Archive for September, 2021

Live stream: Seahawks @ 49ers preview

Thursday, September 30th, 2021

Report: Richard Sherman turned down the Seahawks

Wednesday, September 29th, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s a horrible look.

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

It just feels complacent and neglectful. Then desperate.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Especially in light of reportedly losing out on Sherman?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Jamal Adams is the worst trade of the Pete Carroll era

Tuesday, September 28th, 2021

Jamal Adams, making one of his few plays so far this season, in holding Kirk Cousins to a two-yard gain

Quite rightly, people are starting to connect the three big trades of the Pete Carroll era — Percy Harvin, Jimmy Graham and Jamal Adams.

The first two deals didn’t work out as intended. The third is going the same way.

There’s increasing evidence the Seahawks don’t know how to get the best out of Adams. That was an issue with both Harvin and Graham too.

As Joe Fann noted over the weekend: “Injuries, inconsistent play, expensive and an organizational inability to maximize the respective skills sets.”

With Harvin, fitting him into the Marshawn Lynch-led attack with a point guard quarterback was a bigger challenge than it needed to be. With Graham, they tried to turn the NFL’s best mismatch weapon into a complete tight end.

Now the Seahawks appear stuck with a similar Adams-shaped dilemma.

A year ago they manufactured sack production by having him blitz off the edge with Bobby Wagner lined up in the A-gap to draw protection. It helped him break a much talked about sack record but in reality, it was always a red herring.

Adams blitzed, on average, eight times a game. If you ask any safety to blitz eight times a game off the edge with an $18m linebacker in the A-gap, there’s a decent chance they’ll also break the sack record.

Wagner’s role essentially was reduced to setting the table for Adams. He blitzed 100 times last season, compared to 41 times in 2018 (probably his best season as a pro) and 71 times in 2019.

They’ve clearly decided not to do that any more and the results are zero sacks in three games for Adams. His blitzing, which appears to be from deeper and less telegraphed or manufactured, simply isn’t getting home.

A classic example was the touchdown to Adam Thielen on Sunday. Adams, right before the snap, ran into the blockers at the LOS and engaged contact. There was no real attempt to get free and certainly there was no pressure on the quarterback:

Kirk Cousins had one less player to worry about at the second level. He throws to Thielen, who is at least somewhat covered by D.J. Reed (although his positioning is poor). Yet Justin Jefferson is running free across the middle of the field:

Look at the starting position of Jefferson (in the slot) and Adams:

One way or another, they are passing off Justin Jefferson (of all people) to have a defensive back blitz ineffectively.

Is it any wonder the Minnesota offense found it so easy to make completions?

Increasingly it feels like the Seahawks don’t really have a clear plan on how to use him effectively — enabling him to create pressure and still retain coverage ability (as was the case in New York working under Todd Bowles and Gregg Williams).

They could go back to blitzing him as they did a year ago. That would create sacks but as noted before, they could probably ask Ryan Neal to do the same job at a fraction of the price. This plan also impacts Wagner, your most expensive player not named Russell Wilson. And when Adams doesn’t get home with this predictable and obvious plan that opponents can easily read, you’re in trouble.

They can also carry on as they are and just have him blitz ineffectively while doing very little at the second level.

Neither is appealing.

Adams’ PFF grade last season was 64.2. So far this year he’s graded at 70.7 (Colts), 63.6 (Titans) and 63.6 (Vikings). He’s credited with zero splash plays, zero hurries, zero QB hits and zero sacks.

His coverage grade in 2021 is 62.1.

He’s still being aggressive too. I don’t have the numbers for the Minnesota game but he blitzed nine times against Tennessee.

A quick reminder that he’s the highest paid safety in the league.

In New York he had an 89.6 coverage grade and 89.8 overall grade in 2018. His 2019 numbers were similar — 87.5 in coverage, 87.9 overall.

These are damning numbers for the Seahawks, Pete Carroll and Ken Norton Jr. It helps paint a picture of, to put it bluntly, a franchise that is simply clueless when it comes to getting the most out of their big investment.

They’ve had Adams for over a year now. They’ve seemingly tweaked their scheme to use Bear fronts in part to utilise his skillset.

And the results are so mediocre.

Furthermore, Adams often refers to himself as a ‘weapon’ or ‘playmaker’. I think ‘peacock’ is a more fitting description.

I think he’s a show-off.

Bringing a $2200 Louis Vuitton coffee cup to podium after the Tennessee game just for show was indicative of what I find off-putting about Adams.

Like a peacock, I think he’s very good at showing off and letting everyone know he’s there. I’d prefer to see a bit more on the field, frankly, to justify this.

So why is it the worst ‘big’ trade of the Carroll era, as the title suggests? After all, we could write similar complaints about the other two deals.

Harvin, if nothing else, had a major contribution in the Super Bowl victory against the Broncos. Although the cost was steep (R1 & R3 picks + a new contract) the Seahawks moved on with little fanfare. They had some dead money to overcome but nothing that stopped them retaining their core group for another three and a half seasons.

They inherited Graham’s contract so there was never any real financial penalty in that trade. While many hands have been wrung over the deal with New Orleans — especially considering it included Max Unger and arguably inspired a shift to a more finesse approach — Graham still scored 18 touchdowns for the Seahawks and produced 923 yards in his second season alone. He contributed and simply didn’t elevate the offense as hoped.

The Adams trade is on a whole different level. For starters, the compensation was two first rounds picks and a third rounder. That’s way more than Harvin and Graham cost.

Then, they gave him a record-setting contract. They can’t realistically get out of his deal until 2023. His dead cap hit next year is $16m ($7m more than his cap hit). Even in 2023 his dead cap hit is $12m set against an $18m salary.

It’s a mess, frankly. You’re left hoping they figure this out ASAP or that someone else comes in down the line and returns Adams to his 2018/2019 form.

This is an important tweet from Jeff Simmons which helps explain Seattle’s broader issues currently:

There’s a catalogue of errors here. A consistent run of hopelessness which has put the team in a bind far greater than any schematic and communication issues in one game against Minnesota.

I don’t blame them for taking a chance on Germain Ifedi. Late in the first round, the options were limited at right tackle (a glaring need). I maintain that he had some good moments on tape and a fantastic physical profile. It didn’t work out but Ifedi, believe it or not, has had a better NFL career than some of the other players taken at his position in that 2016 draft.

I’ll never criticise a team for investing in the trenches and it just not working out.

