BY Art Thiel 06:30AM 07/25/2019

Thiel: Hard to see Seahawks better this season

Jarran Reed’s six-game suspension is the sort of thing that cuts the margin of error for the Seahawks, a team that could just as easily have been 6-10 last season.

Some Seahawk is going to have to get after QBs like Dak Prescott, now that it won’t be Frank Clark. / Drew McKenzie, Sportspress Northwest

Making the playoffs in 2018 for the seventh time in coach Pete Carroll’s nine seasons, and for the 12th time in the past 16 years, was certainly a noteworthy feat for the 10-6 Seahawks, particularly given all the changes on the roster and coaching staff. The question after the draft and free agency is: Are they better in 2019?

As training camp opens Thursday in Renton, I’d say no.

That’s in no small part due to the fact that the news this week about Jarran Reed made a weakness weaker.

The breakout 2018 season for the defensive tackle from Alabama will mean nothing until after his six-game suspension is over. He was one of the Seahawks’ four best defenders last season, and only Bobby Wagner is set to return — and he’s in a non-holdout contract holdout.

We may learn more about Reed’s odd circumstances when Carroll addresses the media. Then again, since the episode of domestic violence was alleged by a girlfriend 27 months ago, and only Monday was Reed suspended by the NFL, it’s hard to know who will say what when about anything.

The police officers that investigated the episode at his Bellevue home in April 2017 produced a 57-page report that showed photos of the locked door broken by Reed in order to allegedly grab the victim, plus other evidence and quotes from witnesses. But Bellevue’s city prosecutor eight months later did not take up the police recommendation to file charges, citing insufficient evidence while redacting a full page of explanation.

Reed claimed on social media he “strongly disagrees” with the NFL decision but nevertheless apologized for putting himself in the circumstance. And the NFL has yet to disclose why it took longer to decide the case than it took Robert Mueller to investigate and publish his report on President Trump.

If we set aside the Reed mystery pending further information and return to football, the Seahawks hastily responded Wednesday to their temporary D-line vacancy by signing free agent DT Earl Mitchell, 32 in September. His 10-year career out of Arizona included four years with Houston (third-round pick), three in Miami and two in San Francisco, where last season he started 12 games.

The Seahawks also had more good D-line news when Ziggy Ansah, the free agent pass rusher signed primarily to replace the traded Frank Clark, became available for training camp, since he was not placed on the physically unable to perform list Wednesday. Ansah played in only seven games for Detroit last season before needing shoulder surgery to repair a torn labrum. He probably won’t have much contact practice through the preseason, but his rehab appears on course.

Beyond the D-line to the overall picture, the Seahawks are banking on a passel of young players to deliver abruptly to equal last season’s unexpected success, which in hindsight could easily have gone the other direction.

In the regular season, the Seahawks had seven outcomes of three points or less. They went 4-3, including two wins against woeful Arizona on last-play field goals. If we were to apply the non-scientific but completely reasonable estimate that three-point outcomes involve merely one or two decisive plays, the Seahawks easily could have been 6-10. And for the past seven months I would have been writing is-Pete-Carroll-done-in-Seattle columns.

But with QB Russell Wilson having what might have been his career year, the Seahawks had more fourth-quarter margin with his Hogwarts-level potions, charms and chants. After a 4-5 start, they won six of the final seven to make the playoffs.

Then Seattle lost another three-or-less decision to the 10-6 Cowboys on the road, 24-22, serving to remind all that in the great bloated middle of the NFL, even 10-6 teams can be meh.

Thanks to making Wilson in the off-season the game’s highest-paid player, the Seahawks retain the guy that it takes to make one or two decisive plays. And once they extend the contract of Wagner, the Seahawks will have locked up the roster’s gotta-have guys.

After that, the veterans roster has a bunch of gotta-do guys who showed flashes in 2018 but need to leave the light on in 2019.  The following are Seattle-drafted veteran players of whom much was expected and invested and yet to be harvested:

Defense: DBs Tedric Thompson, Lano Hill, Shaq Griffin; LBs Shaquem Griffin; DLs Reed, Rasheem Green, Quinton Jefferson, Nazair Jones, Jacob Martin.

Offense: OLs Germain Ifedi, Ethan Pocic, Joey Hunt; WR David Moore; TE Nick Vannett; RB C.J. Prosise.

