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 Wrong

Well, you can start by the Seahawks losing to Green Bay in the playoffs, but let’s dig a little deeper.

The talking points among the veterans on this team (well, at least the vets who are under contract beyond 2019) have revolved around there being a lot of hope for the future. We’ll get around to that tomorrow, but for now I’m still in a bit of a mood, and that mood subsists on a diet of negativity and self-loathing.

I’ve got a list of players to rant about today, split into two groups. Before we get to the truly egregious offenders of our misery, let’s start with the mediocre players who didn’t totally kill our hopes and dreams, but also did very little in helping us achieve them.

Where It All Went Meh

I could talk about pretty much everyone in the back quarter of the roster/practice squad/scrap heap, but here are a few names worth mentioning.

Jarran Reed was suspended for the first six games of the season. Why it took the league so long to get around to this – when the incident apparently happened years ago – is beyond me, but the conspiracy nut in me feels it’s a plot against my beloved Seahawks. Regardless, it was a hefty punishment, but in the grand scheme of things it arguably only cost us a single game. Nevertheless, missing out on that time must’ve done something to negatively impact the rest of his season, because he ended the year with a whopping 2 sacks. That’s 8.5 fewer than 2018. Was he out of shape? Did the layoff force him to take longer to ramp back up, as if he needed a second “pre-season” to get going again? Whatever it was, he hardly made an impact.

Sticking with the theme, our other starting DT, Al Woods, ended the season with a suspension. That cost him the last two regular season games (both losses) as well as our two post-season games. Had we prevailed in Green Bay, we would’ve had him back for next week, but obviously that’s down the shitter, and now he’s a free agent. At the most crucial time – when we were at our most injured – we could absolutely not afford to lose another important player, particularly on defense.

Tre Flowers took a lot of heat after our loss to the Packers and I know a lot of fans are killing him in the fallout, but over the course of the season he was … whatever. With him, it always feels like two steps forward, two steps back. I think we were all quite impressed with him as a rookie, especially since he was converting from his safety spot in college, but the total lack of growth this year was pretty grim. I guess we were saying the same thing about Shaquill Griffin this time last year, and he really showed out in his third season, so that’s the only reason why I’m not completely off the bandwagon. But, I’ve got one foot out the door; I’m going to be very suspicious until I see real improvement on the field.

The tough part about rooting for the Seahawks is that so many of our hopes are tied into the younger guys, and if they’re not coming out right away and blowing our minds, it feels like our tires are going to continue to spin in the mud. With so much of our salary cap tied into Wilson, the O-Line, and our linebackers, we really need cost-effective younger guys to step into major roles on this team earlier and earlier. Which makes the rookie seasons of Ugo Amadi and Marquise Blair so frustrating. The fact of the matter is, we don’t know what those guys can bring to the table, because they spent so much of the season buried behind inferior veterans (who I’ll talk about later). Particularly with Blair, who actually looked decent in his appearances this season; why wouldn’t this coaching staff go with the higher-upside talent over the veterans who have proven time and time again that they stink?

Finally, a few words on Rasheem Green. He was as disappointing as it gets as a rookie in 2018. Going from that to leading the Seahawks in sacks in 2019 sounds fucking phenomenal! You’re telling me this team had Jadeveon Clowney, Ziggy Ansah, and Jarran Reed, and second-year prospect Rasheem Green led the team in sacks?! Wahoo! Except, oh yeah, he had exactly 4 sacks, and this unit was absolutely abysmal at getting to the quarterback. Steady progress is still progress, but from the looks of things, we’re going to need Green to make a bigger leap in 2020.

Where It All Went Completely Fucking FUBAR

Let’s get this out of the way now (speaking of the D-Line): Ziggy Ansah was a total fucking atrocity. 2.5 sacks in 11 games. Of course, he was never going to be a sure thing, coming off of injury and settling for a prove-it deal to build his value back. And, the Seahawks (as beggars) weren’t in a position to be choosers when it came to building a pass rush on the fly. We were cash-strapped and still dealing with the fallout of losing Cliff Avril and Malik McDowell to career-ending injuries. It’s taken 2018 & 2019 just to get things right again (moneywise), but in that time we failed to develop any semblance of a competent defensive line on our own, so we had to go dumpster diving, and in walks Ansah. While it was always a risk, given his track record, the HOPE was that at some point he’d return to maybe 75% of his old, dominant self. Instead, we got a washed-up 30 year old who really doesn’t seem to be all that invested in his football career. Ansah sounds like he’s not really passionate about the game, and on this team, that’s just not gonna fly.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, L.J. Collier was a first round pick this season. He got hurt in August, missed the pre-season, and was only active for 11 games this year (being declared a healthy scratch more times than I can count on one hand, on a team that – as I’ve mentioned repeatedly – was one of the worst in the league at getting to the quarterback. He was deemed to be a reach by most experts at the time of the selection, and he’s looking like a bust now. We’ll see where he goes from here.

Normally, I wouldn’t even bother to mention someone like Ed Dickson in a post like this. He’s a veteran tight end who has been out with injury more than he’s played in his two seasons in Seattle. But, considering all the turnover we had to endure at the tight end position (including yet another tragic injury to Will Dissly, this time after only 6 games; as well as trading Nick Vannett to the Steelers), there were times we REALLY could’ve used Dickson. I remember a couple weeks there where we might not have had as many as TWO healthy tight ends on the roster, which is big for a team like the Seahawks, who feature the position immensely. Look for Dickson to be cut, saving us $3 million in the process.

Sticking with the offense for a bit, David Moore sure disappointed. He missed the early part of the season with an injury, then came back but could never get in sync with Wilson, in spite of what appeared to be WAY too many attempts. Moore was targeted 34 times and only managed to catch half of them, for all of 2 touchdowns. Sure, a lot of those were contested, but Moore was simply incapable of making a play on the ball when the team needed him.

