Instant reaction: Seahawks lose battle of the bad D’s

September 25th, 2022 | Written by Rob Staton

Another year, another season where Seattle’s defense is DOA.

Pete Carroll, a defensive-minded Head Coach, needs to find some answers pronto.

Yes — this is a rebuild year. Yes — there are going to be growing pains along the way as they figure this out.

Yet for the last however many years, the Seahawks have started badly on defense. They’ve felt unprepared, incapable, impotent. There’s no consistent pass rush. They struggle to force turnovers. Their run defense is bad.

Why does it keep happening?

Today they played a defensive unit that was equally awful. Seattle and Atlanta combined to produce a defensive performance so poor, it was akin to watching the Big-12.

Neither team could do much of anything. Atlanta’s pass rush was so anaemic, it almost felt like they’d left it on the plane. Seattle, meanwhile, gave up explosive plays galore.

Yet at the end — a Grady Jarrett sack (a moment of quality from a great player) enabled Atlanta to do just enough to escape with the win. All after Marcus Mariota had threatened to chuck it away with a botched hand-off.

The Seahawks have changed their defensive staff completely. They were supposedly tweaking the scheme (although Carroll keeps insisting things aren’t that different).

No kidding.

Too many of the same problems have remained over many years. Basic things too — such as poor tackling. What is Carroll doing to rectify these issues? Why do they come out of camp and pre-season suffering in the same way every year?

Why are the Seahawks so easy to play against on defense?

Why do they annually fail to produce a serious pass rush despite relentlessly talking about needing to fix it?

It’s not good enough and goes beyond the fact they’re in a rebuild. They have veterans in the front seven. Players like Jordyn Brooks who get talked up big time and for what reason, exactly? How did Quandre Diggs play today? The man they are paying a fortune to play next to the other expensive safety who is injured again.

This should’ve been a victory. Atlanta couldn’t do anything defensively themselves. Geno Smith had one of the easiest days he’ll have to lob passes across the yard. Let’s not pretend it was anything other than a very easy day for him (although he easily could’ve had two interceptions before the late fourth down desperation heave).

It wasn’t a victory because the defense is hopeless.

They can’t even do one thing right. At a bare minimum — take away the run. Nope. A career day for Cordarrelle Patterson (17 runs, 141 yards). It was embarrassing how easily he ran through Seattle’s defense.

The worst play, arguably, was the Drake London touchdown. Pre-snap you could easily see he was wide open and nobody was covering him. How did they not address that? Even before the snap, I thought, ‘I could complete that pass’. Horrible.

How can fans invest faith in the rebuild if the defensive Head Coach can’t even produce a barely competent defense?

In the grand scheme of things this result — against a rival for draft position — isn’t a bad thing. But in the context of the people in charge remaining in charge to oversee this build, it is very concerning.

 

Curtis Allen’s week three watchpoints (vs Atlanta)

September 25th, 2022 | Written by Rob Staton

This is a guest article by Curtis Allen. After the game today tune into the instant reaction live stream which will be available on here and on our YouTube channel

A euphoric nail-biting win followed by the worst loss since the 42-7 drubbing by the Rams in Week Fifteen of 2017.  

The 2022 Seahawks:  Welcome to Wherever You Are.

Familiar patterns keep emerging each year, particularly on defense.  

Can the coaching staff avoid a sluggish start on defense for the third season in a row?  

No they cannot.  

2020’s excuse was, “We’re getting hands on the quarterback just not taking him down for sacks.”  

2021?  It was, “The guys are doing everything we need to see in practice just not executing on Sundays.”  

This year, it is, “The defensive linemen and linebackers need to work together better.”  At least Pete Carroll is acknowledging that this year’s defensive problem will need time to fix.

Can this team get a reasonable return on their investments at the safety position?  

No they cannot.  

Jamal Adams is injured and out for the season.  Quandre Diggs has dropped an interception and missed tackles.

Can this defense get off the field?  

No they cannot.  

They are bottom-10 in plays, sacks, first downs conceded, yards and penalties that result in first downs.  On top of that they are on pace to surpass their league-history worst mark last year of yards conceded to running backs in the passing game, allowing 11 more yards per game so far this season.

It is troubling and continually underlines that this team is lacking creative thought and a mindset that will get them going in the right direction.

****

In that context, it is somewhat comforting that Atlanta is coming to town.  Any list of the three least talented teams in the NFL must include the Falcons.  No one is surprised that they are 0-2 at this point in the year.  While they have had two one-score losses against New Orleans and the Rams, their inconsistent play has doomed them in both games.

In Week One they blew a 16-point lead by getting outscored 17-3 by the Saints in the fourth quarter.  To add insult to injury, they held the ball for 10 of the quarter’s 15 minutes.  They had a lead and could control their own destiny but failed badly.  The Saints cut through Atlanta’s defense when it counted most and squeaked by them.

Week Two saw a flipped script, with the Falcons doing the 17-3 outscoring in the fourth quarter against the Rams.  However, that is after they ended the third quarter down 28-10 due to poor play.  Their late scoring flourish was not necessarily a strong product of their competency, as they were helped along by Los Angeles, with an interception, allowing a blocked punt to be returned for a touchdown and a strategically conceded safety.

While the Falcons will provide a test this week, a Seahawks team who have hopefully been awoken by the hammering at the hands of the Niners should be able to handle them.  

This game could be like the Week Eight game last year against Jacksonville, where they cruised to a win and everything felt just a little better after losing three in a row.

Or it could be like the Week Sixteen game against Chicago, where most everyone expected an easy win and the visiting team rode a plucky veteran quarterback performance to beat them.

What will be the difference?  They will need to perform well in these areas…

They Cannot Fail on the Fundamentals Again

Last week this site covered three critical areas the Seahawks need to excel in in order to beat San Francisco.

While it is gratifying to correctly point out the key issues the Seahawks faced leading up to the game, it is extremely disappointing to see that they could not have played worse in these areas and it all added up to a terrible performance.

They were not ready to play mentally

Pete Carroll said they could see the signs all week leading up to the game and that he needs to do a better job managing that.  The trick plays felt like an acknowledgement that the team needed a spark, some kind of easy yards and points to give the squad a charge.  Unfortunately, they backfired badly.

As an aside, what ever happened to “every week is championship week” in Seattle?  In the heyday of the team, they displayed a steely calm that had fans and the press believing they could take on any challenge.  

When asked, they all mirrored one thought from Pete Carroll on down to the lowliest special teams player – that every week is treated like it is of the highest priority.  Therefore, no moment was too big for them.  

The last three seasons, we have seen more than one player publicly acknowledge they were not properly focused and that it hurt the effort on the field.  Pete Carroll has taken to blaming the short week for their challenges more than he ever has.  

When they are not ready to play, that leads to mistakes…

They did not play smart

Three turnovers, all of them a different variety. One of the everyday sort (Geno Smith’s interception), one that was hard luck (Tyler Lockett’s punt muff) and one patently absurd (Deejay Dallas’ half back option interception).  

They also got flagged for 10 penalties for 106 yards.  

Baffling coaching decisions also abounded.

They got obliterated on the ground

They gained 36 rushing yards and allowed 189.  They recorded 11 missed tackles.  It is no wonder that San Francisco possessed the ball a full quarter more than the Seahawks did, beating them by 17 minutes in time of possession.

It does not matter if you are playing against a Super Bowl contender or an also-ran.  That performance and those numbers will get you plowed.

Another week of “the dog ate my homework” simply will not do.

Stop The Falcons’ Run Game

The Seahawks’ front seven are likely sore after Sunday’s performance against San Francisco.  After observing that the run defense needs to get better on the edges following the Monday night game against Denver, the Seahawks got absolutely gashed in between the tackles by the 49ers.

They will need a quick turnaround in order to improve their performance Sunday.  Why?

The Falcons are currently averaging an impressive 146 rushing yards in their first two games, good for 7th in the NFL.  Cordarrelle Patterson is leading the way for them.  

