Month: December 2019 (Page 1 of 2)

Podcast: An interview with Jim Nagy

This week I had the pleasure of joining Brandan Schulze to interview Jim Nagy, the Executive Director of the Senior Bowl and former Seahawks scout.

We talked about the loss to San Francisco, the Seahawks organisation, the Senior Bowl and some of the draft prospects involved. You can hear our conversation with Jim below and I’d highly recommend checking it out.

Also, it’s exactly 11 years to the day that I started writing Seahawks Draft Blog. So underneath the podcast embed I’ve added a mock and some thoughts on the draft with a number of interesting reports surfacing in the last 24 hours.

Draft notes & a new mock draft

Dylan Moses has announced he’s returning to Alabama next season. He was projected to be a top-10 pick before suffering an ACL injury in pre-season.

Recently Tony Pauline reported that Nick Saban was pushing for several Alabama prospects to return in 2020 as most hadn’t received high grades from the draft committee:

“Nick Saban is really pushing hard and re-recruiting these guys to come back for another year with the Crimson Tide… This shouldn’t be a surprise but part of the reason is this… I’m told the information getting back to these Alabama players – Jerry Jeudy aside and Tua Tagovalioa depending on his injury status – most of these Alabama underclassmen are not being graded as highly as a lot of people think.”

Yesterday Saban revealed that only Tagovalioa had received a top-15 grade from the committee. It’s not unusual for players to receive conservative grades. Saban is also known for encouraging his players to turn pro if they’re expected to be high picks.

Moses opting to return to college despite his injury could be the start of a series of similar announcements. For example, it’s fair to assume that Tagovalioa is hearing some concern from teams about his hip injury. Clearly he will be highly valued as a prospect. The injury, however, creates an unknown. And it’s unlikely he’ll receive any ‘off the record’ assurances behind the scenes that he’ll go as high as he hoped pre-injury.

If he decides to return to Alabama it’ll be a gamble. He’s had injuries in his career and any more will only create further doubt. He’d also be entering a 2021 draft that is likely to include Trevor Lawrence.

But we’ve seen players make pacts together in the past. Remember when Christian Wilkins, Dexter Lawrence and Clelin Ferrell all committed to return to Clemson to win a National Championship? It worked out for them. They all went in the top-20 and Clemson won their title.

Could something similar happen at Alabama? Could we see Moses, Tagovalioa, the receivers (Henry Ruggs, DeVonta Smith) and the two offensive tackles (Alex Leatherwood, Jedrick Wills) all return in 2020? What about Trevon Diggs? That would work alongside Pauline’s report. I suspect Jeudy will still turn pro.

Here’s another dynamic to consider. Miami today brought Chan Gailey out of retirement to be their new offensive coordinator. Gailey has a strong history with Ryan Fitzpatrick, stretching back to when both were in Buffalo.

It’s likely only a short term arrangement. Are the Dolphins seeing the writing on the wall with this draft class and positioning themselves to spend another year with Fitzpatrick as the starter, before using the 2021 draft to fill their QB need? Remember, they have two 2021 first round picks thanks to the Laremy Tunsil trade. Tagovalioa or Lawrence in 2021 could be more appealing than settling for Justin Herbert or Jordan Love this year.

This move could be indicative that the feeling is Tagovalioa will return to Alabama and that Miami is best served building other areas of their roster with their collection of high picks in 2020.

If this proves true, it’ll dramatically change the look of mock drafts. The first round was set to be dominated by Alabama prospects.

We’ve already seen a number of players opt not to declare. Marvin Wilson (DT, Florida State) and Walker Little (T, Stanford) will join Dylan Moses and not turn pro. Tony Pauline has reported that Tristan Wirfs and A.J. Epenesa were leaning towards returning to Iowa.

I’ve put together a mock draft based on the kind of impact the above could have on the first round…

