Why Russell Wilson should be the key to Seattle’s future

October 9th, 2021 | Written by Rob Staton

Russell Wilson should become Seattle’s franchise focal point from 2022, replacing Pete Carroll

If you were a fan of a NFL team needing a long term answer at quarterback, the chances are you looked at a mock draft or two over the summer.

You would’ve seen the same names listed in the top-10.

Oklahoma’s Spencer Rattler definitely would’ve been there.

Today, he was benched by the Sooners as they struggled against Texas. His replacement, a talented true freshman, led an epic comeback.

Rattler’s always been overrated. Talented, yes. But flawed. Incapable of making sound decisions, he too often trusts his arm to throw into double (or even triple) coverage. He’s turned the ball over too often and enabled Oklahoma to play down to their opponents.

The mistakes he was making last year remain. He looks like a player who already believes he’s destined for glory at the next level. Reportedly he’s been looking at agents.

Some players try to run before they walk. College football is the ideal development opportunity. It’s not a mere stop-off on a long trip.

Rattler, to me, is no more than a day three flier on the off-chance things come together. He’s in the Jacob Eason range. Naturally gifted but certainly not worth the lofty projections many in the media were offering.

The point of all this is to emphasise how difficult it is to find a legit solution at quarterback in the NFL.

The 2022 draft class at the position looks horrendous. Apart from Rattler, North Carolina’s Sam Howell has also been pumped up way too much. Liberty’s Malik Willis is an exciting college player with major technical flaws. Nevada’s Carson Strong is being touted early, with no real evidence as to why.

Cincinnati’s Desmond Ridder might be the most intriguing player and yet he feels very much like a day two prospect. Certainly if Kellen Mond is only a third round pick, it’s hard to project Ridder much higher.

Even when you stumble on a franchise superstar, there can often be an element of fortune about it.

Justin Herbert, to me, looks like the most natural passer of a football you’ll ever see. The way he took to the pro’s as a rookie had to be seen to be believed. He looked like he belonged pretty much from his first action in the NFL.

You could never have projected that watching him at Oregon. It’s not that he was bad — he was just erratic. He threw interceptions you’d never see him throw now. He was constrained within a dull Ducks offense and maybe that had a negative impact?

With the Chargers, however, he looks like someone who could realistically outgun Patrick Mahomes in the division. It won’t be a surprise if the AFC West produces multiple MVP awards in the coming years.

If the Chargers knew Herbert would be what he was, they wouldn’t have waited until #6 to draft him in 2020. Neither would the Dolphins have passed on him for Tua Tagovailoa.

Other teams would’ve ensured he went #2 overall at the absolute latest, behind only Joe Burrow. Heck, he would’ve usurped Burrow and would be in Cincinnati now.

The best quarterback to enter the league since Mahomes was only the third player at his position taken in his draft class. Figure that one out.

Likewise, who saw Josh Allen going from pumpkin to Cinderella’s carriage in Buffalo after two indifferent seasons to begin his pro career? Allen was also the third quarterback to be drafted in his class.

The Ravens took Lamar Jackson with the last pick in the first round.

Dak Prescott? Fourth rounder.

Aaron Rodgers? Fell deep into the second half of round one.

Kyler Murray? Written off by most of the draft media who said he was too small and cared too much about a baseball career (until they realised, you know, that he was actually insanely brilliant).

Tom Brady? No need to even mention his story.

And of course Russell Wilson — pick #75 in 2012.

There’s a degree of fortune about most of these moves. Yes, teams deserve credit for having the foresight to be the ones to actually pull the trigger. But what people think going into a draft is often usurped by reality.

Think of all the many high first round picks spent on quarterbacks who absolutely bombed in the NFL.

This is an unpredictable business. And when you find that diamond, you have to cling onto it.

Some Seahawks fans seem to have it in for Wilson. I don’t mean they raise legitimate questions about his play. I mean they actually seem to dislike him, or at least thrive on being negative about him.

They talk about moving on as if it would almost be like scratching an itch.

Let’s have a bit of a reality check here.

Firstly, let’s acknowledge that Wilson isn’t perfect. He isn’t flawless. There are legitimate points to raise about why he hasn’t at times been able to ‘take what a defense is offering’. The concerns that some people raise aren’t unfair.

Now let’s look at what Wilson is. He’s a sure-fire Hall-of-Famer at age 32. What some people consider to be a fairly middling start to his season before his injury amounts to 10 touchdowns and one interception and a 90.3 PFF grade. He became the fastest quarterback to 100 wins in NFL history. He has a career passer rating of 102.3 and exactly 300 total career touchdowns.

For all the talk of him being propped up by the LOB and Marshawn Lynch — he has been the one propping up a bad defense for years. He’s been the one keeping the Seahawks winning when their running game has collapsed, when their O-lines have been useless and when they can’t rush the passer.

Until this week, he hadn’t missed a single game in his career. It’s a freaky, flukey finger injury that will end that incredible run, despite all of the punishment he’s taken since 2012.

He’s the ultimate driven, determined winner. He is desperate to win more Super Bowls. So much so, that he’s willing to rock the boat as he did last off-season to make that point. He wants to be the best and expects the franchise he’s playing for to do what it takes to share that goal.

You don’t just ‘move on’ from players like this. Move on to what?

We know what is likely coming in the off-season. Wilson seriously flirted with a trade earlier this year and with the season now likely heading one way, this will all re-emerge without major changes at the end of the year.

Greg Olsen spelled out exactly what the issue is right before kick-off on Thursday:

Wilson doesn’t believe in Carroll’s philosophy any more. He feels confined by it. He’s tired of, as Olsen put it, playing a brand of football that keeps things close then asks him to ‘pull a rabbit out of his hat’ in the fourth quarter.

It’s much harder to replace a franchise quarterback than it is to replace a Head Coach. Just ask the New England Patriots and New Orleans Saints, who are going through it now.

Eventually this franchise is going to need to make a call. That call needs to be to throw their lot in with the quarterback and create the kind of setup where he believes he can seriously compete for Championships for the next 8-10 years.

As I’ve said numerous times already. I think Carroll will make that decision easy for the Seahawks by retiring in the off-season. He looks and sounds like a man who is coming to the end. The thought of him sending off the franchise quarterback somewhere else to launch a complete rebuild in the off-season is fantasy land stuff. He’s not going to do that. Not at age 70.

And Wilson isn’t going to allow the status quo to continue any longer.

I predict major change will come. Ownership clearly hoped that Carroll’s five-year extension would get them through a period of transition before, potentially, selling the team. Instead, I think they’ll need to make a key appointment at Head Coach and possibly General Manager without needing to fire either of the men in the job currently.

Again, as I’ve stated, my preference would be a Joe Brady or Brian Darboll type — assisted by an experienced defensive coordinator who can deliver a complementary defense.

Or failing that, they need to find the next Brandon Staley — who already looks and sounds like a star in the making.

Whether ownership is up to that task is a major question mark. I do think they’ll have an opportunity to prove whether they are or not, however.

