Archive for October, 2021

Instant reaction: Seahawks blow out terrible Jaguars

Sunday, October 31st, 2021

The Jacksonville Jaguars played this game like they’d all been on one of Urban Meyer’s ‘special’ nights out on Saturday.

‘Dreadful’ hardly feels like a strong enough word to describe them. It’s Hallowe’en, not Christmas. Yet this was a gift for the Seahawks. A free win to take into the bye, avoiding a fortnight of questions about the future of the franchise.

Seattle didn’t even have to play that well to get a blowout win. They had only 229 total yards — 80 fewer than Jacksonville’s 309. The Jags had 12 penalties for 93 yards, a 1-4 conversion rate on fourth down and their general ineptitude made this a fairly bland, dull encounter. I think I averaged three yawns per carry myself.

Pete Carroll and co. will be able to talk up a corner being turned. And some may well decide to believe it. The schedule will be poured over. What if they win this game or that? What if Russell Wilson returns for the Green Bay game?

The reality is the Seahawks played a disgusting opponent today and face the Packers and Arizona next. Even with Wilson rushing back, this is arguably the two toughest games they’ll face coming right after the bye.

Anyway. That’s a conversation for another day. It was good to see a win and some points. Initially I was glad to see the game-plan, too.

The Seahawks offered some creative thinking in their formations early on. They were aggressive on first and second down by featuring D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett. They didn’t just run into a brick-wall like they did last week three times in a row then punt.

Yet the more I thought about this, the more frustrated I became.

Where was this last week? Or even against the Steelers?

I’m going to ignore the Pittsburgh game. It was the first one without Wilson and a period of adjustment was to be expected.

Yet against the Saints, the game-plan was so mind-numbingly conservative. They were the total opposite of aggressive on first and second down. They did nothing to feature their two stars at receiver. They were boring.

The Seahawks played not to lose. They played to keep it close and a field goal-type game.

It’s OK being big and bold against a hopeless opponent when you’re desperate. Why not use this plan last week?

Just because you have a backup playing doesn’t mean you give up on offense. Heck, the Saints took it to the Super Bowl champs today with Trevor Siemian replacing Jameis Winston in the first half.

This is what frustrates so many people about Carroll, including — I suspect — Russell Wilson.

Take the bloody handbrake off. Get your foot down.

So yeah. Great to see it against the Jags. Would’ve been nice to ask the Saints a few more questions a week ago too.

The other lasting thought I had from this game is that while the Seahawks certainly aren’t a good team without Wilson, they’re at least not a really, really bad team.

The Jaguars look absolutely useless under Urban Meyer’s leadership and they should make major changes in the off-season to salvage their fortune in being able to draft Trevor Lawrence.

And while acknowledging the Seahawks ‘aren’t as bad as the Jags’ isn’t saying much, I did think today was further evidence that Seattle can turn things around quickly in the off-season if they make the necessary changes and shift resource to the trenches.

In particular, just look at Metcalf and Lockett. Two incredible assets. Darrell Taylor makes a splash play every game and brings light to an otherwise rubbish pass rush.

They are the future building blocks, along with the franchise quarterback.

Now, as noted in Friday’s piece, it’s time to get Seattle’s answer to Matt LaFleur.

One final thing. It’s the trade deadline next week. If anyone has any old socks they don’t want, the Seahawks will take them for Rashaad Penny and L.J. Collier.

Penny is absolutely terrible, isn’t he? He’s basically out of football but, you know, still sort of playing. He had seven carries for seven yards today, after nine yards from six carries against New Orleans.

Just cut him and promote someone from the practise squad.

As for Collier. It’s one thing to be bad. He’s now been inactive six out of eight games.

The only thing worse than this pair is the NFL’s awful ‘taunting’ and ‘roughing the passer’ rules that are ruining the sport.

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Why the Seahawks need their Matt LaFleur

Friday, October 29th, 2021

Matt LaFleur is 33-7 in his first 40 games, setting a NFL record

The parallels between the Seahawks and Packers are striking.

Mike McCarthy was the Head Coach in Green Bay for 12 years. He won a Super Bowl in 2010 and could’ve won more.

The one person who could relate to Pete Carroll after the Super Bowl loss in 2014 was probably McCarthy. He likely relives that NFC Championship game as much as Carroll does the ill-fated interception on the goal-line.

McCarthy’s overall record with the Packers was 125-77-2. He deserves to be recognised as a success story.

Yet by the end of his tenure things had clearly gone stale.

His long-tenured defensive coordinator, Dom Capers, had become a figure of fun. He was pushing 70 and the game seemed to pass his schemes by as Green Bay struggled to combat the suddenly popular read-option.

In 2017 Aaron Rodgers missed nine games through injury as things began to unravel.

In McCarthy’s final season they toiled to a 4-7-1 record before he was fired.

Change was needed. It was simply time.

The Packers did the trendy thing and appointed a Sean McVay protégé who had detached himself from the Rams to take a gig as the Titans offensive coordinator. He suitably impressed and Matt LaFleur was the man tasked with modernising the Green Bay offense.

The GM set about fixing a defense that had struggled badly to rush the passer. They added Za’Darius and Preston Smith in free agency. They also wisely spent high draft picks on Elgton Jenkins and Josh Myers and prioritised keeping star left tackle David Bakhtiari.

In LaFleur’s first season they went 13-3 and made the NFC Championship game. They repeated the act in 2020. Now they’ve started 7-1.

His 33-7 record is the best through 40 games of any coach in Super Bowl era.

Rodgers won MVP last season and is in the running to do so again in 2021. The team is a major contender in the NFC for the third straight year.

I’ve read so much about the Seahawks needing to blow everything up. They’ll need three years to sort this out. They should trade Russell Wilson.

There is zero evidence for this.

The Seahawks simply need to take a page out of Green Bay’s book.

Back to those parallels. This is Carroll’s 12th season in Seattle, putting him in the McCarthy range. He has a similar record (114-68-1).

Wilson is enduring an injury-hit season as Rodgers did and the regular season record is suffering. For Dom Capers, see Ken Norton Jr (or even Carroll himself).

As with McCarthy’s Packers, Carroll’s Seahawks have gone stale.

They need to find their LaFleur.

Then they need to make a similar commitment to the trenches and make a splash there. If that means shifting resources from other positions, so be it.

They need to modernise their schemes and overall game-planning and get with the times.

If they do all of this, why can’t they compete again quickly in the same way the Packers did? They went from 6-9-1 to 13-3 in one off-season. They’ve been to two NFC Championship games. Their quarterback is the MVP.

This is what Wilson wants for Seattle.

Much has been made of his head being turned by Tom Brady’s run to another Championship. It might be time for his people to start talking to their media buddies about Seattle emulating the Packers. It’s an achievable aim for this franchise and it’ll get him to where he wants to go.

There is, of course, one thing the Seahawks need to do differently. Having put in place so many positive moves to return to contention — the Packers GM Brian Gutekunst pulled off the most petty, little-man syndrome move imaginable.

Just as things were clicking — and with Rodgers practically pleading for the team to draft help at receiver — Gutekunst decided to show who’s boss by drafting a prospective replacement quarterback instead.

That, in turn, provoked the drama we witnessed all year with Rodgers threatening to leave or retire. And after all that, it’s pretty clear Green Bay’s current status as contender is directly tied to the genius playing quarterback.

It was a truly ridiculous powerplay by the GM when everyone knows Rodgers is king in Wisconsin. Win a ring with him and take the plaudits, don’t start an unnecessary civil war.

Meanwhile, Jordan Love is nearly half-way through his rookie deal. So they’re not even likely to benefit financially for very long if/when he becomes the starter. And did his talent even warrant the pick?

The Seahawks should avoid that at all costs and mimic everything else.

Get a Head Coach who can build an offense that is progressive, fresh and designed to make the most of the star quarterback and your collection of weapons. Let’s see some new ideas on defense too. Invest in the trenches.

You can do this in one off-season, even without a first round pick. The road back to the top doesn’t need to be a long, slow process.

Emulate the Packers.

The Seahawks need to go and get their Matt LaFleur.

Note — I posted this article on the same day as Curtis Allen’s week-eight watch-notes. Curtis does a great job with his weekly breakdowns. Please check out his article by clicking here.

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Curtis Allen’s week eight watch points (vs Jaguars)

Friday, October 29th, 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…

Looking at the schedule before the season started, Week Eight against the Jacksonville Jaguars had the look of a classic trap game. A lesser-talented opponent who is breaking in a new quarterback and coaching staff and just looking to prove they belong in the NFL. Plus they’re travelling across the country to do it.

Those were fonder times.

Now, with the Seahawks currently riding a three-game losing streak after losing two winnable games, this Jaguars team suddenly seems much more threatening. 

