The Bears Hired Former Seahawks OC Shane Waldron

For the record, I never thought Shane Waldron was The Problem with the Seahawks the last few years. I don’t know if I was often wildly impressed with his playcalling or his gameplans, but he never stood out so negatively that I felt the urge to run him out on a rail.

We hired him from the Rams ahead of the 2021 season, where he was a, I dunno, Passing Game Coordinator? What even is that? Not someone who calls plays. Not someone who designs an offense. Pretty much: he knows Sean McVay, so maybe he can deploy an offense like Sean McVay. All right. I would say the McVay Coaching Tree isn’t totally bereft; Matt LaFleur is doing well in Green Bay, and Zac Taylor lucked into Joe Burrow in Cincinnati. But, now we’re just plucking any ol’ made up position coach and handing them the keys to an entire side of the football?

I wouldn’t say Waldron had the easiest landing when it came to his biggest promotion to date. He had to endure the final season of Russell Wilson in Seattle (where Wilson missed three games, then played terribly through the next three games thanks to a thumb injury), he had to transition to Geno Smith, and then he had to survive the final season of Pete Carroll in Seattle (where Geno missed some time and Drew Lock had to start actual football games).

In 2021, the Seahawks were 20th in yards per game and 16th in points per game. In 2022, we improved to 13th in yards per game (a 27 yards per game jump) and 9th in points per game (only a 0.7 PPG jump). In 2023, we regressed to 21st in yards per game, and 17th in PPG.

So, some good and some bad. We actually dropped in 2021 (in total yards and total points) compared to 2020 (the last season with Brian Schottenheimer as the OC), but you can see why a first-time signal caller would have some growing pains, especially in the dysfunction that was the 2021 Seahawks. But, as I noted here, the 2023 regression came at the hands of a wildly disappointing rushing attack, and that’s with arguably better talent at the running back position.

I find it interesting that the Bears were all over Shane Waldron. Granted, they’re The Bears, and it’s about as inept of a group as you’ll find in the NFL, especially on the offensive side of the ball. How many OCs is this for Justin Fields, going into just his fourth NFL season? Three. Dating back to 2010, no OC has lasted more than two seasons there. Their head coach, Matt Eberflus, just survived by the hairs on his chinny-chin-chin when it came to retaining his own job. I think it’s fair to say if this team doesn’t miraculously make the playoffs in 2024, we’ll likely see a full blown reconstruction of the coaching staff. And that’s not even factoring in the HUGE decision they have to make: do they take Caleb Williams at #1 overall? Or, do they trade that pick for more picks and roll with Justin Fields in the final year of his rookie deal?

This is The Bears we’re talking about, so whatever they choose will be the wrong decision. But, who knows? Crazier things have happened. The Lions are in the NFC Championship Game for crying out loud!

The thing with Shane Waldron is: we don’t really know if he’s good or bad. I get the feeling it’s difficult to be a coordinator under Pete Carroll. I feel like sometimes Pete meddles, and sometimes he’s entirely hands off, but either way it tends to go poorly unless we’re loaded with supremely talented players to make up for coaching deficiencies.

Darrell Bevell is the best offensive coordinator we’ve ever had (who just so happens to have gotten buried under the weight of one terrible call in the Super Bowl). I thought he was relatively creative and adaptive to personnel. He also had Russell Wilson in his magician years, and one of the most underrated receivers of all time in Doug Baldwin, to say nothing of the toughest running back of his era in Marshawn Lynch. In that sense, you’d think pretty much any playcaller would be able to succeed with that collection of talent.

Shane Waldron didn’t have those players. His players were okay, but definitely not on that level. The thing that stands out with Waldron is: there’s no one thing he appears to be elite at. It definitely didn’t feel like we got the Rams’ offense in Seattle. There were times this unit looked unstoppable, but also too many times where they kept getting in their own way and couldn’t do anything but go 3 & Out.

That being said, I didn’t see a lot of absolutely terrible play calls. Nothing out of the ordinary. Nothing that you wouldn’t see from any other offense. Sometimes it seemed like he’d go away from the running game just as it was working, but if that’s your biggest complaint, it’s probably not so bad.

Ultimately, Waldron wasn’t special. He was Just A Guy, in a long line of JAGs. We could do worse, of course. But, the hope is that we’ll end up doing better.

Shane Waldron just so happened to coincide with Clint Hurtt being the DC at the same time during his tenure here. So, in that sense, he lucked out. All the vitriol went to his counterpart, leaving Waldron flying well under the radar.

And apparently, doing a good-enough job for the Bears to hire him at the most critical juncture of their franchise’s history in the last two decades.

Seahawks Death Week: What Would Make Me Happy As A Fan?

There’s so much going on right now, I really can’t be bothered to keep up. How many interview requests have the Seahawks put in for, like a dozen? Any one of these guys could be amazing, and any one of these guys could be a total disaster. I’ll admit, between the Mariners, Huskies, and Seahawks, my confidence level is pretty much bottomed out at this point. So, I’m going to be inclined – pretty much throughout this entire offseason – to come at this from a pessimistic standpoint. The Mariners were already incredibly bad offensively for too much of 2023 to be successful, and the notion that a second hitting coach is going to be the thing to turn everyone around is asinine to say the least. The Huskies are in a very toxic place right now – that place being the college football landscape at large – and the notion that we’re going to turn around our fortunes by going heavy into recruiting sounds like a fairy tale.

I would say, for the Seahawks, it’s funny that the number one objective in John Schneider’s head coaching search is to maintain our positive culture, because right now that’s the ONLY thing we have going for us. We’re not in a great spot with our roster the way it is – bereft of elite-level talent on both sides of the line of scrimmage – we’re not in a great spot with our salary cap – with lots of aging/useless veterans commanding high salaries and just-as-high dead cap hits – and we’re not even all that well off with our draft capital – having given away our second rounder for half a year of Leonard Williams, and only acquiring an extra third rounder from Denver (with no compensatory picks for the fourth year in a row). They don’t give away Lombardi Trophies for “best culture”. And, if you don’t win, it’s amazing how quickly that culture can dissolve.

The one thing that does make me happy is having John Schneider at the helm, making all the important decisions. It’s impossible to ever know how much influence Pete Carroll had over personnel. My guess is, not a lot when it came to the draft, and probably too much when it came to veteran trades and free agency. Even then, I wonder about what we were told at Schneider’s original hiring – or at least what we assumed, coming from his Green Bay background – and what we’ve actually seen come to fruition here in Seattle: namely, that we would be drafting a quarterback nearly every year, even if we didn’t necessarily need one. Why have the Packers been so successful in carrying over from Brett Favre to Aaron Rodgers to now Jordan Love? Because they don’t miss an opportunity to take a chance at finding their Quarterback of the Future. It’s something the Seahawks let go straight to hell throughout the Russell Wilson era, and I believe it’s still setting us back to this very day.

So, that would also make me happy: having John Schneider in charge, and getting back to John Schneider-esque decisions. I believe we’ve had a couple of high-quality drafts the last two years. I also believe that the 2023 Seahawks underachieved based on the talent they have. If we can manage to keep the good drafts flowing, and marry that with a coaching staff that can get the most out of our younger guys, then I think there’s potential for a quick turnaround. Let’s eliminate some of these panic trades for aging vets, let’s dole out smart contracts to the right guys, let’s get rid of aging players a year too early vs. a year too late, and let’s trust in our ability to coach up young players immediately, to better take advantage of their inexpensive cost to our salary cap while they’re on rookie deals.

I couldn’t tell you who would make me happy to bring in as a head coach. I think Dan Quinn is probably the likeliest guy, and I also think he’s the least exciting candidate. I think Jim Harbaugh is the most intriguing, but I also don’t believe he will go anywhere if he doesn’t have full control over every part of the team, so that kinda rules him out. Of all the coordinators getting interviews, I think Ben Johnson is probably the most thrilling, but he’s also among the least-experienced names being bandied about, having just two years of OC experience with Detroit. Is his scheme something that’s revolutionizing the sport of football? Or did he just come up with the right team at the right time, who just so happened to have an elite collection of players? Is he the next Shanahan or McVay? I’m guessing probably not. But, is the next Shanahan or McVay even out there? Again, I’m guessing probably not.

