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Vision Board: Seahawks-Rams, Part II
Geno Smith's got one last red sash on his revenge tour: Seaside Joe 1404
Of course, I should have known it all along. Seaside Joe’s Vision Board slump was finally saved from eradication by none other than Gene Siskel of the Chicago Tribune and Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times.
These two men who placed the utmost value on “Don’t call yourself ‘entertainment’ and then waste my time for two hours” truly knew what it meant to put on a show. The Seahawks were not perfect in their 23-6 win over the Jets, but they didn’t waste my time and Pete Carroll, Geno Smith, and Tariq Woolen are giving us at least one more reason to watch this week.
That means that at worst, all 17 games of the Seattle Seahawks 2022 season will matter.
Last week’s vision board against the Jets was one of the best pictures of the year.
Dismantle Jets QB Mike White (Vision: Thumbs Up) I envisioned two interceptions by White, including one for Woolen and a big game for Uchenna Nwosu. White was picked off twice and lost a fumble, and though Woolen didn’t have one, he took part in at least two of the turnovers. Nwosu was also in on the fumble, but it was Darrell Taylor who had 2.5 sacks.
Take back homefield advantage (Vision: Thumbs Up) This felt more like a Seattle home game of yesteryear. If the Seahawks beat the Rams, they’ll finish 2022 with a winning record at Lumen Field. Lose and they live with a losing record at home.
Kenneth Walker III’s Judgment Day (Vision: Thumbs Up) I predicted a 70-yard run for Walker and he immediately broke off a gain of 60. Walker now has as many 60-yard runs as a rookie as Marshawn Lynch had total (regular season AND playoffs) in his entire 13-year career. Let me run that back:
Walker now has as many 60-yard runs as a rookie as Marshawn Lynch had total (regular season AND playoffs) in his entire 13-year career.
Ken Walker was the star of Seaside Joe in the offseason. I’ve taken my lumps for a bumpy road with Geno Smith analysis. I haven’t asked to get any credit for Ken Walker’s campaign, now the favorite for the NFL’s Offensive Rookie of the Year; Well, I suppose that streak is now over. Walker is basically everything that Joe said that he would be that most others felt he couldn’t be, none more important than being the player who Seahawks fans often text each other about, post on social media about, and are entertained by at times when little else is entertaining.
That’s worth even more than a second round pick.
Geno Smith surprises critics with one last stop on the revenge tour: Playoffs
“Tombstone may have gone through some creative difficulties in the making but the result is an absorbing, exciting movie. And now it’s turned into a surprise hit. The surprising thing is that they didn’t want to show it to the critics because they thought it would get bad reviews.”
The making and evental reception of Tombstone is as surprising and interesting as the movie itself. The original director of the movie was fired early into production (Russell Wilson comp?) and the script underwent significant changes during filming (scheme changes?), leading to a belief that Tombstone would be one of the huge bombs of 1993 (Seahawks predicted to finish 4-13 or worse). Expectations were so low that the makers of Tombstone didn’t let Siskel & Ebert (or other critics) review it prior to release, usually a sign that even the producers know their movie sucks.
Like Pete Carroll telling skeptics before the season that “You don’t know what you don’t know,” same as Tombstone, the Seahawks have been much better than anyone predicted. And that all starts with the surprising Pro Bowl season of Geno Smith.
Let’s recount everything Geno did that “they” said he couldn’t do:
Seven years after the punch, Geno Smith won a quarterback competition and became a starter again. He didn’t back into it because of an injury, he gained Pete Carroll’s confidence enough to not force Seattle to bring in anyone better than Drew Lock, then he beat out Lock for a gig that I said he couldn’t win
He bested Russell Wilson in Week 1, then he was flat out better than Wilson over the course of the entire season—by a lot
He went 3-0 against former number one overall picks (Jared Goff, Kyler Murray x2) and he could be the only QB in the NFL who goes wire-to-wire by taking every snap for his team this season
He made his first Pro Bowl, 10 years after entering the NFL and eight years after he was last a starter
He’s leading the NFL in completion percentage, he’s top-five in touchdowns and passer rating, and he’s got more touchdowns than Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, and Justin Herbert.
He got some revenge against the Rams after failing to lead a comeback in place of Wilson last season
He beat a Chargers team that thought he was only a backup
He beat a Giants team that thought he was only a backup
He beat a Jets team that thought he was only a backup
Going back to Tombstone, I want to highlight not the famous gunfight at the O.K. Corral, but later in the movie when Wyatt Earp lets Ike Clanton live so that he can send a message that the revenge tour is coming.
There’s only one red sash left to take care of and that’s for Geno Smith to win a contest that’s the closest he can come right now to winning “a playoff game.” Seattle can win this game and still not make the postseason—we all know this—but even if winning doesn’t secure the trip, losing does guarantee elimination.
Sure, it’s a must-win. But the Seahawks are definitely facing a can’t lose and not only can Geno go 4-0 against non-49ers teams in the NFC West (that’s great!), he can continue to prove that the moment isn’t too big for him.
As a rookie on the Jets in 2013, starting all 16 games that year, New York did win eight contests with Smith as the starter, including three of the last four. However, the Jets looked bad/terrible/abysmal in seven of their eight losses and the writing was on the wall that Rex Ryan’s team would be among the worst in the NFL when Geno entered year two in 2014. The Jets averaged 12 points per game in Geno’s eight losses, only one scoring more than 14.
