The injuries are mounting in Seattle

August 16th, 2019 | Written by Rob Staton

Ziggy Ansah has suffered a setback and has a minor groin strain. Mike Iupati has suffered a recurrence of his calf injury. Jordan Simmons has had another knee surgery.

L.J. Collier was already out with an unusual foot sprain and George Fant has an ankle injury. Jarran Reed is suspended for the first six games of the season.

The running back depth is being tested. Bo Scarborough has a groin injury. C.J. Prosise, in a shocking turn of events, has been hurt most of the pre-season. Travis Homer only recently returned to practise this week.

The issues are growing and most of the problems are focused on the trenches.

Thankfully the Seahawks have enough talent on the O-line to make up for losing their left guard. The presence of Duane Brown, Justin Britt, D.J. Fluker and Germain Ifedi should keep things rolling. The injuries present an opportunity for Ethan Pocic to finally take a step forward after two and a bit years of underwhelming play. It’s now or never for Pocic.

The problems on the D-line, however, are more pressing.

Ansah is clearly talented and has had some dominant spells in his career. He also picks up injuries. He’s already returning from a shoulder problem and now he has a groin strain. Hopefully it really is a minor setback like Pete Carroll suggested earlier today. It’s concerning though because the pass rush is going to rely on his ability to make an impact.

Collier’s out and there should be modest expectations for his rookie season anyway. Jacob Martin is a nice complimentary piece to the rotation but isn’t a full-time starting threat. It’s impossible to have any faith in Rasheem Green until he starts to flash in real games.

Barkevious Mingo might not make the cut…

It has to be a concern. The Seahawks are well set on offense with a nice blend of youth and experience. They found their identity again last year and mixed in a productive running game with explosive plays by the quarterback. The defense is populated with extreme talent at linebacker and a good bunch of young players in the secondary.

You do need to be able to rush the passer though and have a decent rotation on the D-line. The setback for Ansah and existing injury for Collier has to raise some concern.

It’s starting to feel like they need to do something.

The big talk this week has been about Jadeveon Clowney. Multiple reports are indicating he’s available for trade. The question is simply whether anyone’s willing to pay a reasonable price for a player who must play on the franchise tag in 2019 and can’t be extended until next year.

It’s a difficult situation for all concerned. How far are you willing to go for a possible rental? The Texans meanwhile have to decide between getting ‘something’ in 2020 vs waiting it out for a likely third-round compensatory pick in 2021 (while hoping Clowney is actually willing to return and play this season).

Both the Seahawks and Texans have previous here.

Seattle wasted a second round pick in 2017 for a season of Sheldon Richardson. The Texans also endured an ugly hold-out with Duane Brown in the same year. He was so determined to leave Houston he gave up millions to hold-out. They eventually traded him for a second and third round pick. It felt expensive at the time but Seattle has had a great solution at left tackle for going on two years and the Texans have had a black-hole at the position ever since.

Like Brown, is Clowney prepared to give up millions of dollars to force a trade? And if so — are they better just getting what they can now to move on? Or do they wait this out, deal with the drama and settle on a future comp pick?

Brock Huard tweeted the following out earlier:

If the Seahawks are looking for a reference, they appear to have the perfect man in the building.

Yet they’ll also be looking at a huge haul of 2020 picks next year and contemplating that luxury after two years of draft penny-pinching. Seattle is building a team. Is now the time to be aggressive? You can make a case for or against very easily. There’s no right or wrong answer. Russell Wilson is the highest paid player in the NFL and it’s time to make his prime years count. At the same time, a lot of their previous bold moves haven’t worked.

If it’s not Clowney it might need to be someone else. Is there a cheaper trade target or someone like Nick Perry who they might take a look at in a couple of pre-season games? You’re then balancing out something/anything against a potential dynamo like Clowney.

It’d be a real shame to undermine the talent at other positions with a weak pass rush.

The game against Minnesota might be a deciding factor. A good performance there might be the clincher to hold tight with what they’ve got. If certain players struggle, a big call might need to be made.

