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Jordyn Brooks must improve, QB competition odds, and the risk of being unpopular
Seaside Joe 1209: Answering your Seahawks questions!
For edition 1209, I will be wrapping up the AMA from last week. These are the answers to the rest of your questions!
Keep in mind: Seaside Joe is the best newsletter on the planet. That is all I wanted to say. Share your thoughts on my thoughts by adding a comment below.
“(Jordyn) Brooks, as an example. How is their development going, what do you see as areas in which they excel and those they need to work on.” - Parallax
First, let’s talk about the good. Jordyn Brooks had a missed tackle rate of 4.7-percent, which is less than half of that of star inside linebacker C.J. Mosley of the Jets or Deion Jones of the Falcons. He also had 10 tackles for a loss, one of the highest marks for any inside linebacker in the NFL last season.
Brooks had a year to observe K.J. Wright and two years to play alongside Bobby Wagner, so what has he learned over his first two seasons in the NFL that will help him be the necessary veteran leader in the middle of the defense that the Seahawks need him to be?
This won’t be a popular opinion—eventually I’ll have to stop repeating this but for now I’ll say it again: Seaside Joe is never going to tell you what is popular and that has/will cost me subscribers in the future. I will only write my honest observations, even when that goes against popularity and even if it isn’t what people want to hear. That doesn’t mean that I’m right, and I’m open to being convinced to change my mind, it just means that I’m sharing what I honestly believe at that time.
Jordyn Brooks needs to be a lot better in 2022 in order to warrant the fifth-year option being exercised in 2023. That’s what new defensive coordinator Clint Hurtt, assistant head coach Sean Desai, and linebackers coach John Glenn will hope to develop Brooks into over the next few months: a linebacker who is not a liability in coverage and one who creates more splash plays than what we’ve seen out of Brooks so far.
Through 31 career games, Brooks has one sack, zero interceptions, zero forced fumbles, one fumble recovery, three QB hits, and 12 tackles for a loss.
Over Wagner’s first two seasons, he had five interceptions, seven sacks, 11 QB hits, and 13 tackles for a loss.
Brooks setting a franchise record for tackles was more of a testament to how bad Ken Norton’s defense was at getting off of the field and how exploitable Brooks and Wagner were for passing targets throughout the season: Brooks was targeted 96 times (14th in the NFL and the most of any linebacker), while Wagner was targeted 87 times, the second-most of any linebacker.
Those two combined to “allow” 148 receptions on 163 targets (over 80-percent completions) with one interception by Wagner, six touchdowns, and Brooks was allowing 9.0 yards per target. These were not deep targets, the average depth of target was 5.0 for Brooks and 3.9 for Wagner. But that just meant offensive coordinators could pepper the middle of the field with pass after pass, never having any reason to fear going back to the well over and over again.
Jordyn Brooks needs to become a feared linebacker in 2022 or Seattle won’t be comfortable guaranteeing him over $10 million for the 2024 season, let alone considering a long-term extension.
If you are having trouble wrapping your head around the idea that Brooks may not be off to an ideal career start because he plays for the Seahawks, consider a comparison to Ravens linebacker Patrick Queen. Taken one pick after Brooks, Queen has more career TFL, more sacks, more forced fumbles, more interceptions, more QB hits, and is two years younger… and not even Baltimore is convinced he’s a three-down linebacker.
For now, Brooks is merely a starter who is cleaning up the plays that are happening in front of him. To be in Seattle’s long-term plans, Brooks needs to prove next season that he’s not the type of player who quarterbacks, tight ends, receivers, running backs, and offensive coordinators want to go anywhere near and they cut down the number of plays that happen in front of him.
Will the new DC change that? Time will tell.
“Where did all the 2023 cap space go? I know Diggs has over $18M of it, but after Russ was off the books I thought we were going to be so flush with cash we could make some great splashes in free agency.” - Chuck Turtleman
The Seahawks have the third-most total cap space ($58.2 million, based off of OTC’s 2023 cap projection) and fourth-most effective cap space ($53 million) in the entire league.
Seattle saves at least $6.5 million by parting with Gabe Jackson, barring a restructure. If Uchenna Nwosu is Underwhelming Nwosu, then the Seahawks save another $8 million. Even more money comes off of the books by releasing Shelby Harris.
The Seahawks are indeed flush with cash.
“Why does this team wait until late in the summer to resign players? It seems to be a strategy that simply lets the market go up while they wait.” - Chuck Turtleman
I think this is more of an illusion than a reality. I would press the world to show me empirical evidence to back this up, and to also show that it isn’t nominal sums that don’t greatly impact any team’s plans.
