Seahawks Death Week 2022: What Moves Should Be Made

I got into what I want the Seahawks to do at quarterback yesterday, so we’ll get into the rest of the roster here.

If you look at the Seahawks’ salary cap for 2023, you’re going to find some REAL annoying shit at the top. Two safeties – Jamal Adams and Quandre Diggs – sitting #1 and #2 with our biggest cap hits, both over $18 million. It’s fucking asinine! You might be able to talk me into one safety at that kind of figure, if he’s far-and-away the best in the game. But, one guy can’t stay on the field, and the other clearly lost a step in 2022 (and even at his best he wasn’t the best).

The next two players on the list – Tyler Lockett and D.K. Metcalf – are more appropriately ranked. They’re your best wide receivers (a premium position) and they play among the best receivers in the game. Even though they’re taking up a significant portion of the salary cap, they’re still good value.

Then, you’ve got Uchenna Nwosu at around $13 million; that’s a good number for what he gave us in 2022. Figure he’ll pretty easily replicate those numbers if he stays healthy.

So, out of the top five highest paid players currently under contract for 2023, I’m happy with three of them. Not a great percentage.

They say the NFL’s middle class is dead, but I think the Seahawks are trying to remedy that in a big way. We have six guys making between $5 million and just over $12 million. This is a significant chunk of change for players who you could probably replace for minimum salaries and get production that’s just as good. Shelby Harris tops that list at just over $12 million. He was a bright spot on a very bad defensive line. But, I don’t know if he’s giving you $12 million worth of production.

Gabe Jackson is set to count just over $11 million, but he could be cut for $6.5 million in savings. That might be the way to go, considering how he is on the downside of his career. Then, you’ve got Dissly and Fant, who count for a combined $16 million against the cap. Yikes. But, we’re already committed to them, so there’s not much we can do there. Then, there’s Quinton Jefferson and Al Woods making a combined $12 million … I dunno.

It all boils down to there being around $34 million in cap space next year (and I don’t know if that counts the new contract for our kicker). Which would be entirely used up if Geno Smith returns on the franchise tag. How did we get here? We got rid of Russell Wilson, we shed a lot of dead weight, we played a lot of rookies and cheap guys … and yet we have practically nothing to work with because we’re going to have to pay Geno’s ass the bulk of it.

There are SO MANY problems with this team! I can’t even begin to comprehend how much of the defensive line needs to be replaced. The off-ball linebackers are trash, and we likely can’t even count on Jordyn Brooks to be healthy with his significant knee injury/surgery (not that I’m crazy-enamored with Brooks anyway, considering the lack of impact plays he makes in the backfield). That’s really two entire position groups that need significant revamping, but of course no money to work with (while we’re sickeningly over-paying for our two starting safeties).

I’m already on record as saying the Seahawks should cheap-out on quarterback and use every available dollar to fix the defense and the interior of the offensive line. So, asked and answered, that’s what I want the Seahawks to do in 2023.

But, since we live in the real world – where Geno Smith will most definitely be back on a 3-4 year deal – I have to come to grips with what we have to offer.

Maybe there’s ONE mid-tier free agent defensive starter we can bring in. Then, there will be the requisite dumpster diving, with all our trust falling on the draft.

My hunch is: the Seahawks will ignore the quarterback position entirely in the draft. So, high-end pass rusher at the top, maybe a trade-back or two, then pick up the following:

  • Guard/Center – somewhere in the low first, upper second round, who can step in right away and start for the next four years. Ideally, this will be the first competent center we’ve had since Max Unger
  • Safety – because we’re going to need someone to step in to start in 2024, when we likely cut both Adams and Diggs
  • Wide Receiver – we need a quality #3 receiver who isn’t Dee Eskridge, so I wouldn’t mind this guy being a second or third rounder with upside as a possession receiver
  • Defensive Tackle – a real big, burly dude to clog up the middle in this 3-4 defense
  • Inside Linebacker – probably a couple of ’em – one on day 2, one in the early part of day 3 – with good speed and play-making ability
  • Another Guard/Center – to further bolster our depth
  • The Next Brock Purdy In The 7th Round – a guy can dream, right?

Honestly, as long as we don’t bring back Cody Barton, I don’t care what else the Seahawks do with their offseason.

Seahawks Death Week 2022: Looking On The Bright Side

I tend to come on here and do a lot of bitching. It’s my outlet. That way, I don’t have to bombard loved ones with my rantings on draft order, mediocre quarterbacks, atrocious defenses, and the like.

But, today, I’m not going to do that. Today I’m taking off my pissy-pants and looking on the brighter side of Seahawks life.

