HEY, TWELVES! Stop pretending to care about the perpetually underachieving Mariners, because it’s time to get ready another year of SEAHAWKS FOOTBALL! [chugs coffee, opens first Red Hook]
The Hawks will look to pick up right where they left off after a thrilling Super Bowl XLIX victory over the New England Patriots, or the New England Cheatriots, as they’re known around my house between the months of September and February! What a game. I get chills entirely unrelated to this dreary, gray Seattle day when I think about it. Just when Tom and the Deflators were ready to crack open tall boys of lukewarm Boston Lager and celebrate, Russell Wilson pulled it off again, leading the defending champs on a 90-yard two-minute drill punctuated by a bruising, one-yard touchdown from Marshawn Lynch, who, with a level of ease bordering on the comically indifferent, stiff-armed a feeble tackle attempt by otherwise-anonymous Cheatriots rookie Malcolm Butler (since cut this offseason) and then led all 15,000 fans seated behind the end zone in a synchronized leaping crotch grab that made Joe Buck’s head explode on national television. Memories! And that was NOTHING compared to the Super Bowl MVP press conference that Lynch then delivered! For a guy who was so famously reticent to speak with the media during the regular season, I found his proposed interventions to solve the Greek financial crisis at least as compelling as his reactions to the Patriots’ attempts to force him to the edge on first and second downs. What a thoughtful fellow.
But look, that was the past, and this is not the time to dwell on the past (note: as usual, the time to dwell on the past will be at today’s regularly scheduled discussion of Super Bowl XL and a number of dubious calls made by closeted Steelers booster Bill Leavy, who undoubtedly single-handedly cost the Seahawks the game with his ineptitude, which I assume is directly related to his myriad failures as a husband, father, and son). As Russell Wilson probably repeatedly mutters every morning while staring at himself in the mirror, “This is a new season, and we have to earn it, #EARNIT, and hey when do you guys think Ciara will realize that she is catastrophically out of my league, I hope not soon.” Let’s recap the offseason and take an early look at how this fall will likely play out.
Notable new arrivals:
- Jimmy Graham. Jimmy Graham! Jimmy Graham. If I had one gripe about the Seahawks last season, and I want to be clear that if I had this gripe it would be only the tiniest of gripes, it’s that their passing offense had trouble, very occasionally, on a few unremarkable instances, maybe, in the red zone? No, no, I’m not criticizing, I’m just suggesting! Please don’t take my Red Hook away! Anyway, that’s all irrelevant now, because of course Jimmy Graham completely and unambiguously solves that problem. As recent Seahawks franchise history has shown, there is absolutely no downside to giving up a first-round draft pick in order to import a flashy, highly-paid receiver in order to take the offense to the NEXT LEVEL. Graham is one of the most effective and versatile receiving threats in the NFL whose statistics were almost certainly not inflated by playing in a pass-happy offense led by Drew Brees. In fact, just last week over artisanal coffee-infused water, I giddily told a friend that I expected Graham to rack up about 1500 yards and 23 touchdowns. He guffawed through a mouthful of gluten-free wheat roll and asked whether those projections were for the first half of the season or the second half of the season. Ha-ha! We had a good chortle at that one. When you also consider that the exceedingly durable Graham definitely does not have joints composed entirely of paper mache, and that he’s noted around the league as an exceptional run blocker in addition to a prolific pass catcher, it’s clear as one of the six sunny days in Seattle each year that he will seamlessly integrate himself into the Seahawks’ attackr. I already bought his home and away jerseys, but I think I need the alternate “Wolf Grey” threads, too, just to be safe.
- Tyler Lockett. Another lighting-fast undersized rookie receiver set to become the new kickoff and punt return sparkplug. And so far, Lockett looks as good as advertised, bringing one back 103 years for a touchdown in the first preseason game. This trend can be expected to carry over into the regular season; after all, if there is one thing that teams have down pat during the preseason, it’s the composition of and strategies employed by their kickoff coverage teams. I expect Lockett to make electrifying kickoff returns a weekly event that quickly helps us forget all about Paul Richardson and his one ACL.
- Frank Clark. A quick timeout, like the ones Pete Carroll always astutely takes with the game hanging in the balance in order to make sure that he makes the right decision, for a serious discussion. To be absolutely clear, the Seattle Seahawks franchise has always maintained a zero-tolerance policy with respect to domestic violence, and it takes that commitment particularly seriously as recent events have shone a spotlight on the epidemic of violence in our communities. If someone hits a woman or a child, they are not worthy to suit up for you TWELVES, plain and simple. Alright. That said, the Seahawks went well above and beyond the scope of normal due diligence here, interviewing at least one person who had at least secondhand knowledge of the incident in which Clark allegedly punched a woman and body-slammed her after picking her up by the throat. You’re not going to believe this, but, good news, team officials (who are just like law enforcement officials or courts of law, only wiser) were able to unequivocally conclude that Clark has learned from his mistakes and that this lil’ “brush with the law” was a one-time event. Plus, he’s great at getting after the quarterback! I project ten sacks, three forced fumbles, and three restraining orders from Frank Clark this season.
