Seahawks Death Week: Were The 2023 Seahawks Better Than They Were In 2022?

Both teams finished the regular season 9-8. The 2022 Seahawks actually made the playoffs, while the 2023 Seahawks did not. The 2023 Seahawks clearly had higher expectations coming into the year, whereas the 2022 Seahawks were expected to be among the worst five teams in the NFL. But, just because the current iteration underperformed, while the previous one overachieved, doesn’t necessarily mean the 2022 Seahawks were the better team. And, since we don’t live in a magical world where we can have these two squads duke it out on the football field, we have to look at the numbers and see where they compare.

I will readily admit that I’m coming into this exercise HOPING that the 2023 team is actually better, and thanks to a game or two not going our way at the end, we ultimately failed to achieve our goals. Because, if that’s the case, then maybe an argument can be made that this is actually a team on the rise, and this year can be seen as an aberration. However, if the 2023 Seahawks are objectively worse, then this is a team going in the wrong direction. Then, we have to start questioning how good these last two draft classes actually were. Then, we’re left to wonder how long it’s actually going to be before things turn around.

I’ll start with the defense. Heading into the season, what was the biggest problem area, the biggest area of need, the part of the team we all knew needed improvement? The defense. In 2022, we gave up 361.7 yards per game (26th in football); in 2023, we gave up 371.4 yards per game (30th in football).

You know what sucks? Every team that was worse than us in 2022 improved. Detroit went from 32 to 19, Minnesota went from 31 to 16, Houston went from 30 to 14, Chicago went from 29 to 12, Las Vegas went from 28 to 13, Atlanta went from 27 to 11! This isn’t, like, small baby steps of improvement. These are LEAPS AND BOUNDS! And it’s not like we’re talking about teams that all made the playoffs; they were all varying levels of mediocre-to-bad in 2023. Yet they all also saw significant improvements on defense, in one season’s time.

If we keep going back, in 2021, the Seahawks were 28th in yards per game, in 2020 we were 22nd (but still gave up over 380 per game), in 2019 we were 26th. In 2018, we were 16th; that’s the last time we were even kind of okay. Before that, we were obviously very good. But, starting with 2019, that’s five years of being one of the worst defenses in all of football. Of being a defense that absolutely CANNOT compete for a championship. With a head coach that prides himself on being defensively-minded. We’ve been stuck in the shit for half a decade now; meanwhile, all these shitty defenses from 2022 are kicking ass in 2023.

Where did we struggle the most in 2022? Rush defense (150.2 yards per game, 30th in football). How did we fare in 2023? When we got rid of a lot of dead weight and put the majority of our resources into shoring up this part of the game? 138.4 yards per game, 31st in football. So, we improved our number of yards allowed per game, but still ended up worse compared to the rest of the NFL.

The two teams worse than us in 2022? Houston (32) and Chicago (31), who finished 2023 6th (!) and 1st (!!!) in rush yards per game allowed. IN ONE YEAR, they went from the worst to the best!

I mean, this isn’t fucking rocket science! We’re talking about Houston, who had a total coaching regime change, and Chicago, whose head coach in 2022 was just finishing his first year and was already on the hot seat. The Seahawks, meanwhile, are among the most stable franchises in the sport, yet again, we’ve struggled on defense for half a fucking decade. Un-fucking-believable.

To round it out, the 2022 Seahawks gave up 211.5 passing yards (13th); the 2023 Seahawks gave up 233.0 (21st). The 2022 Seahawks gave up 23.6 points per game (25th); the 2023 Seahawks gave up 23.6 points per game 25th). We literally gave up one more point than a year ago. The pass defense – particularly the secondary – was supposed to be our biggest strength (even discounting Jamal Adams as “likely to be injured” heading into the season); yet it was kind of mediocre, in spite of the fact that we got more Jamal Adams than I ever thought possible.

Just a little more housekeeping, for context. The 2022 Seahawks were +2 in turnover differential; the 2023 Seahawks were also +2 in turnover differential. We actually turned it over less in 2023, but also generated fewer turnovers, which is how we get to that number. That’s interesting to me, because if you would’ve told me prior to 2023 that the Seahawks’ offense would have 6 fewer turnovers – knowing what I knew about the perceived improvement of talent on defense – I would say that’s HUGE, and might’ve translated to 2-3 more victories. Instead, that perceived talent improvement never really materialized.

For a little more context, the 2022 Seahawks had 45 sacks (tied for 7th); the 2023 Seahawks had 47 sacks (tied for 11th). Another interesting stat is the 2022 Seahawks gave up 62.7% completions (10th), whereas the 2023 Seahawks gave up 66.7% completions (26th). So, in spite of being slightly better at generating sacks, it looks like we were actually softer all around, and probably not generating as much pressure on the whole. Or, you know, maybe we just faced significantly better quarterback play in 2023 than in 2022; you can’t rule that out either. Maybe both are true!

What do my eyes tell me about this defense? It’s tricky, because I believe we were actually significantly more talented in personnel in 2023 than we were in 2022. I think Jarran Reed had a fabulous season. I think Leonard Williams is the best all-around defensive lineman we’ve had since Michael Bennett (very different players/body types, but similarly dominant in everything that they do). I think Dre’Mont Jones is as talented as advertised, but likely wasn’t utilized properly. I think Boye Mafe took a HUGE step forward. I think Devon Witherspoon is deserving of every single accolade that comes his way. I think Jordyn Brooks is an animal, and it’s tremendous how well (and how quickly) he came back from such a significant injury. I thought Tre Brown, Mike Jackson, and Julian Love all shined at times. I thought Riq Woolen was injured for most of this year and that likely explains his step-back (I still think he’s great in coverage, but when he’s hurt, he’s going to be a liability in the run game).

That being said, I think we were another wide-body short on the interior, to significantly plug the run. I think Bobby Wagner likely helped in that regard, but probably not as much as everyone thinks. Wagner obviously had his struggles in pass defense (to the point where he probably should’ve been taken off the field on every 3rd & medium-to-long), but we also had no one behind him to fill in (linebacker depth was non-existent yet again); I also don’t think Wagner was the fix-all in the run game everyone’s making him out to be. How many times did he too get swallowed up, or jump the wrong gap? He’s old! He was old two years ago!

