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.

I Napped While The Seahawks Lost To The Bears

Not for the whole game, but for a good chunk of the “action” in the second half. Who can watch this team for three straight hours?!

It’s impossible for me to keep rehashing all the ways the Seahawks are a disappointing mess. Obviously, we’re all just running out the clock on this dreadful season before massive changes will be made. What will those changes be? Ditch the coach and GM and keep the quarterback? Ditch the quarterback and keep the coach and GM? Ditch all three and completely start over?

I know there are fans who want to blow the whole thing up. I get that impulse. Sometimes, different is better, if for no other reason than your peace of mind. Different might still be bad on the football field, but it’s not the same ol’ bad with the same ol’ people you’ve grown to loathe.

There are also lots of fans who have drawn their battle lines in the sand. They’ve chosen a side in this impending divorce. That’s sort of where I’m at right now. If you’ve read any of my Seahawks coverage lately, you probably know where I land. I feel like most Seahawks fans side with Russell Wilson. They see Pete Carroll as holding this franchise back with his old and stodgy ways. They see John Schneider whiffing on countless trades and draft picks in recent years. They see an elite, franchise quarterback, with a bad offensive line and a bad offensive scheme that doesn’t fully utilize his talents.

Well, you know what I see? I see a spoiled brat of a quarterback. I see someone who didn’t get his way and is throwing a temper tantrum every time he goes on the field. I see someone being told what to do, then going out and doing the opposite.

Here’s the thing: you can’t keep it all the same, because that hasn’t worked since 2014. At least one of those big three (GM, coach, QB) has to go. This will never be a Super Bowl-winning trio ever again; it’s time to try something new. But, I also don’t think the Seahawks should blow it all up and start over.

Yes, it’s extremely difficult to find a franchise quarterback. But, you know what else is hard? Finding a coach and GM who know their asses from a hole in the ground. I’m simply terrified by the notion of going into the next few years with absolutely nothing in place.

Maybe I’m way off-base. I’m willing for that to be so. But, I’ve seen Pete Carroll and John Schneider have tremendous success before in building a roster from scratch. Granted, a big piece of that roster was Russell Wilson, but that was a version of Russell Wilson who worked within the scheme that was set in place. The scheme can work! There’s no one unifying way to win in the NFL. You can pass a lot, you can run a lot, or you can do any variation in between (so long as you have a good defense; that’s always going to be the key come playoff time). Where the scheme fails is when you have a quarterback constantly going rogue and refusing to run the scheme.

We’ve yet to see this team – as carried by Russell Wilson – get us to the promised land. For as good as he was from 2012-2014, he was also severely hamstrung by a conservative scheme, and carried by an elite defense. Ever since the defense started falling apart, and the scheme started being tweaked in his favor, we’ve had middling results, never even making the NFC Championship Game again.

Russell Wilson, by himself, isn’t good enough to lead a team to a championship. You can argue no quarterback is THAT good, and that they all need a quality cast of supporting players to help them succeed. But, I would also argue that Russell Wilson isn’t even in the elite class of quarterbacks who make the players around them better. When you think of all the games won by Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers, who have always been LUCKY to have a single quality receiver (in Brady’s case, in the pre-Tampa years), these are guys getting by with less-than-elite receivers, while making them look competent. Russell Wilson has D.K. Metcalf and is somehow making him look WORSE!

We’ve had great success with Russell Wilson, and we’ve now had tremendous failure with him. We know what he is. He’s never going to get with the program, and the program is never going to fully adapt to his aging skillset.

If we fire Carroll and keep Wilson, that means we’ll have to hire some hotshot offensive mind and hope he’s a Matt LaFleur and not one of the countless fucking duds that are hired and fired within three years because being a head coach was too much for them. The thing is, you can’t hire any ol’ hotshot offensive coordinator and hope he’s going to work out as a head coach. Some guys don’t have that skillset. Some just got lucky as an OC and took advantage of being in the right place at the right time. Some guys are just better suited to be play-callers and not actual coaches. Matt Nagy was supposed to be some amazing new head coaching prospect; can you imagine the next Matt Nagy paired with Russell Wilson? It would be a disaster!

I would argue it’s more difficult to find a quality head coach than it is a franchise quarterback. Coaches are the ultimate scapegoats, and at the slightest inkling of misfortune are replaced in favor of a disgruntled QB. There are plenty of franchise quarterbacks who hold down jobs in the NFL for a decade-plus; how many head coaches have that kind of longevity before being demoted to a coordinating job, or going back to college? Even Super Bowl-winning head coaches can’t keep their jobs forever! Yet, there are always 10-15 franchise quarterbacks out there still kicking; there are maybe 5 head coaches who’ve remained with their same teams for just as long.

Give me Carroll and Schneider, let them trade Wilson, and let’s see if we can rebuild this thing into a winner again! Let’s see if we can get the same old scheme humming along. We know this team doesn’t work with Wilson; let’s see if the scheme also doesn’t work without Wilson. If they fail, then so be it, we only had a few more years left with them anyway.

But, the thought of just handing over the team to Wilson, and continuing to struggle in this fashion, because the new head coach wasn’t capable of being a head coach, just sickens me to no end.

I believe in Pete Carroll. I love watching football teams who run well and defend well. Granted, I’d love it a lot more if we found a defensive coordinator who knew what he was doing, but I have to hope putting resources towards the defense – and away from the quarterback spot – will be the spark we need to turn things around.

Nobody Wants To Hear About My Fantasy Team 2021: Bring On The Consolation Bracket!

What a refreshing BYE week for those of us in the Consolation Bracket (as well as the top two seeds in the actual playoffs; I feel like such a big shot!).

In all seriousness, what truly sucks about it is that I scored the second-most points among my Consolation Bracket brethren. And, indeed, I would have beaten my upcoming opponent – Sloane N Steady – if our little mini-tournament had started last week. There’s some conjecture involved there, but in looking at the players he left in his starting lineup – as well as his bench – I had him either way. His guys did nothing.

Which means, of course, that I’m going to get my ass handed to me, now that everything is on the line. I can’t even begin to tell you how important this game is this week. A top two draft pick vs. a draft pick in the 3 or 4 spots doesn’t seem like a lot, but we JUST converted to a full dynasty league, which means all future drafts are going to have a very small pool of talent from which to draw. We’re relying on incoming rookies, or trying to find a diamond in the rough from the leftovers who weren’t kept. Recall in our league, there will be 100 players kept – 10 players on 10 teams (each one of us will keep 2 QBs, 2 RBs, 2 WRs, 1 TE, 1 FLEX, 1 K, 1 DEF) – so the odds of finding a leftover gem are pretty remote. Just as remote as finding a quality rookie.

The thing with rookies is: usually there’s one or two obvious studs on offense. But, three or four? Especially in a year without a clearcut baller at quarterback?

This Consolation Bracket feels just as important as the actual playoffs. I’m just as invested as if I were playing for the prize money. I might be more invested, to be honest! The money is nice, the name on the trophy is nicer, but I haven’t been close to that trophy in years. I’m trying to start a dynasty! I’m trying to build a team from the ground up and contend for that trophy for years to come! I’ve been mediocre for too long, and now I feel I’m close to turning a corner. I just need a break. A spark. Something to ignite my team starting in 2022 and going forward.

Getting that spark starts right now, beating Sloane N Steady. I have to! I need this!

