Jarran Reed Did Something Stupid, Got Suspended

I don’t know, man. Apparently Jarran Reed was involved in some incident in 2017(?), police were notified, and he ultimately wasn’t charged with anything nor did he get into any real trouble that I can discern, yet here we are in 2019 and boom, he’s popped for 6 games. I could understand if it was some drug thing, or if he was caught on tape making threatening-sounding comments, but this feels like a SEVERE over-reaction to a non-issue.

And you can call me insensitive all you want, but let’s see some charges, huh? Let’s see – if nothing doing from a prosecutorial perspective – at least a civil suit. SOMETHING. Video, audio, pictures, give me SOMETHING to hang my hat on where I can say, “Okay, Jarran Reed clearly did something and should probably be punished in some capacity.”

Even if it’s nothing from the alleged victim, how about A LITTLE transparency from the NFL’s investigation. Just a whiff. Tom Brady probably didn’t do anything that warranted his suspension (or at least the extent of his punishment), but at least we could point to some deflated footballs and say, “Yeah, that’s a sneaky organization, something was probably going on.”

I’ll be the first to admit that I have little-to-no knowledge of the latest Tyreek Hill case (other than the fact that my fantasy football team benefits from his being active from Game One, so this must be the karma gods punishing me for my insolence), but he generally seems like a bad dude and almost certainly did something he shouldn’t have. I’ve seen the NFL suspend guys for A LOT less, let’s put it that way (Jarran Reed, for instance), and yet he’s off playing football and our boy will miss a month and a half.

Hill’s legal team must’ve been worth every damn penny!

This is obviously a catastrophe for the Seahawks. Jarran Reed is our best interior lineman, our best interior pass rusher, and maybe even our best OVERALL pass rusher! The team was already in pretty dire straits in that regard – particularly early in the season, when we don’t know if Ziggy Ansah will start off on the PUP list or not heading into the regular season – so compounding it with the loss of Reed is absolutely the worst possible way to start our 2019 season.

Also, like, what the fuck took so long? Why do these fucking investigations and appeals take fucking forever? I mean, fuck, if we’d lost Reed for 6 games last year, no one would’ve given two shits!

On the plus side, maybe it won’t cost so much to extend him beyond this season? Either that, or he puts up 10+ sacks in 10 games and he becomes impossible to re-sign.

I hate sports. Sports are fucking dumb. Why do we put ourselves through this?

Is Russell Wilson The Greatest Dual-Threat Quarterback Of All Time?

The first thing we have to ask is: what constitutes a true Dual-Threat Quarterback? I think it’s pretty easy to whittle things down on the Eye Test alone. For starters, we’re talking about quarterbacks who can also run with the football. So, we’re not talking about the greatest Running Quarterback, because if you looked at just the 2018 season, you’d have to say Lamar Jackson was the best Running Quarterback in the league. But, Dual-Threat means he can beat you with his legs AND his arm, and it’s pretty safe to say Jackson hasn’t built up that arm half of his game just yet.

So, I went into Pro Football Reference and played around with the numbers. First, I separated all the quarterbacks into a list of those who’ve run for 1,000 yards in their careers. But, that’s not quite good enough, because Tom Brady has 1,003 rushing yards in his career, and he is NOBODY’S idea of a Dual-Threat. So, I went ahead and bumped it up to 1,500 career rushing yards (mostly to knock him the hell off of a GOAT list, because he has enough GOATs in his life).

When you list them by rushing yards, you’ll find someone by the name of Tom Matte, who is listed as a quarterback and a running back. Among all quote-unquote Quarterbacks in NFL history, Matte has the 4th highest rushing yards total with 4,646. But, he only threw for 246 yards, so he’s obviously got to go. To be considered as the Greatest Dual-Threat Quarterback Of All Time, I figure at a minimum you need 20,000 passing yards. That drops our total from 53 to 38, which is a number I can get behind.

Such a list includes favorites like Jim Zorn, Andrew Luck, Joe Montana, Warren Moon, Archie Manning, and even Ryan Fitzpatrick! But, it also includes such stiffs as Vinny Testaverde, Boomer Esiason, Jay Cutler, Johnny Unitas, and Brett Favre. While they’re all pretty good-to-great, I don’t think you’d ever fear for your life if they were running with the football. Those guys mostly just hung around long enough to qualify for my arbitrary cutting-off point.

So, to whittle it down further, I had to put a limit on Yards Per Game. Yards Per Attempt isn’t worth a damn for a quarterback, because most guys scramble once or twice per game, and with the defense not expecting it, they tend to rack up a lot of garbage yards in the process. We need to focus on guys opposing defenses are specifically game-planning for. Setting it at 10 yards per game gets us down to 30 guys, and just barely keeps Jim Zorn on the list. But, it also keeps Jay Cutler on the list, and I just can’t have that. So, I increased it to a minimum of 13 yards per game, which also managed to cut off Joe Theismann, Ken Anderson, and Mark Brunell (who had 12.5 yards per game). While I like Brunell an awful lot, I don’t mind lopping him off because I don’t think he belongs in the conversation.

1,500 career rushing yards, 20,000 career passing yards, and 13 rushing yards per game put us at 25 quarterbacks. But, a couple of names still bothered me, because mediocre quarterbacks like Jeff Blake and Aaron Brooks were still hanging around. So, I made the cutoff 22,000 passing yards, and we’re left with a Top 23. This fits better with my idea of a Dual-Threat Quarterback.

For what it’s worth, I was going to be more strict with the Rushing Yards Per Game, and set it at 20, to really separate the wheat from the chaff, but that ended up cutting off guys like John Elway, Fran Tarkenton, Roger Staubach, and Aaron Rodgers. While I don’t consider A-Rod to be a “running quarterback” per se, he’s still lumped into that Dual-Threat mold, even though his arm is VASTLY superior to his running ability (I’d put it at somewhere like 90/10, or 80/20 at the very most). And, while Elway certainly slowed down on running in his old age, you just can’t have this conversation without him.

There are a number of ways to go about ranking these guys, but I’m just going to go by Who I Would Most Want On My Football Team, at the beginning of their careers, for the duration of their careers.

I’m also going to split them up even further, because ultimately I have a Top 4 REAL Dual-Threat Quarterbacks.

There’s no perfect way to rank these guys, because all of the ones in the aforementioned Top 23 are much more passers than runners. But, I would argue that the vast majority of them are more “scramblers” than actual threats to run downfield with the football. So, if I had to pick a Top 10, I would definitely include guys like Andrew Luck (10), Donovan McNabb (9), Steve McNair (8), Fran Tarkenton (7), John Elway (6), and Aaron Rodgers (5). Those guys have a ton of rushing yards, pretty solid Yards Per Game averages, and a ton of passing yards. But, to me, they’re not REAL Dual-Threat Quarterbacks in the sense I’m defining here.

Just outside my Top 10, I might add, we have Alex Smith, who I wouldn’t have expected to show up here, except he has over 34,000 passing yards, over 2,600 rushing yards, and averages over 15 rushing yards per game. I’m also leaving out Michael Vick, because his passing game was far too weak to be considered, even though he leads all QBs in total and per game rushing yards.

My Top 4 includes Randall Cunningham (4) and Cam Newton (3). I LOVE me some QB Eagles, and if their careers both ended today, he’d actually rank ahead of Cam. But, given Cam’s age and the fact that he has so much left in the tank, he’s easily the superior option. Even though I don’t love the way he reacts in losing situations, it would be idiotic to keep Newton outside of the Top 3.

My Top 2 should come as no surprise. In some order, it’s Russell Wilson and Steve Young. Young has over 33,000 passing yards, over 4,200 rushing yards, and over 25 yards per game. He’s right in that sweet spot of elite passer and elite runner, and if you just count his prime (from 1991-1998), you’re talking about eight Hall of Fame seasons where he averaged nearly 4,000 passing yards and 28 passing touchdowns, with an average of over 400 rushing yards and 5 rushing touchdowns. I mean, just unstoppable production, and his total career could’ve been so much better if he A) wasn’t saddled behind Joe Montana for so long, and B) didn’t succumb to head injuries (among other maladies) late in his career.

