The 2021 Seattle Seahawks Regular Season Preview Extraordinaire!

If you feel like reading about my position-by-position breakdowns, click HERE and go through all the links at the top. And, in case you missed it, I talked briefly about my predictions for how the 2021 NFL season is going to go as a whole HERE. There’s a pretty significant spoiler in there about my feelings on the Seahawks, which I’m going to get to directly.

I think the 2021 Seattle Seahawks are going to be disappointing. That’s not a very unique hill to die on. If you’re a playoff contender, only one team’s season WON’T be disappointing. But, I guess that’s my point: the 2021 Seattle Seahawks aren’t going to win the Super Bowl. For a team with Russell Wilson as its quarterback, for a team that has been to two Super Bowls in the last decade – and been to the playoffs in all but one year dating back to 2012 – not winning the Super Bowl is always going to be disappointing. Seasons change and we’re all getting fucking older, and it’s reasonable to wonder if we’re all going to die without the Seahawks ever winning a Super Bowl again.

In skimming last year’s preview post, I think my feelings about the team are similar, but for slightly different reasons. I was probably a little higher on the offense than I am this season, and for the first half that was validated by what we saw on the field. Then, the level of our defensive competition improved, and we were unable to adjust to what they were doing to us. On the flipside, there were lots of worries about the defense heading into the season – also validated by what we saw on the field – but that tightened up in the second half (as the level of offensive competition declined, and we were able to adjust to what teams were doing to us). Ultimately, we were looking at a fatally flawed team in 2020, and we’re still looking at a fatally flawed team in 2021.

There’s a lot to like about the offense once again. The talent is on par with the most talented offensive teams in the NFL. We have a Top 5 quarterback, we have arguably the best wide receiver duo, we have a stable of quality running backs and tight ends (when healthy), and our offensive line is good enough (especially with Duane Brown back in the fold). I only have one concern about the offense, but it’s a big one: Shane Waldron.

He’s never called plays before. He’s never been in charge of setting up an offense or scheming against an opposing defense. I don’t know what it was, exactly, he did with the Rams, but he wasn’t The Guy. The buck didn’t stop with Shane Waldron. We ASSUME – since he worked under offensive genius Sean McVay – that we’re going to get “The Rams’ offense” with our Seahawks talent executing it. And, we ASSUME – because the Rams’ offense has always been so great for them since McVay was brought over there – that it’s going to translate seamlessly to our team. But, we don’t know if it’s going to work out at all!

There’s a chance the offense is more efficient, and we’re able to connect on the short passing game, which in turn will open up the deep passing game again, which in turn will also open up our rushing attack. But, I would argue there’s an equally-good chance (if not a better chance) that the offense is even less efficient than it was before, and we’re reduced to an embarrassing shambles with a guy who doesn’t know how to call plays or adjust in-game to what defenses are throwing at us.

Frankly, I’m leaning towards the offense being a frustrating mess more often than not. What’s more likely? Some first-time offensive coordinator – who no one’s ever heard of outside of hardcore football circles – comes in and takes the play-calling world by storm? Or, like the 8th coordinator poached from the Rams under Sean McVay goes to another team and sucks like all the rest?

Why is no one talking about this? Why isn’t this a bigger story? Everyone’s just taking for granted that the Seahawks are going to look exactly like the Rams offensively; it makes no sense. We’ve got a quarterback who can’t shit until he holds out for the long bomb – taking umpteen sacks in the process by holding the ball too long; we’ve got a head coach who wants to run the ball more than anyone else in the league; and we’ve got an offensive line that still has to face the front sevens of the rest of the NFC West six times a year (plus playoffs), on top of many other difficult D-Lines around the league. This is a recipe for utter disaster!

Honestly, I really question whether or not Brian Schottenheimer was the main problem last year. You’re telling me he doesn’t have a short or intermediate passing game in his playbook? You’re telling me HE was the reason this team never called screen passes or crossing patterns? Or, is it because the quarterback always wants to throw the home run ball, and he can’t see over all the linemen in his way to hit his receivers 10 yards downfield? Come on, let’s think about this rationally here.

I expect this offense to struggle mightily through the first month or two, until this team goes back to calling the same plays it’s called over the last decade. At which point we MIGHT see marginal improvement, but by that time we’ll have already lost too many games to get the top seed in the NFC, and it’ll be iffy at best if we can even compete for the divisional title.

While we’re on the topic, let’s get to probably the biggest reason why the 2021 Seahawks will be disappointing: the NFC West.

They’re all better. I’m just going to say that right off the bat. The 49ers are healthy again; they figure to have enough talent to contend for a playoff spot (and maybe even the division). The Cardinals were 8-8 last year and their quarterback was playing injured for most of the second half of the season. The Rams won 10 games, beat the Seahawks in Seattle in the first round of the playoffs, and VASTLY upgraded at quarterback with Stafford over Goff. I fully expect the Rams – still stacked at virtually every single position group – to not only win the NFC West, but have the best record in the entire conference. This isn’t just reverse-jinx posturing; I’m staking my fantasy football life on it (going all in on Stafford and the Rams’ defense, earlier than probably most any other non-Rams fan in existence).

It’s almost an impossible ask to expect the Seahawks to win this division in back-to-back seasons! Especially since you can’t really point to any one thing the Seahawks do as definitely exceptional. The Rams have a great offense and the best defensive player alive. The 49ers have a great offensive scheme (if maybe lacking in talent at the quarterback position) and a stacked front seven on defense. The Cardinals have one of the best mobile quarterbacks in the league, who almost always keeps them in ballgames with a chance to win it at the end.