  • Mac Jones (QB) vs. BUF
  • Justin Fields (QB) @ SEA
  • Diontae Johnson (WR) @ KC
  • D.K. Metcalf (WR) vs. CHI
  • Javonte Williams (RB) @ LV
  • Ezekiel Elliott (RB) vs. WAS
  • Mike Gesicki (TE) @ NO
  • CeeDee Lamb (WR) vs. WAS
  • Ryan Succop (K) @ CAR
  • L.A. Rams (DEF) @ MIN

I have an interesting decision to make at quarterback. Everything else is pretty well set. I could toss in CEH against a porous Steelers run defense, but I just don’t trust him. No, my conundrum is what to do between Jones, Fields, and Taylor Heinicke. Jones famously had that 3-pass game against the Bills three weeks ago. I’m banking on that not happening again (obviously, since he scored less than a point in that game), but my alternative – Heinicke – scored only 8.9 points two weeks ago against the Cowboys (and this game is on the road!). I dunno, I may flip-flop before Sunday; the Bills give up the second-fewest points to opposing quarterbacks (though, they’ve given up a bundle the last two weeks, to Tom Brady and Cam Newton, two QBs who are NOTHING like Mac Jones at the moment).

This is another one of those situations where whatever decision I make will be the wrong one. I’m probably so off-base that Fields will actually be the big stinker of the three. You know what’s funny? Last week – again, on my BYE – was only the second time all year that both of my starting quarterbacks scored 20+ points in the same week. How sad is that? Did I say how much I need to win this game (and a top two draft pick for next year)?

  • Aaron Rodgers (QB) vs. CLE
  • Zach Wilson (QB) vs. JAX
  • Mike Evans (WR) @ CAR
  • Michael Pittman (WR) @ ARI
  • Nick Chubb (RB) @ GB
  • Dalvin Cook (RB) vs. LAR
  • Kyle Pitts (TE) vs. DET
  • Chase Claypool (WR) @ KC
  • Brandon McManus (K) @ LV
  • Kansas City (DEF) vs. PIT

I have Rodgers and Evans in the Splinter League, so I need them to do really, really well. I have Pitts in my third league and need HIM to do really, really well. The other guys on his roster mean nothing to me, but boy does he have some excellent matchups! Wilson against a terrible Jags team? The Chiefs against a terrible Steelers offense (Big Ben should be good for a minimum of two turnovers and forty sacks). Cook is always a superstar, and I’m sure this is the week Chubb gets over 30 points again. FML.

Splinter League Round-Up!

BUCK FUTTER had a relaxing final week of the regular season, going up against a team that had fully given up and didn’t even field a full roster of starting players. It was a good time to have my fourth-lowest scoring output of the season, since it didn’t matter and I won anyway. I finished the regular season 11-4, one game behind Beer Thirty for the top spot. I also finished second in total points scored (behind Beer Thirty, who looks like a true juggernaut). I get to avoid him in the first round, but this league is so stacked at the top, it really doesn’t matter who you face in the playoffs, it’s going to be a tough matchup. I go up against Vinegar Strokes this week, who scored the third-most points this year. I lost the only time I played him, when I scored my lowest output of the season. I have to go into the playoffs without Chris Godwin, who was one of my best position players, now on the IR. I might be without Mike Evans to boot, depending on how fast he heals. I managed to pick up Antonio Brown, so I might run it back with two Bucs receivers, or I might just slot Brown in for Evans if the latter is out this week. We’ll see.

Third League Round-Up!

I did it! I actually beat the top team in the league, and I had no business doing so! I scored among the lowest points in the league last week, but he scored the absolute lowest. I had to sweat it out all the way to Tuesday night though, needing Jalen Hurts to outperform Rashaad Penny and the Rams’ defense. He did, so I make the playoffs! If I’d lost, I would have fallen all the way to sixth place. Instead, I’m in second place, even though I scored the third-fewest points in the league this season. How about that? Everything is gravy at this point. Which is good, because Beer Thirty is also in this league, he scored the second-most points this season, and he’s going up against me this week in the playoffs. Yikes! Wish me luck!

The Seahawks Are Losers

I’ll admit, last night I was more annoyed by my fantasy football team almost blowing it (I had D.K. Metcalf and Taylor Heinicke going, and only a 15-point deficit to overcome; it shouldn’t have taken ALL GAME to finally do it) than I was by the Seahawks once again playing like the losers that they are.

Did anyone think they were going to legitimately run the table? If you were holding back a shovelful of dirt for some reason, go ahead and drop that right on top of the coffin there. This team is dead, and it’s not coming back.

Nevertheless, it’s not so easy to wrap my head around what’s going on. I know where I place most of the blame though: on Russell Wilson’s shoulders. I refuse to blame the offensive coordinator, because this is the guy that Wilson wanted. I’m also not entirely sure Wilson is running the offense properly, as indicated by all the times we’ve seen guys running WIDE OPEN who he is simply missing. I’m also not blaming the offensive line, though they are not as good as any of us expected, nor are they as good as they’ve been the last couple years. But, Wilson has thrived under worse offensive line conditions before.

I don’t think Wilson is done as a quarterback in the NFL, though we may be witnessing the beginning of the downside of his career. I’ve always wondered what his game would look like when he can no longer run/refuses to run and is JUST a pocket passer. He’s always passed well from the pocket before, but that was when he had legs and knew how to use them. Now that he’s more or less a statue, is he physically capable of seeing all the receivers and making all the throws? Who can say?

The obvious scapegoat is to blame the finger injury. I’m sure that will be the excuse when the season is over. It has to be, because Wilson won’t blame himself or his deteriorating skills. He’ll say something to the effect of, “Yeah, I probably pushed myself too hard to come back too soon,” and he’ll get credit for actively harming the team. The interviewer will laud him for being a tough guy, when he’s really just being selfish. But, that would only really make sense if we’re talking about the last three games. Wilson has been an ongoing problem for this team all season.

You want to know what I really think? I believe Russell Wilson has one of the lowest football IQs among all of the elite quarterbacks. There’s levels of stupidity in the NFL. Thankfully, Wilson isn’t a guy who foolishly puts the ball in harm’s way too often. But, what I’m talking about is the more cerebral side of the game. The pre-snap stuff. Dissecting a defense and knowing where to go with a football. I don’t think he’s good at that at all. He’s not Aaron Rodgers or Tom Brady or Drew Brees, and he’s never going to be them. Those guys aged into wise veteran quarterbacks who beat teams with their minds. Those guys made the teams around them better.

Russell Wilson, on the other hand, is on some fucked up Hero Ball shit. Wilson doesn’t make the team around him better and he never has. Instead, he wants to do everything himself. He’s been blessed with some of the most gifted receivers in the NFL over the years, but if he could throw the ball to himself for long bomb touchdowns, he would do it. It’s always gotta be the home run. It’s never the checkdown until we get under two minutes against a prevent defense. It’s never taking what the defense gives us. Instead, it’s trying to force his will against other teams who know exactly what Wilson is trying to do. He isn’t capable of adjusting, because he’s not intelligent enough to see that his blind faith way of doing business isn’t working anymore. You can’t just close your eyes, chuck it deep, and hope that God will place the ball where you want it to go.

You don’t ever hear about how dumb Russell Wilson is as a quarterback, because everyone is so mystified by the magical plays he’s managed to pull out of his ass at times. But, those instances are fewer and farther between nowadays. And, it’s not like you can ever get a straight answer from Wilson himself, because every interview is an avalanche of clichéd gibberish. If that doesn’t speak to how simple-minded he is, then I don’t know what does. He’s literally just memorized the same dozen phrases and spews them out over an over, in a different order, every time he gets in front of a microphone. He can’t think on his feet, he can’t analyze and react in real time; you see that whenever an interviewer really pushes him to give an honest answer, he freezes and doesn’t know what to say, and you can almost catch him, until his robot programming takes over. He’s also pretty dim when it comes to interacting with his teammates; he doesn’t know what to do around people. It’s almost sad to see what happens when he can no longer simply rely on his out-of-this-world physical gifts, because his brain won’t be able to get him out of this jam.