As an astute commenter recently noted, it’s important to remember where our expectations were heading into the season. Mine were at an all-time low (or close to it) for the Seahawks. I estimated anywhere from 3-4 wins, with the Broncos being division winners. So, still getting that top 5 pick (from those Broncos), while having a better-than-anticipated Seahawks roster full of promising prospects getting lots of valuable experience, is a pretty big win! You could argue this is the best-possible (reasonable) season we could’ve gotten. Obviously, the ACTUAL best-possible season would’ve been Denver having the worst record in the NFL, with the Seahawks winning the Super Bowl. But, we’re bound by the laws of reality, which is still pretty damn good.

I couldn’t be happier with our 2022 draft class.

Kenneth Walker finished 12th in the league in rushing yards, with 1,050. And that’s with two full missed games, and not really taking over lead rushing duties until week five. He averaged 70 yards per game, which was 9th in the NFL, as well as 4.6 yards per carry, which was 9th as well (minimum 200 attempts). Maybe more importantly, he was the best rookie running back in this class, given his ability and durability. We’ll see how long he’s able to hold that title, but regardless that’s a VERY strong start to a career.

I thought Charles Cross and Abe Lucas acquitted themselves quite well as bookend offensive tackles. It’s not easy to find ONE of those positions in the draft, let alone two in the SAME draft. You never want to unfurl the Mission Accomplished banner after one quality season, but I think it’s reasonable to suspect we’re set at those spots for the next few years at least. Were they perfect? Of course not. But, the mistakes appeared to be minimal (for rookies), and the upside looks like it’s substantial.

On the defensive side of the ball, one of the few bright spots was cornerback Tariq Woolen, who finished with 6 interceptions in his first year. He also made the Pro Bowl, which is awesome! When you consider he was expected to be a rough project at corner, the fact that he started every game and played at such a high level is, frankly, phenomenal. It’s too early to start bandying around LOB comparisons, but if anyone deserves to be lumped into that group, it looks like it might be Woolen.

Guys like slot corner Coby Bryant and edge rusher/linebacker Boye Mafe have flashed at times, but have also looked a little rough. I’ll be cautiously optimistic with them, but that’s more than you could say for a lot of Seahawks draft picks over the last few years.

Other bright spots include our top two receivers. D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett both surpassed 1,000 yards receiving, which seemed impossible before the season (1,048 for D.K., 1,033 for Tyler). They combined for 15 of our 30 receiving touchdowns; you can’t really ask for much more than that. We only had one other instance of two receivers catching over 1,000 yards in the same season under Russell Wilson’s leadership, and that was 2020 (with the same guys).

Speaking of the passing game, even though I have my reservations going forward, you can’t deny the numbers Geno Smith put up. He set the Seahawks’ single season passing yards record with 4,282. Granted, he needed 17 games to do it (when all others had, at most, 16 games to play in), but a record is a record. He ranked 4th in yards per game, 7th in passer rating, 1st in completion percentage, 7th in touchdowns, and 1st in both attempts and completions among all Seahawks single-season passers. That’s quite a feat after coming off of Russell Wilson, who wanted nothing more than to be the franchise leader in attempts (he’s actually only 3rd on the list with his 2020 season, behind Matt Hasselbeck’s 2007). By most tangible measures, you could argue Geno Smith had the best season of any Seahawks quarterback ever. Which is why there will be a strong push to bring him back on a multi-year extension.

I would also say we got strong seasons from all three of our tight ends, Noah Fant, Will Dissly, and Colby Parkinson. Nothing too flashy, but they were fine outlets when our other receivers were covered.

Defensively, Uchenna Nwosu was our brightest shining star. He finished with 9.5 sacks, 3 forced fumbles, 12 tackles for loss, and was our best and most consistent source of pressure. He’s one of the rare outside defensive free agents who’s come here and succeeded right away in the last decade.

Darrell Taylor picked up his game significantly late in the year, also finishing with 9.5 sacks. Quinton Jefferson and Bruce Irvin had nice reunions with the team, finishing with a combined 9 sacks. Quandre Diggs also came on a bit late in the season, finishing with 4 interceptions. And Ryan Neal was a sneaky defensive MVP, playing at a high level as our third safety thrust into a starting role early in the season. Also, kudos go to Shelby Harris for his veteran presence along the much-maligned defensive line. And, why not, Mike Jackson had some okay moments in his first year as a starting cornerback (4th year in the league).

There’s a universe where these guys I’ve just referenced are the foundation of the next great Seahawks team. No one is satisfied with a 9-8 record and semi-backing into the playoffs as a 7-seed. But I don’t think there’s any question that a 9-8 team is a lot closer to being at a championship level than a 4 or 5-win team with fundamental problems at multiple important areas. Especially when that 9-8 team has a couple of high selections in the first two rounds of the 2023 draft.

