The Eagles Hired Former Seahawks DC Clint Hurtt

As the Seahawks continue to mull over their choices for who’s going to be the next head coach (spoiler alert, it won’t be offensive coordinators Ben Johnson or Bobby Slowik), NFL teams around the league have been rounding out their staffs. It’s fair to wonder who’s going to be left when the Seahawks finally get off the pot, but one name we know who WON’T be available is Clint Hurtt.

I’m not a big Eagles fan or anything, but I really like what they’ve done so far this offseason. I don’t know why there was such fervor to fire their head coach, but the dude JUST took them to a Super Bowl last season. I’m glad he’s getting another shot. Clearly, the team was affected by losing both coordinators following their Super Bowl run, and as it turned out, the replacements weren’t quite up to snuff. Seems reasonable; you wait until after the Super Bowl to fill vacant coordinator positions, you’re bound to end up with some clunkers (*cough* *cough* Seahawks).

So, they’re gone, and in their place we have Kellen Moore (who I generally like as a play-caller) and Vic Fangio (someone I was BEGGING the Seahawks to hire the last time we were in the market for a DC). Instead, we opted for an in-house nobody in Clint Hurtt, who allegedly was supposed to bring us a Vic Fangio-style defense. What we got was more of the crap we’ve had to endure the last almost-decade. Part of me will always believe Hurtt is one of the big reasons why Pete Carroll was let go; if his defenses played better, the Seahawks would’ve made the playoffs this season and I have to imagine Carroll would’ve gotten at least another year.

There was always a nagging concern that – as long as he didn’t have a job – Clint Hurtt might talk his way into staying with the Seahawks in some capacity. That’s in spite of the fact that he has been just awful at his job from the very beginning. Before being promoted to DC, he was our defensive line coach from 2017-2021; what about those defensive lines made anyone believe he’d be competent running an entire defense?

Well, now he’s Philadelphia’s problem, having been hired to coach the defensive line there under Fangio. Apparently, they both had success together in Chicago back in the day, so maybe this will be a harmonious reunion. They seem to have a lot of talent at that position group, so maybe they’ll make him look better.

As for the Seahawks, it’s deliberation time. I would expect a head coaching hire any time. I’ll just tell you this right now, if it ends up being Mike Kafka, I think Seahawks fans are going to lose their minds. I know I will!

The Seahawks Suck At Hiring Defensive Coordinators

As Sean Desai gets poached by the Eagles to be their defensive coordinator – following one season as our … Associate Head Coach & Defensive Assistant (emphasis on the secondary) – I can’t help but think we’re keeping the wrong guy.

Clint Hurtt has been a punching bag for me ever since he was promoted from Underwhelming Defensive Line Coach to Underwhelming Defensive Coordinator, following the firing of Ken Norton Jr. Why hire some guy to install Vic Fangio’s defensive scheme when you could’ve just hired Vic Fucking Fangio (hired by the Dolphins this year, after taking 2022 off)? It doesn’t seem like we did any sort of DC search whatsoever last year. At the very least, we could’ve made Desai our DC and made Hurtt our Associate Head Coach or whatever.

It’s going to be pretty easy to compare the three guys – Desai, Hurtt, and Fangio – as they all embark on their jobs. Desai has the advantage of coaching for a Super Bowl team that was largely defined by their excellent defense. Fangio is going to a squad with a lot of talent, that figures to bolster that talent (considering they’re pretty well set on offense, assuming they opt to keep Tua) this offseason. Hurtt has one small advantage in that he’s been in the same organization for a number of years, with this being his second year in charge. The experience and familiarity should hopefully do him well.

I would also argue that Hurtt has the easiest job of the three. It’s been lean times for the Seahawks defense in recent years; all he has to do is build it up to be semi-competent and he’ll have done his job. If he exceeds expectations, then he should be on the fast track to head coaching opportunities. Whereas Desai is being given the keys of a defense that’s already great; there’s nowhere to go but down! And Fangio has the misfortune of being in a conference with a lot of elite offensive talent to go up against. He’s also getting up there in age and at some point you have to wonder when he’s going to shuffle off into retirement.

That being said, I have the least faith in Hurtt. It wouldn’t shock me in the slightest if the Seahawks continue to be inept. At which point, I’ll be the one “I Told You So”-ing on this blog until my fingers fall off.

What was the one thing that worked on the 2022 Seahawks defense? Where was the one area that exceeded expectations (while the others flopped miserably)? It was the secondary. Where Desai was firmly in charge. I can only dream of what might’ve been for the rest of the defense. It’s not that I expect the secondary to suddenly take a step back; I’m just lamenting the loss of someone who seems so damned good at his job (in favor of keeping someone who, I guess, gives good interview?).

But, this has been a long string of terrible defensive coordinators, with precious few bright spots.

Ken Norton was a bust. Kris Richard oversaw the dismantling of a once-great unit. Dan Quinn was the lone amazing hire by Pete Carroll in his tenure. Even Gus Bradley, I don’t know if he was good, so much as the organization just so happened to draft and sign a lot of future Hall of Famers. Bradley sure as shit hasn’t done a damn thing in any of his other jobs, as head coach or DC.

This isn’t just a Pete Carroll problem, though. Ray Rhodes was the only good hire of the Mike Holmgren tenure (though the tragic loss of Fritz Shurmur in 1999 – before he could even coach a game for us – was painfully unfortunate). And, none of the guys pre-Holmgren were anything special; even Tom Catlin – the DC under Chuck Knox – was never able to parlay that into anything outside of Seattle (even taking a demotion to linebackers coach once Knox left the organization).

