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Thoughts on Jared Goff & Carson Wentz

Friday, September 25th, 2015

Even at this early stage it’s shaping up to be a draft where linemen dominate the early picks. The talent on the defensive and offensive lines is strong — and there’s a very real possibility there won’t be a quarterback drafted in the first round. Not unless a player emerges to fill that slot, much in the way Cam Newton and Blaine Gabbert barged their way into 2011’s top ten.

I spent a bit of time today looking at Cal’s Jared Goff — and he’s probably the best bet for a first frame QB. He has a very natural throwing motion and plenty of arm talent. One of the first things to look for in a quarterback is how comfortable and natural they look throwing the ball. Does it come out nicely with a tight spiral and the necessary velocity? Can they vary the pace and throw with touch?

Seattle’s quarterback opponent on Sunday — Jimmy Clausen — was a classic example of a player with a funky motion who didn’t tick any of the necessary boxes. He had a slingy side-arm release point. Most of his throws were one paced — the downfield stuff was catchable but lacked any real punch. He benefitted a lot from Golden Tate’s ability to high point. Even so — most of Clausen’s throws were screens or extended hand-off’s to the receiver.

It doesn’t always have to be a conventional over-the-top release and the technique doesn’t have to be spot on — but you can usually see when a passer has a very natural throwing style. That’s really the first thing to look for. Then you go into things like the ability to go through progressions etc.

Ryan Tannehill is a good example of a player who threw very naturally but struggled in the next stage of the game — he made two many errors at the line of scrimmage — failing to identify the coverage, throwing blind, turning the ball over. He still makes the same mistakes today.

Goff is a very natural passer who can vary the throwing speed. He can fit it into a tight window in the short game but also has the touch and arm strength to get it deep. He looks comfortable and refined. He’s also surprisingly athletic at 6-4 and 215lbs — he’s elusive to avoid pressure but also a nifty runner in the open field. Goff isn’t Russell Wilson, but if there’s a chance to scramble into space and make a first down he’ll do it.

Is he accurate? Sure. He doesn’t force anything and avoids turnovers. He seems to understand the offense — he doesn’t bail on the call in the face of pressure and know how to be patient in the pocket. There’s a lot to like and very little to quibble about.

He reminded me a little bit of Brock Osweiler. It’s easy to sit here and assume Osweiler is a failure considering he hasn’t played any meaningful football in three-and-a-bit seasons. He was, after all, taken in round two ahead of Russell Wilson who’s been to two Super Bowls in the same period of time. However, Osweiler has been stuck behind Peyton Manning with zero chance of supplanting the incumbent starter.

He may get his chance next season (although he would require a new contract in Denver). John Elway liked him enough to draft him in the early second round as a project and he played pretty well in pre-season.

Like Goff he’s tall and thin with surprising mobility. Osweiler frequently avoided pressure and made gains with his legs. He threw with poise and accuracy in the face of pressure and made several ‘wow’ throws for Arizona State. We’re yet to see Goff deliver some of those same money throws — but there’s still time in 2015. Osweiler threw some of the prettiest passes you’ll see — right into tiny windows under pressure. It’s easy to forget three years on.

Both players also failed (so far in Goff’s case) to propel their team to a new level. Osweiler constantly flashed talent and then made costly mistakes in key games. It wasn’t always turnovers either — drives would stall unnecessarily. He wasn’t a room-tilter or a game-changer in college. He was simply a really talented individual with huge potential.

Goff’s Cal career has followed a similar path — although the supporting cast hasn’t been great. They’re currently 3-0 in a wide open PAC-12 and maybe he’ll be able to elevate his team and therefore his own draft stock in the process? Osweiler was a second-round pick in a year for quarterbacks that included Luck, RGIII, Tannehill, Weeden and Wilson. Goff won’t have that level of competition and could, even by default, find himself in the day-one mix with a good season. Right now a safe second-round grade seems appropriate, just like Osweiler, with a chance to rise.

Keep an eye on North Dakota State’s Carson Wentz. We highlighted him at the start of the season as one to watch. He’s a small school prospect who could really propel his stock (much in the way Joe Flacco did at Delaware or Jimmy Garoppolo at Eastern Illinois).

He’s 6-6 and 235lbs but runs the read-option. Like Goff he’s a surprisingly nimble runner and the QB-keeper is a regular feature in the NDS offense. There’s an awful lot to like about his throwing style — again it’s very natural. He has a good arm, throws with touch when necessary and makes a lot of plays.

There are some issues too. He doesn’t always scan the field like he should do — in the tape below there’s a play where he throws underneath with a wide open receiver streaking downfield for an easy touchdown. Wentz never even looks at him and just goes to his first read. This is the type of thing he’d need to work on at the next level — but it’s fixable.