#1 Cincinnati — Joe Burrow (QB, LSU)
#2 Washington — Chase Young (EDGE, Ohio State)
#3 Detroit — Jeff Okudah (CB, Ohio State)
#4 New York Giants — Jerry Jeudy (WR, Alabama)
#5 Miami — Andrew Thomas (T, Georgia)
#6 LA Chargers — Derrick Brown (DT, Alabama)
#7 Carolina — Grant Delpit (S, LSU)
#8 Arizona — Isaiah Wilson (T, Georgia)
#9 Jacksonville — Isaiah Simmons (S, Clemson)
#10 Cleveland — Javon Kinlaw (DT, South Carolina)
#11 New York Jets — Trevon Diggs (CB, Alabama)
#12 Oakland — Shaun Wade (CB, Ohio State)
#13 Indianapolis — CeeDee Lamb (WR, Oklahoma)
#14 Tampa Bay — Kristian Fulton (CB, LSU)
#15 Denver — Jalen Reagor (WR, TCU)
#16 Atlanta — D’Andre Swift (RB, Georgia)
#17 Dallas — Raekwon Davis (DT, Alabama)
#18 Miami (v/PIT) — Kenneth Murray (LB, Oklahoma)
#19 Oakland — Jordan Love (QB, Utah State)
#20 Jacksonville (v/LAR) — Cesar Ruiz (C, Michigan)
#21 Philadelphia — KJ Hamler (WR, Penn State)
#22 Tennessee — Prince Tega Wanogho (T, Auburn)
#23 Buffalo — Laviska Shenault (WR, Colorado)
#24 Minnesota — Justin Jefferson (WR, LSU)
#25 Miami (v/HOU) — Curtis Weaver (DE, Boise State)
#26 Seattle — Brandon Aiyuk (WR, Arizona State)
#27 New England — Hunter Bryant (TE, Washington)
#28 Green Bay — Tee Higgins (WR, Clemson)
#29 Kansas City — J.K. Dobbins (RB, Ohio State)
#30 New York Jets (v/NO) — Tyler Biadasz (C, Wisconsin)
#31 LA Chargers (v/SF) — Justin Herbert (QB, Oregon)
#32 Indianapolis (v/BAL) — Jacob Eason (QB, Washington)

Players not included (returning to CFB or projected to return)

Henry Ruggs (WR, Alabama)
DeVonta Smith (WR, Alabama)
Alex Leatherwood (T, Alabama)
Jedrick Wills (T, Alabama)
Tua Tagovailoa (QB, Alabama)
Dylan Moses (LB, Alabama)
Tristen Wirfs (T, Iowa)
A.J. Epenesa (T, Iowa)

The trades explained

New York Jets trade #48 to New Orleans for #30
The Jets need to improve their O-line in a big way. In this mock draft they make a big move into the back-end of the first round to get Wisconsin center Tyler Biadasz.

LA Chargers trade #37 to San Francisco for #31
Whether the Chargers move on from Philip Rivers and trade for someone like Cam Newton, or keep Rivers for another year, they need to draft someone in this class. Here I have them moving back into the late first round for Justin Herbert.

Indianapolis trades #34 to Baltimore for #32
The Colts need to keep their options open at quarterback after a so-so season from Jacoby Brissett. I’m not sold on Eason because he struggles to play off script and improvise — such an important aspect of the modern NFL. However, he has incredible arm talent and it’s possible someone will take the time to try and harness his potential. They move up here merely to secure the fifth year option.

The Seahawks pick explained

Improving the pass rush will be the #1 priority in the upcoming off-season. However, this is not a great class for pass rushers. There’s a distinct lack of twitchy, sudden LEO types with the length and burst Seattle badly needs.

It feels like a problem they’re going to have to solve in free agency or via the trade market. It’s pretty clear the Seahawks will be very aggressive to solve this glaring need. It’s unlikely it’ll be unresolved going into the draft. Therefore, they’ll have an opportunity to focus on other needs in rounds one and two.

Assuming in this scenario the Seahawks have already reshaped their defensive line, they decide to add another weapon for Russell Wilson. In this projection they take Arizona State’s Brandon Aiyuk. He’s a terrific prospect with great speed and suddenness to create downfield separation and detach from coverage working across the middle. He has genuine star potential and could be a big riser as the process continues — especially if some of the other big names receivers don’t enter the draft.

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10 questions on the Seahawks present and future

A quick heads up — today Brandan Schulze and I interviewed Jim Nagy. It was great to chat with Jim about the Seahawks, the draft and the upcoming Senior Bowl. The podcast will be available tomorrow.

With the regular season complete we can now reflect on where this team is compared to a year ago and raise some questions for the future (even if things remain somewhat open due to the possibility of a playoff run).

1. What’s going on at Century Link Field? They were 4-4 at home this season and they’re 14-10 at home since 2017. In that same period they’re 16-8 on the road. For years the Seahawks were able to rely on their fortress for an advantage. How do they get that back? It’s surreal that if they win against Philadelphia next week, they’ll have won twice as many road games vs home games in 2019.

2. How much have they actually improved this year? They won one more regular season game. The offense remained similarly potent. Yet they went into the 2019 off-season needing to upgrade the pass rush and improve the run defense. Rather than improve, both areas regressed. Suggesting they haven’t shown any progress sounds unfair and negative — yet it’s difficult to identify clear aspects that have taken a big step forward in 2019. It’s been more of a general continuation and they’re still waiting for that big, game-changing off-season to push them back into the top echelon.