- Cary Williams. Sure, sure. He may be older than Byron Maxwell, and just as expensive, and not as good, and also literally the guy that the Eagles replaced with Byron Maxwell. But! Williams is a member of the LEGION OF BOOM now, which means he is basically a rabid werewolf with a Beats by Dre deal, and he is going to be a key acquisition for your IDP fantasy league. Defensive backs should feel privileged to take the field with Sherman, Thomas, Kam, and the TWELVES. Just look at how leaving Seattle turned out for Brandon Browner, who committed literal treason by accepting a position with another employer! (To reiterate: it turned out in the aforementioned Super Bowl loss, after which Marshawn Lynch made out with Brandon Browner’s wife at midfield).
Notable returning players
- Russell Wilson. Some critics, who are probably all San Francisco Forty-Whiner fans who can’t stop getting into bathroom brawls that end in comas, have suggested in recent months that a key to the Seahawks’ success of late has been their ability to surround the comparatively cheap Wilson with a bevy of more expensive, high-quality players, and that Wilson’s expensive new deal will therefore somewhat hamper their ability to do so in the future and result in a slow but significant decline in Wilson’s production. To which I say, we’ve never actually seen such a prediction played out with other NFL quarterbacks, and that their point of view is dumb and wrong. Wilson is an elite NFL quarterback. In fact [takes a swig of Red Hook], you could make a strong argument that there is no signal-caller in the history of the league that is better, right now, than Russell Wilson. When you think about that, $80 million and no premarital sex is a bargain, really!
- Marshawn Lynch. I think we can all agree that history shows that bruising, powerful running backs, much like fine wine, only get better with age. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Lynch’s touchdown count match his age (30) this season. And don’t sleep on the rest of the depth chart! Robert Turbin and the profoundly unfortunately named Christine Michael have more than proven themselves as capable runners and would likely each be the feature back were they on literally any other team in the league. If Lynch were to get hurt (no, I’m not sure how that could happen either, but just to be safe let’s assume that a direct hit from a meteor would require that he be kept out for a game as a precautionary measure), I would fully expect those two to pick up 100 yards per game, each.
- The Pedestrians: Doug Baldwin, Jermaine Kearse, Ricardo Lockette, Chris Matthews. Forget about big-name players; these are big-play Of course, Baldwin is a clear #1 guy; Chris Matthews showed us all in the Super Bowl that he’s essentially Randy Moss, but with his own MSNBC show and more political connections; and Kearse figures to only get better after setting up the Super Bowl win with what the East Coast-biased media termed a “circus catch” but that we all know Russell Wilson in fact drew up in the huddle. However, the player I’m most excited for in 2015-16 is Ricardo Lockette. No one, and I mean no one, goes out and gets the pass when it’s thrown to him quite like #83. An aggressive player whose great hands are matched only by his nose for the ball, don’t be surprised to see Lockette standing in the end zone a lot in February. With the ball. After catches. Catches that he made. For touchdowns. Wait, why are you looking at me like that?
- The Legion of Boom. This group only figures to get better now that the four starters are making a combined $32 million in 2013 and accounting for about 25% of the team’s cap space by themselves. A slow and setback-laden recovery from a torn labrum is unlikely to affect Earl Thomas’ aggressive, hard-hitting playing style in the least. Kam Chancellor, on whom the Master Chief character in Halo is loosely based, is still an all-out psychopath on the field who, according to teammates goes to a “dark place” in order to play and “damages people’s souls.” He doesn’t even need that light beam sword to wreak havoc, though admittedly he would probably be awesome with a light beam sword, and we should look into that. Reports indicate that Chancellor hasn’t been seen at camp yet, for some reason, but worry not, TWELVES, I assume he’s just off hunting Anquan Boldin’s ACL for sport! If you see him, please direct him Renton, to which I assume he will report promptly and without a mention of any contract-related grievance. If you happen to have a light beam sword, give that to him, too!
- Byron Maxwell (Eagles). BOOOOOOOOOO. I hope he enjoys bad cheesesteaks, cold winters, and playing for a coach that doesn’t care for African-American players.
- Malcolm Smith. Like he ever did anything for the Seahawks anyway.
- Bryan Walters. BOOOOOOOOOO. Considering his job appeared to consist entirely of calling for fair catches on punt returns and then slowly jogging off the field after flipping the ball to the official, I’m more than over this one.