The key will be that draft, though. You can’t just do what we did in 2022 and expect a significant turnaround. It takes multiple consecutive years of nailing drafts and free agent classes to get things right.

But, I will say this: while I have my doubts about the defensive coordinator, I think this coaching staff and front office deserve a ton of credit for keeping this team together and blowing out everyone’s expectations. The organization got it right with Russell Wilson, even if we were a year or two too late in getting rid of him.

You can obviously understand why that trade happened the way it did, when it did. It’s not easy moving on from a franchise quarterback who’s been the best we’ve ever had, while leading us to back-to-back Super Bowls. I think we did the best we could under the circumstances, with Wilson having a no-trade clause and Denver being our only real option.

I would argue given our level of talent and lack of depth (particularly on the defensive side of the ball), it’s a miracle we won as many games as we did! It was also a miracle we stayed as healthy as we did, at our most important positions. I think I read on Twitter that Geno Smith was the only quarterback to take all of his team’s snaps (not counting crazy wildcat plays and whatnot). When you factor in an O-line breaking in two rookies at tackle, and having their issues along the interior, as well as the fact that Geno was tied for the third-most sacks taken, I don’t know how that’s even possible!

So, if you want, feel free to be optimistic about the future. I don’t blame you! I’m naturally skeptical about my Seattle teams, so I’ll be over here pouting in my little corner of the Internet. But, I’ll tell you this much: I’m extremely excited for all the moves the Seahawks end up making this upcoming offseason. I know I won’t agree with all of them, but there should be enough positives to rope me into a Glass Half Full assessment heading into this September. I can’t wait to be wildly disappointed at the conclusion of next season!

Who Do The Seahawks Have On Defense That’s Worth A Damn?

There’s nothing worse in football than a shitty defense. Put me in the minority of football fans: I want a defense that far-and-away outclasses the offense. I’d rather root for a team like the 49ers than I would a team like the Chiefs. Great defenses don’t take weeks off. Great defenses can make great offenses look inept; rarely do you see it go the other way. Rarely do you see a great defense – that isn’t totally decimated by injuries, thereby rendering it not-so-great – get totally obliterated. That’s what I’m looking for in a championship-level football team. That’s what I’m counting on when it comes to the playoffs. Great defense, and a quarterback who can get the job done in a pinch.

It feels like it’s been forever since the Seahawks have had a great defense. You could argue we haven’t had one since 2014 or 2015, which in NFL terms IS forever. The Seahawks haven’t just been mediocre, though. They’ve been downright BAD. What’s worse, they’ve often been bad masquerading as mediocre, which has led to this endless fucking cycle of never really going all-in to improve.

Year after year where we start out as the absolute worst defense in football. Then, through smoke and mirrors (and usually a reduction in the quality of offensive opponents), as the season goes along, they improve JUST enough to fool us into believing they’re not as bad as we thought. An inept coaching staff gets to keep their jobs (for a while), inept players get to stick around (for a while), and it starts all over again.

It’s been a long time since we’ve been THIS bad though. The run defense has been bad in spurts over the last half-decade, but never this consistently atrocious. There’s always been SOMETHING to stem the tide, and maybe that something was Bobby Wagner. Maybe we took him for granted for too long, and now we’re reaping what we sow.

There’s been a chicken or egg thing with this defense this year. Is it a scheme/coaching problem? Or is it a lack of talent among the players problem?

I’m inclined to think the scheme is sound – because we’ve seen the Vic Fangio scheme work all over the league – but the key difference is that usually they have Vic Fangio running it. I’ve had a problem with Clint Hurtt since it was announced he was taking over as defensive coordinator. Here’s a guy who’s done nothing in his coaching career, who led a mediocre-at-best defensive line unit under the previous shitty regime, and you just have to wonder what this guy did to deserve a promotion, as someone who’s never coached at this level before.

That being said, I don’t think there’s any question there’s a lack of talent on this team. Tariq Woolen appears to be the only player worth a damn. Uchenna Nwosu looks good week-in and week-out, but that can be deceiving. Is he just a standout among clods? Or is he actually a talented pass rusher/outside linebacker? I think it’s worth questioning since the Chargers let him go in free agency, and the Seahawks were only willing to sign him to a 2-year deal.

