Seahawks Death Week 2022: Quarterbacks On The 2023 Roster

I blathered on and on about the rest of the Seahawks free agents yesterday (just prior to one of them re-signing for a big-money payday), now it’s time to talk about the most important position (of which we currently have zero on the 2023 roster), and the two guys who are set to be unrestricted free agents this year: Geno Smith and Drew Lock.

I think it’s fair to say 2022 didn’t go how I expected AT ALL. I was under the impression that this team was bound and determined to hand the starting job to Drew Lock in the pre-season. We’ll never know if that was accurate or not, since he got COVID right before the game he would’ve started. Nevertheless, just watching the games, it was clear who the better man was: Geno Smith, hands down.

That isn’t saying much, because the Seahawks’ offense in the pre-season was the worst I’d seen in ages. They couldn’t move the ball for shit! It was fucking embarrassing. Which led to my extremely dour prognosis heading into the regular season, that the Seahawks wouldn’t win more than 3-4 games. They more than doubled that.

So, yeah, I’m bad at my job is what I’m getting at. I mean, the job of Fan/Blogger doesn’t pay anything, so you get what you pay for, but still.

I feel like – if I had to rank all expectations around this team – the least likely would’ve been the possibility that either of these guys would be back in 2023. Yet, here we are, with the very real possibility that BOTH might return.

Obviously, there’s chatter around Geno Smith coming back on a big money deal. That’s what happens when you have statistically one of the best (if not THE best) seasons in franchise history. There’s lots of speculation of anywhere from 2-4 years, and anywhere from $70 million to $150 million. So, this is a serious thing we’re about to walk into.

I’m firmly entrenched in the camp that has reservations about this move. I don’t fully trust Geno Smith in the big games. I don’t like the thought of tying up so much of our cap to him, especially when we have so many other holes we need to fill. It forces us to really nail the draft in ways we’ve only done once or twice since the heyday of 2010-2012.

Brock & Salk had an interesting thought exercise this week: would you rather have Geno Smith at whatever it’s going to cost to keep him (over $30 million per year), or Drew Lock and a $20 million defensive lineman (meaning, one of the very best D-linemen in the league). I don’t really know how to answer that.

They keep saying things about how the Seahawks coaches like what they’ve seen out of Drew Lock, putting it out there that he’s been doing well in practice and could conceivably be a viable option to take over as starter in this offense. I don’t know what to say to that either. I can take their word for it, I guess, but every time I’ve seen Drew Lock on the field, he’s been a nightmare. Also, how good could he possibly look in regular season practices when Geno is the starter and ostensibly getting the bulk of the reps? It all sounds fishy, like the team is leaking rumors of Lock’s competence in hopes Geno’s price will somehow be driven down. The logic isn’t totally there, but I still don’t believe Lock is worth a damn.

What is Drew Lock supposed to command on the open market? He’s a failed high-round draft pick, a failed starter in this league, and he failed to beat out Geno Smith when his value was remarkably low. You’re telling me there’s an organization out there who believes in Drew Lock, and is going to offer him on the high-end of a backup quarterback contract? As if he’s Gardner Minshew or Cooper Rush or Jameis Winston?

He should get the fucking minimum and like it! And be grateful he’s not reduced to the scrap heap of the XFL or USFL.

But, if what they’re saying is true, and Lock has looked good in practice, then why wouldn’t you pay him a low-dollar amount to be the starter (with incentives, of course) and then go out and trade for a top-of-the-line defensive pass rusher? Pair that guy with whoever you get with the 5th pick, then go after a lower first/high second round quarterback prospect.

Honestly, I’d love for the Seahawks to take that risk. Let Geno walk. See what he commands on the open market, and more importantly, see what he looks like in a different offensive scheme, behind a possibly-worse offensive line. I bet he reverts to the Geno Of Old real damn quick.

Go balls to the wall and believe in the Shane Waldron/Sean McVay system! Put anyone back there and see how they do! Cheap out on a veteran and go after draft picks to see if we hit on someone special!

Here’s my outlook on things; you may not agree with me and that’s fine. But, I feel like we’ve hit pretty close to the ceiling of what Geno Smith has to offer. I think he’s good enough to keep us middle-of-the-pack. He can get us into the playoffs, but he can’t lead us on a deep playoff run. If we had an elite team around him – like the 49ers – then it might be doable.

I’d rather risk it with a veteran making the minimum and spend our free agent dollars on superstars at other positions of need. I’d rather go to the quarterback well in the draft year after year until we hit on a stud. Then, ride that stud on his rookie deal as far as he’ll take us. If we fail, then fine, we draft higher and get more quality bites at the apple. If the cheap player(s) succeed, then great, we know the offensive scheme is great and can continue to reload at the QB spot with reduced capital, to continue bolstering our roster elsewhere.

I’m not gonna lie to you, I haven’t been this enamored with a team since the Seahawks of the L.O.B. days, but I really am fascinated with what the 49ers are doing this year. If I didn’t hate their fans and their organization so much, I’d be actively rooting for them the rest of this year’s playoffs! What they’re doing with a third string, seventh round quarterback, is truly amazing, and it’s everything I’ve ever wanted out of my own football team. I want what they have! I want the Seahawks to scheme their way to offensive success, and just overpower their opponents on defense. It’s fucking awesome!

Bottom line: I don’t believe in Drew Lock, but I don’t believe in Geno Smith either. So, let Geno Smith walk, use the #5 draft pick on a stud defensive lineman, use one of our other first/second round picks on a quarterback we believe can develop in this system relatively quickly, and use the cost savings to really go hard in free agency and in trades for elite players. It’s not conventional, but what has convention gotten us?

The Seahawks have been conventional since 2015, and it’s resulted in an endless run of disappointing finishes. We haven’t even been good enough to get back to the conference title game, let alone the Super Bowl. Maybe it’s time to be unconventional again. Zag where the rest of the NFL zigs, like we were doing when Pete Carroll and John Schneider first got here.

Is Geno Smith Worth $33+ Million On The Open Market?

At some point, I talked about how I’d gladly re-sign Geno Smith for $20-$25 million. That’s assuming, of course, that Shane Waldron is still here – and isn’t hired as a head coach somewhere after this fantastic performance – but it goes completely out the window if he’s gone. I base that on Geno Smith being a pretty great fit for this very specific scheme.

I also think there’s a lot of risk that comes with giving Geno a big-money extension after one great season. At this point, it’s not even one great season, with six games left to play. But, it’s hard for me to reconcile what we’ve seen from him in his career to date.

I understand where this $33ish million figure comes from. That’s right around what he would cost on a franchise tag. At this point, I think Geno would readily accept a franchise tag at that cost; I don’t think the Seahawks want any part of that, since the entire tag becomes fully guaranteed, and cripples your salary cap accordingly. If you’re the Seahawks, you want a 2+ year deal, to spread out the signing bonus, and limit the number of guaranteed money over the long haul.