There’s been a lot of talk about this being an “end of an era” for the Seahawks. I don’t think that’s totally accurate though, not in the way people intend. They’re talking about this “era” of Seahawks football as a monolith, from 2012-2021, but it hasn’t been one singular era. Really, there was the era from 2010-2015, then 2016-2021. The first era was the great one, the second era has largely been miserable. The first era was the Legion Of Boom Era; the second one has been the Russell Wilson Era.

Even though Russell Wilson’s tenure spans both eras, this didn’t really become HIS team until most of those L.O.B. guys were long gone (I would throw Marshawn Lynch in with them as well, since he embodied that mindset). It’s still my belief that the Seahawks never would’ve reached the heights that we did in the Legion Of Boom Era without Russell Wilson. If we’d had Andy Dalton, or some other mere game manager, it’s possible we still could’ve won a Super Bowl, but I don’t think it would’ve been likely. However, it’s clear to me now that Russell Wilson will never make it back to the Super Bowl without an elite defense. He can’t carry a team by himself. In that sense, the Russell Wilson Era has been an abject failure.

Nobody Wants To Hear About My Fantasy Team 2021: How Low Can We Go?

Snoopy & Prickly Pete lost to Sloane N Steady 178.00 – 115.33. Thankfully, it didn’t matter that I started A.J. Brown over D.K. Metcalf (a 20-point swing), nor did it matter that I started Taylor Heinicke over Jameis Winston (a 26.15-point swing), because I got very little out of Mac Jones, CEH landed on the IR, Justin Tucker somehow only got me 3 points in game where the Ravens scored 31, and Noah Fant did Noah Fant things (which involve, almost exclusively, disappointing me). Of course, benching Metcalf, and continuing to refuse to start Jameis speaks to my poor fantasy football instincts. Should I even be allowed to run this team anymore? I’ll take your answer off the air.

That game dropped me to 1-4 on the season, in last place (tied with another 1-4 team, but he has over 100 more points than me).

Someone dropped 49ers running back Trey Sermon, so I made him a waiver claim this week. He’s not doing much of anything right now, but this whole year is dedicated to playing for next year, so my goal is to keep him (and pray he ends the year as a viable replacement for CEH). I waived Jimmy G, who has exhausted all his usefulness to me. He won’t be the starting quarterback there for long, and he’s obviously not a keeper candidate, so there’s no point in dragging his carcass through the season.

Once my claim went through, I needed to make another move. Because, with CEH officially hitting the IR, I needed to pick up a second running back to play this week. The only other running back I had on my roster was another 49er – Jeff Wilson – who is on the PUP list and won’t return for another few weeks. So, I dropped him, moved CEH to my IR spot, and picked up Bears running back Khalil Herbert.

Herbert took a bunch of snaps away from Damien Williams last week – who both played in pretty much a 50/50 share with David Montgomery on the shelf – but is slated to get the lion’s share of the running back load with Williams on the COVID IR. I very well may have to stream a second running back from week to week, but here’s hoping Herbert turns out to be something.

Here’s my lineup for Week 6:

  • Taylor Heinicke (QB) vs. KC
  • Mac Jones (QB) vs. DAL
  • Diontae Johnson (WR) vs. SEA
  • D.K. Metcalf (WR) @ PIT
  • Ezekiel Elliott (RB) @ NE
  • Khalil Herbert (RB) vs. GB
  • Noah Fant (TE) vs. LV
  • CeeDee Lamb (WR) @ NE
  • Justin Tucker (K) vs. LAC
  • L.A. Rams (DEF) @ NYG

This week, Jameis is on a BYE, and Justin Fields is going up against Green Bay. Fields had a season-high 11.95 points last week against the Raiders in a victory. He didn’t have to do much and doesn’t seem to be anywhere close to a viable fantasy quarterback. I don’t love the Mac Jones matchup against the Cowboys – whereas Fields against a poor Packers defense might actually be interesting – but at least Jones has a couple 20-point games under his belt. I need to see literally ANYTHING from Fields before I can put him back in my starting lineup.

With Trey Sermon also on a BYE, the only other skill guy I have is A.J. Brown. I’m benching him because he still fucking sucks, though I may insert him over Metcalf, because I don’t trust Geno Smith to get him the ball as far as I can throw him. I may also have my hand forced because Metcalf is dealing with injury issues and could possibly sit for this game.

I’m going up against Space Forcin’, who had two guys go last night:

  • Patrick Mahomes (QB) @ WAS
  • Tom Brady (QB) @ PHI
  • Davante Adams (WR) @ CHI
  • Chris Godwin (WR) @ PHI
  • Antonio Gibson (RB) vs. KC
  • Chase Edmonds (RB) @ CLE
  • Dalton Schultz (TE) @ NE
  • Brandin Cooks (WR) @ IND
  • Matt Prater (K) @ CLE
  • Carolina (DEF) vs. MIN

Brady and Godwin already combined for 14 points under their expected totals, which should help a great deal. Mahomes, on the other hand, could easily make up for that all by himself (against a TERRIBLE Football Team defense). I don’t love Edmonds against the Browns, and I think Schultz could be in for a long game against the Pats. Luckily, I avoided Alvin Kamara, who is on BYE this week.

I’m happy I got the 49ers running back, but I’m still pretty dismayed that zero of the quarterbacks on my roster have emerged. This is not the way I wanted this season to go.

Splinter League Round-Up!

I kicked some fuckin’ ass last week, over the guy who had Lamar Jackson and his 60+ points. It was my first 200-point week! My lowest total came from my 49ers defense, and that was still a respectable 11 points. This week, I’m already in a huge fucking hole, though, as both Evans and Godwin stunk it up last night. Kamara is on bye, which hurts, but I get another week out of Hubbard. I also managed to nab the Colts’ defense, with the 49ers on BYE; they’re expected to CRUSH Houston, so watch them give up 35 points. I can’t keep playing .500 ball all year and expect to make the 4-team playoffs! My team is too good for this!

The Seahawks Have A Lot Of Good Players, But Are Not A Good Team

You don’t need me to run down the list of Seahawks players you know and love. There are current and former Pro Bowlers up and down this roster. But, this is somehow a shit team.

It’s not even a chemistry thing, necessarily (though, I’m sure there are a lot of disgruntled people in that organization, thanks to this 1-2 start). I just think the collective of players aren’t conducive to winning a lot of football games. This certainly isn’t a championship squad!

I don’t know who deserves what percentage of the blame; I’m just going to start going through the entire Seahawks organization.

You have to start with Pete Carroll. He’s 70 years old, and he’s clinging to this quarterback and this roster as his final hurrah. Even though age is just a construct, and he’s as active and sharp as ever, all you hear about is how he doesn’t want to endure another rebuild. Maybe that’s just the blatherings of know-nothing NFL pundits, or maybe where there’s smoke there’s fire. Feels a little smoky to me. Which, if true, would lead to him making moves that aren’t necessarily in the best interests of this organization long-term. Like giving in to veterans in the final year of their respective deals, paying them extra and getting nothing in return. Has Pete Carroll lost the locker room? With Wilson’s media antics over the offseason, I think it’s fair to say that may be the case.

Let’s go to Russell Wilson next, because you’re looking at an empty start to this season for a guy who has the highest passer rating in the NFL. 895 yards (8th in the NFL), 10.4 yards per attempt (1st) and the aforementioned 133.6 passer rating, with 7 TDs and 0 INTs. But, you know what I see? I see someone padding out his stats. I see someone who is continuing to hunt exclusively for deep balls to get more highlights shown to the national audience. I see someone who has been in range of a Hail Mary opportunity for two consecutive weeks, yet checks down for a meaningless long gain as the clock expires to make his numbers look better, rather than chance throwing a meaningless interception. I understand that those are not high-percentage plays; almost certainly they would fall incomplete. But, what’s the harm in trying? The check-down is GUARANTEED to fail; at least there’s a small percentage chance of success. You’ve seen all the Aaron Rodgers throws; you saw Kyler Murray against the Bills last year.