So, if we’re just talking about today, I have Steve Young at #1 and Russell Wilson #2, but it won’t be too much longer before Russell Wilson is the All Time Greatest Dual-Threat Quarterback, with Cam Newton coming in at #2 (in other words, we’re watching the two greatest Dual-Threat Quarterbacks while they’re in their primes, and that’s pretty amazing).

Not for nothing, but if you compare Young’s best 7 years to Wilson’s only 7 years, you can see what I’m talking about:

  • Steve Young 1992-1998: 24,266 passing yards, 178 TDs, 68 INTs, 66.9% completions; 2,450 rushing yards, 29 TDs, 5.8 yards per attempt
  • Russell Wilson 2012-2018: 25,624 passing yards, 196 TDs, 63 INTs, 64.2% completions; 3,651 rushing yards, 16 TDs, 5.7 yards per attempt

As I said, it’s only a matter of time before Wilson surpasses him in all career numbers. And, considering Wilson’s best statistical years might still be ahead of him, it could be sooner than we think.

Finally, I know nobody likes talking about superficial things QB Winzzz or Pro Bowl/Playoff appearances, but I’m sorry, you just can’t have this discussion without bringing those into the mix. Young’s record as a 49ers quarterback was 91-33 over 13 years; Wilson is 75-36-1. Young was in 7 Pro Bowls to Wilson’s 5, and he was on 3 First All Pro Teams to Wilson’s 0. Young has 14 Playoff Games Started to Wilson’s 13, with an 8-6 record to Wilson’s 8-5. Young, of course, has 3 rings to Wilson’s 1, but two of Young’s were as a backup to Montana. Finally, Young has 2 MVPs to Wilson’s 0, and 1 Super Bowl MVP to Wilson’s 0. Wilson is RIGHT THERE in so many areas, but just not quite over the hump.

Not yet, that is.

Russell Wilson Will Be The NFL MVP For The 2019 Season

SCORCHING MOLTEN LAVA TAKE ALERT! This is one of those things where if I’m right, I’ll be crowing like a jackass for the rest of my life. And, if I’m wrong, then it’ll never be spoken of again.

Remember the time I predicted the Seahawks would beat the Broncos in the Super Bowl before the season started?

Remember the time before that when I predicted the Ravens would beat the 49ers in the Super Bowl just 1 week into the regular season?

I’ll leave it to the rest of you to find all the times I’ve been wrong, and go out on a limb to say I’m the greatest sports mind of our generation.

I don’t often do a lot of prognosticating on the NFL’s MVP award – or ANY MVP award, really – because I kind of don’t care about it. The only time a Seahawk has won was in 2005, when Shaun Alexander ran for 1,880 yards and 27 touchdowns in leading the Seahawks to their first-ever Super Bowl appearance in a 13-3 regular season. I argued this at the time and maintain it to this day: the most important player to the Seahawks’ success that year was actually Matt Hasselbeck (we NEVER would’ve gotten anywhere without him), but since he didn’t have insanely gaudy stats (3,459 yards, 65.5% completions, 24 TDs, 9 INTs) he didn’t stand a chance.

Which brings me right back to this year and begs the question: if gaudy stats are a precursor, WHY IN THE HOLY HELL WOULD I PREDICT RUSSELL WILSON FOR THIS AWARD?

Look, it’s not the most thought-out opinion I’ve ever had. 99% of everything I say on here I pull straight from my gut, which has been notoriously inconsistent over the years. But, I’ll try to make an argument and you take it with however much salt you want.

Last year, Wilson had a pretty impressive season: 3,448 yards, 65.6% completions, 35 touchdowns, 7 interceptions, and a 110.9 passer rating. Of course, that was nothing compared to Patrick Mahomes’ season (the actual MVP): 5,097 yards, 66.0% completions, 50 TDs, 12 INTs, and 113.8 rating. Every step of the way (except for INTs) he was better than Wilson.

Well, the first part of my argument is that I believe Mahomes takes a step back in his second full year as a starter. I think he’ll come down to Earth and be more in the middle of the pack. He’ll almost certainly throw for over 4,000 yards, but I don’t think he’ll approach 50 TDs again, and I think his INTs will increase. I would also argue that whenever someone wins as thoroughly as he has, there’s inevitably a backlash among voters, who are constantly looking to give the award to someone different. If you don’t believe that to be true, then please explain to me why LeBron James has zero MVP awards since the 2012/2013 season, in spite of the fact that until this year, he carried his teams to every single NBA Championship series in that span. Also, while you’re at it, tell me why Bill Belichick hasn’t won since 2010 and yet Bruce Arians and Ron Rivera have both won twice in that span.

So, if you bet Mahomes at +400, you’re throwing your money away. Which brings me to the current betting odds:

  • Patrick Mahomes +400
  • Drew Brees +700
  • Aaron Rodgers +800
  • Andrew Luck +800
  • Tom Brady +1000
  • Baker Mayfield +1400
  • Russell Wilson +1600
  • Carson Wentz +1900
  • Philip Rivers +2200
  • Deshaun Watson +2500

That’s just the top 10. Some things stand out. All of those guys are quarterbacks (the most important players in the game) and all of those guys are projected to be in the playoffs (or at least contending for the playoffs). While being a quarterback isn’t a MUST, it’s certainly the safest bet. For a non-quarterback to win it, he has to do something REALLY special. Like Shaun Alexander’s touchdown totals. The last non-quarterback to win it was in 2012 when Adrian Peterson came within 8 yards of the all-time rushing yards record in a single season. The time before that, it was LaDainian Tomlinson the year after Alexander, when he ran for 1,815 yards and broke Alexander’s rushing touchdown record with 28.

If I were going to pick a non-QB in 2019, I’d lean towards Saquon Barkley (at +4000), but the Giants are so bad that he would literally have to break every single rushing record for it to happen.

Anyway, as you can see, Wilson is firmly in the Top 10 (shamefully behind Baker Mayfield, which is just a crime against humanity at this point), so Vegas likes his chances. With his new contract extension, Wilson’s name is in the zeitgeist. And, at this junction in his career, I believe there are enough fervent Wilson believers out there to really help make his case and keep his name alive.

Now, he can’t do it alone. It’s going to require the Seahawks to get back to the playoffs. It’ll probably even require the Seahawks to win the NFC West, which I believe this team is capable of. Ideally, the Seahawks will be a top 1 or 2 seed and have a BYE in the playoffs. Something like 12-4 could accomplish this, if everything breaks right. The Rams, you figure, are in for a Super Bowl hangover. The Saints and Bears figure to be our biggest obstacles, as I believe the NFC East will feast upon itself to keep their records down.

Playing well in marquee games is also a must. The Seahawks have five primetime games scheduled, including three in a row late in the season, right in that window where we separate the men from the boys in races like these. Wilson has traditionally stepped up big in these games, so I don’t see that as being an issue either.

With the team playing well, and with his reputation intact, that just leaves his biggest hurdle: his numbers.

Wilson has thrown for over 4,000 yards only twice in his career (though he was 17 yards away in 2017 from making it three times), and last year he was obviously limited by the offense’s design. Part of that was a backlash against the losses in our first two weeks, when the coaching staff had to re-set everything. But, ultimately this team was so successful running the ball that there wasn’t always a serious need to get things done through the air. While the plan heading into the season will be more of the same run-centric style, it wouldn’t totally shock me to see our effectiveness on the ground weaken (much in the same way that I see Mahomes’ numbers taking a dive). Opposing defenses will game plan better. And, I figure injuries will play a more significant role (Carson played in 14 games; I could see that dropping as he doesn’t seem like a guy who can stay healthy for the duration) with both the running backs and the O-Line. There’s no Mike Davis, who was a solid contributor, and I seriously question whether Penny will be up to the task if he’s thrust into the #1 role. There should be just enough of a dip in the running game to add a few hundred more yards to Wilson’s passing total.