The Seahawks have … a less-mobile Russell Wilson, in a new offense. They have maybe the best receiver in the game in D.K. Metcalf … who was largely neutralized in the second half of last season thanks to countless double teams and defenses (or just Jalen Ramsey) blanketing his side of the field. The only certainty is that the Seahawks have the best Safety Who Gets Sacks in football. Okay. Who was the last team that featured a sacking safety that won the Super Bowl? Go ahead, I’ll wait.

At the same time, though, I can’t say it’s all Doom & Gloom either. Because, as I said up top, this team IS talented, pretty much throughout. There’s enough talent on offense that I fully expect – in 2-minute situations, when Wilson is calling the plays in hurry-up – points will be scored. My argument is: it’s not going to be as seamless as everyone is expecting; it’s going to be a struggle sometimes. The Seahawks aren’t going to lead the league in points; they’re not even going to be in the Top 5. Talent alone will probably keep us in the Top 10, but I don’t think that’s going to be good enough to push us over the hump into the upper stratosphere.

Sure, there’s also talent on defense. I think the starting linebacker unit is solid, the defensive line should be at least on par with what we saw in the second half of 2020, and I have zero issues with the safeties. But, the cornerbacks are an obvious weakness, and there’s still the Ken Norton in the room. He’s a terrible defensive coordinator! He might’ve been okay when there were Hall of Famers throughout this side of the ball, but literally anyone could’ve coordinated those defenses and had a top DVOA unit. This is a group with a lot of young guys in prominent roles, a lot of fringe-starters getting full-time snaps, who desperately need to be coached up, and Ken Norton is completely incapable of doing that outside of the linebacker room. He should be a linebackers coach; that’s where his ceiling is from a coaching perspective. But, he’s in charge of the entire defense, and that’s where this team gets fucked.

The defense hasn’t been the same since Dan Quinn left for Atlanta. I’d feel a lot better about things if we’d brought him back this year, instead of letting Dallas take him in.

So, you know, expect a lot of frustrating defensive series. Expect teams to continue to dink and dunk on us at will, at times, in every single game. Expect a good amount of chunk plays to go against us because our cornerbacks are crappy and our safeties can’t be everywhere at once. Then, expect us to adjust and slow teams down for a while in the second or third quarters of games, before they finally figure out how to move it again midway through the fourth quarter.

In short, expect the Seahawks defense you’ve come to know and loathe since Dan Quinn left. Along with it, expect the usual Cardiac Seahawks games where they’re maddeningly close until the bitter end, with the final possession deciding the game’s outcome. You like one-score games? I hope so, because the Seahawks enjoy nothing more than playing the same fucking Greatest Hits for us every single week.

I haven’t done this in a while, so let’s go game-by-game and see if we can predict wins and losses. This is fun for about 30 seconds, right?

  • @ Indy – Win
  • Tenn – Win
  • @ Minn – Win
  • @ Frisco – Loss
  • Rams – Loss
  • @ Pitt – Loss
  • Saints – Win
  • Jags – Win
  • BYE
  • @ Pack – Loss
  • Zona – Loss
  • @ Wash – Win
  • Frisco – Win
  • @ Hou – Win
  • @ Rams – Loss
  • Bears – Win
  • Lions – Win
  • @ Zona – Win

I have us at 11-6 in this scenario. It might not shake out EXACTLY in this fashion, but I think 5-3 heading into the BYE is probably reasonable. I think 2-4 against the division is probably the difference-maker between us or the 49ers getting the higher wild card seed (I think we probably end up with the same record, but they figure out a way to sweep the Cards and get one over on the Rams).

I’d love nothing more than to be wrong. There’s a small part of me that wants to believe the Seahawks have been on this upward trajectory since 2017 (the last time we missed the playoffs). We were 9-7 that year, and have improved by one win every season since, with us finally winning the division again in 2020. The next step in that progression is to not only win the division, but take the top seed in the NFC again. And, with that – ideally – a spot in the Super Bowl.

But, usually, teams who do that are able to get that one final piece to the puzzle in the lead-up to that season. In 2013, for instance, we went out and got Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril. The Bucs last year got Tom Brady and loaded up on veterans on defense. When was the last team you saw that was THIS flawed that somehow managed to improve? Almost always – when a team is this flawed – there’s negative regression the other way.

Frankly, the Seahawks have been flawed every season since 2017; things can’t keep improving forever.

This feels like a total meltdown waiting to happen. We were already teetering on the brink this offseason with Russell Wilson complaining in the media. I’m half-expecting everything to totally fall apart, with the final nail being a Wilson trade out of here. And knowing our Seattle luck with trading superstars, he will hamstring us with the list of teams we’re allowed to trade him to, resulting in our getting a terrible package of picks and players in return.

Officially, I’m predicting the Seahawks will be 11-6 and the 6th seed in the NFC. But, secretly I wouldn’t be shocked to see us fall to 8-9, miss out on the playoffs, and have all hell break loose.

Earlier this week I called out the Ravens as the team having a Season From Hell. But, don’t be surprised if it’s us. Again, I hope I’m wrong, but I feel it in my gut: the future looks grim.

Seahawks Position Breakdown 2021: Tight Ends

Let’s finish this week’s Seahawks coverage on an underwhelming note! We can’t very well shoot our wad all at once; let’s save receivers and the O-Line for next week.

I’m actually quietly stoked for the tight end room this year. I don’t know if that’s warranted or not, but I guess we’ll see.

Gerald Everett is the big “get” for us, having signed a 1-year $6 million deal (with a 2022 void year costing us $2 million in dead cap space next year). Everyone I’ve heard talks about what a fantastic move that was for the Seahawks. Obviously, he has familiarity with the Rams’ offense, being a regular contributor for them the last four years. There was obviously a need for the Seahawks to address this position, after the Greg Olsen debacle a year ago. Everett has largely been healthy and relatively productive in his career. And, by all accounts, he looks like he’s fitting in beautifully so far in training camp!

