Is Geno Smith the Seahawks future QB?

Who is the Seahawks future QB?

By: Brock Wells

All the talk about the Seattle Seahawks since the departure of Russell Wilson has been that the franchise is effectively finished. That it’s time for it to start a structural rebuild. After all, Geno Smith isn’t capable of the kind of quarterback play necessary to compete on a week-to-week basis in the NFL, right? So far, this thinking has turned out to be less true than it may have once seemed. The Seahawks are currently 3-3, and while not exactly setting the league ablaze with that record, they’re right in the mix in the NFC West division.

Beyond that, Smith has performing well on an individual basis. His 73.4 completion percentage leads the NFL, and he’s thrown just two interceptions compared to nine touchdowns. To make sense of these numbers, Wilson’s completion percentage currently sits at 58.6, with five touchdowns and three interceptions. And for all the talk about how much better than the Seahawks the Broncos were supposed to be, Smith’s Seahawks are the better of the two teams.

So, can Smith keep the job as the starting quarterback beyond this season? The answer to that question depends on the way the Seahawks play the rest of the season. Do they continue to exceed expectations and make a run for the postseason, or does the long haul catch up to them and leave them looking like what many thought before the season? Smith is 32 years old, so his best days from an athletic standpoint are likely not in front of him. But there’s more to athleticism to the quarterback position.

Let’s be real for a moment. Russell Wilson is an overrated quarterback. The Super Bowl teams he was a part of were where they were because of one of the greatest defenses in NFL history in the Legion of Boom. Wilson was good. He’s never been great. So, what if Geno Smith was just never that bad a quarterback and Wilson was just surviving based on reputation? The Seahawks aren’t truly in that different a position than they’ve been in over the last several years. They’re in a division with a Cardinals team that’s just getting its footing with the return of DeAndre Hopkins, a Rams team that has yet to steer the ship right, and a 49ers team has the same record as they do.

Smith’s job will be secure if the Seahawks win games and find themselves in the playoff picture in a couple of months. But if the team falls off in the second half of the season, it wouldn’t be unreasonable for the front office to make a decision to bring in a younger quarterback, perhaps from the 2023 NFL Draft. As simple as it might seem, his future is truly in his own hands. No one seems to have a good insight into what this Seahawks team actually is.

Ranking the NFC West Quarterbacks right now

Who is the best NFC West quarterback in 2022?

By: Andy Davies

The NFC West was considered the elite division in the NFL as little as a year ago but things have progressed since, despite having the current Super Bowl champions in the Los Angeles Rams. 

Russell Wilson is no longer in the division, and no one quite knows who will be the QB1 in San Francisco. 

But who is the divisions best quarterback? Here are the rankings of the NFC West quarterbacks from best to worst.

Matthew Stafford (Los Angeles Rams)

What better place to start than with the QB1 of the Super Bowl Champions. Whilst Stafford was not the reason the Rams won Super Bowl 56 over the Cincinnati Bengals, with 3 touchdowns, and 2 interceptions, he was certainly the final piece of the jigsaw as the Rams hoisted the Lombardi Trophy for the first time since the 1999 season. 

The Rams were always contenders, making it all the way to Super Bowl 53, but there was always something missing at the quarterback position. Jared Goff did well but even he would admit he was probably not good enough to take the Rams where they needed.

He was traded to the Detroit Lions in exchange for Stafford and the rest is history. Stafford had reached the postseason on three previous occasions, but each time came up short at the first attempt. His lack of playoff wins was a factor pointed out by sceptics when he arrived but when the Rams made the playoffs, Stafford showed why the team gave up so much to get him. In four games, he threw for 1,188 yards, 9 touchdowns and 3 interceptions as well as having a 70% completion percentage (98 from 140).

In the regular season, Stafford also impressed. Only Tom Brady (43) threw for more touchdown passes (41), with Stafford throwing for the third-most passing yards (4,886)

Stafford is clearly the choice for the number one spot on this list and it will take a lot for the other players in this list to catch him up.

Kyler Murray (Arizona Cardinals)

Murray’s future is unclear, with his fifth option exercised but no longer-term deal in place at time of writing. 

The 2019 first overall pick has shown signs of his potential but is yet to fulfil this on a consistent basis. In three seasons, he has thrown for 11,480 yards, 70 touchdowns and 34 interceptions, whilst also recording  1,786 rushing yards and 20 rushing touchdowns. 

A trend of Murray’s career so far is starting off the season well but tailing off down the stretch. He will need a big year to convince the Cardinals front office that he is the player moving forward. Either way, he still remains second on this list.

Jimmy Garoppolo (San Francisco 49ers)

When the 49ers lost to the Rams in the NFC Championship game back in January, it was seen by many to be the end of Jimmy G in San Francisco. However, he is still on the team.

Having missed OTA’s due to rehab on his shoulder,  he has yet to be traded. Say what you want about Jimmy G, but he wins games. Simple as that. Whilst he has never been the reason for the 49ers winning games, he is a very serviceable quarterback. With uncertainty over Lance after reports of the organisation being underwhelmed, Garoppolo is the right guy to be under centre for the 49ers in week one. 

Drew Lock/Geno Smith (Seattle Seahawks)

Whether it is Lock or Smith, there is no way they aren’t at the bottom of this list. Lock has a great start to life in the NFL, when he started for the Denver Broncos towards the end of the 2019 season, his 2020 and 2021 campaigns flattered to deceive. Meanwhile, Smith has been a backup for most of his career. Neither of these quarterbacks, whoever starts against the Broncos in week one, are likely to inspire confidence from fans or the Seattle coaching staff. 

Expect the Lions, Eagles, and Texans to have the worst records in 2021

The worst NFL teams in 2021 will be…

By: Andy Davies

Plenty of uncertainty surrounds the Detroit Lions, Philadelphia Eagles, and Houston Texans going into the 2021 season. Their quarterback situations are far from clear and their overall rosters are mediocre at best.