What I don’t understand is why the franchise tag is automatically the floor. Is Geno Smith going to command $30+ million on the open market? Is he nearly as valuable in any other system? With a lesser offensive line protecting him? With lesser targets to throw to?

The last thing I want to do is get into a bidding war for Geno Smith, who has a definite shelf life. Even if we assume this is the new normal for Geno, I give it two years before we start seeing a decline. The Seahawks need to address the quarterback position not just in the short term, but in the long term as well. I have no problem handing him the team in 2023. But, in 2024 and beyond, I’d like to be looking towards a younger franchise quarterback to take over. It’s why you build through the draft, so you can use your cap dollars in other ways, with the quarterback position not taking such a significant portion of the pie.

The lone upside – as I see it – to extending Geno is the fact that we can use all of our draft capital on other areas of need. It sure would be nice to have both first round picks available to bolster our weak defensive line. Maybe grab a high-level linebacker early in the second round, and then either grab a guard/center with the other, or just take the best player available, regardless of position. But, my concern with that is similar to my concern about drafting a quarterback: what if they’re not good right away, or ever? Sure, we’d have Geno Smith, but if we’re still having the same problems stopping the run and rushing the passer, then we’re no better than we are now, with the limited shelf life of a competent Geno Smith.

I guess my whole thing is: I’m never going to be happy if we don’t select a quarterback in one of the first two rounds next year. But, regardless, if some other team is willing to throw gobs of money at Geno, godspeed. Let them have him. What I think this year has shown me more than anything else is that you can plug & play pretty much anyone in the Shane Waldron (née Sean McVay) system and get serviceable results. Just like Jared Goff a few years ago taking the Rams to the Super Bowl; we don’t need to break the bank on Geno Smith or anyone for that matter. Let the rest of the NFL ravage that carcass. The Seahawks can carve out their own path.

Should The Seahawks Extend Geno Smith?

When you’ve lived your life for many years under a particular assumption, it can be difficult to then accept a new reality. Pretty much since Geno Smith was drafted and started playing as a rookie in 2013, my opinion of him has been highly negative. It’s easy to write off a “bad quarterback”. It’s much harder for that opinion to flip the other way. Great quarterbacks seem like they start out great, so if you’re not immediately lighting the world on fire within the first six or so weeks, then you’re automatically relegated to Bust status.

Almost always, when a quarterback is labeled a Bust, he stays a bust forever. There are occasional guys who take a little longer to break through. Some guys just need time to develop (Josh Allen had a rocky first year before settling in). Some guys need stability within the coaching staff to grow (Tua being a prime example). Some guys need a change of scenery (Ryan Tannehill being a notable one). However, Geno Smith seemingly needed all of these things before it finally clicked.

What befuddles me about Geno Smith is the fact that he was extremely mediocre-to-bad with the Jets. He continued along that path as a backup with the Giants and Chargers. And even though he’s been with the Seahawks since 2019, I haven’t noticed a single change in his level of play before this year. Whenever he’s gotten into pre-season games, he’s been the same ol’ Geno Smith. When he started three games last year – in Shane Waldron’s system – he looked just as mediocre-to-bad as ever (his one great game was against the Jags, the consensus worst team in football at the time). Even this past pre-season – when he regularly got starter’s snaps in practice – he looked like a liability. He looked like someone the team couldn’t wait to cut, if only Drew Lock showed one iota of competence. I still contend that if Lock hadn’t gotten COVID and missed that second pre-season game, he would’ve been our starter heading into the regular season.

And even though Geno came out on fire in the first half of that Broncos game in week one, there were a number of growing pains early in the regular season (especially in a 20-point loss to the 49ers. But, starting with that shootout against the Lions, Geno’s not just been adequate, he’s been legitimately great! He’s been so great, people are clamoring for the Seahawks to extend him NOW. During the season, not later, when he hits the free agent market. And, these aren’t just reactionary fans, but smart football prognosticators. It’s something I never would’ve imagined in a million years.

So, I’m here to work this out in my mind. Should the Seahawks extend Geno Smith? How big of a deal should they sign him to? Should they also bother drafting a quarterback early next year?

There’s a lot of variables we just don’t know the answers to. For starters, we still don’t REALLY know how legitimate this improvement is. I understand the logic of signing Geno to an extension now: you hope to gain some semblance of a discount by not having to compete on the open market. But, you’re talking about a guy who’s not afraid to bet on himself. You’re talking about a guy who has signed repeated 1-year deals to stay here. You’re also talking about his first period of sustained success; he’s going to want to cash in on this opportunity. He’s 32 years old, this is probably his one and only opportunity to gain generational wealth on a big-time deal.

Since he is 32 years old, and he has such a history of mediocrity, I don’t think there’s any way he’s getting some sort of top-of-market contract. He’s not going to get $50 million per year, or anywhere close to it. Nor is he going to sign for anything more than 4-5 years (with probably only 1-2 of them guaranteed). I would also argue he’s very much a product of this particular system. Unless the Rams are going to cut Stafford and make a play for Geno, I don’t see him having nearly the same success with just any quarterback-needy team. On top of which, the Seahawks’ offensive line has been tremendous. Put him on a team with a Swiss cheese line and you’ll see him struggle just like most everyone else.

So, I don’t really believe Geno has the leverage you’d expect. That doesn’t mean he won’t have earned himself a nice little raise. But, I do think we can afford to let this season play out and THEN try to re-sign him. Also, not for nothing, but I don’t know if we even could afford to extend him now, with how much our salary cap is tied up in dead money.

In short, I’m in favor of waiting to extend him. But, I do believe – if he continues to play at this high level – that he does deserve an extension. I think this level of play would be a bargain at $20-$25 million per year, with 2023 and maybe a portion of 2024 guaranteed. I’d be reluctant to go over $25 million, though. There’s a point where he’s going to turn back into a pumpkin, and it’s probably sooner than we’d like.

As such, I would also look to draft a quarterback in the first round next year.

This is where I’m torn, though. One of the big perks of moving on from a high-priced quarterback is the grace period you have with a new guy on a rookie deal. You get to enjoy all the savings – while hopefully the rookie pans out and turns into a stud early on in his development – so you can build around him and hopefully make the Super Bowl before that guy is going to cost you an arm and a leg.

But, if we jump right from Russell Wilson making what he made (and costing us dearly in dead money) to Geno Smith making upwards of $25 million, you’re not really getting that competitive financial advantage. If we draft a rookie in the first round next year, he’ll almost certainly sit behind Geno the whole season (maybe even the first two). Then, if you move on from Geno to the guy on the third year of his rookie deal, you’re dealing with a season of him gaining experience, before he hopefully figures it out in year four. At which point, if he does figure it out, he’s going to command a huge contract, and you’ve essentially wasted his entire period of affordability, while needing to make difficult decisions elsewhere on the roster to keep him around.

