How Good Could The Seahawks Be (Quarterback Aside)?

Don’t get it twisted that I’m sitting here talking myself into the Seahawks making some noise in 2022; they’re not going to contend for shit! But, as an exercise to see my vision through – drafting a franchise quarterback in 2023, setting that player up for success now by building up the team around him a year ahead of time – I think it’s fair to wonder. Now that the draft is behind us, and we can start to piece a roster together, how good is this team at every position other than quarterback?

Let’s start at offensive line, since that was a big emphasis for the Seahawks in this draft. O-Line, as we all know, is vitally important to a team’s chances for success. Especially when you’re talking about breaking in a rookie QB. So, have we done enough?

Obviously, that depends on how these draft picks pan out. But, if they’re as good as a lot of people think they can be, this is going to bode very well for our future. As it stands now, going left to right, we’ve got Charles Cross, Damien Lewis, Austin Blythe, Gabe Jackson, and Abe Lucas. Lewis has two years under his belt, and has performed pretty well when healthy. Blythe comes in with extensive experience in winning programs (including as a former Ram, who this offensive coaching staff knows well), and Jackson is still an in-his-prime starting guard in this league. Either he sticks around, or the Seahawks look to improve at that spot in the draft next year; I’m fine with both scenarios. I think the O-Line has the potential to be very good, creating a nice, soft landing spot for a rookie QB in 2023.

Next, let’s look at weapons. Tyler Lockett is here for the long haul. The team has given every indication that D.K. Metcalf will see a second contract. Freddie Swain has proven to be a competent 3rd/4th/5th receiver. Dee Eskridge and our two rookies this year could be nice gadget players if they stay healthy. That’s a solid group.

Noah Fant is a good tight end, with the potential to be great. He’s right there on the fringe of being a top 10 guy. Will Dissly is the consummate blocking tight end, but he has soft hands and can play down the field. Colby Parkinson hasn’t shown much yet, but his frame should play well around the goalline. I would like to see what he can do when given an opportunity. I think the tight end room is also solid.

Then, we’ve got Kenneth Walker as our potential starting running back. He gets 2022 to play behind Rashaad Penny, giving us a 1-2 punch that could be pretty formidable in the short term. If Walker proves he deserves a shot at being the bellcow, I think he’ll run away with the job in 2023 and beyond. Figure the Seahawks will go back to the running back well in the draft next year, likely selecting a lower-round player to be his backup. There’s a lot that’s up in the air about the running back room right now, but it has the potential to be elite if Walker is The Guy.

As far as weapons go, you could do a helluva lot worse! I think with a year’s experience, that’s about as ideal of a landing spot as any rookie quarterback could find himself in 2023.

But, the real question is: how good could the defense be?

This doesn’t work if the defense isn’t ready to grow into a dominant unit over the next two years. That’ll be what I’m most obsessed about heading into the 2022 regular season. I need to see existing players take huge leaps forward, I need to see rookies develop relatively quickly. I need impact! I need this to be a group that harkens back to the 2011/2012 seasons, when they were clearly ascending.

Let’s go back to front, because I have more confidence in what we’ve done with the secondary.

Between Tre Brown and the two rookies, we need two of those three guys to pan out. My hope is that Brown returns from injury and parlays his brief excellence as a rookie into better things going forward. I’d also bank on Coby Bryant having enough of a chip on his shoulder – and enough skills as a corner – to wrench a job away from Sidney Jones. I’m also not against Jones simply being elite and earning a big money extension, because he’s still pretty young. There are obviously a ton of question marks in this group, but the ceiling is through the roof, and I’m willing to bank on this coaching staff getting the most out of these guys (in ways they thoroughly failed at with Tre Flowers & Co.).

Like it or not, Jamal Adams isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Definitely not before the 2022 season is through. So, he has at least this year to try to prove his worth to this defense. There’s certainly reason for optimism that – from a talent perspective – the coaching staff will find a way to maximize his game. But, can he stay healthy? If this is the third straight year where his season is drastically cut short, then I don’t see how you can keep him in 2023 or beyond. Quandre Diggs, on the other hand, should be a quality contributor for a while, and the younger players behind them (Ugo Amadi, Marquise Blair, Ryan Neal) are quality depth pieces we can roll with in a good defense. I think we’re well set up at Safety, even if the value isn’t there (with our two starters making an insanely high percentage of the salary cap).

Inside linebacker is pretty interesting. I think we’re all pretty happy with Jordyn Brooks and his production on the field. I was of the opinion that it was time to move on from Bobby Wagner, so it’s kind of a no-brainer for Brooks to slide into that spot. But, with the defense expected to be more of a 3-4 look, did we do enough? Are we really going with Cody Barton as the other inside linebacker? Sure, he looked … fine, in limited action towards the end of the season. From a value perspective, he was giving us 80% of Bobby Wagner for a fraction of the price. But, does he really wow you going forward? Is he someone this team would look to re-sign after this season?

