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78% of Seahawks fans wouldn't trade Kenneth Walker III for a 2023 first round pick
Seaside Joe 1223: He matters and football fans can't wait to watch him play a whole lot during his first season
I have a notes folder in my phone that is simply titled “Ozark complaints.” It wasn’t long ago that I wrote a Seaside Joe post praising Ozark for its first season after a proper re-watch to help push me through finishing the series, but I had to call “mercy” a couple episodes into the third season because I gave up hope that the show would stop repeating the same idiotic tendencies and childish writing that was starting to make me feel embarrassed for the actors.
To give you one example, because I know you’re curious, one of my top-ranked Ozark complaints is “Too many murders!”
In the first season, and especially in the pilot and season finale episodes, Ozark did a masterful job of creating and building up characters that you wouldn’t expect to die, only to rip them away from you at surprising moments. Ozark did what I think all great shows and movies do, which is not only subvert your expectations based on what happens within the piece itself, but even more so based on what we’ve come to expect from everything else we’ve ever watched prior to hitting “Play.”
“Hey, you’re not supposed to kill that guy! Everything I knew going into watching this said that he was safe!”
Not that Game of Thrones was the first to do it on TV, not that Scream was the first to do it in film, but those are two examples in pop culture of “You can’t kill that person!” moments that I think inspired countless copycats in their respective genres for years to come. For a short while, Ozark managed to use this trope to its advantage. But already by season two, it was clear that they had no idea how to keep that ball in the air … so instead it seems like the writers decided to just kill the ball. And shoot that ball. And drown that ball. And put that ball in a woodchipper. “But we just met that ball!” “Screw all balls. People just want to see murders.” “Okay then, should we kill this ball? Fans would be shocked again!” “No… instead, give him a bad haircut.”
No, that’s not what I think the takeaway from season one should have been.
By the end of season two, I think Ozark had killed at least one character per episode, and that’s too many murders. One death in a show is sad. Two is a tragedy. But killing character after character is comedy. And if Ozark is meant to be a black comedy, then they forgot to write the jokes.
Before trying to catch up with Ozark and Stranger Things, I should have stuck to a rule that I set for myself a few years ago following the disappointing waste of time that was seasons two and three of True Detective: I don’t want to watch these longform shows past their first season anymore.
While comedies often need time to find a voice and a rhythm, usually making latter seasons better than their first campaigns (Seinfeld, Parks and Rec, etc.), a lot of these hour-long dramas seem to be good movie scripts that were stretched out to make a 10-episode season of a show, and then there’s so much effort that goes into making that year as good as it can be.
But if the show is a success, then it’s simply a mad dash to create the next season, to premiere it on a deadline, and to keep pushing out future episodes as fast as possible because the networks/streamers know that for the most part fans will watch anyway—even if it’s total, complete, utter fucking garbage.
Sadly, there is a lot of incentive to make the first season of a show fantastic. And almost no incentive to make the second season just as good as the first. If you don’t believe me, then let’s have this discussion again after the second season of Squid Game drops*.
*To be fair, South Korea has probably been making better content than U.S.A. for quite some time now. Maybe that’ll buck the trend.
I should have stuck to my one-season rule on Ozark and Stranger Things, but I know I’ll break it again. I recently finished Severance on Apple TV and that’s as good as anything I’ve watched all year, with a clear setup for season two. Hopefully that means that Severance is on as defined of a path as Dark, a rare example of a three-season show that had a consistent quality throughout. But Dark was always planned as a three-season show.
Admittedly, I know nothing about how Ozark was planned. But I do know how it turned out: Bad enough for me to start a notes folder of complaints, and that’s in spite of—or maybe because of—how good the first season turned out.
Last Friday, I created an eight-question survey for Seahawks fans, with the prompts all fitting into July’s theme of being “Rookie Month” here at Seaside Joe. A good rookie season for an NFL player can either turn out to be comedy or tragedy. A bad first season is common, but if the player was picked early enough then they will get as many opportunities to course correct as Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David.
For some players in the survey—the results of which I will reveal in two parts, beginning with today’s focus on Ken Walker III—like Drew Lock, Darrell Taylor, Jordyn Brooks, or Dee Eskridge, their rookie seasons are now behind them. They have opportunities to prove that the best is yet to come and not that they’ve shown their best cards already.
For some of Seattle’s young players, it will be true that the best has already happened. The trick for the Seahawks, or for any NFL team, is knowing when to stop second chances. But Monday’s focus is on a rookie who has the opportunity right now to produce a banger of a first season, and potentially with a lot of death and mayhem along the way if he breaks as many tackles as he did at Michigan State.
