The First Round of the NFL Draft Happened Yesterday

You’ll notice how little of it applied to the Seattle Seahawks.  Quick Reminder:  Jimmy Graham.

The real story of yesterday ended up being the three players picked from the University of Washington.  Danny Shelton kicked it off for us, going 12th to the Cleveland Browns.  He was the first interior defensive lineman taken and projects to be a BEAST.  If he tops out at a Sam Adams level, I think the Browns would be ecstatic.

Next up, at 18, the Kansas City Chiefs took Marcus Peters.  This almost feels like cheating, considering the Huskies kicked him off the team and everything.  Is he REALLY a Husky, or is he more accurately an ex-Husky who finished his college career as an unemployed independent contractor?  I mean, for better or for worse, when they list the college for Russell Wilson, they’re not listing NC State, even though he spent the bulk of his time there.  Anyway, Peters was the third corner taken, but arguably has the highest grade based on talent alone.  Obviously, getting kicked off the team – and the reasons therein – didn’t help matters.  But, landing in the Top 20 is pretty damn good all things considered.

Finally, probably the biggest surprise of the first round (aside from the general lack of trading that went down) had Carolina taking Shaq Thompson at 25.  Seems a little high to take a weakside linebacker – and a LOT high to take someone who arguably doesn’t have a set position whatsoever – but with his raw talent, you gotta figure a smart organization will plug him in and sort of re-work the defense around him to utilize his talents to their fullest.  Admittedly, I’m not super high on Thompson’s pro potential – at least, compared to the Huskies who went before him – but the kid’s got gifts.  At the very least, you know you’re getting a special teams dynamo (which, obviously, isn’t something you draft for in the first round, but at least you’ll know you’re not getting a total all-around bust either).

The University of Washington had the most players selected on Day 1 of any school in the nation.  I suppose that speaks more to Sark’s abilities as a recruiter, but it still looks good for the program in general.  The Huskies also went a long way towards the Pac-12 dominance we saw, as our conference tied the ACC with 9 picks each (ahead of the SEC’s 7, for what it’s worth).  The Pac-12 for football isn’t NEARLY as disrespected as the Pac-12 is for men’s basketball, but you can’t help feeling somewhat ignored by the national media when it comes to bowl season.  Not for nothing, but you have to wonder how the Pac-12 would fare if Oregon was just another mediocre program (still doesn’t mean I’d ever root for them under any circumstances – up to and including an Oregon victory preventing the end of the world – but it’s interesting to think about).

From a Seahawks perspective, it’s nice seeing 4 of the top 6 draft picks going to AFC teams.  Those players, you figure, are the cream of the crop, so it’s nice keeping them out of our hair for the most part.

The Rams took Todd Gurley, so prepare for dozens upon dozens of Hans & Franz “Gurley Man” references.  He’s an elite – top 5 level – running back talent if he ever returns to 100% following his injury.  Or, he’s a Reggie Bush type who will flash greatness in between bouts in the training room.  He doesn’t really scare me too much considering the Rams apparently have a God-awful offensive line.  Nick Foles makes the Rams much more interesting, but again, you have to wonder how good he’s going to be with that line and his team’s overall lack of weapons to throw to.  I don’t know if that pick moves the needle too much from their 8-8 baseline.

The 49ers traded back and took a defensive end out of Oregon.  That franchise is a mess right now, so don’t be shocked if this guy flames out hard.

The Cardinals took an offensive lineman which is absolutely the right thing for them to do.  It’s not like they’re going to find their quarterback of the future with the 24th pick, so you might as well do everything in your power to keep what quarterbacks you do have healthy and upright.  I don’t like living in this world where Arizona knows what it’s doing on draft day, combined with some whip-smart coaching that’s able to turn moderately-talented individuals into NFL studs.  Let’s hope more misfortune befalls this organization, for all of our sakes.

The Seahawks don’t pick until the 31st pick of the second round later today.  Rumors abound of the Seahawks trading up (as we have approximately a million picks in the 4th, 5th, and 6th rounds), so I guess we’ll see.  Could be a long, boring few hours, as the Seahawks technically only have two picks today before their nine picks tomorrow.

The Seahawks Blew All Of Our Minds; Traded Max Unger For Jimmy Graham*

* – plus gave up a 1st round draft pick for a 4th round draft pick

Not gonna lie to you, it was going to take a lot for me to be interested in these offseason moves the Seahawks were making.  Anthony McCoy re-signed?  Will Blackmon brought back?  Cary Williams as our Byron Maxwell replacement?  Marshawn Lynch extended?  Yeah, that’s all fine, but it’s not moving the needle of my own personal interest.

I thought FOR SURE there wouldn’t be any big splashes this offseason.  You know, aside from extending our own guys (Lynch, Wagner, Wilson, etc.).  I watched as Suh signed with Miami, Julius Thomas went to Jacksonville.  Hell, even the Jets managed to bring in Brandon Marshall for a song!  The Eagles were making their moves, the Colts look to be making their moves, the 49ers are falling apart, the Cardinals are making middling deals, the bottom-feeders with all the money will throw it around like it’s raining titties in their faces.  And meanwhile, the Seahawks would bide their time, collect as many compensatory draft picks as possible, and rummage through the scraps when all was said and done.  It wouldn’t be flashy, it wouldn’t even be all that pretty, but we’d cross our fingers, hold our breath, and hope for the best.