He is one of the more fun stories in the NFL right now.  As a 31-year-old kick returner who never really realized his potential as a wide receiver, he has been reborn as a converted running back.  At 6’2” and 220lbs and wearing #84, he is a compelling curiosity lining up behind Marcus Mariota.

It is not just his position that has changed.  His skill profile has changed completely.  Whereas he has always been known as a speedy game-breaking type who operates in the open space of returning kicks or running routes as a receiver, now he is making a living using his size and strength as a runner in the trenches.  Most of Patterson’s runs have been between the tackles.

The front seven will need to be ready for him.  How can they succeed?

First off, there is a simple way to get better — play a weaker opponent.  Few offenses are as well coordinated and executed as a Kyle Shanahan offense.  Not only did their star players like Deebo Samuel make some great individual plays Sunday, they functioned very effectively as a unit.  The Seahawks should naturally show better by playing a team that is simply not as talented or as well-coached as San Francisco.

Secondly, they will need better individual performances from their defenders.  

Pete Carroll spoke of their front-seven woes as an issue of getting the defensive linemen more in sync with the linebackers so everyone functions as a unit.  He also stated that it does not happen overnight.  It needs time to really come together and make that work.

He is not wrong.  However, if individual defenders display fire and desire to attack their assignment, it can minimize the impact of the defense as a whole not being as tuned as tightly as a Formula One race car.

Let me show you an example of this.  Have a look at this 20-yard run by Ty Davis-Price in the first quarter on Sunday.

Awful.  Just awful.

Where could the Seahawks have minimized the damage with just one individual displaying a better effort?  It is obvious.  Quandre Diggs making the tackle there ends the play after just five yards or so and keeps the offense just outside of the red zone.  He has made that tackle many, many times in the past, often giving the runner a pretty good pop and leaving him with second thoughts about meeting him in the hole again.

The truth is though, with several better individual efforts on this play, the runner never makes it to Diggs.

Start with Boye Mafe.  The rookie falls victim to a clever block fake by Brandon Aiyuk and loses his balance and stumbles.  If he comes in clean and gets any push at all on Kyle Juszczyk, that hole gets narrower.  Davis-Price has to hesitate just enough to allow the streaking Darryl Johnson to catch his ankles and stop the play for no gain.

Mafe will learn.  It is his second professional game.  He only played nineteen snaps last week, let’s give him a break.

Al Woods is next.  He is initially double-teamed by the center Jake Brendel and the right guard Spencer Burford.  Brendel quickly turns 90 degrees and Woods allows it.  Brendel is in perfect position, with his butt pointed toward the gap.  But Woods does not read the play well or quick enough and Brendel is able to hand Woods off to Burford and block Jordyn Brooks, who has read the play and is moving like a guided missile towards Davis-Price.  If Woods reads that better and forces his attention on Brendel, Brooks stops the play for a small gain.

Finally, we come to Cody Barton.  What is he doing on this play?  Seriously.  The hole develops right in front of his eyes less than a heartbeat after the snap.  Brendel and left guard Aaron Banks’ body angles are literally signaling where the runner is going.  Holes do not get bigger than that.  There is no trickery in the exchange as Lance pitches it to Davis-Price right in front of Barton.  And yet he laterally drifts out of the hole and is swallowed up by Banks.  It is possible he locked on Kyle Juszczyk and mirrored him right out of position instead of concentrating on the runner.

It would be fantastic for Barton to read that play, jump into that hole and stone Davis-Price cold.  That would fire his teammates up something fierce.  But honestly, all he really needs to do is occupy the hole.  Aaron Banks’ job is to help Trent Williams with Jefferson and then disengage and take Barton on.  If Barton steps up into that hole, Banks has to get in front of him.  So even if he is blocked by Banks, that physical space is taken.  Davis-Price then gets redirected and does not go for 20 yards.

Any number of those players providing a more thorough effort and that play ends up with a much better result for the Seahawks.

But it is not all negative in this instance.  Let’s conclude with great examples of individual effort from the backside of the play.

Darryl Johnson is unblocked, reads the play, accelerates all the way across the backfield and just barely misses the runner.  If he has a 10-yard split like an Avril or a Taylor he probably makes that tackle.

Watch Josh Jones on the play as well.  He has a coverage assignment on a tight end, who stays in to block.  Jones engages him, reads the play, disengages and chases Davis-Price down from the other side of the field.  That effort ends up saving four points early in the game, as the defense then held San Francisco out of the end zone.

Those are the kinds of efforts that the Seahawks need Sunday.  Everyone may not be on the exact same wavelength but if they let their coaching, desire and athleticism take over, they will be able to make plays to keep the Falcon rushing attack from controlling the pace of the game.

Pass to Set Up the Run On Offense

The Falcons had the worst pass rush in the NFL last year.  They recorded a league-low 18 sacks as a team.  

How bad was that?  The Eagles were the next-worst team with 29 sacks.  T.J. Watt (22.5) and Robert Quinn (18.5) each out-sacked the entire Falcon defense.  

The Falcons’ team pressure rate?  A league-low 16.7%.

They missed out on the top 3 pass rushers in the draft and opted to take Drake London at #8, which has been a very good pick for them so far.  But that does not help the pass rush.

They do have 5 sacks in 2 games.  But their pressure rate has dropped even further from 2021, standing at a putrid 14.3%.  Put another way, they are not pressuring the quarterback 85.7% of the time.

We all know the typical way to address not having effective pass rushing coming from your top four players.  Blitz.  A lot.  The Falcons are sending extra rushers at a pretty good clip so far, with 25.33% of their plays sending a blitzer.  How is that working out?

They have recorded one sack.  But they have conceded 9 first downs on 18 throws, three touchdowns, and a 132.9 quarterback rating.  Those are disastrous numbers.  Just about all they have accomplished in blitzing is taking another pass defender out of the play.

It is showing up in the individual stats for their defensive backfield:

-CB A.J. Terrell has conceded three touchdowns and a 75% completion rate on passes for a whopping 138.9 QB rating

-CB Casey Hayward is a little better with 60% for a rating of 87.5

-SS Jaylinn Hawkins is surrendering 70% for a rating of 123 (hello tight ends)

-FS Richie Grant is the best of the bunch, conceding 50% for a 59 rating

Those numbers are reflected in their PFF scores as well.  The average score of their starting backfield is 61.2.

They cannot get pressure with their front four.  They get burned badly when they blitz.  The defensive backs are vulnerable.

The Seahawks must take advantage.  There is no game on the schedule quite so obvious as this one.  With the receiving weapons they have and a quarterback who can be accurate when he is not being pressured, the game plan should be clear.  Pass to get the tempo set, get a lead and then help your vulnerable defense by controlling the game script.

 

College football open thread & notes (week 4)

September 24th, 2022 | Written by Rob Staton

I’ve returned from Italy, having watched England deliver a ‘hold my beer’ performance in response to Seattle’s loss in Santa Clara. Ah, the joys of fandom.

Here’s what I’m watching this weekend in college football:

Florida vs Tennessee
Wisconsin vs Ohio State
Wyoming vs BYU
Northern Illinois vs Kentucky

Sadly the footballing gods have conspired that none of these are early kick-off’s so aside from the Florida/Tennessee game, I’ll likely watch the other three on Sunday (a 5am night of CFB probably not the best idea given it’s my son’s birthday party tomorrow).

Quarterback watch

Although I’m watching Florida vs Tennessee, I’ll be doing so with low expectations. Anthony Richardson has played so poorly in the last two games he’s more likely to be benched than drafted in the early rounds. He needs time and development, not the pressure of his personal stock weighing on his shoulders. I don’t really see Hendon Hooker as a high draft pick either. I’ll watch both and reserve judgement — but this game is less intriguing in ‘quarterback watch’ than the other three I’ll be viewing this weekend.