The Seahawks have only had three successful head coaches in the franchise’s history: Chuck Knox, Mike Holmgren, and Pete Carroll. All three of them had previous NFL head coaching experience. Now, obviously, that’s not a guarantee, because Jim Mora Jr. also was previously a head coach in the NFL, and Dennis Erickson was a longtime head coach in college. But, it strikes me that the three best guys were all pretty huge names in the sport at the times of them being hired, and maybe there’s something to be said for that.

I’ve always liked Mike Vrabel. I think he’s smart and knows how to lead a team as much as he can lead a culture. He probably best fits in that mold of a prior NFL head coach who’s a big name and has a lot left to give to the game. But, he doesn’t seem to be a viable option for whatever reason. I know I’d be concerned about his desire to play older guys over young kids, but maybe that’s a perception I’ve falsely acquired over the years. Like with any coach, his success level is going to come down to the quality of the players around him, regardless of their age or experience.

I guess the biggest thing that would make me happy as a Seahawks fan is for them to cut the dead weight. I know these decisions are tough, I know these older guys have given us everything they had, and I know it might mean enduring a tough salary cap situation for a year. But, if we can make it through, there’s a real opportunity in 2025 and beyond. But, we have to understand what this team is right now: it’s not a Super Bowl contender. And it’s not one offseason (with one hand tied behind our backs thanks to lack of money and draft picks) away from being that contender. This is a two-year window. Year one is the tear down, and year two is the immediate rebuild.

K.Y.P. Know Your Personnel. One of the local basketball color guys used to say that all the time (I can’t remember if it was Marques Johnson or someone else), but it’s universal across all sports. Seahawks, K.Y.P! Figure it out, get rid of anyone who’s not part of the future, and let’s get this thing turned around. Hovering around 9-8 and a potential wild card spot isn’t going to make me happy. Competing – TRULY competing – for a Super Bowl title, THAT will make me happy.

The Seahawks Fired/Promoted Pete Carroll

This is always kind of a tricky time of year for a local sports blogger. Football’s over, baseball spring training might start in February, but the regular season doesn’t get going in earnest until the end of March. Husky basketball is usually a joke, I don’t know enough about (or watch enough of) the Kraken to be anything close to relevant writing about it. So, other than the occasional hot stove flurry, I’m usually struggling to find anything to write about on a daily basis.

But, lately, I’ve got TOO MUCH to write about! I’ve got blog posts banked for days! To the point where they’re in danger of needing significant re-writes if I actually get around to posting them!

Seahawks Death Week is an annual tradition on Seattle Sports Hell, where I devote a week’s worth of posts – almost always immediately following the end of our season, whenever the last game concludes – to the season that was and what to look forward to in the year ahead. It’s a good way to knock out a week’s worth of posts without really trying, saving some back-burner items for later. But, with the Huskies playing in the national championship, and with the Mariners really taking their sweet-ass time in adding to this roster, I’ve suddenly found myself with a back-log of posts, meaning Seahawks Death Week will start a week late.

But, I can’t let this news go too stale before saying something. Pete Carroll being relieved of his duties / being retained to be a consultant or whatever, is too big to ignore.

It is so bizarre – and pretty disingenuous – to see all these eulogies all over Twitter, all over the blog-o-sphere, and all over the talking heads on ESPN and the like. I get it, as Seahawks fans, we love Pete Carroll for what he did for this organization. He led us to our first Super Bowl championship. He was the greatest head coach we’ve ever had. We had an unparalleled run of success under Pete that, honestly, might not ever be matched or surpassed. We don’t know! Maybe that’s it; maybe 2012-2015 was as good as it will ever be, and we’ll never win another championship ever again. There are teams who have played countless decades without winning it all. It’s like winning the lottery, only harder, because so much more has to go right. No one ever said your teams have to win a certain number of championships in your lifetime.

Anyway, getting away from being too morbid, Pete Carroll was wonderful. I never thought he’d work out here, and he absolutely did. I was 100% wrong in my initial assessment of his original hiring.

But, it was also time for him to step aside. The franchise got SUPER stagnant. As I will outline in a future blog post, the defense has been among the worst in the last five years. He became too loyal to his guys, whether it’s the veteran players who’ve lost a step, or the incompetent coordinators who never deserved to be calling plays or devising schemes in the first place.

I’ll be the first to admit, I never thought he’d be let go at this time. I always figured nothing would happen until the team was eventually sold (likely in the next year or two). I just assumed Jody Allen would keep the status quo until the new owners took over, and let them make whatever decisions they wanted to make on the future of the Seahawks. I had HOPES that maybe we’d clean house a little bit and find new coordinators, but I’m guessing – given the way this all shook out – that Pete was reluctant to do even that.

For me, it was never so much about getting Pete out of there, it was 1) replacing Clint Hurtt with someone who knows what the fuck he’s doing, and 2) maybe seeing if we can find someone to replace Shane Waldron, who knows how to scheme a decent running game. Then, from there, I wanted to see us go after a quarterback in the draft, cut the old, dead weight from the roster, and really start rebuilding this thing from the ground up, with the young players we’ve accumulated over the last two drafts. Pete just as easily could’ve been there for all of that. But, if all of that wasn’t going to happen with Pete still here, then yes, he needed to go too.

I get it. I’m sure it’s devastating to fire people. Even though this is the line of work they all chose, I’m sure it never gets easy to mess with their livelihoods. But, if it gets so hard that you can’t do what needs to be done, then it’s probably time to step aside and find someone who can.

I’m not here to simply dance on his grave, but I’m also not here to give you the same reverential claptrap. I’m just telling it like it is. Pete was great, and also it’s time to move on.

It’s kind of funny that Alabama announced Nick Saban’s retirement shortly after Carroll’s goodbye press conference. It’s funnier still that this morning, Bill Belichick and the Patriots have parted ways. What’s next? Brett Favre’s going to come out of retirement again? Aaron Rodgers is going to purchase the Jets? Travis Kelce is going to have a three-way with Taylor Swift and Jake From State Farm on the 50 yard line during their game this weekend?

It’s also funny to see how many people are saying that it’s all but assured that Pete Carroll is going to make the NFL Hall of Fame. Are we sure? He’s currently 14th in wins in the NFL with 170. There are currently seven ahead of him who are NOT in the HOF (as coaches). Granted, Belichick and Andy Reid are two of those guys; but of the remaining five, four of them have been eligible for quite some time, and repeatedly overlooked. Granted, none of those four ever won a Super Bowl, but is that all it takes? One Super Bowl title gets you in, if you’ve coached long enough? Because Tom Coughlin and Mike Shanahan both have multiple titles (and the same number of wins), but they’ve yet to get in. Mike Holmgren has a title and another appearance, and only 9 fewer wins, and he doesn’t seem to be close to making it. It’s HARD getting in the HOF as a head coach! It’s hard getting there period, but I don’t know if Pete is the slam dunk people are saying he is.

I’m sure a lot of that sentiment is just that. It’s emotional people, in the moment, trying to pay tribute. And it’s surely an interesting debate to have. Personally, I’m of the opinion that he should be in. But, I also think all the guys ahead of him in wins total should be in, even the ones who never won it all. I like a big Hall of Fame. The more the merrier! Let our favorite people be honored for the greatness they showed.

I can’t sit here and tell you this is a sad day. I feel bad for him, I guess. But, I also feel like he had plenty of opportunities to get this thing turned around, and for whatever reason, the Seahawks just never recovered after the L.O.B. era ended. That falls on him. And it didn’t look like it was going to get fixed anytime soon.

There’s now a couple ways this can go. Thankfully, we have John Schneider at the helm, so there’s some continuity there. That effectively eliminates the first way this can go: a total tear-down and rebuild. I don’t THINK that’s going to be what happens, because I have to believe a lot of these guys on the roster are still Schneider’s guys. And that’s a good thing; I don’t feel like we NEED a total tear-down and rebuild.

