The Top 20 Seahawks Of 2021

The theme of this offseason – which I alluded to last Friday, but don’t think I properly answered – is: How Quick Can The Seahawks Get Back To Contending For Championships? Turning things around can be a little nebulous; if by “turning around” you mean getting back to the playoffs, as I’ve said before, we can pretty much run the same team back and hope variance takes care of everything else (on top of a second year with the same coordinator, and a little better injury luck). But, I don’t think very many of us are satisfied with “just making the playoffs”. We’ve been “just making the playoffs” pretty much the entire time Russell Wilson has been in the league! After getting a taste of back-to-back Super Bowls, I think the more hardcore fans are now rabid animals, desperate to get back no matter the cost.

The 2021 Seahawks were a collosal disappointment, no doubt about it. We started the season 3-8, it doesn’t get a whole lot worse than that. We lost to a lot of teams we had no business losing to (the Titans, the Vikings, the Steelers, the Saints, the Football Team, the Bears). Flip half of those games and we’re at 10 wins and in the playoffs. It’s not like we were TERRIBLE though. We finished 7-10 – a record we absolutely deserved – but we’re not in such bad shape that the roster MUST be completely turned over.

I have a list of 20 Seahawks from the 2021 team. I’ve split them into three categories: young rising stars, good guys who would find regular work on other teams, and the cream of the crop established superstars. So, let’s go in that order.

Young, Rising Stars

  • Jake Curhan (RT)
  • Tre Brown (CB)

Most every year, you stumble upon at least a guy or two who comes out of nowhere to really make an impact. Tre Brown was the first one this past season. As a 4th round draft pick, I didn’t expect a whole lot – if anything – from Tre Brown, as a rookie, or really throughout his career. The odds are stacked so far against you as a Day 3 draft pick. You could argue the Seahawks have had a lot of success drafting DBs late, but you could also argue we haven’t done so since 2012 (unless you’re a big Ugo Amadi fan; he’s okay, I guess, but I wouldn’t call him a rousing success). Tre Flowers, Tedric Thompson, Michael Tyson, Tye Smith, etc. are all the Day 3 busts we’ve accumulated since the L.O.B. heyday; I think we’ve proven that we’re not capable of just throwing any ol’ draft pick out there and turning them into studs.

So, yes, Tre Brown was a breath of fresh air! He was aggressive, without being reckless. He fit into the system without giving up huge cushions of yardage pre-snap. And, most importantly, he supplanted Tre Flowers once and for all, allowing us to cut him when he finally ran out of chances to make it in this defense. Which made his injury in November that much more demoralizing, because Brown looked like he’d be a 4-year starter with this team right away. Now, he’s gotta recover from knee surgery, and who knows how long it’ll be until he returns to form, if ever? I’m still holding out hope, though not for a 2022 return.

Jake Curhan, on the other hand, looks like he’s here to stay. He was an undrafted rookie in 2021 who slipped in the draft due to medicals. Those medicals don’t project to be as serious as once thought, and it appears he’ll be able to have a long and fruitful NFL career. He was able to slide into the right tackle spot when Brandon Shell went down with injury, and he really impressed! His pass protection isn’t quite there yet, but it’s not as dire from a tackle as it is with a guard; Russ was able to work with it and get away from a lot of the pressure coming from that side. Curhan’s run blocking proved to be top notch though, so at least he does SOMETHING well! That’s more than we could say for the revolving door that’s been the right tackle spot since Breno Giacomini manned the position. Making it through his rookie season injury-free gives me even more hope as we head into 2022, when he’ll project to take a step forward in his development.

Better Than Replacement-Level Players

  • Gerald Everett (TE) *
  • Damien Lewis (G)
  • Alton Robinson (DE)
  • Poona Ford (DT)
  • Al Woods (DT) *
  • Carlos Dunlap (DE)
  • Bobby Wagner (LB)
  • Sidney Jones (CB) *
  • D.J. Reed (CB) *
  • Rasheem Green (DE) *

I didn’t put these in any particular order, but if I’m being honest, D.J. Reed was the one I was most on the fence about; he might be an elite player, I’d just like to see more than 2 interceptions a year out of an elite corner.

These are all guys who aren’t quite studs, but if we cut them (or they’re free agents, which is what the * represents), I would expect all of these guys to find jobs on other teams. Anyone I didn’t list here, or in the upcoming elite category, are guys who may or may not find work elsewhere, but don’t have a ton of value to an NFL team outside of depth.

These guys, however, are productive enough, but I could probably take ’em or leave ’em. They all have flaws. Everett is a weird headcase who cost us too many yards in stupid fucking penalties (not to mention all the drops). Lewis has run into a string of injuries and doesn’t feel quite as irreplaceable as he was as a promising rookie. Robinson just didn’t take that next step in his second year, finishing with a disappointing number of sacks. Poona and Woods are run-stuffing tackles, there’s a ceiling for what those guys are (and it’s in this category). Dunlap has only showed up for half-a-season in each of his two years here. Wagner’s just flat out lost a step and doesn’t make the same number of impact plays as he did as a young buck. Jones and Reed need to generate more turnovers. And Green is taking his sweet-ass time to really bust out as a force in this league.

Elite Seahawks Studs

  • Russell Wilson (QB)
  • Rashaad Penny (RB) *
  • D.K. Metcalf (WR)
  • Tyler Lockett (WR)
  • Darrell Taylor (LB/DE)
  • Jordyn Brooks (LB)
  • Jamal Adams (S)
  • Quandre Diggs (S) *

Again, no particular order, but Brooks is the one I was most on the fence about. He might just be another guy. But, he led the team in tackles in his second season (his first as a starter), and all the smart football wonks have been praising his play since he started getting in there. There haven’t been a ton of impact plays, but he’s making all the regular ones, and he’s another guy who should continue to improve over the next year or two.

Diggs and Penny both feel like guys who need to be re-signed. It’s tantalizing to envision a scenario where Penny can stay healthy and dominate the league (I’ll be FASCINATED to see where he goes on fantasy football draft boards heading into next year).

Seeing the offensive players on this list, it’s all the more frustrating that we weren’t able to move the football and score as much as we’d like. So many NFL teams would KILL for the type of talent we have at the skill positions. Let’s hope – if things do carry over into 2022 – that it was just an adjustment period to the new offensive coordinator, and we’re now over the hump.

As for the defense, those were some nice players for us (particularly encouraging to see Taylor here, considering this was his first full year, after being injured his entire rookie season), but in order for Taylor to remain on this list, he’s going to have to really turn it up in 2022, and be a kind of Von Miller-like talent off the edge. The Seahawks have been in dire need of that kind of pass rushing monster for years now; if they don’t get it this offseason, then I’d expect more of the same middling finishes for years to come.

We’re not bereft of talent, but obviously you’d like to see more than 8 players in that elite category. I don’t know what it’s going to take to get there, but that feels like a tall ask to do in one offseason.

Seahawks Death Week: How Close Are We To A Turnaround?

Yesterday, we talked about all the pending cuts and free agents who might walk. Now, let’s see what needs to be done to right the ship.

It would be the peak of unsatisfying insanity if the Seahawks chalked up 2021 to an injured Russell Wilson fluke and tried to run back the exact same roster (more or less; it’ll never be 100% retention), in hopes of returning to our 2020 level of success. As we saw – in 2020 – that level of success was still underwhelming, in spite of the division title. Knowing how much money the Seahawks have in salary cap room heading into 2022, it’s conceivable that we could keep all the guys under contract now, while using that money to bring back Quandre Diggs, Duane Brown, D.J. Reed, Sidney Jones, Rasheem Green, Al Woods, Gerald Everett, Rashaad Penny, Ethan Pocic, and Will Dissly. But, what’s that going to get us? The ceiling is 2020, the floor is 2021 (or worse, if Wilson leaves and we’re stuck with a replacement-level quarterback).

But that is, technically, one option. Run it back for a third year in a row, and see if we can luck our way in one-score games into another divisional title. That option has the possibility of a turnaround from 2021, though that seems unlikely to me. Both that it happens at all, and that it leads to improvement. Stagnancy begets stagnancy.

As you’ll recall, the Seahawks punted the 2021 NFL Draft, making only three selections, by far the fewest in the Pete Carroll/John Schnedier Era, and easily the fewest in franchise history. This had everything to do with trading away so many of those draft picks for veteran players. We’re in a similar boat in 2022 – most aggravatingly missing our 10th overall pick in the first round – but we do have six picks on the books so far. Our first pick is the 10th overall in the second round, which SHOULD net us a player who can contribute right away, but we’ll see (regardless, he probably won’t be a high impact player as a rookie, if ever).

