Month: November 2020 (Page 1 of 3)

Instant reaction: Seahawks beat Eagles, move to 8-3

Approaching a four-game run against the NFC East and the lowly Jets — only two things mattered. Winning and staying as healthy as possible.

This was far from a memorable performance but it doesn’t matter. At this point, the victory is enough.

The two main highlights are clear.

The defense, after weeks of toil, have a formula now to force sacks. Carlos Dunlap has elevated the performance of the pass rush tremendously and you can see other players answering the call. So many people were active up front — the defensive tackles and Rasheem Green in particular.

The blitz is now a complement rather than a desperation policy to create ‘any’ pressure. The whole defense looks better as a consequence.

It’s reaching the minimal level they needed to find. There are still a few too many third down conversions and missed tackles. The Hail Mary at the end was mildly irritating and very ‘Seahawks’. There’s still a lot of work to do.

The unit wasn’t at all an embarrassment though, like it was earlier in the season.

That’s progress.

The opponent was rancid too. They are a three-win team after all. It shouldn’t get any trickier against Colt McCoy next week. Building momentum is important for this unit though. They need belief. They need to feel and experience success. They need to connect. We’ve seen some of that recently.

I also think as a consequence the two old war horses are looking so much better. Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright are looking superb again. That’s the beauty of a better D-line too.

The other great positive was D.K. Metcalf. The Seahawks fed him the ball and he flashed the kind of qualities — against a really good cornerback in Darius Slay — that legitimately place him among the NFL’s best.

His ability to get downfield at his size is remarkable. Yes — he will have some drops. The one in the end zone tonight was pretty frustrating. However, you can live with it on a 177-yard night. He now leads the NFL in receiving yards and it feels like there’s more to come.

Praise is long overdue in an instant reaction post for the kicker Jason Myers — who again nailed all of his kicks. He is having a terrific season, as is the entire special teams unit.

The game was unnecessarily close thanks to a cluster of errors.

The playcalling on the two early fourthdown’s was suspect. A tricky play to a clearly not 100% David Moore and a play that relied on a pick to open up the only target on the design was a disappointing selection.

Overall the offense seemed a bit off aside from Metcalf. Everything felt ordinary and predictable today — Wilson, the running game. Thank goodness for big #14.

Metcalf had the drop that could’ve finished things earlier but a great Carlos Hyde touchdown was also called back on an unnecessary hold by Cedric Ogbuehi.

Third downs continue to be a problem. The Seahawks were just 2-10 on offense and gave up 8-17 on defense.

Thankfully the opponent took a full half to get going and towards the end, when it made perfect sense to kick a field goal to make it a one-score game, the Eagles sent out Carson Wentz to throw a horrendous interception.

The Seahawks will have to play a lot better than this in the tougher games ahead but it’s worth saying again — the key in this game and the next three is to win and survive injuries to set up the NFC West double header to end the regular season.

If you missed my article on Richard Sherman earlier, you can read it here.

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The Seahawks should bring Richard Sherman home

Richard Sherman returned with a boom against the Rams

Maybe the relationship is permanently broken?

Perhaps this article is a total waste of time?

Certainly when Richard Sherman departed Seattle, it felt right for both parties.

The sideline blowup when Darrell Bevell chose to throw at the one-yard line. The articles littered with critical anonymous sources, talking of dysfunction. Threatening to ‘ruin’ a journalist’s career for asking a fair question.

By the end, Sherman seemed angry and disillusioned. Perhaps justifiably so? The Seahawks had a legendary team and failed to capitalise with titles. The crushing defeat to New England was always going to leave scars.

Yet at the same time, s**t happens. The Seahawks shouldn’t have let that one horrible moment define them. Instead of being a great motivating factor, it appeared to split the team. They still battled and fought and tried to reach the pinnacle once more. Yet whenever things started to go wrong, the old wounds reopened.

The reset at the end of 2017 was necessary. The Seahawks needed a fresh start with new personnel. Players like Sherman also, arguably, needed a fresh start too. A move to a division rival was right up his street. Just as the presence of Jim Harbaugh was beautiful motivation early in his career, now an opportunity to sock it to Seattle was equally appealing.

The move paid off and he came close to another Super Bowl ring.

Ultimately though, I wonder if that defeat to Kansas City was an epiphany moment. You can plan and prepare and execute. You can put yourself in a position to win. Sometimes, you just don’t.

The images that more or less defined Kansas City’s comeback were of Sherman getting beat by Sammy Watkins or face-planting as Damien Williams clinched a go-ahead score.

Anyone can make mistakes. Sherman wasn’t to blame for that loss, just as Bevell or Russell Wilson or Pete Carroll didn’t deserve total blame for one heartbreaking moment in a game where Seattle carried a 10-point lead into the fourth quarter and were the walking wounded by the end.

I don’t know if the Super Bowl earlier this year delivered an epiphany. Maybe it could be the catalyst for a come-together moment in the future?

Here’s what I think I do know, however…

One, Sherman is still a hell of a player. He returned from injury against the Rams and the 49ers defense immediately felt different. He was tight in coverage throughout. He made plays against the run. It was classic Sherman and he gained a PFF grade of 80.4 as the Niners upset LA.

Secondly — Sherman will always be synonymous with Seattle. This spell in Santa Clara is a mere footnote in a long, detailed tome. A statue of ‘the tip’ should still be built. When he enters the Hall of Fame, it’ll be a moment celebrated by the entire Pacific Northwest and he will do so as a Seahawks legend.

I think it’s clear he still has affection for the city. This is Richard’s team. We all know it really.

Many relationships are still firmly in tact. Look at this embrace between Sherman and Bobby Wagner on the night Seattle beat the Niners:

Here’s Russell Wilson with Sherman after the same game:

Here’s Sherman working out with several Seahawks during the off-season:

The one relationship that matters the most though, is Sherman and Pete Carroll. I think it’s clear that Carroll felt hurt by the way it ended with Sherman. I think it was sadness rather than anguish though. This is very different to the Earl Thomas situation.

I also wonder if Sherman will ever forgive Carroll for cutting him and moving on — especially as he was injured at the time. It might’ve been right for the Head Coach but that doesn’t mean it was necessarily right in the eyes of Richard. When trust is broken, it’s hard to get it back.

This image suggests, to me, it’s not an irreparable situation:

Sherman or Carroll might think the past is the past and it’s time to move on. I hope, however, that the pair can see the mutual benefit of a reunion.

The Seahawks are facing a bleak situation at cornerback in 2021. Shaquill Griffin, who hasn’t played especially well this year, is a free agent. The Seahawks should be prepared for him to depart if the price is too high. Quinton Dunbar feels like a one-and-done. The only other cornerbacks on the roster are Tre Flowers and D.J. Reed.

They only have three draft picks. Signing outsiders for this system simply hasn’t worked over the years and the well has run dry in terms of development.

The Seahawks need a proven, experienced, quality cornerback. There is simply no one better than Sherman for that role.

It’s a clear solution to a huge looming problem. It would also be a moment to cherish for the team, the player and the fans.

He would provide expert cover skills, knowledge, leadership, guidance and perhaps most importantly — toughness and turnovers.

You might point to his injury record (he’s missed most of this season). It is what it is. Players get hurt. Dunbar and Griffin are a good example this year. The simple fact is you’re not going to find anyone better to come in and produce immediately at the cornerback position for this defense.