Likewise I’ve never gone over the top on the Malik McDowell pick. They saw a Calais Campbell-esque profile and rolled the dice. It didn’t work. I wish they’d drafted T.J. Watt — who we talked up a lot and even compared to Khalil Mack on this website. They went into the off-season in 2017 needing an inside/out rusher and took a shot.

You can make a case, however, on whether they took too big a gamble on McDowell who had major character flags and ultimately made a reckless decision before he’d even taken a NFL snap. They then compounded the wasted pick by wasting a second rounder on a one-year rental of Sheldon Richardson.

Even so, it’s since the reset in 2018 that the real problems began.

1. Taking a finesse one-year wonder ‘playmaker’ running back instead of Nick Chubb who, as we noted, had the ideal profile for a Seahawks running back in terms of size, explosive traits and running style. They were seemingly swayed by a health grade based on one season of MWC football — a league that enabled a 166lbs running back to break the NCAA for rushing the year prior. Chubb, meanwhile, recovered from a serious knee injury to the tune of two highly productive SEC seasons and helped lead Georgia to the National Championship game. The national media have since revealed how much the Seahawks deeply regret this decision.

2. The 2019 draft plan was a disaster, as noted in this article. They seemingly watched their targets come off the board, panicked, picked LJ Collier, looked miserable in the day-one press conference and turned an off-season priority (bolster the pass rush) into a glaring, major problem. Collier has been a total bust and would possibly be cut if it wasn’t for his contract.

3. Jordyn Brooks is grading poorly via PFF when he does play and the rest of the time he’s being benched or spelled by Cody Barton. Linebacker was a curious pick in 2020 in the first round and Brooks is doing very little to justify the decision to select him ahead of a whole bunch of talented running backs, offensive linemen, cornerbacks and receivers that we discussed in depth pre-draft.

4. The Seahawks essentially sat out the the 2021 draft due to the Adams trade and will be without a first round pick next year too. Based on the last two games, it could even be a top-20 pick. Are the Seahawks getting value from the investment? No.

Championship winning teams are often defined by their ability to draft well and make calculated veteran additions. The Seahawks, in both cases, have flopped since the reset began in 2018.

The Adams trade, rather than be the finishing touch to elevate the team to a Championship — is starting to look like the final, desperate move of a franchise that has lost its way.

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The day after the night before

Monday, September 27th, 2021

It’s time for a change in the defensive leadership

If you missed last night’s instant reaction article and podcast, I’d recommend checking it out. A lot of what I discuss here is a follow on from that.

In the aftermath of Seattle’s loss to Minnesota I suggested changes were necessary.

Ken Norton Jr has endured a difficult run as defensive coordinator. He was once fired mid-season with the Oakland Raiders. As difficult as it’ll be for Pete Carroll, history should repeat.

It might not change a great deal for this season but there has to be consequences when a performance level is consistently bad.

Just as Carroll used ‘the bench is an ally’ to warn his team last week about their performance levels, the same standard needs to be set for the coaches.

Norton Jr is clearly a principled and likeable man who deserves to be cherished for his time in Seattle. Nobody could blame him for returning to run Carroll’s defense in 2018. His interactions on the sideline with Bobby Wagner, K.J. Wright, Marshawn Lynch and others during the Super Bowl runs are memorable.

His own attitude and toughness was brought to life on the field by the likes of Lynch and Kam Chancellor. You could sense it.

But he’s a bad defensive coordinator.

Carroll himself has never been a particularly strong ‘details and adjustments’ coach. Right now, he needs someone of that description alongside him. The only way to rescue this season is to find a way to make this defense function.

No more easy completions for the quarterback. No lack of pressure. No total inability to slow anyone down. No more allowing opponents to dictate to you as they march up and down the field, while the Seahawks passively take their punishment.

The fans are starting to turn. As someone who has been critical of the Seahawks for some time, I’ve never seen it like this. Usually there’s a real pushback when Carroll’s future is discussed. Yet numerous podcasts, streams, articles and tweets are saying the same thing. It’s time for a change.

Sometimes you’ve got to act to give yourself a shot. Just as the Ravens did in 2012 — firing struggling offensive coordinator Cam Cameron and replacing him with Jim Caldwell.

The Ravens were 9-4 at the time of that decision. It was surprising to many. The change was made anyway and a few weeks later Baltimore had a Super Bowl Championship and Joe Flacco was the MVP of the playoffs.

You could also argue such a move would be simply shuffling the deckchairs on a sinking Titanic. To be honest, that’s probably right. I don’t think this team is close to being a contender. Even if they sort the defense out somewhat — there are still other issues to rectify. For example, why does the offense grind to a halt every week after half-time? Why are the Seahawks so easily out-gunned in the game of adjustments? Are they good enough in the trenches? And how on earth do you fix the cornerback problem specifically?

Yet inaction eventually takes the form of complacency. Norton Jr was fortunate to survive long enough last season to benefit from Seattle’s powderpuff schedule. As people rushed to celebrate an improved performance, his job security regained full strength — undeservedly.

He should’ve gone along with Brian Schottenheimer after the Rams playoff debacle.

Carroll’s unwillingness to take a back seat and establish a role for himself as a figurehead kept Norton Jr in a job. Control is a big thing for Carroll. It’s why, even after week one, we had the absurd quote in response to a question about what Shane Waldron had brought to the offense:

“He’s open-minded to do things that we’ve done in the past”

I think there was an opportunity for Carroll to become Seattle’s answer to Nick Saban. Appoint high-profile, established coordinators and let them handle things. You act as the great overseer and maximise your qualities as a leader, motivator and culture builder.

Instead, Carroll prefers to end his stint in Seattle as he started. Doing things his way.

And let’s be clear — nobody should begrudge him for doing that. Provided he’s willing to fall on his sword now that it isn’t working.

Likewise, nobody can blame Carroll for wanting one last hurrah after the 2017 season. Clearly he contemplated retirement (otherwise Jay Glazer wouldn’t have mentioned it). After consideration, he decided he did want to build another team.

Calls for his departure after that year were premature, even knowing what we know now. Having built one of the all-time great NFL teams from 2010, Carroll had every right to look after the reset. He deserved a crack at this if that’s what he wanted.

Yet here we are, nearly four years on. A treasure trove of picks and cap space has been spent. Most of the roster has changed. They’ve traded away key players and traded for big names.

It hasn’t worked. It isn’t working. And it takes elite-level blind faith to think it will work next year.

I am convinced that Carroll will be reflective on this and honest with himself. If what we’ve seen so far continues, I believe he will retire at the end of the season.

Do that and he’ll remain a much loved Seattle legend. People will excuse the latter years and remember fondly the fact he delivered the first ever Super Bowl title to the city. It should’ve been two and it’s a shame they never avenged that trauma. That’s life. It isn’t ideal.