The point is, in spite of our poor 2021 performance, I wouldn’t expect a ton of help to come from the 2022 draft. Figure it’ll be more depth pieces to throw onto the pile we already have.

I suppose trades are a possibility, but if we’re not talking about trading Russell Wilson, I don’t see where we have anything anyone else would want. So help me if we continue trading future first round picks, banking on being good again next season.

There simply has to be a hugely impactful free agent or two that comes in, if we want to turn this thing around.

Priority #1 – Left Tackle

I won’t take Duane Brown or Stone Forsythe for an answer. We squeezed all we could out of Brown this late into his career, but it would be damn near criminal to keep bringing him back on one-year contracts without a viable backup plan in place. But, we also can’t count on the 2021 rookie to step in there, when he looked pretty bad in the limited duty he got this past season (and was already a pretty low-rated draft pick). There has to be someone on the free agent market that we can bring in on a long-term deal. I don’t know who it is, but I know he’s out there. Find him.

Priority #2 – Draft A Middle Linebacker

Get the top guy available at Pick 42, bingo bango bongo. Ideally, he’s someone fast and smart that you can pair with Jordyn Brooks and let them both go off for the next however many years (similarly to how K.J. Wright and Bobby Wagner were once the two young studs in the middle). If the rookie needs some time, then by all means, go with Cody Barton for a few games until the rookie gets his feet wet. But, this needs to be the move 100%, with Bobby Wagner’s salary going elsewhere.

Priority #3 – Pass Rush

Either sign one guy at near top of the market prices, or sign two guys for mid-level money, but either way we need to stop dumpster diving this critical part of the team. Then, we can base our cuts around the guys we bring in (Benson Mayowa can probably go, hopefully we can find someone younger and better to also replace Carlos Dunlap, since he’s incapable of giving us a full season’s worth of production).

Priority #4 – Secondary

IF the Seahawks cut Wagner and bring in a rookie middle linebacker to take over, then I think I’m comfortable using that money to extend Quandre Diggs. There might also be some semblance of a discount at play given his leg injury, though I kind of doubt it. The more you read about Diggs, the more it seems like he’s truly indispensable to this team with his play and leadership. I would also throw money at both D.J. Reed and Sidney Jones; let’s run the entire secondary back! I liked Tre Brown as much as the next guy, but we don’t know how he’s going to recover from his injury. 2022 might be a lost year for him. It would be nice to have Reed on a long-term deal and Jones on a shorter-term deal to carry us over.

Priority #5 – Draft A Running Back

I would make this the third round pick (ideally) or one of the fourth rounders. There will still be quality running backs at that level. This will be our Chris Carson replacement. I’m going into this year assuming we’ll find a way to bring Rashaad Penny back (because his final five games of 2021 were too enticing to just let walk for nothing), but it would be idiotic to expect him to all of a sudden be an every-down, every-game running back. I want a rookie with a higher ceiling than either Homer or Dallas. He doesn’t necessarily have to be the best blocker in college, nor does he have to be a return man of some sort. He just needs to have incredible running back skills, vision, ability to hit the hole and make cuts, break tackles, all of it. Let him develop into a pass catcher or a blocker when he gets into the NFL. Ideally, Penny will continue to be amazing and we won’t need the rookie. But, if and when Penny gets injured, throw the rookie in there, because hopefully by that point he’s had a chance to learn and grow from the bench.

Priority #6 – Draft A Tight End

Make this one of the fourth rounders. I’m assuming the Seahawks make a play on bringing back Will Dissly for a few more years, and making Colby Parkinson more of an offensive priority. He was starting to see more action towards the end of the season, especially down around the red zone; I think his role will only continue to grow given his size. With Dissly back, we can afford to go grab another offensive weapon in the fourth round, to make this room entirely young and homegrown.

Priority #7 – Extend D.K. Metcalf

The Seahawks are at a crossroads here. If Wilson forces his way out, then I think the Seahawks would be dumb to not trade Metcalf when his value is at its highest (he still has one year left on his rookie deal; after that, he’ll be too costly to be valuable). But, if Wilson stays, then I think we have to extend Metcalf now, both to keep him happy and to keep his next contract relatively cost-contained. We don’t want to play the Franchise Tag game with him.

Priority #8 – Bring In A Rookie Kicker

I’m not saying draft one, but definitely bring in a college guy – maybe one of those studs from the Alabama/Georgia game – as an undrafted rookie to compete with Jason Myers. Myers is on the final year of his deal in 2022. I don’t know if cutting him is the answer; he was so good in 2020, I’m more inclined to think his struggles in 2021 were just random kicker variance. But, you also shouldn’t take any chances that I’m correct on this issue. Bring in someone to compete; we’ll get to see how Myers handles that kind of adversity. Either the rookie struggles and we keep Myers anyway (the likeliest scenario, unless we’re really up against it with the salary cap and need to save $4 million), or the rookie is good but Myers is better (and we find a way to keep the rookie on the practice squad until a time comes when we can no longer trust Myers), or the rookie out-performs Myers and it’s win-win when we cut Myers before the regular season starts.

Priority #9 – Center

I don’t know if this is done through the draft or free agency, or by converting one of the guards we’ve got on our roster now, but I think this needs to happen. Maybe, if it’s a rookie, we sign Pocic to a one-year deal and let the rookie learn. Or, maybe we go with a veteran and stop fucking around for once. But, I’d like some real beef at center, to help us keep our quarterback upright.

Priority #10 – Bring Back Al Woods

I’ll be honest, I loved everything the defensive tackle room did this year, but especially Al Woods being a huge presence in the middle. That dude deserves some stability; give him a 2-year deal and let’s fucking go!

Seahawks Death Week: Who Might Be Leaving In 2022?

Around this time of year, I like to peruse Spotrac to see what the salary cap looks like for the next season. Take the accuracy with a grain of salt, of course; football wonks tend to prefer other sources for their salary cap info. Kill me, I like Spotrac.

Heading into 2022, they say we have around $53 million to play around with, minus money to be held onto for additional dead cap, practice squad, IR replacements, etc. I don’t want to get in the weeds here; $53 million sounds pretty good to me for a team that could also save over $16 million by cutting Bobby Wagner, and another $11 million if Russell Wilson forces a trade.

Those are, obviously, the two biggest questions heading into this offseason. Much has been made of Wilson and his will he/won’t he demand a trade; sadly, we’re going to be talking about this all damn year. And, if he happens to stay, then we’re going to be talking about him all damn year NEXT year when it comes to another contract extension. Ye gods. But, Bobby is much more interesting to me. I don’t think there’s any question that he’s lost a step compared to his peak. He makes fewer real impact plays, but he’s as smart and steady as they come, and the unquestioned leader on this defense (if not the entire team). It’s not that he’s bad, it’s just that he’s drastically overpaid. You could find a replacement in the draft, or on the scrap heap, and get at least 80% of his production for pennies on the Wagner Dollar. That’s almost certainly money that could be better used elsewhere on the defense.

For the life of me, I can’t see this organization cutting him cold turkey, not with Pete and John in the spots they’re in. Assuming they stay, I think Bobby stays. Now, it’s more likely the team comes to him and works out another extension at a lower overall value – knowing that he’s not going to get anything NEAR what he’s making now on the open market – in hopes that he’ll retire a Seahawk, but that puts the ball in his court: will he take a reasonable cut in salary (and still probably be overpaid to some degree) or will he walk and try to find more money elsewhere?

I’ll be very VERY disappointed if he’s still a $20+ million cap hit in 2022, let’s put it that way.

Moving on, there are some big Seahawks names who were on the final year of their deals in 2021! The biggest being Duane Brown and Quandre Diggs. I’m pretty happy to see us get out from under Duane Brown at this point. I suppose it’s possible he re-signs after testing the market and finding it lacking, but at some point we have to think about his replacement. Maybe there’s a better free agent ready to hit the market we could bring in on a long-term deal! Considering we have no first round draft pick, that seems to be our best hope for 2022 and beyond. As for Diggs, I’ve talked about him a lot this year: he’s one of the best free safeties in football and he’s going to want to be paid as such (even with his current injury; he should make a full recovery no problem). Considering we have Adams at one of the highest numbers for a safety as well, to bring him back would mean pouring a crazy amount of money into the safety position. Seems like bad team-building.