3. How do they fix the D-line? The pass rush needs to be better. They need more speed. They also need to finally get back on track defending the run after two difficult years. Too often this season they haven’t won the battles up front. When they have (eg San Francisco, Philadelphia on the road) they’ve looked like a totally different team. This will be a huge challenge in the off-season. Firstly, they need to make a call on Jadeveon Clowney and Jarran Reed. They can ill-afford to launch into a D-line rebuild by losing one or both of their best starters. Replacements on the open market will be costly and this isn’t a good D-line draft class. Yet both players could, realistically, reach free agency. And it could create a dilemma where the Seahawks are forced to focus on retaining their own when ideally they’d be concentrating on ways to improve the D-line, not simply maintain the status quo.

4. How do they take the next step as a team? Russell Wilson has played at a high level and will presumably continue to do so. People will forever talk about the O-line but the last two years have been a vast improvement based on the 2015-17 level of performance. This is mainly down to the D-line. If the Seahawks are going to impose themselves on opponents with greater regularity, if they’re going to impact games and become a strong home team again — they need better run-defense and they can’t have players leading the team with four sacks. In Clowney they’ve found the dynamic five-technique they’ve seemingly been seeking for years. Now they need speed to threaten teams off the edge and quickness in the interior to collapse pockets. It’s such a striking need that they might need to create even more cap space to properly do this justice. They need multiple additions. Rest assured though — this will be addressed aggressively as a priority.

5. How can they seriously proceed without Jadeveon Clowney? A year ago they let Frank Clark go because they could get a first and second round pick in return. This year they’d receive nothing for Clowney as they’ve already agreed not to franchise him. Because they’d need to replace him, it’s unlikely they’d qualify for a comp pick. The D-line is bad enough without losing their best performer. Granted, he’s not a 10/15-sack monster who brings the speed and quickness to wreck games at an Aaron Donald, Khalil Mack or Chandler Jones level. Yet we have seen him take over games, we’ve seen him play the run superbly and he’s received very little support this year — probably meaning he’s faced more double teams than he otherwise would. Keeping Clowney will be costly but what’s the alternative? Shirk paying him $20-22m a year and pay $15m a year to a much lesser player? Sometimes you have to be willing to take a punt on a contract. The Seahawks might need to be creative to protect against being lumbered with a bad deal years down the line. They can’t afford to start the off-season, however, by saying — ‘right, let’s rebuild the D-line… first priority, replace our best player’.

6. Which players are they going to add to help Russell Wilson? It’s clear he needs more weapons. Wilson has virtually no safety net. He has dynamic, explosive receivers in Tyler Lockett and D.K. Metcalf. He needs a reliable intermediate option for games like yesterday and last week when things don’t go according to plan. Look how San Francisco featured George Kittle early, creating a package of plays to get the ball in his hands isolated against good matchups. Kittle is the best tight end in the league currently so that’s an extreme example. Yet without Will Dissly, it’s often felt like Seattle’s safety valve has been missing. They need someone who can do what Tyler Higbee has been doing for LA recently. This could be a good time to target a tight end. Austin Hooper and Hunter Henry will be free agents but both could be re-signed to keep them off the market. There was talk of O.J. Howard potentially being available via trade this year. Evan Engram could be another player dangled as the Giants try and move forward. David Njoku is expected to depart Cleveland. There’s also Hunter Bryant in the draft. They’ve invested in a big way at tight end in the past — trading for Jimmy Graham and paying Zach Miller big money. It feels like they could be bold again this year. It’s an excellent receiver draft class and adding one more — especially with three early picks — would be wise. There could also be interesting veteran receiver’s available via trade.

7. How are they going to solve some of their contract dilemma’s this off-season? It’s not quite as serious as a year ago when they needed to extend Russell Wilson’s deal, Bobby Wagner’s deal and find a solution with Frank Clark. Yet they’ve got Clowney, Reed, Ifedi and Fant all approaching free agency. They also need to make a call on Shaquill Griffin and Chris Carson — both entering the final year of their contracts. They need to make a decision on Justin Britt due to his injury and the size of his contract. They need to make a decision on K.J. Wright. Just be aware that if any of these players depart they’ll need replacing — which is easier said than done.

8. Can their high picks in 2019 take a much needed step forward in 2020? L.J. Collier has been a non-factor. Marquise Blair has played in fits and starts but with Quandre Diggs and Bradley McDougald the established starters, what is his pathway to the lineup? Cody Barton has struggled quite badly when he’s been on the field. Even the usually positive Pete Carroll, when given a softball opportunity to discuss his performance against San Francisco, volunteered that there were plays where they expected him to perform better. On the positive front, Travis Homer and John Ursua are showing they warrant an expanded role in 2020 and both Ugo Amadi and Ben Burr-Kirven have played well on special teams. D.K. Metcalf has been highly impressive, even if he has areas to work on (catching, body control and positional leverage, high-pointing, using his size better). But do you trust Barton to start in 2020 based on what we’ve seen so far? What about Collier?

