We Don’t Root For Russell Wilson On The Broncos

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Top 20 Seahawks Of 2021

The theme of this offseason – which I alluded to last Friday, but don’t think I properly answered – is: How Quick Can The Seahawks Get Back To Contending For Championships? Turning things around can be a little nebulous; if by “turning around” you mean getting back to the playoffs, as I’ve said before, we can pretty much run the same team back and hope variance takes care of everything else (on top of a second year with the same coordinator, and a little better injury luck). But, I don’t think very many of us are satisfied with “just making the playoffs”. We’ve been “just making the playoffs” pretty much the entire time Russell Wilson has been in the league! After getting a taste of back-to-back Super Bowls, I think the more hardcore fans are now rabid animals, desperate to get back no matter the cost.

The 2021 Seahawks were a collosal disappointment, no doubt about it. We started the season 3-8, it doesn’t get a whole lot worse than that. We lost to a lot of teams we had no business losing to (the Titans, the Vikings, the Steelers, the Saints, the Football Team, the Bears). Flip half of those games and we’re at 10 wins and in the playoffs. It’s not like we were TERRIBLE though. We finished 7-10 – a record we absolutely deserved – but we’re not in such bad shape that the roster MUST be completely turned over.

I have a list of 20 Seahawks from the 2021 team. I’ve split them into three categories: young rising stars, good guys who would find regular work on other teams, and the cream of the crop established superstars. So, let’s go in that order.

Young, Rising Stars

  • Jake Curhan (RT)
  • Tre Brown (CB)

Most every year, you stumble upon at least a guy or two who comes out of nowhere to really make an impact. Tre Brown was the first one this past season. As a 4th round draft pick, I didn’t expect a whole lot – if anything – from Tre Brown, as a rookie, or really throughout his career. The odds are stacked so far against you as a Day 3 draft pick. You could argue the Seahawks have had a lot of success drafting DBs late, but you could also argue we haven’t done so since 2012 (unless you’re a big Ugo Amadi fan; he’s okay, I guess, but I wouldn’t call him a rousing success). Tre Flowers, Tedric Thompson, Michael Tyson, Tye Smith, etc. are all the Day 3 busts we’ve accumulated since the L.O.B. heyday; I think we’ve proven that we’re not capable of just throwing any ol’ draft pick out there and turning them into studs.

So, yes, Tre Brown was a breath of fresh air! He was aggressive, without being reckless. He fit into the system without giving up huge cushions of yardage pre-snap. And, most importantly, he supplanted Tre Flowers once and for all, allowing us to cut him when he finally ran out of chances to make it in this defense. Which made his injury in November that much more demoralizing, because Brown looked like he’d be a 4-year starter with this team right away. Now, he’s gotta recover from knee surgery, and who knows how long it’ll be until he returns to form, if ever? I’m still holding out hope, though not for a 2022 return.

Jake Curhan, on the other hand, looks like he’s here to stay. He was an undrafted rookie in 2021 who slipped in the draft due to medicals. Those medicals don’t project to be as serious as once thought, and it appears he’ll be able to have a long and fruitful NFL career. He was able to slide into the right tackle spot when Brandon Shell went down with injury, and he really impressed! His pass protection isn’t quite there yet, but it’s not as dire from a tackle as it is with a guard; Russ was able to work with it and get away from a lot of the pressure coming from that side. Curhan’s run blocking proved to be top notch though, so at least he does SOMETHING well! That’s more than we could say for the revolving door that’s been the right tackle spot since Breno Giacomini manned the position. Making it through his rookie season injury-free gives me even more hope as we head into 2022, when he’ll project to take a step forward in his development.

Better Than Replacement-Level Players

  • Gerald Everett (TE) *
  • Damien Lewis (G)
  • Alton Robinson (DE)
  • Poona Ford (DT)
  • Al Woods (DT) *
  • Carlos Dunlap (DE)
  • Bobby Wagner (LB)
  • Sidney Jones (CB) *
  • D.J. Reed (CB) *
  • Rasheem Green (DE) *

I didn’t put these in any particular order, but if I’m being honest, D.J. Reed was the one I was most on the fence about; he might be an elite player, I’d just like to see more than 2 interceptions a year out of an elite corner.

These are all guys who aren’t quite studs, but if we cut them (or they’re free agents, which is what the * represents), I would expect all of these guys to find jobs on other teams. Anyone I didn’t list here, or in the upcoming elite category, are guys who may or may not find work elsewhere, but don’t have a ton of value to an NFL team outside of depth.

These guys, however, are productive enough, but I could probably take ’em or leave ’em. They all have flaws. Everett is a weird headcase who cost us too many yards in stupid fucking penalties (not to mention all the drops). Lewis has run into a string of injuries and doesn’t feel quite as irreplaceable as he was as a promising rookie. Robinson just didn’t take that next step in his second year, finishing with a disappointing number of sacks. Poona and Woods are run-stuffing tackles, there’s a ceiling for what those guys are (and it’s in this category). Dunlap has only showed up for half-a-season in each of his two years here. Wagner’s just flat out lost a step and doesn’t make the same number of impact plays as he did as a young buck. Jones and Reed need to generate more turnovers. And Green is taking his sweet-ass time to really bust out as a force in this league.

Elite Seahawks Studs

  • Russell Wilson (QB)
  • Rashaad Penny (RB) *
  • D.K. Metcalf (WR)
  • Tyler Lockett (WR)
  • Darrell Taylor (LB/DE)
  • Jordyn Brooks (LB)
  • Jamal Adams (S)
  • Quandre Diggs (S) *

Again, no particular order, but Brooks is the one I was most on the fence about. He might just be another guy. But, he led the team in tackles in his second season (his first as a starter), and all the smart football wonks have been praising his play since he started getting in there. There haven’t been a ton of impact plays, but he’s making all the regular ones, and he’s another guy who should continue to improve over the next year or two.

Diggs and Penny both feel like guys who need to be re-signed. It’s tantalizing to envision a scenario where Penny can stay healthy and dominate the league (I’ll be FASCINATED to see where he goes on fantasy football draft boards heading into next year).

Seeing the offensive players on this list, it’s all the more frustrating that we weren’t able to move the football and score as much as we’d like. So many NFL teams would KILL for the type of talent we have at the skill positions. Let’s hope – if things do carry over into 2022 – that it was just an adjustment period to the new offensive coordinator, and we’re now over the hump.

As for the defense, those were some nice players for us (particularly encouraging to see Taylor here, considering this was his first full year, after being injured his entire rookie season), but in order for Taylor to remain on this list, he’s going to have to really turn it up in 2022, and be a kind of Von Miller-like talent off the edge. The Seahawks have been in dire need of that kind of pass rushing monster for years now; if they don’t get it this offseason, then I’d expect more of the same middling finishes for years to come.

We’re not bereft of talent, but obviously you’d like to see more than 8 players in that elite category. I don’t know what it’s going to take to get there, but that feels like a tall ask to do in one offseason.

The Rams To Cover Against The Seahawks Seems Like The Easiest Money I’ve Ever Seen

It sure does seem like the Seahawks have been screwed by the NFL postponing our game against the Rams in L.A. thanks to their rampant outbreak of COVID this past week. The extra two days have allowed the Rams to get back some of their best players – like Jalen Ramsey and Von Miller – while it’s led to the Seahawks losing guys like Tyler Lockett, D.J. Reed, and Bryan Mone (although, I get the argument that a couple of these positive tests came down on Sunday, in time to eliminate them from competition for that day; you wonder if there wouldn’t otherwise be some delayed reporting at play if the game indeed took place as originally scheduled).

Of course, the Rams always had Aaron Donald, Cooper Kupp, and Matthew Stafford available, so it’s probably fair to assume they would’ve roundly defeated the Seahawks anyway. What might’ve been a forfeit for L.A. is now looking like a certain victory, especially considering they have everything to play for (a win would put them in the driver’s seat for the division) while the Seahawks have next-to-nothing to play for.

It’s baffling, then, why the Rams are only favored by 7 points. This is as big of a no-brainer as I’ve ever seen; I would’ve figured the spread would be anywhere from 8-10 points considering the matchup, regardless of what’s been happening with the comings and goings of COVID-tested players the last few days.