On top of that, Wilson’s rushing yards are going to continue to go down with every year. He’s a quarterback, and an elite one at that. Elite quarterbacks throw the ball or hand it off, period. He’s heading into his 8th season, which puts him squarely in his prime. He’s had a Hall of Fame trajectory to this point in his career, and I don’t know a whole lot of Hall of Fame quarterbacks who haven’t won an MVP award. With that in mind, it sort of feels like it’s his destiny to win this award at least once. If we get to the end of the season, and no one has really stood out with awe-inspiring numbers at any position, maybe the voters will look around, see Wilson sitting there with 0 career MVPs, and figure he’s due. People have voted for things based on dumber logic before (say hello to every politician who ever seemed like a guy you’d want to have a beer with).

Getting back to the numbers, though, Wilson’s best chance seems to be with his touchdowns. While he was a far cry from Mahomes’ 50 last year, Wilson was still tied for third with 35. In 2017, he led the league with 34. In 2015, he came in sixth also with 34. I could easily see that number jump up into the 40’s, which should put him well within range. More than that, he’s usually very careful with the ball. Last year he tied a career low with only 7 INTs. I feel with his ability, he can shave that down even further. If he has an insane TD:INT ratio of something like 40:3, that’s the sort of stat that could push him over the top.

Finally, if we’re truly talking about the Most VALUABLE Player, then who has had more value to his team than Russell Wilson in his career to date? The knock against him has always been that he’s had an elite defense (except for last year) or an elite running game (except for a few years there post-Beastmode). Well, I’ve already argued that I don’t believe the running game will be as exceptional as it was in 2018, and as for the defense, it was already middle-of-the-road last year; this year, I think middle-of-the-road will be this unit’s CEILING. I think the defense could be truly terrible this year. We’ll likely rank in the bottom third or bottom quarter in the league in sacks and turnovers.

In 2018, the Seahawks had 43 sacks, 13 of which belonged to Frank Clark. 43 put us 11th in football; 30 would’ve been tied for 30th. Ziggy Ansah figures to mitigate some of that, but I highly doubt he’s going to get us all the way there. In fact, I don’t think he’ll even get us halfway there (yes, I’m putting Ansah’s over/under of sacks at 6.5, and I’ll bet the under). With no one else coming in to help account for the loss of Clark’s production (both in sacks, and in the help he provided someone like Jarran Reed, who saw his numbers skyrocket playing with Clark on the outside next to him). If Reed is our only pass-rushing threat (assuming Ansah misses multiple games, or plays through injury and is ineffective as a result), he can be easily neutralized, sending the D-Line tumbling towards the bottom of the league.

In 2018, the Seahawks had 12 interceptions, 5 of which belonged to Earl Thomas, Justin Coleman, and Frank Clark. 12 put us tied for 18th in football; 7 would’ve been tied for 29th. Bradley McDougald had 3 of his own last year, but he’s also an injury waiting to happen. Of our younger core in the defensive backfield, Shaquill Griffin, Tedric Thompson, Delano Hill, and Tre Flowers all combined for 3 total INTs (Hill and Flowers combining for 0). Who did we add to this group? A couple of rookies, and presumably whatever veterans we bring into Training Camp later this summer. There just isn’t a lot of turnover production in this unit. With the D-Line unable to get pressure, that puts more of the onus on the secondary, which is not NEARLY as talented as the Legion of Boom in its prime.

Now, of course, the Seahawks tied for the league lead in fumble recoveries in 2018, but as we all know, that’s largely based on the luck of the bouncing ball. We did tie for third in forced fumbles, which you’d hope would translate, but again our leader in that category – Frank Clark – is gone.

My point with all of this is to further indicate that I think the Seahawks’ defense will be bad. Our only hope is that we hold teams to an inordinate amount of field goals. But, my expectation is, for the Seahawks to win a lot of games, we’re going to rely exclusively on our offense. That means Russell Wilson will have to do considerably more than he had to do in 2018.

All that being said, it still doesn’t feel like a strong argument, and I get that. All I can say is, with this being the second season with a new offensive coordinator, you have to figure Brian Schottenheimer has had a full year to work with this team, and a second full off-season to tinker with his scheme. While it’ll be foolish to expect the running game to take a complete back seat, I think his ability to adjust in games will improve. With the defense putting us into more passing situations – based on game score alone – I think it’ll open things up for Wilson to really shine like he’s never quite shone before.

Wilson has had spurts. The back-half of his 2015 was as brilliant as it gets; if he had a full season of that, he’d be a hands-down winner of the MVP. I also thought 2018 was his best year yet, particularly from an efficiency standpoint. If we keep the efficiency (or even improve upon it slightly), increase touchdowns, decrease turnovers, and boost up those yards, there won’t be any other excuses to keep him from his due. ESPECIALLY when you consider Baldwin retired, and Lockett is his only quality veteran receiver heading into this season. Voters won’t have the L.O.B. to fall back on, nor will they have as dominant of a running game. They’ll have 8 full years’ worth of elite game play, with 2019 as a coronation of sorts.

In a muddled year of MVP candidates, Wilson will win it in a close voting battle. Mark my words (unless I’m wrong, then forget this ever happened).

Can The Seahawks Win With Russell Wilson Making A Million-Billion Dollars?

There are two schools of thought dominating the NFL landscape nowadays:

  1. You can’t win without a Franchise Quarterback
  2. You can’t win with a Franchise Quarterback taking up too high of a percentage of your salary cap

Which essentially boils down to:

  1. You can only win with a Franchise Quarterback on his rookie deal, or
  2. You can only win if you have Tom Brady and you cheat the salary cap in some way that has yet to be exposed

So, that’s great if you’re the cheatin’-ass Patriots, but otherwise it’s a pretty minuscule window of opportunity for the rest of the league. For starters, how many Franchise Quarterbacks are there in the league right now? Let’s count ’em out, in no particular order:

  1. Tom Brady
  2. Ben Roethlisberger
  3. Andrew Luck
  4. Patrick Mahomes
  5. Philip Rivers
  6. Aaron Rodgers
  7. Matt Ryan
  8. Cam Newton
  9. Drew Brees
  10. Russell Wilson

I think that’s pretty much it. You could make an argument for Deshaun Watson, Carson Wentz, and Kirk Cousins, but I think you could also make plenty of arguments against those guys as well. Anyone I haven’t listed here is on that next tier down; doesn’t mean you can’t win a Super Bowl with those guys (see: Eli Manning, Nick Foles, Joe Flacco), but obviously you need to hit on a roster full of studs around them.

Regardless, we’re talking approximately a third of the league having bona fide Franchise Quarterbacks. Everyone else has some variation on a question mark. Everyone else needs to be special in other ways (like the Rams, with their coaching staff) or they’re selling out to find that elusive game-changer at the game’s most important position.

So, let’s pull it back to just the cream of the crop; how many are Tom Brady or on a rookie deal? Well, Tom Brady is Tom Brady, so the Pats are set. Other than him, you’re talking about Mahomes, Watson, Wentz, the Rams (in spite of Goff more than because of him), and let’s throw in the Browns for shits n’ giggles. We’re talking about 6 teams who are in a prime position with their quarterback and salary cap situations; should we just lop off the rest of the teams in the league?

Or, do the Seahawks have a shot?

It’s funny, because in the days leading up to Russell Wilson’s contract extension, everything I read was some variation on: DON’T BE STUPID, YOU HAVE TO EXTEND WILSON BECAUSE HE’S AMAZING! Then, as soon as Wilson announced his signing, everything I’ve read since was: THE SEAHAWKS ARE PAYING TOO MUCH FOR THEIR QUARTERBACK, THEY’LL NEVER WIN!

Ostensibly, the argument is: if you’re going to run all the damn time, what’s the point in paying a quarterback $35 million a year? Pay someone adequate like Case Keenum to be a game manager, and use the rest of the money to bolster other areas.