There’s a core here we can still build around, but that leads us to our other way this can go: cutting out the vets and really taking this youth movement to its logical conclusion.

When the Seahawks were at their best, they were the youngest team in football. That needs to happen again. I know we’re all jealous of the 49ers and some of these top-notch AFC teams, to varying degrees (Chiefs, Dolphins, Ravens, Bengals, Bills), but you know who I’m jealous of the most? The Packers. They’re the youngest team in football, they’ve just found out that Jordan Love is going to be The Guy for the foreseeable future, and they’re back in the playoffs yet again, poised to go on another run of excellence.

Give me that. Ideally, without the retread head coach of a Dan Quinn or even Mike Vrabel.

Of course, the funniest part of all of this is Russell Wilson’s online reaction. Please. With what we know about what went down as he broke up with the Seahawks, it’s about as phony as it gets. Perfectly on brand, but also extremely obnoxious.

The Seahawks Aren’t Great At Any One Thing

The Seahawks get a lot of credit for being competitive. If I understand the phrase right, it’s a double-edged sword. When things are going well, people point to the coaching staff and say, “Boy Pete Carroll does a great job of adapting and getting the most out of his players!” But, when things go poorly, people point to the coaching staff and say, “Boy Pete Carroll is over the hill and washed up and doesn’t understand what the game of football is morphing into!”

There was a time this year where the Seahawks were winners of 5 out of 6 games, and the one we lost (to the Bengals) you could argue we gave away. But, even still, they were the Bengals, Joe Burrow was still alive, and you can understand why even a good team would lose that game on the road. The offense felt vibrant, the defense appeared to be improving, and we all let ourselves believe that these Seahawks could compete with those 49ers for this NFC West and maybe even above and beyond.

Then, we got massacred by the Ravens. That kicked off a lull where we lost 4 out of 5 games, with the lone victory being a 3-point variety against one of the worst, most dysfunctional teams in football (the Commanders), at home no less. We won the next two games to regain control over our own playoff destiny, only to lose to the Steelers last week, to once again need a Week 18 victory plus some help.

The Seahawks are 8-8. You can’t really give this team a lot of credit for being competitive, because if we’re honest with ourselves, this team is only competitive against very flawed-to-bad teams.

There are lots of teams hovering around .500, though. Lots of flawed teams who are in contention for the playoffs. There have been plenty of flawed teams throughout the years who have made the playoffs, gotten hot, and managed to do some damage (even winning a Super Bowl here and there). It’s not always the VERY BEST teams who win it all. Sometimes, you just need to pose the right matchup problems against the right teams, to get the result you want.

The Cleveland Browns are 11-5 and locked into the playoffs. You wouldn’t consider them a front-runner; they’re on, what, their fourth quarterback? Joe Flacco off the scrap heap re-joined the league and has set the world on fire. Has Joe Flacco suddenly gotten amazing again? No way! But, he’s in the right situation, with the right team, that has some elite components (defense, running game, O-Line) that allows them to make up for any mistakes Flacco might generate.

The Dolphins are also 11-5 and locked into the playoffs. Their defense kinda stinks, but they’re so dynamic on offense that you could see them winning any game if things break right. The Chiefs are 10-6 and their receivers are hot garbage. The Eagles are 11-5 and their defense has regressed HARD. The Rams are 9-7, but they’re still well-coached and explosive enough (and veteran enough) on offense to beat anybody.

Which brings me to the Seahawks. They’re a consummate 7-seed type of team. But, unlike the Packers, Steelers, or either of the South divisions, the Seahawks don’t have any one thing they do extremely well. They just have a lot of things they’re okay at, with some VERY glaring weaknesses that hold them back.

It’s honestly pretty miserable watching the Seahawks closely. I wonder if these other fringe teams have the same type of disgruntled fans. There’s nothing you can hang your hat on, where you can say, “If THIS happens, we can pull it out.” Even in the post-L.O.B. era of Seahawks football with prime Russell Wilson at the helm, we could look at the team and say, “Well, if Russell Wilson plays out of his mind, maybe we can win three playoff games and get to the Super Bowl.” Of course, that never happened, and we now understand why it was foolish to think that way. But, at least there was a chance. Russell Wilson used to be magic, and sometimes he was all we needed to will ourselves to victories.

You can’t say that about Geno Smith. Russell Wilson could get by with a rancid offensive line. Geno Smith is like this delicate flower that needs a climate-controlled environment to flourish. I’m not talking about weather here; it’s sort of a terrible analogy. But, like, Geno needs very good O-Line play. He needs the defense to keep us in it. He can’t carry us on his back and will us to victory. Oh sure, if everything is just right, he can lead us to a late come-from-behind victory every now and then. But, you better not allow any pass rushers to get in his face! He’s not making those comebacks against the likes of the 49ers, Cowboys, or Steelers!

What’s the best thing Seattle has going for it? The easy answer is the wide receiver room, but that’s so dependant on your quarterback’s play, that I think I have to push them down a tier. I think the actual best thing Seattle has going for it is the running back room. The one-two punch of Kenneth Walker and Zach Charbonnet is as good as it gets. Walker makes something out of nothing in a way I haven’t seen since Barry Sanders. I’m not saying he’s as good as Barry Sanders, but I’m saying the moves you see him put on people on the football field week-in and week-out are as electric and jaw-dropping as I’ve seen out of anyone since Sanders retired. Charbonnet, on the other hand, is just a solid and dynamic straight-ahead runner. Every time I see him play well, I wonder if he’s the future #1 on this team, but then Walker comes back and flashes those amazing cut-back moves, and I’m swayed in his direction. Either way, those two combined – with their tremendous blocking and pass-catching abilities – puts us at a level few teams are at in the NFL.

So, why don’t we feature it more? Why aren’t we scheming to highlight the run, rather than using it to complement a passing attack that’s … fine? Your guess is as good as mine. Seems to me, once again, we have the wrong offensive coordinator. He was brought in to try to appease a disgruntled Russell Wilson, we traded Wilson a year later, and now we’ve been trying to make it work. Sometimes, Waldron looks like one of the best OCs in football. But, too often – especially this season – he gets too one-track minded. He goes away from the run – mind-bogglingly – even though we’re in more games than we’re way behind. And less and less do we see guys schemed open. We were supposed to get the system that the Rams use to tremendous success. Lots of crossers, lots of different plays out of similar-looking personnel groupings. But, either Geno isn’t seeing them, or we’ve gone away from them. Regardless, this offense looks as dysfunctional as it was under Schotty and in the final years of Bevell.

Getting back to the receivers, I’ll tell you what this team doesn’t have; it doesn’t have Doug Baldwin, or a Doug Baldwin type. It doesn’t have that guy who can get open under any circumstance. It doesn’t have that guy you can go to on 3rd & Long, when you absolutely need a conversion to move the chains. Tyler Lockett sort of used to be that guy, but not really, and definitely not anymore. I don’t know what Lockett is nowadays, if I’m being honest. Either he’s trending towards being washed up, or we’re just not utilizing him like we should. More often than not, we’re going to D.K. when we need a big catch to move the chains. Don’t get me wrong, D.K. has been GREAT this year. But, he still has massive drops at the worst times, and you never know when he’s going to be that powderkeg that’s one bad taunt away from exploding.

The good news is: maybe Jaxon Smith-Njigba will be the next true heir apparent to Doug Baldwin. But, he’s still a rookie, he’s still developing that relationship with Geno, and while he’s much more productive now than he was at the beginning of the season, he’s not quite there yet. Hopefully in the next year or two, but that doesn’t help us out THIS season, now does it?

As far as the defense goes, write it off. There’s nothing elite about any of these position groups. Jamal Adams was shut down, having never fully recovered from his knee injury. He was getting beaten on the reg, and was less and less productive out in space near the line of scrimmage the more he played. Clearly, his body is broken, and it’s going to really suck if we’re stuck with him for another year.

