Instant reaction: Seahawks win in Atlanta

Beast Mode.

This was by far Seattle’s most complete performance of the season.

Offense, defense, special teams. It was hard to find any fault today. It was all positive.

Even if Atlanta played up to the soft reputation they’ve inherited over the years, there was plenty working against the Seahawks.

At half time both Curt Menefee and Jimmy Johnson referred to the Falcons as the injured team. Johnson even called Seattle “healthy”.

Red Bryant. Max Unger. Sidney Rice. Russell Okung. Breno Giacomini. Percy Harvin. All missing starters for the Seahawks.

During the game they also lost Brandon Browner (groin) and Tony McDaniel (hamstring).

How many teams in the NFL could survive that many absent starters and win as comfortably as Seattle did today?

It was yet another 10am start. They were facing an opponent who knew defeat today and they were done. The refs made a number of questionable calls (the Michael Bennett sack/roughing call was painful to observe).

The Falcons still have Matt Ryan — the main reason they’ve won a lot of games in the Mike Smith era.

Despite all of that, 33-10 flatters the Falcons. And I mean that with the greatest respect — I have a lot of time for the Atlanta fans who were classy last year after the playoff game. But they’ll probably admit this had a similar feel to the huge blowouts Seattle earned at the end of last season.

After the game all I could think about was free agency. This could be a difficult off-season financially.

Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas will get new deals, that much is a given.

But they have to — HAVE TO — find a way to keep Michael Bennett and Golden Tate.

They are just as much of a priority.

Bennett should’ve had two sacks today, the refs put paid to that. He came into the game ranked as the #4 edge rusher in the NFL according to Greg Bedard.

He has been a genuine sensation for the Seahawks this year, the definitive unsung hero.

He might be the most underrated player in the NFL.

While many have flocked to crown Earl Thomas and Richard Sherman as the teams defensive MVP, for me it’s Bennett. He has been the missing piece of the puzzle. The glue that brings all the pieces together and completes the defense.

How long has this team longed for a guy who can rush inside? Bennett doesn’t just do that, he lines up off the edge too. Today he started instead of Red Bryant at the five technique and the run defense improved.

Keeping Michael Bennett is more important than keeping Bryant and Brandon Mebane on the roster. I would rather go into the draft and free agency feeling like I had to replace those two instead of having to replace the new star of Seattle’s defense.

I haven’t studied the financial ramifications (I will) but I believe they can save around $5m in cap just by cutting Mebane.

I would give that $5m to Bennett right off the bat. And then some.

Likewise, if you have to cut currently-injured Sidney Rice to keep Tate I think it’s a tough decision you just have to make. He might not put up huge numbers every week, but he’s become an integral part of this team.

You can’t teach that one-handed touchdown grab today. But it’s not just that — for two years now this team has been able to rely on Tate to make crucial plays at key times. Players like that don’t come around too often. Finding his replacement would become an immediate priority and dare I say — a near impossible task even with guys like Odell Beckham Jr available.

They could back-load contracts. Percy Harvin’s cap hit in 2013 is just $4.9m but escalates to $13.4m next year. Whatever way they do it, they have to be creative to keep this duo in Seattle despite the need to re-sign Sherman and Thomas (plus Russell Wilson a year later).

Darrell Bevell receives plenty of criticism when things go wrong, so it’s only fair he gets some praise today. That was a perfect gameplan. He dialled up the flea flicker at the right time, he brought balance to the offense. And he did what the fans have been calling for — ran Marshawn Lynch in the redzone.

Russell Wilson was again close to flawless and showed just how dangerous he can be with time to throw.

Russell Okung, Breno Giacomini and Max Unger could return next week, but the patchwork offensive line had a terrific game. To a man they all played well — and it was good to see Alvin Bailey get further time on the field.

Jermaine Kearse is a legit NFL receiver and should become an even greater part of the game plan going forward.

Christine Michael got some carries and showed there’s no reason why he shouldn’t be more involved.

Defensively, it was great to see defensive tackle Mike Brooks have an impact after being activated last night. He was unlucky to get cut after a productive pre-season and looked the part today.

Anyone else wonder what annoyed Cliff Avril to the point he had to be pulled away from one of the coaches on the sideline?

The run defense was much improved. Matt Ryan was pressured enough. It would be nice to see a counter to the QB-running-up-the-middle conversion we’ve seen the last two weeks. Ryan and Mike Glennon aren’t exactly Colin Kaepernick, after all.

The linebackers needed to step up after a sloppy game in the first half last week. Mission accomplished.

It’ll be interesting to see who they start with Browner likely to miss a few weeks. Considering Browner is a pending free agent who will be tough to keep, this could be an early audition for his replacement. I’d like to see Byron Maxwell get a shot, but Jeremy Lane got the nod last year ahead of him. Walter Thurmond has acted mostly in the slot it seems, but could move outside.

Next week will be another test of the run defense against Adrian Peterson. Nobody is going to take Minnesota lightly after last weeks contest against Tampa Bay. But the Seahawks have a superb opportunity to go 10-1 ahead of titanic games against New Orleans and San Francisco.

Elsewhere, the Rams’ 38-8 demolition of Indianapolis showed just how good that win in St. Louis was a couple of weeks ago. The Seahawks would be 10-0 if it wasn’t for Andrew Luck.

And the 49ers’ lousy performance and losing at home to Carolina gives Seattle a 2.5 game lead in the NFC West. San Francisco goes to New Orleans next week.


  1. chris

    i think cutting sidney rice and keeping golden tate at this point is a no brainer. kearse had more of an impact in this game than sidney has had in any game this season.

    maybe they informed avril that they would be releasing him next year to keep bennett.

  2. chris

    i would release red bryant way before mebane. how much money would cutting him save? i would rather cut red and avril and keep mebane.

    • Rob Staton

      As discussed a few times this year, unfortunately Mebane is too easy to cut. $5m off the cap, no dead money. Bryant and Avril have dead money in their deals. I’ll be shocked if Mebane is here next year. It’s virtually unavoidable to have a shot at keeping Bennett and Tate plus re-signing Thomas and Sherman.