In a down year for the position don’t be surprised if Wentz ends up being the top rated senior QB.

Kam Chancellor is ending his hold out

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2015

In last night’s podcast we discussed why it made sense for Chancellor to report this week (and it’d make our day if you were to check it out). He was losing money. The team was losing games. He wasn’t gaining anything from staying away because the Seahawks weren’t going to cave.

Seattle is at home for three of the next four games. All four are winnable. In fact there’s an opportunity to go on a reasonable winning streak. The Bengals road game on October 11th will be the toughest test. Dallas on November 1st is much less threatening if the Cowboys are without Dez Bryant and Tony Romo.

It’s not unrealistic to suggest the Seahawks can go unbeaten until December. Even if you have the Cincinnati game down as a loss — you could be looking at an 8-3 record going into the final month (which starts with road games in Minnesota and Baltimore). The Seahawks finished extremely well in 2012 and 2014 (and didn’t have to in 2013).

Chancellor wasn’t going to win any battle’s holding out any longer. He’d just lose more money. If the Seahawks do go on a winning streak starting on Sunday, he can use that as leverage in the off-season. ‘You were 0-2 without me, we started winning when I arrived.’

In reality they were going to start winning without him eventually, weakening his position.

This is the only way for both sides to ‘win’ this stand-off. The Seahawks can say they were strong and their stance should dissuade other players from holding out into the regular season. Chancellor also has a stronger case for getting more money pushed into his 2016 salary if he helps lead the team back to another Super Bowl from an 0-2 start.

For both parties the season really starts here. The Seahawks could be 1-1 or 2-0. They aren’t. But they have a healthy roster, all of their key players and a shot to start a long winning run against the hapless Bears this weekend.

Instant reaction: Seahawks beaten, drop to 0-2

Sunday, September 20th, 2015

For the third game in a row, the Seahawks found a way to lose in the fourth quarter.

The Super Bowl. The St. Louis game. The Packers game.

Seattle had a four-point lead, all the momentum and the atmosphere in Lambeau Field was becoming increasingly nervy.

A combination of Aaron Rodgers brilliance, a conservative defense and a key turnover means the Seahawks are in an 0-2 hole after the first two weeks of the season.

Some quick notes:

— Despite well publicised struggles against running quarterbacks, Russell Wilson was a non-factor as a runner in the first half. Why did it take until the second half to get the quarterback moving? Green Bay were dazed during Seattle’s two drives immediately after half time. Looking at the damage Colin Kaepernick did to Dom Capers’ defense, it was hard to watch Wilson avoiding the keeper. Green Bay prepared for the zone-read hand-off to Marshawn Lynch, took it away and had little trouble in doing so.

— Jimmy Graham had one catch and two targets. The Seahawks didn’t know how to build an offense around Percy Harvin and now they’re struggling to make use of another big name target. They have to be prepared to scheme around getting Graham into favourable match-ups (and then throw him the ball) otherwise this’ll end up being another wasted first round pick. This has to be a growing concern after two weeks. Graham is being lost in the same way Zach Miller became ineffective as a pass-catcher — except Graham is an inferior blocker. In a big NFC match-up on the road Graham has to have more than one catch for 11 yards. Has to. And that’s not taking anything away from Green Bay’s defense. The thing is, every defense prepared for Graham in New Orleans — and more often than not he dominated anyway.

— For large stretches the defensive performance was an upgrade over last week in St. Louis. Rodgers was limited after a sound opening drive. Yet as the game wore on and as Green Bay quickened the pace — Seattle had no answer. They didn’t blitz and were picked off using a soft zone. They struggled to create pressure using three and four man rushes in the fourth quarter. They also started to miss tackles and gave up some running gains. Still, it was better than week one.

— For the second straight week a healthy Seahawks roster (minus Kam Chancellor) lost to a beat-up opponent. St. Louis were missing their best two running backs plus their best two corners for a portion of the game. Green Bay were without Bryan Bulaga and Letroy Guion and lost Eddie Lacy early on. Davante Adams also injured his ankle and played hurt.

— For a team that has always been about finishing — the last three games have been agonising. Seattle shouldn’t have blown a 7-point lead to the Rams. The way they ran out of steam in this latest contest is partly due to Rodgers (perfect in the fourth quarter) but also on Seattle. Wilson has avoided turnovers in his career but was caught out on a covered screen play. It prevented the Seahawks from responding with a seven-point deficit and handed Green Bay minutes off the clock and a field goal.

