Seattle Seahawks

OSN NFL Mock Draft

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OSN NFL Mock Draft

Welcome to NFL Draft Week! This is the week where dreams are made, hope is at an all-time high in the league, and there is always a surprise or two along the way.

This week the OSN staff got together to do a cumulative mock draft. Eight writers each took a specific division and drafted for the 4 teams in their respective divisions. Each writer brought a different angle and level of expertise to the table.

While there is no telling how the rollercoaster 3-day event will unfold in Philadelphia this weekend, check out how we see the 1st Round going on Thursday!

1 – Cleveland Browns – DE Myles Garrett, Texas A&M

Doug Mackar – “The best player in the draft. Garrett is a potential All-Pro talent that will have an immediate impact. A move in the draft order may allow the Browns to snatch up a QB early in the first round, but #1 this year is all about the defense. A QB isn’t going to help the second worst defense in the league; an elite pass rusher with the ability to play DE, or LB if needed, will. Garrett has the quickness, skill and power to beat the best O-linemen off the snap. Any team would be happy to have this talent on board. The Browns should be absolutely ecstatic.”

2 – San Francisco 49ers – DE Solomon Thomas, Stanford

Jason Hartzog – “The 49ers need to add talent all across the board. I wouldn’t be surprised if they trade the number 2 pick – trading down a few spots while adding some picks. Their biggest need is at the QB position, but they will remain patient and wait for the right guy. The 49ers will highly consider corner Marshon Lattimore (injury history brings up a red flag) and Mitch Trubisky (not sold on as the future QB), but ultimately take the best talent that they can put on the field in Thomas. Thomas has a high motor. He’s very versatile, he can play inside or outside. He will help improve their front line wherever the 49ers decide to play him.”

3 – Chicago Bears – CB Marshon Lattimore, Ohio State

Casey Mabbott – “Chicago needs a lot of help on both sides of the ball and could use the pick to add a playmaker to their #28 ranked scoring offense, but in order to keep pace with opponents in a pass heavy league, they need to keep adding on defense. This team gave up more points than 23 other teams in the league, that’s not going to get the job done as their offense goes through a massive transition. Lattimore is a pro-ready defender with great instincts who will add an immediate impact to a position of need, the Bears can’t ask for much more from a top-5 pick.”

4 – Jacksonville Jaguars – RB Leonard Fournette, LSU

Simon Teska – “The Jaguars have done a good job in recent years wasting top-10 picks on defensive lineman (that haven’t really panned out to be much) in an attempt to fix their perennial problems at DT and DE. Well enough of that crap. They haven’t had a legitimate RB since MJD took over for Fred Taylor. Fournette is the best back on the board and he geographically played close to the Jaguars fan base – although at SEC rival -Florida. Still though, Jaguars, don’t do anything stupid.”

5 – Tennessee Titans – S Malik Hooker, Ohio State

Simon Teska – “Ohio state players seem to be popular throughout all seven rounds of the draft every year and the Titans are throwing it back to 1996 when they took Eddie George out of OSU. This year, they look to add excitement on the defensive side of the ball.”

6 – New York Jets – QB DeShaun Watson, Clemson

Miriam Ludlow – “Established leadership and wins under his belt. Excellent pocket passer. He has championship experience. Meaning he can handle the pressures of the game. This is THE match as the NYJ are lacking QB talent.”

7 – Los Angeles Chargers – S Jamal Adams, LSU

Julian Rogers – “The Chargers have seen the past few seasons go up in smoke due to offensive line woes. Pro Football Focus ranked the Chargers’ line ahead of only the Seattle Seahawks’. They would love to go offensive line here, but the value just isn’t there. Instead, they’ll take the best player still available in Adams and add another piece to an impressive, young & ascending defense.”

8 – Carolina Panthers – RB Christian McCaffrey, Stanford

Darby Marioth – “With Leonard Fournette off the board, the Carolina Panthers settle, which I say with a grain of salt, for Stanford offensive Swiss army knife, Christian McCaffrey. While he may not be the speedy bulldozer that Fournette is, McCaffrey has a lot to show in terms of athletic ability, including a 4.48 40-yard dash and a 37.5 inch vertical leap. Where McCaffrey has Fournette unarguably beat is with his overall instincts. His ability to consistently find the correct lane is a prime example of this. A big reason why McCaffrey will fit in great with Carolina’s system is that he’s a sneaky-footed RB with a pass-catching ability that surpasses a great deal of wide receivers in the NFL. With the Panthers’ receiving corps in shambles and starting RB Jonathan Stewart only getting older at age 30, they’ll take out two birds with one stone by selecting McCaffrey.”

9 – Cincinnati Bengals – DL Jonathan Allen, Alabama

Doug Mackar – “Strengthening the D-line could take this team from average to fighting for a playoff spot. At 6’3”, he’ll need to take full advantage of his strength and quickness to compete with pro-level offensive lines. Solid against the run and an absolute nuisance to opposing quarterbacks, his speed will allow him to make plays outside the pocket that larger linemen may miss. Allen is a leader, a winner, and most importantly: a proven talent under pressure.”

10 – Buffalo Bills – S Jabrill Peppers, Michigan

Miriam Ludlow – “A multifaceted player, the man can play all positions, offense, defense and special teams. The man can do it all! For a team that needs help in all positions he is the perfect match!”

11 – New Orleans Saints – DE Derek Barnett, Tennessee

Darby Marioth – “Wait, Derek Barnett is still available? It’s a match made in heaven. The New Orleans Saints are in dire need of a dependable edge rusher, and have been for many years. Barnett is specifically known for his freakish ability to stop the run and put terror into the lives of quarterbacks despite his not-so-freakish physical marks at 6’3”, 259 pounds. Not only will Barnett provide an instant three-down talent in the league, I fully expect him to end the season with more recorded sacks than first-overall draft pick, Myles Garrett.”

12 – Cleveland Browns – TE O.J. Howard, Alabama

Doug Mackar – “Howard will fit in with a team that despite a 1-15 record (that actually hurts to write) actually showed some signs of life throughout the season. Another elite TE will help the QB-starved Browns find some yards with more consistency both in the air and on the ground.”

13 – Arizona Cardinals – WR Mike Williams, Clemson

Jason Hartzog – “Williams is a top tier talent. He makes big plays down the field and can make plays between the hash marks. He’s a potential number 1 receiver. He passes the eye test with his athleticism, size and speed. He can come in next to Larry Fitzgerald and maintain their high powered offense. Eventually Williams will replace an aging Fitzgerald as their number 1. Cardinals are thrilled to see him drop to 13 here.”

14 – Philadelphia Eagles – WR Corey Davis, Western Michigan

Garrett Thornton – “The Eagles would absolutely love Christian McCaffrey here. Instead they go with another offensive playmaker. A lot of folks think that with the acquisitions of Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith that the Eagles won’t take a receiver here. False. Jeffery and Smith are on one year deals and Davis is a game changer. This guy can, and will, be a true number one receiver in the NFL.”

15 – Indianapolis Colts – OT Ryan Ramczyk, Wisconsin

Simon Teska – “It isn’t a flashy pick by any means, but somewhere on draft day Andrew Luck is breathing a sigh of relief. Christian McCaffrey has been off the board for a while, so they can find Frank Gore’s replacement later (sorry Dalvin Cook). O-line isn’t deep this year, but the Colts think they’ve got the best available and Ramczyk will either start right away or will certainly add depth to a group that needs it.”

