May 29, 2011

Bobby and Darrell

A few days ago on twitter I started a conversation about which Holmgren-era Seahawks would end up in the Ring of Honor someday, and I came up with Mike Holmgren, Walter Jones, Matt Hasselbeck, Shaun Alexander, Mack Strong, Lofa Tatupu and Marcus Trufant (That list by itself, and how I came up with it, might warrant another post soon). I asked my followers if I was missing anyone, and a chorus arose of "Bobby Engram!"

I love Bobby Engram. He was a great 3rd-down receiver, and his career year in 2007 (perhaps the best single season for any WR in team history) helped the Seahawks win the NFC West and reach the divisional playoffs. The dude is also a class act by all accounts- Add that all up and you've got a fan favorite... But not someone deserving of the Ring of Honor, in my opinion. Among other reasons is this simple fact: By almost every statistical metric, Darrell Jackson had a better Seahawks career than Engram, but NO ONE (not even me) is arguing for D-Jack's name to be placed up there at the rim of the 300 level. Let's check the numbers:

109 games, 399 catches for 4859 yards and 18 TDs

96 games, 441 catches for 6445 yards and 47 TDs

Dang! It's not even close. But there's more- What about post-season play? Not only does D-Jack have more catches, yards, and TDs in three fewer Seahawks playoff games than Engram- He also has more signature moments- The TD that jolted the Seahawks to life against DC in the 2005 Divisional Playoffs, and the TD that pretty much put the Panthers down for good in the NFC Championship Game. Finally, you know how Engram had that amazing 2007 season? Well D-Jack's 2003 and 2004 seasons were damn near exactly the same statistically.

But wait, you say! Darrell Jackson dropped a ton of passes! True- But back in 03-04 ALL Seahawks receivers dropped a crapload of passes, including maybe the single biggest drop in franchise history (skip forward to 2:47 mark):

Bobby Engram seemingly gets a free pass from most Twelves for that dropped pass- Why? Another thing I've heard is that Engram did the dirty work going over the middle. True- But D-Jack didn't? He went over the middle too, risking serious injury (and suffering it in this case):

Jackson also had perhaps the greatest game of his career just hours after his father's death in a must-win contest at Minnesota in 2004. As I wrote back then:

-To Darrell Jackson, who had one of the best games of his life despite the death of his father this morning. Like all Seahawks fans, I find his bouts of the dropsies infuriating.. But this dude is a warrior, and he is showing why we gave him that big contract this offseason.. I’ll be sporting my D-jack jersey around town tomorrow…

Does that sound like someone unworthy of some Twelve adoration?

My point is less about Bobby Engram or Darrell Jackson than about how we as fans decide which players we like and which ones we don't. I heard multiple people argue that Engram was simply more "likeable," or that he was someone you'd want to have over for dinner. What did D-Jack do or not do to fall into a lesser category among most Seahawks fans? I haven't heard anything concrete from anyone, beyond some vague chatter about Jackson not being "loyal" or a "team player." If there is hard evidence for any of the negativity around D-Jack, I haven't yet seen it. Anyone care to take a real stab at explaining why Engram became a fan favorite and Jackson didn't? Frankly, this has always flummoxed me.

What do you think, sirs?

May 16, 2011

Tangent Universes: Seahawks Bolt for L.A., Reach AFC Championship Four Years Later

In sad commemoration of the Oklahoma City Thunder reaching the NBA's Western Conference Finals, here's some alternate history of what might have happened had Referendum 48 failed to pass in June 1997- Followed by Paul Allen letting his option to buy the franchise lapse, and a swift move to the L.A. Coliseum for the 1997 season... No matter how ugly or long this lockout might get, we still have our Seahawks, and that's something, right? Enjoy?


Associated Press, January 14, 2001

The City of Angels is abuzz with talk of a possible trip to the Super Bowl for the L.A. Blackhawks, who host the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC Championship Game today in the final NFL game to be played at the L.A. Coliseum. It's a different story in Seattle, where fans of the former Seahawks have to watch from afar while their former team reaches for championship glory.