More offensive players who could be moving on include Ethan Pocic, Gerald Everett, Brandon Shell, and Rashaad Penny. All of them are fine, but I don’t think any of them would be missed. There should be better center options available, who won’t be injured all the time like Pocic. Everett was good this year, but is he worth $6+ million? I dunno. I think we’ve already found our replacement for Shell in Jake Curhan, so no big loss there. And, as mentioned before, I’d be okay with Penny returning on an incentive-laden deal, but we also need to bring in running backs who will stay reasonably healthy!

On the defensive side, D.J. Reed and Sidney Jones were both quality cornerbacks for us. Certainly leaps and bounds better than Tre Flowers, even if they’re not bona fide superstars. Without them, the only cornerbacks of note on the roster in 2022 are Ugo Amadi (a nickel guy) and Tre Brown (who suffered a serious, season-ending injury as a rookie this year). Reed is the priority over Jones, but I wouldn’t mind having both of them return (that, again, becomes more difficult if you’re paying Diggs and Adams top-of-the-market safety money).

Along the D-Line, we’re looking at losing Rasheem Green and Al Woods. There’s also the question of keeping guys like Carlos Dunlap, Benson Mayowa, Kerry Hyder, and L.J. Collier (who will all be free agents after the 2022 season, but could all be cut for salary cap relief beforehand). You even have to worry about Poona Ford (also a free agent after 2022), since his cap hit is so high; remember the team tried to re-work Jarran Reed’s deal before cutting him when he refused. The only linemen who feel even remotely safe for 2022 are Darrell Taylor (technically a linebacker/defensive end hybrid), Alton Robinson, and Bryan Mone (a restricted free agent who almost certainly will be retained). I can’t envision a scenario where the Seahawks totally and completely clean house, so I have to believe some of the guys on the final years of their deal in 2022 will stick around, at least to compete in Training Camp. I also believe they’d love to bring back Woods on another 1-2 year deal, since he was such a force in 2021. Green is a big question mark, but he’s still pretty young and you’d like to believe he could be had at a reasonable cost. It might be nice to give him another year or two and see if he can put it all together; at the very least, it should be a low-risk gamble.

Some miscellaneous pending free agents include Will Dissly, Alex Collins, Jamarco Jones, and Geno Smith. I don’t know if any of them will be missed, though I have to believe Dissly will be something of a priority, considering he does so much blocking for us (and therefore, between that and his injury history, should be a relatively cheap re-sign).

The only other significant player I see still under contract for 2022 that could possibly be cut is Chris Carson. Given the fact that he needed season-ending neck surgery this year, it seems unlikely that he’ll ever play meaningful football again. I know they talked about it possibly not being career-ending, but let’s be real: he’s one bad hit away from it all being over. I don’t see any responsible way we can bring him back, especially if we opt to re-sign Penny as well. One of those two guys has to go, and in their place, we need to draft a running back of the future. Someone who’s tougher than DeeJay Dallas, but faster and more explosive than Travis Homer (neither of whom – without significant physique changes – are considered to be every-down backs). At this point, even though we don’t save a ton of money cutting Carson, I’d still choose Penny over him (although, the smartest move might be to let both of them go and just hand the keys over to an up-and-coming rookie).

What we’re looking at, of course, is a lot of holes on this roster to fill, with potentially even more on the horizon than we anticipated (not counting the possible loss of Carroll or Schneider). So, tomorrow, let’s look at those holes, and how close we are to a potential turnaround.

Leaving The Seahawks For Dead

I know the Seahawks aren’t officially eliminated from playoff contention yet, but it’s only a matter of time. The writing has been on the wall since the second week of the season, but when you melt down like the Seahawks melted down yesterday, there’s no coming back. Even if the Seahawks did manage to run the table, what would be the point? To stick it to the Jets? Haven’t they suffered enough?

The Arizona Cardinals went into this game with no DeAndre Hopkins; we knew that well ahead of time. They also went into this game with no Kyler Murray; we heard about this either the night before or the morning of. Colt McCoy got the start, and much like last year – when he came into Seattle as a member of the New York Football Giants and somehow emerged victorious – he once again decimated our season. If you’ll recall, at season’s end we were one game out of the top spot in the NFC; had we beaten the Giants, we would’ve been in a vastly superior position over merely hosting in the wild card round and losing at home to the Rams.

This year, Colt McCoy & Co. dropped us to 3-7. It’s like when Travis Coates shot a rabid Old Yeller out behind the barn, but if Old Yeller was a dick to everyone the entire movie. No one is mourning the death of this Seahawks season; this team hasn’t been fun to watch for years, and this is the LEAST-fun version of all of these mediocre Seahawks teams.

You know whose schtick gets really old and tired when he’s not pulling games out of his ass and carrying the team on his back? Russell Wilson. I’m ready for him to go somewhere else. It’s clear he doesn’t give a shit and doesn’t want to be here.

All the old, dead weight needs to be dropped as well. That means getting rid of Chris Carson, Alex Collins, and Rashaad Penny. Carson is already out for the year with an upcoming neck surgery, and has probably played his final down of football (because the last thing anyone wants to do is take a chance on permanently injuring their neck, especially when they play a position that gets hit as often as running back does). Trash-aad Penny had an opening run of 18 yards, immediately got injured, had a run of 1 yard in the second half, and never returned. He had the highest health grade of all running backs the year he was drafted.

Duane Brown sure looks like he’s done! I’m glad we didn’t bother to extend him. Gabe Jackson sure looks like a waste of money! I saw him fuck up on two critical plays where he couldn’t handle a simple defensive stunt; that’s all I need to see. The center position has been a continuous wasteland ever since we traded away Max Unger. And, the worst player I saw yesterday was Brandon Shell, who got repeatedly abused by Chandler Jones.

It’s hard to get too mad at the defense, as I thought they did their jobs for the most part. But, they couldn’t do anything when it mattered most (7 minutes left in the game, the Seahawks just scored to pull it to within 3 points; Arizona promptly drove 67 yards for a TD, taking 4:45 off the clock) and there are any number of guys who are overpaid and not performing to market rates.

I can’t wait to have most of these veterans out of my life, but there’s one thing I haven’t mentioned yet.

If we’re talking about doing a full tear-down and rebuild, you can’t ignore the coaching staff and front office. Since I referenced schtick getting old, I might as well talk about Pete Carroll here. Conventional wisdom indicates when you find a franchise quarterback, you do whatever it takes to make him happy and keep him for as long as his prime will last. Between that, and Carroll’s advanced age, it was fair to wonder if he wanted to endure another rebuild. But, at this point, I don’t think he has a choice. And in fact, I think the choice will be made for him as soon as the final game ends and Russell Wilson hands the team his updated list of teams he’ll accept a trade to. So, the next question to ask is: does Pete Carroll want to return? And, if so, will the team decide to keep him?

I’ll save the conversation around whether the team SHOULD bring him back or not for another time. Seeing how this team devolved over the last half decade, I think it’s fair for a lot of Seahawks fans to want a change from the top on down. But, Pete Carroll helped engineer the greatest rebuild in team history a decade ago; part of me is curious to see if he can do it again. Or, rather, what he would do this time around (because it’s unfair to expect him to helm a rebuild as epic as the last one).

The downside of keeping Carroll is we’re almost certainly going to keep the coaching staff around him. That means Ken Norton wouldn’t be going anywhere, even though he’s inept at his job. And, that means Shane Waldron getting another crack at it. A blind chimp should be able to take the talent we have with Russell Wilson at quarterback and average more than 19 points on offense. I think our initial suspicions were correct when we saw the Seahawks hire someone who had – time and time again – been passed over for promotions, by both his own team and the other teams who were looking to poach from the Rams.

Then, there’s John Schneider. He’s a guy who hasn’t had a quality draft since 2012. He’s a guy who has bungled a high percentage of high-profile trades. He’s punted on most first rounds of the draft, and when he hasn’t, he’s still failed spectacularly. I don’t know how you defend the guy anymore. Other teams win a lot, get saddled with lower draft picks, and still manage to find quality players to incorporate into their systems. Other teams don’t go through these endless periods where their fucking offensive line can’t block for shit.

I don’t know. Normally, when things get this bad, I take solace in looking forward to what changes can be made to improve things, but as I’ve mentioned nonstop, there’s nothing to look forward to with this team. The Jets own our first round pick (at this point, it’s the fifth overall pick … sigh). For some reason, we got back the Jets’ fourth rounder, but we traded away our sixth rounder to the Jags for Sidney Jones. We’ve managed to save a little bit of money, but who knows if there’s some panic deal to be made in free agency in the coming weeks. Nevertheless, that money appears to be earmarked to go towards future dead money (with all of the monkeying around with contracts this year, combined with the dead money from shedding this team of its underperforming veterans), but regardless it’s not like this team has problems free agency can solve.