So, we brought in Josh Gordon, and right away he made a difference. He only caught 7 passes for 139 yards in his 5 games here, but it seemed like all of them were either for significant yardage or to convert third downs. Then, he was suspended again, and that shining light was taken away from us. The ramifications were pretty great. For starters, we clearly could’ve used him down the stretch in the regular season (where we lost our last two games), and we DEFINITELY could’ve used him in Green Bay (where we were stuck with Malik Turner dropping a critical pass in our final possession of the season). On top of that, when we first picked up Gordon, he was our 8th wide receiver, meaning someone had to go. We eventually waived our rookie draft pick Greg Jennings. We were unable to sneak him onto our practice squad, as Miami ended up grabbing him. He hasn’t done anything yet, but if he turns into a stud, it’ll look really bad for us.

Finally, let’s talk about where it went the MOST wrong: the secondary.

The Seahawks could never get the nickel corner spot figured out. Justin Coleman had it locked down previously, but with our cap situation – and his considerable value on the open market – we couldn’t dream of matching his 4-year, $36 million deal with the Lions. So, we cheaped out. A slew of veterans – including notoriously-terrible Jamar Taylor – stunk up the joint so bad, we were hands down the team to spend the most time in base defense. It was okay for the most part, but it still meant seeing our linebackers getting beat on a regular basis.

Ultimately, the biggest downfall of this team came at the safety position (once our very strongest spot, only a few short years ago), specifically Tedric Thompson and Lano Hill. I can’t say enough terrible things about those guys. Aside from Ansah, the 2017 draft picks were far and away the biggest disappointments of this season. The worst part is, they’re under contract for 2020. The second-worst part is, this coaching staff keeps giving them ample opportunities over younger guys who almost certainly have higher upsides. I can’t stand how devoted this staff is to these two terrible players; someone please put me out of my misery by taking their jobs permanently!

The Seahawks Are Leading The NFC West For Now

The Seahawks can’t seem to win a normal, run-of-the-mill blowout game. I guess that’s okay as long as we keep winning, but …

Before the game, I called a score of 34-13, and for a brief moment there early in the fourth quarter, it was 34-17 and I thought I was a genius. Then, the Vikings almost immediately scored a touchdown to bring it to 34-24 and the comeback was officially on.

Things got tight in that fourth quarter and it started to look like one of those stupid games we used to lose in 2015 or 2016, where we’d get a seemingly-insurmountable lead and cough it up in some mindboggling way. After that breakdown in coverage gave the Vikings a 58-yard touchdown, our fumbling problem returned. When you’re talking about Seahawks and fumbles, you’re usually talking about Chris Carson, but he was great in this one. The second person you think of when you think about fumbles with this team, it’s not even that long of a pause: D.K. Metcalf. This game is actually a decent microcosm of his season: he’s had a lot of positives this year (6 catches for 75 yards, to lead the game), but just enough negatives (the lost fumble on a crucial 3rd down conversion that would’ve extended the drive and killed some more clock) to remind you that he’s a rookie. He’s a work in progress, it’s fine.

The Vikings proceeded to drive it 72 yards – aided considerably by a 3rd down pass interference penalty on Tre Flowers that was exclusively due to Kirk Cousins throwing a terrible, underthrown ball – but missed the extra point to make it 34-30. The Seahawks were once again limited in what time they could take off the clock, and the game hinged on the Vikings’ next drive.

They quickly got it out of the shadow of their own red zone, but the drive stalled at that point, ultimately turning it over on downs.

In spite of the score, the Seahawks’ defense was pretty solid. Sack numbers never tell the whole story, as it appeared the Seahawks were able to get consistent pressure on Cousins from a variety of players. Rasheem Green stood out in a big way, really proving his worth these last few games. He ended up forcing a fumble and generally being a presence in the backfield. Ziggy Ansah – before suffering a stinger that took him out – ended the game with 3 QB hits and a batted pass. Clowney returned from his injury to hit Cousins and get a tackle for loss. Jarran Reed also returned from injury and hit Cousins a couple times. All in all, 7 QB hits were recorded for the Seahawks.

The secondary – aside from a couple lapses – has started to come together. McDougald and Diggs continue to prove they’re the best safeties on this roster. Tre Flowers had a BEAUTIFUL interception on a pass intended for Stefon Diggs. And we saw a lot of tight coverage from the linebackers outside of that first Vikings TD drive.

The first half was a little frustrating, but the Seahawks did what they always do: they kept it close. Then, for a change of pace, we came out on fire after halftime, scoring 17 in the third quarter and going on a 24-0 run overall in the second half.

The Vikings’ defense was absolutely baffling to me. I kept looking at what they were doing pre-snap and it didn’t make any sense. They came into the game – I want to say – top 5 in rush defense, but they consistently loaded the box with anywhere from 5-7 guys, like they were daring us to ram it down their throats. Or, at least believing that just their front four would frustrate us enough into throwing more. Hell, on that huge 25-yard run by Carson early in the third quarter, they had a 7-man box against Seattle’s 7-man front; do the math! That’s a hat on a hat with a free Carson chugging towards the endzone!

It was like this all night! I usually finding myself calling out for more passing when I see our offense, but this was one of those rare games where I was begging Wilson to check to more run plays! Carson led the way with 102 yards on 23 carries, but Penny wasn’t far behind with 74 yards on 15 carries. The team totalled 218 yards on the ground on a 5.1 yard average with 2 TDs.

A good chunk of that came on the fake punt in the fourth quarter by Travis Homer (on that same drive that ended in a Metcalf fumble). With the way we were running all night, I kept expecting one of those patented Seahawks clock-churning drives to gobble up all the wind from their sails. That fake punt was a thing of beauty to keep the dream alive for a wee bit longer. From one conservative head coach to another, there was no way Mike Zimmer was expecting that from Pete Carroll in that situation, not with our 10-point lead and Carroll’s devotion to his defense! Yet, there it was, and it came at the best time possible. It’s just too bad we couldn’t finish the job right there.

Unfortunately, this wasn’t the game that would vault Wilson back into the MVP conversation. He’s still a very large distance behind Lamar Jackson, and 240 yards and 2 TDs (against 1 fluke INT following two batted passes) isn’t going to cut the mustard. If anything, he’s continuing to let other contenders reach his level, which can’t be good. He’s sitting at a 26:4 TD:INT ratio and a 111.1 passer rating; Jackson is at 25:5 with a 109.6 (plus another 7 TDs on the ground and almost 1,000 rushing yards, which is insane). Luckily, Wilson just cares about winning (not that Jackson doesn’t), and that’s all the Seahawks have been doing of late.

