How The 2017 NFL Draft Ruined The Seattle Seahawks

I was writing about something else, when as a lark, I jumped into the Wiki of the 2017 NFL draft. I will be perfectly honest, I was there because of Patrick Mahomes.

It’s always nagged at me that the Seahawks were scouting Mahomes in the lead-up to that draft. Is that just noise? The Seahawks leaking reports to make John Schneider look smart? Maybe; anything’s possible. But, I don’t know if I would comprehend the endgame of that. Why leak that story at all, if he wasn’t legitimately interested?

If Mahomes was here, maybe Pete Carroll would still be here. Maybe the Seahawks would have more than the one Super Bowl victory. Maybe WE would be the envy of every other NFL fanbase!

The thought process behind the Mahomes-to-Seahawks hoopla was the concept that if he had fallen in the draft, maybe we would’ve taken him anyway, and had him sit behind Wilson until he was ready to ascend (and we could just let Wilson walk, like the Packers did with Favre).

But, he didn’t fall. Kansas City made sure of that. Kansas City moved up in the draft, trading with Buffalo to get the 10th overall pick in 2017, giving them 27 & 91, as well as a first rounder in 2018. For shits and giggles, I looked to see what the Seahawks had coming into that draft. We had 26, AND we had three third rounders, including pick 90.

If that isn’t a kick in the pants, I don’t know what is.

Now, obviously, the Seahawks had Russell Wilson. We signed him to a 4-year extension in July of 2015. You could argue that was the beginning of the end, because even though it wasn’t likely the Seahawks could’ve traded him that summer, if they had gotten a jump and traded him before (or even waited and traded him after the 2015 season), we would’ve gotten a HAUL in return. I know everyone is pleased as punch with what we swindled out of the Broncos after the 2021 season, but just imagine what we could’ve gotten for him in his prime, still on his rookie deal!

Anyway, as that link indicates, I was against trading Wilson in 2015. But, I would’ve gotten over it, especially if it had led to us getting Mahomes in 2017. You take the 2016 draft, rebuild at other spots, then you get Mahomes in 2017 and off you go.

What makes matters worse is what we actually did in the 2017 NFL draft.

We traded down from 26 to 31 (missing out on T.J. Watt in the process). We, then, traded down again, from 31 to 34 (missing out on Ryan Ramczyk in the process). We traded down one more time, from 34 to 35 (missing out on Cam Robinson), all so we could draft Malik McDowell. He was an all-time bust who we spent YEARS trying to recover from (making multiple trades for interior defensive linemen, who all backfired on us in one way or another, while slogging through mediocrity the entire way).

What did we do with the rest of the landslide of draft picks we acquired?

  • Ethan Pocic in the second round: who we dicked around with at guard, before ultimately putting him at the only position he was good at (center), but not before he got bit by he injury bug for multiple years.
  • Shaquill Griffin in the third round: a good, not great, cornerback, who was a pale imitation of Richard Sherman.
  • Lano Hill in the third round: a total bust of a strong safety; not even a pale imitation of Kam Chancellor.
  • Nazair Jones in the third round: a total nobody of a DT.
  • Amara Darboh in the third round: a total nobody of a WR.
  • Tedric Thompson in the fourth round: yet another total bust of a safety, who sure as shit was no Earl Thomas; we also suffer the further indignity of knowing that George Kittle was on our radar and could’ve been had in this spot.
  • Michael Tyson in the sixth round: not the boxer.
  • Justin Senior in the sixth round: who?
  • David Moore in the seventh round: one of the best players we drafted in this class, who was little more than a possession receiver in the vein of a poor man’s Jermaine Kearse.
  • Chris Carson in the seventh round: probably the most talented player in our draft class, who fell to the seventh round because of injury concerns, and did not disappoint on that count in the pros.

In short, we overpaid Russell Wilson for dwindling production, we missed out on Patrick Mahomes – a guy who might end up surpassing Tom Brady as the greatest player of all time – AND we not only stockpiled a shitload of crap, but had to account for our mistakes by making more mistakes in the future, all in hopes of clinging to playoff relevance that never panned out into championships.

You know, it’s entirely possible that the fans would’ve rioted if we’d traded Russell Wilson back in 2015 or 2016. But, I would argue, what we’ve had to endure since has been remarkably worse. Forever Mediocre, as I’ve taken to coining it.

Pete Carroll has two legacies when it comes to his time in Seattle. The first one is obviously terrific: he blessed us with our first NFL championship, he built up an exciting roster of young, ferocious players who were the most fun team to watch in the entire league for a good half-decade or more. Ultimately, that will overshadow everything else, and become The One True Legacy.

But, his other legacy is always going to linger, a Barry Bonds’ head-sized asterisk (minus the rampant doping). Because Pete Carroll shoulders the blame for having amassed such a splendid collection of players and ONLY winning one Super Bowl. He gets the blame for costing us XLIX (along with the OC for calling a dumb play, along with Russell Wilson for his decision-making in that instant, along with our receivers for not properly executing the play). He also gets the blame for the various personnel moves that backfired throughout the years (along with John Schneider, but obviously Carroll had total authority and final say). And, he gets the blame for the back-half of the decade he was here, when he lost control of the team, when his defense failed us, and when his franchise quarterback demanded more control of the offense.

What should’ve been a dynasty, was instead one dominant Super Bowl victory, one of the most regrettable moments in Super Bowl history, and a whole lotta “What Could’ve Been”.

