Instant reaction: Seahawks compete and that’s alright

October 7th, 2018 | Written by Rob Staton

Fans went into this game fearing the worst. Even in defeat, there should be a renewed sense of optimism afterwards.

The Seahawks were competitive. They played their style of football. Last time these teams met the final score was 42-7. They were missing key starters (Earl Thomas, K.J. Wright).

Everything was set up for a Rams win. And they won. Kudos to them. They’re a good team. They ought to be too — they spent an off-season preparing to make this the year. And while LA added stars, the Seahawks cut and traded some of theirs.

It’s frustrating not to win because they had a shot. But ultimately this was a step forward. And the lasting thought should be — imagine how good this group will be?

Seattle’s O-line was shoved around and abused by Aaron Donald and co. for years. Today? they were finally a match. The O-line set the tone up front, continuously opened holes for the running game and protected Russell Wilson.

The line is a team strength. Take that in. The offensive line is a strength.

They’re tough, physical and will take you on.

The Seahawks ran the ball with authority. They committed to it, played to the way they’ve been built up front and it certainly aided Russell Wilson. This was a dynamic, explosive offense — with a running game at the heart of everything.

Rushing yards — 190
Passing touchdowns — 3
Commitment to the run — 100%

If anyone tries to tell you the run is overrated, outdated and a commitment to it doesn’t work — just walk away. Afford them their echo chamber.

Wilson looked a lot more comfortable this week and it’s fair to say — time is a healer. It’s perhaps unsurprising that the offense took a few weeks to get going. When has that ever not been the case in the Pete Carroll era? Throw in the fact this is Wilson’s first change of play caller. This style will do for me. Onto the Raiders.

Seattle couldn’t compliment their dynamic offense with equally good play on defense or special teams. Against a team like the Rams, all three units have to play at a high level. Too often the Seahawks conceded good field position on kick-offs and they just couldn’t make enough stops on defense. Tackling was also an issue.

Even so, there’s a positive to be had here. The defense didn’t capitulate. They were competitive. They just lack numbers. Add a couple of pass-rushers in the off-season and they’ll be even more competitive. Carroll is playing a blinder with this group.

They just need help.

They will get it. It’ll come in March or April. For now, we have to accept what’s available.

In this form, nobody will look forward to playing the Seahawks. They will punish opponents. They won’t win every week but they’ll give you a game. And if they win in London next week to get to 3-3, they’ll go into their bye believing they can make a post-season run.

That’s all we could’ve asked for this year.

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CFB week 6: Jachai Polite could be the answer

October 7th, 2018 | Written by Rob Staton

It’ll be interesting to see how the Seahawks approach their off-season plan — although adding to the front seven seems like an obvious priority. K.J. Wright is out of contract, Mychal Kendricks might be unavailable to be re-signed, Dion Jordan so far hasn’t done enough to warrant any long term faith and Frank Clark is a free agent.

Assuming they keep Clark, that could leave the following target areas:

— Linebacker
— Speedy DE
— Interior rusher

This would work perfectly with the options expected to be available in the 2019 draft. The strength of the class, without doubt, will be the defensive front seven. That was further highlighted on Saturday.

The combine will be fun to watch this year. The Seahawks don’t draft mediocre athletes to rush the passer. They’ll look for quickness, explosive athleticism and upside. We saw that with Rasheem Green and we’ve seen it with Clark and Bruce Irvin too. It’s easy to forget what an amazing athlete Cliff Avril was with his sensational 1.50 10-yard split.

They want great athletic qualities. It’s why I think they might take a look look at Jadeveon Clowney if he reaches free agency.

The D-line 10-yard splits will be a key test in 2019. Seattle has the bigger, explosive base-end types. They perhaps lack that quickness off the edge. Florida State’s Brian Burns (discussed below) could be a big-time option here to add some great speed and length. He might be pushing his stock out of range for Seattle. Another name to keep an eye on is Jachai Polite at Florida.

The LSU @ Florida game was a fascinating watch. LSU linebacker Devin White was again terrific (and will be a very early pick in the 2019 draft). Chauncey Gardner-Johnson has been playing nickel corner this season having previously featured at safety — but he had a big impact on the game and could be an option for Seattle with Earl Thomas departing and Justin Coleman also a free agent.

But the most impressive player was Polite. He’s been on our radar before. A year ago we highlighted his effort and possible interest to the Seahawks.