I also thought Quandre Diggs looked a little old. I thought Jamal Adams – aside from a few plays near the LOS here and there – looked legitimately bad. Maybe he was hurt all year, but still, he looks toast. And, I think the outside linebacker play was atrocious outside of Boye Mafe and Uchenna Nwosu (who got knocked out 6 games in), and I’m not even sure Mafe is any good at setting an edge. What I know for sure is that Darrell Taylor and Derick Hall are 100% NOT good in that regard, and it’s a huge hole for us.

A lot of these were problems in 2022, though. We couldn’t set an edge then either. Our linebacker room was unquestionably worse with Cody Barton getting significant reps. Adams was still hurt, Diggs was still getting up there, and we were obviously missing out on beef in the interior line.

So, how do you explain this across-the-board drop-off in defensive production?

The coaching staff. Clint Hurtt and Co.

He’s not a defensive coordinator. We learned that in his first season in 2022, and it’s been nothing but cemented into my brain in 2023, when he was gifted better talent, and his unit produced worse results. He needs to go.

***

Now, let’s go to the offense. Spoiler alert: it also looks like it’s worse in 2023 than it was in 2022.

2022 total yards = 351.5 (13th); 2023 total yards = 322.9 (21st). 2022 passing yards = 231.4 (12th); 2023 passing yards = 230.0 (14th). 2022 rushing yards = 120.1 (18th); 2023 rushing yards = 92.9 (28th).

So, passing yards remained stagnant, in spite of total stability at the QB spot, and arguably an improved wide receiver room with first rounder Jaxon Smith-Njigba replacing Marquise Goodwin. And we’re talking about a DRASTICALLY worse rushing attack, in spite of the fact that Kenneth Walker played in the same number of games (all as the lead back), while we added the robust talent of Charbonnet (taking the smattering of 2022 carries given to DeeJay Dallas, Travis Homer, and Rashaad Penny the few times he was healthy).

Okay, so point to the offensive line. Obviously, there were lots of injuries across the board causing this unit to suffer. Except, we took 46 sacks in 2022, vs. a combined 37 in 2023. Team passing, okay, you can attribute some of that to Drew Lock playing in 4 games (starting 2). But, Geno’s per-game numbers year over year obviously declined (fewer yards per game, lower completion percentage, fewer yards per attempt, lower passer rating).

Also, if your O-Line is so banged up, wouldn’t you WANT to run the ball more? In 2022, we attempted 425 carries; in 2023, it was 382. In 2022, we attempted 573 passes; in 2023, we attempted 575. Geno attempted a little over 33 and a half passes per game; but Drew Lock attempted 32 per game in his two starts, so it’s not like we really took it easy on him. Yet, neither quarterback benefitted from extended competence out of the rushing attack. As a team, we averaged 4.8 yards per carry (4.9 yards per carry if you take out two massive losses by our punter) in 2022; we could only muster 4.1 yards per carry in 2023.

So, what’s THAT all about? We thought we really had something with our new O-Line coach in 2022. But, while improving on our sack numbers (in basically the same number of drop-backs), we took a massive nosedive in our running numbers. I guess we have to HOPE that it’s just injuries and things are bound to positively regress in 2024. But, there’s also a number of personnel decisions we have to make – along the interior, particularly – that has been one of our greatest weaknesses since time immemorial.

All told, our 2022 Seahawks scored 23.9 points per game (9th); our 2023 Seahawks scored 21.4 points per game (17th). An already-bad defense somehow managed to get worse, and a decently-good offense became painfully mediocre. In spite of the fact that the offense had a ton of carry-over, improved in both the running back and wide receiver rooms, and had a quarterback who couldn’t have been more motivated to better his career-best numbers from the previous season.

Does that also come down to coaching? Because, to me, that comes down to coaching.

***

Here’s my ultimate ruling on the question at the top:

I think, personnel-wise, the 2023 Seahawks were better than the 2022 Seahawks. However, I think the play on the field was worse. The numbers bear that out, even if their records were the same. We were -38 in point differential in 2023, meaning we probably overachieved. The NFL record 7 go-ahead TD passes by Geno Smith in the 4th quarter or OT sort of proves that point. We had a +6 point differential in 2022, which seems appropriate for a 9-8 team. So, while things were disappointing for Geno Smith, and some of the other veterans in 2023, I don’t think they were so much worse that it cost us. Ultimately, I put it on our coaching staff – our coordinators specifically, though Pete Carroll certainly doesn’t get a pass from me at this point – as the reason why the 2023 Seahawks were worse.

I believe, with more competent leadership, the 2023 Seahawks should’ve won more games and reached the playoffs.

That doesn’t mean I believe this team was good enough to win the NFC West. They clearly had a ceiling that was much lower than the 49ers. But, I do believe we should’ve beaten the Rams at least once, if not twice. Win one and we’re in the playoffs. Win both, we’re 11-6 and playing in Tampa in the first round of the playoffs (while the Rams would’ve been 8-9 and on the outside looking in, where they belonged).

So, in that sense, it’s pretty clear why Pete Carroll needed to go. We can’t really tell at this time if it was a matter of the messaging not getting through, or too much meddling by Pete in the personnel decisions to keep around these guys who are getting up there (saying nothing of giving up a second round draft pick for half of a season of Leonard Williams). But, I believe we didn’t have the proper staff in place to get the best out of these players. A more run-focused offensive scheme (becoming almost exclusively either a run or play-action team), with more attention paid to stopping the run and generating pressure by being blitz-heavy on defense, likely would’ve enhanced our win/loss record.

What we couldn’t do were the same things we’ve done the last 5+ years. What we couldn’t do was declare a shift towards a 3-4 defense, only to pretty much play a random hodgepodge of the exact defensive fronts we’ve used all along. What we couldn’t do was give up huge defensive cushions underneath – hoping to take away the deep ball – only to give up the deep ball anyway, and everything else opposing offenses wanted to do. Change it up! Drastically, if necessary! But, do SOMETHING.