No one should be taking them for granted. Pete Carroll’s language at his press conferences is getting more stilted by the week. He knows the hole the Seahawks are in. A playoff spot hangs in the balance from every game here on out.

Even then, major changes seem inevitable.

For this week though, how can the Seahawks find success against this upstart team? Let’s dig in to this week’s watch points…

Special Teams must pull their weight

They were a strength last year. 

This season, they are barely passable. That has had a much bigger effect on the teams’ success than it normally would, with the inconsistency experienced on both offense and defense shaking the foundations of the team.

We know all about Jason Myers’ struggles with kicking for points. 

Despite all the frustrations with the offense and the occasional defensive breakdown on Monday, Myers makes those two field goal tries and the Seahawks are 3-4 instead of 2-5.

One area that is also different in 2021 is on kickoffs. Myers is on pace for only 23 touchbacks on kickoffs. Last year he had 52 touchbacks.

It would appear it is not a leg strength issue for Myers but a deliberate strategy to make the returner bring the ball out and use the coverage units to keep them from starting at the 25-yard line. This year, they are allowing 18.64 yards per kick return — good for twelfth in the league. Last year they were at 21.45 per return, good for twentieth in the league.

For this game they would be well-advised to kick it out of the end zone on kickoffs and take the touchback.

Jamal Agnew is returning kicks at an NFL-best 27.73 yards per return this year.  He has a 102-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, as well as a 109-yard missed field goal return for a touchdown:

The Seahawks cannot afford to give the Jaguars any cheap points or momentum. Kick it out of the end zone and concede the five extra yards.

Speaking of touchbacks, Michael Dickson is not having a good season. He is currently on pace for 17 touchbacks this season.

How different is that compared to past seasons?  He had a total of 16 touchbacks in the previous three seasons combined.

That is a major reason why he is not among the league leaders in raw punt yards and net yards this season. 

What is the problem?

It is a combination of challenges. The punt coverage team has failed to down the ball deep more than once, letting it flutter into the end zone for a touchback and costing the team 15-18 yards. 

Dickson’s aim and touch do not seem to be as pinpoint accurate as they have in the past. 

It would also appear that Pete Carroll is calling punts in opposition territory even more frequently this year. In the Pittsburgh game, the Seahawks twice were in position for either a long field goal try or a fourth down gamble but Carroll chose to punt. Both punts resulted in touchbacks, which only netted the Seahawks about 18-20 yards each and failed to pin the Steelers offense deep.

The team badly needs better results from their Special Teams unit.

Attack the defense with the tight ends

Jacksonville is hands down the worst team in the NFL at defending tight ends so far this season.

Myles Jack is conceding a 144.8 rating in coverage. Damien Wilson is allowing a 129.4 rating. Combined, they are giving up 9.81 yards per target.

Nearly every week this season the Jaguars are allowing opposing tight ends to have career-best days. Among them:

-Week One:  Pharaoh Brown (4-67-0TD) for Houston

-Week Four:  C.J. Uzomah (5-95-2TD) for Cincinnati

-Week Six:  Mike Gesicki (8-115-0TD) for Miami

Watch Uzomah abusing Myles Jack:

The Seahawks must take advantage of this weakness.

It appears to start with allowing tight ends free releases and then progresses to having plenty of room to find soft pockets in their zones.

The Seahawks have capable tight ends in Gerald Everett, Will Dissly and Colby Parkinson. It is inexcusable that they have not leaned on them more in the recent past, particularly since Russell Wilson was injured. 

The offense has so many challenges. Getting the tight ends more involved would give the whole team some momentum.

Will Geno Smith have enough time to find the tight ends from the pocket?

Yes, he will.

Jacksonville is currently fielding one of the NFL’s worst pass rushes. They have eight sacks and 51 pressures in six games so far. Only three teams in the entire NFL have worse numbers than the Jaguars in pass rushing.

As a result, the defense is next to last in the NFL in passing yards conceded, giving up 297.8 yards per game this season.

Jacksonville is practically sending the Seahawks an engraved invitation to use their tight ends this week. The coaching staff must give the offense some executable plays to exploit this advantage.

Sidetrack Trevor Lawrence’s progression for one game

Lawrence is on the rise and has been playing like a top overall pick in recent games.

The turnaround has been truly impressive. After testing out his aggression early and seeing how good NFL defenses are (nine turnovers in his first three games) he has found a rhythm and is no longer hurting his team (only two turnovers in his next three games – one of those a desperation heave that was intercepted).

In that same stretch of games his accuracy has improved markedly (54% to 66%).

Both Offensive Coordinator Darrell Bevell and Quarterbacks Coach Brian Schottenheimer have spoken openly in recent weeks about the level of trust that Lawrence has earned with his practice habits and game play. They even have him calling protections at the line of scrimmage — just six weeks into his NFL career.

His mobility has been a big asset for the offense. He is gaining 4.65 yards per rush and he is one of the least-sacked quarterbacks in the NFL due to his release and his ability to scramble and throw on the run.

This has been noted by Schottenheimer:

“I think he’s one of the best pure throwers on the run that I’ve ever been around in my career. So I think he’s right on track.”

High praise from someone who worked with Russell Wilson very recently.

Watch this beauty:

That throw had Troy Aikman drooling. Lawrence senses trouble to his right, moves around in the pocket and with a pass rusher coming from his left, puts the ball in a narrow spot with a throw that requires the holy trinity of passing skills — arm strength, accuracy and touch.

So where can the Seahawk defense challenge Lawrence?

Like many young players who enter the league with a flourish, Lawrence can produce spectacular highlights but struggles at times with the simple plays. Short passes that require the timing and precision have been a challenge for Lawrence.

His “Bad Throw Percentage” per Pro Football Reference is at 23.3% year to date — one of the worst in the NFL right next to fellow rookies Justin Fields (24.6%) and Zach Wilson (23.9%).

Miami forced him into 24% bad throws in his last game by blitzing fifteen times. So, while he has a good head on his shoulders and can make plays, he has yet to put it all together. That can play into the Seahawks’ hands if they game plan and make good adjustments in the game.

The defense needs to continue the steady coverage precision that the cornerbacks have found in recent weeks. Keeping Lawrence away from easy yards off his first read will be a key to bottling up the talent and aggression he has.

One way to apply pressure is by putting more of the game in his hands…

Keep James Robinson under wraps

Robinson has emerged as a lead running back and workhorse for the Jaguars after going undrafted in 2020.

He averaged over 100 yards of offense last year, the only rookie running back to do so. NFL players recognized his value and contribution to the Jaguars by ranking him #100 in the annual Top-100 Players in the NFL poll after only one season:

This year he is even better — averaging a terrific 5.5 yards per carry so far. He is being well-supported in the running game by the Jacksonville offensive line, with an average of 3.0 yards before contact. He is also not letting defenders consistently stop him cold, gaining an average of 2.5 yards after contact. Both of those numbers are in the top-10 in the NFL for running backs.

Have a look at some highlight clips from this season:

Robinson is clearly a versatile runner — equally comfortable attacking the edges or running inside with toughness. He may not be spectacular but he has enough vision and physicality to put a dent in the defense. He has carved himself an impressive NFL career to date for an undrafted player.

We know what Darrell Bevel and Brian Schottenheimer’s style is at this point. Run to set up the pass and other movement parts of the offensive game.

He is good at making the first man miss in both the running game and catching passes. Expect the Jaguars to feed him generously in this game, particularly given how much success Alvin Kamara and Najee Harris had in the last two games against the Seahawks.

Both were limited in what they could do on the ground but found seams and broke tackles in the short passing game to exploit the Seahawks’ defense and keep their quarterbacks from carrying a burden they were not capable of.

The Seahawks have improved defensively but they need to keep progressing.

D.J. Reed has been a fantastic tackler in the run game. Ryan Neal, Jamal Adams, and Jordyn Brooks could all take a lesson from Reed and up their games in this area. Wrap up and take him down hard.

Getting low will be a challenge when you are trying to tackle a guy who is 5’9”. That is where Robinson excels – he does not present you a big target to get your hands on yet is strong enough in his lower body to churn ahead and break tackles. Is the defense up to the challenge?

Trevor Lawrence is quickly filling out that uniform and is on his way to becoming a force at quarterback and Robinson is a major balancing piece to keep as much pressure off Lawrence as possible at this stage.

They cannot allow Robinson to control the tempo of the game. He will get his touches in both the passing and running game. How many yards he gains is entirely up to the day the tacklers have.

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Why Russell Wilson’s salary is not holding back the Seahawks

Thursday, October 28th, 2021

Russell Wilson’s salary is not holding back the Seahawks — bad drafting and roster construction is

How often do you hear the following argument:

You can’t pay a quarterback top dollar and succeed in the NFL

It’s become football rhetoric. It’s an argument we increasingly see among Seahawks fans and media too.

