The Most Wrong I’ve Been About A Seahawks Player

Obviously, I have to shout out Field Gulls for inspiring this post. I mean, basically I’m just stealing their idea and answering it in my own forum. But, I linked to them, so what more do you want from me?! A cut of the profits! Good luck! This site is hemorrhaging money hand over fist!

It’s hard for me to feel satisfied with picking a player who I had zero expectations about, who went on to greatness. Like, I’m not – and have never been – a draftnik. So, I didn’t see Richard Sherman coming, for instance. Or Doug Baldwin. Or Kam Chancellor. I’m pretty sure I had equally as low expectations for a lot of those guys drafted in the later rounds, so the fact that I was so “wrong” about them doesn’t really say a whole lot. I mean, who saw Tom Brady, 6th Round quarterback turning into the Greatest Of All Time? That specific element, I’m throwing away.

The flipside, however, probably has my answer: someone drafted high, whose career totally took a shit.

Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of highly-drafted busts in Seahawks history. But, by and large, these were players we could’ve seen coming. Lawrence Jackson, Lamar King, L.J. Collier, Germain Ifedi, whathaveyou. Even Koren Robinson had his off-field issues that dogged him into his NFL playing days.

I would say the answer for me is Aaron Curry. Unfortunately, that was in my pre-blogging days, so I don’t have a record of my thoughts at the time, but I do remember very distinctly thinking he was a sure thing linebacker for this team. What I didn’t realize was his lack of pass rushing ability. Why a team would draft an off-ball linebacker – and not even a middle linebacker at that – with the 4th overall pick, is beyond me. But, that’s how great of a prospect he was at the time. He was the consensus “safest pick of the draft”. Plug & play. No worries here!

And then we just got nothing in return. Two and a half years of dud-ery, then somehow we traded him to the Raiders for a couple low-end draft picks.

If I had to give an honorable mention, I’d say I was pretty high on the Percy Harvin trade. That just felt like another one where there was no way to screw it up. Harvin was a superstar talent. We were in a position where the team was already built up considerably, so we had the excess salary cap room and draft capital to spend. It felt like the rich getting richer; instead, it was the beginning of the end.

What absolutely doesn’t belong is the Jimmy Graham deal. I didn’t like that one nearly as much as the Harvin deal. Mostly because we lost Max Unger, but also because Graham wasn’t a blocker whatsoever, and we’ve never thrown it enough to make him a viable weapon.

I probably should’ve been more wary of the Jamal Adams deal, but he seemed like another no-brainer sort of talent. No way I saw his injury issues coming. And no way I saw us falling as flat as we did in 2021.

And for good measure, I was pretty high on both Sheldon Richardson and Jadeveon Clowney when they were brought in. Seemed pretty low-risk/high-reward. Get a couple of motivated pass rushers on one-year deals, and either we sign them to an extension, or we let them walk and get a big, fat compensatory pick. Except, surprise! They were both already on the downside of their careers, they did nothing much in Seattle, and they never got those big money deals with other teams. In other words, they walked for nothing, and we were no better for having had them.

I should probably have pointed out by now that the ACTUAL answer to this question is unquestionably Geno Smith. If you told me before 2021 that Geno Smith would eventually replace Russell Wilson, and go on to have a better season than him – at ANY point in their respective careers – I would’ve thought you were a fucking psychopath drug addict. Even if you told me – this time last year – that Geno Smith would not only win the starting quarterback job, but would go on to play at a Pro Bowl level, and earn a potential big-money extension in 2023 and beyond (even with the incentives at work), I would’ve thought you were nuts. There’s no world where I would’ve envisioned a successful Geno Smith.

Now, granted, what has he done? Led a team to a 9-8 record and a first round exit in the playoffs. There are LOTS of quarterbacks who could’ve done that. Hell, Matt Schaub and Andy Dalton made entire careers out of that kind of “success”. But, my opinion of Geno Smith was so low prior to last season, that I legitimately believed Drew Lock was destined to be our starter last year. That’s a thing I not only believed, but was convinced about!

I legitimately don’t know who would be #2 on the list of players I had absolutely zero faith in whatsoever, who went on to greatness. Jarred Kelenic is somewhere in the ballpark, but he’s still young enough that his 2023 improvement isn’t a total shock. I mean, with Geno, it’s not just a matter of having no belief in him, but his presence was met with utter contempt! I couldn’t stand the thought of him taking snaps on this team. I only begrudgingly accepted him as Russell Wilson’s backup because Russ never took any plays off.

And therein lies the rub. Usually, I develop contempt for players only after they’ve sucked for my team. I don’t often have contempt for a player that then subsequently joins my team. And, by and large, any player who has stunk, comes to Seattle and continues to stink. This type of turnaround in my opinion doesn’t happen easily with me. Which is why Geno is such a rare case.

If we’re taking Geno off the table as too obvious, I’m sticking with Aaron Curry as my pick. Honorable mention for someone who isn’t a player at all: Pete Carroll.

As soon as the Seahawks introduced Pete Carroll as their head coach and really the head honcho alongside John Schneider (in other words, not under the GM like most coaches, and having final say over personnel), I thought this was a panic move of desperation by an organization that gave up on Mike Holmgren too early, and clearly reserved the franchise for the wrong coach in Jim Mora Jr. There’s no way in a million years that I expected Pete Carroll to be worth a damn in the NFL. Not after the way he flamed out in the 90’s. Not after the bevy of college coaches who have made the jump and failed miserably (perhaps no one more miserably than Nick Saban, who went on to supersonic success after going to Alabama from the Dolphins).

You could argue – if we included coaches – I was most wrong about Pete Carroll as the Seahawks’ head coach. What’s funny is that a lot of fans were right there with me at the time, and a lot of fans continue to doubt his abilities to this day. I don’t know how smart that is.

At this point, the 2023 Seahawks might have the biggest collection of Nobody Believed In Us personnel of any team in the NFL. Nobody believes in this defense. Nobody believes in the coaching staff (ehh, some might believe in Shane Waldron, but certainly no one believes in Hurtt or Carroll). People stopped believing in John Schneider for a while there. Geno Smith obviously overcame a mountain of haters. Lockett and Metcalf were overlooked by a lot of teams in their respective drafts. Even JSN fell to 20, when he might be a Top 10 talent. If the power of nobody believing in you was something that translated into the win/loss column, I’d say the Seahawks are Super Bowl contenders on that alone!

Of course, that’s not really a thing, and I don’t actually think the Seahawks are Super Bowl contenders. But, I’m more than happy to be proven wrong!

The Seahawks Might Have Drafted The Best Cornerback & Wide Receiver In The First Round

It’s funny how my Seahawks fandom led me astray in this draft. Like a lot of people, I had REAL tunnel vision when it came to the first round of this draft, and especially with the #5 pick. I never legitimately believed we’d take a quarterback there, but I left that door open a crack just in case. Really, what I expected was we’d take the best defensive lineman available. Either Will Anderson (if he was still there) or Jalen Carter/Tyree Wilson (whoever the team believed in more). As many expected, the Texans drafted Will Anderson; as literally no one expected, they drafted him AFTER they also took C.J. Stroud (when they traded up with Arizona for the #3 pick). Other than that, the top 4 went chalk: Bryce Young #1 to the Panthers and Anthony Richardson #4 to the Colts. Will Levis is somewhere still sliding harder than a fireman on a greased up fire pole.