If he stays, he knows what the consequences are.

More drama with Russell Wilson. Potentially being remembered as the man who traded Wilson, the best quarterback in franchise history. The next reset would be even more painful because it would include finding a replacement quarterback.

Rather than return to contention, such a scenario could see the Seahawks collapse into being a really bad team. Carroll’s legacy would be tarnished.

He’ll be well aware of all this. And if he was considering retirement in 2017 due to similar thoughts, you better believe he’ll be thinking about it later this year if things don’t improve.

Carroll’s already giving off a ‘why the heck am I still doing this?’ vibe with his body language.

You could argue he’s just signed a five-year contract. Wasn’t that a signal of intent to carry on coaching?

Perhaps. Yet remember when he signed that deal. It was announced prior to the Buffalo game. That was before the team’s mid-season collapse. It was before the horrendous playoff loss to LA. It was before the Wilson-trade saga.

A lot has happened since then.

He possibly signed that deal believing his team were on the precipice of another great run.

And in 2017, when Glazer hinted at Carroll’s retirement, he was only a year removed from signing an extension.

We’ll see what Carroll decides.

I do think change is extremely necessary though. It’s much harder to replace a quarterback than a great coach. Just ask New England.

The 2022 quarterback draft class is awful. I can’t see Aaron Rodgers in Seattle. I’m not sure anyone knows what’s happening with Deshaun Watson’s league status and there’s increased talk that he’ll be dealt before the trade deadline anyway.

Pair Wilson with an offensive minded Head Coach and let’s see what happens. My choice remains Carolina offensive coordinator Joe Brady. He’s a Sean Payton disciple and Wilson has long wanted to work in that system. He’s getting a song out of Sam Darnold. He basically won LSU a National Championship.

Throw in an experienced defensive coordinator to run the defense and that would generate excitement for next year. Fans need that. The energy around this team is fading.

That in itself should be a talking point. It’s not acceptable for ownership to simply hand things off to Carroll and John Schneider and hide in the background.

If Carroll is unwilling to retire, it shouldn’t be assumed that he just carries on until he wants. There has to be some accountability from the top and it’s unclear, currently, if that structure exists. It has to at least be debated whether Carroll is ‘too’ powerful in the organisation.

In the short term, a bit of pressure also needs to be applied to Seattle’s media. They’ve had a good run over the last 11 seasons. Times have been good. Carroll is a fun person to interview. They’ve not had to rock the boat much.

Now is the time, however, to ask some probing and difficult questions. That starts with Mike Salk on 710 ESPN in the 1-to-1 interview this morning and goes into the group press conference later.

(ED — No probing or even mildly challenging questions were asked in the 710 ESPN interview with Mike Salk. Disappointing.)

(ED #2 — None of the questions below were asked but kudos to Gregg Bell for asking a couple of probing questions on the cornerbacks in the general press conference.)

— Does Carroll have to consider big changes, including to his staff, in light of what he’s seen so far?

— Does Carroll regret not doing more to address the cornerback position in the off-season?

— If Carroll isn’t talking to Richard Sherman as he claims, why not? What’s there to lose at this stage? Especially if the likes of Tampa Bay and Carolina were touching base with him?

— Why not make a push for CJ Henderson, who is seemingly being dealt to Carolina for a pittance?

— What has happened to the team identity?

— Will Carroll admit that it’s not a good look that they’re still working out how to best utilise Jamal Adams after all they’ve invested in him?

— Why do they keep investing in tight ends yet seem to really struggle to make them a consistent feature when the game kicks off?

— Has the team made enough progress since the 2018 reset?

— What has Jody Allen and/or Chuck Arnold said to him after the latest defeat?

This is just off the top of my head. I’m sure there are other questions that could be asked. None of these are unfair.

Just as the team needs to be seen to be acting to fix their problems, the media has to be seen to be asking questions of the person ultimately responsible for the football operations in Seattle.

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Instant reaction: Seahawks lose & it’s time to act

Sunday, September 26th, 2021

It’s time for change.

In the short term the Seahawks need to act. Ken Norton Jr should be replaced after three hapless years as defensive coordinator.

Then at the end of the season, Pete Carroll should stand aside.

I say that not as a knee-jerk reaction to an absolute hammering in Minnesota. I said it throughout the summer that my preference would be for change if 2021 proved to be more of the same.

You could argue things are actually worse.

The Seahawks look broken. This has the feel of a team ready to implode without action.

I’m happy to add the qualifier that I’ll eat this article if the Seahawks go on to challenge seriously for the Super Bowl. On this evidence though, that’s not very likely.

And while some fans or sections of the media might be willing to reference New England’s loss to Kansas City a few years ago (“We’re on to Cincinnati”) — the reality is there are thousands of other examples where teams that play this poorly don’t do what Brady and Belichick did in 2014.

The new fangled scheme that Carroll and Norton have cooked up is a shambles. They aren’t creating pressure. They’re leaving themselves wide open underneath. They give up easy completions time after time.

They completely failed to address the gaping need at cornerback.

They stuck by Jamal Adams after a first season where he was injured and largely only effective as a free-running blitzer with Bobby Wagner, an $18m linebacker, forced to blitz literally 100 times to set the table for him.

What a total and utter failure that trade is, with Adams a complete non-factor after three games. How many times did we hear how he just needed health and another year with the team? The Seahawks’ staff have no idea what to do with him to make him an effective playmaker.

The great pass rush depth? Ineffective.

First round defensive lineman? Inactive.

Look at some key stats for the Vikings today:

— 453 total yards

— 9/14 on third down

— 140 rushing yards

On top of that, one of the most predictable things about the game was Minnesota’s desire to use screen plays. Seattle had no answer, despite surely knowing this was coming?

It’s not just the defense though.

Once again, the staff completely lost the game of adjustments.

Minnesota’s yardage in the third quarter — 114 yards

Seattle yardage — 7 yards

All of the defensive issues in the first half continued. Nothing changed. Meanwhile, the offense regressed.

Wilson, in the second half of both games, has started to play like he did last season when the defense was so bad that he needed to do everything. This was LA and Buffalo on the road stuff — and Arizona on the road in the second half plus overtime.

And sure, he takes some responsibility for that too.

D.K. Metcalf had five catches for 88 yards and a touchdown in the first half. In the second half? How do you not find a way to get him the ball?

They were shut out in the second half.

This isn’t good enough.

Where are the counter-punches once opponents settle into the game?