It’s not that the Seahawks have always been terrible on defense outside of the Dan Quinn era; we’ve had plenty of talented players come through the organization since its inception. But, I would argue we’ve largely been underwhelming. Sometimes that’s due to bad luck, or injuries, or randomness. Sometimes it’s due to incompetence at the top, or a lack of skilled defenders. But, it sucks when you see the organization making a mistake in the moment.

I want the Seahawks to be good. I’ll often bend over backwards to talk myself into this team being better than it actually is. But, I can’t do anything with Clint Hurtt. Just like I couldn’t do anything with Ken Norton. We just have to fucking endure it. We have to watch mediocre defense for another 2-4 years before another change will inevitably have to be made. Meanwhile, we’re all going to wish the Seahawks had opted to choose Desai, because even if the Eagles take a slight step back on defense, they’re still going to be leaps and bounds better than the Seahawks for the foreseeable future.

Who Do The Seahawks Have On Defense That’s Worth A Damn?

There’s nothing worse in football than a shitty defense. Put me in the minority of football fans: I want a defense that far-and-away outclasses the offense. I’d rather root for a team like the 49ers than I would a team like the Chiefs. Great defenses don’t take weeks off. Great defenses can make great offenses look inept; rarely do you see it go the other way. Rarely do you see a great defense – that isn’t totally decimated by injuries, thereby rendering it not-so-great – get totally obliterated. That’s what I’m looking for in a championship-level football team. That’s what I’m counting on when it comes to the playoffs. Great defense, and a quarterback who can get the job done in a pinch.

It feels like it’s been forever since the Seahawks have had a great defense. You could argue we haven’t had one since 2014 or 2015, which in NFL terms IS forever. The Seahawks haven’t just been mediocre, though. They’ve been downright BAD. What’s worse, they’ve often been bad masquerading as mediocre, which has led to this endless fucking cycle of never really going all-in to improve.

Year after year where we start out as the absolute worst defense in football. Then, through smoke and mirrors (and usually a reduction in the quality of offensive opponents), as the season goes along, they improve JUST enough to fool us into believing they’re not as bad as we thought. An inept coaching staff gets to keep their jobs (for a while), inept players get to stick around (for a while), and it starts all over again.

It’s been a long time since we’ve been THIS bad though. The run defense has been bad in spurts over the last half-decade, but never this consistently atrocious. There’s always been SOMETHING to stem the tide, and maybe that something was Bobby Wagner. Maybe we took him for granted for too long, and now we’re reaping what we sow.

There’s been a chicken or egg thing with this defense this year. Is it a scheme/coaching problem? Or is it a lack of talent among the players problem?

I’m inclined to think the scheme is sound – because we’ve seen the Vic Fangio scheme work all over the league – but the key difference is that usually they have Vic Fangio running it. I’ve had a problem with Clint Hurtt since it was announced he was taking over as defensive coordinator. Here’s a guy who’s done nothing in his coaching career, who led a mediocre-at-best defensive line unit under the previous shitty regime, and you just have to wonder what this guy did to deserve a promotion, as someone who’s never coached at this level before.

That being said, I don’t think there’s any question there’s a lack of talent on this team. Tariq Woolen appears to be the only player worth a damn. Uchenna Nwosu looks good week-in and week-out, but that can be deceiving. Is he just a standout among clods? Or is he actually a talented pass rusher/outside linebacker? I think it’s worth questioning since the Chargers let him go in free agency, and the Seahawks were only willing to sign him to a 2-year deal.

After that? Fuck this defense. As has been belabored, Jordyn Brooks makes a lot of tackles, but rarely are they of any impact. What big plays has he generated to put teams behind the sticks? Quandre Diggs appears to have lost a step, and if he’s going to keep dropping interceptions, then what good is he? We’re all well aware of Jamal Adams’ broken-down body; can’t count on him going forward. Darrell Taylor has had a nightmare season, given where we expected him to be in his development. Even Poona Ford and Bryan Mone have appeared to take steps back in their production, and all those guys are paid to do is stop the run! That’s literally their only fucking job!

The third and fourth best players on this defense are Al Woods and Shelby Harris, two aging vets you could get on the scrap heap in any given offseason.

It really makes you wonder how far away we are from building that elite defense we’ve missed so much. Are we just a few impact players away? Or is a total teardown and rebuild required? I don’t think we’re going to see the latter – at least as long as Pete Carroll and John Schneider are here – so that means we have to hope we’re just a draft away from turning things around.

Heading into next year, we’ve got the aforementioned Woolen and Nwosu. We hope the likes of Coby Bryant and/or Tre Brown can make an impact. Beyond that, man, I dunno. It seems more and more like we’re going to need that first Broncos pick to be an impact defensive lineman. I’m wondering if we’re going to need to use the vast majority of our draft picks to go towards the defense!

It’s extremely discouraging. I don’t like calling this a “lost season” because that makes it sound like a failure, when really it’s not THAT bad. But, any season where you’re not seriously contending for a championship – or at least building towards that – is indeed a lost season. You like to at least hang your hat on some players you can point to and say, “These are the building blocks of a potential championship team.” There are guys up and down that offense where you can say that. But, on defense, the cupboard is fucking BARE.

