The Top Ten Biggest Seattle Sports Disappointments

It’s a cloudy-ass day in July and we haven’t had any sports that I give a shit about in over three months, so why not kick off the month with a big ball of negativity?!

Once again, in the absence of any decent sports news, I take inspiration from the Brock & Salk podcast, where one of the listeners asked the question of who is on your Seattle sports Mount Rushmore for biggest disappointments? I’m clearly unable to limit my disgust to just four individuals, so you get a Top Ten from me (with an extra Honorable Mention – FREE OF CHARGE – because these disappointments are like my babies, I can’t leave any of them out!).

Being a Sports Disappointment is obviously a nebulous concept with lots of different definitions, so here’s mine (for the sake of today’s argument): these are people who we expected to be great when they came here, and ultimately totally sucked. How they got here is irrelevant, so I’m not factoring in (as heavily) if it was a lopsided trade, a high draft pick, or an inflated contract (with the basis that all of these players were terrible for their respective Seattle sports teams, one would assume a poor trade, draft slot, or contract is a given anyway). Similarly, this can’t be based on someone else that our team passed on in the draft, because there would be inherent disappointment already built into that selection.

Malik McDowell, for instance, doesn’t qualify for this list. He’s certainly one of the most damaging draft picks of the last decade for the Seahawks, but as a second rounder, I don’t think expectations were astronomical that he’d be anything truly amazing. Likewise, trading away Scottie Pippen for Olden Polynice doesn’t qualify, because I would like to think most people noted that right away to be a terrible deal, and as such I can’t imagine there were great expectations for ol’ #0.

Without further ado, let’s get to our Honorable Mention: Jesus Montero. The Mariners traded for the former #1 overall baseball prospect early in 2012 from the Yankees. Given Michael Pineda’s career since he left Seattle, this is one of those infamous Lose/Lose deals. Nevertheless, the next ten guys I talk about must’ve been REALLY bad, because Montero was as mediocre as it gets. The main reason why he’s on the outside looking in is because by the time he came to Seattle, there was already a building consensus that he wasn’t long for the catcher position. He just didn’t have the build, the skills, nor the presence with the pitching staff for his defense to measure up. The hope was that maybe he could land at first base with some practice, but ultimately I think most saw him as a future DH. Regardless of that, there was NO QUESTION that his bat would be what provided the bulk of his value, and when you’re talking about those Mariners squads from 2008-2013, a hulking power bat from the right side of the plate was our white whale. Montero was SUPPOSED to be our cleanup hitter for the next decade; instead he hasn’t been in the Majors since 2015, and is more known for his ice cream sandwich fight than his “prowess” on the baseball diamond.

#10 – Danny Hultzen (Mariners)

This is the only real draft bust on the list (not to say there aren’t some REALLY BAD draft picks going forward, but at least those guys played a little bit!). Hultzen was a #2 overall draft pick, considered to be the safest starting pitcher prospect of the 2011 draft, and appeared to be on the fast track to make it to the Major Leagues within 2-3 years. Even if there was a question of his stuff – and his high-ceiling/ace potential – if his arm injuries didn’t totally derail him, we WOULD HAVE seen him pitch for the Mariners relatively early in his career. We’ll never know how disappointing that might’ve been, but I remember being really high on this guy when we got him, and it’s one of the great What If’s in recent Mariners history.

#9 – Justin Smoak (Mariners)

He’s sort of in that Jesus Montero realm, in that he was formerly a very highly-rated prospect, with the bloom starting to come off the rose by the time the M’s were able to acquire him. Oddly enough, when we made the deal in 2010, it’s reported that the Mariners turned down a proposed offer from the Yankees which would’ve included Montero! What did we do to get so lucky as to end up with BOTH when all was said and done?! Again, we’re talking about the Dead Ball Mariners of 2008-2013 or so; Smoak was really the first bite at the apple of trying to turn around our moribund offense. Switch-hitter with power, elite first base defense, good eye at the plate, and a proven minor league track record to hit for average, get on base at a high clip, and impress with his power to all fields. That ended up translating to the Bigs as Warning Track Power, someone who couldn’t really hit from the right side at all, a very LOW batting average, and someone who would consistently roll over on pitches instead of hitting to all fields as advertised. While his defense played, and he had an okay eye for taking walks, he also struck out a ton and didn’t start figuring out how to play at this level until he left for Toronto, where he was an All Star in 2017 (with 22+ homers in the last three seasons, the high being 38 in that aforementioned All Star season).

#8 – Aaron Curry (Seahawks)

As a #4 overall draft pick in 2009, you can certainly point to any number of linebackers taken after him and lament Tim Ruskell’s poor decision-making. BUT! I said we’re not doing that here! So, instead let’s just look at the situation at the time: the Seahawks were coming off of a pretty abysmal 2008 season where the defense just had NOTHING going for it. The offense looked like it MIGHT be salvagable with our aging veterans, but the defense needed an injection of youth and explosiveness. Curry was famously the “safest” pick off the board, as someone who could come in, play right away, and play at a high level. Even then, though, his game started getting picked apart pretty quickly. We soon learned there wasn’t much of a pass-rushing threat to his game, which made him ostensibly a coverage linebacker. The Seahawks have long prided themselves on quality linebacker play, so that checks out. Except, as it turned out, Curry couldn’t even do THAT well! He did, in fact, nothing well, and two years later we traded him to the Raiders in the middle of the 2011 season for draft picks (one of which would turn out to be J.R. Sweezy, which wasn’t too shabby of a return, all things considered).

#7 – Dustin Ackley (Mariners)

Speaking of #2 overall draft picks, welcome to the first pick of the Jack Zduriencik Era in 2009! I wrote pretty extensively on the topic of Dustin Ackley over the years, to the point where the rest of my list today SERIOUSLY conflicts with that post I just linked to. But, I would argue the parameters of the argument today are a little different. I’m trying to eliminate all outside factors and just focus on the players themselves. Yes, Ackley was VERY disappointing! He was supposed to be a guy who hit for a very high average, with enough pop/speed/defense to make him a regular All Star for his Major League career. Instead, he was middling at best and hasn’t cracked a Major League roster since 2016. I would also put part of the blame on the Mariners’ front office, as they continuously dicked around with him. He was a primo first baseman in college, with some experience in the outfield. What did we do? We made him a second baseman, which almost certainly stunted his development. Then, when that failed, we tried to make him a centerfielder, even though he really didn’t have the range or ability to cover that much ground (especially in Safeco Field at the time). And yet, the bat never showed up in Seattle, so that’s ultimately why he’s such a disappointment.

#6 – Chone Figgins (Mariners)

You really, REALLY hate to see it! This was the first big free agent bust of the Jack Zduriencik Era: four years, $36 million in December of 2009. I can’t even begin to tell you how excited I was for this signing! By this point, we’d long realized that Safeco Field – with its configuration, and with our Marine Layer in Seattle – would be death to home run hitters. Guys like Adrian Beltre, Richie Sexson, among others, tried and ultimately failed to replicate their prior glories in Seattle. But, Figgins was the opposite of that! He was an undersized Jack-Of-All-Trades type of Swiss Army Knife you could plug in at nearly EVERY position on the field, with zero power hype to speak of whatsoever! And, most importantly, he’d hit for the Angels in a big way (.291 average & .363 on-base percentage in Anaheim across 8 seasons before signing with the Mariners). Slot him in at third base (his preferred position) and at the top of your batting lineup, and watch him hit .300 and steal 40+ bases! He somehow reached that stolen base plateau in his first year here, but his average dropped about 40 points overnight. He couldn’t get along with the Mariners’ management (and, presumably, some of the players) and was deemed the very worst signing of Jack Zduriencik’s career. Smarter baseball people than myself probably saw all this coming, but I’ll admit it was a rude awakening for me.

#5 – Percy Harvin (Seahawks)

If this were a list of my own personal Most Loathed Seattle Sports Athletes, Harvin would probably rank higher. I have no problem invoking his name among the greatest all-time Seahawks blunders because he is SO unlikable (the peak being him punching out Golden Tate before our Super Bowl victory in the 2013 season). Why he doesn’t rank higher here is the fact that we DID win that Super Bowl (mostly in spite of him), on top of the fact that I think most of us realized – when the deal was made – that it was too high a price to pay for ANYONE, even with his ability (at the time). Still, he had proven in his career with the Vikings to be a lethal gadget player on offense, and one of the best return men in the Special Teams department. While we could see the cost in draft picks and contract compensation was stratospheric, it was hard not to dream big about what this offense could be with Harvin in the fold. Russell Wilson, Marshawn Lynch, Golden Tate, Doug Baldwin, AND Percy Harvin?! Come on! And, then he immediately got injured upon arrival, and didn’t really end up making any impact whatsoever until we reached the Super Bowl. The highlight of his Seahawks career was the kickoff return for a touchdown against the Broncos. Some thought he deserved consideration for the Super Bowl MVP, but we were already up 22-0 at the time, so I mean. The bottom line is, Harvin dogged it in 2014 – taking himself out of games, refusing to play through anything more than a hangnail – and was traded in the middle of the season for whatever we could get. So much wasted money and potential.

#4 – Erik Bedard (Mariners)

Everyone points to the lopsided deal – that sent the Orioles a ton of quality baseball players – but the true crime is just how bad Bedard became as soon as he got here! He was a bona fide Ace-type pitcher for Baltimore – so much so that he was deemed to be the #1 over Felix Hernandez in his first year here – and the expectation was that our rotation would lead us back to the playoffs with Bedard in the fold. Instead, he was a consummate Five-And-Dive artist who both stunk AND couldn’t stay healthy. Why he’s not higher on this list is because all of those Mariners teams were VERY terrible and would have been regardless, with our without Bedard. Still a bitter pill to swallow.

#3 – Rick Mirer (Seahawks)

The bigger disappointment here is the fact that the Seahawks had the #2 pick at all, and not the #1 (which would’ve guaranteed us Drew Bledsoe). In that Dustin Ackley piece, I had Dan McGwire among the biggest draft pick disappointments in Seattle sports history, but that largely hinged on who we DIDN’T get in that draft – namely: Brett Favre – but I don’t think anyone REALLY expected greatness out of McGwire (except for the inept Seahawks ownership group at the time). Rick Mirer, on the other hand, was very highly regarded. Even if he wasn’t the ideal QB of that draft, he wasn’t supposed to be a bad fall-back option. But, he was worse than anyone could’ve possibly imagined. He nearly destroyed my standing as a Seahawks fan for the rest of the 1990’s! The saving grace for Mirer is the fact that we were able to flip him for a first round draft pick in 1997.

#2 – Jeff Cirillo (Mariners)

I just remember LOVING this deal so much! In December of 2001 – coming off of the Mariners’ 116-win campaign – we were looking at one of the most complete teams in the Major Leagues. One of our main weak spots was third base, where we employed the pedestrian David Bell. Cirillo, on the other hand, had a remarkable 10-year career to that point with the Milwaukee Brewers and Colorado Rockies, where he hit over .300, had an on-base percentage over .450, hardly ever struck out, and played a quality third base! I mean, on a team with Ichiro, Boone, Olerud, Edgar, Cameron, Wilson, Guillen, McLemore, and the rest, Cirillo was only going to put us MORE over the top! That’s when we got our first big taste of what happens when guys come over from Colorado: the thin air they play in made hitting at home a breeze. Meanwhile, in Seattle, even for someone like Cirillo – who wasn’t a natural power hitter by any means – it seems like Safeco just got in everyone’s heads if nothing else. He hit for a miserable .234 across two partial seasons, and his on-base percentage plummeted to a ridiculous .295! To add insult to injury, those two seasons coincided with two of the most frustrating years to be a Mariners fan, where both teams won 93 games, yet failed to make the playoffs because baseball is dumb and only had one Wild Card team at the time. To add even more insult to even more injury, we traded him away in early 2004 and got essentially nothing back in return.

#1 – Vin Baker (Supersonics)

You don’t see a lot of Sonics on this list, because for the most part – until the bitter end – we were a pretty well-run organization. Sure, you can point to the litany of failed centers we drafted in the 2000’s, but I would argue most fans saw through those duds the minute their names were called. Similarly, everyone wondered why someone like Jim McIlvaine was given such a high-money contract, so to be “disappointed” would mean you’d have to have high expectations for someone who had hardly done anything in his career to that point! Vin Baker, on the other hand, was a multi-year All Star in the NBA for the Milwaukee Bucks. I almost didn’t want to include Baker on this list, because for some reason I have memories of more good times than actually existed. The truth of the matter is – upon trading for him when Shawn Kemp forced his way out in a 3-team deal, justifiably, because McIlvaine – the Sonics only enjoyed ONE quality year out of Baker. The first year here, the 1997/1998 season, when he maintained his All Star streak and led the Sonics to a semifinals appearance in George Karl’s last go-around in Seattle.

He then immediately fell off the cliff. The strike-shortened season saw Baker’s alcoholism creep in, resulting in a ballooning of his weight that drastically reduced his effectiveness on the court. For some reason, in spite of his fall-off, the Sonics rewarded him with a 7-year, $86 million deal. Yet, he was never the same, with three increasingly-mediocre seasons to follow before we were able to trade him to the Celtics for a bunch of role players. There’s a lot of unfair resentment towards Baker for tanking his career the way he did, but I think mostly people just feel sorry for him. No one in Seattle wanted to see Shawn Kemp leave; indeed Wally Walker & Co. did a remarkable job of destroying a championship-calibre squad. But, I can’t tell you how happy I was that we were able to get Baker here initially! His game – if maybe not his personality – fit this team PERFECTLY! He had a better post-up game than Kemp, could shoot from long range better than Kemp, and overall you didn’t have to worry about the ups & downs. Baker was a steady 20/10 type of guy when he got here, night-in and night-out. Which makes his post-1998 years SO disappointing! His wasn’t the type of game that should’ve deteriorated so quickly. Kemp’s game was more raw athleticism; Baker’s game was fundamental basketball prowess. Yet, when it’s all said and done, two of the great basketball tragedies to come out of that lockout season were Baker and Kemp, both succumbing to being out of shape and never ultimately recovering.