This team did nothing, and mediocrity was our end result. Let’s hope that doesn’t continue on into 2024.

2023 Seahawks Preview Extravaganza!

I see one of two things happening with this Seahawks season. Either the Seahawks rule, or the Seahawks are just okay.

There are, of course, a myriad of other options. The Seahawks could be bad, for instance! But, I feel like for that to happen, this team would have to be decimated by injuries, to the offensive line, to key skill position players, and to the quarterback. You can’t rule it out! Luck is always a factor in the NFL. The thing is, you can make that case every single year, but you’re just speculating out of thin air at that point. As with every team, depending on injuries, the floor is a number one overall pick, and the ceiling is whatever that team is capable of if it manages to stay fully healthy. For the Seahawks, I would say that range is a Top 5 pick all the way up to competing for a spot in the Super Bowl.

Last year, I had the Seahawks projected for a top 5 pick; I just assumed it would be their own and not the Broncos’. Now that we have the knowledge of what happened in 2022, combined with the moves they’ve made in 2023, I obviously believe this team is poised for greater things.

Let’s start with Geno Smith. I don’t think it’s out of line to bring his durability into question, for the simple reason that he didn’t miss a game last year. But, maybe he has the secret sauce to avoiding back-breaking hits or twisted ankles or bent-backward thumbs. Given what we discovered about his ability to play at this level, an improvement in the weapons around him, and hopefully some more-consistent O-Line play, I believe we can get his 2022 numbers as a baseline. I also think, if the O-Line is considerably better, HE can be considerably better. A little more effective on third down. Turning some of those close losses into close victories. He alone – with everyone else being the same – can add or subtract two wins from last year’s total.

Now, let’s flip over to the defense. The good news is: we can’t be any worse. If we run it back, we’re 30th against the run and considerably better against the pass, with a good chunk of sacks to keep teams honest. BUT, if we can push that run defense up to just 20th, then I think we’re in business. We should be poised for better linebacker play. We should have more interior pressure with Dre’Mont Jones. And the sky is the limit for our secondary.

Bump the run defense up to 15th? Then, we’re talking about a team that not only contends for the division, but the whole damn conference.

There are so many variables with this team, which is what makes it both fun and nerve-wracking. The defensive front seven, the offensive line, the quarterback, the rookies and second-year players. We could be entering the next great period of Seahawks dominance, or it could be yet another year of post-L.O.B. tire-spinning.

What I’m excited about is the potential. If everything goes right, our offensive tackles are masters at their craft, and the rest of the line is full of bullies shoving dudes around. If everything goes right, the pass rush pressure is coming from a variety of sources (Jones, Nwosu, Taylor, Mafe, Hall, Reed, Adams, Love, Witherspoon). If everything goes right, Jones is a monster in the backfield against the run, Jarran Reed picks up where he left off with us in 2020, Morris and Young are legitimate contributors as rookies, and Bobby Wagner is the glue that holds everything together. If everything goes right, as soon as Jamal Adams returns, he doesn’t miss another game and gets back to what he does best: wreaking havoc all around the line of scrimmage. If everything goes right, Woolen and Witherspoon are lockdown corners funnelling passes to spots where Diggs, Love, and even Brooks are able to make plays. If everything goes right, JSN catches 80 balls and converts countless third downs, while opening up Metcalf and Lockett for monster years. If everything goes right, Kenneth Walker resumes his dominance, and Charbonnet is another Rashaad Penny (minus the injuries). If everything goes right, Geno Smith throws for 4,500+ yards, 35+ touchdowns, and never misses a down.

If everything goes right, the Seahawks overtake the 49ers and earn a top two seed as the NFC East bashes itself into smithereens.

Now, you read that and you can’t help but think that’s A LOT you need to go right. But, here’s the fun part: do you need ALL of that to happen to overtake the 49ers? Or can we get some percentage of that and still get the job done? I think it’s definitely possible. It won’t be easy, but it’s never been easy with this Seahawks team, even when they were going to Super Bowls.

Taking out injuries, the worst case scenario is that the O-line is as wishy-washy as it was last year, with none of our young guys stepping up and dominating. Mafe and Hall aren’t legitimate NFL pass rushers. Adams gets hurt on his first play back (because you can’t “take out injuries” when you talk about Adams; it’s his primary flaw). Wagner and Reed are washed up. Jones suffers under the weight of constant double-teams. Diggs loses a step, Love isn’t as great as he’s cracked up to be, and Witherspoon – having lost so much of his training camp and pre-season to injuries – takes a full year to get up to NFL speed. JSN is under-utilized (or worse, poorly-utilized by way of bubble screens and whatnot), our running backs are stuffed behind a line that can’t block, and Geno Smith regresses back to his old ways of taking too many sacks and turning the ball over too much. In that scenario, we’re probably a 7-8 win team and not making the playoffs.

The baseline for this team is 7-8 wins, because there’s simply too much talent for it ALL to go tits up.

The zenith for this team is 12-13 wins, because that talent reaches its full potential.

When I think of the great Seahawks teams – as well as the great teams we’ve seen in the NFC recently – I think of savage lines. The L.O.B. had it, the 49ers, Eagles, and Cowboys have them, and usually it’s those teams you see succeeding in January. But, there’s other ways to succeed. The Seahawks need to tap into that. Tap into its secondary. Tap into an elite passing attack. Tap into a pass rush that might be criminally underrated. Kill teams with speed, rather than simply bash them with brute force. It’s that speed, I think, if administered properly, that could start a new wave of dominance in the NFL. Pete Carroll is always changing, always adapting, and always forging new ways to win. I have every reason to believe this team could be on the cutting edge. Fly to the ball on defense, and utilize a mix of run and pass on offense that most teams can only dream of. We’re not pass-wacky like the Chiefs and Bills; we’re not overly run-dependant like the Ravens and Eagles. We’re equal parts awesome, and that could very well take us a long way.