9. What do they do at running back next year? Chris Carson will always be an injury risk of sorts. Rashaad Penny is coming back from an ACL tear. Travis Homer looks like a very good #3 or #4 runner. They’ll need to add one more at some point in the off-season but who? Mike Davis returning could be ideal if he becomes available. They could draft another back — although probably only on day three. Whether you agree or not, Carroll has always liked a stable of talented backs. Make no mistake though — they love Carson. They will feature and highlight him as a star on this team. There’s a good chance he will be offered a good second contract. Making sure you have depth at the position, however, has shown to be quite important over the last month.

10. Will there be a review on what’s happened with the injuries this year? It could be purely bad luck. It happens sometimes. Yet two weeks ago the Seahawks were two home wins away from the #1 seed in the NFC. Now they’re on a two-game losing streak and they’re the #5 seed — mainly due to the injuries hammering this team. Last night they lost Mychal Kendricks to a torn ACL to make the situation even worse. They’ve had multiple starters suffering serious injuries. Why has this happened and how do they prevent it happening again, if possible?

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Instant reaction: Injury-hit Seahawks come within an inch

The Seahawks and their staff deserve immense credit.

To put together a patched up team, trail 13-0 at half time in a game that felt more like 30-0 — and take it to a final possession at the very end of the fourth quarter is testament to everything that is right about this franchise.

The Seahawks had no right to make this a close game with their obscene injury list. Seattle’s offense kept scoring to give them a shot. They kept finding answers despite missing so many players. That kept them in it to the end.

If they had one, final answer at the end — it would’ve been another epic, unbelievable night. They were an inch short. So close, so cruel really. The fine margin between victory and defeat has consistently gone in Seattle’s favour this year, just not on this occasion.

Instead it’s a loss. They’ll go to Philadelphia next week while the Niners earn the #1 seed.

But if you can’t take some pride in the way the Seahawks battled and scrapped and made it a game despite everything working against them — your expectations are highly unrealistic.

The game also highlighted, again, Seattle’s greatest weakness moving forward. The defense has struggled all year to create pressure and impact games. If they’re going to take the next step in 2020 they cannot field a D-line as inadequate as this again. Even a modicum of pressure or resistance could’ve been the difference today. It was simply too easy for the 49ers.

It’s not the only issue but it’s the biggest issue. And there has to be some reflection on why they were 4-4 at home in 2019, why they’re 14-10 at home since 2017 and why, despite being so consistent in the last decade, they’ve only won the NFC West three times in Russell Wilson’s eight years with the team.

Back to Philadelphia they go. The hope has to be that the second half, at least, has provided some clarity on how they can score some points with this personnel.

Can they beat the Eagles? Yes. They already have and did it without Clowney and some others. However only the most optimistic fan will anticipate three road wins to make an improbable Super Bowl. And that’s fine. This always felt like a year too early, two years removed from a major restructure.

You also don’t want to be perennially a year away either. They must take the steps this off-season to deliver the leap they need to take — starting with a much improved D-line.

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A Christmas message to Seahawks fans and a mock draft

Marshawn Lynch is back in Seattle

The Marshawn Lynch signing has raised spirits, created excitement and helped everyone move on from the Arizona debacle.

It also highlights, once again, how privileged we are to follow a team that cares about its fan base.

Nothing is dull. Everything is about doing the utmost to win. They want to energise the fans. It doesn’t always pay off but no stone is ever left unturned.

While other teams have suffered the peaks and troughs of a cyclical league — the Seahawks have remained near or at the top of the NFC for a decade. Sunday’s opponents, San Francisco, have book-ended two periods of contending with a series of listless season’s, dwelling in the cellar of misery.

Teams that have won title’s — Baltimore, Green Bay, the New York Giants, the Philadelphia Eagles — they’ve all suffered as much as they’ve succeeded in the last 10 years. Only the New England Patriots can boast a greater period of sustained success than the Pete Carroll Seahawks.

So when did a section of Seahawks fans become such an entitled bunch?

The anti-Carroll brigade, mainly based online, is embarrassing. It also shows a distinct lack of understanding that Carroll’s culture, approach and vision is at the absolute core of Seattle’s decade of success.

Football isn’t just about the four quarters on a Sunday. It’s about organisational structure and the way you handle people. Carroll has been an absolute master in harnessing the kind of environment so many teams lack.

A lot of franchise’s are a shambles behind the scenes. Imagine being a Bengals fan or a Dolphins fan or a Redskins fan or a Browns fan. When have they ever been able to dream?

