Trying To Predict A 2020 Seahawks Roster

I do one of these every year; they’re a waste of time, but they’re fun. There are, as with every new season, a number of intriguing battles coming up in training camp. It’ll be interesting to see who makes the cut (either because they’re going to contribute, or because we don’t want them poached by other teams), who is able to slide onto the expanded practice squad (however big it ends up being), and who washes out completely.

Mostly, I’m just interested in seeing if there’s a legitimate way for Shaquem Griffin to make this team, or if he has to beat out a significant role player from a year ago. I think we’ll be pleasantly surprised!

Quarterback

  • Russell Wilson
  • Geno Smith
  • Anthony Gordon

This will be more interesting than it’s been in a LONG time, because for the first year since Wilson became entrenched as this team’s starter, I think there’s a legitimate chance this team keeps a third quarterback. Anthony Gordon comes as highly-touted as an undrafted quarterback gets, so the risk of trying to pawn him off on the practice squad could be too high. Also, given COVID concerns, it will be prudent to keep an extra one laying around just in case we’re short-handed for a week or two. The argument against that is, obviously, depth on this team is pretty great (with lots of young guys we’d prefer to keep around to fill starting roles in upcoming seasons), and it’s hard to justify having TWO quarterbacks who – if all goes according to plan – will never see the light of day. Also, without a preseason, there’s less of a chance for Gordon to shine. I’m leaning towards he makes the roster, but we’ll have to see what other teams do with their own cuts (the more injuries to the quarterback position around the league, the likelier it is that Gordon would get claimed).

Running Back

  • Chris Carson
  • DeeJay Dallas
  • Travis Homer
  • Carlos Hyde
  • Matt Nick Bellore (FB)

It is with a very reluctant and annoyed sigh that I include the fullback (whose first name I had to look up to confirm is NOT Matt) on this list. I put up with a lot as a Seahawks fan – first and foremost, the utter lack of cooking we let Russ participate in – but rostering a fullback is one of the more galling. He participates in a VERY small handful of offensive snaps per game, and otherwise is a Special Teams guy of no note (to me anyway, who – granted – doesn’t follow the Special Teams goings on all that closely). The rest of these running backs listed are self-explanatory (Rashaad Penny will start on the PUP list).

Wide Receiver & Tight End

  • Tyler Lockett
  • D.K. Metcalf
  • Phillip Dorsett
  • David Moore
  • John Ursua or Freddie Swain
  • Will Dissly (TE)
  • Greg Olsen (TE)
  • Jacob Hollister (TE)
  • Cody Colby Parkinson or Luke Willson (TE)

I’ll be the first to admit, these spots are mostly a mystery to me. From a numbers standpoint, I think we’re looking at nine of these guys, with some very tough cuts to be made. I’m leaning towards Ursua given his experience, and Colby “don’t call me Cody” Parkinson (I really need to stop trying to do this based off of memory) over Willson only if Parkinson is healthy. Really, I could see a 3-way battle for two spots by throwing Hollister in there, but I think his overall effectiveness down the stretch last year as this team’s starter gives him the edge. Also, someone like Josh Gordon definitely throws a wrinkle into this mix (if he’s reinstated by the league), but in that case I would expect David Moore to get chopped, because they essentially play the same receiver spot, while Ursua/Swain are both projected to be slot guys.

Offensive Line

  • B.J. Finney
  • Duane Brown
  • Phil Haynes
  • Mike Iupati
  • Damien Lewis
  • Cedric Ogbuehi
  • Brandon Shell
  • Ethan Pocic or Kyle Fuller
  • Jamarco Jones or Jordan Simmons

I’m pretty sold on these being your nine to eleven offensive linemen, depending on what the team wants to do (and how big the rosters actually are this season). Of the projected “safe” bets, Iupati is probably on the shakiest ground – considering his age and likelihood of wearing down over the course of the season – but I like him to make it and be a starter out of the gate since there won’t be any pre-season games (and the team will likely want to settle on an official Starting Five relatively early in camp, to give them the most reps and allow for the most continuity as possible).

The offense, as listed, comes to 26 players. Usually, you like a 25/25 split between offense and defense, but I don’t think it’s been totally settled how big rosters are going to be. If anything, I think I’m one spot low on the O-Line (there will almost certainly be 10 guys kept there), which could mean nothing, or could mean our third quarterback pipe dream goes POOF!

Cornerback & Safety

  • Shaquill Griffin
  • Tre Flowers
  • Neiko Thorpe
  • Ugo Amadi
  • Marquise Blair (FS)
  • Jamal Adams (SS)
  • Quandre Diggs (FS)
  • Lano Hill (SS)
  • Quinton Dunbar or CB TBD

I’m not calling Amadi a safety – even though he’s listed as such – because everyone keeps saying he’s going to be in the running for a nickel cornerback spot. That would, in effect, make Lano Hill’s standing on this team relatively secure, but we’ll see (because I still don’t think he’s very good). Quinton Dunbar, obviously, has a bevy of legal hurdles to clear before he can play again, which could open up a spot for one of our young guys to be a surprise contender. D.J. Reed – recently claimed off of waivers from the 49ers – figures to be injured until late into the season, but could provide a nice boost in November or December, if he recovers okay.

Defensive Line

  • L.J. Collier
  • Rasheem Green
  • Benson Mayowa
  • Alton Robinson
  • Darrell Taylor
  • Poona Ford (DT)
  • Jarran Reed (DT)
  • Bryan Mone (DT)
  • DL TBD

The consensus is: we’re at least one defensive tackle short on this roster. Of course, there are tweeners – like Collier and Green – who can slide inside, but word on the street is the Seahawks are seriously considering a street free agent to be a boost to our outside pass rush (Everson Griffen or even Clay Matthews maybe), which really makes me wonder what this unit is going to look like when it’s all said and done.

Linebacker

  • Bobby Wagner
  • K.J. Wright
  • Bruce Irvin
  • Jordyn Brooks
  • Cody Barton
  • Ben Burr-Kirven
  • Shaquem Griffin

When you factor in Bruce Irvin largely playing defensive end, as well as Shaquem Griffin, that’s a lot of edge rushing on this team. That puts the official number at 25 players for defense (although, again, I’m probably one short on the defensive line, when it comes to the D-Tackle spot specifically). I mean, unless rosters are expanded to a full 55 players (26 offense, 26 defense, 3 special teams specialists), there will be some REALLY difficult cuts to be made here.

We’re still a week away from training camp getting started, so obviously a lot can change between now and then. I’m sure I’ll be off-base in any number of ways! Such is the fun and the pointlessness of an exercise like this.

The Seahawks Traded Away A Fuckload To Bring Back Jamal Adams

Turns out it wasn’t just a nonsense rumor.

Here’s the damage. The Jets get:

  • 2021 & 2022 Seahawks first round draft picks
  • 2021 Seahawks third round draft pick
  • Bradley McDougald, with 1 year and $3.6 million remaining on his deal

The Seahawks get:

  • 2022 Jets fourth round pick
  • Jamal Adams, making around $3.59 million this year, and set to earn $9.86 million in 2021

Fine, so Jamal Adams is one of the best safeties in football. Does that make him worth two first rounders? Is ANY safety worth two first rounders? Well, you could argue (and I have) that the Seahawks are just going to screw up with whoever they select in the first round anyway, so what are first rounders REALLY worth on this team? Still, it seems like getting rid of a headache for the Jets should come at a little bit more of a discount!

How is Jamal Adams a headache, you ask? Well, he fancies himself one of the best safeties in football, and as you can see from above, he’s not exactly taking in the type of money one would expect. Also, not for nothing, but he had the misfortune of being drafted by the Jets! As one of the poorer-run franchises in all of professional sports (not the worst, mind you; they’re not the Washington Football Team or anything), they rarely make good decisions on personnel and ipso facto, they rarely make the playoffs or are any sort of legitimate threat to win championships. So, of course, he’s been threatening to hold out (don’t know how much good that does players anymore), requesting a re-worked deal at the top of the safety market, demanding a re-worked deal at the top of the safety market, and ultimately just demanding a trade out of the Jets’ organization.