C.J. Stroud has had a couple of cupcake games and today faces a trickier opponent in Wisconsin. Ohio State should still win comfortably and that’s what I want to see. I want Stroud to dominate this game, make those outstanding ‘wow’ throws but also show he can deliver with accuracy on the intermediate level, progress through reads and prove the basics can match the physical talent.

BYU’s Jaren Hall has really impressed me this year, even in a heavy loss to Oregon last week. I’m eager to see if he can continue to build momentum against a Wyoming team who were blown out by Illinois and needed three overtime periods to beat Tulsa.

Can Will Levis deliver a ‘complete’ game? Can he show off the good aspects of his game and avoid turnovers against Northern Illinois? His next four games after this are Ole Miss (A), South Carolina (H), Mississippi State (H) and Tennessee (A). He’s getting to the crucial point of Kentucky’s schedule and needs to hit a peak soon.

Miami’s offense will probably continue to bore the living daylights out of everyone against Mid Tennessee State. Poor Tyler Van Dyke. Alabama and Bryce Young take on Vanderbilt this week.

UCLA’s Dorian Thompson-Robinson faces struggling Colorado. Stetson Bennett will get another stat-padding day when Georgia take on Kent State. It’s a big game for K.J. Jefferson and Arkansas against Texas A&M.

I don’t have access to Washington vs Stanford but it will be fun and intriguing to see Michael Penix Jr square off against Tanner McKee. I will try and find footage of that game in the coming days.

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Video analysis of the 2023 QB class (so far)

September 20th, 2022 | Written by Rob Staton

This is also available via ‘The Rebuild’ podcast streams

 

The reality of what we’re seeing from the 2023 QB class

September 19th, 2022 | Written by Rob Staton

While watching Seattle’s latest outing against San Francisco, you may have taken comfort in thinking about next years draft.

After all, the media have done a great job telling you it’s a remarkable quarterback class loaded with options.

Unfortunately, after three weeks of the college football season, there are more questions than answers.

Nobody has started in the way Joe Burrow did in 2019 for example. There are some intriguing players but that’s the adjective you’d have to use to describe them. Couched language is necessary at the moment.

I’m afraid to say this is not a group so far that is ‘other worldly’ — as has been portrayed. I want to go beyond the rhetoric of the ‘amazing’ quarterback class and try and describe what’s really going on.

For a variety of reasons the group is yet to really get firing. There’s still time for that to happen — but it has been a bit of an underwhelming start.

At this stage I don’t think we can assume that the antidote to that performance in Santa Clara yesterday — and the future of this team — is going to be readily available next April.

It is still possible though. There’s plenty of time left for fortunes to change and form to be established. There are good quarterbacks (and players at other positions) who will be part of the 2023 draft.

But again — it should be noted that the narrative of this being a mind-blowing class perhaps needs to be toned down.

Here are my quarterback notes from the weekend…

More of the same from Will Levis

Kentucky’s quarterback has a legit chance to be the first quarterback taken. Yet his first three games have been a mixed bag.

Youngstown State were never going to provide the sternest test and so it proved. Levis showed off his amazing physical traits, command of the play-action heavy Shanahan-style offense and ability to make impressive throws from a strong base.

He also had another game where his O-line tried to get him injured (his right tackle is absolutely horrendous) and he threw two more interceptions.

His first pass of the game was a great play-action play. He launched it down the middle for a 27-yard gain. Classic Levis — play-fake, set and throw. It will excite the pro-teams how comfortable he is operating in this system.

Levis’ first two third down plays resulted in sacks. The second was arguably a coverage sack but the reality is it was another four-sack, multiple-hit day. He faces weekly adversity in the pocket that the likes of C.J. Stroud and Bryce Young never encounter.

He showed off his easy arm strength again and can launch a rocket on an in-route 15-30 yards downfield with a little flick of the wrist/arm. He arrows passes into tighter windows and defenders often can’t recover when the receiver separates because Levis is adept at setting, being decisive and getting the ball to the target quickly.

His throwing base and balance is often textbook and when it isn’t — it’s obvious as we’ll discuss in a moment. The positives in terms of technique, his size/frame, his throwing motion, his experience in this offense, his arm strength and the fact he is elevating Kentucky will make him highly attractive to teams and he has arguably the best shot of the 2023 quarterback class to come in and start quickly.

The negative is obvious. He had 13 interceptions last season and it was important to get that number down this year. So far, he has four in three games. Really he only has three because one of those picks was a sack/fumble that looped into the air as he cocked his arm back to throw. Even so — it’s too many.

I will say — I’m not overly concerned by it. There are good and bad interceptions. None of Levis’ are as bad as Anthony Richardson’s (more on him later). Bryce Young has also thrown similar picks to Levis.

I’ll repeat this from my article last week:

— In Patrick Mahomes’ final year at Texas Tech he had a run of six straight games with an interception. He lost seven games in total. He had 25 interceptions in his last two seasons in college.

— In Andrew Luck’s final year at Stanford he ended with a run of six straight games with an interception. He lost two games in his final year despite playing on a loaded Stanford team. He had eight games with 256 passing yards or fewer.

— Josh Allen had 21 interceptions in his final two years in college. He had a completion percentage of just 56.3%. He had three games in 2017 with sub-100 passing yards and he started his final season with six picks in his first seven games.

— Russell Wilson had 25 interceptions in his final two years at NC State. He never had a completion percentage above 60% at NC State. He had 11 games at Wisconsin where he threw 255 yards or fewer — including six sub-200 yard games. He also lost three games in his final season at Wisconsin.

If Levis was being reckless, indecisive, misreading coverages and costing his team games — it would be a worry. I think the reality has been very different.

On his first pick it was a good play by the defender. He tried to look someone off in the red zone, then snap his head back round to the left and throw. It’s a risky play-call because you have to hold the right side for longer than you’d want and then throw almost blind to the slant from the left. The defender stuck in coverage well, the receiver didn’t run through his route and it led to a pick.

Rich Scangarello, who doesn’t mince his words or protect Will Levis during interviews, blamed the receiver for this pick in his post-game interview.

He was critical of Levis for the second pick and rightly so. He doesn’t step into the throw, he’s leaning back and it sails on him. The pass flies over the head of the intended target and it’s an easy interception. That’s bad execution from the QB, poor technique.

Here’s the thing though. Can you teach a quarterback with generally good technique most of the time to make sure he steps into a throw like this to avoid making a similar mistake in the future? Of course. If Levis’ technique was generally bad and he needed his mechanics re-working — that’s a problem. If he doesn’t read a defender and throws it straight to him, that’s a problem.

These picks don’t bother me in terms of draft stock. I want to see Levis throw fewer interceptions, 100%. To me it feels completely fixable though and everything else is really good.

With 6:50 left in the first half he broke away from pressure, set off running and picked up 24-yards. He can do that because he’s an elite athlete. His two passing touchdowns were made to look simple and easy — a whip-route and a fade both in the red zone.

He threw a post with great velocity over the middle and there were multiple examples of him going through progressions and reaching a third target. Few college QB’s do that.

I think a ton of teams needing a quarterback next year are going to look at Levis and feel he has the physical tools, the athleticism, the knowledge of pro-concepts, the technique and the personality to lead their team. And these aspects will outweigh the things he needs to improve. As such, he will be a very high pick.

But there’s no doubt he can play better than he has so far and I can’t say with conviction that he can be ‘special’. I do think, however, that he’s very capable of coming into the league and playing at a reasonable level somewhat quickly.

A final note on this game. The referee misspoke on a penalty and accidentally said, “Piss interference, defense”. It made me chuckle.

Bryce Young had a mixed game

Having led Alabama to a comeback win against Texas with one wonderful quarter of football offsetting three awful quarters, Young had a similar fluctuating performance in a blowout win against UL Monroe.

He threw a terrible interception in the first half. He had all the time in the world in the pocket but decided to scramble anyway. He tried to create something and just lobbed it downfield recklessly. He didn’t come close to giving his receiver a chance to make a play — it just went directly to the defender. It was a hopeless throw-and-hope play.