This team needs to bottom out, and that’s what’s so miserable about being in this position: we’re 3-7, we have the fifth-worst record in the entire NFL, and we haven’t even reached rock bottom yet! It’s not like we’re going to magically improve with Russell Wilson gone next year and this team immersed in a full rebuild. Indeed, we’re probably going to contend for the worst overall record in that scenario, so we have another full year of this to look forward to, at least!

This feels like the early 90’s all over again. Buckle up, because it’s going to be a turbulent bandwagon for the foreseeable future.

The Uninformed Seahawks Fan Writes About A Game He Didn’t Watch

You know what I was doing last weekend? I was in Leavenworth, Washington, having just a delightful little two-day get-away. You know what I wasn’t doing? Watching the Mariners fritter away their post-season chances, watching the Huskies blow it against the Beavers, and watching the Seahawks start out their game against the 49ers with FIVE STRAIGHT 3 & Outs.

This is how Seattle sports were meant to be enjoyed: from a distance, and largely sight-unseen.

I was able to spare myself the agita of all this turmoil. I’m sure I prevented numerous blood pressure spikes. Hell, maybe I even staved off a stroke or a heart attack; I could be saving my own life by ignoring what happens on the Seattle sports scene!

Of course, the downside is that I missed what turned out to be a nifty little comeback victory for the Seahawks. I missed getting to see our defense step up in a major way, holding the 49ers to 7 first half points, while generating two turnovers and forcing six punts on the day. I missed our offense mounting three impressive touchdown drives and taking advantage of a turnover for a fourth TD on the day. I missed a Seahawks divisional road victory against a hated rival.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy with the trade-off, because I can imagine how stressful that game was for a lot of people, and how stressful it would’ve been for me.

It strikes me that this Seahawks offense with Russell Wilson is never going to work properly if we’re not running the ball effectively. That’s not a new concept; we hear this all the time from Pete Carroll. Fans roll their eyes, statheads piss and moan, but if you noticed all the 3 & Outs to start the game, then you can understand. That doesn’t mean running just to run, or running into a brick wall of a stacked box. Running effectively means the linemen still need to do their jobs, and it means Wilson is checking into running plays at appropriate times. The offense was pretty pass-happy on those first five drives, with lots of attempts to receivers near the line of scrimmage. But, those plays failed – leaving us in 3rd & Medium-to-Long situations – and the 49ers’ front was able to tee off on us. All three of their sacks took place in this stretch. Then, the Seahawks figured out how to run the ball, and things started to shift.

Wilson ended up having a quietly effective game, throwing for 149 yards and 2 touchdowns, while running for a third. Alex Collins had a big day off the bench with 44 rushing yards on 10 carries (with a TD), and 2 receptions for 34 yards (including our first 1st Down of the day).

This game was notable for Trey Lance getting the first extended play of his young career, taking over for Jimmy G at halftime (allegedly due to an injury). I’m told he looked just okay, but that’s probably to be expected. He still put up some pretty decent numbers (157 passing yards on an 8.7 yards-per-attempt average, with 2 TDs; as well as 41 rushing yards on 7 attempts). Sight unseen, I’m definitely more afraid of Lance long-term than I am of Jimmy G – who mounted a TD drive on their first possession of the game, then didn’t do much else beyond that – but it sounds like Jimmy G will get another crack at holding down the starting job next week.

On the defensive side of the ball, we got to see Sidney Jones take over for Tre Flowers, which is exciting! Other than a long TD he gave up, it sounds like he was much stickier than Flowers in coverage. As a whole, it sounds like the secondary played much better, which is nice to hear. Darrell Taylor got another sack, and Jordyn Brooks got his first.

I fully expected the Seahawks to buck the odds and prevail in this one, so I wasn’t totally surprised to see the end result. I don’t think this means things are fixed, or that we don’t have to worry anymore. This is just the Seahawks being Seahawks: not too bad, but also not too great.

We get a short week with the Thursday game coming up. Pray for our guys playing through injuries – especially D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett – because it’s usually during these Thursday games where those players go down for the season. The last thing this offense needs is to lose one of their studs. Especially with that turncoat Josh Gordon going to the Chiefs (as if THEY need any more offensive weapons).

Seahawks Position Breakdown 2021: Cornerbacks

This feels like a timely position group to talk about, considering the recent moves.

Let’s start with the trade for Sidney Jones. We sent Jacksonville a sixth round pick for him, so you’d expect he’ll have every opportunity to start. Jones, of course, was a standout with the University of Washington, and might’ve even been a first round pick if it weren’t for an injury that led him to slide to the second round. That felt like a steal for the Eagles at the time, but unfortunately the injury bug has followed him into the NFL. All these injuries seem to have stunted his NFL development to the point where he’s really just been a fringe starter at best. The Eagles waived him after the 2019 season and he played last year in Jacksonville before coming here.

I’d like to say that all he needs to do is stay healthy and he’ll be an effective player for us, but I can’t make that guarantee. Even if he’s 100%, I don’t know if he’s necessarily any better than anyone else we’ve got on the roster. Besides, who knows if he’s a fit for our scheme and the way we like our cornerbacks to play defense? It’s a nice low-risk gamble on a guy with a good amount of talent, but I’m not getting my hopes up that it’ll pay off like gangbusters.

Which is a shame, because the Seahawks really needed the front office to make a splash at this spot. It feels like we’re an elite cornerback away from being a Top 5 defense. Unfortunately, the difference is quite significant, as I can see this as – at best – a Top 15 unit. I’m expecting lots of soft coverage, lots of first downs by opponents, more deep completions than we’re used to seeing given up, and a complete and utter lack of turnovers generated. Hopefully our run defense can step it up and be an impact-maker, and hopefully we get enough timely sacks to help us win a lot more than we lose. But, without that lockdown corner, I just don’t see us being able to make the stops necessary in the playoffs to get to the Super Bowl.

There’s lots of nice second- and third-tier cornerbacks on this roster, though. Starting with D.J. Reed, who isn’t a lockdown corner, but is the next tier down. He’s been injured all pre-season, of course, so that’s a concern. Next man down the ladder is probably Sidney Jones, who I’ve talked about. Then, there’s Ugo Amadi, who is a nice nickel/slot corner. Between him and Marquise Blair (both listed as safeties), we’ve got a couple of nice specialist coverage men who can get the little guys and big guys, respectively.

It gets dicey from there. Ahkello Witherspoon was a moderate free agent signing this past offseason from the 49ers. He disappointed in San Francisco throughout his career, until the back-half of this past season, and now we’re supposed to believe he’s fixed all of his problems? By many accounts, he’s looked like nothing special in training camp and pre-season. He’s been competing with Tre Flowers, who still isn’t guaranteed a spot on this team – even though he made the initial 53-man roster – because he has zero guaranteed dollars in the final year of his deal. Many fans and beat writers alike were surprised to see him even make the 53-man! We all know what Tre Flowers is, and based on what we’ve seen in the pre-season, we know that nothing has changed. He’s serviceable; which means he’s far from great.

The last one left is Tre Brown, who is one of our three rookie draft picks this year. I’ve heard both good and bad things about him in practice, which puts him in line with most every rookie ever.

I don’t think the plan was to intentionally skimp on the cornerback spot, but clearly more resources were poured into the safety, linebacker, and defensive line spots. The default thinking from there is: if we can harass the opposing quarterback enough, then the cornerbacks won’t have to work as hard (especially if we can do enough of that harassing with our base four linemen). The problem with that is, even when we blitz, there are going to be times where the protection holds up. And, I fear those’ll be the times when opposing offenses hit us for big plays in our swiss cheese secondary.

I think this unit tops out at a B-, and bottoms out at a D+. The Glass Half Full thinker might believe D.J. Reed IS a shutdown corner, and Jones or Witherspoon continue to take steps in the right direction. Cornerback will always be a liability, but maybe it can be a limited one.

The Glass Half Empty thinker might worry that the top-end depth in this unit gets injured, and bemoan the fact that we didn’t go after Stephon Gilmore in a trade. That’s the type of Go For It attitude this team needs to really put it over the top. The Rams did something similar with Jalen Ramsey, and they’re all the better for it.

UPDATE 9/3/2021: My how the tables have turned! Tre Flowers went from looking like he might get cut to being the starter opposite D.J. Reed. Meanwhile, Witherspoon was traded to the Steelers for a 2023 5th round pick (they’re likelier to be worse in 2022 than they’ll be in 2021, so I like that we pushed it a year), and it sounds like the Seahawks still aren’t done making moves. I’m disappointed that I did the Cornerbacks post so early, with so much yet to come in the next few days.