This takes us back to our schedule. If injury luck is of utmost importance in the NFL, schedule luck is a close second. The Eagles last year were fortunate to have one of the easiest schedules in the league; they cruised to a number one seed and a spot in the Super Bowl. How is our schedule shaking out?

Well, the Rams and Cardinals look to be awful, so that’s a nice 4-game start. The Lions just got done looking great against the Chiefs last night – and their fans will surely be fired up for their home opener in week 2 – but that’s not a team that’s unbeatable. The Panthers look legitimately terrible (and we’re catching them early, before they have a chance to gel behind their number one overall draft pick), and I think the Giants are ripe for regression after a similar-to-the-Seahawks unexpected run of competence in 2022. The Browns, Ravens, and Guardians are all very suspect, and I like the Titans, but they could very well be toast. That’s 11 games where the Seahawks should at the very least be in it. Add the Steelers to that list, because we don’t know if they’re going to be competent on offense.

The tough-looking games are against the 49ers, Bengals, Cowboys, and Eagles. I mean, as I see it now. Anything could happen with any of these teams. If we can go 10-2 against the beatable teams, and 2-3 against the very good teams, that’s 12-5, and that’s probably good enough for a top 2 seed in the NFC. Even if we go 8-4 against the beatable teams, but find a way to go 3-2 against the good ones, that’s an impressive 11-6. That’s a team you can take into the playoffs and probably play in a home game.

So, that’s where I’m leaning. 11-12 wins and either the 2-seed, or a very dangerous 5-seed.

What’s fun is that the Seahawks have always been interesting, dating back to Russell Wilson’s first year. But, they were less fun in his last years here. Every time, we had to talk ourselves into a wild card team that hopefully could go on a deep playoff run on the back of our superstar QB. This time, I don’t think anyone’s putting that kind of pressure on Geno, so this could be one of those rare Seahawks teams that doesn’t NEED to have home field advantage throughout to go all the way. They’re totally balanced. They can get input from a myriad of sources. And that makes us the most dangerous team of all, because you can’t focus (and stop) any one thing and expect to beat us. Cut off one head, and others will pop up in its place.

We’re the fucking Hydra of the NFL, and we’re here to infiltrate your puny democracy!

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 Probably Had A Pretty Good 2023 NFL Draft

Look, I’m not going to sit here and pretend I know a lot about these college guys we selected over the weekend. Or how well they’ll develop or fit into our particular scheme. It’s the great unknown! We’ll just have to wait and see.

  • 1st Round (5th overall) – Devon Witherspoon (CB)
  • 1st Round (20th overall) – Jaxon Smith-Njigba (WR)
  • 2nd Round (37th overall) – Derick Hall (OLB)
  • 2nd Round (52nd overall) – Zach Charbonnet (RB)
  • 4th Round (108th overall) – Anthony Bradford (G)
  • 4th Round (123rd overall) – Cameron Young (DT)
  • 5th Round (151st overall) – Mike Morris (DE)
  • 5th Round (154th overall) – Olu Oluwatimi (C)
  • 6th Round (198th overall) – Jerrick Reed (S/CB)
  • 7th Round (237th overall) – Kenny McIntosh (RB)

My overarching opinion of the first round picks is that we got some good (maybe great) players, but neither one are guys who are in the stratosphere of a Sauce Gardner or a Ja’Marr Chase (players who, from day one, were destined for the Hall of Fame). They were considered “best players available” while also being at positions of need, but not the BIGGEST position of need.

That would be the defensive line. Naturally. As always. Where we left off from there is that we’d wait and see what the rest of the draft gave us before rendering judgment. But, that comes with diminishing returns. The further you get away from the first half of the first round, the less likely it is you’ll find truly impactful players. Of course, there’s always the possibility that you hit on someone on the second or third days. But, for every Tyler Lockett or Tariq Woolen, there are hundreds of Demarcus Christmases.

To try and replenish that BIGGEST position of need, we used our top second round pick on Derick Hall out of Auburn. You love the school, you love the conference, but his body frame harkens to a guy we just took last year – Boye Mafe – and countless guys with that frame before him, who we’ve tried to turn into effective pass rushers. Best case scenario, Hall is another Bruce Irvin type who might get you 8-10 sacks, and be somewhat competent against the run. But, this is the type of guy we get every year. As a rookie, I wouldn’t bet on any more than 3-4 sacks, and even that might be too high. The hope is, he’s part of the rotation, but you don’t need to rely on him being the starter (those jobs should still belong to Nwosu and Darrell Taylor). Let him get his feet wet, gain some experience, pop a few times, and hope he develops into a starter in year 2 or 3.

Unfortunately, we used our other second round pick on another running back. By all accounts, Charbonnet is a fine back. People have him rated as high as the second or third best in this class. I don’t know if that says more about him or the quality of this class. I’m not going to get super bent out of shape about this, but if it were up to me – after already taking a running back in the second round the previous year (and having him turn into Kenneth Walker, superstar), I would’ve waited in this draft. From what I was reading, there were quality running backs throughout the draft. See: the guy we took in the seventh round. While I get that we needed to replenish the running back room (after losing Rashaad Penny and Travis Homer in free agency), we didn’t need to use our second round pick on him.

That being said, Kenneth Walker did get banged up as a rookie. Running backs, in general, are pretty injury prone, with all the hits they take. The Seahawks, in particular, not only utilize the running back position more than most, but also seem to suffer an inordinate amount of injuries (see: Rashaad Penny and Chris Carson in recent years). So, if Charbonnet turns into a high-quality player in this league, it would stand to reason he’ll find himself in the starting lineup sooner rather than later.

That was it for Friday, as the Seahawks ended up trading back with their third round pick (with the Denver Broncos of all teams). We got another fourth rounder in return, but also a 2024 third round pick (meaning: we get to root against the Broncos for another year!). It sounds like we got tremendous value in this deal, so I’m not complaining.