You can’t make that mistake under no pressure.

Strangely, it benefitted Alabama. Two plays later Will Anderson caught a tipped pass and returned it for a pick-six. Then, on the corresponding series, Alabama blocked a punt and returned it for a touchdown. The pick sparked a 14-0 run.

Young showed off his creative ability as a runner on a scrambling TD, twisting away from two defenders to reach the end zone. He also had another sort-off turnover when he threw incomplete on fourth down. It was a rushed play as they tried to get the snap off before the end of the first quarter. Nobody was ready, Young threw it in a hurry and the receiver was nowhere near it. Careless.

There’s a lot of RPO stuff in Alabama’s scheme which I’m not a huge fan of. It’s going to be a lot harder for Young to read defenders in the NFL than it is at Alabama against these overmatched opponents.

He had a tremendous deep pass down the right side of the field — throwing to his tight end in a favourable matchup. Young showed ideal ball placement and a good arm. On the next play he directed traffic to throw to an uncovering receiver in the end zone.

He had a second interception on an inaccurate pass thrown high and slightly behind. It was tipped and picked off. His third score was a dump-off into the flat and the running back ran for 40 YAC.

There’s no doubt he’s a very naturally talented player. He’s creative and can be very exciting to watch. However — it also has to be noted that he has not started as well as he ended last year. He benefits greatly from superior pass-pro and playing on a loaded team. And there isn’t anyone like him in the league. He is very slight and undersized.

What is his upside? How good can he be? These are very difficult questions to answer.

While it’s very tempting to point to the likes of Kyler Murray as evidence for smaller players succeeding — Young lacks the ‘wow’ factor that Murray had or the unique physical tools. I think Young is better than Tua Tagovailoa was at Alabama — but I’m not sure he has the upside of Murray or Russell Wilson either.

Jaren Hall continues to impress

BYU laid an egg against Oregon (which was disappointing seeing as I took them +4) but despite the lopsided game, Hall actually played quite well.

When I watched his 2021 tape I thought it was underwhelming. I’ve watched all three of his games this season and I like what I’ve seen. He has a good arm (looks better than a year ago), he’s creative, mobile, throws with touch but can put a bit of mustard on things when needed and he lofts passes into good areas similar to Russell Wilson at Wisconsin.

He’s an older player — a year older than even Will Levis. He’ll be a 25-year-old rookie. I don’t think he’s necessarily a first round prospect but this is the problem with quarterback assessment. We only ever tend to talk about players in first round or undraftable terms.

Hall could be a day two type who can stick. He’s intriguing to me. There’s something there.

Tyler Van Dyke is being let down

Not to make excuses for him. He can and should be playing better.

However — I detest the Mario Cristobal offense.

Everything is painfully conservative. Cristobal makes Pete Carroll look like a maverick renegade in terms of balls-to-the-wall high-octane new-age football.

Case in point — they were trailing 17-3 late in the game. They’re in the red zone. They ran on 3rd and goal from about eight yards out and didn’t score. Then kicked a field goal.

I’m not a Miami Hurricanes fan — but I was shouting at the screen at this point.

Over and over again they kept throwing passes behind the line of scrimmage and hoping for YAC. As we saw in Oregon with Cristobal — it’s a whole bunch of runs, screens, slants, extended hand-offs and it’s boring.

When they needed points, they kept kicking. Despite the fact their kicker was having a rough day.

TVD burst onto the scene last season throwing all over the field, regularly topping 300 yards and looking brilliant. Now he struggles to get to 200 yards, doesn’t look remotely comfortable and his draft stock is taking a hammering.

Even so, he still has to do better.

He almost threw an interception on his first drive failing to read the safety properly and throwing to the left front corner of the end zone. His base was poor, he took a big stride forwards to step into the throw which impacted his velocity and he was lucky the safety didn’t pick it off.

He nearly threw another pick to the right sideline. He didn’t step into his throw properly, double clutched just as he did vs Southern Miss last week. He tossed an ugly looking throw and again was fortunate not to turn it over.

There were other times where he missed the target and his radar felt off throughout. He did also suffer from some bad drops (including a particularly egregious flub by the running back on 3rd and 9 on the second drive).

His top receiver and roommate was also injured and out of this game.

It wasn’t all bad and Miami mixed in some good running with the occasional flourish in the passing game. He chucked a nice wheel route to the tight end despite facing heavy pressure.

Yet Cristobal played the entire game like they were leading by three points, not trailing throughout.

I would hate to have him coaching my team. It’s boring. The entire game plan is frustrating and dull. The offense doesn’t attack opponents and is safe. TVD is not thriving in this system, just like Justin Herbert didn’t.

An easy day for C.J. Stroud

A game against Toledo was never going to trouble Stroud but it was an opportunity to show off his physical qualities again.

He flashed wonderful footwork to throw a brilliant post to set up the first touchdown — a red zone shot which is really well caught by Marvin Harrison Jr. He looked brilliant on play-action — dropping, setting and throwing with accuracy, velocity and base.

Stroud had a ‘wow’ touchdown on the move. He scrambled and extended the play then threw from the right side to the one area of the end zone where his receiver could make the catch. It was terrific improv, skill and creativity.

He throws out-routes with impressive ease.

He also had a somewhat dangerous, fortunate downfield shot to Harrison Jr which was almost picked-off but ended up being a big positive play.

His third and fourth scores were an easy red zone touchdown to Harrison Jr who was wide open, then he threw an equally easy red zone pass to Julian Fleming. It was 42-14 at half-time. The fifth touchdown, again, was a very easy wide open throw in the red zone.

It was very easy but also, I suppose, another strong showcase of what he’s capable of. Ohio State don’t have a really difficult game until Michigan in late November. They have some Big-10 games that shouldn’t be difficult (but you never know) against Wisconsin, at Michigan State and at Penn State.

Stroud has a great opportunity to dominate the Heisman conversation and have an undefeated regular season. There’s no doubting the immense physical talent he has. There are special throws in his arsenal. We just need to see him consistently do it against tougher opponents — while improving his processing and intermediate accuracy in those contests.

And that’s the key thing. It’s all well and good doing it against Arkansas State and Toledo. He was ‘off’ against Notre Dame. How will he perform in his more challenging Big-10 contests and, eventually, the playoffs? Consistency and exciting plays in those games will define how high he goes.

Some thoughts on Michael Pennix Jr

Although this is a Seahawks Draft Blog — I’ve never really had Husky or Coug fans pushing for their own.

Until this year.

I’m asked a lot — on Twitter, via email, on YouTube — about Cam Ward (who I haven’t watched) and Pennix Jr.

Firstly, I thought Pennix Jr played very well against Michigan State. Washington haven’t been a fun or interesting team in a long time. They look fun again.

However — let’s not forget that Michigan State had the worst passing defense in college football last season. It looks no better in 2022. They were a fraud being ranked at #11. The good news is — Ken Walker clearly carried that team last year and now he’s in Seattle.

On top of that, Kalen DeBoer’s scheme is very quarterback friendly. He was appointed for his work at Fresno State where he made Jake Haener look good. The design and scheming is terrific, modern and a real positive for UW. They are in good hands.

But I think people are going to start talking up Pennix Jr as a major pro-prospect and we really need to be careful with that. He is a player who achieved very little in four years with Indiana. Last year he had four touchdowns and seven picks before getting hurt. He’s had three major injuries in his career. He’s playing in a system that does a lot of the heavy lifting and doesn’t demand too much from the quarterback in terms of progressions.

He’s in a scheme that is great for quarterbacks and he’s enjoyed playing the opponents he has so far. Right now — I’d suggest just enjoying the games and letting this thing roll.

It’s time to let Anthony Richardson be

Despite all of the impressive physical tools — Richardson isn’t ready for the NFL.

He needs to focus on development this year.