The first knock against that line of thinking is that you’re never going to build the perfect team. The 2013 Seahawks were a fucking unicorn; being able to draft or otherwise acquire that much Hall of Fame talent in one roster is nearly impossible. There are always going to be holes and weaknesses, even on the best teams, and that’s before you get into the injury attrition that nearly every team faces every single year.

The second knock against that line of thinking is that, even on the best teams, you’re still going to need your quarterback to put the team on his back and win you a handful of games. Even the 2013 Seahawks needed some Russell Wilson magic against Carolina, St. Louis, Tampa Bay, and the 49ers in the NFC Championship Game (before The Tip, there was the 4th down bomb to Kearse). Could you envision that team with the likes of Case Keenum winning it all? Because I can’t.

In fact, I would argue that it’s even MORE important to have someone as clutch and efficient as Wilson on a team like the 2018 Seahawks, where running on 1st & 2nd downs were the norm. There’s so much more strain on Wilson to do more with fewer opportunities than there is on someone like Mahomes, who threw it 36 times a game compared to Wilson’s just under 27 attempts.

Ultimately, in the reality we’re living in, would you rather have Wilson on the deal he got, or whatever’s behind Door #2 (maybe trade him for draft picks while he’s got the most value, then either try to acquire whatever semi-competent veteran is still on the market, suck for a year with Paxton Lynch, and/or draft a new QB in this year’s questionable class)?

For me, I’ll take the certainty that Russell Wilson provides.

The obvious trade-off, though, is that there’s not as much money left to spread around the rest of the roster. Which gets us back to the topic of this post: can the Seahawks win with Russell Wilson making a million-billion dollars?

The answer, of course, is yes. How likely is it? I dunno, but let me flip it back on you: how likely is it for ANY team to win a Super Bowl? Because, that’s what we’re talking about, right? The worst nightmare of any NFL fan is ranging anywhere from 8-8 to 10-6 and at best winning a Wild Card berth while going nowhere in the playoffs and constantly drafting in the mid-20’s. If that’s what we’re doomed to be for the next 5 years with Russell Wilson under this contract, then I’ll admit to being pretty disappointed. It’ll further fuel the fire of those who list off all the Super Bowl champion teams with quarterbacks making under such-and-such percent of their team’s cap (conveniently ignoring the cap status of those teams who lost their respective Super Bowls, though they were just as capable of winning those games had certain things broken their way).

Ultimately, it’s all randomness! There’s no one blueprint to winning a Super Bowl (unless you cheat and get away with it like the Patriots). You need a good quarterback, we know that. Beyond that, you need the strengths of your team to overcome the weaknesses. You don’t NEED a dominant defense, you can easily overcome that the way the Chiefs did last year by scoring a ton of points. Even the Pats never really have super great defenses, but the coaches scheme the shit out of their opponents and ultimately those D’s do just enough to put Brady & Co. in position to win (the fact that the Pats constantly get to coast to a division championship every single year because the Bills, Dolphins, and Jets are all inept notwithstanding).

I would argue, the Seahawks have a Top 5 quarterback. The Seahawks have a Top 5 coaching staff. The Seahawks have enough skill position players on offense to move the ball and score on the regular, as well as an offensive line that can keep the whole thing moving. The question at this point would be: do the Seahawks have enough talent on defense to take it to the next level and compete for a divisional title? Or, conversely, do the Seahawks have enough on offense to mask their defensive deficiencies? That ultimately remains to be seen.

More than anything, if the Franchise Quarterback is 1-A most important, luck is 1-B. Good luck with injuries. Good luck with hitting on draft picks and free agent signings. And good luck with key roster guys making big leaps from year to year. And, quite frankly, good luck in those 50/50 games that keep a 10-6 team from being 12-4 or better. The Rams were 3 games better than the Seahawks, but beat us by a combined 7 points in two games. What happens if we find a way to win those two? What happens if we beat the Broncos in week 1, or the lowly 49ers in week 15? Just a couple bounces of the football here or there. What happens if we keep Dak from scoring on that insane 4th down run in the Wild Card game?

Sure, you need the Franchise Quarterback to put you in a position to win those 50/50 games, but it’s luck more than anything else that decides if you’re going to be 13-3 or 10-6.

My thought process, heading into the 2019 season, is we’ve got the most important piece locked in. Luck will hash out the way it hashes out. But, beyond that, I think the Seahawks have a winning formula they can follow. I believe in this team running the football, using its giant goons up front to punish opposing defenses. Running the football keeps the clock moving, keeps the defense off the field, and limits the punishment Wilson has to face (especially when you factor in how our O-Line still isn’t super great at pass protection).

The Seahawks were 6th in points per game with 26.8. That’s with a new offensive coordinator, a new offensive line coach, and a lot of new pieces on that side of the football. Sure, it ended crappy in Dallas, but I think with the continuity in place, this coaching staff learned a lot about what this team is made of. I think they’ll be able to tweak things enough to improve upon those points per game and be even more efficient going forward, without the need to drastically increase the number of times we throw the football. Having all of this set and ready to go TODAY – as opposed to learning on the fly and figuring things out heading into Week 3 last year – puts us at a greater advantage over the 2018 squad. From there, I’ll trust that this coaching staff and front office knows what it has to do to improve the defensive side of the ball.

Plus, let us not forget, we’ve got a Pro Bowl kicker now. You scoff, but let’s go back to that whole luck argument: how many games did a kicker cost us in 2017?

Russell Wilson Signed His Contract Extension, Part 2

We went through all of this back in 2015, so you’d think we would’ve learned our lesson, but apparently not. Remember when the big issue back then was whether or not Russell Wilson would play on the final year of his rookie deal, in order to leverage the team into giving him a fully-guaranteed deal? That was back before Kirk Cousins’ idiotic contract standoff with the Redskins was even a glimmer in anyone’s eye! And then an arbitrary deadline was set – I believe to coincide with the start of Training Camp – and lo and behold a deal got done at the last minute. Everyone was FREAKING OUT, and then it was over, and we all got to rest easy after that.

Well, here we are again, making the same mistakes fans always make. An arbitrary deadline was set – this time coinciding with the start of OTA’s – and instead of playing out the final year of his deal with the cliff of multiple Franchise Tags looming over the horizon, a deal got done at the last minute. He’ll play out his 2019 contract, then it’s 4 more years totalling $140 million (or $35 million average per year) with $65 million in his signing bonus.

He’s the highest-paid player in NFL history in per-year average, just edging Aaron Rodgers’ $33.5 million, and he blows past the highest-ever signing bonus, which was also A-Rod at $57.5 million. There’s also a No-Trade Clause attached, which could mean nothing (because why would you trade a QB like Russell Wilson?) or could get very interesting if things sour in Seattle.

There were so many rumors and opinions floating around in the weeks and days leading up to this thing, as there were in 2015. Of course, there was still talk of a Fully Guaranteed deal. But, that never really gained much traction, not with a year left on his last contract and Franchise Tags to bandy about. There was a lot of nonsense about Wilson wanting to play in New York for the Giants. There were 3-way trade rumors that would’ve given the Seahawks the #1 overall draft pick this year. There were trade rumors to Oakland for 2 first round picks. Then, the latest salvo fired over the weekend said that Wilson would refuse any and all future contract extension talks if the deal didn’t get done yesterday, which is another way to say that he’d likely try to force his way out of town by playing out his deal, playing through Franchise Tags, and waiting for the Seahawks to blink by either trading him or just letting him walk.

I mean, honestly, I don’t know how we didn’t all become alcoholics. It’s going to be tough to go through another one of these in 2023.

Probably the best rumor that came out over the weekend was that Wilson was looking to become the first player in NFL history to have his contract raise year by year – percentagewise – with the rise of the salary cap. The other sticking point was whether or not the first two years would be guaranteed upon signing (which means ownership would have to put all of that money in escrow until the time comes to pay the man), or whether the guarantees would click in at the start of every new year (in March or whatever of that respective season). Considering how high the signing bonus is, I think we have our answer (only the first year is guaranteed at signing), but I guess we’ll see when more information leaks out.