What’s in it for Sherman? The chance to come home. The opportunity to address, as Marshawn Lynch put it, ‘unfinished business’.

Beast Mode came back. It’s time for the man who delivered the most iconic moment in Seattle sports to do the same. Be the hero again. Rekindle the legend.

There’s every chance San Francisco will work to re-sign him. I’d be surprised if they didn’t. They’re in a similar situation at the cornerback position.

I’m not one for encouraging illegal acts but maybe, just maybe, it’d pay off to somehow get the message through the back channels to Sherman that Seattle seriously wants him back. Place the possibility of a homecoming in his mind. It might just get him onto the open market where you can talk.

If both parties needed a fresh start in 2018, now they arguably need each other again. Like a warring couple who, deep down, really love each other — it’s time to have a date night to sort things out.

The perfect finale to a storybook career. The ideal person to fill a glaring need. A moment to excite fans. A chance to get another Championship, together.

Bring Sherm home in 2021.

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Draft notes: Washington’s Elijah Molden is a first round talent

Elijah Molden looks like a star in the making

I spent a bit of time watching Elijah Molden a few days ago and last night I was able to focus on him during a live game for the first time.

In terms of pure talent, instinct and athletic ability — he’s a first rounder with rare skills.

Some players just have an innate ability to be around the ball. They are playmakers. Tyrann Mathieu had that at LSU. He wasn’t the biggest, the fastest or the strongest. Yet time and time again, he’d be making the play.

Molden has that same quality and offers a complete, rounded game with the versatility to fit into numerous roles at the second level.

Operating as a nickel corner he has the short area quickness teams crave. He ran a sensational 3.93 short shuttle at SPARQ and you see it in the tape. He has gliding, twitchy movement. There are no wasted steps and his body position and fluidity is elite. You see him turn and transition with ease.

Look at his interception against Utah. The quarterback holds onto the ball for four seconds before making his throw. That is a long time to cover across the middle. Yet there’s Molden — perfectly positioned to undercut the route and make the play. He made it look easy. I couldn’t help but imagine him running that coverage for the Seahawks against the Rams. Imagine him taking away all the crossers LA use?

He fights and battles in man coverage and he contests so many throws to the intermediate level. He has the valuable ability to take away quick options for the quarterback. He’s also adept at reading the play and has the suddenness to react.

You just don’t see many players with this X-factor quality.

He’s well sized with dynamite explosion in the lower body. You see it when he delivers jarring hits. You see it with the movement he makes to play the ball. He jumped a 37 inch vertical at SPARQ and he isn’t just a smaller, agile defensive back. He comes up to the line and plays well in run support. He hammers ball carriers.

His instinct and football intelligence is exceptional. Look at the interception he had against Boise State in the Las Vegas Bowl. He reads the long-developing screen and has the speed and smarts to make the play. I can’t recall seeing this level of processing and physical quality.

He has great hands to play the ball and the ability to fight and compete when the ball’s in the air. He had 13 PBU’s in 2019 alone. He has five interceptions in 2019 and the three games of 2020. He has three forced fumbles and 5.5 TFL’s.

Molden is the definition of the modern day defensive back. He can be an exceptional nickel or he can be the next Mathieu or Budda Baker.

He was listed at 5-11 at SPARQ but at Washington he’s listed at 5-10 and 190lbs. To me it doesn’t matter. He’s not an outside cornerback anyway. He’s the ultimate playmaker at the second and third level — capable of playing either safety spot or nickel.

He can be a permanent snap taker on the defense, you never have to take him off the field. His tackling and run support is a major strong point. He seems to relish taking on blocks, shedding and working to the ball carrier. His physicality, to go with the skill and agility, is what makes Molden such an exciting prospect.

The icing on the cake is his maturity. He’s extremely well spoken and grounded in interviews. He appears determined and focused. Teams are going to love his tape and his personality.

Frankly I wouldn’t be surprised if he ended up being a top-20 pick. Molden is a special talent and it won’t be a surprise if he quickly develops into a NFL star.

Other notes

Regulars to the blog will know how highly I rate Vanderbilt’s Dayo Odeyingbo. Playing on a useless Vanderbilt team isn’t doing him any favours in terms of media coverage but the fact is he’s a great talent.

He had two sacks in Vandy’s latest blowout loss to Missouri. On the second he fought through a double team off the right edge and made it look easy, before throwing down the QB.

For me he warrants top-15 consideration. He’s a terror off the edge with an outstanding combination of length, power and athleticism. He converts speed to power with ease, knows how to win in numerous ways and at 6-6 and 276lbs he looks like a NFL stud.

He has 5.5 sacks for the season on a hopeless team. If he tests well at the combine, his stock will go through the roof.

Florida’s Kyle Pitts is an absolute lock to go very early. He was practically unstoppable against Kentucky — recording 99 yards on five catches with three touchdowns.

Pitts is the ultimate mismatch weapon. He’d be ideal for a young, blossoming quarterback (eg Justin Herbert) as a safety net, red zone target and chunk-play specialist. College football teams have no idea how to contain him. His ability to work openings at the second level is incredible. He’s a very natural athlete for his size. He either gets open or you can throw it to him and he’ll make it happen anyway. He has superb hands and can pluck the ball out of the air on difficult, contested catches — as he showed in this latest game on one of his TD’s.

Hopefully he lands on a team that appreciates what he is. It’d be a waste of time trying to convert Pitts into a traditional, all-round tight end. He’s basically a big slot receiver and mismatch weapon. In the right offense, he could be one of the leading receivers at the next level.

Blog regulars will know we’ve talked about Colorado linebacker Nate Landman for three years. He’s been consistently excellent. Against San Diego State he tallied 11 tackles, 3.5 TFLs and three sacks. Landman isn’t the fastest player but he had a 37.5 inch vertical at SPARQ.

He’s an absolute hammer hitter who brings toughness and physicality to the MIKE position. As you might expect from a three sack performance, he’s a useful blitzer. He might not go early in the draft but I wouldn’t bet against him making an impact in the NFL.

Finally, while Pittsburgh might’ve felt the full force of the return of ‘Big Trev’ for Clemson, Patrick Jones continues to have an exceptional season. He had a sack and two TFL’s. Jones now has nine sacks for the season — second most in the NCAA behind only Patrick Johnson of Tulane (10). Jones is a classic LEO/EDGE.

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Draft notes on five 2021 prospects

Jaycee Horn looks the part of a high pick

Today I wanted to share some thoughts on a handful of players I included in my recent two-round mock draft but haven’t really talked about on the blog yet.

Jaycee Horn (CB, South Carolina)
If you had to picture an ideal Seahawks corner, he might look a lot like Horn. He’s big, long and lean yet with great muscle definition and strength. He’s in fantastic shape. He’s also very quick and agile for his size (6-1, 205lbs) and showed, particularly against Auburn, an ability to stick tight in coverage and make plays on the ball.

You want to see top-level matchups between corners and wide receivers and that’s what we got in that game — Horn vs Seth Williams. It was a fantastic tussle with Horn living in Williams’ back-pocket. In particular there were several red-zone reps where he displayed the short area quickness to stick and the savvy awareness to consistently gain position and win with leverage. He broke up a fade, a slant and another fade. He made two interceptions — one opportunistic and the other under-cutting a route with great instinct. He looked every bit a first round corner.