It feels great to finally get over that 49ers hump. With four weeks left in the season, let’s see how long that lasts!

The Seahawks Should’ve Killed The Eagles, Had To Settle For A Mild Drubbing

Kind of a weird game, but for the Seahawks that’s normal … so kind of a normal game.

At one point, the Seahawks should’ve been up 21-3, that’s what I do know. The Seahawks gave up the early field goal, then immediately marched right down the field, and four plays later – thanks to a trick play that went toss to the running back, lateral back to Wilson, deep ball to Malik Turner – went up 7-3. Then, a little later in the first half, the Seahawks marched down the field again and got all the way to Philly’s 6-yard line. Wilson scrambled around in the pocket and had Jacob Hollister wide open, but somehow overthrew him with no defenders between the two. That was as easy of a touchdown as you’ll see, but it wasn’t meant to be. Then, right before half, at the Philly 38, Wilson had D.K. Metcalf wide open down the middle, but he dropped the ball and we opted to punt.

This game should’ve been over at halftime, but instead we let them hang around, not really putting it away until there was about 12 minutes left in the game when we scored the TD to put us up 17-3. Even then, it wasn’t REALLY over, but the Eagles couldn’t do anything against our defense, until scrounging up a garbage-time touchdown late to pull it to the final of 17-9 (going for 2 for some unknown reason).

We learned two key things in this game. #1 – we learned that Russell Wilson has effectively played himself out of the MVP race. It’s not totally his fault, but with another pick and that missed connection to Hollister, he’s not off the hook either. Fair is fair, though, and these receivers – mostly just D.K. Metcalf – are dropping way too many highlight reel passes, thus keeping Wilson off of Sportscenter, thus leaving space for other contenders to shine. Ultimately, it’s Lamar Jackson’s award to lose; Wilson had to be as perfect as can be to keep up, and I just don’t know if he has it in him. It’s a bitter pill, to be sure, but sometimes destiny just gets in the way.

The second thing we learned in this one is that the defense might be back, and at the most perfect time!

I’ll be the first to admit, I was medium-worried heading into this one, with the news that Jadeveon Clowney wasn’t going to play with a hip injury. Hip injuries, by the way, are the second-most-annoying injuries an NFL player can have, behind turf toe (and just ahead of oblique strain). The fact that he came out of the 49ers game banged up isn’t really surprising, because that was as tough and physical a game as I’ve ever seen a one-man-wrecking-crew undertake. But, that he’s still injured even after a BYE week is more than a little concerning. I mean, let’s face it, ALL of our games going forward are Must Win; we can’t slip up even a little bit with the 49ers playing as well as they are. So, you know we need him, you know he wants to play, and that he is unable to really makes me wonder how long we’re going to be looking at this.

Also, even if he returns at some point, how much will it affect him the rest of the way?

The cool thing is, the Seahawks didn’t need him in this one, because everyone else showed up in a big way.

This wasn’t a one-man show. Damn near every guy on the defense made at least one impact play. Wright and Kendricks were blankets over the guys they were responsible for; Tre Flowers had 3 passes defended and a pick. McDougald had a pick. Diggs recovered a fumble. I’m pretty sure Shaquill Griffin forced a fumble. Shaquem Griffin had a couple QB hits and was a menace in pass rush. Rasheem Green had a sack and a couple QB hits. Ziggy Freakin’ Ansah finally showed up to play! He had 1.5 sacks and I want to say a forced fumble as well! Jarran Reed had half a sack before going out with an ankle. Poona Ford and Al Woods were in the backfield all day. I mean, you name him, and he made something happen!

The Eagles rushed for 106 yards on 23 carries, but it hardly mattered, because Carson Wentz was the god damned devil. We held him to 256 yards passing (80 of which came on that garbage-time touchdown drive at the end) on 33/45, most of those being of the short-to-intermediate variety. So, in other words, he played right into our hands of what we want to do defensively. We also picked him off twice and sacked him 3 times, but that doesn’t tell the whole story, because we were living in his grill the entire game (10 QB hits total).

Now, obviously, the Eagles are as banged up as can be. Their top three receivers are out, their right tackle was hurt, and their top two running backs were gone. This was a M.A.S.H. unit on offense, and the Seahawks took advantage. You could argue that’s why our defense looked so elite, and make a case that we AREN’T back yet, but I’ve seen this defense look pretty mediocre against a worse set of offensive “talent”, so I’m not buying that at all. The Eagles still boast two great tight ends and they had enough guys to get things done (especially since their defense has also turned a corner after some early-season struggles).

Nope, I’m saying here and now that the Seahawks’ defense will be fine. It won’t be Top 10 or anything, but it will be what we need it to be.

If anything, I think we need to start worrying about D.K. Metcalf. He had at least two or three balls fall off his hands in this one. Granted, they would’ve been remarkable plays, but those are passes he needs to catch if he’s going to be an impact player in this offense. I know he’s a rookie and everything, but this is a team fighting for a Super Bowl opportunity. If he’s hitting a Rookie Wall, that’s going to be dangerous for us heading into the home stretch. I don’t WANT to have to depend on Josh Gordon to be that guy for us (he had 1 catch for 10 yards on 2 targets in this one, as he slowly acclimates into our offense), but we may have no choice. This is two drop-heavy games in a row for Metcalf, I’ll be very interested in how he responds.

Also, Jesus Christ, Chris Carson, you’re killing me! He had back-to-back fumbles in this one (the second one we lost at a key juncture late in the game, when we could’ve put the game away), and this just isn’t going to go away, is it? I will reiterate what I said earlier this season: DO NOT EXTEND CARSON BEYOND HIS ROOKIE CONTRACT! If he holds out next year, so fucking be it. Draft someone to replace him and let’s move on with our lives. Also, he better NOT fucking hold out, because with this fumbling problem (on top of his prior injury problem), he’s going to need a bounce-back season in 2020 just to prove he’s reliable! No team is going to give a fumbler a high-money deal! Not even the Jets!

