Nobody Wants To Hear About My Fantasy Team 2022: The Worst Around

Well, I scored easily the lowest points in our league last week, and I went up against the team who scored the very most. Through two weeks, I’ve scored easily the lowest points in our league, and for good measure I’ve had the most points scored against me. So, that’s fun. That’s a neat little parlor trick.

I don’t really have anything to say about my performance last week, since there was nothing I could do. Besides build a time machine, go back in time, and draft all the players I should’ve drafted in the first place – years ago – to ensure my team wouldn’t be this inept when we finally made it a dynasty league. As I said on Twitter, when you have four quarterbacks (for a 2-QB league), you really have zero quarterbacks, and that adage holds true. If there was a “right” play to be had, I would’ve went with Mac Jones (a measly 15.2) and Davis Mills (8.95). I went with Mills and Winston (the lowest of all – my “safe” bet – at 6.00), while Fields was saddled with 7.5.

I decided to make this my week to shake things up a bit. I had a good-enough waiver priority slot to get one move done. So, I had my choice: I could make a play for Garrett Wilson – rookie receiver from the Jets – or I could get Jared Goff. I made claims for both – prioritizing Wilson – and I already regret it. I don’t necessarily regret waiving Davis Mills for him, because I don’t think his noodle arm is ever going to be a massive fantasy talent (famous last words). But, Goff was probably my one and only chance to find a high-upside fantasy quarterback for nothing, and I let him fall to The Lance Petemans.

Long-term, I don’t know what Goff is. With Amon-Ra St. Brown, he’s certainly found a stud he can ride to big fantasy days. But, is this sustainable? Regardless, he’s better than the nothing I’m getting from Jones and Fields, and he seems to be more steady than the wild fluctuations of Jameis. Is he a quality #2 quarterback going forward, even beyond this season? Maybe!

Ultimately, I went with Wilson because I wanted to cash in on a rookie receiver craze. Will he be the next Justin Jefferson? Will he be this year’s Ja’Marr Chase? Probably not. Did I just blow any opportunity at having fun with this league this season? It’s highly likely. I’m up to five receivers now, and the most you can keep/play is three, so what are we doing?

This week, I go up against Car Talk With Josh Allen. As you might suspect, he’s got Josh Allen on his team, so look for him to put up 50+ (that’s the trend, first with Mahomes, then with Tua of all people). I, decidedly, do not have Josh Allen, or anyone even close to his calibre, so I’m looking to cruise to an 0-3 record by the time the morning games conclude on Sunday. Here’s the RoundTine roster:

  • Jameis Winston (QB) @ Car
  • Justin Fields (QB) vs. Hou
  • Gabe Davis (WR) @ Mia
  • Diontae Johnson (WR) @ Cle
  • Javonte Williams (RB) vs. SF
  • Ezekiel Elliott (RB) @ NYG
  • T.J. Hockenson (TE) @ Min
  • D.K. Metcalf (WR) vs. Atl
  • Evan McPherson (K) @ NYJ
  • L.A. Rams (DEF) @ Ari

It is, as always, a useless decision between Fields and Jones. Jones is at home against Baltimore. Baltimore just gave up a billion points to Tua last week. But, clearly, the Pats don’t have the kinds of weapons that the Dolphins have. Houston seems to be a tasty matchup, so I’m hoping to see ANYTHING out of Fields resembling a break out performance.

I’m sitting Wilson for another week, just to make sure he’s not a fluke. I’m playing D.K. because I like him at home against a paltry Falcons defense. I’ll play Gabe Davis if he’s healthy. My ultimate decision comes down to Diontae Johnson and CeeDee Lamb. If Gabe looks hurt, then it’s no decision at all, and I’ll just play them both. But, if Gabe looks on track early in the week (like, today or tomorrow) to return, then I’ll have to make a choice ahead of Thursday’s game. The more I think about it (Steelers offense against a potentially-stout Cleveland defense on the road), the more I think the Steelers will be toast in this one, at least offensively.

As for the running backs, I’m just biding my time until Walker and/or Brian Robinson take over starting duties for their respective teams. T.J. Hockenson – my tight end – is in the running for most disappointing player of 2022, which is really saying something, given the state of my roster.

Here’s my opponent:

  • Josh Allen (QB) @ Mia
  • Tom Brady (QB) vs. GB
  • Brandin Cooks (WR) @ Chi
  • Christian Kirk (WR) @ LAC
  • Joe Mixon (RB) @ NYJ
  • Aaron Jones (RB) @ TB
  • Travis Kelce (TE) @ IND
  • Leonard Fournette (RB) vs. GB
  • Nick Folk (K) vs. Bal
  • Cleveland (DEF) vs. Pit

It’s yet another bloodbath waiting to happen.

Nobody Wants To Hear About My Fantasy Team 2022: Dynasty Drafting

There are obvious plusses and minuses to being in a Dynasty League. On the plus side, if you have players you like, you get to keep them forever. If you’re a good team one year, you’re likely to continue being good. The flipside, of course, also is true: if you have players you hate, you might be stuck with them until the next year, when you can drop and replace. If you’re bad one year, you might continue being bad for the foreseeable future. Just like real life!

One thing’s for certain: a lot of pressure is taken off of the draft! We were done well under a half hour, as we only selected five bench spots. With the vast majority of good players already rostered, there was significantly less research to do.

As I noted last week (see the above link), we kept a full roster of starters, so my team going in looked like this:

  • Mac Jones (QB)
  • Justin Fields (QB)
  • Ezekiel Elliott (RB)
  • Javonte Williams (RB)
  • D.K. Metcalf (WR)
  • CeeDee Lamb (WR)
  • T.J. Hockenson (TE)
  • Diontae Johnson (WR)
  • Evan McPherson (K)
  • L.A. Rams (DEF)

I had the third overall draft pick. We do a straight draft – not a snake draft – so I had the third pick in each of the five rounds (except for the fifth round, which I traded for a second 2nd round pick, in a trading away of Justin Tucker last year). It’s not as confusing as I’m making it sound, I promise.

Sadly, I don’t really see a true top-shelf rookie in this class. That doesn’t mean there ISN’T one, but that just means he hasn’t made himself obvious to everyone just yet. There isn’t a Najee Harris or Kyle Pitts in this class, someone who we know is a sure thing right out of the box, sight unseen. That’s unfortunate for someone like me – a bottom feeder, who desperately needs an ace superstar to help bolster my fantasy future – so I was stuck in a pretty shitty spot.

I really wanted Breece Hall. I know he’s no guarantee, but everything I read about him prior to the preseason led me to believe the odds are in his favor on breaking big. He went one pick before me. I’ll just have to hope since he landed on the Jets, they’re going to do everything to Jets it up with him. Travis Etienne was looking to be my second option, but he actually went first overall.

So, I was left between two options I didn’t particularly love: Kenneth Walker III or Dameon Pierce, of the Houston Texans. The upside on Pierce is that he’s the starter from Day 1, and he’s looked pretty good in preseason so far. The downside is that he plays for the Houston Texans; do they even employ offensive linemen? Or are they just stuffed scarecrows spiked on the turf? Who’s to say?! The upside on Walker is that he’s a significant college talent, on a team that loves to run the football, playing behind an injury-prone starter. The downside, however, is that Walker himself is injured, and missed most of the preseason due to a hernia surgery. When will he return? Will he be up to speed? Or, will it be like every other rookie who’s missed significant time in their first preseason, where this is a totally lost year?

I ultimately picked Walker, and I immediately think it was a mistake. Pierce went two spots later in the draft (sandwiching Kenny Pickett, who was a quarterback I was looking at, though not in the first round), and I think he’s going to be a monster.

I hope I made up for it in the second round by taking Tony Pollard. I already have Zeke, but I have failed in the last few years to ever handcuff him. Pollard has been the ultimate handcuff in recent seasons, because not only is he great, but he pretty much splits time on the field and balls out accordingly. One could EASILY make the argument that – right now – Pollard is the better of the two, both in fantasy and in actual NFL games. I’ll be honest, I very nearly considered taking Pollard with my first pick. I have every belief that he’ll take over for Zeke this year, with Zeke being cut before next year. I could very well own the Cowboys’ succession plan at running back! Gotta love it.