Fans are impatient. I get that. The Seahawks are 7-7 with three weeks to go. We’d need to win out AND we’d need help if we want to make the playoffs as one of the last two wild card teams. To win out, that means we’d need to somehow defeat the Chiefs this weekend, then turn around and beat the Jets and Rams at home. As a team that couldn’t even beat the Panthers, Raiders, or Bucs, that feels implausible. As such, I just want to get this Seahawks season over with as soon as possible, with as many defeats as possible, to better our draft picks for next year. I want to fast forward to the 2023 draft, I want us to select the best possible players, and I want the next regular season to get going with our bounty of improved talent! It feels insane to say that while there are still relevant regular season games left to play in 2022, but that’s where I’m at.

I can’t watch this defense anymore. It’s infuriating. The offense has been a heartwarming story thus far, but it’s not good enough to overcome the other side of the ball being so helpless. It’s time to seriously overhaul the whole fucking unit, from top to bottom, by any means necessary. All these half measures aren’t going to cut it anymore.

The Seahawks’ Rush Defense Is Atrocious Right Now

Two weeks ago, the Tampa Bay Bucs ran all over the Seahawks in Germany. We didn’t make a huge deal out of it because the final score was only 21-16. We fell to 6-4 (after a 4-game win streak, where our defensive woes felt like they’d been shored up a great deal), and we were headed into our BYE week, which we’d hoped would lead to the proper tweaks being made to right the ship.

What that game boiled down to, reportedly, was the defensive game plan focusing much more on stopping the Bucs’ passing attack, while neglecting the running game. Surely, THAT wouldn’t happen again!

Except here we are, losers at home to the Raiders – 40-34 in overtime – giving up 283 yards on the ground, on 40 carries, for a whopping 7.1 average per attempt, while we reportedly spent the last two weeks focusing on how to stop Davante Adams and the Raiders’ passing attack.

At some point – and I think that point is now – I’m going to stop believing this is a game plan shortcoming, but rather just a plain ol’ scheme/talent deficiency.

Josh Jacobs came into this game as one of the most proficient running backs in the NFL this year. It’s a phenomenal personal turnaround – one that’s severely underreported, when you think about how mediocre he’s been up until this year – so I’m having a hard time understanding why we’d take him so lightly. This is Pete Carroll, we’re talking about. He never fucking shuts up about running the football and stopping the run. That’s his whole fucking thing! There’s no way we’re going into these game plans completely overlooking these running backs! I might – for half a second – believe such when it comes to the Bucs (who have been inept running the ball all year), but not with the Raiders. Running the football is the one thing they actually excel at. If we’re being perfectly honest, they’ve yet to fully unleash Davante Adams, and probably never will get him back to the heights he saw with the Packers. So, don’t give me this bullshit.

Josh Jacobs ran for 229 yards on 33 carries (a 6.9 yard per carry average) and 2 touchdowns. The yards are a franchise-worst given up by the Seahawks to an individual rusher, surpassing that infamous Bo Jackson game way back when.

I don’t know what’s more at fault, the scheme or the talent, but I’m leaning towards talent. I’ve seen the Vic Fangio system work with flying colors with countless other teams. But, you can’t convert a defense overnight. It takes a year or two before things start clicking, and you’re able to get the guys in here who will buy in. I think the Seahawks are severely lacking – especially in the front seven – and that’s only going to be held together with duct tape until 2023.

That doesn’t mean we’re doomed. That doesn’t mean we’re going winless the rest of the way. But, the division is probably out of reach, and any sort of significant playoff run is wishful thinking at best.

Getting off the defense a bit, I’ve got a couple thoughts about the offense. My overarching sentiment is that if your score 34 points, you should win 100% of the time. It’s unforgivable for a defense to blow it in such spectacular fashion. We were up a touchdown with under 6 minutes to go, and promptly gave up a 10-play, 75-yard drive to tie it up. Then, the cherry on top – after holding the Raiders to a missed field goal in overtime – was allowing an 86-yard game-winning touchdown. WHAT?! How is this a Pete Carroll defense?

That being said, I’m perturbed that we had two shots at winning the game, and the offense came up empty both times. With just under two minutes to go in regulation, the Seahawks went 5 & Out. Granted, one of those plays was a hard-luck overturning of a D.K. Metcalf first down conversion, but we still had another play after that and ended up taking a sack, which forced a punt. Then, we got the ball back after that missed field goal in overtime, and promptly went 3 & Out. You hate to have the ball with a chance to prevail on any type of scoring drive, and give the ball right back. There are only so many possessions at your disposal with 10 minutes of game clock. With how shaky the Seahawks’ defense looked all game, you don’t want to have them try and get a stop twice in a row, even if you don’t expect to give up an 86-yard run.

That’s on Geno Smith. That’s a concern I’ve had about Geno Smith dating back to before the season. And, quite frankly, that’s not something I’ve really seen him prove he’s capable of achieving. Where’s the game-winning 2-minute drive at the end of the game? You haven’t seen it! Not in a Seahawks uniform, anyway. You’ve seen many of his attempts fall short. And you’ve seen him seal a game much earlier in the 4th quarter, when there were still possessions left for the defense to defend. But, no miracle comebacks unlocked. And, not even a field goal drive in a tie game late? If you’re going to pay a guy $33+ million per year, you need to know he’s capable of doing that!