LSU consistently shifted two blockers to Polite’s side to chip and disrupt his flow. The plan failed. Despite the extra attention he lived in the backfield — recording two sacks, a QB hurry, a forced fumble and several pressures.

He’s not the longest at 6-2 and 260lbs but he’s well put together. FSU’s Burns is long, lean and athletic. Polite is extremely fast but more compact. His first-step quickness is exceptional and he often wins with get-off and the ability to bend and straighten to the QB. On one pressure he used a terrific spin move:

Florida’s D-line is talented. Jabari Zuniga — also draft eligible — is no slouch either. He had a sack and 1.5 TFL’s in the game. It was interesting to see LSU make it abundantly clear who they feared the most. Polite was doubled on nearly every snap and still made plays. That’s the kind of thing NFL teams notice.

Combining a quick, dynamic pass rusher like Polite with Clark and Green could be a way forward for Seattle. He looks like he’ll have a fantastic 10-yard split. If he gets to the combine and puts on a performance, remember the name Jachai Polite as an early round option for Seattle. He has six sacks so far this season.

— Brian Burns is a name to keep at the forefront of any Seahawks/draft discussion. He’s really quick, long and athletic. He’s having a fantastic season and is probably the only bright spot for Florida State so far. In a one-point loss to Miami, Burns recorded two more sacks (now seven for the season) and three TFL’s. He’s the real deal. I’m starting to think he could go in the top-12 range:

— Miami’s Joe Jackson also had two sacks in the game and is another name to monitor in this loaded D-line class. He’s up to five sacks for the season.

— Another week, another great performance by Colorado quarterback Steven Montez. We’ve been saying for weeks — he’s the top QB eligible for 2019. While the other big names have generally flopped or been far too inconsistent, Montez is the one who looks special. Size, deep-accuracy, great arm, mobility, improvisation. He led the Buffs to a 28-21 win over Arizona State and they remain unbeaten.

— It’s a shame we have to wait a year for Montez’s team mate Laviska Shenault Jr. to be draft eligible. He’s the most dynamic weapon in the PAC-12 by far and a future star. He scored four touchdowns against ASU.

— Tight End isn’t going to be a strong position (again) in the draft in 2019 but one player who could work his way into the top-40 is Stanford’s Kaden Smith. He has the size and athletic traits to work as a blocker and receiver. He caught eight passes for 120 yards against Utah at the weekend in a disappointing Cardinal defeat. A lot of the focus is on Bryce Love but Smith could be the higher pick.

— Isaiah Buggs has six sacks already. Alabama’s had a pretty easy route to 6-0 so far but it’ll be interesting to see how Buggs gets on in the tougher games ahead. Going into the year I thought he was the best run-defending DE eligible for the draft. His sack production on top of that could push him into the top-45 range.

— Damien Harris is being used in a rotation of running backs at Alabama. Don’t be mislead by that. He’s still the real deal. Ideal size, explosive traits, speed, power. Harris will be coveted by NFL teams and for me is the clear #1 back in this class ahead of Benny Snell Jr and Bryce Love.

— Dre’Mont Jones is having a big season for Ohio State and that continued in a win against Indiana. He collected another sack to take him to 4.5 for the season and also recovered a fumble. He’s done as much as anyone to bolster his stock this year.

— If you draft a Clemson defender in the first round next year, you’ve probably made a smart move. The Tigers defense smothered Wake Forest. Christian Wilkins and Dexter Lawrence are first-round locks but Clelin Ferrell will likely be the first name off the board. He had another sack on Saturday and will probably go in the top-five.

— I’m not sure how much of a problem this is because I’ve only seen one Houston game this season but Ed Oliver doesn’t have a sack in five games so far. He had 1.5 TFL’s in a win against Tulsa on Thursday. He’s extremely quick and will likely have a fantastic combine. You’d like to see a bit more production though.

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Wednesday thoughts — things I think this week

October 3rd, 2018 | Written by Rob Staton

1. Mike Davis deserves an opportunity to win the starting running back job full time. When he’s had an opportunity to start he hasn’t let anyone down. He’s explosive, powerful and seemingly equipped to take on a big workload. Nobody can dispute Chris Carson is the most physically talented running back on the roster. Yet the Seahawks need consistency at the position — they haven’t had it since 2014. Davis and Rashaad Penny showed last week they can be a duo. Let’s see how they get on not just against the Rams but also against the Raiders in London.

