Curtis Allen’s week twelve watch notes (vs 49ers)

November 22nd, 2023 | Written by Rob Staton

This is a guest article by Curtis Allen…

Where do the Seahawks go from here?

A demoralizing loss to the Rams that left Geno Smith banged up, the defense in fits over a gaggle of penalties, fans questioning Shane Waldron’s intelligence and Pete Carroll’s leadership is really dragging the optimism for Thursday’s game against the Niners down hard.

Is there anything we can cling to, to maybe get a spark?

There is.

In Pete Carroll’s tenure, the Seahawks have lost to the Rams 16 times.  What is their record in the following game?  11-3.  12-3 if you count the Rams beating them in the 2020 playoffs and the Seahawks beating Indianapolis in Week One the next year.

The three losses?  Two of them came in 2021, when they took the Steelers to OT in Geno Smith’s first start and then lost to the Bears by one point on a two-point conversion with a minute to play.  Both of those games get a doink the other way and they are a gaudy 14-1 after a Rams loss.

Is that grasping at straws?  You better believe it is.

And yet, this is the upside of consistently having a 9-7, 10-6 or 9-8 team in Seattle:  They have a few clunkers each year but they also do pull out some wins that are not expected.

The team will need a far better effort than Sunday though.  Coming to Lumen are the loaded-for-bear San Francisco 49ers.  They used their bye week to great effect, snapping themselves out of a 3-game losing streak by demolishing the Jacksonville Jaguars and beating the Tampa Bay Bucs last week.  They have quickly reclaimed their place as one of the best teams in the NFC and the presumptive favorite to win the NFC West.

The Rams offered Matthew Stafford and his 54% completion rate and 70 QB rating.  The Niners have Brock Purdy coming off an 84% completion rate and a perfect 158.3 QB rating.

The Rams had banged-up Cooper Kupp and Puka Nacua.  The Niners have a red-hot Brandon Aiyuk, George Kittle and Deebo Samuel.

The Rams rolled out Byron Young and had Aaron Donald running more stunts than I had seen in a long time. The Niners have Nick Bosa, Arik Armstead, Javon Hargrave and now Chase Young.

I think you get the idea.

Absent the Niners tripping over their own cleats, the Seahawks have a mountain of things to clean up to make this game a competitive one.  And that is where we must start.

Play Solid, Fundamental Football

This watch point is going to feel like a simple list of sins the Seahawks committed on Sunday.  If any of these things creep into the game against San Francisco, it will be a very hard struggle to establish any momentum to meet this matchup.

They simply cannot give the Niners 130 yards in penalties and expect to be competitive, no matter what kind of day the referees are having.

The offense cannot blunt a nice drive with a key penalty in Field Goal range that backs them up and forces them to settle for a try instead of pushing into the red zone and scoring touchdowns.

They must have a more balanced offense.  Abandoning the ground game in favor of the pass will give the Niner defense all the opportunities they need to make this game easy for them.

On that point, want to see something crazy?  Tampa Bay ran out almost the exact same game mix in their loss last week against San Francisco that the Seahawks did against the Rams.  Witness:

Seattle Running Game:  21 rushes for 68 yards.  Tampa?  18 for 66.

Seattle Passing: 24 of 40 for 236 yards, 1 TD and 1 INT.  Tampa?  29 for 45, 246 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT.

You see the problem.  San Francisco won by 13 points and it was not worse due to a good defensive effort by the Bucs.  A Seattle output like that against San Francisco will not provide the desired result.

To be fair, Tampa’s mix was more by design.  Years of catering to Tom Brady has left them with a bare cupboard in the running back department and their only option was to put the game in Baker Mayfield’s hands.

The Seahawks?  Their limitation came from the coaching staff being unwilling or unable to do something so blindingly easy as run the ball and eat the clock with a lead in the second half.

Speaking of that, all three of San Francisco’s losses this season?  They lost the time of possession battle.  Keep that offense off the field, fellas.

On defense, the pass rush must step up.  They have the talent to get pressure without any blitzing packages or special tricks.  Devon Witherspoon, Jordyn Brooks and Bobby Wagner coming screaming through the gaps for pressure is fun.  However, those plays should be the topping on the dessert of making Brock Purdy uncomfortable with their regular linemen.

They also absolutely must tighten up defensive fundamentals like coverage.  The Rams schemed Darrell Henderson wide open on a wheel route last week, but Stafford could not make the completion.  Julian Love was the closest defender to him but was a mile out of position.

Tackling as well.  I do not know how many times I can keep saying this.  The Seahawks are shooting themselves in the foot by not tackling well.  Quandre Diggs was the latest to just come steaming in on Sunday, trying to knock a player off his feet with a hit instead of making a sound wrap up tackle.  It did not work.

Players like Deebo Samuel, George Kittle and Christian McCaffrey force you to bring them down.  A mauling of the Giants in Week Three featured these three racking up seven broken tackles.  They challenged the Giants defense to take them down and they couldn’t.

Can the Seahawks?  We will see.

Limit Turnovers and Take the Ball Away from Them

We have talked about this before with San Francisco.

Their rankings this year are formidable.  They are the #3 scoring offense and the #1 scoring defense.  They are in the top-10 in all yardage categories except passing yards allowed per game (#15).

A consistent challenge for them in the recent past has been turnovers.

Their three-game losing streak this year featured seven critical turnovers by the San Francisco offense.

What were the circumstances around those turnovers?  The opposition got out to an early start and put pressure on San Francisco to keep up, while eating the clock.  The Niners got increasingly desperate as the game went on, and the turnovers mounted.  Of those seven turnovers, six of them came in the second half.

The one in the first half?  It was a brilliant play by the Vikings.  On their first drive by Minnesota, Charvarius Ward intercepted Kirk Cousins (really, he just ripped the ball out of the receiver’s hands).  Three good plays later, it looked like the Niners were about to take the lead, and the Vikings stripped Christian McCaffrey.  They recovered and then drove the length of the field for a touchdown.  The Vikings never trailed in the game.

Again, we are rightly frustrated with the Seahawk offense’s second half performance.  But we need them to come out of the gate with purpose like they did against the Rams and put their stamp on the game.  Otherwise, Kyle Shanahan has his entire playbook to work with and that is no good for anyone.

Geno Smith must also be sharp and smart with the football.  Offensive miscommunications, desperate throws and strange decisions cannot be regular occurrences in this game.

It should be noted – in their last two games, the Niners have not turned the ball over once, while forcing six against Jacksonville and Tampa, including four that led to the blowout of the Jaguars.  Turnovers cut both ways, people.

Primarily, the defense must create a turnover or two at a minimum and they cannot miss the chance when it is presented to them.

Limit the Number of Explosive Runs by the Niners (especially McCaffrey)

There is another common denominator to San Francisco’s three losses this year:  They were their three worst rushing performances as a team.  That is no coincidence.

In those three games, they had six explosive runs and ended up with 286 total yards, averaging 95 rushing yards per game.