The flipside to that argument is, of course, the fact that rookies aren’t guaranteed to be great, even when you draft them high in the first round. If the idea is to win football games, and Geno Smith is playing at a level that can win you a lot of football games, it’s probably more prudent to keep him around, while letting the young guy learn and develop at a slower pace. But, if the young guy is special, it would be a shame to have to sit him for longer than absolutely necessary. Aaron Rodgers hardly played at all his first three years; that seems crazy in today’s game.

Another variable to consider is: what happens if the Seahawks don’t have a Top 10 draft pick? What happens if we make the playoffs (which puts us drafting into the 20’s) and the Broncos improve to the point where maybe they approach .500 (or, God forbid, if they also make it as a wild card team in a weaker-than-expected AFC; they do still have time to turn things around)? Is there a quarterback we’d feel comfortable trading up for in the first round? Or, would we use our first rounders on other players and maybe focus on the 2nd or 3rd round for a rookie QB?

There’s a nightmare scenario where the Seahawks have two draft picks in the 20’s, where all of the elite-level quarterbacks and pass rushers have gone off the board. We’re already set at offensive tackle, we’ve got a couple great receivers (and are never really looking to draft receiver that highly), we’ve got solid cornerbacks (and, again, don’t usually look to this spot in the draft to take that position). So, there’s a real chance that we have to settle for a lower-tier pass rusher, or we have to reach for a linebacker or a lesser quarterback prospect. That’s not what I want to see, even if we’re able to extend Geno Smith on a team-friendly deal.

Lost in all of this might be the most important question of all: can the Seahawks win a championship with Geno Smith in the next 2-3 years? Before this year, I would’ve said unequivocally, 1,000% no. But now? There’s a slight glimmer of hope. I would still contend the Seahawks haven’t played anyone super great, and won’t until we go to play Kansas City late in the year. As far as the best teams in the NFC are concerned – Philly, Dallas, Minnesota – we wouldn’t see them until maybe the playoffs. And if we bank on the 49ers, Rams, and Bucs having at least good-to-great defenses, I’d like to see how Geno fares against them before making any real proclamation on his ability to take us all the way.

If he can keep it up, and show out against those teams, then I’d have to grudgingly say yes, we could win a championship with Geno. But, I’m really going to need to see it with my own eyes before I’ll fully believe.

The Discourse Around Russell Wilson Makes Me Uncomfortable

Right off the bat, I’d like to point out that I’m as guilty of it as anyone. I’m no scold; I’ll own up to it: I’m delighting in the struggles of Russell Wilson.

This goes beyond rooting against the Broncos because we have their top two picks next year, though that plays a HUGE part in it. But, there’s something about Russell Wilson that rubs me the wrong way. So, I’m sort of relishing in the numbers being thrown around on Twitter, I’m laughing at the mocking of the front he puts on for the media and his weird videos/commercials, and I’m even a little smug about his injury issues (as if I could see it coming and I’m saying to no one “I told you so”).

Russell Wilson is kind of a fascinating character (and I say that intentionally; I think he’s playing a character in front of everyone, at least when it comes to his professional and public self), because there’s so much awkward weird robotic-ness that we can see, there are so many stories bandied about him behind the scenes, there are even more whispers about him that are maybe-rumors/maybe-lies/maybe-truths, and then there’s just so much that we absolutely don’t know. We don’t know what he’s like behind closed doors, with close friends and family (and advisors and agents and lawyers and hangers on). This could just be who he is with everyone, and everyone puts up with it because he makes them a lot of money. Or, he could be a total 180 of a person in his private life.

We also don’t know what it’s like to be in Russell Wilson’s head. He’s had this persona drilled into him from such a young age, it might be impossible to ever know the difference. Maybe there’s a little internal Russ that was proverbially beaten out of him at a young age, to the point where he just doesn’t know how to interact with human beings. He’s seen video of humans interacting. He’s watched others around him. He can sort of emulate human actions, human speech, human emotions. But, the driven part of his personality – the overwhelming majority of the internal Russell Wilson – just absorbs everything.

He sounds insufferable. It also sounds exhausting to be him. Not just from a workout perspective, but from a lifestyle perspective. He can’t just be a regular dude in his down time. He’s gotta be Russell Wilson, Professional Professional.

At the same time, he doesn’t seem like a bad guy. Now, who knows, right? There could be plenty of sinister skeletons in his closet featuring a bevy of alleged crimes. But, really, he seems like an okay person. He visits kids in children’s hospitals. Granted, that’s part of this persona he concocted; he’s not just the wannabe NFL Hall of Famer, but he’s the Children’s Hospital Guy. Nevertheless, he does it! He follows through. To a lot of fanfare at first, and then to little-to-no fanfare after a while. Week-in and week-out. Presumably; I’m not the keeper of Russell Wilson’s schedule. I haven’t heard anything to the contrary though.

He reminds me a lot of Michael Jackson, minus all the alleged diddling. But, we’re talking about guys who never really got to have childhoods, who were conditioned from a very young age to be in front of cameras and to be in front of thousands of adoring fans. We’re talking about people who reached the heights of their professions, who have the drive to be the very best, but at an obvious personal price. Obviously, Michael Jackson came out much more fucked up than Russell Wilson, but I would argue there’s real damage to Wilson’s development. You gotta wonder: does he have childhood friends? Or, was he always more emotionally attuned to being around adults? Was he the kid who was better friends with his coaches and teachers than his fellow players and students? Or worse, did he used to have a bunch of childhood friends and maintained a lot of normal relationships growing up, only to eschew them once he advanced through college and into the pros? I don’t know what’s sadder, but I would give almost any amount of money to get a sit-down with his ex-wife and listen to her tell stories for three hours.

Part of me feels bad for him, but like I keep saying, I don’t know him at all. He could be a colossal dick for all I know! Regardless, he doesn’t seem to be very grounded. There are plenty of mega-celebs out there who can make themselves look very down to earth and “everyman”. Russell Wilson is not one of them.

I don’t hate Russell Wilson. I don’t even dislike him. I’m pretty neutral on the persona he throws out there, and even if he is a phony, he still does enough good things (or, at least, not-bad things) to make himself likable. Okay, so he doesn’t get along or even try to associate with teammates. Okay, so his personality rubs some media people the wrong way. He’s not Opinionated Aaron Rodgers. He’s not Folksy Peyton Manning. He’s not Unfiltered Charles Barkley. Hell, he’s not even Tom Brady (who’s about as guarded as it gets, yet can still be charming as all get-out when he wants to be). That doesn’t make him a villain.

And oh, by the way, he also helped lead the Seahawks to their only Super Bowl championship (and two of their three appearances). Was he the be-all/end-all of quarterbacks? No, but he’s still the best we’ve ever had. Was the single-handedly the reason why those teams were good and we won all those games? Of course not, there were a lot of future Hall of Famers on those teams (and otherwise very good players) who gave us the magic elixir to win at such a high rate. But, I will say that we couldn’t have swapped Russell Wilson out for just anyone. We still needed his very specific magic to pull off what we were able to pull off. I refuse to discount everything he’s ever done to bring the Seahawks to greatness just because he’s been on the downslide of his career for the last few seasons.