— 0-2 isn’t a disaster, even with the Arizona Cardinals reaching 2-0. Home games against two other 0-2 teams — Chicago and Detroit — will provide an opportunity to reach parity. A week eight trip to Dallas appears less threatening if Tony Romo and Dez Bryant are both unavailable. Even so, the margin for error is tiny now. The Seahawks have lost 50% of the games they lost last year already and have to go to Cincinnati, Baltimore, Dallas, Minnesota, San Francisco and Arizona. There’s a reason only around 11-12% of 0-2 teams make the playoffs. They need a spark to get the season going.

Are we edging closer to a Kam Chancellor trade?

Thursday, September 17th, 2015

Kam Chancellor’s hold-out shows no signs of ending, as he prepares to sit out the Green Bay game

On August 27th we discussed the likelihood of Kam Chancellor’s hold-out lasting beyond week two. The only possible leverage he can muster is if the Seahawks start 0-2 and panic.

Both sides are digging their heels in and it’s unlikely two road defeats will force Seattle’s hand. They also know the money Chancellor owes in fines is starting to stack up. Having gone this far, the Seahawks aren’t going to be the ones to budge.

So it’s up to Chancellor. Clearly Ray Lewis’ strong words (re-tweeted by Chancellor on his Twitter timeline) haven’t pulled at the heart strings. So what might he consider if Seattle does lose in Green Bay this week?

— Potentially he could return knowing the Seahawks are at home in three of the next four games and have an opportunity to go on a winning streak. He’d probably have to pay some or most of the fines accumulated so far, but he might feel his negotiating position is strengthened for another tilt at an improved contract in the off-season. If he can point to 0-2 without him and a four game winning streak on his return, he might think this was all worth it if a new deal is signed in the spring.

— He could also continue to hold-out in the hope Seattle continues to lose and feels obliged to act as pressure increases to get Chancellor back in the team. It’s fanciful to think the Seahawks would capitulate even in the worst case scenario of an unexpected prolonged losing streak. Stranger things have happened though — and this team won’t want a wasted season right in the middle of a Championship window.

If there’s no progress after the Green Bay game — suddenly those phone calls over a trade might actually warrant a longer response than a firm “no”. Eventually they have to be able to move on from this. It can’t dominate every press conference and every analysis of every defensive performance or defeat.

As much as the Seahawks want Chancellor in their line-up — they also can’t have this shadow cast over the 2015 season.

Would it be giving in to the player to deal him? Not really. The Seahawks need to send a message. Either you want to be here or you don’t.

There are other teams, sure. But there are very few facilities like the VMAC, very few coaches like Pete Carroll and very few home-field advantages like Century Link.

More importantly, there are very few teams with the talent to make back-to-back Super Bowls — and get there again in the future.

Look at the New England Patriots. How did Deion Branch’s hold-out end up? He went from Super Bowl MVP catching passes from Tom Brady to the last throngs of the Mike Holmgren era in Seattle, struggling to make an impact.

Sometimes the grass isn’t always greener, even for a few more bucks.

The Pats have to be used as an example here. They’ve consistently known when to move on. Branch in 2006, Richard Seymour in 2009, Randy Moss in 2010. Chancellor is much more important to Seattle than any of those players were to New England at the respective times they were traded. But what use is Chancellor to the Seahawks if he’s refusing to play — eating $250,000 a week in the process?

If there’s a fear trading Chancellor will encourage further unrest — bring it on. Build the team around those who genuinely want to be in Seattle. There are plenty of players who will come and play for this team.

The Seahawks would inherit a significant dead money charge for dealing Chancellor but they’d be taking the hit in 2015. That’s workable if not ideal. At what point has any of this saga been ideal for either party?

I doubt either the Seahawks or Chancellor want it to come to this — but eventually the team has to do what is best for them. Just as Chancellor feels this lingering hold-out is in his best interests.

If a team calls offering a 2016 first round pick — do you start considering a deal with no sign of a breakthrough? It’d be a hefty price for a strong safety — yet Chancellor’s stock is growing and will continue to grow if the defense struggles without him.

For that reason a parting of ways might be one or two weeks away unless a compromise can be reached. If an 0-2 start doesn’t act as a catalyst to compromise, what will?

2016 draft first round candidates (weeks 1 & 2)

Wednesday, September 16th, 2015

Tre’Davious White is a special player destined for round one

Some thoughts on the players showing first round potential in the first two weeks of the college football season…

(We also discussed some of these prospects in this weeks edition of the 3000 NFL Mock Draft podcast)

Michael Thomas (WR, Ohio State)
Very quick into his breaks for a big receiver. Combines size (6-3, 210lbs) with plus speed and fluidity as an athlete. Destroyed one of the best cornerbacks in college football (Virginia Tech’s Kendall Fuller) with a superb stop-and-go move for a long touchdown in week one. Won’t put up gaudy numbers (Urban Meyer’s teams never have a go-to receiver) but very much a first round candidate.