Earlier this season, at home, in primetime (when we usually play our best), the Seahawks lost 26-17. Granted, that was the game where Russell Wilson mashed his finger; but that injury happened late enough for the game to already be decided (10 fourth quarter points led by Geno Smith against a prevent defense doesn’t – as Shania Twain once said – impress-ah me much).

Last year, the Seahawks famously went 1-2 against the Rams, losing on the road by a touchdown and at home in the playoffs by 10 points. In 2019, we lost in L.A. by a whopping 16 points. Putting up points has been exceedingly difficult against the Rams in recent seasons, particularly due to the fact that their defensive line owns property in our backfield. Every third down feels impossible, because one or more individuals are right on top of Russell Wilson within a second or two.

It doesn’t matter what year we’re talking about; this dates back for the entirety of the Russell Wilson era in Seattle. Now, focus in on 2021. These 5-8 Seahawks have been pretty atrocious, especially on offense. The O-Line has been a miserable failure, Russell Wilson has yet to adapt to the new scheme, and points have been VERY hard to come by. Who in their right mind would expect this Seahawks team to hang with a 9-4 Rams team playing for the division and a possible top seed in the NFC?

7 points feels like a gift. Even assuming some sort of back-door cover, the worst you should expect is a push. But, this feels like a game where the Rams will get a two-score lead early and coast to victory. I expect something in the 33-13 range, with a minimum of 4 sacks on Russell Wilson, and something like a 20% conversion rate on 3rd/4th downs. It’s required a hostile takeover to get back the Taylor Family Farm, but I’m willing to once again put it all on the line in this one. The Rams will have no trouble whatsoever dismantling the Seahawks later today. Get your bets in now; you can thank me later!

Cooper Kupp against a depleted secondary (missing both Reed and Jamal Adams), the Rams’ running game against our depleted defensive line (losing Mone in the interior is huge towards our ability to stop the run), and, of course, Aaron Donald & Co. will continue beating our asses like the red-headed step-children that we are.

When it’s all over, once and for all we can give up the dream on the 2021 season (if you haven’t already done so). Just in time to lose two of our next three games to close out the year in miserable fashion. Yay football.

Nobody Wants To Hear About My Fantasy Team 2021: Down Goes Jameis

Hilariously, after writing about how down I was on Justin Fields last week, his beleaguered head coach, Matt Nagy, was kept home due to a COVID outbreak, and Fields ended up having the greatest fantasy game of his career! For my bench, of course, but weird how that happens. It’s like Nagy’s incompetence might be the one holding him back or something!

Snoopy & Prickly Pete lost to The Lance Petemans 151.95 to 139.48. He almost blew it by leaving Calvin Ridley in his lineup, but unfortunately Jameis Winston blew out his knee on an illegal horsecollar tackle and my team was properly fucked as a result. If he had the kind of game it looked like he was going to have, I think I would’ve overcome the final deficit. As it stands, a zero for Ridley kept me in it enough to pick up the Giants’ kicker on Monday night. But, as I expected, Tyreek Hill went off (he always does when I’m up against him, because I foolishly traded him to The Lance Petemans a few years ago), and the Giants’ kicker was worth all of 5 points to me.

A.J. Brown, D.K. Metcalf, and CeeDee Lamb all had good-to-great games for me. The Rams’ defense was solid, but could’ve been better. Noah Fant was fucking miserable, and is making me re-think my tight end plans as I consider what I’ve got going for next year. I might end up dropping him entirely if I find a better tight end on the market. I asked on Twitter, and a Denver fan responded that Fant hasn’t been all that great (so it’s not just their lack of talent at quarterback). Either way, a Broncos tight end seems to be a dead end in fantasy. Half his games so far have seen him get less than 10 points (PPR); only two games have seen him get 10 targets or more. I don’t know what to do here.

Mac Jones didn’t do much of anything in my starting lineup, but Taylor Heinicke didn’t do much for my bench either. With Jameis out for the year, I’m left scrambling once again to find a replacement quarterback. I made a couple of waiver claims. Taysom Hill – Jameis’ backup – was snagged out from under me, so I got the next best thing available: Jets’ Week 8 phenom Mike White.

Even though the Bengals did good work against the Ravens, I’d still say their defense is somewhat suspect. Well, the Jets are now going up against the Colts, who have proven to be pretty effective on D. Since this is a road game, and a Thursday night game, I’m going to go ahead and hold off on starting White. However, if he balls out in this one, he might be a redneck the real deal.

On the tight end front, Noah Fant got dinged with a COVID IR designation this week. He needs back-to-back negative tests to be able to play this Sunday. I went ahead and picked up Dawson Knox in free agency, who has missed one game so far with a fractured bone in his hand, but otherwise was on a 3-game run of excellent tight end play before the injury. Since he’s on a quality offense in Buffalo, I’m going to keep him regardless of whether or not he can play this week. Ideally, for Week 9 purposes, one of these guys will return for me. But, long-term, I think Knox might be my guy. He’s only in his third year, and if all goes according to plan, he’ll have Josh Allen throwing to him for a good chunk of his career. That beats whatever the hell Fant has to look forward to in the quarterback quagmire that is Denver.

Put it this way: Fant has 5.4 more points than Knox on the season, yet Knox has missed a game to injury AND had his BYE week (Fant doesn’t have his until Week 11). That tells me everything I need to know about their potential both this year and beyond.

This week, I’m going up against Beasts, who is 4-4 and in 4th place. He’s got beat up by the injury bug, with Russell Wilson going on IR for his hand, and Derrick Henry recently being lost for most of the rest of the season. He’s also had Christian McCaffery doing the Will He Play/Won’t He Play game for most of the season. Given the rest of the talent on Beasts, he’s certainly a contender for the league championship. But, he’s going to have to find a way to hang around and somehow crack the top six to make the playoffs.

Luckily for him, he’s got Snoopy & Prickly Pete this week. Here’s my lineup:

  • Mac Jones (QB) @ CAR
  • Justin Fields (QB) @ PIT
  • A.J. Brown (WR) @ LAR
  • CeeDee Lamb (WR) vs. DEN
  • Ezekiel Elliott (RB) vs. DEN
  • Khalil Herbert (RB) @ PIT
  • Dawson Knox (TE) @ JAX
  • Diontae Johnson (WR) vs. CHI
  • Justin Tucker (K) vs. MIN
  • L.A. Rams (DEF) vs. TEN

You know what us fantasy owners of the Rams’ defense loved to see this week? Them trading for Von Miller! Of course, with the way they’re just throwing away draft picks, the long-term viability of the Rams defense seems a little iffy from a dynasty perspective. But, we’ll cross that bridge when we get there. Fantasy defenses are a lot like bullpens in baseball, they can be a little volatile from year to year.

I’m dealing with a D.K. Metcalf and Taylor Heinicke BYE situation, so that rules both of them out. I tell you, I’m loving having four quality starting wide receivers, even though I know I can only keep three of them. It’s a nice problem to have; one of the few nice problems about my fantasy team!

Here’s what Beasts figures to run out there:

  • Justin Herbert (QB) @ PHI
  • Teddy Bridgewater (QB) @ DAL
  • Cooper Kupp (WR) vs. TEN
  • Adam Thielen (WR) @ BAL
  • Boston Scott (RB) vs. LAC
  • Chuba Hubbard (RB) vs. NE
  • Mark Andrews (TE) vs. MIN
  • Courtland Sutton (WR) @ DAL
  • Randy Bullock (K) @ LAR
  • Arizona (DEF) @ SF

It’s definitely not an ideal lineup compared to what he was rolling with earlier this year, but I think there’s easily enough there to get the job done. Herbert and Kupp alone are probably good for 60+ points combined. I have Mark Andrews going on my Splinter League team, so it’s going to be weird to root for him to kill it.

I’m guessing I get a 0 from my tight end position, and under 10 from Fields. The rest of my guys have tough opposing matchups or are on the road. I think I’ll be lucky to clear 130 points this week. So, even if Beasts underperforms, he should still have enough firepower to defeat me.

Splinter League Round-Up!

That’s back-to-back wins for BUCK FUTTER, with the week’s biggest blowout over the last place team. The latest impressive victory makes me the league leader in total points this season, which you love to see. I had a bit of a dilemma with both of my Bucs receivers on BYE this week, but I found Cole Beasley in free agency. I hope the anti-vaxxer doesn’t get COVID this week! He and Tee Higgins will be my guys in the WR spots, with the rest of my team being running back-heavy. I was able to drop Deshaun Watson this week, since the trade deadline passed with him still in Houston. That’s okay, I’ll only need Mac Jones to start for two weeks. If he needs to start more than that, something has gone seriously wrong. I have a tough one this week against Vinegar Strokes, who is right on my heels at 4-4. This week will be HUGE for my playoff implications.