I agree wholeheartedly with the decision to trade Russell Wilson. I think the Seahawks are in a much better place now. If I’m being honest, I think the rebuild started maybe a year or two too late. I also – not for nothing – probably would’ve gotten over it if we’d never offered him that third contract. If we had been able to draft a Josh Allen or a Patrick Mahomes, I would’ve gladly moved on way back when. I was worried about Russell Wilson being a potential problem back when he was on his rookie deal. I wish I could pull it, because I remember specifically writing about how all of these guys become me-first divas. They start worrying more about their stats and their legacy than they do about winning. Russell Wilson was never going to be the game manager Pete Carroll wanted him to be. He wasn’t even a game manager back when the Seahawks were competing for Super Bowls, but he was also much more willing to play within the conservative system we’d set up around him. Starting with 2015 and beyond, it became more about his quest for MVP votes. And, unfortunately for him, you can’t buy those, and you can’t win them in a popularity contest. You have to earn them on the field. And, more often than not, it was Russell Wilson’s own failing that prevented him from taking that next step.

That being said, for the most part, I relished every minute that Russell Wilson was a Seattle Seahawk. He was fun as hell to watch! The way he was able to elude pressure and generate huge plays down field will be something I never forget. He might not be an MVP, he might not even make the Hall of Fame when it’s all said and done, but he has a Hall of Fame highlight reel that you could put up against any of the all-time greats. I’m not kidding. There’s never been a Seahawk with a better set of highlights. There might not be anyone else in the NFL today who can top Russ. Maybe Mahomes, but I would argue the variety of plays we’ve seen out of Wilson is unmatched. Not just in blowouts, not just in random Sunday afternoon home games, but in the biggest moments, on the biggest stages, with the whole world watching.

So, why do I have such schadenfreude towards him?

It’s a real primal reaction, I should say that. There’s very little logic to it, given the way I’ve laid it out today. I imagine it’s the way one would feel about an ex who’s moved on. Maybe you didn’t part on the best of terms, but it also wasn’t the messiest divorce either. Nevertheless, there’s an animal inside of you who wants them to be forever suffering with regret for shunning you the way they did.

To be fair, there’s very little logic to being a fan of sports teams period! So, this falls right in line with that. You don’t want to play for the Seahawks anymore? Then fuck you, I hope you’re miserable for the rest of your days.

There’s also part of me that relishes in being right. Everyone has to pick a side in any argument nowadays, and I staked my claim pretty publicly that I think the Seahawks are in the right – sticking with Pete and John – and I’d rather head into a rebuild with those two guys making the calls, over a new front office catering to Russell Wilson’s every whim. I wanted no part in a Russell Wilson contract that saw him earning upwards of $50 million a year. I wanted no part in another protracted negotiating year of back-and-forth leaked sniping to the media ahead of an inevitable contract extension. And I wanted no part of an older, slower, less accurate Russell Wilson in the twilight of his career.

Really, I was done with the whole online discourse. The chicken or the egg argument of who’s at fault, Pete Carroll for holding Russ back, or Russell Wilson for not playing within our offensive system. A system, mind you, that he personally vouched for and approved, in bringing over Shane Waldron from the Rams. Let’s just be done with it and find out once and for all.

And, not to toot my own horn or anything, but at this early juncture it seems like the right moves were made. Get rid of Russell Wilson, acquire lots of draft picks, and use all your draft picks to bolster the rest of this roster ahead of the next great Seahawks quarterback.

The only question that remains is: will that Next Great Seahawks Quarterback be someone who’s been here all along – Geno Smith – or will it be whoever we look to draft next year? I think that’s a legitimate question that will only get murkier in the coming months.

One answer to a question no one asked – who is better, Russell Wilson or Geno Smith – appears to be answered before our very eyes. I’ve seen plenty of Wilson in a Broncos jersey to date this season, and both my eyes and the numbers bear it out: Geno Smith in a landslide. Not that I’m the biggest Geno Believer or anything, but that’s pretty cool to see.

It’s fun to be a Seahawks fan again. I wasn’t able to say that all the time in recent years. And, if you base fun on a team’s ability to compete at a championship level, then this team hasn’t been fun since 2015 (not that we’re a potential championship team this year, but that’s just illustrative of long we’ve been waning in this league). We were always in it for the playoffs and the division (until 2021), but we never felt like a legitimate contender in all those years since. It felt more like we needed an unsustainable amount of Russell Wilson wizardry pulling our asses out of the fire for things to go our way.

Lo and behold, all that time, we never realized how much Russell Wilson was actually putting us INTO those fires he tried so desperately to then pull us out of. Was he doing it intentionally? Was he that psycho mom who poisons her child, just so they have to depend on her nursing them back to health? Maybe not consciously, but I’m sure he didn’t hate being the hero to pull everyone to safety, while at the same time being falsely modest afterwards. I’m willing to believe Russell Wilson is a pretty big narcissist; him being humble is part of the act I just don’t buy. He might not feel comfortable talking himself up, but I bet he loves it when everyone else does.

Well, no one’s talking him up now. Quite the contrary. Everyone’s all too happily digging his grave. At some point, it’ll come around to being sad again. But now? This year? Let’s bury the motherfucker. The Seahawks could use a top 5 draft pick, and they’re sure as shit not going to get there with their own draft placement!

How Bad Can The Seahawks Get On Offense In 2022?

I think the Vegas odds have the Seahawks at over/under 5.5 wins this year. Seems high when you think about how extensive this rebuild has gone so far; I’ve always maintained the Seahawks would’ve easily been a 2-3 win team without Russell Wilson in recent years. But, when you look at the schedule, there appears to be at least 4-5 really bad teams on there, with most of those easy games happening at home. All it would take is beating the truly awful (on paper) teams, and maybe stealing a game in our division, and there you have it. I’m not saying I’d bet the Taylor Family Farm on the Seahawks winning 6+ games in 2022, but I’ve always had an inkling we’d manage to get there one way or another. Maybe that’s just because I have this perception that the national pundits and football fans outside of the Pacific Northwest think so poorly of our chances, I just want to zag where they zig. I’m guessing a lot of armchair general managers out there will be predicting us to have a Top 3 draft pick next year.

Aside from the schedule, I’m on record as saying I like this team at most every position except quarterback. If we had an elite quarterback, it wouldn’t shock me in the slightest if we contended for a wild card spot, or even as a dark horse divisional contender.