That leads to the question of: why is he only on a 1-year deal? He’s young enough, he’s competent enough; we couldn’t have locked him in for 3 years at this salary average?

But, you have to follow that up with: how much should we really expect out of a Gerald Everett? When you think of the vaunted Rams offense since Sean McVay took over, do you REALLY think about the tight end position? As any fantasy football player will tell you, it’s easy to get sucked into punting on the position in the draft, then settling for one of the Rams guys in free agency. Once in a while, they’re good for a TD, but more often than not, the Rams have prioritized the wide receiver almost exclusively in the passing game, with various running backs also seeing good value as pass catchers out of the backfield.

Tight ends are oft-overlooked in the Rams’ offense. What makes you think that’ll be any different with Shane Waldron here in Seattle?

The Seahawks are another team, by the by, that have some elite wide receivers in their arsenal! With D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett hogging the lion’s share of the targets, and with Russell Wilson being notorious for spreading the ball around every game, what is a Gerald Everett going to do for you that any other guy off the scrap heap couldn’t? Just because he’s a step up from Old Man Olsen doesn’t mean he’s necessarily worth $6 million per year.

We’ll see. Time will tell. I still like Everett, even though I don’t think we saw tremendous value in the signing. Either he blows up and commands more money next year, or he plays as expected and goes down as yet another overpaid tight end we’ve employed in the Pete Carroll era (or he under-performs and is REALLY a bust).

Behind him, we have Will Dissly back for his fourth season. After having his first two years cut short due to injury, he managed to play in every game in 2020. Granted, his production per-game has gone down every year, but I would argue he’s still a quality weapon for this offense, and a fantastic #2 tight end for this team. Particularly in his ability to help in pass protection. It’ll be exciting to see what he can do in a contract year, especially with what could be a very good crop of new tight ends coming out of the draft in 2022.

Colby Parkinson is an exciting prospect, who was drafted in the fourth round last year, and really only saw action in one game – a 40-3 blowout at home against the Jets – but he’s 6’7 and could be a tremendous weapon in the red zone given his frame. He doesn’t seem like much of a blocker, but Everett and Dissly already fill that role anyway; you bring Parkinson in for the mismatches he creates; either slower, shorter linebackers have to take him on, or teams have to spend secondary resources on him, that might still be too small to deal with his unique frame.

I am SO GLAD that the Seahawks didn’t invest any more heavily in the tight end position than they did with Everett, because why would you draft someone like Parkinson in the fourth round if you’re just going to bury him on your roster? He’s the #3 guy, it’s not like you’re asking him to assume a starting role in year two. This is exactly what the team should be doing with someone like him: bring him along slowly, hope his hands are as soft as advertised, and hope that he maybe develops into a starting-type tight end in year three.

That also leaves open the possibility for a fun prospect in Tyler Mabry to break onto the roster as the #4 guy. He was an undrafted player last year who spent most of the season on the practice squad. So, right there, he’s been in our system, and the team likes him enough to keep him around and try to develop him. He’s another offensive-minded tight end who – if he does that part of his job well – could earn more reps and more opportunities to round out into an all-around tight end.

Failing that, there are more rookies on the squad who could sneak through onto the practice squad. And, of course, there’s always Luke Willson out on the scrap heap, if injuries mount and we have a need to fill in the cracks.

My overall grade on the tight end room is a B. I don’t have to worry about these guys, unless literally EVERYONE gets injured at the same time. The top two guys will probably be in that B+ range, with the bottom two guys in the B- range. Regardless, there isn’t a ton of variance. Depth is a question mark – with the bottom two guys having less than 2 years’ experience – but I also don’t think we’re as tight end-heavy of an offense as many other teams in the league, so what does it matter? They chip in from time to time, otherwise they need to block well and be an occasional outlet for Wilson when he’s in trouble.

Seahawks Position Breakdown 2021: Running Backs

If the quarterback room gets an A+ based on the starter alone – weighing depth in any sort of significant way brings the overall grade down considerably – then I think I have to go A- or even B+ for the running back room.

For starters, you definitely have to consider the depth much more here. When was the last time we saw a running back play all 16 games? Marshawn Lynch in 2013/2014 is your answer there (and, don’t forget, we’re up to an inane 17 games in 2021!). And also, to be perfectly honest, I’m not as high on any of these guys as I used to be.

I think it’s fair to say Chris Carson has A+ talent. But, to belabor a dead horse, you always have to add “when he’s healthy” to any blanket statement regarding Carson. After a flukey rookie year where he only appeared in four games, he’s gone 14, 15, and 12 games. Not great, but not terrible, I guess. Nevertheless, you KNOW you’re going to need to have another guy on the roster to start a few games, which has to reduce Carson’s overall grade.

And, I would argue we started to see Carson avoid some contact for the first time in his career in 2020. ESPECIALLY after he missed a month to injury in the middle of the season, and it became clear he was trying to preserve his body with his impending free agency looming this past offseason. He averaged 4.83 yards per attmept last year on the whole; you saw a pretty steep drop-off in the final three regular season games, averaging 4.19 yards per attempt. Now, he might’ve been trying to play through something, and so he really NEEDED to preserve his body just to stay on the field.

Also, by the way, he has every right to avoid bone-crunching hits and maybe take a few carries out of bounds instead of needlessly pounding his body into defenders every single time. The career-expectancy for a running back in the NFL is akin to the life-expectancy of a soldier in the Vietnam War; you just get chewed up and spit out. But, my contention is a lot of Carson’s value is in those extra yards he gets after contact, as well as the intimidation he instills in defenders who have to take him on for 15-20 carries per game. If latter-day Chris Carson is going to turn into Shaun Alexander, I don’t think you can even give him an A grade of any kind at that point, because he doesn’t have Alexander’s skillset (I always thought Alexander got a bad rap, but he was a great back for us, different than how Marshawn Lynch was a great back for us; but both were nevertheless great!).