The Biggest Blunders In Seattle Sports History

There’s always a reason to be disgruntled about what’s going on with sports in the Seattle area. We’re far from burdened with championship squads, unless the MLS or WNBA is your bag (which is fine if they are, but they’re just not mine). I don’t have a good handle on the breakdown, but essentially most sports fans complain about one of two things: something unfortunate happened to our team that’s outside of their control, or our team did something fucking stupid that effectively sabotaged all hope for success.

If we were talking about the former, I’d bring up something like Super Bowl XL (where I’ll go down to my dying breath contending we were jobbed by the refs at every turn), various good-looking trades that just didn’t pan out for a variety of reasons (Percy Harvin, Vin Baker, the deal to bring Cliff Lee in), or the countless injuries to promising young stars/prospects who could’ve been great had their bodies only held together (Franklin Gutierrez, Malik McDowell, Danny Hultzen, our entire secondary right before Super Bowl XL).

But, I’m talking about the blunders! The dumb-looking shit that was dumb-looking at the time and only proceeded to grow ever more mind-boggling with each passing year. It’s a rough sketch, but here are the top ten worst self-inflicted wounds I can think of in Seattle sports history.

#10 – We Want The Ball & We’re Gonna Score

You gotta have stakes in this thing, so any individual event has to come in the playoffs at a minimum. This one happened in the Wild Card round of the 2003 season. It’s not JUST that the Seahawks won the coin flip heading into overtime and Matt Hasselbeck made that unfortunate guarantee (indeed, I thought it was cool then, and I would gladly welcome such bravado anytime), but combine that with the fateful call.

Let’s go back: remember, this was back when the first score of overtime wins, regardless; so all we needed to do was get into field goal range. We got a first down and had the ball at our own 45 yard line. A stuffed run and an incompletion made it 3rd & 11. And, for some reason, Mike Holmgren decided to call a 5-wide receiver set. For some reason on top of that, Hasselbeck decided to throw the ball to our 5th receiver, Alex Bannister. For some reason on top of THAT, it was an out-pass – the easiest one to undercut and run back for a pick-six – that the receiver didn’t even get beyond the 11 yards needed for the first down! And, of course, not for nothing, but the pass was simply terribly thrown. The rest is history, and so began our continued demise whenever we play a playoff game in Lambeau Field.

#9 – The Deal To Trade Cliff Lee Away

It was supposed to be the epitome of a no-brainer. Cliff Lee was heading into the final year of his deal in 2010. At the time, he already had a Cy Young Award under his belt and was probably the best left-handed starting pitcher in the game. The Mariners traded three nobodies to the Phillies to bring Lee to Seattle and the plan was simple. The M’s were coming off of a winning season in 2009, and Lee – paired with a still-in-his-prime Felix Hernandez – was going to help push us over the top and back into playoff contention.

Unfortunately, Cliff Lee got injured in Spring Training, and didn’t make his first start until the last day of April. In spite of Lee going 7 shutout innings that day, the Mariners lost 2-0 to drop their record to 11-12 on the season. On July 9th, our record fell to 34-52, and it was clear no playoffs would be forthcoming. That’s okay! We had a backup plan if things fell apart in spectacular fashion (which they did, as we would go on to lose 101 games). Since Cliff Lee was so great – indeed, his numbers after two months with the Mariners were among the best of his entire career – his value should’ve been sky high for a pitching-needy team looking to cement their status as a championship contender.

But, we had Jackie Z at the helm, and our return – Justin Smoak and three other nobodies – was far from inspiring. This was supposed to jumpstart our big rebuild, and Smoak was supposed to be the centerpiece. Instead, we rode his wave of warning track power into mediocre season after mediocre season. You could throw any number of trades Jackie Z made for the Mariners on the list of greatest blunders, but I’m putting this one here because Cliff Lee was amazing, and we BLEW IT.

#8 – Steve Hutchinson Transition Tag

The Seahawks were riding high after their appearance in Super Bowl XL. The only thing we could do to screw it up was dick around with our best players.

Tim Ruskell’s seat in Hell is being kept warm for him by the resentment and hatred of thousands upon thousands of Seahawks fans. What a buffoon! The offensive line was not only the backbone of the Seahawks’ offense, but it was easily the best part of the entire team, anchored on the left side by two Hall of Famers: Walter Jones & Steve Hutchinson. Through them, we had an MVP in running back Shaun Alexander. Through them, a sixth-round quarterback was able to play at a Pro Bowl level. We had the money, we had the desire, and indeed we had NO ANSWER for Hutch’s replacement when he eventually signed the Vikings’ Poison Pill contract!

The hit to the Seahawks was immediate and obvious. Bottom line was: the Seahawks were never the same again, and didn’t make it back to the Super Bowl until the 2013 season (with an all-new regime and set of superstars at the helm).

#7 – The Erik Bedard Trade

There’s no need to clarify; we all know which Bedard trade I’m talking about. In February of 2008, we gave up Adam Jones (5-time All Star center fielder; NOPE, COULDN’T HAVE USED HIM!), Chris Tillman (an All Star starting pitcher who would go on to have a 38-16 record from 2012-2014; NOPE, COULDN’T HAVE USED HIM!), and George Sherrill (an All Star reliever who would save 52 games from 2008-2009; NOPE, COULDN’T HAVE USED HIM!), among two other stiffs.

What we got back in return was a starter in Bedard who – like Lee before him – was brought in to be paired with a still-in-his-prime Felix Hernandez, coming off of a winning 2007 season. Instead, we got a guy who could never really stay healthy, whose style constantly saw his pitch counts inflated early in games, which meant you could only count on him for about 5 innings per start at best. On top of that, there were rumors abound about how he didn’t really give a shit about baseball or winning and was just in it for the paycheck (more power to you, I guess). He sucked so hard, the Mariners couldn’t even flip him for any semblance of value, which meant Bedard had to go down with the sinking ship that is our Mariners existence. On the plus side, this was the final straw to getting Bill Bavasi fired (on the down side, see: Jackie Z)

#6 – The Lowe/Varitek Trade

Woody Woodward stumbled into a lot of success in his tenure as GM of the Mariners. To our dismay, he had no idea what to do with this team once we started reaching those heights.

The 1997 Mariners were a fun bunch. Tons of heavy hitters all up and down the lineup. Led by Randy Johnson, the starting pitching was good enough to take us all the way, assuming the hitters hit and the relievers didn’t totally shit the bed.

As you might have guessed, there was A LOT of bed shitting in 1997; worst year for bed shitting I’ve ever seen, if I’m being honest! Woody Woodward, not knowing what he was doing or how he could rectify the problem, made two of the worst panic-deals for three of the worst relief pitchers I can imagine. The absolute worst was sending Derek Lowe (a 2-time All Star who would go on to win 176 games in his 17-year career) and Jason Varitek (a 3-time All Star catcher for the Red Sox over 15 seasons) for Heathcliff Slocumb (a turd).

Like most of these deals, this one wasn’t helpful in the short term (the M’s would go on to lose in the first round of the playoffs) and it was an outright disaster in the long-term (we either could’ve had two great players for the next decade, or at least flipped them for better players/prospects).

#5 – Jim McIlvaine Signing

Really the beginning of the end of the great run of Supersonics teams of the 90’s. Almost immediately following our hard-fought defeat in the NBA Finals to the greatest team of all time in six games, the Sonics looked like a team that could easily run it back and re-join the Bulls the very next year. You could argue center was our weakest spot on a team riddled with strengths all the way up and down the roster. So, enter Jim McIlvaine – a guy who had done NOTHING to that point – on a 7-year, $33.6 million deal (which was a lot at the time, trust me). He had a whopping TWO years under his belt at that point, as a reserve on the Washington Bullets, where his big claim to fame was averaging a hair over 2 blocks per game the year before in just under 15 minutes per.

This ungodly amount of money – for a guy who’d proven nothing in his brief pro career – obviously angered a lot of players on the Sonics, particularly Shawn Kemp, who effectively forced his way off the team in a deal that would bring in Vin Baker. Now, you can argue both Kemp and Baker – particularly after the strike season – did a lot to damage their own careers as we headed into the new Willennium, so who’s to say what would’ve happened to the Sonics had we gone in a different direction?

All I know is, McIlvaine instantly became entrenched in the starting lineup his first year with us, averaging 18 of the most worthless minutes of each and every game he was in, bringing NOTHING to the table. He actively made the team worse with his play alone, regardless of what happened to the chemistry in the locker room (which is exceedingly important in the NBA, with how long the season is, and how many games they have to play). We ended up losing in 7 games to the Houston Rockets in the conference semifinals, and that was as good as it got for the rest of the decade.

#4 – Randy Johnson Trade

I did a deep dive on this a few years ago that you can check out (as chance would have it, a lot of these other blunders find their way into this piece!), but the bottom line is this: the Mariners were cheap, and Randy Johnson’s best years were still AHEAD of him.

Moreover, I would argue that while the value looked pretty good at the time – indeed, two starting pitchers and a starting infielder isn’t a bad return – the very best Mariners teams of 2000 & 2001 were in such desperate need for a true #1 ace, that Randy Johnson would’ve been perfect for those teams. I’m sorry, I like Freddy Garcia as much as the next guy, but he’s no Randy. Randy who would go on to win four Cy Young Awards from 1999-2002 (again, the years where the Mariners were playing the very best ball in franchise history); you don’t think he could’ve helped those teams get over the hump, and maybe even win a World Series title?

#3 – Not Drafting Brett Favre

Chuck Knox ran the Seahawks efficiently and to the best of his abilities from 1983-1991. You could argue he got more than anyone could’ve expected him to out of a bunch of ragtag guys, especially with at best a mediocre quarterback in Dave Krieg. When it finally came time to move on, Knox had one man in mind in the 1991 NFL Draft: Brett Favre. Ownership, however, refused to see it, and refused to listen to their legendary head coach, opting to go with Dan McGwire with the 16th overall pick (Favre would fall to the Falcons in the second round).

See, McGwire was 6’8. You know, that insanely crazy height that no NFL teams want, because it’s too damn tall to be an effective quarterback? If you don’t remember McGwire, you’re lucky; he was trash. Knox would leave the Seahawks following the 1991 season, and immediately we’d fall to such lows that we’d have to draft yet another dud in 1993 (Rick Mirer, with the #2 overall pick, after losing an opportunity to draft Drew Bledsoe). That went on to cost us the rest of the 90’s, before Mike Holmgren came to town and properly revived this franchise. Had we had Brett Favre? Who knows?! There’s an alternate universe out there where the Seahawks were one of the great teams of the 1990’s.

By that same token, there’s an alternate universe out there where we had to deal with Favre constantly threatening to retire, then return, then retire, and so on. So, maybe we lucked out in the long run?

#2 – Not Properly Renovating Key Arena

By the early 1990’s, the Seattle Center Coliseum was in shambles. Teams around the league were updating their own arenas and it was time for Seattle to join in. Unfortunately – even though this was set up prior to the Kingdome implosion being a twinkle in any of our eyes – the city and county ultimately went the cheap, tight-ass route in renovating the arena. By the time it re-opened in 1995 – while it was a fine place to enjoy a basketball game, from a fan perspective – it was already out-of-date by NBA standards, and apparently impossible to derive any sort of profit from, again by NBA standards.

Say what you will about the league, or about tax payers funding sports venues, but you can’t deny the fact that the Sonics were the first in this city to start the trend of venue renovations, and they fucking blew it HARD. By the time subsequent ownership groups demanded the funds for a proper NBA facility, the Seahawks and Mariners had already gotten brand new stadia. Considering it had been such a short time since the opening of Key Arena, combined with public fatigue over the matter, it’s not shocking in the slightest that the Sonics were shot down.

You could obviously argue the biggest blunder was selling the Sonics to Howard Schultz, or the Schultz Group buying the load of horseshit from the OKC people. But, all of that stems from the inferior building that was presented to the world ahead of the 1995 season. Had we just gotten THAT right, everything else would’ve fallen into proper order, and we’d still have our fucking basketball team. Instead, 25+ years later, we’re finally getting around to doing what we should’ve done then, and for our troubles we get the NHL instead. An okay consolation prize, but obviously not what I’d prefer.

#1 – Slant At The Goalline

It’s hard to top losing a fucking NBA franchise on the list of biggest sports blunders, but costing your team a championship in the most demoralizing way possible? Yeah, I’d say that qualifies.

I would hope, by now, that consensus has found its head when it comes to the decision to throw in that scenario. The Seahawks had one time out remaining, it was second down. Run it and fail, and we’ve got zero time outs and they know we’re throwing two consecutive times (considering how that play ended up, you can’t tell me it wasn’t on the docket for at least one of those possible attempts).

Long story short: throwing was the correct call. Throwing a fucking SLANT at the goalline, to a fourth receiver in Ricardo Lockette (shades of the Bannister play up top), was absolutely the biggest blunder in Seattle sports history.

If you’re going to throw a slant, throw it to Baldwin or Kearse! But, no, DON’T THROW A SLANT! Throw literally anything else! Throw a fade to Chris Matthews – who, to that point, had been carving up the Patriots’ defense – or shit, just throw the ball 30 yards out of bounds! Anything but that!

Okay, that’s all. I have to go lay down now. Where’s my fainting couch?!

Paul Allen Passed Away

What makes a good owner?  Well, winning doesn’t hurt.  Paul Allen took over the Seahawks in 1997 and since then the team has only had 6 losing seasons.

Being decisive certainly helps.  In his two seasons with Dennis Erickson at the helm, the Seahawks finished 8-8 both years; not satisfied with mediocrity, he handed the keys to Mike Holmgren.

Patience is always a virtue.  Holmgren was allowed time to do his thing, build the team his way.  After an improbable wild card run in his first year, Holmgren was back in the playoffs – with HIS team – four years later.  That started off a run of five straight playoff appearances (including four consecutive division championships, and one Super Bowl appearance).