That could, of course, be the homer in me. Looking at things logically, we have inexperienced guys at offensive tackle, we have inexperienced guys at cornerback, we have a potentially bottom-quarter pass rushing unit, and we have a run-first guy in Pete Carroll throttling this offense back at every turn. By season’s end, there could be pleasant surprises from every non-quarterback group on this team. This very well could be the start of a new Seahawks dynasty for all we know! But, as was the case in the L.O.B. era, a lot would have to go right for that to happen again.

Until you actually sit there and watch the games, it’s easy to forget how truly vital the quarterback position is. The Ringer has the Seahawks ranked 27th out of 32 offensively. Honestly, that feels high, but I don’t know who you bump to move us down. It got me to wondering just how bad things can get.

Limiting Turnovers isn’t an offensive scheme. Yet, that seems to be 95% of what the Seahawks are banking on this year. That seems to be 110% of the reason why Geno Smith is leading the quarterback competition, even though we know exactly who he is. Spoiler alert.

Just because someone takes care of the football and “knows when to take a sack” doesn’t mean we’re magically going to score 25+ points per game. I think the biggest part of the reason why my gut tells me the Seahawks can win 6+ games is because the defense will be better than expected, and because Pete Carroll and his staff will be able to coach everyone up to win some tight and low-scoring games. But, it’s entirely possible the defense is the same (or worse) as it’s been for the last half-decade. It’s also entirely possible that Pete Carroll is cashed as a coach, and it’s time to move on to some fresh blood.

The bottom line is: if the defense stinks, there’s no way the Seahawks are winning any shootouts. If the defense stinks, the floor is zero victories. The offense will be THAT mediocre.

We all point to the 1992 Seahawks as the epitome of a terrible offense. Not just a franchise nadir, but also one of the very worst offenses in NFL history (at least modern NFL history, since the merger). I will say that I don’t think the 2022 Seahawks offense will be THAT bad. There are still some talented players. Metcalf and Lockett are up there among NFL wide receiver duos. We’ve got some talented guys at running back. The tight ends look solid. If the O-Line is even remotely competent, we should be able to easily surpass 8.8 points per game.

But, this is obviously a different game than the one that was played in the early 90s. It’s a lot easier to score nowadays, all the rules changes have seen to that. Nevertheless, I think we’re going to find this team to be VERY difficult to watch. Geno Smith’s “good” numbers – in, again, not turning the ball over and hitting his checkdowns – mean nothing if we can’t convert third downs. Mean nothing if we can’t convert field goal drives into touchdown drives. Mean nothing if we can’t score in the fourth quarter with the game on the line. He can complete 100% of his dinks and dunks for all I care, but if we’re not able to reliably slice and dice our way through opposing defenses, it’s all going to be worthless.

And that’s assuming we roll with Geno! Just imagine how bad things could get if Drew Lock is the guy. Someone who decidedly isn’t as careful with the football. Yet, also someone who isn’t even remotely accurate as a deep-ball passer. It’s all well and good to have a cannon for an arm, but if you’re always over-throwing guys by 20 yards, then what use is it?

The only hope, really, is that Shane Waldron is able to unlock the Sean McVay offense – even if it’s a slightly watered-down version – to the point where Smith or Lock can be to us what Jared Goff was to the Rams when they were all together. That, and the offensive line holds up, and the running game is more dynamic than we could’ve possibly imagined. But, here’s the rub: even if the running backs play some elite ball, defenses are just going to gear up for the run and load the box, because they know our quarterbacks will never be able to beat them with their arms.

It feels bleak! It feels like 27th truly IS too high of a ranking for this offense. It wouldn’t shock me in the slightest if the Seahawks are averaging somewhere in the realm of 15 points per game and we go something like 3-14 or 2-15. There’s just NOTHING holding this team together right now except for the coaching staff. And I don’t care how good the coaches are, they aren’t out there on the field taking care of business. If they don’t have the players, then they’re effectively useless.

Bad quarterbacks – even with the talented skill position players we have around them – will alienate the entire team. If we’re truly awful to start the season, expect it to snowball. Expect this team to give up. And once that happens, there’s no bottom limit to how bad this team can be, in every facet of the game.

I would say – in a TL;DR situation – to expect a lot of field goals this year, but who knows with Jason Myers?! If he’s as bad as everyone else, then watch out!

Pondering Russell Wilson’s Future In Denver

I have a lot of investment in the 2022 season of the Denver Broncos, followed by no investment whatsoever in 2023 and beyond. This obviously has to do with the Seahawks getting whatever ends up being Denver’s first round draft pick after this season. The worse they do on the field, the better it is for us as Seahawks fans.

But, that’s tricky, because that means actively rooting against Russell Wilson for the first time since he joined the league.

It’s going to be so weird to see him playing for the Broncos. Russell Wilson is a player I’ve been conditioned to root for. Not just him specifically, but what he represents as well. The under-sized, scrambling risk-taker. A deep ball maven who finds a way to pull a victory out of his ass more often than not.

And you’d think – as someone who took us to back-to-back Super Bowls, and winning us our first and only NFL championship – it would be all sunshine and roses for our erstwhile franchise QB. You’d think we’d root for him no matter where he went, even if his success meant a worse trade compensation.

There are opposing truths about Russell Wilson’s tenure with the Seahawks: he was the greatest reason for our successes, as well as our frustrating failures. While he doesn’t get enough credit for all the winning we did in the L.O.B. era during the first half of his stint here, there’s no doubt in my mind that we wouldn’t have done what we did with a lesser talent at quarterback. It’s that talent that kept the Seahawks relevant as the L.O.B. era rode off into the sunset. But, ultimately, we were never able to get over the hump when it became the Russell Wilson Show, and I don’t think he gets enough of the blame for where it all went so wrong.

Who gets the blame? Pete Carroll gets the blame. The offensive line gets the blame. The talent and coaching of the defense. The offensive play-calling and/or scheme. The moves of John Schneider and the front office. Everyone seems to get to share in the blame except for Wilson. They were all holding Wilson back in one way or another. Cue “Let Russ Cook” movement on social media, followed shortly thereafter by the regular media.

I thought this was really well-written and informative. Even Russell Wilson – the greatest quarterback in Seahawks history – has his limitations. And those limitations were really damaging over the last five years of his time here. You can look at his numbers, and our regular season results in the standings, and see what he did to prop up a dying monster. But, if you dig deeper, you’ll see that the Seahawks feasted on bad teams. And we only really looked good when the running game was on point and our defense improved as seasons went on.

Ultimately, the reason why we needed to move on from Russell Wilson was his unwillingness to adapt. His unwillingness to see himself for what he actually is. His unwillingness to be anything but Russell Wilson: Deep Ball Maven.

Part of the greatness of any elite athlete is the belief that they can do anything. Russell Wilson believes so fiercely that he can complete every pass, that instead of just taking what the defense gives him, he seeks out lower-percentage shots downfield, to the team’s detriment. It’s to his credit that he was able to complete as high a percentage of them as he did, but over the last couple years you could see even that starting to dwindle.

