Trying To Predict A 2020 Seahawks Roster

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

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

Quarterback

  • Russell Wilson
  • Geno Smith
  • Anthony Gordon

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

Running Back

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

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

Wide Receiver & Tight End

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

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

Offensive Line

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

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

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

Cornerback & Safety

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

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

Defensive Line

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

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

Linebacker

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

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

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

Why Can’t The Seahawks’ Pass Rush Be Improved Without Clowney?

I’ve been on here pretty regularly lamenting the state of the Seahawks’ pass rush as we head into the 2020 season. I’ve also been hoping that the Seahawks could find a way to bring Jadeveon Clowney back under the salary cap, at a reasonable number (either in a 1-year or preferably a multi-year deal) that accounts for the injury risk he’s pretty clearly proven to be throughout his career, dating to his college days.

Look, we all know he’s one of the most talented defensive linemen alive, of that there’s no debate. And while the number of missed games isn’t TOO alarming – particularly after his rookie season that was cut short to only four games – in his professional career he’s only made it through a full 16-game season one time. And, I would argue – based on the fact he’s never had a double-digit sack campaign – that his effectiveness is DRASTICALLY reduced when he’s forced to play through injuries. While it remains to be seen – and likely could never be proven – in general one would assume a player on his rookie deal is most likely to try to play through injuries (as opposed to someone on his second or third deal), to show his value and better earn that mega-second contract. You can damn me all you want for putting as much emphasis in the sack statistic – as opposed to more advanced metrics that show the overall value of a pass rusher’s productivity (QB hurries and hits and whatnot) – when you think of the game’s best pass rushers, you always think of guys with lots and lots of sacks. That’s just the way it is. So, if I’m granting you the fact that Clowney is one of the best defensive linemen in the game of football – and the mark of a great defensive lineman is how well he performs in passing situations (since, by and large, passing is the most effective way to move the ball down the field for opposing offenses) – then it would stand to reason that nagging injuries (that he has, for the most part, played through; credit where it’s due) have severely limited him. A mostly-healthy Clowney through his career would have – CONSERVATIVELY – at least twice as many career sacks as he has now (32 over six seasons).

Ergo, the injury risk is real, NFL teams believe this pretty much across the board, and any team that signs him to a multi-year deal is invariably going to have to account for this at one time or another through the duration of the guaranteed portion of his contract (if not moreso, because again – I would assume – guys on a second contract are probably not as likely to want to play through injury). If that were false, then he would’ve been signed by now, because as I said, he’s one of the best in the game today.

So, it doesn’t make sense – and really, it NEVER made sense – for the Seahawks to commit max money to keep him around. It would be NICE to have him around, but clearly that doesn’t appear to be our inevitability. Seahawks fans have come to understand this and are lamenting it accordingly. The rationale being: if we had one of the least-effective pass rushing units in the entire league in 2019 WITH Clowney, how much worse is it going to get WITHOUT him?

To which I ask: why does it have to be worse?

What we have to do is take a look at the whole pass rushing stew the Seahawks have to offer as compared to what we had in 2019. It’s idiotic to simply point to Bruce Irvin & Benson Mayowa vs. Clowney and call it a day. I don’t know if either of them are necessarily playing the same particular position that Clowney played, so it’s apples and oranges anyway.

Let’s start with Quinton Jefferson, who a laughably-large portion of Seahawks fans are listing as one of our key defectors. He was OKAY, but some fans talk about him like we just lost Michael Bennett in his prime or something! Quite frankly, he’s not a starting defensive end in this league, but he was playing a starter’s portion of snaps last year out of necessity. They’re criticizing the team for keeping Branden Jackson when BASICALLY they’re both the same player, only Jackson is significantly cheaper (he’s also not necessarily guaranteed a spot on this roster, so maybe calm down a little bit). I’m as down on L.J. Collier as anyone around these parts, but if he can stay healthy through Training Camp and the pre-season, I don’t see why he couldn’t give you everything we had from Jefferson this very minute; with, I might add, a considerable upside to be significantly better (and conditions don’t even have to be perfect for this to be true).