The same goes for their head coaches, with all three going into their first seasons at the franchise. Neither of Dan Campbell, Nick Sirianni, or David Culley has been a full-time head coach in the NFL. Campbell is the only one to have some experience, with his spell as interim head coach of the Miami Dolphins in 2015.

Here is why you should be expecting the Lions, Eagles, and Texans to have the three worst records in the league in 2021.

Saying Goodbye To A Franchise Legend In Detroit. Struggles For The Replacement

Matthew Stafford was the number one overall pick in 2009, with the entire city of Detroit hoping he would be the man to turn around the fortunes of the franchise. Despite three seasons of making the playoffs, the Lions and Stafford never won a single postseason game as the wait continues. The Lions remain the team with the second-longest period without a playoff win, their last taking place on January 5th, 1992.

Stafford had some great individual moments as a Lion, most notably his Mic’d up moment during his 2009 rookie season. In a week eleven game against the Cleveland Browns, he overcame injury to produce a moment of pure heroism. He played with a separated shoulder despite the efforts of the medical staff to keep him off the field, leading the Lions to a touchdown-winning drive.

Jim Caldwell guided the Lions to these playoff appearances but was not seen as good enough to take them to the next step. New England Patriots assistant head coach Matt Patricia was brought in but never took to life as head coach. The Lions had three consecutive losing seasons under the coaching of Patricia. They will hope that they have found their guy in Dan Campbell. His press conference was certainly not dull, with Campbell referring to “biting kneecaps”. As a former Lions player, he knows what it takes to play in the league. He also knows about the city of Detroit and his intentions are both positive and clear. If he is given time, he has the desire to bring the good times back to Detroit. However, he is inexperienced as a head coach and the roster is below average.

New quarterback Jared Goff has the potential to struggle. This is despite the drafting of offensive lineman Penei Sewell at seventh overall, a selection that had Campbell and new General Manager Brad Holmes very excited.

Despite his brilliant 2018 season that saw the Rams reach Super Bowl 53, Goff had a poor game and struggled in 2020 as he and head coach Sean McVay’s relationship deteriorated.

Goff struggled despite a plethora of offensive talent around him. Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp form one of the best wide receiver duos in the NFL. He is going to a franchise that let go of their two best wide receivers and failed to replace them.

The Lions have a schedule that features the San Francisco 49ers, Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals, Los Angeles Rams, Pittsburgh Steelers, Arizona Cardinals, Atlanta Falcons, and Cleveland Browns. There are also two games against their division rivals, the Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings, and Chicago Bears. The Lions do not have it easy.

Prediction: 3-14

Trouble In Philadelphia; Reason For Hope?

The Eagles have seen three years of gradual decline after winning Super Bowl 52. The 2017 season saw the Eagles lift the Lombardi Trophy for the first time after two previous attempts.

Doug Pederson was the head coach to guide the Eagles to a Super Bowl but was fired after the conclusion of the 2020 season. His decision to bench rookie quarterback Jalen Hurts in order to lose and gain a higher draft pick appeared to be the final nail in the coffin.

Carson Wentz had an MVP caliber season before an injury derailed hopes of winning the award. Backup Nick Foles stepped in and guided the Eagles to the Super Bowl 52 win. He also stepped in a year later and guided the Eagles to a shock Wildcard Round win against the Chicago Bears, with thanks also going to a Cody Parkey missed field goal.

Both Foles and Wentz are no longer Eagles players. Out of the starters in that Super Bowl 52 win, only seven remain with the franchise. Their decision to draft Jalen Reagor over Justin Jefferson continues to be mocked by rival fans and nobody knows how new head coach Nick Sirianni will do in the role.

The schedule is mixed for Philadelphia. Whilst they face the New York Jets, Lions, and twice play the New York Giants, they also have to face the Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, San Francisco 49ers and the Kansas City Chiefs.. This is as well as facing a rising Washington Football Team twice as well as playing the Dallas Cowboys both home and away.

Reports have surfaced in recent days of the Philadelphia Eagles being the favourites for Deshaun, with talks said to be “heating up”.

This could be a move that transforms the franchise. However, Deshaun Watson had his best statistical season yet the Texans only managed four wins all year. This proves that whilst it is very important to have a good quarterback, you need more around to be successful.

Unless the Eagles do something in what remains of the offseason, they will continue to be mediocre if their roster continues to be this poor. If they get offensive or defensive talent in the next one or two offseasons, then they are a team that will compete for years to come. Otherwise, the Eagles will fail to be a threat to both the NFC and NFC East.

This is why Deshaun should avoid the Eagles at this present time. He will be going into a situation no different to what he experienced in Houston.

Prediction: 4-13

What A Difference A Year Makes

Where do we start with the Houston Texans? The 2019 season saw them take a 24-0 lead against the Chiefs in the Divisional Round. However, they allowed 41 unanswered points as they lost 51-31. What has unfolded since in the following nineteen months has been reminiscent of a Greek tragedy.

Head coach Bill O’Brien, who also was general manager, made the unusual decision to trade star wide receiver, Deandre Hopkins. In exchange, the Texans received a running back past his sell-by date in David Johnson, one second-rounder and one fourth-round pick. O’Brien only lasted four games in the 2020 season as they finished the campaign with just four wins.

Since the conclusion of the 2020 season, franchise legend J.J Watt has left and there continues to be an uncertain future surrounding quarterback Deshaun Watson. Houston’s quarterback requested a trade in January before allegations of sexual assault arose. These have lingered throughout the remainder of the offseason. It is unclear if Watson will play in the NFL at all in 2021 but even if he does, it is unlikely that he will be wearing a Texans jersey.

Houston has said they would listen to trade offers for Watson, with the franchise said to be wanting three first-round picks. They have also acquired Tyrod Taylor via Free Agency and used their first pick in the draft on Davis Mills in the third round. Even if the Eagles stick with Hurts, there will be plenty of other suitors.