In three games so far, the offense has completely stalled after half-time. It’s as if they start out nice and fast with the stuff they’ve worked on and then that’s it.

After an off-season of drama where Wilson questioned his future, get ready for even more of that on the horizon. It started to bubble last week.

It’s hard to know where this team goes from here. They play the Niners, Rams and Steelers next. Their only win is against 0-3 Indianapolis, while the rest of the NFC West excels.

It’s starting to feel like the writing is on the wall. That this could and should be the last dance for Carroll.

We can sit here and talk about culture and motivation or people you respect and like being in charge.

Pete Carroll will always be a Seahawks legend. Nothing changes that.

Yet the Seahawks are currently not well coached. They are a discombobulated mess at times. The fine-details are lacking. When a key change is needed to shift momentum, it’s never delivered.

That’s before we even get into the way they’ve used their resources and built this roster.

Carroll looks increasingly flustered. As if he isn’t having fun any more. I didn’t expect to ever write those words but here we are.

If this continues, I think he’ll call it a day at the end of the season.

Regardless, it’s time for a big shift. The same things are happening year after year and there’s no accountability from the top.

2022 feels like a time to start afresh. An offensive minded Head Coach working hand-in-hand with the big investment at quarterback. An experienced defensive coordinator who’s been there and done it — to finally sort this unit out.

I could wait until January to write this. But what’s the point in waiting?

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College football draft notes 25/09

Saturday, September 25th, 2021

Here are some quick notes based on what I’ve been able to watch on Saturday. I had to do a six-hour round trip for work so I’ve had limited access today.

— The 2022 draft is going to need to rely on depth because the big names just aren’t there. Nobody is emerging. The quarterback class stinks and beyond a select 3-4 players at other positions, there’s nobody to covet at the top of the class. This might be the most lacking draft class we’ve ever covered in terms of high first round picks. The internet mock drafts are full of overrated types. I’m finding it hard to discover exciting players worthy of high grades. There are players to like and target later on — quite a few actually. The top talent is severely lacking though.

— What does that mean? I think we might see more veteran trades than ever in the forthcoming off-season — especially with some quarterback-needy teams carrying multiple first round picks.

— I really like what Sam Pittman is doing at Arkansas. This was a team on its knees. They showed gradual improvement last year and this season they’ve already beaten Texas and Texas A&M. Georgia are next and that’ll be a tough one for them. But they play a tough, physical brand of football that mixes in some creativity and speed.

— That said, I was hoping to see a big performance from safety Jalen Catalon and his most noticeable act was chasing after Isaiah Spiller on a big touchdown run by the Aggie running back. Spiller has had a mediocre start to the season and has underwhelmed for a while. Even so, he showed off great speed and finishing ability on that long run and left Catalon (who is quick) for dead.

— Tight end Jalen Wydermyer has first round talent — so why do Texas A&M never throw him the football? He had one catch for 18 yards against Arkansas and dropped another difficult catch which was thrown high. Aside from that he was anonymous again. They simply aren’t making the most of his talents. Is it quarterback play? Jake Ferguson at Wisconsin is suffering a similar fate.

— We featured UCLA running back Zach Charbonnet right at the start of the season and he continues to impress. The Michigan transfer ran for 209 yards and a touchdown against Stanford, adding 42 yards as a receiver. He is extremely talented and deserves a lot more attention than he’s getting. It was good to see tight end Greg Dulcich more involved too, registering 42 yards on five catches.

— Most mocks have Michigan Aidan Hutchinson in the late first or early second. He’s a certain top-20 pick, especially in this class. He had another sack today against a spirited Rutgers team.

— Keep an eye on Florida State pass rusher Jermaine Johnson. He had another sack today against Louisville and has been a rare bright spark for the winless Seminoles.

— One of the consistent themes of the draft coverage this year is the horrendous nature of the 2022 quarterback class. Nothing embodies that more than Oklahoma’s overrated Spencer Rattler. Mocked in round one by so many, he had another stinker against West Virginia on Saturday. He had yet another interception throwing carelessly into thick coverage, lofting a pass that was begging to be picked off. He should’ve had another before half-time when throwing on the run. He was booed by the home fans multiple times and many chanted for backup Caleb Williams. Rattler strikes me as a player who thinks he’s better than he is. He trusts his arm way too much and is careless. He doesn’t read a defense or make sound decisions, he just backs himself to make throws. He does have some arm talent and he can extend plays but week after week he makes atrocious decisions and right now, I couldn’t project him in round one. No way.

— Another player who’s overrated? Clemson receiver Justyn Ross. I just don’t see it with him. Ross had a chance to keep Clemson alive in overtime on fourth down against NC State but showed a distinct lack of physicality, ball-tracking and desire in failing to catch a reasonably thrown pass. A quick reminder that he ran a 4.87 forty at SPARQ and jumped a 27-inch vertical.

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After two weeks, the Carroll/Wilson noise is already here

Thursday, September 23rd, 2021

The loss to the Titans appears to have opened some old wounds

It took two games.

When the Russell Wilson saga reached its peak earlier this year, we talked about this inevitability.

If there wasn’t a proper resolution, this would linger into the season and be a cloud hanging over the team.

Such a resolution, in my eyes, was simple. Either you make a trade or you recommit to your quarterback in the way of a new contract. They are two extreme outcomes, obviously, but that’s how serious things got. And there needed to be a line drawn otherwise this season would be impacted.

At the very least restructure his deal to create cap space. They could’ve done that at any point. It would’ve been a big statement because it would make it virtually impossible to trade Wilson next year. Instead, they’ve well and truly left that door open. Make your own mind up as to why.

The Seahawks chose to stay silent during the media storm. Clearly they hoped everything would go away. Then Pete Carroll and John Schneider conducted an intelligence-insulting press conference where they claimed it was all a media creation and a whole lot of nothing.

You know, despite the Athletic article which appeared to be sourced from the team and the subsequent agent-led response to Adam Schefter, listing Wilson’s four preferred trade destinations.

So despite the forced ‘Pete and John crash Russell’s press conference to show they’re best buds’ routine, there was always a danger that once the season started — this whole saga would re-emerge.

Cue the Brock and Salk podcast this week — with the main subject matter being Carroll and Wilson’s relationship. Salk started the broadcast by claiming he’d spoken to the connected Gee Scott to ask about how things are between the two. ‘It’s all anyone (in the building) is talking about over there’ was the response.

“Something’s going on” claimed Salk.

How will Wilson respond to Carroll’s couched finger pointing about his fourth quarter performance against Tennessee? Why was that second half so reminiscent of late 2020? Who is to blame? The player? Or is it more than that?