There are any number of inflection points you can point to. Trading for Percy Harvin and giving him a dumptruck full of cash (over keeping your homegrown Golden Tate); the whole debacle that was the Jimmy Graham deal (both losing our Pro Bowl center, as well as changing an offense entirely to force-feeding a soft, slow tight end); giving in to the Let Russ Cook crowd as opposed to cutting ties a year earlier and trading him to the Bears like we should’ve. But, really, it was the 2017 draft, and all the decisions made before (that prevented us from moving up to grab Mahomes) and since (in the fallout of Malik McDowell), that ultimately proved to be this franchise’s downfall.

We’re still, 7 years later, trying to recover, with seemingly no end in sight.

The Seahawks Drafted Three Guys

So, this should be an easy one to write:

  • D’Wayne Eskridge (WR) – 2nd Round
  • Tre Brown (CB) – 4th Round
  • Stone Forsythe (OT) – 6th Round

The usual line of thinking is: you like having more options to choose from in any given NFL Draft, because the bust rate is so high. So, out of 10 picks, if you can find three quality starters and a couple of role players, you’re doing pretty good. But, when you pick just three times, the odds of you finding contributors goes way down.

Then, compound it by the fact that a lot of quality college players decided to return to school – in an unprecedented trend thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic and the NCAA allowing everyone to have an extra year of eligibility – and we’re talking about real chaos for teams like the Seahawks. You need to be smarter than normal – and smarter than other teams – and probably play things a bit safer. Go after guys who are more proven college athletes – and fewer guys who are projects at the next level – while leaning on the Senior Bowl to gauge prospect readiness.

The Seahawks are a pretty veteran team at their top positions. They need guys who will step in immediately to compete for spots. We’re looking to get back to the Super Bowl; we’re not utilizing this draft to fill the team in seasons 2022 and beyond necessarily.

D’Wayne Eskridge is a guy who can step in immediately and be this team’s #3 wide receiver behind Tyler Lockett and D.K. Metcalf. It’s interesting to see what the Seahawks opted to do at this position thus far this offseason. With David Moore and Phillip Dorsett moving on, and with Josh Gordon taking his talents to an inferior football league due to ongoing suspensions, there was an obvious need to fill the #3 spot. On our roster, the best of the bunch was Freddie Swain, a late-round draft pick from a year ago; while he was fine as a rookie, he wasn’t inspiring a ton of confidence to fill that role.

Eskridge is a short (5’8 and 3/4), speedy, tough receiver. Combining him with the likes of Lockett and Metcalf will make our WR room among the fastest in the league! I love this pick by the Seahawks! I love it even more knowing Lockett is locked in for his extension, and knowing that Metcalf will be a priority contract extension as soon as he’s eligible.

If Eskridge is as good as advertised, the Seahawks will be stacked once again on offense. He is particularly exciting knowing that we’re going to be watching some sort of modified version of the offense that the Rams have been running to great success in recent years. Eskridge figures to be the recipient of a lot of screens and end-arounds as well as his fair share of deep shots. He’s great getting off the snap with quick separation from defenders, his top-line speed is upper echelon, and his toughness should hopefully ensure he’s not constantly battling injuries that many undersized receivers have to deal with.

The knock is that he might not be great at top-pointing a ball in traffic, but with his speed and body control – as well as Wilson’s propensity to drop those moon shots on a dime – I don’t think this will be a big issue. I think this is a HUGE addition to our offense, and a marked upgrade over David Moore at that receiver spot. Everyone will say he’s a natural to go in the slot, but he’s just as capable playing one of the outside receiver positions as well, making him essentially interchangable with Lockett. That gives the Seahawks a ton of flexibility in what they can do in 3-receiver sets.

For as excited as I am about Eskridge, I might be even more intrigued by what Tre Brown has to offer. Again, this is a pick we could see coming, as Shaquill Griffin and Quinton Dunbar both left in free agency. The Seahawks made some low-level additions to try to fill the void, but no one who really has any firm grasp on any of the open jobs on this team. With holdovers Tre Flowers and Ugo Amadi being … fine, it was clear that the Seahawks would look to the draft to further bolster our secondary depth.

Tre Brown is another undersized guy (5’9 and 3/4) that many are projecting to be a slot cornerback for this team. He has the mentality to be a fierce competitor – just the type of Seahawks mentality that has thrived in Seattle for years – but not the usual length numbers (height, wingspan) that we usually covet around these parts. D.J. Reed is another one of these types of cornerbacks – a little on the shorter side – that has thrown a wrench into our usual mode of team-building, as he has proven to be quite effective in his time here. If Tre Brown is another D.J. Reed-type, then this is a home run of a pick.

He’s quick, he has great recovery, and he has attitude. If his ball-skills are on point, there’s no stopping him. Plus, he doesn’t necessarily HAVE to be a slot corner, in spite of his size. If the Seahawks truly go with their best three cornerbacks, we might be looking at Reed and Brown on the outside, with Amadi in the slot and Flowers or whoever else as the #4. So, I’ll be rooting for Brown quite a bit to win the job out of camp, because that could change the outlook of this defense entirely!

