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Thoughts on Ken Norton Jr’s departure & replacement

Tuesday, January 18th, 2022

Ken Norton Jr is out as Seattle’s D-coordinator

Ken Norton Jr seems like a likeable person (at least from afar, I’ve never met him). I also think his influence and impact on the Seahawks deserves to be acknowledged. He felt like a big part of the creation of the LOB defense — if not schematically then certainly in terms of guidance, leadership, experience and attitude.

I’ll never forget the clip of Norton Jr barking out to his linebackers during the 2013 NFC Championship game. A few moments later, ‘the tip’ happened.

That said, it’s pretty clear he isn’t much of a defensive coordinator. We’ve seen enough evidence to make that judgement based on two spells in Oakland and now in Seattle.

The last couple of years have been a chore. The Seahawks have started each year a disorganised, mistake-prone mess. They were giving up a ton of yards and points. They were the opposite of a well oiled machine. They were so poorly oiled, in fact, it made you wonder what on earth they do during training camp.

Adding to that was a lack of consistent pressure and pass rush, plus a total inability to turn the ball over.

A case has been made regarding Seattle’s points per game as a justification for the unit. They conceded 21.5 PPG in 2021 — good for the ninth best record in the NFL.

In isolation it’s relatively impressive. But you have to consider a whole bunch of other aspects.

The Seahawks’ sack percentage was just 4.9% — despite their late season flourish — the fourth worst in the league. They had the 11th fewest sacks. Their pressure percentage (22.2%) was the seventh worst. They had just 18 takeaways — eighth fewest.

Per DVOA they had only the 21st ranked defense.

Game after game they simply couldn’t get off the field, relying on a ‘bend but don’t break’ formula that is always open to fluctuating form.

This is despite all of the investment pumped into the unit — the top two picks in 2019, the top two picks in 2020, the Jamal Adams trade and the Bobby Wagner contract extension.

It simply wasn’t good enough.

A failed bear-front experiment, pass rushers dropping into coverage, the big-ticket player you traded for failing to make much of an impact.

Thus, Norton Jr had to go. This change had to be made.

After a 7-10 season it shouldn’t have been acceptable for the same staff and mostly the same personnel to go unscathed. Something had to give.

That said — at what point are we actually going to look at the man making these coaching hires?

Norton Jr was Carroll’s guy, hand-picked in 2018. Brian Schottenheimer was his guy too. Both fired.

It wasn’t exactly unpredictable either, was it? They were two underwhelming hires when they happened as Carroll battened down the hatches and decided he was going to do things his way once again as the reset began.

There is a danger sometimes of coordinators becoming convenient scapegoats. Norton Jr was never qualified for this gig. Carroll appointed him. Just as he’s had ultimate control over personnel, philosophy and scheming and simply not done a good enough job over the last 4-5 years.

He now gets another chance to appoint a new coordinator and have another off-season with millions to spend and a draft to follow in April.

When will the buck eventually stop with the man at the top?

To me, this is a crucial opportunity for Carroll to show he’s willing to change and make amends for previous bad hires and some iffy personnel decisions.

As I’ve noted numerous times in the past — I think he can be a tremendous Head Coach for the Seahawks. I just think he has to be willing to delegate a bit more, install the best staff money can buy and take on a Nick Saban-esque ‘figurehead’ role rather than trying to control absolutely everything.

If he went out and landed Vic Fangio, for example, what a coup that would be. A proven, established, brilliant defensive coordinator who’s had success wherever he goes.

The problem is — Fangio will want to run his defense. Is Carroll willing to cede some control to a man with a brilliant track record? Or is it more important for Carroll to have the final say on everything?

And what’s better for the Seahawks? Getting possibly the best defensive coordinator in the NFL or ploughing on with Carroll running the show?

Seattle should be asking Fangio to name his price. Instead, predictably, two other names are being linked.

One is Clint Hurtt, the current Assistant Head Coach and D-line coach in Seattle. The other is Ed Donatell — a vastly experienced defensive veteran who worked with Carroll during his time with the New York Jets.

Essentially, two of Carroll’s guys.

I do think it could be a lot worse.

After all, Donatell has been Fangio’s defensive coordinator for the last few years in Chicago and Denver. So if you can’t get the man himself, this might be the next best thing. But Shane Waldron isn’t Sean McVay and Donatell isn’t Fangio.

Hurtt is immensely likeable and has, admittedly, done a good job with the likes of Poona Ford, Al Woods and Bryan Mone.

As you’ll see in this podcast, he’s also willing to be honest. He admitted Irvin and Mayowa were rotational pass rushers and it wasn’t sustainable to have them play as many snaps as they did early in 2020. He said he was ‘pissed off’ with the pass rush last season. He acknowledged the loss of Jarran Reed.

He sounds like someone who tells it as it is. That’s needed.

The idea of the two working together is quite appealing, given Donatell is a defensive backs coach predominantly and Hurtt deals with the D-line. Could they be co-coordinators? Maybe that would work?

Yet it all comes back to Carroll seeking comfort in his old pals act. Don’t we want to see a few new voices added — just as he did in 2011 when he went out of his bubble to bring in Tom Cable and Darrell Bevell?

People can quibble about that pair. They had Head Coaching interviews during their stints in Seattle and were outsiders. Cable, in particular, was always credited by Marshawn Lynch for what he added to the offensive scheming.

It’d be refreshing to see a Fangio type come in — with his fresh set of eyes. It would equally be reassuring to know that Carroll is willing to adapt and try new things in 2022. Isn’t it worth a shot, at this stage?

This feels like a legit chance to finally sort out the pass rush, particularly given Carroll has already stated it’s a priority for the personnel department. Fangio has enjoyed a ton of success developing safeties. Could his presence relaunch Jamal Adams’ career?

It’d be exciting. It’d give many fans, not just me, an enormous jolt of confidence to begin the off-season.

I’m afraid just resorting to another ‘friend of Carroll’ won’t do that — despite the way I’ve talked positively about Hurtt and Donatell.

I hope the Seahawks are willing to throw money at this. There’s no salary cap for coaches. Go big, don’t go home. Embrace change, don’t go with familiarity. Deliver proven quality, don’t gamble with untried and untested.

There aren’t many instances where a 63-year-old, grizzled football coach with a reputation for being a bit of a misery guts can re-ignite your passion for a football team. Yet here we are.

Will Fangio to Seattle happen? Almost certainly not.

It’d be one heck of a move, though. The Seahawks need this.

If you want an outside bet who is worth an interview I’d pitch Philadelphia Eagles DB coach Dennard Wilson. He’s done an excellent job in Philly, speaks well and is very much seen as an up-and-comer.

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My off-season plan for the Seahawks

Monday, January 17th, 2022

Chandler Jones should be a priority target they aggressively pursue

Make difficult decisions with existing players

Pete Carroll has already spoken of his desire to ‘keep the band together’ but it’s time for a refresh and for some tough choices to be made.

According to Over the Cap, the Seahawks have $40,686,269 to spend in 2022. It’s the sixth most in the league — but they need more to take a serious step forward.

One of the big issues in recent years has been the way they’ve spent their resources. They’ve used three first round picks on the linebacker and safety positions since 2020. They’ve paid an absolute fortune to Bobby Wagner. They’ve given Jamal Adams a $17.5m-a-year extension.

It’s finally time to shift resources to the trenches.

Cutting or trading Bobby Wagner saves $16,600,000. That has to be the first move. Wagner deserves to be remembered as a legendary Seahawk but nothing lasts forever. The team can’t be sentimental as they try to return to contention.

It’s time to put Jordyn Brooks at middle linebacker and simply draft or sign a cheaper alternative to Wagner.

Georgia’s Channing Tindall has been a blog favourite for a while. There isn’t a better run-and-chase linebacker in this class for me — and he has an outstanding physical profile. He ran a 4.19 short shuttle at SPARQ and jumped a 40-inch vertical.

He might rise out of contention for Seattle but on day two, if available, he should be considered.

Alternatively they could look at free agent Jarrad Davis. Despite being a much heralded first round pick in 2017, Davis has failed to live up to his potential so far in stints with Detroit and the New York Jets.

That said, there’s a player in there. If you’re going to chance your arm on a reclamation project or cheap ‘prove-it’ player — I’d rather do that at linebacker than the O-line or D-line in 2022.

Of course the Seahawks will lose something by parting with Wagner. You could even argue it’d be like losing a limb — that’s how integral Wagner has felt to the team in his 10-year career. His performances are fading though and so is his impact.

On Quandre Diggs — his unfortunate injury probably gives the Seahawks a chance to get him back at a modest price, such is the business of the NFL. However — this is a good draft at safety with options likely stretching into the third day.

Seattle made their bed when they paid Jamal Adams. They can’t justify paying $25-30m a year at safety — even if, in an ideal, world, you’d keep Diggs. That has to be a situation where you need to be prepared to walk away if the price isn’t right.