The failure to stick with a team’s own picks is a blow not only on the field but in the front office, because a lot of personal and professional capital goes into each selection.  Future drafts, undrafted free agents, trades and veteran free agency can fill voids. But the assets squandered in the Percy Harvin trade and the Malik McDowell selection stay long lost.

Every team has them. Carroll and John Schneider have hit more than missed; that’s how they reached 89-54-1 in regular season and 9-6 in the postseason.

But as was discussed above, margins between 10-6 and 6-10 are thin. Second-round pick Jarran Reed just made it a little thinner on a Legion of Boom-less Seahawks roster.


YourThoughts

  • WestCoastBias79

    Like last year, it’s all up to the kiddies.

    • Husky73

      ….and Wilson. The Seahawks are one injury away from 4-12. I can’t think of another NFL team so dependent on a single player.

      • WestCoastBias79

        It seems to be the plight of all the high priced QB teams. A competent QB on their rookie deal is one of the best assets in the NFL (Chiefs, Rams, Eagles, Bears etc.)

        • art thiel

          That’s what was said in 2013 when the Seahawks made the SB with a third-round QB who started his first NFL game. Hindsight makes that decision ginormous.

      • 2nd place is 1st loser

        Some guy named Brady comes to mind.

        • Husky73

          Of course, but I think the New England coach and system would (and eventually will) produce an annual championship contender without Brady. I hold that Brady is the GOAT, but so might be Belichick.

          • 2nd place is 1st loser

            Possibly, there are no certainties coming up with another QB like Brady. Besides when Brady leaves I’ll bet a dollar to a doughnut that Belichek won’t be far behind. Camelot will be dead.

      • art thiel

        Packers, Saints.

        • Matt712

          Chiefs, Chargers, and the team who proved the theory the last two seasons: Colts.

          • Husky73

            The Chiefs were competitive before Mahomes. The Chargers have not gotten to the mountain top with Rivers.

        • Husky73

          Yes and yes. But, both teams seem to be deeper overall than the Seahawks. I think both could weather the storm better than Seattle without Wilson.

    • art thiel

      Since there’s increasingly fewer middle-class players, it almost always is the kids, for all teams.

  • tor5

    Here we go again. Every year Art does what is his job: to carefully analyze the players and the stats and the competition and proclaim woe to the Hawks. Fortunately, I’m a 12. I just believe! The Hawks are not the sum of their statistical parts and never have been in the Carroll era. They play with something that the analysts have no way to measure. Of course, I love the great Art Thiel, who so brilliantly dissects the vast world of sport. But why would I live in his rational, logical headspace when it comes to the Hawks? I live in the 12-verse. It’s way more fun, and more often right!

    • Archangelo Spumoni

      Mr. Tor
      Well stated, as usual.
      I fully expected 4-12 last year (or even worse) and was pleasantly surprised; I guess I’m just another bandwagon wannabe make believe weak 12.
      Keep up the good work!

      • tor5

        Thanks! I’m teasing Art a little bit, but it’s remarkable how consistently the Hawks beat expectations. You’d think the expectations would change.

        • art thiel

          It’s true. The skeptics love to dismiss Pete, and he loves being dismissed.

      • art thiel

        The first week in September, give me your pick.

    • art thiel

      I long ago sent my fan passion to Goodwill, where I’m sure it sold for $1.

      But I would like to know what the “something” is, because it moved them beyond my 8-8 forecast to 10-6. What I’m guessing here, and not in the column, was that “something” in 2018 was an unusually weak NFC.

  • coug73

    May expectation is a Super Bowl not one and done playoff appearance.

    • art thiel

      You’ve always been shy in your optimism.

  • Cory Hume

    So negative in July already. Can’t we at least get to the preseason with some hope and optimism?

    • art thiel

      No.

      (but remember, I said 8-8 a year ago and was nearly hooted off the innerwebs)

      • Cory Hume

        Ha. I guess managing expectations is the key to life.

      • Husky73

        I think I said 4-12. Ouch.

  • jafabian

    Coaches will have to really work it this season. Some players won’t have the luxury of being given time to develop. As Mike Holmgren used to say, it’s now time. It seems like they’re about three years away from becoming a solid team. Would like to be proven wrong.