Russell Wilson is earning too much and therefore the Seahawks can’t contend.

It’s not totally without merit. Only three times in the last 15 years has the Super Bowl winning quarterback been among the top-five highest paid.

Yet that stat fails to recognise that success can’t simply be defined by the one single quarterback who lifts the trophy. What about the three others who reached the AFC and NFC Championship games and otherwise had outstanding seasons?

It’s hardly a counter to paying an expensive quarterback if, say, the highest paid signal caller came up a game short or suffered tremendous misfortune in the final four. And how significant is the pay difference between the top-five highest paid and say the sixth or seventh highest paid, if they go on to win a Championship?

Yet increasingly counter arguments are not voiced to oppose the growing sentiment of success equating to cheap rookie contracts at the most important position in pro sport.

I’m going to try and push back a little today.

Here’s the short argument. Let’s say Wilson turned to the Seahawks and said he was going to take a dramatic $15m pay cut. His average salary would drop to $20m a year. That would make him the 16th highest paid quarterback in the league.

What exactly does that $15m get you? Is the difference between the Seahawks being highly competitive and a legit contender $15m in extra cap space?

It wouldn’t have been enough to sign Trent Williams ($23m a year) —’s top non-QB free agent for 2021. You would’ve had just enough to out-spend Green Bay for Aaron Jones ($12m) but would you really want to spend that much on a running back?

Trey Hendrickson’s contract with the Bengals is worth $15m a year. So technically you could’ve signed him. He’s playing very well for Cincinnati but is he alone the difference between a good and great team?

You could of course add three players worth $5m. What exactly does $5m a player get you these days? After all, Bruce Irvin was on more than that last year. Benson Mayowa’s contract is worth $3.8m.

The point I’m getting at here is even if your franchise quarterback takes a massive, unrealistic pay cut — the salary cap space you create alone isn’t really a difference maker. It doesn’t present you with an opportunity to create an all-star team. You’d have just enough to add one high-profile free agent, probably of a reasonable standard. Or you can invest a bit in your depth but you might just end up adding three fairly average players.

The cost of Wilson’s salary is not the issue here. It’s 100% to do with intelligent use of resources with whatever you have available — whether your QB is on $35m a year or a rookie contract.

The Seahawks had ample resources to create a highly successful team from the 2018 reset onwards. They simply did a bad job in the draft and free agency.

For example, Seattle spent $58.25m on the following list of players during the 2020 off-season:

Jarran Reed $9.35m
Greg Olsen $6.9m
Bruce Irvin $5.9m
Carlos Hyde $4m
B.J. Finney $3.5m
Brandon Shell $3.475m
Quinton Dunbar $3.421m
Jacob Hollister $3.259m
Benson Mayowa $3.018m
Mike Iupati $2.5m
Cedric Obuehi $2.237m
Joey Hunt $2.1m
Branden Jackson $2.1m
David Moore $2.1m
Geno Smith $887,500
Neiko Thorpe $887,500
Luke Willson $887,500
Phillip Dorsett $887,500
Chance Warmack $887,500

They then spent two future first round picks and a third round pick on Jamal Adams.

That is massive investment. It’s eye-watering.

How can anyone say $58.25m plus two future first round picks isn’t enough to craft a successful team when you already have the likes of Wilson, D.K. Metcalf, Tyler Lockett, Duane Brown, Bobby Wagner and Quandre Diggs under contract?

How exactly is Wilson’s deal holding you back here?

On top of that, they started the 2018 and 2019 drafts with three total first round picks. They eventually used those picks on Rashaad Penny, L.J. Collier and Marquise Blair. All busts.

So even with Wilson on an enormous extension, they’ve had so much to spend to build a contender. Again — the problem isn’t a lack of resource. It’s the total misuse of the picks and money they’ve had.

They spent $11.796m on David Moore, Branden Jackson, Joey Hunt, Cedric Ogbuehi and Jacob Hollister a year ago.

They invested $12.8m in Greg Olsen (35 years-old) and Bruce Irvin (33-years-old) and got nothing out of it. Irvin received a 32% pay increase on his 2019 salary in Carolina.

They preferred to spread their cap space on three offensive linemen (B.J. Finney, Cedric Ogbuehi and Brandon Shell) instead of investing in all-pro right tackle Jack Conklin — who earned $8m last year in a starring role for Cleveland. His salary never tops $14m with the Browns.

You don’t need me to say any more about Jamal Adams and the draft investment wasted on him, not to mention the $17.5m a year they’re now committed to.

It really is as simple as this. Had the Seahawks spent their money and picks wisely — they could easily be a top contender in the NFC right now. The size of Wilson’s contract is a total moot point. It hasn’t restricted them at all. And with the cap likely to rise rapidly over the coming years, it probably won’t restrict them in the future either.

This is the same for any team — whether you have a cheap rookie quarterback or a seasoned veteran. It all comes down to team building.

The Bengals finished 4-11-1 last season even with Joe Burrow having a successful rookie season (before he got hurt). They have elevated to one of the top teams in the AFC in 2021 by continuing to make wise decisions in free agency and the draft.

They made the right call to select Ja’Marr Chase. They’ve invested in emerging defensive linemen. They’ve added pieces to their O-line to a point where it can be serviceable. They’ve retained core players and allowed other ageing players to leave.

They’ve also embraced current NFL trends and structured their game-plans around what is generally considered to be modern-day progressive thinking.

Their success isn’t predicated on the fact Burrow’s salary is only $9m this year. Their success is built on good personnel decisions, team building and philosophy.

And guess what? They have $10m in unspent cap space. So for the purpose of this argument, let’s just give it to Joe Burrow. Now he’s on $19m this year. Now let’s take Tyler Boyd and his $9m salary. Boyd has 329 yards (53rd in the NFL) and one touchdown this season. Let’s cut him and give another $9m to Burrow. Now he’s on near enough $30m.

Are they any worse? Is the difference between Cincinnati succeeding and not succeeding the 53rd ranked receiver in the league? Their #3 guy?

The fact that there’s $10m in unused salary and $9m invested in Boyd proves how much of a fallacy ‘quarterback pay’ is when it comes to determining the potential for success. You can bump Burrow’s salary to $30m by removing one player. Even the teams with good rookie QB’s are likely not using all their cap space or they’re wasting millions on other players.

The Bengals are trending upwards because they’ve made good personnel decisions. The Seahawks are trending downwards because they’ve made bad personnel decisions.

It’s as simple as that.

There are two other arguments I want to make.

Firstly, the idea of trading Wilson to replenish stock and then trying to find another quarterback in the draft is one I struggle with a lot. I don’t think people realise how difficult this is, not to mention how tricky it’ll be to actually turn those picks into good players (especially with the 2022 draft class looking pretty horrendous).

Let’s look at every quarterback taken in the first two rounds since Wilson’s 2012 draft class:


EJ Manuel — #16 overall

Geno Smith — #39 overall


Blake Bortles — #3 overall

Johnny Manziel — #22 overall

Teddy Bridgewater — #32 overall

Derek Carr — #36 overall


Jameis Winston — #1 overall

Marcus Mariota — #2 overall

In this three year spell alone, eight quarterbacks were taken in the first two rounds. Only Derek Carr was worth having — and he’s squarely in the second tier of NFL quarterbacks.


Jared Goff — #1 overall

Carson Wentz — #2 overall

Paxton Lynch — #26 overall

Christian Hackenburg — #51 overall


Mitchell Trubisky — #2 overall

Patrick Mahomes — #10 overall

Deshaun Watson — #12 overall

Deshone Kizer — #52

The interesting thing about these two drafts is Goff and Wentz were seen as ‘sure things’ yet amounted to average quarterbacks at best. Lynch and Hackenburg were both titanic busts.

In 2017, clearly Mahomes and Watson have reached elite standards. Yet Kizer was seen by many pundits as a prospective #1 overall pick for large parts of the 2015 and 2016 college seasons and Trubisky was viewed as an emerging star.

And as good as Mahomes and Watson are, there are four humongous disasters in these two years alone.


Baker Mayfield — #1 overall

Sam Darnold — #3 overall

Josh Allen — #8 overall

Josh Rosen — #10 overall

Lamar Jackson — #32 overall

This was seen as an all-time draft class in 2018. Mayfield has been so-so and the Browns must be wondering whether he’s worth a big second contract. Darnold is on his second team and was just benched mid-game. Rosen has been a disaster.

Josh Allen and Lamar Jackson have been sensational — yet they were the third and fifth quarterbacks taken. This shows how difficult it is to identify the true quality available.


Kyler Murray — #1 overall

Daniel Jones — #6 overall

Dwayne Haskins — #15 overall

Drew Lock — #42 overall


Joe Burrow — #1 overall

Tua Tagovailoa — #5 overall

Justin Herbert — #6 overall

Jordan Love — #26 overall

Jalen Hurts — #53 overall

I am not including the 2021 draft class because it’s too early to judge them.