The Jets seemed willing to wait it out. With the fourth year of Adams’ rookie deal yet to be played, and with the fifth year option already administered, they were holding a pretty good hand. The Seahawks opted to blink first, and here we are.

What’s interesting is, you might expect the Seahawks to turn around and immediately announce a long-term contract extension for Adams. Not to say that still can’t happen (indeed, the way salary has been dumped over the last day might indicate something is afoot), but a reporter on Twitter this morning said both sides have agreed that Adams will play on his existing contract, with no promises about the future. My hunch is, if this is true, the Seahawks are going to see how he looks and determine how best to fit him within the scheme, and then if it pans out, either extend him sometime during the season or in the next offseason. I do NOT expect Adams to play on his fifth-year option next year, nor do I expect the Seahawks to let him walk (at best, we would get a third round draft pick in compensation if he did, which is nowhere near worth the cost of giving up two first rounders and a third).

I’ll be interested in how Jamal Adams is used by the Seahawks. When I think of the best safety in football, I think of Earl Thomas. I think THAT guy has real high-end value! His speed, his instincts, his playmaking when it comes to generating turnovers and absolutely destroying fools: it’s pretty unmatched! By all accounts, Adams doesn’t play the same game as Earl. While you can put him in at free safety, that’s not his natural spot; he’s more of a strong safety, or even a quasi-linebacker type.

He has 12.0 sacks in his 3-year career, including a whopping 6.5 last year! He’s also only got two interceptions, which is pretty underwhelming. In looking at various charts and whatnot, it looks like Adams lines up pretty close to the line of scrimmage on most plays, which would indicate more of a Kam Chancellor type. Don’t get me wrong, I love me some Kam – he’s one of my all-time favorite professional athletes! – but is he worth two 1’s and a 3?

People say Adams is a better version of Kam, that he can do more in coverage (particularly against tight ends *ahem, George Kittle*). And, really, what’s undeniable is that this defense has NOT been the same since Kam was forced into early retirement because of his neck injury.

I have a lot of conflicting emotions, is the point I’m trying to make. The Seahawks don’t have the best track record when it comes to these types of blockbuster trades (which I’ll look into in a future post). But, here’s the good news: the Seahawks added another playmaker!

Adams is undeniably an upgrade over Bradley McDougald. I was a big fan of McDougald when he was here; I thought the Seahawks got tremendous value out of him in his three years here. But, he’s 30 years old this year, and while he laced ’em up just about every game, injuries wore his body down. McDougald was generally pretty great early in seasons, but his production fell off the map as the weeks dragged on and he was forced to play through a nagging this or a bruised that. As an everyman, as a third option to fill in or help out on a part-time basis, I don’t think there are many who would be better in that role than McDougald; in a defense featuring Quandre Diggs and Marquise Blair as your starters, I liked that trio a lot.

But, McDougald almost certainly would’ve started off this season as one of the starters, and Blair is the big unknown in all of this. He was a rookie last year, ultimately didn’t play much at all until very late in the season, and now here we are in 2020 with no pre-season games and some weird training camp that’s unlike anything we’ve ever had to experience before. How much can you count on Blair taking a big step forward? And, will he EVER develop into a viable starting safety in this league?

I don’t know the answer to that. No one does. Jamal Adams, on the other hand, is a proven, elite strong safety. Quandre Diggs is a proven, very good, free safety. Combined, we might be looking at the very best safety tandem in all of football (and, if Quinton Dunbar is freed of all charges and allowed to play this year, that will translate into the Seahawks having the very best secondary in all of football). With Blair as your number three, there’s just a bit of a drop-off from McDougald, but the upside is significantly higher. If Blair reaches that upside, then at some point we can let Diggs walk and have Blair take over at free safety.

What this trade signifies is this: Pete Carroll did NOT like the Seahawks’ secondary last year! He did NOT like playing so much base defense! The fact that we muddled through and somehow made the playoffs is a testament to our coaching staff and defensive scheme (and, yeah, Russell Wilson, but there have been plenty of elite quarterbacks with terrible defenses who failed to make the playoffs, so he doesn’t get ALL the credit). But, Carroll was NOT about to suffer another season of this secondary getting shredded.

The thing that a lot of football people keep returning to is the massive haul the Seahawks gave up. Here’s a good article delving pretty deep into it. Normally, when you see teams giving up multiple first rounders, you’re getting someone who the consensus feels is at a position of importance. A defensive end (Khalil Mack), a lockdown cornerback (Jalen Ramsey), a left tackle (Laremy Tunsil). You don’t see it a lot with quarterbacks, mostly because the very best QB’s are kept by their teams, but historically you’ve seen it with them (Jay Cutler, Jeff George, Jim Everett) and running backs (Ricky Williams, Herschel Walker, Eric Dickerson). Safety, as that article points out, is not considered to be one of the highest-value positions (as their salaries tend to indicate).

To that, I would say, I don’t agree with the consensus. I think safeties can make all the difference on a defense. I don’t see anyone complaining when they have one of the very best safeties in all of football, because those guys are constantly making impact plays! Usually, at least once a game, and once in a while they can absolutely take over! When it comes to the NFL, and the parity therein, just one more high-impact play per game can really impact your season. It can make a mediocre team good enough for a Wild Card spot, and it can make a Wild Card team good enough to win a division!

The Seahawks certainly hope the latter comes true in 2020.

While I’m a safety apologist, I do buy the argument that maybe this wasn’t the ideal blockbuster for this team to make. As I’ve noted, I was pretty happy with the safeties we had. Without Adams, this team had the potential to have a very good – maybe Top 5 – secondary, so the improvement might’ve very well been negligible. On the other hand, there are outlets indicating the Seahawks have the 32nd-ranked defensive line/pass rush (out of 32 teams), and if there’s a defensive end out there who could’ve been had for the same haul of draft picks, the Seahawks probably would’ve been better served going that route. I can’t argue with that! I’m the guy who’s been going on and on about the defensive line all offseason! A trade like THAT might’ve pulled this unit up into the middle of the pack; with all else being the same, that’s probably enough to make this team a Super Bowl contender, instead of just Wild Card fodder.

It’s not even an argument, but I would question if there WERE any elite defensive ends out there that were available to be traded. Khalil Mack is a future Hall of Famer, were any of these other disgruntled, franchise tagged defensive ends on a similar course? If not, then that’s probably not draft capital well spent. I mean, is that Jacksonville guy really REALLY elite? Or, is he one of dozens of guys who out-performed his rookie deal and is mad he’s on a shitty team?

Jamal Adams seems like he’s really REALLY elite. He looks like he’s on a Hall of Fame course. And, he’ll be only 25 years old in October, so there are PLENTY of great years ahead.

At this point, my only concern is character-based. He’s obviously upset with how little money he’s earning. He knows he’s going to get a huge deal somewhere. He probably understands that he’s going to get that here in Seattle. But, how reasonable is he? The Seahawks obviously have a lot of experience with passionate, arrogant, sometimes-unhinged individuals with no lacking of self-confidence. Is Adams going to get along with this coaching staff and front office? Or, is he going to be a pain in the ass from day one that we’re stuck with because we pushed all of our chips into the middle of the table to get this guy in here?

I’m willing to suffer those types of players when the Seahawks draft them; I’m less willing to put up with it from outsiders, from hired guns we bring in for the express purpose of winning us a championship. We’ll see.

The bottom line is, I’m not thrilled with what it cost to get him here. I’m not super-jazzed about the moderate improvement to our secondary (compared to what could’ve been a significant improvement to our defensive line). I’m wary about how we’re going to be trounced from a value standpoint, for a guy who we’re only seeing for one of the four years on his rookie deal (before he starts making about $15 million per season as one of the highest-paid guys on our team). But, I love a great safety! If he comes in, makes an immediate and lasting impact, then who cares what it cost to get him here and keep him here?! If we win the Super Bowl during Russell Wilson’s prime, then again, who gives a horse fuck?!