After that? Fuck this defense. As has been belabored, Jordyn Brooks makes a lot of tackles, but rarely are they of any impact. What big plays has he generated to put teams behind the sticks? Quandre Diggs appears to have lost a step, and if he’s going to keep dropping interceptions, then what good is he? We’re all well aware of Jamal Adams’ broken-down body; can’t count on him going forward. Darrell Taylor has had a nightmare season, given where we expected him to be in his development. Even Poona Ford and Bryan Mone have appeared to take steps back in their production, and all those guys are paid to do is stop the run! That’s literally their only fucking job!

The third and fourth best players on this defense are Al Woods and Shelby Harris, two aging vets you could get on the scrap heap in any given offseason.

It really makes you wonder how far away we are from building that elite defense we’ve missed so much. Are we just a few impact players away? Or is a total teardown and rebuild required? I don’t think we’re going to see the latter – at least as long as Pete Carroll and John Schneider are here – so that means we have to hope we’re just a draft away from turning things around.

Heading into next year, we’ve got the aforementioned Woolen and Nwosu. We hope the likes of Coby Bryant and/or Tre Brown can make an impact. Beyond that, man, I dunno. It seems more and more like we’re going to need that first Broncos pick to be an impact defensive lineman. I’m wondering if we’re going to need to use the vast majority of our draft picks to go towards the defense!

It’s extremely discouraging. I don’t like calling this a “lost season” because that makes it sound like a failure, when really it’s not THAT bad. But, any season where you’re not seriously contending for a championship – or at least building towards that – is indeed a lost season. You like to at least hang your hat on some players you can point to and say, “These are the building blocks of a potential championship team.” There are guys up and down that offense where you can say that. But, on defense, the cupboard is fucking BARE.

Fans are impatient. I get that. The Seahawks are 7-7 with three weeks to go. We’d need to win out AND we’d need help if we want to make the playoffs as one of the last two wild card teams. To win out, that means we’d need to somehow defeat the Chiefs this weekend, then turn around and beat the Jets and Rams at home. As a team that couldn’t even beat the Panthers, Raiders, or Bucs, that feels implausible. As such, I just want to get this Seahawks season over with as soon as possible, with as many defeats as possible, to better our draft picks for next year. I want to fast forward to the 2023 draft, I want us to select the best possible players, and I want the next regular season to get going with our bounty of improved talent! It feels insane to say that while there are still relevant regular season games left to play in 2022, but that’s where I’m at.

I can’t watch this defense anymore. It’s infuriating. The offense has been a heartwarming story thus far, but it’s not good enough to overcome the other side of the ball being so helpless. It’s time to seriously overhaul the whole fucking unit, from top to bottom, by any means necessary. All these half measures aren’t going to cut it anymore.

Seahawks 53-Man Roster Projection Ready Set Go!

It’s a little early for this, I’ll admit. But, this Friday I’m leaving on a trip and won’t be back until Labor Day, which doesn’t leave me a lot of time until the start of the regular season (plus, will be after the final cut-down day anyway, rendering this whole exercise moo. A cow’s opinion). Really, when you think about it, this isn’t early at all. It’s probably late, if I’m being honest! What am I even talking about?!

I don’t have a lot invested in this team, so I imagine my latest 53-man roster projection is going to be more wrong than normal (when I never really gave a damn anyway). Did I include too many linebackers and not enough offensive linemen? Probably. Anyway, here we go.

Quarterbacks

  • Geno Smith
  • Drew Lock

It’s our worst nightmare, come to fruition. If I had to guess, I’d say Geno gets the nod to start the regular season, but I can’t imagine that will last long (if it happens at all). I still contend the team wants Lock to be the guy, but his fucking up at every turn is holding him back.

Running Backs

  • Rashaad Penny
  • Kenneth Walker
  • Travis Homer
  • DeeJay Dallas
  • Nick Bellore

Pretty easy one here. I don’t dare lump Bellore in with the rest of the linebackers, but sure, he’s that too, I guess (in addition to a fullback the team almost never uses). When Walker’s healthy, this figures to be a 2-man backfield, but Homer will still likely see his fair share of reps in the 2-minute offense. And, injuries will likely dictate all of these guys appear at one time or another.

Wide Receivers

  • D.K. Metcalf
  • Tyler Lockett
  • Freddie Swain
  • Dee Eskridge
  • Penny Hart
  • Dareke Young

I really don’t believe Eskridge has done a damn thing to earn a spot on this roster, other than being our top draft pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. Feels too soon to give up on a 2nd round pick, but then again, he’s CONSTANTLY FUCKING INJURED. I don’t get it. Hart is a hedge against that, plus he’s a special teams whiz. And I feel like if you keep Eskridge, you have to keep a sixth receiver just in case. It seems like Young has the higher upside, whereas Bo Melton is probably likelier to pass through to the practice squad.