The 2022 off-season should be a mission to change the focal point of the franchise from Carroll to Wilson. The current ownership structure gave the keys to Carroll. It’s time to pass them on to a new owner. You’ve got to at least give that a shot before moving on from a player who could end up being impossible to replace.

I’m not watching a lot of college football today because I’m heading to London early tomorrow for the Jets vs Falcons game. However, I wanted to share this video of blog favourite Kenneth Walker to show what he’s been up to today…

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Report: Russell Wilson set to miss weeks

October 8th, 2021 | Written by Rob Staton

My reaction to this news was this…

The Jamal Adams trade keeps on giving.

The Seahawks do not own a first round pick in 2022. They now face the prospect of Geno Smith starting multiple games. They’re already 2-3.

A quick reminder. The Seahawks were 2-3 in 2009 too. Matt Hasselbeck had injury issues. They finished 5-11 and ended up with the #6 pick.

This current Seahawks roster isn’t as bad as that Seattle team. It’s a scary prospect though, isn’t it?

Imagine a situation where the Seahawks get their highest pick since the 2010 draft and they pack it off to the Jets for a safety with a lousy 55.5 grade according to PFF. He just had a horror show performance against the Rams. The trade and salary already look like a complete bust.

When the Adams deal was completed, we highlighted how desperate it was and called the price tag ‘unjustifiable’. The Seahawks had only added Benson Mayowa and Bruce Irvin to a bad defense, while losing Jadeveon Clowney.

They overpaid in a desperate attempt to add impact and talent right before training camp. The price tag reeked of a team saying, ‘let’s just get this done’.

It was a glaring sign of a franchise that was losing its way. Reactive instead of proactive. Waiting to address issues rather than fixing them swiftly and effectively.

During the 2020 season, we highlighted how Adams’ production was severely manufactured by specifically designed blitzing. The sack record was a red herring masking the fact that for every sack he generated (by blitzing Bobby Wagner a career high 100 times to shift protection) there were numerous plays where he didn’t get home and left the defense exposed. We talked about his issues in coverage too.

We discussed in the off-season how they should’ve chalked the whole thing down to experience and just moved on. Then we repeated that call in March. He wasn’t a good fit. He wasn’t worth the big money. Just get what you can and move on.

All the talk of being a ‘unicorn’ or a ‘weapon’ was unjustified. His performances were a tell. Greg Cosell called him a ‘glorified linebacker’ and questioned his fit in Seattle. Hugh Millen frequently offered a reality check on Adams.

They then proceeded to pay him $17.5m with $70m guaranteed after a protracted holdout. And we called it the worst trade of the Carroll era (which almost doesn’t feel strong enough at this point).

Now, his 2021 stat line and grade is a disaster. You don’t need to be a football savant to see he’s struggling badly or that the Seahawks don’t know what to do with him. Meanwhile the defense is on pace to set records for yardage conceded and the unit is ranked amongst the worst in the NFL.

The one final kick in the teeth is going to be Seattle potentially having a losing record for the first time in a decade and not even getting the high draft pick as a consolation prize.

The trade has been a franchise changing decision. Forget everything else. The ineptly coached defense, the consistent issues on offense, the bad drafts, the poor use of resources, the unfilled holes, the lack of identity, the drama surrounding the future of the franchise quarterback.

This trade alone should be viewed as a fireable offense.

There are only two silver linings to this. Firstly, if this does go south as appears likely — it increases the likelihood that change will happen.

I’ve been saying for some weeks now that Pete Carroll’s body language and media appearances give the impression of a man no longer enjoying himself. I think he will retire. I suspect it’s just a matter of time and big change is coming in the off-season.

The Seahawks should then go out and land a dynamic offensive-minded Head Coach such as Joe Brady and pair him with an experienced defensive coordinator.

The other silver lining is this. Maybe they can convince someone to take Adams off their hands in the off-season and just eat the $16m dead hit to move on? To an extent, it’s easier to deal someone when they have a contract versus needing to trade and then negotiate with them immediately. You know what you’re getting and you don’t run the risk of holdouts. It’s what happened when Jimmy Graham came to Seattle with three years left on his deal.

They won’t get much in return. Yet it’s looking increasingly like everyone just needs to move on. It’ll cost the Seahawks a fortune but can you salvage this? Will a new staff be able to do that?

It’s sad that it’s come to this with the Seahawks. That we’re having to talk this way.

Yet it’s all felt so predictable.

For once, the only winners here are the New York Jets.

Please check out last night’s instant reaction live stream:

 

Instant reaction: The end of an era is here, it’s over

October 7th, 2021 | Written by Rob Staton

If ever there was a game to make you realise an era is ending, this was it.

A total and utter capitulation, snatching defeat from the jaws of victory against a beatable Rams team. An injured quarterback. A 2-3 record that feels like it could get worse before it gets better. The game beginning with Fox revisiting (and re-fuelling) the Russell Wilson trade saga.

A game in 2017 against the LA Rams felt like the end for the LOB. This latest defeat feels like it’s the beginning of the end for Pete Carroll.

It’s quite a long wait until the end of the season and this could get more painful along the way, despite Geno Smith’s fun cameo tonight.

It just feels increasingly like a franchise that has gone stale. The Seahawks need revitalising in a way major change at the top can only provide.

Nothing summed up quite how bad things are than a second-half sequence that almost had to be seen to be believed.

— A clearly struggling Stafford, with an injured finger, is misfiring all over the field. He throws up an ugly duck of a throw. Who knows what Sidney Jones is doing in coverage? Yet the ball floats in the air. Jamal Adams cannot track the ball and it’s caught by the receiver, somehow, who runs after the catch for an enormous gain. Shortly after, the Rams score a rushing touchdown.

— On Seattle’s next drive, Aaron Donald pressures Russell Wilson and appears to dislocate or break his finger. Despite starting at the 40-yard line due to the kick-off going out of bounds, Seattle gives the ball back to the Rams quickly.

— The next drive is a saunter downfield for the Rams. It starts with Jamal Adams hitting team-mate Jordyn Brooks as he tries to make the tackle. Then Adams whiffs on a Darrell Henderson run. Then Adams is picked-on in coverage against Tyler Higbee, giving up a touchdown.

Seattle went from leading 7-3 and being somewhat in control, to the game completely melting away.

And the big investment. The huge trade that will define Seattle’s reset along with numerous botched high picks, played a big part in it all.

Now the Seahawks are 2-3. They look to be a bottom-half team in the NFL who will struggle to make the playoffs. Wilson appears set to miss games for the first time in his career due to the finger issue.

It’s not good.

Right before the game started, Fox ran this segment discussing Wilson’s future in Seattle:

Note former team mate Greg Olsen and Jay Glazer — arguably the most trusted breaker of news in the business — both openly validating the reported issues between quarterback and organisation and touting the likelihood of another saga next off-season.

Glazer outright dismissed the sentiment uttered by Wilson and Carroll that things ‘were blown out of proportion’. Olsen made reference to the philosophical differences between team and player and noted Wilson’s concern about his legacy.

A game like this only compounds matters.

Wilson called for better protection in the off-season and spoke with an urgency to get back to deep playoff runs. Now he’s injured and on a bad 2-3 team.