Next, let’s look at Mychal Kendricks, our former strong-side linebacker. He had a 2-sack game in Arizona in September last year and I think we all got a little too excited; he ended up with one more sack the rest of the way. Bruce Irvin is his direct replacement and I have to believe that’s an upgrade for a number of reasons. For starters, I don’t think the Seahawks will be in as much Base Defense as last year (again, out of necessity). Our nickel corner spot should be vastly improved, meaning we won’t need Irvin to play out in coverage nearly as much. I would expect him to be, effectively, a fifth pass rusher on a lot of downs (at least, a lot more than Kendricks ever was).

It’s unfair to consider Mayowa as Clowney’s de facto replacement – though their measurables match up fairly well, sizewise – as Clowney obviously does a lot more than the Seahawks would ask of Mayowa. They’re not going to ask Mayowa to play along the interior of the line, for instance, which Clowney was more than capable of doing at times. I would argue that less-is-more with Mayowa, so limiting him strictly to obvious pass rushing situations is likely to keep him fresh and more effective than he would be if he played every down like Clowney. As such, it wouldn’t surprise me to see Mayowa with more sacks in 2020 than Clowney (he had four more than Clowney in 2019, while playing in only two more games).

As a quick interlude, I would be remiss if I didn’t talk about the BIGGEST “addition by subraction” candidate, which would be Ziggy Ansah. Given our cap situation last year, the Seahawks had a lot of eggs in the Ansah basket on his 1-year prove-it deal, and all he managed to prove was that he’s finished as a viable NFL player. Giving his number of snaps to ANYONE who isn’t a corpse is bound to be a vast improvement, and indeed probably the single biggest upgrade on the entire roster from 2019 to 2020!

Moving inside, I will be VERY interested in what the defensive tackles bring to the table in 2020. One of the strangest contracts in recent memory is Jarran Reed’s 2-year, $23 million deal. The Seahawks appeared to get very little savings on a short-term basis (for a player who was suspended for six games in 2019 for a domestic violence charge), nor any savings under a longer-term contract (with it being only two years). Were the Seahawks swindled worse than when they dealt for Percy Harvin and gave him all that loot? Or is this a “crazy like a fox” situation? I’m probably focused on motivation more than I should be, but here we have a player heading into his age-27 season, who was drafted by the Seahawks and knows our scheme well, and who already has a double-digit sack season under his belt. You can argue there’s a risk of him landing in more hot water, but I doubt it (and, if he does get in trouble again, it’s not a prohibitive cost to cut him after 2020). I believe very strongly that him missing so many games last year set him back in a way that he’d never recover from. It’s essentially like having your pre-season taken away from you, then being thrown to the wolves mid-stream; that’ll hamper anyone, even a 4-year vet. At that point, either you believe his 2018 season was a fluke, or it’s more in line with who he is as a player. If the latter is true, then the Seahawks could be VERY happy the next two years. Getting back to motivation, he’ll be heading into his age-29 season as a free agent. If he kills it these next two years, then he’ll have set himself up for a mega-deal, so he has every reason to try his very best.

In keeping with our defensive tackles, Poona Ford is heading into his third year as a pro. You might poo-poo him as a pass-rushing threat, with just half a sack to his name; but Jarran Reed was a MUCH higher-rated lineman coming out of college, and he only had three combined sacks in his first two years before blowing up (and he played MANY more snaps in his first two seasons by comparison). Could we see a similar spike from Poona? Maybe not double digits, but in the 5-6 sack range? And, speaking of third-year pros, we haven’t even mentioned the Seahawks’ sack-leader in 2019, Rasheem Green. I know four sacks is nothing to write home about, but Green is also only 23 years old. If ANYONE is poised to make a big jump, it’s Green. I would argue this season largely hinges on him and Collier, but mostly Green. Figure he’ll play a lot of defensive end in base, then slide inside to rush the passer on third downs; I, for one, am excited to see what he can do, and if he can put it all together. He won’t be what Clowney can be at full health, but even if he’s 75% Clowney, that’s still better than most of what we had going for us last year!

Then, that brings us to our two wild cards: rookie Darrell Taylor, and likely bubble candidate Shaquem Griffin. We traded up (at a hefty cost, I might add) to select Taylor in the second round, which means he figures to get a considerable look at earning some playing time as a rookie. I’ll never put much confidence in a rookie, but it’s okay to hope a LITTLE bit. The Seahawks seem to know what they’re doing when they go to the trouble of trading up in the draft to get someone. My (safe) hunch is, Taylor will be a better pro in future seasons, but it’s not outside the realm of possibility for him to bring something worthwhile to the table as a rookie. As for Griffin, he had his first career sack as a pro in the playoffs against Green Bay in the fourth quarter (that very nearly helped us come back and win that game). It took us a while, but we finally got him in on some sub-packages late in 2019, and he figures to have a similar role as we head into 2020. If he balls out in the pre-season and earns a job on the roster, I think it’s safe to assume he’ll be moderately effective in his third year as a pro. Every little bit helps!

