Saturday, May 28, 2011

Second Opinions on Ryan Mallett

I have chided Brandon a little for his Ryan Mallett...objectification. I would have called it obsession, but it isn't. And Ryan Mallett isn't even the real object. A viable long term quarterback for the Seahawks is the object, and until that is position is filled with a player that raises the level of the players who surround him, the objectification will continue.

The calls for Charlie Whitehurst had 5 percent to do with visible potential and 95% to do with fans objectifying the position of quarterback for the Seahawks. Admit it, you have done it. Have you ever said "Dude, the Hawks gotta take a quarterback in the first round one of these years!" No name, no face, just a round. You... objectifier! You don't know what you want, but you know what you don't. You have been watching what you don't want for 3 years running, as an aging system quarterback struggles to be much more than a junkballer.

The truth is, most seasons it has not been difficult to come up with a list of eight to ten quarterbacks I would rather have start than Matt Hasselbeck. And recently it has been pretty easy to come up with 20. So, seeing the front office not address the position draft after draft with somebody more than the occasional David Greene or Mike Teel is frustrating. Maybe even slowly infuriating. Aim your punches between the studs, drywall is easier to fix than bones. And nix the Sunday Ticket again this year. I'm not wasting 400 large watching this offense lurch its way to 8 punts a game, hoping Leon pulls our ass out of the fire one more time...

Monday, May 23, 2011

Bengals: Palmer Still Not Up for Trade

Albert Breer is reporting that Cincinnati Bengals owner Mike Brown is still adamant on either keeping QB Carson Palmer or forcing him to retire. If this is true, Palmer's heavily rumored trade to Seattle - already called a "done deal" by some - won't materialize.

I defended these rumors a few weeks ago as more than your idle cyberspeculation. In a nutshell, Palmer is ready to move on from the Bengals and also has a family matter in the Pacific Northwest that's prompted him to move there. He's already sold his house in Cincinnati, and Twitter murmurings have placed his children in the Seattle vicinity. The circumstances simply make Seattle the only feasible town from which he can both attend to his family and continue playing football. He's financially and personally prepared to retire, and has backed up with actions his threat to either retire or be traded to Seattle.

Mike Brown, one of the most stubborn owners in pro football, seems to be opting for the former. The game of chicken will continue as long as the labor dispute does, so we'd hardly expect Brown to admit the trade's existence right now.

Still, I'm starting to have misgivings.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Conceding the Ryan Mallett Anti-Hype

Thirty-two teams can't all be wrong multiple times. The NFL must know something about Ryan Mallett that we don't, and that something must be ominous. There's no other way to explain Mallett's stunning fall into the early third round on draft day. The rumors that had been floating around about his character and work ethic must have had something to them after all.

If only we knew what that something was. We don't have any better idea now than we did back in January.

A few people, like 17 Power's own Scott, have questioned my objectivity regarding Mallett. (I'm glad he's doing so. That's the reason I brought other guys on - to keep me accountable.) But while I may have been sympathetic for the guy over the (at the time) empty smear campaign directed against him, I really wasn't rooting for Mallett as an individual. I just desperately, desperately want the Seahawks to resolve the quarterback situation and move forward with their future. And from a talent standpoint, Mallett was by far the best solution. I was so sold on his talent that I was willing to eat a second-round pick and move up 10 spots in a Twitter mock draft to nab him.

Then the draft came along, confirming the adage "When there's smoke, there's fire." Mallett was passed on by team after team. I still remember Michael Crabtree's face as it comically fell when Seattle passed on him at #4 in the 2009 draft. Apparently there was something to his baggage rumors as well. His contract holdout proved that.

'Course, some Seattle fans even now think that Crabtree would have been a better pick than the "safe" guy we grabbed instead. A few would even have tolerated his contract holdout for the sake of having something on offense. How will we be looking back at Mallett in three years' time, having had him snatched out from under our very nose by the New England Patriots?

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

There's No Such Thing as a Cheap Free Agent Quarterback

When the Seahawks brought on Mike Williams and Lendale White as fliers in the 2010 offseason, they risked very little. Neither cost much. If they didn't pan out, Seattle could offload them relatively easily. Not a big financial hit, not much public embarrassment, and little disruption to the offense. Skill position players like WR and RB are something you plug into an offense that already exists.