All Pros are always worth having on your team. The more, the better. Heading into 2020, all we had was Bobby Wagner on defense. Now, we’ve got him and Jamal Adams. The middle of our defense is going to be SICK!

I Don’t See Why The Seahawks Should Break The Bank For Jamal Adams

This is what happens when there’s no baseball: I feel compelled to write about every nonsense rumor that pops up on the Internet. Get your shit together, MLB!

Jamal Adams is a really good Safety for the New York Jets. I mean, I guess. I’ll take your word for it. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen him play, I don’t know if he’s a free safety or a strong safety (I’m, like, 85% positive he IS a safety, though), and even though I just looked at an article about him (with pictures) I don’t even think I could tell you the number he wears!

I would venture to say – based on what everyone is saying about him, and the fact that he’s holding out for more money/demanding a trade to get that money – that he’s one of the best safeties in football. So, yeah, in that sense, WHY NOT?! I’m a Seahawks fan, why wouldn’t I want all the best players to be on my team?

Well, because in the NFL, you don’t have unlimited resources. You’ve got to find a way to fit this new contract in your salary cap without it costing you some of your other best players, and you’ve got to trade a king’s ransom of draft picks just to get him here! The Seahawks have been willing to do that a number of times over the years and even the best-case scenario (being Duane Brown) still set us back pretty severely in how much we had to give up to get him here. At least with Brown, it filled a very specific and dire need; with Percy Harvin and Jimmy Graham, they were luxuries this team didn’t need and didn’t even know how to use properly (or could manage to keep healthy). I would argue Adams falls more in the latter camp.

The Seahawks’ secondary is fine. It’s not the Legion of Boom, but it’s good enough. It’s not a liability. Everyone is super down on Bradley McDougald for some reason, as if he’s been a huge liability and not the best, most-consistent player in our secondary since Earl Thomas went down. Paired with Quandre Diggs, I think they give you about 90% of what the L.O.B. safeties gave us in their heyday, which is fine by me.

Also, not for nothing, but Marquise Blair was a second round draft pick last year. Everyone who knows anything about the NFL knows the best way to build your team is through the draft. And yet, everyone seems to forget that whenever one of these hotshots hits the free agency/trade market. Why are we taking Blair so high if we’re not grooming him to be our Safety Of The Future? At some point, you have to trust in your process and not go after every huge name that becomes available!

Duane Brown made sense because we really didn’t have any highly-rated prospects coming up the pipeline at left tackle. Jamal Adams doesn’t make sense, with how our roster is constructed at the moment. If he’d become available this time last year, I’d suggest you’re onto something. But, we have Quandre Diggs, who I like a lot, as well as two competent other safeties and three pretty solid cornerbacks. The secondary is set! Stop worrying about the secondary!

And stop trying to throw away all of our high future draft picks! We need those guys too! A lot more than we need to incrementally improve at safety.

Also, 33. Jamal Adams’ jersey number is 33. I had to look it up, but I couldn’t let this thing end without figuring that out. Also, I guess he’s primarily a strong safety, but can play both? Or really anywhere? I dunno, and I don’t much care. Just don’t join another team in the NFC West and I’ll be relatively happy.

Making Heads Or Tails Of The Latest Seahawks Media Blitz

General Manager John Schneider has been in the news a lot lately, doing interviews and whatnot. Over the years, it’s hard not to have your ears perk up whenever this happens. It’s obviously not a super-busy time in the football year; once the hullabaloo around the draft is over, things are pretty dead until ramping back up again in August. So, what’s with all the chatter?

The sports media landscape is a lot different nowadays. Players and teams are much more savvy with what they let get out into the world (for the most part). If there’s a news item about a player, it’s generally some bit of information that’s been leaked to a trusted reporter – who is always loathe to reveal his “sources” because he wants to maintain that connect for future stories – for a very specific reason. Depending on the tenor of the story, you can tell if it was the player’s camp or a team camp that leaked it. This is usually done in conjunction with negotiations – the team doesn’t want to pay as much, the player wants to squeeze every last dollar out of his value – so little items are thrown out into the world. It’s the cosmic ballet that is professional sports and … it’s really just a distraction, but ultimately not very important.

It’s all about image. No one wants to be the bad guy in this song and dance. It’s all just business; nothing personal!

You can’t help but start to take notice, though, when instead of leaking messages as an anonymous source, the team sends a prominent representative out into the world to show their hand. Teams don’t have to do any more media appearances than is otherwise necessary to drum up interest in fans and sell season tickets. So, that’s why you tend to see the coach and/or GM in the good times: during/immediately after the draft, and upon signing a quality free agent. These are advertisements – infomercials, if you will – for the Seattle Seahawks Football Club: Catch The Excitement! As draft hysteria has drifted back out to sea, however, we’re still seeing John Schneider pop up to talk about the Seahawks’ offseason plan. With good reason, of course.

There are two universal truths we’ve been harping on since the 2019 season ended: the Seahawks’ pass rush stinks, and Jadeveon Clowney is a free agent. After making a number of moves – signing Bruce Irvin and Benson Mayowa, re-signing Jarran Reed, drafting Darrell Taylor and Alton Robinson – the consensus is: the Seahawks’ pass rush still stinks. Again, I can’t stress this enough: it stunk as bad as could possibly be in 2019 and that was WITH Clowney, one of the most effective defensive linemen in the league (when healthy). As it turns out, that health factor is a lot bigger than we anticipated, as Clowney remains unsigned well into the month of May, with no end in sight.

What has caught a lot of eyes is the fact that the Seahawks – according to Over The Cap – have a little over $16 million in salary cap space at the moment. Of course, it should be noted that this figure doesn’t factor in the rookie salaries we’ll have to pay for our draft picks. Then, you have to set aside some money for minimum-salary guys the team brings in when our regulars get hurt and have to go on Injured Reserve. Also, the Seahawks put a lot of incentives into their deals with players that don’t necessarily show up in cap totals until those players hit those incentives. All these hidden figures ultimately detract from that $16 million. Smart fans know this, but most fans aren’t as into the weeds on these things; so they see a player like Clowney – easily the best-available free agent still on the market – and they see their Seahawks with a need at the very position he fills, and they’re wondering, “What gives?”

I mean, if nothing else, you have to figure that’s what Clowney’s agent is saying in negotiations with the Seahawks!

Beat writers and bloggers can bring up these hidden salary cap expenses until they’re blue in the face, but most fans are only going to sit up and take notice when the team tells them something directly. Enter: John Schneider.

There’s been a definite theme in his recent interviews that Schneider has been trying to get across: the importance of in-season moves.

The Seahawks are no stranger to making roster moves all throughout the year. Why, in 2019 alone, we made a deal for Quandre Diggs in the middle of the season that vastly improved our secondary; on top of taking a flier on Josh Gordon, who had at least one big catch in every game he appeared in. Then, with our rash of running back injuries late in the year, we famously brought back Marshawn Lynch to score us a few TDs in December and January! If I wanted to put in the work, I’m sure I could go back and list a bunch of other in-season moves the Seahawks have made through the years, but just trust me when I tell you that this isn’t a new concept for this organization.

And yet, this is the first time I ever remember the team harping on this fact in interviews. It’s obviously for a reason!

The way I see it, this has everything to do with Clowney, and it can be only one of two things. Either the team truly has moved on from Clowney, and the Seahawks are trying to get fans on board with this decision; or the team actually IS willing to bring Clowney back, but they’re going to remain firm in their lowball offer to him, and he either needs to get on board with it or find employment elsewhere.