After a 7-10 season, there has to be a serious review of where the financial priorities lie. For me — that means pumping money into the trenches and making savings at the likes of linebacker and safety. They’ve tried investing in those positions and it hasn’t delivered the required results.

Re-sign your cornerbacks

Sidney Jones should be retained. I don’t think he did enough to launch himself into an expensive free agent which means it should be relatively straight forward to get something done. He played well, he’s a reasonable if unspectacular starter and he’s had a year in the system.

D.J. Reed will be a tougher re-sign. However, I’m also not sure if his market will be out of this world as was the case with Shaquill Griffin. I think Reed is a better player but for whatever reason — probably publicity and awareness — Griffin got a lot more attention.

Securing the position by signing him to a good deal that will allow him to reach free agency again in 2023 or 2024 might work for all parties.

I think this is a premium position where you spend a bit of money, unlike linebacker and safety (where you’ve already ploughed resources into Adams and Brooks).

Keeping Jones and Reed allows you to focus on strengthening rather than replacing.

Add a quality pass rusher

Pete Carroll has already stated that fixing the pass rush is a priority this off-season. He has to do a better job than 2020, where he made a similar statement.

In that instance, ‘fixing the pass rush’ equated to failing to convince Jadeveon Clowney to return, then signing Benson Mayowa and Bruce Irvin instead.

If the Seahawks want to be a serious contender, they need a difference maker.

They should take their savings on a player like Wagner and give it to Chandler Jones.

Imagine him lining up across from Darrell Taylor? That would be a terrifying proposition for opponents and would legitimately give the Seahawks their best pass-rushing duo since Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril.

That equates to fixing the pass rush.

They need to make a splash, not spread their cap across a number of average journeymen. They need to add a blue-chip stud.

Harold Landry could be an alternative. The Rams are unlikely to let Von Miller get away after spending so much — but he’s an option too. It’s not implausible that the Chiefs cut Frank Clark to save $12.7m.

Nevertheless, Jones is the standout name and should be targeted with aggression and gusto when the market opens. The Seahawks need to make a statement of intent with their pass rush and this is the opportunity to do so.

Keep Carlos Dunlap

Don’t have him dropping into coverage. Get rid of the bear front. Just let Dunlap get after the quarterback.

His late-season flurry shows what he’s capable of. Adding Chandler Jones to Taylor and Dunlap would be a legit trio.

You only save $900,000 by cutting or trading Dunlap. You might as well keep him. I only bring this up because in a 710 ESPN interview recently, he hinted this would be his final year in Seattle.

There are better options where you can make savings.

Cutting LJ Collier saves $986,323. You might as well just rip that band aid off. Jason Myers would save $4m and he’s not done enough to warrant that salary.

Moving Chris Carson saves you $3.4m. It’s time to move on.

Cutting Benson Mayowa saves $1.5m and Kerry Hyder saves $2m. They’re two journeymen. Move on.

I enjoy Nick Bellore’s videos and he’s a key special teamer. His departure saves $2.1m. We need to consider whether that’s genuinely money well spent.

There’s plenty there to ensure Dunlap stays — and you might even have enough to bring back Rasheem Green and Al Woods.

Add an interior pass rusher

The Seahawks have badly lacked any kind of dynamic interior pass rush threat in the Carroll era. That should change this year as a priority.

Akiem Hicks is a free agent. He would be an ideal addition. If the Seahawks start the 2022 season with Hicks and Jones added to the D-line, that would be an exciting proposition that would energise the team and fanbase.

I’ve long wanted to see Calais Campbell in Seattle. He’s not the player he was 2-3 years ago but as Woods has shown, you can still have an impact deep into your 30’s. He could be a cheaper alternative.

The draft could also provide a solution here.

I suspect Georgia’s Jordan Davis will be a top-20 pick. However, his team-mate Devonte Wyatt is a dynamic athlete with outstanding talent and rush ability. He could be available in the early second round — or the late first via a modest trade-up.

Wyatt can reportedly run a 4.87 and jump a 9-3 broad and 31-inch vertical. The Seahawks need that kind of quickness and explosive power.

Houston’s superb Logan Hall would be a strong alternative.

There aren’t a ton of options but this is why the Seahawks need to be more aggressive this year to add players at key positions — not let things linger, as they did with the pass rush in 2020 and with center/cornerback in 2021.

It’s a shame they don’t own the #10 pick. Not only would they save the $17.5m they’ve committed to Jamal Adams (who’s suffered his second serious shoulder injury in 12 months) but we could legitimately discuss the possibility of adding Jordan Davis, David Ojabo, Jermaine Johnson or George Karlaftis. Or you could go the veteran route on the D-line and draft a good, young offensive linemen.

Reinforce the O-line

In an ideal world you’d make a big splash move on the offensive line. Last year there was Corey Linsley and Joe Thuney. This year, there are far fewer options.

Unless you want to spend a fortune on Terron Armstead — who might be tagged — the best bet is probably to re-sign Duane Brown and kick the can down the road.

Brandon Scherff would be great but he’s another right guard and what the Seahawks really need is an addition at center and/or right tackle.

Ryan Jensen is the best available free agent. Jason Kelce would be great but he’s practically Philadelphia’s favourite son and I can’t see him leaving the Eagles.

James Daniels shifted to guard from center in Chicago. He could move back and is worth considering if he reaches the market. He has a terrific physical profile and is a former high-draft pick.

The Bills are $2m over the cap for 2022. Would they consider trading Mitch Morse?

It hasn’t worked out for Cesar Ruiz in New Orleans and he’s become a target for fans. However, he has immense potential. Could you work a trade with the Saints to bring him to Seattle for a fresh start?

I think Trevor Penning, Bernhard Raimann and Abraham Lucas will be high picks. If not, the Seahawks should give them a serious look in the draft. All three are excellent players with tremendous physical potential to start at left or right tackle at the next level.

It’s going to be harder to address the O-line than D-line this off-season. The opposite was true a year ago.

Set a limit for Rashaad Penny and stick to it

I sympathise with the Seahawks on this one. I’ve no idea how you judge Penny’s end to the season or the value you place on him.

If they let him go somewhere else, they could watch him go and set the league alight (maybe even with a NFC West rival). If they commit to him — who’s to say he’ll be able to stay healthy?

After all — he was even limping off the field against Arizona after one big run.

This is a major quandary and short of him having a lukewarm market and coming back on a team-friendly deal — there’s a lot of risk involved.

However, the running back market is sufficiently quiet in free agency and it might play into Seattle’s hands to let him discover his true value then make a decision. Homegrown runners get paid — as we’ve seen with the big names over the last few years. Very few reach free agency and hit the jackpot.

I can’t personally project a dollar value for him. It’s too difficult to predict. You’ve almost got to let everyone else set it for you.

I do think, given the state of the team currently, you have to exert some effort to retain him. He played well enough to create an intriguing ‘what if?’ scenario. The injuries are a major concern. Yet his production at the end of the year went beyond ‘good’. It was ‘great’. Thus, you’re put in a situation where you have to determine how much is too much financially.

Either way I think you need to draft a running back. Personally I think they should cut Carson and make it a reasonable priority to draft Florida’s BAMF Dameon Pierce.

What about Gerald Everett?

He’s looked very good at times in Seattle and he’s a potential X-factor. It’s also hard to forget his nightmarish performance against the Niners with multiple turnovers or his horrible dropped touchdown against the Cardinals.

It’s a strong draft at tight end, which has to be factored in.

UCLA’s Greg Dulcich, Colorado State’s Trey McBride, Nevada’s Cole Turner, Iowa’s Sam LaPorta, San Jose State’s Derrick Deese Jr, Washington’s Cade Otton, Ohio State’s Jeremy Ruckert, Iowa State’s Charles Kolar and Wisconsin’s Jake Ferguson should all be available in a range for Seattle.

I wouldn’t rule out Texas A&M’s Jalen Wydermyer being there either.

Everett at his best is an ideal complementary weapon to the receivers on the roster. Yet his best is often only present in fits and starts. In five years he’s never had more than the 478 yards and four touchdowns he had in Seattle this season. Is he capable of being more consistent, to justify the $6m he cost in 2021?

That said, he’s clearly talented, athletic and plays with a level of intensity.

It’s another difficult one to work out. I’d be very tempted to take a long look at the Senior Bowl and combine before making a decision. It could be that he’ll need to settle for less than $6m to return.

Stand-pat with D.K. Metcalf for another year

This off-season presents the first opportunity for the Seahawks to pay and extend Metcalf. However, it’s yet another difficult problem to solve.

On the one hand, the possibility of a ‘hold-in’ is strong. He’s due just $1,459,198 in 2022. Not having him in camp — as was the case last year with Jamal Adams, Duane Brown and then Quandre Diggs — isn’t helpful.