If there is a “project” in this draft class, it’s probably Stone Forsythe. He’s either 6’8 or 6’9 and around 307 pounds. He was a left tackle at Florida, much better at pass protection than run blocking (thank Christ), and could be a swing tackle in the NFL. Obviously, Duane Brown is the entrenched starter on the left side, with a couple of veterans vying for the starting spot on the right side. But, the Seahawks have been in desperate need of drafting a legitimate heir apparent to the left tackle position for YEARS now. If Forsythe already has the skills to be a competent pass protector on that side, I’m beyond fine with him, because I think you can teach him run blocking to be good-enough at this level. So often, we get the great run blockers in here who are suspect at pass protection, and as a result Russell Wilson has been the most-sacked quarterback in football since 2012. So … you know … trying a different tactic might be just the thing to create a different set of results!

As expected, the Seahawks also hit the undrafted free agent class pretty hard. I don’t know who those people are, but what tidbits I’ve gleaned from Twitter tell me that we did pretty good here. Obviously, we won’t know more until we see them in practice/games, but reports are promising at this early stage, and that makes me happy.

Overall, as always, we won’t know how this draft class looks for a while. So, cross your fingers and hope for the best, Seahawks fans! I think we have great reason to like 1/3 of this class, with a good chance to like 2/3 of it. If we make it 3/3 in a few years, won’t that be something?

The Seahawks Are Signing Aldon Smith

Someone on Twitter reported that the Seahawks are signing Aldon Smith to a 1-year deal, and I just couldn’t wait! This is terribly exciting news!

Obviously, there are two ways you have to write about Aldon Smith: the man and the football player. The man is … kind of a lot, and predominantly negative. Admittedly, I’m not super informed on all that he’s been involved with, but Substance Abuse and Domestic Violence are more than enough. For (some of? all of?) these things, he was suspended by the NFL from 2016-2019. He was reinstated, so he must have gone through extensive work on himself to make it back (it’s hard to return from an indefinite suspension like that; most people can’t hack it), but, you know, it feels wrong to be excited. I don’t know what he did or didn’t do to the woman he allegedly did whatever to, but it couldn’t have been good. At some point, you have to know better the first time when it comes to violence; if you’re not capable of that kind of rudimentary awareness, do you even deserve a second chance?

That’s not for me to decide, thankfully. He’s back in the NFL, he’s up for grabs in free agency, and the Seahawks have apparently gone and grabbed him. What am I going to do, not root for the Seahawks? That’s fine for other people to take a stand on, but if you dig deep on pretty much everyone and everything, you’re going to find darkness that people might say you should take a stand on. The safe bet is to sit alone in a room twiddling my thumbs for all of eternity. Failing that, I’m going to separate the man from the art, as they say. I’m going to continue to watch football and root for the Seahawks, so cram your opinions up your ass about everything else. I’m not a monk; sue me.

GREAT NEWS, EVERYONE! Aldon Smith is joining the Seahawks’ pass rush!

Smith played for the Cowboys last year (a fairly mediocre defense, as far as I can remember), and appeared in every game. I seem to recall him having a better season than he did (only 5.0 sacks), but I imagine my opinion is skewed because 3.0 of those came against the Seahawks in Week 3. He was a starter, and apparently started to wear down as the season went along, but that’s okay! Because I don’t think he’ll be a starter for the Seahawks if things break they way they’re supposed to.

Carlos Dunlap and Kerry Hyder figure to be our starters at either end. Smith, presumably, would be the next man up at one of those end spots, with Benson Mayowa also providing tremendous value on pass rushing downs. That’s FOUR quality pass rushers! Not counting what we might get from holdovers like L.J. Collier, Rasheem Green, Alton Robinson, Darrell Taylor, and Bobby Wagner and the rest of the linebacking unit. I mean, it’s not a ton of sacks from those guys, but if everyone contributes anywhere from 2-5 in the season – on top of what our big dog defensive ends rack up – that’s a force to be reckoned with!

Oh, and let us not forget Jamal Adams blitzing from the secondary and his 9.5 sacks last season. He still figures to be the highest paid safety in the game, and therefore a significant part of what we do from a pass rush perspective.

What an embarrassment of riches! This is, no joke, a championship-level pass rushing unit. To be fair, don’t look behind the curtain over there at what we’re doing with the cornerback spots … it’s fine, it’ll be fine, but LOOK OVER HERE! Sacks on sacks on sacks!!!

I feel so great about what the Seahawks have done this offseason, and it’s still not done! All it really cost us was Jarran Reed, Shaquill Griffin, and maybe K.J. Wright (how Wright is still not signed by anyone yet is appalling to me). With what we had for cap space, it’s truly remarkable.

The Seahawks Signed Poona Ford & Ahkello Witherspoon

It’s always weird writing about all the NFL deals at this point in the year, because the numbers rarely seem to be known in totality until guys actually sign. We’re in that time when all the contracts are announced by NFL insiders, but all they really have are the broadstrokes.

Anyway, Poona Ford is back with the Seahawks. He signed for 2 years and something approaching $14 million, with over $4.4 million in 2021. He was going to be a restricted free agent – likely with a second round tender – which would have been less dollars in the short term, but this is a nice middle ground or both the player and the team.

Poona’s likely not going anywhere before 2022, so he gets a hefty bump in total earnings. Remember, this was a guy who went undrafted. He’s earned less than $2 million total over the first three seasons of his career. He’s also a guy, not for nothing, who is a run-stuffing defensive tackle. Those aren’t guys who command a lot of salary cap attention. He has 2.5 career sacks.