There have been some similar concerns with Seattle’s offense this season, as they do not seem to show up every week and the last time the Seahawks scored more than 27 without playing in overtime was a November 6 game against the Cardinals.
In their last eight games, the Seahawks have scored 178 points (16th in the NFL) and the Rams have scored 160 points, so is the difference all that dramatic? (L.A. did score 51 of those points against the Broncos, but the Broncos are supposed to be a good defense.)
It’s interesting that fans would never want to have the quarterback get to the podium after a loss and say, “Well, I played well, but this guy dropped a pass, and this guy ran the wrong route, and this guy didn’t block well enough for me.” We want the quarterback to accept responsibility himself…but then those same fans turn around and say, “Well, this guy dropped a pass, this guy ran the wrong route, and this guy didn’t block well enough for him.”
No more excuses.
The Seahawks need better execution from Geno Smith in the red zone, better decision making when it’s time to run or pass, and fewer sacks taken for 8+ yards lost to avoid third-and-Forever. Geno has checked off almost every box on the list and whether or the Seahawks make the playoffs or not, this is his chance to enter free agency with a win.
The Vision Board sees it happening and Geno says, “Hell’s coming with me. Hell’s coming with me.”
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“The better the villain, the better the movie” - Shelby Harris leads charge to arrest Baker Mayfield
Siskel preached that most movies are only as good as their antagonist and The Great Mouse Detective may be one of the most underrated examples of this principle. And also an underrated savior of the company we now all must bow to, usually unwillingly, our overlords at Disney.
After decades of mostly animated failures, The Great Mouse Detective was Disney’s first critical and box office success in a long time, with Siskel citing it as the most “truly memorable animated feature in 25 years.”
Time to fire up Disney+ for your kids this weekend.
Well, the Rams haven’t brought many worthy villains to the stage this season as Sean McVay’s team has been their own worst enemies. Matthew Stafford brought no guns to the gunfight this season and then a series of concussion worries led to his place on IR after only 10 games. Backups John Wolford and Bryce Perkins were about as scary as Tokka and Rahzar from The Secret of the Ooze, so the NFL writers had to work overtime to put someone closer to Hans Gruber under center.
None other than a quarterback who nearly infiltrated the Seahawks last offseason: Baker Mayfield.
It’s hard to be hard on Mayfield’s four-game audition with the Rams given the circumstances…but not that hard. Basically every team in the NFL, except the Lions, Seahawks, and Bucs, have had to turn to backup quarterbacks, if not third-string quarterbacks, if not street quarterbacks. Sam Darnold and P.J. Walker both played much better for the Panthers than Baker Mayfield did.
Outside of one game against the Broncos on Christmas Day, Mayfield has been every bit as bad on the Rams as he was in Carolina, and Mayfield was the worst quarterback in the NFL when he was on the Panthers. Must I really hold back criticism when you play worse than Bailey Zappe and Cooper Rush?
But give credit where it is due: Baker is a much better villain than Wolford, the quarterback who Seattle beat in round one. The great mouse detective who I want to see first in line to that unbaking?
Shelby Harris, himself an underrated hero just like Basil of Baker Street.
With Quinton Jefferson questionable to play, four other Seahawks defensive linemen already on IR, plus the losses of Jamal Adams and Jordyn Brooks, Seattle needs veteran leadership to take the reins in the season finale. Stats are only stats, but Harris could use a couple sacks, a few QB hits, and a forced fumble to get his numbers up to his usual season averages; especially with the Seahawks needing to make a decision on his contract in 2023.
Shelby Harris was the seventh-most notable piece, out of eight, acquired by Seattle in the Russell Wilson trade. He could be the most important part of the deal with a dominant performance against a weak offensive line. Who will play the part of the Rams’ villain this weekend? Harris might be your huckleberry.
Michael Dickson is a punter who thinks he’s a quarterback, a running back, or maybe just a hero
We’ve often seen the best, but sometimes the worst, of Michael Dickson over his five years as the Seattle Seahawks punter. Born in January of 1996 in New South Wales, Dickson came into the world just weeks before an Australian movie named Babe was nominated for Best Picture (and six other awards) at the Academy Awards. It was also Siskel’s fourth-best movie of 1995, on this episode of the show that aired just five days before Dickson was born.
Babe is the story of a pig who believes he’s a sheep dog, stepping outside the normal expectations for his role in society. At times, Dickson has been a rollercoaster that no Seahawks fan wants to ride…
But he’s also had some bright spots as a runner…
And we can’t overlook the season he’s had: career-best 44.5 net yards per punt attempt, career-low 4.9% touchbacks, and he still hasn’t had a punt blocked since 2018. The Seahawks have been on the wrong end of some gut wrenching Rams special teams play, specifically from former punter Johnny Hekker (replacement Riley Dixon has been bad), but now it’s time for Dickson’s revenge.
Dickson has not had enough punts land inside the 20, 10, or 5 this season, but I envision that changing on Sunday and maybe we’ll get to see Seattle pull a fake back on the Rams this time just when they need it. But if we don’t see one punt from Dickson at all, that’ll do.
What are you visions this week?