That said, the receiver market is in a horrible place — making life very difficult for the Seahawks.

DeAndre Hopkins earns a ridiculous $27.25m-a-year with the Cardinals. They structured it to be short-term, making the most of Kyler Murray’s rookie deal. Yet Julio Jones ($22m), Keenan Allen ($20m), Amari Cooper ($20m), Michael Thomas ($19.25m) and Kenny Golliday ($18m) are not far behind.

None of these players are providing value for money.

Making things even trickier is the direction of the market over the next 12 months. What contract will Davante Adams sign? What about Deebo Samuel?

Things could get even harder.

I’m not sure bailing on Metcalf and this contract dilemma is the best idea but I can see why some people come to that conclusion. It would remove a financial headache, especially if you can get a bunch of picks. With players like Wan’Dale Robinson (WR, Kentucky) declaring for the draft, talent will be readily available.

Robinson is a terrific player who is flying under the radar. I’d highly recommend checking him out.

A cluster of free agents are also intriguing — Chris Godwin, Allen Robinson, Zay Jones, Odell Beckham Jr and Christian Kirk to name a few. The Seahawks are also only a year removed from spending a second round pick on Dee Eskridge.

That said, I’m not a big fan of trading away your homegrown talent. So here’s how I would try to work this situation.

Offer Metcalf a reasonable market-value contract in the $20m a year range. It’s expensive now but if you get that in before the Adams extension in Green Bay — it might look very reasonable within 2-3 years.

Too often the Seahawks have extended players too late (Wagner, Adams) and let other players re-set markets, costing Seattle money. If the Seahawks can get ahead of the game here, it might benefit them in the long-run.

The franchise tag provides some protection if you can’t get a deal done. The tag in 2021 was worth $19.1m.

If you have to tag him in 2023, that might be the point to consider a trade — much like the Frank Clark situation.

For now though, I would keep Metcalf. He along with Lockett are assets and the Seahawks don’t have enough of those. Removing talent on the off-chance of finding others who are good enough to compensate isn’t easy. They found that out with Clark three years ago.

Closing thoughts

Of course, there are other changes I’d like to see too. I’d rather see bold, new additions to the coaching staff — especially on defense — to provide fresh ideas. I’d like to see Pete Carroll delegate more and not feel like he has to control everything — even if ultimately it’s his vision and he is the man at the top.

This is a plan strictly for the draft and free agency as the roster stands today.

To be fair — make the changes in the paragraph above (and follow some of the suggestions re:personnel) and we might be able to avoid another off-season of drama.

The key to future success is going to be built around the trenches. That’s where they need to commit their resources — not positions like linebacker and safety.

If they do that and fail, there won’t be any complaints from me. I said the same when they failed to address the pass rush in 2020. I can live with trying and failing. What I can’t live with is having $58.25m to spend and coming away with Mayowa and Irvin.

Make the O-line and D-line a strength, have plenty of weapons for a good quarterback and don’t be a liability at cornerback and that, really, is a fairly obvious blueprint to success in the modern NFL.

The Seahawks have wasted $100m in free agency the last two years and squandered draft picks. Not having a first rounder this year is a killer, even in an average looking class.

Lessons need to be learned from prior mistakes, not brushed under the carpet. Do that and they can take a step forward.

I don’t think any of this is unrealistic. Focus on investing in the right areas and the Seahawks can improve quickly.

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And so it begins…

Sunday, January 16th, 2022

Today, Ian Rapoport is reporting that Russell Wilson, “wants to explore his options to see what else might be out there for him.”

We’re a fortnight removed from Adam Schefter reporting, “There is a leaguewide feeling, according to sources, that Carroll and Wilson will not be together again next season.”

If the intention really is to ‘run it back’ — the chances are we’re about to embark on another off-season of drama, negotiation played out through the media and we could realistically see the quarterback traded.

How does this benefit the franchise? We can’t have annual drama of the quarterback thinking about wanting out and the front office saying ‘no’. It isn’t conducive to success. Eventually, a decision needs to be made.

How are the Seahawks going to be serious players in free agency — either to retain their own or add new players — if there’s a cloud over Wilson’s future? Especially in a competitive market for the top names?

The fans also deserve better than weeks and months of uncertainty about the quarterback, as they argue, bicker and war on social media about the whole situation.

Per Rapoport:

“Wilson has not demanded a trade, and it’s not clear if he will. But at the least, those close to Wilson say he wants to investigate other destinations to see if those would put him in a better position to win another championship and create the legacy he sees for himself.”

I think, at this stage, Wilson should just get it over and done with. Request a trade. There’s no face-saving exercise to be had by flirting with it constantly. The Seahawks can’t be in limbo every off-season. You either want a move or you don’t.

This can’t keep going on, year after year.

It impacts fans’ enjoyment of the team. It’s a talking point that never goes away.

Mike Garafolo chimed in:

“Wilson was adamant that last offseason he didn’t request a trade from the Seahawks, just merely provided a list of teams he preferred. Have to figure it’ll be less passive and more aggressive this time around if his ideal conditions for staying in Seattle aren’t met.”

A few months ago, Wilson’s injury provided a distraction for the distraction — if that makes sense.

After just four games, Wilson’s future was being discussed as a Fox lead-in to Thursday Night Football. He injured his finger in that very game and that dominated the headlines instead.

Personally, I don’t think it’s reasonable to have this hanging over the team for two years and there not be consequences. Either in the locker room, in terms of your team-building or ultimately your performance on the field.

It needs addressing.

I said a year ago that the only serious way to put this all to bed and have Wilson remain is a new contract. I stand by that. Trade him or extend him. That’s the only way to draw a line under it.

Another off-season of Pete Carroll and John Schneider pretending it doesn’t exist, while every media outlet reports on it constantly, shouldn’t be an option.

Last week Rapoport spoke of Mark Davis’ interest in Wilson a year ago. Apparently Davis has a vision for the Raiders that is pure ‘rockstar’ — he wants a rockstar coach and a rockstar franchise figurehead.

Yesterday he reiterated that Derek Carr’s future in Las Vegas is uncertain.

Let’s not forget that a year ago, Wilson listed the Raiders as a destination he would be willing to be dealt to.

If they land an impressive offensive-minded Head Coach, it could set the table for a trade.

The Raiders don’t have a lot of draft stock to offer. They don’t have any extra picks. Their selection in round one will be between #20-23 overall. They do have a quarterback though. And if the Seahawks really want to try and maintain a somewhat competitive presence, they might feel granting Wilson his wish and acquiring Carr is a way to do that.

For me it would be a thoroughly underwhelming move. You wouldn’t be adding significant draft stock and Carr is unexciting as a potential starter. I doubt the Seahawks would be on a pathway to glory.

His contract expires after the 2022 season. So you’d be paying him a reasonable $19.7m this year and then, if he performs well, you’re looking at the need to pay him significantly more.

A lot of people like Carr and would likely welcome such a situation. I just feel he’s average. I think the playoffs are already showing that you need better than average at quarterback to succeed.

Plus, for all the complaining about Wilson, look at his stats compared to Carr’s. In a season where Wilson endured injury and horrendous spells of form (his worst ever season?) — he finished with a touchdown/interception ratio of 27/6 and a QBR of 53.9. In comparison, Carr finished with a 23/14 ratio and a 52.8 QBR.

Carr has only thrown for +30 touchdowns in a season once — seven years ago. Wilson has done it five times and would’ve done it again this year if he didn’t miss three and a half games.

Wilson’s career quarterback rating is 101.8. Carr’s is 92.4.

It’s pretty clear to me this would be a significant downgrade.

Let’s go a step further. Even Carson Wentz had a superior TD/INT ratio (28/7), QBR (54.4) and quarterback rating (90.1) in 2021. That’s the kind of quarterback you’d be acquiring. The type that is well known and viewed as competent — but isn’t a difference maker.

It would be a tough pill to swallow, swapping Wilson for Carr. I fear if Wilson agitates to leave, however, the front office that dealt for Charlie Whitehurst, made Tarvaris Jackson a starter and then paid Matt Flynn generous money, might convince themselves Carr is a great option that enables them to contend in 2022.

A final point. It’s pretty remarkable that after everything that has happened — many Seahawks fans are still in total denial that this is a story with Wilson. Many of the replies to Rapoport’s article were insisting Wilson had already committed his future to Seattle — which is complete bunkum.

The denial of reality on this story has to be seen to be believed. I’m not sure I’ve come across anything like it before.

It alone is reason enough for a resolution to this as soon as physically possible, regardless of the outcome.

Let’s get one thing straight — this isn’t some zany media creation. Wilson’s dissatisfaction is real and has been for some time. It’s not a question in the slightest of whether he’s open to a trade. The only question is how this gets sorted out over the coming months.

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There’s nothing wrong with wanting to know what’s going on

Friday, January 14th, 2022

Why does everything have to be a war?