With my other second round pick, I was able to nab Gabe Davis, the hotshot #2 receiver for the Bills that everyone is in love with. Wide receiver wasn’t as big of a need for me as, let’s say, QUARTERBACK. But, you gotta have quality depth. And, if Davis pans out like most fantasy experts think he will, I’ve got a real gem on my hands. As it is – SPOILER ALERT – he’ll be starting for me in week 1 against the Rams. So, hopefully we’ll see some immediate dividends.

Then it was time to finally address the quarterback position. I’m now in two leagues where I’m rostering Jameis Winston. What a fucking nightmare.

We’re in a 2-QB league, so clearly there weren’t going to be great options after all the dynasty guys were kept. However, shockingly, Tom Brady was out there. He went 9th overall in the first round (to the team who kept Deshaun Watson, of course). I thought about it, but as I’ve been saying all along, if his O-Line is weak, and his receivers are banged up, Tom Brady is as inept as it gets from a fantasy perspective. I’m not trying to rely on him come playoff time.

Winston was actually the third QB to come off the board. I selected his upside over Matt Ryan’s steady presence (in what’s looking like a run-heavy attack), over Daniel Jones’ incompetence (I still can’t believe he was drafted), over Baker Mayfield’s mediocrity, over Zach Wilson’s atrociousness, and over Jimmy G’s benchwarming. There are a few other guys still out there on waivers, but when you’re scraping the bottom of the barrel like I am, do you really want to devote so many bench spots to the scrubs of all scrubs?

With my last pick, I took Brian Robinson, the running back who got shot in a robbery in D.C. I’ve tried to get him in all my leagues, but succeeded in only 2 of 3. His upside looks fantastic if he can return to full health. Between him and Walker, I’ve got two rookies and I just need one of them to pan out. It’s a great hedge against Javonte Williams too, just in case things go FUBAR there. For now, Robinson goes on my IR, so I get an extra roster spot which I’m planning to use on a defense.

I’ve kind of said all along that I like the bulk of my team, sans quarterback. I don’t LOVE my team. I can say something similar to my Splinter League team – good skill guys, crummy QBs – but at least those skill guys are potential game-breakers. These skill guys are … fine.

Between D.K., CeeDee, Diontae, and Gabe, there has to be three guys I can play every week, barring injury. I’m pretty confident – even with the shaky quarterback play D.K. and Diontae have to endure – that I’ll get good numbers from my wide receiver position.

I’m encouraged by my running backs, now that I have both Dallas runners. But, until Javonte assumes the bellcow role he deserves – or until one of my rookies gets healthy and starts playing significant snaps – I’ll always be a little hampered by my running backs. But, unless you have one of the top 6-8 guys, everyone’s more or less in a time share of sorts.

I’m fine with my TE, I love my kicker, and I think most weeks I’ll be happy with the Rams’ defense. But, here we go again with these fakakta quarterbacks.

Just give me one. Jones or Fields, I don’t care who. ONE of them needs to pan out. Then, I can go into next year hopefully getting the best rookie QB available in what’s looking like a loaded draft. You can bet your ass I’ll be researching those guys HARD.

As things stand, Yahoo has me overwhelmingly finishing in last place, with a 2-12 record. That feels about right. Just gotta start playing quality ball in the consolation bracket.

***

Real quick, let’s look at this week’s matchup. I start the season going up against Space Forcin’, who has been a thorn in my side for a generation now. Here’s my lineup:

  • Mac Jones (QB) @ Mia
  • Jameis Winston (QB) @ Atl
  • CeeDee Lamb (WR) vs. TB
  • Gabe Davis (WR) @ LAR
  • Tony Pollard (RB) vs. TB
  • Javonte Williams (RB) @ Sea
  • T.J. Hockenson (TE) vs. Phi
  • D.K. Metcalf (WR) vs. Den
  • Evan McPherson (K) vs. Pit
  • TBD (DEF)

Pretty easy decisions here. Justin Fields is going up against the stout 49ers defense (it was really a choice between him and Jones, as Jameis has to be a lock against a terrible Falcons team). I opted for those receivers over Diontae since he seems to be dealing with a shoulder injury and is questionable. I opted for Pollard over Zeke because they’re going up against the Bucs, who are terrific against the run (maybe Pollard can bounce some things outside, or otherwise catch some passes). Walker is out, since he’s hurt and might not make it back by Monday. And the Rams are out because the Bills have a tremendous offense and might pop 40 points on ’em. I’ll take my chances with whatever defense I can grab tomorrow when waivers convert to free agents.

Here’s my opponent:

  • Patrick Mahomes (QB) @ Ari
  • Trey Lance (QB) @ Chi
  • Davante Adams (WR) @ LAC
  • Chris Godwin (WR) @ Dal
  • Alvin Kamara (RB) @ Atl
  • Antonio Gibson (RB) vs. Jax
  • Dalton Schultz (TE) vs. TB
  • Adam Thielen (WR) vs. GB
  • Matt Prater (K) vs. KC
  • Miami (DEF) vs. NE

He’s had Mahomes, Adams, and Kamara for as long as I can remember. Lance sure seems like a safe bet for steady points at the QB spot. Godwin has been a steal for everyone who’s drafted him. Gibson is starting now, and that’s all that matters this week. Schultz looks fantastic, and might be a sleeper guy at tight end (since Dallas lost Amari Cooper). And all Thielen does is produce at a high level when healthy. It’s week 1, I’d say he’s as healthy as he’s going to get.

So, I’m going to lose. Regardless of the defense I end up with, I’m going to lose. I also have the 8th waiver wire spot, which seems like a travesty considering how bad I am. But, whatever.

Predicting The 2022 NFL Season

You know it and love it! The NFL prediction post is back again! Here are the prior years I’ve done it:

Not to toot my own horn too much, but I did pretty damn good last year. I had all of the NFC divisional winners, and 5 of the 7 playoff teams from that conference. I only missed the Eagles and Cardinals (I had WFT and the Seahawks, of course). I wasn’t quite as good with the AFC, picking half of the divisional winners correct. But, I still managed 4 of the 7 playoff participants. I’ll take it!

I even nailed half of the Super Bowl matchup, though the Bills screwed me. If they weren’t so unfathomably shitty on defense against the Chiefs, they might’ve made it!

Anyway, that’s last year. This year, I’ve done even less research than usual. That’s what happens when you pack your summer with trips and activities. That’s also what happens when the Seahawks suck and I just don’t give a fuck. Let’s get into it.

NFC East

  • Dallas Cowboys
  • Philadelphia Eagles
  • Washington Guardians
  • New York Football Giants

I know everyone is on the Eagles’ hype train this year, after apparently making every single correct move this offseason. But, I’m not there yet. I need to see it before I’ll believe it. The Cowboys are still really fucking talented, and in spite of their bumbler of a head coach, I think they’ll prevail in the division. I think Washington will probably be middle-of-the-road at best, and I think the Giants will be among the worst four teams in football.

NFC North

  • Green Bay Packers
  • Minnesota Vikings
  • Detroit Lions
  • Chicago Bears

I wanted to put the Vikings in the top seat, but I kept feeling supremely dumb going against the Packers. I’ll say this much: the Packers won’t get to 13 wins again this year. The receivers are GOING to be an issue, that’s just the way it is. But, they should have enough talent to hold everyone else at bay. I do think the Vikings have a good shot to make it as a wild card. I’m not drinking the Lions’ Kool Aid after watching them on Hard Knocks, but I do think they could be a 7-8 win team. I think the Bears will be among the worst four teams in football.

NFC South

  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  • Carolina Panthers
  • New Orleans Saints
  • Atlanta Falcons

REAL fucking samey in the NFC so far. I like the Bucs even less than I like the Packers, what with their O-Line woes. If the O-Line doesn’t hold up, and if the receivers aren’t back to full health, I think this will be a LONG year for Brady. I predict this is the beginning of the end, and we won’t see Brady in the NFL next year. I’m not as high on the Saints as most people; I think the surprise team will be the Panthers and how competent they are with Baker at the helm. And I think the Falcons will be among the worst four teams in football.