And this doesn’t even get into the likelihood that the Seahawks will go out and sign another free agent or two. None of them will be Clowney, but taken as a whole, I don’t see why this pass rushing unit can’t improve over 2019! For starters, that seems like a low bar to clear. Secondly, it won’t be on any one man’s shoulders. That means a lot of guys will have to step up – to either have career years, or perpetuate their recent career years – but I think that’s a healthier way to go about it, over trying to find some savior to come in and grace your team with his dominance.

The real question is: can this pass-rushing unit be even middle-of-the-road? It’s one thing to go from 29th in the league to 25th; but can the Seahawks get into the teens? That might make all the difference in the world! With a solid linebacking unit, and what appears to be a vastly improved secondary, that could be the difference between the Seahawks eking in as a Wild Card team vs. winning the NFC West or – lord help us – snatching the NFC’s #1 seed.

How Many Starters Have The Seahawks Drafted In The Previous Ten Years?

On the Brock & Salk podcast this week, they were talking to Daniel Jeremiah who made an interesting point about the NFL Draft. He said that every team’s goal should be to select three starters in every draft, ideally with one of those players being true blue chippers. You can define “starter” and “blue chipper” in any number of ways; I think as you’ll see, I’m pretty generous.

For example, I would count Nickel Corner among the “starters” because they play such a high percentage of snaps (usually). I would also count #2 tight ends, because the Seahawks value that position so highly (I would not, however, count #2 running backs, oddly enough; so you won’t see Robert Turbin on here). I’m also not counting players the Seahawks drafted who would go on to have more successful careers elsewhere (so, no Mark Glowinski or Spencer Ware among my picks); if they weren’t starters for the Seahawks, then I’m not interested. I don’t care about “hit rate” unless it applies to the team I love.

The discussion, of course, centers around how GREAT the Seahawks were at drafting from 2010-2012, contrasted with how TERRIBLE they’ve been from 2013 onward. So, without further ado, let’s a-DO this!

2010-2012: The Good Years

2010

  • Russell Okung (LT)
  • Earl Thomas (FS)
  • Golden Tate (WR)
  • Walter Thurmond (CB)
  • Kam Chancellor (SS)

2011

  • James Carpenter (LG)
  • K.J. Wright (LB)
  • Richard Sherman (CB)
  • Byron Maxwell (CB)
  • Malcolm Smith (LB)

2012

  • Bruce Irvin (DE/LB)
  • Bobby Wagner (LB)
  • Russell Wilson (QB)
  • Jeremy Lane (CB)
  • J.R. Sweezy (RG)

What a murderer’s row! That’s not even factoring in such quality starters/blue chippers as undrafted free agents Doug Baldwin, DeShawn Shead, and Jermaine Kearse! You can see why this team went to back-to-back Super Bowls; those are three drafts that produced 15 starters, with 8 of them being real blue chippers (Okung, Earl, Tate, Kam, K.J., Sherm, BWagz, and Russ) on top of, again, blue chipper Doug and two more starting-calibre players.

Now, you can nitpick, of course. Malcolm Smith might be the biggest stretch, but in base defense as a strongside linebacker he made some impact plays (and, of course, was MVP of the Super Bowl, so give me a break!). Lane and Thurmond were both nickel corners. And, some of these guys took a couple years before they developed into starters. Nevertheless, all of these guys made significant impacts on the Seahawks’ success for our glory years.

2013-2016: The Bad Years

2013

  • Luke Willson (TE)

2014

  • Justin Britt (C)

2015

  • Frank Clark (DE)
  • Tyler Lockett (WR)

2016

  • Germain Ifedi (RT)
  • Jarran Reed (DT)

That’s truly NOT GREAT! Frank Clark is arguably the best player on this list, and he’s not even on the team anymore because we didn’t see him as worthy of a contract at the top of the market. Lockett is probably the guy who panned out the best for us, given that we were able to extend him to a reasonable second contract (that he continues to out-play every time he steps on the field). Luke Willson is a HUGE stretch, because he’s only been a de facto #1 tight end when the guys ahead of him got injured; otherwise he’s at-best a #2. Britt and Ifedi you could argue were overpaid busts. Reed is still around, but obviously wasn’t able to capitalize on his one great year due to being suspended for domestic violence.