Seahawks fans are particularly tetchy at the moment. It feels like we’re destined to live in perpetual disagreement over something. Let Russ Cook. Running Backs Don’t Matter. Carroll Out.

Some of the discourse has been pretty obnoxious. At times, it’s almost felt cultish.

Personally, I appreciate how and why some fans are content with no change. Pete Carroll and John Schneider brought the first Championship to the franchise. They are popular and likeable.

I also think plenty of strong arguments have been made in support of change. The Seahawks ended the 2020 season with many acknowledging that playoff progress was vital this season. Instead, the Seahawks didn’t even qualify for the post-season. They finished 7-10.

People cite the Russell Wilson injury as an excuse but fail to note that San Francisco, Arizona and Philadelphia also needed to field a backup. New Orleans started four different quarterbacks and still finished with a better record than Seattle.

The future of Wilson remains a big question mark. Again, we’re only 12 days removed from this article by Adam Schefter.

I think change is important and reasonable. If nothing else though, I think if the status quo remains the fanbase is owed a bit more of an explanation on how this team intends to return to contention.

Just going along, bringing every staff member back, not shifting anything in the front office, cracking on with perhaps a few minor tweaks doesn’t feel adequate.

And therefore, given the well publicised meetings this week reported by some members of the national media — it’s not unreasonable to expect some kind of communication from the team.

We don’t need to know any state secrets. Yet bringing the fans — all of the fans — on a journey in 2022 is still important.

Those pushing back against the need to do this might be content. But they aren’t the entire fan base. And it’s not a tiny minority, I’d suggest, who want some answers. Certainly none were provided by Carroll in his ‘everything’s just peachy’ press conference on Monday.

If nothing else — the mystery surrounding the team isn’t healthy. It wasn’t last year either, when the Seahawks refused to address the Wilson saga. It just left everything hanging, created anxiety in some cases and had the fans warring against each other on Twitter.

That’s happening again already. Where’s the benefit in that?

Would it really hurt the Seahawks to release a statement, if the status quo is remaining, saying that all parties look forward to working together to return the team to the playoffs next season?

Just let everyone get on with their lives.

I’m not sure what’s wrong with that.

Yet I see a tweet like this:

And it embodies the snarky, unnecessarily dismissive tone that just creates tension.

Why does it have to be this way?

The simple answer is — it doesn’t.

Communicating with your fans is par for the course. Putting minds at ease, getting everyone on board — that’s what everyone wants.

I’d rather know, than assume, it’s business as usual. Unless, of course it isn’t. And in that case, maybe certain people could just pipe down acting like that’s the case when in truth — none of us really know anything.

This week I was invited onto the Pedestrian Podcast with Stu and Adam to discuss the future of Pete Carroll, Russell Wilson and the Seahawks.

It’s a good conversation so be sure to check it out below…

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New podcast appearance: Pedestrian Podcast

Friday, January 14th, 2022

This week I was invited onto the Pedestrian Podcast with Stu and Adam to discuss the future of Pete Carroll, Russell Wilson and the Seahawks.

It’s a good conversation so be sure to check it out below…

Pete Carroll’s press conference tactics were deliberate

Tuesday, January 11th, 2022

Make no mistake — Pete Carroll’s end of season press conference was an attempt to set the narrative.

Carroll wanted to send the message that everything was just fine. The Seahawks were on the right track and there was nothing to worry about.

Concerns around their drafting, decision making, scheming and performance were brushed aside. This was a franchise that was simply a little unlucky.

It sounded like a pitch to ownership, more than anything else. An accommodating group of journalists would relay the message to the masses.

This tweet from ‘Idaho Highlander’ summed it up perfectly:

I want to come back to Russell Wilson’s role in a moment. Firstly though, I want to dive into what Carroll said.

There were two striking issues with the press conference. Firstly, the rejection of any implied criticism of the way they’ve drafted (and built the team). Secondly, the relentless talk of being ‘close’ and having the key components of a Championship caliber roster.

Carroll: “We’ve been so close throughout the whole season”

That simply isn’t true. They have the weakest roster in the NFC West. What happened this year has been on the cards for a while. They aren’t close and haven’t been close at any point this season.

They’ve built the team poorly, they’ve wasted resources and the same problems keep repeating while new ones emerge.

This was a rambling performance from Carroll, speaking without the kind of steely direction that was so evident when he took the job in 2010. Instead of a man with a vision and the motivation to execute his plan — he appeared to be trying to justify his continued employment. This was a survival mission of a press conference, rather than a convincing display that made you feel confident that he was remotely willing to make the necessary changes.

It felt like his platitudes and phrases were meant for Jody Allen, while trying to fill out the media articles and airwaves with positivity to strengthen his own position.

It was self-preservation and it mostly went unchallenged.

I came away from it all wondering whether sticking by Carroll was for his benefit or ours, as fans of a team we hope to see return to the Super Bowl.

The rather meaningless win against a well below-par Arizona (1-4 in their last five, including a 30-12 loss to Detroit) has seemingly convinced large swathes of the fan base that this team is in a strong position. Yet there are glaring issues that need to be addressed.

Listening to Carroll however, you wouldn’t know it. He played off that win to paint a picture that defies reality.

I couldn’t help but think this is one of Wilson’s big issues with the Seahawks.

Who in ownership is sitting Carroll down and challenging him?

Where is the accountability?

Even if Jody Allen and co. have no interest in firing Carroll — there still needs to be some serious questions asked.

Do they have the best possible staff? Look at the names available at the moment. A team is going to employ Vic Fangio as defensive coordinator in the coming days. Why aren’t the Seahawks looking at that?

After four years of having Ken Norton Jr as defensive coordinator, is it not time to consider a fresh approach there? After all — look at the way the defense started the 2020 and 2021 seasons as a jumbled mess.

The ‘bear front’ plan didn’t work at all. It took them until the final weeks of the season to realise a.) dropping your best pass rushers into coverage isn’t a good idea and b.) Carlos Dunlap should be getting more than a handful of snaps a game.

Should Carroll be prepared to introduce some outsiders to his staff? Rather than basically employing a series of old pals who will do what he wants? Don’t we all need to be challenged from time to time? Why is Carroll seemingly only prepared to surround himself with people who won’t challenge him?

He admitted a year ago that Carl ‘Tater’ Smith and his son Nate were his main sources of accountability. Does that not concern ownership?

The Seahawks should be aspiring to have staff members who are coveted by other teams for future Head Coaching roles. Norton Jr is never going to be considered for a top gig. Doesn’t that say everything we need to know?

Does Carroll have too much control over personnel? Why does he think they have drafted well? Shouldn’t they be learning lessons on how they’ve used their resources? Are they spending their money in the right areas?

The drafting point, in particular, was a big concern for me. Carroll spoke at length to defend Seattle’s recent record, leaning on an excuse that John Schneider also mentioned on the radio on Sunday.

Both the GM and the Head Coach have now complained about not picking in the top-10 and therefore ‘not having access’ to the ‘top names’ in a class.

It’s a ridiculous point that deserves far more of a challenge than either Carroll or Schneider received when they uttered the words.

You don’t need to pick that early to acquire top-tier talent. Let’s run through the names that were drafted from 2016-2020 in the range Seattle picked:

2016 — Kenny Clark, Chris Jones, Xavien Howard, Derrick Henry, Michael Thomas

2017 — Tre’Davious White, T.J. Watt, Ryan Ramczyk, Budda Baker, Dalvin Cook

2018 — Lamar Jackson, Nick Chubb, Darius Leonard, Jaire Alexander, Frank Ragnow, Leighton Vander Esch, D.J. Moore, Calvin Ridley

2019 — Montez Sweat, Josh Jacobs, Deebo Samuel, Elgton Jenkins, A.J. Brown

2020 — Jonathan Taylor, Trevon Diggs

The Seahawks could’ve had any of these players. Instead, they selected Germain Ifedi, Malik McDowell, Rashaad Penny, L.J. Collier, Marquis Blair and Jordyn Brooks.

They have had ample opportunity to draft world class stars and they simply made bad decisions.

Their opinion that not picking in the top-10 has put them at a disadvantage is frankly ridiculous and flat out wrong. Yet they have both said it, unchallenged, in the last 48 hours.

Even worse, this viewpoint was seemingly a big motivating factor in their decision to trade for Jamal Adams. Their line of thinking, it appears, was that they might as well spend two late first round picks on a big name player because in their eyes, those late first rounders are not providing any value.

Not only is that completely wrong because their own bad decisions devalued those picks, not the available talent — but the deal for Adams has also ended up costing them a top-10 pick which they’re now sending to the Jets, because the team has flopped to 7-10.

So while they complain about not picking in the top-10, their own bad decision making is going to prevent them from being able to do the thing they crave.

You couldn’t make it up.

