Archive for March, 2011

It’s Time

The wait is finally over! The Mariners kick off the 2011 Major League season against the Oakland Athletics in Oakland. The game is scheduled to start at 7:05 PT and we will see a great pitching matchup between the reining AL Cy Young Award Winner, Felix Hernandez, and right-handed pitcher Trevor Cahill.

The active 25-man roster heading into the season look as follows:

Pitchers: Felix Hernandez, Jason Vargas, Doug Fister, Erik Bedard, Michael Pineda, Brandon League, Chris Ray, Aaron Laffey, David Pauley, Jamey Wright, Josh Lueke, Tom Wilhelmsen.

Catchers: Miguel Olivo and Adam Moore

Infielders: Justin Smoak, Jack Wilson, Chone Figgins, Brendan Ryan, Luis Rodriguez, Adam Kennedy

Outfielders: Ichiro Suzuki, Milton Bradley, Ryan Langerhans, Michael Saunders

Designated Hitters: Jack Cust

The rotation will be Hernandez, Vargas, Fister, Bedard, and Pineda.

Tomorrow’s opening day lineup will be as follows:

  1. Ichiro Suzuki, RF
  2. Chone Figgins, 3B
  3. Milton Bradley, LF
  4. Jack Cust, DH
  5. Justin Smoak, 1B
  6. Miguel Olivo, C
  7. Ryan Langerhans, CF
  8. Brendan Ryan, SS
  9. Jack Wilson, 2B

P. Felix Hernandez

Some more Opening Day Notes:

The Mariners have a few notable players starting the season on the DL, Franklin Gutierrez and David Aardsma. Both should be back by mid-April so we shouldn’t worry too much. Brandon League has been named the closer in Aardsma’s absence. Another thing to watch for is that Ichiro needs only 3 hits to tie Edgar Martinez for the franchise record in hits.

This is what we have all been waiting for, baseball season is finally here. Let us enjoy tomorrow’s game and hope for progress to be made this year.

Kolb heading to Seattle?

Last year Seattle went after Charlie Whitehurst- the quarterback they felt would be the future when Matt Hasselbeck was ready to retire or leave in free agency.

Despite Whitehurst never having any true NFL experience the Seahawks gave up quite a bit in draft picks for the unproven Whitehurst. To acquire Whitehurst the Seahawks had to swap second-round picks and send the Chargers a 3rd-round pick in the 2011 NFL Draft.

Whitehurst would appear in six games for the Seahawks starting two- including a Week 17 match-up with the St. Louis Rams. Winner takes home the NFC West Division crown and would earn the chance to host a home play-off game against defending Super Bowl Champions the New Orleans Saints.

Whitehurst would go 22-for-36 with 192-yards and a touchdown defeating the Rams 16-6 and giving the Seahawks their seventh all-time division title and fifth in the past seven-years.

Despite Whitehurs’s success the Seahawks still have their doubts as to whether or not Whitehurst is their future at quarterback. In only six-years in the NFL he’s appeared in eight games- starting two of them completing 57 passes for 507-yards and two touchdowns.

Now the Philadelphia Eagles are shopping former 2nd-round pick Kevin Kolb and according to Sports Illustrated Don Banks the Seahawks could turn out to be the top suitor for Kolb.

Unlike Whitehurst, Kolb has proven himself he’s played in 19-games- starting seven of them and passed for 2,082-yards and 11 touchdowns, but has also thrown 14 interceptions.

If Seattle were to trade for Kolb they most likely would have to give up more to the Eagles than they did for Whitehurst- a 2nd-round pick in 2010 and a 3rd-round pick in 2011.

It might cost them a 1st-round pick in this year’s draft (25th overall) and a conditional pick in 2012, but is that worth it?

Kolb could be a product of a system and he has yet to truly show his potential with the Eagles. He lost the starting job to Michael Vick after an injury, but prior to the injury he had thrown for six touchdowns and only four interceptions. Maybe all Kolb needs is a chance to prove himself.

I’m a strong believer in competition at the quarterback position and he would get that with Whitehurst, but is it worth giving up more picks to get him?

The biggest issue might be if no one is on the board come Seattle’s pick in the 2011 Draft than you make the trade, but if there is a player who will fill a hole or improve your team do you pull the trigger for Kolb?

It will be a question that will have to be answered fairly sooner than later, but two things are for sure- Kolb has proven himself and that is way more than Whitehurst had done when Seattle acquired him.

Finally Carroll is all about competition at any position and willing to take risks.

The uncertainty will be if Kolb is the next risk Carroll and GM John Schneider take on.

 

Compensatory Picks

The NFL issued the compensatory picks and the Seattle Seahawks were awarded the 241st pick. That is a late seventh round pick and as it stands now will be the Seahawks final pick in the 2011 NFL Draft.
Compensatory picks are awarded to teams considered to have a net loss during the previous seasons Free Agency period. No one knows the formula used to determine what a team will receive but after losing Nate Burelson in the opening hours of free agency last year most would have expected Seattle to receive a better pick.
Notable players drafted with the 241st pick since the 2000 draft are:
•Rob Meier DT Washington State drafted by the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2000. 215 Tackles 21.5 Sacks and played for them until being released in February of 2010
•Ken Dorsey QB drafted in 2003 by the 49ers was a backup for them 2003-2005 and then joined the Browns from 2006-2008. He threw 8TD’s 18INT for 2,082 yards and a 55.2 career passer rating.
•Sean McHugh TE Penn State drafted in 2004 by the Titans but was cut during training camp but signed with the Packers for the 04′ season. He then joined the Lions (2005-2007). After being released at the end of training camp 2008 he signed with the Steelers and was released before the Season started last year. 2007 was his best season with 17 receptions for 252 yards.
•Geoff Schwartz OT Oregon drafted by the Panthers in 2008 started all 16 games for the team last season.
We haven’t seen any stars develop from the 241st draft pick but there have been players who contribute and continue to contribute. The last two 241st picks are still in the league but there is insufficient data to make a decision on them yet.

Mariners Re-Assign 5 to Minor League Camp Including Dustin Ackley

One of the biggest questions heading into spring training was where Dustin Ackley would start the year. Many projected that he would begin the year at AAA Tacoma (including myself) so that he could fine tune his defense at second and avoid Super Two arbitration status. Well the decision is final as the Mariners assigned him to AAA today. This will be a great opportunity for fans to see Ackley at the brand new Cheney Stadium to open the year. He should make his major league debut sometime in June.

The Mariners made a lot more moves today regarding non-roster invitees.

The Mariners announced that Gabe Gross will be assigned to minor league camp. He has had a very rough spring, hitting .077 in 26 at-bats. He could end up at AAA Tacoma or possibly be released.

Ryan Langerhans has been hitting .333 in 36 at-bats and has earned the role of reserve outfielder on the opening day roster. He was brought in to compete with Gross, and Jody Gerut for the job.