NFC West

  • San Francisco 49ers
  • Los Angeles Rams
  • Arizona Cardinals
  • Seattle Seahawks

I was going to run it back with all four same division winners, but I could see some Super Bowl Hangover with the Rams. The 49ers are loaded all over the place, and I think Trey Lance will be just dynamic enough to make some plays and not screw things up. He could also be amazing with that Shanahan offense. I like the Cards to take a step back this year. And I HOPE BEYOND HOPE that the Seahawks are among the worst four teams in football.

AFC East

  • Buffalo Bills
  • Miami Dolphins
  • New England Patriots
  • New York Jets

Surprise surprise, I love the Bills again! God dammit. I hope they shored up their defense. I don’t like any of the other teams, but that’s also not shocking. I think the Dolphins get one over on the Pats, even though Tua’s Noodle Arm looks like a poor fit for what should be a high-volume passing offense. I’m not hearing great things about the Pats, which is just fucking great, because I’m saddled with Mac Jones in my dynasty league. And the Jets are gonna Jets.

AFC North

  • Baltimore Ravens
  • Cincinnati Bengals
  • Pittsburgh Steelers
  • Cleveland Browns

Definite Super Bowl Hangover for the Bengals, but I still like them enough to make the playoffs. I think Lamar Jackson comes out on fire this year, in looking for a new deal. The Ravens might vie for the top seed overall. I think the Browns will STINK under Jacoby Brissett, and I think they will continue to stink under Deshaun Watson. The dude will have missed nearly two full years, there’s no way he’s coming back and being awesome right off the bat. On top of which, he’s pretty much going to be hated everywhere he goes, so he’s definitely going to feel the effects of that on the field. The Steelers won’t be good, but I think they’ll out-perform expectations.

AFC South

  • Indianapolis Colts
  • Tennessee Titans
  • Houston Texans
  • Jacksonville Jaguars

All right, THIS is the year the Colts put it together and supplant the Titans atop the AFC South. Matt Ryan might not be elite, but he’s good enough, and the pieces will be around him to coast to an easy 10 or 11 wins. This might be the end of the road for Ryan Tannehill; where are his weapons? The loss of A.J. Brown is going to be HUGE, and look for them to over-compensate next offseason by whatever means necessary. I also think Derrick Henry is going to continue breaking down; they might not even be the second-best team in this division. Kill me, I like Davis Mills! I know most people like the Jags to be a sleeper, but I think they’re still a year away. I like the Texans to be a possible sleeper, since really EVERYONE is sleeping on them.

AFC West

  • Denver Broncos
  • Kansas City Chiefs
  • Los Angeles Chargers
  • Las Vegas Raiders

I kinda want to put them all in the playoffs! But, ultimately, I think the Raiders come up JUST short. The Chiefs are definitely going to be hurt by the loss of Hill; it can’t all fall on Kelce. Defenses are going to double-team him and no one else will be there to step up (you can save the JuJu talk). I like the Broncos here because there’s no way the Seahawks don’t get screwed in this Russell Wilson deal. They’re going to win 12-13 games just to spite me. I do like the Chargers to finally get over the hump and make it as a wild card, though.

NFC Playoffs

  1. Dallas Cowboys
  2. San Francisco 49ers
  3. Green Bay Packers
  4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  5. Los Angeles Rams
  6. Philadelphia Eagles
  7. Minnesota Vikings

AFC Playoffs

  1. Buffalo Bills
  2. Baltimore Ravens
  3. Denver Broncos
  4. Indianapolis Colts
  5. Kansas City Chiefs
  6. Los Angeles Chargers
  7. Cincinnati Bengals

Wild Card Round

  • 49ers over Vikings
  • Packers over Eagles
  • Rams over Bucs
  • Ravens over Bengals
  • Broncos over Chargers
  • Chiefs over Colts

Divisional Round

  • Cowboys over Rams
  • Packers over 49ers
  • Bills over Chiefs
  • Broncos over Ravens

Championship Round

  • Packers over Cowboys
  • Bills over Broncos

Super Bowl

  • Bills over Packers

Now that I have it all laid out, I could not be less enthused by this prediction post. I think I’m going to be LAUGHABLY off-base. None of it is coherent; for some reason I’m skeptical about the Packers up top, but I like them to go all the way to the Super Bowl? I dunno. This is gonna be one of those years where it’s a total crapshoot. Kinda exciting!

How Long Will It Take The Seahawks To Find Their Franchise Quarterback?

19 of the 32 NFL head coaches were hired in 2020 or later. That gives you some idea of the kind of turnover we’re talking about in the league. It also gives you a little bit of an idea of how many well-run franchises are out there. The teams with head coaches hired since 2020 by and large haven’t been very good. There are exceptions, of course; Tampa and New Orleans had legit guys either retire or take a year off. But, for the most part, when you think of the worst-run franchises in the NFL – the Giants, Jets, Texans, Jags, Bears, Lions, Commanders, Browns – and even the mediocre franchises – Panthers, Cowboys, Falcons, Dolphins, Eagles, Vikings, Raiders, Chargers – they’re all on this list.

I would say the best-run orgs with new head coaches are the Broncos, Saints, and Bucs. The Broncos just made a huge move to bring in Russell Wilson. The Saints are on year two of trying to replace Drew Brees. And we’re well aware of the Bucs and how they’ve done with Tom Brady.

It’s no coincidence that to win in the NFL – and therefore to be considered a well-run organization – you need a quality quarterback. But, even that doesn’t guarantee anything. Do we think the Bengals are a well-run organization? Of course not. But, they lucked into Joe Burrow, who seems to be a generational talent. Do we think the Cardinals are well-run? No way! But, they’re saddled with Kyler Murray through a second contract, and we’ll get to watch them fail to make a Super Bowl for many years to come. The Titans and Colts have won a lot of games in recent years, but I don’t think either franchise is super thrilled with their quarterback situations.

What I’m trying to get at here is the Chicken/Egg question: are well-run organizations more prone to finding quality franchise quarterbacks? Or, is it the quality franchise quarterback that makes an organization appear to be well-run?

What makes it tricky is the fact that head coaches don’t usually get opportunities to stick around through multiple quarterback changes. Either the coach finds his quarterback, and they make a pact to run it back for a long time, or the coach is brought in after the quarterback is already in place – maybe having underachieved during a prior head coach – and they make a pact to run it back for a long time. But, very rarely – especially in today’s game – do you bring in a coach, and he sticks around beyond the one main guy.

Bill Belichick, obviously, went from Drew Bledsoe to Tom Brady to Mac Jones (we’ll see on how good Jones ends up being). If Mac Jones pans out, I think that speaks very highly of Belichick and the organization as a whole being an environment that’s able to foster quarterback development. But, he’s also the greatest head coach of all time, so what are we talking about here? He’s a one of one. If anyone can do something like that, it’s him.

The Steelers will be an excellent case study, because Mike Tomlin is the second-longest tenured head coach in football, and as a whole they are considered to be probably a top five organization. They’re moving on from Ben Roethlisberger for the first time since Tomlin has been there. If they can turn Kenny Pickett into a star – especially when he wasn’t graded out super-high in this poor overall draft class for quarterbacks – then that’s another notch in the belt of Organization being more important than simply finding a fluke of a quarterback in the lottery that is the NFL Draft.

The Ravens succeeded pretty well in transitioning from Joe Flacco to Lamar Jackson (and even Tyler Huntley balled out in limited duty); the fact that they’ve won as much as they have speaks volumes. The Chiefs obviously hit the aforementioned lottery with Patrick Mahomes, but would he be the consensus #1 quarterback alive without Andy Reid’s system? The Rams certainly took it to another level when they brought Matthew Stafford into the fold, but they were winning at a tremendous clip with Jared Goff of all people. The 49ers have been pretty injury-prone under Shanahan, but he’s definitely built up a solid overall roster, and if Trey Lance hits, I think that’s another feather in his cap.

Clearly, this is all preamble before I talk about the Seahawks. I would put the Seahawks up there – at least in the top 10, if not the top 5 – in well-run organizations. But, maybe that’s mistaken. Maybe that’s the homer in me. After all, we’re talking about the VAST majority of our success coming in years where Russell Wilson was the starting quarterback. Clearly, we fared a lot better when we had a bomb-ass team around him – a bomb-ass team built through Pete Carroll and this organization – but even when the team around him faltered, Russell Wilson kept things afloat, almost by himself.