      • dave crockett

        Cutting Mebane could be a necessary move, but one that could wound deeply. I hope we can get something out of Scruggs, Williams, and/or Hill next season.

        • Rob Staton

          It certainly could wound, but IMO the damage will be much greater if you lose Bennett and Tate. I look at it like this. What is the greater challenge? Finding a defensive tackle who isn’t asked to do barely any pass rushing, or finding a game changing pass rusher and a brilliant playmaker on offense?

          • JW

            This is why I was so interested in guys like Jenkins last draft. Block eating beef that is cheap.

            Hopefully YOLO works out.

      • Colin

        Actually Rob, the Seahawks can cut Red Bryant after this season and there’s zero dead money.

        • Rob Staton

          If that is true, then he too becomes a viable cut. But I also think the Seahawks see him as an emotional leader (captain) with extra value. So he might be protected.

        • Jon

          No they can avoid a 3 m bonus but there is still 3 m in signing bonuses as well. Around a 5.5 m savings if he is cut before the first day of the league year.

      • Jeff M.

        Cutting Red saves a little more than Mebane, not less. Bryant has 8.5m cap – 3m dead = 5.5m savings, to Mebane’s 5.2m cap – 400k dead = 4.8m savings.

        • Rob Staton

          Sure, but they might cut both. It’s going to take more than one cut.

          And let’s be right here, they think a heck of a lot of Red Bryant. That has to have a factor.

          I’m a little surprised at the reaction to the suggestion Mebane might be cut to be honest. Non pass rushing DT’s are not uncommon.

          • williambryan

            They’ve also been churning at his position, Brooks, Siliga, Smith…

          • Michael M.

            Any way either of these guys is willing to re-do his deal to stay with the team? Red especially seems like a guy who’s best fit is here. Can’t see teams tripping over themselves to sign him to anything close to his current deal.

            • Rob Staton

              Very possible.

    • Carl Shinyama

      The Seahawks may already have Mebane’s replacement on the roster; Jordan Hill.

      • Cade

        Hill isn’t a run stopping beast. Hill is more of a quick pass rush DT

  3. Stuart

    When Jimmy Johnson said Seattle was “healthy” twice, nasty words came out of my mouth. Three offensive line starters ( 2 of them are all pro) and two starting wr’s (Rice and Harvin) not to mention Big Red on D. That is 6 starters out! The national media, Seattle is healthy and Seattle cant win on the road…

    I just looked and saw Carolina ahead of SF 10-9 with about 5 minutes to go. A great day could just get better!

    • dave crockett

      On being “healthy”: The national analysts don’t know our personnel. You may as well not pull your hair out about it.

      I’m going through this with my college team, Missouri. I keep hearing how we’re beating up on injured teams for our 9-1 record. People are saying this with a straight face after 4 straight starts from a redshirt freshman backup QB and 3 from a redshirt freshman backup cornerback.

    • rrsquid

      It’s a little less important now with a 2.5 game lead, but SF losing to CAR pushes one of the tie-breakers Seattle’s way. Record against common opponents. The Strength of Victory is slowly shifting Seattle’s direction also.

  4. chris

    my only problem with that is who is gonna replace mebane? i think red and avril are easily replaced by players already on the roster. i’m not saying you are wrong rob, actually i think you are probably right. it just makes me nervous to get rid of mebane.

    • Rob Staton

      Replacing Mebane won’t be as hard as people think. He isn’t a pass rusher — they are the tough guys to find inside. So you’re looking for a DT with similar size who plays the run well. I actually think that type of player is quite common.

      Now, you might suffer a slight drop off. But if the $5m saving helps keep Bennett and Tate, it’s a no brainer. I mean, how would you feel next May if you had Mebane on a big contract for another year but had watched Bennett and/or Tate walk?

      And think about going into the draft next year knowing you need to replace a playmaker on offense and/or a brilliant pass rusher instead of a solid run defender at tackle.

      • Cade

        This is my humble opinion..

        I could see Mayowa or a drafted DE as Avrils replacement. Of our DE’s to me Avril seems the most replaceable. We also have Schofield tucked away not getting snaps. Most of Avrils sacks seem to have been off effort plays rather than beating a guy.

        Our cuts:
        – McQuistan, Avril, Mebane, Rice, either Browner or Thurmond to FreeAgency(likely Browner)

        • Rob Staton

          I can see Avril moving on. I’d like to think someone would take him on a one-year $9m deal for a late rounder. A team desperate for a pass rusher.

          Seattle takes a penalty hit on the dead money but makes an overall saving — plus gets a throwaway pick.

      • The Ancient Mariner

        If they can get Jesse Williams’ knees healthy, I’d think he could replace Bane just fine. Not sure that’s more than a forlorn hope, but still–I’d hate to just write him off already.

        • Rob Staton

          It’s a good call.

        • Kenny Sloth

          I like Williams more as a 5 tech and Hill at 1. That’s mostly what it’s been thus far, but one can’t read too much into these things.

      • KyleT

        Mebane is one of the top 4-3 DT’s against the run almost every year…not exactly easy to replace

        • Rob Staton

          But a lot easier to replace than a brilliant pass rusher (Bennett) or game changing receiver (Tate) which is the point I’m making.

          • KyleT

            Totally agree with that

    • Carl Shinyama

      As I mentioned in my other reply, Jordan Hill might be an adequate replacement.

  5. chris

    he is the most reliable player on our defensive line health wise.

    • Rob Staton

      Health not enough of a reason. See my other reply.

  6. Cysco

    It’s going to be tough.

    Sidney is gone. No doubt. that frees up $7mm
    Mebane frees up another $5mm

    Sidney and mebane probably get you a little more than what Sherman is going to get.

    To get Earl his money, you need to free up the remaining of the above and probably throw something like Zach Miller’s $5mm on top.

    To get Bennett and Tate I imagine we would need to see something Chris Avril’s $7mm and a few million more from somewhere else.