The Mariners assigned catching prospect Steven Baron to minor league camp as well. Baron had zero chance of making the opening day roster but he was brought up to provide some catching depth and work with the veterans. Baron is great defensively but he will need to greatly improve his offensive game if he hopes to one day reach the majors.

Fabio Castro gave up 5 runs in 7 innings this spring which wasn’t enough to keep him around. The very small, 5’7” 185lb lefty should stick around at AAA for some left-handed relief depth.

Sean Kazmar came into camp with an outside shot to compete for a bench utility role. He hasn’t helped his cause, hitting .130 in 23 at-bats. He may end up in Tacoma to serve as a utility player but we will have to wait and see.

New NFL Kickoff Rule: Labor Bargaining Chip Hurts Seahawks, No Improved Safety

The Seattle Seahawks entered the 2011 Free Agency period with many needs.  Unfortunately for Seattle, the only free agents they’ve had an opportunity to negotiate with have been their own.

Seattle did re-sign a few of their players, squeezing them in just under the wire before the labor issues began to be felt in earnest.  The biggest move was giving return specialist and backup RB Leon Washington a new four-year deal.

Washington is slated to earn $12.5 million over the term of the contract, and could reach $16 million if he hit undisclosed incentives.  The all-important guaranteed money is $3.5 million.

To be fair, when the deal was inked the last thing either side was concerned with was the guaranteed part of the contract.  Washington is second only to Devin Hester as a kick returner, and offers some value as a change of pace RB.

But today the NFL owners approved a rule change that calls the value of Washington’s contract into question.  The NFL will move kickoffs back up to the 35 Yard Line, following 15 years of being placed at the 30.

Washington might have just become a very expensive kickoff shag man, and Seattle fans might have reasons to wonder why Pete Carroll and John Schneider inked this kind of a deal for a return man with the rule changes that were on the table.  To be fair, the recommendation wasn’t made until after Washington’s contract was signed, but there were signs that the NFL would make another change to kickoff rules (they adjusted what was a legal “wedge” on kick returns during the 2010 offseason).

The owners’ vote was 26-6 in favor of the change.  Coaches didn’t seem to echo their employers’ feelings, and some players are very upset.  While the owners do respect that there could be a change to the game (there will be), they claim they were more concerned with improving player safety (it WON’T be).  Both of those assertions validate analysis, but this review won’t be discussing the impact on special teams in fantasy football leagues.

Changes in the Game
The NFL moved kicks from the 35 to the 30 in 1994 to liven up the game.  Touchbacks were on the rise, and return yards were decreasing.  The change worked.  Touchbacks dropped, and average return yards and TDs both increased.

Most everyone agreed the change improved the game—kick returns are very exciting and can change momentum.  Whereas touchbacks…they’re just boring.

As kickers became stronger, touchback percentages started to rise.  In fact, they have increased each of the last 6 years—from 9.1% in 2005 to 16.4% in 2010.  Billy Cundiff (K, Baltimore Ravens) punched over 70% of his kicks into the end zone in 2010, with 40 of 79 (52.6%) being downed for a touchback.  With the move to the 35 his new goal may be to just split the uprights.

Not surprisingly, several return specialists and their coaches are speaking out against the change.

Bottom of Form

“I don’t like the rule,” Washington said on the Brock & Salk Show (710 ESPN Seattle). “And I’m sure Brad Smith and Devin Hester and Joshua Cribbs and the rest of the guys that do a really good job of returning the ball don’t like the rule.”

Washington continued “It’s a part of the game that’s really exciting. I think fans look forward to it because it’s an instant momentum-changer.”  Washington proved that time and again for Seattle in 2010, including two TDs vs. the Chargers that led to Seattle’s victory.

Cribbs didn’t let Washington down, stating via Twitter: “Essentially taking returners out of the game…injuries will still take place, then what move it up again, or eliminate it all together.”

Devin Hester’s coach also sounded off.  Before the rule was passed, Lovie Smith said “You just wonder how did we get to this point?  First off, I can’t believe we’re really talking about it, the most exciting play in football.  You would think we would want to keep that in.

“We would work as hard as we could to try to make it safer, but to eliminate that to me is just kind of tearing up the fiber of the game a little bit. Yeah, we have a great returner. But that’s a big part of the game. Our fans are probably more interested in coming there to see Devin Hester running a ball back as opposed to seeing a kicker kick it out of the end zone with no action.”

Improvement to Player Safety
Concerns over player safety on kickoffs are important to consider, and is what reportedly prompted the change.

Bottom of Form

When asked about the six no votes, Atlanta Falcon’s president and competition committee chairman Rich McKay said: “The objections were, ’Hey, you’re affecting my team.’ Clearly, some teams have good kick returners and they said, ’What if there’s 10 percent less returns?’

However, some of those comments also stated that the change won’t improve safety.  Aforementioned Chicago Bear head coach Lovie Smith noted that in two year, they have only seen one injury in the kicking game…a twisted ankle that would have happened anyway.

While anecdotal information is only a small part of the story, coaches had solid rationale that this is not a safety issue.  When pushed on this point McKay added “We have no answer, but player safety will always trump any other consideration.”

When making a rule change such as this, it would seem prudent to have a better feel for what the current impact is.  The NFL has speculation, and some data to support that kickoffs hold some added risk.  However, they lack conviction on if the change will actually meet the desired end.  It is almost as if there is something else at play (more on that in a moment).

One point the competition committee may have failed to give adequate consideration to is that player safety could actually be sacrificed with this change.

Kickers are more adept at reaching the end zone than they were in 1994, and members of the kicking team are certainly faster.  Yes, the new rule requires them to be within five yards of the ball, but this will not make them any slower at the point of impact, and will only save a half-stride in them getting down the field.

Bottom of Form

Some kickers, such as Jay Feely of the Arizona Cardinals, thrive on obtaining hang time and dropping the ball in front of the goal line.  Pay attention during the summer exhibition games, as kickers will be experimenting with dropping the ball inside the 10 and giving gunners an opportunity to stop returners in their tracks.

The ongoing labor issues can’t be ignored as this issue is discussed.  The owners claim to be taking a stance in favor of player safety, and undoubtedly will use this in their bargaining positions.  One thing that likely won’t get mentioned, though, is they just reduced a chunk of their payroll.  There is no reason to pay a return man Washington’s money, and Hester’s current deal (worth between $5 and $10 million a year over four years) certainly wouldn’t have been signed.

This vote is quite likely all about the owners and labor negotiations.  Once again, fans of the NFL are an afterthought and the players are being used as pawns.

 

On another note, a rule was also passed prohibiting teams from changing the color of their grass.  McKay noted with a smile, “We don’t want any red fields like at Eastern Washington.”  To that end, anyone associated with the Falcons has little room to talk about the aesthetic qualities of a football team.  It should be noted…the Eagles won the FCS championship and are likely not at all concerned with McKay casting aspersions.