The tale is told this way in the Pacific Northwest: Californian Ken Behring bought the Seattle franchise in 1988, and after almost a decade of sub-par football and mismanagement, he used falling ceiling tiles in the Seattle Kingdome as an excuse to attempt to move the team to California- Microsoft Co-founder Paul Allen agreed to buy the team in 1996, but only if a new stadium was built for the team. After a public vote on a new stadium failed by less than one percent of the vote, Allen voided his option and Behring quickly moved the team to Los Angeles and rechristened them the "Blackhawks."

L.A. fans saw the Coliseum's new tenants get off to a dreadful start, finishing 2-14 in their tumultuous inaugural season, punctuated by Cortez Kennedy's holdout (based on the claim he signed a contract to play with the SEATTLE Seahawks) and eventual trade to the Dolphins. However, that performance put them in position to draft All-Pro QB Peyton Manning with the #1 pick in the 1998 NFL draft. In January 1999, Green Bay Packers coach Mike Holmgren was lured to L.A. by millions of dollars and the promise of total command of the Blackhawks' football operation. After a 9-7 campaign ending in a Wild Card loss to Miami last season, L.A. now finds itself one win away from a trip to Super Bowl XXXV in Tampa.

A crowd of well over 90,000 fans is expected today for the Coliseum's final NFL game (the Blackhawks move into the 70,000 seat Behring Stadium at City of Industry next fall), many of them still delirious after L.A.'s dramatic Divisional Playoff overtime win over the Coliseum's former tenants: The Oakland Raiders. After a brief absence, L.A. is a football town once again, embracing young stars like Manning, left tackle Walter Jones, and rookie running back Shaun Alexander.

In Seattle there is little goodwill towards the former Seahawks- Most former Seahawk fans actually rooted for THE RAIDERS last week, by all accounts. On the streets of Seattle, attention has turned to the NBA's Sonics and baseball's Mariners (who just moved into their own new stadium, despite losing a public vote much like the Seahawks did). Efforts to lure an existing or expansion franchise to Seattle seem stillborn without a new stadium, so it appears that the Seahawks' 20 seasons in Seattle are destined to be an NFL footnote (beyond the career of Seattle's lone Hall-of-Famer, Wide Receiver Steve Largent).

Los Angeles is on the verge of seeing an NFL team reach the Super Bowl for the 3rd time, something that will likely never happen for NFL fans in Seattle.

May 13, 2011

The Case for Carson Palmer

Oh, the crushing boredom and despair of the lockout... It's reduced us to endlessly debating who will be Seattle's starting quarterback this fall. Given that the lockout will probably drag into at least late June in the best-case scenario, we've still got plenty of time to mull this decision that we have A) no control over and B) has probably already been made.

In any case, here's my current take on the Seahawks' QB scenario...

While I still nurse a crush on Kevin Kolb, it seems unlikely that he will come to Seattle, given the cost in draft picks to acquire him. The same logic applies to Kyle Orton. A lot of the other options out there (Vince Young, McNabb, Bulger, Leinart, etc) would be obvious downgrades from Matt Hasselbeck, so they can be dismissed fairly easily (which also, in my opinion, eliminates Charlie Whitehurst from serious contention to be Seattle's starting QB).

I firmly believe it will come down to either Matt Hasselbeck or Carson Palmer. WILL Palmer come to Seattle? Maybe not. Mike Brown is a moron who might not be able to put aside his ego and get some sort of compensation for a player who has given him almost a decade of service and wants to move on. In another scenario, Cincy might ask too high a price for Palmer- anything more than a 3rd rounder and change wouldn't make any sense from Seattle's perspective. But SHOULD the Seahawks try to get Carson Palmer at the right price? Hell yeah they should.

That might sound like disloyalty from a Matt Hasselbeck fanboy like myself, but the reality is pretty stark: Carson Palmer would give the Seahawks a better chance to be competitive, and for a longer period of time, than you could expect from Matt Hasselbeck. If we cannot land Palmer, Hasselbeck is BY FAR the best plausible "plan B," and I firmly believe that the Seahawks will not be caught unprepared. Don't be a sucker- The front office probably already knows whether they will be able to get Palmer or not, and are (wisely) not going to tip their hands before the lockout ends. Once the NFL year starts, expect either a trade for Palmer or the signing of Hasselbeck to be announced within 24 hours.