And then yesterday happened.  There was, like, a 1-2 hour window where everything on Twitter was a clusterfuck of adventure.  You know what everyone was talking about before noon yesterday?  How there’s going to be a Zoolander 2; DO YOU EVEN REMEMBER THAT NOW???  Then, look at what happened after noon:

  • Patrick Willis officially announces his retirement
  • The Bills & Browns going after Charles Clay
  • Various reports of the Saints shopping players, including Jimmy Graham
  • Speculation on where Reggie Bush might end up
  • Then, Jay Glazer brings the hammer down with Seahawks talking about Jimmy Graham with Saints
  • Then, almost immediately after, the deal is all but official
  • Then, almost immediately after that, Haloti Ngata goes to Detroit
  • Then, the Rams trade Bradford to Eagles for Foles (and picks traded also)
  • Then, the Pats let Browner walk
  • Then, Denver signs Owen Daniels
  • The Raiders sign Malcolm Smith
  • Frank Gore & Andre Johnson visit Colts

And, that doesn’t even get into Jake Locker RETIRING.  And everything else that happened afterward.  Just, absolutely, INsane.

My first coherent thought was:  there are no half measures with the Seahawks.  They’re not making blockbuster trades for scrubs.  It’s hard to ask for much more – talentwise – than Percy Harvin and Jimmy Graham (I know these aren’t the only trades we’ve made, but these are the trades that cost us the most).  On paper, there’s not much to dislike about Jimmy Graham.  He’s been in the league five years and in four of those years he’s caught over 80 balls, at least 9 touchdowns, and over 800 yards.  And that’s on a Saints team with some really talented pass catchers through the years.

But, you know, it’s not even really about ALL of that.  We didn’t trade for a guy who’s going to catch 100 balls or 1,000 yards per season.  Just like we didn’t trade for that guy when we brought in Harvin.  Bottom line:  what we did was secure a dominant force in the red zone.  And he doesn’t even need to necessarily be who he’s been!  Granted, if we line him out wide, and he’s guarded one-on-one by a cornerback, we’re probably going to exploit that matchup more often than not.  But, just having him out there is going to draw the lion’s share of the red zone coverage (and in ways it never would have been with Harvin in the fold).

Speed is nice and everything, but it doesn’t make up for size when you’re down inside the 20.

The flipside of all of this is:  we lose Max Unger and we lose our first round draft pick.  Again.  Did you know Bruce Irvin was our most recent first round draft pick?  That was in 2012 for Christ’s sake!

Now, to be fair, trading for Jimmy Graham – as opposed to signing Julius Thomas for a comparable amount of money – means we retain a likely 3rd round draft pick in 2016 (a compensatory pick for losing Byron Maxwell in free agency).  So, in fairness, yes we lose the #31 overall pick this year, but we gain an extra 4th rounder from the Saints, AND we preserve our 3rd rounder next year.  So, that mitigates things a bit.

But, I dunno, I guess it’s just annoying.  There’s value in drafting in the first round, even if it is in the low 30s.  Maybe we do like we did last year and trade it back to gain a 2nd & a 4th.  Maybe we flip it for a first rounder next year!  Or, shit, maybe we keep that pick and draft a guy who starts for us immediately!  Maybe it’s not an all-world tight end or wide receiver, but I bet that hypothetical player would’ve been someone good!

All I’m saying is – when this blows up in our faces – you’re going to be reading many a blog post about how the Seahawks could’ve drafted So-And-So if they kept their first rounder.  Happens ALL THE TIME.

I’m less upset about losing Unger, because let’s face it, that guy is breaking down like nobody’s business.  When he’s healthy, he’s as good as it gets – especially in the run game – but each year he’s getting more and more dinged up.  We blew through four centers last year!  And, I know it wasn’t always pretty, but we managed.  The reason we struggled for so long wasn’t just because Unger was out.

I’ve been saying all along that the Seahawks need to draft a Center Of The Future this year, and that was when I still factored Unger in as our starter!  You have to think that guy’s out of football within two years; better to unload him now and save a bit of money with all that we’re taking on with Graham’s contract.

My concern about Jimmy Graham – outside of everything that we gave up – is twofold.  The first reason is more abstract:  the Seahawks traded away a first round draft pick for a receiver (and make no mistake, Graham is more wide receiver than tight end); teams that trade away first rounders for receivers almost ALWAYS see that shit blow up in their faces.  The Seahawks don’t have to look any further than Deion Branch and Percy Harvin.  Shit, everyone creamed in their pants over Harvin, and look at how that ended!

Now, the good thing about this one is that Graham doesn’t appear to be quite the hothead or mental case that Harvin was and is.  While there might be some hurt fee-fees after some of the jawing the Seahawks defense did with him a couple years ago, I doubt that’s going to single-handedly dismantle the locker room chemistry like Harvin managed.  That’s the kind of lightning you DON’T want to see strike twice!  That’s, like, actual lightning striking you twice.

My more concrete fear is the softness of Jimmy Graham.  He’s the same delicate little flower that would disappear for weeks at a time, while padding his stats against the bottom-feeders of the league.  Now, like I said before, I don’t necessarily need him to take over the entire offense between the 20’s.  But, I’m going to need a manly man in that endzone when we’re trying to convert drives into touchdowns!

Luckily, he only has to face the Seahawks’ defense in practice and not in games.  But, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again:  you put a body on Graham and he’s going to crumple!

Now, factor that in with the fact that he’s a bigger, taller gentleman.  6’7, 265.  These guys tend to break down on a football field.  He’s already not all that fast, but he’s going to slow down to Antonio Gates levels in a hurry.  That might not mean a whole lot on the goalline, but he also can’t be TOTALLY anonymous between the 20s either.  2015 will be his sixth year in the NFL.  I feel pretty safe to say that it’s going to be the last year of his “prime” and it’s all downhill starting in 2016.

