March 18, 2012

Matt Flynn and the Nerve of Assassins

There's a great scene in Clint Eastwood's Unforgiven where Gene Hackman explains how he can be an effective gunfighter without having exactly the quickest draw in the West:

"Look son, being a good shot, being quick with a pistol, that don't do no harm, but it don't mean much next to being cool-headed. A man who will keep his head and not get rattled under fire, like as not, he'll kill ya. It ain't so easy to shoot a man anyhow, especially if the son-of-a-bitch is shootin' back at you."

I would have been a terrible gun thug back in the Old West (or today). I'm jittery, easily rattled and prone to panic. I'd also be a terrible NFL GM thanks to these personality flaws. I'd throw money around without thinking through any sort of long-term plan, I'd reach for positions of desperate need in the draft, and I'd mortgage the future by trading draft picks willy-nilly. Basically, I'd be a more-attractive, bearded version of Dan Snyder- If I ran the Seahawks, y'all would be marching on the VMAC with torches and pitchforks within a year.

Pete Carroll and John Schneider both share DNA with Little Bill Daggett. While fans, talk radio and the football press howled at them to make a giant "splash" in free agency, they coolly and methodically executed their plan. So far, that plan has netted:

-A long term deal for Marshawn Lynch before FA began
-The retention of Red Bryant and Michael Robinson
-The acquisition of potentially elite pass rusher Jason Jones
-Today, the signing of our possible franchise quarterback, Matt Flynn

Flynn's deal is three years long, with $10 million guaranteed and a total value between $19 and $26 million. With this kind of contract, let me break down the best and worst-case scenarios:

Worst: Flynn can't win the job in camp, and sees little action behind Tavaris Jackson in 2012. The Seahawks then prepare to draft a QB in the 1st round of the 2013 draft, who will likely sit for a year while Flynn starts in '13. After 2014, QBOF is installed, and Flynn quietly slinks out of town.

Best: Flynn decisively bests T-Jack in camp, has an impressive first campaign, and leads the Seahawks into the playoffs. There is no need to draft the QB of the future. Matt Flynn PROVES he's the QBOF.

Reality will probably fall between these extremes, but this move is overwhelmingly tilted in Seattle's favor: Relatively low risk with potentially spectacular rewards. PCJS stuck to THEIR valuation of Flynn, and didn't spazz out and just start throwing handfuls of cash at him. *COUGH* Cardinals! *COUGH* Kevin Kolb *COUGH* They were patient, calm and let the market settle before stepping up to make their move. As the bullets whizzed around them, they calmly drew, aimed, and HIT THE FUCKING TARGET.

Not only have the Seahawks found a potential answer to their quarterback problem, they've played free agency perfectly: They've filled major needs without fucking up our cap situation, and have the flexibility to take the best players available in the draft without reaching to plug holes in crazed desperation.

It's really nice to root for a team that's NOT run by incompetent boobs, isn't it? Be thankful, Twelves. Our future is in steady hands.

What do you think, sirs?

March 13, 2012

Red Dawn

The Seahawks didn't get Peyton Manning, and it looks like they won't get Mario Williams either. The good news? We aint the fuckin' Redskins, and our front office knows how to manage the cap and the roster. They know that the team that makes the biggest "splash" as free agency opens often sinks to the bottom of the god damn pool once the games are actually played. Our front office has priced out what they'll spend on each player and they've been INCREDIBLY disciplined in sticking to those numbers.

Red Bryant is a great example of this phenomenon. Many Twelves BEGGED the team to franchise Bryant, but they had a specific notion of what he was worth ($35 million over five years with $14.5 million in guarantees)- They let him go out and test the market, and Big Red came back and took Seattle's extremely fair market-value offer. Our front office did the same thing with Brandon Mebane and Marshawn Lynch, and so far they've been very successful at keeping their own free agents in Seattle. Now the Seahawks will keep the anchor of their elite rushing defense (who is also a kick-blocking machine on special teams), while keeping plenty of cap room to keep improving our pass rush.

What will happen now? Plenty of fans and jabbering talk-radio windbags are already bemoaning the Seahawks' "failure" in this free agency period, but their myopia is as predictable as it is misguided. We've seen this story before: The vast majority of fans and media types DESTROY Carroll's roster moves, but once the games actually get played, the team gets better every season. After one day of free agency, the Seahawks have retained their single most important UFA, and are in a great position to make additional moves. The fact that Buffalo wants to overpay for Mario Williams or Cleveland wants to overpay Matt Flynn SHOULDN'T change Seattle's strategy, and it won't.

It might not be viscerally satisfying TODAY, but I promise you we'll be smiling on most Sundays this fall. Have faith and know hope, Twelves.