Tight Ends

  • Noah Fant
  • Will Dissly
  • Colby Parkinson

Easy peasy lemon squeezy. No notes.

Offensive Line

  • Charles Cross
  • Damien Lewis
  • Austin Blythe
  • Gabe Jackson
  • Abe Lucas
  • Phil Haynes
  • Jake Curhan
  • Kyle Fuller
  • Stone Forsythe

Odds are we’ll see a 10th lineman here, but you could conceivably get away with just the 9. It all depends on how bad the Lewis injury is and how long he’ll miss time. But, Curhan can play guard or tackle. Fuller can play center or guard. Forsythe is your traditional tackle backup. There’s enough cross-polination among the backups here to cover your ass in a pinch. That assumes, of course, that Lucas is your starting right tackle, which is the rumor I’m hearing.

Defensive Linemen

  • Shelby Harris
  • Poona Ford
  • Bryan Mone
  • Al Woods
  • Quinton Jefferson
  • L.J. Collier
  • Myles Adams

These are the beefy dudes who should spend little-to-no time dropping back into coverage. That figure could be drastically high; I’m really taking a stab in the dark here. But, I’ve also ranked them in order of likelihood to make the team, so could be a tough break for one or both of Collier & Adams (but, I’ve heard good things about Collier in practice, and I’ve seen good things from Adams in the two games so far).

Pass Rushers/Strong-Side Linebackers

  • Darrell Taylor
  • Boye Mafe
  • Uchenna Nwosu
  • Alton Robinson
  • Tyreke Smith

Again, I’m ranking these by order of likelihood to make the team. But, I think the top four are as close to locks as possible. Smith makes my roster because he’s a draft pick, but I couldn’t tell you if he’s done a damn thing so far in the pre-season.

Linebackers

  • Jordyn Brooks
  • Cody Barton
  • Tanner Muse
  • Vi Jones

I’ll be honest, Muse and Jones are here because they’re names I recognize. I think one or both might be valuable special teamers, maybe? I also think this team could be sifting through cast-offs from other teams, since the position outside of Brooks has been so underwhelming.

Safeties

  • Jamal Adams
  • Quandre Diggs
  • Ryan Neal
  • Marquise Blair

I haven’t seen or heard about Neal, but I’m assuming based on his production for this team of late, he’ll get a crack to be a backup again. Blair, on the other hand, has done nothing but disappoint in the pre-season. I wouldn’t be shocked if Blair gets chopped and we go with someone else on our roster or pick up another team’s reject(s).

Cornerbacks

  • Tariq Woolen
  • Coby Bryant
  • Sidney Jones
  • Artie Burns
  • Justin Coleman

I don’t think Coleman deserves to be on this team, but I think he’s going to make it anyway. Odds are it’s Jones and Burns to start – with Bryant being the team’s top nickel guy – but I won’t be surprised to see Woolen out there (especially if Burns or Jones can’t get healthy). I’m also banking on Tre Brown starting out on PUP, or otherwise not joining the roster until later on in the season.

Special Teams

  • Tyler Ott (LS)
  • Michael Dickson (P)
  • Jason Myers (K)

Seems crazy that Myers gets to keep his job based on what we’ve seen, but what are you going to do? He’s going to continue to be aggravating, but he’s going to be far from the most aggravating thing we see on a weekly basis from this team.

The Seahawks Weren’t Totally Uninteresting In A Pre-Season Loss In Pittsburgh

I had scheduled myself to write about the Mariners today and the Seahawks tomorrow, but we’re flip-flopping after an underwhelming series loss to the Rangers of all teams.

I didn’t watch the Seahawks game live, because I have better things to do than watch quasi-meaningless pre-season games. But, you know what I don’t have better things to do than? Watching quasi-meaningless pre-season games the next day on DVR when I already know the outcome of the game!

I’ll just get this out of the way early so we can all move on: I’m not crazy about pre-season announcing booths in general, but the addition of an otherwise quite charming Michael Robinson brought the homerism to a new level. I didn’t bother to write down any specific criticisms, but at points I was wondering if we were watching the same players. Like, he’d praise their attributes that they clearly don’t exhibit! To counter-balance that, I thought the addition of Michael Bennett was delightful, and I particularly enjoyed his interviews on the field. He’s a wild card in the best possible way (even though it’s clear he’s been instructed to also juice up the homerism). Curt Menefee, as always, is a pro’s pro and we’re lucky to have him doing our games. He has no reason to! We’re not interesting from a national perspective without Russell Wilson and Bobby Wagner anymore!