With the injuries mounting though — I think we can all agree that it might be best if the Seahawks have a similar plan to the Denver game and hold out their most important veterans.

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Would the Seahawks trade for Jadeveon Clowney?

August 13th, 2019 | Written by Rob Staton

Back in May I wrote an article considering the possibility of a Jadeveon Clowney trade. This was before Seattle signed Ziggy Ansah.

In the last 24 hours multiple reports have suggested the Texans are ready to deal Clowney. It’s starting to feel inevitable he’ll move on before the start of the season.

Make no mistake — he’s a fantastic player.

In the last three years he’s accumulated 54 TFL’s. In 2017 his 21 TFL’s ranked #2 in the league and in 2016 he led the NFL with 17. Last year he had 16 but only ranked at #11.

In comparison, Frank Clark had only 11 TFL’s in 2018 and had 32 over the last three seasons.

This video from Brett Kollmann further highlights how effective Clowney has been in Houston:

So what are the chances of the Seahawks being one of the teams to show interest?

They pride themselves on being ‘in’ on every deal so if Clowney is being shopped, there’s a decent chance they’ve at least assessed their options. They currently have about $24m in available cap space this year and they have plenty next year too so that’s not a problem. They also possess a haul of 2020 draft picks including two second and third rounders.

The roster looks deep across the board with the only major question mark being the pass rush. The Seahawks aren’t a million miles away from being seriously competitive and Clowney has the kind of game-wrecking talent they lack on the defensive line (unless Ansah can rekindle his best form).

He’s also only 26-years-old. Any deal for Clowney could secure a player ready to enter his prime much in the way Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett did from 2013 onwards.

A pass rush of Clowney and Ansah complimented by L.J. Collier and Jacob Martin would potentially address Seattle’s greatest need and set them up for another Championship window.

So why wouldn’t they make the move?

There are a few reasons.

Firstly — the Texans appear determined to add a left tackle. They’ve been short at the position since trading Duane Brown. They need to protect Deshaun Watson. Any Clowney trade likely needs to provide an obvious solution to this problem.

With Trent Williams and the Redskins currently in a stand-off — a swap of players would make legitimate sense for all concerned. Both teams would address key needs and both would be removing a headache from their roster.

You don’t often see many player-for-player trades though. It’s also possible Washington and Houston will value their players differently. The Texans might need to trade Clowney first for picks and then offer some of the stock to Washington for Williams. Regardless, swapping Clowney for Williams could interest both teams.

Secondly — this will be a really difficult deal to pull off. The deadline has passed for Clowney to sign a long-term extension this year per the rules of the franchise tag. Any potential buyer will have to wait until the off-season and run the risk of losing him in free agency. For that reason, it’ll likely have a big impact on how teams value a trade. Yet the Texans equally aren’t going to want to give him away. Finding a fair level of compensation will be tricky for any team looking to part with picks.

It’s worth noting though that his salary will be between $19-21m if he’s franchised again in 2020. That’s about the going rate for a top pass rusher. The tag would provide security for a buying team in a trade and likely set the table for a long term extension. His contract status isn’t prohibitive in this instance — it’s just hard to make a deal for a player you’re only guaranteed to have for one or two seasons. When the Chiefs traded a 2019 first and a 2020 second rounder for Frank Clark — they immediately extended his contract to protect the investment. Does a buyer get a discount on Clowney because they can’t act? And are the Texans willing to accept anything less than the Clark trade compensation?

Thirdly — the Seahawks appear to be turning over a new leaf. They were very aggressive at the end of the LOB era. They traded for Brown at left tackle (a success) and for Sheldon Richardson (not so much) and lost serious draft stock for consecutive years. Now they’ve finally got a haul of picks waiting in 2020. The entire roster has been energised by a youth movement. Continuing to acquire young talent appears to be the approach rather than returning to bold veteran trades.