Looking Ahead To The Washington Huskies’ 2017 Football Schedule

The 2014 Huskies were largely a Sark-based team in Coach Pete’s first season; we enjoyed a Sark-esque record when all was said and done.  The 2015 Huskies were a real transition team, as more of Coach Pete’s players got on the field and the team as a whole became further acclimated to his way of doing things.  In a lot of ways, 2015 looked like a bit of a step back, but it was entirely necessary to get the program to where it was in 2016, which was a huge step forward.

I can’t say enough good things about the 2016 Huskies, it was the most fun I’ve had following this team since 2000, and was almost certainly the best Husky team I’ve ever seen (keeping in mind that I was never a fan of the university during the Don James glory years).  The 2016 Huskies were truly one of the best four football teams of the year and were rewarded as such with an invite to the College Football Playoff.  Sadly, we were turned away by the buzzsaw that was the Alabama Crimson Tide, which only goes to reinforce the fact that we need to build up this program to become that type of buzzsaw.

So, what do we have to look forward to in 2017?  Will the Huskies become that buzzsaw?  Probably a little early in the process to say yes, but I think more than anything you just want to see them continue to take steps forward.

You can look at what we lost and have sort of a Glass Half Empty outlook.  John Ross was drafted 9th overall.  Sure, we’ve still got Dante Pettis, who looks ready to ascend to the #1 receiver spot on this team, but he’s no John Ross.  That’s no knock against him, necessarily, because NOBODY is John Ross.  That kind of speed is once in a generation.  When you tack on Ross’ route running, versatility, and ability to make a catch in traffic, he was really the total package and may be the best receiver we’ve ever had in the program.  So, you can look at the wide receiver position and say, “Yeah, there’s a decline there compared to last year.”

Then, obviously, you’ve got Kevin King, Budda Baker, and Sidney Jones all snapped up before the end of the second round.  Our two starting cornerbacks and our starting safety, gone.  I know the Huskies recruited the secondary pretty well, with lots of highly-rated guys set to step into starting roles, but we just won’t know how good those players are until we see them in game action.

Go on and on down the list of guys we graduated.  Just a ton of talent walking out the door.  In many ways, 2017 will be yet another transitional season.  But, obviously different from how 2015 was a transitional year.  This isn’t going from one head coach to another; this is essentially an evaluation of Coach Pete’s ability to constantly refurbish the depth of this team on the fly.  Guys are going to graduate, guys are going to leave for the NFL after their Junior years; the mark of a truly great head coach is how he’s able to recruit guys who can jump in there and replace those former starters.  I’m talking about recruiting Freshmen who are good enough to play right away, as well as guys who grow into starting-calibre players within a year or two at the most.  It’s about always having the next wave of superstars champing at the bit.  It’s about allowing the linemen and other undersized guys to grow and mature in the program so eventually they can be impact players.  And so on and so forth.

Coach Sark and his team of recruiters were able to land some real whales for this school, but I don’t know if they were on the same level as Coach Pete and Co.  Sark seemed to be more interested in recruiting the glamour positions; Coach Pete seems to be more interested in building up all positions, eliminating as many weaknesses as possible.

In that respect, yes, the 2017 Huskies might have fewer studs than they did in 2016, but it’s entirely possible that the overall quality of the team is improved, from 1 to 90, or however many players you’re allowed to have in college.

All of this comes with the caveat that injury luck is always the most important factor with any sports team.

The offensive line should be a real strength for the Huskies, more than any other year I can remember.  The Huskies return the most experienced line in the conference, which should help our stud running backs – Coleman and Gaskin, among many of the younger guys looking to make names for themselves – as well as, obviously, our quarterback.

If there’s a questionmark, it’s Jake Browning.  Is he healthy?  Will he BE healthy when the season starts?  I’ll never question his ability to study and work on his craft, but given his relative lack of size, can he STAY healthy for the long haul?  He’s obviously a tough kid, playing on a shoulder that required surgery, but I don’t know if he’ll grow into a Heisman contender if he can’t stay on the field and at close to 100%.

If Browning isn’t healthy, how good are the guys behind him?  The Huskies have recruited some pretty highly-rated quarterbacks recently, but are they too raw to step in this early into their careers?  Will our season be totally derailed if Browning is limited?

Wide receiver is the position I’m most excited about.  Obviously, I love Pettis and Chico McClatcher.  But, I’ve also been hearing rumblings about some of these receivers who haven’t had a lot of playing time thus far.  Recent recruits ready to make their marks.  Should be interesting; hope they’ll get a lot of time to work with Browning on their timing and whatnot.

Along the D-Line, in spite of the loss of Elijah Qualls, there is still a significant amount of returning talent.  Indeed, this unit should prove to be the strongest of the entire defense, and will likely have to get home with even more regularity than they did in 2016 (which they did at a pretty high clip) to help compensate for potential challenges in the back end.

Taylor Rapp, at safety, figures to be a force, and maybe the defensive MVP in 2017.  We’ll need him to make that next step to superstar status if we want to maintain our defensive dominance in the Pac-12.  He looked every bit as good as anyone I’ve seen towards the end of last season, so I’m pretty confident he’ll get the job done.

Bottom line is, the 2017 Huskies will be very good.  Where they end up will largely depend on the schedule they play.

Last year, the Huskies were continuously killed for their weak schedule.  It was the primary reason why people felt they had legitimate arguments against them making the College Football Playoff.  I never bought into that, and if you’re like me – and wanted to throw your remote through the television every time some national pundit knocked the Huskies for this – GET READY FOR MORE OF THE SAME.  Because, holy Jesus, does the 2017 schedule look like the creamiest cream puff wrapped in a cloud of cotton candy.

For the second year in a row, we kick off our season against Rutgers.  It was a Home & Home series that was scheduled way back when Rutgers had a good football team, and you can’t very well just chop them off the schedule without facing a huge penalty.  So, here we are.  This time, on the road, which I suppose makes the game marginally more difficult, but my guess is Rutgers is once again going to be one of the worst teams in the Big 10.

The Huskies round out their non-conference schedule with home games against Montana (an FBS school) and Fresno State (who had all of 1 win in 2016).  The Huskies could sit Browning for all three of those games and still easily walk away 3-0.

Every year, every Pac-12 school plays 9 conference games.  I don’t know if this still sets us apart or not (I believe the SEC only plays 8 conference games, but they might be moving up to 9 or at least talking about it), but I think it’s a great argument when it comes to comparing our schools to those conferences who play 8 or less.  I mean, let’s face it, every conference has their duds.  And you can talk about Washington’s weak non-conference schedule all you want, but every power school schedules their share of powderpuffs.  Regardless of how good or bad your in-conference opponent is, it’s still an in-conference opponent, and those games are more difficult and ultimately mean more.

Anyway, this year, the Huskies catch 5 home conference games and 4 road conference games (it alternates every year).  Their conference schedule kicks off with 2 road games, though – at Colorado and at Oregon State – which means we get 5 of our final 7 games at home.  Colorado should be a lot worse than they were last year, as the 2016 Buffaloes were very senior-heavy, and I highly doubt they recruit nearly as well as we do, so I can’t imagine the guys they’ve got coming up through the ranks are going to be as good as the guys they had last year.  Oregon State is still in rebuilding mode (as they are seemingly every year), so I can’t imagine it’ll take much of an effort to get to 5-0 with this schedule.

Then, there’s a home game against Cal, who is working in a new head coach and ostensibly a new offensive system, so I can’t imagine that’s going to be a very close game.  We follow that up with a road game against ASU, who I’m pretty sure we haven’t beaten on their home turf in over a decade.  They were pretty sorry last year, and figure to be better this year; this could be a sneaky-tough game for the Huskies (who will have played 3 of 4 on the road when they’re finished with this one).  I could see the Huskies winning this one in ugly fashion to get to 7-0.

That leads us to the real heart of the 2017 schedule.  This year, we avoid USC and Arizona.  By all accounts, USC is poised to be the top ranked Pac-12 team, at least going into the season.  They might have the next #1 overall draft pick at the quarterback position in Sam Darnold, which is moderately terrifying.  Obviously, that means even our conference schedule sees a huge downgrade in the eyes of the national pundits, by virtue of not playing the so-called best team in the Pac-12.  And, say what you want about Arizona, but they’ve notoriously been a tricky team for us to play most years, and they return one of the more experienced offensive lines to boot.  I wouldn’t be shocked to see them as a “surprise” team in the conference.