It’s just a total breakdown on a team-wide level. It isn’t the first time that’s happened this year, and probably won’t be the last either.

The good news is that the schedule still favors the Seahawks the rest of the way. We get to play the Rams twice – including next Sunday in L.A. – and they’re absolutely falling apart at the seams. Yet, the Raiders were also part of that easing of the schedule – they came into this game a disappointing 3-7 on the year – so now I don’t know what to think. Could the Rams and Panthers do what the Raiders just did? I wouldn’t doubt it.

The Seahawks Have Some New Defensive Assistant Coaches

The biggest news of the offseason for the Seattle Seahawks so far – that isn’t just talking head nonsense from hot take factories – is the firing of defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. It was a long time coming and, frankly, one of those hires where you knew it was going to go poorly as soon as it was announced. We let it slide – more or less – because we knew it was just a puppet hire of someone who would be running Pete Carroll’s defense.

Which leads me to my first question: were Gus Bradley and Dan Quinn also puppet hires who just ran Pete Carroll’s defense? Or did they just so happen to run a similar defense to what we know Pete likes to install? I don’t get the sense that this was the case with these two, yet it’s what we automatically cling to when we talk about the hires of Kris Richard and Ken Norton. It seems overly dismissive and simplistic.

Whatever the case, I think we can all agree that the Seahawks saw great success with the system ran by Bradley and Quinn, and their goal with Richard and Norton was to continue with what had been built. Unfortunately for the latter two gentlemen, they were saddled with a drastic downgrade in defensive talent. But, with Norton in particular, it sure didn’t seem like he brought anything to the table, and that was his ultimate downfall.

I don’t know if there’s a right way or a wrong way to hire a coach. You can hire from within, you can make a big splash on a retread who rehabilitated his coaching image, you can hire a hotshot coach’s assistant to hope you capture the same magic, you can pilfer the college ranks, you can hire a coordinator from another team. The possibilities are endless, and are riddled with successes and failures. So, I don’t want to say I’m down on Clint Hurtt – new defensive coordinator of the Seattle Seahawks – simply because he was promoted from within the organization. But, I’ve seen what he’s done for this team so far, and I’m far from impressed.

I was already dissatisfied with the job Clint Hurtt was doing even before Ken Norton was fired. He’s been with the Seahawks since 2017 – as the D-Line coach, as well as the assistant head coach – but what has he done exactly to bolster our defensive line? Let’s go through our draft picks since 2017: Malik McDowell (bust), Naz Jones (bust), Rasheem Green (role player at best), L.J. Collier (not even a good role player), Demarcus Christmas (bust), Darrell Taylor (finally, someone good), Alton Robinson (role player). The Seahawks have consistently underwhelmed along the defensive line in his tenure. The pass rush has been up and down, and the run defense has been up and down. I don’t understand what it is, exactly, he does well.

At least when you’re talking about Kris Richard and Ken Norton, you’re talking about a former secondary coach and linebackers coach (respectively) who were phenomenal at those jobs! It doesn’t appear Hurtt has ever been successful at any of his stops. It certainly doesn’t explain this fast-track he’s been on up to this point.

When the Seattle Times announced his hire, it was with the knowledge that Ed Donatell was also going to be hired as a defensive assistant in some capacity. The two, in conjunction, both worked under Vic Fangio, who was and presumably still IS one of the best defensive coordinators in the game today. The obvious next question is: if we want to run his system going forward, why didn’t we just hire HIM?! But, whatever. Presumably, once you know the system, then it’s a matter of getting the right guys to fit within that system. You still need someone to call plays and make adjustments mid-game. I hate the fact that we’re going into a second consecutive season with a first-time play-caller (last year, Shane Waldron for the offense; now Hurtt for the defense).

This is worsened by the fact that Donatell was just hired to be Minnesota’s DC. Hurtt is more palatable with a veteran like Donatell backing him up.

I’m actually heartened with the new assistants the Seahawks hired to coach under Hurtt, though. Karl Scott was brought in to coach the secondary (and be the passing game coordinator). He’s another hot shot who’s on a fast-track, coming from coaching the secondary in Alabama (2018-2020) and the Vikings (2021). Nick Saban, obviously, is the greatest college coach who ever lived, and I have the utmost respect for the old Vikings coaching staff, especially with their defensive pedigree. So, at least he’s coached under some smart dudes.

I’m even more excited for Sean Desai, who looks like a brilliant football mind, coming over from the Bears (starting in 2013, working his way up to DC in 2021). He was in the hunt for numerous DC jobs around the league, before settling here as an Associate Head Coach for the defense.

I’ll be honest, I actually think the Seahawks are making a huge mistake. I think they should’ve just hired Desai to be the DC, and given Hurtt the boot. This seems like something that could backfire in a big way, with Hurtt ultimately failing (and being fired within four years) and Desai moving on to bigger and better things after 2022. Here’s hoping he can make a big impact in a short period of time.

Ultimately, though, we don’t know how good or bad Hurtt is going to be. I’m just assuming he’ll be bad, and am staking my claim right now that this is an uninspiring hire. I wish the Seahawks would’ve made another choice, but who knows? I could be totally wrong. Maybe he’s been a diamond in the rough this whole time and it was Ken Norton who was holding him back. Odds seem to be stacked against that. So, rather than be the usual homer that I am, I’m going to be a Debbie Downer instead, so when we look back in a few years, I’ll get to say I was right from the very beginning.