Even with Watson, the Texans are light on the ground when it comes to elite talent. Linebacker Zach Cunningham and Laremy Tunsil are talents and despite adding Phillip Lindsay and Mark Ingram to the running back room, the roster is one of the league’s worst.

David Culley has developed somewhat of a worrying reputation after his time with the Eagles, Chiefs, and Baltimore Ravens. During his fourteen-season spell with the Eagles, his four seasons with the Chiefs, and two years with the Ravens, he had 0 wide receivers earn a PFF grade of 80 or above.

The Chiefs wideouts went an entire season without a touchdown under Culley. With a wide receiver room featuring Brandin Cooks, Nico Collins and Anthony Miller, this is not exactly a position of strength for the Texans. Culley is unlikely to see any of these receivers score high PFF grades.

Whilst the Texans might be playing the Jacksonville Jaguars twice and the Jets, they have a tough schedule. They will face the Cleveland Browns, Buffalo Bills, Arizona Cardinals, Los Angeles Rams, Miami Dolphins and Seattle Seahawks. Houston will also play the Los Angeles Chargers and the San Francisco 49ers as well as the Indianapolis Colts and Tennessee Titans twice.

They are unlikely to win many of these games. Fans should be expecting a difficult season.

Prediction: 2-15

Why the QB situation may prevent the 49ers from winning the NFC West

The 49ers QB spot is a question mark

By: Andy Davies

The San Francisco 49ers are one of the most successful franchises in NFL history. Only the New England Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers (both 6) have more Super Bowl wins than the 49ers (5). The 49ers’ five Super Bowls all came between the years of 1981 and 1994. They have lost two since, in the 2012 and 2019 seasons. The quarterbacks that led the 49ers to the Lombardi Trophy were Hall of Famers Joe Montana and Steve Young. Three of those five wins saw Montana as the starter and Young as the backup.

Young is seen by many as the best backup quarterback in history, considering the gold jacket that he earned despite many years as the backup to Montana. He would win a Super Bowl as the starter after the franchise moved on from Montana. Ever since Young decided to hang up his cleats, the 49ers have struggled to find his replacement. Have they found the guy in Trey Lance?

Perhaps, but here is why the quarterback situation involving Lance and current starter Jimmy Garoppolo could prevent the 49ers from winning the NFC West during the 2021 season.

Struggles Since Young

Jeff Garcia was the man to come in for Young. During his five seasons in the Bay, he threw for 113 touchdowns and 56 interceptions as well as 16,408 passing yards. He had a 35-36 record as a starter for the 49ers in the regular season and a 1-2 record in the postseason, meaning he never hit the heights of his predecessor.

Alex Smith was the number one overall pick in 2005, shattering Aaron Rodgers’ dreams. However, he was a good quarterback, not a great quarterback. Colin Kaepernick replaced Smith and took the 49ers to the Super Bowl. They ended up losing to the Baltimore Ravens in a game often called the ‘Blackout Bowl’. Kaepernick failed to live up to the standards he set that season.

He would be kicked out of the league for taking the knee in a protest against police brutality in 2016. He has not played a snap in the NFL since. Jimmy Garoppolo was traded from the Patriots to the 49ers midway through the 2017 season. He gave hope to the organization after winning all five of the games he started in 2017. The fanbase had hope going into the 2018 season.

Many non-49ers fans had San Francisco down as their dark horse for the season. A season-ending injury to Garoppolo in Week 3 saw the starting role shared between Nick Mullens and C.J. Beathard. However, the 49ers finished 4-12 as they went into 2019 with the second overall pick. Nick Bosa was selected and transformed the defense of San Francisco and Jimmy G had the best season of his career. He threw for 3,978 passing yards, 27 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. Despite these stats, Garoppolo saw his production limited in the NFC Championship game as the coaching staff decided to use more of their running game. This led to many questions leading to the Super Bowl. The 49ers threw away a ten-point lead in the fourth quarter as they would end up losing to the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl 54.

Garoppolo was criticized heavily for an overthrown pass to Emmanuel Sanders that would have given San Francisco back the lead. His 2020 season saw a mixture of poor form and injury. During the 2021 offseason, the 49ers traded up with the Miami Dolphins to gain the number three overall pick. They took Lance with the pick, showcasing their intentions to eventually move off from Garoppolo. There is now talk of whether San Francisco and head coach Kyle Shanahan will start Lance in week one. The other scenarios discussed are either Lance coming in mid-season or sitting out the whole campaign as the backup to Garoppolo. The uncertainty will have a significant impact on the 49ers’ season.

The Strength of the NFC West

This is a problem that will affect all four teams in the best division in the NFL. There is a chance that all four teams can make the playoffs. Los Angeles has an exciting new quarterback in 2009 first overall pick Matthew Stafford. Both the Seattle Seahawks and Arizona Cardinals have quarterbacks in Russell Wilson and Kyler Murray that they would never dream of trading away. Meanwhile, the 49ers’ starting quarterback is largely unpopular by fans, due to a mixture of the overthrown pass in the Super Bowl, his poor 2020 campaign and his injury record.

San Francisco has the least trusted quarterback in the division. With the position being one of the most crucial in all sports, it does not bode well for a team when there is uncertainty in the position. Garoppolo may be benched at some point during the season for Lance. However, the 49ers would be putting a rookie that will still be learning the system into the toughest division in the NFL.

Learning From Mahomes, Jackson, Tua and Burrow

If San Francisco are to help Lance succeed, they will need to take some lessons from recent draft classes. Patrick Mahomes, widely seen as the best quarterback in the league, spent all but one game of his 2017 rookie season as a backup to Alex Smith. The Chiefs then traded Smith the following offseason and Mahomes has never looked back. In his first three full seasons as a starter in the NFL, he has reached two Super Bowls, winning one. He has also been crowned MVP and Super Bowl MVP and reached three successive AFC Championship games. All three have been at home. On the flip side, 2020 first overall pick Joe Burrow started in week one of his rookie year. He wouldn’t last the season, only playing ten games before injury curtailed his first NFL campaign. He was impressive before his injury but there are no guarantees he will be the same player when he returns.