Behind Carson, the drop-off has the potential to be pretty significant, though there is breakout potential from any number of guys.

Rashaad Penny is in the final year of his rookie deal. He’s briefly flashed A+ ability, but more often than not he’s been hurt, to even a more significant degree than Carson (who is the poster child for Injury Prone around these parts). He was lost for the season late in 2019, which left him out of commission for most of 2020 as well. When he returned in late December, he got a few touches here and there, but really made no impact whatsoever.

On the plus side, between doing most of his rehab in 2020, and having all of this past offseason to fully recover and get his body into “the best shape of his life”, we’re looking at a guy who’s motivated and hungry to show the NFL what he’s made of, as he heads into free agency after this season. It’s also fair to wonder how the new system will support his talents; I’m hearing a lot about the team being more under center than ever before in Wilson’s tenure. If that’s true, that definitely plays to Penny’s strengths more than working out of a shotgun set. If he’s indeed faster and stronger than ever before, it might finally be time to take advantage of his skillset in the passing game out of the backfield.

While the top-line talent in the running back room is suspect, the depth is pretty solid.

DeeJay Dallas got some run as a rookie last year. He wasn’t prepared to shoulder a starting running back load, but that was never supposed to be his fate in the NFL to begin with. He’s more of a third down back who can provide some value out of the passing game; but he’s not really a between-the-tackles runner like Carson or Penny. Having survived his rookie year, and hopefully pouring all his efforts into getting faster and stronger in 2021, I have high hopes that he’ll look a lot better. If that comes to fruition, he’ll be everything I could ever want out of a #3 running back.

Travis Homer largely held that role in his two years in the NFL, but he’s been a disappointment. I guess you could say he blocks well, but that’s not going to win you a ton of casual fans. I see a guy who’s slow and easily stuffed at the line of scrimmage on goalline plays. In other words, I see a guy who constantly elicits the phrase, “Why are they giving the ball to Travis Homer here?!” On top of that, he’s hurt and on the PUP. I would say: don’t hurry back. Get completely well and we’ll see you in six weeks.

But, to make up for that, we brought back Alex Collins last year! He’ll only be 27 in a couple weeks, even though he feels a lot older. That shouldn’t be over-the-hill for someone who didn’t even play in 2019, and only appeared in a handful of games with us last year. I would hope he continued to work on his fitness to make it as this team’s fourth or fifth running back, especially with Homer needing some time to get well. I think he’s got … enough to offer. He’s not great, but in a pinch if you needed him to start a game or two, I wouldn’t hate it. Which, by the way, happens with the running back room more often than I care to admit! Why do you think he was brought back last year in the first place?! Because all we had was DeeJay Dallas and he clearly wasn’t ready to take on a full time running back load! Shit, why do you think we’ve had Marshawn Lynch on speed dial the last two years?

The depth of this room really supports the B+ grade I’m giving it (with potential to raise to an A-, but I doubt it’s ever a top 10 unit in the league), but we’ll see how it goes. The big question on everyone’s mind is how Shane Waldron will balance the need to make Pete Carroll (run) and Russell Wilson (pass) happy. Obviously, you want balance. Obviously, a great rushing attack opens things up all over the place in the passing game. But, as Seahawks fans, it’s hard to not have PTSD with the play sequence of Run-Run-Pass-Punt that we’ve seen all too many times. That forces Russell Wilson – and an inferior defense – to be perfect, and that’s been too much to ask for a lot of years now.

There’s nothing really dynamic about the running backs on this team. As guys age and continue to deal with injuries, what is there to look forward to? What is there to count on? It’s not a matter of “if” guys get injured, but “when”. In that sense, all I can really do is spend the early part of the season worrying about injuries every time a guy steps awkwardly or gets hit hard; then I spend the rest of the season wondering when guys will return and if they’ll be the same as before. For what? Fleeting joy when Carson or somebody trucks a guy? Only to then think to myself, “What’s the cumulative effect of THAT hit? How many more before his shoulder snaps in half?”

When guys are consistently getting injured, there’s no joy in consistency. I’d almost rather they flush the entire running back room down the toilet and start over with the draft next year. Part of me is annoyed Chris Carson got that extension this offseason, even though it’s at most a 2-year deal for just over $10 million, with an out after this season that only costs us $3 million next year in dead cap space (and I think you could spread that out over two years, depending on when you cut him; regardless there’s $1.5 million of dead cap built into his contract with the void year of 2023). I feel like the Seahawks should just draft a running back every other year and make due with those guys and veterans making the minimum. Is Carlos Hyde – making just over $2 million this year with the Jags – really that much of a drop-off compared to Carson? Not really. And Carlos Hydes are ALWAYS available in free agency! You can’t walk ten feet without finding another Carlos Hyde – a durable veteran who will average 4 yards per carry – so why not just settle for them, and hope you hit the lottery every few years with a rookie who pops? Carson was a 7th rounder, you can’t tell me this isn’t a sound strategy!

Honestly, my favorite running back on this team is probably Nick Bellore, the fullback. Dude almost NEVER plays on offense – so he never has an opportunity to disappoint – he crushes it on special teams – making the Pro Bowl in 2020 for his efforts – and I’m reading about him moonlighting as a linebacker in training camp! Get out of here, that’s amazing!

Finally, I’ve never heard of … Cameron Scarlett or Josh Johnson. If they make the 53-man roster, I’ll eat my hat.