He is yet to throw a touchdown pass and has now delivered four interceptions. He played badly again in a nail-biting Florida win against South Florida. A quick reminder — USF were 28-0 down in the first quarter against BYU two weeks ago.

Richardson did everything he could to help the Bulls pull off an upset.

He threw a dreadful interception on 3rd and 7 with 12:16 remaining in the third quarter. He progressed to his second read and yet I have no idea what he saw to make him think, ‘I’m throwing this’. He chucked it over the middle and didn’t see the defender, who was just stood there waiting to pick it off. It was a horrible mistake and showed the great processing we saw in week one against Utah was a mirage.

The error blew open the game. Florida was in control and suddenly, they were on the ropes.

Then, in an attempted recovery, he helped Florida to first and goal at the five with 7:58 remaining. Richardson tried to throw a back shoulder fade to the left front corner of the end zone. The defender just read it, gained position and intercepted the pass. He needed to throw the pass higher with more loft.

Florida escaped with a 31-28 win because South Florida duly threw a pick of their own and blew a chance to pull off the upset.

Richardson finished 10/18 for 112 yards, a QBR of 11.6 and again he was a non-factor as a runner — going 7/24.

He simply isn’t ready to be talked about as a NFL prospect. He might just be a great athlete, to be honest. We have seen nothing in the last two weeks to think he should even be on the pro-radar. He has the tools, now he needs to become an actual quarterback.

He has a career TD/INT ratio of 7/10. He is off the radar until he plays far better than this. He looks like a player with a handful of starts. At this rate, he might be benched soon.

Closing thoughts

Based on what we’re seeing so far — I’m not convinced Tyler Van Dyke and Anthony Richardson will even declare. That could create a three horse race at the top of the first round involving Levis, Stroud and Young.

A lot of teams need a quarterback and appear to be readying themselves to draft one in 2023.

It’s still far too early to say definitively how easy it’ll be for the Seahawks to find an answer — whether that’s based on how the prospects perform or how many games Seattle wins.

However — based on what we saw in Santa Clara — they are going to need to find impact game-changers who dramatically increase the talent level on this team moving forwards.

The plan to do so — moving on from Wilson, getting a bunch of picks — is sound.

Actually being able to execute is a whole different ball game. Ask the 49ers how easy it is to find a quarterback, after they spent a kings ransom to acquire Trey Lance. Ask the Colts — who go from one tired quarterback option to the next year after year. Ask the Bears — who haven’t had a franchise quarterback in decades.

The assumption that solutions in the draft would be readily available was comforting and helped justify the direction. It might not be quite as simple as some perhaps considered.

As such, Seahawks fans deserve to see more than they did on the field on Sunday. As they try to see a future that involves competitive football again — the baffling trick-plays in the red zone, the poor tackling, the six quarters of scoreless, impotent offense where they struggle to cross half-way (let alone threaten the scoreboard), the inability to game-plan D.K. Metcalf into any kind of role, the missing-in-action running game — it all needs to be far better to warrant faith in this process.

If you missed our post-49ers reaction show, you can watch it here:

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Instant reaction: The real Seahawks stand up

September 18th, 2022 | Written by Rob Staton

The Seahawks celebrated.

And boy, did they celebrate.

The memes. The graphics. The GIF’s. The post-game interviews.

The former team mates gloating.

The smiles, the jubilation.

Nobody thought we could win this game!’

It all felt a bit much for 1/17th of the regular season.

I appreciate it was a big game with meaning. The NFL schedule-makers played a blinder. Russell Wilson’s return was always going to be billed as more than just a game.

I didn’t quite expect the Seahawks to treat it as such, though.

Not to the extent they did.

The push-back for my video in the week wasn’t particularly well received. I wanted to beat the Niners. They’re a fun team to beat.

The risk of an emotional let down was always high after a Monday night opener. Yet it felt the Seahawks, as I said, turned a victory lap into a victory mile.

My fear wasn’t a let-down performance, rather than a melt-down.

Or a beat-down.

And that’s what happened.

The 27-7 scoreline made this one look better than it was.

This was a thoroughly miserable experience.

The tackling was generally awful on defense again. There were blown coverages. A lot of the same defensive issues we’ve seen in previous years were present once more. There’s no obvious pass-rushing plan and players you want to see step up (Darrell Taylor) aren’t getting it done.

On offense, they’ve now not scored a single point in six quarters. That first-half flourish against Denver looks like a mirage. It appears to be the benefit of weeks of scripting and preparing — or Denver being rubbish. Maybe both.

The Seahawks came into the season with Pete Carroll declaring they were ‘going to run the heck out of the ball’. Two games in and they can’t run. Teams don’t respect the pass, they load up the box and attack. All very predictable.

Geno Smith can complete the odd pass but, remarkably, he is still Geno Smith. They also seemingly have no idea — short of a miraculous trick-play that was brought back due to a rookie error — how to game-plan D.K. Metcalf into relevance.

When they get into the red zone, they opt to run back-to-back ‘wildcat’ snaps and ask Deejay Dallas to throw the ball (with a predictable result).

I’ve said countless times this year. My expectations couldn’t be lower for the 2022 season. But can we please avoid nonsense like that trick play?

It was embarrassingly bad.

I’m ready for a basic brand of football. I can live with Pete-ball.

But let’s actually do it.

And as part of the bargain — the bargain that means low expectations — I want to avoid dumb decisions, missed tackles, ill-disciplined and ill-timed penalties, I want to see something that resembles ‘different’ on defense and signs of development.

I don’t want to see Nick Bosa unblocked over and over again (whose idea was that?).

I suppose you could cling to a silver-lining that it could’ve been worse. Certainly, there’s absolutely no justification that a blocked field goal could get the Seahawks back in this game. Yet San Francisco’s inability to finish things earlier kept things somewhat alive.

But there’s no hope — none — that when this team puts itself in a hole they’ll be able on offense to claw things back.

It’s also a legit concern that an offense looking this bad will develop anyone.

They finished with 210 total yards — 38 of which came in garbage time at the end. A further 56 yards came in garbage time at the end of the first half. Theoretically, they produced the grand total of 116 meaningful yards today.

Losing this game isn’t the problem. Losing this way kind of is.

They wrote me off, I aint write back though

Nobody thought we could win this game

The Seahawks might’ve won the only game they really care about in week one. This afternoon in California was a glimpse into the future. What we will need to endure for most of 2022.

I’m ready for it. Are others?

And if we’re going to do this, can we have honest and open conversations about it along the way? Because it’s not just about getting through one year. It’s about whether the people building this team, organising this team, putting this together are truly right for the task.

A performance like this, for me, makes it a conversation we should have as we go along.

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Curtis Allen’s week two watchpoints (vs San Francisco)

September 18th, 2022 | Written by Rob Staton

This is a guest article by Curtis Allen. After the game today tune into the instant reaction live stream which will be available on here and on our YouTube channel

Fact:  Pete Carroll has never had a losing season against the NFC West in his Seahawks tenure.

How has he been able to maintain such an impressive stretch of success?  Answer:  He gets to play the San Francisco 49ers twice a year.

Every team has a nemesis and Pete Carroll and the Seahawks have been the Niners’ kryptonite for a whole decade.  In their last 20 matchups, the Seahawks have won an incredible 17 of those games.

And what is more –  the three losses?

One was by two points.

Another was by three points in overtime.

The third?  By 5 points.  But really, it was more like 5 inches.

It is as good a record of success in a head-to-head matchup over a ten-year period as any we are likely to see.  And 49er fans know it.

A brief anecdote, if you will allow it.  I was able to fly to San Francisco for the Week 10 Monday Night game in 2019.  The Niners were 8-0 and were delivering on their promise after a 4-12 season the year prior.  The Seahawks were 7-2 and needed to win to keep pace.

The atmosphere in the stadium was electric.  Both teams came to play.  