As for the rest of the secondary, that was sort of our big hope, but it hasn’t come to fruition. I think the depth is there, but the top-end talent has been lacking. Which is interesting, because two of our three Pro Bowlers came from this group (Devon Witherspoon and Julian Love). Witherspoon looks as good as advertised, but he started the year banged up, and he’s ending the year banged up. When he’s been healthy out there, he’s been a game-changer. But, I’m starting to have serious doubts that we’re ever going to get a full season out of him. And I’m certainly dubious about getting a respectable second contract out of him. As for Love, he’s definitely come on late, but early this season he was a huge liability! The bar to climb over for Pro Bowl contention seems to be getting lower and lower nowadays.

You can’t deny Riq Woolen’s sophomore season has been anything but disappointing. Seems like he too is injured, but I don’t remember him ever being all that active in tackling near the line of scrimmage. That wasn’t a problem last year when he was making plays and generating turnovers; but this year, when he’s not doing that, he’s not really doing anything for you, is he? The rest of the guys – Diggs, Brown, Jackson, Burns, etc. – have all flashed some level of greatness, but have also totally disappeared for long stretches. As a result, this defense is getting increasingly shredded as the season goes along.

The linebackers have been okay against the run, but Bobby Wagner has been one of the biggest weaknesses in the passing game in the entire NFL (he’s a Pro Bowler based on reputation only). Without Jordyn Brooks, the linebacker room is totally decimated (as we saw last week against the Steelers). It’s tough when you’re as thin as you are, and you’re forced to play Wagner at or near 100% of the snaps every week. Now we have to pay Brooks whatever the market rate is for a top-end interior linebacker? What are we doing with our money here?!

I think the interior of the defensive line has been the most productive unit on this team, especially with the addition of Leonard Williams. Between him, Jarran Reed, and Dre’Mont Jones, we’re as solid as you can get. But, when Nwosu went down, the edge has been kind of a wasteland. Frank Clark has hardly played, and I think has since been cut (or is on the verge of being cut). Darrell Taylor can’t set an edge to save his life. Boye Mafe has slowed down considerably the second half of this season. Derick Hall is also struggling to play his position properly (but he’s a rookie, so he gets a pass). So, when you talk defensive line as a whole, I think you have to give them a net-negative. They get sacks at a decent clip, but I would say overall pressure numbers are sub-par, and the run defense has actually gotten worse as the season has gone along.

Defensive coordinator might be our biggest weakness, so we’ll see where that goes this offseason.

That leaves the O-Line, which is middling at best. But, Abe Lucas has been banged up all year, and we’ve had a revolving door at most of our positions from week to week. So much so that we’ve had to emphasize getting the ball out incredibly quickly if we even WANT to have a passing game. Seems like that would be the time to try to pound the rock, but again, we’re not, because of Reasons.

All told, that adds up to a team – as I said in the title – that isn’t great at any one thing. They’re okay at some things, terrible at others, and that’s what adds up to an 8-8 record heading into the final week of the season. Which is why I’ve been saying – for however many weeks now – that I do NOT want these Seahawks in the playoffs. What good does it do to get in there and get your doors blown off in the first round? We did that last year; did it do anything to make the 2023 Seahawks even remotely better? Or, did it just give us worse draft positioning, while allowing us to delude ourselves into thinking we were closer to Super Bowl contention than we actually were?

The Seahawks only make significant changes when they fail to make the playoffs. Whenever we make the playoffs, we bring our coaching staff back, keep the majority of the veterans we’re able to keep, and try to fill in around the fringes with what little resources we have left over. We’ve never really committed to a true rebuild since the 2010 season, and it’s starting to feel like all those Mariners teams from 2004-2018. Close, but no cigar.

What’s this team going to do as a 7-seed? Probably go to Dallas and lose by double digits. We already couldn’t stop them once – the week after Thanksgiving – what makes you think we can stop them now, when our talent is actually more depleted thanks to injury? We tried our best to keep up offensively – putting up 35 in a losing effort – but literally everything had to go right for that to happen, and I’m not buying that we can do that a second time.

And even IF we somehow, miraculously, beat the Cowboys in Dallas (because, at their heart, they love to choke in the playoffs), what is our reward? Playing the 1-seed 49ers after a week off (and after playing no one of consequence in Week 18). Just the worst case scenario of all scenarios; we haven’t come CLOSE to beating them for the last two years now.

So, no, I don’t want to see us in the playoffs. I don’t even want to see us winning this week! I want us 8-9. I want that LOSERS label to be firmly stamped all over this team. Pete Carroll and John Schneider aren’t going anywhere. But, maybe with a losing record, they’ll stumble into the correct coaching and personnel moves to turn this thing around before we’re all old and gray.

This Is The Best Husky Football Team I’ve Ever Seen

For the record, I didn’t become a Husky football fan until I started attending the University of Washington in 1999. Admittedly, I don’t know how much of the team I actually followed that year, but I do remember being 100% on-board for the 2000 team and going forward. That’s a relatively quick way of saying I wasn’t part of the Don James heyday. In fact, I actively disliked the Huskies all my life up until I was accepted in my senior year of high school.

Before this year, the best Husky team I’ve ever seen was clearly the 2016 squad that went 11-1 in the regular season, won the conference title over Colorado, and made it to the first round of the playoffs (where we lost to Alabama in the Peach Bowl 24-7). I will say that I have a soft spot for that 2000 team that went 10-1 in the regular season before defeating Drew Brees and Purdue in the Rose Bowl. We were shut out of the BCS Championship Game, saddled with a #4 ranking. I’ll always wonder what we could’ve accomplished had they had a 4-team playoff like we do today.

But, that 2016 team was something special. It’s a year I’ll never forget. The defense was outstanding, the offense had stars at the skill positions, and a steady quarterback who was accurate and careful with the football. They stopped the losing streak to Oregon for crying out loud!

The circumstances around that season afforded the Huskies the luxury of being a 1-loss playoff team. That never would’ve happened this year, especially if that one loss came in the final Pac-12 Championship Game of all time.

As we all know, my confidence in the Huskies beating the Ducks for a second time this season – and a third time in the least two years – was shamefully low. I couldn’t be more thrilled to be so wrong!

We jumped out to a 10-0 lead after the first quarter, dominating time of possession and forcing the Ducks into back-to-back 3 & Outs to start the game. Unfortunately, Penix overthrew Jalen McMillan on our third drive of the day, in what would’ve put us up 17-0 and really gotten a stew going. We still managed to go up 20-3 late in the first half, after forcing a third 3 & Out by the Ducks. But, that’s where things started to get scary.

The Ducks marched right down the field with under 2 minutes to go in the half, to pull the game to 20-10. They subsequently got the ball to start the third quarter and again marched right down the field to make it 20-17. Then, we picked the absolute worst possible time to get intercepted. Thankfully, our defense got the ball right back two plays later thanks to a Bo Nix pick. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to settle this game down, as Oregon took a 24-20 lead into the fourth quarter.

That’s when we finally woke up! I’m not gonna lie to you, my wife and I were on the road for the entire first half – until just before the Ducks scored on their 2-minute drive – when we checked into a Kirkland hotel to spend the night. I was VERY concerned that the Huskies were only winning so handily at that time because we were listening on the radio. So, it was nice to see my weak-willed motherfucker instincts were incorrect. The Huskies got back in the endzone to make it 27-24, forced an Oregon punt, then scored again to go up by 10 points with a little under three minutes left in the game. The Ducks proceeded to go 75 yards in 30 seconds (literally) to pull the game back to within 3 points. But, we were able to run out the clock on them and win a game we were projected to lose by double digits!

I would’ve been curious to see what this game looked like from the very beginning, because other than the mid-game lull between the end of the second quarter and the beginning of the fourth quarter, it seemed like the Huskies were in complete control. That, quite frankly, starts with Dillon Johnson, who had another MONSTER game. 152 yards on 28 carries with 2 rushing TDs, a reception for 7 yards, and if that wasn’t enough, a 4-yard TD pass when he shovelled to Germie Bernard crossing behind the line of scrimmage. Just a brilliant game from our most unheralded super-stud!

What I’m really interested in is how Bo Nix compares to Michael Penix. All I saw from Nix – when we finally showed up to Top Golf to watch the game in the bar area – was excellence. But, he struggled for a lot of the first half, and I can’t help but wonder if this was related to his Heisman Trophy candidacy.