Getting back to the heart of the schedule, we follow up all those road games (and a BYE week tacked onto the end of it) with back-to-back home contests against UCLA and Oregon.  UCLA is up there with Utah among the second tier teams in the Pac-12 South.  They strike me as very much of an unknown, as they seem to recruit well every year, but ultimately produce poor results on the field.  I’m sure they’ll give the Huskies everything they can, and I’d be seriously disappointed if we lost this one.  Ditto Oregon, although they’re in something of a rebuild mode as well (albeit, starting with a much stronger base than OSU).  I just think Washington has more talent than Oregon, period.  As such, I see no reason why we won’t be 9-0 heading into what will likely be the most important game of the regular season.

At Stanford, Friday, November 10th, at 7:30pm on Fox Sports 1.  The Cardinal fell from their perch as one of the top teams in the conference last year, and they obviously lost a lot of talent to graduation/the NFL Draft, so they’ll be breaking in a lot of key positions heading into 2017.  They have a real bugger of a schedule through their own first 9 games of the season, with road games against USC, Utah, and Washington State, as well as home games against UCLA and Oregon.  So, when I call this game on November 10th the “most important”, I really mean it’s the most important to the Washington Huskies, as it’s the one true landmine in an otherwise reasonable slate of football games.

I fully anticipate Stanford to have anywhere from 1-3 losses by the time they host the Huskies, but this is also a well-coached football team, who recruits like gangbusters.  What does that mean?  Well, even if they’re not competing for a Rose Bowl berth (which, for the record, I’m not necessarily taking off the table, as it’s entirely possible they are up there fighting for the Pac-12 North yet again), this is still a team that notoriously gets better as the season goes along.  When you play Stanford, I think you’d much rather face them early in the season.  Facing them in mid-November is sort of my worst nightmare, particularly with a schedule like this, where there doesn’t appear to be many tough games leading into this one.  On paper, I think the Huskies are better than the Cardinal, but with this game being on the road, against a quality team, anything can happen.  Let’s face it, I never would’ve thought the Huskies could’ve lost at home to USC last year, and look at what happened.

There’s a very reasonable chance that the game against Stanford is our last chance to make a big positive impression on the College Football Playoff Committee.  Hell, it might be our ONLY chance, but that’s neither here nor there.  After that, we wrap up the season with home games against Utah and Washington State.  I think everyone is really sleeping on these two teams.  Utah is always tough and really makes you earn every win against them.  They could easily upset a team like USC and find themselves in the thick of things by the time they come to Seattle.  And, as for the Cougs, they’ve definitely been written off after last year, losing two bullshit games early in the season, followed by their final three games (including the Holiday Bowl).  While I agree that the Huskies very much SHOULD beat the Cougars, it’s still the Apple Cup, and weird things can always crop up.  The Cougs obviously have Falk back, and if he can stay healthy, he’ll always give them a chance to win.  And, their defense has always been underrated while over-producing under Mike Leach.  So, you know, while these last two games aren’t necessarily as flashy as the road game against Stanford, we could still be talking about a couple of ranked teams when all is said and done.

The bottom line is, this is a 12-game schedule in which the Huskies could very easily run the table.  There will obviously be challenges along the way, but I’ll just say that it wouldn’t necessarily be a shock to the system like it was last year.  Odds are, the Huskies will likely lose 1 game.  I’d say the odds are equal that they’d lose 2 games as they are to the Huskies winning them all, if that makes any sense.  1 loss SHOULD mean that the Huskies play in the Pac-12 Championship Game.  And, assuming the Huskies face the Trojans in that game, we’re looking at a game that would not only get us into the Rose Bowl, but would get us back to the College Football Playoff.

I’ll say this, just to get it out of the way:  any combination of scenarios where the Huskies finish with 1 loss, and that 1 loss is in the Pac-12 Championship Game, the Huskies absolutely will not make the College Football Playoff – even if the Pac-12 South champion has more losses, and ultimately gets passed over as well.  I’m a firm believer that the only way the Huskies are able to compensate for that schedule is if they beat an awesome team in the conference title game, a la last year.  And even then, who knows?

A lot of this depends on what happens in the other conferences.  What happens if there are two 1-loss teams in the SEC?  Or an undefeated team and a 1-loss Alabama team?  On top of whatever the Big 10 throws in there, Clemson, and the Oklahoma schools.

One thing the Huskies really have going for them is that they should start the season highly ranked.  Top 10 or Top 15 at the worst.  Now, imagine that team running the table through the regular season, then beating USC in the conference championship game!  We might get to pick where we play in the College Football Playoff!

All of that is a long way off, of course.  But, it’s still fun to think about as this baseball season drags on.  I very much need football back in my life.

A Bunch More Huskies Are In The NFL Now

I’m on record as saying the Seahawks would be fortunate to have as many Huskies on their team as possible.  I’m also on record as a huge know-nothing homer, so maybe they’re best not to listen to me.  Anyway, with the 2017 NFL Draft in our rearview, here’s a breakdown on where all of our beloved Huskies will be calling home, at least for Training Camp, if not for many years beyond.

John Ross got us started by the Cincinnati Bengals picking him 9th overall in the first round.  If the Seahawks couldn’t have him, I’m glad to see him in the AFC.  Quite frankly, too many AFC teams would drop the ball on this, forcing a lot of Huskies into direct competition with the Seahawks.  This is an awesome fit, though, for the Bengals.  He gets to play opposite A.J. Green and will open up a lot for his partner in crime by opposing defenses game-planning against his speed.  This could really further Green’s career, as he’s prone to foot injuries and will likely be slowed further due to age.  Green could become a top possession receiver with Ross blowing out coverages over the top.

No more Huskies taken until the second round, where three guys were selected with the top 11 picks on Day 2.  Kevin King went to Green Bay, two spots above where Seattle picked.  Obviously, he wasn’t a top priority for the Seahawks, otherwise they would’ve made more of an effort to pick him at 26 or again at 31 when they traded down.  It’s pretty clear, in hindsight, that the Seahawks had Malik McDowell targeted all along, and King was more of a backup pick.  I hope this doesn’t bite them in the ass, as I could easily see King being a Pro Bowl player for years to come, while McDowell feels like more of a longshot (with, admittedly, a higher upside if he reaches his full potential).

Then, to make matters worse, one pick after the Seahawks took McDowell, the Arizona Cardinals moved up to nab Budda Baker.  Great, so we get to play against Budda twice a year.  They are going to LOVE him in Arizona.  I think I’m more jealous of this pick than even the King one, as after Ross, Budda was a close second as far as my favorite Huskies are concerned.  That guy just has a nose for the ball, a nose for making a big play, and a nose for beating the shit out of guys.  What that means for his long-term health is another issue, but I wouldn’t have let that stop me from taking him high in this draft.

Then, with the 43rd overall selection, the Eagles took Sidney Jones, who had the achilles injury (and thus MIGHT start the season out on the PUP list), but figures to be a long-term lockdown corner for many years to come.  Part of me hoped he would’ve dropped a little further, with the Seahawks either landing him at 58, or packaging 58 with another pick to move up into the low 50s or high 40s, but alas, at 43, that’s probably a lot more than the Seahawks were willing to move.  Also, aside from the injury issue this year, my main concern with Jones is that he primarily played the Richard Sherman side of the field, so how would he take to playing opposite?  I’m pretty sure he would’ve been fine, but you never know.

From there, a pretty long gap without another Husky taken.  As time went on, and Friday moved into Saturday, more and more people were questioning the decision of Elijah Qualls coming out a year early.  He eventually fell all the way to pick # 214, also belonging to the Eagles.  I attribute a little bit of this to being wary after Danny Shelton really hasn’t done much of anything of impact with the Cleveland Browns since he was picked in the first round.  Either way, I think they got a great guy at a tremendous value.  He tops out as a Sam Adams type player if he can put it all together.  Either way, the Eagles didn’t risk much by using a late 6th round pick.

That’s it for the Husky draft picks.  Not too shabby, though.  Five guys, four of them on defense.  I’d expect this to be a trend going forward as Chris Petersen keeps reloading this team with top talent.

In the undrafted sector, tight end Darrell Daniels signed with the Colts.  Even without knowing their situation at tight end, he would seem like a longshot.  He’ll really, I would think, have to make his hay by improving his blocking a great deal, as I think he’s a sneaky good offensive weapon down field.

Jake Eldrenkamp, left guard who really developed into a nice interior lineman by his senior season, signed with the L.A. Rams.  He’s got good size and athleticism and it wouldn’t shock me to see him get stashed on the practice squad for them and maybe make a bigger impact in his second season, if everything breaks right.

