How big is difference between Seahawks and NFL's elite? Or basement?
Seaside Joe's Seahawks Super Suggestion Mailbag: Seaside Joe 1706
It’s time for another edition of the Seaside Joe Super Joes Suggestion Box mailbag questions and answers. Every few weeks, I’ll put out an email to the Super Joes founding members subscribers to get some Seahawks topics and thoughts to float my way for answers and research to share with you all.
This week, I had questions about the 2024 Seahawks draft and free agency plans, how good is the defense and why are they good (players or coaching?), does the NFL actually have parity, and how much should we read into the early career performances of the 2023 QB class?
I’ll address those questions below—if I didn’t get to your request or question today, I apologize and hope to be able to in the future, but ran out of time and e-mail space after answering the questions I did get to.
To get on the Super Joes Suggestion Box question and answers thread, upgrade to Super Joes. If you’re already signed up for the year, the upgrade should come at a prorated rate.
If the 2024 draft were held today based on the current standings, who do you think the Seahawks pick in the 1st round?
I like taking an offensive tackle more than a guard or a center. Better first round value to just swing for a tackle and make adjustments from there on out. If the Seahawks had better protection upfront, it could increase their return on investment on Geno Smith, assuming he’s the guy in 2024, because there are no concerns about the weapons around him.
You can never have too many edge rushers or defensive linemen, but re-signing Leonard Williams would go a long ways towards shoring up that unit for the next couple of seasons. I think the value on offensive tackle is better than needs at linebacker or safety. And it just hasn’t been Seattle’s nature to use a first round pick on a quarterback, whether we disagree with that methodology or not.
I’d probably start tackle, then defensive tackle, then I could maybe be convinced about a tight end. Linebacker is certainly a possibility given the free agent situation there. If they lose Charles Cross or Abe Lucas again next year, that’s just a scenario that they have to be more prepared for in 2024.
I’m not an expert on the 2024 draft class at this time, so a suggestion:
For a Substack newsletter on the NFL Draft that is about as relentless as Seaside Joe, I’m going to recommend Sports Talk with Sam Teets. He posts about a 2024 prospect roughly every day, so if you are a regular reader then you will surely be up to date when draft season gets here.
Some will say that Matt Miller has a Substack, which is true and that’s fine to go there too, but you’re going to get way fewer posts and they’re basically all behind a paywall. I have no affiliation to either of these people, I just have an affinity for creators who work harder and deserve more subscribers than the huge accounts.
One thing I am wondering about is the contracts next year and what you think will happen with the safeties and others (NoE) and their cap hits
I’ve definitely touched on 2024 free agency, cap casualties, extension candidates, and needs a few times recently, and will continue to do so. Probably with another “needs update” in the near future. Thanks for the reminder to do so!
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This may be difficult to find and/or figure out, but I'm interested to know how our defensive scheme has been shaping up for the year. How often are we running the 3-4 base that was the source of so much criticism last season? How often are we playing nickel/big-nickel and are we using that formation on early downs as well as obvious passing situations? This is my roundabout way of asking if our defensive improvement is more due to scheme changes or better players? I know the answer is probably that we got better players that now allow us to run Hurtt's scheme more successfully, but it would be interesting to see what that looks like in terms of formations (e.g. 3-4 base vs. other, man vs. zone, blitz vs. 4-man rush, do they blitz from the secondary more than others, etc.).
I don’t know how much this helps answer your question, but you can find some interesting defensive formation/success rate analysis at the sumersports website. If the numbers are accurate, then the Seahawks defense has faced the highest-rate of 11 personnel and the lowest-rate of 12 personnel in the entire NFL. What would that suggest?
I’m seriously asking the community, what do these numbers tell you?
I’m a big believer, and I think any coach would agree with me, that personnel/talent/execution matters way more than scheme. You fit your scheme to the talent, not the other way around. So if Seattle has changed their style under Clint Hurtt, then yes that might mean that they target a slightly different edge player than they did before. But aren’t they leaning in that direction because of certain players who they’ve already invested in?
Massive upgrades on the defensive line like Dre’Mont Jones, Jarran Reed, and now Leonard Williams just continue to push the Seahawks in the direction of doing what they want to do defensively at a high level. It would make sense that Hurtt’s first year was less successful because they needed multiple offseasons to fill in the areas that were lacking.
But the simplest explanation for Seattle’s improvement on defense is that they drafted Devon Witherspoon, Boye Mafe, Riq Woolen, got back Jamal Adams and Tre Brown, signed Bobby Wagner, Jones, Julian Love, Reed, Uchenna Nwosu. You’re gonna put those players in position to succeed more so than ask them to change who they are to fit what you do. When you do that, that’s probably when you get a player like Coby Bryant or Darrell Taylor not quite being consistently successful.
I’d keep playing with more answers to your question, I’m curious what others think.
How big is the difference between a good nfl team and a bad one? I don’t think it’s a big margin per se. we’ve seen the bills lose to pats, chiefs lose to broncos, hell even the hawks lost to rams.
What can we learn from this years QB class with respect to scouting / predraft vs. performance so far? You were down on Levis (who has played pretty well), Richardson (probably too small a sample), young (hasn’t looked good), stroud (I’ve been impressed).
I was hoping someone would ask about Will Levis… Three-part answer: A) If a quarterback has a round two grade, it doesn’t mean that the analyst thinks they could never succeed or that it’s a “fail” if they do succeed. It just means he has a second round grade. I wasn’t down on Levis, I graded him right where he was drafted. People who thought he should go in the top-5 were “high” on Levis. B) He still looks like the prospect who needs a ton of refinement to be a starter in the NFL, having four touchdowns in a debut doesn’t really mean anything to me and a couple of those touchdowns were like “what?”. C) It’s only been two games and all career outcomes remain possible to him, I hope he has a ton of success.