 

Quarterback Situation

Originally posted on Bleacher Report on March 11, 2011
Written by Darin Pike
Seattle’s Draft / Free Agency Expectations for QB

Now up on my weekly position reports: Quarterback.

The Seattle Seahawks’ 2011 offseason has quickly revealed an urgency at the quarterback position. A few weeks ago, Seattle had a proven veteran on the roster, albeit with some questions surrounding his abilities going forward. They also had a solid backup with some potential to be a starter, and a young project with a cannon for an arm and good legs.

As the NFL works through a second extension of the current CBA, Seattle finds itself with just one quarterback on the roster. Matt Hasselbeck appears headed to test the free-agent waters, and Nate Davis was released without comment from the Seahawks.

Seattle appeared to have perhaps one more season before they needed to find additional options at quarterback. Now, the position joins both lines in needing immediate attention.

Seattle needs to sign at least two quarterbacks. One will likely come via April’s draft, with the remaining spot being filled via free agency or trade. Many still expect the free agent signing to be Matt Hasselbeck, while others are hoping to see Seattle make a big trade for a QB.

By now some readers are fixed on the current inability to sign or trade players. For current purposes, I’m going to continue with the expectations I laid out in a labor article last week. The owners and NFLPA will agree on another extension at some point today. In the very near future the two sides will be close enough on terms that they will sign a final extension, taking us through spring and a final agreement. The last extension will allow free agency to start prior to the NFL draft.

Editor’s Note: Obviously I missed on that one…BIG TIME. Seattle will have to draft a QB, albeit likely in a later round, and attempt to add a third option once free agency and trades resume.
NFL Draft: The Seattle Seahawks Need a QB with Starter or Solid Backup Potential

The release of Nate Davis seems to erase the question of “if” Seattle will grab a QB in the draft. Now the question is “in what round will they make their move?”

The answer likely has a lot more to do with who is available than what round Seattle would prefer to dedicate a pick to the position. There are anywhere from three to six QBs being talked about as late first- to second-round picks. If the Seattle front office is interested in any of them, they will need to use their pick at 25 to get into position to snag one.

If Jake Locker is available at 25, it isn’t a stretch to imagine him being a Seahawk this fall. Any other available QB would be just that (a stretch) with that pick.

Cameron Newton, Auburn

Newton figures to be either a huge bust or a huge success. Regardless, the cost for Seattle to trade into position to draft him would be too great. I’d rather roll the dice with Whitehurst this season and acquire picks for 2012 and go after Andrew Luck or Matt Barkley.

Blaine Gabbert, Missouri

Gabbert has been called the most NFL-ready QB, and will be a top 10 selection. I’m not sold on his value, particularly for Seattle. There is no reason to believe he’ll be available, nor is he worth giving up the needed draft capital to move up the board to draft him. That, and I really don’t see Gabbert as being an NFL QB, but that is a different story.

Jake Locker, Washington

Locker is definitely this season’s wild card at the QB position. He’s been pegged everywhere from the 10th pick to the third round. The 2010 draft held several QBs in this position (Tim Tebow, Jimmy Clausen, and to a lesser extent, Colt McCoy). This year, Locker is joined by Ryan Mallett as draft day wild cards.

Locker’s positive qualities (arm strength, athleticism, character, work ethic and intelligence) definitely put him as a top five selection. His negatives (accuracy and decision making) makes him a third or fourth-round talent.

Most NFL scouts and coaches will need to rely on film and interviews with Locker to balance the pros and cons. They will need to determine how much of his problems were mechanics-related or attributable to lesser talent on the Husky offense and if the deficiencies are teachable areas or not.

Carroll has one obvious advantage over the 15 or so other teams that might be tempted to draft Locker. The closeness Carroll shares with Locker’s coach, Steve Sarkisian, allows enhanced insight on what actually plagued Locker during his senior season. While Sarkisian will likely be cautious with other teams in interviews, candor is expected in conversations with the coach that helped cultivate his career.

I’ve gone back and forth with Locker being a fit for Seattle. I watched him at the combine and thought he put in a very strong performance. His footwork looked improved, he threw a very solid deep ball and his timing routes were spot-on. It prompted me to go back and watch his snaps in the Senior Bowl and several of his college games.

There was a footwork issue, and my concern with him looking to run way too soon was also reaffirmed. At times, there were outlet options with room, but he tucked and ran before making it through his progressions.

What I have concluded is that much of Locker’s issues dealt with a poor offensive line and inexperienced receiver options. A lack of faith in his targets catching the ball, and even less faith in his offensive line giving him time to go through progressions, led him to take the game on his shoulders. In the first Nebraska game, he tried to force the ball to receivers that weren’t open. Later in the season, he chose to run instead of forcing passes.

If Locker happens to be available at 25, I firmly believe he’ll be drafted by Carroll. Even if his accuracy issues continue, he’ll be a better option than Whitehurst. If he can elevate his game, he’ll be a much better QB than Kolb and could become an elite QB in several years.

I have my doubts on other teams letting him get that far, though. If they do, Locker is worth the risk.

Ryan Mallett, Arkansas

Leading up to declaration day for the 2010 draft, some mock drafts had Mallett going in the first 15 picks of the first round. The financial cost tied to Locker’s decision to stay for his senior year has received a lot of attention. Mallett stands to lose almost as much as Locker.

There is little question regarding Mallett’s ability to throw the ball. He has a very strong arm and is accurate as well. There have been some that question his accuracy, citing his Sugar Bowl game performance. I watched that game in large part just to watch Mallett, and he threw very well. If not for about 18 dropped balls, his stats would have been through the roof.

Mallet made the most of postseason workouts. He was as good as anyone in combine passing drills. He also performed very well at his pro day when throwing the ball. His 5.36 40 time should give some pause, as he’s been called a bit statuesque in the pocket—this could explain why. Still, the NFL Network analysts said he has worked himself back into opening day consideration.

Then there is the other side of Mallett. He might not be smart enough to read NFL defenses. He may have an issue with drug use. He also has a bit of an attitude. Check that—he’s a raving narcissist. This is my biggest issue with Mallett, and something that can’t be overlooked.

It is one thing to lead a huddle of college kids. They are your friends and you run the campus with them. You are all playing for school pride. Many of them have similar attitudes, and those that don’t are apt to overlook the arrogance for a player that is performing.

However, his antics simply won’t fly in the NFL. His dismissive attitude towards the press at the combine is just another example of why he will struggle gaining the respect a QB has to have in an NFL huddle. The QB must be the leader of the offense and Mallett is a long way from being able to command the needed respect. He may grow out of it, but he has Ryan Leaf potential.

I can’t see using a first round selection on Mallett. Seattle may decide to pass on selecting a QB in round one and gamble on him still being available in round two—and then gamble that Carroll and Bevell can turn him around. With his talent, Seattle’s pick in round two would be worth the risk.

Christian Ponder, Florida State

Ponder has been ranked from third to sixth on the QB charts, depending on what review one wants to rely on. He has an accurate arm and good athleticism, making him a good fit for a West Coast offense.