Exactly 30 quarterbacks were drafted between 2013-2020. Of that group, you can argue eight truly justified the picks used on them.

That’s a 26% success rate. Or in other words, history says you’ve got a 74% chance of making a bad investment at quarterback in the first two rounds.

The concept of getting rid of a quarterback of the quality of Wilson to enter a situation where you are trying to buy lottery tickets to get one of the 26%-ers is frightening. What’s more, five of the eight who justified their draft placing were taken in the top-10. So unless you have a top-five pick, or even the #1 overall pick, the chances are you simply won’t be in position to get the success story from a given draft class.

And of course there’s always the chance you hit on a Wilson or Dak Prescott beyond the first two rounds. That’s even rarer though than hitting with an early pick.

Let’s also not forget about Seattle’s other hand-selected quarterbacks in the Carroll era. They traded a third round pick and dropped down considerably in round two to acquire Charlie Whitehurst. They signed Tarvaris Jackson and Matt Flynn. Aside from Wilson, the only other pick they’ve spent on the position was a seventh rounder on Alex McGough.

It’s a horrible list.

Moving on from Wilson wouldn’t be a great opportunity to get cheaper at the position. It’d be a great opportunity to be a bad team — scrambling around looking for answers, constantly being undermined by your quarterback play.

See: the Denver Broncos

The only way you could justify it would be with the following:

1. You own the #1 draft pick where you are guaranteed to draft someone you have unquestioned faith in (a Trevor Lawrence type)

2. You immediately trade for a veteran of a similar quality — thus ending up in the same situation with a highly paid veteran on the roster

Again, trading Wilson isn’t the answer. Using the resources you actually have in the correct way is the key. Every team is looking for a Wilson-level starter. You don’t want to join the list of have-nots. It’s taken the Chicago Bears decades to find a franchise quarterback and they’re still looking.

The final argument I want to make is about the record of storied quarterbacks. It’s often stated, correctly, that Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees only have one Super Bowl ring each. This is lazily used to backup the point that expensive veteran quarterbacks can’t win.

Here’s the reality…

Aaron Rodgers has been in five NFC Championship games. The reason the Packers are 1-4 in those games is not down to Rodgers or his contract. Only one NFC team gets to make the Super Bowl. They’ve been beaten by rampaging Atlanta and San Francisco teams (both of which had paid high salaries to Matt Ryan and Jimmy Garoppolo). They were obviously very unfortunate against Seattle. A year ago, they blew a big opportunity to beat Tampa Bay due to errors and poor game management.

The Packers should have been in more Super Bowls. The reason they haven’t been is so much more nuanced than ‘Rodgers has a big contract’.

Now let’s look at the Saints. Drew Brees competed in three NFC Championship games, with a 1-2 record. They had a three-year run of the wildest misfortune any team could ever experience between 2017-19:

2018 — the Minnesota Miracle

2019 — botched DPI call gifts the Rams a win

2020 — heartbreaking overtime loss to the Vikings with a suspicious game-winning TD

Again, New Orleans’ playoff history is a lot more nuanced than simply asserting Brees was expensive therefore the Saints didn’t win a Super Bowl.

I suspect we’re all being influenced by two things. The CBA change in 2011 that created cheaper rookie contracts combining with the modern phenomena of a small number of young quarterbacks succeeding very early in their careers.

The NFL has changed. While it’s still very evident that some young quarterbacks struggle when they turn pro (as we’re seeing in 2021) — the transition for some hasn’t been as difficult.

By year two or three, quarterbacks are thriving. This enables a team to benefit with 2-3 years of cheap value at the position before — as we’ve seen with Mahomes and Allen — those players are paid record-breaking deals.

Yet there are two things to remember here.

Firstly, that value doesn’t last very long. It’s simply not realistic for a team to have a great quarterback for three or four years then move them on in favour of trying to find the next star. We’ve seen that with Kansas City and Buffalo. They realise how risky that is. I doubt any team will ever make the call to move on from a Mahomes or Allen before they reach their second contract to ‘try’ and find the next stud in the draft.

If the Seahawks did move Wilson and then hit the jackpot again — not only would they be very fortunate, they’d also be only three or four years removed from being in the same position of having to fork out a big extension.

Secondly, it’s pretty clear that what dictates success in the NFL isn’t value at quarterback. It’s quality. A top-class quarterback supported properly by wise personnel decisions to deliver a complementary roster.

Since Pete Carroll’s arrival in Seattle in January 2010, these are the quarterbacks to appear in the NFC or AFC Championship games:

Tom Brady (9)
Aaron Rodgers (5)
Peyton Manning (3)
Patrick Mahomes (3)
Drew Brees (2)
Ben Roethlisberger (2)
Matt Ryan (2)
Russell Wilson (2)
Mark Sanchez (2)
Colin Kaepernick (2)
Joe Flacco (2)
Brett Favre
Jay Cutler
Eli Manning
Alex Smith
Andrew Luck
Carson Palmer
Cam Newton
Case Keenum
Nick Foles
Blake Bortles
Jared Goff
Jimmy Garoppolo
Ryan Tannehill
Josh Allen

What this shows is that quality, regardless of cost, matters. Yes there are exceptions on the list. Nobody would mistake Mark Sanchez, Blake Bortles or Case Keenum as great players. Yet it’s worth noting just how good the rest of their rosters needed to be to essentially carry them at quarterback.

Typically the winning combo is this — an excellent quarterback well supported due to good roster building. That means good drafting and wise veterans additions.

Mahomes and Allen aren’t succeeding now because they’ve been cheap. They’re succeeding because they’re brilliant and the Chiefs and Bills have done an outstanding job in recent years building their rosters.

Tom Brady hasn’t been in nine Championship games because of his salary. He’s been in nine championship games because he’s the greatest quarterback ever to play the game and both New England and Tampa Bay have done a good job supporting him by drafting and signing well. That was down to intelligent decision making, not the fact Brady allowed both teams to save literally only a few million dollars.

The key to Seattle returning to the top echelon of the NFL is not trading Wilson, embracing an expansion-level rebuild and hoping magic is created.

The key is for the Seahawks to do a much better job in the draft and free agency and create the kind of environment that adequately supports Wilson and enables him to succeed.

This is why he’s been considering his future. He no longer believes in Pete Carroll’s philosophy. He doesn’t think the roster building has been good enough. He no longer thinks this team is positioning itself to be successful.

They have to get back to that. This organisation needs to prove to Wilson they are serious about returning to that level.

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Pete Carroll is telling you the end is nigh

Tuesday, October 26th, 2021

Pete Carroll’s body language has been very different this year

Seattle’s Head Coach paused. He took a deep breath and composed himself. And as he fought through a little emotion, he delivered the following line:

I’ve been here a long time. Without Russell, I wouldn’t have been here a long time.”

With the Seahawks sitting at 2-5, having lost two games they easily could’ve won, reality dawned. Russell Wilson’s importance to the Seahawks was made unequivocally clear.

You could argue it was also a review of Geno Smith. After all, this is a player who they were so unconvinced by they held Sean Mannion on the initial 53-man roster for the purpose of ‘competition’.

How Smith has managed to be Seattle’s backup for three years, despite never putting in a single convincing pre-season performance, is a question that still needs to be answered.

He’s been so bad, it’s practically unfair on the fans to make them sit through another contest with him under center.

Nevertheless, my immediate thought on listening to this quote wasn’t about Geno Smith.

Carroll genuinely seemed a little choked up. He was candid in a way he rarely is immediately after a game.

I don’t think he was necessarily meaning to push all of Seattle’s success in the way of Wilson (although it’s unquestionable that the quarterback has been responsible for winning season after winning season, despite flaws across the roster). It did feel though that this was a man admitting the end was nigh.

By referencing the time in which he’s been here, it felt like a tell. It was a reflective comment. With the raw emotion thrown in, here was an individual who’s been thinking about things.

In admitting Wilson’s integral role in Carroll’s own personal success, he’s also announcing to the world that without him, it’s very unlikely success will happen.

If it’s business as usual next year, Wilson will not accept that. We surely know by now that he will request a trade. It’s virtually impossible to imagine any scenario where Carroll, Wilson and John Schneider give it another go in 2022. There will be significant change of some form in the off-season.

Carroll saying what he did implies he knows, as well as anyone, that moving Wilson and doing another major reset isn’t plausible. And it’s the biggest hint yet that he’ll bow out to get out of the way.

We’ve had other hints too. Carroll’s body language this season has been extremely out of character. There was the impromptu LA Times article, suddenly discussing the glory years at USC — just as they’re looking for a new Head Coach.