Rashaad Penny made the notion of benching Carson a lot easier with his 129 yards on 14 carries, with a 58-yard breakaway touchdown in the second half. I do agree with Salk on this one – that Penny isn’t as good out of shotgun as he is in a traditional single-back formation – so I hope that we can introduce more of those plays into our offense. Some of Marshawn Lynch’s best runs came out of plays with Wilson under center, so I don’t know why we can’t bring more of that back into our offense (it also sets up the play-action even better than it does out of shotgun).

Everything about this game smacked of 2013 Seahawks: low scoring, defense-heavy, grind it out and get the W any way you can. We’re 9-2, still a game out of first, with a Monday Night contest against the Vikings (coming off of their own BYE) to look forward to at CenturyLink Field. I can’t think of a better way to kick off December 2019.

The Seahawks Can Be Legitimate Super Bowl Contenders

Last week, I prattled on and on about why the Monday Night game would be so important for the Seahawks’ chances. Ultimately, I believed that the Seahawks SHOULD be making a push for an NFL championship, but their defense would be their downfall.

What this blog post presupposes is … maybe the defense is okay?

It’s a lot more fun living in a world where the Seahawks are 8-2. It’s not ideal, but when have we ever had an ideal Seahawks season? Even in 2013, our biggest obstacle was right in our own (relative) back yard with the 49ers; here we go again.

The best part is, everything I wrote about the 49ers last week is still true; they’re still heading into – BY FAR – the toughest stretch of their schedule. And, now they’re heading into it with a loss under their belts. It’s not remarkably easier for the Seahawks, so I’m not clapping my hands together in a job well done – there’s still a lot of work to do in our own garden – but it’s far easier to foresee a scenario where the Seahawks and 49ers are playing for both a division title and a Top 2 seed in the NFC in Week 17. In a game that Seattle will host, that will almost certainly be flexed to the 5pm time slot.

There’s still so much to unpack from that Monday Night game that I didn’t really touch on. For starters, either team would’ve been lucky to come out of there with a win; really, if a game ever deserved to end in a tie, it was probably that one. I tend to focus on all the things the Seahawks did to try to throw that game away – Wilson’s interception, D.K.’s fumble, Penny’s fumble, Wilson’s fumble-turned-Ifedi’s-fumble-turned-49ers’-touchdown, the interceptions Wright and Wagner and Flowers (off the top of my head) dropped that could’ve sealed the victory – but there were tons of things the 49ers did wrong that should’ve sealed the deal (and eventually DID seal the deal) for the Seahawks (again, those near-picks, Clowney’s fumble return for a TD, the other Jimmy G fumble, the countless drops from his receivers who were afraid of getting punished by our hard-hitting safeties, and of course the missed field goal in overtime). One thing that’s tough to shake is what that game would’ve looked like if Kittle was healthy, or if Sanders had played the entire game (take nothing away from the Seahawks on that one, because our guys were hitting HARD on defense).

And that gets me back to the point of this BYE-week post. The Defense. My personal whipping boy pretty much all year. From the beginning, I’ve held the opinion that this side of the ball would get better as the season progressed, and that when we get into this very stretch we’re in right now, we’d be looking at something downright respectable! Well, if I’d only listened to September-Me, I wouldn’t have to backtrack so much abuse I’ve heaped upon these guys in the last few weeks.

Now, of course, some of them deserve it. Ezekiel Ansah looks beyond washed up. I think Pete Carroll said he’s undersized from the weight he was at in his prime, but he looks overweight and slow to me, so something doesn’t check out. Clearly, he wasn’t able to work out the way he would’ve liked this past offseason, with the injury he was recovering from, and it shows on the field. He’s a ZERO, bringing absolutely nothing to the table. At this point, he’s blocking someone like Shaquem Griffin, who HAS to have a higher immediate upside in the pass rushing department.

I loved that move, by the way. I thought it was the most inspired thing the Seahawks have done on defense all year. Jadeveon Clowney was a man possessed against the 49ers, and an obvious choice for Defensive Player of the Week; that might be the best single defensive performance we see in the NFL all year! But, he’s been rock solid all season; he’s also been the benefactor of near-constant double teaming by opposing offenses, and rightly so. He’s obviously the only guy on the Seahawks’ D-line that anyone has to worry about, so shifting protection his way SHOULD be priority number 1 for most teams. With Ansah doing nothing, combined with Rasheem Green, Quinton Jefferson (who’s also been battling injuries most of the year), and anyone else you’ve put opposite Clowney (L.J. Collier, where you at?), I mean, the Seahawks had to do SOMETHING. Shaquem Griffin has been languishing on Special Teams his entire career, he was a primary pass rusher in college, why not at least give him a shot?

And, I get it, he’s probably a liability against the run. So, don’t put him in those situations. I hate to say it, but maybe be a little more predictable! Just use Griffin on 3rd downs and in otherwise obvious pass rushing situations. Let him use his speed off the edge to try to – if not get to the quarterback – at least redirect him in the pocket. Make him move around, get off his spot, delay his throw, and hopefully miss his intended target. Sacks aren’t the be-all, end-all in pass rushing.

Anything is better than what we’ve been seeing out of this defense, which has been a lot of quarterbacks with enough time to make giant party subs in their respective pockets!

I don’t know if Griffin is the solution, but he’s a step in the right direction. With Clowney playing at a D-POY level, I don’t think you NEED the other guys to be superstars; you just need them to be competent and improve week-by-week. Jarran Reed coming back and getting into the swing of things certainly helped against the 49ers. That, in turn, helped the play of Poona Ford and Al Woods; the more teams have to worry about Reed, the more that’s going to open things up for the other tackle next to him. Hopefully, this will all lead to the younger guys opposite Clowney to incrementally improve, to the point where they’re making an actual noticeable impact by season’s end.

Another one of my whipping boys has been Bobby Wagner, and the linebackers in general. Mostly, I’m lamenting the lack of huge impact plays by these guys. They’re doing everything else they’re supposed to do, but we haven’t really seen them flash all too often. There’s been a play here and there from Kendricks. Wagner finally started to assert himself more against the 49ers. Wright still looks like someone who’s probably on his final legs, and I’d like to see Cody Barton mixed in there a bit more to at least see what we have in him. But, for the most part, Wright is one of this team’s primary leaders, and he’s not going anywhere, at least not this year.