Lamar Jackson was a backup to Joe Flacco during his 2018 rookie year but won the starting role midseason. He has since gone on to win an MVP award and is the future of the franchise. Meanwhile, the Miami Dolphins brought Tua Tagovailoa in mid-season but he struggled in his rookie season. He is seen to already be on the hot seat, with many feeling the Dolphins rushed him in. These examples all show there are reasons for the 49ers to be hasty when it comes to choosing when to bring Lance into the starting role.

Lance Or Garoppolo In 2021?

The 49ers will have to decide soon who their starter will be in 2021. Considering Lance has only played one full season (2019), he is likely to start the season as the backup. He only threw for a combined total of 31 passing attempts, two touchdowns and 1 interception across the 2018 and 2020 seasons, albeit the latter campaign being disrupted by the pandemic. He is likely to be a work in progress but his 28 touchdowns and 0 interceptions in 2019 mean that he is one for the future.

Garoppolo will likely start in week one but it was clear from the NFC Championship game that Shanahan doesn’t completely trust him.

Jimmy G is a capable quarterback but his health is a concern. Expect Garoppolo to remain as the starter provided the 49ers are winning games but for Lance to come in should Garoppolo either be injured or start the season poorly.

Should this happen, this will be the end of Garoppolo’s time in San Francisco. Depending on timing, he will then be traded either before the deadline or in the 2022 offseason.

Can The 49ers Returning Players Avoid A Repeat Of 2020?

This is key if the 49ers are to challenge for both the NFC West and the NFC. After earning the number one seed and reaching Super Bowl 54 during the 2019 campaign, San Francisco finished 6-10 in 2020 and bottom of the division. A ‘Super Bowl Hangover’ played its part but the main cause of such a decline was down to a colossal amount of injuries the team suffered. Along with the aforementioned Garoppolo, the 49ers also saw Bosa, Dee Ford, George Kittle, Raheem Mostert, Deebo Samuel and Solomon Thomas miss large chunks of the 2020 season due to injury.

San Francisco had 33 players reported questionable and there were 186 occasions when the 49ers reported a player on injured reserve. They had the second-most injuries of any team in the NFL over the past twenty years. Should all these players come back, then this 49ers roster will be one of the best in the league. This will make life much easier for whoever the San Francisco starting quarterback is.

However, from the strength of the division to the uncertainty at quarterback, San Francisco will find it tough to win the NFC West.

Why the Seahawks are really underlooked in the NFL

Seahawks underrated among NFL nation

The Seattle Seahawks have been very underlooked this offseason. The Seahawks boast arguably a Top 3 quarterback in the league, an elite wideout in D.K. Metcalf, and two players near the top of their position on the defensive side of the ball (Bobby Wagner, Jamal Adams). 

Pete Carroll’s Seahawks are clearly coming off a successful 2020 season with 12 victories, they are holding together an elite QB and high-end roster, and vengeance is on the horizon. Yet, many reputable analysts and outlets are placing the Seahawks Super Bowl chances and team ranking behind other elite teams in the AFC and NFC. 

Odds Shark just placed the 12th man at number 12 in odds of winning the Super Bowl. In front of the Hawks were the New England Patriots, Denver Broncos, Indianapolis Colts, and multiple NFC West squads (LA Rams, SF 49ers). 

CBS Sports just put out an NFL Super Bowl odds that also places the Hawks at number 12. There were many questionable choices ahead of the Seahawks, including the Brees-less Saints in the NFC. 

I believe the outlook on Seattle’s Super Bowl chances is whacky and blatantly false. The Seahawks didn’t only win the division by two games in 2020, but only six other teams had 12+ wins last year. 

In the second half of the Seahawks season, the defense also turned the tide and evolved into an above average unit. Over the past ten weeks of the regular season, the Seahawks defense led the NFL in sacks. Carlos Dunlap, who was the pass rusher that helped turn things around, reached a two year contract to return to the Seahawks. Jamal Adams, who was an absolute star in his first year in Seattle last season, will be aiming to take the next step in year two of the system.

I also believe it’s fair to say that the reigning, still elite NFC West champions won’t drop easily to the likes of the LA Rams and SF 49ers. The 49ers will either run out the shaky Jimmy G or they will be holding a rookie QB against the fiery Seahawks pass rush in their early Week 4 matchup. It will be a huge task for the regressed Garopollo or the rookie Lance, who has been viewed as a product QB, to come out and light up the scoreboard against SEA and fellow NFC West defenses.

The 49ers are largely getting so much praise because a couple stars at TE and DE are returning healthy, combined with a hyped up rookie QB (despite being a surprise pick). The 49ers should take a step up from last season, but they still don’t have the same defense as the team that reached the SB in 2020. 

The Rams appear to be a very serious threat to the Seahawks in the NFC West and playoff seed race, but Matthew Stafford has had his own durability issues and poor turnover habits. He could pose a problem to the Seahawks secondary, but the Hawks have the pass rush to force Stafford into erratic mistakes. Outside of Stafford, there isn’t a huge makeover on the Rams roster. The Seahawks and Rams should be tight down the wire for NFC West gold in my opinion, but I don’t see a sizable difference between the Rams and Hawks. 

Seahawks should at least be a step ahead of the 49ers in their divisional pre-season rankings until Lance shows a spark or Jimmy G shows something not seen in training camp/or pre-season. If Lance proves to be a difference maker and capable of running the offense early, the 49ers should deserve the praise that a talented roster with a talented QB carry. 

I don’t foresee the likes of the Colts, Patriots, Saints, or Broncos ahead of the Seahawks in the overall pursuit of Lombardi. The Saints team has sputtered in the past few years, but now they will have to be elite in the long season without the HOF QB and their best defensive player Trey Hendrickson (left in FA) from a season ago.

It will be hard to envision an “above average” QB performance from Cam Newton or the rookie Mac Jones amid a Patriots team that lost its historic defensive unit from years ago. The Colts QB situation is the biggest gamble in the league, while the Broncos still don’t have a quality signal caller running out of the tunnel next season. 

The Seahawks deserve to be recognized as a Top 6 team. They hold an MVP QB in Russell Wilson on a hungry, proven roster. Not to mention that the Hawks possess the most lethal home field advantage: The 12th man.

Top preview for each NFC West team in minicamp

NFC West preview for each squad heading into the 2021 regular season

By: Adam Hulse (@AdamHulseSports)

As the NFL offseason continues to roll on and the regular season quickly approaches, teams will head to training camp and begin their real practice and preparation. Camp for each team will include new faces in both the roster and coaching staff as well as new strategies and philosophies to implement with hopes of a successful campaign in the upcoming season. All of the changes and other storylines from the offseason now become a reality as players begin to report to the team facilities.

The NFC West is a division with four very solid teams heading into this season. All of them have expectations this year to at least making the playoffs and high hopes of a deep run with aspirations of a Super Bowl. There were plenty of headlines surrounding all four of these teams throughout the offseason. Let’s take a look at each team and the key storylines as they head to training camp.

Seattle Seahawks

After an excellent season including twelve wins and a playoff appearance, one would think that the Seahawks would be positive and optimistic heading into the offseason. Unfortunately for them, this was not the case for their superstar quarterback Russell Wilson. He was reportedly very unhappy with the organization and its decision-making processes. In particular, he felt that he was not being included enough in major decisions such as game strategy and personnel changes. He was upset by this, and so much so that there were heavy rumors going around that he wanted to be traded away from Seattle.

Luckily for the Seahawks, they were able to get together with Wilson and hash out their issues. It appears that he is satisfied with whatever conclusion was reached behind closed doors and is now ready to get to work. Wilson is easily a top-five quarterback in the entire NFL and with the weapons available to him on their offensive roster, the Seahawks are a very dangerous team and a true contender in the NFC Conference.

This offense is absolutely loaded and one of the best in the league on paper. The real question is going to be their defense. They were poor last year and didn’t do much to improve on that side of the ball. In the 2020 season, they ranked 11th worst in total yards allowed per game with 380.6 and 2nd worst in passing yards allowed per game with 285. They will need to be better than that but as long as Russell Wilson is playing quarterback with the offensive weapons he has at his disposal, the Seahawks have a shot to win any game.

Los Angeles Rams

The Rams made the biggest move in the entire NFL offseason when they traded away Jared Goff and draft picks in exchange for Matthew Stafford. It is uncommon for a team as successful as the Rams have been over the last few seasons to make such a sudden change at quarterback but that’s exactly what they did. Goff was not bad for the Rams last season but he definitely wasn’t great either. His 3952 passing yards ranked 14th and his 20 touchdown passes ranked 19th, which are both acceptable but not exactly impressive. The bigger problem was his 13 interceptions which was the second-highest total in the NFL.

Goff played to a total QBR of 58.5 which ranked an uninspiring 23rd in the league. The Rams are a very good team at every other position group besides quarterback and even had the number one ranked defense last season. They believe that with an upgrade at quarterback they would become a real Super Bowl contender. This is why they traded for Stafford, a quarterback who is seven years older than Goff. They are fully committed to being a win-now team and sold off their future to prove it.

It’s going to be very interesting to see how Stafford does with his new team. He has spent his entire career with the Detroit Lions so far but now has the luxury of a better roster and coaching staff than he’s ever had before. His talent has never been a question and he has a bunch of excellent seasons to demonstrate that. The only thing missing from his career has been sustained winning and postseason success. The Rams are taking a gamble that his shortcomings were simply a product of being a stud on a bad team and that he will shine bright in a more favorable situation.

Arizona Cardinals

After finishing the 2020 season at an even 8-8 record and just barely missing out on the playoffs, the Cardinals are approaching this upcoming season with a ton of optimism. They appear to have found their quarterback with young star Kyler Murray, who is one of the best dual threats in the entire NFL. He has developed nicely so far and there is good reason to believe that with another year of experience he will be an even better player this upcoming year. The organization is fully committed to his growth and has made sure to surround him with as many weapons as possible.

The biggest thing they did for Murray was trade for DeAndre Hopkins last season, who is a top-three wide receiver in the league. They continued to improve the offensive weapons this offseason by acquiring wide receiver AJ Green and running back James Conner. The Cardinals were already the 6th ranked offense last year averaging 384.6 yards per game and with these new additions to compliment the growth of Murray, they can climb even higher than that.

Another huge addition to this team for the upcoming season is veteran pass rusher JJ Watt. He will definitely help them on the defensive side, which they do need, but it’s his leadership that may be his most valuable asset. Everything is trending in the right direction for Arizona and they should be feeling very excited heading to camp this year. Watch out for the Cardinals because they could be the biggest sleeper in the NFL.

San Francisco 49ers

It’s sometimes easy to forget that the 49ers are just one season removed from a Super Bowl appearance. In fact, if not for one missed throw by Jimmy Garoppolo they probably would have won that game. Unfortunately, he missed almost all of last year due to injury, playing in just six games. This has been an ongoing problem for Garoppolo. He just can’t seem to stay healthy and even when he is, his statistics are not at all jaw-dropping anyway. It seems like the 49ers have seen enough because they decided to trade all the way up to the third pick in the NFL Draft to select quarterback Trey Lance.

Lance is an incredible athlete with a ton of potential. He is a very exciting prospect but he just doesn’t have much experience even at the college level. Most scouts believe that he will blossom into a star but there’s no telling how long that process could take. That makes the quarterback situation in San Francisco a very interesting one. It’s likely that they will start the season with Garoppolo but at any time they could make the switch to Lance. This is one of the most intriguing storylines in the league, especially considering the potential of the 49ers team as a whole.

