Month: August 2022 (Page 1 of 2)

Thoughts on the Seahawks 53-man roster

Stop me if you’ve heard this already — but I’m ready and prepared for a tough season. You’ve just got to embrace it.

2022 is about college football. It’s about quarterbacks. It’s about getting to the end of the NFL year and treating it like it’s a half-marathon you’ve not really trained for.

I fear, however, that some Seahawks fans are seeing things differently. That while they’re not quite getting their hopes up — they’re allowing themselves to view the roster Seattle announced yesterday as worthy of some optimism.

I feel the opposite.

It looks bad.

So much work needs to be done.

I think the roster is some way off what they had even in 2011.

That shouldn’t be a surprise. This is year one of the rebuild. It was year two in 2011. The difference this time is they weren’t starting from an expansion franchise-level team they inherited from Tim Ruskell. Yet the depth and gold-standard talent is missing and they haven’t drafted or signed the entire LOB, added Marshawn Lynch or brought in the likes of K.J. Wright and various others.

I’ve seen several people argue in the comments section here and on my YouTube channel about what the Seahawks have.

A chap called Aaron, for example, posted the following:

“Every skill position on the offense minus the QB has star power in the starters. I understand there’s a depth issue here, but you have to give them the offensive talent. It’s there. You put any true top 10 QB on this squad and the offense becomes elite.”

The word ‘elite’ is used so liberally these days.

When you strip it down, things become a bit more realistic.

I’m not for a second suggesting everyone is rubbish or there isn’t any hope for the future. Yet I think we need to analyse what they actually have.

Let’s start with the offense.

D.K. Metcalf is an excellent player but I still think he has a ways to go to reach the top of the game at his position. Tyler Lockett is clearly an excellent and reliable player. Yet these two — who aren’t supported by much else at receiver — will be reliant on Geno Smith throwing the football in 2022.

Arguably Seattle’s two best players will be hamstrung by the quarterback situation and this could hamper their impact potential.

The tight end group is very much a question mark. Will Dissly may be a solid blocker but in 31 games over the last two seasons he’s accumulated only 482 yards and three touchdowns. Noah Fant has had an underwhelming career so far and Colby Parkinson has shown very little in the game time he’s been afforded.

I’m excited to see if Rashaad Penny can continue his form at the end of last season and I really like Ken Walker. Yet Penny still has to prove he can stay healthy and produce for a longer period than a brief flourish at the end of his contract year. Walker has a hernia that Pete Carroll is being worryingly evasive about. Right now, I just want him to be available.

It’s been pleasing to see Travis Homer and Deejay Dallas look brighter in pre-season than previous years but it’s hard to muster much enthusiasm if either is thrust into extended playing time.

On the offensive line there’s plenty of promise at offensive tackle but that’s what it is. Promise and hope for the future. This is fine — you don’t expect any more than that from rookie tackles. Growing pains are inevitable though and there might be some ugly moments this season. We just have to give them time and hope they can develop into good, quality players. They will probably not start their careers at that level — probably far from it.

And then there’s the quarterback situation. I know some people have convinced themselves that Geno Smith can be adequate. The cold, stark reality is Geno Smith is still, believe it or not, Geno Smith. The only alternative remains Drew Lock. The people suggesting this is the worst quarterback room in the league have a valid point.

That’s the offense. If we were reflecting on this unit for a NFC West foe, we’d be grinning from ear to ear.

It’s all about the rookie tackles bedding in and a running game being sustained to set the table for the future. That has to be the hope and the aim. If the running game isn’t strong and consistent, this unit could have major, major problems and the quarterback — unlike previous years — will not be there to bail you out.

On defense, the unit lacks stars. The hope is that someone like Darrell Taylor can emerge as one but the truth is we just don’t know. He showed tremendous promise in 2021 but going from what we saw last year to even a 2018 Frank Clark level player is a big step. Let’s hope he can show it.

They have a collection of big-bodied interior defenders but lack a truly disruptive pass rusher in the middle. I’m not convinced Uchenna Nwosu will be a difference maker. Alton Robinson deserves a chance to (finally) show what he can do but will he ever get it? Boye Mafe — while filled with talent and potential — will likely experience the same ups and downs as the young offensive tackles.

There is a chance in the future that Taylor and Mafe could be a frightening double-act. Again though, it’s more hope than guarantee at this point. The Seahawks are trying to develop players to solve a long-lasting problem (X-factor pass rushers). It’s good that they have two projects but the reality is they won’t start the season with a proven blue-chip defensive lineman.

Linebacker depth is bizarrely thin. Big things are expected of Jordyn Brooks but I still think he has a lot to prove — especially now that Bobby Wagner has moved on. If he was to get injured, it could be a crisis without an obvious solution.

In the secondary, the cornerbacks are already banged up and hurting. Michael Jackson has been the big winner in pre-season and should get a start. The two rookies — Coby Bryant and Tariq Woolen — are showing promise. Yet, once again, there’s very little proven quality here. It’s just more hope and optimism that answers will emerge.

At safety you have a very solid, dependable player in Quandre Diggs but not someone who is going to necessarily tilt games in your favour. Then there’s Jamal Adams — a player who might well have already had the best days of his career. He’s often injured and facing a make-or-break season. It’s fair to call that trade an expensive disaster so far. It’s hard to invest any faith in Adams staying healthy, let alone providing the big impact his price-tag demands.

