Monday, September 24, 2018

Job Well Done-- Seahawks 24 Cowboys 13

The Seahawks won their 2018 home opener against Dallas by actually adhering to their own philosophy.  They committed to the run, they played stout defense, they protected the ball and forced turnovers.

Like the previous two games-- Seahawks found themselves up against another fierce defensive front. Dallas came into this game as one of the top rated defenses in the league, which could've very easily discouraged the Seahawks from running the football, but it didn't.

Chris Carson carried the rock an impressive 32 times yesterday.  He became the first Seahawk running back since Marshawn Lynch to rush for 100 yards in a game.  Everyone of Carson's 102 yards were hard fought.

More impressively, he earned those yards behind a patchwork offensive line.  Seattle was without their starting center and left guard. DJ Fluker was back at the right guard spot, but Sweezy filled in for Pocic at left guard and Joey Hunt assumed the duties at center.

Earl Thomas continued his impressive season by adding a pair of interceptions to his stat line.   On the second interception, Thomas ran toward the Cowboy bench before taking a bow, which resulted in a taunting penalty.

Where Earl finishes this season remains to be seen, but it's hard to view anyone other than the Seahawks of the benefactor of this peculiar situation.  They've continued to get excellent production from Thomas in spite of the noise and distractions.  As teams suffer critical losses in their secondaries across the league, you'd have to imagine that his trade value is only rising.

With each performance, the idea of keeping Earl sounds increasingly appetizing. However, it still appears evident to me that the Seahawks have no intentions of resigning to All Pro safety, so I continue to hope for a trade that could net Seattle draft picks that could put this team back into the Super Bowl discussion next season.

It feels great to get back into the win column.  The Seahawks have a reasonably favorable schedule for the next few weeks.  However, there is still a lot of work to do.

Now that the Seahawks have shown that they can establish a ground attack, they need to find ways to get their first round draft pick involved in their offense. Rashaad Penny and Mike Davis will need to see their touches increase going forward-- 32 rushing attempts from Carson is unsustainable.

Someone not named Marshall, Baldwin, Lockett or Dissley will need to emerge as a reliable weapon in the pass game.  That could be David Moore, Keenan Reynolds or maybe even someone not yet on the roster.  As this team awaits the return of it's leading receiver, someone other than Tyler Lockett has to earn the trust of the quarterback.

Hopefully, the Seahawks can find a road pass rush in Arizona next weekend.  It will be by far their least intimidating road environment they will have faced this season and it's possible they'll face rookie Josh Rosen in his very first NFL start. 

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

New Offense, Same Bad Ideas-- Seahawks 17 @ Bears 24

No Doug.  No Bobby.  No DJ. No KJ. 

Everyone was prepared to deal with that-- but no identity?

This team is lost offensively.

Seattle's offense was downright atrocious last night.  The frustrating thing is that it didn't need to be that way.  The Seahawks started the game exactly how they needed-- by pounding the rock with Chris Carson. Even as they picked up that first conversion on the ground, I had a feeling it was only a matter of time before they got antsy and abandoned the ground attack.

"Unfortunately, we wanted to do better in the 3rd quarter." Pete Carroll said in his post game press conference. "I got Shotty (Offensive Coordinator Brian Schottenhiemer) to take a couple shots and look at a couple of things and it got them out of rhythm a little bit."

"It was my fault." Carroll added.  "I got them trying a little bit too hard, take a couple shots to see if we could bounce something back and get back into the game quickly and I shouldn't have done that."

I'm glad the coach was able to confirm my suspicions. 

If, like me, you've watched these first two Seahawks performances and come away feeling like the scheme and play calling do feel improved despite the statistical evidence suggesting otherwise-- this does provide some insight as to why we're feeling this way.

Wilson and Carroll are bringing bad habits from the previous regime into this new offense.

710 ESPN's Mike Salk made a comment in the wake of the loss to Denver that he did experience some De ja Bevell.  I think I've pinpointed what is causing this phenomenon.

Perhaps it's PTSD from the Bevell/Cable era, but in both of these games where Seattle had one-possession deficits with the ball in Wilson's hands late in the game, they've failed. 

The one commonality I've seen between this season and previous years is the sense of panic the play caller demonstrates in the middle quarters of games where they abandon not just the run game, but all sensible fundamental football in general, in favor of praying to God that number 3 can pull a miracle out in a single play.

It doesn't have to be like that.

When pressed about his decision to effectively give up on Chris Carson, Pete said he was gassed from having to play special teams more than expected due to the team's injury woes.  A lame excuse even if that were true, but Carson played less special teams reps last night than he did in the previous game in Denver.

The Seahawks need to have one back, be it Carson or Rashaad Penny, carry the ball 20+ times in a game.  Win or lose, run the fucking football.  They need to establish trust, build rapport and instill some confidence in this offensive line if there is any hope for success down the road with this group.

Seattle has had one of the worst offensive lines in the league for almost half a decade now. Don't you think the constituents of this line are aware of that?  They have social media.  They watch ESPN.  They hear the criticisms loud and clear.

It seems like the past 40 games have seen the Seahawks turn away from the run immediately in favor of Wilson running for his life.  Wilson is among the best at making scrambles into highlight reel plays-- but it's a horrible strategy to base your entire offense around.  Not to mention, it exhausts your linemen and I would imagine, even if those plays net success, there's little feeling of accomplishment from the pass protectors in those situations.

Pete's admitted meddling aside, Seattle lost this game because of, not in spite of, Russell Wilson.

Whatever the reasons may be, he's not getting the job done.  He's holding onto the ball for far too long, giving up sacks, fumbles and putting the team in unmanageable down and distances. Even worse, he's seemed to given up on breaking off big runs on his scrambles, instead opting to pat the ball until someone gets open before pirouetting right into the arms of a defensive pass rusher.

These problems are fixable.  Perhaps that's the most frustrating aspect of our recent struggles-- these problems are completely avoidable.  They can design plays that get the ball out of Wilson's hands in 3 seconds.  It wouldn't kill Russell to throw a pump fake in every now and again, just to keep the safeties honest. I'd like to see them try to convert Keenan Reynolds into a Bobby Engram-type slant receiver that can be relied upon in those 3rd and 5 situations.

But it all starts with committing to running the football.