2. Contrary to what many will tell you, there’s nothing wrong with Seattle’s approach of emphasising the run and complimenting it with defense and special teams. That’s how they won a Super Bowl in 2013 and it’s how Denver did it in 2015. This idea that it’s suddenly an ‘outdated’ ideology is nonsense. The defense needs more parts and they could probably use another weapon on offense. That would give them a fighting chance to control games, set the tempo and win. They need another off-season and unfortunately on Sunday the Rams could exploit Seattle’s injuries and lack of D-line depth. It’s hard to stay committed to the run if you’re chasing a double-digit deficit. That’s what they have to avoid on Sunday. Not easy. LA are legit. You might want to settle for a competitive game and a bit more ambition in the passing game.

3. Of all the prospective free agents the Seahawks could target, I think Jadeveon Clowney is the one I’d most like to see in Seattle. He’s never truly put together a full season due to injuries or consistency. Yet anyone who saw Clowney in college will be well aware that he’s a freak of nature with game-wrecking talent. Last Sunday was a great example of that. He had four TFL’s, two sacks, a fumble recovery and a touchdown against the Colts. When he’s on it, he’s unstoppable. We saw that when he played the Seahawks last season. He also has the size to play inside/out and hold up against the run. Seattle isn’t going to be in range for a Nick Bosa, Clelin Ferrell or Ed Oliver in the 2019 draft. If you’re hoping for a D-line off-season boost, the best bet might be to pair someone like Clowney with a contract extension for Frank Clark and then add some front-seven speed in the first round. Go and get the quickest EDGE you can find. Alternatively, go and get that forever elusive interior rusher.

4. People are probably going to overreact to the Earl Thomas injury and inevitable departure and start mocking safeties to Seattle when draft season comes around. Bradley McDougald, Tre Flowers, Justin Coleman and Shaquill Griffin have been fantastic. Pete Carroll is a master at developing defensive backs. Thomas is a legendary player and one of the all-time greats at his position. There won’t be another Earl sat waiting in the first round in 2019. They’ll have to come up with a solution but Carroll is the man to unearth one. Hopefully a replacement emerges from Tedric Thompson, Delano Hill, newly signed T.J. Green, Shalom Luani or Maurice Alexander. If not, they’ll likely do what they’ve consistently done. Find an unexpected diamond.

5. Next week I’ll be attending the Seahawks press conferences leading up to the Raiders game in London (which I will also be attending). I intend to head down to London on the Thursday and will be there until Monday morning.

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Instant reaction: Seahawks win a battle of two bad teams

September 30th, 2018 | Written by Rob Staton

Firstly, a win is a win. So while this one was mostly frustrating and about as unenjoyable as a win can be, the Seahawks at least avoided the embarrassment of losing to a quite terrible Arizona team.

The problem is, the Seahawks aren’t much better.

The Cardinals came into this game as desperate as any franchise in the league. They were ranked last in many categories. They couldn’t pass, run or defend. Those things are quite important in football.

First-year coach Steve Wilks was already feeling the heat.

As a consequence they decided to start their rookie quarterback for the first time. It was a desperate attempt to find a spark. ‘Over to you, Josh‘.

Everything was stacked in Seattle’s favour. The experienced QB. The momentum of a win last week. Arizona was hapless.

Yet the Seahawks put in a performance so disappointing, even with the win it’s hard to be optimistic for the rest of the year.

Rosen couldn’t have asked for a gentler introduction to the NFL. His most uncomfortable moment was when he raised his hand to Bobby Wagner for assistance following a five yard run. Wagner rejected the opportunity to help Rosen from the turf. He otherwise had a clean pocket throughout. He wasn’t harassed, pressured, blitzed or confused. He had all day to pick his passes.

Once again Seattle’s below-par pass rush was exposed.

He deserves some credit. He played well in his first start. But it’s not an exaggeration to say he was practically ‘eased in’ to the pro’s today.

It was frustrating. But this isn’t a surprise, right? We’ve known for weeks the pass rush wasn’t going to be great in 2018. They didn’t have Dion Jordan or Rasheem Green either. It was always going to be an issue today.

They could’ve done more to make life difficult for Rosen. But the defense is doing better than expected through four games. They aren’t the problem.

The offense is.

This unit was supposed to be a positive this season. They had the experienced quarterback, the new-look O-line, new coaches, a re-commitment to their preferred identity, a first round playmaker.

We all expected the defense to take a step back. Instead, the offense is trundling along. Starting, stalling, stopping, starting again and being ferociously dull throughout.

The quarterback looks uncomfortable, restricted and a million miles off his best. They were an incredible 0/10 on third downs. And worst of all — having told everyone over and over again how they want to run the ball — they continue to pick weird moments to contradict their vision.

The decision to pass on 3rd and 1 at midfield with a 17-10 lead in the fourth quarter was the definitive example of this. They ran the ball well today, averaging 5.0 YPA on 34 attempts. So of course… you pass in that scenario.

It fell incomplete. They punted. Arizona scored a touchdown. The Cardinals then missed a potential game-winning field goal. A game that was in control, that was crying out for the classic ‘run to win’ approach, was suddenly in grave danger of becoming a terrible loss.

They got lucky.

There’s still time to work this out and admittedly, this is the first time they’ve changed offensive coordinators in over seven years. It’s the first time Russell Wilson has worked with a new play caller. And we know Pete Carroll likes to get involved too, which isn’t always a good thing.

Either way, Wilson’s creativity seems to be completely stymied in this offense. The run has shown signs of life in the last two games. Wilson had flashes against Dallas but he just doesn’t look comfortable.

They have to fix this to have any chance of being remotely competitive next week against a fantastic Rams team.

It’s also time to wonder if this arena in Arizona (whatever it’s called these days) is cursed. Having taken Kam Chancellor and Richard Sherman’s Seahawks careers a year ago, it seems to have another victim in Earl Thomas after he suffered a broken leg.

This is likely the lasting memory we’ll have of Earl in a Seahawks uniform, flipping off the team he won a Super Bowl with:

A lot of people are going to tell you that Thomas’ holdout and approach is validated by this latest injury. The opposite is true. The Seahawks are validated. They didn’t want more dead money committed to ageing players. They’ve been there, done it and got the T-shirt with Kam Chancellor, Marshawn Lynch and Michael Bennett.

If Thomas’ issue is they’ve changed their approach when he was next in line for the juicy third deal, we can all sympathise with that. But the Seahawks don’t owe him a repeated financial error. They protected themselves against this scenario.

However, they’re not without blame. Because now it’s official. They won’t get anything for Thomas. He will walk as a free agent in the off-season. They were pretty bad with him and scraped to 2-2. A second rounder was reportedly on the table from Dallas. They should’ve taken it and moved on.

Instead they’ll likely get nothing. And make no mistake, this isn’t a team close to contending. The next off-season is a big one if they want to reload and get back to the top. Yet they currently own just FOUR picks in rounds 1,3,4 and 5. They are unlikely to receive any comp picks as things stand.

They appear caught between a desire to compete this year and think longer term. In reality, they’re not doing either particularly well. They’re ill-equipped to be truly competitive and don’t have the stock to be ‘one draft away’ from an invite back to the top table in 2019.

Even worse, one of the few positives so far — Will Dissly — has a patellar tendon injury. The worst news possible.

This wasn’t a fun Sunday. Sadly, we’ve said that too many times over the last year and a bit.

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CFB week 5: D’Andre Walker is definitely legit

September 29th, 2018 | Written by Rob Staton

I’ve got Ole Miss vs LSU and Ohio State vs Penn State to watch over the next couple of days. I watched Tennessee vs Georgia live and wanted to write about one player who continues to stand out.

D’Andre Walker is terrific. And he seems like a great fit for the Seahawks and the way they play defense. He can attack the edge. He has the speed to run across the backside and tackle. He can play in space. He’s incredibly quick and sudden. He’s intense and plays with attitude. He’ll chase after the ball carrier.

Walker jumped a 33 inch vertical at the SPARQ tests in High School and his 4.16 short shuttle is in Leighton Vander Esch territory. You see that agility and explosion show up time and time again. Against Tennessee he stunted inside from the edge and got a big sack. It was such a fluid, sudden movement. Tennessee had no shot at picking it up. He chased, he harassed. On one play he drove the left tackle into the backfield with a bull rush.

He is the star in this Georgia front seven.

The only downside was a needless unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for a shove after the whistle. It extended a drive that led to points. Kirby Smart took Walker out of the game for a while as a punishment. It all seemed a little over the top:

He came back into the game and with 3:24 to go — set the edge vs the run, released from his block, hit the RB and forced a fumble. Turnover.

Walker’s not getting much attention which is a surprise. Keep an eye on him though. Big talent, great athlete. One to watch.


— Despite his good reviews, I wasn’t blown away by Notre Dame defensive tackle Jerry Tillery when he played Michigan. Yesterday, however, he collected four sacks against Stanford. That’s unusual for a DT. I’ll try to find the tape. Tillery also had two further QB hurries.

— Kentucky linebacker Josh Allen had a similar performance against South Carolina. He had three sacks, four TFL’s and a hurry. The first sack was on a backside pursuit (almost a safety in the end zone), the second he was unblocked stunting inside and the third he just flat out beat the left tackle for speed and bend leading to a sack/fumble. Allen had numerous other pressures too. He’s had a very productive start to the season and he’s making his case for round one. He’s not the only Kentucky player making a big impression. Running back Benny Snell Jr looks like he has a big future in the NFL too.

— Florida defensive end Jachai Polite has always been fun to watch but he’s had spells of inconsistency and injury. I caught a little bit of the Florida vs Mississippi State game yesterday and noticed his two sacks. He’s a little bit undersized (6-2, 260lbs) but he plays with a fantastic motor.

— Ohio State’s Dre’Mont Jones has snaps where he looks really quick and smooth. On one play against Penn State he used an effortless swim move to get into the backfield and force a big TFL. For his size he’s extremely nimble and light on his feet. I just wish he combined that with a little bit more power and explosion. At the next level he won’t always be able to rely on being quicker. There are times when he’s blocked too easily out of plays or moved at the LOS. His quickness is rare but in order to go very early in 2019 you’d like to see a little more power if he’s projecting as a defensive tackle.

— Auburn’s Derrick Brown isn’t a heralded player but he’s a fantastic defensive tackle with a big-time NFL future. He had a sack, two TFL’s and a hurry against Southern Miss. He’s a 6-5, 325lbs plug-in interior presence who can control the line, play with a nasty edge and provide enough pass-rush to make plays in the backfield.

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Colorado trio continue to impress

September 29th, 2018 | Written by Rob Staton

I’m all in on three Colorado prospects this year. Quarterback Steve Montez, linebacker Nate Landman and playmaker Laviska Shenault Jr. They put on another show against UCLA on Friday, taking the Buffs to 4-0 for the season.

Montez is legit. He’s 6-5 and 235lbs. I want to watch more of Justin Herbert at Oregon but I haven’t seen a more talented draft-eligible QB than Montez so far this year. His mobility, his size, his downfield accuracy and his playmaking quality are top level. He’s avoiding big mistakes, making sensational plays and elevating his team. And that’s a big thing to look for. Has a player put a team on the map? Have they taken a team into contention? Montez has done both.

Colorado are challengers in the PAC-12. We’ll learn a lot about them in the next few weeks. They host Arizona State then go to USC and Washington. It’ll be a great test for the Buffs as a team and Montez as a draft prospect. I think he looks like the real deal.

He’s no doubt helped by Shenault Jr who is just an incredible playmaker as a runner or receiver. Line him up anywhere. He’s a headache for defenses, a tremendous athlete and has a knack of making improbable catches. He himself looks like a first round talent. A quick reminder — he’s 6-2 and 220lbs and squats 475lbs. He’s extremely explosive. Alabama and LSU showed some interest in him as a recruit. It’ll be interesting to see if Montez opts not to declare this year to play one more season with Shenault Jr in 2019 before both turn pro. They’re a great double act and there isn’t a better quarterback-weapon combination in the conference.

Like Shenault Jr, Landman isn’t draft eligible this year. He led the team in tackles against UCLA and is a typically intense middle linebacker with great physical skills, quickness and ability to read/react. He had a 37-inch vertical in high school. Going into the UCLA game he had seven TFL’s — as many as Montez Sweat and 0.5 more than Clelin Ferrell. The TFL numbers haven’t been released yet for last nights game so he might be credited with more. He also has two interceptions. Great prospect.

This trio are making Colorado practically unmissable this season. The next three games will be fascinating. Don’t be surprised if they continue their great run and these three become very intriguing NFL prospects for the draft.

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Flowers & Kendricks show Carroll can still work his magic

September 27th, 2018 | Written by Rob Staton

For the first time this season, there was a vision for the long term. Suddenly, you could see players fitting into a newly competitive Seahawks team.

That Dallas win, coupled with flashes from the defense against Chicago, showed what was possible. Probably not in 2018 — but certainly in 2019 with another off-season.

For me two players stand out as possible additions to a new-look core that already includes stalwarts like Russell Wilson, Bobby Wagner and Doug Baldwin and clearly now also includes Bradley McDougald, Shaquill Griffin, Jarran Reed and Frank Clark.

The rookie cornerback exceeding expectations

Tre Flowers will be tested in future games. The games against Aaron Rodgers, Matt Stafford and Kirk Cousins won’t be the same as the contests against Case Keenum and Dak Prescott.

That said, it’s impossible not to be impressed with Flowers so far. He’s holding his own. He isn’t giving up big plays, he’s competing for the passes thrown his way, he hasn’t been exploited so far.

I can remember watching the combine live, seeing Flowers testing with the safeties and immediately thinking, ‘that’s a Seahawks corner’. His frame and length were so obviously ‘Seahawky’. It’s why we mocked him so often to Seattle. It was obvious. They were always going to recognise his potential and fit.

Flowers was a project though. A convert. Someone who needed time.

The fact he’s out there immediately and hasn’t been a liability is a credit to Flowers and the coaching chops of Pete Carroll. We discussed this after the Dallas game. Whatever you think about the offense, whatever you think about some of the bizarre things that have happened to this team over the last four years — don’t be quick to write-off Carroll. He is, once again, delivering a productive defense. Once again, he’s turning water into wine with a defensive back plucked from obscurity.

Furthermore, it was great to see Flowers being so chippy against Dallas. He was seen jawing and jostling a couple of times. Toughness, size and length. A ‘prototype’ for Carroll.

Flowers will have some rough moments no doubt. But the early signs are encouraging. Along with Shaquill Griffin, again the Seahawks have reloaded at corner. The scheme helps. We have to remember that. But it’s not a plug-in-and-play situation. These guys have quite a strict technique to learn. It’s not easy. Time and time again, Carroll delivers.

Griffin and Flowers could be the future — and they cost only a late third round pick and a fifth rounder.

Can they keep Mychal Kendricks?

Who knows what’s going to happen to Kendricks? He’s set to receive a suspension from the league it seems. Is he going to jail? Nothing is clear at the moment.

If he isn’t locked up and if his suspension is fairly minor, the Seahawks should work to keep Kendricks on this team.

It’s his 28th birthday on Friday. He’s entering the prime years of his career. He has looked fantastic against Chicago and Dallas — registering sacks, working well in coverage and the mistakes have been limited.

He looks the part. And the Seahawks have badly needed some depth at linebacker for years. Here’s a reminder of Pete Carroll’s words immediately after the 2016 season:

“We need some youth at the linebacker spot now. Bobby and K.J. played 1000’s of plays this year between the two of them and were extremely successful but we need to address that. We didn’t really get anybody that made a difference in the last couple of years that can really fight to take those guys job. Think if somebody could battle K.J. and Bobby for their starting jobs? That’s what we need to draft towards, so we’ll be looking there.”

Kendricks might not provide the youth in his late 20’s but he certainly provides proper competition and relief to Wagner and Wright. Imagine being able to play all three, or switch them around. Finally a legitimate solution to try and preserve the two star linebackers. And look at the difference between the Chicago game and all the other times Wagner and Wright were absent. Kendricks filled the void emphatically.

He’s the player they’ve needed since the end of that 2016 campaign. If Wright leaves in the off-season and doesn’t sign a new contract, Kendricks could also act as a replacement (although personally I’d like to see Wright return and this be a position of strength).

Again, much will depend on his availability. And admittedly that is a huge question mark. I hope for his sake a longer contract in Seattle is a possibility in the next six months.

With Flowers and Kendricks adding to the likes of McDougald, Clark, Wagner, Wright, Reed and others to emerge in the last year or so, there’s a clear path to the future emerging. And it’s time for Carroll to receive some praise. We’ve all been critical after a difficult start to the season. Yet look at the way McDougald in particular is playing, or the development of Griffin and Flowers. Positive signs are emerging. They need to keep the momentum going against Arizona.

The Seahawks might not be big contenders in 2018. They still, to me, look like a seven, eight or nine win team this year. But they could be an off-season away from being right back in the mix.

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New podcast: Cowboys win and a ‘heated’ debate

September 25th, 2018 | Written by Rob Staton

Kenny and I did a podcast to reflect on the Dallas win and the direction of the team after three weeks. Then, we got into quite the heated debate about whether the Vikings are better than the Seahawks (I believe they clearly are, Kenny disagreed, chaos ensued). Check out the piece below…


Instant reaction: Seahawks run to win

September 23rd, 2018 | Written by Rob Staton

There are two key takeaways from this game:

1. Running the ball still matters

A lot of people want to tell you otherwise. They’re wrong. There isn’t a statistic you can slap an acronym on to portray what the Seahawks did today. They controlled the game and physically wore down the Dallas defense. Committing to the run is a viable way to structure your offense. Sometimes it won’t work. When it doesn’t, those committed to trying to argue ad nauseam that it isn’t important any more will rush to their twitter accounts. But this is all that matters — there are multiple ways to win, multiple ways to lose and execution and talent are the deciding factors. Not ‘ideology’.

2. It’s far too early to write off Pete Carroll

After an 0-2 start and some bizarre moments (Earl Thomas, Chris Carson being ‘gassed) — it’s understandable why some people were wondering if the end of an era was forthcoming. Not so fast. Carroll has had to patch together a new defense. Look at the results. They’re playing their arses off. They’re turning the ball over. Bradley McDougald looks like a star. The unheralded D-line is making plays. They’re getting performances out of rookie Tre Flowers and linebackers brought in off the street. It’s not the LOB. It’s a Pete Carroll defense. And that’s worth hanging on to.

It’s only one win and there’s still a lot of work to do. Russell Wilson was much improved but still seems somewhat restricted at times. Is this deliberate? Can they be even better by loosening the strings? They also miss Doug Baldwin and other teams won’t be as generous as this average Dallas group.

This was still a crucial victory rich in positives. The energy was back. Frank Clark looks thoroughly deserving of a second contract. Mychal Kendricks needs to stay in Seattle as long as possible. McDougald as noted looks fantastic. Jarran Reed had two sacks. The offensive line is playing very well. Chris Carson had Seattle’s first 100 yard rushing game for 23 games. They were better on third downs. Earl Thomas, for all the drama, made two tricky interceptions. Tyler Lockett is scoring a touchdown per game at the moment. It took three weeks but they finally stayed true to their chosen identity on offense.

This was a big one. Fall to 0-3 and the knives were going to be sharpened. Big questions would be asked. It’s funny how one game can change the mood. For the first time this year, this looked like a group with some potential.

Now the Seahawks can legitimately target a 2-2 start at Arizona next week. They could be facing Josh Rosen too — he came in for Sam Bradford in a desperation act to avoid 0-3. It didn’t work.

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Seahawks set to fine Earl Thomas

September 23rd, 2018 | Written by Rob Staton

So there we have it. It appears, after all, Earl Thomas pulled himself out of practise twice this week. No ‘veteran rest days’. And no suggestion in this report of a personal issue he was dealing with (unless you count his wallet being insufficiently stuffed).

It seems it was a powerplay all along.

The saga painfully continues.

Here’s the issue. If the Seahawks trade Thomas after stunts like this, it opens the door for others to do the same. After all, it would’ve worked for Thomas. He got what he wanted. Yet what is the alternative? Deal with an ongoing distraction and get nothing for Thomas in the off-season? Put pride and making a point ahead of vital draft stock?

They have no easy win here. Unless someone comes up with a fantastic trade offer — which seems unlikely given teams will be fully aware of the difficult situation facing Seattle.

The link to the Chiefs feels like a plant. It reads like the Seahawks trying to create a market that has seemingly only ever involved one team — Dallas.

One can only hope Seattle’s defiant or stubborn approach (pick which one you prefer) pays off. If they really did turn down a second round pick from the Cowboys, you wonder if they’ll regret that in the future.

The holdout was one thing. Pulling yourself out of practise and creating a distraction days before a vital game against Dallas is a totally different thing altogether. It’s not a good look. At all.

Nobody has stepped up to trade for Thomas and pay him. So he has to play the cards he’s been dealt. One more year in Seattle on a decent not exceptional contract.

He can do what he wants in that time. Hold out again. Not practise. Whatever. It won’t change anything. Not this late in the day. I suspect few will remain sympathetic to his cause after this latest move, however. And why should they?

This isn’t about supporting ‘the man’ against Earl Thomas. We all respect Thomas’ desire to get a long term contract. It’s understandable. But sometimes in life you don’t get what you want. And most people can’t fall back on their millions and the security of more millions to come when they’re unhappy at work.