Gather ye rosebuds while ye may
Old time is still a-flying
Robin Williams, in the film Dead Poet’s Society, has the lines above read to his class of naïve teenagers. He is trying to impress on them the opportunity that lays before them. An opportunity that should be grasped full heartedly, and that it not be squandered by inaction or lack of imagination. These are lines that I would like to relay to the Seattle Seahawks. I’d like to think one sleepless night, Pete Carroll flips on his TV and stumbles across this scene, here’s those words, gets captured in the emotion and gasps at this realization: he is pissing away a would-be hall of fame quarterback’s career.
Carroll’s return to the NFL, after a dismal first effort in New England, was greeted with great skepticism. A handful of NCAA star coaches rose to the NFL ranks only to fail, in impressive and well-publicized fashion. Upon his arrival from USC, recency bias suggested Carroll would produce similarly disappointing results. But alas, he and general manager John Schneider spent their first years hitting homerun after homerun: Russell Okung, Earl Thomas, and Kam Chancellor, were all selected in that first year, along with the later traded Golden Tate. The following year they grabbed Richard Sherman and in 2012 Russell Wilson. Schneider and Carroll have done an incredible job in Seattle and deserve high praise for their past efforts. It is the current direction that I am concerned about.
This offseason Carroll, Schneider and Wilson remained three of the team’s constants. What changed, was virtually everything else. Offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell, defensive coordinator Kris Richard, and possible, or likely Hall of Famers Richard Sherman, Michael Bennett and Jimmy Graham. All of these are of course can be justified, given either their performances, price tags or ages. A change was coming, a new course to be set.
The Seahawks seemed to be the last real old-school team to win a Super Bowl in old school style. They stifled offenses with their defense and exhausted defenses with Lynch. All the while Russell Wilson did his best Fran Tarkenton impression, scrambling, extending plays and making the occasional jaw drop. It seemed reasonable that once the tread on the defense and Lynch wore bare, this old school methodology would be abandoned for the new ear. After all, the old school model was abandoned by many for a very good reason. League rules aimed to protect QBs and receivers. It was easier to go over the middle without losing your helmet. And quarterbacks were treated with kid gloves, relative to the bygone era. It seemed the perfect environment for Russell Wilson to thrive.
I have been a Wilson fan from his rookie season. I’ve loved him as a fan and as a dynasty player. He’s fun to watch and often great to own. As an early enthusiast and apologist and had big hopes for Wilson. My theory was that his career arc might play out similarly to another would be Hall of Famer: Tom Brady. Hear me out. In Brady’s first years in the league the Patriots had an above average defense and a running game. They played a version of the aforementioned “old school” football. In this scheme Brady initially acted as game manager who came up big in big moments. As the defense aged and the league matured to the current pass friendly era, the Patriots adjusted. Rather than lean on the defense, the Pats turned to Brady and built around him.
So, it seemed reasonable, that as the Seahawks defense aged and/or became more expensive, as it did this past offseason, they too would also decide that it would be wise to reconsider their philosophy, see the writing on the wall and paly to their strengths. And just as I was rubbing my hands together in anticipation of this new pass happy era, this happened.
Brian Schottenheimer was hired. Since his hiring the new offensive coordinator has offended many with brash and adamant declarations: this team is going to run the ball. He’s certainty is a disappointing and concerning. Schottenheimer has a spotty track record with many stops, few long tenures and little success. Ken Norton Jr, the new defensive coordinator has a briefer, but similar resume, as does Tom Cable replacement Mike Solari. None of the hires suggested new ideas or direction. Rather, it appears Carroll and Schneider are trying to recapture their past glory with the same “old school” recipe.
This was echoed loudly in the first round of the NFL draft when the Seahawks opted to take Rashad Penny. Despite having too many needs to mentioned they opted for the running back. A talented back with undeniable warts, the most notable of which is pass blocking. The pick is curious as the team already had (1) Chris Carson, returning from a recoverable injury, (2) CJ Prosise, also injured, but a recent early draft pick with limited use, (3) Mike Davis, who enjoyed considerable success last season and (4) JD McKissic, who filled in for the injured Prosise in the 3rd down role. It didn’t seem that running back should be a priority so early in the draft. In fact, it seemed that the 2017 group did extremely well considering the fact that they contended not only with the aforementioned injuries, but managed to contribute at all behind what was universally considered one of the weakest offensive lines in the game.
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood and the Seahawks chose “more of the same”. This was their chance to pivot, to hire a coaching staff that would optimize Wilson’s peaking talents, draft an offensive line able to keep him upright, and allow an underrated RB committee a chance to show its value. You would hope they would also draft or sign receivers or tight ends to restock those depleted units. And maybe, if they wanted to go really overboard on the foresight, hire not only a dynamic offensive coordinator, but also an heir apparent to the 66-year old Carroll.
But no, in Seattle they are going to pretend it’s 2012 all over again. This time however, they will may not hit homerun after homerun at the draft, they may not patch together a passable offensive line, or feature a Marshawn Lynch caliber running back. Seattle seems set for mediocrity, or perhaps, complete disaster. They have put off by a year, what most certainly will come to pass in the winter of 2019. This will quite likely be Carroll’s last season as head coach. This will be Schottenhiemer’s only season as offensive coordinator. And that’s a shame. An opportunity to re-energize this once dynasty-aspiring organization seems to have been missed. We can only hope that Wilson survives the coming season, that at least one of Carroll, Schneider or Paul Allen see the errors made this offseason, and redirect their assets to help Russell Wilson carpe diem.
Fantasy-wise – Garbage time
Despite what Brian Schottenheimer adamantly wants, this is a team that will pass far more than it throws. Game scripts will not be kind. There will be 4th quarter comeback attempts. Lots of them. Who stands to benefit? A quick look at the depth chart gives a few answers, it is shockingly thin at receiver and tight end, with a glut of not-quite-proven talent at running back.
So here are the no brainers:
Buy Russell Wilson. Buy Doug Baldwin.
These are simple and straight forward. If they are able to stay healthy, they should put up huge numbers.
Wilson is no secret, obviously. But Baldwin’s ADP on Draft makes him a bargain. I’m a buyer of him in all formats, considerably above ADP.
I’d also buy the extremely cheap Tyler Lockett. The Seahawks depth chart at receiver and tight end is bleak. Lockett has been a long-time fantasy breakout darling, disappointing year after year, largely due to injury. This year with the departure of Paul Richardson and Jimmy Graham, he will be given his best opportunity to succeed yet. I don’t think he will disappoint.
I don’t like Rashaad Penny. And maybe I’m wrong. But with all of the other bodies available at his ADP, I’d much rather spend my draft capital elsewhere. I’ll go one step further though and say I’m not only avoiding Penny, but I’m buying both Chris Carson and CJ Prosise.
Prosise is extremely cheap, and yes, there is some talk that he’s a potential cut. Let’s choose to ignore these whispers and assume it is tough love motivation, more than a telegraphed roster move. It would be hard to imagine the team cutting him lose so early in his career, particularly since the last running back they prematurely gave up on is now the RB1 in Baltimore. Prosise, when healthy has been a capable 3 down back with explosiveness. I will happily stash him as a 3rd down back for PPR purposes, making him worthy of a deep pick in best ball leagues, as well as a good stash for dynasty teams. I’m not expecting the world, but given that his ADP is behind these guys: Adrian Peterson, Jeremy Hill, Jonathan Stewart and Doug Martin, I’m betting that he outperforms expectations by several miles.