Last year, the Seahawks also played San Francisco in three games.  How many explosive runs did they concede?

Twelve.  Double what those winning teams conceded.

Twelve runs of 10 yards or more.  And those included three ‘super explosive runs’ of 50 yards or more, one in each game.

The Seahawks conceded 540 yards rushing to San Francisco for an awful average of 180 yards per game.

The frustrating part is, take those explosives out and the Niners gained 226 attempts on 100 attempts, or 2.26 yards per rush.  Put another way, the Seahawks ‘won’ the majority of rush attempts but had catastrophic failures on the other ones.

It is incredibly easy (and silly) to say ‘the Seahawks just have to stop all the explosives and they are good.’  The game just doesn’t work that way.

However, it is reasonable to expect the Seahawks to allow no more ‘super explosive’ runs of 50 yards or more.  Take those three out of the equation from last year and their per rush average (even with the other nine explosives) is 3.36 yards per carry.

Can the Seahawks manage that?  Cleveland, Minnesota and Cincinnati could.

Currently, Cleveland (4.1 YPA) is right there in yards per rush attempt conceded with the Seahawks (4.1), Cincinnati (5.0) is much worse and Minnesota (3.7) is better.

Every time we have a game against a top opponent, I often cast my mind to significant investments the Seahawks have made.  The latest one of course is Leonard Williams.  This game is where he needs to prove that the very high price the Seahawks paid was worth it.  Williams, Jarran Reed, Mario Edwards and Dre Jones must have effective games to keep this rushing attack from controlling the game.

How important is it?  Think of all the weapons the Niners have on offense that can do damage to the Seahawks.  Names like Brandon Aiyuk, George Kittle, Deebo Samuel.

Christian McCaffrey has more touches than all three of those players combined.

In San Francisco’s three losses this year, McCaffrey only averaged 47 yards on the ground.

Seattle’s Wild Card loss last year?  McCaffrey had 15 carries for 119 yards.  Take out just that one explosive run of 68 yards and what did he get?

51 yards.

It is doable.  They can do it.


Tuesday draft notes from a Seattle hotel

November 21st, 2023 | Written by Rob Staton

I’ve arrived in Seattle (I don’t remember the flight being +10 hours, every day’s a school day). Quick shout out to Mattia who I met at the airport.

The jet lag is kicking in so I’m going to run through the weekend notes quickly.

— Another week, another electric performance from Spencer Rattler. Nothing is surprising with draft media but the total lack of attention paid to Rattler is unbelievable. He’s completely turned his career around. Gone is the cocky gunslinger who trusted his arm to a fault, basically doing whatever he wanted in the name of an attempted big play. Now we see an incredibly mature signal-caller who plays within structure, has the arm talent and skill to be creative on the move and he’s spent the entire year playing behind a sieve of an O-line, giving him first-hand experience of dealing with pressure.

Look at this throw:

It’s probably not in Rattler’s top-10 throws for the season (which is saying something) but it’s a big-time NFL play. He’s under immediate pressure. He knows he’s going to get hammered (and he was). He throws a strike anyway for a touchdown. He’s done this all season.

South Carolina have won five games this year and it could’ve been more. It’s all because of Rattler and the man who caught that touchdown, Xavier Legette. There’s no doubt for me Rattler belongs in the first round next year. If he lasts beyond that, someone will get a bargain. He is too talented to ignore. He’s been on a long journey from the High School documentary to Oklahoma and then South Carolina. The player we’ve seen this year is the player who was being touted as a potential top-five pick two years ago. A lot of the quarterbacks who are being talked up in the media wouldn’t stand a chance behind his O-line. He was superb against Kentucky on Saturday and don’t be surprised if a whole bunch of people suddenly remember who he is over the next few weeks.

— Jordan Travis suffered a serious injury on Saturday and will miss the rest of the season. It’s a crushing blow for a player who was showing a lot of promise as a potential mid-round pick (and it also pretty much ends any attractiveness in having Florida State in the final four). How will it impact his stock? He won’t be able to do anything pre-draft and teams will have to check on his progress and recovery throughout. It’s a huge shame for the player. I suspect this will have a fairly serious impact on his stock too, given the extent of the injury.

— Michael Penix Jr continued his run of being clutch, making some eye-catching throws while also being quite erratic and inconsistent in another win for Washington. You have to credit him for the way he is helping the Huskies remain unbeaten. You have to admire the arm talent. Yet you also can’t ignore what’s happened recently.

In the first four games of the season, his PFF grade was 89.9. In the next seven games, his average grade has dropped to 72.2. His completion percentage in the first five games was 75.9%. Again, the number has dropped considerably in the following six games (59.5%).

There’s another trend that’s interesting. PFF tallies ‘big time throws’ as a statistic. He had a season-high five BTT’s against Oregon State, matching the number he had against Oregon. He also had four against Utah, taking his season total to 30. This has enabled him to jump above Jayden Daniels (28) to have the second most BTT’s in college football behind Drake Maye (33). So while the completion percentage has dropped, he’s also started to make more big time throws.

Penix is a really difficult projection. Everything about his arm screams NFL starter. There are 3-5 throws every week where your jaw-drops — arm talent, power, accuracy, touch. Yet there are also so many throws that appear to just be pre-determined shots to areas of the field. Thus, the high number of incompletions. In the NFL you need to be able to throw layered passes with timing and anticipation. It can’t just be shots determined before the snap.

He’s also faced more pressure recently. He’s been sacked four times in the last four games, compared to one sack in his first four games. Penix faced 33 pressures in the first five games when he was putting up massive numbers. In the next six games, when the numbers dropped, he’s faced 67 pressures. Given he will face constant pressure in the NFL, is it safe to argue that what we’ve seen in recent weeks is a better reflection of what he’ll be in the NFL?

It’s also impossible to ignore the brilliance of Rome Odunze. Often you can just identify when he’s 1v1, throw it his general direction and his body control and tracking is so good he’ll make the play. He’s a first round talent.

I’ve spent more time agonising over Penix’s stock than any other player this season because it’s such a contrast in pro’s and con’s, what’s obviously good and what’s difficult to project as translatable. I’m hoping watching him live on Saturday might give me a definitive answer. I’m planning to publish my first horizontal board after the weekend’s college football games.

— It was more of the same for Miami and Tyler Van Dyke. He’s clearly a talented player and there’s a pro in him. However, the Hurricanes are just so badly managed he’s been caught up in the mess. He had some good throws at the weekend. He has a decent arm. He moves well for his size even if he’s never going to be an improv-artist or a threat with his legs. There are flashes where you think he’s legit, then he throws wildly on fourth down in the red zone with the game on the line. I actually hope he doesn’t turn pro and transfers to somewhere like Kentucky or Washington. Go somewhere where they’ve had transfer success with good offensive staffs.