So why Palmer over Hasselbeck?

You've heard a lot about how Palmer had a "terrible" 2010 season, right? That "terrible" season saw Palmer throw for 3,970 yards and 26 TDs. That's more yards than Hasselbeck has thrown for in ANY season (though he came close in 2007), and Beck has matched or exceeded 26 TDs only twice in his career (2003 and 2007). Yes, Palmer threw 20 interceptions last year... but Hasselbeck threw 17 while only counter-balancing them with 12 TD passes.

The bottom line? Palmer's "terrible" 2010 season was FAR better than anything we've seen from Hasselbeck since 2007. Yes, Palmer would have to learn a new system and build a rapport with our WR corps (meaning a long lockout dragging into the fall might tip things back in Hasselbeck's favor), but I still see more upside from Palmer at QB than Hasselbeck for the Seahawks.

Some more numbers to chew on: Which QB has a higher career passer rating, completion percentage, and TD percentage? Carson Palmer. Team success is really the only metric where Hasselbeck CLEARLY tops Palmer... But Palmer PLAYS FOR THE FUCKING BENGALS. Can you really put all the blame for that on him? You might say that Palmer is injury-prone... Um, it's not like Hasselbeck is some Brett Favre-esque Iron Man either.

The final, decisive bit of info? Palmer is 4 years younger than Hasselbeck, and is far more likely to keep Seattle competitive in the years after 2011 while the new franchise QB is presumably drafted and groomed to take over (probably in 2013 or '14).

What am I missing, guys? How is acquiring Palmer for a couple mid-round picks NOT the obvious way to go in terms of solving our short-term QB issues? Enlighten me.

May 1, 2011

Seahawks Draft Grade? A+++/F-/Who the Fuck Knows?

If you're looking for informed analysis of the Seahawks' 2011 draft, this is the LAST blog you should be reading. I'm not a college football fan, and I don't have the time, energy or desire to become a committed draftnik- To be brutally, embarrassingly honest? I had NEVER heard of any of the players we drafted until the picks got announced. So, if the standard of evaluation for the Seahawks' draft is "getting college players I happen to have heard of," Seattle failed miserably.

Thankfully, despite what Trent Dilfer or Mel Kiper think, that's NOT how draft classes are evaluated- They are judged by team success down the line. Plenty of folks outside the cloistered walls of The World Wide Leader think that Carpenter and Moffitt are going to help the Seahawks get meaner, nastier and more effective at running the ball. Among our later picks, we seem to have gotten a bunch of athletic (if raw) prospects- They might all end up playing arena ball in a couple of years, but if 4 or 5 of them end up making significant contributions this will end up being a worthwhile draft class.

The national media types are aghast that we didn't reach for a QB like the Vikings did with Christian Ponder, but I am totally fine with it- NONE of the QBs in this year's draft looked like the type of player who could lead Seattle to the Super Bowl, and assuming that the front office has a plan to install Palmer, Kolb or Hasselbeck under center, I think it's ok to wait another year to find that franchise QB.

My first choice is still to make deal for Kevin Kolb, but that seems unlikely at this point. I prefer Carson Palmer to bringing back Matt Hasselbeck ONLY if we can get him for something like the terms mentioned on Seahawks Draft Blog: A 5th and a conditional 3rd. At that price, I think he's worth it, and would give us a longer "bridge" to the eventual Franchise QB. If the Palmer deal doesn't happen, I'm perfectly happy to see Hasselbeck return- What I DON'T want to see is Charlie Whitehurst as our 2011 starter (shudders).

The problem is this stupid fucking lockout. If the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals upholds Nelson's injunction, we should get back to relative normalcy soon. If they permanently reinstate the lockout? Get ready for that 14-game season starting in October that I wrote about last week, which would SERIOUSLY complicate any attempt to bring in Palmer, Kolb, Orton or any other outside QB- A long lockout vastly increases the chances that Hasselbeck will be re-signed by Seattle, given his familiarity with Seahawks personnel, etc.

So root for a ruling favorable to the players union, ya bastads! What do you think, sirs?