The franchise has a major short-term problem and a major long-term problem.

Short-term, they just aren’t very good. They are a hugely inconsistent team. At times the offense and defense excels. Then at other times, they look truly horrendous. They jump between the two quarter-to-quarter.

For example, look at the way the defense played for stretches tonight. They got some stops. They restricted and limited the Rams to three points in the first half. And yet they gave up 20 easy points after half-time and 476 total yards — adding to the league-worst 1778 yards they’d already given up coming into the game. They had numerous busted coverages and gave up so many easy runs and catches in soft coverages.

The offense is no better. When the big plays are there, everything is rocking. Seattle’s fragility on offense is too often exposed though when the explosives aren’t there.

A very average O-line never dominates a game or asserts itself enough to keep things running smoothly. Wilson has been inconsistent. They have injuries, again, at running back.

Long-term, everything is on the table. Wilson’s future. Pete Carroll’s future. John Schneider’s future. It all needs to be discussed. Is ownership complacent? This looks like a franchise that has lost its way.

Let’s run through what has gone wrong during the reset, which began after the 2017 season. If you want to add your own in the comments, be my guest.

— The Jamal Adams trade alone should be considered a fireable offence. It was a desperate move right before the 2020 season to make up for the total inability to bring in any difference makers during the off-season. Giving up what they did — picks and money. It’s indefensible. Worse still, they seemingly have no idea how to utilise him effectively. With every 2021 loss this trade looks worse and worse. How high will the pick be that they send to the New York Jets? Especially if Wilson misses time? Could it be a top-10 pick if he’s out for a few weeks? There should be a consequence for the people who made this deal.

— They went into the 2018 and 2019 drafts at the start of the reset with three first round picks in total. What did they come away with? Rashaad Penny, L.J. Collier and Marquise Blair.

— They’ve completely botched the cornerback position. It’s been an issue for some time that they’ve failed to address. This year, they finally felt the tipping point of their neglect of the position.

— They’ve invested big resources in the wrong positions. They have spent far too much in the way of picks and money at linebacker and safety.

— The team has lost all sense of identity. They’ve constantly made moves since the reset which contradict the kind of team they claim to want to be.

— They supposedly fixed the O-line this off-season, after a nudge from the quarterback. Gabe Jackson, about to be cut by Las Vegas, was traded for. Kyle Fuller has ended up at center somehow. They neglected to go and land a top free agent such as Jack Conklin a year ago, in favour of spreading their money across Brandon Shell, B.J. Finney and Cedric Ogbuehi. They’ve passed on multiple good center’s in the draft. How has that worked out?

— From Jimmy Graham to Greg Olsen to Gerald Everett to the draft picks they’ve used. Their continued investment at tight end with no clue how to make the most of the players at their disposal has been baffling.

— They’ve switched offensive coordinators but the same problems persist. Consistency, dependency on big plays, a lack of in-game adjustments. Perhaps the quarterback deserves a chunk of the blame? Yet we’ve seen Russell Wilson position himself as a sure-fire Future Hall of Famer for a reason. And while the coordinators change the Head Coach has always remained. The same coach who, when asked to speak positively about the offensive coordinator after the Indianapolis game, chose to praise his willingness to stick with certain things they’ve always done.

— Carroll, fully determined to do things ‘his way’, has way too much misplaced loyalty in what appear to be yes-men coaches and coordinators, including family members. When he was asked who holds him accountable, he referred to Carl ‘Tater’ Smith. Come on.

— Despite all of the denials, including by large swathes of the fan base and media, it’s never been more evident that the franchise QB, in flirting with a trade, was simply reviewing that this is a franchise that has lost its way and he doesn’t want to waste his best years on a team where that’s the case. The reality is we are months away from him being more aggressive in pursuing a trade. Some of you might be prepared for that after a Geno Smith cameo that was fun tonight. Be careful what you wish for at such an important position.

This has been a botched reset and it’s time to acknowledge that Carroll and Schneider have failed in the job they set out to accomplish since 2017. Another reset of sorts is needed and a big decision needs to be made.

This is becoming a stale franchise. It believes in its own hype and is in the process of being humbled. It’s no longer young, fresh, energetic and vibrant. It’s a franchise that feels like it’s not really going anywhere. It’s a make up the numbers team, despite all the spent resource.

Faith in the people running your team is an underrated factor in sports. You’ll overlook the bad days and misjudgements if you believe in the people trying to guide you to the promise land.

I sense Seahawks fans have lost that faith. And with ownership basically a complete mystery — many will be concerned about the future.

The status quo and meandering along won’t be acceptable. Especially if the Seahawks just move themselves out of contention for the playoffs and then with nothing to play for, and all pressure removed, enjoy a late season flourish to create a false dawn.

This current ownership structure and Carroll himself have to be honest with themselves if that happens. They can’t be hoodwinked.

Russell Wilson won’t be back unless there’s change. That’s for sure. So one way or another, something big is happening in 2022.

Carroll’s lustre has waned. It’s been a great run. The best run. But next year will be the time for a new chapter.

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Curtis Allen’s week five watch points (vs Rams)

October 6th, 2021 | Written by Rob Staton

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…

No time to celebrate a win over a division foe. Time to buckle down and get ready for your true nemesis.

The Rams are coming off a division loss and know what is at stake. They also know the Seahawks have not forgotten that the Rams bounced them out of the playoffs last year in a bitter loss.

This game has the hallmarks of another tough NFC West showdown.

Are the Seahawks up to the challenge? They shook off an ugly two-game skid with a win against a banged up San Francisco team that could not execute the plays they needed to win.

They need to continue to ascend if they want to beat Los Angeles and get back into the NFC West title chase.

The Rams had been playing an outstanding brand of football in their first three weeks, dominating opponents on both sides of the ball and making it look easy. 

Until they got a bloody nose Sunday against the Cardinals, that is.

How did it go wrong for Los Angeles after going so right in prior weeks?

At the risk of taking a victory lap, the Cardinals took some notes from our post for the Seahawks’ Week Sixteen game against the Rams last year.

Arizona won the turnover battle 2-0.

They took an early lead and made the Ram defense play while behind. Up until this game, the Ram defense this season had played a grand total of four snaps while behind. In three whole games of NFL football, only four plays of it had the Ram defense on the field while trailing – their Achilles heel on defense according to the 2020 data. No wonder their success rate in those three games was so high.

The Cardinals dominated the Rams in the running game, running for 216 yards.

Kyler Murray knew when to take his shots, when to buy some time with his feet and when to take the yards on the ground the Rams gave him.

Related to all of that, they kept the Ram offense off the field, winning the time of possession battle by ten whole minutes.

It was a fantastic display. In the piece I asked these questions of the Seahawks:

It’s really a choice – do you want to try and beat them at their game? Or take control and make them play a game they’re far less effective at? The latter has a far greater chance of success. It won’t be easy but appears to be the most direct path to a win.

The Cardinals answered those questions emphatically. They showed the NFL that the Rams, talented as they are, are not the unbeatable juggernaut they had been made out to be.