— JJ McCarthy is the most overrated player in draft media. It’s not that he’s bad. He’s just not a first round talent. His arm is nothing special. His accuracy is spotty at best. Michigan have only played one good team (Penn State) and he had eight throws in the game. He’s carried by the rest of the team. On Saturday against Maryland he had a bad pick and two dropped interceptions. Where’s the hype coming from?

— LSU has decided that the rest of their season is a Heisman campaign for Jayden Daniels and I’m here for it. Eight total touchdowns on Saturday and they fed him every one. For more on Daniels, check out my piece from last week.

— Miami saftey Kam Kinchens. My word. He fell asleep in coverage to give Louisville their first score, not travelling with the man he was supposed to be covering. He was ‘Moss’d’ on a downfield shot. A tight end stiff-armed him into 2033. Then, after two other defenders ran into each other creating a wide-open receiver, the pièce de résistance. Kinchens had ideal positioning by the sideline. All he had to do was contain the receiver and push him out of bounds. It’s a bad play already, don’t make it worse. Somehow, the receiver (despite having no space) just runs straight by Kinchens. It’s one of the worst whiffs I’ve ever seen. It ended up being the game-winning score.

Sure, he read a telegraphed, poorly thrown pass for an interception from centre-field earlier. Great. The rest of his game was a house of horrors.

— From overrated to underrated — Washington State receiver Josh Kelly is a heck of a player. He produces spectacular plays, he’s a one-handed-catch ‘trick-shot’ specialist and he’s been a great target for Cam Ward. Another player I’m looking forward to seeing live on Saturday.

— T’Vondre Sweat needed a big season and he has delivered. He’s been the most consistent ‘splash’ interior D-liner this year. He had a blocked extra-point attempt on Saturday that was returned for a two-point conversion. His ability to create and disrupt at his mammoth size is highly impressive. If he can stay motivated and perhaps shift some bad weight, watch out NFL.

— Just as Will Howard was really finishing strongly, he had one of ‘those’ games for Kansas State and Kansas. He has a knack for bad turnovers and bad nearly-turnovers. Kudos to him for helping get the Wildcats over the line but it’s the type of game that makes you think day three instead of day two. That said, he did still have some really nice ‘pro’ throws in the game.

— There might not be a more unheralded duo in college football than Missouri’s Brady Cook and Cody Schrader.

— Carson Beck was excellent for Georgia against Tennessee — the best I’ve seen him play so far. I’m going to re-watch that game tonight before I collapse in a jet-lagged coma.

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Heading to Seattle

November 20th, 2023 | Written by Rob Staton

I have a bunch of draft notes to file when I arrive in Seattle but just to let you know they won’t be posted until Tuesday or Wednesday (depending on how jet-lagged I am). My flight departs early afternoon UK time on Tuesday.

Very much looking forward to arriving and taking in a week of sport (if only the Seahawks were 7-3 instead of 6-4).


Instant reaction: Seahawks in disgraceful loss to Rams

November 19th, 2023 | Written by Rob Staton

Simply unacceptable. That has to be the review of a game the Seahawks threw away.

Literally threw it away, you could argue.

Everyone knows Pete Carroll wants to run the ball. He mentions it all the time. He’s spent several weeks this season speaking of a desire to ‘get the running game going’. The Seahawks have used two second round picks on running backs in the last two drafts.

So why are they so utterly determined not to run the ball?

The second half of the Rams game was one of the worst examples of game management you’ll see. With the Seahawks leading 16-7, if ever there was a time to run the football this was it. Instead, they started the second half passing on 13/17 offensive snaps. Then Geno Smith got injured. Surely, even if they’d avoided the run to that point, they would turn to it now?

Nope. They continued to throw. Even with a cold backup quarterback on the field. More throws. It was astonishing to witness. At a time when killing the clock against a team who defends the run poorly (and has Aaron Donald rushing the passer) was the key, they refused to just hand the ball off to a highly drafted running back.

Matt Stafford threw an ugly interception on a clumsy looking trick play early in the fourth quarter. It was still 16-7. Surely even the Seahawks couldn’t fail to notice this was now, finally, the time to run? It’s the final quarter of the game. Take time off the clock, if nothing else.

Here’s the sequencing:


The Rams got the ball back and scored a touchdown on a nine-play drive. It’s now 16-14. You’re still winning, with seven minutes left in the game. Seven minutes. So what do the Seahawks do on this drive?

Pass (interception)

The Rams got the ball back, kicked a field goal. That was the end of the scoring.

Second half numbers — 23 pass plays, six runs.

I can’t remember a game being so badly managed during the Pete Carroll era. It’s absolutely incredible. It totally belies the stated identity of the team. They were putting the game on the arm of Drew Lock, the backup quarterback, when all they had to do was run the ball and play for time with a 16-7 lead.

The end numbers were 40 combined throws, with two other plays resulting in sacks. Geno Smith also had a run for -1 yard, a potential pass play. In comparison, Seattle’s running backs had 20 carries in a game they led right up until the end. How?

It was all so obvious too. Here’s what Curtis Allen wrote in his game preview on this blog ahead of the game:

The Packers modelled a game plan the Seahawks should strongly consider in their 20-3 win over the Rams in Week Nine.

What did the Packers do on offense? They ran 38 times and passed 26 times.

They deployed a three-headed monster of Aaron Jones, A.J.Dillon and Emmanuel Wilson and didn’t ask Jordan Love to carry the offense. They got 185 yards on the ground, Love was a nicely efficient 20 for 26 for 228 yards and a sparkling 115 QB rating. They won the time of possession game by nearly 11 minutes and were never seriously challenged.

33 of those 38 carries were provided by the running backs, a number the Seahawks have yet to reach this season, despite the fact that they have a dynamic running back room that now includes Kenny McIntosh.

The Seahawks are running a 40/60 run/pass split so far this season and Geno Smith is nowhere near his 2022 pace in terms of production. A 20 for 26 passing game and a 115 QB rating off the back of a big rushing day would be a blessing for all parties involved.

This isn’t the first time Curtis has written something like this and I’ve highlighted it afterwards. When it’s obvious to everyone that a heavy dose of running is the order of the day — for a team claiming to want to be a running team, with its words and actions — why won’t they do it?

You can only come away from this experience feeling like they’ve lost all sense of what their identity is. I’d say they’re confused and muddled — yet they do the same thing every week. Is this their identity now? If so, why are they spending high picks on running backs? And why is Carroll the coach instead of one of the high-powered, pass-heavy offensive coordinators? If Carroll’s in charge, the least we should expect is his chosen brand of football, right?

Meanwhile, it’s week eleven now and we’re still seeing the same issues week after week.

The offense can look really good for a quarter or two but then totally disappear — grinding to a complete halt, unable to do anything well. They scored three points in the second half. We’ve seen this happen in multiple games this year, not just this occasion where Geno Smith and Ken Walker left the game.

Third downs and red zone work — consistently poor.