Running the football wears down defenders.  It builds continuity and confidence in your offensive line.  It opens up the play action pass. Play action opens up the bootleg, where Russell shines.  When you give up on the run, it emboldens defenses. It encourages the pass rush and blitzing.  It works against everything the Seahawks are supposedly trying to accomplish.

The Seahawks are finally coming home this weekend to face Earl Thomas' beloved Cowboys.  If Pete dares to suggest at any point this week that Seattle is 'a run-first team' I hope that he immediately follows it up with 'and I'm going to completely stay out of the management of our offense and let Shotty do his job'.

The patchwork defense did a marvelous job in spite of everything going against them, but this offense still has to carry the load.  Any game that the offense doesn't score a minimum of 4 touchdowns is more than likely going to be a loss this year. 

Monday, September 10, 2018

Sporadic & Erratic-- Seahawks 23 @ Broncos 27

The 2018 new-look Seahawks were expected to experience some growing pains.  This game was sure to test the fortitude of the young roster with KJ Wright recovering from knee treatment and Earl Thomas only joining up with the team a few days ahead of the trip to Denver.  Factor in the high altitude and scorching temperatures-- the Seahawks had their work cut out for them.

Even with all the challenges they were facing, this was a game the Seahawks absolutely should have won.  Alas, they did not.

I'm left with mixed emotions in the wake of the Seahawks opener.  For every issue that had be screaming at my television, I could find another that filled me with hope for the long season ahead. Still, you're only promised 16 games and when you drop one that you could've had, frustration lingers.

For all the struggles the Seahawks had, the one that bothers me the most was the late-game sacks that that Russell Wilson gave up on 3rd and short.  There were at least two in the final moments of the game where Russell inexplicably seemed to be looking down field, well beyond the first down
marker, only to give up a devastating loss of yards.

A veteran QB, no matter how mobile, needs to have the cognition to know where the line to gain is and get the ball out of his hand quickly-- especially against a ferocious pass rush like we saw from Denver's defensive front.

With about 11 minutes left in the game, the Seahawks were down 6 with plenty of time to mount what should have been the game winning drive.  They found themselves in 3rd & 3 on their own 27 yard line. They hadn't ran the ball well enough to even consider handing off to get the yards.  The

Seahawks needed 3 yards.  They ended up losing 13 yards.

It ended up costing them the game.  It was a bad play call and worse decision making from #3. For those of you that were able to still stomach football after this loss and tuned in to the Sunday Night Football game, Aaron Rodgers hosted a clinic on getting the ball out of your hands early to disrupt an aggressive pass rush.

I hope the Seahawks were able to catch that game on the flight home.

Rodgers, on a bum knee, orchestrated a remarkable comeback after having been ruthlessly disrupted by a fierce Chicago defense for the entirety of the first half.  Rodgers returned calmly and picked apart the Bears defense.

Unlike Wilson, he didn't behave as though he had to make up the point disparity on every throw.  Rodgers got the ball out quick and methodically moved the chains. This put the Bears D on their heels, which opened up the run. Eventually, that opened things up for big plays in the passing game.

Sometimes, you have to take what the defense is giving you.  You also have to be mindful of not just your own limitations, but your team's limitations as well.  For years now, this concept seems to have been lost on both Carroll and Wilson. 

I could drone on about this for pages upon pages, especially knowing that we'll be facing those same Bears a week from today, but instead I'll just hit on a few positives and negatives from yesterday's game and then we'll adjust our focus to next week.

+ Positives +

  • Will Dissley alleviated our fears of lacking talent in the tight end group. Uncle Will was spectacular in his rookie debut.
  • It was difficult to see against a stout defense like Denver's, but it appears as though we have a competent stable of running backs on this team.
  • I think Brian Schottenheimer (offensive coordinator) is a major upgrade from Bevell.  You could see the offense make adjustments throughout the game. 
  • Michael Dickson kept this game much closer by winning the field position battle. 

- Negatives -

  • Rookie growing pains-- while not awful, Griffin, Flowers, Green - all rookies we're counting on to produce early & often, struggled mightily.
  • Once again, the run game was abandoned too soon.  
  • Seahawks pass rush was abysmal and I don't see it getting much better any time soon.
  • What pass catcher can Wilson count on?  Doug is hurt and Marshall is my age.  Tyler Lockett isn't set up to be a workhorse type and every other receiver was insignificant. 

I saw enough to have the hope that, if this team continues to develop young talent as they always have, this could very well be a playoff team. However, it is frustrating to no end when you lose a game, particularly on the road, where you had every opportunity to win. 

Friday, September 7, 2018

Big Salty Tears and a Sneak Diss

Stop me if you've heard this one.

The NFL is a quarterback driven league.

Chances are, you've heard that phrase uttered ad nauseum.  Every coach, analyst, player, and talking-head alike has either used this phrase or is otherwise intimately familiar with it's sentiment.

It's a term so rudimentary, it's like saying 'life on earth is oxygen driven'.

No shit.

An article titled "The Dynasty That Never Was" came out today on that is causing a stir throughout the football community. The premise of the article is essentially that Russell Wilson, along with Pete Carroll and John Schneider's faith in his abilities, are the primary cause of the Seahawks recent woes and ultimate undoing.

That could not be further from the truth.

The article, which directly quotes several former and recently outgoing Seahawks players, makes
them come off as entitled crybabies. With several players suggesting that Wilson is treated differently than everyone else, they complain that they did not receive their share of the accolades of the team's success while Russell skirted responsibility for the teams struggles.

There were a few things in the article that I agreed with.  Darrell Bevell's play call, Russell Wilson's ill-advised pass, and Ricardo Lockette's piss-poor attempt to get his body in position to make the game-winning catch in Super Bowl XLIX will never be lived down-- nor should they.  The fact that Pete Carroll subsequently lost the locker room is hard to deny, even for those of us on the outside. I even agree that the Seahawks lost sight of their philosophy in the wake of that Super Bowl loss-- a sentiment I was extremely vocal about throughout the past few seasons.

I encourage you to read the article for yourself, but here are some excerpts I personally took umbrage with:

Tony McDaniel, Richard Sherman and Cliff Avril were all on the record, along with anonymous sources, bitching about Russell Wilson getting preferential treatment. They claimed that Russell Wilson was never called out by the coaches in the media.

“We talked about that,” says Tony McDaniel, a defensive tackle with Seattle in 2013, ’14 and ’16. “Russell had his f----ups; he never got called out. If I was Pete Carroll, I’d tell Russell, I have to call you out in front of the team so there won’t be any problems.”