16 – Baltimore Ravens – OT Cam Robinson, Alabama

Doug Mackar – “Alabama is taking the AFC North by storm in my draft. Simple fact is that Baltimore gets significantly better by adding Robinson to their line. By playing to his strengths and steadily improving on his weaknesses, the Ravens will have one less thing to worry about on their journey to top the Steelers in the North.”

17 – Washington Redskins – LB Haason Reddick, Temple

Garrett Thornton – “Haason Reddick is one of the most versatile prospects in this draft, and the Redskins would be shocked and excited if he were available at #17. Reddick could be a rush end, a stand up linebacker, or a hybrid pass rusher that can disrupt every play. The Redskins need playmakers in the front seven and Reddick would make an impact Week One.”

18 – Tennessee Titans – TE David Njoku, Miami

Simon Teska – “Now, it’s time for Marcus Mariota to add a weapon in the Titan offense. A WR, like Washington’s speedster John Ross is also here, but the versatility of Njoku at the tight end position gives Mariota a reliable, safety valve to help on those third downs while providing a deep threat in the middle of the field as well. He’s athletic, he’s fast and he can make an immediate impact in the Tennessee offense.”

19 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers – RB Dalvin Cook, Florida State

Darby Marioth – “Dalvin Cook is one of the most interesting prospects in this draft. He’s bounced around various mock drafts, seen anywhere between the Philadelphia Eagles at 14 and the late second round. His major red flags haven’t been a result of his play, but rather his somewhat troubled past. In the words of Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher, “Mistakes make you grow.” Cook is a classic “made it” story. Tampa Bay will be ecstatic to have Cook drop to them at the 19 spot. Tampa Bay’s old school offensive system, which relies on a feature back, is in need of a makeover with the underperforming, often injured Doug Martin running the show. Former Florida State standout and starting quarterback Jameis Winston will be a fantastic positive influence for Cook.”

20 – Denver Broncos – OT Garett Bolles, Utah

Julian Rogers – “A true need pick. The 2016 Broncos’ offensive line performance had as much to do with the team’s fall from Super Bowl Champion to also-ran just as much as poor quarterback play. The Broncos shored up one offensive tackle spot by bringing in oft-injured Menelik Watson from the Oakland Raiders. But the right tackle spot still needs major help with Pro Football Focus’ worst-ranked offensive lineman of all last year, Donald Stephenson. With Watson’s side not yet determined, according to general manager John Elway, Bolles will compete for a starting spot at either right or left tackle.”

21 – Detroit Lions – LB Reuben Foster, Alabama

Casey Mabbott – “The Lions could use quite a bit of help on defense and pass rushers or cover corners are legitimate needs, but what they lack most is a leader in the middle. Reuben Foster was outstanding in his senior year at Alabama, earning All-American and Butkus Award honors as college football’s best linebacker. Foster has had some off the field concerns, most recently being dismissed from the combine and failing a drug test. If he stays out of trouble, he has the potential to be a Patrick Willis type of player and could be the leader on the field for Detroit from day one. Taking Foster this early could be risky, but getting a legitimate top-10 talent this late in the round is an opportunity the Lions need to take a chance on.

22 – Miami Dolphins – DE Taco Charlton, Michigan

Miriam Ludlow -Solid DE. Quick off the line.  6’6, 277 pounds of athletic ability and with the experience he has, having lead Michigan with 9.5 sacks among 13 tackles for loss, Taco could help the Miami Dolphins get to the next level.

23 – New York Giants – QB Mitchell Trubisky, North Carolina

Garrett Thornton – “This is a case of best player available. Eli Manning is 36 years old and isn’t going to be around forever. Trubisky can sit behind Manning for the next couple years in a Brett Favre-Aaron Rodgers type situation. This would be a phenomenal landing spot for Trubisky! The Giants really need an offensive tackle, but the top 3 are off the board so they go with a quarterback and future leader of the franchise.”

24 – Oakland Raiders – CB Gareon Conley, Ohio State

Julian Rogers – “If the draft really falls this way, the Raiders would be thrilled to nab Conley in this spot. Considered by some to be the equal of Ohio State Buckeye teammate Marshon Lattimore, Conley is the type of cornerback the Raiders like most: fast, tall, experienced (three-year starter), versatile and adept at press-man coverage. Instant starter.”

25 – Houston Texans – QB Pat Mahomes III, Texas Tech

Simon Teska – “With Trubisky off the board to the Giants, the Texans have to “settle” for in-state option Pat Mahomes. It really isn’t settling, however, as Mahomes brings in play-making ability to the QB position. Whether he starts right away is yet to be determined, but the sooner the Texans move on from the Brock Osweiler debacle the better. Mahomes is smart and shows poise, but is a little undersized at 6’2″.”

26 – Seattle Seahawks – OL Forrest Lamp, Western Kentucky

Jason Hartzog – “The Seahawks need to bolster up an offensive line that gave up 42 sacks last season (6th most in NFL). Lamp should be a great addition. There has been trade talk of Richard Sherman this offseason. It’s hard to imagine the Seahawks with Sherman, but if that becomes more of a reality on draft day they may look a little hard into a corner. Washington’s Kevin King or Alabama’s Marlon Humphrey would be nice options at this point.”

27 – Kansas City Chiefs – DE Charles Harris, Missouri

Julian Rogers – “Harris is a bit of a conundrum in that he is lauded as an effective speed rusher, yet doesn’t sport a sexy 40 time (4.82). He will need to work on his run defense, but the in-state selection will be a nice addition to the Chiefs’ defense. They also could go cornerback or running back, but the draft is deep at those positions. The Chiefs will wait for later rounds to fill those needs.”

28 – Dallas Cowboys – DE Takkarist McKinley, UCLA

Garrett Thornton – “The Cowboys need secondary and pass rush help more than anything else in this draft. With cornerbacks Marlon Humphrey and Kevin King still on the board, I was tempted to go that way. In the end, I think cornerback is a deeper position and the Cowboys could get a quality starter in Round 2. Takk had an impressive combine, running a 4.59 40-yard dash. In comparison, that was faster than top wide receiver prospect Mike Williams, and faster than any top QB prospect in the draft. McKinley may not be ready Week One after a shoulder surgery post-combine, but will be a disruptive pass rusher as a rookie.”

29 – Green Bay Packers – CB Kevin King, Washington

Casey Mabbott – “Green Bay can score points as well as any team in the league, where they fall short is slowing down opposing offenses, and that’s putting it nicely. Last year’s starting corners did little to contain opposing receivers, routinely allowing career high numbers whether they faced all-pros or guys you’ve never heard of. A veteran corner would have been nice, but GM Ted Thompson did nothing to improve his #31 pass defense after releasing Sam Shields (who was not able to pass concussion protocol after suffering his 4th concussion in 7 seasons during a week one contest at Jacksonville), so the team will once again look to the draft for help. The Packers will have to hope that Kevin King will be something like UW alum Marcus Peters, and use his speed and length to provide an immediate impact to a secondary in desperate need of help.”

30 – Pittsburgh Steelers – S Josh Jones, North Carolina State

Doug Mackar – “The Steelers are a Super Bowl contender as long as they stay healthy. A dangerous team on both sides of the ball, taking their average pass defense up a notch is a priority this year. If Jones is coached well and quickly develops the discipline of a pro, he can step in and be a difference maker from game one.”