Removing the structure and foundation of Seattle’s organisation to hand-pick one of Sean McVay’s disciples to make Wilson throw more might entice the narrow-minded folk who increasingly see football through the prism of a specific belief system. People with greater perspective will see how important Carroll’s culture and program is to this team and the consistent success it has enjoyed during an era when every single other NFC team has failed to match their consistency.

And if you needed any further evidence of the power of Carroll’s creation — just look at Marshawn Lynch’s return. The chance to come back, one more time, to play for this team, this city and this organisation. It was powerfully convincing to Lynch.

Some people act like it’s been a giant waste of Russell Wilson’s career to date that he’s ‘only’ had a winning season every year, been to two Super Bowl’s and won one Championship.

If you think one Super Bowl ‘isn’t good enough’ — go tell that to Sean Payton or Drew Brees or Aaron Rodgers or even Peyton Manning (bailed out with a second thanks to Denver’s sensational defense). Wilson is a superstar but there’s no divine right to win multiple Championship’s. Ask Dan Marino about the value of one.

Whatever happens on Sunday and in the playoffs — I’ll forever be grateful for this era of Seahawks football. It’s been a pleasure to follow this cast of characters and to know that whatever the circumstances — this team will do everything they can to win for us.

It might not always be designed the way YOU want. So what? If you can’t take pleasure from being a fan of this team, why even bother with football? Or maybe you’ve developed such a striking ego and sense of self-importance, driven by a clique on social media who once would’ve scoffed at the out-there takes of a Skip Bayless or Merril Hoge, acting as if you’ve got an answer to every question.

Here’s my Christmas message to anyone bothering to read this…

Enjoy Christmas.

Enjoy the return of a legend.

Enjoy being a Seahawks fan.

Now here’s a MF mock draft.

#1 Cincinnati — Joe Burrow (QB, LSU)
#2 Washington — Chase Young (EDGE, Ohio State)
#3 Detroit — Andrew Thomas (T, Georgia)
#4 New York Giants — Jerry Jeudy (WR, Alabama)
#5 Miami — Tua Tagovailoa (QB, Alabama)
#6 Jacksonville — Jeff Okudah (CB, Ohio State)
#7 LA Chargers — Justin Herbert (QB, Oregon)
#8 Carolina — Grant Delpit (S, LSU)
#9 Arizona — Derrick Brown (DT, Alabama)
#10 New York Jets — Trevon Diggs (CB, Alabama)
#11 Denver — Isaiah Simmons (S, Clemson)
#12 Cleveland — Isaiah Wilson (T, Georgia)
#13 Atlanta — Javon Kinlaw (DT, South Carolina)
#14 Oakland — Jalen Reagor (WR, TCU)
#15 Dallas — CeeDee Lamb (WR, Oklahoma)
#16 Indianapolis — Raekwon Davis (DT, Alabama)
#17 Tampa Bay — Kristian Fulton (CB, LSU)
#18 Oakland (v/CHI) — Shaun Wade (CB, Ohio State)
#19 Miami (v/PIT) — Prince Tega Wanogho (T, Auburn)
#20 Jacksonville (v/LAR) — Cesar Ruiz (C, Michigan)
#21 Philadelphia — Henry Ruggs (WR, Alabama)
#22 Tennessee — Dylan Moses (LB, Alabama)
#23 Buffalo — DeVonta Smith (WR, Alabama)
#24 Minnesota — Laviska Shenault (WR, Colorado)
#25 Miami (v/HOU) — Kenneth Murray (LB, Oklahoma)
#26 Kansas City — D’Andre Swift (RB, Georgia)
#27 Seattle — KJ Hamler (WR, Penn State)
#28 Washington (v/GB) — Alex Leatherwood (T, Alabama)
#29 New England — Austin Jackson (T, USC)
#30 New Orleans — Jordan Love (QB, Utah State)
#31 San Francisco — Tyler Biadasz (C, Wisconsin)
#32 Baltimore — J.K. Dobbins (RB, Ohio State)

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Will Beast Mode return to the Seahawks?

So there you go. Marshawn Lynch and the Seahawks are open to a reunion and Pete Carroll says the intention is to strike a deal.

The beast could be back.

And why the heck not?

No street free agent running back is going to rescue the team from this injury crisis. The fan base has been crushed by the Cardinals hammering. Hope and excitement for this season has evaporated.

If nothing else, Lynch will reinvigorate the city. Whether it’d be misplaced optimism or blind faith — Lynch would have people believing again.

Everyone needs a lift. The team, the fans, the players. Lynch brings it.

Hope is important sometimes. The San Francisco game already feels like a lot cause to a lot of people. A week of moping, doubting, fearing. That isn’t going to do anyone any good. The return of a legend changes the whole dynamic of the days leading into the de facto NFC West Championship game.

Of course he can’t rush the passer, protect the blind side or cover George Kittle. Signing Lynch isn’t going to tilt the game in Seattle’s favor. Let’s be realistic here.