That might be a valid complaint if you can point to a single incident of Carroll calling out any of his players.  That's just not who Pete is.  He has consistently been shown to use optimism as his coaching method, never throwing a player under the bus no matter how deserving they might be.

The players go on to contend that Wilson was too 'emotionally fragile' to be held to the same standards as the others-- just before they whine about Russell not interacting enough with them at the company holiday party. 

Russell's work ethic has been well-documented in the press.  Yet, these bitter ex-teammates have the audacity to suggest that Russell is too focused on his business and charitable efforts, "prioritizing his business efforts over football". That sentiment reeks of jealousy, if you ask me.

These guys go on to gripe about Russell being asked to be interviewed after the 2014 Championship Game victory, in which the Seahawks came back to defeat the Packers in spite of Wilson's four interceptions-- as if to suggest Pete Carroll should have yanked his ass off the podium as punishment for his turnovers.

Guys, if you don't understand that this is a QB driven league by now-- I don't know what to tell you.  Maybe you should've learned how to throw a football.

The most infuriating line from this article is the following, referencing the play call that cost the Seahawks a championship repeat:

"Many who lamented how Wilson was treated differently now believed, truly believed, that Carroll had called a pass play to give Wilson a better chance to win the Super Bowl MVP award and decrease Marshawn Lynch’s chances"

To suggest that thoughts of who might be the MVP recipient was anywhere close to the mind of Pete Carroll in that instance is profoundly ignorant. Astonishingly and embarrassingly ignorant.

That play will never be forgotten.  Those responsible (Wilson, Bevell, Lockette, Carroll) should never live it down.  It should motivate them every day for the rest of their lives.  That decision, as well as several subsequent moves the organization made, did fly in the face of Pete's mantra of being a run-first/defensively-stout team.  But it wasn't the fault of one specific person any more than it was a premeditation decision to get Wilson an MVP.

I completely understand how that move might have lost the trust of some people in the organization. Hell, I spent the better part of the following season questioning the response of Carroll and company.  I still don't think that the team responded properly, but after reading this article, I feel that no response would satisfy some of these salty veterans who came off as petulant.

“That one play changed the whole locker room,” McDaniel says. “When Pete would give a speech or try for a heart-to-heart, people just stopped responding. They didn’t know who to trust anymore.”
Like any good team that faces adversity, you have to learn to put this shit behind you and focus on the next game, the next season.  From the sounds of things, guys like McDaniel, Avril, Bennett and Sherman folded their arms and turned up their noses at Carroll's attempts to get past XLIX. I'm sure there are things that could've been handled differently by Carroll and his staff, but I'm not convinced in the slightest that those who felt spurned would have been receptive to any of it.
 The quarterback took members of the offense and defense to Hawaii for a retreat before that season, to, according to sources, repair any lingering issues. But some lingered. “A lot of people felt like he was doing that to save face,” says one player who was there. “We were like, What is thisWhy are we here? He was disingenuous."
Prime example right here.  Russell showed leadership by footing the bill to take the team to Hawaii to resolve past issues and move forward to the next opportunity.  Evidently, it wasn't enough for some.

They momentarily shift the focus of their vitriol from Wilson to the team's personnel decisions. They complain about the decisions to move on from players like Red Bryant (career quickly fizzled out after leaving Seattle), Bruce Irvin (couldn't afford to keep him, you know, because of all the Pro Bowl players on the defense already eating a handsome portion of the salary cap), Malcom Smith (Super Bowl MVP that has yet to be healthy for 16 games since leaving here) and Tony McDaniel, who was eventually lured out of unemployment to return to the team.

McDaniel was eventually brought back, in 2016, finding himself in a time-share with other players whom he argues he was outperforming. “I was one of the guys who came in, put my hat on and went to work. Didn’t complain, didn’t say much,” he says.
Well, he didn't complain until this article came out, anyway.
“Everything they preached about competition stopped being true,” says one former Seahawk. “It wasn’t like that anymore. The Kasen Williams move was one. The way they treated the running back situation for years, the offensive line. They would draft offensive lineman high and tell them, You’re a leader now. No, you earn that. It all became artificial.”
It's important to keep in perspective, Kasen Williams couldn't win a spot on the Cleveland Browns roster.  Yes, the same Cleveland Browns that have won one more NFL game than I personally have in the past two seasons.

We all saw this tension unfold throughout the past season.  Changes were going to need to be made.  The players knew it, the staff knew it, and even the fans could see it coming.

There were quite a few foolish opinions in that piece, but this might be the stupidest excerpt from that article:

In December, during what he thought was a private moment with Cowboys coach Jason Garrett after a game against Dallas, Thomas was caught on camera telling the coach, “If y’all got the chance to come get me, come get me.”

Now, I've been openly critical of Earl Thomas' perceived intellect, but even I was taken aback to read that he sincerely believed that his dumb ass, blatantly disrespectful decision to chase Jason Garrett through the back hallways of AT&T Stadium like a schoolgirl during Beatlemania was in any way 'a private moment'.

They say that it's never a good idea to meet your heroes.  Too often, you'll find out they're not as extraordinary as you'd held them up in your mind to be. This article proved just that-- these Seahawks players that are no longer part of the plan moving forward, but significant pieces of cherished past memories, are just as flawed as you and I.

I will always be bitter about XLIX.  Every Seahawks employee, player and fan that gives a shit should be.  But what matters most is how you handle that bitterness.  I'd like to think that I would align more with Russell Wilson and Pete Carroll.  Understanding that there is absolutely no benefit in holding on to anger, frustration and bitterness of the past and that letting go and moving forward is the only path to getting better.

I would certainly share the feelings expressed by the contributors of this article, but I wouldn't hold on to them as fervently as they have. I'm trying to put myself in their shoes.  For many of them, that may well have been their last shot at winning it all.  Something they'll never get back. Something, as a fan, I will never understand that feeling. 

However, they need to understand that they are not coaches and general managers with a multitude of responsibilities to delicately juggle.  Tony McDaniel criticizing the Seahawks personnel decisions is almost as absurd as me criticizing his personal training regimen.  Neither of us have any experience dealing with those subjects.