Regardless, Russell Wilson is here, and we can all move on with our lives again. Hurrah!

Truth be told, I’m fine with the deal. You only pay a player top dollar like this if he’s indeed one of the top players, and I believe Russell Wilson is one of the best quarterbacks in the league. He’s absolutely on par with Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees. He’s absolutely BETTER than Matt Ryan and Matthew Stafford and some of these other schlubs who were earning more money than him before today. So, we’ll just have to make it work and coach up the cheaper guys on this roster.

And Russell Wilson is going to have to continue to put this team on his back at key points. I believe he’s capable of doing that.

But, if he was going to go crazy and start asking for his contract to increase with the salary cap, then I’m sorry, but you never marry Crazy. You might date Crazy for a while, but don’t make Crazy your damn spouse!

Should The Seahawks Trade Frank Clark?

It kinda hit me not too long ago. On paper, it looks like the Seahawks have a lot of cap room to wheel and deal, but in reality they’ve got a lot of money tied up in players currently on the roster, and a lot of the free money we’ve got is earmarked to re-sign or extend players – again – currently on the roster. Sweezy and Fluker. Justin Coleman. An early extension for Jarran Reed before it costs us a mint to keep him around. And, of course, our all-world quarterback, among others. For a 10-6 wild card team that lost in the first round of the playoffs and never seriously contended for a division title, how exactly are the Seahawks supposed to better themselves? Particularly when there’s only 4 draft picks to play with, one of which will need to be traded down multiple times to hopefully get a normal allotment of choices.

Heading into this offseason, the Seahawks’ number 1 priority – and my number 1 priority FOR the Seahawks – was to extend Frank Clark. But, considering we’re going into the final year of Russell Wilson’s latest deal, and considering what the going rate is for a premiere defensive end, is it smart to have two guys taking up such a large percentage of the team’s cap? Wilson’s going to be angling for $35-$40 million per year as it is; should we also have a second guy getting $20 million per year? Even with the salary cap going up every year, that seems like a ridiculous figure.

At the same time, unless this team is sold on some rookie who’s the second coming of Patrick Mahomes, I don’t see any way this team can rid itself of Russell Wilson without setting the franchise back a decade or more. So, that leaves us with the option of trading away Frank Clark.

As things stand now, he’s already been franchised. That’s over $17 million for this one year alone. A second tag comes with, what, a 10% raise? Then, a third tag is a prohibitive amount of money beyond that. So, that’s sort of the baseline, and you’ve got to try to find a way to pay off his sense of security. Frank Clark doesn’t seem like he’s going to be afraid of the injury bug shortening his career; he’s willing to take this thing to the mat like more and more players are doing nowadays. Which is obviously well within his rights and probably a smart thing to do. He wants to get to real free agency, where his ultimate value is open to the highest bidder, because the lifespan of a professional football player is so short, and you’ve got to get yours while the getting’s good.

My question is: is he worth it?

Don’t get me wrong, Frank Clark is great. He started off his career pretty good, and he’s gotten better every year. I think he’s also got a lot of great years to come. I think we’ll see tremendous production out of him for at least the next 4-5 years. But, is he one of the 5 best defensive ends in the game? Is he 17-times better than someone we could select in this year’s draft?

I would argue it’s in the Seahawks’ best interests to trade him for a bevy of draft picks – ideally two first rounders, but at least a first, a third, and a sixth or something – and use that money and those picks to re-stock the team. Try to fill the Frank Clark-sized void with two or three guys.

More and more, I’m coming around to the thinking: is this something the Patriots would do? I think, without question, the Patriots never would’ve franchise tagged Clark, or if they did, it would be for the express purposes of trading him to a willing sucker for more draft picks. Or, at the very least, they’d find a way to pay him under the table like they’re doing for Tom Brady.

The point is, you have to keep emotions out of it when you’re making personnel decisions. And you can’t have too much money tied into too few guys. The Patriots would never give a guy like Frank Clark a max contract; instead they’d wait for someone like Michael Bennett to become available, trade a low-round draft pick for him, and pay him significantly less to get pretty close to the same production.

Now, of course, all that being said, it looks like the Seahawks are going to do whatever it takes to make Clark happy. It’s not the first time they’ve done something I thought was a mistake, and they’ve consistently proven me wrong time and time again. So, I’ll be curious to see how the dumpster diving goes for the rest of this off-season, as the team tries to improve over last year’s surprisingly positive record.

Then again, the Rams have already made a few moves to better themselves in what we thought would be an impossible cap situation. So, maybe it’ll all be pointless and we’ll be fighting for yet another wild card spot.

To Seahawks Or Not To Seahawks, That Is The Question

Since Russell Wilson came into the league, the Seahawks are 4-2 coming out of the BYE week.  Does that mean anything?  No it does not.

The two post-BYE losses happened in 2012 and 2015, exactly 3 years apart.  It’s been 3 years since our last post-BYE defeat, ergo we’re due for another one in 2018.  Does that mean anything?  No it does not.

The Seahawks are as healthy as they’re ever going to be the rest of the year; now that DOES mean something.  K.J. Wright is practicing again, Ed Dickson is ready to come off the PUP list, Rasheem Green is out there mixing it up.  Doug Baldwin had an extra week to rest his knees.  Our offensive linemen had an extra week to rest their everything.  Russell Wilson’s hammy (or whatever) is another week fresher.  And, everyone else who’s dealing with nagging whathaveyou’s, I’m sure, has enjoyed the break.  Hell, even C.J. Prosise is probably … nah, let’s not go THAT far.

I don’t know if there’s necessarily ever a “perfect” time for a team to hit its BYE week, but this one was as good as it’s gonna get for this particular team in this particular year.  Now, we hit the road to play the Detroit Lions, in an early 10am start after they beat up on the Dolphins in Miami the week prior.

By all accounts, I think the Seahawks are the better of the two teams.  At worst, these two teams are dead even, which is what Vegas appears to think.  The Lions are favored by 3 points, which is generally the figure granted to a team playing at home.  That’s not the ONLY reason why I think the Lions will win on Sunday, but it’s up there.

In reviewing the respective schedules, it looks like the Lions have better-looking victories (Patriots, Packers, at Dolphins); while the Seahawks beat a mediocre Cowboys team at home, a bad Cardinals team on the road, and a God awful Raiders team in London.  I guess we can all hang our hats on a close home defeat to the Rams, but that’s not really much comfort to me.

You can look at these two teams and see a clear advantage for both offenses.  The Seahawks want to ground and pound; the Lions’ defense has been among the worst in the league in defending the run.  They did just trade for Damon Harrison, who is a tremendous big body in the middle that should shore up that weakness, but can one guy really make that much of a difference?  I guess we’ll see.  I still like our O-Line an awful lot, and as long as those guys stay healthy, we should be able to open up some holes for Carson & Co.

The Lions’ offense, meanwhile, has traditionally been a more professional version of the Air Raid.  Matthew Stafford just airing it out left and right, winning and losing on his powerful right arm.  But, this year, with the introduction of rookie phenom Kerryon Johnson, they’re MUCH more balanced.  I feel like Matt Patricia’s influence as their new head coach has a lot to say about how the offense is run this year.  He’s seen what it takes to win, and for as good as Brady has been in his career, the Patriots have always had balance (especially late in the season, when the weather turns bad).  The Seahawks’ defense is better than we all had any right to expect, but it’s been susceptible to the run game at times.  Compound that with a lack of a pass rush, and the quick-strike ability of them to still kill you through the air, I think if anything this game is going to be high scoring.  The over/under is 49.5, so officially put me in for the OVER.

What needs to happen for the Seahawks to prevail is we’re going to have to avoid allowing too many big plays.  That’s sort of our specialty, so I wouldn’t expect it to be a problem, but if anyone will be able to fit the football into some tight windows down field, it’s Stafford.  He’s that good and that reckless.  Ideally, the Seahawks will take advantage of those times where he tries to bite off more than he can chew, and hopefully we’ll see a couple take-aways.