What I didn’t do before the draft was put one ounce of effort into studying first round cornerbacks or wide receivers. What’s the point? The Seahawks never take a receiver before the second round, and never take a corner before the third!

There’s two ways to look at this draft for the Seahawks so far: you’re either with us or against us. You’re either a fan of your team taking the Best Player Available, or you’re not. There are normally 32 picks in the first round of an NFL Draft; this year there was 31 because the Dolphins got dinged for tampering and lost their pick. However, that doesn’t mean there are 30+ players with “first round grades” heading into a draft. Usually there’s anywhere from 12-18 or so, true, legitimate blue chippers. This year’s class was deemed to be weak in comparison to recent drafts, so the odds of the Seahawks getting two elite players with first round grades – when their second pick was #20 – seemed pretty remote.

I would call this draft a qualified success, because the Seahawks got two players with true first round grades. But, obviously, the Seahawks didn’t address their greatest need (the defensive front seven), and that might come back to haunt them.

You can’t be a football fan and not have heard some chatter about Devon Witherspoon, cornerback from Illinois (our pick at #5). Really, all I knew heading into the draft was that he was one of the best cornerbacks in this draft, he excelled in press coverage, and he was elite against the run. As soon as I heard that, I thought, “Well, he sounds like an ideal Pete Carroll cornerback; too bad he’ll be gone by the time we take our first corner of this draft!”

He’s 6’0, 180-something pounds. Notably – in the post-round interviews – Pete Carroll compared him to Troy Polamalu, which is incredibly high praise. It’s hard not to be a fan of his style of play, I think he’ll fit in beautifully with what the Seahawks want to do on defense. That being said, he doesn’t strike me as a Sauce Gardner type. He’s not far-and-away the best cornerback in this draft (even though he was picked first, and would probably get the most first place votes). Washington and New England both took cornerbacks at 16 and 17 respectively who are in the conversation (particularly the Oregon guy, who I’d also heard rumblings about pre-draft).

The big question with Witherspoon will be: is he a lockdown corner? Or is he just a good all-around athlete? Is he a Richard Sherman, or a Shawn Springs? Say what you will about Springs, but he was never a lockdown guy; he was fine.

Of note to Seahawks fans in the market for a defensive lineman, Tyree Wilson ended up going #7 to the Raiders and Jalen Carter went #9 to the Eagles (of course). It’s interesting how the defensive end market shook out, because there were a number of quality names still available by the time the draft got to #20. I don’t know if these guys are going to be worth a damn as pros, but names I’d heard about pre-draft included Myles Murphy (28th to the Bengals), Nolan Smith (30th to the Eagles, of course), and Felix Anudike-Uzomah (31st to the Chiefs). There were also a couple of semi-interesting defensive tackles taken after we picked, including Mazi Smith (26th to the Cowboys) and Bryan Bresee (29th to the Saints). We’ll have to keep our eyes on those guys, and just imagine what they might’ve looked like in Seahawks uniforms.

At some point in the run-up to #20, I tweeted out how I thought it would be funny if the Seahawks continued to buck their organizational trends by taking “that amazing tight end” with our other first round pick. Dalton Kincaid was who I was referring to; he ended up getting selected by the Bills at 25. Nevertheless, we did buck trends, but went wide receiver instead.

Jaxon Smith-Njigba is more-or-less the consensus best receiver in this class, at least heading in. But, kinda like our cornerback pick, JSN doesn’t sound like a grand slam, no doubter home run, a la Ja’Marr Chase or Justin Jefferson. Maybe just a half-step down.

He’s 6’1, 196 pounds. He was the very best Ohio State wide receiver in 2021, before a hamstring injury severely limited his 2022 season. He can play anywhere – inside and outside – he has great hands, he gets open. He’s going to be a BIG asset for this team. I’ve heard him being compared to Doug Baldwin, which: sign me up! I wonder if he’s like a blend of both Tyler Lockett and D.K. Metcalf. I love the pick already for what he’s going to mean to this offense on third downs, but I’ll be curious to see what his high-end potential is on big plays downfield. A non-crazy Antonio Brown is the ceiling you’re looking for. I imagine the floor is – as always – Nelson Agholor.

Here’s the thing with these two picks: it doesn’t matter if you’re in the Best Player Available camp or the Draft For Need camp, because cornerback and wide receiver ARE needs for this team.

Sure, Tariq Woolen and Coby Bryant were drafted last year and made names for themselves as rookies. But, we still needed a starter opposite Woolen who isn’t Mike Jackson. I would also argue that Woolen is more of a cover corner, and not necessarily a guy who lowers the boom on opposing players. I cringe every time I see Woolen try to tackle a running back. We needed to throw a wild animal into our secondary. Devon Witherspoon is going to learn so much from the likes of not only Woolen, but Quandre Diggs, Julian Love, and even Jamal Adams (for the half a game he’s healthy for).

And I would argue – in spite of having two 1,000-yard receivers in Metcalf and Lockett – the Seahawks had a bigger need for a third receiver than they did for another corner. Are you as sick and tired of Dee Eskridge as I am? Are you over these 1-year retreads like Marquise Goodwin? Are you looking for a little more than a 6th/7th rounder or an undrafted guy, like Freddie Swain, Dareke Young, or Penny Hart?

Three-receiver sets are the norm nowadays, even with a team that runs as much as the Seahawks do. The fullback is out. You’re either going with a third receiver or a second tight end. So, there’s going to be no shortage of plays for JSN on the field in this offense. He gives us probably the best wide receiver room in football (certainly in the NFC anyway), he’s insurance in case Metcalf or Lockett get banged up, and he’ll help us replenish for when Tyler Lockett one day decides to hang ’em up. Sure, Lockett is signed through 2025, he keeps his body in shape, and he’s careful about not taking brutal hits. But, he’s 31 this year. There’s a potential out in his contract before 2024, so you never know when it’s all going to come to an end for an older player. Waiting until after Lockett is gone to replenish the wide receiver room sounds like a terrible idea. Get a rookie in there now, have him learn from Lockett while he still can, and now you’ve really maximized that pick!

Granted, even though the Seahawks did draft for need, they weren’t the most pressing needs. To that, I say, let’s see what happens over the next couple days. Should be quite interesting.

My Favorite Seattle-Based Athletes, Part 1

Ahh yes, we’re in one of those dead periods of the sports calendar (unless your team happens to be in the Super Bowl, or you’re super-jazzed by what they’re doing with the Pro Bowl nowadays); it’s a struggle to find things to write about. So, to kill some time, I thought I’d write about my favorite Seattle athletes, both college and pros.

These aren’t necessarily people who were born and/or raised in the Seattle area (although, they could be). These are people who played their respective sports – either in college or as professionals – in Seattle. We’re talking Seahawks, Mariners, Supersonics, and Huskies. For this exercise, I went through each team and picked my favorite five guys. I’ll write a little bit about each, then we’ll narrow it down to a top ten overall, then we’ll see if we’re able to rank those. I don’t expect this to be easy.