While there’s clearly an issue with the pass rush it also seems they’re willing to try and manage the situation. Carroll admitted, somewhat frankly, they were ‘looking for the blitzer’s’ against Denver. Finding ways to create pressure without relying on the rushers might be their aim. Whether it works or not remains to be seen — yet Seattle’s defense wasn’t a massive liability in 2018 with a similar problem. They relied on Frank Clark and Jarran Reed for pressures. Clark has gone but Reed will return after six weeks of the regular season. Ansah has provided a cheap solution to Clark, albeit on a temporary basis.

The Seahawks seemingly didn’t show any interest in Gerald McCoy or Mike Daniels after they were made available despite having the cap room to make a move. A big splash, weeks before the season, seems a bit more 2013-2017 than 2018-19.

Even so, there’s one more thing to consider. Listen to the audio below and fast-forward to 10:45…

Brock Huard says the defensive and offensive linemen went 1v1 at training camp yesterday. Usually this is a drill that suits the D-liners. Huard states there was only one clean win for the defense in the session (a concern).

He goes on to say Duane Brown dominated, that Jacob Martin had a rough outing, that Cassius Marsh had a couple of decent rushes and that Poona Ford and Jarran Reed bull-rushed competently. Overall it was poor from the pass rushers though and he ended the piece by emphasising Barkevious Mingo in particular had a ‘tough day’.

Gregg Bell at the TNT also wrote about Mingo here:

Mingo’s pass-rush drill Tuesday wasn’t much better than his subpar one Monday. Or his one from Sunday. Actually, it was worse.

On consecutive snaps, Mingo got thrown to the ground by an offensive lineman, starter and reserve alike.

The first time reserve guard Jordan Roos pushed down Mingo to the grass when the end tried to loop inside on a two-man stunt. The second face plant came when starting right tackle Germain Ifedi rode Mingo out wide, out wider than basically belly-flopped onto his back and pushed him prone into the turf.

You have to wonder if witnessing that drill might ignite interest in a potential deal for Clowney (or to bolster the pass rush in other ways).

It really comes down to their desire to build this thing slowly with draft picks and young players complimenting the star veterans on mega money — or whether they want to be aggressive to go after a Championship right now.

Some of their previous bold moves (Sheldon Richardson, Jimmy Graham, Percy Harvin) didn’t come off. For that reason alone some will say ‘no thanks’ to another splash. Here’s one thing to remember though. You’re not going to find a 26-year-old freak of nature and former #1 overall pick in the late first round next year. And the Seahawks aren’t a million miles away from being a serious challenger in the NFC.

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New podcast: Early pre-season thoughts

August 13th, 2019 | Written by Rob Staton

Brandan Schulze and I teamed up this week to share some thoughts on the Denver game and Seattle’s pre-season so far…

 

Some things to consider with the Seahawks roster

August 11th, 2019 | Written by Rob Staton

Who you don’t want to lose matters

Clearly competition is important — in camp and in the games. It’s the foundation of Pete Carroll’s setup. That doesn’t mean you give up on players after one summer, however, if they’re outperformed by other players in certain environments.

Greg Jennings is a good example here. He was fairly anonymous against the Broncos despite playing more snaps (57%) than Jazz Ferguson (51%) and John Ursua (48%). Jennings received two targets in the game and failed to make a reception. Ferguson caught all of his four targets and managed 57-yards and a touchdown. Ursua had two targets with one leading to a 23-yard reception.

Based on the evidence of that game it’s hard to make a case for Jennings over Ferguson and Ursua. It’s a big call to give up on a player after one summer though. They clearly liked Jennings. He looked exactly like a Seahawks receiver at West Virginia and was a predictable target during draft season.

If they cut him in a few weeks time — he’ll be gone. Another team will claim him. He will not make it to Seattle’s practise squad. Last time they cut a high pick after one camp, Chris Harper was picked up immediately by the 49ers in 2013.

If they cut Ferguson or Ursua — they too could be claimed by other teams. However, one was an UDFA with character concerns in college and the other a seventh rounder. Jennings will get claimed. There’s at least a question mark about Ferguson and Ursua.