It's not surprising to hear the criticism of Wilson. He plays the most criticized position in professional sports, he's a Charlie-Church/Bookworm kind of guy, and he has the one thing those guys will never have again-- youth and his best years ahead of him.

However, it is upsetting the cowardly manner they chose to air their grievances.  Real cool waiting until you're off the team and just two days before the regular season to release your sneak diss track.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Earl Thomas is a Liability

After holding out through the entire offseason program, Earl Thomas finally reported to Seahawks headquarters.

On paper, it seems a headline worth celebrating.  The reality isn't so rosy.

Earl's reporting to the team isn't indicative of some sort of resolution.  Thomas still doesn't want to be here.  The Seahawks aren't any more interested in signing him to a long-time deal today than they have been in the past few months.  There still doesn't appear to be a market or a willing trade partner for his services.

The only reason he reported is because he doesn't want to lose any more money.
By holding out all of the offseason, Earl Thomas has incurred over $1.3 million in fines-- all of which are levied at the team's discretion.  This means that the Seahawks can forgive or enforce these fines as they see fit.  I've heard that the team has decided not to enforce these fines now that he's reported, a decision I personally do not agree with.

Had Earl continued his holdout into the regular season, he would then be forfeiting game checks.  There is no way to recoup that money, which in Earl's case, is over half a million per game.

Ultimately, this suggests that the Seahawks 'won' this battle against Earl.  He's in no better bargaining position than he was when this holdout started.  In fact, his position is arguably worse. However, the Seahawks aren't in a much better position in spite of having their star safety back in the building.

For starters, they now have a disgruntled, cancerous personality in the locker room.  This is a locker room filled with young players and a team searching for a new identity.

“I worked my whole life for this,” Earl wrote. “I’ve never let me teammates, city or fans down as long as I’ve lived and don’t plan on starting this weekend. With that being said, the disrespect has been well noted and will not be forgotten. Father Time may have an undefeated record but best believe I plan on taking him into triple overtime when it comes to my career.”

That doesn't strike me as the thoughts of a player that will do all he can to help his team win. That sounds like a selfish player that is only looking out for themselves. He doesn't have any interest in helping the young players around him get better.

When Earl made the erroneous decision to chase Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett down the back hallways of AT&T Stadium, he was essentially telling his teammates, Seahawks fans, and the entire world that he cares only about himself.

What exactly makes you think that he's not going to pull something similar when the Seahawks host the Cowboys for the home opener this season?

Just in case you can't discern my tone in this article-- I'm pissed off at Earl.  I'm angrier with Earl than I am with Richard Sherman, Michael Bennett or any other former Seahawk that now calls another city home-- and Earl is still on our team!

Number 29 is irrefutably one of the greatest players to ever put on a Seahawks uniform.  He changed the landscape of the franchise and helped bring home our first Lombardi trophy. I will never dispute his contributions to this team's success.

I'm angry because Earl is damaging his own legacy. Not only is he voluntarily ruining his legacy here in Seattle, but he's doing so to no benefit of his own-- or anyone, really.

I had begun preparing for a post-Earl Seahawks team ever since that incident in Dallas.  I was prepared to move on while holding tight the many fond memories of Earl's time here in Seattle. Just as I have with Sherman and Bennett, who will be donning opposing uniforms this season, and with players like Kam Chancellor and Cliff Avril, whose departures were unanticipated.

The selfish tantrums of Earl Thomas will not get him the long-term contract extension that is the supposed motivation for his behavior this offseason. I can't believe that is sincere.  If it were truly a long term extension with the Seattle Seahawks that he was after-- there are a million better ways to have gone about that.

Earl doesn't want to be here anymore.  And, you know what, that's totally fine with me.  He has every right to feel that way.

However, if he feels that way, I don't want him around. When this team inevitably faces adversity this season, I don't want Earl's selfishness on display.  I want guys like KJ Wright and Frank Clark, both of whom are in the exact same predicament as Earl in the final year of their deals, that are willing to put the work in and bet on themselves to lead by example.

I don't mean to suggest that Earl would stoop to espionage or otherwise half-ass it against his beloved Cowboys, but I've reached a point where I have accepted that this team is likely to experience a step backward defensively this season.  Maybe this team's future starting Free Safety isn't currently on the roster, but the interim replacement for Earl Thomas is.  I'd much rather get them reps and experience that could prove valuable down the stretch should the Seahawks find their way into the postseason, than trot out a disgruntled future hall-of-famer that might be more focused on his next employer more than his current one.

I don't believe that we're getting a final season of All Pro play from Earl. He will not be the guy that recklessly flies around the field, torpedoing into opponents twice his size.  Believe me, he'll be protecting his body, hoping his old film is enough to motivate his next team to pony up the dough for a rich, third contract.

So the Seahawk have to consider their next move.  Do you let Earl play out his contract, risking the development of your team and it's young players and be content with the 2020 3rd Round compensatory pick we'll likely get once he signs with a new team?

Or do you cut your losses, trade him to any team willing to pay at least a 3rd round selection? Or whatever Dallas is willing to pay, but after we face off in week three?

This could potentially be a defining moment for Pete Carroll and John Schneider.  I'm very curious to see how this plays out.  I just hope that, when all is said and done, my love of Earl Thomas isn't completely tarnished.

Friday, August 31, 2018

Winless but Hopeful-- Seahawks 19 Raiders 30

The Seahawks ended the preseason last night with their fourth consecutive loss.  While meaningless in the grand scheme of things, preseason victories definitely mean something to the always competing Pete Carroll and are great confidence boosters, particularly for young players.

Besides, the Seahawks weren't exactly setting out to win these games.  They were more concerned with players winning position battles as the roster continues to turnover.

Last night we saw two quarterbacks that might very well be cut by this time tomorrow.  Austin Davis is definitely gone, in the wake of the Seahawks trading for Brett Hundley.  Alex McGough will probably be cut as well, with hopes of squirreling him away on the practice squad.

Tomorrow is the deadline for teams to trim down to 53 players and the Seahawks have some difficult decisions to make. Here are some of the players on the bubble and my thoughts on their future with the team:

The WR Group

I think Seattle has to keep 6 receivers.  I've heard they're planning to only keep 5, but I don't think that's a wise decision. Baldwin has a nagging injury, Marshall is coming off surgeries and a lot of the current receivers are undersized which could lead to injuries as the season wears on.  Here are the six I would keep.