Before Russell Wilson, it was two years of rebuilding, with mediocre quarterback play (though, to be fair, I don’t know if even Russ could’ve won with the collection of “talent” we had in 2010 and 2011). Now, in 2022, it’ll be just the third season without Wilson at the helm for Pete Carroll & Co.

One thing’s for sure: I don’t believe our next franchise quarterback is on the roster at the moment. Geno Smith is a mediocre quarterback at best, Drew Lock might be even worse, and Jacob Eason seems to be destined for the XFL or USFL or working at a car dealership. Best case scenario, 2022 will be a rebuilding year akin to 2011. If everything goes right and we’re able to build up the roster around the quarterback position, maybe we luck into that franchise guy in 2023 and beyond.

Assuming we don’t trade for Jimmy G – who I would not place in that franchise quarterback bucket, especially since now we’re talking about not one but two teams who’ve given up on him – then we’re talking about 2023 at the earliest. But, even if we’re bad this year – which most people agree that we’ll be in the bottom 10, and maybe bottom 5 – that’s no guarantee that the guy we draft next year will be The Next Russell Wilson, or The Next Fill-In-The-Blank.

Think about all of those teams who’ve hired a new head coach since 2020. You don’t think they tried repeatedly to draft their franchise guy? For some of those organizations, that’s all they ever do! The Bears are STILL trying to find The Next Sid Luckman!

But, I also believe there’s something to the notion that better teams – with a solid foundation in place, both in coaching, as well as personnel – are better able to find those franchise guys, just as they’re better able to win with perhaps sub-par guys (see: the Titans). We’ll find out how true that is with the Seahawks, when they presumably draft a quarterback next year in one of the first three rounds (almost certainly in the first round, but you never know). I think that’ll give us a pretty good sense of what we’re dealing with here. There’s a good contingent of Pete Carroll haters out there – or, at least, Pete Carroll doubters – and I think they’re all of the same mind, that this team needs a breath of fresh air before we go out and find the next quarterback. I disagree. I want Pete Carroll here during these uncertain times. Why? Because he led us out of the wilderness during the LAST period of uncertainty.

Growing up, the Seahawks went from being a relatively well-run organization – through at least the early portion of the Chuck Knox era – to without question the worst-run organization. We were a laughingstock in the late 80s and early 90s. Really, it wasn’t until we hired Mike Holmgren before things turned around. He built us into winners. I don’t think that’s a coincidence, just as I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Pete Carroll was able to do what he did in the last decade. Winners find a way to win. They attract other winners.

Obviously, it’s fair to question whether or not the game has passed Carroll by. I think that’s the argument for a lot of the doubters. We’ll see. I think he’ll get through this year no matter what our record is. Then, I think he’ll get 2023 to see if we can turn things around and start looking competitive again. If we fade in 2023, then I highly doubt he’ll have 2024 or beyond to do anything.

The next two years will say a lot about the question of Organization vs. Quarterback. Can we find and develop the next franchise guy? Can we win with just an okay guy? If not, then there’s no way this doesn’t get blown up by 2024. And if THAT comes to fruition, then who the fuck knows how long it’ll take to find our next franchise quarterback? We could be talking decades!

2024, not so coincidentally, will also likely coincide with the Seahawks potentially being sold to a new ownership group. That’s something else to keep in mind. Maybe that’s a reason to keep Carroll an extra year or two, to make the transition. But, all that uncertainty might make a clean break ideal for all parties, especially if the Seahawks are bottom-dwellers over the next couple seasons.

What If The Seahawks Got Baker Mayfield?

All right, calm down people. I’m not sitting here advocating for the Seahawks to acquire Baker Mayfield, in case that’s the conclusion you jumped to. GET OFF MY ASS! We’re just talking things through here.

The situation is this: the Browns traded for Deshaun Watson, and gave him a batshit crazy all-guaranteed contract. Somehow, Watson allegedly sexually harassed (if not outright sexually abused) dozens of women, and yet he held all the cards when it came to his future? How does this work? Browns gonna Browns, of course, but it would seem multiple teams were prepared to go to this great length – burning down the league’s leverage in the quarterback contract market for all future superstars – so I guess I would just point to the insanity of the NFL owners themselves. They’ll cater to an alleged abuser, but they won’t even give a tryout to a guy in Colin Kaepernick fighting for social justice. Okay.

Anyway, the Browns have Watson, they also just signed Jacoby Brissett to be his backup, and all the while there’s Baker Mayfield in the final year of his rookie deal, making around $18 million. Not an outrageous sum of money for a viable starting quarterback, but the question remains: IS Baker Mayfield a viable starting quarterback? One that can lead a team to a championship?

It’s obvious to anyone with half a brain that the Browns have shit the bed in this one particular scenario: they want out from under Mayfield’s guaranteed money. Unfortunately, most of the big ticket quarterback moves have already been made. Aaron Rodgers is staying with Green Bay. Russell Wilson is now with the Broncos. The aforementioned Watson is with the Browns. Matt Ryan went to the Colts. Carson Wentz … went to the Commanders. Tom Brady is back with the Bucs. The Vikings are committed to Cousins, the Dolphins are committed to Tua, the Saints look to be committed to Jameis, the Jets are (apparently) committed to Zach Wilson, the Giants are (bafflingly) committed to Danny Dimes. Of the quarterbacks who are reported to be available in trades, Jimmy G should head that list, and so far there haven’t been any takers. So, where’s Baker’s market, exactly?

If the Browns cut Baker, they’re on the hook for his entire salary. But, they obviously can’t keep him around through training camp, because he almost certainly won’t be there, as he’s now demanded a change of scenery.

If I’m the rest of the NFL, and I had the slightest inkling in bringing in Baker, I’d play hardball and force the Browns to cut him. Then, swoop in with a lowball, incentive-laden offer to take him on as a 1-year flier.

No fanbase is excited about Baker Mayfield, though. It’s undeniable that he had a bad season in 2021, so there’s that taste in everyone’s mouths. He did have the torn labrum in his non-throwing shoulder, though, which undoubtedly affected his on-field play. He’s also, not for nothing, irritatingly over-exposed in TV commercials (based on his personality, I guess, because it’s not a reflection of his performance in actual professional football games). Even before his 2021 injury-plagued season, it’s not like Baker Mayfield was the epitome of an elite franchise quarterback. Odell Beckham’s dad more or less saw to making that clear to everyone with a Twitter feed.

He’s not particularly tall, he’s not particularly athletic, his arm isn’t particularly strong …

Funny Office Space quotes are funny …

And that’s where we are now. I still think the Steelers are the most logical destination for him, because he feels like a Steelers-type quarterback. Plus, he’d get two chances a year to stick it to the Browns, which I’m sure he’d love to do.

But, the Seahawks keep coming up in the rumor mill, and I have some free time this morning, so let’s get into it.

I’m just putting this back out into the universe for anyone who wants to read it: my number one preference for the Seahawks is to tank in 2022. That means, likely, giving Drew Lock as many reps as he can handle and watching him crash and burn spectacularly. That does NOT mean bringing in a middling veteran to annoyingly steal wins we don’t need. Draft a great pass rusher in the first round this year (or an elite left tackle, if one is still available), draft a couple of quality starters in the second round, and wait to draft a quarterback until 2023.

I have no number two preference. All other options for the Seahawks are going to be met with disdain. That includes Baker Mayfield.

If we MUST bring him in, then I would rather we wait for the Browns to cut him, and sign him to that aforementioned lowball, incentive-laden offer. I’ll admit, if that comes to fruition, I’d be intrigued.

I’m curious about what a healthy Baker Mayfield can accomplish, who is savagely pissed off at the world and hyper-motivated to rehabilitate his image. Don’t forget, it wasn’t that long ago when the Browns were lauded for taking him above the rest of his 2018 draft class. Of course, now we know Josh Allen was the true prize, but at first there were lots of questions about Allen’s accuracy and whatnot.

Ryan Tannehill is a name that gets bandied about. As a former Top 10 draft pick who flamed out with his original team, he became a … pretty good quarterback when he was inserted onto the right team. He doesn’t have to do too much, so long as Derrick Henry is healthy, but when he’s asked to step up, he tends to make plays more often than not. Now, EVERY team thinks they can rehab their own guys (to wit: the Giants with Danny Dimes), and it’s becoming sort of a disturbing trend. Most of these quarterbacks flame out for a reason, so giving them opportunity after opportunity is only going to prolong the mediocrity that’s so prevalent at the position.

