Seattle Seahawks

Seahawks, Dolphins Set For Opener: Week 1 Preview

Seahawks, Dolphins Set For Opener: Week 1 Preview

It was over before it began.

That’s the reality for the Seattle Seahawks as they reflect back to last season’s chastening playoff defeat to the Carolina Panthers.

“We’re not really satisfied with how that game went and we don’t want to have a season end like that again,” linebacker Bobby Wagner told the MMQB this summer. “We didn’t start playing our style of defense until the second quarter.”

Even in finding their style, Seattle’s 31-24 loss – which was made respectable only by a 24-0 surge to end the game - capped what was a trying year from the get-go. A perplexing off-season trade that sent Max Unger to New Orleans for Jimmy Graham; a faltering 2-4 start; an offense that never got its footing.

From the outset, Seattle’s magical two-year run, which ended in two Super Bowl appearances, was doomed.

The only thing left to do is turn the page.

On Sunday, 238 days after Cam Newton Dabbed all over their dreams, the Seahawks get to begin anew. The Miami Dolphins (6-10 in 2015) are challenge number one; but, for all intents and purposes, it doesn’t matter as much who’s on the other sideline for this Seahawks team. Not yet, at least. Because for all the certainties – the Legion of Boom; the linebackers; Russell Wilson and his emerging crop of receivers – it’s the unknowns that will determine just how far this team can go.

Can an offensive line that’s scattered with inexperience and performance questions come together? Can Christine Michael and Thomas Rawls come close to duplicating the impact of Marshawn Lynch? Can Frank Clark step in for Bruce Irvin and be a force on the defensive line?

These answers will begin to play out on Sunday, but we won’t have a full grasp of them for a few weeks.

Miami may not present the most menacing of challenges, but their strength – a mayhem-wreaking defensive line – coincides perfectly against Seattle’s biggest weakness: their young and mostly unproven offensive line.

When the Seahawks released their Week 1 depth chart on Tuesday, the line – which includes rookie Germain Ifedi – comes with a combined nine years of experience, led mostly by 5th-year left tackle Bradley Sowell.

The Dolphins counter-punch? Cameron Wake, Ndamukong Suh and Mario Williams.

Wake and Suh, who combined for 13 sacks last season, provide a 1-2 punch that could disrupt all of the Seahawks’ plans. Despite his struggles to fit into the culture during the 2015 season - his first with Miami - Suh is still a top-tier defensive tackle.

It will be a baptism by fire for the line, which will be cause for concern early, but could pay off exponentially. Pete Carroll and his staff are putting a lot on the shoulders of this young group, knowing full well the rewards that may come down the road.

If they can hold up – giving Russell Wilson enough time, and opening up some holes for Michael and Rawls – Seattle will be 1-0.

If Suh, Wake and Co. blow it up, and Seattle’s offense can’t run the ball, putting the whole game on the shoulders of Wilson, things will get dicey.

 

Prediction: Seattle 24, Miami 21. As to be expected, look for a slow start offensively for the Seahawks. There’s no way around it – the offensive line is going to have its growing pains, and they’re breaking in two new running backs. But with every passing series, things will begin to mesh together. You simply cannot replicate live, in-game snaps during practice, so Sunday will be their first test.

But there’s too much skill on the outside, and Wilson is in charge at QB. Though it hasn’t really been mentioned yet, the Seahawks defense is still the Seahawks defense. They’ve had to carry the team before; to start the season, they’ll be called upon again.

 

Fantasy Player to Watch: Odds are that Wilson will have precious little time to get the ball to his receivers with the Miami defensive line barring down. There’s a good chance we’ll see lots of quick hitches, out patterns and slants – which could mean a huge day for Tyler Lockett. No one on Seattle’s roster has a running style as elusive and ethereal as that of Lockett. He excels in weaving through tight spaces, and that’s all that can be expected on Sunday. Look for Lockett to have a big game as he continues his rise from special teams star to an all-around threat.

 

What's different about the Seahawks '18 off-season?