Tre’Davious White (CB, LSU)
The latest top corner off the LSU production line. Jalen Collins headed for the NFL despite an excellent 2014 season because he feared losing his job to the other talented corners at LSU, including White. He was awarded the #18 jersey during the off-season, given annually to the LSU player displaying a selfless attitude while representing the Tigers in a first-class manner both on and off the field. At 5-11 and 191lbs he’s not huge — but he shows great hip flexibility in back-pedal, water tight coverage skills and he plays the ball. Good in run defense and a sound tackler in the open field. He could end up battling Ohio State’s Eli Apple to be the first corner taken. NFL teams will fall over each other for White.

Braxton Miller (WR, Ohio State)
He’s made a smooth transition to receiver. He’s being used in the backfield, in the slot, split out wide. He’ll throw the occasional pass this year. Urban Meyer’s using him in the same way he used Percy Harvin. His first catch against Virginia Tech was a fingertips-to-the-turf snag, he added a terrific sideline grab for a score and had that spin move on a run. Good frame yet tremendously athletic — a genuine game-changer. If he keeps developing there’s no reason why he can’t work into first or second round contention.

De’Runnya Wilson (WR, Mississippi State)
There just aren’t many players with Wilson’s skillset. He’s 6-5 and 215lbs. He’s lean and fast. He’s a typical box-off receiver who uses body control and size to shield cornerbacks. He’s a great weapon to have if you need a short third down conversion, a red zone score or a downfield shot. He’s shown inconsistent hands at times (so did Kelvin Benjamin) but he also has a knack for big plays. There are some off-field question marks but he’s a basketball star playing in the NFL and teams are starting to covet this type of safety net. Impressed against a rock-solid LSU secondary making one acrobatic catch in tight coverage against Tre’Davious White (see above).

Shon Coleman (T, Auburn)
Coleman battled cancer to take his chance at Auburn and against the odds he’s back on the field and performing as well as any offensive lineman in college. Inspiring backstory and never gave up despite combining fighting for his life along with trying to forge a football career. When he gets his hands on you it’s over. Smothering pass-blocker who loves to get to the second level. Can improve his kick-slide technique but there’s a lot to work with. If he isn’t playing left tackle in the NFL he’ll fit anywhere else on the O-line. Occasionally shows a similar aggressive edge to Ereck Flowers.

Jack Conklin (T, Michigan State)
Consistently moved the Oregon D-line to create running lanes on the left side. Worked very well with the left guard. Whether he converts to the NFL as a left tackle remains to be seen but he could easily transition to the right side with plus size and mobility. MSU’s best pro-prospect on a top-four caliber team.

Eli Apple (CB, Ohio State)
Ideal size (6-1, 200lbs) and very competitive. Has a nose for the ball and consistently gets into position to make a play. Another very smooth athlete who can mirror speed receivers and defend against bigger wide outs. Tackling can be a little suspect at times — especially on a weak attempt to bring down the Virginia Tech full back in week one (the play led to a touchdown). He should perform well at the combine and could easily be a top-15 pick.

Jaylon Smith (LB, Notre Dame)
Watch the Texas game. He’s a thoroughly modern, explosive linebacker who can play multiple spots, has the speed to cover and work sideline-to-sideline. With the game moving towards a quicker pace including a lot of stretch runs and inside short-passing — Smith can do it all. There’s every chance he will be a very early pick much like Ryan Shazier in 2014. Has a chance to go high in round one.

Quarterback thoughts

None of the quarterbacks have impressed enough so far to warrant first round talk. Connor Cook (QB, Michigan State) is the same player he was last year. He throws too many contested passes, tends to be wildly erratic at times and has no mobility. Against Oregon he had one ugly interception (overthrowing an open receiver) moments after hurling into double coverage for an incompletion. It seems desperation is forcing people to put him in the first round mix. He is not a day one talent based on what we’ve seen so far.

Cardale Jones (QB, Ohio State) has probably the best arm talent of all the quarterbacks in college football. He throws a pretty spiral with good arm strength. Against Virginia Tech he had a couple of fantastic throws with almost no back-lift. When he’s on form he looks like a very early pick. He’s also surprisingly mobile for his size. However — he remains extremely inexperienced and it shows with some of his decision making. He had a lacklustre game against Hawaii with some wondering if J.T. Barrett would replace him as the starter. Ideally he’d have another year starting in college in 2016. Teams will also ask questions about his maturity and ability to handle the pressure of being a NFL quarterback. Putting your finger to your lips to the Virginia Tech fans from the sideline isn’t a good look. Teams pick up on little things like that when there’s so much focus on the QB position.