I guess we’ll see! Seems to me, there’s no reason NOT to have an open competition at the other inside linebacker spot. Which makes it all the more shocking that the Seahawks didn’t make this position a priority in the draft. The good news is, if everything goes to shit here, they can easily draft one next year and plug him into the starting lineup immediately. Inside linebackers are a dime a dozen.

At outside linebacker/pass rusher, I think it’s fair to doubt the Seahawks completely. I’ll believe it when I see it, for lack of a better phrase. Uchenna Nwosu was the big free agent splash, and he signed a 2-year deal. His season high in sacks is 5.0, which he got last year. He’s a 4-year pro from the Chargers who is more like a veteran prospect than an actual veteran producer. Maybe he wasn’t in the right system? Maybe they didn’t utilize him properly? Maybe he just needed more time to develop? I guess his pressure rate might be better than it looks on the stat sheet, but I’m going to need to see him with my eyes before I can make a proper opinion. Is he a diamond in the rough? Or, is he another Rasheem Green?

Darrell Taylor is our prize. He missed out on his rookie season due to a lingering college injury, but as a second year pro he really stood out. 6.5 sacks in his first healthy season is pretty impressive; THAT’S something to build on. That’s the kind of talent you can see making strides during his rookie contract, unlike Nwosu, who never really put it together with his original team.

Then, there’s guys like Alton Robinson and Boye Mafe. Robinson had 4.0 sacks as a rookie, then regressed to the one sack last year. He might just be rotational filler, and it’s fair to question if he even makes the team. Mafe is a rookie, and unless you’re one of the top two or three in the draft, I never have confidence that lower-rated pass rushers will make an immediate impact. If he gets a few sacks, that’s good. If he gets 6+, that’s a little more encouraging. But, I wouldn’t expect anything like double-digits. He just doesn’t have the skills; it’s a whole new ballgame when you make the leap to the NFL. Mostly, I just hope he stays healthy – especially through training camp and the pre-season – so he can learn on the job as much as possible.

Beyond that, we have to talk about the 3-4 interior linemen. Some of them are considered defensive ends, but they’re “ends” in the way Red Bryant was an end. Shelby Harris came over in the Russell Wilson trade and figures to be a leader on this team. He’s already in his 30’s though, so presumably he’ll need to play well in 2022 to stick around going forward. Quinton Jefferson was signed as veteran depth to compete with L.J. Collier; you figure only one of those guys will make it. Then, there are the tackles, Poona Ford, Bryan Mone, and Al Woods. I like the tackles a lot! Harris is probably the best of the bigger ends we have. This looks like another spot that will need to be addressed after this season. But, as far as run stuffing is concerned, I think these guys are on the better side of average.

The defense is, by no means, a finished product. Far from it. But, you don’t really even have to squint to see where the potential lies. Pass rush is a concern and it always will be. But, I’ll say this about that: if everything else looks good, and if we manage to hit on the rookie quarterback next year, then we can attempt to do what we did in 2013 and sign a couple of quality free agent pass rushers, using all the free money we have laying around by not paying a quarterback at the top of the market. Free agency in 2023 and 2024 could be VERY interesting for the Seahawks, in ways it really hasn’t been since that Super Bowl-winning season.

TL;DR: there’s reason for optimism, but obviously a lot of holes to fill, and a lot of question marks currently on the roster to boot.

Have The Seahawks Done Enough At Cornerback?

The Seahawks seem pretty well set at safety. Quandre Diggs is back in the fold, Jamal Adams isn’t going anywhere anytime soon; the two of them comprise the highest-paid safety tandem in the NFL. Then, there’s Marquise Blair and Ryan Neal backing them up. That seems like a very solid group, maybe even the best group of safeties in the entire NFL.

Or, you could say it’s the most injury-prone safety group in the NFL. Either way, there isn’t a ton of coverage going on, especially with Adams being deployed as a sack specialist. What about, you know, the guys who try to prevent opposing wide receivers from gashing us up and down the field? What about the cornerback spot?

Coming into this offseason, we really only had Ugo Amadi and Tre Brown locked in as sure bets to make the 2022 roster. Amadi is a hybrid safety/nickel corner, and Brown was a rookie coming off of season-ending injury. That’s not really … good.

With the start of free agency, some things are becoming clearer. Our best corner, D.J. Reed, won’t be back. Our next-best corner, Sydney Jones, is back. Conceivably, if Brown returns fully healthy, the duo of him and Jones feels strong-ish. But, there’s also a lot you could easily question about going with those two.

As insurance, the Seahawks signed Artie Burns, who played with the Bears under new defensive guru Sean Desai. We also, just today, brought back Justin Coleman, who was great with us in 2017-2018. He went away to make the bulk of his money, but now he’s reasonably-priced again and can help us solidify our nickel corner spot.