Making the right decisions, of course, is probably the most important.  Things got away from the team towards the end of Holmgren’s run.  Tim Ruskell infected this organization with his idiocy, which led to Holmgren’s ouster and the rise of Jim Mora Jr.  Holmgren’s final year was a 4-12 disaster and Mora’s lone year was a somehow-worse 5-11.  Not content with the direction of the team, Paul Allen cleaned house, brought in Pete Carroll and John Schneider, and before we knew it, this team was a world champion.

I think Paul Allen’s best attribute as an owner is all of those things … followed by staying out of the way and letting the football people HE hired make the football decisions.  Not meddling.  Not – like a certain Dallas Cowboys owner – making himself the fucking general manager and having his fingers in all the pies (seriously, thinking that HE’S smarter than Jimmy Johnson in his prime).  Paul Allen didn’t just hire splashy names – though at the time, Holmgren and Carroll were certainly that – but he hired people with visions.  With clear philosophies.  With plans for winning football and strategies to make that happen.  And if things went south, he didn’t overreact.  He let his people do their jobs.  And, most importantly, he always knew the perfect time to make a change.

It’s a stark contrast to the other owners we’ve had in Seattle through the years.  Obviously, the Seahawks before Paul Allen were owned by a monster, Ken Behring.  Before him, though, the Seahawks were run by the Nordstrom family, and their stability (and smart thinking in hiring Chuck Knox) led to a lot of success in the 80’s.

Or, consider the Seattle Mariners, whose decades upon decades of incompetence led to a brief 9-year window of semi-winning baseball.  Aside from that one brief period of bliss, that organization has been run by complete morons.  An owner who was never around.  An executive group prone to rash decisions, bad decisions, poor hires.  Letting general managers stick around too long, compound mistakes on top of more mistakes, while seemingly firing their field managers every other year!  You don’t get to be the team with the longest playoff drought in major North American sports unless you’re one of the very worst-run organizations of them all.  It’s been non-stop misery my whole life, and the saga continues.

And, don’t even get me started on the Supersonics.  As soon as the Ackerley family decided to sell, that was the end of professional basketball in Seattle.

See, the thing is, Seattle is Sports Hell for a reason, and more often than not that reason starts at the very top.  We had one good thing going for us, and that was Paul Allen’s involvement with the Seahawks.  He’d obviously been having a lot of health problems in recent years, and so we knew this day would come, but I still hoped we had more time.  He was only 65!  We should’ve had at LEAST another 20 years!  It’s obviously incomprehensibly sad for his family and friends, but it’s also a sad and uncertain time for Seahawks fans.  We don’t know what the plan is going forward, but it sure looks like the team is going to be sold.  At that point, we’re at the whim of some stranger.

One thing’s for certain, the new owner won’t be able to hold a candle to Paul Allen.  We had the best, now get ready for the rest.

A Look Back at the Impressive Draft History of the John Schneider Era

With the draft coming up in a couple days, it’s always fun to look back at all the success the Seahawks have had in their current regime, overhauling a franchise in the toilet and propping it up as world champions.  You don’t get this good, this fast, without some remarkable drafting and some remarkable coaching.  Who can say if all of these guys would have been just as good under the tutelage of lesser men?  What we know is that a lot of these guys panned out in a big way, thanks to the system we have in place.

To give the full picture, you actually have to go back to the 2009 draft, when we had Jim Mora Jr. as our head coach and Tim Ruskell calling the shots on the personnel side.

Like all of Ruskell’s drafts after his first one back in 2005 – where he nabbed Lofa Tatupu and Leroy Hill, to solidify the middle of our defense – his 2009 class was a huge disaster.  The Seahawks had the #4 pick and wasted it on a bust of a player in Aaron Curry.  Given the downward trajectory of the franchise at that point, you had to wonder where Ruskell found his erroneous sense of job security, as he traded away Seattle’s second round pick (37th overall) to the Denver Broncos for a 2010 first round pick (to further confuse matters, the Seahawks ended up trading 3rd & 4th rounders to get back into the second round – 49th overall – to select Max Unger, the last bit of good from the Ruskell regime).

With that 2010 first round pick, however, the Seahawks would build their dynasty.  As we’re all well aware, the 2009 Seahawks ended up being a trainwreck just like the 2008 variety, leading the franchise to earn the #6 draft pick in 2010.  The 2009 Broncos did their part by going 8-8 and failing to make the playoffs, which meant that their first round draft pick (which was now ours) was 14th overall.

While the 2010 draft wasn’t quite up to the elite level of the 2012 class, it seriously jumpstarted things in a big way.

  • First Round, #6 – Russell Okung (LT)
  • First Round, #14 – Earl Thomas (S)
  • Second Round, #60 – Golden Tate (WR)
  • Fourth Round, #111 – Walter Thurmond (CB)
  • Fourth Round, #127 – E.J. Wilson (DE)
  • Fifth Round, #133 – Kam Chancellor (S)
  • Sixth Round, #185 – Anthony McCoy (TE)
  • Seventh Round, #236 – Dexter Davis (DE)
  • Seventh Round, #245 – Jameson Konz (WR/TE/DE/FB)

Of note is that the Seahawks were originally slated to draft much earlier in the second round, but ended up swapping picks with San Diego (along with giving them a third rounder in 2011) to trade for Charlie Whitehurst.  So, you can’t tell me there weren’t some roadblocks in the early going of the John Schneider era.

Also, it wasn’t all peaches and cream out of Tim Ruskell in the 2009 draft, as he sold off our 2010 third round pick to get Deon Butler in that 2009 class.  The Seahawks also ended up trading back in the 4th & 6th rounds with Tennessee to grab LenDale White and Kevin Vickerson.  Vickerson proved to be an adequate defensive tackle; White never made the roster.

In a much happier deal, the Seahawks acquired their extra fourth round pick (which they used on E.J. Wilson, who didn’t pan out) and managed to get Chris Clemons from the Eagles (who very much DID pan out), and all we had to give up was Darryl Tapp.

More deals to come.  The Seahawks traded away their original fifth round pick to the Jets for Leon Washington and the Jets’ 7th round pick.  But, the Seahawks got back into the fifth round (ahead of their original pick) in a deal with Detroit where we also received some defensive end, where we only gave up Rob Sims (a guard who was never all that good with the Seahawks) and a seventh round pick.  The Seahawks would use that pick to draft Kam Chancellor, locking down their two starting safeties in the same class.

As far as I can tell, the Seahawks didn’t really get much from the undrafted free agent class of 2010, though Lemuel Jeanpierre and Breno Giacomini were both brought in that year.  And, obviously, the Seahawks would bring in Marshawn Lynch via trade during the season.  But, when you look at that draft class, you’ve got 6 key contributors, including 4 starters (Okung, Thomas, Tate, and Chancellor) and great ones at that.

That brings us to 2011, or the mule of the John Schneider draft classes.  It gets a lot of flack for being mediocre, but upon further review was pretty underrated.

To kick things off, the 7-9 Seahawks of 2010 were stupidly allowed into the playoffs by way of winning one of the worst divisions in recorded NFL history.  Even though that team had literally no chance of winning the Super Bowl, it still made some noise with the Beastquake run and the unlikely upset of the previous year’s Super Bowl champion Saints.  Of course, the Seahawks would go on to lose the very next week in Chicago, meaning that for all the hubbub, the Seahawks would end up picking 25th overall in the 2011 draft.

If you were like me, you saw this as a sign of doom.  The 2010 Seahawks were not good.  Not by a longshot.  And, to be hampered with drafting so low in the first round (and in subsequent rounds) would only set things back that much further.  Apparently unable to find a partner with which to trade back, the Seahawks made that selection James Carpenter, who started as our right tackle before getting bumped inside to guard.  Everyone thought this was a reach, and history has proven this to be true; Carpenter was adequate at best, but not a true impact player you’d hope to get in the first round.  Nevertheless, he was a starter all four years, so he wasn’t quite the crime against humanity everyone makes him out to be (indeed, his current salary with the Jets would speak to how other teams have come to value his strong run blocking abilities).

  • First Round, #25 – James Carpenter (OL)
  • Third Round, #75 – John Moffitt (G)
  • Fourth Round, #99 – K.J. Wright (LB)
  • Fourth Round, #107 – Kris Durham (WR)
  • Fifth Round, #154 – Richard Sherman (CB)
  • Fifth Round, #156 – Mark LeGree (S)
  • Sixth Round, #173 – Byron Maxwell (CB)
  • Seventh Round, #205 – Lazarius Levingston (DE)
  • Seventh Round, #242 – Malcolm Smith (LB)

The Seahawks ended up trading away their second round pick to the Lions to pick up an extra third & fourth round picks (used on Moffitt and Durham).  Recall they gave away their original third round pick in 2010 to get Charlie Whitehurst.  All in all, nothing too impressive with any of these moves, as Whitehurst was a bust, Moffitt ended up getting traded to Denver after a mediocre rookie season, and Durham never panned out with Seattle.  In that same Lions trade, the Seahawks moved up in the fifth and seventh rounds, which they used to grab Richard Sherman (GREAT!) and Lazarius Levingston (WHO?).

The Seahawks gave up their original fourth round pick in the Marshawn Lynch trade (as well as a conditional 2012 pick that ended up being a fifth rounder).  However, the Seahawks got back into the fourth round by trading Deion Branch back to the Patriots.  Branch was a turd sandwich in Seattle, and we used the pick we got from the Pats to grab K.J. Wright, who has been a stalwart for our linebacking corps.

That above trade wasn’t the last time we’d deal with the Lions.  In a spectacular move, the Seahawks traded away former bust under the Ruskell regime, Lawrence Jackson, to get the Lions’ sixth round pick, which we used to grab Byron Maxwell, a huge part of our success in his final two years here (and a great special teamer and backup overall).  That made up for giving away our original sixth round pick to the 49ers for Kentwan Balmer, who would go on to be cut prior to the 2011 season.

To wrap things up, the Seahawks traded their original seventh rounder to Philly for an offensive lineman who did nothing.  However, the Seahawks were granted a compensatory pick, which we used on Super Bowl MVP Malcolm Smith.

Among the 2011 undrafted free agents, we have Doug Baldwin (WR), Ricardo Lockette (WR), Jeron Johnson (S), and Mike Morgan (LB).  This would also be the year the Seahawks took a flyer on Brandon Browner from the CFL, among many other free agent acquisitions.

When you look at the haul of just the rookies, though, you’re talking about 10 contributors, including 5 starters (Carpenter, Wright, Sherman, Maxwell (eventually), and Baldwin).

That brings us to 2012, or one of the greatest draft classes you’ll ever see.  The 2011 were again 7-9, but thankfully weren’t saddled with a futile playoff appearance.  As such, they were granted the 12th overall selection, which they promptly traded to Philly to move back to 15.  The Seahawks were granted picks in the fourth (Jaye Howard, DT) and sixth round (Jeremy Lane, CB), and away we go!

  • First Round, #15 – Bruce Irvin (DE/LB)
  • Second Round, #47 – Bobby Wagner (LB)
  • Third Round, #75 – Russell Wilson (QB)
  • Fourth Round, #106 – Robert Turbin (RB)
  • Fourth Round, #114 – Jaye Howard (DT)
  • Fifth Round, #154 – Korey Toomer (LB)
  • Sixth Round, #172 – Jeremy Lane (CB)
  • Sixth Round, #181 – Winston Guy (S)
  • Seventh Round, #225 – J.R. Sweezy (G)
  • Seventh Round, #232 – Greg Scruggs (DE)

Not to be stopped, the Seahawks traded back in the second round as well, this time with the Jets.  We would pick up extra picks in the fifth and seventh rounds (Toomer & Scruggs, respectively).  That one didn’t totally pan out, though I would argue injuries to both players hampered their ability to make a significant impact early in their careers.  Nevertheless, you can sense a theme:  the Seahawks wanted as many picks in this draft as possible, as it was laden with talent.

No more trades until the seventh round, where the Seahawks got the pick they’d use to nab Sweezy from the Raiders, in addition to a conditional 2013 pick (which ended up being in the fifth round) for the privilege of jettisoning Aaron Curry (who would only last with the Raiders for a little over a year before being waived).  The Seahawks did trade away their original seventh rounder for Tyler Polumbus (from the Lions), who was a starter here, but wasn’t any good.

The Seahawks also got Jermaine Kearse (WR) and DeShawn Shead (CB) from the ranks of the undrafted free agents.  All told, this class netted the Seahawks 9 contributors, with 5 starters (Irvin, Wagner, Wilson, Sweezy, and Kearse), with Lane expected to start this year, given the big money he made this offseason to re-sign with the Seahawks.

Obviously, the 2012 squad made a huge leap, thanks to the Seahawks’ tremendous draft success.  In those three classes alone, you’re talking about 14 starters, and 25 contributors overall.  The 11-5 record, and first round victory against the Redskins, meant the Seahawks would draft 25th again in the first round in 2013 (as they did back in 2011).  In something of a stunner of a move, the Seahawks would trade away this pick, as well as its seventh rounder, and a 2014 third rounder, for the right to get Percy Harvin and sign him to an ill-advised huge free agent deal.

  • Second Round, #62 – Christine Michael (RB)
  • Third Round, #87 – Jordan Hill (DT)
  • Fourth Round, #123 – Chris Harper (WR)
  • Fifth Round, #137 – Jesse Williams (DT)
  • Fifth Round, #138 – Tharold Simon (CB)
  • Fifth Round, #158 – Luke Willson (TE)
  • Sixth Round, #194 – Spencer Ware (RB)
  • Seventh Round, #220 – Ryan Seymour (OL)
  • Seventh Round, #231 – Ty Powell (DE)
  • Seventh Round, #241 – Jared Smith (OL)
  • Seventh Round, #242 – Michael Bowie (OL)

The 2013 draft has proven to be the real dog of the John Schneider classes.  Nevertheless, let’s run through the moves that got it to where it was.  As a volume drafter, Schneider found multiple ways to recoup draft picks after spending so much on Percy Harvin.