Given the huge need at the QB position, it would not be surprising to see Seattle grab him with their first pick (albeit after some maneuvering, discussed below). Seven of the first 10 teams to pick in the second round have a need at QB; Ponder won’t last until Seattle’s second pick.

One of Ponder’s strengths is his ability to extend plays with his legs. Unlike Locker, when Ponder tucks and scrambles he has shown the ability to keep his eyes downfield and get a pass off. Also unlike Locker, he lacks zip in intermediate range passes, and doesn’t have a strong arm on deep passes.

Colin Kaepernick, Nevada

Kaepernick is every bit as intriguing as Ponder. Coming out of a pistol offense, he will likely need a few years to adjust to a professional offense and the speed of the NFL. This may be enough to discount him as a viable option for Seattle. Still, Kaepernick has a strong arm, is a hard, intelligent worker and is athletic. His legs will help him gain yards when scrambling and help him extend plays outside the pocket.

He figures to be a second-round pick, and grabbing him at 25 would be a stretch. Depending on who else is available on the draft board, Seattle may be able to acquire a few picks by trading down from 25. They have the “advantage” of having so many needs that teams behind them won’t know what direction they plan to go.

The Ravens need WR and CB help, and could be tempted to trade spots with Seattle to avoid losing their guy. That move would equate to the Ravens’ sixth-round selection. While not much, they might be able to parlay that with an additional trade.

The Bears and Steelers need help at OG—Chicago has to worry about Seattle drafting the top option at the position, and Pittsburgh has to recognize they are at risk with Chicago as well. A trade with one of those teams should yield a valuable third-round pick.

The Packers and Jets will likely be looking at DE, and might have minimal concerns about Seattle getting their player. However, both of them should be concerned with the Patriots, as they need help at the position, too. Green Bay would need to part with their third- and sixth-round picks to trade places with Seattle. If a move happens with the Jets, they would need to send their third-round selection and receive the aforementioned sixth-round pick hypothetically received from Baltimore.

Pat Devlin, Delaware

Devlin is also an intriguing option, and one that could be considered with Seattle’s fourth-round pick. He appears to be a well-rounded QB, but hasn’t played top competition.

It is hard to know if he’ll be able to make the big step to the NFL. He was impressive against Eastern Washington University in the FCS National Championship Game, but he’ll need to make quicker decisions in the NFL. Devlin can’t be ignored, and Joe Flacco has shown that Deleware QBs can step up and perform in the NFL.

Editor’s Note: Devlin showed up to his Pro Day 30 minutes late and was terribly erratic with his throws. He is now likely a 7th round pick, but may be waiting until the CBA is settled to know where he will have a shot to play next season…after all—isn’t that when undrafted free agents can sign?

Andrew Dalton, TCU

Dalton is projected as a fourth- or fifth-round pick. He was considered a possible second- or third-round option earlier, but accuracy issues have made that less likely. There is a sharp concern that his performance was centered more on the system at TCU and talented players surrounding him. Seattle is better off using their fourth-round pick on a fullback.

The Rest of the Field

Ricky Stanzi, Iowa, Nathan Enderle, Idaho and Greg McElroy, Alabama: These QBs have potential to be starters in the NFL down the road, but don’t seem to meet Seattle’s need of a passer that can step up sooner as opposed to later. Should Seattle grab one of these options in a later round, we can expect that they are looking at someone in free agency and have their eye on one of the elite passers expected in the 2012 draft.

Trade: Is There an Available QB That Won’t Cost Too Much Draft Capital

Seattle could find someone to step in and fill the QB position immediately. That person may or may not be the long-term solution, though. A lot of names have been floated in recent weeks—here is a summary on some of the options.

Kevin Kolb

Seattle showed an interest in trading for Kolb prior to the 2010 season. However, the Eagles weren’t quite ready to part with him. The expected contribution from Mike Vick was unclear at the time and Kolb was slated as their starter.

Entering the 2011 season, Philadelphia has made it clear that Kolb is available. Trading Kolb makes sense for the Eagles, provided they pull in the right compensation. Vick’s style of play leads to injury concerns and having a proven backup is important for their offense. They have that in Kolb, but with only one more season left in his contract, the long-term value of a few high draft picks makes him expendable.

Many see Kolb as following Aaron Rogers as the next breakout QB. His on-field performance to date doesn’t quite support the comparisons, though. He looks to be a solid starter, but expectations of being a star are premature.

In five starts last season, Kolb had a record of 2-3 with seven TDs and seven INTs. He averaged 235 yards per game.

Yes, he looked great against ATL and good vs. a SF team that was then torched for over 300 yards by such powerhouses as Carolina. But he looked terrible against Washington, Dallas and Tennessee. He had three TDs and six INTs in those three games—and isn’t that type of inconsistency the rationale some Seattle fans use for dumping Hasselbeck?

Carson Palmer

There has been a lot of speculation on where, if at all, Palmer will play the 2011 season. He has stated he will retire prior to playing another game in Paul Brown Stadium. This does give Seattle an advantage over most teams, as the Seahawks aren’t scheduled to play in Cincinnati until the 2015 season.

The Bengals have stated they won’t part with Palmer, but as they are faced with losing him with no compensation, their tune may change. Palmer’s stats were impressive in 2010, despite matching his career-worst interception total of 20. He struggled through a power struggle between Ochocinco and Terrell Owens.

If Mike Brown changes his stance, the anticipated asking price for Palmer could make him an attractive option. He seems to have come back well from his injuries and should have several good seasons left. Seattle would likely be looking at surrendering their second-round pick in 2011 and a third- or fourth-round pick in the 2012 draft.

The advantage of acquiring Palmer is it would give Seattle several more seasons with a quality starter, and allow them to target one of the projected top prospects in the 2012 draft.

Vince Young

I’ll readily admit bringing Young in isn’t the most appealing option for Seattle. His style of play isn’t ideally suited for a West Coast system, and his passing performance hasn’t exactly set him apart. He has shown the ability to get wins, but that has more to do with his surrounding talent and ground game than his passing prowess. He won’t have that luxury in Seattle.

I’ve included Young because the price will be right. He is clearly not going to be back with the Titans—a team willing to part with a sixth-round pick will likely be able to garner his services.

Free Agency: Seattle Must Sign Someone That Can Challenge Whitehurst

There are few free agents that have shown the ability to control a passing game. Seattle has offered very little along the lines of a running game in recent years, which makes life problematic for most QBs. There is hope that the ground game will improve with Tom Cable taking over the offensive line and Darrell Bevell stepping in as the new offensive coordinator.

A rejuvenated run game will offer significant help for Seattle’s starting QB. Hasselbeck had the majority of the offense strapped to his shoulders in 2010. It worked well at times, but had disastrous effects at others. As for free-agent opportunities Seattle may pursue:

Matt Hasselbeck

Hasselbeck has to be the first name on a list of potential free-agent signings. Despite concerns over his health and inconsistent production, he has the most familiarity with the skill position players that will be in the huddle during the 2011 season. He is also a proven winner and is coming off two spectacular playoff games.

Seahawk fans looking for a change from Hasselbeck point to the 17 INTs during the 2010 season as rationale for letting him move on. As brutal as the stats look, many of those turnovers were in desperation time and as a result of Hasselbeck pushing to make something happen. Regardless, at this point the Seahawks don’t have a better alternative.

Alex Smith

While widely considered a bust for not playing up to his draft status, Smith can’t be blamed for all of his issues. He’s been playing for a 49er franchise that has had its share of issues in the front office and on the sidelines.

There has been little continuity, impacting the opportunity for Smith to succeed. I won’t go so far as to say an elite QB wouldn’t have been able to be productive in the turnover-riddled 49er organization—had they drafted Aaron Rodgers I believe he would have elevated the franchise.

The biggest issue for Smith in Seattle would be his injury history. Despite comments about Hasselbeck being frail and breaking down, Smith has missed more time to injury in his five seasons than Hasselbeck has in his career.

Matt Leinart

Leinart’s name has been mentioned repeatedly given his collegiate history with Pete Carroll. While a possibility, and one that is a little more likely following Seattle’s release of Davis, I don’t give much weight to this signing.

If Carroll saw Leinart as a potential starting QB in Seattle, I would have expected him to sign him when Arizona released him last season. Seattle’s lack of interest then is an indicator of what to expect in 2011.

If Leinart is going to attempt a resurrection of his career in 2011, Seattle sans Hasselbeck is a good place to do it. While he’s been criticized for a lack of a deep passing game and his proclivity to check down to short patterns, that approach will likely be a good fit with the offense Bevell will run.

There will be some expectations for a vertical passing game, but Seattle will look to exploit the size of Mike Williams in an intermediate passing game. Ben Obomanu and Golden Tate will be used across the field, and Seattle should look to exploit Tate’s athleticism in bubble screens, short post patterns and in the deep passing game. This approach would actually fit well with Leinart’s skill set.

Tarvaris Jackson

Jackson hasn’t done much to garner extended attention in free agency. His time in Minnesota was so underwhelming that they failed to offer a tender offer prior to the end of the CBA. As such, Jackson is free to sign with any team once free agency begins.

Seattle would be in dire straits if they were relying on Jackson to step in and start. However, Jackson’s familiarity with Bevell makes him a possibility to challenge Whitehurst for backup duties. He has shown some signs of proficiency, and it is possible that a few years under Brett Favre allowed him to grow.

Summary: Projecting What Steps the 2011 Seahawks Take with Their QB Position

Despite performance challenges over the past few seasons, Hasselbeck still remains as the Seahawks’ best option for the 2011 season. With an emergence of a ground game, development at the receiver positions and some improvements on the offensive line, he can still be an effective QB. We saw that with two postseason games following the 2010 season.

Re-signing Hasselbeck would also provide some flexibility with drafting the future QB this April vs. next year.

It is possible, even likely, that a team will be willing to put up $25M over two years for Hasselbeck’s services. Should that happen, the likelihood of Seattle matching the offer seems low. Comments from the negotiations have been that the two teams are far apart on contract terms. If the Seahawks were willing to part with the kind of money it will take to re-sign Hasselbeck, I have a feeling it would have already happened.

I do not see Seattle making a move for Kolb at anywhere near the current asking price. They would likely pull the trigger in exchange for their first-round pick in 2011. Much beyond that is too much, though, as Kolb is not under contract beyond the 2011 season. That is too much risk for a QB that hasn’t shown himself to be much beyond an average starting QB.

There are significant concerns with Seattle giving up an early pick in 2012. The Seahawks face a brutal schedule in the 2011 season, and a poor finish would not be a big surprise. They could be picking early in each round, which could put them in position to make a play for one of the top picks in the first round. I doubt any Seahawk fans would want to see the team pass up an opportunity to draft Luck or Barkley because they gave up too much for Kolb.

Should Palmer become available, he would provide a solid starter for several years, and put Seattle in position to draft their future QB in 2012 or 2013. If he isn’t an option, look for Carroll to open up competition at the QB position. Names such as Young and Leinart could join Whitehurst and a draft pick in competition to lead the offense in the coming season.

Fans should brace for Hasselbeck wearing different colors next season. If Locker is available at pick 25 I’d expect Carroll to give him an opportunity to show he can be an NFL QB. If Locker is gone, Mallett could be the next-best option in round two.

Seattle may very well be looking at stop-gap efforts to fill the QB position in the 2011 season; it could be a rocky one for the Seahawks. Carroll and Schneider will continue their roster overhaul, but a step-back this year may be necessary to set the team up for long term success. The QB position looks to be a manifestation of this approach.

2011 NFL Draft: Expectations for the Seattle Seahawks’ Offensive Line

Originally posted on Bleacher Report on February 24, 2011
Written by Darin Pike

As the combine is starting, so is my first position analysis for the Seattle Seahawks.  I begin with the offensive line, as many see this as the likely use of Seattle’s first round pick in April’s draft. At the expense of brevity, I offer a review of the last decade for the unit, followed by a summary of where Seattle stands today.  Finally, I will discuss what steps are needed for the future.

 

History

To completely understand why Seahawks fans want the offensive line to be a draft day priority, their recent history merits discussion. There is a combination of nostalgia and frustration with the unit built by Mike Holmgren and Ted Thompson from 2000-2004. Walter Jones was getting his Hall of Fame feet under him and had begun working with Chris Gray and Robbie Tobeck.

The supporting cast was lacking in 2000, which led the team to some solid draft picks. Steve Hutchinson was taken 17th in 2001, and the offensive line that pushed the Seahawks to Super Bowl XL was rounded out when Sean Locklear became the 84th selection in 2004.

There were a few draft clunkers along the way, too. Who can forget Chris McIntosh with the 22nd pick in 2001? Oh, that’s right, everyone except avid Seahawk fans, who try in vain to forget.

The offensive front began to disintegrate as soon as it was built. Hutchinson was gone after the 2005 season, lost via free agency to the Vikings when GM Tim Ruskell opted to transition tag the Pro Bowl guard instead of using the franchise tag. The NFL refused to enforce equal financial terms for both teams, and the cap hit along with the money Seattle would have to guarantee to re-sign him was impossible.

Tobeck retired after playing just half of the 2006 season, followed by Gray at the end of 2007.

Walter Jones’ established injury concerns finally caught up with him and he last saw meaningful time during the 2008 season. Within three years of their Super Bowl appearance, the only carryover from the starting line was Locklear.

Despite glaring need, Ruskell largely ignored the offensive line on draft day. His first draft pick with Seattle was used on G/C Chris Spencer in 2005. The next time the offensive line saw a selection in the top three rounds came in the second round of 2009. Three drafts—four starters lost—no draft-day priority.

Seattle did have the opportunity to acquire solid prospects. Playoff appearances provided challenging draft positioning, but successful franchises work through late picks.

Entering the 2007 draft, issues on the O-Line were becoming clear. They didn’t have a first round pick (it was traded for Deion Branch), so their second round choice would be quite important.

Still on the board was Ryan Kalil, the top center and one of the best interior linemen in that draft. Kalil became a Pro Bowl center after being taken by Carolina two spots after Seattle’s pick. The pick after Kalil was Samson Satele, and while not a household name around the NFL, he has been a solid starter for Oakland the last two years.

Either of those names would have provided Seattle with needed help on the interior of the line, and would have helped stave off the unit’s looming collapse.

Instead, Ruskell opted to select Josh Wilson, the speedy, yet vertically challenged CB from Maryland. While he became a fan-favorite, his size made him a questionable pick to cover the tall WRs in the NFC West. My then-14-year-old daughter was surprised he was an NFL player—we had the opportunity to host him for a weekend shortly after he was drafted and she was a bit taller than Josh. Pete Carroll shared her concerns, and traded him for a fifth round pick in the 2011 draft.

When the 2008 draft rolled around, the failures of the Seattle O-Line were quite clear. However, the draft class was lacking, and when Duane Brown came off the board two spots before Seattle’s first round selection, there was no longer a viable first round selection for the O-line. Instead of reaching for the likes of Mike Pollak, Seattle reached on the other side of the ball and grabbed Lawrence Jackson.  Options in the second round were also ignored, leaving Seattle with large holes on the offensive line.

Draft Day ’09 created the quandary of Mark Sanchez or their eventual choice, Aaron Curry. The other option—and one many Seahawk fans favored—was trading down from that spot to allow them to grab Eugene Monroe or Michael Oher later in the first round.

Instead of looking at the offensive line with their second round pick, they traded forDenver’s 1st round pick in 2010 (which turned into Earl Thomas). As good a move as that was, fans were amazed that yet another draft would pass with nothing done on the offensive line.

A little luck fell into place when Max Unger was unexpectedly available in the middle of the second round. Seattle acquired the 49th pick from Chicago to draft him. When the dust had settled, Seattle surrendered the fifth selection in the second, third and fourth rounds and left with the guy they needed in the second round and Denver’s first pick in 2010. These two second round maneuvers would become one of a few bright spots on Ruskell’s record in Seattle, even if slanted with a bit of luck.

The 2010 draft brought the Pete Carroll era to Seattle. He and John Schneider had as good an initial draft as anyone, albeit with a little luck of their own along the way.

First, enter the fortune of having Russell Okung slip to them at the No. 6 spot. The fairytale continued when Earl Thomas also dropped down the board to Seattle holding the aforementioned 14th pick acquired from Denver.

Relative to Seattle using the sixth pick in 2010 on a tackle, a certain writer (OK—it was me) said the following:I don’t want to take anything away from Russell Okung. He will be an elite LT, and is the class of this draft. He looks solid in every aspect of the game, and will be a Pro Bowler at some point in his career. If he is there at No. 6 he will be a Seahawk. But three of the five teams picking ahead of Seattle need a LT, so there is no real chance he’ll slide that far.”

So much for casting draft selections a few weeks ahead of time. In my defense, I did predict this scenario unfolding the morning of the draft, as Washington started to tip their hand on their plans to take Trent Williams.

 

Present

Okung figures to be one of the top left tackles in the league for years to come. Even hobbled with high ankle sprains, he was able to shut down elite defensive ends his rookie season, and blocked with agility and power in the running game (just ask Brian Urlacher, who didn’t take kindly to being knocked through the end zone by Okung).

The RT position is a little more fluid. Stacy Andrews, at 6’7” and 340 pounds, wanes in a gray area. Will he regain his prior form with a move back to RT, or continue to muddle through false starts, holding penalties and some missed blocking responsibilities that plagued him at RG?

To be fair, his size isn’t exactly typical for a guard. The move back to RT should be favorable for him. Given Andrews’ age, he is worth the risk. If he can regain the form that impressed the Bengals enough to franchise tag him, he could be an anchor on the right side for several more years.

Should Andrews not return to prior form, he will have solid competition from Ray Willis. While missing the 2010 season due to injury, he was the only offensive lineman to start every game for Seattle in 2009. Willis has also shown he can perform well at the guard positions.

As for the three interior slots—Max Unger will certainly occupy one of them. I expect him to take over at center, the position he was drafted to play. Things get murky from there, though.

Locklear, Spencer and Tyler Polumbus are all unrestricted free agents. Locklear appears to be on his way out, as he struggled most of the season with the new run blocking scheme. However, he did seem to catch his stride the last few games of the season, and fans should brace themselves for the possibility that he could be re-signed by the Seahawks. Giving him one more chance to perform under Cable wouldn’t be the worst outcome.

Spencer and Polumbus are more likely to fit into Seattle’s future plans. Spencer had a decent season for Seattle, but not spectacular. This should make him an inexpensive option to return and compete for a starting position and offer depth.

Nate Solder struggled with quick DEs.

Polumbus has shown flashes of brilliance as he’s bounced around the O-Line as an injury replacement.  Mike Gibson has shown himself to be solid and versatile since Seattle acquired him in ’09, but not spectacular. Along with Willis, all three can compete for the guard positions and offer depth at tackle.

 

Future

Many fans want to see Seattle draft linemen early again this year. This is understandable with the manner in which the Ruskell era handled—or didn’t handle—the position. Seattle definitely needs to add a bruising run blocker, either in the draft or through free agency.

Tom Cable, Seattle’s new offensive line coach, provides a logical tie from his former team. The Oakland Raiders have voided the final two years of Robert Gallery’s contract, clearing the way for Bruce Campbell to get some playing time. Gallery has credited Cable with reviving his NFL career when he moved him to guard and dedicated coaching time to him.  It is almost a foregone conclusion that Cable will convince Carroll and Jon Schneider to sign Gallery, providing the bulk and attitude he wants on his line.

Shoring up their O-Line with current players and via free agency would leave Seattle free to pursue other glaring needs in the draft.

Most notably, Seattle needs help at CB, still doesn’t have a long-term plan at QB and could desperately use a nose tackle that can apply pressure on opposing QBs. It is likely that a quality option for one of these positions will be available with the 25th pick.

Elite tackle options in this draft appear to be thin. There is a volume of what look to be quality picks, but none have differentiated themselves at this point. The combine will allow someone to step up, and I see that person as Tyron Smith. He looks solid against the run and can take on fast and strong defensive ends in the passing game. The concern is that at 285 pounds he lacks NFL size. There are reports that he has beefed up to 305 pounds, though.  Editor’s Note: Smith reported to the NFL Combine at 307 lbs. and was carrying the weight well.

If Smith can sustain his mobility at the higher weight, I expect him to be the elite offensive tackle in the draft.  He’ll be gone before Seattle’s pick though, so better value will be available at other positions.

