Archive for June, 2018

Podcast: Discussing Frank Clark’s future in Seattle

Thursday, June 28th, 2018

In this new podcast, Kenny and I discuss the contract extension for Danielle Hunter in Minnesota and how it potentially impacts Frank Clark.

Five hopes for the 2018 season

Friday, June 22nd, 2018

Firstly, if you missed the recent podcast don’t forget to check it out:

1. The Seahawks fix the run

It’s popular these days to try and diminish the importance of the running game. Regular readers will know I’m not convinced by the statistical arguments that suggest the run is overrated. Clearly you can create a somewhat convincing case based on situational stats and recent league trends. I just happen to believe there are certain things you can’t measure. Including the complete importance of a truly threatening running game.

I think this Tweet sums it up:

The Seahawks sold out to stop the run in this game, focusing almost their entire attention on Leonard Fournette. They were willing to challenge Blake Bortles to beat them. And he took the opportunity in what was undoubtedly his cleanest game of the season (and possibly his career).

I suspect many teams were willing to risk Russell Wilson beating them in 2012-14. They knew stopping Marshawn Lynch was the key. And even when they succeeded, as was occasionally the case, the attention Lynch drew often made life so much easier for the quarterback.

It’s probably one of the reasons they were a lot more successful ‘getting by’ on the O-line. Paul McQuistan was their starting left tackle for eight games in 2013. You’d barely notice aside from that one game in St. Louis.

If you can force teams to dedicate their focus to stopping the run, undoubtedly there are benefits to be felt. It might be difficult to quantify this but should you really even need to? Does everything need a number these days?

There’s also the cultural benefits of being a tough, physical running team. Lynch clearly inspired the LOB. The two key sections of Seattle’s team worked off each other, sharing the same attitude and intensity. It’s no coincidence that Seattle has lost the fear factor they once had since the running game collapsed.

2. Less politics please (don’t judge)

I’m not the type of person to write the words ‘stick to sports’ in a Tweet. I’m also not the type of person who wants players, fans or media to bury their heads in the sand and ignore big issues that need to be discussed.

That said, I think there’s too much politics in everyday life at the moment. You can’t escape it. Nearly everything is politicised. I appreciate why. This is a politically charged time around the world. Social media has become a hotspot for political views.

However, sometimes it’s nice to not have to think about politics. That doesn’t mean you’re ignorant to the issues facing the world. It doesn’t mean you don’t care.

Increasingly it’s harder to separate the NFL from politics. Every press conference Pete Carroll faces is always a mix of social ills and football. Every game there seems to be some kind of political strand attached. A lot of articles in the NFL media talk about politics, not football.

I’m not blaming anyone for that. I just wish that, occasionally, the NFL could go back to being a fun release.

3. A satisfactory resolution to the Earl Thomas saga

Richard Sherman wasn’t supposed to get cut. Cliff Avril wasn’t supposed to retire this way. Michael Bennett wasn’t supposed to be traded for peanuts.

Who could’ve predicted any of that back in 2013?

It seems, sadly, that the Earl Thomas saga is going to end in a similarly unsatisfactory manner.

It’ll be difficult to witness a dramatic holdout stretching into the season. The negative vibe of the Kam Chancellor holdout hurt the team. Hopefully it doesn’t come to that with Earl.

Either way a parting appears inevitable. Possibly via free agency next year.

What constitutes a satisfactory outcome? A fair deal via trade or an extension of sorts. Just something that doesn’t have the fans wringing their hands for weeks on end. Either draw a line on the situation and allow people to move on, or come to a compromise. And for either scenario to come true, it can’t be the Seahawks conceding alone. Earl Thomas has to be willing to compromise too.

4. Fresh start

The 2017 season wasn’t much fun. The Seahawks were in contention in the win column but most people knew they weren’t a genuine challenger. The injuries mounted, the run game collapsed and the defense started to toil. It was a far cry from the unbeatable excitement witnessed from the 2012 season right through to the end of that Super Bowl.

The Seahawks may never be able to recapture that magic. It’s perhaps unrealistic to think it’s even vaguely possible. However, they still have the ultimate playmaker at quarterback. They’re trying to get the running game back. They have some new, young pieces on defense supported by some exceptional veterans.

If nothing else, it’d be pleasing to witness a fresh start. A new energy. A reason to believe again.

5. A pass rusher emerges

The Seahawks’ biggest question mark on the roster is the pass rush. They have some young pieces but not a lot of proven quality outside of Frank Clark. Dion Jordan showed flashed in 2017 but has to prove he can stay healthy. The rest have to show they belong.

It’s possible we’ll spend most of the 2018 college season looking at pass rushers. That’s not a problem, the 2019 draft promises to be loaded on the defensive line. However, it would be a huge bonus if Jordan, Rasheem Green, Barkevious Mingo, Marcus Smith, Jacob Martin, Shaquem Griffin or another name really stood out and showed they can be part of the long term future. Especially with Clark set to be a free agent at the end of the season.

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New podcast: Earl Thomas holdout

Friday, June 15th, 2018

Kenny and I discuss the Earl Thomas holdout and offer some thoughts on the Seahawks offense. Check it out below.

I also want to give a special mention to Brad Linn and the whole community here. Brad set up a donation fund in his own time to help repair my laptop (broken during the draft) and sent me the money this week. Thank you to everyone who donated and especially to Brad for setting it up. You guys are incredible.

Some much needed perspective

Wednesday, June 13th, 2018

It’s becoming increasingly trendy to roast the Seahawks these days.

I suppose it’s something to talk about. It is June after all.

Here’s the latest offering…

Forget how they built one of the greatest defenses in NFL history, found a franchise quarterback in round three and were a yard away from back-to-back Super Bowl Championships.

Ah, but now they’ve appointed an unpopular former GM as a consultant, so they’ve clearly lost their edge.

Let’s have a bit of perspective. I thought it was worth going back to 2012 to find out what people were saying about Ryan Grigson when he became the Colts GM.

Here’s a section of a piece by ESPN:

Grigson has been listed as a future front-office star after helping to build two Super Bowl teams including the championship-winning Rams in 1999, his first season in the front office.

In 2001, Grigson became an area scout for St. Louis. He joined the Eagles as a regional scout in 2003 and gradually moved up the ladder from regional scout, to director of college scouting and eventually to director of player personnel, the job he had held for the past two seasons.

“He has been a great adviser to me and somebody I have leaned on to bounce ideas off of many times over my career,” Eagles GM Howie Roseman said in a statement. “He leaves no stone left unturned in his efforts to find good players and we were lucky to have him here in Philadelphia.”

That’s Howie Roseman, the guy receiving widespread praise for building a Super Bowl winning Eagles roster in two years.

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Some thoughts on the Earl Thomas situation

Monday, June 11th, 2018

Earl Thomas wants to be paid at a time when the safety market is ice cold

There’s no obvious solution. Earl Thomas wants to be paid. The Seahawks are wary of handing out another big contract. They haven’t received any serious trade offers. And the safety market is ice cold.

While social media is currently awash with extreme views on both sides (he should be ashamed vs overly sympathetic), a conclusion isn’t forthcoming.

Why don’t they just pay him?

There’s certainly a case to be made for rewarding Earl Thomas and removing any future drama. Thomas continues to play at a high level and probably is the best safety in the league.

On the other hand, the Seahawks have been here before. Michael Bennett, Marshawn Lynch and Kam Chancellor were all playing at a high level too. It was a nice gesture to reward all three. But none of those extensions were shown to be wise investments and the Seahawks were left carrying a lot of dead money.

It’s taken a pro-active off-season to rectify the cap problem. You can forgive the Seahawks for not rushing head first into another third contract for a player.

In the next 8-12 months they have some big decisions to make. Do they pay Frank Clark? Duane Brown? Tyler Lockett? K.J. Wright? Do they make Russell Wilson the highest paid player in the league? This is a lot to consider. If they pay Thomas today, Clark is knocking on John Schneider’s door tomorrow. Others will too. And they’ll know the threat of absence has worked.