It’s tough to say, this early in the offseason, whether or not Burns or Coleman have legitimate shots at making the team, or are just here as camp fodder. Burns appears to be earning $2 million, so that feels significant, but it’s unclear if he’s also a nickel or if he plays outside. That makes a big difference. If the Seahawks are just stockpiling nickel corners, then it would make sense that we look to the draft once again. But, maybe we’re sold on Brown, and he’s healing as he should. Then, it’s fair to wonder if the Seahawks are more or less done, with a secondary that looks like this:

  • Sidney Jones (CB)
  • Quandre Diggs (FS)
  • Jamal Adams (SS)
  • Tre Brown (CB)
  • Ugo Amadi (FS/CB)
  • Marquise Blair (SS)
  • Ryan Neal (SS)
  • Artie Burns (CB)
  • Justin Coleman (CB)

Is that enough? It’s clear what we’ve done at the safety position means we’ve opted to go cheap on corner, but there also appears to be real value guys in that group. Lots of underrated talent earning less than they probably should. It leads me to believe that the Seahawks are opting to use their draft picks in the first two rounds at other areas of need. Probably offensive tackle and defensive end. Maybe (but I hope not) quarterback.

It’s hard to get too excited about this team, knowing the black hole we have at the most important position. Really, does it MATTER if the Seahawks are good in the secondary, if they’ve got Drew Lock or Geno Smith or even Baker Mayfield behind the center? It’s not like we’re going to have the world’s best defense; this isn’t going to be the Trent Dilfer Ravens or anything. You have these conversations when you’ve already got the franchise quarterback, not when you just traded him away. Making marginal improvements with a non-elite secondary only matters if you’ve got the QB to carry the rest of the load.

But, until we know what the Seahawks plan to do at QB, we can’t just sit here and bemoan that one spot. There are other things to talk about! Like the return of Justin Coleman. Do you think he still has it? I’m legitimately curious! He was never better than when he was with Seattle. Now he’s back!

Just as we’re shifting away from the style of defense we played here in his heyday. Ha.

Seahawks Position Breakdown 2021: Safeties

There’s a teensy bit of flux going on with the Seahawks roster, so I’m trying to get to the units I’m confident won’t change dramatically between now and the start of the regular season. I haven’t been burned too bad yet (although this potential Quandre Diggs holdout is annoying beyond all comprehension), in spite of John Ursua getting injured, and Alex McGough getting waived. But, trades are starting to happen, last minute free agents are looking to be signed. It could get hectic over the next couple weeks!

We’re pretty solid at safety, though. Jamal Adams signed his extension. Diggs is here and playing at a pretty high level. Ugo Amadi is still listed as a safety for some reason, even though he’s mostly a nickel cornerback. Marquise Blair is back from injury and looking to make his mark on this league. Ryan Neal came out of nowhere last year and filled in quite well for various injured guys.

It’s obviously not the L.O.B. days, of course. If you rate those guys an A++, you probably have to rate this group an A or A-. Diggs is a step down from Earl Thomas in his heyday, but it’s hard to quantify where he compares to free safeties around the league in 2021. I think he’s fine. Maybe he’s even good! I dunno. He had 5 interceptions last year, a career high, and he’s had at least 3 interceptions each of the last four seasons. Not great. He’s no Hall of Famer or anything. But he’s good. I guess.

Jamal Adams is the special player in this unit, and really the top guy on this side of the ball. What can you say about a guy who gets as close to double-digit sacks without actually getting double-digit sacks? Well, you can say, “Hey, stop dropping all of those interceptions!” I’ll buy his injured hands holding him back, but he’s had them surgically repaired and now there should be no excuses. He needs to be better in coverage and not give up as many big plays as he did in 2020. With a full year – plus a full offseason – under his belt, he should know this defensive scheme backwards and forwards.

There’s a lot to like about the depth. Marquise Blair might already be starting for this team had he not lost almost all of his 2020 season to injury. He’s got a phenomenal skillset, now he just needs the reps to show them off. He might be the second or third-best coverage guy in the entire secondary, so I hope we utilize him against every competent tight end and bigger receiver we face.

Ryan Neal is just a nice jack of all trades to have as part of your depth. I’m a big fan of what he has to offer. It’s hard to sustain a full season without injury; I fully expect Neal will have to start some games. It’s nice to have that veteran leadership and that kind of talent as a backup.

I’m ready to give this group a solid A. Injuries are really the only thing that might derail us here, but I feel like we’d REALLY have to be decimated (therefore supremely unlucky) to feel the effects. I do expect Adams will get some picks. I think Diggs will continue to be solid. And, I think we’ll have positive contributions from our depth pieces. I have no worries about the Seahawks’ safeties whatsoever, which is a far cry from how I feel about the cornerbacks.

Looking At Some Of The Impactful 2020 Seahawks Additions

Football teams have a number of players who carry over from year to year – you always try to do whatever you can to keep your very best players at your most important positions – but for the most part teams are constantly evolving. You need an influx of fresh blood every season if your goal is to improve; rare is the team that just tries to hold onto the players they’ve already got (even then, that only lasts about a year or so before the salary cap constraints force you to start the inevitable churn). So much of a team’s success depends on the quality of those incoming players (and the relative health of your best guys), that it can be easy to overlook their accomplishments.