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What's different about the Seahawks '18 off-season?

BY 

You can feel it, right? Is it the end of an era? The answer is “yes.” And “no.” There are still some foundational elements still in place on the Seattle Seahawks’ 2018 offseason roster: Russell Wilson, Bobby Wagner, Doug Baldwin…. The rest? Well, change is coming. Good and maybe not-so-good.

Let’s stipulate right now that the usual, top-down changes from management will take place: Rosters will turn over through executive feats of executiveness. Rosters will further churn due to player decisions to move on or possibly retire (forced or unforced). Others are just going to wash out of the league.

Not being defensive

And then there’s the 2018 Seahawks.

From the above categories, the Seahawks will almost certainly say goodbye to cornerback Richard Shermansafety Kam Chancellor, defensive end Cliff Avril and, according to Michael Bennett, defensive end Michael Bennett. Subtract four top-level starters from the Seahawks (or anyone’s defense in the NFL) and you have a serious makeover underway.

Add in a possible fifth defection in safety Earl Thomas, who openly petitioned the Dallas Cowboys to “come get me” if they can, and you have full on tumult. Thomas has one year remaining on his five-year, $44.725M deal at $8.5M. In the NFL, this means “time to negotiate a long-term deal or time to deal the player,” particularly if said player is agitating to join another team and/or threatening (or is it “musing” about) retirement. Bet on the latter circumstance.

It’s offseason makeover time in Seattle. And that’s just the defense. It’s also just the known departees. There will be more.

And before we flip over to the offense, do you think the Seahawks might be in the market for a new kicker, as well? I’ll step out on that shaky limb and say, “Yup.” I hate to kick a man when he’s down, so in an act of benevolence I’ll hire Blair Walsh to kick himself.

No offense, but …

On the offensive side of the ball, you can count on one hand the sure-fire keepers: Wilson, Baldwin, uh …, hmmm. Tyler Lockett (one year left on his rookie deal)? Paul Richardson finally emerged … just in time to be a free agent. Ditto for much-hyped tight end Jimmy Graham, who put up his best season as a Seahawk just in time to get paid on the free agent market. Speculation is rampant that he will be elsewhere next season, as the Seahawks deal with the inevitable, but unenviable position of grappling with a highly-paid (at the top) roster of aging / oft-injured veterans who may be exiting and thus accelerating dead money onto the salary cap.

On the offensive line, most of the remaining starters look OK right now simply because they don’t have a game to play on Sunday and thus cannot put Russell Wilson in clear and present danger. There are some draft pedigrees to admire among this group. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and all that. (This is how I imagine John Schneider and Pete Carroll pump themselves up in the mirror before heading off to their roster meetings.)

And then they remember 2017.

Justin Britt looks good primarily because he’s not any of Rees Odhiambo, Ethan Pocic, Luke Joeckel, Germain Ifedi or Oday Aboushi. Duane Brown was a mid-season improvement over his predecessors, but is rapidly aging out (32) of the left tackle position. There are few, if any, sure-fire answers on the offensive line for 2018 and beyond. Put the over/under at three new offensive starters on opening day. I’ll take the over.

The running backs group are henceforth known as the Itty Bitty Impact Committee. Not only is it painful to be a Seahawks running back, it’s painful to watch the Seahawks running backs continuously get dinged up by opponents greeting them in the backfield, play after play. None of the current crop of Eddie Lacy, C.J. Prosise, Thomas Rawls, Chris Carson and Tre Madden could stay healthy or effective. Supposed saviors Lacy and Rawls were often healthy scratches on 2017 game days.

The season concluded with the stalwart Mike Davis (brought up from the practice squad mid-season) and the occasionally electrifying J.D. McKissic manning the position in a supporting role to the Seahawks’ true leading rusher: Russell Wilson.

The Seahawks may have something in McKissic. However, it would be cruel to try to make the former receiver an every-down rushing threat at 5’ 10” and 195 lbs. Davis proved capable at times and can get some hard yards. Lord knows the yards are often hard in the Seahawks’ backfield. But he proved to be not immune to getting dinged as any human would in that environment.

There is no Superman in the running backs room, nor in the offensive line rooms in Seattle (OK — Renton). Much work remains to be done this offseason. A running back will surely be drafted high in April. Peace be upon him.

Who?

But who’s going to do all the reshuffling in Seattle? For the first time, rumors abound that 66-year-old head coach Pete Carroll might be ready to hang up his clipboard. Given the major sea change underway on both sides of the ball … could you blame him? But he says he isn’t going anywhere. Take that for what you may. He may be sincere or not, but he does have to say it regardless of whether he means it or not.

But wait, there’s more. Even general manager John Schneider is no lock to return — thanks, in part, to the current vacancy for the much-coveted general manager position in Green Bay, Schneider’s home state. Schneider used to have an out clause in his contract that allowed him to move back to Green Bay should the GM position become open. He gave that clause away in his most recent contract, but let’s face it: This is his one and only shot to get his dream job.

Think discussions aren’t being held on this topic? It’s the offseason in Seattle. Everyone’s being discussed.

Apart from Wilson, Wagner, Baldwin and a handful of others, who might we still recognize wearing college navy, action green and wolf grey on the Seahawks sideline in week one of 2018? This one offseason is not like the others.

The hope is in the hunt: Seahawks' playoff picture

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The hope is in the hunt: Seahawks' playoff picture

The Seattle Seahawks (9-6) remain in the playoff hunt. On this holiday weekend, the Seahawks traveled south to face the Dallas Cowboys and the return of rookie running back sensation Ezekiel Elliott. What was gearing up to be a ground game disaster for the Seahawks defense, Elliott was held to under 100 yards rushing. While the Seahawks offense continued to struggle, the defense stepped up giving up no touchdowns, four field goals, and snatching a pick-six.

Richard Sherman, the Seahawks' star corner who is out for the year due to an achilles injury suffered back in November, called out all the fans who didn't believe the team would get this far. 

While some would call this season "disappointing" after not claiming a division title and a 9-6 record, the Seahawks are taking a hit without Sherman and star safety Kam Chancellor in the secondary. But depsite the injuries, the records, the bad losses, and no title, their playoff hopes remain alive.

Seattle can clinch a wild-card berth this upcoming weekend with a victory over the Arizona Cardinals (7-8) and an Atlanta Falcons (9-6) loss to the Carolina Panthers (11-4).

2017 Seattle Seahawks Are A Team In Transition

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2017 Seattle Seahawks Are A Team In Transition

BY JULIAN ROGERS

The LOB may very well be DOA — but they’re not the only ones

Maybe we saw the end. Maybe that was it. There sure wasn’t much fight in the Seattle Seahawks last Sunday with the NFC West on the line (until after the game, that is). Don Meredith, remind us again how that goes?

“They say all good things must end …”

Turn out the lights, the party’s over

The Seahawks’ Legion of Boom is certainly an era of the past. Richard Sherman is done for the year and almost certainly won’t return due to age, injury & cost. Ditto for safety Kam Chancellor. Figure one more year for safety Earl Thomas (one year remaining on his five-year, $44.725M deal at $8.5M), and Thomas will likely move on to another team if he doesn’t retire. Thomas is not immune to the injury bug that has plagued his mates in the defensive backfield.

Other likely departures: Cliff Avril, Michael Bennett … does that sound like enough defensive turnover?  But fear not, this is not another post mortem on the Seahawks’ golden era. In fact, this is about the good company the blue birds are now in when it comes to trying to regain their playoff luster. Because misery (or mediocrity) enjoys company.

Arizona Cardinals

Sometimes it only takes one injury to derail a season. The Arizona Cardinals aren’t in that category, however, although they did lose their top offensive threat in do-everything running back David Johnson to a week one injury. Of the seven running backs the Cardinals have had to employ this season running the ball, none could muster as much as four yards per carry, except for Elijhaa Penny, who squeaked out 4.1 YPC on 15 carries. No depth beyond Johnson, in other words.