That being said, 2.0 of those sacks came in 2020. This is a guy who has always played at a high level respective to both his position and where he was rated coming out of college. But, he really seems to be on an upswing. Pairing him with Jarran Reed in the middle of that line is probably the best defensive tackle combo we’ve had since Cortez Kennedy and Sam Adams. If Poona’s trajectory continues, we could be looking at a real steal over the next two years.

So, Poona gets paid, the Seahawks don’t have to worry about the interior of that D-Line for a little while longer, and coming back around, Poona will only be 28 years old when this deal expires, so he’s well within logical reason to cash in again in two years. If nothing else, the floor is high with him, so even if we get exactly what we’ve gotten from him to date, it’s a good deal. But, I believe there’s more left in the tank.

The other deal that popped up was the 1-year signing of cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon. This came on the heels of Shaquill Griffin signing his deal with Jacksonville, which makes it especially interesting. I’ll be honest, I didn’t know who Witherspoon was before yesterday, even though he’s played his entire career in San Francisco, one of our biggest rivals. So, I had no idea – for instance – that he also came from the same 2017 draft as Griffin, and that they were both third round draft picks. In fact, Witherspoon was taken 24 picks AHEAD of Griffin. Now, that’s obviously meaningless in the grand scheme of things; Griffin has proven himself to be a Pro Bowl-calibre player, whereas Witherspoon was oft-benched and considered largely a disappointment by the 49ers.

But, by all accounts, Witherspoon came on towards the end of the 2020 season. I don’t know if that’s a product of their schedule – the last four games the 49ers played last year were against struggling offenses, including Seattle’s in the finale – or if something finally clicked with him, but he’s 6’2 and he came from a quality secondary in Colorado that the Seahawks were obviously fond of. You have to wonder, then, if the Seahawks would have selected Witherspoon over Griffin, had both been available to them where they selected. Might Witherspoon – being in Seattle’s system all along – have thrived in his first four years? We’ll never know, but he’s still young enough to at least come in and compete with Tre Flowers for a spot.

I wouldn’t expect a lot out of Witherspoon. In fact, I think the Seahawks will continue adding to this position – with a name or two that we DO know – to really bolster the competition factor now that Griffin has walked. Quinton Dunbar isn’t off the table, is what I’m saying here. The hope for Witherspoon, though, is that he shows enough to stick as a depth piece, and improves as the season goes along and he has a number of practice weeks under his belt to acclimate to our way of playing defense. At 1 year, $4 million, I think that’s a reasonable price to pay for a potential lottery pick.

Shaquill Griffin Signed With The Jaguars

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Seahawks Death Week: Guys To Cut Or Let Walk

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lano Hill – please, no more.

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

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

Seahawks Death Week: The Case For Blowing It Up

With yesterday’s tantrum out of the way, now we can – with somewhat cooler heads – try to talk about this team rationally, and with less emotion.

This post is going to be totally useless, FYI. Total waste of time. While there absolutely IS a case to blow this team up and start anew, that’s not what’s going to happen. No one in charge of this organization wants that to happen (this team is too financially successful as is, Super Bowl or no Super Bowl). Really, no one in his right mind would look at a 12-4 team and say, “Let’s hit the reset button.” But, I’m not in my right mind! I’m mourning the end of yet another football season without a national championship. I’m angry and sad and starting to get numb to these early playoff exits. I may be spoiled, but it’s this team that’s spoiled me, so who’s more at fault?

With that in mind, I have to say that you can’t totally blow this team up. You have to pick a side: either you think we have the nucleus of players in place and it’s a matter of having a new coaching staff in there to properly guide this team to where we want it to go, or you don’t. And, if you don’t, then you want to keep the GM and coaches and have them get to work trading this nucleus (including Russell Wilson) for parts so we can rebuild from the ground up.

Both arguments are compelling. If we were dividing the fanbase up into a pie chart, my guess is the tiniest of slivers would be in favor of trading Russell Wilson and starting over on that side of the organization, probably for good reason (it’s REALLY fucking hard to find a franchise quarterback). A significant slice would be in favor of the unsatisfying status quo (keep the nucleus AND the coaches), filling in around the margins as best we can, and taking another run at it next season. And, probably the biggest slice (but it would be pretty close to the status quo slice, I bet) would be in favor of firing Pete Carroll and our offensive and defensive coordinators (and, who knows, maybe even general manager John Schneider to boot).

That having been said, the pie chart of things that are actually likely to happen would be an entire circle of the status quo, but that’s neither here nor there.

Let’s start with the coaches: why won’t they be fired? For starters, Pete Carroll just signed a big-money contract extension this year. The offense just set a franchise record for most points in a season. The defense was one of the best in all of football over the final eight games. The team went 12-4 and won the NFC West. Also, Pete Carroll is notoriously loyal to his guys; it takes quite a significant faceplant for him to want to fire anyone. This is a no-brainer; other than maybe an unimportant assistant/position coach here and there, no one is going anywhere.

EDIT: whoops.

Why should they be fired? Well, for all the reasons fans have been bitching about this team for the last six years! Play-calling is lacking on offense. The defensive scheme seems to be nonexistent. The 2020 Seahawks only REALLY performed against inferior units (the offense was elite in the first half against the league’s worst defenses; the defense only turned things around when going against the league’s worst offenses). Pete Carroll’s game-management has been atrocious the entire time he’s been here (wasted time outs, taking forever to get the plays called into our offense, hyper-conservative decisions on fourth downs and in plays called in general when behind the sticks), and he has failed to adjust to a changing NFL when it comes to scheme on both sides of the ball.