The 2019 Seahawks were a pleasant surprise that made the playoffs, but they were never really serious contenders for the Super Bowl. The 2020 Seahawks have been a pleasant surprise that has already locked up the NFC West; it’s debatable if this team can contend for a Super Bowl, but it’s inarguable that these Seahawks are better than the ones from a season ago. So, let’s take a look at – and try to rank in order of their impact – the new guys who have pushed us a little further over the hump.

In honor of the 12’s, let’s talk about the Top 12 most impactful newcomers. As you’ll see, they’re not all technically new to the team, but I’m also including guys who were holdovers who hardly played at all before this year. Before we get to the Top 12, here are a few honorable mentions:

Snacks Harrison was a guy a lot of people talked about in the run-up to the season, as a potential free agent signee. But, run defense has never really been our problem, and that’s what he does best as a run-stuffing defensive tackle. Yet, we got him back into shape midseason, and he played quite well in Bryan Mone’s absence. With Mone back, Snacks sadly asked for his release; it’s a shame there wasn’t room for him in the rotaton. Freddie Swain is a rookie 6th round wide receiver I had ZERO expectations for, but he’s had a quietly nice season (13 catches, 159 yards, and 2 TDs). As a fourth receiver new to the NFL, I’ll take it. Greg Olsen is an overpaid veteran tight end who has nevertheless been a contributor. He’s still not worth the money it cost to get him here, and he did miss a few games with a foot injury, but he worked his way back for the playoff run, and has had some nice catches on third downs to keep the chains moving (24 for 239 on the season, with 1 TD). Finally, Ugo Amadi just misses the cut. He was a rookie last year, but he wasn’t trusted with much playing time on defense. He’s stepped into a nickel cornerback role we all figured he’d be well-suited for, and he’s been great! With two more years of team control on his rookie deal, Amadi is looking like a real find for us.

12 – Ryan Neal

If I wanted to pull a cop-out move, I would’ve had Amadi and Neal tied for 12th, but then that would’ve made this a Top 13 list, and that’s just … unlucky! I put Neal just inches higher than Amadi because he REALLY came from out of nowhere to help this team out when we were in a real jam! Allegedly, Neal was on the Seahawks in 2019, but I couldn’t tell you a single thing about what he accomplished. I think he was either a practice squad guy, or one of the very lowest men on the totem pole, and that continued into the 2020 season. But, then Marquise Blair and Lano Hill – our #3 and #4 safeties – went out with injury early this season. That bumped Neal up to #3 on the depth chart, which ultimately thrust him into a starting role when Jamal Adams (spoiler alert, he ranks VERY high on this list) was out for his own injuries for a few weeks. Neal not only held his own, but he has made huge impactful plays nearly every game he’s stepped onto the field! He had picks in back-to-back games and has had lots of huge hits. It’s comforting knowing he’s around to fill in as needed.

11 – Alton Robinson

Speaking of another rookie I didn’t expect ANYTHING out of, let me introduce you to our 5th round defensive end. Remember how everyone thought Darrell Taylor (our 2nd rounder) would be the guy from this draft class to step in immediately to make an impact? Well, Taylor has yet to get healthy enough to play (and almost certainly will be held out for the entirety of his rookie season); meanwhile, Robinson has been thrust into a reserve pass rush role and has 4 sacks on the season! That’s great! Not for nothing, but our leading sacker in 2019 also had 4 sacks, which gives you an idea of what we thought of our pass rush heading into this year.

10 – L.J. Collier

Here’s another holdover who did nothing as a rookie last year. Collier has gotten plenty of snaps at both defensive end and tackle, and while he hasn’t flashed as you’d hope a first round draft pick might, he has 3 sacks on the year and a number of other impactful plays along the line of scrimmage, to be significantly better than the bust I was ready to label him as. I can’t say the sky is the limit, but getting even just competent play out of him is better than nothing.

9 – Carlos Hyde

With Rashaad Penny starting the year on the PUP list, and with Chris Carson as our injury-prone starting running back, the Seahawks were in need of a quality backup. Hyde was on the market and got a fair market value. I don’t know if he’s exceeded expectations – because he’s always been a pretty good and underrated running back – but he’s met them, and that’s enough. 356 rushing yards (4.4 average), plus another 93 receiving yards on 16 receptions (and 4 touchdowns) is everything I wanted out of him, especially since he was solid while Carson was out with his annual injury.

8 – Ethan Pocic

Here’s another guy who hadn’t done ANYTHING with the Seahawks since we drafted him in the 2nd round in 2017. Finally healthy, and finally playing his strongest position – center – he was a surprise winner of the job over incoming free agent B.J. Finney. Not only has he taken the job and ran with it, but he afforded the Seahawks an opportunity to trade Finney away for even more talent (coming up later in this post).

7 – Jordyn Brooks

Our top draft pick this year was a surprise to many. No one thought the Seahawks needed a weakside linebacker, especially considering we’ve had one of the best in K.J. Wright since the 2011 season. Nevertheless, Wright is getting up there and is in one of his final seasons. In spite of that, the first round seems kinda high to draft a linebacker, but Brooks has quietly been one of the best rookie linebackers in the league, and he’s really thrived of late now that he’s starting. On top of which, he’s allowed the team to move Wright to the strongside linebacker spot, where he has been KILLING IT! That’s been vital since Bruce Irvin – brought in to fill that role – has been lost for the season. Brooks looks like a solid starter for us for years to come, which is very encouraging to see as a rookie.