Those were his only two career interceptions which is a concern. That said, when you look as good as he does and are expected to run in the 4.4’s — someone will take a chance on him early. He’s a highly talented player with outstanding physical traits and potential. If you want a big, physical, athletic corner to battle and fight, with the potential to develop into a plus tackler, he’s worth considering.

Nick Bolton (LB, Missouri)
Bolton is a classic, old-school hitter who is adept at taking it to the opponent. He does all of his best work around the LOS — knifing through gaps instinctively and with great quickness. Once he spots the ball carrier he usually finishes with aplomb.

He’s one of the toughest linebackers you’ll see in the much more diluted modern game. His hits are punishing and full force. He also doesn’t need a massive run-up to smack someone. There are several opportunistic hits where a running back reaches the second level and Bolton reads, sees the man and drops him. He’s a tone setter for the Mizzou defense.

The problem is he has a limited ceiling. He only ran a 4.80 at SPARQ at a similar weight to his current playing weight. He’s a little bit stiff in coverage and in the NFL today you’ve got to be able to get around the field. Early-round linebackers are expected to be great athletes these days. Furthermore, he’s undersized at about 6-0 and 240lbs. No doubt some teams will love the booming hits and Denzel Perryman — who ran a 4.78 at 236lbs — is testament to this type of player still having a home in the league. Yet like Perryman, I suspect he’s stock will be limited to the second half of round two at best.

Zaven Collins (LB, Tulsa)
Few players have had the impact Collins’ has had this year. He’s been a playmaking machine with four interceptions, 10.5 TFL’s, four sacks and a forced fumble. He made a game-winning interception against SMU one week then came back the next to deliver a 96-yard pick-six in overtime to defeat Tulane.

He has an unusual body-shape which teams will analyse to death over the coming months. He’s 6-4 and 260lbs and looks more like someone who might line up off the edge. He’s an unusual size for a linebacker and that often sends alarm bells ringing in scouting circles. It also needs to be noted that he ran a 5.03 forty at SPARQ, jumped a 29-inch vertical and ran a 4.62 short shuttle. He’s gained 50lbs since that test and plays a lot faster than he showed at SPARQ. Testing will be vital.

On tape he flies around the field, flows to the ball with ease and just has a knack for being a game-changer. He’s been talked up as a potential late-first round pick and if he tests well, that could easily be his range.

Kenny Yeboah (TE, Ole Miss)
Few players have elevated their stock like Yeboah in 2020. A transfer from Temple, he’s put everything together this year and is delivering major production within Lane Kiffin’s pass-happy scheme. He has 509 yards and six touchdowns in six games.

He’s very much a move-TE at 6-5 and 240lbs but he’s so fluid working in space and he’s a natural working downfield or attacking the seem. There’s very little wasted movement and he’s a matchup nightmare for linebackers or safeties. Even against Alabama’s loaded defense he managed seven catches for 181 yards and two scores and made it look easy in the process.

His mobility is incredible. He can make a defender miss to gain major YAC. He’s a chess piece you can move all over the field. Ole Miss line him up in the slot, they have him working across the formation, he’ll run sweeps, he’ll take a wheel-route or he can just run downfield or settle down the seem. He’s a major X-factor.

His ability to be a dynamic weapon at the next level is going to depend on his upside. Everyone is bigger and faster in the NFL and he won’t find it quite as easy. If he tests well at the combine, there’s no reason why he can’t land a spot in round two.

Davis Mills (QB, Stanford)
He’s flying under the radar at the moment — largely because the PAC-12 is all over the place due to coronavirus. Indeed Mills had to miss one of the few games that have actually taken place so far due to being forced to self-isolate.

However, there’s a lot of potential to work with here and while he has limited starts and might need considerable time before he realistically starts in the NFL — he could be a perfect target for a competitive team aiming to transition to a younger QB over the next 2-3 years.

Mills is ideally sized at 6-4 and 225lbs with the arm strength to drive the ball downfield and the necessary touch to make accurate, catchable passes at the intermediate level. He’s poised in the pocket and has shown evidence of being able to go through progressions.

Teams are always looking for mobility at the position these days and while you wouldn’t mistake him for even a Josh Allen or Justin Herbert, he’s very capable scrambling to avoid pressure, extending plays and making gains on the ground.

He doesn’t get talked about much but don’t be surprised if he goes earlier than expected.

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Why the Seahawks have to make a call on Jamal Adams

Like it or not, a decision on Jamal Adams’ is forthcoming

For the Seahawks and Jamal Adams, the next six games are crucial.

With a not overly daunting schedule, Seattle can still emerge as the team with the best record in an unpredictable NFC.

They also need to determine what the future holds for their big name safety.

The scheme fit. The future contract. The fact the Seahawks have three 2021 draft picks, $16-19m in projected cap space and only 34 contracted players.

There’s a call to make. A bigger one than most people realise.

Ideally you’d have more time. Seemingly nothing about 2020 is ideal, however.

By March, a decision is likely due.

Let’s start with the scheme.

By Adams’ own admisison, this is a relationship that is still trying to work things out:

“They’re still trying to figure out me just as much as I’m still trying to figure out the defense and everything.”

In the six games he’s played this year, Adams has 5.5 sacks. On paper that’s a big positive and actually puts him among the league leaders in the category.

However, he’s also blitzed 63 times in those six games. His average of 10.5 blitzes per game is by far the most in the league.

He has delivered 17 pressures — 2.8 per game. He also has seven hurries — 1.2 per game.

Therefore it’s fair to describe Adams as a very productive blitzer. If he is producing about three pressures, a hurry and a sack per game — that’s a positive tally.

Seattle’s isn’t traditionally a blitzing scheme though. His role as a heavy blitzer isn’t something we’ve seen this team do before.

Having an aggressive, freelancing player does come with a consequence and I think we saw that against Arizona.

Suddenly a scheme that has always preached ‘do your job’ is carrying a player who seems, mostly, to be playing with instinct. Take the Chase Edmunds touchdown last Thursday. He released out as a receiver and was alone in the end zone, with Adams standing in no-man’s land, arms aloft. It’s the kind of coverage bust you just don’t see that often.

Per PFF, Adams is currently carrying a fantastic pass rushing grade (79.8). However, his coverage grade (44.5) is extremely poor. His overall grade (57.0) is comparable to Quandre Diggs — who most people would accept has had a difficult second season.

Adams is giving up 12.8 yards per target — third most in the league. He’s giving up 16.3 yards per completion — 14th most in the league.

As a point of comparison, Bradley McDougald gave up 6.2 yards per target and 11.5 yards per completion in 2019. That’s a stark difference. When quarterbacks targeted McDougald last year, their rating was 58.8 — one of the lowest in the league and comparable to Tyrann Mathieu (57.8).

McDougald didn’t provide the sacks (he recorded only half a sack last season) but he only blitzed 21 times in 15 games. Adams has already tripled that number in nine fewer games.

McDougald’s PFF grade a year ago was 63.1 as a pass rusher and 64.5 in coverage. So while he clearly isn’t reaching Adams’ rating as a blitzer — he delivered an average performance level for the safety position.