Seahawks Position Breakdown 2021: Quarterbacks

Hey, did you know the first pre-season game is this Saturday? And we’re about a month away from the start of the regular season? Doesn’t this year feel like it’s flying by?

I haven’t thought a lot about the Seahawks this year, mostly by design. 2020 felt like a bust in many ways. We won the NFC West, we went 12-4, but we were saddled with the 3-seed and lost in the first round to the 6-seeded Rams. I still haven’t gotten over that late-season home loss to the Giants that could’ve changed our fate completely. And, everything that’s happened subsequently – starting with the Bucs of all teams winning the Super Bowl (I still don’t think they were all that special), followed by Russell Wilson’s media mania, mostly punting the draft, the dark cloud of the Jamal Adams contract situation, and the other dark cloud of the Duane Brown contract situation – has left me with not a lot to be excited about with this Seahawks team. It just feels like 2021 is going to be more of the same, with the final nail in the coffin being Russell Wilson demanding a trade out of here.

This year has Looming Disaster written all over it.

We’re at a crossroads, and the worst part of it is that we don’t seem to be well set to succeed. We pretty much have to either make it to the Super Bowl or win it all for things to stay on track and continue on Pete Carroll’s “Win Forever” plan; failing that, it feels like the whole thing is going to be blown up. Which means we have to do that with two looming contract holdouts, various holes throughout our roster, a defensive coordinator who’s almost certainly inept at his job, and a first-time offensive coordinator who has mere weeks to get everyone to learn and perfect his system.

You can see why I’m dreading the next few months, at least from a professional football perspective.

One of my stated life objectives is to try to live more in the present. I think I do a pretty good job – for the most part – of not dwelling on the past. But, I have a big problem with being obsessed with possible futures, and oftentimes dwelling on the negative potential outcomes over looking forward to the limitless positive possibilities. I’m kind of the anti-Pete Carroll or anti-Russell Wilson in that regard. But, I’m a Seattle sports fan, so who can blame me? We’re conditioned to expect the worst, which helps us tolerate the frequent mediocrity we’re given.

If I were to try to forget about what’s going to happen in 2022 and beyond – and live in this moment – there’s a lot to like about this Seahawks team. Especially at the quarterback position.

Russell Wilson is our quarterback now. If, indeed, that’s all that matters, then I’m happy. We get to root for one of the five best quarterbacks on the planet for one more year.

Things got off to a phenomenal start in 2020 – it looked like he’d have his best-ever season – before falling apart as the offense became predictable, and as the calibre of defenses became more difficult. The pieces are there, though, for Wilson to succeed. Two elite receivers, two quality running backs (when healthy), talented depth weapons who can get the job done, and one of the better offensive lines we’ve had in Seattle since he was drafted.

What’s more, if this offense is all it’s cracked up to be, it should open up the short and intermediate passing game that was so thoroughly lacking in 2020. And you know with Wilson’s arm and ability, the deep passing game will be as effective as ever.

I guess what needs to happen now is for Wilson to completely buy in. To take the lesser play as it comes, and not ALWAYS hold out for the home run ball. A lot of what he was complaining about is well within his control: get the ball out of your hands before the pass rush overwhelms you. Now, against the particularly fierce pass rushes, it’ll be nice to have a play-caller who’s able to take advantage of opposing defensive aggressiveness. Is Shane Waldron that guy? We’ll find out. That’s the biggest wild card of this whole season: how is Waldron as a play-caller, and how effective will he be adjusting to what the defense is showing us?

Assuming everyone is on the same page, and we’re not overwhelmed by injuries, I expect great things from this offense. I expect REALLY great things from Russell Wilson, who is still right there in the prime of his NFL career.

Behind him, we have Geno Smith. We don’t want to see any part of Geno Smith on the field in the regular season. Any part of this year that sees Wilson sidelined for any reason, and you can kiss the NFC West goodbye. Which obviously means you can kiss goodbye the top seed in the conference and a first round BYE. And, by kissing those things goodbye, you can probably also kiss the Super Bowl goodbye, because we’ve yet to make it to the final game without having home field throughout the playoffs.

I guess, if you had to twist my arm and have Geno Smith start a game for you, it might not be horrible so long as the opponent was clearly inferior. But, I wouldn’t trust him as far as I could throw him against a halfway competent defense.

Sean Mannion was just signed to be a possible practice squad guy. By all accounts, Geno Smith’s job is safe, but I could see us looking to upgrade the backup QB spot. This guy supposedly knows the Rams’ system, which means he probably has a good idea about what Waldron is trying to instill here. It shouldn’t be THAT hard to supplant Geno Smith as this team’s #2, but what do I know?

Alex McGough is back, and fighting for the #3 spot. He’s just a guy.

In conclusion: don’t get injured Russell Wilson. Then, go out there and win us the Super Bowl. And, finally, stay here for the entirety of your prime. Thank you, and good night.

All The Russell Wilson Chatter Is Boring To Me

Russell Wilson’s personality is as bland and vanilla as it gets in sports. He spews an avalanche of clichés in every single interview, as if his brain is on autopilot, and some artificial intelligence pulls random clips from its central database, shoving them out of his mouth as quickly as his vocal chords can formulate the sounds. Do you want to meet the absolute KING of being non-controversial? I have yet to find anyone who says less with more than Russell Wilson.

Which is why his recent barnstorming of national sports media entities has been so noteworthy. It feels like he’s finally saying something! Maybe even – *GASP* – speaking his own mind?!