Not so with quarterback. A quarterback isn't a relatively interchangeable cog like a WR; he is your offense. The scheme is built around him, the playbook constructed with his skill set in mind. Other players are selected to fit him. He's also the face of your franchise, the leader of your locker room. No player on the team holds the future and reputation of the team in his hands like a QB does.

So I would venture to say that Pete Carroll's "Talent Recovery Program", that habit he has of scrounging the ranks of the busted and broken for cheap starters, may not apply to quarterbacks.

Rumors are buzzing of former USC star Matt Leinart being courted by Seattle. It's also popular to ask whether Tennessee's Vince Young could revive his career here. Bring them in, let them compete with Charlie Whitehurst, best man gets the job. Whomever doesn't work out can be cut without heavy repercussions, right?

Scott's Opinion of the Draft

Pick 25, James Carpenter. I was out with my wife Thursday night, and I didn't get back until just after the 27th pick was being announced. I had the draft on DVR, but the prospect of 3 plus hours just to get to Seattle's pick did not appeal, so I got online and scanned the list...

All my wife heard was a loud "WHO?". I knew this team needed a RT, but assumed it was 4th round stuff, you know, like when we picked Locklear. I erroneously assumed that Petey liked the ZBS principles because it makes getting decent linemen easier in the mid rounds. Right tackle? But it is true, Locklear is gone and Andrews is terrible. I mean, if Andrews can't play well in the phone booth, how is he going to be any good out at the tackle spot?

So I read up, watched some highlights, and then watched every scrap of Ingram film I could. And I get it. I understand passing on the remaining quarterbacks and Jimmy Smith at 25. Carpenter looks solid, can play 4 spots, and considering Okung's ankles are as yet an unknown quantity, this is solid.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Matt Hasselbeck Also Not Expected to Return

Adam Schefter on NFL Live doesn't expect QB Matt Hasselbeck to return to the Seahawks, according to a tweet by Evan Silva.

I'm not sure what's changed since Seattle's favorite football leak shared that Matt Hasselbeck is still a target of interest for the Seahawks. The team's negotiations with him stalled right before the lockout after Hasselbeck turned down the team's offer, apparently over the issue of guaranteed money. OC Darrell Bevell is said to have "reached out" to Hasselbeck during the brief break in the lockout last month, assuring the veteran QB that Seattle still wants him back.

Still, this makes sense. The draft didn't kill the market for veteran quarterbacks so much as just reshuffle the possible landing spots. Washington's evil plan to draft Jake Locker was foiled by Tennessee, leaving them hurting at the position. Arizona might call, despite their alleged interest in Marc Bulger. Hass's old mentor is still lurking around Cleveland, no doubt red-faced as he suppresses his desire to fire Pat Shurmur and rush back down to coach. It's doubtful that Tennessee or Minnesota will be interested now, having committed Top-12 money (chortle) to their new QB's, but there are still candidates for his services.

I am not a Hasselbeck hater, but his hanging around is a messy and divisive situation. His good reputation is at risk. That we've allowed optimism for Hasselbeck's future to creep back into our opinions shows how long it's been since we watched him play. Statistically and fundamentally, he was one of the worst starting QB's we've ever seen in 2010. It's far more logical to expect a San Francisco meltdown from him than a New Orleans comeback in 2011. I'm not saying Charlie Whitehurst will be any better, but there are still other options besides him.

With the lockout embalming teams in their current offensive schemes, Hasselbeck has retained value to the Seahawks by way of his familiarity with Seattle's system and personnel. Should he stick around, the team will at least have continuity. But he looks for all the world like a guy who still believes in himself, still wants to play and win, and wants a contract that reflects those goals. Seattle's front office has been a bit stingy in that regard, both with its own guys and other teams' free agents. The two sides just don't seem to share a vision.

I think it's for the best for both parties if Seattle cuts the cord and moves on. Seattle denied any intent to seriously contend in 2011 by failing to draft a QB, so Charlie Whitehurst might as well get a shot and try to justify that third-round pick he cost (which was used, in case you're wondering, on a small corner from USC).