You could speculate that McDougald’s role as a more traditional strong safety is one of the reasons why Quandre Diggs performed better in 2019. I haven’t studied Diggs enough to comment but it stands to reason that if his safety partner is blitzing at the rate Adams is — that’s putting a lot more strain on him as the free safety in coverage.

Again, this isn’t something we’ve seen from the Seahawks before. Kam Chancellor had two career sacks — one in 2010 and one in 2011. From the 2012 season through to 2017 — Chancellor didn’t record a single sack in 78 regular season games. He did have 12 career interceptions though. In Adams’ four year career so far, he has just two interceptions and 17.5 sacks.

It’s not just that Chancellor, McDougald and Adams have physical differences. Adams is being used in a totally different way than any other strong safety in the Carroll era.

Greg Cosell appeared on Colin Cowherd’s show on the day of the Arizona game. He was asked about Adams and the Seahawks defense and offered the following opinion:

“I think Jamal Adams is a linebacker. And I think at the end of the day in some ways, and maybe Seattle would tell me I’m crazy, but I think that limits some of the things you can do with him because he is really a linebacker not a safety. He’d almost fit perfectly to me in Bill Belichick’s defense with the way they use #21 Adrian Phillips who’s really a linebacker for them. So to me that’s what Jamal Adams is but when you use him as a safety I think it presents some limitations in coverage. He’s a linebacker, he’s a glorified linebacker.”

That review doesn’t exactly portray a precise fit for Adams within Seattle’s scheme.

Does he fit in? At the moment it’s hard to argue that he does — at least enough to justify the compensation of the trade and a big future contract. That perspective could change before the end of the season but ultimately time is running out.

He’s clearly a very talented individual. In the right situation he is an All-pro.

This is about the cost and fit. Does he suit the Seahawks? Even if the answer is yes — does he suit them enough to pay him a massive salary?

It’s assumed by some that there’s no real urgency regarding Adams’ future due to the security of the franchise tag. I’d argue a decision needs to be made at the end of the season — essentially giving the Seahawks six more regular season games and a playoff run to make a call.

The current highest paid safety in the league is Budda Baker ($14.75m a year). Adams will expect, not unfairly, to top that number.

The trade compensation that the Seahawks gave up creates a problem.

We saw with the Laremy Tunsil and Jalen Ramsey trades that if you spend multiple first round picks on a player and don’t have an oven-ready contract to sign, you cede all leverage in negotiations.

Tunsil agreed a deal worth $22m a year. That was $6m more expensive than the next highest paid left tackle on $16m. The Texans either had to cave to Tunsil’s demands or risk losing a player they’d spent a fortune on in draft picks.

Ramsey signed a record contract for a cornerback worth $20m a year in LA. The previous highest paid corner was Darius Slay on $16.8m a year in Philadelphia. Again, the Rams had little choice but to accept Ramsey’s demands.

It’s very difficult to drive a hard bargain with a player once you’ve traded multiple first round picks to acquire them.

It wouldn’t be unrealistic for Adams to ask for a significant increase on Baker’s top salary. A deal worth $18m a year is plausible. Maybe he feels generous and is willing to simply set a new record for a safety and go with about $16m a year? That would still be a princely sum.

And make no mistake, that’s the minimum you’ll end up paying.

If you’re going to commit that amount of money, you’ve got to be sure about the fit.

The Seahawks already know this. They chose not to pay Frank Clark $20.8m a year and traded him to the Chiefs. They chose not to pay Jadeveon Clowney. They did decide they wanted to break the bank for Bobby Wagner.

They’ve taken on difficult financial challenges before and been calculated and deliberate in their decision making — with mixed results.

They now face a big call with Adams. They can’t let pride get in the way. Yes — it would look somewhat embarrassing to trade a player months after acquiring him in a blockbuster deal.

However — the only thing worse than taking that on the chin will be absorbing the cost of an enormous contract for a player who doesn’t provide value for money.

Personally, I wouldn’t criticise the Seahawks at all if they decided to trade Adams in March and took a hit on the compensation. If they come to the conclusion he just isn’t the kind of fit that justifies a record-breaking salary, then the right thing to do is be proactive and move on.

It’s OK to take a chance and it not work out.

The entire NFL is facing a financial crunch due to coronavirus. The salary cap could drop to $175m in 2021 — putting severe pressure on most teams.

Every dollar is going to count. It’s not an overreaction to suggest smart cap management will decide the winners and losers over the next 3-5 years.

In an ideal world the Seahawks would have more time to assess Adams’ fit. However, the cap crunch is coming now. Not in 2-3 years. It’s on the horizon.

Adams has a cap hit of $9.8m in 2021. He could be franchised the following year for about $11-12m depending on the state of the league at the time.

I’m not sure you want to get into a scenario where you’re going year-to-year. It’s a situation few players take well to. They want long term security. Part of Adams’ issue with the Jets was their unwillingness to reward him financially. I’m not sure he’d be any more willing to entertain a similar reluctance from the Seahawks.

I think Seattle has two options. They need to be prepared to pay him this off-season and commit to him, or they need to move on.

I also can’t help but wonder if they’d be investing in the wrong position.

We’ve already seen how a great D-line can make Seattle’s defense tick. Remember the days of Michael Bennett, Cliff Avril and one of Chris Clemons or Frank Clark? Remember the rotation they had in 2013?

Look at the impact Carlos Dunlap is having. For all the talk of building from back-to-front prior to the start of the season, I think we’ve all seen by now how important a pass rush is within this specific scheme, given it relies on a four-man rush.

Are the Seahawks better with Adams at say $18m a year — or would they be better off investing that money in the D-line to try and create a loaded front?

After all, aren’t we a year removed from the 49ers rolling to the Super Bowl with this exact defensive scheme while boasting a fantastic defensive line rotation? All while having a slightly suspect secondary?

It’s a worthwhile discussion to have — even if you’d prefer to keep Adams.

After all, look at the players who are scheduled to reach free agency or could be cut or traded for cap purposes:

Von Miller
Matt Judon
Leonard Williams
Fletcher Cox
Brandon Graham
Derek Barnett
Cam Jordan
Dante Fowler Jr
Grady Jarrett
Melvin Ingram
Shaquil Barrett
Bud Dupree
Jadeveon Clowney
Yannick Ngakoue
Ryan Kerrigan
Sheldon Rankins
Larry Ogunjobi

Remember, the likes of New Orleans, Philadelphia and Atlanta are tens of millions of dollars over the cap for 2021. They will have to act. In the case of the Saints, they might have to gut their roster and start again.

The thought of pairing Von Miller with Dunlap is very appealing. Combined with Seattle’s youth at defensive end — you could create a rotation that is a match for anyone in the NFC.

Could you go down that route and simply replace Adams with Marquise Blair (a player you spent a second round pick on to play safety) or could you potentially target someone like Keanu Neal (who is also scheduled to be a free agent)?

It’s also a good looking draft at the safety position with the likes of Andre Cisco, Paris Ford and Jevon Holland among a decent group.

Again — this isn’t a review of Adams’ talent or a witch-hunt against the player or the trade. It’s simply a team construction debate about what’s best for the future.

You might ask who would trade for Adams?

In the right scheme he is a fantastic talent. It’d be wrong to think there wouldn’t be suitors. You probably won’t get two first round picks but a deal similar to the Frank Clark trade isn’t out of the question.