Brian Schottenheimer was probably the best offensive coordinator we’ve had in his tenure. Yet, that ended in miserable failure even as he led this team to a 12-win season, where Russell Wilson had some of his very best efficiency numbers. Why is that? Because Wilson went off-scheme too much – throwing into coverage with disasterous results – necessitating the team to pull back the reins in order to win ballgames. We ultimately sided with Wilson in the parting of ways of Schotty, going so far as to hire a Wilson choice in Shane Waldron.

And what happened in 2021? Wilson kept going off-scheme, with much worse results. We brought in a guy with a Rams pedigree, yet we were still pretty much running the same offense as Schottenheimer. There was no stopping the Russell Wilson Show from eclipsing everything, so it was time to move on.

The big question that remains is: what does Denver have to look forward to?

Can Russell Wilson tamp down his need to do things his way? You would think that a drastic move to a new team would come with a little humility. It’s a fresh start with a whole new group of coaches and teammates, he’ll probably want to buy a little good will early. But, this is Russell Wilson we’re talking about. He’s a superstar in this league. He’s one of the most famous and popular players in the game today. This change of scenery might embolden him to become even further entrenched in the belief that he can do whatever he wants and it doesn’t matter, because his arm talent alone will save the day.

I could see it going either way. I guess I’m leaning towards him falling in line, allowing the run game to play out, and doing things within the flow of the offensive scheme (at least for this first season). But, it wouldn’t shock me to see his gigantic ego take over.

I agree with the blog post above, that if the Broncos are going to succeed, it’s going to necessitate Russ letting other players cook as well. If they contend for the division and a deep run in the playoffs, it’ll be with that strong running game, and a highly efficient Wilson playing like he did in so many Seahawks victories.

If the Broncos fail, I think it’ll be because Wilson is too involved. If they go pass-wacky and put the entire offense on his shoulders, then I think it’ll be a recipe for disaster. Of course, if they do go pass-wacky and the Broncos win it all, well then … that’s a pretty atrocious look for Pete Carroll and the Seattle Seahawks.

Ultimately, I expect the Broncos to play well in 2022. In fact, I’m leaning towards them winning the division and at least one playoff game. I do think Wilson will look a lot like he did in the first five years of his time in Seattle, meaning he’s letting the running game do its thing, and being the hyper-efficient beast we all know he can be. That’s going to engender a huge outcry for people to say, “See! The Seahawks should’ve listened to Russ!” All the while, the Seahawks can say, “See! If he’d only checked his ego like we wanted him to, we could’ve won just like this!”

There’s no way the Seahawks get a draft pick out of the Broncos that’s inside the Top 20. That’s ultimately what I’m getting at. We’re not that lucky ’round these parts. If there’s a way to screw over a Seattle sports fan, the gods are going to find a way to do it, in as heart-wrenching a way as possible.

So, look for Wilson to hoist the Lombardi Trophy in February of 2023. It’s really the only way this can end.

Could The Seahawks Be Okay At Quarterback?

Recently, I wrote about the Seahawks roster at every position other than quarterback. The conclusion I came to was that there’s potential for improvement, but still probably too many holes to fill in this one offseason. If enough draft picks and whatnot pan out, maybe we can head into 2023 and do enough damage in free agency to lift us back into the playoffs.

My take on the quarterback position, however, is that the guys we’ve got on the roster right now should be bad enough to help us tank for a quality draft pick next year, at which point we should go all in on a rookie QB to be our next franchise player. But, what this blog post presupposes is … maybe we don’t?

Okay, not quite. But, there’s been this concept that’s been gnawing at the back of my mind for a while now. The 2018 Los Angeles Rams went to the Super Bowl with Jared Goff at quarterback. What we’ve come to learn about Jared Goff since he was drafted first overall in 2016 is that he’s not as terrible as he showed in that rookie season. Of course, that was under the tenure of Jeff Fisher; Sean McVay was hired going into the 2017 season. What we also know about Goff, however, is that he’s not as good as his two (?!) Pro Bowl seasons either. McVay essentially declared he can’t win it all with Goff under center.

Yet, the system was good enough to get them all the way to the very end with a mediocre QB like Goff. That’s obviously intriguing to us as Seahawks fans.

Because here we are, with Shane Waldron as our offensive coordinator, looking to run something very similar to the system McVay installed with the Rams. And, here we also are, with Drew Lock and Geno Smith, mediocre quarterbacks just as Goff has been.

These aren’t apples-to-apples comparisons, though. Waldron is, obviously, a diluted form of McVay; McVay is largely seen as an offensive genius, and someone who might be “The Next Bill Belichick”. I don’t know if I’d go that far, but he does seem to be one of the top five-or-so head coaches in the NFL right now. And, I think it’s fair to say Lock and Smith haven’t shown to be anywhere near as competent as Goff, though obviously Lock is younger and less experienced (in other words, he very well could be as competent as Goff, we just haven’t seen him in a Rams-style offensive system yet).

What it boils down to is this: how reliable is this Rams system? Once you know the ins and outs, can literally anyone run it? Or, does it take the finesse and knowledge of a McVay to make it function as it should (to say nothing of a quarterback as capable as Stafford to push through as world champions)?

If it’s just a rock-solid system and anyone can do it, then I think I’m not out of bounds when I say Drew Lock could appear to be better than expected, as early as this season. If Jared Goff can take the Rams to the Super Bowl, why couldn’t Drew Lock take the Seahawks to the playoffs (especially when they let in three wild card teams now)? We’d need the defense to make huge leaps in development, and we’d probably have to rely more on our running game than the Rams ever have under McVay, but I don’t think it’s batshit crazy to come to this conclusion.

Look, am I saying it’s likely? Absolutely not. The smart money is totally and completely on the Seahawks to NOT make the playoffs in 2022. And, in fact, I don’t want them to, because what would be the point? We’re never winning a Super Bowl with Lock or Smith under center, no matter how good the roster is around them, or how good the scheme could potentially be. While the Seahawks will never actively try to tank, I hope a series of misfortunes befalls this team week after week after week, until we’re left with two picks in the top five (because I also hope a series of misfortunes befalls the Broncos to a similar degree). I’m talking injuries, I’m talking hail marys going against the Seahawks/Broncos, I’m talking about an unsustainably terrible record in one-score games. I want all of it. I want these to be the two unluckiest and most inept teams in all of football. THAT is my dream.

Not a Drew Lock-led Seahawks team squeaking in as a seventh seed only to lose in the Wild Card round.

The Seahawks Have A New Offensive Line Coach

In a somewhat surprising move, the Seahawks fired Mike Solari.

It’s surprising because this news trickled out so long after the regular season ended. It makes you wonder if he’s known for a while now, but reporters just found out; seems mean to leave him jobless after so many teams have gone all in on their new hires.