When it comes to great quarterbacks, there are two kinds: those who care about stats and personal accolades, and those who care more about winning. The Seahawks recently employed a guy we all THOUGHT only cared about winning, until it became blatantly obvious Russell Wilson cared more about his personal legacy. Which is what makes Michael Penix so refreshing, and has to be a disappointment for anyone who had their eggs in the Bo Nix basket.

It seems like the Ducks had every opportunity to win this game on the ground. Bo Nix himself ran for 69 yards on 6 carries. But, I would argue the Ducks are actually strongest at running back, and between Nix and the two backs, this game might’ve looked a lot different if they relied on the ground game. Instead, Nix threw it 34 times, was frequently pressured, and ultimately limited to 21 completions for 239 yards and 3 TDs (with the 1 INT).

Penix, meanwhile, had the more efficient game (27 for 39 for 319 yards) even though he only had the 1 TD to go along with the INT. He got the ball to our play-makers as he always does (McMillan came back with a vengeance to catch 9 for 131, Odunze had his usual excellent game of 8 for 102, and Ja’Lynn Polk had a nice bounce-back after some drop-filled performances, catching 5 for 57), but then he ceded the important moments to Dillon Johnson, who really deserved the game MVP given what he was able to do.

As it stands, Penix most likely won’t win the Heisman. However, given how Nix lost twice and failed to lead his team to the playoffs, I can’t imagine he’ll win it either. That’s usually what happens to players who care more about their own stats than winning: they fail to win games AND they fail to win the awards they so crave.

It was cool having this all wrapped up on Friday night, because we had all day Saturday to bask in the afterglow of our achievement, knowing with as much certainty as one can that we’d be a lock for the playoffs. Was there still an inkling of a doubt? Naturally. Especially when Michigan and Texas both won, Alabama beat Georgia, Florida State remained undefeated, and we still had certain 1-loss teams lurking like Ohio State. It wouldn’t be the first time a 1-loss team who didn’t even play in its own conference title game somehow made it into the playoffs. When you know the games don’t really matter, and some committee is going to pick the four teams it thinks are best, literally anything can happen (more on that in another post).

Thankfully, Washington was able to earn enough respect to be ranked #2 overall. It’s weird to not have a team in the SEC in the top two, but here you have it:

  1. Michigan (13-0)
  2. Washington (13-0)
  3. Texas (12-1)
  4. Alabama (12-1)
  5. Florida State (13-0)
  6. Georgia (12-1)
  7. Ohio State (11-1)
  8. Oregon (11-2)
  9. Missouri (10-2)
  10. Penn State (10-2)

Just as Oregon was the highest-ranked team with one loss, now they’re the highest-ranked team with two losses. Arizona finished 14th and Oregon State finished 19th, giving the Pac-12 four teams in the top 20. I don’t know if it mattered or not, but Utah was one of the first teams out of the Top 25 in both the AP and Coaches polls. Which just further goes to show what kind of team Washington is, that we were able to win five games against Top 30 opponents, which doesn’t even factor in USC and their high-flying offense, and the rest of the conference, which doesn’t play like the bottom-feeders we see in other conferences.

Is there an argument to be made that we deserved the top seed? Absolutely. Michigan beat Ohio State once, Penn State once, and a garbage Iowa team that couldn’t even put up a single point in the Big Ten Championship Game. We had to beat Oregon twice, an underrated Arizona team, and a rock-solid Oregon State team (both on the road). You think Michigan would’ve beaten the Buckeyes in back-to-back weeks? Because I certainly have my doubts.

But, you know, I’m not going to get a big bug up my ass about it. Michigan is saddled with playing the red-hot Crimson Tide – who just took out the previous #1 team in the nation – so what did they get for all their troubles?

Not that Texas is chopped liver, given that they gave that red-hot Crimson Tide team its only defeat. But, we do have to go all the way to New Orleans – instead of playing in the Rose Bowl – so you could say no one is really happy in this scenario.

But, we did beat the Longhorns in last year’s bowl game. I know these are different teams in different situations, but it’s nice to at least have a little bit of familiarity. I thought we looked shaky as hell in that game last year, so it would be nice to come out a little sharper after this next month off from game action.

Let’s hope we do better than the PREVIOUS best Husky team I’ve ever seen!

The Seahawks Were The Lightning Rod For All Of My Sports Trauma During My Honeymoon

Considering what was at stake, I’ll take it.

The Seahawks are frauds. That’s just all there is to it. They went from 6-3 and in a share of first place in the NFC West, to 6-5 and barely clinging to a wild card spot.

The 17-16 loss to the Rams could’ve been avoided, except Geno Smith got knocked out for a good chunk of the game, necessitating a Drew Lock appearance to try to hold onto the lead. He finished 2 of 6 with a pick and 3 yards passing, just in case anyone had any inkling that he might be better than Geno, who did return for the final drive, only to set us up for a 55 yard field goal that was missed as time very nearly expired.

The problem here is, Geno Smith clearly isn’t the answer either, as evidenced by a Thanksgiving night massacre to the 49ers, 31-13. He looked just as inept as he looked the three times we played the 49ers LAST year, en route to a pointless first round wild card defeat. Once again, the Seahawks aren’t anywhere CLOSE to the league the 49ers are in, and it’s stupid to even think about competing for the playoffs this year.

I’m not going to sit here and tell you the Seahawks have absolutely no shot to nab one of those three wild card spots. If they win just one of the next three in this gauntlet stretch we’re in (beating the Cowboys in Dallas would be my bet, if I believed it to be possible), and then take out some bad teams in the Steelers, Titans, and Cardinals, that gets us to 10 wins, which almost certainly gets us a wild card. Hell, even if we settle for 9-8, there’s still a decent chance that’s good enough, as it was last year.

But, this isn’t a Super Bowl team. This isn’t even a team that can win a game in the playoffs, let alone three or four in a row.

Geno Smith is terrible in the face of a defensive front like San Fran’s. The problem is, just about every team making the playoffs in the NFC will have a defensive front that’s – if not AS good – at least close to it. He gets flustered as the pocket closes in around him, he holds the ball too long looking for the big play, and he gets set on his ass on every fucking 3rd down imaginable. Remind you of anything? Because it sure as shit reminds me of Russell Wilson’s last year here.

Turns out, Geno’s 2022 was the high point of his career. It’s only downhill from here. He needs some kind of super awesome offensive line to be the kind of quarterback we need him to be, and unfortunately the guys we’re rolling with just aren’t cutting it. Charles Cross is a JAG. Our interior linemen are more of the same. Abe Lucas might be decent, but he’s also spent the vast majority of this season injured and even if he comes back sooner rather than later, my money is on him re-injuring himself again. If nothing else, it’ll be too little, too late.

Knowing that Geno isn’t the guy, and knowing for damn sure he’s the best quarterback on the roster, that leads us to only one conclusion: the Seahawks need to be thinking about drafting their replacement. So, from now until the end of the year, I’ll be rooting for the Seahawks to lose. I’ll be rooting for Geno to play like total and complete ass. I want there to be no remaining whisper of a doubt: I want him to play himself out of the league if possible. I want it to get through Pete Carroll’s and John Schneider’s thick heads that we need to draft the quarterback of the future if we want to succeed. There are plenty of options coming into the NFL next year, go get one. I don’t care how old Pete is; we can’t cling to his aging and feeble wishes. We need to take what young talent we have on this roster and infuse it with a young, promising quarterback, in hopes that we can FINALLY get over this .500 hump we’ve been in for ages now.

Nobody Wants To Hear About My Fantasy Team 2023: The Cousins Curse Continues

I lost 188.35 to 180.62 to You Dropped Your Dildo. Bryce Young scored 11.05 against the Bears of all teams. You’re telling me I couldn’t have gotten a measly 19 points from Cousins in a game where Josh Dobbs put up 29.8 on the Saints?