The Seahawks Signed Benson Mayowa

We can’t wait around forever for Clowney to make up his G.D. mind! The Seahawks have places to go, people to see, and motherfuckin’ ASSES to kick!

You know, assuming we’re ever allowed to kick asses again (thanks Obama corona).

Benson Mayowa was signed to a 1-year, $3 million deal (with incentives possibly taking it up another mil). You might remember him as the last man on the defensive line depth chart in 2013, when he played in just 2 games and generated all of 2 tackles. He’s bounced around from Oakland to Dallas to Arizona and back to Oakland again in his career, playing mostly part-time roles in pass rushing situations.

He’s not, what you would call, a particularly sexy signing (you get what you pay for, of course), but HONESTLY? I mean, he had 7.0 sacks last year in 302 total snaps for the Raiders; by comparison, Bruce Irvin had 8.5 sacks in 608 total snaps. So, you know, do the math (please do the math, I was an English major; my brain isn’t equipped to handle such complex equations).

This is a depth piece.

We hope.

PLEASE GOD LET THIS BE A DEPTH PIECE AS OPPOSED TO THE WHOLE FUCKING ENCHILADA!

No, it’s fine. We’re all fine. He’ll be good.

Real talk though, as it stands, our starting four (if the season started this morning) would be Irvin, Jarran Reed, Poona Ford, and Mayowa. If that sounds UNDERWHELMING AF, then I warn you: don’t look at the depth chart behind those guys.

Are you ready? Don’t say I didn’t warn you:

  • Rasheem Green (5 sacks in 2 years)
  • Branden Jackson (3.5 sacks in 4 years)
  • L.J. Collier (0.0 sacks in 1 year)
  • Bryan Mone (0.0 sacks in 1 year)

I dunno, there might be more under futures contracts or whatever, but you get the idea.

I read in the Seattle Times this morning that there are reports the Seahawks are offering somewhere in the $13-$15 million per year range to Clowney, who has since lowered his asking price (from over $20 million per year) to the $17-$18 million range. He previously stated that he wanted to play for a contender, but it looks like only the shitbird teams are interested in paying him what he’s looking for.

I like that the Seahawks are sticking to their guns here. He’s got an injury history, and while he can certainly be disruptive – even world-wrecking at times – he just doesn’t have the sack numbers to make it enticing for teams to want to re-set the defensive end market with him. He’s not Khalil Mack. He’s not Von Miller. He’s not Aaron Donald. He’s GOOD, don’t get me wrong; he would easily be the best defensive lineman on the Seahawks by a million miles! But, there is simply too much risk in guaranteeing him an insane amount of money, when I’ve kinda sorta been saying all along that I think we can get similar production from a collection of 2-3 mid-tier guys for the same amount of money.

And, that’s the whole point of the Mayowa signing. It’s in Clowney’s best interests to wait out this market – wait out this virus – and hopefully show out for interested teams in a tryout of sorts. But, that is in direct conflict with the Seahawks’ needs. We can’t wait for him to ultimately settle for whatever deal comes in at the last minute; we need to fill in this roster around him. Waiting for him to maximize his value will only serve in the rest of the league taking all of the other next-best options off the table.

At this point, I say just get Everson Griffen signed, maybe another mid-tier guy, and call it a day until the draft. If Clowney wants to play ball for a winner, he knows where to find us.

The Seahawks Will Keep Losing Until They Stop

I’m torn this week.  On the one hand, I feel committed to this bit I started where I’m picking against the Seahawks until they prove to me they’re capable of actually winning a football game.  On the other hand, the Seahawks are at home, and I feel like they actually match up pretty well against the Cowboys this Sunday.

There’s a lot of toxicity around the Seahawks and their fanbase this week after a pretty embarrassing road defeat to the Bears on Monday Night.  We’re not used to this.  Not since Russell Wilson joined the team, anyway.  The Seahawks have been consistent winners!  This is uncharted territory, albeit probably not totally unexpected given all of our pre-season reservations.  8-8 teams lose on the road to other 8-8 teams.  By the same token, they usually win at home against other 8-8 teams.  Dallas is an 8-8 type team.

But, I’ve gotta say, if I pick the Seahawks and they lose, I’ll be FURIOUS with myself for going against my stated pledge!

Make no mistake, while I’ve picked against the Seahawks in the first two weeks, I was absolutely rooting for them.  It’s one of those no-lose situations where either my pick comes through, or it doesn’t but my team is happy.  But, at some point, you gotta stop riding the fence, you know?  Either you hop on the bandwagon or you run away screaming; but just walking beside the bandwagon isn’t a viable long-term solution.

The Reasons Why The Cowboys Will Win On Sunday

Because even with the likes of Bobby Wagner and Tre Flowers back in the fold, this defense isn’t anything special.  The Cowboys might not dominate with their rushing attack, but they’ll be able to do a little bit; the Seahawks won’t totally shut Zeke down.  They’ll be the more disciplined team – avoiding offensive penalties that put them behind the chains – and Dak is fully capable of dinking and dunking his way down the field.

Furthermore, there won’t be enough big plays to keep the 12th Man in it.  The 12th Man just isn’t as formidable as they once were.  Sure, it’ll be loud to start the game – it is the Seahawks’ home opener after all – but that’ll dissipate as the Cowboys rack up the first downs and move the ball at will.  By the second half, I’m sure Joe Buck and Troy Aikman will be wondering where all that vaunted crowd noise went.

And, let’s face it, the Seahawks’ weapons just aren’t there to help out Russell.  With no Doug, we’re over-dependant upon guys trying to get open, and those guys just aren’t up to the task.  With Wilson holding the ball longer and longer, that gives ANY defensive line – even one that’s as mediocre as the one I’m assuming Dallas has – time to get home.  The book is out:  nothing fancy, just constrict the pocket, wall Wilson in, and wait for him to make a mistake.  As long as you don’t let Wilson escape – and as long as the Seahawks’ coaching staff is willfully preventing any movement of the pocket – then it’s only a matter of time before we run into a sack, a fumble, or a penalty.

Speaking of the coaching staff, their unwillingness to stick to the running game – and stick to a specific running back (COUGH COUGH CHRIS CARSON) within that running game – is sinking this season.  I don’t expect anything here to change.  Penny is still going to get his shots; he’s going to continue looking just okay (but far from a first round talent).  Carson is going to look amazing, but left on the bench for long, unforgivable stretches.  C.J. Prosise is going to be healthy, but never in there when he’s most valuable (in 3rd downs and 2-minute offenses).  And, most importantly, the team is going to continue to slow down the pace of the offense, making it so it takes an entire half of football or more before Wilson gets comfortable and in the flow of the game.

It’s the same garbage fucking offense we had under Bevell, with a fresh coat of stupid slapped on there by way of Brian Schottenheimer’s play-calling (or Pete Carroll’s hormonal instincts, take your pick, depending on what you believe is actually going on).

The Reasons Why The Seahawks Will Win On Sunday

For what it’s worth, this is probably closer to what I actually believe, so spoiler alert.

This was never going to be an overnight fix.  What am I talking about?  Well, take your pick.

The offensive line was always going to need time to gel.  D.J. Fluker might be back this week, though it now looks like Britt is going to miss some time.  I think, in the grand scheme of things, it’s more important to gain Fluker’s mass than it is losing Britt’s … whatever he brought to the table.  Leadership, I guess.  I just think any sap can be a center.  The quarterback can always assist in line reads and pointing out blitzes and whatnot.  From strictly a talent standpoint, I don’t think there will be much of a difference between Hunt and Britt.  The dropoff from Fluker to Sweezy is much more significant, so getting our starter back would be HUGE.

Even though I don’t think the running back rotation will be any different, I think as time goes on, this O-Line will continue to improve.  Furthermore, the coaches have had 2 weeks to figure out what’s working and what’s not.  I HAVE to believe they’re going to work some fixes into the offensive play-calling to get this thing going.  It won’t be perfect, but it should be significantly better than it was the first two weeks.  Being in our temperate climate, without the significant crowd noise we had to endure on the road, should only assist in making sure plays are called timely and correctly.