It would be nice to have a head coach that hewed closer to more of an analyical mindset. It’s imperative that we set up our offense to take advantage of the skillset of our best players (our quarterback and top two receivers), which also coincides with building our offensive line to be better at pass protection (when we seemingly always go after guys who are better run blockers).

As for the defense, yes we need a smarter coordinator to set us up better for success, but I think here is where our personnel department has severely failed us. The last outside pass rusher we drafted and successfully developed was Frank Clark, and he was a guy we let walk. We continually over-draft and over-pay the linebacker position (dating back to the Mike Holmgren days), when those guys are a dime a dozen. And, too often we’ve relied on homegrown secondary players (Tre Flowers, Tedric Thompson, Lano Hill, etc.) and stuck with them too long in hoping they’d figure it out, to the detriment of our pass defense. And, assuming we overpay Shaquill Griffin to be just an okay cornerback (who almost never generates turnovers), that’ll be another move that ultimately backfires and hampers our salary cap.

Cap management has been abysmal ever since the L.O.B. era graduated to second (and third) contracts. Overpaying linebackers and running backs, underpaying linemen (on both sides of the ball), and ultimately being stuck with a quarterback at the top of the market who can’t do it all himself (because, news flash: NO quarterback can do it all himself; the Chiefs will learn once the talent level around Mahomes dips, particularly on the defensive side of the ball). It’s left us cash-strapped every year, unable to do much of anything with the few million dollars we manage to open up, and what we do spend it on tends to be terribly-overpriced veterans (Greg Olsen, Luke Joeckel). That forces our hand into trading away valuable high draft picks for truly impactful stars (Jamal Adams, Carlos Dunlap), which kicks the can down the road. Remember how the Houston Texans under Bill O’Brien totally fucked themselves playing for the short-term by mortgaging their future? That’s the road we’re headed down. The more years that pass between the present and the last time we made the Super Bowl (or even the NFC Championship Game, since it was the same year), the more desperate Pete Carroll and John Schneider will be. Which will lead them to make more and more panic deals to try to win now, ultimately resulting in a long period of mediocrity if we’re not careful.

No one “wins forever” in the NFL, I don’t care who you are. It’s a fine motto, but it’s an unrealistic expectation. The chickens come home to roost at some point.

Here’s what we do know: Pete Carroll and John Schneider were at their best when they took a franchise at its nadir and turned it into the best team in the NFL (and one of the best teams of all time). The Seahawks were largely good under Mike Holmgren (with one season of relative greatness), then they fell off in 2008 and 2009. Carroll & Schneider came in prior to the 2010 season and the Seahawks won a Super Bowl in 2013.

Here’s also what we know: we haven’t won a damn thing since.

Do these guys know how to run a successful team long term? Or, are they just expert house-flippers who can only turn garbage dumps into mansions?

OR, did they just get super lucky and are actually just mediocre-at-best when they’re not continually hitting the lottery with draft picks and free agent signings?

If you believe in these guys and their ability to spot young (or underappreciated veteran) talent and cultivate it into a championship squad, then maybe you’d be in favor of a fresh start among the nucleus? Trade Russell Wilson to the Jets, get our draft picks back (plus the #2 overall selection), dump Bobby Wagner and anyone else who is old and overpaid, and start off with a fresh slate from a salary cap perspective effective 2022!

This obviously comes with the most risk. First and foremost, you have to hit on a rookie quarterback either in the 2021 or 2022 draft and hope they’re able to start immediately and produce at a high level. Then, you have to do what we did from 2010-2012: hit on elite young talent on the defensive side of the ball at key positions so that we’re ready to dominate the conference in 2-3 years. You have to hire a smart defensive coordinator and have the coaching staff in place to build these guys into winners. All while being second-guessed by the entirety of the football-following public; it’s a tall order!

As I’ll get into later this week (and, as I’ve said before), I think the Seahawks SHOULD drop Bobby Wagner and some of these other aging vets. I could also buy an argument to trade Wilson, if the return was right! Sure, he’s got another ten years in the league. Sure, he’s a proven winner and one of the best quarterbacks alive. Yes, I know what it’s like trying to 8-8 my way with a league-average guy under center. But, I also know that Wilson isn’t getting any younger. More importantly, he’s not getting any FASTER. You’ve seen what I’ve seen: he’s not escaping the breaking-down pocket as easily; these defensive linemen are catching up to him and bringing him down more often than he’s getting away and making magical things happen on the run. And, over the last few weeks, even when he HAS managed to avoid a sack, he’s converting a painfully small percentage of these sandlot throws into completions deep down field (certainly a much smaller percentage than he used to complete). Wilson is also not getting any TALLER. I never complained about his height when he was fast enough to elude defenders; but if he can’t run, and he can’t see over the crowd of linemen around him in the pocket, then how are we going to sustain drives against the league’s best defenses? How are we going to improve our third down conversions when opposing teams know we have to throw and can tee off on a turtling Wilson who succumbs to an avalanche of bodies?

Look, I’m not saying the Seahawks MUST trade Wilson. I’m not even saying I think they should. But, if they did, and the return was right, I could at least understand the argument. What is more likely: the Seahawks win a championship with the status quo, the Seahawks win a championship with Russell Wilson and a different front office, or the Seahawks win a championship with the same front office and a different quarterback?

Honestly, I don’t know the answer to that, but I’ll tell you what I believe: the REAL answer is D. None of the Above.