Doug Baldwin
Tyler Lockett
Brandon Marshall
Jaron Brown
David Moore
Damore'ea Stringfellow

That being said, I really hope they are able to stash Keenan Reynolds and Malik Turner on the practice squad.

The RB Group

I was hoping Seattle would keep 3 running backs and a fullback on their regular season roster.  I'm just not impressed with Tre Madden as a fullback, so I changed to thinking they'll keep 4 RBs.  John Clayton made a point that once again changed my mind-- the Seahawks have been plagued by RB injuries and tend to have 2 backs constantly hurt.  Keeping 4 would mean only 2 would be active-- which isn't enough.  So I guess we have 5.

Rashaad Penny
Chris Carson
Mike Davis
JD McKissic
I hate to say it... but... CJ Prosise

The TE Group

I'm fed up with Ed Dickson. Between his complete unavailability since the moment we signed him and the folklore of him somehow being the greatest tight end that ever lived-- I'm so ready to move on.  Let's roll with these three

Nick Vannett
Will Dissly
Tyrone Swoopes

The Offensive Line

I think we'll be good keeping 10 linemen.  Here's my ten:

Duane Brown
Ethan Pocic
Justin Britt
DJ Fluker
Germain Ifedi
George Fant
JR Sweezy
Joey Hunt
Jordan Roos
Isaiah Battle

The Secondary Group

It's anyone's guess how this group will shake out.  I'd prefer we keep less corners than receivers, because the talent pool isn't nearly as rich on the defensive side. I would imagine that, by keeping Earl Thomas on the roster, Seattle is going to have to bump one of his successors.

Shaq Griffin
Justin Coleman
Tre Flowers
Mo Alexander
Dontae Johnson
Bradley MacDougald
Delano Hill
Tedrick Thompson
Earl Thomas
Akeem King

The Linebackers

More tough calls.  I expect to see some trades here before all is said and done.

Bobby Wagner
KJ Wright
Shaquem Griffin
Barkevious Mingo
Austin Calitro
DJ Alexander (this could easily be Eric Waldren, depending on his special teams contributions)

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Do you feel like I do? -- Seahawks 20 @ Vikings 21

Seahawks fell just short of a comeback victory in Minneapolis on Friday. Despite the loss, I was left feeling really good about what our team might look like when the regular season rolls around.

Minnesota is one of my favorites to make the Super Bowl out of the NFC this season.  Lead by their outstanding defense, the Vikings intend to improve upon their NFC Championship loss by adding Kirk Cousins to the mix. They also will be getting their 1st round running back, Dalvin Cook, back from missing all of last season with an ACL injury. They could be scary this year.

The Seahawks, who many analysts have only winning 4 games this year, looked good against a well-rounded Vikings team.  They ran the ball well, which was something they couldn't accomplish against any defense last season. Russell had all kinds of time to throw and a bevy of capable receivers on the other end of his passes.

When I talk to other Seahawks fans, I hear a lot of concern about the defense.  Make no mistake-- the defense will look very different from what you've seen the past few seasons, but that doesn't mean they will be bad. 

We've grown accustomed to a dominant Seahawks defense over the years.  One that imposes it's will on opposing offenses.  That sets the tone for the game. 

If you're expecting more of the same-- you're going to be disappointed.

I still think the defense will be decent.  More of a bend-don't-break approach.  This will not be a year where we expect the defense to keep opponents under 10 points while praying that Wilson can orchestrate the winning drive in the 4th quarter. 

However, they should hold teams to field goals more often than not and with the improvements to the offense, you would think the Seahawks will be better at controlling the clock and scoring.  So it should all come out in the wash.

Yesterday it was announced that KJ Wright might not be available for the opener in Denver as he gets treatment for a knee issue.  Should he be unable to play week one, that likely means that Shaquem Griffin would get the start in his stead.

That's by no means good news for the organization as a whole, but tremendous news for the Seahawks' rookie 5th round pick who may very well start his first game with his twin brother. 

The NFL Preseason comes to a close Thursday and rosters will be trimmed down to 53 shortly after that.  I expect to see some league-wide trades go down this week, maybe even something involving holdout Earl Thomas.  Earl has really backed himself into a corner where he has no leverage.

Unless Earl reports before Thursday's game, he shouldn't have any shot at starting week one.  However, if he's not dealt with in one way or another before the season begins, he's only going to become more of a distraction.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

No Luck in LA-- Seahawks 14 Chargers 24

It's nice to know that I'm not the only one still struggling to accept the Chargers as residents of Los Angeles.

Curt Menefee, Brock Huard, Dave Wyman and the head official for the game all made reference to the San Diego Chargers-- despite relocating to LA ahead of last season.

The first thing I noticed was that, if this Charger team can stay healthy, they're going to be a force in the AFC.  Their defense looks stout and Phillip Rivers is still doing Phillip Rivers things.

The second thing I noticed was that our defensive line is going to be a problem. 

No matter if it was against the Chargers 1's, 2's, or 3's-- our defensive front looked porous and every tackle was made by the linebackers or the secondary. 

The Seahawks are going to need to find a solution for their defensive line so that the new-look secondary can find it's way without any additional challenges being provided by the lack of a decent front.

I think we're going to have an admirable rushing attack this year.  Mike Solari and Brian Schottenheimer have already shown demonstrable improvement through these first two games.  

It was disappointing to see so little from Brandon Marshall with all of the hype around him coming out of camp, but not as disappointing as what we have and have not seen from Armara Darboh.  Seattle has 13 receivers on their roster at the moment and it's anyone's guess which 6 will stick.

Doug Baldwin and Tyler Lockett are locks.  Jaron Brown figures to fill the void left by Paul RichardsonBrandon Marshall could very well be the 4th receiver, but I think we still need to see more from him in a game setting.

That leaves two spots for Damore'ea Stringfellow, who has looked sharp in camp and in games, David Moore, who has put together his second impressive preseason in Seattle, Amara Darboh, who Seattle invested a 3rd round pick in 2017, Cyril Grayson, the former LSU speedster, special teams standout, Tanner McEvoy, Marcus Johnson, who was acquired in the Michael Bennett trade, Keenan Reynolds, former Navy quarterback, and rookie free agents Malik Turner and Caleb Scott. 

If I had to choose, I'd take Stringfellow and Moore while hoping to stash Reynolds and Turner on the practice squad.   If Marshall doesn't prove to be useful, I'd like to keep McEvoy around for his special teams acumen and emergency QB abilities.