How does the safety market play into this?

Currently it’s an ice cold market. Thomas couldn’t have picked a worse time to try and become the highest paid safety in the league. Eric Reid isn’t the only unemployed safety. Kenny Vaccaro doesn’t have a contract either.

Thomas is clearly on a different level in terms of talent — but teams are not rushing to invest in safeties. Not at the moment.

We’ve seen this happen at other positions before. The running back market has dried up completely. We might be witnessing a similar occurrence at safety.

The fact nobody has made a big trade offer is perhaps indicative of the changing financial landscape. Why were Dallas the only team seemingly interested in trading for him? Why did they only offer a third round pick? Why didn’t another team offer more?

They knew it wasn’t just a draft pick at stake. It was a massive new contract too. One they were unwilling to pay.

If that’s the case, how is Thomas going to get paid?

It’s not abundantly clear if any team is actually prepared to match his demands. It’s possible nobody is.

If that’s the case, what motivation is there for the Seahawks to pay him more than $13m a year?

If Thomas feels disrespected by that thought, he need only remind himself that the Seahawks did make him the highest paid safety in the NFL when he signed his last contract. The Seahawks, on that occasion, recognised his talent and rewarded him.

Can they really be blamed now for not handing out another mega-deal when the safety position isn’t generating big money and teams aren’t rushing to acquire Thomas and pay him?

How else will the team be approaching this?

Presumably they anticipated Thomas’ decision. It’s not surprising. They’ve had plenty of time to prepare for this.

There will be one irksome factor. They’ve actively worked to avoid any distractions this year. They’ve undertaken a reset, a fresh start. The Thomas saga carries at least some potential to clash with this approach. Will it impact players close to Thomas? How will the handling of this situation impact future negotiations with the likes of Clark and Brown?

Will Thomas hold out during the regular season? Will he play under his existing contract? If so, are the Seahawks destined to watch him walk away in free agency? Will the potential use of the franchise tag create even more conflict?

There’s much to consider.

What was the plan then?

They at least appeared to entertain the possibility of dealing Thomas pre and during the draft. The 2018 third rounder, reportedly offered by Dallas, might seem more attractive the longer this drags on. Especially if the saga continues into the season and becomes an unwelcome distraction.

You can forgive the Seahawks for not wanting to give away such a fine player though. It’s easy to be sympathetic with their situation. They likely wanted a fair trade offer for a future Hall-of-Famer. They spent a second and third rounder on Duane Brown. He’s four years older than Thomas.

Can they trade him now?

If they try to they’ll be playing with a weak hand. Teams are aware they could lose him for nothing in 2019 (and as we discovered with Jimmy Graham, a compensatory pick isn’t assured). They run the risk of having the situation become a distraction. It’s unlikely anyone is going to pony up a big trade offer at this point.

If trading him is the preferred option now (and it might be) the best case might be to hope a team becomes more aggressive closer to the season. Seattle paid a second rounder for Sheldon Richardson right before the start of the 2017 season. If a team like Dallas sees Thomas as the man to push them over the top — they might bite. So far, they’ve resisted.

It’s also entirely possible teams will look at the poor value Seattle received from the Richardson trade and think, ‘we’re not making that mistake‘.

Is there no solution at all?

I can think of only one. A compromise. Thomas accepts he won’t top Eric Berry’s salary and it won’t be a long term deal. The Seahawks increase Thomas’ pay but do so for the 2018 and 2019 season with an option for 2020.

It’s hard to imagine Thomas agreeing to those terms. He wants long term security. But if teams aren’t willing to offer a 4-5 year contract at mega-money, is such a contract his best bet? And does it protect the Seahawks against a repeat of the Chancellor, Lynch and Bennett extensions?

Someone has to compromise. Whether it’s Thomas, the Seahawks or a team willing to make a trade. Personally, I think it’s unrealistic to think the only ones who should cede any leverage are the Seahawks.

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