This has to be hard for fans AND Clowney to reconcile, because as has been noted repeatedly, the Seahawks have a number of moves they can make to free up some extra money. They can cut certain veterans to free up salary cap space; but, this weakens our depth and probably robs Peter to pay Paul. Sure, our defensive line will be stronger with Clowney, but if that means cutting Bradley McDougald, that likely weakens our secondary and could be a wash in the grand scheme of 2020 things. They can also convert base salaries for guys like Russell Wilson or Bobby Wagner – guys you know aren’t going anywhere – into signing bonuses, to further spread out those figures across the remaining lives of their respective contracts; but, that kicks the can down the road and puts your team’s financial flexibility in jeopardy in a few years. Under normal circumstances, you could argue that’s a no-brainer – especially with Russell Wilson, who isn’t going ANYWHERE, hopefully ever – but with this whole COVID-19 pandemic (and the likelihood of games being played without money from ticket sales/concessions coming in for part or all of 2020), the effects on future salary caps could be dire. The NFL salary cap has gone up by around 10% or so every season since the last CBA went into effect in 2010, but there’s a very legitimate chance that it stays flat or even goes DOWN in the next year or two. Considering Wilson – as is – takes up a considerable percentage of the team’s cap number, boosting that by converting his base into bonus just seems like flirting with disaster.

The thing is, I do believe the Seahawks are being truthful when they talk about the importance of in-season moves. There are always guys being waived, or otherwise floated in trade offers, and it’s nice to have that flexibility to bring on talented players (or at least prevent those talented players from going to your playoff rivals). I also believe that the Seahawks can’t put all their eggs in the Clowney basket. However small it may feel, there’s a non-zero chance that the Seahawks’ pass rush actually manages to IMPROVE (somehow) without him here. It’s going to take a big leap of faith; guys who have never performed at this level are going to have to step up and take some of the load off of mediocre-looking veterans. It’s not IMPOSSIBLE … but, you know, I’ll believe it when I see it, I guess.

The bottom line is: probably don’t count on Clowney being back. Nevertheless, I’d love to see the Seahawks bring SOMEONE in, that’s an actual name who we can count on to give this pass rush a little more zazz.

Potential Players The Seahawks Could Trade For Draft Picks

Today’s the day! Day One of the NFL Draft! And I CANNOT stress this enough: don’t expect the Seahawks to make a pick tonight.

I really put this off until the last minute, so this post pretty much has a shelf-life of 12-36 hours, I’m guessing. I meant to talk about this earlier in the week, but what can I say? I just forgot; issa pandemic!

I keep saying that the Seahawks are bound to make some trades to acquire more draft picks, because they’ve never drafted fewer than eight times in any Pete Carroll/John Schneider draft, and the odds are pretty good that the Seahawks move down from 27th in the first round and get more mid-round picks that way.

But, you never know; there’s an outside chance the Seahawks trade an actual player already on the roster! So, let’s see who’s vulnerable.

Right away, I’m looking at Ethan Pocic. He’s in the final year of his rookie contract, he’s been trained across pretty much the entire offensive line, but for many reasons he’s been unable to secure a starting gig in spite of being a second round draft pick. Those reasons, of course, are: injuries & ineffectiveness (a lethal combo in – I’m gonna say it – pretty much every profession on Earth). Have the Seahawks lost faith in Pocic? Well, given how many street free agents we’ve signed this offseason, the odds are pretty high. Could we flip him for a 6th or 7th rounder? It only takes one team!

I don’t think this is a move anyone in his right mind would advocate for, but once the Seahawks traded for Quinton Dunbar, Tre Flowers’ future appeared to be in serious question with this team. He’s heading into his third year in the NFL, with two full seasons’ worth of starting experience. I’m not saying the Seahawks SHOULD trade Flowers, but it wouldn’t surprise me if he’s on the block, at the right price. Honestly, I don’t think I’d take anything less than a third rounder for him; he does still have two years left on his rookie deal, after all. That has to be worth SOMETHING! Especially if you believe – like I kind of do – that he’s bound to make a leap in effectiveness in 2020. If it were up to me, I’d rather hang onto him and try him out on the inside (or start Dunbar on the outside in base defense and then move him inside in Nickel situations), but I think you at least have to listen to offers.

Bradley McDougald is another interesting candidate for this thought experiment. He’s in the final year of his contract and will cost approximately $4 million to any team that takes him on. Quandre Diggs looks like a stud, and Marquise Blair wasn’t drafted last year to play backup his entire career. Now, of course, the problem with trading McDougald is your depth at safety takes a SERIOUS hit. What if Blair isn’t ready? What if Blair is injury-prone? What if – *shudder* – we have to start Lano Hill as a result of this (someone I’m sure we’d all LOVE to see traded away, except he sucks so hard he has zero value)? This is another one I wouldn’t advocate for, but again, if the price is right (I’d say a fourth rounder or higher), you’ve gotta consider it.

I’m gonna put this one among the LEAST likely moves – for a variety of reasons – but Chris Carson is in the final year of his rookie deal. He’s an absolute STAR, but he’s had to overcome a lot of injuries in his own short career (and, frankly, I don’t even know if he’s healthy NOW). Nevertheless, if the Seahawks look to be major players in drafting a running back (or two), then they might want to clear the deck of any entrenched starters (particularly if they select a running back in the first couple days of the draft). Trading Carson is, of course, unlikely because running backs are a dime a dozen, as well as those injury issues I talked about. MAYBE we’d look at getting a 6th or 7th rounder in return, but that hardly seems worth it when you consider how dominant Carson can be when he’s on his game. I’d rather just let him play out his deal and let him walk.

Finally, because I could be here all day, I wonder about Jacob Hollister’s future. As has been noted before, the Seahawks have A LOT of tight ends on one-year deals, so you have to figure they’re looking to draft someone for the future. My hunch is, if they select someone early enough, they might flip Hollister for a mid-to-late round draft pick. OR, they could flip him for a pick in the 2021 draft (maybe make it conditional up to a fourth rounder, if he has a great season). I’m choosing Hollister for this exercise because Greg Olsen obviously figures heavily into our 2020 plans, Dissly is too good to give up on just yet (plus his value is low after a second consecutive injury-shortened season), and Luke Willson is really only valuable to the Seahawks at this point (we picked him up off the street partway through 2019 for a reason).

The Seahawks Traded For Quinton Dunbar (Isn’t That Enough For You?!)

The Seahawks had a BIG need to improve their cornerback play. I don’t know if this will do the trick or not, but it’s a nice step in the right direction.

We traded a 5th rounder to the Redskins, which sounds like a steal according to reports. 2020 will be his sixth season in the league, which will see him making just over $3 million (the final year of his current deal). He’s 6’2 and coming off of the best season of his career (he was one of the higher-rated cornerbacks, depending on where you look).

But, of course, there’s a catch. With the type of production he had last year (4 picks and 8 passes defended in 11 games), he’s already demanded a trade or a raise from the Redskins, so presumably he won’t be happy playing for just under $3.5 million from ANY team. Also, not for nothing, but his last two seasons – really his only seasons as a starting cornerback – ended prematurely with leg/hamstring injuries. When you factor in the relatively small sample size, combined with what I’m expecting to be a pretty high demand for a contract extension, you can see why this might blow up in our faces.

Does he show up to play? Does he hold out into the regular season? Any pre-season holdouts will significantly hamper his value, as he’ll need that time to learn our system. Or, do we sign him to an early extension right away? That could be great! But, what if he doesn’t fit our system? What if injuries creep into play? And, what if recent Pro Bowler Shaquill Griffin – who, himself, is heading into his first opportunity to nab an early extension (he’s set to earn just over $2 million in 2020, the final year of his rookie deal) – ends up disgruntled that the Seahawks opted to reward a newcomer (arguably a less-accomplished newcomer, compared to Griffin, who has started all three years) before him?

There are just SO MANY WAYS this can go haywire!

Look, in a bubble, obviously it’s a great deal. Just like we did with Quandre Diggs in the middle of the 2019 season, we were able to flip a fifth round pick for a quality starter in our secondary. But, there are so many other things that can happen (and we still have to either sign Clowney or another elite defensive end to help round out our front seven), that it all feels a little daunting. I’m not saying I regret it happening; but I’m saying there’s still a lot to be done in just this situation alone to make being excited about the 2020 Seahawks defense more palatable.