And even if it was true, how often are these situations really impacting the Seahawks? This is a roster that has produced at most one player per year worth getting excited about over the last six or seven offseasons. It so happens that this is one of those years where Seattle has a player worth extending to a large contract and with the extent that I’ve covered DK Metcalf’s situation already, there’s nothing more I can say about it.
Seahawks fans should not waste any brain energy on DK Metcalf’s contract.
“If you were in charge of Vegas odds, what kind of number would you put on Lock/Smith being our starter week 1?” - Chuck Turtleman
It’s hard to know when Pete Carroll is being serious and when he’s saying the things that he believes he needs to say as a head coach. I don’t believe that the Seahawks need to go out and add a quarterback for this season’s team, but it would not surprise me if Seattle is hoping for a third option to save themselves from having to start Geno Smith or Drew Lock.
It would make a lot more sense to me if that player was a released Jimmy Garoppolo than a released Baker Mayfield. And no, that’s not because I think Garoppolo is a good player, a savior, or an adequate long-term answer. It’s because I believe Garoppolo is an adequate game-managing bridge quarterback who won’t have a competitive market once released, and therefore could come cheap.
I think you play Drew Lock for the entire first preseason game, see how often he can make impactful plays without turning the ball over. I then think you could give Geno Smith at least the entire first half in the second preseason game, see how much more efficient the car is running than the previous week.
I don’t know how to calculate this as Vegas odds:
Geno Smith, 48%
Drew Lock, 44%
“If you had the opportunity to make a (somewhat realistic) trade or free agent signing with the goal of making the Seahawks better, what would it be and why?” - Devin Nelson
There are no free agents still available who I think would make Seattle notably better in 2022. And no reason to give up any assets to acquire a notable player in trade.
The best answer I could give is that if the Seahawks can get a team to take Gabe Jackson’s $6 million salary off of their hands, then anything they could get in return on top of that relief would be worth it. That could make the Seahawks better in 2023.
“How do some of the general managers keep their jobs? 2 teams are currently paying 2 players approximately $20 million for not playing. It happened but how competent can the decision makers be? How many players that are planning on being on NFL teams this year are making that much?” - Russ
Dead money and bad contracts are a part of every NFL team. The Rams paid more money to have Jared Goff not on their team last year than they paid Matthew Stafford to help them win the Super Bowl. Actually, if we were firing GMs over bad contracts then LA’s GM Les Snead (Goff, Todd Gurley, Brandin Cooks, etc.) would be atop that list.
And the Rams have been to two of the last four Super Bowls.
The issue for most GMs isn’t that they overpay good players. It’s that they can’t find good players to begin with. The Seahawks need to hope that beginning with the 2022 draft and continuing to 2023, they are back to finding players worth paying and over-paying in the future.
“How is it that the Seahawks season is being written off by a high percentage of “experts” because of uncertainty from the quarterback position, but, the 49ers are favored to challenge for the championship with a quarterback with hardly any game experience over the last 2 years.” - Russ
The 49ers have Trent Williams, George Kittle, Fred Warner, Nick Bosa, Deebo Samuel, a great rushing attack, a strong pass rush, a lot of intriguing young talent (Brandon Aiyuk, Dre Greenlaw, Azeez Al-Shaair, Elijah Mitchell, Javon Kinlaw), they added Charvarius Ward, and they’ve been to the NFC Championship in two of the last three years.
I’m all for hating San Francisco, but let’s keep this fair and just; like I said before, I’m not going to say anything other than my most unbiased takes on the NFL.
Garoppolo was one of the weakest starters on the 49ers roster last season, so if Trey Lance does replace him, it would be hard for them to be worse off at the position. And the ceiling is that he is much better. Could San Francisco implode under Kyle Shanahan again? Of course! Boo 49ers! But the Seahawks need to do more than just beat the 49ers to prove that they are a better team than the 49ers.
“What have been the past results of teams that go through a transition similar to what the Seahawks are doing in terms of dumping an all-pro quarterback still in his prime. One recent example I can think of is Detroit, it has not worked out to well for them, but then again they are Detroit.” -IdahoFred
We are living in an unprecedented time of franchise quarterbacks changing teams while they are still valuable. So it is unprecedented.
The Patriots are hoping that Mac Jones is more than serviceable. I love what the Lions have done since hiring Brad Holmes at the start of 2021, including trading Matthew Stafford—but honestly he probably could have gotten more now knowing that Russell Wilson had a much better return.