Can the Seahawks follow suit? They are in a position to do so with their talent and ability but they will need to execute at a higher level than they have so far this season.

That post for Week 16 last year still contains the main watch points for this game. Control the time of possession, run the ball on this defense, be smart with the football and pick your spots.

I encourage you to read it if you have not already. We are going to work off of those, since they are still the key ingredients for a Seahawks win. 

Let us dig a little deeper into the detail of how they can get those things done.

Feed the beast in the running game

This is priority one. Run the ball on offense.

The Seahawks have consistently had success running against this Rams team but have been unable to really use that success to control the game.

In their last five games they have run the ball an average of 27 times for 124 yards for a very healthy 4.57 yards per carry. For all the talk of the potency of the Ram defensive line, the fact that you can move the ball on them on the ground seems to rarely be discussed.

Why? It is because the Rams have built their offense to fire off and take the lead early and force teams to go off script.

That strategy has worked against the Seahawks. In the playoff defeat last year, Chris Carson had an excellent game, running for a 4.81 yards per carry. He had seven carries of six or more yards, a fantastic rate of success.

But the Seahawks only got him the ball 16 times. Why so few? The Seahawks could not maintain offensive rhythm long enough to continue to feed Carson.

That needs to end Thursday.

The duo of Carson and Collins can be very potent against this defense, keep the Ram offense off the field and give Russell Wilson more time in the pocket.

A solid, consistent running game opens up all kinds of options.

The defense needs a big game from the safeties

The Rams offensive line is operating at a high level so far this season. Absent a breakdown or multiple injuries, Matt Stafford will have plenty of time in the pocket to throw on Thursday.

Have a look at a brief example of why they have been so effective this year:

Feel free to take a couple moments and enjoy the pure physicality of Brian Allen pancaking the 347lbs Vita Vea. It is truly impressive.

Finished? OK.

Now watch it again but focus on the left side. Guard David Edwards is lined up with Lavonte David in a two-point stance over him. Left tackle Andrew Whitworth has Ndamukong Suh lined up across him.

Edwards picks up that David’s blitzing pose is a disguise for a corner blitz. Watch him point it out to Whitworth and Whitworth make the adjustment. At the snap, as predicted, David jumps out of the blitz and into a coverage zone. Edwards picks up Suh, leaving Whitworth free to pick up the corner blitz from Russ Cockrell.

Gorgeous. Seamless. Like a Swiss watch.

We are not done. Wind it back again and watch the right side of the line. The exact same thing happens there. Austin Corbett signals to Rob Havenstein that Carson Tinker is disguising and takes Joe Tryon so Havenstein can take Shaq Barrett. Watch Corbett laterally hop into the gap with the snap.

A marvel of precision.

We are still not done. Wind it back and watch Stafford. He takes the snap, looks off the safety, sets his feet and hits the receiver in stride. Even if someone had made it through, the throw still would have gotten out in time. 

That is the kind of play the Seahawks will be dealing with Thursday night.

The entire offensive line is grading in the 70’s by PFF this season. They have not played cream puffs. They have played four teams with good to great defensive lines and only allowed three sacks and a small handful of pressures. The point being, Stafford is going to have some time.

The beauty of the Rams having Stafford instead of Jared Goff is it opens up the full playbook for Sean McVay. 

No more having to dial things back to accommodate a limited quarterback. 

No more keeping extra blockers in because Goff is not quick enough progressing through his reads.

No more overly relying on dump offs and praying that the running game can more than carry its weight.

What does this mean for the safeties?

With five offensive linemen operating at a very high level and a quarterback who can process the game quickly, McVay is able to send five receivers out into the field in various combinations.

Two of those receivers he frequently sends to act purely as decoys. Players that are never meant to run a route to catch the ball but simply to draw the safeties out of the area McVay wants his true target to occupy.

Both Quandre Diggs and Jamal Adams must be wary of this. 

The Rams are extremely good at showing you one thing on tape and then giving you that same look pre-snap in game but with a different agenda. So, you bite based on your film study, which is exactly what they want you to do.

Awareness, instinct and recovery/closing speed for this duo will be critical Thursday. They both showed some promise that their game is trending in a positive direction on Sunday. Another big step forward will do a world of good.

The Rams come out aggressively on offense. They do not worry much about establishing anything. They do not dink and dunk and toy with you like they used to. They just come at you. Sean McVay loves to call some downfield throws in the first drive. A key play like this could turn the tide, just like it did against the Cardinals:

As the announcer pointed out, Murphy baited Stafford into making that throw. He has rolled out into the open field and had time to wind up and give it a shot. Murphy played off the receiver and then closed quickly and made a fantastic play.

Arizona then took the ball and drove the field for an early touchdown.

Using their aggressiveness against them can be a powerful tactic if executed properly.

The defense must have a couple of early stops in order to disrupt the Rams’ extraordinary model of complimentary football. If the Rams come out and move the ball at will and rack up a couple of scores before the offense can get their cleats laced up, it will be an uphill battle and a very long night.

Yes, the defensive line having a disruptive night would be a huge boost. 

But the play of Diggs and Adams will be critical.

Russell Wilson, get this monkey off your back

Wilson has just not had very good games against this Rams defense. In the last five games his play has resulted in something better than the league average for quarterback rating only one time. Even worse, in three of those games he had a rating below 75.

The Seahawks desperately need Field General Russ to show up Thursday, not Shrinking Violet Russ.

The Rams pass rush continues to plague this team. In the last five games the Seahawks have surrendered 20 sacks and 67 pressures. Unacceptable.

Even their biggest triumph against the Rams in Week 16 last year to win the division was far harder than it should have been. The Seahawks dominated the first half of that game but had three separate drives stall because of sacks at key times.

Are the Seahawks going to get a little opposition scouting from Shane Waldron on this Rams defense?

Can Waldron cure the Seahawks of their stubborn obsession with throwing deep against the Rams so much?

In the last five games against Los Angeles, the Seahawks are an awful 9-for-35 on deep passes with two interceptions and one touchdown. Add in those 20 sacks and who-knows-how-many throwaways stopping the clock and that plays right into the Rams’ hands.

Will the Seahawks show some humility in their game plan? Can they acknowledge that the Rams can take away some of the things they like to do?

Russ needs a combination of cool smarts, some Houdini magic to escape sacks and some simple options given to him to move the sticks and control the game.

Start with the run game. Get some short throws going. Find a tight end. Tell Russ to take off and run when he spots an opening (Kyler Murray converted a 3rd and 16 with his feet on this defense on Sunday).

If he is available, this game would be the perfect time to unleash Dee Eskridge with a small package of plays.

None of that means the Seahawks absolutely cannot throw deep. Yet in this game, against this opponent, the entire team, from Pete Carroll to Shane Waldron to Russell Wilson to the receivers, needs to be carefully calculated when it comes to deep throws.

DK Metcalf needs to have a game

He has slowly improved his play against the Rams, particularly in the last three games.

Jalen Ramsey and a bizarre offensive game plan erased him in Week 10 last year, holding him to two catches for 28 yards.

He had six catches for 59 yards in the Week 16 rematch.