We started beefing up our trenches in the fourth round, taking a guard and a defensive tackle. The guard is interesting, and could very well find himself starting for us as early as 2024 (if not sooner, if we suffer injuries, and he finds himself next up on the depth chart). The DT seems like he’s Just A Guy. Don’t expect any sort of pass rush whatsoever, and just hope he’s competent as a rotational run stuffer/guy who can take on blocks while freeing up our linebackers behind him to make plays.

Then, we continued picking for the trenches by taking a couple of Michigan players in the fifth round. The defensive end also seems like he’s Just A Guy, albeit with a fairly interesting body type for the position (6’5, 295 pounds), who could play along the outside or the interior. Does that make him L.J. Collier? Probably, but at least we didn’t waste a high draft pick on him. The center, however, also seems interesting as a potential starter as early as 2024 (if not sooner, again, due to injury and his standing on the depth chart).

I’m not buying the safety we took in the sixth round will remain at safety. For starters, he’ll need to excel at special teams if he wants to make the roster at all. Secondly, he seems a tad undersized, and they’re already talking about him being a nickel or dime corner. Odds are he doesn’t play much at all on defense this year. Odds are also that he doesn’t ascend in year two to be a starter replacing Jamal Adams. For that, we’ll probably look to next year’s draft (and a lot higher than the sixth round).

I’ll believe it when I see it that the seventh round running back also makes the roster. It sounds like he’s a good pass catcher, and also plays special teams, so crazier things have happened. But, that means you’re going into a season with three running backs having 1 or 0 years of experience, and only DeeJay Dallas (so far) as any sort of veteran (heading into his 4th season). My guess is we never see Kenny McIntosh hit the football field, and he suffers a very serious injury before the regular season. Can’t you picture the name “Kenny McIntosh” as someone we never hear from again? Remember Zac Brooks, who we took in the seventh round in 2016? Doesn’t Kenny McIntosh remind you of Zac Brooks?

While last year’s draft felt vital, and rife with quality players throughout, this year’s draft feels like depth replenishment. We boosted some positions into the elite realm (corner, wide receiver, and probably running back), while helping fill out other spots (offensive line and special teams). But, I’m not getting the sense there are any late-round gems in this draft class. Tariq Woolen has been an interesting player since the moment his name was selected. From that point on, he was a tantalizing prospect who – if he put it all together – could be a monster. And, it turns out, he put it all together extremely quickly!

But, who is getting those kinds of comparisons in this draft class? Unless one of those defensive linemen shows flashes in rookie minicamp, I don’t think there’s going to be a third-day stud in the bunch. Hopefully, in time, one (or both) of the interior offensive linemen pan out into capable starters; that might help us save a shekel or two. But, if we’re going to be wowed by this influx of players, it’s going to come from the very top.

We’ll see, though. I’m not going to say it’s going to take 3-5 years for us to figure out if this weekend was a bust. We should know in year 1 whether or not guys project to be impactful in the NFL. So, I can’t wait to hear about how they develop over the next few months!

L.J. Collier Was The Worst Seahawks First Round Pick In The John Schneider Era

L.J. Coller was taken with the 29th overall pick in 2019 by the Seattle Seahawks. He just recently signed with the Arizona Cardinals for a 1-year deal, probably worth the minimum. Thus ends the Seahawks tenure of the very worst first round draft pick John Schneider ever made.

To be fair, it’s not like there’s been a TON of first round draft picks. There’s been FIVE years in that span (2010-2022) where we didn’t make a selection until the second round! It almost happened a sixth time in 2019, I’m sure, but I gather we couldn’t find a trade partner willing to give us what we wanted to trade into the first round (not a good quarterback class AT ALL, really hampered us).

But, that being said, there have also been a number of first round duds taken by the Seahawks in that time. James Carpenter was disappointing (and entirely miscast as a right tackle), Germain Ifedi was a frequent whipping boy (and ALSO entirely miscast as a right tackle), Rashaad Penny was a reach and oft-injured, and no one’s ever happy when their team takes an off-ball linebacker that high (Jordyn Brooks has been good, but not quite elite, and now quite injured).

L.J. Collier, however, out-sucks them all and it’s not even close.

The circumstances weren’t great at the time for the Seahawks. In 2019, we were still clinging to the delusion that we were a championship contender. We were trying to recover from YEARS of mismanagement along the defensive line – starting right around the point where we took Malik McDowell in the second round in 2017 – and this was really the nadir. Frank Clark was coming up for a new contract. We franchise tagged him, then traded him to the Chiefs for a bounty of picks. It was our only viable move, really, since we didn’t even have the money to cover the tag, let alone enough money or draft capital to replenish all the spots that needed filling.

It was just unfortunate, in retrospect, that we couldn’t find a trade partner with a pick higher than the 29th. But, there was nothing doing, and by the time the draft got to the 29th spot, there wasn’t a quality defensive end left.

The consensus was down on Collier from the start. He was a reach. He had no marketable skills on the football field. If you squinted (and REALLY lied to yourself), you saw a guy who could play inside and outside – a la Michael Bennett – but in reality this guy wasn’t anything CLOSE to Michael Bennett.

45 games in 4 years for the Seahawks. 16 starts, all in 2020. His career got off to a bad start with an injury in training camp as a rookie; that set him back considerably. Or, maybe it didn’t. Maybe he was just fucking terrible, and a track record of perfect health wouldn’t have made any difference. I know this, injuries didn’t keep him off the field 2020-2022. You know what did? His incompetence at the game of football. He was frequently a healthy scratch on gamedays. On a line – mind you – that wasn’t very good as it was! We’ve never STOPPED trying to recover from the years of mismanagement along the defensive line! And he couldn’t even crack THAT rotation in many weeks!

3.0 career sacks, all in 2020. 40 career tackles – less than one per game. So, no pass rush ability, and not really anything special when it came to stopping the run. He didn’t do a fucking thing in his time here.

It’s adorable that Collier’s agent is throwing shade at the Seahawks and their scheme. I mean, I know the Seahawks have been far from perfect (especially defensively), but Pete Carroll has a track record. Other players HAVE stepped up and produced in this system. If Collier goes to the Cardinals and becomes a force to be reckoned with, I’ll eat my fucking hat.