Apparently, in this world we live in today, you always have to take a side (as if the issues aren’t more nuanced and complex than that, be it politics, religion, or the highest paid member of a football team and his desire to not be hit so fucking much). Some people are upset with Russell Wilson; they feel he’s throwing both the offensive line and the organization as a whole under the bus (especially those in charge of personnel). I can see that, in a sense. He’s the highest paid player on the team and one of the highest paid players in the entire league; quit your bitching and do your fucking job. If you’re going to hamstring an organization with your astronomical salary – when guys like Tom Brady (guys you’re envious of, because he wins so much) take slightly less in guaranteed money to help their teams fill out their rosters with higher-calibre talent – then you don’t get to complain when they don’t have enough money to stack the O-Line full of All Pros.

I mean, I guess they could stack the line like that, if they wanted to have zero talent whatsoever on defense.

It’s a team game. Football teams are quite large. You have to pay 53 of them and then some, and there’s only so many high-value contracts to go around. When one player – like, say, the quarterback – takes up anywhere from 15-20% of the salary cap, that’s obviously going to be to the detriment of the rest of the roster. As any douchebag on the prowl in a nightclub will tell you, it’s a numbers game!

That being said, Russell Wilson has a point. He’s being sacked too damn much. He’s being hit too damn much. While he has been remarkably durable in his nine seasons – never missing a game – if we’re not more careful, one of those hits WILL seriously injure him. And then where will we be?

Now, obviously, as I said before, this is a team game. It’s not all on the offensive line. Russell Wilson shoulders his share of the blame, and he’s owned up to that. People seem to want to gloss over that fact, particularly when they think he’s denigrating his O-Line; I guess people will always hear what they want to hear, and read into things when they’re not necessarily there. But, it’s also true that TOO OFTEN, he’s being pressured before he has anywhere to go with the football. As a winner, as a never-give-up kind of guy (a trait we’ve come to admire since he got here), Wilson is going to try to do whatever it takes to make a play. Think of all the dazzling highlights over the years that have come off of busted plays! Those are firmly entrenched in our memory banks for the rest of time!

While the O-Line had a pretty good rate of success in pass protection this past season, I would question who the competition is from game to game. Are the games against inferior defenses propping up the utter disasters, like we saw against the Rams (THREE FUCKING TIMES), when they ran roughshod over our O-Line like they were a wet paper sack? I don’t care about our pass protection success rate against the likes of the Jets, Falcons, and an injury-ravaged 49ers team; I care when we’re going up against the elite defenses and can’t do a God damned thing offensively to move the ball!

That isn’t Russell’s fault. Especially those fucking Rams games.

If I were Wilson, I’d be furious too, seeing what Tom Brady had to enjoy in his playoff run. They played three games, all on the road, leading up to hosting the Super Bowl, and he was NEVER pressured all that much. Maybe a little in that Green Bay game, but they still put up plenty of points. To absolutely dominate a solid Chiefs defense in that Super Bowl was a masterclass in protection and play-calling.

Which gets me back to the whole team aspect. It’s not all on Wilson’s shoulders, nor is it all on the O-Line, but you have to throw play-calling and offensive scheme into the mix.

Ultimately, this makes the timing of this media campaign so confusing, because the Seahawks seemed to have already put in the work to deal with this issue in hiring Shane Waldron from the Rams. We’re assuming, with good reason, that our offense going forward will feature a much quicker passing game, based on timing and improved route running to get guys open easier. So, Wilson won’t have to spend more than 2.5 seconds on the regular waiting for guys to get open, only to huck up a 50/50 ball or throw it out of bounds while getting smashed by very large defensive linemen.

This is a guy, not for nothing, who was reported to be a favored choice of Wilson to boot! He got what he wanted: he had input about the team’s next offensive coordinator (and, by design, input into how the offense will function going forward). And he’s still complaining? What’s the endgame here?

If it’s telling the front office to find a better left guard, I think they got the hint. If Mike Iupati is re-signed one more fucking time, I’ll fucking lose my shit! He is TOO OLD! Retire already; you are literally going to kill yourself decades prematurely at this rate! Other than that, and maybe improving the center spot, I think you have to be relatively happy with the offensive line we have. Duane Brown is still playing at a Pro Bowl level, Damien Lewis looks like an entrenched starter at right guard for the next decade, and Brandon Shell played MUCH better than any of us expected, until someone rolled up on his ankle and he had to miss time and play hurt the rest of the way.

If it has to do with protection under those circumstances – of injury and the like – then a better scheme (not just with routes, but also extra protections/chips on the end of the line) should help fix that as well.

But, if Wilson’s ultimate objective is more ulterior, then clearly we have a bigger problem on our hands. Many believe this is his way of ultimately forcing his way out of Seattle. I don’t think that’s a surprise to anyone, particularly when he ended up marrying Ciara; not that I would put the blame on her in any way. I believe Russell Wilson wants to be a mogul and he’s always had that as his goal; marrying someone like Ciara is just part of that. But, he wants to be a mover and a shaker, and for some reason you can’t do that in a place like Seattle? It has to be L.A. or New York or maybe Florida or Texas or Chicago.

If this was just about football, and being the best quarterback of all time, there’s no reason why he couldn’t do that here. The Seahawks are one of the most stable, successful organizations in the NFL; if he wanted to, he could win all he wants here. But, he’s about more than football.

I agree with the point that Mike Salk made on the Brock & Salk podcast this week; I think this is the beginning of the end. It started a teensy bit last year when he made a comment about wanting more stars on the Seahawks. It’s ballooned out here with his latest comments about not wanting to be hit so hard. This coincides with a reduction of the NFL’s salary cap, at a time when the Seahawks have little wiggle room to acquiesce to his demands. If you think the Seahawks are in a position to go out and sign a high-priced offensive lineman, you’re out of your mind! So, when the Seahawks ultimately fail to cave in to Wilson’s demands – not because they’re unreasonable, but because they financially can’t afford to at this moment in time – Wilson can look back and say, “Hey, I tried, but they won’t play ball with me, so I want out.” That could be as early as next offseason – assuming we fail to win it all, as we most likely won’t – but I bet if it doesn’t, it’s at least within the next two years.