As always, it’s going to be entirely dependant upon the offense to win this game.  I think the defense will be fine.  Sometimes, the Cowboys will drive the ball with ease; sometimes we’ll be able to stop them.  They’ll probably score in the low-to-mid 20’s; so it’s a matter of the Seahawks scoring in the mid-to-high 20’s to win it.

I think we can do that, because I don’t think the Cowboys are nearly as formidable in their pass rush as the Bears or Broncos.  If I had to point to one reason why the Seahawks will win this game, it’s that the Cowboys don’t have a Von Miller or a Khalil Mack.  That’s it!  That’s good for probably a Seahawks win by 3 points.

Where it could all go haywire is:  what if it doesn’t matter?

What if the Cowboys are just sort of average as a pass rushing unit, but they get home and make Russell Wilson’s life miserable anyway?  I can’t even begin to tell you how much I’m dreading next week if that’s the case.  The last thing I need in my life is more consternation about Wilson and the offensive line.

Anyway, I’m picking the Seahawks, but I’m not thrilled about it.  In fact, an overwhelming sense of dread and panic just set in as I typed out those words.  Visions of Wilson crawling around on the turf trying to collect the football he just had ripped out of his hands, combined with various Cowboys slicing and dicing through our Swiss cheese defense.

I CAN’T DO IT!  I’m picking the Cowboys.  As I’m usually wrong about most things, what’s really going to happen isn’t a 27-24 Seahawks victory, or a 24-16 Cowboys victory, but probably a 38-13 Cowboys victory, where the whole city just melts down.  Wilson will have multiple turnovers, Janikowski will miss a field goal and an extra point, the defense will give up a bevy of long plays, Elliott will run for 170 yards, and our punter will dislocate a shoulder trying to make a tackle.

Just the worst case scenario, all across the board.  And the calls to blow the whole thing up will only intensify.

Not Winners & Losers Of The Seahawks’ Game At Denver

We’re running it back for the regular season!  No winners or losers here!  Just some shit about this game off the top of my head!

The Seahawks went into Denver yesterday, took a short-lived 7-0 lead, lost it through most of the rest of the game, then took a short-lived 24-20 lead in the fourth quarter, before losing 27-24.  We had so many chances in the end to come back to either tie or win it, but the offense stumbled and that was that.  The Seahawks are 0-1 after one game, and absolutely ARE who we thought they were.

What I’m Geeked Out About After One Game

This is the part where I talk about the small handful of things I really loved about the game we just watched.  And, while it’s already starting to get old to a lot of people, how can you not be absolutely raving about Michael Dickson?!

6 punts for a 59-yard average, and I believe Hawkblogger said a 57.5 yard net?  That is IN-sane.  I mean, honestly, I know it sucks when the Seahawks’ offense sucks, but I love to watch that guy walk away (after watching him boom a football 70 yards through the air) or something.

I’m also pretty geeked out about Uncle Will’s 105 yards on 3 catches with a TD.  Because how could you NOT be?  That dude is a villain!  BLAP BLAP BLAP BLAP BLAP!

Other Things That Caught My Eye (In A Good Way)

I think we’re all in agreement that Rashaad Penny is a first round bust and a wasted draft pick at this point, right?  We’re all in agreement?  Oh, we’re not?  Well, at least we can all agree that, at this time, Chris Carson is the unquestioned best running back on this team, and absolutely should NOT be on an even timeshare with Penny, and not just because it will cripple my fantasy team if he isn’t the bellcow I expected him to be!

Carson is explosive, he’s good in between the tackles, he’s good in the open field, he runs through guys, he jumps OVER guys, he catches the ball pretty well.  He does everything you want out of an All Pro running back, so just lean on him!

I’ll also say that Tyler Lockett and Brandon Marshall both caught my eye (in a good way) with their TDs, particularly that sweet long bomb to Lockett for 51 yards.

Also, it was around this time a week ago where we could’ve made the argument that the Seahawks had the very worst safety situation in all of football.  Then, Earl Thomas returned, and balance was restored to The Force or some shit.  One pick by E.T., TWO picks by Bradley McDougald, as these three turnovers really kept the Seahawks in the game when things looked like Denver might run away with it.  I still believe the Seahawks should’ve traded Thomas for whatever they could get, but damn is it nice to see him out there again!

Let’s Talk About Competitions

This section feels more appropriate for the pre-season, but on this team I feel like competition is going to be ongoing.

For instance, yes Shaquem Griffin got the start in place of K.J. Wright, but don’t Wally Pipp the veteran just yet, because Griffin regularly saw his ass pulled from the game for various miscues.  Missed tackles, poor angles, lack of contain … all HUGE no-no’s in Pete Carroll’s book.  Austin Calitro saw playing time in his place and looked marginally better, but I’m going out on a limb and saying I can’t wait for K.J. to come back.  I have enough concerns about this defense as it is, I don’t want to have to think about the play of the linebackers!

Also, Tre Flowers got the start opposite Shaquill Griffin, as what’s his name got put on IR this week.  Flowers played almost all defensive snaps and honestly didn’t look great.  But, then again, no one in the cornerback room should be applauding themselves, because Case Keenum was able to complete 25/39 for 329, an 8.4 yard average.  I mean, if Keenum is going to do that to us, what’s going to happen when we get to the Rams, the Lions, the Packers, the Vikings, and so on and so forth?  Those QBs are going to eat us alive!  Can Akeem King really be THAT bad?  I think we need to really ramp up this cornerback competition and see what we’ve got there, because I just don’t know if Flowers is going to have what it takes to hack it long term.  Feels like too much too soon for him right now.

Other Things That Caught My Eye (In A Bad Way)

I hope this doesn’t get lost in the shuffle of everyone’s discontent about this team (I know the fans won’t be able to let it go), but Sebastian Janikowski had two chances at a field goal near the end of the first half and missed them both (one five yards closer than the other).  On a day when the Broncos’ kicker made both of his 50+ yarders, when you figure it was a sunny day in the Mile High City, SeaBass really shouldn’t have an issue.  That’s a missed 3 points in a 3-point loss, so, you know, do the math.

I still can’t say enough how unimpressed I was with Penny.  I see none of the things in him that I do in Carson.  No burst, no power, he runs out of bounds instead of through guys.  Hell, even in the red zone, it didn’t feel like he had that killer instinct to get into the endzone that Shaun Alexander had (his most popular comp).  I know he’s working his way back from an injury (which saw him balloon up in weight even though it was just a broken finger!), but it also looks like he doesn’t totally know what he’s doing yet.  Maybe he should be strictly this team’s #2 or even #3 back for a while, until he gets his bearings.

Also, where was Prosise?  If you’re only going to start 3 running backs, and he’s your third, then why wasn’t he out there on third downs or at the ends of halves?  Isn’t that his specialty?

And, I’m sorry, but Naz Jones was a healthy scratch?  This team had ONE sack against the Broncos, and very little pressure on top of it.  That was our #1 concern heading into this season, and it absolutely looks like it’s a valid one.  Frank Clark got his, which is fine, but for the most part Keenum had all day to throw.  Seems like Naz Jones could’ve helped, since he seems to be one of the better interior pressure generators.  I wonder if this is a punishment thing for something we’ll never hear about?  I dunno; I just want to see Jones out there next week, and every week going forward, barring injury.

Most people are killing Germain Ifedi, and I’ll second that notion, but you’re just BEGGING for trouble when you leave him one-on-one with Von Miller.  There should’ve been a tight end on that side of the line every single fucking play, to at least chip if not outright double-team that monster.  That’s on the coaches more than anything.

I’ll close on Russell Wilson, who really wasn’t good.  That end-of-game interception was pretty meaningless, but the other one wasn’t.  Neither were all the sacks he took, as he spun backwards and ended up losing 56 total yards of field position.  That’s UNACCEPTABLE!  On a day where we saw very little of his magic, he can’t get away with that type of shit.  He’s not as fast as he used to be, he’s not getting away from these young studs, who keep getting quicker and quicker with each passing year, while Russell Wilson just gets older and older.

Seahawks Death Week: A Wishlist For 2016

OK, so I’m not Joe Salary Cap Guy over here, so a lot of this stuff is going to be pretty general, based off of numbers I’m pulling from Over The Cap.  Anecdotally, the 2016 salary cap figures to be closer to $154 million, so that’s the number I’m going to play with when discussing the Seahawks.