31 – Atlanta Falcons – DE Jordan Willis, Kansas State

Darby Marioth – “If the Atlanta Falcons can display their patience, you’ll see them select Jordan Willis at the 31 spot. Willis is an explosive, speedy defensive end who will make a living as a nightmare for opposing quarterbacks. His physical numbers are best compared to DeMarcus Ware. His potential skill set is best compared to, well, DeMarcus Ware. If the Dirty Birds can provide Willis with some coaching on his hand usage and technique, they very well could have the NFL’s next great edge rusher on their team.”

32 – New Orleans Saints – DE T.J. Watt, Wisconsin

Darby Marioth – “There are a lot of great defensive ends in this year’s draft, and it’s only right that the first round of the draft ends the way it started; with the selection of a DE. T.J. Watt, brother of J.J. Watt, is ready to make a name for himself behind some pretty promising numbers. The 6’4”, 252 pound defensive menace could be an instant impact player in NO, who ranked 27th in the league in sacks last season. After selecting Derek Barnett earlier in the first round, you’d expect NO to look elsewhere. While the Saints could take a cornerback here, maybe LSU’s Tre’Davious White, I think that finding a definite answer for their horrendous pass rushing is a top priority. if this project pans out, the Saints could instantly become one of the NFL’s top edge pressure defenses.”

Top Ten Players Still Available After Day One (According to CBS Sports’ Dane Brugler):

1 – DL Malik McDowell, Michigan State (#20 Overall on Brugler’s Top-100)

2 – WR John Ross, Washington (#21)

3 – LB Zach Cunningham, Vanderbilt (#24)

4 – RB Curtis Samuel, Ohio State (#25)

5 – LB Jarrad Davis, Florida (#26)

6 – CB Marlon Humphrey, Alabama (#27)

7 – TE/WR Evan Engram, Ole Miss (#28)

8 – QB DeShone Kizer, Notre Dame (#29)

9 – CB Tre’Davious White, LSU (#32)

10 – S Budda Baker, Washington (#33)

The Seahawks' gift to the NFC is a playoff contest

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© Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

The Seahawks' gift to the NFC is a playoff contest

By 

They’re givers, the Seattle Seahawks. ‘Tis the season of giving and give they shall. Call it the gift of interest, for those interested in the NFC playoff contests.

Continuing their December magic in the Pete Carroll era (22–9), the blue birds of the Pacific Northwest gave the top-heavy NFC a tumble by taking down the previous conference leader, the (now) 10–2 Philadelphia Eagles on Dec. 3, 24–10. By bolstering their record to 8–4, and thanks to Sunday losses by the faltering Atlanta Falcons and up-and-down Carolina Panthers, the Seahawks vaulted from out of the playoffs to the conference’s No. 5 seed.

So yes, they gave a gift to themselves, first off, but gave a gift to the rest of the conference hopefuls by taking down the top dog and making every other remaining division leader (New Orleans Saints, Los Angeles Rams and Minnesota Vikings) legitimate hope they can snare the top spot, or at the very least the other penultimately important second seed and its accompanying first-round bye.

Heck, the blue birds might even have a shot at a bye themselves if they can continue their December magic against next Sunday’s (playoff-bound) opponent, the 8–4 Jacksonville Jaguars and again at home the following week against the NFC West-leading Rams.

Look what we got

Apart from doing themselves a solid, let’s examine who else benefited from the Seahawks’ surprising win against the Eagles.

Minnesota Vikings

Easily the jolliest of gift recipients, the surprising Vikings are now the conference’s No. 1 seed — tied with the Eagles, but nudged ahead for now with a tiebreaker (strength of schedule). The unexpected, magical season of the Vikings got its latest boost from the Seahawks the same weekend the Vikings enjoyed a listless outing in Atlanta from the faltering Falcons.

It all seems to be lining up purple right now. Despite losing yet another starting quarterback (Sam Bradford, injured reserve) and their starting rooking running back (Dalvin Cook), the Vikings have quietly cobbled together a credible offense with journeyman Case Keenum having a career year, to go along with the NFL’s second-stingiest defense in terms of both yards allowed and points.

It gets even better, if you’re feeling purplish: The Vikings, now with the inside track to the conference’s No. 1 seed, are the NFL’s greatest threat to be able to play the Super Bowl in their own stadium on Feb. 4 at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. Without Seattle’s December magic, they’d still have a shot, just not the best shot.

New Orleans Saints

One of the NFL’s other major surprises of 2017, the Saints have made mincemeat of their division opponents (3–0 so far) and have been on an absolute tear since staring the season 0–2. Their only loss since week three was to the also 9–3 Rams, and they did lose to the Vikings in week one. Homefield is almost certainly not in the cards for the Saints, but a possible first-round bye is reasonable now that they’re only one game out.

The Saints get the faltering Falcons twice, the faltering Buccaneers in Tampa and a home date against the also surprising, but middling, New York Jets. They can win out and possibly get the No. 2 seed, thanks to the Seahawks.

Los Angeles Rams

Like the Saints, the Rams are one game out of a round one bye. All they have to do is not be their traditional selves, which includes a number of late season swoons (2016 ended with seven straight defeats). Nothing the Rams have put on record this year suggests this is the same old Rams.

The Rams have won six of their last seven since losing to the Seahawks on Oct. 8. They will face three straight playoff-caliber teams in the Eagles, Seahawks and Tennessee Titans, so their work is cut out for them. They are one game out of the top spot, and can make a strong case for themselves if they take care of business at home against the Eagles and make a winning statement in Seattle on Dec. 17. They could also play themselves totally out of the playoffs. But having trimmed the top off the NFC, the Rams can thank the Seahawks for their extra incentive.

Thanks for nothing

The NFC teams that did not smile at the Seahawks’ most recent win include the 6–6 Green Bay Packers, who have only an outside shot at the playoffs and would prefer to be able to use their week one victory over Seattle as a tiebreaker, if needed. That’s no longer likely. The 8–4 Panthers are neck-and-neck with the Seahawks and currently behind in the tiebreaker criteria, so they would have preferred the Eagles won while they trail the Saints in their division—whom they can’t catch due to being swept. It’s Wild Card or nothing for the Panthers.

The Falcons can still make a run at a Wild Card, particularly since they have a head-to-head victory over the Seahawks, but they’ll need Seattle’s help, not more of the blue birds’ usual December magic. The 6–6 Dallas Cowboys also have no shot in their division, so they’re not happy to have to try to catch Seattle, now two games ahead. Ditto for the 6–6 Detroit Lions, who, like the Cowboys and Packers, are hoping for some serious losing streaks by Carolina, Seattle and Atlanta.

Of course, the Seahawks could still win the NFC West. If they’re going to, it starts Sunday in Jacksonville, on the road against the NFL’s stoutest defense (14.8 ppg) and perhaps a more surprising seventh-highest scoring offense in the NFL (24.9 ppg). Will the Seahawks continue their giving tradition this holiday season? They’re underdogs in this one, but that didn’t matter last week. It’s December, after all.

Are The Seattle Seahawks … Mediocre?

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Are The Seattle Seahawks … Mediocre?

BY JULIAN ROGERS

3 reasons why they are and 1 reason why they aren’t

Meh. Middling. Also-runs. Is that what we’re seeing from the current Seattle Seahawks as they prepare for their week 13 Sunday Night Football contest at home against the Philadelphia Eagles — 2017’s league darlings? If there ever were a contrast between a team on the rise and a formerly great team on the decline, this Sunday night’s game is the showcase.

Reason #1: Playoffs? We’re talking playoffs?

Let’s start there. As the Eagles attempt to hold on to the NFC’s No. 1 seed, the Seahawks are currently on the outside looking in in the NFC Playoffs standings. ESPN estimates the Seahawks’ chances of making the postseason at 47.4 percent.