As with the offense, there’s some young hope for the future but not enough big-time talent to feel confident projecting this as a unit that can have major success. Throw in a rookie defensive coordinator and some changes to the scheme — and it might also be some time before everyone settles into a rhythm. It’s been so long since the Seahawks rushed the passer properly and turned the ball over regularly you’d be forgiven for wondering if they remember how to do it.

Finally, special teams. Jason Myers continues to hint that his one-good year in 2020 was an outlier while the kick coverage was appalling in pre-season. For a team looking to play close to the vest this season, this wasn’t a good sign.

For me this roster looks ripe to struggle. I suspect this team is somewhere between 2010 and 2011. Remember — in 2010 they already had Russell Okung, Earl Thomas, Chris Clemons and Marshawn Lynch. They had experience at quarterback and a few other experienced players. But it was year-one of a rebuild so they had some big weak areas too (a bit like this year).

They won seven games in 2010 but let’s not forget four of those wins came from within a division Seattle won at 7-9. They also defeated the 2-14 Carolina Panthers.

They have no such luxury this year. The NFC West is much harder. There probably won’t be four wins to claim. They might be able to find them elsewhere against the likes of the Lions, Falcons, Jets and Giants — although it’s a stretch to think they’ll win all of their perceived ‘winnable’ games.

Contests against the Chiefs, Buccs and Chargers could be terrifying experiences.

For what it’s worth — and I may live to regret saying this — I kind of fancy them in week one against Denver. I could see them pulling off an upset. Admittedly, I can also see a very long evening too. It should be a fascinating game.

This roster has the look of a team primed to pick in the top five or six in 2023 and I don’t think first or second overall is out of the question.

I’m perfectly comfortable with that. They need another draft to add more talent because there simply isn’t enough right now. Short term pain for longer term gain has always been the best approach this year after trading Russell Wilson. I’m tempted to give them credit for committing to it by sticking to their guns at quarterback. It would’ve been easy enough to make some half-baked trade to marginally upgrade. This almost looks like a stoic, disciplined commitment to mediocrity. Either that or complete misplaced confidence.

I sense fans overly familiar with certain players are elevating the roster to a level that is unwarranted and I fear those same fans will react accordingly when things don’t go as they expect.

They need so much more. This could be ugly.

My suggestion would be to embrace it and look forward to the return of college football and the start of the biggest draft season this franchise has arguably ever had.

If you missed it yesterday check out my piece on the non-quarterback prospects eligible for the 2023 draft.

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2023 draft preview — the non-quarterbacks

Bryan Bresee — very, very impressive

Since the decision to trade Russell Wilson, I’ve set about watching every 2021 game of the four main 2023 eligible quarterbacks (at least in my opinion) — Will Levis, Tyler Van Dyke, Bryce Young and C.J. Stroud.

I’ve also watched a decent chunk of all of the other bigger name quarterbacks. This is clearly going to be the focus for the blog (and the wider fan base) for the next few months.

That said, the other positions will have a big say in how this all plays out. For me, the best three players in terms of talent and potential are not quarterbacks.

Neither is the 2023 quarterback class an otherworldly, once in a generation, can’t-miss group. There are some intriguing players and others can emerge. Yet there are two defensive linemen, for example, that I think could be special very early in their NFL careers.

These are all things to consider as we move forward.

I spent the last three weeks watching non-quarterbacks to form opinions before the start of the new college football season.

The three best players eligible for 2023

Will Anderson (DE, Alabama)
Bryan Bresee (DT, Clemson)
Bijan Robinson (RB, Texas)

When I watched this trio, they all appear to have legit star quality. They look like blue-chippers with the potential to come into the league and be brilliant very quickly.

Everyone knows about Will Anderson by now. He is the best pass rusher to enter the league since Myles Garrett and might be even better. He had an astonishing 33.5 TFL’s in 2021 alone, along with 17.5 sacks. Those are practically unbelievable numbers, even taking into consideration he plays for Alabama.

Anderson has everything — an ideal frame, power, quickness, attitude, leadership, intensity, twitch. I don’t think it’s a coincidence he wears #31 (Kam Chancellor’s number) because he plays with the same physicality.

He’s a special, special player — a legit #1 overall pick in any draft. It’s distinctly possible that a team needing a quarterback will draft him instead because he’s just too good. We’re talking about the Andrew Luck of pass rushers here.

Bryan Bresee isn’t far behind in terms of talent, although his situation is different. He suffered an ACL injury a year ago and we’ll need to see how he comes back from that. His tape, however, is a sight to behold.

Considering he’s 6-5 and 300lbs, his athleticism and mobility are sensational and constantly flash on tape. He’s extremely active and runs like a player weighing 270lbs. He slips blocks to knife into the backfield, he works across the line with ease and he can be unblockable. Bresee plays with violent hands and he shows explosive qualities in his lower body. His effort and intensity is top notch and he plays with a fantastic motor. He’s nicknamed ‘The Hulk’ by his team mates.

