Under Review: Seahawks take down Cardinals, lose key players, and take on ridiculous officiating

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A win is a win is a win. Or at least, that’s the cliché.

But this Thursday night game against the Cardinals didn’t feel cliché at all; it felt like the Seahawks got beaten with a lead pipe by Arizona players and referees in tandem, managing to eek out a win before departing from the desert with a consolatory tally in the win box.

Seahawks Lose Sherman

The devastating injury to Richard Sherman cannot be sugarcoated – it’s a colossal loss. The seventh-year pro is the best corner in the league – you can take that to the bank.

But another thing you can take to the bank is Seattle’s CB depth. Cornerbacks Shaquill Griffin, Jeremy Lane, Justin Coleman and Deshawn Shead have played well, and are showing the potential to hold down the fort the rest of the year.

With Sherman struck from the game, the Legion of Boom still balled out. Each of the CBs made great plays on the ball, especially Griffin, who continues to look like a steal of a draft pick. It was nice to see Lane block an extra point, too. If Thursday night is anything to go by, there are still some studs in the L.O.B., even without the stud of them all.

Third Down’s The Charm

Make no mistake, there’s still a lot of work to do on offense. Russell Wilson and Co. need to be better than they were last night, particularly on third down. In that area, they were 3 for 13 (23% success rate). That stat is not going to cut it. And it isn’t exactly clear what the fix is. There are some plays where Wilson takes too long to make throws, and others where there are breakdowns in protection. The run game was not even close to good, which leads to 3rd and 8+ situations.

Assuming Duane Brown can make it back in little time, this offense has earned the benefit of the doubt. The offense has showcased some awesome performances this year, highlighted by a 41-point effort vs. the Texans. It was also good to see Wilson connecting with TE Jimmy Graham for a pair of nice touchdowns. But the inconsistency is holding this team back. The natural inclination is to keep passing the ball, hoping Russell Wilson can do it all on his own- he might be able to. But a running game would be the straw that stirs the drink in Seattle.

With an effective ground game, the Seahawks would see more short-yardage situations. Wilson would then have a plethora of additional options at his disposal. Such conditions could facilitate the most productive offense in the league- it’s that talented. Actually accomplishing that will take some ingenuity from Darrell Bevell, and a uptick in performance from one of the ball-carriers.

Even More Injuries

When starting LT Duane Brown sprains his ankle and that’s not even close to your worst injury, you know it was a bad day. Brown, who played his second game since being acquired from the Texans, has helped solidify pass protection and can only trend Seattle upwards in the run game. If he misses any time, Matt Tobin will likely step in. The talent drop-off between Brown and Tobin is massive.

The Seahawks also lost a key run defender- DT Jarran Reed. According to Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times, Reed’s hamstring injury is “worrisome.” The big run-stuffer out of Alabama has been a dynamic contributor this year. In particular, he’s continued to play the run extremely well, but also has added an element of pass rush to his game. Using his impressive size, Reed’s bullrush has really developed. If he is to miss time, a combination of Nazair Jones, Garrison Smith and possibly Sheldon Richardson will look to plug the middle.

In sadly unsurprising news, RB C.J. Prosise had to leave the game with a sprained ankle. The sprain is on the leg opposite of the one he sprained earlier in the season. This information was disheartening for head coach Pete Carroll.

“I can’t even fathom how that happened to this poor kid,” Carroll said. “He’s trying to play football and he just can’t stay out there.”

On the bright side, RB J.D. McKissic has played more than up to par since filling in earlier this year. He will continue to showcase his speed and quickness.

It was also reported that Kam Chancellor has a stinger. No word on the severity yet, but stingers are generally among the more minor nicks players sustain during the season.

Felonious Flags

The officiating in Thursday’s game was exhibit A of how an inconsistent officiating crew operates. On a play in the first quarter, Wilson’s facemask was pulled during a sack- no penalty was called. On the ensuing Cardinals possession, a similar-looking face-grab (which was legitimate) was called in their favor.