    Rice – $7mm
    Mebane – $5mm
    Miller – $5mm
    Avril – $7mm

    probably gets you Sherman, Thomas, Tate & Bennett

    Like Rob said, finding the $13mm+ a year it’ll likely take to lock up Wilson the next year will be “interesting”

    • Rob Staton

      Important to remember that you can back-load contracts. I doubt Sherman earns $10-12m next year even if he averages that over the length of his deal. It’s more likely he has a cap hit of around $5m next year similar to Percy’s deal, but it’ll escalate quickly. It buys you some time.

      • Cysco

        For sure. My hope is that they can strike Miller off that list and get the four of them while keeping Miller.

        2015 is where the real challenge is. That’s when we’ll likely have to say goodbye to the likes of Lynch and Miller to make up Wilson’s money.

        I wonder if the team would be willing to cut Chris Clemons before next season. That’s a pretty big chunk of cash.

        First world problems!

        • Nolan

          Don’t forget that you have to factor in the money earl is already making, his raise will be less dramatic then Sherman, he was a first round pick under old CBA when rookies got paid more generously. The other thing to remember is you get 5 mil from Gio, and 3 mil from mcquiston assuming those guys are not brought back…. Also doesn’t millers money go down on its own next year?

          • The Ancient Mariner

            Yeah, Miller’s cap hit drops to $7 million or so.

            • glor

              We have some serious stuff coming down the pipe…

              2013 Cap 2014 Cap Difference
              breno 4.2 0 -4.2
              sidney 9.7 9.7 0
              okung 9.5 11.2 1.7
              Percy 4.9 13.4 8.5
              Zack 11 7 -4
              Lynch 8.5 7 -1.5
              Chris C 8.2 9.7 1.5
              Red 7.6 8.5 0.9
              Max 6 5.6 -0.4
              Mebane 5.2 5.7 0.5
              Kam 3.8 5.7 1.9
              Cliff 3.8 9.2 5.4
              Earl 3.5 5.2 1.7
              Paul 3.4 0 -3.4
              James C 2 2.5 0.5
              Bruce 2 2.5 0.5
              browner 0.8 0 -0.8
              Heath 1.7 1.7 0
              Jon R 1.4 1.4 0
              Millions +8.8

              • glor

                well that formatted like crap..

  7. Darnell

    So Rob,

    the attention of some of the draft focus could be geared towards run pluggers?

    I always think that elite teams with depth across the roster should always go best available Offensive or defensive lineman.

    • Rob Staton

      Potentially, but then I think you can find those guys in the mid-to-late rounds. Mebane was a third rounder.

      Much will depend on how they view Bowie and Bailey. That will almost certainly have a huge impact on what they do early in the next draft.

      • KyleT

        Ryan Carrethers looks like a potential mebane replacement. I like him in the third. I’m still not convinced we cut mebane next year. I’ve done the cap math and releasing rice, trading away Avril allows us to sign Sherman, Thomas, Bennett and Tate. We will probably also redo okungs deal to save a ton of cap next year. If you want I can post my cap math later.

        I do think we prepare to move on from mebane and Bryant. The problem is that they are the only 2-gap d-lineman on our team. People projecting Hill at 1 are crazy and not watching him play. Guys that anchor against double teams have a certain build to them.

        • Rob Staton

          I’d love to see a breakdown of those numbers.

          I think it’s worth remembering that Hill was touted as a one tech by PC during pre-season press conferences and took some snaps there in camp. In fact Jesse Williams was taking snaps at the three. Seattle is kind of quirky like that. I don’t think it’s a complete coincidence they draft Hill and Williams last year — for me that was forward planning.

          I like Mebane but he’s just too easy to cut and make a fantastic saving with zero cap ramifications. When you have big name, elite players who need paying — cutting a non pass rushing defensive tackle for a nice saving is a gift.

          • KyleT

            Ok I will post them at the bottom later this evening or tomorrow morning. I though the 1tech from PC was more about nickel packages. They have played him there and base 3-tech. We seem pretty open to what kind of DT plays base 3-tech, but base 1-tech is typically a run stuffer

  8. Cysco

    If the team can keep Tate, a foursome of:

    Tate, Harvin, Baldwin, Kearse is as good as any in the league. I can’t see them going WR early if they have that much invested in a young, dynamic receiving corp.

    The team is going to need DL depth, OL depth and maybe TE. (depending if they think Wilson is Miller’s replacement someday or not)

    One of my bigger concerns going into next season will be back-up QB. I’m assuming we lose Tjax. I really don’t ever want to see us go through what Green Bay is going through. I’ll be curious to see what the team thinks of BJ Daniels.

    • Rob Staton

      I doubt they lose Tarvaris Jackson unless they want to. It’s not like he’s going anywhere with a chance to start — that ship sailed a long time ago. He knows what he has in Seattle — security as a valued backup.

      • Cysco

        I sure hope you’re right.

        • SunPathPaul

          “Tate, Harvin, Baldwin, Kearse is as good as any in the league.”

          We still could use a taller WR to flush out the WR corp. I wish they would check out Brandon Kaufman and Da’Rick Rodgers from this year. They are free agents and cheap!

          We now see we must keep the “Golden” Tate(er)!

          • Rob Staton

            There’s a reason why Rodgers is available. And why he went undrafted.

            • SunPathPaul

              What about 6-4 Kaufman? He had good plays for the Bills…and look at Durham, we let him go and now he is an integral part of Detroits team!?

              After OL, I think a TE/WR in next years draft is a must. We lost Harper, which seemed ‘too cute’ of a pick to me…what do you think Rob?

              • Rob Staton

                I’m always sceptical on guys released by other teams. For every diamond in the rough there’s a million nobodies.

                I also think WR/TE will be a modest need if they re-sign Tate. I suspect they will get a chance to re-sign Anthony McCoy to a minimal deal. At receiver, I’m thinking mid-rounder unless a can’t miss type is available in round one. If Brandon Coleman declares I’d like to take a chance on him later on. Not a good year but the potential is there.

                Also at TE — they’re using less 2TE sets this year it seems. And I really like Zach Miller. So while it’s an option, it might not be a top priority. I would say OL depth and possibly a RT starter looks like being the biggest need assuming Breno and McQuistan walk in free agency.