Seattle has now committed $17.5m a year to Adams — a player who has already had two serious shoulder injuries since the trade. Meanwhile, the defense suffered no noticeable drop-off when he was absent. Ryan Neal, on a free agent salary, has provided a perfectly adequate, if not superior, replacement.

And that brings us back to their resource spend. Someone in ownership needs to challenge Carroll on their drafting, not allow him to call it a job well done (as he did in his press conference). They also need to question how they can justify spending as much as they are on Bobby Wagner and Adams when the defensive performance is no worse when they’re not playing.

The Seahawks spent nearly $100m in free agency in 2020 and 2021. How do they justify how they’ve used that money? Carroll should be made to defend that record and explain in detail how they’re going to do things differently.

He did admit during the press conference that fixing the pass rush was the off-season priority. Usually, I would say that was great to hear. It absolutely must be a priority.

Yet he said the same thing in 2020. What happened then? They failed to convince Jadeveon Clowney to come back to Seattle — a priority re-sign in their words. Instead they brought in Bruce Irvin and Benson Mayowa and felt that was enough.

That is what ‘fixing the pass rush’ looked like in 2020. And what happened? Their pass rush was even worse when the season kicked off.

I’d like to look at a player like Chandler Jones and think the Seahawks would move heaven and earth to bring him in. That would be a real signal of intent. Imagine Jones lining up with Dunlap and Darrell Taylor? That would be a tour de force.

You could then use pick #41 (or even move up) to draft an interior pass rusher such as Georgia’s brilliant Devonte Wyatt or Houston’s Logan Hall.

That would do more than anything to elevate this team to a new level.

Yet based on their last two off-seasons they’re more likely to cut Dunlap like they did with Jarran Reed, before spending $2-3m on a random journeyman and extolling the benefits of depth over elite talent.

That plan hasn’t worked. Yet you’d never know it from Carroll’s words. They’ve just been a little unfortunate, don’t you know?

There have been consistent issues with the team. Third downs. Fluctuating production on offense — jumping from amazing to awful and vice versa. The running game hasn’t been consistent since the Marshawn Lynch days. The defense gives up way too many yards and can’t get off the field and has struggled to turn the ball over.

Why are these problems never resolved?

The Seahawks are pitched as a success story because they’ve won a lot of regular season games. Yet their record of one lousy playoff win in five years is of much more pressing concern.

Their post-season record was bad enough as it was, without missing out on an extended playoff structure this year. They couldn’t even finish as the seventh best team in the NFC.

A quick reminder that #5 Arizona, #6 San Francisco and #7 Philadelphia have all been forced to use backup quarterbacks too. New Orleans, the #8 seed, have had to use four quarterbacks (and none of them are any good).

They still won more games than Seattle.

Losing Wilson for a few weeks was a convenient excuse. Carroll needs to explain why they couldn’t handle it better than they did. He needs to explain why they were left to rely on a quarterback as thoroughly mediocre as Geno Smith is. Why haven’t they done a better job finding a backup to Wilson over the years?

Why will more of the same shift their playoff fortunes, if they even qualify next season? How do they go from post-season also-rans to serious contenders? Why have so many of their playoff exits since 2014 been embarrassing blowouts?

All of this was brushed off. Because the intention of this press conference was to set a positive narrative. There are no problems here. We’re OK. I’m OK. My job isn’t at risk. We’ll have the usual meetings and then crack on. We are a good team. There’s lots to be excited about.

In other words…

If ownership buys Carroll’s spiel and allows things to carry on as normal, I fear we’ll be right back here in 12 months having the same conversation.

We know Paul Allen used to challenge Carroll. It was reported not so long ago that he insisted they bring in Mike Pettine in 2017 as an outside voice to offer different viewpoints.

If Paul was with us today — I’m pretty sure he’d be demanding some answers to some serious questions. If nothing else, he’d be ordering things to be done differently.

Since his passing in 2018, it feels like all of that has been lost. It feels like Carroll is pretty much a law unto himself. He doesn’t have to answer to anyone and thus, there’s nobody really asking for an explanation when things go wrong.

This is a major, major problem that a win in Arizona shouldn’t cloud and it’s why I sincerely hope ownership are prepared to overlook that one game and the feel-good factor it’s provided, plus Carroll’s press conference attempt to control the narrative, and make some big decisions.

Even if Carroll stays — the Seahawks have to do things differently. The way they draft, the way they approach free agency. Carroll should have less control here.

They should also insist on staffing changes with outside voices being brought in.

If Carroll resists this change, then the next step is obvious for both parties. But he shouldn’t be allowed to dictate the running of this team. He can no longer control everything without any accountability.

There has to be some self-reflection and adjustment after a 7-10 season. We can’t just pretend it didn’t happen.

Colin Cowherd has talked repeatedly about the extent of Carroll’s control being a problem in Seattle. That means Wilson thinks it’s a problem. Clearly Cowherd’s sources are from the Wilson camp.

They aren’t limited to the Wilson camp though. In this piece yesterday he cited a source who worked in Seattle’s scouting department within the last five years (fast forward to 9:00):

According to Cowherd’s source, John Schneider ‘too often deferred to the coach and not the scouting department’.

This is the problem. Too much power and control.

Wilson sees this as an issue, among other issues.

When I see people reducing Wilson’s dissatisfaction to a mere ‘he wants to throw more’ angle — as Mike Salk did last week — it’s really frustrating. This goes way beyond that. It’s about many things, including Carroll’s unshakeable power in Seattle and a feeling that his philosophy, and the decisions he makes, are not going to put this team in a position to succeed at the very top.

If ownership isn’t willing to challenge Carroll — and if things don’t change — Wilson’s next move will be interesting.

A lot of people are suddenly talking themselves into believing he will be content to come back and carry on. Those people are kidding themselves.

Here’s what Adam Schefter reported on January 2nd:

Pete Carroll & Russell Wilson duo set for possible finale with Seattle Seahawks, sources say

There is a leaguewide feeling, according to sources, that Carroll and Wilson will not be together again next season, which would represent the end of one of the most successful head coach/quarterback duos in NFL history.

Wilson has said several times that his first desire would be to remain in Seattle, but only if the Seahawks’ desire to win matches his.

The offseason decisions on Carroll, who is under contract through the 2025 season, and Wilson, who has two years remaining on his current deal, will hinge on team chair Jody Allen, who has been the Seahawks’ de facto owner since her brother Paul died in 2018.

Some sources believe Schneider is open to starting anew with added draft picks, but he also knows the value of a quarterback like Wilson.

That was just over a week ago. That article was clearly sourced from the Wilson camp. After all, it’s the same journalist who broke the story on the potential trade destinations last off-season.

This article deserves some contemplation. Carroll can say what he wants in the press conference on Monday. It’s going to be up to Jody Allen to determine the path forward.

Carroll’s press conference was his pitch for continuity that he will no doubt relay to Allen. When she speaks to John Schneider, he may well voice a preference to trade Wilson, as the article suggests. If she speaks to Wilson — he will actively voice a desire for change at the top or a trade.

If he doesn’t have a direct line to ownership, expect a media onslaught pretty soon.

Something’s got to give. Allen has to consider a lot of things here, not just Carroll’s preference. He’s tried to imply everything is fine with ownership and the quarterback. Really, he’s in no position to speak for either with confidence.

While it feels like the status quo is likely right now — the truth is there are many chess moves still to be made.

Wilson will not just go along quietly. If you think some form of change is needed, as I do, he’s the one big hope in all of this. He’s the only one who can make ownership sit up and take notice.

Failing that, he’ll ask for a new team. Which could provoke even bigger changes than people realise.

I still maintain that Carroll doesn’t see a future without Wilson. He isn’t talking about any rebuilds here. If he’s forced into one, I don’t think he will accept it.

That remains the key point. Because equally, I don’t think Wilson sees a future in Seattle with Carroll in position, controlling everything as he currently does.

The meetings between Allen and the key components here are crucial.

We heard Carroll’s side of the story on Monday. It was confidence-sapping, denialist and somewhat insulting to our intelligence.

I hope Allen sees it that way too and ensures some degree of change occurs. The thought of the Seahawks just carrying on as normal after the season they’ve just had would’ve been unthinkable two weeks ago. A good win to end the season shouldn’t change that.

Mike McCarthy was an equally successful coach as Carroll. He could make a lot of the same arguments Carroll made in his press conference yesterday. The Green Bay Packers made a change because they could sense it was time. And it was time.

They made a difficult but necessary call and have been rewarded.

The Seahawks need to follow suit.

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It’s time for change

Monday, January 10th, 2022

The win in Arizona shouldn’t fool anyone but I fear it has done.

It was a good victory against a lacklustre Cardinals outfit. The Seahawks have finished strongly with two wins. Yet a fortnight ago, they lost hopelessly to the Chicago Bears.