As you recall, it was a game of punches and counterpunches.  The Seahawk offense sputtered early but were gifted 7 points by Jadeveon Clowney recovering a fumble for a touchdown.  

The Niners responded by stripping D.K. Metcalf of the ball at the 1-yard line as he reached for the goal line.  And so on and so forth.

They had a replacement kicker who heroically tied the game with a clutch field goal as time expired, then blew a chance to win the game in overtime with the worst kick I have ever seen in person.

After that, everyone in the stadium knew what was coming next.  But they were forced to watch it unfold and could not look away.  Russell Wilson led a game-winning drive that slowly drained the life out of the home fans in the stadium like Chinese water torture.  As Jason Meyers kicked the winning field goal, Wilson and the Seahawks danced on the field in delight.

A perfect season, a chance to put the division in a headlock and for one moment the golden opportunity to finally wipe the smug smile off that gum-chewing so-and-so’s face had been snatched from them in painful fashion.

It just became too much to bear for one Niner fan exiting the stadium.  He was quietly walking by himself a few steps in front of my friends and I, shoulders slumped in exhausted grief.  Then, out of nowhere, he decided he had had enough.  With an energy that came from deep down inside, he mustered everything he had and shouted with all his might “F*** PETE CARROLL !!” at the top of his lungs into the void.  He took a breath, slumped his shoulders once again and resumed walking quietly.

Causing that kind of existential dread in your opponent’s fanbase is not something that happens every day.  The Seahawks need to do their level best keep making Niner fans shaking their heads well into 2023.

While the Seahawks have been typically dominated by the Rams and split with the Cardinals, seeing the 49ers on the schedule – even with the talent on their roster and in the coaches’ room – is a welcome sight.  If the Seahawks want to keep that division record streak alive, they are going to have to win Sunday.  Which begs the question…

How Have They Been Doing It?

Oddly enough the Niners had a near-identical performance in a loss against Chicago in Week One that Denver had against the Seahawks.  Both the Broncos and the Niners:

-Ran the ball effectively

-Outgained their opponent by over 100 yards

-Possessed the ball almost exactly 7 minutes more than their opponent

-Converted nearly 50% of their third downs

Those are normally the prime ingredients of a solid win.  How did they both lose their games then?  

They both:

-Got flagged an ugly 12 times

-Gave up a busted-coverage touchdown from a quarterback scrambling

-Lost the turnover battle 2-1

That is precisely how the Seahawks beat Denver on Monday and how Chicago beat San Francisco on Sunday.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is in one snapshot exactly why the Seahawks are 5-1 against the Niners in their last six games.

San Francisco has consistently outgained the Seahawks in yards.  They have also accrued more penalties and turned the ball over more times than the Seahawks have.

This, oddly enough, is where the Seahawks’ defensive formula of conceding a ton of yards, keeping the game in front of them and stiffening in the red zone works for them.  The opposing offense is on the field so often, they are bound to make a mistake sooner or later, be it by running out of downs, taking a drive-killing penalty or committing a turnover.

That is why Jimmy Garoppolo is on the bench in favor of Trey Lance.  Until Trey Lance matures, forcing him into a place where he cannot make many explosive plays, so rather he needs to make very good decisions play after play after play will continue to be an important part of their success.

Of course, it only works to their advantage if the Seahawks continue to play a cleaner game than the Niners…

Play Smart

They beat Denver Monday by being far better in this area.  But let’s be right:  Denver set a low, low bar.  Between twelve flags, two back-breaking turnovers, some bad Russell Wilson throws and a bone-headed decision to try an NFL-record field goal instead of giving your new quarterback a chance to be the hero, it would be easy to overlook the areas where the Seahawks need to improve.

D.K. Metcalf had a fumble that Denver recovered.  Rashaad Penny got stripped at the end of a brilliant run (thankfully Austin Blythe was hustling downfield and fell on the ball).  Geno Smith got strip-sacked and the Seahawks recovered the ball.  He also did not execute a quarterback sneak very well on 4th and inches.  Tariq Woolen gave up 52 yards on two pass interference flags.  Both safeties had chances to intercept the ball and failed to make the game-changing play.

There are many opportunities for improvement.

And not to hammer the obvious once again but when you do not have a field-tilting franchise quarterback who can pull the game out late in the fourth quarter to cover over all those early-game mistakes, the impact of those bad plays is magnified.

They will need to be sharper on both sides of the ball if they are to beat San Francisco Sunday.

As well they will need a real commitment to being the superior ground team…

Beat Them On the Ground

The Seahawks have consistently been the better team in their matchup when it comes to running the football.  While San Francisco has gotten more yards in the passing game (and therefore more overall yards), the Seahawks have been consistently been able to stick it to them by running the ball far more effectively.

How much better?  In those last 6 games they have on average run for 30 more yards than the Niners.  They have topped 100 yards rushing as a team in all 6 of those games, whereas San Francisco has only been able to do it twice.

Both teams are seriously committed to the run game.  There really is no difference in how often they choose to run when playing each other.  The Seahawks have just been more efficient, and therefore better, running an average of 4.25 yards per carry, where the Niners can only muster 3.75 yards.

This is where their model really works.  30 more yards rushing than your opponent in every game means more possession time.  Which puts more pressure on the Niner offense to move down the field quickly when they finally do get the ball.  Which is all the more frustrating when the Seahawks have built a defense to not get built deep and forces you to eat clock while you dink and dunk down the field.  Which the Niners have struggled to do without a top quarterback at the helm.  It is like being slowly suffocated by a snake coiled around its prey.

It is a trap that the Niners fall into time and time again.

Of course, there is no assurance the Seahawks will be able to do this again on Sunday.  They have to earn it.

Rashaad Penny at times looked like he was just a break here or there from resuming his torrid play on Monday.  However, the Seahawks only gave him 12 carries against the Broncos.  While he did get 60 yards, they were hard earned.  Penny only recorded 11 total yards before contact.  That means on overage he had less than a yard per carry before he was contacted by a defender.  Denver did an excellent job on the interior of the line keeping Penny from getting into gear.

It may be tough sledding again this week.  David Montgomery is a good inside runner and could not get much going against the Niner defense.  On the bright side, perhaps the Seahawks will get Damien Lewis and Ken Walker back from injury this week.

Whatever the case, the Seahawk offense is going to really need the running game to be effective.

On the flip side, that also means containing the Niners’ run game.

Elijah Mitchell will not play Sunday after sustaining an injury.  That likely means that Deebo Samuel and Trey Lance will be the focus of their ground game.

Let’s look at Deebo’s carries Sunday against the Bears.  What do you see from his run chart?  He was primarily attacking the edges of the defense:

If they want to continue that trend, that is going to be a real challenge for the Seahawks . 

Pete Carroll identified that on Wednesday when asked about defending the run against Denver:

“We were not consistent.  We gave up too many plays on the edge and it wasn’t as good as it needed to be.”  

His body language, short answer and wanting to move along to the next question said more than his words did.  He expected better play there on Monday.

Samuel is so hard to defend in the run game because of his unique blend of speed and toughness.  Watch him get to the edge Sunday before Al-Quadin Muhammad – who practically has a free release – can even get set (and give Eddie Jackson a serious pop at the goal line just for good measure).

This is where the change to a 3-4 defense really needs to work.  In a 4-3 the edge players are bigger and more physical.  In the 3-4 they are quicker to get to the outside and keep the runners from exploiting those wide edges like Samuel did on that touchdown run.  Nwosu, Taylor, and Mafe will need to have an active game and help reroute runners inside where players like Jordyn Brooks are waiting for them.

Thankfully, they will get some edge support from the corners in the running game.  Watch Tariq Woolen knock KJ Hamler on his butt and show no hesitance about going head on with Javonte Williams on Monday.

I am delighted that the hard-nosed physicality I saw in Woolen in practice is showing up when the games count.  The defense definitely showed more intensity Monday night than we saw in 2021.  Here is hoping it continues.