And, for the first time all year, there’s actual reason for hope when it comes to the secondary. Shaquill Griffin is still playing at an elite level, so no worries there. Quandre Diggs made his debut and looked fantastic! I guess he got the start at free safety, but he was hitting dudes out there like a strong safety. Combined with a healthy Bradley McDougald, I think that could really settle things down in the defensive backfield; here’s hoping they can just stay out there. Tre Flowers still has room to improve, and I keep feeling like it’s going to break out for him any game now. The nickel is still a huge area of concern, so the team is going to have to coach guys up and scheme this problem into irrelevance.

All year, everyone’s been saying that we don’t expect this defense to return to its L.O.B. roots. With how great the offense is, just Middle of the Road would be fine! Teams constructed like this – with a smart coaching staff behind them – can ABSOLUTELY win championships! We’ve seen worse defenses than this one go all the way. But, a little improvement never hurt anyone.

The 49ers game was the best this defense has played all year; if we can stay right around that level, the sky is the limit.

There were calls from the more optimistic sect of Seahawks fans prior to the 49ers game calling for fans to lighten up. I believe Hawkblogger himself said it’s okay to believe. I wasn’t there with him; the 49ers looked too daunting. Turns out they’re human, like all the teams in the NFL. In that respect, the Seahawks are as good as any of the contenders out there. I’m ready to finally start believing. I won’t make us frontrunners; but we’re as good or better than the 49ers, Saints, Packers, Cowboys, and any other NFC team you throw our way.

The Seahawks are IN this thing! It’s gonna be a fun final six weeks.

The Seahawks’ Defense Fucking Sucks

There’s no getting around it. There’s also no reason to sugarcoat it. The Seahawks have a shitty, terrible, no good, very bad fucking defense.

It’s frustrating not necessarily because we weren’t expecting this; the defense was always going to be the weak link on this team. It’s that they’re clearly WORSE than we were expecting, and they’re not improving one bit over the course of these first seven weeks!

I wouldn’t say the Seahawks have had a particularly brutal schedule to date – certainly a tougher one than the 49ers, for instance – but there’s been a mix of good and bad teams in there. Aside from the Cardinals – who still managed 321 total yards, and a 5.0 yards per rush average – teams have had no trouble scoring, and EVERYONE is at least moving the ball at will. It’s an embarrassment, and no one is exempt.

Bobby Wagner, WHERE YOU AT, BRO? 3 years, $54 million, at the top of the middle linebacker pack, and what have you done for us? 0 sacks, 3 tackles for loss. I don’t expect Wagner to be blitzing nonstop; that’s not his game. But, run stuffing? Getting to those running backs before they plow through the line for huge chunk plays? How about that, huh? Can we at least stop THAT from happening? Every time I turn around, Bobby Wagner is getting pancaked by fools he used to exploit.

Maybe it’s not his fault. The defensive line has certainly been fucking abysmal, after all. Nevertheless, I expect my superstar All Pros to play like superstar All Pros, regardless of the lack of talent around them. Bobby Wagner used to lift this team on his back and make everyone around him look and play better; he’s doing NONE of that this year. No special plays, anywhere. For a guy who’s going to bog down our salary cap, that’s UNACCEPTABLE.

Speaking of the defensive line: 11 sacks, 7th-worst in the NFL. At some point, you have to stop blaming the fact that opposing quarterbacks are getting the ball out too quickly. They’re not doing that on EVERY SINGLE PLAY! There are opportunities – too many, quite frankly – where the quarterback has all day to throw, and a clean, warm Snuggie of a pocket in which to stand.

Part of that, obviously, is by design. Out with the old and in with the new. But, we’re paying good money to some of these guys, and not really getting much out of them. Clowney is the only guy in the entire front seven who’s worth a damn right now. Where has Ansah been? Well, I hope he’s looking forward to another underwhelming contract offer (from a different team) next year, because he hasn’t earned that big payday he was hoping for! He can’t even stay on the fucking field! And he really doesn’t look like he even WANTS to be on the fucking field!

The worst part of all of this is the fact that our younger guys aren’t progressing in the slightest. Quinton Jefferson had one good game, but otherwise has been invisible. Poona Ford is not a secret pass rushing threat we were all hoping he’d be (and I’m not even sure he’s done a whole lot to stuff the run like he’s supposed to). Rasheem Green has 2 sacks on the season and looks as lost as ever in Year Two. And the biggest disappointment of all has to go to L.J. Collier, who was a first rounder this year. Everyone who reviewed his college film pretty much screamed that this guy wouldn’t be any good, and they’re all proven to be correct. He’s been a healthy scratch more than he’s played! A first round pick! On a team with a bullshit defensive line that can’t do anything!

K.J. Wright looks slow and in depserate need of retirement. Mychal Kendricks hasn’t shown much of any reason why he needs to be out there so often that we have to stay in Base to the detriment of our pass defense. We’re getting shredded by opposing tight ends more than ever before, and this is a defense that traditionally gives up huge days to opposing tight ends (at least, when they hang onto the ball, Mark Andrews).

In the entire front seven, I’ve counted one guy – Clowney – who’s been a positive. We can hope, I guess, that Jarran Reed will return to his 2018 form sooner rather than later, but I’m not holding my breath. And I haven’t even gotten to our worst position group on the entire team: the safeties.

Tedric Thompson is so bad, the Seahawks had to trade a 5th round pick in 2020 to go and get Quandre Diggs (and a 7th rounder). People in Detroit are lamenting this deal more for the fact that they didn’t get very much in return; indeed, it looks like only a 5th rounder is pretty good value for someone like Diggs. But, he’s also not a cure-all. He’s not going to come in here and magically transform this unit into something worthwhile! He’s not Earl Thomas in his prime; nor is he Earl Thomas NOW! He’s a guy, a guy Detroit was willing to part with so they could play their younger guys (though he’s only 26 years old himself).

Yet, Tedric has found himself in the lineup so often because Lano Hill – who’s also not very good, misses a lot of tackles, can’t really cover anyone, and never makes any impact plays – can’t stay healthy, and because Bradley McDougald is undersized, has taken a HUGE step back in 2019, and is physically breaking down. Marquise Blair was finally inserted into the starting lineup last week, and played okay, but is also a rookie and is exclusively a strong safety (so he doesn’t fix our Tedric problem, which is everything).