Especially, as pointed out by Salk, since Carroll’s peculiar answer to a question last week about Shane Waldren’s influence on the Indianapolis win.

“He’s open-minded to do things that we’ve done in the past”

Think about that for a second. What has the new offensive coordinator brought to the table? Here’s an invitation to give him some praise. The one thing that stands out? According to Carroll, it’s the fact he’ll do things they’ve always done.

That answer was all the more alarming in the aftermath of the Titans game — where the offensive game-plan appeared to be directly transported from 2020.

That’s not to excuse Wilson, who should’ve played better late in the game. Yet if you feared Waldren and Wilson weren’t going to be handed the keys to the offense — this wasn’t a reassuring Sunday.

Meanwhile, Colin Cowherd — connected to Mark Rodgers and the Wilson camp — is busy announcing on his show that the Seahawks don’t do anything well if it doesn’t have the quarterbacks prints all over it.

“Russell Wilson fools you into believing Seattle is a well-oiled machine”

Welcome to the 2021 Seahawks season. Where wins will quieten the noise temporarily and defeats will open up all the old wounds from the off-season.

I think Carroll and Wilson have done an admirable job trying to move forward. But they didn’t really have a choice, did they? For the Seahawks there wasn’t a trade scenario that was tempting. And if Wilson had pulled an Aaron Rodgers — well, Rodgers is still in Green Bay, isn’t he?

What choice did anyone have but to crack on?

Making a statement about having a newly brilliant relationship and all that jazz sounds good but it felt like an attempt to put the toothpaste back in the tube.

I suspect both share resentment. Wilson over the direction of the team and lack of post-season success. Carroll and co for the way he voiced those concerns so publicly.

That doesn’t just go away.

This is how the entire season will be played out. Either the Seahawks will win and keep a lid on this for a moment or two. Or they lose and we get this. If the season ends in glory — salvation. Maybe. If it’s more of the same (or worse) then change will be inevitable. Either in the form of Wilson being dealt, Carroll retiring or maybe both.

It feels like the team is facing a six month period that could determine so much for the future of the franchise.

And sure, you could argue a 710 ESPN podcast and Colin Cowherd isn’t exactly the thundering jungle drums of the mass international media. It’s a start though, isn’t it?

The Seahawks play Minnesota (A), San Francisco (A), LA Rams (H) and Pittsburgh (A) next. There’s potential danger ahead, not just in terms of record, but in terms of the noise that could surround this team.

Either they’ll come out of this stretch stronger and ready to push back against this talk. Or things are going to spiral and the noise will grow and grow.

This is a major stretch of games in the Carroll and Wilson era.

Make no mistake though, this is the cloud they’ll play under for the rest of the season. Winning at an elite pace will be the only antidote.

If you missed yesterday’s stream with Jeff Simmons, please check it out below:

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A Seahawks debate with Jeff Simmons

Wednesday, September 22nd, 2021

Rob Staton & Jeff Simmons get into the big topics following the week two loss to Tennessee. This is a stream not to be missed!

Curtis Allen’s week three watch points (vs Vikings)

Tuesday, September 21st, 2021

Note:  This is a guest post by Curtis Allen and the latest piece in a weekly series. Curtis looks at the Seahawks and their opponents and discusses key factors…

Time to get right back on the horse.

In Week Three, the Seahawks face a team that are paced by a dominant running back and a very efficient quarterback who is throwing to two threatening wide receivers.

Sound familiar?

Whether they can adjust, refocus and return a more complete effort than they did on Sunday against Tennessee might give us some further clues about how the 2021 season is going to unfold for this team.

Both the Seahawks and the Vikings have unfinished business from their Week Five matchup last season.

For the Vikings, it is obvious. They would love another shot at the Seahawks and the chance to break their head-to-head losing streak — particularly after losing their last meeting in a heartbreakingly dramatic fashion.

For the Seahawks, it might be less obvious but no less important. The Vikings dominated them on the ground to the tune of 201 rushing yards, pushing the Seahawks defense up and down the field and thumbing their nose at two excellent Michael Dickson punts that pinned them deep. 

The manner in which they won that match is hardly a sustainable recipe for success. Completing the circle in all three phases against that same tough opponent this Sunday could really send this team in the right direction.

This time around, the defense should have six players returning that did not play in last year’s game due to injury: Jordyn Brooks, Jamal Adams, Rasheem Green, Marquise Blair, D.J. Reed, and Darrell Taylor.

No two games are alike. The Seahawks have an opportunity to break the mode they have found themselves in with a game that is winnable for them.  How can they do it?

Contain Dalvin Cook

The beat marches on. The Seahawks opened their schedule with three consecutive games against a team that fields one of the top running backs and systems in the NFL.  How have they done so far?

Week One against Jonathan Taylor: Job done.

Week Two against Derrick Henry: Not so much.

Two out of three looks so much better than one out of three.

Limiting the damage Cook can do is key to having success against this offense. How can the Seahawks do that?

1. Set the edge on defense

The defense has witnessed two great zone schemes so far, but this one might be their biggest test yet. Why?

The Kubiak offense schemes both inside and outside zone runs and does an excellent job of masking their intentions and getting blockers downfield. It is a fantastic marriage with Cook’s elite vision and burst. 

We have already seen it work both ways in 2021. Cook has four explosive runs out at the edges and three explosives between the tackles in just two games this season. 

So, pick your poison.

The Seahawks have proven to be vulnerable at the edges and in defending the screen game, as predicted, with K.J. Wright no longer on the team. As stout as they have been on the interior, they are lacking strength at the edge of the defense.

Let’s take a look at how the Vikings do it so well by examining how they succeeded in their game against the Seahawks last year.

On back-to-back plays the Viking offense wrecks the edges of the Seahawk defense and gives Cook room to run untouched.

The video starts at :49.  And it is not for the faint of heart…

Watch Bobby Wagner. He reads the play perfectly, reacts and knifes past Riley Reiff like he is standing still. Brilliant.

However Cook is just too quick to hit the hole and he runs past him. That is not a failure on Wagner’s part. 

Cook can accelerate because the edge has been blown wide open. 

Alton Robinson’s job on the play is to set the edge. If Robinson can even remotely set the edge, or disengage from the Irv Smith block to occupy that hole, Cook will be forced to hesitate and give Wagner just enough time to bring him down for a minimal gain or even a loss.

Smith blocks Robinson into the parking lot. The hole is so big that Cook easily accelerates away from Wagner and runs for ten yards as Robinson helplessly dives, flailing to try and make a play.