To start, the Seahawks moved back in the second round, from 56 to 62, and received from the Ravens a fifth and a sixth (165 & 199).  As you can see from above, the Seahawks didn’t draft at either of those positions.  That’s because the Seahawks traded both of those picks to the Lions to get pick #137 (Williams) at the top of the fifth round.  The very next selection came from the Raiders in the Aaron Curry deal, which we used on Simon (who has been good, but has never been healthy).

The flurry of seventh rounders (none of whom were worth a damn) came from the Saints (pick 220, for some linebacker we gave them), and a couple of compensatory picks (#241 & #242).

Alvin Bailey was the only notable undrafted free agent in this class; he was a quality reserve along the offensive line, but nothing more.  All told, the Seahawks only managed to get one eventual starter in this class (Luke Willson, who has only been a starter thanks to injuries to Zach Miller and Jimmy Graham), and three other contributors (Michael, Hill, and Simon), though Spencer Ware got a crack at a job with the Chiefs and seems to be pretty good.

We all know what happened with that 2013 team, built on a rock solid foundation of draft picks.  Following that year, the team started to get picked apart a little bit, with free agents going to other teams.  With the 2013 class already looking like a bummer, the pressure was on John Schneider to right the ship with a banner 2014 draft.  He started it off by trading away our first round pick to the Vikings for a second straight year.  The Vikings would select Teddy Bridgewater with the 32nd pick in the class; the Seahawks would get Minnesota’s second and fourth round selections (40 & 108 overall).

Before Seattle could make a pick, we traded back again, this time with the Lions.  The Lions picked at 40, and also received our fifth round pick at 146 (which we got from the Raiders for Matt Flynn) in exchange for second, fourth, and seventh rounders from Detroit (45, 111, & 227).  At 45, the Seahawks finally made their first pick, selecting Paul Richardson.

  • Second Round, #45 – Paul Richardson (WR)
  • Second Round, #64 – Justin Britt (OL)
  • Fourth Round, #108 – Cassius Marsh (DE)
  • Fourth Round, #123 – Kevin Norwood (WR)
  • Fourth Round, #132 – Kevin Pierre-Louis (LB)
  • Fifth Round, #172 – Jimmy Staten (DT)
  • Sixth Round, #199 – Garrett Scott (OL)
  • Sixth Round, #208 – Eric Pinkins (DB/LB)
  • Seventh Round, #227 – Kiero Small (FB)

To make up for the loss of our third rounder (to the Vikings, in the Harvin deal the previous year), you can see why the Seahawks wanted to trade back so many times to start the draft.  They were able to pick up two extra fourth rounders.  That pick we got from the Vikings would go to Marsh, who has been a quality reserve and special teamer.  The Seahawks would use that 111th pick to trade with the Bengals to get pick 123 (Norwood) and an extra sixth rounder (Scott, who never made the team due to health concerns).  That seventh rounder from Detroit ended up being Kiero Small, who also didn’t make the team (the Seahawks would trade away their original seventh round pick to the Raiders for Terrelle Pryor, who never amounted to much of anything).

Among the undrafted free agents, we grabbed Garry Gilliam (OL), Brock Coyle (LB), and Dion Bailey (S).  At first glance, this class doesn’t look any more impressive than the 2013 class, but there are a number of under-the-radar players in there.  Right now, we’re looking at 2 starters (Britt and Gilliam), with four other contributors (Richardson, Marsh, KPL, and Coyle).  Depth guys, special teams guys, people to round out the roster.  When you figure so many of this team’s starters were already on the team ahead of this class, it’s not like you’re talking about a huge number of available openings.  Granted, a lot of this class hinges on Britt and Gilliam improving, and Richardson remaining healthy for a full season.  Should they fail, then you could make an argument that THIS is indeed the worst class of the John Schneider era.  But, until another couple years pass, it’s still TBD.

A second Super Bowl appearance for the 2014 squad meant that the 2015 Seahawks would be drafting quite low again.  With the obvious disaster of the Harvin trade looming over the franchise, the Seahawks opted to take another swing for the fences, trading away their first rounder (along with Max Unger) to the Saints for Jimmy Graham (and their fourth round pick, #112 overall).  We kick off the 2015 draft DEEP into the second round, with a controversial pick in Frank Clark (with domestic abuse allegations swirling around him, yet with an obvious cliff after him with regards to pass rushers in this draft class).

  • Second Round, #63 – Frank Clark (DE)
  • Third Round, #69 – Tyler Lockett (WR)
  • Fourth Round, #130 – Terry Poole (OL)
  • Fourth Round, #134 – Mark Glowinski (G)
  • Fifth Round, #170 – Tye Smith (CB)
  • Sixth Round, #209 – Obum Gwacham (DE)
  • Sixth Round, #214 – Kristjan Sokoli (OL)
  • Seventh Round, #248 – Ryan Murphy (DB)

The Seahawks had a ton of extra picks in this draft, which I’ll get to below.  They used a package of third (95), fourth (112), fifth (167), and sixth (181) round picks to move up to #69 from the Redskins.  That pick at 95 was our original third rounder.  That fourth rounder at 112 came from the Saints in the Jimmy Graham deal.  That fifth rounder at 167 was our original fifth rounder.  And that sixth rounder at 181 came from the Jets when we gave them Percy Harvin.  So, obviously, we sent away two picks that we got in deals, and two original picks.  We were more than happy to do so because 1) Tyler Lockett is a special player, and 2) we had extra picks throughout.

Poole was from our original fourth round pick; Glowinski was from a compensatory pick.  Tye Smith was also a compensatory pick, as were both of our sixth round guys (Gwacham and Sokoli).  That’s what you get when you don’t over-pay to keep your own players who aren’t necessarily worth big-money deals.

The only notable undrafted free agent from 2015 was Thomas Rawls, who very well may be our starting running back in 2016.  Combine him with Lockett (a Pro Bowl returner, and #3 wide receiver), Clark (valued rotation guy on the D-Line), Glowinski (projected starter at right guard in 2016), and Tye Smith (someone who will battle for minutes this pre-season) and you’ve got the makings of a very good draft class, that could be great if some of these players turn into elite starters.

With the 2016 draft class supposedly dripping with talent throughout, it wouldn’t be crazy to see the best Seahawks draft class since 2012.  Obviously, we’re drafting pretty low again, this year at #26, but with compenatory selections, the Seahawks already have 9 picks to select from, with a real opportunity to trade down in the first round to pick up some more (and gain some flexibility within the draft, in case we want to move up later).

I’m pretty excited for this year’s draft.  I’m sure I won’t know who these players are when I hear their names, but over the ensuing months, I look forward to getting to know them.

Seahawks Lose Bruce Irvin

I won’t be writing posts about every Seahawks player who signs with another team, but I feel exceptions should be made for a former first round pick (15th overall) who has been a regular contributor all four years and a starter for the last three (give or take).

This is just a simple case of Can’t Keep Everybody, plain and simple.  The Seahawks have so much money tied to players already on contract, with huge chunks going to our star players.  I mean, look at these cap hits for 2016:

  • Russell Wilson – over $18 million
  • Richard Sherman – over $14 million
  • Earl Thomas – nearly $10 million
  • Jimmy Graham – $9 million
  • Michael Bennett – $7 million (for now)

And so on and so forth.  When you add to that the fact that so many other teams have so much money to throw around, it’s plain to see that the Seahawks are going to be losing some guys.  Bruce Irvin is one of those unfortunate casualties.

I’m pretty high on Irvin; I have been for a long time.  He was noted as one of the best pure pass rushers coming out of the 2012 draft, and I believe that to be a fitting description.  He came out of the box with 8 sacks as a rookie, but he was a little undersized to play defensive end (see:  the loss to the Falcons in the playoffs in 2012, after we lost Chris Clemons to injury).  His 2013 season was one of transition as the team moved him to linebacker, but he re-hit his stride in 2014 and 2015 as a linebacker with heavy pass rushing responsibilities.  He’s athletic as all get-out, which is why the transition was such a success, and I feel like he’s got a long and fruitful career ahead of him.  Even if he ends up losing a step in his advancing years and/or puts on a little more weight, you can just put him back on the line as a defensive end, and he should be able to continue being awesome.

Now, you may be thinking, “Well, if he was so great, why didn’t the Seahawks find a way to keep him?”  And that’s valid.  The whole Can’t Keep Everybody thing is true, but if he was REALLY a priority for the Seahawks, they would’ve shuffled some other players out, shuffled some money around, and figured out a way to keep him here.  That’s just a fact.  If nothing else, they could have used their 5th Year Option on him before last season and at least guaranteed that he’d be here in 2016, allowing us an extra year to get a long-term deal done.

With Bruce Irvin, I’ll never use the word “bust” to describe him, because he was a talented and vital cog in our defense.  But, I think the team and the fans had different expectations for a guy drafted in the middle of the first round.  A guy being touted as the best pass rusher in the draft (or, at least one of the best 2 or 3 when he came out).  For starters, while the Seahawks were the ones touting him that high, the rest of the football universe saw Bruce Irvin as a reach.  Many had a 2nd round grade on him, but I don’t know if that was more for character concerns than actual talent levels.  Either way, as it started to come out that teams like the Jets and various others were thinking about either moving up to grab him, or take him if he fell to their spots in the first round, the sentiment on that draft choice started to slowly change.  And, when you factor in his 8 sacks as a rookie, it might have been reasonable to think we had a phenom on our hands.

Part of what I’m going to call his regression had to do with the Seahawks being stacked across the board in 2013.  They didn’t really have the time or the opportunity to bring him along slowly.  The Seahawks brought in Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril to join Chris Clemons as the team’s primary pass rushing defensive ends.  With Irvin’s limitations in the run game exposed as a rookie, the team obviously wasn’t going to give up on him, so they did what they thought was best for the team, and that was converting him to strong-side linebacker.  That obviously cut into his opportunities to get after the quarterback, and his sack totals suffered accordingly.  Not that he didn’t contribute in other ways, but when you draft a guy 15th overall as a defensive end/pass rusher, you expect more than the 6 sacks per year that he averaged over the last two years of his deal.

As I’ve said repeatedly, I think his best years are still ahead of him.  I think good pass rushing defensive ends age like a fine wine as they gain more experience and learn different techniques to use against offensive linemen.  And, quite frankly, I think if Irvin had been given a chance to work out his craft exclusively as a defensive end, we would’ve seen better numbers out of him.  But, if that would’ve cost us someone like Avril or Bennett, or if it would’ve cost us our Super Bowl championship in 2013, obviously I’m going to agree with what the Seahawks decided to do.

By all accounts, the Oakland Raiders – with Ken Norton Jr. as their defensive coordinator – have brought him in on a huge deal (makes sense, since they had a ton of money to spend).  I think he’s going to be a good player for them for a good many years.  They may ultimately wind up winning the free agency period of this offseason with the moves they’re making.

As for the Seahawks, in keeping with the Can’t Keep Everybody philosophy, I’ll add one more:  you Can’t Pay All Your Linebackers.  Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright are counting over $12 million against our cap this year combined.  Throwing a third big money linebacker into that stew would too closely resemble the travesty that were the later Tim Ruskell years, when he gave big money deals to Lofa Tatupu, Leroy Hill, and Julian Peterson.  It’s just unnecessary!  The Seahawks could re-sign Mike Morgan, pay him next to nothing, and put him right into the starting lineup without missing much of a beat.  We’ve still got KPL, who’s got the speed to play weakside linebacker, which could push K.J. Wright to the strong side.  And, we’ve got any number of draft picks to play around with.  You’re telling me we can’t find the next K.J. Wright in the 4th or 5th round this year?  Please!

Losing Bruce Irvin is the end of a fun era.  The sky was the limit as far as his potential was concerned, and it’s always fun to dream.  While he may not have lived up to our original expectations, I’m more impressed with the way he adapted and made the most out of a difficult situation.  He very easily could have taken that position-switch as a demotion and sulked about it forever.  He very easily could have simply never adjusted or been able to learn the position of linebacker, making him an athlete without a home.  But, he put in the work, he learned the position, and he played well enough to garner significant interest from across the league, parlaying that into a big money deal.  Best of all?  He’s in the AFC, and for the most part out of our hair.  The last thing I want to see is Bruce Irvin making us pay for not keeping him.

Still, though, it’s bittersweet.  That 2012 draft class will go down in history as the best ever for the Seahawks, despite what Bleacher Report thought at the time.  Bruce Irvin, first round, defensive end turned starting linebacker.  Bobby Wagner, second round, starting middle linebacker, All Pro.  Russell Wilson, third round, starting quarterback, Pro Bowler.  Robert Turbin, fourth round, backup running back.  Jaye Howard, fourth round, defensive tackle & productive starter for the Chiefs.  Jeremy Lane, sixth round, backup/nickel cornerback (potential starter starting this year).  J.R. Sweezy, seventh round, starting right guard all four years.

I want to come back, after all their new contracts get finalized, and see just how much money this class is going to be making on their second deals.  Aside from Turbin – who was truly a solid backup, but ultimately is nobody’s starter – we’re talking about six guys who should all make significant money!  In one draft class!  That’s fucking incredible!

And, unfortunately, a lot of those guys will be making that money for other teams.  End of an era indeed.

My Top 25 All Time Favorite Seattle Seahawks

With Beastmode’s retirement this week, I thought I’d take stock and reflect upon where he lands among my all time favorite Seattle Seahawks.  While he’s my favorite over the last quarter century, he comes up just short of my all time fave.