Meaning?  We better not lose him for a season like we fucking did with Harvin.  Because, if he goes down with a hip or an ACL or some damn season-ending thing, I don’t think there’s any recovery.  And, not only that, but we blew yet another first round pick, while all of our core gets another year older.

A lot is riding on this deal working out.  MUCH more than with the Harvin trade.  At the time, you could argue that Harvin was the cherry on top of an already championship-level sundae.  This time, we’re talking about the difference between maintaining a championship level vs. falling back to the pack.

Cards on the table:  before the Graham trade, the Seahawks were well on their way to being just another playoff team.  You could’ve argued that the Packers, Lions, Cowboys, Eagles, Cardinals, and even the Giants were making waves in the NFC.  We were no longer the clear leaders of the pack; we were just part of that pack.

Now?  Now, I think this is a move you can safely say makes the rest of the NFC cringe a little bit.  The Seahawks WERE a team without much talent in the receiving game.  We were going to have to hit the draft hard and hope someone popped, but more likely, it would’ve meant a receiver popping in the next year or two.  Jimmy Graham is an influx of elite-level talent that makes us much more balanced on offense.  He bumps Baldwin, Kearse, and everyone else down a level, back down where they belong.

Sure, we’re stuck now replacing 40% of our offensive line, but I would argue that we needed to do that anyway.  Letting James Carpenter sign elsewhere is a boon.  He’s always getting dinged up, and now we get another compensatory pick for him.  Getting rid of Unger helps mitigate some of the cost we’re taking on, plus it throws a little more urgency in our search for his replacement.  A search – I’ve argued before – needed to happen regardless.

Overall, I feel much more at ease than I did before this all went down.  Yes, there’s risk.  Yes, there’s ALWAYS risk, in anything you do.  But, in the short term, it brings a lot of things into focus.  The Seahawks can be a little more choosy in their drafting and in their signing of low-level free agents.  One MAJOR hole has been filled.  Doesn’t mean you stop building, or thinking about the future.  But, at least this way, if the Seahawks run across a top-level player in the second round who isn’t necessarily our most-pressing need, we can still pick him up and bolster our roster.

Now, if we can just encase Jimmy Graham in carbonite until September, I’ll be much more at ease.

Squeaker: Seahawks Pick Their Jaws Up Off The Floor Long Enough To Beat The Broncos In Overtime

How about that Jon Ryan, huh?  I know that’s probably not where you want to start after a game like this, but you could really make an argument that he was the most important player on the field yesterday.  Take a look at it like this:  against the better offenses in the league, the Seahawks tend to play a Bend/Don’t Break style of defense.  Give up nothing deep, and as a compromise, the Seahawks will give the opportunity for completions underneath.  To be fair, the Seahawks are certainly one of the very BEST Bend/Don’t Break defenses in football, but they’re still going to give up some yards every now and again.  So, to pin them deep, to flip the field position battle every time our offense failed and we were forced to punt, was just what the doctor ordered in a game this tight.  Denver starting inside the 10 yard line vs. starting around their own 30 is all the difference between forcing Denver to punt vs. forcing them to kick a field goal.

I dunno.  I just think if you’re EVER going to lavish praise upon a punter, it might as well be after a game like that.  I mean, shit, did you see that free kick after the safety?  Have you ever SEEN one of those kicks travel all the way to the opposing goalline?  Usually in those situations, the other team ends up with the ball around the 30 or 40 yard line!

So, yesterday, I was pretty surly.  Long story short:  the vast majority of my fantasy players had played in the morning and not a God damn one of them got me any touchdowns.  I was staring down the barrel of an embarrassing defeat and what’s worse was I was losing because I followed some very bad advice by the so-called fantasy experts out there (seriously, Joique Bell can eat all the dicks until Reggie Bush gets injured).  Anyway, going into the Seahawks game, I really needed a pick-me-up, and for the most part I got one.  That was quite the enjoyable football game!  Got a little scary at the end – had some flashbacks to the Seahawks’ defense of 2012 (where we were mostly great, but had a few too many late-game breakdowns that let other teams beat us) – but the good guys won and that’s all that matters.

Before I go any further, let me just say this about Phil Simms.  I was reading Twitter during commercial breaks, and catching a few text messages from friends, and the general consensus is that overall Phil Simms sucks as a broadcaster and in particular he sucks because he was overly-favoring the Denver Broncos.  I want to be there with you guys, I really do, but here’s the thing:  I don’t have the energy to hate any more sports announcers.  I’m kinda all wrapped up in this whole Dave Sims Is The Worst thing, and then I ended up spending yesterday morning listening to Ronde Barber stammer his way through the Saints/Vikings football game alongside Chris Myers for three straight hours.  When you tack on Joey Harrington and the vast majority of announcers on the Pac-12 Network, I just don’t have what it takes to lump in Phil Simms.

Is he ideal?  No.  But, they can’t all be Cris Collinsworth or Gus Johnson or Kevin Calabro.  I’m sorry.  If you’re like me, you’ve been listening to Phil Simms talk about football for about 20 years now.  I don’t look to him for smart insights.  I’ve gotten used to his down-home, folksy charm.  And for crying out loud he wasn’t rooting for the Broncos, he was rooting for a good, exciting football game.  Considering the Seahawks grabbed control of the contest from the get-go, of course he’s going to talk about what the Broncos have to do to get back in the ballgame!

But, enough about that.