Tedric gets beat deep in every game he plays. In a system that preaches getting turnovers and eliminating big plays on defense, he doesn’t really do either (he’s been the recipient of a couple of tipped balls as his two interceptions this year). Pete Carroll will never badmouth ANYONE … unless you repeatedly give up huge plays deep down field. You’ve got to be pretty bad – and pretty stupid – to suck this hard and not come to the realization that you need to be playing deeper than you are. To keep falling for the same play-action tricks. And, on top of everything, he’s SLOW. He’s slow, he doesn’t tackle well; he brings literally nothing to the table. Why he’s still on this team, I have no idea.

The only other real bright spot on this defense is Shaquill Griffin, who’s the only guy taking his game to another level. Tre Flowers has shown bright spots here and there, but until we see it from him on a consistent basis, I’m reserving my praise. Beyond those two guys, it’s a fucking disaster area at cornerback. The team rightly let Justin Coleman walk in free agency – he was going to cost too much, and this team is supposed to be able to develop younger guys to fill this role – but they’ve failed in their jobs to ACTUALLY develop anyone.

All of that having been said, the Seahawks are somehow 5-2 on the year. They also have the good fortune of playing the moribund Atlanta Falcons right now, who are probably one more loss away from firing Dan Quinn. So, watch our defense totally kick some fuckin’ ass on Sunday and make me look foolish. I HOPE THEY DO.

I also hope that we re-hire Dan Quinn this offseason to be our defensive coordinator again, and send Ken Norton Jr. his walking papers. Because if we thought Kris Richard was a huge step down, well we hadn’t seen ANYTHING until now!

Pete Carroll keeps preaching that things are going to turn around for this side of the ball. Well, ANY FUCKING TIME NOW WOULD BE GREAT!

The Seahawks Beat The Cardinals In A Classic Get-Right Game

Really at no point during the game yesterday was I worried about the outcome. It didn’t even look like the Seahawks had to try all that hard to take care of business; it was the definition of Workmanlike.

Of course, I tried my best to conjure up some things to be concerned about heading into this game, and it was like they all read it down at Seahawks Headquarters and decided to respond with their game play.

For starters, I don’t remember us doing any dumb shit; that’s always a plus! Probably the dumbest thing I saw was David Johnson going off for 8 receptions and 99 yards, but if that’s the worst thing this defense did all day, then that’s certainly something you’ll live with 100 times out of 100. I’d still like to see some of the tackling get cleaned up, but we’re really picking nits at this point.

Next up, the running game was a legitimate concern, and not just because of Carson’s fumbling. He managed to make it through this one unscathed, and led a pretty generous attack with 104 yards on 22 carries (he also caught 4 for 41 for a nice overall day). The O-Line looked better than it has all year, which was nice.

Wide receiver depth is still a work in progress, but Wilson was smart about it in this one. He took advantage of our talent at tight end, with Dissly and newly-re-acquired Willson combining for 83 yards and a touchdown on 9 catches. That was always going to be a strength for us in this one, as the Cardinals had been handing out career games to opposing tight ends like lollipops at a doctor’s office. Also, the criminally-underutilized Jaron Brown made his presence felt in a relatively significant way (3 for 50); until we start getting more consistency out of guys like Moore and Metcalf, I feel like Brown needs to be more involved.

And, finally, there’s the front seven we all know and love! Wagner and Wright were all over the field making plays. Kendricks had 2 sacks and was a general thorn in Arizona’s side all day. Ansah had his first sack in a Seahawks uniform. Rasheem Green had an awesome play to sack Murray for a big loss when it was just the two of them in open field and he didn’t get juked out of his shoes. Collier and Poona and Woods and Q-Jeff all made their presences felt.

But, you can’t talk about this game without talking about the play of the day: Clowney’s one-handed interception-turned-touchdown. Just a tremendous athletic play! It got us out to a 10-0 lead and really set things up for us to step on their throats the rest of the game.

It wasn’t quite the offensive explosion I’ve been waiting for, but I also feel like we left points out on the field, and if we really needed to, we easily could’ve done whatever we wanted. This was a quintessential Get In & Get Out game for us. Lots of time-consuming drives, build up a comfortable cushion, and try to make it through without any more injuries. This was punctuated by our 15-play, 75-yard (technically 80, after a first down penalty pushed us back before it even started) touchdown drive that took over 8 minutes off the clock. The Cards had just pulled the game to 20-10; at that point in the game, the Seahawks had gotten the ball three times in the second half and punted on all three. Another one of those would’ve made this game VERY interesting when it had no need to be. That’s when the Seahawks just leaned on ’em and all that punishment we’d been hitting them with all day finally killed their wills to live. Carson was great all day, but he was particularly brutal on this drive, running over, around, and through the Cardinals’ defenders like they weren’t even there. It’s just a shame he didn’t get to enjoy the reward of scoring the touchdown.

When I say the Seahawks could’ve done whatever they wanted, I mean they had 21 first downs, 340 yards, and converted 4/10 third downs. They took relatively few chances, so no fourth down tries, and not really many (if any) deep balls thrown. I mean, if it weren’t for the Clowney touchdown, there wouldn’t be anything memorable about this game whatsoever. I thought Kyler Murray had a few good plays, but he’s young and has a pretty mediocre offensive line, so it’s gonna be hard at first. I do think that as he gets used to the NFL, he’ll turn into someone special, but he’s not there yet.

Before I go, I’d be remiss if I didn’t shout out Shaquill Griffin. He has REALLY stepped up his game this year. It didn’t look super promising in the pre-season, but he’s taken it up a few notches! He had a great recovery after getting turned around to force an incompletion, and he had one of the most athletic plays I’ve ever seen in leaping around Larry Fitzgerald to bat a ball down without making any illegal contact (or really ANY contact to the body); it’s just too bad the play didn’t count as someone else on the defense was called for a penalty. We haven’t seen the turnovers yet, but we’ve certainly witnessed opposing offenses stay away from his side, and that’s as Richard Shermanesque as you can get! Way to go!

Comparing The Seahawks’ 53-Man Roster To My June Predictions

Right around the time of OTAs, I did a meaningless projection of what the Seahawks’ roster would look like for opening day. So let’s check out how wrong I was!