I should point out – for frame of reference – that I didn’t really start getting into sports until 1987 or 1988, with the 90’s being my heyday. I got into the Seahawks first, then the Sonics in the early 90’s, then the Mariners in 1995, and it wasn’t until I started going to UW in the fall of 1999 when I truly became a Husky fan. This isn’t a ranking of the All Time Best Seattle Athletes. These are just MY favorites. If they’re not your favorites, I don’t care. Go start your own blog; they’re not too hard to make.

Mariners

  • Felix Hernandez
  • Randy Johnson
  • Ken Griffey Jr.
  • Ichiro
  • Alex Rodriguez

Spoiler alert: Felix and Randy are making my Top 10, so I’ll write more about them later. It feels corny as hell to have Griffey in my top five favorite Mariners, but I don’t know how you leave him off. He balled out in the outfield, making insane catches and throws, and he was one of the best home run hitters of all time. You couldn’t take your eyes off of him when he was doing whatever it was he was doing, even if it was just chuckling with teammates in the dugout. I would say over time, the bloom came off the rose with Ichiro, but those first few years, he was a force of nature. You couldn’t believe what you were seeing out of this magnetic little guy, with his cannon of an arm, and his ability to beat out seemingly-routine grounders. Eventually, he became a slap-hitting singles guy who never dove for balls and whose arm stopped being challenged by baserunners. But, for a while there, he was all we had. A common theme going forward is going to be how tough I had it trying to pick a fifth favorite. Edgar was just boringly amazing. Buhner was certainly a terrific personality. And there were plenty of quietly-excellent guys around the turn of the century. But, A-Rod was a guy who could do it all, at least as long as he wore a Mariners uniform. Power, speed, defense (at the most premium defensive spot on the team), great eye, great average. We somehow brought in a guy who could legitimately push Griffey as the best player on the team. Say what you will about his exit from Seattle, but even then, it was fun to root against him on other teams.

Seahawks

  • Marshawn Lynch
  • Kam Chancellor
  • Steve Largent
  • Russell Wilson
  • Richard Sherman

Spoiler alert: Lynch, Kam, and Largent are all making my Top 10. The Seahawks were tough in a different way, because I could’ve gone 20 deep in this preliminary list; it was difficult to limit it to just five. Cortez Kennedy, Shaun Alexander, Matt Hasselbeck, Joey Galloway, Earl Thomas, Michael Bennett, Ricky Watters, Brian Blades, Bobby Wagner, Michael Sinclair, Jacob Green, Lofa Tatupu, Walter Jones, Doug Baldwin. You could go on and on and on. But, in spite of recent schadenfreude, Russell Wilson was still a super fun quarterback to watch and root for on a weekly basis. In his prime, he would regularly pull our asses out of the fire late in games, and even late in plays as he’d avoid the pass rush in order to make some insane throw down field. Sherm ended up landing my fifth spot simply because of his personality. You could always tell what kind of shit he was talking even if he wasn’t mic’ed up on the field. If teams had the misfortune of trying to challenge him, they’d often find that plan thwarted real quick. Even later in his career – after quarterbacks by and large stopped throwing his way – it was always comforting knowing half the field was closed for business.

Supersonics

  • Shawn Kemp
  • Gary Payton
  • Detlef Schrempf
  • Sam Perkins
  • Nate McMillan

Spoiler alert: Kemp and Payton are in my Top 10. You’ll notice the top four listed here were the top four in minutes played in that amazing 1995/1996 season (and that all five were on that team in major roles). The fifth guy came down to Mac-10, Ray Allen, Dale Ellis, Hersey Hawkins, and Rashard Lewis, but I’ll always have a soft spot for Mr. Sonic. For a lot of reasons, but I’ll never forget how banged up he was in those Finals against the Bulls. Yet, he came back and played a critical role in our winning games four and five. I’ll always believe that a healthy Nate would’ve propelled us to the upset to end all upsets against those juggernaut Bulls. Detlef was a consummate pro and a perfect complement to Gary and Shawn’s theatrics. And Big Smooth – for that nickname alone – very nearly made my Top 10. Just a stud of a big man who drained threes like nobody’s business (at a time in league history where that was an extreme rarity, unlike today where it’s the norm).

Husky Basketball

  • Isaiah Thomas
  • Jon Brockman
  • Nate Robinson
  • Brandon Roy
  • Matisse Thybulle

Spoiler alert: only IT makes my Top 10 from here. If I had to pick a second, I’d go with Brockman, who was a great all-around forward under Romar. He got better every year in a complementary role, and as a senior really picked up and led this team in ways we wouldn’t have expected from him as a freshman. Nate Rob was super flashy and fun to watch. Roy probably had the best game of all of them, but was one of those boringly-excellent players (who, unfortunately, could never stay healthy as a pro). And Thybulle really got unlocked under Mike Hopkins, in probably the only good thing he’s done as a coach of the Huskies. Honorable mention goes to Terrell Brown, for being super fun to watch game-in and game-out last year.

Husky Football

  • Marques Tuiasosopo
  • Reggie Williams
  • John Ross
  • Budda Baker
  • Michael Penix

Spoiler alert: Tui and Reggie both made my Top 10. If there was a Top 11, John Ross would be in it. Nothing more fun than my friends and I screaming JOHN ROSS at the tops of our lungs whenever he corralled a 40+ yard bomb for a touchdown. My love for Budda Baker started when he flipped from the Ducks to the Huskies. Then, he proceeded to ball out for us for three of the best teams we’ve ever had, before becoming one of the pros I most wanted the Seahawks to draft. We let him go to the Cardinals and part of me has never forgiven them for it. Consider this the kiss of death for Penix’s 2023 season, as I’ve surely jinxed him. But, he might be the best and most pro-ready quarterback I’ve ever seen in a Husky uniform. As someone who stepped in right away this past season and led us to double-digit wins – including a bowl victory over the Longhorns – it’s a remarkable feat, even if he is a transfer. Penix obviously gets extra credit for choosing to return for a second season – when he easily could’ve gone pro and been at least a Day 2 draft pick, if not a sneaky first rounder – and of course for all the Big Penix Energy jokes my friends and I get to rattle off. If he parlays this into a conference title in 2023, I wouldn’t be shocked if he’s able to sneak into my Top 10 by this time next year.

Tomorrow: my top 10.

The Seahawks Drafted More Non-Quarterbacks On Day Three

The next few years of Seahawks football are going to be greatly dictated by how well these players pan out. Whether anyone wants to admit it or not, the Seahawks are in Rebuilding Mode. Now, this isn’t your grandfather’s Rebuilding Mode; it shouldn’t have to take a decade to get back to the promised land if you do things right. But, by foresaking the quarterback position in this draft – leaving us with Geno Smith, Drew Lock, and We’ll See – my expert analysis is that the Seahawks are planning on finding their quarterback of the future in the 2023 NFL Draft.

As they should.

So, what does that mean for 2022? Well, that means building up the roster around the quarterback position. Constructing this warm and fuzzy protective cocoon, where a rookie QB in 2023 can step right in and at least give us competence. How many careers have been derailed because a rookie quarterback’s confidence was destroyed by a terrible offensive line, or a lack of weapons to get the football to? Sometimes, if your team is truly terrible, you have no choice but to take that quarterback (usually #1 overall) and hope for the best. But, I’d rather do what I suspect the Seahawks are doing now, and hold off for a year until a better opportunity presents itself.

