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.