It’s somewhat surprising because when you talk about reasons why the 2021 Seahawks failed to make the playoffs, the O-Line isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. You could argue that we all expected them to be better than they ultimately were, but you could also blame age (Duane Brown) and injuries (pretty much everyone else) for much of the decline. Things definitely perked up for this unit over the last month or so, particularly as the running game improved.

It’s not at all surprising, though, because I don’t think Mike Solari is a good coach. Check his history. When has he ever had a dominant offensive line unit? I know I read about this before, but I refuse to go back and do the research; all I know is that if he has coached a dominant O-Line unit, it’s been a rarity. More often than not, his offensive lines rank in the middle of the pack, all the way down to utterly atrocious.

He was a good hire in 2018 because we were coming off of Tom Cable’s tenure. Literally anyone would’ve been an improvement! Getting back to why this is a somewhat surprising firing, when you think about the shitshow Cable was running towards the end of his time here – and think about how long it took him to actually get fired – the Seahawks have certainly been known to tolerate much less from their offensive line coaches.

It was more important for the Seahawks to shore up their defensive coaching staff, which they’ve done. But, I’m glad to see they’re not taking things lying down when it comes to the offense. It would be foolish to fire Shane Waldron after one season, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do anything. Solari is a logical person to move on from.

And Andy Dickerson is a logical person to succeed him. He was the run game coordinator last year, who came over with Waldron from the Rams. Sounds like a lowkey vital cog in the offensive coaching system who probably had a lot to do with our rushing success down the stretch, and Rashaad Penny’s resurgence.

This could be a brilliant promotion! I’m very encouraged by what he was able to do as the season went along. Here’s hoping he knows what he’s doing, and we’re able to bring in the type of talent to make his job easier.

The Seahawks Have Some New Defensive Assistant Coaches

The biggest news of the offseason for the Seattle Seahawks so far – that isn’t just talking head nonsense from hot take factories – is the firing of defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. It was a long time coming and, frankly, one of those hires where you knew it was going to go poorly as soon as it was announced. We let it slide – more or less – because we knew it was just a puppet hire of someone who would be running Pete Carroll’s defense.

Which leads me to my first question: were Gus Bradley and Dan Quinn also puppet hires who just ran Pete Carroll’s defense? Or did they just so happen to run a similar defense to what we know Pete likes to install? I don’t get the sense that this was the case with these two, yet it’s what we automatically cling to when we talk about the hires of Kris Richard and Ken Norton. It seems overly dismissive and simplistic.

Whatever the case, I think we can all agree that the Seahawks saw great success with the system ran by Bradley and Quinn, and their goal with Richard and Norton was to continue with what had been built. Unfortunately for the latter two gentlemen, they were saddled with a drastic downgrade in defensive talent. But, with Norton in particular, it sure didn’t seem like he brought anything to the table, and that was his ultimate downfall.

I don’t know if there’s a right way or a wrong way to hire a coach. You can hire from within, you can make a big splash on a retread who rehabilitated his coaching image, you can hire a hotshot coach’s assistant to hope you capture the same magic, you can pilfer the college ranks, you can hire a coordinator from another team. The possibilities are endless, and are riddled with successes and failures. So, I don’t want to say I’m down on Clint Hurtt – new defensive coordinator of the Seattle Seahawks – simply because he was promoted from within the organization. But, I’ve seen what he’s done for this team so far, and I’m far from impressed.

I was already dissatisfied with the job Clint Hurtt was doing even before Ken Norton was fired. He’s been with the Seahawks since 2017 – as the D-Line coach, as well as the assistant head coach – but what has he done exactly to bolster our defensive line? Let’s go through our draft picks since 2017: Malik McDowell (bust), Naz Jones (bust), Rasheem Green (role player at best), L.J. Collier (not even a good role player), Demarcus Christmas (bust), Darrell Taylor (finally, someone good), Alton Robinson (role player). The Seahawks have consistently underwhelmed along the defensive line in his tenure. The pass rush has been up and down, and the run defense has been up and down. I don’t understand what it is, exactly, he does well.

At least when you’re talking about Kris Richard and Ken Norton, you’re talking about a former secondary coach and linebackers coach (respectively) who were phenomenal at those jobs! It doesn’t appear Hurtt has ever been successful at any of his stops. It certainly doesn’t explain this fast-track he’s been on up to this point.

When the Seattle Times announced his hire, it was with the knowledge that Ed Donatell was also going to be hired as a defensive assistant in some capacity. The two, in conjunction, both worked under Vic Fangio, who was and presumably still IS one of the best defensive coordinators in the game today. The obvious next question is: if we want to run his system going forward, why didn’t we just hire HIM?! But, whatever. Presumably, once you know the system, then it’s a matter of getting the right guys to fit within that system. You still need someone to call plays and make adjustments mid-game. I hate the fact that we’re going into a second consecutive season with a first-time play-caller (last year, Shane Waldron for the offense; now Hurtt for the defense).

This is worsened by the fact that Donatell was just hired to be Minnesota’s DC. Hurtt is more palatable with a veteran like Donatell backing him up.

I’m actually heartened with the new assistants the Seahawks hired to coach under Hurtt, though. Karl Scott was brought in to coach the secondary (and be the passing game coordinator). He’s another hot shot who’s on a fast-track, coming from coaching the secondary in Alabama (2018-2020) and the Vikings (2021). Nick Saban, obviously, is the greatest college coach who ever lived, and I have the utmost respect for the old Vikings coaching staff, especially with their defensive pedigree. So, at least he’s coached under some smart dudes.

I’m even more excited for Sean Desai, who looks like a brilliant football mind, coming over from the Bears (starting in 2013, working his way up to DC in 2021). He was in the hunt for numerous DC jobs around the league, before settling here as an Associate Head Coach for the defense.

I’ll be honest, I actually think the Seahawks are making a huge mistake. I think they should’ve just hired Desai to be the DC, and given Hurtt the boot. This seems like something that could backfire in a big way, with Hurtt ultimately failing (and being fired within four years) and Desai moving on to bigger and better things after 2022. Here’s hoping he can make a big impact in a short period of time.

Ultimately, though, we don’t know how good or bad Hurtt is going to be. I’m just assuming he’ll be bad, and am staking my claim right now that this is an uninspiring hire. I wish the Seahawks would’ve made another choice, but who knows? I could be totally wrong. Maybe he’s been a diamond in the rough this whole time and it was Ken Norton who was holding him back. Odds seem to be stacked against that. So, rather than be the usual homer that I am, I’m going to be a Debbie Downer instead, so when we look back in a few years, I’ll get to say I was right from the very beginning.

Yay.

Of course, that just means the Seahawks will continue to suck between now and then, and nobody wants that.

Next up, I’ll be writing about the shake-up along the offensive line coaching staff.

