Author: Rob Staton (Page 1 of 386)

Sports Broadcaster, Journalist and creator of Seahawks Draft Blog in 2008.

Why I’m optimistic about the Seahawks in 2024 following the schedule release

Finishing a season with a good record often comes down to luck. You need to avoid injuries. You need 50/50 games to swing your way. You also need to typically benefit from a good schedule.

When I looked at Seattle’s last night, I thought it was pretty favourable. There are no ‘gauntlet’ runs like we saw a year ago. The toughest stretch is likely the Bills/Rams/Bye/Niners run in the middle but even that includes two home games, then a bye to prepare for San Francisco on the road.

They’ll get an ideal opportunity to start quickly. They get a rookie quarterback in Bo Nix in week one, with weeks to prepare ways to confuse and befuddle him on his NFL debut. The Patriots in week two are hardly a scary proposition — with either another rookie QB (Drake Maye) or Jacoby Brissett under center.

The Dolphins in week three will be a challenge. Miami tends to start seasons well then peter out. They don’t play well in cold weather, so facing them in December would’ve benefitted the Seahawks more. Yet this is still a very winnable game, even if it feels like a contest that could go either way.

I don’t really know why the Seahawks have the Lions’ number, especially in Detroit. Yet they do. Mike Macdonald and the Ravens feasted on the Lions last season too, destroying them 38-6. Again, it’s a tough game but winnable. Then it’s the Giants at home — another good chance to win.

Starting 4-2 or even 5-1 seems very achievable, which will create some wiggle room for what follows. Playing the Niners twice, Falcons, Bills and Rams has a feel of a run that could see the Seahawks end up losing more than they win in this stretch. Yet there are opportunities in the second half of the schedule to get back on track.

I actually feel quite optimistic about Seattle’s prospects now you can look at the schedule in list form.

A year ago they had a rock-hard schedule and still finished 9-8. This was despite playing some putrid offensive football at times — going whole halves without being able to move the ball at all. Their red zone and run-game was also useless. Then defensively, ‘hopeless’ would almost be a kind review down the stretch.

The offense will benefit from something as minor and simplistic as ‘running more in-routes’ and picking on opponent weaknesses — something the Seahawks frustratingly rarely did well under Pete Carroll. The offensive line still has a ton of question marks but the untapped potential of the skill players on the roster is crying out to be unleashed. I think Ryan Grubb, despite the fact he’s coming to the NFL for the first time, will be more than capable of getting more from the group.

Defensively, Macdonald turned the Ravens into the top unit in the league in two years. Rapid improvement can be expected, not just hoped for. Firstly, the additions made to the defensive line should finally see an improvement to the run game. Macdonald has shown an ability to deliver creative pressure and get production out of non-superstar pass rushers. Plus schematically it’s a whole new world — Carroll and his collection of understudies simply didn’t get the job done for way too long. We’re going to see a much more modern and different approach which should yield far better results. Not to mention — this is a unit that has seen major draft investment in the trenches and at cornerback.

The talent on the roster got this team to nine wins in each of the last two years. The idea that, with a better schedule this year, they could get to ten or eleven doesn’t seem far fetched.

I don’t think the roster is in a position currently to be a playoff force if they reach the post-season. The NFC is somewhat open, though, so you never know. But getting to 10-7 or 11-6 is not fanciful as a projection. There are reasons it might not happen — rookie coaches, question marks at certain positions, injuries, luck etc. Yet I don’t really fear Macdonald’s inexperience, or Grubb’s, and actually think their creative minds will be a big positive. I also think the Seahawks benefit from being a team not reliant on one great player. We saw the Bengals collapse as a serious threat when Joe Burrow landed on IR last year. I don’t think there’s any one player on Seattle’s roster who would have that impact if his season was ended.