If Russell Wilson ends up signing another extension with the Seahawks – beyond this one that is set to expire after 2023, not counting Franchise Tag years – I will be SHOCKED.

At which point, assuming the Seahawks don’t win a Super Bowl next season, maybe he’ll be doing us a favor by demanding a trade. If we can get a crazy-high draft pick, or take on some other team’s disgruntled superstar quarterback, maybe it’ll be better for everyone?

But, for right now, it’s all just noise and speculation. I wouldn’t even be writing about it if there was literally ANYTHING ELSE in Seattle sports to talk about.

It’s Time For The Seahawks To Face Up To What Russell Wilson Can & Can’t Do

Russell Wilson is 32 years old. 2021 will be his tenth season in the NFL, following a full four years in college. As has been discussed previously – but hasn’t been made a big-enough deal of – he’s no longer a spring chicken. Yes, he can still run – he’s run for over 4,500 yards in his NFL career, including 513 in 2020 – but he can’t escape like he used to. It used to be pretty rare when a defensive lineman brought him down in the open field; now it’s happening regularly. He isn’t able to juke guys and get around them as much as before. It’s father time! He is, and always will be, undefeated.

It took a few years before the league came to terms with the fact that Russell Wilson is a quality pocket passer. We saw what he was capable of in the latter half of 2015, when he put it all together and shredded the league with his arm. That’s been the version of Russell Wilson we’ve been trying ever-since to recapture. Over the last half-decade, Wilson has been more of a pocket passer, and the results have been great. Yet, every year after his rookie season, he’s been sacked a MINIMUM of 40 times; he’s almost always at or near the top in all of football. That can’t continue. Not with his aging body and slowing legs.

It makes sense, though. While the Seahawks’ offensive line has been better the last few years, it has never TRULY been great (and some seasons, it’s been among the very worst in the game). And, to be honest, I don’t think the O-Line has EVER been particularly good at pass protection since Pete Carroll joined the organization; he likes to run the ball, he wants guys who can make that happen, to the detriment of our quarterback’s safety. We’ve been able to manage thanks to Wilson’s legs and his ability to make plays out of thin air. Yet, even at his most fleet-of-foot, he’s still been knocked on his ass more than just about anyone else over the life of his NFL career.

With Shane Waldron as our new offensive coordinator, the hope is that the Seahawks’ offense will look a lot more like the Rams’ offense. If it works out the way it should, this might be the smartest hire by Pete Carroll since he decided to hitch his wagon to John Schneider as General Manager.

The Rams specialize in lots of running and lots of play action passing. The Rams love to run a wide variety of plays out of similar-looking pre-snap sets, to better fool opposing defenses and keep them on their toes just a fraction of a second longer (that fraction is all the difference you need in the NFL).

The Rams also do what the Seahawks have been completely incapable of doing – except for that brief run in 2015 – get the ball out of their quarterback’s hands quickly. Jared Goff, for all his faults, has yet to be sacked more than 33 times in a season (and other than that one year, he’s never been sacked more than 25 times since he became a full-time starter). Imagine what the Seahawks could do if we were able to shed TWENTY sacks from Wilson’s body every year!

While the O-Line – and its construction by the people in charge – deserves its share of the blame, just as much should be placed on the scheme itself. Yes, Russell Wilson is one of the best deep-ball passers in the NFL. But, taking so many shots also comes with a lot more risk: holding the ball a lot longer, waiting for guys to get open. If those guys end up covered, that leaves Wilson trying to find other alternatives; it’s in that amount of time where the pocket usually collapses, leaving Wilson either running for his life, or cowering under the combined weight of multiple linemen closing in around him. If Wilson is forced to get the ball out quickly – by completing more short and intermediate crossing routes – then that’s less on his shoulders. Taking some of the decision-making off of his plate should be only to the team’s benefit. Wilson is always going to want to make the big highlight play; eliminating that as an option in favor of safer, less-sexy passing plays, should help us in that almighty metric of 3rd down conversion percentage.

And, while Wilson is slower, he’s not yet a total statue. Tom Brady has made a career out of quick passing, but he can’t run for shit unless it’s a quarterback sneak that only needs to get one yard! With Wilson’s legs – and the Rams’ style of offense that loves to feature designed quarterback roll-outs – the Seahawks should be able to take advantage of those plays far better than the Rams ever could with Goff; and, to his credit, Goff was good-enough on those types of plays as it was. These plays can still allow for Wilson to gain yards with his legs, but it should also drastically reduce the number of “playground” type plays where Wilson has to escape danger and throw long on the fly. These types of plays dried up CONSIDERABLY over the last half of the 2020 season, because of Wilson’s decline and the league catching up to what we’ve been doing all along. So, maybe it’s time to put those plays to rest in favor of something new.

I hope Waldron is able to fully implement the Rams’ style of offense, I hope the Seahawks have players who can adapt to it, and I hope everyone is able to buy in and let the new guy run the show (I’m looking at you, Meddling Pete Carroll). Word on the street is, Brian Schottenheimer either chose to keep, or was forced to keep, about 70% of Darrell Bevell’s playbook during the previous offensive coordinator change-over. That better not happen here. It’s time for the Seahawks to make wholesale changes. I don’t care how difficult it’s going to be with COVID-19 and the lack of in-person instruction. Make this new scheme easy to understand on paper, so when we finally can congregate together later in the summer, we’ll be off and running and ready to dominate in 2021.

The Seahawks Hired Shane Waldron To Be Their Offensive Coordinator

We briefly interrupt our Mariners 2021 pre-season coverage to bring you an announcement: the Seahawks did a thing!