I wouldn’t think of it as “Seattle dumped an all-pro QB in his prime.” I would think of it more along the lines of the Seahawks not being competitive enough for the last six years and attempting a new methodology towards getting back to the Super Bowl, following the strategy of using their cap savings at quarterback and an abundance of new draft picks to improve the all-around roster by 2023 and 2024.
“Are there any instances of any teams using full size, full function football defense simulators that could be used to train QBs in the recognition of a defense being used against them and the speeding up of their selection of a receiver target.” - Keith Porter
But I’m not sure how much these tools can really help. People have been coaching football for over 100 years and for the entire history of the sport, including before the forward pass, the quarterback position has been held in the highest regard.
I think quarterback is either “You got it” or “You don’t got it”. Coaches have spent many decades trying to find a secret ingredient for those who don’t got it and I just don’t think anything really works. It has to come from within the player himself and whether a simulator exists or does not exist, the best quarterbacks will figure out how to become the best quarterbacks.
I hope that was a satisfactory answer!
“You may have already done this so apologies if so, but given we get the Broncos first rounder/Wilson interest how do you see the AFC West playing out?” - JohnnyLondon
Chargers, Chiefs, then a tossup between the Raiders and Broncos. Maybe thinking Denver is 8-9 or 9-8, one game out of the playoffs, putting return draft picks around 18 and 50 or so.
“Are there some positions where physical/athletic testing are more important than others? Is a good combine really more important for OLBs and WRs than for OL and QBs, or is this just a popular narrative that has been accepted by the NFL media?” - Grant
It would probably be easy to answer that speed and relative athleticism is very important at wide receiver, but then you can point to a guy like Anquan Boldin and see that nothing can’t be overcome if the player knows how to play to his strengths. Maybe a player like David Bell coming out of Purdue this year will be an example of that.
All these things are important. I don’t personally care for the combine that much and maybe pro days should only be held for the fringe players looking to prove that they can keep in step with the speed of the NFL game.
It’s a combination of everything, but ultimately I do believe that the league could give a consensus answer, before the combine, of who the top-100 players in the draft are going to be. It doesn’t really impact that much as far as the best prospects. Even a guy like Travon Walker, nobody was all that surprised how well he tested and if the Jaguars believe they can mold him into an elite pass rusher because of his unique abilities to test well, then yeah it will help confirm how vital speed and agility are to success as an edge player.
But a truly special quarterback shouldn’t have to prove anything at the combine. The emphasis on “QB athleticism” over the last few years has been so strange to me. Fans will focus on straight-line running speed and act like that has anything to do with being a quarterback, including being a dual-threat quarterback. How many times in Lamar Jackson’s career has he run the 40 in a game?
“Maybe sort of related, but maybe completely unrelated; isn't Aaron Curry an interesting story? I just came across his name the other day as a member of the Seahawks coaching staff. How did he go from closest-thing-to-a-sure-thing draft pick, to first round bust, to whatever happened next, to Seahawks coach?” - Grant
Something that can’t be overlooked is that Aaron Curry was in the 2009 NFL Draft, one of the worst classes of all-time. Interestingly, the Seahawks couldn’t have done much better with most of the players who went 10-15 picks after him. Just a really bad year to have anything other than the number one pick, which was Matthew Stafford.
Then I think you could get into arguments about why Curry may have been overrated in the draft, maybe partly based on those exceptional combine measurements that I just talked about. On top of that, Curry goes to a bad Seahawks team with bad coaching and by the time Pete Carroll starts to get his systems in place, Seattle finds a fourth round gem in K.J. Wright and he loses his job.
Then Curry gets traded to the Raiders and again finds himself on a bad team with bad coaching (first HUE JACKSON, then Dennis Allen.) Finally, Curry suffers a knee injury in 2012 and by the time he’s attempting to revive his career with the Giants, he’s already 27 with little to show for his first four years in the league.
Curry really put his time into coaching after that, working his way up over five seasons at the University of Charlotte before being hired by Pete as an assistant in 2019. I think that emphasizes that Carroll never had anything against the man, only that it was the wrong place, wrong time, and not a good fit for his development. It also shows that Aaron Curry held no grudges, which is a strong show of character on his part.
He’s only 36. Curry could have a future as a defensive coordinator in the NFL and then we know where that road possibly leads.
Thank you for your questions, let’s do it again at 800 subscribers! Which I hope is soon!