True, they’re tied with the also 7–4 Atlanta Falcons, but they lose the head-to-head tiebreaker. The blue birds’ best path to the postseason is probably to overtake the NFC’s No. 2 darling team, the 8–3 Los Angeles Rams, whom they did manage to defeat earlier in the year. The also 8–3 Carolina Panthers are the other NFC team a single game ahead of the Seahawks, but they will not play each other in the remainder of the regular season. The Seahawks will get a shot at sweeping the Rams on Dec. 17, should their playoff goose not already be cooked.

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This makes the Eagles game loom ever larger. There no longer is any wiggle room for the Seahawks if they are to be considered a playoff-caliber team. Oh, and winning out? As of now, the Seahawks are favored in only three of their remaining five games. Merely meeting those expectations probably won’t get a playoff invitation.

Reason #2: The Legion of Whom

Well. That escalated quickly. The formerly fearsome foursome known as the Legion of Boom suddenly is the unit of yesteryear.

Previously felled by you-can’t-pay-everyone contract-itis, (safety Kam Chancellor’s 2015 holdout, that rotating #2 cornerback spot of the past several seasons), now the Seahawks’ former foremost position of strength has seen the likely last of stalwarts Chancellor (neck, out for the season) and cornerback Richard Sherman (Achilles’ heel, out for the season). Not only are they out for the rest of the year, they’re almost certainly out of Seattle entirely in the coming years, due to increased injury, age & cost factors.

To make matters worse, Earl Thomas may not be long for the unit, as well. Thomas’ devastating, season-ending (there’s that phrase again) broken leg of last year nearly caused him to call it a career. He’s bounced back nicely this season, but the remnants of the LOB are now resting too heavily on his repaired legs. Leg injuries knocked him out of weeks 9 and 10. He has one year remaining on his 2014 blockbuster deal ($8.5M) after this season, and will be hard-pressed to resign as an increasingly oft-injured, aging player.

For now, it’s Thomas and the best duct tape Seahawks defensive backs coach Andre Curtis can find. He found some, apparently in former LOBer Byron Maxwell and almost-former LOBer Jeremy Lane.

The Legion of Boom is now the Legion of retreads, don’t want ‘ems, and who-dat young guys. Plus Earl.

Meh.

Reason #3: The Seahawks offense, Russell Wilson, excepted

We don’t need to hammer on the Seahawks’ offensive line any further. They’d almost certainly break. Equally inept at pass protection and run-blocking, the Seahawks’ revolving door of injured linemen has become less of an excuse for the just general, ongoing ineffectiveness of the five guys that get the offense started.

OK, I guess I could pile on a bit more.

The Seahawks’ tried and true formula of running the ball like in the Beast Mode era never got off the ground this season. Plug in anyone: A supposedly revitalized and healthy Thomas Rawls (a healthy scratch two weeks ago; one play from scrimmage against the San Francisco 49ers), a supposedly revitalized and healthy Eddie Lacy, a promising rookie upstart in Chris Carson (injured reserve) and a (yes, we’re getting repetitive again) supposedly revitalized and healthy C.J. Prosise (injured reserve, again) … it’s just gone like that.

The Seahawks did make Mike Davis a real roster player and quickly received dividends. He’s now injured, of course.

The Seahawks’ seventh-ranked passing game outpaces the Seahawks’ rushing game by a wide margin (20th). When you consider that the blue birds’ top rusher is quarterback Russell Wilson with 401 yards on 65 attempts, you can hardly be surprised when I tell you that the team has no rushing touchdowns by a regular running back yet this year. Hybrid runner/receiver J.D. McKissic has one rushing TD and Wilson has the other three.

“Mediocre” might be kind. However …

Reason why the Seahawks are not mediocre

Russell Wilson has proven to be a once-in-a-generation talent. Not only has he been required to be the sometimes only playmaker, he’s accounted for more yards from scrimmage than anyone else in the league.

From ESPN: “Pete Carroll says of how much the Seahawks’ offense has relied on Russell Wilson this season, ‘I don’t know how you could carry it much more numbers-wise.’ Wilson has accounted for almost 86 percent of Seattle’s scrimmage yards. Per the NFL, that would be the highest percentage for any player in the Super Bowl era.”

Enough said.

Wilson’s 3,029 passing yards outpace Sunday’s opponent, wunderkind Carson Wentz (2,657), but he trails Wentz in touchdown passes to date: 23 to 28. Wilson’s best buddies on offense are his receiving corps, which has seen Jimmy Graham come on of late (49 receptions, 447 yards, 8 TDs), and a solid 58 receptions, 698 yards and 4 TDs from No. 1 receiver Doug Baldwin. Speedster Paul Richardson has finally shown promise with a stellar 16.7 yards per catch average and 5 TDs. Tyler Lockett has not been much of a factor from scrimmage.

Is it enough help for Russell Wilson? The biggest test of the year comes this Sunday night. It’s make-or-break time for the middling Seahawks.

Hey Seattle Seahawks Fans, What Can Brown Do Or NOT Do For You?

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Hey Seattle Seahawks Fans, What Can Brown Do Or NOT Do For You?

BY SIMON TESKA

The usually quiet, NFL trade deadline had an advantageous spin for the Seattle Seahawk fan base this year as it materialized the means to solve a major problem for the NFC West squad.

Veteran left tackle Duane Brown was acquired for future draft picks, clearly addressing the No. 1 issue that has been plaguing the ‘Hawks all season. The offensive line will be stronger, the run game will be back (allegedly) and Russell Wilson won’t be running for his life. All is fixed, right?

Brown solves all of their problems, doesn’t he?

Well…let’s not pencil them into the Super Bowl just yet. There’s still a lot of work to do, but what Brown do (or not do)?

RUNNING BACK COMMITTEE

I think every time I write about the Seahawks I bring up their ridiculous running back situation. I’d stop talking about it they would figure it out, pick one or even two, or just make a public statement that all options are terrible and they aren’t even going to try to run the ball anymore. The Philadelphia Eagles, on the opposite end of the ‘backfield situation spectrum’, traded for a running back (Jay Ajayi) and they didn’t even need one.

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Will Brown help the Seahawks running game? Allegedly. I’m skeptical. Like, I believe in bigfoot more so than I believe in the Seahawks running game.

Here’s a look inside the numbers through eight games so far. (stats courtesy of www.seahawks.com)

 

PLAYER ATT YDS YDS/ATT LONG TD
Chris Carson 49 208 4.2 30 0
Russell Wilson 36 194 5.4 29 1
Eddie Lacy 42 108 2.6 19 0
Thomas Rawls 30 59 2 9 0
J.D. McKissic 13 54 4.2 30 1
Tyler Lockett 7 44 6.3 22 0
C.J. Prosise 8 20 2.5 8 0
Austin Davis 1 -1 -1 -1 0
Doug Baldwin 1 -3 -3 -3 0

 

If you take time to do the math, it doesn’t appear terrible – 85ish yards per game and a total rushing yards to date of 683. Let’s subtract Wilson’s 194 yards because he’s a quarterback and Tyler Lockett’s numbers because he is a wide receiver. That equals 55.6 yards per game. Ouch.

Kareem Hunt of the Kansas City Chiefs leads the NFL in rushing yards with 763, but expecting Seattle’s whole team to compete with one rookie out of Toledo is too much to ask…right? Apparently, it is. Can Brown improve the 55.6 yards of “real” rushing per game? (Real rushing because I subtracted Wilson and Lockett).