I’m not saying I want Wilson to take crazy chances like he started to do at times last year; I’m just saying I want him to run the fucking offense he demanded all along. HE wanted us to bring in Shane Waldron. Shane Waldron has looked okay so far in calling plays. But, Wilson is going fucking rogue.

The offensive line was a disaster against the Vikings, I’ll give you that. But, when you see them struggle to protect, you know what you’re supposed to do? Start checking down and throwing quick (outside of Hail Mary situations, of course)! You don’t continue to try to launch deep balls! I put that squarely on Russell Wilson. Do you see how Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers perform in the face of pressure like that? They can’t wait to get the ball out of their hands! Wilson, your biggest complaint this past offseason was getting hit too much; do you see AT ALL your part in this?!

The longer this season goes along, and the more the Seahawks continue to look like shit in entire halves of ballgames, the more I’m over Russell Wilson. Fuck it, man. He doesn’t want to be here; you can see it in the way he plays. If he doesn’t want to be here, I don’t want to be forced to watch a slowed-down version of a guy who refuses to get rid of the ball on time, and also can’t manage to scramble his way out of trouble.

Up next: Ken Norton needs to be fired. He needs to be unemployed, and he needs to get as far away from this Seahawks defense as possible. He’s not a defensive coordinator, period. If Pete Carroll wants someone to run the Pete Carroll defense, then Pete Carroll needs to fucking start calling the plays.

I’m very glad the Seahawks didn’t do anything crazy with Bobby Wagner’s deal to try to free up some more money, because there’s no reason to take on his $20 million cap hit next year. The only cause for concern is the fact that Pete Carroll will probably still be here, and he won’t want to move on. But, this team needs a rebuild from top to bottom, and one major renovation piece is to get rid of old, dead weight. We need to get young, fast, and hungry at linebacker. I don’t need Bobby Wagner preaching on a pulpit at his weekly press conferences talking about whatever book he just read; I need him to make some fucking impact plays on defense!

Use the money he’s due to shore up the secondary, because everyone back there can go as far as I’m concerned. Just make Jamal Adams a strongside linebacker already and get it over with! He can’t cover for shit! Quandre Diggs isn’t Earl Thomas; he’s more of a Right Place At The Right Time sort of impact player. The cornerbacks are atrocious; we need a full tear-down at that position (starting with Tre Flowers, this week).

I’m sick of this team, I guess is my point. I’m sick of watching a team struggle just to make it to the Wild Card Round every fucking year. We wasted our dynasty opportunity a decade ago, and the consequence has been late-round draft picks year after year after year. I’d rather this team just bottom out, except – of course – we traded away our first rounder next year to the fucking Jets!

Which means I’m stuck with this team. Fucking great.

The Seahawks are who we thought they were. They’ll probably beat the bad-to-mediocre teams (unless those teams happen to play killer defense), and they’ll probably lose to the good teams. If there are enough bad-to-mediocre teams on our schedule, then we’ll contend for a wild card spot. But, even if we get that far, we’re destined to lose early in the playoffs yet again, before we run it all back again next year for some reason.

God I hate sports.

The 2021 Seattle Seahawks Regular Season Preview Extraordinaire!

If you feel like reading about my position-by-position breakdowns, click HERE and go through all the links at the top. And, in case you missed it, I talked briefly about my predictions for how the 2021 NFL season is going to go as a whole HERE. There’s a pretty significant spoiler in there about my feelings on the Seahawks, which I’m going to get to directly.

I think the 2021 Seattle Seahawks are going to be disappointing. That’s not a very unique hill to die on. If you’re a playoff contender, only one team’s season WON’T be disappointing. But, I guess that’s my point: the 2021 Seattle Seahawks aren’t going to win the Super Bowl. For a team with Russell Wilson as its quarterback, for a team that has been to two Super Bowls in the last decade – and been to the playoffs in all but one year dating back to 2012 – not winning the Super Bowl is always going to be disappointing. Seasons change and we’re all getting fucking older, and it’s reasonable to wonder if we’re all going to die without the Seahawks ever winning a Super Bowl again.

In skimming last year’s preview post, I think my feelings about the team are similar, but for slightly different reasons. I was probably a little higher on the offense than I am this season, and for the first half that was validated by what we saw on the field. Then, the level of our defensive competition improved, and we were unable to adjust to what they were doing to us. On the flipside, there were lots of worries about the defense heading into the season – also validated by what we saw on the field – but that tightened up in the second half (as the level of offensive competition declined, and we were able to adjust to what teams were doing to us). Ultimately, we were looking at a fatally flawed team in 2020, and we’re still looking at a fatally flawed team in 2021.

There’s a lot to like about the offense once again. The talent is on par with the most talented offensive teams in the NFL. We have a Top 5 quarterback, we have arguably the best wide receiver duo, we have a stable of quality running backs and tight ends (when healthy), and our offensive line is good enough (especially with Duane Brown back in the fold). I only have one concern about the offense, but it’s a big one: Shane Waldron.

He’s never called plays before. He’s never been in charge of setting up an offense or scheming against an opposing defense. I don’t know what it was, exactly, he did with the Rams, but he wasn’t The Guy. The buck didn’t stop with Shane Waldron. We ASSUME – since he worked under offensive genius Sean McVay – that we’re going to get “The Rams’ offense” with our Seahawks talent executing it. And, we ASSUME – because the Rams’ offense has always been so great for them since McVay was brought over there – that it’s going to translate seamlessly to our team. But, we don’t know if it’s going to work out at all!

There’s a chance the offense is more efficient, and we’re able to connect on the short passing game, which in turn will open up the deep passing game again, which in turn will also open up our rushing attack. But, I would argue there’s an equally-good chance (if not a better chance) that the offense is even less efficient than it was before, and we’re reduced to an embarrassing shambles with a guy who doesn’t know how to call plays or adjust in-game to what defenses are throwing at us.

Frankly, I’m leaning towards the offense being a frustrating mess more often than not. What’s more likely? Some first-time offensive coordinator – who no one’s ever heard of outside of hardcore football circles – comes in and takes the play-calling world by storm? Or, like the 8th coordinator poached from the Rams under Sean McVay goes to another team and sucks like all the rest?

Why is no one talking about this? Why isn’t this a bigger story? Everyone’s just taking for granted that the Seahawks are going to look exactly like the Rams offensively; it makes no sense. We’ve got a quarterback who can’t shit until he holds out for the long bomb – taking umpteen sacks in the process by holding the ball too long; we’ve got a head coach who wants to run the ball more than anyone else in the league; and we’ve got an offensive line that still has to face the front sevens of the rest of the NFC West six times a year (plus playoffs), on top of many other difficult D-Lines around the league. This is a recipe for utter disaster!

Honestly, I really question whether or not Brian Schottenheimer was the main problem last year. You’re telling me he doesn’t have a short or intermediate passing game in his playbook? You’re telling me HE was the reason this team never called screen passes or crossing patterns? Or, is it because the quarterback always wants to throw the home run ball, and he can’t see over all the linemen in his way to hit his receivers 10 yards downfield? Come on, let’s think about this rationally here.

I expect this offense to struggle mightily through the first month or two, until this team goes back to calling the same plays it’s called over the last decade. At which point we MIGHT see marginal improvement, but by that time we’ll have already lost too many games to get the top seed in the NFC, and it’ll be iffy at best if we can even compete for the divisional title.