In the playoff game he had five catches for 96 yards and two touchdowns but had a drop and was victimized by Darious Williams for a pick six at a pivotal moment.

Metcalf has yet to have a real signature performance in 2021. Thursday against the Rams would be a fantastic time for one, similar to what he did against Darius Slay and the Eagles in Week 12 last year.

The drops must stop. Russell Wilson, as good as he is, cannot put the ball in the perfect place on every single throw. There are going to be some contested throws in this game. Count on it.

Metcalf needs to win them, pure and simple. He might have the physique of a professional bodybuilder but he needs to strengthen his hands and his concentration if he ever wants to reach an elite level as a receiver.

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Bravo, Hugh Millen

October 5th, 2021 | Written by Rob Staton

Hugh Millen, asker of important questions

A curious thing happened yesterday.

Pete Carroll was put on the spot during a press conference.

It started with the Athletic’s Michael-Shawn Dugar probing on the reasoning behind the continued offensive struggles on third down.

Then, the big moment.

Hugh Millen, unexpectedly, attended the press conference. He asked Carroll about the busted coverage that led to a 76-yard touchdown for Deebo Samuel.

It followed up a hunch he’d voiced earlier on 950 KJR about who was responsible for giving up the play.

Allow me to provide some background. Millen has been an outspoken critic of the Jamal Adams trade. He criticised Adams’ performance in 2020 and questioned not only the resource spent on Adams in terms of draft picks but also the sense in paying him a record-breaking contract.

He detailed specifically why manufactured production enabled Adams to break a sack record last year for defensive backs. He noted the regularity with which Bobby Wagner lined up in the A-gap to set the table and shift protection, creating an unblocked rush off the edge.

He highlighted Adams’ struggles in coverage and backed up his views through tape study with great detail.

It was welcome analysis. Not because it confirmed a lot of what we’ve written about on this website, although I’m sure that’ll be the accusation. It was welcome because here was someone in the media willing to actually look beyond assumptions.

Over the last 14 months I’ve lost count how often Adams has been referred to as a ‘weapon’, ‘stud’ or ‘playmaker’. His sack tally was used to prop up concerns about his overall performance. Time and time again people in the media and fans alike referenced the need to pay and retain Adams because the Seahawks ‘couldn’t afford to live without him’.

I’ve never seen any evidence to justify this, personally. And when you look at his PFF grade last year (64.2) it backs up the impression that he was pretty average overall and struggled to make an impact beyond the blitz-created sacks (a coverage grade of 53.1 being a particular concern).

This was pretty much shrugged off due to an injury-hit season and the fact it was his first year in Seattle. With extra time in the system, things would be different in 2021.

Only yesterday someone I like a lot sent me a tweet saying the Seahawks, “gave up a ton to get a stud. I wasn’t thrilled with it. But they did get a stud and needed one desperately.”

That’s part of the issue I have when analysing this trade. There’s an assumed quality with Adams that the evidence just doesn’t point to. It’s as if the size of the investment and name recognition is creating a reputation vs results type scenario.

I don’t think Adams is a bad player at all. Neither, I suspect, does Hugh Millen or anyone else who is heavily critical of this trade. But I do think it’s unarguable that it was a bad trade. That the investment of picks plus salary was far too much for what you’re getting in return and that there’s increasing evidence that this coaching staff still doesn’t know how to get the best out of him.

For example, a cursory glance on Twitter revealed how PFF has graded Adams for every game this season so far:

Indianapolis — 70.7
Tennessee — 63.6
Minnesota — 63.6
San Francisco — 49.4

His overall grade for the season is 62.8. Currently, that makes him the 42nd highest graded safety in the NFL — despite being the highest paid by some distance.

When I point this out, or discuss Adams in this way, I generally get two reactions.

One is the accusation that I ‘hate’ Adams. The same person who tweeted to me about Seattle ‘needing a stud’ also accused me of holding disdain for the player. I don’t. I just think the evidence shows this has been a horrible trade and I think it’s important to discuss why.

The other accusation is that I talk about this too much. I find that one somewhat similar to a ‘defending the sacred cow’ argument. At the end of the day, this is the biggest trade in franchise history in terms of spent cost. It’s the most significant move Pete Carroll and John Schneider have made. The value of this deal should be talked about a lot.

Let’s put it this way — imagine a scenario where the Seahawks, instead of drafting Russell Wilson, spent two first round picks and a third round pick on a quarterback before the 2012 draft. Then they gave that quarterback a massive contract. If that player was performing at the level Adams is, we’d never stop talking about it.

I don’t think there’s any reason not to discuss this as much simply because we’re talking about a safety instead of a quarterback. If anything, taking a punt on a quarterback at least can be justified if you’re trying to find an answer at the most important position in football. Investing what they have in a safety — that to me warrants even more analysis because it’s not considered a premium position.

And no amount of calling him a ‘stud’, ‘weapon’ or ‘playmaker’ should overcome an average performance. Which is what we’re seeing currently.

He has zero sacks, zero hurries, zero QB hits, zero pressures and zero interceptions. He’s missed 8.6% of his tackles and he’s giving up 17.7 yards per completion. He’s ranked 54th in terms of coverage grade per PFF.

No amount of ‘soundness within the scheme’ covers for that. Especially when the overall defense has given up 1778 total yards (most in the NFL), 608 rushing yards (most in the NFL) and has a sack percentage of just 5.4%.

For what they’ve spent, you should expect more. And whether people like it or not — this trade will be analysed with a critical eye throughout his time in Seattle.

Your most high-profile, expensive players will always receive a lot of attention. Look at how much people discuss Russell Wilson’s performances. He hasn’t been flawless this season by any stretch. Yet he still leads the NFL in yards per attempt (9.6) and passer rating (129.9), he hasn’t thrown an interception and his PFF grade is 83.0. It’s to his credit that it feels like there’s a lot more to come from Wilson and yet he’s still achieving these numbers.

If Adams’ play rapidly improves and they work out a way to make him far more impactful, I’ll be the first to write that up. But let’s not pretend that we shouldn’t be talking about his performance all the time, given what they’ve spent on him. It’s too convenient to avoid the arguments and wash this away as ‘hatred’ or ‘obsession’.

Back to Millen and his exchange with Carroll. On the busted 76-yard touchdown, it was implied after the game that it was the fault of Sidney Jones.

On the broadcast, Mark Schlereth had suggested Adams should’ve carried the wheel route. Immediately after the play, I posted on Twitter (in an admittedly hyperbolic fashion) ‘worst trade ever’. My mentions blew up shortly after with countless people telling me I didn’t know anything about football. Because of course, Seahawks Twitter is home to some of the great football minds of our time.

Millen wasn’t buying the explanation and said on 950 KJR on Monday that he was 99% sure it was Adams’ fault.

To his credit, rather than pontificate from the sidelines, he attended the press conference to get some answers.

If you missed the exchange, fast forward to 13:57 in the video below (you’ll need to open it in YouTube, the Seahawks have blocked their videos from being embedded):

Carroll’s answer is unconvincing and terse. He clearly didn’t enjoy being challenged and perhaps knew about the angle Millen was going with.