Competing isn’t limited to the players on the field. It extends to the front office. You have to find ways to keep the guys you want. The Seahawks will gather intel on various players to make key decisions on who may or may not make it to the practise squad. They’ll protect the ones they don’t want to lose.

Not everything is going to be decided in the pre-season in terms of who makes it and who doesn’t.

The Seahawks tend to stash players

Kristjan Sokoli, Benson Mayowa, George Fant. We can all recall players Seattle has protected as a sort of ‘redshirt’ prospect.

Even when the roster was at its most competitive — there was often room for a stash.

It’s important to remember that when working out what might happen with the team this year.

Again the aspect of wanting to ‘protect’ certain players comes into play. Team building isn’t simply about the here and now. It’s about the future too.

Would it be a massive surprise if they kept, for example, seven receivers? It’s more than they have in the past but if Jazz Ferguson and John Ursua continue to play well and are deemed unlikely to make the practise squad — are you ready to risk losing one? If they don’t want to give up on Jennings or roll the dice on Ferguson or Ursua, then stashing them isn’t improbable.

You can make the same case for the defensive backs too. The starting cornerbacks are set and the safety position is coming along. It’s not improbable they’ll end up stashing Ugo Amadi while starting Kalen Reed at nickel and retaining Neiko Thorpe for his special teams value and Deshawn Shead for his versatility and experience.

A lot of roster projections are compiled to try and max out impact and value at each position. There does have to be some long term thinking too plus some appreciation of roles. There will be certain players the Seahawks have scouted and coached who they really like — they just haven’t quite had a pre-season impact so far. Or they’ll have a specific, less attractive role (eg special teams). There will be room for at least one stash on this roster for a player they want to give more time to develop.

It also helps when you’ve got players who can play various positions. Seattle has tight ends who can take snaps at full back, they have safety’s who operate in the nickel and they have a tackle/tight end hybrid. When you have multi-role individuals, it can help create room to keep certain players at other positions. The Seahawks do have that luxury.

Veterans matter

I’ve read numerous suggestions about the futures of Jaron Brown, David Moore and Neiko Thorpe. Even if young players are performing in pre-season — you still need your veterans.

This is especially important at receiver. Chemistry with the quarterback, understanding of the offense and proven production matters. Brown and Moore have this and the Seahawks appear set to expand their roles this year. They are locks to make the roster and are under no serious threat from the younger group.

Thorpe is the special teams captain and is much loved by the coaches and players. This also matters. Pete Carroll is putting more emphasis than ever on improved special teams play this year. Thorpe is essentially a special teams dynamo first and foremost and the cornerback depth is a bonus. Outsiders may question the usefulness of that but it’s not a doubt in Carroll’s mind and it’s why Thorpe has been a mainstay for so long. I wouldn’t bet against that being the case again in 2019.

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Thoughts on pre-season week one vs Denver

August 9th, 2019 | Written by Rob Staton

For starters it was good to see a win. Last year Seattle lost all four pre-season games and started the regular season 0-2. There were some issues in this game at the start but overall Seattle showed they have improved depth this year. That’s a big plus.

The 2018 pre-season essentially told us they were going to be relying a lot on Russell Wilson and their ability to fix the running game. Here we can see the roster is a lot more padded and improved in certain areas. They’re especially improved on special teams and the kick coverage looked sharp tonight with several contributors standing out. Seattle’s linebacker depth is probably #1 in the league and there’s a real battle going on at receiver.

Yet there are also some areas of concern. The defensive line was hit-and-miss and apart from a good second half from Jacob Martin, the pass-rush was unsurprisingly weak. The backup offensive linemen didn’t inspire any confidence in this game either.

Even so, there were more positives than negatives here.

— Paxton Lynch really made a good impression and this was a nice start to his pre-season. Can he build on this? His decision making was sound, he improvised to make plays and he was accurate. If the Seahawks only keep two quarterbacks on the roster then it’s 1-0 to Lynch after the Denver game. With Geno Smith set for minor knee surgery, Lynch will likely get the bulk of the play next week against Minnesota. It’s easy to forget he’s a former first round pick who excelled at Memphis. He has the talent he just needed the application. Has he found it in Seattle? This was an excellent debut.