Speaking of QB depth-- I felt that Alex McGough took a step forward while Austin Davis regressed. Evidently, Seattle was looking to add Colts QB Jacoby Brissett to the fold, even offering a 2nd round draft pick, but it never materialized. 

I'm willing to admit that no one on the Seahawks roster outside of Russell Wilson is fit to quarterback and NFL team, I do think that there isn't much of a discernible difference between McGough and Davis.  I certainly wouldn't keep both but I do like McGough's developmental upside. 

Ed Dickson remains no where to be seen, but his legend continues to grow.  I actually heard Wyman refer to Dickson as "the best blocking tight end in football".  This made me laugh out loud.  It's hilarious how player's can get better simply by not putting anything on film to suggest otherwise. 

I remember the sports radio atmosphere the day we signed Dickson.  It was a collective head-scratching more than anything else.  This move was supposed to be indicative of Seattle's post-Jimmy Graham and Luke Willson strategy, and it certainly didn't look like we were getting anyone close to Graham's play-making ability nor Willson's versatility.  

We were getting a serviceable veteran tight end that employs a block-first game plan but can catch the ball when called upon.  Unfortunately, he also has some nagging injuries.

Just like any year in the past 8 seasons, I think we're not going to fully know what we have in this team until November rolls around.  It always seems to take this team a few games to find their feet and really gel.  The good news is that it shouldn't take us 8 weeks to establish the run this season. 

Friday, August 10, 2018

Welcome back, Football! -- Seahawks 17 Colts 19

When I hear Steve Raible's voice-- football is upon us.

I know that it's only preseason, but I liked what I saw last night.  This team has a lot of new faces.  It was the first time in a very long time, perhaps since Pete Carroll initially took over and turned the roster out, where I found myself longing for a media guide.

So much talk has been centered around those who will not be with the team.  It's definitely worthy of discussion, but lost in that noise is the imbibing of youth that became of those departures.

We can remember so easily how fearsome our team was with names like Chancellor, Avril, Bennett, Thomas and Sherman roaming the field.  What is often forgotten is that those names did not enter our lexicon until Pete & John blew up the Seahawks roster, started from scratch, and allowed for those young & hungry players to have an opportunity.

Last night reminded me an awful lot of those early days.

That's not to say I didn't have my share of concerns, but I am considerably more optimistic than most when it comes to the Seahawks chances this season. I've seen predictions as low as 3-wins and the highest being 9-wins.  The general consensus leans a lot harder toward the 3 than it does to the 9.

I'm picking the Seahawks to go 10-6.  That's been my stance since the conclusion of the draft.

I understand why so many are concerned and therefore picking the Seahawks to find themselves lucky if they win 6 games.  Earl is as good as gone.  No Kam, No Sherm, No Cliff.  That's a lot of production lost.

However, correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't the Seahawks play all of last season without Avril?  Didn't Chancellor, Thomas and Sherman miss considerable time?  My point is that we experienced just about all of those concerns last season with a garbage running game, an abysmal offensive line, a handful of games choked away by Blair Walsh, and awful play-calling to boot.

We still finished 9-7.

The reason:  Russell Wilson.

Guess what?  We still have Wilson.  Not only that, we have a full offseason with Duane Brown at LT, a first round running back, a healthy Chris Carson, new line coach and coordinator and a renewed appetite for success.

I think that's good enough to expect one more win than last season.

Last night certainly showed that the Seahawks are trending in the right direction in spite of the loss.  Here are a few of my quick takeaways from the game:

  • Chris Carson is this team's workhorse.  He looks big, physical and determined.  He'll be the one setting the tone for the offense. 
  • Penny wasn't great, but he definitely looks like he is primed to contribute this year. He picked up a great block on Russell Wilson's touchdown pass to Vannett-- which was supposed to be his main weakness.
  • I'm done with CJ Prosise. He has proven two things in his tenure here: he's got tremendous potential and he's completely unreliable.  I will be extremely disappointed if he vultures a roster spot from someone like McKissic or one of the young receivers fighting for a spot.
  • Shaquem Griffin is going to give you 110%.  Still not entirely sure where he fits, but you'll never complain about his effort.
  • I like Mr. McGough!  Not a bad debut for the rookie.  He won't be threatening Wilson's spot anytime soon, but I wouldn't be the least bit upset if Austin Davis gets cut.  I'd much rather carry 5 RBs or 6-7 WRs than 3 QBs.
  • Tedrick Thompson looked good.  Nowhere near Earl, but promising.
  • Rasheem Green could be a future stud.  Great performance working with the 1st team defense.
  • Solari and Schottenheimer know what they're doing.  I feel like we're going to spend this season wishing that move had been made much sooner.
  • We have two, really good punters.  We can't afford to carry both and Dixon would not survive the practice squad without being poached.  I hope we can trade Jon Ryan to recoup some value for losing him.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Much Ado About Earl

It won't be long before training camp begins and preparations for the new NFL season are officially underway.  The Seahawks find themselves in a situation they haven't really been in since Pete Carroll took over. 

It's not a total roster overhaul.  Not nearly the likes of what we saw in the lockout season.  It's a considerable turnover, particularly with names that had become cornerstones of the organization.  Reliable standbys that we had come to expect production from.  Particularly with regard to the defense.

Gone are the familiar names of Chancellor, Sherman, Bennett, Lane, Avril and Shead.  Guys that were tremendous contributors during both Super Bowl appearances.  Mainstays from the better part of the last seven seasons. 

Add to that list our leading receiver, Jimmy Graham, who is now building his rapport with Aaron Rogers in Green Bay.

That's a lot of change, but it's nothing to lose sleep over.  We still have our quarterback, we have a first-round running back, revamped coaching staff and many other exciting new faces to watch at camp this year.

But one player remains uncertain.  Not just any player-- a legendary player. Of course I'm referring to Earl Thomas. 

Ever since Seattle selected Thomas with their second pick in the first round of the 2010 draft, he's been nothing short of incredible on the field.  He plays his Free Safety position like a center fielder with a bomb strapped to his chest.  They just don't make a lot of guys like Earl.

 He's been an emotional leader on the field and endeared himself to the fan base here in Seattle.  There is no doubting his significance to this franchise's history.

The question still remains-- what the hell is going on here? 