When your season ends in the playoffs, it’s usually off the back of a defeat and you analyse from the perspective of disappointment. This year Seattle were well out of the post-season race and they’ve ended with a win. The end result is still the same and should be reflected on as such. Yet it feels like the victory has glossed over a whole bunch of issues we should be discussing.

The need for change goes way beyond what happened in games at the end of this season. Let’s not forget that Detroit similarly beat the Packers on Sunday, the Jaguars knocked the Colts out of the playoffs and last week the Jets should’ve beaten Tom Brady and Tampa Bay.

The Seahawks haven’t just had an ‘off’ year. They haven’t been an ascending team for years. They haven’t looked like a true contender for years. The 2021 season was a step backwards from what was already a frustrating situation, with the team basically amounting to a car stuck in the mud spinning its wheels.

Hearing Pete Carroll talk up ‘carrying on’ and having another go next year is difficult to take. I speak as someone who hugely appreciates and respects what Carroll has achieved in Seattle. I suspect nearly all of us do. Yet he shouldn’t be allowed to claim this team is ‘close’. It isn’t.

The use of resources since the 2018 reset has been galling. They squandered tens of millions of dollars in the last two off-seasons on average players who didn’t elevate the team to a new level.

They’ve taken a path of depth over quality and it hasn’t worked.

The Jamal Adams trade was a disaster and his contract could be a lead weight for two more years.

They’ve neglected the trenches and spent money and high picks at safety and linebacker instead.

Carroll has a philosophy of wanting to run the ball and the Seahawks are clearly at their best when they’re able to do so. Yet he places too much faith in injury-prone runners and hasn’t built his team from the inside-out.

They’ve drafted extremely poorly — emphasised by the disastrous start to the 2019 draft, passing on the likes of Creed Humphrey a year ago for a WR3 they don’t know how to use effectively and opting not to select a number of proven stars at positions of need when they were on the clock (T.J. Watt, Jonathan Taylor, Budda Baker, Nick Chubb, Ryan Ramczyk etc).

They complain, as John Schneider did on the radio on Sunday, about not having an opportunity to pick in the top-10 like their NFC West neighbours. And yet having created a team sufficiently bad enough to end up in that position — they won’t get the chance to use their top-10 pick because they blew it on a desperate trade a year ago for the most expensive box safety in NFL history.

The Seahawks should be setting out to build the best staff possible. Instead, they’ve become an old pals act.

Carroll employs Carl ‘Tater’ Smith, Ken Norton Jr and one of his sons. Norton Jr should be on the way out after back-to-back seasons where the defense began as a disorganised mess. They should be pulling out all of the stops to employ Vic Fangio or someone similar. Yet they won’t, because Carroll feels he needs to have complete control over everything to the point he’s seemingly only willing to employ defensive coordinators who are ‘his guys’.

The Seahawks need a new direction. If Carroll was willing to embrace taking a back seat, handing more control to top-tier coordinators and taking on the role of Nick Saban-style figurehead, that would be plausible as a way forward. The status quo, however, with Carroll controlling everything from top to bottom, cannot go on any longer.

They have one playoff win in five years. Nothing about the 2021 season suggested they’re on a pathway to changing that. That one playoff win came against an Eagles team that lost its starting quarterback in the first half and had to play a 40-year-old backup.

If they try and roll this back, all we’ll end up with is months of uncertainty about Russell Wilson’s future. I know some fans have started to kid themselves that Wilson is actually perfectly content. They forget we’re a week removed from Adam Schefter reporting his continued dissatisfaction and desire for change and Wilson actively questioning his future by declaring he ‘hoped’ the Detroit game wouldn’t be his last as a Seahawk in Seattle.

If you want weeks of Colin Cowherd, Brandon Marshall, Adam Schefter and Jason La Canfora reporting daily updates on Wilson’s desire to go elsewhere — root for the status quo.

He wants change and he acknowledges what a lot of us have also concluded — this team needs a fresh start, with fresh ideas and a new approach.

Forget the money owed to Carroll on his contract. This is a franchise that has just committed a huge lump sum to Jamal Adams. In Paul Allen’s days, they wrote off a huge chunk of cash to fire Jim Mora.

If they want to make a change, they can do. They shouldn’t be swayed by a good win against Arizona or the price of a sunk-cost pay-off.

The following message should be delivered to Carroll. Embrace adopting the position of Saban-esque leader with top coordinators or be prepared to lose your job. Cede more personnel control to the GM. Be prepared to make changes. Do what you’re best at — leading and motivating. Let others handle the roster construction and the X’s and O’s.

If he does those things, and if Wilson is given more input into the philosophy, they have a shot to progress forward together.

Make the right decisions in the off-season and investing in the trenches will give them a chance to succeed, too.

Change doesn’t have to mean firing the coach. The Seahawks can’t pretend that they’re on the right track though, or believe more of the same will produce different results.

If Carroll’s intention is to ‘have another go’ in 2022 with largely the same cast of characters — it’ll simply be a waste of everyone’s time. It’ll be more of the same, a continuation of the last few years where the Seahawks have been on the periphery — paper tigers and not a serious contender in the post-season.

We’ll be having the same conversations during and after the season that we’ve been having for the last three years.

Without change, Wilson is going to agitate to leave. He won’t waste another year of his career. And if the Seahawks put their fingers in their ears again, it won’t be good for anyone. The franchise can’t stay in limbo with question marks at quarterback every year.

The fans deserve a proper resolution too. The whole topic of Carroll and Wilson is tearing the fan base apart online. Everyone is arguing about it. It’ll be poor leadership from the very top if this subject lingers on and on for weeks and months — dominating the daily NFL news cycle as it did a year ago.

If the status quo remains, I think we need to have it confirmed. There’s no need for any lingering questions or discussion. If Wilson intends to seek a trade, then he should just rip off the band-aid. As I’m sure many will agree — I can process clarity, whatever it ends up being. The unknown is what ends up becoming so divisive.

For more on this whole topic, I wrote a lengthy piece on Carroll’s future here and why change is necessary.

Pete Carroll deserves to be recognised as a Seahawks legend — but it’s time.

It’s time for a change.

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Instant reaction: Seahawks finish with a win in Arizona

Sunday, January 9th, 2022

The Seahawks saved arguably their best performance for last. This was a crushing win against the Cardinals.

Arizona was strangely flat given what was at stake. I covered the Cardinals last week against the Cowboys for the national radio broadcast in the UK. They took the game to Dallas and earned an impressive win.

Here, they blew an opportunity to win the NFC West — given the Rams collapsed at home against the Niners.

It was if they never really believed they had a shot to finish in first place. Meanwhile, the Seahawks were amped up — led by a coach and quarterback seemingly especially keen to make a point.

Wilson had two really bad turnovers but aside from that, he was superb.

This is why all talk of trading him should be shelved. The people who peddle that viewpoint can never provide a serious alternative plan. They always operate in a cloud of mystery. ‘Draft someone’. ‘Sign someone’. No names are ever attached to these ideas.

There are multiple fan bases who would watch what we saw today and say they are desperate for someone like Wilson to give them any kind of hope for the future.

Trading him for picks in the worst draft for eight years would be beyond foolish.

That means, ultimately, they have to make a big decision over the next few days.

The local media will talk about everyone coming back and we’ll hear about any Wilson trade being ‘click bait’ or a ‘non-story’.

We shouldn’t have to discuss this at a level of working out the validity of Wilson’s dissatisfaction. We all know what’s going on by now.

The quarterback wants to stay in Seattle, ideally. But it’s going to take change at the top. It really is as simple as that.

It’s not that he and Pete Carroll don’t get on. It’s just about completely opposing philosophies on what it’s going to take to be a consistent, serious contender for the next 8-10 years.

As good as this win was — I hope Jody Allen doesn’t kid herself that this is a sign of anything other than a nice ending. Two weeks ago, this same team lost at home to the hapless Chicago Bears.

Wilson’s viewpoint won’t change after today. And he has to be the focal point of the franchise moving forward.

Elsewhere, Rashaad Penny will be a bigger talking point than anyone expected this off-season. Another blistering display creates two difficult questions to answer. Should they keep him and how much should they be willing to pay him?

On the one hand he’s looked excellent in the last five games. On the other, it’s taken four years to see this and there’s a serious ‘fools gold’ vibe to this run — even if he’s looked exciting.

Honestly, I have no idea what they should do. I suspect most fans feel the same way.

Ultimately though I think you have to let him discover his market before making a decision and that means waiting until free agency.

Clearly everyone will be devastated for Quandre Diggs. It was a horrible scene to see him leave the field in tears. I hate that stadium, I’m sure we all do.

Carlos Dunlap playing his best football when the season is over is frustrating but he’s earned a shot to come back and play 17 games next season instead of six.

There should be no doubt what Seattle’s roster strength is right now. It’s the Wilson-to-Lockett combine. That’s the one thing you’ve got you can hang your hat on.