— Jazz Ferguson looks the part. His body control, mobility for his size, his route-running and catching ability were all on show here. He ended with four catches for 54 yards and a touchdown. Sometimes you see a player, even in a pre-season game, and you can see they have ‘it’. It felt like we were watching a NFL receiver in Ferguson. This is a very competitive group of wide outs. With Tyler Lockett, Jaron Brown, David Moore and D.K. Metcalf all certain to make the roster — there might only be one or two extra spots. It’ll take more than one game for Ferguson to make the final cut but this was exactly the type of start he needed.

— Marquise Blair is getting a lot of attention after the game and rightly so. The Seahawks lost their enforcer when Kam Chancellor retired and although Blair isn’t the same physically intimidating presence — he packs a punch. Both Blair and Pete Carroll acknowledged there were some blown assignments too and clearly he’s not the finished article. Yet Seattle’s defense is incomplete without an intimidator in the secondary. Blair provides that and it’s why they spent a second round pick on him. He’s not just a hitter either — he can tackle with form too and he showed that in this game. A nice start for a player fans can afford to be excited about.

— Carroll said they were trying to find out who the blitzer’s were in this game. Clearly the Seahawks are going to have to find ways to generate pressure considering their D-line isn’t rich with difference-making rushers. It’s telling that Carroll also highlighted Deshawn Shead’s safety as his favourite play of the game. Shead’s quickness to the ball-carrier stood out and if they’re looking for someone who can provide an impact as a blitzer — Shead could easily be winning that job with that one single play. Fitting him onto the roster will be a challenge. Seattle lacks star power in the secondary but they have a lot of young talent. Shaquill Griffin and Tre Flowers are locked in as the starting cornerbacks and Bradley McDougald, Delano Hill, Marquise Blair and Tedric Thompson seem fairly safe at safety. Neiko Thorpe is their special teams captain and is likely to be retained. Shead, Ugo Amadi and Jamar Taylor all played well in this game. Like the receiver position, there are likely some big calls to be made in the future.

— Although the pass rush remains a concern, it was good to see Jacob Martin having an impact. His speed off the edge in the second half created pressure on multiple snaps. He won’t be a game-wrecking starter but his ability to work into the rotation and impact plays will be very important this year. They need to find ways to generate sacks and if he can play a slightly expanded role and get into the 7-8 sack range in 2019 — that’ll be a big plus.

— The other position where big calls are going to need to be made is at linebacker. Austin Calitro won a job a year ago and based on this performance he’s not going to give it up without a fight. We know that Bobby Wagner, K.J. Wright, Mychal Kendricks and Cody Barton will make the team. Barkevious Mingo has already seemingly be moved to a pass-rushing role to free up space. We’ll have to see how many linebackers they want to keep but if it’s Ben Burr-Kirven vs Austin Calitro that’ll be some battle for the rest of training camp.

The negatives were fairly obvious. Justin Myers missed an early field goal and was close on two others. They need him to be a consistent force this year. The backup O-line struggled in the first half. Ethan Pocic was walked into the backfield and almost allowed the defensive tackle he was blocking to pick-off a screen pass. Pocic excelled at LSU as a technician at center who avoided getting beat. In the NFL, two years in, you have to wonder if he’s ever going to be strong enough to mix-it-up physically with pro-linemen. The starting defense didn’t have several key starters and gave up some easy yards (including a big play in the run game). George Fant picking up a ‘legit’ ankle sprain is disappointing news — especially given the way Seattle wants to play in the running game and with play action.

Even so, the positives outweigh the negatives after one week of pre-season. This still looks like a roster that is moving in the right direction and just lacks a bit of quality in a couple of areas. The depth and competition at multiple positions is vastly improved on 2018 based on what we saw in this game.