What about Trey Lance’s rushes?  He had 13 of the Niners’ 37 rushes on Sunday.  Six of those rushes gained first downs for the offense.  I watched them all.  I would say half those runs were scrambles to escape pressure, a quarter were designed runs, and the rest were ‘if your first read is not there and there is an opening, go’ type options.

This was his first game as the unquestioned starter and with the inclement weather, Kyle Shanahan gave him a simpler plan to work with.  He took 51 of the 67 snaps from shotgun formation and Shanahan called for several quick throws and the option to take off and run.

The inside defensive lineman must be effective in order to defend Lance.  If they keep him hemmed in, his inexperience may really shine through if his first read is not available and there is no hole to escape to.  More than once on Sunday the Bears were able to frustrate him into dumping the ball off for minimal gains or poor off-schedule throws that missed their target (9 of his 28 throws were classed Bad Throws by PFR).

Again, this is where the 3 of the 3-4 should be advantageous.  Al Woods, Poona Ford, Bryan Mone and Quentin Jefferson should be able to control the gaps.  They did not accomplish this very well against the Broncos.  Their PFF scores for Monday were far below the standard they need to be.  Nobody broke a 60 in run defense or pass rushing except Mone who graded a 70, albeit in only 4 pass rush snaps.

The Seahawks have a fair chunk of cap invested there.  They need a better return on Sunday.

The front seven will need to be very, very sharp as a group.  Last Sunday, Samuel averaged 4.3 yards before contact on his runs.  Elijah Mitchell averaged 4.7.  Those are insane numbers.  The best full-time runners in the NFL usually average about 2.4-2.6 yards before contact over the season.

They demonstrate the blocking and scheming prowess that Kyle Shanahan and the offensive line bring to the table.

A reasonable expectation would be the front seven cut those numbers in half.  While that seems to be a high bar to set, history tells us that Pete Carroll and the defense have not only been able to reach it against San Francisco but to clear it with room to spare.  Here is hoping they will be able to do that on Sunday and leave Niner fans in despair once again.

 

College football open thread & notes (week 3)

September 17th, 2022 | Written by Rob Staton

Here are the games I am planning to watch over the weekend:

Youngstown vs Kentucky
UL Monroe vs Alabama
South Florida vs Florida
Miami vs Texas A&M
Washington vs Michigan State

Quarterback watch

Sadly I don’t have access to BYU vs Oregon but this is the game I wanted to watch (along with Miami vs Texas A&M). Jaren Hall doesn’t have the stature or the traits to warrant first round consideration. Yet there’s something about his game which is intriguing. I mentioned this week that some of his throws — in terms of loft, placement and touch — are reminiscent of Russell Wilson at Wisconsin.

He led his team to a big win against Baylor last week and Oregon will be a reasonable test on the road. I think if you’re looking for mid-round alternatives to the big name 2023 eligible QB’s, Hall is possibly the one to keep an eye on.

Will Levis shouldn’t have too much bother handling Youngstown and by the time I get home from work, he might already be sat on the bench relaxing. I’ll have the replay of Kentucky’s latest game to watch back at some point over the weekend to see if he can pad the stats and get into a good groove against an overmatched opponent.

It’ll be a similar story for Bryce Young as Alabama take on UL Monroe. I’ll watch that game until Young inevitably takes a seat.

South Florida vs Florida intrigues me because it’s a chance for Anthony Richardson to bounce back from the adversity of last week. I watched South Florida’s game against BYU this week to watch Jaren Hall and they were 28-0 down in the first quarter. Thus, this is the ideal chance for Richardson to hit back.

Tyler Van Dyke’s game against Texas A&M is box office viewing. The Aggies lost to Appalachian State last week and will be eager to bounce back. This is a team that has pumped resources into its facilities, Head Coach and recruiting class (they just had the best ever ranked recruiting class). Losing back-to-back games will be unfathomable. Yet Miami are sufficiently solid and have a top quarterback — so they have every chance to win (and TVD has ever chance to bolster his stock).

C.J. Stroud’s Ohio State face Toledo in another showcase for their talented QB. Can he throw some more of those gorgeous passes we saw last week?

The struggling Spencer Rattler, who should be off the NFL radar by this point, gets the pleasure of facing Georgia today. Is Stetson Bennett worthy of mid-to-late round consideration? He’s had a good start and while he lacks physical prowess, he’s more agile and shifty in the pocket than you realise.

UCLA’s Dorian Thompson-Robinson shouldn’t be troubled by South Alabama. There’s no game for Stanford and Tanner McKee — they next face Washington in a week. Arkansas and K.J. Jefferson should make short work of Missouri State.

I’ll have notes up on the blog ASAP. Also stay tuned for Curtis’ latest watch-notes on the Niners game.

And if you missed it yesterday, here’s my 49ers preview with the always brilliant Rob ‘Stats’ Guerrera…

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Seahawks vs 49ers preview with Rob ‘Stats’ Guerrera

September 16th, 2022 | Written by Rob Staton

 

Some voiced concerns about Seahawks fandom

September 16th, 2022 | Written by Rob Staton

It’s certainly not advisable to critique a fanbase. I’m going against my better judgement here and anticipate what the response will be.

But I kind of just want to say it anyway.

I think Seahawks fandom has become a little bit toxic.

I’ve said this a few times, especially when I’ve been joined by fellow Brit Adam Nathan on live streams. It feels very similar to Arsene Wenger’s final days as the manager of Premier League side Arsenal.

The fans were split between two camps — ‘Wenger IN’ and ‘Wenger OUT’.

It tore them apart, really. Everyone picked a side and went to war online.

It’s been four years since Wenger’s departure and Arsenal are only really starting to move on from the trauma.

I’m a little bit worried that something similar is brewing with Seahawks fans. Not that I expect to achieve anything to stop it by writing this opinion. I just wanted to share some thoughts on the matter.

I doubt things will ever get quite as bad as the Wenger situation. There does seem to be a split developing though between those viewing the Seahawks with a critical (not negative) eye and those who do not want to consider non-glowing viewpoints.

I’ve noticed it this week. There are a group of fans out there who seem to think anything short of constant praise and belief is a criminal offence.

Maybe it’s an overreaction based on my own experience? Perhaps. This is a short review of what has happened over the last year or so.

From 2020 onwards I was very critical of the direction of the Seahawks and anticipated a big problem with Russell Wilson was developing that would eventually lead to a split. This received a huge backlash, led to a ton of abuse including someone sending me the following message:

Hey rob. Your stupid is amazing. Don’t let your daughter to turn out same way otherwise she will become a prostitute. Even if you are stupid its not too late for your daughter.

People questioned my mental health. I had people threatening to hack my Twitter account. One guy spent several months emailing me abuse. I spent an age moderating the comments, which often led to further blowback when people accused me of being overly protective of my own views.

Then — the Wilson trade happened. I spoke positively about the fact a call had to be made one way or another for the franchise to move forwards — and it had been made. I jumped into the draft content and received a completely different, more positive, response. Then, after the 2022 draft, I gave the Seahawks a glowing review — including this video:

That A+ review of the draft class — even though I was personally not the biggest Charles Cross fan — gave me the most views my channel has had. I got a lot of positive feedback on the coverage of the draft and the look ahead to 2023 I’d already started.

During the pre-season, I thought areas of Seattle’s roster and their depth were exposed. I also thought they’d made poor use of their available cap space. So I talked about these issues. The abuse started to trickle back in.

It seemed to be forgotten that I’d said numerous times that I was just going to get what I could out of the 2022 season and enjoy it whenever possible. I had no expectations. I knew it was year-one of a rebuild. If watching the 2023 quarterback class was the most exciting part of the year, so be it.

I wasn’t writing-off the Seahawks. I just had incredibly low expectations. I think that was fair. I never once suggested I wanted them to tank. I simply didn’t want them to splurge resources on a mediocre QB (Mayfield, Garoppolo etc) to try and be a marginally better team.

They avoided that and I praised them for it.