In the process of building up the roster around the quarterback position, that means returning to the mantra of Always Compete. Letting anyone and everyone participate in fighting for starting jobs. Coaching them up, throwing them out there in live NFL games, and seeing who rises to the top and who needs to be cut. The Seahawks have drafted a class for this express purpose. The more starters we find, the better the team will be going forward. The more blue chip superstars we find, the likelier it’ll be that we can return to a championship level.

I’m pretty confident we’ve got our Day 1 starting left tackle in Cross. I’m guessing he’ll be fine. I’m also pretty confident – with Abe Lucas at least as competition for the spot – we’ve locked down our right tackle position, either with him or Jake Curhan. I’m guessing they’ll also be fine. Walker will likely back up Rashaad Penny at first, but I think at some point he’ll take over and at least be a quality rotational running back, if not an outright stud. And, I think the floor for Boye Mafe is Alton Robinson. I hope he’s significantly BETTER than Alton Robinson, but he’ll at least be NFL-ready to step in there and contribute in some capacity.

There’s a floor there with all of the picks from the first two days of the draft where they’re at least contributing to the team. There’s also, of course, a ceiling that could be off the charts, depending on how they fit within our system and how the coaching staff gets them to improve.

But, it’s the Day 3 picks where we could see some dividends. How did we build up that last Seahawks championship squad? Lots of success in the 4th-7th rounds. I’ll go in order, for those who forgot: Walter Thurmond, Kam Chancellor, Anthony McCoy, K.J. Wright, Richard Sherman, Byron Maxwell, Malcolm Smith, Robert Turbin, Jeremy Lane, J.R. Sweezy, Luke Willson. To say nothing of the undrafted guys we selected from 2010-2013 who contributed greatly to what we were doing.

It’s handy that the Seahawks took cornerbacks back-to-back in this draft, because I’d like to talk about them together. Bryant won the Jim Thorpe Award in 2021 for the best defensive back in football. He played at Cincinnati opposite Sauce Gardner, which means that teams probably avoided Gardner’s side like the plague, and therefore Bryant had ample opportunities to defend the pass. Why he fell to the fourth round, then, is a mystery.

Bryant is certainly the more polished cornerback between him and Woolen. He seems to be a higher floor/lower ceiling type of player. It wouldn’t shock me to see him contribute right away, but I fully expect him to see considerable snaps as the season progresses. Woolen, on the other hand, looks like a fascinating prospect whose floor could be as a training camp cut, but whose ceiling could be as an All Pro.

6’4, 4.26 40-yard dash, 42-inch vertical. This guys looks like an athletic freak. He’s also, notably, a former wide receiver who converted to corner just a few years ago. His skills are raw and there are liabilities in his game as it currently stands that may prevent him from ever making a dent in the league. That being said, if he works at it, and the team is able to unlock his potential – with the athleticism he already possesses – he could be an absolute monster. There’s a lot to clean up, though, so I wouldn’t bank on it.

If the Seahawks just drafted bookend starters at cornerback to go with bookend starters at offensive tackle, I’d say we’re in good shape for the next half-decade or so. If the Seahawks just found one eventual starting cornerback in this class, I’d say they did their job well. If neither of these guys pan out, then I think we have a serious problem. Because, either we brought in the next Tre Flowers – who we’re forced to start because we have no better alternatives – or we have to go back to the drawing board next year (with Sidney Jones on a 1-year deal, and with Tre Brown still a big question mark).

Just as I’m not holding my breath for Boye Mafe in the second round, I’m not convinced Tyreke Smith will be much of anything either. I know elite pass rushers exist from outside the Top 5 of the NFL Draft, but it seems like those guys are total unicorns. Even with someone like Darrell Taylor – who I’m very happy with – he had to miss a year due to injury, and even then wasn’t, like, a Pro Bowler or anything in 2021. He was fine. He showed potential to be even better, but we’ll see if that comes to fruition.

I would project both Mafe and Smith as third down pass rushing specialists, especially as rookies. I wouldn’t expect either to be very good against the run, though Mafe at least has a better track record in that regard. Smith seems like a blind dart throw. Alton Robinson is probably his ceiling, but his floor is probably a special teamer who rarely – if ever – sees a snap on defense.

I don’t know what to say about Bo Melton or Dareke Young, the 7th round receivers we brought in. Melton seems to have a slot receiver build, but I don’t even know if that’s his forte or not. Young is a much taller receiver from a small school who probably projects more as special teams help. Of the two, Melton probably has the better chance of seeing offensive snaps, but let’s not kid ourselves here. We have quite the depth chart going so far, with Lockett, Metcalf, Swain, and Eskridge/Hart all having experience.

If anything, I wonder what this says about Eskridge’s status. He didn’t show a lot as a rookie last year, though a concussion saw to it that he wasn’t able to play a ton. Nevertheless, when he was in there, he didn’t make much of an impact. I don’t know if Melton plays a similar style or not (word is Young actually has played all around the offense in college, even taking handoffs on the regular, like a taller version of Deebo Samuel), but it’ll be interesting to see the pressure on Eskridge and how he responds.

That being said, probably don’t count on these rookie receivers to do much of anything AS rookies. Just take it as a win if they even make the team.

The 2022 draft class by the Seahawks will be defined by the top six guys we selected. The better those players are, the better our chances will be to turn this thing around in a hurry. If they struggle, though, it could be a long, dark period in our immediate future.

Richard Sherman Is Irrelevant

I don’t like to get worked up over podcasts I don’t listen to. Maybe that’s me showing my age or my maturity, I guess (no Humblebrag Guy), but this is definitely something I would’ve written the kind of review about that Salk did here. I can only believe mine would’ve been 50% more scathing, with an infinitely higher percentage of F-bombs.

What I gather – from what I’ve read and the bits I’ve heard – is this was a conversation where Richard Sherman was defending his very good friend Bobby Wagner. I’m assuming they’re very good friends, I actually have no idea. It seems like it would be exhausting to be Richard Sherman’s friend. But, whatever, there’s a very real truth to the concept that players are like brothers. When they’ve gone through it, worked and sacrificed and fought for one another, they become more than just friends. There’s a shared trauma being a professional athlete. You deal with personal injury, you deal with the highs and lows of wins and losses, you deal with the day-in/day-out grunt work of The Grind, you deal with the media and their incessant questioning of your decision-making and your dedication to the game you love (and are compensated for handsomely), and you deal with the fans (who are fairweather and fickle by their very nature).

What I also gather – again, from what I’ve read and the bits I’ve heard – is that I’m supposed to be outraged, as a fan, because Richard Sherman took shots at us. At the 12’s in particular, not just football fans in general.

I dunno, man. Why do I care about the opinions of some washed up football player as he transitions his career from active player to passive media maven?