The Brian Schottenheimer era was never dull, even if he himself was never all that exciting. I seem to remember being a bit higher on him as a hire than most Seahawks fans (there was A LOT of dread in the Pacific Northwest about him bringing this offense to new lows), as throughout his coordinating career he’d been saddled with mediocre-to-bad quarterbacks; until he met up with Russell Wilson, he’d never really had a chance to show what he could do. And what happened? In Schotty’s three years, he led three of the eight highest scoring offenses in franchise history; including two of the top three (including the number one overall in 2020).

But, obviously, things soured over the final half of this past season. I wonder if it’ll ever come out exactly what happened when he and the Seahawks parted ways. I still have a hunch that Pete Carroll gave him a My Way Or The Highway speech and Schotty took the highway on out of town. Considering Schottenheimer’s stock was as low as it gets when he was originally hired, I’d love to get a peek inside his head to see if this was some sort of power play gone awry; that either he was angling to be the Head Coach In Waiting here, or if he wanted more autonomy over the offense so he could move on to be promoted somewhere else.

Anyway, regardless, after a 12-4 division-winning season, the Seahawks were suddenly on the hunt for a new offensive coordinator. And there were rumors aplenty! Retreads and up-and-comers, and in-house candidates all across the football map. Whenever this happens, I try to stay out of the fire and look on from a distance; I don’t like doing a lot of research into candidates who aren’t likely to be hired for my team. So, I’ll admit, Shane Waldron – Passing Game Coordinator for the Los Angeles Rams since 2018 – wasn’t on my radar (then again, you could fill a book with the guys who weren’t on my radar).

What is a Passing Game Coordinator? Well, if you’re cynical like me and think it’s just a meaningless promotion in-name-only, you’re not far off! If you’re also cynical like me, it’s easy to be skeptical when we’re talking about hiring someone from the Rams. The Sean McVay Coaching Tree hasn’t exactly been full of ripe, blossoming fruit; it’s kind of been full of worms and tent caterpillars. McVay has been a hotshot ever since he went to L.A. He’s a brilliant offensive mind and his teams were pretty unstoppable for a while. Obviously, I think a lot of that has to do with him being the one calling the plays. On top of that, the Rams also have an offensive coordinator in Kevin O’Connell. That means, not only does their O.C. not call the plays, but we just hired the guy THIRD in command of that offense (who, again, also never called plays).

What we’re hoping for, I guess, is that some of the McVay Magic rubbed off on Waldron. I have my doubts about that, but we’ll see. It’s discouraging that he was already on staff coming into 2020 (as the passing game coordinator and quarterbacks coach) when they plucked O’Connell from the scrap heap (makes you wonder how much smoke McVay was blowing up his ass in that article). There’s a lot we don’t know about his role with the Rams, but I can’t imagine he had a ton of say about the direction of the offense when he had two guys ahead of him in the pecking order to answer to.

Where I’m encouraged is with the offense he could be bringing over from the Rams. We don’t know how he’ll be at calling plays; I’m sure that will be trial by fire and there will be a big learning curve for him to overcome. But, from a scheme standpoint, I could see things getting a lot more creative, based on what the Rams have been able to do the last few years (with, mind you, an inferior quarterback with no mobility whatsoever). The Rams run the style of offense I think a lot of Seahawks fans have been clamoring for. They still run the ball quite a bit – which I know is near and dear to Pete Carroll’s heart – but they also build off of that by running tons of Play Action, and that is quite frankly what the Seahawks do best, and what they haven’t done NEARLY enough, throughout the run of Russell Wilson’s career, and in particular in 2020. The Seahawks should be running Play Action more than ANY other team in the league! It should be an obnoxiously-high percentage of our passing plays!

What I also like about what the Rams have done is they make sure to have options at all levels of the passing game. It’s not just deep balls and check-downs; they have been able to scheme receivers open at the intermediate level to a degree you just don’t see outside of Kansas City and maybe a couple of other teams. It’s something that I thought Darrell Bevell didn’t get enough credit for during his time here (with Doug Baldwin being a big part of that, knowing where to get open in various zones), and it’s something that I thought has been sorely lacking since Schottenheimer was hired.

The point is – as always – it’s far too soon to know if this is a good or bad hire. We’ll find out. Sean McVay was just some relative nobody before he took the football world by storm. I will say this, I’d rather have second- and third-wave hires from the McVay Coaching Tree than some of those first-wave guys (many of whom have already gone on to failure). Shane Waldron has had a lot of time working under McVay, so if indeed there is any magic to rub onto him, it’s more likely it would have after four seasons than it would be after one.

What ultimately blows my mind is how people started to question whether or not this was a good opportunity for someone. There are only (I would assume) 32 offensive coordinator spots in the NFL. This isn’t an easy job to earn! It’s often a stepping stone to being a head coach; if that’s your ultimate goal, I would think being ANY team’s O.C. and primary play-caller is high on your list. So, that alone cuts through most of that argument. But, when you compare the Seahawks to the rest of the NFL, look at what you have: one of the longest-tenured head coaches and general managers (lots of stability and a culture of winning already established); one of the best quarterbacks in the game; a duo of receivers that rank among the best in the league today, with lots of complementary talent around them to help make this unit hum; and it was a Top 10 scoring team as recently as this past season! Who wouldn’t want to work with this group? How many better opportunities are out there, either available right this moment, or exist PERIOD? When you look at all the dysfunctional franchises in the league, when you hear reports of all these quarterbacks potentially changing teams, when you know of all the instability built into the NFL based on everyone’s high expectations of winning at all costs, it’s asinine to me why anyone would turn this job down.

If that ultimately boils down to Pete Carroll and his meddling ways, well … then maybe we have bigger problems here than I realized.