Per Over The Cap, including all Dead Money, the Seahawks have $123 million already on the books for 2016, leaving around $31 million to play with.  This is a pretty decent amount of money, but as we looked into yesterday, there are a lot of contracts coming off the books, and a lot of decisions to make regarding our own free agents.  If we just take, for example, a few core starters who are free agents:  Okung, Sweezy, Kearse, Mebane, Irvin, Rubin, and Lane, you could see that $31 million disappear pretty damn quick.

Okung was already a high salary guy to begin with, earning around $8 million a year; in spite of his injury concerns, he’s proven to be a pretty talented left tackle in a league DESPERATE for left tackles.  He’s also got a pretty good amount of leverage against the Seahawks because he’s easily the best offensive lineman on this roster, and with the Seahawks drafting in the mid-20s, it’s not likely there will be a left tackle in the draft who’s as capable, who would fall to them.  So, the Seahawks would either need to meet his demands, or probably risk losing him to another team.  Believe you me, there ARE teams out there who will drive up the bidding for a guy like Okung.  There are LOTS of teams in the NFL with offensive line issues, and a short supply of proven left tackles.  So, if you were thinking the Seahawks would force Okung into less money because of all his maladies, think again.

At this point, I’d let Okung walk, and I’ll tell you why.  I think Garry Gilliam is a more natural left tackle than he is a right tackle.  He may not be Walter Jones either, but at this point, with the way we run our offense, and ESPECIALLY with the way other teams try to defend Russell Wilson, I think our primary objective for 2016 needs to be boosting our talent level at the interior spots of the line.  Call it the Aaron Donald Conundrum.  When Russell Wilson struggles most is when he’s got interior linemen pushing the pocket straight back into him (or, of course, when guys just flat out run past Justin Britt without him even touching them).  I would MUCH rather have three beasts at the guard & center positions, while sacrificing a little bit at our tackle spots, than the other way around.  Why?  Because more and more, teams are looking to keep Wilson in the pocket.  So, their outside rushers aren’t doing much more than trying to contain Wilson and prevent him from spinning outside the pocket and making plays with his legs out in space.  If they’re going to just give us a pocket to play with, then why not take advantage of that by making damn sure our interior linemen don’t continually fuck it up by allowing pressure straight up the middle every God damn other play?!  He’s not Peyton Manning.  This isn’t the movie The Blind Side.  The left tackle is kind of overrated in this type of offense, with this type of mobile quarterback.  And, as we’ve talked about a lot these last couple months, as Wilson improves as a pocket passer, he’s going to be running less as a result.

So, my first wish:  let Okung walk, spend the money we’re saving on interior linemen.

Next on the list of core starting free agents:  J.R. Sweezy.  He’s a 4-year starter and has held up pretty well for the most part.  No injury concerns here.  He’s generally better than he gets credit for, but he’s also not without his faults.  He was a net asset for this team because he was a 7th round pick, so he was earning next to nothing.  Only in 2015 did he FINALLY get over the million dollar hump in salary, at $1.5 million, so obviously he’s due for a pretty significant raise (respective to what he’d been earning, of course).  Again, I’m not Joe Salary Cap Guy, so I don’t necessarily have a good idea of what a guy like him would be worth on the open market, and I’m really grasping at straws when I throw out numbers.  I’d say YES to bringing him back, with the caveat that it’s under a reasonable deal.  What’s reasonable?  Again, I have no idea.  $4-$5 million per year?  That feels right, but what do I know?  I’ll say this:  it would probably be foolish to blow up the entire offensive line; I don’t think you can find 4 other guys to come in here and dominate for you, without spending your entire cap space and/or trading away a bunch of draft picks.  For the right price, Sweezy is worth keeping around.  He knows the system, so if nothing else, he’d be an asset if the team moves on from Okung and moves Gilliam to the other side.

Second wish:  bring Sweezy back on a friendly deal.

Let’s stick with the O-Line theme, since it’s the biggest issue facing this team in 2016.  We need a new left guard, full stop.  Justin Britt isn’t the man for the job.  In an ideal world, the second coming of Steve Hutchinson will be out there as an unrestricted free agent for us to poach away from some unsuspecting team, but I don’t know who all the other free agents are.  Obviously, you like building through the draft, but that doesn’t happen until the last week of April, and probably all the good free agents will be gone by then.  Nevertheless, I’m prepared to spend whatever it takes:  $8 million per year or more, if there’s an absolute superstar out there, to really lock down this spot.

Third wish:  superstar free agent left guard.

Fourth wish:  failing that, draft a superstar-in-waiting with our first round draft pick.

At center, I’m content to go with Patrick Lewis for another year.  I can’t imagine his stock is all that high, and even so, he’s a restricted free agent, so odds are we’ll at least get him back on a 1-year deal.  As I mentioned in a prior post this week, let’s bring Lewis back, make him our starter from Day 1 (assuming, of course, that he comes into camp healthy and in shape), but at the same time, draft the center of the future in one of the first four rounds (I hear this is a great draft class for centers, so we could be in good shape waiting a few rounds if need be).

Fifth wish:  bring back Lewis on a 1-year deal, draft our center of the future & have him learn under Lewis.

At right tackle, if we’re moving Gilliam over to left, then I suppose I could be okay with moving Justin Britt back over to right, and having him compete with whoever.  Low-end draft pick, guys on the practice squad, whatever.  Again, I’m not too picky on who our tackles are, as long as we shore up the interior.

Sixth wish:  Britt or whoever at right tackle; no need to work too hard to replace this spot.

***

With the O-Line set, let’s look at the rest of the offense.  The biggest story, from a national perspective, is obviously:  will Marshawn Lynch be back?  I’m sure I’ll have more to say on this subject, as it’ll be a sad day when he’s finally out of here, but for now the question isn’t “will Marshawn Lynch be back”, but rather “WHEN will Marshawn Lynch be GONE?”

His release pushes $5 million into our Dead Money column, but as he was going to count $11.5 million against our cap, that’s a net savings of $6.5 million (if the Seahawks cut him after June 1st, which for the record, I doubt they’d do, we’d be able to spread that $5 million in dead money over the 2016 and 2017 seasons, meaning we’d have an extra $2.5 million – or $9 million total – to play around with for 2016 … something to keep in mind with him or any potential cuts).  Let’s just say, we decide to pay homage to all the great service he’s done for us while in a Seahawks uniform, and we cut him sooner rather than later, to give him the biggest opportunity to maximize his contract with another team; that still gives us the $6.5 million I mentioned, pushing our over all cap room up to around $37.5 million or so.  That’s not nothing.

While we’re talking about potential roster cuts, I’d just like to put my two cents in that I believe Lynch will be the only major casualty.  Of our big money contracts in 2016 (besides Lynch), we’re looking at Wilson, Sherm, Earl, Graham, Bennett, Avril, Wright, Kam, Bobby, and Doug.  In other words, our core guys.  If you really wanted to grasp at straws, you could look at Graham and Kam.  Graham is coming off of an injury, and poses no Dead Money issues if we let him go, so he’d save us a cool $9 million.  But, I just don’t see it.  We only had slightly more than half a season with him, he seemed to be getting more and more comfortable with the offense as the season progressed, and assuming he makes a full recovery, he’s still one of the best weapons we have and one of the top tight ends in the league.  The only way I see us dropping Graham is if there’s another free agent receiver out there we want to try to overpay for, but I kinda doubt that’s going to happen.

As for Kam, the only way I see us cutting him is if we don’t want to deal with the potential headache of him holding out again, and/or he demands too much money in re-working his deal.  For what it’s worth, I think the team will try to do a little something to juice his deal (maybe a million or two), but I could just as easily see the team dropping the hammer.  Letting Kam go would free up $4.1 million, which is nice, but if it were up to me, I’d rather have Bam Bam back and happy again.

So, getting back to Lynch, with him gone we’re looking at $37.5 million in free money, some of which would ideally go towards re-signing Sweezy and bringing in a stud free agent left guard (among many other moves).