Not for nothing, but Jordan Love threw two late interceptions in Green Bay’s loss to the Steelers. Interceptions in our league are -4 points. That’s the difference. That’s technically DOUBLE the difference, because my opponent had the Steelers’ defense, and they get +4 points for INTs! One fewer interception by fucking Love would’ve won me the game!

I hate my fantasy life.

It’s especially galling because there were so many teams I would’ve easily beaten this week with 180. Only two would’ve gotten the better of me, so OF COURSE I have to be playing one of them. That’s just the way it works for me.

CeeDee Lamb had another monster game of almost 40 points. Hockenson had 30+, Walker and Tank Dell had nearly 20 apiece, the Jets got me a respectable 15 (but, alas, couldn’t hold it down against a pretty inept Raiders team), and even my kicker got me 13. I’m solid! At every spot but quarterback. Broken record, playing on repeat, until the end of time.

This week, I’ve got a date with Beasts, who is 9-1 and in first place. I have fallen to 4-6 and am now in seventh place, one spot outside of the playoffs. It’s getting real dark! I can’t believe I’m going to be playing in the Consolation Bracket once again!

Here’s my lineup:

  • Justin Fields (QB) @ Det
  • Jordan Love (QB) vs. LAC
  • CeeDee Lamb (WR) @ Car
  • Terry McLaurin (WR) vs. NYG
  • Kenneth Walker (RB) @ LAR
  • Tony Pollard (RB) @ Car
  • T.J. Hockenson (TE) @ Den
  • Tank Dell (WR) vs. Ari
  • Dustin Hopkins (K) vs. Pit
  • N.Y. Jets (DEF) @ Buf

God bless Tank Dell! I knew last week would be my last chance to pick him up, and he really looks like a stud! Alexander Mattison was a last-minute benching last week, which is a rare moment of prescience for me. He sucks! His team knows it, which is the worst part. Granted, they were going up against the Saints’ defense – generally stout against the run – which is what scared me off in the first place. But, seeing his carries fall to the next man up, and seeing the other moves the team is making to bolster their RB room, it seems unlikely Mattison will ever be That Guy for me. He’s Just A Guy instead, which is someone I can ill-afford to start unless in an emergency.

As such, he’s essentially useless to me, so I ended up dropping him and picking up Trey McBride as a free agent. I don’t have an immediate need for a tight end, however Hockenson does have a BYE coming up in Week 13. Frankly, it’s silly that McBride was still out there to be had by anyone; are there 9 better fantasy tight ends in the league right now? I don’t think so. This is his second year in the league, and he’s already taken over for Zach Ertz (thanks to injury, but he’s also better than Ertz, so there’s that). After starting off as the team’s #2 TE and doing very little the first five weeks, he’s really come on, scoring over 20 in two of the last three weeks. The sky seems to be the limit for him. In an ideal world, I would trade one of my tight ends for a more competent starter (especially at QB), but the trade deadline is this week and I just don’t think there will be time. Really, it might be prudent just to hang onto him, since it seems like Hockenson is a little banged up and is on the injury report every week. You never know when he might go over the edge, or have to otherwise sit out a week. And, you know, if I can hang onto McBride through the end of the season, it gives me an option as far as keepers go heading into next year. That’s one less quality keeper for someone else.

When Kyren returns, I’ll have a legitimate decision to make on Tony Pollard. He ALSO stinks! I can’t explain how invisible he’s been this year, but it’s starting to become absurd. The Cowboys are doing pretty well on offense – and going up against some pretty miserable defenses – but Pollard is nowhere to be found! I don’t like it. I don’t like it one bit.

Addison and Dell are the two flexes for me, going forward, depending on who the Commanders are playing. I’ll sit Scary Terry against an elite defense, but otherwise he’s pretty reliable. I just have my doubts about Dobbs as a passer of the football to NFL wide receivers. I’d like to see Addison really blow up one time before I start him again. Also, not for nothing, but Justin Jefferson is coming back soon, and will surely command the lion’s share of the targets again (targets that figure to diminish due to Dobbs’ ineffectiveness as a passer).

Fields returns this week; it’s not a moment too soon. If Young can’t get it going against the crappy Bears, what hope does he have ever? This week, Young is at Dallas, and there’s no way in hell I can start him there; he’s a negative points day waiting to happen! Aidan O’Connell followed up a mediocre start against the Giants with an even more mediocre start against the Jets. Not totally surprising there, but he’s also not giving me a whole helluva lot of confidence. As such, with Deshaun Watson being lost for the year, and Dorian Thompson-Robinson being named his replacement, I decided to cut O’Connell and pick up DTR.

O’Connell has, like, zero upside. He doesn’t run, he doesn’t throw deep, he’s helming an offense that’s run first, run second, run infinity. He’s like a dumpier version of Mac Jones (and now that I say that, watch him turn into the next Tom Brady). At least DTR theoretically has some wheels. If nothing else, he’s more of an unknown than O’Connell, since he has one fewer start. On the plus side, Will Levis has had back-to-back not-good games, so I don’t have to be totally devastated anymore.

I actually like Love’s matchup against the Chargers; if he can’t blow up this week, I don’t know what to tell you. I like Scary Terry against the Giants, I like the Cowboys against the Panthers, I like Hockenson against the Broncos. Give me all the Dell against Arizona, and all the Hopkins against the Steelers’ defense. I’m a little unsure about Walker against the Rams, but that’s no slight against him, rather an acknowledgment of the weird mastery the Rams have over the Seahawks.

Here’s who Beasts has going:

  • Justin Herbert (QB) @ GB
  • Russell Wilson (QB) vs. Min
  • Cooper Kupp (WR) vs. Sea
  • Tyler Lockett (WR) vs. LAR
  • Derrick Henry (RB) @ Jax
  • Josh Jacobs (RB) @ Mia
  • Mark Andrews (TE) vs. Cin
  • Christian McCaffrey (RB) vs. TB
  • Jason Myers (K) @ LAR
  • Detroit (DEF) vs. Chi

Look at all the studs! He’s also got Calvin Ridley if he wants to swap out Lockett. Hard to love Russ the Fantasy Quarterback anymore, but he has been better this season. Also Minnesota’s defense is no great shakes. Herbert is a points monster, and always blows up when he plays against me. Kupp is a stud, Henry and Jacobs are both studs, and CMC is like a god at this point. He’s even got Andrews, probably the best fantasy TE in the game, if that all wasn’t bad enough! To boot, he gets the Lions’ defense to rub it in my face when Fields either sucks or doesn’t end up playing. I’m going to get massacred.

Do The Seahawks Seem Like A Playoff Team?

The Seahawks are 6-3 right now. They’re tied for the division lead with the 49ers (who own the tiebreaker edge based on divisional record) and are technically the best of the wild card bunch (with the tiebreaker edge over Dallas based on conference record). That’s a fifth seed, for those keeping track at home. If that were to hold until the end of the regular season, we would almost certainly be facing the winner of the NFC South in the wild card round, who will almost certainly have a worse regular season record.

But, I dunno. When I think of playoff teams, I think of teams that can legitimately win it all. I know that’s not the case (that’s never the case), but to me, there are capital P Playoff Teams, and there are teams that just so happen to make the playoffs. Someone’s gotta be fodder for the legitimate Playoff Teams, until we get to the point where there are only legitimate Playoff Teams left standing.

The Seahawks made the playoffs last year, but they weren’t a Playoff Team. They also started 6-3, and were actually in the lead for the NFC West before the 49ers got their act together and went on a huge run to close the regular season at 13-4. The Seahawks finished 9-8 and were the aforementioned fodder for those very 49ers in the opening round of the playoffs.

You could make an argument that the Seahawks were a Playoff Team in 2020, finishing 12-4, winning the NFC West, but Playoff Teams don’t lose in the first round to a Rams team playing two backup quarterbacks (starting with John Wolford before he got hurt and was replaced by the benched Jared Goff, who obviously would go on to better things with the Lions, but was still a mess at the time).

In reality, the Seahawks haven’t been a Playoff Team since 2015, when they got buzzsawed by the eventual Super Bowl runner ups in Carolina.