The game result is – as has been mentioned everywhere – not important. The Seahawks got down 14-0 through the first quarter, we managed to execute a 2-minute drive heading into halftime to cut the deficit to 17-10, then we tied it on our first possession after halftime. We swapped touchdowns and 2-point conversions after that, to make it 25-25 late in the game. Then, a critical stop by the Seahawks defense was rewarded with a devastating sack/fumble, and the Steelers scored a TD with just 3 seconds left in the game to give the game its final score, 32-25.

Pre-Season Quarterback Report

As has been the case pretty much all off-season, Geno Smith worked with the starters and Drew Lock worked with the backups. In this particular game, Geno worked the entire first half and Drew worked the entire second half.

And, as expected, neither one really stood out, at least to my eye. They’re both crappy-to-mediocre backup quarterbacks in this league. And yet, I came to a definite conclusion while watching this game, as Geno Smith tottered his way to a sack in an imploding pocket (even though he had plenty of time to throw it away): if I have to watch a full season where Geno Smith is my team’s starting quarterback, I’m going to blow my fucking brains out.

Mind you, I don’t expect that to be the end result of my life, so let’s just say I’ll be taking every opportunity to casually skip even regular season Seahawks games this year.

I don’t want this to sound like I’m gung-ho over Drew Lock, because I’m very much not. But, man, we fucking know what Geno Smith has to offer. He was shitty with the Jets (and other teams) and he’s shitty now. Age and sitting behind Russell Wilson has not magically made him better. There’s no savvy to his game. He looks way too long to his first read, for one thing. That makes him frequently late in throwing to that first read if he decides it’s open. Otherwise, it makes him late to his secondary reads, so it’s like he holds on Read 1, and then a few seconds later decides to check it down to his final read. This is especially aggravating when it’s 3rd & long and the check-down gets tackled well before the first down line to gain.

That’s why you can see his stats from Saturday – 10/15, 101 yards, no turnovers – and think that’s not so bad. Last year, in three games, he completed over 68% of his passes largely in this fashion (looking pretty spry against probably the league’s worst defense in Jacksonville), which again leads one to think he’s not so bad. Think again. Think long and hard about the Geno Smith you’ve watched over the last decade.

I just can’t with him. All things being equal – and they do look pretty equal – give me the unfamiliar. Drew Lock, to his credit, did some good things in this one. He doubled the number of touchdown drives that Geno gave us, he completed one more pass for one more yard in the same number of attempts. But, he also took double the number of sacks, including the game-sealing fumble at the end (where he was supposed to recognize the blitzer off the edge and adjust the play/protection accordingly).

You look for moments where a quarterback can show you what he’s got. That was Drew Lock’s moment. The game was tied, there was just over a minute left and we got it on Pittsburgh’s side of the 50 yard line. All we needed was 20-25 yards for an easy game-winning field goal. That’s a moment where you MUST orchestrate a game-winning drive for your team. Granted, it was the pre-season, so it was backups against backups. But, that makes it all the more important if you’re Drew Lock and you’re trying to be a starter in this league. Starters don’t fuck that up. Starters see that blitzer and make mincemeat out of the Steelers on that play. This is going to be Lock’s fourth year in the league; if you can’t see a pretty obvious blitz off the edge by now, then I just don’t think it’s ever going to click for you.

And yet, I still would prefer to see Lock as our starting quarterback this season. Partly because he’s Not Geno Smith, but also because I think he sucks just a little bit more. I think he’s going to be a little more reckless with the football, where Geno might be a little more careful. I think he’ll cost us maybe an extra game or two, where Geno might do just enough to game manage his way to victory. It’s the difference between going 8-9 and 6-11, but that’s a pretty big leap in the NFL draft standings, and that’s all that matters right now.

Because, clearly, neither of these guys deserve to be around and playing in meaningful football games in 2023.

Other Pre-Season Tidbits

I was quite impressed with the offensive line throughout this one. If there’s one positive takeaway, it’s that the depth up front is likely to be our biggest strength.

By extension, I thought the running backs looked great as well! Granted, Rashaad Penny was out with injury (of course), but that just meant more Kenneth Walker. He didn’t break anything, but he looked solid in general. More eye-opening was what we saw from DeeJay Dallas and even Travis Homer, who both got busy running AND pass catching. Great day from that room!

I was pretty appalled by our run defense, especially when you saw a good chunk of our starting interior linemen out there for much of the game. Even in the first half, the Steelers were ripping us to shreds.

Cody Barton is Just A Guy. I don’t know where anyone got the opinion that he’s going to be a good player for this team, but he’s not. He’s just a warm body. His deficiencies might be covered up a little more when Jordyn Brooks is out there being a beast. But, when Barton is the main guy, you can see just how slow he is, how bad his instincts are, and how he gets run over on the reg. If ankle tackles where the runner still falls forward for 2-3 extra yards are your jam, then sign up for more Cody Barton. But, as for me, I prefer an inside linebacker with some juice.

