if you keep Eskridge, you have to keep a sixth receiver just in case. It seems like Young has the higher upside, whereas Bo Melton is probably likelier to pass through to the practice squad.

Tight Ends

  • Noah Fant
  • Will Dissly
  • Colby Parkinson

Easy peasy lemon squeezy. No notes.

Offensive Line

  • Charles Cross
  • Damien Lewis
  • Austin Blythe
  • Gabe Jackson
  • Abe Lucas
  • Phil Haynes
  • Jake Curhan
  • Kyle Fuller
  • Stone Forsythe

Odds are we’ll see a 10th lineman here, but you could conceivably get away with just the 9. It all depends on how bad the Lewis injury is and how long he’ll miss time. But, Curhan can play guard or tackle. Fuller can play center or guard. Forsythe is your traditional tackle backup. There’s enough cross-polination among the backups here to cover your ass in a pinch. That assumes, of course, that Lucas is your starting right tackle, which is the rumor I’m hearing.

Defensive Linemen

  • Shelby Harris
  • Poona Ford
  • Bryan Mone
  • Al Woods
  • Quinton Jefferson
  • L.J. Collier
  • Myles Adams

These are the beefy dudes who should spend little-to-no time dropping back into coverage. That figure could be drastically high; I’m really taking a stab in the dark here. But, I’ve also ranked them in order of likelihood to make the team, so could be a tough break for one or both of Collier & Adams (but, I’ve heard good things about Collier in practice, and I’ve seen good things from Adams in the two games so far).

Pass Rushers/Strong-Side Linebackers

  • Darrell Taylor
  • Boye Mafe
  • Uchenna Nwosu
  • Alton Robinson
  • Tyreke Smith

Again, I’m ranking these by order of likelihood to make the team. But, I think the top four are as close to locks as possible. Smith makes my roster because he’s a draft pick, but I couldn’t tell you if he’s done a damn thing so far in the pre-season.

Linebackers

  • Jordyn Brooks
  • Cody Barton
  • Tanner Muse
  • Vi Jones

I’ll be honest, Muse and Jones are here because they’re names I recognize. I think one or both might be valuable special teamers, maybe? I also think this team could be sifting through cast-offs from other teams, since the position outside of Brooks has been so underwhelming.

Safeties

  • Jamal Adams
  • Quandre Diggs
  • Ryan Neal
  • Marquise Blair

I haven’t seen or heard about Neal, but I’m assuming based on his production for this team of late, he’ll get a crack to be a backup again. Blair, on the other hand, has done nothing but disappoint in the pre-season. I wouldn’t be shocked if Blair gets chopped and we go with someone else on our roster or pick up another team’s reject(s).

Cornerbacks

  • Tariq Woolen
  • Coby Bryant
  • Sidney Jones
  • Artie Burns
  • Justin Coleman

I don’t think Coleman deserves to be on this team, but I think he’s going to make it anyway. Odds are it’s Jones and Burns to start – with Bryant being the team’s top nickel guy – but I won’t be surprised to see Woolen out there (especially if Burns or Jones can’t get healthy). I’m also banking on Tre Brown starting out on PUP, or otherwise not joining the roster until later on in the season.

Special Teams

  • Tyler Ott (LS)
  • Michael Dickson (P)
  • Jason Myers (K)

Seems crazy that Myers gets to keep his job based on what we’ve seen, but what are you going to do? He’s going to continue to be aggravating, but he’s going to be far from the most aggravating thing we see on a weekly basis from this team.

Bryan Mone Isn’t Going Anywhere For A While

The Seahawks extended defensive tackle Bryan Mone. He’s still on whatever minimum deal we’ve got him for in 2022 – earning less than a million bucks – and then it kicks in for the 2023-2024 seasons. 2 years, $12 million. If he’s around for the entirety of the deal, he’ll be an unrestricted free agent for his age 30 season in 2025.

We were already going to have the duo of Mone and Poona Ford back for the 2022 season, but while Mone now has the two additional seasons locked in, Ford will be an unrestricted free agent after this year. Poona has a cap hit just over $10 million, with a base salary of just under $8 million, so it’ll be interesting to see what happens there.

Poona Ford (not to totally shift gears from this post’s main topic) keeps getting incrementally better with every passing season. This also coincides with him getting increased playing time with every passing season. Tack on the fact that he was an undrafted free agent in 2018 and it’s easy to see why he’s such a fan favorite. My hope is that Poona also gets extended, because he’s awesome, and because the defensive tackle spot grows in importance as we shift to more of a 3-4 scheme. Those guys in the middle are critical to opening up pass rushing lanes to our outside linebackers and defensive ends.