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There’s no question the defensive line depth is problematic

July 31st, 2019 | Written by Rob Staton

A few days ago I wrote a piece calling for modest expectations in 2019.

The Seahawks have lost key, experienced players. They’re continuing to refresh the roster. This was never going to be a one-year fix.

With cap money to spend in 2020 plus a boat-load of draft picks to come — the next off-season really feels like a big opportunity to take the next step.

Hopefully the 2019 campaign will see young players developing into secure starters. If the likes of Tre Flower, Shaquill Griffin, one of the young safety’s and one or two of the receivers can take the next step and become core players — that will be a major positive.

In a Twitter exchange, friend of the blog Adam Nathan suggested Pete Carroll should be named coach of the year if the Seahawks make the playoffs.

It’s an extremely fair suggestion.

Since 2018 they’ve lost key pass rushers, their best receiver and an entire legendary secondary. The Seahawks have no business being in the post-season. It’s to Carroll’s credit that we’re even considering it a possibility. This is a roster in transition. Not a complete overhaul. Yet there’s enough to change to warrant perspective and realism. Simply having a good quarterback isn’t enough alone to guarantee playoff success (ask Aaron Rodgers, Matt Ryan, Philip Rivers and others).

Personally I think they have every chance to make the post-season because they’re sufficiently well coached, built, have enough remaining quality and most importantly — a clear vision on what they want to be with the personnel to match their aims on offense and defense.

If they don’t win another 10 games (or more) and reach the playoffs, it probably shouldn’t warrant much more than a shrug. 2020 is the decisive off-season. The opportunity to leap into contention.

There are two areas for pessimism when glancing at the depth chart.

The first is the secondary. There’s extreme competence, leadership and playmaking quality in Bradley McDougald. Apart from him there’s a lot of mystery. Is Shaquill Griffin finally going to develop into a quality starter? Is Tre Flowers the real deal after a solid rookie season? Who can provide a solution next to McDougald at safety? And who replaces Justin Coleman at nickel (and can they handle the gig?).

That said, if there’s one area of the team fans can trust it’s the secondary. Carroll’s track record of developing talent at corner and safety is unmatched. Despite how raw they were in 2018 — the defensive backs never felt like a striking liability.

The bigger issue is going to be the defensive line. Having traded Frank Clark — albeit for a satisfying haul — they lost their one, proven pass rusher.

Jarran Reed will miss the first six games due to suspension and yesterday L.J. Collier suffered a reported high-ankle sprain.

This is the last area the Seahawks could afford to lose bodies.

These issues really highlight how the line has been plundered in recent years. No longer can they rely on an army of pass rushers. There’s no Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril, ably supported by one or two of Chris Clemons, Frank Clark or Bruce Irvin.

In 2013 they had a murderers’ row of talent on the D-line. Even in 2017 the Seahawks boasted a collection of star names (punctuated by the trade for Sheldon Richardson).

Now all of the names above have gone. Reed is out. Collier will be absent for some time.

Who’s left?

Ziggy Ansah will hopefully play the Clark role and provide a dynamic edge rush. However, he’s been inconsistent in his career to date, has had injuries and is still recovering from a bad shoulder issue.

Jacob Martin had a decent rookie season but mainly as a complimentary rusher. Is he good enough to do more? He’ll no doubt be given the opportunity given the lack of depth.

Rasheem Green had a rotten rookie season and was ineffective. He’s young and has time on his side. We need to see some signs of improvement though. He has the physical talent. He needs to do more in 2019.

Quinton Jefferson created pressure last season and did a nice job in the rotation. Is he capable of playing more than the 56.31% of snaps he had in 2018 and taking on a more full-time role?

Apart from this quartet we’re talking about a collection of journeymen or run stuffers. It’s not a unit that screams ‘Championship’. And while the Rams D-line has taken some hits over the last couple of off-seasons — their ability to rely on the best defender in the league will always make them a dangerous opponent.

This is a problem for the Seahawks. Losing Reed and Collier for some time isn’t the difference between a good pass rush and a bad one. Seattle is simply lacking overall and couldn’t afford to lose any more depth.