Bit of a mixed bag from our receivers. I thought the rookies Bo Melton and Dareke Young looked solid. No D.K. or Lockett in this one, nor any Swain or Dee Eskridge (naturally). We did get our first look at Noah Fant, who will definitely have a big role in this passing game. That being said, Fant isn’t going to be much of a blocker, especially out in space, so we’ll have to adjust our expectations accordingly. Also, he needs to work on his footwork, because he had a great opportunity along the sidelines, but couldn’t get his second foot down in bounds.

I was pleased to see Darrell Taylor and Alton Robinson make big impacts in the pass rush. And I was thrilled with the two sacks from Boye Mafe! He might be raw, but his speed is NFL-ready, no doubt about it. Shelby Harris looks like a quality addition to the interior, and I think it was Myles Adams who stood out quite a bit in the second half (I believe he was wearing #95 in this one, but I could be mistaken). I don’t know how many DTs we can carry, but I’m rooting for Adams.

I’m going to withhold too much judgment on the secondary for now, because we were looking at a lot of inexperienced guys out there on the boundary. I will say that Justin Coleman looks bad and old and slow; he probably shouldn’t make this team. Promisingly enough, Tariq Woolen got the start on one side and was hit or miss. I say “promisingly” because he was always expected to be more of a project, so the fact that the team trusts him enough to start him right out of the gate is encouraging for his overall talent level. I’ll need to see better ball skills, and turning his head when the ball is in the air, but otherwise there are things to build upon, as well as things to point to and praise. On the other side, we saw a lot of Coby Bryant. I don’t know where he’s ultimately going to end up (if it’s outside or as a nickel guy), but sort of the same deal: some good things to point to, some things for him to work on. You wouldn’t expect either guy to be finished products right out of college, but I like that they both have the trust of these coaches this early in their careers.

That being said, if Sidney Jones and/or Artie Burns continue to be injured throughout this season, we could be looking at significant growing pains from our secondary. Granted, neither of our starting safeties – Quandre Diggs & Jamal Adams – played in this one. Here’s hoping they can paper over where we’re limited on the outside.

Finally, I’ll just say the kicking game looked shaky as hell! Jason Myers doinked one in off the upright and did not look sharp; he was also knocking some kickoffs short, but that may have been by design to test our coverage units (who graded out pretty poorly, in my layman’s opinion). Michael Dickson punted a bunch into the endzone, which is entirely unlike him. I’d say the old line about how it’s pre-season for everyone, including punters, but what else does he do with his time in training camp? He punts! Where’s that magic leg we’ve seen for four years?! That magic leg we’re paying Top-Of-The-Punter-Market prices!

How Good Could The Seahawks Be (Quarterback Aside)?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

OMFG: The Seahawks Traded Russell Wilson To The Broncos

I did not expect to take a shower and return to dozens upon dozens of tweets talking about a Russell Wilson trade. If I’m being honest, I foolishly hoped the MLB had worked out an agreement on a new CBA. This is … decidedly different news.

Earlier today, it was reported Aaron Rodgers was set to sign a 4-year, $200 million deal to stay with the Packers. That immediately got the Seahawks beat writers discussing Wilson; would you pay him upwards of $50 million per year to stick around through his late 30’s?

I would not. Even though Rodgers has also been short on Super Bowl appearances, he’s largely carried that team in ways Wilson hasn’t. Rodgers has done more with worse Packers teams, is my ultimate point. He has multiple MVP awards for a reason. When the Seahawks have tried to model their offense around Wilson’s arm – to the detriment of the running game – he hasn’t been enough all by himself to get us over the hump. And, the way things were headed, it was never going to work long term. He was always going to butt up against the notion that he needs a strong running game and defense to take us back to the Super Bowl. Paying him $50 million a year or more wasn’t going to help us in any way, shape, or form. That’s just going to make it that much more difficult to fill out a proper roster.

Don’t give me this about the Rams and other teams kicking the can down the road. That’s easy to say when your highest paid players are the stars at the most important positions. It’s easy to look at the Rams as a model franchise who can pay the QB position a lot of money and still win it all, when they have Aaron Donald (the best football player alive, regardless of position), Jalen Ramsey (one of the top corners in the game, decidedly a premium position), and quality players all along the defensive line around those guys. The Seahawks are paying a middle linebacker and a safety who can’t cover anyone gobs of money that would be better spent along the DL and at CB.