I watched some practise tape from Clemson to watch him in 1v1 situations and ended up rubbing my eyes at this one move he pulled — engaging the blocker, spinning away from his grasp and then just exploding and accelerating. It was like watching a top-level speed rusher — yet he’s 300lbs.

At SPARQ he ran an eye-watering 4.21 short shuttle at 290lbs and also jumped a 31 inch vertical. He was the top SPARQ tester among all defensive tackles in his year group.

For me, Bresee has the potential to be the next great interior rusher. Those are so rare these days, it won’t be a surprise if he goes in the same range as Ndamukong Suh and Gerald McCoy. He does need to prove he’s fully recovered from the injury though (and can stay healthy).

Twenty years ago, Bijan Robinson would’ve been a top-five lock. Nowadays he’ll likely suffer because of the way the running back position is viewed. However — we still see top-rated runners go in the top-10 and I think there’s a legit chance someone will take Robinson in that range next year.

He has a wow-factor on tape and looks close to perfection as a running back prospect. There have been some hyped-up running backs in the last decade but arguably none showed the complete game Robinson possesses. The way he cuts and changes direction is better than any runner I’ve covered since starting this blog in 2008. He looks, at times, like a better version of a pre-injury Nick Chubb at Georgia.

Robinson has the ideal frame and combines explosive power and physicality with fantastic acceleration. He breaks tackles and gains yards after contact but he also has the ability to cut on a dime and just accelerate like a Formula 1 car. If anyone gets near him, he delivers a violent stiff-arm. He can get the hard yards and he can hit home runs.

Whatever your view on the running back position — watching him is a treat.

I am not suggesting these three players will go 1-2-3. However, I would suggest they are the best three players I have scouted ahead of the start of the new season.

Other players with first round potential

Trenton Simpson (LB, Clemson)
Jalen Carter (DT, Georgia)
Jaxon Smith-Njigba (WR, Ohio State)
Michael Mayer (TE, Notre Dame)
Kelee Ringo (CB, Georgia)

Trenton Simpson is the ideal linebacker for an attack minded defensive scheme that wants to send a lot of pressure in exotic blitz packages. He’s said to be 6-3 and 240lbs but I’m not sold on that. Simpson supposedly has 6% body fat and can run in the 4.3’s with a sub-1.5 10-yard split.

It’s that combination of incredible athleticism and quickness that stands out on tape. You can line him up as the extra man off the edge and he’s a heat-seeking missile to the passer. He blitzes with a real purpose and determination. He has shown the ability to put offensive tackles on skates with his sheer will and desire to make a play and his raw speed and agility means he eats up ground and changes direction so quickly — he’s difficult to grapple.

I love Simpson’s fire and he can be a big-time tone-setter for a unit. He’s not just a blitzer though. There are snaps on tape where he lines up in the slot and breaks up passes. He’s willing to fill a gap on short yardage runs.

The only question is will his aggressive, attack-minded approach translate to the next level against better opponents? And is he only a fit in very specific schemes? There’s so much to like though and he could be a big time player in the 2023 draft.

Jalen Carter felt like a less spectacular version of Bryan Bresee. He loves a swim move and he’s very good at it. Carter shows an ability to swim away from blockers then burst to the QB. I don’t think he’s as athletic, physical or as active as Bresee but he’s capable of putting interior blockers into bad positions with his angles and then winning with superior movement and power.

He was respected enough to receive a fair dose of double teams, even on Georgia’s loaded D-line. His get-off is highly impressive at times. Carter also has a violent rip and punch leading into the swim. He shows impressive mobility on stunts when he has to travel — hinting at plus athleticism. He has a good understanding of leverage with his hands and positioning. He has a chance to be a first round pick.

Jaxon Smith-Njigba is just an incredible player who could take the NFL by storm. I just want to see his testing numbers before committing to that, because he only ran a 4.64 at SPARQ. Nevertheless, I thought he was Ohio State’s best receiver last year and the two guys starting with him both went in the top-15.

Highly drafted tight ends have a tendency to disappoint and that might play against Michael Mayer. However, he looks second only to Georgia’s Brock Bowers in terms of potential in college football. He’s a very rounded player but also an X-factor in the passing game and should be viewed as a likely first rounder (again depending on testing results).

My Kelee Ringo notes were pretty limited but telling. He looks the part. He’s big (6-2, 215lbs), long, physical and is said to be a legit 4.3 runner. Enough said.

Other players worth discussing

Myles Murphy (DE, Clemson) is a big power end but he doesn’t win with speed. He shoots gaps and wins with hand-use and power. I’m not convinced he has the twitch to be a first rounder and I feel like we’ve seen this type of prospect a lot over the years — a big name who ends up on day two because he doesn’t have the splash and the quickness to trouble offensive tackles off the edge. He just doesn’t seem all that spectacular to me. Is he a difference maker? Not sure.

Derrick Hall (DE, Auburn) is a very active pass rusher who can engage/disengage and finish. He’s shown glimpses of a power rush but can dip and straighten quite well too. He lacks top-level bend but has some quickness for a well-built frame. I like his intensity and he plays to the whistle. He’s not the twitchiest though and there’s some stiffness there. I think he’s likely a day-two type.