If you’re new to Seaside Joe today—Welcome!—A bit about us: This is a Seahawks newsletter that has gone out every single day for the last 3.5 years (edition 1223 means 1,223 days in a row) with a keen focus over the last year on how Seattle can rebuild themselves back into a Super Bowl contender through the draft. So we have no plans to stop the streak and will have weekly coverage of the top 2023 NFL Draft prospects, the development of the Seahawks’ core players, and the quarterback carousel that is sure to swing back around to Seattle. Hit subscribe for daily Seahawks coverage unlike anyone else’s Seahawks coverage.
First I will share the prompt, then I will give you the reason that I created the question, then I will reveal the poll results.
Which 2022 Seahawks draft pick are you the most HAPPY about as of right now?
Why ask this question:
In my lifetime of being an NFL fan, I’ve noticed the rise in interest in the sport that goes well beyond simply watching football. Fantasy football. Analytics. Salary cap experts and “moneyball” strategies for building a roster. Draft analysis. Rumors, drama, gossip, moral compasses. But I truly believe that the average fan doesn’t give much of a fuck about any of that.
What most fans want to know is, “Hey, when I get my three hours this Sunday, please give me something good to watch!”
That’s what brought fans together to watch sports in the first place. We just want to be entertained. Football gives us three hours per week (that’s 1.7-percent of your total week) and roughly only 50 hours per year to root for our favorite teams. That’s it. I consider everything else—the analytics, the fantasy nonsense, the gossip—distractions to get us from one set of three hours until the next set of three hours.
And I love the NFL Draft. I absolutely love the NFL Draft. But for most people it comes down to three months of talk for an event that I think would be just as exciting if the league simply released a memo of all seven rounds and UDFA signings on Sunday at 4 PM ET. Maybe even more exciting given all the chaos that would happen in the ensuing hours of finding out which teams drafted which players.
Nothing adequately replaces the feeling you get when watching NFL football and that includes (for me, at least) watching college football or USFL football, the latter of which I am rooting to succeed even if I haven’t felt compelled to follow it. I miss NFL football and when the Seahawks return, all that will matter is the answer to this question:
I’ve seen far too many smart football writers ruin their credibility by getting bogged down with the distractions and forgetting the most important aspect of any sports league: Do you wanna watch it? Because if people stop watching, there might as well be no sports league and you will have nothing left to write about.
I had meant to mention this in Sunday’s post about Ken Walker (part 10 in an offseason series about Seattle’s next backfield superstar) but the reason I believe it has been so silly for writers to shoot themselves in the proverbial feet with their anti-RB draft grades this year is that they seem to place all of their eggs into “looking smart” and give not a single zygote to the question, “Are the Seahawks going to be more watchable now?”
Or, “Do fans like the pick?”
Sure, they hedge their bets in their tweets: “Ah, you see, for I am not stupid and I know that Sir Walker is a good lad! ‘Tis only POSITIONAL VALUE that persuades your honor from bestowing an A+ onto thee!”
Except that it doesn’t really work that way, Chief. There is only a small handful of great quarterbacks in the league. Only a small handful of great left tackles. A small handful of shutdown cornerbacks. And also only a small handful of great running backs. It truly is the same as other positions in almost every meaningful way.
But fans don’t flock to adore their team’s running back because of fantasy football or EPA or because it’s one of the cheapest positions on the field. Fans praise running backs, and NBC/FOX/CBS/ESPN highlights players like Derrick Henry, Jonathan Taylor, and Nick Chubb on their broadcasts, because of one simple reason above all:
They literally hold and move the ball down the field! Sometimes to a greater degree than almost every other running back! And those that are special are almost always, ALWAYS, the first ones drafted in any given class!
You really have to do backflips to talk yourself out of being happy with the Ken Walker III pick if you’re a Seahawks fan, and one thing I know about the vast majority of people who spend all day online tweeting about analytics is that they can’t do any actual backflips. Or even a somersault.
But I know someone who can do some-assault, at least on a football field, and that’s Ken Walker III. A running back and a Seahawks draft pick who finished in second place in this poll question, only falling behind another rookie because as a top-10 pick, nobody wants to see Charles Cross labeled as a “bust.”
Answer: 59-percent of Seahawks fans are most happy with the Charles Cross pick, followed by 27.5-percent for Walker, and 5.3-percent for Boye Mafe
I am ecstatic to report that over 300 Seahawks fans voted in the Rookie Edition of our survey and over one-quarter of them picked Walker over a top-10 pick and an edge rusher who was selected before him.
It makes sense that three-fifths of fans would be most happy with any top-10 pick because most fans only see him as that: a top-10 pick. They aren’t necessarily thinking about whatever an “air raid offense” is or have any idea where Cross was projected to be drafted prior to day one, it really only matters that Seattle has added a blue chip prospect for the first time really since Bruce Irvin, if not actually since Russell Okung and Earl Thomas all the way back in 2010!