I should probably point out that my knowledge of the Seahawks prior to the 1990s is pretty limited (I was born in 1981).  As such, you won’t find many of the old-timers.  Indeed, only 5 of my 25 played prior to 1990, and none of those five are named Dave Krieg, Jim Zorn, or Curt Warner.  Zorn was a guy I never saw play, Warner was always hurt when I started watching football, and the years I watched Dave Krieg were those loser years where he heavily contributed to his standing as one of the most fumble-prone quarterbacks in NFL history.  If I never again see Dave Krieg raise his arm back to pass, only to watch in horror as the ball gets flung backwards thanks to his criminally under-sized hands, it’ll be too soon.

Among the actual Honorable Mentions are the following:

Ricky Watters – a guy who reminds me a lot of Beastmode, but unfortunately didn’t play with us quite long enough to merit breaking through; Chris Warren – very underrated back, who unfortunately was saddled by a lot of mediocre Seahawks teams; Eugene Robinson – solid safety for some solid defenses; Michael Sinclair – second on Seattle’s all-time sacks list; Cliff Avril – who could potentially climb into the Top 25 one day, if he continues to produce the way he has; Red Bryant – mostly a fan favorite type, who I was happy to see find a role in the early Pete Carroll years; Robbie Tobeck – helped solidify the greatest offensive line in team history during the Holmgren years; Steve Hutchinson – who gets a bad rap even though it was Tim Ruskell who dicked him over first; Rocky Bernard – an underrated interior defensive lineman who this team would kill to have right now; Sam Adams – someone who blossomed after he left the Seahawks (and someone who I randomly have a signed jersey from); Bobby Engram – who was Doug Baldwin before Doug Baldwin; Chad Brown – who gets overlooked a little bit because he came from the Steelers, but still played quality football for his Seahawks tenure; Rufus Porter – a speed rusher off the edge and another fan favorite type; Zach Miller – who I’ll always respect for his toughness even though he got injured a lot; and Joe Nash – who would be my #26 if this list went that long, because he was an awesome nose tackle for this team who played here FOREVER.

Anyway, without further ado, My Top 25 All Time Favorite Seattle Seahawks:

1.  Steve Largent – He was this team’s first Hall of Famer, and when he retired, he had most – if not all – of the wide receiver records before they were broken.  When I started getting into football in the late 80s, there was every reason to be a fan of some other team in some other city, as those Seahawks teams were okay, but nothing special.  The 49ers had Joe Montana and Jerry Rice, the Raiders (who were a particular favorite among my elementary school classmates) had Bo Jackson (’nuff said), the Redskins, Oilers, Dolphins, and Bengals were all loaded with talent.  I don’t totally remember my thinking on this one, but I’m certainly convinced now that I would never have become a Seahawks fan if it weren’t for Steve Largent.  I mean, yeah, they’re the local team, so it’s easy to say I’d just stick with that as the reason, but throughout the 1990s, I used to mock this team relentlessly, and would frequently bet my family members that the Seahawks would lose (and won quite a bit of cash in the process, for a kid in the 1990s anyway).  But, I could always hang my hat that at one point, Steve Largent played for the Seahawks and was the best player at his position.  Also, didn’t hurt that I got to meet him at an autograph signing at the Tacoma Mall.  It was many hours of waiting in line, but it was worth it.

2.  Marshawn Lynch – Unlike many of the guys on this list, who were either career Seahawks, or played many more years here, Lynch became a favorite of mine in a little over 5 and a half seasons.  His bruising style of play, all the highlight runs, and his abilities as a receiver and blocker make him not only the most complete running back in franchise history, but one of the very best overall players we’ve ever seen in a Seahawks uniform, including the other Hall of Famers coming up next on this list.

3.  Cortez Kennedy – It’s hard to pick one over the other when it comes to Tez and Big Walt; both are consummate bad asses.  While you could make the argument that Walter Jones was the best player at his position in NFL history (which I do), I don’t think I’d necessarily put Cortez Kennedy as the best defensive tackle in NFL history (though, to be fair, I haven’t tried ranking them all, so who knows?).  What I will say is that what won me over in Tez’s favor is his Defensive Player of the Year Award in 1992.  First of all, it’s hard as fuck for a DT to win that award (there have only been two other players since 1992 at that position to win that award – Dana Stubblefield & Warren Sapp).  Secondly, no player at any position has ever won the award while playing on a shittier team (the Seahawks were 2-14 that year).  But, such is the fierce brutality that was Cortez Kennedy (who ranks 4th all time in franchise history for sacks); he finished that season with 14 sacks, 4 forced fumbles, and a whopping 92 tackles.  Let me repeat:  92 tackles!!!  There are linebackers who don’t get that many tackles, and here we are, looking at a DT who got 92 tackles.  Just insane!  To compare, Stubblefield in 1997 had 15 sacks, 3 forced fumbles, and only 48 tackles; Sapp in 1999 had 12.5 sacks, 4 forced fumbles, and only 27 tackles (that wasn’t even Sapp’s best season, but regardless, he never surpassed 50 tackles in a season, so that point is moot).  Tez frequently battled double- and triple-teams throughout his career, and was still a God damn hurricane to deal with in the middle.  It’s just too bad he couldn’t be rewarded with more playoff appearances.

4.  Walter Jones – If you went pound for pound, you’re probably talking about the very best player the Seahawks have ever had.  With Bad-Assery being a theme, they don’t get much more bad-ass than this guy.  He was repeatedly franchise tagged, repeatedly held out in training camp and in the pre-season, then showed up right before the regular season started not only in tremendous shape, but ready to start from Game 1.  Then, when you tack on his training regimen of him pulling Cadillacs to get ready for the season, and I think I need to go lie down for a while because I just got winded writing that statement.

5.  Matt Hasselbeck – This is probably where things start to get a little more fluid.  In five years, I would anticipate someone like Russell Wilson will have surpassed someone like Matt Hasselbeck.  Indeed, many fans might disagree with me, but I gotta admit I’m still a pretty big Hasselbeck fan.  He led this team to its first Super Bowl appearance, which is always going to be huge, even if the result isn’t what we wanted.  Where his talent may be lacking compared to a guy like Wilson, his personality and charm in the media more than makes up for it.  It’s always WAY more entertaining to hear a Hasselbeck interview than a Wilson interview.  I know, that means little compared to on-field accomplishments, and as I mentioned above, Wilson will probably pass him in a few short years.  But, for now, I hold Hasselbeck in higher esteem.

6.  Richard Sherman – This future Hall of Famer has nowhere to go but up on this list.  Pretty unlikely leader in the clubhouse of Legion of Boom participants, but Sherm has been the most consistently elite through the 2015 season.

7.  Shaun Alexander – He gets a bad rap for not being Marshawn Lynch, but I think a lot of fans forget just how great he really was.  If he didn’t start breaking down towards the end, he was well on his way towards getting into the Hall of Fame.  As it stands, he was one of the best two or three running backs in the NFL for a good five-year period.  He should be a shoo-in for the Ring of Honor, if the Seahawks ever get around to putting more people in there.

8.  Brandon Mebane – Love this dude.  He won’t be a Hall of Famer, he won’t have his number retired, he might not even make the Ring of Honor when it’s all said and done.  But, he was one of the better Tim Ruskell draft picks.  As a third rounder, he got on the field right away and has been a staple for this defensive line ever since.  Nine years in, he looks as good as ever, and I hope the team retains him so he can retire as a Seahawk.

9.  Kenny Easley – He’s the only player on this list who I don’t really remember watching play live.  So, I’m really basing his ranking on highlights and on testimonials from players around the league who talk about this guy with some of the highest reverence I’ve ever seen.  If his career wasn’t shortened by kidney disease, he’d be in the Hall of Fame right now.  Compared to Ronnie Lott, he’s the only other Seahawk to win the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year award, in 1984, when he had 10 interceptions (2 returned for touchdown).  As it stands, he’s a Ring of Honor guy, and the best safety in franchise history (eventually to be surpassed by the next guy on this list).

10.  Earl Thomas – He’s our Ed Reed.  Our Troy Polamalu.  Our All Pro Machine striving to be the best this game has ever seen.  The only thing that could cut him short on his quest is if he succumbs to injuries.  His dedication to the game and being the best puts him in my Top 10.

11.  Russell Wilson – Seems criminally low, I know.  I don’t think it’ll be too much longer before he’s in my Top 10.  Maybe even one more season.  The way he’s playing right now, and with Lynch’s retirement, this will be HIS offense.  If he manages to carry this team to unknown levels of awesomeness, I think he’s destined to skyrocket up my list.

12.  Jacob Green – He was an absolute monster throughout the 80s, racking up the most sacks in franchise history with 97.5 (and that doesn’t even include his first two seasons, when the NFL didn’t record sacks as an official stat).  Certainly one of the more underrated defensive ends of the 80s.

13.  Joey Galloway – Probably another controversial pick – especially this high in the rankings – but I don’t care.  He only really played 4 seasons for the Seahawks before holding out for 8 games in his fifth year before forcing Holmgren’s hand, but those four years were outstanding!  He was an elite return man from the get-go, and a big play machine on offense as well.  If we only could have paired him with a competent quarterback (he was saddled with Rick Mirer, John Friesz, and Jon Kitna before we were able to get Warren Moon in here for a couple of injury-plagued years towards the end of his career) he might have been even better, for as crazy as that sounds.  Still, even the way he left things wasn’t so bad, as we ended up getting two first round draft picks (one of which we used to nab Shaun Alexander, with the other being traded for multiple picks so we could get Koren Robinson, Heath Evans, and some backup offensive lineman I’ve never heard of).

14.  Doug Baldwin – Another player whose ranking could go way up on my list if we manage to keep him on the team beyond his current contract.  He’s proven to be a clutch possession receiver, as well as a guy capable of making bigger plays downfield, and as of 2015, a touchdown monster.  To think an undrafted receiver who has started since his rookie year could still be getting better in his fifth season is pretty amazing.  I want to see the Wilson to Baldwin connection continue for at least the next half decade, if not longer.

15.  Golden Tate – Maybe another controversial pick, but I like who I like, and I like me some Golden Tate.  I kind of dismissed him when he left for Detroit, as we still had Percy Harvin, after all.  But, when Harvin proved to be a huge chump, I’ve longed for Tate’s big play ability ever since.  His loss is now mitigated by the drafting of Tyler Lockett, but there’s still a lot to like about a guy like Tate who was another outsize personality on a team full of ’em.  A guy who got under the skin of opposing defenders (like the fucking Rams, for instance).  And a guy who played bigger than his size.  Not extending him, in favor of bringing in Harvin, is a move this team continues to regret.

16.  Brian Blades – The wide receiver parade marches on, with Blades, who played significant minutes for a rookie under Chuck Knox, and who eventually went on to replace a legend in Steve Largent as this team’s #1.  He was never super flashy, and only made one Pro Bowl in his career, but he’s this team’s second-leading career pass catcher.  He has the team’s second-most receiving yards, and is fifth in touchdowns.

17.  K.J. Wright – He cracks this in large part due to recency bias.  He’s been here for five years, has played all three linebacker spots, has only missed a small handful of games, and should be in the Top 10 in franchise history in tackles by this time next year.  I love his smarts, his professionalism, his toughness, and the fact that on a defense full of superstars, he just quietly goes about his business of being consistently great.  He’s never been to a Pro Bowl, and probably never will, but when it’s all said and done, he’ll go down as one of the best linebackers in Seahawks history.

18.  Marcus Trufant – He was rarely flashy, but he was a first round pick and a starter from day 1.  He made a Pro Bowl in 2007 when he had 7 picks, and it doesn’t hurt that he was a local kid who made good.  And, not for nothing, but we went to the same high school and played on the same Freshman football team (he was the superstar, I was the third string right tackle who never ACTUALLY got to share a field with him on gameday, because I was terrible).

19.  Michael Bennett – In three short years, Bennett is already #10 on Seattle’s all time sacks list.  Of course, he’s so much more than sacks, but that’s still pretty impressive.  With his ability to play both inside and outside, against the run and against the pass, he’s probably the most talented defensive lineman in franchise history (just behind Tez, that is).  If we can keep him happy and playing through the end of this contract – or onto another if he keeps producing – he could easily shoot up this list as well.

20.  Kam Chancellor – He took a bit of a hit this year with his holdout.  I don’t mind a guy who holds out of training camp and/or the pre-season, but I tend to draw the line when a guy starts missing regular season games (and starts costing us those games with his absence).  Truth be told, his 2015 was far from ideal; but, that doesn’t wash away the previous four years of amazingness.  If we can make him happy again and keep him around a few more years, he’ll return to his rightful place among the Top 15 or Top 10 on this list.  For now, it’s sort of Wait & See mode, for fans and the franchise alike.

21.  Lofa Tatupu – His career was relatively brief, but man did he shine bright!  In only six years (one of them severely injury-marred), he made three Pro Bowls, one first team All Pro, and cracked the top 10 in tackles in Seahawks history.  THIS is the best draft pick of Ruskell’s tenure, and a big reason why this team made the Super Bowl during the 2005 season.

22.  Darrell Jackson – Fourth in franchise history in receptions, second in touchdown receptions, and the number 1 receiver for most of Matt Hasselbeck’s time here.  His reputation was somewhat tainted by drops early in his career, but I feel he more than made up for it from 2003 through 2006.  Another guy who never made a Pro Bowl, and will probably never make the Ring of Honor, but he’s a big part of those Holmgren teams that brought the Seahawks to a level of respectability we’d never seen to that point.

23.  John L. Williams – Listed as a fullback, but he was really a do-it-all type of back.  He had hands like a receiver (3rd all time in receptions, 6th all time in receiving yards in Seahawks history), had quicks like a running back (fifth all time in rushing yards in Seahawks history, 9th in rushing touchdowns), and the size of a bruising fullback (5’11, 231 lbs), he could really do it all.  In an era that pre-dates these types of specialty backs who are equally as good at catching as rushing (LaDainian Tomlinson, Marshall Faulk, etc.), John L. Williams was truly a trailblazer.  He’s securely third place in franchise history in total yards from scrimmage (behind bellcow back Shaun Alexander with 10,940 total yards, and Hall of Fame receiver Steve Largent, who had a total of 13,172 yards), ahead of other, more notable, running backs like Curt Warner, Marshawn Lynch, and Chris Warren.  John L. played largely a reserve role, as a third or fourth option for this offense for most of his tenure here, but he played that role splendidly.