It’s fair to question, at this point, whether or not we have the right front office in place – with Pete Carroll at the epicenter – to lead the next rebuild, or the search for our next franchise quarterback. Time will tell. But, running it back for the sake of running it back was never going to lead to a championship in 2022, or 2023 in all likelihood.

If we’re not going to win a Super Bowl in the next two years, then what are we clinging to Russell Wilson for?

  • The Broncos get: Russell Wilson & a 4th round pick
  • The Seahawks get: Drew Lock, Noah Fant, Shelby Harris, two 1st rounders, two 2nd rounders, and a 5th rounder

One of the first rounders is the 9th overall pick this year. We also get the Broncos’ original 2nd rounder this year, so that’s something.

It’s easy to look at the players and cringe. Fant is easily the best player the Seahawks are getting in return. He’s a value tight end this year, then would make nearly $7 million next year if we retain him (he’s also young and good enough to warrant an extension, if we’re so inclined, but I would imagine we’d wait until after this season to do so).

Harris is a defensive end who will be 31 this year; he’s just a guy. His season high in sacks is 6.0, which he’s done twice and appears to be his ceiling. The note that he’s a respected veteran holds no water with me. He’s making $7.5 million in base salary this year, and $8.5 million next year (his only guaranteed money is $5 million this year, so we could cut him prior to 2023 for no dead cap hit).

Everyone is going to point to Drew Lock and wail; I can’t blame you. He might be the worst starting quarterback in the league, and I don’t expect that to change anytime soon. He might even be too bad to be anyone’s backup; I can’t imagine Geno Smith being worse, for instance. I won’t sugarcoat how bad Lock is; I don’t expect his play to improve in Seattle. Even if we go HARD to becoming a run-first team, you still have to throw the ball around 50% of the time. He doesn’t have the accuracy or ability to do much of anything in the NFL.

It’s all about the draft picks. It’s also about finding a quarterback who will buy in. It’s about getting rid of an aging, short pocket passer who can’t hit the intermediate-middle route and whose legs’ best days are long behind him. I dread what Wilson will look like in five years.

The Seahawks aren’t the Rams; they’re like most other teams in the NFL. To succeed in this league at a high level, you need to build up your roster and hit on a rookie QB. Teams with good quarterbacks on rookie deals tend to be the best. This at least allows us the opportunity – with some high picks this year (three in the top 41 or so) – to start building up the roster. If we have a down season, then come back with more high picks next year, the rebuild might not take as long as expected.

You can sweat the Seahawks and their draft classes since 2012, but they sure as shit knew what they were doing those first three years, when they were picking relatively high. It’s hard picking in the mid-to-high 20’s. They were also rumored to be taking serious looks at Mahomes and Allen (even, I believe, showing up at their respective Pro Days) when Wilson was firmly entrenched as our franchise quarterback. I don’t know why you do that if you’re not at least sniffing around at a possible replacement. Plus, they obviously hit on Wilson in the third round, so it’s not like these guys have no clue.

As someone who was sick and tired of the Let Russ Cook argument – a failure in execution, 100% – I’m fine with seeing him go. This is the best time to get the most value out of him; we’ve seen him at his best. We had a tremendous decade-long run with him at the helm, including multiple divisional titles, two Super Bowl appearances, and one title. Maybe the Broncos squeeze some more elite passing years out of him, but I don’t know if he’ll win any more championships the rest of the way. And I think his final years in the league will rival some of the biggest drop-offs we’ve ever seen at the position. He finally got hurt in 2021 and had to miss games; you think that’s going to be the last serious injury he ever has? He’s getting older and slower, and he’s not Tom Brady.

It’s never ideal to trade a franchise quarterback in the hand. There’s a VERY good chance the Seahawks squander this deal, that the players we get in return do nothing, and we whiff on the draft picks. In which case, the coach and GM will be gone.

But, I don’t believe they were ever going to win it all again with Wilson either. Since it became clear Pete & John were going nowhere, this was the only way to shake things up and see if we could rejuvenate this franchise. It’s a long shot, but what else did we have to look forward to?

A 2022 season with Wilson might’ve seen the Seahawks reach the playoffs again, but we’re also in one of the most challenging divisions in the league, so a wild card spot was probably our ceiling. Followed by a loss in the first or second round of the playoffs.

Following that, we would’ve looked forward to yet another protracted and annoying battle in the media for Wilson’s next contract extension (if he was even remotely interested in sticking around, which I don’t believe he was). Either that, or another protracted and annoying media campaign where Wilson tries to force another trade anyway. Who wants to endure that?

I’ll take the clean break. I’ll take leaving on reasonably good terms. I’ll take the positive memories we have, over the sour ending we were likely to see.