My vote would also be for Charles Cross because as I wrote all during draft season, and the reason why my first mock following the trade projected Cross to the Seahawks, it’s the perfect table-setting towards drafting a quarterback in 2023. But 83 out of 302 Seahawks fans voted that they’re most happy with the team drafting a running back in round two. I’ll say it again for those of you who have since started working on your somersaults:
Over one-quarter of Seahawks fans were most happy with Pete and John’s decision to draft Ken Walker III in round two.
That sentiment rang true in two other survey questions.
Question: Besides Charles Cross, which rookie will play the most offensive or defensive snaps in 2022?
Why ask this question:
One of the dumbest exercises that I can think of is a group of Seahawks fans arguing about how many yards or sacks or interceptions or touchdowns certain players will get in the upcoming season. Simply sitting around and projecting yards is not only a stupid, dumb waste of time, it is boring.
“Okay y’all, how many yards will DK Metcalf get this season?”
“I think he’ll have 1,100!” “Well, I think he’ll have 1,400.” “You’re both wrong, he’ll have 1,250!”
Great. Super fun, super interesting, glad we did this.
At the end of an exercise like that, the only thing that really matters is the three or four outlandish projections that were made and then making reasonable and valid arguments for why a player could do something wildly unexpected. The rest is just filler and has taken up your time for no good reason.
But a consensus opinion of playing time and value can help gain an understanding of strategy moving forward, as well as explain the decisions that were made on draft day. We know that Cross was drafted to be the Week 1 left tackle and barring injury, Cross shouldn’t leave the field in 2022. Everyone else not only has to compete for playing time, they’re entering camp behind some veteran who is desperate to keep them off of the field. Including Walker, but that didn’t stop fans from expecting to see a lot of him during his rookie campaign—a value that gets lost in the shuffle when discussing why a team would want to make a relatively safe choice at running back.
Answer: 41-percent of fans expect pick #41 to play the most snaps of any rookie besides Cross, followed by a tie for Coby Bryant and Abe Lucas
While nearly half of the vote was split between a potential starting right tackle and a potential starting outside cornerback, over 40-percent of Seahawks fans expect to see a heavy dose of Ken Walker III in 2022. And I would tend to agree because as I’ve been writing all offseason, Walker is an even better prospect today than Rashaad Penny was in 2018.
Given the probability that Penny won’t play 17 games (his career high in snaps is 253!!!) and the likelihood that Chris Carson won’t be healthy enough to make the roster, Walker’s selection as one of the only two backs in the 2022 NFL Draft worthy of being a second round pick makes even more sense.
The fact that so many experts tweeted out befuddlement that Seattle would choose a running back when they had signed Penny to a one-year contract and also had Carson on the final year of his deal, makes it seem like they might be “experts” in something other than football.
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Question: Even before his first season, would you trade Ken Walker III for a probable LATE 2023 first round pick?
Why ask this question:
When you ask a question like this one, often people will treat it more like an implication than they will as a query. As in, “What is Seaside Joe trying to say? That he wants to trade Walker?! Outlandish!!!”
My questions are never implications. They are only questions. I’m trying to gauge a general opinion or belief, not trying to put my beliefs onto anyone else. That’s what the survey is for: To get YOUR answers, not to get my own. I know mine.
Something similar happened after the 2018 season: I have always liked the Rashaad Penny pick. I was not ready to give up on him after one year. But I had a thought that I considered interesting, which is, “Would anyone trade Penny to the Ravens for Justin Tucker right now?”
This made a lot of fans upset. “How stupid do you have to be to ask if a team should trade a recent first round pick for a kicker?”
First of all, Tucker is not a normal kicker. He’s the best kicker in NFL history and he was only 30 at the time. Tucker could play at least another 10 years from today. But also, people keep telling me that running backs do not matter, so what would it matter to trade any running back for the best kicker of all-time?
But many people told me “No, you’re dumb. You’re stupid. You’re the idiotest idiot that ever idioted.” I wonder, if not for Penny’s late-season outburst in 2021, how many people still think I’m stupid for posing a question of Penny-for-Tucker in 2019.
How would you like Justin Tucker over Jason Myers over the last three years?
Here we are again, another highly-drafted running back for the Seahawks, and another chance to gauge how real it is to fans that “running backs don’t matter.” My theory is that is only a sentiment held by a very small percentage of fans but that it is overblown because of the nature of Twitter, like so many other things. Obviously if fans think that the Ken Walker pick was a bad one—like so many draft grades have implied that it is—then the answer to this question is an easy one:
Walker was a second round pick. A first round pick is a first round pick. And “running backs are replaceable and don’t matter,” right? It should be an easy “Yes” then, right?
Answer: 78-percent of Seahawks fans would not trade Ken Walker III for a late 2023 first round pick
You can keep trying to write a reality that says that running backs don’t matter. But to the fans who just want a few hours to escape reality every week by being entertained with athletic greatness, the answer couldn’t be more clear: Walker matters.
Subscribe and stay tuned to tomorrow’s Seaside Joe for the rest of the survey results!