They almost certainly possess the finest group of linebackers in the league. Perhaps that will help alleviate some of the problems? Especially if they can rotate their group and find some creative ways to create pressure. The numbers in the secondary also suggest they might try different ways to challenge teams like the Rams (and New England’s safety-dominant scheme in the Super Bowl could be the blueprint).

It won’t be a surprise though if Seattle’s defence struggles in the passing game early in the season. And it’ll be up to the offense to pick up some of the slack.

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2019 calls for modest and realistic expectations

July 28th, 2019 | Written by Rob Staton

Pete Carroll is leading his 10th Seahawks training camp

The Seahawks will be competitive this year, just as they were in 2018.

However, there’s a difference between being competitive and a genuine contender. And currently, the Seahawks are probably a year away from being considered a top-level threat in the NFC.

There’s also nothing wrong with that.

This team started a refresh a year ago that was never going to be resolved within 12-18 months. So many big names and key contributors have departed including three star pass rushers, an entire legendary secondary and now the teams’ best receiver.

On top of that the Seahawks have had to cope with cap restrictions and limited draft stock. As a franchise they’ve had a lot on their plate.

To remain competitive and make the playoffs while having to endure all of this is no small achievement. Several other franchises have gone through minor rebuilds and suffered as a consequence. The Baltimore Ravens won 54 regular season games between 2008 and 2012 — culminating in a Super Bowl victory. In the following six seasons they’ve only made the playoffs twice, had a five-win season and two 8-8 seasons. They’re still rebuilding.

It’s extremely difficult to evolve and remain a viable post-season threat. The Seahawks have pulled it off — mainly by returning to their philosophical roots and building around their quarterback (supporting him with a much more experienced offensive line and a productive running game).

There needs to be a sense of realism and perspective going into the upcoming season though.

This is still a team going through a form of transition. Nobody within the franchise will use those words. Their aim, understandably, will be to be as good as they can be this year. Making the playoffs again is very possible.

Indeed a season similar to 2018 — ten wins and a playoff berth — shouldn’t be seen as a failure or treading water. The current roster warrants that level of faith and no more.

The truth is they’re lacking in several areas. They need another off-season to try and complete the refresh before anyone can realistically ‘expect’ the Seahawks to be a genuine Super Bowl contender.

In 2020 they’ll have a slew of draft picks — including five in the first three rounds. They’ll have money to spend — OTC is currently projecting $74m (although this likely doesn’t include Bobby Wagner’s new contract).

There’s a real opportunity next year to have the kind of Championship off-season they had in 2013 that pushed Seattle towards its first Super Bowl. That’s about the time you’d realistically expect things to come together. Another haul of young talent and the potential to add some veteran quality to a blossoming group.

The future is bright — but to appreciate and enjoy that fact it’ll take some honesty about 2019.

The pass rush has serious question marks. Jarran Reed’s suspension doesn’t help. Losing Frank Clark is a big deal even if the compensation was satisfactory. The secondary remains a work in progress and aside from Bradley McDougald — there isn’t really a sure-thing in any of the other four starting positions (including nickel corner).

That’s not to say young players won’t emerge or that Ziggy Ansah won’t be able to pick up some of the slack. Yet the Seahawks were at their most dynamic on defense when they had a pass-rushing trio of Michael Bennett, Cliff Avril and one or more of Chris Clemons, Bruce Irvin and Frank Clark. Now they’re left relying on Ansah and a collection of unproven unknowns and emerging prospects.

In the secondary, there’s more hope than expectation that the young group will produce long term solutions.

Doug Baldwin will also be difficult to replace. That’s no knock on Tyler Lockett (who’s outstanding) or the potential of D.K. Metcalf and the rest of the younger wide outs. Yet Seattle has always been such a streaky team on third down in the Russell Wilson era. Losing their clear top receiver for the key downs is undoubtedly a concern.