I don’t think the Seahawks will win a championship again with the organization as is. I think ultimately Russell Wilson will outlast Pete Carroll and John Schneider (and, obviously, the coordinators set in place), but I also don’t think Wilson will ever win another title in a Seahawks uniform. I think the Seahawks will make the playoffs plenty of times over the next decade, and our seasons will continue to end just as they have since 2015: disappointing and underachieving.

I won’t say the Seahawks will never again make another Super Bowl (I’ve learned my lesson making that guarantee), but I will say the team will look TOTALLY different from the top to the bottom the next time they do. And, if I’m ultimately proven right, then why not blow it all up now and get a jumpstart on things? What are we waiting for? To age another ten-plus years while being in the same place we are now? What’s the point of that?

Looking At Some Of The Impactful 2020 Seahawks Additions

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

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

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

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

12 – Ryan Neal

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

11 – Alton Robinson

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

10 – L.J. Collier

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

9 – Carlos Hyde

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

8 – Ethan Pocic

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

7 – Jordyn Brooks

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

6 – Benson Mayowa

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

5 – D.J. Reed

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

4 – Carlos Dunlap

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

3 – Brandon Shell

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

2 – Damien Lewis

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

1 – Jamal Adams

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

Seahawks Do Just Enough To Defeat Football Team

Look, a 20-15 win is a 20-15 win. We’re on to the Rams.

The Seahawks looked great for most of the first three quarters of this one. The gameplan was sound: get the ball out of Wilson’s hands before he gets killed. That meant short, quick passes (with a long of only 15 yards, and very few shots deep downfield, all incomplete); he completed 18/27 for 121 yards and quite frankly was just SLIGHTLY off all day. We nearly had a long TD to Freddie Swain, but one of his feet came down out of bounds. We had David Moore wide open down the other sideline, but he overshot him by about two yards out of the back of the endzone. Wilson’s lone pick was a tipped ball that looked to be heading into heavy coverage.

It seemed to me that Wilson had it beaten into his brain that this Washington defensive front was going to destroy him, and he was a little jittery as a result. Which, you know, the way he’s taken a beating this season, I don’t blame him! Probably better to be a half second too early than a half second too late against this unit.

And either way, it worked. With Dwayne Haskins at quarterback, the Seahawks’ defense didn’t need to do too much, and quite frankly shouldn’t have had to do too much! So, why put Wilson in harm’s way in a game we can just eke out the way we did?

Haskins was as miserable as ever through most of the first three quarters of this one. He ended up completing 38/55 for 295 yards, but only a 5.4 yards per attempt average. He’s not accurate. He’s ESPECIALLY not accurate down field. We never had to worry about that, and as a result, we could give him all the underneath routes he could handle. And, for most of the game, he couldn’t even hit THOSE receivers with any consistency. Finally, as this game headed into the final quarter, Haskins started to nail those checkdowns. But, it took drives of 14 and 11 plays and a combined 9:46 in game clock to score their two touchdowns.

Things started to look marginally worrying on Washington’s final drive of the game, as once again they were able to dink and dunk into Seattle territory. But, considering they needed a touchdown (a field goal would’ve done them no good considering how much time was left), I still felt relatively secure that Seattle would pull it out. And, sure enough, L.J. Collier and Carlos Dunlap recorded back-to-back sacks to force them into a 4th & 24 Hail Mary situation that fell incomplete to end the game.

Outside of those last three drives, the Seahawks’ defense once again looked phenomenal! They had four more sacks on the day (including number 9.5 by Jamal Adams), hit the quarterback 8 times, and knocked down 7 passes. Also, not for nothing, but we had two interceptions in this one, and I’m honestly surprised we didn’t get more! D.J. Reed was a man possessed, mostly stifling Scary Terry. And Shaquill Griffin seemed to rarely see any targets in this one at all. Most of Washington’s offense went through the tight end and running back checkdowns, which we will take all day.

Offensively for the Seahawks, the story was all about the run game. 181 yards on 26 carries for the team. Carlos Hyde had a 50-yard touchdown to kick off the second half. Chris Carson led the way with 63 on 15 carries. Even Wilson had a 38-yard scramble; he finished with 52 yards on 6 carries.

The receivers didn’t do much in this one, as it looked like it was tough to get open, especially in the second half. There was a scare early on, when it looked like D.K. Metcalf might’ve rolled an ankle or torn a knee ligament, but he finished the game in okay shape.

There were some developments this week, as the Seahawks advanced to 10-4 and officially clinched a playoff spot. The Saints lost to the Chiefs, to drop to 10-4. The Packers had no trouble winning to take the lead in the race to the top seed at 11-3. BUT, the craziest thing of the entire season happened in the afternoon: the Rams lost – at home – to the winless Jets. That means the Rams are now 9-5 and – if we beat them next week – we will clinch the NFC West title. That’s the good news.

The bad news, of course, is that if we hadn’t screwed that Giants game, next week wouldn’t matter as long as we beat the 49ers in Week 17. Also, if we hadn’t screwed that Giants game, we’d still be in legitimate contention for the #1 seed. But, that’s in the past; spilled milk and all that.

Here’s what we’ve got to look forward to: the Seahawks currently have the 3-seed. Assuming things stay the same the rest of the way – and we beat the Rams to win the division – that means we’d end up playing the 6-seed in the first round of the playoffs. The Saints currently have a tiebreaker edge over Seattle because they’ve won one more conference game (they would need to lose to either the Vikings or Panthers the next two weeks to fall under us).