There was more than punting and poor announcers in this contest.  There was getting the best of Peyton Manning yet again!  There was holding their running game to almost nothing.  There was Emmanuel Sanders getting nearly 27 points for my bench in fantasy.  There was Aqib Talib nearly picking off a pass, then getting beat for a 39-yard touchdown to Ricardo Lockette, then later deflecting a ball that would lead to a pick by someone else and eventually a Broncos touchdown.

This game had it all.  Or, at least, it had it most.  Lots of good things to build upon, lots of bad things to work out.

The offense looked a lot more balanced.  Denver’s got a pretty stout run defense up the middle, so it was nice to see those fake fly-sweeps work to our advantage with Beastmode.  Oftentimes, I see the sweep coming and when it’s a fake, I wonder what would have been had we given it to a sprinting Percy Harvin instead.  These are especially lamentable when the defense isn’t prepared to put a body on our receiver and they end up clogging up the run straight ahead.  But, it looks like the word is out on these plays, as teams are concentrating more on Harvin, thus giving us a chance to gash.

One play I particularly like is when Harvin runs across the formation pre-snap, then Wilson fakes the swing pass, turns around, and throws a swing pass to the opposite side (to Lynch, mostly).  These misdirection plays are fantastic and I’d like to see them more often when we get down into the red zone.

Aside from that Lockette reception, there wasn’t a whole lot available with the deep pass in this game.  That’s a shame, and also a real testament to Denver’s dedication in shoring up their secondary.  I don’t have the numbers in front of me, but my gut feeling is that the Seahawks haven’t been able to take advantage of the deep pass as much through the first three games of this season.  Which leads me to wonder:  are we running these play-action passes with less regularity?  Are defenses playing us differently, knowing how we get off on making secondaries look silly?  Or, is this some sort of commentary on our wideouts and their inability to get open on deeper routes (or our quarterback’s inability to look off an opposing safety?).  I tend to believe it’s how other teams are scheming us, to which I reply:  do so at your own peril.  Because, let’s face it, you’re playing right into our hands when you do that.  We WANT to run the ball a ton!  So, by you playing deep and giving us less-populated fronts on which to run against, we’ll just continue running for 5 yards per play and methodically wear you out.

Defensively, we were much better than we were against the Chargers.  Denver only converted 6 of 16 third downs, which I will take every single time against an offense that potent.  Of course, a couple of those plays were curious draw plays on third & long, which led many to wonder if they were just giving up on those drives.

Overall, the run defense has been FANTASTIC this season!  Yesterday, the Broncos really made it their mission to pound it on the ground, and they were taken to task accordingly.  20 rushes for 36 yards, which is just God awful.

We saw a little bit of the good pass defense (2013) and the not-so-good pass defense (2012) in yesterday’s game, when the fourth quarter came around.  In 2012, we generally found ways to lose games like these, as teams like Detroit, Miami, and Atlanta in the playoffs ultimately drove on us late in ballgames to secure victories.  In 2013, we mostly found ways to win those types of games.  Even if teams would drive on us late, we made just enough big plays to hold them off.  Well, yesterday the Broncos had a chance to score a go-ahead touchdown, but Manning was picked off by Chancellor, who ran it all the way back to field goal range for the Seahawks.  We ran them out of time outs and knocked the clock all the way down to just under a minute, while taking an 8-point lead that looked practically insurmountable given the circumstances.  And yet, we all know what happened:  Manning drove them down 80 yards on 6 plays (on the back of two big passes on similar routes down the sideline) in 41 seconds to tie the game.

I have no doubt about one thing in this game:  had Kam not brought that interception all the way down, allowing us to eventually hit that field goal to go up by eight, we would’ve lost this game.  Let’s say, for the sake of argument, when the Seahawks were up 17-12, that instead of the INT, Denver scored a touchdown there, with something like 2 minutes left to go:  I have very little faith that we would’ve been able to generate a drive in that short of time to either tie the game or take the lead.  Not with the way we were playing offense in that second half.

Overtime was the biggest blessing (aside from winning that coin toss in overtime, of course).  With a fresh quarter in which to work with, the Seahawks were able to methodically drive the length of the field to score.  80 yards in just under 6 minutes.  See, in this scenario, we could take our time.  We were still deprived of anything deep, which meant that Russell Wilson was able to take advantage of all those keepers he turned down through the first four quarters.  There were LOTS of opportunities where Wilson handed off to Lynch instead of pulling the ball back for moderate gains on the outside.  Obviously, I’m not going to bash him for this, because I want him to remain healthy and I want him to improve as a pocket passer.  But, when push comes to shove, it’s nice to know that he’s got his running ability in his back pocket.  We NEEDED to score a touchdown in overtime, because no one wanted to see Denver’s offense back on the field.  It was Russell Wilson’s grit and determination that made this victory possible.

Just when you think you’ve got the Seahawks figured out and bottled up, we find another way to get the job done.

Aside from the obvious stars – Jon Ryan, Russell Wilson, Marshawn Lynch – I’d like to give it up to the receivers for getting the job done against a tough secondary.  Kearse, Baldwin, Harvin, Walters, and Lockette had a bigger collective impact on this game than their individual numbers may indicate.

I thought Maxwell was overall pretty solid, even though he’s absolutely getting picked on each and every game.  It’s hard to ask a cornerback to be perfect when teams are actively avoiding the other side of the field and going after you on a near-constant basis.  Shout out to Marcus Burley as well for doing a great job in the nickel corner spot.  I find it’s no coincidence that Denver was able to start moving the ball easier once he was knocked out by a little friendly fire.  Secondary depth is a little iffy at the moment, but when we’re able to get Jeremy Lane back, all should be awesome in the stretch run (here’s to hoping Lane is available by the time we play the Eagles in week 14, if not sooner).