He was born to play in the aggressive, attacking 3-4 schemes or, as Greg Cosell noted earlier, those from the Bill Belichick way of doing things featuring a lot of hybrid players.

Adams would be superb in Brian Flores’ scheme in Miami. The Dolphins were unrealistic trade partners when he played for the division rival Jets. Now? He’s a more realistic option.

Miami also has two first round picks in 2021. Would they be willing to part with their native selection (possibly in the 20’s) plus a 2022 pick? That could make a lot of sense.

They also have the cap space ($37m) to extend him and will feel the benefit of Tua Tagovailoa’s rookie deal for the next few years.

The Patriots have $64m to spend in 2021 even with the significantly lower cap. Adams would be a great fit for Belichick. However, they might be picking too early in round one to make a deal realistic.

The Ravens are very much in win-now mode. They have a heavy-blitzing scheme where Adams would thrive and an estimated $29m in cap space. They would be a strong option.

The Buccaneers are also very aggressive in terms of roster building. They are living in a small window with Tom Brady as quarterback. Adams would be an ideal fit in a Todd Bowles scheme he’s already familiar with. The Buccs will be picking later in round one and might be willing to make an aggressive move. They have $31m in available cap space for 2021.

It’s also not unprecedented for players to be traded multiple times for high picks. Brandin Cooks went from New Orleans to New England to LA and then Houston. Teams have spent three first round picks and a second rounder for his services. Sam Bradford was traded twice — once for a second round pick and Nick Foles, then for a first round pick.

Certain players seem to retain value.

It stands to reason that if the Seahawks are going to give Adams a whopping contract worth anywhere between $16-18m they should at least utilise a defensive scheme that plays to his strengths. That simply isn’t Carroll’s scheme. If they decide to go down that route they have a duty to consider major structural changes to the defense — with a new defensive coordinator, possibly from the Belichick tree, to come in and oversee things.

That sounds great on paper — yet look at the teething problems Dallas have experienced going from a 4-3 to a 3-4 this year, having spent years acquiring players for the 4-3.

The Seahawks aren’t going to be $96m over the cap like the Saints in 2021 but they have very little money to spend. Spotrac says around $16m, Over the Cap says $19m (with $8m in effective cap space). With only 34 players contracted, that money will evaporate quickly simply filling out the roster.

With only three draft picks in 2021 and no first rounder, it’s going to be extremely difficult to fill out the depth with cheap, young talent.

Something’s got to give. How can they fill out their roster with minimal cap space and draft stock?

Increasingly I think the Adams trade was a highly aggressive, win-now move. An opportunity to see if he could come in and deliver the kind of major impact they’d been unable to acquire in free agency or the draft. The main motivation was to win now — chase a title in 2020.

I suspect they knew they were investing in someone with retainable value and all options would remain on the table in the off-season.

When the season ends the Seahawks have to make a big decision.

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The first 2021 mock draft

Jaelen Phillips is enjoying an impressive season with Miami

Testing will be more important than ever this year. The highly disrupted college football season and number of opt-outs will make the combine a vital event.

It’s high time the NFL incentivised doing all the tests. The 2020 combine was a nonsense. Several big names didn’t perform. The shift to primetime led to many players skipping the agility testing because they’d have to do it at 9-10pm.

Schedule the on-field drills and agility/explosive testing for different days. Reward players financially for competing. If you want this to be a major television event, we need to see the big names in college football on the field.

There are stars available in the top-10 but then there’s a predictable drop-off. However, even at this early stage there appears to be some intriguing depth lasting into round two.

I’ve done a two-round mock draft so that the Seahawks are included.

First round

#1 New York Jets β€” Trevor Lawrence (QB, Clemson)
#2 Jacksonville β€” Justin Fields (QB, Ohio State)
#3 Washington β€” Penei Sewell (T, Oregon)
#4 Dallas β€” Shaun Wade (CB, Ohio State)
#5 LA Chargers β€” Ja’Marr Chase (WR, LSU)
#6 Miami (via HOU) β€” Micah Parsons (LB, Penn State)
#7 Cincinnati β€” Rasheed Walker (T, Penn State)
#8 New York Giants β€” Patrick Surtain II (CB, Alabama)
#9 Carolina β€” Zach Wilson (QB, BYU)
#10 Atlanta β€” Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah (LB, Notre Dame)
#11 Denver β€” Walker Little (T, Stanford)
#12 San Francisco β€” Trey Lance (QB, North Dakota State)
#13 Detroit β€” Dayo Odeyingbo (DE, Vanderbilt)
#14 Minnesota β€” Gregory Rousseau (DE, Miami)
#15 New England β€” Kyle Pitts (TE, Florida)
#16 Chicago β€” Rondale Moore (WR, Purdue)
#17 Cleveland β€” Kwity Paye (DE, Michigan)
#18 Tennessee β€” Patrick Jones (DE, Pittsburgh)
#19 Philadelphia β€” DeVonta Smith (WR, Alabama)
#20 Arizona β€” Jaycee Horn (CB, South Carolina)
#21 Miami β€” Travis Etienne (RB, Clemson)
#22 Indianapolis β€” Davis Mills (QB, Stanford)
#23 Jacksonville (via LAR) β€” Pat Freiermuth (TE, Penn State)
#24 Baltimore β€” Josh Myers (C, Ohio State)
#25 Las Vegas β€” Zaven Collins (LB, Tulsa)
#26 New York Jets (v/SEA) β€” Jaylen Waddle (WR, Alabama)
#27 Tampa Bay β€” Rashawn Slater (G, Northwestern)
#28 Buffalo β€” Jalen Mayfield (T, Michigan)
#29 Green Bay β€” Caleb Farley (CB, Virginia Tech)
#30 Kansas City β€” Azeez Ojulari (DE, Georgia)
#31 New Orleans β€” Dylan Moses (LB, Alabama)
#32 Pittsburgh β€” Alex Leatherwood (T, Alabama)

Second round

#33 New York Jets β€” Najee Harris (RB, Alabama)
#34 Jacksonville β€” Christian Darrisaw (T, Virginia Tech)
#35 Dallas β€” Alim McNeill (DT, NC State)
#36 LA Chargers β€” Wyatt Davis (G, Ohio State)
#37 Miami (v/HOU) β€” Terrace Marshall Jr (WR, LSU)
#38 Washington β€” Andre Cisco (S, Syracuse)
#39 Cincinnati β€” Ronnie Perkins (DE, Oklahoma)
#40 Carolina β€” Obinna Eze (T, Memphis)
#41 New York Giants β€” Seth Williams (WR, Auburn)
#42 Denver β€” Jordan Davis (DT, Georgia)
#43 Atlanta β€” Carlos Basham (DE, Wake Forest)
#44 San Francisco β€” Jevon Holland (S, Oregon)
#45 Jacksonville (v/MIN) β€” Jaylen Twyman (DT, Pittsburgh)
#46 New England β€” Mac Jones (QB, Alabama)
#47 Detroit β€” Rashod Bateman (WR, Minnesota)
#48 Chicago β€” Carson Strong (QB, Nevada)
#49 Tennessee β€” Chris Olave (WR, Ohio State)
#50 Cleveland β€” Aaron Banks (G, Notre Dame)
#51 Philadelphia β€” Aidan Hutchinson (DE, Michigan)
#52 Arizona β€” Jayson Oweh (DE, Penn State)
#53 Indianapolis β€” Dillon Radunz (T, North Dakota State)
#54 LA Rams β€” Nate Landman (LB, Colorado)
#55 Baltimore β€” Paris Ford (S, Pittsburgh)
#56 Miami β€” Tylan Wallace (WR, Oklahoma State)
#57 Las Vegas β€” Jake Ferguson (TE, Wisconsin)
#58 Tampa Bay β€” Jackson Carman (T, Clemson)
#59 Buffalo β€” Nick Bolton (LB, Missouri)
#60 Seattle β€” Jaelen Phillips (DE, Miami)
#62 Kansas City β€” Kenny Yeboah (TE, Ole Miss)
#63 New Orleans β€” Nico Collins (WR, Michigan)
#64 Pittsburgh β€” Kellen Mond (QB, Texas A&M)

Notes on Seattle’s pick

There were some attractive options still on the board in the mid-to-late second round.