This drive then saw the referees escort the Cardinals offense down the field like an Uber ride to a drunk person. On the possession, Griffin was charged with a totally bogus pass interference. The rookie was penalized covering WR Larry Fitzgerald, essentially for playing his opponent about as well as he could. The ghost-like infraction converted the third down and extended the offense’s efforts. It continued with a ticky-tack illegal use of hands call on Coleman.

For the grand finale, the officials decided to move the Cardinals up the field again when an offensive lineman pushed Richardson into QB Drew Stanton’s legs. The zebras called roughing the passer on the play.

Facing the favorable scenario of only needing to gain 18 yards on their own merit, the Cardinals easily fed TE Jermaine Gresham for the score.

The game should have been much more one-sided. It wasn’t because, as Mike Holmgren once said, the Seahawks had to play the referees as well as the opposing football team.

Near the end of the first half, a clear Andre Ellington catch-and-fumble was changed to incomplete upon further review. It didn’t have much effect on the game’s result – it’s still frustrating. Ellington lost control after a thorough four steps. That absurd decision just added to a bizarre and horrible night for the referees.

If TNF’s display of officiating was anything to go by, there are plenty more reasons to shut down the weekly program than just injuries.

But hey, a win is a win. And sometimes that’s all you can ask for.

Moving the Irresistible Force to get the Immovable Object

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Reports are strongly suggesting the Seahawks are after Texans LT Duane Brown, but it may take a mighty fortress of goods to acquire him – a mighty fortress that may be worth parting with.

According to Benjamin Allbright, a Colorado radio host, the Seahawks have interest in the former first-round pick.

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And the rumor is gaining steam:

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The Seahawks have endured a dark void at left tackle ever since Russell Okung departed via free agency in 2016. When Max Unger was traded for Saints pass-catching monster Jimmy Graham, Seattle basically declared the OL would be just fine under Tom Cable and his gaggle of raw, fleet-footed linemen.

But that never materialized. Instead, the team’s line deteriorated year after year until it was one of the worst in the league. Although it has seen marked improvement so far this season, there is still much room to grow.

That’s where the Texans LT enters the conversation.

Brown would probably welcome a change of scenery if it means more money. He has been holding out for some time, and has yet to play a down this year.

But the Seahawks pocketbook is not exactly overflowing. They currently have about $3,049,787 in cap room according to Spotrac; Not nearly enough to attract a top-tier tackle.

However, there is a solution that could benefit both the Texans and the Seahawks. Think about this: Graham costs $9m to roster for this season, and that price tag is fully refundable. Trading the gargantuan dynamo to the Texans could make the deal both palatable and attractive for both sides.

Parting with 88 is not an easy proposition. He just had his best game against the Rams, totaling six receptions for 37 yards and a touchdown (an actual Touchdown!). He also played the vast majority of his snaps in a WR-capacity. Lining up outside the numbers was good to Graham in New Orleans, and the switch could mean a significant upgrade to his stats as the season moves along.

But when it comes to trades, you have to give something to get something, and Graham is worth giving up for Brown on paper. In 2015, when Graham was lost for the year with a tear in his patellar tendon, the passing game was more prolific than ever (see: chart below). There’s little evidence the offense would be hindered much if Graham were to exit.

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With the addition of Brown, however, the team can use creativity drawing up run plays, and Russell Wilson can just focus on being Russell. The experience Brown would add, alongside Luke Joeckel at LG and Justin Britt at C, would be imposing. Suddenly, defensive coordinators would have to give pause when assembling game plans against Seattle’s five-man front.

And GM John Schneider would likely give Brown a nice contract extension, to boot. Wilson would be getting an elite blindside-protector for years to come. Graham, on the other hand, could well walk out the door when his contract expires next March.

Whether or not the trade happens, there is no denying the Seahawks biggest need is left tackle and it’s not close. Trading for Brown could significantly improve Seattle’s chances at another championship, even if losing Graham is requisite to making it happen.