I noticed Cassius Marsh got some quality reps in the first half and made a great impact.  He’s going to be really good for us if he manages to stay healthy.  Mebane was his usual rock-solid self as well.

Now we go into our BYE week.  Because fuck you NFL schedule-makers.  Then, we have to go play the Redskins on their abysmal field in two weeks.  Oh joy, I’m sure none of our guys will get injured in that game!

Seattle Sports Hell 2013 NFL Power Rankings – Week 1

I don’t throw around the word “love” very often, but I fucking LOVE NFL Sunday Ticket.  I purchased the Madden game for X-Box and got a deal on the online-only version of DirecTV’s signature product, and boy was it worth it!  The only shame of it was the fact that the Seahawks were playing at 10am, so the bulk of my focus was on that.  Nevertheless, I had my laptop running the Atlanta/New Orleans game in the background.  And, when both games were on commercial:  that was time to flip it over to the Red Zone channel!

I’m sure many of you have enjoyed this NFL viewing experience for years now, but this is entirely new to me.  Anytime I’ve ever had a chance to watch multiple games, it was either at my Dad’s house or in a bar somewhere.  At my dad’s, he’s got three TVs in the living room.  But, he’s only got regular ol’ cable TV, so I was at the mercy of whatever Fox or CBS deemed worthy for the Seattle market.  Which usually means a lot of Jets, a lot of Cowboys, and in the afternoon, a lot of Raiders and Rams and Cardinals.  I fucking can’t stand all of those teams.

At a bar, sure, you can watch whatever games you want (if you find the right bar, with the right configuration of TVs, and you’re not bombarded with a bunch of annoying Steelers or Packers fans).  But, if you’re getting any sound, it’s on one dedicated game, so you can’t toggle between games like you could at home.  And, you can’t just sit at a bar and not buy anything, so in any given day, you’re spending anywhere from $30-$60, depending on how much you eat and drink.  If you’re going to spend that much every week, you might as well just buy DirecTV and get it over with!

This is starting to sound like an advertisement, which I promise you it is not.  I’ve only had it for one week, so I’m sure there are things I’ll hate.  But, right now, it’s a whole new world.  I’m hooked.  I would probably pay any amount of money in the world just to know that I’ll never have to watch another boring Jets game ever again.

***

  1. Seattle Seahawks (1-0) – Until the Seahawks lose, I’m not even thinking about moving them down this list.
  2. San Francisco 49ers (1-0) – For anyone wondering when Kaepernick is going to go through some sort of second-year slump, keep dreaming.
  3. Denver Broncos (1-0) – They might end up with the best record in football, but that won’t make them the best team.  Nevertheless, they’re still pretty fucking good.
  4. Green Bay Packers (0-1) – Man, what can I say?  The 49ers just have their number.  Pretty sure that’s the only team in the NFL they fear playing in the playoffs.
  5. Atlanta Falcons (0-1) – The Falcons are still the second-best home team in the NFL.  They lost a tough road game against a tough divisional opponent; and they almost won anyway!
  6. Houston Texans (1-0) – Pretty amazing come-from-behind win to start their season.
  7. New England Patriots (1-0) – I’m pretty sure the Patriots won’t be terrible this year, but they’re not going to be elite.  The defense is still iffy, and the offense totally lacks weapons.
  8. New Orleans Saints (1-0) – Outside of the Chiefs, the Saints might be the most improved team in the NFL this year.  Still, Drew Brees can be sloppy with the ball.
  9. Cincinnati Bengals (0-1) – Chicago certainly isn’t the easiest place to start your NFL season, but the Bengals are better than that.  They’ll bounce back.
  10. Washington Redskins (0-1) – Welp, that’s what happens when your starting quarterback goes the entire pre-season without playing.  I expect the offense to improve and in a hurry.
  11. Kansas City Chiefs (1-0) – Something tells me the Chiefs won’t be out of the Top 10 for long.  Andy Reid was a terrible coach for what the Eagles became last year, but he’s just what these Chiefs need.
  12. Carolina Panthers (0-1) – Excellent front seven, better-than-they-showed-on-Sunday offense.  I kinda predicted Tampa Bay would be one of the breakout teams of the NFC, but it’s probably going to be Carolina.
  13. Detroit Lions (1-0) – You pair that passing game with Reggie Bush and you’ve got something lethal.  They better hope Bush can stay healthy for the duration; a pass-catching back is all they need to be unstoppable on offense.
  14. Baltimore Ravens (0-1) – The thing is, those receivers won’t drop as many balls as they did in the opener.  The other thing is:  I’m telling you, this is a .500 football team.
  15. Dallas Cowboys (1-0) – Jesus Dallas, how did you almost blow that game after generating six turnovers?
  16. New York Giants (0-1) – Of course this is the year that Eli Manning dominates.  I had him on my fantasy team LAST year and avoided him like the plague this year.
  17. Chicago Bears (1-0) – This is still a team that only has one receiver, and still a team that under-utilizes their running back.
  18. Indianapolis Colts (1-0) – Took quite the effort to beat the Raiders, when it should have taken no effort whatsoever.
  19. Philadelphia Eagles (1-0) – Weird!  You lean on LeSean McCoy and use Vick in the passing game as little as possible and you do well on offense!  Andy Reid, are you fucking WATCHING THIS?
  20. St. Louis Rams (1-0) – I kind of expected the Rams to handle the Cardinals better than they did.  Does that mean the Rams are worse than advertised, or are the Cards better?
  21. Miami Dolphins (1-0) – Whoop-dee-doo, they beat up on the Cleveland Browns, BFD.
  22. San Diego Chargers (0-1) – I’m shocked that they blew a 21-point lead, but then again I’m not that shocked.  Philip Rivers always finds a way.
  23. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-1) – They were one bone-head play from being 1-0.  Then again, I’m hearing all kinds of bad press on Josh Freeman.  In a contract year?  That doesn’t bode well.
  24. Minnesota Vikings (0-1) – God the Vikings are terrible.  Ponder is one of many busts at quarterback starting right now.
  25. Arizona Cardinals (0-1) – Carson Palmer, where have you been all of Larry Fitzgerald’s career?
  26. Cleveland Browns (0-1) – I’m having a tough time figuring out how bad Weeden is.  He throws the ball a ton of times per game and kinda racks up the yardage.  But, his completion percentage is usually terrible and he throws for more picks than TDs.  He sort of strikes me as a young, disappointing Vinny Testaverde, without the possibility of ever having a long career.
  27. Tennessee Titans (1-0) – The Titans are terrible.  But, who knows?  Maybe they’re not as terrible as we thought.  Who am I kidding?  They ARE as terrible as we thought, but the teams under them are even worse.
  28. Oakland Raiders (0-1) – I never for one minute thought they were going to beat the Colts.
  29. New York Jets (1-0) – Lucky win for a bullshit team.  Here’s to hoping Geno Smith turns out well.  Mark Sanchez needs to go away forever.
  30. Buffalo Bills (0-1) – Goes to show you how underwhelming this rookie quarterback class is that EJ Manuel is getting seriously glowing press even though he only threw for 150 yards.
  31. Pittsburgh Steelers (0-1) – The Steelers might not be the next-to-worst team in the NFL, but this is the penalty they get for being my Survivor Pool pick in week 1.  I might not ever put them in the top 30 all season.
  32. Jacksonville Jaguars (0-1) – Two points?  Gus Bradley, would you like to reconsider your decision?