Good. Fucking. Riddance.

Now, let’s go out and find a proper defensive end in this year’s draft to take his place.

Minor Seahawks-Related News While I Was Losing My Shirt In Reno, Part 1

Every year, for the first weekend of March Madness, my friends and I congregate in Reno to gamble on basketball and drink all the alcohol our special bracelets will allow. It’s a great time to be alive.

But, it’s a pain in the ass when it comes to sports blogging, because it also generally coincides with the start of NFL free agency. A lot of shit goes down during these four days, and I don’t have the time or the willingness to drop everything and shoot off a blog post as they happen.

Instead, other than the really big stories, I compile them all here in a post-trip post. Here’s all the bullshit that didn’t deserve its own headline.

Gabe Jackson Released

This actually happened way before I left for Reno, but it was so unimportant that … I can’t even properly finish this sentence; farts? We save $6.5 million, which is considerable what with the nearly $5 million in dead money we’re eating. He was going to cost us a pretty penny if he remained on the roster, and that’s too much to spend for someone who was a rotational guy at guard with Phil Haynes (who was previously re-signed on a one-year deal). I’m not so sure Haynes’ $4 million contract means he’s a lock to start for us; we could (and probably should) draft a guard of the future. But, he’s probably going to start for us – at least at first – and it’s better that way. Haynes has proven capable; Gabe Jackson has proven to be over the hill and expensive.

Shelby Harris Released

We saved another $9 million by making this move (though, we still had to eat a little over $3 million on dead money). Figure a lot of that will be going to Dre’Mont Jones, in our big splash on the first day of free agency. Harris was a quality interior player that we got back in the Russell Wilson deal, but he’s getting up there in age and you can’t afford to pay that kind of money to a guy who’s just okay. There’s no denying that the Seahawks were absolutely atrocious on the front seven in 2022, and especially in the interior defensive line. Harris was fine, but he clearly wasn’t making up for how deficient this team was, and it was imperative to make a big move at this position, considering our dire need.

Cody Barton Signed With The Washington Commanders

One of the other biggest needs is interior linebacker, where we really need a couple guys to fill the void until Jordyn Brooks is able to return from injury. One of my biggest worries, as a result, was the Seahawks shrugging their shoulders and re-signing Barton because he’s “familiar with the system” and “is better than everyone insists based on our 2022 results”. I don’t know who I’m quoting there, but in my head that’s word for word what some know-it-all has to say about Cody Barton. Has there ever been a good football player named Cody? I don’t think so! Prove me wrong. Anyway, Washington saved me from a lot of unnecessary worry by signing him on Day One, so he’s their problem now. Enjoy ankle tackles and a complete dearth of impact plays!

Quinton Jefferson Released

This came after the Dre’Mont Jones signing, which saves us around $5 million. He’s always been a quality rotation body – who can slide inside and outside – but nothing really special. That being said, he was one of the few players who flashed any semblance of competence along the line in 2022, so it was nice having him back while it lasted. I don’t know if this is a move we made to help pay for Jones’ new deal, or if it will lead to another move, but we’ll have to wait and see.

Rashaad Penny Signed With The Philadelphia Eagles

You know, the more you think about it, the more you realize Rashaad Penny is the most Eaglesy running back on the market. Mix him in that backfield with three other guys and watch them all tantalize – fantasywise – but ultimately let you down when you actually have to start one of them on your team. Penny leaving the Seahawks seemed like a foregone conclusion after returning on a 1-year deal, only to get hurt early in the season. It was time for a fresh start, and it’s time for the Seahawks to look elsewhere to back up Kenneth Walker.

Travis Homer Signed With The Chicago Bears

It’s a 2-year, $4.5 million deal, which granted isn’t a lot of money, but also Travis Homer isn’t worth spending money on. He’s just a guy, and that’s all he’s been. He also hasn’t been remotely durable since his rookie season. I’m happy to move on and hope the Seahawks look to draft a running back to fill out the ranks.

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!

The Seahawks Struggled To Take Down A Bad Rams Team

Pretty standard Seahawks game, all things considered. Lots of turnovers and flukey plays, controversial referee decisions, with a generous portion of Playing Down To The Level Of Your Opponent. In the end, talent overcame whatever the football gods have for us when it comes to the Seahawks playing the Rams, in a 27-23 victory.

It’s hard to come away too impressed, though there were some impressive elements. You have to start with Geno Smith, who finally got the monkey off his back when it comes to leading his team on a 2-minute drive to come from behind and win it. We had every opportunity to blow it at the end. We also had every opportunity – once we got into field goal range – to sit on the ball and play for overtime. But, Geno rared back and won this game with his arm, and it was refreshing to see.

I also gotta say I was impressed we were able to do it while getting absolutely nothing from our running game. Kenneth Walker left the game early with an ankle injury, as he was limited to 3.6 fantasy points 36 rushing yards. We’re obviously down Rashaad Penny from his injury weeks ago, not to mention Travis Homer, who failed to suit up for this one. That left us with DeeJay Dallas – who came into the second half “doubtful” to return, only to gut it out until the end – and someone named Tony Jones, who I’d never heard of before. All told, the running game got us 90 yards on 22 carries and zero scores.

On paper, the defense seemed to have a good game – 5/14 on 3rd/4th downs, 319 total yards (5.1 yards per play), 148 yards passing, 4 sacks, and two interceptions – but it’s infuriating that the Rams were able to score 23 points with no one but backups all across their offense. No Matthew Stafford, no Cooper Kupp, no Darrell Henderson; we should’ve held them to single digits.

That being said, it was cool to see Tariq Woolen get another pick, and have a beautiful tipped pass on what would’ve been a huge gain. Nwosu had a couple more sacks, and Jordyn Brooks had a great game. Even Cody Barton got another late pick to shut it down.

The wide receivers showed up and balled hard in this one. Tyler Lockett had 128 on 9 receptions, with a TD, and D.K. Metcalf had 127 on 8 receptions, with a TD. Noah Fant also had a nice game with 4 catches for 42 yards and a TD.