While we’re on the topic, let’s get to probably the biggest reason why the 2021 Seahawks will be disappointing: the NFC West.

They’re all better. I’m just going to say that right off the bat. The 49ers are healthy again; they figure to have enough talent to contend for a playoff spot (and maybe even the division). The Cardinals were 8-8 last year and their quarterback was playing injured for most of the second half of the season. The Rams won 10 games, beat the Seahawks in Seattle in the first round of the playoffs, and VASTLY upgraded at quarterback with Stafford over Goff. I fully expect the Rams – still stacked at virtually every single position group – to not only win the NFC West, but have the best record in the entire conference. This isn’t just reverse-jinx posturing; I’m staking my fantasy football life on it (going all in on Stafford and the Rams’ defense, earlier than probably most any other non-Rams fan in existence).

It’s almost an impossible ask to expect the Seahawks to win this division in back-to-back seasons! Especially since you can’t really point to any one thing the Seahawks do as definitely exceptional. The Rams have a great offense and the best defensive player alive. The 49ers have a great offensive scheme (if maybe lacking in talent at the quarterback position) and a stacked front seven on defense. The Cardinals have one of the best mobile quarterbacks in the league, who almost always keeps them in ballgames with a chance to win it at the end.

The Seahawks have … a less-mobile Russell Wilson, in a new offense. They have maybe the best receiver in the game in D.K. Metcalf … who was largely neutralized in the second half of last season thanks to countless double teams and defenses (or just Jalen Ramsey) blanketing his side of the field. The only certainty is that the Seahawks have the best Safety Who Gets Sacks in football. Okay. Who was the last team that featured a sacking safety that won the Super Bowl? Go ahead, I’ll wait.

At the same time, though, I can’t say it’s all Doom & Gloom either. Because, as I said up top, this team IS talented, pretty much throughout. There’s enough talent on offense that I fully expect – in 2-minute situations, when Wilson is calling the plays in hurry-up – points will be scored. My argument is: it’s not going to be as seamless as everyone is expecting; it’s going to be a struggle sometimes. The Seahawks aren’t going to lead the league in points; they’re not even going to be in the Top 5. Talent alone will probably keep us in the Top 10, but I don’t think that’s going to be good enough to push us over the hump into the upper stratosphere.

Sure, there’s also talent on defense. I think the starting linebacker unit is solid, the defensive line should be at least on par with what we saw in the second half of 2020, and I have zero issues with the safeties. But, the cornerbacks are an obvious weakness, and there’s still the Ken Norton in the room. He’s a terrible defensive coordinator! He might’ve been okay when there were Hall of Famers throughout this side of the ball, but literally anyone could’ve coordinated those defenses and had a top DVOA unit. This is a group with a lot of young guys in prominent roles, a lot of fringe-starters getting full-time snaps, who desperately need to be coached up, and Ken Norton is completely incapable of doing that outside of the linebacker room. He should be a linebackers coach; that’s where his ceiling is from a coaching perspective. But, he’s in charge of the entire defense, and that’s where this team gets fucked.

The defense hasn’t been the same since Dan Quinn left for Atlanta. I’d feel a lot better about things if we’d brought him back this year, instead of letting Dallas take him in.

So, you know, expect a lot of frustrating defensive series. Expect teams to continue to dink and dunk on us at will, at times, in every single game. Expect a good amount of chunk plays to go against us because our cornerbacks are crappy and our safeties can’t be everywhere at once. Then, expect us to adjust and slow teams down for a while in the second or third quarters of games, before they finally figure out how to move it again midway through the fourth quarter.

In short, expect the Seahawks defense you’ve come to know and loathe since Dan Quinn left. Along with it, expect the usual Cardiac Seahawks games where they’re maddeningly close until the bitter end, with the final possession deciding the game’s outcome. You like one-score games? I hope so, because the Seahawks enjoy nothing more than playing the same fucking Greatest Hits for us every single week.

I haven’t done this in a while, so let’s go game-by-game and see if we can predict wins and losses. This is fun for about 30 seconds, right?

  • @ Indy – Win
  • Tenn – Win
  • @ Minn – Win
  • @ Frisco – Loss
  • Rams – Loss
  • @ Pitt – Loss
  • Saints – Win
  • Jags – Win
  • BYE
  • @ Pack – Loss
  • Zona – Loss
  • @ Wash – Win
  • Frisco – Win
  • @ Hou – Win
  • @ Rams – Loss
  • Bears – Win
  • Lions – Win
  • @ Zona – Win

I have us at 11-6 in this scenario. It might not shake out EXACTLY in this fashion, but I think 5-3 heading into the BYE is probably reasonable. I think 2-4 against the division is probably the difference-maker between us or the 49ers getting the higher wild card seed (I think we probably end up with the same record, but they figure out a way to sweep the Cards and get one over on the Rams).

I’d love nothing more than to be wrong. There’s a small part of me that wants to believe the Seahawks have been on this upward trajectory since 2017 (the last time we missed the playoffs). We were 9-7 that year, and have improved by one win every season since, with us finally winning the division again in 2020. The next step in that progression is to not only win the division, but take the top seed in the NFC again. And, with that – ideally – a spot in the Super Bowl.

But, usually, teams who do that are able to get that one final piece to the puzzle in the lead-up to that season. In 2013, for instance, we went out and got Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril. The Bucs last year got Tom Brady and loaded up on veterans on defense. When was the last team you saw that was THIS flawed that somehow managed to improve? Almost always – when a team is this flawed – there’s negative regression the other way.

Frankly, the Seahawks have been flawed every season since 2017; things can’t keep improving forever.

This feels like a total meltdown waiting to happen. We were already teetering on the brink this offseason with Russell Wilson complaining in the media. I’m half-expecting everything to totally fall apart, with the final nail being a Wilson trade out of here. And knowing our Seattle luck with trading superstars, he will hamstring us with the list of teams we’re allowed to trade him to, resulting in our getting a terrible package of picks and players in return.

Officially, I’m predicting the Seahawks will be 11-6 and the 6th seed in the NFC. But, secretly I wouldn’t be shocked to see us fall to 8-9, miss out on the playoffs, and have all hell break loose.

Earlier this week I called out the Ravens as the team having a Season From Hell. But, don’t be surprised if it’s us. Again, I hope I’m wrong, but I feel it in my gut: the future looks grim.

Predicting The 2021 NFL Season

YES! My favorite post of the year! Back again, boys and girls! Here are all of my prior entries:

First thing’s first: let’s take a look back at how I did last year.

Welp, bad start with the NFC East: I was all in on Dallas and had Washington dead last. That’s a big 0 or 1 right out of the box.

Big whiff on the NFC North: for some reason I was EXTREMELY high on the Vikings last year, who finished 7-9. I shorted the Packers (but gave them a wild card berth), who finished 13-3. And, I said the Bears were “heading in the wrong direction” even though they finished 8-8 and made the playoffs. I was only correct about the Lions, but who couldn’t see that coming?

Ugh, the less said about my NFC South prediction the better: I had … the Falcons winning it? I did have Tampa second, but not making the playoffs, famously saying their defense was “a year or two away”. Yikes. You don’t read this blog for expert analysis, do you? How am I getting WORSE at these picks the more I do them?!

God, even my NFC West take was horrible: I had the Rams winning it (they did make the wild card), with both the 49ers and Seahawks making the wild card (in that order). Of course, in reality the 49ers were in last place after a bunch of injuries; hard to blame me for not predicting that.

All right, not too terrible with the AFC East: I nailed the Buffalo division winner. Buuuuut, I had the Pats making a wild card.

I’m quite happy with my AFC North prediction: I had all of Baltimore, Pittsburgh, and Cleveland making the playoffs (they did!). I did have the Ravens winning the division instead of the Steelers, but otherwise I’m taking that as a win.