But it kind of feels like if they’re going to lose fielding a street free agent running back, it might as well be a returning Seattle legend.

Marshawn might be 33. He might be semi-retired. He might be a pain in the arse behind the scenes. But he’s our pain in the arse. And there’s room for him to be a pain in the arse to the Niners one last time this weekend.

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Instant reaction: Injury-hit Seahawks lose to Cardinals

My last two articles were about injuries and suspensions for a reason.

The Seahawks are decimated and things are getting worse.

Instead of going into next week’s NFC West decider against San Francisco with their chest’s puffed out, ready to go and try to secure the #1 seed in the NFC — the Seahawks look like a battered mess.

Here are the players who were absent today or picked up injuries during the game:

LG (Iupati returned in the second half)

Very few teams can withstand this number of injuries.

This was still a humbling afternoon.

They were beaten, handily, in all four facet’s of the game — offense, defense and coaching. They suffered a third home spanking of the season.

If they lose to the Niners next week, they’ll finish 4-4 at home and they’ll be 14-10 at home over the last three seasons.

This result in isolation doesn’t mean anything in the race for the NFC West Championship. Win next week and the Seahawks will at the very least be the #3 seed. It also seems clear that certain players were rested with next week in mind.

That said, this performance was so utterly abject that it has sucked the life out of the build-up to next week’s game. It destroyed the realistic hope of securing home-field advantage in the playoffs. It also exposed some serious weaknesses within this team if key players can’t return.

The idea of this group — minus Quandre Diggs, Jadeveon Clowney, Shaquill Griffin, Duane Brown and Chris Brown — going toe-to-toe with the 49ers is fanciful. Brown and Carson have already been ruled out for the Niners game and beyond. The season is teetering on the edge.

The Seahawks were absolutely whipped on both sides of the line of scrimmage. Both the O-line and the D-line were terrible. The complete inability of both lines shut down any opportunity to do anything on offense or defense. They weren’t competitive.

It took the Cardinals a bit of time but by the second quarter they’d sussed out Seattle’s run game. They moved Russell Wilson out of his comfort zone and on a day when he had to do his one-man-show act, he was at his most jittery and antsy.

The Seahawks couldn’t do anything on offense. Once the scripted first drive was in the books, it was painful to watch. They couldn’t run, they couldn’t pass. A one-yard gain was hard earned. The Cardinals flew around and hit. They were faster, stronger, more physical and imposed their will. They were better in every aspect.

After Seattle’s initial scoring drive, here’s what followed until their next points:

Punt in Arizona territory
End of the first half
Fumble by David Moore
Three-and-out, field goal (after the blocked field goal)

They gained one first down in nine drives.

Their first two drives in the first quarter totalled 135 yards. They finished with 224.

The Seahawks simply had no answers to problems and the questions posed to the opponent were often the wrong ones. There was no counter, no adequate adjustment. Arizona lost their starting quarterback and still outscored Seattle.

It’s a brutal reality that Brett Hundley moved the ball far better than the Seahawks. Kyler Murray’s hamstring injury creaked open a window of opportunity for an undeserved comeback. Yet the offense simply wasn’t capable, in any way whatsoever, of creating anything. No time. No explosive plays. Everything underneath, short, or Wilson under pressure or feeling phantom pressure.

On defense the usual problems were prevalent. The pass rush simply isn’t good enough. That’s a kind review. The D-line looked inept without Clowney and Al Woods.

The defense gave up big plays and they gave up the frustrating conversions to extend drives. Nobody — nobody — could make a play to swing back any kind of control. That was especially the case at 20-13 and needing to get the ball back to mount a comeback. Hundley simply marched downfield and scored an easy touchdown.

Compare that to the inspired play of Budda Baker, relishing his return to Washington, partnered with a dominant and disciplined D-line. Chandler Jones had four sacks and was sprinting downfield to force a fumble at the start of the second half. Baker and Jones set the kind of tone Clowney and Diggs have been setting for the Seahawks. Without them, they looked hopeless.

They beat San Francisco in Santa Clara by creating consistent pressure and making plays at the second level. I’m nervous about next week. I fear that this defense won’t be able to do anything. We might see a repeat of the Rams loss two weeks ago — but worse. If they can’t pressure Jimmy Garoppolo, good look watching a banged-up secondary defend George Kittle and Emmanuel Sanders.

With no Brown and no Carson — how are they going to be able to function on offense?

It could get into 2017 Rams at home territory.

This is a team hanging by a thread due to the injuries. It’s incredibly unfortunate and the resilience they’ve shown this season warrants greater fortune than this.

There’s a fairly stark reality here though. They’re just too injured. That, more so than this embarrassment, is the great festive season damper here. A year of close wins, promise and finding a way is threatening to end with a whimper.