But, if anyone can be “the next Ryan Tannehill”, I could see it being Baker.

Now, I’m not saying Tannehill is some great shakes, but he’s fine. Could Baker also be fine? Sure, why not?

The thing is, I don’t HATE the rest of the Seahawks’ roster. Assuming, of course, that they don’t trade away D.K. Metcalf. You know. If they do that, then the rebuild is almost certainly going into overdrive. But, with D.K., we’ve got two elite receivers, two stud tight ends, one potentially elite running back (with the high likelihood we draft another), and a pretty solid offensive line (whenever we figure out the left tackle spot).

I also don’t HATE the defense. We’ve got a new coaching staff and a tweaked scheme. Our interior linemen look good, we signed a promising pass rusher away from the Chargers, we’re moving on from Bobby and getting younger at linebacker, we’ve got Darrell Taylor who looks outstanding, and our secondary has a high floor, if not quite so high of a ceiling (unless Tre Brown returns from injury and asserts himself as the next great cornerback on this team). Don’t get me wrong, we still need an infusion of hot talent from the draft, but the bones are there for a quick turnaround (assuming we eventually get the right quarterback).

Could Baker Mayfield join this roster and lead us to a 9-8 record? It wouldn’t shock me in the slightest. That might be a worst-case scenario in its own right, though, because 9-8 doesn’t seem like it’ll be good enough to catch a Wild Card spot, even with the expanded playoffs we’ve made our new reality.

However, I firmly do NOT believe Baker joins this roster and makes us a divisional contender. He certainly doesn’t make us a Super Bowl contender. At which point, his addition to this team just smacks of Pete Carroll refusing to rebuild through the draft like we need to.

And this scenario only gets scarier the more the Seahawks have to give up to get him here. The Browns are reportedly looking for a second round draft pick; that’s asinine. I wouldn’t give up anything higher than a 5th rounder, and even then, the Browns better be paying the bulk of his contract.

The thing is, I don’t think the Browns want him to go to the Steelers. And, if they cut him, I think that’s his top destination; I think he’d do everything – including taking a minimum contract from them – to make it happen. So, the Browns should be happy to take a 7th rounder from us – and pay the entirety of his contract – just to get him out of the AFC. Because, there won’t be anyone more motivated to beat up on the Browns if he’s in Pittsburgh (a city that already hates Cleveland with a passion).

In conclusion, Baker Mayfield is my nightmare. But, ultimately I don’t think he’ll be a Seahawk when it’s all said and done. Good luck, Steelers fans.

We Don’t Root For Russell Wilson On The Broncos

I don’t know who needs to be reminded of this, but if you’re here you’re probably a Seahawks fan. If you’re from another fanbase, I don’t know what to tell you. How did you find this?! It’s not a particularly well-publicized blog. I’ve got no adds. I don’t even know what SEO stands for, let alone how it works.

Anyway, it should be obvious – as Seahawks fans – why we don’t root for the Broncos. Especially in 2022. We get their first round draft pick from this season! So, the worse they are, the better our return will be on this trade. I know, as fans of Wilson for the past decade, there’s a soft spot in our hearts for the greatest quarterback in franchise history. But, you’ve got to push that aside for the good of the team, and you’ve got to push that aside from day one.

I should also point out – for those not around in the dreaded Before Times – that the Seahawks shared a division with the Broncos for a significant portion of our time in the league. I fucking hate the Broncos based on history alone. John Elway is a douche, Mike Harden is a dick; the Broncos can go fuck themselves. Kicking their asses in our lone Super Bowl victory is one of the highlights of my life for this very reason.

It’s tough, though. Because while I would expect Russell Wilson will keep playing another 10 years or so (and I would expect many of those years to be played in Denver), he’s never going to be better than he is right now. And, right now, he’s still capable of being really good. Even over the last couple of up-and-down seasons, we’ve seen Wilson be as good as he ever was at times. When he’s healthy, when he gets time in the pocket, when his receivers are able to get open. So, if he plays for Denver another 5-10 years, odds are he’s going to be at his best in 2022.

This makes it difficult to root for the Broncos to be terrible, because odds are they’ll be pretty good. Wish (for the Broncos to suck) in one hand and shit in the other, you know?

There’s a nightmare scenario lurking as a result of this trade. That mostly involves the Seahawks bungling the draft picks they got, settling for a mediocre quarterback, and spending the next decade or more trying to find our next franchise quarterback. But, that nightmare scenario also involves the Broncos doing what the Bucs did in 2020 and what the Rams did in 2021: having their brand new quarterbacks take them to – and winning – the Super Bowl.

I don’t know enough about the Broncos’ roster to have much of an opinion. They seem to have some quality offensive weapons. Javonte Williams looks like a superstar-in-waiting at running back. They have interesting wide receivers who have been in the wilderness thanks to their inept quarterback play the last few years. They traded us Fant, but apparently have an even-better young tight end to replace him. Are these weapons on par with what the Bucs and Rams have enjoyed the last two seasons? I don’t think so, but I also don’t think they’re a significant drop-off either.

I’m told the O-Line is good at pass blocking, but I guess we’ll see. I’m told the defense is young and up-and-coming. I’m told Von Miller might re-sign with them. I’m told they have a lot of money to spend in free agency, even while taking on Wilson’s salary. They certainly seem poised to Win Now, as is the popular strategy of our time.

Indeed, they appear to be one of the few teams that looks set everywhere; all they needed was a franchise quarterback, and now they have him.

They even have a new head coach in Nathaniel Hackett, who was Green Bay’s offensive coordinator the last few years. The Packers have been elite – to say the least – in his time there (obviously, with Aaron Rodgers winning back-to-back MVPs). He seems like the ideal head coach for someone like Russell Wilson; someone who will base the offense around his top tier quarterback. What can go wrong?

Well, Russ isn’t Rodgers, for starters. Both can be wildly stubborn, but it does seem that Rodgers has bought into the system the Packers have been running. Will Russ be as amenable to tweaking his game? You have to believe the Broncos are going to utilize what makes Wilson so special – his deep bombs – but he also needs to do a better job of taking what the defense gives him. Settling for the cheap, short stuff. And he’s still going to want to make good use of the running backs, because it’s only going to make his job easier.

Russell Wilson is obsessed with being the best. That means winning football games and championships, but that also means putting up monster stats and winning MVPs. It’s hard to marry the two when the best path for Wilson to win games and championships is for him to do less, not more. Efficiency has always been his very best trait. Sure, he’ll have high TD games, but that might mean 4 passing TDs on 220 yards throwing.

Wilson becomes very predictable the more he throws the ball. He wants to chase those long balls, so all you really need to do is play a Cover-2 and wait for your pressure to get home. He doesn’t run as much as he could, and he’s slower than he used to be; that’s a bad combo for someone who holds the ball as long as he does in trying to find the perfect play.

It’ll be fascinating to see what he does. It’s all on him now. He needs to be the one to adjust. You can give him any offensive coordinator he wants, but if he’s going to continue playing Russell Wilson Ball, then you’re going to get Russell Wilson Results like we’ve seen the last half-decade. He’ll win more than he loses, but he won’t take you to the Super Bowl.

It’s even more fascinating because he has more power than he ever has before. Because Russell Wilson finally got what he wanted. He forced his way off the Seahawks and got to pick his destination. He landed on a team that’s been dying for a competent quarterback and is desperate to contend for another championship. The Broncos need him more than he needs them; he’s only got two years left on his deal. If this season goes poorly, he can always see his contract out and hit free agency. Pete Carroll was never going to cater to Wilson’s whims; I don’t think the Broncos have any other choice. They’ve invested too much.

It could be a disaster. We could see Wilson doing all those frustrating Wilson things that soured our last couple seasons. He could get injured. And we can all imagine the sidelong glances the Seahawks’ brass will give one another, as if to say, “See? This is why we got out from under this when we did.”

It could also be a total triumph for the Broncos. We’ll have to watch him in primetime a ton, we’ll see nonstop highlights on Twitter week-in and week-out, and we very well could see him with tears streaming down his face as confetti falls at the next Super Bowl. It’s all up to Wilson now. Is he smart enough to do what needs to be done?