The defense cannot create consistent pressure. It’s OK beating up the Giants and other weak opponents. They barely laid a glove on Matt Stafford in the second half, didn’t do anywhere near enough to make his life difficult and once again seemed incapable of stopping the Sean McVay scheme once it started rolling on the final two drives. It feels like there’s no creativity and no ideas when games start to drift.

The Seahawks don’t do anything brilliantly. They’re streaky on both sides of the ball. They’re 6-4 and haven’t even faced the tricky part of their schedule yet.

The worst thing about it is they’ve invested so much in this season to produce this product. They only have $6m in effective cap space at the moment for next year. They can create more, sure, with some painful big-name cuts. But it’s indicative how much they’ve already invested. They’re borrowing on next year’s cap, they’re absolutely all-in on this year. They’ve made their big moves, invested their money. And they’re 6-4 and playing like this.

They’ve also spent their second round pick in 2024. They’re 1-2 since the Leonard Williams trade, a highly aggressive potential 10-game rental. That 1-2 record includes this horrible performance and the beat-down in Baltimore.

Financially and now in terms of their trade stock, the chips have well and truly been thrown into the middle of the table. The Seahawks are going for it. They’re not treating this like year two of a grand build. They are being highly aggressive.

That makes a result and performance like this so much harder to take.

People don’t realise how difficult the 2024 off-season is going to be. They’re going to have to do so much work to create cap space to retain or replace a long list of free agents. That will include some very painful cuts and some starters being allowed to walk.

I’m not exaggerating in saying a mini-reset could be unavoidable. See for yourself, head over to Over the Cap. Look who’s out of contract. Look how little they have to spend. Look how much certain players cost — and what it’ll take to cut them. Consider the depleted draft stock because of their big trade.

They thought they were a serious challenger after that Browns game and that’s why they made the deal with the Giants. Three games later, we can only conclude the following. Either they badly misjudged where this team is, or the people tasked with leading the roster aren’t doing a good enough job.


Curtis Allen’s week eleven watch notes (vs Rams)

November 19th, 2023 | Written by Rob Staton

This is a guest article by Curtis Allen…

On Sunday the Seahawks have one last game before the brutal five-game gauntlet laid out by the schedule-makers that will determine whether this team is a pretender or a contender.

I would surmise that the Rams are a perfect tune-up for it.

Just like the first game of the year, the Rams come into this one pretty banged up — with low expectations — and the Seahawks have a clear advantage in talent. The Rams are also on a three-game losing skid as part of a 1-5 run in the last six games that has tarnished the shine of an intriguing start to the season.

While we are all pre-disposed to never ever take a Rams team lightly, that should work in Seattle’s favor as a sparring partner for the heavyweights to come.

The Seahawks are a vastly different team than the one that played in Week One. Key players for this game who were not available for that one include: Jamal Adams, Devin Witherspoon, Leonard Williams and Jason Peters. Add to that the growth of young players like Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Boye Mafe (a very adequate fill-in for Uchenna Nwosu), Zach Charbonnet and the Rams cannot plan on playing the same team they faced in Week One.

On the flipside, the Rams have Matt Stafford returning from a thumb injury, Cooper Kupp is back and they have lost starting running back to Kyren Williams to injury.

The Seahawks are 4-6 against the Rams in their last ten games. That includes a high of beating them last year to secure a playoff spot, and a low of being bounced out of the playoffs in the opening round after finishing the season 12-4.

We have seen it all in this matchup.

How can the Seahawks walk away with a win Sunday and get some momentum built up for the stretch run?

Start Early

I have said this so many times about the Seahawks-Rams matchup I feel like I am on auto-pilot: The Seahawks must avoid a ‘let’s feel them out and see what they’re doing’ mentality early in the game. They have to get ahead of the game and come out charging and let the Rams try to adjust to them for a change.

Let me give you three Matt Stafford stats that back this up:

— First Down is his Worst Down. This year his completion percentage on first down throws is a miserable 57%. He has thrown for only one touchdown, had four interceptions and been sacked six times on first down for a dismal 70 QB rating. The Rams are nearly 50-50 run/pass on first downs.

— He is not good in the First Quarter. A 61.9% completion rate, only one touchdown throw, one interception and two sacks while he’s still getting his feet under him.

— About 58% of Stafford’s passes are thrown when the Rams are behind in the score. How does he do? Awful. A 57.7% completion rate, 12 of his 19 sacks, three of his seven interceptions are a pretty good story of why the Rams have been stuck in the mud the last few games. When he is ahead, he is far more effective. Coach McVay can settle into the game plan that he wants to play and giving someone like him comfort is just asking for trouble.

The Seahawks offense was one of the best in the NFL at early-game scoring going into the Baltimore game, ranking third in first-quarter scoring. In the last two games they have scored a grand total of three points in the opening quarter. Now let’s be right, they lost in Baltimore and they beat Washington, so it was not a smoking gun that led to a loss both games. However, a return to their effective starts would do a great deal in putting the Rams on their heels a bit and shaking up the status quo.

How can they get the offense on track early?

Run the ball

The Packers modelled a game plan the Seahawks should strongly consider in their 20-3 win over the Rams in Week Nine. The Rams started Brett Rypien at quarterback and couldn’t get on track offensively.

What did the Packers do on offense? They ran 38 times and passed 26 times.

They deployed a three-headed monster of Aaron Jones, A.J.Dillon and Emmanuel Wilson and didn’t ask Jordan Love to carry the offense. They got 185 yards on the ground, Love was a nicely efficient 20 for 26 for 228 yards and a sparkling 115 QB rating. They won the time of possession game by nearly 11 minutes and were never seriously challenged.

33 of those 38 carries were provided by the running backs, a number the Seahawks have yet to reach this season, despite the fact that they have a dynamic running back room that now includes Kenny McIntosh.

The Seahawks are running a 40/60 run/pass split so far this season and Geno Smith is nowhere near his 2022 pace in terms of production. A 20 for 26 passing game and a 115 QB rating off the back of a big rushing day would be a blessing for all parties involved.

One way to help this along: Oddly enough, the Tight End trio had some of their lowest snap counts of the year in Week One. Nobody recorded 50% of the offensive snaps and they were a bit of an afterthought as the Seahawks could not get the offense working in the second half of the game.

A return to 12-Personnel sets would give this team some muscle in the run game and give the quarterback some very attractive options in the short to mid-range passing game.

Defend the pass better

When we look back at that Week One game, the horrible offensive performance is what seems to have been stamped in our minds. But the defense was a confused, uncoordinated mess too.

The Seahawks managed zero sacks and only three pressures the whole game for a 7.7% pressure rate on Stafford. That’s about as calm a day any NFL quarterback could ask for.

The Seahawks kept switching their defense up, hoping something would stop the offense. This caused communication issues, misalignments and the Rams took advantage nearly every single time.

Whenever they rushed only four and dropped seven, they simply ran the ball on that light front or Stafford still found open receivers and picked them apart on in-breaking routes again and again. Puka Nacua burst onto the scene with 10 catches for 119 yards in his first NFL game in an impressive performance.