Seattle Sports Hell NFL Power Rankings

You’ve seen the best … now see the rest!

I don’t believe in any Power Rankings before the season, because I think they’re inane.  You can’t POSSIBLY know how good a team is going to be before you’ve actually seen them play.  And if you’re basing your rankings on last year’s finishes or this year’s pre-season games, then you’re a fucking retard and you deserve to have at least one family member shot in the face.

The first two weeks of the NFL season are a total crapshoot, plain and simple.  Who saw the Cardinals as a 2-0 team?  Who saw the Saints as 0-2?  Who could have figured there would be SO MANY 1-1 teams???

But now, two games in, you can kind of have an idea.  Last year, we had a weekly feature called the Suck For Luck Impotence Rankings.  Since I feel the Seahawks won’t suck (and since there is no Luck-equivalent in next year’s draft), I’ve decided to broaden my horizons and do what just about every other football blog does.  An NFL Power Rankings.  Besides, I need SOMETHING to write about on Tuesdays during the NFL season …

  1. San Francisco 49ers:  I plan on picking this team to win each and every week until they prove to me that they’re not as dominant as they really are.
  2. Atlanta Falcons:  I refuse to put Houston here until they play a team that’s NOT in the bottom five in all of the NFL.
  3. Houston Texans:  I mean, for the love of Christ, at least the Falcons played Denver and kind of bashed their brains in.
  4. Green Bay Packers:  I still like them.  They didn’t blow Chicago away, but then again that game was on a Thursday.  I don’t expect ANY team to dominate on a Thursday.  Thursday games are the fucking worst.
  5. New England Patriots:  I feel like an idiot putting the Pats this high, considering they lost to the Cards at home.  But, if you replay that game 100 times, New England is easily winning that game 85% of the time.
  6. Baltimore Ravens:  I don’t feel like an idiot putting the Ravens this low.  Yeah, they looked great against the Bengals, yeah, they’ll probably be a playoff team.  But, they’re still the Ravens and I think they still lose in any big game to the Patriots.
  7. Chicago Bears:  The Bears are going to have a couple stinkers every season as long as they employ Cutler.  That having been said, they’ve got a ton of weapons on offense, their defense is still stout, and they’ll rip off a bunch of wins this season making everyone wonder why they wrote the Bears off so early in the season.
  8. Arizona Cardinals:  That defense is no joke.  They certainly won’t stay this high in my rankings (then again, their early-season schedule is almost unfathomably easy).  But, by going into New England and beating the Pats (and killing many survivor pools in the process), they have earned this Top 10 ranking.
  9. Pittsburgh Steelers:  They’ve still got Ben.  He’s their wildcard.  If he stays healthy and doesn’t crap the bed, they will be winners.  Yeah, their defense is old and injury-prone, but when healthy they’re still good and able to handle the teams they should.
  10. San Diego Chargers:  Is this the year that Philip Rivers holds his turnovers in check?  My fantasy team sure as shit hopes so.
  11. Philadelphia Eagles:  I think this team has gotten a bad rap so far, mostly because they’ve stunk quite a bit.  That having been said, they have a lot of talent on this team.  When they gel and get into a groove, watch out.  Still, their performance against Cleveland keeps them out of the top 10 until they finally dominate a team they should.
  12. Seattle Seahawks:  Defense – check.  Special Teams – check.  This offense will only improve as the season goes on.  When it does, watch out NFL.
  13. Denver Broncos:  Not an ideal showing for Manning last night.  He will improve.  That team will improve.  By season’s end, I still think they make the playoffs.
  14. Detroit Lions:  We all know their defense is shitty, but maybe it’s not AS shitty as we think.  Either way, I say the Lions beat these next two teams in my rankings hands down.
  15. Dallas Cowboys:  They land here because they’re not terrible, and because their defense is WAY better than the next team’s.
  16. New York Giants:  What happened to the G-men?  That defense is abysmal!  They’re lucky they have Eli to pull their asses out of the fire.
  17. Tampa Bay Buccaneers:  I don’t know how they blew that Giants game (Eli being Eli, I guess), but I like these Bucs.  Call me crazy!
  18. New York Jets:  Remember when everyone was sucking their dicks after scoring 48 on the Bills in week 1?  Not so eager anymore, are you?
  19. Cincinnati Bengals:  Tough team to read.  You don’t know if they’re worthless, or if they’re top 10, but they seem to do just enough to get by in most games.  Let’s see if that defense can hold things down like they did last season.
  20. Carolina Panthers:  Still a top-notch offense.  Still a question-mark defense.