I’m I pretty big believer in the whole motto of Don’t Meet Your Heroes, because usually the more you learn about them, the less you’re going to like them. Hero is a strong word, of course; you probably should reexamine some things if professional athletes are your heroes past the age of 15 or so. But, the sentiment is there just the same. The more I’ve learned about Richard Sherman, the less likable he’s become. And that’s not even taking into account his depression-fuelled drunk driving meltdown last year; that just made me feel sorry for him for a while. He doesn’t seem like a very good person, though; the impression I get from his words and actions leads me to believe he’s a gaslighting narcissist with just enough self-loathing in his private moments to make you wonder what else is going on in that brain of his, no doubt brilliant but also probably riddled with CTE thanks to the pounding it’s taken on the football field.

I’ve said from the very beginning, Sherm is the kind of player who you absolutely adore when he’s on your team, but you despise him if you’re a fan of the other 31 teams in the NFL. I still stand by that. Richard Sherman was among the best of the very best to play his position for seven seasons with the Seattle Seahawks, the absolute prime of his career. He’s one of the greatest of all time, and deserves to be in the Hall of Fame one day. I’ll always have fond memories of what he did here and how those contributions helped take this team to unforeseen heights.

But, he hasn’t been a Seahawk since 2017. And, other than the few times he’s gone up against the Seahawks on the football field, I haven’t cared about what he’s said or done in the interim; why should that change now? He’s a memory. That’s what I choose to focus on. Post-Seahawks Richard Sherman was an okay football player on some pretty good teams. Now that he’s (presumably) Post-Football Richard Sherman, he’s just another talking head troll looking to get a rise out of as many people as possible. Which puts him on two tracks going forward: either he’s a Stephen A. Smith/Skip Bayless type of sports-talking head, or he’s a politician/cable news pundit. I have zero interest in any of that.

I will say this: he’s not wrong that we were spoiled by what those L.O.B. teams were able to achieve for the Seahawks. But, he’s very wrong with his opinions about his very good friend Bobby Wagner. Wagner isn’t as washed up as Richard Sherman is, but he’s getting there. As it stands now, Wagner is – as I’ve said before – easily the most overpaid player on the team, and they would be wise to shed themselves of that salary, to build up the other spots that are lacking.

That’s not easy for a fan to say, by the way. We’ve spent a decade rooting and cheering for this guy. But, Richard Sherman knows this as well as anyone: football is a business. And fans are in the business of rooting for a winner. At some point, loyalty to the team trumps loyalty to the players, if they’re not performing to their percentage of the salary cap. But, don’t forget: just as players don’t always get what they want, neither do fans.

Anyway, enough of that. Time will tell who’s right and who’s wrong. Considering the Seahawks haven’t won jack shit in all this time we’ve been clinging to an overpaid and underperforming Bobby Wagner – to the detriment of our pass rush – I’m betting that I’m right. That the segment of the fanbase who feels the way I do on the matter are right.

As for Richard Sherman, I wish him well in his future endeavors, because I still remember him as the player who was a vital cog on this championship team. I eagerly await his return to the fold, where we put him in the Ring of Honor. Until then, I’ll save his podcast for others who are more prone to devour rage-bait.

The Seahawks Looked Dreadful In A Pre-Season Loss To The Broncos

In yet another game where no starters played, we saw an offense that couldn’t do a God damn thing, and a defense that was somehow both better and worse than it was a week ago. Again, I don’t know what you can glean from a performance like this, other than the depth on the Seahawks might be a HUGE problem. Don’t get injured, good starters!

On top of Wilson taking another week off, the Seahawks also kept Geno Smith safely stashed on the sidelines. Alex McGough got the start and had three horrific turnovers in his half of play; clearly not a great way to stay on this particular team. Sean Mannion looked marginally better by comparison, but averaged a measly 5.1 yards per attempt against Broncos 3rd and 4th stringers, so …

Still nothing from the running game. 74 total yards on 24 carries. Still no real standouts in the passing game, as the ball was spread to 12 different receivers.

On defense, I don’t know how you can heap too much praise on a unit that gave up 30 points. Sure, McGough (and some shaky O-Line play) put us behind the 8-ball in some of those drives. But the Broncos were allowed to convert 3/4 fourth down plays; the Seahawks, by comparison, converted 0/4 fourth downs.

I saw Jordyn Brooks make some nice plays. Nick Bellore is a fun story: a fullback playing significant linebacker minutes. Rasheem Green had another sack and looked pretty active. I think our defensive tackle rotation – particularly from a run stuffing perspective – will be a big strength when we settle on the three or four primary guys.

The secondary looked pretty weak. That’s, obviously, a big concern. It’s less of a concern when our defensive line does its job and harasses the quarterback. But, when our guys get stuffed, we’re going to need the cornerbacks to actually cover guys and make plays on the ball. I don’t know if they’re talented enough to do that. I don’t think any of the cornerbacks who played on Saturday are starting calibre. Considering D.J. Reed appears to be the only guy worth a damn – and he’s out with injury – that’s pretty scary as a Seahawks fan. Are we SURE Richard Sherman is a no-go this season? We couldn’t sign him to an incentive-laden deal based on games played?

The Player of the Game, non-Michael Dickson Edition, was DeeJay Dallas. He had two phenomenal kickoff returns, including one that went 45 yards. When you combine that with his 3 catches for 27 yards, he looked like one of the VERY few players on the Seahawks who belonged on an NFL field. He looked fast! So much improvement over a season ago! It makes me wonder if he hasn’t earned a leapfrog over Rashaad Penny (who managed all of 8 rushing yards on 5 carries).

As for Dickson himself, the turnovers prevented us from punting as much as we’d like (WHAT A SENTENCE TO WRITE!), but he had a long of 61 yards and landed both of his kicks inside the 20 yard line. MVP, baby!

Shaquill Griffin Signed With The Jaguars

I’m going to refrain from the more infuriating Seahawks-affiliated rumors and instead talk about this. Shaquill Griffin signed with the Jags for 3 years and $44.5 million.

It’s noteworthy, of course, because the Seahawks selected Griffin in the third round of the 2017 NFL draft and immediately made him a starter at cornerback. And, he was competent from the get-go! If I had to rate him among other Seahawks cornerbacks, I’d say he was better than Marcus Trufant and worse than Richard Sherman; both make pretty good company as far as starting-calibre cornerbacks are concerned, so I would say his Seahawks career was a success.

I think where the trouble lies as far as his reputation is concerned is the fact that he was essentially drafted as the replacement for Richard Sherman. They, in fact, shared a field for part of Griffin’s rookie year, but by that point Sherm’s days were numbered given his attitude towards management and various players on the team. Sherman is a Hall of Famer, almost certainly on the first ballot (unless his personality costs him some votes, which is entirely possible), so that’s a hard one to have to live up to.

Griffin’s coverage skills were his best attribute. I wouldn’t say he was a “lockdown” kind of guy, but he was in a tier just below it, with nice recovery speed. Quarterbacks tended to avoid his side of the field, particularly when he did take over for Sherman in 2018 and beyond.

But, he has 6 career interceptions in 4 seasons. That’s nobody’s idea of a Top Of The Game cornerback. And, to the NFL’s credit, he’s earning the money of a Tier Two guy. Not that the league has a ton of money available, but the Jags sure do (or did, after a flurry of moves yesterday and today), and it would’ve been easy to see a team like Jacksonville overpay a ton of guys to get good in a hurry (as they have the #1 overall pick and look to totally rebuild their franchise).

