Archive for November, 2021

Things Seahawks fans need to know about the 2022 draft

Tuesday, November 30th, 2021

Aidan Hutchinson will likely be gone by pick #2

1. It’s not just a limited quarterback draft

Opinions on the 2022 class are all over the place.

I’m not for a second trying to suggest that I know everything or am better than other people when it comes to analysing the draft. I’m well aware I’m just a bloke from Rotherham who watches a lot of college football.

However, I think some of the analysis we’re seeing on the internet is, frankly, quite poor this year.

I don’t envy the people who have to write about the draft for a living. They are in an awful position. It’s really, really hard to find legit first round prospects who are eligible. As a consequence we’re seeing a lot of undeserved elevation and a lot of reaching.

I won’t name names but let me use one example. Today I looked at a 2022 NFL mock draft from a national website. Included in the top-15 were:

Matt Corrall
Ikem Ekwonu
Evan Neal
Kenyon Green
Nakobe Dean
Kenny Pickett
Carson Strong

I have not seen any evidence that these players warrant a placing in this range. That is particularly the case for the three quarterbacks, Ikem Ekonwu and Kenyon Green. The one who might justify it is Evan Neal but he has a guard body, appears much more suited to operating inside and I’m not convinced he’s a left tackle at the next level.

It’s just a lousy draft class at the top end. People are trying to slot prospects into their mocks. The class is going to be influenced more than ever by combine testing, with teams taking their chances on upside because the legit, blue-chip talent pool is limited.

Take Auburn cornerback Roger McCreary for example. He’s a good football player. Yet he has sub-30 inch arms and he has good and bad moments on tape (see: John Metchie shaking him off for the game-winning score at the weekend).

On Saturday, one well-known draft pundit declared on Twitter that he was a ‘top-20 lock’, only to be informed by a former NFL scout (who may or may not be Mobile based these days) that he hadn’t spoken to any team that had anything higher than a second-round grade on McCreary.

Everyone is desperate to find ‘guys’ in a 2022 draft class that has depth beyond round one but has massive question marks for the first frame.

I’ve studied this class in detail and for me, these are the following players you can build an argument for at the top of round one:

Kayvon Thibodeaux (DE)
Aidan Hutchinson (DE)
Derek Stingley (CB)
Kyle Hamilton (S)

At the moment, that’s it. There are other players I really like, such as Georgia’s Jordan Davis. Can you justify taking a two-down nose with, say, the fifth overall pick?

Someone suggested to me yesterday that it’s a good draft for defensive linemen, as part of an argument ‘for’ trading Russell Wilson. Again, this isn’t exactly the case. The mock drafts might be stacked with names but I don’t think these mocks are a true reflection of the class.

As I wrote on Sunday — I think if you’re picking outside of the top-two, you’re probably not getting Thibodeaux and Hutchinson. They are the two potential game-wrecking defensive linemen in this class. I don’t see anyone else who can knock them out of the top two.

The best tackle prospects I’ve seen so far are Northern Iowa’s Trevor Penning, Central Michigan’s Bernhard Raimann and Washington State’s Abraham Lucas. I’d be fully prepared to grade all three in the top-50. Could I make a legit argument for saying they belong in the top-10? Maybe if they test well. Right now, I can’t say it with any conviction.

So let’s imagine a scenario where the Seahawks trade Wilson to the Giants for their two top-10 picks. Are you getting a game-wrecking D-lineman or a left tackle of the future at #6 or #7? I don’t think you are. You need those picks to be higher — or in a different draft entirely.

This is why I think a full knowledge of what this draft class truly offers is imperative to have a proper discussion about the future of this team.

If you could guarantee Hutchinson and a top left tackle — I think it’s a conversation worth having. Or even Hutchinson and Thibodeaux. The Seahawks desperately need to improve their trenches. If sacrificing Wilson enables them to do that — I don’t think it’s a conversation to be dismissed, even if it’s not my personal preference.

I don’t think people realise how early Thibodeaux and Hutchinson are going to go. They’re the top-two. And the next group of George Karlaftis, Jermaine Johnson and David Ojabo might have intriguing skills — but they are not top-10 picks.

If you trade away Wilson, you have to come away with blue-chip players. At the very least you have to emulate the double-dip of Russell Okung and Earl Thomas. As someone who has studied this draft class more than most — I’m telling you, this is going to be the weakest first round in a long, long time. And if you want those blue-chip players, you better find your way into the top two or three picks.

The irony is — Seattle’s own pick might’ve got them into that range. Yet they traded it to the Jets for Jamal Adams.

2. The truth about the 2022 quarterback class

The discourse around the draft eligible QB’s is similarly all over the place. I have studied all of the big names in great detail. I appreciate teams are going to reach and there’s a chance more than one player will go in round one. However, I want to re-iterate what I believe to be the truth about this class…

— No player deserves a first round grade.

— Carson Strong is the clear #1 quarterback within the group. However, there are very serious concerns about the health of one of his knees. So much so, it has been speculated he might need a cadaver knee replacement that would end his rookie season before it begins. One other theory is that it might be a bone-on-bone situation, limiting his career. He could of course be perfectly fine. This is the talk doing the rounds though and teams will study his medicals thoroughly. He has fantastic arm talent, he’s accurate and has a quick release but he’s also a statue in the pocket and has no ability to move to extend plays or avoid pressure.

— Kenny Pickett is the clear #2 quarterback. However, he reportedly has incredibly small hands. The talk is that his hand size could be nearer to eight inches than nine — and nine is usually the cut-off for NFL quarterbacks. This is probably why he plays in gloves. So while his 2022 season has been a roaring success — teams will have to contend with what this means for his next level potential.

— Matt Corrall plays in a Lane Kiffin offense that does the heavy lifting. It’s a system that demands very little other than one-read from the quarterback. Corrall is also 6-0 and 200lbs. I cannot project him to the next level.

— Sam Howell is extremely average and Malik Willis isn’t very good.

If three of these players go in round one, all power to the teams making the call. I can’t get behind that thought process.

Short of Strong getting a clean bill of health on the knee, I would rather wait until the mid-rounds for Desmond Ridder. Frankly, Ridder has as much chance as any of the names above. He has completed some ‘wow’ passes this year and elevated Cincinnati onto the national stage. He is far from perfect but the consensus seems to be he will be available much later than the names above.

Any of these players will likely need a year to learn the ropes, meaning you’re relying on a stop-gap veteran.

It’s a shame we have to have these conversations — yet increasingly it feels like QB talk is going to be a thing again within Seahawks fandom.

I think the person running your offense has never been more important. I think we’re seeing that with the jumbled mess that has become the Carroll/Waldron hybrid. We’re also seeing it in the way certain QB’s are being developed.