  21. St. Louis Rams:  Playing hard under their new coach.  Don’t sleep on their defense, the Redskins are pretty amazing on offense.  Nice to see them come back on Sunday.
  22. Washington Redskins:  A bad defense just got worse with injuries.  These definitely ARE the Carolina Panthers of last season.
  23. New Orleans:  They look kind of lost.  Gotta give Sean Payton his due, he really had a good handle on that team.  They’ll probably finish with a sub-.500 record this season, then bounce back into the playoffs next year.  At which point, give Payton his Coach of the Year award.
  24. Buffalo Bills:  I’m really rooting for this team to get better.  GET BETTER!  I’m sick and tired of the Pats & Jets!
  25. Minnesota Vikings:  Best running back in the game, top-notch pass-rushing defense … I could see this team surprising some teams this year.  It all rests on Ponder.
  26. Indianapolis Colts:  Interesting team so far.  Yeah, they got reamed by the Bears in Week 1, but the Bears are a top-notch team.  I thought they showed a lot in beating the Vikings at home in a close game.
  27. Miami Dolphins:  I anticipate this will be one of the worst teams in the NFL (unless they put Matt Moore back in), so it was a shock to say the least how they handled the Raiders this past week.  Reggie Bush had the game of a lifetime; if he keeps that up, maybe I’ll have to re-think my opinion of this team.
  28. Jacksonville Jaguars:  Yikes.  If the Jags are this high, the four teams below them must be AWFUL.
  29. Oakland Raiders:  Yep, awful.  Carson Palmer can still throw the ball around, but if he can’t complete more than 50% of his passes, then what’s the point?
  30. Kansas City Chiefs:  Their defense might be the worst in football.  It figures, that was the defense the Seahawks saw in the pre-season that essentially won Russell Wilson the job.  What luck!
  31. Cleveland Browns:  I don’t think their defense is that bad.  And Brandon Weeden had an okay game last week!  Who knew?
  32. Tennessee Titans:  I hate to put Jake Locker’s team so low, but I have to wonder how much longer he’ll be starting.  Either injuries or ineffectiveness is going to take him out and that’s a shame.  Their early-season schedule is BRUTAL.  They might not win until week 8!  At which point, it would really behoove their front office to can that head coach and bring someone in who knows what the fuck he’s doing.  Former offensive linemen were not meant to be head coaches!

A Companion Post: Who Might Want Beastmode Besides Seattle?

One thing I failed to explore in the previous post is:  what’s the market look like for a guy like Marshawn Lynch?

Yes, the Franchise Tag is a good cost-cutting tool when trying to re-sign a player.  But, a complete and utter lack of teams desiring to sign an over-priced running back is probably the best thing the Seahawks could ask for.

Of course, on Lynch’s side, you’ve got the age-old adage:  it only takes one.

So, let’s just go around the league.  For starters, you can count out the NFC East.  Dallas has any number of quality young backs already locked in (including super-stud DeMarco Murray who is sure to be a fantasy god for years to come).  The Giants appear to be set with Bradshaw and whoever else behind him.  The Redskins have a nice little stable of young backs.  And the Eagles have Shady McCoy (and, I imagine, not a whole lot of cap room to boot).

In the NFC North, I’m banking my life-savings (and one of my fantasy keepers) on the fact that they will retain Matt Forte.  Minnesota obviously has one of the very best backs in the league.  The Detroit Lions, however, could be interesting.  All they’ve got on their roster right now is Jahvid Best, and he’s a fucking injury waiting to happen!  It’s certainly NOT a good sign that he ended his season with concussions last year.  And, you’d have to think that for a young team trying to cultivate this bad-ass attitude, a guy like Beastmode would slide right in nicely.  Even MORE interesting are the Green Bay Packers.  You’ve got a team with an all-world quarterback, with a shitload of receivers, and with absolutely no running game to speak of whatsoever.  Ryan Grant is a free agent who has played his last game with the green and gold; James Starks is good, but he’s no Beastmode.  I gotta think Lynch might be just the piece to put the right balance into that explosive offense.

The NFC South will be no competition.  Atlanta still has a lot of money tied up in Michael Turner.  New Orleans drafted the top running back last season (and they have other money tied up in three or four other guys); plus, theirs is not an offense that would make any sense for a guy like Lynch.  Carolina still has three running backs (including the guy who takes snaps from the center).  And Tampa is a young team that will never in a million years put in the money it would take to get Lynch.