The big takeaway for me, though, is that however much people think they know about the X’s and O’s of that play, none of us really know. There’s a grey area where some think Jones was at fault, some think Adams. Others thought Marquise Blair. And Carroll admitted within their scheme there are different ways of working that coverage. So really, it could’ve been the fault of different players even if it actually was Jones on this occasion.

It was also a reminder of what these press conferences should be about. They are an opportunity to quiz Carroll. Too often it’s an exercise in ‘give us a thought on player X who had a good game’, ‘how good is player Y?’ or ‘let’s have an injury update on these five different players’.

When you give up a 76-yard touchdown on a busted play, digging around to find out what went wrong is justified. As is the persistent questioning of the third down struggles. And there are many other questions that could and should be asked of a Head Coach whose team has performed the way it has after four games.

Yes — that includes a stronger line of questioning on Adams’ performance and why this team has so far struggled to get the kind of impact the cost of this trade and contract warrants.

It’s not about being difficult or awkward for the sake of it. Coaches should expect to be pushed on certain topics. Sometimes, questions are challenging and hard. That’s par for the course when you coach at the highest level.

So well done Hugh Millen for stepping up to the plate. Hopefully this wasn’t a one-off cameo appearance in the Monday press conference.

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Instant reaction: Seahawks beat Niners in really weird game

October 3rd, 2021 | Written by Rob Staton

I’m not sure how to adequately react to this game.

Just when you think you’ve seen it all.

The Seahawks managed to have one of the worst starts to a game you’ll ever see. They were truly awful.

Here’s the first quarter yardage stats:

49ers: 167

Seahawks: -3

It wasn’t just a bit of a slow start either. This pattern continued deep into the second quarter.

It felt like watching the 2009 team. No kidding.

And yet despite it being a painful, one-sided car-crash — somehow the score stayed 7-0.

The defense made stops and the ever-accommodating Jimmy Garoppolo threw an interception.

After a horrendous opening drive, the much maligned defense hung in there. It propped up the abysmal offense as it toiled and struggled to even return to the line of scrimmage on any given play.

The O-line was bullied. They were absolutely blown away. Nothing worked.

The defense kept hanging… and kept hanging.

They hung on long enough for the Seahawks to finally work out some answers.

Other opponents might not be so generous. Yet thankfully, the 49ers squandered their early advantage. The Seahawks gradually found an offensive foothold — thanks to magic from the quarterback and a brilliant cameo from Alex Collins.

Then at half-time, the back-breaker. Garoppolo’s all over the place at times but he knows the offense and he isn’t Trey Lance. We wrote about Lance a lot, unflatteringly, during the draft season.

He’s not ready to play. Until the Seahawks took their foot off the gas, he looked like the worst kind of rookie — a deer in headlights.

As the Seahawks grew and grew offensively, the 49ers shrunk. They looked like giants to start the game and mice to conclude it.

The only shining moment was a busted coverage on Deebo Samuel and some late movement when Seattle played their typical time-consuming defense.

I tweeted after the big bust, in reaction as you do on social media, that Jamal Adams was the worst trade ever (and was immediately reminded that some of the great football minds are all based on Twitter, wasting away when they could be running a coaching staff somewhere).

Whether it was on Adams or not (Mark Schlereth thought it was so I’m not going to assume the timing of the tweet was totally unjust) — I still think the Adams trade is a clear L (hyperbolic language or not). I would suggest Ryan Neal’s performance highlights that. He was superb and is a lot cheaper.

But I’m starting to wonder if the actual ‘worst trade ever’ (yes, I’m milking that hyperbolic phrase today) might end up proving to be San Francisco’s Hail Mary with Lance.

We’ll see how his career develops but I wasn’t convinced at North Dakota and this performance probably made Niners fans cringe a little bit. Especially those who’ve been calling for him to start. Don’t be fooled by that late drive, when Seattle already had the cigars out.

So the Seahawks move to 2-2. I’m not convinced they took a big step forward or anything here. After all, they started terribly, played a team who lost their starting quarterback at half-time and the Niners also played without a kicker.

Yet at the end of the day, it’s always fun beating the Niners. Because they are a bit irritating.

The defense does deserve some props though, after some rough sledding. They enabled this win by keeping the team in it. The Niners were 2/14 on third down. The late touchdown felt a little too predictable and avoidable but the Seahawks are a team determined to never do things the easy way.

Onto Thursday night and the Rams, who were blown out by the Cardinals. I’m not sure what to make of that, other than clearly Arizona were the underestimated team in this division.

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Desmond Ridder has my attention

October 2nd, 2021 | Written by Rob Staton

I haven’t properly studied Cincinnati quarterback Desmond Ridder. There have been times in his now four year career where I’ve thought he looked like simply a good college player. He’s been on a well run team, that wins games, and his numbers have been decent but nothing special.

Today against Notre Dame, he had my attention.

For some reason Saturday’s college football schedule on British TV was fairly limited. Usually there are a number of games to pick from. Today we had to wait until 8:30pm our time for the Lane Kiffin-inspired Ole Miss capitulation at Alabama.

As such, I wasn’t planning to write about college prospects today. Yet at the last minute I remembered another broadcaster, Sky Sports, has done a deal with NBC to show the Notre Dame games.

I started watching in the fourth quarter and saw two ‘wow’ throws that make you think there’s a pro-prospect in the offing here.

Take a look at this:

That’s one of the prettiest throws you’ll see this season at any level. He gets the ball out quickly and throws with perfect velocity and touch, hitting the open receiver in stride.

His footwork is far from perfect. He has choppy feet, technically you’d like to see a smoother drop. You can’t argue with the end result though.

Then later in the game, he delivered an absolute dime down the seam for a big gain. He looked off the defenders to open up just enough space down the middle of the field, then threw perfectly into a small window to make a big completion. A few plays later, he ran in the touchdown himself showing nice athleticism to basically win the game for Cincinnati.

He seems decisive. He appears to have the arm strength. You can work on some of the technical flaws. And heck, Justin Fields is/was a technical disaster zone at Ohio State. He’s still become many peoples darling — not just in terms of the draft but also the never-ending pining for him to start in Chicago.

And while Notre Dame have all sorts of injury issues, Mike Tirico called it the biggest win in school history. That’s no mean feat. Ridder deserves some credit for that.

Often you only need to see a few flashes to know a player has ‘it’. Ridder showed a little something today. I’m intrigued to see more — and will make a point of watching more.

The 2022 quarterback draft class is a horror story. There’s a major opportunity for someone to emerge as the king of the crop.

On a different note, this is the second time this week I’ve seen a Cincinnati-based team have fun, win a game and just look young and fresh. Firstly it was the Bengals, now it’s the Bearcats.

With the Bengals, they look like a team on the start of a journey. If managed correctly (and it is the Bengals) they could be a real force.

But seeing that young, enthusiastic bunch generating excitement and new hope didn’t half make me pine for the days when the Seahawks felt fresh, new and exciting.