Now to be fair, the Seahawks have since tightened up and been more solidified as a unit — particularly on the in-breaking routes.

But a new (and yet old) defensive problem has emerged for Sean McVay to scheme to attack this defense: the Running Back pass.

It is an old weakness that had not really gone away but has just recently been exploited by opponents in 2023. It reared its ugly head Sunday against the Commanders. The running backs Brian Robinson and Antonio Gibson combined for 11 catches for 161 yards and two touchdowns. Several plays were ugly coverage breakdowns by the Seahawks and the Commanders exploited them to great effect.

Now the Seahawks currently stand – once again – as one of the worst teams in the NFL in defending running backs in the passing game.

That throws into sharp relief a paradox that has been growing and growing the last few weeks: If Riq Woolen (78 QB Rat/51% comp rate Allowed), Tre Brown (75/65%) and Devon Witherspoon (80/55%) have been so stunningly effective so far this season, why are the Seahawks in the bottom half of the NFL in pass defense?

Two problems were revealed Sunday by the Commanders: On both of their big running back catch plays, they found Boye Mafe (51 yards) and Dre Jones (48 yards) in coverage on their backs and exploited that for 99 yards.

Call it luck, call it scheming genius, call it whatever you want. There is absolutely zero chance that those plays escaped Sean McVay’s attention.

They simply cannot happen Sunday and yet the likelihood given this defense’s history against the Rams seems high that they will. How can the Seahawks mitigate the damage? That brings us to the other piece of the puzzle.

Yards after catch

Both of those explosive plays were obviously fuelled by the yards after the catch. Yet it isn’t simply a problem of singular big plays. It is a challenge the very middle of the defense is experiencing on a regular basis.

Julian Love (109 QBR/75% comp rate), Bobby Wagner (105/74%) and Jordyn Brooks (94/82%) comprise a little over a third of the defensive targets in the passing game this year for the Seahawks. Those numbers – particularly for the linebackers – look ugly — and they are. Yet often times they are guarding the dump-offs, where a completion is simple and so QB Rating and Completion % are rightly pretty high. So, keep that in mind.

However – and this is a big however – the yards after catch allowed are a problem for this trio. They have allowed 468 yards after the catch, accounting for 20% of the defense’s passing yardage conceded. The two linebackers have conceded 331 of those yards after catch.

How does the team solve this?

More consistent pressure on the quarterback is a great start. That can slow down every process and make things harder.

The other way to solve it is so simple it almost is ridiculous to mention.

Tackle guys. Get them to the ground. Tackling has again been a problem for the Seahawks this year. They have 60 missed tackles as a team per Pro Football Reference and the Love/Wagner/Brooks trio has 16 of those.

We have seen runners and receivers pinballing off of defenders who are not in good form to tackle. That is unacceptable. The Seahawks simply must not allow receivers the chance to make more football moves after receiving the ball.

The Rams do not have a deep running back group and this is Matt Stafford’s first game back after a thumb injury. They will likely try all kinds of short passes and clever edge runs of wide receivers to get the offense in gear and ease Stafford back into the game.

This is not some deep mystery. They have done it – and done it well – against Seattle for years.

If the Seahawks want to control this game flow, they must tackle well, cover tightly and be schemed to close these weaknesses and give the offense the ball back.


Jayden Daniels is interesting

November 17th, 2023 | Written by Rob Staton

Jayden Daniels is a dynamic quarterback

I’ve spent the last few days watching every LSU game from this season, focusing on quarterback Jayden Daniels.

I’ve regularly suggested there’s a lot of ‘one-read-and-run’ stuff with Daniels. That is true. He’s a very dynamic runner and teams struggle to contain him. If his primary target isn’t open, he will often get into backyard mode to make something happen.

However, having studied him closely now I think it’d be doing him a disservice not to talk more about the positives within his game.

Firstly — regulars to the blog will know I like to focus on how transferable an environment is. There are big-name quarterbacks in college who aren’t touched. They sit in clean pockets playing pitch-and-catch. It’s not that difficult for a talented quarterback to impress in that situation. It’s also tricky to project how they will handle the NFL when suddenly they are faced with constant pressure. There are mechanical habits that are suddenly exposed. Players who never had to throw layered passes and deliver throws with anticipation realise that’s the name of the game.

At LSU, there aren’t many layered passes. A lot of it is throwing on the run, throwing downfield when identifying 1v1 opportunities, throwing over the middle to open targets and the basic, high-percentage throws. However, Daniels does face pressure and he handles it well. There are multiple examples on tape of him buying time in the pocket, extending plays with nimble footwork, then re-setting to deliver a strike. You also see him throw just as he’s about to get hammered in the pocket — standing tall, delivering an accurate pass for a big play even when he knows a big hit is coming.

This is the kind of thing that travels to the next level. It’s not going to be completely foreign to him. LSU gives up 2.1 sacks a game — only the 72nd best record in college football. This is a far cry from Oregon (0.4 sacks per game) and Washington (0.7 sacks per game) to use the two most extreme examples.

Daniels doesn’t have a cannon but his arm strength is in the ‘good enough’ category. He throws with nice touch, looping downfield passes and hitting receivers in stride. His ball-placement can be very good on deeper throws and he has a high number of explosive plays. As we’ve noted a few times, he’s second only to Drake Maye (30) in ‘big time throws’ this season per PFF (Daniels has 26). His ‘big time throw percentage’ (the percentage number of throws that are explosive) leads college football at 9%.

This feels quite important because we know the Seahawks like creative quarterbacks who can hit big plays downfield. Daniels has shown he can do this. So while he’s not quite throwing layered passes in-between defenders consistently over the middle in a pro-style offense with different progressions — he can make big plays downfield with accuracy. For that reason, I’d say he fits.

As a runner he is a real threat. I think one of the reasons he’s so successful is because he can hit the edge so quickly. Daniels can go from standing in the pocket to accelerating to the perimeter in no time at all. From there, it’s almost effortless how he can change direction and get upfield. There’s almost no wasted movement from the moment he sets off, changes direction and he uses that just as well when dodging tackles. His agility and speed appear to be excellent.

I do think this will translate. Now — he’s not a big player. He’s listed at 6-4 and 210lbs and that’s after some serious weight-work last summer. He’ll need to learn when to quit on runs (he can do a better job sliding). Yet it’s very easy to imagine him being an absolute terror when an offense goes up-tempo. He’ll be able to scramble around in the pocket and the threat to break contain will be a major headache for a defense in every game. Daniels the runner isn’t a nice little wrinkle to his game — it’s a major factor. You want to get him moving around like the early Russell years. He’s good at sensing a crease and maxing out opportunities.

There are also clearly moments of genuine inspiration on the move. Improvisation and elusiveness has never been more important. There are plays where he’s really good at dropping, subtly moving around to stay clean and he extends plays with his footwork. On multiple occasions receivers would uncover and he’s adept at finding them in this situation. You need this in the NFL.