As for the other teams in the NFC West:  San Francisco has Gore, St. Louis has Jackson, and Arizona has Wells.  They all seem pretty committed to their guys.

You know who scares me more than any other team in the NFL?  The New England Patriots.  Think about it, they were THIS close to winning it all this past season!  What were they missing?  What are they ALWAYS missing?  A balanced offensive attack!  Let’s face it, Tom Brady isn’t getting any younger.  Yes, I know the Patriots like to skimp on their running backs (just as they like to bank draft picks for future drafts), but at one point or another, they’re going to have to cash in before it’s too late.  That crack about Tom Brady not getting any younger:  the same can be said for him not getting any BETTER.  Tom Brady is as good as he’s ever going to be; it’s all downhill from here.  One of these seasons, his skills are going to erode.  He’s not going to see the open receiver soon enough, he’s going to force more and more balls into coverage, he’s going to take more and more hits from ferocious defenses looking to take out the guy while he’s on top.  The Pats could sure as shit use a guy like Lynch to take off some of the load.

And, don’t look now, but Kevin Faulk and BenJarvus Green-Ellis are both free agents.  They’re not going to hand the ball off to Danny Woodhead and Shane Vereen 30 times a game!  Why WOULDN’T they make a huge push to get Lynch and start dominating the Time of Possession in every game?  What’s the downside here?

Elsewhere in the AFC East, the Dolphins are tied up with Reggie Bush and Daniel Thomas, the Jets seem pretty happy with Shonn Greene and whatever young buck they’re going to slide behind him.  And, of course, the Bills have Jackson and Spiller (plus, duh, they’re the team that traded Lynch in the first place).

In the AFC North, you know damn well Baltimore is re-signing Ray Rice, so forget about it.  The Steelers would be an AWESOME fit for a guy like Beastmode, but they’re still stuck with Mendenhall (plus, they NEVER fork over money on free agents).  Cincy won’t fork over the money it’ll take either.  And the Browns – in spite of his sub-par season – will most likely re-sign Hillis (plus, they’ve got a stable of young backs they could easily throw into the mix should Hillis go elsewhere).

The AFC South has three teams that are simply non-starters.  Houston has not one but TWO massively effective running backs (Foster, who’s a fantasy god; and Tate who – as a backup – nearly ran for 1,000 yards).  The Titans have Chris Johnson and his massively insane contract.  And the Jags have one of the better all-around guys in MJD.

The Indianapolis Colts, however, are a God damned wild card and I just don’t like it!  Now, for starters, if they opt to keep Peyton Manning, then you can just skip to the next paragraph right now, because they won’t have two cents to rub together.  But, let’s say they let him and his $28 million walk:  suddenly, they’re in play!  They will have a rookie quarterback starting from Game 1.  They don’t have a single running back worth a good God damn on their team.  And, the organization will have to do something for its fans to make up for the fact that they just let go of a Hall of Famer (especially if he goes to another team and starts kicking ass again).  I wouldn’t put it past the Colts to do something drastic; mark my words.

In the AFC West, we’re talking about teams who are all pretty much set.  The Chiefs will be looking for Jamaal Charles to bounce back from an early-season season-ending injury in 2011.  The Broncos still have Willis McGahee and Knowshon Moreno.  And the Raiders will still have McFadden; if they re-sign Michael Bush, then all the more reason for them to NOT sign Lynch.

So, aside from the Seahawks, we’re talking about four potential teams:  Detroit, Green Bay, New England, and Indianapolis.  All have ample reasons to sign a back like Lynch; all have ample reasons to not do a damn thing.  There will be other, cheaper options out there (Hillis, Bush, Mike Tolbert, Cedric Benson, Tashard Choice, Justin Forsett, Ryan Grant) for teams like New England and Detroit to snap up, if they so choose to go the tightwad route.  Really, it’s tough to know exactly WHICH of these four teams would be the most likely, considering I don’t know what their cap situations are like.  If I were Green Bay or New England, though, I’d think long and hard.  Both teams were DAMN close this past season.  Both teams had very similar, pass-first types of offenses.  And both teams lost to the same team (the Giants) which could have been avoided had they had a running game.

Something to think about as these Beastmode negotiations continue.

Getting Ready For 5-5

These Thursday college games, combined with my site taking a huge dump yesterday, left me without a preview of the Seahawks vs. the Saints.

Look, this one isn’t difficult.  Yes, we’re on the road, so that right there puts us behind the 8-ball.  We’re playing the Super Bowl champions and they’ve still got Drew Brees.  It appears Reggie Bush is coming back from an injury, so that’s another weapon against us.  They’ve lost three games this year:  to Atlanta in overtime, to a surprisingly good Cleveland team, and to the Cardinals which to this day doesn’t make any sense until you remember, “Oh yeah, the Saints turned it over about a thousand times in that game and Max Hall never really had to lift a finger.”

And don’t forget, they too get the pleasure of playing us after their Bye week.

Um … good things, good things.  I guess you can move the ball against them.  Except, no you really can’t because they’re the Number 1 team against the pass, giving up only 166 yards per game.  Here’s a little side note I’ll throw in for free:  good teams, winning teams, are generally worse against the pass due to the fact that they’re so often winning ballgames and other teams feel the need to throw a lot late in games.  So, that’s a bad sign.

You could look at their schedule and say that they haven’t really blown out a lot of teams.  I dunno.

I’m predicting a very bad game.  A sloppy game on our part with lots of turnovers.  You pick a point spread, however big you want, and I’ll still take the Saints!  This is going to be an excellent week to have Brees and Colston in my fantasy lineup.  Saints 38 Seahawks 11.