Yay.

Of course, that just means the Seahawks will continue to suck between now and then, and nobody wants that.

Next up, I’ll be writing about the shake-up along the offensive line coaching staff.

The Seahawks Are In The Market For A New Defensive Coordinator

The most pressing move of this offseason – non-player edition – was the fact that the Seahawks needed to fire Ken Norton Jr. and bring in a replacement defensive coordinator who’s actually worth a damn. According to recent reports, it looks like we’re halfway there.

It’s hard to get excited at a time like this, for a couple of reasons. For starters, it’s a little ghoulish to cheer for someone getting fired. But, as a former player and a longtime coach – who should have no trouble finding another job, at the very least, as a linebackers coach (his specialty) – I don’t think Ken Norton is hurting for money. If anything, it’s probably a little embarrassing and disappointing for him to be dismissed – especially when you can argue this is his second time failing as a defensive coordinator, meaning that there probably won’t be a third opportunity in his future, nor any opportunities for promotions to head coach in the NFL one day – but as a football coach, you have to get used to the idea of moving around and changing jobs every few years. That’s just the way it works the vast majority of the time.

Knowing that Ken Norton will be fine and will land on his feet, I would say it’s also hard to get excited right now because the great unknown is: who will be his replacement?

Initial reports are pointing to Ed Donatell – the Broncos’ most recent DC under Vic Fangio – and our very own defensive line coach, Clint Hurtt. As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t understand why Hurtt is still employed here. What has he done to bolster the defensive line one iota since being hired in 2017? You’d think you’d have to master one smaller job before being promoted to overseeing the entire big job of defensive coordinator!

As for Donatell, he was infamously the DC at Washington when the Huskies went 0-12 in 2008. He has relatively extensive experience at the position – 11 years, across 4 different stops – and I remember his Denver defenses being pretty good (I’m sure a Broncos fan might tell me something different). If I had to choose between the two, I guess I’d go with Donatell.

But, the Seahawks don’t have to choose between just those two! They could have the pick of the litter if they really wanted! Why are we going after the defensive coordinator under Vic Fangio, when we could go after Vic Fangio himself?! He’s been pretty good-to-great everywhere he’s been as a DC. And he’s also pretty old school in his mindset, which would lead me to believe he and Pete Carroll would get along well enough.

The last two DCs we’ve had are Norton and Kris Richard. Norton with the Seahawks was in his second career stint as a DC (previously with the Raiders), Richard was in his first (after skyrocketing through the organization since Carroll first arrived). I would prefer the Seahawks go away from untested coordinators and bring in a salty veteran who knows what he’s doing.

It’s fair to question the roster at this point, and how much it could conceivably improve over this offseason. If you put great players out there – like we had in the L.O.B. era – you can hire pretty much anyone to be your DC and get great production. But, we’ve largely had mediocre defenses in the years post-Dan Quinn (who is not an option at this point, since he’s already a DC in Dallas). Failing that, you want a coordinator who is going to maximize the talent he does have; Richard and Norton failed to bring anything extra to the table. The fact that the Seahawks’ defenses have declined under their watch has a lot to do with the talent they had to work with, but I would contend they did even less with that talent than someone more qualified might’ve done.

Assuming we don’t immediately find all the weapons we need, then I’m saying we need a proper DC to come in here and coach the hell out of these guys.

The worry, of course, is that it’s really Pete Carroll’s defense, and whoever he hires is a caretaker at best, or a puppet at worst. Not that Pete is calling plays or anything, but he’s a heavy influence in scheme and how plays are called. That didn’t seem to prevent Gus Bradley or Dan Quinn from being wildly successful and getting hired elsewhere to be head coaches. I don’t see why someone like Fangio – or an up-and-coming successful position coach with eyes towards being a head coach one day – would want to avoid Seattle when we have a track record of success on the defensive side of the ball under Carroll.

Hell, even over the last two years – when our defenses fell on their faces to start their respective seasons – we were able to turn things around and become a respectable unit by the ends of those seasons. One would argue Pete Carroll’s experience and expertise is a huge benefit to this team on the defensive side of the ball; any DC would be lucky to work under Carroll!

The right person could make all the difference. The personnel department still needs to do their jobs and fill in where they can, but I would be greatly encouraged by a quality hire. Here’s hoping that DC isn’t among the names I’ve already seen listed on Twitter.

Nobody Wants To Hear About My Fantasy Team: Week 1

See my Intro to understand what this is all about.

See my Draft Recap to see where we are heading into the first week of the season.

I’ll be the first to admit I obsess WAY TOO MUCH about fantasy football.  Thinking about my roster, listening to podcasts, reading articles, pouring over the rankings of other people, scouring the waiver wire for potential pick-ups, conjuring trades to try and swindle my friends out of their elite players.  My productivity in general takes a HUGE hit during the football season for those reasons and many others, but I’m no more insane than I am in the lead-up to Week 1.

It’s no more or less important than any other regular season week, but it FEELS like the most important game of the season.  At the same time, I’ve been trying my best in recent years not to tinker too much with my roster before I’ve actually had a chance to see these guys play.  I mean, if I liked these guys enough to draft them a week ago, why am I sitting here second-guessing myself before they’ve done anything to convince me they’re no good?

Last year, I think I managed to go all the way through the first week before making a roster change; this year I wasn’t as strong.  But, I feel I had a good reason:  the Bears made a huge trade for Khalil Mack over the weekend – the day AFTER I drafted Baltimore’s defense – so I used my relatively high waiver priority (3rd in the league) to swap defenses.