24.  Bobby Wagner – He’s been great since his rookie year, I only expect further greatness going forward.  He’s another who could easily skyrocket up this list, the longer he remains the quarterback of the greatest defense we’ve ever seen.

25.  Jermaine Kearse – What can I say?  He’s another local kid, another undrafted free agent, who worked his way through the practice squad into being this team’s #2 receiver.  Doesn’t hurt that he’s a Husky.  Also doesn’t hurt that he’s made some of the biggest catches in franchise history, including the 4th down touchdown against the 49ers in the NFC Championship Game, and the game-winning touchdown against the Packers the very next year in the NFCCG (not to mention the super-human TD catch in Super Bowl XLVIII, and the beyond-human bobbling/diving catch in Super Bowl XLIX).  He might have played his last down in a Seahawks uniform, and if so, I’ll be sad.  But, I’ll also be happy for a guy who started at the bottom and worked his way into a contract that was too big for the Seahawks to match.

On Day 3, Seahawks Draft Other Guys

There was a brief smattering of reports that the Seahawks might trade up to the very top of the fourth round.  It was an exciting way to kick off the final day of the NFL Draft, except when you looked at the fact that the Seahawks only had two possible picks they could’ve traded this year (one being that one at the end of the 4th), which would’ve meant that we would’ve had to give up a player and/or future picks.  Ultimately, nothing happened (thank Christ), and we stuck with the picks we had.

  • Terry Poole (4th Round, OL)
  • Mark Glowinski (4th Round, OL)
  • Tye Smith (5th Round, CB)
  • Obum Gwacham (6th Round, DE)
  • Kristjan Sokoli (6th Round, OL)
  • Ryan Smith-Murphy (7th Round, S)

Poole was a tackle in college who is being groomed to compete for our starting left guard position.  In theory, he can play any position – including center – so it’ll be interesting to see how it shakes out.

Glowinski is a guard who could probably play either guard spot (or, again, maybe even center).  The Seahawks are going to give him a shot at competing for right guard (but, with Sweezy already pretty locked in there, it seems like Glowinski is being groomed to either be Sweezy’s replacement, or to be a general backup on the line).

Sokoli (if you’ll permit me to skip a few picks), was a defensive tackle in college.  He’s another convert a la Sweezy.  They’re going to try him out at center, but you gotta figure he could play any of the guard positions as well.

This day went HEAVY on the heavy guys.  That’s pretty good to see.  Okung is still around, but he’s a free agent after the 2015 season.  Same thing for Sweezy.  At the moment, we’ve got Patrick Lewis and Lemuel Jeanpierre battling for the center position, so it’s always nice to have more competition in the ranks.  Alvin Bailey is a career backup who will be competing exclusively for the left guard spot.  You don’t want to just hand over the position to someone without at least kicking the tires on a few others.

The point is, the Seahawks were quite thin along the offensive line.  Many projected it to be our greatest need coming into the draft.  Many were disappointed we didn’t go after someone on the second day of the draft, but it is what it is.  The Seahawks picked up three freakishly athletic guys who will be able to compete right away for starting jobs.  The Seahawks also got three guys who should be able to move around along the line.  If Okung gets injured, Bailey or Poole could kick outside and we should be fine.  If Sweezy goes down, Poole or Glow or Bailey could line up over there.  That’s something you gotta have, because when was the last time the Seahawks had the same offensive line for a full season without any injuries?  2005?  It just doesn’t happen anymore.

Tye Smith fills a need at the cornerback slot.  With Jeremy Lane injured (and probably set to miss extensive time in the regular season), and with Byron Maxwell now playing for the Eagles, the Seahawks have some real work to do.  Cary Williams was picked up in free agency, so at least we’ve got some veteran experience opposite of Sherman.  We also still have Tharold Simon who will be in his third year.  If he’s going to make the jump to everyday starter, this will be the year.  Marcus Burley is still around as a nickel guy.  Tye Smith figures to get a chance at being an outside corner, but failing that we could still see him in on some nickel packages.  He’s a good press corner – which is what we do in this defense – so here’s to hoping he proves his worth quickly and we don’t get stuck relying on Cary Williams too much.

Obum Gwacham (pronounced O-Boom) is the consummate raw project.  As a rookie, he probably tops out as a special teamer.  But, with his speed, his height, and his tools, if he picks up the game and runs with it, he could be an effective pass rusher at some point down the line.  If I had to guess, he either lands on the Practice Squad and/or the Injured Reserve for the first two years of his career.  If he makes the team any earlier than that, then you have to figure we might just have something great on our hands.

Ryan Smith-Murphy is a 6’3 Safety out of Oregon State.  We picked him late in the 7th round because it was always going to be difficult for this team to sign a quality safety as an undrafted free agent.  That’s what these 7th round picks are for.  We do have room for another backup safety, so he’ll go in there to compete, but it’s hard to really project anything on a 7th rounder.  Still, every year there’s at least a couple undrafted guys who make the team.  If he’s special, he’ll find a way to stick.  If he’s REALLY special, we may have found another Kam Chancellor-type.

The Seahawks filled a lot of needs in this draft.  Pass rush, wide receiver, and offensive line being the top three.  Of course, we won’t know how to properly grade this draft for at least a couple years, but this one feels like the best draft we’ve had since 2012, which comes just in the nick of time.  If Clark stays out of trouble, he could be a great one.  I already expect Lockett to be a solid receiver for us for a long time.  Our offensive line needs were addressed by guys who Tom Cable should have ready to start right away if need be.  We picked up a corner who this team should be able to coach up.  And, we got some athletic prospects towards the bottom who have high ceilings if everything breaks right.

When you’re the Seahawks, and you’re constantly drafting near the bottom of every round, you’ve got to take chances to stand out.  Tim Ruskell’s Seahawks would’ve selected the guys with the fewest red flags.  He would’ve made the safest picks, the guys with low ceilings but higher floors, ultimately spinning the wheels of mediocrity.  John Schneider takes chances because he wants to find greatness in the later rounds.  Sure, some of his picks might flame out spectacularly, but when he hits on guys, they tend to hit pretty big.  If you can find players late in rounds who are capable of cracking THIS roster – which is already at an elite level – then you know you’ve done your job.

I’m starting to get really excited for Training Camp again.  Good work, Seahawks.

Why I Worry About The Carolina Panthers

The date:  May 7, 1994.

The location:  Seattle, Washington.

The situation:  Number 1 seed from Seattle in a do-or-die game against a bottom-feeder in the playoffs.

The matchup:  Seattle Supersonics vs. Denver Nuggets.

The result:  A 98-94 overtime defeat.

I won’t rehash the specifics, nor will I pull the iconic photo/video, as I’m sure any of you around at the time must be picturing the giant’s massive hands clutching the basketball while laying on the court, laughing maniacally.  I’ll just say this:  in 1994, the Seattle Supersonics were the consensus Best Team In The NBA (thanks to Michael Jordan “retiring”).  And, with that defeat, the Seattle Supersonics became the first Number 1 seed to ever lose to a Number 8 seed.  While that feat has happened a number of times since then, everyone will always remember the first time.  That’s just the way it works.  Dikembe Mutombo may or may not ever be a Hall of Famer, but he’ll always be remembered for this achievement.

The 1993/1994 Supersonics weren’t the best squad in team history, but you could argue that the 1994 playoffs were our best chance at winning an NBA title in my lifetime (dating back to 1981).  We had a 2-year window without Michael Jordan lurking in the Eastern Conference.  We blew year-one of that window in spectacular fashion.

As a fan of Seattle sports teams, I don’t know if I’ll ever get over my insecurities.  The Sonics teams from 1993 thru 1998 were some of the best teams in the league.  In the 1993 playoffs, we reached the Western Conference Finals as a 3-seed, only to get screwed out of our shot at a championship by the refs in Game 7 against the Phoenix Suns.  In 1994, we had the best record in the NBA by five games over second place.  In 1995, we had the 4-seed and again lost in the first round (though, admittedly, that team was pretty flawed).  In 1996, we were back to being the best in the Western Conference, our regular season record only overshadowed by the record-setting Bulls who went 72-10.  We would go on to lose in the Finals that year to those very same Bulls, and I’ll go to my grave believing that was the greatest team in NBA history.  In 1997, the Sonics were a 2-seed in the West, losing to the Rockets in the semis, 4-3.  Finally, in 1998, the Sonics were again a 2-seed in the West, losing to Shaq and the Lakers in 5 games in the semis.

That was the entirety of our championship window.  It was a spectacular six seasons, with the Sonics going 357-135 (that’s an average record of 59.5-22.5 per season).  The Sonics fired George Karl after that 1997/1998 season and fell into a death spiral shortly after.  And, what did we have to show for it?  Two oustings in the first round, two defeats in the second round, two trips to the Conference Finals, and a meager six games in the NBA Finals (with only two Finals victories).  Until these Seahawks teams under Pete Carroll came around, those were the greatest teams I’d ever rooted for in my lifetime.  And, yet, a lot of flukey shit led to that championship window closing without a dent in the history books.

***

The date:  October 22, 2001.

The location:  Bronx, New York.

The situation:  Team from Seattle with the best-ever regular season record in a do-or-die game against a team that won 21 fewer games that year.

The matchup:  Seattle Mariners vs. New York Yankees.

The result:  A 12-3 defeat to lose the series in five games.

I’ll give you that this isn’t really apples to apples when compared to the heartbreak of having a #1 seed lose to a #8 seed; but, we’re talking about the greatest regular season record in MLB history!  116 wins!  The second place team in the AL West – Oakland – won over 100 games and was FOURTEEN games back in the standings!

The Mariners had a championship window from 1995-2003.  In that time, we had four playoff appearances, losing in the ALCS three times and losing in the ALDS once.  In this 9-year window, there were two losing seasons and three other winning seasons where the Mariners DIDN’T make the playoffs (including back-to-back 93-win seasons where we were nipped by superior Athletics teams).

Baseball’s a different beast than most other sports.  It requires enduring success through a too-long regular season, followed by a hot spurt through a large handful of post-season games.  In the NBA, the best team almost always wins it all, thanks to the sheer number of teams granted admission into the playoffs and the number of games they’re supposed to play in every round.  In baseball, all you have to do is make it in and let the chips fall where they may.  The best team DOESN’T always win in MLB, that’s what you gotta remember.

The 2001 Mariners were the best team in franchise history, hands down.  And yet, they were made into mincemeat by the Yankees, who were “built for the post-season”.

Like the Sonics before them, this championship window by the Mariners closed with a whimper.  There hasn’t been a playoff team for the Mariners SINCE 2001.  While many believe 2015 will be the beginning of another Mariners championship window, that still remains to be seen.  162 games need to be played, against some fierce AL West competition.  So, we’ll see.

***

The Seahawks play the Panthers on January 10, 2015.  The Seahawks are the top seed in the NFC, and a consensus favorite to reach the Super Bowl with the New England Patriots of the AFC.  The Panthers are just the second team with a losing record to make the playoffs.  They defeated an injury-plagued Cardinals team in the first round.

Why am I worried about this game?  It’s the same reason why I SHOULD have been worried about the ’94 Nuggets and the 2001 Yankees.  Truth be told, that Nuggets series was my first real taste of the brutality that is being a sports fan.  There’s A LOT of heartache for not that much elation.  As a 13 year old basketball fan just starting to garner interest in the sport and follow it with some knowledge of the game, I was probably overwhelmingly confident in the Sonics going all the way.  Having the rug ripped out from under me was the start of a long, painful decline into the twisted wizard you see before you.  Until the Seahawks threw off the shackles I’d had wrapped around my mind in last year’s Super Bowl, I would go into these types of games EXPECTING to lose.  And, honestly, that feeling never really goes away.  I’m an abused pet living with new, kinder owners.  They’ve proven to be caring, loving people, but at the same time I still wince whenever an arm or a voice is raised.

The Seahawks SHOULD win this game.  If I were a more confident man, I’d go so far as to say the Seahawks WILL win this game.  In the entirety of the NFL playoff teams, the Panthers are the second-best option I’d choose for a Seahawks opponent (behind only the defeated Cardinals and their Lindley-esque shit offense).  While there is cause for real concern about this Panthers team (the defense is improved over the last month-plus, the rushing attack is improved with the return of Jonathan Stewart), it’s pretty obvious that this team is the most eminently beat-able in all of the NFC.  I was positively outraged at the notion that they’d go into Green Bay to play the Packers in the second round if Detroit had held on to beat Dallas last week.  Green Bay would throttle them by 40 points!  And WE’D have to battle a nasty defensive line of the Lions and a potentially explosive offense if they ever got their shit together.

As a quick aside:  don’t you think the #1 seed should be able to choose its opponent for the Divisional Round of the playoffs, pending the results of the Wild Card Round?  Why should we have to play an 11-5 Lions team (had they won) over a 7-8-1 Panthers team, simply because the Panthers were deemed to be a 4-seed while the superior Lions team a 6-seed?  When the NFL gets its own shit together and fixes the playoff system, maybe let’s make this a priority as well as never letting a team with a losing record host a playoff game, huh?

Anyway, getting back, my insecure fan-self is a little encouraged by the fact that there has already been a losing-record playoff team who defeated a playoff team with a superior record.  In fact, these loser teams are 2-1 in the playoffs, thanks to the 2010 Seahawks paving the way by defeating the Saints before going on to lose to the Bears in Chicago the following week.  BUT, what hasn’t happened – and what is rocking me to my very core as I sit and anxiously await tomorrow night’s game – is one of these loser teams going on the road and winning in the Divisional Round.