That leaves us with Thomas Rawls and his penny contract starting for us at running back.  I wouldn’t mind the Seahawks using one of their later-round picks on a 3rd down, shifty scat-back in the Darren Sproles mold to pair with him.  As for our #2 running back, I think it’d be awfully cool to bring Christine Michael back and let him get those old Robert Turbin carries (or, shit, if Turbin’s a free agent, maybe we look into bringing him back on a low-end deal, although I think that’s highly unlikely).

Seventh wish:  cut Lynch (frowny face), make Rawls the starter, draft the next Sproles, re-sign Michael to be the #2.

At receiver, we’ve got Doug Baldwin going into the last year of his deal.  I would be SUPER stoked if the Seahawks took this opportunity to lock him up to a long-term deal.  His last deal was 3 years, $13 million, which I felt was great, but obviously he’s due a raise.  Co-leading the league in touchdown receptions will automatically raise your stock (weird!).  If I had to guess, I’d put him in the range of $6+ million per year, but under $8 million, or the Eric Decker range ($7.25 million per year).  MAYBE you talk Baldwin into a bit of a discount, as he’s still got a year left under his current deal (set to earn $4 million in base salary), but I’d venture a guess that he gets Decker money regardless.

Eighth wish:  extend Doug Baldwin for another 4-5 years.

Beyond that, we’re in good shape with cheap deals on Paul Richardson, Tyler Lockett, Kevin Smith, and Kasen Williams.  The only other decision is:  do we re-sign Jermaine Kearse?  Oddly enough, a good comp for him is that time we re-signed Doug Baldwin.  Would you pay 3 years, $13 million for more Kearse?  I think I would.

Ninth wish:  bring back Kearse on a smallish deal.

No need to do anything fancy with the tight ends.  Keep Graham, Willson, and whoever as our third guy.

***

Now, let’s look at the defense.  Recall, the major defensive free agents are Mebane, Rubin, Irvin, and Lane.  Mebane has made a healthy $4-$5.5 million per year over the last few years.  While his 2014 was cut short by injury, he played in every game in 2015, and showed no signs of slowing down (albeit to my semi-untrained eye).  He’s 31 years old, so odds are we’re not talking about a long term deal.  I’d be okay with something in the range of 2 years and $10 million, with maybe a $5 million base salary in 2016 and a $2 million signing bonus (something like that, where his cap hit reduces as we go forward, in hopes of keeping him until he decides to retire).  Rubin, meanwhile, is coming off of a year that saw him count less than $3 million against our cap, so he’ll be due a raise.  How big remains to be seen.  All the talk that I’ve heard is that we can’t afford to bring them both back, so if I can only have one, I choose Bane.

Tenth wish:  re-sign Mebane, let Rubin go, replace Rubin with another cheap free agent, draft another run-stuffing defensive tackle in the early or middle rounds.

Next up is Bruce Irvin, and I honestly have no idea.  He accounted for a little over $9 million total over the four years of his contract as a first round draft pick in the new CBA era.  Given his production, he’s due a big, fat raise too.  I couldn’t even begin to tell you what a guy like him earns on the open market.  He’s not Von Miller (yet), so you’d be hard pressed to see him get top-of-the-line money.  Nevertheless, pass rusher is a premium position in this league, and he’s accounted for 22 sacks over 4 years.  But, he had 8 sacks in his rookie year, when he was exclusively a pass-rushing defensive end.  Obviously, his skill set limits him in run defense, which limits his overall value, but it’s only natural to look at those 8 sacks in somewhat limited duty as a rookie, and start to drool at the potential of him as an every-down pass rusher.  I’m generally in favor of keeping Irvin, as I’ve said repeatedly, I think his best days as a pass rusher are still in front of him, but I’m not in favor of keeping him at any price.  Not when we’re paying Bobby Wagner among the top middle linebackers in the game, while at the same time paying K.J. Wright a good chunk of change too (he’ll be accounting for over $6 million in cap space going forward for the next three seasons).

Eleventh wish:  re-sign Irvin, at a somewhat cost-effective price.  Otherwise, replace him with someone like Mike Morgan, or a draft pick.

Then, there’s Jeremy Lane.  So, let’s take this opportunity to talk about the secondary in general.  We’ve got most of it locked down in Sherm, Earl, and Kam.  Obviously, if the team parts with Kam (who didn’t do himself or the team any favors with his semi-down year in 2015; I can’t imagine his trade value has gone up all that much, if the team felt that to be an option), we need to replace him.  Is that Kelcie McCray?  Probably, but I’d also look to draft at that position just in case.  As for Lane, I think he’ll be looking for starter’s money.  And, to be quite honest, I think he’s earned it.  That injury in the Super Bowl was the flukiest thing I’ve ever heard of.  I mean, how do you do so much damage to so many body parts all on the same play?  The fact that he recovered, returned in 2015, and played as well as he did, shows that he’s capable and ready to be an everyday player.  Hopefully, what the Seahawks have figured out – in the wake of the Cary Williams debacle – is that we CAN’T just bring in any guy from the street and expect him to play like the Legion of Boom.  Speaking of the devil, Williams signed a 3-year, $18 million deal to come to Seattle, with $7 million guaranteed ($3.5 million as a signing bonus, $3.5 million in base salary in 2015).  Of our current dead money, he’s the primary reason for what we’re dealing with in 2016.  Would 3 years and $18 million be enough to retain Jeremy Lane?  Probably not.  But, he’s also not going to command 4 years and $56 million like what Richard Sherman got; he’s obviously somewhere in the middle.  What about 4 years and $30 million?  Is Jeremy Lane worth $7.5 million per year?

I’m KINDA leaning towards Yes on this one.  Let’s look at it this way:  we don’t want another Cary Williams situation, so pretty much eliminate any big name (or semi-big name) on the free agent market.  But, if Lane walks, we’re tangling with another pretty big hole in our secondary for the second straight year.  We can assume DeShawn Shead returns, and would be the likely starter opposite Sherman, but then you gotta take a look at who’s behind Shead.  Tharold Simon is an interesting name.  He’s going into the final season of his rookie deal.  Obviously, you like that, because you know he’s going to be super motivated.  But, he’s proven in his first three years in the league, that he absolutely cannot stay healthy, at all.  IDEALLY, if the team opts to let Lane walk, you’d start Shead, but then bump Shead inside to the slot receiver and have Simon play outside when we’re in our nickel defense.  In this world, you have to feel pretty confident in Simon’s ability – when healthy – to give us the type of production we’ve come to expect out of the Legion of Boom.

When you go from there to look at our backups, you’re talking about guys like Burley, Terrell, and Seisay, who are all restricted free agents, and who all will most likely be back (at least through training camp and the pre-season).  But, none of them are all that impressive, and none of them project to be starters.  Then, there’s our rookie from 2015, Tye Smith, who the Seahawks managed to stash on the 53-man roster for the full year (because we didn’t want to risk losing him by putting him on the practice squad), but who essentially red shirted as a professional.  So, obviously, the team likes him A LOT.  I mean, to not even put him on the IR feels like a pretty rare thing for a championship-calibre team like the Seahawks, with as many issues as we had with injuries this season (at times, just BARELY filling out our 46-man gameday roster with healthy guys).  Tye Smith figures to be a slot corner (with his size, at 6’0), but if he’s as talented as I think he MIGHT be, the sky could be the limit for him.  It’s still unrealistic to see him starting in Game 1 of the 2016 season.  But, if he pans out, that mitigates the damage of letting Jeremy Lane go.  It also helps us going forward, if we happen to lose Shead and/or Simon going into the 2017 season.

BUT, if the Seahawks can find it in their budget to re-sign Lane (even at the seemingly excessive deal of $30 million over 4 years), just imagine what that does for us, depth-wise.  We’d have the greatest collection of secondary depth since the 2013 season, for starters.  Sherm, Lane, and Shead are all starting-quality players.  Simon is too, when healthy, and if Tye pans out, you’re talking about five guys we can throw out there at any given point (giving us plenty of wiggle room for when Simon inevitably has to sit out).

So, I’m going to make my twelfth (!) wish:  re-sign Jeremy Lane for a deal that’s considerably more than Cary Williams’, but considerably less than what Byron Maxwell got from the fuckin’ Eagles.