6 – Benson Mayowa

He would be higher if he hadn’t missed those games with his injury, but he has 4 sacks on the year and as part of this MUCH improved pass rushing rotation, his pressure rate is off the charts. When he was forced to play a high percentage of defensive snaps early in the season, he was far less effective, but with the emergence of those around him, they’ve afforded the Seahawks the opportunity to keep Mayowa to his part time role where he’s best suited.

5 – D.J. Reed

He would also be much higher if he hadn’t missed so many weeks with his offseason injury. But, the Seahawks are INCREDIBLY lucky to have him, and if we were basing these rankings off of the last month alone, he’d probably be second overall. Reed was a castoff from the 49ers whose season almost ended before it began. We claimed him, kept him on the NFI list, and worked him back slowly as he recovered. His return coincided with injuries to both Quinton Dunbar and Tre Flowers (as well as Shaquill Griffin, briefly); Reed has taken over that right cornerback spot and is absolutely DOMINATING! He’s the best RCB we’ve had since Byron Maxwell in his prime; on top of which, Reed can return punts! What a godsend!

4 – Carlos Dunlap

He’d be higher on this list if we had him to start the season. But, it took a rebuilding Bengals squad to take their veteran for granted, and a nifty little mid-season trade to get him here, and he has single-handedly made everyone around him on that side of the ball better. Our pass rush went from one of the very worst in all of football to 7th in the league in sacks! Even with nagging injuries slowing him down, he’s helped transform the defense as we head into the playoffs, into a unit that can actually win us games, instead of holding us back. He’s also accumulated 5 sacks in 7 games, which is phenomenal; imagine what he could do if he was fully healthy!

3 – Brandon Shell

We’ve seen what he means to the right side of this offensive line, both via the improvement over Germain Ifedi from last year, as well as via the dropoff from the guys filling in for him while he deals with his ankle sprain. This offense was never better than when we had all five of our offensive linemen fully healthy; the offense (and Russell Wilson specifically) has struggled as guys have gone down. But, Shell should be back for the playoffs, and we’re all hoping that makes all the difference.

2 – Damien Lewis

This was the rookie we were all banking on as being our biggest contributor, and he HAS exceeded expectations! I think we all expected a lot more growing pains with Lewis, but he’s stayed mostly healthy throughout the year and there have been very few breakdowns in protection where he’s concerned. And, unless I’m mistaken, I think he’s been rated quite high in the offensive line rankings on PFF (I haven’t checked myself, but I see glimpses on Twitter every once in a while). Either way, getting a starting lineman who’s actually worth a damn as a rookie is pretty rare for this team, and I’m giving him props accordingly.

1 – Jamal Adams

As if there could be any doubt. The dude is leading the team in sacks from the safety position with 9.5! He’s a generational talent and the catalyst for this defense being as special as it’s been. Yes, we gave up a ton to get him here, and we’ll have to pay him a ton to keep him here, but the dude is special. Now, if only he would start catching some of these interceptions that keep hitting him in the hands (granted, he is playing with multiple broken fingers, but still), we’d be looking even better with this guy!

The Seahawks Beat The Viking, Are Taking Years Off Of My Life

The fucking rain.

It’s like we’re the Wicked Witch of the West whenever a few droplets hit our jerseys! There was about a 2-minute period in the third quarter of this game where the rain stopped, and I honestly don’t think it’s a coincidence that those are the two minutes where the Seahawks exploded for 21 unanswered points!

There’s so much to discuss about this game.

Here are the broad strokes: the Seahawks won 27-26. The Seahawks converted exactly 0 of 7 third down opportunities. The Seahawks held the ball for just under 21 minutes of game time. The Seahawks allowed the Vikings to rush for 201 yards. The Seahawks allowed the Vikings to run 83 plays and convert 31 first downs. EVERYTHING about this game screamed not only a Vikings victory, but a Vikings BLOWOUT victory! And yet, somehow, here we are, with a 5-0 record heading into our BYE week (the first of multiple, maybe, depending on how these COVID outbreaks keep shaking out).

I can’t begin to tell you how bad the Seahawks looked in the first half. The Vikings jumped right out to a 7-0 lead on the first drive of the game and it wasn’t even all that difficult. This looked to be a modified version of our performance against the Dolphins last week – where we kept plays in front of us and forced them to dink and dunk down the field – but the difference was the fact that Dalvin Cook is maybe the best running back in all of football, and Kirk Cousins finds a way to elevate his game when he goes up against the Seahawks (not every time, but sometimes).

Ultimately, we did slow the bleeding – even forcing the Vikings to punt once in the first half – and it felt lucky that we were only down 13-0 at the break. It was pretty appalling how badly the offense was sputtering. There were breakdowns along the offensive line, there were bad throws by Wilson, and guys weren’t able to get open. But, more than anything, I think the Vikings out-schemed us. They took away anything and everything deep, and for at least a half we fed right into that. It seemed like we were looking to chuck it 40 yards on every passing play, but with nothing open, that meant Wilson was stuck back there getting clobbered by a fairly feisty pass rush.