Isaiah Foskey (LB, Notre Dame) has busy hands and despite a lack of size he can work to control blocks with jab-jab punches. He doesn’t have elite quicks but can work a path to the QB and he’s tough to stop when he bends the arc. Foskey is capable of controlling blocks with his left arm, leaving his right arm free to swipe at the ball if possible or read the play — creating freedom to react and process. He has shown ability to slap hands down to win leverage battles. He’ll be very scheme-specific but he could be a menace as a 3-4 OLB.

Steele Chambers (LB, Ohio State) is very comfortable in coverage and moves with great fluidity. He can read a pass play, know which area to drop into and play the ball. He’s undersized but active at the LOS. He won’t fit every team but has a knack for making plays.

Jack Campbell (LB, Iowa) looks big, stiff, carries a lot of blocks and I wanted to see a lot more than I did on tape.

Will McDonald (DE, Iowa State) is raw AF but his potential will have teams salivating. He’s only 236lbs (can he get up to 250?) but he supposedly can jump a 42 inch vertical. If you let him rush the edge he can do what teams want — bend and straighten to the QB. He looks athletic and he can deceive blockers with a subtle drop of the shoulder or a shimmy at the POA. McDonald looks long and lean and teams are going to see him as a bit of a prototype.

However, I also saw snaps where he struggles to disengage against tight ends. He overextends and leans into too many engagements. He also plays with effort but lacks any kind of mean streak. I think he could go early, though, with teams believing he can be something of a sack specialist early in his career as he works to become more rounded.

I didn’t see anything to get excited about with Tyree Wilson (DE, Texas Tech). He appears to lack twitch off the edge. There are some decent bull rushes on tape but it was a pretty ‘meh’ experience watching him.

Mazi Smith (DT, Michigan) controls blockers up front. It’s extremely rare that he loses a 1v1. He shows evidence of being able to slip blocks and penetrate which is good for his role as a nose tackle. He can contain the interior to provide opportunities for others. It was great to see him chase after screen passes like a much smaller man. He’s the ideal anchor up front, is expected to test well and he could be a day two prospect as an interior stopper.

If you missed it a few months ago — here is my big article on the 2023 eligible quarterbacks. I’ve watched a lot more of these players than most — so if you’re looking for a QB guide going into the new season, it’s worth checking out.

Plus if you missed my live stream with Jeff Simmons yesterday, you can watch it here:

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Some thoughts after the Dallas game

Earlier this week I posted a video explaining why I think the Seahawks will now go after Jimmy Garoppolo.

Watching the final pre-season game makes me more convinced than ever that this is what they’ll do.

Geno Smith has been named the starter almost by default. Look at his pre-season. He has played in three games and delivered just one touchdown drive. That’s despite playing two whole halves of football against Pittsburgh and Chicago’s backups.

In this game against Dallas, they even gave him Tyler Lockett to try and get something working. Yet it still ended with a back-breaking sack leading to a field goal.

Sam Williams, just as he did in college, had Charles Cross’ lunch money. Yet some of the blame goes to the quarterback. He took an age to get rid of the ball. That play easily could’ve knocked them out of field goal range. He had to get rid of the football.

He also has a knack for wandering into trouble when he panics in the pocket.

That was him done for the night and the pre-season. A thoroughly mediocre, fairly miserable experience for anyone who witnessed it.

I continue to believe that the New Orleans game last season, rather than the Jacksonville one, is the reality of a Smith-led offense. And I think the Seahawks know it too.

As the ‘leader in the clubhouse’ in this quarterback race, Smith hasn’t had to press. It was clear in this game that Drew Lock felt he had to do something drastic and it led to mind-numbing errors.

Lock deserves criticism — especially for the second pick. Yet I couldn’t help but feel like he was set up for a night like this. Despite Carroll’s insistence to the contrary — Smith has had the vast bulk of the training camp snaps with the #1 offense. Lock’s untimely illness meant he played in one fewer pre-season game too.

Smith has been able to play ‘not to lose the job’. If the Seahawks are looking for someone to do the basics, how was Lock ever going to show that from his second-ranked position? If he’d played a safe old game of football against Dallas, he wasn’t winning the gig. He knew he had to shine and go above and beyond.

It’d be very easy to suggest this has been no serious competition. And for that reason, I’m inclined to give Lock some sympathy for what happened as he made ill-advised throws and pressed like crazy.

However, he blew any hopes of starting with that performance. It was ugly. It was exactly what he showed at Missouri and Denver. He is wildly erratic — capable of brilliant throws and torturous mistakes.

Smith isn’t good enough. Lock is too erratic. All signs point to them going after Garoppolo to see if he can produce more than Smith is capable of.

I know the replies to this article will be calls to simply ‘suck with Smith’ for a draft pick. As also noted earlier in the week — I am comfortable with that but I’m not sure Carroll can afford that. If the Seahawks start badly against Denver, the pressure ramps up. His legacy comes into question. He’ll be portrayed as the man who ran the franchise quarterback out of town and then produced an appalling product.

If they continue to play poorly — and if Russell Wilson excels with the Broncos — that noise will grow even more.

The Seahawks do not communicate well with their fans. The owner never speaks. Carroll has spent months insisting this isn’t a rebuild — when all he had to do was be honest to fans. The team has traded a franchise legend (and cut another). The aim is to compete like crazy in 2022 but admittedly, this is a process that will require a bit of time (and some patience).