In reality, their problems were more manifest than just one dislocated wrist. The aging Carson Palmer hit the wall early in 2017, playing sub-.500 ball (3–4) and tossing seven interceptions against nine touchdowns. His replacements, Blaine Gabbert (2–3) and Drew Stanton (1–1) similarly underwhelmed. All-world Larry Fitzgerald is nearing the end, but his pedestrian 2017 numbers can surely be blamed on the quarterback play. The question remains: What would he want to stick around for? The Cardinals are rebuilding a mediocre offense. The defense is clearly ahead of the Seahawks’ at this stage, but are allowing 24.1 points per game in 2017 — an average the rebuilt offense of the 2018 Cards will be hard-pressed to beat.

Green Bay Packers

Sometimes it only takes one injury to derail a season. With Green Bay, it was over when Minnesota Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr took Aaron Rodgers to the ground on Oct. 15, breaking his collarbone. The Packers are officially eliminated from the playoffs as of week 15 and have subsequently sent Rodgers back to injured reserve to give him more time to recover.

It did not help the Packers that they also had to place three of their top four tackles on injured reserve (one returned late in the year) and suffered a host of other injuries that decimated their cornerbacks and outside rusher positions. What the run of injuries revealed, of course, is that the Packers’ defense is far from being a contender without serious upgrades in 2018 (23.8 ppg allowed). Given the history of Packers General Manager Ted Thompson, those additions will come via the draft, as opposed to free agency, so the Packers are looking at another youthful rebuild that may take more time away from Rodgers’ remaining peak years. The Vikings and Detroit Lions have more reason for optimism in 2018 and going forward in the NFC North.

New York Giants

Sometimes, all it takes is one train wreck to derail a season. In the case of the 2017 Giants, they ran off the rails early and often, costing second-year head coach Ben MacAdoo his job. Their 10-loss (and counting) season came after a season that saw the Giants capture an NFC Wild Card berth in MacAdoo’s first year at the helm with an 11–5 record.

Eli Manning was benched, then reinstated. His future with the franchise is in doubt going forward, as are the fortunes of one of the league’s richest and most venerated franchises. Injuries wiped out the Giants’ wide receiver corps early in the season and they could never recover. It’s difficult to know what they have beyond Odell Beckham, Jr. at this stage.

The Giants’ defense is ranked 32nd in the NFL. The offense is ranked 24th. It’s not good and unlikely to suddenly get good by next season, no matter who is holding the coach’s clipboard.

Denver Broncos

Winners of the AFC West in 2015 with a 12–4 record and just missing out on the playoffs last year with a 9–7 record, the needle is pointing decidedly down for the current and future Broncos. The quarterback situation was a somewhat predictable mish-mash that has entertained (using that term very loosely) three different starters in Trevor Siemian (5–5), Brock Osweiler (0–3) and Paxton Lynch (0–1) in an ongoing output of sub-mediocre quarterback play. Only Osweiler has managed to amass more touchdowns than interceptions (5–4).

The bigger surprise is the fall-off of the formerly fierce defense. The Broncos fell well short of expectations on this side of the ball in 2017, having been the NFL’s second stingiest defense a year before (second only to the Seahawks of yesteryear). The 2016 Broncos allowed a stellar 18.6 points per game. This year’s unit is allowing 23.4 points per game (ranked 20th).

With no quarterback solution, a defense that hemorrhages points, a 14th-ranked rushing offense (that needs young backups) and a 21st-ranked passing offense, a return to the playoffs next year looks unlikely. It looks like mediocrity for the foreseeable future for second-year head coach Vance Joseph.

Cincinnati Bengals

New regime, incoming. The formerly routine playoff entrants fell back to also-ran-land in 2017 and 2016. One of the longest tenured head coaches, Marvin Lewis, decided / was nudged into making a career change and the hunt for a new head coach has commenced.