On paper, Earl Thomas is signed through this season.  He's publicly stated that he wants a contract extension, and he's willing to hold out until he gets one. He's also made comments, often cryptically,  suggesting that he wants out of Seattle altogether-- ideally resulting in a return to his hometown with the Dallas Cowboys.

It began with Earl running down Cowboys coach Jason Garrett in the opponent's locker room, in the wake of the Cowboys loss to Seattle to tell him "Come get me, bro!"

Earl attempted to sweep this under the rug with a typical-Earl, disorganized collection of thoughts that did little to convince anyone that he wasn't stabbing his current team and fans in the back with his pathetic and unprofessional display post game. 

Cliff Avril, who is now a sports radio host in Seattle on KJR AM 950, has since given us all a peak behind the curtain, saying that Earl's love of the Cowboys is well known in their locker room.

Leading up to the draft, it seemed inevitable that Earl Thomas was soon to get his wish.  Initially, it was thought that he would command a King's ransom, somewhere in the neighborhood of a pair of first round picks.  That eventually became a second round pick and a fourth. 

On the last day of the draft, with no trade in sight, I assumed that this was all off season speculation.  Surely, Seattle has plans to extend their All-Pro safety so that he might finish out his career here in the Pacific Northwest.

Evidently, that was not the case.

From what I can gather, Seattle doesn't have any immediate plans to resign Earl.  In fact, they might not have any intentions of signing him beyond this upcoming season whatsoever. Additionally, the idea of trading him, whether to Dallas or somewhere else, might not be entirely outside of the realm of possibility either.

I don't use Instagram, but I have been told that Earl continues to pander to Cowboys fans through social media while he holds out from Seahawks activities. Whatever the team or Earl's plans are, it seems like the situation is going to get messy soon.

My question is, why on Earth would the Seahawks allow for this to happen?

We should all know Thomas well enough by now to realize that the notion of him humbly and professionally honoring the final season of his contract without distraction is ludicrous. It simply will not go down that way and everyone with half of a brain should understand that.

So, if the Seahawks don't want to sign him to another long-term contract, then why not get rid of him and recoup some value in the process?

We have seen the value for safeties seemingly plummet this offseason, so its possible that neither Earl nor the Seahawks organization are comfortable with the collective assessment of his worth.  

I'm sure the Seahawks fielded offers leading up to the draft.  When he wasn't traded during the draft, I assumed that it was because they thought that the cost of extending him was better than the benefit of trading him.  But they didn't resign him.

Sure, if he finishes this season with us and gets signed by another team, it's likely that the Seahawks will find themselves with a 3rd or 4th round compensatory pick.  Maybe they were hoping they could get one more season out of him and still recoup some value once he's signed elsewhere.

Earl is demonstrative. Earl is vocal, although seldom coherent. He is bound to be a distraction if he doesn't get his way and the Seahawks simply do not have the veteran leadership in place to deal with that possibility. 

Do the Seahawks seriously want to subject their young, revamped defensive squad to the sniveling tantrums of a spoiled veteran? That seems like a recipe for disaster that could easily setback this team's much needed development. 

So, what should we do?

If I were calling the shots, I would've extended Earl before this happened.  I would've paid him as much as the cap allowed me to for no more than 3 seasons.  At the very least, that would appease Earl in the interim until I was confident that his heir apparent was on the roster and was able to negotiate trades without the player having all of the leverage.
However, if I were taking over right now as opposed to the beginning of this saga-- I would trade him immediately.  I would trade him to the highest bidder that is headquartered anywhere but the state of Texas.  Ideally, to an AFC team.  Anything above the compensatory price would be just fine.

Earl is the last bit of adhesive on the dangling band-aid that was once the LOB.  Why not rip that sucker off in one fell swoop and move forward?   The departures of Kam, Sherm, Lane and Shead were difficult for all Seahawks fans in different ways and to varying degrees.  Losing Earl isn't going to be easy, but it will be a lot easier to swallow if we can collectively grieve these losses.

Right now, the Seahawks are dragging this out to the benefit of no one.  Let's not make this difficult situation extend into next year.  If the team doesn't want to pay him long term and he doesn't want to be here-- the decision has already been made.

We'll never forget Earl Thomas and all that he's meant to this team, but we'll have to get over it.  The Seahawks seem to be at their best when they're trusting in young talent to make the next step.  Don't make this divorce any uglier than it needs to be.

Next man up.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

National Anthem Rule Changes

Keeping in the tradition of handling this situation poorly, the NFL owners approved changes to the national anthem policy for 2018.


"The NFL will enact a national anthem policy for 2018 that requires players and league personnel on the sideline to stand but gives them the option to remain in the locker room if they don't want to stand, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announced Wednesday.Under the change approved by team owners at the Spring League Meeting, individual clubs will have the power to set their own policies to ensure the anthem is being respected during any on-field action. If a player chooses to protest on the sideline, the NFL will fine the team. The player also could be fined by his team, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport and NFL Network's Judy Battista reported."
For those of you that possess the ability to act civilly enough to hear all sides of this issue, you may recall that these protests originated as a means for players-- specifically, Colin Kaepernick-- to express their frustration with the undeniable and alarming rate at which young men of color are killed by members of United States law enforcement.

It was never about the men and women that serve in our military.

It was never anti-America.

It was never even about the anthem itself.

It was a peaceful demonstration intended to call attention to a very serious issue facing our country.

In many ways, it did just that.  As more players joined Kaepernick in protest, more and more Americans were forced to discuss this sensitive issue. Unfortunately, the NFL's inaction gave way to the ignorant and willfully misinformed to commandeer the spotlight.

The discussion became about how players have no right to 'politicize' the game of football.

"Shut up and play!" became a rallying cry for the contingent of the NFL's fan base that believe that, ostensibly, the players are just slaves for their entertainment.

The ironic thing about that is prior to 2009, the players were kept in the locker room during the playing of the national anthem.  Sometime after that, the Department of Defense began paying for patriotism and it was reported that "the Department of Defense paid 14 NFL teams $5.4 million from 2011 to 2014 for patriotic propaganda during NFL games."

Essentially, the NFL 'politicized' itself for financial gain.

Use of unnecessary, excessive force, particularly against young men of color, is an extremely troubling issue that should not be swept under the rug. Especially if the lyrics we sing during the national anthem hold any meaning to you.