That’s not to say the sky is falling. Far from it. The Seahawks are an extremely well run and well coached outfit. So much so that a portion of fans have begun to take it for granted in a big way. They have a sensational quarterback and proven quality and leadership in the likes of Wagner, K.J. Wright, Mychal Kendricks and Duane Brown.

A similar season to a year ago is distinctly possible. There’ll probably be some exciting, close wins and some annoying defeats. Sometimes you have to ride things out and play the long game. The Seahawks are still settling into their latest incarnation. The 2020 off-season stands out as a big opportunity to take the next step. Continuing to grow and develop in 2019 — while remaining competitive — is the order of the day.

Any greater expectation might be asking too much.

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Bobby Wagner agrees new contract

July 26th, 2019 | Written by Rob Staton

No noise. No complaints. Just quality play from one of the rarest and most special athletes in the NFL and now a richly deserved contract extension.

Bobby Wagner is a class-act. In an era where linebacker play doesn’t make the headlines like it used to — he’s both a throwback to a bygone era and one of the definitive modern players in the game. He has the speed, agility and field-smarts to do everything today’s NFL demands. He also has the size, physicality and tone-setting ability we used to see from the classic linebackers of yesteryear.

He’s a Hall-of-Fame caliber talent with years left in the tank. This contract takes him through to age 33 and rewards a player who shows no signs of slowing down.

On every level — performance, influence, athleticism — Wagner deserved this deal.

And just like that — three of Seattle’s contract dilemma’s are solved:

Russell Wilson — signed
Frank Clark — traded for a haul
Bobby Wagner — signed
Jarran Reed — unsigned and suspended

Everything has fallen into place. Reed’s suspension — and Seattle’s subsequent support — also bodes well for the Seahawks in negotiations. We’ll see if something emerges there but of the big four Reed was fourth on the list.

The team deserves immense credit for handling what could’ve been a very tricky year. Getting the Wilson deal done was no mean feat alone. Pulling off a fair trade for Clark and now re-signing Wagner has momentum building. Against the odds this is an off-season with minimal drama (for once) with the team being pro-active and effective.

They won’t get much praise. That’ll be saved for the teams with the multiple first round picks and those who spent big and gambled hard. Yet Seattle’s front office can feel very pleased with their work in 2019 in a testing environment.

The Seahawks are into their second year of a refresh. They’re probably another off-season away from reaching their full potential (it’s something I’ll write about later in pre-season). Yet so far they’ve made the right calls. If people are willing to be realistic about the forthcoming season — and appreciate where they’re at and what further work needs to be done — this franchise will move forward.

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A message to the community

June 12th, 2019 | Written by Rob Staton

Many of you have noted the lack of posts recently. It dawned on me today that I should’ve simply been smarter at the conclusion of the draft and took an immediate break. I’ve been writing this blog for 11 years now and I’m still confused by what we do with it during the summer months.

The NFL claims it doesn’t have an off-season and that’s true to an extent with mini-camps ongoing currently. Yet this is a decidedly quiet time. I should’ve completed my write-ups on the full draft class sooner and for that I apologise. However — between the months of August and May this is a labour of love. Almost a second full-time job. Not that I’m complaining. Interacting with this community, studying each draft and following the Seahawks provides real joy. I’m still amazed anyone cares what a British bloke thinks about any of this.

I did need to take a break though. To reintroduce myself to my two kids and my wife. To focus on the day job. I should’ve been honest and admitted I needed that break, this year, immediately after the draft.

So I’m going to take some time now and come back refreshed and stronger in July. Be reassured though that normal service will resume. And while this place usually heats up around January time — my favourite period is the college football season. Learning about the draft class, finding players. Discussing options. I hope you’ll join us for that — not to mention the weekly analysis of Seattle’s 2019 season.

In the meantime I’d be very interested in your views about the blog. What do you like? What don’t you like? What do you want to see moving forward?

(Yes — I know the design is dated and must change ASAP. I’m working on it).

Go Hawks.

 

New Google Hangout this Friday

May 16th, 2019 | Written by Rob Staton

If you missed today’s live stream Q&A you can check it out here…