OMFG: The Seahawks Traded Russell Wilson To The Broncos

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Who Are The Elite Quarterbacks?

Maybe I’m just not paying attention; I’ll grant you that. But, you don’t see a lot of NFL hot takes this hot coming from a television partner of the NFL, even if it is ESPN and it’s one of their talking head hot take shows.

For starters, I have to come out and say that the above link is all that I’ve seen. I don’t have the full context of their conversation at my disposal. That annoys me, because I feel like you could cut out an 85-second clip of any conversation and stumble upon something outrageous. Something that – IN context – might not be so inflammatory.

Anyway, my initial reaction is to shrug my shoulders and say, “He’s not wrong.” Even as – when I listen to it – I feel that fanatic urge to defend my team’s guy. The guy I’ve been rooting for since he came into the league in 2012. It really did feel like he crossed a line when he compared Russell Wilson to Big Ben … but, when you really consider it, is he out of line?

I have to take a step back here and ask myself: why is that an insult? Taking off-the-field incidents out of the equation, what’s wrong with Big Ben? He’s a two-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback and almost certainly a first-ballot Hall of Famer. As it stands now, Big Ben is better than Russell Wilson, with the caveat being that – in an ideal world – Wilson will have another decade to try to catch and surpass him.

Then, I have to ask why a guy like Big Ben isn’t elite, in the eyes of Ryan Clark. If Big Ben isn’t elite, then who IS?

He talks about needing an elite defense and running game as crutches, as if every quarterback ever hasn’t needed such things. My main question, then, has to do with what makes an all-time great quarterback?

Is it Super Bowls? Is it playoff appearances? Is it the counting stats? Is it carrying your team on your back and having the entire offense run through your arm? As we’ve seen with Kansas City the last couple seasons, even the biggest talent we’ve probably ever seen in Patrick Mahomes can be slowed down as defenses adjust. And, as we’ve seen with Aaron Rodgers’ entire career, you can only carry a team so far without the requisite defense and running game to help balance things out en route to a Super Bowl championship.

So, what are we talking about? If we’re talking about winning games and making the playoffs, who has been better than Russell Wilson at that through their first ten seasons?

If we’re differentiating between “elite” and “all-time great”, I think that’s dumb. You shouldn’t make “all-time great” arguments until a player has officially retired. You need to take a look at their career in total. What’s the difference between John Elway and Dan Marino? Both were considered elite in their time. But, John Elway only became an all-time great when he closed out his career with back-to-back Super Bowl victories. And he only got those when he had an elite running back and a top-notch defense to rely on.

So, again, what are we talking about here? I’m sorry, but they can’t all be Tom Brady. If you’re comparing every single quarterback to Tom Brady, then congratulations, no one else is an all-time great. No one is elite if they have to match Brady’s lofty heights. At some point, we have to give him his own category, then we have to move on to have reasonable debates about everyone else.

I will reiterate that I don’t think Ryan Clark is wrong when he talks about Wilson needing a quality running game and defense to succeed. I also don’t think he’s wrong when he says you can’t just plug Wilson into any other team and expect them to be a Super Bowl team. But, I would argue the same could’ve been said for Tom Brady. He went to one of the few teams – superb talent on offense, outstanding young defense – that was capable of winning immediately.

But, that’s why Clark’s argument is flawed. There are levels of greatness when it comes to quarterbacks, and if “all-time great” is the peak, then it should be really difficult to get there. That should be reserved for the best-of-the-best-of-the-best. The problem is, I think that’s only reserved for guys who have won three or more Super Bowls. If you want to weed out the Eli Mannings and Ben Roethlisbergers of the world (who, I agree, are not the best-of-the-best), then there’s your mark. Except, that also weeds out Peyton Manning, who many would consider one of those all-time greats, even though he failed more often than not when it came to reaching and winning the Super Bowl. And, when he did win – especially his second one – it had everything to do with having a rock-solid defense.

So, I dunno. No one is elite, and everyone is chasing Tom Brady, is my point. Or, maybe this is a dumb argument, because we don’t know what Wilson’s second act is going to look like. As we’ve seen from countless quarterbacks, just because you’ve already hit your peak, doesn’t mean you’re going to immediately fall off a cliff. It’s a slow, steady descent. He’s going to be an effective quarterback for many more years. He’s going to have plenty of opportunities to prove his value to whatever organization he’s on.

In the end, Ryan Clark will almost certainly be proven right. It’s an easy argument to defend, because it’s all subjective. If Wilson never makes it back to the Super Bowl, he won’t be an all-time great. If he never wins a second title, he won’t be an all-time great. Those are facts. Even if he does, Clark could always move the criteria around to continue making his case. You need a third title, you need 70,000 passing yards, you need this or that or the other. Something will prevent Wilson from being an all-time great; if you will it, Dude, it is no dream.

And, I couldn’t be more excited. Because if you think this video won’t be on Wilson’s radar, you’re crazy. If you think this won’t motivate him every single day for the rest of his life, you’ve got another thing coming. I don’t know if it’ll work or not, but if it does, Clark is going to have these words thrown back in his face time and time again.

If Wilson sticks around Seattle, it could be a whole lotta fun to watch. Clark might not EVER live it down! I can only hope.

Culture Is Everything In The NFL

Buyer beware, because I can already tell this is going to be a long, rambling mess. Buckle up!

I’m on record as being in favor of the Seahawks retaining Pete Carroll, even if it’s at the expense of Russell Wilson demanding a trade out of Seattle. Yes, I’ll acknowledge the obvious: it’s really fucking hard to find a franchise quarterback in the NFL who’s capable of leading you to a championship.

There are differences between run of the mill franchise quarterbacks, and those who can take you all the way. Andy Dalton was a franchise quarterback for many years; he led the Bengals to the playoffs a number of times. But, he was never going to win them a title. Not without a remarkable level of talent around him, particularly on the defensive side of the ball. I would lump guys like Joe Flacco, Matt Ryan, and Matthew Stafford into that camp, even though Flacco won it all, Ryan very nearly won it all, and Stafford very well might win it all this season. Flacco rode an elite defense and a red-hot playoff streak to a title; Ryan had the biggest Super Bowl choke job in NFL history; and Stafford has a crazy fantasy roster around him helping prop up his damaged throwing hand and shaky decision-making.

The point is, none of those guys are on the level of Russell Wilson. And I would still pick Pete Carroll over him, even though odds are Carroll’s time in the NFL will come to an end first. Because I would argue it’s just as hard – if not harder – to find a quality head coach in the NFL to build the kind of winning culture you need to succeed for many years.

Head coaching in the NFL is a neverending revolving door. Really, you can extend that to all the major professional sports.

The Seahawks have been lucky in that regard. We’ve had three Grade-A culture builders in our relatively short tenure in the NFL. Chuck Knox was the first, and arguably one of the most underrated; if he was blessed with a proper ownership group, there’s no telling where he could’ve taken this franchise. Even still, from 1983-1991, he led the Seahawks to the second-best winning percentage in franchise history (minimum of 10 games), even better than Mike Holmgren (who everyone points to as the first great culture builder in Seahawks history). Holmgren, obviously, helped build and lead the Seahawks to their first-ever Super Bowl appearance. Then, we’ve got Pete Carroll, hands down the best of the bunch. Those three guys comprise 31 of the Seahawks’ 46 seasons of existence; we’ve been spoiled with great culture builders!

You’ll notice, though, of the 15 other years, we had a total of 5 separate head coaches. And that’s common throughout the NFL. I couldn’t tell you what the average is, but it feels right to say guys get approximately 3 years to prove if they’re winners or not. When you consider it’s predominantly the worst organizations who are doing most of the hiring of new coaches – you don’t see the Steelers, Ravens, Patriots, or Seahawks hiring and firing guys all willy-nilly all the time – it’s doubly hard to turn things around. You really have to catch lightning in a bottle with the right quarterback, the right roster construction, the right scheme, and the right salary cap situation to see those kinds of quick results. All just to prolong your tenure an extra few years! But, as you’ll frequently see, even guys who’ve won it all don’t get a free pass forever. One or two bad years and suddenly you’re washed up. This leads to going the complete opposite direction with who you hire next: a stern disciplinarian might give way to a “players’ coach”, a defensive guru might give way to an offensive mastermind, etc.