Building off of C) to reference the other quarterbacks, I’m not the type who puts a ton of stock into rookie seasons. Some people wanted it to be meaningful that Mac Jones had a better rookie season than Trevor Lawrence in 2021. Or look at how much Tua Tagovaila’s stock has gone up year over year over year from 2020.
Maybe in the age of smart phones, it’s natural to want definitive answers now. I don’t expect to come out of the 2023 season with definitive answers on how good or bad the picks were. I would rather wait until at least 2025 to give a 2023 draft grade.
I’m not going to root against a player because I said that I personally wouldn’t draft him in the first round. I’m not going to root for a player because I said that I would take him first overall. I was very vocal about my belief in Zach Wilson and I’ll be the first to say that he sucks. It would be cool if all four of these quarterbacks had success in the NFL, but odds are that only one of them will and at most, maybe two. I’d still bet on Bryce Young and C.J. Stroud, same as before.
As to part one, I agree that the quality of most NFL teams is not separated by much. That’s really not that surprising because at the pro level, the best players and coaches have been boiled down to the top one-percent in the world.
However, while the NFL has a lot of parity on teams ranked about 5th to 28th, I don’t think there’s much wiggle room for the league’s absolute best and absolute worst. I would say that the last 10 Super Bowl champions were all predictable before the season, with the most recent big surprise maybe being the 2012 Baltimore Ravens and even a few of the teams that won just before they did. The Ravens were still a consistent playoff team. The 2011 Giants had won a Super Bowl four years earlier. The 2010 Packers had a long history of winning as the wind to their sails.
The 2017 Eagles were surprising, for sure, but then they had a dominant season so their place in the Super Bowl wasn’t surprising. Even though they had to win with Nick Foles, they were still the top seed.
Not a big difference between a good team and a bad team. A huge difference between a great team and an awful one.
For the Seahawks to make the jump, they’re going to need to topple some giants in November and December. Good questions, James.
What to make of Strength of Schedule rankings and the fact that based on current records, Seattle’s 5-2 record has been built on having played the NFL’s easiest schedule. Part of that reason is Seattle having beat 5 teams. Should those sorts of rankings take out the wins/losses Seattle has contributed to the rankings? We’ve made the Bengals better and the Lions worse, for example.
There is no such thing as an accurate “strength of schedule”, either rankings or level of difficulty or whatever anyone wants to call it. The strength of a team’s schedule matters a lot—I’d rather Seattle has an easy schedule because anything can happen once you get into the playoffs and better to be a “bad team” in the playoffs than a “good team” staying home—but it is impossible to project how a team will play on a certain date in the future and difficult to rationalize how good a team was in the past.
For example, a few months ago we would have said that the Seahawks could face Bryce Young, Kyler Murray, and Deshaun Watson in the first half of the season. They didn’t face any of those quarterbacks. The Seahawks won three games after November 6th of last season, none of those victories came against starting quarterbacks.
Playing at home against the Rams in Week 1 seemed like it would be relatively easy and it wasn’t. Looking ahead to a Monday night road game against the Giants seemed like it would be relatively difficult and it wasn’t.
Teams are only as good as they are in the moment you are evaluating them and there are too many variables involved to say that “Week 13’s game is easy and Week 15’s game is hard” when it’s only Week 10. Or Week 12. Or even in Week 13.
As far as “what people say about the Seahawks”, that has never mattered to me. If people say that the Seahawks have gone 5-2 against an easy schedule, that’s okay and I know there’s truth to it. All that matters to me is how Seattle plays this Sunday against the Ravens. A team, by the way, that has lost to the Colts and Steelers and beat three of the same teams as the Seahawks (Lions, Cardinals, Browns) with the only significant difference being that they won a close game against the Bengals instead of losing it.
If the Seahawks beat the Ravens are they “better” than them? I’d rather Seattle take the W and leave the debate alone.
A recent article you had that did QB comparisons used both the traditional rating stat (usually shown as "RTG") and the relatively new ESPN "QBR" stat. I have looked down on QBR because (as I understand it) QBR is a proprietary stat - ESPN does not share the stat generation methodology. I also got the impression once that there might be some human judgement involved in the stat, although I probably am wrong about that.
Have you given much attention to QBR vs. RTG? I'm willing to be convinced it's a super duper stat.
Passer Rating is just a formula invented in the seventies with some abritrary math. QBR has a slightly differently algorithm and some people may prefer because in the modern game, rushing prowess has taken on a bigger meaning for quarterbacks. Which is logical, but then you’ll find that it could boost someone like Colin Kaepernick into the top-10 while sinking a guy like Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers.
Is Gardner Minshew (9th) a better QB than Joe Burrow (18th) or Lamar Jackson (13th)?
My answer is there is no super duper stat. I could basically name 10-15 important statistical QB categories and by the end of listing everyone on all those lists, I’d have about 28 names who are ‘top-10’ in something meaningful.
You have to be willing to absorb all the stats and then test that against your better judgment. I know we can’t all sit back and watch every quarterback. Nobody said quarterback assessment was easy and maybe that’s why even NFL teams consistently make SO MANY dire mistakes with their decisions about them.
Again, sorry if I did not get to your question. I hope to address everyone’s queries eventually in the future!