From the 1980s up until the Seahawks Super Bowl victory last year, there has been a bevy of reasons why Seattle sports teams have been laughingstocks.  Take, for instance, the first 20-or-so years of the Mariners playing professional baseball.  Or, the Seahawks almost moving to Los Angeles.  Or the Sonics signing Jim McIlvaine.  Or the Sonics drafting an endless string of worthless centers.  Or the Mariners getting crushed by the Yankees in the ALCS in back-to-back years.  Or the Seahawks getting referee’d to death in Super Bowl XL.  Or the Sonics being sold & uprooted after 40-some-odd years.  Or the best team in Seattle for the longest time being the women’s professional basketball team.  Or the Mariners plowing through a million managers over the last decade.  Or the fiasco with the Seahawks at the end of Holmgren’s tenure.  Or, the fact that all three franchises had – at one time or another – some of THE worst owners/general managers in all of professional sports (Ken Behring, Jeff Smulyan, Howard Schultz, Lincoln/Armstrong, Wally Walker, Tim Ruskell, Bill Bavasi).

I could go on and on with that list.  The 2013 Seahawks championship team has done the lord’s work in rectifying some of our past indiscretions.  But, a defeat to the Panthers a year later would do absolutely everything to undo all of that goodwill.

This current Seahawks unit is in the midst of a championship window that started in 2012 with a surprise late-season run into the playoffs.  When this window closes remains to be seen, but I think we can all agree it will be various degrees of open as long as Russell Wilson and the core is intact and still playing at a high level.  Whether that’s 5-10 years or more, the fact of the matter is:  these championship windows don’t grow on trees.  They can close in an instant and they may never reopen again in our lifetimes.  We can’t take these seasons for granted!

The Seahawks wrangled one championship and were 30-some-odd seconds away from fighting the 49ers for a second championship in the playoffs two years ago.  They currently sit poised in the catbird seat:  top seed in the NFC, with either Green Bay or Dallas being forced to come all the way out here in a potential NFC Championship showdown.  In spite of an early-season loss to the Cowboys at CenturyLink, we match up really well against both of those teams.  More importantly, WE’RE different than we were back in October.  I’ll be a lot more confident if we can just get this Divisional Round game out of the way.

The thing with the Panthers is:  they match up pretty well with us.  Earlier this year, we scratched and clawed our way to a 13-9 victory.  It took a late 4th quarter drive to finally score a touchdown and pull it out.  In the 2013 season opener, we scratched and clawed our way to a 12-7 victory.  It took a 4th quarter drive to finally score a touchdown; and a late 4th quarter fumble recovery to pull it out.  In 2012, we scratched and clawed our way to a 16-12 victory.  It took a late 3rd quarter drive to finally score a touchdown; a late 4th quarter goalline stand by our defense; and a later 4th quarter fumble recovery to pull it out.  Margin of victory for those three games:  4 1/3 points.  In the NFL, that’s nothing.

The notch in our belt is that all three of those games were on the road, in Carolina.  It’s notoriously difficult to win on the road, so you cherish any victory, even some ugly-ass shit like those games I just mentioned.  This game is in Seattle.  In the evening.  In front of what may be the rowdiest crowd we’ve seen all year (or, at least, since the week 1 showdown against the Packers).

Another notch in our belt is the level of competition the Panthers have beaten to get to this point.  The Panthers needed a 4-game winning streak to even make the playoffs.  If they would’ve lost any of these games, they would’ve been eliminated.  In those games, they faced the Saints, the Bucs, the Browns, and the Falcons.  The Saints had one of the worst defenses in football; they surrendered 41 points to the Panthers in New Orleans.  The Bucs were the very worst team in the NFL, earning the #1 draft pick in this year’s draft; they lost by 2 points to these very same Panthers.  The Browns were going with Johnny JamBoogie at quarterback, who left injured late in the first half; with Hoyer coming in in relief, the Browns would go on to lose by only 4 points to these very same Panthers.  The Falcons were just an absolute trainwreck on both sides of the football for most of this season, yet they would have made the playoffs with a win over the Panthers in week 17; they surrendered 34 points to the Panthers in Atlanta.  And, to top it all off, the Panthers hosted the Arizona Cardinals in the playoffs last week, taking full advantage of the Lindley-pocalypse (Apoca-Lindlypse?) to get to this point.

Not that the Seahawks had all that difficult of a road to hoe in getting the top seed the final six weeks of the season (only two playoff teams faced, and both of those teams were the Carson Palmer-less Cardinals), but I’d say we’ve looked MUCH more impressive in getting to this point.

Here’s the bottom line:  the Seahawks have the best defense in football.  Yes, we’re particularly good against the pass, but we’re also among the best against the run (indeed, we’re THE best against the run of the remaining playoff teams, but that’s neither here nor there).  If we can prevent the Panthers from gashing us in the run game, they should stand no chance.  On the flipside, while they have a good front seven, they’re not unstoppable.  We should be able to do what we want to do on the ground, while at the same time taking advantage of holes in their secondary.  An important thing to note is this game features the two very best middle linebackers in all of football with Luke Kuechly and Bobby Wagner.  Overall, though, the Seahawks have MUCH more talent from top to bottom than the Panthers.  In fact, the Seahawks hold a distinct advantage in nearly every position group.  And, if all that wasn’t enough, Cam Newton is a staggering bundle of injuries being held together by duct tape and painkillers.  There is ZERO reason why the Seahawks should lose this game.

And yet, it’s not entirely impossible.  There was zero reason why the 1994 Supersonics should lose to the Nuggets in five games.  There was zero reason why the 2001 Mariners should fail to make the World Series.  Sometimes, shit just happens.  Sometimes, a matchup materializes that goes against everything one team stands for.  Sometimes, players just have a bad day.

The Panthers have been a tough matchup for the Seahawks for the last three years now.  Regardless of the fact that those prior three games were all played in Carolina, we’re still talking about a mini version of ourselves.

  • Mobile quarterbacks
  • Unheralded offensive lines
  • Lack of game-breaking talent in the receiving corps
  • Tough, hard-nosed running backs
  • Underrated and stout defensive lines
  • Freakishly athletic linebackers
  • Mostly-conservative gameplans & coaches (in spite of Ron’s riverboat ways in 2013 and Pete’s alleged “big balls”)

In the NFL, it only takes one bad game to derail an entire season.  That in and of itself should be enough to terrify us to no end.  I don’t necessarily fear the Cowboys/Packers because I think we match up exceedingly well against them.  Their defenses aren’t anything special, and their offensive attacks play right into our L.O.B. hands.

But, the Panthers pose a tough matchup BECAUSE they’re so similar to us.  Because their defense can harass Russell Wilson and potentially knock him out of the game.  The Panthers – more than any other team remaining in these playoffs – have the capability to hold our offense in check.  And, if they do that, and it comes down to a battle of who wins the fourth quarter, then you’re looking at no better than a flip of a coin.

I don’t like that.  And neither should you.  We JUST have to get past this one game and I’ll feel more at ease.  The thing is, I don’t think anyone’s taking this game seriously.  I know, for the most part, fans are already booking plans for the NFC Championship Game.  But, they’re going to feel pretty damn stupid if we reach the end of Saturday night, with the Panthers celebrating on our field like the Nuggets did on our court 20-some-odd years ago.

Here’s to hoping the Seahawks take this game a little more seriously than the 12th Man.  If they don’t, we’ll be looking at the absolute worst defeat in franchise history, and a defeat far surpassing those aforementioned Sonics & Mariners achievements of yore.  2014 will be just another drop in the bucket of Seattle being Sports Hell.

Futzing Around With Seahawks Top 10 Lists

I just saw this, while killing some time.  It’s a cool take on the whole “Top Ten Seahawks Of All Time” list idea.  And, as you may or may not know, I’m a total SUCKER for LISTS!

Terry’s rules for this list were:  no current players, and they must have played at least 5 seasons with the Seahawks.  That leaves us with a good chunk of players.  He was provided 29 different names by fans in their own lists they sent to him.  Of those 29 players listed, here is my Top 10:

  1. Walter Jones
  2. Cortez Kennedy
  3. Steve Largent
  4. Shaun Alexander
  5. Jacob Green
  6. Kenny Easley
  7. Matt Hasselbeck
  8. Dave Brown
  9. Steve Hutchinson
  10. Lofa Tatupu

For starters, we have the three NFL Hall of Famers in the top three spots, because that’s just what has to be done.  I organized these three by their place in NFL history.  Walter Jones has gone down as one of the greatest left tackles in all of NFL history (if not THE greatest).  There aren’t enough superlatives, so let’s just move on.

Cortez, I believe, has to be on everyone’s Top 10 list for defensive tackles (at least in the modern era, if not all time).  He doesn’t get the credit he deserves, since he played for Seattle (and played on a bunch of awful teams by a terribly-run organization), but he was truly a monster force in the middle.

If my 10 year old self could see what I’m writing now, he’d call me a fucking idiot for putting Steve Largent at #3, when he’s so obviously the greatest wide receiver of all time.  Except, in the 23 years since then, about a thousand receivers have passed Largent and broken all of his records.  He’s great, and in his time he was the greatest, but now he’s long-forgotten, and you legitimately have to question whether he’d make the Hall of Fame if he had his same exact stats, but retired today instead of at the end of the 1989 season.

Henry Ellard has Largent beat by almost 700 yards, but he’s not in the HOF.  Tim Brown has almost 2,000 more yards and the same number of receiving touchdowns and hasn’t made the HOF yet.  When Largent retired, he was #1 in both yards and touchdowns for a receiver; now he’s 14th and tied for 7th, respectively.  More receivers are breaking his records every year, with still more right on his heels.  Andre Johnson and Steve Smith are both one good year away from passing him in yards (within 1,000 of the Seahawks legend).  Larry Fitzgerald is a year or two away, and if Anquan Boldin’s creaky old bones can cling to life, he’s probably two or three years away.  Going forward, Calvin Johnson is practically a shoo-in to be in the top 10 in yards; and Brandon Marshall and Dez Bryant will likely pass Largent as well.  Granted, it’s a different style of NFL play now than it was in the 70s & 80s, but that’s not going to make it any easier going forward for any more of those fringe old-timers to make the HOF.  Largent’s lucky he retired when he did.

After the top three of Jones, Tez, and Largent, I found the next five to be pretty easy.  Alexander is the best running back in franchise history, was an MVP, and led us to our first Super Bowl appearance.  He won’t be a HOFer, but he’s still one of the best Seahawks ever, so his slot at #4 is well-deserved.

Jacob Green is another one of those guys who isn’t quite a HOFer, but he’s tops in the Seahawks’ book.  Green, ranking #1 in franchise history in sacks with 97.5, ranks tied for 32nd in NFL history.  The magic number for sack-artists to get into the HOF is apparently 125, so Green was a ways off.  Nevertheless, he was solid for us.

Kenny Easley kinda makes this list on talent and potential over longevity which is QUITE hypocritical considering I left Curt Warner off my list because he couldn’t stay healthy.  But still, Easley is hands down the best member of the Seahawks secondary in franchise history (not counting the current members of the L.O.B.).

Matt Hasselbeck – the franchise’s best quarterback – comes in at #7.  That’s a testament to the quality of players ahead of him on my list, as well as the lack of really elite quarterbacks in franchise history.  Hasselbeck is also kinda like those other near-HOF types, except he’s pushed way down that list; I mean, you can KINDA make a case for Shaun Alexander to be in the HOF, but you’ll be laughed out of the country if you try to make a case for Hasselbeck!

Rounding out the last of my easy choices, Dave Brown was the best cornerback in franchise history (again, not including those in the L.O.B.).  After him, I had a really tough time choosing the last two.  I eventually narrowed it down to six players:  Curt Warner, John L. Williams, Brian Blades, Hutch, Lofa, and Eugene Robinson.  I couldn’t decide between the two running backs, so as a compromise, I decided to leave them both out.  Blades was a tough one to cut out; he’s certainly my #11 pick on this list.  And, Eugene gets docked because he did a lot of his best playing after he left the Seahawks.

Which, again, reveals my blatant hypocrisy, because I gave Hutch the #9 slot.  Losing him right smack dab in the middle of his prime definitely hurts his ranking on my list (had he been a career Seahawk, it’s pretty easy to see him in my top three or four), but I can’t deny his elite talent level.  Granted, Joey Galloway also had elite talent, and his end with the team was similarly acrimonious, and yet he wasn’t even an honorable mention!  To that, I don’t know what to tell you.  I’ll always be kind of annoyed with Hutch and his dickhead agent, and to a lesser extent the Vikings (even though we just won a Super Bowl with a bunch of their players), but the real villain in that whole deal was Tim Ruskell, leaving me the opportunity to (for the most part) feel good about Hutch’s time here.

The last spot goes to Lofa.  He was truly great from the moment he was selected by this team, and he’s a big reason why our defense was able to cobble together enough yards & points prevention to lead this team to a #1 seed and a Super Bowl appearance in 2005/2006.  Lofa’s career ended prematurely due to injury, otherwise it’s possible his all time ranking could’ve been higher as well.  He was a tackling machine who – had he not worn down so fast – might have made a play for the HOF, with the way he was racking them up in his first few years.

***

Now that I’ve given you my Top 10 list of Seahawks not currently on the team, why don’t I give you my Top 10 list of only Seahawks who ARE currently on the team?  Here we go:

  1. Earl Thomas
  2. Russell Wilson
  3. Marshawn Lynch
  4. Richard Sherman
  5. Kam Chancellor
  6. Russell Okung
  7. Brandon Mebane
  8. Bobby Wagner
  9. Michael Bennett
  10. Doug Baldwin

Before I get started, I have to point out that Percy Harvin is left off because he’s played in all of three games in a Seahawks uniform.  I’m going to need at least a season or two out of him before I start putting him among the all time leaders.

Byron Maxwell was left off because I had a really hard time putting four LOB members on my list.  But, talent-wise, he probably deserves it.  At the very least, he’d be my #11 pick (and, by the end of 2014, could see his ranking go up even higher).  Zach Miller was left off because, while I appreciate all that he does, it still feels like we could do what we do without him.  Max Unger was left off due to an inconsistent (and injury-riddled) 2013 season.  Cliff Avril was another honorable mention.