In that aforementioned bubble, of course, is the fact that Dunbar probably takes over immediately for Tre Flowers. Dunbar also has experience playing the slot, if it comes to that. I’ll be honest, I don’t HATE Flowers, but I think he got thrown to the wolves a little bit as a rookie (converting from safety to corner for the first time in his career), and unfortunately I don’t think he quite made as much progress as we’d hoped for in Year 2. He had a particularly brutal run in the playoffs that had a lot of people calling for his head. I think those wishes have been granted, to an extent. But, I also don’t think we’ve seen the last of him. Shaquill Griffin had an up & down rookie season, then struggled mightily in his second year (flipping from the right side to the left side of the defense, with Richard Sherman leaving), but he made a big leap last year, his third season. Well, it wouldn’t shock me in the slightest if Tre Flowers did the same thing.

The only question I want to worry about with the Seahawks is who plays the right side, and who plays nickel? I’d like happy players, under reasonable contracts, to take all other concerns off my plate. Because, if we can get THERE (and, of course, if we can continue to improve our pass rush), then I’ll be willing to let my excitement level bubble over.

Will Stefon Diggs Be In The Seahawks’ Future?

I’m usually loathe to even READ blog posts talking about possible free agent or trade targets for my favorite teams, because they seem like the definition of a waste of time, so you can imagine my disdain when it comes to writing something on my very own blog. But, God dammit if it isn’t a big ol’ dead season for Seattle sports, and I’ve got this nasty hunch that the Seahawks will be a Two-Diggs team in the near future.

Have the Seahawks learned nothing when it comes to acquiring ex-Vikings wide receivers? Sure, Nate Burleson was fine, but he was the obvious short end of the spite stick when it came to losing Steve Hutchinson; but Percy Harvin was a God damn disaster, and this possible move sure as hell feels a lot like that one.

Three draft picks (including a 1st and a 3rd) along with a boatload of money (ultimately costing us the opportunity to extend Golden Tate; whether he would’ve wanted to stay here is another matter entirely, though) for a guy who ran a kickoff back for a touchdown in a Super Bowl we won by 35 points. Not exactly tremendous bang for the ol’ buck.

The cool thing about trading for a receiver who already got his big-money extension is that (in this case) after the 2020 season, you can get out from under the rest of his deal with little-to-no dead money. The Vikings take the accelerated salary cap hit as soon as they move him. That’s a good and bad thing, because obviously when you’re talking about a player like Diggs – who’s arguably a Top 10 or 15 talent at the position – the draft pick compensation in return is likely to be as substantial as what we gave up for Harvin.

I mean, unless Diggs can be a big, loud problem for the Vikings, who might be enticed to make a desperation move in the name of locker room chemistry. But, then again, is that the type of personality we’d want to bring into our environment?

And, that’s ultimately the deal with the devil you make. Diggs has repeatedly complained – both in the media and to the coaches & players on the Vikings – about not getting the ball enough. So, we’re talking about bringing that guy onto the team that throws it among the fewest times in the league? On a team that already has Tyler Lockett and D.K. Metcalf? With a quarterback who likes to spread the ball around with the best of ’em?

Furthermore, we’re talking about a team with holes a-plenty on defense. We’re likely to make a hard push to keep Clowney, and on top of that we’ll need these resources to bolster our defensive line in other ways. From 2020-2023, Diggs is earning between $10.9 million and $11.4 million per year, plus roster/workout bonuses, plus possible incentives. That’s a significant chunk of change for a team already paying beaucoup bucks to the likes of Wilson, Wagner, and Brown. Also, not for nothing, but I was kinda hoping the Seahawks – if they’re going to trade away draft capital for superstar veterans – they’d use those resources for a prominent pass rusher.

But, hey, I get it. Russell Wilson has his heart set on a productive third receiver. Anyone who saw Malik Turner drop that perfect pass in the Green Bay game has all the argument you ever needed to bring in someone like Diggs. Can you imagine this offense with that trio of receivers, plus Chris Carson at running back?

Again, though, what’s the point if he’s going to average 4-6 catches a game? Couldn’t we put that money to better use?

I’m all for bringing in more talented targets on offense, but I’d rather not break the bank – both in salary cap and draft picks – just to take some disgruntled crybaby off of another team’s hands. We’ve got bigger fish to fry.

And, by writing this post and putting it out into the world, I hope I’ve sufficiently jinxed any legitimate talk of this coming to fruition.

Seahawks Death Week: We’ve Got Holes To Fill On Defense

So, unless things have gone horribly wrong, by now I’ve written about the last Seahawks game of the season, I’ve written about the things that have gone right, and the things that have gone wrong. Now, it’s time to get to work on that all-important roster building.

To start, here are a list of free agents, in some particular order:

Defense

  • Jadeveon Clowney (DE)
  • Jarran Reed (DT)
  • Mychal Kendricks (LB)
  • Ziggy Ansah (DE)
  • Quinton Jefferson (DL)
  • Al Woods (DT)
  • Akeem King (DB)
  • Neiko Thorpe (DB)
  • Branden Jackson (DL)

That’s a lot of our regular defensive line rotation, including starters in Clowney and Reed, as well as significant 2019 role players like Ansah, Woods, Q-Jeff, and Jackson.

Obviously, Clowney is the big name here. He will be 27 years old in 2020, and he’ll be looking for his first real BIG payday. We’re talking $20+ million per season on average, one of the five highest paid defensive people in the league. With his injury and impending surgery, you have to wonder if that’ll scare teams off a little bit. Not a lot; I think he’ll still see a huge payday, but I wonder if extra protections for the team will be built in.

Is he worth it? That’s the ultimate question. This is a guy who had 3 sacks all regular season. Is that a $20+ million a year guy? I’ll tell you this much, SOMEONE will pay him that much, because he’s obviously more than a straight-up sacks guy. He’s elite against the run, and he has one of the highest pressure rates. Also, even though we’re talking about a second contract – and you rarely see the value over the duration of the deal – defensive linemen tend to age pretty well. It’s not inconceivable that he’d live up to the money over the next four years. But, this core injury isn’t the only thing that’s ever happened to him. Coming out of college and through his first couple years, he missed quite a bit of time. On the one hand, fresher legs; on the other hand, there’s a risk of re-injury.

I’m not going to sit here and say the Seahawks HAVE to pay him whatever he wants; I’m sure they’ll make the decision they want to make. If that means we back up the Brinks truck, so be it, I’ll be fine with it. If we let some other team over-pay for an injury risk, I can easily talk myself into that as well.

But, the bottom line is: the Seahawks need to do SOMETHING. I don’t know what the free agent landscape looks like for pass rushers in 2020, but the cupboard is bare here in Seattle. It’s as bare as it gets, and when you consider how horrible we were in 2019 (WITH Clowney), trying to imagine an even WORSE pass rush makes me sick to my stomach.

This brings us to Jarran Reed, who looked like he was on pace for a huge payday as well. 10.5 sacks in 2018, as an interior lineman, is a remarkable achievement. So, we know he has that in him anyway (at least, when the conditions are right). But, then he was suspended for 6 games in 2019, and when he came back he wasn’t quite his old self. He fell all the way down to 2.0 sacks, and with the prior suspension, he now holds the risk of an even bigger punishment if he gets in trouble a second time. So, his value fell pretty far.

I don’t know what he’s looking for, but if we could bring him back on a team-friendly 3-4 year deal, I wouldn’t hate it. I also wouldn’t mind a 1-year prove-it deal, though obviously that’s not as good for our salary cap (unless it’s an insanely low figure with lots of incentives he’s not expected to reach based on his 2019 production). But, it would be asinine to get in a bidding war for his services, considering what he was able to bring to this team in his 10 games plus the playoffs. Ultimately, Reed made next-to-zero impact for this team, when we REALLY needed him to step up and take on more of the pass rushing load.

Ziggy Ansah needs to go. That’s all I need to say about him; he’s finished in this league.