Let the video run. On the very next play, the exact same thing happens. Except this time Cook gets an escort to the end zone.

Off the snap, Reiff easily handles L.J. Collier and Kyle Rudolph stands up K.J. Fullback C.J. Hamm beats tracks through the hole and takes Wagner out of the play and Dakota Dozier gets two full steps to build up a head of steam to block Cody Barton and easily erases him. Touchdown Vikings.

Alexander Mattison gets a turn at it at 9:58 in that video in case you are not convinced of the Vikings’ run dominance in this game.

Ugly business.

They have to get tougher on the edges. 

Perhaps rotating one of their monster interior linemen out there occasionally is the answer? A Red Bryant type role might be an effective stopgap solution.

How about this – and trust me, I am fully aware of the irony of suggesting this, given what we just watched – using Alton Robinson more at that spot? 

He has gotten much more experience since that game last year, posted PFF grades of 63 and 71 for run defense so far in 2021, and has the versatility to both play the run and rush the passer — something Seattle does not currently posses an abundance of on the defensive line.

They need to get creative to find a solution or this Sunday’s tape will look awfully familiar to what we just looked at.

2.  Sound tackling is key

As you just saw, the zone system gives Cook gaps and holes to run in. The Vikings excel at opening holes and sending blockers through them to pave the way.

But it gets worse. Cook is not one of those flashy backs that breaks off big runs but goes down on first contact. He can both run away from defenders and regularly break tackles in tight quarters.

How good is he at breaking tackles?

Cook was the second-best at it in the entire league in 2020, behind only David Montgomery.

The Seahawks had a season-high eighteen missed tackles in that Vikings game last year. Every starter on defense recorded a missed tackle.

The good news is they did end the season with the fifth-fewest missed tackles in the NFL, so they are capable of better tackling. 

But there have been issues in 2021 so far with tackling. Pete Carroll was asked about this after the Colts game and said the ‘team has some things to clean up’ there. And we all saw that was true Sunday against the Titans.

For this game coming up, against that runner, facing that offensive system, they cannot afford to let Cook get past the first guy to get a hand on him.

They must be better at wrapping up in order to keep Cook from wrecking this game like Henry did.

And, as always, an effective run game sets up the play action.

Kirk Cousins is extremely good in play action. They ran about a quarter of their pass plays out of it and Cousins’ quarterback rating was a whole 24% better than when they did not.

Cook sets up their offense. They have to prevent him from using his speed and skill to open up their full package of plays.

Pressure Kirk Cousins at least 10 times

In Kirk Cousins’ three-year tenure in Minnesota, you can practically draw a straight line between the amount of pressures the Vikings allow and whether they win the game or not:

  • Average pressures in a Viking win: 6.9
  • Average pressures in a Vikings loss: 12.4

But that is just academic, isn’t it? Just about every team in the league can tie winning the game to pressuring the quarterback, right? 

What makes Kirk Cousins any different?

This does — when Cousins was blitzed in 2020, his completion percentage dropped from 71.40% to 59.50%.

You read that correctly. He goes from sharpshooter to peashooter when blitzed.

Here is the list of quarterbacks with 500 throws who had a bigger accuracy drop than Kirk Cousins when blitzed last year:

Deshaun Watson

End of list.

Another stat — in only four of the Vikings’ losses with Cousins at quarterback in the last three years did they surrender less than nine pressures. The other twenty losses? Nine or more.

Pressure Cousins. By any means necessary.

Preferably, that means bottling up Dalvin Cook first and forcing Cousins to be the answer. Then skillfully using the defensive line depth to create pressure. This includes solving the substitution challenges they experienced against the Titans.

And finally, mixing some creative blitzes as well.

If you are still not convinced this is a sound strategy, consider this about Cousins’ favorite target, Adam Theilen. Last year, 89% of Theilen’s catches were for either a first down or a touchdown. Those are elite numbers in company with other pass-catching greats like DK Metcalf, Mike Evans and Travis Kelce.

Passes to Theilen from Cousins traveled an average of 9.2 air yards per catch before they were received.

Which requires time for Theilen to get downfield and make his break.

Want to prevent Theilen from getting a first down or touchdown? Do not let Cousins have time in the pocket Sunday.

Minnesota’s offensive line has been banged up so far this year. The Seahawks must take advantage.

Use the tight ends

The Seahawks had success with their tight ends in the Week One win and then completely avoided them in the Week Two loss.

Getting them heavily involved this Sunday is not just a good idea; it is a critical key to success. Why?

Once again, let’s go to the numbers.

In 2020 the Vikings conceded an awful 12.3 yards per catch to tight ends. That was the next-to-last average in the NFL, beaten to the bottom only by the Jaguars at 12.6 yards per tight end catch.

How are the Vikings doing in 2021, you ask? Even worse. They have conceded 14 yards per catch, with four explosive plays in two games.

Did the Seahawks exploit this weakness in their game against the Vikings last year? Yes they did — but not nearly enough. 

Greg Olsen had one catch for twenty yards and Will Dissly had one catch for nineteen yards and a touchdown. 

Both of them only had one target each.

That is both bad and easy to fix.

There is another reason to involve the tight ends though — dominating the edges in the running game.

The Seahawks will need to focus a lot of offensive attention on those edges this Sunday. Why?

The Vikings have reinvested in their defensive interior and it is producing good results. Michael Pierce is one of the stoutest tackles out there and even had two sacks in Week One to add to his repertoire. 

If Michael Pierce’s name is familiar, it should be. He paired with Brandon Williams for the Ravens game against the Seahawks in Week Seven in 2019. He helped hold Chris Carson to 65 yards and held him under one yard or less on 8 of his runs. Four of those were in the first half and four in the second.

Now being paired with Dalvin Tomlinson, they are going to be a formidable match in the run game for Kyle Fuller.

Conversely, the Vikings are vulnerable on the edge. How about giving them a taste of their own medicine on offense there?

James Connor had 27 yards on 5 carries attacking the Viking defensive edges Sunday.

How did he do in between the tackles? Not good. He had -1 yard on 3 carries.

The Bengals exploited this vulnerability in Week One with Joe Mixon. He had runs to the edge of 8, 10, 12, and 19 yards. 

Let’s look at the tape on the 19 yard run. 

Watch the Bengals motion their tight end CJ Uzomah to the edge and completely seal it off with fantastic blocks to spring Mixon (also, pulling guard Xavier Su’a-Filo chipping one guy and blocking another is a treat):

This type of play is not beyond the Seahawks’ capability. They had several nice creative runs to the edge against the Colts. We need to see that creativity continue to blossom.