If this team wanted Carson Strong, for example, they have to go and get the offensive play-caller and schemer to fit his skill-set. That would be Josh McDaniels for me.

Kenny Pickett is more suited to a play caller who is willing to use quarterback mobility, movement in the pocket and bootlegs/play-action.

Matt Corrall likely needs a system that gets the ball out of his hands quickly and utilises extreme spread-concepts.

Increasingly I agree with Colin Cowherd on the subject of coaching. You can have a defensive-minded Head Coach but you need a top play-caller on offense to make it work. One of Pete Carroll’s big issues is his desire to have full control and his unwillingness to go out and land a star play-caller who gets the keys to the offense.

One of Bill Belichick’s greatest strengths is the fact he has McDaniels next to him — running a very effective offense that fits the personnel they have. Nick Saban has gone the same way in Alabama.

I really wish Carroll would’ve embraced this a few years ago.

3. The middle rounds will contain great value

Carroll has done a terrible job building the roster to suit his preferred style. Seattle’s O-line isn’t good enough. Their running back situation isn’t good enough.

If you want to play ‘your’ style — you need to be better there. And that’s as much a failure as anything else when we discuss the Seahawks’ reset from 2018 onwards.

It’s incredible to think the Seahawks passed on all of the top current NFL runners — from Jonathan Taylor to Dalvin Cook to Derrick Henry to Nick Chubb to Alvin Kamara to Joe Mixon and Antonio Gibson. And the one time they chanced their arm with a high pick — they rolled the dice on Rashaad Penny.

We’ve discussed some of the O-line and D-line options. The Seahawks also need to be better at running back. I think there are options in this class.

For me, UCLA’s Zach Charbonnet is RB1. He runs hard and fights through contact. He’s a competent pass-catcher. He blocks better than most in pass-pro. He’s also well-sized and looks explosive.

I would project Charbonnet to be a third rounder and he is someone to target.

The rest of my top-five would be Kenneth Walker at #2, Brian Robinson at #3, Dameon Pierce at #4 and Breece Hall at #5.

The Seahawks need to revamp the position. Pairing Charbonnet with Pierce would be a good way to do it. Florida has squandered Pierce’s career but he’s explosive, will make you miss in the open field and he’s tough. He will be available on day three, I would imagine, and would be a great complement to someone like Charbonnet.

It’s such a good tight end class I think you have to tap into it somewhere. Jalen Wydermyer and Trey McBride will likely go too early but if they fell into round two, warrant BPA consideration depending on how they test (agility testing is a huge indicator at the position). Greg Dulcich and Derrick Deese Jr are the two players I would recommend if you want a pass-catcher. Jeremy Ruckert and Jake Ferguson both have rounded games and are good blockers.

There are other holes that are set to emerge. There is no justification for paying Bobby Wagner $20m next year (however much the MNF crew want to fawn over him). Cornerback will continue to be an issue if Tre Brown is out an extended period of time, especially with D.J. Reed reaching free agency.

Regardless of what happens with Wilson, it might be time to decide whether the Seahawks are better getting a haul for D.K. Metcalf rather than paying him $20m or above in a big extension.

Thankfully — this draft will provide value in the middle rounds.

Yet it’s incredible, really, that this franchise is facing one of the biggest, ugliest rebuilds imaginable. It’s taken horrible mismanagement of the roster to reach this point. There could be years of pain ahead if they make the wrong decisions in January through to May.

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Not so instant reaction: The Seahawks are broken

Tuesday, November 30th, 2021

The same old problems, game after game.

Useless on third downs.

An opponent dominating time-of-possession and registering 17 (!!!) more first downs than Seattle.

The total inability to run the ball (18 yards from the running backs).

An offensive line that is bullied week after week.

A quarterback who is nowhere close to his best.

The frustrating inability to cook up a game-plan that features your best players (in no game, ever, should D.K. Metcalf’s first catch come with 62 seconds left in the game).

A passive defense that is soft, doesn’t unsettle opposing quarterbacks anywhere near enough and is too easy to move the ball against.

And the pièce de résistance — when a busted coverage in the final seconds presents you with a chance to tie the game, the two-point conversion is basically a long drop-back with very little creativity. Following that, you pull off a modern-day miracle in winning back the football on an onside-kick — only to lose it again because your players aren’t lined up properly.

You can only repeat yourself so much before some action has to be taken by this franchise.

The entire team is broken and the Head Coach and his staff have absolutely no idea how to fix any of it.

The Seahawks are a bad football team. They are going to give the Jets a top-10 pick. The journey to this point has been entirely predictable.

Major change is required in the off-season.

There’s nothing else to say.

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Open thread: Seahawks @ WFT

Monday, November 29th, 2021

A reminder that I am not staying up until 5am to watch the game tonight (a decision I wrestled with but I’ve got a big working week and can’t afford a three-hour sleep day). I’ll be waking up a bit earlier to watch the game on replay and will post some thoughts on the blog then. There will be no instant reaction live stream this week.

In the meantime, here’s an open thread for your thoughts during the game.

Sunday notes: Draft, Russell Wilson & more

Sunday, November 28th, 2021

— Aidan Hutchinson (DE, Michigan) could easily be the #2 overall pick in 2022, behind only Kayvon Thibodeaux. He was superb against Ohio State, capping off what has been a tremendous overall season. With a total dearth of quarterback options for the top-five and no clear offensive tackle worthy of a pick in that range, it’s perfectly plausible Hutchinson will be the second selection. He has size, the ability to win with quickness and power, a relentless motor and edge-sealing ability. He ticks every box.

— Team mate David Ojabo, with his Scottish roots, could also be a high selection. He lacks Hutchinson’s complete game and will require some refinement. Yet he has ideal size and quickness for an edge. Paired with Hutchinson, they’re an ideal combo. They complement each other well. Ojabo could be a dynamic edge at the next level — especially if paired with a quality book-end who absorbs as much attention as Hutchinson does at Michigan.

— Both players took turns to abuse Nicholas Petit-Frere, who had a torrid day. I’ve never been convinced he’s the top-echelon tackle many online pundits suggest. Yet evaluations seem to have been all over the place throughout this season. I don’t mean they’ve been inconsistent either. They’ve just been poor and ill-thought out with more group-think than usual. It’s impossible to watch Petit-Frere get beat like a drum yesterday and imagine spending a high pick on him.

— UCLA running back Zach Charbonnet is the best draft eligible runner for 2022. He does it all. He has great size, he finishes runs, he gains yards after contact, he’s a good pass-catcher, his pass-pro is reasonable. You can win with him at running back and I think he’s just above Kenneth Walker in the rankings. A name to remember for later in the draft is Florida’s Dameon Pierce. He’s been underused by the Gators but he has explosive power, the ability to make people miss in the open-field and he has great size.

— Also at UCLA — tight end Greg Dulcich is seriously underrated. I’m tempted to say so is quarterback Dorian Robinson-Thompson. He doesn’t have the same limitations as a lot of other draft eligible quarterbacks. There’s something there.

— Earlier this week, the Giants were connected to Russell Wilson again. Jonathan Jones, writing for CBS, suggested the Giants were perfectly placed to make a run at Wilson. The case is made that the Giants currently have the #5 and #7 picks and that would be an attractive package for a trade that would likely need to include a high 2023 pick too.

(Of course, the Seahawks could’ve already been in possession of the #6 pick too. The fact that they don’t should be a fireable offence on its own.)

The Giants are reportedly set to part ways with GM Dave Gettleman at the end of the season. They’ve already fired Jason Garrett as offensive coordinator.

Owner John Mara is highly unpopular and needs to make a move to curry favour with fans. Trading for a star quarterback could be a way to do that.

Other prospective suitors for Wilson will find it harder to make a deal.

Jalen Hurts is building a case for some faith in Philadelphia. They will have three first round picks this year and might prefer to build up their roster rather than trade the house for a veteran quarterback.

New Orleans would be an ideal fit but they don’t have the draft stock.

The Broncos, who will very likely make a big move for a quarterback, only have an extra second rounder to play with.

Therefore, the Giants could easily find themselves at the front of the line in talks.

Of course, my preference would be to see the Seahawks make a bold move themselves — trying to acquire Sean Payton to coach Wilson, as I wrote about here, rather than sending their franchise quarterback elsewhere. It’s not as ridiculous as you might think.

Back on to the Giants, Jones in his article quotes a NFL source suggesting the following:

“Zero doubt John Schneider has a plan [for when Wilson leaves]… The QBs (or lack thereof) in this draft makes things tricky. NYG makes sense with 2 top 10s.”

I’m not sure what constitutes a plan right now, short of making a subsequent move for Aaron Rodgers. There’s a firm belief Rodgers will move to the west coast after this season in a trade.

Jason La Canfora wondered out loud recently whether Seattle could show interest, saying Schneider and Rodgers have a relationship. Earlier in the year, ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler touted something similar:

“One exec I talked to floated Seattle, just because John Schneider, the GM, has long-standing ties in Green Bay, and it’s clear he’s been unafraid to talk about Russell Wilson’s future with other teams as a potential trade. He talked to Cleveland a few years ago, has flirted with draft picks. Things were tenuous a few months ago; he talked to the Bears.”

Even so, the Broncos seem to be in the driving seat given their placing in the AFC. The Packers are hardly likely to want to send Rodgers to another NFC team.

The draft, as we’ve talked about a lot, offers nothing but agony. Despite continued chatter that ‘three’ QB’s could go in round one — this is a review of the class overall, not the quarterbacks available. It’s a bad draft for the first round and teams needing a QB will probably take a shot to nothing at the position. There isn’t a single QB worthy of a first round grade in this class and even round two is a push.

There are serious questions about the state of Carson Strong’s knee, not to mention his inability to avoid pressure and tendency to take sacks.

Kenny Pickett reportedly has sub-9-inch hands and has to wear gloves to grip the football.

Matt Corrall is 6-0 and 200lbs and plays in an offense that is set up for easy reads and mass-production. He’ll be on the same trajectory as Mason Rudolph, Brandon Weeden and all of those Oklahoma State quarterbacks who never amounted to much.

Malik Willis isn’t very good. He might be a great athlete but technically there are major issues, he hasn’t played well this year and he’s had too many turnovers.

Sam Howell is average. He’s just an average player.

Taking any of these quarterbacks in round one would be utter madness.

You’d be better off waiting until the middle rounds for Desmond Ridder or even taking a punt on UCLA’s Dorian Thompson-Robinson (if he turns pro) or Stanford’s Tanner McKee.

So unless the plan is to be bad at quarterback — trying to discover a reclamation project in a Mitchell Trubisky type or going for a boring, low-level starter like Teddy Bridgewater — it’s difficult to decipher what a plan would look like.

Furthermore — even if you have the #5 and #7 picks, who are you taking?

As noted earlier — it’s distinctly possible Kaybon Thibodeaux and Aidan Hutchinson will be gone. Derek Stingley will probably be gone. Who are the blue chip players you’re building around? A lot of people love Evan Neal but I need to see his combine. I’m not sure he’s better off shifting to guard.

It might make life interesting to have two high picks but you still need to be able to add good players.

I would argue if you trade Wilson you would probably also need to trade D.K. Metcalf too. Firstly, to get the kind of draft stock required to give you a shot to find quality starters in key areas (OL, DL). Secondly, why pay Metcalf a record-setting deal to have him be frustrated by the likelihood of inconsistent or poor quarterback play?

If nothing else this might give you a chance to address the O-line with Trevor Penning, Abraham Lucas and Bernhard Raimann all attractive options.

This is why the conversation about the future of this franchise carries so many layers and goes way beyond the limited talking points we usually hear on the matter.

— One final note — Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday are important days for me this week. Thus, I’ve taken the incredibly rare decision not to stay up for Monday Night Football. As someone who prides himself on staying up until the early hours to watch every Seahawks game, I haven’t taken the decision lightly and probably agonised over it more than I should’ve done. I need to get my priorities right this week though. Therefore, there won’t be an instant reaction live stream after the game. I will watch it when I wake up on Tuesday morning and will write-up some thoughts straight after.

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Hear me out… the Seahawks should go after Sean Payton

Friday, November 26th, 2021

Sean Payton in Seattle? It’s not as daft as it sounds…

Paul Allen never settled for anything less than bold, ambitious and exciting when he looked to shape the direction of the Seahawks.

Bringing Mike Holmgren to Seattle was a splash move. It legitimised the franchise and brought the first Super Bowl appearance in team history.

After trusting Tim Ruskell’s vision to appoint Jim Mora as Holmgren’s heir apparent, Allen wasted no time correcting the mistake after one year. What followed was another big splash. Pete Carroll. And with Carroll came a first Championship victory.

I suspect if he was still with us, Allen would be looking at the current 3-7 season with great concern. He might even be preparing to act, one way or another.

Whatever his plan would’ve been, it likely would’ve caught your attention.

Earlier today I was reading a piece by Mike Florio where he considered the future of Sean Payton and the Saints following last night’s hammering by Buffalo, dropping New Orleans to 5-6 after a 5-2 start.

It’s quite easy to connect the Saints to a big Russell Wilson trade in the off-season. After all, Wilson listed New Orleans among his preferred destinations earlier this year.

However, Florio raised a different, much more interesting point:

“It also won’t be a surprise, frankly, if Payton’s name makes a re-emergence on the Sunday Splash! circuit as a guy who could be moving on after the season. As some who chase a constant content quota may conclude, if Payton can’t bring a franchise quarterback to him, maybe he’ll take himself to a franchise quarterback.”

There’s been a consistent jungle drum beating around Payton potentially leaving New Orleans for a new challenge. Jerry Jones is a big admirer and the Cowboys were often linked. Jason La Canfora reported in 2018 that there were “backchannel communications” between the Colts and Saints regarding a potential deal for Payton. The talks broke down over draft-pick compensation — with the Saints asking for a pick in the top two rounds.

La Canfora also spoke to Colts COO Pete Ward, who confirmed him he took a call from the Saints about Payton.

Before Sean McVay took over the Rams, they too were interested in Payton. Larry Holder of reported LA were expected to ask the Saints for permission to speak with Payton about their vacancy. Mickey Loomis, the Saints GM, was reportedly open to trading Payton.

Rather than sending Wilson to the Saints, could the Seahawks find a way to bring Payton to Seattle?

You might initially chuckle at the prospect and see it as extremely unlikely.

It might not be as crazy as you think.

The sheer fact it’s been so openly reported that he could move on is a big enough reason alone, before you consider the situation in New Orleans.

It could be impossible for the Saints to trade for a top quarterback. They don’t have multiple first round picks like the Giants, Dolphins or Eagles. With Wilson and Aaron Rodgers in the NFC, the Seahawks and Packers will be reluctant to trade within the conference unless the price is astronomical.

It’s plausible that New Orleans would pay a huge price for a quarterback. They have everything else needed to be a contender. How much is too much though? And if it ends up being a choice between muddling on with Taysom Hill or drafting from an unattractive pool of draft prospects — perhaps Payton would fancy a change of pace?

He’s been in New Orleans for 15 years. His legacy in the city won’t change, just as Holmgren’s didn’t in Green Bay.

You’d need something to tempt him to take the gig. For Holmgren it was complete control and the ability to pick the players as well as coach the team. For Payton, you can offer the quarterback he doesn’t have in New Orleans. You could offer the same kind of power Pete Carroll has — or something similar. And you can offer him a lot of money.

You might ask whether he would have interest in working for the ownership structure in Seattle. Well, it isn’t dissimilar in New Orleans. The owner Gayle Benson took over when her husband died.

None of us know what Jody Allen is like as an owner. I suspect if she wanted to emulate her brother, this the type of bold, ambitious move he would make for a proven winner — just as he did with Holmgren and Carroll.

This would surely appease Russell Wilson and rekindle his faith. Payton may covet the opportunity to spend the next decade working with Wilson, rather than scrambling around for a Drew Brees replacement in New Orleans.

Remember Florio’s quote:

“If Payton can’t bring a franchise quarterback to him, maybe he’ll take himself to a franchise quarterback.”

Which other team in the NFL has a franchise quarterback who could be looking for a new coach?

Derek Carr and Las Vegas is probably the only one. And as bad as you might think the Seahawks are right now, look at what’s been happening in Vegas recently. It’s also worth noting that Payton didn’t exactly have a positive experience with Al Davis back in the day and that might linger, somewhat.

I appreciate this might be considered fanciful and a lot of moving pieces would have to fall into place. Carroll would have to walk away (I think he will) or be fired. Payton would have to want to leave New Orleans. Either he mutually leaves or a trade would need to be arranged. And Seattle’s ownership would have to have the chops to deliver.

The thing is, who among us predicted Jim Mora would be one-and-done? Let alone that Pete Carroll, of all people, would take over?

I’ll say it again. If Jody Allen wants to make the kind of move her brother would do to reignite this franchise and land a rockstar Head Coach — it wouldn’t get much bigger than landing Payton.

All questions about the ambition of the new ownership group would be answered. It would be the ultimate statement of intent. You’d avoid having to enter the murky waters of having to replace Russell Wilson when the quarterback situation in college football has never been weaker. And you could launch a new era of Seahawks football, led by a proven winner.

It might not be likely — but it’s not as ridiculous as it sounds.

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Curtis Allen’s week twelve watch points (vs Washington)

Thursday, November 25th, 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…

With the season quickly unraveling we are now transitioning from talking about slim playoff hopes to just scrapping to avoid a first losing season since 2011.

Unfortunately, the team is going to Washington to play a tough matchup with the Football Team. At 4-6 they are currently only one game better than the 3-7 Seahawks but this game is a classic example of the old truth that ‘it is not who you play but when you play them.’

The Football Team are riding a two-game winning streak and have looked impressive in wins against Tampa Bay and Carolina. Moreover, the way they are winning spells trouble for the Seahawks. Some of their recent areas of success on offense align with recent demonstrated weak spots for the Seahawks’ defense:

Sound familiar? The Seahawks are coming off a game where they couldn’t get the defense off the field, nor keep the offense on it and it disrupted their entire strategy.

So, this upcoming game will either further expose their lack of effective coaching and player development or help stem the tide of their recent awful play.

Might as well steer into the skid. How can they do this and return to their standard of play?

Convert third downs on offense

Broken record time: The Seahawks are 30th in the NFL in third downs on offense, converting only 32.41% so far this season. To keep the game on schedule, the offense needs to do their job. Do well on first and second downs and make third downs manageable. Avoid low-percentage plays on third down.

This week’s game is the absolute litmus test as to whether they will execute or not on third downs this season. How so?

Washington is the worst team in the NFL defending on third downs. A brief statistical snapshot to highlight how truly bad they have been:

-They are giving up a first down conversion on 52.99% of third downs
-That is 13% worse than the next-lowest team in the league
-They are conceding a 127.5 quarterback rating on third downs, with only five sacks in 99 pass attempts, with 8.5 passing yards per attempt – their highest number allowed for any down

An offense converting 32.41% vs a defense conceding 52.99%. Something’s got to give.

Washington allowed only 22% of third downs to be converted last week in their win against Carolina. So there is improvement to speak of. Still, they need to prove this was not a one-week anomaly.

What are their issues with third down defense? And how can the Seahawks take advantage?

Their pass rush is still very good. They are tracking with similar numbers to 2020 (although Chase Young is out for the season with an injury). So that is not the problem.

Everyone else on defense is though. Their defense behind the line has been awful in defending the pass. Have a look at this chart of their seven most targeted defenders and their performance so far this season:

Those numbers are terrible. The twenty-one passing touchdowns allowed for those seven players? Twenty-nine whole NFL teams have not allowed as many passing touchdowns as these seven guys combined. Collins and Jackson are tied for the second-most passing touchdowns conceded in the NFL.

Collins’ six touchdowns conceded are already a career-worst for him in only ten games. He is also headed towards collecting career-highs in targets, missed tackles and quarterback rating conceded. Thankfully the Football Team cannot bench him, as he is $17million against the cap this year. So they are forced to play him and hope he breaks out of his slump.

Here is just one play that is illustrative of their woes in the passing game:

First off, Collins on McCaffrey is a mismatch, particularly on a seam route where the speed advantage is obvious. It gets worse — as Collins allows McCaffrey to freely run his route without any physicality. He seems to not be pursuing McCaffrey with urgency – likely because he figures has support in Holcumb. Yet Holcumb takes too shallow a route and McCaffrey flies right past him and Newton throws a beautiful ball for an easy touchdown.

This is one example but watching this defense play, you see things like this pop up on nearly every series. They are uncoordinated in zone coverage and unable to make plays in man coverage. Teams have run slants, wheel routes and crossing routes at will on them. Tight ends have shredded them when targeted.

Those routes are prime opportunities for gains on all three downs. The Seahawks must take advantage of these chances. Gerald Everett seems to be gaining steam as a piece of the offense. Tyler Lockett has been criminally underused on third downs. And Will Dissly could use a good game after dropping a critical pass last week.

It is not all a cakewalk on offense though. They will have to contend with a budding superstar on the defensive line who can wreck the entire game.

Contain Jonathan Allen

Allen is having a fantastic season so far and is well on his way to establishing a completely new level of play for himself. Remarkably, he is quite near to establishing career-highs for all pass rushing stats after only ten games.

His season is eerily similar to the season one of the NFL’s best players is having:

The game film confirms the similarity. He is a monster.

Here are some clips of Allen going toe to toe with Ali Marpet in Week Ten that are something to marvel at:

Fans of top-notch interior defensive line play will thoroughly enjoy some more of the ferocity Allen has displayed this season:

My personal favorite is at 2:08. Watch him literally grab Billy Price and just manhandle him out of his way and then accelerate to Daniel Jones and spin him to the ground like he is a ragdoll. Impressive.

A quote from head coach Ron Rivera on his play this season:

“He’s physical at the point of attack, more so than anything else,” Rivera said. “You get a lot of guys that stutter and float looking for an opportunity. Jonathan just goes forward and it’s the quickest route to the quarterback. When he’s doing that, he’s having success.”

He is a handful and Damien Lewis and Ethan Pocic will need to be at their best in order to keep him from constantly collapsing the pocket from the interior and redirecting running backs into his teammates’ waiting arms.

One slight positive to hold onto is the Seahawks offensive line had their best game of the season last year in a Week Fifteen win in Washington. Russell Wilson was not sacked. the offensive line surrendered only eight pressures and the team ran for 181 yards on the ground in an impressive performance despite missing starter Brandon Shell. It would be a huge boost to the offense if they could duplicate that performance.

Let’s be honest though. Allen is going to have his plays.

How much impact those plays make may have less to do with the offensive line than you think…

Russell Wilson must return to form

As you can see from the first two points, Russell Wilson will need to find the open man while making sure his countdown clock is functioning properly. The circumstances of this game are crying out for Wilson to manage it effectively.

There will be plenty of opportunities to make passes against a struggling secondary. Wilson still has his complete arsenal of targets and Dee Eskridge should be returning to full health and form enough to have a handful of snaps where he can contribute some electricity to the mix.

Wilson has typically struggled with tough interior rushers though. The Seahawks would be well advised to give him a moving pocket and utilize some of the pre-snap motion to get him just the extra couple steps of room he needs to react to interior pressure.

Another area of note that could benefit the Seahawks’ offense is passing penalties. Last year I wrote about Washington’s effectiveness in avoiding those penalties:

Everyone knows WFT has a brilliant front four. But it’s worth noting the backfield is complementing the pass rush in a very smart way by only committing 4 pass interference calls and 1 defensive holding call in 13 games. So not only do they have a great pass rush, the supporting cast is extremely disciplined, and they’re not going to help you make your way down the field.

Washington did commit a big pass interference penalty on a Seahawk touchdown drive in that game that moved them into the red zone, so that is one area their discipline failed them.

How are they doing in keeping passing penalties in check in 2021? Far worse.

Last year they were only flagged 13 times for defensive holding or pass interference. They already have eleven flags this year with seven games left to play. Master penalty-drawer Tyler Lockett should be able to get a couple flags in this game for some yardage.

Another area where they need Russell to maximize his very specific gift — he needs to run when he finds openings. It is an undervalued aspect of his game and one that has largely been minimized in recent seasons. It is not a coincidence that this offense’s effectiveness has declined accordingly.

If Russell counts to three after the snap, nobody is open, and there is a lane, he should take the opportunity to gain some yards.

Watch him do it last year against Washington for a whopping 38-yard gain:

It doesn’t matter if he is not as fast as he used to be. It really doesn’t. He is adding that ‘one more stresser’ element to the offense and it wears defenses down. There are not many things more frustrating than the pass rush doing their job, the defensive backs sticking with their receivers, everything breaking down offensively and then the quarterback defying all those challenges and scampering for a first down.

It can even open up further pockets for the passing game.

Watch Cam Newton utilize his running tendencies on a beautiful touchdown throw:

He takes off, draws the linebacker and safety to him to open up a lane and pulls up and flips the ball to the D.J. Moore for an easy score.

Russell needs a couple of these kinds of plays where he makes things happen with his legs, his creativity and his arm to really get in gear. Frankly, the earlier in the game the better.

The running game may have a struggle with this tough interior line and an offensive line that has been marginal at best this season. Ground and pound to establish play-action might take too much time to get going. Calling two short runs and then looking to Russell to bail them out on third and long and we’re right back to answering questions about third downs and cheering Michael Dickson’s punting performance.

Let Russ be Russ. A return to his classic form is just what the doctor ordered. This staff needs to do everything in their power to make this happen.

Speaking of quarterbacks giving their offense a jolt…

Stop Taylor Heinicke in critical downs

Since Taylor Heinicke has taken over for the injured Ryan Fitzpatrick you can draw a straight line between the offense’s performance on third and fourth downs and winning or losing.

In four Washington wins with Heinicke at the helm, the offense is converting at an incredible 52% of third and fourth downs. In their five losses, 36%.

So Heinicke’s performance in their last two games, wins by Washington? Hold onto your hat:

Those are absolutely brilliant numbers. The envy of every offense that has been sputtering in critical situations lately, including our own Seattle Seahawks.

Heinicke and Offensive Coordinator Scott Turner (son of Norv) have discovered a groove together that has worked very, very well. Washington is certainly not the most talented offensive unit but they deploy their players in a coordinated way that gives them easy yards. They effectively balance speed, explosion (J.D. McKissic) and toughness in the running game (Antonio Gibson) with a wide receiver that balances those qualities and is coming into his own in a big way (Terry McLaurin).

They are not dependent on just their top players, though. Turner has Heinicke distributing the ball extremely well, giving players opportunities to get open and make plays with a degree of unpredictability that challenges defenses.

Watch this beautifully coordinated play to get DeAndre Carter a touchdown:

Turner has drawn up a play that “sacrifices” a man (Tight End John Bates) to get Carter open with a double move. It works effectively as Carter is wide open and Heinicke has a relatively simple throw to make off of his primary read.

If you have seventeen minutes and you are so inclined, have a look at this video of the Football Team’s final drive to seal the win against Tampa. It’s a beauty:

The drive takes over 10 minutes, covers 80 yards, burns Tampa’s two last timeouts and the two-minute warning. All Tom Brady can do is throw a few balls on the sideline to stay loose and look at his tablet. I dare say it is a masterpiece; the Seahawks would do well to integrate some of the concepts shown in this drive.

The Seahawks should be very familiar with some of the schemes that Washington deploys. They face it against teams like the Rams and Niners regularly.

Everyone on the defense will be tested. Attention to their assignments and gap responsibilities will be critical. One direct way to defend these schemes: disruption. Do not allow the blockers the edge; nor receivers a free release. Far too often you witness them having room to run their formations exactly as drawn up.

Look at 2:44. The receivers block the defensive backs easily and McLaurin has enough time to loop back round them and get behind the pulling offensive linemen for a nice gain.

At 3:28, you see the left side of the offensive line set the edge with authority and give Carter time to run behind them on a misdirection play. The very next play, the same edge is set handily and Gibson has a nice run. And the next play as well.

They fake a toss sweep to the same side and everyone bites — while Heinicke rolls to his right and has a wide open Bates to throw to.

At 9:08 Adam Humphries gets a pretty soft reception from Mike Edwards and easily gets into position to get a first down catch.

The defense must be ready to disrupt these routes and concepts. On the defensive line, Carlos Dunlap needs to demonstrate his physicality in setting the edge. Bryan Mone, Poona Ford and Al Woods must step up their play inside so as to not let Gibson power through.

The defensive backs must be ready to attack, not just react, to these schemes. Speed, closing ability and toughness will be critical.

If they can keep this defense from consistently giving Heinicke open looks, they can win on key downs. To keep the offense moving forward, he will do what most quarterbacks tend to do in those situations — press and take chances. Eight of Heinicke’s nine interceptions have occurred in losses.

The Seahawks will need to take advantage when the opportunity arises.

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Appearance on Jake & Stacey today (710 ESPN)

Wednesday, November 24th, 2021

If you missed it earlier… we cover the big topics…

Three players I’m adding to my ‘possible R1 watch-list’

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2021

Abraham Lucas — get him on your radar

I’ve been down on the 2022 draft class and for good reason. There are a small pool of quality players who deserve to go in the top-10. Then, there’s a lot of unknowns. I think the combine this year will be more important than ever. There’s going to be about 60 players who are all graded very similarly. A great workout will be a difference maker.

Yet when I watch the players below, it gets the juices flowing again…

Bernhard Raimann (T, Central Michigan)

There are few things more exciting that seeing a highly athletic, aggressive left tackle capable of playing with agility and light feet, yet willing to mix it up in the power game.

Raimann shows very athletic footwork. It allows him to recover and counter when things don’t go entirely to plan. He handles the speed rush with a good kick-slide and he’s capable of being a ‘dancing bear’ to seal off the edge.

He’s able to bench-press on contact by getting his hands inside to stone speed-to-power rushes. His powerful hands connect and lock-on vs the bull rush and he can plant the anchor against bigger rushers. Raimann’s a finisher, too. He’s not hanging on before eventually the defensive end releases and breaks to the quarterback. A lot of tackles do that. They’re trying to delay to buy a quarterback time. Raimann’s mindset seems to be he’ll block until the end of the quarter if necessary.

The other really attractive aspect is his willingness to get to the second level in the running game. He explodes from the snap, radars in on a linebacker and executes.

Raimann’s ideally sized at 6-7 and 305lbs with room to add more weight if required. Reportedly he’s capable of a 4.60 shuttle, a 33-inch vertical and a 9-8 broad jump. He’s been timed at 1.56 in the 10-yard split and he can press 450lbs. Numbers like that get you into the high first round mix. He’s a former Austrian exchange student who has been working with NFL O-line coach Paul Alexander to develop his skills for the next level.

Along with Northern Iowa’s brilliant Trevor Penning, the two best offensive tackles in this class could be smaller school prospects. Evan Neal is usually projected as the top tackle, thanks to his status at Alabama (starting as a true freshman) and the fact he led Bruce Feldman’s freak list this year. I have some reservations about Neal. I’m not sure whether his best position is actually guard and whether he has some agility limitations to stick at left tackle. It didn’t take long for Las Vegas to shift Alex Leatherwood to guard, after all — and he tested very well.

In terms of attitude, aggressive nature, skill and athleticism — I think Penning and Raimann might be the best tackles on the board. At a time when Seattle’s two tackles are both free agents in the off-season — and with the increasing prospect of major changes across the board — the emergence of these two players is extremely encouraging.

If you are of the mind to desire major change in the off-season and want to see the O-line revamped with high picks — these two names, along with Iowa center Tyler Linderbaum, Mississippi State’s Charles Cross (who I think will kick inside to guard in the NFL) and Alabama’s Neal might be the names to focus on. There’s one other name to mention that I’ll come on to later…

Trey McBride (TE, Colorado State)

The tight end position is arguably more dependant on specific traits than most others. The top players all test extremely well in terms of agility (three-cone, short shuttle) and I’m always hesitant to go ‘all-in’ on a tight end until we see these results.

Yet watching McBride on tape — I couldn’t help but envisage a role as a poor-man’s Travis Kelce.

Again, let’s make the qualifier that athleticism matters. Kelce ran a 7.09 three cone and a 4.42 short shuttle. The Kelce family genes are utterly remarkable. McBride is going to have to test at a certain level to justify any comparison like that.

Yet he’s similarly sized, is a good mover at the second level and he is used as basically a #1 target in much the way Kelce is. You’ll see him in the slot, at H-Back, as an orthodox in-line TE. He attacks the seam with long-striding acceleration but can also run corner routes adequately and he challenges defenders with a competitive spirit when the ball’s in the air. He’s a sure-handed and reliable catcher even in traffic.

His YAC ability is seriously impressive — as he drives through contact and finishes runs.

What usually separates players like this going early or in the mid-rounds is athleticism and blocking. We’ll see how he tests but there’s no doubt about his willingness to block. He’s not the biggest at 6-4 and 260lbs but he gives everything at the LOS. His footwork enables a strong base, he keeps his feet moving to drive on contact and there are flashes of violence where he buries opponents into the turf, playing until the whistle.

He sometimes exposes his chest affording for a loss of leverage in the hand-battle — but he’s a tight end. He’s not going to win every 1v1.

McBride has every opportunity to become a QB’s best friend in the passing game and a coaches dream because he can stay on the field for any play-call.

If he has a good combine, the sky’s the limit for him. Based on what I’ve seen, he’s a fringe first rounder. Test well and he confirms an early grade. If he’s an average athlete in terms of agility, he’ll stick until the middle-rounds. He has the talent though to be a big X-factor at the next level.

Abraham Lucas (T, Washington State)

When I first watched Lucas, I was stunned why he gets so little attention on a national level. Purely from the eye-test alone — he’s 6-7 and 320lbs and just screams ‘NFL offensive tackle’. He has an ideal long frame with great athleticism.

Watching him control and handle Kayvon Thibodeaux was enough to have me sold but the more I watched the more I liked. I don’t think I’ve seen a right tackle since Tyron Smith look so comfortable operating in space, blocking 1v1 in pass-pro.

His footwork to handle stunts is incredible and he reads them well. He doesn’t get too deep in his drop but he’s athletic enough to be able to stick with top speed rushers and contain. So many players are terrified at facing a player like Thibodeaux that they cede so much ground off the snap and invite pressure. They’re playing defense. Lucas is an offensive-minded tackle who backs his own physical profile to win on the front-foot.

This should be no surprise. At SPARQ he ran a 4.30 short shuttle. Let that sink in. A 4.30 short shuttle. He also added a 5.03 forty yard dash.

It’s no wonder his agility and light-feet are so evident on tape.

Not only that, he manages to avoid over-extending with his arms and just controls his blocks. He complements his big frame and length with agility to create an impossible situation for pass rushers — who can’t get into his frame to attack because he holds them off but they also can’t attack the edge with speed because he’s too quick.

His kick-slide is patient and he chooses the right time to engage and attack. Lucas handles any inside counters well.

As a run blocker I’ve seen more than enough to believe he can be a success there too. There are examples where he locks on to a defensive end and drives them downfield. He’s not quite as aggressive as other tackles in the run game but I can live with it given his outstanding athleticism and pass-pro qualities.

If he has the kind of combine he’s capable of, Lucas could fly up boards. He looks like a player with firm first round potential.

And one name to watch for 2023…

Will Anderson (DE, Alabama)

Wow. Just wow.

Before I even talk about his game, I want to talk about his attitude. I think he is a player you can build a locker room around. His effort, energy and passion are clear.

I don’t know if he wears #31 because he’s a fan of Kam Chancellor. Yet he plays with the same intensity and approach. He’s an alpha, an absolute dog on the field. He is someone with the ability to set the tone.

It’s a bonus that he’s also incredibly talented.

His get-off is superb. He flies out of the traps and challenges tackles with his first-step quickness. Anderson is incredibly difficult to block 1v1 and will likely ask questions of opponents week-to-week in how they approach defending him.

He’s only listed at 6-4 and 245lbs but it’s amazing how capable he is of disengaging with great hands. You’d expect him to be smothered at his size if he tried to mix things up in a physical battle. Yet he can connect and disengage, then explode to the quarterback. These are vital qualities for the next level where the path to the QB is going to be challenging week-to-week.

I think he can line up off the edge but if you want to drop him into space as a SAM or 3-4 OLB, he does an excellent job to string out run plays. You will not find it easy running to his side if he plays off the LOS.

Anderson has a relentless motor and if his first move stalls — he’ll keep fighting to work to the passer. He sifts through traffic, keeps the legs churning and plays with superb balance. He can combine speed and power to vary his rushes and counter when required. His bull-rush is, again, superb for his size.

In one game this year he split a double team from the right tackle and guard to force a pressure — at 245lbs. Against Miami he connected with the right tackle and threw him off to make a play on the running back. He presses against blockers to keep his frame clean to read running plays.

His build is ideal with long limbs, a powerful lower-half and a lean pass-rusher’s frame.

He has an incredible 13.5 sacks and 26.5 (!!!) TFL’s for the 2021 season.

I don’t feel like it’s an overreaction to say this is exactly the type of player Seattle needs. I get the sense that Anderson is destined for an incredible pro-career where he not only develops into a pass-rushing sack-master but also helps set a culture for a team and quickly establishes a role as a big-time leader.

Roll on 2023 to see where he ends up…

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Assessing the futures of Wilson, Carroll & Schneider

Monday, November 22nd, 2021

There likely won’t be any of this next year

It’s starting to feel like the writing’s on the wall.

Change is inevitable. We’re just waiting to see the extent of the change.

Pete Carroll, John Schneider and Russell Wilson will not work together after this year.

It’s simply a case of who, if anyone, returns.

Ownership needs to make that decision now, so the next plan of action can commence as soon as the season concludes.

Whatever they decide — clarity is required from the moment the final pass is thrown of this wretched season.

Yet with this being the only serious topic in Seattle sports right now, we still have to debate, project and opine.

So here’s what I think, approaching December…

Russell Wilson will seek a trade

I don’t believe Wilson wants out of Seattle. I think he cares passionately about the city and the team. For someone so focused on legacy, he knows the importance of being a one-team man.

Yet I think he realises that in order to max out his career, he needs to be playing for a particular coach with a specific supporting cast.

The ideal home is with Sean Payton in New Orleans.

The Saints have had a year of ‘giving it a go’ with a collection of bad quarterbacks and the depth and talent of their roster is being squandered.

They are primed to make a run at a top veteran quarterback.

Forget the slightly strange contract extension for Taysom Hill announced today. If he was the answer at quarterback, they wouldn’t be starting Trevor Siemian.

Even if Carroll and Schneider depart (and I think both will need to go for there to be any chance of Wilson sticking around) — the Seahawks would still need to convince the quarterback that Seattle is the place to be with their subsequent appointments.

That’s going to be especially difficult to do. I can’t think of a Head Coach who would realistically convince Wilson. It would need to be a proven, prolific offensive mind with a track record. It’d almost have to be going out and trading for a Sean Payton.

That’s implausible, of course. It’s the kind of bold, ambitious move you could imagine Paul Allen pulling off. This ownership group, however, are a total unknown. And the Seahawks feel like a less trendy franchise for a prospective big beast of football coaching.

Thus, I think whatever happens, Wilson will seek to arrange an amicable split with the team. He will want a clean cut, a non-messy divorce, that allows him to part on good terms.

His non-trade clause also means he’ll get a big say in where he ends up. If New Orleans keep losing and their first round pick in 2022 continues to rise, they become a more realistic option. The Seahawks might be left hoping Wilson’s more open to a team like the Giants or Eagles, given they have multiple first round picks to spend.

Some people would celebrate a deal like this and suggest a huge rebuild is required, with Wilson the sacrificial lamb to gain cap space and draft picks.

We know how difficult it is to find a franchise quarterback. We can see other teams — desperate teams — struggling because they are left picking through the scraps of what is available.

You can have a really good team and struggle badly because of your quarterback. For every ‘Ryan Tannehill and the Titans’ example — there are far more teams who struggle with mediocre quarterback play undermining a strong roster.

You could include the 2011 Seahawks as a striking example.

They’ve had no such worries since 2012, which coincides with you-know-who being drafted 75th overall.

Pete Carroll will walk

I’ve felt for a while this’ll be Carroll’s final season. The out-of-the-blue LA Times article on his USC days, just as they were looking for a new coach, felt telling. Jay Glazer reported in 2017 that Carroll considered retiring before a big re-set — and they’re facing another one now. His body language has been very different this year. He’s seemed erratic, cluttered and the shambolic press conference last night was another example of a man who seems to have lost his mojo.

Carroll’s Seahawks are passive, soft, boring and have no identity.

As the Head Coach, he takes the main responsibility for that.

His explanations for the issues don’t cut the mustard. He implied on 710 ESPN today that a little bit of fine tuning and execution would have Seattle in position to succeed. The reality is, the Seahawks were just hammered in their own stadium by an Arizona team missing Kyler Murray, DeAndre Hopkins and JJ Watt.

Suggesting the Seahawks ‘only needed a couple more third down conversions’ sounds logical. When you are demolished by a team missing key starters and fielding Colt McCoy at quarterback, the issues go far deeper than Carroll is implying.

Furthermore — the problems we saw against Arizona have been there all season. It’s a coaches duty to right the wrongs and yet Carroll seems totally incapable of producing the answers to the problems.

Currently, the Seahawks would own the #5 overall pick if they hadn’t traded it to the New York Jets. And yet the Head Coach has no solutions.

His team has nothing to hang their hat on. No redeeming quality. They are hard to watch.

It’s time for a change.

Carroll will be well aware of what sticking around means for him. He’ll be the coach who saw off Wilson. He would then need to begin a major rebuild, with three years left on his contract and no realistic ability to take this on for another 8-10 years under a new QB.

It took them three drafts to find Wilson. It’s improbable to imagine Carroll wanting to spend the next three looking for a replacement, then launching a new era of Seahawks power football in his mid-70’s.

Especially with such a dire looking quarterback landscape in college football.

Whether Carroll retires or takes on one of the many college football job available, we’ll see. But I think we all acknowledge he’s coming to the end and I don’t think he’s going to persevere. I think he knows what’s going on.

He’s paying the price for his own hubris and lack of direction in terms of roster construction. He needed to be willing to take a back seat and become the overseer rather than the puppet-master.

He needed to do what Bill Belichick and Nick Saban have been willing to do. Hand the offense over to an experienced, skilled play-caller and let them dictate everything on that side of the ball. I would argue he should’ve done the same with the defensive coordinator. Be the leader. Set the culture. Motivate people. Allow others to look at the nuts and bolts of scheming.

Instead he doubled down, persisted with his family members, close friends and Carl ‘Tater’ Smith on his staff. All in the name of total control. It was a huge mistake.

Likewise the roster re-set has been a disaster. Carroll has done everything to undermine his own philosophy — building a team incapable of playing the way he wants to play.

The running game is horrendous and they can’t beat anyone up in the trenches. Squandering millions on average players, wasting picks on crazy trades and ill-fitting rookies. Carroll has taken his vision and committed Harakiri.

He has become a man with a terribly executed plan, no answers on how to fix the problems and he’s increasingly sounding desperate when speaking to the media.

It’s a sad end, one nobody would’ve wanted for this legendary coach.

I suspect he’d be doing himself a big favour by making it clear this is the final year — so we can celebrate all the great things he achieved in Seattle and say goodbye properly, rather than spending the next few weeks resenting him, while wondering if we might be subjected to another year of this.

John Schneider is the big question mark

What happens at GM is the key to everything. I don’t think Schneider and Wilson (and Mark Rodgers) can co-exist together. I think Schneider, given the opportunity, would’ve traded Wilson this year.

Does ownership want to take responsibility for replacing the Head Coach and the GM? Or do they want to hand that off to the General Manager and allow Schneider to become king-maker?

After all, they handed him a big extension just a matter of months ago. That, if nothing else, felt like a statement of intent and backing.

Even so, I wonder if Schneider even wants to carry on. Does he want to oversee a huge rebuild? Or would he rather take a break and come back re-energised with a new team in a year or two?

If he does continue, it’s plausible that ownership will ask him to shape the future of the team. And even if serious questions need to be asked about Seattle’s recent drafting and the Jamal Adams trade — it would at least be somewhat interesting to see what Schneider’s vision is after all these years of supporting Carroll and trying to deliver what he wants.

Whether he deserves the opportunity after the last few off-seasons is the key question. Bad drafts, suspect free agent decisions, squandered resources and too often a roster covered in band-aids.

I can imagine Schneider finding some traits within this quarterback class to admire. There isn’t a Wilson for him to fall for but he typically likes big-armed quarterbacks so he may appreciate some of the players, such as Carson Strong (knee permitting). I can see Schneider being a big fan of Kenny Pickett too.

He would need to make big decisions on key players. Is it time to move on from the likes of Bobby Wagner? Do they need to consider the possibility of trading D.K. Metcalf rather than paying him? Do they need to write-off the Jamal Adams contract and just move on?

Only recently Jason La Canfora connected Schneider to Aaron Rodgers. If Carroll goes, does it open the door for a Rodgers trade to replace Wilson, while adding a coach who can handle the strong-minded QB?

How do they become tougher and more physical rather than the soft, noisy front-runners they’ve become?

What will it take to become a team built in the trenches, that can once again beat-up opponents and be the bully?

Big questions and a big job. One I’m not completely convinced Schneider deserves or will have the appetite for. Yet of the three key individuals in Seattle right now, he might be the most likely to stay. If for no other reason than it gives ownership someone to lean on to deliver a replacement Head Coach.

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Instant reaction live stream (post Cardinals)

Sunday, November 21st, 2021