Carroll’s words — no rebuild, ‘we have two #1 quarterbacks’, ‘Lock is really good’, ‘Geno Smith was awesome when he started last year’, ‘the two quarterbacks have had the same number of reps/opportunities in camp’ — has felt like another example, sadly, of insulting our intelligence.

It’s on a par with ‘the Wilson trade talk is a media creation’ from a year ago — followed by telling the local media over and over again it was a non-story, thus making people look silly when the trade eventually happened.

It’ll be interesting to see if the members of the media impacted by that will be less inclined to sympathise with the Seahawks if this season goes south.

Can’t we just have a bit of honesty from Carroll for once? I feel like I’ve been listening to a desperate politician for too long. I’m ready for some straight talking. I’m ready, as a fan, to be treated with a bit of respect.

That doesn’t mean coming out and announcing, ‘yeah, we’re trash’. There are ways and means of handling this beyond the nonsense (‘we have two #1 QB’s’) that we’ve heard so far.

Because this looks, to me, like a team that is going to really struggle in 2022. I say that while also believing there’s a good chance for some typical NFL magic in week one against Denver. If that game was being played in week six, I think Denver wins at a canter. Kudos to the NFL for making it week one — increasing the chances of an upset win, in front of a jacked-up crowd.

Regardless, this team looks bad. People inclined to not hear any criticism of the Seahawks ever (and they are back out in force, sadly) will say it’s pre-season, it’s premature etc.

I think we can tell. I think they are scrambling around trying to piece this together. They have treated pre-season differently to other teams — keeping starters on the field for longer for the purpose of figuring things out. Yes — other key names have been rested. But there’s been a competitive element — an importance — to this pre-season in Seattle that other teams simply didn’t have in 2022.

And the Seahawks have been rubbish.

I think the best case scenario for this team is a 2011-style rough start and strong finish — which would be fine but isn’t a given.

And again — I’m comfortable with a bad year to gain draft position. I am, however, unsure whether I want to endure two or three more years of Carroll just because it’s convenient for the owners before a sale. It just feels like this is a franchise that needs a fresh start. I think this pre-season, and this QB competition, shows that.

I’ll happily admit if I’m wrong when the season starts.

I think Carroll knows he has to show some positivity on the field to keep the fans on board. And that’s why I think Garoppolo arrives next week, with the objective of replacing Geno Smith if/when he produces mediocre results.

It might not make them a good team. But it might help them avoid being terrible. And that’s probably what they want — to get into the 2023 draft without completely collapsing into a 3-4 win franchise.

My other thoughts on the Dallas game are limited to these notes:

— Myles Adams needs to make the team. He’s been very disruptive in pre-season and looks like a heck of a player. A good find and well done to Clint Hurtt and the staff for helping him reach a new level in pre-season.

— The depth at receiver is shocking. I think they spent their money very poorly in free agency and a better WR3 was required. This will likely be a draft priority again next year, I sense.

— Abraham Lucas is the real deal. It was ridiculous he lasted to round three. What an absolute steal for the Seahawks and an inspired selection.

— Alton Robinson has flashed enough to again make you question — what the heck have they been doing with this guy for the last couple of years?

— The depth on this team is concerning. They are a Jordyn Brooks injury, for example, away from catastrophe at linebacker (in my opinion). It just feels like a front heavy roster with some young talent we hope develops — then not a lot else.

— Does anyone else just think this is going to be another year where the Seahawks don’t make the most of their tight ends?

Anyway, roll on the real football. I’ve got an article coming up looking at my favourite non-QB draft prospects for 2023 (with notes on a few other players too). So stay tuned for that on Monday.

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Things I think about the 2022 Seahawks (and beyond)…

There’s a point of view I’ve spent a lot of time considering over the last few months and increasingly, I agree with it.

Mike Florio is the source of the opinion. He believes when you draft a young quarterback it’s important to pair them with an offensive minded Head Coach. That way, if the offense succeeds, you won’t lose the coach (and the offense) to another team seeking to appoint the next ‘hot-shot’ offensive mind as their leader.

Look at the Atlanta Falcons for example. They were the dominant NFC team in 2016. Matt Ryan won the MVP, playing in Kyle Shanahan’s offense. When they dumped Seattle out of the playoffs, Pete Carroll said his team had run into ‘a buzzsaw’. They reached the Super Bowl and should’ve won it.

Shanahan was then appointed Head Coach of the 49ers, where they’ve since reached one Super Bowl and another NFC Championship. The Falcons, however, collapsed once their offensive coordinator departed. Ryan never repeated his MVP form. The thing that made Atlanta such a fearsome opponent — the offense — travelled to California with Shanahan.

Further to that, consistency is vitally important. Nothing unsettles a young quarterback like a regular churn of different coordinators and voices giving the instructions.

As the Seahawks prepare to inevitably draft a quarterback in 2023, I can’t help but wonder about the best environment for that player to walk into.

Is it to join a team with a leading offensive mind running the operation — creating a two-headed monster where the QB and Head Coach are completely aligned to drive the franchise forwards (ideally paired with a proven, experienced defensive coordinator)?