My draft strategy this year was simple:  wait until the very last minute to draft a defense.  There are a few you have to feel good about – the Rams, the Jags, the Vikings, maybe the Eagles – but a lot of the time, defense is about matchups.  Likewise, there are countless stories of defenses that came out of nowhere to lead the fantasy league in points, just as there are countless stories of supposedly-elite defenses succumbing to age or injury or simple over-rating.  Why get caught up in the fervor of taking one of the top pre-season defenses early in the draft when you can get one pretty close to just as good at the end of the draft or on waivers after the first week.  So, in this league, I picked up the Ravens’ defense, because they’re going up against Buffalo in Week 1, and that felt like a good one to stream against until some other team popped out as one to go with from Week 2 onward (or, if I got lucky, and the Ravens’ defense was really good in general – and not just against the Bills – then I just got them in the next-to-last round while the suckers in my league wasted precious earlier draft picks on the same quality).

The thing is, even heading into the draft, I liked Chicago’s defense as a possible sleeper.  I think Vic Fangio is an excellent defensive coordinator – on a tier just below Wade Phillips – and I seemed to remember them really going hard after young talent in the draft on this side of the ball.  They seemed poised like a breakout candidate BEFORE trading for Mack; now that they have him, and his sack potential, I like the Bears enough to make them my ONLY defense.

Also, not for nothing, but I like my bench players an awful lot (heading into Week 1, my bench includes:  Greg Olsen, Carson Wentz, Robert Woods, Adrian Peterson, and Kenny Stills).  I don’t want to drop ANY of those guys at the moment, as I feel like they could all play important roles on my team this year.  If I did have to drop someone, it would likely be one of those two receivers, so seeing how they both look in the first week is going to be critical in my line of thinking going forward (gun to my head:  I’d probably choose Woods over Stills, as I like the Rams’ offense more than Miami’s; but Stills could end up as the Dolphins’ best receiver this year, while the Rams have a lot of guys who will divide Goff’s attention).

Anyway, how I plan to do this is I’m going to write up my thought process heading into the week ahead of time, that way my rationale won’t be tainted by events that already happened.  You’re going to know exactly what I’m thinking heading into this week, because I’m writing it before the games start.  Then, I’m going to write a section after the fact, letting you know how my week went.  So, without further ado:

My Rationale Beforehand

Here’s my roster for Week 1:

  • QB1 – Derek Carr vs. LAR
  • QB2 – Andy Dalton @ IND
  • WR1 – Tyreek Hill @ LAC
  • WR2 – Adam Thielen vs. SF
  • RB1 – Ezekiel Elliott @ CAR
  • RB2 – Leonard Fournette @ NYG
  • TE – Jordan Reed @ AZ
  • FLEX – Demaryius Thomas vs. SEA
  • K – Robbie Gould @ MIN
  • DEF – Chicago @ GB

Obviously, if Wentz was healthy, he’d be my QB1 and I’d probably end up sitting Carr this week.  On waivers, the available QBs (at the time of this writing) are Tyrod Taylor, Joe Flacco, Sam Bradford, Ryan Fitzpatrick, and both Bills quarterbacks.  Of those guys, I might marginally prefer Taylor to Carr based on matchups (I could see Carr getting in trouble against that Rams defense, while Taylor is always careful with the football and the Steelers don’t really pose much of a threat to make his life miserable), but not enough to make a roster change.  I have a lot riding on Carr this year, based on the fact that I drafted him so high and because I believe the Raiders will be throwing a lot, so I kinda need him to work out for me early in the season.

I don’t have a lot to say about my starting WRs and RBs; they seem pretty self-explanatory.  I will say that I’m pretty confident about my FLEX guy as well, as I think Thomas could have a field day against this Seahawks defense.  For what it’s worth, I like Emmanuel Sanders a lot this year, but not particularly in this game.  The Broncos tend to move Thomas around quite a bit, and honestly I don’t see him going to Griffin’s side as much as Sanders.  I don’t think they play Thomas in the slot very much, so that negates Justin Coleman’s impact.  If I’m right, and Thomas is lining up opposite of Griffin’s side on the other end, I think 150 yards and a TD or two is well within his capabilities.  If I wasn’t playing Thomas, I would’ve gone with AP, but I’d like to take a wait-and-see approach with the veteran running back before I commit to giving him regular time in my fantasy lineup.

My biggest sticking point is in my TE spot, where I’ve already waffled once and it wouldn’t shock me if I waffled again.

Here’s the deal:  I drafted Olsen in the 8th round.  As I noted previously, I didn’t intend to use that high of a pick on a tight end this year, seemingly content with taking the leftover scraps.  But, Olsen was sitting there, and I would’ve felt like a fool if I’d let him drop any further.  He’s obviously a tremendous talent, both in fantasy and in real life, and in a usual circumstance, I’d be happy to start him against the Cowboys.  But, then in the 12th round, Jordan Reed was sitting there.  He’s got Alex Smith throwing to him.  He’s in an offense that utilizes the tight end to a great extent even before Alex Smith got there.  And, it’s week 1.  He’s healthy!  He’s probably as healthy as he’s ever going to be.  Indeed, I wouldn’t be shocked if this was the last chance I got to start him, that’s how fragile he is!  He’s going up against the Cardinals, which feels like a juicy matchup, and they’re on the road, so I expect the Redskins will need to throw the ball more than they would if they were at home and more likely to be sitting on a lead in the 4th quarter.  Ultimately, I feel like there’s better touchdown potential for someone like Reed over someone like Olsen, factoring in everything around both players.  The Panthers just have more weapons on offense, and I don’t believe Cam will be as inclined to look for his TE in the red zone as Smith will be.  We’ll see; I have a feeling I’m going to regret whatever I do here.