                • KyleT

                  I’m not convinced that RT is a bigger need then guard. Bowie has not been that big of a drop off from breno.

                  • Rob Staton

                    I disagree there. I think Bowie has had some nice games but he’s also been abused (see: Arizona game). People underestimated Breno last year in a big way. He held his own against multiple elite pass rushers and did a great job. Overall there’s been a noticeable drop off and they need to decide whether Bowie can grow into a legit starter or whether he’s a depth guy.

                    At guard they aren’t benching Sweezy any time soon and then at LG they’d be spending a first rounder to replace a first rounder. Carpenter has done fine IMO and it’s hard to judge him playing next to McQuistan at left tackle. I haven’t seen one guard I covet in this draft. And I think they might end up working Alvin Bailey into that slot (just a hunch).

                    I think it’s likely they lose Breno (although the demand for pure RT’s is minimal and they might end up getting him back for a steal) and unless they’re 100% comfortable starting Bowie then for me that’s the biggest need.

              • pqlqi

                calling Durham “intergral” is a bit of an overstatement. Calvin Johnson is double or triple teamed on every play, leaving Durham in single coverage against a teams 2nd CB with no help.

  9. James

    * Seattle would be 10-0 except for a botched safety call against the Colts. It should have been ruled a TD. The Colts acually got momentum from only giving up 2 points instead of 7. With a TD, the Seahawks go on to blow out the Colts. That said, I wonder if the pressure of an undefeated season would be counter-productive. Basically, if Seattle beats the Saints at home on MNF, then they are almost sure to be the #1 seed, and the 49’ers game would not be determinative.

    • Rob Staton

      I don’t entirely agree on that call. It was borderline — tough to overturn either way. If it was called a TD on the field it would’ve been upheld I think.

      For me the biggest issue in that game was the inability to stop Luck in the second half. We just didn’t have the ball.

      • SunPathPaul

        After the Panthers win of the San fran Whiners, I feel we can beat NO at home on monday night, AND go to SF and kick there ass! If we play complete like we did today, that game might be easier than previously thought.

        For all the Kaeper-dick love, he reveals and I see him as a less impressive QB than most assumed. He needs plays that target only half the field, and if you plan to stop his running,,,,, game over. Just look at Carolina, they crushed him as a ‘QB of the future!”

        • Colin

          There’s no need to be a jackass. I’m sure everyone else is smirking at how Colin Kaepernick is struggling, but there’s no need for the juvenile references…

        • Swamp_fox

          Good call Colin. Let’s keep it as objective as possible and focus on what the Seahawks can control. My opinion is a healthy respect for our adversaries will only make the victories sweeter.

          I personally don’t share the “Kaep is overrated” viewpoint. He had a bad game against a great D. He had no V Davis, no Crabtree, and a rusty Manningham to throw to. Let’s keep it in perspective and appreciate that SEA is in a great position right now for a deep playoff run.

          • SunPathPaul

            You guys sure are overly sensitive… My gosh… Juvenile? What are you, a prude?
            I am simply ecstatic that we won and they lost…I don’t like Kaep, and I’m allowed to have my opinion. I’ve seen in one of the playbook videos how the coaching there pretty much limits his reads to half the field to make up for his limitations, and you guys jump on me?

            This is football, not synchronized swimming… I said one joking negative word here peeps…

            • Colin

              It’s not just your choice of words. The fact that you think one game has revealed Colin Kaepernick can’t be a Franchise Quarterback is laughable.

    • Belgaron

      A great team loves a safety…2 points plus the ball…long drive drain the clock then punch it in for another 7 points. It didn’t work out against the Colts but given the option there are times when the safety would work out very well.

  10. chris

    i also dont think that breno and mquistan are brought back that will same a couple million as well.

    • Belgaron

      Don’t rule out renegotiate contracts, there is still a million miles to calling next seasons roster done.

  11. cover-2

    I totally agree with the thought that re-signing Bennett is a must this off-season. Teams are always reaching for pass rushing DT’s in the draft, and hell we finally have that player in Bennett. I like me some Mebane, but like Rob said its easier to find those run stuffers than it is pass rushing DT’s. Rounds 1 through 3 may have some really solid player to fill the void (I completely expect Jesse Williams to never see the field due to his injuries). Notre Dame (DT) Louis Nix, Washington (DT) Danny Shelton, or Penn St (DT) DaQuan Jones are all players that could fill the void of Mebane.

    Tate and Kearse have really stepped up this year. For me Kearse was a player I didn’t have any faith in going into this year….But, now I’m starting to think that this kid could be a dam good starting WR for us. I’m almost at the point to where I don’t necessarily think we need to draft a WR in the first two rounds of the draft. I like Kearse better than Vanderbilt WR Jordan Matthews, whom is considered a 1st or 2nd round prospect. I’ll roll with Tate, Kearse, and Harvin as our starting WR’s next year. I’m a big fan of TE sets, so if Zach Miller is a cap casualty then ASJ in the 1st or Iowa TE C.J. Fiedorowicz in the 2nd round can fill the void.

    I’m loving our depth…Luke Wilson’s speed really shows up on the field and IMO he has been our most impressive rookie. Wilson is just another mid-round jem for the Seahawks.

    • SunPathPaul

      Although it is Will-son, w 2 L’s… I agree that he looks good. Just wish he had more chances to make catches. It seems out TE’s are there for clutch moments, but are not a big factor in the overall game plan. Maybe that will shift as we go along…

      “Wilson to Willlll-son for another TouchDown!”

    • CC

      Is it just me or does Willson’s blocking seem to be improving as well? I like Zach so much, but his salary is tough. Davis hasn’t been horrible either. Bailey played great – like to see more of this young man, maybe he’ll take a guard spot away from Carpenter – who is marginal at best.

      • Attyla the Hawk

        It’s not just you. He’s been doing well blocking for a few weeks now.

        He’s not the equal of Miller in that regard but he has come a long way this season. To the point where he’s noticeably good in real time.