Christian Hackenburg (QB, Penn State) is incredibly toolsy and looks the part of a pro-QB. He’s also the victim of a shambolic few years for Penn State. To his credit he didn’t walk away from the team after committing despite all the scandal and then Bill O’Brien’s departure. Even so, it’s not done his career much good. It might be preferable for Hackenburg to get into the league as soon as possible and just sit for a year or two as a developmental quarterback in a pass-friendly scheme. He has the talent. It just needs to be harnessed in the right way. Any team expecting to draft him in round one and have him start right away will be doing even more damage to what is clearly a very talented prospect. He is far from ready for the NFL. If he goes on day two to a team with an ageing franchise quarterback — that would be best for all concerned.

There’s always time for a quarterback to emerge (Dak Prescott? Jacoby Brissett? Jared Goff?) but at the moment this looks like possibly a draft class without a first round QB. As is often the case during a down year for quarterbacks, the shortfall will be made up with multiple first round offensive linemen. It looks like another good class of receivers and there are several cornerbacks with first round potential aside from the two highlighted here.

Strong safety thoughts

It feels almost necessary to look at big strong safety types given the current drama involving the Seahawks. I’m not sure how high USC’s Su’a Cravens goes but there’s some intrigue there. He’s big at 6-1 and 225lbs with a sack and a pick to his name already in 2015. He’s being touted as a possible linebacker covert — much like Kam Chancellor was at Virginia Tech. Eric Striker (LB, Oklahoma) and Vonn Bell (S, Ohio State) are two other possible targets. Striker in particular intrigues me. He’s a fantastic playmaker at linebacker for the Sooners but is a little light for the position at 6-1 and around 225lbs. A move to safety makes sense in the right scheme. One to monitor for sure.

Instant reaction: Seahawks lose opener in St. Louis

Sunday, September 13th, 2015

Seahawks fans longed for the next game. Moving on from the Super Bowl just isn’t going to happen — but a new game to occupy the mind would at least provide some respite.

Or so they thought.

Seattle didn’t deserve to win in St. Louis in week one — but the manner of the defeat was tortuous. Again. The Seahawks found a way to lose the game, return to win it — and then lose it one more time.


The sheer importance of the loss in Superbowl 49 will never be matched — but this one put the fans through the ringer all over again. In the first three quarters the Seahawks were just being outplayed in every facet. Tyler Lockett’s early punt return score was a rare highlight.

— Russell Wilsons struggled all game with blitz pick-up. The Seahawks kept using an empty backfield signalling a pass play. Wilson never once found the hot-read or the pre-snap read to cover the free runner(s). Gregg Williams regularly sent one or even two defensive backs on a blitz. It was a consistent win for the Rams every time Seattle went empty backfield.

— There were several blown coverages with Jared Cook the main beneficiary. Time and time again he cleared out the zone or ran across the field unchallenged. When the Rams weren’t benefitting from easy downfield throws they were converting underneath. Their first touchdown drive came after a 3rd and 15 conversion on a dump down to their third string running back. Surprisingly they also struggled to set the edge against the run. The defensive performance overall was concerning.

— The Seahawks got themselves into good positions twice and a combination of sacks and penalties meant they came away empty handed. They particularly struggled in the red zone until the final quarter. If the addition of Jimmy Graham was supposed to be a lifesaver here — it might be worth trying to throw one up for him.

— The Rams faced genuine adversity in this game. Todd Gurley and Tre Mason — their top two running backs — were both out. E.J. Gaines their top corner was out. Trumaine Johnson their #2 corner left the game with a concussion. The Seahawks also faced a rather tepid homefield ‘advantage’. Seattle still never flexed its muscles and took control.

— Aaron Donald had his way with the Seahawks interior O-line. There’s not much you can do about that. He’s the best pass-rushing DT in the league. He’ll make plays. The Seahawks won’t face another player like him until the re-match later in the season.

All of this cumulated to make for one frustrating afternoon. Until the typical Seahawks roaring comeback.

Earl Thomas’ fumble, Cary Williams’ strip-sack-touchdown. In a matter of minutes Seattle had 18 more points and turned a 24-13 deficit into a 31-24 lead — needing a stop to win.

They also found a way to get Jimmy Graham the football. At one point I was preparing to write a lot more on this. Their inability to use Graham properly brought back memories of Zach Miller’s early years in Seattle — fresh off leading Oakland in receiving. When they started to force him the ball he made plays. If you’re going to have a receiver/tight end like this — you have to make it part of your identity to use him. And you have to trust him in 1v1 situations. They seemed to work it out late in the fourth.

So all was good. Despite a lot of issues, the Seahawks were going to find a way to win.

Then even more agony.

The Rams were meandering in their final drive needing a touchdown, chipping away with no real vigour. The Seahawks felt comfortable — almost poised and waiting for the play that would end the game.