When they won the NFC Conference just two seasons ago, they had arguably the best defense in the entire NFL. The large majority of that unit will be back and healthy for the 2021 season. They also have one of the best rushing attacks in the league under the Kyle Shanahan system and solid offensive weapons across the board as well. All of these factors combined to make the 49ers a fascinating team with a wide spectrum of expectations. Mostly depending on how the quarterback scenario plays out, they may not be better than their 6 wins last year but could potentially be a Super Bowl team like they were two years ago.

The Seahawks are the most logical fit for Julio Jones

By: Noah Nichols

Imagine Julio Jones, lined up next to D.K. Metcalf, with Tyler Lockett behind both of them. You can hear the announcer already…

Oh, the possibilities. The Seattle Seahawks would have the best receiver core in the NFL. And it might not be close. Jones is one of the best receivers to ever play in the NFL. He is closer to the end of his career than he is his prime, but he still commands tremendous respect from defenses.

An offense with Metcalf to take the top off the defense, and Locket the stud slot receiver is already pretty good. Throw Julio Jones in, and it becomes an abundance of riches.

But, how do the Seahawks make this happen? They certainly are not going to trade almost any player on their roster, unless it would be someone who doesn’t start. The Seahawks just don’t have enough talent to be able to afford that. The Atlanta Falcons are going to be looking for players, or a good number of picks.

Reportedly the Falcons are willing to take a second-round pick. If that is the case, then the Seahawks should pounce. They could make an offer like this: a 2022 second-round, fourth-round, and a sixth-round pick for Julio Jones, and a 2023 fifth-round pick. The Seahawks don’t have to trade a first-round pick, and they get Julio Jones. The Falcons in turn receive some valuable picks, and more importantly, more than two.

The Falcons want as many picks as they can get because they will soon be rebuilding. They can use those extra picks to draft a player, or to trade up and draft a quarterback that either sits behind Matt Ryan, or takes his place. Seattle will have to make some financial decisions though.

This is by far the Seahawks’ biggest hurdle when it comes to trading for Julio Jones. The Seahawks have about eleven million dollars in cap space right now. And that is not enough to take on Julio Jones’ contract. However, the Seahawks have almost $50 million in cap space in 2022. The Seahawks can restructure some players and move money into next year, opening up room for Julio Jones’ contract. Jones’ current contract is for $15 million, leaving the Seahawks $4 million over the cap.

On the schematic side of the ball, Julio Jones ensures that Russel Wilson will pretty much always have a mismatch. Perhaps four defenses can provide the cornerbacks, safeties, and linebackers needed to cover the threats that Seattle would trot out. The passing game would be such a threat that the run game should open up, even if Seattle’s line does not play well. Why? No defense will stack the box when Julio Jones and D.K. Metcalf can burn anyone in your secondary. And the duo of Jones and Metcalf would immediately compete for the best receiver duo in Seahawks history.

The top four receiving duos in Seahawks history would look like this, though the order could arguably be changed. Golden Tate & Doug Baldwin at number one and Darrell Jackson & Bobby Engram at number two.
Steve Largent & Sam McCullum and Doug Baldwin & Tyler Lockett at three and four respectively. Julio Jones and D.K. Metcalf could be ranked in the top three immediately, and after a year or two of production, they could easily take the number one spot. Not to mention Tyler Lockett rounding out the group, which would be the best trio of receivers in Seahawks history.

So Seattle would have a loaded offense. They can restructure some contracts and will be able to afford Jones. And Russel Wilson will be happy. If Seattle is able to trade for Jones, there is no way that Wilson asks for a trade. In fact he would probably be willing to take less money in the future to keep the team, and the receiving core, together. If Seattle wants to add bring their offense up to the next level, and keep Wilson happy, they should trade for Julio Jones.

It makes sense for the Seahawks. And it makes sense for Julio. He does not have to be the number one receiver. That job is taken by Metcalf. He would still receive his money. And he would go from Matt Ryan, who probably won’t make the Hall of Fame, to Russel Wilson, who will go down as one of the greatest quarterbacks ever. And playing with the best deep-ball passer in the NFL would sound pretty good to Jones. Wilson ranked 1st in 2019 in deep-ball passing, and 8th in 2020 by PFF and Pro Football Reference. In 2020 Wilson threw more touchdowns on deep passes than twelve quarterbacks had in total. That’s pretty good.

And compared to other teams’ offers, Seattle makes the most sense. The Patriots have a rookie at quarterback. They don’t have a very talented offense, anywhere you look. And the all-work-no-play culture in New England is probably not what Jones is looking for. Tennessee seems like a fine fit at first. However, the Titans have only $3 million in cap space, compare to the Seahawks $11 million. That would require more extensions and/or cutting of players to fit Jones’ contract into the Titans cap space. And the Titans have a question mark on offense, with Arthur Smith’s departure the Titans have a new offensive coordinator. Jones would probably prefer to go to a team where he already knows what the offense looks like, instead of something brand new.

Will it happen? It seems like it has legs, as Seattle has been reportedly looking at trading for Jones. It just remains to be seen when it will happen. The Titans are reportedly strong contenders but again, they have much less cap space to afford Julio than do the Seahawks. It’s a better fit and win-win-win for all three parties if Jones were to be traded to Seattle. The Seahawks get a great receiver and keep their quarterback happy. The Falcons receive the draft picks they want, and the cap relief that they desperately need. Julio Jones will still get his money, he will have one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL throwing to him, and he won’t have to worry about being the number one receiver. Everyone gets what they want.

How the Arizona Cardinals will win the NFC West

Arizona will win the NFC West in 2021

By: Gladys Louise Tyler

The 8-8 Arizona Cardinals were in the playoff hunt for part of the 2020 season. This is true even though head coach Kliff Kingsbury was 3-9 against the NFC West, including a 0-4 record against Sean McVay’s Los Angeles Rams. 