Give Lacy The Rock

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With the Seahawks set to go without Chris Carson for the remainder of the season, it’s time to make Lacy the unquestioned leader in the backfield.

Many believe Lacy is not the runner he used to be, that he doesn’t have much left in the tank. This thinking is misinformed. Lacy has gallons of potential left if given the role he needs to thrive.

The biggest contributor to Lacy’s on-field woes has been the bench. Currently, Seattle is going with a hot-hand approach in its backfield committee. As such, Lacy’s rhythm and overall success has been hindered.

Lacy flourishes when he is given the ball in regular dosages. This season, his per-game carry total is a putrid average of four. He is averaging 3.4 yards per carry (ypc) in his cameo role, a below-average number.

But Lacy has shown that trusting him with the rock is a solid endeavor. When he was the Packers’ bellcow in 2014, he had his best season as a pro. Here’s his game log from that season, a campaign in which he earned 4.6 ypc.

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These state lines all share a commonality: Lacy totaled double-digit carries in all of them. In 2015, when Lacy’s production dropped off, he still managed to get a two-pronged number in 11 out of 16 games (4.1 ypc). It became apparent that when Lacy got into a rhythm, he was one of the most dynamic backs in the game.

A dynamic back that could do this:

And this:

Now that Carson has been placed on IR, they might find Lacy is the savior for an offense that really must have a running game. Russell Wilson is a great quarterback, but he can’t do everything. He needs a RB that can average 4.0+ ypc and force teams to keep eight in the box consistently. This trend would allow the Seahawks offense to be far more prolific.

Seattle showed confidence in Lacy against the Colts. His 11 carries were second only to Carson’s 12, and he gained 52 yards for 4.7 ypc. He finally looked like the swift-footed bulldozer the team was hoping for when they signed him this offseason.

As Lacy got more entrenched in the game, he got better. Here are the number of yards for each of Lacy’s carries, in chronological order: 2, 0, 5, 3, -1, 11, 3, 7, 19, 2, 1.

So, Lacy was productive when he wasn’t constrained by a small workload Sunday. Even though he had little noticeable success on his first five carries, he managed 43 yards on his final six. That’s 7.1 ypc.

Without consistent usage, Lacy will continue to look average or worse. But if the Seahawks are to continue their offensive wizardry, they can start by allowing Lacy to dominate the lion’s share of touches.

Is Jeremy Lane on the trade block?

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Unlike in recent years, the Seahawks are starting to find they have an embarrassment of riches at the cornerback position once again.

The Packers game, as devastating as it was on the offensive side of the ball, was equally encouraging on defense.

After the Seahawks traded for Justin Coleman, and added promising rookie Shaquill Griffin in the draft, Seattle has an opportunity to evaluate its options. Griffin and Coleman both held up well against one of the greatest QBs of the modern era, Aaron Rodgers.

And based on this tweet from Seahawks Cap and Roster Analyst Davis Hsu, they very well may be …

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The Seahawks very well could move on from Lane. Not because he was ejected during Sunday’s 17-9 loss at Lambeau Field, but because he and his $4m salary are no longer needed. Additionally, there’s little doubt Lane will be cut next offseason before his $6m price tag becomes guaranteed for 2018.

The question is with whom the Seahawks can trade. The Jets could be a destination for Lane. New York has all but said they are tanking this season. The Seahawks must have known this when they engaged in negotations for (and acquired) pass-rushing superstar Sheldon Richardson. The franchise’s hopes could turn on a dime with the addition of Lamar Jackson or Sam Darnold, so the first overall pick should be their primary objective.

Should the Seahawks engage in talks with the Jets, G James Carpenter could be the first name that is brought up. Carpenter was not hugely popular during his time in Seattle, but he absolutely destroyed defenders in the run game. He helped pave the way for Marshawn Lynch’s 5,357 rushing yards between 2011 and 2014. Make no mistake: Carpenter is an effective run blocker. Also, Carpenter is due $4.5m this year, so there would be little change in the Seahawks’ cap should this deal happen.

Considering the Seahawks only gained 90 yards on the ground Sunday, Carpenter would fill a necessary need. The Seahawks could put Carpenter at left guard and move Luke Joeckel out to tackle, who played there for the Jaguars in 2014 and had a productive year (for the most part).

It’s unknown whether Carpenter could move to the right side, supplanting Mark Glowinski. But if Carpenter could replicate his play at right guard, it could be an ideal pairing with tackle Germain Ifedi. That’s a scary tandem in run formations.

Whether or not this trade is possible, the Seahawks do have resources to make a trade like this. Because the offensive line is desperate for reinforcements, the Seahawks may try to trade a luxury for a need.

How Costly is the Loss of George Fant?

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In a Seahawks era when almost every season is shrouded by uncertainty on the offensive line, the team must scramble for alternatives once again.

George Fant was becoming a promising asset for the Seahawks. The young left tackle was starting to look like the miracle the team envisioned when it signed him as an undrafted free agent in 2016; the unlikely story was starting to come true. But then, in almost classic Seahawks fashion, he went down. And it was bad. According to David Chao, M.D., he tore both his ACL and MCL in a preseason game against the Vikings August 18th. Fant is not only a near-guarantee to miss 2017, but his 2018 campaign is in peril, as well.

The injury couldn’t come at a worst time. To quote Frozen, the Seahawks offensive line was transforming into something good for the first time in forever. The subtraction of Fant is truly a cruel and unlikely fate, similar to diabolical injuries the Seahawks have endured in previous years. Percy Harvin and his hip went down for the vast majority of 2013. Jimmy Graham and his gruesome knee injury took the air out of 2015. And Earl Thomas’ broken leg essentially derailed what chances the Seahawks had in last year’s playoffs.

Yes, it is football and football has injuries. But sometimes it seems like football hates the Seahawks more than everybody else.

Regardless of the reasons for why the Seahawks must face such ridiculous injuries year after year, the truth remains: the Seahawks have to figure out their left tackle situation heading into week one at Green Bay. And doing so may not be as tough as you think. Here are three options the Seahawks might pursue.

Branden Albert

The free agent has no flights booked to any NFL team at the moment, and he may find a one-way ticket to Seattle suits him.

Albert nearly retired after being traded to the Jaguars this past offseason. When he rescinded his retirement, the Jaguars said no, apparently put off by his decision to ditch them. The tenth-year pro has started 118 games over his NFL career. He has been to the Pro Bowl twice and was last selected as recently as 2015.

A signing could be a no-brainer for both parties. The Seahawks need a left tackle and Albert would be the best one on the roster if signed. The former Chief has garnered no apparent interest and might find a one-year deal with a Superbowl contender quite attractive.

Michael Oher

Having started 110 games in his career, the 31-year old finds himself a street free agent who could be an option for the Seahawks. In 2015, Oher was lauded as an integral piece to the Panthers’ offensive line on their way to an NFC Championship. However, he was released on July 20 of this year with a failed physical designation.

With his copious experience, Oher could suit the Seahawks nicely as a 2017 stop-gap. After recruiting Oher to the Panthers in 2015, Cam Newton took advantage and brought the Panthers to a Superbowl. Russell Wilson may want to follow in Newton’s footsteps if he wants to keep his jersey clean come September.

Move Luke Joeckel to LT

Let’s be honest: Joeckel did not look great last night against the Vikings at left guard. The purple-wearing Minnesotans pushed him all over the place like a snow plow in winter.

However, guard is not Joeckel’s primary position (no matter what Tom Cable tells you). Joeckel was selected second overall in 2013 to play tackle, and has started 35 games there in his career. If the Seahawks move Joeckel back to left tackle, he will be put in a position to block players he’s actually equipped to.