More than anything, the Seahawks are going to need to be efficient passing the ball.  The way I see this game going might be a little different than everyone else.  We’ve seen the Seahawks – over their last 4 games – really dominate with the run and see excellent results.  But, I don’t think it’s going to be that easy this time around.  I think there will be SOME rushing, but we won’t overwhelm them.  Where we can make some hay is through the air.  The Lions are pretty stingy with their passing yards allowed, but they’re among the worst in the league as far as passer rating is concerned.  That’s where the Seahawks can shine.  Stick with the rushing gameplan, by all means, but know when to strike through the air.  There will be opportunities to hit the Lions with deep balls, and we’re going to have to connect on them to make this thing happen.

All of that being said, do I see a Seahawks victory on Sunday?  I honestly don’t.  It’s more of a gut feeling than anything else.

We have these weird, flukey games every season in the early going.  Last year, in week 3, we lost a shootout to the Titans of all teams.  The year before that, we had that wonky loss down in New Orleans.  In 2015, we had that overtime defeat to the Bengals where we blew a late lead.  In 2014, it was a week 2 loss in 100+ degree heat in San Diego.  And, who can forget the shootout loss in Indy in 2013 to Andrew Luck?  Don’t get me started on our 2012 loss to the very same Lions in Detroit.  The score was 28-24, and I see something awfully similar happening this time around.

What do all of those losses have in common?  They were all against pretty good-to-great quarterbacks, they were all on the road in the first half of their respective seasons, and they were all games where our offense ostensibly did enough to win the game, but the defense just didn’t have what it took to put those teams away.  Sometimes, the Seahawks take control early and gag it away late; sometimes the other team goes up big and we mount a furious comeback that falls just short.  I could see either one of those things happening on Sunday.

What I can’t see is a Seahawks victory.  I hope I’m wrong.  Because the Seahawks REALLY need this one if we want to contend for a playoff spot.

Nobody Wants To Hear About My Fantasy Team: Week 8

Last week, I just got hosed.  There’s no way around it.  Oh sure, I hosed myself in many respects – I could’ve made a harder push at picking up Indy’s defense, or drafted a better group of quarterbacks – but I pretty much put out the best team I could’ve and I got beat.

Sloane N Steady ended up starting Nick Chubb over Isaiah Crowell, which in the end made all the difference (8 points, when he won 143.95 – 141.44), but that shouldn’t have even mattered.  He was saddled with a big, fat 0 out of Melvin Gordon – whose 6:30am London start time was too early for my opponent to realize he was out with injury – and I honestly thought I had the week in the bag.  I was over a 75% favorite heading INTO the Sunday afternoon games!  Hell, I just needed 34 combined points out of Andy Dalton and Tyreek Hill in the Sunday Night Game (he had no one else going at this point).  While Hill did his job, Dalton only got me 9.4, and that was that.  Andy Fucking Dalton, worthless pile of shit, playing in a Primetime game, sucked too many dicks and I lost yet another week of fantasy football I should’ve won.

I’m now 3-4, in 5th place in the league, and I’m still 3rd overall in points scored (while down to 6th in points against).  It’s just unbelievable.

At this point, I don’t know what else I have to do.  Making a bunch of panic moves feels like a mistake.  Honestly, it’s not any one thing that’s setting me back.  Sure, I’m pretty shaky at quarterback, but I’m never going to find anyone better without giving up a king’s ransom of talent at other positions, and quite frankly I just don’t have enough depth on my bench to make up the difference.  Every week, it’s something else.  As much as I despise that loathesome ginger-headed quarterback, getting only 3 points out of the Bears’ defense is the biggest culprit.  Had I known they were going to be THAT bad against the Pats – and that my game was destined to be this close against me – I sure as shit would’ve risked losing Calvin Ridley to pick up a better streaming defense last week.

My life goes from bad to worse this week, as I’m without Ezekiel Elliott and Leonard Fournette – two of my three keepers from last season.  Fournette is obviously a worthless pile of shit (whose team just traded for Carlos Hyde, to make my life even more miserable, as his value with the Jags continues to plummet); Elliott, on the other hand, is on a BYE, which leaves me with 1 healthy running back in the 500 year old Adrian Peterson.

The best available RB was Latavius Murray, who might get the nod over Dalvin Cook, but is also set to face the Saints, who are one of the best run defenses in football (so, I didn’t put in a claim for him and someone else snapped him up).  The other usual suspects are/were out there – Javorius Allen, Wendell Smallwood, Jalen Richard (who also got claimed on waivers), Frank Gore – but none of them are all that enticing.

Someone did, however, drop Chris Carson, so I used my 5-waiver priority to pick him up.  I won’t know if I get him until tomorrow, so consider that a teaser for next week’s recap!

Here’s this week’s lineup:

  • QB1 – Carson Wentz @ JAX
  • QB2 – Andy Dalton vs. TB
  • WR1 – Tyreek Hill vs. DEN
  • WR2 – Adam Thielen vs. NO
  • RB1 – TBD
  • RB2 – Adrian Peterson @ NYG
  • TE – Jordan Reed @ NYG
  • FLEX – Robert Woods vs. GB
  • K – Matt Prater vs. SEA
  • DEF – Chicago vs. NYJ

My bench is:  Carr, Elliott (BYE), Ridley (BYE), Fournette (IR), Golladay, Olsen, Devonta Freeman (to be waived for a healthy replacement RB).

I’m feeling super dumb about holding two tight ends on my roster, when both of them are as mediocre as can be.  When I think about all the other guys I could’ve had – ON WAIVERS, not to mention in the draft – it drives me crazy.  The last thing I wanted to do this year was waste two roster spots on the tight end position, yet here I am.  I started Reed over Olsen this week because the Ravens’ defense is pretty stout, so it seems unlikely the Panthers are going to move the ball well.  I don’t have much hope for Reed either, but he feels like a slightly better proposition.

This week, my opponent is The Lance Petemans.  He’s won our league every other year for the last I don’t even know how many years, which makes him both one of the better fantasy football owners in our league, and also probably the luckiest.

He’s always been smart about his keepers, and this year was no different.  He’s had Brady and Gurley the last two seasons, with Jimmy Garoppolo as his third, who was looking like yet another monster fantasy producer until he hit the IR.  The rest of his team is, as you’d expect, pretty solid up and down the lineup … except for that #2 QB spot.  To wit:

  • QB1 – Tom Brady @ BUF
  • QB2 – C.J. Beathard @ AZ
  • WR1 – A.J. Green vs. TB
  • WR2 – Alshon Jeffery @ JAX
  • RB1 – Todd Gurley vs. GB
  • RB2 – Tarik Cohen vs. NYJ
  • TE – Eric Ebron @ OAK
  • FLEX – John Brown @ CAR
  • K – Dan Bailey vs. NO
  • DEF – New England @ BUF

His bench is:  Sony Michel, Ryan Tannehill, Will Fuller V, Dion Lewis, L.A. Chargers, Jimmy G (IR).

So, for starters, what did I do to deserve back-to-back opponents having their respective quarterbacks go up against Buffalo & Arizona?  You can pencil those guys in for 60 points RIGHT NOW!  And that might be conservative!  Really, he’s got matchup darlings up and down his lineup.  Green against Tampa’s grotesque defense; Jeffery against the suddenly-mediocre Jaguars defense (while also poaching points from Wentz with every pass he catches); Gurley against the Packers’ nothing defense; Ebron against the Raiders’ less-than-nothing defense.  And the shit-cherry on top of the shit-sundae:  the Patriots defense against the Bills, who hand out pick-sixes like they’re full candy bars on Halloween.

If The Lance Petemans don’t score over 220 points, I’ll be shocked.  I’ve got a pretty good team, but even with an active and healthy Zeke and Fournette, I don’t think I’d have a shot in Hell.  You could probably add up my entire roster – including all bench guys – and I don’t think I’d come close to beating his starting lineup.