I’ll accept partial credit for my AFC South take: I loved Indy; not so much Tennessee. I didn’t have Houston making the playoffs, but never anticipated they’d be as bad as they were. I nailed Jacksonville getting the #1 overall pick.

As for the AFC West: good stuff in making KC my number one overall team; bad stuff in saying that Justin Herbert wouldn’t be the Chargers’ quarterback of the future. It is what it is.

If we just count playoff teams, I got 9 out of 14 (though I got 6 out of 7 in the AFC). I only got 1 out of 4 teams in the conference championship games – the Chiefs – but I had … Jesus Christ, the Vikings over the Ravens in the Super Bowl. Fucking A.

***

All right, wash that taste out of your mouth! It’s all uphill from here! Without further ado.

NFC East

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

I’m going to say we’re going to have most of a full season (if not ALL) out of Dak, and that ultimately makes all the difference. There’s lots of Washington chatter, and I don’t blame you; that defense is legit. But, Fitzmagic? I’m out; I think he’s good for maybe 9 wins. I think Dallas can get to 10. The Giants likely won’t be as bad as people expect, but I still think they’re around 6-7 wins. The Eagles MIGHT be as bad as people expect; either way, I don’t think the NFC East will be the punching bag people have come to anticipate.

NFC North

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

We’re not fucking around this year. The Packers have won 13 games the last two years and I think that will stay the same this year. I don’t know what to say about the Vikings after last year’s display of futility; probably won’t be worse? The Bears will take a step back with Dalton, before taking a step forward with Fields. The Lions will continue to be a punching bag.

NFC South

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

I know I’m going to be screwed by the Bucs in one way, shape, or form. They do have the target on their backs, but there’s just SO MUCH talent on that team. I guess Brady could start showing his age, or injuries could take a toll, but I dunno. I’m going with the safe pick this year. I kind of like Jameis; is that weird? I mean, I like him on this team, in this offense. I think they’ll be okay! I don’t know anything about the Falcons, but I hear they could be frisky. The Panthers seem the opposite of frisky; lethargic, I guess? Sam Darnold sucks.

NFC West

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

I wanted to put the Seahawks as the division winner here, but the more I think about it, the more I’m concerned by this team. First-year offensive coordinator; you think there won’t be growing pains? You think there won’t be frustrating losses where the offense can’t move the ball? I’ll have more on this on Friday’s official season preview, but it just looks like the Rams are too stacked. Stafford will throw for 5,000 yards and they’re probably in line for the top seed in the NFC. The 49ers are just all-around talented, and regression should dictate a healthier season from them. I still like the Seahawks to crack the wild card though. And the Cards should play around .500 ball again.

AFC East

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

I think this is the easiest division to predict; Buffalo by a mile (and the AFC’s top seed). I think the Pats are improved across the board and will get just enough game-managing out of their rookie quarterback to sneak into the wild card. I think Tua is a bust and will hamper the Dolphins, though they’ll be close to making a wild card. I think the Jets are the Jets.

AFC North

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

We’re not going to see three playoff teams from this division this year, and the odd-team-out will be the Ravens. The way the injury bug is decimating this team already, I think they’re in for a Year From Hell season. I think the Browns simply have too much talent throughout that team to be held back. I think the Steelers will figure out their O-Line and continue to dominate along the D-Line. I think the Bengals will continue to grow with Burrow, but it’s going to be another year or two before we can consider them playoff material.

AFC South

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

I would say I’m a quasi Carson Wentz believer. Behind a good offensive line, with a great head coach, I think he can be special. The Colts’ defense is underrated; the only question is their receivers (especially with T.Y. Hilton out). I think the Titans come close to making the playoffs, but that defense is just too awful. A lot of people are predicting the Texans to have the worst record in football, but I think Tyrod Taylor will pull it out in enough of those 50/50 games they play with other terrible teams. Don’t get me wrong; Houston is probably still winning 3-4 games, but that should be more than the Jags.

AFC West

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

I think the Chiefs and Bills will fight to the bitter end for that top seed, but the Bills will prevail. The Chargers are more of an aspirational pick for me, because I think they’re fun. I also think their defense is a little underrated, and with proper head coaching, they should be in line for a record boost. I think the Broncos will be steady, maybe 9-8. I think the Raiders will fall on their faces pretty hard, with Jon Gruden on the hottest of seats.

NFC Playoffs

  1. Los Angeles Rams
  2. Green Bay Packers
  3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  4. Dallas Cowboys
  5. San Francisco 49ers
  6. Seattle Seahawks
  7. Washington Football Team

AFC Playoffs

  1. Buffalo Bills
  2. Kansas City Chiefs
  3. Cleveland Browns
  4. Indianapolis Colts
  5. Pittsburgh Steelers
  6. New England Patriots
  7. Los Angeles Chargers

Two playoff teams from the NFC East? Have I learned NOTHING?!

Wild Card Round

  • Green Bay over Washington
  • Seattle over Tampa Bay
  • Dallas over San Francisco
  • Kansas City over Los Angeles
  • New England over Cleveland
  • Pittsburgh over Indianapolis

Divisional Round

  • Los Angeles over Seattle
  • Green Bay over Dallas
  • Buffalo over New England
  • Pittsburgh over Kansas City

Championship Round

  • Los Angeles over Green Bay
  • Buffalo over Pittsburgh

Super Bowl

  • Buffalo over Los Angeles

My backup guess is Buffalo over the Packers, but either way I’m all in on the Bills. Since I was all in on the Vikings last year, they should be TERRIFIED. Buffalo just seems like a juggernaut any way you slice it, though.

Nobody Wants To Hear About My Fantasy Team 2021: Return Of The Splinter League

My fantasy column (which is really just an excuse to complain about my fantasy teams, but also lets me provide my analysis on a variety of players and matchups on a weekly basis) has been a regular feature on my blog since 2018. You can catch up on the types of leagues I’m in HERE. I mostly just talk about my Main League, one I used to be commissioner of since its infancy back in the 2003-range. I’m still in it – with a group of my oldest friends – though I’m no longer in charge. I went and started my own Splinter League with some friends who are in the Main League, as well as some other friends, and it’s much more lowkey and casual. Both are 2-QB leagues that heavily skew towards more points for the quarterbacks (since they’re the most important players in the real NFL, I feel this is valid for fantasy as well).

The Splinter League is much more QB-friendly (15 yards per point, compared to 20 in the Main League; both are 6-point touchdowns and -4 points for INTs). Anyway, I’ll have more to say about the Main League at another time, but my Splinter League team just had its draft on Sunday night, so let’s get into it!

This year’s Splinter League team name is BUCK FUTTER, from the infamous SNL Jeopardy! sketch. It’s an okay name, but I didn’t have a lot of inspiration this year, especially after trying to compete with last year’s Pound Some Cunth, which was *chef’s kiss*.

I’m mostly just excited because I drafted a really good team. I’m not the only one who thinks so, as Yahoo – on draft day – pegged me for a 14-1 record this season. Just a day removed – even though Yahoo has tinkered with the projected standings of other teams – I remain with that 14-1 prognostication. I was also the only team to get an A grade by Yahoo (the next-highest was a B; then there’s a B-, with everyone else in the C-range in our 10-team league).

I logged on 30 minutes prior to find I was drafting 9th. That means that – again, with our scoring system being what it is – most of the top tier quarterbacks would be taken. The guy with the first draft pick never showed and had his team auto-drafted by Yahoo; as a result, Yahoo drafted him a team the way it would in any old league (i.e. eschewing quarterbacks early for running backs and receivers). CMC was the first overall pick. Then it went: Mahomes, Allen, Brady, Dalvin Cook, Wilson, Kyler, and Lamar (the Cook guy also temporarily forgot about the scoring system, but that’s not a bad alternative for him).