In going down my list, I knew the other three members of the LOB would be there and be ranked high, but it was just a matter of where they’d rank.  I have Earl Thomas at #1 because I think he’s far and away the best safety in the game today.  Richard Sherman has some competition for best corner, but I think he’s #1 with a bunch of other guys right on his heels.  That’s the difference between the two.

Nevertheless, I had to put Russell Wilson at #2 because he is ABSOLUTELY VITAL to what we do on offense.  He’s the franchise quarterback we’ve been dreaming of since Seattle was given a franchise!  He and Earl Thomas are the perfect bookends for this team, from their elite talent level, to how they prepare, to their desire to win above all else, to their abilities to make those around them insanely better.

Marshawn Lynch gets the #3 spot because he’s the workhorse.  He’s also in the Top 3 when it comes to NFL running backs today.  While that sounds odd to say, knowing that I put Richard Sherman at the #4 spot (and I consider him to be the best corner in football), I will say that there are way more elite cornerbacks than there are elite running backs.  That’s just the way it goes.

Kam gets into my Top 5 because he’s Kam.  He’s the baddest, hardest hitting motherfucker in this league and he was certainly deserving of being the MVP of the Super Bowl over Malcolm Smith.  In the national spotlight, Kam gets lost a little bit because of Sherman’s outspokenness and Earl’s on-field flashiness, but on almost any other team, he’d be the best player on that defense and it wouldn’t even be close.

Okung gets his spot on the list based on talent and potential, though he certainly gets knocked down for his inability to stay healthy.  Brandon Mebane is almost the opposite.  He does nothing BUT stay healthy.  He doesn’t have the highest pedigree.  He isn’t an animal in the middle like Cortez was.  But, Mebane has been a ROCK on that D-Line since he got here in 2007.  And, from what I’ve read, his 2013 season was arguably his best year in the league.  That’s unbelievably impressive, especially when you consider he plays a spot on the line that’s difficult to keep healthy.  Seems like whenever a nose tackle gets injured, it’s only a matter of time before his career fizzles out.

I had to pick a linebacker, because we’ve got three good ones, so I went with the best.  Bobby Wagner is the guy – if we’re only able to keep one for salary cap purposes – that I’d most want to retain.  He plays middle linebacker, which is the most important spot of the three, and he plays it at a high level (either as well, or if not, very close to the level of Luke Kuechly).  The best part:  he’s played at this level since day 1, and could very well see even MORE improvement.

There’s a reason why we decided to bring back Michael Bennett and let key leaders Red Bryant and Chris Clemons go.  Bennett can do everything on the defensive line and do it all well.

Finally, what can I say about Doug Baldwin that hasn’t already been said?  I feel MUCH more secure about this team and its offense when I know I have Doug Baldwin on the field.

***

Now, the real point of all of this:  when I was reading the above Terry Blount post, and I read that current players were to be left off for the purposes of this exercise, I got to wondering:  how many current players would – right now – make the Top 10 in franchise history?

You’d have to think quite a few, considering the Super Bowl is fresh on our minds, and that’s something no other Seahawks team has ever accomplished.  Fans would rabidly vote for today’s players, because it’s all about that action, boss.

I’m going to try to set emotion aside on this one and try to be rational about it.  Essentially, since a lot of these guys are fairly new, I have to go by what they’ve done as well as what they could potentially do, if they can stay reasonably healthy.  Anyway, here’s my list:

  1. Walter Jones
  2. Earl Thomas
  3. Richard Sherman
  4. Russell Wilson
  5. Cortez Kennedy
  6. Steve Largent
  7. Shaun Alexander
  8. Kam Chancellor
  9. Marshawn Lynch
  10. Jacob Green

As you’ll notice, both Sherm and Kam passed Lynch on this list.  That’s because, when all is said and done, I expect both of those guys to surpass Lynch’s output – which projects to end after the 2014 season.  You’ll also notice that Sherm passes Wilson on this list, because in the end I think Sherman will be a greater cornerback (on the all time NFL list) than Wilson will be a quarterback (on the all time NFL list).  Nevertheless, I expect both of them, as well as Earl, to make the HOF (giving us six total Seahawks, and counting).  Shaun Alexander still gets the nod over Lynch because there’s no way Lynch is passing him in total output.  I know most people like Lynch more, but I won’t discount Alexander’s overall talents.  Jacob Green nabs down that 10-spot, because he’s awesome.  Of the current players who could someday crack the top ten that I don’t have in there right now, I’d look at Wagner and maybe Baldwin.

So, that’s five current players in the All Time Top 10.  I never would have thought you could have ANY sort of Seahawks Top 10 without Matt Hasselbeck, but there you have it.  What’s more impressive is, I have three current players in the top 5.  I don’t know if I’ll ever see a player on the level of Walter Jones, but if anyone has a chance to pass him, it’s most likely Earl Thomas.

Then again, if Russell Wilson leads us to five Super Bowl championships, that may be the ultimate decider.

8 Down, 15 To Go: Injury-Plagued Seahawks Steal A Win In Houston

After a win like that – where the Seahawks came back from a 20-3 halftime deficit to win in overtime 23-20 – the impulse is to scream out from the rooftops, “THAT WAS THE GREATEST GAME EVER!”  But, of course, that’s not true.  Maybe it was the greatest ending to a game, or the greatest HALF ever, but if you want to be in the running for greatest game ever, don’t make me feel fucking miserable for 30 football minutes.

I don’t know what happened!  Houston got the ball first and we quickly forced a punt.  Then, we came right down the field and got ourselves a three-point lead.  That’s followed by a Houston drive ending with an interception and we were all on cloud nine.  How does it go from that to the Texans generating 20 straight points while we can’t do a God damn thing?

The first-half defense left a lot to be desired, no doubt about that.  Had that continued through the whole game, it would’ve been a blowout and we would have tumbled pretty far down the national power rankings (not that that’s something altogether important, but still).  There would have been a lot of questions about this team.  Is this REALLY a Super Bowl team?  Will this team ever consistently win on the road at 10am?  Does the coaching staff have control of its players?

You know, all the usual bullshit.  Sports writers trying to put their spin on things the only way they know how:  by dredging up the same inane topics whenever a good team has a bad game.

Here’s what we know from what we saw yesterday:  the defense really couldn’t stop the run for the longest time.  The defense had the wrong people covering their tight ends, who were catching everything in sight.  The defense – after those first couple of drives – didn’t get any pressure on the quarterback for the longest time.  There are plenty of things to get to, so let’s start at the top.

Houston is a very good rushing team.  Arian Foster, when healthy, is one of the top five running backs in the league.  Ben Tate might be the best backup running back in football.  This is a team, like the Seahawks, that is dedicated to the run.  Therefore, their offensive linemen are geared to run block.  It’s going to take quite the feat to shut them down with your front four.  The Seahawks, unfortunately, don’t have their world-beater front four that clogs up running lanes like they did in 2011.  Even with Red Bryant still on the end, the line is a little more finesse, a little more interested in pressuring the quarterback.  Stopping the run in 2013 involves more linebacker contributions.  And, truth be told, yesterday the linebackers weren’t the greatest.

As you could plainly see whenever K.J. Wright or Malcolm Smith got beat by Owen Daniels or Garrett Graham.  Those two guys accounted for 11 receptions, 141 yards, and a touchdown.  They were open all damn DAY!  Finally, towards the end of the game, it looked like we were throwing Kam Chancellor and Byron Maxwell on them, so at least we know the coaches are paying attention and actually made an adjustment.

The most damning thing for this team was the fact that we couldn’t get a man anywhere near Matt Schaub.  It looked like we were a little in-between for most of the second and third quarters, concerned about the run (which was really gashing us) and still trying to get in Schaub’s face.  Our front four isn’t quite good enough to allow us to have our cake and eat it too, so thankfully we ratcheted up the blitzes when it mattered most.  Many of the great quarterbacks in the NFL flourish under pressure.  A defensive blitz is an opportunity for a quarterback to take advantage for a big gain.  Not for Matt Schaub.

It’s interesting.  This game went from being all about the Texans and how they are a legitimate contender for the Super Bowl to Matt Schaub and what are they going to do with him?

I don’t know how Schaub threw that pick-six to Richard Sherman, but I’m glad he did it.  If you go back and re-watch the game, you’ll see a hyper-confident Matt Schaub early on, when the Texans were moving the ball with ease.  Then, take a look at him in the fourth quarter, especially after that interception.  He looked like a broken and defeated man – and that interception only TIED the game.  You could tell right there that unless there was some flukey play or ill-timed penalty by our defense, we were going to win that game.

When you think of quarterbacks, you think of three types:  the greats, the game-managers, and the awfuls.  It’s pretty easy to see where just about every quarterback fits.  But, when you look at someone like Matt Schaub, you come to the realization that there is a fourth type.  An in-betweener.  Not quite great, but not just a simple game-manager.  The team doesn’t just rely on him to “limit mistakes” and let the team around him win games.  Sometimes, they have to hop on and let Schaub carry them to victory.  AND, sometimes he succeeds!  But, he fails just enough to drive everyone crazy.  Fans will never fully believe that he’s the guy to give them a championship, in the same way that Cowboys fans will never fully believe in Tony Romo.  The same way that Chargers fans don’t believe in Philip Rivers.  Probably in the same way that Bengals fans (in a few years) will feel about Andy Dalton.  I don’t know what you call these types of quarterbacks, but they’ve got to be some of the most frustrating to have.  They’re good, so you can’t just dump them at the drop of a hat, but they’re not good enough to take you all the way.  I hate to say it at a time where we’re celebrating a 4-0 start, but Matt Hasselbeck was probably one of those guys.

Luckily, we’ve got Russell Wilson now, and the man is a straight-up winner.

I keep thinking that there is no way Wilson can impress me more.  His leadership, his poise, his talent level, his grit and determination, his elusiveness.  It’s all been on display for a year and a quarter now, but yesterday might be his most impressive effort to date.  And that’s not just hyperbole based on the newness of this win!  Our offensive line looked like 2009-levels of bad.  You remember that year, right?  We’d lost Walter Jones and Tim Ruskell refused to replenish the line through the draft, so we were left scrambling.  I don’t know how we EVER sustained a drive yesterday, except maybe the Texans got tired from getting free runs at the quarterback all the time.

Russell Okung, who has been lost since the 49ers game and won’t be back until late this season, was a pretty big loss.  Breno Giacomini, our right tackle, who got injured in last week’s game, made our job that much tougher, because we were playing with two replacement tackles instead of just the one.  But, Max Unger ALSO going down last week really took the cake.

For the most part, all five of our linemen looked like they’d never played football before.  Pancakes Carpenter looked absolutely miserable at times in pass protection.  The Texans were employing your most basic of stunts and our guys didn’t know WHO they should block, so they did the prudent thing and blocked no one.  Russell Wilson had, like, negative three seconds per pass attempt to try to throw the ball.  And, what’s worse:  it looked like the coaching staff didn’t anticipate this would be coming!

The Texans blitz something like 80% of the time.  They’re one of the most aggressive defenses in the NFL, with one of the best players in the NFL in J.J. Watt.  We were coming into the game with one guy on the line playing in the same position he started the season with (J.R. Sweezy).  What did we counter this with?  Giving Kellen Davis an inordinate amount of playing time so he could lead both teams in penalties.

Why wouldn’t your immediate thought going into this game be:  let’s reintroduce the zone read and slow down their aggression by having Russell Wilson run the ball?  That should have been Day 1, Item 1 of the game planning this week!  What, you’re worried about Russell Wilson taking hits?  If you’re worried about Russell Wilson taking hits, how about don’t put him in a pocket protected by a paper mache line???  The guy was going to take hits either way.  But, if you wanted any semblance of a passing game, you needed to make their ends worry about contain, instead of trying to take someone’s head off.

This game was, if nothing else, the greatest test of our depth.  Whenever you can lose some very-important starters – especially along your offensive line – and still come away with the win while getting some younger guys valuable experience:  that’s the ultimate high.  But, I wouldn’t recommend making this a trend if we want to go anywhere in the playoffs this year.

Normally, I’d be pretty thrilled with having the final BYE week of the NFL season.  But, this year, I dunno.  Seems like we could use a week off to get guys healthy sooner rather than later.

I’ll close with my Individual Game Balls, a new feature that I’ll probably forget about after this week.

First up, Doug Baldwin for his sideline tippy-toe catch for 24 yards on third down at our own 5 yard line.  If either foot is an inch closer to the sideline, that’s an incomplete pass and we’re probably punting away the game.

Next:  Russell Wilson, for somehow staying alive, but also for that 4-yard scramble on 4th and 3 near the Houston goalline to convert a first down.  One play later, we scored a touchdown to bring the game to within 7 points.

Then, there’s Marshawn Lynch, for making chicken salad all day against another elite front seven.  I keep expecting this team to run into some easier defenses, but will we see one before we face the New York Giants in week 15?

Of course, who could forget Richard Sherman?  He dropped a sure pick in the endzone earlier in the game.  But, in the fourth quarter, with less than three minutes to go in the game while still down a touchdown, Sherman jumped in front of a pass intended for Owen Daniels (solid strategy to start putting cornerbacks on their tight ends, considering the linebackers weren’t doing dick) and brought the rock back to the house 58 yards.  It single-handedly tied the game and saved my fantasy football bacon all in one move.

Finally, my co-players of the game:  Steven Hauschka, for nailing the game winner in a hostile environment (when he, along with everyone else, expected their coach to “ice the kicker”), and Kareem Jackson, the Texans DB who unnecessarily roughed Doug Baldwin on that final drive to put us down to Houston’s 36 yard line to set up that game-winning field goal.  Without their combined efforts, we may never have won that game.  We might currently be sitting *shudder* 3-0-1.  Ties … ties are the WORST!  What is this, soccer?