I didn’t rate Geno Smith as a player and I still don’t think he will amount to much this season. I don’t wish him any ill-will or want him to fail. I simply have what I’d call a fair and hardly unique opinion based on what we’ve seen from him over the years.

Yet for some reason — this stance just earned the tag of ‘hater’ or ‘non-believer’.

I predicted a Seahawks win against the Broncos. They did win — but I haven’t really been able to enjoy any aspect of it because I’ve received a ton of messages suggesting I’m either disappointed they won or been proven wrong.

When I then voiced some modest concerns that so much had gone into that game that it had all the hallmarks of a classic emotional let-down against the Niners (and I love to beat the Niners and really want to do it again on Sunday) — the abuse started up once more.

Look at this thread on a Seahawks forum.

I know — the internet is full of stuff like this and I shouldn’t read too much into it. I’d also say — until you’ve experienced a four-page thread that is very personal about you (especially in relation to your fandom for a team and abilities) — it’s hard to realise how tricky it is to ignore.

Included in the thread, the following is suggested:

— I secretly want the team to fail
— That I have sour grapes because the team I follow religiously, won
— I don’t understand anything about the team
— I’m a ‘smarmy know-it-all douchnozzle’
— I have a vested interest in failure to justify calling my podcast ‘The Rebuild’
— All of my videos are ‘doom and gloom’ (see, A+ draft grade above)
— I think I’m smarter than everyone else
— I’m a mostly average football analyst
— When the Seahawks don’t draft the players I like, I hammer the team
— That I ban anyone who disagrees
— I was confident Geno Smith & Seattle had no chance vs Denver (see: prediction)
— I don’t mention the mistakes I make in the draft
— Apparently I get upset when people call me Rob ‘StaNton’
— I am a wanker

I had a lot of similar comments on the YouTube channel, although many of those preferred to question my fandom.

I don’t think any of this is particularly warranted. It’s also not my first rodeo. The job I do in broadcasting means a degree of abuse, assumptions, implied motives or agendas come with the territory. You’ll never please everybody.

I struggle with this a bit more, however, given ultimately this is a hobby. I am just a Seahawks fan with an interest in the draft who happens to also be an experienced journalist.

A lot of what is written above doesn’t resonate. I can live with name-calling as much as I can live with people not rating the blog or much enjoying it. I don’t think my videos are doom and gloom — I think I just give my opinion and it’s neither positive or negative. It can be either. Isn’t that the way it’s supposed to be?

I don’t think I’ve ever hammered the team for not drafting players I like. I’ve questioned and critiqued some decisions, which is fair given the run of drafts they had not so long ago. I’ve been more critical of the way they’ve approached free agency and the specific positions they’ve targeted in the draft. When I get things wrong, I always highlight it. I flat out apologised after the 2020 draft for not doing enough study on linebackers after they drafted Jordyn Brooks early — something I never anticipated.

I’ve defended the Dee Eskridge pick, despite a lot of people hating that selection. I think it’s obvious their drafting has been better recently.

I never want the team to fail. You don’t stay up until 5am on a Monday night/Tuesday morning to want your team to lose, just so you can ‘ya boo sucks’ everyone about Geno Smith.

The most successful period for this blog — financially and in terms of numbers — was 2013/14. It was also a period without much bickering or abuse. So I have no interest in the Seahawks being bad, either for the blog or for proving anyone wrong.

I don’t think I’m smarter than everyone else. I think I invest more time than most watching college football players and draft prospects and that enables me to have more informed opinions sometimes. But ultimately, I’ve never considered myself an ‘expert’ and that’s why, come draft time, I try to interview ‘experts’ who are in a better position to discuss certain topics.

I think getting big names like Scot McCloughan, Jim Nagy, Will Levis, Shelby Harris, Jim Leavitt, Tony Pauline and Mike Florio to talk is indicative of that desire to speak to more knowledgable people. Interviews with all are available on my YouTube channel and via ‘The Rebuild’ podcast.

I don’t think this is an ‘average’ place for draft coverage though. I think, while I’ll never get everything right (far from it) — I’ve had my fair share of success stories over the years and I do think this is a good resource for draft coverage and Seahawks opinions.

This has become a bit navel-gaze-y and about me but I don’t think I’m alone in this. I think something unsavoury is going on where a ‘with us or against us’ line is being drawn.

For example, I noticed over the last week how it seemed that some people completely turned on Russell Wilson.

Personally — I wouldn’t have booed him. Neither did I have any real issue with fans doing what they thought was best to help the team win on Monday.

Yet I’ve seen people start to imply things that simply don’t chime, then attack people for holding different (more positive) opinions.

Here’s a comment made on the blog earlier today:

I would disagree that ego has not prevented winning. I think it’s RW’s ego that urges him to dominate the defense, rather than take what the defense gives him. A great quarterback picks the defense apart. RW too often stepped to the line determined to throw deep, regardless of the coverage, rather than take the short throw, hit the open man. Those aren’t the glory throws, and RW wanted the glory, the legacy, the brand. Over the years it became almost all ego with RW, masked by “positive thinking” and striving for excellence. He’s good enough, or was (did you see how underthrown the Jeudy pass was?) that he made a lot of beautiful completions. He just didn’t make enough of the other throws that would have taken the defense out of their game. If the will to dominate others isn’t ego, what is? I’m grateful for years of exciting Seahawk football with RW at quarterback, but he and the team have been sorely limited by his increasing preoccupation with himself and his place in the quarterback pantheon.

This, quite frankly, is just utter nonsense.

Wilson had a preferred style of play that was very different to Pete Carroll’s. Their ideologies clashed. They both had strong opinions on the best way to proceed offensively.

Wilson also felt he deserved to have the kind of input and sway other highly paid franchise quarterbacks were receiving and pushed for the same kind of presence. Pete Carroll is also very confident in his way of doing things and stands by his philosophy.

I imagine there was also a sense of time passing for Wilson. He has lofty ambitions, he’s 34 in November and he knows time is of the essence. I suspect he lost confidence in the Seahawks’ top brass to help deliver a Championship.

Both parties were comfortable, in the end, in moving on and having a fresh start. The Seahawks, as is widely known, had been looking around at other quarterbacks. I sense John Schneider tired of Mark Rodgers a long time ago and was probably ready to not have to deal with him. I would also guess Pete Carroll, nearing the end of his career, was less keen on making a change for obvious reasons.

Schneider talked to the Bears a year ago but no deal was struck, reportedly because Carroll said no. This year, all three parties agreed a parting was best.

We don’t need to cook up conspiracy theories, apportion blame or create stories here. The two parties had been drifting for a long time and now they move on.

Nobody was going to be proven ‘right’ by the result of 1/17th of a NFL regular season on Monday. That will be decided years down the line.

But even daring to pushback against the idea that Wilson is a ‘villain’ and Carroll the ‘hero’ had you pigeonholed as anti-Seahawks.

‘With Wilson, against us’.

In reality — I want Carroll to succeed because it means the Seahawks will. I also don’t hold any grudges against Wilson. I’d quite like a high first round pick off the Broncos next year — but that aside, they are an irrelevance to me until they play Seattle again (whenever that may be).

A lot of us are simply passionate Seahawks fans, with big views. Some positive, some negative. But nothing brings me greater joy than a trip to Seattle to watch the team — aside from perhaps watching England at a major tournament (or in Milan against Italy, as I’ll be doing next Friday).

Fanbase battle-lines are being drawn and I don’t think it does anyone any good.

What is wrong with a balanced take that considers positives and negatives? Even if sometimes there are more negatives and sometimes there are more positives?

Or, for that matter, what is wrong with differing opinions and polite (if sometimes robust) discourse?

I’m pretty sure writing these words will have zero impact and might even make the situation worse (at least for this blog). I felt like I wanted to write them anyway and I feel better for doing so.

Check out my stream with Rob ‘Stats’ Guerrera previewing the Niners game: