Seattle Seahawks

Seahawks unveil "Action Green" Color Rush uniforms

Seahawks unveil "Action Green" Color Rush uniforms

Who could ever forget those wonderful lime-green jerseys the Seahawks rolled out in 2009?  They weren’t all that forgettable. In fact, most people remember them for how awful they looked. Now, in 2016, the Seahawks have gone back to the lime-green well to churn out a brand new alternate uniform; this time with decidedly different results.

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Billed as “Action Green,” the new uniforms come as part of the NFL’s Color Rush series. Last season, eight teams wore Color Rush jerseys, and this season all 32 teams will have a Color Rush to roll out on Thursday nights.

For the Seahawks, the uniform takes the old lime-green idea and gives it a much better, modern twist. When Nike took over NFL uniform production in 2012, one of the biggest changes they made was a complete revamp of the Seattle uniform. Since then, Seattle has had arguably one of the best uniform sets in the league, and this new addition is no different, just take the Seahawks words for it:

The team loves them, however, the fan reaction on Twitter has been mixed:

The Seahawks took something old and something new and made a jersey that truly stands out. It may not be the best look in the repertoire, but you have to give it to the Seahawks for taking a risk. 

The Seahawks will wear the new look on Dec.15, when the Los Angeles Rams head to CenturyLink. As for fans, they don’t have to wait to get their hands on them. The “Action Green” jersey is already available at the team store and online.

 

 

 

How Would The Seattle Seahawks Replace Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor Or Richard Sherman?

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How Would The Seattle Seahawks Replace Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor Or Richard Sherman?

TIM KEARNY

There has been a lot of speculation this offseason about the Seattle Seahawks moving on from Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor and Richard Sherman. Those are three of the top players on the Seattle roster, and over the past several years they are arguably three of the top players at their positions. I will delve into how the Seahawks could possibly try and replace them for the 2018 season.

I don’t want them to be gone, they are team leaders and some of the best Seahawks ever. The NFL has enough talent to punish teams that try and keep players past their prime, and I am not saying these players are liabilities. I am just entertaining the possibility that they are not in Seattle at the start of the year.

The Legion of Boom has been one of the best and most recognizable secondaries in the NFL for years now. Let’s see what they would look like if the Seahawks did not make any roster changes except dropping them.

Shaq Griffin and DeShawn Shead/Jeremy Lane/Justin Coleman would be the corners. Assuming Byron Maxwell doesn’t re-sign and/or start next year.

Bradley McDougald would take one safety spot, also assuming he re-signs. I think he can play either safety spot in Seattle’s system, he’s better at strong safety though, and that leaves one spot open for possibly Delano Hill as a strong safety or Tedric Thompson as a free safety. Both rookies, Hill and Thompson, barely took any snaps on defense this past year.

That doesn’t sound very good when you think about it, there are players with potential but they are replacing All-Pros. At least there is still free agency and the NFL Draft to find replacements in this hypothetical scenario.

Let’s look at some of the top free agent defensive backs that will be available for the Seahawks.

Free Agents

Cornerbacks

Aaron Colvin from the Jaguars has been more successful as a slot corner than an outside corner so far in his career. He also did not allow a single touchdown pass in more than 500 snaps in 2017. He could be a great addition to the secondary but he does not fit the mold Seattle usually sticks to for cornerbacks. Colvin will also probably be given a large contract by a team that has more cap room.

Kyle Fuller almost did not make the Chicago Bears roster this year. He did not let that slow him down though. Fuller was one of four players who broke up or intercepted at least 20 passes in 2017. He is a player who has a good nose for the ball and is a willing tackler. Fuller could be in line for a big pay raise this offseason because of his on-field work. I think he would work well with what the Seahawks do on defense, and he has shown he is a willing learner with the Bears.

Safeties

Eric Reid might be a familiar name to Seahawk fans, he has played for the 49ers for a few years now and is a proven playmaker. There is speculation that teams will shy away from signing him because of his protests during the national anthem. I don’t think teams will be scared of signing him, but if they do the Seahawks are one of the more outspoken teams in terms of social justice and he could fit in with the culture. Reid also has experience playing both safety positions, setting up a nice safety duo for Seattle if he and McDougald can play either role.