2017-2019: The We’ll See Years

2017

  • Shaquill Griffin (CB)
  • Chris Carson (RB)

2018

  • Will Dissly (TE)
  • Tre Flowers (CB)
  • Michael Dickson (P)

2019

  • D.K. Metcalf

Before we talk about these guys, I have one holdover from the 2016 draft – Joey Hunt – who became a starter for a large chunk of the 2019 season, but I’m hesitant to want to elevate him on my list unless he wins the center job out of camp in 2020. That might make the 2016 draft look marginally better, but still I don’t know if anyone expects Hunt to be here long-term.

Anyway, it’s pretty early to make definitive proclamations about the 2017-2019 drafts, but it’s encouraging that I’ve listed the same number of players here that I did for the FOUR drafts preceeding them. Griffin and Dickson have already made Pro Bowls (though, Dickson almost feels like cheating since he’s a punter). Dissly looks as good as any tight end in football when he’s healthy, as does Carson among running backs. And, D.K. really broke out as a rookie last year, looking like a stud for many years to come.

You can probably close the book on the rest of the 2017 draft; none of the guys I left off look like they’ll be anything of note for the Seahawks. There’s marginal hope for a couple others from 2018. Rasheem Green has the highest upside, and figures to get a lot of playing time this year along the defensive line. He’s sort of a default starter for the Seahawks; we’ll see if he’s able to do anything with the opportunity. Tre Flowers – while it looks like he’ll lose his starting job to newcomer Quinton Dunbar (assuming he’s formally acquitted of robbery charges, AND isn’t suspended by the team/league) – still figures to be well involved in the defense. Also, if he can stay healthy and play well, Jamarco Jones has a higher ceiling than we might’ve originally expected.

As for 2019, there are a lot of hopefuls. L.J. Collier will get a long look this season. Marquise Blair hopes to win one of the starting safety jobs (and could also figure in the Big Nickel package, against the more difficult tight ends on our schedule). Cody Barton could eventually start at one of the outside linebacker spots if he plays his cards right (looking less likely, of course, with who the Seahawks drafted last month). Phil Haynes might win a starting spot on the offensive line in his second season. And, with a VERY outside chance, who knows? Maybe John Ursua takes over as this offense’s primary slot receiver!

As for the 2020 draft, all we can do is speculate. Jordyn Brooks figures to be a starter one day soon. Damien Lewis might be a starter from day one. And, everyone hopes Darrell Taylor gets a lot of play early at defensive end. Also, Colby Parkinson will have every opportunity to be this team’s #2 tight end as early as 2021.

So, it’s been a real rollercoaster over the last decade! Here’s hoping things are finally trending back in the right direction over the last 3-4 drafts. The one thing that worries me is the lack of blue chippers since 2013. From The Bad Years, I count only two from those four drafts (Clark & Lockett). From The We’ll See Years … again, we’ll see. D.K. seems like the safest bet. Griffin, I guess, you have to put in there (though, compared to blue chippers of seasons past, he doesn’t quite live up). Dickson, again, feels like cheating, but okay he counts. Carson and Dissly are definite blue chippers when healthy, but they both feel like incompletes.

The argument from 2013-2016 was that the Seahawks had so many great players from the previous three years that it was exceedingly difficult for younger guys to break through. That has, decidedly, not been as much of a problem over the last three seasons, particularly on defense where it’s been trending downward for half a decade. 2020 will be VERY interesting, because I don’t see too many sacred cows on this roster (again, particularly on defense). What I think is interesting is that the Seahawks don’t seem to be NEARLY as concerned with the defensive line as the fans are, which leads me to wonder what they know that we don’t. We have lots of stats and anecdotal information at our disposal, but they’re obviously embedded with these players fairly intimately. They get to see what these guys are capable of in practice, as well as talk to them and get into their heads.