        • CC

          Thanks – good to know I’m watching things correctly. If he keeps it up, Johnny and Petey will look pretty smart drafting him instead of the other tight end from Rice…

  12. Aaron

    There’s been a lot of good comments so far on some of the things I was going to touch on. That’s why I come here. I was going to highlight Mebane as my player of the game (with apologies to Golden Tate) although I agree with you Rob in as far as Bennett is my defensive player of the season to this point.

    Tate is emerging on the national scene as a high-level WR. Btw, I’m not extending my praise of Mebane’s game to the point of arguing against cutting him at the end of the season. He’s had a good run as the lone holdover from the previous era. Next man up.

    I agree that Brooks is an incredible luxury, and yet another example of our ridiculous depth on the defensive line. I’ve always loved that guy’s game.

    I too wrote off Rice upon his season-ending injury. I was surprised you even mentioned him Rob. I’d be shocked if he ever donned a Seahawks uniform again. I truly hope he gets his Superbowl ring at the end of the year though – obviously. He deserves it for his significant contributions to this franchise. But again, next man up.

    On the refs, I think Seattle is uniquely constructed to consistently expose the absurdity of how the game is called now. It may be necessary, but it is still essentially absurd to anyone who has grown up watching football as we once knew it. Fortunately the Seahawks are also constructed to be able to overcome those calls. When Bennett came to the sideline incredulous at the Brady Rule call on his sack, Pete Carroll basically just said, “good play.” You can’t hit em high, you can’t hit em low, you cant pull em down from behind, and god forbid you brush up against anyone as a DB…but I digress.

    The 49ers, the Lions, and Panthers. These teams all have the same record. Two of the three are on an upward trajectory. Things continue to shape up nicely for the Hawks. I loved hearing Trent Dilfer talk after the game on ESPN about how Kaepernick is being exposed as the weakness of the 49ers’ team (in stark contrast to “the guy up North in that division.)”

    It’s a great day to be a Seahawk fan.

    • Mark

      Hey Aaron,

      Good post. I really like your second para. I love the Seahawks and have since 77, and saying that I’ve seen much change in the game. The NFL as we once knew it is gone. And it’s gone because the lawyers are running the league.

      I know safety should matter, and being reasonably assured of safety for players is always advisable. But to my mind the league is all about mitigation of risk to the point possible while maintaining most of your paying customers. NOT about competition at the games highest level with all that comes from some of the worlds best athletes colliding at speed with mass.

      It is about maximizing revenues, which means appealing to women, which in my view also has led to a softening of the game.

      I am not crazy enough to ever expect the game to be what it was, but only a idiot, and dolt had no idea that should they choose to play in the NFL they risked all sorts of physical bodily damage. You take the pay, you do the job, you run the risk. Guess the world doesn’t work that way anymore.

      ANY decently capable lawyer could have proven that case. But no. They folded, softened the game, and made it so we see things like we did with Bennett’s sack/roughing penalty today.

      If I didn’t love the Hawks so much I’d walk. But I’ll be damned if I miss a potential Superb Owl victory because of a bunch of courthouse lawyers didn’t have the balls to stand up and prove the patently obvious.

      On that note rant off/

      Great day. Complete game from Hawks, 9rs exposed and lose.

      Yay Us!

      • Aaron

        Thanks for the reply and the compliment. I agree that the NFL will never be the same as it once was. (No surprise given my original post.) I also agree with your point about the league being almost single-mindedly profit driven. After all it’s a monster of a multi-billion dollar corporation. That’s kind of how such entities tend to roll.

        Where I may diverge just a bit is that even though I think the calls are painful to watch as Rob put it, I do think the initiative behind them is necessary to the survival of the game, and even then I don’t know if it’s going to be enough to save the sport long-term.

        When I see players like Tony Dorsett coming out and talking about their suicidal thoughts, mental confusion, etc. it definitely gets my attention, and I think it’s heartbreaking, especially as a die-hard fan of football. I believe in CTE, and I think it’s a big-time problem. I totally get where you’re coming from as far as players knowing there is risk involved, and the legal ramifications.

        Ultimately as with many big problems in life, I think technology will need to be the ultimate savior. Just my opinion. That’s why I favor challenges for roughing calls. It’s one small step to help players and refs do things the right/”new” way.

        (Btw, Don’t get me started on the women thing. I think the whole “pink” breast cancer month thing is one big very shrewd marketing campaign.)

        Anyway, back to the subject, I actually fear for the viability of the game, and I’ve often had the thought, as a 30+ year fan of the Hawks myself, that I feel fortunate to have the chance to see this kind of team play while it’s still possible. But my perspective on all that definitely doesn’t make it any less frustrating to watch these (often bad) calls every week.

        PS – agreed: great day, yay us. 🙂

        • Jim Kelly

          Aaron, and Mike,

          I like what you both said, but I’m divergent on minor points.

          My biggest problem with concussions is that the NFL isn’t doing… enough(?),… the right thing(?),… or taking the right approach. Maybe the best way to categorize it is to say that they don’t want to make “hard and fast” rules, because the lawyers would then be able to make an easy case against the NFL. As it stands right now, the NFL’s concussion policy is vague enough that it would be hard to sue them. (I know that the retired players just won a lawsuit, but litigation by current players would be very hard.) I played high school and Air Force football in the eighties, college ball in the nineties, studied martial arts for 20 years, and save for one freak throw in martial arts (I couldn’t tuck my chin, so when I landed, I led with my head.), I haven’t gotten a concussion from any of it. I did receive a concussion from an auto accident, which led to post-concussion syndrome where any hard bump would trigger another concussion. But I’ve always been ordered to get the best concussion avoidance protection possible, or I couldn’t participate. In football that meant having a helmet tight enough that if the chinstrap came off, the helmet might shift during a hit, but it wouldn’t come off. It had to not only fit properly, the padding had to not be damaged (or inflated properly, if it had an air bladder cushion.), but the only way to get it off would be to pull the ear holes away from your head to get it to slide off. In Kyokushin, I had to get an anti-concussive mouth guard.

          I just wish that the NFL would mandate concussion resistant mouth guards, that can’t be bitten through, versus the $1.99 ones that they say is the minimum. They also need to mandate that a minimum of a four star anti-concussion rated helmet should be worn instead of whatever the player wants to wear.