Before I move on from the above chart, what is more annoying than Wilson being second on this list is the yards per carry of everyone bracketed in my “real” rushing yards group. Look at that! (I scrolled up to highlight it for you. You’re welcome.)

Good luck fixing that, Brown. I hope holding out in Houston forever was worth this mess.

INJURIES ON DEFENSE

Tabling the 30-plus points and the 400-plus yards of passing from Deshaun Watson – good luck to him and his ACL recovery, BTW – that the Seattle defense gave up last week for a minute, there are some issues on defense that Brown can’t do much about for the Seahawks either.

Earl Thomas injured his hamstring trying to catch up to Deandre Hopkins and hasn’t practiced much this week as a result. Maybe he’ll sit out on Sunday and contemplate retiring again – but I hope not! It’s just a hamstring…famous last words.

The other “usual suspects” showed up on the injury report as well – Cam Chancellor, Michael Bennett and Bobby Wagner. If any of them are seriously hurt – there’s not much Brown can do to help them either.

WHAT CAN BROWN DO FOR JEREMY LANE?

In definitely my favorite part of the Duane Brown trade was the life changing moment(s) involving cornerback Jeremy Lane. He was initially traded to Houston, but failed a physical, and Seattle said, “Just kidding everyone involved.” The Seahawks changed the draft pick compensation and ended up getting Lane back.

I wonder how awkward that was for everyone involved?

At least Brown – by proxy – has a chance for Lane to resurrect his career in Seattle. Technically, Brown is giving him a second chance. One would think I had nothing better to do than think about awkward locker room conversation between players, but I can’t help it.

Anyways, Lane is back with the team and suiting up for Sunday. Please, don’t get burned deep or something.

THE BOTTOM LINE

I pick on the running backs a lot, but at the end of the day – no question Brown makes the Seahawks better. Every team in the NFL has issues when you dissect and break them down position by position – yes, Belichick – even your team!

The NFC West isn’t exactly a powerhouse division this year. The L.A. Rams are competing, but Seattle will be fine to make the post-season. The NFL draft might be a little sad when that second-round pick comes around, but for Wilson’s blind side, I will take that trade. (Note last time I said something like that was when my Colts traded their first-round pick for Trent Richardson…so, let’s hope for a better result from Brown.)

There’s probably a lot of things Brown CANNOT do. I’m not sure if he can make good waffles or not. He may be a bad driver and/or impolite towards pedestrians and bicyclists. I have no idea, but at the end of the day, he CAN block from the left tackle position – which is good news.

I’m sure Wilson bought him a hamburger or something.

Merry Christmas Seattle – Duane Brown Trade Could Save Seahawks’ Season

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Merry Christmas Seattle – Duane Brown Trade Could Save Seahawks’ Season

BY CASEY MABBOTT

Even if you have only casually observed the 2017 version of Seattle’s offense, you can’t be impressed with their offensive line play. Athletic and mobile QB Russell Wilson was running for his life the majority of the time, whoever started at running back spent each game running head first in to brick walls (surprisingly not the reason they have been so banged up this year), and receivers seemed to be getting bored running routes just to rarely see a football come near them.

[NBC Sports Gold “Blazers Pass” 15-game Blazers package for fans without NBC Sports Northwest $34.99 – click to learn more and buy]

This week, all of that has the potential to change, and it’s all thanks to a very unlikely hero – the NFL office’s fax machine.

That’s right folks, trades are still done the old-fashioned way in the NFL, and once teams complete a trade they have to make it official by getting the paperwork to the league office the same way you or I might have received an internet signal way back when Will Smith was famous in the music industry.  And if that reference didn’t click for you, don’t @ me, just look it up and move on. For as good as Google is at gathering information, you still have to look it up. These are not the Dewey Decimal System days (another reference you’re not likely to get, and again, don’t @ me), so it’s surprising how little research the average younger person is willing to do in today’s age of information. If you don’t understand a piece of information you hear or see on your phone, you can just switch to another tab and look it up. Having to say this in writing is exactly why the website lmgtfy.com exists, and their tag line is “for all those people who find it more convenient to bother you with their question rather than search it for themselves”. If you are contributing to this problem, please stop. Please also stop using “that happened before I was born” as an excuse for things you don’t know. Blame your teachers, blame your parents, blame your friends, but do not blame your birth year. If you have a cell phone, with the world’s information readily available, there is no legitimate reason for you to be that oblivious. And yes, I do like my typewriter, and yes, my cardigan is comfortable, and yes I do need to shout in to the phone, my voice has to travel a long distance to the other person and I have to yell over the volume of you kids and your darn devil music (if you can even call that garbage music these days). And we’re moving on.

And speaking of moving on, the Seahawks and their offensive line finally have an answer at left tackle, and his name is Duane Brown, the latest in a list of blind side blockers that have called the Seahawks family.  And while the list of players to hold down the blind side fort is rather long, the list of memorable left tackles in Seattle is not. It’s just one name – Walter Jones, and then everyone else. If we are giving credit to guys who performed admirably but were not game-changers you will tell your grandkids about, the list also includes Ron Essink, Ron Mattes, Ray Roberts, James Atkins, and most recently, Russell Okung and George Fant. This Sunday, that list will add former All-Pro Duane Brown, acquired in a trade with Houston earlier this week. Brown is not on the level of Jones (these days, who is?), but he is probably better than Okung (now with the Chargers) and definitely better right now than Fant may become some day when he is not on injured reserve.

This is how the new deal (after Jeremy Lane was scratched) shakes out for both sides –

Seattle gives up:
2018 third rounder

2019 second rounder

Seattle receives:

32-year-old LT Duane Brown, 10th season

Pro Bowl 2012-2014

All-Pro 2011-2012

Started 133 of 151 games

2018 5th rounder

CB Jeremy Lane (was involved in trade originally but failed physical)

I’m honestly surprised TE Jimmy Graham was not included in this deal. It would have made perfect sense for both teams, but for whatever reason, Seattle didn’t have to give up any key players or draft picks to get exactly what they needed to get their season back on track. Russell Wilson even re-worked his contract to make sure there was room for the team to absorb Brown’s contract. So the deal worked out, but the bigger question, is why did it work? Typically, if you wish upon a shooting star, it doesn’t mean the wish will just be granted because it’s what you needed to be better. But in this case, that’s almost exactly what happened. Seattle was granted their wish, and they didn’t even need to pay heavily for it.

There are exceptions to the rule, but traditionally speaking, high quality left tackles are not found beyond the first round of the draft, and even then, they usually go very early. Giving up one second and one third round pick in two different drafts doesn’t even equate to the value of a first rounder, so Houston isn’t getting market value for one of their best assets who also happens to be one of the best at the position and one with limited injury history to boot. Seattle absolutely got a steal here, while Houston gets something in exchange for a player they weren’t going to be able to convince to stay any way. Both teams won this trade, but Seattle took the biggest chunk of that victory.

Being a second half team under Pete Carroll, the division lead in hand (by tie-breaker), and looking like the number two in the conference behind Philadelphia; Brown’s arrival is great news for the Seahawks and bad news for any team hoping to see them continue to struggle. The Rams looked to be running away from them early on, but with a head to head win and momentum on their side, the keys are in Seattle’s hands and they can take this thing as far as they want. The defense hasn’t been as strong this year but a good portion of that can be attributed to a lack of balance on offense. With the offensive line capable of producing running lanes, things should start to look up in the time of possession battle, which should help the defense to do what they do best – making life difficult for opposing QB’s.