Al Woods is a fine player, and I would assume we could bring him back cheaply if we wanted. He’s also Just A Guy, so whatever.

Q-Jeff is a nice player, and it’s unfortunate he got injured in our game in Green Bay. I would expect maybe a moderate raise, but he obviously doesn’t bring a ton to the table from a pass rushing perspective. So, breaking the bank isn’t necessary here.

Next up is Mychal Kendricks, who ended 2019 on IR. He was fine, but again I don’t really know what he brought to the table. It feels like Cody Barton (or pretty much anyone else) could do what he did and we’d be fine.

Finally, King and Thorpe are also just regular dudes. Thorpe obviously has value on special teams, but he’ll be 30 years old and in his 8th season in the league. I feel like we’ve successfully replaced what he brought to this team and maybe can move on with younger guys. King won’t be contending for a starting job anywhere, but maybe he’ll want more of a chance to at least compete for a spot. It feels like he’s hit his ceiling in our defense, and he might want a change of scenery.

***

As for the guys who are already under contract, I don’t see a lot of dead weight that we NEED to get rid of for salary cap purposes.

K.J. Wright will be 31 years old and on the final year of his deal. He’s set to count about $10 million against the salary cap, with only $2.5 million in dead money, for $7.5 million in savings. That’s not nothing, especially when we might be paying a lot for Clowney, plus another pass rusher or two.

If we move on from Wright, it probably means he didn’t want to take a pay cut. He was second in tackles on the team with 132 (not significantly fewer than league leader Bobby Wagner’s 159), he played in every game, and he played a high percentage of this team’s overall snaps. If you cut him, it means you believe Cody Barton is ready to start this year (or you draft someone who you can’t afford to sit because he’s too talented). But, also if you cut him then you have to fill two linebacker spots (one, presumably, with Barton, and the other TBD).

Ultimately, I don’t think the Seahawks will release Wright, based on shared history and what he’s meant to the success of this defense since 2011. But, you can’t totally dismiss it given his high salary figure, and the need to improve across the entire D-Line.

The other possible decision the Seahawks need to make is whether they want to give Shaquill Griffin a long-term extension. Do they believe he’s the guy to build around in that secondary? He’s set to earn less than $1 million in 2020, so there would be a considerable discount to be had to make it worth our while in the long term. Think about what we did by extending Tyler Lockett a year early; he’s on a VERY team-friendly deal now, and it’s paying significant dividends.

I thought Griffin really took a big leap forward in his development in 2019. I don’t know where he ranks among all cornerbacks, but I feel like he’s right there in the 2nd or 3rd tier. He’s not a lockdown guy; he’s not among the best of the very best. But, he’s a solid starter, he doesn’t give up a ton of catches or yards, and more often than not teams go away from his side (it helps that Tre Flowers is the guy opposite him, and he gives up practically everything). If there’s a reasonable figure the team can get to with Griffin, I think I’d like to see them do a Lockett-type deal. Something that gives the young player a nice raise, while showing him he’s part of the long term plan and affords the team some future flexibility in their cap from 2020-2022.

***

Big picture for 2020, the defensive line is in shambles, and the secondary needs a huge infusion of talent.

As things stand today, L.J. Collier and Rasheem Green would be your starting defensive ends. Collier was a healthy scratch most of the season (including both playoff games) and Green was our leading sacker with a whopping 4.

Collier can be considered nothing but a huge disappointment. You expect your first round picks – even your late first rounders – to contribute in some way, if not be a starter from day one. Obviously, the starting jobs were taken on this team, but he brought NOTHING to this team as a rookie. That doesn’t mean he’s a bust, necessarily – he’s still got three more years to prove that he’s worth a 5th year option – but he better work his fucking ass off in the offseason and come into camp like a man possessed.

As for Green, as I’ve written about before, he took a moderate step forward. But, as I point out all the time, unless you’re uber-talented, it’s hard for young defensive linemen to make big impacts; it usually takes a few years to grow into your body, bulk up, and learn the nuances of how to play in this league. For so many players who go on to be drafted in the first couple days, the college game is simple. The offensive linemen stink, the schemes are dumbed down, and you can just go out there and kick ass. In the NFL, you need to smarten up quite a bit, or you’ll be left behind.

Along the interior, we’ve got Poona Ford and some scrubs. This team needs to improve its pass rush, but also get better at defending the run. Ultimately, the Seahawks need a whole makeover at D-Line, so there’s work to be done.

In the secondary, Griffin and Flowers figure to return as starters. One can only hope Flowers takes a similar leap in his development between Year 2 & 3 as Griffin did this past season. Diggs and McDougald figure to be your starters at safety, though I would hope Marquise Blair gets a legitimate opportunity to compete and start. It would also be helpful if Ugo Amadi works on his craft quite a bit this offseason to be this team’s nickel corner.

I would LOVE it if we drafted yet another safety, and cut Lano Hill and Tedric Thompson, those wastes of fucking (roster) space. I’d also love it if we maybe made a low-level trade for another nickel corner, if Amadi doesn’t work out. See if we can find the next Justin Coleman.

More than anything, I guess we just need the secondary to improve on their own, because I can’t envision the Seahawks making wholesale changes or putting too many resources into this area, when there are other more-pressing concerns.

Tomorrow, we’ll look at all the holes on offense, where I’m concerned a lot of our free salary cap space will end up going.

Seahawks Death Week: Where the 2019 Season Went Right!

Yesterday, we wallowed in our misfortunes. But, as always, we have to keep things in perspective. This was a Seahawks team that won 11 games and made it to the second round of the playoffs. I’m by no means pleased with the end result, I’m not satisfied just making it into the Final 8. I’m never “just happy to be there” and wishing everyone all the best in their future endeavors. Those fans – rational, sensible, not taking all of this meaningless drivel so seriously – are the absolute worst. My first thought after a final Seahawks loss isn’t, “Well, that was fun while it lasted.” It’s usually, “Fuck this shit, fuck everyone, I’m going to my bedroom and watching something else, alone.”

But, eventually I get there. Eventually I calm down and start appreciating the season for what it was. Usually, it’s about a day (or however long it takes me to write up this post), and then I’m done and I move on to next year. Dwelling on success or failure is bad enough, but dwelling on mediocrity? No thank you.

So, let’s talk about all the cool shit we saw this year, and then let’s never think about it again.

Gotta start with Russell Wilson. I know, quarterbacks are the most important players in all of sportsdom, but he was really something special. He was a different kind of special in 2017 – when he led the team in passing AND rushing yards – but I would argue he was the best we’ve ever seen him in 2019. Even better than the last seven games of the regular season in 2015!

If Lamar Jackson didn’t do what he did, we’d be talking about Russell Wilson as the MVP of the NFL. And, if you actually gave the award to the person who most embodied the phrase “Most Valuable Player”, I think Wilson would not only win it hands down, but he’d be on his third or fourth award at this point. But, the NFL gives it to the guy with the best stats, or the flashiest set of highlights, or the guy who the media gloms onto obsessively for three months; so, clearly Lamar. But, it’s an easy argument to make that Wilson means more to this Seahawks team and their 11 wins than Lamar did to that Ravens team and their 13. Give the Ravens a replacement-level quarterback, and I think they still probably win 9 or 10 games; put a replacement-level quarterback on the Seahawks and I think we’re EASILY playing for a Top 10 draft pick, and maybe even Top 5!

But, even the numbers alone for Wilson are impressive; maybe not compared to Lamar, but still. 4,110 yards on 66.1% completions (8.0 yards average per attempt), 31 touchdowns, only 5 interceptions, and a passer rating of 106.3. And, not for nothing, but Wilson was also tied for the league lead for most sacks at 48. Only three quarterbacks in the Top 10 Most Sacked made the playoffs; the other two were Deshaun Watson and Josh Allen. The rest of the guys in that area are, predictably, on terrible football teams who didn’t win very many games.