Like Poona, Bryan Mone was an undrafted free agent, just a year later in 2019. He’s also gotten better every season, as his role in the defense has grown. You’re looking at our starting defensive tackles in 2021, and they figure to be the same heading into 2022.

They’re also both primarily run-stuffers; they combined for 3.5 sacks in 2021. We’ve always suspected Poona has a higher upside when it comes to getting to the quarterback, but I wouldn’t hold my breath to see those numbers increase drastically. If we’re just talking body size, Mone might be the closest we’ve seen in a while to a traditional nose tackle. He’s got 35 pounds on Poona, which makes it remarkable that he’s been as durable as he’s been.

You always like to see when fan favorites get rewarded and are able to stick around through a second contract. Considering Mone is still on a team-friendly deal in 2022, we’re not breaking the salary cap one bit in creating this extension. Here’s to more good guys sticking around for a while!

How Good Could The Seahawks Be (Quarterback Aside)?

Don’t get it twisted that I’m sitting here talking myself into the Seahawks making some noise in 2022; they’re not going to contend for shit! But, as an exercise to see my vision through – drafting a franchise quarterback in 2023, setting that player up for success now by building up the team around him a year ahead of time – I think it’s fair to wonder. Now that the draft is behind us, and we can start to piece a roster together, how good is this team at every position other than quarterback?

Let’s start at offensive line, since that was a big emphasis for the Seahawks in this draft. O-Line, as we all know, is vitally important to a team’s chances for success. Especially when you’re talking about breaking in a rookie QB. So, have we done enough?

Obviously, that depends on how these draft picks pan out. But, if they’re as good as a lot of people think they can be, this is going to bode very well for our future. As it stands now, going left to right, we’ve got Charles Cross, Damien Lewis, Austin Blythe, Gabe Jackson, and Abe Lucas. Lewis has two years under his belt, and has performed pretty well when healthy. Blythe comes in with extensive experience in winning programs (including as a former Ram, who this offensive coaching staff knows well), and Jackson is still an in-his-prime starting guard in this league. Either he sticks around, or the Seahawks look to improve at that spot in the draft next year; I’m fine with both scenarios. I think the O-Line has the potential to be very good, creating a nice, soft landing spot for a rookie QB in 2023.

Next, let’s look at weapons. Tyler Lockett is here for the long haul. The team has given every indication that D.K. Metcalf will see a second contract. Freddie Swain has proven to be a competent 3rd/4th/5th receiver. Dee Eskridge and our two rookies this year could be nice gadget players if they stay healthy. That’s a solid group.

Noah Fant is a good tight end, with the potential to be great. He’s right there on the fringe of being a top 10 guy. Will Dissly is the consummate blocking tight end, but he has soft hands and can play down the field. Colby Parkinson hasn’t shown much yet, but his frame should play well around the goalline. I would like to see what he can do when given an opportunity. I think the tight end room is also solid.

Then, we’ve got Kenneth Walker as our potential starting running back. He gets 2022 to play behind Rashaad Penny, giving us a 1-2 punch that could be pretty formidable in the short term. If Walker proves he deserves a shot at being the bellcow, I think he’ll run away with the job in 2023 and beyond. Figure the Seahawks will go back to the running back well in the draft next year, likely selecting a lower-round player to be his backup. There’s a lot that’s up in the air about the running back room right now, but it has the potential to be elite if Walker is The Guy.

As far as weapons go, you could do a helluva lot worse! I think with a year’s experience, that’s about as ideal of a landing spot as any rookie quarterback could find himself in 2023.

But, the real question is: how good could the defense be?

This doesn’t work if the defense isn’t ready to grow into a dominant unit over the next two years. That’ll be what I’m most obsessed about heading into the 2022 regular season. I need to see existing players take huge leaps forward, I need to see rookies develop relatively quickly. I need impact! I need this to be a group that harkens back to the 2011/2012 seasons, when they were clearly ascending.

Let’s go back to front, because I have more confidence in what we’ve done with the secondary.

Between Tre Brown and the two rookies, we need two of those three guys to pan out. My hope is that Brown returns from injury and parlays his brief excellence as a rookie into better things going forward. I’d also bank on Coby Bryant having enough of a chip on his shoulder – and enough skills as a corner – to wrench a job away from Sidney Jones. I’m also not against Jones simply being elite and earning a big money extension, because he’s still pretty young. There are obviously a ton of question marks in this group, but the ceiling is through the roof, and I’m willing to bank on this coaching staff getting the most out of these guys (in ways they thoroughly failed at with Tre Flowers & Co.).