So, I was left with the guy I picked – Aaron Rodgers – among players like Tannehill, Dak, Herbert, Hurts, Stafford, and Lawrence. The 10th pick in the snake went with Zeke Elliott and Tannehill back-to-back, which left me in the illustrious position of getting Alvin Kamara with my second round pick. Outstanding! I’ve never had him on a fantasy team before and I couldn’t be more thrilled that he’s with me now (with no Brees, and lots of question marks on that Saints offense).

I had the usual LONG wait before I got to my third and fourth picks. I opted for Matthew Stafford over Trevor Lawrence to close out the third round (I never considered for a second going with either Baker Mayfield or Matt Ryan, who both went later in the fourth round). I’ll say this: if the Splinter League were a keeper league, it would’ve been Lawrence all day. But, we do full redrafts here, and I’m not willing to jump on the Lawrence bandwagon if there’s no long-term benefit for me. There will be lots of yards thrown, but I also anticipate lots of turnovers that will hurt him. I also wanted to go with Stafford because – like Rodgers – he’s on a team that’s going to be in the running with the Seahawks for the top seed in the NFC. If I have any bad mojo on me, and it carries over to those guys, all the better for my beloved Seahawks. Otherwise, if they play as well as I expect them to, I should have no problems at the quarterback position in 2021 (for this league, anyway).

With my fourth round pick, I nabbed Najee Harris. This is a guy I LOVED in college, and desperately wished my Seahawks could’ve somehow gotten in the real NFL draft. I was burned last year in my Main League with rookie running back CEH, but Harris seems like a slam dunk as long as he stays healthy. I can’t remember the last time I had two running backs I was so fond of! If you let me hand-pick any two running backs for my fantasy team, it would’ve been Kamara and Harris. I know guys just say things like that all the time, but for me it’s true. I think both will be durable, as well as points hogs both in the running and passing games. Plus, they’re just fun players to watch (unless they’re going against your team, then you’re never more miserable, particularly when they’re going off).

With another long wait between picks, a lot of good receivers were going off the board. I had no shot at the upper tier guys (Tyreek, Davante, Kelce, D.K., Hopkins, Diggs, and Ridley all went in rounds 2 and 3 between my picks), and players I was potentially eyeballing for the end of the fifth round, like Keenan Allen, Allen Robinson, and particularly CeeDee Lamb, were all swiped from me (Lamb one spot prior). I could’ve gone after the Rams guys – Kupp & Woods – to pair them with my quarterback; I could’ve had Tyler Lockett, Amari Cooper, or even Julio for that matter. But, inspiration struck, and I decided to ride the bandwagon of another prominent Seahawks opponent in the NFC in the Tampa Bay Bucs. I got Chris Godwin in the 5th, and swung around and took Mike Evans in the 6th. People are down on Evans, but I still like his touchdown potential if he stays healthy. Godwin is playing for a new contract next year and I expect him to be fired up to make a big splash this year, statswise. I’ll put both of them in my starting lineup together and hope Tom Brady can give it another run (big “if”, I know).

With my next two picks, I was looking for Best Skill Position Available, as the Splinter League has two flex spots (and no mandatory tight end spot, though you could play TE at either/both flex spots if you wanted). Adam Thielen was sniped from me one pick prior, so I settled for Tee Higgins, who is a guy I really like anyway. I had a chance to make him a keeper in my Main League, but was ultimately scared off by the two other quality receivers they have in that offense. Nevertheless, I expect Higgins to continue to produce as long as Joe Burrow is healthy. When the draft whipped around, I got the other running back I wanted: Darrell Henderson. With Cam Akers out for the year, Henderson seems like a strong bet to break out in the Rams’ offense. There’s a chance Sony Michel takes some of his carries (particularly at the goalline), but there’s a reason why the Patriots gave up on Michel: he stinks. I might end up handcuffing the two at some point, but for now Henderson is the safer bet.

I opted to continue going Best Skill Position Available in the 9th & 10th rounds, settling on Mark Andrews first. I’m already iffy on that, but Gus Edwards was sniped from me one pick prior (seriously, that guy who drafted 8th fucked me no less than three times). I also didn’t love the value I was getting on defenses at that spot (the elite defenses were already taken, meaning I had some questionable ones left over), nor did I love the value on a backup quarterback (which I’ll talk about later). Andrews gets a lot of looks around the goalline with the Ravens, so he’s very TD-dependent; he also can get a case of the dropsies which is frustrating. Nevertheless, he’s a fringe flex guy for me until I can find someone more dependable. When we whipped around to the 10th round, Michael Thomas was still sitting there and I jumped on him.

Michael Thomas is one of the biggest question marks of this year’s fantasy football drafting world: when do you take a chance? He’s injured, he’s unhappy with the Saints, and they have a non-Brees starting quarterback heading into a season for the first time in forever. When will he be healthy enough to play again, and how will he fit into the offense? I’m hoping he’ll be back by October, and I’m hoping he returns to being one of the most dominant players in football. For a 10th round flier? Absolutely! Plus, I can stash him in my IR spot until he plays again. No brainer whatsoever.

By the 11th and 12th rounds, it was time to get a defense and a third quarterback. Somehow, the 49ers’ defense was still there, so I grabbed them. But, waiting until the 12th round meant I had slim pickins for QB. I opted for Zach Wilson, not because I believe in the Jets rookie, but because he seemed to be the best of a bunch of terrible options (including Sam Darnold, Jared Goff, and Jimmy G).

The thing with quarterback for me was: Stafford has a BYE in week 11, and Rodgers has his in week 13. Some of these guys – like Jimmy G – might not have their starting jobs that late into the season! Zach Wilson isn’t going anywhere, unless he gets injured or is supremely inept. If he’s halfway competent, he’ll give me the two games I want out of him. Teddy Bridgewater would’ve been a perfectly fine option, but he has a week 11 BYE as well, so that defeats the purpose. I didn’t have room to keep a fourth QB, nor would I want to if I did. I’d rather have a second defense, if anything, just in case!

The guys who ended up on the free agent scrap heap include Cam Newton, Tyrod Taylor, the aforementioned Jimmy G, Andy Dalton, and, of course, Taysom Hill. Rookies who aren’t even starting yet were drafted ahead of all these guys! It’ll be interesting to see how it all shakes out. I have zero faith whatsoever in Zach Wilson, though. If anyone else even remotely interesting becomes available, I won’t hesitate to waive him.

In the 13th round, D.J. Chark was still available; that’s excellent value, in my book. That meant I missed out on snagging the Patriots’ defense (which I think will be good this year), who was taken with the very next pick, but oh well. With my 14th and final selection, I took a flier on a lottery ticket in Darnell Mooney, wide receiver for the Bears. He has strong sleeper potential in an offense that could be better than we give it credit for. I don’t know if he’ll be long for my roster either, but that’s okay. You can’t make an omelette without scrambling some eggs, or some damn thing.

One thing that leaps out about this team is how razor thin I am in my depth at quarterback and running back. Rodgers and Stafford just can’t get hurt, period, end of discussion. If they go down for any length of time, I’m probably screwed. Similarly, I only have Kamara, Harris, and Henderson. I need to play a minimum of two running backs every week. Thankfully, they all have different BYE weeks, but what are the odds they play every single game? Slim-to-none. So, I’ll have to work my magic on the waiver wire at some point (I have #2 priority after the draft, so I’ll want to use that to my advantage).

I get an extra roster spot with Michael Thomas on IR, so that helps. I have a couple players in mind as we get into the week that I’ll be looking to snag. Then, it’s just the long wait until the regular season starts!