Keeping veteran cornerback Jeremy Lane will be key (if it stands), as the staple in Seattle has been their pass defense since 2012, and that has gone from one of the scariest pass defenses of all time in 2013, to where they are today – 16th in yards allowed, 7th in points allowed, and 6th in passing touchdowns allowed. Still good, but not good enough to make up for an average offense over the course of an entire season. They are holding opponents to an average of 18.9 points per game and scoring an average of 25, but how long do they expect that to hold up?  If they can get their running game on track and put more long and time consuming drives together, it will keep their defense fresh as well as put pressure on opposing teams to score quickly, which usually creates mistakes and those become turnovers. It’s a simple formula but one that Seattle has used to great success in the past.

This was the right deal and with no players moving to Houston, it was actually a great deal, as Seattle gets current value for their picks instead of potential down the road, which is something they just keep doing. Every Seattle fan should be thrilled they pulled it off, this is a team that was viewed as a mess as recently as two weeks ago, and now their opponents will have to view them as a dark horse team ready to make a charge. Last week’s wild win over Houston was a great season changing game, but getting a blind side blocker could make this a season to remember. Merry Christmas, Seattle. Football is going to be fun to watch again.

Slow Starts Are The Norm For 2017 Seattle Seahawks

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Slow Starts Are The Norm For 2017 Seattle Seahawks

By Julian Rogers

That won’t get it done against the NFL’s highest scoring offense in week 5

Slow start #4? No worries. The Seattle Seahawks limped to a 10–15 halftime deficit at home against the Indianapolis Colts, then exploded for 36 second-half points in an eventual route on Sunday night. Problem solved. Ship righted. Right?

Slow start #3? Some worries. The Seahawks managed only seven first-half points at the Tennessee Titans (week three) and ended up losing 33–27 in a game that wasn’t as close as the score indicated.

Slow start #2? Yes, worries. The Seahawks, in their second outing and first home game, managed only six first-half points against the (still) winless San Francisco 49ers. They amassed 12 points on four field goals to get their first win of the season.

Slow start #1? Serious worries. The Seahawks could only muster three first-half points in a week one loss (9–17) at Green Bay. They did not score their first offensive touchdown until the second quarter of week three at the Titans.

Getting better

At least the trend is going up (ish) for the Seattle Seahawks. After only three first-half points against the Packers, they got six points in week two, seven in week three and cracked double digits in week four. At that pace, they’ll get maybe 12 first-half points against the Los Angeles Rams.

Anyone feeling good about Seattle’s chances if this trend continues?

You might feel good about it, depending on whether or not the Seahawks can convince the Rams to start the game in the third quarter. Since that seems unlikely, the blue birds need to find a way to get their offensive engine jump-started earlier in the contest. Since the Sean McVay-led Rams of 2017 are averaging a league-best 35.5 points per game, the Seahawks must counter with nine points or more per quarter to keep pace.

This is the very definition of a tall task. In their 16 quarters of play, the 2017 Seahawks have scored nine or more points in a quarter three times; two of which were in Q3 and Q4 against the Colts. The 12s had better hope the latter half Seahawks are the new Seahawks for the rest of the season.

And they might be. There were definite signs of life as the Colts faded from competitiveness in the latter half of the game.

Tomorrow never knows

Time and again, we’ve learned that how a team plays in the first quarter of the season bears little resemblance to how they play in November, December and (hopefully) January. The Seahawks, by dint of their 2–2 record, combined with the 3–1 record of the NFC West Division-leading Rams, are essentially starting the season over, one-quarter of the way in.

The winner of this game will have early (for what it’s worth) control of the division. The Seahawks are right there, and have determined what works — and perhaps more significantly, what doesn’t work — on offense.

We’ve seen what the Seahawks are now: a sketchy passing attack for most of their 2017 possessions. Poor run-blocking that’s getting worse. Russell Wilson running for his life on almost every down. The Seahawks consistently move the ball when they spread defenses out and go up-tempo. The results say: Do more of that.

Despite the two-halvesness nature of the Seahawks’ offense, a quick examination of the team’s offensive statistics does reveal a remarkable symmetry in the Colts game. Three different receivers totaled more than 60 yards in receptions; none as much as 70. In total, eight different receivers caught passes, including four receivers, two running backs and two tight ends. Quarterback Russell Wilson is a master at running Darrell Bevell’s offense and remains willing and able to target any individual based on matchups and opportunities on any given play.

His trustiest target, No. 1 receiver Doug Baldwin, was not among the top three receivers in the Colts game, with only 35 receiving yards. No matter. Given favorable field position, thanks to a highly effective defensive performance, Wilson was able to find all of his receiving weapons when he needed to, despite tossing two interceptions (21/26, 295 yards, 2 passing TDs, 1 rushing TD, 2 INTs, 1 safety).

While the Seahawks have churned their way through running backs (as has become their recent custom) due to injury (Thomas Rawls, C.J. Prosise, Chris Carson) ineffectiveness (Eddie Lacy; all of the others, at times) and inexperience (J.D. McKissic), they may have just found the right combination against the Colts.

Now that Carson is out long-term with a nasty lower leg injury, Eddie Lacy looks to be the current workhorse back, with McKissic providing the occasional big-play spark. Lacy’s most recent stat line: (11 rushes for 52 yards) combined with McKissic’s (4 rushes, 38 yards and 1 reception for a 27-yard touchdown) are a more than solid combination.

They’ll need it to keep pace with the NFL’s second-leading running back (to rookie phenom Kareem Hunt), dual threat Todd Gurley (86 carries, 362 yards [4.2 YPC], 4 TDs and 3 receiving TDs).

What the Seahawks have known about Gurley since his rookie season of 2015 is that he is the whole deal for the Rams offense. So far in 2017, he’s the real deal — and a complement to the blossoming second-year quarterback Jared Goff’s suddenly potent passing attack.

Goff, whose trajectory has spiked upward, has been (I’ll say it) surprisingly aided by the addition of two former Buffalo Bills receivers, Sammy Watkins and Robert Woods, and Eastern Washington rookie Cooper Kupp. Not only are the Rams the highest scoring offense, they also own the fifth-ranked passing offense and the 15th-ranked rushing offense. The Seahawks, after the second-half outpouring against the Colts, are 13th and 11th, respectively.

The biggest difference: In Los Angeles, the sexy yards come from Gurley. In Seattle, they come from Wilson.

Good day sunshine

It’s a new day in the NFC West with the Los Angeles Rams leading the division with the league’s highest flying offense. It’s a new opportunity for the Seahawks, who have managed to stay within a game of the Rams while sorting through their offensive slow starts and injury woes. Could this week five matchup be a defining moment in not only the 2017 season, but the course of both franchises going forward?

Regardless of records, recent history tells us that the Seahawks have a hard time against the Rams, whether in Seattle, Los Angeles or St. Louis. The Seahawks are 2–4 against the Rams since the 2014 season. The Seahawks were a playoff team in those years; the Rams were also-rans.

Whoever triumphs on Sunday will own the division now that the preliminary month has concluded. This is no “must win,” but it will be a determinant win — for one franchise.

Seahawks: Defense doesn't win games -- balance does

Seahawks: Defense doesn't win games -- balance does

The old cliche is that defense wins football games.

I would argue with that. I think balance wins football games. Take the Seattle Seahawks. Please, before their fans die of boredom.

The Seahawks have had a terrific defense for years. They should, because they seem to spend all their salary cap room on defenders. Problem is, no matter how well your defense plays, you still need a few points to win games.