I’m a big fan of Notre Dame left guard Aaron Banks. He’s a people-mover with great size. He’d be an ideal fit at left guard yet the Seahawks could be inclined to let Jordan Simmons and Phil Haynes compete for that spot in 2021. They’ve also favoured experience on the O-line in recent years, with the exception of Damien Lewis. That said, Banks and Lewis would be a fantastic guard combo for the long term future.

USC defensive tackle Jay Tufele has his admirers but given he’s opted out, it’s difficult to judge exactly where his stock is. Marvin Wilson is extremely athletic but his play on an admittedly awful Florida State team has been concerning. Levi Onwuzurike has flashed for Washington but is another player who’s opted out and would’ve really benefitted from showing what he can do this year.

I suspect they won’t draft a tight end early but Jake Ferguson has everything you want physically in a top-TE prospect. He’s added production this year and is really starting to look the part. Miami’s Brevin Jordan has exciting physical tools but has missed time with injury recently. Kenny Yeboah is having a superb season for Ole Miss and will have many admirers. He has a great ability to climb to the second level and create mismatch opportunities. He’s a modern X-factor weapon and could be a discount alternative to Kyle Pitts.

Notre Dame left tackle Liam Eichenburg is talented but has limitations and might need to shift inside to guard. There are a number of big name receivers available in Seattle’s picking range (although I’m not convinced the likes of Collins, Olave and Wallace will run in the 4.4’s).

At #60 I gave Seattle Miami’s UCLA transfer Jaelen Phillips. He’s a former 5-star recruit who was once the #3 overall prospect in High School. So far this season, his first in Miami, he has an impressive 10.5 TFL’s, five sacks and an interception. He’s well sized at 6-5 and 266lbs. He caught my eye against Virginia Tech where he showed an exciting ability to win off the edge with quickness (2.5 sacks in the game) and I’ve since watched two further games. He is a hidden gem with the profile and talent to be a top pro.

He’s getting better every week with enough size to hold the POA and control the edge but the quickness and dip to win 1v1 and pressure the quarterback.

However, there’s a reason why he could last into the late second round.

His time at UCLA was marred by a series of concussions. In fact a spokesperson for UCLA reportedly said Phillips had opted to medically retire in December 2018 due to his concussion history.

Instead he entered the transfer portal. He had to sit out the 2019 season, which was perhaps helpful. So far he’s not suffered any health setbacks.

The Seahawks have taken chances to acquire extreme physical talent in the late second round before. Frank Clark had off-field concerns. We talked a lot about D.K. Metcalf’s situation during the 2018 college football season and that he almost had to retire due to a neck injury.

If you’re looking for major upside sometimes you have to roll the dice. Pass rush remains a big need for the Seahawks and adding options to create a better rotation has to be a consideration.

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Friday notes: Keep Carlos, TE thoughts & time to snarl

The winning moment — Carlos Dunlap sacks Kyler Murray

Carlos Dunlap must be retained in 2021

It’s not an exaggeration to say he’s been a revelation so far. His 3.5 sacks in three games barely tells the full story. The Seahawks’ pass rush was inept until his arrival. They needed someone, anyone, to provide some pressure off the edge. Dunlap is delivering that and it’s validating the A+ grade many people awarded the trade when it was completed.

There’s always some caution in celebrating a victory too soon. Quandre Diggs looked like an inspired addition a year ago but his play in 2020 hasn’t followed up a strong start. The same could happen for Dunlap, especially as he turns 32 in February.

However, the Seahawks have seen Frank Clark and Jadeveon Clowney walk out the door in back-to-back seasons. Eventually — they need to keep somebody and build around them, rather than constantly be looking for the next replacement.

Dunlap’s cap hit of $14.25m is steep in 2021 but none of it is guaranteed. A short-term extension that includes new guarantees to lower the hit would be wise — securing the Seahawks with a capable edge rusher to lead their pass rush.

The Greg Olsen injury has a plus side

Will Dissly is in year three of his rookie deal and Jacob Hollister is playing on his second-round RFA tender.

The Seahawks have smartly preserved Dissly after two serious injuries in back-to-back years. However, now is the time to test whether he can stay on the field. His talent and consistency make him a candidate to be Seattle’s long term answer at tight end. Olsen’s injury gives them a reason to see if he can make it so.

It’s also important to see more of Hollister. Do you want to re-sign him in the off-season? If nothing else, he has the incentive of playing in a contract year. He’s also been somewhat underused so far as a receiving tight end who could offer a lot more in the passing game.

There’s also Colby Parkinson. It’s often forgotten but going into the 2019 season, Parkinson had some tentative first and second round grades attached to his name. His stock dropped dramatically after a difficult season for Stanford, mainly due to the horrible play of quarterback KJ Costello.

We’ve since seen Costello go and struggle for Mississippi State after transferring and Parkinson’s raw talent and potential was largely hidden within a stuttering offense.

It’s worth introducing him into the offense — even if it’s only for the sake of experience. He has a lot of potential and could develop into a useful player for the Seahawks. He has great size and like most of the top TE’s in the NFL, he performed well in the agility testing at the combine (three-cone, short shuttle).

Harnessing his talent and expanding the roles of Dissly and Hollister could add a lot to the offense — especially given Olsen’s underwhelming performances so far.

They have to bring the intensity

By week 11 in 2014, the Seahawks were facing a crossroads.

They’d endured a tough season so far — highlighted by the Percy Harvin fallout and persistent rumours that they’d had enough of Marshawn Lynch.

A 24-20 loss in Kansas City looked closer than it was. The Seahawks were poor and fell to 6-4. It looked like they were going to struggle to make the playoffs a year after winning the Super Bowl.

The key veterans circled the wagon and hosted Arizona the following week. The Cardinals were leading the division at 9-1. It was a must-win game to stand any chance of catching them.

The Seahawks were snarling, angry and brutal. They played a typically physical game. It wasn’t pretty but they won 19-3.

It launched a six game winning streak. They beat San Francisco by the same scoreline on Thanksgiving and then ran the table. They finished 12-4, won the NFC West and returned to the Super Bowl.

The current Seahawks have far more issues than the 2014 group. They also don’t have Lynch, the LOB, Bennett and Avril and many others.

That said, a similar opportunity is emerging.

As with 2014, there’s nothing particularly scary about Seattle’s remaining schedule. They had a get-right win at home to the Cardinals, who were again leading the NFC West, and now face a challenge of building on that.