Long story short: the team almost always knows more than the fans and “experts” do. So, maybe they’ll be right. Maybe we don’t need someone like Clowney because guys like Green, Collier, and Taylor will take huge steps forward! I remember fans being similarly up in arms in the early years of this regime, when a lot of the younger guys in the secondary won their jobs over established veterans. We were freaking out, but the Legion Of Boom proved us all to be pretty foolish. I hope we’re in for something like that again!

Seahawks 2020 Draft Needs: Defense

Check it out, I wrote about the offense yesterday!

I really don’t care what the Seahawks do on the offensive side of the ball, if I’m being honest. For the purposes of competing in 2020, I think we’re set. If I had my druthers, the Seahawks would devote every single draft pick to the defense, because that’s where they’re most deficient; but I live in the world. I know they’re not going to do that, because that would be idiotic. There’s a reason why I’m not an NFL general manager, and it’s thinking like this that continues to hold me back! Certainly not my lack of experience or connections or scouting know-how or temperament or lack of people skills or drive or ability to dress myself properly or poor math skills or …

The thing is, while I know it’ll probably be split pretty close to even when it comes to filling holes on offense and defense, as long as they avoid the offensive line, I don’t think there’s anything they can really do wrong when it comes to drafting for offense (other than taking a running back in the first three rounds). They SHOULD be able to hit on any wide receiver or tight end they land on, because they have Russell Wilson at quarterback. He’s the cure for what ails pretty much everything on this team. The only way they “miss” is if they draft someone who’s injury prone, but that’s not so much the organization’s fault as it is bad luck.

The impetus, however, for what’s going to happen this week – what’s going to make-or-break the next few years – is if we hit or miss on a key defender, particularly defensive end. We NEED to hit on this position, more than we need to hit on anything else; more than we’ve needed to hit on anything in YEARS.

The Seahawks have a pretty pisspoor track record when it comes to defensive linemen in the draft. L.J. Collier is the most recent example, Malik McDowell is the most GLARING example, but then there’s Rasheem Green’s underwhelming first two seasons, Naz Jones’ even more underwhelming first three seasons, Jarran Reed’s one good season, Quinton Jefferson’s career as a backup, Cassius Marsh’s good Special Teams career, and all the other guys nobody remembers (of which there are plenty in the Carroll/Schneider era).

On the good side of the ledger, we have Bruce Irvin (probably a reach at #15 overall), and Frank Clark (who we didn’t deem worthy of a $20+ million-per-year contract, so we traded him to the Chiefs). That’s it. How great has it been, Pete Campbell?

Well, my name’s not Bob, but I appreciate your candor.

I know it’s pretty pointless to try and expect a rookie to impress right out of the box – especially in a year like this, when we don’t even know if there’s going to be a Training Camp or anything else – but we can’t fuck around here. If I see the letters TCU after the guy’s name that we draft, I’m going to blow a gasket. I want a legitimate pass rushing threat (from a good fucking school) – like one of the umpteen guys we’ve passed on throughout the years – and not one of these “tweeners” who can play D-tackle or 5-technique end. Give me a fucking guy who can line up outside and get to the fucking quarterback already! Use all your picks to make it happen if you have to!

Beyond that, it’s probably wise to expect another mid-round defensive tackle. I’m hearing chatter about linebacker again – even though we drafted two guys last year – but it would make sense a little bit, as this is (almost certainly) K.J. Wright’s last year with the team, and Bruce Irvin is only on a one-year deal himself. And, who knows, probably expect another late-round DB to sit behind our starters and learn the system.

But, again, I don’t care about any of that. Give me a fucking defensive end we can all count on, or don’t bother coming home at all!

Where Will L.J. Collier Rank Among All-Time Seahawks First Round Draft Busts?

If this sounds like I’m giving up on L.J. Collier … I kind of am.

The Seahawks, as you well know, don’t tend to pick in the first round of drafts very often under Pete Carroll and John Schneider. Since 2010, they’ve made exactly seven first round picks in six NFL drafts, and after that first year, it’s a real Who’s Who of Utter Crap.

That’s not totally fair, but I’d say “underwhelming” is the general theme once you go past Russell Okung and Earl Thomas:

  • 2011 – James Carpenter (OL)
  • 2012 – Bruce Irvin (LB/DE)
  • 2016 – Germain Ifedi (OL)
  • 2018 – Rashaad Penny (RB)
  • 2019 – L.J. Collier (DE)

Woof. Bruce Irvin is clearly the best of THAT pitiful bunch, but even he hasn’t lived up to what you might expect from a pass rusher taken with the 15th overall pick.