The Seahawks should try to sign Chandler Jones. Pairing him with Dunlap and Darrell Taylor would be exciting — especially if they can add an actual interior pass rusher too.

We’ve finally made it to the end. With the way the Seahawks have played, the extra game and new rules such as the ridiculous taunting penalty, this has been probably my least enjoyable season following the sport along with 2009.

I want to be excited by the Seahawks again and I want to see the franchise make the changes to get us all believing, once more, that Championships are possible.

Pete Carroll is a Seahawks legend. But after 12 years, it’s time. Leave with a flourish and let us remember the good times. Allow us all to move forward and see what the next era brings.

The off-season is here and this is a blog that was made for it.

Let’s go…

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The speculation is building ahead of the final game

Saturday, January 8th, 2022

Over the last 24 hours the rumour mill has suddenly picked up.

That’s not surprising. We’re at that time of the year.

And the Seahawks and Pete Carroll are being talked about a lot.

Ultimately, this tweet sums up the situation perfectly:

Nobody knows what will happen next.

‘Jody Allen won’t do that’ or ‘that won’t happen’ has been said a lot by fans and media alike over the last few weeks. Yet the truth is nobody has a clue. Allen doesn’t talk to the media. By the sound of things, she hasn’t told the ‘big three’ what her plans are either.

It’s possible she’s a huge Russell Wilson fan and if he tells her that he wants a trade without changes at Head Coach and GM — she may act.

Alternatively she might be indifferent to Wilson and encourage Carroll and Schneider to trade him.

The thing is, there are so many moving parts to this.

As discussed a few days ago — I personally don’t think Carroll sees a future in Seattle without Wilson.

He’s 71 this year. Trading Wilson means a long, painful search for a replacement. The free agent market is dire, as is the draft class.

I’m convinced he will have no interest in a rebuild that could take years. He doesn’t have years. He’s in win-now mode. He signed a five-year contract with his team sitting at 6-1 last year. He thought he was committing to a run at a Championship.

It’s just totally implausible to me to imagine Carroll trading Wilson and then basically having to blow everything up. Heck — he was even talking about retaining Bobby Wagner this week, despite the fact he’s owed $20m this year and has expressed no interest in re-working his deal.

In Carroll’s world they need to bring the band back and make subtle changes.

If asked, that’s likely what he would pitch to Jody Allen.

The thing is — while there’s probably no Carroll in Seattle without Wilson, there’s equally no Wilson in Seattle with Carroll.

People have started to talk themselves into believing he’d consider coming back. I’m not sure why. He stood at the podium last week and announced, unprovoked, that he ‘hoped’ the Detroit game wouldn’t be his last as a Seahawk at Lumen Field.

On the day of the game, Adam Schefter published a piece that was blatantly from the Wilson camp that touted dissatisfaction and a possible trade.

Wilson wants to stay in Seattle, he’s made that abundantly clear numerous times. He wants change though. Not because he hates Carroll or anything like that. He wants to win. He doesn’t think he’ll win with the current setup or philosophy.

This forces Jody Allen to act. She has to pick her path forward.

And this, to me, is why we’re starting to see rumours. It’s a mix of the unknown, the fact that it hasn’t been made clear to one of the many national journalists that Carroll will be back (which could’ve been announced at any time over the last month) and the fact that ultimately Allen has to make a call one way or the other.

If she chooses to trade Wilson, Carroll will need convincing to stay anyway.

If she chooses Wilson, she likely needs to fire Carroll (and Schneider).

The only viable way Carroll returns, at least to me, is if Wilson agrees to give it another go. As we’ve established though, that’s about as likely as Antonio Brown winning ‘Walter Payton man of the year’.

Seattle’s quarterback pushed for a move last off-season, whether people wish to believe it or not. Now, with a six or seven win season at best guaranteed, he’s not going to waste another year of his career. He turns 34 in November.

Either change happens in Seattle, or he goes somewhere else.

If the Seahawks refuse to trade him and force him to play on with Carroll and Schneider intact — it will not benefit anyone. It will be an even bigger distraction than it has been over the last 12 months.

So one way or another, something’s got to give.

That brings me on to the chatter.

Mike Fisher, who is well connected in Dallas, reports that Dan Quinn will be high on Seattle’s list if they move on from Carroll.

I’m not enthused by the link. Quinn has done a tremendous job in Dallas but he’s also inherited a team with Micah Parsons (who is threatening to become the best defensive player in the league not named Aaron Donald), Trevon Diggs and DeMarcus Lawrence.

In Seattle, he equally benefitted from coaching the LOB era defense. Remember, he took over as defensive coordinator in 2013.

His best achievement as a Head Coach in Atlanta was appointing Kyle Shanahan as offensive coordinator. Shanahan coached Matt Ryan to the MVP award and the Falcons’ explosive offense carried them to a Super Bowl they should’ve won.

When Shanahan left after two seasons, Atlanta’s form collapsed. They went from 8-8 in 2015 to 11-5 in 2016. Then they fell to 10-6 in 2015 (finishing third in the NFC South), 7-9 in 2018 and 2019 and Quinn was fired after an 0-5 start in 2020.

19-13 with Shanahan.

24-29 without Shanahan.

To me, Quinn is a lucky coach who has benefitted from the presence of others.

Give him a sensational defensive roster and he can make things happen, as he did in Seattle and Dallas. Ask him to oversee a big rebuild or inherit an average group that needs to be developed? I’m not sold.

If he comes with a top offensive coordinator, fantastic. It could work. I’d just make the OC the Head Coach. After all, the Falcons would’ve probably been better off promoting Shanahan after the 2016 campaign, rather than letting him go to San Francisco.

My preference would still be an offensive minded Head Coach — such as a Sean Payton, Doug Pederson or an up-and-coming coordinator, paired with a new GM (such as Indianapolis’ Ed Dodds) and a highly touted defensive coordinator either with great experience (Vic Fangio, once fired by Denver) or a blossoming star such as Philly defensive back coach Dennard Wilson.

Still, the Quinn link means at least people within the league — or at least within the Cowboys organisation — are wondering what the Seahawks are going to do.

Jason La Canfora also published a piece that looked at the possibility of changes being made:

The Seahawks are considering whether or not a rebuild is required in 2022, sources said, which could lead them to move on from longtime coach Pete Carroll, who is nearing the end of his career and already in his 70s. Moving on from such a winning coach, who has built a unique culture in Seattle, would not be easy, nor would trading future Hall of Fame quarterback Russell Wilson, but given the state of the team’s personnel and its lack of draft capital, neither moving on would be surprising at this point.

La Canfora’s report says a lot without really providing anything we don’t already know. Yet he’s citing sources in the first sentence that ‘the Seahawks are considering whether a rebuild is required, which could lead them to move on from Pete Carroll’.

Mike Garofolo reports the Seahawks have ‘no plans’ to trade Wilson (which is exactly what you would say, whatever your intentions, given you want to max out leverage in any situation). However, Garofolo also says:

“Seahawks coach Pete Carroll’s future, on the other hand, is so uncertain as his first losing season in a decade comes to a close that even those who work closely with him on a daily basis don’t know what the near future holds.”

Albert Breer admitted Allen is such an unknown that whatever happens will be unpredictable. Yet he also added: “Would Allen fire Carroll? My sense is GM John Schneider is safer than Carroll.”

Then there was yesterday’s report where Tony Pauline suggested UCLA could be interested in Carroll if he was fired. I reached out to Tony last night and he felt it was a 50/50 proposition whether Carroll leaves the Seahawks.

Allen might make a public declaration of backing for Carroll tomorrow and this will all be a moot point. I did find it interesting that the wheels have been turning over the last 24 hours and the chatter around Carroll’s future has picked up.

In the weirdest way, it’s almost fitting that some kind of era will end tomorrow when the Seahawks play in Arizona.

It’s the stadium where Carroll and Wilson first played a regular season game together in 2012. It’s the stadium where the Seahawks careers of Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas all ended. And, of course, it’s where that Super Bowl was played.

Tomorrow it might claim another victim. The Carroll era, the Wilson era, or maybe even both.

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Curtis Allen’s week eighteen watch points (vs Arizona)

Friday, January 7th, 2022

Note: This is a guest post by Curtis Allen and the latest piece in a weekly series. Curtis looks at the Seahawks and their opponents and discusses key factors.

I’d also like to encourage all members of this community to celebrate how awesome this series has been. This has been a challenging season for the Seahawks, yet Curtis continued to dig into the details and provide amazing content.

I would personally like to thank Curtis for his weekly article. They have been fantastic and have really added something special to the blog.

Thank you.

We are almost at the finish line of this incredibly disappointing season, with only a stop in Arizona to visit the Cardinals left.

And so it must be. Witnessing what might be the final game of the Pete Carroll / Russell Wilson era being played out in a stadium where the Seahawks have won so frequently but also endured some of the most wrenchingly agonizing moments a franchise can possibly be subjected to is just so ironically fitting it hurts.