Or is it to join a team fronted by a defensive minded Head Coach with a controlling vision of the team, who appoints an offensive coordinator to do essentially what he wants (with, perhaps, some willingness to be open to new suggestions as long as it works alongside the grander philosophy)?

For a lot of people, it’s a no-brainer.

I have to say, I’m one of those people.

Especially when said Head Coach has appointed a collection of underwhelming offensive coordinators, none of which have gone on to earn Head Coaching jobs themselves despite having the opportunity to work with the likes of Russell Wilson, Marshawn Lynch and D.K. Metcalf over the years.

Yet the truth is Pete Carroll will probably be with this team until he decides he’s had enough. The timeframe of an eventual sale of the franchise aligns perfectly with his contract. It’s convenient for the placeholder owners to invest their trust in Carroll and John Schneider to see this through until a sale is completed.

Thus, when the likes of Mike McDaniel, Brian Daboll, Nathaniel Hackett, Kevin O’Connell, Doug Pederson and Josh McDaniels were appointed in the off-season — there was never any real possibility of them replacing Carroll and either working with Russell Wilson or leading the post-Wilson era of Seahawks football.

With the team floundering in pre-season and familiar concerns returning, it’s a comfortable fit to slip into a pair of envy shoes and wonder what the future could be like if this was a team being led by an offensive guru.

Of course, it’s also very easy to have your head turned by the next exciting offensive coordinator. We have to concede that aside from Pederson, none of the names above have Carroll’s track record as a leader of a football team.

I am starting to wonder a couple of things though.

Firstly, regardless of what happens in 2022, is it right to draft your next franchise quarterback without pairing them with an offensive minded Head Coach for the reasons noted at the start of the article?

Secondly, is Shane Waldron actually any good (if he is indeed still with the team next year)? And how do you properly judge him if you’re going to give him Geno Smith at quarterback — or ask him to lead a running attack that will likely face a stacked box every week because there’s no serious threat in the passing game?

Thirdly, after a really challenging 2021 season, is Carroll even going to be motivated to carry on in 2023 if this year goes as well as it’s threatening to? The Seahawks don’t get to have a 2011 season just because they plan to — ending with a bit of a flourish, developing talent and feeling close.

There’s every chance this will be a bad, bad season.

If that happens, it’s going to put a lot of pressure on Carroll. The team is already being booed in pre-season. People like me might be fully prepared to embrace a difficult year in order to set up the future. A lot of other fans are going to look at a situation where Carroll oversaw the departure of Wilson and then, possibly, led the Seahawks to the depths of the NFL, and say this isn’t acceptable.

This will be especially difficult for Carroll if Wilson’s Broncos have a great season.

Maybe he would carry on until the bitter end? Alternatively, perhaps ownership would also find itself under pressure to not be seen to be absent. After all — Jody Allen never speaks. We don’t know what the ‘plan’ is here. If she’d clarified this is a process, people would be more likely to accept it. Yet silence is often interpreted as complacency — fair or not.

A parting, mutually, might not be totally out of the question between team and Head Coach — forcing some action where ownership would be facing a huge decision they’d need to get right. Then again, I’m not sure Carroll would be placing his future in the hands of Geno Smith and Drew Lock if he felt like he wasn’t going to get a chance to draft a quarterback in 2023, whatever the results of 2022.

I appreciate this is all a bit premature and some will, not unfairly, accuse me of overreacting to pre-season. My counter, at least to the second part of that, is there are two types of pre-season reaction. When a good team underperforms, it’s easier to give them the benefit of the doubt. When a team led by Geno Smith underperforms — leaving its starters on the field for a half and not scoring a point on offense, tackles appallingly on defense and plays special teams like a bunch of random strangers — question marks are far more legitimate.

I fear for the Seahawks in 2022 and thus, I also fear for the impact on Carroll’s reputation in Seattle.

I admit I think a big call had to be made either way with Wilson and it was good that the franchise didn’t try and stumble on for another year. I also think a big opportunity remains to rebuild through this 2022 draft class and the 2023 group upcoming.

Yet I think Carroll’s recent statement that, basically, the ‘competition’ aspect of pre-season is now over and they’re resorting to getting everyone ready for week one is something of an admission of how far away they are from being a functioning team. Every effort is being put into not being embarrassed in primetime, week one, against Russell Wilson and Denver — because that would be incredibly damaging.

If that happens anyway — watch out. Things could get ugly quickly. Patience with Carroll could wear thin. The Wilson trade doesn’t buy you time like you had in 2010 to build a team. It actually creates pressure to show you can move forward — to show positive signs, if nothing else, minus the one player who kept you competitive for so many years.

I’m not completely writing the Seahawks off, though. I accept there’s a chance they can develop and grow, even if the wins don’t come. A 2011-style season is not out of the question and would be a positive result.

Yet I am not currently getting a 2011 vibe — aside from the comparable quarterback situations. People will suggest there’s maybe some recency bias involved in that opinion — but I do remember the 2011 off-season somewhat fondly. The lockout ending right before the season enabled the Seahawks to add three big names, at a cost, in free agency (something they’ve avoided doing again since then). This year there’s been very positive vibes around Tariq Woolen and Coby Bryant, plus the two young offensive tackles and Boye Mafe. I’m not sure it’s quite as comparable to the emergence of Doug Baldwin, Richard Sherman and K.J. Wright — plus the arrival of Brandon Browner.