A year ago the Browns got to 11-6 despite starting four quarterbacks — the husk of what remains of Deshaun Watson’s career, PJ Walker, Dorian Thompson-Robinson and Joe Flacco. They did it despite losing Nick Chubb to a bad injury. The Steelers, with an awful quarterback situation, got to 10-7. The Bengals, without Burrow for the most part, limped to 9-8.

The Texans — with a rookie Head Coach and quarterback plus a rebuilding team — won 10 games. The Vikings, despite having a disastrous quarterback situation and having lost Justin Jefferson — won seven. The Saints — as god awful as they were in 2023 — won nine games.

All of this to me validates the idea the Seahawks could win more than the nine they had in 2023.

I don’t think it’s a great NFL at the moment. It’s why, ultimately, we ended up with the Chiefs and Niners in the Super Bowl again — despite the fact neither team played their best football in the regular season. The Lions should’ve won the NFC Championship game against San Francisco and the Packers should’ve won in Santa Clara the week prior. The 49ers are a quality team — but at no point in the post-season did they look close to their terrifying best. They were lucky, actually, to win the two games they did. The greater big-game experience possibly got them over the line — and likely benefitted the Chiefs too, as they never quite were at their glorious offensive best until the dying stages of the Super Bowl.

This doesn’t mean the Seahawks can suddenly jump into that realm but are they a million miles away from the Lions and Packers? Not for me. I don’t think there’s an enormous talent differential, anyway, and I think the Seahawks have made up the difference in terms of coaching chops this off-season.

And again, I have some reservations about the offensive line. Charles Cross has a lot to prove in year three, while there are question marks at every other position. I expect Geno Smith will continue to be streaky, as he’s been in his career, and probably go through ups and downs that have us questioning what the Seahawks should do beyond 2024.

Aside from that though they do have good players — including a really good looking defensive front to go with talent at corner. They have dynamic skill players. I suspect we might end up looking at the likes of DK Metcalf, Jaxson Smith-Njigba, Noah Fant and the running backs in a new light next year.

Some of these players will need to take a big step forward for the Seahawks to become a post-season threat — but it’s not beyond the realms of possibility.

Apparently their win projection is 8.8 for 2024. I’ll take the over on that — especially if the Bears are being given a very generous 8.5.

If you missed my latest spot on Puck Sports earlier today, please check it out:

Thoughts on ‘inside the draft room’ & Tony Pauline’s rookie minicamp report

I wanted to raise a couple of interesting articles that popped up online this week, relating to the Seahawks.

First, the now annual ‘inside the draft room’ piece from John Boyle. It’s been a must-read for the last three years, providing snippets of info from behind the scenes of Seattle’s draft. It’d be great, one day, to have the kind of video footage provided by the Colts and Bills (for example). For now though, there’s a little bit of intriguing detail to digest here.

According to the piece, Seattle had 19 players with first round grades. It speaks to this being a deeper class in terms of legit first round talent compared to previous years. My horizontal board had 20 players with ‘legit’ first round grades, so this was reassuring in terms of assessing the class.

Boyle also notes that after JJ McCarthy was taken with the 10th pick, Seattle still had 10 players with first round grades on the board. I found this interesting because it meant one of Michael Penix Jr or McCarthy had a legit first round grade. Is it too obvious to assume it was Penix Jr? Maybe. He was certainly, in my opinion, the more talented passer.

There’s been all kinds of mixed signals on Seattle’s interest in Penix Jr. James Palmer reported on the day of the first round that the Seahawks tried to move up to get him. Others then suggested that wasn’t accurate. I’ve heard it suggested they liked rather than loved Penix Jr. Yet it’s not easy to get a ‘legit’ first round grade. The Seahawks gave one of Penix Jr or McCarthy a mark in that range. Therefore, that suggests a degree of interest in one of the two. I think it’s at least interesting to note. They didn’t just have Caleb Williams and maybe the next two on an island and then no interest in the rest.

It’s also worth noting that the Seahawks can still give out relatively high grades and not intend to draft a player — because others might simply be graded much higher. Per Brady Henderson, JC Latham was supposedly a top target for them before he was taken seventh overall. Boyle, Henderson and others have suggested in their reporting since the draft that Byron Murphy, who they selected, was also a key target all along.