And, if you tack on rushing numbers, Wilson came within 29 yards of being the #2 rusher on this team, with 342 yards and another 3 TDs on the ground. Just an outstanding all-around season, and clearly deserving of the Second Team All Pro honor he received.

***

Wilson was so good, he gets his own section. Let’s get to the rest of the offense, because even though he’s great, he can’t do it all.

Chris Carson had a wonderful season. 1,230 yards, 4.4 average, and 7 TDs (plus 37 catches for 266 yards and 2 TDs). He did ultimately get knocked out for the season in his 15th game, but those are numbers I’ll take from my starting running back every damn year. What’s less great, obviously, are the 7 fumbles (4 lost), but we’re focusing on the bright side today.

I thought the rest of the running back room did pretty well too. Rashaad Penny didn’t have many opportunities, but he clearly took a step forward this year compared to his rookie season. It’s unfortunate his season-ending injury sounds so severe that it might cost him some games in 2020, because he really looked like a guy this team could rely on. And even Travis Homer made a decent showing in Week 17 and the two playoff games. He’s not a true #1, but as a 3rd down/2-minute back, I thought he did great!

There were a lot of questions about the Seahawks’ receivers heading into 2019. Doug Baldwin retired, the team drafted three guys, and Tyler Lockett was the unquestioned #1 option. My biggest concern was that last one: how would Lockett respond? Well, how do you like 82 receptions for 1,057 yards and 8 touchdowns? In THIS offense?! That’s elite! But, maybe even more importantly was the emergence and growth of D.K. Metcalf, who finished the season with 58 catches for 900 yards and 7 TDs. The two of them each hit triple digits in targets, which really bodes well for the future of the position. Metcalf saved his best for second-to-last in that Wild Card game, so we know he has it in him in the big moments; it’ll be fun to see him continue to grow and start to dominate in the years to come.

And, even though they were largely banged up, I was really impressed with what we got from our tight ends. Dissly is a stud who just can’t stay on the field. We were able to bring Luke Willson back and he was able to do Luke Willson things. But, the biggest find was Jacob Hollister, who became the de facto #3 receiver on this team. He had 41 catches for 349 yards and 3 touchdowns over 11 games, which doesn’t sound like much, but he was always getting open and was a nice security blanket/outlet for Wilson when plays broke down or we needed to convert a first down.

Finally, for the offense, I know the O-Line wasn’t the best, but I feel they deserve some credit for not being as bad as they were from 2015-2017. I was particularly impressed with Joey Hunt stepping in for an injured Justin Britt. I was REMARKABLY impressed with Duane Brown continuing to be ageless (and returning from a knee surgery to start that Green Bay game). I don’t think I ever fully appreciated Mike Iupati for what he brought to this team’s run game until we hit the playoffs and he was out. And, I thought Ifedi continued to make progress while playing presumably all the snaps this season (or at least a very high percentage). Fluker was a little hit or miss, but he was able to play most of the season, which I’ll take as a win.

***

I’m obviously less high on the defense than I am the offense. Offensively, we were top 10 in yards and points; I can’t ask for much more than that. I thought the playcalling was – for the most part – superb, and I thought our execution was spot on (until the first half of that Green Bay game).

Defensively, on the other hand, we were in the bottom 10 and bottom 11 in yards and points, which just can’t happen. Nevertheless, there were a few bright spots.

How much further would we have sunk without Jadeveon Clowney? I know the sack numbers aren’t there, but his pressure rate was among the highest in the league. When he was in the game, he was a difference maker throughout. He needs help around him, but he’s an elite foundational piece to any defense.

I think you’ve got to give some credit to the linebackers. They were steady. Wagner and Wright played in all 16 games plus the playoffs. Their age may be showing at times, their instincts might be a little diminished compared to their peaks, but they were really holding this defense together with duct tape and twine, considering our faulty secondary and even faultier pass rush.

I was happy to see Shaquill Griffin take the next step towards being a reliable cornerback. I still don’t think he’s a true #1, lockdown guy, and I don’t think he ever will be; but as a #2 he’s solid.

The defense took a considerable leap in effectiveness when Quandre Diggs came to town. Paired with Bradley McDougald, this defense looked downright respectable (again, until the Green Bay game).

***

Finally, I’ll talk about the Special Teams.

Jason Myers is a scary individual, but in reality he only missed 5 field goals in the regular season. The 4 missed extra points are pretty annoying, but all in all we didn’t lose any games because our kicker fucked us. So, I’ll take the slight win and hope he improves in 2020. For what it’s worth, I know he was a Pro Bowler in 2019, but kickers are wonky. Like relievers in baseball, they go from good to bad to good again with no rhyme or reason. I have no reason to believe that Myers can’t turn it around. He’s got the leg, he’s young enough, he’s had success in the past; hopefully, he’ll be fine.

Michael Dickson – coming off of a rookie All Pro/Pro Bowl season – had a really tough start to his 2019. But, after a few games, he settled down and finished pretty strong. No notes.

I thought the coverage units took a big step forward in 2019, after being a legitimate problem in 2018. So, looks like those young guys we brought in made a difference!

For Real This Time: We’ve Come To The End Of The Road For The 2019 Seahawks

Every year, after the Seahawks’ season ends – meaning they either get knocked out of the playoffs, they fail to make those playoffs, or that one time they won it all and the NFL season came to its conclusion – I run a week’s worth of posts under the banner “Seahawks Death Week”. Sort of an In Memoriam, as it really does have a funereal feel whenever the NFL season comes to a close. Without the NBA in my life – and still a year away from the NHL – what do I have to look forward to for the next 9 months? Baseball? The Mariners?! Stick a gun in my mouth right now …

Anyway, ever the trooper, I’ve already gotten a jumpstart on Seahawks Death Week, outlining the set of posts that will drop in the coming days. There’s the traditional final game recap, an always-unsatisfying “What Went Right” piece (to try to bring a little hope into the following season), a raging “What Went Wrong” screed, and my favorite exercise: What The Seahawks Should Do Next (because the NFL season never really ends, when you can obsess about the draft and free agency).

In case you couldn’t tell, I believe this is where the Seahawks’ season ends. I’ve said that all along, as soon as we blew it against the Cardinals and 49ers at the end of the season, and we officially got saddled with the Wild Card. Indeed, I’ve harped on this for years: it’s not enough just to get INTO the playoffs, you’ve got to get one of those top two seeds or you’re just deluding yourself.

As I wrote about yesterday, it’s very difficult to win on the road in the Divisional Round of the playoffs; the Seahawks are 0 for their last 8 in this situation. It’s not just a Seattle problem; in the previous 10 seasons (because I really didn’t want to go back further and work on this forever), only 10 teams who played on Wild Card weekend advanced beyond the Divisional Round. And, of those 10, only 4 were actual Wild Card teams who had to go on the road for the duration of the playoffs. The last time an actual Wild Card team advanced to its respective conference championship game was – oddly enough – the 49ers from 2013, when we beat them with The Tip. Not for nothing, but the last time a Wild Card team won it all was Green Bay back in the 2010 season (as a 6-seed, no less).

So, in the last 40 Divisional Round games, 4 teams went on the road in the Wild Card round, won, and then went on the road again and won the very next week. How can you not love those odds?!

Part of me tried to talk myself into believing this week, simply for the fact that we haven’t seen the Packers yet this year (or, more importantly, they haven’t seen us). We last played them on a Thursday Night game in 2018, when they sucked and eventually fired their head coach. I never totally understood that team; sure their defense was so-so, but that’s always been their weakness. But, the fact that their offense struggled so much – with Aaron Rodgers at the helm – really spoke volumes towards why they needed to make a change. Anyway, I tend to like our chances more when a team hasn’t had to face us in the regular season. I don’t have a ton of evidence to back this up, but here are four recent examples to try to bolster my flawed theory:

  • 2018 – Beat Dallas in the regular season; lost in the Wild Card round
  • 2016 – Beat Atlanta in the regular season; lost in the Divisional Round
  • 2015 – Lost to Carolina in the regular season & Divisional Round
  • 2010 – Beat Chicago in the regular season; lost in the Divisional Round

It’s more of a feeling or a generality than a hard and true fact, but it just seems like most teams – when they get a crack at taking on a good team a second (or, if you’re in the same division, third) time, it’s not like it was before. I don’t know if that Eagles game last week would’ve ended remarkably different had Wentz not gone out, but it’s not difficult to fathom the Seahawks ultimately losing (surely Wentz would’ve been better in the red zone in the fourth quarter than McCown, you have to give me that).