Stubbornly ramming the ball into the middle of the defense is just not advisable. Especially when there is an opponent’s vulnerability in other areas of the field and usable assets at tight end that have not been fully activated yet. The tight ends must be featured in this game to restore the offensive balance that the Seahawks lost Sunday against the Titans.

Attack the corners — both of them

Patrick Peterson has been getting some of that ‘he is not getting thrown at because he is so amazing’ shine for Minnesota so far this year. That is nice. 

But here is the real reason teams are not throwing his way:

Breeland has been absolutely dreadful so far this year. At one point he had a perfect quarterback rating allowed. Why would you not throw at him?

While Peterson is still a good player, he is not what he once was. In two games against the Seahawks last year for the Cardinals he conceded 130 yards, 2 touchdowns and a 119 passer rating. That includes that strange busted-play interception in Week Seven off of Russell Wilson.

The Seahawks need to be like Tyler Lockett in that very game.

The first offensive play of the game, Peterson thought he would be cheeky and jam Lockett at the line. Not only did he fail to move Lockett in the least, the force of the jam rocked Peterson himself out of position just slightly and Lockett and Russell Wilson took advantage for a thirty-four yard beauty that let the Cards know just what was coming.

Get off me. I got things to do.

This is the attitude the Seahawks need to bring to Sunday’s game.

Note — On Wednesday at 2pm (PST) Rob will be hosting a live stream with Jeff Simmons. You can tune in live via YouTube or the blog or watch on-demand. You can subscribe to the channel to never miss a video by clicking here.

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Some key talking points after the Tennessee meltdown

Monday, September 20th, 2021

Russell Wilson and the offense simply weren’t good enough in the second half

Are we seeing Russell Wilson’s limitations exposed?

Wilson is a phenomenal quarterback and nobody can argue otherwise. He’s destined for the Hall of Fame, he is immensely talented and he’s the main reason Seattle continues to chalk up winning season after winning season.

While ever Wilson is in Seattle, the Seahawks will always be in position to claim a winning record.

Yet this Titans game, paired with the end of last season, raises a concern.

The coordinator has changed but the same issues exist. Just as last year the offense would stutter and stall and have no way of getting out of a funk, the same thing happened against Tennessee.

When things spiral and start to go wrong, there’s seemingly no return.

Look at Ryan Tannehill yesterday. He was clearly aided by Derrick Henry’s running, for sure. But he was able to find the little checkdowns, take what was given and ultimately keep his offense on schedule.

Wilson is at his best throwing the deep ball and extending plays to make magic happen. Staying on time, getting the ball out quickly, working the middle — is he capable of doing the stuff you take for granted when a quarterback of his undoubted talent so often blinds you with dazzling downfield shots and making the improbable happen?

An offense with as many weapons as the Seahawks have shouldn’t be shuddering to a halt like it did yesterday. To only have one scoring drive in the second half — courtesy of a horrible blown coverage by the Titans — isn’t acceptable.

I fear we’re in a place now where Wilson’s personal ambition, to prove unequivocally that he’s one of the best of all time, requires him to play in a way that arguably doesn’t suit him. He wants to do some of the things the Drew Brees’ of this world found effortless but Wilson occasionally finds more of a challenge.

Essentially, he’s an improv and deep-ball specialist and really good at it. He does a lot of other things well too. But throwing the intermediate passes and playing a consistent timing/on script brand of football is more of a challenge.

To Wilson though, he needs to marry the two to get to where he wants to be. And maybe he can’t do it. Maybe, at some point, he’ll need to embrace what he is and isn’t.

You can change the coordinators but the same issues existed against Tennessee.

I can’t remember the Brees’ or Tom Brady’s ever having a stretch like Wilson had at the end of last season. And the fact it showed up in the second half again on Sunday is troublesome.

None of this is to diminish the extreme positives Wilson brings to the table. He’s an exceptional player and whatever happens in the rest of his career, he’ll be one of the all-time greats. He might be the prettiest deep-ball thrower of all time and he helped change the game in terms of how the NFL views quarterback size and mobility.

But yesterday’s game and the end to last season hints at road blocks for Wilson achieving the kind of world domination he hopes for. Too often, the stuttering and stalling has reared its head.

If the Seahawks and Wilson don’t find a way to stop that happening — and if they ultimately don’t move forward this season and go further than they have in previous years — then a mutual parting becomes increasingly likely.

How much longer will Pete Carroll go on?

Although many are prepared to dismiss what happened with Wilson and his apparent openness to a trade last off-season, it takes a serious suspension of reality to think that if the Seahawks don’t take a step forward in 2021, old wounds won’t re-open.

And if that’s the case, part of me wonders how Carroll will feel.

Does he really want to be the coach who oversees Wilson’s departure from Seattle? Does he really want to engage in a rebuild of the roster aged 70?

Cast your mind back to 2017 when things got ugly and the Seahawks were blown out by the Rams. Facing a reset in the off-season, Jay Glazer went on Fox Sports before the final game of the year and said the following:

“It’s gonna be Pete’s decision whether or not he moves on, they could be in a rebuilding year here, but Pete may or may not actually retire.”

Albert Breer had already written the following in the lead up to week 17:

“Crazy? Maybe. But with the future of several big defensive stars in question, and a possible overhaul of the roster coming, could Pete Carroll, 66, retire to southern California? It’s not the wildest idea out there.”

Carroll tweeted in reaction to this talk to say he wouldn’t be retiring. However, Glazer is not an unreliable reporter. He never actually said Carroll ‘would’ retire either. He simply suggested it was on the table.

Generally you don’t throw stuff out there like that as a reporter unless you’ve heard something. It wouldn’t be a major surprise if Carroll at least considered it at the time.

That talk was also emerging with Carroll only a year removed from signing a contract extension which had two years left to run.

I’m not predicting anything here, simply offering this as a talking point. If there are many more performances like Sunday — and if the Seahawks don’t take a step forward in 2021 — I don’t think it’s beyond the realms of possibility that Carroll at least considers what he wants to do.

After all, he doesn’t owe anyone anything. Whatever happens from here, he’ll be a Seahawks legend who is much loved in Seattle. He’s a Hall of Fame candidate.

But if he was considering his options ahead of the reset in 2018 — I’m pretty sure he might do so again if the franchise is entering a period where they might be making even bigger changes.

The problem with the defense

One of the refreshing things about the Shane Waldron appointment was it came from outside of Carroll’s circle of trust. It provided some hope that maybe he’d be willing to cede some control.

Defensively however, the coordinator is very much one of the boys for Carroll.