          Sorry about the rant. I just feel that the NFL is taking the approach that if they are vague on their concussion policy, and leave some major decisions up to the players, that they won’t be liable. They can later say that it was the player’s choice.

          I need to end this on a positive note:

          9-1, baby!

          Go Hawks.

          • Cysco


            I always shake my head when I see a helmet fly off or see how easily players take their helmets off.

            A properly fitted helmet should be snug and should take effort to remove.

            I’ve also wondered what the ramifications of long hair are on helmet fit. Seems logical that a bunch of hair between the helmet and skull would reduce the effectiveness of the helmet.

  13. House

    Today was a very good showing of where this team can stay/go.

    The offseason will be very interesting. To make room for Thomas, Sherman, Tate and Bennett, contracts for the following players will be looked at: Avril, Rice, Clemons, Bid Red and Mebane.
    – Rice going down pretty much says he’s done in SEA ($7M saved)
    – We won’t have room for Avril and Clemons… One is going to move ($4.8-$7M saved)
    – I can see the team trying to restructure Big Red or Mebane $5.3-$11M saved)

    Drafting a BIG guy to round out my choice remaining group of Harvin, Tate and Kearse.
    My thoughts on the WR corps:
    Harvin: We need him on the field. It’ll be scary when he gets out there
    Tate: We NEED to re-sign him… He’s productive and an emotional leader
    Baldwin: He’ll be a RFA in ’14 and I think he’ll be gone. His comments last night were ridiculous and I think IND will make a strong play for him. I think we’ll tender him w/ a 2nd rd and end up trading him.
    Kearse: Stepping up big time! Becoming a very reliable guy for Wilson.

    • Aaron

      What were his comments last night?

      • House

        His initial tweet was:
        [“@Seahawks have released WR Bryan Walters and sign DT Michael Brooks to the active roster”
        Day before the game? At the hotel?

        A fan responded with:
        [@DougBaldwinJr @Seahawks Plausible that your employer had to make a hard decision based on the current depth at DT? And excellence at WR?]

        Baldwin’s response:
        [@nickelduque @Seahawks they knew that sh*t before we got on the plane]


        Don’t get me wrong. He has TREMENDOUS talent. The leadership has churned this roster over and over. To question them or to put them on blast is crazy. Yes, it sucks for Walters, but again, its business.

        He has also made several comments about “Luck will go down as the Best QB ever. It leads me to believe he wants to be Luck’s Wayne/Harrison. I don’t blame the kid at all.

        • SunPathPaul

          If Baldwin is like that and wants out, then hell yes trade him for a 2nd round pick… We want players who believe in Seattle, not just themselves… He sounds selfish, and I have never really liked his videos. He just seems arrogant or something.

          Now I do like his 3rd down completions! He has been money this year, so I hope his focus stays ‘on’ and he helps up win that SB ring!!!

          • House

            I agree… Like I said above, TALENTED player and his knack for making 3rd down, sideline toe-tappers is HUGE!!!

            He seems to be very opinionated and maybe being a PRODUCTIVE undrafted player has placed a HUGE chip on his shoulder. I’d love to keep him, if he’s on board.If not, next man up…

            • The Ancient Mariner

              I know someone who knows Doug quite well–which is all I’m going to say about that; take it however you will–to whom I recently expressed concern about Baldwin leaving for Indy; their response was that yes, he’s close to Luck, but he loves it in Seattle. However ticked he is about the way Walters was handled, he’s not such a fool as to think any other team would be substantially different in that regard. The business is the same for every team.

              • House

                Noted… It could’ve been frustration and maybe after the 2nd tweet he thought “maybe I should’ve said that differently.” He is an ASSET no matter where he goes. IMO, he has a bigger shot of SHINING elsewhere, but I’d love for him to stay in SEA no doubt!!!

                • Darnell

                  Doug is very intelligent and angry – a great combo on the field; but a combo that can lead to ‘foot in mouth’ moments in social media or the press.

                  However, those comments are far from selfish.He is speaking out for a less established teammate, from his position of having a secure job, Walters doesn’t have that job security and is likely relying on some practice squad money/time with the Hawks going forward so would be wise not to voice his displeasure. I think it is great that Baldwin has that sort of love for the bottom dude in the position group.

                  If he is tendered at a 2nd or later he could very well be gone. Take the Patriots for instance; their biggest problem is lack of help for Brady and they are terrible at drafting WRs. Baldwin would be a superstar for Brady in a high volume passing attack, fits the Patriot slot WR profile to a tee (smart,tough,routes,hands, quick, hard worker) and is way better than anything they could get with their late 2nd rounder.

                  • Gage

                    Doug should experience playing for a team with Jeff Ireland as the GM… see how bad “business” can really get.

        • Rob Staton

          Baldwin needs to concentrate on his job and let the front office concentrate on theirs.

    • JW

      What were his comments?

  14. Donovan

    Christine Michael. ‘Nuf said.

    • Jon

      no kidding. 8 carries for 33 yards and had a 30 yarder taken back on a legitimate yet stupid/unnecessary holding on Ricardo Lockett.

      • Kyle

        I can’t remember the last time I’ve seen a RB with that kind of explosive burst through the line. I wonder if the coaching staff is holding him back a bit until he can improve his blocking ability or something along those lines.

        As much as I like Turbin, Michael’s speed, agility and explosiveness can make your jaw hit the floor.

        • SunPathPaul

          Yeah Kyle, I wonder if they might be saving him for some surprise playoff work?
          Prob not, but might come in handy…well rested, and with no tape out there on him…

        • CHawk Talker Eric

          I used to think so too (about them holding him back because of blocking concerns), and maybe that does have something to do with it. But there have been several opportunities this season for PC to get Michael some snaps where his pass pro inexperience wouldn’t be a factor and still didn’t.

          Now I think it’s more because they just don’t need to give him the reps yet. Lynch is running as well as he ever has – just keep feeding the Beast – and Turbin has looked very capable in his limited appearances. As long as Lynch remains healthy, we’re not likely to see Michael outside of garbage time.