March 4, 2012

The Case for Peyton Manning to the Seahawks

This week Peyton Manning will almost certainly be released by the Indianapolis Colts to make room for presumptive #1 overall pick Andrew Luck. Manning will immediately become the most sought-after free agent in NFL history, and the Seattle Seahawks would be nakedly incompetent if they didn't make a serious attempt to acquire him. Here's why...

First of all, let's dispense with all the usual negativity and fatalistic defeatism you hear from a lot of Seahawks fans. In this case, it's the assumption that Peyton Manning would never want to trudge up to South Alaska to don a Seahawks uniform. This is utter, uncut, unsalted bullshit. Manning MIGHT not want to play in Seattle, but it's idiotic to ASSUME so without even asking the dude. It's worth remembering what the Seahawks have to offer Manning: A billionaire owner, a team in a great salary cap situation, a young, up-and-coming roster (including a punishing defense, Pro-Bowl running back, and potentially elite offensive line), the league's best facilities and fans that make Lucas Oil Stadium seem quieter than an Amish library.

In Seattle, Manning would be instantly adored and not face the same media crush he might in New York, Miami, or DC. If the Seahawks brain trust ever makes their pitch to Manning, it would include a strong argument that coming to Seattle would give Peyton his best shot at winning another Lombardi Trophy. Compare Seattle's roster to Miami, DC, Arizona... to ANY other team who might take a serious run at Manning- the Seahawks are younger, better managed, and already on an upward trajectory. Coming to Seattle is Manning's best shot at a storybook, victorious closing chapter to his career.

Why should the Seahawks want him? Twelves are deeply divided over this, with a vocal faction violently opposed to acquiring Manning. This is madness. The last time Peyton Manning stepped on an NFL field in the 2010 playoffs, he was not in the throes of any sort of decline- He was the equal of Brees, Rodgers, and Brady. If he's healthy (and it sure looks like he's well on his way to a full recovery), one of the greatest QBs in NFL history, still playing at an All-Pro level, would hit the free-agent market. To paraphrase noted NFL expert Bart Simpson, "We'd be stupid NOT to do this!"

With all due respect to Tarvaris Jackson (who I have defended in these pages many times), he's not going to put up this line in 2012: 4700 yards, 33 TDs, and a 91.9 passer rating (those are Manning's 2010 regular season numbers). Manning would instantly make Rice, Baldwin, Tate, BMW, etc MUCH better receivers. He'd be such a frightening passing threat that Marshawn Lynch would suddenly see GAPING holes- Manning would increase Lynch's value and extend his career. Our young offensive line would benefit from Manning's lightning-quick release, and our defense would become even more fearsome if they were regularly playing with the lead.

Since Manning would be a free agent acquisition, adding him wouldn't keep the Seahawks from continuing to build via the draft (and it's not like signing Manning would be keeping the Seahawks from getting Luck or Griffin- They have NO shot at either of those guys anyway). Picking up Manning WOULD eat up a large chunk of our cap space, but I'd rather have one of the greatest QBs of all time than Mario Williams, frankly.

One of the WORST straw-man arguments I've heard out there is "I'd only want Manning if it GUARANTEED a Super Bowl for the Seahawks!" Unfortunately, NO player can do that. Not Tom Brady, or Aaron Rodgers, or Drew Brees. However, adding Manning to the Seahawks would INSTANTLY make Seattle a strong Super Bowl contender, and without mortgaging our future drafts in the process. Yes, it's not a perfect fit in terms of schemes, philosophy, etc... But like the man said "Never let the perfect be the enemy of the good." It might not exactly fit into Pete Carrol's grand plan, but Peyton Manning represents such a unique opportunity to accelerate Seattle's ascent that I'd have to believe he'd be flexible enough to bring #18 (maybe #16 with the Seahawks) out to the VMAC for a workout.

Another specious argument is in regards to Manning's health- The idea is floating around out there that Manning represents some insane injury risk. The truth is that he's already been medically cleared, and it certainly appears that he's regaining his previous arm strength. Once that process is complete, he's no more of an injury risk than any other player- and even if you don't buy that, it's likely that any contract he'd agree to would be structured to protect the Seahawks in the event that he were injured.

Signing Manning would be a risk, but the rewards could be astronomical. Let's not forget one other factor: The risk of letting Manning sign with the Cardinals. Would we rather have Manning throwing TD passes to Doug Baldwin or Larry Fitzgerald for the the next 3-4 years? Do we want to be a team so inflexible, so blinkered, that we let an opportunity like this slip away unpursued?

Mr. Allen- Next week, send your plane out to pick up Mr. Manning. Have Coach Carroll take a look at him. That's all I ask.

What do you think, sirs?