This wasn’t a shock. What was more shocking than anything was hearing that the Seahawks were trying to make a serious play for Griffin. In the end, it doesn’t sound like we were very close at all, off by maybe $10-$15 million in overall value. But, given our cap constraints, the fact that we have viable starters still on the team (making significantly less money), and the fact that we have cheaper options who won’t be much of a downgrade at all available in free agency, it makes sense to let Griffin get paid elsewhere on his second contract. If this were a normal year, with our salary cap shooting over $200 million, I think the Seahawks would’ve given Griffin a deal like this in a heartbeat. But, having $20 million less to spend, you’ve gotta cut corners somewhere.

Of course, cutting corners here – while spending exorbitant amounts of money on bringing K.J. Wright back, or signing a free agent running back – is exactly what’s making me and the rest of Seahawks fandom so insanely outraged. This bullshit, meanwhile the O-Line and pass rush continues to get neglected, even though we fucking KNOW what they mean to the success of this team. It’s utter fucking lunacy!

Seahawks Death Week: Guys To Cut Or Let Walk

I’ve ranted and raved (mostly just ranted, while offending poor Shrimpy), and I’ve talked about why the Seahawks are not likely to be blown up (but probably should be). Now, let’s get down to brass tacks and talk specific guys I never want to see again in a Seahawks uniform (unless it’s as a civilian raising the 12th Man Flag one day).

So, here’s the deal: the 2021 NFL salary cap is projected to be approximately $176 million. The 2020 cap was an all-time high of approximately $198 million. It had been going up – since 2013 – $10 million to $12 million per year, with no end in sight given how profitable the league is in the United States and increasingly around the world. It’s the top-rated program on television, generating tons of ad revenue, which makes the rights deals with networks astronomical, and all teams share in the profits (making the NFL, essentially, a socialist entity, and a large percentage of its fans supporters of socialism in a way; but that’s neither here nor there). However, given the pandemic (and the lack of fans allowed to attend games in person), a serious chunk of revenue was lost for the 2020 season (and possibly part of the 2021 season, depending on how the vaccine rollout goes). As such, every team lost approximately $22 million dollars to spend on players.

This hurts a team like the Seahawks more than most. Ever since, probably, 2015 or so, the Seahawks have been up against the salary cap limit every single year. NFL teams can roll over any unspent cap money into the following year; we haven’t been able to do that, since we’re paying our existing players (and a small number of former players) all of that money. With our superstar players – Russell Wilson, obviously, at the top – accounting for such a high percentage of our salary cap, the Seahawks have had to make due by filling out the bottom two thirds of our roster with rookies and veterans making the minimum.

At the time of this writing, the Seahawks’ salary cap figure for 2021 already sits at approximately $162 million of our projected $176 million. That accounts for 35 players under contract, when we have to fill out a regular season roster of 53 players, plus a practice squad (somewhere between 10-16 players, depending on what the league decides in the offseason), plus money left over for replacement players making the league minimum when our regular roster guys hit the Injured Reserve.

Clearly, moves will need to be made. Players will need to be cut. And, 2020 guys whose contracts have expired will be thanked for their services and allowed to sign elsewhere. The following are the guys I hope – as I said before – to never see again on a playing field with the Seattle Seahawks.

I don’t have a lot of cuts. Really, it’s probably just one guy: Bobby Wagner. So, let’s start there.

Wagner is set to count over $17 million against our cap in 2021. He also just earned his sixth First Team All Pro honor. So, why would you cut a guy playing at such a high level? Well, I would argue the eye test says he’s on the downside of his career, and he’s only going to get worse from here. If we cut him now, it’s only $7.5 million in dead money we have to endure, which is nearly $10 million in savings (minus whatever minimal amount we’d pay to whoever replaces him on the roster). I would argue, given how cash-strapped we are, we HAVE to cut Wagner, just to fill out our roster! But, I would also argue that the difference between Wagner and a replacement-level player (or Wagner and Jordyn Brooks, if he happens to slide over to the middle linebacker spot) is not as great as you’d think. It’s certainly not worth the extra $10 million we’d be paying a 31 year old Wagner.

Unfortunately, what with him being a surefire NFL Hall of Famer and a guy whose jersey number the Seahawks will surely retire one day, I don’t see that happening. Maybe AFTER the 2021 season – when the dead cap figure is only $3.75 million – but even then, who knows? It could get REALLY frustrating trying to root for this guy the next couple years; here’s to hoping that the Seahawks do the smart thing – the unemotional thing – and let us all go out on a high note, rather than letting the relationship sour like so many others before (Earl Thomas, Richard Sherman, Michael Bennett, Kam Chancellor, Cliff Avril – the last two due to career-ending injuries, but still a financial drain to this organization).

Two other candidates are Carlos Dunlap and Duane Brown. Dunlap has zero dead money counting against our cap if we cut him; otherwise, if his contract remains as is, he would be worth a hair over $14 million. That, obviously, isn’t happening. Not to say he isn’t worth it! He really changed the face of this defense when he came over from the Bengals! But, that price is too high for our cap. What I think will happen – given that Dunlap will only be 32 and still highly productive – is that the Seahawks will tear up the contract and sign him to a 3-year deal that’s team-friendly in the first year, with a significant guarantee for 2022, and a signing bonus that can be spread out over the life of the deal (maybe tacking on a non-guaranteed 4th year to make the salary cap right).

As for Brown, he’ll be entering the final year of his extension that would count $13 million against us (with only $2 million in dead money if we cut him). This is another guy I don’t think we can afford to leave as is and let his contract play out. He’ll be 36 years old next year. Now, he too played at a pretty high level in 2020, but if you saw what I saw in that playoff game – with how much difficulty he had in just getting up off the turf and moving around – you’d see a guy who’s not long for this league. At the very least, he’s not someone who will be playing at a high level for very much longer. He’s one knee injury away from his career being over, and that injury could come at any time. The problem is, we have no viable replacement on our roster. Anyone we do have is either injury prone or terrible (particularly as a left tackle). We could sign someone for cheap, but we’ve done that before (in the period post-Russell Okung to pre-Duane Brown, most recently) and it never works out. We could draft someone, but considering we hardly have any draft picks at all – and the ones we do have are QUITE low – anyone we ended up bringing in would be worse than the crappy veterans at our disposal.

Quite frankly, from a talent standpoint, we’re at least a year away from replacing Brown (and that’s assuming we manage to draft his replacement THIS year and hope that guy develops in a hurry). I don’t know what the plan with him was heading into 2020, but I don’t think it was to make him a cap casualty by 2021. On the contrary, I think the Seahawks are setting up to give him yet another extension, for a year or two beyond 2021, which I am absolutely dreading. But, if we want any hope whatsoever to contend next season, we’ll need to pray he can hang on.

***

I’ll close this post with a list of the no-brainers, but first here are some of the … brainers, I guess.

K.J. Wright had a fantastic 2020 season. He’s had a fabulous Seahawks career since we drafted him in 2011! But, he counted $10 million against us this year and that’s just not anywhere near a figure we can approach in 2021. Since I have no belief that the Seahawks will do the right thing with Wagner, then they MUST cut the cord with Wright and make Brooks a full-time linebacker in his second season out of college. Otherwise, why the fuck did you draft him so high in the first place?