Balance between offense and defense is always the key in any sport. If your offense is terrific, your defense doesn't need to be quite as good. In Seattle's case, the defense is very good. But even if the defense pitches a shutout, Seattle can't win without a few points. The Trail Blazers have been walking this fine line for a few years now. Yes, their defense isn't very good, but when their offense is clicking, the defense is often good enough.

Seattle used to pride itself on a power running game that played into the defensive strengths. Quarterback Russell Wilson was good enough getting the ball up the field to solid receivers that the Seahawks won a Super Bowl (and, of course, should have won two of them.) But the trade of Max Unger began the undoing of the offensive line and Seattle hasn't been the same since.

Wilson now has become the offense. And I'm not talking about his passing, either. Wilson has become the running game all by himself. He rode to the rescue Sunday against the 49ers with his fourth-quarter scrambles and finally got his team into the end zone for its first touchdown of the season.

I can't believe anybody in Seattle, including Pete Carroll, believes that's a sustainable way to win football games. At 5-11 and about 215, I don't think Wilson can handle the load. He's not going to get through the season if he has to continue to be the go-to ground gainer on this team. It just won't work. Obviously.

Somehow -- and maybe it's going to take trading a great defensive player for a great offensive player at some point -- the Seahawks have to regain their balance.

 

Week 1: Seahawks vs. Packers - Where each team is weak

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Week 1: Seahawks vs. Packers - Where each team is weak

BY 

Tackling running backs and running over tackles

If you’ve ever wondered which circumstance is worse for your football team — no viable offensive tackles or no viable running game — the definitive answer will reveal itself on Sept. 10, 2017 at Lambeau Field in Green Bay. These two potentially fatal weaknesses will be on full display when the Green Bay Packers host the Seattle Seahawks in NFL regular season week one.

The answer to this question may well decide the game. To make it interesting, the two old foes have split this weakness evenly with the Seahawks fielding a duct-taped lineup of underwhelming tackles and the Packers offering a doesn’t-matter-could-be-anyone lineup of ball carriers. Both opposing defenses are licking their chops at the prospect of taking full advantage of these glaring weaknesses.

On the left

George Fant was considered to be a rising talent at the long-suffering left tackle slot this season for the Seahawks. Whether or not it was actually true is now a moot point as the Fant experiment ended early in the Seahawks’ preseason week two exhibition against the Minnesota Vikings. Fant tore his ACL in an unfortunate friendly fire collision and is now lost for the season. Enter Rees Odhiambo, who took over for Fant for the rest of the game. As of now, the 2016 third-round pick appears to be the putative leader at that spot, where he had practiced some while also splitting time at guard (as the clear backup to newcomer Luke Joeckel).

When the answer to “who’s our left tackle?” is “next man up,” shortly on the heels of “let’s try this guy who never played tackle in college,” you know it’s less than ideal. Odhiambo will have to fend off the Seahawks’ two new panic Monday acquisitions, Matt Tobin, who was acquired in a trade with the Philadelphia Eagles on Monday and street free agent Tyrus Thompson. Joeckel is also a possibility, but the Seahawks would prefer he stay at guard.

Offensive line coach Tom Cable was his usual effusive self in his assessment of the blue birds’ chances at fielding a respectable left tackle, “We have choices.” Coincidentally, Russell Wilson will also have choices: sprint wide left or wide right on every drop-back.

On the right

At the other end, the news may not be much better. Last year’s first-round selection, Germain Ifedi, has been moved from 2016’s position (guard) to right tackle. The job is his to lose and he may just do it. In his first 2017 preseason action, Ifedi allowed three pressures in 13 snaps. In week two, my impression of Ifedi was that he was doing an effective impression of a turnstile. Some say he improved over preseason week one, but I still counted two quarterback hits in about one half of action.

Theoretically pushing Ifedi at right tackle is 2017 second-round pick, Ethan Pocic. Pocic is also splitting time at guard (like Ifedi did in his rookie season) but he is built like a tackle (6’6”, 309 lbs.) and will ultimately sink or swim at the outside position. Against lesser competitors than Ifedi has had to go against so far in his two preseason games, Pocic appears to have a long way to go. He comically missed a second-level block against the Los Angeles Chargers’ backups in preseason week one. He got called for a hold in week two against the Vikings backups.

I think Russell Wilson is in trouble.

No rush

Also in trouble, the Green Bay Packers’ rushing game. Despite anointing surprise 2016 lead rusher Ty Montgomery as the starter and then drafting three rookie running backs in April, the Packers have yet to demonstrate any kind of impact from the position thus far into the preseason. Nobody is making the Packers forget Eddie Lacy.

Montgomery, the third-year converted wide receiver, is making his way through his first NFL preseason as a running back and has yet to demonstrate any of the sizzle that saw him gain 457 yards on 77 carries (5.9 YPC) in a partial 2016 campaign. To date, he’s had a total of three carries for zero yards, a lost fumble and a lower leg injury that held him out of the week two preseason contest in Washington D.C.

In his stead have been a litany of rookie running backs (three draftees, two free agents) who have yet to impress. Combined, the backs have received 31 carries for 74 yards, averaging a scant 2.38 yards per carry. It’s as if George Fant is carrying the ball for the Packers. Post-ACL injury.

The Packers’ running back culprits that will line up against the Seahawks in week one will consist of Montgomery and probably no more than two of the following five rookies: Jamaal Williams, BYU (round 4), Aaron Jones, UTEP (round 5), Devante Mays, Utah State (round 7), Kalif Phillips, Charlotte (FA) and William Stanback Virginia Union (FA) one or two fullbacks (Aaron Ripkowski, Joe Kerridge) who do not do anything other than pass protect and lead block.

Who of those two rookies will make it? Impossible to tell at this point and even more importantly—it hardly makes a difference. None have shown any ability to get more than what has been blocked for them. There is no rookie-vintage Thomas Rawls in the group.

The good news / bad news for Green Bay is that Aaron Rodgers and his deep, talented receiver corps remains the entirety of the Packers’ offense. They even imported two new free agent tight ends (Martellus Bennett, Lance Kendricks) to diversify the pass dispersals. The Packers will once again rely upon an aerial attack to move the ball and score. It’s worked in the past. It’s just never been the only option before. The Packers running backs will likely be judged more on their ability to pass protect and know assignments more than their rushing ability.

There will be two Achilles’ heels ready to snap in week one. The Seahawks’ and the Packers’ defenses could not be more pleased.

The Seahawks lost at Green Bay 10–38 in the last meeting between these two teams in 2016 week 14. Both teams were eliminated from the playoffs by the NFC Champion Atlanta Falcons.

Scouting the Seattle Seahawks’ week 1 opponent

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Scouting the Seattle Seahawks’ week 1 opponent

BY 

The Green Bay Packers will host the Seattle Seahawks week one at Lambeau Field. Here’s an early look at the blue birds’ first regular season opponent.

The Packers went defense early and often in the 2017 NFL Draft. General Manager Ted Thompson made a statement by going cornerback, safety, defensive tackle and linebacker with the Packers’ first four picks. That statement: “We need help.”

The impact of Ted’s statement moves will have to wait. Despite the Packers’ need to bolster the NFL’s 22nd-ranked defense from last year, the Packers will line up week one at home against the Seattle Seahawks (Sunday, Sept. 10) with a full complement of holdovers on the defensive side of the ball.

What they won’t have are a number of rookie contributors. The Packers’ prize rookies will be mostly watching the proceedings.