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Chris Spencer, Sean Locklear Finished in Seattle?

A PFW article had this to say today:

Word out of Seattle is that free-agent O-linemen Sean Locklear and Chris Spencer have, in effect, been told to look elsewhere. First-round draft pick James Carpenter, who already has been handed the starting RT role that Locklear filled the majority of last season, apparently has been given Locklear's number (No. 75). Spencer, a former first-round draft pick who has had as many downs as ups as the team's starting center, has been replaced by third-year pro Max Unger, who suffered a season-ending toe injury in Week One last season as the starting right guard.

Nobody's going to miss Locklear. The last relic of Seattle's historic offensive line from 2005 was never the same after his Pro Bowl cohorts disappeared. His last two years have been defined by red-zone penalties and getting wiped out by basic bull rushes.

Spencer is an interesting case. Some will remember his constant injuries and his overblown struggles with line calls and hail the departure of one of Tim Ruskell's first-round "busts". Others will cite his steady improvement in 2007 and see just another hole being opened on the line.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Straight Shots on Seattle's Draft, Part 2

Part 1 here.

Draft analysts continue to throw Seattle's draft under the bus as basically one big reach. I'm not exactly amongst them. I have my criticisms, but they're restrained. James Carpenter was a reach as a right tackle, but not as a football player. (You should check out Kip Earlywine's scouting report of the guy, and also Kyle Rota's on this very blog. He looks quite promising.) Kris Durham, a "Who?" pick for most Seattle fans, turned out to be another late riser coveted by other quality teams. The 2011 draft was in many ways a clinic on NFL scouting, and how teams dig up talent that goes unnoticed by most experts.

Seattle's biggest prize from the 2011 draft is a revamped offensive line. With the delayed OTA's and minicamps threatening to delay its development (a slow-burn goal to begin with), this draft will be a delayed-gratification draft for certain. That has to be acknowledged. But all the signs point to Pete Carroll and John Schneider planning to have more than two starter picks available to revamp the lines.

And when that failed to happen, the draft appeared to wobble awkwardly. Finally pulling off a trade at #57, Schneider procured a fourth-rounder (#107) with doubtful starting potential and then took themselves out of the running for some badly needed DT prospects by selecting an average guard at #75. They felt a DT would still be waiting for them at #99.

Some consider that move a "fairly safe risk", but I balk at expecting starting defensive tackles to fall through most of the third round. This is the downside of getting cute in the draft. Deep positions in a draft don't stay deep, they get run on. Sure, a DT might have been there, but there were a number of such simple strategies Seattle could have tried to boost their chances of getting one. To me, they just didn't try that hard. That could say a number of things.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Thursday Post-Draft Links

Sorry for the hole in content. It's been a busy week with many exciting things going on. Here are some links while I finish a piece on Seattle's late-round picks.

Mike Sando passes on Seattle GM John Schneider's justifications for the draft. Tons of good info here. I appreciate how accountable Schneider makes himself to the fans - most of his "we don't care what others think" comments feel directed at national draftniks, not fans.

Also from Sando: a fair and balanced view on whether Matt Hasselbeck has a future with the Seahawks.

Rob Staton's source continues to hit it out of the park with intriguing gossip. Amongst the tidbits in his latest leak: Blaine Gabbert was actually the top-rated QB on Seattle's board, which I find encouraging. (Jake Locker was #6, which I find equally encouraging.) CB Jimmy Smith may have been a target at #25 after all, and Seattle is still in the thick of the free-agent QB hunt, with Charlie Whitehurst as a very real starter option.

Rob also addresses those who rationalize away Seattle's failure to draft a QB by pointing to next year's crop. In a nutshell: that's what they say every year. The optimistic future always looks more appealing than the closely-examined, better-informed present. That's a pretty good definition for the word "mirage".'s Peter Schrager forecasts Seattle to draft #1 and select Andrew Luck in 2012. This won't happen. Too many things have to go just right (or wrong) for Seattle to select #1. It's like out-competing 31 other teams in the suck department. With master motivator Pete Carroll as coach, Seattle will win too many games against Arizona to nab Luck. And I don't care how long Carroll has supposedly been given to build his vision - if the Seahawks collapse disastrously enough to go #1 next year, his job will be in danger.