Six years ago the key was to really embrace the building momentum and thrive in the opportunity to smack opponents around, show them who’s boss and get the season back on track.

This year there’s a lot more to it. They have to try and play with sound fundamentals on defense consistently. As highlighted alarmingly by Brett Kollmann and Chris Simms this week — they’ve been making some hideous mistakes.

They also need to stick to the formula that helped get things right yesterday (essentially not depend exclusively on the quarterback), play with intensity and attitude and try to launch another strong finishing run.

In recent years they haven’t ‘finished’ very well. They’re only 14-10 in the final six games over the last four seasons. That includes three years where they finished 3-3.

Philadelphia (A), New York Giants (H), New York Jets (H) and Washington (A) is a four-game run they need to attack — setting up decisive NFC West rematches with LA and San Francisco.

They need to prove they can stay on track, win the games they’re supposed to win and continue to show massive improvement on defense in order to reinvigorate faith that this won’t be another wasted season. Yesterday was a good start — but it’s only a start until they prove otherwise. Contrary to what some people might think — the issues raised in the aftermath of the Buffalo and LA losses aren’t simply brushed away after one win.

Even so, the NFC is still wide open and that’s unlikely to change between now and Christmas.

Arizona aren’t actually that good

I thought the Seahawks would win last night mainly because I don’t think the Cardinals are that good.

Kyler Murray is clearly superb — although I was a little surprised that Fox dedicated their entire pre-game show to him, rather than an even split in what looked like a fascinating contest between two exciting quarterbacks.

Here’s the reality with the Cardinals though. They are missing their best pass rusher and their top three defensive tackles. They also have a few niggles elsewhere, including the quarterback and running back.

If it wasn’t for a hail mary last Sunday, they’d be 5-5 for the season right now. Had the Seahawks not thrown away the game in Arizona, they’d be 4-5. They’ve lost to the Lions, Panthers and Dolphins.

They have some terrific individual stars and will probably win nine or ten games. Yet realistically they’re probably nearer 8-8 than 13-3.

I still think if the Seahawks are going to win the NFC West it’s the team in LA they need to be most wary of.

Mock draft on the way

I’ve written my first 2021 mock draft and it’s ready to roll. I was saving it for this mini-bye week and will post it over the weekend.

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Instant reaction: Seahawks claim must-win game

The Seahawks couldn’t afford to lose this game.

A loss would’ve effectively put them two games behind the Cardinals due to the tiebreaker. Even with the easiest remaining schedule in the league, it would’ve taken a big effort to overcome that deficit.

More importantly, it would’ve felt like a crisis. It would’ve meant four defeats in five and a season spinning out of control.

Crisis averted.

Overall it felt very much like an old-school Thursday night game. The quality has improved over the last couple of years but when the NFL introduced these mid-week games initially, they were littered with errors.

Both teams made a series of headache-inducing mistakes.

Quandre Diggs turned a three-and-out into an extended touchdown drive with a needless hit. Not to be outdone, Dre Kirkpatrick duly returned the favour with an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on fourth down at midfield (leading to a Seattle touchdown).

D.K. Metcalf had two drops — including a football to the face right before half-time. Kyler Murray took an intentional grounding penalty on his own two-yard line, leading to a vital safety on the very next play.

Jason Myers missed an extra point which could’ve been important at the end and Patrick Peterson gave up a major pass interference call right before half-time, gifting the Seahawks three points.

The two teams combined for 18 total penalties.

The officials didn’t help matters with some glaring errors — adding to the overall sloppiness of the occasion.

Nevertheless, the Seahawks were victorious and showed some spirit and character to be the last man standing.

The Russell Wilson for MVP bus has been parked in favour of a more balanced attack and the benefits were clear for all to see tonight. Wilson is a sensational player very capable of winning games on his own. However, like practically every QB who has ever lived, he benefits from support in the form of a productive running game.

Seattle ran for 165 yards and felt in control for pretty much the whole game. The scoreboard was always relatively close and that’s the downside of this kind of game plan. Yet at the end of the day, this is only the second win of the season where things felt somewhat in hand. It’s not a coincidence that it worked alongside Carlos Hyde’s return and a much more complementary offense.

Defensively, some of the season-long issues remain. Tre Flowers is a big problem as a starter. Jamal Adams looks like he’s freelancing and doing whatever he wants and I’m not entirely sure it’s working the way Seattle hoped. There were a few too many long conversions too — with Seattle conceding 6-11 on third down.

Even so — there were also reasons to praise the defense for a change.

Carlos Dunlap had two sacks and a further impact play and looks every bit the defensive end Seattle badly needed to add in March. His presence on the defensive line is a major boost and that was an excellent trade prior to the deadline.

L.J. Collier also had a sack but a much more important act was his ability to draw the holding call in the end zone that led to a safety and two points.

K.J. Wright covering ground with supreme agility to deny Kyler Murray on a scramble before half-time stole an extra possession for Seattle, enabling them to claim three points.

And at the end, when they needed a stop, they found one. Not for the first time this season admittedly — but this one was a lot less stressful and desperate.

I said in our pre-game podcast on Tuesday that I thought Seattle would win this game. The key now is to try and keep growing while also winning. Nothing was solved tonight. All of the big problems discussed yesterday still exist. The defense, especially the way it is coached and has been taught, is probably going to be an issue for the rest of the season.

However, they have a mini-bye before playing the Eagles. They need to launch another winning run before a key week-16 rematch with the Rams. They needed this one and they got it.

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It’s time to be honest about the state of the Seahawks

Go and listen to this weeks Brock and Salk podcast.

Here’s the link.

You will not hear better analysis on the Seahawks.

Every relevant topic is covered. No punches are pulled.

It’s exactly the type of conversation we need to be having.

Here’s an image that pretty much sums up the rest of the Seattle media currently:

They’re very prepared to get worked up about a decision to punt at midfield at the start of the second half in a four point game. In the grand scheme of things, that is a total irrelevance. It’s meaningless.

On a list of worthwhile topics to discuss, it’s about 79th in the pecking order.

Where was the serious analysis of Seattle’s hapless off-season (which some referred to as ‘fantastic’)? Where are the serious, probing questions about the fact this team has the worst defense in the NFL?

Why hasn’t anyone put to Carroll how they can be this bad on defense after spending $50m and using three first round picks, a second round pick and three third round picks?

Why hasn’t anyone asked about the 1-5 run in the NFC West? Or the 1-5 run against the Rams? Or the all too frequent out-coaching that has been extremely evident in the second half against Arizona and the full games in Buffalo and LA?

The defense is totally broken. The spirt and toughness that was so crucial in the early Carroll years seems to be completely gone. Jamal Adams tweeted, ‘we all we got, we all we need’ after the Buffalo game. It was insulting to use that term, made famous by Red Bryant and the band of brothers from 2010 onwards.

You don’t get to say ‘we all we got, we all we need’ after that disgraceful showing against the Bills.

This video published today highlighting Seattle’s issues on defense is an absolute horror show:

It’s stunning just how badly called, organised and executed the defense is. It’s hopeless. It’s absolutely hopeless.

There’s a lot wrong with the Seahawks and yet sometimes, you’d hardly notice.

Brock and Salk, thankfully, still do a weekly podcast. It’s manna from heaven. A proper, adult conversation covering the important topics involving this team.