Chris Carson’s rookie deal just expired. I won’t say he’s shot, but he’s never NOT going to be injury-prone! Considering how great he’s been when healthy, he’s going to demand a high salary; but since he can’t stay healthy, it makes no sense to pay him that, when we can get similar production from a cheaper guy (who hopefully will be able to stay on the field). I would also say that Carson – while building his reputation as a guy who sought out contact – spent the majority of his time (when he returned from injury this past season) avoiding contact and running out of bounds. Not that I blame him, mind you! He’s gotta get his! But, he’s obviously not the same type of guy when he’s avoiding defenders.

Ethan Pocic earned a little over $1 million as this team’s starting center in the final year of his rookie deal. Presumably, he’ll be looking for a raise if he re-signs. Since he STUNK against the Rams – and since he was average-at-best in all the other games – I see no reason why we couldn’t draft a guy (or even bring in an undrafted free agent) to be our starting center next year.

Shaquill Griffin’s final season under his own rookie deal just expired. He’s a good-not-great coverage corner with little-to-no ball skills and hardly any interceptions on his resume. Nevertheless, he’s going to be looking for a contract near the top of the market (not in the top tier, but definitely in the one right below it). That hypothetically could work under our cap – since the first year of any extension is relatively cheap, with most of the money being back-loaded – but considering the guys we have to pay, and also factoring in an extension for Jamal Adams, I don’t see how the Seahawks fit him in. We have D.J. Reed at less than $1 million, plus Tre Flowers if we have to start him again. I think we’ll get by.

David Moore just earned $1 million in 2020, and that was money well spent. I could see him commanding more money on the open market, and I don’t see why we should be the team to give it to him, since we have Freddie Swain on a rookie contract. For a third/fourth receiver? There are other ways to go.

This probably should go without saying, but I’m going to say it anyway because I feel like it needs to be said: LET GREG OSLEN GO INTO BROADCASTING! Fucking $7 million dollars (*shaking head*).

Jacob Hollister was tendered and kept on at over $3 million. That was unnecessary, and will be even MORE unnecessary in 2021. We have Will Dissly, Colby Parkinson (who we drafted relatively highly in 2020), and any number of youngish guys, as well as Luke Willson (who is always partying on the scrap heap, just waiting for us to bring him back). We don’t use the tight end enough to justify paying as much money as we do on it, not when we mostly need it for blocking purposes. Blocking tight ends are – like linebackers and running backs – another dime-a-dozen position group.

Finally, here are the guys who it should go without saying that we should let walk:

Mike Iupati – great career, but you’re done.

Quinton Dunbar – bust of a trade acquisition, bust of a player, bust of a human being (even if he wasn’t convicted of anything, he still probably did something sketchy).

Lano Hill – please, no more.

Neiko Thorpe – a once-great special teams ace who can’t stay healthy. Salud.

Phillip Dorsett – a nice idea as a free agent, but he never played a down. Wide receivers need healthy feet to be worth a damn.

The Seahawks Still Have Something To Play For In Week 17

For a while there, the Seahawks were renown for the way they closed out seasons. From 2012-2015, the Seahawks were 16-3 in the months of December and early January in the regular season; from 2016-2019, that record has dipped to 11-9. Even in those recent lean years, the Seahawks have been better in the second halves of seasons than in the early going (with one notable exception in 2017, as you’ll see below). Here are some of the crazy streaks the Seahawks have gone on in the Russell Wilson Era:

  • 2012: won 7 of last 8, finished 11-5
  • 2013: won 9 of last 11, finished 13-3
  • 2014: won 9 of last 10, finished 12-4
  • 2015: won 6 of last 7, finished 10-6
  • 2016: won 6 of last 9, finished 10-5-1
  • 2017: won 4 of last 9, finished 9-7
  • 2018: won 6 of last 7, finished 10-6
  • 2019: won 6 of last 9, finished 11-5

So far, with one game to go, the Seahawks have won 3/4 in December, and 5 of our last 6 games. It would be nice to go out on a high note, because as I’ve already written about, the Seahawks do have something to play for.

Also, let’s face it, we have no business losing to these 49ers. They are DECIMATED by injuries! The runners up from the previous season’s Super Bowl are notorious for having underwhelming seasons the following years, but this is truly a sight to behold. Last year’s 49ers were probably the best and most complete team in the NFL. Of course, even at their best, we still somehow managed to hang around until the bitter end. But, either way, there’s no reason why they shouldn’t have continued dominating games in 2020 (not for nothing, but I’m projecting the 49ers to bounce back in a BIG way in 2021).

Except for the fact that, as we head into the final game of the season, they’re missing their top two quarterbacks, their top two wide receivers, their top two or three running backs, at least two or three amazing defensive linemen, who knows how many offensive linemen, and at least Richard Sherman from the secondary. Look, I’m not a 49ers fan, so I don’t have the full rundown of players who have missed time this season, but if any fanbase can claim “bad injury luck” as an excuse, I’ll give it up to … whatever they call themselves (the Moustache Riders?).

He’ll always be the 49er Miner to me …

The Packers and Saints play at the same time as the Seahawks on Sunday. So, it’ll be interesting to see whether or not they get out to big early leads. Obviously, if both the favorites are up by 20 in the first halves of their respective games, there won’t be as much of a need for the Seahawks to go all-out. I would also say, for anyone still trying to come back from injury (I’m looking at you, Brandon Shell), maybe take an extra week and don’t try to push it. But, otherwise, I do think it’s important for the Seahawks to come out here and put a complete and dominant game on film, if for nothing else than the confidence boost it will mean as we head into the playoffs next week.

Priority Number One, of course, is to stay healthy. In the grand scheme of things – since we’ve already clinched our spot in the playoffs and as division champs – there isn’t a big difference between winning and losing this game, since odds are we won’t rise from the 3-seed even if we prevail. But, Priority Number Two should be: getting the offense – and, in particular, Russell Wilson – back on track.

After that, we should be all right. I don’t think it should require a Herculean effort to win this one. I know the 49ers just beat the Cardinals last week, in relatively-impressive fashion, but come on. They’re starting C.J. Beathard at quarterback and Jeff Wilson at running back. If we did what we just did to the Rams last week, then we should be able to pound the 49ers into submission!

I’m expecting something like a 27-17 Seahawks victory that no one will ever remember beyond this Sunday. That’s the best-case scenario. If this game IS memorable, for any reason, then I think that’s a really bad sign, and we should all be VERY worried about 2021 and what’s in store for us as a society!

The Seahawks Are In Great Shape After Beating The Cardinals

I told you guys! Nothing is fucked here!

I did a tiny bit of digging on the Vegas line for this game. It apparently opened anywhere from the Seahawks being 3.5-point to 5.5-point favorites and the public bet it down to the Seahawks just being favored by 3. I don’t have a good handle on how Vegas did last night, but I would suspect they did very well. I have to believe the majority of the money was on Arizona to at least cover, if not win outright. Regardless of that, the over/under was set in the mid-to-high 50’s, and you KNOW everyone and their grandmothers were betting the OVER in this one. With the Seahawks winning 28-21 (Arizona failing to cover, obviously failing to win, and both teams hitting well UNDER), it’s my hunch that Vegas really had a good night last night.