I think the Wilson trade saga took a lot out of Carroll and Schneider this year. It was an immediate challenge by the most important asset the team has. A challenge to do things differently.

It also meant having to deal with Mark Rodgers again, something I think Schneider in particular has had his fill of.

Knowing Carroll as we do, he’ll probably come out this week with some kind of rallying call and they’ll try to win against Jacksonville and believe Wilson’s return can launch a run. He’ll note the defensive improvement (although in fairness, they’ve played two bad offense’s in the last two weeks).

Yet I sense in his heart he’ll know it’s one last great punt to see if they can create some magic. That come the end of this season, a great era will be over.

Rightly so, too. Nobody wants to see Carroll stay long enough to become the enemy. The simple fact is too many mistakes have been made. Bad drafts, bad trades, bad decisions on how to address certain positions on the roster, bad coaching appointments.

They squandered the opportunity to reset in 2018 and now it’s time for someone else to have a go. The people who selected Rashaad Penny and L.J. Collier and traded for Jamal Adams can’t be the people taking the franchise in a new direction. The people who went into the 2020 season with that pass rush or thought the cornerback and center positions were adequately dealt with this year. They can’t be making the big calls in 2022.

Carroll only took the job in Seattle because he was given ultimate control. I think he knows, considering he’s admitted Wilson’s significance to the franchise, that perhaps Russell deserves the same opportunity to shape what’s next.

The key here is for the organisation as a whole to get the house in order. Ownership must start to evaluate and plan ahead. They must be prepared for the major change they didn’t anticipate when they offered Carroll and Schneider long contracts.

Sitting idly by with an ‘ah shucks’ attitude won’t cut it. This is elite level sport and you have a responsibility to the fans to make big decisions, not just easy decisions.

Even if Carroll and Schneider move on — they’ll need to sell the next iteration of this franchise to Wilson. They’ll need to heavily involve him. Otherwise he’ll still want out. He’ll need to believe in the Seahawks even if big change occurs.

Or if they decide to keep Schneider and run the risk of having to move Wilson — they’ll need to know exactly what the plan is after that. It can’t be the kind of seat-of-your-pants, band-aid-o-rama we’ve seen from this team for so long.

A clear, long term plan for the next 5-10 years will be necessary.

They need to get on the phone to Tod Leiweke and ask him to recommend an individual or group of individuals to guide them through the next six months. The Leiweke’s are the men who get things done in Seattle — Carroll’s arrival, delivering a new arena, bringing the NHL to the city and eventually, returning the Sonics.

I can’t think of anyone better to speak to ahead of what is a gigantic challenge for ownership.

Get this wrong and this franchise could return to the basement of the NFL. What we’ve seen over the last two weeks could be the norm again. We could all be sat at home, watching other teams with their great records be talked up as contenders. All with the Seahawks a mere afterthought. A make up the numbers franchise.

Get it right and there’s no reason at all why the Seahawks can’t bounce back from this season, shift resources back to key areas of the roster and return to contention. They have a franchise quarterback — the one thing any serious contender needs.

Start planning for the future now. Not in January. Now.

If you missed my instant reaction live stream after the game, check it out below. Apologies for the short break in the middle, I had to go outside at 4:45 in the morning to have a go at some blokes who live across the street who were arseing about.

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Instant reaction: Seattle’s awful roster exposed in loss

Monday, October 25th, 2021

This feels a lot like last week.

A winnable game thrown away.

And now, the season ebbing away. Bit by bit.

Last week it was Geno Smith’s critical fumble to seal Pittsburgh’s win. Today, it was a whole multitude of things.

Al Woods’ ridiculous penalty on the field goal. Repeating the exact same blitz on 3rd and 10, inviting Alvin Kamara to run for a first down. Marquis Blair’s helmet-hit when Jameis Winston was already wrapped up.

All three of those errors were on the same, game-clinching drive.

There were more though. Most of them Geno Smith-inspired.

He took too many sacks. He was hesitant. He wasted timeouts trying to shift protection.

His performances scared the Seahawks into being so utterly conservative two weeks in a row — they pretty much beat themselves.

Apart from the mistakes above and a weak two-minute drive before half-time, the defense held their own. Yet the offense was miserable and along with Jason Myers’ kicking — Seattle were lucky to score the 10 points they did.

This tweet from Jim Nagy, posted during the second half, felt timely:

It’s just another thing to add to the list of complaints for this front office, led of course by Pete Carroll.

The thought of having to watch Geno Smith again next week — maybe even for two more weeks — fills me with dread. It’s as scary as any film you might watch over Hallowe’en.

Take away D.K. Metcalf’s improbable 84-yard touchdown catch-and-run and Seattle had 135 total yards on offense tonight.

This game felt like the 2008 loss to the Eagles. It was the dying embers of the Mike Holmgren era but there was still a tiny bit of hope they could get healthy when the game was played.

Backup quarterback Seneca Wallace threw a 90-yard touchdown to Koren Robinson. Everyone got excited. Then the offense didn’t score another point and lost, handsomely, 26-7.

They fell to 2-6.

The only difference tonight is this iteration of the Seahawks are only 2-5. Yet like 2008 they’re legitimately one of the worst teams in football without their star QB.

And like 2008, it feels like major change is overdue.

Another night to forget. Another loss at home (they’re now 0-3). Another season that’ll amount to nothing.

There was no tension in this game despite the close scoreline. There may well be some over the next few days as fans hope and pray that Pete Carroll and John Schneider don’t waste even more future resources before the trade deadline, chasing a playoff run.

Don’t bother fellas. You’ve done enough.

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Some notes on Pittsburgh QB Kenny Pickett

Sunday, October 24th, 2021

Kenny Pickett is having a strong season for Pittsburgh

As the world continues to look in desperation for draftable quarterbacks for 2022, Pittsburgh’s Kenny Pickett is coming into focus.

He’s being talked up as a potential Heisman candidate with 23 touchdowns and just one interception for the season. He’s added another three rushing touchdowns and his completion percentage is 68.9%.

Pickett is doing what all prospective draftable QB’s need to do — elevate their teams. Pitt are 6-1 after handling Clemson on Saturday. Their only loss was a 44-41 shoot-out to Western Michigan (where they turned the ball over carelessly with botched snaps, fumbles and a poorly thrown pick). They may well rue that avoidable loss given they’ve also turned over Tennessee, Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech.

So how good is Pickett?

I’ve no doubt we’ll see the internet mock drafts propelling him way above his station. Draft pundits are struggling with this class. There’s a dearth of clear first round prospects. Anyone being asked to produce a mock draft will be having a hard time.

You might say mock drafts are always futile and reactionary. Some are. Yet this draft class is proving harder than ever to project because the clear ‘top’ players simply aren’t there.

Let’s get one thing straight. Pickett is not a first round prospect.

But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have plenty of positive aspects and skills that will be intriguing to NFL teams.

For starters he’s a much better athlete than people probably realise. He’s well sized at 6-3 and 220lbs and while he scrambles around and has made some athletic moves to extend plays and improvise — he looks like more of a traditional pocket passer in terms of stature.

Where his athleticism shows up is in quick, subtle movements within the pocket to escape pressure. He ran a 4.25 short shuttle at SPARQ and jumped a 36 inch vertical. So while his forty time was so-so (4.77) it’s that ability to dodge interior or edge pressure, step up into the pocket or even break contain that makes him a threat to throw on the run or make modest gains as a runner.

He’s not going to be a big threat with his legs. Neither is he going to be a crazy improv specialist. I think a good comparison athletically is Joe Burrow. He’s not a sloth despite being well sized and he can keep things alive just enough to make throws when others would be sacked. He will make a few first downs on the run. He also has the ability to uncork on the move — showing good core strength.

Unfortunately this positive also combines with one of the big negatives with Pickett.

He’s extremely busy in the pocket. Too often when he feels outside pressure he does well initially to step up. However, he just keeps going — too often stepping into the focus of a linebacker and creating unnecessary pressure. He needs to be able to step up and then settle down, allowing plays to develop and taking what’s on offer.

The other thing you see is his footwork at times is frustrating. He drifts to the left or right on his drop too often, making throws harder than they need to be. His actual footwork is fine and there are no major issues with his throwing motion or release. Ideally though you want to see a very fluid movement as you drop, set and throw — with your shoulder pointed in the direction you eventually throw.

This is something a lot of quarterbacks need to work on when reaching the NFL and Pickett is no different. If he’s veering off to the right too often he’ll narrow the range where he can throw and reduce the field without the defense needing to do anything. With his agility and arm strength he needs to work on that drop, keep himself from drifting too much when he’s not designed to be on the move and give himself the best possible opportunity to go through progressions.

The fine details matter in the NFL. Unless you have the freakish physical skills to be such a difference maker (as many of the leagues top QB’s are at the moment) — you’re going to need to be pretty precise with your technique and play on time and in the right way.