There was a point here – when this game was still a 50/50 deal – where it kinda felt like maybe losing would be the better result. Look, a 7-5 Seahawks team led by Geno Smith is a nice story and all. But, the 49ers just played the bulk of their last game against a very good Dolphins team without Jimmy G and they HANDLED them. We’re not winning the division. At best, we’re playing for a wild card spot, but now even our victory over the Giants is meaningless since they have a tie on their record. Even if we do sneak into the playoffs, it’s hard for me to see us getting to the Divisional Round, and impossible for us to make it beyond that point. In spite of how great a lot of younger guys are playing, there are still MANY holes left to fill before we can consider ourselves to be a championship-contending team.

Now, obviously, the good news is that the Broncos lost again. The more we win, the more we NEED that pick to land in the top 5, and ideally in the top 3. They’re having a true Season From Hell, with everything that CAN go wrong actually going wrong. I don’t know how many more weeks we’ll be able to depend on them choking these games away.

We get back-to-back home games on the horizon, with a weird 4-8 Panthers team that’s still somehow playing for the division, followed by a Thursday night showdown against the 49ers. That’s two very good defenses, with the Seahawks heading into these games sorely banged up.

I have to like our chances against the Panthers – because their offense looks so bad – but that’s a team that can easily nip us in a close one. I’m officially predicting a 19-16 Seahawks victory, but I’m not super confident about it.

How Good Can The Seahawks Be In 2022?

So much of the discourse about our favorite sports teams has a bent towards the future, for better and for worse. To the point where all too often, the reaction to that discourse is a Stop & Smell The Roses mentality that can feel overly sentimental or old fashioned. I’m as guilty of that as everyone, because duh, I am stopping and smelling the damn roses. I’m watching every week, aren’t I? I’m reading articles and blogs, I’m writing about the games and whatnot, what more do you want from me? I’m invested!

But, that’s just it. I’m so invested that I’m taking a big picture approach to following a team like the Seahawks. I can do both: I can follow along and be entertained in the moment, AND I can think about the future and what this team needs to do to be even better.

What’s only starting to occur to me is: what if the future is now? Maybe we don’t NEED to look ahead a year or two, to see this team compete for Super Bowls. With the trajectory we’re on now, the sky really does feel like the limit!

Maybe it’s the four-game winning streak talking, I dunno. But, when I watch this team, I see a balanced and explosive offense, strong across the board at both the skill positions and the grunt workers. I see a defense that’s clearly improved from where it languished in the first month of the season, and it’s seemingly getting better by the week, as the young guys gain experience and start to mesh with the new scheme.

What’s a little uncertain is how elite this team truly is.

I would say throughout the year, the offense has been ahead of the defense. That’s not going out on any significant limb of hot takes or anything. But, does that make the offense elite? In a lot of ways, the analytics would say yes. Points per game, we’re 4th in the league. But, yards per game we’re down around the 10ish range. That’s good, not great. It also kinda feels like this team hasn’t played its absolute best on offense except against the very worst of defenses. Maybe I should give the Seahawks more credit for the 32 we rung up on the Saints, but there’s also been times we’ve been stymied. It feels like there’s more we can do, like this team could put up 50 on an opponent at any given time.

Then, on the flipside, defensively is this team a championship level unit? Certainly, after that Saints game, things turned around in a hurry. The D-Line shifted in its attack, we stopped relying so much on Cody Barton (in favor of more DBs on the field), and our young secondary has stepped up in a big way. Ours isn’t a traditionally dominant defensive unit like the 49ers, the Jets, the Cowboys, or the Broncos. But, it’s hard to argue with results.

That’s a potentially-explosive Cardinals team. They racked up a relatively easy touchdown-scoring drive when they first had possession of the football, then they proceeded to go punt, punt, punt, fumble, punt, punt, punt before their next touchdown (they did get a pick-six there in the middle of all of that, but that’s no reflection of their offense, now is it?). That’s some serious domination, three weeks after we held them to all of 9 points (3 points on offense, with the other 6 coming on a special teams TD).

To be fair, though, the Cards are kind of a mess. While they do have the potential to be explosive, they’ve also proven to be prone to implosion more often than not. It’s not like we just held the Chiefs, Bills, or Eagles to some miniscule number. But, you play the teams as they’re scheduled, and it’s hard not to be impressed with how the Seahawks have looked in all facets.

What’s not uncertain is the team’s lack of depth.

It’s not quite a Gods N Clods situation, but you could make a good argument that the Seahawks have been pretty lucky with injuries. We lost Jamal Adams, but who’s the other injury on defense that wasn’t an addition by subtraction (a la Sidney Jones or Justin Coleman)? We’ve had nagging injuries on offense, but other than Rashaad Penny, I don’t think we’ve lost anyone of note.

But, clearly, this team wouldn’t be the same if Geno Smith went down for a long period of time. We’d be severely hurting if we lost Kenneth Walker. And if either Lockett or Metcalf go out, we’re pretty bad at receiver behind those guys. Defensively, I think we’d be devastated if we lost Nwosu or Brooks, and the last thing I want is for our secondary guys to get hampered in their development.

Of course, you could make the same depth argument about a lot of teams. We’re seeing it play out in real time with the likes of the Green Bay Packers, for instance. For the most part, the very best teams – the ones competing for and winning Super Bowls – are also the ones who are luckiest with injuries. There’s never a 100% healthy team, but I would argue it’s a pretty high number. All the difference in how you finish lies in how healthy your best players are able to remain throughout the season. The NFL is a rough business; it churns through athletes with the best of ’em.

But, this isn’t a blog post talking about How Healthy Can The Seahawks Be In 2022; that’s a discussion about randomness. We’re talking about how GOOD this team can be, and I’m really starting to believe.

I think the biggest test to date is coming this weekend. I know I say that every week, but every week it remains true.