In pre-season they were quite competitive in 2011. They won two games against the Chargers and Raiders and narrowly lost to Denver by three points. They also lost to the Vikings in a game that was 13-7 with two minutes to go.

Again, it’s pre-season. I appreciate trying to compare pre-seasons will induce some mocking comments. I also do think the Seahawks have felt messy, uncompetitive and shambolic in this 2022 pre-season so far. How else do you explain being 24-0 down to the rebuilding Bears, who benched most of their starters after the opening exchanges?

Right now I’d predict Seattle is a shoe-in for a top-10 pick. Which, in my opinion, wouldn’t be a bad thing at all. Yet I do have reservations about the best way to proceed if that comes to fruition. And I do wonder how fans will react to it if the season goes that way and Wilson’s Broncos excel.

Ownership, the front office and Pete Carroll can’t assume people will tolerate a bad product when the message consistently is to play down the nature of this rebuild or in the case of Jody Allen, not say anything in years other than one statement about your unwillingness to sell the team at the moment.

Essentially, this either can’t be as bad as many of us are starting to fear. Or there has to be the kind of honest, open communication with the fan base — aka, true leadership — that this franchise has sadly lacked for too long.

And if tough decisions need to be made, certain people should be prepared to make them.

Let’s hope it doesn’t have to come to that.

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Instant reaction: What was that?


That’s how long I lasted. Then I figured — balls to it, I’m writing the review now.

As appealing as the fourth quarter was, I’d had enough. Half an eye was probably too much as I began to type.

That was absolutely dreadful.

Forget that it’s pre-season week two for a moment. Even forget this is a rebuilding team playing on a short week.

The Seahawks were totally unprepared to play this game today against a comparably retooling opponent. They couldn’t function. Everything was bad.

It was a repeat of last week, only minus the eventual settling down and gradual improvement.

If nothing else, Chicago looked organised and functioning (until a couple of their own special teams snafu’s late on).

The Seahawks were atrocious.

The special teams in particular highlighted that. It was a horror show last week and it was worse tonight.

You had the Justin Coleman cock-up, costing 20-yards of field position because he couldn’t stand in the right spot under no pressure. Jason Myers missed another field goal. Cade Johnson muffed a punt leading to a Chicago touchdown. There were big kick returns for the Bears.

What exactly have they been doing in camp on special teams?

There were a ton of penalties and mental mistakes. Charles Cross — so impressive last week — looked absolutely terrified tonight. He had four false starts and a holding penalty. He was hardly alone though. Gabe Jackson basically turned the ball over by giving away a ‘hands to the face’ flag on a fourth down conversion. Seattle then punted on 4th and 12.

The Seahawks finished with 13 penalties compared to Chicago’s three.

The offense didn’t function aside from a couple of nice runs. I suppose it’s a positive that the runs happened, given how important it’ll be in 2022. But this was beyond ugly. It was unwatchable.

Geno Smith was hardly the singular problem but neither does he inspire anything. The ESPN broadcast worked especially hard to promote his claim to start but this is what games will be like when they don’t dominate with the run. He is severely limited and will never elevate the offense. On the days when things are not rolling, he is not going to carry you through.

A quarterback, even a point guard, has to be able to get things going. They have to provide a bit of inspiration. Not just struggle along when things go south.

Everyone loves to mention the Jacksonville game last season but nobody mentions the awful New Orleans performance. That’s what is coming.

The muffed punt to end the first half, followed by the boos from the sparse crowd, summed it up. Yet they started the second half with a penalty, a three-and-out and then gave up an easy touchdown drive to Nathan Peterman.

That’s about as bad a performance as was physically possible tonight. It’s hard to think of anyone who improved their stock. Abraham Lucas maybe?

Look — we all know what this season is. And I maintain I’m comfortable enduring this season to max out draft position and hopefully get a quality, young quarterback in the 2023 draft.

That doesn’t mean this team and staff are shielded from criticism though. This was a disgraceful showing.

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The inevitable is now all but confirmed

Geno Smith is basically confirmed as the starter

The quarterback ‘competition’ is starting to feel like a dog and pony show.

For all the talk of the race being on, Pete Carroll’s language suggests otherwise.

Take Saturday’s opening pre-season game. Any enquiries into Drew Lock, or the QB battle in general, were brought back to Geno Smith’s performance. In two separate press conferences, Carroll has referenced that Smith ‘could’ve been 10 for 10’ in terms of completions.

Lock received a more lukewarm review.

Then, on Tuesday, Lock was given an opportunity to play with the starters in practise from the get-go. A first during the pre-season. He was even declared the starter against Chicago. Yet Carroll also stated, clearly, that Smith was still ahead of Lock and in pole position to win the job.

Now that Lock has tested positive for Covid and will miss the Bears game, the writing is on the wall. The competition is all but over.

Lock will only have one more pre-season game to impress. Even if he excels against Dallas on the 26th August, he’s not going to overtake Smith is he? It would’ve already taken a strong outing against Chicago and building momentum.

Carroll is unlikely to hand the keys to Lock off the back of the final pre-season game.