One area for concern is he needs to do a better job being quicker over the middle on intermediate passes. He also needs to drive those throws in. He doesn’t have the rocket-arm to fire into a receiver in tight coverage on shorter routes and he had a pick against Arkansas where the defender read his eyes and just undercut a fairly tame throw. He’ll need to disguise these plays better too because as noted, he’s not making a lot of progressions. He can use a bit of shorter-range venom to the arm too.

Statistically he’s having a huge year. He’s already up to 38 total touchdowns compared to four picks. As a comparison, Russell Wilson had 40 total touchdowns for Wisconsin in 2011 and four interceptions.

Increasingly I think this about Daniels. He’s a very creative player who can deliver big plays in the passing game, he’s elusive in the pocket and a constant threat to break off big runs. A defensive opponent will need to guard against him in so many different ways. Yes — he is going to need to learn to operate in a pro-system and he’ll need to continue to work on his strength to drive those intermediate passes into tight windows. Yet there’s no reason why he can’t develop into an asset over time.

He is not the prototypical big, strong, dynamic thrower but I do now think he could be a lesser version of Lamar Jackson. His arm isn’t quite as strong and he’s not quite as dynamic as a runner — but he’s not a mile away either.

Daniels had his worst performance of the season in week one against Florida State and hasn’t really looked back after that. How early could he go? That’s difficult to answer at this stage. If he turned up at the combine and ran a 4.4 before throwing well — all bets are off. A great Senior Bowl would really help him too and he could use that to separate from other players with a strong week in Mobile.

I’ve moved him into a round two grade with the feeling he could rise beyond that in time. There’s just too much creativity, too much athleticism, too many big throws downfield to ignore.

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Video: What I actually think about the Seahawks

November 15th, 2023 | Written by Rob Staton


Tuesday draft notes: Penix, Ewers, Daniels

November 14th, 2023 | Written by Rob Staton

Notes on three players Seahawks fans should be monitoring…

— Michael Penix Jr had a typically eventful game against Utah. Once again he delivered some outstanding throws that only he is currently capable of in college football. Brock Huard mentioned on the broadcast he has 11-inch hands, which is incredible (and probably makes it difficult to find a pair of winter gloves).

He was also erratic at times, missing on a number of throws and again appearing to throw to areas rather than deliver passes with anticipation and precision.

I had a look at the stats today and this is interesting:

Games 1-5 — 33 pressures, 74.9% completions

Games 6-10 — 61 pressures, 62.2% completions

I think it shows how pressure is impacting him. This is my concern. A lot of his snaps are in the gun, playing pitch-and-catch to top-end receivers behind a good O-line. Washington only give up 0.7 sacks a game, now the third best record in college.

In the NFL he isn’t going to have this environment. He’s going to be pressured a lot more, he’s going to have a lot less time and he’s not going to be able to throw to areas. He’s going to need to make quick, precise reads then deliver layered throws with timing and anticipation.

Penix’s arm is intriguing. It’s impossible not to be impressed by it. Yet a vital part of projection is to determine how a player translates to the next level. C.J. Stroud had similar benefits to Penix at Ohio State but showed against Georgia in the playoffs that it didn’t matter. He could play a pro-game under duress and still look incredible. What we saw from Stroud against Georgia, we’re seeing in the NFL now. It feels like Penix needs that type of performance if he’s going to go as high as some think.

— Reports are emerging that Quinn Ewers will return to Texas next year. In terms of his personal development, I think it’s the best decision. As a Seahawks fan, I’ll be disappointed if this is true.

I’ve really gone back and forth on Ewers. Some of his erraticism is tough to take. He has improved this season but the occasional glaring error still pops up on tape. Yet the more you watch and the closer you study him — you start to really see the natural talent he has. Ewers has such easy arm strength. He generates velocity with almost no effort. Penix has to put a lot of his body into throws, even with those 11-inch hands. With Ewers, a flick of the wrist gets the ball high and downfield. It’s highly impressive and speaks to the unbelievable level of potential he possesses.

A few weeks ago I started to think he just needed time and games. He’s clearly progressed from 2022 to 2023. Another year starting for Texas could put him in contention to be the #1 pick in 18 months. The only concern would be injuries (he’s missed time in the last two years). Plus, it’s unclear how Texas will view things given Arch Manning is waiting in the wings.

I think he’d be a really good option for Seattle. His stock wouldn’t be as high in 2024 as it might be in 2025, putting him in range. You might need to live through some early growing pains but when things clicked for Ewers and the pro-game slows down, you could be left with an amazing talent. He’s also the type of player and person I think John Schneider will really rate.

Losing him as an option next April would be a big blow. There are other quarterbacks the Seahawks could consider but increasingly I’ve thought Ewers would be a likely key target. Nothing has been confirmed yet and if the Longhorns make a National Championship run in the coming weeks, things can change. Only a few weeks ago there was a report suggesting JJ McCarthy would return to Michigan and now the latest is he’s likely to turn pro. Things can change.

Staying at Texas might be best for Ewers. Selfishly, I want what might be best for the Seahawks instead.

— Without a shadow of a doubt, Jayden Daniels should be in the Heisman mix. What he’s doing week-to-week is incredible. The production, the combination of running and throwing. It’s highly impressive. Plus, he has been consistent throughout the season after struggling in the opener against Florida State.

It’s started to put him more on the draft radar for fans and media. I studied some of his tape on Monday and wanted to offer a few thoughts.

There’s certainly physical talent on display. He has a good arm and can throw the ball downfield for big, explosive plays. Per PFF, he has 27 ‘big time throws’ this season. Only Drake Maye (30) has more. His ‘big time throw percentage’ (the number of times a throw results in a big play) ranks first in the NCAA (9.4%).

As a runner, he’s quite unique. He snakes in-and-out of tacklers like a player in Madden. He can shift his body with suddenness then change direction with ease. He dodges tackles about as well as anyone. Then, he has the acceleration to turn a good play into a great play.

For this reason there has to be a degree of intrigue. The raw tools are there to work with. Plus, not every player needs to be a classic prototype to succeed in the NFL. Some journeys are a little bit different. Take Russell Wilson, who’s height was a big talking point and he was essentially shuffled out at NC State so they could start Mike Glennon. Jalen Hurts was benched by Alabama, transferred, never really looked like an obvious pro-prospect until the Senior Bowl and combine and now he’s months removed from a Super Bowl appearance and he leads one of the most potent offense’s in the NFL.

When I was watching the tape though, it simply validated the opinion I already had on Daniels. Whether it’s the system or the player — everything is one-read-and-run. There are plenty of designed QB draws. There’s very little evidence of progressing through targets and staying patient in the pocket. Either by design or instinct, he’s setting off and running if the initial target isn’t open. It works for LSU — but you can’t do this in the NFL.

It means you’re left to try and project. Teams will need to determine whether he can become a player who can operate in a pro-system with running ability as a fantastic bonus — rather than relying on it when the first read isn’t there. That isn’t easy to do.