It had to be the guy starting for Kam Chancellor. It just had to be.

Dion Bailey’s trip, Lance Kendricks’ easy score. You just don’t see plays like that with so much on the line. The Rams went from tense, toiling and struggling to an enormous momentum surge. Bailey’s trip had a staggering impact. Seattle’s chances of winning were probably around 85% at that point — they dropped below 50% with one downfield pass and one trip.

Bailey shouldn’t feel too badly about it — it’s one of those things. Nobody should use this to call for Chancellor to return at any cost. Yet it was a cruel gut-punch for Seahawks fans to see the man tasked with standing in for #31 be responsible for such a huge slice of misfortune.

Then overtime.

The the onside kick. A call to leave everyone scratching their heads. Including the Rams.

Was it an attempt by Pete Carroll, burned several times by Jeff Fisher on special teams, to try and get one back?

The commentators praised the move as a gutsy, calculated gamble. You’re trying to steal a possession.

That’s fine. If it works you look great. If it doesn’t — you leave the Rams with a short field, a cheap three points and you’re playing catch-up.

St. Louis didn’t really have to work for their field goal, rather than need to drive from their own 20 they took over in Seattle territory. It just seemed like an unnecessary gamble. Make the Rams earn their points here. Had the Seahawks forced an early punt — it also leaves Tyler Lockett with another opportunity to make a play with a large field to work with.

Still, they kept it to three rather than concede the game-ending score. They were even moving the ball somewhat — before a pass to the left, a bubble screen and a Wilson scramble yielded fourth down.

And then they lost by a yard. Again.

This time they did run Marshawn Lynch with a solitary yard required. But it wasn’t really a yard, was it? The Seahawks have a slightly bizarre penchant for running out of the shotgun. It opens up the read-option of course — and that was the call here. However, the game’s on the line. You need a yard. Why snap the ball back a few yards and give Lynch even more to do?

A sneak, a FB run, a plough up the middle in the I-formation. Even if you telegraph it — all are preferable than asking your back to do that extra bit more from the gun.

Another defeat with a yard needed based on a questionable call.

It leaves the Seahawks staring at a possible 0-2 hole. They’ll head to Lambeau Field next week as underdogs, facing a Green Bay team eager for revenge after the NFC Championship. Aaron Rodgers will salivate watching the tape of this defensive performance.

With three of the following four games at home — 0-2 wouldn’t be fatal in either the division or conference. However, the Seahawks know they’ll have to play a lot better than this moving forward. The defense looked disjointed and flaccid. The offense looked like it didn’t know how to use a newly acquired weapon for three quarters — and the decision making in overtime was questionable.

Report claims Todd Gurley was Seattle’s #1

Thursday, September 10th, 2015

There was never any chance of Todd Gurley landing in Seattle, but the Seahawks still ranked him as the #1 prospect in the draft.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter and Chris Mortensen are reporting Gurley was highly rated by the Seahawks as the top player available in the 2015 class.

It won’t be a surprise. Despite picking up a serious knee injury Gurley was still taken in the top-10 picks. There was talk pre-draft he could’ve gone even earlier. We’ll never know what a team like the Jets would’ve done had Leonard Williams been taken before the #6 pick. Teams loved Gurley’s rare combination of speed, power and size.

It does make you wonder though — had Seattle not recovered from a 3-3 start in 2014 and ended up picking in the middle of the first round — would the aggressive move be a trade up for Gurley instead of a deal for Jimmy Graham?

Replacing Marshawn Lynch will be the toughest thing John Schneider and Pete Carroll ever have to do in Seattle. The way they rated Gurley suggests if they see a fantastic back available in a future draft — they might not shy away from yet another bold move to fill that need.

Looking ahead to the 2016 draft — and it’s still way too early to make a firm judgement — there isn’t a Gurley-level talent preparing to enter the league.

Ohio State’s Ezekiel Elliott has fair size and speed but he plays with a lot of power. He’ll often fall forward after contact. He’s also capable of making the big play. There’s nothing overtly special about Elliott or unique but he has every chance of going in round one with a big season for a Championship caliber team. The question is can he play the way he did in the playoffs last season for long stretches during the current regular season? A legitimate Heisman candidate — but it was interesting to see the Buckeyes come out throwing against Virginia Tech.

Arkansas’ Alex Collins is a terrific player with a nice 5-11 frame with good mass and power. Like Elliott he always seems to get yards after contact — but he has a home-run hitting ability too. It’ll be very interesting to see how he and Elliott test for speed. He flashes plenty of power and might be a cheaper — and possibly more effective — alternative to Elliott. A very interesting player with a pro-future as a day one or two pick.