Also, thinking long term, I fucked up when I took Reed, because both players have Week 4 byes, which means if they both stay healthy between now and then, I either have to drop a really productive guy, or I’ll have to roster a third tight end for a week (or I guess I could take a 0 at that spot for one game, but that seems idiotic that early in the season).

Anyway, that’s that.  Below, read about how my fantasy week went.

***

Week 1 Results

Well, I didn’t want to believe it, but Derek Carr fucked me ALREADY!

I had a 20-point lead heading into Monday Night.  I had Carr left to go; usually, when you’re winning and you have a quarterback still to play, you’re in pretty excellent shape.  I want to say I was an 80% favorite heading into the night.  My opponent, Crazy N8’s Prostates, had Marvin Jones and the Rams’ kicker.  It was a lock, right?

Not so fucking fast.

If Carr had just thrown a single TD, I would’ve won.  If he’d just thrown TWO interceptions – instead of three – I would’ve won.  If Legatron had just missed one of those field goals (he ended up with 17 points in total), I would’ve won.  Instead, I’m a 3-point loser and everything is meaningless.

For a while there, I was looking like a genius with the Bears defense.  I also looked like a fucking boner, because remember how I had to drop Baltimore’s defense to pick up the Bears?  Well, not only did they go off (to the tune of 31 points in our league, way over their expected 17.12), but they went off FOR MY OPPONENT (who picked them up and played them against me!).  At one time, with Aaron Rodgers out of the game, the Bears had 35 points, but then the Packers started scoring, so that total fell to 20 (still well above the expected 9.06 Yahoo projected).

My big decision of Jordan Reed over Greg Olsen ended up panning out somewhat, with Olsen being the one to leave his game with an injury.  Reed beat Olsen by 9.5 points, so bully for me.

That Fournette injury is obviously a concern.  He was on his way to a monster day, but I guess his injury woes aren’t behind him.  Now, every time I have him in my lineup, I have to wonder if he’s going to get me 30 points or 3 points.  As long as Adrian Peterson is healthy – and in a plus matchup – I really have to consider putting him in there more often.

Demaryius Thomas acquitted himself well as my FLEX guy.  Predictably, the Seahawks’ defense posed little threat.  The bigger threat is Keenum’s rapport with Emmanuel Sanders, who went OFF in that game.  Still, my value pick is looking solid so far.

My biggest shining star was Tyreek Hill, who blew up to the tune of 46.10 points this week (he led all non-Fitzmagic players in my league).  He almost pulled my ass out of the fire, but you just can’t overcome a 3-point week out of your top available QB.

Crazy N8’s Prostates’ lineup looked like this:

  • QB1 – Kirk Cousins vs. SF
  • QB2 – Alex Smith @ AZ
  • WR1 – ODB vs. JAX
  • WR2 – Keenan Allen vs. KC
  • RB1 – Shady McCoy @ BAL
  • RB2 – David Johnson vs. WAS
  • TE – Travis Kelce @ LAC
  • FLEX – Marvin Jones vs. NYJ
  • K – Greg Zuerlein @ OAK
  • DEF – Baltimore vs. BUF

I ended up being the highest scorer of all the losers and had the third-highest points in the league this week.  Pretty sad state of affairs, all things considered.  Carson Wentz can’t come back soon enough.  Starting to think about picking up Fitzpatrick.  Things are looking bleak already!

The Seahawks’ 2018 Schedule Is Here (And I Don’t Care)

Now is usually the time I express my pleasure/get all up in arms over the newly released Seahawks schedule.  But, I’m on record as expecting an 8-8 season, so who gives a damn if a formerly west-coast game against the Raiders has been placed in London for no good God damn reason?  To wit:

  • @ Denver
  • @ Chicago (Mon)
  • Dallas
  • @ Arizona
  • L.A. Rams
  • @ Oakland (London) (10am) (Sort Of)
  • BYE
  • @ Detroit (10am)
  • L.A. Chargers
  • @ L.A. Rams
  • Green Bay (Thurs)
  • @ Carolina (10am)
  • San Francisco (SNF)
  • Minnesota (Mon)
  • @ San Francisco
  • Kansas City (SNF)
  • Arizona

So, one thing I actually kinda like is having 5 of the first 7 games (with a BYE week squeezed in) on the road; meaning obviously that 6 of the last 9 games are at home (including all the second half primetime games).  The entire month of December, we only have to travel as far as San Francisco!  4 of those 5 games are in Seattle!

As far as 10am games go, only three isn’t too bad.  I was pretty shocked to see a whopping 5 primetime games (2 Monday, 2 Sunday, 1 Thursday), considering we weren’t all that world-beating last year.  Someone made the point on Twitter and I wholeheartedly agree:  that’s the power of an elite, Top 5 quarterback.  I still think at least one of those Sunday Night games will be flexed out; if I had to bet the family farm on one prediction this season, that would be it.