          • Miles

            I think they’re saving him for the playoffs. I really do. There’s no other logical explanation for leaving this explosive-as-hell back on the bench. Lynch/Michael is one hell of a one-two punch.

  15. RKB

    Love the blog, Rob. I really do. I do completely share your enthusiasm for keeping Bennett. What I don’t agree with is all the concern with salary cap implications. I have no doubt the cap specialists with the Seahawks can figure out how to keep everyone they want to. Furthermore, I really believe it would be a poor decision to release Mebane. If Hawk fans want to see a really poor run defense then just wait until you see this team without Mebane in the middle. Quite honestly what they really need is another Mebane for first and second downs. Not another 5million in cap savings. Now if 5 million in space really is that critical, keep in mind that Thomas already has a significant cap hit. They could also restructure Okung’s deal and spread out the cap hit on both. So many options above and beyond just cutting such a critical component of the run defense.

    • Rob Staton

      Unfortunately the Seahawks are facing a difficult stretch RKB when it comes to the cap.

      In recent seasons they’ve been able to pay elite, franchise players (Wilson, Sherman) a pittance. Starting next off season, they’ll start re-signing guys like that. And they’re going to earn mega bucks.

      So from 2014 onwards they need to be selective with the players they keep and pay. Re-signing Tate and Bennett to go with the elite players you have to pay will keep your team at the top. And that means having to make savings elsewhere.

      And let’s be right here — the run defense was awful the last two weeks with Brandon Mebane in the line up. So it’s not like he’s the definitive figure when it comes to defending the run. Defensive tackles who don’t rush the passer are fairly common.

      It just makes too much sense because of the lack of dead money. And Mebane won’t be the only casualty.

  16. KyleT

    2014 plan

    Trade Avril (free up 7 mil) for a draft pick

    Cut Rice to free up 7.3 mil

    Total 14.3 savings

    Sign Sherman to 5 mill cap hit deal in 2014 (4.3 mil diff)
    72 mil, 12 mil APY
    2014: 5 2015: 12 2016: 13 2017: 14 2018: 14 2019: 14

    Sign Thomas to 4 mill cap hit (save 1 mil cap) in 2014
    61 mil, 10 mil APY
    2014: 4 2015: 10 2016: 11 2017: 12 2018: 12 2019: 12

    Sign Tate w/ 4 mil cap hit in 2014
    31 mil, 6 mil APY
    2014: 4 2015: 6 2016: 7 2017: 7 2018: 7

    Sign Bennett w/ 4 mil cap hit in 2014
    36 mil, 7 mil APY
    2014: 4 2015: 7 2016: 9 2017: 8 2018: 8

    Total 4+4+4.3-1 = 13.3 mil

    I also predict we rework okung’s contract to front load it and save some cap there as well to enable to us to have a bit more flexibility in signing some minimum deals and draft picks.

    Bryant and mebane might be safe this year, but probably become casualties to get Wilson signed in 2015. The cap is also supposed to go up in 2015.

    • Cameron

      Just because the Hawks FO can back load contracts, doesn’t mean they will. Back loading all those contracts to that degree will have serious negative consequences for future Seahawks teams and their ability to build rosters. By the end of next year we will have to figure out how to pay Russell Wilson. That will make things really painful if we got all these guys making $12-14 million. We’re going to have to be creative – starting this off-season. Unfortunately I think that means we’re going to lose players like Mebane – good players for sure, but cheap replacements can be found, and money can be freed up for higher priority contracts.

      What about Breno and McQuistan? Those guys salaries are rolling off the books and figure to save us in the neighborhood of $7 mil. Of course, most of that will go to pay Harvin’s contract which balloons next season.

      We also should be opne to the idea of PC/JS making a splash or two in free agency. They are nothing in not opportunists. If they see value or a way to cheaply (relatively) upgrade the roster in an area or two I believe they will.

    • Rob Staton

      I like the break down but they will have to make further savings for the draft class — but there are other guys too like T-Jack (one example) they’d like to probably re-sign. Then there’s signing Doug Baldwin as a RFA. So they’ll need to make even more savings unfortunately. Plus they will want some cap to roll forward given the Russell Wilson $100m deal is on the horizon.

    • glor

      Problem with this is that they already backloaded Percy’s contract, so he is a +8.5mil hit against the cap next year.. also Clem and Kam are an extra +3mil against the cap next year..

  17. Darnell

    The tough thing about envisioning Mebane gone is when you take into account that Tony McDaniel and Clinton McDonald are having very nice contract years and could cash-in elsewhere.

    Relying on Jordan Hill, Michael Brooks, maybe Jesse Williams and a rookie or two seems like a heck of a gamble for a contender to make.

    • KyleT

      Exactly. When we move on from a cornerstone piece of our team we usually at LEAST draft the replacement a year in advance. Today that replacement is not on the roster. I could see hill as the base 3tech. Williams is probably not a sure thing to even make the team next year.

    • House

      Very good point. I completely agree with your assessment. The problem with so much young talent on one team is that it just can’t stick around forever.

    • Rob Staton

      In fairness, how many Seahawks fans were saying “go sign Tony McDaniel” or even “re-sign Clinton McDonald”?

      They’ve done a job for Seattle this year at minimal cost. Who’s to say they won’t find two more guys like that?

      It’s not like releasing Mebane forces you to only rely on the guys you’ve listed. And there’s the draft too.

  18. 2khawksfan

    While I agree that Tate is a playmaker, I disagree that we need to sign Tate. Imagine that in three weeks, Harvin becomes an integral part of the offense and can do everything that Tate does. Do we need two players with very similar skill set? I think that they decided to move with Harvin only after they decided not to resign Tate. Plus, Tate has really come out only this year and has the motivation of a contract year. Can he perform consistently after he gets a contract? I would think yes but that’s not a given.

    • Rob Staton

      I actually think Tate and Harvin are very different players. Sure, they are smaller, athletic receivers. But Percy doesn’t make many grabs like Tate did yesterday, and Tate doesn’t do some of the stuff Harvin does. You need to keep both IMO.

      Plus, let’s be right — it’s not just one year from Tate. Since the start of last season he’s been a reliable and brilliant component of this offense.