Now, take a step back and look at the Mariners, for instance. Lou Piniella was our greatest and longest tenured manager in franchise history; he was out following the 2002 season. Scott Servais is already the second-best and second-longest tenured manager in Mariners’ history at only 6 seasons. Of the Mariners’ 45 years in existence, Piniella and Servais have managed for 16 seasons; of the remaining 29 seasons, the M’s have had 18 official managers (interim or otherwise). That’s insane. Merely taking into account the 13 seasons between Piniella and Servais, we had 8 managers. When you think of the worst-run, most-dysfunctional North American professional sports franchises, you think of – among many others – the team with the longest playoff drought: the Seattle Mariners. Is it any surprise that we would have 8 managers in 13 seasons, until finally stabilizing things under Servais and Dipoto? I’m not saying either of them are perfect, but unless things go totally FUBAR, they should be the ones to lead us back into the post-season (even if an extra playoff spot will help necessitate it). I’d say it’s looking good – with the talent we have at all levels of the organization – that they’ve done a good job of both finding the right talent and turning the culture into a winning one. They still have to go and do it, of course. But, that’s how hard it can be. That’s how long it can take. The Mariners were one of the best baseball organizations from the mid-90s through the early 2000’s; then they were one of the worst for almost two full decades. That has everything to do with the culture we let fall apart with the loss of Lou Piniella and Pat Gillick; finding their replacements has been exceedingly difficult.

Now, take a look around the rest of the NFL. The longest tenured head coaches are Bill Belichick, Mike Tomlin, John Harbaugh, Pete Carroll, and Andy Reid. All are guys at the top of their profession, who regularly take their teams into the playoffs and have won at least one championship. But, aside from Belichick, they’ve all weathered some down periods. Down periods that lesser organizations might’ve fired them over. Of course, they’re still employed because those down periods aren’t very long, nor are they very bad, but still. Head coaches have been fired for a lot less, because their organizatons lack the fortitude to ride out the rough patches.

Every coach aside from those top five have been hired in 2017 or later. Not coincidentally, I would argue those head coaches are one or two bad years away from also joining the unemployment line, even though they’re coaches who’ve led their teams to conference championship games and Super Bowls.

Not all of them, of course. I think there’s a valid point that a great head coach needs a great quarterback, but I would also say the reverse is true: a great quarterback needs a great head coach. Granted, great quarterbacks have been propping up good-to-mediocre head coaches since time immemorial, but a great QB by himself is only going to take you so far. How many titles has Aaron Rodgers won in his Hall of Fame career? How about Drew Brees? On down the line.

I would argue great quarterbacks are helped along and nurtured to their fullest potential by the elite head coaches who’ve built a culture in which they can thrive. It’s when they try to bash heads with the head coach and the culture where things go sideways. And organizations – fearing reprisal from the fanbase – will almost always side with the elite QB over the elite head coach.

For those who wanted to put the issue to bed after one Tom Brady championship in Tampa Bay, just look at what Belichick has done in that same time: he had a down year with Cam Newton at the helm, then he turned right around and made it back to the playoffs with a rookie QB. Now, it looks like the Patriots are set up for another decade of success, while Brady just went and retired. THAT is what an elite coach – with an elite culture – can do for an organization.

Meanwhile, look at the Dolphins. They just fired Brian Flores after back-to-back winning seasons. His first season with the team was arguably his best, in spite of a 5-11 finish. The ownership and GM did everything to strip that team of all its talent; yet, Flores managed to win 5 of his last 9 games with a nothing roster.

Now, he can’t get hired anywhere, even though I think he’s proven to be an effective and winning head coach with a great culture. The reason why the Dolphins failed to make the playoffs in 2021 has everything to do with being saddled with a sub-par quarterback. And yet, Flores still managed to coach them to a winning record! He’s suing the NFL and I think he has a point; the Giants knew who they wanted to hire well before they “interviewed” Flores for the job. Flores was only cursorily considered for the job because he’s a person of color, and therefore fits the requirement under the Rooney Rule.

Look at David Culley of the Houston Texans. He – another person of color – replaced Bill O’Brien, someone who gutted the organization in his desperation to cling to his job. O’Brien, not for nothing, was a mediocre coach and culture builder, responsible for some of the worst and most lopsidedly terrible trades I’ve ever seen. How he kept his job for as long as he did is baffling. Culley only won 4 games this year and was fired after one season on the job. A season, mind you, where the Texans – much like the Dolphins in 2019 – gutted the roster to try to tank for the top draft pick. The fact that they won any games at all is a testament to the job Culley did.

These are just two examples of dysfunctional organizations; I haven’t even mentioned the Washington Football Team, which seems to embarrass itself on a monthly basis with its variety of scandals. Or the Jaguars, who churn through terrible head coaches like cheap sticks of gum. Or the Lions or Bears or Cowboys or Raiders or Jets, who have done nothing but underachieve for years and years and years. They continue to fuck up on the regular, with zero accountability from the top.

Is that what you want for the Seahawks?

Most franchises pay a lot of lip service to diversity and doing the right thing; very few actually back that up in their hiring practices and the way they construct their organizations. The Seahawks aren’t perfect; no team is. But the Seahawks do it better than most.

I don’t worry about the Seahawks paying lip service to hiring their next defensive coordinator. Because they have the culture in place, and a proven track record of hiring based on their scheme and the qualifications of the coach, regardless of race. If the Seahawks hire a white guy, I’ll at least be satisfied with the fact that they searched far and wide for the best person for the job. If the Seahawks hire a person of color, ditto.

The thing about culture is it has to be about what’s best for the organization, what’s best for everyone involved. It can’t be all about one man’s ego trip. That’s where you see pitfalls throughout professional sports. The ego of the owner, the ego of the general manager, the ego of the head coach, the ego of the quarterback (or that team’s best player, whoever it may be). Once it becomes about one man’s quest to be the best, all is lost. That person is the cancer, and that person is who needs to go. Unfortunately, that’s much easier said than done, the higher they are on the organizational chart.

Seahawks Death Week: Talking About The Elephants In The Room

Russell Wilson, Pete Carroll, and John Schneider are those elephants. Jody Allen & Co. have some decisions to make. As I see it, the options are as follows:

  • Keep Everybody
  • Keep Pete Carroll and John Schneider, Trade Russell Wilson
  • Keep Pete and Russ, Fire John
  • Keep John and Russ, Fire Pete
  • Keep Russell Wilson, Fire Pete Carroll and John Schneider
  • Keep John Schneider, Fire Pete Carroll, Trade Russell Wilson
  • Keep Pete Carroll, Fire John Schneider, Trade Russell Wilson
  • Trade/Fire Everybody

Does that look right? It’s absurd how long it took me to figure out that 3-way quagmire. Anyway, one of those eight scenarios is bound to happen.

The likeliest three – in some order – are “Keep Everybody”, “Keep Pete & John (trade Russ)”, or “Keep Russ (fire Pete & John)”. The virtual lock that absolutely won’t happen is that everybody is gone.

Considering the news over the last couple days – and the fact that no change has been made as of yet – I’d say Pete and John are here to stay. I suppose – since we don’t have a traditional ownership set-up – they could be taking their time and might wait a little bit before making a move, but that seems like a disasterous scenario to me (considering all the teams who did their shit-canning on Black Monday would have a head start on us by now). It makes sense though, from a financial perspective. Pete and John were just extended to big money deals through the 2025 season (Pete) and 2027 draft (John); that’s fully guaranteed money. I know, in the grand scheme of things, a billionaire owner wouldn’t flinch at throwing away that kind of money if they felt it was necessary to make a move, but I would also argue the recency of these signings indicates they’re all on the same page with how this team should be run.

As for Russell Wilson, that’s anyone’s guess.

Do you put more stock in the rosy feeling of the Seahawks dominating their final two regular season games (and winning 4 of 6 overall)? Or, do you put more stock in Russell Wilson’s media campaign following the 2020 season, and how he nudge-nudge, wink-wink, wouldn’t mind being traded to a certain four teams? Everyone’s careful to state it wasn’t a trade demand, but following a 7-10 season, maybe whatever it was turns into one now.