Right now the Rams and Bucs are tied at 9-5, with the Rams having a tiebreaker edge over the Bucs because they beat them head-to-head. The Bucs finish up against Detroit and Atlanta, two terrible squads. Now, the Seahawks MUST win the NFC West … but there’s a strong chance that – in doing so – we will knock the Rams into the 6th seed, meaning we will have to play them again in the first round of the playoffs.

The last thing we want is to have to play as a Wild Card team, but the second-to-last thing we want is to have to play the fucking Rams for a third time! So, there’s something else to fucking dread, just in case you needed a put-me-down (the opposite of a pick-me-up?) as we slide into Christmas this week.

The Seahawks Have Overcome A Lot Of Injuries To Get Here

File this under: No Shit, Everyone’s Got Injuries, Sherlock.

Still, not everyone is 7-3 and tied for the lead in their division, with a reasonable path to getting the #1 seed in their conference. If you take a step back and see what the Seahawks have been able to accomplish with all that’s gone against them, there’s reason to be amazed, as well as encouraged (if guys return and play well the rest of the way).

Let’s start with the guys who are lost for the season; pour one out for what could’ve been:

  • Bruce Irvin (LB/DE)
  • Marquise Blair (S)
  • Lano Hill (S)
  • Neiko Thorpe (CB)
  • Greg Olsen (TE)

I know there are teams who have lost bigger stars for the season, but I would argue these are pretty significant hits for the Seahawks. Given what we did in the offseason, this represents a pretty large portion of our free agent dollars (dollars that were – and still continue to be – in very short supply). Irvin accounted for over $5 million on a 1-year deal, and Olsen was another $7 million on a 1-year deal. Four our trouble, we got 10 games out of Olsen (he’s our 4th leading receiver at the moment, with just one touchdown), and only 2 games out of Irvin (he was supposed to be one of our top pass rushers, and ended up getting zero sacks). Money poorly spent, I’d say (the caveat being, if we make it deep into the playoffs, Olsen might be able to return, but I won’t be counting on that).

A big shame when it comes to the Olsen injury is the fact that we recently waived Luke Willson, who was picked up by the Ravens. It sounds like he’s on their practice squad – so we COULD get him back if we wanted to – but I don’t know if he’d want to return and continue to get jerked around (since it’s clear he’s our first option when we have someone we need to cut).

The team had also carved out a decent role for Blair to be a nickel corner against bigger receivers/tight ends. The second year pro (drafted in the second round) has a lot of talent and promise, so it was heartbreaking to see him also go down in the second game of the season. We’ll never know what we would’ve had in him this year, but given the secondary’s struggles overall (and the injury issues, which we’ll get more into below), Blair’s presence would’ve been a very welcome addition to the team.

Hill and Thorpe are lesser losses, but Hill looked better than he’s ever been in his two games this season. One has to wonder if he turned a corner in his young career. As for Thorpe, he’s been a Special Teams captain and mainstay for YEARS, but this just seems to be the end of the line for him. He hasn’t been able to stay on the field for even double-digit games since 2018 (when he still missed a good month’s worth of games), and I would argue our Special Teams have been fine without him.

Next, let’s look at the short list of players who’ve yet to play a single down:

  • Rashaad Penny (RB)
  • Darrell Taylor (DE)
  • Phillip Dorsett (WR)
  • Josh Gordon (WR) *

Of the four, the odds of Dorsett ever playing for this team seems pretty remote. Foot injuries are never good. Foot injuries for wide receivers are especially damaging. And, foot injuries for wide receivers whose primary weapon is their straight-line speed … well, three strikes and you’re out, I guess. As for Gordon, he gets the asterisk because he’s not actually injured, but rather on an indefinite suspension. But, he’s signed to the team and has yet to contribute, and given the talent of both of these players, I’d say the losses hurt regardless! Gordon especially, as he has #1 receiver-type talent; add him to the elite duo of D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett and you’ve really got something! The absence of these two also meant the Seahawks briefly flirted with the idea of signing Antonio Brown, and the jury is still out as to whether that would’ve been a smart idea or not.

Since the Seahawks, as is, are so strong at wide receiver, it’s hard to make a huge deal out of Dorsett & Gordon not being here. If you had to rank this group based on who we needed most, it’s a toss-up between Penny and Taylor. I’m leaning towards Penny because he’s a proven commodity, and there were a few games there where we REALLY stunk at running back, starting the likes of DeeJay Dallas and Alex Collins. As we saw last week with the return of Carlos Hyde, talent at running back is still important in this league, and Penny is probably the second-most talented running back on this team. It does look like he’ll return soon, which could be a boost (if nothing else, to our depth, but I bet they carve out a role on third downs for him, to get his feet wet).

As for Taylor, you could argue that – until recently – defensive end/pass rush was our biggest issue. But, as a rookie, I don’t know what’s reasonable to expect from a guy (especially when he hasn’t participated in any sort of Training Camp, let alone practices or games). I’m still not holding my breath that he actually returns – based on the number of setbacks he’s had – but the team is saying he’s close, which I find encouraging. Mostly, it’s encouraging that they haven’t yet written him off entirely and shut him down in favor of returning strong next year. Either way, I’ll believe in him when I see him in an actual game.