Merry Christmas 😐

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Duane Brown OUT vs the Cardinals

It’s quite incredible what’s happening at this late stage in the season. The Seahawks are dropping like flies. At this point, any kind of win against the 4-9-1 Cardinals will be an achievement.

And if key players aren’t able to return next week against the Niners — a bye week and playoff success will be mightily difficult.

For more on the injury/suspension crisis, read yesterday’s post.

Al Woods suspended for four games

If the Seahawks do end up with the #1 seed in the NFC, they’ll have earned it.

The hits keep on coming this week. First they lost Josh Gordon. Now Al Woods. Add that to the ever growing list of injured players.

Jadeveon Clowney, Bobby Wagner, Mychal Kendricks, Quandre Diggs, Shaquill Griffin, Ziggy Ansah. All possibly unavailable this weekend and perhaps beyond.

Then note that Duane Brown has played through the pain all year, that they’ve been without their top two TE’s for most of the season, they just lost Rashaad Penny to an ACL tear and started the season with Jarran Reed serving a six-game suspension.

This team has no place being in contention for the #1 seed. Yet here they are — two home wins from matching a regular season franchise record for wins and probably home-field advantage.

It’s possible these latest blows will be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. We saw at the end of the Carolina game how decimated they were on defense. Stopping the Niners in Santa Clara took a gladiatorial performance from the defense. Repeating the act minus multiple starters will be incredibly difficult and could be the prelude to a disappointingly frustrating defeat similar to the one in LA against the Rams.

For the Seahawks to finish things off and claim that important playoff bye week, they will need the offense to be at its best. They might have to outscore Arizona and San Francisco. It’s not easy but possible. Russell Wilson probably won’t pinch the MVP away from Lamar Jackson but here’s his opportunity to remind people that he deserves to remain at least in the conversation. They need Chris Carson at his best. The O-line at its best. The targets at their best.

The next two games present a rare opportunity to go for the #1 seed. Hopefully injuries and absentees will not rob the Seahawks of an opportunity to give it their best shot.

Time to dust-off the ‘we all we got, we all we need‘ chant.

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2020 mock draft #5: Seahawks trade out of round one

Hunter Bryant could be an option for the Seahawks

Time for an updated projection.

#1 Cincinnati — Joe Burrow (QB, LSU)
Accurate, creative, improvisational and the best player in college football.

#2 New York Giants — Chase Young (EDGE, Ohio State)
In 11 games he recorded 16.5 sacks and 21 TFL’s.

#3 Miami — Andrew Thomas (T, Georgia)
Supremely balanced and consistent, his footwork is superb and he anchors brilliantly.

#4 Washington — Jeff Okudah (CB, Ohio State)
He will destroy the combine and was a 142.56 athlete at SPARQ.

#5 Detroit — Derrick Brown (DT, Auburn)
A tone-setting defensive lineman with stoutness and quickness.

#6 Philadelphia (v/ARI) — Jerry Jeudy (WR, Alabama)
Philadelphia trades up from #16
The Eagles make a big move for a much needed playmaker.

#7 Carolina (v/NYJ) — Grant Delpit (S, LSU)
Carolina trades up from #11
The Panthers stick with Cam Newton and trade up for a stud safety.

#8 Jacksonville — Isaiah Simmons (S, Clemson)
Reportedly he can jump a 40-inch vertical, an 11-0 broad and run in the 4.4’s.

#9 LA Chargers — Isaiah Wilson (T, Georgia)
He’s highly underrated and for me the second best tackle eligible for 2020.

#10 Denver — Javon Kinlaw (DT, South Carolina)
He’s +300lbs but carries minimal body fat. He dominated Alabama’s O-line a few weeks ago.

#11 NY Jets (v/CAR) — Trevon Diggs (CB, Alabama)
New York trades down from #7
Competitive cornerback who does an excellent job tracking the ball and breaking up passes. Stefon Diggs’ brother.

#12 Miami (v/ATL) — Tua Tagovailoa (QB, Alabama)
Miami trades up from #22
The Dolphins move up and roll the dice on Tua’s health.

#13 Oakland — Jalen Reagor (WR, TCU)
Reagor reportedly runs a 4.29. He also jumped a 38.5 inch vertical and can squat 620lbs.

#14 Cleveland — Prince Tega Wanogho (T, Auburn)
Huge, physical and athletic but destined to play right tackle in the NFL.

#15 Indianapolis — Raekwon Davis (DT, Alabama)
He can anchor the interior of a defensive line for years to come.

#16 Arizona (v/PHI) — CeeDee Lamb (WR, Oklahoma)
Arizona trades down from #6
Kyler Murray is reunited with a favourite target.