Moving the fifth-year pro to the outside would give him a great chance to succeed. He started 14 games at tackle during the 2015 season, and believe it or not, he did this:

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If this statistic does not make you feel better about losing Fant, you might need to seek counseling. Looking past that eyesore of a game in week 17, Joeckel was a master of consistency in 2015. Naming him the new LT may not be a hard decision.

Fant was a blossoming lineman who defied expectations and helped solidify the left side of the line. Now that he’s gone, the Seahawks must partially re-construct what they have built. Whether the team looks within or to free agency, losing Fant may not turn out to be as costly as you think.


Why Boykin is Better Than Kaepernick


When asked why the Seahawks opted against signing Colin Kaepernick, Head Coach Pete Carroll said something that was as confusing as it was frustrating: Since the free agent is a starting-caliber QB, he wouldn’t fit on a team that already has one. But Carroll should have told fans what is really going on in the QB room. In reality, Seattle has two good options at the position. One is Russell Wilson.

The other was a star in college who could become one in the NFL: Trevone Boykin.

The Seahawks are intrigued with the chance to grow Boykin into much more than a guy with a clipboard. Kaepernick, who has extensive experience to go along with great athleticism and a strong arm, would put an end to that endeavor. Since the Seahawks have rarely employed more than two QBs since Carroll took over in 2010, adding the dynamic veteran would almost certainly mean Boykin’s exit.  It would be a huge waste of the sophomore’s talent and potential.

After signing Boykin to a deal following the 2016 draft, Carroll could not say enough good things about the former TCU star.

“His versatility and his style of play is so similar to Russell’s,” Carroll said. “He’s got a big arm. He’s a very creative athlete. He’s got great instincts and great vision. His ability to run and make people miss and get out of trouble is very similar to what Russell does.”

The former Horned Frog has shown sustainable talent at the pro level. When Seattle met the 49ers in Santa Clara in Week 17, Boykin was thrown into the game with 9:29 to go in the fourth quarter. It was hard to expect much from the rookie; he was seeing his first real game action of his short career.

But on the final drive of the game, leading 25-23, Boykin defied expectations. He incinerated the dreams of a 49ers team clinging to the hopes of an inter-division upset. Like a flamethrower melting steel, Boykin torched the game with a 12-play, 5:42 series to end the contest. He finished 4 of 6 for 42 yards and sealed the win.

His stat-line was modest, but he showed mastery of poise and leadership in his brief appearance. It was really trial by fire – had the Seahawks punted or turned the ball over, the lowly 49ers could have embarrassed Carroll and Co. right before the playoffs. It was impressive that Boykin never wavered, delivering on a game-killing possession.

That’s what solid quarterbacks do.

The Seahawks have done their best to protect Boykin. They could (or maybe should) have signed a veteran to hedge a Wilson injury in 2016. And when Boykin was arrested earlier this offseason for violating his probation, and the Twitter-verse was clamoring for his release, the Seahawks stuck with him. The violation stemmed from an incident in which Boykin was the passenger to a drunk driver. The vehicle crashed into a bar and injured eight.

Given these circumstances, it was surprising he remained. The Seahawks have not been as understanding with other troubled employees. When Fullback Derrick Coleman was charged with vehicular assault and felony hit-and-run in June of last year, the Seahawks promptly released him. Likewise, when former Seahawks QB Tarvaris Jackson received a charge of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon in 2016, GM John Schneider handed him his walking papers, too.

When it comes to Boykin, however, the Seahawks are giving him plenty of leeway.

“Early indications are that everything will give him an opportunity to be back with us,” Carroll said on the John Clayton Show March 31.

Schneider and Carroll must see promise in the second-year pro to go to bat for him like they have. Boykin’s criminal history is no clean slate. And yet, the Seahawks are giving him one. He’s helped by a super-cheap rookie contract – owed just $1.7m over the next two years, according to Spotrac. If he develops into the dependable passer he appeared against the Niners, he could be the long-term answer behind Wilson. He could also be a nice trade chip if other teams view him similarly.