There aren’t enough bad things to say about everyone else. James Carpenter was supposed to be a right tackle, but he struggled, had to move inside to guard, still struggled (though not as much), and ended up leaving after his rookie deal expired. Germain Ifedi was ALSO supposed to be a right tackle, but he too struggled, moved inside briefly before returning to tackle, and made moderate improvement (but, based on his overall body of work, it has since been determined that not only is he not worth a high-money contract, but he’s also not good enough to remain on the outside of the line) before leaving after his rookie deal expired. And, just the fact that the Seahawks took a running back AT ALL in the first round is enough for most fans to write off Rashaad Penny, though I would argue he has looked pretty good when healthy and in shape.

But, there’s no legitimate defense whatsoever for Collier. There are EXCUSES, sure. He sprained his ankle as a rookie and missed all of Training Camp last year. That set him back for the entire season, as he never fully got acclimated to the defense. Pro Football Reference has him at 152 snaps on the season; by comparison, Bobby Wagner led the entire defense with 1,054 snaps, and Jadeveon Clowney led the D-Line with 605 (and he missed three games).

I don’t care that Collier was such a low first round pick, he’s a first rounder and it’s inexcusable that he either wasn’t prepared enough or just plain wasn’t good enough to see the field more. This is on a defense, mind you, that was as bad as it gets in its pass rush. The sack leader on the 2019 Seahawks was Rasheem Green with 4.0. I mean, I don’t know what more to tell you; Collier was a first rounder and he couldn’t crack THAT rotation?! What a joke!

A lot of people want to write off his rookie campaign and believe he’ll be better in 2020. Well, he’d almost HAVE to be, right? How could you be any worse than that? Collier had three tackles and that’s it; that’s the entirety of his stat line. But, I can’t say I have any reasonable expectations of improvement. If you’re effectively healthy for the majority of the regular season – even as a rookie, even if you missed all of Training Camp – as a first round draft pick, there should be enough God-given ability for you to do LITERALLY ANYTHING.

Any hopes that Collier is going to be a future Pro Bowler or even a quality starter should probably be thrown out the window at this point. Obviously, I hope I’m wrong here, but I don’t think I am. The only reason this came to mind at all is because of what’s going on with this coronavirus ordeal. Collier’s struggles last year are largely attributed to his missing Training Camp; you know what he’s likely to also miss in 2020? Training Camp! EVERYONE is likely to miss Training Camp because we probably won’t be in any sort of condition as a country to allow for Training Camp, or any other large gatherings of people. Call it bad luck all you want – indeed, it’s quite unfortunate – but that doesn’t change the fact that Collier is likely to head into Season Two just as behind the 8-ball as he was in Season One.

So, in case you think I haven’t laid out a good-enough case for why Collier has really legitimate potential to be the worst first round draft pick of the Carroll/Schneider era, let me summarize:

  • Russell Okung – Great
  • Earl Thomas – Hall of Famer
  • James Carpenter – Competent Guard, mostly with the Jets
  • Bruce Irvin – Good
  • Germain Ifedi – Semi-Competent Tackle
  • Rashaad Penny – Okay
  • L.J. Collier – Probably Terrible

With that out of the way, how does my vision for Collier potentially rank among the all-time Seahawks first round draft busts? I won’t go through every single guy, but let’s talk about the worst of the worst (that I have at least limited knowledge about).

Aaron Curry and Lawrence Jackson always come immediately to mind when Seahawks fans talk about first round busts, but I would argue both of those guys are at least more competent than you remember. Lo-Jack had 19.5 sacks in his career! Is there any indication whatsoever that Collier could reach that level? Curry’s main problem is that he was – for some reason – taken with the fourth overall pick, so high expectations really tarnish his reputation in this scenario.

I’ll gloss over a lot of players before those guys, until we get to Chris McIntosh and Lamar King. King was famously Mike Holmgren’s first-ever pick as General Manager of the Seahawks when he came over from Green Bay. He was killed then, and continues to be killed now for taking King, but … 12.0 sacks in 57 games. Obviously not great, or even good, but not the absolute worst either. McIntosh, on the other hand, might give Collier a run for his money. He was taken 22nd overall and only played in 24 games across two seasons on the O-line before flaming out of the league.