Among the many, many lowlights experienced in Arizona:

-Super Bowl 49

-Losing Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor to injuries in Week 9 of 2017 for good in the same game

-Losing Earl Thomas the very next time they came to Arizona to a season-ending leg injury – Week 4 of 2018, and watching Thomas give Pete Carroll the middle finger while being carted off

-The Week 7 game last year featuring the second-half collapse, also known as the ‘If Game’…if Damien Lewis makes the right block, if Benson Mayowa doesn’t jump offside on the field goal try, if Bobby Wagner doesn’t get that ticky-tack roughing penalty, if David Moore doesn’t commit a needless holding penalty on the DK catch and run TD winner…

Why not witness what is likely to be the final iteration of the franchise in this house of horrors?

This season, this tenure, this run as a franchise could not end any other way but on the field that has marked so many painful memories.

While it appears there would not be much more left to play for than pride, there are some markers to think about that could have an impact on the books of this season:

-They can play division spoiler by forcing the Cardinals to play as a wild card instead of hosting a playoff game at home as division champion.

-A final season record of 7-10 looks far, far better than 6-11. A seven-win season would also oddly bookend Pete Carroll’s first season with the team.

Here are some things to keep an eye on in this matchup…

The defense simply must not miss tackles

Last season, the Seahawks defense was not great but it did finish fifth in the NFL with only 88 missed tackles. That is something to hang your hat on.

How are they doing this season? Well, they reached 88 missed tackles three weeks ago in the Houston game. They have slipped from fifth in the NFL last year to twenty-second this year, which does align with the defensive challenges we have seen.

Have a look at this quick chart showing their missed tackles per game since Week 10, the time of possession difference and the game outcome:

 

Have the Seahawks lost the time of possession battle and games specifically because of this one stat? No — but it does point to their troubles.

This issue is a chicken-and-egg problem for the team. They cannot get off the field as a defense, so they get tired and the opportunity for missed tackles increases. Which means they still cannot get off the field.

Why is it being brought up now, against the Cardinals?

Unfortunately, 17 of those 88 missed tackles last year came in their two games against the Cardinals, including an awful thirteen in Week 7. As you can see from the chart above, they didn’t do themselves any favors by missing eight tackles against this team in Week 11 this year.

They must tackle better in order to keep pace in this game.

Guys vying for jobs in 2022, this is an opportunity to showcase yourselves

This aspect at the end of the season always seems a bit overrated to me. A guy who has not turned the coaches’ heads enough in practice to get on the field and get real game reps may not be able to make his case in a relatively meaningless game at the end of the season enough to really change any minds.

However, with this team in its current state of potential flux, almost twenty roster spots up for grabs next year, and several injuries that have been sustained lately, there is an opportunity to see some of the players that may have a real chance to contribute to 2022’s success on display this week.

-Colby Parkinson is the only tight end contracted for 2022. He has rarely been targeted this year, let alone featured in the offense. The Seahawks have used him for blocking and special teams more than as a pass-catching weapon. A few catches for first downs and maybe even a touchdown would relieve a lot of anxiety about the position.

-Cody Barton will likely feature heavily at linebacker. He had perhaps his best game as a professional Sunday against Detroit, filling in for the injured Bobby Wagner. Chances are he will play quite a bit again this week but against a much better opponent. Can he force his way into the conversation and be more than just a special teams player and backup next season? The team has twenty million reasons to want him to take a major step forward.

-Jake Curhan has been filling in for the injured Brandon Shell at right tackle and playing well. Have the Seahawks found something there? The possibility of paying a rookie salary for a starting right tackle for the next three seasons would go a long, long way towards helping this team to quickly get back on their feet roster-wise. How will he play against Chandler Jones and Marcus Golden?

-Dee Eskridge seems doomed by the Seahawks Rookie Curse, which demands that first-year players just spin their wheels in the trainer’s room or on the practice field for the entire season. A weapon of his ability needs to be integrated into this offense in order to introduce an element of unpredictability that gives defenders just enough pauses to open up some other areas. Is it too much to ask for a couple plays of this nature on Sunday to give us something positive to talk about this offseason?

-Rashaad Penny has done extremely well against poor defenses and yet has not been able to establish himself against good defenses. The Cardinals are the 11th-ranked defense against the run this year. These last few games have been an extended interview for the Seahawks and other teams to show what he can do next year. A good to great game against the Cardinals would put a punctuation mark on that resume and push it further up the pile.

Contain Kyler Murray

This will probably be a watch point for a Seahawks-Cardinals matchup until he retires or moves on to another team. He has taken a big, big step up this year and is leading the Cardinals into the next echelon of teams.

I put his 2021 play this way in my Week Eleven Watch Points piece:

He is maturing as a passer and taking it out on defenses across the league.

Is he playing the same style he always has, just at a higher level? No. He has changed his play significantly. He has vastly reined in his rushing attempts in 2021. So far this year he only has 147 rushing yards in eight games. For comparison, he gained more rushing yards in only the first two games last season.

The Cardinals have given him so many weapons for the passing game, and supplemented that with good runners, Murray does not need to run the ball as much to provide the team with offense.

He is still deadly with his feet though. He just uses them differently. Primarily this season, it is to escape the pass rush and buy time for receivers to get open — and he is doing an absolutely incredible job at it.

The ball just zips out of his hands. Which is nothing new — but now it comes out with more touch and accuracy than ever before. He is currently completing 69% of his passes, which is higher than Russell Wilson has ever achieved in a season.

He appears to not have as much trouble as you would think with his height and seeing his targets clearly. As I noted in Week Eleven, he is able to use his feet to move away from blitzers and at the same time, get a good view of the field. Now he can do it without sacrificing much accuracy in his throws.

I suggested a way to defend Murray in the piece:

Is there a way to take the edge off of his play, perhaps at a few key times that can disrupt him and frustrate this brilliant player? There is.

The Seahawks need to employ a delayed blitz / spy role defender against Murray on Sunday.

He has developed a habit this year that has yet to be properly exploited. He scrambles to get a better view of the field and buy some time – not simply because he is being chased by a rusher and is an amazing escape artist.

Someone like Jordyn Brooks, Jamal Adams, Ryan Neal or Bobby Wagner would be an ideal weapon to just stay put for half a heartbeat after the snap, see the play develop and where the lanes are open to Murray and then use all your speed to take off into that lane.

At worst, you block his view and clog a passing lane. Maybe even get your hands up and defense a pass. At best, you frustrate him by taking a way a comfortable habit he has developed and make him stay in the pocket more often — containing those incredible feet and making him susceptible to being sacked.

Watching the highlights of the last few weeks, it does appear that Murray has addressed this weakness to a degree. He seems more assertive in the pocket and willing to rely on his protection and his receivers running good routes than he did earlier this season.

However, this still would be a valid method to employ on defense in order to keep him contained. If he can consistently either create time to throw and/or find lanes to take off and gain some yards and first downs on the ground, it will be a very long day for this defense.

Contain the Cardinal running backs in the passing game

The Seahawks have continued to be the worst team in the NFL by a wide margin in this area. They have given up a massive 18% more passing yards to running backs this year than the second-worst team. That is inexcusable.

They badly miss K.J. Wright in this area of their game.

Chase Edmunds and James Conner have excelled for the Cardinals, giving Kyler Murray a perfect way to move the offense forward without expending any of his miracle-creating energy.

Combined they have 74 catches for 645 yards and 27 first downs.

Watch Conner help his quarterback out with a beauty of a one-handed grab early in the game against the Rams:

The Cardinals use this game as a real part of their offense, not as a mere ‘get me out of danger’ dump-off but a real way to move this defense down the field that is very dangerous. With Murray’s legs and a plethora of options at tight end and wide receiver, passes to the running backs are that ‘straw that broke the camel’s back’ element to this offense.

As we noted above, the defense must tackle well.

Jordyn Brooks, Cody Barton, Ryan Neal and D.J. Reed must be excellent in coverage in order to keep this part of the Cardinal offense in check.

A final note to the community

A special thanks is due to Rob Staton, who has generously shared his personal platform in order that these posts can get a wide distribution. It never occurred to me over the years that I would have this kind of an opportunity in the community. It is a place I value highly and enjoy thoroughly. Your support and encouragement made it happen. Thank you.

Thanks to all in the community for reading along with my watch points this year, and for all your positive feedback. It is actually because of you that I got the motivation to put these posts together in the first place.

Last year, what started as a lockdown-fueled exercise to stave off the boredom of inactivity quickly took off with all the commendation and support from the community when I would scrawl some thoughts down in the comments section.

It has been a joy and another nice distraction during this drudgery of a season to commiserate, dissect the good and the bad and attempt to put words and thoughts together to properly understand the mess we witness on most Sundays. Thank you for that.

Here is hoping the 2022 season is filled with all the excitement we can possibly handle.

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