    • Phil

      2khawksfan: The biggest difference between Percy and Tate is that Tate has been contributing on the field every week and Percy hasn’t. We are 9-1 without Percy. How much has he been worth? Would we be a “better” team if Percy had been in the lineup? Since you asked us to “imagine” Harvin joining the team and then becoming an integral part of the offense; let’s imagine another scenario — imagine losing Tate after this year and then having Percy get another serious injury. I think the latter scenario is a more likely (and more frightening one).

      • 2khawksfan

        Rob, Phil : I agree that Tate has been really good but I am coming from purely an economics point of view. If Russell is earning 20M in two years, we cannot afford to use ~20M on two undersized receivers (that’s 1/3 of our cap). The FO has a tendency to do deals in advance. The fact that Tate doesn’t have a deal yet when he could be a FA in three months points to the fact that they don’t think its a priority. Again, I don’t want to take anything away from Tate (and I would personally love it if he is back) but it appears that for better or worse, they have tied themselves to the Harvin ship for the foreseeable future. May be the plan was to use Harvin this year and develop Harper and let Tate leave. Can they franchise Tate for a year, pick a couple of WR/TE in the draft and see if it works out. This way they also get wiggle room to work out a deal if they want, otherwise the way Tate is playing now, there is probably gonna be a bidding war.

        • glor

          RW isn’t a 20M a year QB

  19. Carl Shinyama

    Another possibility is releasing Chris Clemons ($7.5 million in cap savings) after the season is over.

    • CHawk Talker Eric

      Could be a big reason they’re so intent on keeping Mayowa on the roster. Perhaps Carroll and Quinn think that after an entire year of practice, Benson could be the team’s starting LEO in 2014 and beyond, allowing them to move on from Clem and his cap burden.

  20. Jim Kelly

    Rob, I know that you’re busy (Hope that the three of you are well.), so why don’t you see if Davis Hsu can do dome of the cap work that you’re thinking of? If nothing else, it’d be a great topic for a chat.

    Thanks for the blog.

    • Rob Staton

      I’m keeping a watchful eye on his tweets! He’s been on top of this subject again over the weekend.

  21. Phil

    Rob – I’m off topic, but what do you think of Jordan Zumwalt, UCLA’s Sr. LB? After watching several of UCLA’s games this year, he seems to be making more big plays than Anthony Barr. At 6’4″ and 230 lbs., he’s no doubt benefiting from the presence of Barr and the great play of Freshman LB (and RB) Myles Jack. IMHO, UCLA has a great LB core and Zumwalt’s play is being overlooked.

    • Rob Staton

      I can’t remember the name but I really like one of UCLA’s inside linebackers. Barr for me is a little overrated. Great athletic potential but raw as hell.

      • House

        Zumwalt is a tackling machine. He reminds me some of Luke Kuechly.

      • Phil

        I agree about Barr. He makes big plays based on his athleticism. Probably still learning the LB position since he played FB for his first couple of years at UCLA.

        In this weekend’s game against Arizona, UCLA brought pure freshman Myles Jack into the game as a RB on short yardage plays. He usually plays one of the starting LB spots. He worked out so well that he ran for something like 120 yards on just a few carries. Keep an eye on him, too. He’s from the greater Seattle area and was heavily recruited out of High School.

      • CHawk Talker Eric

        Both Zumwalt and Jack have really impressed me so far this season.

      • Jim Kelly

        Just read your Barr review. A shiver went down my back, and all I could think of was, “I heard those same words about Aaron Curry”.

  22. Madmark

    First off I’d like to address the penalty problem that’s going on in the league. The Bruce Irving penalty to me was questionable do to the fact that a shorter fullback actually was ducking from the hit Irving laid on him and to me that means he’s not defenseless. Bennett low hit on the QB was stupid cause he was being pushed to the ground by blocker and as he was falling he ended up hitting the QB low. The penalties will continue be but there needs to be some changes when you consider the height of the different players. A 5′ 8″” fullback ducking is going to be hard not to hit in the helmet area for a 6’2″ linebacker who’s trying to get lower to hit him between the shoulders and above the knees. The officials need to consider this when throwing a flag.
    I didn’t like Tate the first 2 years he was here. There really wasn’t much in production there. In the last 2 years he’s polished him game and believe he has developed a great relationship with Wilson and he should be resigned after all time it took to get him polished. I see Kearse(chop chop) replacing Rice, that I believe is self evident. I would resign T.J. after all he’s well liked in the locker room, knows the system, and was a starter that went 7-9 while being injuried. He is the best insurance policy to have I believe after watching watching the hits on Wilson this year.
    If I had to, I think we could drop Avril, Mebane, and McDaniels but keep Bennett. McQuinstan and Breno if we could keep them at the salaries there at now, I would keep them just for the unity of the offensive line. There will be a big difference here as to who or what position I would be drafting and that will depend upon 2 things. 1st will be if we win the superbowl because prices will go up and 2nd who knows what free agents will be out there and willing to take paycuts to come here and compete for a superbowl. In Baldwins case everything will depend on how much money he will want and I see Tate as a more important signing.
    The game by the Seahawks was very encouraging. The 1st string backups played really good that towards the end of the game we got to see some more action from other backups that aren’t starting. It just seems to be the perfect time of the season to start rolling for the finish line and the game in Atlanta was a nice start.

  23. James

    ….could we be witnessing the beginning of a genuine innovation: the rotation of specialists along the O line? Prof. Clayton could not think of a single team doing it. On obvious passing situations, might the O line be: Okung, McQuistan, Unger, Bailey and Giacomini? For the running game, the line might be: Okung, Carpenter, Unger, Sweezey and Giacomini (or perhaps even Bowie)? Bailey has incredibly quick feet and should be in there for pass pro. Call up on your DVR the deep pass to Baldwin along the sideline. Watch Atlanta send a safety blitz and Bailey amazingly kicks out and beats a safety (!) to the edge and keeps him off Russell Wilson. Few LTs can kick out in time to beat a blitzing safety to the edge. Usually, he has to be picked up by the blocking back. We need Bailey on the field on third and long, for sure.

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