The Cardinals started 2-0 in the West, only to end on a four-game losing streak in the division. 

They were 5-2 before ending the season on a 3-6 bender.

There were a few reasons for the losing streak:

  1. Wide receiver Christian Kirk looked the part of the number two wide receiver until the final eight games. In the last eight, he managed a paltry 22 receptions, 234 yards, and zero touchdowns.
  2. Quarterback Kyler Murray got injured in Week 11 against the Seattle Seahawks. After that, the offense scores 30 plus points only once the rest of the season.
  3. Linebacker Chandler Jones incurred a bicep injury in Week 5.  He ended his season with 11 total tackles and one sack. Without Jones, the Cardinals’ defense gave up close to 28 points a game on the road.

There is also the possibility that Kingsbury’s offensive prowess is over-rated, but that could be an overstatement as the offense worked for the first half of the season.

But this year the Cardinals will not only reverse their fortunes within their division, but win the NFC West outright.

At first glance, it seems like an improbable statement. The NFC West is the most competitive division in the NFL. But it is possible, and here is why:

QUARTERBACK KYLER MURRAY

Murray showed improvement until his Week 11 injury. He finished the season with a completion percentage that was 2.8% better than the previous year.  He threw for six more touchdowns and had 40 more rushing attempts.  The rushing attempts elevated his rushing touchdowns by seven compared to last year. 

WIDE RECEIVER DEANDRE HOPKINS

There is no doubt the addition of Hopkins boosted the offense. Hopkins finished the season with a career-high 71.9% catch rate.  He was targeted 160 times and had six touchdowns.

This being his second year with Murray should make the pairing that much more formidable and the duo should put up huge numbers in 2021. 

ADDITION BY SUBTRACTION

This might be the most important reason the Cardinals are set to win the division this year.  Their free agency acquisitions are more of a “win-now” mentality than let’s rebuild for the future.

Although they lost both Patrick Peterson and Kenyan Drake in free agency, they gained players (who, if they remain healthy) will help them win now.

  • Running back James Conner
  • Wide receiver AJ Green
  • Defensive end JJ Watt
  • Cornerback Malcolm Butler
  • Kicker Matt Prater

And yes, the NFC West did make some splash acquisitions. The Los Angeles Rams acquired quarterback Matthew Stafford for the win-now mentality.  The San Francisco 49ers obtained Trey Lance for the future, and well, the Seattle Seahawks attempted to upgrade their defense, with cornerbacks Ahkello Witherspoon and Pierre Desire and defensive end Aldon Smith. 

THE SCHEDULE

Depending on your “go-to” source, the Cardinals either have the fourth most difficult schedule or the 13th.  If you go by the Cbssports.com strength of schedule, the Los Angeles Rams and the Seattle Seahawks will face a harder schedule than the Cardinals. 

CARDINALS 2021 SCHEDULE

WEEK 1 @ TENNESSEE TITANS

WEEK 2 v MINNESOTA VIKINGS

WEEK 3 @ JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS

WEEK 4 @ LOS ANGELES RAMS

WEEK 5 v SAN FRANCISCO NINERS

WEEK 6 @ CLEVELAND BROWNS

WEEK 7 v HOUSTON TEXANS

WEEK 8 v GREEN BAY PACKERS

WEEK 9 @ SAN FRANCISCO NINERS

WEEK 10 v CAROLINA PANTHERS

WEEK 11 @ SEATTLE SEAHAWKS

WEEK 12—NOV 28 BYE WEEK

WEEK 13 @ CHICAGO  BEARS

WEEK 14 v LOS ANGELES RAMS

WEEK 15 @ DETROIT LIONS

WEEK 16 v INDIANAPOLIS COLTS

WEEK 17 @ DALLAS COWBOYS

WEEK 18 v SEATTLE SEAHAWKS

WINNING THE NFC WEST

This is Kingsbury show me year.  His team has to improve against the West foes, including the zero wins against the Rams.  The Niners will have the slew of players that were injured back; the question remains it Trey Lance or Jimmy Garoppolo under center this season.  The Seahawks are, well, the Seahawks, doing little to appease quarterback Russell Wilson’s concerns; they remain who we thought they were until proven otherwise.

The path through the NFC West appears to go through California.  If the Cardinals can break even with their NFC West rivals, there is no reason they cannot overtake the NFC West championship belt (and if there isn’t one, there should be).

 

3 reasons why DK Metcalf can be the next megatron

Is DK Metcalf Megatron 2.0?

By: Noah Nichols

D.K. Metcalf certainly has earned all the praise and comparisons that are made about him and Calvin “Megatron” Johnson. Both are physical freaks of nature. In a good way. Both are huge, fast, and nearly impossible to cover. Metcalf has been in the NFL for two years and received Johnson comparisons within his first ten weeks of playing in the NFL. Metcalf is a physical anomaly and plays like it. Metcalf will do freak athlete stuff, like chasing down Budda Baker and preventing a would-be pick-six.

Has Metcalf earned the hype? Is he the next Calvin Johnson, the next “Megatron” of the NFL? For beginners, their combine numbers are startling close. Johnson ran a 4.35 40-yard dash. Metcalf ran a 4.33 40-yard dash. So Metcalf is actually faster in this regard. The difference is minimal, two-tenths of a second are not very noticeable, but it is still impressive to see Metcalf beat out Johnson.

Metcalf is 6″4. Johnson is 6″5. Both were better as straight-line, go-up-and-get-it type players. Because of their size, neither was the best route runner in the league. But as Johnson was arguably the best deep threat in the NFL during his time, so is Metcalf. Metcalf has also spoken out against the comparisons to Johnson.