I can’t imagine I’ll change my view until the all-star games. Daniels is going to be a really tricky projection. If a team took him on day two, I’d be intrigued to see how he gets on and wouldn’t criticise the pick. Could he end up being another Hurts? Maybe. Equally, I can totally understand why he might last beyond day two and wouldn’t criticise the NFL collective for passing in that range.

I noticed Brock Huard made a passing reference to Lamar Jackson on 710 Seattle Sports recently. I understand that comparison given the running production/ability. I’d also say, though, that Jackson was evidently special in college. It was a few years ago now but Jackson was an old-time blog favourite. The way he played for Louisville was legitimately special. He did things other players cannot — as a passer, not just as a runner. I can still remember banging on about one play action throw he did on the half-way line, a slight flick of the wrist and bang — a 50-odd yard touchdown into the tightest window downfield. Making it look easy. Then there was the legit 4.3 speed.

Daniels is a great runner and he has a good arm. Jackson was other-wordly though. He lasted as long as he did in the draft mostly thanks to a chaotic draft process. He wouldn’t run for teams, it was difficult to arrange meetings with him as he insisted on using his mother as an agent. He could’ve easily been a top-10 pick and basically did everything he could to put teams off. The talent, however, was obvious. We’ve seen that in the NFL and nothing about his career is a surprise.

Daniels isn’t a phenomena like Lamar Jackson. He is extremely athletic though, with an arm, and I wouldn’t rule out him succeeding with the right team at the next level.

I think the same about Jordan Travis. He hasn’t got a great downfield arm but is it beyond the realms of possibility he has a great draft process like Hurts and then joins a team where he can be a point-guard plus? He is, after all, making Florida State relevant again with a surprising unbeaten season.

Personally I think there’s a fairly significant separation between Spencer Rattler and these two players — but if we’re trying to identify depth at the position and options, there’s every reason to monitor their progress.

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The Seahawks need to draft a quarterback in 2024

November 13th, 2023 | Written by Rob Staton

Geno Smith is the man for today, not for the future

The Seahawks need to draft a quarterback. They need to find someone who can elevate the team to another level. Delaying and putting this off is pointless. They need to bite the bullet, identify a target (or several targets) and go and get a QB.

That doesn’t mean whoever they pick will guarantee success. That’s not how it works. Yet there are two types of teams in the NFL — teams with legit franchise quarterbacks and those without. If you don’t have one, you should be doing all you can to find one. That means using the draft.

Mahomes, Stafford, Brady, Mahomes, Brady, Foles, Brady, Manning, Brady, Wilson. These are the last 10 Super Bowl winning quarterbacks. It makes no sense to try and emulate the odd-one-out of that group (winning with Nick Foles) instead of acknowledging the rest were top-level quarterbacks. Peyton Manning might’ve been a husk by the time he rode off into the sunset but there must’ve been some advantage in having one of the all time greats behind center, guiding the offense while an elite defense did its thing.

And that’s the other key thing isn’t it? The Seahawks don’t have an elite defense. Based on the way they handled the fourth quarter yesterday, it’s a long way away from elite too. They have some young, talented players but there are also expensive weaker areas and not enough schematic brilliance to counter this.

No, they need a quarterback. The sooner they get that player into the system the better. Whether they start in year one or year two, they need to be on the books.

I saw Geno Smith’s performance yesterday described as ‘spectacular’ online, with articles saying the level of performance against the Commanders is what’s needed to get the Seahawks to where they want to go. Really?

To me it just felt like more of the same. The offense, led by Geno, runs hot and cold like a tap — as does the quarterback. As much as it was a relief at the end to see Smith get a win, the first half was positively tortuous to watch. At half-time, for the first time, I thought we might be edging closer to seeing Drew Lock. Smith staved that off with a convincing end to the game — but let’s have some perspective.

Last week the Commanders traded away their only two edge rushers. Defensively, Washington were ranked 29th per DVOA (and that’s with Chase Young and Montez Sweat). This is a franchise, under new ownership, waiting to fire the coaches and rebuild everything. Smith and the Seahawks had to win this game. Job done — but let’s not overstate the achievement. Especially when the penultimate drive was extended by a generous pass interference call on fourth down that would’ve led to a turnover on downs at a critical moment.

Smith has shown that while he might be the man for today, he isn’t the man for the future. The Seahawks are three wins away from the QB earning a $2m bonus to his 2024 salary. That would take his cap-hit beyond $33m. The Seahawks, with only $6-7m in effective cap space to spend next year as things stand, can’t afford that. I keep arguing that no team can. You either need to be paying an elite franchise QB big money, or you should be paying next to nothing on a bridge/rental paired with a rookie you are developing. Paying a mid-tier QB ‘market value’ often just prevents you from properly looking for a better alternative, staying stuck in a purgatory of ‘not really contending’. It’s the Kirk Cousins/Derek Carr model.

Designating Smith as a post-June 1st cut would create $22.5m in money which can be used to retain Leonard Williams and/or go towards retaining a long list of free agent starters. That feels like a better use of money based on what we’ve seen so far in 2023.

Even with Aaron Donald and Sean McVay’s hoodoo next week, I’d expect the Seahawks to play well against DVOA’s #27 ranked defense. The Rams rematch should be a reverse of week one, with the Seahawks heading into a gauntlet of games at 7-3. The fear has to be that the next four games — playing the 49ers twice, the Cowboys and the Eagles — could see the team regress to mean. Whatever happens in that stretch, it should really only determine one of two things:

1. Whether Geno returns next year as a competitive bridge on a reduced salary

2. Whether they just move on

Smith will not lead this team to a Super Bowl. Or switch those two things around. This team will not lead Smith to a Super Bowl either. People talk about the Ravens and Trent Dilfer but the Seahawks don’t have a 2000 Ravens defense.

Just as we saw in 2012, the path to the next step includes a good young quarterback. It also includes other things — like better game-planning and execution by the offensive coordinator and not having a defensive fourth quarter like we saw yesterday. Drafting a QB is part of the next phase though, or at least it should be.

I gave my thoughts on the 2024 quarterback class in this article. This is the time. No more delays or excuses. It’s time to draft a QB.

I do think Spencer Rattler has the creativity, arm strength and pure talent to be a difference maker. He’s also faced true adversity in college and a NFL environment playing behind the seventh worst offensive line in college football statistically. He still succeeds, plays with poise, makes good decisions, improvises, throws with anticipation and touch and he has easy arm strength. His situation is a complete contrast to the likes of JJ McCaffrey (only has to throw eight times in the toughest game of the season so far), Bo Nix (high-percentage passing offense and only sacked 0.4 times a game — best number in the NCAA) and Michael Penix Jr (only sacked 0.7 times a game, throwing to the second best receiver in college football in an ultra-productive system). It’s crazy how overlooked Rattler is just because he plays for a struggling team. This is a player who has been through a lot in his career already and he’s now mature, experienced and playing within structure. He is shining.