The cool thing about this Seahawks team is that it feels more set than ever, so there’s no need to do a lot of crazy things in free agency or trades.  Our biggest need is offensive line, so a high-priced free agent at guard should be our top priority.  Beyond that, it’s a matter of paying our own guys who deserve to return (Lane, Mebane, Kearse, Sweezy, maybe Irvin), letting the guys go who probably don’t deserve huge salaries (Okung, Lynch, Rubin, maybe Irvin), and locking down Baldwin a year early to make him a Seahawk for life.  Again, to reiterate my wishlist:

  1. Let Okung go, move Gilliam to left tackle
  2. Bring back Sweezy
  3. Sign a stud free agent left guard
  4. Or, draft a stud left guard with the first round pick (or, shit, why not both?)
  5. Bring back Lewis, while also drafting a center of the future in the middle rounds
  6. Move Britt back to right tackle, make him compete with other cheap guys
  7. Cut Lynch, make Rawls the starter, bring back Michael for #2, draft a quick, pass-catching 3rd down back
  8. Extend Doug Baldwin on a 4-5 year deal
  9. Re-sign Kearse to a 3-year, $13 million deal
  10. Re-sign Mebane, let Rubin go, replace him with another cheap DT, draft a DT in the early-to-middle rounds
  11. Re-sign Irvin for a reasonable amount, or don’t and spread his savings elsewhere
  12. Re-sign Lane, 4 years, $30 million-ish range

I don’t know if all of this is possible, under salary cap structures in place, so feel free to pick it apart all you want.  While you’re at it, pick apart all my other hare-brained ideas, what do I care?

The Seahawks Have A Very Important Game Against The Broncos This Weekend

This is the part where I’m supposed to tell you that I’m nervous.  That I’m worried about this weekend’s game and the possibility of the Seahawks losing said game.  This is the part where I concoct a scenario where the other team could plausibly wrench victory from the jaws of defeat.

Except, this isn’t just an ordinary game preview post where I’m trying to fill a self-imposed word-quota (more than 300, less than 30,000).  I can ACTUALLY see a way the Broncos could defeat the Seahawks.  The answer, more or less, lies in last week’s game in San Diego.

The Seahawks lost to the Chargers.  Why did they lose?  Because we faced an All Pro-type quarterback having one of the better games of his career.  Because while we mitigated their explosive plays over our heads, we still had a helluva time getting off the field on third down.  Because we made mistake after mistake on defense and an old, veteran, Hall of Fame tight end took advantage of our aggressiveness and made us pay.

Well, the Broncos have an All Pro-type quarterback.  The Broncos are generally pretty good at converting third downs.  And, rather than having an old, veteran, Hall of Fame tight end; they’ve got a young, explosive, potential FUTURE Hall of Fame tight end.  On top of a lot of other great players, and a VASTLY improved defense compared to the one we saw in the Super Bowl.

Oh yeah, that.  The Broncos also have an entire offseason where they heard nothing but praise about how dominating the Seahawks are.  How the Seahawks might be the next dynasty.  How the Seahawks’ defense is among the greats like the 60s Vikings, 70s Steelers, the 85 Bears, and the 2000 Ravens.  How the Broncos wilted, were afraid, GAVE UP in what was – for the non-Peyton Manning members of the team – the most important game of their lives.

Think about that.  This is no longer a rivalry like it was in the 80s and 90s (though, try telling that to John Elway, current GM and Vice President), but just imagine if our situations were reversed.  The Seahawks got plastered in the Super Bowl, while everyone in the world thought we were the better team and should have won easily.  Imagine all these months, listening to various Broncos players on First Take or Jim Rome or whathaveyou, flapping their gums about how they knew what plays we were going to run.  About how our receivers couldn’t handle running crossing patterns in the vicinity of whoever their strong safety is.  Wouldn’t you be a little salty?  Wouldn’t you expect your local columnists to write ham-fisted articles about how much more improved we are this year?  About how tired we are of hearing all their talk?

Yes, we’ll always have the Super Bowl.  No one can take that away from us.  But, it’s a new season.  No sense in living in the past, even if it only happened seven-or-so months ago.

Talent, motivation, health:  the Broncos have it all going for them this week.  One could argue that the Seahawks have all that going for them too, and on top of that, we’ve got home field advantage.

A little something about that.  For starters, I don’t necessarily think the 12th Man has the type of power it once had.  There’s no element of surprise anymore.  EVERYONE is aware of how loud it is up here in Seattle.  It’s been showcased on countless national broadcasts; we’re not catching anyone off guard anymore.  No one is taking the noise lightly anymore.  They’re preparing for it and overcoming it.  Yes, the noise is nice, and I’m sure opposing teams don’t like going on silent counts, but these are professionals we’re talking about.  This isn’t some Pee Wee Football League team playing in front of thousands of screaming fans for the first time.  PLUS, this is an afternoon game.  Even if I’m being overly dismissive of the 12th Man’s effect on a game, everyone HAS to admit that it’s just not the same compared to nationally-televised night games.  For one thing, the Twelves haven’t had as much time to get sauced!  Take it from someone who could turn Pro in weekend warrioring:  those extra 3-4 hours of beer chugging make all the difference between a little snooty intoxication and outright belligerent jack-assery.

In short, you can’t dismiss the home field advantage straight away, but let’s stop building it up to be something it’s not.  We have seven more regular season home games; every God damn one of them will be played in the afternoon.  After the first series or two, the crowd settles into a predictable routine and the opposing offense settles into a potent weapon capable of knifing through the noise.  Once the initial surge is overcome, the home field advantage goes away and it’s all up to the players on the field (if you don’t believe me, go back and look at that Arizona game last season).

As for the players on the field, you know who they are.  The Broncos are pretty much the same team on offense as they were last year (swap Decker for Sanders and Moreno for Ball).  On defense, their stars are healthy, and their new players are impactful.  DeMarcus Ware and Aqib Talib are the obvious new additions and they are still playing at the peak of their abilities.  Factor in Von Miller back to full health, and Terrance Knighton clogging up the middle, and it certainly won’t be as easy to move the ball up and down the field, regardless of our pumped up offensive weapons.

What can I say about this game?  Either we’ll find a way to stop them with some regularity on third down, or we won’t.  Either the game will be close, or it won’t.  Either we’ll win, or we won’t.  I’d like to think our defense will look better than it did against San Diego.  It won’t be as hot, for starters.  Peyton Manning isn’t as mobile as Philip Rivers.  We’re a little more familiar with their offensive scheme, since we spent the better part of two weeks prior to the Super Bowl studying their tendencies.  And, we HAVE to be a little salty ourselves, considering we gave up a 30-spot for the first time since October of last year when we lost to the Colts.

In closing, I’ll talk about why this game is so important.  There are a couple of obvious, conflicting points at play here.  On the one hand, if we want to get home field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs, we probably can’t afford to lose more than three games.  Losing to the Broncos here would drop us to 1-2 already, with most of a full season left to go (not to mention, we’d be 1-2 going into a BYE week, which means starting in October, it’ll be 13 straight weeks of games with little respite).  On the other hand, like the Chargers, the Broncos are in the AFC.  If you’re going to lose two games, they might as well be to teams in the opposite conference, as that still leaves all of your key tie-breakers in play (with you in control of your own destiny).  I already discussed the following 8-game stretch of cream-puffs on our schedule.  Yeah, we could be 1-2 after this Sunday’s contest, but we could also be 9-2 going into our Thanksgiving battle royale with the 49ers.

But, here’s something that only recently occurred to me.  If we lose this game, we will have lost two games against good-to-great opponents.  And, if Green Bay isn’t necessarily the world-beater we all thought they’d be, then you have to ask:  are the Seahawks as good as they were last year (when we managed to beat three good, playoff teams in the regular season)?  What does it mean if a team only pounds on the bad teams, but loses heartbreakers to the good ones?  I know it’s early for all of this type of talk (and essentially meaningless, considering the NFL doesn’t care about the types of teams you beat like they do in college), but it’s a psychological component that nobody’s talking about.

How do you know you’re good?  When you beat other good teams.  What do you call a team that has a good record, but hasn’t beaten anyone of note?  The 2013 Kansas City Chiefs.

Are we the 2013 Kansas City Chiefs?  Or, are we going to kick Denver’s shit in on Sunday?!