Hope You’re Ready For The Seahawks To Be Obliterated

I don’t know what you do with this game.  The Rams are so far and away the better of the two teams that it hardly feels like anything to get worked up about.  Stick me on a court and pit me against LeBron James … and I’m supposed to be upset when he beats me 5,000,000 to 0?

I’m sorry, but I got nothin’.  Last December, the Rams came to town and won 42-7, and it wasn’t even THAT close!  I know there were a number of injured players – particularly on defense – that hampered the Seahawks’ chances … but guess what?  Earl’s gone, K.J. is still down, Mychal Kendricks is suspended, Avril’s retired, Kam’s retired, Bennett’s gone, Sherm’s gone, Dion Jordan is whatever, Rasheem Green’s got an ankle of some sort.  This defense is a shell of its former self, and while they’ve done the lord’s work in over-achieving thus far in 2018, the Seahawks haven’t seen a team even REMOTELY close to what the Rams are, particularly on offense.

The Broncos are garbage, as we all expected.  The Cardinals are trash.  The Cowboys are a mess.  And don’t be fooled by what the Bears did to the Bucs, because that Bucs defense is one of the worst in all of football.

This is the Los Angeles Fucking Rams!  Even when they had Jeff Fisher they were kicking our asses, and now they have a living and breathing genius at the helm!  They’re 4-0 and they’ve scored over 30 points in every game.  Say what you want about the teams they played (Raiders, Cardinals, Chargers, and Vikings all look pretty suspect on defense), but the Rams weren’t pussyfooting around.  They reached out, grabbed those teams by the throat, and went to fucking TOWN!  No easing off the accelerator, no going up big and coasting in the second halves.  They just keep coming and coming and coming, until the final whistle blows.

But, you know, crazy things happen.  The Bills went into Minnesota and destroyed them.  They’ve since come to look pretty mediocre against the Packers, so was that a fluke?  Are the Vikings way overrated?  Hard to say.  I still think the Bills are good for less than 6 wins this year, and I’d be hard-pressed to peg them as winners of more than 2 or 3.  The point is, they don’t play games on paper.  Games aren’t decided by one yutz’s blog post.  So, let’s get to work; let’s try to solve this impossible riddle of how to beat the Rams.

For starters, you have to like the fact the game’s in Seattle.  The Rams have played 3/4 games at home so far and their only road game was in Oakland, which … come on.  The Seahawks are 2-2 now, on a 2-game winning streak, and this season is pretty much on the line this Sunday.  Lose, and the Seahawks are who we thought they were; win, and the sky just might be the limit.  The way I’m leaning, I’ve got it 99:1 that the Seahawks lose, but in that rare 1% chance, we could be talking about something great.

But, home field advantage never won a game by itself.  The 12’s can be as loud as they want, but it’s still going to require the Seahawks to go out there and do the job.  From that angle, I see two possibilities.

The first involves the Seahawks doing exactly what they’ve done the last two weeks.  Lots of running the ball on first & second downs, getting into 3rd & short situations, slowing the game down, limiting turnovers, hopefully limiting opportunities for the other team to have the ball, and grinding out an ugly, close, low-scoring game.  If I had to guess what the game plan is for this week, it’s going to look exactly like that.

And I think that if you asked around the league, most people would agree that’s how you do it.  How do you beat Peyton Manning?  Keep him off the field.  How do you beat Tom Brady?  Keep him off the field.  And that’s worked at times; probably less than a 50% success rate, but better than nothing.  But, has it worked for teams with defenses this deficient?

The problem with that scheme is, we can slow things down all we want, but the Rams are still BETTER than us.  They’ll most likely be able to get off the field on third downs, get the ball back to their offense, and race down the field for many multiple scores, all with incredible ease.  If we try to slow it down and muck it up, we’re going to lose and lose big, I have no doubt about it.

The other possibility is a shootout, which I still feel is our only hope.  It won’t happen right off the bat, but after a quarter of play, when the Seahawks are down 14-0, obviously the script is going to have to be thrown out the window.  They’re going to have to take the training wheels off of Russell Wilson, and they’re going to have to let him run the show.  Up tempo, lots of throwing, one or two magical escape acts sprinkled in, and maybe you can find a way to keep up with their offense in a 38-35 type game (a la the game against the Steelers in 2015).  Those games are so rare and precious that it’s stupid to want to expect it, but if the Seahawks are going to win this game, that’s going to have to be how we do it.

There’s no way in hell that the Seahawks will be the first team to keep the Rams under 30 points this season.  We have no pass rush, full stop.  But, that’s neither here nor there, because the Rams are too quick anyway.  They get the ball out fast, before we’d even have a CHANCE to move the pocket.  They have the best running back in the league, who is a threat running and receiving.  K.J. Wright was always the key in guarding someone like Gurley, and you saw last year what happened when we were without our best pass-defending linebacker.  What’s going to happen this time?  Are we going to shadow him with Bobby Wagner?  Are we going to bring Bradley McDougald down closer to the line?  What does that do to our pass defense when Tedric Thompson is our guy roaming the middle?

Speaking of which, the Rams have three REALLY good receivers on top of their all-world running back.  Brandin Cooks is a stud and a deep threat.  Robert Woods is savagely underrated.  And Cooper Kupp is a top notch slot receiver.  Our corners are, I think, better than expected heading into the season, but they’re not going to completely shut those guys down.  And there’s a significant talent gap from Earl to the next man up, which is going to further open things up in the middle of the field.

Honestly, this game is going to be hard to watch.  If you need some sort of alcohol or marijuana enhancement to make it through this one, I won’t blame you one bit.

Seattle Seahawks 2018 Preview Part 2: The Bad Stuff

Yesterday, we took a look at the bright side of this season.  If everything breaks right, what COULD happen, including a possible division title and beyond.  Today, we’re going hard negative.

If you played this season 100 times, probably 90 of them will be about the same:  the Seahawks will finish somewhere between 7-9 and 9-7.  The ceiling, while remote, is a division-winning playoff team (likely requiring the Rams to fall apart completely).  The floor, while also remote, is an 0-16 team pushing for that #1 draft pick in 2019.  How does that happen?  Well, if Russell Wilson has a season-ending injury in the first game of the year, then I’m sorry, but it’s Tank City.  While I don’t expect him to get injured, I’m not completely ruling it out.  Make no mistake, this year – as well as the foreseeable future – it’s going to be all about Mr. Wilson.  We go where he takes us.

A couple teams come to mind as comparable to the Seahawks.  For the purposes of this argument, throw out the New England Patriots.  Our coaching staff isn’t on par and Russell Wilson isn’t Tom Brady.  Not yet, anyway.  No, for this exercise, I’m thinking about the Green Bay Packers and the New Orleans Saints.

See, most years (in the Aaron Rodgers regime), the Packers boil down to an elite QB, some nice skill guys on offense, and a bunch of trash on defense.  Ditto the Saints under Drew Brees.  You could argue the Saints’ defense has been much more maligned, but I’ve seen more than my fair share of terrible Packers defenses.  And yet, the Packers are always seen as a potential division winner, solely because they have Aaron Rodgers at the helm; yet, the Saints more often than not are seen as a .500-ish ballclub, only being held afloat by the will of Brees.

So, where do these Seahawks fall?  One could make the argument that right now, Russell Wilson is as good as Aaron Rodgers.  He’s certainly just as important to the success of this team as A-Rod is to his.  Yet, me and most everyone else feels this team more closely resembles those mediocre Saints teams we’ve seen for much of the last decade.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t see a whole helluva lot of difference between Brees, Rodgers, and Wilson, so what gives?

Well, for starters, I think this defense is a lot closer to the bottom of the NFL than it is to the top.  I see a defense without a pass rush.  I see a defense that can’t force any turnovers out of its secondary.  I see a defense that’s just sort of okay at stopping the run.  And, I see a defense that’s tissue paper-thin.  If we start losing too many starters, there will be a tipping point, and we’ll be talking about the 32nd ranked unit in the NFL before too long.