One other quarterback played well and caught the eye today. Stanford sophomore Tanner McKee is a tall, gifted passer. He led a 95-yard touchdown drive to tie the game against Oregon as time expired. McKee then scored in overtime and Stanford’s defense produced a stop to win the game.

He’s definitely one to monitor down the line. He’s an older player having served a two-year mission before his first CFB season in 2020.

Another draft note — a number of running backs are emerging this season with pro-potential. Alabama continues to find physical, explosive playmakers and Brian Robinson, a player we’ve highlighted over the last few weeks, continues to look terrific. He drives through contact, finishes runs and has the quickness to get outside. He can do it all.

Robinson is highly cut which is sometimes a concern and it helps playing behind Alabama’s ridiculous O-line. He has next-level skills though.

Don’t forget to join us for the instant reaction live stream right after the game tomorrow.

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Curtis Allen’s week four watch points (vs 49ers)

October 1st, 2021 | Written by Rob Staton

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…

The Seahawks will be fighting history in San Francisco. They have never had a three game losing streak in the Russell Wilson era.

Coming off disastrous losses to Tennessee and Minnesota, the Seahawks will need to up their execution and effort to beat a tough opponent.

They swept the injury-riddled Niners last year and split with them in 2019 in two of the most thrilling games of the NFL season. They split with them in 2018 as well. So while the Niners have not proven to be quite the bugaboo that the Rams have in the division, it is still a tall order to come away with a win on Sunday.

A lot of focus for the Seahawks will be on the stars to provide game-altering plays.

Russell Wilson will have to handle a tough San Francisco pass rush with poise and control.

Jamal Adams will have to find a way to break out of his streak of pedestrian play.

DK Metcalf will need to continue his strong run against the Niners. Time to take over a game.

Here are the watch points for this crucial division matchup:

Make Jimmy Garoppolo beat you

At this point in his NFL career, the die has been cast with Garoppolo. He is a good quarterback but not a great one. He can work with a system but elevating his team with his play is beyond his capability.

San Francisco has acknowledged this by mortgaging the future to get Trey Lance in the draft.

In the meantime, Shanahan has to work with Garoppolo much in the same manner that Sean McVay had to with Jared Goff. Plan an offense around him that does not ask too much of him, with many short passes that do not require pinpoint accuracy and decision-making.

You will get a few different things — some wildly creative runs set up by motion, a few quick throws behind the line of scrimmage to the playmaking wide receivers and screen pass after screen pass. Shanahan only asks Jimmy to throw past the sticks about 5-7 times per game because he is not accurate and is prone to turnovers, particularly when pressured.

Shanahan likes to come out early with a plan to push the ball downfield a little and see how Jimmy performs and then adapt accordingly. Frequently this year, he has had to dial back the game plan in game in order to keep the offense moving and give Garoppolo some easy completions that he can build on.

The Seahawks handled this game plan fantastically on defense in Week Eight last year:

Cue the video to about 4:43. The Niners have called one of their clever two option screens. Jimmy has Kittle to his right and Trent Taylor to his left.

Kittle leaks out and two defenders immediately converge on him.

Watch Poona Ford on the play. He easily busts through the offensive line, takes one step towards Jimmy, immediately diagnoses the play and stops cold. Branden Jackson does the same thing. Jimmy throws to Taylor and Poona runs him down and tackles him for a loss.

Keep the tape playing. That great play sets up a third and thirteen. Bobby Wagner blitzes free through the A-gap and hammers Garappolo. 

(The very next play on the highlight reel is Wagner knocking two Niner linemen over like bowling pins and sacking Garappolo again. Good watching.)

If they can read and react to these cute little creations Shanahan has set up to gain some yards, it puts more of the offense in Garappolo’s hands.

And that is a good thing for the Seahawks.

If they are able to limit the effectiveness of these creative runs and screens, it sets them up for success on third down. Which brings us to our next point, which is critical.

Win on third down

The Seahawks need to convert third downs on offense and get off the field on third downs on defense.

Penetrating analysis, I know. Yet failing in this one area cost them the game last Sunday.

The Seahawks were very poor last year, converting only 40% of third downs on offense, while allowing opposing offenses to convert 47% of third downs.

Both numbers are headed in the wrong direction in 2021. They are now converting only 38% on offense and allowing 49% of third downs to be converted on defense.

San Francisco on offense converts 47% of their third downs, good for seventh in the NFL so far this season.

How do they do it? They regularly put themselves in a position to have manageable third downs. A third of their plays on third down are of three yards or less. Which means they work to get yards in the early downs and have a range of options to convert and keep the drive alive.

Getting off the field on third down starts with winning on first and second down, especially with a Niner team that rarely has the ability to stretch the field.

Thinking the Seahawks’ defensive staff can outsmart Kyle Shanahan is not something that regularly occurs to Seahawks fans. Yet in Week Eight, they were able to bottle up a good portion of the game plan. They need a similar performance Sunday.

On offense, how can the Seahawks win more first downs? One way is by utilizing Metcalf against the Niner cornerbacks more.

Go back and watch that full Week Eight highlight package. They threw to DK Metcalf early and often. The number of quick slants they threw to him is impressive.  They also manufactured touches around the line of scrimmage for him. And that crossing route was thing of beauty.

Metcalf set a new career-high with eight first downs in that game.

Where has that slant play gone? The Seahawks seem to have taken it out of their toolbox. Why wouldn’t you let your huge wide receiver just shield corners right out of play and get a guaranteed seven or eight yards?

Sometimes we all get too hypnotized by complexity. Just put the ball in your playmaker’s hands and let him make plays.

Another way to keep the offense going…

Attack the middle of this defense

San Francisco has a defense that makes excellent use of their top players. They are creative and are schemed so well they appear to have twelve players on the field at times. They can simultaneously blitz and have deep support. They can rely on their front four to cause problems for the quarterback and flood coverage to clog the throwing lanes. They have options and a creative defensive coordinator.

However, there is a demonstrated spot in this defense that can and has been exploited so far in 2021 — right up the gut. And the Seahawks are well positioned to attack it. 

How so?  Two areas:

1. Attack it in the running game

In three games so far this season, the Niners’ opponents have had good success running in between the tackles.

Notice the run charts for Jamal Williams & DeAndre Swift (Week One), Miles Sanders (Week Two), and Aaron Jones (Week Three):

That is a lot of green lines (5+ yard runs) right through the teeth of the defense.

By my count, those three teams have run the ball inside 29 times against the Niners and gained almost 217 yards for a whopping 7.48 yards per carry average.

All three games have had success running inside against the Niners so far this year.

One game can be written off as an anomaly. Two games can be chalked up to talented players. Three games? That is a pattern.

What is happening? Defensive Coordinator DeMeco Ryans is having a blast scheming with this potent defensive line.

His latest trick is to stack Armstead, Bosa and Ford on one side to ensure they each get single teamed in the pass rush. If the Seahawks can give Russell Wilson a heads up to look for this formation, they have options. Run right at it and let their aggression open up some gaps. Or motion a tight end to the opposite side and bully your way against the inferior side of the defensive line.

The Seahawks are ideally placed to do this. Chris Carson and Alex Collins are tough inside runners. Damien Lewis is itching to drive some guys off the ball. 