Here is how the Packers’ four top draft picks are faring thus far, with a look at their chances of playing against the Seattle Seahawks in week one.

Kevin King, CB (Washington, Rd 2, № 33 overall)

In a word: Rough. It’s been a tough start for the Packers’ first draft pick, Seattle’s Kevin King. Right now, the word is “usual growing pains” for a raw player (only 1.5 seasons at cornerback at the University of Washington) trying to find a place at what is probably the league’s toughest position to master, due to a bevy of supreme athletes at wide receiver and a stacked-against-the-defense rule book.

That said, King has struggled but managed to keep his head up despite suffering a minor shoulder injury and working through some rough practice reps that saw him get scorched with frequency by quarterback Aaron Rodgers and his deep receivers corps. The good news: He’s not demoralized. Yet.

His only live preseason action saw more of the same. King was up and down against the Philadelphia Eagles in Green Bay on August 10, showing a strong willingness to tackle. King also got burned for a few long gains, including a 38-yard touchdown after a failed tackle attempt.

Early season outlook: In reality, the Packers are sure to line up with veteran safeties Morgan Burnett, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (first-time Pro Bowler) and a combination of three veteran cornerbacks for their standard nickel package that will include returnee Davon House (past two seasons in Jacksonville) and recent high draft picks Quinten Rollins and Damarious Randall.

As the Packers’ top draft pick, King’s roster spot is assured early on, but he will be challenged to get any playing time even in the dime package, where he will have to beat out last year’s №1 cornerback (due to a spate of injuries) LaDarius Gunter and athletic second-year prospect Josh Hawkins. Veteran Demetri Goodson can also not be counted out.

Ultimately, King provides the type of body (6′ 3″, good speed and smooth athleticism) that other Packers defensive backs do not have. He will be counted on when the Packers decide to play match up ball, but not early on.

Josh Jones, S (NC State, Rd 2, № 61 overall)

In contrast to King, Jones is having a fine start to his young career. He is easily the brightest spot among the Packers’ rookie defenders. Or at least he was until he suffered a right ankle injury in practice on Tuesday, Aug. 15. His current availability is unknown, but he was carted off the Packers’ practice field for treatment.

The Packers would be well-advised to consider encasing Jones in bubble wrap during the preseason, given the gimpy shoulder of the guy drafted before him and his two fellow defensive draftees below, both of whom are out of action for multiple weeks.

The anecdotal reviews for Jones are good:

  • “Based on practice, it sure looks like Jones wants to hit. … He closes fast.” (Eric Baranczyk & Pete Dougherty, USA TODAY NETWORK)
  • “Josh Jones — a physical defensive back with an aggressive, violent play style … the early star of the Green Bay Packers’ … organized team activities. (Zach Kruse, Packers Wire)
  • “ The hard-hitting rookie drafted in the second round has left a strong impression so far in training camp, showing the potential to contribute …” (AP / Fox Sports)

Early season outlook: At 6′ 2″, 220 lbs., Jones is ideally suited for the in-vogue hybrid safety / inside linebacker several teams are deploying these days. Count Green Bay in that group. They call it their Nitro package. Unfortunately for Jones, starting safety Morgan Burnett and 2016 enforcer, second-year safety Kentrell Brice, are taking a lot of the reps as the Nitro linebacker as well. Since we already know who the Packers’ starting nickel group will be and the high likelihood that Brice will be next in line, Jones will almost certainly be relegated to special sub packages in the early season once recovered from his current ankle injury.

Montravius Adams, DT (Auburn, Rd 3, № 93 overall)

Adams, the former Auburn Tiger, looked to be a perfect fit for the drafters and draftee. Unfortunately, he didn’t make it through his first training camp practice uninjured. Adams felt pain in his foot during the first practice of training camp on July 27, played through it the next day and has been inactive since. He underwent surgery in early August, having a screw inserted in the long bone on the outside of the foot that connects to the little toe.

Early season outlook: At this stage, Adams looks to be unavailable for even week one duty. With virtually no training camp reps in his rookie season, Adams will have to be worked in slowly to get acclimated to game shape and moreover, acclimated to real NFL action. At least he got mini-camp reps, unlike Vince Biegel. The Packers will be fortunate to get any contributions of substance from Adams by mid-season.

Vince Biegel, OLB (Wisconsin, Rd 4, № 108)

Fourth-round selection outside linebacker Vince Biegel, was the first of the Packers rookies to go down. He remains out of action with a foot injury suffered on the second day of rookie orientation in early spring. He has not taken a padded rep since the Packers drafted him in the fourth round. He remains on the PUP list now nearly two weeks into training camp.

Early season outlook: While Biegel claims that his foot injury is “progressing well,” he refuses to put a return date on it. Which means, “not soon.” Which means the Packers are inching close to potentially a lost season for the Wisconsin product.

Given the high importance of early training camp reps where competition is prioritized over game preparation, Biegel will be hard-pressed to regain any stature among the Packers linebackers. His opportunities to contribute this season shrink every day he remains out.

Kick off for the Seahawks at the Packers is at 1:25 p.m. Pacific on Sunday, Sept. 10.

Bats heat up late: Hops hold off AquaSox in 5-4 win

Bats heat up late: Hops hold off AquaSox in 5-4 win

It was a pitcher’s duel turned shootout in the Hops 5-4 win over the Everett AquaSox on super hero night at Ron Tonkin Field Friday night.

In their second televised game of the season on CSN, a pitchers duel broke through the first five innings. On the hill for the Hops was Connor Grey, who came into Friday night’s game 1-2 with an 8.05 ERA. Retiring 15 of his first 17 batters, Grey registered 7 scoreless innings, allowing just three hits, striking out 5. His ERA dropped nearly three whole runs. 

With both Grey and Inman pitching lights out for their respective teams, the Hops turned to small ball in the bottom of the 6th inning. After Tra Holmes singled with one out, then subsequently stole second base, LF Billy Endris laid a bunt down the third base line. Corralled by pitcher Inman, his throw to first was off the mark, sailing into right field, bringing home Holmes. Heading to second base, Endris scored after a Bryan Araiza single to left. Araiza got caught rounding first, though Endris had already touched home, making the score 2-0. 

The AquaSox went to their bullpen and Ted Hammond in the bottom of the 7th, but the Hops bats were all warmed up. After a walk and a single from Eudy Ramos and Pavin Smith, Dalton Varsho stepped to the plate with one out and lined a double down the left field line, bringing in both runners, making it 4-0. Hillsboro tacked on another run in the 7th after a hard ground ball to short that forced Johnny Adams to force the out at first. 

Everett did not go away quietly, however. In the top of the 8th, after Grey’s lights out performance, righty Rafael Pujols, who had not given up a run this season, was shelled for 3 earned runs off 0.0 innings pitched. Anfernee Benitez didn’t fare much better.  He surrenders one run in 0.2 innings, including two runs that were credited to Pujols. In a game that saw little offense through the first 5 innings, 9 runs were scored in two-and-a-half innings on 13 hits.  

The Hops improved to 8-8 on the season, which is good enough for third place in the southern division of the Northwest Conference. 

Connor Grey receives the win. He improves to 2-2 on the season. Inman, who allowed one run on four hits in six innings, is credited with the loss.

Diamondbacks first round pick (7th overall) Pavin Smith, who entered Friday night’s game 6 for 21 (.286), went 2 for 4 and a run scored. 

Hillsboro and Everett’s series continues Saturday at 5pm at Ron Tonkin Field with Michael Suarez projected to start for the AquaSox opposite Riley Smith for the Hops.