So Geno Smith will be Seattle’s starter. Lock will likely only get an opportunity if Smith performs especially poorly during the season.

It remains the case that there are a couple of ways of looking at this.

Firstly — for all the fair criticisms of Smith — he is a convincing communicator. His statement at a press conference recently that he ‘had Drew’s back’ whatever the outcome of the competition was an inspired line. It’s probably more impactful than any throw he’s completed over the last few weeks.

Leadership is a key aspect of quarterbacking. That line, timed to perfection, perfectly illustrated Smith’s leadership chops.

Lock doesn’t come across poorly during interviews but neither is he particularly impressive or convincing. You can imagine Smith leading this team. He speaks with conviction and authority. I suspect the locker room will be fully behind him because of this aspect, even if there’s a general indifference towards each players’ performance.

Given this is a season where the Seahawks will talk a lot about competing (but ultimately settle for development), having someone who is highly respected in the most important position is understandable. It might cause more issues than it’s worth to change on the basis of ‘upside’ or ‘the unknown’ — despite my own preference for those things.

At the same time, Geno is still Geno. He’s still the player with a career passer rating of 75.7, a touchdown/interception ratio of 34/37 and as he nears his 32nd birthday, it’s a legit possibility he wouldn’t still be in the NFL if it wasn’t for the Seahawks.

They’re probably not going to be much fun with Smith starting, which is the cross a lot of fans will have to bear. Games or wins will need to be earned in the trenches. Seattle will need to win up front — with the pass rush and running game likely dictating whether they have a shot week-to-week.

Personally I don’t mind that too much. It might seem wildly old-fashioned, uncool and against everything the frustrating world of the NFL on Twitter has become to say this. Yet I like physical football in the trenches. I enjoy watching teams run the ball well. I like great defensive line play.

I enjoy exciting, creative passing games too. But if given a choice, I probably would choose a classic Alabama vs LSU slog that finished 9-6 than a Big-12 game that finished 55-52.

Something in between is the ideal, rather than the two extremes, but you get the point.

As a consequence I’ve never felt compelled to be overly negative about Carroll’s brand of football. It does require, however, a proper ‘point guard’ to be enjoyable. I fear Smith will never produce that. I sense the game against New Orleans last season, where he couldn’t move the ball for toffee, will be witnessed more often than a routine win against Jacksonville (the worst team in the NFL last season).

Yet there were some encouraging signs from the O-line and D-line against Pittsburgh — plus the running game was motoring on.

So the Seahawks will give themselves an opportunity to be in some close games and they may sneak a win or two more than people are currently predicting. This is going to be a 2011 type season where there will be some absolute stinkers — but if the running game thrives and if young players emerge, the Seahawks will likely finish as a relatively competitive upstart unit.

Two things seem very certain though. Geno Smith is going to be Seattle’s starting quarterback and the Seahawks will know their top, 100% priority is going to be finding their next franchise quarterback in the 2023 draft.

A gentle reminder that Kentucky’s season starts on the 4th September. Miami begin the night before. Bring on the Will Levis and Tyler Van Dyke showcases.

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Thoughts on the Ugo Amadi / J.J. Arcega-Whiteside trade

J.J. Arcega-Whiteside is now a Seahawk

It felt somewhat inevitable that Ugo Amadi would be cut before the season started, unless he had a sparkling training camp.

His cap hit was $2.7m and moving on saved $2.5m. It’s not the most expensive deal but it was still too much for a player who hasn’t shown enough.

A safety in college, Amadi never really found a spot in Seattle. It’s telling that the Eagles are now listing him as a ‘DB’. That’s part of the problem. He’s not a particularly good nickel corner. He’s not convinced anyone to stick at safety. He can’t play outside and he isn’t a deatbacker type.

So what is he?

As a nickel in 2021 he earned a 43.7 PFF grade which felt warranted. He simply wasn’t very good.

You can carry a versatile depth piece on a cheap rookie deal. When they start costing nearly $3m, it’s time to move on.

The Seahawks have signed Justin Coleman (who played poorly in Pittsburgh) but could also give Coby Bryant a season at nickel or utilise Marquise Blair in that spot. Either way, they’re clearly comfortable with the options they have.

It was reported earlier in the day that Amadi would be cut. This is one of those moments where the Eagles saw an opportunity and the two teams came together to strike a deal before his release.

J.J. Arcega-Whiteside has been a bust in the NFL. A former second round pick, he’s simply too stiff and robotic. He showed that in college too — he just had a knack for making contested catches and winning 1v1’s.

He’s not particularly fast (4.50) or explosive (34 inch vertical) and there’s nothing spectacular about his profile.

The chances are he won’t amount to anything in Seattle. It’s not the best situation for him that he’s bulked up to 237lbs for a switch to tight end and now the Seahawks want him to play receiver again. Arcega-Whiteside was 225lbs at his combine.

Yet given the pending departure of Amadi anyway, why not have a look at a player once drafted seven spots higher than D.K. Metcalf? Especially when the team has a few injuries at receiver and (quite rightly) isn’t risking Metcalf or Tyler Lockett in these pre-season games.

He may well be cut in a week or two. We’ll see. It’s a shot to nothing.

These are the kind of moves where the Seahawks have struck gold in the past. There’s nothing wrong with having a look.

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