The quarterback situation is either totally in hand or totally in flux, depending on whom you believe. The reliable-ish, if unsexy, Andy Dalton is signed through 2020, but the still developing and intriguing A.J. McCarron has a year left on his deal. The new regime needs to decide on who their guy is going to be and then live with it, because the loser of this derby will be elsewhere.

Can either be a savior? The winner will need to be. Dalton was one of the top field generals when he had a credible complement to A.J. Green. The past two seasons, which saw the departures of Mohamed Sanu (Atlanta Falcons) and Marvin Jones (Lions), have left defenses able to focus on Green. Not good for Dalton, whose QB rating went from a high of 106.2 in 2015 to a more pedestrian, (slightly below his career average) 87.0 in 2017. Has the 30-year-old peaked? Will a new regime help, hurt or send him on his way?

The defense is mediocre (21.8 points per game allowed) in 2017. But they do get to play the Cleveland Browns and the faltering Baltimore Ravens four times a year. They’ve allowed 90 points in their past three games, so they may be tailing off. Whoever is leading the Bengals in 2018 will want to focus on the 32nd-ranked rushing offense first.

Join the crowd

So the Seahawks are looking at an offseason of change. As this season winds down in almost certainly a playoff-less year, the issues piling up for the blue birds include rebuilding the once-vaunted defense, still hunting for a credible running game (blockers and backs, please apply here), and probably investing in a new kicker.

The Seahawks do have the all-world Russell Wilson on offense and a dominant Bobby Wagner as centerpieces. Jimmy Graham had his best season as a Seahawk — by far — just in time to be a free agent next year. He’s going to get paid. Will it be in Seattle? No. 1 receiver Doug Baldwin is signed through 2020.

Things could be worse. You could be the teams noted above, or the no-hopers, like the Browns, Chicago Bears, Tampa Bay Buccaneers or Indianapolis Colts. The Seahawks aren’t those teams. But what they are is a team in transition.

Will The Seattle Seahawks Pass The Torch On Sunday?

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Will The Seattle Seahawks Pass The Torch On Sunday?

BY: JULIAN ROGERS

This is the game. There is no larger match up looming on the 8–5 Seattle Seahawks’ season. Sunday, Dec. 17 at 1:05 p.m. (CenturyLink Field), the Seahawks will host the 9–4 NFC West-leading Los Angeles Rams.

The Seahawks, division winners of four of the last seven seasons, find themselves one game behind the Sean McVay-led Rams in the NFC West standings for the first time in, well, forever*. The Seahawks have never been looking up at the Rams in mid-December in the entire Pete Carroll era. So this is new. The edge of tomorrow.

Too dramatic? Hardly. In fact, the Seahawks defensively passed the torch already this season — exactly where and when can be debated — but what cannot be debated is that they came up short compared to their defensive counterparts in the Jacksonville Jaguars last Sunday as they got pushed around by the upstart Jags. And lost their poise in the process. To wit:

Defensive bullies no more, the Seahawks are now forced to rely upon the fourth-quarter magic of Russell Wilsonand the offense. And yes, Wilson was called upon and delivered again in the fourth quarter last Sunday, with 14 points via two bombs to Paul Richardson and Tyler Lockett in the last stanza, to losing effect.

The Seahawks could merely slow the second-half Jaguars, when they needed a stop. A disastrous, 21-points-allowed third quarter was the blue birds’ undoing.

Where are they?

The latest practice reports are more grim news, on top of the already well-known defensive personnel shortages: Linebackers Bobby Wagner (hamstring) and K.J. Wright (concussion) did not practice Thursday and are uncertain for Sunday’s game against the Rams. To compensate, the Seahawks added practice squadder Paul Dawson to the linebackers group.

Should Wagner’s and Wright’s absences linger, the defensive talent lost this season (Cliff Avril, Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor, Dion Jordan, Nazair Jones, among others) coulda woulda shoulda been a stout defense. A Seahawkian defense.

As of now, it’s a patchwork affair making the Seahawks’ offensive line a model of continuity by comparison.