Do you want to give the defense some rest? Keep Russell Wilson upright? Bleed the clock when you have a lead? Run it up the middle. Again and again and again.

If you can do that successfully you can keep the pass rush at bay for an extra half a second and draw linebackers up and open up the middle of the field. Which takes us to our next point.

2. Attack the middle of the field in the passing game

The middle of the field has been a challenge for the Niners in the passing game.

This crossing play to DK Metcalf last year exposed some of their difficulties:

Watch Metcalf take advantage of the corner who has slipped and the disorganization between everyone else that allowed them to be blocked by Hollister and Dissly. He gets a free run across the middle and DK’s explosive speed and change of direction takes it the rest of the way.

Another surprisingly unexpected area the Seahawks might be able to take advantage of?

Fred Warner has been terrible in coverage in a limited amount of plays in 2021. He has been burned for a perfect quarterback rating in coverage.

Trust me, I am as surprised as you are. He is one of the NFL’s best linebackers and has a strong reputation for coverage.

But he has been exploited at least once per game for a deep gain. Sunday against the Packers Robert Tonyan got behind him and Warner had to take a PI to prevent a bigger gain. Dallas Goedert and T.J. Hockenson have also beaten him for long gains in the two weeks prior.

I am not suggesting the Seahawks throw at Warner as much as they can. Yet before this year, one good thing happened when you got him in coverage — you moved him away from the line of scrimmage. Now, it could be two good results.

With the right timing and a well-designed play, they could really change the outcome of the game with a pass in Warner’s direction.

With Dissly, DK, Lockett and Swain and some smart planning, there could be several opportunities to get Warner in a matchup that is favorable to the offense.

Keep Deebo Samuel from wrecking the game

Samuel was one of the injured stars last season for San Francisco but he is fully recovered and is dominating the Niners’ stat sheet so far this season. He is their leading receiver and target by a wide margin. Garoppolo has clearly developed chemistry with him. He does not mind throwing further downfield if Samuel is open.

Watch Samuel’s Week One highlights and tell me that is not a near exact replica of what we saw the Vikings do to the Seahawk secondary on Sunday:

The wide receiver running free, with cushion after cushion. Converting darts thrown from a clean pocket into easy first downs.

He even makes Garoppolo look like a passable NFL quarterback. Watch the play at 1:06 when Garoppolo throws a dying quail. Samuel adjusts, makes the catch and turns on the jets for a massive touchdown.

George Kittle is still a monster and needs to be accounted for on every play. I would go so far as to advocate single-using Jamal Adams Sunday to just be across from #85 on every snap. Teams seem to regularly allow Shanahan to get Kittle alone in the scheme for easy catches and that is a big mistake.

But Samuel’s speed, route-running ability and his tendency to make plays after the catch could really harm this defense. It would be particularly frustrating if the defense bottles up the run game, keeps Kittle from taking over and occasionally harasses Garoppolo, only to have Samuel consistently free and able to have a big impact on the outcome.

The corners have to have an answer. Whether that is starting Sydney Jones and having DJ Reed follow Samuel around the formation, instructing Tre Flowers to line up 2 yards across from him and giving him constant over the top support from Diggs, or creating some lane-clogging formations with Jamal Adams and Jordyn Brooks, Samuel simply cannot be allowed to run free through this defense.

If you missed yesterday’s Seahawks vs 49ers preview live stream, check it out here:

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Live stream: Seahawks @ 49ers preview

September 30th, 2021 | Written by Rob Staton

 

Report: Richard Sherman turned down the Seahawks

September 29th, 2021 | Written by Rob Staton

The Seahawks had plenty of time — and money — to get a deal done with Richard Sherman.

According to Over the Cap, the Seahawks have $12.1m to spend. That’s the sixth most in the NFL.

They’re also dealing with a cornerback crisis and are facing a critical period in the season already. Their next two games are against the 49ers and Rams. Lose both and they’ll drop to 1-4 and virtually be out of the NFC West race.

Questions are starting to be asked about Pete Carroll. A significant section of fans, for the first time in the Carroll era, are wondering whether the end of an era is nigh.

Yet here they are. Sitting on their cap space, incapable of making the moves to improve their situation.

It’s perhaps a review of Seattle’s desperation. Only last week Carroll was asked on 710 ESPN whether they were talking to Sherman. Carroll said they weren’t. Now they’re seemingly trying to stop him joining Tampa Bay at the last minute.

It’s a horrible look.

Everyone could see they had a major, glaring problem at corner. If they’re willing to sign Sherman now, they should’ve been two weeks ago. They didn’t need to see Tre Flowers get carved up by Julio Jones first, or D.J. Reed by Adam Thielen.

It just feels complacent and neglectful. Then desperate.

And ultimately Sherman has picked a better offer. The Seahawks, even to a legendary player rooted in the region, are not as appealing as Tampa Bay.

Sherman has had his well publicised issues and teams having some trepidation over his ability to play to anything like his best is understandable. Yet the minute you pick up the phone and make the call, you’re admitting this isn’t as big a problem as some might think. You’re saying you’re willing to take a chance.

One of the big problems the Carroll era has faced in recent years is this repeated issue of having a glaring in-season need and then trying to cover things up with a band-aid.

In 2019 a last-gasp Jadeveon Clowney trade prevented the Seahawks starting the season with Barkevious Mingo, Cassius Marsh and Jacob Martin being ‘the pass rush’. A year ago they started the season with Benson Mayowa as their only barely competent defensive end and needed a Carlos Dunlap trade to salvage things.

This year it’s cornerback. Everyone — literally everyone — could see cornerback was a problem. You could see it in March and it was still there in September.

By trying for Sherman the Seahawks were hoping to once again find a band-aid. And they’ve failed. So what now?

The Buccs have found a possible solution for their corner crisis. The Panthers have just made a value trade for C.J. Henderson.

The Seahawks don’t appear to have an answer after the Sherman snub. So they sit there, with their $12.1m. And I have to say — I’m nervous about what they’re going to do.

Wasting more draft resources to paper over the cracks feels like a real possibility. Henderson has three more seasons of cheap value. His salary will never be higher than $3.4m for Carolina. He’s only 22 and a year removed from being the #9 overall pick.

Can’t you just see the Seahawks squandering more resource on an ageing stop-gap or rental?

Especially in light of reportedly losing out on Sherman?

Or are they just going to hope Sidney Jones is a solution — despite so far being so unconvinced that they’ve felt obliged to stick by Flowers?

It’s not been a good week for the Seahawks in this regard.

At the weekend John Schneider admitted they were planning to add Josh Gordon. It was announced on Monday he was joining the Chiefs instead.

Now, Sherman has seemingly said ‘thanks but no thanks’.

It all adds up to a franchise that continues to lose its way. Bad expensive trades, bad use of draft picks, constantly looking for band-aid solutions to fill holes, poor performances on the field, players calling out the scheme in interviews, a franchise quarterback who a few months ago flirted with a trade, no discernible identity.

They’re on the brink of implosion. The next two games are pivotal to avoid that.

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