The NFL failed miserably when it came to acknowledging the premise of these protests. I do not purport having the answers as to how we solve, move on and grow from this complicated issue, but I know enough to understand that you don't just ignore these types of issues, assuming they'll sort themselves out.

My lone criticism of Kaepernick and the protesting base is that they have tied this issue directly to the national anthem.  I believe it was a great vehicle for getting the message out, but once the discussion began, I would've liked to see the protests grow and mature into other forms.

There is a large contingent of those who are against these protests who are just too stupid too look past the protest action to the source of the protests. No matter how eloquently it is explained to them, they simply do not possess the wherewithal to differentiate between the issue of racial inequality and the flag & anthem.

The only way to get through to those people, or at the very least, remove them from the discussion and solution going forward, is to move on from the anthem and advance the protests and discussions to the next platform.

Again, I don't know what that is, but I trust there are greater minds than mine working towards the solution.

I love this country dearly, just as I love my Seahawks. Just as I am critical of ill-advised decisions made by the Seahawks organization, I will be critical of my country when I feel its actions aren't held to the highest standards.

That's pretty much the definition of greatness-- holding to the highest standards.

The things you love-- your country, your sports teams, your family, your children-- should not be above reproach. That is not how you get the best out of people.

If your child got caught stealing, would you hold them accountable for their actions or would you stomp your feet, scream and chastise anyone that criticized your child and their actions?

I believe America is still the best nation on Earth, but we are living in uncertain times where facts seemingly have lost their gravitas, intelligence and compassion are denigrated and considered weaknesses, and somehow, songs and symbols are more relevant and sacred than the ideals they represent.

These rule changes might quiet the conversation this upcoming season, but they do not effectively solve anything. That doesn't make America any better and it sure doesn't make the NFL look any better.

I know there will be a considerable portion of Seahawks fans that do not agree with me on this-- and that's perfectly fine-- but I hope that, if you do love this country as you claim to, you'll take a moment to consider Pete Carroll's  'Always Compete' philosophy and apply it to your patriotism.

We can be better. We need to be better.

But we first need to listen to those in our country that perhaps don't share the same positive experience that you do as an American.  Try to put yourself in their shoes before casting your judgement on their beliefs and actions and lets help make this country somewhere that all people are proud to voluntarily stand up and solute.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Seahawks 2018 Draft Class

The 2018 draft has concluded and Seahawks fans should be thrilled with their team's latest additions. Having more needs than the past several drafts, the Seahawks had their work cut out for them. Especially considering their relative lack of pick depth.

Seattle hit on several major areas of need while executing the trademark trading back to accumulate additional draft picks.

My favorite pick was our very first.  After trading back a few spots to pick up an extra 3rd and 6th pick, the Seahawks pulled the trigger on San Diego State running back, Rashaad Penny.

This pick didn't win over all Seahawks fans.  There were many who thought they made the pick too early, something John Schneider promptly refuted, suggesting that there was a team that contacted him immediately after the selection in an attempt to pry Penny away from Schneider.

Others complained that our rushing woes were no fault of the current stable of Seahawks backs, but rather the offensive line to blame. I simply don't agree with this line of thinking.  Over the past few seasons, Seattle has invested in their offensive line considerably while relying on undrafted and unproven running backs.

It hasn't worked and it was looking like they were doomed to repeat themselves.  We all like Chris Carson, but turning the backfield keys directly over to him, coming off a serious injury with a small but impressive body of work would have been uncomfortably similar to what we did with Thomas Rawls in his second season.  You might remember-- that didn't work.

Penny lead all of college football in total yardage.  He figures to work in conjunction with Carson, McKissic, Davis and Prosise (if he can stay healthy) to form an impressive backfield group.

Seattle didn't neglect its line, either.  They added the best blocking tight end in the draft, local kid Will Dissly out of Washington, and took a long-armed Ohio State tackle, Jamarco Jones, late in the 5th round.

The undeniably most touching moment of the draft was when the Seahawks selected Shaquem Griffin in the fifth round, reuniting the Griffin twins in Seattle. Shaquem, whose brother was a rookie cornerback for the Seahawks last year, lost his left hand at 4 years old but went on to be the player of the year last season.  He figures to contribute heavily in special teams as a rookie.

The Seahawks hope they got their Michael Bennett of the future in 3rd round choice, Rasheem Green out of USC. Evidently, fifth round choice Tre Flowers is physically identical to Richard Sherman.  We will all be thrilled if these two come anywhere close to the production of their predecessors.

The most interesting draft choice made by the Seahawks this weekend was when they traded up with the Denver Broncos to draft Michael Dixon, a punter from Texas.  This move allegedly caused the Broncos war room to erupt with laughter.

What does this mean for Jon Ryan?  Likely, it spells the end of his long career in Seattle.  Ryan, the Ginja Ninja, is beloved by the fan base and is the longest tenured player on the team, but noticeably declined last season.  Ryan is still an extremely competent punter, so I hope that the Seahawks might be able to recoup a draft pick through a trade rather than outright cutting him.

With their last pick, the Seahawks drafted quarterback Alex McGough. I wasn't aware of McGough prior to his selection, but after watching his tape, I'm just as comfortable with him backing up Wilson this season as I am with Austin Davis or the other no-name guy on the team's depth chart.

Here's a list of undrafted free agents scooped up once the draft concluded.

TCU WR Taj Williams
Missouri DE Marcell Frazier
Idaho State OL Skyler Phillips
Texas DT Poona Ford
Purdue DT Eddy Wilson
Oregon LS Tanner Carew
Oklahoma State C Brad Lundblade
Slippery Rock DE/FB Marcus Martin
Utah QB Troy Williams
Florida State LB Jacob Pugh
USC OL Viane Talamaivao
Eastern Washington DL Albert Havili
Vanderbilt WR Caleb Scott
USC S Chris Hawkins
FAU WR John Franklin III
West Virginia WR Ka’Raun White
Texas S Jason Hall
Oklahoma LB Emmanuel Beal
Michigan FB Khalid Hill

Mini Camp Invite: Texas Tech RB Justin Stockton
Mini Camp Invite: Tennessee State OL Ty Allen
Mini Camp Invite: ECU CB DaShaun Amos
Mini Camp Invite: NW Missouri State CB Marcus Jones
Mini Camp Invite: Texas State LB Easy Anyama