Quarterbacks

Projection: Russell Wilson & Geno Smith
Result: Russell Wilson & Geno Smith

So, I got the easiest one out of the way. Where’s my cookie?

Running Backs

Projection: Chris Carson, Rashaad Penny, Travis Homer, C.J. Prosise & J.D. McKissic
Result: Chris Carson, Rashaad Penny, Travis Homer, C.J. Prosise & Nick Bellore

I was THIS close. To be fair, in my projections I did talk about Bellore possibly throwing a wrench into this fight, with either Prosise or McKissic being the odd man out, and you know what they say about horseshoes, hand grenades, and roster predicting, right?

Tight Ends

Projection: Ed Dickson, Nick Vannett, Will Dissly & Jacob Hollister
Result: Nick Vannett & Will Dissly

To be fair, Dickson is on IR (designated to return after 8 weeks) and Hollister somehow made it onto the practice squad, so I’m counting this as a victory. Of sorts. We also have George Fant, who I’ve listed as an O-Lineman for the purposes of this exercise.

Wide Receivers

Projection: Tyler Lockett, D.K. Metcalf, David Moore, Jaron Brown & Keenan Reynolds
Result: Tyler Lockett, D.K. Metcalf, David Moore, Jaron Brown, Gary Jennings, Malik Turner & John Ursua

I was almost WAY off on this one, but the Seahawks did a bit of roster gymnastics this week to slide a couple guys onto the IR, while opening up the likes of Geno Smith and Jaron Brown to free agency (with the wink-wink agreement to bring them back once those IR designations were placed). It turns out the Seahawks CAN keep all of their rookie draft picks! But, Malik Turner is the one who took Keenan Reynolds’ spot (though I fully anticipate Reynolds being in the mix at some point this season, if the injury bug returns). Regardless, I wouldn’t expect this unit to be 7-deep for too much longer, but it’s an interesting group nevertheless.

Offensive Line

Projection: Duane Brown, Mike Iupati, Justin Britt, D.J. Fluker, Germain Ifedi, Ethan Pocic, Jordan Simmons, George Fant & Jamarco Jones
Result: Duane Brown, Mike Iupati, Justin Britt, D.J. Fluker, Germain Ifedi, Ethan Pocic, George Fant, Jamarco Jones & Joey Hunt

This was actually a pretty obvious unit to predict, as the veterans are here to start, and the reserves are too good to part with. Simmons got hit by the injury bug and landed on the IR which is unfortunate, but Hunt can play both center and guard (and even tackle in a super pinch), so he’s good to have around (especially with Pocic being the first guard off the bench in place of Iupati heading into week 1).

So far, with the offense, I predicted 20 out of 25, which isn’t too bad.

Punter/Kicker/Long Snapper

Projection: Michael Dickson, Jason Myers & Tyler Ott
Result: Michael Dickson, Jason Myers & Tyler Ott

Nailed it.

Secondary

Projection: Shaquill Griffin, Tre Flowers, Akeem King, Neiko Thorpe, Jeremy Boykins, Tedric Thompson, Bradley McDougald, Ugo Amadi, Marquise Blair & Lano Hill
Result: Shaquill Griffin, Tre Flowers, Akeem King, Neiko Thorpe, Parry Nickerson, Tedric Thompson, Bradley McDougald, Ugo Amadi, Marquise Blair & Lano Hill

The one I was least sold on was Boykins, and lo and behold he turns out to be my lone blemish in this area. I should’ve probably mentioned something about the Seahawks making a minor trade near the start of the regular season – like they do just about every damn year around this time – but them’s the breaks.

Defensive Line

Projection: Ziggy Ansah, L.J. Collier, Rasheem Green, Jacob Martin, Jarran Reed, Poona Ford, Al Woods & Quinton Jefferson
Result: Ziggy Ansah, L.J. Collier, Rasheem Green, Jadeveon Clowney, Poona Ford, Al Woods, Quinton Jefferson, Bryan Mone & Branden Jackson

Welp, there was no way for me to see the Jarran Reed suspension coming. Ditto the trade for Clowney. I was probably always a little light on this position in general, so it’s not totally shocking to see Jackson in there, but he’s just a rotational guy who won’t see a lot of playing time, barring injuries. I never would’ve guessed Mone in a million years though.

Linebackers

Projection: Bobby Wagner, K.J. Wright, Cody Barton, Ben Burr-Kirven, Mychal Kendricks, Shaquem Griffen & Barkevious Mingo
Result: Bobby Wagner, K.J. Wright, Cody Barton, Ben Burr-Kirven, Mychal Kendricks & Shaquem Griffen

The main reason why I was so short on the D-Line was because I essentially had Mingo as a rush end for this team. But, as the pre-season wore on, it was becoming increasingly likely that he was going to be cut (if he wasn’t somehow dealt for the best defensive end on the trade block). There was also worry that Griffen wouldn’t make it, but his value on special teams is apparently too high to part with. Nevertheless, quite the solid group.

That’s 21 out of 25 predicted on defense (with Reed coming back after 6 weeks, and a few of my other picks landing on the IR) for a total of 45/53 on the team heading into week 1 (barring any other moves later this week). My biggest stroke of genius was leaving Austin Calitro off; he very nearly made it, but was waived in recent days and picked up by Jacksonville. So, good luck to him I guess.

The One Where I’m Predictably Stoked About The Seahawks Trading For Jadeveon Clowney

Welcome back to me! If you want to know what my 5-week road trip was like, I did a pretty good job blowing up my Instagram page with tons of photos. Now, back to sports.

The Seattle sports scene did a pretty good job of waiting until I got back this weekend before exploding with news. #1 with a bullet, of course, is the trade for Clowney. We’ve known about his being disgruntled with the franchise tag for some time now, and that there was always an outside chance that the Texans might move on from him if they found the right deal. I never expected that he’d have the kind of power he had in forcing a deal to a particular team, and I certainly never expected that the Seahawks would be on his short list of preferred destinations. At that point, we held pretty much all the cards, and it was up to the Texans to either bow to our whims, or let Clowney sit out there in another Le’Veon Bell situation.