Boyle says in the piece that the Seahawks had a trade offer to move significantly back from #16, with 2025 stock being received in the return. A couple of people have reached out mentioning a possible trade partner here. I won’t say who because I can’t confirm anything — but if accurate, it would’ve been a really sizeable move down the board. We’re not just talking early 20’s here. The article lays it out. Schneider rejected the offer to go way down the board.

Another offer was reportedly made to move down into the 20’s but per Boyle’s account this was also dismissed. The article hints it wasn’t a serious offer.

Taliese Fuaga is name-checked as a player the Seahawks liked but by the point he was taken by New Orleans at #14, they were focused on Murphy. I thought Fuaga would’ve been seen as a can’t-miss pick by the Seahawks but it appears they always had their eye on Murphy as a preference.

On reflection it’s easy to see why they felt that way — and why some people called Murphy the best defensive player in the draft. Defensive tackles with his physical profile, playing style and production are incredibly rare. If we’re being honest, almost as rare as clear franchise quarterbacks. Although Murphy’s sack numbers weren’t ideal in college — everything else was top-tier including his pressure percentage. It’s unusual to be able to land a player like that at #16. In the 2014 draft I rated Aaron Donald as the top player in the class and was surprised he lasted to #13. Murphy is a very different player to Donald but this could similarly be an epic steal for the Seahawks.

Boyle’s piece notes that by the time round three started, Seattle had two interior O-liners ranked high on their board — Cooper Beebe and Christian Haynes. They reportedly tried to move up for Beebe but stayed put and gambled on Haynes lasting. He did — and they got one of their key targets.

Reading about day three, I feel even more confused about their decision making than I did before going through the article. They moved down from #102 to #121 and seemed to celebrate the move, despite Boyle writing: “It’s a calculated risk, the Seahawks only have a handful of players left on their board with fourth-round grades, but a risk they’re willing to take given the compensation.”

There’s no mention in the piece of Tyrese Knight and AJ Barner being players they graded in round four and that the gamble had paid off. I had a suspicion that maybe they didn’t see value and just took players they liked. This validates it somewhat — because previous articles have talked about how Seattle liked certain players on day three. It almost feels like, reading this piece, they settled on Knight and Barner.

Was it really worth such a big move down to #121 just for another fifth rounder? I didn’t think the trade provided much value at all — we’ll see if the picks pay dividends and hopefully they do. If anything I’d rather have moved up from #102 to get back into the third round. Despite the longevity concerns, four years of Payton Wilson sounds good to me for the sake of moving up four spots from #102.

The other article to note was a piece by Tony Pauline reviewing Seattle’s rookie minicamp.

Tony notes the Seahawks intend to use Byron Murphy in a similar way to Justin Madubuike in Baltimore. It makes sense — both are highly athletic and versatile. Mike Macdonald’s clever scheming and creativity turned Madubuike into an 18.5 sack player over the two seasons they worked together. In Maduibuike’s previous two years in Baltimore, he had just three sacks.

The piece also highlights Michael Jerrell, who apparently impressed coaches. Tony says his technique, not just his athleticism, stood out. I can’t speak to Jerrell’s playing ability but his physical profile is top notch. He’ll be interesting to track in pre-season and training camp. There were also positive words for UDFA’s Garrett Greenfield and Carlton Johnson. I gave Greenfield a fourth round grade based on physical upside although I thought he played with heavy feet. Johnson received a fifth round grade on my board due to excellent testing upside. They are both very capable of competing for a roster spot either this year or in the future.

Check out my latest show with Puck Sports

My latest show with Puck Sports is now available — we dig into the Seahawks draft, the state of the roster, why I have concerns about the O-line and a lack of consistency in the unit, Jamal Adams, Michael Penix Jr to the Falcons and more. Check it out!

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