#17 Tampa Bay — Kristian Fulton (CB, LSU)
A physical cornerback who tracks the ball almost as well as Trevon Diggs.

#18 Oakland (v/CHI) — Shaun Wade (CB, Ohio State)
Traded to Oakland in the Khalil Mack deal
A former 5-star recruit who’s playing exceptionally well.

#19 Buffalo (v/TEN) — Henry Ruggs (WR, Alabama)
Buffalo trades up from #25
The Bills trade up for a 4.2 runner to max out Josh Allen’s arm talent.

#20 Jacksonville (v/LAR) — Cesar Ruiz (C, Michigan)
Traded to Jacksonville in the Jalen Ramsey deal
The more Ruiz I watch the more I like.

#21 Dallas — Laviska Shenault (WR, Colorado)
Not at his best in 2019 but he’s a swiss-army knife who can score points as a runner, receiver or returner.

#22 Atlanta (v/MIA, PIT) — D’Andre Swift (RB, Georgia)
Atlanta trades down from #12
The Falcons trade down ten spots and go with value and talent.

#23 Miami (v/HOU) — Kenneth Murray (LB, Oklahoma)
Traded to Miami in the Laremy Tunsil deal
Having invested in the QB & LT positions, they now take a tone-setting LB.

#24 Minnesota — DeVonta Smith (WR, Alabama)
Extremely underrated and very dynamic.

#25 Tennessee (v/BUF) — Dylan Moses (LB, Alabama)
Tennessee trades down from #19
The Titans went for injury value with Jeffrey Simmons and they do the same here.

#26 Kansas City — Tyler Biadasz (C, Wisconsin)
He loses balance/control at times but he’s physical and solid.

#27 New Orleans — Jordan Love (QB, Utah State)
The Saints take the plunge on the talented but raw QB.

#28 San Francisco — KJ Hamler (WR, Penn State)
Hamler is so dynamic and could go much earlier than this.

#29 New England — Austin Jackson (T, USC)
The Pats are not afraid to take a chance on O-line upside.

#30 Washington (v/GB) — Alex Leatherwood (T, Alabama)
Green Bay trades #30 for Trent Williams
After trading Williams, the Redskins do what they always do and draft a player from Alabama.

#31 LA Chargers (v/SEA) — Justin Herbert (QB, Oregon)
LA trades up from #41
The Chargers move up to halt Justin Herbert’s fall.

#32 Baltimore — J.K. Dobbins (RB, Ohio State)
The Ravens keep adding weapons to their rushing attack.

The trades explained…

Philadelphia trades #16 to Arizona for #6
The Eagles need more weapons and have to try and replenish Carson Wentz’s confidence and form. They’re never afraid to make a bold move and here they trade into the top-10 to get Jerry Jeudy.

Carolina trades #11 to NY Jets for #7
The Panthers are going to rejig their entire front office and staff. This doesn’t feel like the off-season to ditch Cam Newton for a rookie. Instead they extend Cam’s deal with an option attached and trade up to get the incredibly talented Grant Delpit.

Miami trades #22 to Atlanta for #12
The Dolphins take their chance on Tua Tagovailoa. They move up to get ahead of Oakland and Indianapolis. With their first two picks they make an investment at quarterback and left tackle — which is plausible.

Buffalo trades #25 to Tennessee for #19
Josh Allen is unique, different and fun. He’s far from perfect but he has an X-factor. The Bills trade up here to get him a 4.2 runner in Henry Ruggs to make the most of his arm strength.

Green Bay trades #30 to Washington for Trent Williams
The Packers lack a physical edge and need more on offense after years of defensive-focussed drafts. It makes absolute sense to trade for Trent Williams.

LA Chargers trade #41 to Seattle for #31
The Chargers need to make an investment at quarterback but in this scenario they let the draft to come to them. With Justin Herbert falling they find a willing trade partner in Seattle to make a deal. Herbert has arm talent and improvisational skills but better quarterback’s have dropped to this range and he’s had a mixed 2019 season.

Seahawks take Hunter Bryant at #41

The Seahawks often trade down in round one so this scenario made some sense. With this being a weak class for pass rushers and the top receivers already off the board, this felt realistic.

I talked in more detail about Hunter Bryant here. Ultimately the Seahawks need to do something at tight end in the off-season. They’ve often looked for TE’s who perform well in the short-shuttle and three-cone. Bryant ran a 4.35 short-shuttle at the combine. Washington asks its tight end’s to block and although Bryant is best used as a move-TE, he’s no slouch as a blocker. He’s also a playmaker who has delivered several explosive plays in the passing game this year.

Assuming the Seahawks bolster their pass rush in free agency and provide clarity on the O-line with several players reaching free agency, adding a new target for Russell Wilson is the next priority.

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