We’ve seen these games before from the Seahawks. This felt like the most “normal” game for us in this brand new Let Russ Cook era: fall into a deep first half hole, spend the second half clawing our way back into contention. The main difference here is: the Let Russ Cook Seahawks are able to come back almost immediately! A 13-0 deficit morphed into a 21-13 lead less than halfway into the third quarter! Not only did it look like the score we expected all along, but it looked like we were going to run away with it!

It honestly seemed like the Vikings got away from their gameplan on offense – which was: pound the rock – and put the ball in Kirk Cousins’ hands. So, the fumble and BAFFLING interception on back-to-back drives certainly gave us all the confidence we needed in watching our Seahawks come back. He settled down, of course, and ultimately put the Vikings into a position to steal one. But, he’s not Russell Wilson!

In that two-minute stretch, Dalvin Cook looked like he pulled a groin, went to the locker room, and returned for one play only to sit out the remainder of the game. It didn’t matter, as his backup – Alexander Mattison – was running like a total beast. This was not the Seahawks rush defense I signed up for, nor the one I promised last week! There were glimpses of dominance – especially from Jarran Reed, who was all over the place in the interior line – but instead of giving up on it, the Vikings doubled down. The Seahawks linebackers not named K.J. Wright had a pretty awful game. They would come up big late in the fourth quarter, but Cody Barton especially looked overmatched, and reminded us why this team drafted Jordyn Brooks in the first round (hopefully he’ll return to action after the BYE week).

As soon as we took that 21-13 lead, the offense went right back into hibernation mode. 21-13 became 21-19, which then became 26-21 Vikings halfway through the fourth quarter. More long, clock-churning drives. And THEN, one of the worst interceptions I’d ever seen from Russell Wilson!

That gave the Vikings the ball back at midfield, with just under six minutes in the game. They drove it all the way (eventually) inside the Seahawks 10 yard line at the two minute warning, for the play of the game. 4th down & 1 at the Seattle 6 yard line. Kick a field goal, and the Vikings would lead by 8 points, necessitating the Seahawks to drive approximately 75 yards for a touchdown (and a two-point conversion) in just under two minutes with only 1 time out. OR, go for it and seal the victory by getting a single yard. For a team that averaged 4.9 yards per carry on the day, it seemed like a no-brainer. As a Seahawks fan, I was dreading them going for it, which should tell you all you need to know about their decision being a smart one. The fact that my aggressive ways agree with what the math tells you is just a bonus; every once in a while I find myself on the right side of history, and I agree, it feels weird. Of course, with the Vikings ultimately NOT converting 4th & 1, and losing the game, in retrospect makes the choice to kick a field goal there more enticing. But, I’d like to think I wouldn’t be furious with my team if I were a Vikings fan right now.

I’d LIKE to think that, but, you know me …

The Seahawks still needed to score a touchdown to win it, and that was no sure thing! Not with the way we’d been trying to move the ball for all but two minutes of the game! Indeed, we were on our own 23 yard line, 4th & 10, with the game on the line and I was convinced it was over. I just couldn’t believe how badly Wilson was missing the mark on some of his patented deep throws! It seems impossible for him to over-shoot these guys when he puts so much arc on them, but there were a number of opportunities that shot well over the intended mark (I don’t know HOW you over-throw D.K. Metcalf, but he found away!). Anyway, thank Christ for Metcalf, who caught a lob ball down the left sideline to convert that 4th down; just a beauty of a 39-yard play! From there, the game-winning TD felt inevitable, and my main concern was not scoring TOO fast, to leave the Vikings time to go down and kick a field goal!

And yet, there we were, 4th & Goal at the 6-yard line with 20 seconds left. I guess that’s the third “Play of the Game” in this one? Once again, who does Wilson go to but D.K. Metcalf coming across the middle of the endzone?! With 15 seconds to go in the game, the Vikings converted one short pass and fumbled on the final play of the game to end it.

Not the best game in the world for Wilson – 217 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT – but his rating was still over 100. The rushing attack probably could’ve been leaned on more as Wilson, Carson, and Homer combined for 124 yards on only 16 carries (for a 7.8 average). D.K. was obviously the receiving star, with 6 catches for 93 yards and 2 touchdowns.

Defensively, K.J. Wright was phenomenal (including a 1-handed interception after dropping so many last week!). Shaquill Griffin had a strong coverage game. Ryan Neal continues to make plays at safety in lieu of Jamal Adams. Jarran Reed came up huge a number of times. Benson Mayowa looked good (the line combined for 3 sacks, which isn’t terrible). And, honestly, the best performance on either team might’ve come from our punter, Michael Dickson, who dropped 4 of 5 punts inside the 20 yard line, including two that landed inside the 2-yard line! The fact that our defense couldn’t make them pay for such poor field position is quite concerning.