For as much as people are killing the Texans in this whole thing, they at least made the decision to not let this be a distraction for their entire season. They made the choice to not extend him on a long-term deal, and you can disagree with that all you want, but such a deal obviously comes with some risks. I mean, we’re talking about a guy who missed almost his entire rookie year, and a few games the following year. Yes, he followed that up with three straight Pro Bowl campaigns, but honestly they were pretty quiet compared to what you’d expect from a #1 overall draft pick. He’s never had double-digit sacks; combine that with injury concerns, and I find it more reasonable for the Texans to want to move on than it was for the Seahawks to want to move on from a stud like Frank Clark, who’s always been healthy and HAS had double-digit sacks, twice.

Now, the obvious argument is that the Texans didn’t utilize him properly, that a 3-4 defense isn’t as suited to his particular set of skills (and that dropping him into coverage half the time isn’t the best way to maximize his pass rushing ability). I agree wholeheartedly, and I believe that if he stays healthy for the Seahawks this year, he WILL get double-digit sacks, and maybe into the mid-to-high teens! Let him JUST rush the passer, and bring him from all over the line of scrimmage on every down, and watch him absolutely destroy fools! This is my guarantee.

On top of it, we’re talking about a ridiculously low cost to the Seahawks. The 3rd round pick might be the most valuable part of what we gave away! Barkevious Mingo was going to be a cap cut one way or another. And, while we all liked Jacob Martin, he’s another guy who’s probably better suited to our defense than Houston’s. If they drop Martin into coverage half the time – like Clowney – I think they’ll find him pretty lacking. Whereas, if he stayed with the Seahawks and was just our LEO end exclusively in pass rushing situations, he’d probably find his sack totals would exceed whatever he’ll do in Houston. Tack on the fact that the Texans are essentially paying half of Clowney’s salary this year, and it’s honestly laughable that the NFL allowed this deal to pass through. This is the EPITOME of one of those deals you see other teams make, where we ask ourselves, “WHY COULDN’T OUR TEAM HAVE DONE THAT??? YOU’RE TELLING ME WE COULDN’T HAVE GIVEN UP MORE TO GET THIS STUD???”

But that’s just it. He wanted to come to Seattle (or Philly, who curiously didn’t ever seem to be in on this), because we’re a well-run organization where star players like Clowney can thrive. It’s weird to be able to say that, because it’s the polar opposite to how I feel about the Mariners.

Even with Ansah looking like he’ll be ready to go by Sunday, the pass rush was always going to be a disaster for this team. However, with Clowney in the fold, we’re ALMOST back to our glory days of 2013. I’d still like to see some of our depth take a step forward; either Collier or Green will need to turn into something somewhat productive by season’s end if we’re going to take this thing over the top. But now, it’s at least much less of a concern. Our secondary is a different matter, but let’s take this thing one step at a time.

Before this deal, you REALLY had to squint to see a path for the Seahawks to win the NFC West and contend for a Super Bowl. After this deal, the picture is becoming much clearer.

The 8th Most Important Seahawks Player After Russell Wilson: Rasheem Green

Here is the Home Page for this series of posts.

I’m going out on a limb here, considering you probably have a good idea of where I’m gonna go with my top 7, if you give it just a tiny bit of thought. There were a lot of ways I could’ve taken this one, but ultimately too many of the players are akin to lottery picks. If this rookie blows up, then of course he enters into the discussion. Or, if that fringe roster guy lives up to his potential, then here we go!

As I noted when I wrote about Jacob Martin, this team is on the hunt for the player (or more likely, players) who will replace Frank Clark. Martin belongs on this list because he’s headed into his second season, and at three sacks in limited snaps, he showed solid promise for a rookie 6th round pick.

To contrast, Rasheem Green was unquestionably a disappointment as a rookie 3rd round pick (the second player we took in the draft, after another disappointment in Rashaad Penny). He played in only 10 games, recording just a single sack (one that I had completely forgotten about, against the Packers on Thursday Night), and overall not making much of an impact whatsoever. At no point did he appear to see his playing time increase, or make any strides at all in his development. So, why do I have him on this list at all?

Well, for starters, I know he’s going to be here. Barring injury, he’ll be part of the D-Line rotation, and with Clark gone (and others with question marks about their availability) there will be plenty of opportunity for him to show what he can do. There’s no better substitute for developing as a player than actual game reps, and this year he should have his fair share.

Also, I’m not gonna lie, that 3rd round status (#79 overall) really has my interest piqued. If you get drafted in the top three rounds, either you’re ready to play right away, or you’re a promising-enough development prospect to be given plenty of chances to succeed. From the moment he was selected (“way-too-early” per most pundits, naturally), Green was deemed to be more of a project. He left USC after his Junior year. He JUST turned 22 years old a couple months ago. I mean, you could argue he hadn’t even continued growing into his adult body! He certainly hadn’t developed into his ideal NFL body. Just getting through his rookie season alive, while getting a small slice of playing time in the process, is probably all we should’ve expected. Now that he’s had his rookie year and knows what it takes to be a professional – combined with the opportunity presented by the Seahawks’ roster construction – I fully expect a jump in his level of production.

His floor should be as a rotational player – sliding inside & outside – with a small handful of sacks. His ceiling is pretty tough to project, because if everything breaks right and he’s as good as everyone in the organization thought he could be when they reached for picked him, we could be talking about The Next Frank Clark. Maybe the power won’t necessarily be there in Year 2, but his ability to play anywhere on the line and being effective both against the run and pass, could bring shades of Early Frank Clark.

Jacob Martin is just a speed guy on the edge. Rasheem Green – if he pans out – could be so much more. That’s why he’s so important to the Seahawks in 2019.

As I’ve said before, the Seahawks have no guarantees heading into the season with regards to their pass rush. So, instead, they’re throwing as many promising young players into the mix as possible, just hoping that one or two of them hit it big.

Also, not for nothing, but Rasheem Green was a BEAST in the pre-season last year. 7 tackles, 1.5 sacks, and 3 QB hits against Indy; 6 tackles, 1.5 sacks, and 4 QB hits against the Chargers. I know, I know, pre-season success is NO precursor to regular season production, but it’s better than nothing. He at least showed up against the backups on a couple of playoff teams, and that’s as a 21 year old who some said could’ve been a high first round pick this year had he returned for his Senior year of college.