Lamarcus Joyner is more like an Earl Thomas replacement. His time with the Rams started as a cornerback and they moved him to safety where he has flourished. Joyner is a good centerfield player who can sit back in the middle of the field in cover one or cover three and be effective. In 2017 Pro Football Focus gave Joyner a 90.3 grade out of 100, he is the top rated free agent safety this year and was the third ranked safety in the entire league. He can cover and even though he is a smaller defender he can hit as hard as anyone.

NFL Draft

I am only looking at players I think the Seahawks would grab with their first-round pick here.

Safety

Derwin James has been connected to the Seahawks in a few mock drafts that I have seen, and I love that pick. James is a super athlete with the smarts to learn Seattle’s system and fill in for Kam Chancellor. James can play the pass well, but his strength is his ability to play the run. He is a great leader and even shows up on weekends to run film sessions. This is a guy that would be great on many teams and when he puts it all together he could be a Pro Bowler for a long time.

Cornerback

Josh Jackson from Iowa might not even make it to the Seahawks’ pick this year. He has a lot of buzz around him right now, and some mock drafts have him going in the top ten picks. I think he will slip a little on draft day because of a slower 40-yard dash time. This is highly speculator, but from watching him play I don’t think he has game breaking speed. I think that will show up on draft day and people will get infatuated with the NFL Combine results like they do every year. Jackson has great tape as a collegiate cornerback and he shows up in big games, like his three-interception game against Ohio State. He has good length as a corner and due to his ball skills and football intelligence I think he could really add some talent to the Seahawks secondary.

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It’s hard to think about the Seahawks without Chancellor, Sherman and Thomas but the NFL means Not-For-Long and they won’t be around forever. Personally, I hope they all play for the Seahawks next year and spend their entire professional careers in Seattle. It would be strange to see them in another jersey. And this article is by no way an indictment of these players, it is just speculation about a possible scenario if Seattle decides to blow up their roster.

Who Should The Seattle Seahawks Draft This Year?

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Who Should The Seattle Seahawks Draft This Year?

BY TIM KEARNY

The Super Bowl is over and now the entire NFL is in offseason-mode. One of the next big events I look forward to is the 2018 NFL Draft in April. It is one of the most exciting parts of the offseason because it is so full of uncertainty. Every college player who has declared for the draft could be the next big thing, regardless of how they did in college and the scouting reports on them.

Every year I see late round draft picks turn into some of the most dynamic players in the NFL. Just this year the leader in passing yards was Tom Brady, a sixth-round pick; the leader in rushing yards was Kareem Hunt, a third-round pick; Antonio Brown led the league in receiving as a sixth-round pick; and Kevin Byard led the league in interceptions, he was picked in the third-round.

Seattle has been good at finding playmakers later in the draft, so it would be no surprise to see them find another gem in the later rounds. They have a habit of trading their first picks for more later in the draft and rely on their scouts to find Kam Chancellor and Ricard Sherman type players.

Here are three positions of need the Seahawks have and some prospects I would like to see them draft. I am looking at running back, wide receiver and edge rusher for these picks because it would take too long to go through everybody. They are picked because of how I feel they would fit with the Seahawks and they are in the range of the Seahawks’ selections.

 

Running Back

Sony Michel- Georgia

Michel largely played second fiddle to Nick Chubb in the University of Georgia backfield the past four seasons, but he has piled up very impressive numbers. We all saw how much more effective Michel was than Chubb in the championship game. He more than tripled Chubb’s yardage with four less touches.

He led the SEC in yards per carry this year at almost eight yards per tote. His explosion is extraordinary and the Seahawks could really use an influx of his playmaking ability.

Michel was used mainly as the speed to Chubb’s power but when given the opportunity he does not shy away from contact. Michel is a great athlete that can create his own space and does not only take what the defense gives him. He was not used much as a receiver this year, but over his career he proved he has natural hands and decent route running ability.

Seattle has been looking for a running back ever since Thomas Rawls regressed, and Michel could be a great addition to the backfield. He has had some problems fumbling in the past, but with some emphasis on ball handling I think he would clean that up.

 

Rashaad Penny- San Diego State

Penny has been one of my favorite players to watch for the past two years because he destroys opponents. He has video game numbers in some of his games that are astounding. On average over the past two years he gets seven and a half yards on every run play.

Penny returned kicks very efficiently during his career as well. In the past three years he has averaged over 30 yards per kick return and has seven kick return touchdowns. Penny has also returned two punts in his career and he scored a touchdown on one of them, proving he can score whenever he has the ball.