The BYE week – as I’ve been saying for a while now – couldn’t come at a better time for this team. We’ve had a ton of guys show up on the injury report in recent weeks; most of them should be healthy as we head into our Week 7 matchup down in Arizona. More importantly, I hope to see some of the defensive issues cleaned up in these next two weeks, before we take on a potent-looking Cardinals offense.

For now, we get to take a deep breath and relax. The rest of the NFL is a COVID nightmare, but we’re 5-0 and alone in first place in the NFC (for the time being). Part of me knows it might not get any better than this, but I’m a romantic at heart, and I want so desperately to believe the best is yet to come! I think the Seahawks have what it takes.

But, just in case, let’s build a giant bubble to put over them so that nasty ol’ rain doesn’t interfere!

The Seahawks Remain Perfect While Still Being Entirely Imperfect

There aren’t any BAD 4-0 teams in the NFL. I can say this, of course, because the Chicago Bears finally lost (HI-YO!), but that’s neither here nor there. You don’t really get to complain about your team once you’re undefeated after a quarter of the season. This is awfully exciting, and ever-so-much fun! At this very moment, it’s just us and the Bills leading the way in the NFL (with a smattering of 3-0 teams lurking off in the distance).

But, obviously, the Seahawks are only “perfect” in record (and, quarterback too, I suppose); there are still things for this team to improve upon. And, not for nothing, but there are deficiencies that are always going to be there! Deficiencies we’re going to have to overcome on a weekly basis if we aim to keep this Rock N’ Roll Train a-rollin’.

It was all on display yesterday down in Miami, as the Seahawks beat the Dolphins 31-23 (it was 31-15 before a late touchdown by Ryan FitzGarbagePoints ran one in, almost making my score prediction last week pretty close!). The frustration, the glory, the rage, the surprise, the awe. It wasn’t the prettiest, but it nevertheless got my mojo rising, so let’s get into it!

It feels like a million years ago, but this game actually started out with another interception by Ryan Neal on the very first drive (after he caught the game-ending pick against Dallas the week prior)! Indeed, Ryan Fitzpatrick wasn’t very good in this one. He threw two picks and honestly probably should’ve thrown two more, if our guys didn’t keep dropping them. It’s a bit of a shame that they did, because Miami’s yardage total wouldn’t look nearly as good if we’d held on. But, regardless, the Seahawks were up 7-0 before we knew it, and this one had all the makings of a blowout.

The offense went weirdly cold for most of the rest of the first half, unfortunately. It was 10-9 with 24 seconds to go before halftime when we got the ball back. You could be forgiven if you didn’t expect anything to come out of this possession. Hell, in years past, we would’ve just handed the ball off to a running back up the middle for a 5-yard gain and regrouped for the second half! But, not this year! Not with MVP Wilson calling the shots! We hit Greg Olsen for 11 yards, called time out, and proceeded to find David Moore running WIDE open down the left sideline for 57 yards! How the Dolphins managed to leave him alone like that, I’ll never understand, but that gave us 1st & Goal at the 7 yard line with 10 seconds left. It took us four seconds to throw it down to the 3 yard line, and another three seconds to toss it to Travis Homer. Yes, it took all of 21 seconds for this offense to go 75 yards and extend our lead to 17-9. THAT is an offense that’s capable of carrying a team to a championship!

Since we got the ball back immediately after halftime, I was hoping we’d just put the hammer down right then and there and run out the clock for an easy victory. We almost did! But, the drive was vanquished in the Miami endzone with a rare Wilson interception. Once again, the lights went out with the offense, as the Dolphins clawed back to 17-15 (all on field goal drives) midway through the fourth quarter, as Miami held an insane Time of Possession advantage at this point.

I’ll be honest, I was a little unnerved! This was EXACTLY the scenario I was worried about! Stupid mistakes costing the Seahawks, letting the Dolphins hang around, and needing to pull a rabbit out of our asses in the end! But, of course, there were two things I was overlooking: the defense was playing exactly to design, and the offense would eventually figure it out.

It can be a little maddening to watch this defense sometimes. Even at its peak – when it was the very best defense in all of football – this is the style we’ve played: keep plays in front of you (don’t let them hit any deep balls) and force opposing offenses to dink and dunk down the field if they’re going to score. The difference between yesterday’s performance and ones from yore is that we just don’t have the level of talent now to really punish other teams. So, when they dink and dunk, they’ll do so for a while! There’s a helplessness to it. Like we’re never going to stop them, and they’re going to continue converting new first downs until the end of time.

Thankfully, these were the Dolphins, and five of their six scoring drives ended in a field goal. One or two more touchdowns in there and we might be singing a different tune today.

The offense did figure it out, at the best possible time. Our 17-15 lead expanded to 24-15 with a beautiful 17-yard touchdown pass to David Moore in the back corner of the endzone. Then, after Shaquill Griffin picked off Fitzpatrick (he really played a flawless game in this one, in locking down his side of the field), we marched right down the field – on the legs of D.K. Metcalf, who caught a quick out at the sideline and bullied his way to the 1-yard line – before Chris Carson plunged over the goalline for his second TD of the game. From that point, it was just a matter of wasting clock and recovering an onside kick.