Playoff Teams have real strengths that stand out against elite competition. Playoff Teams don’t just feast on the mediocre and the bottom-dwellers. Playoff Teams find ways to win against the best of the best.

Before this past weekend, I would’ve told you our only quality victory was at Detroit in week two. The longer this season goes, the more impressive that’s going to look; the Lions feel like a Playoff Team. With Cleveland advancing to 6-3 after beating the Ravens, I think that victory gets elevated a little bit (even though we beat their backup QB); at least the Browns have an amazing defense, and we were still able to move the ball and put up some points on them.

We can’t write this Seahawks team off yet, without seeing how they do in the games going forward. There are going to be plenty of opportunities for us to show up against the best of the best: two against the 49ers, the Eagles, the Cowboys, all in a row. Right now, I would say we’re 2-2 against quality opponents, with a hard-fought loss at Cincy, and a drubbing at Baltimore. If we finish that gauntlet stretch going 2-2, splitting with the 49ers and splitting with the NFC East teams, that gives us a 4-4 record in such games, and puts us in good shape the rest of the way. I might buy us as a team that can make some noise in the post-season.

That being said, A) going 2-2 in that stretch is a HUGE “if”. It wouldn’t shock me in the slightest if we went 0-4 against those teams. All of them have amazing defenses, and if Geno doesn’t show up, they could be significantly ugly losses like we had against the Ravens. And B) even if we go 2-2, that doesn’t automatically guarantee we’re going to take care of business against the four other teams who aren’t very good. The Rams are always a nightmare, Pittsburgh has a terrific defense, Arizona has played hard all year and are getting healthy at the right time, and Tennessee is extremely well-coached. Going 2-2 during the gauntlet does us no good if we also go 2-2 against the dregs, finishing 10-7 and probably in a lesser wild card spot that has us facing one of the top dogs again.

I keep coming back to the concept that the Seahawks don’t really do anything great. They’re okay in a lot of areas, and they’ve feasted on most of the teams they should’ve beaten, but that only gets you so far.

The rushing attack is fine; I like both of our backs and think they bring some diverse and impactful things to this offense. But, they also feel underutilized; we tend to steer away from the running game for long stretches. And by the time we get back to it, it feels like teams have adjusted to what we were doing.

Our passing game is okay, but Geno has been hyper mistake-prone, it seems like guys are having trouble getting open (or we’re having trouble scheming them open), and we’re not really winning a lot of 50/50 balls. This team turtles up in the biggest spots (on third down, and in the red zone), and when we’re going bad, everything snowballs for entire quarters, halves, or even games. Playoff Teams don’t do that!

No one can say the run defense isn’t improved, but you don’t win championships on stout run defense. I would say the pass rush is better than expected, but we also lost our best pass rusher for the year in Nwosu, and had to trade significant draft capital just to bring in Leonard Williams to try to shore things up. When have these trades ever worked for us? Williams seemed to make an impact last week at times, but one guy isn’t going to automatically take this team to a top level.

I still haven’t figured out if this secondary is the team’s strength or not. It feels like it should be. It was certainly projected to be heading into the season. But, guys were injured early and they got off to a pretty horrid start. They’ve picked it up significantly with Devon Witherspoon, Riq Woolen, and Jamal Adams back in the fold. But, what happened the last two weeks? Baltimore was able to do whatever they wanted against us, and Washington definitely found large swaths of green grass in the intermediate zones of the defense, with their running backs and tight ends dominating. Is that on the secondary? I would say somewhat. Where were our safeties? How atrocious was the tackling? It’s not the L.O.B. and comparisons to such are lazy and pointless. But, if you want to be a true Playoff Team, you need a unit like the L.O.B. to give you some real validity.

Good, not great, seems to be the mark of this Seahawks team. This is the time of the year where pundits like to point out all the flaws in every team, to give people like Seahawks fans hope that maybe we’re in that calibre as the Eagles, 49ers, etc. The Eagles are 8-1, and yet you’d think they’re the Saints or something. They had a mistake-prone game against the Jets’ elite defense on the road, and still only lost by one possession. No, they haven’t been running up the score like they did last year, but I would also argue that none of their victories have felt in jeopardy. The 49ers famously had that 3-game losing streak to dip below the Seahawks for a week, but then what happened? They had their BYE, they got guys healthy, and they absolutely stomped the Jags into smithereens. They might conceivably not lose again the rest of the way; they did something VERY similar last year! As for the Lions, they’re 7-2 and the biggest knock against them seems to be the fact that they’re the Lions. Sure, they got roughed up by the Ravens like we did, and they lost to us, so they might be at a similar level to the Seahawks. Their schedule is so easy, they might not be discovered as frauds until the playoffs, but there’s a lot to like about the way that team is set up. Their offense is no joke, both running and throwing, and they’ve got some quality players up front on defense that can make lives miserable.

The Seahawks feel like a second-tier team, on par with the Lions and Cowboys. Of those three, I think I have the least amount of faith in the Seahawks. That’s a tough thing to feel about a team that’s highly likely to be involved in the post-season in some capacity. We’ll probably make the playoffs, sure, but I don’t think we’ll win a game once we get there. In that sense, what’s the point? It’s like we weren’t even there at all!

The hope, then, has to be that 2023 is a jumping-off point. A la 2011 or 2012. But, by the end of 2012, we were one of the best teams in the league, who got beaten by a bad first half of football in the divisional round. I don’t see that kind of finish happening fo this squad. There’s a ceiling with Geno Smith that there wasn’t with a rookie Russell Wilson. And that, as we all suspect – as much as we hate to admit it, because we all generally like Geno – is going to be our ultimate downfall, and the reason why not only this team isn’t a Playoff Team, but it won’t be a legitimate contender until we find his eventual replacement.

I’m Having A Hard Time Predicting This Seahawks Vs. Cardinals Game

Do you ever smell a rat sometimes? I don’t mean literally, of course; I certainly wouldn’t recommend doing that. But, I dunno, there’s just something fishy about this Seahawks/Cardinals game, that I can’t quite put my finger on.

Maybe I’m over-thinking this. I probably am. On paper, this shouldn’t even be a question. The Seahawks are largely healthy, they’re at home, they’re favored by 8 points. The Cardinals are still rolling with Josh Dobbs, they’re missing their top offensive weapon in James Conner, they have a new coaching staff, and they seem to be in the beginning stages of a considerable rebuild. The Seahawks are coming off of a frustrating loss in a game they should have won, the defense is improving week by week, they have weapons all over the field. This has the look of a game where the Seahawks get right against a clearly-inferior opponent.

Yet, we’ve been saying all season long: the Cards have been frisky! Sure, they’ve lost their last three games by double-digits, but all of those games were one-score contests heading into the fourth quarter. And it’s not like the Seahawks have shown any sustained excellence outside of that Giants massacre on Monday night.

The thing I get caught up on is the fact that I don’t know what exactly the Cardinals do well. They’re pretty miserable on defense, they don’t score very much. They seem to run the ball well, but again, Conner is out and their backups are nothing to write home about. Their quarterback isn’t much of a passer, but he’s mobile. He doesn’t really turn the ball over a lot, and he doesn’t take an inordinate amount of sacks.

There’s also the Suicide Pool aspect to this game. If you’re fortunate enough to still be alive in any Eliminator-type contest, you probably haven’t picked the Seahawks yet. I know I’m in that boat, along with most of the remaining participants in my league. In fact, only one person who’s still alive has already used the Seahawks. This has the feel of a situation where the rest of us take the Hawks, they lose to the Cards, and a champion is crowned.

The Seahawks are 7-6 at home to the Cards in the Pete Carroll era; 5-6 since Russell Wilson’s rookie year, and 3-5 since 2015. There’s been some good Cardinals teams in that span, but a whole lotta crap as well. Who can forget Colt McCoy’s mastery over us?

A good team – a team that can truly contend for the NFC West title – would win this one handily. But, I don’t know if I’m there yet. I can’t lay out a good case for us to lose to the Cards, other than weird shit happening. The defense goes conservative, doesn’t touch Dobbs, manages to keep it close, but ultimately gives up a score late to lose it 19-16. That case, obviously, coincides with the Seahawks’ offense failing to move the ball with any sort of regularity, but again, how does that work? It made sense with the Bengals; they have a tremendous front seven, and a rock-solid coaching staff. Who do the Cards have on defense, other than Budda Baker returning from IR or PUP or whatever it was that he was on?