Derrick Henry is enormous at around 6-3 and 240lbs. He doesn’t play with a mean streak though — he’s positively finesse at times and doesn’t always dominate the way he should. Eddie Lacy was a wrecking machine for Alabama and you kind of feel like Henry should be more like that with his size. Even so — he’s deceptively quick running in a straight line and a natural athlete. It gives him a level of uniqueness the other two players above lack. Is he a bell-cow at the next level? Probably not. He could be a nice compliment to a back of a different style working in a committee system.

2017 could be very interesting for running backs. Nick Chubb, Leonard Fournette, Samaje Perrine and Royce Freeman will all be eligible. If Lynch is prepared to continue next year — the Seahawks might be able to delay this search at least in terms of the early rounds.

It’s time for Kam Chancellor to end the madness

Wednesday, September 9th, 2015

Kam Chancellor cannot win this one — so what’s the end game?

Kam Chancellor’s hold out is dumb.

Enough is enough. Amid all the walking on egg shells, quietly questioning his end game and trying to understand a player going after what he deserves — the reality is he simply cannot win.

He can’t.

And for that reason, continuing to hold out is dumb. A fantastic case of cutting off your nose to spite your face.

He already owes the Seahawks over a million dollars in fines. Every game he misses is going to cost him a quarter of a million bucks. If he waits until week 10 to return in order to accrue a season on his contract — he will lose money this year. And he’ll be no closer to a new deal. He’ll have two more years to go. He’ll be out of pocket and his reputation with the fans in Seattle — and possibly some of the players — will be forever tarnished.

Forget the ring of honor. Forget the glory. Forget seeing 12’s wearing #31.

Sadly for Chancellor his biggest mistake was to sign a contract that he clearly believes undervalues his contribution to the team. There’s not much he can do about it now. Nobody forced him to sign that contract. Nobody will force the Seahawks to rip it up.

To test the team, see if it works and then return would be understandable to an extent. To start missing games, lose game-cheques and let your teammates down is quite another thing. And where does he go from here?

If the Seahawks start 0-2 they aren’t going to cave. At that point does he come back into a locker room no richer and with possible resentment that he wasn’t out on the field trying to win two tough road games?

If they go 2-0 does he creep back into the VMAC with his tail between his legs?

What is the end game here? Where is he going?

Is he going to retire?

Pride is a good thing sometimes. It can make you feel responsible. It encourages leadership and support. It can drive you to succeed.

It also gets in the way when you’ve lost and need to concede. When you need to take a step back. When you need to admit you aren’t going to win and there’s nothing you can do about it.

We’d all love to go back in time and change the outcome of the last Super Bowl. It’s impossible. Chancellor equally can’t go back in time and un-sign that contract extension.

We’d all like to earn more money. Who wouldn’t? Not all of us play a punishing pro-sport. Not all of us put our bodies on the line. A lot of us do have families to support though — and the thought of not turning up to work to prove a point is simply out of the question. You’d be fired.

Kam Chancellor’s average salary is $7,000,502 per year. He’s among the highest paid safeties in the league. There are thousands of Seahawks fans who won’t make that amount of money in a lifetime, let alone one year.

Life is tough sometimes. Yet some people would argue Chancellor’s situation isn’t remotely ‘tough’ or ‘unfair’. He doesn’t get paid exactly what he wants. Welcome to the club. He earns enough money to not need to work ever again the moment he retires from his short career in football.

How many other people in the world are underpaid, can’t hold-out and need to work decades before they can even consider retiring? How many of those people will be at Century Link screaming for this team in week three against the Bears?

Right now the Seahawks need Kam Chancellor. The players need him on the field. The coaches need him in the locker room. The fans need #31 out there against the Rams and the Packers helping to launch another tilt at the Super Bowl.

He’s tried to make a point to get more money. And he’s failed. He failed.

Clearly that’s something Chancellor is struggling to deal with. He’s blocking fans on Twitter for no logical reason. It’s quite sad actually to see fans Tweet that they’ve been blocked by their favourite player. Does that not bother him at all?

Clearly his teammates are ready to move on. One player told ESPN’s Ed Werner: “We will win without him, and it will hit him.”

That player is right. They will win without him. Perhaps not both of the first two games but over the course of the season they will win. The Seahawks will not feel compelled to change their stance. Nothing is going to change their stance.

Come back. Get on the field. Do your job. Yes, that’s right. Your job. It’s what you’re paid to do. It’s what’s expected of you. You agreed this contract.

You either play for the Seahawks or nobody — at your expense. What are you gaining from sitting out any games during the regular season? The team is not going to budge.

Chancellor won’t be richer in the wallet and he’ll lose a lot of the good feeling he’s worked hard to develop since 2010.

It’s dumb. And it’s time this madness stopped right now.