Wilson’s MVP campaign continued on, though of course this wasn’t quite as breathtaking. He nevertheless threw for 360 yards and 2 touchdowns (to tie the record for most TD passes through four games, with 16).

I would argue Carson was actually the star of this one. Remember last week when that Dallas defender tried to twist his leg off? Remember when it looked like Carson might miss a few weeks? Well, he not only returned without missing any games, but started and really carried the load! 80 yards on 16 carries (the other running backs only handled it 6 times, not counting Wilson scrambles), with another 3 receptions for 20 yards. The offense obviously isn’t going through Carson anymore, but that doesn’t mean he’s not vital to making this whole thing work. I’d love to know how many times Wilson changed a play to a run, where Carson was able to burst through a huge hole – in a light box – for a significant gain (because the opposing defense was so concerned about Wilson throwing it on them). That’s going to be a considerable trend the rest of this season, as more teams adjust to the new Seahawks way of doing things.

D.K. Metcalf led the way for receivers, with 4 catches for 106 yards. David Moore had more of the highlights, as he caught 3 for 95 and a TD. Tyler Lockett had a relatively quiet day, but that’s just a matter of Wilson spreading the ball around (nine guys caught balls in this one, with eight guys catching at least two).

If I have one thing that irked me about the offense, it has to do with this weird notion that they need to shuffle guys on the offensive line for some reason? I know they talked about this a while back, I think as a function of not having a real pre-season, but I don’t get it. Isn’t the whole thing about the O-Line that they need continuity and reps together with the same guys? Will someone explain to me why Cedric Ogbuehi is in the game at all, let alone on a relatively critical drive in the first half where we’re going for it on fourth down? Brandon Shell has more than proven why we signed him to that contract in free agency: he’s CLEARLY the best right tackle on the team. So, is it any shock that Ogbuehi gave up the sack on fourth down to stall yet another potential scoring drive? I didn’t notice him in the game at all after that, so, I dunno, maybe keep it that way? I mean, yeah, I get it, you want guys to have experience in case others get injured. But, he’s a professional and a veteran, if we need him, he’ll figure it out. Right now, let’s keep our BEST guys out there and rack up huge leads! That way, when the game is out of reach, we can start playing our backups to give them some experience when it doesn’t matter as much. Just a thought.

On defense, I thought we showed flashes of competence. Only one sack, of course, isn’t very inspiring (particularly when Fitzpatrick threw it 45 times), but I thought Miami had a really smart gameplan. They never totally abandoned the run until late in the game and the Seahawks were up by two scores. That kept them in manageable situations, which meant there weren’t a lot of obvious passing situations where we could send in our specialists to tee off and get after the quarterback. That’s my way of saying I wish we could’ve had more Shaquem Griffin, because he’s always electric whenever he’s rushing the passer.

The rush defense was fairly on point. Fitzpatrick led the way with his scrambling (6 for 47 and a touchdown), but the other guys combined for 56 yards on 16 carries (3.5 yards per carry average).

K.J. Wright, in spite of his dropped interceptions, otherwise had a remarkable game, with lots of shoestring tackles preventing big plays. That guy’s wingspan is simply incredible, as he’s able to get to guys he shouldn’t, even if he’s actively engaged with a blocker! Bobby Wagner led the team in tackles with 12, and I thought most of our secondary was pretty sticky and making plays (Ryan Neal is a revelation, and Ugo Amadi is up there among our best cover guys).

If I can bitch about anything for a moment, it has to be Tre Flowers, who might want to consider calling his post-football late night chat show “Picking On Tre Flowers”, because the dude gets absolutely molested on a daily basis in this defense. He’s really a problem for this team, and ultimately I don’t see him as a Seahawk-type defender. He’s too soft, in all respects. I know the objective for this defense was to keep everything in front of them – to not give up big plays deep – but he’s giving up SO MUCH cushion, on every single down! If it’s 3rd & 6, why are you lining up 12 yards deep? That’s the easiest pre-snap read for even the most bumbling of quarterbacks! By all accounts, it sounds like his confidence is totally shot. Quinton Dunbar coming in and taking his job has really gotten into his head. After Dunbar has struggled when he was in there, on top of being injured these last two weeks, Flowers finally has a shot at redemption and to take his job back for good, and what has he done? He’s gotten used and abused, first by an elite quarterback in Dak Prescott, and now by a mediocre one in Ryan Fitzpatrick. Year three is supposed to be the year where you take your game to new heights; Flowers is regressing. I imagine year four will be pretty quiet for him, and after that he’ll be on a new team.

Probably the best thing to come from this game is a lack of new injuries. FINALLY! Now, we can enjoy the soft landing that is the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday Night Football next week, followed by a much-needed BYE week.

It’s funny what a 4-0 start will do for you, when looking at the upcoming schedule. Potential losses start looking like easy victories, and even those certain losses start looking like toss-ups. The outlook is bright! And I can’t help but be really excited for what’s to come!