Dan McGwire will always be on my shit list – through no fault of his own, really – for being the guy we selected ahead of Brett Favre in 1991. First-ever Seahawks draft pick – Steve Niehaus – also deserves recognition, for only making it into 39 games in his 4-year career (thee with the Seahawks) and accumulating exactly zero sacks (hard to say if they were counting that stat back then, but clearly he didn’t make much of an impact as the second-overall selection in 1976).

And, if you want to count Supplemental Draft first rounders, you’ve gotta throw The Boz in there, as well as someone named Gordon Hudson (who was a tight end taken in 1984, who only played one season, in 1986, but at least he caught 13 balls for 131 yards and a TD).

I’m throwing Collier into the Top 3 Worst Seahawks First Round Draft Picks with Dan McGwire and Chris McIntosh. Obviously, we’re only one season in, so he can EASILY get his name off of this list with just a minimal amount of production. But, you know what? Consider the challenge thrown down! Let’s turn this career around!

The Seahawks Signed Benson Mayowa

We can’t wait around forever for Clowney to make up his G.D. mind! The Seahawks have places to go, people to see, and motherfuckin’ ASSES to kick!

You know, assuming we’re ever allowed to kick asses again (thanks Obama corona).

Benson Mayowa was signed to a 1-year, $3 million deal (with incentives possibly taking it up another mil). You might remember him as the last man on the defensive line depth chart in 2013, when he played in just 2 games and generated all of 2 tackles. He’s bounced around from Oakland to Dallas to Arizona and back to Oakland again in his career, playing mostly part-time roles in pass rushing situations.

He’s not, what you would call, a particularly sexy signing (you get what you pay for, of course), but HONESTLY? I mean, he had 7.0 sacks last year in 302 total snaps for the Raiders; by comparison, Bruce Irvin had 8.5 sacks in 608 total snaps. So, you know, do the math (please do the math, I was an English major; my brain isn’t equipped to handle such complex equations).

This is a depth piece.

We hope.

PLEASE GOD LET THIS BE A DEPTH PIECE AS OPPOSED TO THE WHOLE FUCKING ENCHILADA!

No, it’s fine. We’re all fine. He’ll be good.

Real talk though, as it stands, our starting four (if the season started this morning) would be Irvin, Jarran Reed, Poona Ford, and Mayowa. If that sounds UNDERWHELMING AF, then I warn you: don’t look at the depth chart behind those guys.

Are you ready? Don’t say I didn’t warn you:

  • Rasheem Green (5 sacks in 2 years)
  • Branden Jackson (3.5 sacks in 4 years)
  • L.J. Collier (0.0 sacks in 1 year)
  • Bryan Mone (0.0 sacks in 1 year)

I dunno, there might be more under futures contracts or whatever, but you get the idea.

I read in the Seattle Times this morning that there are reports the Seahawks are offering somewhere in the $13-$15 million per year range to Clowney, who has since lowered his asking price (from over $20 million per year) to the $17-$18 million range. He previously stated that he wanted to play for a contender, but it looks like only the shitbird teams are interested in paying him what he’s looking for.

I like that the Seahawks are sticking to their guns here. He’s got an injury history, and while he can certainly be disruptive – even world-wrecking at times – he just doesn’t have the sack numbers to make it enticing for teams to want to re-set the defensive end market with him. He’s not Khalil Mack. He’s not Von Miller. He’s not Aaron Donald. He’s GOOD, don’t get me wrong; he would easily be the best defensive lineman on the Seahawks by a million miles! But, there is simply too much risk in guaranteeing him an insane amount of money, when I’ve kinda sorta been saying all along that I think we can get similar production from a collection of 2-3 mid-tier guys for the same amount of money.

And, that’s the whole point of the Mayowa signing. It’s in Clowney’s best interests to wait out this market – wait out this virus – and hopefully show out for interested teams in a tryout of sorts. But, that is in direct conflict with the Seahawks’ needs. We can’t wait for him to ultimately settle for whatever deal comes in at the last minute; we need to fill in this roster around him. Waiting for him to maximize his value will only serve in the rest of the league taking all of the other next-best options off the table.

At this point, I say just get Everson Griffen signed, maybe another mid-tier guy, and call it a day until the draft. If Clowney wants to play ball for a winner, he knows where to find us.

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.