My concerns with the tackles in this draft have come under scrutiny by some readers. I stand by my assessment (for now at least), and I’ll provide a more detailed summary on the options following the combine.

Offensive guard might be a more difficult decision. It is possible that Mike Pouncey, G/C Florida, will be available. He has great size and holds the mental and physical traits to play the three interior positions. I contend his biggest strength though, is his twin brother—Maurkice certainly worked out well in Pittsburgh.

If available, Pouncey will be a tempting option, but one I hope Seattle avoids. He moves well enough to get to the outside in the college running game, but I’m concerned he lacks the speed necessary to do so in the NFL. He is a solid blocker, but at times gets beat due to an apparent lack of concentration. He could be great in the NFL, but also has the potential to fall far below the bar set by his brother.

The drop from Pouncey to the second best guard in the draft doesn’t figure to be significant, and Seattle can likely draft Rodney Hudson or Danny Watkins with their pick in the second round—I am a proponent of this approach.

Don’t fret Seahawks fans. The O-Line is a lot closer to being good than many realize. The addition of Cable should add the toughness needed to get them over the hump. He was able to push five non-descript linemen in Oakland to one of the best rushing attacks in football.

His presence alone will make a difference in the ground game, and Seattle’s pass blocking was much improved in 2010. Even with a less-than-nimble Matt Hasselbeck taking most of the snaps, and the use of 10 different starting lines, the team only gave up 35 sacks. While not elite, it still placed them in the middle of the NFL.

Seattle needs to dedicate a few high draft picks to the offensive line very soon. The 2012 draft looks a lot more promising to get help at tackle, and waiting a year will also reveal if Andrews, Willis, or Polumbus can seize the RT position.

The second round of the 2011 draft looks to be a good time to grab a quality guard. What to do with their first pick?

 

2011 Seattle Seahawks: Expectations for Free Agency and the NFL Entry Draft

Originally posted on Bleacher Report on February 14, 2011
Written by Darin Pike

Pete Carroll inherited a difficult task when he returned to the NFL to become head coach and executive VP of football operations for the Seattle Seahawks. Make that two difficult tasks, actually.

Executive VP of Football Operations
He joined forces with John Schneider to overhaul depleted talent following several years of poor drafting and a rash of injury woes. They utilized aggressive roster moves before, during and after training camp to upgrade talent and trim some excess fat in player and salary ranks.

If not for the uncapped year, the 300 roster moves would not have been possible, and Seattle wouldn’t be in the situation it is now…able to continue a roster overhaul during the 2011 offseason.

Head Coach
The Seahawks were led by coaching legend Mike Holmgren for a decade. In one short year, it became evident what he meant to his former team. During the 2009 season, players and coaches were seldom on the same page. Jim Mora routinely questioned player performance in the public eye. Rather than take responsibility for his shortcomings, he passed blame to those under him.

The team needed a leader on the sidelines they could trust; that is exactly what they received with Carroll.

The return to the playoffs (and notching a win in front of the home crowd) was a solid first step. They have something to build on and significant salary room to do so.

Seahawk fans should have immense optimism heading into free agency and the draft, provided the NFL can get a labor agreement in place. Over the coming weeks I’ll be writing a series of articles on the following position groups, detailing what Seahawk fans should anticipate from their team.

Editor’s Note: Since published, the NFL has endured two extensions and no labor agreement.  Seattle will likely head into the NFL Draft without having the opportunity to solidify several key needs due to their Free Agents: Quarterback, Offensive Line, and Defensive Line.

 

Offensive Line: Let the Controversy Begin

I figured my initial piece should cover the issue that has plagued the Seahawks for the past four seasons. This article is mostly finished and should be hitting Bleacher Report on Tuesday. Editor’s Note: Article has already been published.

I’ll summarize the actions (or lack thereof) taken by former GM Tim Ruskell. I also offer some perspective on the direction a good GM would have gone and talk about what Seattle needs to do to blow open some running lanes and protect whomever happens to be parked under center for the 2011 season.

Spoiler alert: The solution does not involve a Round 1 draft pick for the offensive line. Fans and analysts have mocked Seattle using first and/or second-round picks to shore up line issues; I have a little different perspective that I believe will make the team better now and in the future.

Those of you envisioning a Mike Pouncey or Derek Sherrod being announced at pick 25 can get ready to tear my piece apart, but please keep an open mind until after you read what I have to say.

 

Quarterback: Is the Future Already Here?

I have to think that most fans that follow the Seattle Seahawks would answer this question, “Heck no”…or perhaps with a little more graphic modifier.

I believe Charlie Whitehurst does have a future in Seattle. That job is likely as a career backup, but an important role all the same. I’ll be looking one step down the depth chart and discussing Nate Davis and how he could figure into Seattle’s long-term QB plans.  Editor’s Note: Since publishing, Nate Davis has been released.

The next step must include some discussion on the NFL draft, versions 2011 and 2012.

As for the present…we have to figure that No. 8 is the best option the team has to win in 2011. I won’t do a complete rehash on why Kevin Kolb isn’t worth two first round picks, but I have begun some comments on what Seattle fans should expect in the short term. The labor discussions do play a role here, as they impact the team’s ability to implement a new signal caller.

Regardless of the direction Seattle takes, the QB position will likely be somewhat unsettled for the next few years. As Seattle upgrades talent on the offensive, anything that can be done to create stability under center will be critical.

 

Shutting Down Opposing Passing Attacks: Role of the DBs

I listed the quarterback quandary before our cornerback issues because the QB is the most important position on the field. However, Seattle has a very pressing need to address the CB and SS positions this offseason.

Steps have already been taken along this path with the addition of Brandon Browner from the CFL, but will that be enough?

Marcus Trufant has put together some very solid performances for the Seahawks. Pete Carroll looked forward to seeing the former Pro Bowl CB during the 2010 season, and at times he did. Slowed by injuries and pain, we also saw a man on the field that was frustrated with a body that didn’t respond as it once did.

Walter Thurmond most certainly figures into Seattle’s plans going forward. Kelly Jennings hasn’t endeared himself to the fanbase, but the same may not be true with the coaching staff. I’ll offer some additional comments on his performance and the backfield as a whole.

 

Shutting Down Opposing Passing Attacks: Generating a Consistent Pass Rush

One pleasant surprise for the Seahawks was Pete Carroll and Gus Bradley’s ability to scheme their way into a pass rush.

At times they frustrated opposing offensive linemen, QBs and offensive coordinators. The sack attack they threw out against the Chicago Bears early in the season was a prime example of generating suffocating pressure off the ends.

To be successful during the 2011 season, Seattle needs to also apply some pressure up the middle. The team as a whole logged a respectable 37 sacks, but a grand total of two came from the nose tackle positions. Two…as in one for Brandon Mebane and one for Colin Cole. While these two were solid against the run, they seemed to do little more than take up space and act as decoys on passing downs.

Seattle needs to re-sign Mebane and look to find a NT that can offer depth and be useful on passing downs. I’ll also discuss the rushing defense and what we can expect from the Seahawks to regain the early success from the 2010 season.