No shirking. No hiding.

They compared the current defense to the Jim Mora 2009 season. It’s totally fair. In fact you could argue that if the 2009 team had Russell Wilson and D.K. Metcalf — they’d probably be 6-3 or somewhere close to it too. The quarterback, as badly as he’s played in the last month, masks many blemishes.

Here’s something else Brock Huard said that stands out:

“Pete, if I was sitting with you on a Monday, I’d say, ‘Pete, why and how has your team morphed into such a finesse football team that gets punched in the face consistently?'”

It’s a fair question. One that should be asked.

Ruffling a few feathers is what you’re supposed to do in the media. The industry isn’t there to accommodate you. It’s not an extended vacation, where you get to bask in the glory of doing a cool job.

You’re there to get answers. To push and probe. To point things out.

People won’t like it. You might put a few noses out of joint. That’s part of the business.

It’s not like the Seattle media are being fed a long list of breaking stories either and need to protect a source.

So far this year we’ve had multiple occasions where Carroll has received gushing, uncomfortable praise from a radio host. Bobby Wagner hasn’t had his performances challenged, rather he was asked whether he believes a handful of journalists could beat several highly athletic pro-athletes in a basketball game. Last week Brian Schottenheimer was asked what sauce he likes on a hotdog.

Today, Carroll was asked who picks the jersey colour for each game.

I appreciate not every question can be a gruelling, direct fastball. I’m also well aware how difficult this job can be. Finding the right balance between maintaining a relationship and being seen to hold people to account isn’t always easy.

Surely though we’re well past the point of a few more difficult questions needing to be asked? Again, watch the video above. How is anyone getting away with an easy ride for this?

Assuming Carroll or Wagner or Russell Wilson won’t answer in a satisfactory manner isn’t an excuse. You’ve still got to be seen to be asking the questions.

I suspect Carroll would be more than willing to be challenged. He’s worked in New York, Boston and LA. This isn’t his first rodeo.

Thankfully Brock and Salk were willing to have the kind of debate we need to be having.

I said in my own podcast yesterday that I think the Seahawks will beat the Cardinals on Thursday (the video is at the bottom of the article). I don’t think it’ll change anything though.

The state of the franchise is completely up in the air. The defense is a shambles. The identity of the team is kaput. Carroll reset in 2018 in an attempt to regain an identity. Three years on, this couldn’t look less like a Pete Carroll team.

They are finesse. They aren’t hitting anyone. There’s no attitude.

The way the team has been built has been poor. The scheme calls for pressure with four and yet despite insisting fixing the pass rush was a priority this year, the main moves were to swap Jadeveon Clowney for Benson Mayowa, re-sign an ageing Bruce Irvin and then trade up for a pass rusher who missed the Senior Bowl and combine with a serious injury (and he remains injured).

The way they’ve invested their money and used their picks is confusing and deserves to be questioned, challenged and analysed. It’s no longer good enough to point to the team building work between 2010 and 2013 and give this front office a pass.

Regardless of the result on Thursday night — the Seahawks do not look like a team primed for a long playoff run.

If they lose you could argue they’d be in a crisis — enduring a three-game losing streak and a 1-4 run, with a two-game gap between Seattle and Arizona for the NFC West lead. As noted many times, winning the division once in six years shouldn’t be acceptable with the quarterback advantage Seattle has.

Yet if they do win the game — there shouldn’t be any sugar coating this situation. Even if they finish 11-5 again, it’s abundantly clear that in the coming off-season major decisions need to be taken.

Nothing should be off the table. They need to be ruthless and pro-active.

Carroll isn’t going anywhere as we discussed on Monday. Therefore he should be open to major, significant changes to the coaching staff which include ceding control of the defense to a proper coordinator.

No longer can we see Tre Flowers sitting 15-yards off a receiver despite having safety help. No longer can young players come into the system, drift through their rookie contracts and then depart with minimal development. No longer can the terrible communication and blown assignments continue.

A new, expert staff is required who can teach and install a scheme that is executed with detail and precision.

In terms of personnel, some big calls are required. Is Bobby Wagner worth $18m a year? Be honest about that. You just spent a first round pick on a middle linebacker. Be prepared to move on if needs be. Is Jamal Adams a proper fit in this defense? Is he going to be worth the massive contract he will covet? If the answer is no, you have to be prepared to salvage what you can and trade him.

You’ve got to be realistic about your core. The only players you can say are part of it, with any seriousness, are Russell Wilson, D.K. Metcalf, Tyler Lockett, Duane Brown and some of the younger guys like Damien Lewis and potentially Jordyn Brooks. Chris Carson would be on the list but you need to decide how much you’re willing to commit to him.

The rest? It’s all up for debate. Nobody on the defense is playing well enough to justify being safe.

Quandre Diggs needs to go. Quinton Dunbar needs to go. Shaquill Griffin? You can’t pay him big money. Every member of the defensive line should be on borrowed time with the exception of Poona Ford. Carlos Dunlap deserves an opportunity to prove his worth but the reality is he’s 32 in February and has a big cap hit in 2021.

You’re staring at a massive defensive rebuild — in terms of scheme, staff and personnel.

Let’s just be honest about that. It was good that Salk brought up Wagner’s future. The simple fact is, you might just have to move on. Ditto with Adams. If he was a safety you drafted playing this way as an effective blitzer but not a lot else, it would be fine. But you traded three good picks and a player for him. He needs to be a defining player on the defense. A total game-changer. I’m afraid, so far, he simply isn’t. The sacks are nice but the defense still looks appalling, you have to go against your scheme to be aggressive and blitz him and as a coverage man, he’s not an upgrade on Bradley McDougald.

He’s got seven more games to prove his worth or it’s time to bite the bullet and get what you can. You can’t compound the issue by paying him the $15-20m contract he will expect and that you’re duty bound to give him after trading away so much.

Going into the off-season and swapping Ken Norton for Gus Bradley or Dan Quinn, then papering over a few cracks with a few neat-and-tidy free agency moves and a limited draft class, before repeating the same season in 2021 that we’ve seen since 2015 shouldn’t be acceptable.

Short of a turnaround this season so unpredictable it would be staggering, this is the reality of where the Seahawks are. You don’t have to wait until January to have this conversation. We can have it right now.

Some people won’t like it. Avoiding difficult topics is a classic human trait. A lot of people don’t want to recognise issues because you have to confront them. It’s easier to sit back and hope things are actually OK. Or you can undermine those who do want to have the tough conversations. That’s easier than actually having to debate the valid talking points.

Really it comes down to this. If you want a serious football team who actually makes Super Bowls and wins things, we all need to be realistic and honest about where this team is. That includes the football operation, the media and the fans.

At the moment, the Seahawks are a long way away from the Super Bowl. Everything is on Russell Wilson and as we’re seeing, it’s not sustainable. You cannot build your team this way — with a horrific defense and a one-dimensional offense — and hope to succeed for more than the odd flourish here and there.

There are serious weaknesses littered throughout the roster. Many personnel mistakes have been made. The coaching staff needs to be better and fresh ideas are required.

Major surgery is needed. A few band-aids are not enough.

The sooner we all recognise that the better.

If you missed yesterday’s podcast previewing the Arizona game and discussing other topics such as Chris Carson’s future, you can watch it here:

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