There are times where he throws into situations where you’re left wondering what he’s thinking. There was one play against Georgia Tech this year where he tried to dump it off to a blanket-covered running back and nearly gave up a pick six. Last year he had heaves into coverage that were more or less hit and hope.

He’s tidied some of that up but the difference between Burrow and Pickett (and thus, being a #1 pick and not being a first rounder) is Burrow was consistently elite with his accuracy and ball placement and just had a knack of not making bad decisions, executing at a relentless pace and having an obscene plus vs minus play sheet.

That said, Pickett throws nicely downfield and can mix things up with touch when needed. He can drive the ball into difficult areas. There’s one throw against Western Michigan where he looks off the safety to open up the seam for the tight end and delivers a perfect throw for a touchdown. You see some very pretty passes on tape. Teams will like that he’s stuck it out in college and showed tangible progression as a player.

If he can work on his technical issues and continue to avoid turnovers, he will see his stock keep rising. He will be invited to the Senior Bowl for sure and it could be an opportunity to make a big impression.

I’m not sure, though, how the league will feel about his preference to throw in gloves.

I think he has the potential to be a third round pick and could rise up to round two based on what happens over the next few weeks. Especially in this desperate class.

Other notes from this weekend:

— Cincy’s running back Jerome Ford is just such an exciting blend of explosive talent, size and speed. He’s a potential game-breaker and he showed that again on Saturday.

— Jameson Williams (WR, Alabama) continues to make plays. He’s not the biggest or the fastest receiver but he creates separation, competes well for the ball and he has a serious nature to him that I like. There’s definitely something here.

— Pass protection matters at running back for the next level. UCLA’s Zach Charbonnet showed against Oregon some impressive blocking skills. Alabama’s Brian Robinson did not. Robinson has major work to do in pass pro and it’ll limit his stock — even as he impresses with his speed and ability to break tackles.

— Derrick Deese Jr (TE, San Jose State) continues to make plays. I’m intrigued to see how he tests because his production, consistency and reliability as a pass-catcher is very impressive. He’s also well sized. An exciting player.

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Curtis Allen’s week seven watch points (vs Saints)

Friday, October 22nd, 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…

Sean Peyton has always excelled at helping his team through stretches of games when Saints’ star players get hurt but this year he has outdone himself.

The team has been without Michael Thomas, Kwon Alexander, Marcus Davenport, Will Lutz and Brian Poole due to injury and David Onyemata to a suspension.

This after losing Drew Brees, Jared Cook, Latavius Murray, Emmanuel Sanders, Alex Anzalone and Sheldon Rankins in the offseason.

A hurricane chased them from their practice facilities and their own stadium for their home opener.

The fact that Peyton has them at 3-2 and a favourite to beat the Seahawks in Seattle on Monday night stands as a sparkling testament to the job he has done this year so far. He has the Saints playing extremely clean football, with the fifth fewest penalties and the fifth best turnover differential in the league.

Meanwhile, the Seahawks are drifting at 2-4 and are fighting off questions about alarm bells ringing and the season being in the balance. The team has back-to-back primetime games – something considered unfathomable in years past – and looking at a potential third in a row with Russell Wilson still on injured reserve.

The season is quickly slipping into a very difficult place.

Pete Carroll knows this is the case and his language is starting to get more desperate six games in.  Monday he said this:

“As it is always the case, postponing judgement is a powerful tool if you have it and that’s what we have to do,” Carroll said. “We gotta take it one game at a time just like we know how to do, but we have to really stay focused and postpone what the story is going to be. We know that’s the truth but it’s hard to do, and so that’s what we are going to go about doing. So it’s a challenge, I gotta lead the charge, and I’m gonna kick ass on that.”

The defense made commendable progress last week against Pittsburgh but it was not enough to secure a win.

The offense had good stretches but seemed handcuffed by the play-calling at times.

A 3-4 record looks so much better than 2-5, particularly in this division. The Seahawks must find a way to win on Monday in order to get back into the playoff picture.

How can the Seahawks get there?

Contain Alvin Kamara

This has been the priority when attempting to defend against the Saints offense in recent times.

But this season, with Drew Brees gone and several top players injured, the Saints are leaning on Kamara like never before.

He is responsible for an incredible 48% of the team’s total touches. Even when Kamara is not getting the ball, Peyton smartly has him as a decoy in play action or as a swing pass safety valve to draw a defender out to him and open up the middle.

Kamara has 109 touches so far in 2021. The Saints player with the next most touches? Running Back Tony Jones with only 23.

So, when we say if you stop Kamara, you will greatly hinder the Saints offense, we are saying it in the most literal way possible.

The primary way to contain him? 

Tackle him on the first try. Alvin Kamara is the king of broken tackles. Since 2018, he has 113 broken tackles, easily the most of any player in the NFL. Nick Chubb is a distant second with 96. 

(Chris Carson is fourth with 82)

Of course, that is easier said than done. Kamara has legendary balance and agility and the scheme Peyton puts him in contributes to him having good angles in order to present a slim target to tacklers.

The Seahawks got a front row seat to the show in Week 3 of 2019. Kamara had a stunning eight broken tackles in that game alone. How did he do it? His skill was absolutely a factor but look at the tape and count how many Seahawk tacklers tried to just knock him over or otherwise arm tackle him high, rather than follow the ‘rugby style’ form of tackling at the waist that Pete Carroll has preached so heavily:

Kamara ended up with 161 total yards and two touchdowns in that game. More importantly, he had 50 yards after contact in the rushing game and 102 yards after the catch in the receiving game.

The vast majority of Kamara’s yards came after the catch or after first contact. Inexcusable.

The linebackers had a terrible day and the poor tackling was noted by Pete Carroll in his opening comments after the game. Mychal Kendricks was particularly bad but the highlight clip shows bad tackling attempts by K.J. Wright and Bobby Wagner as well.

There is no excuse for not playing technically sound football at this level. Here’s hoping the Seahawks put a special emphasis on it this week in practice.

Kamara is going to his touches and his yards. That is just a fact beyond the Seahawks’ control. What they can control, is how many yards he gets after he encounters a defender.

If they can keep him in check, they will have a terrific chance at winning this game.

The defensive line must step up

This is not a key that is particular to this game against the Saints. It’s just something the Seahawks badly need to improve upon as quickly as possible.

The defensive line, once touted by many as a deep reservoir of talent that could really be a team strength in 2021, has proven to be a liability so far this season overall.

The Seahawks have recorded ten sacks, good for a tie at 26th overall in the NFL so far this season.

Two of those sacks belong to linebackers (Bobby Wagner and Jordyn Brooks).

That is an optimistic position right now. Why? Two of the teams behind them in total sacks have only played five games to the Seahawks’ six games so far. The Seahawks have a full extra game of non-productive play added to their total.

They are also 30th in rushing defense — giving up an average of 140.8 yards per game. They have yet to hold an opponent under 100 yards rushing in a game this year.

What was once thought of as a middling defensive line has been one of the NFL’s worst so far this season. Have a look at this simple chart:

Other than Darrell Taylor’s production efficiency, there is not much to like.

Alton Robinson seems to be held back despite some very solid play so far. He got one snap on defense against the Steelers and Pete Carroll confirmed it was not due to injury. He gave a bland answer when asked why.

Something has got to give at this point. Either the team must scheme better, coach better, redistribute their snaps to the young talent and live with the occasional blown play, or acquire some new talent if they want to compete.

It might benefit the team in the short term to start heavily blitzing again. They cannot get pressure and their TFL numbers indicate they are not getting into the opponents’ backfield very much.

The defense seems to be passively waiting for the opposing offense to make their move and then reacting to it. And rather badly, at that.

When you are playing Sean Peyton, that strategy is an open invitation to be picked apart. He is a master of finding space for his players and letting them display their skillsets.

You just know that Peyton has seen the Seahawks deploying Benson Mayowa and Carlos Dunlap against running backs in coverage. That is a massive mismatch when Alvin Kamara is on the field.

Blitzing early and often disrupts those potential plays and does not allow Peyton to build a theme or rhythm. If he does, he can connect some further wrinkles later in the game to take advantage of the patterns he has built.

What’s more, Jameis Winston is not good at all against the blitz. So far this year, he has an 85-quarterback rating off a 55% completion rate when blitzed.

Note the disparity in Winston’s numbers when under pressure:

As you can see, he still panics and misses wide open receivers when under pressure.

Give him time and he can be very effective.

Just like last week, the Seahawks are facing a team with a middling quarterback and a potent rushing attack. The defense could have won the game for them last week. They can this week as well. They must be better in order to do so.

Play your game on offense

The Saints have been getting some shine in the press for their defense so far this year. It is not as good as it is made out to be. The Seahawks need to understand this in their game planning.