- Zach Miller. Hold your boos and have some respect, dammit. Zach Miller was awesome, and getting cut after failing a physical when your broken ankle doesn’t heal properly is a legitimately raw deal. If Eagle Hardware and Garden were still around, I would demand that they offer him a lifetime TV commercial.
- Max Unger. BOOO – actually wait, he was pretty good, and both the run blocking and pass protection might be screwed without him acting as the linchpin. Hey, who needs another Red Hook?!
The Hard Questions
- Can Russell Wilson produce to the level of his new contract? See discussion above. He just wins! Look at all those wins! 30-13 over three years (7-1 playoffs) is pretty good. Plus, each of his Super Bowl wins should count as at least five regular wins, and the Monday Night Football victory over the Packers a few years ago (I understand that some people call it the “Fail Mary” game, but those sad, overweight people should spend less time complaining and more time doing something other than electing Scott Walker to pillage their unions). If you don’t think Russell Wilson is an elite quarterback, you are a racist. However, it is also the case Cam Newton and Colin Kaepernick will never be elite quarterbacks.
- Just how offensive will the offensive line be? The price of Jimmy Graham was admittedly steep, even when you consider the 89 touchdowns I project Graham to score this season. In addition to the first-round pick, the Seahawks traded away Pro Bowl center Max Unger, who was by far the offensive line’s best player. For a lesser team (by which I mean any other team), that might present a serious issue. While Wilson is, as irrefutably proved earlier, one of the best quarterbacks to ever play the game, some naysayers are wondering whether he’ll be too busy running for his life to throw to any of the many weapons that surround him. I encourage those naysayers to go watch another Storm game or something. Sure, the Seahawks are bringing guys in off the street to see if they can block anyone, but also, it will all be fine. It’s fine. STOP ASKING SO MANY GODDAMN QUESTIONS.
- How will the loss of longtime defensive coordinator Dan Quinn affect this defense’s production, particularly when its effectiveness in recent years has been so heavily predicated on continuity, players’ knowledge of each other’s tendencies, and their trust in their ability to operate as a unit rather than as a disjointed group of individuals? Huh? What? L-O-B L-O-B L-O-B! [cracks open another Red Hook]
Key Games and Projected Scores
- Week 1: Seahawks 59, Rams 0. A rousing five-touchdown debut for Jimmy Graham. Kam Chancellor, happily employed and not at all disgruntled regarding his contract, murders Tavon Austin as he tries to go over the middle.
- Week 2: Seahawks 7, Packers 0. Just to troll people, Russell Wilson elects not to score until the very end of the game and wins it on a Hail Mary, again. Jimmy Graham catches it. Jimmy Graham catches everything. Jimmy Graham is everything.
- Week 4: Seahawks 35, Lions 6. The return of Golden Tate on Monday Night Football in Seattle. 67,000 fans pelt him with smoked salmon, coffee mug shards, and used Amazon.com gift cards. Golden Tate does NOT go home with Russell Wilson’s woman (Ciara, with whom he is still not having relations).
- Week 7: Seahawks 87, 49ers 0. The 49ers lost all but six players this season, so this is an unfair fight from the starting gun, which is ceremonially fired by Aldon Smith. Jimmy Graham catches four touchdowns and, to win a bet with Pete Carroll, successfully coverts a field goal; Pete Carroll has to admit to the entire team that he knows that 9/11 was not an inside job
- Week 8: BYE. Russell Wilson and Ciara buy a puppy together, which is not a metaphor, it just ends up being a really cute puppy.
- Week 9: Seahawks 56, Cowboys 6. Tony Romo tosses a touchdown in garbage time but can’t convert the PAT because, well, you know.
- Week 11: Seahawks 4, 49ers 0. The Seahawks actually score 104 points, but the scoreboard in Century Link isn’t programmed for triple digits (an egregious oversight given Jimmy Graham’s presence and all), so it resets like old Madden video games. In a motel somewhere, a bleary-eyed Aldon Smith pours a long drink.
- Week 12: Seahawks 21, Steelers 10. In the words of Taylor Swift, “There is nothing I do better than revenge.”
- Week 13: Seahawks 42, Vikings 0. How do you like that poison pill NOW? The answer is probably not very much, not very much at all. Plus, this is for saddling us with Benedict Percy, and not telling us that he was an injury-plagued locker room cancer (how could we have known?!). Russell Wilson gets the day off to not sleep with Ciara, and Tavaris Jackson flexes on his old team to the tune of six touchdowns, all of them to Jimmy Graham.
It’s going to be an exciting road to the three-peat, everyone. Get excited. Unrelated, if you are large and athletic, live in the Seattle area, have some free time on your weekends these days, and think there’s even the remotest chance that you could block someone during a professional football game, I have a really, really good idea for a side job for you this fall.