Perhaps sensing he’s losing the battle for hearts and minds, Chancellor has talked to the NFL Network in the last few moments. He says he could be at practise tomorrow if the Seahawks meet him halfway.

If this is an attempt to portray the Seahawks as the issue, it won’t work. If, as Chancellor claims, this is all over 2017 money being pushed into 2016 for a grand total of an extra million bucks — why is he even holding out? Is all the drama, all the distraction really worth it for one seventh extra of his current annual salary?

The funny thing is — who’d bet against the Seahawks adjusting the contract of a loyal, dedicated player if he was — you know — leading the team out against St. Louis this weekend? They’re probably less inclined to give him a small raise after this hold-out.

Look at Antonio Brown in Pittsburgh. He got an extra $2m out of the Steelers this off-season. Chancellor must rue the day he went down this road instead of following Brown’s example.

It’s simply unrealistic to expect the Seahawks to push a heap of 2017 salary into 2016 meaning he’d earn around $9m next season. If that’s what he expects, it isn’t going to happen. Again — he signed this contract.

It just further emphasises what a thoroughly pointless episode this is. An exercise in time-wasting. A fruitless encounter. A wild goose chase.

Time to play football Kam.

Braxton Miller impressive in Ohio State opener

Tuesday, September 8th, 2015

Braxton Miller can make a name for himself as a WR/RB

A few thoughts on last night’s game…

— Braxton Miller might be the most intriguing prospect on a loaded roster. This was his first game at receiver after converting from quarterback. Urban Meyer had him do a bit of everything — not dissimilar to the way he used Percy Harvin at Florida. He ran for 62 yards and a touchdown and added 78 yards receiving and another score. He looks smaller than the listed 6-2 and 215lbs but he’s sturdy and looks like a solid 4.4 runner. There’s a bit of Golden Tate to his play. He could develop into a genuine X-factor for the Buckeyes and propel his stock as an all-round playmaker. He could be a big-time riser. Look at the fluidity with which he pulls off the spin move below. It’s sharp, smooth and explosive. His first catch of the night was a difficult low grab off the turf and he had no trouble running routes.

— Note the block by Ezekiel Elliott in the video above. He had an 80-yard touchdown run and 42 yards on his other ten carries. I’m not convinced by his listed size either (6-1, 225lbs) and whether he’s quite as good as some will have you believe — again I’m not sure. He’s not a freak of nature like Todd Gurley and Melvin Gordon had incredible production to go with an infectious work rate and personality. Elliott isn’t a unique athlete with incredible size or speed — but he’s a very good compliment of both. It was interesting to see Ohio State come out throwing rather than using the run-game. Elliott didn’t feature as much as you’d expect in this game but he still had an impact.

— Receiver Michael Thomas pulled Kendall Fuller’s pants down on one touchdown reception (see below). A simple stop-and-go move had Fuller biting and stumbling. Thomas broke free for an impressive score. Fuller is talented and could easily go in round one — with this play Thomas showed he has early-round-pick potential and the ability to get open against the best in college football. Don’t sleep on Thomas on this star-studded roster. He’s a legit NFL prospect with size (6-3).

— Cardale Jones started and had some really good moments and a few head scratching ones too. He played well under pressure, made some difficult throws and it’s not even a question that he has the best arm talent of any quarterback in college football right now. He runs the ball surprisingly well for a man of his size. He also made one or two mental mistakes and still has some maturing to do. Holding his finger to his lips at the Virginia Tech fans from the sideline after a late touchdown by relief-quarterback J.T. Barrett isn’t going to cut it. His challenge isn’t to convince NFL teams he can play at the next level. It’s convincing them he’ll be a man about it when he gets there.

— Cornerback Eli Apple had a couple of nice break-ups but was juked out of his shoes by the Virginia Tech full back during a long catch-and-run (leading to a touchdown). It was an ugly whiffed tackle to spoil an otherwise excellent night. First round pick.

— Other likely first round players also excelled. Linebacker Darron Lee had a big start to the game with some early pressure and never let up. Taylor Decker had a holding call but otherwise locked onto his targets, sealed the edge and helped make some big gains on the quarterback-keepers. Joey Bosa didn’t feature as he’s serving a team-imposed one-game suspension.

— Ohio State trailed at half time but came out flying to start the second half and just kicked up through the gears. It’s hard to imagine any team stopping them in the Big-10 and they have every shot at an unbeaten season and a second successive National Title. It’ll be interesting to see if any team can ever tempt Urban Meyer to take a shot at the NFL.

3000 NFL mock draft: Episode #2

Monday, September 7th, 2015

Episode #2 with Rob & Kenneth, reflecting on the first week of college football and looking at the 2016 NFL Draft…