The Bucs, by and large, have been a colossal disappointment. But, there’s been plenty of extenuating circumstances. They’re still a team led by Tom Brady, with tons of offensive weapons at his disposal. They’ve still got a tremendous defense – especially at stopping the run – and a foundation of quality coaches and coordinators keeping the boat afloat. There’s a ton of experience on that team, and they’re right where they need to be. They play in one of the worst divisions in football, and control their own destiny. They won’t be a top seed in the NFC, but they can easily make the postseason and be a team nobody wants to play.

At this point, I usually talk about “how you beat this team”, but I don’t fully grasp why they’re so bad in the first place, other than guys who are usually great aren’t doing so hot. Obviously, if you get in Tom Brady’s grill with a 4-man pass rush, that’s the best way to slow him down. But, he can still carve up anyone when he’s on. Leonard Fournette can look like one of the best running backs in football at times, but all too often it seems like they go away from him for no reason. They have dynamic receivers, good players at tight end, and when healthy, their O-line has been tough. I don’t know how healthy that line is now, but maybe that’s a weakness we can exploit.

On the flipside, we have to stay on schedule and disciplined on offense. No penalties, no negative plays, and be efficient on third down. I expect this to be relatively low scoring and close to the bitter end, so there will be a few crucial plays that determine this one. Kickers better be on point, is all I have to say about the Special Teams.

There’s a real great opportunity here. If we can gut out a win in Germany, that puts us at 7-3 heading into the BYE. Then, we host 5 of our last 7 games, which at the beginning of the season seemed like a pointless gesture, but now looks like a gift from the heavens. There are still tough games sprinkled in throughout – hosting the 49ers, Jets, and even the Raiders; two games against the hated Rams, and that huge road game against the Chiefs on Christmas Eve – but it’s hard not to like our chances in most of those. Clearly, there’s something wrong with the Rams and Raiders. The Panthers should be pushovers. The Jets stink on offense. The 49ers are banged up and coming to Seattle. Even the Chiefs have shown their warts at times.

I’m not saying the Seahawks are definitely winning out the rest of the way. But, I am saying that it would not surprise me if the Seahawks won this weekend and continued to win the rest of the year. It wouldn’t surprise me if the Seahawks earned a top 2 or 3 seed in the NFC. It wouldn’t surprise me if the Seahawks made some noise in the playoffs. And, indeed, it wouldn’t surprise me if the Seahawks won it all.

Until further notice, I’m not concerning myself with the 2023 version of this team, or beyond. I’m all in on 2022, and from where I’m sitting, the view is pretty great.

Nobody Wants To Hear About My Fantasy Team 2022: Points On The Bench

Yet another hopelessly futile defeat, 170.11 to 115.70. I got a lot from Gabe Davis and nothing from anyone else. Justin Fields had his best game of the season, with a whopping 21.1 points, but Bailey Zappe could only muster 11.9 against the worst fantasy defense in the NFL. Not that Davis Mills – my other potential option – was all that great either.

I didn’t leave a ton of points on my bench – mostly because my guys are incapable of scoring a ton of points – but I made more tactical errors that bit me in the ass. Starting Doubs and Wilson for their boom potential was a huge mistake. I sat D.K. and CeeDee, who both would’ve been improvements. I also had Gabe Davis on my bench in two other leagues, that very nearly cost me victories as a result.

On the plus side, Kenneth Walker had a good game (14.8 points) and with the Penny injury, looks to slot in as one of my starting running backs going forward. Ezekiel Elliott will be my other guy for now, even though Pollard has outscored him on the season. Eventually, I look forward to Brian Robinson being The Man, so I can sit both Dallas running backs, until one guy gets hurt and I can pound the other guy for a while.

I’m running into my first BYE week situation this week, as I need a tight end replacement for T.J. Hockenson. It’s idiotic that we have such small benches, yet have to keep a tight end AND a kicker, but the league has been fucking brainwashed into this moronic stance. So fuck me, I guess.

I tried to make a claim for the sham tight end that is Taysom Hill, but someone else had higher waiver priority. On the plus side, that takes me all the way up to the #3 waiver priority. On the downside, I’m currently unable to pick up any free agents while utilizing my IR spot, because technically none of my players have been ruled out this week. I’m holding off as a result. I’m expecting either Jameis or Mac Jones will have to sit, and I’ll pick up a tight end accordingly.

What happens if they’re both healthy? Well, consider this my silent protest for an increased bench, because I’m not giving up players I think can be useful down the line just to fill a tight end spot for one week.

Here’s my lineup for this week:

  • Mac Jones (QB) @ Cle
  • Justin Fields (QB) vs. Was
  • CeeDee Lamb (WR) @ Phi
  • D.K. Metcalf (WR) vs. Ari
  • Ezekiel Elliott (RB) @ Phi
  • Kenneth Walker (RB) vs. Ari
  • TBD (TE) @ TBD
  • Gabe Davis (WR) @ KC
  • Evan McPherson (K) @ NO
  • L.A. Rams (DEF) vs. Car

It’s time to stop fucking around with rookie receivers. Until they start producing at an outstanding level, Wilson and Doubs will sit on my bench. I may be frustrated by my veterans at times, but they’re the ones getting consistent points this year, so it’s time to ride them until further notice.

It’s also time to start taking injuries more seriously. If a guy is in so much pain that he misses a week, then is questionable and a game-time decision before starting the next week, he’s almost certainly not going to be any kind of productive in that second week. It might, indeed, take a few weeks for him to shake off the injury and return to form. Let’s call it the Gabe Davis Principle.

I’m going up against Sloane N Steady:

  • Aaron Rodgers (QB) vs. NYJ
  • Zach Wilson (QB) @ GB
  • Mike Evans (WR) @ Pit
  • Michael Pittman Jr. (WR) vs. Jax
  • Nick Chubb (RB) vs. NE
  • Dalvin Cook (RB) @ Mia
  • David Njoku (TE) vs. NE
  • Amari Cooper (WR) vs. NE
  • Ryan Succop (K) @ Pit
  • Baltimore (DEF) @ NYG

Yep. That looks like another massacre.

In my other fantasy leagues, I’m 5-0 and 4-1 respectively. That’s good for first place and tied-for-first-place. I promise you, I’m better than is indicated in this league.