Quinn Ewers is a long way from reaching his full potential but that final destination could be top-tier. His natural talent takes some time to discover but when you see it, you can’t unsee it. He has easy arm strength, he throws layered passes, he throws with anticipation and he has the best win/performance by a QB in college football this season at Alabama. He’s playing for a coach who has been in the NFL and nothing has been easy for the Longhorns this year despite a successful season to date. Ewers is immensely talented and the way he flicks his wrist and generates so much torque is incredible. He can get the ball out quickly with a variety of arm-angles and he’s a modern NFL passer who, so far, has only scratched the surface of what he can achieve.

I think Penix Jr belongs in the conversation for Seattle too. For me, he’s better suited to the Washington offense we saw on Sunday. Eric Bienemy seems content to throw it 45-50 times a game, running game be damned. Sam Howell has had way more passing attempts and drop-backs than any other quarterback in the league. In that kind of system, Penix could excel. Throw it 50 times, appreciate that there will be 20-25 incompletions but within the 20-25 throws that hit the spot, you’re going to get 5-6 big plays (including a couple of absolute highlight-reel throws). I’d be very intrigued to see Penix in that type of environment. Even though that isn’t really Seattle’s thing, his arm talent on the throws he does make is intriguing — although Sunday’s game against Utah highlighted some of the question marks. There were a lot of ‘throws to areas’ because the scheme dictates everything. This leads to a lot of cheap incompletions where it’s basically, ‘look off this defender, aim to the other side’ and you hope Rome Odunze makes a play. This is a very user-friendly system and far from a NFL environment. You also worry about his mechanics when he faces pressure and when you throw in injury concerns, I currently think he will go somewhere between #20-60. That said, there were throws in the Utah game that no other college QB can make and that counts for something.

We can go deeper. I think Will Howard has talent at Kansas State. He might be a third round type but there’s something there, even if he’s not for the Seahawks. Jordan Travis’ deep-ball might not be good enough but when you watch him, you do wonder if he could turn into essentially what Jalen Hurts has become for the Eagles. Can he be a playmaking runner/passer type who moves around, keeps opponents guessing and then gets the ball to his key targets on time despite perhaps lacking early round physical tools? Jayden Daniels is getting a lot of internet love. I’d stress that he’s very much a ‘one-read-and-run’ QB at LSU and that’s an issue for next-level projection. Even so, athletically and physically he has talent — he just needs a fair bit of time and development. Both Travis and Daniels have completed a lot more ‘big time throws’ this year than most of their college counterparts (27 for Daniels, second most in college behind only Drake Maye, 19 for Travis — ranked 19th). Plus without Travis, there’s almost no chance Florida State would be unbeaten.

The point I’m making is the options are there — whether it’s round one, two or three. The Seahawks need to make an investment. They need to aim higher.

The Chiefs didn’t settle for Alex Smith, they traded up for Patrick Mahomes. The Eagles didn’t settle for Carson Wentz, they drafted Jalen Hurts in round two just 10 months after paying Wentz a mega-deal. The 49ers might’ve had an adventure at QB but in order to get to Brock Purdy, they traded the farm to try and upgrade Jimmy Garoppolo and at the very least were not settling for anything. The Rams didn’t settle for Jared Goff — they traded for Matt Stafford and won a Super Bowl. The 2012 Seahawks didn’t settle for Matt Flynn, they drafted and started Russell Wilson.

We need to add the 2024 Seahawks to this list, not the list that includes the Vikings and Kirk Cousins or the Raiders/Saints and Derek Carr.

It’s time to draft a quarterback in 2024, whatever happens over the next few weeks.

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Instant reaction: Seahawks beat Commanders (just)

November 12th, 2023 | Written by Rob Staton

Firstly, thank goodness the Seahawks won. Losing to a team as thoroughly mediocre as this Commanders outfit, playing out their schedule with new owners just waiting for the chance to appoint their own coaches, would’ve been tough to handle.

Scraping to victory, though, exposed issues that simply can’t be ignored any longer.

The offense just isn’t functioning as it should be. For example, every week Pete Carroll reaffirms his commitment to trying to run the ball. Every week, they do the opposite. The Seahawks have used two second round picks on running backs and yet the ground game takes a weekly back-seat to the passing game.

The execution is off across the board. Confusion on routes. Miscommunication. The quarterback missing throws. They can’t do anything for long stretches, then they come to life for a bit. Carroll constantly talks about needing to clean things up (he did it again at half-time today, per the sideline reporter) and yet we’re nine games into the season. When’s it going to happen?

They’ve spent picks and cap-space galore on their skill players yet seem incapable of featuring any of them specifically to exploit opponents. Look at the Chargers today and the way they used Keenan Allen. I’m starting to wonder if the Seahawks have too many options? Other teams would find a way to bamboozle opponents with so many weapons. I think in Seattle, they’re simply bamboozling themselves. Receivers, tight ends, running backs. Are they spoilt for choice? This feels like a team that is almost worse for having so many options.

We’ve been talking about it for weeks but Geno Smith simply isn’t playing consistently well enough. If there was any doubt remaining, the Seahawks have to address the quarterback position in the off-season. This team will not reach its full potential without a better QB. Credit for the final two scoring drives, especially the game-winner. But we don’t need to pretend that, actually, he’s the answer for the long-haul after all just because the game ended well against a very average opponent, delivering a three-point win. Even the penultimate scoring drive at the end benefitted from a slightly fortunate fourth-down flag on Benjamin St.Juste in what otherwise would’ve been a turnover on downs.

Yet it’s not just the quarterback. They are schematically lacking on both sides of the ball. You can’t trust the coaching staff to cook up plans to outsmart their opposite numbers.

Are we supposed to believe in this defense? Not when they give up two way-too-easy scoring drives in the fourth quarter. That’s when you finish. They didn’t. They kept Washington alive. The safeties are too expensive. The pass rush, Boye Mafe aside, isn’t great. Watching at the end, you’re desperate for them to make a big play. They just couldn’t — and they actually gave up big plays instead.

There are positives. Devon Witherspoon is clearly a very good player. Mafe might never be a game-wrecker but he’s certainly showing he can be productive and could easily grow into a Cliff Avril-level talent. Ken Walker is a highly explosive playmaker who should be used better than he is (imagine what a s**t-hot coordinator could do with him). These are very good high draft picks for Seattle and highlight how well they did in the last two drafts. You need to hit on your early picks.

I suspect the next high pick they’ll need to hit on will be at the quarterback position.

The Seahawks move to 6-3 and even with Sean McVay’s stranglehold over the franchise, the Rams have stalled and Seattle should be 7-3 by this time next week. I can’t write that with much conviction though. The thought of this team emerging as a serious contender from the gauntlet of games coming up after their trip to LA is the stuff of dreams, sadly.

I just hope they’re willing to make the difficult decisions needed in the off-season to make sure we’re not having these same conversations in 12 months.