I hate to kick things off so negatively, but we can’t get through a Thursday Night Football game without a season-ending injury, it would appear! Remember Richard Sherman’s last game in a Seahawks uniform? Oddly enough, it was also against the Arizona Cardinals (as a matter of fact, Earl Thomas’ last game here was ALSO against the Cards; we lose more Hall of Famers playing this team than I’ve ever seen!). What isn’t so odd is that Sherman’s last game in a Seahawks uniform was a Thursday Night Football game, when he finally ruptured an already-injured Achilles tendon. Had he had a proper amount of rest and recovery that week, we might not have lost him when we did (indeed, he might’ve very well managed it throughout the season, with frequent rest days in practice).

Well, Greg Olsen – apparently our prized free agent pickup this past offseason (even though literally everyone feels it was a lot of money, poorly spent, but that’s neither here nor there) – suffered a fascia tear last night and figures to be lost for the year (there MIGHT be an outside chance he could return in time for the Super Bowl – if the Seahawks manage to make it that far – but it’s obviously way too early to make those kinds of predictions). I immediately thought of Sherman, because the cases seem so similar. Both are aging veterans. I imagine this was a nagging injury Olsen has been gutting his way through for a while. And, I suspect – much like Sherman – if he’d had a regular rest & recovery period, this might not have happened right now, and we’d still have Olsen going forward. These are non-contact injuries, so obviously there’s a strong possibility that they’re both flukes and could’ve happened at any time. But, I feel very strongly that having just played a football game four days prior is the bigger culprit in all of this.

Before I get off of my injury high horse, I’ll pour a little out for Brandon Shell, who suffered a more traditional sprained ankle injury when someone rolled up on him as he was blocking someone else. The severity is unknown, but it’s obviously quite worrisome, as he’s far-and-away our best right tackle. He could return as early as our next game (if it’s just a regular ankle sprain), or he could be lost until the playoffs (if it’s a high-ankle variety). Fingers crossed it’s not that bad!

From a defensive standpoint, this game went exactly as it needed to. If we can hold teams to 21 points per game the rest of the way, we’ll never lose again! We forced four Arizona punts in the first half – including one when they got the ball with less than two minutes to go, which is always prime scoring time against this defense – and held them to just a lone touchdown in taking a 16-7 lead into the break.

Things were a little touch-and-go in the second half, as Arizona started out with back-to-back scoring drives of 81 and 90 yards, but the Seahawks were able to maintain their lead throughout. Probably the scariest part of the game was when we led 23-21 and punted back to the Cardinals on their own 14 yard line. Thankfully, an Intentional Grounding penalty, followed by a holding penalty in the endzone, resulted in a safety for the Seahawks. That begat a field goal for the Seahawks (to give the game its final score) on a near-seven minute drive, which then begat the Cardinals getting the ball back with just over 2 minutes left in the game, needing a touchdown to tie. The Cards were in good shape, getting inside the Seahawks’ 30-yard line with just under a minute to play, but our defense stiffened there, culminating on a Carlos Dunlap sack on fourth down to end it.

Dunlap was everything I’ve ever wanted in a defensive end in this one! He had four tackles, two sacks, and three hits on the quarterback. All told, the Seahawks had three sacks (with L.J. Collier lucking into one, but I’ll obviously take it) and seven hits on the quarterback, after not touching Kyler Murray at all in the previous game we played down in Arizona. Murray looked like he was suffering from an injury to his throwing shoulder, and it’s tough to say how much that affected him. He probably isn’t using it as an excuse, but there were a number of errant throws that helped kill a lot of drives (there were also lots of AMAZING throws on his part, so maybe the shoulder really wasn’t that big of a deal and he’s just an inconsistent, young passer?).

I don’t know how you don’t call this the best all-around defensive performance for the Seahawks this season. In spite of failing to generate any Arizona turnovers, we held Murray to 269 yards passing (the second-fewest among quarterbacks who played the entire game against us this year), we held their entire rushing attack to just 57 yards on 18 carries (in a game that was never so far out of reach that they needed to abandon the run, at least until the very last drive), and I think most importantly: we held DeAndre Hopkins to just 5 catches and 51 yards (one week after he caught 12 balls for 127 yards, including that hail mary touchdown at the end to win it against the Bills). I’ll always wonder how much of that was forced by our improved defense, versus how much of that was Murray choosing to not force-feed his #1 receiver. Hopkins was matched up against Tre Flowers for a lot of the game, and – per usual – Flowers gave up a huge cushion; it seemed like they had that comeback route to the first down marker any time they wanted it. Why they didn’t go to that well time and time again, I have no idea.

Offensively, this was decidedly an old school Russell Wilson performance: 23/28, 197 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INTs. You could tell me that’s a stat line from 2013 and I’d believe it. To be fair, D.K. Metcalf dropped a surefire touchdown right before halftime, resulting in the Seahawks settling for a field goal (to also be fair, Wilson threw that ball about 5,000 miles per hour right at Metcalf’s face, resulting in it bouncing off of his helmet before he had time to properly react and catch it), but I think it’s safe to say this game won’t be heavily featured on Wilson’s MVP Hype Video. It was an efficient, turnover-free game, though, and that’s EXACTLY what you’re looking for on a short week, after losing 3 of 4 games largely because of inefficiency and turnovers.

Carlos Hyde was very warmly received by fans and the team alike in this one (Chris Carson was indeed held out another week, but figures to be back very soon). You could tell from the first carry: there’s a SIGNIFICANT drop-off in talent between Hyde and the running backs under Hyde. That being said, Bo Scarbrough was called up from the practice squad for this one and played as the #2 running back, and I thought he looked solid! Certainly better than Alex Collins or DeeJay Dallas or Travis Homer. Hyde ran for 79 yards and a touchdown on only 14 carries, and Scarbrough ran for another 31 yards on 6 carries. Including Wilson runs (10 for 42) and a lone Dallas carry, the Seahawks combined for 165 yards on 31 carries, which has to be a Pete Carroll tantric wet dream.

Tyler Lockett led all receivers with 9 receptions for 67 yards and a pretty touchdown in the back corner of the endzone. D.K. Metcalf’s day could’ve gone better (he had at least a couple drops, and one of his big catches was called back by a bogus holding penalty; the refs in this one probably had the worst performance of anyone on the field), but he did end up with 3 catches for 46 yards and a touchdown.

As I said before, this win puts us in great shape. We’re now 7-3, and 2-2 in the division (5-2 in the conference). Our very next game is a Monday night affair on the 30th in Philly. Given how bad the Eagles are, and how elite the Seahawks are on MNF, I really like our chances in that one. Then we have back-to-back home games against the New York teams (they should be pushovers), followed by a road game in Washington (which sneakily might be the toughest of the bunch). I have the utmost confidence in the Seahawks being 4-0 in this stretch, which brings us back home for a Must Win game against the Rams (to ensure our winning the NFC West), before a season-ending Should Win game against the 49ers on the road.

I hope the Seahawks use these next 11 days to get healthy, because we’re heading directly into the home stretch of the regular season. It’s time to stop fucking around and put some distance between us and the rest of the NFC. If the defense can look just like this the rest of the way, I think we’ll be okay.