Penny posted six 200-yard rushing days in 2017, and five of them were in a row to end the season. He ended up doing so well he was 5th in the Heisman voting in 2017. This man can run the football. He could be a great playmaker to take the pressure off Russell Wilson, and possibly jump start the running game.

 

Wide Receiver

Dante Pettis- Washington

Dante Pettis holds the NCAA record for most punt return touchdowns in a career with nine. He is a smooth athlete whose best attributes are his field vision and route running ability. The Seahawks normally use smaller, faster wide receivers and Pettis does not fit that mold, but he would be a great addition to the receiving core. He is not a burner in terms of speed, so it makes it much more impressive he has returned so many punts for scores.

He has a great feel for the field and can make defenders miss in the open field. He just needs the ball with a little bit of space and he can score.

Pettis doesn’t just return punts, he is also a very accomplished and smooth receiver. In 2016 he had 15 receiving touchdowns with only 53 catches. That efficiency is ridiculous! He could provide a good infusion of playmaking ability to the Seahawks offense.

 

Michael Gallup- Colorado State

Gallup transferred from junior college, so he only has two seasons of major college football under his belt. He was a model of consistency during his time in Colorado, breaking the thousand-yard receiving mark both years. Gallup posted 21 touchdown catches and almost 200 catches in those two years too.

Gallup is a good athlete with reliable hands, he can beat the press well when jammed at the line and has very good acceleration. He has shown an ability to break tackles after the catch and has a good feel for breaking big plays.

He was only held to less than five catches in one game this year. He makes plays on a game to game basis, something the Seahawks need from more their wide receivers than just Doug Baldwin.

 

Edge Rusher

Lorenzo Carter- Georgia

Carter is more of a projection than any of the other players I have talked about so far. He is a great athlete, with a long frame and can flash big play ability. He came into college as a five-star recruit but did not progress the way many people thought he would. I like to think that means he has untapped potential as an edge rusher.

He is not great in coverage, but I think he could start out as a third down rusher and strong side linebacker on running downs.

Carter is 6’6” and 245 pounds, but his frame shows he could add more weight and really benefit from the added power. One of the strengths of his game is setting the edge on running plays. Carter shows a tenacity to not let offensive linemen get outside of him.

It is hard to see Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril back next year, so pass rush and defensive line will be a priority for the Seahawks again. And with Carter’s versatility playing linebacker and his athleticism I could see him being someone Seattle would like.

 

Chad Thomas- Miami

Thomas has very good athletic ability especially for someone who is 6’6” and almost 280 pounds. He is a better run defender than pass rusher at this point of his career, but his size and speed shows he has the tools to be a terror on the edge. He needs to learn how to use his hands better when sparring with offensive linemen.

Most of his tackles are tackles for loss, which makes me believe he takes plays off when he thinks he won’t make the play. Thomas does use leverage very well, he is tall but is often underneath his blocker’s pads making himself harder to push around.

If Michael Bennett is still on the team next year, he would be the perfect teacher for Thomas. They are about the same size and have similar athletic traits, this could be a best-case scenario for Thomas to learn from one of the best.

So, if the Seahawks are reading this you don’t have to scout these guys. Give me a call on draft day for more information on them if you need it. I’ve got you covered.

And I will be a happy camper if any of them are taken by Seattle.

Russell Wilson traded.....to the Yankees

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USATI

Russell Wilson traded.....to the Yankees

It's not the trade anyone in the Northwest was pondering, given the impending NBA trade deadline but today Russell Wilson got traded.

To the Yankees. 

No, not a typo. The Texas Rangers traded Russell Wilson to the New York Yankees for future considerations, according to Jerry Crasnick.

Wilson released the following statement about the situation today:

I want to personally thank the Texas Rangers and John Daniels for drafting me and giving me the chance to experience professional baseball again. Growing up taking grounders, hitting BP, and throwing deep post routes in football early in the mornings at 6 am with my dad and brother is where my love of sports came from and those memories stick with me every morning I wake up. During my two springs with the Rangers, I was reminded just how much I love the game.

While football is my passion and my livelihood, baseball remains a huge part of where I came from and who I am today. I’ve learned so much on the baseball field that translates to my game physically and mentally playing Quarterback in the NFL. I thank the Rangers and their great fans for making me feel at home and a part of the family! While I embrace the chance to be a New York Yankee, I will forever be grateful to be a part of a world class organization like the Texas Rangers.

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.