Perhaps the biggest shock of this whole thing is Deontae Cooper, the oft-injured running back and HUGE fan favorite, who ended up transferring to San Jose State in his final season in 2016 (part Fresh Start, part being blocked out by the younger UW running backs), I guess is getting an invite to Training Camp with the Oakland Raiders?  I’m not sure, exactly, what the deal is, as news is pretty spotty.

Safety Brandon Beaver (who I totally forgot was a senior last year) is getting a shot with Budda Baker’s Arizona Cardinals, so that’ll be interesting.  Beaver had some nice impact plays last year, but obviously would be considered a pretty big longshot.

Joe Mathis, defensive end, who missed out on the back-half of his final Husky season due to a foot injury, also went undrafted, much to the chagrin of everyone who saw how impactful he was for the Dawgs.  He signed with the Houston Texans, to either be an end or an outside linebacker.  Either way, I think they’ve got a good one on their hands.  That is a STEAL, especially for a team looking for a cheap way to add some pass rush depth.  I hope he really knocks their socks off in Training Camp, because I could see him – over the rest of the undrafted Huskies – having the biggest impact right away.

What I’d Like To See The Seahawks Do In The 2017 NFL Draft

I’m not a draftnik by any means.  I don’t do mock drafts, because I don’t know enough about the vast majority of college football outside of the University of Washington, and because they’re a collosal waste of time.  I like to write about other sports when nothing’s happening in the NFL, so I don’t know what I would do if I had to write about the NFL all year round.

But, you know, some information does manage to slip through into my brain from time to time.  I have a vague, general idea of some of the best players in the draft this year and where they might end up going.  I’m also keenly aware of the Seattle Seahawks and their needs in the aftermath of the first round of the free agency signing period (the second round is between the draft and the start of the regular season, and it’s much less interesting, with guys getting training camp tryouts more than anything else).  I know where the Seahawks pick, so I have a pretty good idea of who will be available and who won’t be.  And, I’ve got a decent idea of where this draft is strongest and weakest.

The Seahawks pick 26th out of 32 in the first round.  They have a second round pick in roughly the same spot, and three third rounders.  No fourths or fifths; one sixth and one seventh, for a total of 7 draft picks.  Knowing the Seahawks, they’d like to have more than 7 picks in this draft, so it’s entirely plausible that the Seahawks end up trading down on one or more occasions, to perhaps pick up an extra 2nd or 3rd rounder, or maybe fill in that extensive gap between their last 3rd rounder and their 6th rounder.

So, if I had to guess, I’d say the Seahawks don’t actually make a selection at 26.  I say that because they’ve traded down in the first round multiple times before.  I say that because there’s REALLY no consensus among rookie quarterbacks coming out this year, meaning it’s not too likely a quarterback is taken in any of the top five picks, but it’s entirely possible that many multiple quarterbacks are taken between 6-32, as I get the feeling different teams have different QBs rated as their highest and would love nothing more than to prove the rest of the NFL wrong, that they know better.  As such, there’s a pretty good chance we see a team willing to trade up from the early 2nd round and move into Seattle’s spot.  Cleveland, San Francisco, Chicago, and the Jets all pick pretty early in the 2nd round, for instance.  The lower the Seahawks go down the ladder, the more in draft capital they’re likely to pick up.

To wrap up this part of the post, would I be in favor of the Seahawks trading down?  Why not?  However, if it prevents us from getting certain guys I want, I’m going to be a little upset.

So, who are some of the guys projected to go to Seattle?  Well, I’m sure among many, many others, I’ve been seeing the following names a lot:

  • Cam Robinson OT
  • Garett Bolles OT
  • Forrest Lamp G
  • Kevin King CB
  • Obi Melifonwu S

I could probably go on and on if I wanted to really do some research, but I’ll tell you what I think about these guys.  Even though offensive line was an abject disaster last year, I’m not super high on taking a lineman in the first round.  When I hear things like, “This is the worst draft ever for offensive linemen,” I cringe.  All those people saying that could be dead wrong, and there could be any number of quality linemen who develop from this class, but it seems like a longshot to me.  Taking an offensive lineman at 26 (or wherever the Seahawks land with their first pick of the draft) is going to have the feel of a reach to me.  The Seahawks drafting for need over value, taking whatever lineman is the best available just because.  If the Seahawks are going to take yet another offensive lineman with their first pick, it better be a guy who is a quality starter from Day 1, and quite frankly their track record stinks in this area.

  • Ifedi, last year, was a starter from Day 1, but not a good one
  • Britt (their 2nd selection in the 2014 draft) wasn’t good until year 3
  • Carpenter (2011) wasn’t the right tackle we were promised, eventually settling into a so-so left guard
  • Moffitt (also 2011) was never good, is out of the league now
  • Okung (2010) the only quality lineman, but had his own issues (was also a #6 overall draft pick and the second left tackle taken in the draft)

The Seahawks and Plug & Play O-Linemen don’t really mesh.  It either takes time for them to develop into decent players, if they ever develop at all.

So, what are we supposed to do if we take one of these tackles like Robinson or Bolles, if they’re still around?  Well, you have to play them, of course!  You have to get value out of your top picks, meaning you need to feature them early and often to get your money’s worth!  Considering it looks like Ifedi is being moved over to right tackle, and considering the Seahawks signed Luke Joeckel, and considering they still highly regard George Fant, I mean, what do we do here with this embarrassment of debts?  (that’s the opposite of Embarrassment of Riches, right?)  Besides that, do either of them play left tackle, which is actually the position we need to be filling with a competent player?  I have my doubts.

Plus, I don’t even think O-Line is the most pressing need right now.  I think the Seahawks did all they did in free agency so they WOULDN’T have to settle on taking an O-Lineman with their first draft pick.  They NEED to replenish their secondary, and I think they do that here.  I hope they do that here.  I NEED THEM TO DO THAT HERE!

I’ve had it in my head, pretty much since the combine, that we can get the band back together – so to speak – with regards to the UW secondary.  I absolutely LOVE Kevin King’s potential for growth, and I also think he’d be ready to start from Day 1 opposite Richard Sherman.  And, in a couple years, when Sherman opts to move on to another team, I love Kevin King’s potential to take over that spot and flourish for many years to come.  I’m also well aware that, since the combine, his stock has skyrocketed, and as a result he may get selected before the Seahawks could even sniff at a chance of trading up for him.  Like, maybe even in the Top 20.  In which case, if that happens, so be it, and I wish him a long and fruitful career (except when he plays the Seahawks).

I also need to understand that there are many other cornerbacks and safeties out there that the Seahawks could conceivably covet (like that Melifonwu guy out of UConn), that could be as good or even better than Kevin King.  I just think I’m going to be REALLY upset if King is still there and the Seahawks pick someone else over him, that’s all.

As a dark horse, who no one is really talking about when they talk about the Seahawks, is Budda Baker.  Like I said, I’m REALLY high on the Washington Huskies’ secondary, and I think I want as many of them as possible to play for Seattle.  I know Baker’s essentially blocked at the safety position by Earl Thomas, and I know they just signed Bradley McDougald as a prominent backup safety they hope to incorporate into the defense; but I’ve also seen what this team looks like without Kam Chancellor, and without Earl Thomas (though, thankfully, not without both at the same time, which I fear would be the death of me), and I honestly believe you can’t have enough talent at that position, when you’re playing a Pete Carroll defense.  With Baker backing up Earl, you don’t have NEARLY the dropoff you had last year when Earl went down.  But, even if Earl and Kam don’t miss a single important snap the entire season, that doesn’t mean you wasted your selection on Baker.  Budda can play cornerback too!  Line him up outside and move Lane inside, or keep Lane outside and let Budda play nickel, either way I think you’re going to have tremendous production from him, and a fabulous stopgap until DeShawn Shead can come back from injury.

Not for nothing, but I haven’t even mentioned Sidney Jones here.  With his achilles tendon injury, his draft stock fell pretty hard.  If he were to fall to the Seahawks in the second round, I think I might lose my shit, though I think that’s a longshot.  Nevertheless, coming away with Baker and Jones in this draft might make it all worthwhile in mine eyes.

There’s also talk of the Seahawks going with a pass rusher with their first pick, but I dunno.  I just don’t know who’s going to be available.  They have Avril, Bennett, and Frank Clark in the fold already.  In the big pass rushing package, you can slide Bennett inside and play all three of those guys at once, but you still need another interior pass rusher to pair with him, and the very best ones of that group tend to be picked super high (I see you Solomon Thomas, and I hope to holy hell that the 49ers don’t pick you #2 overall).  If you could guarantee me the Seahawks find some diamond in the rough, I suppose I’d be for it, but there aren’t a ton of rookie pass rushers who make huge impacts AS rookies.