For now, Kaepernick will stay on the outskirts of the league. He will eventually find a team with which to contribute, but it probably won’t be the Seahawks. They are simply too enamored with Boykin’s potential to replace him so easily.

Losing a Legend: The Impact of Cutting Ties with Marshawn Lynch


When the Seahawks traded for Marshawn Lynch in 2010 for almost nothing, Seahawks fans didn’t know they were getting a back who could do almost everything.

But the Seahawks found themselves in a role reversal this offseason. This time, it was the Seahawks who were dealing Lynch away for pennies on the dollar. The decision seemed like a smart one, but it also has plenty of backlash potential.

When studying this shrewd move, it’s important to have perspective. In this article, we’ll take a look at the positives and negatives of trading the former Cal star. First —

The Negatives:

On paper, moving on from Lynch is the right thing to do; he’s 31 and inarguably past his prime. For the average post-30 tailback, the decline is inevitable and rapid.

But let’s be honest here: Lynch is anything but average. GM John Schneider can mock the “Beast Mode” moniker all he wants, but there’s a reason Marshawn has coined it. Mainly, Lynch has dominated NFL defenses with an extremely dynamic skillset: quickness, agility, power, vision and breakaway speed. He really has it all. Whatever Lynch has lost in his legs, he more than makes up for with his plethora of attributes.

Any doubters of this concept need look no further than how Lynch looked at Raiders’ OTAs earlier this month.

He looks like the same elite runner who carried the Seahawks to two Superbowls. And with a year off from football, it’s possible he will be fresher than ever. If Lynch comes even close to his elite form, Seahawks fans may never let Schneider forget the day he traded away the best ball carrier in Seahawks history.

The Positives:

In the NFL, being 30 or older is a disease. Once a player hits their third decade on Earth, teams start looking elsewhere. And for good reason: players of this age often see their performance fall off a cliff.

Whether Lynch will transcend this trend is yet to be seen. But neither the Seahawks nor the Raiders were willing to gamble too much in order to find out. Schneider was not going to pay Lynch the $9m he would have been owed in 2017, and opted to trade Lynch’s rights. It was also likely that Head Coach Pete Carroll and Schneider were getting tired of handling the rogue nature of Beast Mode, who frequently missed practices and held out for more money in 2014.

But the Raiders didn’t exactly jump the gun to acquire #24, either. Oakland is only giving Lynch $2.35m in guaranteed money, according to Spotrac. His contract is loaded with incentives, such as rushing yard milestones and per-game bonuses. Basically, the Raiders are only paying Lynch like a top back if he plays like one. And based on the salary, they are not convinced he is (yet).

During contract negotiations, Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie appeared ready to move on from Lynch if a deal could not be reached.

“At some point, you would like to know,” McKenzie said. “Prior to the draft is that point.”

Meanwhile, the Seahawks not only got cheaper with this move, but younger as well. They acquired 27-year old RB Eddie Lacy on a one-year contract with just $3m guaranteed.

Lacy is an ideal back for the physical running game Seattle covets. For one, Lacy is really good at breaking tackles. According to Pro Football Focus, he compiled 169 of them from 2013 to 2016 (good for fourth during that span).

Lacy will draw comparisons to Lynch, and they will be unfair. Lynch is untouchable in terms of power backs because he’s so much more than that. But Lacy could be a serious bellcow in his own right, and Seahawks fans should be excited. After all, he rushed for 2,317 yards and 20 touchdowns from 2013 – ’14 in Green Bay.

The Seahawks are getting bang for their buck in Lacy. He’s a young, strong runner who can blast his way through defenses. At such a reasonable price, signing Lacy seems like the right choice.

But Marshawn Lynch is Beast Mode, and any football fan can tell you why:

Whatever he does, he’ll do it as a Raider. And Seahawks fans will be watching, nervously.