Look, I have us winning this game, but I’m going to tell you right now, it’s ONLY because I’m a huge homer.  If I were a fan of literally any other team, I’d be making the Broncos my Upset Special.  I still think the Seahawks are more or less going through the motions.  I still think there’s a lot of talk going around about how the Seahawks are “taking this week seriously” and putting in the type of practice required to win a big game at home.  But, I honestly feel that’s a lot of bullshit and Denver is going to come in here and move the ball around with ease and escape with a comfortable victory.  Peyton Manning isn’t the be-all, end-all of quarterbacks, but I’ll tell you this much:  I don’t like playing his teams this early in the season.  I like playing his teams when it’s cold and the weather is shitty and the pressure of the moment overwhelms his robot brain.

I like playing his teams when the NFL hasn’t spent the entire offseason catering to his every want and need by increasing the emphasis on defensive holding and illegal contact in the secondary.

When you factor in the Mariners playing the series of their lives down in Houston – against pitchers who have generally crushed our feeble lineup – I can see this being a REAL bad weekend for the professional teams of Seattle.  Somebody hold me; I need a hug.

Who You Need To Watch Out For On The Denver Broncos

Look, we all know the stars of the Broncos offense.  It goes without saying that they’re great.  But, that’s not really what I find interesting right now.  So, instead, I’m going to start with Denver’s defense.

If you’re worried about the Seahawks scoring on offense, don’t be.  We’re going to get ours.  This defense is not very good.  Nevertheless, they’ve got some good pieces out there that we should be aware of.

The Broncos are actually tied with the Seahawks in rush defense, at 101.6 yards per game.  Of course, it’s easy to sort of dismiss them as a defense that’s always playing with a significant lead, and therefore is seeing the other team pass more than they run.  But, the Broncos are up there on yards per attempt too (in the top 10, as is Seattle), so consider them legitimately good at holding off the run.

Just as the Seahawks’ defense poses a challenge to Denver’s biggest offensive strength (passing), Denver’s defense does the same thing to Seattle’s biggest offensive strength (rushing).

Players like Terrance Knighton are getting a lot of press right now, for good reason.  He’s their big, beefy defensive tackle (wears #94) who clogs up the middle, making it nearly impossible to run up the gut.  He’s flanked by guys on that line who, I’m sure, are solid if unspectacular.  You don’t really need to be all that amazing when you’ve got someone like Knighton in the middle.

In the linebacking corps, I really like Danny Trevathan (#59), but I’ve read conflicting reports saying that he’s overrated and not very good.  I’m reading into that that he makes a lot of aggressive mistakes.  He may flash and sizzle on one play, then totally bungle his assignment the next.

You can say that’s a trend for these Broncos.  Duke Ihenacho (#33) is their safety.  He’s a hard hitter, but he’s not very smart, and will fall for the play-action fake like nobody I’ve ever seen.  There are chunk yardage plays available in this game, and Ihenacho is a big reason why.

With Von Miller out, I’m not super-worried about Denver’s pass rush.  Shaun Phillips (#90) is a 10-year vet and the only player with double-digit sacks, but he only has 10.0, so it’s not like he’s this dominant force.  I think, without Miller, Phillips is going to see the lion’s share of the attention on the offensive line and will most likely be neutralized.

Miller isn’t the only injury casualty, as Chris Harris – arguably their best cornerback – is also on the IR.  That leaves Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (#45), who is okay but a little overrated, the aging Quentin Jammer (#23) and the even MORE aging Champ Bailey (#24), who at 12 and 15 years of experience respectively, are mere shells of their former selves.

There are passing yards to be had.  If I’m the Seahawks, I’m going right to the play-action pass early and often.  Hopefully, in time, it’ll open up the run for us and let us lean on them late in the game.  Everyone says the best defense against a Peyton Manning-led offense is to control time of possession and keep him off the field.  To Hell with that!  Let them worry about time of possession, we should look to get our points any way we can.  In this game, I contend they will come in the deep passing game.

On offense, what can you say?  Peyton Manning is one of the best quarterbacks of all time.  This year, at age 37, he threw for the most yards and most touchdowns in NFL history for a single season.  He completes over 68% of his passes, which mitigates his arm strength issues.  Being super-accurate in the short and moderate passing game is enough to compensate for not taking as many shots deep down field.

And weapons?  Hoo boy, does he have weapons.  Demaryius Thomas (#88) is one of the top five receivers in football.  Statswise, anyway.  It’s tough to say how much of that is due to the offensive set-up and having Peyton Manning as your quarterback vs., say, Brandon Weeden.  But, either way, he’s a concern. 

Also a concern:  Eric Decker (#87).  This offense tends to spread out the big receiving days pretty evenly, but you could tell that Decker’s production improved immensely as the season wore on (and defenses made Demaryius Thomas their top priority).  Decker actually reminds me of Doug Baldwin quite a bit.  He will catch the deep balls, he will catch those insane sideline passes, and he’s Manning’s security blanket on third down.  You want to stop this Denver offense?  Blanket Decker on third down.

Finally, of course, there’s Wes Welker (#83).  He’s clearly on the downside of his career (you won’t see any more 100-reception seasons out of Welker going forward), and from the looks of things, his numbers diminished greatly over the second half of the season (maybe due to his being used to take too many cheap shots on crossing patterns against helpless defenders?), but he’s still another quality receiver for this team.  He’s also a guy you’ve got to watch on third down, and oddly enough in the red zone.  Welker gets a surprising amount of touchdowns for a guy his size, because he’s so small, he can easily find the open zone in the defense and wiggle his way into the endzone.

Just when you think I’m finished talking about the offensive weapons at Manning’s disposal, I have to remind you of their #1 pass-catching tight end, Julius Thomas (#80).  For fantasy purposes, he’s one of the top five tight ends in the game, and yet another guy you have to be aware of in the red zone.  I like our chances here, because we’ve shut down Jimmy Graham and Vernon Davis – who are at least on-par, talent-wise, with Thomas, if not better than – but that doesn’t mean you can just ignore him, or he’ll kill you.

Before we get to the running game, I should point out that their top running back, Knowshon Moreno (#27) is an elite pass-catcher out of the backfield.  He caught 60 balls for nearly 550 yards, so be aware of the screen pass and the checkdown.  I think, in this game, you’ll see A LOT of checkdowns.  It’s only natural, our secondary is just that good.  So, we need need NEED to make sure we have a linebacker on Moreno at all times.

As far as running the football is concerned, the Broncos are better than you’d expect.  They’re in the top half in the NFL (averaging 117 yards per game), and Manning isn’t afraid to go with a run-heavy game-plan if that’s what the defense is giving him.

Like I said before, Moreno is their lead back.  Like the Seahawks, they will run him out of the shotgun quite a bit.  Once thought to be a bust-in-the-making, Moreno has broken out as one of the more consistent backs in football.  He only averages 4.3 yards per carry, but when you’re talking about a passing game that averages 8.3 yards per attempt, it’s not like you need Adrian Peterson to be effective.  Montee Ball (#28) is their change-of-pace, bruising running back.  He will poach his fair share of touchdowns near the goalline, but this team is not afraid to let Moreno take it to the house from short yardage either.  It seems to be random, at the whim of the head coach, who gets carries and when.

If I’m scared of anything, it’s this running attack.  Peyton Manning will get his yards.  If we can keep him away from getting anywhere near the 400-yard mark, I think we’ll be fine.  But, if this running game picks up yards in healthy chunks and gives Manning a bunch of 2nd & shorts and 3rd and shorts, then it’s going to be a long game.  At that point, we’ll have to hope to hold them to field goals instead of touchdowns.

Speaking of which, Matt Prater, their kicker, is pretty solid.  Of course, he’s better in the thin air of Denver’s used-to-be-Mile High Stadium, but he’s no slouch and can hit it from 50 in any stadium in America.  With the weather being as cold as it is, I wouldn’t expect too many 50-yarders to be attempted (by either team), but if you’re looking for a weakness, the field goal game isn’t it.

Special teams, however, might be another matter.  Denver, for playing half its games in that aforementioned thin air, doesn’t generate as many touchbacks as you’d expect.  And, as stated above, we’re not in Denver anymore; this air will be thick and freezing.  With Percy Harvin expected to be back and healthy (and returning kicks), our return game could be quite the catalyst.  Regardless of whether you believe in “momentum” or not, getting an awesome kick return immediately after the other team scores is quite the let-down for that team.  Look for Denver to frequently be disappointed after they’ve put points on the board.

Anyway, that’s my take on some of the players you should watch out for.  Tomorrow, I’ll take a look at what we can expect from Denver’s offense.