This is not the look you want when the division leaders come to town with a score to settle. To contrast, the Rams are getting some key players healthy just in time for meeting the Seahawks at the Clink. McVay said that wide receiver Robert Woods and outside linebacker Connor Barwin are expected back in the lineup after missing time recently, and tackles Andrew Whitworth and Rob Havenstein are expected to return after they had to leave last Sunday’s game against the Eagles.

This Sunday, it’s not “just a game.” Might as well call this one the crown game, here in week 15. This one is for the NFC West — and given the defensive turnover the Seahawks will endure in the offseason — maybe for the next few seasons to come.

But the Seahawks can win

Indeed, they can. The outlook could be quite rosy: Complete season sweep of Rams on Sunday, and they reclaim first place in NFC West with prospect of entering playoffs with the NFC’s best healthy quarterback. Lose, and the division is all-but lost and the Seahawks’ Wild Card prospects more grim than ever with tiebreaker disadvantages from several opponents.

This is the game.

* (Actually, the Seahawks were behind the Rams in the 2010 season up until the final game, when the Seahawks tied the Rams at 7–9 with a week 17 victory and took the NFL’s lamest division with a losing record.)

Weekend wrap: Seahawks lose their marbles -- but haven't we all?

Weekend wrap: Seahawks lose their marbles -- but haven't we all?

WEEKEND WRAP-UP -- A summary of what I had my eye on for the last couple of days.

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

  • ARMY-NAVY FOOTBALL : Fun game. Love seeing those kids caring so much about who they are and what they're doing. And what they're doing is preparing to protect us for a good portion of their lives.
  • YANKEES MAKE TRADE FOR GIANCARLO STANTON: Derek Jeter sent his former team a very nice Christmas present. Obvious bottom line to that deal was the group Jeter represents did not have enough money to buy and operate the Miami Marlins. When you have to come in and practically give away your best player and one of the biggest gate attractions in baseball -- along with laying off some very long-tenured people in the front office -- you probably shouldn't have made the purchase in the first place. And oh yes -- I am NOT one of those people who think baseball's better when the Yankees are great again. Just the opposite for me. I grew up watching them dominate the game and am still sick of it.
  • THE SEAHAWKS LOST A GAME SUNDAY -- AND THEN LOST THEIR MARBLES: Michael Bennett deserves a suspension for seemingly trying to hurt another player. And, confidential to pro players, I don't care if fans are throwing beer at you (and they obviously shouldn't be doing that) just keep walking to the locker room. Do you think you can climb into the stands and beat somebody up? Does that really sound like a good idea? You can't win by doing that. Go tell a security guard and keep moving. It's harder to hit a moving target.
  • THAT GOT ME THINKING:  I think everyone has lost their marbles these days. Literally. I haven't seen a marble in decades. Do they still exist outside of grandpa's attic?
  • ALAN TRAMMELL AND JACK MORRIS GO INTO THE HALL OF FAME courtesy of the Modern Era Committee. I would have voted for Trammel but not Morris. I would've voted for Dale Murphy, too -- but you already knew that. Murph being left out again proves that you can keep people out of the Hall for reasons of character and/or integrity, but those qualities won't help you get into the Hall.
  • BAKER MAYFIELD WINS THE HEISMAN TROPHY:  I had a vote again this year and Mayfield got it. Was really impressed with his accuracy, especially on the deep ball. I had Bryce Love second and that's where he finished. I voted San Diego State's Rashaad Penny third and he finished fifth. If you never saw him play, you missed out. He's a very exciting running back. And by the way, I'm still one of the stubborn guys holding to the rules of Heisman voting -- not revealing my vote until after the winner is announced.
  • CARSON WENTZ OUT FOR THE SEASON WITH A TORN ACL:  NFL quarterbacks just have to figure it out -- stop with the unnecessary running. Know who you are. Instead of dropping your head and trying to power for an extra yard, hook slide. Duck and cover. Marcus Mariota, in the midst of his worst season as a pro, has been playing through injuries all season due to his penchant for running.  Just sit back and throw the ball until you're in the fourth quarter of a Super Bowl, guys.

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.

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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.