Next, let’s take a look at the players who have missed games:

  • Jamal Adams (S)
  • Shaquill Griffin (CB)
  • Quinton Dunbar (CB)
  • Ugo Amadi (CB)
  • D.J. Reed (CB)
  • Benson Mayowa (DE)
  • Chris Carson (RB)
  • Carlos Hyde (RB)
  • Travis Homer (RB)
  • Bryan Mone (DT)
  • Rasheem Green (DE)
  • Jordyn Brooks (LB)
  • Mike Iupati (G)
  • Jordan Simmons (G)
  • Ethan Pocic (C)

This obviously isn’t a comprehensive list (I probably should’ve said that at the top, but whatever). Let’s start with the secondary: we have YET to play with our full corps of DB’s at full strength. Griffin has been out the last few weeks with a concussion and a hamstring injury; he just returned to practice this week, but it’s up in the air as to whether he can return for Monday night’s game or not. Dunbar and Adams have both missed games AND played through injuries, with middling results. Obviously Adams leads the team in sacks and is a great weapon as a blitzer, but his coverage skills were never his strongest suit, and I would argue they’ve been further hampered by whatever he’s trying to gut his way through. Dunbar has a bad knee that was never able to fully get right. He tried to step up – particularly in Griffin’s absence – but has been abused by opposing quarterbacks the entire season. He’s finally landed on the IR, in hopes that we can get him back to 100% for the stretch run, so we’ll see. Amadi’s loss was a bad blow in the wake of Blair’s season-ending injury, as Amadi was one of our other nickel corners. Thankfully, D.J. Reed returned right around the same time, to give our secondary a boost (as he missed the start of the season thanks to an offseason injury when we claimed him).

The hope for this defense was that the secondary could prop everyone else up until we figured out the pass rush situation (with guys either improving naturally, or with outside players coming in to contribute), but that sadly hasn’t been the case. It’s been made more difficult by losing guys along the already-shorthanded defensive line. Along with Irvin and Taylor, the line has also missed Benson Mayowa (our OTHER big free agent signing along the D-Line) and Rasheem Green (last year’s leading sacker) for multiple games. Bryan Mone, to his credit, has been stout in the interior of the line, and it looks like it’ll be a while before he’s able to return.

The running backs, as I mentioned, took a serious hit. I won’t dwell on them too much, but thankfully Hyde is now back and Carson is practicing again. Here’s hoping they can stay on the field the rest of the way!

Jordyn Brooks didn’t miss too much time, but as our top rookie draft pick this year, missing ANY time is a disaster for someone learning the defense and learning how to be a professional. He has yet to make too much of an impact (possibly related to missing time early on, possibly not), but it does look like he’s starting to get more comfortable with his role on this team.

Finally, it’s time to talk about the offensive line. As Seahawks fans, we KNOW how important this unit is to the success of the offense. And, for the most part, we’ve been pretty blessed with this unit being as healthy as it’s been. Mike Iupati was a question mark from the start – given his age and the way his body has been breaking down in recent seasons – but we have good depth at guard. That depth was thrown into disarray when Simmons went down, as he’s the best backup guard on the roster. Then, with Ethan Pocic going down with a concussion (after having traded away B.J. Finney to the Bengals in part for Carlos Dunlap), we had to move our rock of a right guard, Damien Lewis, over to center for a game. He made it through okay (because he’s clearly Seattle’s 2020 Rookie MVP), but there were some struggles. Thankfully, it looks like all three are back (or very close to being back), so I don’t foresee any of them missing time long term.

To wrap things up, how about a few words on guys we all suspect are playing through (or HAVE played through) injuries:

  • Brandon Shell (RT)
  • Duane Brown (LT)
  • Tyler Lockett (WR)
  • Russell Wilson (QB)?

Duane Brown is an old man, but he’s also far-and-away our best offensive lineman, at a critical position along the line. He gets regular rest days in practice throughout the season to make sure he lasts, but I cringe EVERY TIME he goes down awkwardly or gets hit down around the knees. I think he’s missed a snap here and there, but so far has yet to miss any actual games (knock on wood); I hope it stays that way. Brandon Shell has proven to be our best right tackle by a VERY large margin. He suffered an ankle injury against the Cardinals, and I still have no idea how bad it is. If it’s a high ankle sprain, he could miss a month or more (which would be a disaster for this line). If it’s just a regular ankle sprain, he could be back as early as Monday night. I’m hoping it’ll be okay.

Lockett hasn’t missed any time that I can recall, but we all remember when he was tackled poorly by the Rams (I want to say?) and D.K. Metcalf almost started a riot in defense of his teammate. That was the second time he’s been nearly-injured, and he’s a little guy as it is! This offense is elite because it has Russell Wilson and TWO top-flight receivers. If you take away one of those receivers, it becomes exponentially easier to defend this team. So, take care Tyler Lockett!

As for Wilson, I don’t think he was ever actually injured, but I do think it’s funny that fans have this rumor that he was concussed and that’s why he struggled in our three losses. It’s the same as saying there’s widespread election fraud happening in America (but, of course, only in the swing states, and really only in the swing states that the president lost … how convenient). Never underestimate humanity’s ability to believe what it wants to believe!

In all seriousness, though, this season will go straight down the shitter if Wilson ever gets seriously injured. He HAS taken a lot of bad-looking hits, so I think it’s wise to incorporate more running (with the running backs) into the gameplan. Let’s get through these next four games with a 4-0 record and then we can start flying by the seat of our pants again!