Predicting this feels like a coin flip. I’m leaning towards Russell Wilson wanting out. I think there’s a lot of evidence to back it up. I would say, for starters, professional athletes (and coaches, and front office people, and just about everyone else) are notorious liars. So, when Wilson talks about wanting to be in Seattle, I’d put a big ol’ Maury Povich meme up next to that.

Wilson obviously wants to be in an offense that caters to his need to be the best quarterback in football. He wants everything to run through him, he wants to pass the ball significantly more than he hands it off. He wants an MVP award. He wants to be the main reason (by leaps and bounds) why his team wins football games. And he wants to win multiple Super Bowls. Ultimately, he wants to be a Hall of Famer. Because, again, he wants to go down as the best to ever play the position (or, failing that, the best after Tom Brady).

Yet, whenever Russell Wilson has tried to bite off more than he can chew in Seattle, he’s almost always struggled. The last two years of this Let Russ Cook nonsense is a prime example. It’s not ALL his fault, because obviously there’s a tug o’ war going on with Pete Carroll, who does stick his nose in and limits his rampant passing whenever the offense struggles and/or turns the ball over too much. It’s also not his fault that this offensive line largely struggles in pass protection (specifically for someone like Wilson, who likes to move around a lot and will run himself into opposing linemen; it’s hard to know where Wilson will be at any given moment as a play breaks down). It’s also not his fault that we continue to waste time with inferior linemen in general, when there are better options available (why it took so long for Phil Haynes to get an opportunity is anybody’s guess; why Pocic sat for so long after he returned from his injury is, again, a mystery).

But, I think we’ve also seen enough from Wilson to know where he’s limited, and where he’s sabotaging things. He’s not good at the intermediate passing game. He’s not smart about checking down when the deep pass isn’t there. He too often tries to twirl out of trouble or run backwards, exacerbating sacks that don’t need to be so devastating. He’s, frankly, not a good third down quarterback. And he chooses not to run as often as he should, to keep defenses honest; even if he’s lost a step, he’s still capable of running when he wants to.

Then there are, of course, all the non-football reasons why Wilson might want to leave. Seattle is a middling media market. Ciara is an international music star. Russ wants to be a Business, man. I think they would prefer he play for a team in New York, L.A., Miami, Chicago, Dallas, D.C., or Vegas. For football reasons, throw New Orleans, Atlanta, Indy, Denver, Cleveland, or Minnesota into the mix. There’s lots of options, any number of them would be more attractive for someone looking for a change of scenery than Seattle.

If we assume Pete and John are here to stay for the foreseeable future, then Russ has to decide if this is the place he wants to be. And, if he chooses to stay, then he needs to buy in 100% to the way this offense needs to be operated. We need to rely on our running game to bring the defense closer to the line of scrimmage; it’s the best way for Wilson to take advantage of what he does best: exploiting the defense over the top for explosive chunk gains.

Meanwhile, John needs to shore up talent along the offensive line, and have a better plan when it comes to bringing in quality running backs. And Pete and his coaching staff need to determine who the best players are earlier in the season, so we don’t keep blowing games early.

But, as I said before, gun to my head, I think Russ forces a trade. Now, is that something I want?

It’s hard. I know I’ve talked about how I’ve soured on Wilson after last year’s media blitz, but I’ve seen how this team can perform at its best. When everyone is on the same page, and everything is clicking, the Seahawks’ offense can do some real damage. And I do NOT believe Wilson has fallen off a cliff. Sure, he’s on the downside of his career, but he’s still close enough to his peak to easily be a Top 10 quarterback in this league, with a shot at being a Top 5 guy if everything goes according to plan. I still believe he’s destined to be a Hall of Famer; even the best all-time QBs have had down years during their careers.

Beating the Lions and Cardinals the way they did to close out the season shows me this team’s potential. That’s the closest I’ve seen to our late-2012 run since it happened. Sure, we’ve ended seasons on fire before, but not imposing our will the way we did in those two games. Again, the last 50-point game we put up was in 2012; that’s extremely difficult to do in the NFL!

But, do I want to be sucked in by our most recent two performances, one of which happened against one of the two worst teams in football (ignoring all the games that came before it, both this season and some of the more infuriating games we’ve bungled over the last half-decade)? Do I ultimately believe that this is a team – with Russell Wilson at the helm – that won’t just contend for playoff spots, but win a motherfucking championship?

Not really.

I think we, as Seahawks fans, have to face up to some hard truths. One of which is: Russell Wilson absolutely needs a quality running game and defense to win championships. Simply having “Russell Wilson: Top 5 Quarterback” isn’t sufficient. He’s good enough to make up for a lot of illnesses across this roster, but he’s only one man. Without proper support in those two key areas, all is lost.

I don’t believe those Seahawks teams from 2012-2015 would’ve been nearly as dominant without Russell Wilson; I certainly don’t think they would’ve made the Super Bowl in back-to-back years with someone like Andy Dalton (or some other replacement-level quarterback). That being said, it’s clear why those teams were so successful: the defense and Marshawn Lynch.

The defense, more or less since 2015, has declined severely as the key guys from that Legion of Boom era have all retired, gotten older/slower, or moved on to other teams. We’ve been massively unsuccessful in replacing those guys through the draft, trades, or free agency. And, as our coaching staff kept getting poached of its best and brightest, we’re left with mediocre leadership who continue to fail to get the most out of their players.

Meanwhile, we’ve tried countless times to find the successor to Marshawn Lynch. Most have been mediocre. Chris Carson was a worthy follow up, but he’s been too injured too often to come close to living up. Beastmode has so many elite and wonderful qualities – from his rough-house style of play, to his infectious personality – but one of the more underrated aspects to his greatness was his availability. He showed up, game-in and game-out.

Just go back and look at those seasons, particularly our Super Bowl runs of 2013 and 2014. Look at how many games where our offense struggled for long stretches and needed the defense to keep us in them, until Wilson led the offense to a late-game victory. Or, those games where the offense got us a lead, and the defense had to hold on to secure it. Now, start thinking about all of those games we haven’t won since 2016. Think about how the defense has struggled. Think about how we’ve needed the offense to be the one to carry this team, and how often they’ve failed in key moments.

The thing is, it’s not one or the other. You need the running game and the defense, but you DO need the quarterback as well. However, there’s only so much money to go around. And there’s only so much a GM can do when you’re drafting so low in the first round most years (that is, when you’re not trading away those picks to try to find elite talent in other ways, since there’s rarely elite talent falling into the 20’s of the NFL draft). Can the Seahawks build that defense when they’re paying Russell Wilson so much money? It’s possible, but it’s very difficult. Can a defense that’s not-quite-elite still win us a title with Wilson at quarterback? It’s possible, but it requires buy-in from the quarterback himself. And, even then, it’s going to need a running game like we saw from Rashaad Penny the last month of the season.

My main line of thinking is that I don’t believe Russell Wilson will ever get with the program. Even if he makes the commitment to stay and buys in to a more balanced philosophy that features more rushing than he’d like, he is who he is. He’s still going to struggle in the intermediate game, finding check-downs, converting third downs, and knowing when he himself needs to run with the football. I also don’t believe we’re ever going to find someone as durable as Marshawn Lynch, and so our running game will continue to be a revolving door from week to week. Finally, I don’t believe this defense – with Ken Norton & Co. in charge – is capable of being consistent enough to sustain even a Top 15 level of production.

At this point, I think it’s probably best for all involved for Wilson to demand a trade. The Seahawks need an infusion of draft picks. They need to bring in a new, young QB while we still have the culture in place to surround him with quality players in order to turn him into a winner. And, they need to use any and all resources – with that quarterback on his rookie deal – to bolster the defense like they did heading into 2013, so that we can take advantage in that brief window where the quarterback isn’t earning an untenable percentage of the overall salary cap.

If it doesn’t happen, and Wilson opts to stick around, I won’t be up in arms or anything. But, I’ll go into every season from here on out knowing there’s a ceiling to the Seahawks’ success, that being the Divisional Round of the playoffs and no further. Until they prove me wrong, that’s what we have to look forward to. And, instead of getting a jumpstart on a rebuild – while there’s enough of a core in place to possibly right the ship in a hurry – we’ll just kick this can down the road another few years, until Pete Carroll has to retire in disgrace, John Schneider returns to Green Bay, and Russell Wilson is wearing another jersey anyway.