“Stop comparing me to people. I’m me. Playing against me. Not anyone else. Calvin is Calvin. It’s a blessing to be compared to him. I take the compliment with a grain of salt. I’m trying to pave my own way.” Metcalf said this during an interview on the Rich Eisen show. Unfortunately for Metcalf, it’s not up to him whether he will stop being compared to Johnson.

The two are just way too similar to not be compared. So, will Metcalf be the next “Megatron” of the NFL? Here are three reasons why the answer to that is yes.

Similar Talent

Johnson was arguably the most freaky player in the NFL during his time. There was no other receiver, cornerback, or another type of player like him. Similar to Derrick Henry, Johnson was the only player of his position with a body type like he had. Metcalf is the same way. The only other receiver in the NFL who is similar in body type is Chase Claypool. Claypool is another freak athlete and should be one of the best wide receivers in the NFL in 2021.

But Metcalf is faster than Claypool and is thicker and stronger than Claypool. Going back to the combine numbers from earlier, it is easy to see that athletically, Metcalf is similar to Johnson. The difference in height is minimal, one more inch on a receiver that is above 6″3 does not make a big difference. Talent-wise, both players are very similar. This is the main reason that Metcalf will be the next “Megatron,” but there are two more reasons to back up this claim.

His QB is Russell Wilson

Perhaps the greatest deep ball quarterback of all time, Russell Wilson greatly increases Metcalf’s skills and talents. The two are almost perfect for each other. Wilson helps showcase what Metcalf is so good at, running past, and jumping over defenders to catch the ball. Wilson’s ability to run around and extend plays does help too.

Metcalf is a huge target for Wilson, someone that he can trust whenever things are breaking down around him. Thus, Metcalf receives more targets. Metcalf had 129 targets in 2020, thirty more than 2019. Wilson knows he has a freaky athlete on his team, so he uses him. This only helps Metcalf’s stock rise as the next “Megatron” of the NFL. Imagine if Metcalf was stuck in Jacksonville or something. There is no way that he would be dubbed the next “Megatron.” His quarterbacks would not be able to get him the ball for that nickname to appear.

The NFL era benefits the receiver

Simply put, this era of the NFL is built to help the wide receiver succeed. Receivers are given the benefit of the doubt on iffy pass interference calls. Receivers can be more physical, and while the NFL has created rules to punish receivers for pushing off, it rarely gets called. (Just ask Saints fans- *cough* Kyle Rudolph *cough*)

But seriously, Metcalf takes full advantage of these rules. He uses his frame, and the rules, to his advantage. He will lock cornerbacks out from the ball with one arm while going up to catch it with the other. At the last second, he brings his other arm up to bring in the ball. Did he need his second arm? Maybe not. With nearly ten-inch hands, he could probably catch the football with one hand. In the end though, Metcalf benefits from a period in the NFL where the rules are even laxer than they were during the time of Calvin Johnson. He has every chance to take up the Mantle as the next “Megatron.” The only thing that stands in his way is himself. (And perhaps, Jalen Ramsey, but that is a diffrent story.)

3 reasons why Seahawks are being overlooked this off-season

Why are the Seahawks in the shadow?

By: Corey Hietpas

Even after winning the NFC West with a 12-4 record in 2020, the Seahawks are not seen as serious competitors by many fans for the 2021 season. Losing to the Los Angeles Rams in the Wild Card round of the Playoffs definitely doesn’t help, as that’s the most recent memory for everyone. That Rams defense was really good though, it’s hard to fault the Seahawks for having a tough time with it. Whatever the reasons, the Seahawks should not be slept on for the 2021 season, and you’ll find three reasons why below.

The rushing attack will be better.

Pete Carroll loves a run-heavy approach, and it has worked well for the most part. Last year was a bit rougher than normal mainly due to injuries. Chris Carson did his usual thing and missed a few games during the 2020 season (4 to be exact). On top of that, Rashaad Penny was lost for the whole year due to a torn ACL, and Carlos Hyde missed 6 games too. As fun as it was, letting Russ cook proved to be less and less effective as the season went on, and it was apparent that the Seahawks’ offense missed being able to rely on their run game. Getting Rashaad Penny back as the home run threat and fill-in for Carson when he inevitably gets injured will be extremely valuable for this offense. It’s also worth noting that the offensive line is returning 4 of 5 starters and the Seahawks traded for Gabe Jackson, who will likely be the 5th starter. There’s no reason to worry about the line. 

The defense will also be better.

The Seattle defense was not very good last year, completely due to the weak secondary. They allowed the 2nd most passing yards in the NFL, only behind Atlanta. The Seahawks didn’t make any major free-agent acquisitions in the secondary, but they drafted Tre Brown in the 4th round of the 2021 NFL Draft and Marquise Blair will be returning from an injury-plagued season. I’m not sure how Tre Brown will perform, but Blair returning should be a major boost to the secondary. I don’t think it’ll be a lot better, but it will be better nonetheless. Although choosing to not make a free agent addition to the secondary, Seattle did choose to add Kerry Hyder and also bring Carlos Dunlap back. What was an effective pass rush in 2020 should be even better with Hyder in the mix. More pressures and better coverage should lead to a better season from the defense.

The offense will have higher quality pass catchers.

Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf are arguably the best starting duo in the NFL, but behind that, the pass catchers were less than stellar in 2020. A near-retired Greg Olsen and Will Dissly were the top TEs, and David Moore was the WR3 with not much working behind him. No offense meant to Olsen, Dissly, or Moore, but they were nothing special as pass catchers in 2020. With the departures of Olsen and Moore, Seattle made some moves to shore up the weapons for Russell as they added Gerald Everett, a talented and young TE, from free agency and opted to select D’Wayne Eskridge with their first pick in the draft this year. Everett is an instant upgrade to the TE position and D’Wayne Eskridge has a lot of potential and could thrive as the WR3 in Seattle.

With a more effective run game, a better defense, and higher quality pass-catchers, Seattle could be a force in the NFC this year. Don’t sleep on them!

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