The New Orleans rush defense is #2 in the NFL with 79 yards per game allowed.

Let’s give that number a little perspective.

In Week One against the Packers they were able to jump out to a big lead, forcing the Packers to abandon the running game. Aaron Jones, one of the game’s best running backs, only got five rushing attempts. As a team they only ran the ball 15 times.

In Week Two against the Panthers and Week 4 against the Giants, those teams used the run with their feature backs to set up the pass. Christian McCaffrey burned them for 65 yards on 5 catches and Saquon Barkley got 74 yards on 5 catches and a touchdown. He also ran right up the gut for six yards in overtime for the winning touchdown.

In Week 3 the Patriots only ran the ball 17 times.

The sample size, quality of opponent, game strategy and results in other areas are beefing up the Saints’ run defense numbers.

The Seahawks can run on them. It should not be curtailed in this week’s game plan out of fear of their tremendous defense.

How about in pass defense? They are 23rd in the NFL in passing yards allowed at 275 yards per game.

Their pass rush has been truly awful – even worse than the Seahawks’.  They have only nine sacks and 55 pressures so far this season.

Geno Smith will have time in the pocket to make his reads.

Daniel Jones had enough time in the pocket to burn them for 402 yards with an amazing twelve explosive pass plays.

Their starting defensive backfield averaged a 115-quarterback rating in that game. Star corner Marcus Lattimore surrendered a 149 passer rating in coverage.

The Saints have yet to face a group as formidable as the Seahawk receivers and tight ends.

So while the Saints should get some credit for their good numbers so far, a closer look shows that this defense is not as formidable as it appears.

Win in the red zone

Two stunning stats:

The Saints are #1 in the NFL on offense in the red zone, scoring a touchdown a fantastic 92.86% of their times in the red zone.

They are also #1 in the NFL on defense in the red zone, only allowing a touchdown on 35.71% of opponent trips in the end zone.

The Seahawks actually match up very well. They are #4 on offense and #7 on defense.

It is very likely the winner in the red zone wins the game.

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Reporter tentatively connects Aaron Rodgers to Seattle

Wednesday, October 20th, 2021

Could Aaron Rodgers end up in Seattle?

CBS’s Jason La Canfora has written an article today suggesting as many as half the teams in the league could make a quarterback change in the off-season.

Inevitably, the future of Russell Wilson (along with veterans Aaron Rodgers and Deshaun Watson) is brought up.

Here’s La Canfora on the Seahawks…

If they do bite the bullet and assess the myriad roster holes and embrace a rebuild of sorts, trading Wilson is the only way to go. He isn’t going to be doing an extension with two years on his deal, and 2022 would be the time to deal him. They might end up getting the next guy in that trade, and GM John Schneider has deep ties to the Packers and Rodgers, FWIW. My gut says Wilson is elsewhere in 2022.

It reads as speculation or an educated guess only at this point. It’s certainly not a report. It’s far too early for any of that.

It might also be a case of 2+2=5 here based solely on John Schneider’s previous gig in Green Bay.

I think it’s unlikely, personally. The idea of Rodgers coming to play in Seattle — a team he has actively enjoyed beating handsomely in Lambeau, while suffering multiple gut-wrenching losses at Lumen Field — is fanciful.

It feels like an ill fit. Rodgers, to me, is more likely to end up in Pittsburgh or Denver.

If Pete Carroll remained in Seattle, it’s also practically impossible to imagine he and Rodgers meshing. The quarterback is unlikely to want to play ‘Pete ball’. The very public way he’s handled his issues with Green Bay are hardly likely to be coveted by Carroll either, months after having to deal with his own QB saga.

That said, as things stand, I think Carroll will end his tenure in Seattle at the end of the season. So the possibility of any deal like this would depend on the next iteration of the Seahawks.

If Schneider stays as GM, I think it’s likely Wilson will be dealt. I think he’s had enough of Mark Rodgers. I think his meeting in North Dakota with Chicago’s Ryan Pace was indicative of a GM embracing the chance to move on, with Carroll reportedly rejecting the deal he presented after those talks.

In this scenario, it perhaps makes a Rodgers trade more likely. Depending on who he appoints as coach and the strength of Schneider’s relationship with Rodgers.

Whether Wilson fancies a return to Wisconsin in a swap deal, who knows? But it’s plausible he could go somewhere else (New Orleans? New York Giants? Philadelphia?) and the stock could be used on Rodgers.

If Schneider and Carroll both depart, I suspect a more likely plan would be to build around Wilson — with the incumbent franchise QB having a big say in who is appointed.

Either way, it’s clear change is coming to the Seahawks from next year. We won’t be watching another season of Carroll, Schneider and Wilson together — short of a miraculous turnaround this year that ends with a deep, successful playoff run.

It’s going to be an either/or situation. Carroll and/or Schneider or Wilson.

When La Canfora says his gut says Wilson plays elsewhere, it’s worth noting he was the first one to touch on the possibility of Wilson wanting out at the end of last season. He reported that at the Super Bowl. Mark Rodgers has his ear.

In March, La Canfora also said the following:

“A contentious offseason between player and team has moved the camps further apart, and done nothing to quell the superstar quarterback’s reservations about where the franchise is headed and how well he will be incubated from future sacks and beatings.”

That’s on top of all the other stuff, such as Jay Glazer and Greg Olsen saying what they did last week, or Tony Pauline reporting both the Seahawks and Wilson are ready to part ways it’s just a matter of timing, or the infamous Adam Schefter tweet on potential trade destinations (which, I suspect, was partly motivated by an Athletic article that heavily leaned on team sources).

As noted in my draft piece from Monday — it’s a horrendous quarterback draft class in 2022. So if the decision is made to part with Wilson in the off-season, getting a proven quality starter is an absolute must.

If Schneider takes the keys from Carroll in the off-season, a 38-year-old Rodgers would buy him a few years with a competitive team while he waits for college football to deliver some better long term options.

If you’re wondering what direction I’d go in for 2022, here’s my own personal plan of action for the next off-season.

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An early look at the 2022 NFL draft class

Monday, October 18th, 2021

There’s no sugar-coating this. It’s not looking great for next years draft.

Over the weekend I saw a tweet commenting that the Eagles could, realistically, end up with three top-10 picks in 2022 after smart trades with Miami and Indianapolis.

Yet as we sit here today it’s hard to work out who’d actually be worth selecting.

Currently I’ve only got nine players on a list of ‘possible high picks’.

That’s not nine possible top-10 picks. It’s simply nine players I’ve watched enough of to say — they could go reasonably high:

Kayvon Thibodeaux (DE, Oregon)
Derek Stingley Jr (CB, LSU)
Kyle Hamilton (S, Notre Dame)
Aidan Hutchinson (DE, Michigan)
Jordan Davis (DT, Georgia)
Trevor Penning (T, Northern Iowa)
George Karlaftis (DE, Purdue)
Jalen Catolon (S, Arkansas)
Jalen Wydermyer (TE, Texas A&M)

Granted, I tend to be pretty conservative at this time of year. We’re months away from the Senior Bowl let alone the combine.

Peruse the many internet mock drafts available and you’ll see a whole bunch of other names I haven’t listed above.

Alabama tackle Evan Neal, for example, is very much on the national radar after topping Bruce Feldman’s ‘freak list’ this year. I’m not sold. Not yet anyway. I suspect he might be more of a day-two pick at this point. Yet some mocks have him not only in round one — but as a prospective #1 overall pick.

If he blows up the combine then the relentless need at the tackle position will ensure a high grade. A vertical jump of just under 23 inches at SPARQ doesn’t have me convinced he’ll be the kind of explosive tester that traditionally goes very early.

Florida cornerback Kaiir Elam is often mocked in round one. I’m alarmed by his play. Erratic isn’t a strong enough word to describe him. He has physical tools and size but there are just too many moment where he switches off. I think fast receivers will have a field day challenging him deep and you can beat him with any kind of head-nod or double-move. He’s a project based on physical traits.

The Ohio State receiver duo of Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson are often mocked in round one. I want to see them run at the combine. Olave ran a 4.73 at SPARQ and Wilson a 4.61.

It’ll be a relief to Seahawks fans that the top-10 looks so weak this year. I’ve not seen it this bad since the notorious 2013 class. If Seattle ends up gifting the New York Jets a high pick in the Jamal Adams trade, it’ll be less painful for that reason.

Hopefully with Russell Wilson returning at some stage, there’s no threat of ending up with a top-five pick and whiffing on a Thibodeaux or Stingley Jr.

That would be difficult to take.

I also think the somewhat weak upper-class of this draft also makes a prospective Wilson trade so incredibly unpalatable. Short of being able to rebuild your defense with Thibodeaux and Stingley Jr — you simply can’t justify it.