Considering our upcoming matchups against the Browns and Ravens, the Seahawks can ill-afford to lose this Sunday. That being said, would it surprise anyone if we lost to the Cards, but then followed that up with wins in the subsequent two weeks? This is what we do; the Seahawks make no sense!

There’s also a bit of turmoil to deal with (when isn’t there?). The offensive line is still in flux; perhaps with Jason Peters making his first start of the season. People seem to finally be fed up with D.K. Metcalf hurting the team with his antics. The coaching staff put up a list of players who’ve committed the most penalties on the team and he was right there at the top of the list. He fired back in his press conference this week telling everyone what he thought of that (not much) and how he’s not going to change the way he plays (as if anyone ever doubted that, considering nothing has changed from the start, in spite of a lot of lip service on the matter). And, we’re always one false move away from Jamal Adams being injured; that’s a spectre that’s never going to stop hanging over our heads until it inevitably happens all at once.

This week’s slate of games, in general, seems really hard to pick. I’ve always taken that to mean we’re in for a bunch of upsets. Of course, I’m always wrong when I expect a ton of upsets; it’s when you LEAST expect them that they happen. But, I dunno. I’ve generally felt like I had a handle on picking games thus far this year; this week is an absolute mystery to me.

In the end, I have to predict the Seahawks will prevail, but I don’t feel great about it. It hasn’t felt like a “home field advantage” around here in quite some time. I don’t blame the fans for that one bit; I think the fans are fine. It’s the product on the field that’s costing us these games. And until I see it consistently, I’m not going to have a ton of faith in this team to take care of business in games they absolutely SHOULD take care of business.

Nobody Wants To Hear About My Fantasy Team 2023: I Never Had A Chance

Sometimes you go up against the guy who scores the most points in the league. Shit happens. 181.15-142.25.

Sometimes, it just so happens to coincide with your two quarterbacks combining for 16.05 points, in a game where they’re going up against one another (Minnesota @ Chicago) and it was projected to be something of a shootout. To be fair, Cousins and Fields would’ve needed phenomenal games for me to pull this one out. But, to finish with such shitty numbers is really demoralizing for someone who’s spent the better part of half a decade trying to fix his quarterback problem.

I got good-enough points everywhere else to give myself a chance. Everyone except my kicker hit double digits; everyone got close to their projection, or beat them by a pretty good margin (good on the Jets’ defense, Kyren Williams, and Kenneth Walker). But, how can I compete when guys like Tyreek Hill, Raheem Mostert, Jared Goff, and Adam Thielen are absolutely going OFF?

The good news is: enough people around me also lost, and I scored a good number of points to give myself a fighting chance with the standings. I’m still in fifth place (the best of the five 2-4 teams), but I have the third-most points in the league.

The bad news is: Week 7 is upon us. It’s my BYE-armageddon.

No Tony Pollard, no CeeDee Lamb, no Bryce Young, no Evan McPherson, no Jets’ defense. And, thanks to injuries, no Fields or Williams. I’m in BAD shape. I’m going to have to (hopefully temporarily) drop my kicker; thankfully, I can use an IR spot finally, so I won’t have to lose my precious Jets.

There’s six teams on BYE this week. Unfortunately, my opponent isn’t NEARLY as throttled as I am. He loses Nico Collins and Chuba Hubbard; I have to imagine one of those guys was destined to be benched anyway since he’s likely getting Aaron Jones back this week. Also, his team name is Car Talk With Josh Allen, so you can guess who one of his quarterbacks is.

I have penciled this game in as a loss since the draft (which has made losing the last two games all the more agonizing). Here’s my M.A.S.H. unit:

  • Kirk Cousins (QB) vs. SF
  • Jordan Love (QB) @ Den
  • Christian Watson (WR) @ Den
  • Jordan Addison (WR) vs. SF
  • Kenneth Walker (RB) vs. Ari
  • Alexander Mattison (RB) vs. SF
  • T.J. Hockenson (TE) vs. SF
  • Terry McLaurin (WR) @ NYG
  • Brandon McManus (K) @ NO
  • Green Bay (DEF) @ Den

The last thing I wanted to do was load up on Vikings this week, especially with the 49ers coming off of a loss. My intended lineup was to include both Fields and Love for the first time this year, to give my team some semblance of the look it might have in 2024 and potentially beyond. Instead, I have four Vikings in my lineup. Mattison will surely be stuffed all day, Addison and Hockenson will likely cede receptions to whoever’s left on that team that I don’t currently own, and Cousins should be good for 3-4 picks.

On the plus side, give me all your Packers against that Broncos defense; this will hopefully be a rebound day for Love and Watson. Walker has been very steady for me this season, and McLaurin has been up and down.

I had my pick of some pretty good defensive options once Wednesday rolled around and all the waiver claims had gone through. The only defense claimed on waivers was the Rams. The top projected defense this week in free agency was Las Vegas, at Chicago. Believe me, I was tempted! I’m probably going to look back on this decision and really regret what I did. But, I dunno. The Raiders on the road? They’re boom or bust on defense; they’ve boomed the last two weeks, but that was at home. I could see the Bears actually doing something without Fields out there constantly giving the ball to the other team. There was also Washington at the Giants; for as bad as the Giants’ offense is, though, I think the Commanders are worse on defense. If I wanted a home team, I could’ve nabbed Indy who’s hosting Cleveland. But, I opted to go with the Anti-Denver strategy. Green Bay, in general, has put up good points every week; they’re far more reliable in my mind. There’s been no negative weeks (in spite of playing the Lions), there’s three double-digit points weeks, including a couple up around 20. Denver’s offense is always a trainwreck ready to happen, so I’ll take my chances here. Even though I kinda sorta feel bad for Russell Wilson, I still get a giddy little thrill when he stinks up the joint.

Not a ton of great options for kicker. Jason Myers got snapped up in a waiver claim early Wednesday morning. Of available free agent kickers, the Raiders’ guy was projected highest, but I don’t trust them to move the ball well without Jimmy G. I dunno, it’s a lot of the usual suspects; I’m sure I got it wrong. I usually like a kicker who’s on a good offense (we’ll see, but Jacksonville seems okay), going up against a good defense (so they’re not just scoring TDs at will). I feel like the Jags should move the ball on New Orleans, but maybe stall out in the red zone. It’s indoors, which I love. My biggest concern is that it’s a Thursday night game, so watch the Jags get shut out or something.

I guess the one thing I have going for me is the fact that my bench is unavailable to me, so I don’t REALLY have to make any decisions (other than the aforementioned rentals I picked up at kicker and defense).

But, I’m really banking on my opponent having an uncharacteristically bad week. Considering he’s 5-1 on the season, he hasn’t had too many of those. Here’s his lineup:

  • Josh Allen (QB) @ NE
  • Brock Purdy (QB) @ Min
  • D.K. Metcalf (WR) vs. Ari
  • DeVonta Smith (WR) vs. Mia
  • Brian Robinson (RB) @ NYG
  • Aaron Jones (RB) @ Den
  • Travis Kelce (TE) vs. LAC
  • Amari Cooper (WR) @ Ind
  • Tyler Bass (K) @ NE
  • New Orleans (DEF) vs. Jax

If it all wasn’t bad enough for me, he’s got the best QB, the best TE, a loaded receiver room, and Jones will probably steal all the points I get out of Love and then some. He’s also got Cleveland’s defense against Indy, if he wants to shuffle two amazing options at that spot.

I’ll be particularly focused on the D.K. Metcalf Revenge Game. He was on my team last year, and I ended up keeping Watson over him. So, I only have myself to blame when D.K. scores two TDs and thoroughly embarrasses me.

The silver lining of this past weekend is that I won my other two matchups pretty handily. I’m going to need them to continue that trend if I want to enjoy this weekend at all, from a fantasy perspective.