The OC Register examines new Seattle linebacker Malcolm Smith and the gastrointestinal disorder that he suffers from. It's a sobering thing. If Smith can stay on top of his condition, he has the tools to become an impressive value pick.

Nick Andron over at Fieldgulls reminds us that Seattle's new offensive line is not likely to bloom right away. List of obstacles to said blooming: inexperience, question marks at center and left guard, inexperience, Russell Okung's fragility, two rookies, inexperience, the lockout canceling OTA's and minicamps, and by the way, since we all seem to keep forgetting this...


Monday, May 2, 2011

Evaluating James Carpenter

Thanks to Brandon for letting me share this scouting report on James Carpenter with you guys. I am basing this report off of the following games in the 2010 season: vs Florida, Louisiana State, South Carolina, and Michigan State.

James Carpenter, OT, Alabama

6043, 322lbs, 34 inch arms, 9.75 hands

The Physical (Size and Athletic Ability): On video, Carpenter shows a nice frame and build for an OT, with squat legs and an upper body that could be developed further. Estimated that he played around or under 300lbs his senior season, but displays very good lower-body strength to move players. Because Alabama runs a power system with lots of FBs and TEs, his natural athleticism is a bit hidden compared to OT's who often operate in space. However, the more video you watch, the more athleticism you see from Carpenter. He is not an elite athlete, but he's a very good one who has the athleticism to play LT in the NFL, if he shores up his weaknesses. Overall, Carpenter is a great size/speed package when studying 2010 games, but with added size since the end of the regular season (20+lbs), his grade here could shoot through the roof if he added good bulk without losing his great athletic talents.

Straight Shots on Seattle's Draft, Part 1

Seattle's 2011 draft will probably please the typical Seahawks fan, who still believes that the offensive line is the foundation of a good offense. And a good defense. And a good special teams. And William and Kate's marriage. And the continued rotation of the earth about its axis.

It will also please you if you're content that our current starting QB is Charlie Whitehurst and our current starting 3-tech DT is Barrett Moen.

You're probably not so giddy, however, if you believe the swelling evidence that NFL success is tied to the quarterback much more strongly than it is the offensive line.

The Seattle Seahawks did their best in the 2011 draft given their position, but failed rather conspicuously to address the team's greatest needs with the most assured offseason mechanism - high draft picks - available to them. They didn't demonstrate the savvy sense of value they showed last year, and they didn't supply the team with the immediate impact that a fortunate-to-be-7-9 team requires.

It's easy to appeal to free agency at this point, but we don't know when free agency will begin. We don't know that Matt Hasselbeck, Carson Palmer, Nnamdi Asomugha, Brandon Mebane, or anyone else will be available or even interested to sign with Seattle once it does. Seattle has risked its 2011 season on a complete unknown. That's a gamble no matter how you slice it.

All this on the altar of a very specific vision that grows clearer by the moment, but has yet to be validated at the NFL level. At least there's a vision.

Let's go through this one round at a time.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

17 Power and the Right to Discuss

It's the day after the conclusion of the draft, and naturally the post-draft optimism is already in full swing. We're all excited and hoping to see these draft picks pan out. Few people want to be down on the efforts of Seattle's front office. Few people want to think of any of these picks as busts in waiting, or of the draft strategy as futile.

So I understand why people may be down on me for being negative. It often looks intentional. But it's not - I'm simply a skeptic by nature. That's my default position, my approach to analysis. In my eyes, the Pete Carroll regime has been guilty until proven innocent, right from the moment it moved into the VMAC. They needed to prove themselves to me, and despite an improbable playoff run, they still do.

But how far can I pursue my right to judge? Am I a scout with the Seahawks? Have I been in their war room? Do I have anywhere near the amount of information or football knowledge that Pete Carroll and John Schneider do? Nope. I do not. Anyone who criticizes the Seahawks' actions with its players is criticizing from a place of having less information than the Seahawks. I fully acknowledge that. The VMAC interns who make Pete Carroll's coffee probably know more than I do.

Therefore, on the surface, it sounds ridiculous for anyone to criticize the team. It seems far more reasonable to give them the benefit of a doubt and trust their judgment.