So much has to go right just for this defense to be middle-of-the-road!  If we just talk about health, we’re already talking about a team with an injured K.J. Wright who’s missing at least Week 1, if not more.  Also, not for nothing, but when he was out there this pre-season, Wright wasn’t looking like his usual self; has he started the downside of his career?  There’s Dion Jordan, who’s supposed to be one of our main pass rushing ends; he missed the entire pre-season, has a lot of degenerative issues, and probably shouldn’t be counted on to finish more than 6-8 games this year (forget starts; anyone can start a game and go out after one series; I want to know how many games this guy can FINISH).  Even if Jordan is healthy, do we know if he’s actually good?  Sure, he looks the part, but looks don’t pressure opposing QBs.  Our other main rush end is Frank Clark; are we sure HE’S good?  He’s looked pretty good so far in his career, like a guy about to earn a big contract extension.  But, is he WORTH that kind of money?  Or, is he just going to get that money regardless of whether or not he takes another step in his development?  My main question with Clark is:  does he even WANT to be great?

It seems to me like this entire defense is being held together by Bobby Wagner and duct tape.  While he’s one of the best middle linebackers in the league, he can’t do literally everything.  It might be different if we had one more year of Earl Thomas in his prime, but that ain’t happening.  We’ve seen countless times how this team looks without Earl and Kam in the defensive backfield; now we start an entire era of football without those guys!  It’s not going to be pretty!

I’m curious to see the impact of potentially having Earl Thomas back for one more year.  He’s certainly a game-changer for this secondary, as the significant improvement of ET over TT could be a 2-3 game improvement in overall wins.  But, will his heart be in it?  Will the team still find a way to trade him midway through the season?  And, maybe most importantly, will he be able to stay healthy?  Without a training camp or a pre-season, how many times have we seen guys return from holdouts only to immediately twist an ankle or tweak a hammy or something?  I’ll believe he’s The Real Earl Thomas when I see it.

We’re all hanging our hats on Pete Carroll being a defensive-minded football coach whose specialty is the secondary, while we clap our hands and blindly say into the shadows, “We’ll be fine.”  But, will we?  Why?  Because Shaquill Griffin looked better than expected as a rookie?  How many career interceptions does he have?  One.  He has one.  Sure, he’s a fine cover corner, but he can’t cover literally everyone, and he’s not what anyone would call a “lockdown” corner, so he’s going to give up a good number of catches and yards.  He feels a lot closer to Marcus Trufant than Richard Sherman, and that’s a problem, because he’s supposed to be far and away the best corner on this team, which means the drop-off is significant.  Justin Coleman, almost certainly, is the actual best cornerback on this roster, and he’ll do well in his role covering slot receivers, but those guys don’t play every single down.  We have some schlub playing opposite Griffin who will almost certainly be the bane of our existence as early as the very first game of the season.

I think the defense is going to be very, very bad.  What’s worse, I’m afraid we won’t see the type of improvement over the course of this season to give us any hope for the future.  The L.O.B. is dead.  And it’s never coming back.

As I wrote about yesterday, the season hinges on the offense, and the offense hinges on Russell Wilson, so getting back to my point at the top, can he single-handedly carry this beached whale of a team into the playoffs?

I’m gonna guess probably not.  I do think he’s closer to Drew Brees than Aaron Rodgers (as I think this defense is closer to the very worst Saints defenses than it is to the Packers).  I also think the challenges presented within our division, within our conference, and with the schedule we’ve been saddled with, all conspire against us doing a damn thing in 2018.

The Rams are flat out better than the Seahawks, end of story.  You can question their long-term viability.  You can look at all the superstars they acquired the past couple seasons and think an implosion is on the horizon.  Indeed, even if the chemistry is top notch, they won’t be able to pay everyone forever, so EVENTUALLY things will break apart.  But, not in 2018.  In 2018, they’re going to be one of the 2 or 3 best teams in the entire NFL (hell, maybe THE best team).  Barring a multitude of injuries to the Rams, there’s no way we beat them in either game we play against them.

The 49ers are at least as good as the Seahawks, with a MUCH higher upside in the near future.  The 49ers could be a playoff team as early as THIS year, if Jimmy G continues to shred defenses like he did last year.  I have my doubts; I’m not nearly as high on them as some people – who have them as their dark horse darlings – but they’ll still be tough.  I can’t guarantee 2 wins against them; I can’t even guarantee 1!

Then, there’s the Cards.  They seem like they’ll be pretty bad.  But, that’s no guarantee that they’ll necessarily be bad against the Seahawks!  Sam Bradford is usually pretty careful with the ball; as long as he’s healthy, that’s a viable offense that should have zero trouble moving the ball against our defense.  And, they have just enough veterans on the defensive side of the ball to get stops and make our lives miserable.  The Seahawks probably SHOULD beat the Cardinals twice, but would it shock you to see us slip in either of these games?  Shit, at our very best, we still managed to lose to Jeff Fisher’s Rams more times than I care to count!

We catch the Broncos on the road; they have savvy vets all over the place.  We catch the Bears on a potential upswing (their defense looks like it could give us fits in week 2).  We play the Cowboys with their awesome rushing attack.  We have to go all the way to London for some stupid reason; who knows how that Raiders game turns out?  We go to Detroit who has an offense that should shred us no problem.  We host the Chargers, whose quarterback ALWAYS shreds even the very best versions of our defense.  We host the Packers on a short week, they’re expected to compete for a Super Bowl.  We go to Carolina, that feels like a demoralizing loss waiting to happen.  We host the Vikings on Monday night; they’re also expected to compete for a Super Bowl.  And, we host the Chiefs, who are always good and solidly coached under Andy Reid.

I’ve spent the entirety of this pre-season being pretty impressed by our starting units on both sides of the ball.  I think both our offense and defense have looked better than I anticipated (while our depth is non-existent).  My thought process all along has been that maybe the Seahawks can hang around, but once injuries mount, we’ll be toast.  But, the more I look at the schedule, at the crop of QBs we have to go up against, and everything else, I can present an easy argument on why the Seahawks might lose each and every one of those games!  Yet, the only argument in our favor is Russell Wilson.  Russell Is Magic, but he’s not THAT much magic!

I’m still of the belief that the O-Line will be much better than people think, but they’re still not going to be perfect.  They’re probably not even going to rank in the top 10!  When compared to past Seahawks O-Lines under Tom Cable, they’ll look like world-beaters, but that’s not saying much.  The point is, they should open up some holes to run through, and they should give Russell Wilson plenty of time to throw.

But, do we trust Wilson to always do the right thing?

I believe the Seahawks will be behind in a lot of games.  That’s going to put more of the burden on Wilson to pull our asses out of the fire.  He’s pretty great, but he still makes a good number of mistakes, trying to prolong plays, keep drives alive.  He’s always looking down field for the big play, and as a result misses a lot of positive plays around the line of scrimmage.  He takes too many sacks, and he puts a lot of balls in harm’s way.  I mean, we saw the Seahawks behind in a lot of games back when the defense was good; why was that?  A lot of times because Wilson turned the ball over or otherwise couldn’t get the fucking offense moving in the first quarter.  How much of that was on the O-Line vs. on Wilson himself?

Well, I guess we’ll find out this year.  Because the O-Line WILL be better.  And, when it is, if we still find Wilson making similar mistakes, then we have to admit that he’s not the be-all, end-all.  He’s good enough to take even the worst teams to an 8-8 record, but he’s not good enough to single-handedly get us into the playoffs.  He’s like almost every other quarterback in the league (particularly every other quarterback who doesn’t spend his entire career in the AFC Least); he needs help.  And the Seahawks don’t have enough help around him to get this team to where it wants to go.

The Seahawks won’t make the playoffs this year.  I know I predicted the Seahawks to go 9-7 in my season picks, but if I were you I’d bet the family farm on under 9 wins.  I’d even be inclined to take under 8 wins.