Like it or not, Jamal Adams isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Definitely not before the 2022 season is through. So, he has at least this year to try to prove his worth to this defense. There’s certainly reason for optimism that – from a talent perspective – the coaching staff will find a way to maximize his game. But, can he stay healthy? If this is the third straight year where his season is drastically cut short, then I don’t see how you can keep him in 2023 or beyond. Quandre Diggs, on the other hand, should be a quality contributor for a while, and the younger players behind them (Ugo Amadi, Marquise Blair, Ryan Neal) are quality depth pieces we can roll with in a good defense. I think we’re well set up at Safety, even if the value isn’t there (with our two starters making an insanely high percentage of the salary cap).

Inside linebacker is pretty interesting. I think we’re all pretty happy with Jordyn Brooks and his production on the field. I was of the opinion that it was time to move on from Bobby Wagner, so it’s kind of a no-brainer for Brooks to slide into that spot. But, with the defense expected to be more of a 3-4 look, did we do enough? Are we really going with Cody Barton as the other inside linebacker? Sure, he looked … fine, in limited action towards the end of the season. From a value perspective, he was giving us 80% of Bobby Wagner for a fraction of the price. But, does he really wow you going forward? Is he someone this team would look to re-sign after this season?

I guess we’ll see! Seems to me, there’s no reason NOT to have an open competition at the other inside linebacker spot. Which makes it all the more shocking that the Seahawks didn’t make this position a priority in the draft. The good news is, if everything goes to shit here, they can easily draft one next year and plug him into the starting lineup immediately. Inside linebackers are a dime a dozen.

At outside linebacker/pass rusher, I think it’s fair to doubt the Seahawks completely. I’ll believe it when I see it, for lack of a better phrase. Uchenna Nwosu was the big free agent splash, and he signed a 2-year deal. His season high in sacks is 5.0, which he got last year. He’s a 4-year pro from the Chargers who is more like a veteran prospect than an actual veteran producer. Maybe he wasn’t in the right system? Maybe they didn’t utilize him properly? Maybe he just needed more time to develop? I guess his pressure rate might be better than it looks on the stat sheet, but I’m going to need to see him with my eyes before I can make a proper opinion. Is he a diamond in the rough? Or, is he another Rasheem Green?

Darrell Taylor is our prize. He missed out on his rookie season due to a lingering college injury, but as a second year pro he really stood out. 6.5 sacks in his first healthy season is pretty impressive; THAT’S something to build on. That’s the kind of talent you can see making strides during his rookie contract, unlike Nwosu, who never really put it together with his original team.

Then, there’s guys like Alton Robinson and Boye Mafe. Robinson had 4.0 sacks as a rookie, then regressed to the one sack last year. He might just be rotational filler, and it’s fair to question if he even makes the team. Mafe is a rookie, and unless you’re one of the top two or three in the draft, I never have confidence that lower-rated pass rushers will make an immediate impact. If he gets a few sacks, that’s good. If he gets 6+, that’s a little more encouraging. But, I wouldn’t expect anything like double-digits. He just doesn’t have the skills; it’s a whole new ballgame when you make the leap to the NFL. Mostly, I just hope he stays healthy – especially through training camp and the pre-season – so he can learn on the job as much as possible.

Beyond that, we have to talk about the 3-4 interior linemen. Some of them are considered defensive ends, but they’re “ends” in the way Red Bryant was an end. Shelby Harris came over in the Russell Wilson trade and figures to be a leader on this team. He’s already in his 30’s though, so presumably he’ll need to play well in 2022 to stick around going forward. Quinton Jefferson was signed as veteran depth to compete with L.J. Collier; you figure only one of those guys will make it. Then, there are the tackles, Poona Ford, Bryan Mone, and Al Woods. I like the tackles a lot! Harris is probably the best of the bigger ends we have. This looks like another spot that will need to be addressed after this season. But, as far as run stuffing is concerned, I think these guys are on the better side of average.

The defense is, by no means, a finished product. Far from it. But, you don’t really even have to squint to see where the potential lies. Pass rush is a concern and it always will be. But, I’ll say this about that: if everything else looks good, and if we manage to hit on the rookie quarterback next year, then we can attempt to do what we did in 2013 and sign a couple of quality free agent pass rushers, using all the free money we have laying around by not paying a quarterback at the top of the market. Free agency in 2023 and 2024 could be VERY interesting for the Seahawks, in ways it really hasn’t been since that Super Bowl-winning season.

TL;DR: there’s reason for optimism, but obviously a lot of holes to fill, and a lot of question marks currently on the roster to boot.