One thing I noticed is that the more difficult games look to be at home, which is always a plus.  We play the NFC North, and the best two teams (presumably) are Green Bay and Minnesota, so getting them both in Seattle is pretty fortunate.  Not that the Bears or Lions will be pushovers, but you get my drift.  I particularly like seeing Green Bay having to come all the way out here for a Thursday game; FUCK YOU PACKERS!  Then, we play the AFC West and get the Chiefs and Chargers here, while we play the Raiders over in London (so no one will really have an advantage, although I bet there are more Raiders fans living in London than Seahawks fans) and we catch the Broncos in the first week of the season.  Will Case Keenum be up to snuff right out of the gate, with a new team and a new system?  Then, among the second place teams from last year, we get Dallas here and go on the road to play Carolina, which again I think is the more favorable draw.  I think Dallas will be good again, with full seasons out of Elliott and Dak (and the Dez situation is addition by subtraction), whereas who knows with Carolina?  That late into the season?  Are they going to be totally healthy?

It’s always a huge folly to try to predict the games this early, but it’s 4/20, SO LIGHT ‘EM UP BRO!

@ Denver – Safe money is on this one being a loss.  Going to the Mile High City, playing against a good defense (not at its peak, but still with plenty of talent) that will probably be as healthy as it gets, I think Keenum can do just enough to squeak one by us.  Maybe this one ends with a late Seahawks drive falling short with a pick in the endzone.  Denver 24, Seattle 17.

@ Chicago – I do think the Bears will be much improved, particularly with another year for Vic Fangio to ramp up that defense.  I just don’t know if Trubisky has what it takes.  This one should be a good barometer of the Seahawks’ season, though.  If we’re truly an 8-8 type team, we win this game.  If we’re doomed to bottom out entirely in 2018, then notch this one in the loss column.  I think there’s enough talent in Seattle to steal one, but it won’t be easy.  Seattle 19, Chicago 17.

Dallas – Loss.  No doubt about it.  The Cowboys’ running game will stomp us into hamburger, their quick-strike passing attack will befuddle us, and if our offense can’t keep up in a shootout, this one could be a laugher.  Dallas 33, Seattle 21.

@ Arizona – Sam Bradford?  Please.  The Seahawks go down to their winter home and take another shockingly easy W.  Seattle 27, Arizona 13.

L.A. Rams – Loss.  No doubt about it.  Did you ever think the Seahawks would start out their home schedule 0-2?  Don’t say I didn’t warn you when it happens.  This one PROBABLY won’t be as embarrassing as last year’s loss to the Rams … but it also might be.  Los Angeles 38, Seattle 18.

@ Oakland – I got this as a win.  I don’t know if the Raiders are very good, and I don’t know if Jon Gruden is very good.  I do think this game will be fun, and potentially high scoring.  Seattle 34, Oakland 27.

BYE – So, through six weeks, I have the Seahawks with a 3-3 record, having shockingly gone 3-1 on the road.  Let’s see if that holds up.

@ Detroit – This one has loss written all over it.  Every year, the Seahawks play at least one road game where they come out looking great, but gag it up in the end.  I think the Lions have offense for days and they’ll easily exploit our depleted secondary.  Detroit 38, Seattle 31.

L.A. Chargers – Don’t love this matchup.  I never love a matchup with this Seahawks defense against Philip Rivers, because he fucking carves us up every fucking time.  Los Angeles 35, Seattle 20.

@ L.A. Rams – One more loss to throw on the pile; things are looking BLEAK here folks!  I think the defense will show up a little better this time, but there’s still no doing anything against that Rams squad.  Los Angeles 24, Seattle 6.

Green Bay – Fuck you Packers, we’re winning this one!  With no time to prepare, and no time to fret over this 3-game losing streak, everyone will have written off the Seahawks by this point (if they haven’t already, like I have), and they’ll come out like a ball of lightning.  Seattle 36, Green Bay 28.

@ Carolina – Fuck you Panthers, we’re winning this one too!  One of those old school grudge matches.  Seattle 17, Carolina 13.

San Francisco – Fuck you 49ers, we’re also winning this one!  You don’t think the fans in this one are going to be fucking insane?  With all day to drink and stew over the return of Richard Sherman?  With the Seahawks and 49ers likely to be pretty close to one another in record (and probably fighting over the same Wild Card spot)?  I see a touchdown being scored on Sherm and I see the Seahawks running away with this one.  Seattle 26, San Francisco 10.

Minnesota – Here’s where the winning streak comes to an end.  Too much defense with these Vikings.  I think we hold our own against Cousins and their offense, but it won’t be enough.  Minnesota 13, Seattle 3.

@ San Francisco – We’re dropping this one too.  The 49ers are probably better than the Seahawks right now, and this will put them over the top.  San Francisco 19, Seattle 16.

Kansas City – I like this one to be a win.  First year starter at quarterback, who knows if he’ll hold up let alone be any good?  I think the Seahawks impose their will on the ground and grind out a close one.  Seattle 24, Kansas City 23.

Arizona – Who will be Arizona’s starting quarterback by week 17?  Not Sam Bradford, that’s for damn sure!  The Cards will be falling apart by this point and the Seahawks will cruise.  Seattle 30, Arizona 10.

Any way you slice it, that’s 8-8.  They’ll be a streaky team, they’ll deflate us, then get our hopes up, then break our hearts again.  Wake me when it’s 2019.