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Anyway, let’s get back to this week’s opponent. This year, the Packers have been much more balanced. I don’t know if I ever feel great about playing Green Bay; with Rodgers, you know they always have a chance, regardless of the talent level around him (this HAS to be what opposing fan bases think about the Seahawks and Russell Wilson). I especially don’t feel great about playing Green Bay when they’ve got a quality running game and a better-than-you-think defense. In the NFL, you’re never without flaws, but this is a Packers team that lacks a real GLARING weakness.

On the flipside, you could also argue that the Packers also aren’t particularly elite at any one aspect either. Honestly, for how balanced they’ve been on offense, I would’ve expected them to be running up the score on some of these crappy teams they’ve played. Instead, they’ve done just enough, and sometimes have played down to the level of their competition (sound familiar?).

Their two real embarrassing losses both came on the road, at the Chargers and 49ers. The loss in L.A. feels wrong in retrospect; I don’t really have a great reason for that happening (other than me believing they’d cover the spread, since I’m apparently the world’s worst football gambler).

They’re actually kind of middle-of-the-road in a lot of key areas. They’re not especially dominant at getting sacks or preventing sacks. That having been said, I don’t figure we’ll be able to get Rodgers on his ass all that much in this one, and with our O-Line as banged up as it is, I fully expect Russell Wilson to be running for his life like last week. They’re also weirdly not great at converting third downs, which I wouldn’t have expected. My hunch is that maybe they went overly conservative in the regular season, with their easy schedule and whatnot. If you’re almost always in it and/or leading, you don’t need to take as many chances on converting third downs.

The keys, as usual, will be those third downs, as well as turnovers and big plays. I wouldn’t expect too many interceptions in this one, as both quarterbacks have had fantastic seasons not giving the ball away; but you just can’t predict fumbles (when they’re going to happen, or whether or not you’re going to lose out on them). Bad fumble luck will make an already-difficult situation pretty much impossible.

I never know what to expect from this Seahawks defense when it comes to giving up big plays. It seems like we can’t help but give up a few – especially between the 20’s – but obviously the emergence of Quandre Diggs has helped curtail that a little. The thing about not playing Green Bay earlier this season kind of gets thrown out the window when you consider how many times Aaron Rodgers has gone up against our defense in the Pete Carroll era; they’re practically a divisional opponent and one of our biggest rivals at this point!

I feel like our biggest liability in this one will be third downs. Rodgers is more than happy to dink and dunk it around our linebackers, picking up good chunks of yardage. This is, of course, a byproduct of our lack of pass rush, which I think will return with a vengeance this week after a season-high 7 sacks last week in Philly (this point is nailed home by the fact that the Packers’ O-Line is fully healthy for the first time in a while). Rodgers knows how to beat this team at this point; there’s nothing we can throw at him that will be a surprise.

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Offensively, for the Seahawks, if we’re able to move the ball, we should be in it at least. Thankfully, the Packers don’t figure to be nearly as talented at stopping the run as the Eagles. We should get a good, honest look at what the Seahawks have in Homer and Lynch; are they okay? Or are we fucked because one is a Day Three Rookie and the other is over the hill?

Containing Green Bay’s pressure will be important, as they have a couple of outside linebackers with 13.5 and 12 sacks respectively (Za’Darius & Preston Smith). The only real interior threat looks to be nose tackle Kenny Clark, who returned to practice this week after battling an injury. Of all the quality defenders they have, the thought of Clark clogging up the middle probably scares me the most. If we’ve got two maniacs coming from the edges, I want to be able to take comfort in Russell Wilson maybe escaping through the middle. It sounds like with Clark, that window just closed.

The games where we struggle the most are when opposing defenses are able to overly-pressure Russell Wilson with a 4 or 5-man front. Granted, he sees a lot of pressure on a regular basis, but when we look REALLY bad on offense – the recent Cardinals & Rams games come immediately to mind – there’s usually at least one man wreaking total havoc on our protection on an every-down basis. The key will be – if we’re unable to keep a clean pocket – allowing Wilson outlets to escape, scramble around, and either get yards with his legs or throw on the run for gains down field. Even though Cox last week was one of those Aaron Donald-type monsters, Wilson was still able to get around him and keep the chains moving. It’s those games where the pocket gets quickly squeezed, where Wilson does his thing where he dances around, ducks down, and meekly succumbs to the chaos around him, that this offense truly suffers. If the Packers are in his face all day, this will be a hard game to watch.

As long as our targets stay healthy, I don’t think passing will be too much of a chore. The Packers are better at pass defense than rush defense, but that’s never really been an issue for us so long as Wilson can avoid sacks. I don’t know if we can count on a repeat performance out of D.K. Metcalf, but I also wouldn’t expect him to revert back to his dropping and fumbling tendencies either. If anything, I would expect a concerted effort by Green Bay’s defense to put their best cornerback on him, thereby hopefully freeing up Lockett to do damage down field. We’re fucked if they’re able to totally lock down Metcalf with one-on-ones, while they double-team Lockett on the other side. At that point, it’ll be asking a lot to generate explosives and keep the chains moving on a consistent basis.

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Defensively for the Seahawks, we HAVE to stay healthy to stay in it. The drop-off from our studs – Diggs, Wagner (especially with Kendricks on IR) and Clowney – would be too much to overcome against this offense. Also, Davante Adams is a beast, and if he’s going up against Tre Flowers all day, I’d expect a lot of flags on our dude. I also heard Adams has been making some hay in the slot, which is scary. There’s been talk about Shaquill Griffin following him around the field. I don’t normally like taking our guys out of their comfort zones, but in this case it might be warranted, especially if the Packers get off to a hot start.

And, since I don’t expect a whole lot out of our pass rush, we’ve got to figure out a way to keep Aaron Jones from taking over. He’s a great running back who had been criminally underused in Green Bay until this season, and his emergence has really paid dividends for this offense as a whole. They may not blow teams out like they used to, but with a Top 5 QB like Rodgers, and a Top 5 or Top 10 running back like Jones, that’s the type of combo all teams dream of.

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My ultimate prediction in this one consists of the Packers not really punting a whole lot (if at all), scoring more touchdowns than field goals, and generally making life miserable for the Seahawks to keep it close. I would anticipate being down by double-digits in the first half, scrambling like crazy to close the gap in the second half, but ultimately falling well short, probably by two scores. Green Bay -4 honestly feels like the easiest money of the weekend (I like the Chiefs over the Texans a little more, but 9.5 points are a lot to cover for any team).

I just can’t help but envision the Seahawks dropping like flies. I see guys leaving with concussions, ankle strains, you name it. And, lacking the depth to pick up the slack, on top of being on the road, in Lambeau, and all the rest, I think it’ll just be too much.

While I think GB -4 is a mortal lock, I could also easily see us up late, needing to prevent the Packers from scoring on a last-second field goal or something. Anything and everything is on the table; there are countless ways for the Seahawks to blow it, leaving us all – on Monday morning – bemoaning the fact that once again we let a viable opportunity slip through our fingers.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: even if we won in the Wild Card round (which we did), we were never making it to the NFC Championship Game. It’s too hard, too much of the deck is stacked against us, and as I’ve said countless times, the Seahawks just aren’t good enough. If you took an honest assessment of this team, you’d agree that on eye test alone (if nothing else), these Seahawks aren’t championship-calibre. I’ve come to terms with that since I saw we were destined to play in the Wild Card round. Soon enough, everyone else will come to terms with it too.