 

Linebackers: The Not-So-Pleasant Surprise of the 2011 Defense

When analysts were attempting to dissect the 2010 Seattle Seahawk defense during training camp, one group that seemed solid was the linebacker corps.

The promise of having Lofa Tatupu, Aaron Curry and Leroy Hill on the field together was inspiring. David Hawthorne provided a solid insurance policy, as he played very well when he had to replace Tatupu during the 2009 season.

Times have changed. The physical phenom in 59, Aaranimal, played with intensity but without focus. Tatupu played hurt most of the season, slowed by knee injuries. Hill…well, at least Seattle was able to renegotiate his contract so it didn’t cost them $5 million for him to sit out another year.

While Seattle seemed to struggle across the board in their passing defense, they were particularly susceptible to being burned by screens and short passes to RBs, along with giving up long gains to opposing tight ends. Some of that falls to the safety positions, but by and large the LB crew was not able to fill holes in pass defense.

Seattle needs to take a strong look at this group and find ways to upgrade talent or improve performance. Carroll has his guy coordinating the unit from the MLB position but won’t hesitate to pull the plug on Lofa if his injury issues aren’t resolved.

 

2011 Offensive Weapons: What to Expect from the RB, WR and TE Positions

Following the three aspects of the defense, I’ll wrap back around to the offensive side of the ball for a conversation on the skill positions. While Seattle lacks elite talent in these areas, they do have solid playmakers at every position.

Given distinct issues at other positions, I would not anticipate significant movement on draft weekend in these areas.

Now…I type that knowing full well it is impossible to predict what Pete Carroll will do or find on draft day. Should elite talent be unexpectedly available, you can be sure he won’t let the player slide past his grip.

I’ll look forward to comments and discussion on pending personnel moves as I release each individual article. I’ll particularly be interested in thoughts on the QB position, be it now or after that piece is published. I’m not overly comfortable with any of the first round QB prospects in this draft. I’ll just say there is a lot of potential there—potential for greatness and potential to bust. Big time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Hope I can Add to Your Reading Experience…

Thank you to Brett for the invitation to offer some content on NWPS12.com.  I’ve been writing for Bleacher Report, and will be porting some of the relevant articles here.

I’ll be posting several articles today (sorry for the deluge).  I will also be adding weekly “Blue Friday” posts on the Seahawks’ draft needs heading up to the NFL Draft starting April 28th.

I look forward to your feedback and sharing thoughts and ideas on professional sports in our area.  Feel free to contact me with questions or article ideas…or if you think I’m nuts, which I’ve been accused of.  A few examples—I don’t think Pouncey or Solder are worthy of first round consideration at all, and I think Gabbert is as over-rated as a QB can get.  I could be wrong on that, but I was ripped pretty good for saying Anthony Davis was over-rated last year and he would need a few years at least to be considered a decent OT…and even then he should be considered a guard.

Anyway, a healthy dialog is a good thing.  I look forward to sharing with the community.

Quarterback Situation

2010 was not the year of the quarterback for the Seattle Seahawks. Starting Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck tied his career high in interceptions (17) and for the first time during his time in Seattle averaged one touchdown or less per game. Charlie Whitehurst saw the first real action of his career playing in 6 games and starting 2.

Matt Hasselbeck has been the starter for the Seahawks during the most successful decade of the franchise. He holds the franchise record in Passing Yards, Passer Rating, Pass Completions, Completion Percentage and most 300 and 400 yards passing games. He is the only quarterback in franchise history to win a Championship game and should have been the first and only Quarterback to win the Super Bowl. He had a terrible year and for the most part looked like he was washed up and just didn’t have enough on his arm anymore, not that he ever had a strong arm. He was missing bad on easy throws and when he wasn’t doing that he seemed to be making stupid ones. We heard boo’s from the crowed at Qwest and chants for backup QB Charlie Whitehurst. As disappointed as the fans were he’s very proud and a competitor and the more he tried to fix the problem the more he pressed and his game got worse. After sitting on the bench watching Charlie manage  the seasons finale game against the favored Stl. Rams and winning for the first time in his career propelling the 7-9 Seahawks into the playoffs. The media speculated all week until Head Coach Pete Carroll announced the Matt would start the home playoff game against the New Orleans Saints. Matt went out and played one of the best games of his career that night posting a 113 passer rating that would have been even better if not for a pass bouncing off WR Ben Obamanu’s hands that was intercepted on the Seahawks first possession and a few dropped passes at important times along the way. Even in the playoff loss to Chicago the next week Matt played well with a 94.3 passer rating with 3 TD’s and no Picks.

The one move I was unhappy with during the offseason last year was giving the Chargers everything they wanted and not even trying to negotiate during the trade for their thirds string QB a guy who had been in the league for five seasons and had yet to throw a pass. A third round draft pick for a guy who was a backup for the backup most of his career with no real game experience seemed steep at the time but if I had known then that it would take that player having the game he did against the Rams week 17 to set up the most memorable game I have been to at Qwest, or any other stadium for that matter, I would have been more then happy to give up that pick and swap the others. They also swapped picks last year moving down from 40th to 60th where they selected Golden Tate. The Chargers traded that pick to Miami who drafted Linebacker Koa Misi.

Charlie showed that he has a big arm, much stronger then that of the aging Hasselbeck ever had, and an extremely quick delivery. He has the ability to hit every throw on the fields and usually keeps the ball in the lines giving his receivers a chance to make a play. He seemed to progress throughout the season but at this point does not appear to be the long term answer Pete Carroll and John Schneider had hoped he would when they traded for him.

The only quarterback currently on the Seahawks roster is Charlie Whitehurst, despite the teams effort to re-sign Matt while they had exclusive negotiation rights. There is still a good chance Matt will end up the Seahawks starting QB at the beginning of the season and the Seahawks are likely to add another QB in the draft. If the two sides cannot come to some sort of an agreement (reports have him wanting up to twice as much time at twice the salary per season that the Seahawks are offering) there will be a few options in free agency that could provide the stop gap between now and when a young QB can be ready to take over (this will be covered in a later post as well as a look at the draft class). You could also see the Seahawks trade for Kevin Kolb (1,197 yards 7 TD’s and 7 INT’s last year behind a much better line with better receivers), which I would like to see if it is a straight swap for the 25th pick. That is roughly the same amount the Seahawks gave Green Bay when they acquired Matt. They could also trade the Redskins for Donovan McNabb (3,377 yards 14TD’s and 15 INT’s only a 58.3% completion percentage) but I see this as the least likely of the trade options. If the Bengals are willing to parts ways with Carson Palmer (3,970 yards 26TD’s 20 INT’s and he is 31 will turn 32 towards the end of the Season). He would provide the Seahawks with a 4 or 5 buffer to find a great young QB and groom him to be the long term starter and rejoin former college coach Pete Carroll and come play for Seattle.

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