Seahawks Death Week: Non-Russell Wilson Reasons The Seahawks Declined In 2021

The Seahawks had five fewer wins in 2021 than in 2020. Last year, we were 12-4 divisional champs; this year, we’re 7-10 divisional basement dwellers. Yesterday – and really, all season – we discussed the Russell Wilson of it all, how his injury and subsequent struggles probably cost us a minimum of three games this season. Flip from 7-10 to 10-7 and this is a wild card team. That doesn’t do much for me, of course, because a 10-7 Seahawks team would probably still lose in the first round (it would certainly lose in round two, otherwise, especially if we had to play in Green Bay), but you’re painting the whole situation with a different brush if that’s the case. If this is just another in a long line of disappointing playoff teams who fail to win a championship, that still looks better than a possibly-dysfunctional team with a losing record who traded away its 10th overall pick to the Jets.

Anyway, as much as I’d like to talk about how Wilson’s performance drove me crazy this year, I’m dedicated to writing about other reasons the Seahawks faltered as well. We’ll see how it goes (so far, it’s going very poorly).

I think a big reason for this season’s decline has to do with the pass rush, which I wrote about last week. That was, of course, written after only 16 of 17 games had been played (you know, like a normal NFL season, before greed forced this additional week on us); at that point, the Seahawks ranked 28th in the NFL with 29 sacks. So, what happened? Well, the Seahawks kicked some ass down in Arizona, racked up 5 additional sacks, and improved their ranking all the way to 22nd in the NFL. Which still isn’t great, but looks a lot better than 28th. Oh what a difference a week can make.

No one stands out more than Carlos Dunlap as far as how an outlook of a season can change in just a few weeks. He had 0.5 sacks heading into December. Then, he had 8 in the final six games to end with 8.5. The way it was looking, Dunlap was the bust of the century; now he looks like the same beast we had on the team last year!

In my post last week, I talked about how Dunlap and Rasheem Green were leading the way with 6.5 sacks. Now, Dunlap is our 2021 team leader with 8.5, Green still has 6.5, but Darrell Taylor also added half a sack to get to 6.5. Everything looks remarkably better with one outstanding performance. Poona Ford added 1.5 sacks to get up to 2 on the season, and Kerry Hyder added a sack to salvage SOMETHING (ending the year with 1.5 sacks).

I would still say pass rush is the biggest concern heading into the 2022 season, as it was one of the biggest drop-offs from the 2020 season. Other than that, though, the defense was roughly the same. In 2020, we gave up 380.6 yards per game; in 2021 it was 379.1 (both figures among the worst in football). Our pass defense improved by roughly 20 yards per game (which passes the eye test, as the secondary appeared to be better than it was in 2020), while our rush defense declined by roughly the same amount (also seeming to pass the eye test, as it was a problem at times all year). We gave up almost 2 fewer points per game in 2021, which is impressive given our injuries and the extra game we played. All in all, the defense was probably better than it had any right to be in 2021, especially given how poor the pass rush played until very late in the season.

The offense, however was atrocious in 2021 compared to 2020. We generated 323.9 yards per game, compared to 369.5 yards last year. Passing yards per game declined (201.9 vs. 246.3), and our rushing yards per game was roughly the same (122.0 this year vs. 123.2 last year), but a lot of that had to do with Rashaad Penny’s bust out in the final few weeks of the season. That translated to a drastic reduction in points per game (23.2 vs. 28.7); just a miserable offensive year.

It’s particularly aggravating to try to analyze, because if you take the eye test out of it, Russell Wilson’s numbers largely align between 2020 and 2021.

  • Completion Percentage: 2020 – 68.8%, 2021 – 64.8%
  • Yards Per Attempt: 2020 – 7.5, 2021 – 7.8
  • Passer Rating: 2020 – 105.1, 2021 – 103.1

Even while his touchdown percentage declined, his interception percentage improved. There’s a lot about his 2021 season that, at least, compared favorably to his career norms. It’s not like Wilson suddenly fell off a cliff. You can always point to his declining rushing production – he had a career-low 3.1 rush attempts per game, after averaging over 2 more per game last year – but that was always to be expected as he got older.

I would say, in general, both years were failures from a running game perspective. Chris Carson led the Seahawks in 2020 with 681 yards; Penny led the Seahawks in 2021 with 749. But, neither player put up anywhere near a full season; if they had, we’d be talking about the Seahawks’ offense in much more glowing terms.

The Seahawks, in both years, struggled to find a third receiver who stood out. What was alarming about 2021 is how D.K. Metcalf’s production declined: 83 catches for 1,303 yards in 2020; 75 for 967 in 2021. There’s some combination of his foot injury and Wilson’s inaccuracy at play there.

What we can’t discount is the change in offensive coordinators. For as much as we all hoped – with the established stars on this roster – that there wouldn’t be a drop-off in production as a new scheme and play-caller were installed, I think that was probably inevitable. Time will tell – and probably very soon – whether or not Shane Waldron is the right guy for the job, especially in how he calls plays. But, I don’t think you can render final judgment after one season. It’s unfortunate, though, because we’ve seen guys step in and see immediate improvement in other situations.

There’s also the bad luck factor at play (or regression to the mean, depending on your sports beliefs). The 2020 Seahawks were 8-3 in one-score games; the 2021 Seahawks were 3-5 in those games. These are games where we held our fate in our hands, and failed to rise to the occasion. You pay a quarterback like Russell Wilson big money to pull these games out. I don’t know if he managed to succeed in any of these that we won, so much as maybe the defense perhaps held on in the end a few times.

If there’s one area the Seahawks will need to find a way to improve – if everything else ends up staying the same – it’s the offensive line. I think we’ve stumbled upon our right tackle of the future, but we need to find a better left tackle, as Duane Brown was really starting to show his age at times this season. Also, it wouldn’t hurt to find a stud center to finally lock that part down. Who knows if any of it will matter, though, as long as Russell Wilson keeps doing Russell Wilson things (which used to be amazing, but now has grown seriously infuriating).

So, what’s the TL;DR? I think Russell Wilson’s poor play – inaccurate, lack of clutchness, lack of ability to convert third downs, lack of willingness to take the plays opposing defenses gave him – deserves a healthy chunk of the blame. I think the O-Line not improving one iota is partly to blame. I think gross incompetence in the running game until the final few weeks of the season has a lot to do with it (and the front office re-signing an injury-prone Carson goes to the top of that particular list). The pass rush shares in the burden, as do the defensive coaches in general, who for the second year in a row failed to have this team prepared in the first half of the season, as we stumbled to a historically-inept start yet again.

Some of these we should have seen coming and corrected ahead of time. Others – like Wilson and the pass rush – totally blindsided us. But, no, Russell Wilson wasn’t the only reason why the 2021 Seahawks failed to live up to what the 2020 version achieved. But, he was the highest-profile and most disgruntled reason why they did.

I’ll be honest, his media antics following the 2020 season soured Wilson on me maybe forever. I’ll always appreciate what he did for this organization, but now I think he’s a joke and that it’s time to move on. More on this tomorrow, as we start to look toward the future.