Perhaps influenced by an improved second half to the 2020 season, there was never even any talk of Ken Norton Jr losing his job. Yet the powder-puff schedule played as big a part as anything in their ‘success’ — a situation put into perspective when the Seahawks played the Rams and were hammered by a thumbless Jared Goff.

Yesterday against the Titans was a throwback to the problems of last season. The Seahawks gave up major yardage, provided no resistance and couldn’t hold onto a big lead.

It felt like the New England, Dallas and Arizona games all over again. The offense puts points on the board but then stalls, then the defense capitulates under immense pressure.

Carroll referred to the amount of yards they gave up last season in a press conference recently. He suggested it was a freakish situation. An anomaly.

Yet look at Tennessee’s yardage compared to the other games at the start of 2020:

Atlanta — 506
New England — 464
Dallas — 522
Minnesota — 449
Arizona — 519
Buffalo — 420
LA Rams — 389

Tennessee — 532

I’ve long thought Carroll should take on the role of figurehead rather than controller. I think he should’ve self-scouted and read the tea leaves. He is a master motivator who delivers a terrific culture and environment.

Scheming, game-management and details are not his forté.

Appointing specialist coordinators to run the offense and defense and taking on a role as the man overseeing from afar felt like a good idea. It’s what Nick Saban has done in Alabama. Yet rather than delegate, Carroll doubled down on control last year as things started to go south.

The Waldron appointment was encouraging but with the same issues emerging on offense, you have to wonder if Carroll has truly taken the training wheels off his bike.

After all, when quizzed last week for an example of a play Waldron had introduced in the Colts game, Carroll instead praised his coordinator for his willingness to retain aspects of the old offense. It was a bizarre answer.

Defensively, the Carroll and Norton Jr combo remains unconvincing and uninspiring. And while people have been celebrating (and overstating, for me) the D-line depth and the pieces available — the unit is still far too easy to play against. Even in front of a raucous home crowd.

Admittedly it doesn’t help when you reflect on how they’ve constructed this defense. As we’ve talked about so much — massive investment at safety and linebacker is a head-scratcher. And if you’re going to spend two first rounders and a third, plus $17.5m a year, on a safety — you hope for game-changing quality.

Yet it’s so difficult for a safety to provide that. When you have a top-class pass rusher, they are in 1v1 situations all the time. How often do you see a great defensive lineman take over a game? Maybe even win you a game? The best in the business have a knack for it.

For a safety it’s so much harder to impact games. In the case of Jamal Adams, the team and the player himself feel obliged to try and manufacture impact.

On the long touchdown run for Derrick Henry yesterday, Adams aggressively attacked inside. Tennessee’s running back just had to bounce it outside and even if Tre Flowers’ positioning was better than it was, I’m not backing him in a 1v1 vs Henry.

When your safety is attacking the backfield, there’s always a danger something like this can happen. And you can’t help but wonder how Kam Chancellor would’ve been used there without the pressure to justify the price-tag and game-changer tag?

Chancellor never blitzed. Sadly, only in our minds can we imagine what a Chancellor vs Henry battle for contain would look like. I’m convinced he would’ve made a different decision to Adams — or wouldn’t have been given the freedom to do what Adams did.

The explanation of the Henry touchdown from both Head Coach and player was frustrating:

Isn’t it just a perfect representation of the Seahawks right now? Carroll reaching for a play from the expensive safety and revving him up too much. Only for Adams to make a bad decision, one he’s totally oblivious towards it seems, giving Tennessee an opportunity to change the game.

There will be games this season, no doubt, where Adams tries something and it comes off and we’ll have a week of media and fans alike talking about his brilliance. 100% that will happen.

Yet it’s the need to manufacture situations where if the gamble doesn’t come off, you get badly caught, that highlight the issue with Adams.

The Seahawks have invested so much in him and feel like they need to get a return on that investment. Utilising him this way in Carroll’s system (tweaked or not) is so majorly boom-or-bust.

It’s too late to do anything about it now but the Seahawks really should’ve thanked Ken Norton Jr for his efforts in January and moved on. Then they should’ve appointed someone with a background in the schemes where Adams succeeded in New York under Todd Bowles and Gregg Williams.

If you want to max out the investment here, isn’t that the best thing to do?

And Carroll should’ve been willing to take a backseat and let two new coordinators run things, while he concentrated on what he’s best at. Culture and motivating.

Quick hitting questions & notes post-Tennessee

— Why do the Seahawks’ staff so often lose the game of adjustments?

— Why do the Seahawks keep investing in tight ends only to struggle to involve them consistently in the passing game?

— How did the Seahawks not create more problems with their pass rush given the Titans O-line was in a state of total decimation?

— How did they go into an off-season knowing they had an issue at cornerback, only to emerge with Tre Flowers beginning the season as a starter? Flowers played 100% of the snaps on Sunday.

— Why are the Seahawks so average at home? They’re 21-13 at Lumen Field since 2017. That isn’t good enough.

— Why did Carroll suddenly decide to ‘teach a lesson’ to Jordyn Brooks for his late-hit penalty? Is that a thing he does now? Doesn’t he have to be consistent with that moving forward? For example, does DJ Reed need to be benched after his taunting penalty? I’m not sure why you take out a first round pick to play Cody Barton just to prove a point mid-game.

— For what it’s worth, Barton had the worst PFF grade on the team from his 11 snaps yesterday. Brooks had the second worst grade on defense — closely followed by Marquise Blair, Darrell Taylor and Tre Flowers.

— Why did Carlos Dunlap play only 30% of the defensive snaps against Tennessee? Is he really that much worse in run defense than Rasheem Green (64%) and Benson Mayowa (65%)? Given they gave up 212 rushing yards, that would suggest he isn’t. And why did Alton Robinson play fewer snaps than LJ Collier?

— Jamal Adams’ PFF grade last season was 64.2. So far this year he’s graded at 70.7 (Colts) and 63.6 (Titans). Is this just what he is in Seattle? He also blitzed nine times against Tennessee — right around the mark he was blitzing a year ago.

— Kyle Fuller had an offense-worst 36.4 grade according to PFF. How did the Seahawks end up in a situation where he’s starting at center?

— Doesn’t it already feel inevitable that this season will end in a similar fashion to the last five and we’re now just slow-dancing to the end, having the same conversations as we go along, waiting to experience the same off-season debate and drama we had last year?

— Are ownership actively looking to sell, as was reported a year ago? An update on this situation would be welcome. And if not, what exactly is the long-term plan for the franchise short of ceding power and control to Carroll and hoping for the best?

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