I don’t know how this column is going to look this year, but I imagine it’ll be heavily discussing my Main League. However, I’ll also devote a section in each one to my Splinter League team. It’s too good and interesting to just ignore completely!

I’m also joining a third league – ran by my brother’s friend – but it’s going to be too confusing if I bring a third into the mix, so we’ll let that one go, unless I absolutely get a bug up my ass about it.

All The Russell Wilson Chatter Is Boring To Me

Russell Wilson’s personality is as bland and vanilla as it gets in sports. He spews an avalanche of clichés in every single interview, as if his brain is on autopilot, and some artificial intelligence pulls random clips from its central database, shoving them out of his mouth as quickly as his vocal chords can formulate the sounds. Do you want to meet the absolute KING of being non-controversial? I have yet to find anyone who says less with more than Russell Wilson.

Which is why his recent barnstorming of national sports media entities has been so noteworthy. It feels like he’s finally saying something! Maybe even – *GASP* – speaking his own mind?!

Apparently, in this world we live in today, you always have to take a side (as if the issues aren’t more nuanced and complex than that, be it politics, religion, or the highest paid member of a football team and his desire to not be hit so fucking much). Some people are upset with Russell Wilson; they feel he’s throwing both the offensive line and the organization as a whole under the bus (especially those in charge of personnel). I can see that, in a sense. He’s the highest paid player on the team and one of the highest paid players in the entire league; quit your bitching and do your fucking job. If you’re going to hamstring an organization with your astronomical salary – when guys like Tom Brady (guys you’re envious of, because he wins so much) take slightly less in guaranteed money to help their teams fill out their rosters with higher-calibre talent – then you don’t get to complain when they don’t have enough money to stack the O-Line full of All Pros.

I mean, I guess they could stack the line like that, if they wanted to have zero talent whatsoever on defense.

It’s a team game. Football teams are quite large. You have to pay 53 of them and then some, and there’s only so many high-value contracts to go around. When one player – like, say, the quarterback – takes up anywhere from 15-20% of the salary cap, that’s obviously going to be to the detriment of the rest of the roster. As any douchebag on the prowl in a nightclub will tell you, it’s a numbers game!

That being said, Russell Wilson has a point. He’s being sacked too damn much. He’s being hit too damn much. While he has been remarkably durable in his nine seasons – never missing a game – if we’re not more careful, one of those hits WILL seriously injure him. And then where will we be?

Now, obviously, as I said before, this is a team game. It’s not all on the offensive line. Russell Wilson shoulders his share of the blame, and he’s owned up to that. People seem to want to gloss over that fact, particularly when they think he’s denigrating his O-Line; I guess people will always hear what they want to hear, and read into things when they’re not necessarily there. But, it’s also true that TOO OFTEN, he’s being pressured before he has anywhere to go with the football. As a winner, as a never-give-up kind of guy (a trait we’ve come to admire since he got here), Wilson is going to try to do whatever it takes to make a play. Think of all the dazzling highlights over the years that have come off of busted plays! Those are firmly entrenched in our memory banks for the rest of time!

While the O-Line had a pretty good rate of success in pass protection this past season, I would question who the competition is from game to game. Are the games against inferior defenses propping up the utter disasters, like we saw against the Rams (THREE FUCKING TIMES), when they ran roughshod over our O-Line like they were a wet paper sack? I don’t care about our pass protection success rate against the likes of the Jets, Falcons, and an injury-ravaged 49ers team; I care when we’re going up against the elite defenses and can’t do a God damned thing offensively to move the ball!

That isn’t Russell’s fault. Especially those fucking Rams games.

If I were Wilson, I’d be furious too, seeing what Tom Brady had to enjoy in his playoff run. They played three games, all on the road, leading up to hosting the Super Bowl, and he was NEVER pressured all that much. Maybe a little in that Green Bay game, but they still put up plenty of points. To absolutely dominate a solid Chiefs defense in that Super Bowl was a masterclass in protection and play-calling.

Which gets me back to the whole team aspect. It’s not all on Wilson’s shoulders, nor is it all on the O-Line, but you have to throw play-calling and offensive scheme into the mix.

Ultimately, this makes the timing of this media campaign so confusing, because the Seahawks seemed to have already put in the work to deal with this issue in hiring Shane Waldron from the Rams. We’re assuming, with good reason, that our offense going forward will feature a much quicker passing game, based on timing and improved route running to get guys open easier. So, Wilson won’t have to spend more than 2.5 seconds on the regular waiting for guys to get open, only to huck up a 50/50 ball or throw it out of bounds while getting smashed by very large defensive linemen.

This is a guy, not for nothing, who was reported to be a favored choice of Wilson to boot! He got what he wanted: he had input about the team’s next offensive coordinator (and, by design, input into how the offense will function going forward). And he’s still complaining? What’s the endgame here?

If it’s telling the front office to find a better left guard, I think they got the hint. If Mike Iupati is re-signed one more fucking time, I’ll fucking lose my shit! He is TOO OLD! Retire already; you are literally going to kill yourself decades prematurely at this rate! Other than that, and maybe improving the center spot, I think you have to be relatively happy with the offensive line we have. Duane Brown is still playing at a Pro Bowl level, Damien Lewis looks like an entrenched starter at right guard for the next decade, and Brandon Shell played MUCH better than any of us expected, until someone rolled up on his ankle and he had to miss time and play hurt the rest of the way.

If it has to do with protection under those circumstances – of injury and the like – then a better scheme (not just with routes, but also extra protections/chips on the end of the line) should help fix that as well.

But, if Wilson’s ultimate objective is more ulterior, then clearly we have a bigger problem on our hands. Many believe this is his way of ultimately forcing his way out of Seattle. I don’t think that’s a surprise to anyone, particularly when he ended up marrying Ciara; not that I would put the blame on her in any way. I believe Russell Wilson wants to be a mogul and he’s always had that as his goal; marrying someone like Ciara is just part of that. But, he wants to be a mover and a shaker, and for some reason you can’t do that in a place like Seattle? It has to be L.A. or New York or maybe Florida or Texas or Chicago.

If this was just about football, and being the best quarterback of all time, there’s no reason why he couldn’t do that here. The Seahawks are one of the most stable, successful organizations in the NFL; if he wanted to, he could win all he wants here. But, he’s about more than football.

I agree with the point that Mike Salk made on the Brock & Salk podcast this week; I think this is the beginning of the end. It started a teensy bit last year when he made a comment about wanting more stars on the Seahawks. It’s ballooned out here with his latest comments about not wanting to be hit so hard. This coincides with a reduction of the NFL’s salary cap, at a time when the Seahawks have little wiggle room to acquiesce to his demands. If you think the Seahawks are in a position to go out and sign a high-priced offensive lineman, you’re out of your mind! So, when the Seahawks ultimately fail to cave in to Wilson’s demands – not because they’re unreasonable, but because they financially can’t afford to at this moment in time – Wilson can look back and say, “Hey, I tried, but they won’t play ball with me, so I want out.” That could be as early as next offseason – assuming we fail to win it all, as we most likely won’t – but I bet if it doesn’t, it’s at least within the next two years.

If Russell Wilson ends up signing another extension with the Seahawks – beyond this one that is set to expire after 2023, not counting Franchise Tag years – I will be SHOCKED.

At which point, assuming the Seahawks don’t win a Super Bowl next season, maybe he’ll be doing us a favor by demanding a trade. If we can get a crazy-high draft pick, or take on some other team’s disgruntled superstar quarterback, maybe it’ll be better for everyone?

But, for right now, it’s all just noise and speculation. I wouldn’t even be writing about it if there was literally ANYTHING ELSE in Seattle sports to talk about.