Having picks is fine. You have to turn them into good players. This doesn’t feel like a year where you want to blow things up and start again. You’d be picking from a weaker talent pool at the top end.

There is some reasonable depth though and players are emerging that warrant tracking. It’s not ideal that a position like tight end might be the deepest, rather than O-line or cornerback. Yet there are some intriguing names I want to note here today.

Admittedly I haven’t watched everyone. You may want to ask about certain high-profile players that I’m not mentioning. This is a long process and there are weeks remaining in the college football season. These are simply the players I’ve personally had a chance to observe enough to pass comment.

The quarterback group is a mess

The national media is desperate to find their next Zach Wilson to salvage this class.

There isn’t one coming.

This is not the year if you want a quarterback. There’s a black hole at the position in college football. Trade value will likely sky rocket for any veteran available.

You might think that’s a good thing if you’re in the ‘trade Russell Wilson’ camp. Here’s something to remember. If Green Bay trade Aaron Rodgers — they drafted Jordan Love in round one last year. If/when the Texans trade Deshaun Watson — well at least they added Davis Mills.

The Seahawks have neglected this position for years — failing to invest in a proper developmental backup.

Trading Wilson and looking for answers in this draft would be a surefire way to become the Lions, Broncos, WFT or any other club desperate at the position.

Ole Miss’ Matt Corral is fun to watch but he’s playing in a wide open offense and he looks every bit the kind of productive college quarterback who doesn’t necessarily translate to the next level. In the quicker game and without the massive scrambling yardage and easy throws on offer in Lane Kiffin’s system, I’m not convinced he has the physical tools to start in the NFL.

Malik Willis has major technical flaws. Spencer Rattler faces the prospect of transferring from Oklahoma to salvage his career. Sam Howell looks pretty average. Carson Strong is way overrated.

The best of the bunch might be Desmond Ridder and even he looks like a mid-round flier (although he threw some excellent passes against Notre Dame).

If ever there was a class to make you treasure what you have, this is it.

It’s a good year at tight end and possibly running back

There’s so much depth at tight end. It starts with Wydermyer at the top but then it just never ends. You also have some reasonable blocking TE’s too.

Jake Ferguson has been a blog favourite for some time. He’s a good blocker, he’s underused in the passing game and he has great short-range agility (which is important for his position). Ferguson ran a 4.15 short shuttle at SPARQ and added a 35 inch vertical. He has a very rounded game.

Cade Otton has suffered through illness and playing on a lousy team yet there’s definitely something there to develop. How he tests will be vital.

UCLA Greg Dulcich has major physical tools and high upside. If he enters the draft, keep an eye on him later on.

Derrick Deese Jr at San Jose State has NFL bloodlines and just catches everything. He’s well sized and extremely reliable. He’s a mismatch in college and you wouldn’t bet against the same thing happening at the next level. He’s a magnet for the football.

Ohio State’s Jeremy Ruckert has a rounded skill-set and Iowa’s Sam Laporta is very capable of making plays. There are still a whole bunch of tight ends I haven’t even watched yet. If you need help at the position, you’ll be in luck in 2022.

There isn’t the same depth at running back but there are some good options.

Michigan State’s Kenneth Walker transferred from Wake Forest and has looked fantastic this season — breaking off huge runs some of the time and getting the hard yards the rest. He’s well sized, quick and looks explosive.

Zach Charbonnet swapped Michigan for UCLA and along with Walker, has been one of the players we’ve talked about the most this season. He’s big and physical and just drags defenders for extra yardage. He can be a playmaker, he looks athletic. He’s interesting.

Jerome Ford transferred from Alabama to Cincinnati and has rocket speed, good size and appears to be a bit underrated in the media. I think his best football could come at the next level.

Brian Robinson at Alabama is the next off the Nick Saban production line. He’s highly cut and that does put some teams off but he can make plays as a runner and receiver, he’s reasonably sized and he’s having a great year.

Another name to mention is Tyrion Davis-Price at LSU. He’s a huge, explosive, dynamic runner who hasn’t been used all that much but he has a physical profile to interest teams.

Two receivers to remember

There’s just something about Josh Vann (WR, South Carolina) that makes you think ‘big time pro’. He makes so many difficult catches. He’s gritty and competes. He can separate. The Gamecocks are good at developing receivers and Vann is the latest.

He might be competing with Arkansas’ Treylon Burks to be the top receiver in this draft. They don’t get as much hype as the Ohio State pair but I was extremely impressed when watching both.

Burks has been making highlight grabs all season.

Some players to monitor in the trenches

I think Tyler Linderbaum (C, Iowa) is overrated by ‘Draft Twitter’. He’s become their golden goose. He’s a good player who could even land in round one. He’s very athletic and if he tests well, could go as early as Garrett Bradbury. I worry about his power and ability to drive off the ball when he’s not on the move. Could he be bullied at the next level?

Oregon center Alex Forsyth is one to monitor as is Penn State tackle Rasheed Walker. Both are very capable of landing in the top-50.

On the other side of the ball, Florida State’s Jermaine Johnson has really created an impression this year as a dynamic edge. He has 6.5 sacks and if he tests well, could easily be a top-50 pick.

DeMarvin Leal at Texas A&M is big (290lbs) and starting to show what he’s capable of. His sack tally is up to 5.5 for the season and many consider him a first round prospect.

West Virginia’s Dante Stills, brother of Darius (who we interviewed this year) has four sacks and is very capable of disrupting plays up front, moving around the line and creating pressure.

Haskell Garrett (DT, Ohio State) is a blog favourite with plenty of tenacity and agility up front to work into a solid rotation. He should test well at the combine after running a 4.41 short shuttle at 300lbs at SPARQ.

USC’s Drake Jackson has a lot of the athleticism and the physical skills teams want. He’s raw and needs further development. He has three sacks, four TFL’s and an interception this year.

Devonte Wyatt is a team mate of Jordan Davis at Georgia. He benefits from playing on that incredible defense but he’s a disruptive three-technique who has impacted most of the Bulldogs’ games so far.

What’s it like in the secondary at linebacker?

A bit overrated at corner. I just can’t get excited about a lot of the names being touted to go early.

Auburn’s Roger McCreary has size and could be a really useful pick for someone. Montaric Brown has shown little flashes for Arkansas. I think Washington’s Kyler Gordon has the agility and quickness a lot of teams love. Trent McDuffie also has his admirers.

Apart from that it’s likely to be another draft where cornerbacks go far earlier than they should due to need. Teams are desperate at the position and will overdraft CB’s who have no business going as early as they do to try and fill holes.

A quick note to say how brilliant Channing Tindall and Quay Walker the two Georgia linebackers are. Larry Brooks the Tulane safety looks like a throwback player with a lot of potential. And let’s not forget long term blog favourite — Colorado’s Nate Landman. The ‘hammer’ will finally enter the NFL at the end of this season and provide immediate special teams value for someone.

Notes on the nine standouts

Kayvon Thibodeaux (DE, Oregon)
Ideally sized with the speed and quickness to threaten the edge and the physical skills to do everything else. He should be the favourite to go first overall and could be the next big game-changer at defensive end.

Derek Stingley Jr (CB, LSU)
From the minute he stepped on the field at LSU he had star potential. He has good size and ran a 4.30 forty at SPARQ, then jumped a 42 inch vertical. He could go in the top-five.

Kyle Hamilton (S, Notre Dame)
People see his listed size and expect big and physical. Hamilton’s actually a glider who covers ground quickly and plays the ball.

Jordan Davis (DT, Georgia)
A 6-6, 340lbs behemoth who absorbs double teams, anchors the Georgia line and yet still — at his size — provides some pass rush threat with quickness and mobility. He is going to shock people at the combine.

Aidan Hutchinson (DE, Michigan)
An absolute monster coming off the edge — Hutchinson matches twitchy athleticism with raw determination to be a threat as a pass rusher.

Trevor Penning (T, Northern Iowa)
Penning plays with violence. I haven’t seen an offensive tackle finish blocks the way he does. He’s listed at 6-7 and 320lbs, he has an 83.5 inch wingspan and he broke NI’s school squat record with two reps at 625lbs this year.

George Karlaftis (DE, Purdue)
His sack production is a concern (five in 1.5 seasons) but you do see real flashes where he flies off the edge and his get-off is superb. At SPARQ he ran a 4.53 short shuttle.

Jalen Catolon (S, Arkansas)
Arkansas’ season is tailing off a bit but Catolon has been a bright spark throughout. He’s very quick for a free safety but has the physicality to come up to the LOS and mix things up. A good hitter with playmaking potential.

Jalen Wydermyer (TE, Texas A&M)
It took him a while to get going this season but then he turned it on against Alabama (of all teams). An exceptionally gifted natural athlete.

If you missed yesterday’s instant reaction stream reacting to the Pittsburgh game, check it out here:

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