More than anything else, I want a guy who can come in and start right away, but I also want a guy who will have a big positive impact right away.  Seems unlikely at any of the line positions (either offense or defense), seems unlikely at wide receiver or running back, and in my opinion going after a linebacker (with Wagner and Wright never leaving the field) would be beyond irresponsible, given the holes this team needs to fill.  The only thing worse would be if the Seahawks went quarterback with their first pick, at which point I might throw my remote through the television.

The only logical choice is to use that first pick on the secondary.  So that’s what I’d like to see the Seahawks do in the 2017 NFL Draft.

Sincerely,

TL;DR

A Murderer’s Row Of Outgoing Huskies & Some Other Peach Bowl Thoughts

The big news of the week is the four underclassmen who are declaring for the NFL draft.

  • John Ross – WR
  • Budda Baker – S
  • Sidney Jones – CB
  • Elijah Qualls – DT

We more or less all saw this coming a hundred miles away, so it’s not like it’s a shock or anything.  And, really, it shouldn’t be a source of frustration; these kids balled out for the Huskies and have achieved all there is to achieve (for the most part).  I don’t begrudge them taking their talents to The League.  Nevertheless, can we take just a moment to fantasize about what next year’s team would’ve looked like with these guys returning as seniors?

Ahh, that’s the stuff.  It could’ve been massive, but in a way it’s exciting to see the guys coming up behind them.  Sure, they could be worse, but what if they’re better?

This is on top of the guys who were Seniors and have thus run out of eligibility:

  • Kevin King – CB
  • Joe Mathis – LB
  • Psalm Wooching – DE
  • Jake Eldrenkamp – OL
  • Jeff Lindquist – TE (erstwhile QB)
  • Brandon Beaver – DB
  • Darrell Daniels – TE
  • Cameron Van Winkle – K
  • Shane Brostek – OL

Some pretty big names on this list, but in going down the roster, it’s heartening to see the large pile of Freshmen and Sophomores.  The hope being that Coach Pete and Co. mold these guys into the next great Husky football teams in coming seasons.

And, quite frankly, the number of star players returning really dwarfts those leaving, and that’s not even counting all the red shirts and incoming Freshmen we’ll have this fall.  Assuming there aren’t too many high-profile transfers, the Huskies will still be great next year and for years to come.

Tip of the cap to the guys leaving though.  I know there was a bit of snark in my previous Husky post this week, but I’ll always have the fondest of memories for John Ross.  I haven’t sat down and really put in the thought, but I have to think he goes down as one of my top 3 favorite Huskies of all time, up there with Tui and Reggie.  I can’t wait to see Ross in the NFL and will be rooting hard for him to be great.

Same deal with the secondary guys.  Budda?  Are you kidding?  My God is he going to be fantastic at the next level!  I would give absolutely anything for him to fall to the Seahawks in the first round.  Sidney Jones was always a comforting presence there, locking down one side of the field.  He should have no problem proving his greatness at the next level.  And Kevin King had, without question, the greatest interception I’ve ever seen in my life against ASU.  Like I said before, it’s going to be TOUGH to replace these guys.  The secondary will be the unit to watch in the early going, to see who steps up.

Qualls, Mathis, and Wooching round out the guys I’m prepared to talk about today.  Big number 11 was a force on the interior, and was a big reason why the beef along the D-Line was able to be as effective as it was.  Joe Mathis was definitely missed when he went down with injury and was lost for the season.  We certainly could’ve used his leadership and athleticism against Bama.  And Wooching, with increased playing time due to Azeem Victor going down, really stepped up and filled some of the pass rushing void, allowing this defense to really not lose a whole lot down the stretch.

The 2016 Huskies will always be something special in my book.  Now, let’s hope 2017’s version blows them out of the water!

***

Just a few random thoughts about the Peach Bowl that I left out of my previous Husky post on Tuesday.

I remember sitting there as the game went along, seeing botched Husky drive after botched Husky drive, silently pleading for this team to start taking some shots down the field.  I mean, that was the key going in, right?  You’re not going to run on Alabama; your only shot is to do what Ole’ Miss did, which is throw deep and throw often and hope for the best.  The fact that we couldn’t complete anything longer than 20 yards all day was a real point of bitterness on my end.  I mean, what the shit?!  I know their pass rush was pretty good, but there were times Jake had PLENTY of time to throw!

But, you know, upon further reflection, that’s probably easier said than done.  If it was so easy to throw deep on Bama, everyone would’ve done it and they probably would’ve lost a game by now.  Even though I was in attendance, I didn’t get a good look at the coverage down field; my attention was predominantly focused on the lines.  I mean, how can you not?  That Bama D-Line is spectacular!  I remember one time in particular, it was 2nd & 3, where it looked like the perfect time for the Husky offense to take a shot, but someone was on Jake’s ass almost immediately and he had to throw it away.  I feel like that happened more times than we realized.  I’m sure the Huskies WANTED to throw deep, but it’s not like you can do that all the time.  You have to pick your spots.  And, my hunch is, more often than not, in those spots you’d find a Bama lineman or linebacker in the backfield harassing our guy.

On top of that, it was pretty apparent that Alabama didn’t have any respect for our running game.  It seemed like all day they went with a 6-man box, just DARING us to run the ball.  Of course, when we did, we still couldn’t, because their 6-man box is way better than anything we could throw at them.  I’ll say this, I was dreading any instance of Myles Gaskin touching the ball.  Don’t get me wrong, he’s a solid running back with great vision and patience.  But, you’re not going to get very far being patient against that Bama D-Line.  This was proven by Gaskin having a rushing long of 10 yards, while averaging 3.4 yards on 10 carries.  I would’ve much rather seen Lavon Coleman get the lion’s share of the carries doled out to our running backs.  Not necessarily because I think he’s the superior back, but I think his style lends itself more to potentially breaking one against them.  Now, obviously, on 7 carries he only got 16 yards, with a long rush of only 5 yards, so it probably wouldn’t have made a difference if he had another 10 touches.  But, still, I like a guy who’s quick to decide and hits the hole hard against a line like that.  Because, let’s face it, if the Huskies were able to open ANY holes in the running game, those holes weren’t destined to remain open for very long.

Ultimately, when you combine the fact that Alabama mostly kept six in the box, and rarely blitzed, it allowed them to keep their safeties back and eliminated most – if not all – deep passing attempts.  I will say that, after the pick six, right before halftime, I saw John Ross streaking up the middle of the field, having gotten behind the defense.  Had Jake Browning seen the same, we could’ve stolen a touchdown right back and made the second half a lot more interesting.  But, who knows, he was probably trying to dodge another defender who aimed to take his head off.  It was pretty discouraging to see us almost never attempt a pass in the middle of the field when the game was in doubt.  Again, I don’t know if the defense dictated that, or the game plan, but an offense full of short passes to the sidelines isn’t going to get it done against any defense.

I’ll just close out with a little something on Jake Browning.  I think it’s pretty clear he took a big step forward from his Freshman year to this year.  I feel like he’s getting a lot of flak from fans, who think he “doesn’t show up” in big games.  Let’s just take a step back here and remember he started from the very first game as a true Freshman last year.  So, he was essentially thrown into the fire, and did pretty well for himself.  He was damn near a completely different quarterback by season’s end.  That put him into his Sophomore year this year, where as I noted above, he took a big step forward.  The team succeeded accordingly and we cracked the College Football playoffs!  He even found himself, for a while there, in the national discussion for the Heisman Trophy!  Granted, it was a bit of a down year for the Heisman; I don’t know anyone who thinks Lamar Jackson is literally the best player in college football in 2016 (this probably should’ve been the year it went to a lineman or something).

In 2017, you have to figure Jake will be in the discussion for the Heisman Trophy from Day 1.  He’s coming off of a 12-win season and a playoff berth, the pressure will be ungodly.  So, I’ll be most interested in seeing how he responds.  He’ll be an upper-classman, he’ll have two years’ worth of experience in this system, and you figure he’ll be poised for one more big step forward in his progression.  At this point, he’s got the experience, he’s mastered being a leader for this team, now it’s time to refine and fine tune his game to be an elite college quarterback.  With a target on his back, and all of the Huskies’ backs as conference champions, nothing will come easy for this team in 2017.

How they respond to being in the long shadow of the 2016 Huskies will go a long way towards dictating whether we’ll be even better next year, or regress towards the mean.